Sunday, August 30, 2015

Meet Tom Drennan: An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Tom Drennan to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Tom writes the Thor McGraw Mystery series. Thor McGraw and the Ice Man Murder, the first book in the series, was released this past week.

Kathy: Thor McGraw has a “gift”. What made you decide to add a supernatural touch to your mystery?

TD: I started off in the SF and Fantasy genre and walked happily and with arms wide open into the mystery genre where I belong. The supernatural touch is the magic shamrock that stuck to my shoe along the way down the path.

Kathy: In Thor McGraw and the Ice Man Murder Thor has to deal with “the two things he dislikes most in life -- his annoying neighbor and a cats”. Cats are a staple in many cozy mysteries and are generally regarded quite favorably. In reality are you a cat person? Or would you prefer to keep your distance?

TD: I share a few things with Thor -- one being a FURocious allergy to cats. So I keep my distance. Though, I do enjoy writing about the little furballs!

Kathy: Have you ever had a truly annoying neighbor? Did that experience give fodder to writing Thor’s relationship with his neighbor?

TD: No one, including myself, has ever had a neighbor like Mrs. Charlotte Plum (from Thor McGraw and the Ice Man Murder). She is nosey, pushy, presumptuous, and in-your-face annoying. She’s such fun to write and makes me (and hopefully my readers) laugh!

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

TD: Mysteries are what I enjoy the most. What better genre is there to deliver a clever puzzle and a good laugh?

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

TD: I’ve done some science fiction in the past.

Kathy: Tell us about your series

TD: I could not hope to describe the series better than the incomparable Sharon Shinn, author of the Elemental Blessings series, does for my back cover blurb… “A dad, a cat, an unsolved case, and a fresh murder all combine in a charming froth of a mystery by Tom Drennan. Add in a tenacious cop, a beautiful blonde, and a supernatural family gift for crime-solving -- or is it a curse? -- and you have this fun and fast-paced debut novel.” The series promises to explore Thor’s relationship with his young daughter, his ex-wife, and, of course, Cheops, the cat -- all the while honing Thor’s crime solving skills. There will be mysteries to solve, a tiny zap of the supernatural, and lots of laughs along the way!

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

TD: Sabrina (Bree) McGraw. She’s Thor’s daughter and she steals most of the scenes where she appears. When writing, if I think things are slowing down all I have to do is put Sabrina on stage and things happen. Much of what Thor does is motivated by his love for his daughter and his need to protect her. Plus, she’s loosely based on my fifth child so how could she not be my favorite character?

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for the series?

TD: I first started writing Thor McGraw a long ways back, when I was a younger man. “Write what you know” was the familiar adage of the day. I had spent a few years getting a post graduate degree from Boston College and had loved my days at the college and in the city. Fast forward ten or fifteen years and I was back in my hometown, the father of five children whom I absolutely adored. “Write what you know.” And so Thor McGraw was born. As I write Thor, I draw inspiration from Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, with a touch of Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle, and there’s a dash of Zachary Levi from the TV series Chuck. But, there’s a little bit of me in Thor–celebrating my children, embracing a good laugh, bumbling about enough to make my wife and friends slap their heads in disbelief, and sneezing when I am anywhere near a cat!

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

TD: Apart from being a pretty good mystery this book has a lot of fun and laughter. As an Irishman I know fun and a good laugh are meant to be shared.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

TD: Homer - How many tales could he tell us that have been otherwise lost forever?

A. A. Milne - what a wonderful mind, so clever and enchanting!

Louise Penny -- if I could invite fictitious characters Inspector Gamache would be at the top of the list!

J. K. Rowling -- what imagination!

Kathy: What are currently reading?

TD: I usually read several things at the same time. Currently..

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

TD: I enjoy mysteries, superheroes, baseball, and a good laugh

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

TD: Licorice Pipes for celebrating special events

Caffeine Free Diet Coke (I do not drink and I do not smoke, but open a vein and pour in the soda!)

Popcorn for watching MidSomer Murders or Foyle’s War or Agatha Christie

Small candies, hidden and then doled out sparsely, but with great love to my grandchild

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series of a new series?

TD: Yes, there is a second Thor McGraw book in the works. You’ll see it in 2016!

Kathy: What’s your favorite think about being an author?

TD: The people! I love my writing group, the Alternate Historians -- Rett MacPherson, Laurell K. Hamilton, Deborah Millitello, Marella Sands, Sharon Shinn, and Mark Sumner. Such accomplished writers! And I enjoy working with such talented artists as my cover designer, Scarlett Rugers! And best of all I love my readers!


Tom has generously offered a $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky reader. To be eligible simply leave a comment on this blog post telling us if you'd like to have a supernatural gift. Leave your comment and e-mail address no later than 11:59 pm EDT Wednesday, September 2 in order to qualify.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Be My Banshee by Joyce and Jim Lavene. This book is the first in their new Purple Door Detective Agency Mystery series.

A purple door often signifies that a witch resides inside, and thus is the case with the Purple Door Detective Agency. Sunshine Merryweather is a witch who is seeking to add another magical partner to her agency since her lover and business partner was savagely murdered. Aine is a member of the beane sidhe, also known as banshees, who has come to the agency for help finding the last member of the O'Neill family. With the insistence of Mr. Bad (not his real name), another agency partner, Aine and Sunshine agree to work together to try to solve both of their problems.  As fate has it, the detective investigating the murder in question is none other than Aine's O'Neill. Will O'Neill be able to see Aine for who she really is? Will Sunshine discover who killed her lover and wreak vengeance upon him? Will we find out who or what Mr. Bad really is?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Spotlight & Giveaway - Tropical Depression

Tropical Depression

by Jeff Lindsay

August 25 Book Blast



NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Jeff Lindsay mastered suspense with his wildly addictive DEXTER series. Before that, however, there was former cop and current burnout Billy Knight. When a hostage situation turns deadly, Billy loses everything—his wife, his daughter, and his career. Devastated, he heads to Key West to put down his gun and pick up a rod and reel as a fishing boat captain. But former co-worker Roscoe McAuley isn't ready to let Billy rest.

When Roscoe tells Billy that someone murdered his son, Billy sends him away. When Roscoe himself turns up dead a few weeks later, however, Billy can't keep from getting sucked back into Los Angeles, and the streets that took so much from him.

Billy's investigations into the death of a former cop, and his son, will take him up to the highest echelons of the LAPD, finding corruption at every level. It puts him on a collision course with the law, with his past, with his former fellow officers, and with the dark aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement. Jeff Lindsay's considerable storytelling gifts are on full display, drawing the reader in with a mesmerizing style and a case with more dangerous blind curves than Mulholland Drive.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural
Published by: Diversion Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2015 (Re-Release)
Number of Pages: 256
ISBN: 2940151536677
Series: Billy Knight Thrillers, Book 1
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

Somebody once said Los Angeles isn’t really a city but a hundred suburbs looking for a city. Every suburb has a different flavor to it, and every Angeleno thinks he knows all about you when he knows which one you live in. But that’s mostly important because of the freeways.

Life in L.A. is centered on the freeway system. Which freeway you live nearest is crucial to your whole life. It determines where you can work, eat, shop, what dentist you go to, and who you can be seen with.

I needed a freeway that could take me between the two murder sites, get me downtown fast, or up to the Hollywood substation to see Ed Beasley.

I’d been thinking about the Hollywood Freeway. It went everywhere I needed to go, and it was centrally located, which meant it connected to a lot of other freeways. Besides, I knew a hotel just a block off the freeway that was cheap and within walking distance of the World News, where Roscoe had been cut down. I wanted to look at the spot where it happened. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t learn anything, but it was a starting place.

And sometimes just looking at the place where a murder happened can give you ideas about it; cops are probably a little more levelheaded than average, but most of them will agree there’s something around a murder scene that, if they weren’t cops, they would call vibes.

So Hollywood it was. I flagged down one of the vans that take you to the rental car offices.

By the time I got fitted out with a brand new matchbox—no, thank you, I did not want a special this-week-only deal on a Cadillac convertible; that’s right, cash, I didn’t like credit cards; no, thank you, I did not want an upgrade of any kind for only a few dollars more; no, thank you, I didn’t want the extra insurance—it was dark and I was tired. I drove north on the San Diego Freeway slowly, slowly enough to have at least one maniac per mile yell obscenities at me. Imagine the nerve of me, going only sixty in a fifty-five zone.

The traffic was light. Pretty soon I made my turn east on the Santa Monica. I was getting used to being in L.A. again, getting back into the rhythm of the freeways. I felt a twinge of dread as I passed the exit for Sepulveda Boulevard, but I left it behind with the lights of Westwood.

The city always looks like quiet countryside from the Santa Monica Freeway. Once you are beyond Santa Monica and Westwood, you hit a stretch that is isolated from the areas it passes through. You could be driving through inner-city neighborhoods or country-club suburbs, but you’ll never know from the freeway.

That all changes as you approach downtown. Suddenly there is a skyline of tall buildings, and if you time it just right, there are two moons in the sky. The second one is only a round and brightly lit corporate logo on a skyscraper, but if it’s your first time through you can pass some anxious moments before you figure that out. After all, if any city in the world had two moons, wouldn’t it be L.A.?

And suddenly you are in one of the greatest driving nightmares of all recorded history. As you arc down a slow curve through the buildings and join the Harbor Freeway you are flung into the legendary Four-Level. The name is misleading, a slight understatement. It really seems like a lot more than four levels.

The closest thing to driving the Four-Level is flying a balloon through a vicious dogfight with the Red Baron’s Flying Circus. The bad guys—and they are all bad guys in the Four-Level—the bad guys come at you from all possible angles, always at speeds just slightly faster than the traffic is moving, and if you do not have every move planned out hours in advance you’ll be stuck in the wrong lane looking for a sign you’ve already missed and before you know it you will find yourself in Altadena, wondering what happened.

I got over into the right lane in plenty of time and made the swoop under several hundred tons of concrete overpass, and I was on the Hollywood Freeway. Traffic started to pick up after two or three exits, and in ten minutes I was coming off the Gower Street ramp and onto Franklin.

There’s a large hotel right there on Franklin at Gower. I’ve never figured out how they break even. They’re always at least two-thirds empty. They don’t even ask if you have a reservation. They are so stunned that you’ve found their hotel they are even polite for the first few days. There’s also a really lousy coffee shop right on the premises, which is convenient if you keep a cop’s schedule. I guessed I was probably going to do that this trip.

A young Chinese guy named Allan showed me up to my room. It was on the fifth floor and looked down into the city, onto Hollywood Boulevard just two blocks away. I left the curtain open. The room was a little bit bigger than a gas station rest room, but the decor wasn’t quite as nice.

It was way past my bedtime back home, but I couldn’t sleep. I left my bag untouched on top of the bed and went out.

The neighborhood at Franklin and Gower is schizophrenic. Two blocks up the hill, towards the famous Hollywood sign, the real estate gets pretty close to seven figures. Two blocks down the hill and it’s overpriced at three.

I walked straight down Gower, past a big brick church, and turned west. I waved hello to Manny, Moe, and Jack on the corner: it had been a while. There was still a crowd moving along the street. Most of them were dressed like they were auditioning for the role of something your mother warned you against.

Some people have this picture of Hollywood Boulevard. They think it’s glamorous. They think if they can just get off the pig farm and leave Iowa for the big city, all they have to do is get to Hollywood Boulevard and magic will happen. They’ll be discovered.

The funny thing is, they’re right. The guys that do the discovering are almost always waiting in the Greyhound station. If you’re young and alone, they’ll discover you. The magic they make happen might not be what you had in mind, but you won’t care about that for more than a week. After that you’ll be so eager to please you’ll gladly do things you’d never even had a name for until you got discovered. And a few years later when you die of disease or overdose or failure to please the magic-makers, your own mother won’t recognize you. And that’s the real magic of Hollywood. They take innocence and turn it into money and broken lives.

I stopped for a hot dog, hoping my sour mood would pass. It didn’t. I got mustard on my shirt. I watched a transvestite hooker working on a young Marine. The jarhead was drunk enough not to know better. He couldn’t believe his luck. I guess the hooker felt the same way.

The hot dog started to taste like old regrets. I threw the remaining half into the trash and walked the last two blocks to Cahuenga.

The World News is open twenty-four hours a day, and there’s always a handful of people browsing. In a town like this there’s a lot of people who can’t sleep. I don’t figure it’s their conscience bothering them.

I stood on the sidewalk in front of the place. There were racks of specialty magazines for people interested in unlikely things. There were several rows of out-of-town newspapers. Down at the far end of the newsstand was an alley. Maybe three steps this side of it there was a faint rusty brown stain spread across the sidewalk and over the curb into the gutter. I stepped over it and walked into the alley.

The alley was dark, but that was no surprise. The only surprise was that I started to feel the old cop adrenaline starting up again, just walking down a dark alley late at night. Suddenly I really wanted this guy. I wanted to find whoever had killed Roscoe and put him in a small cell with a couple of very friendly body-builders.

The night air started to feel charged. It felt good to be doing cop work again, and that made me a little mad, but I nosed around for a minute anyway. I wasn’t expecting to find anything, and I didn’t. By getting down on one knee and squinting I did find the spot where the rusty stains started. There was a large splat, and then a trickle leading back out of the alley to the stain on the sidewalk.

I followed the trickle back to the big stain and stood over it, looking down.

Blood is hard to wash out. But sooner or later the rain, the sun, and the passing feet wear away the stains. This stain was just about all that was left of Roscoe McAuley and when it was gone there would be nothing left of him at all except a piece of rock with his name on it and a couple of loose memories. What he was, what he did, what he thought and cared about—that was already gone. All that was hosed away a lot easier than blood stains—a lot quicker, too.

“I’m sorry, Roscoe,” I said to the stain. It didn’t answer. I walked back up the hill and climbed into a bed that was too soft and smelled of mothballs and cigarettes.


Author Bio:

authorJeff Lindsay is the award-winning author of the seven New York Times bestselling Dexter novels upon which the international hit TV show Dexter is based. His books appear in more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies around the world. Jeff is a graduate of Middlebury College, Celebration Mime Clown School, and has a double MFA from Carnegie Mellon. Although a full-time writer now, he has worked as an actor, comic, director, MC, DJ, singer, songwriter, composer, musician, story analyst, script doctor, and screenwriter.


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Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Black Cat Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Elaine Faber to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Elaine writes the Black Cat Mystery series. Black Cat and the Accidental Angel is the most recent book in the series.

Kathy: I'm a firm believer that black cats are good luck and I currently share my home with 2 of them, Aleister and Licorice. Aside from the fictional Black Cat (Thumper), do you have a black cat in your life?

EF: At present, my cat, Boots, is the identical twin for Thumper (black with four white feet and a white bib). We used to raise red, black and tortoiseshell Persians in the early 1970’s.

Kathy: Is there a different process when writing from the point of view of a cat?

EF: In addition to his feline side, Thumper has a very human side. His sense of humor comes through in many of his insights and comments. He is probably a lot like me.

Kathy: I was so pleased to read that a portion of the sales proceeds goes to animal rescue programs. How did this decision come about? Would you like to tell us about a favorite local rescue organization?

EF: Caring for animals is very dear to my heart. In addition to local humane societies and animal rescue organizations, we donate to Cat House on the Kings – a central California no kill cat rescue facility that serves over 700 cats, provides neutering and spaying and places animal in new homes.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

EF: Authors write the type of story they like to read. Cozy mysteries appeal to me. (no extreme violence, profanity or explicit sex). We see too much sex, violence and profanity in movies and on TV and certainly too much violence in real life. Cozy readers want to forget their troubles and spend time in a town where they would like to live, with people they would like to meet. Throw in a cat that helps solve mysteries and you have the ideal cozy mystery

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

EF: Not another genre, but another series (see below).

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

EF: Black Cat’s Legacy is a tale of intrigue and murder with a touch of whimsy. When Thumper, the tuxedo cat with six toes on each foot meets Kimberlee, he knows that with the aid of his ancestors’ memories, he must help her solve her father’s cold case murder.

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. Thumper accompanies the family to Texas where Kimberlee’s grandmother plans to choose a new beneficiary to her million dollar horse ranch. Kimberlee discovers a false charity and embezzling plot. Thumper uncovers the attorney’s plan to kill grandmother before she can change her will. Can he stop a killer? He has to try, even though he doesn’t like grandmother very much. She is family, after all.

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel. Left behind following an MVA, Thumper (Black Cat) loses his memory. He and his soulmate find refuge on an Emu ranch and vineyard. Progressively serious pranks plague the father, already fighting bankruptcy and endanger his daughter. Angel’s life hangs in the balance when she tries to save the child and Thumper realizes there are more important things than knowing your own name.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

EF: How can you have a favorite child? I love them all the same, but differently. Thumper is funny, with a strength that makes him a true hero. His soulmate, Noe-Noe (Angel) has a biting wit. Kimberlee has many weaknesses, and struggles to become whole following divorce. But, Mrs. Odboddy, bless her heart, has an opinion about anything and everything and isn’t afraid to share it. Her ill-conceived courage is often not well thought out, but oh, so funny. She’ll have you rolling in the aisles. (Published next spring). I guess I just love them all.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

EF: Only that I hoped folks would read and enjoy my stories.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

EF: Agatha Christie, John Steinbeck, Ellery Queen and Will Rogers. What a conversation that would be!

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

EF: Agatha Christie – an anthology of several of her books.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

EF: I volunteer at the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shop where high end donated goods are sold and proceeds go to cancer research.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

EF: Milk, graham crackers, gummy bears and stewed tomatoes. (Not necessarily used in the same dish).

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

EF: I’m working on two stories set during WWII. Mrs. Odboddy – Home Town Patriot and Mrs. Odboddy – Cross Country Courier. Elderly Mrs. Odboddy not only sees herself as a warrior on the home front, but also the scourge of the underworld -- fighting conspiracies and spies both real and imaginary. It is a cozy adventure-mystery with a human protagonist this time. (Of course, there is a cat…but she doesn’t help solve the mysteries).

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

EF: I love to write. It is a great reward when people tell me how much they enjoy reading my stories

Black Cat’s Legacy

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer http://tinyurylcom/q3qrgyu

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Wouldn't it be Deadly by D.E. Ireland. This book is the first in the Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mystery series and was published last year. D.E. Ireland takes the wonderful characters created by George Bernard Shaw and expounds on their lives after the Embassy Ball in 1913. Higgins and Colonel Pickering have gone on two month tour of Spain, studying dialects. Upon their return to London Higgins discovers that Eliza has become the assistant of Maestro Nepommuck, giving diction lessons herself. Not only that, Nepommuck has been advertising is was he who transformed this Cockney flower girl into a lady. Seeking to give the blighter his comeuppance, Higgins delves into the Hungarians shady past-and gives the information to the papers. What Higgins didn't expect was for someone to then murder the Maestro and for Eliza to find the body! Now Higgins is the number one suspect and Eliza is out to clear his name.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Spotlight - Magic and Macaroons

I'd like to shine a spotlight on a July release: Magic and Macaroons by Bailey Cates. This book is the 5th book in the Magical Bakery Mystery series. I really love this series, but confess that although I own all of them...I'm behind in reading them!

From the back cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Some Enchanted Eclair comes a tale of delicious desserts and supernatural sleuthing. ...

For magical baker Katie Lightfoot, the only way to beat the Savannah summer heat is to whip up some really cool treats for the Honeybee Bakery's patrons. But when a meeting of the spellbook club is interrupted by a stranger collapsing on the floor of her shop, mumbling something about a voodoo talisman, Katie drops everything to begin investigating.

Her search for answers quickly leads her into a dangerous blend of Savannah's most potent witches, a powerful missing charm-and a killer who seems to be targeting the city's magical community. And with the case getting hotter by the second, Katie will have to work fast to track down the talisman and the killer before the timer runs out. ...

Recipes included.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Musubi Interview and Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Frankie Bow to the blog today. Frankie writes the Molly Barda Mystery series. The Musubi Murder, just released this month, is the first book in the series.

Kathy: When many people think of Hawaii they think of a perfect vacation filled with beaches and glorious weather. What made you choose it for a collegiate murder mystery?

FB: You’re right—most people do think of Hawaii as a vacation spot, which isn’t a bad thing, as our economy depends on tourism. But we’re also ethnically diverse, geographically isolated , and very expensive. My protagonist, Professor Molly Barda, is a mainland transplant. The reader can experience adjusting to life in Hawaii as Molly tries Spam musubi, learns to take her shoes off before entering someone’s house, and tries to understand Pidgin.

Kathy: Having worked on a college campus for many years, I know the intrigue and drama that can be found there. Have you had similar experiences and did they influence The Musubi Murder?

FB: First of all, I should state that Mahina State University is entirely fictional, and no one in the book is based on anyone I know. Having said that, I can say that at least one scandalous subplot in The Musubi Murder is based on a real news item. In that case, an administrator was sent to prison. As far as the characters, some of them may have elements of people I have met.

Kathy: A grisly prank causes the college problems. Did you pull pranks, not necessarily grisly ones, when you were younger...or now?

FB: One time, when I was very young and working at my first industry job, I had a sort of friendly rivalry with a coworker. I had an undergraduate degree from a state school, and my friend would go around flaunting his posh MBA. So to demonstrate the value of my degree, I suppose, I sneaked over to his workstation when he wasn’t there and edited his prompt (we were using a UNIX system). The next time he went to start his computer, he got an onscreen message telling him that his drive was being reformatted and all of his files were being deleted. It was very realistic and I was rather proud of my handiwork. I intercepted him as he was racing over to our IT department and told him the truth. He found the whole thing far less entertaining than I did. Bill, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

FB: I started reading Agatha Christie when I was around ten years old, and I’ve always liked mysteries with a touch of humor. I love Sarah Caudwell’s Hilary Tamar mysteries, which are beautifully written and hilarious, and describe all manner of bad behavior without ever getting graphic. I prefer it when the author draws a polite curtain over explicit sex or gore.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

FB: Yes, a children’s series.

The Adventures of Alice Mongoose and Alistair Rat is part of the Molly Barda universe. Molly has an Alice Mongoose t-shirt and is a fan of the books.

The mongoose was brought in to Hawaii to get rid of the rats in the cane fields. That didn’t work out, because the rats were nocturnal, so the mongoose were asleep when the rats were out and about.

Alice Mongoose takes a ship to Hawaii to seek her fortune, and is horrified to find out on the way over that her job is to find and kill rats. Alice isn’t cut out to be a killer. She wears pearls and gloves and a print dress and a little cloche hat, and she loves to sit down at a properly-set table to a meal of eggs.

The first rat Alice meets in Hawaii is Alistair. She’s heard all about how rats are vicious and aggressive, but Alistair is very polite and gentle and he wears a little monocle, and is very nearsighted so he doesn’t realize at first that Alice is a mongoose, and they become friends.

I'm working with a very talented illustrator to "reissue" the work of Mary Pfaff, the (fictional) author of the Alice Mongoose books. A percentage of the sales will go to Three Ring Ranch, an exotic-animal sanctuary on the Big Island.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

FB: The Musubi Murder is Book One of the Molly Barda mysteries. Waiting in the wings are: 
Molly Barda and the Cursed Canoe
Molly Barda and the Black Thumb
Molly Barda and the Invasive Species
Molly Barda and the Blessed Event
And a prequel, tentatively titled The Case of the Defunct Adjunct.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

FB: Rather than any single character, I like the friendship and interaction among the three main characters, Molly, biology professor Emma Nakamura, and newsblogger / part time composition instructor Patrick Flanagan. They needle one another constantly, but there is a very deep affection among the three of them.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

FB: I write what I like to read: Mysteries with humor, no explicit sex or violence, but not completely on the “sweet” end of the spectrum. Sue Grafton’s books are a good example.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

FB: I sent the manuscript to Five Star, which has a great selection of classic and traditional mysteries, and fortunately they liked it and picked it up!

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

FB: Sarah Caudwell, Dorothy Parker, E.F. Benson, and P.G. Wodehouse. I would listen to the conversation and probably not say a word the whole time.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

FB: I’m reading The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis. It’s set at Oxford University, and has academic intrigue as well as time travel into the Middle Ages.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

FB: I have to admit that writing has squeezed out a lot of my other interests. I have been known to leave my computer on occasion to attend a swing dance or tango event.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

FB: Spam, Spam, Spam, and Spam. Seriously, we have doomsday-prepper amounts of Spam in our pantry.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being a mystery author?

FB: After a frustrating day at work, I can sit down in front of my computer, pull up my word processor, and ask myself, “OK, who needs to die?”


Frankie Bow

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Friday, August 14, 2015

The Last Confederate Gold - Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

The Last Confederate Gold

By George Burris, Staff Reporter

From Give ‘Em Pumpkin to Talk About

By Joyce and Jim Lavene

I’ve lived in Misty River, Virginia all my life. I’ve heard stories since I was a small child about missing Confederate gold that might or might not have saved the South’s cause.

It was this reporter’s information that a wagon of gold collected from Confederate sympathizers inspired many treasure hunters to take up picks and shovels.

The event takes place in 1861 as Jefferson Davis decides to move the capitol of the Southern States from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia. This was in part to keep Virginia from leaving the cause and in part to keep the roughly estimated $30 million in gold from falling into Federal hands as Sherman marched through the South.

The money was taken secretly by wagonload during the dark night. Outriders protected the already heavily guarded wagons but several were reported lost during the trek.

One of these wagons was guarded by three men from Misty River. The three – led by the legendary Big Mike Denning – were close to home when they were ambushed by rogue Union forces. They barely fought them back and took shelter at a friendly farm for the night.

During that long night, the three men discussed hiding the gold until they were reunited with other members of their unit that were supposed to follow. They hit upon a plan to do just that, and with the help of the farmer, they hid the gold and lay claim to a large tract of land they swore to share.

These were trying times of hunger and fear. No one was sure what would happen or how the war would end. The three men stayed close together, watching over the treasure that could help their cause.

They didn’t realize the passage of time until a rumor was heard that Robert E. Lee was surrendering to the Union Army. Already there was word that President Jeff Davis had fled the capitol in Richmond. No one knew what was true. There were no newspapers to report, no TV or radio to tell people who sheltered in their homes that it was safe to come out.

The war ended. The gold was never found. Treasure hunters have searched far and wide for it, mostly deciding that it is to be found on the Denning farm. But if pick and shovel could reveal it, that moment has not happened.

I ask how many more will die before this elusive gold is found and recovered – if ever? Big Mike Denning and his comrades did a good job hiding their deed.

I have interviewed the present owners of the farm, Elizabeth and Thomas Denning. They tell me countless treasure hunters visit their farm each year. Each one is a nuisance and they ask that they stop trying to find the gold.

“If it was here, “ Tommy Denning said. “Someone would’ve found it by now. In the meantime, this land is private property and anyone who doesn’t respect that might find himself with a load of buckshot coming his way!”



Give 'Em Pumpkin to Talk About by Joyce and Jim Lavene
The First Pumpkin Patch Mystery

Sarah Tucker has returned to Misty Falls, Virginia in order to sell her grandparents property; property that was once a thriving pumpkin farm and a place of joy. Now the property is an overgrown, dilapidated shell of its once vibrant self. Misty River Pumpkin Patch was abandoned by the family when Sarah's grandparents vanished without a trace. Returning to a place of wonderful memories, a place she hasn't been since she was 12, brings more questions than answers and Sarah decides to look into the old investigation and try to discover what really happened to her grandparents.

While Give 'Em Pumpkin to Talk About is the first in the series, readers may recognize some of the characters. How is that possible? This book is a spin off from the Peggy Lee Garden Mystery series. Like any good spin off, Give 'Em Pumpkin to Talk About is a solid book in its own right and is no way dependent on the series from which it evolved. In fact, you won't miss anything if you haven't read the Peggy Lee books. If you have, you'll see some familiar faces.

I enjoyed this "perhaps you can go home again" novel. They say you can't go home again, and perhaps you can't; at least not back to the way things were. That doesn't mean that you can't go back and make things different and even better! Old thoughts and dreams resurface as does the possibility to take a chance and do something new, all the while trying to solve more than one mystery. In addition to the great character dilemmas we are also faced with many a mystery. The original, the disappearance of Sarah's grandparents, the current murders, and the lost confederate gold! The Lavenes handle them all, masterfully weaving them together into a taut mystery!

Farm Fresh Recipes Included.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Crushed Velvet Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Diane Vallere to the blog today. Diane writes the Material Witness Mystery series and Crushed Velvet, the second book in the series, was just released this month!

Kathy: Polyester Monroe is about to open her fabric and notions shop, Material Girl. Do you sew?

DV: I do sew, more so now that I'm writing Poly's story than I did before that. Even when I go through dry spells, I sew in October when it's time to make costumes.

Kathy: Although I don't really sew I do enjoy looking through notions and using them in craft projects. Do you have a favorite notion?

DV: I can't explain why, but I love the notions aisle in the fabric store. I especially love all of the colorful zippers and seam binding. And racks of colorful thread. And buttons! Really, anything small and colorful.

Kathy: Fabric is fun. Do you have a favorite fabric?

DV: Lately I've been enjoying 100% cotton. Once it goes through the washer and dryer and is shrunk, I know it's always going to be the same size. Plus, it's easy to work with because it doesn't have a lot of stretch. Lastly, because of quilting, there's a huge assortment of whimsical patterns available.

Kathy: Poly's friend, Genevieve, owns a local tea shop. Are you a fan of tea? Do you have a favorite tea?

DV: I enjoy tea now and then. I generally drink Darjeeling, but mostly because I like saying the word.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

DV: Long before I knew there was an actual term for them, I enjoyed mysteries that had characters who I'd like to spend time with, ones who felt like regular everyday people. I liked falling into their worlds, experiencing their worlds, and reading about their pets. I've also always loved mysteries, having been a big fan of Trixie Belden, Connie Blair, Nancy Drew, and The Three Investigators, and cozies felt like grown up versions of these books.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

DV: I've written women's fiction, middle grade, and a more traditional mystery, but all are unpublished. When I have the time, I'd like to do the work on them and expand into other genres, but for now, I'm enjoying the cozy world.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

DV: The Material Witness series features Polyester Monroe, who inherits the fabric store where she was born. When she decides to reopen the long-closed store, it gives her life new purpose and opens the rest of her world up to possibilities.

The Madison Night series features an interior decorator who specializes in mid-century modern and watches Doris Day movies to teach herself the design styles of the fifties and sixties. Madison is in her late forties, has shut out the world after being hurt too many times, but is learning that it's never too late to take chances.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

DV: This is a very tough question to answer, and I’m not sure that I can! I will say that I really like writing Vaughn McMichael and how he and Poly interact.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

DV: I used to pass an old fabric store on my drive home from work. It was called House of a Thousand Fabrics. It looked like it had been around since the fifties. I couldn’t tell if it was open or not (apparently it was but has since closed), but I used to wonder what kind of treasures were inside, and then I thought, what if it had been closed but nobody ever emptied it out? That became Land of a Thousand Fabrics, the store that Poly inherited.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

DV: Probably a bit of vanity. I had so much fun writing books and creating characters that I wanted them to find an audience.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

DV: Meg Cabot, Mildred Wirt Benson, Sue Grafton, and Judy Blume. And I’d ask Kendel Lynn, who is also an author, to co-host. Is that cheating?

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

DV: Really exciting stuff: Public Relations for Dummies and Web Design Demystified. I need a cozy—stat!

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

DV: I love watching old movies, especially when I get to see them in theaters. And reading, of course! I go through phases of sewing, decorating, sketching. I love wandering through antique malls and flea markets, looking for midcentury treasures. And for quiet time, I like to go to the beach early in the morning when nobody else is there.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

DV: Oregano, popcorn, Japanese gyoza, and peanut butter.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

DV: There will be at least one more Material Witness book, Silk Stalkings, which comes out in August 2016. In February, I have a new series called the Costume Shop Cozy Series. The first book is A Disguise to Die For.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

DV: I love the days when I get completely lost in the story and forget about everything else. That’s when I know something is working!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Spellcasting in Silk by Juliet Blackwell. This book is the 7th in her Witchcraft Mystery series, one of my all time favorite series! All is going well for Lily Ivory. She has a thriving business, her new romance is blossoming, and she's more accepting of herself and the friendships offered her. However, her quiet happiness is dimmed with the arrival of her friend, San Francisco Homicide detective Carlos Romero who requests her help with a botanica gone wild. Add to the problem, the curandera owner is jailed for her "part" in the suicide of a customer and her granddaughter has disappeared. But was it suicide, or was it murder? And what does the death of one of Maya's elders for her oral history project have to do with it? When it comes to the "special" missing girl I find I agree with Oscar, "She's trouble, is what she is." Yet Lily sees herself in young Selena and will do everything she can to help. Trouble is brewing, not only with the curandera, but a certain green eyed monster is trying to emerge as Sailor gets special training from his Rom "cousin" and Lily tries to get information from one time boyfriend, reporter Max Carmichael.  Will Lily be able to get her normal happiness back?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Rosie Genova - Guest Post - Review - Giveaway

A Guest Post  by Rosie Genova

So often when friends and family read an author’s books—particularly one written in the first person—they make the assumption that the author and the narrator/main character are one and the same. When my mom read my first book, an unpublished romantic comedy, she learned that the main character’s dad had died, and that the young woman’s mother was dating a man who owned several car dealerships. As she was reading, she turned to my father with a satisfied air and said: “Hah! She’s killed you and given me a rich boyfriend.”

Um, no, Mom. That’s not how it works.

In interviews though, I am often asked how much of my own experience informs that of my main character, Victoria Rienzi. Like Victoria, I worked in Italian restaurants. I appreciate good food. I love the Jersey shore, listen to Bruce Springsteen and Frank Sinatra, and share her terror of boardwalk rides. But that’s about it. Here’s where my amateur sleuth and I part ways:

· I do not, under any circumstances, chase down murderers. That’s why God gave us 911.

· I am a bit—okay, quite a bit—older than Victoria.

· My father does not have a gambling problem and my mother does not have big hair. At least not now.

· I do not, alas, have two hunky guys vying for my attention. Those days are long gone, gentle readers.

· Her jokes, her real estate (a seaside cottage) and her legs are all much better than my own.

When I’m in the process of writing, however, in some ways, I become my narrator. I live inside her head, think her thoughts and feel her feelings. I get afraid when a suspect is on to her. I’m triumphant when she works out a piece of the mystery. And yes, I get a little vicarious thrill when those cute guys are fighting over me…I mean her.

But after I hit “save” and shut down that computer, the spell is broken. It’s something of a relief to go back to being Rosie, whose only puzzle to solve is the crossword and whose biggest mystery is that ever burning question: What am I going to make for dinner?


A Dish Best Served Cold by Rosie Genova
The Third Italian Kitchen Mystery

A storm is brewing on the Jersey Shore and soon Vic Rienzi finds herself in its midst. An old family friend, who also happens to be a dissolute, unwanted semi-nuisance, tells Vic he has stories to tell for her mysteries, but before he is able to tell anything he is found dead. Is he simply a victim of the hurricane, or a victim of someone who needed his silence? While most people believe his death was merely an accident, Vic and her sister in law start following a lead Stinky Pete gave; the name of Vic's great uncle. Vic and SIL soon uncover a family history with mob connections...connections that might still be alive with a desire to remain undetected.

Everyone has secrets. What lengths would you go to to protect yours? Secrets, and the protection thereof, are at the heart of A Dish Best Served Cold. Secrets come in all types, from family secrets to secrets kept from a prospective romantic partner, and more. In this book we are also are witness to the very protective nature of family; keeping secrets to save face and the family's good name and/or attacking those who threaten to expose the secrets of those you love. And secrets can also be a motive for murder, but which ones?

Rosie Genova has delivered another delicious addition to her Italian Kitchen mystery series. I'm once again transported to the Jersey Shore where I can feel the salt breeze on my skin and smell the oregano and simmering sauces emanating from Casa Lido. Genova captures the essence of family, the good and the bad, and combines it with a complex mystery. Genova deftly melds a great ensemble cast of fully developed characters with humor in a fully realized locale and creates a fun, cozy read. Despite a hurricane and murder, I want to spend time with Vic and enjoy Nonna's Bolognese!

Italian Recipes Included

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