Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Three C’s of Cozy Mystery… Guest Post & Giveaway

The Three C’s of Cozy Mystery… 
By Anna Celeste Burke

You’ll find the three C’s of classic COZY MYSTERY in our collection of stories, Happy Homicides 2. I suppose you could argue about what the three C’s are, but for me there are three hallmarks of the subgenre that keep me eager to read more.

Crime, of course. That includes “murder most foul,” as you’d expect to find in any collection of cozy mysteries. As advertised on the lovely cover, crimes of the heart figure into many of the stories in this anthology timed for release on Valentine’s Day. That “the course of true love never did run smooth,” is an old story told over and over in real life and in fiction since Shakespeare penned those words. Love gone wrong is almost always at the top of the list as a motive when any murder investigation starts. Sometimes love goes right, too, though. You’ll find a bit of that here in this collection as well.

Charming Characters, too. [Hope you don’t think that counts as two C’s] Likeable, sometimes quirky characters are another classic feature of the cozy mystery and you’ll find plenty of them in this collection. Characters with different ages, backgrounds, experience and skills, they all bear up under the challenge of finding themselves up to their necks in crime. Their resourcefulness, persistence, even pluckiness in the face of murder and mayhem always gives me a little boost. When they ask the right questions, snoop even in awkward or outright laughable ways, and deliberately or by accident, find out “whodunit,” I get that little vicarious zing of pleasure that rewards us as mystery readers.

Comfort, like the feeling you get from putting on a soft pair of pajamas or an old pair of slippers at the end of a long day at work, is another feature I hope to find in a cozy mystery. It’s the perfect antidote to the suspense that keeps us tagging along behind cozy mystery sleuths—especially those we already know and love because they’re part of a series. The comfort in a good cozy mystery can come from many sources. Loyal pets, for one. Whether you’re a lover of dogs or cats, you’ll find them in this collection. They sometimes rival their owners as the most charming characters in a story. Food, too, is a source of comfort. It’s such a classic aspect of the comfort found in cozy mysteries the culinary cozy has become a sub-subgenre of its own. There’s plenty of comfort food in this collection of stories—including that special C associated with comfort and cuisine: CHOCOLATE! Recipes for the comfort food found in the cozy stories in this collection have been compiled into a special bonus file for cozy mystery fans, along with craft ideas found in some of the stories, too.

I’m sure there are more than three “Cs” that speak to you in cozy mysteries. I’d love to hear what those are. All “Cs” aside, I’d be interested in learning what words you use to convey the spirit of the cozy mystery.

Cheers! Anna Celeste Burke


Happy Homicides 2: Crimes of the Heart
Stupid Cupid: A Cara Mia Delgatto Novella by Joanna Campbell Slan—Cara Mia’s search for love gets her involved in a star-crossed, homicidal romance.

A Heart for Murder by Teresa TrentAn expensive family heirloom is stolen from a local jewelry store, and Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick would love to figure out who’s responsible.

 For the Love of Dog by Neil Plakcy—A young woman’s death causes a man to consider the many aspects of love. Is it ever a justification for murder?

Wedding Knife by Elaine VietsA groom learns to take his vow–Till death do we part—very, very seriously.

Death and a Dozen Roses by Annie Adams—Plucky florist Rosie McKay is reunited with an old love, thanks to complications that happen when she tries to deliver a dozen roses.

The Sodium Arrow by Camille Minichino—The love of a student for a favorite teacher drives a freelance embalmer to seek out justice.

Sweets, Treats, and Murder by Nancy Jill Thames—Jillian Bradley is a widow with no children, but she still has a keen sense of family. Her love of a good mystery sets her and her canine companion, Teddy, on a quest for justice.

Dying for Valentine’s Tea: A Beach Tea Shop Novella by Linda Gordon Hengerer—The three Powell sisters want their friend Thelma to find true love, but they’re having trouble believing her fiancé has her best interests at heart.

The New Normal by Kathi Daley—Although her own dreams have been shattered, Ellie Davis finds it impossible to quit loving an old friend, even after he’s accused of murder.

Bones and Arrows by Carolyn Haines—Intrepid Sarah Booth Delaney would rather face a gun than a party on Valentine’s Day. Not surprisingly, she’s decided that Cupid is a big phony. But is he a jewel thief, too?

Murder at Catmmando Mountain: Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery 1 by Anna Celeste Burke—Georgina Shaw loves her cat, chocolate, and cooking. When she’s framed for a crime, she’s forced to reconsider her priorities.

The Missing Jacket by Randy Rawls—A golfing buddy offers Jonathan Boykin big money to retrieve a stolen jacket, but Jonathan suspects something else is going on. Jonathan is smart enough to discern the difference between love and lust. But can he also figure out the scam?

Really, Truly Dead by Maggie Toussaint—Lindsey McKay has no desire to return to small town life. But her love for her father brings her back home when he’s accused of murder.

~ Bonus Story~

Impediments: A Kiki Lowenstein Short Story by Joanna Campbell Slan—Family problems and priestly politics threaten to derail a love match, until Kiki Lowenstein suggests a surprising solution.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O'Connor. Siobhan O' Sullivan put her dreams of college in Dublin on hold when her parents were killed by a drunk driver who hit them head on. Instead she remains in Kilbane, County Cork, taking care of her 5 siblings and the family bistro. Lusting after a more attainable dream, a pink scooter, she goes to look at it only to find the brother of the young man who killed her parents. Niall is back in town claiming he has proof that his brother wasn't to blame, and tries to get Siobhan to give him money for the facts. When Niall is found dead inside their bistro everyone is ready to blame James. Siobhan is certain her brother is innocent, even if James himself can't say for certain as he fell off the wagon of sobriety and blacked out that night. So she begins to question the suspicious actions of her neighbors, as well as a mysterious Yank!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Weekend Getaway with Nutty the Maine Coon Cat - Guest Post & Giveaway

A Weekend Getaway with Nutty the Maine Coon Cat 
 from the Pawsitivley Organic Mystery series by Liz Mugavero

My mom does some crazy things sometimes, but this weekend has really taken the cake.

My name is Nutty. I’m a gorgeous Maine coon cat who fell into the good life when I stumbled onto my mom’s lawn a few years ago, hurt and sick. She took me to the vet and got me all fixed up, then we mutually decided to cohabitate. I was her only roommate for a long time. I got home cooked meals and all the attention. And then, we moved to this cute small town, which I like. And my mom started making treats and food all the time—which I really like. The other cat and dogs she picked up? Not so much. But that’s another story.

I’m still the most special. I know this because I’m the only one Mom took with her on this crazy chef’s weekend. I wasn’t sure this trip sounded that great in the first place. I mean, two hours in the car isn’t my idea of a good time. But the food aspect sounded pretty darn good, so I didn’t protest too much. I was going to get to test all the recipes for this meal my mom had to make for some fancy-schmancy Siamese cat. Everyone makes such a fuss about Siamese—I personally don’t see the big deal. But I get to eat the food, so it’s all good.

Anyway, we drive for two hours to Newport, Rhode Island, then some weirdo guy puts me and Mom in the back of a pastry truck and we have to drive again. Already this is stupid. I try to tell Mom I’m not happy, but everyone keeps shushing me. And I really have to use my litter box.

Alas, things go from bad to worse quickly. When we get to this house, there’s a big problem. I mean big. Some fancy guy is dead, everyone’s in trouble and we have to get back in the car and go somewhere else. At least this new place is nice, and finally someone’s bringing me some food. But things are certainly not going as planned.

Mom’s a little distracted, and it gets worse as the weekend goes on. The other lady really likes me, though, and she’s making up for it with steaks and fish and setting me up to eat like the king that I am. Still, I’m ready to go home. I’ve had enough of this trip, even with our fancy living quarters and my sparkling clean, stainless steel litter box. But the worst part of the weekend is yet to come. And I’m not sure that me and Mom are going to get out of this one alive…

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

You’re Not Alone - Guest Post & Giveaway

You’re Not Alone 
By Clea Simon

Don’t we all feel alone sometimes? Like we’re the only ones in the world, abandoned by everyone? And at such times, isn’t a nice cuddly cat the best companion?

That’s the idea I started with when I began to write “The Ninth Life,” my new mystery and the first in my Blackie and Care series for Severn House. Only I realized early on that my story, about a girl named Care and the big, black cat who adopts her, wouldn’t be your usual cozy. No, not like my Dulcie Schwartz mysteries (the latest is “Code Grey”), Care isn’t a bookish academic. Nor is she a tough girl, like Pru Marlowe (who comes back in “When Bunnies Go Bad” next month). No, Care is really alone – she’s an orphan who has run away from her foster home and is living on the streets when she sees a bedraggled cat drowning in a storm drain and rescues him.

What happens next will change both their lives, as Care and Blackie work to unravel the mystery of what happened to Care’s protector and mentor, and Blackie seeks to understand how he ended up in that storm drain in the first place. It’s a darker adventure than any I have written before, and both Blackie and Care will face violence at times. In places, it’s downright scary.

I should say at this point that you don’t have to worry. I’m not going to give away my ending – and I hope “The Ninth Life” surprises right up to its dramatic conclusion – but you can rest assured that I will never kill or seriously injure my heroine or her feline companion. I wouldn’t have a series if I did that and, besides, I don’t have the heart for that kind of book.

But I do think that we’re up for a good adventure, right? That without a little bit of darkness and threat, the happy resolution won’t feel earned. And besides, what could bond a girl and her cat closer than to face down danger together – side by side, supporting each other when both feel the most alone.


Author Links: home page blog Facebook
@Clea_Simon Twitter

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Currently Reading...

I actually just finished reading The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss. This book is the first Properly Paranormal Mystery and will be released March 8th.

Maddie Kosloski has returned home to the small Californian town of San Benedetto after losing her international job. The town is known for vineyards, its flaming Christmas cow, the Perfectly Paranormal Museum, and not much else. After job hunting with no success, Maddie is roped into managing the museum for her friend Adele. Maddie gets much more than she bargained for when Adele and she find a dead body in the museum, and not just any dead body. The murdered woman happens to be the woman who slept with Adele's fiance(currently, ex-fiance)! As loath as she is to remain manager of the museum, Mad has to help out Adele, especially after Adele is arrested, and soon finds herself captivated by one of the photos there, and a long ago murder. In addition, as disparaging comments about the museum begin, Mad becomes both possessive and protective. Will she find her new job right here in San Benedetto? There's more to this museum than meets the eye and Maddie is only just beginning to uncover its secrets.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Q&A with Maia Chance

I'm so happy to welcome Maia Chance to the blog today. Maia writes the Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery series. Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna, the third book in the series, was released earlier this month!

Q) Describe Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna in 140 characters or less.

Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna is a fun, adventurous, and romantic historical mystery set in a secret-riddled French chateau in 1867.

Q.) What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness for me is spending time outside somewhere beautiful, with my husband, kids, and dog.

Q.) What’s your favorite part of Ophelia’s quirky personality?

I like the way Ophelia compensates in creative and gutsy ways for her lack of a good formal education. She’s smart and resourceful and she uses her unusual skill set—farm girl, circus performer, actress—to help solve the mystery.

Q.) Which living person do you most admire?

My husband, actually. He is an unusually gifted person who overcame significant disadvantages and obstacles to get where he is today. And he gives the best pep-talks!

Q.) What inspired you to marry fairy tales and mystery?

I was searching for something that hadn’t been done yet, and I was reading a lot of fairy tale criticism for school at the time. It sounded like a deliciously fun project, so I plunged in.

Q.) Is there a type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Dialogue definitely comes more easily for me. I find action scenes more challenging—I’m paranoid that they’ll get bogged down. (So if I can, I add dialogue to my action scenes!)

Q.) What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Sticking to strict schedules. I don’t like to keep people waiting, but there is something to be said for giving yourself creative or restful wiggle-room during the day.

Q.) Which of the characters in this novel do you feel the most drawn to?

I became more attached to Professor Penrose in this book. He’s more vulnerable and at a loss than in the previous two books—and more deeply in love.

Q.) Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Oh, my. Probably dozens. I seem to like “buzz” a lot for some reason. I’m deleting it all the time.

Q.) Can you describe for us your process for naming characters?

For historical American characters I use census records. I collect names from cemeteries whenever I visit one, and I often borrow names from literature. Since my books have lots of characters, I try to give them all distinctive names that hint at their personalities, to help the reader keep everyone sorted in their mind.

Q.) Who are your favorite writers?

Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, Edith Wharton and Theodor Adorno.

Q.) Who is your most loved hero of fiction?

Indiana Jones.

Q.) Which talent would you most like to have?

It would be ecstasy to be a really, really great opera singer.

Q.) You're hosting a dinner party, which five authors (dead or alive) would you invite?

P. G. Wodehouse would probably be the life of any party. Also, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. There would be lots of drinking at this party. Maybe some arguments. No strip poker though.

Q.) Do you have a favorite time period in literature?

Not really. Because of my English degrees I have read very widely, and I have favorites from every era. And every era has its stultifying boring authors, too.

Q) What is your motto?

Keep trying.

Q.) What is the best reaction over a book that you’ve ever gotten from a fan?

Fans who say my book gave them pure pleasure—that’s happened a few times—make me so happy. It’s my aim to give people something to read that’s a pleasurable and absorbing diversion from Real Life. Real Life is hard.

Q.) Where would you most like to live?

A place with lots of trees where I could do all my daily activities and errands on foot. I’m working on it.

Q.) Which historical figure do you most identify with?

No one specific, but I often think of the female writers over the centuries who kept at their stories even when they had screaming kids and the dinner to cook and a really messy house piling up around them. They did it, and so can I.

Q.) What are you working on next?

I just completed a humorous contemporary mystery that does not yet have a publisher, and I’m working on a historical fantasy adventure with a co-author. After that, the next thing will be book #3 of the Discreet Retrieval Agency series.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Keeping Pace - Guest Post

Keeping Pace
Deirdre Verne 

One question that makes laugh is how do you write a book? It’s such an enormous question as it covers multiple topics. Do I write an outline? No. How do I come up with a plot? Talk to me when I’m one hundred pages in. How do I come up with characters? By remembering the lady who cut me in line at the supermarket. There are so many layers to writing a book; it’s almost as hard to start a book as it is to describe how to write one.

Here, I’m going to talk about how I pace myself since I’ve rarely heard an author discuss this aspect of writing. A writing contract for a series stipulates a deadline for each manuscript. Twelve months is fairly standard. That means I have one year to produce a book and once the clock starts ticking there’s no going back. The only way I can psych myself into this schedule is by developing a two to three sentence vision statement before the twelve month period begins.

I’m not asking a lot of myself at this early stage of the process, but I’d be paralyzed without a short statement that goes something like this: This is a book about a free-spirited artist whose friend is found at the bottom of a garbage pile. She uses her artistic talents to uncover a twisted trail of “refuse” that ends up, surprisingly, in her own front yard. She has a cute boyfriend.

With my rough vision down on paper, I then take out my calendar and plan my writing schedule, which includes how much per week I’ll need to write in order to finish in six months. Six months? I thought you had a year? I do, but I have to account for the unaccountable – like a broken ankle, Feb 2014. I also have to budget time for test readers. I like to send my draft out to two or three people for comments. Depending upon their schedule, this will cost me a few months and that’s not even including the subsequent edits I’ll make. At the ten-month mark, I’ll take a break and let the manuscript sit. By month eleven, I’m back in business conducting a careful analysis of each page and making final changes.

Month twelve? I’m racking my brain in a desperate effort to find the next vision statement. And guess what? I’m ahead of schedule this year so it looks like I’ll be starting a new book soon.

Deirdre Verne writes the Sketch in Time Mystery series. Drawing Blood, the second in the series, was released February 8th. Check out my previous interview with Deirdre here.

Author Links
Webpage –
Blog –
Twitter – @deirdreverne
GoodReads –

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