Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early. This book is the first in the Vintage Toyshop Mystery series and will be released October 11.

Liz McCall's life has drastically changed after her father is shot in the line of duty. Although Hank has physically recovered, he sometimes fails to remember that he was forced to retire as Chief of Police and will periodically patrol their small town instead of minding his vintage toyshop. Faced with a forgetful father, Liz has moved back to Western New York permanently to live with her dad and help make a go of the shop; the shop that was Hank's dream as well as the recipient of his pension. When a stranger leaves a box of antique windup toys, Liz sees a big profit...if only she can find Hank!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Spotlight - No Farm, No Foul

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on a new series. No Farm, No Foul by Peg Cochran is the first in the Farmer's Daughter Mystery series and was released this month.

From the back cover:

On her blog, The Farmer's Daughter, Shelby McDonald is growing her audience as she posts recipes, gardening tips, and her experiences raising  two kids and running Love Blossom Farm in the small western Michigan town of Lovett.

Working the farm is demanding but peaceful-until that peace is shattered when the minister's wife is murdered on Shelby's property during a fund raiser for a local church, But the manure really hits the fan when Shelby's good friend veterinarian Kelly Thacker emerges as the prime suspect. Shelby decides to dig in and find the murderer by herself. As more suspects crop up, she'll have to move fast-before someone else buys the farm...

Recipes Included.

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Heart's Desire Interview, Review, and Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Andrea Kane to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Andrea writes psychological thrillers and historical romantic suspense. This year is the 25th anniversary of two of her Regency classics.

Kathy: This tour celebrates the 25th Anniversary edition of My Heart's Desire. How has your life as a writer changed since the first publication?

AK: There’s been an enormity of change in my writing world since the 1991 publication of My Heart’s Desire. The biggest change, of course, is the onset and growth of the Internet. I no longer have to carry around baby naming books (which caused my entire neighborhood to think I was perpetually pregnant.) in order to find the perfect names for my characters. I no longer have to buy obscure out-of-print reference books and wait months for them to arrive in order to continue telling my story. I can look up details at the drop of a hat, determine their authenticity, and implement them. I can email quick questions to my consultants and get answers ASAP, rather than playing phone tag. The list goes on and on. The things that never change are the heart and soul I put into each book, the human element that bring my characters to life, and the mental energy that conjures up plot. So the process changed, but the creation stayed the same.

Kathy: What made you decide to add "new author content"?

AK: After 25 years of my devoted readers’ enjoying Alex’s and Drake’s story, I wanted to give something back by making this anniversary edition special. So I added a piece of myself to the equation. I shared behind-the-scenes stories of the writing of My Heart’s Desire, together with some fun antics that I hope you’ll all grin over!

Kathy: Historical romances require an extra special brand of research. What's your favorite method to research this time period?

AK: My very favorite research method was my trip to England, where I visited all the places my characters lived in, loved in, and traveled to. There’s nothing like the wonder of firsthand experience, and some of the natural beauty of London and the surrounding shires have stayed the same, as have the historical wonders. I truly reveled in it.

Kathy: What first drew you to romances?

AK: I’ve read romances since I can remember. I loved the beauty, the emotion, and most of all, the happily-ever-after. Transitioning into writing those kinds of stories (with a mix of my other love—mystery suspense) was a natural step, and I’ve never stopped feeling blessed for having that chance.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AK: I’m currently writing suspense thrillers, and I’m totally into doing so. I get to write the same strong characters, the same complex plots, just with more emphasis on the suspense and less on the romance. But relationships are and will always be a huge part of my novels, no matter what those relationships are or what genre I write in.

Kathy: Tell us about your book.

AK: As the cover of My Heart’s Desire states: “Never were there two more unlikely people to fall in love”. Lady Alexandria Cassel stows away on a merchant ship to seek adventure and to escape the boredom and expectations of her first London Season. And Drake Barrett, the Duke of Allonshire, just happens to be the captain of that ship as he valiantly attempts to escape the hypocrisy of that very same aristocratic world. An electric meeting. A combustible courtship. A battle at sea. A deserted island where they’re stranded together. And a threat on their lives that could end it all. Alex and Drake go through all that and more as they find something in each other they never expected. Oh, and you’ll also meet Drake’s sister, Samantha, who has a book of her own being re-released with new author material in October.

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

AK: I could never choose a favorite character. I love them all (or hate them!), each for different reasons. If I didn’t, I couldn’t put my heart into writing them.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for this story?

AK: I’d read so many stories set in Regency England with traditional heroines. I had the persistent desire to write an independent hellion with a mind of her own and a plan to match it. And I had a pretty good idea of how she’d meet her match—one who turned out to be the love of her life.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AK: I’ve been telling stories in my head since I was two, and reading since I was three. I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. I always dreamed of being a published author. I did everything I could to make it happen. Again, I feel very blessed that my dream came true (and continues to!).

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

AK: Daphne du Maurier, Robert Ludlum, Jane Austen, and Dorothy Parker.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AK: Nora Roberts’ novel The Obsession.

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

AK: I love crossword puzzles and Sudoku. Actually, I love word games in general. I also love old movies, especially watching them with my family. I’m a diehard New York Yankees fan, and I watch every one of their games, win or lose. Most of all, I play with my Pomeranian, Mischief, who demands every second of my time. It’s like having a toddler all over again. I absolutely adore him (even if he does try his hardest to keep me from writing)!!

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

AK: Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, and ice cream.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books?

AK: My first excitement will be in October with the re-release of Samantha, the sequel to My Heart’s Desire. Sammy made a huge splash in Alex’s and Drake’s book, and she’s off to live her own unique and romantic adventures. Simultaneously, I’m continuing to write my suspense thriller Forensic Instincts series, so I’m one busy writer!

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

AK: Doing what I love and getting the wonderful reactions from my readers. I’m so grateful for both those gifts.



MY HEART'S DESIRE by Andrea Kane 

Lady Alexandria Cassel scorns the ton and all it stands for so she decides to leave England just before her first Season and visit her father who is working in Canada. Perhaps there Alex will be free to find her heart's desire. However, she continues her unconventional plan in a most unconventional manner. Taking no extra clothing, let alone a servant, Alex pens a hasty note to her mother, and stows aboard a Canadian bound ship. What she doesn't realize is that Captain Drake Barrett of said ship happens to be Lord Cairnham, one of the most elite members of the ton, who also holds that society in disdain.

As Duke keeps his identity quiet, Alex charms the rest of the men and slowly begins to melt Duke's icy heart. A happy ending however will be made more difficult by secrets, as well as Duke's treacherous younger brother, Alex's cold father, an upcoming war, and a ship caught in the crosshairs. 

Although I primarily read cozy mysteries now, when MY HEART'S DESIRE was first published I was mainly reading romances. I'm actually surprised I had not read this book as I love Regencies as much as paranormal romances (my mainstay 25 years ago). A lot has changed since this book was first written, but I am pleased to stay this novel has stood the test of time. MY HEART'S DESIRE is a fun read with characters you love, danger, and laughs too.

MY HEART'S DESIRE is an exciting trip back in time. Fraught with danger and desire our couple face adversity and each other with determination and love. The writing is crisp and clean, the is plot interesting, and the characters are well developed. MY HEART'S DESIRE is a fun read that reminds me why I enjoy reading romance novels.


My Heart’s Desire by Andrea Kane on Tour September 2016

Book Details Genre: Historical Romance Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC Publication Date: September 20, 2016 Number of Pages: ~ 402 Series: Book 1 in "Barrett Family Series&quot Purchase My Heart’s Desire at: Amazon Barnes & Noble or Add it to your reading list on: Goodreads


Lady Alexandria Cassel scorned London's frivolous social whirl, seeking adventure as a stowaway aboard a merchant ship. Drake Barrett was the vessel's powerful captain—and a cynical duke who disdained a noble's shallow life. At sea he revealed neither his origins nor his wealth, and to Alexandria he was simply a man who made her cool reserve fly with the winds… whose desire for her was as wild as the ocean they sailed.
Caught in the crossfire of war, they were shipwrecked on an idyllic island, where they tasted perfect passion… and tenderness. But Drake dreaded the day of their rescue—when his love would discover that the virile man she adored was at the pinnacle of the aristocracy she despised. Hardly did they suspect the base treachery that would soon threaten them… and the dangers each would brave to join forever their hearts and lives!

Read an excerpt:

No storm could be as fierce as the one that raged in Alexandria’s flashing eyes as she faced Drake across the cabin. Her expression was murderous, her small hands clenched at her sides, her tone lethal.
Drake closed the door behind him with a firm click. “By ‘your clothes’ I presume you mean that dusty gown and shredded chemise you discarded on my cabin floor?” He leaned nonchalantly against the wall, regarding her with amusement.
Alex was too angry to be shocked at his casual mention of her undergarment. “You know damned well what clothes I mean!”
“Now, now … such language, my lady. I am truly shocked.”
She looked as though she might strike him.
“I demand that you return my things at once!”
His brows went up. “You demand? Careful, princess, your snobbish airs are showing. Remember, on this ship the only one who demands is me.” He crossed the room, ignoring her as if she were no more than an annoying child.
She stepped in front of him, blocking his way.
“Did you want something, my lady?” He paused, studying her livid expression. She was as transparent as glass, her anger and exasperation clearly evident on her beautiful face.
Drake grinned. “Your clothes are no longer with us.”
The color in her face deepened. “What?”
“They were torn from your adventure.”
“Liar!” she shot back. “There was no reason for you to discard them … at least not for the reason you just gave.”
Her accusing tone made him chuckle. “You are quite correct, princess. The real reason is that I cannot have you parading around in your finery. My men are already lusting after you quite openly. We wouldn’t want to further intoxicate their senses, now would we?”
“The only one on this ship who has treated me with any disrespect is you!” she retorted.
“Then be grateful that I have limited you to men’s attire. Perhaps you will be safe from my lecherous advances.”
Drake moved away, and Alex turned her back as he took off his shirt and tossed it carelessly onto the chair. Tossing his breeches next to his shirt, he put an end to her torment by climbing into his berth.
The cabin was silent. Drake could sense Alex’s presence nearby, and he knew instinctively that she was not in bed.
He heard her jump. “What is it?”
He cleared his throat. “Is there some problem?”
“No … yes …” She paused. “May I use your basin and some water to wash the dirt from my face?”
Drake smiled in the darkness. “Go right ahead. And, princess … if you can find your way around in the dark, help yourself to one of my shirts. They are clean and more than large enough to protect your modesty.”
Again, silence. Then, “Thank you, Captain.”
Her bare feet padded across the room. Drake listened to her opening the heavy chest, taking out one of his shirts, and slipping it on. Splashing sounds told him she was washing, followed by her soft footsteps as she returned to her cot. Then a thud and a cry of pain.
Drake was out of bed in an instant, moving toward the sound of her choked cry.
“Alexandria? What is it?”
“I walked into the cot,” she whimpered.
“Are you badly hurt?”
In truth she was not. It had been a sudden painful blow, yet already the pain was subsiding to a dull throb. But it was more than she could withstand after her emotionally taxing day. Hot tears filled her eyes, spilled down her cheeks. Try though she would, she could not control the sobs that shook her.
“I’m sorry,” she gasped. “I never cry … and it is not that bad a bruise … I just can’t …” She shook her head helplessly, covering her eyes with trembling hands.
There was no forethought. Drake reacted instantly, pulling her into his arms.
“Shhh,” he soothed, pressing her head against his chest. He felt her tears drenching his bare skin, her narrow shoulders shaking. “It’s all right, sweetheart … don’t cry,” he murmured, raising her chin with his forefinger, wishing he could see her face. He stroked his other hand down her back, pressing her closer to him.
They became aware of each other at the same moment. He was totally naked. She was clad only in a thin white shirt. She needed comfort. He needed more.

Author Bio:

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-seven novels, including thirteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles.
With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.
Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, The Last Duke, and Wishes in the Wind.
With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.
Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she’s either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.

Connect With Ms. Kane on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.


Tour Host Participants:


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Andrea Kane. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of My Heart’s Desire by Andrea Kane. The giveaway begins on August 31st and runs through September 30th, 2016.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Michelangelo's Ghost by Gigi Pandian. This book is the fourth in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery series and will be released October 4th.

Once again Gigi Pandian has captured my attention and drawn me in-with her first sentence no less! Jaya Jones is back and contemplating treasure. While dealing with the aftermath of her last adventure Jaya hears from a ghost from her past. Her former mentor, Dr. Lilith Vine, now shunned by the majority of academia, is asking for Jaya's help.The possibility of a major discovery, artwork from a protege of Michelangelo showing Renaissance artwork with Indian subjects, sparks Jaya's imagination. Lilith believes she has the clues to find Lazzaro Allegri's studio and paintings, lost in Italy's Park of Monsters. Will Jaya travel to Italy to hunt for this treasure? Will the elusive Lane Peters assist her? Can Jaya redeem her mentor's reputation and find the treasure?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Dying for Data Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Cassidy Salem to the blog today. Cassidy writes the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Mystery series. Dying for Data, the second book in the series, was released August 21, 2016.

Kathy: Elena’s boyfriend is a bartender. If you were to ask him to make you a drink, what would it be?

CS: A mudslide – a delightful concoction with Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream, vodka and chocolate.

Kathy: In Dying for Data Adina deals with illegal immigration. Is this an important topic for you?

CS: On a personal level, no. On an ideological level, yes. As an American, I am appreciative of the contributions immigrants have made to our country throughout its history. At the same time, I recognize the pros and cons of the various approaches to immigration policy. 

Kathy: Adina also deals with a case of mistaken identity. Have you ever been mistaken for someone else?

CS: My sister, more than once. In all fairness, we do look at lot alike.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

CS: I enjoy all kinds of crime fiction, including traditional mysteries, police procedurals, and cozies. Cozies are fun and usually entertaining. I enjoy trying to follow the plots set forth by other writers in hopes of identifying the culprit. And they are typically light and enjoyable reads.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

Kathy: No. But that could change in the future.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

CS: The Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth mystery series features a young college graduate and her experiences living alone in Washington, D.C. Adina works at a think tank that focuses on public policy, where current issues (environmental protection, immigration, cybercrime, and more) are a natural part of the agenda. Both Think Murder (Book 1) and Dying for Data (Book 2) are standalone mysteries.

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

CS: That’s a hard question. At this point in the series, I’d have to say Adina. Adina is smart and talented, and kind. She has an independent spirit, but is willing to accept help from others.

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

CS: Not really. I knew I wanted to write a cozy mystery and that I wanted it to be in a “new” setting. After graduating from college, I worked in two different think tanks, one of them in D.C. When I decided to try my hand at writing, I wanted to create a mystery centered around a character that I could identify with, in a setting and job that would hopefully ring true.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

CS: The decision to write my first novel was my way of challenging myself. After I had completed Think Murder, publishing was the natural next step for me. The positive feedback on Think Murder encouraged me to write and publish Dying for Data.

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

CS: Maya Angelou, Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CS: In between books today. Just finished Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper – a very enjoyable cozy mystery.

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

CS: I love music, all most all kinds of music. I love to sing and dance.

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

CS: The sad truth: Diet-coke, ice cream, eggs, chocolate.

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

CS: I plan to continue this series. At the same time, I am exploring the possibility of collaborating with another author on a new series.

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

CS: The sense of accomplishment when I see the finished product or get a great review AND the sense of community I have found through networking with fellow authors on social media.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Review & Giveaway - Murder at Rough Point


The Fourth Gilded Newport Mystery

Emma Cross believes she's finally making a name for herself as a reporter when she's been asked to cover a story of a group of artists coming to stay at Rough Point for an artist retreat of sorts. The brooding estate happens to belong to her uncle, who has rented the place out, leaving his manager in charge, and pleased that Emma will keep an eye out on things as well; who knows what those artistic types could get into. Emma soon discovers that the artistic troupe is rife with conflict. She connects with Sir Randall who has been bullied by critics and peers alike. Sir Randall is buoyed by Emma's comments, his artistic fire burning once more. However, he goes missing after a walk and is later found dead. Was it an accident, suicide, or murder? When another artist misses the next dinner Emma is sure it's murder!

Although MURDER AT ROUGH POINT is not quite a locked room mystery, it's close. Being the off season, as well as the estate's relatively isolated location, neighbors are scarce. The storm makes visitors even more improbable. That leaves a Gothic Newport "cottage" full of suspects who are pretty much trapped there. A perfect setting for a mystery.

Relationships are key in MURDER AT ROUGH POINT. Relationships between the artists are stormy and passionate, positive and negative, but most of all, secretive and shuttered. And unexpected. Emma has to deal with the return of her parents (a strained relationship), as well as a woman she has always detested and one she always admired...with both of those feelings soon being exchanged. Emma has to ferret out the truth of the artists feelings toward each other, as she considers her feelings toward Newport police detective Jesse Whyte and currently out of the picture in Italy, Derrick Andrews.

I enjoy historical cozies for many reasons, especially the author's attention to detail and historical accuracy bringing another time to life. In Maxwell's afterword we're able to learn even more about the real life Rough Point as well as some creative license she took. Hey, why not add more bedrooms?! Maxwell creates a delightful mystery in MURDER AT ROUGH POINT and I'm pleased to travel back in time with her.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

A Gnarly Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Anna Celeste Burke to the blog today. Anna writes the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery series. Gnarly New Year is the second book in the series and was released earlier this summer.

Kathy: Setting is very important to a story. What makes California the perfect setting for Kim and Brien?

ACB: Cue the surf music! When I sit down to write the Corsario Cove mysteries, the Beach Boys or some other surf band starts playing in my head. The three cozy mystery series I write are all set in California—the sunny blue skies an inspiration to write about murder and mayhem while keeping it light. My upbringing in San Diego wasn’t always easy, but the natural beauty and upbeat culture of the Golden State always helped put trouble in perspective. At age ten, biking to the beach and taking in the surf culture on weekends was a great escape.

Fun, even zany spirit seemed to be everywhere. Maybe it’s all that California Dreamin’ about becoming the next big thing in Hollywood or making it as a rock star. Of course, not all those dreams can come true, but it sure can be fun trying. Why not have “fun, fun, fun ‘til her daddy takes the T-Bird away” or some more serious mishap befalls you?

My characters, Kim and Brien, are young and in love. That’s a great surprise to the cynical, streetwise Kim who has not had an easy life. They’re filled with an almost reckless “can do” spirit. It’s reminiscent of my teenage years when love inspired me to throw caution to the wind and run off with a lead guitarist in a rock band. Underage, I got picked up as a runaway but managed to end up a few months later with the man of my dreams. Somehow, it all worked out for us, and we’re still together more than 40 years later. What the heck? According to Brien, “Love is the most excellent adventure after all, isn’t it?”

Kathy: The Sanctuary Resort and Spa at Corsario Cove has everything, including murder. Is this swanky resort based on a real one, sans murders, of course, or is it purely fictional?

ACB: The resort and Corsario Cove are fictional settings, inspired by real places. For a few years, I worked as a chef at Walt Disney World where I got my first introduction to resorts. After completing the Walt Disney World University’s chef training, I worked for several years at the Polynesian Hotel and spent time at other resorts. The resort and spa in my Corsario Cove mysteries have amenities like those you’d find in five-star resorts. Luxurious suites and lavish amenities like you’ll find at the Grand Wailea in Maui or the Mauna Lani resort on the Big Island. High-end resorts are known for the attention they pay to detail, including efforts to anticipate your likes and dislikes. I've tried to portray that realistically in their mystery adventures.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

ACB: I have always loved cozy mysteries—especially if you include classics in the mystery genre, like Agatha Christie’s tales, as cozies. I devoured Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and The Hardy Boys as a child. Since then, I’ve read thousands of cozy and not-so-cozy mysteries. I love film noir starring hard-boiled PIs like Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe, Hammett’s Sam Spade, or Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. Perhaps, part of their appeal is that many of their tales are set in California, too.

Their hardboiled female counterparts, like Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski, are intriguing. What’s not to like? An independent woman who can take a punch and give as good as she gets, while still harboring affection for a pair of fabulous stiletto heels. Wow!

Still, for me, there’s nothing quite like an accidental or amateur sleuth who finds herself pulled into figuring out whodunit by circumstances and a bit too much curiosity. Maybe we haven’t been faced with murder, but life puts us to the test in less dramatic but similarly challenging ways all the time. I love light and breezy mysteries that have a befuddled, but clever and determined woman at the center. I like to write series because I have the luxury of watching the protagonist grow and develop as a sleuth, so she’s not the amateur for long!

One of my all-time favorite mystery series combines the two types of sleuths—professional and amateur. Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man series pairs up Nick and Nora Charles for wonderful cozy mysteries that blend mystery and romance with a big dose of humor. I think of Kim and Brien as a kind of millennials’ take on Nick and Nora. The humor in Cowabunga Christmas & Gnarly New Year ranges from droll to slapstick, like that Thin Man series, too. I hope the chemistry between Kim and Brien is as loving and playful as that between Nick and Nora.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

ACB: I write books in three series. The Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series set in the Coachella Valley, in and around Palm Springs; The Corsario Cove Cosy Mystery Series that, as I’ve said, takes place in a fictional location on California's Central Coast; and The Georgie Shaw Cosy Mystery Series set in Orange County, California—the OC. As I say on the homepage for my website, all my books involve "Snooping into life's mysteries with fun, fiction, & food--California style!" Murder and mayhem, weighty subjects I write about under the influence of sunny skies and blue Pacific waters. Before I was a stuffy professor, I “worked for the Mouse” at Walt Disney World as a chef, so my characters always eat well as they fight off evildoers and figure out whodunit.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

ACB: I do have a 4th series I’d like to write. The Misadventures of Betsy Stark would be more to the thriller end of the continuum than the cozy end. Betsy’s an interesting character. Born and raised in the Coachella Valley but in the bleakest parts of this playground of the presidents. Betsy even spent time in “The Slabs.” I’ve introduced Betsy Stark, briefly, in A Dead Daughter. An enormous woman, over 6 feet tall, she’s physically strong and can bench press her body weight! Her early childhood was chaotic, and her best memories are of her Cahuilla grandmother. The real departure for me with this series stems from the fact that Betsy has some unique skills—is it a 6th sense, second sight, or an odd way her brain has of processing information? I still haven’t quite decided, but telling the story from her point of view flirts with the boundaries around what we regard as “real” vs. fantastical or magic. I’ve experimented a bit with magical realism once before. Love a Foot Above the Ground, the prequel to the Jessica Huntington series dabbles in that genre. The Betsy Stark series will push me back in that direction, I think.

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

ACB: That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child or pet. I enjoy them all—even the snarky, nasty bad guys. I do have a special place in my heart for Jessica Huntington since she’s the lead character in the first series I wrote.

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

ACB: The inspiration to write the Corsario Cove series came about while sitting at dinner with friends. They had asked us to meet them in Santa Barbara at a beachside restaurant up on a small slope overlooking this perfect little cove. The waves danced, the light sparkled, people played along the beach. I left that night with surf music playing in my head and a story about Kim and Brien—an unlikely pairing—on their honeymoon with a bigger, more upscale version of that little cove as their playground.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

ACB: Initially, I just wanted to hold the book in my hands. Now, I’m hooked—writing is a passion!

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

ACB: Agatha Christie, of course. She is one of the most prolific and best-selling authors of all times. A fascinating woman, too, with some secrets of her own—like her disappearance when confronted by the loss of her mother and revelations about an unfaithful husband. Dashiell Hammett because he created such a diverse mix of interesting stories and characters. In addition to the Thin Man series that I adore, The Maltese Falcon is another of my all-time favorite mysteries. I’d love to have Janet Evanovich at the table because of her use of humor and romance in the mystery genre with her long-running Stephany Plum series. Maybe David Balducci to have a thriller writer at the table. Technically, they’re more mavens of cinema than authors, but the Hitchcocks, both Alfred and Alma, would be interesting dinner companions.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

ACB: I read a lot of things at once, these days. I always have a cozy mystery I’m reading. Right now I’m reading Dianne Harman’s latest book, Murder on the East Coast. I have also started a Baldacci thriller, and I am reading a couple of historical fiction books—Ludwika, by Christoph Fischer and Rise to Power by Uvi Poznansky. I enjoy nonfiction too and am working my way through The Cloud of Unknowing, a spiritual guide written by an anonymous monk in the middle ages.

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

ACB: I love hiking in the desert and mountains surrounding the Coachella Valley. Trips to the beach are still favorite activities, although I prefer walking along the beach rather than swimming these days. I love reading and enjoy watching television series that feature mysteries, thrillers, and historical fiction. I also spend time each day in meditation, contemplating the big mysteries of life.

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

ACB: Lots of fresh fruit and veggies—not sexy, I know, but dietary staples. Whole fresh-roasted coffee beans—right now I’m crazy about Mystic Monk coffee. Yeah, it’s roasted by monks. Spices—all sorts of spices. I love to open the pantry door and get that rush they provide—especially first thing in the morning when I grab the bag of coffee beans. Think Thin gluten free, high protein bars. I start everyday with chocolate and caffeine and a word or two of gratitude for both!

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

ACB: Yes. The third novella in the Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series, All Hallows’ Eve Heist, was just released August 29th. I have an idea for the fourth book in that series. Although it’s still sketchy, the story will involve murder and mayhem surrounding a Christmas wedding. I’m currently working on the fourth book in the Jessica Huntington series, A Dead Mother. There’s still a lot of work to do to finish that book, but I’d like to get it out by the end of 2016. Kim and Brien will be back in Corsario Cove for an Epic Easter. They’re going to follow up on an interesting discovery they made while trying to escape the bad guys in Gnarly New Year. I can hear Brien’s voice talking to Kim with his high-energy, enthusiastic way: “It’s going to be epic, Kim!”

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

ACB: Getting my characters into awkward situations and watching them “Macgyver” their way out of them.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Crepe Factor by Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran. This is the 14th book in the Scrapbooking Mystery series and will be released October 4th. Laura will be visiting the blog with me October 7th, so make sure you stop by for that as well.

Carmela is making the rounds of more New Orleans events with gal pal Ava in their 14th outing. They get more than they bargained for at the Winter Market when they witness an ugly fight between Quigg Brevard, restaurateur and recent vintner, and Martin Lash, food critic and environmentalist. While exploring other tents they are surprised by Lash staggering in, throwing items into disarray, as he falls to his death-a huge serving fork protruding from his neck! The testosterone gets flowing when Detective Edgar Babcock, Carmela's boyfriend, arrives on the scene and other vendors share information about the fight between the victim and Quigg, who happens to have dated Carmela. Quigg, of course, asks Carmela to investigate while Babcock warns her off. Carmela has to deal with an ex who may want more than just her sleuthing skills, an overworked and unhappy boyfriend, the antics of her party friend, running her scrapbooking store as well as teaching crafting classes, and a murder! At least she has Boo and Poobah.

Scrapbook, Stamping, and Craft Tips along with Recipes are included.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The CEO Came DOA: Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Heather Haven to the blog today. Heather writes the Alvarez Family Mystery series. The CEO Came DOA is the fifth book in the series and was released earlier this summer.

Kathy: Setting plays such an important part in mysteries. Why choose the Silicon Valley?

HH: Putting aside that I live here and ran a department at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, I find Silicon Valley a lively and invigorating place. It's edgy, fueled by youth and innovation. Also, it has a diverse population and I love that. There isn't any country's food that isn't here and it's all delicious. Unfortunately, my waistline shows it.

Kathy: In The CEO Came DOA Lee Alvarez takes a job ferreting out the saboteur of a start-up company’s Initial Public Offering. Have you ever been involved with a startup company?

HH: No, I haven't. So the research was unbelievably daunting. For months I researched the history, nature, and financial complexities involved in getting a startup up and running. Because of my living smack dab in the middle of this world, I was able to talk with many people involved in all parts of the process, from techies to high powered executives. Each saw it from a different angle, which helped me round everything out. I wanted to make sure I had enough facts for readers who know a little something about the life, but not turn off the ones who don't care. I trod a fine line!

Kathy: You studied drama at the University of Miami in Florida. How has theatre influenced your writing?

HH: Absolutely. The fields are interconnected, as are most of the arts. In my youth, I thought I wanted to be an actress, but I don't really have the temperament for it. I didn't like the constant traveling, auditioning, or being called 'talent' instead of my name. The life simply wasn't for me. But I had always written things. I love the solitude and being able to go anywhere using just my imagination. One of my first jobs was writing a column on the births, deaths, trips, etc. of a Miami Beach condo complex for the Miami Beach Sun. I was seventeen.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

HH: Like the song from Chorus Line, "I Can Do That," after reading hundreds of them, I thought I could do that. I had no idea how tough it was. Ignorance is bliss. It took me the better part of 5 years to write the first novel of the series, Murder is a Family Business. I had false starts and stops, but ultimately, with a lot of help from my friends, the novel made its debut. I will say that even though the protagonist is a PI, she is trained to ferret out thievery of software and hardware or intellectual property. She is in no way seeking out murderers. But Lee Alvarez keeps tripping over dead bodies, especially when she isn't looking, so she tries to deal.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

HH: My short stories are often a mixed bag. But when it comes to months of writing a single project, I opt for something I enjoy doing to the max, mysteries.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

The Alvarez Family Mysteries take place in today’s sparkling Bay Area, namely Silicon Valley. I like to feel these whodunits have a crackerjack mystery to solve while exploring familial relationships -- the good, the bad, and the annoying.

My other humorous series, The Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, takes place in New York City during World War II. The protagonist, Persephone Cole, is one of the first female detectives and not unlike Sam Spade. She’s a full-figured gal with an 8-year old son and a wicked sense of humor.

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

HH: All the characters I write about are like my children. Even if I had a favorite, I wouldn’t face it or admit it.

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

HH: When I began the series revolving around the Alvarez Family, I wanted to depict a family that wasn’t the traditional husband, wife, two kids, station wagon, and dog. Even if it starts out like that, Life happens. At the very least, your car breaks down and your dog gets fleas. What we discover along the way is you need to hold on to what you have with lots of love, humor, and flea powder.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

HH: I was with two traditional publishers and have no terrible stories to relate. They were just fine to me. However, I wanted more control over the covers, pricing, editing, etc. Along with another writer, Baird Nuckolls, we formed The Wives of Bath Press, so that we could have total control of our books. It’s a lot of work and sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but by gawd, I’m the boss of me. Or we’re the boss of us. It’s a worthwhile venture and so much fun.

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

HH: Oh, just the thought of it makes me giddy! We’d have to hold a séance, because there are three no longer with us. The Bard, himself, Will Shakespeare; the phenomenal wit, Dorothy Parker; and one of the world’s funniest writers ever, P. G. Wodehouse. The sole living author would be Stephen King. I chose Mr. King even though I’m not into horror stories per se, but because he has brought the genre to new heights and is a wonderful writer.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

HH: I usually have three to five books going at the same time. Right now it’s Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, an oldie goldie; Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, another oldie goldie; The Race For Paris, Meg Waite Clayton’s newest release; and The Right Wrong Thing by Ellen Kirschman. I just finished The Lanvin Murders, Angela M. Sanders; Marva Dasef’s Missing, Assumed Dead; and Roseanne Dowell’s All’s Well That Ends Well. I read a lot. Books are my friends.

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

HH: Hang gliding, Skeet shooting, and mud wrestling. Just kidding. Let me think. Hmmm. Well, here’s a wannabe: I wish I had time to continue with the ukulele. I’d progressed to learning a bunch of chords, but still can’t strum worth a Tinker’s Dam. I set it aside two years ago because I don’t really have time for it. I have no hobbies, I guess. Wait! My husband and I love to travel. That’s my hobby. Phew! I didn’t think I could come up with one.

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

HH: Butter, milk, eggs, and cat food (For our two cats, not for my husband or me).

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

HH: Yes, the sixth book of the Alvarez Family Mysteries will revolve around the restaurant industry in the Bay Area. I’ll get to do a lot of research. Yummy!

And I do have a new series percolating. I spent a lot of years working on Broadway with performers. I’m going to try to tap into those experiences.

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

HH: The being. I’ve always been writing, ever since I can remember. I love the written word. I love going someplace in my mind and setting it down on paper. I can’t think of much I’d rather be doing. Maybe mud wrestling? Just kidding!

Heather Haven

IPPY Award Winner, Death of a Clown

Multi Award-Winner, Alvarez Family Mysteries

The Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries

Best Historical Mystery Novel Lefty Nomination, 2016

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Spotlight - After the Funeral Podcast & Closed Casket

closed casket large banner640

Listen to After the Funeral by Agatha Christie

A Free Serialization of the Complete Audiobook in Eight Parts
Presented by Sophie Hannah
Throughout the serialization, Sophie informs listeners on the crucial distinction between the truly impossible and the deeply unlikely, points out the magic of a very personal motive, and explains her belief that “the best stories are the ones that would only ever happen once.”
after the funeral
Hercule Poirot is called on to investigate the murder of a brother and sister, in this classic Agatha Christie mystery now available in an updated edition with a foreword Sophie Hannah.
“He was murdered, wasn’t he?”
When Cora Lansquenet is savagely murdered, the extraordinary remark she had made the previous day at her brother Richard’s funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard’s will, Cora was clearly heard to say, “It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it. But he was murdered, wasn’t he?”
Did Cora’s accusation a dark truth that sealed her own fate? Or are the siblings’ deaths just tragic coincidences?
Desperate to know the truth, the Lansquenet’s solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery. For even after the funeral, death isn’t finished yet .
monogram murdersIn 2014 Sophie Hannah received wide-spread acclaim for penning an all-new mystery featuring Agatha Christie’s legendary hero Hercule Poirot, The Monogram Murders, an instant bestseller. Reviews were outstanding, praising Hannah for her command of the character and voice. So when the time came to write a new story, Sophie knew there was only one way she would write another book—even though she enjoyed writing the first so much—she knew she would need to have an idea that was clever and compelling enough to think, 'This feels very Agatha-ish. Poirot MUST solve this case.'
And then it came to her, “…as if by magic (that really is how it felt!) an idea landed in my head. A motive for murder. It was incredibly simple—so simple, it almost seemed too obvious—and yet I didn't think it had been done before.”

The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery

Series: Hercule Poirot Mystery Paperback: 320 pages Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 9, 2015) ISBN-13: 978-0062297228 goodreads-badge-add-plus
"I'm a dead woman, or I shall be soon . . ."
Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. Though terrified, she begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done. Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a London Hotel have been murdered, and a monogrammed cufflink has been placed in each one's mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim.
CLOSED CASKETSo now Sophie Hannah returns with an all new Poirot story, CLOSED CASKET on sale September 6, 2016!

Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery

Series: Hercule Poirot Mysteries Hardcover: 320 pages Publisher: William Morrow (September 6, 2016) ISBN-13: 978-0062458827 goodreads-badge-add-plus    
Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion Clonakilty, County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will – one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live…
Among Lady Playford’s guests are two men she has never met—the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited…until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke, in the presence of a possible killer? When the crime is committed in spite of Poirot’s best efforts to stop it, will he be able to unveil the true reason behind Lady Playford’s drastic change of heart, and ultimately, identify the killer?
Sophie Hannah

About the Author:

Sophie Hannah is the internationally bestselling author of 10 psychological thrillers, which have been published in more than 20 countries and adapted for television. Her novel The Carrier won the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards Crime Thriller of the Year. Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and as a poet has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.

Author Links Webpage - Blog - Facebook - Twitter 
Purchase Closed Casket - Amazon - B&N - HarperCollins - Books-A-Million - IndieBound Purchase The Monogram Murders - Amazon - B&N - HarperCollins Publishers - Books-A-Million -IndieBound  

Tour Participants – Spotlight Tour September 1 – The Book's the Thing September 1 – The Cozy Mystery Journal September 2 – Shelley's Book Case September 2 – Celticlady's Reviews September 3 – A Holland Reads September 3 – The Broke Book Bank September 4 – Brooke Blogs September 4 – 3 Partners in Shopping Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! September 5 – The Bookwyrm's Hoard September 5 – Readsalot September 6 – Queen of All She Reads September 6 – Carole's Book Corner September 7 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf September 7 – Socrates' Book Reviews September 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book September 8 – Island Confidential September 9 – StoreyBook Reviews September 9 – Bea's Book Nook September 10 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews September 10 – The Power of Words September 11 – Cozy Up With Kathy September 11 – LibriAmoriMiei September 12 – Jemima Pett, Author September 12 – The Girl with Book Lungs  

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Spotlight - Snow Way Out

August 31 was Buy a Friend a Book Day. I received a book. Did you? I got Snow Way Out by Christine Husom. This book is the first in the Snow Globe Shop Mystery series and was published in January 2015.

From the back cover:

Curio-shop manager Camryn Brooks thought she'd seen every kind of snow globe-until she found one depicting a crime scene...

Ever since she was a child, Cami has loved the sparkling beauty of snow globes, and now she sells them. In fact, they're so popular, Cami and her friend-coffee shop owner Alice "Pinky" Nelson-are hosting a snow globe-making class.

After the flurry of activity has ended and everyone has gone off with their own handmade snow globes, Cami spots on a shelf a new globe left behind, featuring an odd tableau-a man sleeping on a park bench.

On her way home, she drifts through the town park and is shaken to come upon the scene from the globe-a man sitting on a bench. But he isn't sleeping-he has a knife in his back. When the police arrive, it's clear they consider Cami a little flaky and possibly a suspect. After her friends also come under suspicion, Cami starts plowing through clues to find the cold-blooded backstabber-before someone else gets iced...

Snow-globe making project and tips included.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading My Heart's Desire by Andrea Kane. This book is actually the 25th anniversary edition of the Regency Classic.

Lady Alexandria Cassel scorns the ton and all it stands for so she decides to leave England just before her first Season and visit her father who is working in Canada. Perhaps there Alex will be free to find her heart's desire. However, she continues her unconventional plan in a most unconventional manner. Taking no extra clothing, let alone a servant, Alex pens a hasty note to her mother, and stows aboard a Canadian bound ship. What she doesn't realize is that Captain Drake Barrett of said ship happens to be Lord Cairnham, one of the most elite members of the ton, who also holds that society in disdain.

As Duke keeps his identity quiet, Alex charms the rest of the men and slowly begins to melt Duke's icy heart. A happy ending however will be made more difficult by secrets, as well as Duke's treacherous younger brother, Alex's cold father, an upcoming war, and a ship caught in the crosshairs.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Nine LiFelines Interview and Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Joyce Ann Brown to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Joyce writes the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series. Nine LiFelines is the third book in the series and was released earlier this year.

Kathy: Nine LiFelines is the third book in the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series. Do you happen to live with a psycho cat?

JAB: I live with two cats, Moose and Chloe. Both act like cats, which makes them naturally psycho. The female disappears sometimes and appears out of nowhere after we’ve looked in every possible hiding place—maybe she becomes The Invisible Cat. The male likes to perch on my chest and head-butt my chin when I’m trying to read. They haven’t sniffed out clues to mysteries or saved me from a maniacal murderer yet, but I’ve no doubt they would.

Kathy: You were once a landlady. How does being a fictional landlady compare to the reality?

JAB: In my books, I describe some of the chores I actually perform, but so far there’ve been no murders or disappearing tenants. I see mysteries everywhere, and a couple of stories came from actual events at my rental units.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JAB: I like to read cozies. I love The Cat Who… series, Diane Mott Davidson’s culinary mysteries, and Agatha Christie’s amateur sleuths, among other. When I decided to write mysteries, cozies were a natural.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JAB: I write articles, essays, and short stories. I’m planning to write a book of memoirs.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JAB: In the first book of my Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series, cat yowls make Beth, a Kansas City landlady, aware that her renter has disappeared. The renter is a relative, and Beth becomes a reluctant investigator. She solves that case, but in subsequent books, mysterious events in her rental units lead to more investigations.

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

JAB: Of course, I’m partial to my protagonist, Beth, who is a constant in the series. Otherwise, I like Talia, a young lady from FURtive Investigation. She’s a workaholic, socially insecure, and resistant to relationships with men. But she’s caring, kind, and concerned about everyone, much like Beth.

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

JAB: Yes. It was a friend’s story about her "psycho” cat that saved her life one time. (Or so her story went.)

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JAB: I want people to enjoy the stories.

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

JAB: Lilian Jackson Braun, Edgar Allen Poe, Madeleine L’Engle, and Ivan Doig

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JAB: Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

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

JAB: I have lots of hobbies and interests. I was a school librarian and was interested in every subject or research topic the students and teachers brought to me. I fit the cliché "Jack of all trades, master of none." Now, I play tennis, belong to a walking group, love books and movies, cook, and travel for research and fun but spend most of my time writing.

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

JAB: I keep rice, apples, flour, and lettuce.

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

JAB: Yes. I have notes for a fourth Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery and for a book of three memoirs with a common theme.

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

JAB: I love using my imagination.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Spotlight & Giveaway - The Tj Jensen Cozy Mysteries

I'd like to shine a spotlight today on a whole series. The Tj Jensen Cozy Mysteries by Kathi Daley were originally self published.  Now the first 6 books in the series are being re-released by Henery Press on September 6th.


The Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery series is set in Serenity, Nevada, a small alpine town which borders the fictional Paradise Lake. There is an emphasis on the relationships between the characters and lots of animal involvement, not to mention food. The books include recipes! 


Bio: Kathi Daley lives with her husband, kids, grandkids, and Bernese mountain dogs in beautiful Lake Tahoe. When she isn’t writing, she likes to read (preferably at the beach or by the fire), cook (preferably something with chocolate or cheese), and garden (planting and planning, not weeding). She also enjoys spending time in the water, hiking, biking, and snowshoeing. Kathi uses the mountain setting in which she lives, along with the animals (wild and domestic) that share her home, as inspiration for her five cozy mystery series: Zoe Donovan, Whales and Tails Island, Tj Jensen, Sand and Sea Hawaiian, and Seacliff High Teen.


Kathi is graciously sponsoring a giveaway. The prize is the winner's choice of any of the 6 Tj books - Kindle or Paperback - NON US Kindle only. Simply leave a comment on this blog post no later than 11:59pm EDT Re-Release Day, September 6th, 20016. Be sure to leave an e-mail address so that I may contact you, should you be the lucky winner!


Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Mud Bog Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Lesley A. Diehl to the blog today. Lesley writes the Eve Appel mystery series. Mud Bog Murder, the fourth book in the series, was released September 1.

Kathy: In Mud Bog Murder Sabal Bay, Florida is overrun with Monster Truck fans for its Mud Bog races. Are you a fan of Monster Trucks?

LAD: I am not a fan. If you’ve never seen these trucks, you can’t imagine how their gigantic wheels make them so high you can’t possibly see around them if you are parked next to them in a parking area or drive behind them on a road. I’ve never seen one of them clean, although I’m certain they must be clean at some point, but I’ve always encountered them covered with mud fresh from their bogging events. However, I also understand for such an economically depressed county as I live in, a mud bog event brings fans into the area and is temporarily a boon for the towns nearby. The tearing up of what is considered wasted land destroys natural habitat and interrupts breeding places for Florida’s wildlife. Although there is nothing I consider particularly pretty about alligators, they are part of the landscape and need wet areas in which to breed and live. Fill in the swamps and use boggy areas for bogging events and you disrupt the natural balance. But then, that’s what has been happening ever since Florida became the land of runaway development.

Kathy: Environmental activists have also come to town. What do you think are some of the biggest threats to our environment?

LAD: There are three big ones: air pollution, water pollution and destruction of wildlife habitat. In all cases, Florida is one of the states that ranks high in these areas. The three areas are also inextricably intertwined. Greater numbers of people mean the use of more cars and the development of more housing. That means land is cleared and wildlife habitat is destroyed. Building of roads in rural Florida impedes water flow from the North. Sugarcane fields and ranching/farming creates run off into Lake Okeechobee which in turn releases this run off into the canals that carry water to the East coast and pollutes the estuaries there. Polluted estuaries destroys the coral reefs offshore. And we go on and on in a vicious cycle. The answer is cooperation among the various water, environmental protection, development and other agencies, something that has yet to happen, not just in Florida, but in many areas.

Kathy: If you were to protest something, what would it be?

LAD: I wonder if there is a group who might like to get together and protest mendacity which seems to be at the heart of a lot of issues?

I did my share of protesting when I was younger, for peace, civil rights and women’s rights. Now my role is informing people about injustices, so I do it in the best way I can—by writing mysteries with a message.

Kathy: Partly because I live in WNY and partly because I'm interested in the paranormal your 1874 cottage in the Butternut River Valley intrigues me. Have you considered setting a story here?

LAD: I have set a stand alone mystery and two mystery series in Upstate New York, but never used my house as a specific setting. I’ve written on my blog and on other blogs about my ghost Fred who, by the way, has been very quiet this summer. We assume he’s visiting relatives across the stream from us in the cemetery because we have upset everything in the house by renovating our bedroom. I don’t blame him for leaving. I wanted to pack my bags and follow him. I don’t think I can stand another construction project, but when you own a house as old as ours, you renovate endlessly.
I don’t write paranormal fiction but I’d be glad to have you use my house as a setting if you do. I have read some of Heather Graham’s work and met her on several occasions at conferences. What a nice lady.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

LAD: Like many my age, I read Nancy Drew as a girl, then graduated to Agatha Christie and went on to read other mysteries, but I loved the cozy mysteries. I always felt they came closest to the kind of lives we lead daily and are the perfect vehicle for inserting the issues we encounter in our lives. I also love to laugh and consider it the most inexpensive, but effective therapy for our woes. So my cozy mysteries are humorous.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

LAD: I write short stories, but most of them are cozy mysteries. My brewing mystery series is a cozy mystery but not a humorous one. I have two uncompleted mysteries on my computer. One is a kind of noir cozy, the other a more traditional mystery. I used to write bad poetry.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

LAD: In Eve Appel mysteries transplant Connecticut native Eve Appel sets up a consignment shop in rural Florida to bring high end fashion to the area and finds there’s more to selling designer clothes than a good eye. There are also cowboys, cattle, horses, alligators, swamps and …murder. When you’re as snoopy as Eve, you get involved in solving these crimes, and you drag everyone you know into the case while making new friends along the way.

My other series include:

The Big Lake Murder Mysteries, soon to be rereleased (Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Chilled and Killed: Emily Rhodes is a retired preschool teacher and a winter visitor to rural Florida. She’s also prone to stumbling over dead bodies. A local police detective and a cantankerous bass fisherman vie for her attention romantically while Emily inserts herself in the murder investigations and runs afoul of killers intent upon keeping long standing family secrets.

Laura Murphy Mysteries: (Murder Is Academic and Failure Is Fatal) Psychology Professor Laura Murphy has her position at the college and a new man in her life, but her friend who is a detective on the local police force needs her help when college colleagues and students pile up as suspects in local murders.

Microbrewing Mysteries: (A Deadly Draught and Poisoned Pairings) Money is always an issue for Hera Knightsbridge, owner of a microbrewery in Upstate New York, but drought, hydraulic fracturing and murder invade the valley and force Hera to join forces with an old rival to find the killers and restore tranquility to her community..

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

LAD: I’m kind of crazy about Eve Appel. She is everything I am not: courageous, tall, skinny, impulsive, unafraid to take chances, and she drives the same kind of car I do.

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

LAD: Living in rural Florida among the cowboys—yes, real cowboys with hats, spurs, chaps and boots—is almost inspiration enough, but reading articles about young men diving into an alligator infested slough and losing an arm to a gator or someone discovering a seventeen foot constrictor is almost too much inspiration. It’s hard to top the real stories with ones an author can make up, but there’s certainly a lot of raw material everywhere you look. I’m a winter visitor, one of those snowbirds who come to Florida for the warm weather during the frigid months in the North, so I liked the idea of creating a character who had the same status, an Yankee outsider finding her way in business in a rural Florida community. Eve’s appearance shouts “I’m not one of you!” and her resistance to playing by their set of rules makes her transition into the community less than smooth. Perhaps her best friend, Madeleine, petite and ladylike can help Eve adjust.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

LAD: I think every writer writes for two audiences, herself and others. How else to get my work out to others if not through publication? I’ve had other mystery series published before the Eve Appel mysteries, so I understood the process and was a member of several mystery writing organizations such as Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America

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

LAD: I’ll assume I can mix up the living and the dead. I’d invite Robert Parker because I admire his lean but effective approach to dialogue, Mark Twain for his irreverent take on human nature, Elizabeth George for her ability to write the psychology of human relationships, and Alexander McCall Smith because he seems to find the good in every character he creates.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

LAD: I read something every night. Right now I’m finishing Alexander McCall Smith’s A Right Attitude to Rain.

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

LAD: I garden, hike, cook, and love to shop for secondhand items at yard sales or consignment shops. Today I purchased a wrought iron plant stand at a yard sale. It’s always a mystery what you’ll find when digging through items for sale in a garage or secondhand store. I like the challenge of getting a bargain.

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

LAD: Greek yogurt, lettuce, eggs and multigrain bread.

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

LAD: The fifth book in the Eve Appel mysteries is entitled Old Bones Never Die. Camel Press will release it sometime next year.

Here’s a blurb for it: Sammy Egret, Eve’s Miccosukee Indian friend, thinks he has discovered in bones uncovered at a construction site the story behind his father’s disappearance over 30 years ago. While Eve and Sammy fight to uncover the facts behind the burial, another Miccosukee family is equally determined to make sure the secrets buried with the bones stay hidden.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
LAD: I get to create a world in which good always triumphs over bad.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Beyond Dead - An Interview & Review

I'm pleased to welcome Jordaina Sydney Robinson to Cozy Up With Kathy. Jordiana pens the Bridget Sway novels. Beyond Dead is the first in the series and was released earlier this year.

Kathy: In Beyond Dead Bridget Sway may be dead, but she's still working. Do you believe in life, and working, after death?

JSR: My views on what happens when you die are a little contradictory. I believe in reincarnation (although I’m not entirely sure how that could happen) but I also believe that when your body dies your soul/spirit/energy goes on to the next phase/life and your journey just keeps going. Whether that’s Heaven in the traditional sense or some place else. I know that sounds all new agey and a bit out there but we’re all made up of energy so the thought that when you die that’s the end just doesn’t seem plausible to me.

Kathy: Have you ever had a ghostly encounter?

JSR: Honestly, no. I haven’t had anything even remotely close. I don’t know anyone who has actually which is odd because I live in a very old city. I’ve been on a ghost tour around it a few Halloweens ago so I’ve heard a lot of the stories but I’ve never experienced anything. And I’m sort of glad about that to be honest because I’m pretty sure that thought would spring to mind every time I had a shower!

Kathy: Bridget has mediums demanding her attention. While I know a psychic or two, I don't know any mediums and I've never had one give me a message. Have you?

JSR: Again, no and it’s not something I’d seek out either. I’ve known people who have received messages from mediums and gained comfort from that but it’s just not for me. Whilst on one level I’d find it reassuring to think that a loved one who’d passed away was still around and watching over me I’d also find it upsetting that they hadn’t moved on with their journey.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JSR: Murder, She Wrote I think! And Remington Steel. I know they’re not technically cosy mysteries but they’re sort of the TV version. To be honest, I love murder mysteries in all their forms whether books, TV or films – Cluedo is my favourite board game too! Also, I’m a big fan of humour in books and if you can toss in a dash of romance too then I’m extra happy. Cosy mysteries have all that and are usually a series as well which is my preference over stand-alone novels.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JSR: I want to say yes to this because I feel like I do but I suppose they’re really all a sub-category of the cosy mystery genre. There are always three basic elements in any story I write and they murder, humour, friendships. I feel this, more than anything else, makes them cosy mysteries even though they might spill over the side of the typical cosy mystery mould a little.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JSR: The Bridget Sway series is about a ghost, with a bit of an attitude problem and a best friend who used to be a PI in life, who solves ghost murders. That’s really Bridget in a nutshell.

I have a new series out at the start of next year which revolves around a newspaper reporter, Aurora North, who investigates paranormal happenings and finds rational explanations for them and a few dead bodies along the way. The easiest way to describe that is to say it’s a bit like a cross between Scooby Doo and the X-files.

I have a couple more series out towards the end of next year. One is about the assistant to the horsemen of the apocalypse and the other is a YA urban fantasy type deal.

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

JSR: I do! Aurora North (Rora to her friends) is far and away my favourite character. She was my very first heroine (even though her series wasn’t the first series released). She and I started our journey together so she’ll always have an extra special place in my heart.

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

JSR: No, not really. Someone else asked me about this recently and I can’t even remember how the idea of Bridget came about. The inspiration for Aurora, though, came from the trillion jobs I’ve had. Her character was initially a retail worker (like myself) who really struggled to keep a job (like myself) because weird things kept happening at her jobs (completely unlike myself!). Her character and the series have changed so much from where we started out.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JSR: I desperately wanted to quit my day job so I could write all day, every day! When I first started out getting traditionally published was the goal but the more I looked into it the more I realised it wasn’t the route I wanted to take. It was quite a lengthy transition in terms of a shift in mindset but I realised that self-publishing held so many more opportunities for me.

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

JSR: Harper Lee because every time I read To Kill a Mockingbird it just blows me away. Richard Castle – yes, I know he’s fictional but he’s awesome. G. K. Chesterton because I think he would be just fascinating, and Shakespeare because I’d love to know what he thought of his work being studied under such scrutiny year after year in schools. That and whether he really was trying to say all those things my English teacher said he was trying to say.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JSR: When I’m in the middle of writing I try not to read other cosy mysteries because I find it really difficult to write my own books when I’m immersed in someone else’s characters. I try to read books that will help with my writing. Currently I’m trying to read The Hero with a Thousands Faces by Joseph Campbell but every time I sit down to read it I get that unsettled feeling that I should be writing!

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

JSR: Sure. I really enjoy knitting while watching TV. I don’t watch TV in general but I have certain programmes that I record and watch (iZombie, Agatha Raisin, Blindspot). I want to learn to crochet but I never seem to be in the right mindset to set aside ten minutes to learn the basics from youtube. Also, I love running. I find it really peaceful.

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

JSR: Milk, teabags, chocolate and sugar. Although, to me, this is technically one item since the milk, teabags and sugar make a cup of tea and the chocolate accompanies it!

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

JSR: Absolutely! As I mention earlier A Little More Dead, book three in the Bridget Sway series, is due out late autumn/early winter this year. I’m also working on a novella series specifically for my newsletter list. Hopefully that will be out later this year too. Then I have a series called Things That Go Bump In The Night which features Aurora North which will be out at the start of next year. Busy, busy, busy!

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

JSR: I love living in my imagination. I love that I can sit at my desk/picnic bench and create something from nothing. Also, I quite like not having to do my hair or make up and the extremely short commute!



BEYOND DEAD by Jordaina Sydney Robinson
The First Bridget Sway Novel

Bridget Sway is not having a good day. She catches her fiance having sex with another woman and runs outside where she trips and falls into the oncoming path of a bus. Which kills her. But that's not the end. That's just the beginning.

BEYOND DEAD is the story of the afterlife of Bridget Sway who's discovering that things can actually get worse after you die. On her first day of work Bridget finds a dead ghost guy in her locker. That's bad, as is being taken in by the police for questioning. What may even be worse is being forced to share a house with a bunch of strangers, dying, without basic hygiene essentials, and having to not only go to work, but attend Ghostly Acclimatisation meetings. Basically Bridget is living in a bureaucratic nightmare. The good news is she found a like minded friend in Sabrina. Bridget's new best friend happened to be a PI when she was alive and convinces Bridget to investigate the dead ghost's murder. Between trying to learn her new job, getting used to being dead (the GA meetings aren't that helpful), dealing with her incredibly annoying, yet very hot, guardian, Bridget must also learn to deal with mediums and avoid being killed herself! It's not easy being dead.

You could easily dislike Bridget. She's vain, spoiled, and a bit shallow, but you don't. She exemplifies that snarky bit that exists in all of us. Add all the horrible things she's been dealing with recently and Bridget becomes someone to sympathize with and root for! And laugh with. Or maybe at...see, there's that snarky bit of me. Something tells me my behavior might be quite similar to Bridget's if I found myself in a similar afterlife.

Jordaina Sydney Robinson creates a unique view of the afterlife in BEYOND DEAD. She also gives us an interesting and complex mystery, some sexual tension, and lots of laughs. Filled with quirky characters BEYOND DEAD is a fantastic start to a new series. I look forward to seeing what trouble Bridget, Sabrina, and Edith get into next. Whatever happens, I expect that neither Oz, the GBs, nor the police will be prepared for it!