Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Tangled Interview

I'm pleased to welcome Mike Martin to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Mike writes the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. A Tangled Web is the sixth book in the series.

Kathy: Sgt. Windflower is a Mountie in Grand Bank, Newfoundland.What makes the Mountie such an iconic symbol?

MM: A Mountie is a member of Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They were the original police in the old Canadian western frontier and remain a beloved symbol of Canada. They still provide basic police services to thousands of small Canadian communities, like Grand Bank where Sgt. Windflower is stationed.

Kathy: Although Sgt Windflower is an active member of law enforcement, you chose to make his series a cozy instead of a police procedural. Why did you choose that direction?

MM: I find the procedures too technical and hard to follow and it really isn’t me. I am a story teller and the cozy or traditional model suits me and my style of storytelling much better.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MM: I am not the main cozy person in my household. My partner, Joan is the cozy lover and she is the one who introduced me. I love the small town feel and the light, but intriguing style of the genre.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MM: I have been a freelance writer for a long time, but other than a few short stories I have not ventured much past the mystery genre in fiction,

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MM: The Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series is set in small communities in Newfoundland, on the easternmost tip of Canada. It features a Cree RCMP officer, Sgt. Winston Windflower who is from far away and stationed in Grand Bank. It follows his adventures as he explores the food, culture, history and traditions in this part of the world. And he falls in love, with a two legged female and a four-legged one as well.

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

MM: I love Windflower. But my favorite character is actually his partner and wife, Sheila Hillier. She is her own woman, a successful business person and the Mayor of Grand Bank. She is teaching Windflower (and me) about love and relationships. I am always interested to see where Shelia will go next.

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

MM: I always wanted to write something that featured my home province, Newfoundland, and when I was visiting Grand Bank the idea came to me about this series. Actually, it was like Sgt. Windflower walked out of the fog and started talking to me. I just wrote down his story. And he’s still talking!!

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MM: I wanted to have a real book out in the world. I have always been a writer, of some sorts. But it didn’t feel real until I actually published the first book in the series, The Walker on the Cape. I guess that’s why people talk about realizing their dream. Because that became real for me.

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

MM: I would invite JK Rowling because I think she is so cool, Stephen King to talk about writing. And JRR Tolkien and Charles Dickens just to listen.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MM: I am reading Louise Penny’s new book Glass Houses. But so is most of the world right now!!

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

MM: I like to walk, cycle and exercise. I am also a huge Ottawa Senators hockey fan and I love baseball.

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

MM: Apples, several varieties of cheese, soup and crackers. I can survive the nuclear war for at least a few days.

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

MM: I am currently pitching a new mystery series called Curveball that centered on minor league baseball.

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

MM: I am blessed to have people take the time to read my books. That is the gift that readers give to me and I am very grateful for that.


Excerpt from A Tangled Web

“Life doesn’t get much better than this,” said Winston Windflower. The Mountie looked over at his collie, Lady, who wagged her tail at the sound of his voice. If dogs could smile, she smiled back. His world was almost perfect. He had the love of a great woman and a good job as a Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling one of the lowest crime regions in the country. Plus, the weather had been mild so far, at least for Newfoundland in early December, and that meant no snowstorms with forced overnighters at the detachment. Life was very good indeed.

He had good friends, including Lady, who was amongst the best of them. And he had a child on the way. His wife, Sheila Hillier, was pregnant and at the clinic for her three-month checkup. He was waiting to hear how both Sheila and the baby were doing. His Auntie Marie had told him the baby was a girl, and if anyone knew about these things, it was his Auntie. She was a dream weaver, an interpreter of not just dreams but of messages from the spirit world. Windflower had recently spent a week with her and his Uncle Frank, another dream weaver, to learn more about the dream world. 

Interpreting dreams was part of his family’s tradition. But it was an imperfect tool that gave information, not always answers. Perhaps the most important thing he learned was that dreams do not predict the future. Instead, as his Auntie told him, “Dreams tell us about our past, what has already happened. They also point to actions we should take if we want to get the right result in the future and to the signs all around us that we need to follow.”
Windflower was contemplating that piece of wisdom when he noticed a very distraught woman get out of her car outside the RCMP detachment in Grand Bank. She ran towards the front door. He walked out to meet her, but the administrative assistant, Betsy Molloy, beat him to it.

“There, there now, Molly. What’s goin’ on?” asked Betsy as she put her arms around the other woman and guided her to a seat in the reception area.

“It’s Sarah, she’s gone,” said the other woman between sobs. “I told her to stay close by the house where I could see her. I went out back to put the wash on the line. When I came in, she was gone.”

“Okay, Mrs. Quinlan,” said Windflower as he knelt down beside the two women. “How old is Sarah?” He didn’t really need to know how old the girl was. He wanted to help the mother calm down so she could give them as much information as possible. 

“She’s going to be six next month,” said Molly Quinlan. “She’s growing up so fast. But she’s still such a little girl. And now I’ve lost her. Brent is going to kill me.” She started sobbing again. 

“What was she wearing so that we can help find her?” asked Windflower, trying to get information but also trying to help Molly Quinlan feel useful.

The woman stopped crying and said her daughter was wearing jeans and a favourite t-shirt. “It was pink and had sparkles. She said it made her feel like she was a princess. And she had her light blue jacket on with a hood.”

Windflower smiled. “I’m sure she’ll show up soon. But let’s go over to where you last saw her, and we’ll start looking. She can’t have gone far. Leave your car here, and come with me. I’ll drive you over.” The woman smiled weakly at Windflower through her tears and allowed him to take her arm and guide her to his Jeep outside the door.

He returned inside to give directions to Betsy. “Get Constable Smithson in here. I’ll call Frost and get him to come in from his rounds.”

Betsy nodded her agreement, and Windflower went outside to drive Molly Quinlan home.

Meanwhile, it turns out, Sarah Quinlan was fine, perfectly fine. She had wandered a little way from home in the centre of town. She was going to go down to the nearby brook to feed the ducks. She knew better than to go into the water, but she couldn’t see any reason why she couldn’t just look. She’d done it before, and nobody seemed to mind. As long as she didn’t stay away too long, everything was okay. 

Sarah had that great fearless attitude of a child who grew up in a small and very safe community. She knew most of her neighbours, and they all watched out for her. She also had the natural curiosity of little children, especially when she saw something new. The truck parked on the roadway above the brook was new, so Sarah went to take a closer look. Even better, the back door of the truck was open, and there was a ramp leading inside. This was certainly worth a closer inspection.

Sarah Quinlan was having fun exploring the back of the large truck when she heard a loud, rumbling noise. She didn’t know it, but the driver had started the engine. It was so loud, and Sarah was so frightened by it, she froze. The next thing she remembered was everything going almost completely black and the back door of the truck slamming shut. She cried out, but by then it was too late. Seconds later she, the truck and the unsuspecting driver were barrelling out of town and onto the highway.

Windflower drove Molly Quinlan to her house and got her to show him where Sarah had been playing. Together they walked through the house to see if the little girl had come home and hidden there. But no such luck. While they were searching the house, they were joined by two of Quinlan’s neighbours who took over Molly’s care and made her a cup of tea. Soon afterwards Constable Harry Frost arrived from his highway patrol. 

Windflower gave him a quick update and directed him to go to one end of town to start the search. He would begin the house-to-house search through the neighbourhood when Smithson showed up.

He first checked out back and looked in the storage shed, a favourite hiding place of every little kid and probably where Windflower himself would have taken refuge. But Sarah was not there. As he went to the front of the house, Constable Rick Smithson showed up.
“Afternoon, Boss,” said Smithson. “Any sign of her yet?”

Windflower shook his head. “Frost is doing the big circle search. You and I will start the door-to-door. Ask them if they saw the girl this afternoon. I’ll start from here. You go down to the brook, and work your way up.”

Smithson returned to his cruiser and sped off. Windflower wasn’t worried. Yet. But he knew that the first few hours were crucial in finding a missing child. If they didn’t, then it was almost always something more serious. Not time to panic, but no time to waste. He walked up to the first door and knocked.


Cozy Mystery 6th in Series, Inc. (October 1, 2017) 
Paperback: 338 pages 
Life is good for Sgt. Wind¬flower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.

About the Author:

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a longtime freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune, and A Long Ways from Home.

A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.

 Facebook at  
Twitter @mike54martin
Purchase Link - Amazon

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert. This book is the first in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series and will be released December 12th.

Taylordsford is a small Virginian town built on old families and secrets. Fleeing a disastrous breakup Amy Webber left the academic library of Clarion University and has come to live with her aunt and work as director for the town's public library. Although vowing to keep good looking artistic men at bay, Amy can't help but be intrigued by her neighbor's research, looking into an old town mystery. Instead of archival documents, however, they find the murdered body of an elderly patron. Who would want to kill the harmless woman? Was it a passing stranger? As Amy and Richard explore a mystery from the past they uncover secrets that may be deadly in the present.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Margaritas, Mayhem, and Murder Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Mary Cunningham to the blog today. Mary writes the Andi Anna Jones Mystery series. Margaritas, Mayhem, and Murder is the first book in the series and will released this Thursday!

Kathy: In Margaritas, Mayhem, and Murder travel agent Anna Jones books a cruise to Cancun for her father's widow. Have you ever been on a cruise?

MC: Several! Like protagonist, Andi, I was a travel agent in Miami and was able to “preview” a few short cruises at very little expense. My favorite all-time was a cruise my husband and I took on a small ship line called the Dolphin. Unlike the floating cities of today, this one really gave you the experience of being on the ocean. (Dramamine was a necessity!) There were only about 600 passengers and while they had a casino and nightly entertainment, we had a chance to enjoy a true cruising experience and relax. I loved it.

Kathy: Are you an armchair traveler, or do you enjoy actually visiting other places?

MC: I used to love traveling more than I do now. We’ve lived in 9 different locations, so experience different locales, food, people, came naturally. I do find the older I get the more hassle it is to live out of a suitcase. We still travel, but only short trips in which we can take our sweet rescue dog, Lucy. We have no relatives living close enough to keep her and a kennel, no matter how luxurious, isn’t an option. I’m not sure how much Lucy would miss us, but we’d sure miss her! Still, it’s always exciting to visit new places and to visit the kids and grandkids.

Kathy: Are you a fan or margaritas and/or Mariachi bands?

MC: Definitely margaritas! On the rocks, thank you very much…with a salt rim. And while I enjoy Mariachi music, my favorite “traveling” music is the Louisiana Cajun sound. We lived near New Orleans for a year, during which I gained ten pounds! My heritage is French, so that may be why I felt so at home in the Bayou. Maybe I lived there in a past life? Who knows?

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MC: I wasn’t so sure what the Andi Anna Jones mysteries would be when I began writing them. I just wrote what I hoped would be, a fun, fast-paced mystery with unforgettable characters. Now I am drawn to the genre. I can’t count how many cozy mysteries I’ve read this year and how many new cozy author/friends I’ve made. My only complaint is that I didn’t begin writing cozy mysteries years ago!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MC: I started out with a co-written non-fiction women’s humor book, WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty; a selection of stories, poems, and advice to help laugh your way through the aging process.

A recurring dream I’d had for twenty-plus years about a mysterious attic led to my five-book, middle-grade time-travel/mysteries series, Cynthia’s Attic.

I also have another middle-grade/young adult series in process, The Adventures of Max & Maddie.

In my “spare time” (Ha!), I’m writing a biography for a former military brat/college and WNBA basketball player and the foundation she set up to benefit the children of deployed military. This is a real challenge since I’ve never written a full bio before; just family memoirs.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

The Andi Anna Jones series begins with Andi, a mediocre travel agent, with an inferiority complex about her job, her looks, and her single status, discovering her "inner sleuth" when forced to fly to Cancun after her dad's widow is arrested for the murder of a has-been lounge singer. She soon discovers her talent to flesh out clues and solve mysteries far surpasses her ability to book vacations and handle complaints from unhappy clients.

In the middle-grade series, Cynthia’s Attic, magical costumes, disappearing stairs and a spooky attic filled with dusty antiques provide two, adventurous, young girls more than they ask for.
Best friends, Cynthia and Gus as she prefers to be called, are as "different as bubble gum and broccoli." They are, however, equal in their ability to get into trouble without much effort.
In trying to escape the "boring summer" of 1964, the adventurous twelve-year-old girls stumble upon a trunk in Cynthia's attic that has been in her family for three generations.

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

MC: Right now, Andi Anna Jones is my favorite character; possibly because I see a lot of her in me. Or, maybe I just wish I could be as adventurous as she; although, like me, she has her vulnerable side. She has a great sense of humor, doesn’t take herself too seriously, and is a flawed, but kind-hearted young woman with an indomitable spirit.

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

MC: As mentioned above, I was a travel agent for about a year. Why just a year? Because I was terrible!! I faked my way through those awful months with the help of a co-worker. I still wonder whether she helped me out of the goodness of her heart or figured it was easier to help me get it right the first time rather than having to correct all my mistakes later. For whatever reason, Andi’s assistant, Ellie, is loosely-based on my “savior” in Florida.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MC: Like most writers, I have a certain amount of ego that requires reading my words in actual print. Oh, sure, the joy of writing is paramount, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the thrill of seeing the book cover with the title and my name splashed across the front! It’s also very satisfying when readers and peers enjoy my stories, humor, and voice.

I get the most satisfaction, however, inspiring young readers to write!

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

MC: I’d love to talk to JK Rowling since Harry Potter gave me the motivation to write my first children’s series. I’m fascinated by the fact that she seems so down-to-earth while having such creative stories and characters spinning around in her head.

JRR Tolkien is another simply because Lord of the Rings has always been a favorite. What must his mind have been like to keep all those characters straight!

Mystery writer, Louise Penny is another. I imagine gathering incomparable advice and inspiration from her!

I’d also love to sit down with Stephen King. To be able to pick the brain of the author who wrote Salem’s Lot, Carrie, and The Shining, along with emotional stories like Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, would be an incredible experience.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MC: Just started Say Goodbye for Now, by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I just finished a couple of cozy mysteries, Howling at the Moon, by Karen MacInerney and The Big Chili by Julia Buckley. Several others from my favorite author list comprised my summer reading.

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

MC: When I have time to join my husband on the links, I play golf (started playing when I was ten!). I also spend the summers swimming and doing water aerobics. Must be my Pisces birth sign that draws me to water. I also love watching my beloved Indiana Hoosier basketball team. Being raised in Indiana, basketball is practically a religion.

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

MC: Dove Dark Chocolate, Hershey’s Dark Chocolate with Almonds, Dove Dark Chocolate and Salted Carmel, and several cans of Rotel tomatoes (they make any recipe better!).

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

MC: Definitely! I’ve already started Book # 2 in the Andi Anna Jones series, and I’m tweaking my middle-grade series, The Adventures of Max & Maddie. Two other adult mysteries are in the works, along with a biography. Now, to find the time to write!

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

MC: The thrill of writing a sentence, reading it and thinking, “Daggone, that’s good!”

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