Friday, March 22, 2019

An Au Pair to Remember - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Stephen Kaminski back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Stephen starts a new series with AN AU PAIR TO REMEMBER. This first book in the Male Housekeeper Mystery series was released earlier this year.


Kathy: You start a new series with AN AU PAIR TO REMEMBER. Was there a specific inspiration for this series?

Yes, I wanted to have the series take place in a village modeled on the small town I grew up in—Romeo, MI. So description of the town of Rusted Bonnet is heavily influenced by my fond hometown memories.


Kathy: Cam Reddick takes the helm of his mother’s housekeeping business upon his return to his childhood home of Rusted Bonnet, Michigan. Do you enjoy cleaning? Would you ever consider doing it professionally?

SK: Ha—no! That said, I am very tidy and like having things in place. I was seeking a profession where my protagonist could have access to places he might not regularly enter. A housekeeping business is perfect for that. And Cam’s ex-wife is the Deputy Chief of Police so he’s privy to additional information through her. I also liked showing that I am all for gender equality in professional endeavors.


Kathy: While Cam is struggling with his personal life, he does have a pet to confide in. How did you decide on a pet fish named Bait to be his companion?

SK: Cam’s personal struggles are significant and I expect it to be an undercurrent that weaves its way through all books I write in this series. It’s funny, because as a rescue cat owner, you’d think I’d gravitate toward a feline. But a rescue cat is fairly cliché, so I thought, what better confidant than a rescue fish named Bait, who was saved from being bait himself.


Kathy: Your other series features Dabbling Detective Damon Lassard. How similar or different are your two protagonists?

SK: They are similar in certain external attributes—e.g., age and proclivity toward amateur sleuthing. But their backstories are quite different; Cam has deeper internal struggles, and in this series, I plan to involve even more side plots revolving around clever cons.


Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Cam and will you share any other upcoming books?

SK: I’m actively writing the second book in the series with a plan to have it hit the shelves in January 2020. The crux of the story will take place in a funeral home.

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AN AU PAIR TO REMEMBER: A Male Housekeeper Mystery by Stephen Kaminski

About the Book

 
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series 
Cozy Cat Press (January 27, 2019)  
Paperback: 260 pages
From the author of the award-winning Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series comes the Male Housekeeper Mysteries, focusing on charming characters, snappy dialogue, eclectic murders, and cunning confidence schemes. To his mind, Cam Reddick has failed—as a husband, as a father, and as a professional. After recognizing that his vanilla credentials didn’t stack up in a big city brimming with overachievers and toiling in drudgery for half of a decade, an emotionally raw Cam returns to his childhood hometown—the quaint and quirky village of Rusted Bonnet, Michigan. He’s determined to resuscitate relationships marred by youthful immaturity, most importantly those with his ex-wife Kacey Gingerfield (who doubles as the village’s Deputy Chief of Police) and their first grader, Emma. Armed with striking looks and an endearing proclivity for mixing metaphors, but saddled by “momma’s boy” tendencies, Cam takes the helm of his mother’s housekeeping business—Peachy Kleen. Access to homes across the village facilitates Cam’s penchant for amateur sleuthing as Kacey’s aide-de-camp. Surrounded by Kacey, his sophisticated mother Darby, garrulous senior housekeeper Samantha, and recuse fish cum confidant Bait, Cam’s circuitous journeys to solving murders and unravelling complex cons hasten his struggle down the path of self-healing to self-respect. And there’s hope that—just maybe—he can rekindle the romance he once had with Kacey.
In An Au Pair to Remember, Cam’s plan for a quiet return to Rusted Bonnet is dashed when a beautiful German au pair, Greta Astor, is found dead in Dutch McRae’s foyer with all signs pointing to a hastily disassembled trip wire at the top of the stairs. When Kacey learns that Cam was cleaning the McRae home the previous afternoon, she confides to him that Chief Bernie Leftwich is set on arresting Dutch for the murder—either alone or in tandem with Greta’s bartender boyfriend. But she worries that Bernie’s been duped. And later, when his mother Darby becomes a suspect, Cam inserts himself into the investigation and stumbles through a series of ostensible incongruities—a thief swallowing a cache of stolen diamonds, a snack food distributor laundering money, and a Cash-for-Gold scam. Meanwhile, Peachy Kleen’s young African housekeeper has disappeared with one of the company vans. All the while, Cam finds himself flirting with his new neighbor and struggling with his complicated feelings for Kacey.

About the Author


Stephen Kaminski is the author of An Au Pair to Remember, the first installment of the Male Housekeeper Mystery series. He also writes the award-winning Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective books. Stephen is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School and serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the trade association representing the United States’ poison control system and its fifty-five centers. He lives with his daughter and rescue kitty in the Washington, DC area.

Author Links:

GoodReads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43834065-an-au-pair-to-remember  
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/DamonLassard/  

Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle - Amazon Paperback 

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien. This book is the third in the Noodle House Mystery series and will be released March 26, 2019.

It's time for Cleveland's Best Noodle Contest and Ho-Lee Noodle House is aching to take first prize, or at least beat the Shen family!  With Ho-Lee in the lead after one elimination, everyone takes time to celebrate, even Judge Norman Pan, a restaurant critic known for his scathing reviews. But the party grinds to a halt when the hated judge is found dead. With her sort of boyfriend Detective Trudeau busy working, Lana now faces multiple temptations: Asia Village's hunky new community director, delectable doughnuts from the shop opening next door, and the thrill of solving another murder!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Trouble on the Books - A Spotlight

Today I’d like to shine a spotlight on a new release. Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang is the first book in the Castle Bookshop Mystery series and was released March 12, 2019.


From the book jacket:

Shelby Cox never intended to become a bookseller, so when the former editor returns to her hometown of Alexandria Bay, nestled in Upstate New York’s breathtaking Thousand Islands region, to take over her aunt’s bookstore, she has no idea what to expect. To her amazement, she discovers that she now owns a 50 percent share in Bayside Books and will also run the store’s second location in the majestic castle on nearby Blye Island.

But just as Shelby is gearing up for the start of the tourist season, the Castle volunteer coordinator is found murdered in the nearby Grotto. Castle caretaker Matthew Kessler is suspect number one, but Shelby thinks the killing may be connected to an earlier era, when violence amongst Prohibition-era smugglers was rampant in the region. As Shelby launches her own investigation, handsome and unnerving Special Agent Zack Griffin of the Coast Guard Investigative Services tries to quell her smuggling theory and keep her safe. But Shelby is determined to summon all of her savvy as a book editor to plot the murder-and find the killer before he strikes again.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Prussian Counterpoint - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Nupur Tustin to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Nupur writes the Joseph Haydn Mystery series. PRUSSIAN COUNTERPOINT is the third book in the series and was released March 1, 2019.


Kathy: The Joseph Haydn Mystery series features none other than Franz Joseph Haydn. Of all composers, why choose Haydn to be your protagonist?

NT: There were two reasons. First, I like Haydn and the more I read about him, the more I liked him. Second, I was writing a mystery, and the genre requires a certain type of character. Mysteries aren’t solved by people who are self-obsessed and self-absorbed. You need to have an interest in things beyond yourself.

The best way to see this difference is to read Mozart’s letters and compare them with those of his father, Leopold. The elder Mozart saw the world with almost a journalist’s eye. When he describes places, situations, and people, you can see them quite clearly. Mozart, on the other hand, saw everything in relation to himself. A subtle, but important distinction.

Leopold was interested in political affairs and kept abreast with current affairs. He wrote to his daughter, giving her advice about everything from raising her children to hiring servants and managing her household.

Haydn was the same—he had the complete works of Shakespeare in his library, enjoyed hunting and was a good shot. But he had one other important personality trait—warmth and compassion and an ability to empathize with other people. It was not for nothing that he was called Papa Haydn. From his musicians to his employer, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, there was not an individual who didn’t trust Haydn. He was very approachable and always very willing to help.

Haydn succeeded in his position as Kapellmeister—Director of Music—because he had considerable people skills, a sense of responsibility, and discretion. These same skills enable him to be an effective sleuth. He’s also not full of himself, a trait I admire and respect.

Both as an individual and as an artist, I can relate to Haydn. His emphasis on dilligence and hard work, on the artist as a craftsman rather than divinely inspired in the platonic sense, his persistence in the face of adversity—these are things that resonated with me when I first started delving into his life. And they continue to inspire me.


Kathy: I enjoy classical music, though opera is my go to form. How did your interest in classical music develop?

NT: I grew up listening to it. My mother was very fond of classical music, so we listened to it on the radio and we attended concerts as often as our finances permitted. We listened to other kinds of music as well, of course. And at school, there were singing lessons and a wonderful teacher who was passionate about her work and succeeded in imbuing 120 unruly girls with a sense of harmony and melody. We were always praised for our Founder’s Day performances of hymns.


Kathy: Although my dad tried to teach me trumpet and drums, I never caught on to playing an instrument. I did, however, train as a singer. Do you play any instruments or sing?

NT: Yes, I play the piano and I also compose for it. I haven’t formally trained as a singer, but as I mentioned above we had singing lessons at school, and that was an important foundation for me.

Haydn and his contemporaries believed that the route to becoming a composer was through a knowledge of singing. The voice is the first instrument at our disposal—the one over which we have the most control. And through songs, you develop a sense of phraseology and musicality. That can’t be taught simply by a focus on the instrument.

It’s with good reason that many teachers encourage beginning students to sing as they play. You clap the rhythms; you play the song; and finally, you sing the words as you play the music.

Singing also helps you to begin playing by ear. You develop a sense of the relations between the notes of a song depending upon whether it’s in the major or minor mode. That tells you that Twinkle, Twinkle, for instance, begins on the tonic (played twice) and then moves up to the fifth (also played twice). And then up to the sixth, before going down.


Kathy: How does having a historical figure, instead of a purely fictional one, affect your writing?

NT: It makes things more challenging. When a writer develops a character for their story, they can change the character to fit the needs of the story and the genre in which they write OR they can change the elements of the story to suit the character’s skills. (All this happens in the planning stages, by the way, not in the midst of actually writing the novel.)

As someone who uses historical figures, I can only change the story. The characters are who they are. I need to have a very strong understanding of who they are, so I know how a situation will play out when they’re exposed to it.

The meeting between Empress Maria Theresa and Frederick the Great in Prussian Counterpoint is a perfect example. The two never met in person, but they had a history. My awareness of the King’s contempt for the Empress and her feelings for him helped to shape that encounter. That meeting is plausible because they’re both perfectly in character.

The best compliment I’ve received about my writing—besides being told I’m a good storyteller—is that my historical figures ring true. This from a librarian at the Austrian National Library in Vienna. I had captured Maria Theresa and her son Joseph as they were, she said. She has access to the state archives since the Austrian National Library was formerly the Habsburg library. So, of course, her words were most flattering!


Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

NT: I’ve always enjoyed reading them. I can remember enjoying Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden and later Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. It took me some time to realize that as a writer I needed and wanted to write genre fiction. Most beginning writers think they should change the world by writing something of note. The fact is that as a writer you can only change the world—if you do at all—by writing a good story. Immerse yourself in the story, and the rest follows seamlessly.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

NT: No. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading general fiction or comedy. I do. But mysteries appeal to me. They’re a reminder that any problem, no matter how difficult, can be solved. It takes persistence and ingenuity. But it can be done.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

NT: Well, the Haydn Mysteries are set in Habsburg Austria and feature the great composer as the sleuth. In the first novel, MINOR DECEPTION, a reluctant Haydn is thrust from being Kapellmeister to donning the role of Kapell-detective because a violinist goes inexplicably missing.

In ARIA TO DEATH, the second mystery, Haydn is thrust into a mystery when Monteverdi’s lost operas surface in Vienna, bringing a killer into Haydn’s world.

And in PRUSSIAN COUNTERPOINT, an unexpected invitation from a king who doesn’t appreciate his music launches Haydn into the dangerous world of espionage—and murder.


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

NT: If you’re speaking about my series, I enjoy them all—both the figures I create and the historical figures I use. When it comes to other writers and their series, there are too many I admire to really have a favorite. If I had to pick a few: Detective Murdoch, Father Brown, and Harry Bosch.


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

NT: Yes, I was reading biographical mysteries—Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen series, Susan Wittig Albert’s Beatrix Potter mysteries, Bruce Alexander’s Sir John Fielding series—around about the time that the Haydn Mysteries were conceived seven years ago. But it was really the author’s note in one of Albert’s novels that pushed me to do it. She spoke of her research and how much she’d enjoyed it. I enjoy it, too!

I learned much later from Susan Wittig Albert herself that her Beatrix Potter series were inspired by Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen series!


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

NT: Because as much joy as there is in creating art, there is even greater joy in sharing it. I can’t think of a single author who writes for the sole intention of putting the finished manuscript back in their drawer.

It’s the same reason that impelled Vincent Van Gogh, albeit without much luck, to sell his work. And this is the reason that Haydn, at the height of his fame, stopped his carriage outside a mansion playing one of his quartets, and rushed in to hear the work being played. He was so shabbily dressed, the guardsman refused him entry until be brought forth a few coins.

For any writer to not consider publication or to write without ever having the intention of being read would be akin to cooking a gourmet meal, and then not inviting anyone to eat it. Why bother?


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

There are so many, it’s hard to just come up with a few. But off the top of my head, perhaps Elizabeth George, Agatha Christie, Jeffrey Deaver, and Donna Leon. The conversation, I think, would be quite fascinating.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

NT: I’ve discovered Aaron & Charlotte’ Elkins’ Alix London mysteries. They feature an art restorer and are fascinating as are many of Elkins’ standalones on the same subject.


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

NT: I enjoy painting, playing the piano, and making desserts.


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

NT: I never pay much attention to either, but off the top of my head: almond chocolate milk for my son who has asthma and can’t have dairy, milk for the other two kids and my husband, eggs for a quick meal, ginger for smoothies and other recipes.


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

NT: Yes, but this isn’t really a good time to talk about either. But I am enjoying the research and the flow of ideas. It’s an exciting time.


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

NT: I can’t think of anything I don’t enjoy about it. I love the research. I love sitting down and inhabiting my characters’ heads. I enjoy taking courses and thinking about the craft and reading about it. And I love the fact that being a writer gives me the flexibility to be with my children and to be involved in their education.

I’ve taught my two older children (seven and five years) to read, and they both read well ahead of their grade level. I’m working with my youngest (three years) now while the older kids concentrate on math (with their Dad), history, and science.

Yes, they go to school, but we also work at home. Children benefit from that kind of attention, and it’s truly unfortunate that not many parents have the time to devote to their children.

Yes, that means, sometimes instead of spending two hours on my writing, I’ve spent two hours working with my kids on a poster for a presentation at school. But those two hours are an investment—into their lives and their future. But there’s also the short-term gratification of hearing their teachers say that they’re doing well at school, that the strategies we’re using at home are working.

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Review


PRUSSIAN COUNTERPOINT by Nupur Tustin
The Third Joseph Haydn Mystery

When Empress Maria Theresa summons Joseph Haydn, he's stunned to find that the great Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach has requested to meet him. There is much more afoot, however, than musical interest. King Frederick of Prussia is up to something and the Empress, along with Prince Nikolaus of Esterhazy and most of his household, including Haydn, venture into Potsdam to discover what. Does the Prussian King wish to prevent war? Or start one? Is this part of a plan to decimate Poland? Haydn soon finds himself it the midst of espionage, theft, and murder. Will he be able to figure out the plot against the Empress or will he wind up arrested? Or worse?

Filled with historical significance PRUSSIAN COUNTERPOINT had great meaning for me. Being of Polish descent I am quite familiar with the partitioning of Poland and while the murder was solved, I knew that Haydn wouldn't be able to save Poland.

Although we got to meet C.P.E. Bach, the third Joseph Haydn mystery had little to do with music, and was instead filled with espionage and political machinations. The details about cryptography and steganography were fascinating! I want to try hiding messages that require special masks to read. I loved Haydn's and his maids' reaction to the many paintings of Bach's son, oblivious to their true purpose!

PRUSSIAN COUNTERPOINT is a fascinating political mystery. Sumptuous period detail and exacting historical research add to the intellectual nature of the novel while rich characterization brings heart.

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Prussian Counterpoint: A Joseph Haydn Mystery by Nupur Tustin

About the Book

 
Cozy Mystery  3rd in Series  
Publisher: Foiled Plots Press March 1, 2019 
Paperback: 270 pages
When an enemy makes overtures of friendship, is anyone safe? An unexpected invitation from wily King Frederick causes composer Joseph Haydn to fear he's walking into a trap. After all, the Prussian King has never had any use for Haydn's music. His Majesty seems more intrigued at Haydn's being the son of a market-judge. Worse still, the invitation appears to stir up suspicion in the highest quarters in Vienna. So much so that a mysterious, cloaked lady visits Haydn's Music Room and issues a thinly veiled threat. Now Haydn is convinced there's mischief afoot. But not even he can foresee that he will stumble upon the corpse of the imperial ambassador a day after his arrival in Frederick's Prussia, along with evidence that His Lordship may have been a common thief. Can Haydn salvage the imperial ambassador's reputation—and find his killer?
Praise for the Joseph Haydn Mysteries "A standout in the genre of historical mysteries. An encore is requested!" Midwest Book Review
"Tustin occupies a unique niche in the historical mystery world." Edith Maxwell, Agatha-nominated Author, Quaker Midwife Mysteries
"Wonderful read for fans of historical cozy mysteries. . .The characters are strong and the writing is smooth. . ." Books a Plenty Book Reviews
"An interesting journey and Haydn is a likable main character." Christa Reads and Writes
"Vivid historical descriptions, intricate details, and a fascinating central character kept me turning the pages. Bravo!" Amanda Carmack, award-winning author of The Elizabethan Mystery Series

About the Author


About the Author

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com. Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.  

3 Free Stories on: http://bit.ly/Haydn_Taste_of_Murder  

Webpage: http://ntustin.com  
Blog: http://ntustin.com/blog  
Free Haydn Mystery at Taste of Murder: http://ntustin.com/tasteofmurder  
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ntustinauthor  
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8616151.Nupur_Tustin
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/nupur-tustin  

Purchase Links:

Kobo: http://bit.ly/PrussianKobo
Nook: http://bit.ly/PrussianNook
Apple: https://apple.co/2Sbja9i
Kindle: https://amzn.to/2TCYJiX

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