Friday, February 8, 2019

Death by Committee - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Alexis Morgan To Cozy Up With Kathy today. Alexis writes the Abby McCree Mystery series. DEATH BY COMMITTEE is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: In DEATH BY COMMITTEE Abby McCree finds herself serving on various committees. Have you had your fair share of committee work?

AM: I’ve served on committees in the past. Some were more fun than others. I love working with a group of people who pull together to meet a common goal. I’ve also gained insight into committees through the eyes of various friends who have become active in organizations that are near and dear to their hearts. I’m always amazed how much can be accomplished by a group determined to make a difference.

Kathy: I've always said I should get some goats to mow my lawn. Imagine my surprise when Abby hires a herd of goats to manage an overgrown blackberry patch! Have you ever used goats as gardeners?

AM: I haven’t personally “hired” goats myself, but someone in my neighborhood did a while back. I was driving home from the grocery store and passed a vacant lot on the next block over. They had put up temporary fencing and turned a flock of goats loose inside to help clear out a bunch of blackberry brambles. I’ve always had a special fondness for goats, so I stopped to watch them work. I decided then and there eventually I’d find a way to use that image in a book someday. I don’t know if goat rentals is a thing in many areas, but it definitely is here in the Pacific Northwest.

Kathy: I love Zeke! How did you decide on a mastiff mix to be Abby's inherited pet? Do you have any pets of your own?

AM: I have a blue and white parakeet named Nimbus. He lives in my office and keeps me company while I write. However, it was my two granddogs who were the real inspiration for Zeke. Walter and Remus are both bulldogs, and each one weighs about forty-five pounds. I sort of added them together to create Zeke at ninety-plus pounds. Then I gave him some of their more endearing characteristics—big jowls and their tendencies to snore, drool, and shed. They both love to sleep in sunbeams and are ever hopeful that someone will give them a snack.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AM: I love stories with a strong central protagonist who is surrounded by an equally strong cast of secondary characters, especially with a hint of a romance developing over the course of the series. It makes me want to return to that world to catch up with old friends and to share the amateur sleuth’s next adventure.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AM: My prior books have all been romances. I’ve written contemporary romances, paranormal and fantasy romances as well as American West historical romances.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

AM: The Abby McCree Mysteries: When Abby inherited her late aunt’s home in Snowberry Creek, she never expected to also inherit her aunt’s positions on a whole variety of committees in town. There’s only one problem: Abby wouldn’t mind fulfilling Aunt’s Sybil’s obligations quite so much if she didn’t keep stumbling over dead bodies along the way.

Snowberry Creek Romances: This series of three books and two novellas follow the story of three soldiers who served together in Afghanistan and are now transitioning back to civilian life.

The Paladins: This is my paranormal series about a group of modern warriors and the women who love them. Our world is separated from another one by an energy barrier that goes down when there is an earthquake or volcanic eruption. The Paladins fight to prevent the alien invaders from crossing over in a murderous rage. It’s a secret battle that has been going on for centuries.

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

AM: Boy, that’s a hard question to answer. I love them all. Having said that, I had a great time writing about the three elderly women who were friends of Sybil, Abby McCree’s late aunt. Jean, Louise, and Glenda each have their own funny quirks. Really, don’t get me started on Jean and her love of tuna casseroles. Regardless, they’re such strong women and are there for Abby whenever she needs them, helping her transition to her new life in Snowberry Creek. Always curious and not above enjoying a good bit of gossip, they remind me of so many women I’ve known who form the backbone of the communities where they live.

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

AM: I wanted to write a book about starting over. Abby has lost her marriage, her job, and her favorite aunt. She’s moved to Snowberry Creek to reevaluate her life and where she wants to go next. But she’s not the only one in the story whose life has changed. Tripp Blackston has recently left his life in the military behind. Now he’s learning how to be a civilian again while he’s going to college to finish his degree. Even Zeke has a new owner.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AM: Years ago, I met Janice Kay Johnson, my first published author. As our friendship developed, I became fascinated by what she was doing. She’s the one who convinced me to try my own hand at writing a book. She mentored me through the process and then encouraged me to send my story out into the world. That first book didn’t sell, but my second one did. Not everyone can point to one specific person who changed her life, but Janice changed mine. She and I still meet for lunch regularly to brainstorm ideas, which is high-energy and great fun. We’ve plotted an awful lot of books over burgers and fries. <g>

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

AM: I adore books set in amazingly complex worlds. I’d love to sit down with Anne Bishop (The Others), Nalini Singh (The Psy-Changelings), Ilona Andrews (the husband/wife team who have written several great series), and J. R. R. Tolkien to see how they all approach the process of creating the universes that serve as backdrops for the stories they tell.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AM: I just finished reading Karen White’s five book Tradd Street mystery series. It’s about a woman who sees ghosts and solves murders and other crimes that took place in the past.

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

AM: I love reading and watching shows about geology. In fact, it was my interest in volcanoes and plate tectonics that inspired me to write my Paladins series. It helps that I live in the Pacific Northwest where volcanoes are part of the local landscape.

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

AM: For starters, coconut milk, Ghirardelli’s Mocha Hot Chocolate Mix, and whipped cream. I combine those for either a relaxing hot drink at the end of the day or for a great cold drink. I also like to have guacamole in the fridge for a quick snack.

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

AM: I have two more Abby McCree stories already in the works. The second one, DEATH BY JACK-O’-LANTERN, will be out late this summer. The third one is scheduled for release in 2020. Meanwhile, Abby keeps whispering that she has more stories she wants me to tell.

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

AM: I love all the amazing people I’ve met over the years who share my love of reading great stories.



The First Abby McCree Mystery

Abby McCree just inherited her favorite aunt's estate, but in addition to a lovely Victorian, she also received a somewhat moody, if hunky, tenant, a loving Mastiff mixed breed dog full of drool, and a position on numerous committees. If being volunteered to not only serve, but chair, all these groups doesn't kill her, what she found tidying up the property might. Dolly, her aunt's archrival wasn't enjoying Florida as a snowbird, she was buried under her aunt's blackberries! Abby's vowed to protect her aunt's good name, but doing so will land her right in the killer's sights!

I absolutely loved my first visit to Abby's world. Abby is a delightful protagonist. She's smart, at times snarky, sometimes vulnerable, but always loyal and thoughtful. Tripp is the ultimate brooding romantic interest while Zeke provides plenty of love himself...along with drool.

Aside from the great characters, the humor is another draw to this mystery. There are lots of snickers and outright laughs. I particularly love how the elderly ladies keep ogling Tripp. The mystery itself is not only intriguing, but well plotted, with lots of suspects, and well laid red herrings.

DEATH BY COMMITTEE is a super start to a fun to series. This first Abby McCree Mystery hits all the right marks with characters with whom you want to spend time, a hint of romance, a lovable dog, plenty of laughs, and a finely crafted mystery.


Death by Committee (An Abby McCree Mystery) by Alexis Morgan

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 1st in Series 
Kensington (January 29, 2019)  
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
When Abby McCree suddenly inherits her favorite relative’s property in small town Snowberry Creek, Washington, she soon realizes that the ramshackle home comes with strings attached—one of which is tied to a dead body! After a rough divorce, Abby McCree only wants to stitch up her life and move on. But other loose ends appear after her elderly Aunt Sybil passes away, leaving Abby to tend to a rundown estate, complete with a slobbery Mastiff of questionable pedigree and a sexy tenant who growls more than the dog. As Abby gets drawn into a tight-knit quilting guild, she makes a twisted discovery—Aunt Sybil’s only known rival is buried in her backyard! Despite what local detectives say, Abby refuses to accept that her beloved aunt had anything to do with the murder. While navigating a busy social calendar and rediscovering the art of quilting, she launches an investigation of her own to clear Aunt Sybil’s name and catch the true culprit. The incriminating clues roll in, yet Abby can’t help but wonder—can she survive her new responsibilities in Snowberry Creek and still manage to patch together a killer’s deadly pattern without becoming the next victim?

About the Author

USA Today Best-selling author Alexis Morgan has always loved reading and now spends her days imagining worlds filled with strong alpha heroes and gutsy heroines. She is the author of over forty-five novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals (as Pat Pritchard); paranormal and fantasy romances; and contemporary romances. She is excited to say that next year will also see the release of her first cozy mystery series. Alexis has been nominated for several industry awards, including the RITA, the top award in the romance genre.

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  1. Thank you for the interview with Alexis Morgan and for being part of the book tour for "DEATH BY COMMITTEE".

    Love learning more about both book and author on books on my TBR list. I can't wait for the opportunity to read this book.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  2. Hi, Kathy! Thanks so much for interviewing me about DEATH BY COMMITTEE and for the lovely review. I'm glad you enjoyed the book so much. =o)


    1. I truly loved it! Thanks so much for stopping by!