Joining me today is Vera Jane Cook. Be sure to check out yesterday’s post with my review of DANCING BACKWARD IN PARADISE. Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy. Welcome Jane.

DANCING BACKWARD IN PARADISE has had quite a journey. You won awards for it back in 2007 so I assume that is when you originally published (on your own perhaps?). Then it seems it was put out by your current publisher in 2012 and here it is 2014 and you are touring with it. A large percentage of my readers are writers, so I am sure we would all find it interesting, could you tell us a bit about that journey?

dancing backward in paradise coverDancing Backward in Paradise was the first book of mine that was self published with iuniverse in 2006. It came out as a softcover book and it was published as well as an ebook but formatted so badly that I jumped at the chance to have it republished by Musa in 2012. I have six books published with Musa and trying to give them each attention takes a lot of time and money. I concentrate on one or two and then go back to the older ones. Hopefully I have enough books published now so that I can sell myself as an author instead of sell book by book.

I read somewhere that you are not from the South. Why Southern Fiction? Do you ever have concerns about authenticity?

Nope. My Mom was Southern and that whole side of the family is deep south so if nothing else, my writing is authentically southern.

You have had quite the career outside of writing. Acting, teaching in the arts, then corporate. What do/did you love and what did you hate and how have you managed to make time for your writing? And if it is funny and not too personal, what was the “bizarre mid-life crisis” that caused the shift from the arts to corporate?

The bizarre mid-life crisis was finding myself flat broke after being used to riches. I had to work for a living – what a shock. I don’t like working for people. I am very much a writer in that I love quiet and peace and aloneness.

What do you like to do to balance the demands having a job and writing places on you?

jaynecolor1 copyI love the Catskill mountains and go there often. Just being with friends and my spouse, our dogs, taking walks – going to fairs. That’s what I love. Reading is another way I relax. I’ve always loved to read.

What is the working title of the book you are currently working on, where did the idea come from and what can you tell us about it?

If you mean aside from Dancing Backward in Paradise, my next book is about a young girl who connects with an older woman (they both have a murder in common) but as it turns out, they have a great deal in common, so much so that it will change their lives.

Now three things I ask everyone that have nothing to do with writing:

  • What is your favorite food? Boiled lobster with cole slaw and sweet potatoe fries, a good white wine to sip, followed by a hot fudge sundae.
  • What is your favorite TV show? Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under, Call the Midwife, Big Love, Breaking Bad, Paradise and Home Land.
  • What is your favorite music? Jazz vocals (Paula West, Diana Kroll, Ella – also love rock and roll and country. Love Chris Botti too and Kenny g.

Thank you so much for being here today, Jane, and continued good luck with the book. Before you go, is there anything else you would like to tell your readers or have them know about you?

Yes, if you like my book please let me know, would love to hear from you. I go to book clubs reading my book either in person or by Skype.


virtual logo



Join me today and tomorrow as we travel down South to Paradise. You will find my review of DANCING BACKWARD IN PARADISE below and tomorrow Vera Jane Cook will be here on the blog for an interview. And do be sure and check out the other stops on her tour.  Just leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy. Comment both days for two chances.

dancing backward in paradise coverBLURB

Life for Grace Place is all about sucking on “meat jerkys” and Lenny Bean, her handsome lover. Grace’s mother has loftier plans for her daughter. She insists that Grace save her money and move to New York City so she can find fame and fortune as an actress.

Grace works as a cleaning lady for wealthy Betty Ann Houseman so she can pool her pennies for the trip north. Betty Ann has a passion for men more pronounced than her overbite, and it isn’t long before she’s parting the sheets for Lenny Bean. But just before Grace leaves Hixson for New York City, she uncovers an insidious plot: the Bean family is trying to steal Betty Ann’s estate.

Grace flees to New York, where she faces her darkest hours. In a world of surprises, Grace truly discovers paradise.

2007 Eric Hoffer Award

2007 Notable New Fiction Indie Excellence Award


I like Southern Literature. Not as a steady diet, but it makes a nice break. I used to live in the South. Things are different. It’s warmer. Things move slower. People talk slower. You can develop a complacency. But there is a dark side. It’s not all Tara and Mint Juleps. Paradise is a trailer park and even the rich widow of the story is pretty trashy. This is a coming of age novel. Grace Henrietta Place grows up in a trailer park. Sexually abused, starting with her grandfather. Raised on beans and grits and tales of New York City by her faded beauty, alcoholic mother, Madeline. Madeline imposes her dreams on Grace and Grace feels she must comply. You will follow Grace Place from the trailer park, Paradise, in the Chatanooga suburb of Hixson, all the way to New York City and back as she comes of age in the turbulent sixties. And you will see her grow and rise above what many wouldn’t have. Wait for a nice, hot, sunny day. Find a shade tree, bring some sweet tea, get comfortable and start DANCING BACKWARD IN PARADISE. ♥♥♥♥

jaynecolor1 copyABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vera Jane Cook, writer of Award Winning Women’s Fiction, is the author of Dancing Backward in Paradise, The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, Where the Wildflowers Grow and Lies a River Deep. In the paranormal genre, Vera Jane is the author of Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem.

Jane, as she is known to family and friends, was born in New York City and grew up amid the eccentricity of her southern and glamorous mother on the Upper West and Upper East Side of Manhattan. An only child, Jane turned to reading novels at an early age and was deeply influenced by an eclectic group of authors. Some of her favorite authors today are Nelson DeMille, Wally Lamb, Anne Rice, Sue Monk Kidd, Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Alice Walker and Anne Rivers Siddons. Her favorite novels are too long to list but include The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Cheri and The Last of Cheri, The Picture of Dorian Grey, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner, Dogs of Babel, The Bluest Eye, The Color Purple, Body Surfing, Lolita, The Brothers Karamazov, She’s Come Undone, Tale of Two Cities, etc., etc., etc.,

Jane worked in the professional theatre for over a decade, falling further in love with the plays of Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neil, Lillian Hellmann, and Sam Shepherd. She has appeared in television, regional theatre, film and off Broadway. Some of her credits have included both classic and original plays at Playwrights Horizons, WPA Theatre, Kennedy Center, Theatre for The New City, Bucks County Playhouse and many others.

After ten years in the theatre, Jane developed a passion for art history, film theory and philosophy. To nurture her many interests, she enrolled at Hunter College through the CUNY BA/BS program from the City University of New York.

Jane received her degree in Communications and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1982. She went on to earn a Masters in Educational Theatre from New York University and took an honorary withdrawal from Actors Equity, SAG and AFTRA. For the next decade, Jane became a teacher and seminar/workshop leader. At the New Lincoln School, she taught creative writing, drama and English to middle and high school students. She also taught the craft of acting to adult professionals at various colleges and adult centers.

A bizarre mid-life crisis forced Jane into corporate life at the age of forty-five. She worked as an education territory manager for The New York Times and presented many workshops on using the newspaper in education as a tool for teaching English as a Second Language. She has worked as a Project Manager for the Education department of the New York Daily News, as well as an Education Specialist for Oxford University Press (ESL division) and as an Education Consultant for Scholastic. Jane is presently an account manager at Triumph Learning in Manhattan and Westchester.

Jane has completed ten novels. Her next novel, Marybeth, Hollister and Jane, will be published by Musa in 2013. Dancing Backward In Paradise won an Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence and an Indie Excellence Award for notable new fiction, 2007. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater and Dancing Backward in Paradise received 5 Star ForeWord Clarion Reviews and The Story of Sassy Sweetwater has been named a finalist for the ForeWord Book of the Year Awards. Jane has published in ESL Magazine, Christopher Street Magazine and has written several newsletters and online blogs. Jane has also written early childhood curriculum. Her published curriculum has been for Weekly Reader and McGraw Hill.

The author is married and lives on the Upper West side of Manhattan with her spouse, her Basenji/Chihuahua mix, Roxie, her chihuahua puppy, Peanut, and her two pussy cats, Sassy and Sweetie Pie. Added to the mix is Carly, an adopted five year old chocolate brown Dachshund.


virtual logo

Dancing Backward in Paradise Web Tour Schedule

SMALL TOWN SPIN :: review and a giveaway!

You can find the giveaway HERE.


When a superstar athlete’s son turns up dead in a tiny town on the Virginia coast, crime reporter Nichelle Clarke gets the inside scoop. But she quickly spies a gaping hole her inner Lois Lane cannot ignore.

Determined to unravel the mystery, Nichelle fights off paparazzi cameras and an unexpected rival. She uncovers an illegal moonshine operation, a string of copycat suicides, and a slew of closets stacked with more skeletons than slingbacks. Chasing a killer who’s a breath from getting away with murder, Nichelle realizes too late the culprit has her number—and it might be up.

About LynDee Walker

LynDee Walker’s award-winning journalistic work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the nation. After nearly a decade covering crime, courts, and local politics, she left full-time reporting for motherhood with a side of freelancing and fiction writing. Small Town Spin is the third in her bestselling Headlines in High Heels Mystery series. The fourth arrives January 2015.

LynDee adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is either playing with her children or working on her next novel (but probably not cleaning her house).

 Author Links



Twitter @LynDeeWalker

My Review

Nichelle and her Jimmy Choos are back!!!! This series just keeps getting better. Bootleg liquor was at the heart of this episode. No, not historical, now – I learned something new, it seems it is on the rise these days. When the son of a famous athlete dies, Nichelle is the only member of the media with access to the family. Was it suicide, accidental, murder? We know by now we can depend on Nichelle to get to the bottom of it. Some great characters in this one and of course… Joey. I said from the beginning, I’m team Joey! Another ♥♥♥♥♥

Tour Participants

April 8 – Mystery Playground - Interview

April 9 – readalot blog – Review

April 9 - Escape With Dollycas – Cozy Wednesday

April 10 – Kelly P’s Blog - Interview

April 12 – deal sharing aunt - Interview

April 14 – Community Bookstop - Review

April 15 – Beth’s Book Reviews – Guest Post

April 16 – rantinravin‘ and reading - Review

April 17 – Chloe Gets A Clue - Interview

April 18 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews - Review

April 19 – Books-n-Kisses - Review

April 20 – Brooke Blogs - Interview

April 21 – Queen of All She Reads – Review – Guest Post

April 22 – A Chick Who Reads - Review


SPOTLIGHT on Dyed and Gone (Azalea March Mystery)




Tour Stop by Great Escapes Virtual Book  Tours

For a chance at a $50 Amazon gift card, go HERE.


Dyed and Gone(Azalea March Mystery)
New Cozy Series
Publisher: Entangled: Select (March 25, 2014)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1622661237
E-Book File Size: 1313 KB


Hairstylist Azalea March is looking forward to a wild weekend in Las Vegas with her friends. Oh, sure, they’re supposed to be there on business, attending the biggest hair show on the west coast, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun. But fun quickly turns to drama. On the first morning of the show, Dhane, the biggest celeb of the hair-styling world, is found dead. As it urns out Azalea’s friend, Vivian, not only knew Dhane, but the tale she weaves of how they met is faker than a showgirl’s uh… assets. When Vivian confesses to the murder and is arrested, Azalea knows there’s no way she could have done it and suspects Vivian may be trying to protect someone. But who?

Azalea now has to convince Alex, the sexy detective from her past, to help her prove Vivian’s innocence and comb through clues more twisted than a spiral perm. But the truth is stranger than anything found on the Las Vegas Strip, and proving Vivian’s innocence turns out to be more difficult than transforming a brunette into a blonde.

About This Author

Best selling author, Beth Yarnall, writes romantic suspense, mysteries and the occasional hilarious tweet. A storyteller since her playground days, Beth remembers her friends asking her to make up stories of how the person ‘died’ in the slumber party game Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, so it’s little wonder she prefers writing stories in which people meet unfortunate ends. In middle school she discovered romance novels, which inspired her to write a spoof of soap operas for the school’s newspaper. She hasn’t stopped writing since.

For a number of years, Beth made her living as a hairstylist and makeup artist and co-owned a salon. Somehow hairstylists and salons always seem to find their way into her stories. Beth lives in Orange County, California with her husband, two sons, and their rescue dog where she is hard at work on her next novel.

Author Links

Book Links

My Review

This book started out funny in the dedication with this: “And to my husband, Mr. Y, for buying into and supporting every single one of my crazy Lucy and Ethel schemes… including the one where I thought I could write a book.” Then when character Juan Carlos said of the protagonist: “Please tell me we got here in time to stop Laura Ingles Wilder from adding to her little house on the depressed prairie collection.” This author has a funny, sarcastic way with words that hooks you then reels you in. Good mystery. Interesting twists. Keeps you guessing. Wanna know more? Better read it then cuz what happened in Vegas, um… actually it didn’t stay there, it’s all in the book. ♥♥♥♥

Tour Participants

April 10 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview
April 11 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review
April 12 – deal sharing aunt – Guest Post
April 14 – Back Porchervations – Review
April 15 – rantinravin’ and reading – Spotlight
April 16 – Carole’s Book Corner – Review
April 17 – Brooke Blogs – Guest Post
April 18 – Chloe Gets A Chloe – Interview
April 20 –  Easter
April 21 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – Review
April 22 – readalot blog – Review
April 23 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – Interview
April 24 – Traci Andrighetti’s blog – Guest Post
April 25 – Community Bookstop – Review
April 28 – Michele Lynn Seigfried’s Blog – Review, Guest Post
April 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review, Guest Post


Death on Eat Street – a Biscuit Bowl Food Truck mystery (and a giveaway!)

J.J. Cook writes award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, Joyce and Jim Lavene, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family. And I am very pleased that Joyce is here today to tell us about the research they for the book. (Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book.) Welcome Joyce.

Doing research for the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries was both delicious, and amazing. We spent time with several food truck owners, shadowing them through their days. It’s incredible what they can do in such small spaces.

Food truck drivers get up early for the best spots. Getting there first can mean the difference between a good sales day, and a day where you don’t break even. So most people get up at four or five a.m. They usually get some of the food ready in a stationary kitchen before they leave for the day, like Zoe bakes her biscuits before she leaves her diner.

Inside a food truck, everything is very compact. Owners have to know where each item is so they can find it quickly and easily. They know they can be checked at any time by health inspectors so they have to be very careful with their refrigerators and cooking utensils. Sometimes the space in a food truck is at a premium, especially when there is more than one person working in the kitchen.

Most food trucks pick specific menus for each day. They don’t have enough space to change the food they’re making. If the menu says chicken salad, that’s probably what you’re going to get. But because they are only making chicken salad – wow! It’s the best!

Zoe picks one or two types of savory fillings for her biscuit bowls each day, and one or two types of sweet fillings. She can’t make exceptions because that’s all she has with her. Her biscuits are deep-fried and kept warm, but only in small batches. They will go soft quickly. She usually only carries one type of drink.

We tried to pattern Zoe and her Biscuit Bowl food truck on real-life food truck owners. Of course, Zoe’s life is fiction, so sometimes that shows up. We didn’t meet any food truck drivers that had large cats like Crème Brulee with them when they went out – although we did meet a few foodies who brought dogs with them.

Zoe is a hard worker, as are the food truck operators we met. For many of them, they are hopeful that their food truck is a stepping-stone to a restaurant. Not all feel that way. Many are just happy following their dreams, working for themselves with their favorite food. 

Death on Eat Street (Biscuit Bowl Food Truck)
Series: Biscuit Bowl Food Truck (Book 1)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (April 1, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0425263457

Zoe Chase always wanted to own her own restaurant—but first, she’ll have to serve up a heaping helping of meals on wheels, with a side of mystery. When she’s once again passed over for a promotion at work, Zoe decides to take the big leap and go for her dream. She quits, gives up her fancy digs, and buys a fixer-upper diner in a shady part of town. To keep above water during the renovation, she buys a used food truck to serve the downtown and waterfront of Mobile, Alabama. Zoe starts to dish out classic Southern food—but her specialty is her deep-fried biscuit bowls that blow traditional bread bowls away. After a promising start, things start to go downhill faster than a food truck without brakes. First, someone tries to rob the cash register. Next, Zoe is threatened by the owner of a competing food truck for taking their spot. And when the owner ends up dead inside Zoe’s rolling restaurant, Zoe and her sole employee, Ollie, find themselves hopping out of the frying pan into the fryer. They need to find the real killer, before both of them get burned.

My Review

I have only one complaint about this book. Well, two. It is going to cost me time and money. Time experimenting making biscuit bowls and money for the groceries. Oh yeah, there is a third thing. Listening to my husband complain about how good they are so please stop making them or he will have to spend half the day in the gym. In other words, I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! And my husband loves biscuit bowls. As a fan in real life of food trucks, I knew they would soon become part of a cozy series. And what a great start this food truck mystery is off to. Zoe is an appealing character. And all the secondary characters are interesting and you know you will want to see them all again. Most of all, it was a good mystery. I thought I had guessed the killer (and a pretty good twist if I do say so) but alas, or gladly, I was wrong. Bigger, better twist and better ending. From the wonderful cover to the recipe at the end, this is a solid ♥♥♥♥♥ and I can’t wait for the next in this new series.

 Author Links






Purchase Links
AMAZON       B&N      Book World

Tour Participants

March 31- Psychotic State Book Reviews – Review, Interview
April 1- fundinmental – Review
April 2- Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review
April 3- Brooke Blogs – Review
April 4- Beth’s Book Reviews – Review
April 5- Books-n-Kisses – Review, Interview
April 6- Steph The Bookworm – Review
April 7- Deal Sharing Aunt – Review
April 8- Thoughts in Progress - Interview
April 9- Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Review, Interview
April 10- Community Bookstop – Review
April 11- Queen of All She Reads – Review, Guest Post
April 13-Cozy Up With Kathy – Review, Interview
April 14 – rantinravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post
April 15 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Review

 A Book Excerpt

It hadn’t been more than thirty minutes or so since I’d climbed out of the food truck. How did Terry get there after me? And what was he doing here? Had he followed me back to give me more grief over parking in “his spot” on Dauphin Street?

“What’s up out here, young ’un?” Ollie came out of the diner, still holding the sword.

“I don’t know. This is Terry.”

He nodded. “From the infamous tacky taco truck?”

“Yes. I don’t know what he’s doing here. I think he may be drunk or something.”

Ollie bent down and put his hand on Terry’s neck. “I don’t know either, but he ain’t goin’ no place else.”

“What do you mean? I can call him a taxi or something.”

“No, Zoe. You don’t get it. The man’s dead. A taxi won’t do him any good now.”

Dead? That made even less sense to me. Maybe I was too tired to think straight.

Why was Terry—alive or dead—in my food truck?

“We gotta hide him somewhere.” Ollie glanced around. “We gotta get rid of him before someone sees him here.”

“We can’t do that. We should call the police. That’s what you do when you find a dead body.”

“Oh? ’Cause you’ve got so much experience finding dead people?” He chuckled. “You better believe me, Zoe. You think you got trouble now, tell the police there’s a dead man in your food truck. You’ll be in for a heap more trouble.”

I knew he was wrong. If something had happened to Terry, regardless of how he got into the Biscuit Bowl, the police needed to be informed. If there was one thing I knew besides cooking, it was the law.

My mother was one of the most prominent attorneys in Mobile. There was even some talk of her getting a judgeship. She’d fed me the law with my pureed carrots and pears when I was a baby. She’d hoped I was going to follow in her footsteps someday.

I was kind of a disappointment in that area.

I took out my cell phone. “I’m sorry, Ollie. I have to call. If you’re worried about being here, you should go to back to the shelter. I can handle this.”

“I ain’t worried about me, Zoe. It’s you I’m concerned for. What do you think the police will make of you having a dead man in your vehicle?”

I thought about it. “What can they make of it? I didn’t do anything. Someone must have put him here. Or he climbed in and died. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

Famous last words.


Murder in the Dog Park/Dog Spelled Backwards by Jill Yesko :: review (and a giveaway!)

Murder in the Dog Park

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Baxter World Publishing (May 28, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-0985485207
File Size: 242 KB
Print Length: 128 pages


Discovering a brutally murdered boy in a rainy dog park sends misanthropic private detective Jane Ronson on a journey through Baltimore’s gritty underbelly. Aided by a sexy cop, a bad-ass bull terrier, and an only-in-Baltimore cast of characters, Jane must use her computer-hacking and street-fighting skills to save her only family member from being framed as the killer.

Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery

Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: Baxter World Publishing (August 17, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0985485214
File Size: 1355 KB
Print Length: 118 pages


Private investigator Jane Ronson suffers from oppositional defiant disorder, the uncontrollable urge to punch first then ask questions later. When a rabbi with a shady past offers her a bag of cash to spy on a rival rabbi, Jane jumps at the chance to make what think will be easy money. To get her cash, Jane impersonates an Orthodox Jewish woman and infiltrates a black market kidney ring in Baltimore’s Orthodox community. Between Russian gangsters and double crosses, Jane is number one on everyone’s hit list. To save her life, she forms an alliance with a religious woman and confronts a family.

About This Author

Jill Yesko’s 20+ year writing career has included stints as a sport writer, NPR commentator and investigative reporter. She’s written about everything from body piercing to human pyramids in Spain. After a solo trek around the world, Jill was profiled as an “adventurous traveler” in O, the Oprah magazine. Before becoming a writer, Jill was a national-class cyclist and graduate and cartographer. A New Jersey native, Jill now patrols Baltimore’s dog parks with her basset hound.

 Author Links


My Review

Dog Spelled Backwards is the book that is the new release but the first book in the series was offered as well to the reviewers. I hate not starting a series at the beginning so I took Murder In The Dog Park to read as well. Actually, it turned out to be a good idea because these are both novellas and you would need to read both to get a book out of it.Unfortunately, and I never mention this, the price does not reflect the fact that these are not books. Ms. Yesko is skilled as a writer. She does however need an editor. The first book goes back and tells all about when the protagonist, Jane, left college and why. I won’t tell you to leave some element of mystery. Suffice to say that while it revealed a lot about the protagonist, it took up far too much space in a novella. Which in a sense was good in that there was no mystery. A body was found. By Jane. By coincidence, BIG coincidence, Jane’s cousin Lenny took a picture earlier clearly showing the murderer. The bit of padding to make it look like Lenny did it is just that, padding to create a mystery. If this was a short story, I would say 4♥s for the story but because of the padding, I would say only 3 as a novella. And of course, as I said, there was no mystery. Now the second novella had a bit more promise. There actually is a mystery, a good one, on an unexpected topic, and there is a bit of a sting going on. Once again we have an overly long, angst filled going into Jane’s past to learn why she is an outcast. Good to get to know her IF this was a book. No room for that here. So despite a good mystery, as a novella this is another 3.

HOWEVER, if novella one, with its non-mystery which would be a good secondary plot line, were combined with novella two and its very good mystery, mix in a good editor, and voila! you would have a book worthy of ♥♥♥♥♥

There is a giveaway of each of the novellas which you can enter by going here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Participants

April 14 – rantinravin’ and reading – Review
April 15 – Mommasez… – Review, Guest Post
April 16 – readalot blog – Review
April 17 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview
April 18 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Guest Post
April 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review
April 21- deal sharing aunt – Guest Post
April 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review
April 22 – fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s Ramblins and Reviews – Review
April 23 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers  – Review
April 24 – fundinmental – Guest Post
April 25 – Thoughts in Progress – Review, Interview
April 26 – Chloe Gets a Clue  – Interview
April 27 – Melina Book Blog – Guest Post
April 28 – Teena in Toronto – Review
April 29 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – Review
April 30 – Brooke Blogs – Review, Guest Post


TIP OF A BONE (and a giveaway!)

Christine Finlayson borrowed from her “past lives” as a waitress, barista, environmental educator, and water scientist when creating her debut mystery novel, Tip of a Bone—a tale that takes place on the stormy Oregon coast. In her spare time, Christine loves to run on forest trails, watch waves break, compete in triathlons, and photograph anything Northwest-weird or wild. She’s now working on her second book, a novel of suspense and she’s an active member of Sisters in Crime, Friends of Mystery, Oregon Writers Colony, and Willamette Writers. And today Christine is making a stop on her tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to talk to us about writing what you know. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book. Welcome Christine. 

Write What You Know?

In every writing class I’ve attended, some instructor will say, “Write what you know.”

It’s sage advice. Have you ever picked up a book set in your hometown, where it seems the author has never visited the place? As a parent, I’ve laughed over a novel where the main character’s kids miraculously went down for naps every time the mom needed to go out. If only!

So when I started writing my first mystery, Tip of a Bone, I intended to write what I knew. After all, I’d visited Newport, Oregon (the book’s coastal setting) many times. I’d made the main character, Maya Rivers, new to town so she didn’t need know everything. I could use my background in environmental science to craft the quirky eco-activist characters, and flash back to my early days waitressing for Maya’s scenes in the Clam Strip Café.

Write what you know. No problem.

But once the plot took shape, I started to panic. I’d created a taxidermist character, but knew nothing about taxidermy. My eco-activists needed to be authentic, but I’d never lived in a tree or blockaded streets with a protest. And I hadn’t worked in a seafood restaurant like the Clam Strip.

Somehow “write what you know” had become “don’t worry—you can always find out!” It was time for research.

Surprisingly, I discovered I loved the investigation and learning part of writing as much as the creative, fingers-to-keyboard, developing plot and characters part. It was great fun to interview people, tour new places, and research things online. Really, it was like going back to school—but this time, I could study whatever I wanted.

For Tip of a Bone, I watched YouTube videos to learn how to prepare deer and ducks for mounting (that pesky taxidermy character). I poked around a restaurant kitchen to develop Maya’s workplace and photographed Dungeness crabs at the fish market. And I visited Newport again and again, asking questions, documenting settings, and observing local events.

I learned that people love to talk about their jobs and hobbies. They, too, want me to “get it right.” So in addition to formal interviews, I’ve searched out writing partners who know interesting things. Among them, there’s a zookeeper, a perfume expert, an aficionado of Westerns, two world travelers, an organic gardener, two French speakers, a scuba diver, a sailor, and a former police officer. A world of knowledge to explore in future books!

Now that I’m writing my second novel, research is still playing a large role. I gave myself a challenge: a murder scene that requires a very specialized, technical investigation. So far, it’s led to a fascinating interview with three police officers, who helped me brainstorm ideas for solving this fictional crime.

My mind is already buzzing with new questions. But that’s okay. To me, doing the research is half the fun of writing a book.


Buried bones, a missing eco-activist, and a deadly fire? It’s not what Maya Rivers bargained for when she moved to the coastal city of Newport, Oregon to reunite with her brother, Harley. Yet when Harley is accused of an unthinkable crime, Maya insists on adding “amateur sleuth” to her career options. It isn’t long before she discovers an eerie clue . . . but the closer she gets to the truth, the closer a murderer follows.


Eco-terrorism or eco-activism? What was Harley’s connection to Sara? Who is watching Allison? Maya has only two weeks to prove Harley wasn’t an arsonist so maybe Allison will keep the bakery.  But she goes from trying to prove he wasn’t an arsonist to questioning – perhaps he was. This reads like a cozy but has a bit more edginess to it. This promises to be a very good series. ♥♥♥♥♥



AMAZON      B&N      Book World


March 25 – fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s Ramblins and Reviews – Review, Giveaway
March 26 – readalot blog – Review
March 27 – Books-n-Kisses – Review
March 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Guest Post
March 29 – Deal Sharing Aunt - Review, Interview, Giveaway
March 31 – Reviews By Molly – Review, Giveaway
April 1 – Queen of All She Reads – Review, Guest Post
April 2 – Brooke Blogs – Review
April 3 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview
April 4 – rantinravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway


A KILLING NOTION (and some amazing giveaways!)

I am pleased to have Melissa Bourbon here today, as she kicks off a tour today with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, for her new book “A Killing Notion”. Melissa, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas.  She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. She is the Marketing Director with Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, and A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL. She also has written two romantic suspense novels, a light paranormal romance, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox, a practical marketing guide for authors. Melissa has some incredible prizes to give away on her tour. FIRST, leave a comment below to be eligible to win either an ebook copy of of book one in this series, Pleating for Mercy, or book one in the Lola Cruz mystery series, Living the Vida Lola, winner’s choice. THEN for a chance to win either a Nook or a Kindle or a great sewing basket, just go HERE to enter. Now Melissa is going to tell us why she thinks men don’t read books written by women. 

I write cozy mysteries, but I read books in many different genres, books written by both men and women. When I began writing mysteries for women, I wondered… do men read cozy mysteries, or are they too soft? Do women read hardcore sci fi?  I imagine some do (on both counts), but in general, probably not. Men, in fact, don’t read a lot of books written by women (the very reason JK Rowling went by her initials instead of by her name).

When I came across a list of top books to be read, it sparked a lot of thought in my stress-addled mind so I came up with this list. Here are the Top Ten reasons why men don’t read books written by women.

10. First, let me just speculate: “Maybe they do, at least occasionally, but just don’t admit it.”

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I think may be reasons why men don’t read books by women:

9. Women acknowledge that fiction can give guidance or solace where mennot so much.  They keep emotion bottle up inside, right?  Every man.  Everywhere.

8. Books written by women tend to have more emotion built in and for a man to read such a book would, by association, mean he has those emotions, too, and he just doesn’t, right?

7. Men like novels that focus with an intellectual struggle.  So books authored by women are less intellectual. 

Oh, I”m getting a little riled up.

6. Men read angst-ridden books in which the struggle to overcome some catastrophic circumstance is at the core of the plot.  Again, don’t women write this type of novel?  Sure, as long as there’s emotional growth woven in.  Ah, emotion, there’s that word again.

5. Rites of passage are, quite literally, part of a man’s experience.  Books written by women are less about those rites of passage and more about the choices we make based on circumstances, which is also true in cultures with rites of passage.  The boys go out, kill a dear, and become men.  The girls, becoming women, are relegated to The Red Tent.  Isn’t that still true today?  Aren’t all our books about secret women things to which men just can’t relate?

4. Men show a huge lack of interest about personal introspection, family, and/or domestic elements in their book choices.  We’re still ingrained with the age old gender differences, and reading choices reflect that.  Who’s more introspective, family, and domestically inclined in your household?  Man.  Breadwinner.  Woman.  Not.  They must think that all books by women have those themes!

3. Raise your hand if you know the gender of Harper Lee.  Uh-huh.  It’s a top recognized book among men and women, but how many men think Harper’s a man?  Okay, this isn’t really a reason, but I’m just sayin’.

 2. Men only like adventure and triumphing over adversity like women only like romance and love.  God, it’s great to be a stereotype, isn’t it?!

1. Several years ago, Esquire Magazine created a list of 75 books every man should read, and not one is written by a woman, what does that tell you? http://www.esquire.com/the-side/feature/75-books

On a similar list of books every woman should read, there are plenty of women represented.  http://jezebel.com/5053732/75-books-every-woman-should-read-the-complete-list

So really it’s the media’s fault for telling us what we should and shouldn’t read and respond to. 

And there you have it.  We all live in gender boxes. Where do cozy mysteries fit in? Do men read them? What is it about them that make women respond?  I have my own theories, but what do you think?

~ Melissa


A Killing Notion: A Magical Dressmaking Mystery (Magical Dressmaking Mysteries)

Harlow Jane Cassidy is swamped with homecoming couture requests. If only she didn’t have to help solve a murder, she might get the gowns off the dress forms…. 

Harlow is doing everything she can to expand her dressmaking business, Buttons & Bows—without letting clients know about her secret charm. When she has a chance to create homecoming dresses with a local charity and handmade mums for several high school girls—including Gracie, whose father, Will, has mended Harlow’s heart—she is ready to use her magical talents for a great cause.

But when Gracie’s date for the dance is accused of murder, Harlow knows things won’t be back on course until she helps Gracie clear the football player’s name. If Harlow can’t patch up this mess before the big game, her business and her love life might be permanently benched.



This is not a new series but it was new to me. Which once again means I am going to have to go back and start a series from the beginning because I really enjoyed this. I loved the characters. While the ‘theme’ of this cozy is sewing, and there are sewing tips at the end of the book, you will not be burdened with too much sewing talk during the story although I did read one beautifully worded description of a dress that struck me – I could see the dress. And I learned something – I love when my cozies start me off researching a topic. In this case it was mums. Not the live flower – the ones that they wear at prom time. (Not in New England where I am living, mostly Texas from what I found.) Now in the book they weren’t into X-treme mums and wore them for the pre-dance events but my goodness, some of these mums are HUGE and have backpack type straps to wear them and frankly, I don’t get it as they cover the dress. If I spent hundreds on my daughter’s prom dress and she covered it with one of those things there WOULD be a murder – no mystery – to solve LOL but I digress.  I am in love with Earl Grey, the teacup pig. And I loved how within all he cozy elements of the story, the author managed to hide a real thriller of a mystery. Well done. ♥♥♥♥♥


Amazon    B&N     Book Depository


April 1 – rantinravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway
April 2 – Escape With Dollycas – Cozy Wednesday – Booked by Author
April 3 – Books-n-Kisses – Review, Interview, Giveaway
April 4 – readalot blog – Review, Giveaway
April 5 – Griperang’s Bookmarks – Review, Giveaway
April 6 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review, Interview, Giveaway
April 7 –Shelley’s Book Case – Review, Giveaway
April 8 – Back Porchervations – Review
April 9 – Queen of All She Reads – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway
April 10 – A Chick Who Reads -Review
April 11 – Brooke Blogs – Review
April 12 – dru’s book musing – Guest Post, Giveaway
April 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Giveaway
April 14 – Books and Bindings – Review, Guest Post
April 14 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner – Review
April 15 – Mystery Playground – Interview, Giveaway
April 16 – A Year of Jubilee Reviews – Review, Giveaway
April 18 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Interview
April 19 – Community Bookstop – Review
April 20 –  Easter
April 21 – Traci Andrighetti’s Blog -  Review
April 22 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – Review, Giveaway
April 24 – A Blue Million Books – Interview







LOAD THE BOAT by Rosalee Richland


Darla King left her position as a Florida investigator hoping to avoid any further involvement with law enforcement—but her curiosity keeps getting in her way. Darla is beginning to realize that what she envisioned as the simple life of a square dance caller is not so simple after all. When Darla agrees to serve as a square dance caller on a cruise, she plans on a little work and a lot of fun, sun, and romance. Her friends from Clearton Squares have the same ideas. Instead, she and her friends discover pornographic DVDs, a dead crew member,  and a mysterious man with a satchel. She lands in danger, escaping with on-the-spot ingenuity. All that and Mandy, who has bad memories from a previous cruise and is getting a little too friendly with Doug. This is the second in the Darla King series and continues her adventures.


Cyndi Riccio and Rhonda Brinkmann joined forces to create the Darla King cozy mystery series.  Darla’s curiosity often puts her squarely in the midst of unusual circumstances, and Darla can’t let go until the mystery is solved.   Through Darla and her friends, readers are exposed to the warmth and friendship among square dancers, as well as the enjoyment square dancing brings worldwide.

When not writing, Darla’s co-authors enjoy reading, traveling, meeting readers and fans, networking with other authors, and – of course – square dancing.  Currently they are working on Darla’s next mystery and the twists and turns it will take.  If you have a chance, stop in at a book signing and find out which half of Rosalee shows up!


Be sure and visit other stops on the LOAD THE BOAT tour with Great Escapes Book Tours:


Join me and meet a storyteller

George jacksonI first reviewed THE FALLS back in November but George Jackson has come out with another installment, THE FALLS: Thanksgiving so I am very pleased to have him here with us again today. George spent 40 years in education as a teacher (11 years) and a principal (29 years) in both Vermont and New Mexico. He and his wife Carolyn, who taught for 30 years,  have five children, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren in their combined family. He is also an artist in oils and loves reading, video games, fishing and the ocean. George and his wife now live in Tradition, Florida. Besides THE FALLS series he writes dragonrider fantasies and humorous short stories about kids and schools. He has even written a children’s book, The Twilight Tea Party, also at the Kindle store. Today George is going to tell you about is life as a storyteller. Welcome, George.

I am a Storyteller…

First, I must say that it’s a real pleasure to be back here with Kate Eileen Shannon once again. I truly appreciate her never-ending expertise, wide ranging skills and friendship.  This Irish Colleen has pointed this old Scotsman in the right direction more times than I can count. My humble thanks, Kate, always.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since I was seven or eight. My head has always had so many thoughts, ideas and worlds and my imagination has always asked the age-old wonderings: What if Why not? and tried to fit them magnificently into so countless Once upon a times.

When I was a kid, hiding away upstairs in my room, I would draw courageous heroes and beautiful, brave heroines, powerful dragons and unspeakable monsters, and then create stories where they would fight great battles, solve unsolvable puzzles and then all live happily ever after. Well, perhaps not the monsters. But I hid my stories away, rather self-conscious and embarrassed to share them with my family or friends. Not because I would have been laughed at, but because I truly wasn’t ready to share them yet.

My father, bless him, made me a tree swing in our backyard. The rope went up so far into the tree that I swore at times it was like Jack’s magic beanstalk… you couldn’t see the top because of the clouds. Every day I would go out and swing as high as I could, glancing out eagerly (and with just a bit of tantalizing fright) over the top of our roof, feeling the warmth of the sun and the wind whistling around me and I would imagine soaring on dragon back out across the skies of some vast dessert.

At night, when I went outside and watched the lights from the fireflies rushing randomly to and fro in the velvet darkness, I would create tales of the dark that scared the living dickens right out of me. Their flashing lights would become the eyes of terrifying creatures and the darkness would become filled with the night sounds of rural Vermont. Owls hooted softly, dragonflies and insects buzzed, a dog barked a mile away and a lonely hungry howl would make me shiver. Then I would creep back toward the warm lights from our house and safely envision a realm of creatures of the night as I peered out wide-eyed into the gloom.

When I was a teenager, I began writing those stories down as short stories. I happened to be a quiet kid, so I still didn’t share them. Those stories were special to me. They were mine and I was very protective of them. I wrote and rewrote those stories on yellow pads in pencil so I could back and correct them. As I got older, I began to type them up on an old manual typewriter, frustrating myself over and over again, my fingers almost permanently stained from black typewriter ribbon and the delightful, and ill-advised erasing solutions of the day.

But I was still a storyteller, more than ever. The stories were now on paper as well as in my thoughts and mind, that’s all. So I typed and wrote and created worlds, fought titanic battles, soared on dragons and lived happily ever after. I would write hunched over by flashlight in my bed at night when my parents thought I was asleep. I would write when I was supposed to be doing homework. I would skip breakfast and write. At school, when Mr. McGinty’s English Literature class became particularly boring, I would secretly write stories in my notebook, at least until the other kids around me began wondering what I was doing and tried to catch a glimpse. Then I would hastily shut my notebook, zip it tight and sit listening to McGinty’s boring lecture, my face redder than a baby’s bare bottom after three hours on the beach in August.

As I moved on to the hallowed halls of university, I continued to write. By now I had boxes filled with stories that no one but I had ever seen or read. Most of my stories back then dabbled in horror, suspense and fantasy. I tentatively sent a few stories here and there out to publishers and magazines. At times I would receive a written note telling me that my stories were good, just needed more polish or that they just didn’t have a place for them at the moment. Some editors actually took the time to tell me what they liked and what I needed to improve upon. I treasured those letters. I would keep them and read them over and over again, taking every word to heart. And when I felt the lowest, convinced that my humble stories would never find the light of day, never have readers to enjoy them, I would take those letters out and reread them over once again.

Life happened.  Two marriages, five children, eight grandkids and three greatgrandkids magically appeared and blossomed. Forty years in education in Vermont and New Mexico went by, twenty-nine as a principal. My days were filled with solving problems, making my staff and the kids’ parents feel good about themselves and what they were doing with kids, cheering students on and being “Dad” to thousands of kids and adults. I worked twelve hours a day and spent as much time as possible after that with my family. Even then, I would write Dragonrider fantasy novels late at night. I was so tired that at times I would nod off sitting up typing into the computer. But I still wrote. I truly believe that the dragon rider fantasies allowed me to shuck off the cares and issues of each day at school and permitted my imagination to soar free and unfettered, once again on dragon back.

Now, I am retired. I write small town mysteries (The Falls small town mystery series) and Dragonrider fantasies (the Dragon World series). I have finally sent my stories out into the world, by self-publishing them through KDP on Amazon. I am delighted to finally be sharing those worlds, those dreams and visions with others. After publishing twenty-one of my books on Amazon in the past three years, however, I am still, at heart, a storyteller. I weave stories, pure and simple. I hope that you get a chance to read some them. It would make this old Scottish heart smile.

May the dragons watch over you all…


(The 13th volume in The Falls small town mystery series) Thanksgiving is a time for sharing time, laughter and good cheer with family and friends. Especially in small towns. But this Thanksgiving, there are some special reasons for the community to give thanks. An early morning accident and a terrible hidden family secret weave a plot that has several intriguing twists and turns. All the while Jordan Smith Stone works on creating the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner and celebration! Join Sheriff Cash Green, Deputy Ericka Yamato, Deputy Horace Scofield along with Doc Stone and Dr. Meg Monroe as the colorful characters in The Falls once more weave their small town magic! Set in Vermont, it’s a very special Thanksgivingso return to The Falls!


Ah, lucky number thirteen. Yet another winner. Cash and Yamoto will have a busy time leading up to Thanksgiving. A car crash on a bad curve starts it all off. An Abused woman. A man with a past. There is plenty to keep the story moving along. But that is not all that makes this series so wonderful. George Jackson has a wonderful way with description. The way he describes a moment, a short glance and a wink between Jeremy and Yamoto is artful. But even better is having read the series from the beginning and knowing the full history behind that so masterfully described moment – it gives an added layer of depth. You must read this book but you should read my first review and then start with book one and work your way up to Thanksgiving which is once again ♥♥♥♥♥