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BURNOUT by Teresa Trent (and a giveaway!)

ttrentTeresa Trent writes her Pecan Bayou Mystery Series from Houston, Texas. With a father in the army, her family moved often finally settling in Colorado. Living in Texas for the last 18 years she loves the people and even the weather. Teresa includes Danny, a character with Down Syndrome in her Pecan Bayou family and in real life is the mother of an adult son with Down Syndrome/PDD. Creating the character of Danny and all of the other inhabitants of Pecan Bayou has been a joy for her. Even though she lives in the big city, her writing is influenced by all of the interesting people she finds in small towns and the sense of family that seems to be woven through them all. Teresa is touring with Great Escapes Virtual Books Tours for the release of her latest book in the Pecan Bayou series, BURNOUT. You will find my review below and there is a giveaway. Just leave a comment for Teresa and then go HERE. Today, Teresa is going to tell us about avoiding writer’s burnout. Welcome Teresa. 

Avoiding Writer’s Burnout

by Teresa Trent

When I announced to a member of my family the title of my fifth book would be BURNOUT, he quickly emailed me back and asked if this was how I was feeling about writing. Okay. He had me. The title of my fourth book was BUZZKILL and my fifth book was BURNOUT. It doesn’t sound very positive, but honestly the titles of the books do not at all reflect my feelings about writing. On the contrary, it seems like the more I write, the more I enjoy writing.

Like any other person on the planet, I am over scheduled. I am not a full-time writer. I split my time between writing, a couple of part-time jobs, and my family. The idea of burning out in the process of writing is pretty tough for me to do. When I do get time to write, I cherish it and wish that I was more productive than I am. As my writing time increases I find it easier to work through the many drafts I produce in writing one book. If I have to take long gaps in my writing, then my plotting suffers. This is my form of burnout. It doesn’t occur writing too much, but from writing too little.

When you are writing consistently you can remember things from day to day. If you write one day, then come back a week later chances are you will have a hard time remembering just what you were trying to do.

I also find myself wanting to quit while in the throes of revision. It is sometimes tedious, and often confusing for me as I go back through the story and realize that I have character movements, settings, plot twists or whatever that might not be working. Sometimes my frustration level at this point can lead to burnout. Here are some strategies that I use so that I can return to my manuscript within 24 hours. If I take any longer than that I risk losing my fluidity of thought.

*Make a note of what the problem is. This is where you have to create your own editor in your head. You’re a writer-it ought to be easy make one more character. Sometimes I will write myself notes like this: “Really? This is never going to work. Change this and then change that or think of something.” I really write it like that. So in this instance it’s okay to talk to yourself to define the problem and start brainstorming your way out of it.

*Go do something, but keep the problem simmering in the back of your mind. Sometimes I go garden and think about things as I’m digging in the dirt. Menial tasks work best. I‘m no longer staring at my computer screen and somehow that helps to pry loose answers to whatever plot problems I may be having. Taking a walk is good for this as well. Just don’t talk to yourself in front your neighbor’s house.

*Go back to your manuscript and try not to let more than 12 to 24 hours pass. Take too long and you will not only lose your train of thought, but you start to lose your excitement for the piece. In the early stages of writing a book you are the only cheerleader for that story that you are telling. If you aren’t excited for what you are trying to produce than nobody else will be either.

*Immediately write down the ideas that you came up within the time you spent away from your manuscript. Go through each idea and look back at your scene list to see how you can incorporate them into what you already have. If you now know you have to get rid of something, start finding the scenes that involve the character or idea that you need to eliminate. Never delete anything totally. Sometimes I take sections out that aren’t working and I put them in another file. Maybe I’ll use that section later and maybe I won’t, but there’s always a chance I have something in there that’s worth salvaging. Just because Stephen King threw his first novel Carrie in the trash, doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing.

*Start reworking your story.

The strategies above may help you avoid burnout. Just remember that when you are writing something as long as a novel, the chances of you making a mistake are pretty good. Be prepared for your mistakes and make a plan to fix it. Once you understand that few writers get it right the first time, the chance of writer’s burnout decreases.

I hope you pick up a copy of my cozy mystery BURNOUT! Betsy is famous for burning things in the kitchen, but this mystery has a fire she didn’t start Thanks for letting me come visit!

Author Links:

Webpage: www.teresatrent.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teresatrentmysterywriter

GoodReadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5219581.Teresa_Trent

Twitter: @ttrent_cozymys

Purchase Links
AMAZON 

burnout coverBurnout (Pecan Bayou Series)
Cozy Mystery
E-Book File Size: 895 KB
Print Length: 202 pages
ASIN: B00ISDZK8S

Synopsis
It’s November in Pecan Bayou, Texas and while the town is getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday a deadly fire breaks out at the newspaper office. When Rocky, the editor is nowhere to be found, Betsy refuses to believe he has perished in the fire. The entire town is coming down with the stomach flu and Betsy must deal with her husband’s new found celebrity as an on-air weatherman filling in for and under-the-weather Hurricane Hal . Leo loves all the attention he’s getting, especially from the sexy administrative assistant who works at the station. Is their new marriage in trouble already? Find out in the fifth book of the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series. All the characters you’ve come to know and love are back and you’ll find plenty of the Happy Hinter’s recipes and tips included at the end of the book.

MY REVIEW 

I have been enjoying this series and it has only gotten better with each installment, including this one. The story opens with the burning of the sixty-three year old Pecan Bayou Gazette building on Main Street. Is Rocky the body inside? I love the character of Betsy. She is so real. Leaves her son in a crisis to run and pee. Real life so rarely makes an appearance in fiction like that! She has problems with her son and is also jealous about her husband and a coworker, possibly she’s… oh wait, my guess, you read and find out. This one is ♥♥♥♥♥

EXCERPT 

An hour later, Tyler and I walked into the Harvest Dance with our arms full of every baked item we could get our hands on from the grocery store. The tables were already covered in sparkling autumn colored table cloths with tasteful pumpkin and scarecrow centerpieces. It was stunning, and I hated to plop a box of Tasteeo Cupcakes on top of it all.
Phyllis, dressed in a mustard turtleneck with a maroon silk scarf tied around her neck approached. “What is this?” Her face turned white, and then was replaced with a complimentary fall color of scarlet red.
“Uh…” I stammered. “I had a little difficulty with the pumpkin squares, but you know kids. They’ll eat anything sweet, right?”
I waited for her to reassure me, but she seemed to be at a loss for words.
“You want me to open up these boxes, Betsy?” Tyler asked.
“Yes, if you would. I’m sure Mrs. Hamlin has lovely plates for us to put these on.”
Phyllis gritted her teeth and turned toward Tyler. “There are some paper plates over there.”
She turned back to me and took hold of my arm squeezing tightly on my bicep with her tastefully manicured nails.
“I specifically told you to make the pumpkin squares. If I wanted a hodge podge of junk food I would have simply stopped down at the Circle K Convenience store.”
Another mother stepped by with her freshly groomed son in tow. “Lovely tables Phyllis,” she said with a little wave.
“Thank you Shelley. We work very hard to make it a wonderful experience for our children.” Somehow I knew she wasn’t including me in that statement.
“I tried to make the pumpkin squares, but we’ve had flu at our house, and I lost track of time, and they burnt.”
“Then why didn’t you just make another batch?”
“There’s not a can of pumpkin left in the entire town.”
“Yes, there is. I have four cans of pumpkin in my pantry. All you had to do was call me.”
The principal walked by. “Beautiful job, Mrs. Hamlin. Don’t know what we’d do without you.”

burnout large banner640

Tour Participants

April 14 – Traci Andrighetti’s Blog – Review

April 15 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review

April 16 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview

April 17 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Guest Post

April 18 – Books Are Life – Vita Libri – Review

April 19 – Books-n-Kisses – Review, Guest Post

April 20 – EASTER

April 21 – Michele Lynn Seigfried’s Blog – Guest Post

April 22 – Community Bookstop – Review

April 23 – readalot blog – Review

April 24 – Back Porchervations – Interview – Review

April 25 – rantinravin‘ and reading – Review, Guest Post

April 26 –  off

April 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Guest Post

April 28 – My Recent Favorite Books – Review

April 29 – Deal Sharing Aunt – Interview

April 30 – A Chick Who Reads – Review

May 1 – Brooke Blogs – Guest Post

May 2 – Little Whimsy Books – Guest Post

 

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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)
BRAND NEW SERIES
COZY MYSTERY
Series: Biscuit Bowl Food Truck (Book 1)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (April 1, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0425263457
E-Book ASIN: B00F9EZAUW

Synopsis
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

www.tellingstoriesthrupictures.blogspot.com

www.jjcook.net

@authorjlavene

https://www.facebook.com/BiscuitBowlFoodTruckMysteries

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18492486-death-on-eat-street

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.

 

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.

BLURB

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.

MY REVIEW 

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. ♥♥♥♥♥

AUTHOR LINKS

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON      B&N      Book World

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

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

BLURB

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.

INCLUDES SEWING TIPS!!

MY REVIEW

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. ♥♥♥♥♥

AUTHOR LINKS

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon    B&N     Book Depository

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

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

 

 

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…

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(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!

MY REVIEW

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 ♥♥♥♥♥

AUTHOR LINKS

Join me for LIMONCELLO YELLOW and a giveaway

Traci Andrighetti-11bTraci Andrighetti is the author of the Franki Amato mystery series. In her previous life, she was an award-winning literary translator and a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a PhD in Applied Linguistics. But then she got wise and ditched that academic stuff for a life of crime – writing, that is.If she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Traci is probably watching her favorite Italian soap opera, eating Tex Mex or sampling fruity cocktails, and maybe all at the same time. She lives in Austin with her husband, young son (who desperately wants to be in one of her books) and three treat-addicted dogs. I am thrilled to have Traci here today with her homage to the lemon and be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of LIMONCELLO YELLOW and for a chance to win a lovely necklace from Traci, go HERE. Welcome, Traci.

Limoncello Yellow: An Homage to the Luscious Lemon

As a debut author, I’m often asked what inspired me to write Limoncello Yellow. The honest answer is that “it’s complicated,” but the fabulous Italian lemon liqueur known as Limoncello was certainly a big factor.

Although I first drank Limoncello as an aperitivo on my honeymoon in Rome, I can’t say that I really experienced Limoncello until I traveled to the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. The lemons in these two areas, the Ovale di Sorrento (Sorrento Oval) and the Sfusato Amalfitano (Amalfitan Spindle), are actually bigger than grapefruits. And they’re far less acidic than American varieties, so they’re sweet enough to eat whole.

When you travel to Amalfi and Sorrento, the first thing you notice is that lemons and images of lemons are everywhere. Lemons are hanging in baskets and displayed on produce tables, and they’re painted on dishes, decorative tiles, aprons, linens and so much more. Even Dolce & Gabbana celebrated the almighty Italian lemon last year with a fabulous lemon print shopper.

If I could have, I would have included all of my favorite lemon products from Amalfi and Sorrento in the book. But that would have been lemon overkill in a book set in New Orleans. So, I’ve compiled a list of some of the lemony goodness that Southern Italy has to offer, just in case you get the chance to go there (to lemon heaven).

marmellata di limone (lemon marmalade): The amazing Italian lemons make this marmalade so fresh and sweet that it’s like sunshine in a jar.

miele di limone (lemon honey): Honey mixed with Italian lemon is the perfect blend of sweet and slightly sour, and it’s a great remedy for a sore throat.

olio d’oliva al limone (lemon olive oil): Italian olive oil is already so scrumptious you can sip it like a fine wine. But when combined with Italian lemon juice, it makes a lovely condiment for salads, fish and bread.

scialatielli al succo di limone di Sorrento (pasta with lemon juice from Sorrento):

This pasta tastes delightfully of lemon, and like all Italian pastas, its name has meaning. Scialatielli derives from the Neapolitan dialect verb sciglià (scompigliare in Italian), which means “to disorder” or “to ruffle” in regard to hair. The –tielli suffix means “little ones.” So, scialatielli can be translated as “little messy ones,” an undoubted reference to the disordered appearance of this pasta on the plate.

cioccolato al limone (lemon chocolate): This chocolate is made with lemon and white, milk chocolate or dark chocolate. And besides Nutella, it is one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. If my protagonist, Franki Amato, could get her hands on this delicious product in New Orleans, she would melt it on her stove and drink it. Daily.

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Francesca “Franki” Amato is a tough-talking rookie cop in Austin, Texas—until an unfortunate 911 call involving her boyfriend, Vince, and a German female wrestler convinces her once and for all that she just isn’t cut out for a life on the police force. So Franki makes the snap decision to move to New Orleans to work at her friend Veronica’s detective agency, Private Chicks, Inc. But Franki’s hopes for a more stable life are soon dashed when Private Chicks is hired by the prime suspect in a murder case to find out what really happened to a beautiful young boutique manager who was found strangled to death with a cheap yellow scarf. When she’s not investigating, Franki is hoping to seduce handsome bank executive Bradley Hartmann, but most of her time is spent dodging date offers from a string of “good Italian boys”—make that not-so-good aging Italian men—that her meddlesome Sicilian grandma has recruited as marriage candidates. As Mardi Gras approaches and the mystery of the murdered shop girl gets more complicated, Franki must decipher the odd ramblings of a Voodoo priestess to solve both the murder and the mystery of her own love life.

MY REVIEW

Let me start by saying that I absolutely HATE Franki. She never stops eating – all fattening. And she never stops drinking – alcohol. So what I really mean is I want to BE Franki LOL! An entertaining romance/comedy/cozy mystery, this is a great start on a new series and I will look forward to the next one. ♥♥♥♥

LINKS

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EXCERPT

As I surveyed the scene at what looked eerily like the Bates Motel, I was shaking so badly from the cold and fear that I was afraid the gun in my holster would fire on its own. I longed for the cozy fire and protective embrace of my boyfriend that I’d felt as we’d exchanged Christmas presents just hours before.

“Folks, you need to go back to your rooms immediately,” Officer Stan Stubbs announced to the crowd of curious motel guests that had gathered.

When the onlookers began to disperse, the woman in room six began moaning again. According to 911 dispatch, she had been in distress for at least half an hour.

I gave an involuntary shiver and wondered what kind of animal would want to cause a woman pain that produced that sort of moaning.

“Something about this doesn’t feel like a regular domestic abuse situation,” Stan said, drawing his gun. “We need urgent backup, Franki.”

I nodded and grabbed the radio from my belt. “I have a 10-39 at the Twilight Motel on Manor Road. Request backup.”

Stan began his approach to room six.

I put the device away and drew my gun. Then I hurried over and took my place on the opposite side of the door from Stan.

“I’m goin’ in on the count of three,” he said in a low voice. “I need to get to the john, and quick like.”

I gasped. “Now, Stan?”

Stan was my partner on the Austin PD. As a rookie on the force, I’d been paired with a seasoned veteran of the department. Even though we’d spent the past six months together, I’d learned little from Stan except that he had a “wifey” named Juanita who worshipped the ground he walked on, he valued his handgun collection more than he did his now adult children, and he suffered from chronic gastrointestinal distress. And despite his self-proclaimed “legendary instinct” for cracking cases, he was perpetually baffled by his stomach issues even though the culprit was clear: a steady diet of jelly donuts and chorizo, bean and cheese breakfast tacos that he washed down with a gallon or so of coffee and Gatorade (Did I mention that he was also chronically dehydrated because of the diarrhea?). Needless to say, he spent the better part of every shift visiting the nearest men’s room.

Ignoring my concern, Stan grasped his gun with both hands and slammed his right shoulder into the door. It flew open instantly, and he stormed into the room. “Police! Hands in the air!”

As I rushed in behind him, my gun drawn, the woman let out a hair-raising scream.

“What in the hell?” Stan shouted.

I followed his gaze to the bed, and a chill went through my body.

“Why, it’s just a couple goin’ at it,” Stan scoffed.

I blinked hard. Was it my imagination playing tricks on me at 4:30 a.m., or was one member of that couple horribly familiar? As in, exchanging gifts by a cozy fire familiar.

“Vince?” I said, my voice barely above a whisper as I stared at my boyfriend of over two years.

He looked at me like a deer caught in the headlights. “Franki?”

Make that, like a cheating rat caught in the act.

Stan looked from Vince to me. “You two know each other?”

I nodded, unable to speak. The chill that I’d felt initially had turned to a dull aching pain, and all I wanted to do was run from the room and cry. But I couldn’t because I was on duty.

“I’ll let you take it from here, Franki,” Stan said as he rushed into the bathroom and slammed the door.

No sooner had he left the room than the woman leapt from the bed—all 6’ 5” or so of her—wearing nothing but her outrage. “Zis invasion iz illegal in Deutschland.”

“All right Franki,” Vince began in a patronizing tone, “no crime has been committed, so why don’t you put the gun down? Then we can all talk about this like rational adults.”

No crime? Rational adults? The dull pain was quickly turning to red-hot anger. Before I could think it through, I shouted, “If you think for one minute that I’m going to sit down to chat with you and your German whore here—

The furious fräulein kicked the gun from my hand, and I watched in what seemed like slow motion as it flew under the bed.

“Be careful, Franki,” Vince warned. “She’s here from Munich on a semi-pro wrestling tour.”

“Oh, so now you’re worried about my well being, Vince?” I asked, backing away from the German giantess. Now that I’d mentioned it, I was a little worried about me too. She was squatting down low with her hands raised, like she was going to make mincemeat of me.

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

Join me for a SINISTER SITCOM CAPER

Carpenter photo_WEB gifSally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif. She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award and “Star Collector” was produced in New York City. Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do. She’s worked as an actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. She’s now employed at a community newspaper. Her initial book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel. Her short story, “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” appears in the anthology “Last Exit to Murder.” “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” was published in the “Plan B: Vol. 2” e-book anthology. Her short story “The Pie-eyed Spy” appeared in the Nov. 23, 2013, issue of Kings River Life ezine. Sally is here today telling us a little about when she worked as a page. Be sure to also see the excerpt from her book. Welcome, Sally.

THAT’S SHOWBIZ! BACKSTAGE AT A SITCOM SHOOT

By Sally Carpenter

Growing up in the Midwest I loved TV and movies and thought that I’d like to work in Hollywood. Some years later the opportunity arose that I could move cross country and try my luck in show biz. I had the good fortune to arrive in Los Angeles when Paramount Pictures was hiring the new class of pages.

During the day pages conducted two-hour walking tours of the 55-acre lot in Hollywood. During the evenings pages ushered in audiences for the live sitcom shootings. Working the shows inspired me to write my new cozy mystery, “The Sinister Sitcom Caper.”

Studios shot the sitcoms either on Tuesday or Friday nights. The soundstages had bleacher seats where the guests sat. The sets and cameras were on the floor below. Microphones hung over the bleachers to record the audience laughter.

At 4 p.m. the day of the shoot the cast, crew and pages had an early dinner provided by the studio (I thought “The Hugleys” show had the best food). At 5 or 5:30 p.m. the pages got in place near a studio entrance to let in the audience. We’d check names off the reservations list and line up the non-RSVP people for “standby” in case extra seats were available. In hot weather and in the rain, we were on our feet and walking (this job kept me in good shape!).

At 6:30 p.m. we escorted the guests into the soundstage. The VIPs—friends and family of the cast and producers—had reserved seats in the front rows and were seated first. Then came the people with reservations and finally those without. The goal was to fill all the seats—around 200.

The warm-up guy (and in one case, a gal) had an important job. Making a sitcom is a long, tedious process that takes three hours or more. Scenes were reshot several times, often with breaks of 20 minutes or more. Sometimes lines were added or revised between takes. Audiences got bored and the warm-up guy kept the guests entertained during the lags.

The warm-ups were charismatic, charming guys who worked well with all types of people. They stood in the front row with a microphone. They described the show and the production process, told jokes, interviewed the guests, gave away merchandise, and led audience participation games. One warm-up guy had an act of “hypnotizing” the guests. Really. He’d put some people under and have them do silly stunts.

The warm-up had to stop instantly when the show resumed shooting and then pick up again. He had to coax the guests into laughing at the same jokes during retakes. He had to stay “on” for the entire time. Each warm-up had his own style of patter. It’s a tough job.

Some shows, particularly those geared for younger viewers, brought in a DJ play music during the breaks. Two shows, “Becker” and “Frasier,” had an in-house band to perform (the band was a holdover from the “I Love Lucy” show).

Also on “Frasier,” during the long breaks for costume changes, the animal trainer amused the guests by having Eddie, the dog, do tricks.

To keep the actors from sweating beneath the hot camera lights, the soundstages were kept freezing cold. I told guests, even on hot summer days, to bring a sweater to a shoot.

The pages watched the audiences to make sure nobody was taking photos or recording the show. We directed guests to the restrooms and made sure nobody sneaked backstage. We also stood outside the stage door to keep people from walking in during shooting.

An important element of production was the craft services table, tucked behind the set and out of sight of the audience. To keep cast and crew happy and alert during the long night, the table was stocked with fruits, snacks, chips, desserts, sodas and coffee. My least favorite show to work had the worse craft services table—nothing but protein bars!

When shooting finished, the cast members did a “curtain call” and took their bows to audience applause. The pages then escorted the guests to the studio gate. Pages could not leave until the last audience member was off the lot, but fortunately, at 11 p.m. or later the guests didn’t linger. Then the pages clocked out and drove home for a good night’s sleep.

In my book, “The Sinister Sitcom Caper,” former ‘70s teen idol Sandy Fairfax finds that making a comeback can be murder. When he guest stars on the sitcom “Off-Kelter,” one of the actors drops dead at his feet and he investigates with the help of a dwarf and an animal actor.

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Sandy Fairfax, former teen idol and star of the ‘70s hit TV show “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth,” is now a middle-aged recovering alcoholic who realizes that making a comeback can be murder. He’s the guest star on “Off-Kelter,” a corny family situation comedy, and the lowest rated TV show of the 1993 fall season. Before rehearsals barely begin one of the actors drops dead at Sandy’s feet. He investigates, enlisting the aid of two of his new cast mates: a dwarf and an animal actor. During his snooping, we meet Sandy’s ex, his parents and his teenage son, all with their own “situations” going on. During rehearsals Sandy also encounters a beautiful choreographer—could this be love? Will Sandy solve the murder before the Friday night taping of “Off-Kelter” or will the elusive killer cancel our hero before the final credits? This book was inspired by the author’s experience working as a tour guide/page at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.

MY REVIEW

Sandy Fairfax is a former child star and recovering alcoholic. In other words, washed up. But ya gotta love his optimism – that doesn’t stop him from constantly referring to himself as a star. It is during one of his comeback attempts, as a guest on failing show, that he falls into a murder case and adds sleuth to his resume. It’s all very light and the dialogue is snappy and the pace is fast. In other words, a perfect cozy. You will enjoy this one ♥♥♥♥♥

EXCERPT

The culprit had lashed me to a sturdy wooden chair with no armrests and a back of horizontal slats. My wrists were tied together behind the chair back; each ankle was bound to a chair leg and a rope across my chest held me in. I tugged on the ropes but they didn’t give. I tried to scoot across the floor but the chair was too heavy to budge. My fingers couldn’t undo the tight knots on my wrists. Whoever did this knew what he was doing.

I studied my surroundings. I was inside an empty soundstage, dimly lit by a single work light. The cavernous room had no set, which meant nobody was using the stage. I might have to wait hours—or days—before someone found me. Maybe my assailant planned to return to finish me off, in which case I needed to escape immediately.

In the corner something moved; was it a rat? I was so dazed from the conk on the head that I was hearing noises; I thought I heard a dog barking. Wait a minute—I did hear a dog barking. Maybe the dog had a person with him who could help. Or maybe my assailant had a pit bull that would finish me off. I could see the headlines: MANACLED MUSICIAN MAULED BY RABID MUTT.

I shouted, “Hey! Is someone out there? Help me!”

Scruffy trotted into view, dragging his leash on the ground. He must have slipped away from Frances. For the first time this week I was ecstatic to see the mangy cur.

“Scruffy! Come here, boy! Over here!”

The critter sat on his haunches before me, his fat tongue lolling out of his mouth as he panted.

“Scruffy! You remember me, don’t you, boy? The man on the show you like to kiss?”

The canine wagged his tail and gave a couple of friendly yaps. As a trained animal actor, maybe he could carry a message for me.

“Scruffy! Listen to me! Go get help! Fetch Frances! Bring your trainer here! Go on, boy! Go! Get Frances!”

The ditzy dog merely stared at me and barked. I repeated the command but he didn’t move. What rotten luck. Just when I needed Lassie to save the day, I was stuck with Scooby-Doo. Then Scruffy recognized me. He jumped up on my lap and started licking my face. The confused cur thought we were filming the show. With my hands tied I couldn’t push him off. I turned my face away from his slobbering tongue and he slurped my ear with gusto.

“Scruffy! Get off! Bad dog! Get down!”

The dog sat in my lap and barked happily in my face. I nearly died of asphyxiation from his doggie breath.

LINKS

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

A TAX CUT some RED TAPE and a giveaway!

michele-photo-for-book-coverMichele Lynn Seigfried is an award-winning novelist, children’s book author/illustrator and public speaker who was born and raised in New Jersey. In her mystery novels, she draws from her personal expertise in the area of municipal government, in which she has served for over 15 years in two different municipalities. She holds a B.A. in communication from the College of New Jersey with a minor in art. She obtained the Master Municipal Clerk certification from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks in 2010. She also holds the Registered Municipal Clerk certification and Certified Municipal Registrar Certifications from the State of New Jersey. Michele is here today on tour for her newest addition to the Jersey Shore Mysteries, TAX CUT, with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. There is a Kindle edition of Tax Cut for one person who leaves a comment. Join me in welcoming Michele as she tells about a day in her life. 

A Day in the Life of Michele Lynn Seigfried

                I awaken to the sounds of starvation. At times, the sounds are bloodcurdling screeches and hisses. At other times, the sounds become a low-pitched chant. “Ba, ba. Ba, ba. Ba, ba.” The sounds interrupt my pleasant dreams of eating chocolate and drinking vino, yet never gaining a pound. I glance at the clock; it’s 5:30 in the morning. I stumble out of bed in the darkness, only half awake, tripping over the Pomeranian mix that I’ve called mine for sixteen years now. He yelps.

                I glance over at the lump next to me, my husband, snoring loudly. The sounds do not disrupt his sleep. I wonder what would happen if I wasn’t home. The wails become louder. “Mommy’s coming, Madi,” I call. It amazes me that a two-year old can eat double what I eat, is a mere sixth of my size, and feels so hungry so early in the day. There is never a need to set my alarm.

                While I adore her little face and sweet smile, I don’t adore waking up so early. I had never been an early riser, until Madi came into my life. I change her and dress her then head downstairs to fix a bottle (yes, I’m one of those bad mothers that still allows her toddler to have a bottle). I let the dog out and notice the wildlife in the yard. Sometimes there are raccoons, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves, Blue Jays, Cardinals, squirrels, and chipmunks eating together in harmony. I can see egrets, beavers, a great blue heron, and a variety of ducks in the creek along the back of my house. I feel like Snow White for just a moment.

                Prince Charming is awake and descends the staircase. I turn to look at him with starry eyes, expecting to be swept off my feet. He leans in and burps in a way that makes the house shake a little. I am jolted back into the reality that my life is not a fairy tale romance novel. As he scratches himself between his legs, he asks, “Are you gonna take a shower?”

                I retreat to the shower, dress, then straighten my unruly hair with the over-priced straightening iron I was suckered into purchasing at the local mall. It works well enough, so long as it doesn’t rain today. I head back downstairs, where I pour a bowl of Special K Red Berries with non-fat milk. The lactaid kind. At least I won’t have those problems today at work. I can’t resist giving half of my cereal to Madi, when she comes to me, mouth wide open, saying, “Um, ums.” I wonder why I’m not skinnier. Oh yeah, I eat too much chocolate. I note to myself, that I must start a diettomorrow.

                I load little Madi into the car and drive her to Poppy’s and Mom-mom’s house before heading into work. My father has laid out three cheese puffs, three cookies, and a sippy cup for Madi, though I protest it. “Really? At eight in the morning, Dad?”

                “What?” he responds, as if he hadn’t heard me say that before. I sigh and give up on that losing battle, saying my goodbyes, giving my daughter kisses, and leaving, at times, when Madi is in a full-blown temper tantrum from separation anxiety. A bribe of another cheese puff does the trick to calm her down, and she waves me off. I note she’s as food motivated as my dog.

                I spend my day at work, which is as a municipal clerk for a local government, and is not even close to being as exciting, mysterious, romantic, humorous, or demented as the job/employees in my two novels, Red Tape and Tax Cut. I guess that’s why I have to make up drama in my books and live vicariously through my characters!

                I finish the day, pick up my daughter, get some take out and head home. (Cook? What’s that?). We eat, then it’s bath time, followed by bed time for Madi. While she’s an early riser, she goes to sleep by seven at night. It’s then that I grab my laptop, nuzzle into my sofa, and escape to another world by writing novels or illustrating children’s books—until nine at night, when I pass out. And not from wine, either! Morning will come early again tomorrow. All joking aside, I love my simple life and my family. I consider myself lucky to have a supportive husband, a wonderful daughter, a roof over our heads, food on the table, and the little things that make life worth living.

AUTHOR LINKS

PURCHASE LINK: Amazon

red tape one of tax cutBLURB RED TAPE

Municipal Clerk Chelsey Alton gets more than she bargained for when she encounters an irate resident and loose cannon, Robert Triggers. Triggers has been harassing the employees in the small, Jersey shore town where she works and he becomes the prime suspect when multiple attempts to sabotage the municipal building are made. Chelsey begins to piece it all together and finds herself framed for a crime she did not commit. She narrowly escapes several attempts at her demise, only to find herself in a much more precarious situation. Will she make it out alive or end up a tragic victim at the hands of a madman?

Tax-Cut-front-coverBLURB TAX CUT

You’ll L.O.L. because Municipal Clerk Chelsey Alton is at it again!  Working for a government riddled with crime, she and her sidekick Bonnie investigate to find out the answer to the pressing question: Who killed Vinny Buttiglieri?  She finds herself entangled with dangerous mobsters and corrupt politicians. She thinks she’s doing the right thing, but can she save herself when she becomes entrenched too deep in this Jersey shore mystery?

MY REVIEW 

Until was laid off in 2009, I too was a municipal employee with all my certifications (assessment). Thought I would retire from that. Oh well. Needless too say, I find this series a real hoot. And there was a lot to recognize for me. Michele kindly sent RED TAPE to all the reviewers while we were waiting for TAX CUT to be ready. I strongly advise you to read the series from the beginning. Not necessary but so much fun! What I like about Chelsey Alton is she reacts to murder much more like you or I would. After her first one, in RED TAPE, she takes a year off to have a minor nervous breakdown before we see her again in TAX CUT. Not like these Jessica Fletcher types who skip merrily from one murder to another! Of course, now that she has been through another one, I’m sure she will handily handle many more – or so I hope because this is a great new cozy series. And seeing the series is set in New Jersey, I am certain MS Seigfried won’t be running out of material anytime soon. This one is ♥♥♥♥♥

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

February 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Guest Post

February 13 – Community Bookstop – Review, Giveaway

February 14 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview

February 15 – readalot blog – Review, Giveaway

February 16 – off

February 17 – Darla King Series – Review

February 18 – rantinravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

February 19 – Socrates’ Book Review Blog – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

February 20 – Dr. Pepper Diva – Review, Giveaway

February 21 – dru’s book musing – Guest Post

February 22 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review, Giveaway

Meet Rory McCain of Sketcher in the Rye by Sharon Pape (and a giveaway!)

I am pleased to welcome Rory McCain to the blog today. She is here because Sharon Pape is on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to let you know aout her latest book, SKETCHER IN THE RYE. Be sure to enter the contest below.

                Hi, I’m Rory McCain from the “Portrait of Crime Mysteries” by Sharon Pape. I want to thank Kate Eileen Shannon for inviting me here to tell you a bit about my ghost partner, federal marshal Zeke Drummond.

                Having been dead since the late eighteenth century, Zeke needs a lot of practice learning how to act as if he’s still alive, and  it’s proven to be a tricky proposition. I’m pretty sure we‘ve already traumatized at least a dozen, innocent souls who were just trying to go about their daily lives. You see, Zeke has the ability to appear solid and three dimensional as long as he’s well rested. The problem is that these manifestations require a lot of energy on his part, and he’s been known to run out of steam at the  most inopportune of times. A general loss of cohesion and disappearing body parts are two of the problems we’ve been working on. During our field trips, he also has to be on alert to keep anyone from touching him. The moment mortal flesh intersects with ghostly ether the gig is up. So practice is essential and real world application a must if Zeke wants to continue accompanying me on investigations.

                During one distressing practice-session, I was driving and he was riding shotgun when we were cut off, and I had to slam on the brakes. Since he can’t wear a seatbelt, he went flying forward into the dashboard, causing his image to scatter like a dandelion gone to seed. He managed to reconstruct himself quickly, but as luck would have it the guy in the next lane witnessed the whole thing. Thankfully by then we were stopped at a red light. The man’s skin turned a mottled gray and his jaw dropped open so wide I thought it might have come unhinged. I smiled him an apology, but he seemed too dumbstruck to notice. I can only hope that he managed to get home safely.

                Another time Zeke and I were in a department store when I caught sight of an old acquaintance by the name of Lois. I thought about making tracks in the opposite direction, but she’d already spotted us. She hurried over, all smiles and curiosity, her eyes clearly homing in on Zeke. For better or worse, he does tend to attract the ladies. Lois and I kissed the air a good six inches from each other’s cheeks. Then it was time to introduce the marshal. We were standing in a narrow aisle of the store without much space between us. If Lois reached out she could easily touch him. What to do? I hoped Zeke had something useful in his bag of tricks, because mine was empty. The situation was becoming more awkward by the nanosecond. Well, I told myself, we’re here to learn how to deal with just this sort of unforeseen problem, aren’t we? “Lois,” I said, trying to sound breezy and natural, “this is my business partner, Zeke Drummond. Zeke, this is Lois. We went to high school together.”

                Lois smiled and batted her eyelashes for his benefit. “So nice to meet you, Marshal,” she said, extending her hand to him. My insides were performing a nervous little tap dance that would have done River Dance proud. How was Zeke going to avoid shaking her hand without appearing rude? Really? I asked myself. Being rude was what I was worried about? How about the consequences of Zeke coming out of the ghost closet right in the middle of a busy department store?

                He started to reach for her hand. I tried not to gasp out loud. At the last moment, he was ambushed by a coughing spasm. His hand flew up to cover his mouth. Once the cough was under control, he apologized in a believably raspy voice and said he was pleased to meet her too. Lois didn’t seem eager to offer her hand again. Crisis averted. We talked for another minute, at which point I glanced at my watch and claimed to be late for an appointment. I sure wish all of our practice sessions ended that well.  

FROM SHARON’S WEBSITE

sharon sketcher I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — some of it in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing. 

BLURB

sketcher coverTrouble has sprouted at Harper Farms. Top secret info has been leaked to the competition, and now there’s serious sabotage cropping up. So the farm’s beleaguered owner, Gil Harper, has called on Rory to dig up some dirt. But what Rory discovers raises a new field of questions…

Someone shucked Harper’s accountant and left his body in the farm’s corn maze. While Gil is quick to hire Rory to solve now not one but two crimes, the sketching sleuth isn’t so sure why the farmer wants her to focus her attention on his own family.

Regardless, Rory and Zeke will need to put their hands to the plow and solve this case before someone else is planted six feet under… READ CHAPTER ONE HERE

MY REVIEW 

Really enjoyed the book. I was disappointed to discover it was not a first in a series and I didn’t have time to go back – but I plan to at the first available chance. Good writing, well developed mystery and characters -. Rory, Hobo, Zeke, Eloise – you will want to revisit again and again.  New series and writer to follow. ♥♥♥♥ 

LINKS

Website

buy the book:

amazon

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FOR A CHANCE TO WIN AN EBOOK COPY OF SKETCHER IN THE RYE, LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW. GOOD LUCK!

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

December 11 – Chloe Gets A Clue – Interview
December 12 – readalot blog – Review
December 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Interview
December 14 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review, Guest Post
December 15 – Christa Reads and Writes – Review
December 16 – Books-n-Kisses – Review
December 17 – Socrates Book Review Blog/Socrates Cozy Cafe – Review – Giveaway
December 17 – Mochas, Mysteries and More – Interview – Giveaway
December 18 – A Chick Who Reads – Review
December 19 – rantinravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post  – Giveaway
December 20 – Queen of All She Reads – Review, Guest Post – Giveaway
December 21 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review
December 22 – My Devotional Thoughts  – Review, Guest Post  – Giveaway
December 23 – Thoughts in Progress – Review – Giveaway
December 23 – Dru’s Book Musings – Guest Post

MURDEROUS MATRIMONY and a giveaway from Joyce and Jim Lavene

jj 2Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 60 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. They are currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours with their latest book MURDEROUS MATRIMONY. Joyce is here today guest blogging about the crafts found in the Ren Faire Mystery Series and you will find a contest at the bottom of the page, welcome Joyce.

Craft and the Ren Faire Mysteries

By Joyce Lavene 

When my husband, Jim, and I first decided to write the Renaissance Faire Mysteries, we thought it would be fun to spotlight a specific craft in each book. After all, a trip to the Ren Faire is nothing without a stroll through all the colorful booths, and a peek at everything in the market. 

We decided to let our protagonist, Jessie Morton, learn a craft in each book as well as solve a mystery! She began working on her dissertation: Renaissance Crafts in Modern Times. 

So we started with Gullah basket weaving in the first book, Wicked Weaves. We visited with some basket weavers who were very helpful in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. There the shops along the road are filled with baskets of all shapes and sizes. 

The second book, Ghastly Glass, was about a glass art maker in Renaissance Faire Village and Marketplace. We went to the source again, and learned everything we could about making glass dragons, unicorns, and other beautiful art. 

Deadly Daggers, the third book, took us in another direction – sword making! Our protagonist spent some time with a sword maker where she also learned to use a sword. 

The fourth book, Harrowing Hats, Jessie was apprenticed to a hat maker who had once spent time in Hollywood. They worked on hats for all the characters in the Village. 

The fifth book, Treacherous Toys, is about wooden toy making. We had a wonderful Father Christmas and his large family making splendid toys. Jessie worked with them, and learned to make toys too. 

In book six, Murderous Matrimony, Jessie is getting married to her long-time beau, Bailiff Chase Manhattan, but she is also the director of the new Arts and Crafts Museum in the Village. Her first guest is a tapestry maker who enchants the crowds with his history of tapestry weaving as well as the wonderful old loom he’s working on. 

Jessie has learned all kinds of things through this series, and so have we. It’s been fun following her exploits, and finding a new craft for each book!

AUTHOR LINKS

Visit them at www.joyceandjimlavene.com

Plus:

Website: http://www.renaissancefairemysteries.com/
Blog: www.romanceofmystery.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joyceandjimlavene
Twitter: @authorjlavene
Amazon : amazon.com/author/jlavene

Murderous-Matrimony-book-coverBLURB

In less than two short weeks, Jessie Morton will marry Chase Manhattan at Renaissance Faire Village and Marketplace. But so much can go wrong in that short time. A man is murdered in Jessie’s new Arts and Crafts Museum and her assistant is being scrutinized for the deed. Chase’s brother and parents have arrived and are still against their marriage. Wanda’s ghost is busy making Jessie’s life miserable. The Ren Faire wedding of her dreams may never take place. Can Jessie talk Chase into eloping before it’s too late?

EXERPT

Before I could call out again, the principle wonder of Madame Lucinda’s tent walked immediately in front of me in a challenging stance.

“Nice dragon.”

I know. There was no way the dragon, the size of a large terrier, was real. Believe me I had investigated every other possibility.

It wasn’t a puppet. It wasn’t a holographic image. It wasn’t a person in a costume, like Fred the Red Dragon. I checked out all those ideas.

The green dragon had yellow eyes that were fastened on me. Its mouth showed rows of sharp teeth. I’d seen it spit fire before. Though it seemed impossible, even here at the Renaissance Faire, I was pretty sure the dragon was real. I don’t know how it was possible, but I had no other answer for it.

When I’d mentioned it to other residents of the Village, they were all fine with the idea that there was a dragon inside the purple and gold tent. No one even seemed to question how a real dragon could be there.

Of course, residents of the Village are not always the most logical, practical people in the world. Let’s face it, we live in a fantasy land where visitors from outside come to be immersed in another time and place. We’re encouraging people to use their imaginations.

My imagination was having a hard time wrapping itself around this very real dragon confronting me like a guard dog. I feinted one way, and he followed me. I was definitely in his sights.

“Oh. It’s you, Jessie.” Madame Lucinda suddenly appeared in the quiet darkness of the tent. “I’m sorry about Buttercup. She doesn’t like surprises, or unannounced visitors, for that matter.”

“Buttercup? It’s a girl dragon?”

Madame Lucinda laughed daintily as though my ignorance was amusing. She was a deeply stooped older woman who always wore a long purple robe. She had a hard time walking. I thought maybe she was crippled, or in some way injured, since she hid herself in here, even after the Village was closed each day.

She moved her long, gray hair away from her face as she sat down carefully in her chair behind the tiny table with the glowing glass ball on it. “Actually, in their fight to survive, dragons have learned to be flexible in their gender. Buttercup is a female right now. She may be a male someday. She’s not old enough to mate as yet. We’ll see when the time comes.”

I moved quickly as Buttercup jumped up on a shelf where she usually perched above Madame Lucinda. I took the chair opposite the fortune teller at the table.

“Are you telling me Buttercup is a real dragon?” I said it with all the authority of a master’s degree in medieval history could bring. “Because you know dragons were only mythology. They weren’t even like dinosaurs. At least existed and went extinct.”

I just wanted to hear her say it. I don’t know why since I probably wouldn’t believe it.

“Mythology is hard to define,” she said in a gruff voice. “One person’s mythology is another person’s truth.”

I looked up at the dragon that made a kind of purring noise on the shelf above us. “That doesn’t really answer my question.”

MY REVIEW

I’ve read quite a few books by the authors but never one from this series. Perhaps I would feel differently if I had started the series from the beginning, but I felt no connection to the characters, I didn’t ‘see’ them. I also felt giving characters names like Chase Manhattan and Oliver Northman was a bit too twee. I like the premise – a group of people that not only work but live in a Renaissance Village that is a public entertainment park. And I have even come to accept things like ghosts and witches in cozy mysteries, something I know many don’t like. There is a blue naked ghost who hums Credence Clearwater Revival, Morgan LeFay, in this one. But ghosts aside, I like a book to be real or fantasy – and I tend not to read fantasy. And I think by having a character, Madame Lucinda, who is half human and half dragon crosses that line from cozy into fantasy. This is no longer real people living in what is essentially an amusement park in South Carolina, there are fantasy creatures. When I have the time, I will go back and read the beginning of this series and perhaps I will revise my opinion but even the writing did not seem up to the standard I have found in the authors’ other books so for me I am afraid this one was only ♥♥♥

GIVEAWAY

The authors are giving away to one winner a copy of each of the 5 print books (US only) in the Ren Faire mystery series as well as the E- novella, Perilous Pranks. and an E- copy of Murderous Matrimony. The entire collection, for now, of their Ren Faire Mysteries. Plus a Ren Faire Mystery tote bag to hold all of them. To enter to win 1) comment below then 2) go HERE.

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

November 12 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway
November 13 – rantinravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway
November 14 – Mochas, Mysteries and More – Guest Post, Giveaway
November 15 – A Chick Who Reads – Review, Interview
November 16 – My Devotional Thoughts – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway
November 18 – Community Bookstop – Review
November 19 – Brooke Blogs – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway
November 20 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway
November 21 – readalot – Review, Giveaway
November 22 – Escape With Dollycas – Review, Giveaway
November 23 – A Blue Million Books – Guest Post, Interview
November 24 – Books-n-Kisses – Review, Giveaway
November 25 – THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK – Review, Giveaway
November 26 – Dalene’s Book Reviews – Review, Interview, Giveaway
November 26 – dru’s book musing – Guest Post, Giveaway