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Spend Christmas at the HEARTACHE MOTEL (and a giveaway)

You know one of the nicest things about ebooks? If you are a last minute Christmas shopper you can get an ebook at the last minute. Heck, you can sit in the car outside of Aunt Gert’s on Christmas day, order one on your phone and go to the door and wish Aunt Gert a Merry Christmas and tell her her present is sitting on her Kindle. And if Aunt Gert is a fan of cozy mysteries and Elvis (and who isn’t?) then Heartache Motel would be the best last minute gift for her! And here today, on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Toursare the lovely ladies who wrote it. (enter giveaway at the end) Welcome Terri Austin, Larissa Reinhart and LynDee Walker and Merry Christmas.

Terri: Thanks so much for having us! *waving madly* 

LynDee: It’s always fun to chat with you, Kate! Merry Christmas! 

Larissa: Hey Kate! And Aunt Gert! So glad to be here!

How did this collaboration come about? Had the three of you met somewhere and you came up with the idea yourselves or was it something your publisher came up with?

Terri: Larissa originally came up with the idea. She wondered what it would be like if our characters met around Christmastime. It sort of evolved from there. I can’t remember who had the Memphis idea. Was that you, LynDee?

LynDee: It was. My mom was a big Elvis fan, and I have great memories of going with her to Graceland. Since Memphis was kind of in the middle of where all our heroines are, and we could each find a way to get them there, it fell into place. I’m so glad. I love these stories!

Larissa: We’d like to claim a professional study that led us to believe readers would love a Christmas anthology set at a sketchy motel filled with Elvis and female impersonators. But we can’t. This book came from the three of us goofing around.

Who came up with the constants in the stories like Man-Margaret?

Terri: I think we all sort of came up with a few ideas and we threw them out to the group. I know the Suspicous Minds Bar was Larissa’s brainchild. Along with the Rock-a-hula cocktail—which I need to try. What’s in this concoction, Ris?

LynDee: I honestly can’t remember how the drag queens came about, but I love every one of them. I think it was Ris, because it just sounds like one of her brilliant ideas. And then we all swapped emails giving them names and outfits and such. I’m pretty sure Terri christened Man-Margret. Right?

Larissa: Rock-A-Hula cocktail. One part everything in your liquor cabinet, spin yourself around, and your hips will shake on their own accord. That’s the Rock-A-Hula baby! Which is why I stick with beer.

I have always been an Elvis fan but not a FAN so I never wanted to go to Graceland but I have to admit since reading your stories, I think I’m adding it to my bucket list. Have any of you actually been to Graceland?

LynDee: I have! It’s awesome, and I highly recommend that everyone go. It should be on the Great American list of things to see. My mom and I went for spring break my freshman year of college. I was eighteen, and just way too cool to go with my mom to Elvis’s house. Until we got inside. It was just super cool, being in the place where such talent had lived.

Larissa: Terri and I had to live vicariously through LynDee and Google for this one.

Terri, what can we expect to follow DINER IMPOSSIBLE and when?

I’ve been working on a romance trilogy. HIS EVERY NEED comes out next May, so that’s kept me pretty busy. While I don’t have a date yet, different storylines for Rose and the gang are tumbling around my brain.

Larissa, I’m starting to feel like I should be giving you co-billing on the blog. What’s next after HIJACK IN ABSTRACT?

LOL! Because I love being on this blog! You won’t see me again until Juneish, when Cherry’s number four, DEATH IN PERSPECTIVE, comes out. This time she’s on to a cyber bullying caper turned deadly at a posh, private school.

And last but not least, LynDee, after BURIED LEADS what can we expect from Nichelle?

I’m finishing up galley proofs of the third Headlines in High Heels novel now. It’s called SMALL TOWN SPIN, and it’ll be on sale in April (not too long, y’all!) Nichelle gets pulled into the death of a superstar athlete’s son in a teeny town out on the coast. The local sheriff is quick to write it off as a suicide, but the deeper Nichelle digs, the more she suspects there’s something to the story the police aren’t seeing.

Merry Christmas to all three of you and your families. Before you go, is there anything else you want to tell your readers?

LynDee: Y’all have made 2013 an amazing year for me, and I’m thankful this holiday for every one of you. I hope your season is filled with warmth and laughter.

Larissa: Merry Christmas to you and your readers! Hope none of you get any coal in your stocking. *wink*

BIOS 

terryTERRI L. AUSTIN

As a girl, Terri L. Austin thought she’d outgrow dreaming up stories and creating imaginary friends. Instead, she’s made a career of it. She met her own Prince Charming and together they live in Missouri. She loves to hear from readers!

WEB: www.terrilaustin.com

FOLLOW: www.twitter.com/terrilaustin

LIKEwww.facebook.com/terrilaustin

larrissaLARISSA REINHART

After seeing Paper Moon as a child, Larissa Reinhart fell in love with stories about confidence capers. QUICK SKETCH is the Cherry Tucker prequel to PORTRAIT in the mystery anthology THE HEARTACHE MOTEL. HIJACK IN ABSTRACT is the third in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series from Henery Press, following STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (#2) and PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (#1), a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit.

WEB:  larissareinhart.com

Follow: twitter.com/RisWrites

Like: facebook.com/RisWrites

LynDee-headshotLYNDEE WALKER

LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, she traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds. 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 working on her next novel.

WEB: www.lyndeewalker.com

FOLLOW: www.twitter.com/LynDeeWalker

LIKE: www.facebook.com/lyndeewalkerbooks

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Heartache Motel: Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas
Genre: Women Sleuths, Cozy Mystery, Humorous Mystery, Short Stories
Number of Pages: 225
Published by: Henery Press (December 10, 2013)
 

Elvis has left the building, but he’s forever memorialized at the Heartache Motel. Filled with drag queens, Rock-a-Hula cocktails, and a vibrating velveteen bed, these three novellas tell the tales of three amateur sleuths who spend their holidays at the King’s beloved home.

DINERS KEEPERS, LOSERS WEEPERS by Terri L. Austin
A Rose Strickland Mystery Novella (follows Diner Impossible)

When Rose and the gang head to Graceland right before Christmas, they get all shook up: the motel is a seedy dump and an Elvis impersonator turns up dead. Rose discovers missing jewels tie into the death and her suspicious mind flips into overdrive, questioning her fellow guests, the staff, and even a cute impersonator who keeps popping up. Will Rose be able to find the murderer and get home by Christmas day? It’s now or never.

QUICK SKETCH by Larissa Reinhart
A Cherry Tucker Mystery Novella (prequel to Portrait of a Dead Guy)

Sassy Southern artist Cherry Tucker and her poker-loving boyfriend, Todd, pop into Memphis to help Todd’s cousin who’s been hustled out of his savings, right before Christmas. Staying at the shady Heartache Motel, Cherry can’t tell a shill from a mark and fears everyone is playing them for chumps. Cherry and Todd quickly find themselves in a dangerous sting that could send them to the slammer or mark them as pigeons from cons looking for an even bigger score.

DATELINE MEMPHIS by LynDee Walker
A Headlines in Heels Mystery Novella (follows Buried Leads)

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke thinks she’s going home for Christmas. But a quick stop at Graceland proves news breaks in the strangest places. When the King’s home gets locked down with Nichelle inside, she chases this headline into the national spotlight, and the thief’s crosshairs. Christmas dreams of blue suede Manolos fade, and all Nichelle wants from Santa is to land the story before the thief cuts off her news feed for good.

MY REVIEW

I’m not a big fan of short stories or novellas but this trio of stories was great fun. The stories all take place at the Heartache Motel – a dump would be an upgrade. But the regulars, who appear in all three stories are a lot of fun. Starting with the desk clerk Man-Margaret, a seven foot tall drag queen done up as Ann Margaret. Rose, Roxy and Ma take a break from the diner for Christmas and go to Graceland with Axton and his stoner roommate, Joe, tagging along. They meet Ron, an Elvis impersonator with some “special order” rhinestones on his cape. Then we get to meet Cherry and Todd on their way to what we know (this one is a prequel) will be their very eventful  Vegas visit and they get involved with what might generously be called a ‘charity’ poker game – or maybe a con. And finally we have Nichelle stopping at Graceland, while en route home to Texas, for a Christmas present for her mother. She is stuck there when Graceland is locked down because one of Elvis’s magnificent belts has gone missing. These were three very light, funny stories that will appeal to readers of any of the three series or will introduce you to a new series you should be reading. My only disappointment was I thought Rose, Cherry and Nichelle would bump into each other at some point. hmmmmm …. Perhaps next Christmas? ♥♥♥♥½

For the giveaway of several ebooks, a Barnes and Noble gift card and some other goodies, first leave a comment below then go HERE and scroll down the page to the Rafflecopter giveaway. Have a Happy Holiday everyone!

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Tour Participants

December 10 – A Chick Who Reads – Review
December 11 – Socrates’ Book Review Blog – Socrates’ Cozy Cafe – Review, Interview
December 12 – Christy’s Cozy Corners  – Review
December 13 – Musings and Ramblings – Review
December 14 – Books-n-Kisses – Review
December 15 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Interview
December 16 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review December 17 – fuonlyknew – Review
December 18 – 
StoreyBook Reviews – Review
December 19 – 
Mochas, Mysteries and More – Interview
December 20 – 
My Recent Favorite books – Review
December 21 – 
rantinravin’ and reading – Review, Interview
December 22 – 
Jane Reads – Review, Interview
December 23 – 
Chloe Gets A Clue – Interview
December 23 – 
Queen of All She Reads – Review

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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. 

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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

Come and meet The Bitches of Brooklyn (and there is a special giveaway!)

Giveaway is at the bottom of the page.

Ro-heart-200-2Rosemary Harris is a native Brooklynite, like some of the characters in The Bitches of Brooklyn.  A former bookstore manager and television executive, she’s the author of the Dirty Business mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Paula Holliday. Her debut novel, the Agatha and Anthony-nominated, Pushing Up Daisies (Minotaur), was followed by The Big Dirt Nap, Dead Head and Slugfest.  The Bitches of Brooklyn is the first in a new series. Rosemary is past president of Mystery Writers of America’s NY Chapter and Sisters in Crime’s New England Chapter. She lives in New York City and Fairfield County, CT and I am pleased that she is here today doing a book tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, welcome Rosemary.

So. You kissed Pete Townsend and jogged with Bill Clinton. I’m done. No idea where to go after that. Seriously, what do you have left on your bucket list at this point?

Oh.. traveling to Africa with Angelina Jolie, playing tennis with Roger Federer…just kiddingI’ve had a pretty interesting and fun time so far. No real bucket list – although I’ve always wanted to go to Antarctica.

I must admit that while reading THE BITCHES OF BROOKLYN, at more than one point I expected them to find Abby’s body or at least that she was… more missing than she was? What was the reason you decided to turn away from mystery for this book?

Well, good on youshe did die in the first draft! But then my agent read it and told me the book was really about friendship. I was delighted to bring Abby back from the dead. After having killed off a bunch of people in my first four books it was refreshing not to have my characters tripping over corpses. On a more serious note, it’s a challenge to keep an amateur sleuth legitimately involved in crime-solving – without getting ridiculous!

I read this was the first in a series. What kinds of things can we expect the friends to be getting up to in the future, anything you can share?

I love the jobs I gave the women – a veterinarian, a teacher/writer, a baker, a publicist and a producer. I think I’ve either had or wanted all of those jobs at some point in my life. There are families, work challenges, kids and maybe even a crime or two. After all, these are new amateur sleuths. 😉 The sequel has the women tangentially involved in a crime when a fellow writer is killed and Tina is a witness.

Is any one of the genres more fun to write than the other and do you have favorites amongst your characters?

I recently started writing a historical novel. That was great fun because of all the research. I learned so much. When the story flows it’s all fun – but if pressed I’d say The Bitches has been the most fun. I love those girls. They’re the women I’ve known and grown up with!

What do you like to do to balance the demands writing places on you?

In the spring and summer, gardening. It’s my form of meditation.  In fall and winter, baking. I’m not much of a cook, but I do love to bake I can be a little obsessive about the arrangement of the cranberries in my cranberry tart.

Now three things that have nothing to do with writing or your book:

  • What is your favorite food? This is hardlet’s just say, I’m a good eater. Okay – I never say no to pizza.
  • What is your favorite TV show? Right now, Downton Abbey. I even downloaded a little gizmo that let me watch the upcoming season 4 when it aired in the UK last September.
  • What is your favorite music? Classic rock. Give me The Boss any day.

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

Happy holidays, of course, butthank you for being readers! With so much competition for eyeballs – tv, movies, online activities, etc. it’s great to be reminded that there are still people who enjoy escaping into a good book for a few hours. One of my most memorable library events came at the New Haven Free Library a few years back. The moderator asked the group which actress they thought should play Babe Chinnery , a particularly feisty, sexy woman of a certain age who appears in my first four books and makes a cameo in the current one. The answers were wildly divergent and it reminded me that I write one book, but each reader sees it through her own eyes. That was illuminating for me. So thank you for being readers!

AUTHOR LINKS

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Are they really bitches? That depends who you ask…Rachel, Clare, Tina and Jane are four friends awaiting the arrival of a fifth at a secluded Cape Cod bungalow where they spend an all-girls weekend every year since reconnecting at a reunion. But the fifth woman doesn’t show. Instead she sends a note that reads – “I’ve run off with one of your men.”

Has she? Is it a prank? Do they run for the phone or try to enjoy the weekend without her? Fast, funny and filled with Harris’ trademark snappy dialogue you’ll recognize friends and maybe a little of yourself as the women are forced to reevaluate their friendships, their marriages and their memories.

Inspired by a classic Hollywood film, The Bitches of Brooklyn is for every woman who’s ever had a best friend and wondered…is she really??

MY REVIEW

I enjoyed the book. A bunch of girlfriends on an annual get together getaway. I knew when I signed on to this tour that the book was not a mystery – a welcome break now and then. And I was not familiar with the author so I was not aware of her mysteries. Frankly, I was expecting a Sex And The City knockoff. Which is okay – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. But instead, as I read, I kept feeling I was reading a mystery and the character of Abbey was going to show up dead. It is well written and it flows nicely, it is just for me, for whatever reason, I was anticipating something that never happened. We learn a lot about each woman and her insecurities as each of them is worried that their’s is the man Abbey has run off with. And of course each woman puts on a brave face as though she is sure it couldn’t be her man, all the while in agony imagining he is. While I lean toward thinking this book should have remained the mystery it started life as, I am interested enough to want to read the next installment. ♥♥♥½

PURCHASE LINKS

 Amazon             B & N

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

December 1 –  Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – KICK OFF SPOTLIGHT!!!
December 2 – Mystery Playground – Interview, Special Giveaway
December 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Giveaway
December 4 – Books-n-Kisses – Review, Guest Post
December 5 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review, Giveaway
December 6 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review, Giveaway
December 7 – dru’s book musing –  Guest Post, Giveaway
December 8 – Thoughts in Progress – Review, Giveaway
December 10 – Darla King Series – Interview
December 11 – Kelly P’s Blog – Guest Post
December 12 – rantinravin’ and reading – Review, Interview, Special Giveaway
December 13 – fundinmental – Guest Post,  Special Giveaway
December 14 – According to Squenn – Review, Interview
December 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Interview

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We have a special giveaway today, in addition to the book you could win a swag bag – an insulated tote with plastic champagne glasses and a bitches tank top. Just leave a comment below and an email to contact you.

 

 

 

Review and giveaway of WHIPS CUFFS AND LITTLE BROWN BOXES by Kathryn Long

K LONG WHIPS etcKathryn Long is a recently retired school teacher who has enjoyed writing mysteries for several years. Credits include mystery shorts, “Betrayal in an Envelope” and “A Good Man”, both published by The Piker Press. Long has ventured into self-publishing the cozy Lilly M. mystery series with titles Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes and Gangs, Illegals, and a Rose Tattoo, as well as a series of YA novels, Cinderella Geek, Not So Snow White and Alice in Realityland under the pen name Jennkrist. Dying to Dream is her latest mystery gone to print with indie publisher, Mainly Murder Press. Future publications include a romantic suspense novel titled A Deadly Deed Grows, which will be coming out next year with The Wild Rose Press. Kathryn is here today stopping on her tour of WHIPS CUFFS AND LITTLE BROWN BOXES with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. You’ll find a giveaway below. Welcome Kathryn.

My husband says he sleeps with one eye open given all my odd internet searches, he never knows what he may walk in and see up on my computer screen. How does your family feel about your writing mysteries and about murder and what I am sure is plenty of research on this grisly subject?

The mystery and murder aspect don’t seem to bother my husband. It’s really the time I need to spend on writing, which at moments when I’m in serious author mode can be several hours a day, tends to make my husband feel neglected. Of course, I am married to a man who loves the blood and gore of war movies. A little murder and mayhem doesn’t rattle him!

You’re a prolific writer working in multiple genres. How long does it take you to write a first draft of a book like WHIPS, CUFFS, AND LITTLE BROWN BOXES and then with all that follows that, how long before the reader gets to see it?

WHIPS is actually my third novel. It took several years to write, revise, and revise some more because it was the point in my writing I think where I really needed to push to prove what I could do. I had written and published two other novels before that, but felt they fell short of my best. However, nowadays I can crank out a rough draft in a matter of a few months, but then there’s always the edits.

To do as much as you do, you must be an incredibly organized person. Would I be correct in assuming you must be a plotter not a pantster?

I don’t know if I’d claim to be incredibly organized, more like driven to write! In any case, I’ve come to realize that I have evolved from pantster to plotter over the years. Early on, I would dig right into writing a story with only a rough plot concept in mind. After fifty or so pages, I’d either trash it (if I saw it wasn’t going anywhere) or with a more promising development, I’d take the time to create a chapter outline for the rest of the story. But it finally dawned on me—I can be slow to notice things!—that I was wasting a ton of valuable time with all that unfinished work tossed into the waste can. Now, I come up with the idea, do some research, then create a chapter outline. When I get into the writing, as always, I tweak the outline details here and there.

How many books are you ahead and what is the next book we can expect to see from you?

I have one in the works contracted with The Wild Rose Press. It’s a romantic suspense and we are in the midst of edits. I’m hoping A DEADLY DEED GROWS (tentatively titled) will be out sometime next year. In the meantime, I have started a third book in the Lilly M series, the first being WHIPS, the second GANGS, ILLEGALS, AND A ROSE TATTOO. I’ve titled this one, DEVIOUS, DIABOLICAL, AND DEADLY IN ONE BITE. It’s about a famous pastry chef who is charged with poisoning a food critic.

You write some of your books under a pseudonym so I was wondering, do you ever get confused who you are, say at a book signing?

Not really. And I always enjoy explaining how I came up with my pseudonym. The K is my first name initial; Sean is the name of my son; Jennkrist combines my daughters’ names. The one thing I always ask people when they buy one of those books is if they prefer me to sign my real name or my pen name.

Is any one of the genres more fun to write than the others and do you have favorites amongst your characters?

My writing passion is in mystery. I love reading it as well. I enjoy the idea of creating stories with clues that readers will attempt to work through to try and solve the mystery before the end of the book! My favorite idea is to include both mysteries from the past and present and find ways to weave the details to show how they connect. It’s complicated to do, but so much fun. As for the characters, in WHIPS my favorites are the three aunts. They are so comical, endearing, and yet definitely a challenge for Lilly. In my paranormal mystery, DYING TO DREAM, I’m so pleased with Tante Louise Picault. She’s  a feisty, determined, outspoken, yet loyal older woman who dabbles in voodoo and is a key player in solving the mystery. I’m noticing a trend in my preferences. Strong, entertaining characters are definitely my favorite.

What do you like to do to balance the demands writing places on you?

Well, I know I spend way too much time on social networking, so I have resorted to disconnecting the internet while I’m writing! Seriously though, I have some adjusting to do since I recently retired from teaching. With so much time on my hands, I can’t spend it all on writing or I’d go crazy. I take walks with my dog, spend time with family, read, watch my favorite mystery programs on television – CASTLE is my absolute favorite—listen to music, and take rides to visit wineries and other local interests.

Now three things that have nothing to do with writing or your book:

  • What is your favorite food?  A boston strip steak, baked potato, and salad – okay, I know that’s a meal, but it only works when all three are together!
  • What is your favorite TV show? I mentioned CASTLE, so I’ll add to that and pick a sitcom instead, just to show I have diversity J THE BIG BANG THEORY
  • What is your favorite music? My favorite type is R & B, but there are all kinds of music I love besides that. Pop, blues, classic rock, indie rock, electronic, and the list goes on.

Thank you so much for being here today Kathryn, and good luck with the tour and your new book.

whips coverBLURB

Aunt Fran is missing. Those words echoed throughout the town, worrying family and friends. So, Lilly Millenovanovich, a mystery writer, decides to help the authorities find her aunt. The Barton police have very few leads and Lilly is between novels with time on her hands. Her search becomes a hazardous journey in Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes. Thrown into awkward situations is familiar to Lilly Millenovanovich, like hiding in a stranger’s bedroom closet and discovering a naked man cuffed to the bed. Though events sometimes turn dangerous Lilly continues her sleuthing and recruits Mona, her cousin and best friend, to assist in the search.

Complications erupt, making their quest almost impossible. A chain of store robberies, the unusual behavior of Aunt Fran’s husband, and death threats from the mob are just a few. No matter where the search takes them, Lilly sees one common element – Ron Kinecki, known by women in town as Slick Dick Ron. He’s the owner of Repo Ron’s Used Cars, but might be selling more than automobiles.

As luck would have it, not all eyes watching Lilly intend harm. Her eccentric neighbor, Kooky Colonel Crockett, proves to be a helpful witness as he stands guard over the neighborhood. Aunt Sadie, the bold matriarch of Lilly’s family, who may tip the bottle once too often, executes strong will and bold opinions to keep Lilly on a straight path. Even an anonymous emailer feeds Lilly clues.

Before it’s over, Lilly must face more trouble than she can manage alone. Still, with friends and family to lend their support, everything turns out well in the end. Certainly, it doesn’t happen without a murder or two, but then all is back to normal. At least until the next mystery hits town.

MY REVIEW

This is a very funny book and I did enjoy it. A lot. It has all the elements of a good cozy; mystery, romance and humor. But there are some issues. First the cover. Not a cozy cover. It looks like it would be a cover for an erotica book. I have seen the cover for the second book in the series and it is much more like a cozy cover (although I would suggest the font needs work on that). But this cover could put off a lot of traditional cozy readers. As could the use of the F word. Not a lot at all – certainly not as much as I use it on any given day – but foul language is the type of criticism you see all the time in reviews written by traditional cozy readers. The whole side story of the sex clubs shouldn’t even be there. There are so many other things going on it was just unnecessary. And while the book has no sex scenes, once again, something that would not go over well with many traditional cozy readers. And the murder. I am a firm believer a mystery must have a murder. If I had not been reading this for review, I would have tossed it aside, which would have been a shame because it is a very good book. But the murder did not happen until I was at the 54% point – according to my Kindle. I once took a class with a very well known mystery writer and she said, “A mystery book must have a murder and it is a good idea if you can get it in in the first ten pages.” Once again let me say this is a very good book. Fast paced. Fantastic characters. But a good editor would have changed it from a good book to a great book. ♥♥♥½

Links:

Website: www.kathrynlong.webs.com

Blog:  www.kjlong-teacherwriter.blogspot.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/home.php#!/authorkathryn.long

Twitter: https://twitter.com/klteacherwriter

GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4203129.Kathryn_Long

Purchase Book:  AMAZON

GIVEAWAY: For a chance to win an ebook copy of WHIPS CUFFS AND LITTLE BROWN BOXES just 1) leave a comment below then 2) click HERE 3) go to other tour stops to get additional entries (they are listed below).

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

December 2 – Brooke Blogs – Interview, Giveaway 
December 3 – According to Squenn – Review
December 4 – Queen of All She Reads – Review, Giveaway 
December 5 – Books-n-Kisses – Review, Giveaway 
December 6 – Darla King Series – Review
December 8 – Socrates’ Book Review Blog – Review, Giveaway 
December 9 – readalot blog – Review, Giveaway 
December 10 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Giveaway 
December 11 – rantinravin’ and reading – Review, Interview, Giveaway 
December 12 – Dr. Pepper Diva – Review, Giveaway

 

Meet Tim Hall, author of DEAD STOCK (and there is a giveaway too!)

Giveaway details below.

hall_tim_1-1Tim Hall has had a long and varied career in the underground and independent press as a journalist, author, and as co-founder of the Outsider Writers Collective. He has collaborated with many illustrators and fine artists, including with Emmy Award winning artist Dean Haspiel on “The Last Mortician”, published by Tor.com in 2010. Tim grew up on Long Island, where his Bert Shambles mysteries are set. He lives in New York City. Tim is on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours with his new release, DEAD STOCK. Welcome Tim.

What made you decide to make a 23 year old male the protagonist in a cozy series? And do you think cozy readers are ready for it? I mean your average older cozy reader has a 23 year old son and your average younger cozy reader has a 23 year boyfriend and they have our real lives in turmoil. Do you think it will be, can you make it, our go to choice for entertainment?

I guess I’ve got a little contrarianism in me—I always wished there were more books set on Long Island, and when I was a young man I looked for a cozy series with a guy like me. I actually created Bert back in 1989, when I was 23, but never developed the character until I found some old typewritten pages in a box at my mom’s house a couple of years ago. I was instantly charmed by these early sketches, and knew I had to develop this character.

The nice thing about Bert is that he’s a genuinely sweet person who’s trying so hard to do the right thing. He’s romantic and chivalrous, but unfortunately not very bright. I’m hoping cozy fans will fall in love with Bert for his big heart and slightly clueless ways. He also reconnects with Aria, an old classmate who was homely in high school but who has blossomed into a gorgeous young woman, who provides romantic tension as the story unfolds.

I’ve been checking out things like Uplift The Postivicals and How America Died and your earlier novels. Isn’t a cozy a little, well, cozy and mainstream for you?

I’ve always wanted to be a mainstream writer, I just felt driven to try a lot of other things first: journalism, poetry, experimental writing, comics and a lot of autobio fiction and personal essays. It’s given me a very big vocabulary for humor writing. The best storytellers to me have almost always been the most commercial, popular writers. I love obscure authors like Robert Walser and Anna Kavan, but I’d much rather read an old Travis McGee adventure or the latest Stephanie Plum.

Most of all, I didn’t want to get stuck in the ghetto of artistic purity or literary perfectionism. That’s a death-trap. My goal has always been the same: to be a great storyteller and to give people joy, insight, or inspiration through my work.

Have you been a cozy fan and if so, which one series first hooked you?

I devoured Agatha Christie in grade school, and in my teens I started reading all the crime and mystery fiction I could get my hands on—Hammett, Chandler, Ellroy, Thompson, Tey, Grafton, Highsmith, Clark, you name it—but I was always drawn back to the gentler stories and characters. I don’t want Lawrence Block to kill me, but I think of his Burglar books as a cozy series—Bernie Rhodenbarr was the first series that really hooked me, or at least set me down the cozy path. P.G. Wodehouse was another huge influence on me. The relationship between Bert Shambles and his neighbor at the rooming-house, Aku The Mystic, was influenced to some extent by Jeeves and Wooster.

When will TIED DIED be out and can you tell us anything about it?

TIE DIED should be ready for release by Summer 2014. It picks up the story of Bert Shambles just a few weeks after the end of DEAD STOCK. Like the title implies, this time he gets involved with some hippie/Deadhead characters. Bert is hired by a young woman to help organize a huge stash of music memorabilia left to her by her late father, who was an aspiring flower-power musician in a band called the Peppermint Wristwatch. An aggressive memorabilia dealer who is trying to gain exclusive access to her dad’s collection winds up dead, and Bert becomes a suspect.

If you were stranded on an island and could have only three books you would be rereading for the rest of your life, what would those three books be?

Well, I hope one of the titles would be How To Get Off A Deserted Island For Dummies, or at least a good fish cookbook, but barring that, I’d probably choose The Complete Stories of John Cheever, The Library of America’s Crime Novels of the ‘30s and ‘40s collection or my Travis McGee omnibus, and The Sun Also Rises. I might also slip the stories of Grace Paley into the waistband of my boxer briefs, or a Dawn Powell novel or two. Three? That would be torture!

What do you like to do to balance the demands writing places on you?

Writing relaxes me—I have a demanding day job as a graphic artist, so I’m usually up by 5 am to write before I have to get ready for work. On days I don’t do that, like when I oversleep, I feel out of sorts. I also really like to cook, or in warm weather jog around Central Park to relax. I’m also taking up painting again.  Also, I find that pacing in circles, talking to myself, and randomly freaking out over nothing is quite soothing sometimes.

Now three things that have nothing to do with writing or your book:

  • What is your favorite food? Creamed spinach.
  • What is your favorite TV show? Antiques Roadshow.
  • What is your favorite music? I like house/club/techno music, generally, or old progressive rock like Yes and Genesis. The Grateful Dead were pretty awesome too. Long, meandering instrumental pieces with a flowing rhythm seem to help my creativity.

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

Thank you for having me! People should never underestimate the power of a kind word or a good review. These are incredibly special for a writer, since we spend so much time separated from our loved ones and feeling disconnected from life. If you enjoy any part of DEAD STOCK, please let me or someone else knowit means a lot!

BLURB

dead stockPublished by Cozy Cat Press (October 16, 2013)
Paperback: 200 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1939816214
E-Book File Size: 740 KB
ASIN: B00FYX9SLU
Meet Bert Shambles, a perpetually confused young man whose life continually mirrors his surname. He is stuck back in his suburban Long Island hometown, enduring a three-year suspended sentence for an act of chivalry gone terribly wrong. He works part-time at a church thrift shop and makes extra money by selling “dead stock”—vintage clothes that have never been worn—to a local boutique.

On a routine pick up for the thrift shop, Bert learns that the widow of a recently deceased pro golfer is offering a reward for the return of her dead husband’s favorite putter—and an even bigger reward for proof that her husband was murdered. Bert jumps at the chance, and soon finds himself being chased by a violent, van-driving maniac, romantically involved with a mobster’s daughter, and quite possibly being set up to take the fall by his probation officer and crazy ex-girlfriend. As the forces of good and evil close in around him, Bert must race to clear his name and discover the truth so he doesn’t wind up in prison…or worse.

Filled with twists, turns, and unforgettable characters, and propelled by a truly lovable hero and wicked sense of humor, Dead Stock heralds the arrival of a wonderful new mystery series.

MY REVIEW

Bert Shambles, is I suspect, a character that grows on you. The writing style is at times rather a bit old timey noir which I don’t usually like, but I laughed out loud more than once which I do like. I liked the character Scottey. There were times I felt the writing wasn’t the greatest but I did think the mystery was well plotted. All in all, my feelings are mixed but I think I enjoyed more than I didn’t and I will pick up the next book in this series – and that’s what matters, isn’t it? You know what it is? I think I’m sexist… I am just not used to a 23 year old male as the protagonist in a cozy. Well I definitely have to pick up the next one and just get over that! ♥♥♥½

Tim is giving away an autographed, paperback copy of DEAD STOCK (US only) and to be entered to win just leave a comment below with your email.

AUTHOR LINKS

http://timhallbooks.wordpress.com

Twitter: @timhallbooks

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

December 2 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview, Giveaway

December 3 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading  – Review, Interview, Giveaway

December 4 – Community Bookstop – Review

December 5 – Mysteries and Mayhem – Interview

December 6 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Interview, Giveaway

December 8 – THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK – Review

December 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Spotlight

December 9 – Brooke Blogs – Review, Guest Post

December 10 – Dr. Pepper Diva – Review, Giveaway

December 11 – readalot blog – Review, Giveaway

December 12 – Darla King Series – Review, Guest Post

A BLACK FRIDAY BLOCKBUSTER (and a giveaway!) Come with me to The Falls

Find contest below my review.

George jacksonlgI ‘met’ George Jackson in a Facebook group called Mystery Most Cozy. Always boosting other peoples’ posts, very encouraging and welcoming to new people. Almost never mentioned his own books. Which is rare. The world of publishing is changed and authors must be aggressive self promoters these days. So the less he promoted, the more curious I became. Finally I decided to read one of his books. Then I sent George a message that started: “So George, you are like the only person who hasn’t asked to have your book(s) reviewed. A clever ploy on your part? Get me thinking why is this person the only person on the planet not bugging me – seriously I get requests from people in countries I have never even heard of. So the ploy worked.” Well it wasn’t a ploy, George is just a very nice guy and as I am totally hooked on his books, I am very happy to have him here today. George Jackson (middle name William) was born November 25, 1947 in a small town (Fair Haven) in the Green Mountains of Vermont. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education and a Master’s in Leadership and Administration from Castleton State College. He 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. Welcome, George.

You have put out a lot of books in The Falls series in a very short time. Have you been writing it for years and just finally decided to publish them or are you just a very prolific writer in your retirement?

First of all, it’s great to be here with you Kate. More importantly than this opportunity, I appreciate your friendship and your tips to help me get started in this wide new world of publishing that’s out there!  Now, to answer your question: I have been writing since the world was young. I made up stories in my head as a kid, and industriously penned numerous short stories when I was a teenager and in my twenties. Then I started a dragonrider fantasy series (now listed as The Dragon World Series at the Kindle Store on Amazon.com) when I was working as a principal. Perhaps that was a ‘get away from the stress’ issue as well as a ‘need to write’ issue! The Falls small town mystery series was started back in 2009 right after I retired. I had always wanted to write full time and I finally got my chance. I spent two and a half years aggressively trying to get an agent to sign me up. They always told me they liked my work, but that I didn’t fit the ‘mold’ they had to fill at that moment. Since 2009, I write two hours or so almost every day in the morning and edit two hours in the afternoon, usually working on two different books, or two different series (which is quite a mind twisting assignment at times!). Of course that doesn’t count time spent on FB or making covers. Belonging to several writers’ groups on Facebook has helped me, as a writer, feel less isolated. That’s important for any author.

Where did the name West Sugar Shack Falls come from? The sugar shacks in the maple industry, Sugar Shack Falls in Canada, or were you just a big fan of Jimmy Gilmer?

I’m a Vermont boy, Kate! Born and bred! Sugar shacks dotted the Vermont landscape back when I was a kid. My grandfather even had one at his farm. I was even principal at a school once that had one. The sight of a farmer and his son tromping along from maple tree to maple tree to empty tin sap pails, an old work horse pulling the sap collector along in the snow, was commonplace. Making maple syrup and maple candy is a time honored Vermont tradition. Besides, West Sugar Shack Falls just sounded homey. It’s a comfortable, caring little place where the values of truth, honesty, community spirit and kindness come first. My books, as you’ve stated,  are first and foremost about a town, the inhabitants and their ever growing relationships.

Clearly you put a lot of yourself and your experiences in the books. And readers are always trying to find what character in a book is really the author. But I can’t find any one character that is George. I suspect the protagonist, Cash, has many of your qualities. But William is a writer, Sean is a principal, there are several video gamers, and Drake has his ‘Dragon’ and seems to look like you. So where in the world is George?

I bow to your wisdom and accurate perceptions, Kate! I plead guilty to bits of me being in each of the characters you’ve mentioned. They each have parts of this humble Scotsman, or I would like to think so anyway. What better person than yourself to use as a model for your characters? It’s the person an author knows best and can dig deepest into. I’m impressed with your insightand just a tad embarrassed. Finding bits of me in so many characters makes me sound a bit conceited, which I hope I’m not.

The scene between Shep and Daniel was heart wrenching. And Beth’s funeral – that had to be something you experienced to get the Jewish, Christian mix just right. Was it real?

In my almost sixty-six years, I have unfortunately seen my share of funerals and tragedies. The feelings and emotions of each cross ethnicity and religious lines. I did a bit of research to keep it accurate, naturally. I have lost friends and relatives of every religious affiliation, and in every case, the essence of those last ceremonies is the same: paying tribute to and celebrating the life of the deceased and helping the families and friends to make their peace and move on afterwards. I hope that came across in those scenes.

I love how kids are so much a part of the series. They are just there, a part of things – like in real life. Most mysteries, unless they are young adult oriented, have children there like they were furniture or something. Was it a conscious decision on your part or did it just come naturally from so many years in education?

I never gave it a thought, it just came naturally. Children are necessary to me, especially in a series. Forty years in education, five children, eight grandchildren and now working on the greatgrand babies. So to me, you need children. You need to see them grow and blossom, and watch the roads they head down. It’s an essential part of the series to me. You notice that the series started out with Jeremy Burman as a middle schooler and now he’s in college, still a part of the whole. His character has helped to tie together a number of pieces and plots within The Falls. As you said so eloquently in your introduction, my stories are small town mysteries even before they are cozy.

You’ve just put out the twelfth book in The Falls series, THE FALLS: REVENGE. How long before the next one and any hints for us what it will be about?

As I write this, The Falls: Revenge should be out within a few days. (IT IS NOW OUT.) The Falls: Revenge deals with CR Shanks, the private eye who has recently become the long, lanky sweetheart of Dr. Meg Monroe. He is being targeted by someone who holds a secret grudge. Someone who will stop at nothing to get their revenge. There are, of course, some sidestories and the usual colorful characters. The book I’ve just started working on, The Falls: Thanksgiving, will be a work in progress for the next couple of months. I hope to have it out before Christmaswith Santa’s and Grandma Mina’s help! We’ll see!

I read a lot of books where the formatting is horrible. Not just self published authors, some indie or small presses and some of the big presses. Yours is perfect. There is the odd typo which you find in even the biggest publishing houses’ books these days but you have nailed the formatting. So for all the readers who are writers, how did you do it? Is there a particular book you can recommend or an easy set of online instructions that really showed you the way? (Because we are all searching for that particular holy grail!)

I plead immaculate ignorance, Kate! I write in WORD (the latest edition now that I’ve switched to an iMac from an HP touchscreen) and change it into HTML before heading over to KDP. Whatever their process does to a downloaded manuscript, it works well for me.  I use Courier New 12 point type. I use myecovermaker.com for covers with pictures from stockexchange and my own photographs at times. I draw much of the artwork for my dragonrider novels. Sorry I can’t be more help!

And the final question, that everyone gets asked, three things that have nothing to do with writing or your book:

  • What is your favorite food? Spaghetti and sausages, or steak and homefries, or High English Tea with scones and clotted cream! How’s that for a mix?
  • What is your favorite TV show? NCIS, Elementary, The Big Bang Theory, Covert Affairs, NCIS: Los Angeles and a host of others.
  • What is your favorite music? I love old time rock and roll, Scottish and Irish melodies, and bagpipes speak to my soul.

Thank you so much for being here today George, and good luck with your new book. And since you are from New England originally, I hope you will come up for a vacation that will include visiting New England Crime Bake in 2014. Before you go, is there anything else you would like to tell your readers or have them know about you?

Thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness in having me with you today, Kate. I simply hope that people enjoy the books and find a laugh, a tear, and their hearts and souls warmed just a bit as they read them. For my readers, Thank you, for making my aspiration of being an author come true. By reading my books, you keep my dreams and imagination alive! Come visit The Falls!

MY REVIEW

Whole series review, not just one book. I will include the blurbs with links for all the books in the series below.

Be warned when you pick up book one (and do start at the beginning) THE FALLS: IN THE DEAD OF WINTER, these books are like crack. You will be addicted. When I started reading, it was curiosity, I did not expect a lot to come of it. But I was hooked. I don’t like to compare to another series but there is a resemblance to Murder She Wrote in the sense of the whole New England feel. Although Vermont in this case, not Maine. But it is so much more. In Murder She Wrote and in most cozy series, you have a protagonist and a very small cast of recurring characters. The protagonist has a new friend or acquaintance in every book to move the story along and have the needed crime. In The Falls you have an entire town. (It takes a village.) A far better comparison would be James Herriot’s  All Creatures Great and Small books which were on the surface stories about animals but in reality the overall theme of his stories was Yorkshire country life. So here while the stories may be mysteries, they are really the stories of a town full of people in the Green Mountains of Vermont. There will be new arrivals but for the most part, they are not just plot devices. They stay. They may be just a pleasant diversion in one book but may become a major player several books on. And while Sheriff Cash Greene might be considered the protagonist along with deputies Ericka Yamato and Horace Perkins, they are by no means the most important characters in the books. This is truly an ensemble cast – every citizen (2642 of them) is equally important. People go on with their lives around the mystery. Just like real life. The way scenes cut in and out is like a very well written soap opera. I guarantee, you are going to fall in love with THE FALLS. ♥♥♥♥♥ + + +

sgwarn

George is giving away a Kindle copy of THE FALLS: REVENGE. For a chance to win, just leave a comment below. For additional chances to win, click HERE.

AUTHOR LINKS

BLURBS

617OfWOTCXLTHE FALLS: IN THE DEAD OF WINTER  (1) West Sugar Shack Falls is a small town in Vermont. The sheriff, Cash Green and his deputies, Ericka Yamato and Horace Scofield pride themselves on watching over their colorful cast of community members. But one frosty, snowy night in January, murder comes to The Falls. As the snow falls over the next few days, the bodies mount up! Join in with the downhome humor, the lovable (and destestable!) characters you meet and try and figure out “who dunit“. The end is all action, involving a professional hitman, battling funeral directors, some nefarious community members and an exciting romp in the snow banks and freezing weather of New England. The story ranges from heartwarming to humorous to rugged action. This is the first of many Falls novels. Welcome to The Falls!

51kXqwGI1SLTHE FALLS: SUMMER NIGHTMARE  (2) Welcome back to The Falls! In this, the second volume of the series, there are several new characters introduced including the stunningly beautiful and elegant new psychiatrist and the witty, pretty, and caring new doctor for the hospital. Camp Moonrise, the children’s campsite on the west shore of Lake Pumpkinseed and the summer rental cabins on the east side of the lake provide several new storylines as well. But the main story has all the twists and turns of a nightmare rollercoaster! It’s summer in The Falls so bring a cool lemonade and some bug spray! Follow Cash Green, Doc Stone and the memorable citizens of The Falls as the summer and the murders heat up!

51ruI0eJ1jLTHE FALLS: FALL OF THE ROTTEN APPLES (3) Return to The Falls as the rich autumn foliage covers the surrounding Vermont countryside. Little Billy Barton and his sister Sam find a body in Goldstein’s Orchard. Follow Cash Green, Ericka Yamato and Horace Scofield as they search for answers and find out “who dunit“. Come back and visit all the colorful characters you have grown to know, chuckle with, and enjoy spending time around. There’s lots of action, humor and small town side stories, including the Dragon rider and the Halloween parade! Grab a mulled cider and feel the cool, crisp fall air! Welcome back to The Falls

51kAGtJElELTHE FALLS: MUD SEASON (4) It’s mud season in Vermont and a busload of school kids have found a dead body encased in it! Welcome back to The Falls! There are several new characters, and all the old familiar ones you’ve come to know and enjoy. Visit Dream Rides: Where the Adventure of a Lifetime Begins! Come and have tea with Ducks and Puddles, stop by the Whitfield Family Compound and buy a painting from charming Louisa May McFadden. Follow Sheriff Cash Green, Deputies Ericka Yamato and Horace Scofield, Doc Stone and Meg Monroe as they work together to find out “who dunit“. Revisit The Falls during the fifth season of the year, and try not to get stuck in the mud!

51WDFRQYu6LTHE FALLS: MAKING A LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE (5) It’s Christmas time in The Falls. The town is just getting ready to welcome in the joy, love and warmth of the season, when a local petty criminal is found shot to death in a stand of Christmas trees! Follow Sheriff Cash Green, Deputy Ericka Yamato, Doc Stone, and Dr. Meg Monroe as they set about to find out who is using a Naughty List to bring some vigilantee justice to The Falls! Join Sean Frasier, his brother William and Dr, Serafina as they help track down the guilty party. Lots of Christmas cheer, small town interactions and a puzzling “who dunit“. Welcome back to The Falls!

51mhAWvp2CLTHE FALLS: FOURTH OF JULY (6) It’s the Fourth of July and a body is discovered in a pasture while a flag football game is in progress. Return to The Falls for several twists and turns in the search for the murderer. Squashy makes a dramatic appearance in Lake Pumpkinseed and a scientific research team is dispatched to find out what really is at the bottom of the lake. As the Vermont summer sizzles, follow Sheriff Cash Green, Deputy Ericka Yamato, Doc Stone and Meg Monroe as they search for clues to find the killer! Grab a lemonade, pull up a beach chair and return to The Falls!

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51NXDxzKWuLTHE FALLS: CUPID’S ARROW (7) It’s Valentine’s Day in The Falls. Someone is using a bow and arrow to settle their differences, and it isn’t Cupid. Watch the twists and turns in the plot as you follow Sheriff Cash Green, Deputy Ericka Yamato, Doc Stone and Meg Monroe as they search for the clues to find out “who dunit“. Lots of colorful characters, down home humor, and small town scenarios. Fast paced action blends with humor and relationships around the community. Grab a Valentine and a chocolate or two as you come back and visit The Falls!

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613Nl8qvo-LTHE FALLS: MAY FLOWERS (8) Jeb and Zeke have built a world class fitness and wellness center to enhance the lifestyle of the town’s citizens! Everything is wonderful, but then, one morning, Horace Scofield’s wife, Millie, drags her kids into the exercise room to get in her workout before she sends them off to school. There, lying limp on an exercise bench is one of the new trainers, a three hundred pound barbell across his neck! Visit The Falls as Sheriff Cash Green and his deputies search for the killer. A crime syndicate from the Jersey Shore, a seacoast city in Africa, and the roving reporters from WCAX all play major roles in the plot! Come and visit The Falls as the flowers, shrubs and trees bloom and the citizens of The Falls carry on with their lives. Come re-visit The Falls as April showers bring May flowers!

51KeB8GORYLTHE FALLS: ELECTION (9) It’s Town Meeting in The Falls! With the retirement of two of the three members of the Board of Selectmen, this year’s election is about to provide a good deal more suspense, twists and turns than normal! Throw in the fiery disagreement over parking meters, and the death of the town meter maid and Town Meeting’s going to get a little hot! Return to The Falls with Sheriff Cash Green, Deputies Ericka Yamato and Horace Scofield, the Frasier brothers, Doc Stone and Meg Monroe! Set in Vermont, as the cold March winds start to blow and the Yankee politics heat up! Grab a cup of Earl Grey and settle down to return to The Falls!

51aWwi896TLTHE FALLS: THE TRIAL (10) Mona Castillo’s in danger of losing her home and her beautiful art gallery to an arrogant, aggressive southern belle! Not only that, but a gang of international thieves had become active in The Falls! Follow Sheriff Cash Green, Deputies Ericka Yamato and Horace Scofield as they, Doc Stone and Meg Monroe work to solve all the mysteries cropping up around town. Find out more about Yamato’s biological parents and grandparents and follow the charming, amusing and outlandish community members around town as the tenth book of The Falls small town mystery series comes to life. It’s June, and the Vermont summer is settling in, so grab a lemonade and return to The Falls!

51FHht3WRaLTHE FALLS: RETURN (11) Caleb LePaige is back! The brutal, calculating master criminal has escaped from the maximum security prison where he was placed after trying to kill Grandma Mina and has returned to The Falls.Chasing after him comes the prison’s arrogant warden, Malcolm Strasberg and his cold-blooded second in command, Hans Bergdorf. Hold your breath while Sheriff Cash Green confronts his number one nemesis while trying to deal with the egocentric, cruel warden. Yamato’s grandparents visit, Jeremy Burman prepares to leave for college and his cousin Parnell tries to land Jeremy’s old job in the library with Miss Eunice. Put on your flak jacket and return to The Falls for all the excitement! Come back to The Falls for the 11th book in The Falls small town mystery series!

71xnZxX7mWL._SL1066_THE FALLS: REVENGE (12)  The Falls: Revenge (the 12th volume of The Falls small town mystery series) is a story of payback. CR Shanks is a private eye and Meg Monroe’s sweetheart. Someone has a bone to pick with CR and they will stop at nothing until they get what they want! Several side stories, including Jeremy and Sylvia Jean’s first year away at college, and the usual colorful and outrageous characters are all packed into a few days in September in small town Vermont. Return to The Falls!

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR CHRISTOPHER MEEKS (and a giveaway!)

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Yesterday I did a review of BLOOD DRAMA BY Christoper Meeks. If you missed it, you can read it here. And look for a giveaway at the bottom of the page. I want you to know, I actually BOUGHT this book before I became a tour host for it (which says a lot)  and given the number of books sent to me, I almost never buy a book anymore. Today the man himself is here for an interview. Welcome Christopher.

Thank you. I can’t tell you how pleased that you found and bought my book. You’re wonderful.without mustache

I watched two of your videos on YouTube (they are at the end of the post, folks) and I enjoyed them. You must be a lot of fun as a teacher. Are you still teaching, or is the writing taking up all your time now?

I’ve been teaching in the classroom since 1994, but last year I wanted to try out online teaching, which is what inspired me to make those videos. Online is different, so I wanted to find its strengths. I discovered good online teaching takes two or three times the time and energy of classroom teaching. At first, teaching online for Southern New Hampshire University was great. My first two classes had only eleven writers each, which is an ideal number for online. There were enough writers to interact with each other, but it was small enough that I could give individual attention, which made up for not having all the writers in a room at once.

Then my third semester SNHU raised the class size, and I had twenty-four students—and no more extra pay. When I called the dean, he said they raised the maximum class size “for a better student experience.” Right. And it rains lollipops.

I obsessed and worked far overtime for those twenty-four, but there are only so many conscious hours in a day. There were some great students, but with that large a class, it’s difficult to give the kind of individual attention I like. Also, some of the assignments they made me include were bullshit (sorry to say). What had been wonderful became terrible, and I feel for the students who pay good money for such large classes with silly assignments. I’ve heard from some of my former students, who feel their education has been diluted. When it was done, I’d calculated I’d earned just over seven dollars an hour.

I can’t do that again. I’m teaching a little less in the classroom, though, to write and publish more.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I wanted to be a scientist of some sort, and I first majored in chemistry. Then filmmaking grabbed me, and I majored in Mass Communication. When I finished those requirements early, I finished a second major in psychology. Communication and psychology is a perfect mix for writers. It was in college that I discovered creative writing. I began in poetry and branched into fiction. I went to USC for my MFA, where I had to write three theses. I wrote a novel, a screenplay, and a full-length stage play. I flourished there. Professionally, I’ve worked in all three genres.

What writers have influenced you through the years?

In theatre, Lawrence and Lee, David Mamet, Wendy Wasserstein, John Robin Baitz, Michael Frayn, David Ives, David Hare, and Harold Pinter, among others. In fiction, Margaret Atwood (I’m reading her novel Maddadam now), Kurt Vonnegut, Tim O’Brien, John Updike, Joan Didion, John Irving, and Erica Jong, among others. In screenwriting—poor screenwriters don’t get enough recognition—I admire Charlie Kaufman, David Mamet, Diablo Cody, Paddy Chayefsky, and David Franzoni, among others.

What is the best book you’ve read recently? Why?

Joyland by Stephen King. I hadn’t read any Stephen King novels until last year when I felt compelled to read his 11/22/63, which revolves around President Kennedy’s assassination. I found King to be an amazing writer, so I had to get his next one, Joyland. Wow. He does exactly what I aim to do in my books: come up with a compelling, page-turning story and slip in what literary writing does best by offering small human truths. His characters feel real, and they paint the struggles, sorrows, and joys of living.

I was so impressed, I wrote, “Stephen King: What I Should Have Appreciated Earlier,” which you can read by clicking here.

Did an actual bank heist inspire BLOOD DRAMA or did you just think it was time for women to get in on the act?

I have to back into this question. My first two novels were loosely based on events that had happened to me. The first, The Brightest Moon of the Century, was about growing up in Minnesota, going to the University of Denver, and settling in Los Angeles with a stop at a trailer park in Alabama along the way. Of course, I pushed things in a major way to reveal a sense of what it all felt like.

The second novel, Love at Absolute Zero, was inspired by my junior year abroad, living in Denmark. I really took a tangent, though, by making the hero a quantum physicist who, after getting tenure at the University of Wisconsin, decides to find his soul mate using the Scientific Method. He’s giving himself three days.

When it came around to writing my third novel, I’d run out of major life turns to draw on. However, I’d been correcting my student papers for over a year at a Starbucks in the lobby of a bank. It dawned on me that if I kept doing this, I might be involved in a bank robbery. What if I was taken hostage? Ah ha! That was the start of my novel.

As I researched bank robbery, I discovered it’s a stupid crime because every robbery is videotaped, and it automatically goes to the FBI. Mostly men rob, and they typically spend the money on sex and drugs and go rob again. I thought, “What if a woman robbed a bank?” She’d probably have a better reason than sex and drugs. That got me thinking, too. Soon I had an outline.

I ended up interviewing two FBI agents, one female and one who specialized in bank robbery, because I wanted to get it right. Because I’d been published, they were willing to talk with me.

You’ve switched genres with this book. Is there any chance this will become first in a series – will we see Aleece and Ian again?

A few reviewers before you have suggested this, which has me thinking. It’s on my mind. It depends if there are enough readers for it.

I see that besides being a writer, you are a publisher but not currently open for submissions. Do you have any intention of expanding beyond your current four writers?

I’m enjoying the people I’m publishing a lot, and once their books are showing a profit, I’m likely to expand. I’m certainly understanding more about how other publishers choose authors. First, you have to love their books and believe the world will be a better place for publishing them. With over two million new titles in the United States each year—compared to around 300 new movies from studios each year—the marketing challenges are enormous. I also need to consider how I’d market a new book.

Marketing tools quickly change. For instance, giving away your book for free for a few days on Kindle was at first a great marketing approach. A book’s ranking would go way up, and when it was for sale again, the ranking might be in best-seller territory. Plus, word-of-mouth spread like wildfire, and people were making thousands of dollars on their books. Then everyone was giving away books. Soon authors were making only tens of dollars on their books.

On any given day still, you can get around six thousand books on Kindle for free. The list changes daily. Once, giving away 10,000 books was easy. Now it takes work, money, and ads to give away more than 50 copies—and to what end? Few people who get free books actually read them.

Once you write, revise, edit and all the other steps before publishing, what is the most important piece of advice you have for a writer about marketing themselves?

People who have sold anything–such as shoes, clothes, or tile–for a living have a step up on others. That’s because you know the hard sell is ineffective. People are using Facebook and Twitter, for instance, to say, “Buy my book,” and you turn off people.

My best advice is buy APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur–How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch.

I saw older pictures of you, and you had a mustache. I love mustaches. Why did you get rid of it?

I saw a picture of two friends and myself from 1979. We all had mustaches and looked much like Tom Selleck. Then I saw a picture of Tom Selleck now. I shaved it off immediately. Everyone has to grow up.

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

  • What is your favorite food? I love artichokes.
  • What is your favorite TV show? This week: Breaking Bad.
  • What is your favorite music? “Growing Up,” by Bruce Springsteen.

Thank you so much for being here today Christopher, I hope you are enjoying the tour, and good luck with BLOOD DRAMA. 

AUTHOR LINKS

Christopher Meeks is giving away a print (US ONLY) or ebook copy of BLOOD DRAMA. For a chance to win, you must leave a comment (with an email address) below. For more chances to win, click HERE.
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A really good article: READING AS A WRITER by Christopher Meeks. I am always shocked when I hear a writer say they don’t have time to read. They should all read this.

Two great videos from Christopher Meeks. The first one is tongue in cheek although the number one rule, LIVE HARD is pretty good… and you should know the word eschew… but other than that, just funny.

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Review of BLOOD DRAMA by Christopher Meeks (and a giveaway!)

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I WILL BE INTERVIEWING CHRISTOPHER MEEKS HERE ON THE BLOG TOMORROW SO BE SURE AND STOP BY. AND ENTER THE GIVEAWAY AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE.

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Christopher Meeks was born in Minnesota, earned degrees from the University of Denver and USC, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1977. He’s taught English at Santa Monica College, and creative writing at CalArts, UCLA Extension, Art Center College of Design, and USC. His fiction has appeared often in Rosebud magazine as well as other literary journals, and his books have won several awards. His short works have been collected into two volumes, “The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea” and “Months and Seasons,” the latter which appeared on the long list for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He’s had three plays produced, and “Who Lives?: A Drama” is published. His focus is now on longer fiction. His first novel is “The Brightest Moon of the Century,” and his second, “Love At Absolute Zero.”

AUTHOR’S LINKS

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Everyone has a bad day. In the crossover thriller BLOOD DRAMA, graduate student Ian Nash, after losing his girlfriend, gets dropped from a Ph.D. program in theatre. When he stops at a local coffee shop in the lobby of a bank to apply for a job, the proverbial organic matter hits the fan. A gang of four robs the bank, and things get bloody. Ian is taken hostage by the robbers when the police show up. Now he has to save his life.

FBI Special Agent Aleece Medina’s analysis of the bloody bank heist drives her into the pursuit of a robbery gang headed by two women. She doesn’t anticipate how this robbery will pit her against both the bandits and the male higher-ups in the FBI while the media heats up during a giant manhunt.

The robbers are about to kill Ian, and all he has at hand is his knowledge of the stage.

MY REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was not what I expected. I had come across BLOOD DRAMA before I signed on for this tour and saw suspense/thriller and got it for my husband’s Kindle. Then I signed on for the tour and read it and discovered it is not your average suspense thriller. Much more like Hart to Hart or McMillan & Wife or to be more currant, Castle. You have male and female protagonists who are very well developed and likeable and four bank robbers, two of whom you would like to see get away with it. And that is what makes this book a bit different. The antagonist(s) in a thriller is not usually so well developed. That usually falls into cozy territory where the antagonist is a fellow resident of the town. You have two female bank robbers who have good solid reasons, if there can be such a thing, for robbing banks. It is only when one of the male accomplices gets trigger happy that things go wrong. We have Ian who is the kind of guy you expect things to go wrong for. Kinda handsome and smart but still kind of a loser. In a bank full of people, you just know he is the guy who would of course be taken hostage. He had just been dropped from his doctorate program and is applying for a job in a coffee shop that happens to be in a bank lobby. To get a picture of Ian, all you need to do is read what he writes on a job application:


I am not a particularly avid coffee drinker, but your location three miles north of here, with its interior post modern look of exposed ductwork and the vertiginous aroma of your dark Zambian beans excites me.

All that’s needed is a neon sign and arrow flashing ‘hostage’ over his head. Aleece is a female FBI agent dealing with male superiors who would like to go back to old J. Edgar’s day and sent the ladies back to the kitchen. When Ian escapes, you just know these two will hook up. And when you read this book you will hope these two hook up again. And again. If ever a first book screams series, this is it. Like a country song that makes the pop charts, this is a thriller that will appeal even to lovers of cozy mysteries. Pick it up today, I give BLOOD DRAMA the full ♥♥♥♥♥

BUY THE BOOK

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Christopher Meeks is giving away a print (US ONLY) or ebook copy of BLOOD DRAMA. For a chance to win, you must leave a comment (with an email address) below. For more chances to win, click HERE.

NEW RELEASE SPOTLIGHT: Hijack in Abstract by Larissa Reinhart

larissaIt seems like only yesterday that Larissa was here on the blog with Still Life in Brunswick Stew, and she will be here in December with Heartache Motel. This is one busy lady and at the rate she is appearing on this blog, I’m gonna have to start giving her billing soon. Hijack in Abstract, the third Cherry Tucker mystery is out today. You are going to want to read it.

BIO

Growing up in a small town, Larissa Reinhart couldn’t wait to move to an exotic city far from corn fields. After moving around the US and Japan, now she loves to write about rough hewn characters who live near corn fields, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble.

HIJACK IN ABSTRACT (November 5, 2013) is the third in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series from Henery Press, following STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) and PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. QUICK SKETCH, a Cherry Tucker prequel to PORTRAIT, is in the mystery anthology THE HEARTACHE MOTEL (December 2013). She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website larissareinhart.com or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook.

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With a classical series sold and a portrait commissioned, Cherry Tucker’s art career is in Georgia overdrive. But when the sheriff asks Cherry to draw a composite sketch of a hijacker, her life takes a hairpin as the composite leads to a related murder, her local card-sharking buddy Max Avtaikin becomes bear bait, and her nemesis besmirches her classical series.

Cherry’s jamming gears between trailer parks, Atlanta mansions, and trucker bars searching for the hijacker who left a widow and orphan destitute. While she seeks to help the misfortunate and save her local reputation, Cherry’s hammer down attitude has her facing the headlights of an oncoming killer.

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Cherry’s back and she’s still bedazzled. Larissa Reinhart started strong with this series and she just keeps getting better. Reading this book was just plain FUN. Cherry is not talking to Todd. Which means she says what she wants then adds, “I’m still not talking to you.” And jobless Todd is living with Cherry along with her brother and sister who fled their Grandfather’s house where Pearl is firmly entrenched. So Cherry’s house/studio is more like a frat house. She and Luke aren’t together and Max is looking more attractive to her. Her classical triptych – aka Greek Todds or naked Todd – has sold and she now has a ‘patron’ but she is horrified by the gaudy room in which it’s  displayed. Cherry is called to the police station to draw a suspect from a witness identification and when the witness is killed Cherry adopts his family. There is so much action you will be breathless by the end but it is the characters you will fall in love with even more than the mystery. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. ♥♥♥♥♥

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: larissareinhart.com

Blog: larissareinhart.blogspot.com

Facebook page: facebook.com/RisWrites

Goodreads author page: goodreads.com/author/show/5806614.Larissa_Reinhart

Twitter: twitter.com/RisWrites

Publisher: henerypress.com

https://www.facebook.com/LittleReadHens

Amazon: amazon.com/author/larissareinhart

SAVING GRACE (and a giveaway!)

pamHere with us today is Pamela Fagan Hutchins, an employment attorney and workplace investigator by day who writes award-winning and best-selling romantic mystery/suspense (Saving Grace, Leaving Annalise) and hilarious nonfiction (How to Screw Up Your Kids, What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes?, and others) by night. She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start. If you like Josie Brown or Janet Evanovich for fiction or Erma Bombeck for nonfiction, you’re going to love Pamela. Pamela’s writing wins a lot of contests. Here are a few: 2010 Winner of the Writers League of Texas Romance Contest, 2011 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Novel Contest, 2012 Winner of USA Best Books Parenting/Divorce, and 2012 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story Contest. You’ll find a giveaway at the bottom of the page.  Welcome, Pamela.

Clearly you’re a lunatic but I like that in a person, being one myself. You write a very funny book. But I know from experience, having once worked for a standup comedian, that people who are professionally funny are not always that way in ‘real life’. Are you that funny, the life of the party, the class clown?

In real life, I am an introvert. I get my energy alone with a book, or writing one. I usually keep just my husband and kids around me. But professionally, well, that’s another story. I’ve always been a performer (hence the lawyer gig), and I do tend to go for the laugh when I’m speaking. Sometimes I get it when I’m not even trying, like the time I was speaking to a crowd of 400 at Texas Tech University. I went to the bathroom and forgot to turn off my wireless microphone. Yeah, that got a laugh. Anyway, the bigger the group, the better I do. As the group gets smaller, the introvert in me comes out again.

How much of Katie is Pamela? Did you ever have a meltdown in court?

Honey, I’m always just a few deep cleansing breaths away from having a meltdown — my hormones are not my friends. While I never had a meltdown in court, I’ve had a few epic meltdowns in the office. It’s really great when it happens though. It scares the pants off people, and after that they treat you like, well, a lunatic, which has its advantages. Seriously, Katie comes from a deep part of me, the insecure part, the recovering alcoholic part, the I-want-to-be-a-princess part. I am a cliff jumper like she is, but I wouldn’t have made the kinds of personal choices she makes. In real life, I married at 25 and had two kids before I was 30 and three stepchildren before I was 40, so I never had that solitary work-centered life that Katie has. I think that creates quite a gap between my alter ego and me. 

And the romantic interest in the book (which I won’t get into here, it would be a bit of a spoiler), is that your husband, Eric? Or how much is Eric?

Eric thinks every romantic interest I write is him, not just this series. He once woke up in the middle of the night fists a-swingin’. I said, “What is it? Are you OK?” and flipped on the lights. He just shook his head and said, “I just got through kicking Bart’s ass [Bart being a boyfriend of Katie’s in the series].” I couldn’t help it, I laughed like a hyena. “You know Bart isn’t real, right? And that you aren’t [the love interest we can’t name because it’s a spoiler]?” Here’s the truth: when I first wrote Saving Grace, I did it while Eric was on a long work trip to India and presented it to him on his return as a satirical “story of us,” because he was prodding me to write fiction and writing a spoof of us was easier.  It was fun, and very funny, but it had no plot and the characters weren’t believable, which sounds odd because they were really us, but trust me, “us” didn’t work. Over the years I wrote it and rewrote it until the characters became less and less like us and more and more like themselves. Ultimately 90% of the book is fictional. Readers that know us spot the 10% immediately, which is a kick.

I haven’t gotten to book two as I ask this question so forgive me if it is in there. Will Katie get her license in the U.S. Virgin Islands so she can supplement her singing income (and get into more trouble)?

Not in book two of this series, which is called Leaving Annalise. Actually, Katie will eventually get her license and cause trouble in court, but she does it in a series starring another character. In Leaving Annalise, Katie and Ava get an exciting professional opportunity for their singing. Take one guess who messes it all up (and her name ain’t Ava)?

Do you still have your island home or are you 100% settled back in the states?

Thank the Lord, we are finally 100% divested of our beloved but very high maintenance Estate Annaly in the rainforest of St. Croix. That was my dream house. Owning it from afar became a nightmare. Having the economy tank when we needed to sell it didn’t help. Truly, it is the house all our future homes will be measured by, and I’m not sure we’ll ever match it. Many of the stories about the house in the Katie & Annalise books are totally true. The house inspired the books. The only reason I changed the name to Annalise was that I preferred its rhythm. 

I have checked out your ‘day job’ website and you are a very accomplished professional. Between that, your publishing company, and your family, how much time are you able to devote to writing?

I am an absolutely fierce prioritizer, for starters. I have whittled my day job down to about 25% of my time, mostly client relations and board of directors kind of stuff, with an occasional client gig thrown in if it’s a command performance. The Houston Writers Guild and the publishing take up another 25%. My personal life and wonderful family (I include the four dogs, 2 ducks, one heifer, and four goats in with the five offspring and world’s greatest husband) get 25%. Writing gets the rest. What’s that, about 75%? Ha. But when I write fiction, I write it obsessively, round the clock, very fast (up to 10,000 words a day), and blocking everything else out, which the kids love because they get away with murder. The rest of the time, I write every day, 1500-2000 words, but often those are short pieces for various e-zines/blogs. Now, Eric and I barter over the fiction schedule, with him saying, “Can we just have one more normal month first, please?” Kinda ironic since he unleashed the fiction demon in the first place.

Given your legal background and your time constraints, are you a very organized writer? A plotter as opposed to a pantster?

I started as a pantster. I ended up with weak, unorganized plots. I wasted a lot of time trying to fix pantster books by continuing to do it as a pantster. I can’t believe I ever did it that way, as I am hyper-organized at everything else. Suffice it to say I am 100% converted to being a plotter, and that is what enables me to write so quickly. I have already outlined it and written a detailed synopsis before I type “Once upon a time.” But, hey, when I’m outlining and writing the synopsis, that’s by the seat of my pants. Everybody starts as a pantster somewhere in the process, and we all have to become plotters before we are through, even if it is on a rewrite.

When will we see book three and what is the title?

Book three is called Finding Harmony and it comes out in February of 2014. I am so excited about this book, because, while the Katie & Annalise books each tell an individual story based on events in Katie’s life, all together they tell one over-arching story. Plus, I had so much fun writing Finding Harmony because I got to involve my real-life brother as a plot and research consultant. That was fun. Which just reminded me that I forgot to thank him in the Acknowledgements. Good thing you asked me this question. Thanks for reminding me.

Your YouTube channel shows you are a real outdoors type of person. Is that your biggest stress reliever and what is your favorite activity?

I love to be outside, and yes, outdoor physical activity is a huge stress reliever for me. I love to trail run. Think of it as fast hiking which allows you to cover more ground and see more on a single hike. My feet do not love trail running and I’ve fought plantar’s fasciitis over the last few years, which is a giant bummer. Supposedly, now that I’m back from the insane 60-Cities-in-60-Days book tour via RV that I did last summer, I’m in pre-training to get back in shape for another Half Ironman triathlon. Please do not ask me how that is going. 😉 Eric and I own 20-acres in the middle of nowheresville in the Texas Hill Country, and he has built a running trail on it with his tractor!

Now three things that have nothing to do with writing or your book that everyone gets asked:

  • What is your favorite food? I’m from Amarillo, Texas, so it has to be ribeye steak. I spent my 13th birthday at the Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo where if you eat the 72 oz steak and all the trimmings and hold it down for an hour, you get it free. I didn’t come close.
  • What is your favorite TV show? We binge on series on Netflix to entertain us while we ride our stationary bicycles. I loved Bones. Right now we are doing the Walking Dead, although I am irritated with the writing. Mostly I just love watching college football (Gig’em Aggies).
  • What is your favorite music? I listen mostly to country music, but I love No Doubt, Foo Fighters, and old Foreigner and Journey. Day by day, you’ll find me singing along to George Strait and old Dixie Chicks.

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

Thanks for having me. This was really fun. The only thing I’d add is that I answer every email I get and meet with every group I can, even if it’s via webcam, so don’t hesitate to send me questions or ask me to talk to your writers group or book club. Chances are, I’m going to say yes.

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Saving Grace kicks the Katie & Annalise series off with voodoo, laughs, and suspense.

Katie Connell is a high-strung attorney whose sloppy drinking habits and stunted love life collide hilariously during a doomed celebrity case in Dallas. She flees Texas for the Caribbean and escapes professional humiliation, a broken heart, and a wicked Bloody Mary habit, but ends up trading one set of problems for another when she begins to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents on the island of St. Marcos. She’s bewitched by the voodoo spirit of an abandoned house in the rainforest and discovers that she’s as much a danger to herself as the island’s bad guys are.

See why this series won contest after contest.

91ogyYetRML._SL1500_MY REVIEW

By now people have pretty much guessed that I like a funny book. Sure a cozy with a touch of humor is great, but sometimes I like a bit more slapstick, a little Lucy and Ethel. SAVING GRACE was a perfect sort of cozy/screwball comedy. It is a very funny book. Not quite sure why, it is also very sad. Katie Connell is a real hot mess. She’s an alcoholic germaphobe with a touch of OCD. At the beginning of the book Katie wins a big trial then goes off to a company spirit building conference (don’t you hate those?) where she gets drunk and professes her love for the company investigator, making a complete ass of herself.  Let’s just say, no reciprocity. After that fiasco her paralegal, Emily, and brother, Collin, have an intervention. Katie won’t go to rehab but she will take a break in St. Marcos where she is sure she will stop drinking. Her parents died there a year earlier in a car accident so Katie, who doesn’t believe it was an accident, figures she can dry out and investigate. She drinks on the plane down. So much for rehab. Once there she finds a new BFF, for a week anyway, bar singer Ava. She also finds a house, unfinished, with its own ghost. So of course she puts a bid on it. Which doesn’t get her the house. At the end of the week she is back in Texas and finds herself immediately in court defending a celebrity who has been charged with rape.  Katie melts down in court in a scene we haven’t seen the like of since Al Pacino in And Justice For All. None of this sounds funny, does it? But somehow it is. Katie gets a call the house is hers, the bank took her bid after all, so she quits the law practice, sells her condo, and is off to a new life in St. Marcos where the house has to be rehabbed,if not Katie, Ava has been charged with killing her lover, and a whole lot more is going on. You’re gonna love this book. Trust me. And I have to go now because I’m reading the second book, Leaving Annalise. ♥♥♥♥♥

cover37664-mediumAnd while you are getting book one, get the next book at the same time. Save yourself the trouble of having to go back because you are going to want that one too.

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Saving Grace (Katie & Annalise Series)

Leaving Annalise (Katie & Annalise)

Pamela is giving away a paperback copy of  LEAVING ANNALISE, the second book in the series. To enter, 1) leave a comment, with your email, and 2) for more chances to win go HERE.