Sharon Love Cook – Laugh ’til You Die

This week, I’m please to host author, Sharon Love Cook.

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All my books have a seaside setting. That may be because I grew up in Gloucester, Mass, where the smell of fish sticks was always in the air. A nautical setting feels natural to me. Likewise, I got my first writing job as a teenage correspondent for the Cape Ann Summer Sun, a newspaper supplement aimed at tourists. I drew cartoons to accompany my column. The latter were mainly about jellyfish invasions, sand castle contests and swim classes.

I tend to be a late bloomer. I went to college in my forties and got an MFA in writing in my fifties. I had the dubious distinction of being the oldest editor on the campus newspaper. Nonetheless, I have plenty of company among fellow baby boomers. As I mentioned, I’m a cartoonist and art school grad who’s illustrated the covers for all three Granite Cove Mysteries: A Nose for Hanky Panky, A Deadly Christmas Carol and Laugh ‘til You Die.

Like my protagonist, I’ve done stand-up comedy at nursing homes, something I don’t recommend as a career path.

Here’s a brief synopsis of Laugh ‘til You Die: 

 It’s midnight in Granite Cove; only the sea clams are open. Murder rocks the sleepy fishing village.

Rose McNichols, reporter for the Granite Cove Gazette, moonlights as a stand-up comic at Shady Nook Retirement Home. There she meets Mabel Smithwick, former Boston socialite. The elderly woman claims she witnessed a drowning at her Hemlock Point pool last summer. However, Mabel is partial to gin and tonic; she is not a credible witness. But when she turns up dead, Rose wishes she’d paid more attention. Before long, Rose herself is a target . . .

Here’s an excerpt: 

    What was the punch line?

     I’d told the joke last week. The audience at Green Pastures Retirement Center had howled. I took a breath, telling myself not to panic. I’m only forty years old. I couldn’t forget a signature joke. Yet as I waited for the punch line, it seemed that I had.

     I’d heard comics speak of “dying” in front of an audience. Now I knew the feeling. Shame washed over me. I wet my lips. My mouth was as dry as Shirley’s bouffant hair. In desperation, I mumbled a plea to Saint Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of hopeless causes: Help me!

     The response was immediate: The door to the activities room burst open and Mabel, blonde wig askew, stumbled inside, almost falling over her walker. She shrieked: “My roommate is dead! She’s been murdered!

     I exhaled. Saved by the bell.

Laugh.6.4

Laugh ‘til You Die can be found on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/zwhcbmj  or ordered at local bookstores. I can be reached atsharonlovecook@comcast.net and at my (sadly neglected) website: sharonlovecook.com, or Facebook: sharonlovecook

Lastly, I’ll send an e-book to someone who mentions their favorite childhood mystery sleuth and explains why that character was special. So please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Maria Grazia Swan – A Cat to Die For

This week, I’m hosting author, Maria Grazia Swan.

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Best selling author Maria Grazia Swan was born in Italy, but this rolling stone has definitely gathered no moss. She lived in Belgium, France, Germany, in beautiful Orange County, California where she raised her family, and is currently at home in Phoenix, Arizona–but stay tuned for weekly updates of Where in the World is Maria Grazia Swan?

As a young girl, her vivid imagination predestined her to be a writer. She won her first literary award at the age of fourteen while living in Belgium. As a young woman Maria returned to Italy to design for–ooh-la-la–haute couture. Once in the U.S. and after years of concentrating on family, she tackled real estate. These days her time is devoted to her deepest passions: writing and helping people and pets find the perfect home.

Maria loves travel, opera, good books, hiking, and intelligent movies (if she can find one, that is). When asked about her idea of a perfect evening, she favors stimulating conversation, Northern Italian food and perfectly chilled Prosecco–but then, who doesn’t?

A Cat To Die For 

Mina Calvi’s new Furry Friends Foundation is a dream come true. Her no-kill shelter rescues and places dogs and cats into new forever homes, and it gives Mina a purpose in life.

But changes are looming on a perfect Sunday afternoon at the Dana Point Marina where she is minding the adoption booth.

A Greek heiress, young, petite and beautiful, shows up on the arm of the love of Mina’s life, Diego Moran. And worse, she wants to adopt Mina’s calico cat, Houdini. Why is the spoiled woman so insistent on getting Houdini when she already owns a look-alike cat?

When Houdini is cat-napped, the cat-sitter murdered, and the ransom demand sent to the heiress, Mina has to keep her wits about her to get her beloved cat home safely, and to keep her heart from getting broken again by Diego, who inexplicably pops up at every turn of the unfolding drama.

Here is an excerpt:

“No.” It escaped her lips like a cry for mercy. “No.”

“You actually hid poor Zeus under your bed?” Diego lifted the silky bed skirt and sort of poked his head under the bed.

She waited, wishing to die.

Slowly and silently, he began to pull out things, white things, long, rectangular things. Boxes. Four of them. The cut-flower boxes he’d sent her two years earlier, when she still meant something to him. He lined them up next to each other like four little coffins filled with dead dreams and un-kept promises. Without moving, he looked up at her.

Mina trembled in all her loneliness and humiliation. She hid her head between her knees. “Go. Please go.”

She wasn’t going to let him see her cry. She could hear him moving. He walked by, out the door, started down the stairs, then stopped. And suddenly he was next to her, kneeling on the floor, his arms around her, his lips in her hair.

“I—I will get you Houdini back. I promise.”

She didn’t move, didn’t talk. Everything had been said a long time ago.

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You can find out more by visiting her website

www.mariagraziaswan.com   or connecting with her on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/MariaGraziaSwan?ref=hl

Purchase A Cat to Die For: https://www.amazon.com/Cat-Die-Minas-Adventures-Book-ebook/dp/B011HDCSIA?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Find Me Here –Maria Grazia Swan

   mgsweb1@gmail.com readers/website

Webpage:    http://www.mariagraziaswan.com

Blog:         http://mariagraziaswan.com/category/marias-blog/

Twitter:     https://twitter.com/scrittrice

Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.comhttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/298316.Maria_Grazia_Swan

Amazon Author page: http://amazon.com/author/http://www.amazon.com/Maria-Grazia-Swan/e/B001JSB6PK/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

http://mariagraziaswan.com/subscribe-to-my-newsletter/

Maria and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Cassie Page – Armoires and Arsenic

This week, I’m hosting, Cassie Page, author of The Darling Valley Cozy Mystery Series.

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I was born, Helen Cassidy Page, in the Bronx in New York and after graduating from high school my older brother invited me to live with him and his family in San Mateo in California to go to college. The move changed my life in many ways. I settled in the bay area permanently, where I raised my daughter. A love of cooking led to a cooking school which led to a cookbook with a cardiologist at Stanford University where I was working at the time, and that’s how my writing career began.

Over the years I’ve published over 34 books, including a serious novel about Ireland in the 1800’s. I trace the roots of that book to my family’s history in Ireland, but my cozy mysteries are more light-hearted and fun.

I’ve traveled to all continents but Australia, including Antarctica, which was a life long dream. You’ll find some of my experiences popping up in my books, which helps me relive some happy moments.

I’m currently working on a time travel series with my daughter which we hope to publish later this year.

Armoires and Arsenic, which I publish under my pen name, Cassie Page, takes place in a fictional town called Darling Valley, named after a town I visited in South Africa. I place Darling Valley in Marin County near my home in San Francisco and Olivia, my heroine enjoys many of the things I do, including decorating and fine food.

Where Do I get My Ideas?

People are often curious about where I get ideas for stories. The answer is I don’t really know. They just appear in my head. I think the process is different for every writer. I know writers who say they hear their stories, while others see them. I knew a writer once who needed quiet because otherwise he couldn’t hear the story in his head. I belong to the latter group I think. I see images, the scenes and just write down what I see. Sometimes my story starts with an interesting first line. My next cozy started with a cover. A Second Coat Murder came to me when I saw blood dripping down the side of a paint can. But because it’s a cozy that’s as gory as it can get. Now I’m in the middle of figuring out who the victim is and how he died. That was fairly easy. I’m still not quite sure who did it. Writers have to solve the puzzle along with their readers. Well, we do it first and then write it. But at some point it is a mystery to us, too.

I always like to put a subtext in my stories, something interesting in addition to the whodunit. I’ve had bodies buried on ancient burial sites that allowed me to do anthropological research on California. One of my characters loves rebuilding old trailers so I had to find the first vacation trailer ever built. But my favorite research came when I found the title for Dying for Diamonds and immersed myself in the jewels of India. I let my imagination go wild in that book. It was hard to come back to reality; the story was more fun.

Armoires and Arsenic

  What Olivia liked best about moving to sleepy Darling Valley from LA was the absence of crime. No worrying about parking her car on a side street because it might get stolen. Nobody slipping sticky fingers into her purse and lifting her wallet while an accomplice distracted her at the sale rack at Neiman’s. Not having to trip over a dead body blocking the doorway of her office building while the LAPD took their sweet time locking down the crime scene. But the best part of living in Darling Valley was never having to find herself sitting across from Brooks Baker at a dinner party while he romanced his new girlfriend and referred to Olivia as a client.

What she hated about Darling Valley was the 400 miles between its pristine mansions and gritty but happening LA.

Here’s an excerpt:

Olivia sat in her office in the immaculately restored Queen Anne Victorian that housed her two bedroom loft, her design and antique business, and a possibly illegal mother-in-law in the basement. The dream house compensated for leaving what she considered the center of the universe, Los Angeles, California.

The mother-in-law housed a regal, but reclusive little old lady who barely gave Olivia the time of day but paid her rent on time. Wait a minute. If the apartment was not up to code, did that qualify as crime? Why didn’t she ask the previous owners when she signed the loan documents containing a contingency that Mrs. Harmon remain ensconced down there for life at the same ridiculous rent? When she thought about it, which she did now over coffee gone cold, that low rent was definitely criminal. And her own fault for overlooking the code issue when renovation was her stock in trade.

Olivia studied her dismal P&L statement that stared back at her from the Excel file on her laptop. Darling Valley was breaking her bank. But enough S&M. She needed to finish up her impossibly long to-do list for the weekend sale before Cody arrived with the armoire. The success of the sale would determine her future, and the armoire would be the centerpiece of the well-publicized event.

The French boudoir phone rang, startling her out of her catastrophic ruminations. Her arm shot sideways into her coffee mug, splashing her favorite Jamaica Blue Mountain over her desk. This was becoming a cartoon of a morning going very wrong.

 She barked,  “Cody, you’re late,” while she sopped up the coffee with the sleeve of her hoodie.

“Only by an hour,” Cody replied in an offended tone that Olivia knew masked a grin spreading across his apple cheeks. “How’d you know it was me?”

 “Cody, no customers call about a furniture order at 7:00 in the morning. So it was either you or Elgin Fastner from the bank harassing me about my about to be late mortgage payment if we don’t get to work.”

Cody was her twenty-one year old delivery guy and right hand everything. They both knew he got away with murder, but he was Olivia’s only true friend in this strange, new town. As Cody apologized for his tardiness in a nasal but passable Wolf Blitzer imitation, she fingered one of the three antique netsuke she had unpacked earlier, another source of disappointment. Because of her connection to Brooks, Edward de Waal, the famed ceramicist, had appraised them for her. After ignoring them in his studio for over a month, he finally returned the pieces yesterday with a note saying the inch-long, carved ivory toggles for a Japanese gentleman’s purse were indeed late seventeenth century, but would only command $1,500 each, tops. The shunga, an erotic figure with the iconic nine-tentacled octopus embracing the naked woman, might fetch $2,000. But only from a serious collector. Her dashed hopes for a number three times that raised the stakes on the sale.

 “When are you getting here, Cody?” A committed multi-tasker, she checked the time on her laptop while she playfully harassed Cody and winced. Where did two hours go? “There’s work to do. I’m in big trouble if this sale isn’t a blowout. So get cracking, my friend.”

“Are you going to have the cat and nine tails waiting for me?”

She laughed. If she were fifteen years younger she could have a thing for Cody. But she wasn’t into boy toys.

“You’ll wish that’s all I have waiting for you if you don’t get those beauties over here. Like yesterday!”

She meant the French armoire, library steps and bergère chairs Cody had picked up from Blackman Furniture Restoration and Imports.

“Seriously, we need to get set up to push merchandise this weekend. Unless you’ve been doubling down on your Wheaties, it’s going to take us the rest of the day to sling everything around and make the showroom pretty.”

 “OMG! What are you worried about?”

Olivia could hear the wind whistling in the open driver side window over Cody’s voice.

“I can rearrange the goods in the showroom with one hand tied behind me. You gotta believe, woman. Believe!”

He spoke like a preacher at a prayer meeting, a place Cody had never frequented in his life. Then he added in all seriousness, “Of course, there is that one armoire that almost broke my back getting it into the truck. What do you have in there, O? Boulders?”

At first, Olivia winced at Cody referring to her stock and collateral, her beloved treasures, as mere goods, as though she sold discount plastic patio furniture. Hers was an enviable collection of mostly seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century French and English antiques she had transported up from Los Angeles earlier this year.

Cody racked up his share of screw-ups on the job, but he was her first friend in Darling Valley. His loyalty to her soon convinced her to cut him some slack. Sure he marched to his own drummer. But so did she.

“What’s your ETA?” she asked.

“I’d say fifteen, maybe twenty minutes.”

“Does that include stopping for coffee at the shop with the cute new barista? Or is that why you’re already an hour late?”

“Coffee and donuts,” Cody said, slapping his head so Olivia could hear. “I knew I forgot the most important thing. See you in less than an hour, O.”

Cody called her O or OMG most of the time, and ma’am when he was innocently flirting with her—neither of them was interested in bridging the age gap, so the occasional sexy teasing was just fun. Cody reserved her full name, Olivia, though, for those serious times when he had gotten himself into trouble. Like spilling his coffee on the Aubusson carpet in the front of the showroom when he was gesturing about how he had maneuvered into Mrs. Gotrock’s driveway without hitting her prize peacocks who had suddenly decided to display right in front of his truck. Gotrocks. That’s how he referred to her few wealthy clients. If only she had more of them. Naturally, he had nicked a lawn ornament when he swerved to avoid the birds, and Olivia had to replace it.

He said, “I’ll pick up the usual for you,” and before Olivia could object, the line went dead.

She knew he wouldn’t answer if she called back to remind him to hustle. Oh well. It would give her time to get dressed, a ritual that could extend beyond Cody’s arrival if she wasn’t paying attention to the clock.

 Wait a minute, she thought as she shut down her computer. What was that about boulders in the armoire? And he never explained why he was so late. They had agreed on 6 a.m.

armoires vector final

Here’s my website: http://www.cassiepage.com

My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cassiepagebooks/

Contact me on Twitter: @bulkarn

Ms. Page and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Marja McGraw – Choosing One Moment

This week, I’m excited to host one of my favorite authors, Marja McGraw.

Author Photo Newest

Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. She worked in both civil and criminal law, state transportation, and a city building department.  She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona.

She wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A past member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was also the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.

Marja writes two mystery series: The Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries, which are light reading with a touch of humor. She also occasionally writes stories that aren’t part of a series.

Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder!

She now lives in Washington, where life is good.

Choosing One Moment

If you ever receive an inheritance, you may want to think it over carefully before you begin sorting through antiques and mementos. They aren’t always as they seem.

Carrie McFerrin learned this the hard way.

Here’s an excerpt from Choosing One Moment:

This is the scene when Carrie McFerrin travels to 1909:

That’s when the phone rang. Not my cell phone, but the crank phone I’d just hung on the wall. The one that wasn’t connected to anything.

Ring, ring, ring. There was a pause before there were three more short rings.

It took a moment to take it all in. I lifted the ear piece from the phone and stared at it for a moment before listening.

“Hello?” My voice squeaked when I spoke into the mouth piece.

The tinny sounding voice of my aunt said, “I need you to come now, Carrie. Hurry.”

Two things happened simultaneously. The line went dead and dizziness hit me like a sledge hammer. The nausea wasn’t far behind.

I dropped the ear piece and sat on the floor, hard, closing my eyes and trying to breathe normally.  I couldn’t do it.

My heart pounded and my head was throbbing. No, it was more like the veins were pulsating. The nausea increased and I closed my eyes tighter, trying to will the dizziness away.

It felt like a high wind was blowing through the house.

Not possible.

There was a feeling of vertigo, and then as suddenly as it had come on me, it stopped. I didn’t want to open my eyes because I was afraid it would start again.

~ * ~

It felt like a breeze brushed my face and there was a hand on my shoulder, gently shaking me.

Patricia must have come back and found me.

“Open your eyes very slowly, Carrie.”

I knew the voice, but something wasn’t right.

The hand started gently shaking my shoulder with more vigor.

“Open your eyes slowly, and don’t be shocked by what you see.”

Huh? Don’t be shocked? The voice alone was throwing me for a loop. I was sure I recognized the sound of the woman speaking to me.

“Slowly?” I asked, my eyes flying open at the speed of light.

“Oh, dear,” the voice said. “I wanted you to take things in a little at a time.”

I looked up and my mouth dropped open. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the woman was… No, it couldn’t be.

“Close your mouth, sweetie. It’s not ladylike to stare with your mouth open.”

“But…”

“You always trusted me. Do it again. I’ll explain all of this to you.” She waved her arm in an arc, taking in our surroundings.

Glancing past the woman, my mouth almost dropped open again. I wasn’t sitting in my kitchen, nor was I with Patricia. I was sitting on the ground outside of the house. There was more. The white house was still white, but it looked almost new.

There were wet clothes hanging on a rope that was spread between two trees.

“Aunt Genny? It can’t be you. I mean, it really can’t.”

“It’s me, but call me Elsbeth. People will still call you Carrie, which makes life a little easier.”

“Have I died?”

She laughed. “No, sweetie. You’ve come a long way to help me – a long way in time, that is. You’ve traveled through time.”

Choosing One Moment Final

My ✰✰✰✰✰ Review

Carrie McFerrin inherits an old house from her aunt and then travels back in time to solve a mystery along with the same aunt, who had also traveled back in time. Carrie meets her ancestors, and must adjust to the “old way” of doing things. No modern appliances, no fast food restaurants, and she has to drink raw, unpasteurized milk. But she manages to adjust to these things, and a lot more. She actually finds she likes living in the early 1900s. While working to solve the mystery, Carrie meets a young man whom she falls in love with. I don’t want to give anymore of the story away, so all I’m going to say is that this time travel novel was a delight to read, with wonderful characters, a great storyline, and a surprise ending. I highly recommend this novel.

Choosing One Moment can be purchased at Amzon: https://www.amazon.com/Choosing-One-Moment-Travel-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01FV3FISO?ie=UTF8&keywords=Choosing%20One%20Moment&qid=1465145355&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/choosing-one-moment-marja-mcgraw/1123828810?ean=9781533345806

Visit Marja’s Website: http://www.marjamcgraw.com/

And don’t miss Marja’s Mystery Blog:  http://marjamcgraw.blogspot.com/

Marja and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Marked Masters – Ritter Ames

This week, I’m hosting author, Ritter Ames

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Ritter Ames is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Organized Mysteries and the Bodies of Art Mysteries. She lives atop a very green hill with her husband and Labrador retriever, and spends each day globetrotting the art world from her laptop with Pandora blasting into her earbuds. Often with the dog snoring at her feet. She’s been known to plan trips after researching new books, and keeps a list of “can’t miss” foods to taste along the way.

Marked Masters

Laurel Beacham made working solo a personal success story and is known for her nerve, instincts, and ability to do whatever necessary to return each priceless masterpiece safely intact. As the world’s leading art recovery expert, she’s thwarted more heists than the average law enforcement professional. Museums applaud her skills. Thieves admire the cunning way she operates.

Her last job landed her the head position over the London branch of Beacham Foundation, but bringing one case to a close only opened a bigger one. More importantly, the new case inextricably ties her to Jack Hawkes, a man smart enough to be her equal but who keeps her trust meter firmly in the red zone. Trying to stop a rumored heist of the century, the pair leap headlong into a plot that gets more dangerous and illusive by the minute. The clock counts down as the bodies and forgeries stack up.

Here is an excerpt from, Marked Masters:

Two black and whites screamed to the curb, paralleling each other and blocking off any possibility of retreat. Brakes screeched. Sirens blared. My blood pressure ratcheted up a notch. The flashing lights alone set my heart pounding so hard I could swear the beats showed through my black Lycra.

One step and I bled back into the shadows of the house’s side wall.

A simple pickup on a limited time frame. That’s what the job had been. My objective was a medium-sized nude, which had reclined over the headboard of a blackmailer’s bed for decades. A painting and headboard currently residing inside the townhouse that was the focal point of this Orlando PD team.

“He’s been extorting money from my mother since before I was born,” Kat Gleeson had explained earlier in the afternoon. “The blackmailer picked up the portrait at a sale after the artist died, playing a hunch it would be worth bigger bucks later. Mother received the first demand as soon as my father started in political life. Laurel, you have to help us.”

Marked Masters (1)

Reviews:

“Ames, with her great writing and brilliant story, has created a masterpiece of her own in Marked Masters. She leaves her readers doing their own research between the pages. Like Laurel, Ritter keeps the story with its rightful owner—the reader.” – Crimespree Magazine

“Boasting a great cast of characters, good conversations and the global background, this was a very enjoyable read and I look forward to the third book in this exciting series.” – Dru’s Book Musing

Visit Ritter Ames at www.ritterames.com.

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/RitterAmesBooks

Follow her on Twitter: @RitterAmes

Ritter uses her Pinterest boards at http://www.pinterest.com/ritterames/ to capture great places and ideas she wants to use in both series.

We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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The Quirky Quiz Caper – Sally Carpenter

This week, I’m welcoming back author, Sally Carpenter.

 Carpenter photo

Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif.

She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition

Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.

She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.

She writes the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series: “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper” (2012 Eureka! Award finalist), “The Sinister Sitcom Caper,” “The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper” and “The Quirky Quiz Show Caper.”

She has short stories in two anthologies: “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in” in “Last Exit to Murder” and “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” in “Plan B: Omnibus.”

She blogs at http://sandyfairfaxauthor.com and ladiesofmystery.com.

She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles.

The Quirky Quiz Show Caper

Former teen idol Sandy Fairfax is a guest panelist on a TV game show—and the first category is murder! When his kid brother, Warren, is framed for killing a college student, Sandy makes it his duty to track down the thug before the police move in. After all, Sandy did play a detective once on a hit TV show. Sandy will get right on the case—right after he visits his kids; fights with his ex; woos his hoped-to-be girlfriend, Cinnamon; and convinces his parents he should be the special entertainment at a black tie gala designed to raise funds for his father’s faltering orchestra. All this while he and his biggest fan attempt to “Raise The Stakes” on a rigged quiz show where––wonder of wonders––the murder victim had recently been a contestant. Sandy’s ready to pull out some of his long blond hair as the game points and the suspects pile up.

Here’s an excerpt from, The Quirky Quiz Show Caper:

I said, “Besides, if Warren wanted kill Dwight, he wouldn’t be stupid enough to use a knife with his name on it.”

Warren shouted, “Ernest! You are not helping!”

The detective gave a small smile. “Thank you, that brings me to my next point. Dr. Farmington, I understand that you own a rather unusual knife.”

“She means your letter opener,” I said.

She gave me a nasty look. So did Warren.

“I assumed that’s what she meant,” Warren said, “Yes, in the past I have used it as a letter opener. A few years ago I had a frame custom made so I could display it. It was a gift from my piano mentor. He called me one of his star pupils. He gave me the knife because he said I had a sharp mind and he wanted me to continue to honed my talents.”

“Where is this knife?”

“Here in the office, right where it’s always been.” He swiveled around in his chair so he could face the wall behind the desk.

Amid the myriad of decorations on the wall hung a silver frame holding a large, black, empty backboard. For a moment Warren stared at the frame and then at us, his face ashen and eyes filled with fear.

“It’s gone.”

QQSC front coverCarpenter photo

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Quirky-Caper-Sandy-Fairfax-mysteries-ebook/dp/B01ERVIAVS?ie=UTF8&keywords=quirky%20quiz&qid=1461623900&ref_=sr_1_3&s=books&sr=1-3

Blog: http://sandyfairfaxauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.carpenter.54

Sally and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Something So Divine – John Lindermuth

This week I’m hosting author, John Lindermuth.

jrlindermuth

A native of Pennsylvania, J. R. Lindermuth is a retired newspaper editor. He has published 14 novels and a regional history. His articles and short stories appear regularly in a variety of magazines. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is currently vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Something So Divine

When a young girl is found murdered in a Pennsylvania rye field in the autumn of 1897, Ned Gebhardt, a feeble-minded youth known to have stalked the victim, is the prime suspect. Incidents involving another girl and gossip stir emotions to a frenzy, nearly leading to a lynching.

Evidence against Ned is circumstantial and there are other suspects. Influenced by the opinions of Ned’s stepsister and Ellen, a woman who has attracted his interest, Simon Roth, the investigator, is inclined to give Ned benefit of the doubt. Then he discovers damaging evidence.

Still unwilling to view Ned as a cold-blooded killer, Roth puts his job and reputation in jeopardy as he seeks to assure a fair trial for the accused.

Here is an excerpt from, Something So Divine

The sound startled Jane Felty. The woman rose from the table where she’d been sorting clothes to iron and went to the door. She stepped out on the porch and looked down the lot to where her husband was chopping a fallen tree into kindling. The tree had toppled weeks earlier in a storm, and Elwood wanted to get the yard cleared of the debris and the wood stored before bad weather. He noticed her now, halted his work, and came up to the porch, ax held loosely at his side. “Something wrong?”

“I thought I heard a shot.”

Elwood shrugged. “Nothing unusual about that. Especially not at this time of year.”

She nodded. “I know. It just startled me is all.”

He gazed fondly at her swollen belly and smiled. The baby was due in another month. They had other children (though this one was an unexpected blessing), and he knew pregnancy did things to women’s emotions. “Nothin’ to worry about.”

Jane returned his smile. “I know. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“Didn’t. I was due for a break.”

She jerked her chin in the direction of the tree. “How’s it coming?”

“Slowly. It’s a big tree. Should last us a good ways into the winter.”

“Would you like something to drink?”

“A cold tumbler of buttermilk would be nice.”

“I’ll bring it. Some fresh-baked cookies, too.” Jane turned and went back in the house.

Elwood started back to his project. A drink, a snack, and maybe a smoke before he went back to work. I’m a fortunate man to have such a good wife. The thought brought a smile to his lips. A peripheral movement caught his attention then. He looked up the hillside to his right as a twig snapped. Something moved through fallen leaves. Elwood stared but couldn’t make out what it might be for the thickness of the foliage. A deer, he surmised, swinging the ax over his shoulder and seating himself on the tree trunk to await Jane and his refreshments.

Minutes later, George Wynn, another neighbor, saw lanky, stoop-shouldered Ned Gebhardt come out of the woods and stalk across his pasture toward the town road. The boy carried a shotgun in one hand and was accompanied by his old cur dog. Wynn shook his head. Boy is bound to get in trouble and too dumb to know it. How many times has Schaeffer warned him about hunting on his land? Well, none of my business, George told himself and went back to digging potatoes in his yard.

somethingsodivine

Something So Divine can be purchased here:

http://www.sunburypressstore.com/searchquick-submit.sc?keywords=lindermuth

https://www.amazon.com/Something-So-Divine-J-Lindermuth-ebook/dp/B014NG03OO?ie=UTF8&qid=1463323626&ref_=la_B002BLJIQ8_1_3&s=books&sr=1-3

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/something-so-divine-j-r-lindermuth/1122534219?ean=9781620066126

Website: http://www.jrlindermuth.net

Blog: http://jrlindermuth.blogspot.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/john.lindermuth

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrlindermuth

John and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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F. M. Meredith – A Crushing Death

I’m delighted to welcome back one of my favorite mystery authors, F. M. Meredith.

Me at Wok meeting

F. M. Meredith, who is also known as Marilyn Meredith, is nearing the number of 40 published books. Besides being an author she is a wife, mother , grandma and great-grandmother. Though the Rocky Bluff she writes about is fictional, she lived for over twenty-years in a similar small beach town. Besides having many law enforcement officers in her family she is counts many as friends. She teaches writing, loves to give presentations to writing and other groups, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, three chapters of Sisters in Crime and on the board of Public Safety Writers Association.

A Crushing Death

A pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for violent attacks on women, and Detective Milligan’s teenage daughter has a problem.

An F.M. Meredith Giveaway

A copy of any book in the Rocky Bluff mystery series except for the latest—either for Kindle or an autographed paper copy—will be given away to one of the commenters on this final blog of this tour.

A Crushing Death, Excerpt from Chapter 1

It never failed. On a holiday or a scheduled day off, or right in the middle of a great night’s sleep, the phone rang, like it just did.

Without opening his eyes, Detective Doug Milligan reached for his phone and answered. “Milligan.”

“You’re needed at the old pier.” The voice belonged to Sergeant Abel Navarro. “Homicide. Zachary will meet you there.” Then he was gone.

His wife, Stacey, rolled over to face him. “What is it?”

“Homicide. Got to go.” He leaned over and kissed her.

Her face registered curiosity.

“All I know is that a body was found at the old pier.” He grabbed his clothes from a chair and went into the bathroom.

Because Rocky Bluff P.D. was small, underfunded and understaffed, Doug and his partner Felix Zachary investigated all major crimes including homicides and other crime scenes.

When Doug drove onto the broken up asphalt of the parking lot, he parked next to Felix Zachary’s new Escalade. A RBPD blue-and-white  patrol car was beside it. Nearer the chained- off steps leading to the dilapidated wooden pier, a young couple huddled against a white Chevy truck.

A flashlight beam bobbed around underneath the pier.

When Doug got out of his own van, he immediately felt the damp air, smelled the ocean, and heard the waves pounding the beach. He opened his trunk and brought out his portable evidence kit.

Weeds sprouted through the cracked asphalt of the lot, some standing many inches high. Doug hurried across, but when he reached the sand, walking became more of an effort.

Though condemned for years, the city fathers had yet to make plans to tear down the battered pier. The last major damage done to it was in 1995 when a winter storm with 18 foot  high waves ripped off the end of the pier, including some of the wooden footings.  The recent earthquake shook more boards and railings loose.

When Doug reached Felix and the uniformed officer on the scene, he asked, “What have we got?”

Officer Vaughn Aragon, much shorter than Doug or Felix, played the beam of his flashlight over what looked like a pile of large stones stacked on the chest of a body. “Those kids back there found this.”

Doug pulled on latex gloves and squatted close to the head. “Either of you recognize the victim?” From what he could see, the corpse was male, light brown hair, close to 6 feet tall, and possibly 180 pounds or more. There were no visible signs of decomposition. He touched the body. Cold.

“I think I know who it is,” Aragon said. “His wife reported him missing yesterday.  I saw his photo at the station. If I’m right, it’s Martin Tivazian.”

Doug recognized the name. “That’s the high school teacher accused of improper actions with one of his students.”

“Yes. I’m sure it’s him.”

“Have you called the medical examiner’s office yet?”

“Did it soon as I arrived.” Detective Felix Zachary towered over the much shorter Aragon. Except for the new chief, he was the only African-American officer on the RBPD. “It’ll be awhile before someone gets here from Ventura.”

Being too small and too poor to have a coroner of its own, Rocky Bluff P.D. used the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office for any deaths suspected of foul play. Obviously this one met the criteria.

Doug turned to Officer Aragon “While we’re waiting for them, interview the young couple who found the body. Ask them the usual questions and get their contact information.”

Aragon trotted off.

“Felix, did you get a chance to look around at all?” Doug played his flashlight beam in a widening arc around the body.  He spotted a few partial footprints in the dry sand, but nothing that looked like it would hold up in a cast. It wouldn’t be easy to discern between those of the kids who found the body, Aragon’s and their own, let alone whoever deposited the body under the pier.

“I didn’t get here much before you. What I did see was what looks like drag marks over there.” Felix pointed his flashlight toward an approximately two-foot wide depression that came from the direction of the parking lot and ended at the corpse.

“Maybe the victim was brought here unconscious and then the stones piled on.” Doug played the beam of the flashlight over what he could see of the victim. He had a long face and thick dark hair. He wore khaki slacks and what looked like expensive loafers.

“Or he was killed somewhere else and the stones are some kind of a statement.”

Doug grimaced.

Felix turned toward the ocean. “Hope someone from the medical examiner’s office gets here soon, I think the tide is coming in.”

A Crushing Death Final

 My  ✰✰✰✰✰ Review

I haven’t read all of the books in the Rocky Bluff Mystery series, but I have read quite a few, and I have to admit that each one was totally enjoyable and a delight to read. They’re kind of a cross between cozy mysteries and police procedurals. All of Marilyn’s novels are timely. This book is about the murder of a high school teacher who’s been accused of inappropriate behavior by a love-struck student—and the Rocky Bluff police chief being stalked by a former convict she helped to put away. The characters are well-developed and believable, and the story is so interesting that when you get to the final page, you don’t want it to end. I’m already looking forward to reading the next book in the Rocky Bluff Mystery series. I highly recommend them all. And what’s nice is that each book can be also read as a stand-alone.  

A Crushing Death can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Crushing-Death-Rocky-Bluff-P-D/dp/1610092260/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457618775&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Crushing+Death+by+F.M.+Meredith

Website: http://fictionforyou.com

Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

Facebook: Marilyn Meredith

Twitter: @MarilynMeredith

Contest: Once again, the person who comments on the most blogs during this tour, can have a character named after them in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

This is the last of the blogs in this tour. I will be in touch with the winner of the character naming contest.

Marilyn aka F. M.Meredith

On May 26th, I’ll be summing up this blog tour on Jackie King’s blog:

http://murderousmusings.blogspot.com/

Marilyn and I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment and be entered to win an autographed print copy of this wonderful novel.

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Betty Jean Craige – Fairfield’s Auction

This week, I’m welcoming back, scholar, translator, teacher, and novelist,

Betty Jean Craige.

BJ Craige

Betty Jean Craige is University Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and Director Emerita of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia.

She received her B.A. in Spanish Literature from Pomona College (1968) and her M.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1974) in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington.  She taught at the University of Georgia from 1973 to 2011.

Dr. Craige has published books in the fields of Spanish poetry, modern literature, history of ideas, politics, ecology, and art.  She is a scholar, a translator, a teacher, and a novelist.

In 2010, Dr. Craige published in both hardback and audiobook Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. In 2011 and 2012 she published a weekly Sunday column in the Athens Banner-Herald titled “Cosmo Talks.”

Dr. Craige’s essays have appeared in PMLAThe Chronicle of Higher EducationThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution, andThe Athens Banner Herald.

Dr. Craige has received the University of Georgia Alumni Society Faculty Service Award (1994), the Albert Christ-Janer Award for Creativity in Research (2003), the Blue Key Service Award (2010), and the Women’s Studies Faculty Award (2011).  She has also received awards for teaching, including the Honoratus Medal from the Honors Program.  The title “University Professor” was granted to her in 1995 as “highest recognition for significant impact on The University of Georgia.” On May 13, 2004, she received the Governor’s Award in the Humanities.

On December 20, 2003, Dr. Craige delivered the graduate and professional schools’ commencement address at the University of Georgia. On January 27, 2012, she gave the University’s Founders Day Lecture. On September 17, 2013, she accepted the Jeannette Rankin Fund Founders’ Award. In March of 2014, UGA’s Comparative Literature Department honored her by establishing an annual lecture in her name.

Dr. Craige was Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Delta Prize for Global Understanding. Most recently she has written a murder mystery titled Downstream, published by Black Opal Books on November 26, 2014.

         Her latest mystery is:

Fairfield’s Auction

A Witherston Murder Mystery

Things were always dangerous in a blizzard, but his was beyond the normal—something strange was definitely going on…

On a cold winter evening in the small mountain town of Witherston, Georgia, antique dealer Hempton Fairfield auctions off rare Cherokee artifacts, Appalachian antiques, and a young African Grey parrot. Late that night, a blizzard stops traffic for a three-mile stretch of the Witherston Highway, prohibiting anyone’s arrival or departure and stranding an eighteen-wheel semi full of chickens. The next morning two bodies are discovered in the snow, the chickens are running free, and the parrot is missing, leaving a number of unanswered questions. What happened? Where’s the parrot? How did the chickens escape the stranded truck? Who rightfully owns the remnants of the thousand-year-old Cherokee civilization? Who killed the two men? And, most importantly, how many more bodies will turn up before the killer is caught?

FairfieldsAuction

Visit Betty Jean at: http://www.bettyjeancraige.com

Amazon Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Fairfields-Auction-Witherston-Murder-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01AXN3546/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=61LF69%2BLdzL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_OU01_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=1B0EYY0M7AA5BZS4VHYE

 Betty Jean and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Other works by BJ:

Lorca’s Poet in New York: The Fall into Consciousness.  Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1977

Literary Relativity.  Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1982

Reconnection: Dualism to Holism in Literary Study.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988  (cloth and paper)  Winner of Frederic W. Ness Award

Laying the Ladder Down: The Emergence of Cultural Holism.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992.  (cloth and paper) Winner of Georgia Author of the Year for Non-fiction

American Patriotism in a Global Society.  SUNY Series in Global Politics.  Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996 (cloth and paper)

Eugene Odum: Ecosystem Ecologist and Environmentalist.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001. (paper edition, 2002)

Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Santa Fe: Sherman Asher Publishing, 2010. Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Silver Award (Category Pets) (2011)

            Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Red Planet Audiobooks, 2010

Parola di Papagallo (Italian translation of Conversations with Cosmo). Mediterranee, 2013

 

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Radine Trees Nehring – A Portrait to Die For

On my blog this week, I’m welcoming author, Radine Trees Nehring.

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For more than twenty years, Radine Trees Nehring’s magazine features, essays, newspaper articles, and radio broadcasts have shared colorful stories about the people, places, events, and natural world near her Arkansas home.

In 2002, Radine’s first mystery novel, A VALLEY TO DIE FOR, was published and, in 2003 became a Macavity Award Nominee.  Since that time she has continued to earn writing awards as she enthralls her original fans and attracts new ones with her signature blend of down-home Arkansas sightseeing and cozy amateur sleuthing by active retirees Henry King and Carrie McCrite King.

What is it about the Ozarks?

    When John and I bought acres of Ozarks hills and hollows in 1978, there were no houses along our road. We wanted a country location and this was definitely it. Camping in wooded areas in New England, Oregon, and across Canada during our August vacations had awakened something amazing inside both of us. We were a city-dwelling-career-oriented couple from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who had fallen in love with sparsely populated country locations. The city? Careers? We wanted out!
In 1988 we left the city and moved to our Ozarks land and the weekend cabin we had built there. John and friends went to work expanding the cabin into a full-time home while I discovered an interest in writing about what I had fallen in love with–the Arkansas Ozarks. In a surprisingly short time my essays and articles featuring the natural world where we now lived began selling to newspapers and magazines in the United States and some other countries. The Ozarks area, it seemed, was peculiar enough that stories arising there were of interest in many places.
Therefore, you know me to be honest when I say that my love for the Arkansas Ozarks can be credited for the development of my writing career.
After my non-fiction book, “Dear Earth: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow,” was published in 1995, I decided to try writing the type of fiction I enjoyed reading–the cozy mystery novel.
This month “A Portrait to Die For,” the newest novel in my on-going mystery series featuring Carrie McCrite, Henry King, and their unique family and friends, will appear.
Have I left the Ozarks to write these stories?
Not on your life. Every Carrie and Henry adventure is set in a well-known and loved Arkansas location. Together, readers and I have attended a wedding in a haunted hotel in Eureka Springs, been prisoners in a historic bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park, explored collapsing abandoned mines along Buffalo National River, and “enjoyed” many other special places popular with Arkansans and tourists.
This year we’re visiting a location that combines my love of art and of the Ozarks. “A Portrait to Die For” is set in and around Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Art Crime? Yes. A cast of characters pulled into danger after Carrie McCrite discovers peculiarities in a pair of paintings on loan to Crystal Bridges? Oh, yes. Add family troubles, an agitated Iraq vet, inept hit men, and a talented forger, and you’ve got high adventure in one more exciting and real Ozarks location.
Okay, Crystal Bridges is not in the country. But it is set in a large, mostly untouched park.
Join me there?

A Portrait to Die For

Carrie discovers two versions of a supposedly original portrait in a loan exhibition at Crystal Bridges of American Art, where she does volunteer work. When the reporter who interviewed Carrie at the museum is abducted, Carrie must choose between honoring her promise to stop crime-solving–or work to find the woman who was her son’s college friend.

FC 300- A Portrait to Die For. - A

Website URL:  www.RadinesBooks.com

Blog URL:  http://radine.wordpress.com

Facebook URL:  www.facebook.com/RadineTreesNehring

Twitter:   @RTNehring

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/radine-trees-nehring

Buy link for Portrait to Die For

http://www.amazon.com/Portrait-Die-Radine-Trees-Nehring/dp/1610092228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457470278&sr=8-1&keywords=Portrait+to+die+for+nehring

Nadine and I would enjoy hearing from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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