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Monday, October 24, 2016

Guest Author Post - Victoria Abbott

Welcome the mother-daughter writing team known as Victoria Abbot.  Their Book Collector mysteries and delightful, 1st book was The Christie Curse (click here), 2nd entry was The Sayers Swindle (click here), The Wolfe Widow (click here) I have reviewed on this blog. 

Dream trip or nightmare?

Fall is our favorite time of year: we love the crisp sunny days and the cooler nights. We enjoy the hint of colorful leaves to come and once again we are celebrating that we have a new book coming out: The Hammett Hex. You can probably tell by our fedoras that we’re celebrating the link between the book and the legendary Dashiell Hammett.

The Hammett Hex will be released on October 4 and we are very excited about sharing this fifth book collector mystery with you. We hope you’ll join our protagonist, Jordan Bingham, on a dream trip to San Francisco, with the man in her life, Officer Tyler ‘Smiley’ Dekker. Of course, they have separate rooms in case things don’t go well, which sometimes they don’t for this pair. Jordan is taking no chances.

They’re just trying to see if they can rebuild their trust in each other and overcome the differences in their backgrounds. The deck is stacked against a romance with Jordan, the first person to go straight in her large family of Irish crooks and Tyler, a man with no family to speak of and a desire to be a good police officer with no criminal connections. Can they work out their problems in the foggy city of Dashiell Hammett, where it seems you just can’t trust anyone?

All Jordan has to do is find a signed first edition copy of Hammett’s Red Harvest for her book collector boss. Soon Jordan isn’t safe on a cable car, taking a cab ride or even in her hotel room. Coincidence? Of course, she has something to hide and naturally, it also turns out that Tyler is keeping a big secret. Will it make a difference or is there an even bigger threat to their happiness?

Of course, there is! This a mystery after all and we all want to know that our characters are made of the right stuff.

Join us on this trip and find out for yourself what happens to our friends. But we warn you to be very, very careful in the city by the bay. In the meantime, check out the trailer:

The Hammett Hex, Victoria Abbott’s Book Collector Mystery #5

Amazon: click here
Chapters-Indigo: click here
Barnes & Noble: click here
Book Depository: click here
Kindle US: ckick here
Kindle Worldwide: click here
Kobo: click here
iBooks: click here
Nook: click here

Thank you both for this great author post.  I need to catch up with Jordan.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop 2016

If you are joining us as part of the Spooktacular Giveaway Blog hop, look around and stay for awhile.  We celebrate everything mystery and suspense here - no doubt you can find something of interest!


We are celebrating Halloween here at Mysteries and My Musings with a giveaway for the sixth year!  One combination prize to a winner, 6 winners!

1)  Gone With the Witch (Wish Craft Mystery #6) by Heather Blake and A Grave Prediction (Psychic Eye Mystery #14) by Victoria Laurie

2)  The Witch and the Dead (Wish Craft Mystery #7) by Heather Blake and Twice Told Tail (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery #6) by Ali Brandon

3)  The Ghost and Mrs Fletcher (Murder She Wrote Mysteries #44) by Donald Bain and The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala (A Book Club Mystery #3) by Laura DiSilverio

4)   Inspector of the Dead (Thomas and Emily De Quincey Investigation #2) by David Morrell and A Dark and Stormy Murder (A Writer's Apprentice Mystery #1) by Julia Buckley

5)   Spells and Scones (A Magical Bakery Mystery #6) by Bailey Cates and A Toxic Trousseau (Witchcraft Mystery (Book 8) by Juliet Blackwell

6)  Behind Chocolate Bars (A Chocolate Covered Mystery #3) by Kathy Aarons and Paws and Effect (Magical Cats #8) by Sofie Kelly

Entry for giveaway lasts until October 31 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S.  entries only please.

I will be shipping the books to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be a member (follower) of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on  Oct 31, 2015.    I shall notify each winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.  If I don't hear from you in 3 days, I will select another winner and notify them.

IF you are a member (or email subscriber) of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME a member (or email subscriber) of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

Other participating blogs:

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Book Review - Whispers Beyond the Veil

I jumped at the chance to read and review this book based on the blurb and the main character's description.  This is a brand new historical cozy series, so join me in the turn of the century when there was a surge of interest in psychic phenomenon and medium-ship and multitudes of fakes taking advantage people.  

Author:  Jessica Estevao

Copyright: September 2016 (Berkley) 352 pgs

Series: 1st in A Change of Fortune Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre:  Cozy Historical Mystery

Main Characters: Ruby Proulx, a psychic with a "questionable" past

Setting: 1898, Old Orchard-Maine

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

"Canada, 1898. The only life Ruby Proulx has ever known is that of a nomad, traveling across the country with her snake-oil salesman father. She dreams of taking root somewhere, someday, but, until she can, she makes her way by reading tarot cards. Yet she never imagined her own life would take such a turn…

After one of her father’s medical “miracles” goes deadly wrong, Ruby evades authorities by hiding in the seaside resort town of Old Orchard, Maine, where her estranged aunt, Honoria, owns the Hotel Belden, a unique residence that caters to Spiritualists—a place where Ruby should be safe as long as she can keep her dark secret hidden.

But Ruby’s plan begins to crumble after a psychic investigator checks into the hotel and senses Ruby is hiding more than she’s letting on. Now Ruby must do what she can to escape both his attention and Aunt Honoria’s insistence that she has a true gift, before she loses her precious new home and family forever."

Ruby may seem worldly wise for her youth, but she has the proverbial good heart in spite of her con-artist rearing. This makes her endearing as she struggles to be honest.  Aunt Honoria is a dear, the relative that gives unconditional love.  Officer Warren Yancy provides the potential love interest, and even though it is the standard policeman - his struggle with Ruby on many levels makes it interesting.  Lucinda (Lucy) is Officer Yancy's sister who has become Ruby's fast friend and is a great side kick.  The Velmont Sisters, Elva and Dovie, become Ruby's most ardent supporters as she develops her psychic abilities.  They are the breakout stars.

The seaside town of Old Orchard is a great setting that is woven throughout the story to become a vivid element in the tapestry.  Loved the town and the Hotel Belden.  

The plot and subplots are equal parts mystery and character driven for a great story.  The murderer was well hidden in plain sight, clever.  Pacing was perfect and kept me reading into the night to find out the next bit facing Ruby.  

The climax was fun with some dramatic elements. I enjoyed the killer confrontation and hope this is a signature of the series.  The wrap up was equally well done, and I am anxious for the next installment. 

This is an exciting debut novel, Ms. Estevao provides complex characters in a fascinating time period with interesting plots in an idyllic setting.  Couldn't ask for better.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Guest Author Post - Diane Vallere

Diane Vallere, the author of Material Witness series, Mad for Mod, Style and Error series, and the newest Costume Shop Mystery series (debut novel review click here) joins us today.  At age ten, Diane launched her own detective agency and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since.  Please welcome this multi-published author to M&MM.

Shaking Up Your Routine  

A funny thing happened while I was writing MASKING FOR TROUBLE. I got called for Jury Duty. I had hit that murky middle part of the manuscript and was actually happy for the distraction. I hoped that shaking up my regular routine would result would help me, but I also knew I had an excuse for not working. Truthfully, it could have gone either way.

I got up early and walked to the Metro stop, and then rode it to the courthouse. I ate a Pop-Tart for lunch and spent the rest of my time writing in the courtyard. I sat through jury selection only to be told that we would continue the process the next day.

I was fascinated by the process. A rumpled lawyer who appeared leaned back so far in his chair I thought it would break. A second lawyer who looked perfectly put together from his bowtie to his tailored suit. A third lawyer (it was a confusing case) who jumped in every once in a while, just to remind us that his client wasn’t happy with either of the brothers who were suing each other. The longer I sat in the back of the courthouse studying the people involved, the more I realized it was exactly what I needed to shake myself out of the murky middle. I took notes on how people were dressed (“Lawyer costumes”), how they acted, what they said. I watched a quiet woman in head- to-toe pink politely answer a lawyer who questioned her when she said she owned property. (“Do you mean your husband owns property?” “No, it’s mine. I formed a limited liability corporation and manage four properties in Los Angeles.”) (That’ll teach the lawyer to make judgement of women dressed in head-to-toe pink!)

By the time jury selection was complete, I was one of two people who hadn’t been selected. The group was dismissed for lunch. I could have caught the Metro home and gone about the rest of my week. But something about the process appealed to my sense of adventure. I wanted to see how this case unfolded. (Plus, I kind of liked getting out of the house.) I showed up at the courthouse every day for the next week and sat in the back. I took notes and revisited my synopsis. And during lunch breaks, I navigated the murky middle of my manuscript and came out the other side.

The case went on for almost two weeks. Revisions and other responsibilities kept me from attending during the second week but I made arrangements with one of the jurors to tell me the outcome. I finished MASKING FOR TROUBLE in the month that followed and there’s no doubt that, while there’s no court case scene in my book, the experience impacted the story.

Lessons learned: get out of the house. Experience new things. Watch. Learn. Take Notes. And never underestimate a woman dressed in head-to-toe pink.

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THANK You Ms. Vallere for another example of how authors are a breed apart and take inspiration from everyday life.  

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Guest Author Post - Joyce Tremel

Please welcome Joyce Tremel to the blog today. Joyce was a police secretary for over ten years. Her fiction has appeared in Mysterical-e, and her nonfiction has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police magazine. To Brew or Not to Brew is her first novel (click here). She lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband and a spoiled cat.


5. It’s not as easy as it looks. Believe it or not, there are readers out there who think that cozy mysteries are inferior to other mysteries. Obviously, they’ve never tried to write one. I’ve found it takes quite a bit of skill to kill someone and not gross out the reader. The cozy writer has to get the horror of the murder across without showing much in the way of blood, guts, and the like. You have to describe what happened without actually describing what happened. This also applies to any sexy scenes. I’m perfectly content with not having to write those kinds of scenes. Banter, innuendo, and an occasional kiss that leaves the character’s knees weak is enough for me. I like to leave the rest up to imagination.

4. It’s sometimes hard to find adequate substitutes for swear words. I worked as a police secretary for ten years. Believe me, cops swear. I learned a whole new vocabulary when I worked for the police department. When you have officers talking in a cozy, you can’t very well have them use what must be their favorite word in the whole world because they say it three times in every sentence. And you can’t have them say gosh, darn, or golly either. Andy Griffith could get away with it, but that’s about it. My protagonist’s dad is a homicide detective and in one scene I have Max say something like, “My dad rarely swore but I could tell he held back a string of words that would have turned the air blue.” I do throw in an occasional damn and have used the letters S.O.B. Sometimes I’ll interrupt the dialogue just before the swear word would be uttered. So far, it works. I think.

3. There’s a fine line between educating the reader on the character’s craft or occupation and boring them to death. No one wants to read page after page of how your character does something. My protagonist Max is a craft brewer and there’s a lot of chemistry involved in brewing beer. If I started rambling on about how to calculate the specific gravity of a certain brew in order to calculate the alcohol by volume, I don’ t think readers would be too happy. In the best case scenario, they’d skip those pages; in the worst case, they’d throw the book against the wall. It’s a mystery novel, not a textbook. Information like that must be sprinkled in lightly.

2. Recipes are hard to come up with. I’m usually thinking more about the plot and what the characters are doing than about what they’re eating or cooking. I’ve had to train myself to actually stop and describe certain foods and then search for a recipe to include. That’s probably why the first book, To Brew or Not to Brew only had two recipes. I did a little better with books two and three. Tangled Up in Brew has four, and next year’s A Room With a Brew will have five.

1. Write everything down. When I was about halfway through writing the first book, I realized I was NOT going to remember which character had blue eyes, who had brown eyes, how tall a certain someone was, etc. I started what we call a Character Bible. I jotted down each character, what they looked like, and anything else I thought might be important. I did the same with each shop and location in the series. I even drew a little map so I’d remember which store/shop/restaurant was where. And thank goodness I did. I refer to it constantly. Between that and the style sheet (which has even more detailed info on it) from my copy editor, I’ve saved hours that would have been spent searching through previous manuscripts for one tiny tidbit of information. All because I couldn’t remember something I thought I would.

These are the top five things I’ve learned writing a cozy series. Readers, what have you learned reading one?

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THANK You Ms Tremel for this delightful post - I can relate to the swearing conundrum.  Tough question, but I would have to say I have learned I love reading mysteries because of the brush with danger while knowing I am completely safe from it.  Anybody else want to share?

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