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Monday, August 21, 2017

Author Guest Post - Laurie Cass


Please welcome Laurie Cass, author of the hit Bookmobile Cat Mysteries series to the blog today. I love the cat theme!

How People I Know Get Into My Books

The short answer? They don’t. 

The longer answer? They don’t. Well, not really. 

The complete answer is a bit complicated, but here goes. Back in the day, lo these many years ago, before I was published, before I’d submitted a single query letter to an agent, before I’d started writing any book at all, I realized that I had no clue how to write.

I desperately wanted to be a writer, and made a solemn vow to become a published author, but I had absolutely no idea how to, you know, actually do it.

So I did what a lot of people do:  I started reading. Not the mystery that I longed to write—though I did that, too—but books about writing. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Robert Ray’s The Weekend Novelist, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and numerous others that I could name if I got out of this comfortable chair and walked all the way over to the bookcase. I read all that advice—inhaled it—and when I sat down to put pencil to paper, I still had no clue what I was doing.

Thus started my pre-published era of writing. This was when I wrote the 6.3 books that are now languishing in the deep dark corners of my computer. This was when I joined the Guppies, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime. This was when I joined a local writers group. This was when I started hearing people say things like, “That guy who fired me, yeah, I put him in my first book as the murder victim. It was cathartic,” and “In one of my books I made the mean girl in high school into a waitress in a run-down diner. It felt great.”

I thought about all that, but when I finally got brave enough to start writing my own stuff, I never got around to thinking about inserting people I know into my books. My characters tend to develop first as a skeletal role—best friend, neighbor, aunt, coworker, whatever—and then I figure out what personality would best fit the story. Shoving someone I know into one of those roles isn’t likely to fit. If I dropped a friend into a book, she would walk and talk like my friend, and that could drive the entire thing in a direction I didn’t intend.

That said, there have been times when I’ve used bits of people, but not so much personalities as physical attributes. It works like this. I’ll be writing a scene and a new characters walks in. “Huh,” I’ll think, pausing in my typing and staring off into space. “What does he look like? Hmm…” (I need to have some idea, even if it doesn’t get on the page.) “Let’s see…how about that summer intern I worked with 15 years ago? Don’t remember his name, but I remember what he looked like. Sort of. That’ll work.” And I’m on my way.

So that teeshirt you might have seen; “Be nice to me or I’ll put you in my novel”? With me, you don’t have to worry about that happening. 

Not really, anyway.

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Except for a year in Connecticut, Ms. Cass has always lived in Michigan. Thanks to her maternal grandparents,she and her husband, Eddie, and Sinii, their six-pound killer cat, live on a lake in northern lower Michigan. They spend summers entertaining weekend guests and winters guessing which day the lake is going to freeze over.

When she isn't writing, she is working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of the garden, or doing some variety of skiing. She also plays the piano and violin and dabbles in photography, but most of the time, almost all of the time, what she really wants to do is write.

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THANK You Ms. Cass for that insight into your characters. 



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Monday, August 14, 2017

Author Guest Post - Julianne Holmes

Please welcome to M&MM the author of the Clock Shop Mysteries, Julianne Holmes.  She will have a new series, Theater Cop, start the end of this year.  I reviewed her most recent book, Chime and Punishment (click here.)  


FOR THE LOVE OF CLOCKS

Whenever I explain the premise of my clock shop series—that Ruth Clagan is part of a clock making family who owns a shop in the Berkshires—most people smile, and then they tell me about a clock in their family. Everyone has a clock in their family, I’ve discovered.

For me, it is a mantle clock. I inherited it from my grandmother—a Telechron electric clock that looks a bit like a Seth Thomas. It likely dates from the 50’s, isn’t worth a fortune, but means the world to me. Of course, given the work I’ve done on these books, I am looking for a traditional clock that I must wind.

For some people, longcase clocks are passed down from generation to generation. Keeping them running can be a challenge, especially if they haven’t been moved carefully or maintained over time.  Clockmakers will come in and do a house call to determine what the best course of treatment is for the clock. Now, folks trusted in the craft are few, and I’ve heard stories of people inviting clockmakers to travel or traveling to them for a consult.

Over the course of writing these books, I have fallen a bit in love with Banjo clocks (click here). Simon Willard invented these here in Massachusetts, and patented them in 1802. They continue to be made today. The clock is shaped like a banjo, with a square case on the bottom that can be clear, or can be painted decoratively.

Then there are the Seth Thomas miniatures (click here). I spent a day in the American Clock and Watch museum (click here), and these beauties stopped me in my tracks. Made of different types of wood, different shapes. I can easily see becoming obsessed with them.

I’m sure that there are family banjo clocks, or mantel clocks, or miniatures, or carriage clocks, or others that have been passed on from generation to generation. Do they still work? Hopefully yes, though many could use a good cleaning. While doing my research, and talking to Dave Roberts of the Clockfolk of New England (click here), I’ve come to realize a few things about clock repair. First, that it is a craft that takes years to learn. Second, repair means different things to different people. For some folks, to hold value, that means painstaking authentic repair. For others, it means doing what it takes to get the clock working. The repair may cost more than the value of the clock, but that’s the third thing I’ve learned. Clocks own a place in people’s hearts, and that is priceless.

Do you have a family clock that has been passed down? Does a clock have a place in your memories? 

BIO
Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. As J.A. Hennrikus, her Theater Cop series will debut in the fall of 2017 with A Christmas Peril. She has short stories in three Level Best anthologies, Thin Ice, Dead Calm and Blood Moon. She is on the board of Sisters in Crime, and is a member of MWA and Sisters in Crime New England. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Killer Characters. 

JHAuthors.com | Twitter: @JHAuthors | Instagram: @jahenn

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Thank you Ms. Holmes.  I love the ornate craftsmanship of some french clocks, but sadly I don't have a clock that was handed down.  At one point growing up, we had a grandfather clock with the weights that actually worked and winding it.  It had beautiful chimes.  


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Saturday, August 12, 2017

BOOK GIVEAWAY




I am doing a giveaway of the newest in the Royal Spyness
Mystery series, "On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service".

Giveaway entry lasts until Friday August 18 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S. entries only please.

I will be shipping the book to the winner.

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 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.

Good Luck!


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Review - Chime and Punishment

I reviewed the debut novel in this new series, Just Killing Time (click here), 2nd book Clock and Dagger (click here) and had a guest post from the author (click here).  It has the running theme of a clock shop and all things fine clocks.  Check out this addition to the series.


Author: Julianne Holmes

Copyright: August 2017 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Clock Shop Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Ruth Clagan, expert clock maker and owner of Cog & Sprocket

Setting: Modern day, Orchard Massachusetts (Berkshires)

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the book cover: "Years ago, the serenity of picturesque Orchard, Massachusetts, was shattered by a fire that destroyed the town's beloved clock tower. Ruth inherited the dream of repairing it from her late grandfather. Now that she’s returned home to run his clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket, she’s determined to make it happen, despite wrenches that are being thrown into the works by her least favorite person, town manager Kim Gray.

A crowd of residents and visitors are excited to see the progress of the tower at a fund-raiser for the campaign, until Kim is found crushed under the tower’s bell, putting an end to all the fun. The list of suspects is so long it could be read around the clock, and it includes some of Ruth’s nearest and dearest.

Time's a-wastin’ as Ruth tries to solve another murder in her beloved Orchard while keeping the gears clicking on her dream project."

Ruth is back and gearing up for the clock tower to finish restorations and have a celebration opening.  She is an every-woman who notices details and connects dots.  
Ben Clover, the romantic interest, is distracted by his ex-wife's manipulations.  Jeff Paisley, the by-the-book Chief of Police is put in the difficult position of having to officially question his Nancy (his girlfriend's mother).  This is probably my favorite cop portrayal in any of the cozy's I have read. 
Becket, who has been a thorn in Ruth's back side since book one has a few surprises.  Caroline, the step-grandmother is present but not much page time.  Of course, Bezel, the shop cat deserves a mention since he gets a spotlight in the story.  

The setting is a standard small town with the standard enclave of shops but you get more of the history of the City Hall which added to the overall feel of the town.  Pacing keeps steady with the sub plots of dealing with ex-partners for both Ben and Ruth.  

The plot is solid cozy mystery with several suspects, all of whom you don't want to be the killer.  The killer reveal was tame, but works since all the suspects were "nice" people.

I enjoyed my return to Orchard.  It feels like visiting good friends and the story is entertaining.  Win-win.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list. 

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In case you missed it, Random House bought Penguin (who publishes a whole lot of cozy mysteries) and has decided they will stop publishing a significant number of the series in their lineup.  

Not only is this short-sighted, those authors can become independently published authors and take their readership with them!  But it is bad news for fans.  

Here is a list I understand is verified of what series are on the chopping block at this point:

Penguin Random House
Avery Aames - Cheese Shop mysteries

Ellery Adams - Book Retreat and Charmed Pie Shoppe.  May be moving to new publisher for Book Retreat.

Beverly Allen - Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries (not renewed) Now writing Vintage Toyshop Mysteries for Crooked Lane as Barbara Early.

Janet Bolin - Threadville Mysteries

Melissa Bourbon -Magical Dressmaking.  Is thinking of self publishing but not anytime soon.  Source: Author's FB page.

Jacklyn Brady - Piece of Cake mysteries

Lucy Burdette - Key West Food Critic series

Amanda Carmack - Kate Haywood Elizabethan mysteries

Maia Chance - Fairy Tale Fatal

Erika Chase - Ashton Corners 

Peg Cochran - Gourmet DeLite

Laura DiSilverio - Mall Cop

Monica Ferris - Betsy Devonshire Needlework series.  Is shopping for new publisher and has plans for future books.

Christy Fifield - Haunted Souvenir.    Owns rights, plans to self-publish. 

Shelley Freydont - Celebration Bay

Eva Gates - Lighthouse Library  (not renewed, possibly still hope). Is writing the Sherlock Holmes Bookstore and Emporium series for Crooked Lane under the name Vicki Delany. The year-Round-Christmas series by Vicki Delany is still continuing with Berkley. 

Kaye George/Janet Cantrell - Fat Cat mysteries (work for hire, cannot be continued by the author.)

Rosie Genova - Italian Kitchen mysteries

Victoria Hamilton - Vintage Kitchen mysteries (she is continuing the series with another publisher, ebook only.)

Mary Ellen Hughes - Pickled and Preserved mysteries. (She is starting a new series, the Keepsake and Collectibles mysteries, with Midnight Ink.)

Sue Ann Jaffarian - Ghost of Granny Apples. (plans to write more and self pub.)

Annie Knox -  Pet Boutique

Elizabeth Lee (Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli) Nut Shop Series

Meg London - Sweet Nothings Lingerie

Molly MacRae -- Haunted Yarn Shop  (plans to continue the series)

Leigh Perry - Family Skeleton.  Shopping for a new publisher. UPDATE - Sid Lives!!   Leigh has found a new publisher for the Family Skeleton series! 9/14/16

Cate Price - Deadly Notions

Paige Shelton -  Farmer's Market and Country Cooking School

Christine Wenger - Comfort Foods Mysteries (NAL, which was merged into Berkley); is considering self-publishing.

FIVE STAR (Gale Cengage)
Five Star has dropped their entire mystery lineup. 
Nancy Cohen - Bad Hair Day
Maggie Toussaint - Dreamwalker Mysteries 
Susan Van Kirk- Endurance Mysteries

Limitless Publishing
A E H Veenman -  Marjorie Gardens Mysteries (Limitless Publishing)
Kensington
Anna Loan-Wilsey - Hattie Davish

Macmillan / St. Martin's Press 

D.E. Ireland - Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins  (switching publishers)

If you would like to keep informed with news of this development, join the Facebook group "Save Our Cozies" (click here).  This group was formed to centralize efforts to persuade Penguin Random House to reconsider their decision to cull their cozy mystery offerings. It also offers a place for authors to update their fans on future plans.



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Monday, August 7, 2017

Author Guest Post - Rhys Bowen

I am excited and happy that Rhys Bowen is joining us today  She writes two mystery series that are each wonderful.  She writes the Molly Murphy and the Royal Spyness mysteries.  

 A little background about Ms. Bowen.  Rhys was born in Bath, England, of a Welsh/English family, and educated at London University. She worked for the BBC in London, as an announcer then drama studio manager. She sang in folk clubs and also started writing her own radio and TV plays.  She married and settled in the San Francisco area, where she has lived ever since, raising four children. (Although she now spends her winters in her condo in Arizona.)

She gave us an interview in 2010 (click here.)



How my own experiences shape my characters.

One of the good things about being a writer is that I can take episodes from my own life and foist them upon my characters. This works especially well for embarrassing events. Events that were mortifying to me: now I can laugh at them as I make poor Lady Georgie suffer with them.

In my teens and twenties I had a checkered career. I studied at a drama school. I worked in BBC drama (an amazing experience working with top actors of the day. How many twenty-two year olds get to tell Sir John Gilguid where he is supposed to stand on the set?) I also sang in folk clubs. This was the Sixties, the age of folk music. I was friends with Al Stewart (of Year of the Cat fame) and through him I became a regular at a couple of folk clubs in London. And through him I met Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. They were also just starting out in their careers and sang at the same clubs, and also stayed at the same house in London, inhabited by a motley crew of young creative types. I was actually sitting with Al in a cafĂ© late one night when Paul and Artie came to say goodbye. “We have to go back to America,” they said. “Our manager says our song Sounds of Silence is doing quite well.” A moment in history.

Of course I can’t use the Sixties for Lady Georgie, but I did use another of my brief and not too successful careers. Modeling. I thought if I became a model it would give me time to write. I  enrolled at a modeling school and then their, 
agency sent me out on a job. Modeling for a fashion house for their spring collection. I had to put on clothes quickly, come out and walk up and down. This went fine until I was given a strange garment. The skirt was long and very tight. I could hardly get it over my hips (and I was super skinny). It buttoned behind the neck. I started to walk out, taking tiny steps. That’s when I noticed something flapping beside me and realized it was culottes and I was in half of them! I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me but I had to walk all the way back again. 

So I made Lady Georgie suffer that same embarrassment, only she is modeling in front of Mrs. Simpson! How mortifying. Poor Georgie.

In subsequent books I have inflicted more embarrassing moments upon her. However I have never found myself in such a pickle as happens to her in On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service, when she is trapped in a room with… Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out more. Enjoy

Rhys

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THANK You Ms. Bowen.  Oh my gosh, Al Stewart and Simon and Garfunkel.  Very cool.  I remember Georgie's failed modeling attempt.  That was great to get a different insight into what Georgie suffers!


Here is a video of an interview last year.


https://youtu.be/zJ4aawh3Q8s



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