Wednesday, December 13, 2017

INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER HAVEN'S LEE ALVAREZ




ABOUT THE BOOK

Lee’s Uncle Tío is smitten with the guest chef at a Silicon Valley culinary arts institute. When the woman is arrested for the murder of a fellow chef, a reluctant Lee agrees to help prove Tío’s lady love innocent. But Lee suspects the ambitious, southern belle of a cook might just be guilty. Undercover work at the institute proves to have more pitfalls than whipping up a chocolate soufflé. The killer isn’t done and tries to get Lee out of the way permanently. But just who is the murderer? The accused? One of her two sons? Another inmate from a cooking school with more to hide than dirty dishes? With secrets as plentiful  as sauces, the nagging question remains, if Lee proves the lady chef guilty, will Tío ever forgive her for sending his new love to jail?





ABOUT LEE ALVAREZ

Lee Alvarez grew up wanting to be a ballerina. Unfortunately, fate had other plans. At 5’8” she was considered tall for the profession, but more than that, she was a mediocre dancer, at best. She knew if she pursued a career in ballet, she would be relegated to the back line of the chorus. What she was, however, was a crackerjack ferret. She can find anything or anybody just by putting together the facts, no matter how long ago they took place. As the family-run business is Discretionary Inquiries, Inc. an agency specializing in cybercrimes, it was a natural fit. And she loves her job. But solving cybercrimes isn’t all she does. Lee tends to fall over dead bodies when she’s not looking. She hates that.


INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER HAVEN'S LEE ALVAREZ


Lee, how did you first meet your Heather? 

I was minding my own business, thinking about something or other – probably a shoe sale – when I felt this ‘pull.’ I looked up from my mocha macchiato and this woman, we—know—who,  was staring at me over her latte. You never know who you’re going to see in Starbucks these days.

How true is that. Want to dish about her?
Nah, Heather’s okay. Besides, she’d probably pay me back by putting me on a sinking boat. Even though I can swim, I have this shark thing.

Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
Just my luck. Actually, I’m pretty lucky. Maybe I ended up in this book because the author wanted to show a family of immigrants who made good, who may not get each other all the time, but work their darndest at it, and love each other no matter what happens. She thinks we’re one of the American success stories. You can’t beat that type of good fortune.

Did you have a hard time convincing Heather to write any particular scenes for you?
I spend a lot of my time trying to convince her NOT to write particular scenes for me. I mean thank you very much, but she’s not the one who has to dance in a lizard lounge act in Vegas or shinny over a sailboat’s boom in the middle of the Pacific or as in this book, disguise herself as a dishwasher in a cooking school for eight-hours a day wearing a stupid wig and buckteeth.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
I like to play with my cats and my husband, Gurn. Not necessarily in that order.

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
Honestly? Not a thing. I suspect it has the right amount of humor, drama, plot, suspense, and action. Anyway, that’s what Heather told me.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
As most of the continuing characters are my family, thank gawd I like them. My brother, Richard, is the head of IT. He’s a brainiac, but in that techy, nerdy sort of way. And he’s a good guy. Besides, he married Vicki, who gives the Alvarez family a lot of heart. They recently had a baby, my niece, Stephanie. Then there’s Tío, my uncle, retired executive chef of San Jose’s famed Las Mañanitas Restaurant. Everyone should have a Tío in their lives. He gives unconditional love while serving up the best chimichangas ever. My mother, Lila Hamilton Alvarez, believes what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to accessorize. She’s also the CEO of the family business, Discretionary Inquires. Everyone else calls it D. I. Not Mom. She would rather eat broken glass than use initials or nicknames. And do not even think about wearing navy blue with black at any time. You will live to regret it. Behind her back, I call her She Who Must Be Obeyed. We may be poles apart on nearly everything in the world, but we are quite fond of one another. I guess it’s that mother/daughter thing.

Do you have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?
I would like to play the ukulele. But don’t let that get around the neighborhood.

Understandable. Tell us about your best friend.
My best friend is my husband, Gurn Hanson. Maybe that’s why I married him. Yes, he’s got green-grey eyes, a lop-sided smile that just sends shivers through me, but he’s also an ex-navy SEAL, one of the good guys. And he gets me. He brings out the best in me. I tell him everything. He says I bring out the best in him, too. Pretty win-win.

What are you most afraid of?
Sometimes I’m afraid it all might go away. I work really hard to see that it doesn’t, but there are no guarantees in life. Just do your best and hold on tight.



What’s the best trait of another character in the book?
Best: Lila Hamilton Alvarez, my mother, is probably the most perfect woman in the world. She is smart, beautiful, savvy, and never has a bad hair day.
Least: See above.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
I wouldn’t change a thing! Not that I have it all, I don’t. But I do have a great job, except when Heather has me chasing the bad guy over rooftops. I have a wonderful, loving family, and I’ve been married for four months to a guy who thinks I’m about as great as I know he is. I even lost two pounds. I mean it doesn’t get much better than that.

Will you encourage Heather to write a sequel?
Could I stop her? Heather’s got a few things going now,  Curtain Call For A Corpse (working title), Book Seven of the Alvarez Family Mystery Series. Then there’s the spin-off Lee Alvarez Novellas based on just Gurn and me. The one out now is called Honeymoons Can Be Murder. She’s working on Marriage Can Be Murder. Let’s face it, she keeps me hopping!





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Multi-award winning author, Heather Haven, writes humorous, noir, historical, and romantic mysteries, short stories, and plays. The San Francisco Book Review writes of her Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries set in today’s Silicon Valley, “I found the strongest part . . . is Lee Alvarez herself: strong, competent, and witty, in a growing tradition of tough female detectives . . . All in all, this is a strong work in the genre of the mystery/thriller.” Heather and her husband of thirty-five years are allowed to live in the foothills of San Jose with their two adorable but demanding cats.


Connect with Heather:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo 




Monday, December 11, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: ELLEN SELTZ



ABOUT THE BOOK:

The only way out is a long way down.

Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, is in a precarious position: his old flame Susan needs his help. Her new fiancé is accused of murder, and she wants Mottley to clear his name.
Mottley would rather jump off a cliff than get involved, but when Susan is threatened by a shadowy crime syndicate, Mottley leaps to her aid.

Mottley and Baker, his intrepid valet, pursue the case to an island of otherworldly beauty. But the island is haunted by secrets, treachery, madness, and . . . something more.

Every clue crumbles under their feet, pushing Mottley's powers of deduction – and Baker's loyalty – to the limit. With his own life on the line, can Mottley save Susan before time runs out?

The Mottley & Baker Mysteries are classic whodunnits set in the Golden Age of 1930's traditional detectives. If you like Miss Marple's pastoral puzzles or Albert Campion's rollicking adventures, you'll fall hard for this cozy historical mystery adventure.


Book Details:
Mister Mottley and the Dying Fall

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Incorrigible Publishing (October 27, 2017)
Print Length: 214 pages
ASIN: B076YJG7ZV








INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN SELTZ


Ellen, what's your favorite thing about the writing process?

Bellringers and Easter eggs.

As a story or character develops, sometimes you suddenly realize that a detail, action, or comment connects back to something earlier in the story – or in another book – and “rings the bell” on a theme or relationship that otherwise would not be apparent.

Easter eggs are small allusions and “in-jokes” for readers who love classic mysteries as much as I do. The art of a good Easter egg is to make it subtle enough that it won’t distract or confuse anyone who doesn’t get it, but will tickle anyone who does. You see these in TV or movies sometimes, where a character’s name or a prop in the background makes a pop-culture reference. Nobody refers to it directly, it’s just there. I often play games like this.

The moment when one of these comes together just fills me with glee, and I usually have to interrupt whatever my husband is doing and gloat about it.

He’s very patient with me.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
Getting it done, keeping at it. It’s so much fun playing around with ideas, and as long as they remain abstract anything could happen. There are infinite possibilities, and you can see them all at once in their splendor.

But rendering those ideas into actual prose that another human can read requires singularity. People read sequentially, so you have to make one real word, one real sentence, one plot, one point of view happen at a time. It’s existentially painful, so you avoid and resist and procrastinate.
The discipline of it is a constant challenge.

What is your writing style?
I love wordplay! Some of my favorite characters are Albert Campion, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Bertie Wooster – insouciant witty chatterboxes. That’s the style I indulge in with the Mister Mottley tales.
At the same time, I write in several different styles. I’ve done some contemporary pieces on the Web, and I ghostwrite nonfiction and marketing copy. For those, I have to boil things down and be concise, so I try to pack as much meaning into each word as possible.

Do you have any secret talents?
I discovered quite by accident that I’m frighteningly accurate with throwing knives. And you know, that story is better when I don’t explain it, so I won’t.



If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?

Hm. Does Netflix count? If not, then probably BBC America or PBS.



How often do you tweet?

I go through spurts. I’ll be on there quite a lot for a while, and then forget about it for weeks at a time. I mostly use Twitter to connect with other authors and artists, and to follow a few celebrities who are charming.

Stephen Fry is a delight to follow. Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling always say something worth hearing. And I’ve “met” David Suchet through an artist who blogs about the visual design and imagery of the Poirot television series. Mr. Suchet is a very gracious gentleman.

How do you feel about Facebook?

I’m a terrible Facebook addict and spend far too much time on it. I keep personal opinions on my personal timeline rather than my author page, and it’s a good thing. I occasionally get my dander up and get into a comment argument that it would probably be better not to.

What do you love about where you live?

Alabama is a beautiful state full of kind, generous, loving people. I grew up here and moved away for about 25 years, then returned with my own children. I like living near Birmingham because you get the best of all worlds. It’s become quite cosmopolitan since I left, but you also have gorgeous country in easy reach.

We live in a 1950’s style suburban neighborhood where my children can walk to school and bike to friends’ houses. We also have hummingbirds, owls, raccoons, crayfish and mink right in the back yard. And the ballet and symphony are just 20 minutes away. You can’t beat it.

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?

All of them! Mottley has my ADHD, though he’s a bit worse than I am. Baker is vain and self-seeking, and compelled to prove he’s the absolute best at whatever he’s doing. It usually lands him in a ridiculous position, which is true in my life always.

Other characters in the series are motivated by jealousy, resentment, avarice, ruthlessness, pride, lust, the need for approval, and others – all mine. I don’t think you can write believably about people unless you’re willing to look at your faults and understand them.



What is the most daring thing you've done?

Inwardly terrifying? To hit “send” on my first book, with my actual name on it. Horrors!

Outwardly adventuresome? Probably the summer I spent studying drama at the Royal Academy in London, and then solo-ing around England, Scotland, and France until my money ran out. It was a wonderful experience, and I’d love to do something like it again. But now I have a family, I’d want them with me. It wouldn’t be fun without them.



What’s one of your favorite quotes? 

PG Wodehouse: “There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.”



Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?

The Hoover Public Library is my local, and they are fantastic. The children’s programs are unbelievably creative and fun. For example, they turned the whole place into an interactive Hogwarts with games and skits for Harry Potter’s birthday. They closed early and the whole staff dressed up – it was unbelievable.

The reference librarians get really excited about helping you look up something obscure. I  never would have solved an important plot twist in Dying Fall without them.

There’s a section where you can check out tabletop games to play at home. And the whole staff has an enormous sense of fun. They put up a “departure lounge” sign once, showing scheduled flights to Middle Earth, Westeros, Tatooine, Pern – and all the flight numbers were Easter eggs from the stories. Marvelous.



What are you working on now?

I always have several projects going at once. The next Mottley stories are a Christmas collection and Book Three. The collection is called Happy Bloody Christmas, and it should be out by the time this tour is live. It features the two Christmas short stories I have out now, plus a new release titled “Mister Mottley Pulls a Cracker.” It’s a fun little set that fleshes out different parts of Mottley’s backstory, and each mystery revolves around a different Christmas tradition.

Book Three is also in the works, with the working title Mister Mottley and the Plushbottom Conundrum. It features a crime that’s upside-down and backwards. So right up Mottley’s street, you know?

Meeting other mystery lovers is the best, so I’m happy to answer reader questions anytime on my Facebook page or by email at Ellen@ellenseltz.com.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Amy! I come through Louisville a couple of times a year, so maybe we can grab a coffee and talk shop next time I’m up that way.

I'd love to!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ellen Seltz has worked in the entertainment industry for nearly twenty years, from Miami to New York and points in between. Her primary roles were actress and producer, but she also served as a comedy sketch writer, librettist, voice artist, propmaster, costumer, production assistant, camera operator and general dogsbody. She turned to fiction writing in the vain hope that the performers would do as they were told.

Ellen is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, where she lives with her two daughters and her husband. She enjoys vegetable gardening and vintage-style sewing.


Connect with Ellen:

Website  |  
Blog  |  
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  
Instagram  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Kobo


RAFFLECOPTER


Saturday, December 9, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: GAYLE LEESON




ABOUT THE BOOK

The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.

As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation . . .



Honey-Baked Homicide (A Down South Café Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Virginia
Berkley (December 5, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1101990827
E-Book ASIN: B06XJM6VGH






LOVE OR HATE INTERVIEW WITH GAYLE LEESON


A few of your favorite things:
Stationery, pens, Funko Pop characters, books, shoes, makeup, planners.
Things you need to throw out:
Old shoes, old makeup, old clothes
.

Things you need in order to write:
Silence.
Things that hamper your writing:
Noise, having someone else in the room
.

Things you love about writing:
Telling a story, having readers resonate, meeting new people, seeing my book in bookstores (even used bookstores—it means someone read it…even if they didn’t consider it a “keeper”).
Things you hate about writing:
Sucky, mean-spirited reviews.

Hardest thing about being a writer: 
Getting the story started, ending the story.

Easiest thing about being a writer:
Developing characters, listening to them talk with each other, watching them grow as the book or series progresses
.

Favorite foods:
Pasta, bread, chocolate
Things that make you want to throw up:
Shellfish, buttermilk, cottage cheese.



Last best thing you ate:
Pumpkin roll
.
Last thing you regret eating:
Durian fruit.

Things you’d walk a mile for:
My children.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:
My children.

Things to say to an author:
I love your books! I love reading (even if it’s not author’s books)!

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
I have this idea for a book. You write it, and we’ll share the profits.

Favorite places you’ve been:
Hawaii, Savannah, Tybee Island, Jekyll Island
.
Places you never want to go to again:
Jamaica.

People you’d like to invite to dinner:
Dean Koontz, Mary Higgins Clark, Jude Deveraux, Charlaine Harris.

People you’d cancel dinner on:
Robert Durst, any politician.

Favorite things to do:
Read, watch TV and movies, loom knit, needlework
.
Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing:
Housework.

Things that make you happy:
My children, my husband, my pets, appreciation from readers, babies (humans and animals)
.
Things that drive you crazy:
My children, my husband, my pets, grammatical errors, books/movies/shows that don’t end “right,” lack of manners.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. She also writes as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, she writes the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, she writes the Embroidery Mystery series.

Gayle lives in Virginia with her family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff (from the embroidery series). She’s having a blast writing this new series!




Connect with Gayle:
Webpage: Gayle Leeson  |   Webpage: Gayle Trent  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest Instagram

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Books-A-Million  |  Indiebound



RAFFLECOPTER


Thursday, December 7, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: CHRISTINA FREEBURN



ABOUT THE BOOK

Even knee-deep in planning her wedding, Faith Hunter finds herself distracted by the town scrapbook she was commissioned to create. Eden’s oldest mystery, the founding family’s exodus nearly a hundred years ago, remains unsolved. When a search through the family’s abandoned mansion leads to the uncovering of bones on the property and ex-boyfriend Steve Davis announces a surprise heir has staked a claim, Faith is determined to dig up the truth left behind.

Meanwhile, family friend Wyatt Buford asks Faith to look into his deadbeat father’s disappearing act and his connection to the murder. Her quest for answers unearths secrets past and present that some would prefer stay buried at any cost. Faith’s resolve to present the facts and nothing but about Eden’s history could lead to her own future being cut short.






LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTINA FREEBURN


A few of your favorite things:

Scrapbooking Supplies, pretty much anything Disney, Christmas movies.
Things you need to throw out:
Boxes, receipts, the keep-because-I-might-need-this-obscure-object-one-day stuff
.

Things you need in order to write:
Computer, pen, Internet, excitement, what-if part of my brain working.
Things that hamper your writing:
Internet, self-doubt, daily distractions
.

Things you love about writing:
Writing, readers, righting wrongs through fiction, meeting people.
Things you hate about writing:
Times I struggle for the words, marketing (doesn’t come natural to me).

Hardest thing about being a writer:
Self-doubt.

Easiest thing about being a writer:
Ideas (I have a document with ideas of books I’d like to write).



Things you never want to run out of:
Clean clothes, gas, scrapbooking tape, patience.
Things you wish you’d never bought:
Furbies for my children, a Ford Tempo, caramel M&Ms (because those things are addicting)
.

Favorite beverage:
Diet Coke
.
Something that gives you a pickle face:
Beer.

Something you wish you could do:
Swim.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do:
Worry.

Things you’d walk a mile for:
My family.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:
Snakes, ventriloquist dummies.

Things to say to an author:
You enjoyed their book or are interested in reading their book
.
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
Would I have read your work? (How would I know that? If I answer yes, I sound pretentious, if I say no than it comes across like I don’t have confidence that my books aret worth reading.)

Favorite places you’ve been:

Paris, Disney World, Provincetown
.
Places you never want to go to again:
Black Canyon National Park (I’m terrified of heights, drive not fun nor looking down into the gorge).

Favorite books:
Mystery and romance.

Books you would ban:
Autobiographies of criminals.

Things that make you happy:
My family, Disney, Christmastime
.
Things that drive you crazy:
Double standards, hypocrisy.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Christina Freeburn started jotting down stories on her bus commute to high school and never stopped. The Scrap This Mystery series is a mix of crafty and crime, bringing together her love of mysteries and scrapbooking. Her New Beginnings series is an inspirational romantic suspense featuring heroines and heroes willing to risk their lives to find hope, promise and a future for those struggling in a world that’s set against them. Christina served in the JAG Corps of the US Army and has worked as a paralegal, librarian, and church secretary. Currently, she is plotting two new series and waiting to see which one wins over her muse.



Connect with Christina:

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the books:
Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble   |   iBooks   |   Kobo  



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: NUPUR TUSTIN




ABOUT THE BOOK


When Haydn receives a request from his friend Kaspar to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the long-lost operas of Monteverdi, he’s intrigued. Until he receives a similar request from the Empress Maria Theresa.

Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help. But before he can evaluate the music, Kaspar is murdered—brutally beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern.
The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Kaspar’s keys were stolen and his house broken into. Could his bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?






INTERVIEW WITH NUPUR TUSTIN


Nupur, how did you get started writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and started at a young age, but I wouldn’t have considered writing novels if I hadn’t undertaken the enormous project of a Ph.D. dissertation. I figured if I could do that, I could also write a novel.

The inciting incident, if you will, was Susan Wittig Albert’s note in one of her Beatrix Potter Mysteries.  Reading about the research she’d undertaken for the Beatrix Potter novels made me feel this was something I could do. I’d just come out of a Ph.D. program, and having worked as a journalist prior to that, I was quite comfortable with the idea of research.

Reviewing the research literature in your topic is essential preparation to beginning a project.  And in some ways, writing a historical mystery is no different. Researching the time period and my characters is essential preparation for writing the novel.

Do you have a writing routine?
No. I have three young kids—the oldest is five and the youngest two. So, I have a motto instead: “Do what you can when you can.”

Love it. Do you write every day?
No. But that’s not to say that I don’t work on a project every day. Before I began writing Aria to Death, I had to research Monteverdi’s life, get to know him as a composer, learn about his theatrical works and the works that were lost. I also had to learn about the process of music authentication.
I may write a blog post—and that involves reviewing the research as well.  Or I may send out a newsletter.

There are times—as now—when I’m planning a project, outlining story ideas for instance.
All of these different tasks are an essential part of being a writer.

What do you think is the hardest aspect of writing a book?
Making decisions about where the story will go or how it should be told. I can think of a dozen different paths a story can follow. But which one is the best? I can think of several different ways a story can be told. I often write several different versions of a scene. For one scene in Aria, I wrote six different versions and was practically in tears because I couldn’t figure out which one to go with. I was sleep-deprived and frazzled—I’d just had my third child. Eventually, my husband helped me cobble together a final version from the six different ones I’d written. He waited until I’d written it out and read it over to make sure I’d covered everything I needed to.

What’s more important – characters or plot?
I know I can’t say both, but unfortunately, this isn’t a straightforward either-or question. Mysteries and thrillers frequently turn upon plot. Our characters don’t ask to find bodies in their libraries or to be wrongfully accused of murder. And obviously the plot twists and turns are what keep the reader turning the pages. Having said that,  the way a plot event plays out is entirely dependent upon the characters’ response.

Without believable characters, the best of plots will fall flat. It’s our characters’ quirks and the strange ways they respond to events that keep the plot moving.

How often do you read?
All the time. As a writer of historical mysteries set in eighteenth-century Austria, I find myself reading more nonfiction than fiction these days. There are innumerable details that I need to ensure my novels come alive. Immersing myself in Haydn’s time provides me with those details as well as with plot ideas. I also read books about forensics and the criminal mind. Understanding criminal behavior is key to writing a compelling mystery, and I think that this is work every mystery writer needs to put in.

What is your writing style?
I like to think of myself as a versatile writer. My Haydn Mysteries are written in eighteenth-century voice. But I’ve also written stories set in contemporary California, and I pride myself on being able to use a contemporary, even a blue-collar, idiom.


What do you think makes a good story?
You definitely need an intriguing situation: the kind that makes you wonder how one would respond under those circumstances. But you also need a character worthy of taking up the challenge inherent in the situation—a character who will make the most challenging or the most interesting choice.

What books do you currently have published?
In terms of novels, there are two books so far in the Haydn Series. A Minor Deception is the first in the series and Aria to Death is the second. There’s a Haydn short story. “The Baker’s Boy,” in Kaye George’s eclipse-centered anthology, Day of the Dark.  A second Haydn story, “Whiff of Murder” is available to my subscribers when they sign up. And there are a couple of short stories published on Amazon. One of them, “Mrs. Sutton’s Project,” was initially published in Mystery Weekly Magazine.


Do you have any secret talents?

I’m not sure they’re so very secret. I compose music, and I enjoy drawing. I’m fairly good at both. I’m also a pretty good cook.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I don’t spend a lot of time on it, but I enjoy it when I do. It’s like walking into a room full of writers. There are all sorts of conversations about the kinds of things that only writers will talk about: procrastination, characters who refuse to get killed, plot problems as well as the wonderful reader reviews we get or our beautiful covers.

What five things would you never want to live without?

My laptop and my iPad. I use both to write. I also use my laptop to teach my kids phonics and reading. “Word work,” we call it. I don’t think I could write an entire novel by hand. I love my Weber upright. It has a beautiful sound and I enjoy playing it. Then there’s my owl mug. It was a gift from my husband and it makes me happy as does the raspberry black tea I drink in it. If I had to do without that tea, I’d be really unhappy! I also need my books. My research as well as several good mysteries. So, I suppose when it comes down to it, I need more than five things to lead a happy, fulfilled existence.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
My library card. I enjoy going on long walks, and there are two or three libraries close by. I love dropping in to see what I can find. And when I can sneak in without the kids, I can check out a book or two for  myself.

What do you love about where you live?
Without question, the weather. I also like the fact that there are libraries close by. And it’s nice to live in a multi-ethnic, vibrant city like Los Angeles.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

I think it’s a toss-up between Detective Murdoch—I feel quite sure it’s because of Maureen Jennings’ involvement that the television series is as incredible as it is—and Father Brown. I love Murdoch’s dedication to science and logic and his ingenuity, not just when it comes to solving mysteries, but in coming up with the most fascinating inventions. But Father Brown is just so endearing. Just the kind of person we all need in our lives. 


You have a personal chef for the night. What would you ask him to prepare?
Since my books are set in Austria, schnitzel, I suppose. I do have a recipe for it in one of Bon Appetits, but I haven’t had the courage to try it out yet.


What’s your favorite song?

I especially love “Don’t Let Go,” the duet Sarah McLachlan and Bryan Adams sing together. I remember listening to it in the hospital while I was waiting for my daughter to be born. “Don’t let go of the things you believe in.” I think that’s a beautiful line and one that every writer should take to heart. Don’t let go of your dreams and of the stories in your head.


What is your favorite movie?

Because it’s about a musician and because it offers a theory that’s psychologically very compelling, I’d have to say Immortal Beloved. It’s about the mysterious woman Beethoven referred to as his immortal beloved. He leaves few clues as to her identity, and the theory that the movie posits is one that has no basis in reality. But it’s so intriguing you can’t help digging deeper into the topic. And that’s exactly what a good historical mystery should do—get you so fascinated that you want to find out more. Anne Perry does that in her mystery about Jack the Ripper and Jeffrey Deaver achieves the same effect in his historical thriller, Garden of Beasts. 


What are you working on now?


I’m researching Prussian Counterpoint which is set in Potsdam, not far from Berlin. Haydn has to pit his wits against the wily Frederick of Prussia, but he also gets to meet a man he regarded as his mentor, C.P.E. Bach, the son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Haydn never did get to meet CPE in person. On his way back from London, he traveled through Hamburg only to learn that the older musician had passed away.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR  


A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.

Connect with Nupur:

Website  |  Blog  |  Free Haydn Mystery  |  
Facebook  |  
Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Nook  |   Kobo  |  Apple 



Sunday, December 3, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: R.L. BARTRAM



ABOUT THE BOOK

R. L. Bartram brings us a thrilling tale of espionage set in the American Civil War.


Barely fourteen, Ceci Prejean is a tomboy running wild in the hot Louisiana summer. After breaking the nose of a local boy, her father decides to enlist the aid of Hecubah, a beautiful Creole woman, with a secret past, who takes Ceci in hand and turns her into a lady.

Now, eighteen-year-old Ceci meets and falls passionately in love with a handsome young northerner, Trent Sinclaire. Trent is a cadet at the West Point military academy. He acts as if he knows Ceci. They begin a torrid affair, even as the southern states begin to secede from the Union.

Only weeks before their wedding, the Confederate army attacks Fort Sumter and the civil war begins. Trent is called to active service in the north, leaving Ceci heartbroken in the south.

Swearing vengeance on the union, after the untimely death of her family at the fall of New Orleans, Ceci meets with infamous spy master, Henry Doucet. He initiates her into the shadowy world of espionage.

After her failure to avert the catastrophe at Gettysburg, Ceci infiltrates the White House. There, she comes face to face with Abraham Lincoln, a man she’s sworn to kill. Forming a reckless alliance with the actor, John Wilkes Booth, she is drawn deeper into the plot to assassinate the President of the United States. A Confederate spy in love with a Union officer, her next decision will determine whether she lives or dies . . .







INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT BARTRAM



Robert, where’s home for you?
I live in a town called Hemel Hempstead, in the County of Hertfordshire, England.

Where did you grow up?  
I was born in Edmonton, London, but spent several of my formative years living in Cornwall, before finally moving to Hertfordshire. I’ve been here ever since.

What’s your favorite memory? 
There are many, but one of the most outstanding was having my first short story published. That’s something I’ll never forget.



What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned? 
It has to be patience and how to be patient. Never rush anything you don’t have to. Give it time and it’ll come.

What do you love about where you live? 
The area itself, only twenty-six miles from London and yet only a few minutes walking will take me into open countryside.



What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?  
The older you get the faster time goes by. ‘Time never runs so fast, as when it’s running out.’

Very true! What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
For one, I wouldn’t have started smoking. In my youth everyone smoked, now it’s not so clever. Also, there are a couple of poor decisions I made about my writing career, I’d just love to put those right. I think we’d all like a second chance at some things in our lives. I prefer not to dwell on it. I’ll play the hand I’ve been dealt.


What makes you nervous?  
Any situation that’s affecting my life which I can’t control. In short, red tape and technology.


What makes you happy?  
A beautiful sunset, followed by a warm night full of stars.

Absolutely! Who are you?  
That’s a good question. It’s one that my heroin, Ceci Prejean, is asked in my novel. To be honest, I sometimes wonder myself. I’m a man, obviously. Like most people, my moods and fancies change depending on the situation. To be honest, perhaps I’m not the best of men, but every day, I try to be.

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?  
No contest. A lonely genius. That way, at least I’ll have the brains to entertain myself.

What’s one of your favorite quotes? 
That’s easy: Oscar Wilde. “I spent all day correcting the proofs of one of my manuscripts. In the morning, I took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back again.” I can really relate to that.

Boy can I, too! If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
To be frank, I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere in the world but England. My roots are in the heart of this country.

What would you like people to say about you after you die? 
I’d be glad if they talked about me at all. It wouldn’t matter what they said, I’d be past caring.

What’s your favorite line from a book? 
“We could not remember, because we were too far. We could not understand, because we were traveling in the night of the first ages. The ages that are past and leave no sign and no evidence.” -Joseph Conrad. Fabulous stuff.

What would your main character say about you?  
Hopefully, thank you for bringing me to life, and thanks for getting me out of all the scrapes you got me into.

How did you create the plot for Whippoorwill
The American Civil War is a subject that’s been heavily written about. I needed a new slant. I considered women soldiers. Yes, believe it or not, there were nearly a thousand women from both sides that disguised themselves as men and fought alongside the regular troops. However, further research proved that this had already been done. Then I thought of women spies. I discovered that most stories tended to concentrate on working class women or ex-slaves engaged in espionage for the Union. That’s when I decided to make my heroine a wealthy and privileged southern belle working for the Confederacy. Making her fall in love with a Union officer was an added twist. Everything flowed from there.

It sounds fascinating. Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

All my characters are a pastiche of men and women I’ve met over the years. The many and various quirks and foibles I’ve observed have all gone into the makeup of my characters. Hopefully, they are more realistic for that.

Is your book based on real events?  
Yes, in part. I have one unbreakable rule; my writing must be historically accurate. A good deal of research goes into making it so. I feel this gives the story a sense of credibility.

Are you like any of your characters?
Certainly. Just Like Ceci, when frustrated by events I can make some very irrational remarks. British politics usually does it for me. Also, just like Hecubah, my sense of humor can be a bit on the dry side.

Who are your favorite authors?  

There are so many. There are a lot of good writers out there. To name a few. Ray Bradbury. A.S. Byatt. Ernest Hemmingway, and Herman Melville.


Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?  
I always write at my dining room table. It looks out onto a large secluded garden. My muse lives out there. I prefer to write at night. It’s more peaceful then and you can hear yourself think. I usually write from 11pm to 3 am. I always write everything in long hand first. That way I can write as fast as I think without having to concentrate on what buttons I’m pressing. Nothing ever goes into the computer until the novel's finished and corrected.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?

It has to be a private email I received from a reviewer who’d just finished my first novel Dance the Moon Down. She remarked ‘I don’t know what to say. I’m staggered. You’ve blown my mind.’  I can’t think of a bigger compliment than that.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing?
Again, this was from another reviewer about my first novel. She said she hadn’t finished it, because it didn’t engage her at all. Fair enough. We’re all different. Writing is a highly subjective medium. Everyone has a rite to their opinion.

I try to remember that "You can be the ripest, juiciest peach on the tree, but there will always be people who don't like peaches." Why did you decide to self-publish with Troubador?  

Simply because most agents are no longer taking on new authors. I recall one agent who sighed ‘Oh no, I’m too full’ and that was before he’d even heard what it was I had to offer. It might have been the next Harry Potter. Almost certainly, these days, if you want to get your book out there, you must do it yourself.

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish with Troubador?
Very much so. They are a highly professional, friendly, company, (beware, there’s a lot that aren’t). They have complete packages for authors. You can take as much or as little as you like. They take the manuscript through proof reading and type setting for both paperback and eBook formats. The finished product is as good as anything you’ll find in your local bookstore. It took about six months from start to finish, with a lot of interaction in between, but as far as I’m concerned, it was well worth it.

What steps to publication did you personally do, or did Troubador do it all?
Troubador covered it all. I personally, don’t have the computer skills to do very much. However, if you do, it will cut the costs down. The cover was my idea. I liaised with a graphic artist, and together we produced what I hope is an eye-catching piece of work.

It is! How did you find Troubador and how long did your query process take?  
I found Troubador on the internet. They’re also listed in the ‘Artists and Writers year book.’ My query was answered in a matter of days. A week later, we were working on the book. I can’t stress enough, at this point, I checked out several companies, looking for the best deal. It’s always wise to do so. One thing soon became very clear. There are a lot of rubbish companies out there. It’s certainly a case of ‘Buyer beware.’ So, do your homework before committing yourself.

What are you working on now?  
Nothing now. All my time’s taken up with promoting Whippoorwill. Nevertheless, new ideas are constantly seeping into my mind. Who knows what the future will bring?



EXCERPT FROM WHIPPOORWILL


Trent was lucky. The Confederate musket ball that was intended to kill him merely grazed his brow. He lurched violently back in his saddle. His horse reared wildly, throwing him, unconscious to the ground, directly into the path of his own cavalry advancing only yards behind him. At the far end of the field, Sergeant Nathanial Pike and his men, engaged in the hasty formation of a skirmish line, watched helplessly as the scene unfolded. As Trent hit the ground, a Confederate soldier appeared out of the shadows. Small and slight, little more than a boy, he lunged forwards, grabbed the officer by the lapels of his coat and dragged him out of the path of the galloping horses. Throwing himself across the man’s prone body, he shielded him from the pounding hooves. The cavalry thundered past oblivious, in the half-light, to the fate of their captain.

As the danger passed, the rebel rose to his knees and appeared to search the unconscious man. “God damn thieving rebs,” Pike snatched his pistol from its holster, his thumb wrenching back the hammer. Before he could take aim, the rebel stopped searching. He leaned forwards and, cradling the officer’s face in his hands, bent down and kissed him, full on the lips, long and hard. Pike’s pistol, arm and jaw dropped simultaneously. Something, some noise, some movement, made the rebel look up and glance furtively around. He jumped to his feet and, with a final backwards glance at the fallen man, melted into the shadows, like a wraith. It was some moments before Pike’s jaw snapped shut, his teeth meeting with an audible click. He rounded on his men. “Did you see what I just saw?” he demanded. His question was answered with shrugs and scowls. Not one man there could swear he hadn’t dreamed it. Then suddenly, they heard it, far off, plaintive and eerie, the cry of a whippoorwill.


Other books by Robert Bartram:



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With Historical Romance as his preferred genre, Robert has continued to write for several years. Many of his short stories have appeared in various national periodicals and magazines.

His debut novel Dance the Moon Down, a story of love against adversity during the First World War, gained him considerable critical praise, being voted book of the month by “Wall to Wall books.”

His second novel Whippoorwill tells of a passionate affair between a young southern woman and a northern man at the beginning of the American Civil War.

He is single and lives and works in Hertfordshire.

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Connect with Robert:

Website  |  Blog

Buy the book:

Amazon 

Friday, December 1, 2017

GUEST POST BY MIKE MARTIN







ABOUT THE BOOK

Life is good for Sgt. Windflower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.




Book Details:
A Tangled Web

Cozy Mystery

6th in Series

Booklocker.com, Inc. (October 1, 2017)

Paperback: 338 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1634926508

E-Book ASIN: B0768R7VTR





GUEST POST BY MIKE MARTIN


Mike, what do you wish you could tell your younger self?


Wow. What a great question Amy has posed for me today. The first thing I thought was that the older you get, the more advice you have to offer. That would make me an expert. The second thing I thought was to simply say that almost everything my mother gave me for advice turned out to be accurate. So, listen to your mother, no matter how old you are.

But I think what Amy really meant was what advice would I, as a writer, give to my younger self. That’s still a great question. Having written six books in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series I have a lot of advice to give, at least to myself. Some of that advice would be to do some things completely different, but other things I would not just not change, I might do more of.

To start with I wish I’d stayed in school and finished my university degree. But I was too impatient and wanted to see the world for myself, not have someone else tell me about it. So, I did. I found great jobs and careers and went everywhere from Australia to Africa to the Arctic Circle. But I could have gained even more from that experience if I had hung around school a few more years. Plus, I wouldn’t have to be researching all this history of Newfoundland that I do for my books. Because I would already know it.

What I would do over again is to read a lot as a young person. I had three older sisters, two of them teachers, and they would drag me along with them to the library. There I discovered the magic and mystery of books and the fact that I could escape into other worlds any time I wanted. Stephen King once said that the best way to be a good writer is to be a great reader. I agree.

But I think that looking back I wish that I had been brave enough to become a full-time writer as soon as possible. That is the way to really grow as a writer. I have been writing, part-time and as part of many of the jobs in my career, but I only allowed myself the privilege of becoming a mostly full-time writer in the last dozen years or so. Part of it was the fact that I had become kind of used to eating and living reasonably well, and could not see how to continue that if I gave up my other work. But when I finally bit the bullet and declared myself a writer, things started to get better, and more paid writing assignments started to show up.

That was a few years ago now since I made that decision, and I’m very happy I did. I don’t make nearly enough from fiction writing to pay the bills. But my freelance writing and other paid projects keep me going. More importantly, I am happier than I ever have been in my life. When I think back on it, that was all my mother was trying to help me achieve.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a longtime freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune, and A Long Ways from Home.
A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.

Connect with Mike:
Website  |  Facebook  |   Twitter

Buy the book:
Amazon


Mike has generously offered to give one ebook copy of A Tangled Web to one lucky reader. A winner will be chosen randomly from comments left below through December 7.