Tag Archives: cozy mystery

Romantic Suspense: Sugar and Spice and Things Not So Nice

by Kassandra Lamb and Kirsten Weiss

Both of us have ventured a bit into the realm of romantic suspense lately. Since we already had romances as subplots in many of our mysteries, we thought it shouldn’t be that hard to make the romance a bit more central and call it romantic suspense.

It’s turned out to be a little more complicated than that. So we thought we’d explore for you, our readers, and also for ourselves, our motives and challenges as we’ve ventured into this cross-over genre.

spirit on fire book cover

The first of the Witches of Doyle In-Betweens, romantic suspense novellas “written” by Karin Bonheim, Kirsten’s fictional character.

So first up, Kirsten answering the question:

What motivated you to try your hand at romantic suspense?

Kirsten:  Crass commercialism! But seriously, I’m in the Romance Writers of America and have been slowly improving my romance writing chops. So I thought I’d try my hand at some novellas, ostensibly written by Karin Bonheim, a character in my Witches of Doyle cozy mysteries.

Then of course, I had to go and complicate everything by adding in a second story about Karin, woven between the chapters…

Kass: I also have to admit to a monetary motive. Mystery is the second largest genre, but romance is number one, with many avid readers who devour several books a week. What I didn’t realize is that the readership of romantic suspense is a somewhat different group.

Payback book cover

First story in Kass’s Unintended Consequences Romantic Suspense series.

But now I’m hooked, with multiple story ideas buzzing around in my head, so Jessica Dale (my romance-writing alter ego) will be continuing to produce romantic suspense stories for the foreseeable future.

What surprised you the most about this cross-over genre?

Kirsten: A lot of people sneer at romance, but writing good romance ain’t easy. I have huge respect for the romance writers I know. They tend to start their books from the perspective of emotion and character. As a mystery writer, who looks first at character and plot and then figures out the emotion later, this “emotion-based” approach has been a useful way of developing my plot outline.

Kass: I’ve never particularly cared for straight romance stories, because they all seem to follow the same formula. Girl meets boy, they are attracted to each other but there is tension between them—often due to some misunderstanding that seems a little artificial to me—the tension eventually reaches a climax (no pun intended), and boy and girl finally get together.

What I found pleasantly surprising when writing romantic suspense is that the conflict in the story doesn’t have to be BETWEEN the hero and heroine. The conflict can come from the mystery component. Something bad has happened and/or is going to happen, and the hero and heroine must work together to come through the other end intact.

Backlash cover

Book 2 in the Unintended Consequences series.

Certainly the early stages of the relationship won’t be all sweetness and light, but the tension doesn’t have to be sustained or exaggerated in an unnatural way. The mystery component of the story provides plenty of tension and obstacles for them to overcome, and also opportunities to cement their love.

What have you found most challenging writing romantic suspense?

Kirsten: There’s a lot more romance to deal with! In my mysteries, the romances tend to be a slow burn. Especially in novella format, you have to get to it much more quickly, and still make it seem realistic. I hope I succeeded.

Kass: Having read some of “Karin’s” stories, I’d say you have, Kirsten!

My biggest challenge is similar. Pacing is always tough for me, especially at the beginning of a story when I’m setting things up. But in mysteries with a romantic subplot, one just has to set up the mystery initially. You can bring in the attraction between the hero and heroine later.

But in romantic suspense, you’ve got to get the hero and heroine feeling things toward and about each other more quickly. The sparks have to fly pretty early on. And yet not slow down the story and kill the suspense about the mystery component.

How do you maintain the balance between the romance and the mysterious elements? Do your stories lean more toward one or the other?

shaman's bane cover

The 2nd Witches of Doyle In-Between

Kirsten: In the Witches of Doyle In-Betweens, the paranormal romances that “Karin” writes, romance and mystery are woven together, so I think those elements get fairly equal play. The hero and heroine generally start out with mutual suspicion battling mutual attraction, and then moving toward cooperation and mutual respect as they work together to stop the bad guy.

Because they’re working together to solve the crime, and when they’re apart, they’re thinking of each other (and the crime), there’s always some romantic tension on the page. Or at least, that’s what I try to create. But for me, mystery still comes first!

Kass: I’d say in terms of space on the page, the two components get equal time. The romance maybe a little more initially as the suspenseful events build up to a realization that something really bad is going on. Then as things start to break loose in the mystery component, it gets more page time, and the couple is mostly hanging on for dear life. But also the negative events are exposing flaws in each other and challenges between them.

The tricky part is trying to portray those quick flashes of insight and the fears that go along with them, without distracting from the build-up of the suspense toward the grand reveal.

Like Kirsten, I hope I’ve met that challenge well. And yes, if I have to choose, the mystery takes precedence.

How do you feel about romantic suspense? Who’s your favorite author in that genre?

And here’s Karin Bonheim’s *cough Kirsten’s * newest release:

lone wolf book cover

LONE WOLF, A Doyle Witch Supplement

A San Francisco homicide detective with a secret.

Christy Pavenic is a werewolf with the strength and speed to make it in her macho police precinct. But when her power takes a turn to the dark side, she fears she might be the killer responsible for a series of savage homicides she’s been called to investigate.

FBI agent Jason Shepherd is hard on the trail of a serial killer whose kills mimic animal attacks. A specialist in the paranormal, Jason hides a secret of his own—he can see the true nature of werewolves in their human form, and he’s certain one is at the bottom of the killings.

Battling both suspicion and attraction, the two must work together to solve the crime. Desire wars with distrust as they race to stop the killer before he strikes again.

A mystery within a mystery, Lone Wolf is novella three in the Doyle Witch supplements, and the sequel to Shaman’s Bane by fictional witch, Karin Bonheim.

And Karin has gone missing…

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Kirsten Weiss worked for fourteen years in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives. She is the author of the Riga Hayworth Metaphysical Detective urban fantasy/mystery series, the Sensibility Grey steampunk mysteries, the Rocky Bridges mysteries and the Witches of Doyle cozy mystery series.

Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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How Do You Feel About Controversy? (And a New Release)

by Kassandra Lamb

Nyalas literally locking hornsSome people don’t mind controversy; a few even thrive on it.

And with social media, these two groups seem to have found their voices more and more lately.

A friend of mine loves political debates online. She finds them stimulating.

But I’m in the group that pretty much hates controversy. I sit on my hands at least once a day, resisting the temptation to get into it with someone on Facebook or Twitter. It just isn’t worth the stress.

Zero Hero book coverIn my Kate Huntington mysteries, I have often touched on somewhat controversial social issues. I’ve been fortunate that they have been well received.

I really enjoyed writing those books, but more recently I’ve been having fun with a lighter cozy mystery series about a service dog trainer.

I thought I had left the somewhat darker topics behind. My muse, however, had a different idea. She spun out a story in my head that involves two less than likeable members of groups that normally inspire high levels of sympathy in people.

In my new release, launching today (Yay!!), I have a crabby paraplegic veteran, who has an unhealthy obsession with his sister’s love life, and a brash, hard-to-like sexual assault survivor.

My main character, Marcia Banks, doesn’t particularly care for either of these people when she first meets them. And she feels guilty about that. How can you dislike a veteran in a wheelchair? she asks herself.

But the reality is that people in most groups come in all sizes, shapes, and personality types. Some of them aren’t going to be likeable. And my early readers have told me that I have handled these delicate topics well. I appreciate that reassuring feedback.

Nonetheless, I’m feeling a bit of trepidation as this book releases. I know I will get blow-back from some folks. I hope it doesn’t get too nasty.

Because there’s a lot of good, fun stuff in this book as well, as Marcia gets herself in a few scrapes that have her detective boyfriend tearing his hair out. And there are, of course, cute dogs and some humor, and horses. And a couple of romances…

So I do hope you will check it out!

How do you feel about controversy? Do you hate it like me, or does it get your juices flowing like it does for my friend?

Patches in the Rye cover

Patches in the Rye, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, Book 5

Nothing about her new client is what service dog trainer Marcia Banks expected—from the posh house that says family money to his paranoid preoccupation with his sister’s love life—but when he dangles a thousand-dollar retainer under her nose, she can’t resist playing private detective.

In between training sessions, Marcia digs into the sister’s boyfriend’s sketchy past. But the deeper she digs, the more questions arise. How is a disastrous fraternity party five years ago linked to blackmail, prostitutes, and murder today? And who’s driving the black SUV that keeps trying to turn Marcia and her dog Buddy into roadkill?

She can’t let it go, not when there are innocents at risk who are depending on her to find the truth. But the deepest, darkest truth is the one she wishes she never uncovered.

Just $0.99 for a limited time on  AMAZON US   AMAZON UK   AMAZON CA   AMAZON AUS   NOOK   APPLE   KOBO

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kass is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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A Crime Writers Interview: Mary Feliz

Crime Writers logo

We are very pleased to bring you another crime writers interview, this time with Mary Feliz, who writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever.

Mary Feliz

Mary has led an interesting life. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming.

She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Address to Die For, the first book in her series, was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews.

Kass Lamb (on behalf of misterio press):  To start things off, tell us one or two interesting things that will help folks understand who you are and why you write what you do?

Mary Feliz:  When I started writing these books, which are set in Silicon Valley, I’d lived there for more than 30 years. I felt the image portrayed by Hollywood and TV focused only on the mega-rich.

The area boasts an extraordinarily diverse population representing all 50 states and all corners of the globe. All major religions have a visible presence, along with those who follow a number of less-well known spiritual paths.

I’ve tried to give readers of the Maggie McDonald Mysteries a feel for what it can be like to be a thread in such a rich tapestry.

Mary Feliz 1st book cover

Mary’s 1st book, which Kirkus named a Best Book of 2017.

Kass:  Why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you, rather than say romance or science fiction?

Mary:  Crime Fiction is based on the age-old battle between good and evil. In the fantasy world of cozy mysteries, ordinary people win and justice is always restored. That doesn’t always happen in the real world, but we all need to escape reality from time to time.

Kass:  What type, i.e. subgenre, of mysteries do you write?

Mary:  My books are marketed as cozy mysteries and follow the dictates of the genre regarding no swearing, overt violence, or sex. But I think my characters might be more comfortable being considered the cast of a traditional mystery, in which small groups of clever friends and strangers combine forces to bring bad guys to justice and restore the community to an even keel.

Kass:  What was your favorite book/author as a child? Why was it your favorite?

Mary:  I loved Meg in A Wrinkle in Time, along with her mother’s lab and the family kitchen. I liked that the characters were unabashedly smart. Meg and her little brother Charles Wallace had trouble fitting in at school, but they were able to use their intelligence and their quirks to save their family and the world. And in the end, good wins out over evil.

I also gobbled up every Madeline L’Engle book I could find and loved them all.

snowy egret

We never know who will pop by for a visit at our home on Monterey Bay. In this case, it was a snowy egret.

Kass:  Where are you in your writing career? And what’s next?

Mary:  I’m writing the sixth and, for now, final book in the Maggie McDonald Series, and working on a new series that will take place on Monterey Bay, a National Marine Sanctuary often referred to as the Serengeti of the Sea due to its diverse and abundant wildlife.

Kass:  What was the oddest thing you’ve ever had to research?

Mary:  For Disorderly Conduct, I had to thoroughly research the social, economic, and devastating ecological problems associated with the South American drug cartels growing marijuana on state and federal lands. It was fascinating, but I’d hate to have anyone judge me by my search history.

Kass:  Ha, I hear that! My search history’s pretty scary as well. Thanks so much for joining us today, Mary, and please stick around for a little bit in case any of our readers have questions for you in the comments.

And folks, be sure to check out Mary’s new release, Book #4, in her Maggie McDonald series, Disorderly Conduct. You can connect with Mary at her website, on Facebook or on Twitter @maryfelizauthor

Disorderly Conduct cover

Professional organizer Maggie McDonald manages to balance a fastidious career with friends, family, and a spunky Golden Retriever. But add a fiery murder mystery to the mix, and Maggie wonders if she’s finally found a mess even she can’t tidy up . . .

With a devastating wildfire spreading to Silicon Valley, Maggie preps her family for a rapid evacuation. The heat rises when firefighters discover the body of her best friend Tess Olmos’s athletic husband—whose untimely death was anything but accidental. And as Tess agonizes over the whereabouts of her spouse’s drop-dead gorgeous running mate, she becomes the prime suspect in what’s shaping up to become a double murder case. Determined to set the record straight, Maggie sorts through clues in an investigation more dangerous than the flames approaching her home. But when her own loved ones are threatened, can she catch the meticulous killer before everything falls apart?

Available now on  AMAZON   NOOK   KOBO

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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A Crime Writers Interview: Leslie Karst

Crime Writers Intro image

Prepare to have your appetite whetted, for both Leslie Karst’s books and for a good meal.

leslie karst

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. She now writes the Sally Solari Mysteries (Dying for a Taste, A Measure of Murder, Death al Fresco), a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts.

Please help us welcome Leslie Karst!

Kass Lamb (on behalf of misterio press):  We like to start with a “tell us about yourself” question. What two or three things do people need to know in order to understand who you are?

Leslie Karst:  First, that I’ve been in Santa Cruz, where my mysteries are set, since 1974. I moved here to attend college and, after one look at the towering redwoods marching down to the spectacular seaside cliffs, I knew it was where I wanted to live long term. I think of the Sally Solari series as a sort of love letter to the place.

Ziggy at the Beach

     My dog Ziggy at the beach.

Second, yes, I do have quite a bit in common with my protagonist: we’re both ex-lawyers who are obsessed with food, and we both share a love of dogs, cycling, the Giants baseball team, and opera.

But Sally is far braver than I am—perhaps even too risky. I’d never have the nerve to investigate an actual murder. (Then again, I’d make for a pretty uninteresting sleuth, as well.) And I’d never dream of running a real-life restaurant; the work is far too exhausting and takes up too much of your life. But make-believe-running one in my books is loads of fun.

Kass:  What type of mysteries do you write—cozies, traditional whodunnits, historical, etc.—and why does that subgenre appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?

Dying for a Taste Cover

First book in Leslie’s series. Ebook only $1.99 on Amazon.

Leslie Karst:  My Sally Solari culinary mysteries are categorized by my publisher, Crooked Lane Books, as “cozies,” and the covers and marketing for the books reflect this. But to my mind, the series actually falls somewhere on the spectrum between cozies and what are now referred to as “traditional” mysteries. Sally can tend toward the sarcastic and has a fondness for bourbon and the occasional swear word—things not generally found in your typical cozy mystery. As a result, I like to refer to my series as “snarky cozies.”

Since I, like Sally, can also tend towards the snarky, I do love to read this subgenre (the name of which I believe I am the first to employ), and dearly wish there were more of them being published!

Kass:  Why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you?

Leslie Karst:  Having worked as a research and appellate attorney for twenty years, I’d say my brain must be wired for tasks that require an attention to detail. Any good mystery story requires the careful and painstaking placing of clues and red herrings, as well as a set of characters who would make for plausible suspects—a process that requires organization and the same sort of attention to detail that my legal career required. So when I decided to try my hand at writing fiction, a mystery novel seemed the obvious choice.

But I also love how crime novels tend to incorporate subplots that are woven into the mystery and which give the reader a glimpse into some new culture or way of life. (Think of Dorothy L. Sayers’ peeks into the worlds of London advertising, bell ringing, and academia.)

Solari's Linguine with Clam Sauce karst

Solari’s Linguine with Clam Sauce

And since I’m an unabashed gourmet, I was of course drawn to the culinary mystery subgenre, where I’m able to indulge in my passion for food and cooking—the more delectably described the better.

What was your favorite book/author as a child? Why was it your favorite?

Leslie Karst:  Okay, this may be super predictable but—like countless other girls who grew up in the 1960s—as a child, I was obsessed with all things horse. So the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley were my favorites, especially the first one, which gave its name to the series. I imagine most kids, at one time or another, have a Robinson Crusoe fantasy of being stranded on a desert island with no adults around, so what could be better than doing so with a gorgeous Arabian stallion as your helpmeet and companion?

Kass:  I loved the Black Stallion books as well, and I’m still a little horse-crazy. Let’s talk a bit about your writing process. What do you find to be the most difficult part—first draft, editing, researching?

Leslie Karst:  As a writer, I’m an absolute plotter (as opposed to a “pantser”). I first come up with a basic idea, next a group of three to five suspects (one of whom will be my eventual murderer), and then a series of plot points and events that will occur during the book. But the last step of organizing these plot points into an effective story arc is by far the most difficult part of the process for me.

With A Measure of Murder, the second in the Sally Solari series, I had compiled a multiple-page list of events and occurrences that I knew I wanted in the book, but which were in a completely random order. Unable to wrap my brain around how to transform them into a workable story line, I eventually printed out the list and cut the events apart with scissors, then spread them out across the dining room table. Over a period of several days I arranged and rearranged the order of events until I had a rough outline I was happy with. I then glued them back together onto new sheets of paper. A literal cut-and-paste job!

Kass:  *smiling* Sometimes old-fashioned scissors and paste work best! In your latest story, what was your favorite (or hardest to write) scene?

Leslie Karst:  There’s a dinner party that takes place midway through my latest book, Death al Fresco. It’s hosted by Sally at her home and her best friends—recurring characters in the series—are all there. I love this scene because it incorporates two of my favorite things to write—snappy dialogue and descriptions of food and cooking.

Sally and her pals are discussing the possible suspects in the case at the heart of the story, but as they exchange comments and jokes—each trying to outdo the others with their witticisms—they savor the luscious Black Cod with Miso and Sake that Sally has prepared (recipe in the book!), washed down by a citrusy Gewürztraminer.

The only problem is that I always find myself heading to the kitchen for a snack when I write these food scenes.

Kass:  And now I want to do exactly that!  Thanks so much for joining us today, Leslie.

And there you have it, folks, a delectable series of “snarky cozies” for your reading pleasure. Feel free to ask Leslie any questions you may have in the “comments” below.

You can visit Leslie on Facebook and you can go to her author website to sign up for her newsletter—full of recipes and fun Italian facts!—and to purchase all of her books.

And here’s her newest release:

Death al Fresco, book 3 in the Sally Solari mystery series:

Death al Fresco book cover

It’s early autumn in Santa Cruz and restaurateur Sally Solari, inspired by the eye-popping canvases of Paul Gauguin, the artist for whom her restaurant is named, enrolls in a plein air painting class. But the beauty of the Monterey Bay coastline is shattered during one of their outings when Sally’s dog sniffs out a corpse entangled in a pile of kelp.

The body is identified as Gino, a local fisherman and a regular at Sally’s father’s restaurant, Solari’s, until he disappeared after dining there a few nights before. But after witnesses claim he left reeling drunk, fingers begin to point at Sally’s dad for negligently allowing the old man to walk home alone at night. From a long menu of suspects, including a cast of colorful characters who frequent the historic Santa Cruz fisherman’s wharf, Sally must serve up a tall order in order to clear her father’s name.

Available on  Amazon,   Barnes & Noble  and  Bookshop Santa Cruz

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

The Magic is in the Process

Magic writing processHey, all! Gilian here. We don’t always publish something here on our “off” weeks, but this week, you got lucky. 😉

The most common question I get as an author is “How in the world do you come up with the stories for your Jade Blackwell Mysteries series?”

I’m happy to answer the question, but I must admit that much of it is magical, and I don’t fully comprehend it myself. Cool, huh? And scary sometimes. And frustrating on occasion. And it’s always messy.

Who knew messy could be magical? Magical Writing Process

To learn about my writing process and the reason I call it magical, follow this link to my blog. You can read all about it here.

 

Stop back next week for a great post!

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

A Crime Writer Interview: Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Crime Writers Intro image

Welcome to our second Crime Writers’ Interview! Our goal is to bring to you, our readers, some new and interesting authors and books for your reading pleasure.

Because books are not toasters. We don’t just buy one every few years. They are more like clothes. (Or for some of us, food!) We need a sustainable supply.

headshot Nancy Lynn Jarvis

So please help us welcome Nancy Lynn Jarvis.

Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years before she fell in love with writing and let her license lapse.

She has worked in the advertising department of a newspaper, as a librarian, and as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC.

Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years, a philosophy she applies to her writing, as well.

Kass Lamb (on behalf of misterio press):  We like to start with a somewhat open-ended, “tell us about yourself” question. What two or three things do you feel people need to know in order to understand who you are?

Nancy:  If there was any doubt about it before, there isn’t now: I turn seventy as my new book, “The Two-Faced Triplex” comes out, so I’m officially a geezerette. I was late to the writing party, starting the Regan McHenry Real Estate series at fifty-nine, but I love telling stories on paper so there’s no planned retirement for my writing venture.

My favorite out of the books I’ve written is not a mystery, but a comedy/commentary on the invisibility that comes to older people titled, “Mags and the AARP Gang.” I’ve also edited a cookbook, “Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes.”

photo of sunrise

The view my Airbnb guests will see at sunrise.

I like new adventures, so every few years I try something different. Currently, I’ve started hosting Airbnb (yes, there will be a book about it; look for “The Truth About Hosting Airbnb” in March) and what I really want to do is start having writer retreats at my house where five or so of us writers can come together to work on our mysteries while we share creative synergy and, hopefully, have a great time

Kass:  *raising hand* Please put me down for that first retreat. That sounds amazing.

So tell us, why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you, rather than say romance or science fiction?

Nancy:  I love the logic of it. It’s fun to think about the order of events and clues and it’s an enjoyable challenge revealing everything the reader needs to know to solve the mystery without revealing too much too soon.

I’m a very visual writer―I need to be able to see what I’m writing about―so I don’t think I’d be any good at science fiction, and writing romance novels simply doesn’t appeal to me.

Kass:  What type, i.e. subgenre, of mysteries do you write? Why does that subgenre appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?

Nancy:  My mysteries fall in the cozy genre. Regan McHenry is a Realtor who gets involved in murder because of clients, colleagues, and friends.

I grew up reading Agatha Christie at my grandmother’s house while sitting in a wicker rocking chair that I still have. Miss Marple was my favorite of Dame Agatha’s protagonists and was the perfect cozy amateur sleuth, so that’s the style I chose.

Sadly, since I’ve started writing, I’ve learned how to spot a red herring from miles away and usually I’ve solved the murder by page eighty-six, so I don’t enjoy reading cozies as much now.

Kass:  Where are you in your writing career, newly published, have 20 books under your belt, or somewhere in between? Tell us a little about your stories.

book coverNancy:  “The Two-Faced Triplex” is book seven and probably the final chapter of the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series. I was a Realtor for almost twenty-five years and had many related stories to use for background material and, while I still have more ideas, the technology involved in being a Realtor today has moved beyond my remembrances of working and I worry that if I continue the series, my books will become dated.

I’m currently editing a short story anthology pertaining to Santa Cruz, California (where I live) which will be titled, “Santa Cruz Weird.”

Beyond that, I’ve already begun playing with an idea for a series called “Geezers with Tools” about two single senior men, one widowed and one who thinks he’s a player, who start a handyman business to meet women. I like older characters and want to put more humor in my books. The very title of the series is a double entendre and, in my mind, a great setup to play with. The series will still be in the cozy mystery genre. My protagonists will solve crimes that come up as they work.

Kass:  What do you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process—first draft, editing, researching? Why is that?

Nancy:  I love writing first drafts and think researching for the mysteries is fun, although it does produce some very odd offers for items for sale in my inbox, so I would have to say editing is the hardest part of writing for me.

I was fortunate enough to have a willing (well almost willing) husband who became a great beta reader and content editor who kept me on track in large part, but he died about a year-and-a-half ago. “The Two-Faced Triplex” was hard to write and especially hard to finish because I didn’t know how I was going to get from finished first draft to something I was willing to send to my editor without his input in the middle.

Kass:  Oh my, so sorry about your husband. And I know what you mean about having that one beta reader whose blessing you have to have in order to feel comfortable releasing a book out into the world.

You said you enjoy doing research. What’s the oddest or most interesting thing you’ve ever researched?

Buying Murder book coverNancy:   The most unusual thing I’ve ever researched was the evolution of cat litter. In “Buying Murder,” Regan and her husband buy a house with a permanent resident. He was mostly decomposed, although partially mummified, as he spent time sealed in a wall anomaly filled with cat litter to keep him from leaking body fluids and, well, smelling like death.

He’d been there for sixteen years and, at the start of the mystery, who he was and when he died were unknown facts. I had those questions answered based on the type of cat litter that surrounded him. Cat litter formulations have changed over time, so I had to figure out what the litter components would have been sixteen years prior to the body’s discovery so his approximate death date could be determined.

Kass:  That is fascinating! Thanks so much, Nancy, for joining us today.

Before you leave, let me open up the floor to our subscribers and guests, in case any of them have questions for you.

And folks, don’t forget to check out Nancy’s new release, The Two-Faced Triplex:

The Two-Face Triplex book coverRegan signs on to play consoler-and-chief after the body of Martha Varner, one of her favorite clients, is found and the woman’s distraught daughter begs Regan to stop escrow from closing on a purchase her mother was about to make.

Martha Varner’s death, at first ruled suicide, is quickly ruled homicide. The dead woman’s best friend thinks she knows who Martha’s killer is. The police have a different suspect. And Regan? Well, she has her own ideas about who killed Martha Varner.

She just can’t imagine how complicated playing amateur sleuth will make her life and how dangerous her investigation will prove to be for her husband, Tom.

Now available on AMAZON.

You can check out Nancy’s other books on her Amazon Author Page. Also she is on Goodreads and Facebook.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Love Your Pet Day (Books for Dog Lovers)

by Kassandra Lamb

Here’s this “off” week’s something interesting… Did you know that today is “Love Your Pet” Day?

I’ve recently joined a group of authors who write books with dogs in them. Here’s this month’s collection (romances and mysteries), some of which are on sale or free. Some sales end today; some begin today, so jump on over to the landing page to check them out.

promo graphic

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

A Crime Writers’ Interview: Katherine Bolger Hyde

Crime Writers Intro image

Welcome to our first Crime Writers’ Interview! Our goal is to bring to you, our readers, some new and interesting authors and books for your reading pleasure.

Because books are not toasters. We don’t just buy one every few years. They are more like clothes. (Or for some of us, food!) We need a sustainable supply.

KBH photo

So please help us welcome our first interviewee, Katherine Bolger Hyde.

Katherine has been immersed in books her whole life as a reader, writer, and editor. She lives in the redwood country of California with her husband, youngest child, and two obstreperous cats. In addition to several children’s books, she has authored two books, so far, in the Crime with the Classics mystery series, which she will tell us about shortly.

But first…

Kass (on behalf of misterio press):  Let’s start with a somewhat open-ended, “tell us about yourself” question. What two or three things do you feel people need to know in order to understand who you are?

Katherine:  First of all, I’m a card-carrying nerd. I have always been happiest with a book in my hand. I taught myself to read at age 4, majored in Russian literature in college, and have spent my career as an editor. Books are my life.

Secondly, I do have a lot of other interests, from knitting to designing my dream house to singing in my church choir. When I was younger and fitter, I led a Renaissance dance troupe for a couple of years. So I’m a nerd but not a narrow nerd.

And finally, I’m a bit like my character, Emily Cavanaugh, in that I live with one foot in the twenty-first century and one in the nineteenth (or earlier). I take advantage of modern conveniences (including, unlike Emily, technology), but I don’t believe that change necessarily equals progress.

Kass:  Why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you, rather than say romance or science fiction?

Katherine:  I write what I love to read. While I appreciate the best works of most genres, the only modern one I’ve ever found addictive is mystery. I also dearly love many classic authors, which is why I chose to incorporate the classics into my mystery series. What appeals to me most about both, I think, is that they delve deeply into human motivations, which I find fascinating.

Kass:  What was your favorite book/author as a child? Why was it your favorite?

The Little House book cover

Katherine:  I couldn’t possibly pick just one—my favorites shifted as I grew up. But one book that still moves me after all these years is the picture book “The Little House” by Virginia Lee Burton. Perhaps because I didn’t have a stable home as a child, that story with a house as its main character touches something in the core of my being—it always makes me cry.

Kass:  What type, i.e. subgenre, of mysteries do you write? Why does that subgenre appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?

Katherine:  My published series, Crime with the Classics, is a cozy/traditional series, but my current work in progress is a much darker standalone—sort of a cross between a police procedural and a psychological thriller. I also have a plan for another cozy series that will have a paranormal element.

Arsenic with Austen book coverI enjoy writing traditional mysteries because there’s a lot of scope for humor, atmosphere, and character development, and I don’t have to live in a really dark place for all the months it takes to write a book. As a reader, my first love is the traditional mysteries of the British Golden Age—writers like Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, and Patricia Wentworth.

Kass:  What do you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process—first draft, editing, researching? Why is that?

Katherine:  First drafts are the most difficult for me. Researching is fun, and editing is second nature to me since I do it for my day job. But the initial process of converting the story in my head into actual words on paper can sometimes be excruciating, especially when I get to a point where I’m not sure where the story needs to go. On the other hand, when the writing is going well, it’s the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done.

Kass:  Boy, can I relate to that! So where are you in your writing career? Tell us a little more about your stories.

Katherine:  At this point I have published three children’s books and two adult mysteries—Arsenic with Austen (Minotaur, 2016) and Bloodstains with Brontë (Minotaur, 2017). The mysteries feature a retired literature professor, Emily Cavanaugh, who inherits a mansion in a little town on the Oregon coast, where her first love from high school, Luke Richards, is the sheriff. While Luke does the police work, Emily uses the insight into characters and situations gained from her love of literature to ferret out the culprits. Each novel borrows elements of character, situation, tone, and mood from the classic author it features.

Kass: I love that premise. I know one of our authors, Vinnie Hansen, has read some of your work, and now I can’t wait to read these stories.

Folks, you can find the first book in the series, Arsenic with Austen, on Amazon HERE, and Bloodstains with Brontë, just released in December, is available HERE. You can connect with Katherine on Facebook or her website.

Katherine, we wish you the very best of luck with this series and all your future stories!

Katherine:  Thanks for this opportunity to chat about books! It’s one of my favorite pastimes.

Bloodstains with Bronte coverBloodstains with Brontë, by Katherine Bolger Hyde

Passions run as dark and stormy as the coastal autumn weather in Bloodstains with Brontë, the second volume of Crime with the Classics. Emily hosts a fund-raising murder mystery dinner on Halloween night. All goes well until the supposed corpse turns up actually dead—with Emily’s young housekeeper, Katie, standing over him, bloody knife in hand. Emily’s loyalty to Katie crashes against her duty to the truth as she fights to save Katie from a murder charge.

On AMAZON

Thanks, folks, for joining us for the first of many Crime Writers’ Interviews. We hope to have one for you at least once every 4-6 weeks.

Any questions for Katherine? Thoughts on her Crime with the Classics premise? What was your favorite children’s book?

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Not One But Two Contests!

Hi, Folks!

As we’ve mentioned before, we’re only doing true blog posts every couple of weeks now (so we can spend more time writing new books for your reading pleasure) but I promised to keep an eye out for fun and/or interesting stuff to share with you on the “off” weeks.

This week, our own K.B. Owen has TWO contests going, one for free audio books and one for ebooks, paperbacks and more! Click HERE to check them out, plus a fun post about researching the 19th century.

Cozy Winter Audiobooks Giveaway #1

January 16th-Feb 3rd

Nine (9) winners will receive all three (3) audiobooks from the Concordia Wells mystery series: Dangerous and Unseemly (book 1), Unseemly Pursuits (book 2), and Unseemly Ambition (book 3).

One (1) winner will receive all three (3) audiobooks, plus a set of wine charms, customized with the first three audiobook covers and the K.B. Owen Mysteries logo. Aren’t they cute?

Cozy Winter Book Giveaway #2

January 16th-Feb 3rd

Five (5) winners will receive their choice of any ebook from the Concordia Wells mystery series, out of the six books so far.

Five (5) winners will receive their choice of any paperback from the Concordia Wells mystery series. I’ll inscribe it to whomever you designate! I’ll throw in a lip balm, too, if you like. *wink*

**P.S. – I’m running separate contests because not everyone is set up to listen to audiobooks, so it seemed best to target that audience separately. But feel free to enter both! ~ KBO

Jump on over to K.B.’s blog to enter!

Bloodstains with Bronte cover

And next week, we have a special treat for you. Our first crime fiction writer interview so you can check out some new authors!

If you like the classics and also a good mystery, then you’ll love Katherine Bolger Hyde. She’s figured out how to combine the two!

See ya next week!

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Séances, Spirits and Murder, Oh My! (and a New Cozy Mystery for You)

by Gilian Baker

Murder Over Medium

Each society mourns and honors their dead differently, and yet one thing remains a constant—humans have been attempting to reconnect with their lost loved ones since the dawn of time.

Séances and mediums first became all the rage during the Victorian era. So it may make you scratch your head that, in our modern age, we’re witnessing a resurgence of interest in the occult.

But all you need do to observe this revival in action is look at the bookshelves in your local shop or channel surf. Witches, hauntings, and all things paranormal are back in fashion.

In the latest Jade Blackwell Mystery, this fascination is explored, tongue in cheek, when Jade welcomes an old colleague, Gwendolyn Hexby, into her home. Unbeknownst to her, her friend is no longer a professor of religious studies, but has found a “higher calling” as a medium. Jade spends the entire book trying to reconcile Gwendolyn’s new beliefs with the woman who demanded empirical evidence years before.

One of the first things Gwendolyn does once she’s darkened Jade’s door is hold a séance.

Séances aren’t only for preteen girls’ slumber parties. Many people visit mediums each year all around the globe, in hopes of reconnecting with a loved one who has left this world. Séances are typically held by a medium, a person who has developed a talent for communicating with those who have passed over. With their help, the dead are able to give messages to those they love who are still living.

Here are some fun facts you may not know about séances and Spiritualism:

  • Famous people who attended séances include Harry Houdini, poet W.B. Yeats andMurder Over Medium Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • Nancy Reagan wasn’t the first First Lady to practice the occult in the White House by consulting astrologists. Both First Lady Jane Pierce, wife of Franklin Pierce, and Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln hired mediums to hold séance in the White House to contact their dead sons.
  • In 1840, the world’s first recorded séance was performed by the Fox sisters, Kate and Margaret. They had their séances recorded in text to prove they were the real deal. The two sisters had a huge influence in the world of spiritualism and became highly sought-after mediums. Many years later, they announced their performances had all been faked, though they later recanted that statement.
  • Both First Ladies hired the same famous mediums, the Fox sisters.
  • Harry Houdini was a great believer in Spiritualism and attended séances frequently, until he was unsuccessful at connecting with his departed mother. After that, he put a great deal of energy into proving séances were hoaxes.
  • So obsessed was Houdini with verifying séances were hoaxes, before he died in 1926, he told his wife he would come back to speak with her. They even came up with a code word so she would know it was him. For ten years after his death, she held a séance, but he never did show up. Magicians and fans of Houdini continue the tradition by holding séances each year on his birthday.
  • In 2003, two British mediums, Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker, held a pay-per-view séance to contact Princess Diana. They claimed they connected with her—she told them she was having fun in the afterlife, hanging out with Mother Teresa.
  • The Victorians who brought us the Spiritualist movement are the ones we can thank for the popularity of tarot cards and the Ouija board.
  • Tarot cards had been around since the 1400s, but they started out as a card game to be Murder Over Mediumplayed alone. During the Victorian era, tarot cards became a very common way for mediums and spiritualists to receive messages from the dead.
  • The Ouija board was first manufactured during the Victoria era, in 1891, by a game company. It claimed the power to “provided a link between the living world and the one inhabited by the dead.”

You can enjoy more metaphysical mischief in Book 3 of the Jade Blackwell Mystery Series, Murder Over Medium, which is now available for pre-order here.

Murder over Medium book coverFormer English professor turned blogger, Jade Blackwell, is enjoying her predictable routine when trouble comes knocking in the form of an old friend and colleague. Unbeknownst to Jade, Gwendolyn Hexby is no longer the successful academic she once knew and trusted—she is now following a new calling as a psychic medium, a contentious career that flies in the face of the logic and deductive reasoning Jade values.

At first, Jade welcomes the visit, but things soon turn bizarre as Gwendolyn brings only disorder, danger and disruption. When a murder is prophesied, and a beloved pillar of the Aspen Falls’ community winds up dead, Gwendolyn becomes Sheriff Ross Lawson’s prime suspect.

To get Gwendolyn out of hot water, and more importantly, out of her house, Jade attempts to prove her friend’s innocence. Jade believes she’s finally discovered the truth, but is soon brought back to reality when she learns all is not as it seems in the realm of the metaphysical. Not even murder.

Return to the Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery Series in Murder Over Medium, as Jade jumps into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason—in either this world or the next.

 

Posted by Gilian Baker. Gilian is a former writing and literature professor who now uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, snuggled up with her husband watching British mysteries or discussing literary theory with her daughter. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. Gilian is the author of the Jade Blackwell cozy mysteries.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )