Author Spotlight: Judith Lucci

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This past summer at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival I had a chance to talk to Judith Lucci, a thoroughly delightful, funny, talented, and smart writer. She’s authored a number of thrillers and she’s here to talk about her most recent release, The Case of the Dead Dowager. Welcome, Judith!

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Hi Amy, thanks so much for inviting me to Reade and Write. I’m delighted to be your guest, your friend and one of your fans!

My new book, The Case of the Dead Dowager released last week and it is the second book and my Michaela McPherson crime thriller series. Mic is a retired homicide detective from Richmond, Virginia (my hometown) who currently owns a bar, Biddy McPherson’s, located in Richmond Shockoe bottom. Biddy’s is the local watering hole for the Richmond police. Michaela lives with her retired police dog, Angel, her loyal canine partner who took a bullet and saved her life. Michaela’s best friend is Dorothy Borghase, an Italian Countess whose lineage dates to early papal Rome. Michaela, Dottie, and Angel solve international crime. In the first Michaela book, The Case of Dr. Dude the trio bring an international human trafficking ring to justice. In the Dead Dowager, Dottie and Mic are searching for two hideous and heinous serial killers whose weapon of choice is poison. Here’s the blurb for the Dead Dowager:

***

Dottie turned off the main highway and headed south to Blackstone Virginia. Madame Toulescent lived just outside of Blackstone and that’s where she conducted her psychic readings.  She wished away the butterflies that cramped her stomach. She had a sense that what she was going to hear wasn’t good. She wished she didn’t believe in the value of psychics or the unknown but she did, and that was that. She’d seen psychic readings and prophecies come true time after time during her life.  Mic wasn’t a believer at all but had grudgingly admitted psychics had helped them in a case about ten years ago.                                                       

The speedometer on her car registered over sixty miles an hour on a forty-five mile limit stretch of highway. I’d better slow down. The last thing I need is a Virginia state trooper on my tail. She braked and her car skidded but she handled it skillfully. The Cadillac was a big, monster car but she really liked it. Since Dottie had lived in the US, she had always preferred German-made cars and previously owned multiple Mercedes Benz. Of course, when Count Borghase had been alive, they’d always driven Italian cars, mainly Ferraris. But now she was pretty much American and she loved her Caddy. There was something about the Cadillac that was so plush and so American that she bought a new one every couple of years.

 She saw an old gray mule in the pasture out of the corner of her eye and saw the fence that was lying on the side. Dottie didn’t know what she’d do if they ever repaired that fence. She’d been looking at that fence on the ground for years and it was her landmark just before she turned onto Madame’s private road. She knew her turn was just up ahead. She slowed for a farmer carrying a load of hay in an old truck. He was hogging the entire road. Now where in the hell am I supposed to go?  She steered her big car to the side of the road as far as she could without falling into the ditch. She cursed and held her breath as the farmer passed her. She swore the farmer missed her by less than an inch. The old codger hadn’t even looked her way. She shook her head and cursed again softly. She threw her white Caddy into first gear and roared out of the ditch spewing gravel, dirt, and mud all over the road. She saw three rabbits running for their life and hoped she hadn’t interrupted their nest. Dottie drove a little further and made her left turn. She turned right on the first road and started the difficult trip along the horrible, rutted road to Madame Toulescent’s tiny home. The road was almost a mile long. Dottie’s tall, thin frame bounced all over her plush leather seat and her hair fell out of her neatly arranged bun. I’m going to have to take a pain pill. All this jumping around is killing my hips. Secretly Dottie new she needed to have her hips replaced but there was no way she was willing to do that, at least not while she could walk. I wouldn’t be able to help Michaela. And then, what would she do?

 Madame Toulescent waved at Dottie from her front porch filled with flowers and beautiful hanging baskets of petunias and begonias. Her small white cottage was immaculate. Madame Toulescent watched her painstakingly steer her huge Cadillac down her battered road. Dottie brought the iron beast to a stop, looked in her rearview mirror and re-pinned a piece of white hair that had worked its way out of her perfect updo. Even though the Madame lived in a house that was little better than a house trailer, Dottie had been trained from birth to always look perfect when visiting. This task had become monumental at age 82. She reached for her purse and checked to make sure her Glock was nestled in its special pocket. She checked her lipstick in the mirror, pinched her lips together, cursed the fine lines around her mouth and got out of the car.

 “Hello Madame Toulescent. Thank you for seeing me today on short notice.” Dorothy smiled her gracious smile at the psychic, showing her beautiful white veneers, once available for a large price from the famous, dentist-to-the-stars Dr. Michael Smirkowitz.

“You are so welcome, Countess Borghase.” Madame Toulescent looked around the empty fields and through the trees and gestured with her arm. “As you can see, there is no waiting line. Please come in. I’ve made us some tea.” She paused for a moment and said, “Watch the steps. They’re in need of repair,” she cautioned.

In need of repair, my butt, they need to be rebuilt Dottie climbed the rickety steps dodging rusty nails and wood splinters. She grasped the loose railing and posts that held up the old front porch. The last thing she wanted to do was fall and break something. She followed Madame Toulescent into her small but neat and cozy home. There was a wonderful scent in the air and Dottie’s mouth watered.

“Please have a seat in the easy chair,” the Madame offered. “I’ll bring us some tea and sweet bread.”

Dottie nodded and smiled her thanks as she carefully studied Madame Toulescent. She wasn’t sure of her nationality. She thought she was Eastern European but she seemed very much like the French and her house had several amazing pieces of French country furniture. In years past, she had asked the Madame about her former life, but the psychic seemed unwilling to share her past. Her voice had a strange accent Dottie couldn’t identify which frustrated her. Dottie had traveled the world and she knew the languages and dialects of most ethnic populations. But she couldn’t figure out Madame Toulescent’s origins. That puzzled her.

Madame handed Dottie a cup of herb tea. The aroma alerted her senses and she immediately felt more awake and inspired. The tea had given her energy and awareness. She took a sip. It was delicious.

“Oh my, Madame Toulescent. Whatever is in this tea? I feel a million times better just from smelling it. You’ve got to tell me where you got it because I know Cookie would love it too,” Dottie gushed as she sipped her tea.

Madame Toulescent smiled and said. “I made the tea. It’s a blend of ginger, mint, lemon verbena and a few other things I grow in my herb garden. I’ll send some home with you. It’s sweetened with honey I collected from my bees yesterday.” She smiled briefly, and her lips stretched over teeth that could benefit from a cosmetic dentist. “That’s probably what you love so much.”

Dottie nodded and studied the Madame. The years hadn’t treated her so well. Dottie didn’t know her age but her face was a mass of wrinkles that blended one into the other. Dottie guessed each wrinkle had its own story. Her skin appeared soft but deeply creased. Her jet black hair was streaked with gray and hung freely past her shoulders. She wore a simple blue shift with a silver belt and wore tennis shoes and socks. She smelled of lemon and freesia.

Dottie, as usual, smelled of Chanel #5. “It’s so lovely out here, Madame. Do you ever come to town?”

Madame Toulescent shook her head. “Very rarely. My neighbor collects my groceries for me when I need them and as you know, I have a huge vegetable garden and I can and freeze most everything I need. I like it here and I like to stay with my animals – my dogs, cats, cow, mules and horses. It’s quiet here and my love is nature.”

Dottie nodded. She couldn’t imagine staying in these four walls every single day. She supposed she didn’t have the patience and gentleness of spirit that the Madame had. But that was okay. Dottie was very happy in her own way.

The two women shared a comfortable silence and continued to sip their tea until the Madame asked, “How can I help you today, Countess?” She smiled at her and said, “I can tell you have some significant things on your mind and that you are troubled.”

Dottie put her teacup down and said, “Yes, I do. Have you been watching the news?” Dottie saw the woman pale under her sun-darkened skin.

Madame Toulescent nodded. “You’re here about the poisonings, aren’t you?”

Dottie held Madame’s dark eyes with her own and said, “Yes, I am. Camilla Rothrock was one of my dearest friends and I need to know who poisoned her.”

Madame shifted her gaze to the floor and said, “Countess Borghase, this is a very bad business that is happening. I’ve had some visions and they are upsetting. It reminds me of the evil work of Hitler in Germany.”

This time it was Dottie who paled, her heart beating so hard she could hardly breathe. “Oh my God, Madame. We both remember his devastation in Europe and the millions of people he murdered.”

Madame Toulescent rubbed her hands together, her face grim. “Indeed we do. A sad and sorry time. Let’s move into the back where I work and see what we can see.”

Dottie stood and followed Madame to the room in the far back of her modest home. It was a glass room with beautiful views into the forest. She left her teacup on the coffee table. Her heart thumped dangerously in her chest and she was short of breath. She was so terrified she almost lost her balance. She gripped her purse and cell phone in her hand. She was scared and just the idea of having the Glock made her feel safer. Could the evil be so strong it permeated her soul?

“Countess, why are you so upset? What can I do to help you?” Madame Toulescent looked at Dottie with concern.

Dottie stared at her but her eyes said it all.

“Let me get you something to calm you down so we can have a good reading. Please stay in the chair and I’ll be right back,” Madame Toulescent said as she left Dottie and walked to her kitchen.

Chapter 35

Dottie sat quietly in a large wing-backed chair in the calm serenity of Madame Toulescent’s solarium. The herbs Madame Toulescent had given her had done the trick. She could feel herself calming down. She could hear the rushing of the James River in the distance and she was mesmerized by the cattle grazing in the field in the distance. Perhaps all was right with the world. She supposed she’d know soon enough.

Madame motioned her to a simple wooden table on the side of the room. Dottie arose from her chair and took the seat facing the psychic. Madame Toulescent’s eyes glazed through the glass window out into the fields. Dottie wondered what she was seeing but sat quietly and watched.

“Countess Borghase, you know I’m a psychic. Generally, when we meet, I do psychic readings. But, I also function as a spiritual medium. Would you like for me to see if I could talk with your friend, Camilla?”

Dottie’s stomach knotted up and she felt nauseous. She stared at Madame Toulescent and said, her voice hesitant, “I… I don’t know. I’ve never done that before. Will it help?”

Madame Toulescent could sense her hesitation. “You seem frightened to talk with your friend or at least have your friend communicate with us. Let’s see what else we can do.”

“I didn’t know you talked with spirits,” Dottie said. “Can you tell me how that works?”

“Well, there are quite a few things I can do,” Madame Toulescent said gently. She could see Dottie was upset about channeling Camilla. “We’ve mostly done psychic readings when you’ve visited. The psychic readings are about getting advice, guidance or direction around things that are happening in your life. There’ve been a couple of times when you’ve been here in crises and you wanted some help or direction. It is my belief that a reading is getting confirmation on what our own intuition is already telling us. Most of the time, I’ve simply confirmed what your intuition had already suggested. I’ve validated what you already knew. Often as a psychic, I only teach and help people confirm their own wisdom.

Dottie nodded, “Yes, I agree with that. Most of the time you’ve validated what I’ve thought and believed and have helped me decide what to do next.”

Madame nodded. “Yes, this is true.”

“But, Countess,” she said taking Dottie’s cold hand into her warm one, “I also work as a medium and I can contact your friend Camilla and we can learn about the last few moments of her life.”

Dottie’s eyes filled with tears, “But I don’t know if I want to know about Camilla’s last few minutes. She looked so horrible and I think she was scared and in pain,” she ended with a choked sob.

Madame Toulescent nodded. “I understand what you are saying. I just want to tell you that it’s possible we can learn from Camilla. Perhaps she can help us solve the poisonings.”

Dottie was silent for a moment as she considered the possibilities. Certainly, she could be uncomfortable and upset for a few moments, particularly if she could help Michaela and the police solve these horrible murders. Besides, that would prove to Mic that she wasn’t old and helpless… although she really didn’t think Michaela thought that. That was her insecurity popping up. “Um, okay. I’ll do it. But first, could we just look at the murders in general. Could you tell me what you see and perhaps give me some direction that I can share with the authorities?”

“Of course I can, Countess. In no way do I want to upset you or frighten you, but I’m sure your friend wants to send us a message. I can feel her trying to get though,” Madame Toulescent said. “In the meantime, let me focus on the poisonings. Give me a few moments to think and commune.”

It was a lovely day. The birds were singing, the cattle were grazing contently in the field. Dottie smiled and focused on a mother deer and her fawn that grazed in the grass about twenty yards from the back window. They were beautiful. The fawn was young and still had its spots. She watched as the mother nudged her and encouraged her to eat the grass, but the fawn just wanted to play. She smiled as she saw them frolic in the sunshine.

She heard a low moan come from deep in Madame’s throat. The sound sent shivers up Dottie’s back. She wondered what Madame Toulescent saw in her vision. The moaning became worse and Dottie could hardly sit still. Her eyes returned to the view outside. The mother and fawn were staring into the window. The birds were no longer chirping. I think they know something is about to happen here.

Madame Toulescent was in a trance and her body swayed from left to right as she moaned and said ‘no’ over and over. She had a conversation with someone, smiled gently and said, “Yes, yes. I will.”

Dottie’s eyes returned to the bucolic scene in front of her. Everything was okay now. The mother deer and her baby were gone, and she could see several cardinals feasting on the seed in the birdfeeder. She could hear other birds chirping in the distance. The cows chewed their cud contentedly in the fields and the sun was bright on the early spring wild flowers. Something must be right with the world, she thought. Yes, all is right with the world, at least for a moment.

It seemed forever before Madame Toulescent rose from her trance. She looked at Dottie and asked, “Are you okay?”

Dottie shrugged her shoulders and said, “Yes, yes, I’m fine. Can you tell me what you saw?”

A dark shadow flashed across Madame’s face and she said, “I saw a lot. I felt the fear of Camilla and the three young women at the bar. I could feel the pain the women endured as the poison struck their internal organs.”

Dottie nodded and waited for more.

“Regrettably, I heard the screams and felt the fear of the school children. I talked with the children that had died and wiped their tears.”

Madame Toulescent paused for a moment to rest. Dottie watched as her shoulders relaxed and her breathing returned to normal. She went into the living room and returned with the teapot. She refilled their cups and said, “There are two men who are killing these people. One man has an agenda to kill, but the other man kills for sport. They are evil and will stop at nothing to reach their goal.” Madame Toulescent was silent for a moment and sipped her tea.

Dottie waited patiently which was one of the most difficult tasks ever for her. She was simply not patient and wanted what she wanted the second she wanted to have it. As she waited for Madam to continue, she found herself replacing the bobby pins in her hair and picking at her nails. She crossed and uncrossed her legs several times until Madame Toulescent reached under the table and put her hand on Dottie’s knee to quiet her.

“Please stop that, Countess. I can’t focus. I’m trying to remember things. We’ll talk in a moment.”

Dottie fell like a child in kindergarten. She hung her head in shame because she had interrupted Madame. A couple of minutes later, Madame said, “The two men will continue to kill as they have for a few more days. Then they plan to poison a large number of people, possibly thousands at a major event. I don’t know where but it is coming soon.”

Dottie’s heart jumped into her throat. She was so frightened she could hardly speak and beside herself with anxiety and fear. She stared at Madame Toulescent until she found her voice.

“But wait… when and where will they attack?”

Madame Toulescent repeated, “I do not know when the attack will be. Perhaps the men have not planned a date and they do not know.”

Dottie could feel fear and anxiety creep up her spine and she asked, her voice quavering, “What else, what else is there that you won’t tell me?”

Madame Toulescent stared into Dottie’s ice blue eyes and said, “Camilla said to tell you the poison was in the tea. She said when she drank the tea she began to feel sick and then she couldn’t talk or see anymore. She also said to tell you that she is okay now. She wants you to tell the General she’s fine and not to worry.”

Dottie nodded slowly and said, “I guess that’s good, if you have to be dead, right?”

Madame Toulescent nodded as she watched Dottie pull herself together and gather her purse. She stood up and offered the Madam her hand. “Thank you. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I truly appreciate it.”

Madame Toulescent nodded and said softly,” There’s one more thing, Countess. Do you want to hear it?”

Dottie nodded and said, “I suppose so.”

“Michaela is in grave danger. You must watch out for her carefully.”

Dottie’s spine stiffened and she stood even straighter as she looked down at the psychic, “Danger how? What kind of danger?” Dottie’s heart fluttered in her chest and she held on to the back of the chair for support. She couldn’t let anything happen to Michaela.

Madame shook her head and said, “I don’t know. I could not see her danger but I can feel it and it’s real. Please watch out for her. These men are cruel and evil. They will stop at nothing.”

Dottie said simply, “I will. I always do.”

“And, Dottie,” Madame Toulescent, “I believe you are in danger as well. So I urge you to take no chances and to stay safe.”

Dottie grinned and flashed Madame Toulescent her favorite aristocratic smile. “I’ll be fine, Madame. I’m always in danger. After all, I’m eighty-two years old.”

Madame smiled, “I am serious, Dottie, please watch yourself and stay safe.”

“I will, I promise, thank you.” Dottie’s voice sounded a lot stronger than she felt as she left Madame’s modest home and walked the short distance to her car. She opened her door and sat down, grateful for the softness of the plush, soft leather cushions. She closed her eyes and a million rays of light invaded her head. She was stressed, deeply scared and worried. These were different feelings for Dottie who usually only feared forgetting something or losing her memory. I’ve got to take care of Michaela.

Madame Toulescent watched Dottie back up her big car and continue carefully down the deeply rutted road. She felt intense fear for the Countess but she feared mostly for Michaela McPherson. These were evil men.

***

I loved writing this book because I love the characters! Michaela is based on a friend of mine who is indeed a retired homicide detective and Dottie is exactly who I would like to be when I’m 82 years of age. Angel… well, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I love dogs and Angel is a personification of the perfect canine.

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I have three goals in my books. The first is to engage the reader so they keep reading, the second is to entertain with a great story and the third is to education my readers. In both of my series, my Alexandra Destephano medical thriller series and my Michaela McPherson crime thrillers, I advocate for vulnerable populations and disenfranchised people. In the Michaela McPherson series, I bring attention to military and police working dogs such as Angel, and their value in law enforcement. I focus on the usefulness, respect and wisdom of the elderly such as Dottie. I also am very supportive of law enforcement in both of my series.

My medical thrillers, the Alex Destephano novels, are based in New Orleans and Virginia. Alex is a nurse attorney from a politically prominent Virginia family who moved to the Big Easy to run a hospital. The fictional Crescent City Medical Center is located near the French Quarter in NOLA and sees the wealthiest of the wealthy and the poorest and most violent criminals in the city.   Alex is vulnerable … she’s been hurt in life and hurt in love, but she’s determined to make it alone. She smart, goal directed, ethical and a fighter. Alex’s personal values are high.  So far, Alex hasn’t been able to catch a break and finds herself involved in one horrific situation after another. All of my books have won The Readers’ Favorite Five Star seal. Recently, The Case of Dr. Dude won ‘Best Read of the Summer’ in the United Kingdom.

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In my ‘other’ life I’m a registered nurse, college professor and a researcher. Writing fiction was quite difficult for me from a technical standpoint because I’d been an academic writer most of my life and all of my early rejections comments on my ‘robot writing and characters’. I think I’ve finally achieved the ability to write good, expressive and meaningful dialogue and create memorable characters. I try to write every single day, generally in the mornings my goal is at least 2000 words per day but I really would prefer to do twice that. When I read, I read pretty much what I write… mysteries, crime thrillers, spy novels and action and adventure. I love historical fiction and I have many, many favorite authors – many of them are indie.

Thanks so much for allowing me to be a part of your blog.  Feel free to follow me on Facebook.  You can contact me at http://www.JudithLucci.com.

The links to my books are below.

Judith Lucci Book Links
Universal Bitly
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/GetMedThrillers
Dr. Dude: http://bit.ly/ViewDrDude
Viral: http://bit.ly/SeeViralIntent
Toxic: http://bit.ly/ViewToxic
Imposter: http://bit.ly/ViewImposter
Chaos: http://bit.ly/ViewChaos

Dead Dowager: https://www.amazon.com/Case-Dead-Dowager-McPherson-Mysteries/dp/1539822311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480993203&sr=8-1&keywords=the+case+of+the+dead+dowager

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Thanks for visiting Reade and Write, Judith! Congratulations on your new release!

Until next time,

Amy

Spotlight: Rabbi Ilene Schneider

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Today on Reade and Write I welcome Rabbi Ilene Schneider, who is both an author and an avid reader. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’m thrilled to finally host her here. Ilene answers my questions for readers today, but I hope to have her back soon to answer my questions for writers, too!

Welcome to Reade and Write, Ilene!

How often do you read?

Constantly. When do I not read is easier to answer: when I’m talking with someone, when I’m driving, when I’m sleeping, when I’m in the shower, when I’m at the movies or a play or concert, when I’m at religious services … I can’t think of any other times I don’t read. I even read while watching TV. 

What is the name of the last book you finished?

The Cat in the Living Room, a natural and cultural history of house cats.

What are you reading now?

I just started Alexandra Sokoloff’s Huntress Moon.

What is your preferred genre?

Cozy mysteries, with ventures into natural history books (recently reread John McPhee’s Pine Barrens for the umpteenth time) and popular history (anything by Erik Larson).

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

The Cat in the Living Room.

Are you in a book club?

No.

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

Kindle. I’m addicted to it. I realized a while ago it’s not books I love but reading.

How do you decide which books to read?

Recommendations, reviews, new releases by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past, books by authors I’ve met.

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

How much time and space do you have? 28 on my to-be-read list, 39 on my “classics” (books I may reread, including such books as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Maltese Falcon, as well as Sherlock Holmes, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, etc.), 26 nature, history, biography, and research.

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

Yes, I want to see if any of the negative reviews contain criticisms of things I dislike, like excessively gory or gratuitous violence, explicit or gratuitous sex, lack of character development, stilted dialogue …

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

Whatever I’m currently reading. Assuming I like it to begin with.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

Wherever I am.

Anything else you want me to know?

If I have to lose a sense, I’d prefer anything but sight. I am a visual learner, so audio books won’t do it for me.

 

Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., one of the first six women rabbis ordained in the U.S., has finally decided what she wants to be when she grows up. She retired from her day job to devote full time to writing. She is the author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mysteries: Chanukah Guilt, which was nominated for the Deadly Ink David Award for Best Mystery of 2007, was one of My Shelf’s 2007 Top Ten Reads, and was a Midwest Book Review Reviewers Choice Book; and Unleavened Dead, which won First Place from the Public Safety Writers Association, and was nominated for the Deadly Ink David Award for Best Mystery of 2012. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine called Unleavened Dead “… a solid, funny mystery that provides an insider’s look at Jewish life.” A resident of Marlton, NJ, near Philadelphia, she has completed  the third book in the series, Yom Killer, and is also the author of Talk Dirty Yiddish.

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Please visit her website/blog: http://rabbiauthor.com or email her at rabbi.author@yahoo.com.

Thanks for stopping by, Ilene!

Until next time,

Amy

Happy Thanksgiving from Reade and Write

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This was the closest photo I could find to turkey in my archives.🙂

My monthly blog for Novel Spaces goes live today, so I’m sharing the link below. I hope you’ll click it, visit Novel Spaces, and enjoy the fun post about Thanksgiving facts.

Best wishes for a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

http://novelspaces.blogspot.com/2016/11/lets-talk-turkey-or-pilgrims-or-macys.html

Author Spotlight: Maggie King, Part II

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Today I welcome Maggie King back to Reade and Write. You may remember she was here back in June talking about her book Murder at the Book Group (you can read that interview here). She’s here again to talk about her new book, Murder at the Moonshine Inn. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of the book, and I can highly recommend it! Maggie has a gift for being able to direct a reader’s attention everywhere but the real culprit, and I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Welcome back, Maggie!

Tell us about your new book.

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Hazel Rose is back, giving an Oscar-worthy performance when she goes undercover at a redneck bar.

When high-powered executive Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks—she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day—he’s still family.

Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn—or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox.

When a second murder ups the ante, Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.

How long did it take you to write the new book?

Two years, approximately.

Do you write linearly, or do you write each scene separately and then piece them together like a puzzle? Or is there some other path you take to writing a novel?

I create a linear outline, but I write the scenes separately and not always in order—much the way scenes are filmed in movies and TV. I may have a great idea for a scene and want to get it down while I have the inspiration.

Tell us a secret about one of your characters- something that’s not in the book.

Back in her hippie days, book group member Sarah Rubottom had a fling with a hot rock star!

Do you have any writing rituals?

My daily walks let me charge up my creativity and allow for a free flowing of ideas.

What time of day do you do your best writing?

Afternoon. While most people of any profession say they’re morning or night people, I’ve always been at my most productive and creative in the afternoon.

Have you ever been on a writing retreat? And if so, where did you go?

I haven’t to date, but I’d love to attend one. I have friends who return again and again to The Porches and Nimrod Hall, both right here in Virginia.

Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

I’m working on #3 in the Hazel Rose Book Group series, as yet untitled (I typically come up with a title after I type THE END). The book group goes on hiatus to take a mystery writing class, taught by bestselling author Annabel Mitchell. Readers of Murder at the Book Group, #1 in the series, will remember Annabel.

When a very obnoxious student is murdered, there are no dearth of suspects, including the writing class members and their teacher.

Tell us about the dedication in your new book, if you wish.

I’ve dedicated it to my husband, Glen King, for his love, support, and undying faith in me.

Do you prefer to read a physical book (with paper pages that really turn), or do you prefer an ereader, or perhaps audio books?

I read both ebooks and print, audio only occasionally. I prefer an e-reader, because it’s easier on my eyes and I can read for longer periods of time. And I’m an environmentalist, so that aspect of e-readers appeals to me. If I’m reading a lengthy book, it’s easier to tote the ereader around. But I don’t want print books to become extinct and I do like the feel of the paper. So I read both.

As for audiobooks, I only read them occasionally. I lived in Los Angeles at the time of the 1994 Northridge quake. The infamous LA traffic became much worse as the city worked to repair damaged freeways. That’s when I (and many others) indulged in audio.

If you had an unlimited budget, is there something special you would do for your readers?

Take a group on a worldwide cruise devoted to mystery writers and readers.

Remind us where we can connect with you.

Website: http://www.maggieking.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieKingAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaggieKingAuthr

Where is the new book available?

At your favorite online or brick-and-mortar store or at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2dtozWa

Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including the recently-released Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.

Thanks for stopping by Reade and Write, Maggie, and good luck with your new book!

Until next time,

Amy

 

Monday Funnies…

I was going to post my daughter’s Voices of Democracy essay here today in honor of the election, but she asked me not to. So instead, I’m reblogging some comics to inject your day with a little humor. Enjoy, and many thanks to Chris the Story Reading Ape for the original post!

And please, whatever your party, whatever your feelings about the election, get out there today and VOTE!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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Source: Tundra Comics

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The Day-After-Halloween Treat

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This is the first year since 1998 I haven’t gone out trick-or-treating with my kids. My husband took my son out, but my daughter (the one who isn’t in college) stayed home with me to hand out candy to the two children who came to our door. We live on a block that tends to be quite dark, so we don’t get too many trick-or-treaters.

My plan while waiting for the doorbell to ring was to continue working on my current novel (Book 3 in the Malice series), but then I remembered my blog. Yes, this one.

I have a few ideas in reserve for my blog for those nights (like tonight) when the need to write a post sneaks up on me, but I wasn’t ready to tackle those yet. So I came up with the next-best thing:

Halloween Candy and Wine Pairings

Genius, right?

Now, I know not all of you drink wine. If you avoid alcohol, then my advice is to drink milk or water with your candy. I always find water goes well with sweet things. And milk with anything chocolate is just a classic.

But for those of you who do enjoy a glass of wine now and then, take my advice and enjoy a piece of candy (or two, or a dozen) with your drink. Here are my favorite highly unscientific pairings, starting with my two favorite types of Halloween candy and then in no particular order after that:

KitKat: Pinot noir

Mounds: Cabernet Sauvignon

Hershey: Temperanillo

Twix: Sauvignon Blanc

Skittles: Vinho Verde

peanut butter cup: Chardonnay

Almond Joy: Syrah

Mary Janes: throw them out

Please let me know what you think of my pairings and I hope you’ll add some of your own suggestions in the comments below. By the way, if you’re interested in trying some new wines, I have lists and suggestions on both my website (click here) and the “Wines” page of my blog (click here). I invite you to check them out and explore!

Until next week,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Amy Metz, Part 2

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Today on Reade and Write I welcome Amy Metz back to the hot seat. She’s been here before, back in June of 2015, to discuss her book Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction. She’s back now to discuss her newest release, Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction. For those of you who haven’t read any of Amy’s books, I highly recommend them. They’re chock-full of humor, mystery, and Southern wisdom. Good to have you back, Amy!

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Tell us about your new book.

Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction was released in May and is the fourth book in my humorous mystery series. The main characters are Wynona and Caledonia, two very different women, but two women who also have more in common than one might think.

How long did it take you to write the new book?

Forever. A least it seemed like it. Realistically, more like a year.

Do you write linearly, or do you write each scene separately and then piece them together like a puzzle? Or is there some other path you take to writing a novel?

I pretty much write linearly. Sometimes I write the first and last chapters and then fill in the middle, but I haven’t done that with the book I’m currently writing. Maybe I should try that.

Tell us a secret about one of your characters- something that’s not in the book.

Wynona has a mother who is a little crazy. Okay, a lot crazy.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Yes, the temperature has to be 74 degrees exactly. I need sweet tea with lemon, M&Ms—green only—and someone to rub my shoulders while I work. Just kidding. I don’t have any rituals that I can think of.

What time of day do you do your best writing?

Probably late at night.

Have you ever been on a writing retreat? And if so, where did you go?

I don’t know that you’d call it a retreat, but I went to the Mad Anthony Writers Conference (http://www.writelikemad.com/) in Hamilton, Ohio, a few years ago. I learned a ton and wish I could go to more of them.

Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

I’m working on book 5 in the Goose Pimple Junction series, Liars & Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction. I’m also working on a thriller titled Wax Man.

Tell us about the dedication in your new book, if you wish.

Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction was dedicated to a man named Robert, who I never actually met in person—we only knew each other online. I met him when I first started writing. He was the best beta reader I ever had and was instrumental in books one and two. He always had great suggestions, was brutally honest, and he kept me writing at times when I didn’t want to. I sent him chapters as I wrote them, and I think that immediate feedback helped me write faster than I do now. He passed away in January 2015 and never read Rogues & Rascals.

Do you prefer to read a physical book (with paper pages that really turn), or do you prefer an ereader, or perhaps audio books?

I actually read more audiobooks than any other form, because I listen to them in the car or when I’m puttering around the house. They also help me get to sleep. I like ebooks when I go somewhere and need to fill down-time while waiting for something or someone. But if you’re talking prefer, I prefer hardback books. I think each form plays an important role!

If you had an unlimited budget, is there something special you would do for your readers?

I’d love to be able to give away gift certificates to bookstores or even paperback copies of GPJ books. Right now it’s just not in the budget.

Remind us where we can connect with you.
Website: http://authoramymetz.com
Blog: http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmyMetz
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authoramymetz
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmyMetz

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Metz/e/B008NA07X4/ref=series_rw_dp_un

Where is the new book available?

All four books in the series are available on Amazon.com.

Links:
Murder & Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction: http://tinyurl.com/zz6vl2l
Heroes & Hooligans In Goose Pimple Junction:
http://tinyurl.com/z45l93p
Short & Tall Tales In Goose Pimple Junction:
http://tinyurl.com/zl8ovc3
Rogues & Rascals In Goose Pimple Junction: http://tinyurl.com/zy9p85r

Goose Pimple Junction Mysteries: http://tinyurl.com/gnclb9y

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Thanks so much for joining me on Reade and Write today!

Until next week,

Amy