Last Tuesday Book Round-Up and Barbara Vey Recap

I just got home a few hours ago from the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend (BVW19) and I am exhausted and still over the moon! The trip took a little longer than we planned, so when we pulled into Harrisburg, PA, at 2:30 this morning, we stopped and slept at a Hampton Inn for six hours before getting back on the road.

What an incredible experience BVW19 was! From the moment we arrived on Thursday afternoon until Sunday morning at 11:00, I was busy with events every waking minute. My favorites were the Saturday luncheon and the Sunday breakfast because I got to meet with readers in a small group. What a treat it was to spend the weekend with so many people who are passionate about books. I’d like to thank Barbara Vey and her team for the endless amount of hard work they put it to make the event so memorable and fun, and I’d also like to thank the readers for showing up and being so supportive and eager to learn about new-to-them authors. And don’t even get me started on meeting Meg Tilly, the keynote speaker and an acclaimed writer/actress/screenwriter/producer. It took me two full days to get up the courage to talk to her, but it made my day when I finally did.

I’ll be posting photos from the event on my Facebook page, so be sure to check them out!

I find that April tends to be a very busy month. For that reason, I didn’t get as much reading done as I had hoped. I finished three books, and I loved all of them. I know, I sound like a broken record, but I seem to have a knack for picking out great books.

Deadly Southern Charm, edited by Mary Burton and Mary Miley, is an anthology of short stories set in the South and featuring strong Southern women. If you read this book, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll love it. Full disclosure, I am friends with several of the authors, but I would love this book no matter what. Here’s my Amazon review:

“This was a spooky, fun, and thoroughly Southern collection of mysteries. Each one was so unique and so different from all the others that every time I should have closed the book and gone to bed, I would say to myself, “Just one more story.” So I lost a lot of sleep thanks to Deadly Southern Charm, and I’d do it again because it’s so much fun to read. Kudos to all the authors for such great writing.”

A Dangerous Mourning and Defend and Betray, books 2 and 3 in the William Monk mystery series by Anne Perry, were fabulous. A Dangerous Mourning had an ending that caught me off guard, but I realized after some thought that the ending was the only one possible. Defend and Betray deals with a pretty tough topic, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it once I figured out what was happening. But I did, and I ended up giving both books 5 stars. They’re completely different from each other, which is a hallmark of a great mystery writer.

I’m off to clean out my email and get some sleep!

Until next time,

Amy

Advertisements

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into May with a smile.

The story I’ve chosen for this month is about pollinators. As you’ll read in the story, pollinators are responsible for one-third of all the food humans eat. And if you’ve been following the news in recent years, you’ll know there has been a huge die-off of bee colonies. Now backyard gardeners, among others, are banding together to create pollinator-friendly gardens and their ranks are growing by leaps and bounds. I am taking this article to heart and my family will be joining the one million-plus people helping pollinators to do their job.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

These are the cohosts for this month: Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet UppalPeter NenaLizbeth Hartz, and Eric Lahti.

 

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

Author Interview: Cindy Davis

Today I welcome author Cindy Davis to Reade and Write. I met Cindy on Twitter and was drawn first to the descriptions of her mysteries. As I learned more about her, I found that she also writes non-fiction books on topics ranging from self-editing to online dating to small dog breeding and more. She is originally from New Hampshire, but now enjoys living in Florida. So let’s get started.

Tell me about your mystery books.

A Little Murder is the first of my 6-book series set at Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. Angie Deacon is a high-maintenance ER nurse who buys a day of fishing for her husband’s birthday. A murder on the boat causes her to learn things about herself that were probably better off not brought out in the open.

Who is the audience for the series?

I write very complex plots with lots of twists and turns, so people who enjoy that sort of thing like my stories. I’ve never had anyone say they knew whodunit. Well, except that one person who said they knew on the first page, which was impossible because the murderer didn’t show up that early.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

I lived in New Hampshire at the time. I loved the Lakes Region with its beautiful scenery and small town charm. The setting provided many unique places to set murders. When I say that in mixed company (authors and regular people) I get a mixture of reactions. I was on the craft fair circuit and spent a lot of time there.

What was the hardest thing about writing the A Little Murder?

Deciding to add a police detective. When I set up the series, I determined it would be different from mysteries you buy at the bookstores—the books where you can tell the killer by page 5. I didn’t want police or a detective because they appear in all the stories. But by the time the murder happened in A Little Murder, I’d realized I needed someone to play off Angie—someone who could provide her with legitimate information by which to solve crimes. Detective Colby Jarvis was born. He’s a bit overweight and balding, a widower who works to keep from having to think about his life.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

I can’t really answer this because I don’t watch television and I see very few movies. Although I always envisioned Cameron Diaz as Angie. FYI, the series is currently with a scriptwriter for submission to TV.

Have you written any other books?

I have a three-book cozy mystery series which features two thoroughly opposite women Phoebe (don’t call me that unless you have a death wish) Smith & (ex-Susie Homemaker) Westen Hughes. They are high-end insurance investigators. I developed this series to get away from murder mysteries and have some fun. I also have two stand-alone mysteries and two women’s fiction. See links below.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I belonged to a writers group for more than ten years. It was the best thing I ever did for my writing development. We ended up being good friends. The group only disbanded because three of us moved away. The right group can provide mentoring, education, and lifelong friendships.

Do you write every day?

Pretty much. I’m also an editor and sometimes my day job gets in the way. I’m currently working in a whole new genre—New Age. The first book is co-authored with my husband and is with our agent now.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I don’t really have a favorite genre. I enjoy any book that’s well written. Consequently, I have a number of favorite authors. A British author from the 70s, Ruth Rendell does amazing development. Ken Follett and James Michener feature amazing plots. Sandra Brown’s mysteries and Melinda Leigh’s emotion. I especially enjoyed Gone with the Wind because it incorporated adventure, history, romance, and even humor.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

Rick and I have a ginormous bucket list. We’re going to Macchu Picchu, Peru, in December. Book three in the New Age trilogy will be set there, so it’s as much research as fun. We’re checking prices to Italy right now. Since I’ve already been there, I think my biggest bucket list item is to ride the Orient Express.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Two things. Never think you’re done learning. Keep striving to improve your writing skills. And second, get your book edited. Not by an English teacher. I know I’ll take some flack for this and I agree that teachers are awesome for punctuation and grammar, but they aren’t trained in story development or the fine-tuning it takes to bring your story to the next level—things like filter words, head hopping, and show don’t tell.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I stopped watching television and movies many years ago but I guess I’d say Romancing the Stone with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. I liked the quirky humor and adventurous, unique plot.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Gosh, so many things. I guess I’ll stick with the topic of writing and say I wish I’d started honing my craft earlier in my life.

Describe yourself in three words.

Youthful, curious, sarcastic.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

Where I met my husband: Match.com. LOL. Just kidding, but I always like to talk about that. But no, your questions really made me think.

Where can readers connect with you?

I hang out on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Bookbub.

Where can readers find your books?

My books are on Amazon and my website.

Thanks so much for having me here. It was great fun.

And thank you, Cindy. It was lovely having you here. 

Until next time,

Amy

A New Book! No–Two New Books!

Ahem, I have an important announcement.

Trudy’s Diary is out today!

A few people already have paperback copies in their hands, and I hope they are enjoying it. For those of you who may be sitting at my luncheon table at the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend on April 27th in Milwaukee, WI, here’s a hint: don’t go out and buy a copy! There might just be one in a certain goody bag that awaits your arrival.

But for the rest of you, by all means go out and pick up a copy! I think you’ll like it. It’s not Gothic or cozy like most of my other books, but it is a contemporary mystery and does have the one thing that runs through all my books: murder! And in Trudy’s Diary there is not one but TWO murders (and–gasp–maybe even three) to solve.

Here’s where you can get your copy:

Kindle

Amazon paperback

Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Angus & Robertson

And as always, many thanks to everyone who has ordered a copy already!

* * *

But wait! I told you there were two books out today! The second one is called Deadly Southern Charm…and I didn’t write it. But it’s a book of short stories written by a group of people that includes a number of my friends, and I love it. I would say that even if I didn’t know a bunch of the authors.

The book is a collection of mysteries with a Southern theme. They take place in the South, they feature strong Southern women, and they embody the things that make the South unique–like dialects, sense of place, and family connections. You’ll like this book, I’m sure. I won’t tell you which story is my favorite, but let me say this: it was hard to choose because they’re all so good.

Here’s where you can snag a copy, y’all:

Amazon paperback

Have a great week!

Until next time,

Amy

 

First Tuesday Recipes for April

Monte Cristo sandwich

Spring is finally here! I intended to share recipes this month starring strawberries and asparagus and lemons, but then I got looking through my recipe files and these are the ones that caught my eye. I’ve got three main dishes for you this month–two with chicken, one with beef. I hope you’ll try them and let me know what you think.

Chicken-Rice Salad with Cashews

My sister gave me this recipe years ago and everyone likes it.

3 c. chicken, cooked and diced

1/2 c. celery, diced

2 green onions, sliced thinly

2 c. cooked brown rice

1/2 c. mayo

1/2 c. plain yogurt

1 T. lemon juice

1 t. honey

1 t. salt

cashews

Combine chicken, celery, and rice in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, honey, and salt. Mix well.

Pour dressing over chicken and toss lightly to coat. Cover; chill for two hours before serving. Add the desired amount of cashews just before serving. Delicious on naan or over salad greens.

 

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

8 slices thick white bread

8 slices deli chicken

8 slices deli ham

4 slices Swiss cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 c. milk

dash salt and pepper

powdered sugar

cherry preserves

Preheat griddle to medium-high.

On each of four slices of bread, layer two slices of chicken, two slices of ham, and one slice of cheese. Top with second piece of bread.

In a shallow bowl mix the egg, milk, and salt and pepper. Holding the sandwiches carefully, dip each in the batter and place them on griddle. Lower heat to medium.

Cook sandwiches until golden brown and cheese is melted. Before serving, lightly sprinkle each sandwich with about a teaspoon of powdered sugar. Serve hot with cherry preserves.

 

Pepper Steak

1 – 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak, cut into narrow strips

2 T. oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1/4 c. soy sauce

1 t. sugar

1 c. bean sprouts (optional)

10 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)

1 c. canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 green peppers, cut into strips

1 T. cornstarch

2 T. cold water

In a large skillet, brown steak in oil. Combine with garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and sugar in crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Switch crock pot to high, add sprouts/mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers. Dissolve cornstarch in water and stir into pot. Cook 25 minutes longer. Note: you may want to add more time to cook the vegetables if you like them soft.

Serve over rice or egg noodles.

Enjoy! And remember, please send in your own recipes to share!

Until next time,

Amy