Chatting with Jenny Kales

This is an exciting post for two reasons: first, because it is the first time we’ve had a cookbook author on Reade and Write (and everyone who reads the blog knows I love to cook and I love to eat). And second, because the author is none other than Jenny Kales, who has been here before and whose books are FABULOUS. She’s here to talk about her newest release, The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries Cookbook.

I have read the book and I loved it (you can read my full review here). It’s full of wonderful Greek and Midwestern American recipes, as well as some extra treats from the Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries, and I think you’ll love it, too.

Welcome, Jenny!

Congratulations on your new cookbook! I’m so excited to talk to you about it. Here’s my first question: have you always been a lover of Greek food?

Thank you so much! I’m so happy to participate in this interview with you. I have really enjoyed writing my new cookbook. Besides many new recipes, the cookbook contains new scenes as well as book excerpts from the series.  I hope my cookbook gives readers a little more insight into the characters and the series, besides providing some tasty new recipes to enjoy.

Regarding Greek food, I learned all about it from my husband who is a Greek-American. On one of our early dates, my husband took me to Greektown and introduced me to Greek food and the rest was history. I remember having the simple but very tasty dish, tzatziki (Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce) and feeling cheated I’d never had it before. It’s so delicious! Tzatziki is still one of my favorites and the recipe can be found in my new cookbook.

I’m intrigued by the idea of a supper club, which you note is commonplace in Wisconsin. Can you tell me more about them? Do they have memberships, or can anyone eat at a supper club?

Supper clubs are open to the public, and name refers to their hours of operation: any time after 4 pm, aka “suppertime.” They range from rustic charm to old-school elegance, but what they all have in common in that to attend one feels like an “event.” Supper clubs serve good, honest food like steaks, fish, chops and frequently, scrumptious homemade desserts. They also offer house cheese spread and “relish trays” aka crudité, served to every diner. What I love about supper club food is the same thing I love about Greek food: it’s simple, has bold, fresh flavors, and if done right, it’s just plain good.

Wisconsin supper clubs are also known for their classic cocktails, primarily the Brandy Old-Fashioned. Supper clubs often feature live music, always have a Friday fish fry, and are known as meeting places for friends and family to gather. However, their numbers are diminishing, so if you get a chance to visit one, go!

I know from reading your newsletters and various interviews that your husband and his family are great cooks and have inspired some of the recipes you include in your mysteries. Do you always run recipes by them before including them in your novels?

First of all, thanks for subscribing to my newsletter! I always run any new or “tweaked” recipes by the family before I include them in books. However, many of my recipes are my husband’s family recipes, and they are fabulous. So, they’ve already been given many trial runs, such as YiaYia’s Greek Meatloaf and many others. I have altered a few to my tastes and to modern health concerns, such as the spanakopita recipe found in my first Callie’s Kitchen book and in my new cookbook. I think the original recipe called for nearly a dozen eggs. It doesn’t need that many!

What is your idea of a perfect Greek celebration meal?

When you have a Greek meal, it’s always festive! But for a big celebration meal, I have to have a “pita,” aka a dish layered in baked phyllo dough, my favorite being spanakopita. At my house, we also love to have a huge Greek village salad, grilled meats and fish, Greek roasted potatoes, tzatziki and bread. For dessert, my deluxe Greek rizogalo (rice pudding) or Greek cookies with Greek coffee. P.S. A lot of people have asked me about baklava, one of the best-known Greek dishes, and why I don’t have a recipe for it in my books. The reason is that my oldest daughter has a severe nut allergy, so I don’t make it at home, and we don’t eat it at home. However, I love being able to introduce people to lesser-known Greek foods and I hope they enjoy learning about them and trying them.

Do you have a favorite recipe in the cookbook?

That’s a tough one because I love each one and I do make each recipe that I share in the cookbook and mystery books. If I have to pick one, I’ll choose the one I make the most and that’s the paxemathia, aka Greek biscotti flavored with ouzo (anise-flavored liqueur). My second favorite is spanakopita. And my third…just kidding, but it’s hard to pick just one.

I’m sure you have a vast repertoire of Greek and Midwestern recipes. How did you decide which recipes to put in the book and which ones to leave out?

To start, I included every recipe that is found in my mystery novels. I love choosing the recipes that go into the books because they often reflect the action in the mystery or on a character’s personality or behavior. Beyond those, I wanted to feature recipes that were easy to make, delicious (of course!) and that would directly reflect the spirit of the Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries. I also chose to include recipes that I make for my family. I view the cookbook as a peek not into just Callie’s Kitchen but also into my own.

Are you a see-what-tastes-good cook or a follow-the-directions-precisely cook?

If it’s a new recipe, I will try to follow it exactly and make changes later. However, I will confess that I’ve been cooking so long, sometimes I just “know” I’m going to want to add or delete something, or that the baking time needs to be adjusted. I guess you could say I’m a little bit of both.

Of all the foods Callie makes, which is Detective Ian Sands’ favorite?

I love this question! After a hard day of crime solving, he loves her comforting home cooking like the Greek Beef Stew with red wine in A Stew to a Kill. He also likes the Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake and the Loukoumades aka Greek drop doughnuts– two breakfast-type foods sold every day in Callie’s Kitchen. The sugar gives him energy what will most certainly a busy day in Crystal Bay.

Can you share what’s next for Callie?

Yes! Well, I had planned to have her travel abroad. I don’t want to say too much because there are some new scenes in my cookbook that deal with some breaking developments Callie’s life. Regarding having her travel, I considered the current situation with the worldwide pandemic and travel restrictions, and decided that I would still have her travel, because after all, this is fiction and she would have already left on her trip. I’m not sure how or if I will incorporate current events into the book. In the end, I will do what feels right for the story.

And what’s next for you?

I am on a second round of edits for a brand-new mystery with series potential. I really love the premise and characters, one of which is a more mature (retired) female sleuth who starts an online fan group and gets involved in a mystery! I hope to have that one out later this year. I am also turning 50 in May, which is prompting me to want to get busy with some projects I’ve been putting aside. Right now, I’m trying to get my current book finished and enjoying the unexpected time with both of my daughters, who are both home e-learning right now. One is in college and one is in her junior year of high school.

Where can readers connect with you?

I love to connect with readers! You can find me mostly on my Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/jennykalesauthor/ and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jennykales_author/?hl=en. I also publish a newsletter for readers, often featuring recipe exclusives, giveaways and more. You can sign up for that at this link or on my Facebook page. My website is www.jennykales.wordpress.com. Stop by and say hello!

Where can readers find your books?

You can find my books on Amazon, in both paperback and for the Kindle (click to be redirected). My Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries are free with a subscription to Kindle Unlimited. I am looking to expand into other formats, such as Nook and iBooks, so stay tuned!

Thank you, Amy, for such featuring me on your blog and for such great questions. I also want to thank the readers, who are so important to us authors, especially now.

It was my pleasure, Jenny. 

Until next time,

Amy

Chatting with Author Victoria Benchley

Today I welcome mystery and thriller author Victoria Benchley to Reade and Write. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the post and get to know Victoria and learn more about her books. She’s here to discuss her most recent release, The Marsden Murder Club: Swiss Revenge. 

Welcome, Victoria! With all that’s going on in the world right now, an escape to Switzerland in the pages of a great book sounds perfect.

Give us an overview of your new release, The Marsden Murder Club: Swiss Revenge.

Abandoned by her father at a young age and sheltered by an overprotective mother, Charlie Swain developed a unique skill set to ensure her emotional survival.  As an adult, she’s given the opportunity to learn about her deceased dad in exchange for employing her unusual talents within a secretive organization. But facing a serial killer was never part of the bargain, and she’ll learn that sometimes, it’s kill or be killed.

For years, the Marsden Murder Club quietly solved cold case murders.  After the public becomes aware of their success, members begin to drop like flies.  Putting their faith in new recruits could be their salvation or their demise.  Set against the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival and the Swiss Alps, The Marsden Murder Club is a gripping mystery suspense thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. Because when the hunters become the hunted, who can you trust?

 

Tell us about the inspiration for The Marsden Murder Club.

Years ago, I was traveling by train in Europe with my husband.  I observed the surrounding passengers during the journey and later revealed to my husband what the various people were about.  “That man who sat in front of us?  He’s having an affair on his wife.  That pair three seats up?  They’re professors.  Not married.”  As I gave him the rundown on the other passengers, Steve became gobsmacked.  I built the idea of analyzing or reading people (but at a much higher level) into this novel.

I’d also seen a news program over 20 years ago regarding a small group of laypeople who donated their time solving cold case murders.  Their leader was an older woman, and they’d experienced great success.  At the time, I thought it would be a great premise for a book.  Researching this series, I discovered a large real-life group of professionals who do the same thing, the Vidocq Society.  I give a nod to them later in the series.

 

As I understand it, you’ve written the next two books in the series.  Is that correct?  What are they called, and can you tell us about them?

Book two in the series, The Gallery of Ghosts, is currently available to preorder from Amazon.   Two years after Switzerland, the Club takes up another cold case, closer to home.  The son of a wealthy family from the Hudson River Valley is the victim of an unsolved murder.  But when the dead speak, you listen.  Again, one of my real-life experiences inspired this novel.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so let’s just say many of the characters return to find out less separates them from the here and now and the hereafter than they supposed.

Book three, Friends & Killers, is undergoing final edits and will be released soon.  This time, the Club decamps to New Hampshire to solve a case involving one of their own.  But, as some already know, your friends can kill you, and putting your faith in the wrong person can spell your demise.

You also write the Duncan Dewar Mysteries.  What made you switch from cozy-style mysteries to thrillers?

Picking a genre is always a tough thing for me.  I’d authored seven Dewar Mysteries and a related short story.  I guess I was ready for a change.  The Marsden Murder Club had been rolling around in my head for a while.  I’ve stayed true to myself which means the new series is clean, free of cursing, and devoid of unnecessary gore.

Do you prefer to write one style of mystery over the other, or would that be like comparing apples and oranges?

I seem to prefer whatever I’m currently working on.  Right now, that’s mystery thriller suspense.  Again, it’s easy for me to slip between the lines separating the different genres.  It’s something I struggle with.

 

Have you visited Switzerland?  If yes, would you tell us a little about it?  Switzerland is near the top of my Bucket List.  If no, what made you decide to set your new novel there?

Yes!  I’ve been to Switzerland twice (in the summer & the fall) and traveled through its various regions.  I went to Zermatt, near the base of the Matterhorn, because my grandmother had been there shortly after WWII and said it was her favorite spot in all of Europe.  This charming village allows no cars, so you must take a cog train to get there.  It’s gorgeous.  But do go prepared to spend! All of Switzerland is expensive.  Even McDonald’s is pricey compared to the States!

I’ve also been to the Jungfrau area, the country’s major cities, and various stunning alpine villages and beautiful lakes.  Most of the photos I use to promote the book on Twitter are my own.  Lausanne, where this novel takes place, is a fascinating city full of history that I’ve visited twice.  Several towns line the shore of lovely Lake Geneva in this area, including Montreux.  Nearby in Veytaux, you can tour Chillon Castle (featured in this book).  Chillon remains one of the most-visited castles in Europe.

Despite all the natural beauty, one must stay alert in Switzerland’s larger cities, including Lausanne. I have to say, one of the few places where I felt a bit unsafe in Switzerland at night was charming Lucerne.  It had a creepy feeling, and after that visit, I learned that it was a major drug capitol where one could observe used hypodermic needles between the cobblestones!  The Alps are often socked in with weather, so take appropriate clothing no matter the time of year.  We experienced snow in July and my son even went skiing!

 

Will you continue to write the Duncan Dewar Mysteries in addition to the Marsden Murder Club Mysteries?

I believe I have at least one more Duncan Dewar novel in me.  The plot is already rattling around in my head.  I’ve spent the last three years writing The Marsden Murder Club Series, so I’m not quite ready to tackle another at this time.

What’s next for you?

A writer friend suggested we team up and do a series of sweet romances.  About four years ago, I wrote a three-book sweet romance series under the pen name Violet Sparks, and something light sounds pretty good right now!  So, we’ll see if that gets off the ground.

 

Describe yourself in three words.

Funny (at least that’s what people say), empathetic (if someone’s crying, I usually cry with them), and Christian.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to do creative things.  I quilt, cook (I just wish I had a sous chef!), and paint.  Music has a role in our lives, as my husband is a former tympanist and jazz musician.  I enjoy watching sports, and I cannot get enough of a good book.  Spending time with family and friends also tops the list. I’ll admit that certain reality television programs remain a guilty pleasure.  I recently discovered Instagram and I find it a treasure trove of artistic inspiration.  We enjoy visiting our national parks, and any time I can travel, I count it a blessing.

 

What do you like to read?

I was raised on the classics, but my tastes run the gamut.  I love history, biographies, true crime, and atmospheric mysteries.  Almost anything.

 

Where can readers find your books?

My novels are all available on Amazon.  You can find links to them on my webpage at www.victoriabenchley.com.

 

Where can readers learn more about you?

Readers can sign up for my mailing list on my website at www.victoriabenchley.com by clicking the big green button.  My preferred reader group hears the latest news and receives special perks from time to time.  I recently sent Swiss chocolate to a few lucky members!  Those interested can also see my bio on the webpage and can take a look at my past blogs on taking tea at www.victoriabenchley.com/blog/.

In addition, my author central page on Amazon stays up to date with my books and blog posts.  You can follow me there at https://www.amazon.com/author/victoriabenchley.

I tweet about my books & those of other authors @vbenchley on Twitter. I haven’t had much time for Facebook lately, but you can also find me there at https://www.facebook.com/vbenchleyauthor/ where I’ve posted stunning pictures of Scotland.

 

Rapid Fire:

Tea or coffee?  Tea, with coffee a close second.  Have you experienced Nespresso?

Cats or dogs?  I love both cats & dogs

Sweet or salty? Sweet!

Beach or mountains?  Beach

Printed book or eBook?   eBooks are so convenient and take no space, but there’s still nothing like holding a real book in your hands. It’s a toss-up.

 

Thanks for visiting, Victoria! Before I sign off, I’d like to let readers know that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing The Marsden Murder Club: Swiss Revenge. I gave it five bright stars on Amazon. Click here to read the review. 

Until next time,

Amy

Chatting with Author Nancy Herriman

It is with great pleasure that I welcome my friend Nancy Herriman to Reade and Write today. Nancy is the author of the “A Mystery of Old San Francisco” series, the Bess Ellyott Mysteries, two standalone books, AND she has been awarded the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence in mystery and suspense. She’s here to talk about her upcoming release, No Quiet Among the Shadows, Book 3 in the “A Mystery of Old San Francisco” series.  I should note that I’ve read the first two books in the series and I can highly recommend them. I’m eager to read the new one!

And before I forget, at the bottom of the post there’s information about an opportunity to win prizes when the book launches on March 3, 2020!

Welcome, Nancy!

Tell us about your new book, No Quiet among the Shadows.

Here’s a blurb to give everyone an idea of what happens:

With the city’s Fourth of July celebrations in full swing, Celia Davies has stolen a moment away from her nursing duties to take in the festivities, but is stunned when she spots the one person she thought she’d never see again—her supposedly dead husband, Patrick. Moments later, the investigator who had confirmed Patrick’s death suspiciously falls from a high window, killing him. Celia begins to fear that the roguish man she married has returned to haunt her life once again.

Joining forces with Detective Nick Greaves to get to the bottom of the mystery, Celia is soon drawn into a murky séance group, where the voices of the dead suggest that everyone involved in the case is engaged in some sort of fraud or deception. Determined to discover which of them might be a killer, Celia and Nick will find themselves following a trail of clues that leads them down dark alleys into a shadowy tangle of spiritualism, altered identities, traumatic pasts, and secrets worth killing for . . .

Can you give us a recap of the first two books in the “A Mystery of Old San Francisco” series?

In the first book, No Comfort for the Lost, we meet Celia Davies, a widowed nurse who runs a free clinic for the poor women of San Francisco. When one of her patients mysteriously drowns, she fears the crime will go unsolved. Detective Nick Greaves, however, demands justice. Together, their search for the killer will take them from Chinatown to the Barbary Coast to the city’s gilded parlors. And entangle them both in a potentially fatal conspiracy.

Book 2, No Pity for the Dead, opens with the Irish orphan Celia has befriended finding a corpse buried in the basement of the place where he is employed. The husband of Celia’s closest friend becomes a suspect, and she turns to Nick to help find the true killer. The husband, though, is the detective’s old enemy. Nick and Celia must put aside their personal feelings about the case—and each other—to prevent the wrong man from hanging for the crime.

What kind of research did you have to do for this particular book?

I hate to give too much away, but I will mention that one of the characters in No Quiet among the Shadows is a spiritualist, and in the course of things, Celia ends up attending a séance. I had to dig into what typically occurred during a séance at this time period in order to make the scene as realistic as possible. While researching, I also discovered that the Spiritualism movement supported women’s suffrage, which I hadn’t known before. It added an interesting dimension to this character’s personality.

What was the hardest thing about writing No Quiet among the Shadows?

When I began work on this novel, it had been 3 years since the second book in the series, No Pity for the Dead, had been published, and I’d been writing my Bess Ellyott series in the meantime. That time gap meant I needed to reacquaint myself with all my characters and where I’d left their various stories. I also had to switch from writing from the perspective of a Tudor-era herbalist back to that of an 1860s English woman in America, which was harder to do than I’d expected.

Can you tell us what’s next for Celia Davies?

I am currently at work on the 4th book in the series, which will find Celia caught up in the mysterious disappearance of a local politician, the curious goings-on at a ‘water cure’ medical institute, and suspicion of revenge. It will be released in early 2021.

I love reading historical mysteries, so I’d also love to know more about your other series, the Bess Ellyott Mysteries. 

This series is set in the waning years of Elizabethan England. We meet herbalist Bess Ellyott in the first book, Searcher of the Dead. She has fled London after her husband’s murder and takes refuge in the countryside. A peaceful life until her brother-in-law, a prosperous merchant, is himself found dead, dangling from a tree, a rope about his neck. A supposed suicide, although clues suggest otherwise to Bess. However, she’s uncertain she can trust the town constable to help. Kit Harwoode, though, will cross members of his own family to uncover the killer…whose next target may very well be Queen Elizabeth I herself.

In the second book, A Fall of Shadows, a traveling player is brutally murdered outside Bess’s village, his body left atop the rumored site of a Druid temple. The same night, a bleeding woman seeking help collapses at Bess’s doorstep. Bess and Kit will work together to understand if the two events are connected, while struggling to keep the villagers’ growing fear that a witch’s black magic is at work from spinning dangerously out of control.

Are you in a critique group or partnership?

I was part of a critique group when I started writing, but I’m not any longer. I do, however, occasionally seek advice from my former critique partner, Candace Calvert, when I get stuck or need her expert opinion. I frankly believe I wouldn’t be a published author without her steadfast support and guidance. We writers need to stick together. It’s a tough business.

What is your favorite genre to read?

Perhaps not surprisingly, I enjoy historical mysteries and novels. I primarily read a lot of magazines, though. I think my attention span has grown too short to read books! My taste in magazines also leans toward ones that focus on history or archaeology, although I do have several cooking magazines on my bedside table right now.

What are your favorite movies?

Pretty similar to my taste in reading. However, I do really enjoy rewatching Harry Potter movies. I’ve also developed an interest in documentaries lately.

Describe yourself in three words.

outgoing, analytical, inquisitive

Where can readers connect with you?

My Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/nancyherriman.mysteries/)is the easiest place to interact with me. I am also at my website, http://www.nancyherriman.com/.

Where can readers find your books? 

Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble carry my books, along with some independent booksellers.

***

Readers, be sure to leave a comment below! Anyone who comments will be entered to win prizes at Nancy’s Facebook launch party on March 3rd!

***

Here’s Nancy’s impressive bio:

Nancy Herriman retired from an engineering career to take up the pen. She hasn’t looked back. A multi-published author, her work has won the Daphne du Maurier award, and Library Journal has said her ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series is “atmospheric (and)…just the ticket for anyone who misses Dianne Day’s ‘Fremont Jones’ series as well as readers of Rhys Bowen’s ‘Molly Murphy’ historicals.” She is also the author of the Bess Ellyott Mystery series.
When not writing, Nancy enjoys singing, gabbing about writing, and eating dark chocolate. She currently lives in central Ohio.
Thanks for being here today, Nancy!
Until next time,
Amy

 

Author Spotlight: Heather Weidner

Today I welcome Heather Weidner back to Reade and Write. Heather is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, and she’s here to talk about her new release, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband (book three in the series). If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you may remember Heather from previous posts in which she talked about the book To Fetch a Thief (here) and 50 Shades of Cabernet (here).

Congratulations on your latest release! Tell us a little about the book, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband.

Thank you so much for letting me visit your blog. I’m so excited about the third book in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. In this one, my sassy private investigator is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup tips in the process. She also uses her skills to track down missing reptiles and uncover hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.

 

People who have read the other two books in the Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series will know Delanie is spunky, smart, and courageous. For readers who aren’t familiar with the series, can you give a quick synopsis of each book?

In Secret Lives and Private Eyes, we meet Delanie and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, and his sidekick, Margaret the Wonder Dog. Delanie is hired by a tell-all author to locate eighties rock star, Johnny Velvet, whose career purportedly ended in a fiery crash almost thirty years ago. And as though sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Chaz Wellington Smith, III, a loud-mouthed, strip club owner, also hires Delanie to uncover information about the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz, is the key suspect. Now Delanie must clear his name and figure out why landscaper Tripp Payne, keeps popping up in her other investigation.

The Tulip Shirt Murders is the second in the series, and Delanie and Duncan are hired by a music producer to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs. Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads.

Pick one character from Glitter, Glam, and Contraband and tell us more about him or her—preferably something that’s not in the book!

In this mystery, Delanie is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a drag show in Richmond, VA. I had so much fun with the characters. Three of my writing friends planned a field trip, and we went to Godfrey’s in downtown Richmond for research. The queens found out that we were mystery writers, and they provided all kinds of anecdotes and ideas. The research and the brunch were so much fun.

 

I think my favorite new character is Tara Byte, computer application manager by day and glamorous entertainer by night. I enjoyed all the research for this part of the book, and it was so much fun to come up with these over the top characters and their names. My favorites are Ginger Snap, Paige Turner, the naughty librarian, and Nova Cain, the nurse.

What was the hardest thing about writing Glitter, Glam, and Contraband?

This is the third book in the series. I love the reoccurring characters. I want to make sure that I balance keeping the characters familiar and giving them an opportunity to grow. There is always that tight rope walk with keeping the characters as readers know them but giving them the chance to explore new things as life changes.

When I read the second book in the series, The Tulip Shirt Murders, I was impressed by your knowledge and/or research of roller derby! Is there anything surprising in this book that compares? Was it something you already knew about or something you had to research?

I do a lot of research. My Google history is frightening. Lately, it includes links to stolen art, knives, lidar radar guns, reptiles, and drag queen blog posts. I’m an 80s girl, and pop culture has always been a big part of my life. I can’t help but incorporate it in my writing. This book has makeup tips from the queens, some creepy reptiles (that research gave me the willies), and some stolen historical artifacts with a Poe connection.

What’s next for you?

I am working on a cozy series set in the mountains near Charlottesville, VA. I also write novellas that are part of the Mutt Mystery (dog-themed) series. My story, “The Fast and the Furriest” comes out in March.

What’s your favorite way to promote your books?

It’s hard to narrow that down. I am a huge consumer of social media. I love chatting and sharing books and mysteries with readers and talking with other writers. I really enjoy in-person events too. That gives me a chance to go to different places and meet readers.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

I love researching, planning, and writing. It is so much fun. My least favorite part is the revising. It’s key to the whole process, but to me it’s not as fun as the creative part.

Falcon Investigations, Delanie’s private investigation firm, is located in Richmond, Virginia, correct? I know you are well-acquainted with Richmond, so tell me this: did you make up locations in your story, take liberties with locations that already exist, or stick very close to the real thing?

I write where I know. I’m a Virginia girl who grew up in Virginia Beach, and we relocated to Central Virginia in the nineties. I include a lot of real places in my books and stories. In Glitter, Glam, and Contraband, readers will recognize many Richmond locales like VCU, the Poe Museum, the Library of Virginia, Short Pump, and the Valentine Museum. For crime locations, I make up those places and establishments. Virginia has so much to offer with its history, culture, and tourist attractions.

Now for some fun rapid-fire questions:

Coffee, tea, or some other beverage? Iced Tea or Dr. Pepper

Early bird, night owl, or something in between? Very early bird

Snacks: sweet or salty? Anything chocolate

Favorite season? It used to be summer, but now it’s fall. I love the cooler temperatures and the colors, especially after a sticky, southern summer.

Favorite color? Red

Where can readers find your books?

They can find them at their favorite retailer.

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes and Noble

BookBub

Kobo

Scribd

Where can readers find you online?

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner

Amazon Authors: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233/?trk=hp-identity-name

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner

AllAuthor: https://allauthor.com/author/heatherweidner/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyBjyB0zz-M1DaM-rU1bXGA?view_as=subscriber

Biography

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband is Heather Weidner’s third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

Synopsis of Glitter, Glam, and Contraband

Private investigator, Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in Glitter, Glam and Contraband. In this fast-paced mystery, the Falcon Investigations team is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup tips in the process. Meanwhile, a mysterious sound in the ceiling of her office vexes Delanie. She uses her sleuthing skills to track down the source and uncover a creepy contraband operation.

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband features a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations like helping sleezy strip club owner, Chaz Smith on his quest to become Richmond’s next mayor, tracking down missing reptiles, and uncovering hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.

 ISBNs

Paperback: 978-0-9994598-3-6

Ebook: ISBN: 978-0-9994598-4-3

 

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Cassidy Salem

Today I welcome Cassidy Salem to Reade and Write. Cassidy is the author of the Adina Donati Accidental Sleuth Mystery Series. She’s here today to talk about her latest release, Fit for Murder, the fourth book in the series. Welcome, Cassidy!

Congratulations on your latest release! Tell us a little about the book, Fit for Murder.

In the latest addition to the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Mystery Series, Adina is unable to restrain herself when it looks like someone has done in her Pilates instructor. So what if it was ruled an accidental death? She’s not convinced and sets out to discover the truth – with or without help from her favorite detective.

Tell readers about the first three books in the Adina Donati series.

The Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth mystery series features a young college graduate and her experiences living alone in Washington, D.C. Adina works at a think tank that focuses on public policy, where current issues (environmental protection, immigration, cybercrime, healthcare, and more) are a natural part of the agenda.

The first book in the series, Think Murder, introduces the reader to Adina and her world as she addresses the challenges of making it on her own in the city. Then, when a friend and colleague is murdered and she finds the body, Adina is drawn into the middle of a murder investigation.

At the start of Dying for Data, her romantic evening with a hot guy goes downhill fast when their dinner is interrupted by the scream of sirens and the arrival of Adina’s favorite detective. Although this is still a cozy mystery, the plot in this one touches on issues related to illegal immigration and crime in the city and the plot is a tad edgier than in other books in the series.

Killer Reputation takes the reader back to the cozier side of Adina’s life. When a colleague meets a violent death, Adina’s not convinced any of the obvious suspects disliked him enough to want him dead.

Tell us more about the main character of the series, Adina Donati: What is her job like at the think tank? What does she do in her spare time? Anything else we should know about her?

Adina is college graduate in her mid-20s who is determined to make it on her own. She works at the Drake Institute for Public Policy Research as an admin assistant. Not her dream job, but it does pay the bills.  And she has a great boss.

Adina is smart and talented, and kind. She has an independent spirit, but she is willing to accept help from others.  In her spare time, she volunteers at an animal shelter, and a different dog from the shelter is featured in each story.

What was the hardest thing about writing Fit for Murder?

Figuring out who the killer was.  I confess, I don’t outline – I just sit down and write with only a vague idea of where a story will go. I knew who I was killing but I only decided who the actual culprit was after I had written more than half of the book.

Did you stick to real places in Washington, DC, to set the story, or did you make things up? What did you keep? What did you make up? Do you prefer one setting to another?

Of course, the well-known locations in city are based on real places and landmarks.  Nonetheless, the smaller parks, pubs, restaurants and such are entirely fictional.  That said, Adina’s basement apartment is loosely based on the apartment I lived in when I moved to D.C. after graduating from college. Like Adina, it was all I could afford when I was unable to land my dream job.

What’s next for Adina Donati?

I have yet to decide exactly what will happen, however  I think it’s time to take Adina and Jonathan out of the city for a weekend in the next book. Who shall I kill off this time? Suggestions anyone?

Are you working on any other writing projects right now?

Yes. Together with Christa Nardi, I am currently working on The Midway Mystery, the fifth book in the Hannah and Tamar YA Mystery series.  The series features two teenaged sisters with a knack for solving mysteries.

What’s your favorite way to promote your books?

I enjoy connecting with readers and other authors on Facebook and other social media.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

I enjoy letting the characters tell me where they want to go and that “ah-ha” feeling when I have solved my own plot puzzle.

Where can readers find your books?

On Amazon, in paperback and digital editions. They are also available with Kindle Unlimited.

Where can readers connect with you?

Now for some fun rapid-fire questions.

Coffee, tea, or some other beverage?  Diet Coke.

Early bird, night owl, or something in between?  Night owl.

Snacks: sweet or salty? Sweet. Chocolate if possible.

Favorite season? Fall

Favorite color?  Blue

 

Author Bio – Cassidy Salem

Cassidy Salem has always been an avid reader. She is especially fond of mysteries (both cozy and traditional) and police procedurals. Over the years, her favorite mystery authors have included Agatha Christie, Kathy Reichs, Mary Higgins Clark, and John Grisham. When she’s not reading, she enjoys music and spending time with family and friends, and travels with her husband and son whenever possible. Her travels have taken her to destinations throughout the United States, Europe, and Scandinavia.

A member of Sisters-in-Crime, Cassidy is the author of the Adina Donati Mystery Series, which includes Think Murder, Dying for Data, and Killer Reputation. Cassidy co-authors, together with Christa Nardi, a YA mystery series, which includes The Mysterious Package, Mrs. Tedesco’s Missing Cookbook, The Misplaced Dog, and Malicious Mischief.

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Amy Metz

Today I welcome Amy Metz back to Reade and Write! It’s been a while since she was last here (in fact, it’s been since 2016! Here’s the post.), but I’m thrilled that she has a new book coming out and I wanted to share it with everyone!

Congratulations on your latest release! Tell us a little about the book, Liars and Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction.

Thank you! There are several liars in book five but the biggest is Virgil Pepper, a mayoral candidate who tries to woo Caledonia and every other woman in town. The reader finds out early in the book that he’s the murder victim, but the book goes back six months to tell what led up to his demise. There are a lot of suspects, a bunch of liars, and a few lunatics in the book.

People who have read the other four books in the Goose Pimple Junction series will know the stories are funny, smart, fantastic mysteries. For readers who aren’t familiar with the series, can you give a quick synopsis of each book?

Aww . . . thanks! Well, let’s see . . . Murder & Mayhem is about a 75-year-old cold case that newcomer, Tess, and her love interest, Jackson, attempt to solve.

Heroes & Hooligans features Lenny, a philanderer husband of Martha Maye. Following her divorce, she begins a budding romance with Johnny, the new police chief. Lenny and his brother are a couple of hooligans and Johnny is a hero.

Short & Tall Tales is a novella and short story compilation that gives some background information on some of the main characters.

And Rogues & Rascals is about two women—Caledonia, a Southern belle in a troubled marriage, and Wynona, a wannabe assassin—who prove that you can’t keep a strong woman down.

Pick one character from Liars and Lunatics and tell us more about him or her—preferably something that’s not in the book!

Virgil Pepper is based on a liar and a lunatic I knew in my personal life. There really are narcissists like Virgil in the real world, and I got quite an education and a lot of material from one in particular, much like Caledonia does in the book. Ironically, he used to tell me I should kill off my next fictional murder victim with a tennis racket. I took too much pleasure in doing just that to Virgil.

What was the hardest thing about writing Liars and Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction?

The middle part. I didn’t have trouble with the beginning and ending, but I was stuck for a long time on the middle. And often, once the middle part is resolved, it changes the beginning or ending. I listen to my characters’ voices in my head and try to stay out of their way.

Is Goose Pimple Junction based on a real place? If so, tell us about it. Did you stick close to the original in the story? Have you made changes to fit your story?

The town of Goose Pimple Junction in my head is loosely based on a small town in Alabama and the town of Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls. I’ve tried to stick to the original, but in this last book, I expanded the scope to a side street. Up until book five, most of the action has taken place on Main Street or in a neighborhood or the outskirts of town. I had fun adding Honeysuckle Street and the shops on that street in Liars & Lunatics.

What’s next for you?

Good question. I’m trying to decide whether to continue this series or do something new. While I’m deciding that, I think I’ll get back to work on a thriller I started several years ago called Wax Man.

What’s your favorite way to promote your books?

Blogs like yours! I’m very thankful for you giving me the opportunity. I just wish more book blogs would help out indie authors.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

I like the second round of writing when I have the base of the story down and I can go back and add dialogue and details. My least favorite is that darn middle part of the story. I always have trouble with that. How much detail do I include? Which scenes will be entertaining but also advance the story? Which ones are unnecessary and I should delete? How do the characters go about discovering the identity of the killer? What sideline stories will add to the book? And often the question ‘What do the characters want to happen next?’ is the hardest thing to flesh out.

 

Your covers are some of my favorites. I love the artwork. Can you tell us a little about the artist and how you came to choose that particular person?

Thank you! All five books are done by different artists. I commissioned Karen Mathison Schmidt for book one, and with just a little description from me, she nailed the Goose Pimple Junction in my mind.

For the second book, I wanted a Southern house for the cover, and I went searching online. John Charles Gibbs’ “Southern Home” was the exact house I had in my mind.

For book three, I found a painting of Ezzie, the basset hound in all five books, on Etsy by Anne Rackley Berenbrok.

I discovered the painting “Rainy Day” by “Emerico” Imre Tóth online and liked it so much I not only asked to use it on the cover, I incorporated it into a scene in the book.

And for book 5, I found artist Tamara Višković on Fiverr.

Now for some fun rapid-fire questions:

Coffee, tea, or some other beverage? Sweet tea with lemon.

Early bird, night owl, or something in between? Usually night owl.

Snacks: sweet or salty? Definitely sweet.

Favorite season? Fall.

Favorite color? Coral.

Thanks so much, Amy! You’re a peach.

And thank you, Amy, for being my guest today! Best wishes on the new release. I’ve got my copy!

***

LIARS & LUNATICS IN GOOSE PIMPLE JUNCTION

It’s election season, and there’s a new candidate in town. Virgil Pepper is determined

to take the job from Goose Pimple Junction’s long-time mayor. Virgil is a charming and

charismatic candidate but someone who will say anything (and mean none of it)

to get what he wants. Three things top his list: to become mayor, to acquire Jackson

Wright’s land, and to make Caledonia Culpepper one of his many conquests.

 

Wynona Baxter is back, and she’s a new woman. Now Daisy has a new identity, new life,

and new business-ironically named Killer Cupcakes. But the town soon finds out that

isn’t the only kind of killer in town. Book five of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series

combines political hijinks, delicious cupcakes, Goose Juice moonshine, the ups and downs

of finding true love, and, of course, murder.

 

It is said that “It’s a basic truth of the human condition that everybody lies. The only

variable is about what.” Lying in politics, lying for personal and professional gain,

lying about an identity . . . What are the folks of Goose Pimple Junction willing to

lie for . . . and what are they willing to die for?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WMZV27F

***

About the author:

Amy Metz is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. She is a former first grade teacher and the mother of two grown sons. When not writing, enjoying her family, or surfing Pinterest and Facebook, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other. Amy loves unique Southern phrases, cupcakes, and a good mystery. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Find out more at https://www.authoramymetz.com/

Connect with Amy here:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Pinterest

Amazon

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Patricia Gligor

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Patricia Gligor back to Reade and Write. She’s been a guest several times, and she’s here today to talk about her new release, Murder at Maple Ridge.

Congratulations on your latest release! Tell us a little about the book, Murder at Maple Ridge.

Thank you, Amy. And, thank you for inviting me to be your guest today.

Murder at Maple Ridge is the second book in my Small Town Mystery series. Kate Morgan attends a New Year’s Eve party at Maple Ridge, the home of Chad Hollingsworth, the man she’s been dating for over a year. Although Chad warns her “there will be a lot of drinking and drama” when his extended family gets together, neither of them expects there to be a murder.

Remind readers about the first book in the Small Town Mystery series, Secrets in Storyville.

When Kate stumbles upon a long buried family secret, she’s faced with a dilemma. Should she ignore what she’s learned? Or, should she reveal the secret, which could hurt the people she loves and which would change all of their lives forever?

Tell us more about the main character of the series, Kate Morgan: what motivates her to want to be a writer, what does she do in her spare time, etc.

Kate loves a good mystery. For years, she’s dreamed of writing a novel – and she finally has. But the similarities between her manuscript and what actually happens at Maple Ridge are uncanny – and unnerving.

When she’s not at her job, Kate divides her time between her eleven-year-old daughter, Mandy, Chad Hollingsworth and writing.

What was the hardest thing about writing Murder at Maple Ridge?

I’m a morning writer. That’s when I’m most productive. If I miss that window of opportunity, I lose a day of writing. Unfortunately, due to life’s circumstances, that happened several times when I was working on the book but, other than that, the writing went well. I’m a plotter and I always create an outline before I start to write. Granted, it changes as I write but it helps to keep the story flowing. I’ve tried being a pantser – just sitting down and writing off the top of my head – but that doesn’t work for me.

Is Maple Ridge based on a real place? If so, tell us about it. Did you stick close to the original in the story? Have you made changes to fit your story?

Yes. The fictional Maple Ridge is based on a house I’ve admired and been drawn to for several years. Every time I drove to one of our state parks about an hour from where I live – to swim, hike or just sit by the lake relaxing – I would see the house and think, “I wonder who lives there.” In my book, I created characters and a plot to answer that question. Although the description of the outside of the house is accurate, I adapted the inside to fit my story.

What’s next for Kate Morgan?

There will be a third book in my Small Town Mystery series and Kate will once again be the main character but that’s all I can say at this point. However, there’s a “hint” at the end of Murder at Maple Ridge, which will provide a clue as to what will happen in the next book.

Are you working on any other writing projects right now?

No. I’m a book-a-year writer and, although I have some ideas for my next book and I look forward to writing it, I’m currently in the “I need a break” phase of the writing cycle. It’s a chance for me to catch up on the many household chores I neglected while I was focused on the book.

What’s your favorite way to promote your books?

First of all, I tell everyone I know that I have a new book out. Secondly, I use social media to promote it. My favorite place to promote is Facebook but I also post on Goodreads, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and my books are listed on BookBub.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

My favorite part of the whole process is the actual writing. When characters and plot ideas spring to life. My least favorite is waiting with bated breath to see how my “baby” will be received by readers.

Now for some fun rapid-fire questions:

Coffee, tea, or some other beverage? Coffee.

Early bird, night owl, or something in between? Early bird – but not too early. LOL

Snacks: sweet or salty? Both but mostly sweet. I love chocolate!

Favorite season? Summer, well except for the high humidity.

Favorite color? Turquoise. All shades from aqua through teal. The color makes me think of the ocean, my favorite place to be.

Where can readers find you online?

Blog: http://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.gligor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PatriciaGligor

Amazon author page

     

 Thanks for visiting, Pat, and best wishes with your new book! I have it on my Kindle, and I’m eager to get started on it!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Andi Cumbo-Floyd

Today I welcome author Andi Cumbo-Floyd to Reade and Write. Andi’s books are not like the ones I typically have on my blog, but I have a feeling you’re going to find her work really compelling. She is the author of the new release, The Boy Who Could See Stars, and I’ll let her tell you a little more about it and her other books.

Congratulations on your latest release! Tell us a little about the book, The Boy Who Could See Secrets.

The book tells the story of 12-year-old Jedidiah Wilson and his imaginary friend Mavis, who is 63.  Jed has always been able to see things people wanted to keep hidden, and one day, he sees a figure in the woods and follows her. He then takes his first journey through time. When he returns, he fills Mavis in, and they begin a great adventure to save their new friends.

This is my first middle grade book, and I find that very exciting. I have a son who is a toddler, so I enjoyed imagining him as a 12-year-old – who is much like his dad – and thinking about reading this book with him when’s he’s older. Plus, Mavis is modeled after my mother, Ruth, who died when she was 63. I love to have the opportunity to imagine how she might be with her grandson.

Who is the audience for the book?

Anyone over the age of 8 or 9 or enjoys a story with a little history, a fair bit of magic, and a lot of adventure.

Tell me about the setting of The Boy Who Could See Secrets—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

Oh, that’s a great question. The book takes place on a fictional farm that is based on the farm my husband and I recently sold here in Central Virginia.  I got the idea for the book one evening while I was watching the treeline beyond our pasture, and so it seemed fitting to use the landscape of that place for this story. Thus, research was pretty minimal. 😉

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Because this was my first middle grade book, the hardest thing was making sure I kept the story appropriate for that age of reader – mostly in terms of style but also in terms of some content – while also not dumbing down the book. I was an avid reader as a child, and I hated when writers assumed I was dumb just because I was young.  I wanted to avoid that mistake if at all possible.

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

OOH, another great question.  For Mavis, I’d love to see Kathy Bates. I love her ability to be down-to-earth with characters, and she’s wickedly funny, just like my mom.  For Jedidiah, Noah Schnapp from Stranger Things would be a great choice.  He needs to be someone who can make us believe in magic.

Tell us about your other books.

I’ve written a YA magical realism series entitled Steele Secrets, which deals with history through the lens of magic, as well. Mary Steele can see ghosts, but only the ghosts of African American people who were killed in racially-motivated violence.  As she meets these long-dead people, she comes to understand that her small Virginia town’s history is complicated and that a lot of secrets need to be told in order for healing to take place.

I’ve also written a work of nonfiction about the people who were enslaved on the plantation where I grew up. The Slaves Have Names tells the story of 22 of those incredible people and my journey to get to know them.

Finally, I’ve written several books for writers, including Love Letters To Writers, which is a collection of 52 notes to give writers encouragement and accountability in their writing lives.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

You know, I’m not. But I am friends with a lot of writers, and I have great teams of beta readers who read all my work before it comes out to be sure its solid.

Do you write every day?

I don’t. I have a one-year-old, work full-time as an editor, and enjoy TV. But I do write five days a week whenever possible.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I love Margaret Atwood, Chaim Potok, Toni Morrison, Jesmyn Ward, A. S. Byatt, Marilyn Robinson, and Anne Lamott best of all.  In terms of genres, I read a lot of magical realism and fantasy since that’s what I write, and I’m going to be writing some cozy mysteries under a pen name starting later this year, so I’m reading a ton of those.  I do love literary fiction, though, too.

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

South Africa. Hands down.  Second up would be Moscow.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Only you can give yourself the time, space, and motivation to write. So do that. Don’t wait for it to happen for you. Make the time, create the space, encourage yourself. We need your stories.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Dead Poets’ Society. Robin Williams was a genius in that film, but I also loved the message about originality, about speaking truth, about the value of community, about grief and mental illness. And since I once was a teacher, I loved Mr. Keating as inspiration.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Forget what you’re supposed to do or supposed to be. Follow your heart. Let it guide you.

Describe yourself in three words.

Introverted, Passionate, Wild.

I know you recently sold your farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains and have moved to another home. I followed your posts on Instagram and other social media outlets as the move happened and I can’t think of a more beautiful setting to write books. 

We recently sold off the farm that had been my dream for many years in order to make our life as a family a bit more manageable and to give me more space to write.  We loved that little 15 acres and our animals, but now we live deeper into the Blue Ridge Mountains with our three cats and three dogs in a log house on a ridgeline. It’s a lovely space, much quieter and simpler than our farm life. It’s good for us, and it’s especially good for my creativity and writing energy.

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

I’d love to tell folks about the free, online writing community I coordinate. It’s a casual group full of writers to talk about all aspects of the writing life.  We’d love to have folks join us.  Details are at my website.

Where can readers connect with you?

I’m over at Andilit.com writing about writing, and you can find out about all of my books there.  I’m also on Facebook at facebook.com/andilitwriter, Twitter at twitter.com/Andilit, and Instagram at Instagram.com/andicumbofloyd.

Where can readers find your books?

My books are available wherever books are sold including indie bookstores, Kobo, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Plus, they’re readily orderable (is that a word?) by your local bookshop.

Thanks, Andi! 

Until next time,

Amy

 

Author Spotlight: Rebecca Phillips Dahlke

I just came back from the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival in Suffolk, Virginia, and it was wonderful, as always. I’ll tell you all about it next Tuesday.

But today I welcome author Rebecca Phillips Dahlke to the blog to discuss her newest book, A Dead Red Gamble, the latest in her Dead Red Series. Welcome, Rebecca!

I’m eager to know more about your books.

You know how they say to write what you know? Well, I ran my dad’s crop-dusting business for two years and thought readers might find this an interesting job for a woman sleuth.

The first three books in the Dead Red Mystery series are set in the central valley of California where Lalla Bains comes home to help her dad as he recovers from a heart attack.

In Book #1 her vintage red Cadillac, a trophy from a recent divorce, is found tail-fins up in a local lake with an elderly widow strapped in the driver’s seat, leaving Lalla dangling on the hook as suspect number one and her father in the cross-hairs of a killer.

Murder solved, romance blooming, Lalla promises to stay out of trouble, but much to her father’s dismay, Lalla Bains will continue to get more involved with murder and crime in Books 2 and 3.

In Books 4, 5 and 6, the entire family decamps from California to Arizona where, as it happens, I now live and write. For those who are familiar with Bisbee, Arizona, it’s a charming little town set on a hillside, and it’s also the county seat for Cochise County.  I changed the name to Wishbone as I didn’t fancy the idea of getting tarred and feathered whenever I killed off another city official in my books.

In my latest novel, A Dead Red Gamble, Lalla Bains and cousin Pearlie are struggling to gain a foothold as licensed private investigators. I started with an interesting, and I hope original, premise when a friend who was municipal county judge at the time, ruled that city residents could not keep chickens.

So how on earth would this become a mystery you ask?  It becomes a mystery when protestors gather outside the courthouse, someone pays two local kids to release a cage full of chickens into the courthouse lobby, and a killer uses the diversion to murder the judge. The why is what makes for a good mystery.  I enjoyed writing this book and I’m happy to say my readers seem to agree.

Courthouse interior

Lalla and cousin Pearlie aren’t the jaded, world-weary gum-shoe types of Dashiell Hammett fame. Don’t get me wrong, I loved his books, but my protagonists aren’t loners, they have family they love and trust and they hold onto hope for the best in people—even when those people try to kill them.

All of my books are available on Amazon Kindle and I have a monthly newsletter with deals and steals on books by authors I love to read, as well as raffles for goodies. I even give my readers a chance to be a character in my next book with a raffle. A fun way to be a bad guy/gal in fiction!

Here’re my links:

Website: http://rpdahlke.com

Contact me: rp@rpdahlke.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/RP-Dahlke/e/B004S2NJFO/

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4714290.R_P_Dahlke

Faceboook: https://Facebook.com/rpdahlke

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/r-p-dahlke

Thanks for visiting, Rebecca! Best wishes on your new book!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Colleen Mooney AND Anna Celeste Burke

If you’ve been reading my posts for the last couple months, you’ll probably remember hearing about a new boxed set of mysteries that comes out today. It’s called Summer Snoops Unleashed and it’s a collection of mysteries from 14 bestselling mystery authors. Proceeds from the sale of the set go to animal rescue charities, so it’s for a good cause. I’ve pre-ordered mine, and as I write this I am eagerly awaiting its arrival on my ereader.

Today I have TWO authors from the set, Colleen Mooney and Anna Celeste Burke. Welcome, ladies!

Please tell us about the story you’ve contributed to the Summer Snoops collection.

Colleen: The title I’ve submitted for this set is Fireworks, Forensics & Felonies. It’s set in New Orleans, my home, over the Fourth of July weekend. Our amateur sleuth and her boyfriend are on his sailboat on Lake Pontchartrain to watch the fireworks display when they witness a house fire on shore, followed by an explosion on the fireworks barge. Both the house and fireworks barge are owned by a couple who are friends with the main characters.

AnnaRadical Regatta! (Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery #4) features Kim Reed and Brien Williams, two characters that first appear in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series. They got hooked on figuring out whodunit while they were in the California desert near Palm Springs as members of the “Cat Pack.” The stories are told from Kim’s point of view.

Brien is a surfer dude with a passion for his new wife, food, surfing, and solving mysteries. He’s been hired as a security guard at the Sanctuary Resort & Spa. Kim was Jessica Huntington’s legal assistant and acquired skills doing background checks and digging into clients and suspects’ pasts. Before she turned her life around, she worked for a psycho Hollywood music producer where she became adept at recognizing dirty tricks and nasty secrets. She maintains guest records at the resort.

When they first visited Corsario Cove, it was their honeymoon destination. A dead Santa throws a hitch into their plans, they end up on the suspect list, and decide to find Santa’s killer. In Cowabunga Christmas! Kim and Brien also meet the local detective—Bernie Mitchum. As you can imagine, he’s thrilled to have Gidget and Moondoggie snooping into Santa’s murder.

In Radical Regatta!, rescuing a dog that’s swimming for its life beyond the cove draws Kim and Brien into troubled waters. As a crime wave hits Corsario Cove, they hope they can find out what’s going on before a Fourth of July Regatta turns deadly. When an infamous international thief turns up dead, it won’t be smooth sailing for anyone until these twenty-something sleuths solve the mystery behind the murder and mayhem.

Kim and Brien are the youngest, wackiest, and most impulsive of the sleuths in the five series I write. To be honest, they’re something of a tribute to my husband and me in our younger days. He wasn’t a surfer, but a rock musician. I grew up at the beach and loved the old Beach Blanket Bingo movies. I was underaged, and the police picked me up as a runaway after we eloped to Tijuana and got married. Young, wacky, impulsive, I’ll admit it now that we’ve been married almost 49 years.

Are there any specific things that tie the stories in the collection together? For example, are they all about dogs? Do the animals help solve the mysteries?

Colleen: My stories all have schnauzers in them. The main character is an avid rescuer of the breed.

Anna: All fourteen stories include a pet—mostly cats and dogs. My book has a dog plus another interesting animal character that I’ll keep secret for now. The pets play minor to major roles in solving the mysteries in each book. I hope you find all stories fun, funny, and fast perfect summer reads!

Is your story part of a series that you have released, or does it stand alone?

Colleen: This is book 7 in my series, The New Orleans Go Cup Chronicles.

Anna: Radical Regatta! can be read as standalone, but there are three books already published in the series: Cowabunga Christmas!, Gnarly New Year!, and Heinous Habits! I hope readers will check out the previous books in the series if they enjoy Radical Regatta!

I’ve put book one—Cowabunga Christmas! on sale all month as a Christmas in July 99c special. Readers who subscribe to my website  https://www.desertcitiesmystery.com can read book 2 in the series, Gnarly New Year! FREE.

Are the stories short stories, novellas, or full-length novels?

Both: The set includes a mix of novellas and novel-length cozy mysteries.

Do you have any pets at home?

Colleen: OMG yes, all the time. In addition to my schnauzers I may have one or two rescues I foster who are waiting to get adopted. I am a breed rescuer for Schnauzers! (You write what you know, right?) Anyway, about 17 years ago I found myself up to four schnauzers and realized I couldn’t adopt them all so I found a rescue group and volunteers for them. After some time, the founder had a family and I took over the group. Right now I’m up to 4 Schnauzers again!

Anna: Right now, I have one loud-mouthed, sweet and sassy, Siamese cat.

If so, what kind(s) of pets do you have and what are their names?

Clleen: Four Schnauzers. Their names are Maus – because he is small and about 6 years old; MoonPie Mooney-about 12/13 years old; Tweezer-about 6 years old; and Murphy Mooney- 14/15 years old. Tweezer and Murphy were rescues adopted by a wonderful lady who died unexpectedly, and I took them back. Tweezer is a special needs rescue in that she came to us blind, under a year old. Someone just left her out on the street to fend for herself. My rescue had a fund raiser and we replaced one eye with a lens so she had sight. Murphy is older and the lady had him several years before Tweezer. I don’t want to separate them because Tweezer keeps Murphy young! Her personality and playfulness really blossomed after she could see. They both have been an amazing addition to our family.

Anna: Coco is a Seal point Siamese with a light-colored coat and dark, chocolate brown points. He’s a very affectionate cat and loves to cuddle, but he has one of the loudest mouths I have ever heard. He’s the model for Miles, one of Georgie Shaw’s Siamese kitties in the Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series. Like Miles, named for Miles Davis, Coco’s voice carries like a trumpet blast.

Did you have pets growing up?

Colleen: My dad loved dogs and he would tell my mother he “found” one and bring it home. My earliest memory is of a big Chow his sister gave us because she couldn’t take care of it any longer. I was maybe two years old and remember him. We had Beagles, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Chihuahuas (my mother’s choice) and a couple of mutts. My first dog as an adult was a Schnauzer mix named Cricket Ann. She had the attitude of a Schnauzer and I fell in love with it.

Anna: Oh, yes! Cats, dogs, mice, tadpoles raised until they became frogs, and a rabbit named Debbie that would beg at the refrigerator. Since I’ve been married, my husband and I have owned lots of cats—sometimes 4 at a time! We also owned a Chow dog for years and an iguana. The iguana got away when two cats let him out while we were at work. When I opened the door, the iguana ran for it into the orange grove nearby.

Tell us how the authors settled on the charities that will receive the proceeds from the set.

Colleen: As a group we submitted names of rescues and shelters and voted on them. Those of us who submitted a shelter wrote up something we knew about them to share with the others.

Anna: There are three no-kill shelters that we hope to help with the money we raise from presales of Summer Snoops Unleashed. Each of these shelters also has a special interest in finding homes for senior pets and/or pets with special needs.

The box set is only 99¢, which we hope is affordable to cozy mystery readers, but we only get 35¢ in royalties. We must sell lots and lots of books to help the wonderful people who work so hard to rescue pets and take care of them until they find fur-ever homes.

The 13 other Summer Snoops Unleashed authors and I are working with three wonderful shelters this year. The Streetdog Foundation in Memphis, The Northshore Humane Society located north of New Orleans, and Home ‘Fur’ Good near Phoenix, Arizona.

Do you ever volunteer at a local animal shelter?

Colleen: I was on the Board of Directors for the Northshore Humane Society years ago when I lived on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. I have since moved back to the New Orleans side of the lake.  I did fund raising for the shelter at that time when I was a lot younger.  Now, I pull schnauzers from the local shelters when they call me to take into rescue and find a suitable, fur-ever home for.  It’s hard to go to the shelter and only take one dog.

Anna: No, but most of the cats I’ve owned over the year have been “rescues.” My husband and I have taken them in to keep them from going to shelters. Sometimes these sweeties had a problem or two, but they all turned out to be wonderful cats.

If any readers are interested in donating to their local animal shelter, what items do you suggest, or is a monetary donation a better choice?

Colleen: If you are close to a shelter, they can always use newspapers and blankets. A monetary donation is what is most needed. Northshore Humane Society is a very old shelter and they are in the process of trying to build a newer, more modern facility where they can provide more veterinary services. They are a shelter that constantly improves what they can do for animals.

Anna: Shelters are always desperate for money, but they can also use volunteers and foster families to give pets a break from shelter life or take in pets when the shelter runs out of room. Links to each of the shelters we chose can be found on our website if anyone wants to know more about them: https://www.summersnoops.com.

If there’s anything else you’d like to add, please feel free!

Colleen: If you’d like to see or follow Schnauzer Rescue here we are: website: https://www.nolaschnauzer.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/NOLASchnauzerRescue/ or www.colleenmooney.com for my website and books or https://www.facebook.com/colleen.mooney.716 on Facebook! THANK YOU!

Anna: Thank you so much for letting us share the news about our Summer Snoops Unleashed box set. We hope visitors to your site will buy a copy for themselves and gift one or two to a friend or family member. At 99¢ this is a great deal for a wonderful cause and are purr-fect summer reads for cozy mystery fans. And, of course, your readers are invited to visit my website, noted above.

Readers, there’s a special pet cookbook available for FREE download as part of the Summer Snoops Unleashed collection! Just click this link to check it out!

Until next time,

Amy