Happy Birthday, Dead, White, and Blue!

The day is here: the release of Dead, White, and Blue! Many of you have pre-ordered it and it should already be on your ereaders. If you ordered a paperback, it’s on its way if it isn’t there already! And if you get my newsletter, you’ll be receiving an email remarkably like this post…

Here’s what the book is about:

Summer is getting hotter in Juniper Junction, Colorado.

There’s a firebug on the loose, the townspeople are nervous, and Lilly Carlsen, single mom to two teenagers, has even more to worry about. She’s in charge of the Independence Day celebration, her mother’s mental health is declining, and her son is getting ready to leave for college.

But things are about to get even hotter: when a bistro owner dies at the celebration and Lilly’s best friend is charged with murder, events start hitting close to home. It’s up to Lilly to help clear her friend’s name while at the same time dealing her mom’s worsening forgetfulness as well as a coming-of-age issue under her own roof.

If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, here’s where to go to snag your own:

Amazon

Nook, iTunes, Kobo

Many thanks if you’ve already bought the book. And please remember, reviews are so important to authors. Please leave a review of every book you read!!

And if you’re on Facebook, head over to Cozy Town Sleuths here and if you haven’t joined, ask to join. I’m going to be taking readers on a virtual tour of Juniper Junction until Friday!

Until next time,

Amy

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Author Interview: Summer Prescott

Today I welcome prolific USA Today bestselling author Summer Prescott to Reade and Write. Summer has written The Key West Culinary Cozies, the INNcredibly Sweet Cozies, and the Cupcakes in Paradise Cozies, to name just a few of her many series. Today she’s here to talk about Criminals and Coral, the first book in her Cozy Tales of a Professional Mermaid series.

Welcome, Summer!

Tell me about your new book.

Criminals and Coral is actually a traditional cozy mystery, with a bit of a non-traditional main character. Shelby is a professional mermaid. There’s no fantasy or mythology involved, she merely shimmies into a silicone-based mermaid tail to entertain visitors to aquariums, theme parks, beaches, etc…and somehow manages to find herself caught up in more than her share of amateur sleuthing.

Who is the audience for the book?

This book would be a great fit for anyone who loves a good mystery and is looking for a refreshingly new perspective. Animal lovers, foodies, crafters and more will love it – all of those main cozy elements are represented, and are set in a backdrop of friendship, family and fun.

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?

The setting is in a fictitious beach town in Florida, that is loosely based around the tourist attraction of Weeki Wachee Springs, where mermaid shows are a feature. I reached out to the Public Relations Manager of WWS for some of the research that went into the book.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

The writing of the book was actually the easy part. Co-writer Gretchen Allen and I loved the creative process. What we’ve found challenging is overcoming public perception that the book is about mythical mermaids, rather than a spunky gal from the Midwest.

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

I think Reese Witherspoon would be a great mermaid, and maybe Channing Tatum for her love interest and fellow sleuth.

How many other books have  you written?

More than 100. I’ve lost count at this point, lol.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I belong to several author groups and find them inspiring and informative.

Do you write every day?

I try to write every day…but unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way. I’ve found that it’s best to strike a balance. We only go around on this planet once, I want to make the most of my time here.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I love mysteries and thrillers. Right now my mostly harmless addiction is Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series, but I sometimes rock it old school with a healthy dose of Mary Higgins Clark, Janet Evanovich, or, if we’re going waaaaay back, Stephen King.

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

I’d love to visit Europe again, as an adult. I lived there when I was a child. Africa, Australia, Asia and various tropical islands are also high on the list.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write. Then write again, then write some more. I’ve seen so many hopeful writers who become so overly involved with the trappings of writing and the dream of being a writer, that they actually neglect to write. I’d also say that it’s helpful to analyze one’s goals from the outset. Your approach to writing could be different, depending upon whether you want to do it as an expression of your soul vs. as a full-time career (the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive). Goal-setting is huge, and frankly, so is having a thick skin. Not everyone will love your work and that’s okay. Sometimes we have to take a gut punch from a review, pick ourselves up and just keep on trucking.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I couldn’t possible narrow that down, lol. My movie tastes range from drama to chick flicks, action/adventure and Indie art films. I do love the cheesy ‘brat pack’ John Hughes movies from the 80’s – “Pretty in Pink,” “Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller” – those are all great escapes that I indulge in every so often.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

You’ve got the dreams, now put action to them.

Describe yourself in three words.

Introverted, compassionate, hopeful.

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

No – great questions!

Where can readers connect with you?

https://www.facebook.com/summer.prescott.58

https://twitter.com/SummerPrescott1

https://www.instagram.com/summer.prescott.cozies/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCngKNUkDdWuQ5k7-Vkfrp6A

Where can readers find your books?

Amazon

Thanks for visiting, Summer!

Until next time,

Amy

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

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

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into April (how is it already April??) with a smile.

The story I’ve chosen for this month is about a man from New England who came up with a brilliant way to recycle plastic and polystyrene cups. Many thanks to my friend Carol Thompson for making me aware of this story. As a resident of a beach community, I find it especially useful and interesting.

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, Sylvia McGrath, Belinda Witzenhausen, Dan Antionand Damyanti Biswas.

 

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

 

Podcasts for Readers

photo courtesy of stokpic, pixabay

Have you ever tried reading and exercising at the same time?

It’s not easy.

I’ve tried reading books on the treadmill and the spin bike, and I usually end up putting on music or turning on the television because either the book or the Kindle falls on the floor or the sweat in my eyes prevents me from seeing anything. I have to do something or I’ll get bored.

Recently I’ve turned to podcasts. If you’ve heard any good podcasts recently, you know they’re great for those times when you want to be engaged, entertained, and hands-free.

I thought I’d compile a short list of some of the podcasts I’ve enjoyed. Give them a try next time you’re using your headphones or driving (not all cars will have that capability, though) and by all means, share your favorites in the comments below!

1.  Mystery Rat’s Maze Podcast by Kings River Life Magazine (KRL). This podcast comes out about twice a month and features a mystery short story or the first chapter of a mystery novel. It’s a great way to sample a book before deciding to buy it or borrow it from a library. Each podcast is narrated by an actor or actress from California’s San Joaquin Valley. Click here to be redirected to the homepage of KRL’s podcast.

2.  Death in Ice Valley by the BBC World Service. Back in 2018, a BBC documentary maker teamed up with an investigative reporter from Norway to try to figure out the identity of a woman who died in the Isdalen Valley (also called Ice Valley) of Norway in 1970. Through a series of ten podcasts, the two investigators travel throughout parts of Europe, following clues wherever they lead to discover where the woman may have come from, for whom she might have been working, and why she may have been in Norway at the time of her death. Click here to be redirected to the podcast.

3.  BBC World Book Club by the BBC World Service. In this monthly podcast, some of the best-known authors in the world discuss their best-known books. The show doesn’t focus on any particular genre–they’ve had fantasy, thriller, memoir, you name it. Click here to be redirected to the home page.

4. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine has a podcast archive of over a hundred shows featuring readings and dramatizations from some of the best suspense writers in the world. Check out their offerings here

The next one is a website compilation of great podcasts for readers of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels.

5. Bustle.com 

6. Fiction by The New Yorker. In each podcast of The New Yorker: Fiction, a different author is chosen to pick a story from the magazine’s archives to read and discuss. Click here to check out what this podcast has to offer from the eclectic collections of The New Yorker.

photo courtesy of milyoung23, pixabay

Until next time,

Amy

Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend Schedule

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For anyone in the upper Midwest or anyone planning to travel to the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 26-18, 2019, I thought I’d use today’s post to share the schedule of events with you.

This promises to be a great weekend with LOTS of readers, LOTS of books, LOTS of authors, LOTS of prizes, LOTS of giveaways, and LOTS of fun.

Friday morning/afternoon (4/26):

10:00 a.m.-2:50 p.m.: Author/Reader BINGO (3 sessions)

Cost: FREE (there will be an opportunity to purchase boxed lunches)

Friday night:

6:30-9:00: Author Q&A (I hear this can get a little rowdy), followed by Author Meet & Greet

Cost: FREE

9:00: Romance Jeopardy!

Cost: FREE

Saturday morning/afternoon (4/27):

10:30 a.m.: Author/Reader luncheon (goody bags and door prizes!!)

The keynote speaker is actress and author Meg Tilly (squeeeee!)

Cost: $75.00 (click here) for tickets

3:30-4:30: Book signings

Cost: FREE

Saturday night:

5:30 p.m.: Pizza party

Cost: $15.00

7:00 p.m.: Author party (readers and authors join forces to win prizes for the readers)

Cost: FREE

Sunday morning (4/28):

8:30 a.m.: Author/Reader breakfast (maybe….more goody bags and more door prizes!)

The lawyer part of me feels compelled to say that this schedule is subject to change, but I doubt it.

If you want to read more about the event, I invite you to visit the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend website. Click here to be redirected.

I know there’s some room at my table for Saturday luncheon and Sunday breakfast, so please come! I’d love to meet you or see you there.

Until next week.

Amy