Author Spotlight: Nancy Herriman

Nancy Herriman

Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Nancy Herriman to Reade and Write. Besides being a great singer, Nancy is a fabulous mystery author who pens the “A Mystery of Old San Francisco” series and the Bess Ellyott Mystery series. She’s joining me here today to talk about her upcoming release, No Darkness as like Death, book 4 in the ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series.

No Darkness as like Death (A Mystery of Old San Francisco Book 4) by [Nancy Herriman]

If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you might remember that Nancy has been here before. She talked about the third book in the San Francisco mysteries, No Quiet Among the Shadows, here. And I highly recommended the first two books in the series, No Comfort for the Lost (here) and No Pity for the Dead (here).

I think it’s obvious that I love Nancy’s books. I’ve preordered No Darkness As Like Death and I’m looking forward to its arrival on my ereader on April 6, 2021.

Welcome, Nancy!

The books in your ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series takes place during a specific time period in San Francisco’s history (late 1860s). Why did you choose this particular period? Were there other time periods you considered? Why did you decide not to go with one of those?

The specific year my books are set in—1867—happened by chance. I’d been researching various events during the Victorian era and came upon an article about the beginnings of the anti-Chinese movement. The article gave me the idea for the murder that occurs in Book 1, No Comfort for the Lost, and dictated the year.

Can you give us a quick recap of the first three books in the series?

I’ll try! My main sleuth is Celia Davies, an English nurse who has taken over the care of her orphaned niece. Celia’s husband has left her to find riches elsewhere, and she turns to running a free women’s clinic in the city. She becomes involved in solving murders when one of her Chinese patients is found dead in the bay. She expects the police won’t be interested in discovering who killed the young woman, given her ethnicity. Surprisingly, Detective Nicholas Greaves is keen to see justice done. After that murderer is uncovered, Celia has no plans to continue sleuthing. But when a dead body is found in the basement of a close friend’s business, and the friend is suspected, she insists on getting involved in the case. In the next book, the private investigator she’d hired to locate her husband is killed, an investigation that entangles both her and Nick in the world of spiritualism and seances.

What kinds of resources did you use to research this book?

Fortunately for me, there is a great deal of reference material available online for San Francisco in specific and California in general. I’ve used archived newspapers, digitized books—especially when researching some of the details about the ‘water cure’ and how photography was practiced at this time—online maps and miscellaneous other items. Research has become much simpler in the internet age, that’s for sure.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned while doing the research for the book?

I chose a water cure facility as the location for the crime in No Darkness as like Death and enjoyed learning about them. These institutions touted their ability to cure all manner of ills through cold (or steam) bathing, drinking fresh cold water, massages, and strict diets. Which is not the craziest of treatments for that time period, and to me sounds rather modern and even sensible. These facilities promised greater curative results than they could actually deliver, though.

What are some of the things you learned that didn’t make it into the book?

I’d intended to include some research I’d done on medical batteries. This treatment involves having a ‘practitioner’ give you a series of shocks over different parts of your body, depending on what’s being ‘healed.’ It was quite the rage in the 19th century, but the practice ended up not working for this particular book.

Do you have a special connection with San Francisco that made you decide to write about the city?

Nothing more than a love for a city I’ve often visited and find endlessly fascinating. Besides its great history, San Francisco has always been filled with a host of interesting characters and makes for a great setting.

Do you read a lot of historical mysteries? If so, can you recommend some of your favorites?

My favorites are the Falco series by Lindsey Davis and the late Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books. I’ve recently taken up reading novels by authors who wrote in the 1920s and ‘30s, and currently have a Dorothy L. Sayers mystery on my bedside table.

Do you think your background in engineering helps your writing at all?

At the beginning of my career, I think my background was a bit of a hindrance. I kept imagining I could plan my way into a completed novel. I’ve had to learn to limit my pre-planning and plotting and basically just let the process happen.

Many authors have a character “bible,” or a history/biography of a character’s life that helps the author maintain consistency for that character throughout a series. Most of the things in a character bible never make it into a book because they’re for the author’s use only. Do you use a character bible? Can you tell us something about Celia or Nick that no one else knows?

My character ‘bible’ might be more aptly described as a character notecard. I admit that I’m not the best at keeping track of everyone’s characteristics or back-stories. That said, I did develop a rather thorough background for both Nick and Celia that I’ve only touched upon. I would like to more deeply explore the death of Nick’s sister Meg in a future book. There is a mystery to it I’ve not previously mentioned.

What’s next for Celia and Nick?

I’m presently working on the next book in the series, title not yet decided upon. It is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2022.

To visit Nancy’s website, click here. You can learn more about her, her books, and order them for yourself!

Nancy Herriman’s bio

Nancy Herriman retired from an engineering career to take up the pen. She hasn’t looked back. Her work has won the Daphne du Maurier award, and Publishers Weekly has said her ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series “…brings 1867 San Francisco to vivid life.” Her most recent release is NO DARKNESS AS LIKE DEATH. She is also the author of the Bess Ellyott Mystery series set in Tudor England. When not writing, she enjoys singing, gabbing about writing, and eating dark chocolate. She currently lives in central Ohio. 

Thanks for being my guest here today, Nancy.

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: Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Today I welcome author Nancy Lynn Jarvis to Reade and Write. Nancy doesn’t even know this, but I have a special fondness for her books because two of them were given to me as gifts by someone many of you will remember from this blog–Sharon Aguanno. Sharon loved Nancy’s books and I credit her with introducing me to Nancy’s work.

Nancy is here to talk about her new release, The Glass House. I’m looking forward to reading this one–I wish Sharon was here to enjoy it, too.

Tell me about The Glass House.

Santa Cruz County Law Librarian Pat Pirard is living a perfect life as the book begins, but she’s unexpectedly downsized on her thirty-fifth birthday and needs to reinvent herself before her severance package runs out and she and her Dalmatian, Dot, and ginger cat, Lord Peter Wimsey, face life on a friend’s couch.

When the instructor of a glass art class Pat received as a gift is murdered and the studio’s owner is charged with killing him, researcher Pat is hired by the suspect’s defense attorney to find others in the class who may have a motive for murder. The first thing she does is order business cards proclaiming herself CEO of PIP Inc., not necessarily the first thing most underemployed amateur detectives would do, but then, most people aren’t like Private Investigator Pat.

Who is the audience for the book?

Me. Well, me at all phases of my life. I like mysteries ―the more complicated the better―don’t like to read violence and cruelty, especially as it’s happening, although I love CSI and discovering how the killing happened from a safe distance, so that’s how I write.

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?

Like most of the books I’ve written, The Glass House is set in Santa Cruz. I’m a visual writer who needs to see my setting to get the details right. I know nothing about being a private investigator, but I have a friend who does. She’s my resource, and it’s great fun to collaborate with her.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Deciding it was time. Once I got past that hurdle, it was fun. I hadn’t written a mystery in almost a year because of other projects, and realized as I wrote, that I love writing in the cozy mystery genre.

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

Let me ask the real Private Investigator Pat and get back to you on that.

Tell me about your other books.

I’ve done seven books in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series; Mags and the AARP Gang, a coming of age comedy about a group of octogenarians who decide to rob the bank holding the mortgage on their mobile home park to pay off the loan and stave off foreclosure; and a little book called The Truth About Hosting Airbnb, something I do when I’m not writing. I’ve edited Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes and Santa Cruz Weird, a short story anthology with contributions from seventeen Santa Cruz authors.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I’m not sure if I’d call my group a partnership, but ten local mystery writers call ourselves The Santa Cruz Women of Mystery. We just did our first Noir at the Bar, which was great fun. I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Do you write every day?

No. I’m very lazy. I only write when the mood hits.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I like all genres except dystopic…wait, I love Margaret Atwood and she does those; and fantasy…wait, except for JK Rowling and too many authors to list; John McPhee; Amy Tan; anything historical and most non-fiction. Oh, and of course, Agatha Christie and Tony Hillerman and any mystery I can get my hands on. Unfortunately, I can usually figure out who did it by page eighty-six which is, I think, an occupational hazard of writing mysteries.

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

I have never been to Ireland, and according to Ancestry, that’s where most of my ancestors came from. It’s also definitely where my protagonist Regan McHenry traces her ancestry, so it would be fun to see.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t make excuses and don’t expect to write a perfect book. It gets easier as you practice and your writing will improve. I look back on The Death Contingency, the first book I wrote, and can see me learning as the book progresses. The Glass House is polished from page one, so I’m getting better as a writer. The most important reason to write, though, is it’s just so much fun.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I would have to say either Raiders of the Lost Ark or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I know, I know, I have the taste of a seven-year-old boy. The Usual Suspects is my favorite grown-up movie because it’s complicated.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Do everything you can right now because you’ll be old sooner than you think.

Describe yourself in three words.

Tall, intelligent, introvert.

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

How long will you keep writing? Until it’s not fun any longer or my mind turns to mush, whichever comes first.

Where can readers connect with you?

You can click here for my website. All the books are there and most first chapters are up for you to read.

Where can readers find your books?

You can find my Amazon author page by clicking here.

The ebook version of The Glass House will go live on July 25, 2019, to be followed by a print version soon after that. Pre-order and save a couple of bucks because the price will go up after release. If you review the book and send me your email address, I’ll gift you a free copy of any other of my books that you chose.

Readers, if you want to order your copy of The Glass House, it’s only $2.99 until July 26, then the price goes up. If you pre-order the book by the 25th and email Nancy with proof of purchase and the email address of a friend, Nancy will send that friend a free copy. 

Until next time,

Amy

 

 

Author Spotlight: Maria Grazia Swan

Today I welcome Maria Grazia Swan to Reade and Write. Maria is a mystery author with a novella in the soon-to-be-released collection Summer Snoops Unleashed. I’ve helped the authors of the collection promote it, and there’s one more post featuring two or three other authors coming soon.

Ready to learn more about Maria?

Tell me about your new novella.

Pies, Lies and a Last Goodbye could be seen as a short book or a long novella. It’s about 24,000 words and will be released on July 23 as part of the boxed set Summer Snoops Unleashed, as you mentioned. The link to purchase the collection is https://books2read.com/SummerSnoopsUnleashed, and as you can see, for 99¢ readers will have plenty of stories to read. I’m honored to be in the company of such great authors.

Pies, Lies and a Last Goodbye is part of my Baker Girls cozy mystery series. As you read this, books 1 and 2 of the series are available only on Amazon, but very soon (in about 10 days) all the books in the series will be available at all major online retailers.

Click this link to find Book 1, Cooks, Crooks and a Corpse, on Amazon.

Click this link to find Book 2, Foods, Fools, and a Dead Psychic, on Amazon.

Here are the covers of the books currently on Amazon:

I’m really excited to be able to share my new covers with you here! Drum roll, please…

Congratulations, Maria! I love the new covers!

Book 3 in the Baker Girls series, Wine, Dine, and Christmas Crimes, is available for pre-order now. Here’s a look at the cover and link to pre-order the book.

https://books2read.com/u/mY1NZV

Back to Pies, Lies and a Last Goodbye. I wanted to write a short book for readers not familiar with the Baker Girls series. In this novella I introduce the main characters and the feelings driving their actions. I hope new readers will like the concept and read the rest of the series.

Readers, Maria is giving away two Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of Pies, Lies and a Last Goodbye today! All you have to do to be entered to win is comment on this post. I’ll choose the winners tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. EST.

Maria, tell us about your other books. 

Baker Girls is my 3rd series and the first one with a Phoenix/Arizona locale/settings.

My first series is the Mina Calvi Adventure mysteries. Anyone familiar with my books knows I only write about places where I have lived or at least visited personally. The Mina Calvi series has Orange County, California, as background because I lived there while writing most of the books…

…Except for book 3, Italian Summer. I wrote that back home in Italy and it’s 60% autobiographical as it pertains to settings, feelings, and habits. OK, I’m stopping here. You’ll have to read the book to fill the blanks…

My second series is the Lella York suspense series, and those books each have a different setting. Book 1, Gemini Moon: Murder Under the Italian Moon, was based on a real deadly event. A friend of mine was shot by the spouse and her blood spattered on one of my books she had on her desk at the time. It was returned to me years later and I just had to write about the shooting.

Describe yourself in three words

Loyal, passionate, truthful.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write from the heart: readers can tell. And keep in mind no one was born a writer. While some excel at it, it’s a craft. Practice makes perfect. Never give up.

Where can readers find you?

Email: mgsweb1@gmail.com

Website

Twitter

Amazon Author page

BookBub 

Subscribe to my newsletter

And where can readers find your books, besides the links you’ve already provided?

I’ve written short stories and non-fiction in addition to my mysteries. Check out my website for more information on my books.

Maria has graciously provided a recipe from one of her main characters, Monica, a cook who tends to take shortcuts. There are two versions of Pasta Primavera: the regular version and Monica’s shortcut version.

Monica’s Pasta Primavera

(This version works for vegetarians. If you are following a gluten-free diet, substitute gluten-free pasta for regular pasta. You can use your favorite brand. My choice is Barilla. ~Monica)

12 ounces of pasta (I use Barilla thin spaghetti)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

½ pound broccoli, trim thick stems

½ pound cauliflower

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup heavy cream

***

Cook pasta according to directions.

While waiting for water to boil chop broccoli and cauliflower into bite size pieces.

Once the pasta is in the pot, melt butter in large skillet over low heat, but don’t let it brown. Set aside.

Two minutes before removing the pasta from the boiling pot add the chopped broccoli and cauliflower to the boiling water/pasta.

Drain well pasta and veggies, transfer to the skillet with melted butter, toss well. Add heavy cream and cheese, toss some more and serve.  (4 servings)

Buon appetito!

 

Monica’s One-Pot 15-Minute version…if you dare…serves 2

8 ounces pasta (half a package) (Barilla thin spaghetti cooks in 5-6 minutes al dente)

Salt and pepper as needed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1-10 ounces package frozen vegetables (I like the Oriental Stir-fry plain, but any frozen vegetables would do)

***

Cook pasta according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, open frozen vegetables, discard wrapping and put vegetables in colander. Let hot water from kitchen faucet run over frozen vegetables. That way they will thaw but remain crisp.

When pasta is done, turn off faucet and pour pasta over vegetables in colander. Drain well.

Quickly return the pot in which the pasta was cooked to the same burner, add butter. Allow it to melt over a low burner but do not allow it to brown.

Pour pasta and vegetables on top of melted butter, add olive oil and toss well.

Serve with grated cheese to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sounds delicious! Thanks for visiting, Maria!

Until next time,

Amy