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

Do Good

Because Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is meant to be a day of service, I am posting early this week because I have something to share with you that I hope you’ll check out before Monday (and use often).  It’s a website you can find at http://www.allforgood.org.  This is a website devoted to helping match people with charities or local charitable projects that are in need of volunteers.

The site allows you to select one or more of fifteen areas of interest to you.  If you don’t find your area of interest listed, you can type in keywords that will assist you in finding what you want.  You then put in your zip code.  It’s a simple as that.

Once you’ve entered your information, the website finds projects that you can work on for an hour, a day, a weekend, or indefinitely.  Here’s a sample of projects I found in my area:  sorting coats on January 20th (MLK Day) to be distributed in the surrounding communities; a full-time internship beginning May 1st to monitor coastal nesting birds; volunteering at the local animal shelter.

I checked out some other randomly-selected (sort of) areas, too.  Here are some opportunities that are available:  beginning on March 1st in Sackets Harbor, NY, volunteers will be needed as Event Assistants to work with Great Strides, the largest national fundraiser of the year for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  On January 20th in Syracuse, NY, volunteers are needed “to help sort, fold, package and deliver donations to area non-profits.”  In Kailua-Kona, HI, AARP is always looking for volunteers to be Information Assistants to link people in need with services available.  In San Francisco, CA, the Hamilton Family Center is looking for people to help children with homework or tutoring on January 23rd.  On January 31st in Denver, CO, Community Shares is looking for Spanish-speaking volunteers to help edit Spanish translations of English documents.  And last, but not least, in Bloomington, IN, on January 20th, people are needed to go out in teams to collect money and food for the Hoosier Hills Food Bank.

There are so many opportunities to volunteer, help, and serve the communities in which we live.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day approaches, please remember the less fortunate in your community and resolve to do good for them.

Until January 28th,

Amy