A Hidden Gem

As many of you know, I have been working (forever, it feels like) on Book 2 in the Libraries of the World Mystery Series. In the first book, Trudy’s Diary, protagonist Daisy Carruthers uses collections from the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, to solve the mysteries. In Book 2, Dutch Treat, Daisy has taken a sabbatical from Global Human Rights Journal in Washington to work for one semester as an associate professor at a small college in New York City. As you might expect, the New York Public Library collections play a key role in this book.

I’ve done a great deal of research for Dutch Treat and a lot of that research has been about the main branch of the New York Public Library (the one on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street).

But the New York Public Library has more than just the main branch. In fact, it has 88 branches. And many of these are old—old enough to have been heated with coal in the early part of the twentieth century.

And how do you think the heating system worked when the library was closed?

Easy. Custodians were employed to keep the heating systems running overnight and on weekends. Those custodians and their families lived in apartments on the top floor of each library.

How cool would it be to live in a library??

This week, I’m sharing an article from Atlas Obscura that highlights one of the old custodian apartments: the one from Fort Washington. There are some interesting photos and some anecdotes from people who remember the custodians who took care of the libraries.

Enjoy!

Click here to be redirected to the article.

Until next time,

Amy

Reading Round-Up: June Edition

It’s been two months since my last Reading Round-Up because I’ve been reading very slowly lately. But I have some great books to share this week and I think I’m back on track for another Round-Up on the last Tuesday in July.

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Man of the Year

The first book I read was Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker. This was a book of psychological suspense that I enjoyed but thought could have been shorter (it’s about 500 pages). Read my review here.

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The Penitent Priest by J. R. Mathis

The Penitent Priest by J.R. Mathis is the first book in a new series, and I found it very enjoyable. Quick synopsis: a man who joined the priesthood in middle age is sent back to pastor the parish where his wife was murdered. If you like the Father Brown mysteries, you’ll like this book. Read my review here.

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Let it All Burn by Denise Grover Swank

My book club read Let It All Burn by Denise Grover Swank in May. This was a paranormal book with a heavy dose of mythology, and I enjoyed it. I hadn’t expected to, since paranormal is usually not my thing, but I was wrong and happily so. Check out my review here.

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Murder Aboard the Flying Scotsman by Lee Strauss

Next up was Murder Aboard the Flying Scotsman by Lee Strauss. Though this is the 8th book in the Ginger Gold Mysteries, it was my first and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes cozies set in the 1920s. This one is set aboard a train, making it appear to be a locked room mystery, but it branches out to other venues and we get to see a bit of England in the process. You can read my review here.

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Emerald's Secret by Iris Chacon

I read Emerald’s Secret by Iris Chacon in under two hours. It’s a short, delightful novel that is typical of Iris’ fun style, quirky characters, and fast-moving plots. In this book, four police officers go undercover to bust a gambling ring, and each of the four is assigned an undercover identity that is nothing like his or her real personality. A great book that I think you’ll enjoy. Read my full review here.

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The Gallery of Ghosts by Victoria Benchley

The Gallery of Ghosts by Victoria Benchley is the second book in her Marsden Murder Club series. The Marsden Murder Club is a group of people who come together to solve cold case murders. Each member of the club has a specific and unique talent which is the reason he or she has been invited to join. The main character, Charlotte, has an uncanny ability to read people—to discern their pasts and uncover their secrets. This book takes place along the Hudson River and flirts with a hint of mysticism when Charlotte can sense the ancient drumbeats of the original dwellers along the river. This was a great read and you can take a look at my review here.

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The final book this month was Rail Head by Stephen Honig. This is a book of poems all about trains—commuting, traveling, collecting, etc. I don’t read much poetry, but this is the second book I’ve read by Stephen Honig and I find his poetry insightful and interesting. I love the author’s note at the end explaining why he wrote the book. I would recommend it to lovers of unique poetry.

What have you read lately? Please share in the comments.

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: 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!

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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

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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

Reading Round-Up: August Edition

I have some fabulous books to share with you this month! I wanted to have more than four, but that’s the way it worked out. My August reads ran the gamut from funny to suspenseful to historical to classic.

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The first book I finished this month was Jeeves and the King of Clubs. If you’ve read any of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster books, I recommend you read this one, too. It’s a great addition to the collection. Here’s my review:

“This book, written in homage to the great P.G. Wodehouse, is a laugh-out-loud caper complete with espionage, aristocratic dalliances, clever disguises, jealous lovers, and a hard-headed aunt hell-bent on upsetting the balance of power among British condiment producers. Ben Schott did an exceptional job with his back-and-forth banter between Bertie and Jeeves. I loved every minute of this book.”

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The second book I read was I Am Mrs. Jesse James by Pat Wahler. This is an extraordinary work of historical fiction about the wife of the infamous outlaw. The amount of research that must have gone into writing the story is astonishing. Here’s my review:

“I had a hard time putting this book down for things like meals and sleeping. It is one of the best books of historical fiction that I’ve read. It tells the story of Zee James, as much as possible from the scant materials written about the wife of the infamous outlaw Jesse James. Where the historical record was too thin, the author supplemented realistic and highly likely scenarios based on her extensive research and knowledge of the time period and the real-life characters. Even though I knew how the story would end, this book kept me turning pages late into the night.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great book of historical fiction as well as anyone interested in American society following the Civil War.

Read this book. You’ll be glad you did.”

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Many people have read Wuthering Heights, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in thinking it’s one of the best books of the nineteenth century. Interestingly, some of the other best books of that century were written by the sisters of Emily Bronte. Here’s my review:

“*sigh* There are not many books that I will re-read, simply because there are too many great books out there, but this is one of them.

It is the story of madness, romance, and revenge–cold, brutal revenge for sins of fathers (and others). Heathcliff and Catherine are unforgettable characters that meet by serendipitous or ominous chance, depending on whom you ask. The love that grows between them is both fierce and poisonous.

Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights are characters in themselves: one is light and bright, the other dark and brooding. If you’ve never read this book, I recommend it as a great study in character and setting. And if you read it way back when (maybe in high school?), read it again. There’s something new to discover with every reading.”

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I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who has to get up early for work the next day, because you’re going to be reading past your bedtime. I can almost guarantee it. What She Knew is a fantastic psychological thriller full of twists and surprises, and I found it almost painful to have to wait to get to the last few pages to find out whodunit. Here’s my review:

“This story gripped me from page one and didn’t let go until I had read the final sentence. I felt like I couldn’t read fast enough, that I had to get to the end to see for myself how everything turns out. It was all I could do to slow down enough to digest every paragraph.

This is the story of a young boy who is abducted, his mother’s debilitating guilt over it, secrets that have the power to destroy a family, and the power of the media and, in particular, social media. This is a story that is going to stay with me.”

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What are you reading? I hope you’ll share in the comments below!

Until next time,

Amy

Reading Round-Up: July Edition

It’s going to look like I didn’t do a ton of reading in July, but that’s because I’m currently in the middle of four other books and I’ve been reading those, too. So August should be a big month.

The first book I finished since my last Reading Round-Up was Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. A friend on Twitter suggested that I read it so we could talk about the writer’s style. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Here’s my review from Goodreads:

“This was a haunting book, based on true events that took place in the US in the first part of the twentieth century. It’s the story of a family of river gypsies and what happened to them as a result of the corrupt and horrifying practices of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. It’s written from the point of view of two/three characters (you’ll see why I say that when you read the book), but I think that’s almost the way the story had to be told. The language is descriptive and evocative–I think this is going to be one book that stays with me.”

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You may remember from last month that I read The Merlon Murders and that it was the first book in a two-book series. Well, I finished the second book and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it as much as the first one. The Merlon Murders II, by Victoria Benchley, is a great summer mystery. Here’s my Goodreads review:

“In this second book of The Merlon Murders, readers are treated to some exciting twists following the harrowing ending of Book One. Duncan becomes more deeply involved with the beautiful widow Menzies, he enlists the help of a Swedish expert in game theory, and he begins to form some alarming hunches about the identity of the person who killed Stuart Menzies. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery, and especially one set in Scotland.”

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I’m becoming more and more interested in eating a plant-based diet as often as possible, so I read The Mediterranean Table, which is a cookbook of easy Mediterranean recipes. The Mediterranean diet is largely plant-based, though there are recipes in the book featuring meat, poultry, and fish, too. The recipes are not only easy to follow, but they use ingredients that are widely available. The book includes a great description of the Mediterranean diet, along with the countries making up that region of the world and their individual contributions to the cuisine of the area.

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This is a diverse collection of short stories about death. Most of the stories involve some element of whodunit, though not all of them are mysteries. The four I liked the most were by Robbie Cheadle and debut author Aly Locatelli. Cheadle’s stories are fictionalized accounts of historic events and legends and Locatelli’s story is a suspenseful read about a mysterious death. It’s an atmospheric treat that makes for a great debut.

I’m excited to get into August and finish all those books I’m working on! So many books…so little time…

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

 

 

Reading Round-Up: June Edition

It seemed like June was gone in a flash (flood–we had lots of rain), but I did manage to get a lot of reading done during the month. That is, a lot for me.

The first book I read was Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. This was a little different from the mysteries I usually read, but I enjoyed it. It’s told from three different points of view and that kept things interesting. It was cool to see the same events from the perspectives of three characters. There are also a ton of references to other works of literature–some I knew and some I didn’t. When it’s all boiled down, the book is a murder mystery. There are some supernatural elements, which I don’t love, but I was glad the killer was a real flesh-and-blood person (and not some apparition).

Next up was The Tulip Shirt Murders by Heather Weidner. This was a great mystery, with some elements I didn’t know much about (think flea markets and roller derbies), so I learned something in the process! It features a female private investigator, which I loved, and her computer-savvy sidekick. There are a variety of red herrings, but our intrepid heroine figures things out in the end.

The Merlon Murders by Victoria Benchley is the first book in a two-book series (read: it ends in a cliffhanger, so be ready to scoop up the second book and start reading right away!) featuring a corporate investigator, Duncan, who travels to Scotland from London to check out the mystery surrounding the death of a man who left behind a fortune, an estate, and lots of questions. This book is like taking a vacation in Scotland–from the rugged mountains to the quaint villages to the culture and the food, it’s a delight for all the senses.

I also read The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate Macdonald. It has recipes AGG readers will remember from the books, like raspberry cordial and gingersnaps, and they’re easy to make. The book was geared to young cooks more than I expected, but it was still a fun, easy read.

Marilyn Meredith’s Spirit Wind is the continuation of the Tempe Crabtree mysteries, and like all the others, this doesn’t disappoint. There are Native American legends and spirits, a real-life murder, and someone who doesn’t want any of it uncovered. The book is a quick read and I learned a lot about Tehachapi, an area of California that was home to the Kawaiisu tribe of Native Americans.

Last, but certainly not least, was Robert Germaux’s More Grammar Sex, a fabulous book of essays about everything from vacation after retirement to baseball to his car’s GPS system. This was an easy-to-read book of common sense things that makes an afternoon spent reading on the patio (on one of the few days when it didn’t rain) very pleasant.

What have you been reading? I’d love to hear about it.

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: CeeCee James

Today I welcome CeeCee James, USA Today bestselling author of several mystery series. She’s here today to talk about her Flamingo Realty Mysteries and, in particular, Duplex Double Trouble. Glad you’re here, CeeCee!

Tell me about your new book.

This whole series has been incredible to write. It’s called The Flamingo Realty Mysteries, and the running story is about Stella O’Neil, who returns to her home state to try and reunite her family of stubborn men. She never expected the personal growth she would go through herself. Each story builds on the next, woven in super fun murder mysteries that she always seems caught in. The newest is called Duplex Double Trouble and I honestly love it. Stella is my hero!

Who is the audience for the book?

Anyone who loves a good clean mystery with some humor, crazy clues, and a dead guy!

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 chose Pennsylvania because one of the characters is in another series, The Baker Street cozy mysteries. That’s Stella’s home town that she returns to!

Interesting! I saw the covers and I assumed Florida. But Pennsylvania is near me, so that’s cool!

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

The hardest thing is to make sure there are enough clues without giving too much away. ❤

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

If it were made into a movie I’d freak out so much I probably wouldn’t care!

Have you written any other books?

Yes! This is number 25!

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I have a few critique partners I really adore. They help me keep the story in line.

Do you write every day?

Yes!

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I have so many favorite authors! Terry Pratchett, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lucy Maud Montgomery, C.S. Lewis, Daphne du Maurier, Stephen King, James Herriot and Neil Gaiman just to name a few. I read all sorts of genres.

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

Right now, Hawaii!

I’m with you there.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Do it for yourself. Get that first draft done and save the editing for the second time through. Advice is good, but trust your own gut as well.

What is your favorite movie and why?

My favorite movie is the Lord of the Rings series. Why? Because Tolkien is one of my favorite authors and I love the series. But the books weren’t something my husband could get into. So when the movies came out, we could finally discuss it. Loved that!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Ohhh such a good question. I’d tell myself that you’re going to be okay. Keep looking up.

Describe yourself in three words.

Loyal, Hobbity (in the ‘I really really like my home’ way, not the ‘hairy feet’ way), and Creative

Where can readers connect with you?

Find me on Facebook! Or my Amazon Author page!

Where can readers find your books?

https://www.amazon.com/CeeCee-James/e/B00IJNN6LA

Thank you so much! This was so fun!!

Thanks for visiting, CeeCee! I enjoyed having you here.

Until next time,

Amy

Last Tuesday Book Round-Up

I’m happy to report that I was able to get more reading done in May than I did in April. As of writing this post, I’ve finished six books so far this month and I may be able to squeeze in one more. Here’s the round-up:

Eighteen Months by Glenn McGoldrick is a short story I first heard about on Twitter. This was the first story I’ve read by this author, and I thought it was thoughtfully written and full of darkness. I can’t tell you much without giving the story away, but if you like suspense, this is a good one to check out.

Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert was the sequel to Moloka’i. You have to know a little bit about Moloka’i in order to understand what’s happening in the sequel.

The island of Moloka’i in Hawaii was widely known as a leper colony where people were sent decades ago to remove them from the general population. Moloka’i is the heart-wrenching, beautifully-written story of a woman who grew up on the island. As an adult, she gives birth to a baby girl and she and the baby’s father are forced to give up their daughter a day after her birth. Daughter of Moloka’i is the story of that little girl.

Moloka’i is an incredible novel and it was going to be pretty hard to beat it, or even match it. In my opinion, Daughter of Moloka’i doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, but it’s still a great book and well worth reading.

Desperate Deeds by Patricia Gligor is the third book in the Malone Mystery series. In this book, Ann Kern has to deal with her husband’s unemployment, the possibility he’s drinking again, the aftermath of her mother-in-law’s death, starting a new business, and the most unthinkable thing of all, her son going missing. Here’s my Goodreads review:

“This was the fourth book I have read by Patricia Gligor, and as always, she has crafted a story that is full of characters who could be your next-door neighbors. The book draws the reader in with the promise of suspense, and there is plenty of it in this book. Following the twists and turns is fun, and I was sure I knew what would happen on more than one occasion. I was wrong, which thrilled me! Looking forward to Malone Mystery #4.”

Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque is a book that you certainly don’t need to read if you have a newsletter, but if you do, get it, read it, and keep it for future reference. I’m in the process of changing how my newsletter is discovered by readers and I’m already implementing some of the changes the book suggests. I’m very excited about it!

A friend suggested that I read Thief of Corinth and I’m glad I did. It was an interesting story about corruption in the ancient city of Corinth and how a young girl and her father face choices they must make in the face of adversity. The main character, Ariadne, is complex and, at times, misguided and angry. Watching her grow and learn about this new system of beliefs called Christianity is uplifting and inspiring.

Organized for Homicide by Ritter Ames is a great cozy mystery full of twists, turns, and…organizing advice. When two women take on the job of organizing a cross-country move for a recently-divorced father of three and at least two of his children, they’ve got their hands full. And when the ex-wife shows up dead, there are suspects aplenty, beginning with the eldest child of the couple. Here’s my Goodreads review:

“I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the friendship between Kate and Meg, two of the main characters. The mystery was intriguing, with enough red herrings, suspects, and twists to please any discerning mystery lover. Highly recommend!”

So, readers, what are you reading these days? Please share!

Until next time,

Amy

P.S. Have you seen my new book cover? Dead, White, and Blue, Book 2 in the Juniper Junction Mystery series, will be available for pre-order soon! If this is your first time seeing it, join my newsletter by clicking here! You’ll be among the first to see my cover reveals.

What do you think??