Guest Blog Post – The Ghost of Cafe Past by Gayle Leeson

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9781101990803I’m not so sure that The Ghost of Café Past is the best title for this post, but it rolls off the tongue a little better than The Ghost of Lunch Counter Past. But please bear with me.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to take me to Clark’s Drugstore. To me, it was one of the most exciting places ever. (She also took me to the post office where she’d let me turn the tiny knob right and left to the corresponding numbers and then take her mail out of the narrow slot. Grandmother knew all the happening places to take a seven-year-old.)

Clark’s Drugstore was a magical place—part pharmacy, part general store, part diner. It had glossy magazines, greeting cards, candies, toiletries, makeup, pantyhose, over-the-counter and prescription medications. In addition, there was a lunch counter along the wall to the left of the store. Along the counter, there were orange stools where a little girl could sit and spin until she was dizzy. And no one would tell her to stop.

It seemed to me that the same woman always took our order at the lunch counter. I can’t remember her name, but I know she had gray hair—big gray hair. She was warm, friendly, and always smiling. She served up the best cheeseburgers and French fries. I’d get my cheeseburger with mustard, mayonnaise, and pickle, and that flavor combination always takes me back to sitting beside Grandmother in that small-town drugstore that was part of a strip mall on Main Street.

There were some strange characters who also frequented the drugstore. Some seemed harmless. Some not so much. One man would try to touch me when I strayed too far from the safety of Grandmother’s side. I was terrified of that man and can still remember what he looked like. Fortunately, most of the characters who hung out in that Main Street strip mall were harmless. There was the man who walked the streets either whistling or singing, had a friendly nod for everyone, and who poured his coffee into a saucer to let it cool before slurping it up. And there was the guy everyone thought was “a little off” because he walked around all the time holding a transistor radio up to his ear. Looking back, maybe he was just a trail-blazer. How many people do you see walking around these days without an iPod or phone up to their ear?

In Silence of the Jams, the Down South Café exemplifies that small-town feeling. The café is in a rural part of town. There aren’t a lot of businesses nearby. And there are several eccentric characters who patronize the café. The owner/operator, Amy Flowers, tries to incorporate the best of the old with the new. She continues to serve her customers their favorite comfort foods while encouraging them to step beyond the tried and true and to expand their palates.

While there aren’t any café regulars portrayed by the creepy man from my childhood, there are villains. In Silence of the Jams, Amy realizes life isn’t as idyllic as it seems when a man is murdered in her café. Now she must try to determine which of the new people who’ve come into her life are trustworthy and which one is a killer.

 

Guest Blog Post – How Mystical Musings Came To Be By Cass Donovan

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9780425282762Hi. I’m Cass Donovan, owner of Mystical Musings, a small psychic shop on Bay Island. My shop sits in the perfect location. The front door faces the boardwalk, and the back door faces the beach. I love sitting on the back porch and looking out over the bay, watching the boats headed to Long Island, the kids playing on the beach, and tourists flocking to the lighthouse that overlooks it all. It brings back such fond memories from my childhood.

Though I grew up on Bay Island, I left seventeen years ago to go to college and only returned last year after my psychiatric practice and my marriage both failed. But that’s another story.

I opened Mystical Musings last year, but the idea of the shop on the boardwalk actually originated when I was trying to save money for college. When I was in high school, my friends and I used to spend hours sitting on the beach, and what better way to pass the time than people watching. I loved studying the tourists, then make up stories for them, giving them fictional lives based on what I perceived.

I found it easy to determine moods, since most people wear their moods clearly in their expressions, but then I started noticing other things, more subtle tells. The way some would twist their hands together when they were nervous or fold their arms across their chests when they were hiding something. It got to be a game. Sometimes my friends would join in, offering their own insight into the tourist’s lives, swearing they were right when my gut would tell me they couldn’t be further from the truth.

Then, one particularly boring day, a group of us were hanging around making up stories. One of the boys issued a challenge I couldn’t ignore. He dared me to approach a woman and share my story with her. I still laugh remembering the looks on their faces when I shrugged, stood up, brushed myself off and marched down the beach toward her. With only one backward glance, I walked up to her and said, “Excuse me.”

She had kind eyes, but there was a sadness in them that I wanted to understand. When I offered to do a psychic reading for her, she agreed with a good-natured but skeptical smile. As it turned out, I was extremely close on all counts. The sadness in her eyes was from a recent break up, the way she wrapped her arms tightly around herself was a defense mechanism. She didn’t trust people, wanted to keep them out, thanks to her ex-boyfriend’s cheating. I had nailed so much of her story, and was ready to walk away with a smug smile for my friends. But then I realized the sadness still filled her eyes, and I found I wanted to help, wanted to do something to alleviate her suffering.

So I offered her a premonition, a brief glimpse of the future I imagined for her with a man who would treat her like gold. Though she still appeared somewhat skeptical, there was a bit of optimism and hope as well. And I realized how good it felt to use my gift to help someone. I still think about that woman on occasion and wonder if any of my predictions came true. I certainly hope so.

Anyway, much to Chief Langdon’s dismay, I spent the next few summers approaching tourists and offer to do “readings” for them, only charging if I was able to give them an accurate depiction of their lives. In the beginning, I got about half right. By the time I left for college, I was rarely wrong. When I returned to Bay Island, I picked up where I left off, but this time, I opened my own shop, and now the tourists seek me out.

Guest Blog Post – Maple Sugaring and Mud Season—Oh My! It Must be March in New England

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9780425278642

by B.B. Haywood,

author of Town in a Maple Madness

should now be available in stores

What would a big stack of Maine blueberry pancakes be without fresh maple syrup poured over the top? We’re talking real maple syrup, not the type of artificial “pancake syrup” you find in grocery stores. That’s made from flavored corn syrup, and it’s not maple syrup! But what’s the difference between the two, and how is maple syrup made, anyway?

You’ll find out in the pages of Town in a Maple Madness, the eighth book in the Candy Holliday Murder Mystery series. As we once again join the friendly and busy villagers of the coastal community of Cape Willington, Maine, it’s late March, which means it’s maple sugaring season. But it’s also the time of year when snow and ice are starting to melt, which means it’s mud season. Two big events, one sweet, one not so sweet, and they both play a prominent role in our story.

Cape Willington has two “sugar shacks”—one at Crawford’s Berry Farm, owned by Neil Crawford, and the other at Sugar Hill Farm, owned by Hutch and Ginny Milbright. As the story opens, both sugar shacks are in full operation, with their evaporators fired up and boiling sap, releasing sweet-smelling steam. As readers will find out, maple syrup comes from the sap of sugar maple trees, and it’s produced in the northeastern United States and in Canada, where sugar maples grow. Maine is one of the largest producers of maple syrup, and in the fictional village of Cape Willington, maple sugaring is the primary activity in early spring, before the strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkins take over in the summer and fall.

The sap begins to flow in late February, when the daytime temperatures rise above freezing but night-time temperatures fall below freezing. The season can last anywhere from just a few days to several weeks, and it ends when the tree buds begin to open. The length of maple sugaring season differs from year to year, depending on the weather and air temperatures.

The sugar maple trees are tapped with one tap every spring (unless someone is tapping them illegally, which happens occasionally in New England). Traditionally, the sap runs into buckets attached to the trees, but typically today, the taps are connected by plastic tubing that drains into one central container, creating a network of tubing that’s not unlike a giant spider web strung between the trees. It’s not uncommon to drive down a rural dirt lane in New England and see the tubing connected to tree after tree all the way down the road. It’s always an exciting time, because it’s one of the first signs that spring is on the way.

After the syrup is collected, it’s transported to a sugar shack, usually by tractor and cart, where it’s placed into an evaporator and boiled to remove water. It takes, on average, about 43 gallons of raw sap to create one gallon of maple syrup. As you can imagine, that takes a lot of time and effort, but the flavorful result it well worth it! Once boiled, the syrup is graded from light to dark. Light syrup is the mildest, while dark has the strongest flavor.

Of course, maple sugaring season is also mud season, which means getting to those tapped trees, or getting anywhere on a dirt or back road, can be a tricky proposition. Drivers in Maine and New England try to avoid as much as possible those muddy back roads (which are everywhere in rural New England) in the spring, but when they have to drive on them, they drive as fast as possible so as not to get stuck, since the mud can become like quicksand. So beware if you’re driving in Cape Willington in March! Just drive fast, hold on to the steering wheel as tightly as you can, and hope for the best!

As all these natural events are taking place, the townspeople of Cape Willington are preparing for their first annual Maple Madness Weekend. A number of family-fun events are planned, including a Maple Marshmallow Roast in Town Park and a maple scavenger hunt. The villagers are also opening a “pop-up” pancake restaurant, where they’ll serve hot pancakes covered in fresh maple syrup all weekend long. But in the middle of the festivities, disaster strikes, as the body of one of the town’s most well-known residents is found floating in the English River, his hands and feet tied up and a mortal wound in his back.

Who did it? That’s what blueberry farmer Candy Holliday, her father Henry “Doc” Holliday, local strawberry farmer Neil Crawford and his dog Random, and Candy’s best friend Maggie (Tremont) Wolfsburger, along with her new husband, Herr Georg Wolfsburger, and the other villagers have to find out. All the answers will be revealed in Town in a Maple Madness, so be sure to pick up a copy. Your taste buds will thank you!

COOKING TIP

Did you know you can use maple syrup to replace regular sugar in baking recipes? The simple rule is, three quarters’ cup of maple syrup equals one cup of sugar. In Town in a Maple Madness, we have included several recipes with maple syrup as an ingredient, including Black Forest Bakery Chocolate Maple Brownies, Maple Banana Bread, Maple-glazed Carrots, and Maple Drop Cookies. Enjoy!

Town in a Maple Madness was published on April 4, 2017, by Berkeley Prime Crime, and available in both print and as an eBook. Other titles in the New York Times bestselling series include Town in a Cinnamon Toast (Book 7), Town in a Sweet Pickle (Book 6), Town in a Strawberry Swirl (Book 5), Town in a Pumpkin Bash (Book 4), Town in a Wild Moose Chase (Book 3), Town in a Lobster Stew (Book 2), and Town in a Blueberry Jam (Book 1). Large print editions of the books and an audiobook of Town in a Blueberry Jam are also available. For more information on the series, visit http://www.hollidaysblueberryacres.com.

 

 

Guest Blog Post – Is it a matter of coincidence? By Linda Reilly

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9780425274156A funny thing happened on the way to the publisher . . .

There are so many components that go into writing a mystery. Fun characters, sneaky red herrings, a plethora of guilty-looking suspects . . .  all of these have to be dumped together, shaken up, and poured out into a cohesive story.

When I was writing the initial draft of A FRYING SHAME, I needed to come up with a street name. The street itself wasn’t important—simply a quick reference by the police detective as to why she was late for her meeting with Talia Marby, my main character.

Normally I’d stare out the window to dream up a name, or I’d think of a street name from my childhood. I still can’t recall how I came up with “Oriole Road” that day, but it found its way into the story.

A few months after I turned in the manuscript to my publisher, my husband broke his hip. During the early stages of his post-surgery rehab, we decided the time was right for us to move to a place where he’d no longer have to climb stairs. I found a promising apartment complex nearby, and decided to check it out. A newly renovated unit had just become available, with full bath and master bedroom on the ground level. It was perfect! Even more delightful was that the upstairs bedroom would make the ideal writing lair for me.

We took the apartment. As soon as my husband was well enough to go home after weeks of physical therapy, we moved in. The address of our wonderful new apartment? Oriole Court. But the street name didn’t even ring a bell — not until the publisher sent me the edits for A Frying Shame. I was stunned to realize I’d named a random street Oriole Road months before we’d even thought about moving! (insert Twilight Zone music here)

I’ll bet you’re thinking I’d driven past that street before, and that somehow the name got stuck in my sub-conscious. Nope. Oriole Court is an internal street within the apartment community. I couldn’t have seen it from the main drag unless I’d driven into the complex. And I hadn’t.

I’ve decided that the universe was whispering in my ear the day I made up that street name. The hubby and I are very happy in our Oriole Court apartment, just as Talia Marby, the fry cook in the Deep Fried mysteries, is loving her new digs in Wrensdale, Massachusetts. Living in her nana’s bungalow, she’s been having a blast transforming the old fish and chips shop into a deep-fried eatery.

But it’s not without its challenges. Wherever Talia goes, murder seems to pop into the picture. If you’re in the Berkshires, stop by Fry Me a Sliver and enjoy a deep-fried treat. The ambiance is cozy, the AC is pumping out chilled air, and the deep fryer is sizzling. And be sure to eavesdrop on the local gossip . . . you can bet it’ll be all about murder.

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Guest Blog Post – Jenn McKinlay Explains Where Her Characters Come From

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9780399583810Where do your characters come from? Are they really you?

I get this question a lot. I mean a lot. Here’s the short answer – No, they aren’t me. I mean, I don’t think they’re me. Maybe just parts of me? When I step back and look at the characters in the cupcake bakery mystery series, I see glimmers of myself in all of them. So, I suppose it’s sort of like your children, you know, when you don’t see yourself in them but people keep telling you that the toddler — usually, when he’s screaming his head off — looks just like you. Um…thanks?

Melanie Cooper the chief baker of Fairy Tale Cupcakes is tall, okay, that’s me, blond, nope, not me, and very self-conscious, ha, totally not me. Her partner in baked goods, Angie DeLaura, is short, nope, not me, Italian, sadly, not me, and has a wicked temper as is evidenced if you mess with the people she cares about, okay, there I am! And then there’s Tate Harper, their male counterpart. Tate is brilliant in business, laughably no, not me. He’s level-headed and reasonable, okay, sometimes I can pull that off with three days warning and lots of practice. And he’s a dude, nope, not me.

Moving on to the entourage of side characters in the cupcake bakery series, there’s octogenarian Marty, who is a cranky curmudgeon. I am working my way there in another forty years or so. Marty is my hero! And there’s Oz, a young Hispanic skater dude and wannabe chef. We do share a love of the Ramones, skateboards, and baked goods, so while Oz is not me, he clearly is my people.

Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The bad people and the victims in my books are usually loosely based on people I do not like. They may be the jerk who cheated on my friend, the woman who slept through the green arrow when I was in a hurry, the boss I did not enjoy working for back when I had a real job, or the news story that caught my attention about a reprehensible human who was cruel to an animal who I desperately want to slap until my arm gives out…ahem. So, that’s the birth place of the bad people.

And lastly, how do I come up with what my characters look like? Magazines. Mel and Angie in particular came off the cover of Prevention Magazine back when I was working as a librarian at the Scottsdale Hospital and cobbling together the very first proposal for Sprinkle with Murder. I was doing some reference work for a doctor on bone spurs and my mind wandered — it happens — and I started thinking about what those two cupcake bakers would look like when I glanced down at Prevention Magazine and there they were on the cover. Yes, sometimes it is just that easy.

So, that’s the long answer to the question of whether my characters are me. I guess I have to change my original answer. In a way, they are all me but they are also all of the people in my life, good and bad. The shenanigans my people get up to are frequently turned into something the characters in the books would do. And sometimes when I meet a particularly interesting person, I take their whole backstory and use it for a character or two or three. I believe the moral of this tale is be careful what you say and do around a writer because you just might find yourself in a book. Pro tip: You don’t want to be the dead guy.

And now, here’s a brief description of the next cupcake bakery mystery Caramel Crush so you see what the crazy crew is up to this time. Who knows? You may see someone you know it there!

 

When a breakup via cupcake threatens to crumble their friend’s life for good, Mel and Angie race to solve the murder as this New York Times bestselling series continues…

Love is in the air at Fairy Tale Cupcakes as bridezilla Angie prepares for her wedding, but co-owner, Mel, is preparing for a breakup. Her old friend, Diane Earnest, is dumping her fiancé after discovering he’s only marrying her for her money. She wants Mel to personally deliver a batch of caramel breakup cupcakes to the louse and give her a play-by-play of his reaction.

When Mel finally tracks the man down, the look on his face isn’t the reaction she was expecting: he’s dead. After the police arrive and see the incriminating cupcakes, Diane becomes their prime suspect. If she hopes to taste freedom again, Mel and Angie must make sure the real killer gets their just desserts…

Thanks for letting me visit! Happy Reading!

Jenn

 

Book Review -Gone Without A Trace

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Gone Without A Trace

By Mary Torjussen

Berkley

April 2017

Cover Art by TK

In Mary Torjussen’s thriller “Gone Without A Trace,” Hannah feels confident that her training course in Oxford will lead to a promotion. She’s currently a senior manager for a sizable accounting firm. While it may be too early to celebrate, she can’t wait to tell her boyfriend Matt the news.

After a 200-mile drive back to her home in northwest England, she is stunned to find not a single possession of his in the home they shared. There is no “I’m leaving you” note. There was no phone call detailing the reasons why he wanted to leave her. Nothing. The only thing she can do is find him. Find out if he had another life elsewhere. This is where her obsession evolves. She becomes hyperaware of every little clue and they are barely visible that even the reader begins to search the rooms with her. She knows a person can not simply disappear. Her obsession begins to alter her appearance, her ability to focus at work, take care of her home, and her health.

There are only a few people she dares tell what she’s experiencing: her co-worker, Sam, her friend Katie and former lover, James, who is Katie’s boyfriend. Their texts and phone calls make her feel like she’s going crazy. That she should simply accept what happened and move on with her life. But she can’t and everything she learns merely pushes her closer and closer to the edge.

GONE WITHOUT A TRACE is a psychological thriller that flows so well from chapter to chapter that you are compelled to read more. I found that you are trapped by Hannah’s obsession. It drags you so completely into her POV.  When things begin to take an intentional path. You begin to wonder who is after her and why. I was caught off guard by the “who” and shook my head at the end. Don’t people learn their lesson? At the heart of it, that’s the part that scares you.

five post-it notes out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

first posted – February 25, 2017

Book Review – Pekoe Most Poison, A Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs

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Book Review –  Pekoe Most Poison

A Tea Shop Mystery #18

By Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime

Hardcover

311 pages

March 7, 2017

Life for Theodosia Browning is never boring. In this new Tea Shop Mystery, Theo and Drayton, her knowledgeable tea sommelier and dear friend, are invited to attend an unusual tea at Calhoun Mansion. The theme dates back to the beginning of World War II when war workers came to the navy shipyard in Charleston County, North Carolina, to build and repair shops. The increased population led to poor sanitation and more rats. Charleston found an effective means of removing them. Aiding in the cause, ladies’ groups held “rat teas” to share the method with other cities.

This unusual revisited tea is at the heart of the mystery. Doreen Briggs, the president of the Ladies Opera Auxiliary, hosts a rat tea. No sooner does the it start, when a series of unfortunate situations lead not only to the demise of the event, but Doreen’s husband, as well. Her husband, Beau Briggs, owned apartment buildings in North Carolina and was a business partner of the new Gilded Magnolia Spa.

After questioning the guests, Detective Riley ends the party. Shortly after, Drayton mentions to Theo that Doreen requested that she conduct a personal investigation to ensure a donation is given to the Heritage Society. Drayton is very involved with the society and Theo has been successful, in the past, being an amateur sleuth. Yes, Doreen is slightly manipulative and it would appear it’s because she has so much tied into bad investments her husband made with her money. Theo’s investigation begins and will take a big mouse trap to catch the guilty party.

PEKOE MOST POISON has a strange beginning this time around for a Tea Shop Mystery: a catering crew dressed with rat heads, but that’s what I love about the series. You can bet it will start with a big society party and jump right into a murder. This one had a lot of red herrings, which I prefer to call intentional twists on the path to the truth. I know this is fiction, but I’m thinking real world situation, I would think Doreen would know the importance of protecting her money from her husband’s not-so-perfect track record of business deals. So that threw me off a bit. Her financial planner should have requested her signature on all documents and filled her in to what was happening. Fire the man if he didn’t. Doreen was also really pushy when it came to getting Theo to investigate. A lawyer should have assisted her in getting back funds, not Theo. But I loved Theo’s courage and intuitive nature and that she and Drayton seem to make a great team. I like the fact that Drayton is an older gentleman who knows about tea blends, history and serving. As for the killer, I was a little suspicious of the individual, but didn’t expect the ending. She fooled me again. Liked this book and can’t wait to read the next.

Four rat traps out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

April 2, 2017

Guest Blog Post – China Bayles series reaches its 25th book!

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The Last Chance Olive Ranch, A China Bayles Mystery, by Susan Witting Albert, Berkley Prime Crime hardcover, On sale: April 4, 2017, $27.00, 291 pages,

By Susan Witting Albert

SusanWittigAlbert2017 is a landmark year in the history of the China Bayles series, for The Last Chance Olive Ranch is the 25th book in the series. Back in 1992, when Thyme of Death was published, I couldn’t have imagined that China, Ruby, and I would still be sleuthing, 25 books later. But we are, and I know I speak for them—and for all their friends in Pecan Springs—when I say that we’ve loved every minute of it.

If you’ve been with the series for a while, you know that (unlike the characters in some other mystery series), the fictional people in Pecan Springs grow and change with the years, just as you and I and our real-people friends do. For me, that’s been one of the pleasures of this series: watching China and Ruby as they not only solve whatever mystery they stumble across, but as they meet the challenges of changing lives. This series has a strong character arc—and for me, that makes it fun to write.

When we first met China in Thyme of Death, she was a stubbornly single woman. Her herb shop, Thyme and Seasons, was a refuge from her high-stress life as a criminal defense attorney, and the small Texas town of Pecan Springs was a slow-lane getaway from fast-paced Houston. But by Book 6 (Love Lies Bleeding) China has to decide whether to marry her longtime lover, Mike McQuaid—and she does, finally, in Book 8, Lavender Lies. McQuaid is a package deal, for he brings with him his young son Brian and their basset hound, Howard Cosell—too large a family to cram into China’s bachelor-girl apartment at the back of her herb shop. Mistletoe Man (Book 9) finds China and her new family living in a big Victorian house on Limekiln Road, west of Pecan Springs.

Another change happens for China in Bloodroot (Book 10), for that’s when she and her mother finally dig into the issues that have kept them apart for many years and begin a healthier and happier mother-daughter relationship. And in Nightshade, the final book of a trilogy (Books 14-16), China finally comes to terms with her dead father (a dominant force in her growing-up years), meets and then loses her half-brother, and gains a daughter, nine-year-old Caitlin.

Other books trace the life and loves of Ruby Wilcox, China’s best friend and partner, and the many changes in their business. What started as two independent shops morphs into a full-fledged business partnership that includes a tea room, a party and catering business, and a gourmet food service. China’s shop changes physically, too, as her one-time apartment becomes a dining room and kitchen, and the loft (in the upcoming 2018 book, Queen Anne’s Lace, becomes a weaving studio. And of course there are the gardens around the shop, and the cottage (now a bed-and-breakfast) at the back.

Other important characters appear as well, each of whom has his or her own character arc: Mike McQuaid, China’s husband, first a cop, now a college professor and private investigator; Sheila Dawson, the first female chief of Pecan Springs police; and Blackie Blackstone, the county sheriff who becomes McQuaid’s partner in a PI firm; and of course Brian and Caitie, China’s kids, growing with each book.

I love mysteries, and a strong central whodunit will always serve as the plot that moves the story from beginning to end. But for me, the people who live in the little town of Pecan Springs (halfway between Austin and San Antonio, at the edge of the Texas Hill Country) will always be at the heart of each book. They are just as real and interesting as my neighbors and friends, and I know from your letters and emails that you see them that way, too.

So I hope you enjoy The Last Chance Olive Ranch as it takes China and Ruby into some interesting new territory, challenges McQuaid to settle some old and painful scores, and reveals that Brian is opening a new and surprising chapter in his life.

It’s never “business as usual” in Pecan Springs. And I for one am delighted that after 25 years, there are new things to learn about our very dear friends.

Guest Blog Post – Gone with the Twins By Kylie Logan, author of A League of Literary Ladies Mysteries

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Each new mystery I write is an adventure. Some books start with the germ of an idea planted by something I read about or see on TV.  Other books come to life thanks to an interesting person I meet, a snatch of conversation I overhear, or some nugget of history or legend that niggles at my brain, demanding its own story.

9780425282960

Gone with the Twins, A League of Literary Ladies Mystery by Kylie Logan.  Berkley Prime Crime Mass Market Paperback. Pub. Date: March 7, 2017, $7.99.

But when it comes to my League of Literary Ladies mysteries, the creative process works a little differently.  That’s because of the basic concept of the series–four warring neighbors on an island in Lake Erie keep taking each other to court and the magistrate gets tired of dealing with their petty problems. He tells them that if only they’d talk to each other, maybe they’d learn to get along, and to get them to do that, he sentences them to be a book discussion group.  That was Square One when it came to the Literary Ladies. Square Two?  I decided each of their adventures would be based on the classic book they’re reading.

 What that means, of course, is that I can’t depend on things like an overheard conversation or an interesting news article to start the creative juices flowing.  For each book, I have to start with classic books, and I have to find books with plots that I can twist and turn to turn into the elements of each mystery.

The next step in the process, though is seems easier, is really the kicker–not only do I need classic plots, I need recognizable titles that can be tweaked–just a tad–to make them appropriate for the mystery genre.

So far, the two elements have meshed pretty well.  Book #1 was “Mayhem at the Orient Express.”  It was followed by “A Tale of Two Biddies,” “The Legend of Sleepy Harlow,” and “And Then There Were Nuns.”  When I had a chance to write a fifth book in series, I had to get back to work with a snappy title in mind.

I can’t remember the titles I thought of an rejected. I do know that when I came up with  “Gone With the Twins,” I knew I’d hit paydirt. The title is instantly familiar, and there’s enough fodder in the Margaret Mitchell classic that it allowed me to let my imagination go wild.

I kept my South Bass Island setting, of course, because the Ladies of the League wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t dealing with the joys and frustrations of island life.  Then I allowed myself to play with Mitchell’s elements:

We’ve got two warring bed and breakfast inns, one on the north side of the island and one on the south.

We’ve got a Civil War gala, a Lady of the League who’s gone ga-ga over the antebellum south, and of course, the Twins, children of a Hollywood superstar who were once kidnapped and became household names because of their miraculous escape and are now turning the island on its head.

Add to that local vixen Vivien Frisk, the object of every guys’ affection who can fiddle-dee-dee and bat her eyelashes with the best of them, and you can see where this is going.

For the League’s leading Lady, Bea Cartwright, it’s headed straight for trouble.  Especially when Vivien is found dead and Bea discovers that everybody’s favorite island belle had more enemies than you can shake a stick at. 

Frankly, my dear, I hope you join me on South Bass Island for the latest adventure of the League of Literary Ladies! 

Author’s website: http://www.kylielogan.com

 

Book Review- Custom Baked Murder

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Custom Baked Murder

By Liz Mugavero

A Pawsitively Organic Mystery #5

Kensington

Jan. 2017

Paperback, $7.99

Includes gourmet pet food recipes

Appeals to cozy mystery and pet lovers

Includes pet recipes

Set in Frog Ledge, Connecticut

Kristan Connor is up against a deadline in opening her new pet patisserie and café. Trying to stop her mother from planning the café’s construction and layout, without her permission, is nearly impossible. The woman is always a step ahead of her and feels she has every right to being an investor.

Adding to her high stress level is the murder of Eleanor Chang during her mother and future step-father, Mayor Tony Falco’s, engagement party. Eleanor is Kristan’s former colleague and the mayor’s executive coach. She was found murdered in the bathroom of the mayor’s home by Kristan’s sister, Caitlyn. Missing in action is the mayor. Minutes later, Stan leads Jessie Pasquale, Frog Ledge Resident State Trooper First Class, to the victim. No one is allowed to leave the house before being questioned. The authorities arrest Kristan’s ex, who is Eleanor’s lover, and then have the difficult task of informing Eleanor’s daughter that she’s been killed. What’s strange is the daughter doesn’t seem shocked that her mother was murdered and that she flees the scene.

Not one to back down from a mystery, Kristan intuitively follows the clues to the true killer. Because Eleanor was a pushy, heavily involved, take-all-the-credit businesswoman she made more than a few enemies.

Custom Baked Murder appealed to me on several levels: as a pet lover who enjoys the personalities and antics of the protagonist’s pets and as a mystery lover who loves to tie the clues together, find the intentional false clues, and then the moment of truth. This one also caught me off guard. As a reader, I wouldn’t have naturally chosen the individual who was the killer. What a great twist. Having the murder happen during a well-attended party was gutsy for the murderer. Talk about really having it in for that person. The only thing that I couldn’t see is calling Kristan “Stan.” Can’t wait to read other Liz Mugavero books.

Four Parmesan Cheese Bones out of five

Denise Fleischer

Gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

March 25, 2017