Blog Tour – Beyond Danger by Kat Martin

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Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura County Star

 Surviving Danger

 As a writer, Im always looking for new story ideas.  I often find that past experiences can be a great help.  Have you ever survived a dangerous situation?  How did you do it?

When I was first learning to snow ski, I got caught after dark on top of Stowe Mountain in Vermont.  It’s a huge ski area.  It was my first day on skis and somehow I got separated from my friends.  I wound up on a black diamond run and of course I started falling–throwing myself down in the snow was the only way I knew how to stop! 

Image 1-16-18 at 8.08 PMBy the time I got half way down the mountain, the ski lifts had all stopped running and it was dark and freezing cold.  I tried taking off my skis and walking, but the snow was deep and it was even harder than trying to ski.  I knew I was in big trouble.  

Maybe the reason I started writing Romantic Suspense had something to do with that day.  Just when I was ready to give up and just wait for whatever was going to happen to happen, a guy came skiing down the hill out of nowhere.  

Instead of skiing on by, he swished to a stop right next to me.  He must have realized I was in trouble and if I didn’t get down the mountain, I could die in the subzero weather that night.  The guy–my hero–helped me get up and start “skiing” back down the mountain.  He showed me how to snow plow, helped me turn and never left me, no matter how many times I fell.  

It took hours to get off that mountain.  We wound up in an empty parking lot, where his car was parked, and he drove me back to the main lodge where my friends were waiting.  I never saw him again, but I’ve never forgotten him.  There is a chance he might have saved my life that night.    

So I guess there really are heroes out there in the real world.  At least I believe that.  Beau Reese, the hero in BEYOND DANGER, is that kind of guy.  

Mega-richblack-haired, and blue-eyed, Beau was a highly successful race car driver before he left the circuit, sort of a Texas Paul Newman.  Beau loves fast cars and fast women, but under it all he’s a one-woman man and Cassidy Jones is just the right woman for him.

Unfortunately, Beau is wanted for murder.

The good news is, Cassidy is a detective.  Shes convinced of Beau’s innocence and determined to prove it.

I hope you’ll watch for BEYOND DANGER, and in June, you’ll look for BEYOND CONTROL, Josh Cain’s story.  If you haven’t read BEYOND REASON, I hope you’ll give it a try.

Till next time, all best and happy reading, Kat

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New Title – The Queen of Hearts

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Guest Blog Post – First Suspend, Then Fun

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By Laura Bradford

Author of Dial M For Mousse, an Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery

When you write a cozy mystery you have certain aspects you must adhere to, not the least of which is the whole small-town/amateur sleuth backdrop. In and of itself, basing a story in a small town provides lots of background fodder—gossip, connections, fights, secrets, etc.  But when it comes to the mystery component and the fact that murder must happen in this small town again and again (and again), you need your readers to be willing to suspend reality to an extent. Still, just as they need to accept the fact that ten murders have happened in quaint little Nowheresville, Ohio in as many (or less) years, you, as the writer, must make your sleuth’s reason for getting involved believable. Because really, why is the average-Joe bookseller going to keep putting herself in harm’s way to solve yet another murder?

It’s that challenge that I find particularly fun about writing a cozy mystery. I like seeing how the main murder plot can draw my main character toward it, rather than away from it like most normal people would go.

Just by the very nature of my Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, my main character, Winnie Johnson, is on the go—delivering her emergency themed desserts to college dorm rooms, businesses, personal residences, and even local politicians. So the potential for her to stumble across something out of the ordinary is higher than, say, a bookseller who stays in one place. But even if she comes across a body, there has to be a reason she’d want to get involved rather than just go home, detox with a hunk of chocolate, and let the local cops do their job.

In Éclair and Present Danger, the debut book in the series, grief propels Winnie to get involved when her elderly neighbor is murdered.

In The Silence of the Flans, book #2 in the series, desperation propels Winnie to get involved when the victim dies while eating one of her desserts.

And in Dial M for Mousse, the latest book in the series, anger propels Winnie to get involved when a routine delivery is manipulated into an alibi for murder.

So while it may be hard to fathom stumbling across dead bodies on a routine basis, everyone, on some level, knows grief…and desperation…and anger. And as long as we can identify on some level, suspending reality for our small town backdrop isn’t all that difficult. In fact, it’s actually kind of fun…

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Dial M for Mousse, book # 3 in the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries by Laura Bradford, is now available wherever you buy your cozy mysteries. It’s available in both mass market paperback and E-book.

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Laura is the national bestselling author of several mystery series, including the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Amish Mysteries, and the brand new Tobi Tobias Mysteries. Her first women’s fiction novel, Portrait of a Sister, will release in June 2018. When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, baking, and being an advocate for those living with Multiple Sclerosis.

To learn more, visit her website: www.laurabradford.com, or hang out with her on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/laurabradfordauthor/?fref=ts. She can also be found occasionally tweeting at: @Bradfordauthor.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – Like Broken China

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Like Broken China

By J.D. Thompson

Women’s Fiction

Nov. 21, 2017

252 pages

Amazon Digital Services

A young and naïve Courtney sailed into a relationship before thinking things out clearly. That led her and Matt nowhere when they rushed into marriage. Home became the dark basement in his parents’ house, money was beyond their grasp, and Matt frequently quit his job.

Matt finally gets his act together before the birth of their second child. He takes to the skies in aviation school while Courtney cared for their two children. By the time she turned 30, they were living well, but Matt had a drinking problem. To make matters worse, he has an affair with a stewardess. Now their marriage is over.

Courtney wouldn’t let the agony of a broken heart define the rest of her life. She moves out of their family home and into the apartment above the dental office where she works. She struggles to balance her responsibilities of being a mother and an employee. Then she learns that her boss is retiring and another dentist will be taking over his practice. She fears she’ll lose her job. Other challenges come along the way that have her questioning how she can create stability in her life and happiness, as well.

Like Broken China is about the choices we make in life that often shatter families. Courtney and Matt started their marriage without funds to support themselves and later their children. They relied on his parents to keep a roof over their heads. Matt either had low self-esteem or hated the way his life was turning out to constantly be drinking. Courtney probably thought there was no way she could support her and the children so she accepted the marriage until it was too difficult. This is how real life is. I think Thompson did a good job showing how real marriages can be. I find it interesting that she chose to reveal their past experiences in one chapter and the next has their life today. Not ever reader may like that, but if writers don’t think outside of the box everything would be predictable. So, Thompson deserves a pat on the back for her effort. This is a fast read and I think you’ll like it.

Four dental chairs out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

January 1, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – Not a Creature Was Purring

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Not a Creature Was Purring

By Krista Davis

A Paws & Claws Mystery

Berkley Prime Crime paperback

Nov. 7, 2017

289 pages, including recipes

$7.99

It’s Christmas time in Wagtail, Virginia and Sugar Maple Inn’s co-owner Holly Miller is busy trying to make the holiday special for a few children that have lost their parents. When Holly and a friend aren’t sneaking around on a golf cart as elves, they are checking out Rupert Grimpley’s oversized Grinch. Holly is also doing the legwork for her grandmother who is the town’s mayor, running the inn, and manning a Christkindl Market booth.

On top of that, Holly and the crew at the inn are extremely busy catering to the needs of the Thackleberry family. They clearly are demanding, spoiled and have checked out of reality. Among Dale Thackleberry’s clan is an old friend of Holly’s, Holmes Richardson, and his fiancée, Norma Jeanne Blume.

Even though Dale’s daughter, EmmyLou, is doing her best to see that her family has a great holiday, fate has other plans. It will take more than delicious meals and a miniature village to erase the fact that her father was found dead on Grimpley’s property. While some of the family members truly experience loss, others are already trying to determine inheritance.

The pet clothing-line creators seems to have more than a murder investigation to worry about. For one, their company is being blamed for pets losing their fur after wearing their clothing line. Tim and Linda’s son, Blake, seems to have ditched medical school to be a fashion blogger celeb and Norma Jeanne thinks she’s Kim K. and can do whatever she wants.

I read the book because I was looking for a holiday mystery. Not A Creature Was Purring doesn’t disappoint. All the characters, including Trixie (the Jack Russell) and Twinkletoes (a calico cat) have 3D personalities that demand your attention. I actually didn’t guess the guilty party, even though I always think it’s either the person who hates the victim the most or who you trust the most. The storyline moved along with a quick pace. Crazy things kept on happening. I was never bored. Always love visiting the inn to see what Holly and her Oma are up to. Did think Holmes’ situation was resolved too easily. He should have known Holly is the woman for him.

Four out of five huge and outrageous Christmas decorations

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

Jan. 6, 2018

 

 

 

 

Gotta have mysteries for cozy lovers…

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GHOST ON THE CASE

By Carolyn Hart

Crime solving ghost Bailey Ruth has a mess on her heavenly hands in GHOST ON THE CASE (Berkley Prime Crime; October 3, 2017; $26), the latest from the New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Times Two.

Bailey Ruth Raeburn has a new mission straight from her heavenly supervisor at the Department of Good Intentions, and it’s a matter of life and death!

Bailey Ruth arrives in Adelaide, OK as Susan Gilbert receives a $100,000 ransom demand for her sister. The caller demands that Susan slip into the home of Wilbur Fitch, her wealthy boss, open the safe, and await instructions. Bailey Ruth, true to an emissary’s orders to work unseen, follows Susan to the home and is in a quandary, knowing that robbery is scarcely a Heavenly pursuit.

When the phone doesn’t ring, Susan is terribly distraught. Bailey Ruth takes advantage of the reprieve to press Susan for information about the safe, pointing out that the caller had to know that the money was there, and that Susan could open the safe. Bailey Ruth is confident she can use her PI skills to figure out who arranged the kidnapping, but things take a totally unexpected twist the next morning and Bailey Ruth seeks a murderer who has boxed Susan into a deadly corner.

About the Author:

Carolyn Hart is the New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty novels of mystery and suspense including the Bailey Ruth Ghost novels and the Death on Demand mysteries.

 

 

The Secret, Book &n Scone Society 1

Kensington Hardcover Oct. 2017.

 

THE SECRET, BOOK & SCONE SOCIETY

By Ellery Adams

From New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams comes the first in an intriguing new series set within a quirky small-town club where the key to happiness, friendship—or solving a murder—can all be found within the pages of the right book . . .

Miracle Springs, North Carolina, is a place of healing. Strangers flock here hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone from the Gingerbread House bakery, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain and lighten their heaviest burden.

When a visiting businessman reaches out to Nora for guidance, she knows exactly which novels will help. But before he can keep their appointment at Miracle Books, he’s found dead on the train tracks.

Stunned, Nora forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of damaged souls yearning to gain trust and earn redemption by helping others. To join the society, members must divulge their darkest secret—the terrible truth that brought each of them to Miracle Springs in the first place.

Determined to uncover the truth behind the businessman’s demise, the women meet in Nora’s cramped and cozy bookstore to share stories and trade support. And as they untangle a web of corruption, they also discover their own courage, purpose, and a sisterhood that will carry them through every challenge—proving it’s never too late to turn the page and start over . . .

Guest Blog Post: Kat Holloway’s Kitchen

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Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley, first in a new series, Berkley, trade paperback, Historical Mystery, $15.00, Jan. 2, 2018, 329 pages.

By Jennifer Ashley

Death Below Stairs, Book 1 of the Below Stairs Victorian Mysteries

When I decided to write the Kat Holloway mysteries (Book 1, Death Below Stairs, January 2018), featuring a cook in the 1880s, I had to plunge into research not only about Victorian Britain, and not only about the food the upstairs families would eat, but how that food was prepared.

I like to cook and bake myself, and in fact, have a hard time saying no to purchasing cookbooks. And so it was an enjoyment to search for and read various cookbooks from the past, and in doing so, I realized that not all that much has changed.

These days, cookbooks pour out from publishers every month, and this was not much different in the nineteenth century. Publishers in Britain and America published book after book to feed the audience of middle and upper-class women who wanted to put the best possible meals on the table to impress their friends and their husband’s cronies. Ladies of the house pored over the recipes and copied out what they wanted for their cooks (not all cooks could read). Especially popular were cookbooks written by upper-class ladies so all women could serve meals fit for the aristocracy.

My cook, Kat Holloway, learned cookery as an apprentice—she began as a kitchen maid, who would do the mundane chores of chopping, grating, beating, or whatever was required to assist the cook in preparing the meal. In a small household, she’d also scrub the dishes, light the fire, and blacken the stove.

Kat luckily learned from an excellent cook, and she also had a bit of schooling as a child and learned to read and write, so that she could go through cookbooks and perfect recipes on her own. By the time she was in her twenties, Kat was talented enough to be hired as a household’s head cook.  Because Kat’s skills were sought after, she could choose to take a post in a kitchen with a large and modern (and expensive) range, on which she could prepare elegant meals.

What kind of meals? The cookbook authors of the past thoughtfully spelled out exactly what should be served to whom and when. Mrs. Isabella Beeton, in particular, whose famous Book of Household Management is a compilation of recipes and advice published in magazines her husband owned, offers menus for every season of the year, for varying numbers of people, and for elegant parties vs family suppers:

Dinner for six persons (October)

First Course: Mock-Turtle Soup, Brill and Lobster Sauce, Fried Whitings.

Entrees: Fowl à la Béchamel, Oyster Patties.

Second Course: Roast Sucking-Pig, Stewed Hump of Beef à la Jardinière, Vegetables.

Third Course:  Grouse, Charlotte aux Pommes [Apple Charlotte], Coffee Cream, Cheesecakes, Apricot Tart, Iced Pudding.  (Beeton, Mrs. Isabella Mary. The Book of Household Management [p. 493].

She of course provides recipes for all these earlier in the book.  (A “fried whiting” is a small fish, dipped in egg, dredged with flour and bread crumbs and pan fried. Anything “à la Jardinière” means accompanied by garden vegetables.)

Mrs. Beeton’s idea of a “plain family dinner” looks fairly involved to me (though she makes good use of the party leftovers):

Sunday: Roast sucking-pig, tomato sauce and brain sauce; small boiled leg of mutton, caper sauce, turnips, and carrots. 2nd course. Damson tart, boiled batter pudding.

I have tried a few of the recipes I’ve found in various nineteenth-century cookbooks, most of which use ingredients that are still common today. Seed cake, so popular in Victorian Britain (enjoyed by Lady Cynthia in Death Below Stairs), is more or less a pound cake flavored with caraway seeds. I’ve made this cake, and though too much caraway isn’t to my taste, the cake is rich and buttery and moist.

Here’s a spicy-sounding one for tomato sauce, from A Few Choice Recipes, collected by Lady Sarah Lindsay in 1883:

“4 pounds of tomatoes, 6 oz. of shallots, and 4 oz. of garlic, to be boiled together gently for one hour. Rub through sieve as much as you can, and boil the pulp you cannot get through with 1 1/2 pints of vinegar, 4 oz. of salt, 2 drams of chilies [1 dram = 1/8 oz.] or 3 large capsicums [bell peppers], for a short time, then add the remainder of the sauce, some mushroom catsup, 2 or 3 cloves, and cayenne pepper. Boil one hour, strain when cooled.”

Though the preparation can seem laborious, none of the ingredients are strange to a modern cook: tomatoes, shallots, garlic, salt, vinegar, chilies or bell peppers, cloves, cayenne. Mushroom catsup was more common at the time than tomato catsup, and can still be purchased today (it is mushrooms boiled and mashed and spiced with anything from onions to nutmeg).

For every book, I must come up with different meals for Kat to prepare, and so I spend much time reading cookbooks, choosing recipes, and putting together menus. I expected when I started that I’d find strange and exotic foods at every meal, but I’m concluding that those in the nineteenth century did not eat much differently from us, at least on a day-to-day basis. Preparation methods have changed because of changes in technology, but I still make tomato sauce with garlic and onions, herbs and spices, and a touch of chili powder to make it pop.

I hope you enjoy Kat Holloway’s stories and her journeys into cookery and murder.

Book Review – Whispers of Warning

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Whispers of Warning

By Jessica Estevao

A Change of Fortune Mystery – book 2

Berkley Prime Crime – Historical

Trade paperback, 323 pages

$15.00

setting: Old Orchard Maine – a seaside community

In “Whispers of Warning,” Ruby Proulx and her aunt Honoria attend an outdoor speaking engagement of the very outspoken Sophronia Foster Eldridge. The Suffrage rally is guaranteed to attract the heated attention of husbands and businessmen who forbid their wives to have voices and to be employed. Sophronia is a guest at Honoria’s hotel and she’s determined to see that women of her generation, and those in the future, have a right to vote. Adding to the flames of unwanted change, her speech also addresses the corrupt men that hold positions of power who have secret dealings. She further states that she has written a book exposing corruption having been guided by a spirit. Chaos breaks out and the authorities are forced to step in. Among them is Officer Yancy.

If that wasn’t enough to stir up trouble and anger when the new pier is opening, a Suffrage march will surely do the job. Sophronia asks for the assistance of Officer Yancy’s sister, the impressionable and often non-conforming Miss Lucy, to assist her. While Ruby is on her way in town to purchase a new feather duster, she witnesses Sophronia speaking in the alley with the Congressman who was protesting her actions at the rally. Ruby sees him shove Sophronia into a brick wall, but saw that she was able to walk away with little signs of injury.

Shortly after, Sophronia is found at the bottom of a nearby hotel pool. Though she is silenced forever, Ruby is determined to assist in the investigation, to learn who killed her and if her manuscript was responsible for her murder.

I love historical mysteries as well as romance. There’s so much you can learn about how people lived during a specific time period, about their issues, their social interactions, gender rights or lack of. Not only does Estevao transport you to that era, she shows how hostile it was to dare to speak up for women’s rights. She reminds us how men believed that society would crumble if women were given opportunities to do more than organize a household and have children. What makes the book even more interesting is Honoria’s hotel is staffed by people with skills that allow them to speak with those who have passed on, etc. Combine the suffrage rally and those with Spiritualists and you have a lot of conflict. Hope to see Ruby and Officer Yancy become a couple in book three. If not, I’m going to have to pay Yancy a visit.

Four manuscripts out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

Dec. 31, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Fiction Meets Reality by Gayle Leeson Author of Honey-Baked Homicide

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Honey-Baked Homicide By Gayle Leeson, Part of A Down South Cafe Mystery, paperback, Dec. 5, 2017, 279 pages.

I’d already determined that Stu Landon—the local beekeeper in Honey-Baked Homicide—was a quiet man before I ever met him. Let me back up just a smidgeon. If you’ve read Silence of the Jams, then you might recall that Stu was in the café one day and suggested that Amy put some honey on her cut finger to help with the healing process.

So I’d met Stu already. I respected him and had a fairly good idea of who he might be. One thing I knew for certain was that Stu wasn’t much of a talker. What I didn’t know much about was beekeeping. Being a modern writer, my first order of business was to Google “beekeeping.” But, although Google is fantastic, I always get a better feel for something when I can experience it firsthand. When I learned there was a beekeeping farm only a 35-minute drive from me, I was off.

Hiltons, Virginia is a beautiful, rural area. When my GPS told me I’d arrived at the bee farm, however, I thought it must be mistaken. I saw no farm, no beehives, no sign. The closest thing to me that I did see was a gas station. I drove on over, parked, and asked a man at the pump for directions.

“Oh, yeah!” he said. And then he said something along the lines of, “Go back the way you came until you come to a little road off to your left. Get on that road and follow it a little piece until you see a sign for the bee farm. Can’t miss it.”

Wanna bet? I thought. But I got back in the car and went in search of the “little road” I was to follow a “little piece.” With directions like those, how could I possibly get lost?

After a couple of misses, I eventually wound up on the correct road. My direction-giver hadn’t been embellishing when he’d called the road “little.” It was so narrow that I believe I could’ve shaken hands with the drivers coming from the other direction had we both had our windows down and were feeling neighborly. The road was curvy too, so not only was I navigating the hairpin turns, I was looking for the sign. At last, there it was. It slipped up on me, but I managed to slam on the brakes and make the turn.

This new road I’d turned onto was all gravel and ruts. I creeped forward, dust billowing all around, looking for the farm. All I could see at the end of this—what turned out to be—very long driveway was a house and a garage. Was I in the right place? The sign told me I was. But where were the hives? I’d been expecting to see rows upon rows of beehives, but I couldn’t spot a single one.

When I parked and got out of the car, I saw that the garage was actually a shop. I went inside and saw a note that read, “Ring bell for service.” I rang the bell. As I waited for someone to appear, I examined all the beekeeping paraphernalia. There were hive kits, frames, form boards, hats with veils, jars, etc.

Soon, a man joined me in the shop. “Can I help you?”

I introduced myself and said I’d like to know more about beekeeping for a book I was writing.

“What do you need to know?”

I thought he’d launch into a monologue on the joys of beekeeping, but I was mistaken. Everything I asked was answered in friendly but clipped sentences. I was standing there thinking, “This is Stu Langdon!” Fortunately, Stu did provide me with a booklet that answered all my questions and gave me some really interesting information.

So, when you read the scene in Honey-Baked Homicide where Amy is worried about her car after traveling the deeply-rutted road to and from Landon’s Farm, you’ll know I was writing from experience.

 

 

 

Guest Blog Post – When people ask me how much of me is Emmy Adler…

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Readers sometimes tilt their heads at me and ask, “How much of you is Emmy Adler?”

Emmy is the heroine of my kite shop mysteries, including the second in the series, Live and Let Fly. Emmy is in her early 30s, an artist-kitemaker, and a bit confused about her romantic life. Since the series is written in Emmy’s point of view, it’s natural for readers to wonder how similar we are. Am I like her? Not a bit! And, yet, of course I am.

First for the “not a bit” part. Without getting specific, I’m, well, a bit older than Emmy. I’ve never crafted a kite. I live in a city, not a tiny beach town like Rock Point. While Emmy has Bear, an Australian Shepherd, I have two cats. Unlike Emmy, my romantic life is firmly under control.

At the same time, Emmy and I have a lot in common. First is our shared sense of humor. Emmy wouldn’t have parents who take part in a Watergate reenactment club if it didn’t crack me up. Emmy laughs at it, too, and she, like I, think it’s hilarious that the National Bloodhound reporter in Live and Let Fly is named Nicky Byrd the third, and that the murder victim, Jasmine Normand, was on a reality TV dating safari show called Bag That Babe.

Plus, Emmy and I also both like food. I didn’t intend it to happen, but when Emmy fetches a cup of coffee or a tuna melt at her best friend Avery’s café, the Brew House, we both luxuriate in its fragrance and taste. I know authors who dread that their characters have to eat from time to time, but I enjoy describing meals, from Rock Point’s Tidal Basin’s glass of pinot noir to its sautéed morel mushrooms and salmon steak.

Finally, Emmy and I both share a soft spot for misfits. While in Live and Let Fly the rest of the town dismisses cranky Marcus Salek as just another sourpuss, Emmy recognizes the hurt beneath his sarcasm. She’s also willing to understand the eloquent but clumsy Nicky Byrd as someone needing direction for his talent.

I feel that way, too. It’s the offbeat people around me who have inspired me to break off from corporate America. I can’t help but embrace dreamers and explorers, and I guess that’s why I write mysteries and why quirky folks will always earn a central place in what I write.

Really, the best people are just a hair off kilter. Emmy is, and so am I. Maybe you are, too?

READ AN EXCERPT of Live and Let Fly click here

About Clover Tate:

Clover Tate is a former congressional investigator and the author of the Kite Shop Mysteries, including Blown Away and Live and Let Fly.