September 28, 2016

Leann Sweeney - Cozy Mystery Author Spotlight and Interview


I am going to be hosting a number of cozy mystery authors on my blog for the next two months. If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying a cozy mystery I encourage you to do so. The cozy mystery industry as a whole is in danger of being lost as the publishers are ending a number of series. Please note that not all series I will be sharing are in danger. There are many that will be continuting on as normal. I just wanted to do my part to make everyone aware of this genre as a whole. 

Today I will be showcasing Leann Sweeney


About this author:
Leann Sweeney was born and raised in Niagara Falls and educated at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Lemoyne College in Syracuse, NY. She also has a degree from the University of Houston in behavioral science and worked for many years in psychiatry and as a school nurse; she now writes full time.

She began crafting fiction in 1980, fulfilling her lifelong dream. After perfecting her skills with classes and a small fortune in writing books, she joined MWA and Sisters in Crime. Now she’s the creator of two NAL/Obsidian mystery series: The Yellow Rose Mysteries and the Cats in Trouble Mysteries. The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse, first in the Cats in Trouble Mysteries was the #1 bestseller on the Independent Mystery Bookseller’s List when it debuted and made several top twenty lists for 2009 at bookstores across the country. Since then, The Cat, The Lady and The Liar and The Cat, The Wife and The Weapon climbed all the way to the NY Times bestseller list for mass market paperbacks.

Leann is married with two fabulous grown children, a wonderful son-in-law and a beautiful daughter-in-law–not to mention three amazing granddaughters: Maddison Grace (Maddie), Morgan Elizabeth and Meika Elise. She lived in Texas from 1974 to 2012 and now lives in South Carolina with husband Mike, her two cats Wexford and Marlowe, and Rosie–the smart, retrieving, golf-ball chasing, busy-busy-busy mini-labradoodle. **From the author's website


Where to follow this author:


 Interview:
When did your love of writing begin? 
I wrote my first short story in the 4th grade but did not begin to pursue writing seriously until I turned 40.

What made you chose this genre? 
I love crime novels. I have since I picked up my first Nancy Drew, then Perry Mason, then Agatha Christie. But I have read all genres. Mysteries are just my favorite.

Do you have a scheduled writing time, place and/or routine? 
I write in the mornings. My energy levels are best then. I have fibromyalgia and it really has limited the amount of time I can spend writing—which is a pretty tiring thing, I found!

What do you do to get over writer's block?
 I am not a big believer in "writer's block." For me, if I am stuck, it means I have made a wrong turn in the story and written myself into a corner. So I go back and reread and I can usually find that place pretty quickly. I rewrite and go on from that spot.

What was it like to get y our first publishing contract? 
It was a very exciting moment and a few months later, not long after the horrific events of 9-11, Time Warner, who had offered me the contract, decided to shut down much of its publishing schedule. My contract was cancelled and my editor was let go. Then, she joined NAL three years later and gave me a call at work. (I was a nurse.) She offered me a three book deal because she remembered the book and still wanted to see it published. She is still my editor to this day fifteen years later.

How has the publishing/writing world changed since you first started writing?
 
Right now with all the mergers, it is an uncertain time. But I think there is always a place for good books and series that readers want to follow.

You write about strong female characters. Are they modeled after anyone? 
Not really. All characters, of course, come from a mix of life experience, but I have never consciously modeled a character after someone I know.

When you are not writing what do you like to do? 
When I once had a working arm (I broke my shoulder in June) I loved to quilt and cross stitch. I am also a TV addict. But most of all I love to read. I read every day.

Do you have any advice for beginning authors? 
Half of luck is just showing up. If you want to be published, you have to submit—and that means having more than one thing to submit. If you write for yourself, you have to show up at your computer with that blank page and get the words down. Writing is rewriting, no matter why you write.

Do you have a favorite author or book you would like to recommend to your readers? 
One of my favorite authors is Elizabeth George. Her first book, A Great Deliverance, just blew me away. But I have many "favorites." I took a five day writing workshop with her and learned so much. She is a wonderful teacher and has since written a book on writing, which I would recommend.

Please tell us five random things about yourself. 
I'm short, 
I'm sensitive, 
I love animals, 
I'm clumsy 
I once lived in England.

What I learned about this author:
She did not pursue writing seriously until later in life. Also she suffers from fibromyalgia. One of her pasttimes before she broke her arm was quilting. A favorite author of her's is Elizabeth George. What did you learn about her?

Stay tuned for the next author. 

Kathleen Bridge - Cozy Mystery Author Spotlight and Interview


I am going to be hosting a number of cozy mystery authors on my blog for the next two months. If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying a cozy mystery I encourage you to do so. The cozy mystery industry as a whole is in danger of being lost as the publishers are ending a number of series. Please note that not all series I will be sharing are in danger. There are many that will be continuting on as normal. I just wanted to do my part to make everyone aware of this genre as a whole. 

Today I will be showcasing Kathleen Bridge

About this author:
Kathleen Bridge, National Bestselling author of Hearse and Gardens and Better Homes and Corpses, and the upcoming 2017 release, Ghostal Living, started her writing career working at the Michigan State University News in East Lansing, Michigan. She is the author and photographer of an antiques reference guide, Lithographed Paper Toys, Books, and Games. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and has taught creative writing classes at Bryant Library in Roslyn, New York. Kathleen is also an antiques and vintage dealer in Long Island, New York, and has contributed to Country Living magazine.


Where to follow this author:


Interview:
When did your love of writing begin? 
My love of writing began with my first Nancy Drew book, around the same time I wrote, The Mystery of Divers’ Point. My mom loved it, my other critics--not so much.

What made you choose this genre?
 
I’ve always loved reading mysteries, hard-boiled P.I., Cozies, and suspense/thrillers. And I’m big fan of any films or television series where guessing “whodunit” is a challenge.

Do you have a scheduled writing time, place and/or routine? 
I try to write in my office five-days-a-week from 10-2 depending on what is due. When it’s closer to a deadline or final edit, I live in one of my Montauk T-Shirts and lounge pants and drink tons of coffee in my Inspector Gamache/Three Pines (Author Louise Penny’s protagonist in her mystery series) coffee mug, I ordered from Canada. I have a mascot on my desk - a vintage Steiff dog missing an ear that reminds of Tripod from my Hamptons Home and Garden series.

What do you do to get over writer's block?
I haven’t had time to have writer’s block, but if I get stuck with a particular scene that’s not working, I find it’s better to just cut it and move on.

What was it like to get your first publishing contract? 
Magical! Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! The most wonderful part of getting my contract was having my agent call to say that I had offers while I happened to be in Montauk, the setting for my series. It was, and is, a dream come true.

How has the publishing/writing world changed since you first started writing? 
My first published mystery, Better Homes and Corpses, came out in Aug. 2015, so I don’t think there has been too much change, perhaps a higher degree of uncertainty about getting new contracts with large publishers.

You write about strong female characters. Are they modeled after anyone?
 
My main character is a thirty-three year old with a hearing loss, who wears hearing aids, and reads lips. I’ve modeled her super-powers after my own daughter, who also has a hearing loss and is pretty super.

When you are not writing what do you like to do? 
I am an antique/vintage-dealer and fixer-upper, photographer, fledgling knitter/crocheter, and gardener--and of course an avid reader of all genres, including poetry.

Do you have any advice for beginning authors? 
Don’t give up! Write a killer query letter and synopsis, and instead of being disheartened by an agent or publisher who has turned down your manuscript, take their advice, tweak it and move on to another. It is also a great idea to get into a writing group, but don’t let others influence you too strongly, keep your unique voice--and read, read, read.

Do you have a favorite author or book you would like to recommend to your readers? 
As mentioned above, Louise Penny. I love her Three Pines mysteries with Inspector Gamache.

Please tell us five random things about yourself. 
I grew up in Michigan.
In college, all I ate was Stove Top Stuffing with melted cheddar cheese and sour cream (I wish I could still eat that!). 
I was an extra in the television series Royal Pains and had a few lines on the soap, One Life To Live. I was a dress buyer for Lord & Taylor in Manhattan. 
I have a husband, two children, a dog and a cat.


What did I learn about this author:
She is a fan of mysteries both in books and shows and that why she chose to write them. Her daughter has a hearing loss and that is who her main character is modeled after. In college she ate Stove Top Stuffing with melted cheese and sour cream - sounds like an interesting combo. What did you learn about her?

Stay tuned for the next author. 

September 27, 2016

Julie Seedorf - Cozy Mystery Author Spotlight and Interview


I am going to be hosting a number of cozy mystery authors on my blog for the next two months. If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying a cozy mystery I encourage you to do so. The cozy mystery industry as a whole is in danger of being lost as the publishers are ending a number of series. Please note that not all series I will be sharing are in danger. There are many that will be continuting on as normal. I just wanted to do my part to make everyone aware of this genre as a whole. 

Today I will be showcasing Julie Seedorf

About this author:
Julie Seedorf is a Minnesotan. She calls dinner—supper and lunch—dinner. She has had many careers over her lifetime but her favorite career was that of mother to her children. In later life she became a computer technician, opening her own business. In 2012 Julie signed a contract with Cozy Cat Press for her Fuchsia Minnesota Series. Books included in that series are Granny Hooks a Crook, Granny Skewers A Scoundrel, Granny Snows A Sneak and Granny Forks A Fugitive. Closing her computer business in January 2014 Julie transitioned to becoming a full time writer adding free-lance work for various newspapers, along with continuing her column Something About Nothing, which is now in book form in a book of the same name released in early 2015. Her children's series, Granny's In Trouble give her grandkids a hint of the young Grandma underneath the wrinkles. Her books are light and fluffy and highlight the fact in the midst of life we have to find the humor in bad situations to keep us going. "We all take ourselves too seriously and we need to have a little fun." Julie secretly yearns to be like the Granny characters in her books. In February 2016 the first book in the Brilliant Minnesota Series was released titled the Penderghast Puzzle Protectors. She also is part of a group mystery by Cozy Cat Press Authors titled Chasing the Codex. Julie's serious side is revealed in a story included in the Anthology, We Go On - Anthology for Veterans where the proceeds go to Veteran's Charities. 


Where to follow this author:
Visit her website at http://www.julieseedorf.com
Her blog http://sprinklednotes is a little scattered like Granny but lends itself to wisdom and occasional flip flops about life. 
You will also find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/julie.seedorf.author and on 
Enjoy the moments; they may carry you through a lifetime. *from the author


Interview:
1. Who or what inspired you to start writing?English class in 11th Grade and Mr. Colletti. It was my first creative writing class. I was always a reader but wasn’t inspired to write anything except poetry until then. After high school one of my friends encouraged me to write and I dabbled, but didn’t have the confidence until many years later when she came back into my life and wanted to know why I wasn’t writing.

2. What do you do to help you get over writer's block?

I don’t often have writers block when I am writing a book, but when I am writing my column it happens frequently. I turn to some other creative endeavor until the juices start flowing again.

3. Do you have scheduled writing time or a certain amount of words you write each day?
I don’t. Some days I write a 1000 to 2000 words, but I find when I am getting close to the end of my book I will write 8 to 10,000 words a day, because I am in a flow with the story and don’t want to stop.

4. How did you choose this genre to write?
It chose me. I wrote Granny Hooks A Crook and didn’t realize it was a cozy. I didn’t know what a cozy was at that point. My other series, my children’s books in The Granny’s In Trouble series, were developed because of my grandchildren. I am now branching out also into a more serious writing genre.

5. Where do you get your ideas for your books?

I call it God because this has all come by accident. And the ideas just spin in my head out of nowhere.

6. When you are not writing what do you like to do?
I like to read, spend time with my family and grandkids, paint, craft, watch movies and spend time with friends learning something new and eating out.

7. What one piece of advice would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Listen to your inner voice. Your talent may be like no one else’s. Write what is inside of you. When I first signed with Cozy Cat Press and I read and saw how others write and their stories, I felt I needed to change the way I write such as outlining. It doesn’t work for me. That isn’t who I am, and so I would tell writers to never give up on their dream and accept who they are, because then they will find their true calling. I struggle with that a lot.

8. Who is your favorite author or book that you would like to recommend to your readers?
Wow, my favorite author or book changes all the time. I love Kris Radish and Annie Freeman’s Traveling Funeral. It is an unusual book. I love Allen Eskens books and William Kent Kruger. I also am a fan of many Cozy Authors and of course Catherine Coulter. I also am a fan of many new authors. People tend to congregate to the well-known and often highly publicized New York Times best authors, but they are missing out if they don’t read authors from small publishing companies or indie authors. These small companies and independent authors do not have the money to promote like the big publishing houses, and so they get missed. And some of them are better authors then the well-known ones.

9. If you could meet any famous person dead or alive who would it be and why?
Well I am always teasing in my books that I love Robert Redford, so of course I would have to say him, and because he is handsome. On a serious note: Robert Redford, because I swoon when I see him on screen.

10. If you could visit anywhere in the world where would you like to visit?
When I was growing up we traveled so much. I actually don’t have a place I would like to visit, perhaps somewhere to have my entire family together.

11. Five interesting facts about yourself
1. I get frustrated with small attitudes and judgements.
2. I fight anxiety and depression as do many other people.
3. I like kid’s toys. They make me laugh.
4. It took 60 years to accept me.
5. I am not a neatnik especially when I am in my creative zone.


What did I learn about this author:
She is a fan of Robert Redford and would like to meet him. As a child she traveled a lot with her family. Like many people she suffers from anxiety and depression. What did you learn about her?

Stay tuned for the next author. 


Denise Weeks - Cozy Mystery Author Spotlight and Interview


I am going to be hosting a number of cozy mystery authors on my blog for the next two months. If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying a cozy mystery I encourage you to do so. The cozy mystery industry as a whole is in danger of being lost as the publishers are ending a number of series. Please note that not all series I will be sharing are in danger. There are many that will be continuting on as normal. I just wanted to do my part to make everyone aware of this genre as a whole. 

Today I will be showcasing Denise Weeks


About the author:
As Denise Weeks, I write the edgy Jacquidon Carroll mystery series headed by the award-winning NICE WORK and the Ariadne French paranormal mysteries that begin with MURDER BY THE MARFA LIGHTS, as well as standalone techie ghost stories like LOVE IS THE BRIDGE. As Shalanna Collins, I write YA fantasy and contemporary fantasy, including APRIL, MAYBE JUNE, the 2010 Golden Rose grand prize winner, now out from Muse Harbor Press. I have worked as a software engineer, pianist/by-ear piano teacher, and secondary school math tutor. Like most homegrown Texas humorists, I'm not funny . . . at least not intentionally. Married to an outstandingly tolerant software engineer, I live in a northern suburb of Dallas, Texas, with him and our yappy Pomeranian.

My favorite foods are curried yak, chocolate, and French fries. I know (but am not telling) a plethora of alchemical and occult secrets. I have been identified as a Person of Interest by all the right people. (Okay, kidding--I don't really eat yak.) I am at work on yet another novel.


Where to follow this author:


Interview:
When did your love of writing begin?
At age six, when I had chicken pox and missed the second week of first grade. My dad had brought home several books for me to keep me occupied. He explained these tomes had not fallen from the sky like the Bible and the CRC Math Tables, but were written by mortal men and women. At that moment I determined I would figure out how to tell my stories, the ones my stuffed animals and dolls and I acted out during the lonely-only-child days before the Internet and cable teevee. It didn't hurt that writers at the time were considered public intellectuals and got lots of respect . . . unlike now. LOL!

Books are important. My father believed that, my teachers (throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and most of the 1980s) believed that. They are worthy of your time and most of them have something to teach you. Whether a story is "slow-moving" or "gets right to the shooting," it's usually something that will feed your soul. That's why I am spending my life writing them.

How did you choose this genre to write about?
I write YA fantasy/contemporary fantasy and adventure as Shalanna Collins, and mystery/suspense/mainstream as Denise Weeks. Fantasy came to me early because I had read C. S. Lewis young, and then Tolkien, and then all the greats. One day I "saw" Dulcinea Brown standing in her father's apothecary messing around with her flute and discovering a new kind of magic, and that set me off on telling her story. The Genius Girls contemporary fantasy occurred to me when I heard two girls talking about a special book they'd inherited. I write mystery/suspense because I like series books and I feel that a mystery appeals to and will engage more different kinds of readers. The techie ghost story and the chick lit, well, they chose me. Most of my books choose me.

Do you have a scheduled writing time, place and/or routine?
I wish I did. I'm a night owl, so mostly I do my best work at night, but it's tough. There's always something the family needs or that I've gotten myself committed to do, and that takes me away from writing. Promotion takes up so much of a writer's time nowadays, too. Normally I write on my computer, but sometimes I scribble in a spiral notebook that I carry or even make notes in whatever Kindle file I happen to have open. I'm sure that people who are more organized feel I could never get anything accomplished, but somehow I do.

What do you do to get over writer's block?
I don't believe that it exists. I think it's just procrastination much of the time. Sometimes it's a paralyzing fear of success or a lack of confidence in your ability to do the work. For whatever reason, I have always been supremely confident in the quality of my work, even while I was still in the juvenilia phase (LOL), and if I am unable to get rolling on a story, I turn to another project. If worse comes to worst, I blog or go on Facebook, where I'll find something that I want to comment on, and that will usually inspire me and start the flow of words on some project or another. If you can't progress on your current project, start another. Inspiration is everywhere.

What was it like to get your first publishing contract?

When I won the Oak Tree Press First Mystery Novel contest and signed to publish NICE WORK, I was exhiliarated. However, I wasn't as overwhelmed as I'd always thought I would be. I had been at this stuff for almost twenty years (on and off, usually with a full-time job and school and a family to steal my time away), and I'd had three agents and several contracts that fell through. (Two because the publishers dumped the line the book had been written for, one because I was asked to make extensive changes that ruined the book and they agreed that their changes had ruined it, a few for various and sundry reasons.) So this wasn't the first time I had been at the top of the rollercoaster waiting for the wild ride and then was taken abruptly off by the rescue squad of cancellation. But ask me about the first time I saw a reader pick up DULCINEA at a book fair, buy it, and sit down at a nearby table with a latte and the book and START READING IT. That was a REAL thrill and a trip of its own. THAT is why I devote my life to writing. THAT is why I feel it's my calling.

How has the publishing/writing world changed since you first started writing?

A complete 180-degree change. I started writing when I could first hold a crayon, and I used to regularly send my juvenilia to the New Yorker and Redbook (both prestigious short story/poetry markets in the sixties--the New Yorker still is the pinnacle.) I would get back these lovely quarter-page rejections from people who must have known I was an eight-year-old and later twelve-year-old. They would scribble something encouraging and they'd tell you to submit again, and they'd remember you when you did. At that time, any sort of non-NYC publishing house was considered a "Vanity Press" and the WORST sort of sin. Anyone who went with a Dreaded Vanity Press or, worse, self-published, was immediately the target of spittle and forever scorned. It was said that you might never be able to place any work with NYC after you had self-published. Everyone was at the mercy of the gatekeepers, agents and editors, who lived behind a tall brick wall and we threw our submissions to them without knowing whether they'd hit the mark. You would wait at least six months and usually a year before you got back a form rejection. And because they asked that you only submit to one publisher at a time, it took forever for any book to make the rounds. It was out of date by the time the third or fourth editor agreed to look at it. Editors and agents thought they would rule the roost forever.

Now it's completely wide open. It started with bloggers, who said they would have bully pulpits and the hell with editors. Then Amazon began their ebook publishing program and a hardcopy program, and gradually that became anointed. These days you can write your book and never have someone decree that it must be changed ("We have a book coming out now set in Ft. Worth, so you have to move yours from Texas to Montana, and the main character's name must be changed from Charlotte to Mallory, and she can't be a veterinarian--make her a spy," and so forth). You can have it developmentally edited and copy edited and decide for yourself which changes are for the better. You can then format and publish it yourself through any number of outlets, including Amazon, and it'll be available for anyone around the world to read about and buy. It's actually a miracle! If my dad were alive to see this, he'd be completely gobsmacked. On the other hand, now the market is flooded, readers have no guide telling them which books are quality and which are Mary Sue mess-ups, and publicity is a bear. A black bear. One with cubs she thinks YOU have disturbed!

You write about strong female characters. Are they modeled after anyone?
Every woman in my family is headstrong, opinionated, and a Queen Bee. Much of the time a character may be inspired by someone I know and love. Mim in MIRANDA'S RIGHTS (due out as a Christmas release this year) is modeled on my mother and grandmother. April's parents in APRIL, MAYBE JUNE are modeled on several sets of parents I knew while I was still a schoolchild. Dulcinea's dad is somewhat like the dad of my best friend in high school and somewhat like my dad, too. Most of my characters are composites, though, and there's only a general way in which they "take after" a real person or set of people.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I play piano like Elise in THE DARKNESS AT THE CENTER (coming this fall), although I'm not a concert artist like she is, just an advanced player and lover of the instrument. I'm still an inveterate reader, and I have beta readers who read my work . . . so, in return, I read theirs and do the same sort of suggesting and critiquing that they do for me. I garden in the summer and cook in the winter. My husband and I love to travel, and we take our Pomeranian, who is a perfect dog and a wonderful traveler. (He sleeps in the car once he figures out we're on a road trip, and never complains when Hubby won't stop for a tinkle break for hours and hours.) Sometimes we go geocaching. I used to belly dance, but now that I have creaky knees, I go out to clubs where my friends are dancing--on occasion.

Do you have any advice for beginning authors?
If you can find some other creative outlet, do! (LOL) Dorothy Parker once said, “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” It's not an easy life. You'll spend lots of time frustrated because you can't get the word out about your book, because your friends who always promised to review any book you published suddenly can't even type one sentence about it, because books that really stink make the big time while yours are forlorn and ignored.

But if you want to write, write the books YOU want to read, the ones you can't find enough of. Then you'll be writing for a particular audience and the book will be a book of your heart instead of another in the pile of copycats. It will find its audience. If you can be satisfied with that, do the best work you can, be sure it doesn't have copyediting errors or howlers, and send it out into the world.

Do you have a favorite author or book you would like to recommend to your readers?
I love the classics and believe everyone should read the old guard in the genre they want to write. Poe for horror writers, Tolkien and Lewis for fantasy, and so forth. Writers should also read the new and popular books in their genre--Twilight and Harry Potter, for example. You don't want to write "like" these people, as the most important thing you have going for you is your individual voice. Everyone should read Shakespeare, IMHO, even if it is only one of the plays and a few of the sonnets. Read as widely as you can. Don't follow trends. I always recommend my books LOVE IS THE BRIDGE by Denise Weeks (a techie ghost story romantic suspense) and APRIL, MAYBE JUNE by Shalanna Collins (the aforementioned Genius Girls fantasy adventure.) If I don't recommend them, who will? LOL!

Please tell us five random things about yourself

1. I was in the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee two years in a row as an elementary school student, and really should have gone on to win National, but got tripped up on some very mundane words.

2. I was one of eight finalists in the 2008 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper contest, a gift-wrapping talent contest, and got to go to Rockefeller Center for the final round. We wrapped a three-tiered appetizer dish and a baby grand piano (!)

3. I was a National Merit Scholar before it was stylish to be one. That's the only reason I went to a good college.

4. I'm an (amateur) actress and have played such diverse characters as Aunt Abby Brewster in "Arsenic and Old Lace," Grandma Tzeitel in "Fiddler on the Roof," Elwood's sister Veta in "Harvey," and Mrs. Soames in "Our Town." Note that none of these are glamour-girl ingenue roles. . . .

5. I love dark rides like the old "Spelunkers' Cave" at Six Flags (I mourn it constantly) and "It's a Small World" at Disneyland. I'm not into thrill rides, just the theme rides that are disappearing so quickly from every park.


What did I learn about this author:
Her love of books began at a young age. She does not believe in writer's block. In her spare time she likes to play the piano. Not only did she do well in spelling bees but she was in a gift-wrapping contest and made it to the final round. What did you learn about her or find interesting. 

Stay tuned for the next author. 

September 26, 2016

Dandelion Dead by Chrystle Fiedler - Character Guest Post and Giveaway


Published: September 27, 2016
Number of pages: 384
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Natural Remedies

Synopsis:
In a cozy mystery filled with natural cures and edible plants that you will love, an organic winery becomes the backdrop for murder! Fortunately, solving crimes comes naturally to charmingly unconventional amateur sleuth and holistic doctor, Willow McQuade, as she looks for clues that will reveal a killer’s true vintage.

Business is blooming at Nature’s Way Market & Café, and shop owner, holistic doctor, and amateur sleuth, Willow McQuade has never been happier. Her new medicinal herb garden is a hit, so is her new book, she’s in love with ex-cop and animal rescuer Jackson Spade, and enjoying teaching seminars about edible plants and natural remedies.

But everything changes when Willow’s old boyfriend and TV producer, Simon Lewis, winemaker David Farmer, and his wife Ivy, ask her to cater a party at Pure, their new organic vineyard, to kick off North Fork’s Uncorked! week and the competition for Wine Lovers magazine’s $200,000 prize. Pure’s entry, Falling Leaves, is the favorite to win, and the wine flows freely until after Simon’s toast when smiles give way to looks of horror. Ivy’s twin sister, Amy has been murdered! Turns out, the poison that killed her was actually meant for David. But who wants him dead? A rival vintner? Or someone closer to home? This time the truth may be a bitter vintage to swallow.

About the author:
CHRYSTLE FIEDLER is a freelance journalist specializing in natural remedies, alternative medicine and holistic health and healing, and is the author of the Natural Remedies Mysteries series. Her many consumer magazine articles have appeared in USA Today’s Green Living,Natural Health, Remedy, Mother Earth Living, Spirituality & Health, and Prevention. She is also the author/co-author of seven non-fiction health titles including the Country Almanac of Home Remedies with herbalist Brigitte Mars, and The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beautywith Vegan Beauty Review founder, Sunny Subramanian. Chrystle lives on the East End of Long Island, NY in a cozy cottage by the sea. Visit www.chrystlefiedlerwrites.com.

Author Links
Website link: www.chrystlefiedlerwrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dandeliondeadbook/?fref=ts
Twitter: @ChrystleFiedler
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3360187.Chrystle_Fiedler
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/chrystle123/dandelion-dead-a-natural-remedies-mystery/

Purchase Links:
AmazonB&NIndieBound

Guest Post:
The Humble Dandelion
The Power of Edible Plants
By Willow McQuade

I absolutely love edible plants, many of which are also my favorite natural remedies. But I don’t mean fruits and vegetables. I mean weeds that are usually perceived as a nuisance and something to be “rid of,” but are, in fact, packed with nutrients and have amazing healing powers. Take the much-maligned dandelion, for example. Believe it or not, it’s actually chock-full of good-for-you vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, vitamins C and E, iron, potassium, and calcium, and can be used to make everything from smoothies to salads.

You’ll often find me in the kitchen at Nature’s Way Market & Café, my health food store on the East End of Long Island, experimenting with recipes that include this unsung hero of culinary excellence. My favorite thing to do is to sauté well-scrubbed dandelion roots in a little toasted sesame oil and tamari.

Here a few more recipes to try. Just keep in mind that when you are trying a new food for the first time, it’s good to start slow, and have only a small amount, just to see how it affects you.

Yours Naturally,
Willow

Edible Plant Recipes
Green Smoothie
1 cup of apple juice
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 cup of wild greens such as malva, violet, lamb’s-quarters

Blend for 2 to 3 minutes, strain, and pour into large glass. Enjoy this nutrient-packed drink!

Dandelion-Green Quiche
Crust
1/3 cup of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of organic milk
3/4 cup of brown-rice flour
3/4 cup of cornmeal
1 tablespoon sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions: Mix 1/3 cup of coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons of organic milk together. Combine the dry ingredients, then add to the liquid mixture and blend. Pour into a 10-inch pie pan. Bake 15 minutes in a preheated 425 F. oven.

Filling
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of canola or sunflower oil
1 cup of grated organic cheddar cheese
2½ cups washed and chopped dandelion greens
2 organic eggs
2 ounces of organic cottage cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Chop a medium onion, then lightly sauté it in oil. When translucent, place into the crust (see above). Combine the grated cheese and the dandelion greens and place in crust. In a blender combine 2 eggs, 2 ounces of cottage cheese, and salt and pepper, for 60 seconds. Pour over the greens, cheddar cheese, and onions in the pie shell. Bake at 350 F. for 35 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Here are a few books I recommend to learn more about edible plants:


Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health. Jo Robinson. Reprint edition. Little, Brown: May 2014.

Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging, with Easy Identification of 60 Edible Plants and 67 Recipes. Sergei Boutenko. North Atlantic Books: 2013.

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn't Know You Could Eat. Ellen Zachos. Storey Books: 2013.

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. Katrina Blair. Chelsea Green Publishing: 2014.

Giveaway


Tour Participants

September 26 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 26 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
September 27 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
September 28 – Booth Talks Books – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
September 29 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
September 30 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW
October 1 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
October 2 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – SPOTLIGHT
October 3 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST
October 4 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
October 4 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW
October 5 – The Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW, EXCERPT
October 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
October 7 – Booklady’s Booknotes – REVIEW, GUEST POST
October 8 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 9 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
October 9 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

September 25, 2016

Newton & Polly by Jody Hedlund - Review

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: September 20, 2016
Number of pages: 392
Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found 

Now remembered as the author of the world s most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father until the night he hears Polly Catlett's enchanting voice, caroling. He's immediately smitten and determined to win her affection. 

An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John s reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves? 

Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe."

What did I think of this book:
I really enjoyed this book. Amazing Grace has always been a favorite song of mine and to hear the back story told with Polly's story was amazing. I have seen the movie about John's story which was good but this book was even better. It just made the story seem even more real. I really liked hearing Polly's story and how much of an influence she had in John's life. Now I will tell you I was a little frustrated as I really wanted the two of them to make things work out a lot sooner than what they did. Billy would make me so mad when reading about his part that I just wished he would go away. John went through so much in his life and the way Jody describes the events and things that happen to him will make you chringe as she the descriptions were vivid to me. There were a few parts of the book that even gave me a lump in my throat which does not happen often for me. You must read the author's note at the end of the book as well as it just wraps things up for you. I was also happy to learn that there was very little of this book that was made up - so much of it really happened. I can only imagine the amount of research that went into the writing of this story. Definately at the top of list for the best books I have read in 2016. 

About the author:
Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award for fiction and Christy Award for historical romance, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Victoria Abbott and Mary Jane Maffini - Cozy Mystery Author Spotlight and Interview


I am going to be hosting a number of cozy mystery authors on my blog for the next two months. If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying a cozy mystery I encourage you to do so. The cozy mystery industry as a whole is in danger of being lost as the publishers are ending a number of series. Please note that not all series I will be sharing are in danger. There are many that will be continuting on as normal. I just wanted to do my part to make everyone aware of this genre as a whole. 

Today I will be showcasing Victoria Abbott
Book Collector Series

About the author:

That shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott is a happy collaboration between the artist, photographer and short story author, Victoria Maffini, and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, lapsed librarian and award-winning author of three mystery series and two dozen short stories.

Their contemporary and humorous book collector mysteries draw from the beloved authors of the golden age of detection. There is no extra charge for the crooked Irish uncles or the pug. The good news is that while they’ve written five books together, they haven’t killed each other. Yet. 

In other good news, their fourth book collector mystery, The Marsh Madness, won the 2016 Bony Blithe award for ‘mysteries that make us smile’. They’re smiling because their fifth book collector mystery will be released on October 4th.

You can find more at: www.victoria-abbott.com or www.maryjanemaffini.com

You can sign up for their e-newsletter (contests, book news, dog fashions, nonsense and recipes) through either website.

Charlotte Adams Series

Where to follow this author:

Fiona Silk Series

Interview:
When did your love of writing begin?
We have to answer this separately! MJ has been writing for a long time, since she was a child. She swears she had a cozy series in grade school. Her first real book came out in 1999 and it took a long time to learn how to write a mystery before that. Victoria has been writing short stories since the late nineties. It is hard to separate our love of writing, in general, from writing mystery. We think of ourselves as ‘word people’.

How did you chose to write in this genre?
Well, truth be told, MJ once wrote fifty pages of a very bad romance novel (so bad she couldn’t read it herself!) and then decided to write something she loved reading and knew something about. Victoria also loves mystery and at one time they were part of Prime Crime Mystery Bookstore, a specialized bookshop that was a lot of fun, sort of like Santa’s toy shop for mystery lovers.

Do you have a scheduled writing time, place and/or routine?
We now get together every Monday morning to have a little business meeting and plot what will happen next in our book. Don’t tell anyone, but we have a great new idea!

In between we write when we find time and MJ works on her own projects from 7 – 9 pm in the evenings. Victoria is painting then.

What do you do to get over writer's block?
There’s nothing like the hot breath of a deadline on your neck to get you over writer’s block, but there are lots of other tricks: Stay in the chair. Don’t wait until you feel like writing, because you won’t. Do some little housekeeping job connected to whatever you are procrastinating about. Remember that ‘writers write’ and you can always fix what you’ve written.

What was it like to get your first publishing contract?
It was thrilling. MJ sold her first book the day she sold her house with two weeks to move, so also a bit panicky. When we first got our contract, as Victoria Abbott, for the book collector mysteries, we were over the moon.

How has the publishing/writing world changed since you first started writing?
There is a lot more emphasis on promotion and authors are expected to do most of it. There wasn’t really a hint of that when MJ started. The use of social media to promote books and also to stay engaged with readers is also new. It is wonderful to interact with readers, but sometimes it is also 24/7! The other thing is the advent of e-books and readers and online ordering: books are much more easily available than they used to be, whether you are near a bookstore or not.

Whatever, the business is evolving and we have to move with the times.

You write about strong female characters. Are they modeled after anyone?
We think that women sleuths in cozies are so successful because they are like the women we are related to, they are like our friends and like our co-workers: we all know so many great, strong women that we could count on in a crisis. We use the characteristics that we love about the women in our lives rather than the personality of anyone in particular. Seriously, readers: aren’t the women in your life terrific? Couldn’t we count on them and you in a tight spot? Of course, modern women make great models.

When you are not writing what do you like to do?

Victoria is an artist and photographer who also loves to garden and cuddle her pug, Peaches. MJ enjoys knitting, exercise, reading, cooking, and spending time with her princess dachshunds, Daisy and Lily. She likes lunches out too as her tight waistband will tell you.

Do you have any advice for beginning authors?
Learn the craft! Take your time and find out what makes the kind of book you want to write. At the same time, when you are telling your story, pump it out. If you take too long or fuss too much, it will lack pace. Finally, do not give up. You have to play the long game if you want to be in print.

Do you have a favorite author or book you would like to recommend to your readers?

We actually have an era to recommend: the Golden Age of Detection. Although our book collector mysteries are contemporary, we have made connections with the great authors and characters of this age, one per book. We connected with Agatha Christie’s legacy in The Christie Curse, Dorothy L. Sayers’s body of work (and particularly her sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey) in The Sayers Swindle, and Rex Stout’s great detective Nero Wolfe and sidekick, Archie Goodwin ) in The Wolfe Widow. We turned our attention to Ngaio Marsh in The Marsh Madness and we were glad we did. Now, with The Hammett Hex coming out, we are enjoying the legacy of Dashiell Hammett, his detectives and the mysteriousness he explored in San Francisco. We told our characters not to trust anyone as a result.

We often have readers tell us that they discovered one of these authors through the book collector mysteries. That makes our day.

Please tell us five random things about yourself
We are addicted to British crime shows.
We live in Ontario, about forty-five minutes from the US border in Upstate New York.
We both love walking in the woods.
We think that laughter is the best medicine.
We think that chocolate is essential to health and happiness.

Camilla McPhee Series

What did I learn about this author:
I learned that they were a part of Prime Crime Mystery Bookstore. I would love to visit that it sounds right up my alley. Victoria and MJ meet each Monday to discuss what is going to happen next in their books. The strong characters are based on peope they know. Victoria likes to paint and MJ likes to knit. Both are addicted to British crime show and live in Ontario. What did you learn?

Stay tuned for the next author.