We Have to Do What? @kdkoppang

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to talk about how the shut down is affecting her and why she doesn’t mind it so much.

Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue was released in July 2017 and was a finalist for best canine book of the year in the Dog Writers of America annual writing contest. Kathleen’s newest book in the series, Dressed to Kill, was released in the UK on August 1, 2019 and in the US on November 1, 2019.

http://www.kathleendelaney.net/

I am sitting at my desk, staring at the computer, listening to the clock tick, wondering how I’m going to write this blog. I planned to write about the coronavirus but it’s hard to find something new to say about it. You see someone talking about it on every TV station, hear about it on radio programs and there is information all over social media. How much of that is true, I don’t know, but it’s as hard to get away from as the actual virus itself. So, I guess I’ll just write about my, and my families, reaction to all this.

We’re in lock down. My whole town, and now my whole state. We weren’t at first, but they told all of us seniors, especially all of us senior seniors, to stay at home. To show they meant it, they closed the senior center. Then the gym where I went 2-3x a week for the aquatic class closed. Next the local restaurants dining rooms closed, and lots of small business shut down. The library was still open, which I wasn’t too sure about, but it’s closed now. So is my local nursery. I never thought that someplace outside would close, but it shut. And now, we are under strict orders for everybody to stay at home. Not a nice quiet suggestion but orders from above. Stay at home and wash your hands even if you haven’t come in contact or touched anyone but the dog since the last time you washed them. It looks as if Easter breakfast, which was supposed to be at my house, is going to be postponed, to maybe Mother’s Day. Maybe.

And, you know what? I’m fine with it all.

I don’t mean I like it. No one likes it. I feel a little as if I’m under house arrest, and in a way, I guess that’s what’s happening. But I have no desire to catch this thing. It’s serious. I am 83 and have a file of previous conditions that rivals War and Peace in volume. If I get this virus I doubt if I’d make it out the other side and I don’t like the idea one bit. Nor do I like the idea that I might somehow infect someone else, so I’m staying home. My daughter is bringing in my groceries and I’m getting along fine. I’ve downloaded some new books on my Kindle, why I don’t know. My TBR pile is high and for the first time in ages I’m ploughing through it. By the way, I’m reading a good one now. Lethal Waves by Pauline Rowson, published by Severn House and I’m looking forward to discovering more authors new to me before this is all over. I’ll do a little cooking and put some of it in the freezer, if I can find any room left in there. It’s spring and the closet could stand cleaning out. Repotting the outside pots will have to wait a while but I’m going to see if my daughter, who wears a mask when she does the shopping, can find me some herbs and maybe a tomato plant.

So, dear friends and readers, sit tight, take a deep breath and go wash your hands. This will eventually be over. In the meantime, stay safe, stay home, and keep reading.

Just a quick note. All 9 Kathleen Delaney mystery novels are available on Kindle. Now might be a good time to check them out. Read the 1st chapters here.

www.kathleendelaney.net

Forgive Me! It’s a Writer Thing—and a Cover Reveal!—and a Giveaway! @TheMysteryLadie

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson
Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:

E-Mail: writerlaurencarr@gmail.net
Website: http://mysterylady.net/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991
Gnarly’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/LoversInCrimeMysteries?ref=ts&fref=ts
Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/AcornBookServices?ref=hl
Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themysteryladie/

Okay! I’m throwing up my hands. I can’t help myself.

In January, I was minding my own business―working on Came Upon a Midnight Murder, the upcoming Mac Faraday Mystery―when she came into my mind.

I tried to ignore her, really I did. Readers have been asking for the next Mac Faraday mystery. I had already delayed it once for The Nutcracker Conspiracy. I couldn’t delay it again. But she kept whispering in my ear—begging me to write her cozy little mystery. Leaving me no choice, she promised that it would not take long.

It’s a writer thing.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I had an imaginary friend when I was growing up. His name was Sam. My mother said Sam and I were buddies from the time I could talk until I started school and made real friends. Don’t get scared. None of my imaginary friends have coerced me into robbing banks or committing murder. Basically, they just tell me stories. Eventually, I started writing these stories down.

That is how writers are born.

Writers know that their characters aren’t real people. But they do come to life and, like real people, they can nag you until you feel compelled to give into them.

This occurrence was captured very well in a movie that was released a couple of years ago. The Man Who Invented Christmas told the story of how Charles Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol. In this movie, Dickens was thinking and reworking the plotline for A Christmas Carol. He declared that if you come up with the right name, the character will come to life.

In the scene, which is featured in the movie trailer, Dickens rambled through various names for his main character until he said, “Scrooge.” Suddenly, there is a gust of wind. Off-screen, you hear Christopher Plummer (the actor who played Scrooge) say, “Close the window. I’m not made of money.”

Dicken’s eyes light up and he turns around.

Ebenezer Scrooge stood before him.

For authors, that is precisely how a character comes to life.

No, there is not a real-life flesh and blood person standing before the writer. But they do come to life. They have their histories, their loves, their hates, their issues. Some characters are laid back and will patiently wait their turn for the author to get to them and their story. (Chris Matheson has been quite patient for me to get to the next Geezer Squad mystery.)

Others don’t know the meaning of patience. Such is the case of Nikki Bryant. I wasn’t even looking for a new character for a new book. I was already working on one in progress. Just suddenly, one afternoon while writing a scene in Came Upon a Midnight Murder, I turned around and there she was with her boxer dog Elmo!

While her tendency to bend or even break the rules has earned her journalism awards, Nikki’s foot-on-the-gas nature does get her into trouble. Even after two decades, folks in her small town of Pine Grove still remember that wherever Nikki Bryant goes, Trouble is close behind.

Nikki’s homecoming is not without trepidation. Her world travels were not so much to chase one story after another as it was to run from the one case that she feared facing the most—her father’s unsolved murder.

Now in her mid-thirties, Nikki refuses her mother’s request to return home to take over the family business, a local television station. She is quite content working for a major news station in Las Vegas and curling up at night with her Elmo, a social media influencer.

But then, a friend of hers on social media named NerdyGuy suggests a pact: Reconnect with their first loves. If she goes home to face the man she had left behind, NerdyGuy will reconnect with his first love and tell her how he still feels.

NerdyGuy has Nikki’s number. Never one to back down from a challenge, Nikki packs up Elmo and returns home to Pine Grove—with Trouble right behind her.

Killer Deadline
A Nikki Bryant Cozy Mystery
Release Date April 23, 2020

Synopsis:

Nikki Bryant Comes Home to a Killer Deadline!

Folks in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, claim that where Nikki Bryant goes, trouble is not far behind. Her refusal to back down from a challenge has made Nikki Bryant one of the best investigative journalists in her field.

When an online friend nudges her to join him in a pact to reconnect with their first loves, Nikki and her boxer dog Elmo leave the bright lights of Las Vegas for the charming town of Pine Grove. There, she must face the biggest challenges in her career and life—the first love she had left behind and her father’s unsolved murder.

But before she has time to unpack her car, Nikki stumbles upon the dead body of local news anchor, Ashleigh Addison, her childhood rival. Could Ashleigh’s death be connected to an explosive news story that she had teased about airing live? Did that explosive story have anything to do with the murder of Nikki’s father?

With the clues in her father’s cold case hot again, Nikki aims to chase down the story of her life until she catches his killer—no matter what it takes.

Pre-order — 99¢
https://amzn.to/3dOs7x9

 

Giveaway

To enter the drawing for a digital
ARC—your choice of epub, mobi
or pdf—just answer this question:

How are you entertaining yourself
during Social Distancing?

Three winning names will be drawn
on Monday evening, April 6th.

Panicking Over the Pandemic

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to share a few humorous looks at our COVID-19 pandemic because laughter helps us cope.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.

sunny69@comcast.net   //  http://www.sunnyfrazier.com

There are many topics I could write about, but it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the nation. Is anyone thinking of anything other than the Corona Virus? Everyday it’s on the news and the Internet. It’s hard to ignore the empty shelves in grocery stores. Society is trying to find a way to greet each other that doesn’t involve hands or hugs.

I remember an earlier pandemic. In 1957 I was 6 years-old. The Asian Flu spread throughout the world. My mother caught it and was close to death. My 8 year-old sister had to take care of both me and my mother. My father was out at sea on an aircraft carrier. They had to fly him back to the states to take care of us. In America, nearly 70,000 people died. In the pandemic of 1918 over a million people died.

I’m hanging back watching unnecessary hysteria go on around me. I’m in the high-risk category because as a transplant recipient I take 14 pills a day that suppress my immune system. I’m not stocking up on water, toilet paper or hand sanitizer. Unless there’s a run on cat food and biscotti, I’m fine.

What I’m not fine with is the worst qualities of people that comes out during an impending crisis. By stripping the shelves of toilet paper, shoppers don’t bother to think of others in the same boat. Several of my friends are carrying guns in case someone tries to take away their Purell. Rags can be used and washed. I’m looking at the old phone book and thinking ahead. Believe it or not, many people in the world don’t have the luxury of Quilted Northern. I’ve been to some of those 3rd world countries.

Water? We’ve been spoiled by bottled water, although plastic is now a problem. I use Brita. In a crisis, tap water is available. People act like the water supply is going to dry up or get tainted. This is not Hurricane Katrina or a Tennessee tornado. We’ll have electricity and homes to sequester in.

It takes common sense and precautions to deal with this crisis, not toilet paper. I love staying at home with plenty of books to read. I hate traveling and I now have an excuse to skip gatherings. The timing could be better, what with the Presidential election in full swing and the Olympics in jeopardy. It was St. Patrick’s Day recently but I skipped corned beef and cabbage at a restaurant.

Out of this quagmire, Americans have managed to maintain a sense of humor. I’m laughing along with everyone at the jokes. This is what we do best: make fun of the things that scare us the most. That’s called survival.

   

Murdered Women, Male Juries, and Men Who Beat the Rap in 19th Century America @JMmystery

Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mysteries published by Poisoned Pen Press. Like her amateur sleuth, Jeanne was born with a serious wanderlust. Originally from Georgia, she enjoys traveling the world and learning about other cultures and customs, which she incorporates into her novels. She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband who is a law professor. Where the Bones Are Buried, the fifth book in the series, is in bookstores now . You can learn more about Jeanne’s books at http://www.jeannematthews.com

Accounts of 19th Century murder trials make me really happy that women today can serve on juries.  Too often in the past, all male juries have acquitted men who were obviously guilty, denying justice to their female victims.  Here are some of the most famous – and infuriating – cases.

On January 2nd, 1800, a New York City constable informed Levi Weeks that the battered body of his pretty young sweetheart Elma Sands had just been hauled out of a well.

“The Manhattan well?” he asked.

Although Levi was a carpenter and not a clairvoyant, he got it in one.  The uncanny accuracy of his guess made him the prime suspect.  Luckily, he had connections with the old boys’ network of his day.  His wealthy brother hired the finest lawyers in the state, a veritable “dream team” to defend him – Henry Livingston, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr.  The trial was the country’s first “Trial of the Century” and the first for which there is a recorded transcript.  Crowds thronged the courthouse and newspapers feasted on scandal and speculation.

One witness testified that on the Sunday before the murder he spotted Levi measuring the depth of the Manhattan well.  Another witness had overheard him whispering with Elma on the night of the murder, making clandestine plans to meet her.  Defense counsel seized at once upon the chief weakness in the prosecution’s case.  It was Elma, herself.  They portrayed her as a loose woman who went about with many men of low character.  They claimed she was a laudanum addict and disparaged her mental capacity.  The jury acquitted in less than five minutes.

In December, 1832, a woman named Sarah Cornell was discovered hanging by the neck from the frame of a haystack in Tiverton, Rhode Island.  A note discovered in her bandbox read, “If I should be missing, enquire of the Rev. Mr. Avery of Bristol.  He will know where I am.”  The Rev. Ephriam K. Avery admitted he’d carried on an adulterous affair with Sarah, penning love letters, murmuring sweet nothings, and getting her pregnant.  There were no other suspects.

Avery’s trial lasted 27 days and his lawyers called 128 witnesses for the defense.  According to their testimony, Sarah was a promiscuous and unprincipled slut who seduced the guileless minister.  The jury found him “not guilty” and he set off on a speaking tour across the state to vindicate himself.

The murder of Helen Jewett in 1836 resulted in the second “Trial of the Century.”  Beautiful, intelligent, bookish, and financially independent, Helen was a high-end New York City prostitute who attended the theater, maintained a literary correspondence with her clients, and read novels.  She was especially fond of the works of Sir Walter Scott.  One cold spring night as she lay sleeping, someone bludgeoned her to death with an ax and set fire to her body.  The murder created a sensation and the aura of sex catapulted the story onto the front page of every newspaper.

Richard Robinson, a smug young man from a good family and one of Helen’s repeat customers, was the last person to see her alive.  When questioned by the police, he sneered.  “Do you think I would blast my brilliant prospects by so ridiculous an act?”  As a matter of fact, they did.  The evidence left little doubt of his guilt.

At the trial, the madam of the brothel where Helen resided identified Robinson as the murderer, but the judge instructed the jury to disregard her testimony.  A woman in her profession, he said, must be deemed “a polluted source.”  Robinson was acquitted.  One moral observer placed the blame squarely on Helen, and not just for her wanton sexual behavior.  “Avoid the perusal of novels,” he warned other women.  “It is impossible to read them without injury.”

The Rev. Herbert H. Hayden of Hartford, Connecticut was another murderer who got away with his crime.  A pious Methodist with a wife and children, he grew alarmed when Mary Stannard, the servant girl he’d been fooling around with, announced that she was “in the family way.” He enticed the girl to a lonely field and gave her a drink, which he said would bring about a miscarriage.  This “medicine” contained enough arsenic to kill a dozen men.  When she began screaming in agony, he knocked her unconscious and cut her throat.  Having purchased the arsenic openly and been found with the bloody knife in his possession, he couldn’t escape suspicion.  He was arrested and his trial in 1879 became a cause célèbre.  Over 100 witnesses were called to the stand, but in the end the jury hung and Hayden didn’t hang.

I can’t believe male jurors let these killers walk solely on the basis of gender solidarity.  Whatever their reason, I’m pretty sure if there’d been a few women in the jury box, the culprits wouldn’t have beat the rap.

Spotlight on The Nutcracker Conspiracy by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie

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“Steps up several levels into an exciting category all its own. It’s thriller, cold case, mystery suspense, and police procedural, all rolled into one exciting novel. Set amidst the political drama that comes with Washington DC and the Pentagon, a current multiple murder becomes a search years in the past. With a young, hot lieutenant assigned to NCIS, and his beautiful new wife, you have all the makings of a bestseller.  Nicely done, Ms. Carr!” – Review by Merry Citarella, Mystery Suspense Reviews

 

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The Latest Best-Selling Thorny Rose Mystery Available Now!

Get Your Copy Today!

Join us for this tour from Jan 20 to Feb 28, 2020!

 

Book Details:

Book TitleThe Nutcracker Conspiracy (A Thorny Rose Mystery #4) by Lauren Carr
Category:  Adult Fiction (18 +),  388 pages
Genre:  Mystery
Publisher:  Acorn Book Services
Release date:   January 30, 2020
Content Rating:  PG-13 (Lauren Carr’s books are murder mysteries, so there are murders involved. Occasionally, a murder will happen on stage. There is sexual content, but always behind closed doors. Some mild swearing (a hell or a damn few and far between). No F-bombs!

 

Book Description:

Three years ago, the nation gasped in horror when the President of the United States barely escaped an assassination attempt that left two
dead—the vice president’s wife and the attempted assassin.  Even after numerous investigations proved otherwise, conspiracy theorists argue
that the assassin was acting on orders from the CIA, FBI, and every federal agency within a hundred miles of the capital.

Aspiring Author Dean Conway is the last person Lieutenant Commander Murphy Thornton wants to spend his Saturday afternoon when they end up at the same wedding reception table. While their wives tend to bridesmaid duties, Murphy is trapped listening to Dean’s latest work-in-project—completing the manuscript of an investigative journalist who’d disappeared months earlier.

“She was number twelve,” Dean says.

“Twelve?” Murphy asks.

“Twelve witnesses connected to or investigating The Nutcracker shooting have died either in an accident or suicide.”

Two days later, Dean dies suddenly―but not before sending a text message to Murphy:

“13”

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Check Out These Other Thorny Rose Mysteries:

“The plot was original, fresh and fast paced in spite of the “traditional elements” employed which can normally be found in any other thriller of this genre. The USP of this story would be its unpredictability. When you think you have it all guessed up, the plot would change its course keeping you hooked. There were a lot of suspense twists and turns that kept the momentum up. Needless to say, the writing was simply perfect. One thing that writer needs to be lauded for is the humor she inculcated in the book. Minus those humorous parts, the book would have been one serious read.” – Reviewer: Book and Ink

 

Book Description:

Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

The case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.

In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to shift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?

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“Mysteries, murder, danger, and memories that threatens their lives keeps the action and suspense at a high level and even when the answers are found, it left me wanting more.” – Review by Sherry Fundin of Fundinmental

 

Book Description:

After ten months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in the darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family while visiting family at the winery near-by, and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

 Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Audible
Add to Goodreads
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Murder by Perfection is a wonderful read and a perfect to escape from the challenges of a busy day. Danger, intrigue, humor, and love all take their turn in this tale which will keep you reading into the wee hours.” Review by Marilyn R. Wilson, Olio by Marilyn

Book Description:

Beware: Perfection has a dark side!

Frustrated with their busy schedules, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday attempt to find togetherness by scheduling a weekly date night. The last thing Jessica Faraday expected for her date night was to take a couple’s gourmet cooking course at the Stepford Kitchen Studio, owned by Chef Natalie Stepford―the model of perfection in looks, home, and business.

When Natalie ends up dead and Murphy goes missing, the Thorny Rose detectives must peel back the layers of Natalie Stepford’s life to discover that the pursuit of perfection can be deadly.

Buy the Book:
Amazon
Add to Goodreads
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Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson
Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram

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An Interview with Lauren Carr

1.   Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author? Looking back at your childhood were there any early signs you would become an author?

I was making up stories since I could talk. My mother used to marvel at my imagination. Also, I was one of those kids who had an imaginary friend. His name was Sam. I remember him. I would tell him stories. I was telling stories to the dogs. When I would read books, a love I inherited from my mother, I would rewrite them. I’d turn The Bobbsey Twins mysteries into stories about a kidnapping.

I believe writers are born writers. It is something you are born with. You can always spot a writer. When you ask a “normal” person how their day is going, they will say, “Fine.” But when you ask a writer, they’ll set up the scene and characters, and give you a blow by blow about their day.

2.   Where do you find inspiration for your storylines? For the characters you create? What kind of research do you do to help with the details? 

I can get inspiration from anywhere. I confess, I watch a lot of true crime shows to get inspiration from actual murder cases. Forensics Files. Even fiction shows. I use them as a jumping off point.

Even though my books are character driven, the murder mystery always comes first. Since I write a number of different series, I then have to decide which series is a better fit for the mystery. For example, the mystery in The Nutcracker Conspiracy had to go to the Thorny Rose series because that series is placed in the Nation’s Capital. There was no way I could have placed a conspiracy involving an attempted assassination on the president in the resort town of Deep Creek Lake.

I’ll get a germ of an idea and bounce it off other writers. Then I will think on it while working on other things. Sometimes I’ll think about a storyline for weeks, or months, or even years. The plotline for my next work in progress, the next Mac Faraday, is one that I have turned over in my mind for more than a year.

I’ve been asked if I write down story ideas. The answer is no. Someone once asked Stephen King that. He said that if he wrote down his ideas, he would have a journal of bad ideas. I have found that to be true.

The good plotlines will stick with you. I’ve been inspired with what I thought was a great idea only to have it fade away and disappear. That’s why I don’t’ start writing a book until I have everything sorted out in my head.

3.   How does the writing process work for you? Do you schedule a time every day, work madly when inspiration hits or ?

I make time for writing. I love to write, and it is something that I look forward to every day. Since I took over iRead Book Tours, that is basically my day job. Writing is my escape. I dive into the world of my characters and shut everything else out.

I’ve worked with a number of writers and I tell them that if you want to be an author, you need to make time for your writing. There are always going to be chores and family and duties and jobs that can fill up your time until you find you have no time left to write. Granted, if you have a full-time job and a family, there will be things that you have to take care of. But there are also time thieves that will eat up time that you could otherwise spend writing. I cut out television. Time in the evening that others would be watching television shows, I spend working on my next book.

4.   As an author – what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels like a chore?

Working out the murder case. Figuring out the entire plotline of how the murder was committed and then how my detectives solve the case—that I enjoy the most. I also enjoy editing the book. I know that sounds weird, but when I read through it after having written it and seeing everything coming to life is a kick.

The chore is getting the words on the page after I have put everything together. I enjoy writing the first half of the book because at that point, everything is still coming together. But by the time I reach the last half, the book is written in my mind. It’s done for me. Then, I still have to type the words out on the page and that is a chore. Sometimes, I feel like my own typist.

5.   What’s next for you as an author? Do you have any new books in the planning or writing stage?  

The next Mac Faraday mystery! This is book fourteen—Came Upon a Midnight Murder. This will be released this summer. It will have a Christmas theme to it. So look for Christmas in July—or June. We’ll see.

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Tour Schedule:
Jan 20 – Library of Clean Reads – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / author interview / giveaway
Jan 20 – Working Mommy Journal – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Jan 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / author interview / giveaway
Jan 20 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Jan 20 – redpillows – book spotlight / guest post
Jan 21 – My Reading Journeys – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / author interview / giveaway
Jan 21 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – series spotlight / giveaway
Jan 22 – Jypsylynn – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy
Jan 22 – eBook Addicts – series spotlight / giveaway
Jan 23 – Olio by Marilyn – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Jan 23 – Leels Loves Books – book review of A Fine Year for Murder
Jan 24 – Bookmark and fork  – book spotlight of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / guest post / giveaway
Jan 27 – Christa Reads and Writes – book review of Murder by Perfection
Jan 28 – Bound 4 Escape – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Jan 29 – 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News – book spotlight of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / guest post / giveaway
Jan 30 – Library of Clean Reads – series spotlight / giveaway
Jan 30 Locks, Hooks and Books – book review of Kill and Run / giveaway
Jan 30 – 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Jan 31 – fundinmental – series spotlight / giveaway
Jan 31 – redpillows – series spotlight
Feb 3 – b for bookreview – book spotlight of The Nutcracker Conspiracy
Feb 3 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – book review of the Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Feb 4 – Christa Reads and Writes – book review of the Nutcracker Conspiracy
Feb 4 – Blooming with Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 5 – Leels Loves Books – book review of Murder by Perfection
Feb 5 – Celticlady’s Reviews – series spotlight / giveaway
Feb 6 – Dab of Darkness Book Reviews – book spotlight of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / author interview / giveaway
Feb 7 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / guest post / giveaway
Feb 7 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of Murder by Perfection
Feb 10 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy
Feb 11 – Laura`s Interests – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / guest post / giveaway
Feb 11 – eBook Addicts – book spotlight of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Feb 12 – FUONLYKNEW – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Feb 12 – Leels Loves Books – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy
Feb 13 – Casia’s Corner – book review of Kill and Run
Feb 13 – I’m All About Books – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 14 – Pause for Tales – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy
Feb 17 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
Feb 18 – Bookmark and fork  – series spotlight / giveaway
Feb 19 – JBronder Book Reviews – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / guest post / giveaway
Feb 19 – Literary Flits – book spotlight of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Feb 20 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy
Feb 21 – Divas With A Purpose – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / guest post
Feb 24 – Laura`s Interests – series spotlight / giveaway
Feb 24 – My Devotional Thoughts – series spotlight
Feb 25 – Peaceful Pastime – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Feb 25 – Svetlana’s reads and views – series spotlight
Feb 26 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – book spotlight of the Nutcracker Conspiracy / author interview
Feb 26 – Celticlady’s Reviews – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / guest post / giveaway
Feb 26 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / guest post / giveaway
Feb 26 –fundinmental – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Feb 27 – My Devotional Thoughts – book review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 27 – Read and Review – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 28 – Nighttime Reading Center – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
Feb 28 – Casia’s Corner – book review of The Nutcracker Conspiracy
Feb 28 – Adventurous Jessy – book review of the Nutcracker Conspiracy / giveaway
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Communities @kdkoppang

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to talk about what “community” means, by definition and by the broader concept of our immediate surroundings and the people around us.

Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue was released in July 2017 and was a finalist for best canine book of the year in the Dog Writers of America annual writing contest. Kathleen’s newest book in the series, Dressed to Kill, was released in the UK on August 1, 2019 and in the US on November 1, 2019.

http://www.kathleendelaney.net/

Communities. A word we hear a lot but what exactly does it mean? According to my dictionary, it can have several meanings. A group of religious people, a group of people who live in a certain area, or who share a certain interest, culture, or goal. A bit vague but his definition, while a bit broad, seemed to me to tie up the meaning nicely.

And I quote  “A unified body of individuals such as the people with common interests living in a particular area.”

As a partly retired 83 year old woman with one leg, it seemed to describe how I am living. My house is small as are all of the houses in my area, the yards also small but private.  The people who live here are a mix of those coming and those going. Coming because they are starting out, sometimes with a baby, but not too many with a large and active family. For one thing, there isn’t enough room. Going because most of us here aren’t ready yet to give up our independence, but don’t want the burden of a large house and yard. We are a community. We know each other, we know each other’s families and that includes the 4 footed variety. We do things together sometimes, like going out to lunch but we do it when we want to, and nothing is organized. If you want the three B’s, bingo, bridge, or backgammon, you’ll have to go to the senior center.  We do, however, look after each other. If you don’t venture out for a couple of days, someone will call or knock on your door, making sure you aren’t lying on your living room rug unable to get up.  If you need a lift to the doctor’s office, someone is always available to drive. If you’re sick, you just may end up with a bowl of nice home made chicken soup.

My community is just one of many kinds, of course. You will find groups who have formed tight bonds everywhere. Churches, boosters for the local high school football team, car pools to soccer or pre-school, small sections of large cities where the sights and smells of another country can be savored and another language listened to. But I think that the areas that best describe community are small towns.

Everyone knows everyone else; the townspeople turn out to help when someone needs it. Think of the barn raisings of times past. Today its food to a funeral, baby sitting when a parent needs help, a full house at the Friday night football games, and an overflow crowd at the town hall meetings. Community in a small-town means taking care of each other. It also means knowing everyone else’s business, and sometimes not being afraid to talk about it.

The real-life Millie and her first book

It’s that very sense of community that makes small towns interesting to write about.  Especially if you write “cozies”. The very name of these mysteries suggests something warm and friendly, the way a close-knit community is supposed to be, but, of course, that is not always the case. Especially in cozy mysteries. People can be driven to murder even in the friendliest of towns, and it usually takes an even smaller, tighter community of friends to find who among them is responsible for such a heinous crime. At least, that’s how it works in the Mary McGill canine mysteries. It may be Mary who solves the crime, but she wouldn’t be able to do it without her community, dropping clues, feeding her information often not realizing they are feeding her the information she needs to solve the puzzle, ready to help when she and her cocker spaniel, Millie, invariably get into trouble.

Community. It’s what makes our schools successful, our churches relevant, keeps our government accountable, and by working together, solves a murder or two.

Grand Master Scraps Burdensome Reading List @JMmystery @LawrenceBlock

Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mysteries published by Poisoned Pen Press. Like her amateur sleuth, Jeanne was born with a serious wanderlust. Originally from Georgia, she enjoys traveling the world and learning about other cultures and customs, which she incorporates into her novels. She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband who is a law professor. Where the Bones Are Buried, the fifth book in the series, is in bookstores now . You can learn more about Jeanne’s books at http://www.jeannematthews.com

I’ve been auditing the mystery fiction class taught by Lawrence Block at Newberry College, reviewing at random the books on his assigned reading list and blogging about them.  The course was designed to encourage people to read crime fiction for pleasure and the mysteries he selected include some of the classics of the genre.  I was knocking off a couple of books a month and relishing all the clever variations on the theme of murder I had missed.  It came as a shock when Block canceled the assignment and tossed the list.  It seems his students found the reading burdensome rather than pleasurable.  They felt overwhelmed, pressured to whip through the stories as fast as they could and dash off a paper that would satisfy the instructor.  Said Block, “they’ve been schooled out of reading for enjoyment.”

He was philosophical about the change in the reading habits of the young.  He notes that older people don’t read as much as we used to either, and with every age group there’s a preference for shorter stories, nothing that requires too much concentration or too much time.  The onslaught of technology has multiplied distractions and shortened attention spans.  Studies show that after college, the average American spends only a half-hour a day reading, mostly information necessary for the job or texts and emails from friends.

Even avid readers rarely become so lost in a book they will ignore an incoming text message.  The excitement derived from the printed word doesn’t come close to the rush of dopamine to the brain we get when the iPhone dings.  It’s irresistible.  Something new!  Something new!  But if reading long-form fiction has turned into such a chore, how is it possible that a million books are published every year?  Who reads them? Well, if they’re murder mysteries, I’m happy to report that a lot of us do.  A survey conducted by Sisters in Crime found that mystery readers spend ten hours or more each week with our noses buried in a whodunnit.

Given the profusion of mysteries, it sometimes seems that writers outnumber readers.  Perhaps it’s the appeal of the glittering lifestyle – the adulation, the awards, the million dollar advances.  Dream on.  Most of us snap out of that fantasy soon enough.  Realistically, what inspires an ardent mystery reader to begin writing is a compelling idea for a plot or character and the desire to write the kind of story she likes to read.  Having read so many other mysteries, she is already equipped with the know-how to tell her story effectively.  Readers make better writers.

Correspondingly, writing makes writers better readers.  Writers read both to expand their imagination and to hone their craft.  We never stop learning the tricks of the trade, never stop sharpening our perception of what does and doesn’t work, never stop noticing a perfectly deployed verb or an original phrase.  And of course we keep our eyes peeled for bits we can crank through our mental kaleidoscopes, twist into something fresh, and use in our own work.  “Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life,” says Stephen King.  On a more cautionary note, he adds, “The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself.”

I admit that in consideration of my limited time on this earth, I’ve given myself permission to abandon a book if it fails to engage my interest after the first few chapters.  Truth to tell, I abandoned one of the books on Block’s reading list.  The Fools In Town Are On Our Side by Ross Thomas appealed to me at first because the title comes from Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.  “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side?  And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”  I thought I was in for a humorous blend of crime and political satire.  But the protagonist, Lucifer Clarence Dye, acted and spoke almost as if he were narcotized.  For this reader, Dye was a deadly bore.  I was however taken with the character names – Gorman Smalldane and Homer Necessary.  What a pair of lulus!

Unlike me, Lawrence Block, Donald Westlake, John D. MacDonald, Eric Ambler, Sara Paretsky, Robert B. Parker – all count Ross Thomas among their favorite authors.  Readers have widely differing tastes.  De Gustibus.  Still and all, it’s important to sample as many styles as you can.  You always encounter something worthwhile or thought provoking, if only a name.

After Block’s students were excused from the burden of reading the books, I wonder what they talked about in class.  Perhaps he handed out cliff-notes?  I’m sure he gave excellent advice on what it takes to become a writer – when they have a minute.  But to quote Stephen King again, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”