Sunday, April 28, 2013

Meet Mitzi Kelly and the Silver Sleuths

Thanks for stopping by for my portion of the Silver Sleuths Book Tour. I'm really enjoying the series. I finished Classic Revenge, the first entry in the series and am currently reading Deadly Policy, the second. I'd like you to meet Mitzi Kelly the author of this series.

Kathy: Trish, Edna, and Millie are friends and neighbors in the Silver Sleuths Mysteries. Is their relationship based on your own neighborhood experiences? Do you have close friendships with any of your neighbors?

MK: When I was growing up, our neighborhood was the whole world! We did something with our friends in the neighborhood every day. Everybody knew everybody, and you didn't need an invitation to join in whatever was going on. We commandeered the street for our football, baseball and tennis games, and playing hide-n-seek was a blast with thirty houses to choose from to find that special hiding place. Our parents were always outside talking to each other or arranging neighborhood cookouts. As I've gotten older, I miss that sense of neighborhood community. I still enjoy chats with my neighbors, but everybody is so busy now that we don't get to do it often. The Silver Sleuths are fortunate to still have that close relationship with their neighbors.

Kathy: While Edna and Millie truly put the silver in Silver Sleuths, Trish is a bit young. (And I'm not just saying that because I'm only 4 years younger.) Do you think she'd mind being referred to as a silver sleuth?

MK: I wondered about that myself when I was creating the characters, but Trish feels she fits in easily with the moniker because of her somewhat sedate lifestyle. And, being labeled as part of the older group gives her some cover for her lack of physical activity. It can be embarrassing to have your two older friends be in much better shape than you are. It also serves as motivation when she's in the mood to get in shape. That doesn't happen often, though.

Kathy: I think it's great that people of differing ages have close friendships. Do you have friends from different generations?

MK: I have been blessed with having really close friends from many different age groups. Even when I was a young girl I could relate to my mom's friends. Young or mature, I enjoy being with people who have different outlooks on life depending on the age group they fall into. You always learn something, and you never know when one person's opinion could completely change the way you are looking at something. Friends are truly one of God's many gifts to us.

Kathy: Millie is outspoken, brash, and opinionated. Does living into your 80s endow you with the ability to say what you like without fear of reprisal?

MK: Oh, most definitely! That's one of the many perks of living to that age. I mean, it's not like you have to worry about your reputation at that point, and your remarks aren't going to jeopardize a job interview. I think it must be one of the most liberating times of life. And, if Millie is anything to go by, it certainly doesn't destroy friendships.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MK: I've been reading mysteries of all kinds since I first learned how to read. I love them all. However, the older I got, the more I started to gravitate more toward the light mysteries that cozies provide. I'm always fascinated by the ability of normal, everyday people to solve crimes. I still read the more grittier stories, of course. But that's only when I know that a lack of sleep isn't going to affect me for a while!

Kathy: Do you write any other genres?

MK: Yes, I also write romances. In fact, I'm in the process of completing a romance trilogy featuring three of the most gorgeous men you'd ever want to meet. I'll be releasing news of that series on my website soon. I also like contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. And, I also adore family sagas. I've got the outline of a wonderful family saga completed and I'm itching to start it.

Kathy:Tell us about your series.

MK: The Silver Sleuths Mystery Series involves three older women who blindly rush headlong into danger and intrigue, discovering something about themselves during the process. Despite their inexperience and unorthodox methods, they seem to have a knack for this detective stuff!

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

MK: I really enjoy all of my characters equally, but I have to admit it is so much fun to deal with Millie. As I mentioned before, her age allows me to plop her into some pretty bizarre situations which she can squirm out of quite believably. Put her in danger's way, and boy, oh boy, you've got a disaster waiting to happen!

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

MK: My main characters share a lot of personality traits that both of my grandmothers had. My entire family and circle of friends have entertained me with tons of humor--regardless of the situation--and they are all unique with loads of love and loyalty. So combining a myriad of personalities I already knew with my love of mysteries helped to create The Silver Sleuths.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MK: I felt there were a lot of people out there who would enjoy a cozy mystery with characters they recognize and can relate to. In this crazy, mixed-up world we live in right now, I believe laughter is the best way to escape for a while. The majority of comments and reviews this series has received tell me that, thankfully, I was right!

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

MK: That's a tough question. I have many favorite authors, but I think it would be a lot of fun to dine with James Patterson, Sue Grafton, Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Can you imagine the conversation flowing around the dinner table?

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MK: I just started Sue Grafton's U is for Undertow. I love her Kinsey Millhone detective series!

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

MK: My favorite times are spent visiting with family and friends. I also love to work out in my yard, and helping my husband with home improvement projects. Of course, football season you'll find me glued to the TV.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

MK: Chocolate, wine, cheese and . . . chocolate!

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

MK: The Silver Sleuths Series has plot ideas that will run for years. After my romance trilogy, I'm not sure if I'm going to start another series, or write stand alone novels. I'll just have to see where my characters take me!

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

MK: Nothing can compare to the feeling you get when a reader will tell you that you made them laugh, or that they know somebody exactly like one of your characters. It is so fulfilling, and will keep any author plugging along to get the next book done!

Would you like to win copies of BOTH Classic Revenge and Deadly Policy, the first two books of the Silver Sleuths Mysteries? Author Mitzi Kelly has graciously donated them. All you have to do is leave a comment here and have a US mailing address. This contest is US only. Be sure I can get a hold of you if you win! You have until 11:59PM EST April 30, 2013 to enter! I'll use to pick a winner and post that winner on Wednesday's May 1st blog.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Currently Reading...

This week has been something else. I've been super stressed out at work, I've been dealing with medical issues and bad news for my furkids, and I started a new business. With everything going on, I haven't read much and consequently, I'm still reading the book I was reading last week: Killer Crinolines by Duffy Brown. I truly am enjoying it and I'll finish it before I go to bed, but I'm not sure what I'll be reading next. I have some book tours coming up, but haven't received the books yet. I'll decide my next book when I get up tomorrow.

I also haven't heard from any of my winners from the contest last week. Kim Daley, Cyn209, and DarcyO you won! Please send your address to me at and I'll forward them to Duffy Brown who will send you your prize!~

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Visit 17th Century London With Susanna Calkins & Winners Announced

I'd like to welcome author Susanna Calkins to the Cozy Up With Kathy stop of the book tour for A Murder at Rosamund's Gate. If you haven't already done so, check out my review of this book which I posted last week. You can read it HERE.
Kathy: What made you choose to pursue a PhD in history? What was your intended career?
SC: Great question!  Ever when I was a kid, I was always interested in the historical origins of everyday things.  What does so-and-so’s last name mean? What does such-and-such a phrase mean? I just wanted a better understanding of our modern world, which to me, meant studying the past. That passion for discovery was deep enough to sustain me through the Ph.D.

Kathy: I have a fondness for history and have some knowledge of certain eras, but must confess a general ignorance of 17th century England. What drew you to that period?   
SC: The 17th century is often a period characterized as “the world turned upside down.” Even as religious and political conflicts tore society apart, this was also a time for incredible opportunity and growth for individuals. Events like the plague and the Great Fire of London helped level society—at least temporarily—giving newfound and unprecedented advantages to people who would not otherwise have been afforded them (like my Lucy).

Kathy: Lucy is a chambermaid, a relatively low ranking position in the household, yet a vital member of the family. What made you choose that position for her?
SC: I was always more interested in the lives of commoners, rather than nobles and gentry. Moreover, I always wondered how someone with no formal education could manage to solve a crime—and there are definitely some true accounts from the archives of people managing to do this.

Kathy: You're able to achieve a compelling read complete with historical accuracy. Are you concerned that some of the realism might be off-putting to some readers?
SC: This is a really interesting question. I essentially wrote the story I wanted to tell, which I think is how most writers start out with their first novels. Reading is such a subjective process too; I respect that my book may not be for everyone. 

Kathy: What first drew you to the mysteries?   
SC: I’ve always loved mysteries…from Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie, and now to authors like Anne Perry, Charles Todd, Rhys Bowen, and Jacqueline Winspeare.

Kathy: Do you write any other genres?   
SC: Interesting you should ask. My agent asked me to try my hand at Young Adult (a genre I enjoy). He currently is reading a manuscript I just sent, so stay tuned.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 
SC: Lucy Campion is a 17th century chambermaid working in the household of a local magistrate. When a fellow servant (her friend) is murdered, and someone she loves is accused of the crime, Lucy must work to save this person from being hanged.  The second in the series, From the Charred Remains, picks up a week after the first book ends, with a new puzzle that Lucy must solve.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?   
SC: Lucy is my favorite character, because I wanted to create someone bright and inquisitive who is good at solving puzzles.  I also liked my magistrate, because he’s thoughtful and measured, and willing to consider Lucy’s opinions.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?  
SC: When I was first working on my PhD, I came across a series of 17th c. murder ballads (yes, people use to sing about murder), which raised a lot of questions for me.  A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate is an attempt to answer these questions.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?   
SC: It was always a dream to see my story come to life. Publication was a way to see my story realized.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?    
SC: Jane Austen, Anne Perry, Suzanne Collins, and C.S. Lewis (boy, I’d love to be at that party!)

Kathy: What are you currently reading?   
SC: Last week, I read Nancy Bilyeau’s The Chalice.  Very enjoyable read.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us? 
SC: Well, given that my hobby used to be writing, but that became a full-time job (on top of my actual full-time job), I’m not sure if I have any hobbies any more. Probably watching too much TV.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.   
SC: Hmm…I know the wine is in the crisper drawer. Everything else I have to ask my husband. J

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?   
SC: Yes, From the Charred Remains (working title) is the second in the Lucy Campion series.  The YA I mentioned is set in 1878 Paris, and could become a series as well.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author? 
SC: Having a legitimate reason to hang out in a coffee shop all day.  

Thank you very much for hosting me on your blog today!

Thanks for visiting this last stop on A Murder at Rosamund's Gate Book Tour. Don't forget to enter HERE for a chance to win a $40 gift card or a hardback copy of A Murder at Rosamund's Gate courtesy of Cozy Mystery Book Reviews.

Now for the winners of the Killer Crinolines tote bag as picked by Kim Daley, Cyn209, and DarcyOPlease send your address to me at and I'll forward them to Duffy Brown who will send you your prize. Congratulations! If you didn't win-don't give up hope, I'll be running this same contest through my Facebook page in the next 2 weeks. Follow me there and try again.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Currently Reading... Plus a Giveaway

Fun, Fun, Fun!!! I'm currently reading Killer Crinolines by Duffy Brown and loving it! I consider myself very lucky as this book is not yet released, but the author had the publisher send me an early copy. This book is the second in the Consignment Shop Mysteries. Join Reagan Summerside and her fun loving Auntie Kiki in Savannah, Georgia as they help a good friend accused of murder. A wedding in August, a UPS driver scorned, and plenty of quirky characters can be found here. This series has lots of laughs and plenty of Southern Charm. Be sure to pick up your own copy when it makes its official release in May!

Do you want to help author Duffy Brown celebrate the release of Killer Crinolines? Would you like a Killer Crinolines tote bag of your very own? All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what you're currently reading. You have until 11:59 pm EST Saturday, April 20, 2013 to leave a comment here. I'll choose 3 winners using random .org and post the winners in Sunday's blog post.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review - A Murder at Rosamund's Gate

Enter the world of 17th century London. It's gritty, it's harsh, it's not cozy. A Murder at Rosamund's Gate is a wonderful mystery, but it's definitely not a cozy mystery. However, if you want a fascinating story with interesting characters and a heavy dose of realism, you've come to the right place.

In Murder at Rosamund's Gate we're introduced to Lucy Campion. Lucy is the chambermaid at the residence of the magistrate. Life is not easy, but she and her fellow servants are fortunate to work in a household that treats them well. The city is not so forgiving. A woman is found murdered and all too soon the magistrate's lady's maid is found murdered as well. Lucy vows to seek justice for her friend while trying to save a loved one accused of the crime and avoid the perils of London in the 1600s, including the plague!

Susanna Calkins pulls no punches when she describes Lucy's world. From the dumping of chamberpots to dog baiting and the treatment of prisoners, we witness it all. A Murder at Rosamund's Gate is not a cozy mystery, nor is it a "typical" murder mystery where a murder occurs and or protagonists goes out looking for clues to solve the murder as quickly as possible. Indeed an entire year passes in the course of this book. That being said I find it to be a great story imbued with historical accuracy, a mystery, and a touch of romance. I loved it!

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate  * * * * *
The Lucy Campion Series   Too early to rate

My rating system:
To me a 5 star book is an amazing read that swept me away and left me changed. A 4 star review is a great book that I really loved. 3 stars is still a solid good read, positive and enjoyable. Reviews will cease to be that positive at the 2 star rating-an OK book with serious flaws. And a 1 star-don't bother.

Discover more about this book and author next Sunday when I interview Susanna Calkins.

Be sure to stop by Wednesday to find out what I'm currently reading. If you leave a comment telling me what you're currently reading you'll be entered to win a tote bag from author Duffy Brown.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Skeleton Letters By Laura Childs. This book is the 9th book in Childs' Scrapbooking Mysteries. I enjoy this series set in New Orleans. While I don't scrapbook, I do make cards and participate in other paper arts, so can really appreciate the craft background to these stories.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Animal Cozy

I'm a huge animal lover. Wildlife, domesticated animals, pets...I enjoy all kinds of animals. I especially love it when they make it in to mystery novels.

There are a few different ways in which animals appear in cozy mysteries. In some instances they exist in the novels as pets, but don't play a major role. In some cases they're little more than background enhancer; the family pets in the Jane Jeffires Mysteries by Jill Churchill, for example. In other series their role is a little more important, but only as a background character; Earl Grey, the mixed breed "Dalbrador", in Laura Child's Tea Shop Mysteries or Miss Marple, Tricia's cat, in the Booktown Mysteries by Lorna Barrett

In other books the animal plays a more active role, oftentimes helping the protagonist solve the mystery. Koko and Yum Yum are prime examples in The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun. I just love Owen and Hercules from The Magical Cats Mysteries by Sofie Kelly.

A third type of animal mystery actually gives voice to the animal. The story may be told from his or her point of view, or they may tell part of the story. All of the animals talk in the Mrs. Murphy Series by Rita Mae Brown, although the humans can't understand them. While Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker are the major animal stars here, the other animals have their say too, including horses and my favorite opossum, Simon. Midnight Louis has even more to say in his series by Carole Nelson Douglas. In these books the chapters alternate between the point of view of the humans and those of Midnight Louis.

Some mysteries have an animal theme. The protagonist works with animals in some way. Claudia Bishop writes about a veterinarian in The Casebook of Dr. McKenzie Series while Linda O. Johnston's Pet Rescue Series features a no-kill animal shelter.

Then there's the cover cat. You may pick up a cozy and see a cat on the cover. However, as you read the book you find no mention of a cat. Who is that cat is on the cover? What's his role? This mysterious cat is a marketing tool. Publishers believe that cats on covers increase sales, so they'll add a cat to a petless mystery in the hopes of getting that animal lover to pick up the book, take a closer look, and perhaps buy it.

What do you think about animal mysteries? Do you have a favorite?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Currently Reading...

Oops. I lost all track of days and missed Wednesdays post.

I'm currently reading Classic Revenge by Mitzi Kelly. This book is the first in the Silver Sleuths Mysteries. A trio of ladies...two much more silver than one (and I'm not just saying that because the youngest is only 4 years older than me!) think their neighbor and friend has been framed for his wife's murder and set out to find the real culprit.

On April 28, 2013 I'll have an interview with author Mitzi Kelly.