Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Beyond Dead by Jordaina Sydney Robinson. This book is the first Bridget Sway Novel and was released earlier this year.

Bridget Sway is not having a good day. She catches her fiance having sex with another woman and runs outside where she trips and falls into the oncoming path of a bus. Which kills her. But that's not the end. That's just the beginning.

Beyond Dead is the story of the afterlife of Bridget Sway who's discovering that things can actually get worse after you die. On her first day of work Bridget finds a dead ghost guy in her locker. That's bad, as is being taken in by the police for questioning. What may even be worse is being forced to share a house with a bunch of strangers, dying, without basic hygiene essentials, and having to not only go to work, but attend Ghostly Acclimatisation meetings. Basically Bridget is living in a bureaucratic nightmare. The good news is she found a like minded friend in Sabrina. Bridget's new best friend, however, happened to be a PI when she was alive and convinces Bridget to investigate the dead ghost's murder. Between trying to learn her new job, getting used to being dead (the GA meetings aren't that helpful), dealing with her incredibly annoying, yet very hot, guardian, Bridget must also learn to deal with mediums and avoid being killed herself! It's not easy being dead.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Story Behind Spirit in the Rock - Guest Post

The Story Behind "Spirit in the Rock"
by Terry Ambrose

Here comes Fall. And with it, Halloween, complete with ghosts, goblins, and trick-or-treating. Are you one of those people who loves Halloween because it's a great opportunity to dress up in costume? I outgrew my desire to "costume up" for the holiday years ago but do enjoy seeing others go all out. Maybe writing is my way of dressing up for the holidays. I like looking at "Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime" as a cozy mystery celebration of Fall. And you can bet with a dozen stories, we've got some ghosts.

What about real ghosts, though? Are you a believer? I know several people who are. Hawai‘i happens to be a place where many people are believers. The islands have had myths and legends about supernatural activity for centuries. Some of the first date back to the time of the volcano goddess, Pele. There are also many current-day paranormal rumors and legends.

In Honolulu, O‘ahu Ghost Tours conducts ghost tours. Their offerings run the gamut from easy walks to more moderate activity. When I learned Halloween was one of our available themes in "Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime," I was excited. I was eager to write my first-ever ghost story and contacted the friendly people at O‘ahu Ghost Tours.

Most ghost stories try to scare the pants off you. Right? The problem is, I don't write really scary stuff. I'm more of a cozy kind of guy. When I contacted Robert at O‘ahu Ghost Tours, I was concerned. How would someone who made his living in Hawai‘i telling stories about ghosts feel about my type of ghost story?

So what is "my type" of ghost story? Consider it something like a pina colada, but instead of rum, lime, coconut, and pineapple juice, it's a blend of mystery, humor, setting, and quirky characters. Whip all the ingredients together and we end up with a Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mystery.

Don't worry, our "Happy Homicides" mysteries won't send you under the blankets in fear. On the contrary, if I've done my job well, you'll get a good laugh from mine. It's not every day an amateur sleuth and a PI-wannabe take on a couple of Hawaiian spirits as well as a killer.

The title of my story for "Happy Homicides 4" is "Spirit in the Rock." I'll let you in on a little secret. The concept came from my contact at O‘ahu Ghost Tours. The real story goes something like this. A man was walking along the beach one day when he spotted a beautiful rock. He picked up the rock and the spirit inside spoke to him. The voice was that of a young woman. She promised the man she would bestow great fortune on his family if he cared for her.

The man became enamored of the spirit in the rock over time and paid it great attention. Eventually, his wife became jealous and threw the rock into the ocean. Of course, bad things happened to the family afterward. The story did leave me with a question. What if there had been a witness who saw the wife throw away the rock?

With that premise, I was able to bring the story forward to current day. This time, the spirit in the rock is unhappy because someone stole the rock from the museum after her benefactor donated it. The spirit is wreaking havoc on the grand opening of the museum. It's up to McKenna to find the thief, pacify the spirit, and solve the murder of a security guard at the museum. The big problem is, he has to do it all before the clock strikes midnight and Halloween ends. I hope you enjoy "Spirit in the Rock" as well as all the other stories in "Happy Homicides 4."

My latest Trouble in Paradise novella was just released "North Shore Nanny" on August 30. This time, McKenna's client is Kai Palakiko. She’s ten, precocious, and determined to prove her nanny isn’t a killer. She may be McKenna’s toughest client yet. Stop by my website at if you'd like to learn more about "North Shore Nanny."

Have you had any experience with ghosts? Do you know anyone who has? If you haven't, do you think you'd enjoy a ghost tour? Leave a comment below to enter to win an e-book copy of any of my Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mysteries.

Terry Ambrose writes the Trouble in Paradise (McKenna Mystery) series, and the License to Lie thriller series. Terry has been nominated for multiple awards and won the 2014 San Diego Book Awards for Best Action/Thriller. 

Terry’s novels receive consistent praise from readers for their complex characters and plots. Kirkus Reviews said Terry’s writing has “. . . the kind of snark that will remind readers of Elmore Leonard.”

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Story to Kill: An Interview and Review

I'm pleased to welcome Lynn Cahoon back to the blog today. Lynn starts a new series with A Story to Kill.  This first book in the Cat Latimer Mystery series will be released August 30th.

Kathy: You start a new series with A Story to Kill. How did you decide to create a whole new series?

LC: The Tourist Trap has eight books available for purchase today, and more to come. Sometimes, convincing a reader to jump into a series with that many books is a hard sell. Everyone's reading time is limited so I wanted to entice new readers to try one of my books. And I love writing. So I needed a new outlet for my creative muse.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

LC: When I'm building a new world, I always think about what I want to accomplish. With the Cat books, I wanted to challenge myself to write a mystery within the mystery. And, it's definitely a challenge. I also knew I wanted to set it somewhere I felt comfortable, but I already had an Idaho series along with the central California one, so Colorado was my next choice. As far as a writer's retreat, I love the idea. Surrounding yourself with other authors is fun and builds creativity.

Kathy: Cat opens a writer's retreat in the house she inherited. Have you ever attended such a retreat? As a writer, would you ever consider sponsoring one yourself?

LC: I have not. My bestie and I planned a writing retreat last year, but her computer died the night before so we did a touristy thing for our two days together. It wouldn't have been nice for me to write when she wasn't able to put words down. :) But I love the idea of one. I made my own writer's retreat on a trip to Chicago and got 10000 words that weekend. Totally worth the time and investment. I'd love to sponsor one some day. We have a historic river town near by with several bed and breakfast. I'd love to rent one out for the weekend and invite all my local writer friends. Maybe someday.

Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?

LC: I am a pantser. I come up with an idea - like the new Tourist Trap I'm writing - and then dive in. Typically, I have the opening in my head, long before I start writing. For Killer Party, the book I'm writing, I knew it started with Greg attending a bachelor's party for one of his high school friends. Now, after writing the first two chapters, I had to stop and figure out why the person was killed, who did it, and what red herrings I'm going to build in.

Five friends walk into a bar, only four walk out.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LC: Fatility by Firelight - Book 2 of the Cat Latimer books comes out February 28th, 2017.

To kick off a winter writing retreat, Cat and her handyman boyfriend, Seth, escort the aspiring authors to a nearby ski resort, hoping some fresh cold air will wake up their creative muses. But instead of hitting the slopes, they hit the bar—and before long, a tipsy romance novelist named Christina is keeping herself warm with a local ski bum who might have neglected to tell her about his upcoming wedding.

Next thing Cat knows, her uncle, the town sheriff, informs her that the young man’s been found dead in a hot tub—and Christina shows up crying and covered in blood. Now, between a murder mystery, the theft of a rare Hemingway edition, and the arrival of a black-clad stranger in snowy Aspen Hills, Cat’s afraid everything’s going downhill . . .And then Hospitality and Homicide (Tourist Trap #8) releases May 16th.

Back in South Cove, a mystery writer returns to pen his newest novel. But when the death scene he writes, comes to be in real life, Greg and Jill have to figure out who really killed the bed and breakfast owner.



A STORY TO KILL by Lynn Cahoon
The First Cat Latimer Mystery

Leaving California for Colorado, Cat Latimer has returned to the home she once shared with her husband. Surprised that her ex left the house to her when he died, Cat is nonetheless excited to start a new chapter in her life. Along her her best friend Shauna, Cat is converting the Victorian into a writer's retreat. Inheriting the house is only the first unexpected event for Cat. She soon discovers that the handyman Shauna hired is none other than her old flame. Not wanting to appear rattled at his appearance, Cat busies herself preparing for her first set of guests, which include a famous author. Life has more curve balls for Cat, however, as she discovers that her guests are not quite what she expected and that while one guest is a major fan girl another another has a major grudge against that famous author. Cat goes to his room in an attempt to warn him only to find his murdered body! 

Lynn Cahoon has started a great series with interesting characters. The writing is crisp and taut, yet time is taken to develop the characters. I sense a huge back story with Shauna and I hope more will be revealed in future books. One of Cahoon's more interesting characters doesn't even appear in the book, Cat's ex-husband. Through comments both subtle and direct we get a somewhat conflicted image of the man. If he was just a womanizing heel who tired of marriage, why leave the house to Cat? As for the house, the wonderful thing about using it as a writer's retreat is the ever changing guest list, new characters to like and dislike. It's especially nice knowing the ones you dislike probably won't be return! This changing cast of characters make more viable suspects and bring fresh blood to the victim/murderer pool.

An interesting note about the Cat Latimer Mystery series is that the books let us glimpse into the real life of writers. We witness the alone time needed to write, the little things necessary for writers-certain snacks for example, and most importantly, the fact that generally authors can't survive solely on the income they earn from writing, Another source of income is generally needed to pay the bills. 

While the mystery is complete in A STORY TO KILL, Cahoon sets the stage for future books with her open ending. Readers will be satisfied, yet left wanting more-to see just what Cat's ex got himself into! I had a great time delving into this world. A STORY TO KILL is a smart, well written mystery that left me with great expectations for the next chapter in the Cat Latimer Mystery series.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Black Thumb Interview and Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Frankie Bow back to the blog. Frankie writes the Professor Molly Mystery series. The Black Thumb is the third book in the series.

Kathy: There's a murder at a meeting of the Pua Kala Garden society. Are you part of a gardening group? Do you enjoy gardening yourself, or do you just admire the gardens of others?

FB: I do enjoy other peoples' gardens, but as far as my own skills, well, The Black Thumb could have been named after me. I have had cactus die in my care. I remember one neighbor's garden that I really admired, because it looked so natural--it was a riot of colorful, leafy tropical plants, the kind that grow so well on their own here in Hawaii. One day I was lucky enough to have a tour of the garden and I found that it was anything but natural--each type of plant had its own unique protocol, complete with its custom blend of fertilizers and pesticides. This mixture for the banana tree, that one for the bougainvillea. If you let plants grow "naturally," you'll end up with a jungle on your property.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite plant or flower?

FB: The "ticklish plant" or mimosa pudica is adorable.
It grows in tropical areas all over the world. I've never seen it anywhere but Hawaii.

Kathy: The victim in The Black Thumb is a frenemy of Molly. Did you have any frenemies when you were in school?

FB: Unlike Molly Barda, my grad school experience was actually pretty positive. My advisor was both incredibly accomplished and supportive, my fellow students were brilliant and compassionate, and no one tried to poison anyone. However: I have met a few narcissistic, undermine-y people over the years, and I have synthesized them into the character of Melanie Polewski.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

FB: The coveted Brewster House was inspired by gorgeous Victorians like the Shipman House.

The subplot about leprosy patients being taken from their families and exiled to Molokai was inspired and informed by the work of University of Hawaii historian Kerri Inglis, And the information about lava tubes, underground tunnels that can cave in unexpectedly, is absolutely factual. You can find stories about people falling through a thin crust of ground into lava tubes.

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Molly Barda?

FB: Without being too spoiler-y, in The Black Thumb, Molly finally makes an important life decision that sets the stage for future books. After The Black Thumb are The Invasive Species, which is based on with the controversy around genetically engineered crops, and The Blessed Event, where Molly deals with the issue of...babies.

Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?

FB: I am a 100% plotter. I can't imagine trying to "pants" a murder mystery, although I am in awe of anyone who can do that.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

FB: In addition to the Professor Molly mysteries, I write for Kindle Worlds in Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune world. The Miss Fortune books have been described as "Miss Congeniality meets Golden Girls," and the originals are hilarious. My Miss Fortune novellas are

Sinful Science

Once Upon a Murder

Tabasco Fiasco


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Friday, August 26, 2016

Review - The Crepes of Wrath


The First Pancake House Mystery

Taking a leave of absence from her job as a legal assistant in Seattle, Marley traveled to the Olympic Peninsula to manage her hospitalized cousin's pancake house. Enjoying her time in the small town, despite a recent rash of burglaries, Marley gets a message that her cousin Jimmy is leaving the hospital early, against medical advice, and will take a taxi home. Since Jimmy dislikes taxis she finds his mode of transport as odd as the timing of his departure; almost as odd as the unpleasant woman claiming to be his girlfriend...who he never mentioned. Yet Marley's day gets even more shocking when not only does an old crush come into the restaurant, but moments later Leigh, the primary waitress, rushes back in after leaving for the day...and after finding Jimmy's body on the rocks of Wildwood Beach. 

Marley McKinney is a smart protagonist, and, while she asks questions, she isn't actively searching for the murderer. She also keeps the police informed, something most mystery protagonists rarely do, but which is the smart, real-life course of action. The mystery is filled with red herrings, enough to confound the reader searching for clues, which are also present. In addition to the mystery, the romance reigniting between Mallory and her long ago crush, Brett Collins, plays a major part in the story. The romance doesn't distract from the mystery, in fact it adds layers of depth, not only to the characters, but the story and the mystery itself. Vivid descriptions and a well paced plot also help to intensify the atmosphere and make for a most satisfying read.

THE CRÊPES OF WRATH is a delightful, intelligent book that proves to be a great start in a new series. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time on the Olympic Peninsula and wish I could visit the Flip Side Pancake House and have Ivan cook me up something special. Bacon Cheddar Waffles, anyone?

Recipes Included.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Betting Off Dead by Tonya Kappes. This book is the second in the Spies and Spells Mystery series.

It's been a few months since Maggie worked with SKUL and the devilishly handsome Mick Jasper and she's having doubts that she actually found her true life's journey. Between working more hours at The Brew and diffusing community conflicts at Belgravia Court Maggie is more than ready when Mick appears once more with a new assignment from SKUL. Intelligence reveals that there's a horse doping ring which could lead all the way to the Kentucky Derby. Posing as a married couple, they'll infiltrate the world of high stakes horse owners. But getting close to Mick is dangerous, not only for her physical form, but her witchy heart as well.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Interview in Terror With Giveaway

I'm pleased  to welcome Marla Cooper to the blog today. Marla writes the Destination Wedding Mystery series. Terror in Taffeta, the first in the series, was released earlier this year.

Kathy: Kelsey McKenna is a wedding planner. Have you, or would you, use a wedding planner for the big day?

MC: I didn’t! I’m more the DIY type, and I loved planning my wedding. But I imagine if I were as busy as I am now, I might have been happy to have someone else take over. The right wedding planner will make sure the event really reflects who you are. Plus, they come in handy if you need someone to help solve a murder.

Kathy: In Terror in Taffeta, Kelsey is working a destination wedding in Mexico. Destination weddings are quite the thing. Would you consider having one? If so, where would you go?

MC: I would love to get married in Italy. I was invited to a destination wedding on the Amalfi Coast and, in retrospect, I can’t believe I didn’t go! My other choice would be a castle in Ireland. And also, the castle would be haunted, because what could be cooler than having a ghost at your wedding?

Kathy: I must ask. What is a tequila donkey?

MC: What, you mean everyone doesn’t have a tequila donkey at their wedding? It’s actually a Mexican tradition in which a burro leads the wedding procession through town. In addition to colorful blankets and flowers, he also comes bearing bottles of tequila from which the guests can do shots—errr, sip daintily.  

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MC: I like the idea of mysteries because it’s much easier to keep the plot moving along when there’s a murderer on the loose. And I chose cozies over other types of mysteries because it’s almost impossible for me to be too serious for too long. I like to incorporate humor into everything I do, and cozies are known for having a lighter touch.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MC: This is my first foray into fiction, but I have written lots of other things. I’m a copywriter by day, which means I’ve written web copy, radio spots, print ads… you may have even seen a TV spot I wrote at some point. I also spent many years writing travel guidebooks, which meant weeks on the road followed by a month or so writing about it. I got a couple of gigs ghostwriting nonfiction books for Chronicle Books—one of which led to me writing a mystery! (More on that in a minute…)

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MC: Terror in Taffeta is the first book in the Destination Wedding Mystery series. As you may have guessed, the main character, Kelsey McKenna, is a destination wedding planner, which means each book takes place in a different locale. Kelsey is a problem solver by nature, so when one of the bridesmaids drops over in the  middle of the wedding ceremony, naturally she ends up getting involved (against her better judgment). The second book, Dying on the Vine, which comes out next March, finds Kelsey in the California wine country.

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

MC: I love Kelsey’s best friend, Brody. He’s a wedding photographer so they get to work together a lot, and the two of them have great banter together. He’s based on a couple of my real-life friends, so writing a Brody scene is kind of like getting to hang out with them.

I also loved writing the mother of the bride, Mrs. Abernathy. She’s totally pushy and demanding, and I imagine most wedding planners have encountered someone like her in the line of duty. For some reason, she was really easy for me to picture, so her scenes were always so easy to write, and she always made me laugh.

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

MC: I did! Several years ago, I got a job ghostwriting a nonfiction book on how to plan a destination wedding. While the wedding planner was telling me about her job, I remember sitting across from her thinking, "Going off to foreign countries with people you don't really know? Everyone expecting you to fix things when they go wrong? This is the perfect setup for a murder mystery!"

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

MC: It’s tempting to name some of the fabulous, warm, funny and awesome authors I’ve met who are part of the mystery community, but I’m going to go with people I don’t actually know.
Short story author Aimee Bender, because her brain fascinates me. Carolyn Keene, so we could talk about the Girl Detective. Armistead Maupin, because his Tales of the City books were what made me think it would be fun to write a book someday (and I’m sure he has some great stories!). And Agatha Christie, because if I didn't everyone would say, "Why didn't you invite Agatha Christie?"

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MC: I’ve been hard at work on my second book, Dying on the Vine, so I haven’t had much time for reading lately. But I do have a pretty juicy collection waiting for me on my Kindle—not to mention the stack of books I brought back from Malice Domestic. It’s going to be hard to know where to start!

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

MC: Sure! When it’s time to take a break from writing, I pick up my ukulele. I’ve never played a musical instrument before, so it’s been really fun using a different part of my brain. I love being able to pick it up and just play. I don't have to be good at it. Nobody will ever hear it. It's just for fun. And there's no physical proof left behind if I fail—unlike pottery or knitting or any of my other abandoned craft projects.

I’ve also been a little obsessed with genealogy lately. I have a great grandmother who seems to have just appeared on this earth at the age of twenty, because I can’t find any evidence of her existence before she married my great grandfather. I can spend hours on hunting down leads. I sure hope one of these days I have a breakthrough that will make it all worthwhile!

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

MC: Half and half, because coffee is essential to my job. String cheese, because it’s great for those moments when I’m suddenly ravenous because I forgot to eat. Peanut butter, because I like to eat it with apples. And a bottle of champagne because you never know when you might need to celebrate.

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

MC: Yes! Part of the fun of writing about destination weddings is thinking about settings. So after I finish Dying on the Vine, which is set in the California wine country, I get to start thinking about where to set Book Three. A couple of people have mentioned Reykjavik, which would be great because I’d “have to” travel there for research, but a haunted castle in Ireland would also be pretty fun!

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

MC: Connecting with readers. It makes my day when I get an email from someone who read the book and liked it. It’s one thing when your friends read it, but it’s kind of mind-boggling to think about some stranger reading it and enjoying it. I also love hearing about my book getting to go on vacation with people. So far this summer, I know it’s been to Canada and France. I hope at least someone read it on a beach!

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