Saturday, December 18, 2010

Whitfield Cover Award Voting Update

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I started a Whitfield Cover Award in June. The winner for the first half of the year was Dawn Stephens's cover for The Little Pot. She will be getting a Whitfield Cover Award decal and a free copy of my new book, Sin Creek, as soon as it's released.

Now it's time to pick another winner for the second half of 2010, and this winner will receive a copy of Sin Creek as well as a Whitfield Cover Award decal. I have been through all the blog posts since June and have tried to narrow the voting field. However, there are so many wonderful covers that I need your help. Please look through the covers (you can click on a cover to enlarge it) and leave your choice (only 1 vote, please) in the comments section. Voting will end on December 31st at midnight. Good luck to all nominees!

Today( December 29th) the following covers are finalists:


Good luck to all of you!
If you haven't voted, please leave your choice in the comments section.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pat Browning's Absinthe of Malice

Pat Browning is my guest today. Pat, first of all, congratulations on the success of your novel, Absinthe of Malice.

What inspired the book?

To be honest, it wasn’t inspired, it just happened. Seriously. I’ve been a writer of some kind ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil and write between the lines. In the fifth grade I wrote one-page haunted house stories and passed them around the room. That summer I wrote a “book” – an unabashed take-off of a Bobbsey Twins book -- and passed it around the neighborhood.

In my teens I kept an elaborate, illustrated diary – until I found out my mother was reading it. Furious, I threw it away. I’ve wished a million times that I still had it. In my twenties I dabbled with writing short stories, but I wasn’t really good at it – too much character, not enough plot. I found my calling as a newspaper reporter, and eventually that led to writing a mystery.

I was working for the Hanford (California) Sentinel and the managing editor wanted to dress up the paper with a books column. Would I do it? Of course. I went to the local library and walked along the shelves pulling out books that looked interesting. Most of them turned out to be mysteries.

After reading half a dozen mysteries I decided to write my own. I actually said to the editor, “How hard can it be?” That was about 1995, and five years later I could have written a book on just how hard it is to write a mystery. Through it all I was taking online writing classes, asking questions in chat rooms, lurking on listservs, trying to learn everything I could in the shortest possible time.

That book had more lives than a cat, with different titles, different characters, different plots and subplots. I think I ended up with nine or ten “final drafts,” each time thinking I finally got it right. Eventually I had to say, “Stick a fork in it, it’s done.”

But the end was not really the end. Seven years after I self-published the book as FULL CIRCLE, the editor/publisher of a new small press named Krill Press read the book, liked it, and wanted to republish it under a new name, with a new cover and a few minor changes. He offered me an advance, and I jumped at the chance to give the book a new life.

I made some changes, gave the book one more polishing, and it was reborn in 2008 as ABSINTHE OF MALICE. The Kindle version is going great guns. As of Nov. 10 it had sold 929 copies since August.

Please give readers a synopsis of the book.

(Insert maniacal laughter here.) I was so green it took me months to figure out what my book was about, even after it was first published. I didn’t know enough to boil it down to one sentence until I had done some presentations and listened to enough questions from potential readers.

Here’s the logline: “It’s just another Labor Day weekend in the small California town of Pearl until discovery of a skeleton in a cotton field leads to murder.” Fleshing it out brought in a whole town and a whole cast of characters. Two of my writer friends summarized it perfectly in their reviews:

Lorie Ham wrote: “Pat Browning does an excellent job of creating a town of people whose lives have been molded by their past and that of their ancestors.”

Beth Anderson said: “I have rarely read a mystery with such a profound sense of place. A beautifully crafted mystery intertwined with life in a small town as it really is.”

Where can readers get a copy and in what formats?

Any bookstore can order it, but it’s print on demand and I’ve heard they ask you to pay in advance, plus shipping charges. Krill Press will accept returns but bookstores don’t seem to know that. The easiest and quickest way to get it is to order it from or Barnes and Noble online.

It’s also available as an e-book on Kindle, and is being put on Nook even as we speak. Of course, you don’t even need a Kindle to download it from Amazon’s Kindle Store. You can download it to your PC or Mac. The software is free and takes only a few seconds to download.

You can read through almost to the very end on Google Books. They have a free “preview” feature, which I love, but in the case of ABSINTHE OF MALICE it makes me a little nervous. The AOM preview includes so many pages it almost tells you the whole story. My hope is that getting into it like that, getting to know the characters and the setting, will make you want to buy the book. The tiny url to the Google Books preview is:

Is there another book on the way?

Yes. ABSINTHE OF MALICE takes place over the Labor Day holiday, and METAPHOR FOR MURDER picks up the story during Christmas week. I’m halfway through with it. I just need to stay off the Internet long enough to finish it. Easier said than done!

Pat, you submitted recipes for the cookbook, Killer Recipes, which I compiled. Your Crabby Jambalaya is sensational. Is it a family favorite?

No, but back in my youthful, gourmet-cooking days it was a party favorite. Besides the taste, it’s such a beautiful dish. All you need is some French bread and a green salad and you have a very impressive meal. I had a New Orleans cookbook and tried every recipe in it.
Then I went through a period of a few years when I didn’t cook at all. Now that I’m living alone I’ve started cooking again. Back in the day I kept a pot simmering on the back burner for hours, but I discovered that a quick version of Jambalaya can be just as good as the old one. I make Crabby Jambalaya all the time. If I don’t have crab I use ham or chicken. The secret is a can or two of Ro*Tel tomatoes – original recipe, with green chilies.

Granted, it doesn’t take much time or effort to chop an onion and a green pepper and sauté them before adding regular chopped tomatoes, but Ro*Tel is spiced just right for my taste. Actually, there’s one more secret. I cook up a big pot of brown rice and store it in plastic containers in my fridge freezer. When it’s time to make Crabby Jambalaya I make chicken broth from granules, heat tomatoes and rice in the broth and add the shrimp (also from the fridge freezer). In a few minutes I have a scrumptious meal.

Where can we learn more about you?

My web site at Authors Den needs updating, but who has time? I also have a blog where I talk about everything from soup to nuts. I started the blog to remember where I've been and what I've done. Essentially it's a memoir in bits and pieces.

One more thing -- I encourage everyone to buy KILLER RECIPES. There’s a list of the recipes at – dozens of great recipes! Thank you so much, Susan, for letting me be a part of your project.

Yes, thanks for the plug. All proceeds from this particular cookbook go to cancer research in the hope that we can KILL cancer in our lifetime.     

Pat, it was my pleasure. Now I have to dash off and get my own copy of MALICE!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Unique Sister Team, K.M. Daughters

I'm delighted to have sister team, K.M. Daughters, here today. You gals, please tell us more.

We’re sisters and each other’s only siblings. We aspired to be published authors for many years, but we pursued the goal actively five years ago by joining Romance Writers of America. Attending RWA’s national conference, we decided to write together. About two and a half years later The Wild Rose Press “called us” and acquired two manuscripts on the same day, January 26, 2008. Since then we have released six award winning books in multiple romance sub-genres: Inspirational, Contemporary and Romantic Suspense.

What are your writing goals?

Our ultimate goal is to entertain Readers so much that they can’t wait to get their hands on another K.M. Daughters book.

Tell us about your latest book. Is it available in print and e-book formats?

Our latest book, ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND LAW, is available in paperback and e-book formats on December 10th. This is the 4th book in our Sullivan Boys romantic suspense series (our publisher’s – The Wild Rose Press – Men In Uniform Series). A newly appointed CPD Captain, Patrick (Pat) Sullivan; a notorious defense attorney, Charlotte (Charlie) DeMarco; and a brutal serial killer, feature in the story line. Both sides of the law collide as Patrick struggles to maintain his reputation as a law enforcer while Charlie seems determined to free the criminals Pat wants behind bars. Pat and Charlie’s love story is highly conflicted!

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? If so, in what way?

Yes, we do. A lot! Our treasured Editor for the Sullivan Boys books, Joelle Walker, recently confirmed that response after we asked her if she “liked” All’s Fair In Love And Law after her initial read through. Paraphrasing – she replied, yes sillies! Each installment instantly becomes my favorite. The writing is crisp, taught, clean, and the love scenes are more compelling – hotter. J She said if we didn’t believe her, we should go back and read our first submission.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

Our plot development technique is freeform during the initial development stage and entirely verbal. We start with two characters – hero and heroine - and create a basic plot premise. For example: an ambitious, duty-bound police captain is wildly attracted to a performer onstage at an amusement park musical show. She, however, is a hotshot defense attorney substituting in the show for her identical twin sister. Her day job, to which she is “golden handcuffed” to restore her family’s finances, involves dismantling every prosecution she opposes. Then we added a serial killer to the mix.

From there we discussed back-stories for our central characters, action sequences, plot twists and resolutions. When we think we’ve covered scene progressions sufficiently we write a chapters outline and then divide the writing responsibility evenly, alternating chapters.

Any current projects?

We’ll begin edits on the fifth and last installment in the Sullivan Boys Series very soon. We’re developing six shorter stories for White Rose Publishing that will compliment our two inspirational romances for that publisher. If contracted these will be released three per year over a two-year period. We plan to begin working on a single title concept this summer and will pursue partnering with a literary agent for this project.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

We cordially invite you to visit our website, and please fill out the little form to subscribe to our newsletter. We promise we won’t stuff your inbox. We email our newsletter sparingly to announce new releases, events and contests. We update our website monthly to post announcements and family photos. Also on the website, you’ll find book blurbs, excerpts, reviews and buy links for all our titles; recipes featured in our books and more about how two sisters decided to write as K (atherine) and M (ichael’s) Daughters.

It's been a pleasure to have you over.

Thank you so much for hosting us, Susan. Blessings!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Making Decisions About Publishing and Promoting

Many writers don't know where to turn on the issue of publishing. I have friends who've had a different publisher for every book, and friends who've published the entire series online or paid to have them published, and friends who were lucky enough to strike gold with a large publishing company.

Several frustrated author friends have asked my opinion about whether to just go ahead and pay to have them published, stick with a traditional publisher who isn't doing a darn thing to help them distribute or promote, or to try an array of different publishing options.

That's tough to answer. When I finally "completed" Genesis Beach, editing it over forty times and hiring a professional editor to make certain it was in great shape, I searched long and hard for an agent, and finally after a multitude of rejections with no explanation, paid to have it published. I believed in myself and my story. What I didn't realize (and nobody told me, not even the editor) was that I had used far too much passive voice in the book. You'd think as a former English teacher I'd have realized that, but I was so caught up in the story and my characters that somehow it never occurred to me. Living in a rural area with no other writers around and few folks I trusted willing to be readers, I did it alone for the most part. The nearest critique group (other than poets) was over an hour's ride away. 

The company I chose for Genesis Beach did a fine job and were great to work with. They listened to my concept for the cover but I eventually went with their idea as long as the cobalt blue remained and there was a navel orange on the cover somewhere. Genesis Beach, available in hardcover and paperback and eventually in digital, sold well and had I been able to get some respect at book stores, life would have been great. Unfortunately as soon as stores learned that I'd paid to have it published, they wrote me off as not worth their time, even the one and only bookstore in my home county! Frustration mounted because I was already deep into book two, Just North of Luck. 

After going through the same painful search and rejections, I decided to pay a different publisher who promised better distribution of my book. I pretty much told them exactly what I wanted the cover to look like. I was blown away with it and it got rave reviews and won awards. The book's construction was not quite as good as Genesis Beach but still a good quality paperback. Sales of Genesis Beach actually improved once Just North of Luck was released. Then came questions about why I had two different pubs. I'm still not sure how to answer that one except that I wanted to see if I could find something better. I didn't.

By the time Hell Swamp was ready to be queried, I had fans and allies who offered to tell their traditional publishers that I was a good writer. Wow! That's when I realized just how much networking and paying it forward works. I have to thank Sylvia Dickey Smith for reading Just North of Luck, doing a blurb, and recommending me to her publisher, L&L Dreamspell, who offered me a contract for Hell Swamp in fifteen days! That was awesome! Since that time, Dreamspell has also picked up Just North of Luck and made the cover even more eye-catching.

Sales again improved for Genesis Beach and Hell Swamp was doing great. Just North of Luck enjoyed a short spurt of success after the new release but soon floundered again. Some readers said it was "just too intense" for their liking. I have to admit it has a more than generous amount of graphic violence, something I never thought I'd write. But still, with a serial killer on the loose, it's difficult to gloss over what happens. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I was fortunate enough to have Dreamspell offer to publish my first cookbook, Killer Recipes, something I never expected to do, but Life has a way of taking us where we need to go, doesn't it? A multitude of you guys submitted wonderful recipes for a little free promotion, and we are donating the money to The American Cancer Society through our local Relay For Life events in hopes of killing cancer in our lifetimes. We have the largest Relay in North Carolina here in Wayne County. I'm so proud of that.

Sin Creek is now in Dreamspell hands but not yet released. I hoped to have copies for Christmas giving, but I'm sure the publishers are overwhelmed with their tremendous growth this year. If I lived in Houston, I'd gladly volunteer to help them just to learn the publisher's perspective. I'm sure it wouldy truly be eye-opening.

So, I've paid to have books published and I've been fortunate enough to sign a contract with a small but impressive publishing company that's going through growing pains.

 I have to emphasize that you as a writer hire a professional editor before your querying process begins. Yes, it will cost you, but it'll cost you more in the long run if you don't, because if readers don't like one of your books, they won't buy the rest. That still doesn't mean you'll sell a mountain of books. I have to admit here that I'm in the process of rewriting Genesis Beach because I feel that if it were better with more active voice perhaps more readers would buy the entire series. I've learned much since that book was released in 2007. It's time to make it right.  I hope that my present publisher will take an interest in it as well, and the entire Logan Hunter Mystery series would be under the same logo. There are differing opinions about whether that's a good thing. From my view, I like the convenience and de-cluttering of moving every book to the same publisher. How do you feel about that?

YOU must promote, promote, promote every way you can. The publisher will tell you upfront that it's primarily your responsibility. A small pub simply doesn't have the resources. Set up a blog if you haven't already. Invite people who can make a contribution to guest on your blog. Join Facebook. Some folks also like Twitter and other online social networks. is also a good site for writers and there are many more worthy sites out there. Set up a schedule so that you don't spend all writing time at online sites. Maybe check in a few times a week. I can't tell you how many wonderful friends I have met through those sites. I've had hundreds of guests on my blog and have been invited to guest on many in return. It's all free. Only takes a few minutes to set up or answer questions. Be sure to send your book cover images and your picture so people can identify you. Don't turn down any free opportunity to promote yourself, but be wary of folks who want to "help" you for a large fee. I'd be interested to know if you've found a great promoter who is reasonable in price with great results.

No, I don't have the answers. I think each of us has to look at our situation and make the best decisions we can about publishing. How do you make decisions about publishing and promoting?  All commenters will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of one of my books (your choice).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Surprise from Maggie Bishop

Fellow author and friend Maggie Bishop sent me this wonderful picture of her sitting by the fire with a copy of Just North of Luck. How wonderful! Maggie and I haven't met in person even though we both attended East Carolina University and both write mysteries. We hope to meet soon. Maggie, may you have a glorious Christmas and an outstanding New Year!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

L.J. Sellers: PASSIONS

My guest today is L.J. Sellers, discussing her books. L.J., congratulations on the new book, Passions. I've read it and it's awesome writing, like the rest of your books. Please give us a short synopsis of each of your books.

Hi, Susan. Thanks. These are the one-sentence blurbs I use on my website:

The Sex Club: A dead girl, a ticking bomb, a Bible study that’s not what it appears to be, and a detective who won’t give up.

Secrets to Die For: A brutal murder, a suspect with a strange story, a missing woman with secrets to hide—Can Jackson discover the truth in time to save her?

Thrilled to Death: Two missing women with nothing in common, a dead body, and a suspect who hasn’t left his house in a year—Jackson’s most puzzling cast yet.

Passions of the Dead: A murdered family, two addicted suspects, and a deadly home invasion lead Jackson on the most disturbing case of his career.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a fifth Jackson book. In this novel, I tell part of the story from the POV of Detective Lara Evans, one of Jackson’s taskforce members who has been present in all the other stories. I’m having fun developing this secondary character. I’m also outlining a thriller that features Lara Evans twenty years in the future. It’s unusual and interesting to write about the same person at two different points in her life and different times in our culture. I love futuristic thrillers, but this is the first time I’ve attempted to write one. You’ll notice, I said attempted.

Oh, goody! I love the Jackson series. Bring it on!

Your Lethal Three-Layer Fiesta Dip is in the Killer Recipes cookbook.* Did you create it or is it an old family recipe?

I wish I could say I created it, but I saw it in a magazine many years ago. It was probably the Parade magazine that comes with the newspaper because I don’t subscribe to any homemaker publications. I’m not very domestic and I don’t do any baking or knitting, but I do cook almost everything we eat from scratch. My extended family loves this dip, and they ask me to bring it to every potluck, so I make it frequently. I wouldn’t call it healthy, but it’s not a worst-case scenario either.

Do you have upcoming events you’d like to mention?

The fourth book in my Jackson series, Passions of the Dead, is being released late this year, so I’ll be hosting some local book signings as well guest blogging. I’m also doing a book giveaway on BookTrib in November, and I’ll be selling and signing at the Holiday Market in December. The market is usually a terrific event for me. Eugene crime fiction fans love my series, and they often turn out to buy a signed copy even if they’ve already read the e-book version. I also plan to attend Left Coast Crime in late March. It’s a fun conference, and I’m excited to see Santa Fe. The LA Times Book Festival is on my list for next year too. It should be a great selling event.

Where can folks learn more about you and the Jackson series?

My website is loaded with information. I have an extensive bio on my About page, tons of photos, PDFs of my journalism work, excerpts from all six of my novels, book discussion questions, and links to my guest blogs. I also have a weekly e-book giveaway on my website for my two standalone thrillers: The Baby Thief and The Suicide Effect.

Where can readers purchase books, and in what formats?

My books are available in trade paperback and e-book formats. Print copies can be ordered from Amazon or almost any local bookstore, and you can buy my e-books on just about any reader or tablet—Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, iPad, etc. The e-books are only $2.99, which readers think is a steal. The first book in the series, The Sex Club, is offered at a promotional price of $.99. I love that digital technology allows so many new readers to try my series at such a great price.

L.J., once again, it has been a pleasure. I'm truly a fan of your writing. Have a wonderful Christmas!

* Killer Recipes is a unique cookbook of recipes from mystery writers all over the country. I compiled the book and we're giving all proceeds to The American Cancer Society to help stomp out cancer in our lifetime. To purchase for yourself or for gifts, please head over to where you'll find Killer Recipes in print, ebook, and Kindle formats, in time for Christmas. Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Marilyn Gardiner: Mistletoe and Holly

Marilyn Gardiner, author of Mistletoe and Holly, is here to discuss her writing. Good morning, Marilyn. Please tell us what inspired Mistletoe and Holly.

Hello, Susan. I’d contracted with Wings for a three-book series, but when the third was published my publisher wanted a fourth to round out the four friends featured in the series. I’d always wanted to write a Christmas book anyway, and I agreed. Since books in a series need to come out every six months in order to keep them fresh in the reader’s mind, I had to write four books in two years. Usually it takes me a whole year to write one book, so this was a stretch. A friend’s daughter had just gone through a messy divorce where the children’s unreliable father, often on drugs, kept pressing for more visitation rights and privileges with the children, and the trauma she went through was uppermost in my mind. I decided to combine my favorite holiday with a painfully difficult issue – and wow! did I strike a nerve. I’ve heard from readers all over the states about their similar experiences. Series titles include: Dancing Ladies, Window on Windemere, Banjo Eyes and Mistletoe and Holly. I am extremely fortunate that all of them have won terrific reviews and several awards.

Congratulations! Could you give us a brief synopsis of Mistletoe and Holly?

I wanted, Bree, my heroine to struggle with a frightening issue and, at the same time, try to make a lovely Christmas memory for Becca, her small daughter. The traditional trappings of the holiday are thrown in to jeopardy when Bree is made the target of a stalker. She is terrified the culprit is her ex and that he wants even more than just their daughter. Ty, a childhood friend, is determined to convince Bree of his love and dependability, but due to her previous experience she’s wary of another relationship. When Becca goes missing on Christmas Eve, this precious holiday becomes a nightmare.

What other novels have you written?

Ten of my books are published by Wings e-Press. They all fall under the umbrella of romance, but they are each different. I have a paranormal, a contemporary, an historical, several suspense novels, an adventure, and an Inspirational. I’ve submitted three of them to Romantic Times and all three have been awarded four stars, which puts me next to Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz, and above Janet Dailey. A truly rarified atmosphere. My historical, Like A River, My Love, is about Verity’s trip down the Ohio River in 1778 with George Rogers Clark’s small army to capture Ft. Kaskaskia in the Illinois country. It was awarded one of those four stars I mentioned, and to date it remains my best seller.

I write every day except Sunday, but sometimes then too, if I have a deadline. A professional writer once said to me that nothing succeeds like the application of the seat of the pants to the chair. He (Paul Darcy Boles) said, “Write. Write. Write. In the teeth of the storm, by God, write.” And I do.

Where can we get these books and in what format?

All my books are detailed on my website: available in both download and POD. I also write daily devotions for Advent and Lent, which are very popular. My books can be found on my website (see above), on Wings website:, Amazon, and Fictionwise. Or, if you prefer, contact me at

I have two more books finished, but not yet sold. Thine Is The Kingdom is the story of one woman’s struggle to hold the family together when a mine waste dam breaks in W.VA and floods an entire valley. Families are torn apart, homes lost and lives will never be the same. Comanche Moon is the saga of the journey westward along the Oregon Trail. Jenny’s husband dies in a freak accident and she is left to cope alone with the hardships, illnesses, Indians and Eldon Hagemeyer who threatens the success of the entire train. When her small daughter is kidnapped by Indians, Jenny goes after her, along with the train’s guide, into Indian territory.

Your Grave Robber’s Coffee Mix, in Killer Recipes, is a favorite of mine. Thank you for submitting several recipes and for being part of the cookbook project to benefit cancer research. Do you have personal experience that prompted you to help?

Given the massive numbers of those who daily battle cancer, I’m not alone in having lost someone dear to the disease. Recently a very good friend—a writer friend—gave up the fight with cancer after several years of valiantly coping with a husband, children, illness, fear, treatment and trying to live a normal life. At my last mammogram (and I get them regularly), I asked the technician if it was my imagination, or the fact that with communication being so wide-spread today we hear about it more, but cancer seemed to be on the rise. She answered that indeed there were more cases every day, and the worst part was that no one knows why. Research seems to be the only way we’ll ever come to grips with this dreaded disease, and I am doing everything I can to hasten that day.

(All of Marilyn's recipes and those of dozens of other writers are in Killer Recipes, a perfect Christmas gift that keeps on giving. Proceeds from the book are donated to The American Cancer Society for research, and of course, the recipes are wonderful. Available at in print, ebook, and Kindle formats just in time for Christmas giving.)

Where can we learn more about you?

There is a bit more information on my website, but I can tell you now that my first office was my bed. I wrote under the covers, at night, by flashlight, and didn’t think anyone knew I harbored a consuming desire to write books. I’d walk the aisles of the tiny library in the small town where we lived, and put my finger between the books on the shelf where I was sure mine would one day live. I visited that library not long ago, and found that, sure enough, my books were exactly where I one day dreamed they’d be. What a good feeling! Where can you learn more about me? Write to me. I answer all my fan mail, and I’d love to hear from you.

From time to time I do a lot of public speaking. I go to libraries, civic meetings, both men and women’s groups, churches, anywhere they ask me, and I love to talk about my books and writing. A few weeks ago I spoke at a library in Mt. Zion, Illinois, and in a few days I’ll be speaking at yet another library—this one in Pana, Illinois. (And I sell books at all of them.) At this time of year I’m featuring Mistletoe and Holly as a possible stocking stuffer. The president of the local Rotary Club once said I was the best speaker he ever remembered listening to. And—here is a bonus. Recently, my minister-husband visited a parishioner in the hospital. Her roommate had, on her bedside table, one of my novels which she said the librarian had recommended as one she would like. These are the tidbits that make long hours at the computer, the neck and back aches, and late dinners all worth while.

Sometimes I think I write for my grandmother. In spite of only a 5th grade education, she was an avid reader. When I was about ten years old she told the entire family around the Sunday dinner table that one day I would write all the books she never could. Well, I have a twenty-four-year-old grandson who just sold his first poem. I can’t help thinking that one day he might write all the books I never could.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk to all of you. And, “write, write, write….”

Marilyn, thanks for taking the time to drop by. Now back to writing...and have a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kathleen Delaney's Murder for Dessert

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder for Dessert, has dropped by to answer a few questions. Welcome back to the blog, Kathleen.

What inspired Murder for Dessert?

I wrote the book while I was living in Paso Robles, CA., the central coast’s wine country. As a real estate broker, I had some experience in the wine business, representing both buyers and sellers in the sale and purchase of vineyards and wineries. Plus, my daughter managed all the special events for one of the area’s best known wineries and had arranged many “dinners with the wine maker.” They always seemed perfect to those attending them, but behind the scenes—well, things sometimes got a little hectic. That’s what got me started.

Who's your favorite character?

 That would have to be Ellen’s Aunt Mary. She’s a woman in her early seventies who manages all of the fund raisers for charity in their small town, her favorite is rummage sales. It pleases her to see all those items with perfectly good use left in them go to someone who can use them instead of ending up on the trash pile before their time. And if something doesn’t sell and it’s close to her size, well, it goes home with her. It makes for some strange outfits, but she’s oblivious to such petty details. She’s a warm, wise person without a shred of vanity

Please give readers a synoposis of the book.

Ellen McKenzie and her fiance’, Chief of Police Dan Dunham, are on their way to the very upscale Harvest Festival Dinner, hosted by Ellen’s niece, Sabrina and her husband, Mark Tortelli. They are seasoned winery professionals. What could go wrong?

New to Silver Springs Winery, the Tortellis have been worried for weeks that their jobs depend on the success of this event, and the reputation of the guest chef hasn’t helped calm their nerves. Otto Messinger is noted for his temper tantrums. Ellen is hoping he’ll keep himself in check. Dan is hoping the Tortellis, who have been staying with Ellen for a month, will triumph and soon find their own place to live.

Tonight’s guest list seems to include everyone who has ever had a feud with Otto, a fact the chef is thoroughly enjoying. The dinner progresses, a little shaky but without disaster.

Then it’s time for dessert. But where is Otto?

Are you writing another book?

Murder Half Baked is the next book in the Ellen McKenzie series. It is scheduled to be released late this spring. This time, Ellen and Dan are to be married on New Years Eve and Ellen is overwhelmed with wedding invitations, guests arriving for Christmas and staying over for the wedding, a gift of a wedding cake Ellen hates, and a new real estate client. Grace House, a home for troubled women, needs a larger facility and Aunt Mary volunteers Ellen’s services to get the old one sold and find them a new one. Ellen reluctantly agrees, but then the elderly doctor who tends to the Grace House residents is found beaten to death in the cemetery and all clues seem to point to someone connected to Grace House itself. Only the house burns down and all its residents come to stay with Ellen and Dan. Is one of them a murderer? Will her house be burned down as well? Most importantly, will all of Grace House residents still be with her on her wedding day? Ellen needs to help Dan solve this one, and fast.

And Murder for Dessert is available on Amazon, through Poisoned Pen Press, and by special order through most book stores. Unfortunately, or fortunately, most independent bookstores are sold out. It is, however, up on Kindle. The first two Ellen McKenzie books, Dying For A Change and Give First Place to Murder are available through my web site and will also be up on Kindle by the end of this month. I will post the release date of Murder Half Baked just as soon as I get it, but it will be late spring, early summer. Check the website often.

Speaking of dessert, you submitted Old fashioned Applesauce Cake for the Killer Recipes book, a project that benefits cancer research. Tell us about it.

It truly is an old recipe. My mother made it when I was growing up and I made it for my children as well. It’s a great snacking cake, goes into lunch boxes or on picnics easily, and can be made with wheat or unbleached flour. I was delighted to contribute it to your wonderful cookbook. It especially pleases me that the proceeds go to fight cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, it is a cause dear to my heart.

Got events coming up?

The next event will be in February, at Cape Fear in Wilmington, NC. I will be on a couple of panels and will have books available for purchase.

I'm planning to attend as well. I'll look forward to seeing you.
You can learn more about me by visiting my web site I will be making changes to it in the near future, one of which will be the posting of a new short story or article once a month. The first one will be up the beginning of December and is entitled “Fire” a spooky little tale that came to me while I was driving down the side of a mountain that had recently burned. I’d love to have people visit and always encourage comments. I also blog with Creatures and Crooks and have a new one up. Check it out.

Thank you, Susan, for this interview. The questions have been great and fun to answer.

Nice to have you back, Kathleen. I'll see you at Cape Fear Crime Festival! Folks, Kathleen's books and Killer Recipes would both make excellent gifts. Remember that proceeds from the cookbook are donated to The American Cancer Society to help kill cancer in our life time. Have a Merry CHRISTmas and a wonderful New Year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ernesto Patino's Web of Secrets

Ernesto Patino is today's guest. Ernie, congratulations on the success of Web of Secrets. Please tell us what the novel is about.

My novel is about a young woman who is being blackmailed. Someone is threatening to reveal some shocking facts about her birth parents and her illegal adoption thirty years ago. It is a story of bigotry, intrigue and murder.

What was your inspiration for the book?

The inspiration to write the book came from my niece who was adopted. She was in her early thirties when she decided to look for her birth parents. She kept me apprised throughout the entire process, and I knew that someday I would write a story about adoptions.

You submitted recipes for the cookbook, Killer Recipes, a project that benefits cancer research. What's the backstory for Tortured Tortillas and Eggs?

Tortured Tortillas and Eggs is a dish that my mother would make at least once a week. It is easy to prepare, with few ingredients but very tasty, especially if you like Mexican food. For me, it is comfort food that brings back wonderful memories of my childhood and especially of my mother.

Are you writing another book? If so, tell us about it.

My latest book is a mystery titled The Last of the Good Guys, soon to be released by L&L Dreamspell. Like Web of Secrets, the story is set in South Florida where I lived for over tweny years. Many of the characters are based loosely on people I met during the course of my life as an FBI agent and private investigator. I also just completed a novel titled One Last Dance, which I am currently editing. It is a love story set in the world of ballroom dancing. I am a ballroom dancer and had great fun writing it.

Do you have any events you want to mention?

I gave a workshop for mystery writers on November 13th from 2-4:30 p.m at Clues Unlimited in Tucson, Arizona. I promoted my novel, Web of Secrets as well as the recent cookbook, Killer Recipes. I am also scheduled to give a workshop on March 12, 2011 at the Tucson Festival of Books. The workshop is titled Truths & Myths about Private Investigators - Creating Believeable P.I. Characters.
Where can we learn more about you?

For information visit my website:

Thanks for dropping by, Ernie.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Harol Marshall's Holy Death

My guest today is Harol Marshall. Welcome, Harol.
Who is Harol Marshall?

I have a PhD in anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh, and spent twenty years in academia where I wrote numerous articles and research proposals that brought in over $7M to my university. I’ve been writing fiction for four years and in that time have produced five novels and over thirty short stories. My most recent novel (a political thriller written under a different pen name), was a finalist in the Don Knotts Silver Bullet Award contest this past summer. I have two published mystery novels: A Corpse for Cuamantla, and Holy Death. Two of my short stories published this year (neither are mysteries) include: Growing Up With Pigs on page 72 of the January issue of Southern Women’s Review
(, and Our New Thing, in the Oct. 1 issue of The Cynic Online Magazine ( I’m awaiting publication of two other completed novels (sequels to the first two), titled: Unholy Death, and A Corpse for the Matadora. I conducted field research in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala, the setting for my Corpse series. I grew up in New York State, but now live in Greensboro, North Carolina with my physicist husband, four cats, and an overflowing garden.

What or who inspired you to write?

My love of reading began when my middle school librarian introduced me to Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason novels. Both my parents were avid readers and I come from a story telling family. My father, the Deputy Chief of Police in my hometown, entertained us daily with stories of life on the force, and my British mother introduced me to English cozies. I’ve wanted to write since high school where I had a great English teacher, and for a while I majored in English in college. Despite changing majors in order to become more employable, I credit my Freshman English professor (Wild Bill Wylie, who loved my short stories) for inspiring me to write.

Tell us a little bit about Holy Death and A Corpse for Cuamantla.

Holy Death is the first novel in a series about Private Investigator Pauline (Polly) Isabel Berger and her ex-husband, Hollywood Detective Johnny Birdwhistle. When Polly decides on a new career as a Private Investigator, she envisions her days spent trailing two-timing husbands and wives around Hollywood. Instead, Cinda Mae Bradbury, a local stripper, hires Polly to find out who poisoned her boyfriend at the last two Santa Muerte Sunday masses. Polly knows about the Santa Muerte (Holy Death or Saint Death) cult, a Mexican spin-off of Catholicism, but doubts Cinda Mae's conclusion that Saint Death is trying to kill her good-looking boyfriend in order to sleep with him in heaven. Polly's investigation spirals out of control as she works on the murder case with her ex, Johnny Birdwhistle, a detective third grade in the Hollywood Police Department.

A Corpse for Cuamantla is the first in a series of mysteries set in central Mexico. American antrhopologist Anna Merino travels to the State of Tlaxcala to carry out field research for her PhD dissertation. Living alone in her advisor's fieldwork house and adjusting to the culture and language take their toll. The stress and intrigue ratchet up when Anna finds herself involved in a murder by inadvertently filming the murderer while documenting the village of Cuamantla's Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Knowing her life is in danger if the murderer realizes she holds the key to his identity, Anna enlists the help of two attractive men who eventually become rivals for her affection--Commander José Cortez, Head of the Homicide Division of the Tlaxcala State Police, and Miguel Menéndez, Director of the Primary School Anna is in Mexico to study.

Do you have a favorite character that you can tell us more about?

Of course! My two favorites (one from each book) are P.I. Polly Berger. She’s so the opposite of me – brash, outspoken, and very quirky (as are all the characters in the Holy Death books). And she has a real smart mouth. I get a kick out of her. As for the Mexico series, my husband claims I’m in love with Commander Cortez and maybe I am. What’s not to love about the guy?

Are you currently writing another book?

I’m currently about 20,000 words into the third Mexico novel, A Corpse for Cortez. In this book, I’ve sent Anna back to the States to defend her dissertation, and I’m not quite sure at what point I’m bringing her back to Mexico. We’ll see. I kind of like having Cortez to myself. J In addition, I’m working on formatting my first two books for Kindle.

Where can readers purchase your books?

Online at Amazon, or from my website (for signed copies), or they can be ordered through any bookstore. I’m hoping to have them available on Kindle (for $2.99) by mid-December.

Where can we learn more about you?

On my website: .

You submitted a recipe for my cookbook, Killer Recipes, called Flipped-Out Adirondack Flapjacks. I can hardly wait to try it. Is it a family recipe?

Yes, it is a family recipe. I grew up in upstate New York and we vacationed in the Adirondacks. One summer, my father came across a local cookbook with this recipe and we all loved it. It’s from the Mirror Lake Inn on Lake Placid and the secret to the deliciously light pancakes is to separate the eggs, beat the whites stiff and fold into a thin batter. If you’re using a pancake mix instead, add a tad more milk and an extra egg (separated and beaten).

Since all proceeds from Killer Recipes sales are donated to cancer research, do you have a personal reason for helping with the project?

I do have a personal reason for helping with this project. My mother died of cancer at the age of 83, after having fought off several bouts of various cancers beginning at the age of 29. I appreciate the work you put into this book for a very good cause. And thanks for the interview! It was fun.

Harol, it was a pleasure. I didn't realize you also earned a doctorate. I hope to see you at Cape Fear Crime Festival in Wilmington in February.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Paws-itively Cindy Reynders

Cindy lives in Cheyenne, Wyo. with her husband Rich and her little dog, Ewok. She is a marketing specialist for Laramie County School District 1. She also writes feature articles for the Public Schools Chronicle. She loves to travel, and visited the western Caribbean this past summer. Her favorite part of the entire trip was climbing to the top of the sun temple at the Altun Ha Mayan ruins in Belize, Mexico. Currently, she's hard at work on a new mystery.

Welcome, Cindy. Tell us what inspired your writing.

Inspiration for the first book I ever wrote came after reading a book written by one of my favorite writers. For some crazy reason, I thought to myself, 'Self, I could surely write just as good.' Hah! About a gazillion words and many manuscripts later, my first book, The Saucy Lucy Murders, was accepted for publication.

What's the series about?
The Saucy Lucy series is about two sisters who live in the small, fictional town of Moose Creek Junction, Wyoming. They own a cafe called, The Saucy Lucy Cafe and their family dynamics add a fun flair to the amateur crime-solving sleuth's escapades.

The Saucy Lucy Murders centers around Lucy's attempts to encourage her sister, Lexie, to back into the dating world again after a divorce. Unfortunately, all of Lexie's dates wind up six feet under, and the sisters strike out on their own to try and track down the murderer. In Paws-itively Guilty, Lurch, the giant stray mutt, joins the sisters when they attempt to solve the murder of their neighbor, who they find buried in her rose garden.

You submitted Paws-itively Guilty Goulash for Killer Recipes, a cookbook with proceeds going to cancer research. Tell us about that.
Paws-itively Guilty Goulash is a family recipe. It comes from my husband's aunt, who came up with the dish during the lean years of the 1940s when families had to make do with what they had because of rationing. It's tasty, and very simple to make!

Where can folks learn more about you and purchase your books?
Both of my books are available at and Barnes and Noble. Print and ebook versions are available.

Right now I'm in writing mode, so I don't have any events planned. If anyone would like to read more about me and my books, my website is I can be e-mailed through the website as well, and I love to visit with readers.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Penny Rudolph's Eye of the Mountain God

Penny Rudolph’s latest book, a contemporary thriller set in northern New Mexico, was released in April by St. Martin’s Press. The publisher describes Eye of the Mountain God as: An explosive combination... A woman who finds five emerald arrowheads wrapped in her newspaper, an autistic child who knows the unknowable, and a man who applauded the events of 9/11 and is determined to become the American Che Guevera. Two-time Edgar Award-winner Warren Murphy, calls this book, “An exciting thriller with a Southwestern flavor...(that) combines elements of Rudolfo Anaya’s and Tony Hillerman’s novels.”

Rudolph’s earlier mystery/thrillers include the historical Listen to the Mockingbird set in New Mexico during the Civil War, the contemporary Thicker Than Blood about California water politics, and its medical thriller sequel Lifeblood, both set in downtown Los Angeles.

She has worked as a bartender, truck driver, chile picker, musician, science writer, and medical writer. In her work as a journalist she has watched open-heart surgery, talked to ranchers about cattle breeding, and interviewed NASA scientists about Saturn. She’s also made the rounds with a game warden, interviewed opera stars and Apache hunters, worked with archeologists, and watched the making of steel. She has taught journalism at New Mexico State University and won more than 50 national writing/editing awards, including an Eppie and an International Gold Quill. She lives in Albuquerque.
Book excerpts are available at

Welcome, Penny. It's a pleasure to have you here.
What was your inspiration for each of your novels?

Thanks, Susan. Eye of the Mountain God: There really is a documented tale of five emerald arrowheads revealed by the Pima Indians when the Spaniards first entered what is now southwestern New Mexico in the 1530s. The story is linked to the Spaniards’ search for the mythic seven cities of Cibola. The emeralds may have been used to lure them away.

Listen to the Mockingbird: I read an interesting account of the experiences of a woman who came to New Mexico as an Army wife during the Civil War. Soon after that reading, I happened across an old grave in southern New Mexico. The stone read: She owned a ranch and held up a stagecoach. And for whatever reason, I wanted to combine the two real women into a fictional one and tell her story.

Thicker Than Blood: I worked for years for a large water agency in Los Angeles and I’d been looking for a way to shape a story about California’s water wars. One day I was waiting in a large indoor parking lot in Maryland for a friend. Bored, I rifled through a small publication I found in the parking lot office. It included a bio and photo of the lot’s owner, a woman, and an attractive one at that. I began to wonder what if the head of a water agency was killed by a company car in a hit-and-run......

Lifeblood: I had never considered writing anything but stand-alones, but my editor wanted a sequel to Thicker Than Blood. This is a good incentive to start looking around for some stray inspiration. When I realized that the other half of my years in Los Angeles was as a medical writer, I was on my way.

Please give us a short synopsis of each one.

Eye of the Mountain God
St. Martin’s Press
ISBN 0-312-54546-0 Hardcover $24.95
An explosive mix: A woman who finds five emerald arrowheads inside her morning newspaper, an autistic child who knows the unknowable, and a man intent on becoming the American Che Guevara.

Listen to the Mockingbird
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN 1-59058-348-5 Trade Paperback $14.95

Award-winning historical and somewhat feminist mystery/thriller: The Civil War in New Mexico, murder, a lost gold mine, and one woman's compelling secret—Matty Summerhayes is a rancher determined to conceal her past. A stranger carrying a baffling map is murdered, Texans invade her valley, and soon disaster is stalking her.

Thicker Than Blood
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN 1-59058-366-1 Trade Paperback $14.95
ISBN 1-59058-148-2 Hardcover $24.95
ISBN 1-59058-163-6 Large Print Trade Paperback $22.95

Recovering alcoholic Rachel Chavez owns a parking garage in downtown Los Angeles. One smoggy morning she changes a tire for the head of a water agency. Before the day is out, he’s killed by a hit-and-run driver, Rachel spots blood on a water agency fleet car in her garage, and within days she’s caught in the cross-fire of California water politics.

ISBN 1-59058-346-9 Hardcover $24.95
ISBN 1-59058-347-7 Large Print Trade Paperback $22.95

Recovering alcoholic Rachel Chavez owns a parking garage in downtown LA. She discovers two unconscious Mexican boys locked in a van and rushes them to the hospital, but when she checks back, there's no record of either child.

Where can we get these books and in what formats?

All my books are still in print. Mountain God is the latest, released April 2010. They’re available from bookstores, from libraries, from online booksellers. In addition to the formats I’ve listed above, I think all are now available in several ebook formats, including Amazon’s Kindle.

Congratulations on your award-winning Listen to the Mockingbird. To what do you owe your success?

To a huge lot of very hard work and an equal amount of stubborn determination. Someone once described it as staring at a computer screen until beads of blood break out on one’s forehead.

Do you have favorite characters you can tell us about? Are they based on real people?

I guess all my main characters are part real people, sometimes a combination of two or three real people, shaken up, tossed about, and fictionalized. For one thing, I’ve enjoyed killing several former bosses, and turning another into a bag lady. For me, a story is always character driven. I’ve even enjoyed some of my minor characters, too. In Mountain God, A red-headed Hispanic woman who has a gift for ESP and a tendency toward colorful cursing. Also an 80-something woman artist living in a cabin she built to homestead after World War II when she gave up a less-than-laudable career in San Francisco. In Mockingbird, a clever black woman, a freed slave, with a strong sense of what is proper, and a flair for humor. There are more, but this is getting too long.

Are you currently writing another novel? If so, when can we expect its release?

Yes, I’m working on a manuscript tentatively titled The Girl in the Yellow Dress about a nurse practitioner in rural northern New Mexico accused of killing a young girl. But I’ve got to admit I have no idea when I’ll finish it because I’m now distracted by a couple more ideas I want to pursue in the historical genre.

Do you have upcoming events you can mention?

February 19, 2011 I’ll be at the Moriarty, NM Civic Center at a literacy event sponsored by the local library. I love small towns, and I love libraries.

How do you promote?

My favorite way, since I was a teacher, is giving short workshops.

Want to try  Penny's great recipes? Purchase Killer Recipes at Amazon in print, ebook, or Kindle formats. It's a fun cookbook chocked full of wonderful recipes from writers all over the country and a few from Canada. Proceeds go to The American Cancer Society research projects to end cancer in our lifetime.

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Interview with Susanne Marie Knight

My guest today is author, Susanne Marie Knight.

Susanne, thanks for dropping by at this busy time of year. Congratulations on the success of Grave Future. Please give us a synopsis of the book.

Thank you, Susan! Here’s some background on Grave Future’s interesting history. This paranormal romantic suspense was first conceived for a publishing line that had the theme: Is he going to kiss her or kill her? In other words, the hero was to be mysterious--maybe good, maybe bad. The publishing line folded before Grave Future had a chance to be published. Then Dreams Unlimited acquired the book, and it gained best-seller status. Unfortunately that publisher went out of business, but Grave Future was soon picked up by LTDBooks. Again, my paranormal romantic suspense was on a best-seller list. But this publisher also closed its doors. Awe-Struck Publishing now features Grave Future where I hope it will have a permanent home!

You can't keep a good book down!

In writing Grave Future’s story, I used some of my experiences working for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to enhance the book. I also worked at a federal correctional facility, where my training on how to use firearms came in handy! As for the storyline, I actually did get lost in the Poconos looking for a friend’s summer home, and the car was in fact, a yellow Triumph. My tiny car, unlike Jocelyn’s, fortunately survived the trip.

I can understand getting lost in the Poconos. I've done it in the rain.

Here’s Grave Future’s blurb:

* An innocent tourist dragged into a murder mystery featuring a Shakespeare-quoting ghost.

* A federal agent haunted by his desire to bring his cousin’s killer to justice.
When Jocelyn Hunter is stranded in an isolated cabin with an antagonistic stranger, she has no idea of the danger that awaits her. Fearing for her life, she resists her attraction to Dan Ferguson, even as she learns of the unlikely connection between a ghostly light and Dan’s unwavering obsession.
At first consumed with the desire to bring his cousin’s murderer to justice, federal agent Dan Ferguson sets aside his suspicion of the lovely Jocelyn. Soon, he is worrying about her safety, and grows to love her independent ways.

Jocelyn and Dan must overcome their differences and join forces to battle a desperate drug trafficker. Hanging in the balance are their very lives--their very future.

I think I'd fall in love with a ghost who quotes Shakepeare.

Who are the pivotal characters in the book and why?

The cast includes, Jocelyn Hunter--the unsuspecting tourist. Dan Ferguson--federal agent intent on bringing Perry Lyman to justice. Perry Lyman -- can he really be a drug trafficker? Velma Lyman -- Perry’s sister... and girlfriend of Ned Ferguson. Velma and Ned’s connection doesn’t fade with his death.

Will there be a sequel to Grave Future?

As it stands now, I don’t have plans for a sequel to Grave Future. But, never say never! :))

Do you have events planned for the holiday season?

This year we’re staying close to home and will celebrate with food, family, and friends. We have special recipes (kind of like those in the Killer Recipe collection!) that we like to share with our loved ones. Christmas music, games, and good conversation are also on the agenda, along with a few movie versions of A Christmas Carol. After a hectic year, it’s good to kick back and relax!

Where can readers learn more about you and your writing?

For information about me and my books, please visit my website at, and also blog I also have a newsletter and newsflash you can subscribe to. Just email: newsletter AT susanneknight DOT com!

You submitted recipes for the cookbook, Killer Recipes. I have made the Murderous Sour Cream Muffins and they're delicious! What other recipes did you submit, and why? Do any of them hold a special memory?

I’m so glad you enjoyed the Murderous Muffins, Susan! They’re a favorite at my house, too. And thanks so much for creating your marvelous Killer Recipes cookbook, with all its proceeds donated to the American Cancer Society. When I posted this info about the cookbook on my Facebook page, it got lots of interest!

Yes, I submitted four other recipes, all based on my mystery novels. For Tainted Tea For Two, there is the Tainted Tea Mix--another family favorite in the summertime. Feisty Mandarin Chicken Salad is based on my paranormal mystery, Competitors! This is a very easy recipe, and is also perfect for hot weather. Then there’s Dangerous Diner’s Chili, from The Wakefield Disturbance. This chili can hold its own in a chili cook-off... especially if more hot sauce is added!! And last, but definitely not least is the ever-popular Murder By Potato, also from Tainted Tea For Two. I love this one because it’s no muss, no fuss--just wrap the ingredients in foil and bake.

Susanne, I have enjoyed having you here. Please come again.

Thank you, Susan, for this wonderful opportunity to connect with your readers! Happy holidays to everyone!!

To you and yours as well. Here's the Tainted Tea Mix ( not really tainted!):

Tainted Tea Mix


2 cups instant orange drink mix
1/2 cup strawberry lemonade mix
1 cup diet lemon iced tea mix
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pour ingredients into bowl and stir. Store in tightly covered container.

To serve, place 1 tablespoon of mixture into cup, fill with boiling water, and enjoy! Serves approximately 56.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Carolyn J. Rose Visits

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She teaches novel-writing in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.
She is the author of Hemlock Lake, Consulted to Death, Driven to Death, and Dated to Death, and the co-author of Sometimes a Great Commotion, The Big Grabowski, The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, and The Hermit of Humbug Mountain.

Welcome, Carolyn. What was your inspiration for Hemlock Lake?

Growing up in the Catskills in the 1950’s, I was aware of the differences—real and perceived—between those whose families had been there for generations, and those who came for weekends or summers, or had recently moved to the area. Some accepted the differences and some didn’t want the world to change. Some felt resentful and challenged. I brought that forward 40 years and used it as the fuse that set off a string of arson fires and murders.

Please give us a synopsis.

For generations only a few families held title to land in the isolated Catskill Mountain community of Hemlock Lake. But with the turning of the century one man, lured by easy money, sells his inheritance to a developer of luxury homes. As the contractor bulldozes farmland and forest, neighbors cry environmental rape, and someone threatens to burn what is built.

Hoping to stop the arsonist, but tormented by personal demons, Sergeant Dan Stone reluctantly returns to his family home on the shores of the lake. The previous autumn his wife died in its dark waters and his brother put a bullet in his brain. That tragedy sent Dan’s father drifting toward death.

Isolated by his pain, Dan is thrust into the no man’s land between newcomers and longtime residents who stonewall his investigation into threats, graffiti, theft, and a blaze that nearly kills the construction foreman. Townspeople blame outsiders, eco-terrorists, a ragged tramp haunting the woods, and the mysterious creator of rock cairns that often mark the sites of crimes to come. But as summer sizzles on, the arsonist turns killer, and Dan suspects it’s someone he knows well: a firefighter, a friend, or a woman with a killing in her past.

You co-wrote The Big Grabowski and Sometimes a Great Commotion. Please tell us about your co-author and the books.

My co-author is my husband, Mike Nettleton. We’ve been together since 1984 and have co-authored five books. He’s a great “idea man” and I’m a disciplined Virgo, so it works pretty well most of the time. When we have creative differences we put that part of the manuscript aside for a time and then make our best cases. I usually win because he usually gives in.

We came up with the idea for a series of books set in the fictional town of Devil’s Harbor, Oregon about ten years ago and because environmentalism is a key to what makes Oregon, we use that as the foundation for the plots. To give readers the feeling of actually living there, we created at least 16 point-of-view characters for each book, and we made many of them eccentric, quirky, or delusional in one way or another. We set out to skewer everyone and everything in what we think of as satire with a bit dose of silly.

In The Big Grabowski we kill off an unscrupulous developer before the book begins. He’s the perfect murder-mystery victim because everyone wanted to kill him. That makes solving the case really tough for Sergeant Greg Erdman. And that gives our reporter sleuth, Molly Donovan, a chance to get to the truth first.

Sometimes a Great Commotion begins with the town thrown into turmoil over water restrictions imposed in order to keep the sewer system from overflowing and triggering a huge fine. The only way to raise money to fix the problem is to log the town trust land, but a tree-sitter for hire blocks the saws. Then an image appears in a scorched crab cake and thousands of pilgrims flock to see it. In the midst of that chaos, the tree sitter winds up dead. Again, there are plenty of suspects and Molly and Greg compete to solve the crime.

Where can readers purchase these books?

Ask your local bookstore to order them or get them on-line. They’re available in print and as Kindles.

Do you have upcoming events you'd like to mention?

We were at the Southern Oregon Writers’ Fair in Ashland on November 20.

And as soon as have word about whether they’ll rebuild or relocate, we hope to have an event to help out Cover to Cover Books in Vancouver, Washington. The store suffered extensive smoke damage a few weeks ago when a fire broke out in the restaurant next door.

You submitted several recipes for my Killer Recipes cookbook (proceeds going to ACS). I particularly like the Mushrooms To Die For. Is that a family recipe? 

No. I got the basic idea from a college roommate and tinkered with it over the years. I don’t make them often because I can eat a dozen at a time. That makes my fat cells very happy, but it also makes it tough to button my jeans.
And I want to say again that I was thrilled to be included in this book. It’s a terrific idea to support a very worthy cause.

It was an honor to have you and Mike as contributors, Carolyn.

Do you have a book in the works?

After years of thinking there was no sequel, I’m 240 pages into a second book set in the community of Hemlock Lake. It involves most of the same characters—but a few won’t survive.
Mike and I are also planning the third Devil’s Harbor mystery. It centers on a reality show being shot in town and, of course, a murder.

Where can folks learn more about you?

Visit my website; Or catch up with me when I’m a guest blogger.

For Carolyn's Mushrooms To Die For, pick up a few copies of Killer Recipes and feast on these yummies during the holiday season. Killer Recipes is available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats at

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winner of free book

Congratulations to Katsrus for winning a free copy of Genesis Beach while blog jogging last Sunday. Thanks to all who dropped by and participated. Please visit often.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blog Jog Day

I am delighted to be part of Carol Denbow's Blog Jog Day again this year.

Please explore all my blog has to offer, including information about Killer Recipes, a cookbook with proceeds donated to cancer research, and intriguing author interviews.

Sin Creek, my fourth Logan Hunter Mystery, will be out in a few days. Here's a teaser:

The Cape Fear River snakes through eastern North Carolina past the stunning port city of Wilmington, and sidling up next to it is Gator Creek. Some call it “Sin Creek”, a sliver of water where wickedness and decadence take precedence over decency.

To win a free copy of Genesis Beach, my first mystery,  leave a comment and your name goes in the basket.

Good luck! Then jog on over to “The writings & ramblings of a Philadelphian”

If you would like to visit a different Blog in the jog, go to

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Please come back often!