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.