The Detective’s Daughter – Beaches

Kim in Baltimore enjoying the summer weather.

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Summer is my favorite season. That’s right, I enjoy the heat, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the sunny mornings spent strolling through the farmer’s market choosing the freshest vegetables, and lazily reading in my yard in a lawn chair listening as the ice-cream truck drives by with its music and bells chiming. But most of all I love the beach. FullSizeRender_1

From the first summer of my life until I was twelve years old, my family spent our summers on the shores of New Jersey in Atlantic City. My mom would take us out onto the beach in the morning and our afternoons were spent visiting the shops along the boardwalk. Pop-Pop was never far behind, trailing after us to be sure we were safe. We had our own security detail!

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Once, Pop-Pop spent an entire morning searching the beach for a tooth my sister lost. He was more upset than she was when he came back empty-handed. In the evening we went to the Steel Pier to see the diving horses and listen to music.FullSizeRender_2

 

Family vacations have always been important to me. I have carried on the tradition of going to the beach. Each year since my children have been born we have traveled, even if only for the weekend, to the beach. Living in Baltimore, we are fortunate to be within a three hour drive to beaches in Delaware and New Jersey as well as Maryland. I was not able to contain myself to the east coast, though, and have taken my family – by train – to beaches in Chicago and San Francisco as well. We have visited as far south as  Cocoa Beach and Miami Beach and went up north to Old Orchard Beach in Maine.

 

FullSizeRender_3However many beaches I’ve visited, Rehoboth Beach has become my favorite place to relax. I love the bookstore and the coffee shops and the easy living of the place. You’ll find me there at least one weekend a month during summer. I think I may need to go there now!

 

 

 

Dear Reader,

Do you enjoy the beach? What is your favorite thing to do during the summer months?

 

 

Beach Bound

Jessie: In Maine preparing for another trip!

puerto-rico-3400019_1920By the time this post goes live I will be well on my way to the beach. Not the sugar fine sand of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, my usual summer haunt but rather the balmy waters of San Juan, Puerto Rico. My beloved husband has a business trip to the island and kindly invited me to join him.

It is a bit of a last minute trip and I had to scramble a bit more than usual to prepare. I decided to channel one of the sleuths from my lastest series and throw myself into the adventure with Beryl Helliwell’s spirit of unrelenting spontinaity. I picked up a new sundress and a lightweight white shirt to be better prepared for a far more tropical climate than is found on the coast of Maine, even at the height of summer.

This morning I stocked the fridge for our house-sitters and briefed them on the proper care of my garden and window boxes. I ran a quick load of laundry and made a quick packing list. I filled my favorite fountain pen with ink and tucked it, along with my current notebook and my iPad into a safe spot in my travel bag.

What I haven’t done is look for things to do other than strolling the beach or exploring the streets of Old San Juan. As much as I am someone who loves to travel, I admit, Puerto Rico had not been on my radar and I feel slightly ill-prepared. Usually some weeks before a trip to a new destination I will start following businesses, tourist organizations, places of interest and locals on Instagram. I download apps for my phone of local points of interest, metro maps, public transportation etc… Since I almost always travel with only a small backpack I ruthlessly plan what to pack well ahead of time.

So, dear readers, I turn to you. Have any of you been to San Juan? To other points of interest in Puerto Rico? Do you have any suggestions about places or experiences not to be missed? Any restaurants to die for? Any museums or cultural activities to be sure to see/ participate in? Any and all recommendations would be appreciated!

Readers, have you been to Puerto Rico? D you like to go off on last minute trips or are you more of a planner? I will send one commenter an ARC of my next Beryl and Edwina mystery, Murder Flies the Coop!

 

Mary Feliz: Making a Memorable Entrance

News Flash: Celia Fowler is Mary’s winner. Celia, please check your email, and congratulations!

Edith here, enjoying summer north of Boston! I’m happy to welcome friend Mary FelizFELIZ BLOG #1 Disorderly Conduct (4) to the Wickeds today. Her latest book in the Maggie McDonald Mysteries just came out. I love this series about a professional organizer and can’t wait to read Disorderly Conduct. Here’s the blurb:

Professional organizer Maggie McDonald balances a fastidious career with friends, family, and a spunky Golden Retriever. But add a fiery murder mystery to the mix, and Maggie wonders if she’s found a mess even she can’t tidy up . . .

With a devastating wildfire spreading to Silicon Valley, Maggie preps her family for evacuation. The heat rises when firefighters discover a dead body belonging to the husband of Maggie’s best friend Tess Olmos. Tess becomes the prime suspect in what’s shaping up to become a double murder case. Determined to set the record straight, Maggie sorts through clues in an investigation more dangerous than the flames approaching her home. When her own loved ones are threatened, can she catch the meticulous killer before everything falls apart?

Mary will give a paper copy of Disorderly Conduct to one US commenter, and if you’re selected and are outside the United States, she’ll send a download for the e-reader of your choice!

Secondary Characters

Secondary characters nearly always threaten to take over a book, and a savvy writer  reins them in a bit to avoid overshadowing other important story elements.

But no two side-kicks have been harder to stifle than Tess and Patrick Olmos, who play a big role in my Maggie McDonald mystery series, particularly in the recently released Disorderly Conduct. While their backstory isn’t included in any of the books, I wanted to share it here, with the Wickeds who share some of the couple’s madcap, over-the-top originality.

Tess and Patrick’s unique relationship began the day Patrick ran his car off the road, into Tess’s family’s living room, and into her heart. With a flair for the dramatic herself, Tess was immediately charmed by the poise with which Patrick handled his entrance. His first words upon exiting his vehicle were, in order, Sorry, Ta Da!, and “Would you like to go to prom with me? I have insurance.” When she glanced at the car and found his dog behind the wheel, Tess asked who’d been driving. Patrick took responsibility. Even at sixteen, he was too much of a man to lay blame on his innocent retriever.

Golden Retriever Puppy Driving Car

Tess didn’t immediately agree to the prom invitation, but Patrick kept her laughing while they helped her building contractor father shore up the roof and nail plywood over the hole where the front window had been. Her father insisted Patrick cough up his deductible before the dance. Patrick’s family grounded him until he meet his increased insurance premiums and replace the car’s tires and brakes.

By the time the teen had paid off his debts, the couple decided to forgo the prom in favor of a more frugal day at the beach followed by dinner grabbed from an artisan food truck. Ten of their friends joined them, wisely betting that Tess and Patrick’s lively company would prove more fun than a stuffy urban hotel ballroom.

Years later, contemplating marriage, Tess insisted that their home be animal friendly, with a pet-free dressing room in which she could exchange her normal Uggs and sweatpants wardrobe for her sharp black and red fashionista work wardrobe. Patrick, on the other hand, was careless in his everyday appearance, but wanted all his possessions stowed with naval precision. The couple struggled through this arrangement for several months before realizing they’d be happier and stay married longer if they created separate domiciles, each with room for the other.

Tess is at home in Patrick’s ship-shape and austere urban loft near the transit hub where he catches the train for San Francisco. Patrick is a frequent visitor at her suburban ranch across the street from the school attended by their son Teddy, who moves seamlessly from one home to the other. It wasn’t until he was in third grade that he realized his family set up was atypical. At first, though his parents had never contemplated divorce, Teddy feared their living arrangement meant their partnership was on the rocks. As Tess explained when comforting her son, “We’re odd. You’re just going to have to face that. But we love each other and you very much. That’s the most important thing in any family.”

Outwardly, Tess and her best friend (my main character, professional organizer and declutterer Maggie McDonald) are polar opposites, but they share a belief in the importance of love, family, justice and friends. They invite you to join them in all their Orchard View adventures including Address to Die For (A Kirkus Best Book of 2017), Scheduled to Death, Dead Storage, and Disorderly Conduct (released July 10, 2018) Additional books are planned.

Readers: In Disorderly Conduct, Maggie and her family are packing to flee a wild-fire. What kinds of natural disasters plague your area? Are there any that scare you so much you’d choose not to live in an area where those conditions were likely to occur? Have you had any close calls? Remember, Mary is giving away a copy of the book to one commenter!

FELIZ BLOG #1 Author HeadshotMary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Address to Die For, the first book in the series, was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. All of her books have spent time on the Amazon best seller list.

J. A. Hennrikus Cover Reveal

by Julie, loving summer in Somerville

With a Kiss I DieI am thrilled to share the cover for my next Theater Cop book, With A Kiss I Die. It will be released on April 8, 2019 but is available for pre-order now.

The Theater Cop series features Sully Sullivan, an ex-cop who runs a theater company on the North Shore of Massachusetts. The Cliffside is a summer theater, but the work goes on all year long. This book takes place in February. Dimitri Traietti has been hired to step in and direct Romeo and Juliet in Boston, and Sully goes down to give him a sounding board as he deals with a cast in revolt, an all white set, and an absentee managing director. Sully also sets up a meeting with Mimi and Jerry Cunningham. They run the Century Foundation, and Sully is applying to them for a grant. When Mimi is found dead, Sully tries not to get involved with the investigation, especially when she realizes her former partner is on the case. But then her ex-husband Gus disappears. . .

The Theater Cop series is more of a traditional series. It crosses the two worlds I love–mysteries and theater.

How great is this cover? I love the layers of information included on it–a lot but not too much. So glad I’m able to share it with you today!

Wicked Wednesday- Say Something Nice

Jessie: Enjoying the ocean breezes on the coast of Maine

newspaper-943004_1280I prefer to look on the bright side just as often as possible but I have to admit there are times when that is a bit more challenging than usual. Lately, with the headlines being  pretty grim on all sides, it has been sort of tough to remain cheerful. So, I thought it might be nice to share some good news from your life, your community or even from around the web. Ladies, what’s right in your world?

Edith: I have a happy, healthy, funny nine-month-old great-goddaughter who is much loved by her parents and grandmas – and by me. I spent time with her last week and was lifted up by this sunny young nugget of life. (Her parents don’t allow her picture on social media or the web or I’d share her with you.) And I get to see her this afternoon, too!

Sherry: I am in Davenport, Iowa for a high school class reunion. My dear friend Carol and I both flew in early so we could spend some time together. Friday night is the casual night of the reunion. I have to miss Saturday night, but it’s for a good reason too. I’ll be attending the Kensington CozyCon in Richmond, Virginia on Sunday along with a bunch of other wonderful authors. Click here for more information!

Liz: Shaggy and I have been enjoying the beautiful weather, checking out new places in our neighborhood and making sure we take advantage of the summer months as much as possible. We’re really trying to relax more and soak up our favorite season.

Barb: It’s so amazing that Jessie posted this question this Wednesday of all Wednesdays, when twelve young Thai soccer players and their coach have been successfully rescued from a flooded cave system. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a story. First the boys were lost, then they were found, then the difficulty of rescuing them was revealed. Their successful extraction was an international effort involving science and technology, but most of all bravery. A retired Thai Navy SEAL was lost in the rescue effort. As I write this, there are still three divers and a doctor in the cave. The boys and their coach have a long road ahead, mentally and physically, but the results so far have been my good news of the summer.

Readers, how about you? Do you have any good news to share? 

 

Alex Erickson: When the Not So Cozy Gets Cozy

News Flash: Diana Wunning is Alex’s randomly selected winner. Congrats, Diana! Please check your email. Alex will be contacting you.

Edith here, loving full summer north of Boston. Today I welcome a new guest, fellow Kensington Publishing cozy author Alex Erickson. He and I are going to have Christmas novellas published together in 2019 (along with Carlene O’Connor), so I thought I’d invite him over so we can all get to know him. He writes the Bookstore Cafe Mysteries, and his latest book is Death by Espresso. Don’t you love the cover?

EspressoBookstore-café owner Krissy Hancock has plenty to keep her occupied outside business hours, like preparing for her best friend’s wedding and solving a murder.

Krissy is meeting Vicki’s parents at the Pine Hills, Ohio, airport—it’s the least she can do as maid of honor, even if her relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Patterson is a bit strained. Besides, her own dad is coming in on the same flight. But there are a few additional arrivals, too. Her father’s brought a date—and the Pattersons, both actors, seem to have an entire entourage trailing behind them.

Uninvited guests are a headache—especially when one turns out to be, allegedly at least, the most important wedding planner in all the world. Though Vicki and Krissy have already made arrangements for a small, simple party, Vicki’s snobby drama queen mother has her own ideas. Cathy the wedding planner is raring to go, possibly energized by the chocolate-covered espresso beans she compulsively munches. But while the caffeine keeps her awake, it doesn’t keep her alive—and after Cathy chokes on an espresso bean after being hit in the head, Krissy has to find out who ended her supposedly stellar career . . .

Alex is giving away a copy of the new book to one lucky commenter here today, too (US and Canada only)! Take it away, Alex.

“You’re the wrong sex!”

I’ve heard it more times than I can count. Nearly every event I go to, someone comments on the fact that I’m a man writing cozy mysteries. While it’s not unheard of, some say cozies and men simply don’t go together.

I get it. You look up and down the aisle of authors signing their books, you do find a lot of women. I stand out. And when you sit back and look at my interests, I fit in even less.

BooksI grew up on Stephen King. That’s not exactly cozy reading. I also love my sci-fi and fantasy, both in book form and television. While I watch a lot of mystery and detective shows, many of them are of a darker, bloodier sort. Shows like The Killing. Shows like Dexter. These are not cozy.

And then there’s what I do for fun and to relax (when I’m not reading, of course.) I own a Playstation 4, an Xbox One (two in fact,) a Switch, a gaming PC, and most of them get used every single day. Even my work laptop can run most PC games at max settings. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m often found with a controller in my hands, talking to my friends through a headset.Board Games

While I also like board games, which could fit in with certain cozies, my games are quite a bit different than Monopoly.

Don’t even get me started on my music tastes. Let’s just say it isn’t very cozy.

So, how did someone who is more likely to be found at a Moonspell concert, or who spends hours playing Overwatch, or who watches shows depicting gruesome murders, end up writing cozy mysteries?

Pops

“Pops” mostly from Overwatch

Easy. I love telling stories. I enjoy making people laugh. When so much of what I do resides in the darker realm of entertainment, it’s good to get out and write something that doesn’t dwell on darkness. Sure, there’s murder, but it’s what I like to think of as “light” murder. Happy murder!

And sure, writing a female lead as a man has its challenges. Voice is important to the story. When I write, I focus on what the character would do, not what I would do in any given situation. That helps. I also subscribe to the idea that I don’t make this stuff up on my own; I’m transcribing for my characters.

While I might not spend a lot of time with traditional cozy hobbies, I am an animal person. And when it comes to cozies, sometimes, the animals are all that matters.

Alex_Erickson_8x10_BWReaders: Do you have any hobbies or interests that would surprise the cozy community? Are there any odd hobbies or themes you’d like to see in a cozy? Remember, Alex is giving a copy of Death by Espresso!

Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty—at least in his opinion—quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration.

The Real Cabbage Island Clambake

by Barb, enjoying the most beautiful day on the coast of Maine

My kids and their kid gathered with us in Boothbay Harbor for the Fourth of July this year. One request from them all was a visit to the Cabbage Island Clambake, the inspiration for the Snowden Family Clambake in my Maine Clambake Mysteries.

I’ve written before about the difference between the real Clambake and my fictional one. You can read about that here.

But this year there wasn’t a hint of a research trip. It was a happy day with family. I thought I’d take you on a photo tour below.

Friday started out rainy and windy, but it was the only day all seven of us were available, so we pressed on.

The crowd lined up in the rain and ready to get on the Bennie Alice

But then the sun came out just as we got to the island.

We grabbed a table under the covered porch, but plenty of people wiped off picnic tables and settled outside.

People getting their food

The clambake meal

After the meal

Badminton on the lawn

One of the island cats–there are four

Employees up on a platform washing the trays the meal come on

The little house the the dock. (The one in the books is slightly bigger.)

Time to go.

The owners, brothers Bob and Wayne Moore see the Bennie Alice off

On the boat ride home

Passing the osprey’s nest

Good-bye Cabbage Island

Readers: Did you do anything fun for the Fourth of July?