About Liz Mugavero

Liz Mugavero is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries. She also writes the Cat About Town Mysteries under the name Cate Conte.

The Detective’s Daughter – There’s No Place Like Home

Kim in Baltimore with a beautiful print by artist Joanna Barnum for our Thankful for our Readers giveaway. Leave a comment for a chance to win.

Hat

On a cold, snowy January evening nearly fifteen years ago my dad’s house blew up. You read that correctly. A small fire believed to have started in the living room traveled quickly igniting boxes of ammunition Dad had stored in a bedroom. By the time I arrived on the scene the firefighters had been evacuated and a news helicopter hovered overhead.

The brick walls still stood, stained with soot and glazed in ice, but intact. The rest of the house, the floors, ceiling, stairway, were turned to ash.

Our house had been built in 1860. The Nortons, my grandmother’s family, had moved in

Kim 1

Assorted Norton children

not long after the construction was complete and had been the only family to live there for roughly one hundred and forty years. My grandmother and all of her siblings were born in that house as well as my father and some of his cousins.

Kim 2

My great-grandmother, Annie Graham Norton and unidentified man.

After the fire Dad moved in with me and the house was sold and remodeled. It nearly broke my heart and I was glad my grandmother had not lived to see this happen.

I have lived in my own house now for twenty-five years, seven years longer than I lived in my childhood house, yet it is still that large brick row house of my youth that I call home. I am always yearning to return.

It’s funny how, as a teenager, I was quite eager to escape and be on my own. I couldn’t wait to grow up and have my own place. Now all I can think of is how nice it would be to go home and sit across the table from Nana and enjoy a cup of tea.

Kim 3

My great-grandmother, Annie Graham Norton and her oldest granddaughter, Madeleine Buckey.

I find, though, each month I am able to go home again when I share my stories with all of you. For that I am thankful.

Kim 4

My grandmother, Florence Norton Kurth Beckhardt, my mother, Frances Smith Kurth, and me.

Readers, share with us about your family home in the comments below. 

Guest: Cheryl Hollon

Liz here, and I’m so happy to welcome back our friend Cheryl Hollon, who’s releasing her next book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery Series. Take it away, Cheryl!

By Cheryl Hollon

Delighted to be here again for another new release! Thank you, Liz, for letting me brag about my newest release. All the Wicked Cozy Authors have been such a great support to me – you are truly awesome.

Another new release. Did you notice how casually that rolled off the tongue – er, screen? Yep, the fourth book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery Series will release on November 28, 2017. This is an important book for a select group of cozy mystery readers. Why? Because this cadre of readers will pick up a new author only if there are at least four books already published. Why? Most new cozy mystery contracts are for a 3-book deal. For various reasons, some don’t get extended beyond that third book. I am now a new member in the Four Books Published Club with two more in the works. I couldn’t be more delighted.

Etched in Tears_MM.indd

Another new release. That phrase has made me realize that I am now officially a professional author. I have a series of books that I love sitting on shelves in bookstores. The last two years have been full of rewards, surprises, and challenges. The biggest reward has been meeting readers who enjoy their visit with Savannah, Edward, Amanda, Jacob, Suzy, Rooney, and Snowy. The surprise has been how much I love to write. I didn’t expect the splendid sense of wellbeing that it provides. The challenges are centered around keeping on top of looming deadlines as well as the administrative side of running a small business as a sole proprietor.

What aspect of reading or writing a series surprised you? Tell us below and be entered for a chance to win a signed ARC of Etched in Tears!

############

Each book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery Series highlights a particular skill within the broad category of glass art. Savannah Webb will teach and participate in each skill area exploring and expanding her knowledge of the craft, along with her assistant, Amanda Blake. As a subject matter expert consulting with the St. Petersburg Police Department, her close associations within the art community and the unusually keen observation skills of her apprentice, Jacob Underwood, combine to solve crimes. Edward Morris, boyfriend and the British owner of the pub next door, fills out the investigation posse with more than moral support accompanied by coffee and scones. The craft topics for the third book in the series are etching glass and slumping glass to make dishware.

The cover art for Etched in Tears (Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery #4) is an image of my favorite museum with the magnificent droopy bench in front. That’s where the body is discovered, so as research, I had to slump myself over the bench to see if it was feasible. I considered it a triumph to get strange looks at an art museum that specializes in surrealism.

 

You can read more about Savannah in Etched in Tears, the fourth book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries, published by Kensington Books. Available for pre-order at your favorite book vendor. It releases on November 28, 2017.

About Etched in Tears:

When a famous glass artist is murdered at his own exhibit, deadly secrets are put on display, and it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb to see through a killer’s cover.

 Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images into his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.

Meet the author:

Author Hollon PhotoCheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art.

You can visit Cheryl and her books at:

Newsletter signup at:  http://www.cherylhollon.com

Like her:  https://www.facebook.com/cherylhollonwriterFollow her:  http://www.twitter.com/cherylhollon

 

Writing Solo? By Daryl Wood Gerber

Hi all! Liz here, excited to welcome back our good friend Daryl Wood Gerber, who has some fun giveaways today! Take it away, Daryl!

By Daryl Wood Gerber

Writing can be a very lonely venture. You have no one to talk to except yourself  (which some consider a little bit crazy)

Or your characters (which a vast majority considers bordering on nuts)  

Sparky1Or you might have a faithful companion. I have Sparky. He is the joy of my life. He loves coming into my office and simply “being there” to support me. He sits calmly on his pillow and rouses occasionally for a pet. He gazes at me soulfully whenever I introduce him on a live chat on Facebook. He stares at me scornfully if I ask to take yet another picture to post on Facebook.  LOL

If I need to lie on the floor to gather my thoughts (I think well with my eyes closed – it is not a nap!), Sparky “allows” me to pet him. That stroking motion really helps clear my head. Sparky3

If I need to pace the floor to come up with an idea, he follows me. Oy! I have to be extremely careful not to make a sudden turn. He’s so quiet, he could be my shadow. I have tripped at least a dozen times because of him. I’m really glad I never hit my head on a counter top. (Ooh, idea for a murder method.)

But I digress…

If I need to take a long walk to think, Sparky is always up for it. “Snap on that leash, Mom. Let’s go!” He doesn’t even mind if I bring along my cell phone and tape conversations that I want to insert in the book. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m talking to him. Isn’t life all about him?

S2If I need to take a break and read someone else’s book, this is possibly his happiest moment of the day. We settle on the patio and he gets a treat and we listen to the sounds of nature, while I drink in the talent of another author.

Writing solo? Nope. Not I. I’ve got a writing partner. And the best thing is he thinks all my ideas are great.  (Hmm, must reconsider this last point.  It’s not good to have someone who thinks “all” your ideas are great. An author needs a constructive critic.)

Note to self: Get Sparky reading lessons and teach him to speak his mind.

Do you have a two- or four-footed pet that fills your days with love?

Daryl is offering a choice of any one of her books to one commenter.  Winner announced Friday! 

Daryl’s latest book, A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the first in the French Bistro Mysteries, debuts November 7.

Here’s a sneak peek: 

Mimi Rousseau is throwing the bistro’s first wedding—the nuptials of a famous talk show host. She is sure things will go awry when the bride’s father shows up drunk to the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the end of the evening, things look sweet again…until the next morning, when her benefactor is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. All fingers point at Mimi, whose loan is forgiven if he dies. It’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat.

DeadlyEclair


BIO:
Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber writes the brand new French Bistro Mysteries as well as the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries.  As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. A DEADLY ÊCLAIR, the first French Bistro Mystery, comes out November 2017. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAY OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

http://www.darylwoodgerber.com
http://youtube.com/woodgerb1
http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com
http://facebook.com/darylwoodgerber
http://twitter.com/darylwoodgerber
http://instagram.com/darylwoodgerber
http://pinterest.com/darylwoodgerber
NEWSLETTER: http://darylwoodgerber.com/contact.php#mailing-list

 

Out of Print

By Liz, enjoying the still-warm weather!

A couple months ago, a former co-worker from my reporting days called to tell me that one of our former editors was retiring. I’d known the day would come eventually, but I couldn’t imagine the Norwich Bulletin newsroom without Marilyn in it, working nights to put the paper out.

She’d been there the day I walked through the door eleven years ago, new to town and hoping for a reporting job. They didn’t have a position at the time, but they gave me some freelance work. Marilyn edited those stories, and I got used to her calling me an hour or two after I turned in my story, asking clarifying questions or suggesting a different way of phrasing something. I remembered thinking I better have my grammar up to speed, because there was no way Marilyn was letting me get away with any mistakes.

When I was hired full-time, I was on general assignment for a few months. I did all kinds of stories, from features to local news to education. General assignment also meant that during the local elections, which was two months after I started the job, we had to do “man on the street interviews.” These were my least favorite assignments – basically walking up to random people on the street to ask them what they thought about the candidates or the issues. Sometimes it was easy to find people. In some of these smaller towns, not so much. I remember stalking a liquor store one day just to find people. And let me tell you, they didn’t like my questions standing between them and their after-work activities. But we had to have at least seven people from each town. On this particular day, I had six quotes. That final person was eluding me. And that was after nearly seven hours of this. I called the newsroom and told her my dilemma. She was adamant about the “one more quote.” But before I could hang up and use a few of my signature curse words to describe the situation to the inside of my car, she got really quiet (so our managing editor wouldn’t hear her) and gave me the phone number of a friend in that town she kept on standby and told me to call her, that she’d give me a quote.

That was Marilyn. She pretended to be tough, but she always had the reporters’ backs. (She used to bake for us too. I remember one Halloween where I nearly ate myself sick off the cookie platter she brought in for us.)

Then, after a couple months on the general assignment beat, I got the main city beat. Which was exciting at the time. There was a lot going on, lots of development proposals in town and political dramas (although by today’s standards it was nothing) and it was a chance for me to learn a lot about myself. This was the first job I had after moving from New Hampshire to Connecticut after a really difficult time, and I’d lost a lot of self-confidence along the way. To be there for such a short amount of time and get the premier beat was exciting, and it also reminded me that I was good at what I did. I could earn–and keep–people’s trust. I was a good writer. I was even giving my competition a run for her money, and she’d been on this beat for a decade and had sources I hadn’t even met yet. I made new friends. I got my confidence back. Marilyn was a big part of that. She wasn’t overly exuberant with praise, but you knew if she was pleased with you. You also knew if she wasn’t, and nobody wanted that!

I remember nights sitting in the halls outside city council meetings at all crazy hours, typing furiously while I was on the phone with Marilyn, who was editing in real time. The buzz of all that was undeniable. Exhausting, but exhilarating. Marilyn was a fabulous editor, and she believed in repetition to keep us from making the same mistakes again and again. For example, I heard in my sleep for many years the AP Style guidelines about time, date and place (in that order) for an event. I will never, as long as I live, forget it. Or any of the other lessons Marilyn taught me, grammar or otherwise.

I had lunch with her last week, and I made her laugh when I told her I still heard her voice in my ear when I was editing something at work. I am still adamant about AP Style, even though I get a lot of blank stares when someone at work asks me why I wrote something a certain way and I explain. It doesn’t matter. I know it’s right.

We spent a lot of time rehashing the good old days, and all the crazy times we had in that newsroom. She told me how many former reporters from her many years at the paper had gotten in touch when word spread about her retirement. She seemed surprised that so many people would reach out. I wasn’t. She touched a lot of lives.

Surprisingly, she seems ready to retire and find another adventure. I never thought she’d let go of that life, but like she says, it’s changed so much. Small town papers have a low survival rate these days, and they’re operating on maybe a quarter of the staff they used to have. It was all getting to be too much.

And she seems content knowing she ran the city desk with an iron fist and had a grammatically correct influence on so many people’s lives in the process. But more than that, she lived and breathed the news, and she cared about all of us. Even the ones who drove her crazy. And that’s not something you find at every job.

I hope her retirement has a lot of happy headlines.

Readers, do you have a former colleague or someone else who greatly influenced your life?

The Detective’s Daughter – The Creative Ones

Kim in Baltimore sitting in the heat after foolishly taking all the air conditioners out of the windows.

In August I took a job a job as an assistant to the artist Maxine Taylor. Though art had been my minor in college, nothing compares to first hand experience. I have lately given great thought to what it means to be creative and have gone as far to buy journals to help me develop my own work more creatively. This led me to ask the question: Does our level of creativity form the path we take in life or does it hinder our plans?

One of my many journals

My dad was both a creative and talented artist. When I was a child he would sit and sketch my dolls as I pretended to be on the boardwalk at Atlantic City. He would give me the finished sketch and I would hang them up just as my parents did with the portraits we brought home from vacation.

Dad showed such promise as an artist he was encouraged to attend the college of art after his high school graduation by his teachers. My grandmother had hoped that he would work in the advertising department of a big store like Hoschild Kohn. True to form, Dad would not commit himself to Nana’s plan. She told him she would be happy with any career he chose as long as it wasn’t police work. Legend has it he applied to the police academy that day. Their relationship is a column for another time.

Despite joining the force, Dad did not abandon his art. At work he was known for drawing

The mascot Dad designed and drew for his homicide unit.

detailed accounts of crime scenes and designing mascots for the different divisions in the force. At home, in addition to his sketching, he dabbled in jewelry making, ceramics, pottery, velvet painting and interior design. He made a small fortune designing and making chess set, a small business venture he stopped because the demand for his games became more than he could produce. Near the end of his life he had a small mail-order business selling puzzles of police badges from across the country that he had painted.

Dad and Mom, who was an expert seamstress, collaborated on two projects. The first was a Halloween costume for my sister. The year she started crawling they built her a turtle shell. It was cute and she won a prize. We always won prizes for the costumes Mom made for us. Their second project was creating a Bicentennial room in our house. Mom sewed, Dad painted and in the end the room was so red, white and blue it gave us all migraines.

A ring Dad made in the 1970s.

Nana always believed Dad had wasted his talent by joining the police force, but he hadn’t. He had a unique way of observing situations and an uncanny ability to read people. Those were the skills that saw him through a forty year career of solving crimes and retiring as a homicide detective with no open cases on the books. Now, that takes creativity and talent.

Readers, how has your creativity formed your role in life? Tell us in the comments. [Note: Kim is out of town on a writing retreat and won’t be able to reply to comments – but she’s thinking of you!]

SaveSave

Six Books Later!

By Liz, enjoying the last taste of summer weather while launching a Christmas book!

So, wow – today is the release of Purring Around the Christmas Tree, the sixth book in the Pawsitively Organic Mystery Series! Six books!? How did that even happen?

When I first started writing this series, I had a picture of Stan, a picture of Jake, a few ideas about supporting characters, and my lovely little town of Frog Ledge. And definitely the town green.

At the time, although I knew I had at least three books ahead of me, those pictures didn’t project that far into the future (i.e, book two). I knew I wanted Stan to have a meaningful character arc – who doesn’t want that for their characters? – but I really didn’t know at the time what it was.

But, as we know, our characters often end up writing their own stories. I wrote in an earlier blog post about how Stan’s relationship with her family took over unexpectedly. And then those relationships took on a life of their own. Her mother and sister ended up becoming major parts of Stan’s life – despite her best efforts – and therefore, major parts of each book.

While those relationships still have a huge effect on Stan and her character arc, she’s done a lot of growing on her own. She’s forged new relationships, developed her confidence, built a business from the ground up, made mistakes, made friends, made enemies. She’s fallen in love and adopted a new family, and had to learn how to interact with them – the polar opposites of her own family. She’s rescued pets and learned just as much from them as the people in her life. She’s made a name for herself in her community and become indispensable, not only to the key people around her, but to the town and its residents, both human and furry.

She’s more sure of herself now than when she was a corporate big shot with a fancy title and an expense account behind her. And it’s because she’s followed her own path, listened to her own voice and created a life she loves. She’s happy in Frog Ledge, no matter how many murders throw a monkey wrench in her plans. She has her little house,  Jake’s pub, and Izzy’s cafe when she needs a safe place. She’s even got a back-up job as a news reporter if she ever needs one.

As I head into the seventh book in the series, I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next. She’s become one of my closest friends, and it’s been a blast watching her create herself.

I hope you’re all enjoying her journey as much as I am. Thanks, as always, for reading!

Readers, what’s your favorite part of Stan’s personal journey?

SaveSave

SaveSave

Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker – The Double-Booked Tour

Liz here, excited to welcome back Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker! We hosted them last fall for their double launch, and it was so much fun they’re back to celebrate the release of Jess’s latest, March of Crime, and Shannon’s latest, Dark Signal. Take it away, gals!

Jess: Back in 2006, I attended my first Bouchercon, the premier mystery convention. It was held in Madison, Wisconsin, that year. I remember feeling overwhelmed and out of place, the nerdy girl on the sidelines who no one wanted to dance with. Thank god that’s changed (ha!). I also remember attending a panel called Thriller vs. Cozies, where three thriller writers competed against three cozy writers to see who could turn an idea into a synopsis the quickest. While thrillers more often end up on the New York Times bestseller list, at this panel, the cozy writers were quicker and their story lines were voted more compelling each time. I don’t think it was an accident. I think cozies have a lot to teach thrillers, and all mystery genres.

That’s what Shannon Baker, author of the latest Kate Fox mystery, Dark Signal, and me, author of the recently-released humorous mystery March of Crime, are here today to talk with you about, so pull up a chair, pour yourself a steaming mug of chamomile tea, toss in a splash of brandy, and let’s do this.

Shannon, how would you describe a thriller vs. a cozy?

Shannon: Since I’m in sunny Tucson, I’ll opt for a mai tai instead of the tea, but thank you, anyway. I always think a mystery is a whodunnit, with the whole plot driving to find the identity of the bad guy. In a thriller, we most likely know who the bad guy is, and the book focuses on preventing the big bad event. Typically, thrillers have bigger stakes than mysteries, saving the planet from Dr. Brain’s doomsday machine, as opposed to finding who killed the rector.

Jess: Agreed. And I read them both, and find something to enjoy in both subgenres. When it comes to building and portraying relationships, though, I think cozies beat thrillers hands down. It’s not only the relationship between the characters that is often deep (Joanna Campbell Slan’s Kiki Lowenstein mysteries, which I love, come to mind), it’s also the way cozies connect to me as a reader. I feel like I’m hanging out with friends when I read a cozy, whereas reading a thriller often leaves me feeling entertained, but not included. Shannon, what’s one thing that you find cozies do better than thrillers?

Shannon: Criminy, Jess, you have me all nervous. It’s like saying all redheads have crazy tempers, or all Irish drink a lot of whiskey. So, as uncontroversial as I can: Cozies often make me laugh. I love the madcap adventures of Ivy Meadows in Cindy Brown’s off-off-off Broadway series, for instance. Thrillers can get my heart racing and keep me turning pages, which is fun in its own way.

While thrillers aren’t devoid of character and relationship subplots, it’s a matter of balance, in most cases. (see me tap dancing around this?) For instance, when my husband and I watch Game of Thrones, we enjoy the whole show together. But his favorite scenes involve battles and nudity, while my favorite scenes involve John Snow and how he’s feeling, who his friends are, if he’ll ever find happiness. (We both love dragons, duh.) I enjoy the connection, which is where cozies excel.

Jess: Good call! OK, we’ve been a little hard on the thrillers, so let’s end on a positive note. What’s your favorite thriller, or who is your favorite thriller writer?

Shannon: While I’m not well-read in the thriller genre, I do love Francine Matthews’s books. Last year, I read this wild ride of a thriller, with deep character development, as well a heart-stopping plot, called Salem’s Cipher, that deserves mention here.

Jess: Ha! Thank you, friend. For me, although they might technically be writing suspense, I am always thrilled by Alison Gaylin and Karin Slaughter’s books. And there’s this sexy chick named Shannon Baker whose books I keep hearing great things about. If only she didn’t keep nipping my brandy…

How about you, clever readers? What’s one element of cozies (or thrillers!) that you really enjoy? 

Please join Shannon and Jessie as they continue their blog tour. They will each be giving away three books this tour, and every comment you leave at a blog stop gets you one chance to win. For another chance to win a book, sign up for Jess and/or Shannon’s newsletters on their websites (links below).

Jess LoureyJessie short bio: Jess Lourey (rhymes with “dowry”) is best known for her critically- acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.” She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a regular Psychology Today blogger, a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker who delivered the 2016 “Rewrite Your Life” TEDx Talk, and the author of Rewrite Your Life, the only book out there which shows you how to turn your facts into healing, page-turning fiction. You can find out more at http://www.jessicalourey.com.

Shannon BakerShannon short bio: Shannon Baker is the author of the Kate Fox mystery series (Tor/Forge). Set in the isolated cattle country of the Nebraska Sandhills, Kirkus says, “Baker serves up a ballsy heroine, a colorful backdrop, and a surprising ending.” She also writes the Nora Abbott mystery series (Midnight Ink), featuring Hopi Indian mysticism and environmental issues. Shannon makes her home in Tucson where she enjoys cocktails by the pool, breathtaking sunsets, a crazy Weimeraner, and killing people (in the pages of her books). She was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2014 Writer of the Year. Visit Shannon at www.Shannon-Baker.com