Exciting News!

By Sherry — I’m in Bowling Green, Kentucky today for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest!

I am so excited to announce that I am writing a second series for Kensington – the Chloe Jackson Redneck Riviera series. The setting is in the panhandle of Florida and the town is a fictional version of Destin, Florida. The area is known as the Emerald Coast, LA – lower Alabama, and yes, the Redneck Riviera.

Why am I setting a book there? My parents used to winter on the Emerald Coast and eventually moved to Destin in 1991. My husband was stationed there in the early 2000s. We lived in the area for almost three years. When we left our daughter said “yes, ma’am, no sir,” called her gym teachers coach, and we all ended up talking slower and saying “y’all.” It’s hotter than the blazes in the summer, people hold open doors for you even when your halfway across the parking lot, the beaches are the whitest, softest I’ve ever been to, and the water is a stunning shade of green.

It’s even beautiful on a rainy day!

Here is a bit about the series from the proposal I turned in:  

There are some promises you hope you never have to keep. Thirty-year-old Chloe Jackson made such a promise to her friend Boone Parker before he left for a deployment in Afghanistan. When he didn’t come back, Chloe packed her bags to go help Boone’s grandmother, Vivi, run her Seaglass Bar on the white sand beaches of Destiny, Florida. Destiny is in the panhandle of Florida which is also known as the Redneck Riviera and LA — Lower Alabama. Destiny has four seasons – snowbirds, spring breakers, summer people, and the month and a half in the fall where it’s just the locals.

Chloe won’t miss the cold winters of Chicago, but giving up her job as a children’s librarian just about broke her heart. However, her late father had told her a promise made must be a promise kept. It’s the code Chloe has always lived by.

Chloe thought Vivi would be grateful for her help — she’s anything but grateful. Because what could a children’s librarian who has never mixed a drink add to her business? However, Vivi quickly realizes that Chloe’s past as a children’s librarian gives her a unique ability to handle unruly customers and employees.

Destiny is a town that grew too fast. Greedy developers made shady deals while lining the back pockets of the town council. Resources – police, utilities, and roads – are strained as is the environment. Rich people don’t want the locals to have access to the beach and fights about the mean high tide are ongoing. Harley riding local doctors don’t like the Speedo wearing foreigners coming to town.

Will Wade has owned the Briny Pirate restaurant next door to the Seaglass for thirty years. The two buildings are so close they might as well share a wall. When a Seaglass customer is hungry Vivi calls in an order and someone from the Briny Pirate runs it over.

Cast of Characters:

Chloe Jackson – is a thirty-year-old former children’s librarian who moves to Destiny, Florida to help her college friend’s grandmother run her bar on the beach.

Vivi Slidell – has run Seaglass Bar on the beach in Destiny for the past forty years long before the sleepy fishing village became a tourist hot spot. Vivi doesn’t think she needs help from anyone. She’s grieving the loss of her grandson whose support meant more to her than she ever realized. Vivi is reluctant to accept help from anyone and especially a Yankee who shows up every day unbidden.

Joaquin Diaz – the handsome bartender, a fisherman by day, who ladies flock to see. Overworked, Joaquin seems to be the only one who is happy that Chloe has arrived.

Will Wade – owns the Briny Pirate restaurant next door and has been in love with Vivi for thirty years. Will is a cranky native who doesn’t like how tourists, land developers, and northerners have ruined the once quiet beaches.

I hope you will join me in this new adventure!

Readers: Have you ever been to the Redneck Riviera? If not what is your favorite beach town? I’m at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest today, but will stop by as possible!




Welcome Back, Author Susan Santangelo!

by Barb, who is sad to be winding down her time in the Keys

Susan SantangeloOne of my favorite cozy series is Susan Santangelo’s Baby Boomer Mysteries about Carol and Jim Andrews, subtitled, Every Wife Has a Story. The sixth book in the series, Second Honeymoons Can Be Murder, was published on Tuesday, so I thought this was a good time to catch up with Susan on Carol and Jim’s latest adventures.


Barb: Tell us a little about Second Honeymoons Can Be Murder.

Second Honeymoons Can Be Murder Final CoverSusan: Hi Barb. Thanks so much for letting me guest blog with the Wickeds today about the sixth book in my Baby Boomer mystery series, Second Honeymoons Can Be Murder.I had lots of fun writing this one. Here’s the back cover blurb: Carol Andrews can’t believe her luck when her husband, Jim, surprises her with a second honeymoon trip to Florida. But there’s a catch — it’s really a business trip, not the romantic getaway Carol expects. Jim’s been called out of retirement to create a marketing plan for a new television show aimed at Baby Boomers, The Second Honeymoon Game, and the pilot episode will be shot in the Sunshine State. The honeymoon is really over when the show’s executive producer, none other than Carol’s grammar school boyfriend, winds up dead on Carol and Jim’s first night in Florida. And their son, Mike, is the police’s number one suspect.

Barb: In your previous books you’ve explored the challenges Baby Boomers face at this stage of their lives–retirement, downsizing, parenting grown children. I’m almost afraid to ask–what boomer challenge do you explore in Second Honeymoons?

Santangelo_ReunionsCBMSusan: Jim and Carol don’t kill each other off in this book! But they do disagree on how to solve the murder. Of course, Jim wants Carol to stay out of it — that is, when she can get him to focus on the fact that their son is in a heap of trouble. Jim is thrilled to be “back in harness” again, and Carol is finding out, much to her surprise, that having him around the house, rather than working all the time, isn’t so bad after all. The overriding themes are communication (or lack thereof) between a long-married couple, and parenting grown children. Again. Will they ever grow up???

Barb: Your central couple, Carol and Jim Andrews’s son Mike has always been a bit of a mysterious character. (My husband and I used to joke that with our son everything was on a need-to-know basis–and there was nothing we needed to know.) Do we learn more about Mike’s life in Florida in this story?

Susan: I decided it was high time, after 5 books, that Mike became more of a central character, rather than hovering around the edges of the plot and chiming in electronically when asked. Of course, I had to get to know Mike, too. He turned out to be a very likable, but very stubborn young guy who falls for the wrong girl at the wrong time. But in the right book!

Barb: Why did you make the decision to move Carol away from her home base, not to mention her supportive friends and beloved dogs? What were the challenges and the rewards? (I’m asking because I’m writing a book like this now myself.)

Susan: Since I’ve become a “weather refugee,” spending the cold winter months in Florida, it seemed natural to me that Carol and Jim should spend some time in Florida. But most of the other central characters in the book — Carol’s best girlfriends, and the dogs — get to come along on the trip, too. A lot of the book is set on Honeymoon Island, which really exists. Although not the way I portrayed it in the book, of course.

Lilly PI wanted to keep the series fresh, and I think that adding a change of scene can help, assuming it makes sense. I tried to balance keeping what’s worked in the other books — many of the central characters — with a new location, to attract new readers. It was a challenge to figure out how to get Lucy and Ethel to Florida — I didn’t want them to travel on a commercial airplane where they’d be put in the hold of the plane and travel like two pieces of baggage. And Jim and Carol would never make the long drive to Florida from Connecticut. So i had everybody travel to Florida by private jet. Hey, why not? I also introduced a new dog on the back cover of the book — our new English cocker puppy, Lilly. Her AKC name is My Pulitzer Prize, so I finally got my own Pulitzer Prize. Her snappy Lilly Pulitzer bandanna, which she’s wearing in her picture is, a perfect fashion accent piece for a Florida canine. She was definitely ready for her closeup!

Barb: I’ve always admired your approach to the business side of writing. After self-publishing the first four Baby Boomer Mysteries, you’ve gone in-house with the last two with Suspense Publishing. What’s the same and what’s different?

Susan: Since my first four books are indie, I get to play with promotion and marketing ideas that might not be available otherwise. For example, My first mystery, Retirement Can Be Murder, will be part of a boxed set of first-in-a-series books by 10 indie authors called Sleuthing Women, to be published in early May by the ever creative Lois Winston, who’s become an indie author herself.

Suspense gives me the security and branding that only a traditional publishing house can. Plus, since I also review mysteries for Suspense Magazine, I get to read books by so many fabulous authors whose work I really admire. Like many of the Wickeds! I am very lucky to have the very best of both worlds.

Barb: So interesting! I enjoy seeing the challenges in my life reflected with humor and a sense of adventure.

Readers: Do you like books that reflect your life or provide an exotic adventure? Both? Neither?

Cats We’ve Loved or Love — Real and Fictional

FarmedandDanWe love the cover of Edith’s latest Local Food Mystery, Farmed and Dangerous. And how could we not talk about cats with that cute cat on the cover?

So Wickeds have you ever owned a cat? More than one? Had a favorite?

Edith: That cute cat is the artist’s rendition of our real-life cat, Preston. (Robin Moline is a fabulous cover artist, by the way.) Preston is our senior cat, a Norwegian Forest Cat, and the sweetest kitty ever. He’s gorgeous, a little dim, looks at you and asks to be petted while he eats (just like in the Prestononchairbooks), and has a teeny-tiny meow. He has two layers of fur, so he loves to sit outside in the rain, on the snow, and also in the heat – lately under the peony bush. We have two other feline darlings at home, and I’ve had a half dozen others in the past, but I’m delighted to be able to include Mr. P in my series.

Liz: Preston is a doll! As for me – you have to ask?? I’ll spare you from posting all of them, because that would be a really long blog post, but here’s a picture of Tuffy, my Maine coon cat who was the impetus for Nutty in the Pawsitively OrganTuffyic Mysteries. Tuffy wandered into the backyard one day and has never left. He’s a typical Maine coon – a little snooty, very handsome and extremely smart. Oh, and did I mention demanding? But who can resist that face?

Julie: My sweet Ashley, who looked a lot like Tuffy, passed this past January. I will say, I think she was sweet, but she was very mindful and hated other cats, liked my nieces, and loved me. She tolerated the rest of the world.. I adopted her when she was 10, so only had 4 1/2 years together, but I do miss her. I am currently cat sitting for my sister, while some work is being done on her house. Joey and Gilbert are sweethearts, but bundles of trouble. I keep looking up,and finding them navigating through picture frames, or amongst tchotchkes on a shelf. I am definitely a cat person.

Jessie: We had a cat when I was a child that appeared in our barn and immediately became an important part of the family. We had just moved and I had yet to make friends. Boo filled a huge void, for which I was very grateful.

Sherry: I’m allergic to cats but when we lived in Florida an outdoor cat named Lucy lived across the street. Before she lived across the street she’d lived up the street and left that home when they got a new kitten. Our neighbors across the street took in a stray and Lucy moved to our house. She was a beautiful white and gray cat who loved being outdoors. The first fictional cat I loved was from the Thomasina from the Disney movie The Three Lives of Thomasina.

Barb: The cat of my adolescent and teenage years was Roo. She lived in the house next door with a widowed neighbor and her teenage daughter. Roo was already sharing space with a German shepherd when the older daughter in the family moved home to stay while her husband was in Viet Nam, bringing two toddlers and another German shepherd. Roo decided she’d had enough and moved to our house. It was her decision, not ours, but she lived with us for a decade. My first and only cat was Flash. I got her while I was in college after a particularly bad series of breakups and make ups with a boyfriend who was allergic. Flash was my insurance that the last breakup would stick. I told my parents getting her was “my first adult decision.” They laughed so hard they cried. But Flash stayed on through the arrival of my husband and my kids. (And was always happy to remind them that she was there first.)

Readers: Have you ever loved a cat — real or fictional?