Guest Blogger – Vicki Vass

Why I write

Hi, Ladies of Mystery, thanks for letting me drop by and share some of my story with your readers. I thought I’d start by introducing myself. My name is Vicki Vass, and I write two different cozy mystery series, The Antique Hunter’s Mystery, and Witch Cat Mysteries.

My writing journey started very early actually almost as soon as I could read. I was a precocious child. So when I was four years old and saw my older brother reading a book, I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I read everything from cereal boxes to billboards to newspapers to books. It wasn’t long after that I decided I wanted to write. I wrote short stories through grade school, often killing off all the characters because I didn’t know how to end the story. I adapted the books Caddie Woodlawn and Alice in Wonderland into plays that my friends and I performed in our suburban Chicago neighborhood.

When it came time to go to college, I wanted to major in English and become a fiction writer. My uncle, a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, encouraged me to major in journalism, stating that there was more career opportunities. I ended up in journalism and knew it was the right path for me. At my college, I covered government for my daily newspaper and also was able to write some feature articles.

Following college, I wrote for community newspapers until moving to the Chicago Tribune, first as a freelancer and later as a staff writer for special sections. I covered everything from city councils, library boards, artists and community festivals. It was a wonderful experience and taught me how to write fast under deadline pressure. As newspapers began to decline, I moved on to social media and into my current full-time path as an editor of a medical journal.

Working for a peer-reviewed medical journal means that I don’t write nor do I edit. I found myself missing writing so one day I took pen to paper and drafted a story which eventually became Murder for Sale, the first book in my Antique Hunter Mystery series. I loosely based the two lead characters, Anne and CC, on my close friends and our weekend adventures antique hunting together. That book was a finalist in the Mystery and Mayhem contest, and the sixth book in the series, A White Rabbit’s Tale, will be released in winter 2019.

While the characters were originally based on my two close friends, the characters have developed their own unique storylines and personality traits. Now the characters live outside of the real individuals.

The stories also focus on a historical element usually centered around a significant antique. That’s where reality ends and fiction takes over. The historical elements are a tribute to my father who taught American history and government for 30 years in the Chicago Public School District. He taught me to study and respect history.

As the series has evolved, I have found my passion for writing fiction to be restored, and I cannot wait to start the next story. My only shortage is time.

Thanks again for letting me stop by!

Vicki Vass

Vicki Vass gave up her reporter’s notebook to chronicle the near real-life adventures of her two best friends and fellow antique hunters. Like the fictional Anne, Vicki enjoys shopping and is always in the hunt for the next great deal. When not writing, Vicki can be found walking her two Australian shepherd puppies, Atticus and Tracker. She writes about her reading and adventures on her blog vickiscozycorner.com.  

Social media Facebook.com/vickivassauthorTwitter:@vickivass

Guest Blogger- Baird Nuckolls

Researching My Historical Novel

By Baird Nuckolls, author of “Shattered Angel, Morelli’s Private Inquiries, Book 1”

My new novel, Shattered Angel, is set in New York City in 1923. While millions of people have been to New York, even more have seen it in movies, television or photographs. You may feel like you know New York, but I want you to know New York back in the days when my story is set. The Roaring Twenties were a time of great change in society and technology. Society was recovering from the first world war; women had more freedoms, Prohibition had an impact on society’s activities, new jazz music was the rage and new inventions were changing daily life forever.

Doing research is as important as plotting the mystery. You can spend hours or days finding out things that may never make it into the book. For example, we think of the radio as being pretty ubiquitous. Yes, the radio was invented in the late 1800’s, the first radio broadcasts happened in 1906 and the first radio station opened in Philadelphia in 1920. But in 1923, there were few radio stations, fewer programs, and the radios themselves were expensive. So, my detective, Morelli, does NOT have a radio that he can listen to it at night, as he might be doing if the year was 1926 or 1927. Those few years make all the difference.

Another little thing that needed a lot of research was cigarettes. If you watch old movies, everyone smoked like chimneys and pre-rolled cigarettes had become popular during WWI, when they were shipped to the troops overseas. They’d even become popular with women in the 1920’s and the long cigarette holders became a major fashion accessory, in part to keep ash off their clothes and prevent their hats from catching fire, but also to look sophisticated. However, there was still a cost factor. Morelli continues to smoke hand rolled cigarettes because it’s cheaper and he would rather spend his money on whiskey. Telephones were available, including pay phones, but deciding who would have one and who wouldn’t, was part of my initial research as well.

The original genesis of the story came from two articles in the NYTimes. One was about a rum-running tugboat seized by government agents and some missing drugs. The other was about a payroll robbery on the subway. As the story continued to develop, I read more and more of the newspapers of the day and decided to add things to the plot. Stories about the politics, including the mayor and the commissions came straight from the pages of the news. The Jack Dempsey heavyweight title fight was a huge event in 1923. I even found film footage of the fight on YouTube, so that I was able to accurately describe the experience of being there.

Ultimately, these details are what make the story feel like it’s set in a real place. The characters are mostly fictional and the story is my own creation, but New York City is alive and truly a character in its own right.

SHATTERED  ANGEL

Set amid the growing roar of the 1920’s, a beautiful young flapper named Angel has hired Adriano Morelli, an ex-cop turned private detective, to follow her cheating husband. When Morelli steps into the rarified hush of a Fifth Avenue apartment looking for his client, what he discovers changes the stakes of the game.  

He now has a murder to solve while staying one step ahead of the cops. And with a history of failure, especially when it comes to beautiful women, Morelli is hoping to redeem himself for past sins. From the Cotton Club and the city’s speakeasies to the Polo Grounds where heavyweight Jack Dempsey faces his greatest opponent, the life of New York City comes right off the pages of the newspapers of the day in this riveting historical mystery. 

Buy  Links: Amazon EbookPaperback

Baird Nuckolls has had a multifaceted career, from banking to baking. In addition to writing, she has been a partner and editor for The Wives of Bath Press, as well as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. She has previously published short stories, as well as a middle grade novel, “The Dragons of Graham.” She lives in Seattle and Orcas Island, Washington with her husband. 

Website: bairdnuckolls.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/baird.nuckolls 

Author Central

Guest Blogger- Daisy Pettles

Why I Write a Humorous Cozy Mystery Series for Feisty Older Ladies

Here’s a mystery for you … a study by Sisters in Crime, a professional women writers mystery and crime association, found that the vast majority of mystery readers are women. Moreover, 71% of the genre’s readers are 50 or older. (Source Link:https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.sistersincrime.org/resource/resmgr/imported/ConsumerBuyingBookReport.pdf)

The mystery? Why is it, then, that the leading lady of the cozy mystery today is a baby-faced, early career, 30-something, rather than a mature, perhaps somewhat disgruntled, widowed or divorced, half-retired woman of 50+ years?

I turned 60 this year, and I read like a demon, devouring novels like M&M’s. Why, I wondered, was my feisty generation—all prime readers for Pete’s sake—so invisible in women’s mystery fiction today?

I found myself agreeing with one sister in crime writer, Dianne Harman,  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dianne-harman/boomer-reads_b_3210208.html, who mused in 2013 that, “[Boomer Lit] is the most overlooked, underwritten genre out there.”

OK, so the term “baby boomer lit” has gotten a bad rap. Much of that is justified. The indie market is awash with badly written “boomer” novels that feature highly forgettable “senior sleuths,” seeking second chances in the confines of gated retirement villages.

Too much of this lit pounds home a “sundowner” theme – think cancer, moving into assisted living, fighting over men with competing ladies in Leisure Village – OR a “second chance” theme. Think “widower dares to date again” or “the search for the one that got away.”

Problem. I don’t see my life as in need of “second chances.” I see it as more of what it always has been: a bit of a hair-raising adventure. Why not, I thought, write about cantankerous, every day women who are aging, but who are also busy having a go at life, every morning, pretty much as they always have?

Oldsters are as varied as youngsters (really, they are). Being of the mind that if there’s a problem it’s my responsibility to engineer a solution – a great notion from the 70’s when I first hit the road out of high school — I began to create a new crime comedy series loaded with oldsters of all varieties.

In my new amateur detective series, The Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, the protagonists are lifelong gal pals, ages 67 and 71, living in small town Indiana. They share a house, a 1960 Chevy, and reluctant custody of grown children who still reside in their basement.

One in particular (Veenie) has been a lifelong snoop. The other (Ruby Jane) has great computer skills. For them, the decision to punch a time clock post-retirement as sleuths with the Harry Shades Detective Agency is as much a way to exercise their curiosity as it is a path to supplementing their social security.

Back in the 90’s the TV drama “Golden Girls,” about older widowed and divorced women sharing a home and laughter, broke through ageism to show that the closing chapters of life can be as varied and exciting as the beginning and middle. I believe that there remains pent up demand for older, feisty women characters in the cozy mystery niche.

My goal in creating the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, with Book 3, The Chickenlandia Mystery, coming out as this is posted, is to update the cozy to better serve publishing’s core reading demographic by creating books that mirror the more diverse evolving lives of Boomer women like me.

Like all publishing undertakings, it is up to the cosmos to decide if the series will find a readership, but a few stars do seem to be aligning. The Shady Hoosiers’ debut book, Ghost Busting Mystery, has thus far won three Best Indie Humor Book Awards and two Best Indie Cozy Mystery Book Awards,

In the end, I write what I want to read. There has never been a more active, curious, diverse, witty, kick-ass generation of women. Why not gift ourselves leisure reading that reflects this?

Author Daisy Pettles

Daisy Pettles was born in southern Indiana, in a tiny river town. As a child, she was fed a steady diet of books, pies, and Bible stories. Her debut cozy series, the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, crime comedies set in fictional Pawpaw County, Indiana, won the 2019 Gold Medal as Best Humor Book from the Indie Reader, The Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and the American Fiction Awards. Visit her anytime at https://www.daisypettles.com

CONTACT: Daisy@daisypettles.com

TWITTER: @DaisyPettles

FB: https://www.facebook.com/daisypettles

WEB: https://www.daisypettles.com

Amazon Buy Links:

Ghost Busting Mystery (Book 1)

Baby Daddy Mystery (Book 2)

Chickenlandia Mystery (Book 3)

Guest Blogger: N. M. Cedeño

Bad Vibes Removal Services: A Genre-Confused Mystery Series

Many of my stories are genre-confused. As the author, obviously this is my fault. If I would stay in one category, then I could easily describe my work by genre: Mystery or Science Fiction or Fantasy. But my brain doesn’t work that way, which is why my first published murder mystery was in a hard science fiction magazine. When I write, my brain sometimes jumps into the future, or throws in ghosts, or creates impossible technological inventions. Doing all of those things at once resulted in the Bad Vibes Removal Services series.

The Bad Vibes series began with a short story set in the near-future, featuring Montgomery, a genius inventor, entrepreneur, lawyer, and private detective. He’d invented scanners to find sound wave patterns left in walls at the atomic level. His invention could detect and identify a record of conversations and noises left in walls. While he was working on this, Montgomery found another set of patterns, absorbed emotional imprints from pain, anger, depression, joy, and a host of other emotions.

Montgomery can uncover conversations between criminals and detect deceit where things are hidden. But, he can’t sell his equipment to law enforcement if courts won’t accept his findings as evidence. Since he could both read and obliterate the patterns left in walls, Montgomery created a side business to make his inventions a household name and speed acceptance by law enforcement. Bad Vibes Removal Services was born.

Who needs Bad Vibes Removal Service? Everyone who ever moved into a pre-owned house or apartment. Does your new-to-you home feel creepy? Sad? Anxious? Maybe the previous occupant was going through a divorce or serious illness.

One of Montgomery’s employees at Bad Vibes Removal Services is a history graduate student named Lea who grew up seeing ghosts. She could always sense the history of buildings as a lingering emotional imprint or via sudden visions, echoes from the past. So, she enjoys making homes more livable for people who are sensitive to emotional atmosphere. By infusing static into the walls, Lea can reset the atmosphere in a room, erasing the lingering history, making the space comfortable again… most of the time.

Resets fail when a ghost, the source of the emotions, is present. Then, Lea communicates with the ghost while she and her coworker Kamika help Montgomery investigate. Crimes are uncovered and villains are revealed. Sometimes spirits are helpful. Sometimes, they’re malevolent.

From one short story, this genre-confused series bloomed to include (so far) eight short stories and two novels. The first novel, The Walls Can Talk, is set in an Irish castle that’s been moved to central Texas, resident ghost included. The second novel, Degrees of Deceit, was just released and is set mainly in a haunted dorm on a University of Texas campus.

When people ask me what I write, I tell them ‘mysteries’ to keep it simple. If they ask for more, I get to explain my genre-mashing tendencies. Generally, I call the Bad Vibes series ‘paranormal mysteries’ and I enjoy writing them. If you like a spooky chill along with a mystery, maybe you’ll enjoy reading them too.

Degrees of Deceit

The Bad Vibes Removal Services crew is back in a sequel to The Walls Can Talk!

A college prankster is making life hellish for the freshmen residents of Dellonmarsh Dorm on a University of Texas campus. The sleep-deprived students are spooked by the time Montgomery Investigations arrives on the scene to track down the prank-playing vandal who comes and goes like a ghost. Rumors say a benevolent ghost haunts the residence hall, but these treacherous tricks are anything but benevolent. As the pranks escalate from obnoxious noises in the night to poisons and more dangerous threats, investigators Lea, Kamika, and their boss, Montgomery, work to identify a perpetrator who lurks in the shadows.

Buy Links:

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.

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N. M. Cedeño currently lives near Austin, Texas. She writes mystery short stories and novels that vary from traditional to romantic suspense, and from paranormal to science fiction. She is active in Sisters in Crime, Heart of Texas Chapter, having served as chapter vice president and president. Ms. Cedeño has written several standalone short stories and novels as well as the Bad Vibes Removal Services paranormal mystery series.

Author Central:   amazon.com/author/nmcedeno

Website: nmcedeno.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/N-M-Cedeno-1303414606459806/

Landing page for the book: http://nmcedeno.com/degrees-of-deceit/

Publisher’s announcement: https://www.luckybatbooks.com/2019/08/lucky-bat-releases-n-m-cedenos-newest-paranormal-mystery/

Guest Blogger: Greta Boris

In answer to the question: How did you come up with the idea to write about the seven deadly sins?

I love suspense, especially psychological suspense that revolves around regular people, the kind who live next door, or work in the next cubicle. I can’t get enough of Lisa Scottoline’s, Harlan Coben’s, Ruth Ware’s, or Shari Lapena’s suburban noir novels.

I also love book series. If I’m drawn into a fictional world, I want to return to it over and over. I’m a big fan of C.J. Box, Lincoln and Child, and Linda Castillo. But if you notice, the three authors I just named all write about a detective. Box’s protagonist is a park ranger, Lincoln and Child’s an FBI agent, and Castillo’s is a sheriff.

How could I do both? Write a “what would you do if you ran into a dead body?” kind of story that was also a series? It’s hard to sell the idea that a real estate agent, or a chef, or a Pilates instructor would bump into more than one murderer in a lifetime. Hence the reason most domestic thrillers are standalones.

My Oprah Moment:

One day I was talking to a friend about besetting sins, or what I refer to as “our personal BS.” You know, those negative thought patterns, those special lies, that trip us up when we run into turbulent waters. We all have one we struggle with more than the others.

A light bulb went on. “What if,” I said, “I wrote a suspense series that explored each of the seven deadly sins and set it in the world I know best—Orange County, California. The hero of the next book in series could be introduced in the previous. Characters could make appearances in novels other than their story of origin as needed.

My friend loved the idea, so I went with it. I knew I’d have at least one reader.

Thank goodness she wasn’t the only one who loved it. I was picked up by Fawkes Press in Texas with a two book deal and first right of refusal on the rest. The Color of Envy, the book on preorder as I write this (August, 2019) is book 4.

The thing my readers comment on most is the relatability of my characters. My protagonists are all ordinary women with normal lives trying to make it in careers you and I know something about. A Margin of Lust features a real estate agent. The Scent of Wrath is about a single mom running the gift shop inside a Pilates studio. The protagonist in The Sanctity of Sloth is a school librarian who has publishing aspirations. The new book, The Color of Envy, revolves around an interior designer. Each of them is challenged by murder.

If, according to Lisa Cron, we read to help us vicariously tackle dilemma’s and dangers before they come, my stories solve a common problem. No one wants to meet a corpse or a killer unprepared.

All the fortress’s inhabitants have been rich, reclusive, and mysterious.

It has tantalized Rosie Ring for years. When horror writer Jacob Rinehart purchases the large stone house on the cliffs and hires her to redecorate, it seems like a dream come true. But Rinehart is living a nightmare. A woman has been killed in the same manner as the victims in his latest book.

Gruesome deaths, disturbing artwork, and red-soled shoes litter the opulent landscape of Laguna Beach, California. Everyone close to Rosie is hiding something, and one of those secrets leads to death.

If you loved Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, or Shari Lapena’s An Unwanted Guest, Greta Boris’s The Color of Envy should be right up your dark alley. Get a copy and enter the world of The Seven Deadly Sins—Standalone Novels of Psychological Suspense.

A tale of suburban suspense that will keep you turning pages. – Matt Coyle, author of the Anthony Award-winning Rick Cahill series

Buy Link for The Color of Envy: https://www.amazon.com/Color-Envy-Seven-Deadly-Sins-ebook/dp/B07SXR1HZW

Greta Boris is the author of A Margin of Lust, The Scent of Wrath, The Sanctity of Sloth, and The Color of Envy, the first four books in The 7 Deadly Sins. Ordinary women. Unexpected Evil. Taut psychological thrillers that expose the dark side of sunny Southern California.

She’s a popular conference speaker and the Amazon Kindle bestselling nonfiction author of The Wine and Chocolate Workout – Sip, Savor, and Strengthen for a Healthier Life. 

You can visit her at http://gretaboris.com. She describes her work (and her life) as an O.C. housewife meets Dante’s Inferno. 

Guest Blogger- Susan Cory

How I come up with the plots for my amateur sleuth mystery series.

Have you ever wondered what could happen if you didn’t totally wipe your hard drive before getting rid of your old computer? Or what could happen if any of the blank checks sent by credit cards fell into the wrong hands?

I live in a close-knit community in Cambridge, Ma. Most of us know Joe, our long-time mail deliverer, and he knows us. So when Joe was instructed to forward a certain household’s mail to an address in a neighboring town, he knew that the family hadn’t moved. He alerted the police who discovered a ring of con artists who were diverting people’s mail in order to steal their identities and checks.

While this scam was coming to light, I was busy trying to figure out how to get rid of my old computer.  Some computer stores and charities advertise that they’ll remove your personal information before recycling your old equipment, but what if one of their employees is less than honest?

These two ideas came together to suggest a plot for my third book in the Iris Reid mystery series, DOPPELGANGER. A family of grifters uses Iris Reid’s stolen identity to commit a crime. While stripping Iris’ data off of her old computer, Rosica Bakalov, notices her own striking resemblance to this new “mark”. She becomes fascinated with Iris and starts to stalk her. Meanwhile, Iris, out on bail, is desperate to pick up her doppellgänger’s trail before her case goes to trial.

Kirkus reviews says: “The plot becomes more unnerving as it progresses, and an impressive twist leads to a lengthy final act featuring Rosica (the Doppelgänger) at her most ferocious…Cory’s concise prose establishes a consistent pace that never wavers, and even her descriptions of architecture are exhilarating. An engagingly nerve-wracking tale with gradually escalating suspense.”

I’d love to know how YOU get rid of your old computers, and also, what you think of DOPPELGANGER.

By the way, my husband smashed my hard drive with a hammer before I took my last computer to be recycled. I wasn’t taking any chances…

Let me know on my author’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/authorsusancory

or check out my author’s website: http://www.susancory.com/

CONUNDRUM, FACADE and DOPPELGANGER are all available here:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075V2LWNX/

Susan Cory is the author of the Iris Reid mystery series of Conundrum, Façade and Doppelgänger. She is a member of Sisters in Crime National, a local member of Sisters in Crime New England, and a regular attendee at Crime Bake. Like her sleuth, she is a residential architect practicing out of her turreted office in Cambridge. Also, like Iris Reid, she has a brown belt in karate. She lives in Cambridge with her architect husband and a bossy mutt.

Why I Write Mysteries by Saralyn Richard

Guest blogger banner

I love reading and writing in all genres. I’ve taught creative writing to high schoolers and adults, and I’ve rarely met a story or a writer that I didn’t enjoy getting to know, but when it comes to writing novels of my own, I choose to write mysteries. I could tell you the reasons have to do with suspense and tension, tight plots, clues, character motivations, themes of good vs. evil, or other such elements, but the truth is simpler.

I love mysteries, because in no other genre is the connection between reader and writer so vivid. When an author lays out a mystery, she is ever-mindful of the reader. She unfolds the crime and investigation clue by clue, scene by scene, in a sometimes tortuous path toward solution. She hopes that the reader is traveling along the path, enjoying the adventure every step of the way. If she plants a clue in one chapter, will the thoughtful reader recall it in a subsequent chapter? Will the red herrings be identified as such? The author hopes to strike the perfect balance between foreshadowing and surprise, so the reader is captivated and delighted.

Every single time a reader responds to one of my books, I feel a new thrill, as if seeing the story through new eyes creates a wholly new perspective, one that I may never have considered before. A mystery is an invitation to the reader to come along with the detective, to match wits with the criminal, to bring his own clever ideas to bear upon solving the puzzle. The synergy created by the author-reader partnership is intellectually and emotionally stimulating and rewarding.

In MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, a group of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful elite gather for a birthday party in the lush, peaceful Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania. When one of them is killed, and almost everyone has a motive, young Detective Oliver Parrott realizes this will be the case to challenge his intellect and to test his moral compass. Figuring out who comes to the party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket becomes an active mental exercise for the reader. As the author, I am literally one step ahead of the reader, leading him by the hand, with an enigmatic smile on my face.

Book Blurb:

Final cover w quoteSomeone comes to the party with murder in their heart and poison in their pocket…

A powerful and rich playboy, a rare but naturally occurring poison, a newly divorced woman with an axe to grind, and pressure from the former President of the US—these are just a few of the challenges that African-American Detective Oliver Parrott faces when he answers a routine call for back-up and discovers someone died at a country estate the morning after an elaborate birthday party. When Parrott learns the deceased is the wealthy former US Secretary of the Treasury and just about everyone at the party had a motive to kill him, he realizes this will be the investigation to make—or break—his career.

Buy Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Murder-One-Percent-Saralyn-Richard/dp/1626947716/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1517072668&sr=8-2&keywords=murder+in+the+one+percent

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murder-in-the-one-percent-saralyn-richard/1127890200?ean=9781626947719

https://black-opal-books.myshopify.com/products/murder-in-the-one-percent

http://www.saralynrichard.com/bookstore/ 

Author Bio:

Galveston Author Saralyn RichardAward-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard, is a writer who teaches on the side. Her children’s picture book, Naughty Nana, has reached thousands of children worldwide.

Murder in the One Percent, ©2018 Black Opal Books, pulls back the curtain on the privileged and powerful rich. Set on a gentleman’s farm in Pennsylvania and in the tony areas of New York, the book introduces Detective Oliver Parrott, who matches wits with the country’s elite.

A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn has  completed the sequel to Murder in the One Percent, entitled A Palette for Murder. Her standalone mystery, A Murder of Principal, will be released soon. Her website is www.saralynrichard.com. 

Social Media Links:

My author’s website is http://www.saralynrichard.com. https://www.facebook.com/saralyn.richard,

https://www.twitter.com/SaralynRichard,

https://www.linkedin.com/in/saralyn-richard-b06b6355/,

https://www.pinterest.com/saralynrichard/,

https://www.instagram.com/naughty_nana_sheepdog/ and https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7338961.Saralyn_Richard.

I am available to meet with book clubs and organization members. Contact me at saralyn@saralynrichard.com.