Guest Post: Emily C. Whitson – BENEATH THE MARIGOLDS

Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. We’re almost at the end of another week and I hope you have great plans to get in some reading this weekend. Have you ever wondered why some readers are only attracted to fiction vs. nonfiction and vice versa? Or why some readers only want to read stories with a HEA (happy ever after) and others want blood, guts, and lots of fighting in their stories? I’ve often pondered this query and then took it a step further and asked myself, why are some authors drawn to writing romance and others horror? I’m incredibly honored to present to you, Emily C. Whitson, author of Beneath the Marigolds today. Ms. Whitson will be answering one of my questions today from her perspective, writing what you like. Thank you, Ms. Whitson, for taking the time to join us today. I hope your graduate studies are going well. So readers, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back, and visit with me and Ms. Whitson for awhile. (Psst…I hope you’ll take some time to follow the blog tour and add Beneath the Marigolds to your TBR list!)

Write What You Like

By Emily C. Whitson

You’ve probably heard the phrase “write what you know.” It’s a popular adage for new and aspiring writers. Yet, while writing about personal experiences does remove the research aspect of writing, I don’t always agree with it. In my experience, it’s more helpful to write about what I like. What do I find interesting? What do I want to learn more about? What lights my fire?

The truth of the matter is: I love pop culture. In particular, I love reality dating shows, like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. What a fascinating idea to let one woman date twenty-five men and pick one to marry in six weeks — that is insanity!

I think a lot of people assume I don’t like reality dating shows, as my book critiques some aspects of the experience, but I really enjoy them. I don’t always agree with the end goal and the means of getting there, but I think it’s a fun and entertaining idea — a perfect setting for a writer’s imagination. I mean, is it just me, or has anyone else ever watched a reality dating show and thought: that girl’s gonna get murdered? The stakes are high, the emotions are high; the characters drink too much and eat too little. It’s a perfect recipe for conflict, which is at the heart of every good story.

And this leads me to my next interest: crime. I love crime stories. I can talk to you all day about true crime podcasts and Law and Order: SVU. At one point in my life, I may have been embarrassed to say this. What sane person is intrigued by murder?

Luckily for me, others seem to share in my fascination, so I feel more comfortable discussing it. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I believe part of the interest is due to the human psychology behind crime. Why do people act the way they do? What drives them to the edge? What forces in society contribute to crime? I think we’re drawn to what we don’t understand, and for me, that’s unforgivable acts of violence, like murder. Storytelling helps me better comprehend and explore that topic.

While writing can be a tool for self exploration, it’s a fallacy to only write what you know; that’s like only reading books about yourself. Part of the magic of storytelling is the human connection it builds — the ability to learn about other experiences, other lives, other viewpoints. Intelligence, to me, is not the ability to steadfastly and single-mindedly argue a point. Rather, I believe true genius is being able to hold two opposing ideas in one’s head and see both sides of the coin.

So forget about the old adage, and write about what interests you. For me, I’ll continue to explore the intersection of pop culture and crime, the dark side of celebrity and Hollywood glamour. And I’ll have a great time doing it.

Beneath the Marigolds

by Emily C. Whitson

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson

Playing on our universal fascination with reality TV, Emily C. Whitson’s Beneath the Marigolds is The Bachelor(ette) gone terribly wrong.

When her best friend, Reese Marigold, goes missing after attending Last Chance, an exclusive singles’ retreat on a remote island off the coast of Hawaii, no-nonsense lawyer Ann Stone infiltrates the retreat.

Ann quickly realizes there’s more to Last Chance than meets the eye. The extravagant clothes, never-ending interviews, and bizarre dates hint that the retreat is a front for a reality dating show. Could Reese be safe, keeping a low profile until the premier, or did something sinister occur after all?

Torn between the need to uncover the truth and her desperate desire to get off the island, Ann partakes in the unusual routines of the “journey to true love” and investigates the other attendees who all have something to hide. In a final attempt to find Reese on the compound, she realizes that she herself may never get off the island alive.

Praise for Beneath the Marigolds:

“Cleverly plotted…Whitson’s debut novel is an intriguing new entry in the women’s suspense genre, driven by dual first-person narrators and tension-filled parallel timelines.”— Carmen Amato, Silver Falchion Award Finalist and author of The Detective Emilia Cruz Mystery Series

“Exhilarating twists and turns…a fast-paced psychological thriller that mashes up the reality series The Bachelor with Gone Girl.” — Helen Power, author of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place

“A fun, propulsive read…this book cleverly combines the archetypes of “reality TV” and the “trapped-on-a-remote-island” mystery that will perpetually keep you guessing.” — Marcy McCreary, author of The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Psychological
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: September 21st 2021
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 0744304202 (ISBN13: 9780744304206)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Emily C. Whitson

Emily Whitson received a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked as a marketing copywriter for six years before pursuing a career in fiction and education. She is currently getting her M.Ed. at Vanderbilt University, where she writes between classes. She is particularly passionate about women’s education and female stories. This interest stems from her time at Harpeth Hall, an all-girls college preparatory school in Nashville, Tennessee. When she isn’t volunteering, writing, or in the classroom, Emily can usually be found with her dog, Hoss, in one of Nashville’s various parks. Beneath the Marigolds is her debut novel.

Catch Up With Emily C. Whitson:
EmilyCWhitson.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @emilycwhitson_author
Instagram – @emilycwhitson
Facebook – @emilycwhitson

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
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Join In:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Emily C. Whitson and CamCat Books. There will be 1 winner of one (1) print edition of Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson (US, Canada, and UK Only). The giveaway runs October 1 through November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: THE RESURRECTION OF FULGENCIO RAMIREZ by Rudy Ruiz

THE RESURRECTION OF FULGENCIO RAMIREZ - RRuiz

The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez by Rudy Ruiz
ISBN: 9781982604615 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781665088121 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781982604639 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781982604271 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781982604233 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B086FN3RZR (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B085YGFRZR (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: October 12, 2021 (paperback release)
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Magical Realism | Fantasy | Latino Literature

In the 1950s, tensions remain high in the border town of La Frontera. Penny loafers and sneakers clash with boots and huaraches. Bowling shirts and leather jackets compete with guayaberas. Convertibles fend with motorcycles. Yet amidst the discord, young love blooms at first sight between Fulgencio Ramirez, the son of impoverished immigrants, and Carolina Mendelssohn, the local pharmacist’s daughter. But as they’ll soon find out, their bonds will be undone by a force more powerful than they could have known.

Thirty years after their first fateful encounter, Fulgencio Ramirez, RPh, is conducting his daily ritual of reading the local obituaries in his cramped pharmacy office. After nearly a quarter of a century of waiting, Fulgencio sees the news he’s been hoping for: his nemesis, the husband of Carolina Mendelssohn, has died.

A work of magical realism, The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez weaves together the past and present as Fulgencio strives to succeed in America, break a mystical family curse, and win back Carolina’s love after their doomed youthful romance. Through enchanting language and meditations about the porous nature of borders—cultural, geographic, and otherworldly—The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez offers a vision of how the past has divided us, and how the future could unite us.

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

1986

ONE

The obituaries were always the first thing he turned to in the newspaper. He started doing it the day he learned she’d married another man. There in the still cool blue of the breaking dawn, in the shadowy, unlit recesses of his dank and dusty old drugstore, he sat high behind the elevated counter, perched on the ripped vinyl cushion of an old stool. He wiped his black horn-rimmed reading glasses on his white guayabera. First the left lens. Then the right. He plopped them firmly on the prominent arch of his hawk-like nose. As was his habit, one he learned from his grandfather (God bless his soul), he licked his left index finger religiously before turning each page. Although he knew from experience that the obituary section would be buried in the back, he still worked his way slowly through the town rag. World news, the national scene, sports: all he had lost interest in about twenty-five years earlier. The feeling of suspense coiled tightly in his chest, his heart beating a little harder as he paged to the last section, the one with the obituaries at the end. But still, he flipped methodically through the broad sheets. Floods, murders, elections: All these were irrelevant to him. All that mattered was the tiny newsprint on the last page, but still he flipped through . . . just in case the death he was waiting for had miraculously made the headlines.

For years he had wondered—sitting there beyond the fortress-like barrier of the pharmacy counter, in the shadows of the sun rising over the gleaming dome of Market Square—how the news would come. Would the man die suddenly of a massive heart attack? Would he be struck by one of the city buses that careened past his storefront day after day? Or would it come slowly? Would cancer or liver disease silently suck the life from his withering body? He did, after all, have a reputation for drinking tequila and smoking cigarettes of the filterless kind.

Or would he be killed purposefully by another man, a man bearing a grudge, perhaps? The husband of one of his jilted lovers, one of his putas or queridas. In the end it wouldn’t matter how or why. All that mattered was when. And when the time came, he had told himself for years, he would not shed a tear for the man he once called his friend, for the boy he once ran with on the streets of La Frontera. No señor. Miguel Rodriguez Esparza deserved whatever pain the blessed Virgen de Guadalupe saw fit to send his way. He was a two-faced traitor. He had been a pampered little pretty boy his entire life. He had lied and cheated to steal his love when their youth was in full bloom, when their blood was still on fire for this adventure he once thought was life. And then he had betrayed the most holy of sacraments, his own ill-fated and ill-conceived marriage, with his womanizing and his gambling and his never-ending hypocrisy. Even though over the multitude of squandered years, he had come to realize that Miguelito was not solely to blame for his suffering, he still welcomed his old friend’s death like the survivor of a heinous crime awaiting the final verdict and punishment of his or her assailant. No mercy for Miguel, the opportunist who had profited from—and cultivated—his misfortune. No, no señor. He doubted many tears would be shed at all when the twenty-two stinking letters in Miguelito’s putrid name finally dried in black ink on the obituary page. Twenty-two: “M-i-g-u-e-l R-o-d-r-i-g-u-e-z E-s-p-a-r-z-a.”

He lifted the penultimate page in the section to reveal his destination.

“Obituaries,” the bold black letters sprawled across the top. Some scattered pictures. More than usual for a Wednesday.

“Maria de la Luz Villarreal, dead at the age of eighty-three . . .” La Señora Villearreal, hmm, better send flowers. That woman had been special, hadn’t she?

“Dagoberto ‘Beto’ Treviño, dead at the age of fifty-five . . .” It was about time, the quack had been stealing the nest eggs from viejitas for years, long after he forgot whatever it was he learned in that medical school down in Panama. Viejo sinvergüenza. There was no question where he was headed.

“José Pescador . . . dead at the age of seventeen . . .” Dios mio, his thick, black brows furrowed at the thought. Why so many dead teenagers in this once sleepy town? But he knew the answer all too well. It shared a dirty five-letter name with the legitimate versions sitting in bottles on the shelves right behind him. Las drogas. Drugs. No self-respecting pharmacist called himself a druggist anymore.

And then . . . there, below the pregnant teen mother killed by her enraged boyfriend (of course, they never gave the true story in the paper, but over the years he had learned how to read between the lines), and right above Doña Eufemia Clotilde de la Paz San Cristóbal, was an almost pathetic entry. One that he might have missed on any other day were it not for a bright reflection of the morning light bouncing off a passing bus, hitting his pharmacy degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and flashing ephemerally over a paragraph simply starved for words. His eyes blurred in disbelief at the sight of the name, and his left hand clutched hard at his chest as he leaned into the paper to stumble over the phrases. “Dead at the age of forty-six. Survived by his wife.” No children. No pallbearers. His hands quivered as the paper slipped from his fingers, floating like a parachute toward his feet. No picture. No excuses. No glory. Just twenty-two letters sitting on the floor of the funereal drugstore. His glasses cracked when they fell on the tile.

Dazed, he searched his stunned mind for what to do next. For the first time in what seemed like forever, he would vary from his routine. There was no time to line up a relief pharmacist. He simply had to close the store for the day. His daily parade of viejitos and charity cases would no doubt be surprised by his absence. He had kept that store open religiously for two dozen years since he roared back into town with his papelito in hand. His little paper. The diploma, which kept vigil behind the counter, hung on the side of a shelf. Work was all he had known. Filling prescriptions. Helping the needy. Dispensing herbs when the Medicaid gave out. And now he stood mute and dumbfounded, gawking at himself—as if he were contemplating a complete stranger—in the small mirror over the porcelain pedestal sink in the corner. He watched himself lower his tan Stetson hat over his wavy, black mane. His hazel eyes squinted as he straightened out his thick mustache. His image passed like a translucent ghost across the glass pane of his storefront door swinging shut. Bus brakes exhaled their squeaking lament. And the doors to City Hall creaked open across the street as the beggars and drunks skulked into the ancient alleyways. In his khaki overcoat and matching hat, he stepped through the mist of his own breath like a smoldering beast rekindled and unleashed on that crisp December morning. He moved with an elegant determination past merchants sweeping their doorsteps. Their puzzled faces turned to follow him. Doing the mental math, it dawned on him that this morning marked twenty-five years since the day he lost her. And now, she was free again.

Turning the corner, Fulgencio noted the presence of Maria de la Luz Villarreal. Appearing sixty years younger than in her obituary photo, she accompanied her weeping daughter on a wrought iron bench beneath the Spanish arches of Market Square. Weighing whether to pay his respects, he decided it was more respectful to allow them time to grieve.

As he strode by, however, he overheard her tell her daughter, “There goes Don Fulgencio Ramirez . . . que distinto se ve . . .”

“How’s that, Mamá ? How does he look different?” She dabbed mournfully at her mascara-streaked eyes with an embroidered handkerchief.

“Maybe the maldición is finally lifting,” La Señora Villareal whispered reverentially. “He looks . . . pues . . . He seems . . . alive.”

Excerpt from The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez by Rudy Ruiz.
Copyright © 2020 by Rudy Ruiz. Published by Blackstone Publishing. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Author Photo_Rudy Ruiz

Rudy Ruiz is a writer of literary fiction. A native of the U.S.-Mexico border, his earliest works were published at Harvard, where he studied literature, creative writing, government and public policy, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Seven for the Revolution was Ruiz’s fiction debut. The collection of short stories won four International Latino Book Awards. Ruiz’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals including BorderSenses, The Ninth Letter, New Texas, and the Notre Dame Review. In 2017, Rudy Ruiz was awarded the Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction. In 2020, Ruiz was a finalist for both the Texas Institute of Letters’ Best Short Story Award as well as the Texas Observer’s annual Short Story Contest.

In 2020, Blackstone Publishing released Ruiz’s novel, The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez. The novel received critical acclaim and was named one of the “Top 10 Best First Novels of 2020” by the American Library Association’s Booklist. The novel was long-listed for the Reading the West Awards and was a finalist for the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award for Best Contemporary Novel.

Connect with the author via: Goodreads | Twitter | Website
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Q&A by Cindy Wang Brandt, author of YOU ARE REVOLUTIONARY

YOU ARE REVOLUTIONARY by Cindy Wang Brandt Virtual Book Tour Banner, published by Beaming Books, tour by PR by the Book

Hello book divas and divos and Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day to those of you in the US! I’ve been an avid reader all of my life. I can vividly recall sitting beside my mother as she read stories to my from assorted picture books when I was much younger. One of my paternal aunts, my father’s youngest sister, also helped to instill a love of reading by providing me with boxes of children’s books when I was in elementary and junior high school (aka middle school). I’ve tried to instill the love of reading in my nieces and nephews, often gifting them with books when they were younger and taking them with me to various book festivals. Not all are book divas and divos in later years, but they all fondly recall these experiences. I love helping to spread the love of reading in our youth and it is for this reason that I’m excited to welcome Cindy Wang Brandt, author of the soon-to-be-released You Are Revolutionary, a picture book for young readers. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about this author and book and perhaps enter the giveaway for a print copy of You Are Revolutionary to share with young book diva or divo. Please help me welcome Cindy Wang Brandt as she answers a few questions about her background and the impetus for You Are Revolutionary.

Author Q&A

 

1. Where did you grow up / live now?

A. I grew up and still live in the Southern city of Taiwan called Kaohsiung (pronounced Gao Shung), where we were pandemic free for most of the year 2020!!

 

2. What is your education/career background?

A. I grew up conservative evangelical so I was very religious. I went to a Christian college and seminary, and actually became a career missionary for 5+ years! But now I have “faith shifted” and am no longer part of that world—this shift informs much of my work now.

 

3. Do you have kids and/or pets?

A. I have two awesome kids and I had the cutest Yorkie in the world named Caramel, but we lost her a few years ago. 😦

 

4. What inspired you to write?

A. I entered the blogging scene in the early 2010s and eventually developed a career as a writer, publishing my first book in 2019 and now a children’s book in 2021. I didn’t grow up in a literary family, in fact, English is my second language, so there was no support or resources for my journey to become a writer. The democratization of the internet made it possible for me to share my words with the public and I am forever grateful for the platform. Now, looking back, there were many clues that I was meant to be a writer, I just didn’t know it at the time. Anytime I needed to write in life—for school, writing family newsletters, and eventually on social media, it lit me up inside and I felt the most joy when I found any opportunity to put words together.

 

5. Where/when do you best like to write?

A. I’m a morning person, so I only ever write in the mornings. However, I do get my best ideas randomly throughout the day—often in the shower, which I do at night.

 

6. What inspired your story?

A. As I’ve previously mentioned, I have “faith shifted” meaning I’ve left the faith of my childhood. This has caused significant anxiety and trauma in adulthood. As I’ve sought to understand the source of my angst, much of it was having power wielded over me when I was a child. A big part of my own healing is to become an advocate for children today, that they be afforded full autonomy because they are human beings, not any lesser than adults. If kids are to be treated and respected as adults are, then what excludes them from becoming revolutionaries, people who make a change in the world? It is a human right to have a say in the way we live our lives, and yet we exclude kids from this work. I think our world still has a long way to go to extend children the rights they deserve, and I hope my book helps move progress.

 

7. Who do you hope will read your book?

A. I work with parents and I want parents to know that their responsibility isn’t just to raise happy and healthy children, but that we have an awesome responsibility to raise conscious citizens that together create a better world for all. The best way to love our kids is to create a world that is kind to all kids. Parenting is a revolution in itself, an act of changing the world. I hope parents who feel this responsibility deeply will pick up my book and read it for their inner child as well as their own kids.

You Are Revolutionary

written by Cindy Wang Brandt and illustrated by Lynnor Bontigao

YOU ARE REVOLUTIONARY - CWBrandt

Synopsis:

You have what it takes to change the world!

This is the empowering message parenting author and podcaster Cindy Wang Brandt wants every child to hear and embrace. In this inspiring picture book she speaks to every child who sees injustice in the world, revealing that they already have inside themselves everything they need to make big, transformative change in the world—just as they are. Every kid is a revolutionary! You don’t need to wait until you grow up. You don’t even need any special skills. Kids who are loud, kids who are quiet, kids who make art, kids who are good at math, kids with lots of energy, kids who are good listeners—all kids have what it takes to make a difference.

Lynnor Bontigao’s vibrant illustrations feature a diverse group of children taking up a call to action and using their individual gifts to change the world.

Book Details:

Genre: Children’s Picture Book (Ages 5-8)
Published by: Beaming Books
Publication Date: October 12, 2021
Number of Pages: 32
ISBN: 9781506478302 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9781506478982 (ebook)
ASIN: B08VLQX3PJ (Kindle version)

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | BN.com | eBooks.com | !ndigo eBook | Kobo eBook


Connect with the Author via: Instagram  | Twitter

Connect with the Illustrator via:  Facebook | Instagram  | Twitter | Website

Giveaway:

YOU ARE REVOLUTIONARY Giveaway image

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by The Book Diva’s Reads. There will be one (1) winner of a print copy of You Are Revolutionary by Cindy Wang Brandt, illustrated by Lynnor Bontigao. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada only. The giveaway begins at 12:01 AM ET on October 11th and ends at 11:59 PM ET on October 18, 2021. The winner will be announced on October 19, 2021 by 10:00 AM ET. All person entering that resides outside of the US and Canada will be disqualified. Void where prohibited by law.

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Guest Post: Carol Pouliot – DEATH RANG THE BELL

Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week. My week has been somewhat hectic, filled with a half-dozen medical appointments for my soon-to-be 87-y.o. mother, including a minor outpatient surgery (she’s like a Timex combined with the Energizer Bunny and just keeps going, slowing down a bit but still going). Sadly, all of the appointments were running on-time, so I didn’t get very much reading done during the week. I’m looking forward to the weekend so I can fill my days and nights with reading, including a Silent Book Club chapter meeting this morning. I love meeting with other readers. Have you ever wondered if writers enjoy their time spent with other writers or are they introverted, solitary creatures? Today’s guest, Carol Pouliot, author of Death Rang the Bell, will be answering that question and more. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say and follow the book tour to learn more about this author and book. Thank you, Ms. Pouliot, for taking the time to join us today and share your thoughts. Without further adieu, I give you Carol Pouliot.

“Behind the Cover – The Mystery Writers’ Community”

 

When I first started writing, I imagined myself in a Paris attic with snow softly falling on the rooftops outside my window. Those lovely, romantic ideas didn’t last very long. I soon realized writing is not a solitary venture. Writers need other writers. But where to find them?

Two years after I began writing Doorway to Murder, I joined Sisters in Crime, a professional crime writers’ organization, and went to my first monthly meeting in Albany, NY where my chapter is located. I started getting to know other mystery writers and learning about the craft, the publishing industry, and marketing.

In 2013, I went to my first mystery conference, Bouchercon, the largest in the world, attracting some 2,000 mystery writers and readers, held in a different city each year—cities bid on it like the Olympics. The first person I met was Hank Phillippi Ryan, who welcomed me with open arms as though I were already a valued member of the mystery writing community. That was such a validation! I was thrilled, surprised, and grateful all at the same time.

The next day I ran into Louise Penny. We got talking about writing, and she asked what I was working on. I told her and mentioned that I was having trouble with something. She asked what it was and, when I explained, she said, “Oh, my goodness! We all have that problem. Don’t worry. This is what I do….” And she gave me three solid ideas to help solve it. Talk about gracious!

The one thing I’ve learned is that the mystery writing community is warm, welcoming, and generous. I’ve seen no rivalry, only genuine interest in other people’s success and triumphs.

Over the past eight years, I’ve met and become friends with a lot of mystery writers—some have helped me, others I have helped. Some have become lifelong friends. During the pandemic, I met two writers in particular at a Zoom meeting. Along with another writer friend, the four of us bonded, formed the Sleuths and Sidekicks, and did a 6-month coast-to-coast virtual tour together. We are in constant contact. We help and support each other. They’ve become my “book family,” and I cherish our friendship.

Before I wrote mysteries, I occasionally wondered if a particular author knew another writer that I enjoyed reading, if they’d ever met, or if they were friends. I had no idea there was a warm, caring community where friendships form for life, where people support each other, root for each other, help and commiserate with each other—where they are there for each other. I am both thankful and privileged to be a member of this wonderful community.

Death Rang The Bell

by Carol Pouliot

October 1-31, 2021 Book Tour

Synopsis:

Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot

21st-century journalist Olivia Watson thinks traveling back in time to 1934 to attend a Halloween party with her friend Detective Steven Blackwell will be a lot of fun. And it is…until she witnesses the head of the Shipley Five-and-Dime empire murdered, and fears the killer saw her face.

The smart move is to return to the safety of the present, but Olivia possesses a secret and is about to defy the unwritten rules of time-travel. She convinces Steven to let her stay in his time and help unravel the motives behind the murder, even if it means risking her own life to save another.

When Steven delves into the investigation, he discovers how a bitter relationship, a chance encounter, and a fateful decision converged to set the stage for murder. In a maze full of unreliable clues and misdirection, dark secrets refuse to stay buried and forgotten ghosts won’t fade away. Steven is reminded that old sins cast long shadows.

Can Steven catch the killer before time runs out for Olivia?

Praise for Death Rang the Bell:

“This highly inventive series serves up a real treat–a perfect combination of mystery, time travel, and romance.”
~~ Deborah Crombie, New York Times Bestselling author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels

“Pouliot has the period details mastered, adding realism and depth to this wholly satisfying read.”
~~ Marni Graff, author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries

“With engaging characters, a murder mystery, and a trip back in time, Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell will keep you turning the pages all night!”
~~ Nancy Allen, New York Times Bestselling Author

“A Halloween setting, a house where time folds back on itself, and a crime with deep roots in the past make Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell a joy for fans of crisp writing and twisty, character-driven plots.”
~~ Connie Berry, Agatha-nominated author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries

“A delightfully immersive story, filled with surprising twists and turns, a touch of romance — plus a heroine you will happily follow as she jumps between decades, Death Rang the Bell is a truly great escape.”
~~ Alison Gaylin, USA Today and international bestselling author

“This intriguing and beautifully written series will draw you in and make you feel right at home in a time period you’ll wish you could visit.”
~~ Grace Topping, USA Today bestselling author of the Laura Bishop Mystery Series.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery (Traditional Police Procedural with a Time-Travel Twist)
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
Number of Pages: 311
ISBN: 9781685120009
ASIN: B09B18QW9Z
Series: The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, #3 || Each is a Stand-Alone Mystery
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | BN.com | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Carol Pouliot

Carol Pouliot holds a BA in French and Spanish and an MA in French. She has taught French, Spanish, German, and English. She owned and operated a translating agency for 20 years. Her work has been published in Victoria magazine.

Carol is the author of The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, which includes Doorway to Murder (book 1), Threshold of Deceit (book 2), and Death Rang the Bell (book 3).

Carol is passionate about the world and other cultures. She has visited 5 continents thus far and always has her passport and suitcase at the ready.

Catch Up With Carol Pouliot:
www.CarolPouliot.com
SleuthsAndSidekicks.com
BookBub – @cpouliot13
Goodreads
Instagram – @carolpouliotmysterywriter
Facebook – @WriterCarolPouliot

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Book Spotlight: CHRISTMAS DATA BREACH by K.D. Richards

Christmas Data Breach (West Investigations) by K.D. Richards

About Christmas Data Breach

Christmas Data Breach (West Investigations)
Romantic Suspense
3rd in Series
Setting – New York/New Jersey
Publisher: ‎ Harlequin Intrigue (September 28, 2021)
Digital Print length: ‎ 256 pages
ASIN: ‎ B0917K3JQN
ISBN: 9781335489180 (paperback)

A mysterious fire is set at Christmas…

Forcing a security expert to reunite with the woman he never forgot

Security specialist Gideon Wright knows Mya Rochon’s cancer research is groundbreaking. But when an arsonist destroys his ex-wife’s lab and puts her at risk, he discovers it’s dangerous, too. With Gideon’s protection, Mya’s determined to finish her project—no matter the risk to her life…or Gideon’s heart. But will their rekindled partnership face its most deadly adversary yet?

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Harlequin | IndieBound.org | Amazon Kindle | Apple books | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | eBooks.com | GooglePlay | !ndigo | Kobo eBook

About K.D. Richards

K.D. Richards was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington, D.C. A writer since a young age, after college Kia earned a law degree and worked as an attorney and legal instructor for fifteen years but never stopped writing fiction. She currently splits her time between Toronto and Maryland with her husband and two sons.

Author Links
Website www.kdrichardsbooks.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kdrichardsauthor
Twitter https://www.twitter.com/kiadwrites
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/kdrichardsauthor/
GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20494862.K_D_Richards
Bookbub: https://bit.ly/2TLCA7z

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October 4 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 4 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

October 5 – Novels Alive – REVIEW

October 5 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 6 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 6 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

October 7 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 7 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – Novels Alive – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 8 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

October 9 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 9 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 10 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 10 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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Guest Post: Helen Power – THE GHOSTS OF THORWALD PLACE

The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power Banner

Happy Tuesday, my bookish peeps. Do you have any idiosyncrasies related to reading? I know some people that will only read print books and others that will only read a story that has a happy ending. I’m willing to give pretty much any genre a try, but I have a strong preference for digital reading, namely ebooks. Yes, I know these might simply be called preferences, but we readers also have our rituals, such as no reading while the television is on, only reading in the morning/night, preferring a certain cup or beverage while we read, etc. Well, authors have their idiosyncrasies and rituals when writing as well. I know some authors that will only write in longhand with a certain type of pens. Other authors only feel comfortable writing using a typewriter, manual preferred, and others that only feel comfortable writing in the morning or late evening. Today’s guest, Helen Power, is the author of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place and she will be discussing with us the importance of ritual with regards to writing. Please help me welcome Ms. Power to the blog. Thank you, Ms. Power, for taking the time to visit with us today, the blog is all yours.

The Importance of Ritual

Whenever I get the interview question, “Do you have any rituals?”, my brain immediately conjures up images of pentagrams and flickering black candles. Then I realize that the interviewer is asking about writing rituals, not satanic rituals, and I sheepishly provide a dry answer.

Sometimes I think that a satanic ritual would actually be a lot easier. There’s a specific formula to follow in order to summon a demon, but one in order to summon your creativity? There’s a lot more to it than dressing in black from head to toe, gathering your closest friends in a cemetery at midnight, and slaughtering a goat.

Creating a writing ritual is both easier and more complex. No, you don’t need to know how to read Latin, but you do need to know yourself: what inspires you, what makes you more productive, and what distracts you.

For those of us who have a full-time job that’s not at all related to writing, it can be difficult to switch gears to embrace your creative side. Sure, I’m a librarian—but I’m an academic librarian, which means that I rarely see a fiction title during work hours, and most of my day involves research consultations, teaching, managing the engineering collection, and scholarly writing. I’ve discovered that developing little tricks and routines are infinitely helpful in wrapping my head around the seemingly insurmountable task of finding the time to write a novel.

There are many different ways of getting into the right mindset for writing. For some people, it’s as simple as brewing a cup of tea and sitting at their laptop. For me, I like to storyboard. I know what you’re thinking: Most writers storyboard. But for me, I’m both a planner and a pantser, which means I rarely stick to what I’ve planned. While I usually write mysteries and I know how my stories will end, it’s the journey that constantly changes for me. Storyboarding has become a bit of a compulsion. Every time I go to write, I plan out what the next third of the book will look like. That planning process makes what could be an overwhelming task feel a lot more doable. It even gets me eager to start putting pen to paper. Usually, my first couple of scenes stick to this new plan, but then I start to deviate. New ideas and opportunities present themselves to me within those pages. For instance, I might realize that one of my characters’ personalities suggests that what I had planned further down the line doesn’t quite mesh with what they would really do, since by writing that character, I’m getting a better grasp of their internal conflict. The next time I sit down to write, I take a look at the new scenes, the notes for changes that I’ve jotted down, and create a new storyboard and a new plan of action accordingly.

But what about defeating writer’s block? Usually the storyboarding approach helps me, but I have other tricks up my sleeve. I often use the Pomodoro technique, which is a productivity hack that can be used for anything, not just writing. I set a timer for twenty-five minutes of uninterrupted writing. Even when you’re incredibly busy or extremely distracted, fitting in twenty-five minutes should not be too daunting of a task. I’ll do what I can during that time, and once the alarm goes off, if I’m still not inspired, I’ll try another tactic or give up for the day and tackle the household chores that have somehow piled up during that twenty-five minutes.

I also use music to help me get into the right mindset. I’ve curated playlists for different characters, stories, and moods. I, personally, like to go for walks when I have a bit of writer’s block, and I listen to these playlists and keep a notebook handy. I think my neighbours all either know I’m a writer or they think that I’m spying on them. Either way, it makes for some awkward eye contact after they catch me outside their house at dusk, notebook in hand, scribbling vigorously.

And then, of course, there are times when inspiration strikes. Usually, it happens to me right in those moments when I’m falling asleep or when I’m relaxing in the shower. My eyes fly open and words start flowing. Sometimes, when there’s a thunderstorm outside, I feel compelled to drop everything I’m doing because the atmosphere is perfect for weaving a spooky yarn. I find it’s important not to ignore when the mood strikes, but it’s not always a convenient time to write. Nevertheless, keeping a notebook with you at all times so you can jot down those brilliant lines or ingenious plot twists is critical. You can’t guarantee that you’ll remember them later, when it’s actually an appropriate time to write.

There are a lot of different approaches to creating a writing ritual. Some people will disconnect from the internet or hide their cell phones, because the siren call of Writing Twitter is too enticing to ignore. Others will have a designated “writing spot,” a special armchair or a desk where they do nothing but write, which tricks the brain into being more productive when they’re in that location. Ultimately, what works for one person won’t work for another. It comes down to experimenting with different types of rituals to see what works best for you, whether it’s curated playlists, meditation, or dancing naked under the moonlight.

The Ghosts of Thorwald Place

by Helen Power

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power
Trust No One. Especially your neighbors.

Rachel Drake is on the run from the man who killed her husband. She never leaves her safe haven in an anonymous doorman building, until one night a phone call sends her running. On her way to the garage, she is murdered in the elevator. But her story doesn’t end there.

She finds herself in the afterlife, tethered to her death spot, her reach tied to the adjacent apartments. As she rides the elevator up and down, the lives of the residents intertwine. Every one of them has a dark secret. An aging trophy wife whose husband strays. A surgeon guarding a locked room. A TV medium who may be a fraud. An ordinary man with a mysterious hobby.

Compelled to spend eternity observing her neighbors, she realizes that any one of them could be her killer.

And then, her best friend shows up to investigate her murder.

Praise for The Ghosts of Thorwald Place:

“[An] enticing debut . . . Distinctive characters complement the original plot. Power is off to a promising start.” —Publishers Weekly

“A creative, compulsively readable mystery—haunted by strange entities and told from the unique perspective of a ghost. I couldn’t put it down.” —Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Supernatural
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: October 5th 2021
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0744301432 (ISBN13: 9780744301434)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Helen Power

Helen Power is obsessed with ghosts. She spends her free time watching paranormal investigation TV shows, hanging out in cemeteries, and telling anyone who’ll listen about her paranormal experiences. She is a librarian living in Saskatoon, Canada, and has several short story publications, including ones in Suspense Magazine and Dark Helix Press’s Canada 150 anthology, “Futuristic Canada.” The Ghosts of Thorwald Place is her first novel.

Catch Up With Our Author:
HelenPower.ca
Goodreads
BookBub – @helen_power
Instagram – @powerlibrarian
Twitter – @helenpowerbooks
Facebook – @helenpowerauthor

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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Helen Power and CamCat Books. There will be Five (6) winners for this tour. Each of the winners will each receive 1 print ARC edition of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power (US, Canada, and UK shipping addresses Only). The giveaway begins on October 1 and ends on November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: Jonette Blake – THE THIEF CATCHER

The Thief Catcher by Jonette Blake Banner

Good day, book people and welcome to October! I’m having a hard time accepting that we’re almost at the end of another year. Where has the time gone?! Although the time seems to be flying past, I guess I’m fortunate that the pandemic didn’t interfere with my reading. If anything, I’m one of those blessed to have read more books than usual. I know that I’m in a minority with this and feel for anyone that has had and continues to have a difficult time reading. One of the things that has helped me over the past 18 months, was reading more of genres I don’t normally read, as well as reading books that were simply fun and enjoyable reads. I’m pleased to welcome back, Jonette Blake, author of The Thief Catcher, a book that has been termed a “fun read” by some. I hope you’ll enjoy what Ms. Blake has to share with us today about having fun with writing (and reading, I hope). Don’t forget to add The Thief Catcher to your TBR list if it isn’t already there. Thank you, Ms. Blake, for returning to visit with us today, the blog is now all yours.

Having fun with writing.

A common thread amongst readers of the Delia Frost novels is that these are fun books to read. They’re also fun to write. I love a dry sense of humor, and there are times when I even love a bit of slap-stick comedy. I think if done right, it can be downright funny. I remember laughing way more than I should have at Peter Sellers overacting his death scene in The Pink Panther. It was just silly, but it was exactly what I needed at the time.

Of course, sometimes humorous situations rely on a reader being able to suspend belief. And why not? It’s fiction. I read to suspend belief.

I also read across many different genres, which means I often choose a book based on my current mood. There are times when I pick up a romance novel and I just can’t get into it. Maybe the husband has been super nice lately, and I don’t need romance right now. Or I’ll pick up a thriller and there is too much chaos on the news that what I really want is a bit of light reading.

As a writer, I’ve found that writing a book is also a reflection on my current mood. The start of 201 was horrendous for me and many Australians with bushfires up and down the east coast. Friends of mine had lost their homes, I was in the middle of writing an apocalyptic book (under a pen name) and I simply couldn’t write it. So I picked up a manuscript that had been sitting in my drawer for years and worked on that instead. It was a humorous middle-grade fiction book about cats and dogs, and it was so therapeutic to write it and pour all my silliness into the book. And readers loved it because it was exactly what they needed at the time.

Likewise, it has been enjoyable writing the Delia Frost novels. It has been a serious year, and time out for silliness and slapstick is what a lot of people need right now. But I think what I like most about her is that she’s an ordinary, law-abiding person who manages to attract trouble into her life. She’s not a superhero. She’s not a ‘tough chick.’ She’s not carrying the baggage of a damaged life. But she deals with these situations the best that she can, and she does it with humor.

I sure hope you enjoy reading these adventures with Delia Frost. And I hope you have fun finding the killer before the killer finds Delia. Stick around, I have a few more books planned.

The Thief Catcher

by Jonette Blake

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Thief Catcher by Jonette Blake

A holiday in this tropical resort could be her last.

Delia Frost is ready to quit her job and take a holiday. But she wants a relaxing holiday, not the one her husband dreams of; traveling in a motorhome. Sending airfare money to her two children who are holidaying abroad so they can all meet up for this family holiday, she packs her and her husband’s bags for seven glorious days in a tropical island resort.

But even thieves need to take a holiday, and once more Delia finds herself caught in a web of thievery and murder. And this time it is not only her life in danger, it is the lives of her children.

Can she catch this murderous thief before it’s too late?

Book Details:

Genre: Murder Mystery
Published by: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 270
ISBN: 978-1922694003
Series: A Delia Frost Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Jonette Blake

Jonette Blake writes supernatural thrillers and suspense thrillers. She is the author of over ten books and dozens of short stories, writing as D L Richardson. ​She was born in Ireland and grew up in Australia. She lived through the 80s and music is still a big part of her life. When she is not writing, she plays her piano and guitar, listens to music, reads, and enjoys the beach. ​She has held jobs in administration, sales and marketing, has worked in HR, payroll, and as a bank teller. Her last novel The Widow Catcher is based on the coastal town she lives in and her own bank teller experience.

Catch Up With Jonette Blake:
www.JonetteBlake.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @iandebr
Instagram – @debbielrichardson
Twitter – @DLRichardson1
Facebook – @JonetteBlake

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Guest Post: Deb Pines – A PLAGUE AMONG US

Good day, book people. We’re one day closer to the end of this month. Are you anything like me and turn into a super-judgmental reader when browsing books in the library or bookstore? Yes, I read the synopsis on the back of the book and occasionally even read the blurbs, but it’s the book cover that either pulls me in or turns me completely off. Talk about judging a book by its cover?! I know that some publishing companies may offer an author a choice of covers to choose from before publication, but most authors say that they have very little input into the actual cover design unless independently publishing. I’m excited to welcome today’s guest, Deb Pines, author of A Plague Among Us. Ms. Pines will be discussing book covers with us and I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to share. Thank you, Ms. Pines, for joining us today. I can’t wait to see what you’ll be sharing.

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The cover for my latest book, A Plague Among Us, Book #8 in my self-published murder mystery series, is my favorite yet.

It reflects not just gained knowledge since I launched Book #1 in 2013. It reflects a mindset change, too.

Until now, I’ve mainly applied new wisdom to my writing and editing.

My book covers?

Out of my lane, I told myself. Beyond my area of expertise. Most cover-design decisions I left to my cover designer (my nephew’s ex-boyfriend).

For this book, (and, to a lesser extent, Book #7) I’ve changed my stance. I’ve taken a bigger role in my cover design. And gotten greedier.

Before, I mainly wanted two things.

I wanted 1) an attractive cover that 2) signaled that my books are set in the Chautauqua Institution, a churchy, quirky, historic, Victorian cottage-filled, lakeside summer arts community in far western New York State. The first six book covers were attractive (I think), featuring a different Chautauqua landmark on each.

Now, I want at least six things.

I want my covers to be 1) attractive and 2) signal Chautauqua. But I also want them to be 3) super easy to read the way they are seen by most shoppers, the size of a postage stamp online. So that means a simple, unbusy design and giant lettering.

I also want my covers to be kind of a shorthand, signaling at a glance, not just Chautauqua. Ideally, I want them to 4) signal my genre, which is a traditional Agatha Christie-like whodunit mystery. I want them to signal 5) that this is a Deb Pines murder mystery, the next in my series. And I also want, if possible, for the covers to offer a 6) hint of a plot.

A lot, right?

To telegraph my genre, I looked at book covers of the top-selling mysteries online.

Cozier mystery covers, I found, often feature brightly colored whimsical drawings of the books’ charming settings—tea shops, country inns, bookstores, often with a cat or two. Hard-boiled mystery covers often feature a single dominant ominous image, maybe a weapon, with a lot of reds, blacks and spattered blood.

Covers for my subgroup, traditional mysteries, I found, often start with a realistic image, from a photo or drawing. They, too, include a hint of menace, but no blood. Some are night scenes or feature a lone figure, maybe in the middle of nowhere or in a gritty city locale.

So, applying what I’ve learned, I’ve switched from using stylized drawings on my covers to photos. I’ve asked my designer to use much larger type and add menace.

The cover for A Plague Among Us features a classic Chautauqua cottage, with a porch, wicker furniture and decorative front door. (signaling Chautauqua) It’s spooky because the cottage is tree-shrouded and barely lit by an orange lamp in a front window (signaling my genre). The color scheme—gray-blue with yellow and silver letters—and type style—a distressed and fuzzy font—are ominous, too.

In terms of plot, I think the cover gives a hint that something awful, like a suspicious death, may have happened in this claustrophobic, secret-filled home that reporter and relentless snoop Mimi Goldman needs to root out.

I hope you agree.

A Plague Among Us

A Chautauqua Murder Mystery

by Deb Pines

September 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

A Plague Among Us by Deb Pines

When Al Martin, the editor of a satiric newspaper in Chautauqua, N.Y., reportedly dies of COVID-19, the local consensus is: good riddance.

A sister suspects foul play. She wonders why Al was cremated in a hurry.

The police stay out of it.

So it takes reporter and relentless snoop Mimi Goldman to try to find which of Al’s haters— including an estranged wife, three bitter siblings, a secretive caregiver, old enemies and the many targets of Al’s poison-pen sarcasm—might be a ruthless killer.

The novel, No. 8 in a series called “an Agatha Christie for the text-message age,” once again offers page-turning suspense. Wit. And the unforgettable setting of Chautauqua, a quirky, churchy, lakeside, Victorian cottage-filled summer arts community that launched an adult-education movement Teddy Roosevelt called “the most American thing in America.”

Kirkus Reviews calls A Plague Among Us “an intriguing and engaging crime tale” and “enjoyable novel” with “captivating characters.”

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: KDP
Publication Date: July 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 280
ISBN: 979-8525017368
Series: Mimi Goldman Chautauqua Mysteries, Book 8 | Each book can be read as a Stand-Alone Mystery
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Deb Pines

Deb Pines, an award-winning headline writer for the New York Post, is the author of seven Mimi Goldman novels and one novelette all set in the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York where they are top sellers.
A former reporter, Deb is also a lover of puns, show tunes and indoor cycling. She lives in New York City with her husband Dave.

Catch Up With Deb Pines:
DebPines.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @debpines
Instagram – @pinesdebbie
Twitter – @pinesdeb
Facebook – @deborah.pines.9

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Guest Post: D.M. Barr – MURDER WORTH THE WEIGHT

Murder Worth the Weight by D.M. Barr BannerGood day, book people. Can you believe we almost to the end of another month? Time really seems to be flying by lately and, for some reason, I don’t have enough time to read all the books I want to read. I hope you’re not having a similar problem. As we enjoy the cooler weather, it’s the perfect time of year to cuddle up under a blanket, grab your favorite beverage, and catch up on our reading. Today, I’ll hope you’ll cuddle with your blanket and beverage and visit awhile with today’s guest author. I’m delighted to welcome back to the blog today’s guest, D.M. Barr, the incredibly gifted and talented author of Murder Worth the Weight. Ms. Barr will be discussing side plots with us today. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say, and suggest you add Murder Worth the Weight to your Fall TBR read list. Thank you, Ms. Barr, for returning today, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

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One of my favorite side plots from Murder Worth the Wait involves Benji’s, the dueling piano bar that’s featured in the story. It’s not only a setting for many of the scenes, but the pianists play a role as well.

My husband first discovered the dueling piano bar concept on a business trip, where he encountered one of the many Howl at the Moon clubs. Being a skilled piano player and songwriter (when he isn’t being a lawyer—check out www.broadjam.com/biggerinperson if you’d like to hear his work), he came home and excitedly described the concept to me: Two pianos, facing each other, played by very adept and personable pianists who could improvise (both musically and comically) on demand, take requests from the audience, and invite audience participation. A third musician, often a drummer, accompanied the pianists. Requests that were accompanied by payment often got played more quickly and a grand time is had by all, although because commentary by the performers could turn ribald, it was definitely an R-rated experience.

My husband Josh doesn’t get enthusiastic all that often (read: never) so I took note and on our next vacation, I booked our family aboard a European cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic, which featured both Howl at the Moon and a version of Second City, an improv comedy venue (we met studying improv; he was with the touring company of Chicago City Limits where I was a groupie and a student.) On our first night aboard, we attended our first HATM performance, where I submitted a $20 bill along with request that read, “Please play Johnny Be Good” though I’ve never known anyone to play it better than my husband.” My ploy worked because the next thing we knew, they invited Josh on stage to play, and his talent must have surprised them because from that night on, they called him up every performance to play (usually Elton John songs, because that’s his specialty) and dubbed him “Big Daddy.”

Did I mention I’m a groupie? Seeing my husband on stage brought back memories of how we met, when he played piano for Chicago City Limit’s touring company and improvised music along with their skits. I was even prouder when the Howl at the Moon performers, Orin Sands, James Sakal, and Rhonda Hughes, invited my son on stage to play and sing Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” Even my daughter got in on the act, really letting loose and belting a few numbers. We’d close down the venue at 1:00 a.m. and then go for late night munchies with the performers. Josh started getting recognized by other cruisers. It was truly our best vacation ever.

The HATM performers became friends after the cruise, and we’ve sailed with them and other dueling pianists (Whitney Maxwell and James Byrom, to name a few) on various NCL cruises. And yes, they still call “Big Daddy” up to the stage every night when they’re performing and we’re in the audience, something for which I’m everlastingly grateful since it gives my husband an opportunity to perform. When I had the opportunity to commemorate our friendship by featuring them in Murder Worth the Weight, I jumped at it and am glad to say they were good sports and were okay with how I portrayed them—especially James who in real life, in not the diva in any way. Thank goodness he has a great sense of humor.

Another side plot in the book involves Rachel and her Cockney Rhyming Slang. My first boyfriend was a cadet-officer on the Queen Elizabeth II (QE2…yeah, I love ships) and he introduced me to this form of communication when I was just eighteen. Some readers take a bit of time catching on, but I loved embellishing this character’s quirkiness with this blast from my past. For those who want to learn more about Cockney Rhyming Slang, you can check out some phrases here: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jun/09/guide-to-cockney-rhyming-slang and here: https://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kemmer/Words04/usage/slang_cockney.html. Enjoy!

Murder Worth the Weight

by D.M. Barr

September 13 – October 8, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Murder Worth the Weight by D.M. Barr

Whenever Terry Mangel’s body acceptance revival meeting rolls into town, local diet execs and “fat shamers” turn up dead, often in grotesque, ironic ways. All single murders in small suburbs, no one’s noticed a pattern, until rookie investigative reporter Camarin Torres takes a closer look.

Torres is a crusader against discrimination. She reluctantly accepts a job offered by handsome publisher Lyle Fletcher, a man with a vendetta, who sees the recent college grad as salvation for Trend, his fledgling fashion magazine. Torres, however, detests everything the publication stands for, and joins solely to transform its judgmental, objectifying content.

As an unexpected romance blossoms, the overconfident, justice-hungry reporter defies orders and infiltrates Mangel’s world, only to find herself in the cross hairs of a vigilante group targeting the $60 billion diet industry. To this vindictive mob, murder is definitely worth the weight. But as Torres soon learns, unmasking the killer may save her life but shatter her heart: every clue seems to implicate Fletcher, her mercurial mentor and lover, as the group’s mastermind.

Previously published as Slashing Mona Lisa

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Romantic Suspense, Psychological Suspense, Women’s Fiction
Published by: Punctuated Publishing
Publication Date: 08/09/2021
Number of Pages: 340
ISBN: 9780997711868
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Goodreads | !ndigo ebook | Kobo ebook

Author Bio:

D.M. Barr

By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire. My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy. The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, unlike as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings. As a yo-yo dieter, I’ve never offed anyone at my local diet clinic. While I’m a bit paranoid, I’ve never suspected my husband of wanting to murder me for my inheritance. Well, that’s not entirely true, but let’s go with that for now. And while I’ve volunteered at senior centers, I’ve never mastered the hula hoop. But that’s not to say I haven’t wanted to…

Catch Up With D.M. Barr:
DMBarr.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @DMBarr
Instagram – @authordmbarr
Twitter – @authordmbarr
Facebook – @authordmbarr

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2021 Book 283: THE VANISHED DAYS by Susanna Kearsley

The Vanished Days, The Scottish Series, by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN-10: 1492650161 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781492650164 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781728249582 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781492650171 (ebook)
ASIN: B08XM9QJ6T (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: October 5, 2021

I’ve loved every one of Susanna’s books! She has bedrock research and a butterfly’s delicate touch with characters–sure recipe for historical fiction that sucks you in and won’t let go!–DIANA GABALDON, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Outlander

From international bestselling author Susanna Kearsley comes a historical tale of intrigue and revolution in Scotland, where the exile of King James brought plots, machinations, suspicion and untold bravery to light. An investigation of a young widow’s secrets by a man who’s far from objective, leads to a multi-layered tale of adventure, endurance, romance…and the courage to hope.

In the autumn of 1707, old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England. At the same time, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to bring the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger.

Queen Anne’s commissioners, seeking to calm the situation, have begun paying out money sent up from London to settle the losses and wages owed to those Scots who took part in the disastrous Darien expedition eight years earlier–an ill-fated venture that left Scotland all but bankrupt.

When the young widow of a Darien sailor comes forward to collect her husband’s wages, her claim is challenged. One of the men assigned to investigate has only days to decide if she’s honest, or if his own feelings are blinding him to the truth.

The Vanished Days is a prequel and companion novel to The Winter Sea, with action that overlaps some of the action in that book. The Vanished Days goes back in time to the 1680s and introduces the reader to the Moray and Graeme families.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository | Books-A-Million | Bookshop.org | eBooks | !ndigo | Kobo eBook | Powell’s

Imagine Scotland in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Now imagine being a young girl, Lilias “Lily” Aitcheson, whose parents have both died and you’ve been sent to work for an area family by her stepmother (no, she’s not an evil stepmother, she’s just struggling to survive with two young children at home). Now imagine that this girl has spent a number of years being treated as an equal to this family’s daughter, but when she hits puberty, the man she’s thought of as a surrogate father makes untoward advances and gives her extra money. This child has grown up hearing about women who take money for sex and these women aren’t treated well by society. The child’s only recourse, or so she feels, is to runaway. She is taken in by another family in a nearby town, but this household is just as corrupt but in a different way. The “father” expects his “children” to participate in various criminal enterprises and the “wife” is a woman who takes money for sex. Lily has a deep fondness for her adoptive brothers and mother, so she makes do of a bad situation. Years later, Lily is reported to be the widow of one James Graeme, is attempting to claim his wages, but the marriage license is suspect. As a favor to a friend, Sergeant Williamson and others are tasked with investigating the claim of this widow. Is it possible for this investigation to uncover the truth considering the “witnesses” to the marriage license are all deceased? Is it possible for the investigation to continue given that Sergeant Williamson has a marked attraction for the lovely widow? Will Lily be branded a liar and a possible forger?

I’ve read everything written by Susanna Kearsley and was quite happy when given the opportunity to read The Vanished Days. I love her incorporation of history with the story (I’ve learned quite a bit about the Jacobites from her books). The characters are always intriguing and realistically flawed in some way. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m reading about fictional characters from 300 years ago, I’m invested in their lives and everything that is occurring within the story. This book was no exception. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the story was narrated from a male character’s perspective. The Vanished Days includes tidbits from American as well as Scottish history. There seem to be multiple story lines happening and it isn’t until the very end that everything becomes clear and the twist is revealed (and it’s a great twist – you’ll have to read the book to discover more). This story deals with politics, treason, crime, child labor, child abuse (in the form of molestation and forced participation in criminal enterprises), emotional abuse, romance, how far one is willing to go to protect loved ones, regrets over days past, and more. One theme that seems to be prevalent is that family isn’t always the one we’re born into but the one we make for ourselves. For those of you that have read anything by Susanna Kearsley in the past, I’m sure this book is already on your TBR list. For those of you that enjoy historical fiction, I suggest you put this on your TBR list ASAP. For those of you that aren’t sure about historical fiction, I suggest you grab a copy of The Vanished Days as well as the sequel The Winter Sea. Together or solo, these books make for great reading. Personally, I can’t wait to reread both The Vanished Days and The Winter Sea. I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Vanished Days as much as I did.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”