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:

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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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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Carol Pouliot. There will be Four (4) winners for this tour. Two (2) winners will each receive a $15 Amazon.com gift card; Two (2) winners will each receive 1 print edition of Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot (US Only). The giveaway begins on October 1 and ends November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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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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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.

guestpost.png

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

Tour Participants:

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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

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: DiAnn Mills – TRACE OF DOUBT

trace-of-doubt-by-diann-mills--cover

Good day, book divas and divos. I spent about a year “thinking” about blogging about books before I took the first step and just started. This might seem like a small thing, but for an introvert like me it was huge. Sometimes, we just have to take that first step and everything else will seem to fall into place. I’m incredibly pleased to welcome today’s guest to the blog as her books routinely get added to my TBR list. Please help me welcome DiAnn Mills, author of the recently released Trace of Doubt. Ms. Mills will be discussing taking a leap of faith and following your dreams. I hope you’ll be like Ms. Mills and follow your dream, and while you’re making arrangements to do so, perhaps you’ll add Trace of Doubt to your TBR list. Thank you, Ms. Mills for stopping by and sharing with us today.

Never Too Late

DiAnn Mills

In 1996, my husband said to me, “Stop telling me someday you’re going to write a book. Do it now. Quit your job. I give you one year to get anything published.” My youngest son was a senior in high school. Was I too old to begin a new career writing fiction? I’d felt the urge to write for the previous five years, but I was afraid to get started. Afraid of failure. Afraid I was too old to begin a new career.

I wanted to write. Could taste the thrill of publication. “I believe in you,” my husband said.

I accepted the challenge and devised a plan to work smart and effectively. I looked at my writing goals like a full-time job. If I were to reach the ultimate of publication, I’d have to soar to the top of the craft. My day was organized into writing, studying how-to books, reading in my genre, digesting blog posts, and exploring which conferences would teach me the most and provide exposure to agents, editors, and other writers. I started a writer’s critique group that met for over ten years.

During the first year, I wrote devotions, articles, a short story, and a historical novel. Sure, I had a rejections and publications, but I never went back to my old job. In 1998, my first novel released. Oh, the excitement of tearing into the box of author copies. The cover … the book’s name … my name. A dream come true.

That was 87 books ago. But don’t think it’s been easy. Every novel is a little tougher to write. The characterization must be deeper. The plot’s twists and turns unexpected. The setting more intense. The dialogue and emotion like a sword fight. For me, writing five nonfiction books were like clawing my way up a cliff.

I believed my calling and purpose in life is to write and teach serious writers what I’ve learned and continue to learn about the craft, social media, marketing, branding, and reaching out to readers.

Techniques and tools of the craft weren’t immediately drop-shipped into my brain. I experienced lots of deletes and rewrites. Still do! Writing is about hard work and sacrifices.

The older we get; the more wisdom is packed into our heads. Now may be the time to organize your life and make a plan to march forward. Let others know you have a special interest and ask for support.

Coretta Scott King said, “I learned that when you are willing to make sacrifices for a great cause, you will never be alone.”

What is holding you back from reaching your goals? Be courageous and toss off those shackles. Now is the time to pursue your dreams.


Trace of Doubt

by DiAnn Mills

September 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Trace of Doubt by DiAnn Mills

Bestselling and award-winning author DiAnn Mills delivers a heart-stopping story of dark secrets, desperate enemies, and dangerous lies.

Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.

FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.

But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.

Praise for Trace of Doubt:

“Well-researched… with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy.” – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN

Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the story line keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST

“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart… Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL

“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – JLYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREAT and ONE FINAL BREATH

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 7th 2021
Number of Pages: 432
ISBN: 1496451856 (ISBN13: 9781496451859)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Tyndale | Books-A-Million | Murder By The Book | Goodreads

Check Out This Fab Trailer for Trace of Doubt:

Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a former director of Blue Ridge Christian Writers, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She shares her passion for helping other writers be successful by teaching writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed:

DiAnnMills.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @DiAnnMills
Instagram – @DiAnnMillsAuthor
Twitter – @DiAnnMills
Facebook – @DiAnnMills

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Kat Flannery – THE MEMORY BELL

the-memory-bell-by-kat-flannery--cover

Good day, book people. I hope those of you in the USA will get to spend some of your Labor Day holiday today reading. I hope those of you elsewhere are able to find some time today to squeeze in some reading. If you’re like me, an avid reader, I’m always amazed when I pick up a new-to-me book or series about how much detail the author will include about the characters. Some authors provide glimpses of the characters backstory and other authors will weave the backstory into overall story. It doesn’t seem to matter how they craft their characters, the more details I have about a character, the more three-dimensional they seem to become. Today I’m pleased to welcome an award-winning and bestselling author, Kat Flannery, whose latest book, The Memory Bell, was released a few months ago. Ms. Flannery will be discussing the importance of character biographies with us today. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say, follow the blog tour, and add The Memory Bell to your TBR list. Thank you, Ms. Flannery, for taking time out of your busy schedule and joining us today. The blog is now yours.

Character Bios

Kat Flannery

The Memory Bell was so much fun to write, but that didn’t mean there weren’t challenges along the way. I’d be lying if I told you the whole writing process was a breeze, and nothing went wrong. Ha, I don’t think any author could spout that sentence as true. There are always problems and as the author—the creator you have to figure out how you’re going to fix them.

With all of my novels there are problems and sometimes they’re really big ones. You know, ones that require me to rewrite 10,000 words, or scratch a whole beginning, or worst-case scenario delete the whole manuscript and start over. Every single one of the above happened when I was writing The Memory Bell in the first four months. I honestly didn’t know if the book would ever get written.

When I set out to write a contemporary mystery littered with family drama, I had no idea how in-depth I would need to go to put the Penner’s to paper. The process was crazy and long and at times annoying. Why? Well for starters I had to write a bio on every single one of the Penners so that I could understand them better, really get to know them. Yeah, I had pages upon pages of backstory and conversations that I never used. Alas it was all necessary so that I could write each character perfectly. Did it make the process any less painful? No, it did not, but I know it needed to happen.

My job as an author is to deliver well researched, three dimensional characters that are real to my readers just like they are real to me. AND if that means I write 22,000 words of character biographies and backstory, then that is what I do. I hope you enjoy reading The Memory Bell and learning all about the devious Penner clan.

Thanks for having me on your blog!

The Memory Bell

by Kat Flannery

September 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Memory Bell by Kat Flannery

Grace Penner’s safe haven crumbles when a body is found outside of town.

Gifted the memory bell, a family heirloom, from her grandfather’s will, Grace’s excitement is soon squashed when the bell gets broken right after she receives it. While gluing the pieces back in place, she discovers three are still missing.

Determined to find them, she is halted when the new detective, Bennet James, investigates her family. Grace is intent on showing the detective her family isn’t capable of murder, but as the investigation deepens, and pieces of the bell show up with ominous notes, Grace soon realizes the Penners are not what they seem. Amidst the tightly knit family; dark secrets, deception, and possibly even murder unfold.

Will Grace be able to save the family she loves more than anything without losing herself forever?

Praise for The Memory Bell:

“A naïve small-town girl and a disillusioned big-city cop, drawn together by an unsolved crime that is itself only the tip of the iceberg, The Memory Bell serves up the perfect steamy summer read.”
–Jenny Jaeckel, author of House of Rougeaux

“The story moves beyond a small town whodunit to probe the underlying bonds of history that connect a family.”
-Midwest Book Review

“Wonderful, engaging, and fast-paced! Flannery knows what she’s doing!”
-Jonas Saul, author of the Sarah Roberts series

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: July 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 1684337089 (ISBN-13:978-1684337088)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Kat Flannery

Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. A member of many writing Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. When she’s not busy writing, or marketing Kat volunteers her time to other aspiring authors. She has been a keynote speaker, lecturer and guest author inspiring readers and writers at every event she attends. Kat’s been published in numerous periodicals throughout her career, and continues to write for blogs and online magazines. A bestselling author, Kat’s books are available all over the world. The BRANDED TRILOGY is Kat’s award-winning series. With seven books published, Kat continues to plot what story will be next. Creativity is in all aspects of Kat’s career. She does Social Media and Marketing for her own career and businesses, writing ads, and other content.

Catch Up With Kat Flannery:
www.KatFlannery.com/Books-1
Goodreads
BookBub – @KatFlannery
Instagram – @katflannery_
Twitter – @KatFlannery1
Facebook – @kat.flannery.5

 

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Marlie Wasserman author of THE MURDERESS MUST DIE

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. Well, we have another week almost completed and I hope you’re all doing well. I’m in a variety of book clubs, some meet online and others meet locally. One of my local book clubs is dedicated to nonfiction, a genre I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like until recently. My nonfiction book club is a temporary hiatus and I’ve been reading a lot of true crime books as well as fictionalized books about real people (criminals and noncriminals). I’m hooked on both the true crime nonfiction stories as well as the fictionalized stories about people long gone. These are just a few of the reasons I’m incredibly honored to welcome today’s guest to the blog. Please help me welcome Marlie Parker Wasserman, author of The Murderess Must Die. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say, follow the blog tour, and add The Murderess Must Die to your ever-growing TBR lists. Thank you, Ms. Wasserman for joining us today and sharing your insight on true crime and historical crime fiction.

Focus on Killer or Victim?

I write in the mashed-up genre of true crime meets historical crime fiction. In short, I start with a true crime that happened long ago and then imagine the lives of the people involved in that crime. From the beginning I have both a known killer and a known victim. For my new novel, The Murderess Must Die, I began by focusing on the killer, a middle-aged woman named Martha Place, living in Brooklyn in 1898. I had less interest in her victim—Martha’s eighteen-year-old stepdaughter, Ida Place.

A few months into my writing I read an essay by Hallie Rubenhold, the author of a great nonfiction book, The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. Rubenhold admonishes writers of crime fiction to pay scant attention to criminals and more attention to victims. This was not a shock to me—I had been hearing well-intentioned newscasters advocate the same approach as they covered mass shootings—but I had been slow to apply the lesson to my own writing. I stopped work on my novel for a few days, wondering if I could continue to write a book that focused on the bad guy, or bad gal.

Rather than dropping the project, I re-conceived it to have multiple first-person points of view. Although Martha Place’s voice remains at the center of the novel, we also hear the voice of her dead victim, stepdaughter Ida. When readers first meet Ida, they see her behaving as a spoiled brat who has everything going for her and maybe deserves the harm that comes to her. I try to move beyond those first impressions to explore Ida’s tragic personal history, imagining how that history may have exacerbated traits that incited hatred in her stepmother.

Perhaps almost as importantly, Hallie Rubenhold’s admonition led me to expand on the definition of victim. Yes, Ida, as the murdered teenager, is the obvious victim, but Martha Place’s crime affects and arguably comes close to victimizing the many people who occupy concentric circles around her. By murdering Ida, Martha harms the reputation of her siblings and her nieces. By refusing to cooperate with her lawyers, Martha makes their job impossible. As the first woman to be executed in the electric chair, she unintentionally causes stress to the day matron and the night matron hired to guard her in Sing Sing. By refusing to consider herself a sinner, she challenges the spiritual advisors enlisted to guard her soul. By befriending the wife of the prison warden, Martha upsets the usual rhythms of Sing Sing. I look too at whether her impending doom affects the executioner, who had never pulled the switch on a woman before. How did the experience of being connected to a convicted killer change these people? Ida Place was the official victim, but not the only person who suffered.

When I followed advice to look at the victim as well as the killer, I used a wide lens, imagining how a single act of murder victimized overlapping communities. I am certain that is a useful lens for contemporary crime fiction as well as historical crime fiction.

The Murderess Must Die

by Marlie Parker Wasserman

August 16 – September 10, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Praise for The Murderess Must Die:

A true crime story. But in this case, the crime resides in the punishment. Martha Place was the first woman to die in the electric chair: Sing Sing, March 20, 1899. In this gorgeously written narrative, told in the first-person by Martha and by those who played a part in her life, Marlie Parker Wasserman shows us the (appalling) facts of fin-de-siècle justice. More, she lets us into the mind of Martha Place, and finally, into the heart. Beautifully observed period detail and astute psychological acuity combine to tell us Martha’s story, at once dark and illuminating. The Murderess Must Die accomplishes that rare feat: it entertains, even as it haunts.
Howard A. Rodman, author of The Great Eastern

 

The first woman to be executed by electric chair in 1899, Martha Place, speaks to us in Wasserman’s poignant debut novel. The narrative travels the course of Place’s life describing her desperation in a time when there were few opportunities for women to make a living. Tracing events before and after the murder of her step-daughter Ida, in lean, straightforward prose, it delivers a compelling feminist message: could an entirely male justice system possibly realize the frightful trauma of this woman’s life? This true-crime novel does more–it transcends the painful retelling of Place’s life to expand our conception of the death penalty. Although convicted of a heinous crime, Place’s personal tragedies and pitiful end are inextricably intertwined.
Nev March, author of Edgar-nominated Murder in Old Bombay

 

The Murderess Must Die would be a fascinating read even without its central elements of crime and punishment. Marlie Parker Wasserman gets inside the heads of a wide cast of late nineteenth century Americans and lets them tell their stories in their own words. It’s another world, both alien and similar to ours. You can almost hear the bells of the streetcars.
Edward Zuckerman, author of Small Fortunes and The Day After World War Three, Emmy-winning writer-producer of Law & Order

 

This is by far the best book I have read in 2021! Based on a true story, I had never heard of Mattie Place prior to reading this book. I loved all of the varying voices telling in the exact same story. It was unique and fresh and so wonderfully deep. I had a very hard time putting the book down until I was finished!
It isn’t often that an author makes me feel for the murderess but I did. I connected deeply with all of the people in this book, and I do believe it will stay with me for a very long time.
This is a fictionalized version of the murder of Ida Place but it read as if the author Marlie Parker Wasserman was a bystander to the actual events. I very highly recommend this book.
Jill, InkyReviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-1953789877
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Author Bio:

Marlie Wasserman

Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a career on the other side of the desk in publishing. The Murderess Must Die is her debut novel. She reviews regularly for The Historical Novel Review and is at work on a new novel about a mysterious and deadly 1899 fire in a luxury hotel in Manhattan.

 

Catch Up With Marlie Wasserman:
www.MarlieWasserman.com
Instagram – @marliepwasserman
Twitter – @MarlieWasserman
Facebook – @marlie.wasserman

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Guest Post: David Gardner – THE JOURNALIST

The Journalist by David Gardner Banner

Good day, book people. I hope you had a wonderful weekend, kept safe and dry (especially for those of you in rain-soaked areas), and were able to get some reading done. I spent the weekend with my 86-y.o. mother and we both spent most of our time reading. If I had to choose a so-called “guilty pleasure,” mine would be reading almost anything I can get my hands on (I know, not much of a shocker or a guilty pleasure). Some people might be fascinated by reality television, others to sports, and then you have those that are obsessed with the tabloids. Today’s guest, David Gardner and author of The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller, knows quite a bit about tabloids and tabloid journalism and he’ll be sharing a few tidbits with us today. Please help me welcome author David Gardner to the blog. Thank you, Mr. Gardner for joining us today, the blog is now yours.

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Tabloid journalism fascinates me so much that I have forced the protagonist of my novel, The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller (Encircle Publications) to work for a particularly cheesy one. For me, the more fanciful the story, the better. Do others believe what they read in the tabloids? I have no idea.

What is a tabloid? It refers to newspapers one-half the physical size of broadsheets, which we think of as the standard dimensions for a newspaper. Right here I need to distinguish between tabloid-sized newspapers and tabloid journalism. Most large cities have a respectable, tabloid-sized newspaper. Some people speculate that this is to make it easier to read on a subway. Those papers often refer to themselves as compact.

Tabloid journalism is associated with the tabloid-sized papers of questionable repute found in supermarket checkout counters.

My novel’s hero has written breathless tabloid articles about green aliens who’ve taken up residence at the Boston Red Sox playing field, a famous television cook who’s gone on a hunger strike, and a boy in Brisbane who can tell the future by licking truck tires. Bizarre topics like these are only slight exaggerations of what some tabloids print.

The first tabloid newspaper is thought to be The Daily Mirror, started in London in 1903 by the interestingly named Alfred Harmsworth. By 1909 it was selling a million copies a day. Competitors flourished across the globe.

Today’s tabloids specialize in celebrity gossip with paparazzi photos showing their subject in awkward situations. We learn of the subject’s alarming weight gain, drinking problems, family troubles and general misbehavior—we’re more than happy to learn that the rich and famous are no better than we are. A few tabloids take a strong political stand. Those I avoid.

The Onion (which you can read online) brilliantly spoofs tabloids. Several daytime television shows owe their existence to tabloid journalism.

What is true in a tabloid and what is not? If the front page reads, “Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby” and shows an “official photo” of the former First Lady tentatively gripping a creepy, bald, babyish thing, then you can be pretty sure the story is fake. (Yes, that actually appeared in the Weekly World News.)

“Surgeons Cut My Head Off—And Sewed It Back On!” That’s a real headline from the Weekly World News. The tabloid’s front cover shows a surgeon fussing over an operating table with the severed head of an attractive brunette wearing an expression of perfect serenity.

Some stories hover between truth and fiction. Tales of celebrity misdoings sometimes stray over the libel line and get the paper’s owners in court. And once in a while a grocery-store tabloid will actually beat the respectable press to a story. Tabloids were the first to disclose that the married Senator John Edwards had fathered a child with his girlfriend, which brought to an end his presidential run.

As stated earlier, I have a weakness for tabloids, the more lurid the better. While standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I’ll often grab a tabloid off the rack, drop it on top of a box of Corn Flakes and mutter to the person behind me, “Uncle Larry asked me to pick up a copy.”

I’m not sure I’m fooling anyone.


The Journalist

A Paranormal Thriller

by David Gardner

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Journalist by David Gardner

If Jeff can’t save his ghostly ancestors from disappearing, so will he.

Writing for a cheesy Boston tabloid, Jeff Beekle fabricates a whimsical tale about a mob-built CIA prison for ghosts.

Which turns out to be true.

Now both the mob and the CIA have Jeff in their sights.

Even worse, Jeff discovers that his great-grandmother is an inmate and that she and the other spectral residents are being groomed as CIA spies. (And why not? They’re invisible, draw no salary, and won’t hop into bed with enemy agents.)

To his horror, Jeff learns that ancestors held too long in earthly captivity will vanish as if never born, taking with them all their descendants, which includes him.

Can Jeff outwit the mob and the CIA, free his ghostly ancestors, destroy the prison and save himself?

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Paranormal Thriller
Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10th 2021
Number of Pages: 322
ISBN: 164599144X (ISBN13: 9781645991441)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Book Trailer for The Journalist:

Author Bio:

David Gardener

David Gardner grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, served in Army Special Forces and earned a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught college, worked as a reporter and sold women’s shoes.

He coauthored three programming books for Prentice Hall, wrote dozens of travel articles as well as too many mind-numbing computer manuals before happily turning to fiction.

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, also a writer. He hikes, bikes, messes with astro-photography and plays the keyboard with no discernible talent whatsoever.

Catch Up With David Gardener:
DavidGardnerAuthor.com
Goodreads
Instagram – @davidagardner07
Twitter – @dgardner_author
Facebook – @david.gardner.33483

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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David Gardner. There will be THREE (3) winners for this tour. Each winner will ONE (1) signed print edition of The Journalist by David Gardner (US Mailing Addresses Only). The giveaway begins on August 1 and runs through September 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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