Guest Post: Leslie Wheeler – WOLF BOG

Welcome to another Friday, book people. I hope everyone is staying cool during this global heat wave. As usual, I’ve been doing quite a bit of re-reading (hey, I re-read whenever I have difficulty reading other new-to-me books). One of the books I re-read included a recipe for a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Bread Pudding. I’m not a cook or baker by any stretch of the imagination, but this is one recipe that I may actually make, calories be damned. I don’t often read about meals in books and crave the foods mentioned, but that particular recipe piqued my interest. Food, drink, and reading seem to go quite well together in my opinion. Today’s guest, Leslie Wheeler, is the author of the recently released Wolf Bog. Ms. Wheeler will be sharing her thoughts on food in fiction. So grab something to eat and drink, sit back, and let’s learn about the uses of food in mystery fiction from one author’s perspective. Thank you, Ms. Wheeler, for stopping by and sharing with us today.

The Uses of Food in Mystery Fiction
By Leslie Wheeler

Food and drink figure prominently in some mysteries, especially cozies, but thrillers too—I’m thinking of the mouth-watering meals served up at the Three Pines café in Louise Penny’s books. But not so much in my books—that is, until my latest novel, Wolf Bog. Why, I wondered, is there so much eating and drinking in this book? Is it simply that my characters have become hungrier and thirstier over time? The thirst I can understand, because it’s August in the Berkshires of my story and very hot, but not the hunger. This got me thinking about the role meals can play in mystery fiction.

One obvious function is to give characters something to do while they have a Q and A. An example of this in Wolf Bog is the scene where my main character, Kathryn Stinson, questions the former girlfriend of a teenager, whose body is found in a bog after disappearing more than forty years ago. They meet for lunch at a restaurant called “The Laughing Cow” in Vermont. Kathryn is impressed by how well the ex-girlfriend—now in her sixties—has aged, which she attributes to a healthy diet. So, when the woman orders a vegan burger with a side salad, Kathryn orders the exact same meal. And since “We are what we eat,” as the saying goes, the meal in this scene also reveals something about the character who orders it.

Another function of food—whether consumed or simply observed—is to offer comfort to characters at difficult times. Because the teenager found in the bog was someone she loved and lost, Charlotte Hinkley is especially shaken by the discovery. She finds peace in her vegetable garden with its perfect Big Girl tomatoes. But when a pesky rodent—or so she thinks—takes a bite out of not just one tomato, but all of them, that peace is destroyed. Charlotte has to ask a friend to get her the fruit from a local store, so she can make Tomatoes Provencal for a party she’s having. Yet the trouble doesn’t end there. The party itself is ruined when a friend’s dog that’s been staying with Charlotte accidentally eats the poison put out for the rodents and has to be rushed to the local veterinary hospital. In this instance, a comfort food creates unexpected complications for several characters.

With the addition of poison, food and drink become weapons. But there are less obvious ways of weaponizing food and drink. An example of this is the dinner party that Wally, Charlotte’s estate attorney and longtime friend, throws for her and Paula, a middle-aged woman who claims to be the daughter Charlotte gave up for adoption years ago. Wally is a gourmet cook with a state-of-the-art kitchen and a sophisticated palate. The menu he plans is calculated to appeal to Charlotte and him, but not necessarily Paula, whose palate is more plebian. When he offers runny Brie and pate for appetizers, Paula tells him to put the Brie back in the fridge. She mistakes the pate for cold meatloaf, doesn’t like the taste of it, and washes it down with another daiquiri. As for the meal itself, the butterflied leg of lamb and the roast potatoes go down okay, but the arugula salad stings her mouth like nettles. Nervous and out of her depth, she eats and drinks too much, including two servings of chocolate cake that Wally himself describes as “positively decadent.” By the end of the evening, Paula has made herself sick and loses her dinner. The whole meal is Wally’s way of getting back at Paula, who he believes is trying to take advantage of Charlotte. It’s also meant to add a bit of humor to the book, depending on how you view Paula, who can be pretty obnoxious at times.

Returning to the role of food in Q and A scenes, it can be used to show how stressed one or more of the participants in these sessions becomes. This is evident in a scene where Kathryn’s lover’s mother invites her to a ladies-night-out at a local tavern. Although the purpose of the get-together is for the lover’s mother to confess to doing something she shouldn’t have, she becomes so uncomfortable that she cuts her burger into tiny pieces that she lifts to her mouth, but almost immediately puts back on the plate, leaving most of her dinner uneaten.

Yet if food can be used to show distress and other negative feelings, it can also be used to express love. Every weekend when Kathryn Stinson returns to the Berkshires, she finds her romantic partner, Earl Barker, making dinner—one night he’s grilling a beautiful piece of salmon, another night, it’s a fat, juicy round of kielbasa.

Readers, what are some memorable meals in books that you have either read or written? ♦

Wolf Bog

by Leslie Wheeler

July 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Wolf Bog by Leslie Wheeler

It’s August in the Berkshires, and the area is suffering from a terrible drought. As wetlands dry up, the perfectly preserved body of a local man, missing for forty years, is discovered in Wolf Bog by a group of hikers that includes Kathryn Stinson. Who was he and what was his relationship with close friend Charlotte Hinckley, also on the hike, that would make Charlotte become distraught and blame herself for his death? Kathryn’s search for answers leads her to the discovery of fabulous parties held at the mansion up the hill from her rental house, where local teenagers like the deceased mingled with the offspring of the wealthy. Other questions dog the arrival of a woman claiming to be the daughter Charlotte gave up for adoption long ago. But is she really Charlotte’s daughter, and if not, what’s her game? Once again, Kathryn’s quest for the truth puts her in grave danger.

Praise for Wolf Bog:

“Wheeler’s deep sense of place—the Berkshires—illuminates a deftly woven plot and a quirky cast of characters that will keep you glued to the pages until the last stunning revelation. It’s always a pleasure to be in the hands of a pro.”

Kate Flora, Edgar and Anthony nominated author

“When a long-lost teenager turns up dead, a cold case turns into hot murder. A deliciously intriguing Berkshire mystery.”

Sarah Smith, Agatha Award-winning author of The Vanished Child and Crimes and Survivors

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Amateur Sleuth/Suspense
Published by: Encircle Publishing
Publication Date: July 6, 2022
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN10: 164599385X (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781645993858 (paperback)
ASIN: B0B57VTWS2 (Kindle edition)
Series: A Berkshire Hilltown Mystery, #3
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Leslie Wheeler

An award-winning author of books about American history and biographies, Leslie Wheeler has written two mystery series. Her Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries launched with Rattlesnake Hill and continues with Shuntoll Road and Wolf Bog. Her Miranda Lewis Living History Mysteries debuted with Murder at Plimoth Plantation and continue with Murder at Gettysburg and Murder at Spouters Point. Her mystery short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. Leslie is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and a founding member of the New England Crime Bake Committee. She divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires, where she writes in a house overlooking a pond.

Catch Up With Leslie:
www.LeslieWheeler.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @lesliewheeler1
Twitter – @Leslie_Wheeler
Facebook – @LeslieWheelerAuthor

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Guest Post: BJ Magnani – A MESSAGE IN POISON

Good day, book people. Lately I’ve been pondering the notion that most fiction is not just creativity and skill at work in crafting a believable story, but it is also often the result of hours, if not weeks or months, of research on the author’s part. Suppose you don’t have an education or work-related background in the legal field. In that case, you’re probably going to have to do quite a bit of legal research (talking to lawyers, law enforcement officers, etc.) in order to make a legal thriller realistic. Conversely, if the author is a lawyer or physician, chances are their legal or medical fiction will be slightly more authentic. I’m incredibly honored to welcome physician, Dr. BJ Magnani, author of A Message in Poison to the blog today. Dr. Magnani will be discussing doctors writing fiction with us. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to share and add A Message in Poison to your ever-growing TBR list. Thank you, Dr. Magnani, for stopping by, the blog is all yours.

Doctors Writing Fiction
by BJ Magnani

 

When doctors write fiction, technical jargon flows and descriptions of medical situations are usually based on authenticity. While Dr. Lily Robinson’s medical cases are real, her assassinations are pure fiction—a winning combination. As the author, I use my knowledge of medicine to give Lily nuance. Not many people know what a pathologist does or may only have a narrow view gleaned from television. Are we the ghoul in the basement, the anti-social doctor who cannot interact with patients, or the physician who provides answers? Pathologists are sometimes called the ‘the doctor’s doctor’ because other physicians rely on us as consultants. We are the puzzle solvers and give the treating physician information to help them manage the patient. Pathologists are physicians who diagnose disease using tissues, cells, or body fluids and, based on those results, help determine prognosis and treatment. Pathologists make it happen if you need a blood test or a biopsy. Or a Covid-19 test.

Dr. Lily Robinson, the heroine of my books, is a pathologist. Her expertise is toxicology, and her comprehension of drugs allows her to help patients suffering from toxic overdoses. But she also has a dark side. Driven by guilt over the loss of her daughter, she became entrapped in the government’s plan to use her knowledge of toxins and poisons to eliminate world terrorists. Dr. Robinson rationalizes her dual existence with the mantra “the good of the many outweighs the good of the one,” or how else could she justify defying the Hippocratic oath? Like The Queen of All Poisons and The Power of Poison, A Message in Poison showcases the collision of medicine with frightening geopolitical events and the brilliant doctor who solves the puzzle.

The fun of fiction combines writing what we know with what we can imagine. ♦

A Message in Poison

by BJ Magnani

May 9 – June 3, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

A Message in Poison by BJ Magnani

Sparks fly as Dr. Lily Robinson-the brilliant academic pathologist and covert assassin for the U.S. Government-investigates two seemingly unrelated deaths alongside her lover, Agent Jean Paul Marchand, and D.C. Medical Examiner Dr. Logan Pelletier.

A U.S. Senator and the president of a developing nation are found dead in their beds. As governments thousands of miles apart react to the fallout and begin their investigations, no one claims responsibility, and no motives are clear. Yet, the cause of death implies a link between the two—one that only a mind versed in poisons and politics can decipher. With her personal relationships teetering on the brink and her loved ones facing foreign threats, Lily must unravel the mystery and uncover a plot more calculating than anyone could imagine—but it may be too late.

A Message in Poison, the third part of the Art of Secret Poisoning trilogy (The Queen of All Poisons and The Power of Poison), continues with twists and turns as Dr. Lily Robinson travels the globe, stares down death, and finds herself at “another crossroad, another choice between life real or imagined…”

The fast-paced action juxtaposes nicely with the personal dilemmas Lily faces as she uncovers a new plot that forces her to reconsider her talents and place in the world.
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Mystery / Thriller
Published by: Encircle Publications
Publication Date: April 20th, 2022
Number of Pages: 278
ISBN: 1645993256 (ISBN13: 9781645993254)
Series: A Dr. Lily Robinson Novel, The Art of Secret Poisoning Part 3
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

BJ Magnani

BJ Magnani (Barbarajean Magnani, PhD, MD, FCAP) is the author of the Dr. Lily Robinson novels: The Queen of All Poisons (Encircle Publications, 2019), The Power of Poison (Encircle Publications, 2021), and A Message In Poison (Encircle Publications, 2022.) Lily Robinson and the Art of Secret Poisoning (nVision Publishing, 2011) is the original collection of short stories featuring the brilliant, yet deadly, doctor. Dr. Magnani is internationally recognized for her expertise in clinical chemistry and toxicology, has been named a “Top Doctor” in Boston magazine, and was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Laboratory Medicine Professionals in the World by The Pathologist. She is Professor of Anatomic and Clinical Pathology (and Professor of Medicine) at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, and the former Chair of both the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Toxicology Committee and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Tufts Medical Center.

Follow BJ Magnani on:
www.BJMagnani.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @bjmagnani
Twitter – @bjmagnani
Facebook – @bjmagnaniauthor

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Guest Post: Matt Cost – MOUSE TRAP

Good day, book people. I’ve never really given much thought to the structure of the stories I read other than they should have an enticing beginning, good middle, and wrap everything up by the ending in a way that makes sense. It doesn’t matter if I’m reading fantasy, romance, science fiction, horror, mystery, or suspense, any story I read generally follows that rule to a certain extent. Today’s guest is the author of Mouse Trap, Matt Cost, and he’ll be providing us with some food for thought with his thoughts on the writing process. Thank you, Mr. Cost, for joining us today and sharing your insights. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

THE THREE ACTS OF A NOVEL
Thoughts by Matt Cost on the writing process

In doing a radio interview yesterday for The House of Mystery, I realized that writers and readers might be interested in the particular model that I’ve adopted and tweaked for my own writing.

I further break up the three acts of a novel into eight parts. Much like if I were to try to run a mile (yes, just one), I wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t break it down into smaller parts, the same is true in writing a book. It’s a massive undertaking and can be daunting if you think of the blood, sweat, tears, failure, success, and ultimately, critique, that you will face on this journey. It’s enough to keep one scrolling through Facebook instead of writing.

Therefore, I break my books into eight equal parts. I’ve decided after much research that the length of a mystery novel would best be 88,000. Some would say shorter, some would say longer. This works for me.

I’m also a sprinter regarding writing. I like momentum. Because of this, I have to go back and flesh out characters and scenes when the first draft is complete. In my WIP, at the midpoint of the book Mainely Wicked, I just realized who the antagonist is. This means that I’ll have to go back and build their character with subtle references and tweak the plot line.

Thus, my model suggests that I’m going to write 80,000 words, and then add 8,000 words with the edits. I’m hoping this isn’t too much math for the readers and writers out there. Don’t worry, this actually simplifies things. This means that I have eight equal parts of 10,000 words each. Every eighth of the book, every 12.5%, every 10,000 words, something must happen.

This breaks my novel into eight short stories in effect. While I generally start with an idea, I usually have no idea where I’m going until I get there. Sometimes I have a general destination in mind, but no idea of how I’m going to get there. Occasionally, I just have no idea. So, I try to come up with the action that drives the book every eighth of the way through. Take the first checkpoint, the inciting event. What is it? I establish that, and then I work toward it.

Let’s look at those eight pieces of pizza equally cut and what each has on it for a topping.

12.5%—or 10,000-words
Now, I don’t fish, but even I know that if you don’t throw a hook in the water, you’re not going to catch anything. At the beginning of every book, I throw a hook in the water, just to get the attention of the reader (sorry for comparing you to a fish). I will then propel the story toward the first checkpoint, the one/eighth- or 10,000-word mark. This is the inciting event that really gets the novel rolling, the point where I hope to have hooked the reader into not being able to put my book down.

25%—or 20,000-words
This is what the story is about, even if the main character has not yet grasped all of the intricacies of what is going on, the dye is now cast. At this point in the story, the life of the protagonist is completely changed. This is also the transfer point from the end of the first act and into the second act of the book, or the point of rising tension.

37.5%—or 30,000-words
This is known as the first pinch point. It is here that the antagonist flexes their muscles and makes a statement. The protagonist begins to get an inkling of the truth of the nature of the conflict in which they have become embroiled. For the first time, the reader is aware of the stakes, and that this might not be all nice and pretty. The game is on.

50%—or 40,000-words
The midpoint of the mystery is the moment when the protagonist stops taking punches and starts fighting back. Up until this point, they have been on the defensive, but here, something happens to put them on the offensive. They are no longer being reactive but become proactive.

62.5%—or 50,000-words
Okay, the antagonist must flex their muscles again, and show that this is no gravy train. Just as the protagonist starts to get a handle of the nature of the conflict, they get a slap to the face, a punch to the gut—a rude awakening that this is going to be a dogfight.

75%—or 60,000-words
It all falls apart. The antagonist gains the upper hand, and the protagonist is up a tree, with the bears circling below and no help in sight. Things are not looking good. The fish has slipped the hook. This propels us into the third act of the book and hurtling toward climax.

87.5%—or 70,000-words
This is when the protagonist regroups and begins to make plans to turn the tables and reach a successful conclusion. The cards are now all on the table, the stakes are set, and the final confrontation looms.

98%—or 78,400-words
Okay, I tweak things a bit here to leave a little room at the end for the summary. A little pillow time to recap the events and outcomes of the book. But at this mark, climax occurs, and the protagonist (or the antagonist) wins the day in a spectacular fireworks fashion that leaves the reader gasping at what just happened.

Do I follow this model to a T? Of course not. There are blemishes, hiccups, and detours along the way. But, as Robin William’s says in Good Will Hunting, those imperfections are the good things. I hope I’ve inspired some, given insight to others, and welcome any feedback, or pillow talk, on what I’ve set forth here today. ♦

Mouse Trap

by Matt L Cost

April 4-29, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Mouse Trap by Matt L Cost

When Clay Wolfe is hired to find out who tried to steal a mouse, he thought it was akin to a fireman getting a cat out of a tree. It wasn’t.

“Sometimes bad genes need to be stamped out and good ones need to be fostered,” Bridget Engel said. “There’s really no difference between mice and human beings when it comes to genes.” She wore a gray suit, and her blonde hair was cut short in the style that Hillary Clinton had made popular.

When Clay Wolfe rekindles an old romance, the summer is looking bright. It wasn’t.

He woke in the middle of the night, gathered his things, and slipped away. After Clay left, Victoria rose from the bed and went into the bathroom, carefully removed the condom from the Kleenex it was wrapped in, and put it in a plastic baggie.

Who is the mysterious man who clubs Westy with a hammer and threatens the lives of everybody Clay Wolfe holds dear?

Now, Clive Miller was a fixer. He took care of problems that arose. Once given a task, his hands weren’t tied, and he was well-paid for his troubles. There were two simple rules. Eliminate the problem. Don’t draw attention.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC
Publication Date: April 13, 2022
Number of Pages: 312
ISBN: 1645993299 (ISBN13: 9781645993292)
Series: A Clay Wolfe / Port Essex Mystery Book 3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Matt L Cost

Matt Cost is the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of the Mainely Mystery series. The first book, Mainely Power, was selected as the Maine Humanities Council Read ME fiction book of 2020. This was followed by Mainely Fear, Mainely Money, and Mainely Angst. I Am Cuba: Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution was his first traditionally published novel. He had another historical released in August of 2021, Love in a Time of Hate. Wolfe Trap and Mind Trap were the first two in the Clay Wolfe Port Essex Trap series. Mouse Trap is the third in this series. Cost was a history major at Trinity College. He owned a mystery bookstore, a video store, and a gym, before serving a ten-year sentence as a junior high school teacher. In 2014 he was released and began writing. And that’s what he does. He writes histories and mysteries. Cost now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing.

Catch Up With Matt:
www.mattcost.net
Goodreads
BookBub – @matthewcost
Instagram – @mlangdoncost
Twitter – @MattCost8
Facebook

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Guest Post: Lois Schmitt – PLAYING POSSUM

Playing Possum

by Lois Schmitt

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Good day, book people. Have you ever considered the importance of the names of characters. Would Gone with the Wind have been as memorable without characters named Scarlett and Rhett? Would we still be talking about Pride and Prejudice if the primary characters weren’t named Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy? (Did you even remember his first name was Fitzwilliam?!) We place a lot of importance on names, whether consciously or subconsciously aware. Today’s guest, Lois Scmitt, author of Playing Possum is joining us and discussing the importance of names. Thank you, Ms. Schmitt, for joining us today and sharing with us your thoughts on “what’s in a name.” I hope everyone will enjoy your insights, add Playing Possum to their TBR lists, and follow this blog tour to learn more about this book and author. Ms. Schmitt, the blog is now all yours.

What’s In a Name?
by Lois Schmitt

Who is older—Ethel or Ashley? Who comes from old family money—Cynthia Pickney Winslet or Blanche Dipple?

Names tell a lot about characters. They create powerful images. Fagan (Oliver Twist) immediately makes you think “bad guy.” Since a name is often the reader’s first introduction to a character, it can be instrumental in creating a first impression.

Another reason names are important is to enable the reader to recall characters that may have appeared in earlier chapters. In reading a mystery, this is essential if you are an armchair detective who wants to figure out “whodunit.” For this reason, names need to be memorable.

One technique that can be used, sparingly, to help the reader remember is to have a name that relates to the character’s profession. This actually happens in real life. Years ago, there was a veterinarian in my community named Dr. Fish and a Water Commissioner whose last name was Flood.

In my mystery series, my amateur sleuth deals with two police detectives—Detective Wolfe and Detective Fox. My sleuth is a writer for a wildlife magazine, so since my series deals with animals, there is a connection. The detectives are introduced in my first mystery, Monkey Business, which involves murder at a zoo. My sleuth makes the following comment upon meeting them.

“Wolfe? Fox? At a zoo? Really?”

There are lots of other ways to make names memorable. If a character mentions how he got his name that can make it easier to remember. For example, a character named Cody might state that his parents had a fascination with Buffalo Bill whose real name was William Cody.

In the series by G.A. MeKevett, her main character is named Savannah Reid. Savannah was born in Georgia. Her brothers and sisters are also named after cities in that state, such as Marietta, and Macon.

First and last names that begin with the same letter can sometimes be easier to remember too. In my new mystery, Playing Possum, I have a character named George Grogin.

In mysteries, names can sometimes provide clues to the murderer. Example: A necklace with the initial “E” is found at a crime scene. There are three suspects—Emma, Beth, and Mary. It must be Emma, right? Wrong. Beth is actually a common nickname for Elizabeth. Although this suspect may be called Beth throughout the book, an armchair detective might figure it out along with the amateur sleuth.

Choosing character names is fun, and I use lots of methods. The most obvious is the white pages of the phone book. (Yes, I have an old copy.) Thanks to the Internet, I also can research the most popular names for the year, and I can go back many years to check (Example: The most popular names of 1970.)

I also pay attention to names in the newspaper, on television, and of people I meet. While I would never knowingly use someone’s real name, I might combine one person’s first name with someone else’s last name if I thought the two names worked together.

I have two ways to help me overcome writer’s block, and I use these to help me with names too. I think about a character right before I go to bed and often wake up with a name. I also take a walk every day, weather permitting. I like to walk in a nature preserve near my home. I’ll think of a character while I’m walking and sometimes a name will pop up.

Names are important as they are part of a character’s identity and help enrich the story. ♦

Playing Possum

by Lois Schmitt

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Playing Possum by Lois Schmitt

Murder, Mayhem, and Missing Animals.

When animals mysteriously disappear from the Pendwell Wildlife Refuge, former English teacher turned magazine reporter Kristy Farrell is on the case. Days later, the body of the refuge’s director is found in a grassy clearing.

Kristy, assisted by her veterinarian daughter, investigates and discovers strong motives among the suspects, including greed, infidelity, betrayal, and blackmail.

As Kristy delves further, she finds herself up against the powerful Pendwell family, especially matriarch Victoria Buckley Pendwell, chair of the refuge board of trustees, and Victoria’s son, Austin Pendwell, who is slated to run for the state senate.

But ferreting out the murderer and finding the missing animals aren’t Kristy only challenges. While researching a story on puppy mills, she uncovers criminal activity that reaches far beyond the neighborhood pet store.

Meanwhile, strange things are happening back at the refuge, and soon a second murder occurs. Kristy is thwarted in her attempts to discover the murderer by her old nemesis, the blustery Detective Wolfe.

Kristy perseveres and as she unearths shady deals and dark secrets, Kristy slowly draws the killer out of the shadows.

Praise for Playing Possum:

Lois Schmitt’s Playing Possum does cozies proud. Fresh and traditional all at once.”
-Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of Sleepless City

“In her third book of the series, writer Lois Schmitt has crafted an intricately-plotted mystery full of twists and humor, with a cast of colorful characters, set in a wildlife refuge rehab center. Cozy fans, and especially followers of Schmitt’s animal lovers’ mysteries, will find great entertainment in Playing Possum.”
-Phyllis Gobbell, award-winning author of the Jordan Mayfair Mysteries

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Encircle Publications
Publication Date: December 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 296
ISBN: 1645993051 (hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781645993056 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781645993049 (paperback)
ASIN: B09LK4CFB7 (Kindle edition)
Series: A Kristy Farrell Animal Lovers Mystery, #3
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Lois Schmitt

A mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew, Lois Schmitt combined a love of mysteries with a love of animals in her series featuring animal magazine reporter Kristy Farrell. Lois is member of several wildlife conservation and humane organizations, as well as Mystery Writers of America. She received 2nd runner-up for the Killer Nashville Claymore award for her second book in the series entitled Something Fishy, She previously served as media spokesperson for a local consumer affairs agency and currently teaches at a community college. Lois lives in Massapequa, Long Island with her family, which includes a 120 pound Bernese Mountain dog. This dog bears a striking resemblance to Archie, a dog of many breeds featured in her Kristy Farrell Mystery Series.

Catch Up With Lois Schmitt:
LoisSchmitt.com
Goodreads
Instagram: @loisschmittmysteries
Twitter: @schmittmystery
Facebook: @LoisSchmittAuthor

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Book Showcase: THE LAST SPEAKER OF SKALWEGIAN by David Gardner

The Last Speaker of Skalwegian by David Gardner Banner

The Last Speaker of Skalwegian

by David Gardner

November 1-30, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Last Speaker of Skalwegian by David Gardner

Professor Lenny Thorson lives in a defunct revolving restaurant, obsesses over word derivations, and teaches linguistics at a fourth-rate college with a gerbil for a mascot. Lenny’s thirty-four years have not been easy—he grew up in a junkyard with his widowed father and lives under a cloud of guilt for having killed another boxer as a teenager.

Desperate to save his teaching career, Lenny seizes the opportunity to document the Skalwegian language with its last living speaker, Charlie Fox. Life appears to have finally taken a turn for the better…

Unfortunately for Lenny, it hasn’t. He soon finds himself at war with Charlie, his dean, a ruthless mobster, and his own conscience.

A genial protagonist will keep readers enticed throughout this amusing romp.
~ Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Thriller, Academic Setting
Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC
Publication Date: September 8th 2021
Number of Pages: 308
ISBN: 164599239X (ISBN13: 9781645992394)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Book Trailer:

 

Read an excerpt:

“Why document the Skalwegian language?” Charlie Fox asked. “The answer to your question should be obvious: I want to save the language of my Scandinavian ancestors and preserve their culture for future generations. I’m no longer young, and if I don’t act soon, Skalwegian will disappear forever. And give Professor Lenny Thorson a lot of the credit. He’s a linguist—I sure couldn’t do the job without him.”

The Last Speaker of Skalwegian, Newsweek

Chapter 1

Weegan

A word in the Skalwegian language loosely translated as butthead (impolite usage)

Lenny Thorson watched the red pickup roar into the parking lot, a statue propped up in back. It was the Ghurkin College mascot, an eight-foot-tall gerbil.

Charlie nudged Lenny. “You sure you want tenure at a college with a rat for a mascot?”

“It’s a gerbil. And yes, I do. Jobs are scarce.”

Gerry Gerbil stood on his hind legs and stared into the distance, a football clutched in his right front paw, his rat-like tail draped over his left. He looked hot and humiliated.

Lenny too felt hot and humiliated, and he guessed that Gerry hated parades as much as he did. Lenny tugged his sweaty shirt away from his chest. It was a sunny September afternoon, with heat waves shimmering off the blacktop in front of the building where he lived. He badly wanted the day to be over.

The pickup swung around with a screech of tires and backed up to Lenny’s beat-up Chevy. Two college students in matching black muscle shirts stepped out. Brothers, Lenny guessed. They were a wide-shouldered pair with mussy brown hair and long ears.

Lenny reached out his hand. “I’m Lenny Thorson and this is Charlie Fox.”

“Yeah, I know,” the taller one said, glanced at Lenny’s outstretched hand, then climbed onto the back of the pickup and untied the statue.

Lenny and Charlie dragged the wood-and-papier-mâché gerbil from the bed of the pickup, boosted it atop Lenny’s car and stood it upright.

One brother thumbed his phone while the other fed ropes through the open doors and around the mascot’s ankles.

The boy was careless as well as rude, Lenny told himself, and he was tempted to order him to untie the ropes and start over, but Lenny hated confrontation. Once he was around the corner and out of sight, he would stop and retie the knots. He didn’t want anything bad to happen to Gerry Gerbil.

On second thought, did he really give a damn?

Charlie threw his right leg over his motorcycle, gripped the handlebars and bounced once in the saddle. He wore jeans and a T-shirt that read ‘So Are You!’ He nodded toward Gerry. “He looks like a weegan, and so will you when you parade him through the center of town.”

Lenny hadn’t yet learned that word in Skalwegian. “Weegan?”

“‘Butthead.'”

Lenny nodded. He was a weegan.

Charlie looked particularly worn and shrunken today, Lenny thought, especially astraddle his beefy black Harley. His hair was gray, his skin leathery, his chin neatly dimpled from Iraqi shrapnel. He was fifty-one—seventeen years older than Lenny—and eight inches shorter.

At six feet four, Lenny was always embarrassed by his size. He wished he could go through life unnoticed. He wondered if Gerry Gerbil ever felt the same.

The shorter brother slapped the mascot’s foot. “Have fun at the parade, professor.”

Both brothers laughed.

Lenny didn’t expect to have fun. His gut told him that the day would go badly.

* * *

Bob One wasn’t happy about whacking a professor. He specialized in crooked bookies, wise guys who’d flipped, and casino managers caught skimming. But never a civilian. Bob One believed in upholding the ethics of his profession.

He parted the tall tan grass at the side of the road, pinched a mosquito off the tip of his nose and peered westward. No cars yet, but the guy who’d hired him had said his target always took this route on his way into town and would have to slow to a crawl here at the switchback. Bob One figured he’d have plenty of time to pop up, rush forward, blast the guy at close range, then get the hell back to Chicago where he belonged.

* * *

Lenny eyed the brothers, now slouched against his car’s front fender, both lost in their phones. He couldn’t remember ever seeing them on the Ghurkin College campus, the fourth-rate institution an hour west of Boston where he taught French and linguistics. “I didn’t catch your names.”

The taller one glanced up. “You don’t know who we are?”

Lenny shook his head.

The boys exchanged puzzled looks. The taller one said, “I’m Tom Sprocket, and that’s my brother Titus.”

The names sounded familiar, but Lenny didn’t know where he’d heard them. He could memorize entire pages of the dictionary in one sitting, but he was terrible with names.

Tom pocketed his phone and looked Lenny up and down. “Did you play football in college?”

“No,” Lenny said.

Tom snickered. “Afraid of getting hurt?”

“I was afraid of hurting someone else.”

Tom snorted. “Man, that’s all the fun.”

No, it’s wasn’t, Lenny told himself. Hurting someone wasn’t fun at all. Twenty-one years ago, while fighting underage with a fake name, he’d killed an opponent in the boxing ring. Guilt still clung to Lenny, ate into his soul.

Tom gestured with a thick thumb over his shoulder toward the office building behind the parking lot. “You live on top of that thing?”

Lenny nodded.

“You’re weird, man.”

Lenny stiffened. He did feel weird for living in an abandoned rotating restaurant atop a ten-story insurance building, but didn’t particularly enjoy being told so.

But in spite of Tom’s rudeness, Lenny wouldn’t let himself get angry with the boy or even with Dean Sheepslappe who, for some reason, insisted he participate in the Gerry Gerbil Alumni Day Parade, even threatening to block his tenure if he refused. Lenny had grown up angry, had fought with rage in the ring, but after that last fight, he’d promised himself he would never again lose his temper. Some people found this strange, Lenny knew, some sweet. Others used his good nature as a way to take advantage of him. Lenny knew that too.

Titus Sprocket smirked and said, “I heard the place starts up running sometimes all on its own.”

The Moon View Revolving Restaurant had failed financially in just six months, when its motor took to speeding up at random moments, knocking staff off their feet and sending diners sliding sideways off their booths and onto the floor. Lenny moved in shortly afterwards. He was paying minimal rent in the abandoned restaurant in return for serving as its live-in caretaker. He found it oddly comforting to be the world’s only linguist who inhabited a rotating restaurant. “Sometimes it makes a couple of turns in the middle of the night,” Lenny said, “then shuts down. It’s no problem.”

It was in fact a problem. When the deranged motors and gears got it into their head to noctambulate, they did so with a terrific bellow and jolt that made Lenny sit up wide awake, and which frightened Elspeth so badly that she’d stopped staying overnight.

But Lenny wasn’t bothered by the smirking Sprockets. In fact, he felt sorry for the boys, regarding them as underprivileged lads from some sunbaked state where children ran barefoot across red clay all summer and ate corn pone for breakfast.

Lenny wondered what corn pone tasted like and—more importantly—what was the origin of the word pone? A Native American term? Spanish? Skalwegian even?

He turned to Charlie, astride his motorcycle and fiddling with one of its dials. “Is pone a word in Skalwegian?”

“It sure is,” Charlie said without looking up. “It means ‘He who makes a big weegan of himself by driving an eight-foot rat through the center of town.'”

“You’re no help.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

Lenny drifted off to ruminate on pone. The campus newspaper had labeled him the most distracted member of the faculty—misplacing his briefcase, forgetting to show up for class, walking into trees. But he’d also been one of the most popular until he’d flunked a pair of star football players. The school newspaper excoriated him, and fans called him a traitor. A few students considered him a hero, however. Lenny wanted to be neither.

Charlie tightened his helmet and slipped the key into the ignition. “I got to get back to the farm because Sally must have lunch ready by now. Besides, I don’t want to stick around and watch my good buddy make a big weegan of himself.”

“Can you come over tomorrow? We got only halfway through the G verbs this morning.”

“Tomorrow I got to work on the barn roof. Maybe the day after. Or the day after that.”

Charlie started the engine, leaned into the handlebars and roared away in a blast of blue smoke.

Lenny watched him go. There were times when Lenny felt like quitting the project. Charlie used him as resource—”What’s a gerund? Where do hyphens go? What in hell is a predicate complement?”—but had given him no real role in documenting the language itself. Although this was frustrating and puzzling, it was never quite enough to force Lenny to drop out. He took great pride in helping save a language, not to mention that it was a hot topic in linguistic circles and would go a long way toward saving his teaching job.

Tom and Titus simultaneously tucked their muscle shirts into their waistbands. Titus said, “We was football players.”

“Oh?” Lenny said. He paid no attention to team sports but closely attended to subject/verb conflicts.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Titus said. “But we got cheated and ain’t never going to get our whack at the NFL.”

Distracted, Lenny tugged on Gerry’s ropes. Yes, they’d definitely need retying. It pleased him to hear someone say ain’t so naturally and not merely to make an ironic point. He said over his shoulder, “NFL—that would be the National Federation of… uh…?”

“Holy shit on a shingle!” Titus said. “I’m talking about the National Football League—big money, fame and all the poontang a guy could ever want.”

Lenny had read somewhere that poontang descended from New Orleans Creole, from putain, the French word for prostitute, but he wasn’t absolutely sure. He would look into this later, along with pone. He turned to the brothers. “Something went wrong?”

The Sprockets looked at each other in wonder. “Yeah, you could say that,” Titus said. “We got screwed.”

“Yeah, screwed,” Tom repeated.

Lenny said, “That’s a shame.”

“Yeah, well, we’re gonna get payback,” Titus said and patted Gerry’s foot.

Lenny climbed into his car and eased out of the parking lot. Ropes squeaked against the door frames, the statue’s base creaked on the Chevy’s roof, and Lenny was sure he heard Gerry groan in anticipation of the dreadful day ahead.

In his rearview mirror, Lenny watched the diminishing Sprocket brothers waving and laughing. What an odd pair, he thought.

Lenny decided to take his usual route through the arboretum on his way downtown. The beauty and isolation of the place soothed him. He hoped it would today.

* * *

Bob One spotted a car approaching and got to his feet. It was an old black Chevy with a maroon right front fender. Don’t all professors drive Priuses?

But it had to be the guy on account of the statue on top like he’d been told to look for. What was that thing? A squirrel? A rat? Look at how the damn thing wobbles! About ready to tip over.

Bob One slipped closer to the road, crouched behind a bush, pulled his pistol from his belt and slapped a mosquito off his forehead. He examined the bloody splotch on his palm. Shit, stick around much longer, and the damn insects would suck him dead.

* * *

Lenny was scared.

In two days, he had to go on live television with Charlie and discuss their Skalwegian project—not easy for someone wanting to go through life invisible. Would he make a fool of himself? Say dumb things he’d later regret?

Probably.

Lenny’s thoughts turned back to the Sprocket brothers. Strange last name. Scholars could trace sprocket back as far as the mid-sixteenth century as a carpenter’s term but hadn’t yet located an ancestor.

Tom and Titus Sprocket!

Of course!

He’d flunked them in first-year French because they never showed up for class, which cost them their eligibility to play football. The dean had been furious with him but not with the errant guard and tackle. Jocks normally took Spanish with Juan Jorgenson—the other candidate for the language department’s one tenured slot. Juan automatically gave A’s to athletes just for registering.

Lenny reached over and cranked up the radio for the boisterous ending of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, then glanced up to see he was driving much too fast into Jackknife Corner.

Panicked, he jammed on the brakes and twisted the steering wheel hard left.

He felt the car tilt to the right and heard a loud Thunk! just as Beethoven’s Fifth swelled to a crescendo. Puzzled, Lenny drove on, with the Chevy pulling to the right. Probably something to do with tire pressure, Lenny guessed. He’d have that checked later.

* * *

Bob One lay on the side of road. Blood flowed out his left ear and down his cheek. His head buzzed, and his eyes slipped in and out of focus. He pulled himself to his feet, wobbled, then toppled into the ditch. He crawled into the marsh, still gripping his unfired handgun. Puddles soaked his knees and elbows. A possum trotted past. An airplane roared low overhead. Or was that inside his skull?

Bob One’s left temple hurt like a son of a bitch. That damn rat had toppled over and whacked him on the side of the head. Or was it a guinea pig?

Bob One curled up beside a bog. Half-conscious, he watched a fat snapping turtle waddle toward him, stop two feet from his nose, look him up and down, then open its jaw. Shit, Bob One said to himself, the thing’s got a mouth the size of a catcher’s mitt. Bob One didn’t like animals or much of anything else in nature. He tried to crawl away, but things started going dark—warm and dark—not such a bad feeling, actually.

Bob One awoke to see the turtle biting his right forefinger off at the second joint. Bob One felt no pain and noticed that one of his shoes was missing. As Bob One slipped comfortably into his final darkness, he wondered if a missing trigger finger would hinder him professionally.

* * *

Lenny reached the parade route late and swung in behind the school bandsmen in their sky-blue uniforms with “Skammer’s Fine Meats” embroidered in bright yellow across the back.

Spectators to Lenny’s right shouted and pointed. Some ducked, some knelt, some even dropped to their stomachs. Lenny shook his head in disbelief. Had students and townspeople taken to prostrating themselves before the college mascot? Did he really want tenure at a batty place like this?

At the end of the block, a policeman holding a Dunkin’ Donuts cup stepped into the street, raised his palm, and forced Lenny to brake.

As Lenny stepped from his car, he realized that he’d forgotten to retie the ropes.

Gerry Gerbil lay sideways across the car’s roof, projecting five feet to the right, the ankles tied precariously in place. Someone took a photo. Someone fingered the slack ropes and spoke of slip knots. Lenny touched a patch of something red and damp on the mascot’s forehead. Lenny rubbed thumb against forefinger. The stuff looked like blood.

Since when did gerbil statues bleed?

***

Excerpt from The Last Speaker of Skalwegian by David Gardner. Copyright 2021 by David Gardner. Reproduced with permission from David Gardner. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

David Gardner

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 and worked as a reporter and in the computer industry. 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: “The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller” and “The Last Speaker of Skalwegian” (both with Encircle Publications, LLC). He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, also a writer. He hikes, bikes, messes with astrophotography, and plays the keyboard with no discernible talent whatsoever.

Catch Up With David:
DavidGardnerAuthor.com
Goodreads
Instagram – @davidagardner07
Facebook

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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.

guestpost.png

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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Guest Author: Lois Schmitt – SOMETHING FISHY

Good day, book people. I hope that everyone has had a great week and found some time for reading. I had been in a bit of a reading slump lately due to these incessant migraine headaches accompanied by a bit of vertigo (migraine the gift that keeps on giving). Fortunately, the slump is over and it’s back to reading some favorites (I know, I keep saying I won’t do it then I do…I love re-reading!) as well as some new-to-me authors and books. Having a blog is a great way to be introduced to these new-to-me authors and books considering there are at least 2700 books released each day (yes, that IS the number for daily new releases). Today I’m pleased to introduce you to one such new-to-me authors, Lois Schmitt. Ms. Schmitt writes the Kristy Farrell mysteries including Something Fishy and she’ll be discussing unusual animals with us today. So kick back, grab a cool beverage, and let’s visit with Lois Schmitt for awhile. Thank you, Ms. Schmitt for joining us today, I’m looking forward to what you have to say. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

 

The Most Unusual Animal

by Lois Schmitt

If you were to pick the most unusual animal in the world what would it be? The giraffe because of its long neck? The elephant with its trunk? The zebra that looks like a horse in crazy striped pajamas?

My mystery series always involves animals in some way. In researching background on wildlife, I’ve come across several strange creatures.

The duck-billed platypus looks as if its body was formed by a committee—with each committee member picking a part. This animal has the beak of a duck, the tail of a beaver, and the torso of an otter. The duck-billed platypus is native to Australia. The male is one of the world’s few venomous mammals. It has sharp stingers on the heel of its feet which can discharge this venom.

Next is the midwife toad—who carries his eggs on the back of his legs. Yes, HIS legs. It is the male who does this. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the midwife toad puts his back legs into the water. Soon after, tiny tadpoles burst out of the eggs and start swimming.

Then, there is the pinecone that moves, otherwise known as a pangolin. Of course, it’s not a real pinecone—it just looks like one when it rolls up in a ball for protection. The pangolin does this when it senses danger. Its dark brown scales are very hard, and they act as armor.

A sloth is the slowest animal in the world. It spends most of its life hanging upside down from a tree. It eats, sleeps, and gives birth to its babies this way. The three-toed sloth has arms that are 50% longer than its legs. Sloths sleep more than twenty hours a day. When awake, they barely move.

Another unusual animal is the fainting goat. When frightened, this animal’s muscles become completely stiff, and the goat falls over. Luckily, this causes no pain, and the goat recovers in ten to twenty seconds.

The lyrebird is unique in its ability to imitate sounds of not only human voices and other animals, but also the noises of industrial and power equipment. These birds have been found mimicking the noise of a chainsaw in a forest, a camera shutter opening and closing, and a car alarm. A single lyrebird also has the ability to imitate the sounds made by an entire flock of birds.

One of the world’s funniest looking creatures comes from the ocean—the red lipped batfish. Its bright red lips make it appear as if it is wearing lipstick. It also looks like it has legs, but these are actually fins that it uses to stand on the ocean floor.

While the red lipped batfish may have a comical appearance, the goblin shark, is one of the world’s scariest looking fish. Often called a “living fossil,” it resembles a prehistoric monster with its beady eyes, huge snout, and its bizarre extendable jaw. Elastic tissue allows the jaw to be thrust three inches out when capturing prey. It gets its name from the long nosed, red faced, Japanese demon known as the Tengu.

Since the goblin shark lives deep in the ocean, sightings of it are rare. I don’t have a goblin shark in my mystery, Something Fishy, but my protagonist does have an encounter with a nine foot bull shark. Although the bull shark doesn’t resemble a prehistoric monster, it is frightening to see one coming toward you.

What animal do you think is the most unusual?


 

Something Fishy

by Lois Schmitt

June 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

When attorney Samuel Wong goes missing. wildlife magazine reporter Kristy Farrell believes the disappearance is tied into her latest story concerning twenty acres of prime beachfront property that the Clam Shell Cove Aquarium hopes to purchase. Sam works for multi-millionaire land developer Lucien Moray who wants to buy the property for an upscale condominium. The waterfront community is divided on this issue like the Hatfields and McCoys with environmentalists siding with the aquarium and local business owners lining up behind Moray.

Meanwhile, a body is found in the bay. Kristy, aided by her veterinarian daughter, investigates and discovers deep secrets among the aquarium staff–secrets that point to one of them as a killer. Soon the aquarium is plagued with accidents, Kristy has a near death encounter with a nine foot bull shark, and a second murder occurs.

But ferreting out the murderer and discovering the story behind Sam’s disappearance aren’t Kristy’s only challenges. When her widowed septuagenarian mother announces her engagement, Kristy suspects her mom’s soon to be husband is not all he appears to be. As Kristy tries to find the truth before her mother ties the knot, she also races the clock to find the aquarium killer before this killer strikes again.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Encircle Publications
Publication Date: July 15th 2019
Number of Pages: 244
ISBN: 1948338793 (ISBN13: 9781948338790)
Series: A Kristy Farrell Mystery #2 || Each is a Stand-Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Encircle Publications | Goodreads

Author Bio:

A mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew, Lois Schmitt combined a love of mysteries with a love of animals in her series featuring wildlife reporter Kristy Farrell. She is a member of several wildlife and humane organizations as well as Mystery Writers of America. Lois worked for many years as a freelance writer and is the author of Smart Spending, a consumer education book for young people. She previously worked as media spokesperson for a local consumer affairs agency and currently teaches at Nassau Community College on Long Island. Lois lives in Massapequa with her family which includes a 120 pound Bernese Mountain Dog. This dog bears a striking resemblance to Archie, a dog of many breeds who looks like a small bear, featured in her Kristy Farrell Mystery Series. Lois was 2nd runner up for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award for Something Fishy.

Catch Up With Our Author:
LoisSchmitt.com
Goodreads
Twitter: @schmittmystery
Facebook: @LoisSchmittAuthor
Instagram: @loisschmittmysteries

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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lois Schmitt. There will be TWO winners. TWO (2) winners will each receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card of varying amounts. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2021 and ends on July 1, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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