Guest Post: Connie di Marco – SERPENT’S DOOM

Good day, my fellow book lovers. Have you ever read a book and recognized a familiar or beloved establishment as the setting and thought, “those were the days?” Today’s guest, Connie di Marco, author of Serpent’s Doom is joining us today to discuss just that, memories of a beloved San Francisco store that became the fictional setting for the Zodiac Mysteries. I hope you’ll enjoy what Ms. di Marco has to share, add Serpent’s Doom to your TBR list, as well as follow the blog tour to learn more about this book and its author. Thank you, Ms. di Marco, for taking the time to stop by the blog once again. I look forward to hearing what you have to share with us today. The blog is now all yours.

Memories of the Mystic Eye
by Connie di Marco

When I started to write the first Zodiac Mystery (The Madness of Mercury), I never planned that the fictional Mystic Eye occult bookshop would become a recurring location. I should have realized that it would as the series went on. After all, my San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, discovered her first astrology books there. Her best friend Gale runs the shop and then later, Cheryl takes a job to manage the bookshop and becomes a dear friend. On top of that, The Mystic Eye attracts a unique group of psychics, mediums, past life regression hypnotists who have become important secondary characters.

But back up a few decades. Many years ago, there was a real Mystic Eye Occult Bookshop in San Francisco. It was just down the street from the fictional one, on Broadway, and across Columbus Avenue. I remember it well. It was a one-of-a-kind (at the time) occult shop, selling books, talismans, gifts, candle burning supplies and all sorts of other unique items. I figured the real shop had been gone for so many years, it was safe to use the same name. Who would remember?

Guess again – lots of people remember the real Mystic Eye with fond memories and somehow they’ve stumbled upon my books or a blog post about the shop and they’ve written to me about their experiences. I was thrilled to hear from them!

Ron M. wrote to ask if the Mystic Eye (in the Zodiac Mysteries) had anything to do with the 1970’s San Francisco Mystic Eye Occult Bookshop, next to the Green Turtle Bus Company, owned by Aeryn who had a weekly radio broadcast.

Susa said it was such a wonderful shop, full of books on magic and mysticism, incense and figurines. She had a spontaneous mystical experience back in the late 1970’s, and being an Atheist, had no idea what had happened to her. In trying to research it, she ran across the Mystic Eye. She said, “I found more than books. I found a community of Witches and Pagans that changed the course of my life. I am forever grateful to that mysterious little shop and its staff, and still mourn its closing after all these years!”

Ron L. was a teenager when he discovered the Mystic Eye and would spend his hard-earned money on a book or a piece of jewelry. He loved the fountain by the window and the candle burning in the center. He made friends with one of the employees and later did a Tarot reading for her. He said it was an amazing experience.

Jem was only sixteen when she first discovered the Mystic Eye. She was intrigued by the pentagram on the floor and bought her first spell candle that day. Her path has been “many shades of magic” since then.

Robert L. used to work at the shop. He wondered what happened to the zodiac mosaic in the floor where he was initiated. He said, “If that circle could talk. . .”

Pam went to San Francisco on vacation. She fell in love with the shop and bought a crystal ball.

Mo said he had heard there were rumors that the Zodiac Killer worked at the Mystic Eye in the 70s and 80s.

Micah worked at the Mystic Eye and lived with Aeryn, the owner, from the time he was 14 until he went to college. He took care of her until her death in 2014. He said she was an amazing and knowledgeable woman, one of a kind.

Pamela had her cards read at the Mystic Eye in the late ’60s or very early ’70s. She said the scent of that storefront was so unique, as was the shop itself. Her husband made a pendant (an upside-down cross) for the infamous Anton LaVey. She said, “Yes those were the days!”

Blake remembered all the mirrors and cool stuff when he walked around North Beach, barefoot in a toga with dragons, tripping his brains out.

Nancy loved the shop and visited often. She purchased incense, body oils, little pouches of magic roots and herbs. She can still recall the aroma inside.

Scott loved the shop. He bought incense and had spells removed. He once bought a jar of incense that was labeled ‘5 plus cous-cous.’ He said, “How did we ever survive the Haight? Maybe the 5-plus cous-cous gave us eternal life.”

All these memories! I too remember the shop well. I bought candles and a book on candle-burning rituals. Who knew that so many people would remember the real Mystic Eye?

I only hope the fictional shop delivers as many good memories for readers! ♦

Serpent’s Doom

by Connie di Marco

May 23 – June 17, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Serpent's Doom by Connie di Marco

As San Francisco’s Chinatown prepares for the Lunar New Year festivities in the fogbound month of February, astrologer Julia Bonatti finds herself with three new clients, all in desperate straits who don’t seem to heed her advice. Tracy is the victim of a brutal husband with nowhere to run and Jeanette is worried sick about her son, whom she suspects has fallen in with a bad lot.

But most frightening of all to Julia is Frankie Chang’s dilemma. Frankie’s only eleven years old and he’s terrified. His mother is missing and no one will help him. Julia’s heart goes out to him but her hands are tied. Frankie won’t let her talk to the police and neither will his family.

Julia eventually discovers that the three worlds of her clients intertwine. Those lives inevitably collide exposing a dangerous smuggling cabal. Julia knows too much and becomes a victim of both a ruthless environmental group and criminals who will stop at nothing, including murder.

Kudos for Serpent’s Doom

“Connie di Marco’s twin loves of Astrology and the detective fiction genre are on full display in her latest installment of the Zodiac Mysteries: Serpent’s Doom. It makes perfect sense to fuse these two disciplines in which intelligence, intuition, and interpretation play such a key role. It’s also a delight to see Astrology driving the plot forward rather than employed as a mere gimmick. This adds dimension and suspense to how the mystery plays out and di Marco’s wonderfully cinematic prose keeps you turning the pages in increasing anticipation.”
-Christopher Renstrom, astrologer for the San Francisco Chronicle, SF Gate and Astrology Hub, author of The Cosmic Calendar and creator of rulingplanets.com

“Intriguing and riveting, Connie di Marco’s latest Zodiac Mystery, Serpent’s Doom, is a new year’s firecracker of an adventure. Told with heart and conscience, Serpent’s Doom features a superb cast and setting, with a plot right out of the headlines. The best yet in this highly original series.”
-James W. Ziskin, author of the award-winning Ellie Stone Mysteries

“Connie di Marco’s Zodiac Mysteries have it all: vibrant characters, sharp and suspenseful plots and comedic interludes. I love the added bonus of astrology and metaphysics and eagerly await the next installment.”
-Karen Christino, astrologer and author of Foreseeing the Future

“San Francisco Astrologer Julia Bonatti will need more than the stars when she tries to help a boy find his missing mother. di Marco takes us on a thrill ride from Chinatown to famed Bay City locales. An enticing mystery with compelling characters who pull you in. ‘Dear Zodia, is it in the stars that Connie di Marco will write more Zodiac Mysteries?’ I certainly hope so, because I’m hooked!”
-Laurie Stevens, author of the award-winning Gabriel McKay suspense novels

“Another page-turner with San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti. I alternately wanted to shake her and cheer her on as she reluctantly becomes entangled with a boy who needs her help. A fascinating look into a different culture, where involving the police is a bad idea, prompting Julia to take matters into her own hands.”
-Sheila Lowe, best-selling author of the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries and the Beyond the Veil Mysteries suspense novels

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: April 26, 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN10: 0578326566 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9780578326566 (paperback)
ASIN: B09TSKZJ1T (Kindle edition)
Series: A Zodiac Mystery, 4th (Each is a Stand-Alone Work)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Connie di Marco

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring Julia Bonatti, a San Francisco astrologer who never thought murder would be part of her practice. Writing as Connie Archer, she’s the national bestselling author of the Soup Lovers’ Mysteries from Berkeley Prime Crime. Her recipes and excerpts can be found in The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook and The Cozy Cookbook. Connie is a member of the Crime Writers Association (UK), Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Connie di Marco:
www.ConniediMarco.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @Connie_di_Marco
Instagram – @Connie_di_Marco
Twitter – @askzodia
Facebook – @zodiacmysteries

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Steven C. Harms – THE COUNSEL OF THE CUNNING

The Counsel of the Cunning

by Steven C. Harms

November 8 – December 3, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Good day, book people. For those of you in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! One of the many things I’m grateful for are the amazing characters developed by authors. Where would a good story be without good characters (and an amazing talent for crafting readable and believable storylines)? Like many of you, I have beloved characters from classic literature as well as contemporary fiction. However, I never really gave any thought to an author having a favorite character in anything they craft. I’m incredibly pleased that Steven C. Harms, author of The Counsel of the Cunning is willing to stop by and discuss just that, his favorite character in his writings. Sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and let’s learn which character Mr. Harms likes best. I hope you’ll stick around to follow the blog tour and learn more about this book and author. Thank you, Mr. Harms for joining us today. I’ll now be turning the blog over to you.

My Favorite Character in the Viceroy series

When I created detective Roger Viceroy, one of my major influences was Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s amazing series. I fashioned Viceroy’s character somewhat in that mold, but I wanted and needed him to be different. I landed on the back story and the environment in which Viceroy operates the differentiator.

Whereas Jack Reacher embodies a free-wheeling vigilante, random happenstance plot involvements, and a homeless vagabond to a degree, Viceroy by comparison was placed into a structured environment as head of a special detective unit. But the differences didn’t end there. The most obvious one you’ll find as you read the series, is the support team. While Reacher was a loner who primarily worked solo, Viceroy has a team of two behind him as they work the crime investigations as a three-part team. I believed a series where the reader not only falls for the protagonist (in my case Roger Viceroy), but also bonds with two other support members was appealing.

I came up with two characters – Regina Cortez and Trevor “Silk” Moreland. I drew Regina’s physical appearance and demeanor from a former assistant I had in a previous job. She was someone I had the utmost respect for as she brought professionalism to work every day during our eight years together. It was that loyalty and dedication that resonated with me and ended up being Regina’s style as well.

But it’s the second character that I want to focus on – Silk, a former high school athletic star who went onto a decade’s work as a top-flight detective for the Milwaukee PD. Silk is part of Viceroy’s detective unit by the time the first book, Give Place to Wrath, opens. He grew up on Milwaukee’s streets, standing 6’5″ with a wit and a well-timed irreverent attitude that seem to work well. Silk is, by far, the character that gets the most response from readers. They love him and want to see more of him in future books.

As I developed the character, it was Silk’s irreverential trait that opened a door, allowing me to write his dialogue with some humor and flare, and his interactions and reactions with a much wider berth, while also providing me the freedom to use him for plot moments that worked better than Viceroy or Regina.

Silk seems to resonate with readers in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I think it’s his dry, yet pinpoint humor he invokes at just the right moments combined with his dedication to being “a monster for details,” as Viceroy describes him. He’s completely sold out to being a detective and is passionate about finding clues or angles that others may have missed. Silk knows that being a detective is his life’s calling and the chapters he’s in just seem to have a more energetic bounce to them.

I’m confident Viceroy and Regina provide plenty of likability as well, but Silk stealthily beats them to being the reader’s favorite of the three. Who am I to argue? ♦


 

The Counsel of the Cunning

by Steven C. Harms

November 8 – December 3, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Counsel of the Cunning by Steven C. Harms

Roger Viceroy faces a return to the FBI and a life he vacated long ago, until a knock on his front door announces the presence of billionaire and former U.S. Senator, Jürgen Sandt.

The past has come back to rear its ugly head. Sandt stands on his threshold for a reason: a decade prior the senator’s only son disappeared into the jungles of Guatemala, and Sandt has come to convince Viceroy that further investigation is now necessary. A package left mysteriously outside the family estate, opens the door to the possibility that his son is still very much alive.

Viceroy and his team agree to take on the hunt. Their search steers them from the back streets of Milwaukee to the stealthy corridors of Washington, D.C.—an eerie trek that will ultimately lead to an ancient site that supposedly doesn’t exist.

As Viceroy closes in on the truth, a parallel plot emerges. Not only could it point to the reason behind the cryptic disappearance of Bertram Sandt, but it could also launch a deadly battle that will put millions of lives at stake. On pure instinct, Viceroy knows nothing is adding up. Somehow, somewhere they missed a clue, and if it’s not discovered soon…it may be too late.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: November 9th 2021
Number of Pages: 268
ISBN: 9780578933795 (paperback)
ASIN: B0973PH3H8 (Kindle version)
Series: Roger Viceroy Series, #2
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Steven C. Harms

Steven C. Harms is a professional sports, sponsorship, broadcast sales, and digital media executive with a career spanning over thirty years across the NBA, NFL, and MLB. He’s dealt with Fortune 500 companies, major consumer brands, professional athletes, and multi-platform integrated sports partnerships and media advertising campaigns. He’s an accomplished playwright having written and produced a wildly successful theatrical production which led him to tackle his debut novel, Give Place to Wrath, released November 9, 2021 from Suspense Publishing. Harms is a native of Wisconsin, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. He now resides in the greater Milwaukee area as a sponsorship executive.

Catch Up With Steven C. Harms:
StevenCHarms.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @StevenCHarms
Instagram – @stevencharms
Twitter – @steven_c_harms
Facebook – @authorstevencharms

Tour Participants:

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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Steven C. Harms. There will be THREE (3) winners for this tour. Each of the THREE (3) winners will receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card (US Only). The giveaway runs November 8 through December 5, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: Connie di Marco – THE MADNESS OF MERCURY

Monday greetings, book people. I’ve learned over the years that some authors base their characters on real people (often composites of family and friends), and others may simply read a news article about some event and think “hmm, that might make for a good story.” Connie di Marco is one of the few authors that created a character and then found out that her character bore a striking resemblance to a real person. Learn more about this and her book, The Madness of Mercury, as Ms. di Marco visits with us today. Thank you, Ms. di Marco, for joining us today and giving us some insight into your character. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

THE REAL ASK ZODIA by Connie di Marco


Julia Bonatti, my crime-solving astrological sleuth in the Zodiac Mysteries, writes an advice column, AskZodia, for her hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle. Julia’s column stretches reality quite a bit because how many big-city newspapers would have space for a ‘Dear Abby’ type of feature?  

Julia enjoys the work, but sometimes really struggles with some of the letters to Zodia. Some are sad, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain worrying. And Julia worries a lot about what she’s sending out into the universe in her column. Here’s one example:  

Dear Zodia ~
My birthday is September 13, 1974 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I’ve been married for 26 years. I’m very unhappy and confused. I care about my husband, he’s a good person, but to be honest, I’m bored. Bored with him and with married life. I’ve been thinking about telling him I want a divorce, but I’m really afraid what this will do to him. Please tell me what to do.
~ Growing Older

Dear Growing Older ~
Your sign off name says a lot. You’re afraid life is passing you by and soon it will be too late for adventure. What you’re not telling me, and I know because Neptune is opposing your Sun sign, and over the last year or so, opposed your Venus, is that you are attracted to someone else. Here’s the thing about Neptune transits: they can lend a great aura of mystery or fantasy. Much if not most of this is not real. Think very carefully about your choices because, in time, you may regret leaving your marriage.  
Wishing you well ~
~ Zodia

And here’s another:

Dear Zodia ~
I’m at my wit’s end. My mother’s new boyfriend is a complete creep.  He makes me very uncomfortable whenever he’s in our house. I don’t want to be alone with him, and so far I haven’t been, but I’m afraid to be in the same room with him when my mother’s not there. I’ve tried to talk to her about this, but she thinks I’m imagining things and trying to make her life difficult. I don’t know what to do. What should I do?  
My birthday is May 6, 2004 in Berkeley at 3:20 p.m.
~ Creeped Out

Dear Creeped Out ~
Trust your instincts, no matter what anyone says. Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world, predators, and some of them date women with young children for that very reason. By all means, speak out about your concerns. Your transits show a Pluto aspect to your Moon, this may indicate the difficulties between you and your mother right now, but no matter what astrology can tell you, always trust your instincts.
~ Zodia

But here’s the odd thing — I never ever wondered if there was a real AskZodia. I no longer live in San Francisco but manage to visit a few times a year, so I don’t often get to read the Chronicle. But one day at a street fair, I glanced at a newspaper and spotted the Chronicle’s Astro column. I was stunned! Why hadn’t I discovered this before? There is a REAL AskZodia! His name is Christopher Renstrom, not Julia Bonatti and he’s a famous astrologer, a real one, unlike Julia! 


I’d be willing to bet Christopher would have no problem responding to AskZodia questions. After all, he has a terrific new book out — The Cosmic Calendar: Using Astrology to Get in Sync with Your Best Life. So I’m sure he’d offer some great advice and solve all of these AskZodia problems.  

If you’d like some real-life astrology, check out Christopher’s website [http://rulingplanets.com], follow him on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/christopher.renstrom], and Twitter @rulingplanets [https://twitter.com/rulingplanets/]. You won’t regret it! 
 
And if you’d like to enjoy a good astrological murder mystery, don’t miss Julia’s first adventure in The Madness of Mercury!  



The Madness of Mercury

by Connie di Marco

December 1-31, 2020 Tour



Synopsis:


San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti’s life is turned upside down when she becomes a target of the Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The Reverend, a recently-arrived cult preacher, is determined to drive sin from the city, but his gospel of love and compassion doesn’t extend to those he considers an “abomination unto the Lord.” Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, has put her at the top of the Reverend’s list. While the powerful Mercury-ruled preacher woos local dignitaries, his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence not just Julia, but anyone who stands in his way.

Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who’s caring for two elderly aunts. One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long-lost nephew arrives. The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become. One aunt slides deeper into psychosis while the other disappears. Is this young man truly a member of the family? Can astrology confirm that? Julia’s not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn’t merely the messenger of the gods – he was a trickster and a liar as well.

Book Details

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: October 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 268
ISBN: 0578752654 (ISBN13: 9780578752655)
Series: Zodiac Mystery #1
Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads


Author Bio:

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series was re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.


Catch Up With Connie di Marco:  ConniediMarco.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, and Facebook!



Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! Click here to view The Madness Of Mercury by Connie di Marco blog tour participants.

Enter To Win!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Connie di Marco. There will be two (2) winners each receiving one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

Click here to enter the giveaway.