We Love Cozies!

This week I am spotlighting a “gem” of a book by one of my favorite authors and my “Chief Beta Reader” Lia London.

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Describe your cozy mystery, The Fargenstropple Case.  What Monty Python’s Flying Circus might have done with Dame Agatha Christie’s lost manuscript…

Invisible burglars who take nothing, but frighten the cat at meal times? This is hardly a case worthy of newly-promoted Chief Inspector Morgan. But when valuable jewels go missing and an attempt is made on Blandthorpe Fargenstropple’s life, Morgan jumps into action with keen interest. Of course, it helps that Blandthorpe’s niece looks nothing like a gargoyle.
With a quirky cast of characters, witty banter, a little romance, more than a fair sampling of animal life, and plenty of ridiculous mishaps, this cozy mystery will challenge your ability to read in any sort of dignified manner–so grab a tray of tea and crumpets and plan to laugh out loud.

Get the book HERE on Amazon.

Tell us a little about yourself.  I spend my days writing, advocating for fellow authors through Clean Indie Reads, helping my teens with homework, swimming, walking the dog, and practicing the organ so I don’t make a complete fool of myself when I play at church.

Tell us your latest book news. This spring and summer, I released two more nonfiction inspirational books in the Little Devotionals series, and now I’m writing another farcical romantic comedy based on a cross between reality TV talent shows and cheesy soap operas.

What inspired you to write your first book?  My first full-length novel came out of a dream. There wasn’t really a plot—just some characters and a general setting and mood. I decided to write about them to find out what they were up to. Within about 2000 words, I’d figured out the general plot points of a fantasy novel and went from there through about 652 drafts.

What has been your favorite review for this book?  “I was trying to decide what made this book so much fun. Yes, the humor and quirkiness are entertaining, and the mystery is engaging, but it’s so much more than that. This book has LIFE…and London never misses with her timing. Put it all together and you have the kind of book that will make you grin from beginning to end.”

What else would you like my readers to know?  I think Lisa’s books are as fun to read as the Agatha Christie novels I grew up on!

Follow Lia London here:

https://www.facebook.com/lialondonbooks/

https://twitter.com/LiaLondon1

Thanks, Lia. I can’t wait to polish off this book!  -LBT

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NEW RELEASE: Sharpe Turn

GIVING BIRTH

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Sharpe Turn, Book 4 in the Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series, is finally here, and I must say, it was a lot like having a baby.

This book took me almost nine months to write. Why? Good question. Let’s face it, like one reviewer said about another of my books, it ain’t War and Peace.

I had some personal obstacles along the way. I started the book in January, about the time the third book in the series was coming out. Then I had some health issues. Two surgeries and two months later, I seemed to have lost my mojo.

A lot of people talk about writer’s block. I think of that as something different than what happened to me. Writer’s block is when you can’t seem to know what to write. You hit a stall. This happens occasionally, but it usually doesn’t last more than a day or so.

What happened to me was different. I lost my passion for writing. It seemed too hard, and it took too much mental energy. Instead, I turned my focus to my other business, which is online selling of vintage collectibles. After a while, I realized I missed writing and finally got back in the saddle.

WRITE FASTER

One of the comments I often get from readers is that they want me to write faster—to put books out more often. As a reader myself, I totally understand that. You find a writer you like, and you devour everything they’ve written and still want more.

I wish I were a faster writer. I know some cozy and romance writers are popping those books out once a month. If I were trying to make a full-time living at this, I would be writing eight hours a day and getting books out in a more timely fashion. But this isn’t my full-time job. I’m retired.

After spending thirty-three years teaching high journalism and English, I’m mentally exhausted. I can’t tell you the number of hours I spent sitting on the bed in the evenings and weekends reading essays, marking papers, preparing lessons, etc. Most English teachers put in more hours a day than most Wall Street CEOs. One of the first things we did after I retired was buy a new mattress because ours had a huge dent in it from me sitting on it doing my school work all the time.

FINDING BALANCE

Now, I am learning to spend my days dividing my time between the four major areas of my life: Family, Writing, Sales, and Health/Exercise. My goal is to enrich my own life while enriching the lives of others in the process.

So, how am I doing in these areas? As of this minute, I have spent an hour walking, an hour listing vintage items to sell online, and an hour planning and writing this post. It’s only noon, so there’s still a lot of day (and work) left!

SHARPE TURN

Besides the sharp turn that results in tragedy in my book, the main character, Deena, makes a turn for the better in her life. Like me, she is trying to find balance. I hope you read and enjoy the book.

For me, the release is another kind of turning point. It is a chance to get back on track doing the things I love. I plan to put books out more often and to give back to my readers as much as possible. My Wednesday blogs feature other cozy mystery writers whose books I think you will enjoy.

I love when the season’s change. It seems to mark the chance for a fresh start. Hope you are enjoying the start of fall and take time to put things in your own life into proper perspective.

Thanks for stopping by. Much health and happiness to all of you.

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We Love Cozies

Today, I am featuring a particularly “sporting” book by  Charmain Zimmerman Brackett.

Murder Under the Magnolias (Grace's Augusta Mysteries Book 1) by [Brackett, Charmain Zimmerman]

Where are you from?  I was born and raised in Augusta, Ga., which is the location of my latest series.

 Tell us your latest book news? Murder Under the Magnolias was released on April 4 which coincides with the start of a prestigious golf tournament which I won’t name and I don’t name in the book because of copyright. Augusta is well-known for this tournament, and it draws thousands of guests to our fair city each year. I wanted to introduce people to my city through a florist named Grace, and her homicide investigator husband, Drew.

With the tournament in town, Grace is busy providing floral arrangements for the abundance of parties; however, the death of a young woman with a mysterious tattoo makes Grace wonder if there’s something more going on in her town than golf.

Murder En Pointe, the sequel to Murder Under the Magnolias is due out Oct. 3.

When a Russian ballet troupe comes to town, Grace is called on again to provide particular flowers to meet a diva’s unusual requests. When Grace discovers the dead diva strangled with the ribbons on a pair of pointe shoes, she finds herself helping her husband solve another case.

What inspired you to write your first book?  The Key of Elyon was my debut novel in 2012. The winner of the 2014 Yerby Award for Fiction at the Augusta Literary Festival, The Key of Elyon is not a cozy mystery but YA science fiction/fantasy.

My entire career has been spent as a writer. I’ve written for The Augusta Chronicle, the South’s oldest newspaper, for more than 28 years, currently serving as its art columnist and a feature writer. In my time there, dozens of people have asked me when I was going to write a book. I thought they were crazy, but around December 2011, my imagination was hijacked with the opening sequence to The Key of Elyon. I fell down the rabbit hole and never looked back.

What do you love about cozy mysteries?  I have always been a fan of mysteries. Nancy Drew piqued my interest at an early age. I still have my hardbound volumes that I purchased when I was in the fourth and fifth grades. I let my daughters read them when they were younger.

When I got older, I found the works of Agatha Christie intriguing. I’ve always enjoyed watching the amateur sleuths figure out the crimes and sometimes know more than the professionals. And I do like other types of mysteries as well.

What else would you like my readers to know?  I’m a multi-genre writer. It comes from 28 years in the newspaper industry. I’ve covered sports, government, the military, education, and the arts, and sometimes, that’s just been in one week. In addition to my Grace’s Augusta Mystery Series, I’ve written a series of six novellas with a journalist named Victoria James as the amateur sleuth. The first Victoria James novella is called Murder Under Twin Oaks, and is under the author name of C.Z. Brackett. I’ve also written two illustrated children’s books including Little Pearl’s Circus World, the winner of the 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Award. It’s based on the true story of my great-grandmother, Pearl Clark LaComa, who started performing at the age of 4 in a circus owned by her father.

Murder under the Magnolias is available HERE on Amazon.

Thanks, Charmain! Can’wait to take a swing at this one. -LBT

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Musings: Seattle Trip

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Just got back to hot and muggy Central Texas from the cool and breezy Pacific Northwest. My latest book, Sharpe Turn, is set in September in the small fictional town of Maycroft, Texas. In one scene, Deena is lounging in her backyard swimming pool; in another, she’s wishing she’d worn a heavier jacket. Yep. That’s Texas in late summer.

This is the first trip we’ve taken with my son and his wife. (I was determined not to be as critical as Deena’s mother-in-law!) They were so much fun to be with. We visited Seattle and stayed in an Airbnb, which was another first. I enjoyed all the space, but there were lots of rules to follow. Also, Seattle is big into recycling, so waste separation was a big deal. Frankly, I like spending the day exploring a new location and then coming back to a hotel room with the beds freshly made and clean towels in the bath. I know, I’m spoiled.

Here are some pictures and highlights from the trip. I highly recommend Seattle as a tourist destination if you have never been. I think Deena and Gary may need to visit there in a future book. Sharpe Space Needle???

The Public Market was much larger than I expected. The shops offer local foods, crafts, souvenirs, flowers, and more. And, yes, we watched them throw the fish, too.

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We had great seats at the Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field. I highly recommend the clam chowder and garlic fries. Too bad Texas lost. We’re still ahead in the division race, though.

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This is French toast and fruit. Amazing food almost killed my diet. (I’ve lost almost 80 pounds this past year.)

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I love taking Duck tours in cities on the water. It’s kind of cheesy, but you learn a lot about the area and get to go out into the water.

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The Space Needle is the iconic observation tower built for the 1962 World’s Fair.

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We rode the ferry out to Bainbridge Island. Lots of fun shops and beautiful views. We also saw the locks at Puget Sound, but I forgot to take any pictures.

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Visiting the Chihuly Glass Gardens was overwhelming. The art is amazing. Pictures cannot do it justice.

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After being gone for five days, I was happy to get home to my puppy and my own bed. I’m am currently working on my next book in the Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series.

Sharpe Turn is due out on Thursday. You can purchase it here.

Thanks for stopping by. Have you been to Seattle? Where is your favorite spot to visit? Leave comments below.

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We Love Cozies

Today, I’m shining the Cozy Mystery spotlight on author Sherrie Bryan.

Tapas, Carrot Cake and a Corpse (A Charlotte Denver Cozy Mystery, Culinary Cozy Mystery Book 1) by [Bryan, Sherri] 

Where are you from?  I was born and bred just outside London, England, but now live in Málaga in southern Spain with my husband and our beautiful rescue dog, George.

Tell us your latest book news?  I’m currently working on the final draft of the sixth book in ‘The Charlotte Denver Cozy Mystery Series’, which is due to be published later this month.

 What inspired you to write your first book?   Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many happy holidays in Cornwall and Devon in the south-west of England, so I decided to use them as the main inspiration for my fictional coastal town setting. Although the town of St. Eves exists only in my imagination, it is loosely based on these beautiful counties, with a sprinkling of artistic license added here and there! In addition, in homage to my adopted homeland, I’ve also drawn on my experiences in Spain throughout the series, adding a few Spanish elements along the way.

 What do you love about cozy mysteries?  I love that cozies allow me to write (and read) about murder, villains, dastardly deeds and twisty plots without the need for gory details, excessive violence, sex or bad language. I also always try to bring a little romance and humour to the books and it’s important that each one has a feel-good ending.

What else would you like my readers to know?  The Charlotte Denver Cozy Mystery Series is a British culinary cozy mystery series, featuring a close-knit community, quirky characters, recipes and a very cute dog.

I didn’t have to look too far to find the inspiration for my protagonist, reluctant amateur sleuth, Charlotte Denver. She’s an animal-loving, avid cook who owns a marina-front café in the fictional coastal town of St. Eves.

Similarly, I’m an animal-loving, avid cook, and I owned a marina-front café in a Spanish coastal town for six years. Charlotte owns the café, ‘Charlotte’s Plaice’, in St. Eves. She has a stubborn streak, a big heart, is fiercely loyal, loves her friends and adores animals. Her heart definitely rules her head. Her parents were killed in an accident, so her friends and her godparents are hugely important to her.

She’s also extremely inquisitive, a trait which comes in handy when any amateur sleuthing is called for. A reader once described her as a ‘thoroughly good egg’ which I think is a very accurate assessment!

With regard to my stories, foreshadowing plays a big part, in that I try to leave clues which point to answers, which I hope will keep readers guessing and involved in solving the mystery as they go. I try not to make them too obvious, though—it wouldn’t be much fun for readers to have established the murderer and the motive way before the end of the book!

I try to write stories with likeable characters and surprising plot twists, which I think are equally important. I think a Cozy Mystery with fabulous plot twists but unlikeable characters would be a huge disappointment. Likewise, a story with loveable characters but lousy plot twists.

If you’d like to get a taste of the series, book one, ‘Tapas, Carrot Cake and a Corpse’, is free to download on Kindle, iTunes, Nook and Kobo.

Kindle link : mybook.to/CharlotteDenver1

All other outlets : https://books2read.com/u/319E73

Please note: All my books are written in British English and contain no strong profanity, scenes of a sexual nature or graphic violence.

What’s the story?

Tapas, Carrot Cake and a Corpse

Small-town murder was never so calculated.
On a peaceful morning in an English coastal town, a handsome stranger meets a gruesome end.

As café-bar owner Charlotte Denver takes up the challenge to help find the killer before they strike again, she uncovers a shocking plot that rocks a close-knit community to its core.
There’s amateur sleuthing, engaging characters, and recipes to try for yourself in Tapas, Carrot Cake and a Corpse, the first book in the feel-good Charlotte Denver Cozy Mystery Series.

Thanks, Sherrie! Can’wait to sink my teeth into this one. -LBT

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