Book Review: Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Paul Strom is an egotistical, controlling husband and father who promises to give his wife “The Best Day Ever” in this fast-paced story that takes place over a 24 hour period. We quickly come to realize that Paul is somewhat delusional and completely without any moral compass. Kudos to Kaira Rouda, who manages to put the reader firmly inside Paul’s head, while maintaining suspense and building to an inevitable, but altogether satisfying, ending. This was the first book I have read by Rouda, but I plan to check out her other novels.

Click here to find Kaira’s post on New Release Mondays! 

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New Release Mondays: BEACHED by Micki Browning

I was first introduced to Micki Browning through the online digest for the Sisters in Crime – Guppy Branch, and was pleased to showcase her debut novel, ADRIFT, here last January 2017. Fast forward to late April 2017 at Malice Domestic. I’m wandering around Bethesda looking for a place to eat and I spot Micki Browning walking just a few paces ahead of me. How did I know it was Micki? Believe it or not, she’s every bit as lovely as her author photo. We wound up finding an outdoor patio, where we had salad and white wine, and got to know each other a little better. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce the next book in her Mer Cavallo Mystery series. I do hope you’ll pick up a copy! 

Author Name: Micki Browning

Book Title: BEACHED

Book Genre: Mystery

Release Date: January 10, 2018

Synopsis: In this latest thrilling mystery from award-winning author Micki Browning, marine biologist Meredith Cavallo uncovers clues to a mysterious Spanish galleon—and quickly discovers the ship may be legendary, but the danger surrounding it is real.

Mer’s life unravels after she finds a plastic-wrapped bundle floating on the waves off Key Largo. Curious, she pulls it aboard her dive boat and lands in the middle of a storm of intrigue involving an obscure legend, an 18th century shipwreck and a modern pirate who’ll resort to murder to claim the booty first.

Thrust into the hunt for a ship with no historical record, Mer plunges into the world of nautical archaeology. But for a woman accustomed to dealing with facts, deciphering secrets proves difficult—and everyone she encounters harbors their own skeletons. A sinister betrayal sends her reeling, and even with the help of a crusty former marine salvager, a fiery professor, and her friends on the island, Mer realizes she’s in over her head. Determined to outwit the man who wants her dead, she’s certain of only one thing—treasure is trouble.

About the author: An FBI National Academy graduate, Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades, retiring as a division commander. Now a full-time writer, she won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for her debut mystery, ADRIFT.

Micki also writes short stories and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines and textbooks. She resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for “research.” Learn more at www.MickiBrowning.com

BEACHED is available at all the usual suspects, including Amazon

 

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Writing Cozy Mysteries With An Edge

This week, I thought I’d share a “Coffee Chat” post that first appeared on AllyShields.com. For those of you unfamiliar with Ally, she’s the author of 13 Urban Fantasy novels, which you can read about on this link.

Here’s the beginning of my interview with Ally:

Ally: What will readers discovered when they open the cover of your book?

JPS:  An amateur sleuth with an edge: there’s the requisite small town, no overt sex, violence or bad language, but there are also no cats, crafts or cookie recipes.

Ally:  Talk about your writing process. Schedule, goals, etc.

JPS:  After I finish a book, it takes me a couple of months to get back to another one. I want to get right back at it, but I feel emotionally drained. I’ll dabble, play around with short stories, but a book just seems too daunting. And then, gradually, the voices come back to me, and I know it’s time to start again. Once I get going in earnest, I try to write every day, including Sundays and holidays, even if it’s only for a few stolen minutes, though my goal is always to write a chapter a day. I try to leave each chapter with a bit of a hook, so I’m keen to come back the next day (and hopefully, I’m creating something that makes readers want to keep turning the pages). My first draft takes three to four months. I do edit as I go along, so my first drafts are pretty clean, but they are by no means polished enough to submit to a publisher. The magic is in the revision… you can’t edit a blank page.

Ally:  How do you choose and name your characters?

JPS:  It depends. With Emily Garland (the protagonist in The Hanged Man’s Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery), my favorite childhood book was Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame). Emily Starr of New Moon wanted to grow up to be a writer, and I wanted that, too. It seemed only fitting to name the protagonist in my first book Emily. And I was named after Judy Garland.
In Skeletons in the Attic: A Marketville Mystery, the protagonist is Calamity (Callie) Barnstable. In my day job, I’m the Senior Editor of New England Antiques Journal and I’d just read about some old photographs of Calamity Jane, a Wild West frontierswoman, that had come to auction. And I thought… Calamity, that’s a great name, Callie for short. Initially, I thought Callie Barnes, but somewhere along the line I added the ‘table.’
Another character in Skeletons is Leith Hampton, the lawyer who tells Callie about her inheritance. He started life as Craig Leith (there is a town in Ontario, Canada, called Craigleith), but I couldn’t warm to it. Then I thought, Leith as a first name would work, and Hampton, like the Hamptons in New York, sounded like a good surname for a well-heeled lawyer.
I keep a notebook of possible name ideas – I watch end credits on TV shows and movies and might get a first or last name from those. Then I couple it with something that fits the character I’m writing about.

To read more of this post click here: http://allyshields.com/blog/cozy-mysteries-with-an-edge

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Remembering Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton, April 24, 1940 – December 28, 2017

On December 28, 2017, the mystery community lost a legend in the genre with the passing of Sue Grafton, author of 25 Kinsey Millhone “Alphabet” mysteries. Grafton’s first Millhone novel, A is for Alibi, was published in 1982. Her final novel, Y is for Yesterday, was released in 2017. According to Grafton’s daughter, Jamie, “Sue was adamant that her books would never be turned into movies or TV shows, and in that same vein, she would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name. Because of all of those things, and out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.”

I first discovered Sue Grafton in the early ’90s, when I found a hardcover copy of G is for Gumshoe at a flea market in Collingwood, Ontario. Mike and I had rented a chalet there for a week’s fishing/hiking vacation but the weather wasn’t cooperating. What better way to pass the time than with a good book by the fire?

And G is for Gumshoe was a very good book. I made my way to the local bookstore and purchased A through C. It didn’t take me long to make my way through the alphabet, at which point I impatiently waited for the next letter. You’d think with 25 books in a series where the protagonist barely ages the stories would get stale, but in fact the reverse was true. With every book, Grafton became more accomplished, the plots more layered, more intricate. When I was teaching creative writing, I would often suggest that my students read A is for Alibi, and Grafton’s latest book at the time, to compare how much she had matured as a writer. In short, Grafton inspired me, made me believe I’d become a better writer, if I just kept writing. Without Grafton, I’m not sure I would have ever tried to write a novel.

At the Bloody Words Mystery Conference held in Toronto in 2014, we were asked to dress up as our favorite character for the banquet. As you’d expect, there were a few Sherlock Holmes, Poirot’s and even a Trixie Belden. As for me, I opted for Kinsey Millhone, wearing the “all purpose black dress.”

Sue Grafton in the original all purpose black dress.

When I read that Sue Grafton was scheduled to be the Lifetime Achievement Honouree at Left Coast Crime Vancouver 2019, I knew I had to attend, and started counting the days to when I’d meet her in person, to tell her that she changed my life, that I loved her books.

And now I’ll close with some of my favorite Sue Grafton quotes:

Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.

If you’re unhappy, change something.

I write letters to my right brain all the time. They’re just little notes. And right brain, who likes to get little notes from me, will often come through within a day or two.

If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them.

I focus on the writing and let the rest of the process take care of itself. I’ve learned to trust my own instincts and I’ve also learned to take risks.

RIP Sue Grafton. You will be missed. 

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Happy New Year!

Researching Tarot

For my final post in 2017, I’m reblogging my December 21st post that originally appeared on Kristina Stanley’s blog. Here’s the intro…

If you’ll pardon the pun, tarot was never in the cards when I began writing Skeletons in the Attic. I knew I’d have a protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable, who would be thrust into the position of finding out what happened when her mother disappeared thirty years earlier. I knew she’d be a fish out of water, a big city Toronto woman heading to Marketville, a town she described as the sort of place a family with two kids, a cat and a collie moved to. I even knew there was a scheming psychic, Misty Rivers, ready to take on Callie’s assignment if Callie turned it down. But my original thinking was more along the line of a crystal ball and tea leaves. Tarot? Not on the radar.

To read the rest of this post, click here.

 

 

PS: Barking Rain Press has just announced an After Christmas e-book sale. All BRP e-books have been discounted to $3.99. 

 

 

PPS: Two Free Kindle e-Book short story collections for Boxing Week! Free giveaway ends December 30th.

Live Free or Tri: http://authl.it/4ly 

Unhappy Endings: http://authl.it/4sk

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Skeletons in the Attic: A Brand New Look

I’m beyond excited to report that my Marketville Mystery series has officially been picked up by Barking Rain Press, the same company that publishes my Glass Dolphin Mystery series. As a result, Skeletons in the Attic has been re-released in print and all e-book platforms (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iTunes, GooglePlay). Oh, and those pesky gremlins found in the First Edition (Callie wearing a t-shit in Chapter 39, for example) have been fixed!

Here’s the full cover — don’t you just love it?  (Click on the cover to enlarge).

Find Skeletons in the Attic at your favorite bookseller, or buy it directly from the publisher.

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