It's been a busy holiday season! In addition to releasing Cross Keys: Unity on Christmas Day and visiting with friends and family, I've chatted with the Guardian Witch characters in Olde Town (Riverdale) and with the elves in Elvenrude about New Year's Resolutions. Some of them shared their own wishes/goals for 2016!
Olde Town (Guardian Witch series):
Arianna: Other than trying to keep Rayne from inadvertently burning the house down? :) I recently went through my family trunk and found a photo of my parents on their boat. It got me to wondering exactly what happened to them. I've been thinking about looking into that...
Andreas: Plans are already drawn for a hotel in Olde Town that caters to Otherworld clientele. Building and managing it will be a new challenge for me.
Ryan: Definitely a larger home. Claris tells me our family is growing again. :)
Gabriel: An extended trip to London is top on my list. And I need a new girlfriend. Maybe it's time to get serious this time.
Elvenrude (Cross Keys series):
Kam: I'm loving the security business. Since we can pick and choose our jobs, Seth and I almost always have joint assignments. It gives us a chance to explore the world together. I can't think of a thing I'd change right now!
Seth: Don't tell Kam I said this, but I'm hoping a child is in our future. Maybe not this year, but in the next two or three.
Rhyden: I've been working with King Trystan to set up guilds in Cyrilia. I hope to have them well-established before the end of next year. Oh, and getting married, of course.
Esty: The wedding. Next December 18! Mother and I have already chosen the silk for my dress.
And my own:
To keep writing. I hope to introduce new characters, Maggie and Josh, in another paranormal series. And maybe this is the year I'll do something with the thrillers! :)
Whatever your specific goals and resolutions, we wish you and yours a terrific and successful 2016, filled with many wonderful books. Happy New Year!
While everyone is spending time with family and friends,
the residents of Olde Town wish you a very happy holiday!
Christmas Eve in Olde Town
Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through Olde Town,
Not a creature was stirring nor making a sound.
The werewolves were running all night through the woods,
The demons were hiding their faces in hoods.
The elves all were dancing; the dwarves were so merry,
The nymphs were excited and so very cheery.
With Andreas at the Club, and Ari on patrol,
The town was all settled, snug in the cold.
When out of the sky with a light pure and bright
Came a dragon so bold glowing gold and pure white.
Ari dashed through the park, stopped on a dime,
If the dragon was hostile, she wouldn't be there in time.
The children were gathered in the town square
Singing and dancing, their thoughts without care.
When what did their wondering eyes behold
But the dragon that stories had once foretold.
With scales of pure gold, and eyes oh so green
They knew in a moment it was the Dragon Queen.
She'd come to bring presents, to those old and young,
To recapture the stories that once had been sung.
Of a beautiful princess who had fallen in love
With a handsome dragon from the clouds far above
And every Christmas she brought back her joy
By sharing her gifts with each girl and boy.
When Ari arrived and Andreas stopped by
The queen pulled out a bag and undid the tie.
She dropped all the toys at Ari's feet
So they could surprise every child with a treat.
Then blowing snowflakes out of her nose,
The dragon winked boldly, or so the story goes,
And spreading her wings, she rose to the sky
"Merry Christmas to all, and I bid you Good-Bye!"
Ally Shields (2013)
Ho! Ho! Ho! It's the holidays...and I'm giving away two print copies of Awakening the Fire, the first book in the Guardian Witch series! Get your name in the drawing now...
Ebook releases December 25, 2015!
Happy Holidays! This week we welcome Molly MacRae with a cozy mystery just in time for your holiday reading!
Welcome, Molly. What can I get you to drink?
MOLLY: If I drink coffee, I drink it with cream and wish it would turn into mocha with whipped cream. Mostly I drink black tea with milk.
Ally: Thanks to my magic pot, one mocha with whipped cream coming up. While I pour, please tell readers about yourself.
The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” Molly is the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries from NAL/Penguin. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990 and she is a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. She spent twenty years in upper east Tennessee, the setting for her stories, short and long. She lives in Champaign, Illinois.
And something unique/unusual that isn't in my regular bio: I can sing “Old MacDonald had a Farm” in Scottish Gaelic. (Ally Note: ROFL Quite a talent!)
Author contact links:
Vintage Cookbooks & Crafts (1st Monday of each month): http://amyalessio.com/
Killer Characters (23rd of each month): http://www.killercharacters.com/
Ally: Your books are typically classified as cozy mysteries. Can you explain what a cozy is? How is it different from other mysteries?
MOLLY: Cozies have murders, but they’re nice murders. There’s no onstage graphic violence and if there’s sex, it happens behind closed doors. Some people say that kind of gentleness makes cozies less realistic and less important. I don’t believe that. The bottom line is this – mysteries are about the restoration of order, whether on mean streets or in a cozy town. The world is a big place; there’s room for all kinds of stories.
Ally: What is your writing schedule? For example, do you have a set time and place every day, goals, etc?
MOLLY: My goal is a certain number of words per day. That number varies depending on deadlines. My writing schedule can be summed up in one word: GAH! To expand on that, here’s how my days go. Up at 5:00 and write until it’s time for breakfast and my day job. Walk to work. Work until lunchtime. Gobble lunch, then write for the rest of the lunch hour. Return to work and work until quitting time. Walk home, make supper, be pleasant with the family. Write until bedtime. Sleep. Repeat. I have a really nice room under the eaves with two desks, one for sitting (it’s actually planks of wood spanning two filing cabinets) and one for standing (it’s really my husband’s portable painting table with telescoping legs, but he hasn’t asked for it back).
Ally: What is the premise for your haunted yarn shop mysteries? Is there a ghost? What role does he or she play?
MOLLY: Kath Rutledge, a textile preservation specialist, inherits her grandmother’s fiber and fabric shop and ends up with a depressed ghost on her hands. Kath, who’s steeped in chemistry and the finer points of pest control and fumigation hoods, doesn’t believe in ghosts, is the only one who sees and hears the ghost. This is hard on both of them, but they make the most of it. The ghost is the sidekick character, but she has a storyline of her own that’s developed through the series.
Ally: What are you writing next? Will it be another in this series?
MOLLY: I hope there will be more in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries, but for now I’m working on the first book in a new series. It’s about a group of four women who pool their money and expertise, buy a bookshop in a small town on the west coast of Scotland, pack up their lives, and move there.
Ally: Before we get a peak at the book you brought today, let's try these quick answer questions:
Ally: Thanks so much for being with us today! Now, it's time to show readers your novel...
- a. favorite item on your holiday menu – roasted sweet potato spears with molasses horseradish glaze
- b. favorite tv shows – currently, Doctor Who and Sherlock
- c. a person who inspired your writing or your life – Charles White, one of my high school English teachers. He gave me one of the best pieces of writing advice – revision is the key to success.
- d. favorite holiday song – too many!
- e. best color to wear – bright navy blue
In the latest from the bestselling author of Plagued by Quilt, Kath Rutledge yarn bombs Blue Plum, Tennessee—and gets tangled up in the mystery of a bumped-off bagpiper.
It’s time for Handmade Blue Plum, an annual arts and crafts fair, and Kath and her knitting group TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber) plan to kick off the festivities with a yarn bombing. But they’re not the only ones needling Blue Plum. Bagpiper and former resident Hugh McPhee had just returned after a long absence, yet his reception is anything but cozy. The morning after his arrival, he’s found dead in full piper’s regalia.
Although shaken, Kath and her knitting group go forward with their yarn installation—only to hit a deadly snag. Now, with the help of Geneva, the ghost who haunts her shop, Kath and TGIF need to unravel the mystery before someone else gets kilt!
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/knot-the-usual-suspects-molly-macrae/1121064920?ean=9780451471314
Thanks for reading my blog! Have a great holiday!
Good Morning, Booklovers!
Michelle Drier, an author of both mysteries and paranormals, is this week's guest. And we're being treated to a cover reveal for her next paranormal novel!
What may I get you to drink, Michele?
MICHELE: French roast coffee, served black. I splurge occasionally with a vanilla latte, but nothing gives me that needed caffeine like strong, black coffee.
Ally: Already made! While I pour, please show readers your bio.
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series. In addition to the San Jose Mercury-News, in the Valley she was the City Editor of the Lodi New-Sentinel, the Executive Editor of the Manteca Bulletin and Assistant Metro Editor for the Modesto Bee.
Michele is president of the Capitol Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime and the co-chair for Bouchercon 2020 held in Sacramento in October of 2020. Bouchercon is the world’s oldest and largest convention for mystery readers and authors.
Hmmmm, something unusual about me? Besides I’ve been married (and divorced) three times, LOL? When I was a child, I wanted to be a ballerina. Despite being short and less-than-skinny, my mother enrolled me in lessons taught by a former dancer with one of the Russian companies. How she arrived in California and set up a studio to teach eager girls, I don’t remember, but she did teach me one lesson that I’ve kept with me—there’s no such thing as “can’t”.
Contact the Author:
Email: email@example.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMicheleDrier
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michele-Drier/e/B005D2YC8G/
Ally: Let's start with an overall picture of your writing. Genres, romance levels.
MICHELE: I write in two genres—traditional mysteries and paranormal romance. I have three mysteries in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries series published, and I’m finishing the ninth in the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, SNAP: I, Vampire. My books are in the medium heat range, sex on the page, but no graphic descriptions. I also have a sci-fi I’m chipping away at, a time travel romance and a three-book cozy series in the wings.
Ally: When did you first know you wanted to be a professional writer? What inspired you?
MICHELE: I always read and, during college, worked part-time at a local newspaper, kind of a glorified copy-boy. I loved the adrenaline of news and a few years later landed a job as a staff writer with the San Jose Mercury-News. I was hooked (and I remain close friends with a woman I met my first day on the job, more than forty years ago). Like almost all reporters, I kept a file in a desk drawer of notes, sketches, characters, unripe plots, for that day when I’d write The Great American Novel. I’m still waiting!
Ally: Where do you find your plots?
MICHELE: I’ve always wondered “What if” and that’s usually what gets me started. For the scifi I’ve started, I told my daughter one day that I wished people could buy more memory, just like you do for your computer. Well, in the world of my imagining, you can…but with unusual consequences.
The time travel romance came from a poster I bought at the cathedral of Ulm several years ago.
The endings are always clear at the beginning, though some of the newer ones may not be all that happy. There are a lot of detours and blue highways along the way. William Least Heat-Moon wrote a wonderful non-fiction book called “Blue Highways” about driving across the country taking only the small roads (in blue on the map) and the experiences of discovery. One little wrinkle is that I don’t always know who the murderer (or the bad guys) are.
Ally: What is your current work in progress?
MICHELE: I’m currently wrapping up the ninth in The Kandesky Chronicles, SNAP: I, Vampire. I know where the plot’s headed and the denouement, now all I need is to get my butt in the chair and write. (See plot summary below with cover reveal)
Ally: If you could visit anywhere—real of fictional—where would it be?
MICHELE: France is always my first choice, although I’d love to spend some time along the Adriatic Coast—Slovenia down through Split and Dubrovnik. I love medieval history and architecture. The explosion of creativity that started around 1100 and continued through the Renaissance is fascinating.
Ally: Let's try a few quick answer questions:
Ally: Thanks so much for chatting with us, Michele. Now let's see that new cover, and hear more about I, Vampire. And then we hope you get home and put your "butt in the chair" and finish it! :)
- Favorite holiday drink: Eggnog—laced with alcohol is good, too!
- Shop Black Friday/Cyber Monday: No. If I do any shopping during the season, it’s small, locally-owned places. Hate the hype.
- A favorite movie: Spotlight, the story of the Boston Globe’s investigation into the sex scandals in the Boston Archdiocese
- Something unique on or near your computer: Tons of sticky notes with passwords, reading lists, phone numbers. I’m lousy at organizing and filing!
- Typical writing attire: Oh, do you really want to know? Flannel jammies bottoms and a tee-shirt…right now, though a sweatshirt and socks!
Snap: I, Vampire (Book 9, Kandesky Chronicles)
After a few years of telling Jean-Louis that she won’t marry him, Maxie finally agrees. Her love for him is so overpowering that she’ll give up sunshine, food and other normal stuff and gain eternal life…as a vampire. Jean-Louis is a 500-year-old Hungarian vampire; Maxie is a twenty-first century SoCal professional woman, used to being in charge. I, Vampire explores her first months as a vampire…the good, the bad and the ugly. There’s a shadowy terrorist group tracking their movements, hoping to get free weapons from one of the Kandesky companies, the Czech munitions factory. A kidnapping in Paris, a chase across the French countryside, acting as bait to trap the terrorist leader are all in a day’s work for this newest member of the Kandesky vampire family. Plus the attraction of vampire nights with Jean-Louis, her new and forever husband.
Buy Link for the rest of the series: Amazon
Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, has received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild and was the best paranormal vampire series of 2014. The series is SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Nights, SNAP: All That Jazz, and Book Nine, SNAP: I, Vampire coming soon.
Her Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta for Death.
Christmas List Alert: Are there children ages 3-9 on your shopping list?
Check out these children's travel books!
Are you ready to take to the skies? Children come join us this time on a wild adventure with Captain Frankie on Angelic Airlines as we travel across the world to learn about, visit and see Africa's Big "5" Wildlife Animals.
Captain Frankie is waiting to open your eyes to these amazing animals in the savannahs of Africa. Most of these beautiful animals are about to become extinct. We have to save our Wildlife animals. This earth belongs to them as well.
My First Travel Books. This is volume four of Anna Othitis’s trips with Captain Frankie. Originally from Zimbabwe, Africa, the author's travels have taken her far across the world.
So what's inside the books?
“Welcome aboard Angelic Airlines. This is your Captain Frankie, and I will be flying you to Africa’s Wildlife National Parks, the biggest being the Serengeti. We will visit, discover and learn about Africa’s “Big Five” Wild Animals. Stow your bags overhead, take your seats and fasten your seat belts for our take off on a smooth flight together on this wondrous journey through Africa’s sunsets and sunrises—such colorful and flaming skies. Into the plains and wilderness we go! It is a lovely sunny day today and I hope you enjoy your flight. Make yourselves comfortable, we have lots of healthy drinks and meals for you. Oh, and children, do not forget to put on your safari clothes and special safari hats.”
Amazon Buy Link (Kindle and Paperback):
About the Author:
Anna Othitis was raised in the beautiful land and country of Zimbabwe, Africa. She left her life long memories, endless charity work, and good people behind vowing she would continue supporting the needy children in her homeland of Zimbabwe, Africa and beyond. After traveling from the East coast to the West coast of the USA twice, she and her family found their sense of belonging and final destination in New Jersey.
Her husband George, sons Johnny, Elia and Frankie encouraged her to write her first children's book titled "My First Travel Book," inspired by Frankie (Captain Frankie), who is graduating with a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Science and beginning his career as a professional pilot. Anna's favorite saying is "Be Bold Be Brave".
She was inspired to write her children's books with a vision to link up the children of Africa and of the world on Angelic Airlines to many places of interest and popularity on our wonderful planet Earth and all its beautiful creations and resources--some natural and some man made. One of the natural wonders featured in her books, "The Mighty Victoria Falls," is in her birth land of Zimbabwe. All of her books educate our children, widen their scope of interest in and appreciation for their amazing surroundings, and encourage them to look after our environment for many generations still to come.
Not the cover! You'll have to wait. :)
Cross Keys: Unity, the finale of the Elvenrude Trilogy, is scheduled for release on Christmas Day, December 25, 2015.
While we wait for the publishing wheels to turn, here's a peek at the pre-edit opening pages...
The early December wind caught the hood of her elven cape, whipping her hair loose. Kam captured her dark locks in one hand, tied them with a thin, black scarf, and pulled the woolen hood back into place. She glanced over her shoulder and wrapped the cloak more securely around her slender figure. The village streets stood deserted, as folks settled in their homes for supper and a snug evening out of Elvenrude's chill night air. The scent of wood smoke drifted from chimneys. The yellow warmth of the alehouse's lanterns was only a few feet away.
She took a deep breath, opened the heavy oak door of Keiley's Pub, and stepped inside. The smell of ale and mead was strong, the lights dim. A few couples talked quietly. The merriment from other groups seemed measured by the number of empty ale mugs on the table.
Keeping her head down, Kam made her way to a back table. Her entry stirred little interest, the drab disguise making her inconspicuous, just another villager ending a long work day with a pint of brew—or in her case, hot berry wine.
Kam's eyes itched, and she resisted the urge to rub them. She'd bought a pair of brown contacts in New Orleans two weeks ago—as soon as Captain Brunic proposed this assignment. Her dark hair might have passed casual scrutiny, but not the intense blue eyes. They were distinctive to her aristocratic Ryndel family and made blending into the pub's clientele of commoners and crossbreeds problematic. She'd put the lenses in before coming through the magic portal this evening from her current home in New Orleans.
A barmaid took her order, returned with her drink, and Kam leaned back to watch and listen to the tavern gossip. Two tables were of particular interest. A group of three auburn-haired male elves near the front conversed in low tones. Their hair and dark eyes identified them as crossbreeds or duchaen as they were calling themselves now. The name derived from an ancient Elfish word meaning birthright, a reference to their struggle for equality.
Her attention was drawn by raised voices from the second table much closer to her. An interesting mixture of companions, and at least one of them had indulged in too much ale, his voice a little louder, less controlled. She leaned forward, took a sip of her drink, and strained to hear their conversation.
"No offense. But I'm not sure I want to get involved with the duchaen." The speaker was a pale-haired elf, a common laborer, with his back to her. "Things aren't that bad for us. What are you planning?"
Her hand tightened on the mug, waiting for the answer. This might be the what she'd been searching for.
***TO BE CONTINUED DECEMBER 25***