A Maizie Albright Star Detective Mystery #2
by Larissa Reinhart
Body doubles, dead bodies, and hot bodies abound…Wait, what?
“Fresh from Hollywood get ready to bubble along with Maizie Albright Star Detective. She’s #adorbs.” — Jena’s Books
“Another fun outing for Maizie Albright, former child star. Larissa Reinhart always brings humor and grit to her mysteries.” — Terri L. Austin, author of the Rose Strickland Mysteries and the Null for Hire series.
In continuing her career-makeover quest as a for-real detective, ex-teen and reality star Maizie Albright has a big learning curve to overcome. A sleuthing background starring in a TV show— Julia Pinkerton, Teen Detective--does not cut the real life mustard. It doesn’t even buy her lunch, let alone extra condiments. Her chosen mentor, Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Solutions, is not a willing teacher. He’d rather stick Maizie with a safe desk job and handle the security solution-ing himself. But Maizie’s got other plans to help Nash. First, win Nash’s trust. Second, his heart.
Wait, not his heart. His respect. His hearty respect.
So when a major movie producer needs a babysitter for his hot mess starlet, Maizie eagerly takes the job. But when her starlet appears dead, and then not dead, Maizie’s got more than an actress to watch and a missing corpse to find. Body doubles, dead bodies, and hot bodies abound when the big screen, small screen, and silent screams collide. Maizie’s on the job, on the skids, and on thin ice, hunting a killer who may be a celebrity stalker. And Maizie just might be the next celebrity who gets snuffed.
Barnes & Noble/Nook: http://smarturl.it/16MMNook1
Black Pine, the city, edged along Black Pine, the lake, which bordered Black Pine, the mountain. This lack of creativity in the name department occurred when rich carpetbagging Georgians of the Gilded Age decided to escape the summer heat in the North Georgia Mountains and parked a golf resort at the base of Black Pine Mountain. In the 1930s, their children persuaded the federal government to spend WPA money on Black Pine. They dammed off a river, creating Black Pine Lake, thereby expanding Black Pine Resort into a yacht club. Now along with wealthy Georgians, rich Californians resort at Black Pine, playing golf and tennis, yachting, and boozing at the Cove bar and restaurant.
I’m sure that’s exactly what Roosevelt had in mind for the New Deal.
Cambria and the other big stars, as well as Leonard Shackleton and the director Ed Farmer, stayed at the villas. The villas were part of the resort, built to resemble their ‘20s bungalow ancestors. The Craftsman-styled one and two bedroom cottages dotted the lake and one golf course. They were darling. Handcrafted wood and stone, with overhanging eaves, little porches, and hipped and gabled roofs. Besides the bedrooms, each cottage had a small living area with a kitchenette. Mucho dinero to stay in a villa. And there weren’t many. Twenty in all. Expensive and exclusive.
Hollywood’s favorite words.
Leonard had called Cambria and arranged for our dinner—“for old time’s sake,” which was weird because Leonard wasn’t part of our old time—and finagled me an earlier invitation to her villa to “catch up.” I showed early, hoping to find her before she began any evening imbibing. At the Cove, I parked my childhood dirt bike, Lucky.
Long story, but minimum wage and the cost of freedom meant I couldn’t afford a real vehicle. Yet. But—as I like to tell myself while I rub Sisley-Paris restorative cream onto my inner thighs at night to relieve them from dirt bike fabric burn—at least Lucky is motorized and not an actual bicycle because I’ve always detested spin.
Anyway, I planned to be on Cam-Cam like Donkey Kong. Referrals were everything. If we did a good job for Leonard Shackleton, it could lead to any number of jobs related to Black Pine’s film and television industry. And like Donkey Kong, I needed to lock Cambria in a tower and prevent the Marios of the world from carrying her off into a booze and drug-infested sunset.
Donkey Kong is so misunderstood.
Summer in Georgia promised the sun heating my bare shoulders at six o’clock. Yachts and speed boats bobbed next to the docks. A few sailboats drifted on the lake. With Black Pine Mountain in the backdrop, the tranquil lake and golf course made for a beautiful setting. The club’s paths were for electric, low-speed use only. No gas vehicles, not even dirt bikes allowed. All the villas guests were given golf carts. I wasn’t a member or guest. Unfortunately, my appearance would give me more street cred with Cambria, so I swapped my sensible Golden Goose sneakers for a pair of delicious Gianvito Rossi Marquis d’Orsay sandals.
After ten minutes of walking, the charm and placidity wore off. Screw appearances, I should have kept the tennies. Sweat pooled in my bra and darkened my Juan Carlos Obando blouse. My feet ached. After a half-mile hobble, I pulled off my Rossi’s and minced off the smoldering rubber path. Taking a deep breath, I wiggled my toes in the cool grass. A cart sped from the cottages toward the resort. I pulled out a packet of wet tissues from my carryall. Checking for stray golfers, I wiped my pits and folded the tissues in the armpits of my cutout sleeves.
Ruining a Juan Carols Obando with sweat stains was worse than getting caught with tissue hanging out of your armpits.
Continuing on my route, I enjoyed the non-pinched feeling of my bare feet and the scent of fresh cut grass breezing from the golf course. The lane moved away from the lake, leading into the woods. Another cart flew past me, the driver intent on gunning the whining engine to its max. Which was tots ridic. Like 20 miles an hour was going to get you to the bar that much faster? These industry peeps needed to take a note from the South and slow the hells down. Stop and smell the roses. Or the golf greens, as it were.
A sign pointed me toward “The Woodland Villas.” My feet and I gladdened and together we set off to find number six. Most of the villas’ tenants were out, golf carts gone. I could hear the drone of a lawn mower somewhere on the resort, but in this area, birds chirped, squirrels scampered, and the spindly Loblolly pines swayed in the breeze, making a rushing sound reminiscent of the California beaches I missed.
The peace broke at the approach of villa six. Music pumped inside. I didn’t hear it so much as felt the tremorous whomping bass. Despite the sunny day, lights glowed in the windows. Yet the golf cart was gone from its spot under the overhang. I slipped on my sandals, yanked the tissues out from under my arms, and did a quick clothing malfunction check (necessary when wearing a V-neck cami). My heels pattered on the slate stones leading to the villa’s porch. A big basket lay askew on the top step. I recognized the basket as the resort’s continental breakfast drop-off. Someone must have set it out recently because the resort wouldn’t have dallied in picking it up. I righted the basket, noting the pretty checked cloth tucked around the edges had kept the pastries from rolling down the steps.
Feeling like the big bad wolf, I peeked inside the Red Ridinghood basket. Cam-Cam hadn’t eaten her muffins. Of course. For a starring role in a big budget, carbs were more evil than controlled substances. And if Leonard Shackleton was producing, Cambria’s part would require a mega-intense fitness regime. Her trainer would be worse—in a better way—than my old trainer. Jerry wouldn’t even let me smell muffins, let alone eat them.
That thought had me reaching for a lemon poppyseed. Good old Jerry seemed long ago and far away. Plus, Cambria couldn’t eat lemon poppyseed for fear of mucking up her drug test. I crammed a chunk of muffin in my mouth, knocked on villa number six’s door, and fast-chewed. Pressed the bell twice, but still no answer. The wood-paneled door was framed by two picture windows. I shifted right. The drapes had been parted to display an empty living room. I angled for a glimpse inside, shading my eyes and squinting. Built-in bookshelves held matching bound books and a massive flat screen. Craftsman-styled furnishings and accessories completed the room, including the kitchen barely visible in the corner. Open bags and cases with camera equipment lay on the thick oriental rug covering the wooden floor.
Music continued to thump through the porch’s floorboards. I rang, then hammered on the door again, tried the knob, and wondered what Cambria was doing with videographer kits. Maybe they were doing pre-release documentary footage for marketing and the final DVD extras. Or she had another job before Leonard’s movie started. I tore off another lemon poppyseed hunk, popped it in my mouth, and thought about leaving. I glanced behind me to the long, long, long path back to the club. Wiggled my pained toes. Considered sitting on the porch to wait. With the basket of muffins. Noted the recent tightness of my jeans. Then traipsed to the right-side window to see what Cambria was doing.
Light gleamed between the curtains and shone on a California King with rumpled sheets and a spread that had half-slid off the bed. Satin-cased pillows had been piled in the middle. Other paraphernalia had been scattered across the sheets. My lemon poppyseed chewing slowed and I felt heat suffuse my cheeks.
I didn’t want to know what kind of filming Cambria had been doing. Or not doing. I backed away from the window, turned toward the stairs, and stopped.
The kind of filming Cam-Cam might have been doing was the exact kind of “shitting up his movie,” Leonard Shackleton had been talking about. Cambria could be blowing her chance for this epic part if she and her boyfriend were getting frisky in front of a camera. A professional camera, by the look of the kit.
Why in the hell would they make a “home movie” with what looked like the kind of camera a documentary director would carry? This wasn’t a GoPro box or a camcorder. My heart thudded and blood heated to shoot up the back of my neck.
Dammit, Cambria was going to blow her shot and my shot and Nash’s shot all in one idiotic, depraved video.
Unless I stopped her.
I spun around and pounded on the door. After waiting another beat, I tromped off the porch and circled the villa to the bedroom side window. A slope made the window too high for easy peeking, but the blinds were up and no curtains barred the view. I tiptoed around to the back of the villa. At the far end, a screen door swung out to reveal a locked, windowed door leading to the tiny kitchenette. The bathroom window revealed nothing except Cambria had a crap ton of makeup.
I stepped away, and spied a pile of logs. Found a sturdy looking piece cut evenly on both ends, hefted it against my satin blouse, and walked back to the bedroom window. Dropped the heavy log, missing my toes by an inch, positioned it below the window, and attempted to pull the splinters from my off-the-shoulder ruffles. Gave up on the splinters and cursed Cambria for her stupidity and for ruining my Juan Carlos Obando. Climbed on the log, rose to my toes, and peered in the window.
Saw the body on the floor.
And fell off the log.
About the Author:
Larissa writes humorous mysteries and romantic comedies including the critically acclaimed Maizie Albright Star Detective and Cherry Tucker Mystery series. She was a contributor to the 2017 Silver Falchion Reader’s Choice winner, was the 2015 Georgia Author of the Year finalist, 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. Larissa’s family and dog, Biscuit, had been living in Japan, but once again call Georgia home. See them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Visit her website, LarissaReinhart.com, and join her newsletter for a free short story.
Welcome to this week's Coffee Chat!
Our guest author is Southern Fiction writer, Ramey Channell, from the great state of Alabama. Nice to meet you, Ramey! How do you take your coffee?
RC: I drink my coffee black. I brew a pot of coffee every morning, using only organic coffee, and mix it half regular and half decaffeinated. I love it! I have early coffee memories, sitting in my father’s lap at the kitchen table, drinking a warm cup of his special coffee concoction: mostly milk and lots of sugar, with just enough coffee to produce a rich caramel color. The light above the table reflected in the cup, forming two linked semi-circles. He told me that was the hoof print where the cow stepped in the milk.
Ally: A nice memory. While I pour our coffee, why don't you introduce yourself to readers?
Ramey Channell’s inspiration springs from a world where forests are inhabited by wondrous magical beings, backyards are visited by numinous creatures, and gardens are filled with echoes of enchanted song and laughter. As a child growing up in rural Alabama, she was spellbound by family stories of extraordinary beings and peculiar visitors, told in a setting so close to nature that the stories seemed natural and believable. An award winning poet and author, her stories and poems have appeared in Aura Literary Arts Review, Alalitcom, Birmingham Arts Journal, Ordinary and Sacred as Blood: Alabama Women Speak (1999), Belles Letters 2: Contemporary Stories by Alabama Women (2017), and many other journals and collections. She was awarded the Barksdale-Maynard Award for her short story, Voltus Electricalus and Strata Illuminata. She has two published novels: Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge (Chalet Publishers 2010) and The Witches of Moonlight Ridge (2016)
When she’s not busy writing, you can find her in her studio or at the kitchen table, painting and drawing, or somewhere out in the yard sword fighting and playing ambush with her eleven-year-old grandson.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "Golly, something unusual about me … I collect rocks, they’re all over the house. I collect dead bugs; they’re on the china cabinet in my dining room and on the bookshelf in the den. I started writing before I could write! I remember, before I started to grammar school, being impatient to hurry up and get into the first grade and learn to write so I could write poems and short stories. I wrote a play in the 3rd grade, about a rabbit who was in love with a fairy. I’ve been writing ever since, and collecting rocks and bugs."
Ally: When readers open one of your books, what can they expect?
RC: My two published novels are Southern Fiction, cross-genre adult/YA. My books were published as adult fiction, but are appropriate for all ages from Middle School up.
Ally: Give us a peek at your writing day.
RC: I write where ever and whenever I get a chance. So often, I have a sudden flash of inspiration while driving! I write barely legible notes on scraps of paper, receipts, old envelopes. I often sit up in bed at night, writing page after page in spiral notebooks. Then I put it all together at the computer in my den, situated between a big white-curtained window and an open French door. I can look out and watch the trees moving in the wind, birds looking for bugs and birdseed, watch the crows and hawks fly over. Sometimes green trees and blue sky provide ideas and inspirations when the white page is not giving me what the story needs.
Ally: I'd love to hear about your main character. What makes her worthy of a leading role?
RC: The main character in my Moonlight Ridge books is the narrator of the stories, Lily Claire Nash. She has a unique voice and a talent for remembering and describing details of her life and the stories told by other members of her family. Lily Claire, 9 years old in The Witches of Moonlight Ridge, tells everything she knows about her ancestors, her family, and the world around her. The reader is given a fresh look at an environment that is familiar to some, but a totally new and challenging landscape to others. Her grasp of the realities in her 1950s hillbilly environment, what is truly important and what should be accepted with a laugh and a shrug, is both revelatory and charming. Lily Claire tells a story that is both heartwarming and surprising, and she doesn’t shy away from those subjects that leave more questions than answers as she reveals the twists and turns of everyday life as she knows it. Lily Claire is accompanied by her companion, best friend and “identical twin” cousin, Willie. T., as the mysteries and magic of mountain life lead the dauntless pair into strange and sometimes dangerous adventures.
Ally: Can you paint a word picture of Claire, her style, way of life, her pets, etc.?
RC: Lily Claire Nash, is a precocious 9 year old in the backwoods of 1950s Alabama. She has straight brown hair, bright brown eyes, and a glowing tan complexion, as a result of her mixed ethnic heritage and from spending most of her time outdoors, summer and winter, under the Alabama sun. Lily Claire’s favorite color is red, the color of the Drunkard’s Path patchwork quilt on her bed. She wears homemade sundresses with sandals in the summer, and typical 1950s school dresses in the fall. Lily Claire and her rambunctious cousin, Willie T., adopt a stray brown dog and name him Witch Boy, and they end up in dangerous territory when they go on a search for their grandmother’s lost cat, Lucinda. They are also pestered by a huge black crow named Midnight, who isn’t their pet but who plays a big part in their search for a loved one who is lost on the mountain.
Ally: Have you pictured your stories as movies? Who would play the parts?
RC: I have thought about my books being made into movies! After seeing him in The Hatfields & McCoys mini-series, I would love to have Kevin Costner play the role of Great Granddaddy W.T. Greenberry, a naturalist who collects bugs and possums and who is described by Lily Claire as a crazy man! There would have to be a great talent search to find two talented and agile children of mixed ancestry, Native American and Caucasian, to play Lily Claire and her cousin/best friend, Willie T. Yaya Alafia played Black Panther Carol Hammie in The Butler. She would be beautiful as Evergreen, aka Bessie Penny, in The Witches of Moonlight Ridge. And Erskine Batson, the school teacher who falls in love with a beautiful witch: would have to be some young unknown skinny musician.
Ally: How did you choose the title of the book you're featuring?
RC: The Witches of Moonlight Ridge is the second book of the Moonlight Ridge Series. I was about halfway through the writing process when the title became apparent. I resisted for a while, wondering if there could really be witches on the mountain, as I had been told as a child, and wondering if witches were involved in the old legend of the ill-fated highwayman and his beautiful sweetheart. But it turned out to be true!
Ally: What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
RC: I’m working on The Winter Book, number three of the Moonlight Ridge series. This episode is set in the frozen backwoods winter in the hill country of Alabama. There will be more ethereal visitors, humorous predicaments, and unsolved mysteries as icy winds and plunging temperatures make the mountain a hazardous place for all outdoor adventurers. I predict that the eccentric young teacher, Erskine Batson, will once again find himself face-to-face with the beautiful and mysterious Evergreen, who may or may not truly be a witch. And the intrepid pair, Lily Claire and Willie T., will once again find themselves up to their ears in intrigue. Anticipated release date, spring or summer 2018.
Ally: Try these short answer questions...
Ally: It was great sharing book talk and coffee with you, Ramey. Before you tear off to work on that next book, show us a little of The Witches of Moonlight Ridge.
Second book in the Moonlight Ridge Series follows the adventures of Lily Claire Nash and her cousin, Willie T. Nock, two precocious children in the woods of 1950s Alabama. Ghosts, hauntings, scary tales told 'round the evening fire, witches, and famous legends weave a story of mystery, romance, and tragedy.
What people are saying:
"The Witches of Moonlight Ridge is storytelling at its very best. Ramey Channell has a voice that rings true — lyrical, compelling, and southern." Vicki Marsh Covington, author, The Last Hotel for Women
"Ramey Channell is a Southern writer with the chops of Harper Lee and the sometimes bawdy humor of Mark Twain. In The Witches of Moonlight Ridge, Willie T. and Lily Claire are back, and as delightful as ever. You'll laugh, you'll cry, but most of all, you'll be completely charmed." Smoky Zeidel, author, The Storyteller’s Bracelet, and The Cabin
Happy Wednesday, booklovers!
It's time for our weekly book talk, and this week's guest is author Marni Graff. Welcome, Marni! How do you take your coffee?
MKG: When I drink coffee, it’s either black if it’s good coffee, or with milk and sweetener. I usually drink tea, hot in the morning and iced during the day, and depending on the blend, it is with sweetner and either lemon or milk. Nothing like a wee cuppa to get me going!
Ally: Then a cuppa tea it will be! While I pour, please introduce yourself to readers.
About the Author:
Marni Graff writes The Nora Tierney English Mysteries, featuring an American writer living in England with a nose for murder, as well as The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries, based on Graff’s real work as a medical consultant for a movie studio. She is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press, a member of Sisters in Crime, and writes crime book reviews at www.auntiemwrites.com.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "I adore jigsaw puzzles! In fall and winter I usually have one in progress. My husband made me different sized working frames with built up sides, so I can move one in-progress from the end of our large dining table to the coffee table until they’re done. Some of my favorite ones are glued and framed and brighten up the stairwell to our guest rooms upstairs. I find them incredibly useful for working out plot points. As I concentrate on finding just the right piece, I’m using the mental time to play the “What if?” games writers love."
Contact the Author:
She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; @GraffMarni on Twitter, or through www.bridlepathpress.com.
Ally: When readers open one of your books, what will they find?
MKG: Mystery, a mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural, and while there is a hint of romance in a few, you are always left at the bedroom door!
Ally: I'm always interested in how other authors work. What is your writing schedule like?
MKG: I live in a very rural area of North Carolina at a river that is part of the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s lovely and secluded and filled with nature. It’s also an 18 mile round trip to the post office because they don’t deliver to our house at the end of a dirt road! But it’s a peaceful haven for any writer, and our family always has at least one dog to walk along the shore whilst thinking of storylines. I write in the afternoons once Seamus, our young Aussie Doodle, is exercised and the housework and errands are done, probably five days a week, but any consistent five days, just according to our schedules. I have at least two more Noras planned and three more Trudys as it stands now. One current goal for me is to return to England next summer. I’d like to attend St. Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Conference for the third time and then stay to do setting research for future Noras in Cambridge, Scotland and Cornwall. I’ve just submitted a NC Arts Council grant application for help with that, so fingers crossed!
Ally: Tell us about your main character Nora and why readers should care about her.
MKG: Nora Tierney is an American writer from Connecticut who moved to England when she was transferred by the magazine she worked for as an editor, “People and Places” but she’s quit that to focus on the children’s book series she writes. The second one has just been published in THE GOLDEN HOUR and she travels to Bath to do her first reading and signing in a real bookshop there, Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, whose owner, Nic Bottomley, appears in the book and who is so happy with the final novel that he’s selling it in his shop!
Nora has an insatiable appetite for information honed by her journalism skills that gives her a nose for investigating when crime is near her. She lost her father as a teen to a drowning accident and has carried guilt for years over not accepting his invitation to go sailing with him, feeling she might have been able to save him. It took her years to let her guard down and fall in love with a British biologist, but the relationship floundered and she was on the verge of breaking it off when he was killed in a plane accident—only to find out weeks later she was pregnant with his child. She decided to have the child and has been raising it alone until she met Oxford DI Declan Barnes.
In The Golden Hour the theme revolves around what is family and home, and she and Declan are each deciding how committed their relationship will be. That’s when Declan’s new case, the death of an art conservator, becomes mingled with a stalker harassing Nora, and brings unsuspected jeopardy into their lives.
I think readers will see Nora struggling to be the best Mum she can be to her young son while still trying to carve out a life for herself that includes his best interests, something many can relate to. The little things that real people have to deal with, like a teething baby, are all there. She’s not a superwoman, but a very real woman with a big heart who wants to do the right thing.
Ally: Are there animals in your books? What part do they play?
MKG: I’m a dog lover, so the brother and sister Nora has been living with in Cumbria in the earlier books had a Lakeland terrier named Darby. In the new book, Nora comes across a little beagle when inspecting an Oxford house she’s touring with an eye to renting. The pup is up for adoption, and her young son names him Typo. He’s featured on the cover and will be part of her little family in subsequent books. Who knows how Typo may figure in the next Nora Tierney?
Ally: How did you choose the title of the book you're featuring?
MKG: THE GOLDEN HOUR fits my Nora Tierney English Mystery theme of each book having a color in the title and the cover having a color wash in that same tone. The term “Golden Hour” is probably best known to readers as a medical one, when the first hour after a heart attack or stroke is the best way to affect recovery. For artists, it’s that hour before sunset when the earth has a golden glow of twilight. But in a police investigation, it’s the first hour after a reported critical incident, when the best forensic evidence is available, and when any witnesses memories are the clearest and most accurate. At one point, a Bath detective actually describes that meaning to Nora.
Ally: What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
MKG: I’m working on the second Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery, Death of an Heiress. This time Trudy is the medical consultant to a made-for-TV movie when the lead actress disappears and murder follows. It’s being filmed in NYC’s famous Dakota, home at one time to John Lennon and still to Yoko Ono, and once host to other celebrities and wealthy residents that included Lauren Bacall, Rudolf Nureyev, Rosemary Clooney and Judy Garland. The filming takes places in what was once Leonard Bernstein’s flat. In reality, The Dakota is notoriously difficult to get into and does not allow filming of any kind, but in Trudy’s world they do! That one should take about 18 months to be in print.
Ally: A love short answer questions to get to know people better. Are you ready?
Ally: Lovely having a spot of tea with you, Marni! I hope you'll visit again. Before you take off to plan that England trip (I'm green with envy, BTW!), please show us The Golden Hour and where we can get it.
The Golden Hour
Genre: English mystery
From the award-winning author of three previous Nora Tierney English Mysteries comes her most chilling novel to date.
Nora Tierney’s move from Cumbria back to Oxford means house-hunting with her partner, DI Declan Barnes, but she can’t shake the feeling she has a stalker. Declan’s case, the death of an art conservator, brings international concerns. How these overlap when Nora heads to Bath for her first bookstore event will find her fighting to save her child and the family she’s trying to create.
What reviewers are saying:
"Nora Tierney tackles her most complex and captivating mystery yet." Elly Griffiths
"One of the best things about Marni Graff’s latest Nora Tierney mystery, The Golden Hour, is the down-to-earth depiction of family life coupled with the tightly paced build of a twisty, time-honored puzzle. A meditation on love, loss and motherhood, The Golden Hour blends touchingly real domesticity with tongue-in-cheek humor, as the backdrop to a tale of art theft, germ warfare, and international conspiracy. The reflections of a reprehensible villain on the shortcomings of the British add just the right note of comedy to these otherwise weighty concerns. Added to this is a wonderful sense of place—Bath, Brighton, and Oxford are vividly rendered and charmingly true to life. Come for the crackling mystery, stay for the steady companionship of debonair detective Declan Barnes and feisty heroine, Nora Tierney, who offers warmth and smarts in equal measure." Ausma Zehanat Khan, Among the Ruins, The Unquiet Dead
"The Golden Hour is a compulsive read with a narrative that both charms and surprises. I love Nora Tierney and can't wait to see what happens next." Sarah Ward, The DC Childs Mysteries
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2vabUMJ ( trade paperback, Kindle and Audible)
Bridle Path Press for autographed copies: http://bridlepathpress.com
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!
It's a little cool in the Midwest today, and hot coffee tastes especially good this morning. Draw up a chair and join me in chatting with mystery writer Marilyn Meredith.
A pleasure to see you, Marilyn. What may I get you to drink?
MM: My morning drink is Chai latte that I make myself on my Keurig. When out and about, I might choose something else.
Ally: I'll fix that latte while you introduce yourself to readers.
About the Author:
Marilyn Meredith’s published book count is nearing 40. She is one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter of Sister in Crime. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra, a place with many similarities to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area.
Something unusual not included in your regular bio: "Besides being a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, I’m also a great-great grandmother! I’m truly blessed."
And you can follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.meredith or Twitter: http://twitter.com/MarilynMeredith
Ally: Let's start by talking about your writing process. Do you set daily goals?
MM: My usual plan is to write in the early morning hours, however if the writing is going really well, I’ll write whenever I have time. Though I don’t consider myself a plotter, I have a good idea where I’m headed before I begin and have decided who my victim will be, the suspects, and usually the manner of the murder as well as the setting or settings.
I keep handwritten notes that include character names, descriptions, and most importantly, a timeline.
I don’t set number of words goals like some authors do, I just write until I have to stop. However, because I write two books a year (two different series), I know I have to keep at it.
Ally: What comes after your first draft? How much editing do you do?
MM: I belong to a critique group, the same one I’ve belonged to for years. They hear every chapter of every book, and I consider them my first editor. Though I don’t always do exactly what they suggest, I take every suggestion to heart. I usually fix the chapter the next day. The editing is continuous.
Once the book is done and I’ve gone over it several times to make sure it’s the best I can make it, I send it off to the publisher who assigns the manuscript to an editor. The editor then will go over it and send it back with corrections and suggestions. Once I’ve fixed it again, it goes back to the publisher, the editor goes over it again. I’ll be sent the proof copy to check for typos and other errors. I always print out this copy to make sure I catch as much as I can. I send back a list of what I’ve found—then the book is off to publication.
Ally: Since characters are the heart of any story, how do you choose and name them?
MM: Because I’m writing a series, I have some ongoing characters who were named long ago. Tempe Crabtree was my great-grandmother’s name and I thought it fit the Indian woman I envisioned as my heroine. Frankly, I don’t remember what prompted her husband, Hutch’s name, except that it’s short for his last name, Hutchinson. Tempe’s good friend and mentor’s name, Nick Two John, just came to me. As for new characters’ names, over the years I’ve saved graduation programs giving me a great source for both first and last names.
Ally: What is your best marketing tip? What didn't work out for you?
MM: Being friendly to everyone and never judging someone by how they look. I’ve sold books to the most unsavory looking folks because I smiled and chatted with them. I’ve been invited to give talks to various groups for the same reason. At big mystery cons I’ve sought out the readers to get acquainted with rather than the other writers and gained some fans that way. Of course I do all the usual, Facebook, Twitter, my blog and a blog tour for each new book, and a monthly newsletter.
Though I continue to do book store signings, they are not my first choice of promotion. I do like to find other venues for book signings, planning one for a chocolate store. How fun is that?
Ally: Have you thought about one of your books being made into a movie? Who would play the parts?
MM: I’ve had many readers tell me that my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series would make a great TV series. If that should ever happen, I would want all the Indian characters to actually be played by Native Americans.
Ally: What is your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
MM: I’m working on my next Rocky Bluff P.D. police procedural right now. I suspect it’ll be out sometime after the first of the year. And I do have the idea for the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery—the ideas for that are beginning to churn in my subconscious.
Ally: Let's talk about you in these short answer questions.
a. Favorite TV show: Blue Bloods
b. Do you believe in love at first sight? I believe in attraction and infatuation at first sight. I met my husband, a very cute sailor, on a blind date and married him a very short time later. I certainly thought I was in love, but true love didn’t come until later. And yes, I’m still married to him after 64 years.
c. Favorite quote: “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” (It’s also my mantra)
d. Your pets: We have lots, two inside cats, Butch and Sundance. Many feral outside cats that I have not named, my husband’s pets. One dog, Bo. Because we live in the country and our granddaughter and her family live with us, there are many other animals here: a miniature horse named Sparky, the kids’ dog, Cowboy, chickens and a rooster, and some ducks.
e. A guilty pleasure: Going out to eat. Because I am the chief cook around here (I like to cook and I only know how to cook for a crowd), it’s a real treat to go to a nice restaurant and eat something that I didn’t make.
Ally: Always a pleasure to have you, Marilyn, and to learn about the newest Deputy Tempe. Speaking of which...please tell us about A Cold Death.
A Cold Death:
Genre: Mystery, rated G
Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her husband answer the call for help with unruly guests visiting a closed summer camp during a huge snow storm and are trapped there along with the others. One is a murderer and another is a ghost.
Publisher: Anyone who orders any of my books from the publisher‘s website: http://mundania.com
can get 10% off by entering MP20 coupon code in the shopping cart. This is good all the time for all my books, E-books and print books.
P.S. You also might want to check out Marilyn's cookbook!
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Ally Shields lives in the Midwest close to the setting of her Guardian Witch series. Whether she's actually seen vampires, werewolves, witches, elves, or ghosts is something she keeps to herself.
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