Craft Blog Visit

I’m visiting Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers blog today with a repeat post 3-2-15 786px-Quilt_barn_stock_tp_harrison_co_Ohioabout barn quilts. How do you like the new barn picture she found to show? See the whole story here.

My ebook, A Knucklehead in 1920s Alaska is still free through March 2, 2015. It is available for Kindle at Amazon.

Follow the daily posts at Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers. Thursday, on my blog, look for a writing hint I discovered a couple of days ago, quite disproving that saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Free e-book—A KNUCKLEHEAD IN 1920s ALASKA

A Knucklehead in 1920s AlaskaEvery Thursday I post something I find interesting, hoping you will too. So, today’s interesting bit is about tomorrow—which is when one of my e-books goes free for five days.

File it under both history and mystery. The history part is easy. The book is one I wrote with my father from audio tapes he gave me quite a few years ago about going to Alaska to earn college money.  He was nineteen, a hot-headed kid who didn’t want to take any guff. Of course, guff is often what one gets from an employer, so he had a lot of different jobs. He failed to blow himself up carrying dynamite. He failed to drown when he and a horse ended up under the ice in a near-freezing river. He even managed to survive dancing with what they referred to as “a woman on the line” when her boyfriend showed up. In fact, after I heard my father’s adventures, I realized that it’s a marvel I was ever born. That’s the history part.

The mystery part is at the tail end of this book, sort of a Thank You for reading—a reprint of my first short mystery, “Yesterday’s News” published in Future’s Mysterious Mystery Magazine several years ago.

A Knucklehead in 1920s Alaska e-book is available for Kindle. The free dates are February 27 through March 3, 2015. Do read and enjoy!

Monday, I’ll be back here, but I’ll be visiting Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers too.

Agatha Nominee-WRITES OF PASSAGE

WRITES OF PASSAGE frontMy five-star pick this week was nominated in the non-fiction category and includes essays from 59 Sisters in Crime members (I’m one of them). Hank Phillippi Ryan edited Writes of Passage and is the author of a mystery also up for an Agatha. Publisher. Henery Press, is a hot-bed of Agatha winners and nominees. With a line-up like that, how can this book miss?

Readers agree. This is one review on Amazon. 

“I purchased this book to support Sisters in Crime. What the heck, I thought. I can read a story a day with my tea in the morning. Then I can read my “other book” later in the day. Except I didn’t. I found myself reading four or five stories in the morning (each one is about 2 pages), and then picking it back up later in the day. So much for my “other book!”
“If you’re a beginning, established or emerging writer, or simply interested in the writing journey, there’s something in Writes of Passage for you. Many somethings. Encouragement, passion, truth, advice, humor and angst resolved.
“I won’t pick my favorite stories here — couldn’t if I tried. But I will give a major kudos callout to Hank Phillippi Ryan’s exemplary job of editing. This could have been just a bunch of stories. Instead it’s a cohesive blend of many voices, coming together as one.”
For two months, Sisters in Crime posted a clip from each author. This one was from my contribution called: The Guppy Connection. “I’m a Guppy who is still learning, but also offering any help I can to my favorite group.” (That’s the Guppy chapter—originally named for the Great UnPublished, but now, many consider themselves the Great Under Published, as many have gone on to publishing even multiple mystery series.)

Five Stars for MAIDS OF MISFORTUNE

My five-star pick this week combines two of my loves—mystery and historic fiction. Maids of Misfortune takes place in 1879 San Francisco. A young widow supports herself as boarding house owner Annie Fuller, and, in disguise, as psychic Sibyl who gives personal and financial advice to clients. As a woman, she knows that no one would ever accept such advice from her, but they will accept it as coming from the stars. When one of her clients dies, supposedly by suicide, she knows his finances weren’t in the shambles the police claim. When the police realize it was murder, they look to his family. Annie poses as a serving girl for the family to find the truth.

The author, M. Louisa Locke, seamlessly puts the reader squarely in that time and place. While we are engrossed in the plot we notice the work involved to keep up a house, the attitudes of everyone toward a Chinese cook, Annie’s belated realization of what her laundry girl does, and the problems of travel and communication in an earlier age.

Maids of Misfortune is the first of a series (the ebook is now free). There are several short stories as well. The fourth full-length mystery in the series will be out this month.

Of interest to the writers among my readers, M. Louisa Locke’s blog shares her ongoing marketing plans for an independent writer. (Next week I’ll revisit the upcoming Agatha awards with another good read.)

Agatha Nominee-CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE

My five star pick today is a two-fer—five stars plus Agatha nominee for Best First Novel!

It’s winter, the snow is piling high, and Zoe Chambers, paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania is on the road with the emergency vehicle, trying to save lives. But someone is murdered, and in a small town where everyone knows everyone else, there are a lot of secrets and connections.

I read Circle of Influence last May with lovely warm sunshine, but author Annette Dashofy made me feel every bit of icy precipitation as I settled down to read one great mystery, with unexpected revelations on almost every page.

If you haven’t yet read Circle of Influence, snuggle into a blanket before a roaring fire and settle down to read one great not-quite-cozy mystery with an excellent plot and memorable characters. And, if you attend Malice Domestic in May, consider voting for Circle of Influence.

Five Stars for LOWCOUNTRY BOIL

I read Lowcountry Boil two years ago, shortly after it was published by Henery Press. Then I went to my first ever Malice Domestic in 2013, and voted for it to win as Best First Novel of 2012. Of course, I was sure I’d picked a lot of other winners as well, but Lowcountry Boil was the only winner I picked. Since I was sitting at one of the Henery Press tables, I got a front row seat as the other Henery Press authors helped Susan Boyer celebrate.

Susan Boyer-Agatha winner

Susan Boyer-Agatha winner

To do justice to this book, I’m rereading it now, and enjoying it just as much as I did the first time. Some things come back to me immediately. I remembered the ghost (I love ghosts). When the locket turned up, I thought, aha! Other plot points had slipped my mind. Oh, yes, now I remember, I thought as a new danger unfolded.

But this isn’t telling you about a great read. A Great Winning Read! Not only did it win the Agatha, but it won the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery Suspense.

The lowcountry of the story is a South Carolina island along the Intracoastal Waterway (Did I pass it on one of several boating trips, I wonder?) It’s a close-knit community of friends, relatives, and often, enemies who may be both friends or relatives.

Liz returns to the island homestead after her grandmother dies. She learns it was murder. So, why would anyone kill a sweet old lady? There are conspiracies afoot, and a ghost who confers with Liz, looking to save the island from the bad guys.

Are the problems broken marriages, land grabs, long remembered slights? Or, none of the above? Although Liz runs her own private investigation agency in the city, her brother, the local police chief, does not want her help in solving one murder and trying to prevent further mayhem.

Other reviewer comments: “I can see why this debut mystery is getting a lot of buzz.”

“The paranormal aspect adds to the story rather than taking it over, striking the perfect balance.”

“A Southern Mystery to be Savored!”

I agree with all of them.

Five Stars For JUST ADD WATER

I didn’t have to dig very deeply into my favorites list to come up with 5 star A Just Add Water by Jinx Schwartyz. I understand that this author is as at-home on boats as she is in front of her computer writing about Hetta Coffey.

Hetta doesn’t have a boat as the book starts. She has women friends, an ex fiancé, and a dog named RJ. Let’s just say, boy friends come and go, and their coming isn’t always good. Could be fatal, as a matter of fact. But, oh, that does make for good reading!

The dead body doesn’t appear right away, but the action is non-stop. Hetta is after a man, any man. Perhaps buying a boat is the way to go. Then, again, perhaps not. But Hetta has a boat, and she is intends to learn how to use it. (That’s a quote, more or less, from the author’s tweets, “Hetta has a boat and she’s not afraid to use it.”)

This is my first Hetta Coffey Mystery and won’t be the last! I read Jinx Schwartyz’ Land of Mountains before giving it to a granddaughter and absolutely loved it. It is semi-autobiographical. I don’t think Just Add Water is, but it certainly could be, if the child in the earlier book grew up to get involved in murder instead of just into boats.

I’d like to quote from a few others who liked this book:

“First, I must say this book was a chuckle a minute—except for the parts not designed to elicit chuckles, of course.”

“Whether you’re a fan of mystery, chick lit, or humor, you’ll be a fan of Hetta Coffey and author Jinx Schwartz.”

“Hetta is brash and bold with a mouth that doesn’t have much of a filter.”

There are many more reviews, but that gives you an idea. Almost all of them are positive.

Just Add Water is available here.

Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine

Of course, I know a little something about boats as well. Just for kicks, I’ll add a picture of the boat my husband and I sailed for a good many years. We didn’t find any killers, but we did run into a few killer storms. And, knowing a little bit about boats myself, only made me appreciate Just Add Water even more.

Does knowledge of the subject affect your reading? I know, if an author doesn’t get something right that I do know about, that does affects my reading pleasure. It down-right destroys it.

It’s All About The Book

5 star AStarting next week, every Monday will be my FIVE STAR READS day. I’ll talk about a book I’ve recently read, or, maybe not so recently read, that’s on my favorites list.

What makes a book one of my favorites? Ummm… could be because I stayed up late at night to continue reading. Could be because I absolutely loved the main characters, or the plot, or the sentiment, or… Perhaps I don’t know exactly what it is that tips an enjoyable novel over to the superlative.

Like they say, my choice might not be your cuppa tea. Even, on another day, it might not have been my favorite. But, rest assured, I’ll tell you what shivered my timbers with each book. Likely it will be a mystery. But, not always. (I’m looking forward to listing a particular middle-grade novel.) I also like historic fiction, especially historic mysteries. A few romances resonate with me (I have favorite authors). Often, a non-fiction will catch my eye.  I like comedy in stories, but I appreciate good suspense as well.

Along with my Monday with books, I’ll post another blog entry each Thursday. The subjects will be varied. I’ll include entries on both days to follow my mystery, history, and spooks, oh my caption. But, I’ll no doubt include some that could only be considered ‘rambling.’

Come back on Thursday, and again on next Monday. Hopefully, I’ll have refined my five star reads logo. And, hopefully, I’ll find out how to reorganize my first page to include an option to follow my blog, to shorten the list of past posts, and, possibly, even include other options.

What makes a book one of your favorites?

 

A New e-book

Two years ago I published A KNUCKLEHEAD IN 1920s ALASKA, aA Knucklehead in 1920s Alaska memoir of my father’s experiences when he went to Alaska hoping to earn money for college expenses. I’ve now published it as a Kindle e-book.

Here’s the blurb: At age eighty-eight, William (Bill) Collins recorded his adventures as a young man who traveled to Alaska to earn money for college. In the 1920s he found adventure, but not much money working in the railroad yards, in mines, as a pearl diver (dishwasher), and anything else between.

During three summers and one winter, Bill survived hunger, earthquake, stomping caribou, and icicle frost. He learned about stopes, sluice boxes, powder smoke, and the Festival of the Midnight Sun. He found friends who would face a bear for him and enemies eager to knife him or smash him with a twenty-pound sledge. Bill had one lucky day and more than a few really bad days.

This is the story of one hot-headed young man determined to earn his own way. In his own words, he was a true knucklehead.

~ ~ ~

I’ve included a bonus short mystery at the end, “Yesterday’s News,” previously published by Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine. Even better, the entire e-book is free for those who purchase, or have already purchased, the paperback from Amazon.

Now for a question: Do you know any interesting stories from your parents or grandparents that your children might be interested in?

And another question: Have you ever considered telling that story to a wider audience?

And a hint: Those were the questions I asked myself a few years ago, and with a bit of encouragement, this was my answer.