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.

A Tropical Thanksgiving

Kait Carson lives in and writes from Florida. Her latest book, DEATH BYKait-cover BLUE WATER, was released by Henery Press on Veterans’ Day 2014.  In it, paralegal Hayden Kent discovers a man’s body at 120’ beneath the sea. She thinks she is witness to a tragic accident. Instead, she becomes the prime suspect when the victim is revealed to be the brother of the man who recently jilted her, and she has no alibi.

A year ago I spent Thanksgiving in Florida, but this year I’m at home in Pennsylvania. Unlike my guest, that was only a sometime visit. But Kait remembers past Thanksgivings and has her own way of celebrating in the tropics. Let her tell you about it…

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Known to my family as Turkey Day, it was a favorite childhood holiday. Whether it was at home or away – there were two constants. A groaning table of food (followed by groaning family members), and cold weather—sometimes snow. SNOW, what has snow got to do with a tropical thanksgiving? Well, nothing. But my childhood turkey days were usually spent in the north. Sometimes on my great grandfather’s farm. He was a hardy soul who lived into his 100s. Family history varies on whether it was 103 or 106. I doubt he knew. He was born in the ‘old country’ at home on, yes, a farm. No records were kept, or no records that he kept were kept.

Turkey day on the farm in upstate New York was special. All of the dinner was homegrown. Since both of my great grandparents were immigrants, keeping American holidays, especially Thanksgiving, was a religion with them. Our location made snow a frequent visitor on Thanksgiving Day.

Fast forward to my late teens. Here comes the tropical part. I fell in love with Miami as a five year old when we visited cousins. I never fell out of love. When the time came for me to go to college, it was UM or bust—Go Canes! Once planted, my roots grew in the warm, sandy soil, and I’ve never left. My adult reality has Thanksgivings far removed from anything resembling snow, unless you count white sandy beaches. Temperatures of 80 and above are the norm. But it’s Thanksgiving! It’s autumn. It needs to be COLD. I don’t know who invented air conditioning. I could probably Google it, but that’s been my solution since I moved here. Crank the A/C down to 60, pull on a sweater, turn on the oven and have at it. Turkey, brussels sprouts, yams (a Southern staple I might add), mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato pie (nod to the South) and pumpkin pie. It all pours out of my oven and on to the table. I close all the drapes to block out the green grass and palm trees, light the fireplace, and voila, a cool, Florida, Thanksgiving.

Hayden Kent, the heroine of DEATH BY BLUE WATER, would never understand. Hayden is a Conch. Born and bred in the Florida Keys. Her idea of Thanksgiving runs to Florida lobster stuffing (very good by the way) and ambrosia (also very good). She’s probably going to spend her early morning SCUBA diving to celebrate having a day off, and then hosting a dinner for her friends Mallory and Janice, and maybe her boss, Grant. Any way she slices it, the pie will be from the bakery, and everyone will have a late night, a great time, and leftovers to go.

Come to think of it, that sounds like the perfect turkey day. No matter where or how you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Kait-photoBIO: Kait Carson lives and works in South Central Florida. She shares her home with her pilot husband, a Cherokee Six airplane, eight rescued cats, and three birds. So far, there is no partridge in the avocado tree. Kait is a rabid SCUBA diver and can be found underwater most summer weekends. A self-styled warm water wimp, the diving stops on Columbus Day and the day trips by air begin. Visit her at www.kaitcarson.com, or on Facebook at facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor.

Kait’s mention of her favorite foods, especially that ambrosia, reminds me of our family specialty—a necessity for any holiday meal, officially known as apple pudding, but also known as red stuff. Do you have a favorite for holiday meals?

Halloween Countdown-YA Ghost Reads

Vala-Ghost_Writer_300dpiIs there anything better than a ghost story for Halloween? Yes—two ghost stories. One is mine, but first, let me tell you about Vala Kaye’s Ghost Writer.

Tech-savvy teen Malden Montgomery leaves New York City anticipating nothing but boredom when her artist-mother brings her along on a two-week vacation to a family inn in rural Virginia.

What Malden doesn’t expect is the owner’s 17-year-old son, Jackson, who is totally to-die-for cute. But does she dare believe him when he tells her that her room at the inn may be haunted by a young woman named Emily, who died there more than 150 years ago?

Then Emily begins to communicate with Malden and she and Jackson realize they have to find a way to help Emily’s ghost come back home or risk a spirit’s wrath if they choose to leave her lost in the darkness forever.

Vala Kaye – ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vala Kaye

Vala Kaye grew up in Texas as an avid reader of science fiction, romance and history. Her favorite writers ran the gamut from Robert Heinlein to Margaret Mitchell, and included side journeys with Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” and The Hardy Boys mysteries.

After graduating from college with a double major in Communications and History, Vala now lives and writes in warm and sunny southern California. She is addicted to movies, live theater, word games and salsa dancing.

In her first published YA novella, Ghost Writer, Vala explores what happens when the human ‘spirit’ meets computer technology. Vala’s newest title is Artificial Intelligence, book #1 of “The Superhero Next Door” series.

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Get in the mood for Halloween with this fast, fun YA paranormal novella! “Ghost Writer” is now available in print or as an e-book. Check it out at these online retailers: Amazon | B&N.com | KoboiBooks

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The second YA ghost read is mine, Cherish (A YA Ghost Mystery). You can read all about it here: The e-book is free for five days from October 28 through November 1 at Amazon. But, before you do anything, comment below. Maybe you will win Ghost Writer.

Shadows Over Paradise

Emmons-CoverAnne K. Edwards writes mystery (and I love mystery). Her book, Shadows Over Paradise is the story of complicated characters intent on achieving their own ends, some heedless of the cost to others. Action and tension blended with a brooding house set on a volcanic island with soaring cliffs and few modern amenities, along with turbulent emotions offer a perfect catalyst for the storm that is about to break over the Mantuan Islands.

I’d like to quote from a four-star review on Amazon.

“Julia’s been invited to her friend’s wedding on an exotic island but nothing seems to go right in Anne K. Edwards’ Shadows over Paradise. Even the boatman on the way to this island paradise says Julia shouldn’t be there. Still, the location’s great, the people are full of character, and, being a writer, Julia’s sure she’ll build a wonderful mystery novel from the experience. Meanwhile she’s living a mystery of her own.”

There’s quite a bit more to this review, but this is the way it ends — “An exciting ending is filled with fear and adventure plus the saving hands of good timing and true love. While I guessed some of what was going on, I certainly didn’t guess it all, but I might avoid island paradises after this tale.”

Oh, that does sound like a sure-fire read! Love that kind.

Here’s all the necessary information: Available in paperback and e-book formats

Order this book via check or credit card, aStore
~ or visit ~ Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Bamm.com; Indy bookstores.

Anne’s Amazon author page

Goodreads Giveaway

Cherish-FrontI’m running a Goodreads giveaway through October 7, 2014. Cherish (A Ghost Mystery) takes place in current time, and in 1946. (Things like that happen with ghosts, you know.)

Sign up for the giveaway here.

Read the first two chapters here.

It’s the sophomore Local History cemetery visit. Sure, it’s almost Halloween, but Kayla has seen that teen-age ghost for years. Why won’t she leave? When the dreamy senior asks Kayla for a date, she decides to prove to herself that she’s mature and in charge. She’ll tell that ghost to go away. But Kayla shouldn’t have touched the ghost’s cold hand, because that’s when everything changed.

Suddenly, it’s 1946, or is Kayla dreaming? Is she crazy? Why is her name Cherish? Why is her mother at home baking cookies when she should be at work? And, she has a father? Didn’t he die years ago? Why is her best friend Trudy instead of Dani? And the thing in her pocket is not a compact with a bad mirror. DON’T TRY TO OPEN IT!

Text messages do travel across the years, judging from those on her cell phone. But why is Dani mad at her? She isn’t there, is she? It can’t be, but it must. Someone is taking Kayla’s place in the twenty-first century. Who?

Fact: Cherish is ruining her life in two centuries. If Kayla doesn’t find her way home to her own time and her own body, she will die in 1946 with Cherish.

Writes of Passage

Writes of Passage

Writes of Passage

There’s a new book coming out from Henery Press on September 9. It’s a collection of essays from Sisters in Crime members, all designed to portray personal stories of authors from multi-published bestselling to wannabes. The stories span most any experience of a writing journey.  Any writer will find passages of support, laughter, and understanding. Here’s the Amazon page for Writes of Passage. (Should I mention I’m one of the 59 contributors?)

Cherish on Pre-Order

Cherish12-1-2013-Front-400Amazon has a new program, pre-orders on e-books for self-published authors. I couldn’t miss that with my new book. So Cherish is listed here. The e-book will be available on September 10. The paperback page will appear (and be on sale) September 1, 2014.

Here’s the blurb: It’s the sophomore Local History cemetery visit. Sure, it’s almost Halloween, but Kayla has seen that ghost for years. She wants to make the ghost go away, but she shouldn’t have touched her hand, because, That’s When Everything Changed.

Kayla finds herself in 1946 as someone else, someone whose name is on an elaborate tombstone. Is she Cherish, or is Cherish her? Is Cherish taking her place?

Fact: Cherish is ruining her life in two centuries. If Kayla doesn’t find her way home to her own time and her own body, she will die with Cherish in a few days.
Question: Do cell phone texts span the centuries? And, if they do, will Kayla’s friends believe her?