Meet Jennifer Ashley

Miranda Owen: First, let me say that I am such a huge fan. How do you find the time to write so many different varieties of romance books, in addition to your historical mysteries? What is your process like?

Jennifer Ashley: Thanks so much! How do I find the time? The short answer is: It ain’t easy!

The longer answer is: I write every day. I start each morning, at breakfast, writing. I’ve made that a habit for years. So, even if I wake up wanting a day off, by the time I get to my computer with my bagel or toast, my brain turns on and starts creating a story. I can write anywhere from 500 to 2000 words during my breakfast sessions. That’s very helpful. If I can then do a few more writing sessions during the day (I can write 1000-1500 words an hour if I don’t goof off), that becomes a good chunk each day.

In this way, I can write a full novel (100,000 words) in two months. That includes the first rewrite / revision. That’s two months if I’m not interrupted with real life—usually the work stretches to three months until it’s final, final, final.

I plan my schedule six months to a year in advance, so while I’m working on one book, I can be thinking about and making notes on the one I know is next on my plate.

This all sounds more efficient than it is—I get behind, I end up working on edits for one book while trying to write another. It’s a little crazy at times! But overall, that’s how the books get done. Between shorter and longer books, I can write from 6 to 11 books a year.

MO: I adore your Shifters Unbound series. For me, two of the things that really make it stand out from other paranormal romances, are the fabulous heroes (and heroines), and the strong theme of “family” that runs through every book. Are character creation and getting that strong sense of family and place things that you focus on every time you write a story?

JA:When I worked out the Shifter world, I did go for a strong sense of family. Many animals in the wild are very social (lions, wolves), and rely on family for protection, food, and companionship. I wanted that to come through in the books. Incidentally, I was working up the Mackenzie family series at the same time, and I wanted a strong sense of family in that series as well.

I also like strong characters, both male and female. I try to dig deeply into their pasts to figure out what makes them who they are. Again, I developed the Mackenzie family and the Morrissey family around the same time. I spent a lot of time on their backgrounds. When I was ready to write the books (in both series), it was easy to step into their characters.

MO:There is so much discussion in online book groups about “alpha” versus “beta” heroes. Often a fan’s explanation for not liking typically “alpha” characters is because they lump a lot of negative personality traits in with their definition of “alpha hero”. This kind of drives me crazy because I always point out that you can have a strong male hero without having him be a jerk. I always reference your heroes as examples. What do you try and capture with your heroes? Who are some of your favorite heroes – both that you’ve created and those you’ve read?

JA:I realized a long time ago that being strong (or alpha) does not necessarily mean being aggressive or bullying. In fact, what I’ve observed in real life is that very aggressive and bullying people are actually weak—they have to try to beat everyone else down in order to control their own fears. A person who is kind and compassionate can be very strong, because they’re not afraid of other people. My idea of an “alpha” hero is one who is protective and courageous, has a good sense of who he is, loves those he is close to, and will do anything for those he loves. He’s a caring dad, brother, son, mate.

Some favorite heroes I’ve written are: Ian Mackenzie (MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE), Sean Morrissey (PRIMAL BONDS), Tiger (TIGER MAGIC), Zander (the forthcoming GUARDIAN’S MATE), Malcolm Mackenzie (STOLEN MACKENZIE BRIDE), Egan MacDonald (HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER), Mick Burns (Stormwalker series), and Captain Gabriel Lacey (Capt. Lacey Regency Mysteries).

Favorite heroes I’ve read: Everyone’s favorite Jamie Fraser (he proves you don’t have to be bullying and cruel to be a great and strong hero); Lord Michael Kenyon (SHATTERED RAINBOWS by Mary Jo Putney)—well, most heroes by Mary Jo Putney. Robert Grey from Joanna Bourne’s SPYMASTER’S LADY.

MO: Favorite heroines – both that you’ve created and read?

JA: From my own books: Ainsley Douglas (THE MANY SINS OF LORD CAMERON); Rae Lyall (from the forthcoming GUARDIAN’S MATE); Janet Begay (Stormwalker series); Bertie Frasier (RULES FOR A PROPER GOVERNESS); Kat Holloway from the Kat Holloway mysteries (SOUPCON OF POISON).

From authors not me: Phryne Fisher (Phryne Fisher mysteries); Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs’ series); Zoe from FIREFLY; Mma Ramotswe (THE NUMBER ONE LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY SERIES). Elizabeth Hoyt writes some great heroines as well.

White Tiger

MO: In your latest Shifters Unbound release, WHITE TIGER, a few of the main characters are children or cubs. You write such great child characters. I look forward to one reading a story about Connor and, when he grows up, possibly Olaf. Are children more difficult to write?

JA: I find it fairly easy to write children—that is to say, they’re as easy or difficult as adults. I try to approach writing kids as I would any character, thinking about their individual personalities, backgrounds, needs, fears. I’m lucky I remember very clearly what I thought when I was a child. Or maybe I just haven’t grown up yet!

I am often asked if I’ll write Connor’s book (I will), and that of other cubs in the series. Probably. I many characters in Shifters Unbound, which means many more books. :-)

MO: In WHITE TIGER, with the ranch and everything else, I felt like the story had a little “wild west” flavor. Is that something you were going for?

JA: I live in the west (have for most of my life), so to me, it felt normal, LOL. I did like taking the Shifters out of Shiftertown and having things a little more wild, a little more uncertain. So yes, I was going for that kind of a feel.

MO: One thing I really enjoyed about WHITE TIGER, as well as the previous book, WILD THINGS is that you took the shifters out of their element – out of shifter towns – and at times out of their home state. Were you looking to shake things up, or did that just fit the stories?

JA: In WILD THINGS, I took some of the action to New Orleans because the heroine in Lion Eyes had come from NOLA, and I mentioned there was a Shiftertown there (or close to the city). I thought it would be cool to explore that area, which I will probably come back to. I already knew Zander was going to be from Alaska, so a trip there for our hero and heroine was necessary.

In WHITE TIGER, I liked postulating what life would be like for Shifters who wanted nothing to do with Shiftertowns. They’d have to find a place to hide, to raise their families, to live. I wanted to explore the difficulty of that, and talk about what the Shiftertown Shifters gave up in order to survive.

It’s also nice to not be bound by the setting of Shiftertown. I like to show that the Shifters are more free than laws and restrictions in their world make it seem.

MO: In WILD THINGS you had a psychic and a haunted house. Can you see yourself writing a book or series of the spooky variety with things like ghosts and psychic phenomena?

JA: I had a blast writing Jasmine’s haunted house! To me, houses have personalities—I can feel that when I walk into one. Does it have good vibes? Or creepy ones? I took that idea and ran with it for Jasmine’s house. I’ll come back to it.

I’m not sure if I’d ever write a ghost series, though I never say never, and if I could put a weird twist on it, who knows what I’d come up with?

MO: Whenever I start a new mystery series, one of the things I like to know is whether or not there is a dash of romance in the series, or whether it’s a straight mystery series. Mixing mystery and romance in a series isn’t necessary for me in order to enjoy it, but I like knowing. Having never read either your Captain Lacey or Kat Holloway historical mystery series – is there any romance in either of them?

JA: The Captain Lacey series does have a romantic arc. It’s not obvious in book 1 (HANOVER SQUARE AFFAIR), but that’s because Lacey doesn’t meet his heroine-to-be until book 2 (A REGIMENTAL MURDER). Lacey can’t stand her at first, but as the series grows, the two characters begin to better relate each other. Lady B. turns out to be very good for him. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the romance deepens with each book.

The Kat Holloway mysteries will have a romantic arc, which I think is clear from the introductory story (A SOUPCON OF POISON). Kat and Daniel McAdam have sparks right away, and the romance will develop from book to book.

In each mystery series, the romance is woven in with the main story, with the relationship moving a little further each time. I love writing romance this way—it feels very natural to me.

MO: I was so excited when you broke into contemporary romance with your Riding Hard series. Why cowboys?

JA: I love cowboys! As I say, I more or less grew up in the west (Texas, Arizona, Nevada). I live in the west now, have for many years. My husband’s family is from Texas (they take up entire central part), so I’m very familiar with Texas Hill Country and Austin. I rode horses quite a lot when I was younger and loved it, and happy I could put that experience to good use.

I’d been wanted to write Westerns for a while—I have to credit author Cheyenne McCray for making me get off my butt and do it!

MO: Did you always plan on writing books about the Malory family when you centered this Riding Hard series around the Campbell family, or did something about the characters intrigue you as you wrote about them?

JA: When I first started Riding Hard, I planned to write five books, one for each brother of the Campbell family, oldest to youngest. But when Kyle and Ray Malory walked in, I realized I had two more hot guys on my hands with stories to tell. So the series expanded to seven. Kyle’s and Ray’s books will be the final two.

MO: I love paranormal historical romance and I really love your Nvengaria series. Can you describe for readers who may be new to the series what the logosh are? How do the lifespans of the logosh compare with humans?

JA: Thanks! The logosh I conceived of as shape-shifters who can take the form of animals, humans, or kind of demonlike creatures. They aren’t actually demons; they are supernatural beings who evolved in the mountains of Nvengaria (where a lot of magic floats around)—Nvengaria is a country in the Balkans, tucked between Moldavia and Transylvania. Logosh live longer than humans, but not as long as the Shifters in Shifters Unbound (who live 300-400 years). The logosh were among the first “shifters” I wrote—they aren’t based on anything but my crazy imagination.

MO: I’m thrilled that you will be coming out with a revised and expanded version of the story THE LONGEST NIGHT because it was always a favorite for me. Do you have a rough idea of when it will be released?

JA: The Longest Night is the story of a logosh who can become a wolf (and human) and a Scottish woman (sister of the hero of Highlander Ever After). When I first wrote it, I had a word count restriction, because it was published in an anthology with three other writers. I remember going through and cutting, cutting, cutting! Self-publishing has given me the chance to put things back in!

I wish I had a good idea of when the book will be out. I’m going through all four books in that series, having them re-edited and proofread. I’ve gone through all of Penelope and part of Mad Bad Duke—Highlander and Longest Night are still waiting. I plan to republish them once they are all finished. I have so many other new books to write, though, that they get pushed aside, sadly. But I’m working on it! I hope to have them back out this year, or at latest, early next year.

MO: What are you currently working on? Any Mackenzie or Riding Hard teasers?

JA: I am working on: Next Captain Lacey novel (ALEXANDRIA AFFAIR); a Shifter book that will be out in 2017; the next Kat Holloway mystery; an Immortals series novella (FORBIDDEN TASTE) that will release in a multi-author boxed set in October; a contemporary Christmas novella (which will be remotely tied to Riding Hard) for another multi-author boxed set. (Whew)

After that, I will work on more Riding Hard—I am hoping to write Tyler’s and Ross’s books close together and release them one month or so apart. I will also be working on the next Mackenzie (Alec Mackenzie, brother to Malcolm from Stolen Mackenzie Bride). Not sure when these books will be out—possibly late this year.

And of course, I’ll be rereleasing the Nvengaria series.

I don’t have a set publication schedule yet for the rest of 2016 (except the next Captain Lacey book on May 17; and the next Shifter (GUARDIAN’S MATE), first week of September. I’m actually going to take a vacation in between!

About Jennifer Ashley

Jennifer Ashley

Jennifer Ashley has lived and traveled all over Europe and Asia, once sailing from San Francisco to Japan in a cargo ship. She has now settled with her husband and cat in the sunny southwest to work hard on her next books and drink gallons of gourmet iced tea.

Her books have won the Golden Quill and RT Reviewers Choice awards and RWA’s RITA award.

Immortals | Shifters Unbound | Highland Pleasures | Riding Hard | Nvengaria

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Meet Amy Sue Nathan

Things are a little rough for Izzy Lane. Still reeling from the break-up of her marriage, the newly single mom moves back to the Philadelphia home she grew up in, five-year-old Noah in tow. The transition is difficult, but with the help of her best friends—and her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Feldman—Izzy feels like she’s stepping closer to her new normal. Until her ex-husband shows up with his girlfriend. That’s when Izzy invents a boyfriend of her own. And that’s when life gets complicated.

Blogging about her “new guy” provides Izzy with something to do when Noah’s asleep. What’s the harm in a few made-up stories? Then, her blog soars in popularity and she’s given the opportunity to moonlight as an online dating expert. How can she turn it down? But when her friends want to meet the mysterious “Mac,” someone online suspects Izzy’s a fraud, and a guy in-real-life catches her eye, Izzy realizes just how high the stakes are. That’s when Mrs. Feldman steps in, determined to show her neighbor the havoc that lies can wreak. If Izzy’s honest, she could lose everything, and everyone. Is the truth worth any cost?

Writing a Woman’s Life columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough catches up with Nathan to ask about what gets her going, what she loves best and what she hopes readers will take away from her whimsical yet wise novel.

How do you get started writing a novel? What was the inspiration for this one?

My novels, stories, and essays always start with one sentence that pops into my head, captures my attention, and demands that I write it down. The story usually is there, somewhat fully formed shortly thereafter. With The Good Neighbor, it was the first line in the book: “The doorbell rang an I knew it was my ex, just like when my lip tingled and I knew it was a cold sore” that came to me. I knew about Izzy Lane from that one line. For a long time, I’d had the write about the way we sometimes portray ourselves online. I also wanted to explore the how’s and why’s of lying in real life and online. I’d been blogging since 2006 made it meaningful to make Izzy a blogger. The difference between me and Izzy is that while we were both anonymous bloggers (I blogged anonymous for two years) I did it to tell the truth and Izzy does it so that she can fib her way through some of what’s going on in her life.

What was your favorite scene to write? How about your least favorite?

My favorite scene to write happens near the end of the book when Izzy has a bit of a panic attack and an out-of-body experience. That sounds awful doesn’t it? It meant so much to me to get it right, that feeling when everything is swirling around, when you’re acutely aware of your own body, when sounds muffle, and you feel woozy, but you keep going. It has happened to me in real life just once or twice and I knew it needed to happen to Izzy.

I guess my least favorite scene to write was one that I’m the most glad I’d written — because it always makes me cry, and that isn’t always practical. Many readers have commented that they’ve been touched by the scene as well — and it’s when one of Izzy’s friends gets a letter.

In her on-line presence, Izzy tries to make her life sound better than it really is; do you think this is a common phenomenon?

Absolutely. Although the no-make-up, real-me, honest-life movement is strong, there are still plenty of perfect poses, happy faces, fabulous vacations, and smiling families online. Not that it’s all fake, but there’s just more to life than that. So many people forget that online isn’t all-inclusive and it can often makes people question themselves as to why they’re not as happy and peppy as everyone else. It’s important to remember that we all have things we’re not sharing online.

Can you talk about the role played by Izzy’s friends, especially Mrs. Feldman? Do you think that in today’s world, friends are more apt to function as surrogate families?

We live in a world where families of birth aren’t always close by, so I think as a global society we’ve taken on the task of building families wherever we go. You know the saying, you can pick your nose and you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. :) As lives become more hassled, harried, and complex, we seem moved to go back to basics. Even on social media we form small groups based on similar likes and values, we reach through the internet for answers and support. Away from the computer people also form friendships that function as families. I will say though that Izzy relies heavily on her brother Ethan and one of her best friends is her cousin, Rachel. Unlike me, Izzy lives near her family so I really enjoying writing these relationships for her.

What do you hope readers will take away from Izzy’s story?

The most important part of the story to me is that Izzy saves herself. She has help getting there, but she has to leave her comfort zone, let go of the past, and tread into unknown territory on her own before she can be happy with herself — and that’s when good things really start to happen. (Just like in real life!)

About THE GOOD NEIGHBOR

The Good Neighbor

Izzy Lane never thought of herself as a liar. In fact, she’s always played by the rules. She’s an excellent mother, has loyal friends, and a rich career as a school counselor. Fresh from a new divorce, however, Izzy feels like she needs a little fun. So when, on a whim, she starts a blog it seems like a rather benign indulgence. But as her online quips begin to gain traction, Izzy makes a slip. Somehow a new boyfriend winds his way into the picture. The problem? Izzy makes him up.

What, at first, feels like a harmless fib quickly spins out of control and Izzy must figure out how to balance fantasy and reality. Keeping up appearances while managing an absent ex-husband, two very nosy friends, a toddler son, and full-time job soon prove impossible, and Izzy feels utterly lost. It’s only when her long-time neighbor and surrogate mother, Mrs. Feldman, re-enters her life that Izzy begins to see the mess she’s made. And it’s with Mrs. Feldman’s guidance that Izzy learns to face reality, find comfort in new norms, and open herself up to the possibility of real love.

Buy THE GOOD NEIGHBOR: Amazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Amy Sue Nathan

Amy Sue Nathan

AMY SUE NATHAN lives and writes near Chicago where she hosts the award-winning Women’s Fiction Writers blog. She has been published in Chicago Tribune, Writer’s Digest, the New York Times and Washington Post online, andHuffington Post, among many others. Amy has two grown children and is busy writing her next novel.

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About THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND

The House on Primrose Pond

A compelling novel about one woman’s search for the truth from the author of YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME.

After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire.

While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.

Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper…

Buy THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound

About Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis McDonoughYona Zeldis McDonough is the author of six novels; her seventh, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND, will be out from New American Library in February, 2016. In addition, she is the editor of the essay collections The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty and All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader. Her short fiction, articles and essays have been published in anthologies as well as in numerous national magazines and newspapers. She is also the award-winning author of twenty-six books for children, including the highly acclaimed chapter books, The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the Doll Shop. Yona lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children and two noisy Pomeranians.

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Cozy Corner: I Checked Out A Fatal Chapter, Ripped From the Pages

The various story-lines of cozy mysteries never get old for me. Carving, cooking, knitting, sewing, surfing, travel, witches. What’s not to like? But my favorite theme has always been a story within the story. The mysteries wrapped around an author’s words and bound together in one beautiful package. The month of June promises to fulfill my late night reading binges with new who-dun-its from some of the best in the business: Elaine Viets, Lorna Barrett, and Kate Carlisle.

Add them to your to-be-read file, they’re the perfect addition to every cozy mystery library.

CHECKED OUTA Dead-End Job Mystery By Elaine Viets

Checked Out

When book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright temporarily relocates to her parents’ place in Northern California, she finds that wooden barrels aren’t the only things buried in the wine caves of Sonoma….

Excited to explore the secrets of wine country, Brooklyn attends an excavation of the caves hidden deep under her parents’ commune—and the findings are explosive. A room is unearthed, and it contains a treasure trove of artwork, rare books, a chest of jewelry…and a perfectly mummified body.

A closer examination of the murdered man’s possessions reveals a valuable first edition of Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hidden in the book is a secret map that unveils an even greater hoard of treasures brought to California by French winemakers fleeing the Nazi invasion with the commune leader’s grandfather, Anton, among them.

As reporters and art appraisers flock to Sonoma to see the precious bounty, questions begin to rise—did Anton hide these items to protect them, or did he steal them for himself? Who is the mysterious man left for dead inside the cave? But not all crime is buried in the past. When a new presence threatens the town’s peace, Brooklyn decides to do a little excavating of her own and solve the mystery of the treasure before anyone else is written off.…

Buy CHECKED OUT: Amazon.com | Kindle
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A FATAL CHAPTER by Lorna Barrett

A Fatal Chapter

New York Times bestselling author Lorna Barrett presents another page-turning chapter in her Booktown Mystery series as mystery bookshop owner Tricia Miles finds out that murder is no walk in the park…

While out walking Sarge, her sister’s bichon frise, bookshop owner Tricia Miles is led by the agitated dog to a man lying in a gazebo. She’s startled when she recognizes Pete Renquist, the president of the Stoneham Historical Society, who appears to be suffering from cardiac arrest. When Pete later dies at the hospital, the discovery of a suspicious bruise and a puncture mark on his arm suggests he may have been murdered.

Haunted by Pete’s enigmatic last words to her, Tricia begins to consider who had a motive to kill her friend. Did Pete take his flirting too far, only to have a jealous husband teach him a lesson? Or did he discover something in the town’s historical records that his killer wanted kept secret? Tricia is determined to get to the bottom of things before someone else becomes history…

Buy A FATAL CHAPTER: Amazon.com | Kindle
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RIPPED FROM THE PAGES A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle

Ripped From the Pages

When book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright temporarily relocates to her parents’ place in Northern California, she finds that wooden barrels aren’t the only things buried in the wine caves of Sonoma….

Excited to explore the secrets of wine country, Brooklyn attends an excavation of the caves hidden deep under her parents’ commune—and the findings are explosive. A room is unearthed, and it contains a treasure trove of artwork, rare books, a chest of jewelry…and a perfectly mummified body.

A closer examination of the murdered man’s possessions reveals a valuable first edition of Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hidden in the book is a secret map that unveils an even greater hoard of treasures brought to California by French winemakers fleeing the Nazi invasion with the commune leader’s grandfather, Anton, among them.

As reporters and art appraisers flock to Sonoma to see the precious bounty, questions begin to rise—did Anton hide these items to protect them, or did he steal them for himself? Who is the mysterious man left for dead inside the cave? But not all crime is buried in the past. When a new presence threatens the town’s peace, Brooklyn decides to do a little excavating of her own and solve the mystery of the treasure before anyone else is written off.…

Buy RIPPED FROM THE PAGES: Amazon.com | Kindle
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Until next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web at kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Author of DEAD MAN’S CARVE, A Tickled to Death Mystery and DEAD ON ARRIVAL, A Malia Fern Mystery.

Jane Austen Lives! Thanks to Darcie Wilde

A USEFUL WOMAN, A Rosalind Thorne Mystery by Darcie Wilde, the title caught my attention immediately—I had to swallow the affront that stuck in my throat. The audacity to say a woman is ‘useful.” The cover image of a historical era ballroom, however, explains the slight toward the female sex—the nineteenth century did not belong to us. And the author’s name, Darcie Wilde, immediately brought a smile to my face as I thought of a famous Mr. Darcy created by Jane Austen.

Could there be a connection? Yes, ma’am. Darcie Wilde, or Sarah Zettel to those of us in the cozy world, has created a brilliant new series that embraces not only a historical mystery, but the style and romance of a Jane Austen novel. I absolutely loved this book and cannot imagine a better title.

I also had to interview the very useful woman who wrote this impressive new mystery. :-)

Kym: Hi Sarah! Welcome to the Cozy Corner!

Sarah: Thanks so much for inviting me! I’m really excited to be here.

Kym: I love your new pseudonym, Darcie Wilde. Can you tell our readers how it came to be?

Sarah: It started out as a pseudonym for some new historical romances I was writing (Lord of the Rakes, An Accidental Abduction). Since I love a touch of humor and the satirical in my writing I decided to attach myself to the family of Oscar Wilde (I’m sure Oscar wouldn’t mine), and the Darcie, is a nod to Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy.

Kym: You have a fascinating new release A USEFUL WOMAN, A Rosalind Thorne Mystery, that I absolutely loved! How would you describe Rosalind’s life and her skills at sleuthing?

Sarah: Rosalind is, as the phrase of the time went “in reduced circumstances.” She makes a kind of livelihood for herself organizing the lives and events for wealthy women who either aren’t as good at it, or who don’t want the bother. As a result, she’s in and out of everybody’s houses, knows all the people who make things actually happen and how the social world of London really functions, so when something goes very wrong, she knows how to track it to its source.

Kym: This series is set in nineteenth century London. What drew you to that time period.

Sarah: I am a fan of Jane Austen, of course, and I admit I love Regency Romances, especially the great Georgette Heyer, and, as I’ve said I write Regencies myself. All this led me to do a lot of research on the time period, which in turn led me to the phenomenon of “silver fork novels,” which were a genre that got really popular around 1825. I started reading them, and found them a gold mine of cool ideas that were just waiting to be turned into novels.

Kym: I really enjoyed how you gave hints to the mystery, but kept Rosalind’s suspicions close to her chest. The reader unravels your heroine’s life as the mystery is revealed. Was this something you did on purpose, or was it just the way Rosalind developed on the page.

Sarah: A bit of both. I don’t draft, per se, I pile and I layer. I really wanted the internal and external conflicts to run close together from the beginning, so as I was working out the external plots and motivations, I was able to go back in and layer more internal detail and motivation, and then rearrange everything to make sure that the pacing and the revelations (hopefully) flowed well together.

Kym: In A Useful Woman, Rosalind is trapped between the fairy tale romance she’s always dreamed of, and a real romance with a very deserving man below her station. Do you see her choosing between the two, or do you see fate choosing for her?

Sarah: That would be telling.

Kym: LOL, you can’t blame me for trying;) At the end of A USEFUL WOMAN, you hint toward Rosalind’s next mystery. Can you divulge a bit more?

Sarah: Actually, I just finished it. A PURELY PRIVATE MATTER is pulled from a famous-in-its-time “criminal conversation” case involving the poet, Caroline Norton. We get money, revenge, privilege, blackmail and a look at the inner workings of the 19th century coroner’s court…

Kym: I fell in love with your writing with the releases of TASTE OF THE NIGHTLIFE and LET THEM EAT STAKE, A Vampire Chef Mystery Series. And I admit, I adored Anatole, he was what I would currently describe as a Russian version of the television character, Lucifer. Is that how you pictured him when you wrote him?

Sarah: Ah, Anatole. When he was human, he was an oprichnik, one of Tsar Ivan the Terrible’s secret police, and may be the only guy who mellowed out and left behind a lower body count after he was turned. Now he only has to be a monster when he chooses.

Kym: I was heartbroken when a third book didn’t follow and I’m not the only fan who has begged for more. On your website, you’ve hinted that there might be plans to revisit Charlotte Caine and New York’s undead community, can you tell us if they will be coming back to life in a third release?

Sarah: I will spare you the whole, “baseball insider” version of the situation, but some unforeseen and difficult circumstances surround the rights to the Vampire Chef books that have not been able to be worked out. I have tried all the avenues I can find, but unfortunately there’s been no luck. This is not the fault of the great folks at PRH, or my fantastic editor, Jess Wade, it is just one of those unfortunate kinks in the sometimes complicated game of publishing. I am still looking for a way to make it happen, but I’m afraid that unless something new opens up, it will not be for awhile.

Kym: This is the perfect example of contracts taking a bite out of a great series, but I understand the complicated details. We will keep our fingers crossed! I’m glad you have so many other great series for readers to turn to, like your YA Historical series, Palace of Spies, set in King George I’s court. Please tell our readers more about the series.

Sarah: Palace of Spies is the adventures of Peggy Fitzroy, who when the book opens is a penniless orphan about to be forced into a loveless marriage. She goes from there to meeting a pair of mysterious gentlemen (who probably aren’t gentlemen) to impersonating a maid of honor at court, to ending up on the track of a secret letter that might (or might not) change the fate of the United Kingdoms…oh, I had fun with these.

Kym: I love the premise for your American Fairy series, a bi-racial young woman who also happens to be half-fae set during the dustbowl in early 1900s America. What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this series?

Sarah: Reality. No, seriously. Every time I thought I had the plot sorted out, I’d turn up some new bit of historical research that made me have to tear it apart and do it over. The biggest one came when I was researching Kansas City in the first book. Now, I make heavy use of jazz in the books, and the fae absolutely love the music and tend to kidnap or co-opt the musicians. And I found out (and I swear to Heaven above I am not making this up), that in the Thirties in Kansas City, one of the most sought after gigs for a jazz musician was an outdoor amusement park called…wait for it…Fairyland. Had to rewrite the entire last quarter of the book, because you do not let something like that slide.

Kym: Having lived in Kansas City for decades—I’m ashamed I didn’t know that! I’ll definitely have to revisit the Jazz Hall of Fame at 18th and Vine;) Which do you find more difficult to write, American Historicals, English Historicals, or the combination with paranormal elements?

Sarah: Every book presents a unique challenge. There’s a truism that you don’t learn how to write books, you learn how to write this book, and you learn to write it as you go. I will say that the first job of a writer, whether you’re working in reality or next door to reality, is to create worlds that are consistent, thought through and rich, both internally and externally. That remains the same whatever the genre.

Kym: Can you tell our readers where they can find you on social media?

Sarah: Darcie Wilde is on Facebook, and Twitter (@Darcie_Wilde) and has a website . Sarah Zettel is also on FB and Twitter (@sarah_zettel) and her website is here. And, if anybody out there is a reader of paranormal cat cozies, they might check out A FAMILIAR TAIL by Delia James

Kym: Thank you for joining us at the Cozy Corner!

Sarah: Thank you so much for inviting me! This has been a lot of fun.

Until next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym
Roberts
, author of DEAD
MAN’S CARVE
, A Tickled to Death Mystery, DEAD ON ARRIVAL, A Malia
Fern Mystery, and DEAD RIGHT THERE, A Malia Fern Mystery—Coming 2016, is a
retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every
book she reads and writes.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

About A USEFUL WOMAN

A Useful Woman

Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this new mystery
series set in 19th-century London introduces the charming
and resourceful Rosalind Thorne, a woman privy to the
secrets of high society—including who among the ton
is capable of murder…

The daughter of a baronet and minor heiress, Rosalind Thorne
was nearly ruined after her father abandoned the family. To
survive in the only world she knew, she began to manage the
affairs of some of London society’s most influential women,
who have come to rely on her wit and discretion.

So, when artistocratic wastrel Jasper Aimesworth is found
dead in London’s most exclusive ballroom, Almack’s, Rosalind
must use her skills and connections to uncover the killer
from a list of suspects that includes Almack’s powerful
patronesses and her former suitor Devon Winterbourne, now
Lord Casselmaine.

Torn between her old love and a growing attraction to a
compelling Bow Street runner, Rosalind must not only unravel
the mysteries surrounding Jasper’s death, but the mysteries
of her own heart as well…

Buy A USEFUL WOMAN: Amazon.com | Kindle
| BN.com | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Darcie Wilde

Darcie Wilde

A longtime resident of the Great Lakes State, Darcie Wilde writes her sizzling-hot romances in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When not actually writing, she lives out her own happily-ever-afters with her husband of fifteen years, one rapidly growing son, one cat, and one writer’s group of infinite patience.

Rosalind Thorne | Regency Makeover

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

Meet Brooklyn Ann

Love a good vampire historical? Or a great vampire contemporary? You’re not alone and our reviewer Miranda Owen had a chance to chat with Brooklyn Ann, author of Scandals With Bite series and Brides of Prophecy series.

Other romance authors have said that writing a love scene is very technical and it is not the same experience for them than it is for the reader. Do you find that to be true?

Technical wouldn’t be the word I’d use, though there is often a lot of pressure to get it right, to avoid cliches, purple prose, and to try not to be corny or crude when it comes to the naming of parts. I personally refuse to compare sexual organs with fruit or flowers.

However, sometimes my love scenes literally pour out of my fingers out of nowhere and I’m sitting there reading the screen, blushing and saying, “Oh my goodness, you guys!” To my characters.

Since you write a few different types of romance – contemporary, historical, paranormal, etc. – what is your favorite type of book to read? What do you enjoy most about each sub-genre you write in?

I love to read all genres, though my favorites to read are Historical, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Horror.

When I write historical, my favorite aspect is that it’s like stepping into another world with different rules and parameters. I also love researching customs and events from the past and working them into a real story.

I love paranormal because I get to create my own world with its own rules. Also since I set my Brides of Prophecy series in my hometown, it’s extra fun to turn my stomping grounds into a character of its own.

I am new to writing contemporary but I’ve discovered that what I love most about it is tackling current issues men and women face and how it helps or impedes modern courtship.

Gavin Drake, Baron of Darkwood – the hero in HIS RUTHLESS BITE – was a supporting character in your previous book, and the hero in BITE AT FIRST SIGHT was a supporting character in the book before that. Do you plan, at the start of a series, which character will have his own book, or does something about a particular supporting character stir your imagination as you write?

Since I originally had a 3 book contract for my Scandals With Bite series, Rafe (BITE AT FIRST SIGHT) was intended to get his own book right from the start. However, Gavin popped into BITE AT FIRST SIGHT out of nowhere and I leaned back in surprise saying, “Oh wow, this guy is totally getting a book.”

And HIS RUTHLESS BITE was supposed to be my last historical paranormal novel, but then it happened again. Another character popped in, not only demanding his own book, but inspiring a new spin-off series, so be sure to stay tuned for more on that. 😀

I love paranormal historical romance and a good gothic romance and your Scandals With Bite series has all of those elements. What is it about these types of stories that you enjoy writing about?

My first venture into the paranormal was with Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles. I immediately fell in love with the rich detailed history with a supernatural twist. And later I fell in love with regency romance and eventually decided to place vampires in that world. So not only do my characters have to navigate the tedious social strictures of the day, they also have their own supernatural rules to abide by.

Every author’s vampire mythology differs in some way – what is the vampire 101 in your Scandals With Bite series?

  1. My vampires are NOT animated corpses. They have a preternatural mutation, so they’re perfectly alive. They have heartbeats and can even eat and drink minimal amounts.
  2. My vampires cannot go out in the sunlight and can be killed by major heart damage or decapitation. They’re also sterile, so they can do the deed, but they can’t have babies.
  3. Their governing system is a cross between Feudalism and Bureaucracy. All vampires are ruled by a Lord of a specific territory and forbidden to enter another territory without written permission. Rogue vampires are exiles who do not have a lord or home. They are often hunted and killed off, though sometimes they may petition a Lord vampire to become one of his people.

In HIS RUTHLESS BITE, one of the characters is a mesmerist – what made you use that in the story? Were you inspired by a historical figure?

My editor enjoyed my use of historical figures so much in BITE ME, YOUR GRACE, that she made it a caveat for the entire series.

Personally I was more focused on the themes of each book. BITE ME, YOUR GRACE focuses on literature, ONE BITE PER NIGHT focused on art, BITE AT FIRST SIGHT focused on medical practices of the 19th century and HIS RUTHLESS BITE’s theme is psychology… which was in its infancy back then.

Mesmerists such as Dr. John Elliotson could be considered one of the forefathers of modern hypnotherapy. And since vampires mesmerize people on a regular basis, it was a perfect match for this story.

What are you currently working on? Do you have an ending point in mind for your Scandals With Bite series, or will you continue with it as long as you find stories to tell?

I’m currently working on the 4th book in my Brides of Prophecy series, which should release in the late summer or early fall.

As for “Scandals With Bite,” I have a feeling that series isn’t over, but for now I’m looking to start a spin-off series set in the same time and world.

Is there a heroine you created that is similar to yourself? How long have you been writing for?

I have a bit in common with all of them. I used to be a mechanic like Akasha in WRENCHING FATE, I love to sing and talk to cats like Xochitl in CONJURING DESTINY, I’m one of the guys and a metalhead like Kinley in KISSING VICIOUS, I’m a writer and a feminist like Angelica in BITE ME, YOUR GRACE, a painter like Lydia in ONE BITE PER NIGHT, and a nerd like Cassandra in BITE AT FIRST SIGHT.

Lenore (HIS RUTHLESS BITE) is probably more different than myself over all the heroines I’ve written so far. However, one major thing I have in common with her is that we both suffer from PTSD and experience the same symptoms.

I’ve been writing all my life, but I only got serious about it back in 2009 after my mother passed away and I’d been sitting on 2 complete manuscripts and countless files of partial books and story notes.

Why vampires instead of werewolves, or some other type of magical being? Do you prefer vamps?

Okay, first a disclaimer: I LOVE reading werewolf books. Carrie Vaughn, Terry Spear, Trina M. Lee, and Patricia Briggs are highly recommended.

However, werewolves just aren’t logical in my fictional universe, where magic is molecular manipulation and has little to do with lunar cycles. I suppose some of my more powerful sorcerers could use magic to shapeshift, but the classic werewolf just doesn’t work in my world. Also, for some reason I keep thinking that werewolves would smell like wet dog.

I DO have other magical beings in my books. If you check out my Brides of Prophecy series, you’ll meet mutants, psychics, sorcerers, luminites, and Faelin… as well as my vamps.

About Brooklyn Ann

Brooklyn Ann

A lover of witty Regencies and dark paranormal romance, Brooklyn Ann combines the two in her new vampire series. The former mechanic turned author lives with her family in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho.

Scandals With Bite | Brides of Prophecy

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php

FB fan group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/663937110417257/

Blog: http://brooklynann.blogspot.com

Yona Interviews Susan Shapiro

Is it dangerous to search for an old flame you never got over? What if you find him—and he doesn’t remember you? In her captivating new novel, Susan Shapiro—memoirist, novelist, humorist and writing teacher extraordinaire—explores the perils of revisiting the passion of yesteryear. Lila Penn leaves Wisconsin for graduate school in the big city, where she falls for her professor Daniel Wildman. Decades after their tangled link, she arranges a tête-à-tête in downtown Manhattan. But the shocking encounter blindsides Lila, causing her to question her memory as well as her sanity. Shuttling between Greenwich Village and Tel Aviv, the saga unravels the sexual secret that’s haunted Daniel and Lila for thirty years. Writing a Woman’s life columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough catches up with Shapiro to get the skinny on this hilarious yet piercing novel.

Q: How long did it take you to complete?

A: From start to publication six years. But I worked on a few projects in between.

Q: Are there autobiographical elements in this novel?

A: Yes part of it is very autobiographical. But the real story wasn’t ultimately very dramatic. So I wound up embellishing and dramatizing it a lot to make more page-turning as a novel.

Q: Can you talk about the role that humor plays?

A: I think everything I write has my fast dark sense of humor. A book reviewer who was critiquing my first novel said something like, “her dialogue sounds like Aaron Sorkin’s walk-and-talks.” Even though they meant to be insulting, I was very flattered and used it as a blurb.

Q: The dramas and rivalries of creative writing programs are given a lot of play; can you say more about this?

A: They say academia is so cut throat because there’s so little at stake. And what happens if you put a bunch of ambitious writers in the same academic program for two years or more? You’re bound to get several chronicles.

Q: What’s the real heart of this story for you?

A: I was forty when a midlife crisis inspired seeking out former boyfriends for my memoir FIVE MEN WHO BROKE MY HEART. That was a (hopefully) humorous take. A decade later, WHAT’S NEVER SAID explores the darker side of revisiting a romance from your past. It’s also about marriage and the road not taken. I’ve been in love with my husband for twenty years so that’s a topic that fascinates me.

Q: What’s next on your horizon?

A: Now I’m working on another memoir. Nonfiction is so much easier for me! Fiction kills me.

About Susan Shapiro

Susan Shapiro

Susan Shapiro, a Manhattan journalism professor, has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Newsweek, Salon.com, Daily Beast, The Forward, Village Voice, People, More, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan.

Sue lives with her husband, a TV/film writer, in Greenwich Village, where she teaches her own “instant gratification takes too long” writing method at the New School, NYU and in private workshops and seminars.

WEBSITE | TWITTER

About WHAT’S NEVER SAID

What's Never Said

It’s dangerous to search for an old flame you never got over. What if you find him—and he doesn’t remember you? In her captivating new novel, Susan Shapiro explores the perils of revisiting past passion.

Lila Penn leaves Wisconsin for graduate school in the big city, where she falls for her professor Daniel Wildman. Decades after their tangled link, she arranges a tête-à-tête in downtown Manhattan. But the shocking encounter blindsides Lila, causing her to question her memory—and sanity.

Switching between Greenwich Village and Tel Aviv, the saga unravels the sexual secret that’s haunted Daniel and Lila for thirty years.

Buy WHAT’S NEVER SAID: Amazon.com | Kindle
|
BN.com
| Kobo |
Powell’s Books
| Books-A-Million |
Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND

The House on Primrose Pond

A compelling novel about one woman’s search for the truth from the author of YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME.

After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire.

While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.

Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper…

Buy THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis McDonoughYona Zeldis McDonough is the author of six novels; her seventh, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND, will be out from New American Library in February, 2016. In addition, she is the editor of the essay collections The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty and All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader. Her short fiction, articles and essays have been published in anthologies as well as in numerous national magazines and newspapers. She is also the award-winning author of twenty-six books for children, including the highly acclaimed chapter books, The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the Doll Shop. Yona lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children and two noisy Pomeranians.

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST

Kym Roberts | Bite into a Cozy

What’s in a name?

Everything when it comes to a cozy mystery. It must be witty, eye-catching, combine a hint about the series and the individual crime all in a couple quirky words. The author must turn a phrase, or twist it or just toss it out there and see if the readers catch the pun.

Of course we do—we always do. That’s why we read cozies. They snare our attention with that little wiggle at the end of the line. The one you can’t resist even if the pond is full of bigger fish with names that make your eyes pop. The cozy author has given you a taste. A tease. A temptation you can’t resist.

The new April releases are just so—titles you can’t pass up. Titles that made you go, “hmmm.” So what’s on your menu for tomorrow?

About REST IN PEACH by Susan Furlong

Rest in Peach

In the refreshing new Georgia Peach Mystery from the author of Peaches and Scream, an upcoming debutante ball turns into the pits when a juicy murder scandalizes a small town.

The annual Peach Cotillion, Cays Mill, Georgia’s biggest event, is fast approaching and Nola Mae Harper is just as excited as the rest of the town—even though she’s busy juggling both the cotillion dinner and the grand opening of her new shop, Peachy Keen. But she never expected that plans for the cotillion would end up in the pits because of the cutthroat competition between local debutantes.

When Vivien Crenshaw, insufferable church organist and despised mother of the town’s spoiled-rotten Peach Queen, is stabbed to death, the police turn to Nola’s friend Ginny as prime suspect. Apparently the two had fought over a one-of-a-kind cotillion gown. As Nola steps in to prove Ginny’s innocence she soon finds herself picking through a bushel of suspects, twice as many motives, and at the mercy of a killer all too keen on killing again.

INCLUDES RECIPES!

Buy REST IN PEACH: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About BREACH OF CRUST by Ellery Adams

Breach of Crust

Plate up another slice of Southern magic and mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Lemon Pies and Little White Lies . . .

PIE SHELLS AND DEATH BELLES

Ella Mae LeFaye’s delicious pies are still drawing long lines—as well as the attention of Beatrice Burbank, president of the Camellia Club, a philanthropic organization comprised of high-society Southern ladies from the charming and affluent town of Sweet Briar, Georgia. To ensure the success of their centennial dessert cookbook, Bea hires Ella Mae to teach the tasty tricks of her trade to the club’s members at their annual retreat. Eager to work on new recipes for customers with food allergies and dietary restrictions, Ella Mae readily agrees.

But when Ella Mae finds Bea’s body floating in Lake Havenwood, she wonders what she’s gotten herself mixed up in. Someone certainly wanted Bea to eat humble pie, and the retreat offers no shortage of unsavory characters, including Ella Mae’s longtime nemesis, Loralyn Gaynor. Ella Mae definitely doesn’t need magic to tell her she must find the killer before someone else gets panned.

Buy BREACH OF CRUST: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About MOSS HYSTERIA by Kate Collins

Moss Hysteria

Abby and Marco’s new neighborhood isn’t as rosy as it seems in the latest Flower Shop Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Florist Grump and A Root Awakening.

Flower shop owner Abby Knight and her husband, Marco, are ecstatic to finally be moving into their new home, despite the prospect of unpacking a seemingly infinite number of boxes. After all, Brandywine—their new subdivision—seems like an oasis with its welcoming neighbors and beautifully manicured lawns.

But their idyllic community is suddenly uprooted when a body is found floating in a nearby pond. The police think Abby and Marco’s helpful next door neighbor is the culprit, but the newlyweds aren’t convinced.

Meanwhile, Marco distrusts his mother’s slick new boyfriend, and Abby’s cousin Jillian has agreed to decorate their new home, resulting in comic chaos. Even worse, as Abby and Marco dig through Brandywine’s secrets in search of a killer, they discover that some flowers come from very bad seeds…and danger stalks even the sunniest small-town streets.

Buy MOSS HYSTERIA: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About NEEDLE AND DREAD by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Needle and Dread

The Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle is needled by the death of a highly strung woman in the new mystery by the author of Wedding Duress.

Downtown Sweet Briar is now home to a new sewing shop run by one of the circle’s own. With the help and support of her fellow members, Rose is determined to make SewTastic a success, and, to that end, she decides to sponsor a series of do-it-yourself weekends for sewing enthusiasts.

But when a group arrives at SewTastic to work on a project, a loud and argumentative guest pushes everyone’s buttons. And when she winds up dead in Rose’s project room—strangled by a sewing machine power cord—it’s up to Tori and the gang to stitch together the clues before Rose’s reason for living is ripped apart at the seams.

PATTERN AND SEWING TIPS INCLUDED

Buy NEEDLE AND DREAD: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

Until next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts, author of DEAD MAN’S CARVE, A Tickled to Death Mystery, DEAD ON ARRIVAL, A Malia Fern Mystery, and DEAD RIGHT THERE, A Malia Fern Mystery—Coming 2016, is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Meet Sabrina Jeffries

Hi, Sabrina! Thank you for joining us here today at Fresh Fiction. I’m so happy to be talking with you about your books and your life!

I’m delighted to be here!

THE STUDY IN SEDUCTION is the second book in the Sinful Suitors series. I love the idea of a bunch of gentlemen banding together to form their own club in order to pool information about the ne’er do wells in society who might be prospective suitors, in order to protect their sisters and other females relatives from unsavory marriages! Can you tell me one fact that readers might be surprised to discover about the series (even readers like me who stalk you on Facebook, Twitter, and your website!)?

I considered calling it the Guardians Club, but my friend Megan Frampton said that sounded oldish. I realized she was right. Once I came up with the Sinful Suitors series and the St. George’s Club, I liked the names much better.

There are now about 30 gentlemen in the St. George’s Club looking to protect their womenfolk from scoundrel suitors. You’ve talked last year about how you are intrigued with an open-ended series rather than one defined by a story arc set at the beginning. As you’re a little further into it, how many of their stories do you expect you will write for this series, roughly? And can you tell us who will be featured in the next book in the series?

Right now, I’m writing the book for the Marquess of Knightford (Warren Corry, Clarissa’s cousin and former guardian) and Miss Delia Trevor (remember her from the automaton exhibit?). But I’d also like to do stories for Clarissa’s brother Niall, another of Warren’s brothers (Captain Hart Corry), and Lord Fulkham. Right now, I’m only contracted for three, so we’ll see what happens down the line.

As a series grows, how to you keep track of all the details about the characters and how the stories are interrelated?

I have two charts for every series. One keeps track of characters—their ranks, physical characteristics, family relations, etc. The other is a timeline color-coded by book, which lists significant dates for the characters and the age they are for those dates. Anything that doesn’t fit in those two charts, I just look up in the old manuscripts. Thank God for search engines!

I love reading the Regency Tidbits that you post on your website! I have learned all sorts of fascinating things from you over the years. What is the strangest thing that you have come across in your research that you would have loved to put into a book, but just couldn’t figure out how to work it into a story?

Oh, there are so many. Like details about the adulteration of food during this period (chalk, dust, sand, plaster of Paris, and lead were among some of the additives). Or the story of the teenage girl who ran off with her uncle. When her family went to rescue her, she refused to return, preferring to live with him as his mistress.

After being raised amidst the rubber plantations in Thailand by missionary parents, have you traveled back to Asia as an adult? What places to do you like to spend time (anywhere in the world)?

The last time I was in Thailand was 1994, if I remember correctly (I was definitely an adult). It was also my last time to visit Asia. For several years after that, my husband and I were unable to travel outside the country and very little inside it because of our autistic son. But in recent years, we’ve managed to do it a few times. Not a lot, however. We’ve been to England twice and Scotland once, and that’s it. I love England. I would go every year if I could manage it. Next year we’re going on a cruise to Amsterdam, Scotland, one of the Channel Islands, and Ireland. I’m very excited! And maybe we’ll pop in to London while we’re nearby, too.

What prompted you to start your Will and Jane’s Excellent Adventure comic strips that you create? I find them endlessly entertaining! Do you take all the photos for the strip yourself?

My agent gave me a Jane Austen action figure for Christmas. The next Christmas, my husband bought me a Shakespeare figure, but he was more of a caricature. And he was short. When I put the two figures next to each other, I flashed on how they would interact if they were characters. Then my brother showed me the Comic Life software on my Mac, and that was it! Will and Jane were born. Yes, I take all the photos myself. Which is probably why the “artwork” isn’t fabulous—I’m not a photographer. But it’s fun to do.

Will and Jane's Excellent Adventures

Is there any book that you’ve read in the last year that you’ve thought, “I wish I had come up with that plot!”?

Not in the last year, no. But I’m not generally impressed by plots. I’m more impressed by characters. I always envy really well-drawn characters, because I have to work so hard at mine. Plots come easily to me.

What are you obsessed with right now? It can be a book or series, a tv show, a band… What’s captivating your soul currently?

I tend not to get obsessed but if I had to choose something it would probably be Downton Abbey. I’m mourning the loss of it! And considering watching the whole thing over again.

With a busy life and your writing career, how do you grab some “me” time, and what do you like to do for it?

I like to travel, but don’t get nearly as many chances as I like. I also enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles. They’re very soothing for me.

About Sabrina Jeffries

Sabrina Jeffries

New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries is a regular on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and winning more than a dozen industry awards in the proces

New Orleans-born, Thailand-reared, Jeffries attributes her success to listening to what peers, her publisher and her own common sense told her she should be writing: “I write what I enjoy reading: lighter, sexier historical romances, with more dialogue and more sensuality.”

Writing about 19th-century English life comes naturally for Jeffries. Not only is she a lifelong Jane Austen fan, but she has a doctorate in English lit from Tulane and a specialty in Early Modern British literature. Yet the impetus for her stories, Jeffries says, is always “what if” — not what if her hero likes this or that, but what if this happened and this happened … what would it do to a person?

And she writes, she says, because “I can’t not write . . . I have stories in my head, and I have to get them out.”

Sabrina writes at her home in Cary, N.C., where she lives with husband, Rene, and their son, Nick. When not answering e-mails as she logs miles on her treadmill or doing jigsaw puzzles (“my reward for finishing a book”), Jeffries can be found championing the cause of autistic children in the name of her son.

Hellions of Halstead Hall | School for Heiresses | Duke’s Men | Sinful Suitors

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About THE STUDY OF SEDUCTION

The Study of Seduction

A marriage of convenience ignites into a passionate love affair in the hotly anticipated second novel in New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries’s addictive Sinful Suitors series!

When Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, agrees to help his best friend’s impetuous ward, Lady Clarissa Lindsey, in her time of need, he knows he’s in for trouble. He’s been hunting for someone to wed, and she’ll just get in the way. Although captivated by the witty, free-spirited beauty, he fears she’d be all wrong as a wife…if she would even take such a gruff cynic for her husband. Yet he wants nothing more than to have her for his own.

Clarissa has no intention of marrying anyone—not Edwin, whom she’s sure would be an overbearing husband, and certainly not the powerful French diplomat stalking her. But when matters escalate with the diplomat, she chooses Edwin’s gallant offer of a marriage between friends in hopes that it will deter her stalker. She expects nothing more than an amiable union, but their increasingly tempestuous kisses prove more than she bargained for.

When her stalker’s vow to expose the lovers’ deepest secrets threatens to destroy their blossoming attraction, will their tenuous bond withstand public ruin, or will Edwin lose all that’s important to him to protect his bride?

Buy THE STUDY OF SEDUCTION: Amazon.com | Kindle| BN.com| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

Meet Holly Robinson

In the coming months, I am going to be doing Q & A’s with a number of women’s fiction authors.  I think you’ll find their work engaging and their thoughts—on writing, life and how to balance it all—fascinating. I know I did!  First up is novelist, journalist and celebrity ghostwriter Holly Robinson. Holly is the author of several books, including The Gerbil farmer’s Daughter: A Memoir and the novels BEACH PLUM ISLAND and HAVEN LAKE. Her articles and essays appear frequently in The Huffington Post, More, Parents, Redbook and dozens of other newspapers and magazines. She and her husband have five children and a stubborn Pekingese. They divide their time between Massachusetts and Prince Edward Island, and are crazy enough to be fixing up old houses one shingle at a time in both places.

Holly’s newest novel, CHANCE HARBOR, tells the story of Catherine and Zoe. Though they are sisters, even their mother, Eve, admits her daughters are nothing alike. Catherine is calm and responsible. Zoe is passionate and rebellious.  Nobody is surprised when Zoe gets pregnant, drops out of college, and spirals into drug addiction. One night Catherine gets a call from Zoe’s terrified daughter, Willow, saying her mother has abandoned her in a bus station and disappeared. Eve blames herself, while Catherine, unable to have children, is delighted to raise Willow as her own. Now, five years later, Eve is grieving her husband’s death and making reluctant plans to sell the family’s beloved summer home on Prince Edward Island. But a series of unexpected revelations will upend the family and rock three generations of women.

How do you go about constructing a novel?

A: I wish I knew! When I was first starting out, I used to think, “If I practice writing fiction long enough, I will learn how to write a novel.” Slowly I’ve realized that novels are like children: each one demands a different sort of upbringing, and the tricks that worked for the first book probably won’t work for the next. You just have to trust yourself enough to push through the mud and sleet and disasters along the way. Basically, that means getting enough words on the page so that you can fix everything that’s broken.

What was the inspiration for CHANCE HARBOR?

A: The novel starts with a child being left at a bus station by her mother, who says, “Call your aunt after I leave.” The mother then disappears. The genesis for that was the true story of one of my mother’s best friends, who was left at a city bus station by HER mother. I also wanted to set this novel on Prince Edward Island, because it has been my beloved second home for nearly 25 years.

New England seems very important to you; can you elaborate?

A: Because I grew up with a father who was in the Navy, my upbringing consisted of moving every few years whenever he got new orders. I think I was always looking for a place to belong. When I married my first husband, we were living in San Francisco, and we knew we’d never be able to afford a house there. My brother was in Massachusetts at the time; we moved into an apartment in his house, and when my brother took me on a day trip to the North Shore of Massachusetts, I felt, for the first time, like I was meant to live in this exact location. I love everything about it: the beaches, the small seaside towns, the do-it-yourself attitude of Yankees, and even the winters. I think I must have been a ship captain in a former life.

How do you use the settings in the novel to ramp up the emotion?

A: Like most writers, I’m often looking for a way to make scenes more emotional without using unnecessary adjectives or having my characters fall prostrate to the floor. In THE WISHING HILL, my first novel for Penguin, I used an old mill as a setting because it was where one of the characters worked and had a love affair, and because this mill (which I looked at from my own bedroom window as I worked on the book) oozed sorrow, with its water stains and rusty chains. For BEACH PLUM ISLAND, I used a barrier island—Plum Island, near my home in Massachusetts—because a barrier island is always changing due to storms, and the characters in that novel are facing enormous life upheavals because they’ve discovered a brother they never knew they had. CHANCE HARBOR, too, is an extremely emotional novel; for this one, I chose the very tip of Prince Edward Island. That easternmost point of the island really does feel like the end of the world, and these characters feel that they’ve reached a point in their lives where they might not be able to go on. Boy, that makes my books sound horribly dreary, doesn’t it? But I promise that good things happen, too!

Do you build your novels from your own family’s stories?

A: Absolutely! I’m extremely lucky to come from a family that loves to tell stories. I’ve been filing away these anecdotes since I was old enough to sit at a table with my parents and grandparents.

Are you drawn to writing about “broken” families and/or family secrets?

A: All families have secrets, and there are far more “broken” families than unbroken ones, so yes, I am. This is partly because, in my own family, my parents were divorced and my father married another woman. Then, after sixteen years, he went back to my mom and they were remarried. I, too, was divorced, and now I’m remarried and have a blended family of five children. The intricacies of families that break and reform are complex and endlessly intriguing to me. I like to say that I write “emotional family mysteries,” because I want to write books that read like your favorite mystery novels, but have at their core a family secret (or secrets) that will drive the narrative forward and reveal the characters as complex and relatable.

Some secrets are revealed in this novel; others are not. What’s your view on keeping secrets?

A: In my own life, or in my novels? Basically, my view is that everyone has secrets, and some really ought to be kept—especially if revealing them will do harm. On the other hand, the best fiction often involves secrets that are revealed unexpectedly and force the characters to go through a crisis and resolve their conflicts.

What’s obsessing you now?

A: I’m revising FOLLY COVE, a novel that will come out in Fall 2016, and it’s driving me bonkers. This book absolutely refuses to behave. So far, I’ve written it from three points of view, then decided a fourth had to be added, and when I did that, I discovered that one of the other main characters served no real purpose. Now I’m in the process of killing that character off early in the book—which of course causes all sorts of ramifications for the rest of the family—and revising the novel accordingly. At the same time that I’m doing all this, I’m researching my next novel —always the fun part, before I start digging in and realizing once again that writing is so HARD that sometimes I want to lie down and put a cold cloth over my eyes until my impulse to write fiction goes away.

About CHANCE HARBOR

Chance Harbor

Catherine and Zoe are sisters, but even their mother, Eve, admits her daughters are nothing alike. Catherine is calm and responsible. Zoe is passionate and rebellious. Nobody is surprised when Zoe gets pregnant, drops out of college, and spirals into drug addiction.

One night Catherine gets a call from Zoe’s terrified daughter, Willow, saying her mother has abandoned her in a bus station and disappeared. Eve blames herself, while Catherine, unable to have children, is delighted to raise Willow as her own.

Now, five years later, Eve is grieving her husband’s death and making reluctant plans to sell the family’s beloved summer home on Prince Edward Island. But a series of unexpected revelations will upend the family and rock three generations of women.

Buy CHANCE HARBOR: Amazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis McDonoughYona Zeldis McDonough is the author of six novels; her seventh, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND, will be out from New American Library in February, 2016. In addition, she is the editor of the essay collections The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty and All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader. Her short fiction, articles and essays have been published in anthologies as well as in numerous national magazines and newspapers. She is also the award-winning author of twenty-six books for children, including the highly acclaimed chapter books, The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the Doll Shop. Yona lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children and two noisy Pomeranians.

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A Strawberry Topped Interview with CC Dragon

I am of the mindset that there’s nothing better than having a ripe, juicy strawberry on top of my dessert, and I’m beginning to believe the same rule applies to cozy mysteries! CC Dragon’s promotion card caught my eye last fall at a conference in Colorado. There was something about it that was familiar—her cover styles were attractive and appealing—as it turns out, we have the same cover artist! So it makes sense, that I was drawn to her books as much as I am to strawberry topping.

I looked for her at the conference, to no avail and ended up stuffing her promotion card in my bag to contact her after I returned home.

I hate to say, that swag bag didn’t get emptied until the holidays, but what a great gift it turned out to be! If I’d contacted CC last fall, she would have only had two books out in her series, but as of January, she has three Strawberry Top Mysteries for you to gobble up;) Now that’s a delicious treat!

Kym: Please welcome CC Dragon to Fresh Fiction’s Cozy Corner!

CC: Hi! Thanks for tracking me down ?

Kym: CC can you tell us a little bit about your Strawberry Top Mystery series?

CC: Sure! Stacey is a smart Southern woman who is coming back to her home town in Tennessee after a divorce. She left for college, became a pastry chef, and got married but caught her rich hubby cheating. Now she’s back home surrounded by old friends/ frenemies/ and ex-boyfriends—plus Mama and Grammy! Don’t forget the cats—Salt and Sugar. She’s helping her mama at the café and trying to start her own little business with the help of her best friend but when things go missing, she can’t help herself.

Kym: The series is made up of three refreshing novella length mysteries. Did you find that harder or easier to write your mysteries in a shorter format?

CC: Considering that they aren’t murder mysteries, no it was actually a nicer length. People can read them quickly and get a dose of small town sass with recipes and heart without a huge time commitment.

Kym: Tell us about your heroine, Stacey Fields, what drove her to put on her sleuthing hat?

CC: That ex-husband of hers…she married right out of college and it was love. He happened to have money and a good family business…so she signed a pre-nup to prove she’s not a gold digger. But he was a cheater and luckily she got a lawyer to check over things before she signed.

However, to get the payout from the fidelity clause, she had to prove he cheated. She wanted what he promised and since he wasn’t faithful, she was going to get her share of the money…so she put on her amateur sleuthing cap and got the proof!

Kym: Stacey isn’t solving the latest small town murder, her investigations are crimes that will nag you to death if they go unsolved. What made you take this route with your series?

CC: Everyone does murder…lol. But really, if visit a small sweet town where people know each other and have manners…how many murders are there? The odd one from a stranger? A random teen high on drugs accidentally kills someone? The town isn’t big enough…if there were that many murders, Stacey would move her Mama and Grammy out of town!

The fun thing is, you can still have a compelling mystery when no one is dead. Something meaningful goes missing. Or someone in a bad financial situation is stolen from or loses something valuable. That stuff can happen all the time. Bad people with a little power can mess with others and it’s not front page news. That’s a more authentic small town…and I hope it makes the stories a bit more fun/believable.

Kym: You also have a full length Helena Morris Mystery. What is your favorite thing about that novel?

CC: Helena’s sister has an alcoholic poodle…with a real diamond collar. The dog is so funny, I wish I could’ve found more scenes for it!

Kym: I Love Helena’s nickname—Hel—what made you give her that name and how does it fit her?

CC: Oh, it fits her. Hel isn’t afraid of anyone. She’s a martial arts instructor with multiple black belts. She can take care of herself and her sister (who has a stalker). She’s not your standard cozy mystery heroine…she was married to an FBI agent so she’s pretty fearless and connected. She packs a gun but doesn’t need it to beat up bad guys or punch a rock star who gets out of line.

Kym: I love the name for your paranormal cozy series, A Deanna Oscar Paranormal Mystery, it’s full of southern charm and glamour. Who would you cast in the role of your heroine, Deanna Oscar and why?

CC: I love it too! It’s New Orleans so really anything is possible.

I don’t know. Probably a younger Sandra Bullock would play Deanna in my dream world.

Kym: Which you you like writing more, paranormal or regular cozy mysteries? Novels or Novellas?

CC: I really like it all or I wouldn’t do it…Paranormal is tricky because you don’t want to make it too easy to solve the murder. It’s not magical or supernatural solutions. Novellas are fun because I can get them out to readers faster and see if they like them.

Kym: On your website you mention that you are working on a romantic suspense, is there one in the works? If so can you give us a hint about the chemistry between the characters?

CC: I can that it involves a former government agent and a current psychiatrist working together to catch a dangerous criminal. The former agent wants our shrink to give up the files and medical info and she’s not giving an inch…

Kym: What are you working on now?

CC: Right now? I’m actually working on a YA series (I seriously have genre ADD and bounce around. But I always come back to mystery/suspense).

Book 1 releases 3/12: SUNFLOWER TOUCHES
Book 2 will come out 3/26 so get addicted to this blended family with 6 teenage girls!

Kym: Can you tell our readers where they can find you on social media?

CC: Website: http://www.ccdragon.com
Amazon Page
Facebook: ccdragonauthor
Twitter: @authorccdragon
Goodreads: GoodReads

Kym: Thank you for joining us at the Cozy Corner!

CC: Thanks for having me!!

PS: If anyone wants to grab all 3 of the Strawberry Top Mysteries, it’s cheaper to grab the boxed set: Amazon

CC will be giving away one print copy of the Strawberry Top Mystery set along with some awesome swag to one commenter on this post. Don’t miss your chance for a great series that will whet your appetite for more! (Must have a U.S. shipping address)

Strawberry Top

GRAMMY'S SECRET RECIPE

#1
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BLACK SHEEP CAKE

#2
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CHURCH LADIES TEA

#3
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About C.C. Dragon

A loyal Chicago girl who loves deep dish pizza, the Cubs, and The Lake! CC Dragon is fascinated by the metaphysical and paranormal. Loves creating characters, especially amateur sleuths who solve mysteries. Also a coffee and chocolate addict who loves fast cars. Still looking for a hero who likes to cook and clean…so she can write more!

Helena Morris | Strawberry Top | Deanna Oscar

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Until next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web at kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her newest release, FLIRTING WITH THE DEVIL, A Noble Pass Affaire Novella available now.

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