Writing a Woman’s Life with Julie Lawson Timmer

When Char Hawthorn’s husband dies unexpectedly, she is left questioning everything she once knew to be true: from the cozy small town life they built together to her relationship with her stepdaughter, who is suddenly not bound to Char in any real way. UNTETHERED explores what bonds truly form a family and how those bonds can be tested and strained. Char, a college professor, wife and stepmother to a spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But once her husband is gone, the “step” in Char’s title suddenly matters a great deal. In the eyes of the law, all rights to daughter Allie belong to Lindy, Allie’s self-absorbed biological mother, who wants to girl to move to her home in California.

While Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between her and Char, Allie’s connection to young Morgan, a ten-year-old-girl she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. But then Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care, suddenly disappears, and Char is left to wonder about a possible future without Allie and what to do about Morgan, a child caught up in a terrible crack in the system, and causes Char to once again question her connections to the people she loves and the entire meaning of family.

Author Julie Lawson Timmer, an attorney by training and profession, zeroes in topics that seems pulled straight from the headlines. She talks to Fresh Fiction columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough about the cross over between the two professional worlds she inhabits and how she uses one to inform and amplify the other.

YZM: How did you get your start as a novelist?

JLT: I have always loved writing, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I decided to take a real shot at writing a novel. I lost a friend to cancer that year, and I was so enraged for her sake that I felt I had to express my feelings, and writing made the most sense to me. Also, I was turning 45 that year, and for some reason, that felt momentous to me. I did some soul searching and decided that in another 40 years, as my days were coming to a close, the one biggest regret I would have is not trying to write a book and see if I could get published. I decided I didn’t want to live with that regret, and that the time was now, so I promised myself I would have a draft of a novel completed by my birthday. I met that goal, and as a reward, I booked myself a seat at a writer’s conference, promising myself I would have the novel revised in time to pitch at the conference. I did pitch it there, and while those pitches didn’t lead to representation, I learned so much at the conference and made some lifelong writer friends, and those things combined helped me revise the book again and again until I finally landed my agent, two years after I began writing the novel.

YZM: Does your work as an attorney influence or enhance your work as a writer?

JLT: I don’t know that my day-to-day work as an in-house lawyer influences my writing. I do know, however, that my training as a lawyer and my prior job as a private firm litigator have helped my writing enormously. Litigators have briefs to file all the time, often on little notice. We are used to writing fast and efficiently, whether we feel inspired or not, because we don’t want to commit malpractice or be fired for failing to write the thing and get it filed with the court on time. So, we don’t wait around for the muse or other inspiration to strike, and we spend very little time staring at a blinking cursor on a blank screen. Instead, we WRITE. I carried that training with me in writing my first book and have carried it for all other books since. I don’t insist on certain background music, a certain location, a certain kind of coffee, or any other inspirational sort of thing: I just write. Lawyering also teaches time management, which is helpful to anyone who intends to write a novel while also holding down a job and balancing kids and home life. It also teaches outlining, and structuring a narrative in a way that is clear and concise. All of these things are great skills for a novelist.

YZM: UNTETHERED deals with both step parenting and with foster case; timely subjects for today’s readers?

JLT: I think so! There are so many blended families these days; I expect each of us knows a stepparent or knows someone who has a stepparent, even if we’re not in those roles ourselves. And of course, foster care and adoption have a long history. In my social media feeds, there are many people who are fostering kids, fostering-to-adopt, or who have or are about to adopt. The modern family has changed a great deal, and I think UNTETHERED presents a picture of the new modern family.

YZM: What do you hope readers come away with after they finish your book?

JLT: I hope readers who are stepparents come away with the sense that they are not alone in facing the challenges of stepparenting. It’s a unique role, and many stepparents feel misunderstood by their closest friends because those friends, if not stepparents themselves, often simply don’t “get it.” I think UNTETHERED shows those parents that there’s someone else who “gets it” and I think that can be helpful. I hope it is.

I hope readers also come away with insights into the world of foster care, adoption and “rehoming,” and that they will see the many different facets and challenges in those realms.

YZM: What’s next on your horizon?

JLT: My third novel, MRS. SAINT AND THE DEFECTIVES, is scheduled to come out in August 2017, and I’m currently writing my fourth. True to my lawyerly self, I’m outlining it like mad.

YZM: Is there a question you wish I had asked?

JLT: Well, anyone who follows me on social media knows I looooove to talk about my dear little Miniature Pinscher (MinPin) whom we rescued about 1.5 years ago. So, I’ll pretend you asked how she’s doing, and I’ll tell you that she is wonderful! This summer, she has learned to run in the trails near our cottage, off leash–huge development for her as she used to run away any time she was given any leeway. This makes the trails much more fun for all of us and I swear she runs with a very proud expression on her sweet little face. :)

UNTETHERED by Julie Lawson Timmer

Untethered

When Char Hawthorn’s husband dies unexpectedly, she is left questioning everything she once knew to be true: from the cozy small town life they built together to her relationship with her stepdaughter, who is suddenly not bound to Char in any real way. Untethered explores what bonds truly form a family and how, sometimes, love knows no bounds.

Char Hawthorn, college professor, wife and stepmother to a spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But when her husband dies in a car accident, the “step” in Char’s title suddenly matters a great deal. In the eyes of the law, all rights to daughter Allie belong to Lindy, Allie’s self-absorbed biological mother, who wants to girl to move to her home in California.

While Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between her and Char, Allie’s connection to young Morgan, a ten-year-old-girl she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. But then Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care, suddenly disappears, and Char is left to wonder about a possible future without Allie and what to do about Morgan, a child caught up in a terrible crack in the system.

Women’s Fiction [G.P. Putnam’s Sons, On Sale: June 7, 2016, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780399176272 / eISBN: 9780698407862]

About Julie Lawson Timmer

Julie Lawson Timmer

Julie Lawson Timmer grew up in Stratford, Ontario. She now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband Dan, their four teenage children and two badly-behaved labs. She is a lawyer by day, a writer, mom/stepmom, fledgling CrossFitter and dreadful cook by night.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

About Yona Zeldis McDonough

The House on Primrose Pond

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

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

A Spicy Honeymoon with a Brew

Fall is almost here, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it! The summer heat has dug in its heels and driven me to a cozy air-conditioned corner with a cold brew, a little spice and a honeymoon to boot—all of them, of course, fictional. I enjoyed all three of this week’s feature mysteries that took me on a tour from Monticello, to Seattle, to Pittsburgh, PA. And all three authors included recipes you don’t want to miss! Put them on your reading list, you won’t be disappointed.

KILLING THYME by Leslie Budewitz

Spice Shop #3

Killing Thyme

In Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer in the latest from the national bestselling author of Guilty as Cinnamon.

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun.

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. After Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: October 4, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425271803 / eISBN: 9780698140554]

SEEDS OF DECEPTION by Sheila Connolly

Orchard Mystery #10

Seeds of Deception

The New York Times bestselling author of A Gala Event returns with newlyweds Meg and Seth Chapin who should be worried about writing thank you notes, not taking a juicy bite out of crime…

With the bushels of time they spent organizing their wedding, Meg and Seth didn’t have a chance to plan a honeymoon. But now that winter has arrived, there’s not much to do at the orchard. So with their shared love of history and all things apple, they pick Thomas Jefferson’s orchards at Monticello as the perfect getaway.

While they enjoy the beautiful sights, there’s a rotten addition to the agenda when Meg’s parents discover their handyman dead in the backyard. With a bitter police chief eyeing Meg’s father as a suspect, Meg and Seth have to cut their honeymoon short to find the root of the problem.

Includes Delicious Recipes

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: October 4, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425275825 / eISBN: 9780698165656]

TANGLED UP IN BREW by Joyce Tremel

Brewing Trouble #2

Tangled Up in Brew

BEER TODAY, GONE TOMORROW…

Brew pub owner Maxine “Max” O’Hara and her chef/boyfriend, Jake Lambert, are excited to be participating in the Three Rivers Brews and Burgers Festival. Max hopes to win the coveted Golden Stein for best craft beer—but even if she doesn’t, the festival will be great publicity for her Allegheny Brew House.

Or will it? When notoriously nasty food and beverage critic Reginald Mobley is drafted as a last-minute replacement judge, Max dreads a punishing review. Her fears are confirmed when Mobley literally spits out her beer, but things get even worse when the cranky critic drops dead right after trying one of Jake’s burgers. Now an ambitious new police detective is determined to pin Mobley’s murder on Max and Jake, who must pore over the clues to protect their freedom and reputations—and to find the self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner.

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: October 4, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425277706 / eISBN: 9780698181755]

Giveaway Alert!

Watch for my Chick Swagger T-shirt Giveaway here on Fresh Fiction!

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 kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her new romantic suspense release, Red Lace, A Hard Men of the Rockies Novella and upcoming mystery release, Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available for pre-order now.

Meet Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house. Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel. During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

This is the question that Marybeth Whalen poses in her moving new novel, and she talks to Writing a Woman’s Life columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough all about how her moving new novel attempts to answer it.

About Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of five previous novels and speaks to women’s groups around the United States. She is the cofounder of the popular women’s fiction site She Reads and is active in a local writers’ group. Marybeth and her husband, Curt, have been married for twenty-four years and are the parents of six children, ranging from young adult to elementary age. The family lives in North Carolina. Marybeth spends most of her time in the grocery store but occasionally escapes long enough to scribble some words. She is always at work on her next novel.

WEBSITE | BLOG | TWITTER

FF: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

MW: I’ve never not written so I knew I wanted to write– but didn’t really believe I would write things other people would actually read. I considered writers to be magical people and never felt I was especially magical. Now of course I know different. Writers are ordinary people who just happen to interpret the world through story. And I’m glad I get to be one.

FF: How did you get your start as a novelist?

MW: I met a friend who called me on all my excuses (my kids, my lack of time, my lack of knowledge, etc.) and didn’t let me quit. Everyone needs someone like that in their life! I’ve dedicated several of my novels to her and we now run a site devoted to sharing the best in women’s fiction called She Reads. Story brought us together and in some ways, it keeps us together!

FF: You write so affectionately about small town life; are you a small town girl yourself?

MW: I am. I live in the same small town I grew up in– but of course as our area of the south has grown, the town itself has changed. It is the same town and it is a different town and I guess I circle that concept a lot in my writing: the changing landscape of the American South, or whatever you want to call it.

FF: This is an ensemble novel in which most of the voices are in the third person. Why is Cailey the only exception?

MW: I just wrote her exactly as she came to me. She was the clearest voice out of all of them and, to me, the hero of the novel. So I liked that her voice was distinct because she got to be the only character who spoke in first person.

FF: Several characters discover unwelcome secrets about each other or themselves: Zell, Everett, Jencey; how do they cope?

MW: One of the things I like to do when I write is to throw a bunch of people into some dark and unwelcome situations and then see what happens. It’s great fun for me as a writer and it’s also the kinds of books I like to read. But my intent is never to leave them in these dark and unwelcome situations. It’s to watch them find whatever they need (friends, support, wisdom, strength, love, etc.) to begin to climb out of them. I always want to finish out my novels on a note of hope so that, in response, perhaps the reader will find hope as well. I think we live in a world where hope can at times be in short supply so it’s nice to find it in the stories we read.

FF: Cailey has a secret she does not reveal in the course of the novel; why not?

MW: There are so many secrets being revealed in this novel that I just had to let her hang onto that one!

FF: What are you working on now?

MW: My next novel is (tentatively) titled WHEN WE WERE WORTHY and is about a tragic event that affects an entire small town, most notably four main characters whose lives are irreversibly changed by what happens. It’s another novel about people keeping secrets (or trying to!) and coming to understand both themselves… and each other.

THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

The Things We Wish Were True

In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

Women’s Fiction [Lake Union Publishing, On Sale: September 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781503936072 / ]

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.

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST

Erika Kelly | ‘Rocking’ the band scene

Erika Kelly is best known for her sexy Rock Star Romance series, but in October she launches a brand new series about hot and bothered brothers. Back in April Fresh Fiction critic Miranda Owen chatted with Kelly about her Rock Star Romance series, her favorite rock bands, and whether she plans to come back to band books in the future.

Miranda Owen: What inspired you to write about a rock band?

Erika Kelly: It’s funny because I’m originally from Los Angeles, which means I spent the first half of my life in the entertainment industry. And yet I’ve never written a book set in that world. I didn’t set out to write a rocker book. I was more interested in writing about a bad boy. I liked the idea of supremely hot, talented, charismatic man who was perfectly unattainable. Women could offer their bodies, men could offer their companionship, but no one would breach the wall he’d erected around his heart.

And the idea that one woman–the one and only woman–could inspire such lust and need and yearning and desire that he’d bust through all this barriers to win her. That was my starting point. The setting came after, when I tried to figure& out what world he’d be in. I wanted to put my essentially lonely man in a world teeming with people, which would only make him feel his isolation more keenly. And then, when he met Emmie, the reader would feel that utter relief that he wasn’t alone anymore.

Miranda Owen: Your characters seem so real and you can’t help but feel invested in their lives as you read their stories. How important is character creation in your creative process? Do you frame the story around the characters or make the characters fit the story you’re trying to tell?

Erika Kelly: It doesn’t seem to matter how I start. I could fill whole notebooks with character worksheets, and it won’t impact the actual characters that come to life on the page. Before I write, I have a very clear idea of my character’s goals, motivations, wounds, and arcs. I have a road map of the plot. But it’s only through revision that they actually emerge–and then they take on a life of their own. So, in other words, I wait for them to come, and then I let them take over the show.

Miranda Owen: Since you write about a rock band, I have to ask – who are some of your favorite bands?

Erika Kelly: So many! Right now I’m obsessed with Bear’s Den, DMAs, and Walking on Cars. But all-time favorites include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tupac, Guns N’Roses, the Cure, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen…oh, um, you just meant a few, right?!

Miranda Owen: By TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT, the core members of Blue Fire are such a tight-knit family unit. Was it important to you to create that feeling of family in this series with these characters?&

Erika Kelly: I’m not sure I started out with that intention. I think in the course of the story, when conflicts hit hard and fast, my characters tend to band together to withstand the disturbances of life. Because, I guess, that’s what I would like for all of us. I think that artists have fires in their souls–issues or wounds they’re subconsciously working through with their art–and I tend to think that pain leads to isolation. As Lord of the Story, it’s hard not to want to heal that intense loneliness or sense of alienation, and I think by creating that brotherhood and later a family that grows to include wives and children, I’ve soothed their wounded souls.

Miranda Owen: As much as I love your sensitive and sexy rockers, Slater and Derek, I think Mimi is my favorite female character that you’ve written about. To me, she is such a kick-ass heroine. Did you deliberately set out to make her such a strong character, or is that just the way she came across?

Erika Kelly: Seriously, my characters spring to life on the page. Remember Irwin from YOU REALLY GOT ME? Initially, he was just a stick figure of a boss. And then one day, many revisions into that book, this voice came–kind of like Hugh Grant. It was so vivid, and I was smiling while my fingers tapped furiously over the keyboard. If you recall, Mimi shows up in I WANT YOU TO WANT ME. Believe me, she wasn’t a planned character at all. The band was in the kitchen, and the front door slammed, and this cussing, stiletto-clacking chick blasts into the farmhouse talking on her cellphone. But when she takes care of Violet so fiercely? That’s when I knew she had to star in my next book.

Miranda Owen: Calix’s family in TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT is an interesting mix of personalities. Do you plan on writing about his sister or brother in a future story – either as part of the Rock Star Romance series, as a standalone or part of a spin-off series? Erika Kelly: I hadn’t planned on it, no. But I do love that family. By the end of TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT, I’ve left the impression that Ben winds up with Lee, so that would be a fun book to write.

Miranda Owen: Will TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT be the last book in your Rock Star Romance series? If so, what do you plan on writing about next?

Erika Kelly: I’m not sure about that. I’m hard at work on another series right now, but I’ve got a draft written of Cooper’s story. And I love his woman pretty hard–I mean, he gets his reward in the form of this sexy, dynamic woman–so it would be nice to finish that book so you can meet her, too!

About Erika Kelly

Erika Kelly

Award-winning author Erika Kelly has been spinning romantic tales all her life—she just didn’t know it. Raised on the classics, she didn’t discover romantic fiction until later in life. From that moment on, she’s been devouring the genre and has found her true voice as an author. Over three decades she’s written poems, screenplays, plays, short stories, and all kinds of women’s fiction novels. Married to the love of her life and raising four children, she’s lived in two countries and seven states, but give her pen and paper, a stack of good books, and a steaming mug of vanilla chai latte and she can make her home anywhere.

Rock Star

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Rock Star

YOU REALLY GOT ME
You Really Got Me
#1
Amazon.com BN.com iTunes/iBooks Kobo Google Play

I WANT YOU TO WANT ME
I Want You to Want Me
#2
Amazon.com BN.com iTunes/iBooks Kobo Google Play

TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT
Take Me Home Tonight
#3
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A Dream Interview with Mary Kennedy

I must be dreaming; otherwise Mary Kennedy wouldn’t be sitting in the Cozy Corner answering all my questions. Yet a pinch of my arms proves I’m not in lala land, but rather sitting at my computer absolutely thrilled to meet my long time Facebook buddy, bestselling author of A PREMONITION OF MURDER, Mary Kennedy.

About Mary Kennedy

Mary Kennedy

Mary Kennedy is the national best-selling author of two mystery series for Penguin-Random House, The Dream Club Mysteries and the Talk Radio Mysteries. She has written over forty novels, including a young-adult fiction series called The Hollywood Nights. Dr. Kennedy is a psychologist in private practice on the East Coast where she lives with her husband and six neurotic cats. She has tried unsuccessfully to psychoanalyze both husband and cats but remains optimistic.

Talk Radio Mystery | Dream Club Mystery

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | BLOG

Kym: Hi, Mary! Welcome to the Cozy Corner!

Mary: Thanks, I’m thrilled to be here and am a fan of your books! Plus I envy your background. As a detective, you will have some terrific stories to tell.

Kym: Thank you! Mary, can you tell us a little bit about your Dream Club Mysteries?

Mary: Yes, it’s all about a group of women who meet in Savannah once a week to share their dreams, try to analyze them and eat some wonderful desserts! At least that’s how it started. But everything changed when there was a series of murders in Savannah and it seems that the dream club members are finding clues in their dreams to solving the crimes.

Kym: The series is based on something you’re very familiar with, dreams. What made you want to focus on the time people spend with their heads on their pillows—or maybe their desks?

Mary: In my day job (clinical psychologist) I’m surrounded by people who have fascinating dreams and want to tell me about them. They offer an intriguing look into their personalities. The important thing about a dream is the emotional reaction it provokes in the dreamer. The “plot” of the dream is less important because dreams are often symbolic, one thing stands for another, etc. So as a psychologist, I always go after the emotional content. It’s also interesting to know how the dream ends. If it was an anxiety dream, did the dreamer manage to overcome the obstacles and reach safety? Or did he wake in a panic, still wrapped up in the dream? This gives me valuable information about my client’s state of mind. You learn a lot about what’s going on in a person’s subconscious by listening to her dreams.

Kym: Tell us about your heroines Ali and Taylor. What made you choose two women (sisters) instead of one heroine?

Mary: I thought the interplay between the two might be interesting from a plot point of view. Yin and yang, that sort of thing. They each bring something unique to the story and I try to develop their characters in each book. I used the same technique with Dr. Maggie Walsh and her roommate Lark in The Talk Radio Mysteries. It’s fun to have two characters with opposite ideas and personalities.

Kym: In your series, Ali and Taylor along with the rest of the dream club, solve homicides by interpreting dreams. Some readers love the possibility of the concept being transferred into real life; while others are skeptical. Do you believe dreams could be used to help police solve crimes?

Mary: I wish I knew the answer to that! I know there are cases in which psychics supposedly helped the police solve crimes, but I think these cases are mostly anecdotal. Taylor (the very pragmatic sister with the MBA) was initially very skeptical about whether clues in dreams could really be relevant to crime-solving, but as the series progresses, she is becoming a convert. Ali, of course, believes fervently in the power of dreams to shed light on events in our waking lives. And she is convinced that clues in dreams really do help solve murders.

Kym: Could the dreams you use in your series have any possible ties to the realm you disappear to at night?

Mary: I wish I could say I had interesting dreams, but I’m afraid they’re quite mundane. I’m always fascinated by my clients’ dreams, though, and many of my readers write me about their dreams.

Kym: Will there be a fourth book in the series?

Mary: Yes, I hope it will be out by late spring.

Kym: Your short, but very interesting release, A PSYCHOLOGIST’S GUIDE TO DREAM INTERPRETATION, ties into The Dream Club Mysteries. Did you write it for readers who were interested in learning more about their dreams?

Mary: So many readers asked me more details that I thought it might be worthwhile to put up a small booklet about them. It’s an e-booklet, if there is such a thing. It’s only 99 cents and all the proceeds go to a wonderful animal shelter in Lyons, New York.

Kym: You also have a Talk Radio Mystery series? Can you tell us about Maggie Walsh?

Mary: Maggie Walsh is a former Manhattan psychologist who moves to sunny Florida to become a radio talk show host at WYME-RADIO. (Think Frasier). She’s surrounded by a wacky crew at the radio station, and she’s shocked when her very first guest—an annoying Guru—is murdered. I used to work in radio, so I loved writing about that environment. DEAD AIR, the first in the series, is available right now as part of a Sleuthing Women Ten First-in Series Mysteries boxed set, for only 99 cents. If you like a little humor and a fun cast of eccentric characters with your mystery, (including Maggie’s fifty-something stage-struck mother) I think you’d enjoy it.

Kym: Are Maggie and Frasier’s personalities similar as well, or does Maggie have a bit of Dr. Kennedy in her?

Mary: I’m not nearly as witty or interesting! I made sure I created the radio setting as accurately as I could, though. It’s a fun, exciting place to work and I enjoyed every minute of my job at a Nashville radio station.

Kym: Although not in the cozy mystery genre, The Hollywood Nights Series is something special. Can you tell us how you branched out with these novels?

Mary: I started out writing middle grade and young adult fiction for Scholastic and wrote over thirty-five books for them. I wanted to combine my interest in young adult fiction with my love of Hollywood and the film industry. Most of all, I wanted to create for teens that are hip, edgy but squeaky clean. MOVIE STAR takes place on a film set in a small New England town, the sequel CONFESSIONS takes place in Hollywood and GOLDEN GIRL is set in Miami, which is known as “Hollywood East” because it’s popular with film producers. I won an award and grant from the National Endowment of the Arts for “artistic excellence in literary fiction” for MOVIE STAR.

Kym: Wow! I had no idea you had that many books through Scholastic, that’s awesome! You’ve also released two cookbooks with your blog group, The Cozy Chicks, what made you and your fellow authors tackle not one but two projects like this?

Mary: Many of us include recipes in our books and we thought it would be a fun project. The response has been amazing!

Kym: With such a diverse library of releases, can you tell us what you’re working on now?

Mary: The first in my new Crazy Love series just came out. It’s a series for “young teens,” not as sophisticated as Hollywood nights. The first release is LOVE SIGNS and it’s available right now. It’s a sweet, innocent, humorous series for girls from around ages 11-13.

Kym: Our readers would love to reach out to you on social media. Where can they can find you?

Mary: www.marykennedy.net, Amazon Page, Facebook, Twitter: @marykennedybook, Goodreads, and BookBub

Kym: Thank you for filling our day with sweet dreams at the Cozy Corner!

Mary: Thank you so much for having me! Happy reading and sweet dreams to all your readers, love this blog!

Giveaway Alert: A signed copy of DREAM a LITTLE SCREAM, book 2 in the Dream Club Mysteries and the electronic version of LOVE SIGNS, book 1 in the Crazy Love series for tweens and young teens is available to one commenter on the Mary’s interview! Good luck!

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 upcoming releases, Red Lace, A Hard Men of the Rockies Novella and Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available for pre-order now.

A PREMONITION OF MURDER by Mary Kennedy

Dream Club

A Premonition of Murder

An elderly Southern heiress’s nightmare becomes a real case of murder in the latest Dream Club Mystery from the national bestselling author of Dream a Little Scream.

When Abigail Marchand, Savannah’s famously reclusive heiress, invites the Dream Club ladies to lunch at her Beaux Reeves mansion, Taylor and Ali hope for an invitation to join the distinguished Magnolia Society. But Abigail has a more pressing concern: a recent dream that seems to foretell her death.

Taylor reassures Abigail that there are many ways to interpret a dream, but at the next meeting of the Dream Club, their discussion is cut short by a call from Detective Sam Stiles. She’s at Abigail’s mansion, where the elderly woman appears to have been pushed to her death down a flight of stairs. Now Taylor, Ali, and the Dream Club need to catch a killer before someone else is laid to rest.

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: June 7, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425268070 / eISBN: 9781101624135]

Woman on a Mission

It doesn’t matter where you are, what century you live in, or what culture you embrace, you will always find a woman on a mission—to better her life, help loved ones accomplish goals, or improve her community; she is driven to make a difference. This week I have three women ready to put evil in it’s place. After all, crime cannot be solved by man alone—but maybe, a woman hell-bent on finding the truth will do.

IN THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY by Jane Jensen

Elizabeth Harris

In the Land of Milk and Honey

With its peaceful, hardworking Amish population, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is a rural paradise. But former NYPD homicide detective Elizabeth Harris knows that evil lurks there—it’s just easier to hide…

By solving the murders of two local girls, Elizabeth has gained some trust in the Amish community. So, she’s the first person its members turn to when a fast and fatal illness takes hold, though many believe that the sickness stems from a hexerei—a curse placed by a practitioner of old-world folk magic. Elizabeth doesn’t believe in curses, and when an entire Amish family is found dead, she begins to suspect something far more sinister…

As the CDC is called in to investigate, customers of a Philadelphia farmers market selling Amish raw milk start dying. Amid rapidly escalating panic, Elizabeth must peel away layers of superstition and fear to save the livelihood—and lives—of an entire community. Because what has happened isn’t an accident of nature or an act of God, it’s the handiwork of someone who has only just begun to kill…

Mystery | Amish [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: August 2, 2016, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425282908 / eISBN: 9780698407213]

CROWNED AND DANGEROUS by Rhys Bowen

Royal Spyness Mystery #10

Crowned and Dangerous

Nothing is simple when you’re thirty-fifth in line for the British crown, least of all marriage. But with love on their side, and plans to elope, Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her beau Darcy O’Mara hope to bypass a few royal rules…

With Darcy driving me out of London in a borrowed motor car, I soon discover that he isn’t planning to introduce me to the pleasures of sinning in secret—as I had hoped—but to make me his wife!

Of course, there are some quibbles to be dealt with, such as my needing special permission from the King to marry a Roman Catholic and the question of where we might live after the honeymoon. Though he will inherit a title, Darcy is as broke as I am. Even his family’s Irish castle has been sold to a rich American who now employes Darcy’s father as a hired hand.

Throwing these cares to the wind, nothing could deter us from our mission—except perhaps the news that my future father-in-law has just been arrested. It seems the rich American was murdered and Darcy’s father had more than enough motive to do the deed. With the elopement postponed, we head for Ireland where he insists he’s innocent, and it’s up to us to prove it—for better or worse.

Mystery Woman Sleuth [Berkley, On Sale: August 2, 2016, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425283486 / eISBN: 9780698410244]

NO PITY FOR THE DEAD by Nancy Herriman

Mystery of Old San Francisco #2

No Pity For the Dead

The author of NO COMFORT FOR THE LOST returns with a new mystery of Old San Francisco…

British-born nurse Celia Davies runs a free medical clinic to assist the poor women of San Francisco. Aided in her endeavors by her half-Chinese cousin Barbara and feisty housekeeper Addie, Celia has earned the trust and friendship of many of the city’s downtrodden, including a young orphan named Owen—who’s just confided to her that he’s stumbled upon a corpse.

Owen recently started working for the ruthless real estate and development group, Martin and Company, and discovered a dead body in the office’s basement. Celia turns to Detective Nick Greaves for help, only to learn that one of the main suspects—the husband of Celia’s dearest friend—is an old enemy of Nick’s.

Now, Celia and Nick must put aside their personal feelings about the case—and each other—if they’re going to bring a killer to justice…

Mystery Historical [NAL, On Sale: August 2, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780451474902 / eISBN: 9780698192270]

Look for my Last Wave of Summer contest on Fresh Fiction for your chance to win a signed copy of my novel, Dead On Arrival, A Malia Fern Mystery plus a mystery surprise!

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 kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her latest releases, Red Lace, available for pre-order in July, and Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available for pre-order now! Coming soon DEAD RIGHT THERE, A Malia Fern Mystery

Meet Weina Dai Randel

At the moment of the Emperor’s death, everything changes in the palace. Mei, his former concubine, is free, and Pheasant, the heir and Mei’s lover, is proclaimed as the new Emperor, heralding a new era in China. But just when Mei believes she’s closer to her dream, Pheasant’s chief evil wife, Lady Wang, turns against Mei and takes unthinkable measures to stop her. The power struggle that ensues will determine Mei’s fate–and that of China.

First banished to a Buddhist monastery, Mei is then threatened with death for her daring escape. Back at the palace and living in secret, she is surrounded by enemies. Only by fighting back against those who wish her harm will Mei be able to realize her destiny as the most powerful woman in China. This fascinating story is part of a duology that includes THE MOON IN THE PALACE.

Writing a Woman’s Life columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough chats with Randel about her background and the path that led her to write these richly imagined and compelling tales.

YZM: When did you start writing?

WDR: I published my first short story when I was in fourth grade. So I guess I can say I started to write then? But I was writing in Chinese, not English – I began to write and speak in English when I came to the U.S. at the age of 24.

YZM: English is your second language; have you ever written in Chinese?

WDR: Yes. I also wrote a novel in Chinese when I was 21, but the novel was rejected by an editor in Shanghai. Humiliated, I burned the manuscript and decided to switch to English and learn the language instead.

YZM: What drew you to this subject matter?

WDR: I was inspired to write about Empress Wu in graduate school after I read Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior. I was fascinated with the prose, but was upset with the story of a Chinese woman who drowned herself because she was pregnant out of wedlock and her family considered her a disgrace. During the discussion with my classmates, I also learned how little they knew of China and courageous Chinese women, so I decided to write about a strong Chinese woman who succeeded in controlling her destiny. The first women I thought of was Empress Wu. I began to write and research about her in early 2004.

YZM: Can you talk about the research process? What were most fun/most challenging parts of doing it?

WDR: I spent six years researching ancient China! I studied Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Jing, Confucius’ Analects, Shi Jing, classical Chinese poetry, and historical record of the Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty in original ancient Chinese text, modern Chinese and English translations. Besides that, I also pored over books regarding the history of the tribes living at the border of China, Chinese art, painting, architecture, silk, rituals, food, fashion, sports, and women’s life in the society. There was so much to learn. Sometimes I got sucked in and tended to write too much about the research findings, forgetting what was important to my story, and as a result, my story lost focus. It took me years to understand that I needed to write fiction, not history. So I cut out many details during revisions.

The challenging part of the research? To swallow unfavorable comments about women and Empress Wu. Because many ancient Chinese historians were faithful devotees of Confucianism, which had a negative view of women and believed they must serve men and should not be involved in politics, the historians often looked down on females and lambasted them, accusing them of behaving inappropriately. It was very hard to read those comments.

YZM: Do you feel Empress Wu’s story has a meaning for today’s women?

WDR: Absolutely. Empress Wu was one of the most competent rulers in the Chinese history. She ushered in a golden age for China. During her reign, China prospered in trade, economy, arts, and literature and became a role model for the neighboring countries such as Korea and Japan. Few male rulers in the Chinese history duplicated her success.

Not only that, she was also the first feminist in the Chinese history who strove to promote women. She encouraged women to learn and study, giving them the right to be educated, insisted on giving them the equal right to own land, just like men, and even employed them in the court – one of her prime ministers was a woman.

She did all that in the seventh century, when many men believed women were mere properties and reproduction tools.

Because of Empress Wu, women in the Tang Dynasty rode horses and played polo, enjoying freedom that women of later generations could never dream of. History told us that after Tang Dynasty’s demise, women were forced to break their toes and bound their feet, a tradition that lasted for almost one thousand years in China.

So we know Empress Wu was a trailblazer for women, but we still need to know about her story and see how she rose among hostility and stood triumphant. We need to understand that her path was not a smooth ride and that she was assaulted and suffered greatly, but it was her strength, her resiliency, her tolerance, her extraordinary ability, and her persistence in her belief that helped her succeed. It is not often that we hear this kind of success, but Empress Wu did it and showed the world – that is inspiring to any women of any time, of any country.

YZM: What are you working on now?

WDR: I’m working on another story set in China, although strictly speaking it is not historical fiction. But I’ll go back to historical fiction and introduce more of the courageous Chinese women and their stories to readers in the U.S.

YZM: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

WDR: I would probably be a psychologist, I think. I’m fascinated with people, and I love to talk to people, listen to their plights, and, if possible, help unravel the knots in their minds. I actually contemplated on getting a psychology degree after I received eighty rejection letters from agents. But I missed the deadline. So now I stick to being a writer!

About Weina Dai Randel

Weina Dai Randel

WEINA DAI RANDEL is the author of The Empress of Bright Moon duology, THE MOON IN THE PALACE and THE EMPRESS OF BRIGHT MOON. She was born and raised in China. Her passion for history compels her to share classical Chinese literature, tales of Chinese dynasties, and stories of Chinese historical figures with American readers.

Weina received an M.A. in English from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, where she was inspired to write about Empress Wu of China when she took a class in Asian American literature. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Writer’s Garret in Dallas.

The Empress of Bright Moon

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The Empress of Bright Moon

THE MOON IN THE PALACE

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THE EMPRESS OF BRIGHT MOON

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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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Time for a Gala in the Garden

Since I’m a secret readaholic who loves cloak and dagger mysteries, my choices this week shouldn’t put you at death’s door or make you scream bloody murder. They should make you want to step into the garden where time stands still for your very own suspenseful reading gala. If you haven’t caught on yet, you will when you see my top three choices of cozy reads this week.

Come on! The festival’s about to begin and there are three mysteries waiting to be solved! Find the clues, and you just might solve a murder!

CLOCK AND DAGGER by Julianne Holmes

Clock Shop Mystery

Clock and Dagger

Expert clockmaker Ruth Clagan has another murder on her hands in the second Clock Shop Mystery from the author of Just Killing Time.

Ruth has three days to pull off four events—including the grand reopening of Cog & Sprocket, the clock shop she inherited from her grandfather—so she doesn’t have time for Beckett Green’s nonsense. The competitive owner of a new bookstore, Green seems determined to put other businesses out of business by also carrying their specialty items. He’s trying to steal Ruth’s new watchmaker, Mark Pine, not to mention block her plans to renovate the town clock tower.

Ruth is already all wound up when she’s alarmed to discover Mark’s dead body. As the denizens of Orchard each chime in as to who they think the murderer is, Ruth needs to watch her back as she investigates on her own. Despite the danger, Ruth won’t stop until the killer is behind bars and serving time…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: August 2, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425275535 / eISBN: 9780698164307]

THE READAHOLICS AND THE GOTHIC GALA by Laura DiSilverio

Book Club Mystery #3

The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala

One sleuthing book club finds themselves in the midst of a gothic-esque mystery as they read Du Maurier’s Rebecca in the latest from the author of The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle.

Reading the gothic classic Rebecca already has the Readaholics spooked, and the chills only get worse when someone in town actually gives up the ghost….

Amy-Faye Johnson has her hands full coordinating the Celebration of Gothic Novels in Heaven, Colorado. The festivities start off smoothly, but the weekend is soon cursed with large egos, old resentments, and uninvited guests. Matters become truly grave when a dead body is found at the gothic-themed costume party.

The out-of-town authors claim not to know the victim, but Amy-Faye has doubts. With skeletons turning up in all of the suspects’ closets, Amy-Faye and the Readaholics must tap into their knowledge of gothic literature to find a killer who lurks in the shadows…

Mystery Cozy [NAL, On Sale: August 2, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780451470850 / eISBN: 9780698165816]

MURDER IN THE SECRET GARDEN by Ellery Adams

Book Retreat Mystery

Murder in the Secret Garden

Things really go to seed in the newest novel in the New York Times bestselling Book Retreat mysteries…

There is a hidden garden bordering the grounds of Jane Steward’s book-themed resort—a garden filled with beautiful but deadly plants such as mandrake and nightshade. Tucked away behind ivy-covered walls and accessible only through a single locked door, as described in the pages of Frances Hodges Burnett’s classic novel, the garden is of special interest to Jane’s current group of guests, The Medieval Herbalists. But when one of them turns up dead, Jane must discover whether a member of the group has come to Storyton Hall to celebrate their passion for plant lore or to implement a particularly cruel means for murder.

With thousands of books at her disposal, Jane believes she has the proper materials to solve this deadly problem. If she’s wrong, however, she may lose something far more precious than the contents of Storyton’s secret library…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: August 2, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425265611 / eISBN: 9781101612934]

Watch for my contest The Last Wave of Summer here at Fresh Fiction for your chance to win a signed copy of my paranormal mystery Dead On Arrival, A Malia Fern Mystery with a mystery surprise! 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 kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her latest releases, Red Lace, available for pre-order in July, and Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery available for pre-order now!

Caroline Angell | All the Time in the World

“Writing a Woman’s World”

Charlotte is a gifted and superbly trained young musician who has been blindsided by a shocking betrayal in her promising career when she takes a babysitting job with the McLeans, a glamorous Upper East Side Manhattan family. At first, the nanny gig is just a way of tiding herself over until she has licked her wounds and figured out her next move as a composer in New York. But, as it turns out, Charlotte is naturally good with children and becomes as deeply fond of the two little boys as they are of her. When an unthinkable tragedy leaves the McLeans bereft, Charlotte is not the only one who realizes that she’s the key to holding little George and Matty’s world together. Suddenly, in addition to life’s usual puzzles, such as sorting out which suitor is her best match, she finds herself with an impossible choice between her life-long dreams and the torn-apart family she’s come to love. By turns hilarious, sexy, and wise, here is a memorable story about how a young woman discovers the things that matter most. Angell talks to Writing a Woman’s Life columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough about her auspicious debut.

How did the idea for the story come to you?

There’s a quote from Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle (one of my favorite writers) that I came across — “Mother said, ‘Sometimes it’s very hard to see the hand of God instead of the blind finger of Chance. That’s why I wanted to come out here where we could see the stars.'” I’d been wrestling with the concept of vulnerability — not only as it pertains to mortality — but where it shows up in your life and how you put it into perspective as you move forward.

My narrator’s name is Charlotte, and she has a degree in music composition, but she’s been working for the past few years as a babysitter on the Upper East Side. She starts the story on an indefinite sabbatical from her career as a composer. I wrote one of my biggest fears for her — that something she made (composed) was put out in the world and not dealt with appropriately. She wants to hide from the possibility that anything like that could happen to her again — the fear of being that vulnerable and exposed keeps her at a standstill. She isn’t sure how to move forward. So she gets a day job as a babysitter while she is recovering from that betrayal. Then all of a sudden, she finds herself in a situation where the stakes are much higher, and she has to come to terms with the realization that maybe vulnerability isn’t something you can opt out of.

All The Time in the World deals with the sudden death of a young mother, and yet the story is hardly a bleak one. Can you talk about how you found hope in the valley of despair?

The structure of the novel is non-linear, because I wanted the reader to have some relief. I think our minds do this; they protect us, at times, from going too far down the rabbit hole. And that’s not to say that there aren’t desperate, awful times during the grieving process where it feels impossible to get out of bed. But in the darkest of times, I have seen people go through their normal daily routines, laugh and make jokes, say things that are distinctly hopeful. It’s incredibly difficult to live only in despair. It goes against our nature as humans, I think, and I tried to reflect that in Charlotte’s narrative. Sometimes that meant letting the reader fill in the blanks, and that’s where the time gaps come in.

You have a musical background; did you draw much on that to create Charlotte’s character?

I have a lot of empathy for people who are in the early stages of ANY artistic career — not exactly where they want to be yet, but getting there, and having to make a living at a day job, especially in a city like New York. Probably because I’ve been experiencing that for the last decade. I also think it’s natural to get invested in what you’re doing from day to day, to seek out something that fulfills you in some way so that you don’t feel like you’re just wasting your life while you wait for something magical to happen that brings you closer to your career goals. Charlotte and I both happen to like hanging with kids, and find some daily meaning in it. In that way, we’re similar. As far as music goes, I relied a lot on observation. My mom was a music teacher; one of my sisters is a singer-songwriter and the other is a music therapist; my father played guitar; many of my friends are composers and actors and musicians. There was a lot of experience around me to draw from, as well as my own.

You write with such authority and tenderness about being a nanny—also drawn from personal experience?

Yes, a lot of field research went into that! Many of the moments of silliness and frustration and joy that Charlotte experiences with the kids evolved out of my own experience. But in this case, a portion of the novel deals with kids who are grieving. I have found most kids I know to be incredibly present, especially the littlest ones. They exist in a very “of the moment” state of mind, so sustaining grief is not a thing that they’re likely to do – it’s more likely that they would remember something bad that happened, and then have an intense reaction. Those feelings can carry over and come out in something else they’re doing. Little kids have a hard time naming their feelings – instead, they act them out.

There’s a story in Stephen Covey’s book (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) — he’s talking mainly about a paradigm shift that he experienced, I think — but to me the story is relevant to how differently we experience grief as adults than as children. A man gets onto the subway car that Stephen is on, and he has a bunch of kids with him. Before this guy gets on, the subway car is peaceful and kind of quiet. This man sits down and closes his eyes, and his kids are just all over the place – noisy, rambunctious, throwing things, climbing – and finally I think Stephen feels like he has to say something, so he asks the man if he would mind trying to control his children a little more. And the guy says, “I’m so sorry, you’re right. We’ve just come from the hospital where their mother died an hour ago. I don’t know what to do right now and I guess they must be having trouble handling it too.” The man is trying to process his grief with his adult brain, but the kids don’t have the capacity for abstract thought. They aren’t there yet in their literal brain development. So their feelings come out in this other way, in this case, aggression.

All that is to say, I knew the characters of Matt and Georgie really well by the time I wrote about their grief, just from having known many little boys. Figuring out how they would connect the dots on their tragedy was a matter of knowing what their daily life was like. I’ve been so moved, more than once, by watching a kid work something out and make it ok for themselves. It can feel vital to come to acceptance quickly when you’re at the mercy of your emotions, and I think that’s how little kids handle hardship.

There’s an interesting romantic triangle you set up between Charlotte and the two brothers in the story; care to say more about this?

I think it was unavoidable that I would have to address the issue of intimacy in a story like this. First of all, there is the strange intimacy of raising someone else’s children, in someone else’s house, with someone else’s husband. That has to be reckoned with, especially since the reader is inside Charlotte’s head. And then, there is the very real feeling that you have to grab onto something tangible when everything around you seems so up in the air — and that the people you feel most connected to are the people who are experiencing the same thing you are. Emotions can be pretty powerful in high stakes situations, and it’s easy to blur boundaries that would normally be in place.

How do you see Charlotte’s future? And how about the futures of the motherless boys, and the two men who still mourn and grieve for Gretchen?

What I wanted for this novel, at the risk of sounding sentimental, was to tell a story about people who deal with each other in a loving way. A bit farther along in the book, Charlotte says “Love is not a limited resource, like oil. There’s an infinite amount.” It’s a bit of a revelation for her at that point, or something that hadn’t maybe resonated the same way for her in the past. There are writers who write some amazing things about the darker side of human nature, kind of exposés about all the horrible twisted things that we do to each other. I admire them for going there. I’m not that writer, though. Mine’s kind of like a love exposé. (Is that a thing?) And so, moving forward, all of these people are changed because they experienced this tragedy, and because they experienced it together. They move forward the way they do because they still have something to hang onto, even though they no longer have Gretchen. And I think, although there are many things that can’t be resolved over the short time period the story takes place in, that at the very least by the end, they recognize who and what they do still have, even if they haven’t yet come all the way to terms with it.

What’s next on your horizon?

I’m directing a musical this summer for a conservatory program in Washington, DC, so I’ll be down there for a few weeks. And I’m considering adopting every homeless dachshund on the planet, so that’s obviously going to take some research and planning. (Haha!)

About Caroline Angell

Caroline Angell

Caroline Angell grew up in Endwell, N.Y., the daughter of an electrical engineer and a public school music teacher. She has a B. A. in musical theater from American University and currently lives and works in Manhattan. As a playwright and director, she has had her work performed at regional theaters in New York City and in the Washington, D.C., area. Caroline is the co-founder of Racket, an initiative dedicated to eliminating menstrual taboos and advocating for equal access to feminine hygiene products.

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ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD by Caroline Angell

All The Time In The World

An unforgettable debut about a young woman’s choice between the future she’s always imagined and the people she’s come to love.

Charlotte, a gifted and superbly trained young musician, has been blindsided by a shocking betrayal in her promising career when she takes a babysitting job with the McLeans, a glamorous Upper East Side Manhattan family.

At first, the nanny gig is just a way of tiding herself over until she has licked her wounds and figured out her next move as a composer in New York. But, as it turns out, Charlotte is naturally good with children and becomes as deeply fond of the two little boys as they are of her.

When an unthinkable tragedy leaves the McLeans bereft, Charlotte is not the only one who realizes that she’s the key to holding little George and Matty’s world together. Suddenly, in addition to life’s usual puzzles, such as sorting out which suitor is her best match, she finds herself with an impossible choice between her life-long dreams and the torn-apart family she’s come to love.

By turns hilarious, sexy, and wise, Caroline Angell’s remarkable and generous debut is the story of a young woman’s discovery of the things that matter most.

Women’s Fiction [Holt, On Sale: July 12, 2016, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9781627794015 / eISBN: 9781627794022]


About Yona Zeldis McDonough

The House on Primrose Pond

Yona Zeldis McDonoughYona Zeldis McDonough is the author of six novels; her seventh, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND, was 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

Meet Lorraine Bartlett (aka LL Bartlett, Lorna Barnett)

A mystery is not an easy endeavor to take on as a writer, and writing one great mystery after another, is even harder. Yet for a few exceptional writers, it’s a feat that is conquered several times a year. Lorraine Bartlett is a talented bestselling author who defines the category and graciously accept my invitation to share a little insight to her writing process with the readers of the Cozy Corner.

Kym: Hi Lorraine! Welcome to the Cozy Corner!

Lorraine: It’s great to be here!

Kym: There aren’t many mystery authors who’ve had successful series written from both the female and male prospective as the lead character. How do you get into the mind-frame to write from two very different points of view? Which one do you prefer to write?

Lorraine: I have to admit, it took quite a few drafts to be able to pull off writing from a male point of view. Once I nailed it, though, it seems like I can just slip into Jeff’s persona like putting on a pair of comfy slippers.

I haven’t given much thought to how I write my various series. My characters are so vividly etched in my mind that I am able to jump from series to series and not mix them up.

Kym: I read in an interview you gave several years ago that you decided to use the pseudonym L.L. Bartlett because men tend to avoid mysteries written by women. Do you find that still true today now that social media has let your secret out of the bag?

Lorraine: Ebooks changed everything. Now that no one sees the covers of the books, the whole “shame” of admitting you like a certain genre seems to have disappeared. I’ve been surprised and pleased at how many male readers enjoy my cozy mysteries—as well as the Jeff Resnick series. I know romance authors who have gained many male readers via ebooks, too.

Kym: Which of your lead characters do you find the hardest to channel? Is it because you’re complete opposites, because the character is so closed-mouthed he/she won’t even share with you, or something entirely different?

Lorraine: Probably Tricia. (from the Booktown Mystery series) She’s so unlike me, she’s had totally different life experiences. She’s very private, and though she has many friends in Stoneham, she keeps a big part of herself to herself. Even Angelica doesn’t really know the true Tricia, although she probably knows her better than anyone else on the planet.

Kym: You have an incredible new release, TITLE WAVE, you wrote under the pen-name Lorna Barrett in your highly successful Booktown Mystery series. For the few who haven’t read any books in the series, can you tell our readers about Tricia and Angelica Miles?

Lorraine: Angelica is the older (by five years) sister. It wasn’t until “recently” that the sisters realized how truly dysfunctional their family was while growing up. So Tricia and Angelica were never close until Angelica decided to move to Stoneham after her fourth divorce. I can’t even say they had a love-hate relationship, because Tricia truly did not like her sister and could barely tolerate her. It’s taken them years to force a bond, but now that they have, they’d fight like tigers to protect each other. Of course, the sibling relationship is always in flux, so they have their little tiffs, but Tricia can now truly say she loves her sister with all her heart.

Kym: In my opinion secondary characters are the heart of a cozy and you’ve outdone most with Angelica. What is it about her that makes you like her as an author?

Lorraine: I love her. She’s the sister I never had. I could write about her for the rest of my life and never grow tired of her. When the first couple of books came out, I got a lot of complaints about her. I had a master plan for her, but I couldn’t pull it off in only one book; that wouldn’t have been realistic. She’s extremely complex, and kept a number of secrets from Tricia for a long time. It wasn’t so much that she wanted to keep Tricia in the dark about her past (and present), but that Tricia was so used to dismissing her sister as frivolous that she wasn’t open to knowing the truth about Angelica. Tricia always saw herself as the “successful” sister, to find out she wasn’t as successful in life as she thought, was quite a revelation.

Kym: I love the fact that you took Tricia and Angelica on the road (or ocean in this case) while their bookstore is being rebuilt after a fire. What made you decide to leave the store instead of just starting a new book with the store being completed?

Lorraine: Tricia suffered a devastating loss. She needed a change of scenery, and I was very happy my editor, Tom Colgan, gave me the leeway to step out of my usual setting. The name of the series is Booktown, after all. But as Tricia brought most of her friends with her, she wasn’t entirely out of her element.

Kym: Did you find it easier to continue on with the story that way, or more difficult with a new environment?

Lorraine: I was happy to have the opportunity to set the story in a new environment. Giving the characters (and the readers) a break once in a while helps to keep the series fresh.

Kym: Did you find yourself intrigued with any of the new characters to the point that they will continue on in the series?

Lorraine: At least two of them will show up in the next book. (I won’t tell which ones, however!)

Kym: I love that you’ve also indy published. What made you take the route of exploring both avenues to publishing?

Lorraine: LOL – The small press I was with did such a poor job (like doing nothing but listing my books in a catalog) that I figured I could do a better job of getting the word out myself. While my L.L. Bartlett name isn’t as well-known as my Lorna Barrett pseudonym, the Jeff Resnick Mysteries are my most successful series.

Kym: What do you like best about Indy publishing? Least? What’s the best and worst thing about House publishing?

Lorraine: What I like best is the complete freedom. What I like least is that sometimes I don’t always make the best decisions—usually about covers. But then I have the freedom to change them, too. (Which I recently did with my Tales of Telenia series.) In traditional publishing, if you’re saddled with a lousy cover (and I have had that displeasure) you’re stuck with it for life.

Kym: Your stories gravitate toward New York. Did you find it difficult to leave the Northeast or did you use a real cruise to inspire you?

OFF SCRIPT by L.L. Bartlett

Off Script

Mystery Historical [Author Self-Published, On Sale: May 24, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 2940158527081 / eISBN: 9781940801339]

Lorraine: Mr. L and I have been on three cruises, and I used parts of those experiences when writing TITLE WAVE. I’ve written stories set in other places (such as my latest, OFF SCRIPT, which is set in Los Angeles, where I lived for a short period of time), and Martha’s Vineyard, where I’ve never visited. Thanks to the Internet, you can do a lot of research. I’ve never been to Bermuda (and would love to cruise there), but luckily I have a friend who lives there, and she generously helped me with local color.

Kym: What do you have in store for Tricia and Angelica in their next cozy adventure?

Lorraine: I left them with a bit of a cliff hanger—namely their father visiting Stoneham, and that will be part of the next book. I’ve got my outline and I’ll be starting the book very soon. I’m looking forward to picking up their story.

Kym: In March you released a short story, A Dream Weekend, A Tale from Blythe Cove Manor. Do you write short stories as a break from your series, or are they stories and characters who insist you take time to bring them to life in the middle of your very busy schedule?

MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS by Shirley Hailstock, Lorraine Bartlett, Kelly McClymer

Blythe Cove Manor #2

Mothers and Daughters

Romance | Women’s Fiction [Storytellers Unlimited, On Sale: May 6, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 2940152969856 / eISBN: 1230001028829]

Lorraine: A Dream Weekend was originally published in the SUMMER MAGIC anthology put out by Storytellers Unlimited. We are a trio of authors (Kelly McClymer, Shirley Hailstock, and myself) who came together because we see ourselves first as storytellers. (Summer Magic was our third project.) We based our magical B&B on the HGTV 2015 home on Martha’s Vineyard. We came up with a proprietor (Blythe Calvert), her cat (Martha), and have even drawn maps of what the B&B looks like. Our second project, MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS, An Everlasting Bond, came out May 6th. I’ll be self-publishing my contribution (A Final Gift) in August. Shirley has written a delightful story that’s being serialized in our newsletter (and will be published later this year) called The Obsidian Cat.

We see a lot of Blythe Cove Manor stories in our futures simply because we enjoy writing them. We will have a Christmas anthology available later this year.

Oops—sorry. I need to actually answer your question. Yes, I like to take a break from novels by writing short stories. I’ll get an idea and just go with it. For instance, in 2014-2015, I wrote three Jeff Resnick short stories back-to-back. The ideas weren’t big enough for a novel, and couldn’t be worked into a full-length book. For example, I knew that Jeff would never be able to fully get on with his life until he came to terms with his ex-wife’s murder. It was cathartic for me because I was trying to come to terms with my mother’s impending death. Richard was not happy with how Jeff handled the situation, but that’s real life, and finally Jeff had closure.

Kym: I love that you’ve also indy published your Tales of Talenia series. What made you take the route of exploring both avenues to publishing?

Lorraine: Quite simply, having total freedom. And—LOL—it doesn’t hurt that the money is a lot better. My Victoria Square series was rejected by agents and editors because they didn’t like the setting. (It was originally set in an antiques arcade.) Cozies set in antiques venues had failed, so nobody wanted to take a chance. My editor wouldn’t look at it until I’d hit the Times list with Booktown, and even then I had to change the setting to an arts and crafts arcade.

What’s so ridiculous about that is … the same publisher saw that my “book series” was doing so well, that they decided to publish four or five OTHER series with books as the central theme.

The cozy mystery market was saturated to the point where they’ve now had to make a correction (i.e. stop publishing so many books), which is confusing and disappointing to the readers, and devastating to the authors. So far I’m hanging on, but I know many authors are scrambling because they don’t feel confident enough of go indie. I wish they had the confidence to trust themselves, and their characters, because there is life beyond traditional publishing. I found that out when I was let go from my day job eleven years ago. In retrospect, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Although I was broke for a couple of years, I was able to become a full-time writer who supports her family with her writing income.

Kym: You said in an earlier interview that you enjoyed making internet advertising images. Have you continued with that creative outlet, have you advanced to creating any of your own book covers?

Lorraine: I love making graphics to plug my books (and just for fun). I’ve accumulated a vast collection of stock photography images (and sometimes take my own shots) that I can play with. And I’ve learned just enough Photoshop to become dangerous.

I’ve played art director on many of my covers, but I’ve only actually done one cover myself; it’s for my Jeff Resnick novelette Eyewitness. I found a black and white shot of a pair of sunglasses, paired it with type, and I was going to hire someone to put together a real cover–but thought it might work as is. A year later, it’s still working for me. But I don’t have the skills to pull off a complex cover and I leave those to the professionals.

Kym: Do you have another release coming soon under one of your other pseudonyms?

Lorraine: My latest is OFF SCRIPT, which was inspired by my short stint working in the Script Department of a major Hollywood studio many years ago. It’s a police procedural, which is something I’m not known for writing. I’m not sure if I’ll make it a series—I’m already juggling five of those—but it was fun to revisit the past and play with some different characters.

Kym: Describe your leading man from the Jeff Resnick Mystery series. What do you have in store for him?

Lorraine: Jeff is special to me. He was my first original character, and I played with him in several short stories before I decided to write his first real adventure Murder On The Mind (which is free for all ebook formats). I’m currently finishing up the seventh novel in the series, SHATTERED SPIRITS. Usually I have a cover going by now, but I haven’t decided what I want to do. It’s time to talk with my cover designer and perhaps let her figure out what would work best. It will be available sometimes this summer, but I haven’t nailed down a date as yet.

Kym: What do you have in store for Jeff next?

Lorraine: It’s not pretty. He’s riding his bike when he’s hit by an SUV. Not pretty at all.

Kym: What can we expect from you next?

Lorraine: To keep writing. It’s what I do! I’ve got SHATTERED SPIRITS coming out this summer; A FINAL GIFT on August 8th; TALES OF TELENIA TREACHERY out on September 6th, and DEAD, BATH AND BEYOND (Victoria Square #4) out on December 6th, with a couple of short stories in between (if I can get them finished, that is). I like to keep busy.

Kym: You are one of the few authors I’ve seen that still offers autographed books on their website. That is so awesome! Where can you be found on social media?

Lorraine: I feel like I’m everywhere on social media, but mostly on Facebook (simply because that’s the easiest—and I can put up my graphics there, too). Readers can find me on Facebook (me, myself, and Lorna), and I have pages for each of my series, (The Lotus Bay Mysteries, The Victoria Square Mysteries, The Jeff Resnick Mysteries, and the Booktown Mysteries, and Tales of Telenia). I’m on Twitter (again, as me, myself, and Lorna), Google +, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram (although my phone has such a crummy camera I’ve only uploaded one picture so far. I’m used to my Canon EOS Rebel, and the camera phone is quite a comedown). I’ll be playing with it more, but … being a writer, I lead a pretty boring life. The most exciting thing I do is go junking on Saturday mornings.

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

Lorraine: Thanks for inviting me!

Lorraine is offering a hardcover edition of MURDER ON THE HALF SHELF to one reader who comments on this post! Good luck, and until next time, get cozy and read on!

About Lorraine Bartlett

Lorraine Bartlett

The immensely popular Booktown Mystery series is what put Lorraine Bartlett’s pen name Lorna Barrett on the New York Times Bestseller list, but it’s her talent–whether writing as Lorna, or L.L. Bartlett, or Lorraine Bartlett — that keeps her in the hearts of her readers. This multi-published, Agatha-nominated author pens the exciting Jeff Resnick Mysteries as well as the acclaimed Victoria Square Mystery series, the Tales of Telenia adventure-fantasy saga, and now the Lotus Bay Mysteries, and has many short stories and novellas to her name(s).

Lorraine Bartlett: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR

L.L. Bartlett: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | PINTEREST | BLOG

Lorna Barrett: WEBSITE | GOODREADS | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | BLOG

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 kymroberts.com, on Facebook at Kym Roberts (author) and on Twitter @kymroberts911. Look for her latest releases, Red Lace and Fatal Fiction, A Book Barn Mystery both available for pre-order now!

TITLE WAVE
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