Thursday, June 30, 2016

A guest blog by Marja McGraw

Jean asked me what inspired the personalities in the book, and this is the short version.

One of my favorite authors, Dorothy Bodoin, and I discussed that we’d both like to try our skills on a time travel book. Further inspired by two songs, Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce, and That Sunday, That Summer as sung by Natalie Cole, I took a step out in faith. I could do this, or at least I’d try my best to write a time travel story.

I thought about people I know and how they might react to life if they lived in another time period; specifically, 1909. Honestly, I have no idea what led me to choose that year. I remembered older people I’ve known throughout my life. They loved to share stories about growing up in an earlier era. Somehow it all came together.

The main character in Choosing One Moment is Carrie McFerrin. I had to give her a lot of thought and determined she must be a mystery writer whose skills someone wanted to put to use. There had to be a purpose for her time travel. Is she based on me? Not at all. Well, she is a bit clumsy, and that’s a trait we share.

She traveled to 1909 as the request of her great-aunt Genny, who’d traveled before her. I might add that Carrie didn’t travel willingly. Genny reminds me a bit of my own aunt.

My husband inspired more than one character because of the many sides to his personality (the good guys). Inspired is the key word. The world needs good men, and he was one of them.

The book includes an aged woman called Mother Possum. When I was a child there was a woman in her nineties who was called Mother Possum, and I’ve never forgotten her. The name alone made her fodder for a character. And, yes, her surname was actually Possum.

I could go through character by character, but that would be too time-consuming. In my other mysteries, the people are purely fictional, for the most part. I can’t explain it, but this time travel story felt more personal. It begged for personalities that I’m familiar with and people who have played a role in my life.

Yes, the characters are fictional, but they’re inspired by the best, and the worst (don’t forget the bad guys). And remember, there’s a killer on the loose in the fictional town of Little Creek.

One last thought, and that’s that an old crank phone hangs in my guest room. It was begging to be in a story. I couldn’t resist. It’s a link to the past.

Jean also asked about research for the story. As I mentioned, I grew up hearing stories related by elderly people. Those led me to read old newspaper articles, books about the time period, research (and images) of clothing in and around 1909, and anything else I could lay my hands on. The fact that people from that time period didn’t have the amenities we have today played a large part, too. Can you imagine what they might think if they saw today’s appliances, cell phones, cars or jetliners? What about a microwave oven or a dishwasher? A man on the moon? They’d probably laugh at at that idea.

Ah, the differences are too many to think about. If we traveled in time, imagine what it would be like to suddenly have things that we take for granted disappear from our lives.

Thank you, Jean, for allowing me to give a little background on Choosing One Moment – A Time Travel Mystery. It was an experience I enjoyed, and I think readers will, too.

About the story:

Mystery writer Carrie McFerrin has inherited an old family house and all of its contents from her Great Aunt Genny.

While taking inventory of the attic contents, she comes across an old wooden crank telephone. Thinking the old phone would look perfect in her vintage kitchen, she hangs it on the wall by the back door, and an old, yellowed piece of paper asking for help falls to the floor.

The impossible happens when the disconnected old phone rings – three rings, a pause, and three more rings.

Carrie picks up the receiver, wondering what’s going on, and her life suddenly changes – forever.

Nothing will ever be the same.

Author Bio:

My friend Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. She worked in both civil and criminal law, state transportation, and a city building department.  She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona.

She wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A past member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was also the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.

Marja writes two mystery series: The Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries, which are light reading with a touch of humor. She also occasionally writes stories that aren’t part of a series.

Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder!

She now lives in Washington, where life is good.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


by Jackie King

I’ve come to that wonderful/dreadful time between books that every author must face. I use antonyms to describe how I feel, and both fit. I’m excited about brainstorming new story ideas. I’m fearful that I’ll never be able to pull together the plot for another complete novel . (I always have this angst before I find an idea I like.) I’m eager to send out my latest book to readers. I’m reluctant to send out my latest book. What if the world of readers find my “child” ugly and uninteresting?

Did I mention that writers are sometimes a bit neurotic? Insecure? Apprehensive? We’re also curious, eager, and interested. Who else would choose to earn money by sitting alone in front of a terrifyingly blank computer screen?

Okay. That’s enough angst for now. That emotion will reappear at three in the morning to haunt me. Now it's time to plan promotion for the finished product and brainstorm plot ideas for the upcoming project. I love this. I hate this. Grrrr…

The book I’ve just finished is titled MURDER ON THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, and it’s set in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The town is fictional, but near the real town of Beaver and seventy miles from Guymon. The land is flat and the horizons stretch on forever; to my eyes this view is lovely. A good many people don’t agree. My ex-husband called it bleak. And it is, but bleak has character—and beauty—and strength.

I was born on these plains and spent a large amount of my childhood at my grandparent’s farm. I love the natives who are strong and smart and resilient. My characters are fictional, but they came alive in my mind in this made-up story.

First paragraph from the prologue:

“Everyone has something they want to hide, but you have more than most.” Christabel Steele flipped her hair backwards, a thing that she knew mesmerized men and annoyed women. She pictured her sleek, golden hair fanning in practiced perfection over her right shoulder. Her quarry’s eyes glazed with fear, and Christabel licked her lips, savoring the moment. Like an antelope caught in underbrush, but instead of blood, I’ll taste money.

MURDER ON THE EDGE OF NOWHERE is a story of a small town where people harbor deadly secrets from their past: blackmail, child abuse, and murder.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Linking the Past to the Present

by  Jean Henry Mead

I enjoy research, especially when I can link historical events to the present. So when I came across the Teutonic Knights, a group established in the year 1190, as well as the Heart Mountain internment camp of World War II, I worked them both into my recent release, Mystery of the Black Cross. The Teutonic Knights was formed to establish hospitals and escort pilgrimages to the Baltics and the Holy Land. The organization evolved, however, into anarchist groups, abbreviated ABC, which still support political prisoners worldwide.

During this seventh Logan and Cafferty novel, my senior women amateur sleuths discover a black cross painted on their front door, which they learn has marked them for arson, murder and terrorism. The police chief and a rogue detective, who considers himself a latter day Don Juan, figure prominently in the plot, which led me to Wyoming's Heart Mountain internment camp for some 14,000 Japanese during WW II.

I made a trip to northern Wyoming to witness the former internment camp, which I consider a concentration camp. Four of the barracks where the internees lived still remain along with a guard tower. The living conditions were deplorable, and I read interviews with some of the people who had lived there, which I included in the book.

When the war ended, each former prisoner was given a train ticket back to the West Coast and $25 to begin a new life. And Congress finally decided in 1988 and 1992 to compensate the survivors for the loss of their homes and livelihoods. The state of Wyoming also erected a monument to commemorate those who enlisted from within the camp to serve in the army during the war. 

Working both histories into the novel was easier than I had anticipated. I also included some humor and a bit of romance to hopefully balance the seriousness and relevancy to the history we're producing today.

Mystery of the Black Cross is available at in digital and print editions. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

More "rain..."

by Carola

More publishing news:

The eight Daisy Dalrymple mysteries that were translated into German a good few years ago are going to come out (in German) as ebooks. Miss Daisy resurrected...

 These are all new cover art, some more, some less appropriate! In comparison, here are the three covers for the two German paperback editions of the first in the series, Death at Wentwater Court:

And 3 covers for the second, the Winter Garden Mystery:

So different in mood! It's interesting how many wildly varying views of Daisy and her adventures have appeared over the years.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Why do good people do bad things?

By Maggie Toussaint

Maggie Toussaint

One of the first-in-series mysteries in Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries, is my In For A Penny, featuring amateur sleuth Cleopatra Jones. Cleo resonates with readers because she’s got her hands full with her family, and she’s been wronged by the man she loved with all her heart.

The betrayal cut so deep that Cleo is still angry after the divorce, after Charlie married the younger woman who came between them. She turns to golf as an outlet for her frustration, whacking the heck out of the ball, not caring that her score climbs to ridiculous heights.

Golf therapy makes her feel better, as does hanging out with her golfing partner and all-time best friend, Jonette. In For A Penny opens with Cleo’s errant golf ball landing on a dead guy, and subsequently, her best friend is accused of his murder.

Turns out that solving mysteries is better divorce therapy than golf. Who better to follow the money in a small town than an accountant? Cleo knows everyone’s business, knows who has money troubles. Until the divorce she was trusting of everyone. Now her suspicions run deep.

With her eye set resolutely on the bottom line, Cleo navigates through the weeds of red herrings, failing finances, and unrequited love to find the killer and solve the murder. But, even though she thinks she’s objective, she quickly learns the things that seem black and white are more truly grayed hues of subjectivity.

The people on her suspect list are people she’s known for years, people she’d never thought about beyond the outward appearance they present or their actions. These were good people, people she saw every week at church, in the grocery store, and at community functions.

She quickly discovers it takes courage to learn people’s secrets, and it takes integrity to keep those secrets. The question in the back of her mind is “what makes this person tick?” Further, she has to ask, “Is this reason powerful enough for this good person to have done a bad thing?”

The answers she finds are surprising, which makes for a compelling read. Mystery fans love characters who resonate with them, characters who are genuine even if they’re offbeat.

As an author and Cleo’s creator, my challenge was to layer means, motive, and opportunity for the villain of the piece throughout the story. Another challenge was to frame every suspect with both fatal and redeeming flaws and to have some of them rise above the flaws, while others succumbed to temptation and misdeeds.

Thankfully, book characters are like real people. The reasons they do some things aren’t linear, and their actions don’t always fit their pattern of behavior until you know their history or life experiences. Understanding character backstory and keeping it off the pages of the book until the absolute last possible second is crucial to engaging readers and keeping them hooked throughout the story and series.

That brings us full circle. Why do good people do bad things? The same reasons bad people do bad things: greed, power, lust, revenge, jealousy, anger, love, and self-defense, to name a few.

At least one character in Cleo’s first mystery gave in to temptation when it knocked on his/her door. This person thinks they have it made, until the bubble bursts. Then they’re bewildered by the consequences and wish they had their old life back.
Can a character (or a person!) experience defeat, humility, and contriteness and return to the straight and narrow path? My answer to that question unfolds on the pages of In For A Penny, one of the 10 full-length cozy mysteries included in the Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries, a collection of full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in the set is the first book in an established multi-book series—a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars. Titles include:

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery by Lois Winston—Working mom Anastasia is clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction until he permanently cashes in his chips and her comfortable middle-class life craps out. He leaves her with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a loan shark demanding $50,000. Then she’s accused of murder…

Murder Among Neighbors, a Kate Austen Suburban Mystery by Jonnie Jacobs — When Kate Austen’s socialite neighbor, Pepper Livingston, is murdered, Kate becomes involved in a sea of steamy secrets that bring her face to face with shocking truths—and handsome detective Michael Stone.

Skeleton in a Dead Space, a Kelly O’Connell Mystery by Judy AlterReal estate isn’t a dangerous profession until Kelly O’Connell stumbles over a skeleton and runs into serial killers and cold-blooded murderers in a home being renovated in Fort Worth. Kelly barges through life trying to keep from angering her policeman boyfriend Mike and protect her two young daughters.

In for a Penny, a Cleopatra Jones Mystery by Maggie Toussaint—Accountant Cleo faces an unwanted hazard when her golf ball lands on a dead banker. The cops think her BFF shot him, so Cleo sets out to prove them wrong. She ventures into the dating world, wrangles her teens, adopts the victim’s dog, and tries to rein in her mom…until the killer puts a target on Cleo’s back.

The Hydrogen Murder, a Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—A retired physicist returns to her hometown of Revere, Massachusetts and moves into an apartment above her friends' funeral home. When she signs on to help the Police Department with a science-related homicide, she doesn't realize she may have hundreds of cases ahead of her.

Retirement Can Be Murder, A Baby Boomer Mystery by Susan SantangeloCarol Andrews dreads her husband Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than having an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it—until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach.

Dead Air, A Talk Radio Mystery by Mary Kennedy—Psychologist Maggie Walsh moves from NY to Florida to become the host of WYME's On the Couch with Maggie Walsh. When her guest, New Age prophet Guru Sanjay Gingii, turns up dead, her new roommate Lark becomes the prime suspect. Maggie must prove Lark innocent while dealing with a killer who needs more than just therapy.

A Dead Red Cadillac, A Dead Red Mystery by RP DahlkeWhen her vintage Cadillac is found tail-fins up in a nearby lake, the police ask aero-ag pilot Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher is found strapped in the driver’s seat. Lalla confronts suspects, informants, cross-dressers, drug-running crop dusters, and a crazy Chihuahua on her quest to find the killer.

Murder is a Family Business, an Alvarez Family Murder Mystery by Heather HavenJust because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez, has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve.

Murder, Honey, a Carol Sabala Mystery by Vinnie HansenWhen the head chef collapses into baker Carol Sabala’s cookie dough, she is thrust into her first murder investigation. Suspects abound at Archibald’s, the swanky Santa Cruz restaurant where Carol works. The head chef cut a swath of people who wanted him dead from ex-lovers to bitter rivals to greedy relatives.

Buy Links

Bio: Southern author Maggie Toussaint loves writing mysteries. She’s published twelve novels in mystery and romantic suspense. Under the pen name of Rigel Carson, she’s published three dystopian thrillers. Bubba Done It, book two in her dreamwalker series, is her latest mystery release. The next dreamwalker book, Doggone It, releases October 2016. She’s a board member for Southeast Mystery Writers of America and LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

It never rains but it pours

by Carola

Since December, only one month has passed without one of my Daisy Dalrymple mysteries staging a reappearance in one form or another. First came four new audiobooks, the 8th through 11th in the series. Last month it was a reissue of the second, The Winter Garden Mystery, in trade paperback, over 20 years after it first came out in hardcover--and with brand new art. These are some of the covers it's had over the years:

Yes, THREE German editions!

The latest, coming out in the UK on June 2nd, is the paperback edition of Daisy's most recent adventure, Superfluous Women.  (It won't be out in the US in paperback till September.)

So--NOTHING coming out in July or August? Unless the proposed Russian translations of the first three in the series unexpectedly materialize.

Then another 2 months until the fourth Cornish mystery, Buried in the Country, makes its first appearance in hardcover and Kindle--in both the US and UK--in December.

What a year!