KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON by Carole Brown ~ a review

knight-in-shining-armor

 

KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON is a a cozy foodie mystery, yes. Yet it goes beyond that to become a psychological cozy tackling the issue of domestic abuse thoroughly, but also in a manner that won’t distress readers of cozies and classical mysteries. This is a well written story.

Sir Joel Peterman, an actual British knight who is a bonafide gourmet chef, is mistaken for a new hire dishwasher and gets off on the wrong foot with Starli Cameron, the owner of Apple Blossoms restaurant in West Virginia.

Starli has a lot of issues. She was severely abused by her deceased husband and as the novel opens is being stalked and threatened by her police officer brother-in-law. P.O. Roland Stratton, well respected in the town, blames her for his drunken brother’s deadly car crash. Then there’s the sulking assistant chef, the scheming kitchen worker, and the cloying banker who is in love with her. There are more twists and turn and red herrings than you can shake a spatula at.

The novel captures small town business rivalries to perfection. The culinary aspects of the novel ring true. After a break in at the restaurant where the freezer has been deliberately left open, Joel knows exactly how to save the meat. I particularly liked his menu ideas and wanted to eat dinner at Apple Blossoms.

Amazon Purchase Link

DESERT DUET by Debra E. Marvin ~ a Christmas novella

Desert DuetHaving Christmas stories out in print is such a cheerful feeling during the holiday season. So, I’m thrilled to be interviewing Debra E. Marvin about her newly released historical Christmas novella, DESERT DUET.

Nike:  You once told me DESERT DUET was “mystery lite”. What do you mean by that?

Debra:  I enjoy romantic tension in a story and a happy ending, but I love mysteries first and foremost. Because Desert Duet is part of a collection by Forget-Me-Not Publishers, I knew readers would expect romance. Myself? I wanted to play with a light mystery plot. There’s a suspicious death, a crime or two, and good reasons for the hero and heroine to figure it all out, but mystery is certainly not the dominant plotline. That’s for another day!

NIke:   Give us an insight into your main character(s). What does he/she do that is so special?

Debra:  DESERT DUET has my version of a classic, old-Hollywood movie couple. Eugene is a nice guy who’s taken a chance on pursuing a dream career rather than sticking with something solid. He’d like to be sure he’s done the right thing—but that remains to be seen. Thea is confident with good reason, and modern for 1933, not because she’s ahead of her time, but because she’s already learned some lessons the hard way by her early 20s. Like Cary Grant and Claudine Colbert, or Tracy and Hepburn, Eugene and Thea had an instant meshing…a need to tease each other. I just had to keep up!

Nike:  Any amusing story to tell about the writing of this novella?

Debra:  I’d done quite a bit of online research. (1933, Humbug, AZ, an abandoned mining camp up in the Bradshaw Mts.) I discovered the Castle Hot Springs Hotel, a getaway resort and spa for the wealthy, starting before 1900. One of my best friends lives in Arizona, so we planned a road trip ‘for research’. Off we went on unpaved roads, miles up into the mountains. “Off the grid” territory. Just as I warned her we should be “getting close” to what’s left of the resort, we came around a curve and saw the transplanted palm trees in the distance. It was a magical moment to share. My characters go to a Christmas dance at the hotel. There’s nothing better for an author than to experience what you imagined your characters experiencing. Please check out my Pinterest page and see what I mean.

Nike:  If you could have lunch with your favorite author (living or dead) who would it be, and why?

Debra:  Right now, it would have to be Louise Penny, author of the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines mystery series. I’m completely hooked. I read a few out of order (I borrow audiobooks from the library) before deciding I needed to start over with book one, Still Life. She’s just delightful, and her writing is amazing. Audiobooks have one drawback though—you get to work in the morning and you don’t want to turn off the vehicle and get out! It seems I’m always at a ‘good part’ when my journeys end! She writes weaving, multi-threaded mysteries with a cast of characters that keep me entirely enthralled. Lunch with her at the Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City would be my choice! Can you set that up?red bowLet’s get a sneak peak of DESERT DUET, or as Debra puts it: a Merry Christmas from Humbug. Wish You Were Here!

It’s 1933 in the good old US of A. In the midst of drought, the Depression, and gangsters on the lam, America finds solace in Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Ex-pilot Eugene Tanner, determined to pen the lyrics for the movie industry’s first “Best Song” award, books a rushed December stay at the remote Humbug Creek Guest Ranch (A Gold Mine of a Getaway!) Where better to find inspiration for an epic Western, than amid all that trail dust and burnt coffee?

Thea Knight gives up her short holiday break from the studio’s costume department to play cowgirl hostess at her family’s struggling guest ranch. But instead of helping their witty and handsome guest, she becomes his biggest distraction. Old flames and past regrets take a backseat when the pair become embroiled in a ghost town mystery marring Humbug, Arizona’s rustic Christmas. Thankfully, the cowgirl is as fast with her Winchester as she is with her comebacks.

Amazon

Debra E MarvinDebra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She’d like to live a wee bit closer to her grandchildren, but is thankful that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor.

Other than writing light-hearted romances and gritty gothics, she has rather normal obsessions such as fabric, peanut butter, vacations, British dramas, and whatever mystery series she’s currently stuck on.

Website, Debra blogs at Inkwell Inspirations, Pinterest, Facebook

SABOTAGED CHRISTMAS, Book 1 of The Appleton, WV Romantic Mysteries by Carole Brown ~ interview

Sabataged Christmas

 

I love holiday mysteries. And the cover of this one is intriguing. So, I can’t wait to get into the interview…

 
Nike: How do you know when you’re NOT a romance writer?

Carole:   When your critique partners laugh at your attempts. It actually began as my first–and only–attempt at writing romance. I wrote three “romance” books as one effort, but always knew they were not as they should be. Lol BUT when the opportunity opened up for me to begin another mystery series, I asked my editor what she thought about a “romantic mystery” series, she loved the idea. Edits and a lot of work went into getting this first one ready for publication, but I’m happy with the results. The timing was right for this to be a Christmasy timed book (and I’ve wanted to write a Christmas book!) and the cover leans that way nicely. It’s turned into a fun, lighthearted cozy mystery that will warm the readers’ hearts on a cold evening.red bowNike:   Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Carole:   As the co-protagonist wonders, “Who is this woman?” A classy woman, business owner, casual construction worker, simple homemaker or Italian princess? Toni inherited her father’s construction business and runs it with a loyal group of workers. She loves the country side but also loves to dress up and have a night out. She loves to cook and garden, but equally loves to drag race and restore antique cars. She’s a happy-go-lucky, friendly person with an Italian temper and a longing for the right person to fall in love with. And she has a strong faith.red bowNike:   If you were going to have a particular holiday song as the theme song for your novel when it’s made into a movie, what would that song be? Who would sing it? And why?

Carole:   Maybe–“Last Christmas”. It speaks a lot of Perrin’s heartache and bitterness over his wife’s betrayal and how hard it is to trust another person to treasure the gift of his heart and love. So important in relationships! The song would be a good fit, I think.red bowNike:   If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about the series?

Carole:   Next on the list (probably spring of 2016 is KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON. Starli Cameron, the widow of an abusive husband is caught in a cruel spider web of threats against her person. The threats seem to be coming from her brother-in-law (her husband’s brother), but are they? Could it be her hot headed assistant cook, and surely not the suave and attractive new chef straight from England with all his awards and his title . . . Could it?

Third book will be UNDESCOVERED TREASURES (tentative title) featuring the third friend from Appleton, West Virginia–Caroline Gibson–and the man she definitely does not admire or want in her life. But when his best and most prized art painting goes missing, her kind and loyal heart insists she jump into the action and help Andy find the thief.  After that, I’m planning on moving on to three handsome men who need their stories told. red bowA quick peek at SABOTAGED CHRISTMAS

Toni DeLuca, the Italian owner of DeLuca Construction, finds herself confronted with doubts about her father and his possible deceptions–all because of the mysterious pink notes she’s receiving.

Relations with Perrin Douglas who has a troubled history—but the first man in years who’s interested her–is building to a peak. Yet Perrin‘s own personal problems and his doubts about women and God, keep getting in the way.

Gossip, a Spanish proposal, an inheritance, and a sabotaged construction business all converge to play a part in ruining Christmas for Toni’s employees. Will the mysterious person behind it all succeed in pulling off the biggest scam Appleton, West Virginia has ever seen?

Will this culprit destroy Toni’s last chance at happiness with the man of her dreams?

Buy the book here:  Amazon red bow

Carole Brown
Carole Brown

Brown not only has her award winning (2015 Winner of the USA Best Books Award, 2015 Small Publishers Book Award, RWA International Digital Award finalist, Clash of the Titles Laurel Awards finalist, Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchas

A companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel is also available.

The first book in her Denton & Alex Davies mystery series, Hog Insane and Bat Crazy, the second book are fun, lighthearted novels that not only deal with the mysteries the Davies land in, but relationships too.

The first book in a new WWII Spies Romantic Suspense series, WITH MUSIC IN THEIR HEARTS are nostalgic, warm-hearted books that place readers firmly in that era. Three red-headed sisters. Three spies. Three stories.

This month, Brown is releasing the first book in a new series, The Appleton, WV Romantic Mysteries: SABOTAGED CHRISTMAS.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?
Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/browncarole212
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=67381031
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113068871986311965415/posts
Stitches in Time: http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/
Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/

Pamela S. Meyers ~ Cozy Mystery Writer, an interview

Thyme For Love

Things move so rapidly in fiction publishing, it’s hard to keep up with authors. That’s why I’m so glad to have Pamela S. Meyers as a guest today. Let’s get to the interview and find out what’s been happening in her life.

Nike:  Like you, Pamela, I started out with a publishing company and then independently published. Tell us about that journey.

Pamela:  My first two published books were with a small press. Last January, at my request, I received back my rights and began the process of publishing THYME FOR LOVE, the first of the two books. Going indie has been a new experience, but I am finding it fun and not near as daunting as I thought it would be. I plan to start editing the second book very soon, LOVE WILL FIND A WAY, which is a sequel and get that one released.

I do have another book LOVE FINDS YOU IN LAKE GENEVA, WISCONSIN, which was published by Guideposts/Summerside in 2013 and that is still available on line. This was the book of my heart because I was so blessed to write a story set in 1933 in my hometown. I came to appreciate my roots much more than ever before through the research and learning things about my town I never knew before. I don’t live there now, but am blessed to only be about an hour’s drive away.

P Meyers, River Thru TreesNike: All of my novels have foodie sub-themes. I just love mysteries with a culinary twist. Tell us how you got the idea for THYME FOR LOVE and how you developed it?

Pamela:  I wrote the first draft of the story over six years ago. I love cozy mysteries and wanted to target a new cozy line that also wanted romance woven in to the story. I already knew I wanted the story set in an old mansion on a fictional lake close to my hometown. And I wanted her to be a chef. I brainstormed the plot with an author who had written mysteries and she helped me come up with the idea of my heroine working for a nonprofit organization that is housed in the mansion and she would take a daily snack cart around to the employees, many of them with unique personalities. She also helped me with red herrings and other things.

Nike:  What are the things you like most about your heroine?

Pamela:  My character April Love has the same sense of humor I do and I like that she’s spunky and determined. I also like that she’s also vulnerable and that she grows in her faith in God as she works through dealing with suddenly having her ex-fiancé in her life and him being framed for murder. I’m not giving away a spoiler. That’s on the back of the book LOL.

Nike:  Now for personal questions…what were you like in school. Tell us one of your fave school memories? BTW, were you good in English?

Pamela:  I was very sociable in school. In other words—chatty. LOL. I made okay grades, but did not make the honor role. After high school I went on to a state college, but I needed to grow up a bit before going to college. I had a great time there on the weekends, but I found myself back home the next year and working as a bank teller. I learned typing and other office focused skills and worked as a secretary, which later became administrative assistant. I finally returned to college some 20 years later and enrolled in a fast-track adult program. I actually got all A’s and discovered my ability and desire to write while there. I graduated in 1994. My mom wasn’t alive to see it, but my dad was. It was thrilling to see him beaming. He died four years later, right after my first paid article came out in Today’s Christian Woman Magazine. I didn’t think I did that well in English, but when I looked at the graduation program my major in communication was there and so was a minor in English. I guess all the writing classes I took were enough for me to qualify for that. I laughed about it.

Nike:  Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Pamela:  Of course I would love to meet Jesus in person, and I know I will when I go to heaven. Other than Him, I’d like to meet Amy Carmichael, the missionary to India during the late 19th Century. I love her writings. She was bedridden after an accident for the rest of her life and God used her beyond her years on earth through her writings. She is so insightful and so full of the Spirit and blessed that way. I’d love to sit at her bedside and soak in her wisdom.

Pamela Meyers

A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love Will Find a Way, contemporary romantic mysteries, and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Wisconsin and other midwestern spots for new story ideas.  http://www.pamelasmeyers.com                       Pamela Meyers 2

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Meg

Interview with Jay Mims on Christian Authors Writing in the General Market

The Gray Ghost InnI’ve been seeing a lot of discussion about Christian authors hoping to cross over into the general market…and also about Christians who are writing exclusively in the general market. So, naturally, I’m thrilled to have Jay Mims here today, as he’s a Christian who has been writing in the general market arena for quite a while. He’s the author of the cozy mystery, THE GRAY GHOST INN, which has been said to be shades of Agatha Christie without the solemnity. It also appears that Jay is a Dr. Who nut.

Nike: I understand that THE GRAY GHOST INN is not Christian fiction, yet you bring your Christian values to the story. Would it be fair to say there’s an underlying Christian sensibility at work?

Jay: I think it’s hard for me to write anything without my own personal values and sensibilities influencing the work. I’m blessed to have a wide variety of readership, including both my Mama and Grandma, and I’ve always had to pause and go “Are they going to enjoy reading this?” I think it’s this sensibility that has allowed me to develop my own personal writing style. It’s best described as family friendly, with sprinklings of snark and sarcasm, while at the same time tackling often very adult issues such as love, marriage and relationships.

 

Nike: I tend to use a lot of humor in my own writing and most often my quirky characters are Christians. My understanding is this THE GRAY GHOST INN gets a bit zany and is quite funny. Tell us about that. Would I be correct in thinking your characters do not necessarily have a religious or faith persuasion?

Jay: I would definitely warn readers, this is not a religious or “Christian fiction” book. And I should say, when I think “Christian fiction”, I think of the Amish Romance books written by Beverly Lewis. Which, I have a friend who LOVES those books, and I would also like to point out, she enjoys my books.  So, if you enjoy the work of Beverly Lewis, you MIGHT enjoy my books. My characters are human, flawed, and quite flirty. Dan Landis, the lead and a lovable P.I. tends to run off at the mouth and oozes personal charm. He also has a very cynical worldview, which I’m happy to report, changes over time thanks to the more positive influence of his partner Abbey. I think that would be the biggest appeal, and the closest connection for Christian readers, the developing relationship between Dan and Abbey. Abbey is actually a deeply spiritual character, and is also, in my opinion, the heart of the books. Abbey’s a PK, highly intelligent, and often a klutz. She doesn’t have Dan’s pop culture knowledge, but she also provides a very bright light into his life.

 

Nike: I’d like to know a bit about the relationship your PI Dan Landis has with his new partner? It seems she has a tendency to get him into trouble.

Jay: That’s a great question! Dan and Abbey have a fantastic relationship, and both play well off each other in terms of getting into trouble. I always consider Dan to be a trouble-magnet: In Five Santas, Dan keeps stumbling across bodies dressed in Santa Claus outfits, in Cult of Koo Kway he finds a body in his kitchen, and in Gray Ghost Inn Dan goes on vacation and behold, there’s a body in the library! At the same time, Abbey is just as much a trouble-magnet. But, most of her trouble comes from her tendency to take people at face value, her earnest and loving nature, and a general air of kindness. For me, that’s Abbey’s most important value as a character, because she brings the light of hope to Dan’s life. It’s always been my philosophy that, even in a murder mystery, readers still want hope.

 
Nike: The norm as far as romance, sensuality and language is very different in the general market. How do you handle that in your cozy novel?

Jay: My books do tend to have elements of love and romance in them, in as much as all life has subtext of love, romance and complex relationships. I have strived to make the friendship and relationship between Dan and Abbey to grow organically, to develop slowly, and to build things between them over several books instead of smashing them together. It’s important for readers to understand: These books are very G/PG. Murders take place exclusively off-screen, there is no nudity or sex, and almost no language. I won’t say there is never any profanity ever, because one of the most memorable conversations with my Mama happened as a result of The Five Santas. She called me up and said “I like the book, but I don’t appreciate you using foul language.” I paused and went “What language?” She replied, “You used the word bast***.” So, if you are offended by that word, you might not enjoy my books. Now, let me make something clear when it comes to sensuality. Dan is a very flirty individual, and that shows in his interactions with multiple characters. There is a very electric undercurrent of sensuality running between Dan and his friends, however, it doesn’t extend beyond the barest of innuendo. So, if you can watch a sitcom such as “Big Bang Theory” or even “Three’s Company”, then you’d definitely enjoy my books.

 

Dr. Who, Malek

Nike: Last but not least, would you call yourself a Dr. Who fanatic? And tell us about your roommate Steve, the passive-aggressive Dalek. Oh, and what’s a Dalek?

Jay: I absolutely love Doctor Who. I actually blogged (http://themimsey.blogspot.com/2014/03/trust-me-im-doctor-five-lessons-i.html) one time about how much influence that show has had on my life personally, but let me summarize for your readers: Doctor Who is a show about an alien, The Doctor, who believes that every problem has a solution and violence is never the answer. He travels through time and space in his blue phone box, The TARDIS, and always tries to help people. As Craig Ferguson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9P4SxtphJ4) sang, it’s a show about how intellect and romance will always triumph over brute force and cynicism. He’s a force for good, and if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend catching an episode or two. But be warned, just like potato chips, that thing is addictive. Daleks are the arch-nemesis of The Doctor. They’re a species that became so twisted and filled with hate that they wrapped themselves in a machine body and refuse to see the light of day. Their entire goal in life is to exterminate all life. EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! They also make fantastic relaxation instructors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJSQFzw1pEE
Steve, the passive-aggressive Dalek came from a running gag between myself and my friends, about the concept of “What if you had a Dalek for a roommate?” And inevitably, it had to be a passive-aggressive roommate, who would leave you notes like “YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN THE MILK! AGAIN!” or “THERE IS NO TOILET PAPER IN THIS HOUSE! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!” Again, if you have never heard them talk, you have to first listen to how a Dalek speaks for those sentences to have their desired effect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bua6g79Pf5o

Jay Mims

 

It’s obvious that Jay Mims is a very interesting fellow.

 

Purchase Links for THE GRAY GHOST INN:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1oH7jeM

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/Oscdvg

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1emdg77