Friday, November 30, 2018

Interview with mystery author Rosemary Simpson

Welcome, readers. My special guest today is Rosemary Simpson. We’re chatting about her new historical mystery, Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets (A Gilded Age Mystery).

Rosemary Simpson is the author of two previous historical novels, The Seven Hills of Paradise and Dreams and Shadows, and two previous Gilded Age Mysteries, What the Dead Leave Behind and Lies That Comfort and Betray. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Historical Novel Society. Educated in France and the United States, she now lives near Tucson, Arizona.

Welcome, Rosemary. Please tell us about your current release.
Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets is the third book in the Gilded Age Mystery series, set in New York City in the late 1880s. Opera singer Claire Buchanan shows heiress Prudence MacKenzie and ex-Pinkerton Geoffrey Hunter a postmortem cabinet photograph of her deceased twin sister and newborn niece. Claire is convinced that a double murder has been committed by the cold, controlling widower, Aaron Sorensen, who swiftly remarried. His second wife is already pregnant and may be in terrible danger. In order to discover the truth and find evidence of guilt, Geoffrey probes Sorensen's past while Prudence casts herself as his next victim—putting her own life at grave risk.

What inspired you to write this book?
Postmortem photography was extremely popular during the era in which the novel is set. Black-bordered cabinet photos and cartes de visite served to announce and memorialize deaths, especially the passing of children. There was also a belief that the soul flew out of a person's mouth at the moment of death, and photographers vied for the distinction of being the first to capture the image of a departing soul. I imagined a photographer so obsessed with that idea that he hastened the deaths of mortally ill individuals in order to seize the moment of the soul in flight. And that's where the plot was born!

Excerpt from Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets:
The woman Josiah ushered into Geoffrey Hunter’s office was tall and slender, elegantly dressed in a gown that could only have been fashioned in one of the couturier salons of Paris. The high-necked black wool afternoon costume gleamed and glistened with elaborate designs of jet-beaded passementerie, rosettes, twisted cording, and finely worked braid, its severe perfection lightened by a fall of snow-white lace from the interior of the narrow sleeves. The perfectly pointed V waist and naturally contoured bustle were the epitome of the latest European fashion as pictured in Godey’s Lady’s Book.

“It’s wonderful to see you again, Prudence,” she said. “I hope you’ll forgive me for declining your supper invitation last night. The rehearsal schedule has been brutal.” The women exchanged
kisses on the cheek in the French fashion; then Claire held out a gloved hand to Geoffrey. “I hardly recognize you when you’re not lurching about on the deck of a ship.” Her speech was lightly accented, as though she had spoken English as a child, then lived abroad for many years.

She accepted the cup of coffee Josiah handed her, settling herself into the chair he placed in front of Geoffrey’s desk. With one penetrating look she seemed to take his measure; the
slightest of nods indicated he would do.

“Thank you again for last night’s tickets to Aïda,” Prudence began.

“It wasn’t the best of performances,” Claire said. “There’s no point pretending otherwise.” She gestured toward the folded Times. “I see you’ve read the review.”

“Will Frau Schröder-Hanfstängl continue?”

“Everyone gets bad reviews occasionally. There was a rumor for a while that she was considering a teaching position at one of the conservatories, but nothing came of it. All performers grow thick skins. We wouldn’t survive otherwise. So, yes, she’ll sing for the rest of this season at the Met and probably for years to come.”

“I’m sure you can’t help but wish it were otherwise,” Geoffrey said. He knew that some artistes spent their entire professional careers singing minor roles or lost in the chorus, waiting for the chance that never came.

“Prudence mentioned that you’re a former Pinkerton agent, Mr. Hunter.” Claire Buchanan deftly sidestepped his comment.

“The Pinkertons claim to be the best detectives in the world. Is that true?”

“It’s a well-deserved reputation,” he answered.

“I hadn’t realized there were lady detectives until Prudence told me about your partnership and that Allan Pinkerton had hired female operatives,” Claire continued. “You were kind aboard ship not to ask questions about my personal life. I’m sure I made it obvious I wouldn’t welcome them.” She smiled an apology. “I wasn’t keeping secrets to be deliberately mysterious. I thought that if I didn’t talk about it, the pain would eventually lessen. So I taught Prudence the tarot and avoided all mention of what I’ve lost.”

“How can we be of assistance, Miss Buchanan?” Geoffrey asked. Josiah had been right, as usual. Their shipboard acquaintance had come to the office today with the intention of becoming a client.

The opera singer reached into a velvet reticule whose passementerie matched the patterns on her dress. She took out a black cardboard folder slightly larger than her hand. “Open it,” she said, giving the folder to Prudence. “A part of me dies every time I look at it.”

The cardboard was of the thickness used to mount and protect photographs, the two covers tied together by a narrow black silk ribbon. On the front was an embossed design of intertwined lilies surrounded by a stand of cypress trees, popular symbols of mourning throughout the Western world.

“Is this what I think it is?” Prudence asked. She’d seen cabinet photos like this one too many times not to recognize what she’d been given. She glanced up in time to catch a twitch of aversion cross Geoffrey’s face.

“Please undo the tie.”

Prudence opened the folder. Inside, mounted within an oval cutout decorated with the same motif of lilies and weeping cypress trees, was the photograph of a young woman holding in her lap a perfect infant. Eyes open, tiny features composed and expressionless, the child had been posed with its head lying against the mother’s bosom, as though to be comforted by the sound of her heartbeat.

Except that both of them were dead when the photograph was taken.

The lifeless woman was Claire Buchanan.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The fourth book in the Gilded Age Mystery series, Death Leaves a Shadow, will be released by Kensington in late 2019, and I'm working on the fifth volume. No title yet. I'm also developing another mystery series and crafting a standalone historical novel.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I've always written. I can't remember a time when I wasn’t writing. For me, the writing life started with a journal. When I occasionally go back and read some of the entries, they almost always include mention of a storyline I was developing.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time now, and I start the day by listing the non-writing things that have to get done. Meetings, appointments, all of the commitments I can't postpone. Then I decide when I can work in blocks of time for concentrated writing work. I end up with a schedule that I try to stick to as much as possible, and which is slightly different day to day. It's also important to allow time for the research I do as a writer of historical fiction. And no writer should starve himself of reading time. That's vital!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Probably the detailed spreadsheets I keep of daily time and word counts. I also write short summaries of every chapter and ongoing character development profiles.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be either a writer or an actress because it meant you could live in so many different worlds of the imagination.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
When I'm writing I feel transported into another place and time. My goal is always to take the reader along with me.

Thanks for being here today, Rosemary. Happy writing!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Interview with thriller author C.B. Samet

Novelist CB Samet joins me today to chat about her new thriller, Gray Horizon.

During her virtual book tour, CB will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops, too.

Christina is a practicing physician, mother of two boys and a terrier, and wife to a caring and supportive husband.

“I grew up reading Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, and the Bourne books. I write seeking to create that level of action and intrigue but with female heroines. I love the quote, ‘She needed a hero. So she became one.’ My novels have empowered women overcoming powerful obstacles and the strong men who support them.”

Welcome, CB. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Sworn enemies. A stolen nuclear weapon. And the clock’s ticking.

When Dr. Lillian Whyte learns a nuclear weapon is on the loose in Europe, she collides with a ruthless mercenary from her past. Isolated from her husband, a former CIA operative, Lillian tries to covertly help track the weapon. As she joins the race to stop the bomb, she is drawn into a deadly game of chase. Despite her efforts, those intent on global catastrophe remain one step ahead of her.

As Lillian faces the fears of her past and deadliness of the present, can she secure the future of the world?

What inspired you to write this book?
I began the Dr. Whyte series seeking to create the thriller and action of Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, and Dan Brown but with strong female lead characters. I love the quote, “She needed a hero, so she became one.” The main character, Lillian Whyte, is a tough and quick-witted ER physician who doesn’t back down from a threat. Each book is a stand alone the way the many Jack Reacher novels are.

Excerpt from Gray Horizon:
Ivan’s eyes roamed up and down her, appraising her fight stance.
Lillian’s heart beat wildly with fear and anger. How many times had she sparred with Sean and imagined she was fighting Ivan? Defeating Ivan. She had wanted her own retribution. He had killed soldiers, kidnapped her, and then hunted her. She had imagined showing him she was no longer afraid. She wasn’t the same woman who had cowered before him in Kenya. Now, face-to-face with his frightening physique she had to summon every ounce of her resolve to not cower.
Who was she kidding? She was no match for him.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have another series in the works—The Rider Files—with books 1 through 3 out and book 4 in the writing phase.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing since high school, but I would say I didn’t consider myself a “writer” until I published my third book. Perhaps that is some form of ‘imposter syndrome,’ but it took years to embrace my passion and call myself a writer even after book releases and book sales.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write part time—mornings, evenings, weekends, and plane rides.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Despite all the technology at my disposal (iPad, iPhone, MAC), I usually hand write my scenes before transcribing them into the computer. In front of a screen, my mind goes blank, but give me white paper and a pen and it’s game on.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’d known since the age of thirteen that I wanted to be a doctor. Yet, I also knew I had a creative side I wanted to explore and develop. As such, I was a history major in college while pre-med. To some that may seem bizarre, but a physician and English major once wrote inspiring words about studying something else you enjoy because you will get all of the science and medicine you need in medical school. I feel gaining a background in history helped me understand the human condition before I had to bury myself in molecules and organelles and cadavers.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Interview with cozy mystery author duo J.C. Eaton

Today’s special guests are the writing duo behind J.C. Eaton (Ann I. Goldfarb & James E. Clapp). We’re chatting about their new cozy mystery, Botched 4 Murder.

New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, they have authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington), The Wine Trail Mysteries (Kensington Lyrical Underground), and coming in August 2018, The Marcie Rayner Mysteries (Camel). In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name. Visit the websites at:
When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching. Visit the website at

Welcome! Please tell us a little bit about Botched 4 Murder.
Amateur sleuth Sophie (Phee) Kimball is at it again, only this time at the Sun City West bocce courts when her mother’s friend, Myrna, is convinced she killed someone with a lobbed bocce ball that managed to get into the adjoining golf course. Naturally, there’s a dead body, but it wasn’t a bocce ball that felled the victim – it was a bow and arrow!
To make matters worse, the community is all a-buzz with the latest proposal from one of its board members – turn the golf courses into eco-friendly parks. With more threats than imaginable, Phee’s worried the golf course victim won’t be the last.

What inspired you to write this book?
This is the fourth novel in our Sophie Kimball Mysteries, set in the retirement community of Sun City West, Arizona. We’re always seeking out potential “hotspots” for murder as well as motives. The motive came easy for this one – we read an editorial from someone in our community who wanted to turn all of the golf courses into eco-friendly parks. Imagine the outrage it caused! Then, while walking our dog near the bocce courts, we watched one lady lob her bocce balls all over the place. Jim immediately announced, “She could kill someone with one of those!” and that’s how the novel began!

Excerpt from Botched 4 Murder:
That particular Saturday in February was unlucky. It wasn’t that the ladies were more annoying than usual, it was the men seated at the table across from them. Mom’s neighbor, Herb Garrett, was surrounded by his pinochle buddies–Bill, Kevin, Kenny, and Wayne. I got to know them this past fall when my mother decided she and her book club would take part in the local theater production of Agatha Christie’s The Mouse Trap. When the men weren’t playing cards, they worked on construction and lighting for Sun City West’s theatrical troupe. And when they weren’t doing either of those things, they were complaining.
The men had their noses buried in newspapers, and all I could see were a bunch of bald heads with one exception–Wayne’s. He was the only one who still had all of his brownish gray hair. There was less conversation at the men’s table but more grunting. That was, until they noticed my mother. It seemed each one of the men suddenly had a beef they thought she should deal with. It started with Bill Sanders, who got up from his seat just as I was about to bite into my toasted poppy bagel with cream cheese.
“Psst! Harriet! I need a word with you. Good. Myrna Mittleson’s not here yet.”
My mother said “excuse me” to the group and swung her chair around.
It didn’t matter. Bill’s voice was loud enough to be heard in Idaho. That was three states away, no matter which route you took from Arizona.
“You’ve got to do something about Myrna. She’s destroying the bocce league. Not to mention the havoc she’s wreaking on our team. For criminy sake, Harriet, can’t you talk her into quitting? Maybe convince her to take up knitting or something?”
“Knitting? Are you nuts? Myrna’s all thumbs. Besides, she loves bocce.”
Bill let out a groan that made Cecilia Flanagan flinch and pull her black cardigan tight across her chest. Louise Munson and Lucinda Espinoza furrowed their brows and gave Bill nasty looks before returning to their food.
“Yeah,” he said. “She may love bocce, but she can’t toss the blasted ball. Lofts it all over the place. Last week it bounced into the miniature golf course next door and took out one of the blades on the windmill. And the week before, it bounced out of the bocce court and wound up on the garden pathway. That’s right next to the pool. Luckily it didn’t hit someone in the head or they might have drowned.”
“It can’t be all that bad. Besides, these things happen,” my mother said.
“Not every day! Not every time people play! Look, I hate to be blunt, but Myrna’s a menace. She’s a regular Amazon. All of us are scared to death when it’s her turn. She tromps up to the start line as if she’s about to throw a javelin. And no matter how many times we tell her to gently toss the ball, she heaves it like a shotput. I’m begging you, Harriet, please get her to quit. The Sun City West Bocce and Lawn Bowling Tournaments begin in three and a half weeks and she’ll get us disqualified.”
“You know I can’t do that. Plus—”
“Forget about Myrna and bocce ball,” Herb shouted, throwing his newspaper on our table, nearly knocking over glasses of water and cups of coffee. “We’ve got real problems in Sun City West. Did you read this article? Did any of you read this article?”
Then he motioned to his own table. “Check out Sorrel Harlan’s editorial on page fourteen. The one that says ‘Turn those golf courses into eco-friendly parks.’ That woman is insane. I always thought she had a screw loose, but it was her own screw. Now that she got appointed to the recreation center board of directors, she’ll be turning it on all of us!”

What exciting story are you working on next?
We’re juggling another Kensington series for Lyrical Underground and are finalizing Sauvigone For Good.

It’s winter in the Finger Lakes and time for the annual Chocolate and Wine Festival. Reluctant winery owner Norrie Ellington is counting the days before her sister and brother-in-law return from Costa Rica so she can relinquish the winery reins to them. Meanwhile, she’s got a chocolate festival to run and this year the winery association invited three master chocolatiers from Europe to do presentations at the wineries. Unfortunately, no one told Norrie they were rivals of the worst sort. When one of them is found dead with an empty glass of Two Witches’ Sauvignon in his hand, Norrie must scramble to find the killer before her winery’s reputation melts like the fine chocolates they planned to serve.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Ann’s been writing for eons, but for Jim, it came the moment they decided to collaborate on Booked 4 Murder, the first novel in the Sophie Kimball Mysteries.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
We write constantly! Sometimes on pieces of scrap paper or napkins when we go out to eat, but most of the time at home – Ann at her desk in our spare room and Jim on the laptop or tablet paper, or anything he can find. We don’t have set hours but try to maximize the time we have. Sometimes it’s only a half hour but other times, it can be the entire day. Living in Arizona where it hits the triple digits from June – August, we write in the afternoons because it’s impossible to go outside!

We thought we’d have lots of time on our hands as retirees, but we were wrong – dog park activities, exercise classes, swimming, eating out, book clubs…it never ends and we love it!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
More like styles, than quirks. Ann has to work in absolute silence in her office. Jim can have a marching band in front of him and it wouldn’t matter. He writes with the TV on or music playing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Ann always wanted to be a teacher or a writer. She’s thrilled she was able to do both. Jim is still deciding…

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Co-authoring our cozy mysteries continues to be the greatest fun for us. We had to work around some kinks, like Ann preferring first person POV and Jim wanting third person POV. (Ann won!). We toss around ideas like crazy, practice ad lib dialogues that eventually get into print, and come up with the looniest characters based on composites of family, friends, and neighbors. For us, humor is paramount in our books. We want to keep our readers laughing and guessing. We’re both avid pet lovers and share our home with a neurotic Chiweenie that we based Streetman (Sophie Kimball Mysteries) on, as well as five quirky cats who drive the dog nuts. The goat and Plott Hound in the Wine Trail Mysteries are based on two of Ann’s brother’s pets. We’re got enough animals in the family to keep us going for a while!


Thanks for being here today! All the best with your writing projects.