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SOMETHING DEADLY ON DESERT DRIVE: Release day blog post featuring Kris Bock!

Chat with Kris Bock, author of the Accidental Detective series

Something Deadly on Desert Drive brings back Kate Tessler, an injured war correspondent forced to return home to Arizona. Kate and her quirky gang of sidekicks have new problems to solve. Kate’s father and his coffee group are worried. Their friend Larry married a younger woman who now claims he has dementia. They think she’s lying. Before they can dig out the truth, a murder raises the stakes, and Kate’s father is among the suspects. To save him and Larry, Kate must reveal the real murderer – but her investigation could put all their lives at risk.

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PRESERVING THE EVIDENCE: Release day blog post featuring Kaz Delaney!

What Is It About That Small Town Setting? 

When I was growing up there was one sentence my mother continually used and it was all it took to keep me on the straight and narrow. Those words were, “Remember, there’s always someone around who’ll see what you’re doing – and they’ll tell me.”

Of course, my mother’s admonishment was issued to keep me safe—for the most part—but I knew also that if I did do something silly, neighbors would not only tell her, but they’d tell each other. The whole town would know faster than a brushfire can race through dry tinder, which in her eyes would be as bad as my misbehavior.

And so, it was true. She would find out—and I’d be in trouble.

I grew up in an outer suburb, an older community in the town in which my father had been born – and I was subsequently also born (in a house run by a midwife which was in the next street to where I grew up!) My grandfather was one of ten children, nine boys and one girl, and almost all of them had settled in the town and raised their own large families there. One reason for them continuing to settle in that town was because my grandfather and his brothers owned the local coal mine that employed many of the men in the area, including my father and his siblings and seemingly dozens of cousins. Additionally, my great grandfather had been the Lord Mayor.  So, not only was it a smallish community, I was also part of a well-known family.

I could stand on our back steps and look out in one direction across huge fields owned by my extended family, and if I turned directly right or left I saw the homes of my relatives. An aunt lived next door. Next to her was a cousin of dad’s and his wife and family.

In the other direction I saw the homes of two great uncles and two more belonging to more of my father’s cousins and their families. In that same street, but out of sight, was my grandparent’s home.  My elementary school and the local park were mere steps away.

The long main street boasted three pubs (bars) which serviced the thirsty miners, two movie theatres, a rotunda, the doctor’s rooms, a milk bar that sold the iciest milkshakes ever, and a long strip of mom and pop owned stores. The library was out of sight and up around a corner. For a number of years my mother and aunt owned and operated a European delicatessen.

The elementary school I attended had also been attended by my father and his siblings, and a whole host of his cousins; I was just the next in a long line. Of course, by the time I’d become a teenager, the town had fallen prey to an issue often found in many outer lying areas – too many kids with nothing to do. And so they started getting into trouble.

I’d been spared this by being sent away to boarding school, and then by eighteen I’d moved away from my hometown and as things worked out, I never returned to live there again, making my life in other bigger towns, finally settling with my husband in a coastal town. However, while I’m not sure I miss that particular town of my childhood, something must have clicked in when I was young, because I have always dreamed of living in a small community. Smaller even than the one I grew up in.

Is that why I write about them in my cozy mystery series? The Hart of Texas Murder Mysteries is set in the fictional rural town of Airlie Falls—named for falls that have long-since dried up—in North Central Texas, and I’ve found I’m not the only one who loves that small town setting. My readers love it too, and I’ve had so many of them tell me that they’d love to live there; and that vicariously living there through the books is like being ‘in a big warm hug’.

Lately, several things have made me ponder my own feelings as well as those comments from readers. One was a workshop on Creating a Book Series I gave just this week. All through preparing that presentation, I was drawn to one question: what brings a reader back to a series? I had my own theories, but I asked around; asked other authors who also create series – and the answer wasn’t really a surprise.

Naturally there are many elements that may bring a reader back – great characters, overarching story questions, the challenge to solve a mystery— but overwhelmingly the one word that continued to come up was ‘community’.

Yes, it was that sense of community referred to by those readers, and the very thing that at the heart of my own dreams. And it’s not something really new. In the Cheers theme song – that successful television series from the 80s – the popularity of that bar was to be somewhere ‘where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came’.

I also believe that in this cyber age, as well as in an age where the place you live is often not the place you work and play, that old fashioned sense of community is becoming more and more alien to many people. Remember when COVID-19 first hit and we were all in isolation? People who had lived next door to neighbors for many years suddenly learned their names for the very first time. That was shocking in so many ways.

Again, is this why we create our stories in these small settings? No, it’s not the only reason, there are myriad of good solid reasons to do so, especially in cozies that contrast with the stark, impersonable tone of big city crime stories. But, okay, maybe it’s true that we can only stretch the small town community so far with regards to creating our cozy mysteries. I mean, how many people can we murder without running out of victims, right? Even Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote had to eventually move to New York, right? So, it’s good to remember that a small community can be anywhere. It can, and often is, a retirement village, a doctor’s practice, a café, community college, a B&B, a craft group, a hotel… The list goes on.

Basically, I think most of us want to be a part of something, and our stories can give others that, even if just for the time they spend in our books.  A small town or limited setting where if someone went missing, others would immediately know. A place anchored by trust; a place where no one imagines the bad things can happen – but they can and do. A place whose sheer ordinariness makes it remarkable. A place where, if you mess up, someone will tell your Mom…

I hope you enjoy your time visiting Airlie Falls in Preserving the Evidence, the latest in the Hart of Texas Mysteries. The people there will welcome you with open arms; someone will always have your back. Of course, there’s always the chance that hand at your back might also be holding a knife, but rest assured it will be adorned with a pretty bow. After all this is the south, and even murderers are expected to abide by certain standards. Wink…

 

About the Author

Award winning YA & children’s author, Kaz Delaney, and her alter ego, have currently sold 73 titles between them over a 26 year career.

Her books have won many awards, among them the prestigious Aurealis Award for best paranormal and ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) awards. Her novel ‘Dead, Actually’ (Allen & Unwin) was nominated for a Davitt Award, (Best crime novel, Sisters In Crime) in the YA section.   Dividing her time between teaching and writing, Kaz formerly tutored Creative Writing for CSU’s Enrichment Program as well as teaching and creating courses for the Australian College of Journalism.

Having always had a love of cozy mysteries, Kaz is having so much fun writing her Hart of Texas Mystery Series for TULE Publishing, that she worries it’s not legal!

With their family grown and gone, Kaz lives with her wonderful husband at beautiful Lake Macquarie, Australia, a place she describes as a strip of land between the ocean and lake.  Like Rosie, Kaz loves to bake and grow vegetables and unlike Rosie, manages to make a mess of every crochet task she undertakes.

Tule Author Q&A: Melinda Di Lorenzo writes the ending first!

Melinda Di Lorenzo stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the second book in the Trinity Calhoun Mystery series, No Safe Haven!

Where did you get the inspiration for No Safe Haven?

No Safe Haven was a story that was in my head BEFORE I wrote Can’t Go Home, the first book in the Trinity Calhoun Mystery Series. I just didn’t know it was Trinity’s story. I can’t tell you where, exactly, the inspiration came from because it started with the ending, and I don’t want to give away any secrets!

 

No Safe Haven is a mystery book, but you also write romances. What is different about writing mysteries vs romances? Which one do you enjoy more?

Hmm. Well, since I write a lot of romantic suspense, the two flow naturally for me. Mysteries require more puzzle pieces of plot, and romances require more puzzle pieces of character. (Maybe? Lol.) I don’t like one more than the other. Sometimes, I’m in the mood for the twists and turns of something murderous, and sometimes, I’m in the mood for writing mystery/suspense. 😉 

 

Are your characters set before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? What did that development process look like for No Safe Haven?

Before I start, I usually know how I’m going to end. So quite often, the whole process is setting up my characters for that twist that’s coming. This was very much the case with No Safe Haven. I knew exactly how things would wind up, so I needed to drop in all the clues and make sure Trinity didn’t figure it out too soon.

 

Free Person Writing On A Notebook Beside Macbook Stock PhotoIf you could spend the day with your heroine, Trinity Calhoun, what would you two get up to?

Goodness. I think I’d be too nervous to spend the day doing what Trinity does, so I guess she’d have to join me for a day of writing. Maybe I could interview her for tidbits for my next suspense book!

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, and it is EXCELLENT. It will be a 5-star read for me, for sure. 

 

About the Author

Melinda is an Amazon bestselling author, whose additional work includes titles for The Wild Rose Press, Amazon Encore, and Harlequin. She writes in a range of romance genres, from heart pounding heat, to nail biting suspense, to gutsy adventure.

Melinda lives on the beautiful coast of British Columbia, Canada, with her amazing and quirky daughters and her handsome hero of a husband. When she’s not writing, she can be found curled up with (someone else’s) good book, on the running trail, or at the soccer pitch.

InD’tale Magazine Reviews Hush, My Darling

InD’tale Magazine reviewed Winter Austin’s Hush, My Darlingthe second book in her Benoit and Dayne Mystery series!

“Suspense, thrills, and chills will keep readers glued to this page-turning sequel in the Benoit and Dayne Mystery series! “Hush, My Darling” offers up a cast of strong, intelligent women who refuse to back down – even when the odds are against them…”Hush, My Darling” grips the reader from the start and never lets go in this emotionally-charged, heart-stopping suspense thriller!”

Check out the full review here!

Get your copy today!

A ROMAN SHADOW: Release day blog post featuring H L Marsay!

I was thrilled when a reviewer recently wrote that he was enjoying the Chief Inspector Shadow series, particularly because he felt the city of York was a character in its own right. I couldn’t agree more. When writing A Roman Shadow, the fourth book in the series, the city continued to be an integral part of the story and provided me with much of my inspiration. This mystery features two things York is famous for: Romans and chocolate.

Although the Romans may have left York fifteen hundred years ago, their influence is still felt. The Minster is built on the site of what was the Roman fort and outside is a statue of Constantine, who was declared Emperor in York and was the first Christian Roman leader (apologies for the twenty-first century scaffolding in my photo). There is also a popular pub where you can see the original Roman baths while enjoying a pint of beer or a gin and tonic.

A Roman Shadow opens with the Chief Inspector and his sergeant, Jimmy Chang, investigating a theft of coins and jewellery from the Roman museum. As he tries to solve the crime, Shadow has to contend with an incompetent museum director, his scheming wife and two security guards dressed up as Roman soldiers. Even Jimmy starts behaving strangely. Then when a young Chinese tourist disappears things become yet more complicated.

A Roman Shadow also features an artisan chocolatier whom Shadow takes an instant dislike to and an eccentric café owner from a fictitious family of confectioners. We learn too that Shadow’s mother moved to the city after she was widowed, to work in one of the chocolate factories.

York may never have been as industrial as some other northern cities like Sheffield or Hull, but it is famous for manufacturing one product. Chocolate! This was thanks to the excellent transport links and many Quaker families who were keen to promote hot chocolate drinks as an alternative to alcohol.

During the nineteenth century, the Rowntree’s, Terry’s and Craven families all opened factories and soon began producing popular sweets such as KitKats, Chocolate Oranges, Fruit Pastilles and Quality Street. There is even a museum dedicated to the story of chocolate in the city. Sadly, today there is only one factory still operating in York, but if we are lucky and the wind is blowing in the right direction, the delicious aroma of chocolate still fills the air.

 

About the Author

H L Marsay always loved detective stories and promised herself that one day, she would write one too. She is lucky enough to live in York, a city full of history and mystery. When not writing, the five men in her life keep her busy – two sons, two dogs and one husband.

 

The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet is a Mary Higgins Clark Award Nominee!

Major congratulations to Katherine Cowley whose historical mystery novel, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet, is a nominee for Mystery Writers of America’s Mary Higgins Clark Award!

The 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2021. The 76th Annual Edgar® Awards will be celebrated on April 28, 2022 at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square.

Good luck, Katherine!

Tule Author Q&A: Melinda Di Lorenzo found inspiration on a road trip!

Melinda Di Lorenzo stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fist book in the Trinity Calhoun Mystery series, Can’t Go Home!

 

Aerial Photography of Pine Trees on the MountainWhere did you get the inspiration for Can’t Go Home?

This story has been in my head for AGES. It started while I was on a road trip with my family. We were travelling through the mountains when I imagined a small town hidden there—the kind of place designed for secrets. I started telling my husband about it, and before long, I had the whole plot mapped out. That’s a rarity for me, since I prefer not to outline!

 

What kind of research did you need to do for this story?

As usual, I relied on my police contacts to get (and take liberty with) info about procedure. But since Whimsy is a completely fictional place, I got to let my imagination run wild!

 

Trinity Calhoun is such a strong female character. Where did you draw inspiration for her? How do you relate to her?

I love Trinity. I love the little voice she has inside her own head, reminding her of the rules while also encouraging her to break them. Trinity is funny. Sure of herself in her work. Unsure of herself in her personal life. She has a soft spot for people from her past. And I’m certain she gets her facetious remarks straight from me.

 

What was your favorite scene to write and why?

I have two favourite scenes. The first appears on the opening page—the phone call that starts it all. The second is right near the end, so I won’t give it away!

 

Prologue

A crackle over the line.

“Trinity?”

“Yes?”

“Trinity Calhoun?”

“Asher?”

A too-long moment of silence.

“Professor Phillip? Is…Are you there?”

“Trinity…do you remember Sylvia?” 

A chill.

“You mean Savannah.”

“Yes. Yes, that’s right. Savannah.” A throat clear. “But do you? Remember, I mean.”

“Yes. Of course.”

“Trinity, I need you to come home.”

A pause.

“Home? Asher…”

“Trinity. I need you here.”

“What do you mean?”

“Can you come?”

“I can. But—”

A click.

“Asher? Are you there? Asher?”

Dead air.

 

What are you currently reading?

My current read is Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens. It also happens to take place in a small mountain town, and like me, Ms. Stevens is a Canadian author.

 

About the Author

Melinda is an Amazon bestselling author, whose additional work includes titles for The Wild Rose Press, Amazon Encore, and Harlequin. She writes in a range of romance genres, from heart pounding heat, to nail biting suspense, to gutsy adventure.

Melinda lives on the beautiful coast of British Columbia, Canada, with her amazing and quirky daughters and her handsome hero of a husband. When she’s not writing, she can be found curled up with (someone else’s) good book, on the running trail, or at the soccer pitch.