Archives

Tule Author Q&A: Geri Krotow and her heroine were both in the Navy!

Geri Krotow stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the first book in the Shop ‘Round the World series, A Santa Stabbing!

 

Where did you get the inspiration for A Santa Stabbing

I find inspiration everywhere, and I never know where it’s coming from next. I knew I wanted to write about a woman who’d seen a lot of life but still had so much of it to live and enjoy, no matter what tragedies may have occurred earlier in her life. The town we live in, in Pennsylvania, is a constant source of story ideas for me. Add in my military background, and it seemed a natural progression for Angel Warren to be a retired Navy pilot. This is my very first mystery novel after 30+ romances and I feel right at home in my new genre of cozy (ish) mystery.

 

Welcome to Tule! Can you share a fun fact about yourself to help us get to know you?

Thank you! I love being a Tule author! I was a Naval Intelligence officer for 9 years, and then was a Navy spouse to my husband who served for 27 years. We moved all over the planet and are now happy to be in the same place.

 

Free Aerial View of Residential Area during Sunset Stock PhotoHow do you relate your heroine, Angel, and how do you hope readers will relate to her?

Like Angel, I moved to a small Pennsylvania town after being overseas and out of the mainstream of American life for decades. I totally identify with her empty-nest syndrome, as I went through that after my chicks left the nest (a decade ago now). As for her inquisitiveness, that’s natural for a writer and an intelligence professional!

 

The Shop ‘Round the World series is your first foray into the cozy mystery genre. What is different about writing mysteries vs romances? Which one do you enjoy more?

What I love about Mystery is the same thing I treasure in Romance; the characters and sense of community. The biggest difference is that I feel I need to write more tightly, to keep the focus on the mystery plot of each particular book. But fleshing out the characters, their strengths as well as foibles, remains the same and as satisfying as ever. I also like that my sense of humor has shown up more in my mysteries. 

 

Free Close-Up Photo of Christmas Tree Stock PhotoDo you have any favorite Christmas or holiday traditions?

Decorating for the holidays is always fun for me. I never know what I’ll do year-to-year. I don’t feel as compelled to put out every last decoration as I used to when the kids were tiny. Instead, I go with the flow and try to incorporate some more contemporary trends into our otherwise very eclectically traditional Christmas. I’ve enjoyed decorating for Thanksgiving more and more, too. 

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m in the midst of EverGreen Chase by Juneau Black and I just downloaded A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

 

About the Author

Geri Krotow is the bestselling author of over 25 novels of romantic suspense, contemporary romance and women’s fiction. A US Naval Academy graduate and Navy veteran, Geri’s strong heroines are reader favorites. Geri’s Shop ‘Round the World series with Tule is her cozy mystery debut.

Tule Author Q&A: Katherine Cowley discusses Mary Bennet’s growth!

Katherine Cowley stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the third book in The Secret Life of Mary Bennet series, The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception!

Where did you get the inspiration for The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception?

In 2014 I read the book Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. The book is dense and took me a long time to read—at least six months—but I ended up really enjoying it. What I didn’t realize before reading Vanity Fair was that tons of women, of all classes of society, went with the British troops to Brussels before the Battle of Waterloo. While some of the women stayed in Brussels during the fighting, others accompanied the men to the battlefield.

This kernel of information stuck in my mind and became the inspiration for the novel. I wanted Mary Bennet to go to Brussels and participate in the events that led to the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte, while solving a murder mystery.

 

How has Mary changed throughout the course of The Secret Life of Mary Bennet series? 

By the third book, Mary is more confident in herself and her abilities. She’s also more able to keep going, even in the face of struggle, adversity, and heartbreak.

At the beginning of the first novel, she doesn’t have true friendships or strong relationships. By the third novel, she has developed meaningful friendships with family members and others. These friendships have become an important part of Mary’s life and have changed the way she views the world around her.

 

Mary has a budding romance with Mr. Withrow in this third installment. How did you balance the moments of romance within this mystery novel?

The first thing I did was choose a few key scenes that would focus almost entirely on the romance. One is near the end of the very first chapter, when the spies are doing kissing practice, so they can use physical affection in the field as a tool to discover information. Another is later on in the book when Mary and Mr. Withrow are learning the Viennese Waltz. And of course, there is a very essential scene at the end of the book. These key scenes gave me a chance to really explore the romance and create shifts in their relationship.

In the rest of the novel, I included bits and pieces of romance and relationship development while Mary and Mr. Withrow solve the murder mystery. Working together as partners created many opportunities to include a few lines of banter or create some tension between them. They sit in the carriage a little closer than normal; Mr. Withrow’s hand brushes Mary’s skin as he helps her with a disguise; they disagree about the best way to get information from a suspect and must later apologize.

Many of my favorite novels have a romantic subplot, where the characters build their relationship while having an adventure or solving the mystery, and I loved getting to write this sort of subplot in my novel. Every single investigation scene becomes more interesting when it’s also impacting a romance.

 

Where and when do you get most of your writing done?

I set aside time from 1-3 p.m. every day to work on this book. This was quiet time for my youngest daughter, and it didn’t matter what other life commitments or responsibilities I had pressing on me, this time was devoted to writing the novel.

I do most of my writing in my office. My desk is next to the back window of my house, and from it I can see a small patch of forest that has birds and squirrels and rabbits.

 

What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading Naomi Hirahara’s Clark and Division, an excellent murder mystery that also explores what life was like for Japanese Americans during World War II. I also recently read Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club, which is a delightful, humorous story about a group of retirees who take it upon themselves to solve a murder.

My giant to read pile is calling my name, and I’m still choosing what book I’m going to read next!

 

About the Author

Katherine Cowley’s debut novel, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet, was nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her Mary Bennet spy series continues with the novels The True Confessions of a London Spy and The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception.

Katherine loves history, chocolate, traveling, and playing the piano, and she has taught writing classes at Western Michigan University. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her husband and three daughters.

Tule Author Q&A: What if Melinda Di Lorenzo was stuck on an island?

Melinda Di Lorenzo stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the third book in the Trinity Calhoun Mystery series, Better Left Behind!

Where did you get the inspiration for Better Left Behind?

Much like No Safe Haven, this idea had been in my head for quite some time. It was only when I started thinking about Trinity as a series that I realized it was HER story, too.

 

This is the third book in the Trinity Calhoun Mystery series. What has it been like following Trinity throughout the series? 

I really like Trinity. Sometimes, my characters aren’t necessarily people I relate to. They’re interesting and I love fleshing out their lives, but with this mystery series, I really felt like Trinity was my friend by the end. (Uh oh…I’m creating friends for myself!)

 

Free A Photo Of Island Reef Of A Surrounding Lagoon Stock PhotoYour heroine, Trinity, finds herself trapped on a beautiful coastal island. If you got trapped on an island, what would you get up to?

Funnily enough, I’ve just started writing another story where the main character talks about this as a hypothetical. But, like me, the MC is a type one diabetic. Her only concern is her insulin! If I were on an island with enough T1D supplies, I might be okay for a little while. But if I was stuck there with no way to know how to get back…that’s all that would be on my mind. Insulin, insulin, and more insulin. Unless there was a murderer on the loose…then I might have other worries. 😉

 

What was your favorite scene to write and why?

Okay, I can NOT share the snippet because it gives something away. But let’s say a character is trapped in a scary place and finds something even scarier. I loved the tension of the weather raging all around and the fear that something OUTSIDE might be dangerous, but then…the real problem is INSIDE. (You know…like when the call is coming from in your house…)

 

What are you currently reading

I’m about to start Forgive Me by Susan Lewis. It was an impulse buy while I was doing a book signing at my local independent bookstore. Never heard of the book or the author, so hopefully I’m pleasantly surprised by the story!

 

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.

Tule Author Q&A: H L Marsay did so much research!

H L Marsay stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fifth book in the Chief Inspector Shadow Mystery series, A Forgotten Shadow!

Where did you get the inspiration for A Forgotten Shadow?

Usually in a Shadow book, all the action takes place in the city of York. However, in this story, I wanted to delve into the past of John Shadow, so I set the investigation in Kirkdale, the fictional village where he grew up and where his father (also a police officer) was killed in the line of duty. I liked the idea of Shadow solving his current mystery and at the same time discovering the truth about his own past.

I also wanted to incorporate the Ebor Festival, York’s most famous horse racing event and known as ‘the Ascot of the North’, so I made the victim a handsome racehorse trainer.

 

This is the fifth book in the Chief Inspector Shadow Mystery series. What has it been like following John Shadow and Jimmy Chang throughout the series? 

One of my favourite things about creating these books is writing the dialogue between Shadow and his sergeant, Jimmy Chang. I’ve loved seeing how their relationship has developed. The two of them are total opposites. Jimmy is full of energy and enthusiasm while Shadow is a world weary cynic, yet their different outlooks on life seem to compliment each other when it comes to cracking a case. Over time they have learnt to trust each other and this story even sees Shadow asking Jimmy for advice!

 

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

Oh my goodness! Guns, guns and more guns! I came up with the idea of the victim being killed during a shooting party without fully realising how much research this would involve. I spent days and days reading about shotguns, ballistics, different types of pellets and gunshot wounds. My next victim is definitely getting stabbed!

 

Where and when do you get most of your writing done?

I usually sit at our kitchen table with the laptop open, radio on, dogs sleeping at my feet and my two sons occasionally appearing to forage in the fridge. Late afternoons and early evenings seem to be my most productive time, but if I get a great idea when I’m away from my laptop, I just grab my phone and write myself a quick note.

 

What are you currently reading?

I recently attended my first book signing event at a local book shop. I had a wonderful time and I got to meet a couple of other Yorkshire-based authors so I’m currently reading their books; A Suitable Demise by Andrew Clark and The Postcard Murder by Paul Worsley QC. I also can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Home Is Where The Body Is by Jody Holford.

 

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.

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.

Continue reading

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.