Posted in Reading and Reviewing

Siren by Celina Grace

I would like to preface my review for my cozy mystery fans with the fact this is not a cozy mystery. I do like to read all kinds of genre and my tastes occasionally run to something a little more hard hitting.

This is the first book I have read by Celina Grace but it won’t be the last.

Kate Redman has a boyfriend recently moved to New York and a busy life as a British detective. While pondering a move across the pond a new case heats up her life when a respected business man is found murdered in a sadomasochistic way.

This is the ninth book in the Kate Redman Series but I felt this book could be read without reading the first eight although it makes me want to go back and forward. Well written with many twists and turns it kept me reading late into the night. I would give it four stars. As a mystery writer I am always trying to figure out the whodunnit and the author cleverly keeps you guessing.

The Siren

Simon Farraday was a respectable business man; successful, wealthy and with a loving wife and family. He was also heavily into sadomasochistic sex with virtual strangers, judging by the manner of his brutal, squalid murder.  

Detective Sergeant Kate Redman could do without the complexities of this case, coping as she is with trying to maintain her long-distance relationship with her boyfriend Tin, deal with her recurrent attraction to her boss DCI Anderton and support her friend DI Mark Olbeck in his efforts to adopt a child. But investigating a case with such dark undercurrents of desire and jealousy means that the solution to the mystery may hit just a little too close to home…

Siren is the ninth book in the bestselling series The Kate Redman Mysteries, from crime writer Celina Grace.

Amazon

Selina Grace

Posted in Book Reviews, Reading and Reviewing

Clearing the Course by Diane Weiner

It is no secret that I like Diane Weiner’s Sugarbury Falls series. It is my favorite of her two series. I have been remiss in posting this review. I finished the book as soon as it B1DEGTNeYKS._UY200_came out because of course, I wanted to be one of the first to review and then life got in the way. I want to apologize for this being so late.

I have grown to love the main characters in this series, Emily, Henry, and Maddy. They are likable and I think the adoption story resonates with many. Not only is this mystery set in the idyllic cozy town but it weaves a tale of a family secret buried which endangers the lives of the entire Fox family.

If I can’t connect with the characters in a mystery and I don’t begin to care about them as any series progresses then I lose interest. A reader will not lose interest in this series. If you haven’t read the first two books, A Deadly Course and Murder of Course then I urge you to buy the set. You won’t be disappointed. I have Clearing The Course five stars.

CLEARING THE COURSE

51Wf+ergdeL

The Fox family returns from Scotland to find Sugarbury Falls mourning the mysterious death of a young college student. When teenager Maddy’s friend Robby is accused of the murder, Emily and Henry try to clear his name. After all, they’d do anything to help their newly adopted daughter. The more they investigate, however, the less certain they are of Robby’s innocence. With a detour leading to a long-buried family secret, the path of the investigation is convoluted and dangerous. Can they clear the course and arrive at the truth, or is it too late?

 

ABOUT Diane Weiner

Diane Weiner is a veteran public school teacher and mother of four children. She has enjoyed reading for as long as she can remember. She has fond memories of reading Nancy Drew and Mary Higgins Clark on snowy weekend afternoons in upstate New York and yearned to write books that would bring that kind of enjoyment to her readers. Being an animal lover, she is a vegetarian and shares her home with two adorable cats. In her free time, she enjoys running, attending community theater productions, and spending time with her family (especially going to the mall with her teenage daughter and getting Dairy Queen afterward). Murder is Homework is the latest (book 9) in the Susan Wiles School House Mystery series and Clearing the Course (book 3) is the latest in her Sugarbury Falls series. A Deadly Course won an Eric Hoffer finalist award last year. Murder is Collegiate is currently on the shortlist for the Chanticleer Murder and Mayhem Mystery Award. Follow her at dianeweinerauthor.com or visit her Facebook page at dianeweinerauthor.com

Reviews are important so if you like this book leave a review on Amazon or wherever you bought the book.

Posted in Reading and Reviewing

Feeling stressed? Try not to multitask

My latest column

Sprinkled Notes

my mindMy column in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel the week of November 8, 2018

I am a multitasker. It is a habit I need to break, but it comes so naturally. I do not know I am doing it. Multitasking got me in trouble the other night.

I told my friend Jane I would pick her up for a church event. Later in the afternoon, she and I, and another friend, Julie, were texting about the evening. At the same time, I was texting in another thread with an author friend, and I was also texting with my son. No, I didn’t mix up the texts between threads; I mixed up the texts between people on the same thread.

I thought Jane told me she would meet me at the event. But it was Julie who was driving herself. I saw the J and went with that…

View original post 723 more words

Posted in Reading and Reviewing

Check Out Ten Minnesota Authors

Sprinkled Notes by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune and Courier Sentinel the week of October 18, 2018

One of the blessings of writing this column and being an author is meeting my readers. This past weekend I was at the Deep Valley Book Festival in Mankato. I met some fabulous authors and interesting people. This coming weekend the big book event is in Albert Lea.

Sweet Reads Book Store in Austin is sponsoring a book event with 10 southern Minnesota authors at the Interchange Coffee House in Albert Lea on Saturday, and I am one of them.

Small, independent bookstores are making their comeback in our society today, and Sweet Reads is very supportive of local authors. Besides myself, Sherrie Hansen, Sean Williams, Benet Stoen, Judi Bergen, Chris Norbury, Margaret Smolik, Jeffo Oilman, Lydia Emma Niebuhr, and Karl Shaper will be in attendance.

Not only will we be displaying and selling our books, but we will also be on the authoring stage for 20 minutes apiece explaining our various genres and talking about our writing. I get to start off the morning at 10 a.m. and it will be cozy, meaning cozy mysteries. Do you know what they are? I didn’t until I wrote one and was accepted by a cozy publisher, Cozy Cat Press. I was amazed to find out it is a popular category in the fiction world.

Maybe you have heard of us, or maybe these names are new to you. My problem with attending a book event is that I want to buy all of the books. Did I mention I tingle when I am in a bookstore or library? We all know about the New York Times best-selling authors and those from large publishing companies whose names and books are advertised in every magazine and online by their publishing companies. We always tend to gravitate toward these books because we feel they must be the best because we see them front and center constantly in the media.

I encourage you to read authors you have never heard of. I find by taking a chance on an unknown author, I read some of the best literature and novels. The difference between these authors not being recognized is because small publishing companies do not have the capital to advertise, and independent authors also do not have the means of promoting their books because of lack of ways for exposure. It’s work to get your name and book out there. Big stores like Barnes & Noble do not always carry small publishers or independent authors’ books because of return policies. Small publishing houses cannot meet their requirements or they would be out of business. Always ask if you can’t find the book, because they can be ordered from the store on an individual basis.

There are many books by unknown authors that are not on the New York Times best-selling list or have not won any awards but are award-winning reads in readers’ minds. What many do not know is the costs involved for a book to be considered for an award — again, small publishing houses and authors do not have the money to enter their book for the prestigious awards. The same can be said for reviews by esteemed reviewers such as Kirkus reviews. It can cost an author $425 for them to review your book. It may pay off in the end, but many independent authors and small publishing houses, again, can’t afford the cost.

What I am saying is to not write off an author or a book because you don’t see that award sticker or prestigious review on the book. Instead, read online reviews of the book by readers or talk to the author or take a chance on one book —  you may want to buy the next.

Anyone can publish a book these days, and there are those clinkers out there which are badly edited and loosely put together, but I always feel they do not have the support in a good editor — because editors, too, are expensive. But these authors had a dream and their dream has been realized — to see their book in print.

I will never be in the category of William Kent Krueger or Allan Eskens. There is a difference between a great author and a good author. I will put myself realistically in the good author category because some people do like my books. I will never win any awards, as I don’t try for any, but I have been in the top 100 Amazon Cozies with my books and I have been No. 1 occasionally when my new books come out. That is enough for me.

The best reward for my writing is to meet my readers, get to know them and see what they enjoy reading. Their lives count and so do their stories. Every person has a story in their lives. It may yet be written.

Come down on Saturday to Sweet Reads and meet the authors, share your stories and let us get to know who and how we influence your lives. The event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Interchange. Visit for a short time or stay for the day.

“Authors by the hundreds can tell you stories by the thousands of those rejection slips before they found a publisher who was willing to gamble on an unknown.” — Zig Ziglar

Take a gamble on an unknown

Posted in Reading and Reviewing

Digital is the Name, More Markets is My Game!

granny_hooks_a_crook_4Just in case you are interested Granny Hooks A Crook is now available in e-book in more digital stores. Here’s the link. https://books2read.com/u/4Eya0e It is also available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Granny-Hooks-Crook-Fuchsia-Minnesota-ebook/dp/B00DVL2CVU 

 

Posted in giveaway, Reading and Reviewing

It’s Hard To Be An Author

IMG_0300

I always dreamed of becoming an author. It was one of those romantic dreams of a career that you think is never going to come true. I didn’t, and when it did I thought I still was in a dream but let me tell you though I love what I do there, is nothing romantic about it.

Being an author is hard work for little pay unless of course you are one of the big names such as Catherine Coulter, John Patterson — who put in years of sweat equity to get them where they are today.

I was lucky and was offered a contract with Cozy Cat Press in 2012 for my first book, Granny Hooks a Crook. Since then I have published four more books File Mar 03, 7 57 13 AMwith this publishing company and I have also branched out into the independent publishing world with my two other series, The Brilliant Minnesota Series and The Granny Is In Trouble Series. The Fuchsia Series and the Brilliant Series are for adults and the Granny Is In Trouble Series is for kids and those adults young at heart.

Since I was blessed and kind of fell into this I had no idea about editing, promoting and how to keep my readers happy. It was learn-as-you-go with a lot of help from other authors and mentors. I have enjoyed the ride.

No, I am not telling you I am wrapping up my writing, just the opposite. I am finishing the sixth book in the Fuchsia, MN Cozy Mysteries for Cozy Cat Press and then I will work on the Brilliant Series. I have started another series totally different from these two ones, though it will have some humor it will be more down to earth. I haven’t named it but right now I am calling it Angel just so I can recognize where I stored it. And I am working on a devotion book incorporating my watercolor into it.

However I am changing some of the ways I do things. At some point I have to relieve my stress of trying to do it all, which means writing, editing, promoting and having a life. Though I love Social Media it overwhelms at times. I love connecting with my readers so I hope they will hold on through the changes.

The publishing world has changed since I started in 2012. There are more self-published books out there. Authors, trying to get noticed are doing giveaway after giveaway, even gift cards, to attract readers to their books. Our e-books are either free during these times or prices at $.99. Though my books sell well I have to look at the use of my time and whether I value what I write and what I do, and I value my worth. I spin my wheels along with author friends on how to get our name out there and promote, and again it is overwhelming and I am not sure it works. I am tired. I want to write, create and paint and feel valued for my accomplishments rather than feeling the only way someone will buy my work is if it is free or on sale.

I am opting for trust in my readers, trust God will get me moving forward to be successful and opting for more peace in my life and my writing.

It takes me at least three to six months to write a book if I want to be picky, and make it have heart and humor. I can’t just churn out book after book without feeling I compromise what I write for the sake of expediency and sales. For some very talented authors this works. It isn’t me. It isn’t who I want to be.

When I started I looked at the way my author friends were writing and structuring their books and I was in awe. I tried to conform to the way they were doing it and I failed miserably and I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t me. We each have our own style and our own gifts and we need to be true to ourselves to write and reach others.

Where am I going with this long…long post? Today August 30 and August 31 all my Kindle e-books are $.99. The books, including the first one in the series will go up to regular price after that with occasional sales. I am going to eventually take all off of Kindle Select and go with wide with Kobo and other venues. I am branching out. It is a reality I have to make somewhat of a living from writing but I also live to write and so I am feeling a sensation of calm by making this decision. Can I live with you if I am homeless? LOL just kidding.

I value all of you who are reading my books. I value all of you who have told others and by word of mouth have sold my books. I hope you follow my blogs and my author pages as I will be connecting still through Social Media and occasional newsletters but I will be writing more and on Social Media less. It is time to take back my writing life and hope others value my work above $.99 and free giveaways and gift cards, although occasionally I will surprise you on my blog with some fun and a sale or giveaway.

Happy reading and don’t forget what is happening on my blog and Facebook page the next two days — Audiobook Giveaway and a Sale of my  e-books. Like Granny would say, “I can’t do it unless I do it and I make up my mind that silly and old makes me want to go bold. It’s bold and old so the story can be told.”

IMG_0645

Amazon Sale

IMG_0637

Go to the blog post before this one to enter.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Marvelous Guests, Reading and Reviewing, Releases

Meet My Narrator Beth Kesler

It’s almost here. Granny_Pins_A_Pilferer_jpeg (3)Granny Pins A Pilferer will be out in audiobook within the next week. I have a new narrator for my series. Priscilla Finch who did an outstanding job narrating my other books decided to take another way with her career and so that left me looking for someone new that could interpret my vision of my books. Enter narrator Beth Kesler. She brings a new flair to the series. You might note some of the characters take on a different flavor or tone as far as dialect and those will be written into the future series books. Up until now, we haven’t delved too far into some of the other characters in the books such as Lulu or Ditty Belle but in the future, you will learn more about them.

Now I would like you to meet Beth Kesler.

Beth-1Interview with Beth Kesler

Please tell me a little bit about Beth Kesler.

Although I’ve spent most of my life in Ohio, I’ve had many chances to broaden my worldview through travel: to China and South Korea as a student, to Australia on a job exchange, to Canada for culture, and most recently to Nigeria to visit friends.

How did you get into producing with ACX?

As a novice voice actor, it was a way to break into the audiobook narration scene without having to have the “credentials” one needs with big publishing companies.  As a matter of fact, I was officially on ACX only 24 hours before an author contacted me and asked me to narrate her series of three novels!  I didn’t even audition – she heard my demo and liked it enough to hire me.

What makes you decide to audition for someone’s book?

Would you think less of me if I say that I judge a book by its cover?  Anyhow, that’s where it starts.  I do read as much of the book as I can get my hands on to see if it sounds interesting, is well-written, and is something I could hear myself contributing to.

Is this your career or are you a master of many talents?

This is currently my career.  I do voice-overs of many kinds.  In addition to audiobooks, I do radio and TV ads, online videos, eLearning, public service announcements, award show announcements, telephony, and cartoon voicing.  Before I worked as a voice actor, I taught English as a second language for many years at two different Ohio universities.

You are producing and narrating Granny Pins A Pilferer for Julie Seedorf. What is the most difficult part of narrating this book? What was the most challenging?

The most difficult part for this book was trying to create not only the distinct voices for 29 characters but keeping them reasonably consistent throughout the novel.  In the final chapter, which lasts only three and a half minutes, there were 13 characters speaking!

How long have you been doing this?

I’ve been a full-time voice actor for four years.

What tweaks your creativity?

Well-written books make my job so much easier.  When I can get lost in a novel, I hear the characters’ voices in my head.  Then I just have to make them come out of my mouth!

Do you have something that tries to distract you when you are working such as a shyster or a furry creature? Or do you lock yourself away?

Yes, my furry distraction is named Bitsy!   IMG_0018She’s a 6-pound Yorkie and would be perfectly happy having me cuddle her and play ball with her all day long.  But she’s learned to be good when I’m recording, and naps on the small sofa in my studio.

Are we writers difficult to please?

No, not usually.  I had one author who was also a screen director, and he found it difficult not to direct my entire performance.  I must admit, that the direction he did give me was great!  Only once was I unable to work with an author.  She didn’t know what she wanted until she heard what I’d recorded, and then decided it was “all wrong”, and “couldn’t you just do that one more time?”  After 6 chapters like that, I suggested she find another narrator.  I hope she did – it was a clever book!

What advice would you give to those wanting to get into the field or to an author who is scared to try and look for a narrator for their book?

For narrators, listen to other audiobooks and learn from those who do it well and those who do it badly.  Then practice, practice, practice:  read aloud to your microphone, read to your family, volunteer to read to kids at the library.  Then get as much training as you can afford.  A professional coach is invaluable.

What are you working on now?

A young adult science fiction novel called 51l7jMKyhGLBaily Chatham and the Time Crystals by G.R. Zee.

 

 

 

I like to end my interviews with an author’s favorite quote. What is yours?

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13

 

Listen to my work at bethkesler.com

And you can find the Fuchsia Series Audiobooks and the first book of the Brilliant Cozy Mystery Series of mine at Audible and Amazon.

Comment on the post for a chance to win a free copy of the audiobook Granny Pins A Pilferer when it comes out on Audible, Amazon and Itunes.

Posted in Book Reviews, Reading and Reviewing

Dark Side of the Loon by Twin City Sinc Members

51PNDbVTVNLWhere History Meets Mystery. Dark Side of the Loon is an anthology of short stories by my friends and colleagues from the Twin Cities Sisters In Crime. Alas, I am a part of this organization but…I do not have one of my stories in this book. Why? Because I am very shy about trying to write a short story. I am so wordy I am not sure I could do this but my Sisters and some Brothers in Crime write the perfect stories in the perfect settings.

Dark Side of the Loon highlights historical places and happenings in Minnesota. Fur trappers, pioneers, train robbers and just strange Minnesotans. That is a compliment. We Minnesotans like our quirkiness. Ya, you betcha we do. And this book has it’s quirky Minnesota moments.

I enjoyed each and every story in this book. Yes, I know many of the authors but if you know me, that does not make me leave a good review. If I don’t like something I don’t review it. I would give this anthology five stars not just for the writing but the surprises along the way. At the end of the book I wanted more and more and…more!

This would make a perfect gift or a wonderful book for discussion at a book club or a Sunday summer read or a winter by the fireplace read. It is an all-seasons book.

While you are at it make sure you take time to search out the  other books by these authors. I will provide links. Five stars websites_1Sisters and Brothers in Crime!

 

 

 

51PNDbVTVNLDark Side of the Loon

”Minnesota nice” casts a long shadow. Dark emotions and even darker thoughts seep from these murky depths, harvested by writers whose stories take us down in flames, up in smoke, and leave us helplessly entranced by the haunting call of the loon.

Foreword by Ellen Hart, award-winning author of the Jane Lawless and Sophie Greenway series, and MWA Grand Master.

Stories by Lori L. Lake, Marlene Chabot, Michael Allan Mallory, Carol Huss, Marcia Adair, Natalie Fowler, Barbara Merritt Deese, A.W. Powers, Cheryl Lewis, Christine Husom, Cheryl Ullyot, Karl W. Jorgenson, Marcie Rendon, Sherry Roberts, Midge Bubany, M.E. Bakos, Greg Dahlager, T.S. Owen, and Judy Kerr.

Twin Cities Sisters In Crime Website

Twin Cities Sisters In Crime Facebook Fanpage

Sisters In Crime National

Ellen Hart

Lori L. Lake

Marlene Chabot

Michael Allan Mallory

Carol Huss

Marcia Adair

Natalie Fowler

Barbara Merritt Deese

A. W. Powers

Cheryl Lewis

Christine Husom

Cheryl Ullyot

Karl W. Jorgenson

Marcie Rendon

Sherry Roberts

Midge Bubany

M. E. Bakos

Greg Dahlager

T. S. Owen

Judy Kerr

Sheyna Gaylon

Christina Glendenning

Doug Dorow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Reading and Reviewing

Murder In Vail by Judy Moore

51EXvWdU5+LMurder In Vail by Judy Moore

Sally Braddock’s serene lifestyle atop a mountain in Vail, Colorado, changes drastically each year when her three spoiled children and their spouses visit her – and her money – for Christmas. They live off their trust funds, which are disappearing quickly, and spend most of the holidays bickering and hitting up their mother for money.

This year, Sally makes an announcement that sends her children into a tizzy, an announcement so extreme that it pushes someone in the house to murder. The storm inside the house

My Review

Judy Moore is a new author to me. It was one of those books that I downloaded on my Kindle and was wishy-washy about reading it. I tend to read authors  I am familiar with first when picking a book, and seem to put those I am not familiar with on my to-read list, sometimes removing it from the Kindle before I read it. I am glad I did not do this with Murder In Vail.

It drew me in right away. I had a few days of trying to to get through another book and not being able to get into it so I was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t want to put this book down.

I liked the characters and thought the family dynamics were interesting. It was a good story on what pulls families together or what pulls them apart. Along with highlighting no matter how much we differ or we fight we seem to defend our families and the Braddock family in this book is no different.

The plot was easy to follow but the mystery was not so easy to solve. I kept flopping back and forth trying to decide the guilty party. The easy style of the writing drew me in, kept me focused so much that I finished this in an afternoon. I could also identify with Sally and her questioning her parenting decisions. Don’t we all do that with our adult children?

I good read. A new author for me to explore. I can’t ask for anything more.

To find out more about Judy Moore and her books visit her Amazon page.

Posted in Book Reviews, Reading and Reviewing

Meet Author Karen Shughart

A New Cozy Author.

B1dqRR8IRuS._US230_Karen Shughart, a new author with Cozy Cat Press, has a new book called Murder In The Museum.

Murder In The Museum51oDncYUWXL._SY346_

Early one gray November morning, retired Lighthouse Cove, NY police chief, Edmund DeCleryk, finds Emily Bradford’s body on the beach at the base of the bluff where the local museum and historical society stands. At the same time, a break-in has been reported at the museum, and Emily’s coat and purse are found hanging on a peg in the museum’s gift shop where she worked. Was her death the result of a burglary gone bad or something more sinister?

When the police chief is called out of town for a family emergency, he hires Ed, now working as a criminal consultant, to assist deputy police chief, Carrie Ramos, with the murder investigation. After several leads don’t pan out, the chief, now back in Lighthouse Cove, decides to close the case. Confident that with more time the murder can be solved, Ed is determined to continue investigating on his own, with encouragement from his wife, Annie the museum’s executive director.

One morning while in the basement of the museum, the couple discovers a copy of a map dated 1785, and Ed’s instincts tell him it may be connected to Emily’s death. On a hunch, he and Annie travel to Toronto, Canada, where he learns of the original map and a manuscript written in 1847 that was unearthed during an archaeological dig. The manuscript contains information about a ship that capsized during a fierce storm on Lake Ontario — in 1785. Now Ed has clues as to why the murder occurred, but he still doesn’t know who committed the crime. Or does he?

About Author Karen Shughart

Karen Shughart has worked professionally as a journalist, writer, editor, publicist and non-profit executive. Her passions include her family, cooking, gardening, writing, photography, walking, and learning new things. Karen’s first novel, Murder in the Museum: An Edmund DeCleryk Mystery (Cozy Cat Press, April 2018) is the first in a series that takes place in Lighthouse Cove, NY on the southern shores of Lake Ontario. It is available in all Amazon formats. In addition, she is the author of two non-fiction books: The Pennsylvania Bed and Breakfast Guide and Cookbook; and Creating Special Events, from Dollars to Dessert.

My Review

This mystery takes place in Lighthouse Cove, NY. From the opening pages until the end this well-written book will keep you captivated. I especially was intrigued by the Prologue and the way the characters were introduced in the first few chapters. A museum murder and a mystery tied to happenings many years ago weave together a  plot that is perfect for a mystery tied to a museum.

You can find Karen’s book on her Amazon page.

Visit her website at Karen Shughart.com