Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Books Release in October and November by E. B. Davis

There are never enough Wednesdays in the month to interview all the authors whose books I’ve loved. Advanced copies are provided about a month in advance of publication, which doesn’t allow enough time to read books, write interview questions, and then allow time for the authors to respond. Grace Topping and I need at least two months for this process. (For those authors who wish to be interviewed—take this hint.) I wish publishers understood this and got on our schedule! That month gap means we can’t interview many authors who have written wonderful books. But that doesn’t mean we don’t read them.

The following books I can recommend and have been released this month or will be next month. I’ve provided the jacket copy and have also provided my comments on why I liked the book. Happy reading, everyone.                                                                                                              E. B. Davis
Is Val's breakfast pie the quiche of death?
Owning her own business seemed like pie in the sky to Valentine Harris when she moved to the coastal California town of San Nicholas, expecting to start a new life with her fiancé. Five months—and a broken engagement—later, at least her dream of opening a pie shop has become a reality. But when one of her regulars keels over at the counter while eating a quiche, Val feels like she's living a nightmare.

After the police determine the customer was poisoned, business at Pie Town drops faster than a fallen crust. Convinced they’re both suspects, Val's flaky, seventy-something pie crust maker Charlene drags her boss into some amateur sleuthing. At first Val dismisses Charlene’s half-baked hypotheses, but before long the ladies uncover some shady dealings hidden in fog-bound San Nicholas. Now Val must expose the truth—before a crummy killer tries to shut her pie hole.

As a beach gal, the setting of The Quiche And The Dead, a northern CA small coastal town, appeals to me. The main characters, Val, the pie shop owner, and Charlene, her piecrust maker and modern-style surrogate grandma, are strong female characters anyone would like. Readers sympathize with Val’s precarious finances and emotional upheaval. Charlene, a town native, knows everyone’s history, heads a reluctant Val into investigating and, in the process, transposes the roles of their employer/employee relationship. Avenging an old man’s death, finding the town’s skeletons, forming an investigative partnership, and making and eating pies—what could be cozier? Kirsten Weiss’s paranormal books are wonderful, but this book proves she’s also mastered traditional cozies.
As friends, the boisterous and brash American Beryl couldn’t be less alike than the prim and proper British Edwina. But as sleuths in an England recovering from the Great War, they’re the perfect match . . .
1920: Flying in the face of convention, legendary American adventuress Beryl Helliwell never fails to surprise and shock. The last thing her adoring public would expect is that she craves some peace and quiet. The humdrum hamlet of Walmsley Parva in the English countryside seems just the ticket. And, honestly, until America comes to its senses and repeals Prohibition, Beryl has no intention of returning stateside and subjecting herself to bathtub gin.

For over three decades, Edwina Davenport has lived comfortably in Walmsley Parva, but the post–World War I bust has left her in dire financial straits and forced her to advertise for a lodger. When her long-lost school chum Beryl arrives on her doorstep—actually crashes into it in her red motorcar—Edwina welcomes her old friend as her new roommate.

But her idyllic hometown has a hidden sinister side, and when the two friends are drawn in, they decide to set up shop as private inquiry agents, helping Edwina to make ends meet and satisfying Beryl’s thirst for adventure. Now this odd couple will need to put their heads together to catch a killer—before this sleepy English village becomes their final resting place . . .

The cover attracted me to this book. Before reading it, I had no idea that Jessica Ellicott was none other than Jessie Crockett from the Wicked Cozy Authors blog, a delightful surprise. The two main characters propel this book. They are opposites but complement each other. Recognizing that fact, they plan their investigation choosing who will have the best advantage given the suspect. Old friends know each other well despite years gone by. The secondary characters are well drawn too, but what will necessitate my picking up the next in the series are questions about Beryl and Edwina. Readers see a great deal of Edwina since the book is set in her town and house, but the old maid is an unexpected feminist, begging the question why. It may be obvious, but there could be much more there. Beryl seems in-your-face apparent, but perhaps not. The plot these ladies unravel reveals more than the murderer. It reveals how prejudice has its nefarious uses. Pull up an overstuffed chair, pour a cuppa, provide the cat a lap, and read this book on a wintry day.

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

I wish I could explain this book—but that would be a spoiler. Reading through about seventy percent of the book, I thought I was reading “Women’s Literature” because the main character, Jacks, sifts through her relationship with her late husband. Some of it is magical thinking—expected in her grief. And then…. If this first collaboration of Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke is any indication, we’ll be in for more treats. I wish I could say more—but I just can’t—read it. 

An insidious evil has taken root in the small town of Hope’s Peak, North Carolina…

In the midst of an internal investigation, the police department is thrown into chaos when Captain Frank Morelli is gunned down on his own front lawn. Detective Jane Harper suspects that someone is tying up loose ends—a conviction that only grows stronger when she witnesses the execution of another officer in broad daylight. With no one else to turn to, Jane seeks the help of psychic Ida Lane.

Ida thought she’d finally find peace after the death of the man who murdered her mother. But as the town emerges from the shadow cast by that serial killer, they discover that there is more than one monster hiding in the darkness. Desperate to lay her ghosts to rest, Ida puts her extraordinary skills to the test. Together, she and Jane must uncover the truth…or be permanently silenced like the rest.

A serial killer plagued Hope’s Peak for decades. This third book provides the conclusion and heads toward a new beginning for Jane and Ida. The brave women main characters shine in this series. Healey brings unlike characters together, but they find common ground. He puts Jane and Ida in uncomfortable roles, but they mold the roles to suit themselves. To find peace, they must change and possess the courage to face the unknown, a great beginning for the next book in this exciting series. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Importance of Saying No

by Linda Rodriguez

I have always had a hard time saying “no.” I like people, and I always want to help good causes. This has led to years of low pay in the nonprofit sector, tons of overwork, lots of volunteer hours, and on the good side, an awful lot of great friends. It also leads periodically to a terrible feeling of overload, that point I get to when I have so many urgent or overdue or essential tasks to do that I’m paralyzed. How do you prioritize when everything needs to be done RIGHT NOW?

When I get to that point, I have to move into To-Do Triage. I list everything that’s demanding my attention (and get the most depressing multi-page list). Then I move down the list, asking myself, “What will happen if I don’t do this today?” If it isn’t job loss, client loss, contract violation, child endangerment, arrest, etc., it doesn’t go on the much tinier list to be dealt with right now.

The trouble is that you can’t live your life in To-Do Triage. At least, I can’t. Not as a permanent lifestyle. Sooner or later, you have to learn to say “no.” Even when it’s difficult. Even when it’s going to hurt someone’s feelings (whether it should or not). Even when it’s something you’d like to do. At least, if you want to write, you will. Sooner or later, you have to learn to guard your time like a mother eagle with her nestlings. And sooner or later, you’ll find yourself having to relearn it all over again. At least, I do. (Maybe I’m just a slow learner, and all the rest of you can learn this lesson once and for all, but it keeps coming up in new guises in my life.)

I remember the first time I learned the lesson of no. I was a young, broke mother of two (still in diapers) who wanted to write. The advice manuals I read were aimed at men with wives and secretaries or women with no children or enough money to hire help with the house and the kids. Since there was three times as much month as there was money, hiring anyone or anything was out of the question—I was washing cloth diapers in the bathtub by hand and hanging on a clothesline to dry because we hadn’t enough disposable income for the laundromat. Yet still I wound up the one in the neighborhood who canvassed with kids in stroller and arms for the March of Dimes and the American Cancer Society.

One day someone who knew how much I wanted to write gave me a little book called Wake Up and Live by Dorothea Brande, who also wrote the wonderful On Becoming A Writer. As I read it, one sentence leaped out at me:As long as you cannot bear the notion that there is a creature under heaven who can regard you with an indifferent, an amused or hostile eye, you will probably see to it that you continue to fail with the utmost charm.”

I began carving out time and space for my writing, and to do it without shortchanging my babies, I cut out television and most of my community involvement. This lesson had to be relearned when those babies were high schoolers, my new youngest was a toddler, and I became a full-time student and a single working mother at the same time, unexpectedly. It returned to be learned again when my oldest two were grown, my youngest in grade school, and I took on running a university women’s center that also served the community. Every time it had to be learned in a different way with different adjustments. Once I’d given up television, that option was no longer open to me. At one point, I switched my writing to poetry because what time I could create or steal was in such small fragments that it made novels impossible to write.

Now that I’m writing novels again and publishing them (as well as poetry and freelance work still), one of the time-eaters is the promotion work we authors must all do to win the readers we believe our books deserve. It’s not something that can be skimped on, and yet the creative work of designing and writing new novels must go forward, as well. For a while now, each request for my volunteer time and work has had to be carefully weighed, and most reluctantly rejected. At this time, my major volunteer commitment is Kansas City Cherokee Community, our official satellite community of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, set up by the Nation for those of us in diaspora. Everything else must sadly fall by the wayside—and some people are quite unhappy about that, as if they had the right to my time and skills because I’ve given them in the past. I’ve had to learn to deal with that.

What about the time book promotion takes, however? With my first novel (this was never a real issue with my poetry books and cookbook), I said “yes” to every opportunity, every event, every guest blog, every interview, every podcast, everything. And I managed to write books during that time, as well—and had the worst winter, healthwise, in many years, having worn my body down. Now, I’m trying to be more strategic about the promotion opportunities I accept. I’m still saying “yes” to many of them—it’s part of my job, and I know that—but I’m examining them more closely and deciding against some that I don’t feel will be as useful for me. It’s hard, but once again I’m learning that lesson, which is apparently one of my life-lessons—“no” can be the friend of my writing and is necessary at times.

Charles Dickens, who was one of the earliest and most successful self-promoting writers, put it best for writers in any age when he said:

“‘It is only half an hour’ — ‘It is only an afternoon’ — ‘It is only an evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes — or that the mere consciousness of an engagement will sometime worry a whole day … Whoever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his recompense in it. I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.”

Do you find it difficult to tell others “no” when they want your time? If you’re a writer, how do you create ways to balance the promotion and the writing?

Linda Rodriguez's Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop, and The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, an anthology she co-edited, are her newest books. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery novel featuring Cherokee campus police chief, Skeet Bannion, will appear August 15, 2018. Her three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and Every Last Secret—and her books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart's Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has been optioned for film.

Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 29, 2017

From Print to Web to Social Media: Discovering New Research Resources

by Julie Tollefson

As a reformed journalist (four years as a copy editor for a daily newspaper before I jumped ship—first to business and then to higher education), I have a soft spot in my heart for good journalism. And my love is strong for work that seriously examines the stories, challenges, and triumphs of the people in my part of the world, the largely rural central United States.

Great journalism that also informs and strengthens my fiction writing? Score!

A couple of years ago, The New Territory, a magazine with a mission to “cultivate connections among the land, people and possibilities of the Lower Midwest,” launched.

It’s a beautiful magazine, published quarterly and filled with personal essays, photography, fiction, poetry, art, and the kind of quality journalism that takes a deep dive into important issues. Its focus may be Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Missouri, but the stories have significance beyond their borders. Conservation. Transportation. Health care.

Its insightful articles are also a terrific resource for my fiction, most of which is set in small towns in what some people deride as flyover country.

This past week, The New Territory’s role as one of my writing resources took a new turn when it hosted a Facebook Live event with Michael Noll, whose short story “The Dependents” appeared in the magazine’s second issue. (“The Dependents” is this month’s free story of the month on The New Territory website.) For forty minutes or so, Noll gave a mini-class in fiction writing, character development, and place as an integral story ingredient. If you have time to spare, especially if you’re a writer, check out the October 25 video on the magazine’s Facebook page.

Because of that Facebook Live event, I visited Noll’s website, Read to Write Stories, and found a treasure trove of writing resources: an extensive collection of author interviews and writing exercises—in categories such as Exercises to Help Find a Premise and Exercises for Structure—based on excerpts of published essays, novels, and more. The interviews I’ve read so far have been enlightening, and I’ve bookmarked the site for the future.

My younger self, from the pre-Internet era, would be overwhelmed by the sheer volume, diversity, and availability of resources for writers today. The ones described here—from traditional print journalism to websites to social media—represent just a tiny slice. As a writer, what are your favorite resources for research or honing your craft?

As a reader, what are your favorites for learning about writers or books you might be interested in?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Book, A Requirement, Real Life by Kait Carson

Definition of serendipity: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

It’s not the first time I’ve noticed this phenomenon. Remember the photo of the six wedding guests in the same dress? Lucky those ladies had a sense of humor. Same with names. Have you welcomed a lot of Emmas and Liams to the world lately? And if you’re the new mom or dad, how many Beebos have you received? Serendipity—there’s a thread of thought running through the world. The writing world is like that, too. Makes it hard to stand out – eh, writers?

By day, I’m a certified paralegal. My certification is from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), and I’m registered with the Florida Bar (FRP). Both of those items mean I have legal education requirements to fulfill in order to keep my certification and my registration current. My real life begins at night, that’s when I sit at the keyboard and draft murderous mysteries. You can understand how sometimes my two lives intersect. This month, thanks to Warren Bull’s blog on Ferguson, they climbed into the Hadron Collider.

My writing has been taking on an edgier tone this year. I’ve moved from cozy bordering on traditional to traditional bordering on thriller. My sleuths are amateurs, but the edges are harder. Let’s just say no one in these books is baking cookies, but they will be happy to discuss the differences between the Glock 9mm and the 40 cal. To that end, my research reading has changed too. I picked up C.J. Lyons Last Light, the first in her Beacon Hill series.

Last Light features Lucy Guardino, a former FBI agent who has accepted a job with the Beacon Group. Lucy is hoping that the Beacon Group’s mission, solving cold cases, will be enough to keep her engaged now that she’s left law enforcement. Her first cold case? An investigation to support the release of a confessed killer serving time for the triple murder of a mother, father, and their infant daughter. Her mission: she and her team are to gather the evidence and report their findings to the books version of the Innocence Project.

Lyons is known for her well plotted books. This one blew me away. The story is tight, the action fast, and the characters believable. I’m looking forward to catching up with the rest of the series.

The day after I finished the book my Outlook calendar reminded me that I had a continuing legal education webinar scheduled. The title, How Bias Plays a Role in Wrongful Convictions. The sponsor was NALA, and the instructor was with the California Innocence Project. My ears perked up and I listened to case law and investigations that were heartbreaking and exhilarating. The subject matter whetted my appetite to find out what was going on in my home state?

A few clicks later, I found The Innocence Project of Florida. Like most of its counterparts in the innocence network, the Innocence Project of Florida had its genesis in the time when the statute of limitations was about to run out on DNA testing. DNA had been collected for years. Much of it left untested, or if tested, in a cruder fashion than was currently available. One of the successes of the Florida Innocence Project has been to remove the deadline for DNA convictions in our state, but in looking at the site, DNA seems to play a small role in the project’s released clients.

In looking at the rotating faces and details of the released prisoners on the home page, the phrase that keeps appearing is eyewitness misidentification. Bias, or honest mistake? Probably a little of both. The Florida project has had mixed success in combating this. Despite working closely with the legislature, it failed to reform how law enforcement perform eyewitness identification procedures. Its advocacy and support in the legal arena in 2012 did result in new standard jury instructions applying to eyewitness evidence in criminal cases being adopted by the Florida Supreme Court.

Then, on October 20, 2017, Warren Bull wrote his blog on Ferguson which presented a new slant on bias. It also seemed to institutionalize a form of municipal economic indenture supported by law enforcement.

All of this is available to writers to use in their novels or stories. The bias, the false witness (intentional or otherwise) the abusive enforcement based on color or class. The sheer imposition of economic hardship on those who can least afford it. All of it gives veracity to a story. It gives motive for setting and character, explains why your characters behave as they do, and why your protagonist gets involved.

Writers, do you include social issues in your books?
Readers, do you seek out or avoid books that take place against a backdrop of social issues?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Puppet On a Chain by Alistair MacLean: A Review by Warren Bull

Puppet On a Chain by Alistair MacLean: A Review by Warren Bull

Puppet On a Chain was published in 1969. I read the novel shortly after its release and upon rereading it, I remembered some parts of the novel. The book passes the test of time well. Described as “a novel suspense and action,” the book delivers these as promised. I sometimes find novels like this to have plots so incredibly non-credible that they knock me out of the state of suspended disbelief I have as a reader. I either cringe or laugh, at the plot mechanics. I then remind myself that life is too short to spend time reading bad fiction. I stop reading that book and pick up something else.

Part of the problem might be that current writers try to outdo books like this. Admittedly, no human could do what the protagonist does on Puppet On A Chain; most superheroes could not. However, when reading about the individual situations the hero overcomes, each time the author is able to present the events realistically enough with setbacks and mistakes that I came along willingly.
I suspected some of the revelations of which characters were bad and which were good, but by no means did I guess all of them. The hero fights and kills about half a dozen villains. But like I noted above, he took blows and had to struggle, which kept things each time within the realm of the possible. I kept reading. Some of the humor worked. Some did not, but it was not objectionable or tedious. 

I can recommend this book on its own and as an example of effective action and suspense. It is a fun read.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


                                                            A yellow leaf fell

                                                            on a black dog’s back

                                                            rode for a while

                                                            then drifted on.

I love October in N.E. Ohio. It makes me think of the Dylan Thomas poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Yes, Dylan Thomas wrote it during the final illness of his father, but I see October as making a last brave stand against the closing of the year by going out in a blaze of glory. At least that’s true here in the north.

Everywhere I look this time of the year, the colors are rich and vibrant. At the beginning of the month the fields were filled with goldenrod and purple asters. Soon the leaves started to turn to orange, red, amber, gold, purple and burnt umber. Orange pumpkins, like round globes appeared at roadside stands, farmers’ markets and in stores. Corn stalks are gathered for decorations. Even the sky seems a more vivid blue.

I just got back from a trip to New York State with two sisters, and the friend of the one sister, who is the mother of the bride getting married. We passed through part of Ohio where we live, mostly through Pennsylvania, a short distance through New Jersey and then into New York State. We were pretty much mesmerized by the beautiful trees changing their colors although we noticed that they were late in doing so probably because there hadn’t been any killer frosts, but we still admired the forests with the trees changing colors and the trees around homes and on the hillsides.

I love the crisp autumn days with cold nights and cool mornings often warming up later in the day. And then there’s Indian summer giving me that last bit of time when I can try to finish up all those chores that should have been done by now, but I didn’t quite get around to. Now I can’t procrastinate any longer. My time is running out. Not only do I need to finish planting the rest of my exuberant purchases, but there are large clumps of daylilies to be divided and replanted and daffodils that my occasional handyman dug up as he worked to redo an overgrown garden of mine. Of course, before that can be done, I need to prepare a place for those plants to go. All the cannas and dahlias need to be dug up, stalks and leaves removed, and the roots and rhizomes cleaned, dried and packed in dried leaves or wood chips and taken to the basement for the winter. The vegetable garden needs stripped of dying vegetation and bedded down for the winter.

Fortunately, I like to rake leaves even though it does get tiring when you have as many as I do. The armfuls of leaves I fill my wheelbarrow with are fluffy light reminding me of those long- ago days of jumping in piles of them. What fun that was. Now I’m too old. It would take a very big pile to cushion my fall. I consider raking leaves my workout since I don’t go to a gym nor do I have any equipment in my home. When the leaves have dried enough, I’ll mow through them to chop them up then use them to mulch my gardens. I also have a lot of pine needles around my house which are a bigger problem because Maggie brings them in the house on her coat, and they cover the patio table and chairs and the sunroom roof.  Most of those I save to mulch my blue-berry patch or woodland gardens which like the acid.

One of my favorite activities in the fall is my morning walk through the woods with Maggie. I enjoy the rustling sound of leaves as I walk through them and the smell that’s unique to fallen leaves, a mixture of a pungent earthy scent with a touch of sweetness, too. A question that I always have in the fall is how did Native Americans move silently through the woods when hunting? I can even hear my soft pawed dog moving. When I was still teaching, I gathered leaves on that walk to dry them for art projects for my students. I’m still tempted to do that because the forest floor is a mosaic of jewel-like leaves that all too soon will lose their colors and turn brown.

October also brings Halloween. It’s a fun holiday where kids and adults can dress up, play games and get treats, too. It’s a time of ghosts, skeletons, ghouls and other things that go bump in the night, but also princesses, football players, scarecrows and less fearsome trick or treaters.  I enjoy seeing the Halloween decorations many people decorate their homes or yards with. Some people believe Halloween promotes witchcraft and evil. I don’t think that’s any truer than mystery writers, readers or movie viewers are more prone to murder. Halloween dispels fear of the boogey man. Once a child dons a costume and sees other children doing the same, no matter how gruesome the costume, the child begins to put many fears aside. Back before Halloween parties and parades were discontinued in schools, my students, fellow teachers and I had so much fun on that day and with the preparations that led up to it.
She's not to sure about wearing this outfit & wig.

I think Halloween is a fitting end for October. I used to enjoy passing out candy to the trick or treaters who came to my door, but now that I live out in the country on a busy road with no children living nearby, I no longer get those happy cute little trick or treaters. That’s okay because I always had candy left over after Halloween night was over and I don’t need to eat all those Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups I always bought – candy I love and can’t resist.

Here's my great-granddaughter without her costume.

What do you like about the month of October?

How do you feel about Halloween?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Linda Lovely Interview by E. B. Davis

Bones To Pick Jacket Copy

Living on a farm with four hundred goats and a cantankerous carnivore isn’t among vegan chef Brie Hooker’s list of lifetime ambitions. But she can’t walk away from her Aunt Eva, who needs help operating her dairy.

Once she calls her aunt’s goat farm home, grisly discoveries offer ample inducements for Brie to employ her entire vocabulary of cheese-and-meat curses. The troubles begin when the farm’s pot-bellied pig unearths the skull of Eva’s husband, who disappeared years back. The sheriff, kin to the deceased, sets out to pin the murder on Eva. He doesn’t reckon on Brie’s resolve to prove her aunt’s innocence. Death threats, ruinous pedicures, psychic shenanigans, and biker bar fisticuffs won’t stop Brie from unmasking the killer, even when romantic befuddlement throws her a curve.

Persistence pays off—on October 24 Linda Lovely’s new Brie Hooker series will debut with Bones To Pick, published by Henery Press. Brie Hooker finds much irony in her life. After her fiancé betrays her, she finds two men are interested in her. Although she is a vegan and a vegan chef, her current work involves dairy—in the form of caretaking goats and chickens—neither of which in any form fits her culinary choices. Her dream come true happens only at the cost of a beloved aunt dying. So when another aunt lands on the police murder suspect list, Brie must solve the case to prevent another irony from occurring.

There was a lot that interested me in Bone To Pick. Linda’s main and secondary characters are well developed. Brie’s family characters are especially fun. I’ve always enjoyed Linda Lovely’s writing. Four years ago, I interviewed her about a previous mystery series she wrote for a different publisher. Please welcome Linda Lovely back to WWK.                                                                                   E. B. Davis

Brie grew up in Iowa, but her family migrated to South Carolina. How did this happen?

Brie’s Aunt Eva married a South Carolinian. After he died, Eva’s twin, Lilly, moved in with Eva to help her with the farm. Much later, when Clemson University offered Brie’s dad a job as head of its horticultural department, he accepted. Being near his twin sisters provided added incentive. Brie doesn’t arrive in South Carolina until Lilly dies and Aunt Eva needs her help.

The Udderly Kidding Dairy is located in South Carolina’s Ardon County. Is Ardon County real? Is it located near Clemson?

Ardon County is fictitious. But I’ve squeezed it into actual Upstate South Carolina geography. It’s located near both Clemson and Greenville.

Even though Brie is a vegan, she admits to having hunger for barbeque. Why is she a vegan? 

Brie believes it’s a healthier diet and better for the planet’s resources, but she’s not a crusader. She sees it as a personal lifestyle choice. (The same attitude as my family doctor.)

The Udderly Kidding Dairy produces goat cheese and chicken eggs for customers. Why is Brie working there when she is actually a vegan chef?

She arrives to temporarily help Aunt Eva run the farm. When her aunt becomes a murder suspect, she stays to prove her aunt’s innocence.

Aunt Eva seems a hardy soul. She even has a lover in her mule’s farrier, Billy Jackson. How could she have been a victim of spousal abuse by her long gone husband, Jed Watson?

Eva married at age nineteen. She was isolated from her family and humiliated that she’d made a terrible mistake. She made the decision to leave Jed just before he disappeared. Eva is now in her early sixties. She’s a different person than the abused teenager, and she’s vowed never to be anyone’s victim again.

Although Aunt Eva exaggerates a bit about Brie’s talents to two possible suitors, Aunt Eva also is a bit passive-aggressive in the form of Post-It notes to Brie. “…The choline in eggs may enhance brain development and memory—as a vegan you probably forgot.” Why does Aunt Eva do that and what started it?

Brie is accustomed to Eva’s jibes. Eva and her twin Lilly always sparred good-naturedly with each other, and it’s Eva’s way of showing Brie she accepts her as an equal and loves her as much as she did Lilly.

Brie’s father is a horticulture professor at Clemson University, but he is also an unpublished mystery writer and a member of Sisters in Crime. How has his mystery pursuit affected Brie especially during car rides?

Brie’s dad always shared his love of mysteries with his daughter, who is also an avid reader. When the two go on car rides, one of his games is to spot places where a villain might try to hide a body. He also tells her about his experiences each year when he attends the Writers’ Police Academy.

A friend from childhood who visits the farm, Mollye Camp, gets Brie into a lot of trouble. Why does Brie go along with Mollye’s attempts to investigate? Does Mollye know the meaning of the word “inconspicuous?”

Inconspicuous isn’t in Mollye’s vocabulary. Mollye’s a superb salesperson for her ideas, and Brie always thinks she’s figured out a way to provide a safety net.

Brie’s family members tell each other what they think the others want to hear, but that doesn’t match what they think or feel. Are they dishonest or pacifying each other?

They love each other and know exactly what objections another might raise if they were totally honest about their plans for a course of action. It’s not so much dishonesty as it is delaying disclosure to avoid arguments about things they feel they must do.

How many flavors of moonshine does Paint sell? Is peach Brie’s favorite?

Yes, peach is Brie’s favorite. Other flavors are Apple Pie, Blackberry, Strawberry, and White Lightning.

As suitors of Brie, how do best friends—moonshining Paint and veterinarian Andy Green—retain their friendship while competing?

They’ve been best friends since childhood and have been friendly competitors many times in the past. Their friendship is too strong to ever wish the other one ill.

There is Cashew, Brie’s Teacup Morkie, Bai, Eve’s Border Collie, Brenda, a spoiled pet goat, Tammy, the Vietnamese Potbellied pig, five Pyrenees, guardian dogs, 400 goats, and a lot of chickens. Do they single-handedly keep Andy in business? Is it a wonder they need Paint’s moonshine?

Yep, there are a lot of animals, and I needed to do quite a bit of research into the behaviors of my animal cast. My memories of the weeks I lived on my cousins’ farm when I was about eight or nine didn’t cut it. Fortunately, one of my critique partners has two horses and a mule, and loves to share stories. I’ve also enjoyed spending quality time at Split Creek Farm, a nearby Grade A Dairy. I even joined in a “goat yoga” class there.

Do you have pets, Linda?

I had a dog, Brownie, and a parakeet when I was a kid. But I’ve developed allergies to pet dander and saliva—both cats and dogs—so no pets. While I’m not allergic to goats, I’m pretty sure our home owners’ association would fine us if we brought home a four-legged kid. Our lot is wooded, though, so at least I get to enjoy visits from a variety of birds. I’m less happy when a beaver visits and eats my roses.

How did the contract with Henery come about?

I’d spent time with several Henery authors at various conferences and liked what they had to say about their publisher. When I described the premise for my Brie Hooker Mystery series, they thought it was a fit and encouraged me to query.