Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Highlands Ranch Author Showcase!

Big new! I'll be participating in a Local Author Showcase Sunday, March 10th at 2pm, hosted by the Douglas County Library. This is my local library district but I am fortunate that they are on the cutting edge-nationwide-when it comes to promoting Colorado authors and offering their e-books in the library.
Yes! You can check-out either The Shell Keeper or Framed at any Douglas County Library!
If you are in the area I'd love to have you drop by and say hi! I will be participating along with nine other others. We will each have a few minutes to talk about our books, and afterward we'll be available to chat. We will also have paperback copies available for purchase-and signing!
If you have already purchased one of my books, please come on by and let me sign it for you.
Click HERE to find out more about this event. I hope to see you there!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Cozy Mystery: Why I Love this Genre!

I’ve been chatting on Goodreads with lovers of humorous cozy mystery books. Personally, I’m a big fan of just about all mysteries but I do love cozies-and write them-for particular reasons.

First, I’m a sucker for humor. I love to read it and write it and this is a genre that practically requires it! If you don’t have a good dose of humor in your story odds are your novel runs more toward hard bitten crime procedurals  Don’t get me wrong-I love my P.D. James! James is absolutely one of the best mystery authors of all time. She weaves a plot that’s thick with red herrings and requires diligence, not to mention and unwavering attention span, from her readers! But after a serious English who-dunnit I’m looking for some laughs…and a dead body, of course!

So I’m back reading cozies. Some of my favorites are from Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Bear/Shulz series to Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy series. Neither of the heroines in these books is anywhere near being a professional sleuth, and that’s another requirement of this genre. One is a caterer and the other is the Post Mistress of her small town! That last one is one of the more unique ‘cozy’ professions if you ask me!

P.I.’s are great (LOVE Robert Parker’s Spencer books), along with detectives and coroners (Patricia Cornwell anyone?), but they have more than half a clue what they are doing. And that’s where the humor comes in.

With a clueless sleuth, the situation is ripe for humor and lots of missteps. Plus, they get into much more trouble because they have no idea what they are doing. Well…over the course of the story they figure it out, but along the way you are laughing on the edge of your seat. That’s the funny mystery’s hook and it works on me just about every time.

Naturally, there’s also the best friend/sidekick. Think of Goldy Schultz’s pal, Marla, in The Main Corpse. Any cozy protagonist worth her salt can figure out who pulled the trigger by the last page, but in order to get to the last page she needs her wacky/brainy/equally clueless/possibly professional sidekick to get her there. Sometimes they really are professional sleuths (P.I.’s, Detectives, FBI, for example) who don’t take the heroine seriously. But we do, and we appreciate the nudge these friends can give to more our girl along.

In my book Framed my heroine, Kay Conroy, wouldn’t have gotten quite as far without her friend Maddy. Maddy has nerve to spare and she’s willing to do whatever and go wherever to find the answers that will help save her friend from a murder rap! That’s in between carpooling, PTA meetings, gym workouts and stirring up cookie dough along with trouble. Kay and Maddy make an awesome cozy duo!  

Well, those are just a few of my favorite cozy characters-how about you? Why do you love a good humorous mystery? Please share your favorites in the comments below; I’m always looking for something good to read!   

(photo: Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Strong Women in Fiction: Who is YOUR Favorite?

I’ve always gravitated to the strong female characters in a story. I’d come away from a book feeling empowered-I could take on the world! Isn’t it wonderful when a character resonates so strongly within you that you feel your own character has been shaped by theirs?

I remember, as a teenager, reading Catherine Marshall’s Christy. She wasn’t much older than I was then, but Christy left home with little more than faith and love to teach in the wilds of the Smokey Mountains. She entered a world of poverty and beauty but discovered great personal strengths within herself that helped her succeed and flourish in this new world. Something of Christy has stayed within me all my life, giving me strength to overcome many of life’s obstacles, though mine pale in comparison to hers!

Jane Austen’s novels were an incredible discovery years ago. Books that I thought would be dull-as-dirt required reading in school turned out to have wise and witty heroines dealing with a cultural system that was far from female-friendly! But Jane, with her amazingly dry and insightful wit skewered the society around her while elevating the female character in fiction. These gals weren’t stupid…well, some of them were- but not our heroines!

From Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility), to Emma(Emma), to Anne Elliot(Persuasion), and most definitely to Elizabeth Bennett (Pride andPrejudice). These are women so strong that fiction writers have copied and imitated their characters in countless books! What woman wouldn’t be proud to have ‘Lizzy’s’ strong and honest character? Even before she takes herself to task for pride…and finds Mr. Darcy to have ‘no immodest prejudice” she is clearly a woman worth emulating.   

I was a mother and wife when I discovered Gift from The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Anne had overcome incredible challenges in her life and still, she had this settled, calm core that cut to the most basic and fulfilling natures of womenkind. Her book is not fiction, but it did inspire me to create the characters in The Shell Keeper: strong women-whether they knew it or not-with character to spare and the willingness to put themselves out there, in the name of friendship.  As a result, they empower both themselves and each other.

I hope that I can live up to all of these wise and wonderful women. I think as long as I’m willing to learn, I have a chance! Do you have fictional friendships that have stayed with you and inspire you still? If so, please share-I’d love to hear about them! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Short and Sweet Review: Trust in Me by Lana Williams

I was curious, after reading the first book in this series, A Vow To Keep, to see what would become of little Nicholas. Now, in Trust in Me, he's all grown up and his magical gift of premonition has become more of a curse than a blessing.

Lord Nicholas is hiding out in his Keep, never expecting to find love, have a family or the happiness other young men his age might expect. When his severely injured brother, William, is literally dumped on his front porch-so to speak-it starts in motion a series of events that will, eventually, tear down the walls Nicholas has so firmly built up around his heart.

Getting there, though, is half the fun! And Ms. Williams has done a wonderful job of making the reader sympathetic towards both the dark and vengeful Nicholas and the sweet and well-intentioned Lady Elizabeth-she who dumped the brother!

Early on the two are naturally attracted to each other, but once Nicholas's true identity is revealed, and Elizabeth's complicity in his brother's condition as well, these two characters face what seem like insurmountable odds, fraught with anger and suspicion.

Count on Ms. Williams to draw us in and lead us-quite willingly-through a maze of misgivings and misinformation and out the other side, to a very satisfying ending!

I'm very much anticipating the final book in Ms. William's Vengeance Trilogy. This one, I'm told, will tell the story of Nicholas's brother William. If the first two installments are any indication I expect a very good tale indeed!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Interviewing Claire, from The Shell Keeper. This could get Steamy!

Today I’m interviewing Claire, one of a trio of unlikely friends from my women’s fiction novel; The Shell Keeper.  It’s a humorous and touching story of three women who become unlikely friends-in Claire’s case, despite herself!

As I might have mentioned in the book’s blurb…Claire’s past is her own friggin’ business, but she’s a tough real estate agent who will gladly suck-up to assholes to get a deal done. Still, when Del literally crashes into her life in front of Gwen’s bakery, bringing the three women together, Claire finds herself rethinking her attitude toward friendship. Toss in a charmingly persistent guy named Bob, and she might be rethinking men, too.

Sounds like this interview could get interesting…

RN: So Claire, do you have a minute?

Claire: Just. I’m swamped, what do you need? (Claire is in her usual sort of attire: DKNY black skirt suit, three inch Jimmy Choo’s and lush, black hair just skimming her shoulders-all very professional)  

RN: Well…I was hoping you could give us your thoughts on these new friends of yours-Del and Gwen. I mean, it was a rather surprising development in your life. You haven’t exactly been a girl’s girl in recent years, have you?

Claire: If by that you mean I have more than my share of men in my life I can only plead guilty! (She’s laughing). What can I say, I like a nice set of pecs…and other things. Did you see that paramedic that checked out Del after the accident? I might have to buy some cookies from Gwen’s bakery and delivery them in person to the fire station…just to say thanks.

RN: That was when Del ran into the flower pot out front?

Claire: You’ve got that right. That kid’s got problems, not the least of which is bad timing. Who does relaxation therapy while driving!?

RN: She’s pretty stressed, huh?

Claire: She’s nuts. But maybe not certifiable…I was thinking of giving her a call. You know, just be sure she hasn’t fallen off a bridge or tripped in front of an oncoming bus.

RN: You think she’s suicidal? I don’t think I wrote her like that but—

Claire: Hey! Don’t beat yourself up, you never know. I don’t think she’d do anything intentional, I just think she’s a little less than all there these days. That husband of hers sure messed her up. What an ass—“

RN: Yes-right! He’s definitely less than charming.

Claire: And you know she’s just the type who dreamed of growing up and meeting Prince Charming.

RN: And you’re not?

Claire: I got the frogs. But that’s okay, I figured out a long time ago that you can’t let a guy mess with your mind. I just don’t go there. After all, I don’t need to get inside their heads to have some fun. And neither do they.

RN: What about this friend of Gwen’s, Bob?”

Claire: Who? (She reaches for her cell and starts absentmindedly checking her messages…she thinks she’s fooling me into believing she’s not interested in Bob, but I’ve heard differently)

RN: Tall, dark, polite, ruggedly handsome in a wealthy wine-maker from the western slope of Colorado kind of way?

Claire: Oh, him. Well, he’s got nerve to spare.

RN: How so?

Claire: Keeps showing up. Guy thinks I’m interested. Of course I’m not…I’ve told Gwen that.  She gets it, she’s a business woman and she understands some things have to take priority. I’m a busy woman-real estate sales are off the charts up here; I don’t have time for that kind of extracurricular activity.

RN: What kind?

Claire: You know…relationships! Bob’s looking for more than a little fun. And don’t get me wrong, he’d be fun… (Noticeable pause as she seems to be thinking of something) But, like I said-no time for that. Speaking of which-what time is it? (She reaches again for her cell) Shit! I gotta scoot.

RN: But wait, I wanted to ask you about—

Claire: Maybe next time, kiddo. (She stands and stops for a second, a small wince crossing her face, as if she’s uncomfortable.)

RN: You okay? You want something?

Claire: No-no, coffee’s full and I’ve got my late night snack right here. (She picks up a small bag from the bakery)  You stay-talk to Gwen why don’t you.  I think maybe things are a little tight around here…finances-wise. And I heard something about her husband’s company, he’s a trucker you know, I think they’re gonna strike. That won’t help pay her son’s college tuition. She could probably use some good publicity-write something nice, okay? And don’t pester Del—kid needs a break! (She looks at her cell again) Shit! I gotta call this asshole…I mean client, back. See your round!

With that Claire scoops up her briefcase, tosses her hair off one shoulder and heads out the front door. Though she does pause a moment to smile at the gentlemen who is coming in and has stopped to hold the door open for her. If the look on her face as she runs her eyes up one side of him and down the other could talk…well, I couldn’t print it here!