Tag Archive | book

Talking a little Homicide with Lynn Cahoon

I don’t know about anyone else out there in blog-land, but I love visiting South Cove. It reminds me of a combination of two small towns in Kentucky that I love to visit, Smith’s Grove and Glendale.  There is every kind of small business you can think of and that small town feel in both.  Today, we get to talk to Lynn Cahoon on her virtual tour about South Cove, the characters she writes and about herself and her writing the books. 

BTB: Welcome back to Booth Talks Books Lynn! It was so great to see you again in LynnBowling Green for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest.  Me and my daughter loved chatting you up.  Let’s do some more yapping as they say here in the south.  So, are you loving this virtual tour your on across all the book blogs?

LC: Thanks Sheryl! It’s great having a virtual tour for this book release because I can be everywhere across the country with no travel time.

BTB: First things, first.  How did you get started writing?

LC: I always wanted to be a writer, but I’m a black and white girl. So there was NO clear career path to be an author. I could go to college to be a journalist, but, I knew that would mean I’d need to talk to people. I really didn’t want to do that. So I got a political science/public administration degree and went to work for the state. I stayed there for 20 years, then decided I wanted to try something else. It was also the same time when my son went away to college and I got a divorce. Why not quit my job too? I started taking classes in the MFA of Creative Writing program.

Then I started dating my husband.  Darts takes a lot of time. We played league two or three nights a week, tournaments on weekends, and then at least once a month, we traveled for tournaments. No time for classes or writing.

Fast forward to 2007. We’d moved from Idaho to Illinois. I got a job with corporate America. And got my mammogram as soon as my insurance became effective. That decision changed my life. And probably saved my life. 2007 was the year of breast cancer. When you’re going through treatment, you realize what’s really important. And what you want your life to mean.

I wanted to be a writer. So I wrote. I submitted. And finally sold in 2012.

BTB: Hospitality and Homicide is the 8th book in the South Cove series and yet you keep introducing us to new places in the town. This time, we get to head to the local bed and breakfast. Why a bed and breakfast this time around? What is it about a murder and a bed and breakfast that is so unsettling?

LC: Actually Bill and Mary’s South Cove B&B have been there all along, but we’ve never stepped inside. I like visiting new businesses and focusing on different characters with each book. Of course, Jill, Greg, and Aunt Jackie will be major in all of the books, but I can feel when we haven’t brought a secondary character around much. So Esmeralda has a big role in H/H.

BTB: What do you think the fascination is with readers and the novice sleuth like Jill? She just seems to be in the worst places at the worst times. Why do you think us readers like her so much? Why do you like her so much?

LC: I like her because she mostly says what she’s thinking and does what she wants. I think sometimes women are so focused on what other people need from them, they forget about taking care of themselves. Jill may focus on food and running, but she makes sure she has Jill time. I think readers like the novice sleuth because they can imagine doing the same things, but safely in their arm chair.

BTB: Most of the time, the main character solves the crime. Do you think it’s important in an ongoing series that the mystery be solved each and every time? What do you think about an ongoing mystery through a series?

LC: You need a mystery solved in every book. But I believe you can have an ongoing mystery that continues in several books. Like my Cat Latimer series. Cat has an overarching mystery with who killed her ex-husband, but each book focuses on one current murder. Castle did this with who killed Beckett’s mother.

BTB: Why is Jill still running Coffee, Books and More? With all the adventures of crime solving, has she given serious thought to changing careers?

LC: Running the coffee shop is her life. I don’t see her giving it up anytime soon. She’s had the corporate lawyer gig, and she likes being a small business owner. Besides the shifts she schedules herself for give her a lot of time for her favorite pastime, reading.

BTB: I understanding needing some reading time and time to one’s self.  Speaking of one’s self let’s put you in Jill’s shoes.  Okay, you are in the same situation as Jill, would react any differently than her?

LC: Jill’s stronger than I am. She’s takes big risks (leaving her job and opening a coffee shop).

BTB:  What have you learned from Jill and her risk taking and adventures in South Cove that has stuck with you the most?

LC: She takes care of herself better. I am learning those skills as I go through life.

BTB: In Hospitality and Homicide, we have an author whose crime in their book comes true in real life in South Cove. First of all, that must be freaking for Nathan Pike, the author. Has this ever happened to you or someone you know?

LC: Actually, I’ve never heard of that happening to anyone. Sometimes, fiction can be stranger than truth.

BTB: So why do you choose a specific place to set your world?


LC: Mostly the place calls to me.

BTB:  Call you?  Really? That’s interesting.

LC: Seriously.

Guidebook to Murder started because I was vacationing in central California visiting my sister. I stopped by a small tourist town and found a house that was up for sale. The house was run down, the yard more like a

Click To Buy

pasture, and I wanted that house more than anything. Of course, I was going through a divorce and had a kid ready to go to college. Not a time to uproot my life and move to a coastal community. But I took a picture of the house and kept that picture on my computer for a long time.

Finally, the story came to me and the Tourist Trap series was born.

BTB: How do you choose between using a real town and a fictional town like South Cove?

LC: I’ve only used a real town when I wrote a short romantic novella (Playing Doctor.) It’s set in St. Louis, but mostly in the hospital.

Fictional towns are so much easier to work with. You have to know the area you’re using for the book but you can make the town look anyway you’d like. Until you’re several books into the series that is.

For my Farm to Fork Mystery series (releasing 2018), I’m turning my old home town into River Vista, Idaho. That way I can make it look anyway I want and still keep the feel of small town Idaho.

BTB: Do you run any book clubs or meetings for your fan following?  I would love to be apart of one as I am sure many of your readers would be.

LC: Hmmm, good question. I don’t. I know several authors do and have built a strong following talking about books, their own, and comparable. Currently I have a day job as well as the writer gig. This might be something I could start up when I only write.

I’m an officer in my work Toastmaster club and run meetings there. But I don’t think that’s what you want to know about.

Lynn Panel

Southern Kentucky Book Fest author panel 2017

BTB: I guess you could start a book-club at the Toastmaster’s club.  No, but seriously, you should start one.  Readers seem to really latch on to your characters and I’m sure getting to discuss them with you would really be amazing.  I know I would love it.  So, how do you develop these three dimensional  characters?

LC: Some people do character interviews, but I kind of know who I’m working with and, like any good relationship, you learn more by spending time with your imaginary friends. The good news is your editor can rein you in when you go off script. That’s also the bad news in case they don’t see it. I’ve really enjoyed doing character blog posts and interviews for the different bloggers. Sometimes my characters surprise me.

Esmeralda, the fortune teller/police dispatcher in the Tourist Trap series has a little vignette I wrote for a release bonus. I so enjoyed taking a peek into her world.

BTB: Esmeralda is such a great and original character.  Do you ever gather and plot with other friends or authors and just talk about murder and mystery to inspire the your books?

LC: Laura Bradford and I talk a lot both in person and on line. Every time I’m with her, I get a new bright and shiny (idea.) I’ve only ever plotted out one book with her, and it was Cat’s young adult novel that I am so going to write one of these days. What I’ll do with it, I don’t know, but it’s getting written.

BTB: I had wondered if we’d ever get to dive into Cat’s book!  That is something I would for sure read since I get snippets of it in the Cat Latimer series.  As a reader, I get to escape with a well-written book. What do you as the author get from writing?

LC: I do write for the money. If you went to a job and didn’t get paid, it would be called volunteering, not a career. Writing is a career for me. I get annoyed with people who say they write for the love of writing. It’s a job. It’s a great job, but you have to treat it like a job or it can overwhelm you. I love getting the bright and shiny new idea and seeing it develop into a real story. I’ve always told myself stories. Now I get to tell my stories to others and get paid. It’s a win-win.

Thanks a ton Lynn for hanging out here at the Booth Talks Books blog and answering all these questions. 

Hey readers, if you have questions, please leave them in the comments below for Lynn.  Also, feel free to just say hi or how you liked the interview.  You know I like to chat you all up.

Buy Hospitality and Homicide

Spotlight on LEA WAIT

Tightening The Threads

Maru with Tightening the Thread by Lea Wait

 

In the coastal town of Haven Harbor, blood runs thicker than water-and just as freely . . .

Antique dealer Sarah Byrne has never unspooled the truth about her past to anyone—not even friend and fellow Mainely Needlepointer Angie Curtis. But the Tightening The Thread Lea Waitenigmatic Aussie finally has the one thing she’s searched for all her life—family. And now she and long-lost half-brother, Ted Lawrence, a wealthy old artist and gallery owner in town, are ready to reveal their secret connection . . .

Ted’s adult children are suspicious of their newfound aunt Sarah—especially after Ted, in declining health, announces plans to leave her his museum-worthy heirloom paintings. So when Ted is poisoned to death during a lobster bake, everyone assumes she’s guilty. If Sarah and Angie can’t track down the real murderer in time, Sarah’s bound to learn how delicate—and deadly—family dynamics can truly be…

Buy “Tightening The Threads

Coming October 31, 2017

Christmas in Haven Harbor, Maine, means family, trouble, and murder . . .

Thread The Halls

Enter a caption

This Yuletide season, there’s no time for Angie Curtis and Patrick West to linger under the mistletoe. Patrick’s being needled by his mother—movie star Skye West—to set the stage for a perfect white Christmas as she brings her costar, screenwriters, and director home for the holidays. With his mother’s long list of wishes, Patrick’s becoming unraveled. To help, the Mainely Needlepointers offer to decorate Skye’s Victorian mansion and create needlepoint pillows as gifts for the guests.
 
But not long after the celebrity celebrants invade Haven Harbor, an unscripted tragedy occurs. Then some questionable Christmas cookies make Patrick sick. Before Santa arrives at the town pier on a lobster boat, Angie and the Needlepointers need to trim down the naughty list, catch a cold-hearted killer, and wrap up the case . . .

PreOrder “Thread The Halls

Lea Wait PortraitAbout Lea: Maine author Lea Wait writes two mystery series: the USA Today best-selling Mainely Needlepoint series, the most recent of which is Dangling By a Thread, and the Agatha-finalist Shadows Antique Print series, the most recent of which is Shadows on a Morning in Maine. Wait also writes historical novels set in nineteenth century Maine for readers eight and up. She invites readers to friend her on Facebook and Goodreads, to visit her website, www.leawait.com, and to read the blog she writes with other Maine mystery writers, www.mainecrimewriters.com.
Lea Wait grew up in Maine and New Jersey, majored in drama and English at Chatham College (now University) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned her MA and DWD in American Civilization at New York University. While raising the four daughters she adopted as a single parent Wait worked in public relations and strategic planning for AT&T. She now writes full-time and often speaks at schools, libraries and conferences. She is married to artist Bob Thomas, and has written about their life together in her Living and Writing on the Coast of Maine.

*Please leave a comment below and let us know which of Lea’s books YOU love the most.  If you haven’t read any yet, that’s okay!  Do you knit?  What’s your hobby?  Drop us a message and say hello to me and especially to Lea. *

 

VALENTINES DAY SCAVENGER HUNT

Karen and Norm danced the Jive and neither are the killer.

CLUE #4

jive-clue-4

You have your clue from me, now where and when can you find other clues? Here are the blogs and the days they will post clues. I hope you are a good sleuth…

9-Book Babble – https://www.facebook.com/teresasbookbabble/?

9-Booth Talks Books – https://www.facebook.com/BoothTalksBooks/?

10-Chatting About Cozies – https://www.facebook.com/chatcozy/?

10-Christy’s Cozy Corners – https://www.facebook.com/ChristysCozyCorners/?

11-Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – https://www.facebook.com/Cinnamon-Sugar-and-a-Little-Bit-of-Murder-187400864778608/?

11-Bibliophile Reviews – https://www.facebook.com/BibliophileReviews/?

12-MJB Reviewers – https://www.facebook.com/MJB-Reviewers-674225486045646/?

12-Lisa Ks Book Reviews – https://www.facebook.com/lisaksbookreview/?

13-Girl With Book Lungs – https://www.facebook.com/girlwithbooklungs/?

13-A Cup Of Tea and a Cozy Mystery – https://www.facebook.com/acupofteaandacozymystery/?

scavenger-hunt1

 

BTB Review of Michelangelo’s Ghost by GiGi Pandian

Michelangelo’s Ghost by GiGi Pandian

Review:

michelangelos-ghost

I have not had the pleasure of reading any of GiGi Pandian’s works before so I went into this read completely blind. The cover is what captivated me and from there I went to the description. That’s when I knew I wanted to read it. Being a fan of mystery and exploration, a character such as Jaya Jones was going to help me escape on a much-needed vacation and explore my need for an exotic location. I grew up watching Indian Jones and always thought the females in his movies seemed pretty week. The thought of a female exporter fascinated me. I only hoped Jaya lived up to my expectations.

We have two females who are the main characters and focus of this story. Yes, there is a brother, his girlfriend and Jaya’s two love interests that form an uncomfortable love triangle, but I’m not sure those are the focus really.  So, I am focusing on the two main ladies.  One ends up dying, people thinking her a fool and dreamer while one goes on to explore this dreamer’s theories. There are lots of plots and twists in the book, but these two ladies and how their relationship is with each other is the thing I would like to focus on.

Lilith Vine was once an impressive professor of Jaya’s, but she and others left professor Vine behind in fear of having the stigma of “crazy dreamer” put upon themselves. After all, a real researcher can’t have that shameful of a person them around. Her fifteen minutes of famed discovery was over and she was a has-been, right? Yet, when professor Vine calls up Jaya and tells her about a connection between a world-famous artist and a set of carved statues in Italy, she can’t seem to pull herself away. Even after leaving her behind, Jaya knows deep in her heart that she looks up to Lilith Vine and that the quirkiness of her ideas makes her adventurous heart skip a beat with anticipation of the unknown.

Unfortunately, a prominent death occurs that puts a damper on the research but this drives Jaya even harder to find out if there is truly a historical connection. She is led to Italy to talk to the distant family of the artist in question and finds out of the shame associated with him, the scandal of his work and just how far people will go to manipulate others to get what they want.

I loved the adventure, the characters, the scene setting and development that goes on in Michelangelo’s Ghost. Jaya goes from a researcher who is not sure of herself to one who gains a full head of steam toward her better self. The character of Jaya did not disappoint.

Anyone who likes adventures and strong female characters will fully envelope this book. I was constantly “watching my back”, trying to figure out who was after who and if people where truly who they said they were. There is no sense of security for Jaya in this book and it’s an spree to the very end. I can’t wait until the next installment. I’m now a huge Jaya fan and plan to read the prior ones now.

About the Author:

gigi-pandian-bw-headshot-14-webres-rgb-7x8SA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the the southern tip of India.

She graduated with honors from Pitzer College, studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh, and went on to graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Bath in England. Before completing her PhD, she realized she was much better suited to writing about the fictional adventures of academics than being one herself. She left academia for art school, and began writing the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series.

Artifact, the first book in the series, was awarded the William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Grant, hit the USA Today bestseller list, and was named a “Best of 2012” Debut Mystery by Suspense Magazine.

The Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries continued with Pirate Vishnu (awarded the Left Coast Crime Rose Award), Quicksand, and Michelangelo’s Ghost. 

Gigi also writes the Accidental Alchemist Mystery Series. The first book in the new series, The Accidental Alchemist, won a Lefty Award. The Masquerading Magician was released in 2016, and The Elusive Elixir will be published in January 2017.

In addition to novels, Gigi loves writing locked-room mystery short stories. Her story “The Hindi Houdini” was shortlisted for Agatha and Macavity awards.

Gigi’s publishing journey was kicked into high gear by a cancer diagnosis. A month after her 36th birthday, Gigi was diagnosed with breast cancer. To get through her treatments, she decided to throw herself into her mystery writing. She’s doing well, but life is still uncertain, so she plans to have a lot of fun in life as she travels the world with her husband, camera, and notebook for writing mysteries.

Gigi sits on the board of Sisters in Crime, is a member of Mystery Writers of America, and is an avid participant in National Novel Writing Month

Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GigiPandian/

Twitter @GigiPandian

Email: gigi@gigipandian.com

Website: http://www.gigipandian.com/

 

Buy “Michelangelo’s Ghost”

Putting On The Witch by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Putting On The Witch by Joyce and Jim Lavene

A Personal Note:

This particular tour is bittersweet. Is that term overused? Maybe. Defined, it means “producing or expressing a mixture of pleasure and pain.” I was so excited to be able to read this amazing book and review it but I knew I would not be able to rattle on about it to either author for they had both passed on. And there we have that bitter and painful part.

When I first got into reading cozies, Joyce was the third author I came in contact with thanks again to my Canadian sister-friend, Karen. I got onto the Joyce and Jim page and quickly started conversing with Joyce on a daily basis. I honestly didn’t know a person could have so much passion for purple!  Her morning greetings were warm and welcoming, nothing like I was seeing on the rest of the Internet. What a breathe of fresh air. Then, I got to slowing know of her husband as well. They were both so unlike others I was used to chatting with.

The news of their separate passings-on was devastating, but I am just glad to have gotten the pleasure and privilege of knowing them; even if it was only virtually. What a legacy they leave behind not only in their writings, but also in their beautiful personalities. I will never forget them.

jo-potw3Review:

So, you’re a witch who’s been hidden in the mortal world who recently found out you were a witch and your dad was one of the most powerful and dark witches ever. He’s now standing in front of you and your mom, who happens to now be a ghost, is not happy. What an opening! Putting On The Witch grabbed me from the beginning with some crazy stuff thrown right in my face and I loved it.

Having read some of the other books of Joyce and Jim’s I was going out of my mind with the “easter eggs” they kept throwing in throughout the book. If you are a reader of theirs, it’s a fun little gift. I know I was all giddy when things were mentioned and certain people showed up from other books of theirs. I won’t ruin it though.

My thought about witches is that they can’t be killed like mortals, but apparently if the right person gets ahold of them, they can. All of this and more takes place when Molly, Elsie, Dorothy and a few surprise guests attend their newest coven member, Brian’s’ birthday bash at the Witches Ball.

The party is elaborate, the preparation is elaborate and the location is unsearchable. Someone had to work pretty hard to get into this party in order to take out one of the powerful members of the Grand Council of Witches.

I love the contrast in the rich and powerful witches and what I call the “normal” witches, or those who are making an honest living just like the non-magical people. You can see the power struggles amongst these two groups which have been going on for ages.

Brian is the center of the party since it is his birthday. Although he was raised wealthy, he doesn’t have the same need to please, have money or be noticed like his grandfather. He is drawn to Dorothy who never new about her magic until recently. They both have a lot in common and I think that is why they are drawn together. In a way, they are both just starting.

Many things were denied to Brian because it wasn’t “proper” and Dorothy had nothing since she was raised without magic due to being hidden from her father. I enjoy the interaction between these two and how although they came from two complete upbringings, they are so much alike and therefore help each other out.

The friendship between Molly, Elsie and Olivia is heartwarming. These “retired witches” as they had hoped to be are only becoming stronger. Their friendship and encouragement of each others differences are what keeps their friendships so amazing. Molly is embracing her true heritage, Elsie is becoming appreciative that it’s okay to love no matter what society says and Olivia is learning to work with what life has dealt her…death. Through the changes in life and death, these friends and life-long coven members are growing themselves into better witches every day.

Putting On The Witch is about acceptance, breaking down the barriers of stereotypes and learning to accept yourself for who you are and just going with it. How in the world can a fiction book do that? I find that the Lavenes always have a message hidden in their books and this one is no exception. We all go through life, unsure of what the future holds. Some of us are unsure of our past and most of us are unsure of our future. One thing is for sure though. If we can find a small group of faithful friends who help to encourage our best selves, we are unstoppable.

 About The Authors:

joyce-and-jimJoyce and Jim Lavene wrote award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They had written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. Joyce passed away October 20, 2015 and Jim passed on May 5, 2016. They are missed by family, friends and their many fans.

Giveaway:

 Putting On The Witch Great Escapes Tour Giveaway

 

Author Links:

 www.joyceandjimlavene.com

www.facebook.com/joyceandjimlavene

Please join these other bloggers as they celebrate Joyce and Jim the rest of October!

October 13 – Booth Talks Books

October 13 – The Cozy Mystery Journal

October 14 – Brooke Blogs

October 15 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews

October 16 – Bibliophile Reviews 

October 16 – Island Confidential

October 17 – LibriAmoriMiei

October 17 – MysteriesEtc

October 18 – Kathy Loves 2 Read

October 19 – ChristyMystery

October 20 – My Interdimensional Chaos

October 21 – Murder, Mystery & More…

October 22 – centraleast2

October 23 – Lori’s Reading Corner

October 24 – The Girl with Book Lungs

October 24 – Polished Nails and Puppy Dog Tales

great-escape-button-tour-host-button

“Death of a Toy Soldier” Review, Interview and Giveaway!

Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early

Review:
death4Excuse me while I run around like a kid in a toyshop writing this review for “Death of a Toy Soldier”. Oh wait; it takes place in an actual toyshop. Goodie, goodie for me. Finally, someone writes a book that I can relate to when it comes to my obsession with old toys, seeking them out and buying them. In this case, Liz McCall and her dad, Hank sell the toys at their amazing New York shop, Well Played. Fabulous name Barbara, fabulous!

Hank McCall is a retired police chief who has taken his hobby to the next level and opened a vintage toy shop and runs it with the help of his daughter Liz. All is well and good until a man who had visited the shop previously to check on the price of some super rare tin toys turns up dead in a pool of blood amongst the playful relics on the toy shop floor.

Hank is suffering amnesia from the night of the incident for an unknown reason and the McCalls are forced to try and put the pieces together to a puzzle that just gets weirder and weirder.   Hoping to get her father off the hook and back into the store he has put his heart and soul in to, Liz turns to friends and family in order to try and figure out who the mystery man was who ended up dead in their store. 

As if a game of Clue is in play, another man ends up dead who might be associated with the dead mystery man. The more they investigate, the more secrets are revealed about neighbors, friends and people they thought they knew. So, who did kill the man in the toy store with the dart. Yes, for sure a game of Clue is afoot.

The story did not stop the entire time. I was expecting a lull where I would lose interest and then have to force myself back into it because honestly, kids interrupt me while I am reading.   There was never a problem picking up where I left off because the characters weren’t flat. I felt like I knew Liz, Hank, Cathy, Jack, Peggy and those adorable sisters, Irene and Lenora.

I was able to jump right back in and the story just kept developing in new dimensions. Right when I thought I was going one way, Barbara took me somewhere else. I loved it! The killer threw me for a loop however. I had two people that I just knew did it. I kept thinking, “Oh Barbara, you made this too easy. You tried to throw me off, but I caught you.” Nope, I was so wrong. I didn’t see that one coming at all.

If there was one complaint I had, it was that I didn’t get to see inside the doll room. She kept describing Cathy, the other worker, peaking out and such but the reader doesn’t get to go in. Do you know what that does to a doll person Barbara? I wanna go in!

This series is exciting for me and I hope the second book comes out quickly after the release of this one. What a great set of characters, setting and descriptive writing. I was hooked. If you love toys, collecting old vintage memorabilia and love a good mystery go ahead and order this book. You need it in your life like I need another doll. And I DO need another doll by the way….

btb-seperation-bar

Interview:

BTB-Do you or have you ever collected vintage toys?

BE-At one time, I had quite a collection: a huge assortment of Fisher Price with all the original wooden Little People, an early Mr. Potato Head, a virtual fortune in real wood Lincoln Logs, and a pretty good selection of Pez dispensers. Colorforms. Slinkies. View Master with a bunch of disks. You may have already figured out where I’m going with this. This was forty some years ago. Most of them were passed down to younger cousins or siblings or sold by my mother at garage sales.

But no, I wasn’t a collector before I started writing the series. And except for a few fun pieces and some small things I’m using to decorate my Christmas tree, I’m trying to keep my collection on Pinterest. But, like Liz McCall, I am an avid board gamer, and I do own some vintage board games. Some I’ve bought used and others I’ve just had for long enough that they’re actually worth something–which is kind of sad, because it makes me hesitant to play them. And that’s their value for me.

trainBut the fun part of the series is that you don’t have to be a collector or even an enthusiast to enjoy reading about the toys. They spark a lot of nostalgia. When we see pictures of, say, a Mrs. Beasley doll on Facebook, or a vintage Scooby Doo lunchbox we may have taken to school, those images inspire all kinds of feelings and memories. We all relate to toys. They were part of our childhood and are key parts of our formative memories.

BTB-How did you do research for “Death of a Toy Soldier”

BE-The idea for the series came from the town first. I’ve visited East Aurora (Yes, it’s a real place!) any number of times–it’s only a little over half an hour from my house. It’s such a quaint town, the kind you read about in cozy mysteries. It has brick-paved Main Street with every kind of store you might imagine in a cozy mystery: a quirky five-and-dime, a cupcake shop, a yarn shop, a vintage theater selling gourmet popcorn, a chocolate shop, and a variety of eateries, many with tables spilling out onto the sidewalk. There’s even an Amish furniture store. And yes, a toyshop. It carries a lot of classic toys, but it’s not a vintage toyshop.

But the whole town is truly darling. I supposed the normal reaction is to want to shop and sightsee. My first reaction was, what a great place for a murder!

So I really wanted to set a mystery there. When I searched the town’s history, I learned death5-copythat it has long been called Toy Town, because of the manufacture of toys in the area. Fisher Price (now part of Mattel) still remains, but there were once a number of different toy manufacturers clustered around the town. Sad are the things I just missed: there used to be a toy parade and a toy museum. Neither of those exist any longer. But since I write fiction, I reserve the right to resurrect them.

When I started digging around a little more, I discovered that, while vintage toyshops are a little rare, dealers and collectors do a bit of trade at vintage toy shows, and I found a few in my area. They’re starting to recognize me, even though I do more talking and picture taking (with their permission) than actual buying. But going to the shows always feels more like play than research.

BTB-What inspired the name of the book?

BE-I never get to keep my titles. I thought I was going to be able to this time. The working title was MURDER WELL PLAYED. In my mind, it was perfect. Vintage toys. Well Played. And every title could have “play” in it, in some form. And that’s the title it was subbed as. But the publisher who bought it wanted to change it. They wanted something more visual–which I understood, at least as soon as I got over my initial disappointment. It was my agent who actually came up with the title, which resonated with the publisher right away–and led to some changes in the story to accommodate it. I wasn’t initially sold–but I’ve learned to trust the instincts of those with experience in the industry. They were so right! And then they came up with that cover, which is absolutely fantastic. I love those eyes! So each book will likely feature an iconic type of toy.

1958-why-board-game

BTB-In the book, there is a lot about vintage games as they gather for a regular vintage game night in the toyshop.  What is your favorite board game?  Do you have a favorite piece you play, color, etc.?

BE-I have a lot of favorite board games, depending on my mood. Right now it’s a strategy game called Power Grid. I’m also fond of Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers of Catan. Those three have apps that allow me to play against the computer, which is nice because I like to play far more often than I can find people to play with. I also picked up another fun one called Liebrary, where you’re given the title and brief synopsis of a real book, and then all the players have to come up with a first line. Those lines get shuffled together with the real first line, and then everybody has to guess which one is genuine. As a writer, it can be a lot of fun. Sometimes, though, it starts feeling like work.

As far as playing pieces, I tend to pick green, for some reason. And in Monopoly, yeah, I like the racecar. Boring, I know.

BTB- There is a lot about family and trust in this book.  Can you speak as to why this was such a heavy theme?  It’s unusual to have a father and daughter sleuth team.

BE-When we start thinking about the toys of our childhood, we tend to think of the circumstances of our childhood. And I wanted Liz’s childhood to be interesting. (The opposite is boring, and nobody wants that.) Giving her an alcoholic parent was an easy choice for me. I can write that with authenticity, sadly. The strong bond between Liz and her father was born from this shared adversity. Their relationship wasn’t perfect, but they’re very much there for each other now. They have each other’s backs and are more alike than either would probably care to admit.

Perhaps it’s because I never had a close relationship to a father, I tend to explore this idea in fiction. The close relationship between Hank and Liz is more similar to the one my husband and our daughter share. It’s very sweet and fun to watch.

BTB-I have to ask about the monkey in the book because every time I read about it, it vintage-monkeyseemed to represent something inside of Liz that she was dealing with psychologically.  Was the monkey used as a metaphor or am I over analyzing?  Was the monkey just a monkey?

BE-Sometime a monkey is just a monkey. I’ve always found them a little freaky. But like Liz, sometimes I can get a little nervous around toys with eyes. It comes from that one Twilight episode with a talking doll, and then a made-for-TV horror movie about a killer doll–that I was too young to watch at the time. I still have a low tolerance for horror, unless it’s something campy, like Sharknado.

But those early experiences gave me a bit of a doll phobia myself–nothing too severe–which I’ve given to Liz, because it’s a fun problem to have if you work with them every day.

BTB-So, I know we are just now getting a taste for this book, but anything you want to reveal about the next one?  Can we expect to go into the doll room….yes?  no?  Hahaha! I really wanna go in.

BE-Crooked Lane contracted three books, so I’m writing the second one now, which takes place at a model train and toy show. And model trains are such iconic toys. (Although there’s a lot of adults who would cringe at me calling them toys.) The working title which, given my track record (pun unintended) will probably change, is Strangers on a Toy Train. We’ll see. I’m thinking dolls for book three, although they’ve always been in the series. It’s not blatantly obvious, at risk of being too cutesy, but Liz McCall shares the same full name as an iconic paper doll, Betsy McCall. Her sister-in-law, Cathy, can be a bit chatty. There’s a potential love interest named Ken. And the author–just don’t call me Barbie. I HATE being called Barbie.

BTB- Thanks Barb for stopping by, chatting and letting us into your brain. You are quite fascinating and so is this little toyshop of yours.

About The Author:
barbara-early

Barbara Early authored the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries (as Beverly Allen) and now writes the Vintage Toyshop Mysteries. She lives in Western New York.

Facebook Author Page : https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraEarly/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BarbEarly
Alter Ego Beverly Allen:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeverlyAllen
Blog:  http://www.inkwellinspirations.com/

btb-seperation-bar

Giveaway:

We didn’t get a chance to go into the doll room, but you have a chance to win somethingwaldapubdom from the doll room. May I introduce, Jillian! She is what us doll collectors call a Walda doll. She was sold back in the 70s and 80s as an antiqued (not antique) doll to look like the older porcelain dolls of yesteryear. They have glued on wig caps, painted facial features of rosebud lips and different colored eyes, painted black boots and usually come dressed in a prairie looking dresses with a hat and bloomers.

Her head, arms and legs are made of porcelain and her body is stuffed with cotton rags. No Walda looks like another so collectors look for these for their distinct personalities. We have one (of course) in our collection. She was given the name Courtney and she joined our family in the early spring while my daughter and I were out antiquing. My daughter fell in love with her so we brought her home immediately, no questions asked. For information on Walda dolls, click HERE.

I was so excited when Barbara sent a photo to me of her find. I then flooded her with my doll knowledge. Lucky you! Just click below to be entered to win you very own “Walda” doll named by Barbara. Jillian is excited to come live with you.  She is complete and in collector condition which is hard to find.  Most are missing their hats.  Good luck!

Win “Jillian” The Vintage Walda Doll!

(named after the assistant museum curator, Jillian Hatley, in “Death of a Toy Soldier”)

death-of-a-toy-soldier-giveaway

Buy “Death Of A Toy Soldier”

btb-seperation-bar

BTB Spotlight, Tour and Giveaway: Terror In Taffeta

TIT

About Terror In Taffeta:

Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna is just a few hours away from wrapping up her latest job: a destination wedding in the charming, colonial Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. The reception is all set up, the tequila donkey is waiting outside, and the bride and groom are standing on the altar, pledging their eternal love. But just as the priest is about to pronounce them husband and wife, one of the bridesmaids upstages the couple by collapsing into a floral arrangement, a definite wedding “don’t.” Kelsey soon discovers that the girl hasn’t just fainted–she’s dead.

Losing a bridesmaid is bad enough, but when the bride’s sister is arrested for murder, the demanding mother of the bride insists that Kelsey fix the matter at once. And although Kelsey is pretty sure investigating a murder isn’t in her contract, crossing the well-connected Mrs. Abernathy could be a career-killer. Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey must deal with stubborn detectives, a rekindled romance, and late-night death threats in this smart, funny cozy mystery debut.

 

Booth Talks Book’s review of Terror in Taffeta!

 

marla-cooperAbout The Author:

As a freelance writer, MARLA COOPER has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku. But it was while ghostwriting a nonfiction guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her current series starring destination wedding planner Kelsey McKenna. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.

 

 

Author Links:

Webpage – www.marla-cooper.com

Blog: www.chicksonthecase.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Marla.Cooper.Author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kindacozy

Purchase Terror In Taffeta: http://amzn.to/2bmkSPs

 

TIT —>Terror In Taffeta Giveaway<— TIT

 Thanks for visiting Booth Talks Books!