Writing Mysteries from the Heart and Finding Humour in the Challenges of Aging with Julie Seedorf

When we think of amateur sleuths from cozy mysteries we might not always think about someone named Granny.

Julie SeedorfAuthor Julie Seedorf writes two different mystery series, and today she’s here to talk to me about her Fuchsia, Minnesota series featuring her feisty and independent heroine, Granny. In my experience, as readers we all love characters who live a little outside normal. Granny certainly fits that bill.

Julie’s books are witty and whimsical, and it goes without saying that Granny is full of spunk. But Julie does not shy away from touching on the serious issues that confront us as we age. And as she points out in this interview, she does so with a light touch to shine a light on issues like memory loss.

Julie is also clearly someone who does everything from a deeply heartfelt place. A very recent example is the GoFundMe page she started for mystery blogger and reviewer Lisa K. You can click here to read Lisa’s story at Julie’s blog. Almost daily I tweet links to Lisa’s cozy mystery book reviews – her site is a great source for finding new books and authors to read. I was honoured to be able to contribute a few weeks ago to the fund Julie started to help Lisa and her sister.

You can find out more about today’s guest, Julie Seedorf, and all her books on her website JulieSeedorf.com. You can also find her on Twitter @JulieSeedorf.

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

  • Click on any of the book covers to go to Julie’s books on Amazon

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.
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Edinburgh Bookshops, Cooking School Mysteries, and Ghostly Inspiration with Paige Shelton

Good news for cozy mystery fans! Prolific author Paige Shelton still has lots of stories up her sleeves.

Paige Shelton ep 42Paige is the author of four cozy mystery series (so far); The Farmer’s Market series, the Cooking School mysteries, the Scottish Bookshop mysteries, and the Dangerous Type mysteries.

Today we chat about all of these books, as well as her book research trip to Scotland (only slightly postponed after a passport mishap. Also, no Jamie Fraser sightings, which is too bad. 🙂 ), how she writes multiple series at one time, and the special day a ghost came into Paige’s writing space and helped her out with a book idea.

You can find out more about today’s guest, Paige Shelton, and all her books on her website PaigeShelton.com. You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter.

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

  • Click on any of the book covers to go to Paige’s books on Amazon

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.
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Egg Wars, Silicon Valley, and Psychic Readings with Cassie Page

Where would you find an interior decorator, her tea-leaf reading best friend, and a hot fudge sauce recipe to die for?

Episode 40 Cassie PageIn Darling Valley, of course!

Today my guest, Cassie Page, shares with us her motivation and inspiration for writing the Darling Valley cozy mysteries, featuring amateur sleuth and interior designer, Olivia M. Granville (OMG).

We talk about her love of cooking (and her over 500 cookbooks!) and why she chose not to write culinary cozy mysteries, but instead created the fictional Darling Valley just outside her home of San Francisco.

I also want to mention that Vered Ehsani, who was my guest on It’s a Mystery Podcast episode 21, has a fun giveaway she wanted my listeners to know about. To celebrate the launch of her new Cozy Tea Shoppe Mysteries, she’s giving away three handmade African tea cozies. Click here to learn more and enter the giveaway.

You can find out more about today’s guest, Cassie Page, and all her books on her website CassiePage.com. Follow her on Facebook at CassiePageBooks.

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

  • Click on any of the book covers to go to Cassie’s books on Amazon
  • For the recipe for The Salted Caramel’s delicious hot fudge sauce, go to CassiePage.com and sign up for Cassie’s newsletter
  • Wikipedia page about the town of Darling and Sir Charles Henry Darling, who it was named after

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.
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Mysteries, Magic, and Filmmaking with John Gaspard

Magic is something I know almost nothing about. Luckily, my guest today, John Gaspard, who is a filmmaker as well as a writer, is here to talk about his magician-sleuth Eli Marks.

After John and I spoke I began reading the first book in the Eli Marks series and I love it. Eli is witty and smart, and in a heap of trouble in the first book, The Ambitious Card. Eli strikes me as a deeply thoughtful guy, someone who tries to see what’s going on behind the obvious, which is perhaps a perfect metaphor for what detectives and amateur sleuths – and magicians! – do. I suspect Eli is a bit like his creator, John, who was fun to chat with and clearly loves his writing hobby (he explains that he doesn’t like to think of it as a job).

If you like cozy mysteries with well-drawn characters and a sense of humour, I think you’ll like John’s Eli Marks series.

In the intro I mention that Skype was acting up on the day I interviewed John, so I hope the slightly bumpy audio isn’t too annoying for you listeners. I may have to beg John to come back on the show in January 2018 when his next book is released, so we can have a chat without having to deal with Skype’s idiosyncrasies.

You can find out more about today’s guest, John Gaspard, and all his books on his website Fast Cheap Movie Thoughts. You can also find him on Twitter @johngaspard and on Facebook.

This podcast episode is sponsored by the free mystery novella, Charlie Horse.

1890. Frontier British Columbia. When one of her students is accused of a crime, will new schoolteacher Julia Thom be able to prove his innocence?

For a limited time you can click here, or on the cover image at right to get your free copy.

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

  • Click on any of the book covers to go to John’s books on Amazon
  • John mentions his magician mentor Suzanne’s appearance on Penn and Teller’s show, Fool Us. Click here to see that. [8 mins]

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.
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Storytelling, Blowing Stuff Up, and Heir Hunting with JL Simpson

What do you do with a character who’s terrible at everything?

Today’s podcast guest, JL (Janet) Simpson, has a unique character on her hands, Daisy Dunlop. As you’ll hear her describe, Daisy is terrible at everything. Which is an interesting foundation for a character in a mystery novel.

But, as with so many of us, after multiple failures at finding her vocation, Daisy finally discovers an occupation she can call her own.

In the intro, I mention that the shortlist for the Arthur Ellis Crime Writing awards were announced last Friday. You can click here to see the whole list. It’s a great way to find new authors and books. The site also lists all the previous years’ short lists and winners, so you can work you way backwards, if you like.

Horse With No NameThis episode of the podcast is sponsored by my cozy mystery novel, Horse With No Name.

Would you risk your life simply to be yourself?

Julia Thom is new to the small town of Horse, but she’s not new to trouble. When reclusive watchmaker James Hunter is beaten, but has no memory of the event, Julia vows to find the culprits. Even if Hunter hadn’t saved Julia herself from being assaulted, she would still be on the case; meddling helps keep her focus off her own complicated life. Julia is fast becoming a thorn in Police Constable Jack Merrick’s side and he flounders as he tries to figure out how to deal with such a headstrong woman.

When the attackers strike again and the violence escalates, Julia’s determination redoubles, putting herself in more danger than anyone could have anticipated. While Julia and Merrick grapple with finding unknown assailants, they must also find a way to come to terms with one another.

This novel is FREE for a limited time at all online vendors:
KOBO
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes and Noble

You can find out more about today’s guest, J.L. Simpson, and all her books on her website JLSimpson.com. You can also find her on Twitter @JLSimpsonAuthor.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.
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Writing Comedy and Depth with Kim Hunt Harris

Just like life, Kim Hunt Harris’s Trailer Park Princess cozy mystery novels are a healthy mix of funny moments and challenging times for her amateur sleuth Salem Grimes.

When I read The Middle Finger of Fate, the first book in the series, I was struck by how funny Kim’s writing is, and how touched I was by her character Salem’s ups and downs. Salem is someone really REALLY trying to turn her life around. And she’s going through one of those times in life when no matter what she does things seem to wrong. And the harder she tries to right them, the wronger they go. (We’ve all had times like that!)

And yet, Kim’s writing is so funny, and so sweet, that I laughed outloud throughout the book. Don’t even get me started about the car with the ‘bucket’ seat. Oh my! 😉

If you like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, do yourself a favor and try out the Trailer Park Princess books. You can thank me later. 😉

You can find out more about today’s guest, Kim, and all her books on her website KimHuntHarris.com. And you will find her on Twitter @kimhuntharris.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

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Book Excerpt from Blogging Is Murder

Hello readers!

Today the lovely Gilian Baker has a treat for us. She’s got a brand new book coming out, Blogging Is Murder, and she’s sharing an excerpt with us, as well as some behind the scenes thoughts about why she wrote this book and the very current and present issues about online privacy and security that concern us all.

Take it away, Gilian!

******

The first book in the Jade Blackwell Mysteries series, Blogging is Murder, came about as a catharsis for the frustrations of trying to make a living from my first blog. The issues that arise are ones that every blogger deals with. And cyber-theft is a blogger’s biggest nightmare.

In the scene I’ve chosen to share, Jade, our protagonist, learns that her friend and fellow blogger, Liz Collins, has been hacked, and more besides. The hacker has taken over Liz’s blog and her social media profiles. The situation has now escalated and Liz is at her wit’s end. Jade meets her friend at the little tea shop in Aspen Falls, Wyoming, Tea & Sympathy, to offer comfort…and to satisfy her curiosity.

“Well, last night we decided to bring the sheriff in because the hacker—Connie is her name, by the way—showed up on our doorstep.” Liz took a gigantic breath once she’d gotten the words out.

“What?”

“Yeah, that’s why we’re so freaked out. But we didn’t want to make a scene in front of the kids, so we decided to go to the sheriff station today to see what he recommended.”

“So, what did he say?”

“First, we made an official complaint. I have to print out all the correspondence from my hosting and social media companies, so there’s proof in our file. Oh, my gosh, Jade. I have a file at the sheriff’s office.” She dropped her head into her hands as I grabbed for her tea cup before she tipped it over.

Reaching over the table, I patted her arm, making the usual comforting noises while she cried. Why would someone decide to invade her life like this? Why would someone go to the trouble of hacking to add to a blog and social media profiles? Were mine safe? I needed to take immediate action when I got home.

I stopped patting. “Wait a minute. This Connie woman showed up on your doorstep last night. How on earth did she find out where you lived?”

Liz’s red face looked up, her eyes peeking at me through her eyelashes. “My physical address is still on my accounts. You know that legally you have to have an address listed on the emails you send to your subscribers.”

I nodded, with a sinking feeling of what was coming next.

“I meant to get a P.O. Box, Jade, but it always got pushed back on the priority list. I mean, with all the other stuff you have to do as a blogger, it just didn’t seem that important, even though I’d read other peoples’ stories about similar situations. I guess in the back of my mind I just didn’t believe anyone would do it to me.”

She paused to blow her nose loud enough to make several patrons turn and look. “I’m not some huge celebrity, although the blog is gaining popularity.”

“Oh, Liz. Don’t blame yourself. I’ve been doing exactly the same thing. In fact, we’ve all heard those stories. But in every case, those savvy online entrepreneurs didn’t take action until someone came to their houses either.” I made a mental note to hit the post office PDQ to get the P.O. Box I’d been procrastinating.

*Note from Gilian:
Per FCC regulations, bloggers are required to include an address on all correspondence they send to people who sign up for their newsletters. Even though it’s recommended to use a P.O. Box as this address, it’s not uncommon for bloggers to use their physical address. The idea to add this to the story occurred when I read a post from a blogging personality who described a night when a fan showed up at her house asking for advice.

“Part of me knows that, but I keep thinking about the kids. I should have been protecting my family, Jade. But something else always seemed more urgent.”

“I know.” I patted her arm again. “What else did the sheriff suggest?”

“We started the process to get a restraining order against her so if she shows up again, they can do something. The cyber-crime stuff is less cut and dried.”

“Well, you know I’ll do whatever I can to help. Just give me a call.”

Liz blew her nose again, this time with barely a sound, and gave me a more genuine smile. “I know, Jade. I feel better just talking about it.” She looked at her watch and sniffed. “Oh, man. I’ve gotta get going. School lets out soon.” She looked up at me with wet, hazel eyes. “Thanks so much for dropping everything to meet me, Jade. I know you must have a hundred other things on your plate today.”

“Don’t be silly, Liz. Family and friends always come first.” As the words came out of my mouth, my mind went to my huge to-do list that had just gotten longer… now I needed to add “keep people from hacking my life” to it.

*******

One of the reasons I decided to include the cyber-security angle as part of the plot in the book was because of the pervasiveness of the problem. The average person now uses the Internet to shop, bank and file their taxes. What must it be like to also have to worry about someone hacking into your blog—the way you make a living? How can bloggers protect the personal information of the fans who buy their products and services? How difficult is it to get into someone’s Facebook account and post as that person?

Does the hacker go free? Is Liz able to save her livelihood? Who get murdered and why? The answer to these questions are answered in Blogging is Murder, now available for pre-order.

Gilian Baker is a former writing and literature professor who finally threw in the towel and decided to just show ‘em how it’s done. She has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger & ghostwriter to her CV. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggled up with her husband watching British mysteries or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines.

Connect with Gilian on her website or on Twitter @GilianBaker

Find Blogging Is Murder on Amazon.
Watch the book trailer.

Down the Rabbit Hole of Research with Tracy Tonkinson

Today I have a guest post by mystery author Tracy Tonkinson. Tracy was a guest on It’s a Mystery Podcast in 2016 (you can hear our chat about Chicago history and the inspiration for her novels here) and I’m thrilled to have her back to talk about the research she does for her mystery novels. In today’s article, she explores the fascinating origins of cesarean section births. How does that subject intersect with mystery novels set in 1880s Chicago, you ask? Read on to find out. Take it away Tracy!

madmanI wrote my first Diamond & Doran mystery, Madman, because I found a half-forgotten detail of history so compelling it begged for its own story.

Researching Madman was so intoxicating I almost forgot that I was supposed to be writing a book. And therein lies the problem for the historical novelist. If you love history as I do, then rummaging around in old books, online directories and ancient filing cabinets is as close to heaven as it gets. But it can also lead to the hell of the eternal rabbit hole.

I cannot tell you how many times I have started researching for the name of a real person to use in a Diamond & Doran mystery only to uncover so many other fascinating facts that I find myself diverted into outlining books 1 through 10 of a series yet to be written, which all sounds fantastic until I realise I am now weeks behind on the book I should be writing.

Madman came to me because of a real bombing incident that happened in Haymarket Square, Chicago in May 1886. The true perpetrator was never caught, though 9 men were hanged for involvement in the riot that followed. That anonymous perpetrator was my inspiration for Diamond & Doran’s hunt through the mean streets of Chicago to track down the culprit. Along the way, they became a real team and a series was born.

PoisonBook 2 in the series, Poison came about because I researched a serial killer only caught in Chicago in 1893, even though it was clear he had been stalking victims for years. The details were so horrific I wondered how he could have escaped detection for so long, so I devised a plot in my book that enabled my villain to come and go at will, enticing his victims to go with him willingly, if unwittingly, to their deaths.

Book 3, Vendetta has just hit Amazon and the research for this book took me to a different place. This time I wanted to explore something that would have a dramatic effect on Doran and his whole family, including his partner Diamond.

We all love a good medical drama. In the 19th century, medicine was at an exciting intersection between what may seem to us barbaric and even comedic treatments for a variety of ailments, and real progress in medical procedures. In Vendetta I got the chance to explore some of this progress.

The delivery of babies had for centuries been practised for women by women. By the 1880s there were qualified obstetricians with special skills and understanding of the dangers and complications that come with childbirth. But within the medical profession these specialists in childbirth were often considered to be little more than ‘baby catchers’ and held in low regard by many of the doctors in general practise. ‘Baby catching’ was, after all, women’s work and what self respecting male doctor would involve himself in something so menial?

vendetta-tracy-tAt a time when a child and its mother’s mortality rate was staggering by today’s standards the answer, I discovered through my research, was that a surprising number of young doctors were drawn to the complex business of helping women bring to full term, and then deliver, healthy children. One of these men was Dr. William Jaggard. Jaggard was a real obstetrician practising in Chicago during the 1880’s. He was an expert in the practise of Caesarian operations, a procedure so dangerous that the likelihood was, even if the child was saved, the mother would die from shock caused by blood loss, or through infection introduced during the procedure.

While the success rate for Caesarian section today is virtually 100%, for which I for one am thankful as the mother of a child delivered by C section, even the skills of someone as dedicated as Dr. William Jaggard were sometimes not enough to save mother or child. But researching Jaggard’s difficulties, both in surgical terms and in terms of getting the respect his skills deserved as an expert in childbirth, was a fascinating rabbit hole to fall into and proved that the work he did is still by and large the method used in modern C section today, albeit in more sanitary conditions and with far better understanding of the risks involved in anesthetics and blood loss for mother and child.

My next Diamond & Doran mystery will no doubt lead me into researching areas that I never imagined would be useful to my story idea, but sometimes you fall upon something while you research that is so juicy you just have to find a way to include it in your story. And that’s the real excitement of research.

Until next time, here I go, back down the rabbit hole!

To download Tracy’s book, Madman, for free you can sign up at: http://www.diamondanddoranmysteries.com/
Poison is available at: http://authl.it/6hj
Vendetta is available at: http://authl.it/6hs
Like the Diamond & Doran Facebook page at: Facebook.com/DandDMysteries/

TracyTTracy Tonkinson was born and raised in England and now lives in Ontario, Canada. She is a fiction writer and avid reader of historical mystery fiction, thrillers and adventure novels. Her aim as a writer is to make her readers laugh a little, cry a little and feel breathless with excitement as they race to the end of each adventure she involves them in.

Book Club Visit

img_0835I had a great time earlier this week visiting the King Albert Street book club in Coquitlam, BC.

The ladies in the club had read Horse With No Name and then asked me to join the group and answer questions. We talked about character motivations, history of the North Okanagan, transgendered cowboys, and lots more.

They even fed me cheese, which makes them my best friends for life. 😉