Happy Homicides 5: The Purr-fect Crime
by Joanna Campbell Slan, Linda Gordon Hengerer, LouLou Harrington, Neil Plakcy, Teresa Trent, Terry Ambrose, Amy Vansant, Randy Rawls, Christina Freeburn, Wendy Sand Eckel, and Karen Cantwell
GENRE: Cozy Mystery anthology
The purr-fect way to meet your new favorite author! This collection of traditional mysteries will be like catnip for feline-friendly readers. It’s paw-sitively the best Mother’s Day gift ever. Plus, you can email us to get a FREE Bonus File with recipes and holiday craft ideas. You’ll enjoy stories by these bestselling and award-winning authors: Joanna Campbell Slan, Linda Gordon Hengerer, David Bishop, LouLou Harrington, Neil Plakcy, Teresa Trent, Terry Ambrose, Amy Vansant, Randy Rawls, Christina Freeburn, Wendy Sand Eckel, and Karen Cantwell. For more information, go to http://www.HappyHomicides.com
THE NAMING OF CATS: A Rosalie Hart Mystery
Wendy Sand Eckel
Editor’s Note: The quaint little town of Cardigan on Maryland’s Eastern Shore seemed like the perfect spot for Rosalie Hart to open the Day Lily Café. A flat stretch of land between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern Shore is home to crusty watermen, dug-in farmers, and people who are fiercely proud to call it home. Rosalie has enough on her plate running the restaurant. But when her Maine Coon uncovers a mystery, the cat has been let out of the bag.
“Your cat is up to something,” Tyler said as he walked into my kitchen. I set a steaming cup of coffee next to him and watched as he scrubbed his hands under the faucet.
“I think Sweeney Todd is happy to be outside.” I lifted my coffee mug and blew over the surface to cool it. “This is the first day it hasn’t rained in over a week.”
He dried his hands and turned to face me. “Thanks for the joe.”
Tyler Wells leased the farmland of my new home, Barclay Meadow. It wasn’t really my choice to move here. Three years ago, when my dear Aunt Charlotte bequeathed me this two-hundred-year-old house and the vast land surrounding it, I was happily immersed in my married life in Chevy Chase. But all that changed when my husband of over twenty years pronounced his love for a much younger and blonder version of me.
The sun streamed through the windows, warming the honey wood floors. Tyler and I had fallen into the habit of sharing a cup of coffee every morning before we started our days. I checked the clock. I would be leaving soon to go to the restaurant I recently opened, the Day Lily Café, currently serving breakfast and lunch five days a week in the sleepy little town of Cardigan.
Tyler brushed his sandy blond hair off his forehead. “Sweeney is digging pretty close to the vegetable gardens. You might want to stop him.”
“I’m on it.” I set my coffee down and headed outside.
My shoes squeaked on the grass as I rounded the house. A dense mist rose from the Cardigan River at the end of the sloping lawn. It was a beautiful spring morning on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
I spotted Sweeney by an old Sycamore tree. Its trunk was gnarled and twisted looking like something out of Sleepy Hollow. He was digging furiously at the ground with his front paws.
My adopted Maine Coon cat was originally named Sweetie Pie. But on the first day I brought him home, he slaughtered four goldfinches in under an hour. That’s when Tyler suggested the name change. At the precise moment I started to disagree, Sweeney dropped a fifth lifeless bird on my peep-toe pump.
I knelt down next to him. He had dug so deep almost all nineteen pounds of him were immersed in the hole.
“Hey, what are you . . .” He swiped one paw with a particularly vigorous motion and a clump of dirt launched onto my black skirt. “Sweeney, for goodness sake.” He stopped digging and let out a long, guttural mmrrrow. He pushed back out of the hole and eyed me intently. My stomach tightened with dread. “What have you found, baby?”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
The authors are supplying a bonus gift for readers. They can receive it by sending an email to HH4Bonus@joannaslan.com
Happy Homicides 5: The Purr-fect Crime authors include Joanna Campbell Slan, Linda Gordon Hengerer, David Bishop, LouLou Harrington, Neil Plakcy, Teresa Trent, Terry Ambrose, Amy Vansant, Randy Rawls, Christina Freeburn, Wendy Sand Eckel, and Karen Cantwell. For more information, go to http://www.HappyHomicides.com or visit us at http://www.facebook.com/happyhomicides To read a free sample, get your copy of Happy Homicides 2: Crimes of the Heart here: http://bit.ly/2HHCrime
I’m honored to share this interview I did with award National bestselling and award-winning author Joanna Campbell Slan. She has written more than 30 books. Her non-fiction has been endorsed by Toastmasters International; her first novel was shortlisted for the Agatha Award; and her historical fiction has won the Daphne du Maurier Award. Joanna edits the Happy Homicides Anthologies and co-authors the Dollhouse Décor & More series. One of her short stories has been included in the prestigious Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology. Visit her at www.JoannaSlan.com
What do you think is the best way to publish these days?
I don’t think there’s one best way to publish. It really depends on your goals.
If you want to get a book out there quickly, if you are detail-oriented and technologically savvy, if you are business-minded, if you are willing to pay for services like editing and cover art, then self-publication is a fast-track option. In two weeks’ time, you can hold a paper book in your hands. If your only goal is to see your name on the cover of a book, this is definitely the way to go. That said, self-publishing can also be very disappointing. The average self-published author earns less than $500.
On the other hand, there’s a lot of cachet with traditional (legacy) publishing. To be able to tell people, “I have a New York publisher” feels good. Really good. (At least it does at first.) They pay you for your work. Money comes in rather than going out and that’s always a plus. However, the author must be prepared to give up a lot of control over the finished product. You’re also expected to do most of your own marketing, and that advance must be repaid before you earn more money. The turnaround time from manuscript to market is painfully slow.
In short, there is no one decision that’s best for everybody. (I’m not even going to touch on hybrid publishing. Suffice it to say, that might be the best of both worlds.) You need to carefully assess what you want, what you are willing to give up, how much money you’re willing to spend, how long you’re willing to hang in there, how comfortable you are with rejection, how willing you are to learn, and whether you are in this for the long haul…or not.
And even then, even after you think you’ve answered all these questions, it’s critical to realize that this industry is changing on a daily basis. Just because your decision is right today, doesn’t mean it will be right in six months or a year.
What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
My favorite genre is anything, anytime, anywhere. I am totally eclectic in my reading tastes, sprinkling non-fiction in with suspense, thriller, cozy mystery, biography, history, historical romance, romance, women’s fiction, sci-fi, paranormal, cereal boxes, dystopian, short stories …see? I can’t choose just one, and luckily I don’t have to.
But if you insist on pinning me down, I will admit that I really love mysteries. Mysteries deal with people at their best and their worst.
How do you approach starting a new book?
When it comes to writing a new book, I’m like a dog that turns around and around in circles, trying to find that perfect spot to lie down. Sometimes I’ll scribble notes, fill out worksheets, diagram relationships, plot scenes with sticky notes, and outline extensively. Other times, I dive right in. Typically there’s an idea I’m wrestling with, and it bugs me until I write about it. Over the years, I’ve learned not to worry too much about getting that first scene perfect. Instead, I will hack away at the book, building momentum. Then I step back and try to work out the first scene, which IMHO should be a like snow globe, a microcosm of the work that follows.
What are the best writing books or blogs you’ve ever read?
Best books and blogs on writing. Hmmm. I love Stephen King’s On Writing, Annie Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Hallie Ephron’s Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel, to name a few. William Zinsser’s On Writing Well totally transformed my writing career. He explains that writing is a process of discovery. Before I read his book, I thought I had to have all the answers before I started writing. Now I know that I’ll never have all the answers, and if I let that stop me, I’ll never get anything done. As for bloggers, Elizabeth Spann Craig offers terrific information. I’m a huge fan of Joanna Penn, for many reasons. Her podcast is essential for staying current with both writing and marketing.
What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?
To relax, I work on miniatures. Two years ago, I built my first dollhouse and entered it in an international contest. It received an Honorable Mention. Since then, I’ve felt like I can tackle anything! I’ve even used power tools. Whooohoo! And when you come to visit me at home in Florida, I’ll show you where I grouted my bathroom floor. (My motto is: If you can do it small, you can do it big.) When I’m not working on a structure or furnishings, I make miniature rugs, using French knots. (That’s 2,000 knots per square inch, in case you are counting.) Needlework designer Theresa Layman calls me a “knotty girl,” and I’m proud of that.
Do you have any personal heroes/heroines?
Personal heroines include authors Charlaine Harris and Elaine Viets. I fell in love with Charlaine’s Shakespeare series, especially when I read the scene where the protagonist Lily Bard told a whining woman that nobody has a charmed life. All of us have bumps, bruises, and scars. We fall, we pick ourselves up, and we keep going. Charlaine is incredibly wise, and her work springs from a deep desire to remind her readers of the importance of tolerance and acceptance.
Elaine Viets has been a wonderful friend and mentor. She’s also an inspiration, because she has survived six strokes and fought her way back to health. All of us in the mystery community wondered if she’d ever write again. Not only did she regain her ability to write, she’s going gangbusters and adding a new thriller series to her body of work. Although most people think of cozies as being lightweight, Elaine always includes social commentary in her books, which makes them a cut above the normal books in our genre.
Have you had any unusual or noteworthy occupations?
I worked in a greenhouse to put myself through college, Ball State. Back then, it was common to dig up local dirt, mix it with vermiculite, and use it for soil. Turns out, the government used to plant hemp—AKA marijuana—in Indiana during WWII for the war effort. The hemp was turned into rope. Those seeds lingered in the rich Hoosier farmlands. One day, as the greenhouse owner, Mr. Waldo, walked past me carrying a huge fuchsia, I did a double-take. It looked to me like pot had sprouted in the hanging planter. I pulled Mr. Waldo aside, told him what I thought he was holding—and watched in horror as he dropped the fuchsia and sprinted into his office. He came back with a Crimestoppers brochure written by local law enforcement agencies. Now you have to realize this was at the height of the War on Drugs. We were constantly being shown TV commercials that asked, “Why do you think they call it dope?” Dear Mr. Waldo was 70 years old and a real straight arrow. He opened the Crimestoppers booklet to a page where they’d attached a laminated cannabis leaf. Yup. I’d correctly identified an illegal substance. Mr. Waldo thought I’d saved him from a life behind bars. I became his official “mary-gee-wanna” spotter for the rest of my greenhouse career.
What was your best date ever?
My best dates have always been with my husband. The most memorable was the night in 2009 when we attended the Kennedy Center Spring Gala. I saw Barbara Walters, Alan Greenspan, and other luminaries milling about. We had prime seats in a patron’s box in the balcony. At the intermission, I loaded my purse with M&Ms, because I was starving. During the second half of the concert (a tribute to Hungarian music), I was the most popular girl in our box because I shared my candies. Afterwards, dinner was served on the plaza of the Kennedy Center, overlooking the Potomac. When I found my place at our table, I saw that the place card immediately to my right said: Béla Szombati, Ambassador to Hungary. I thought, Is this a joke? But it wasn’t! Béla had only been in our country ten days. He was as fascinated by me as I was by him. (And ladies, he was easy on the eyes. After a few drinks, a woman at another table came up and said to him, “I just loved you in that new James Bond movie.”) All in all, it was an enchanted evening.
Tell us something you are really proud of.
I’m really proud of my son. He’s loved video games ever since he was a kid, even though we did everything we could to dissuade him from playing them. Now he’s an owner of Team Dignitas, an esports company. He has a business partnership with the Philadelphia 76ers. How cool is that?
Can you confide something you wish you were better at?
I don’t think you have room for everything! Okay, here goes: I wish I was better at 1.) eating mindfully 2.) exercising regularly 3.) not getting my feelings hurt 4.) setting priorities 5.) saying, “No” 6.) scheduling my time 7.) being organized 8.) downsizing 9.) swimming 10.) sports in general 11.) accepting compliments 12.) moving outside of my comfort zones 13.) speaking French 14.) standing up for myself 15.) being kind to myself and…are you out of room yet?
Lol, we have the same goals 🙂
Joanna Campbell Slan: RT Reviews has called Joanna Campbell Slan “one of mystery’s rising stars,” and it’s easy to see why. She’s the award-winning and national bestselling author of three mystery series. Her first series, the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery series, was an Agatha Award Finalist, and features ace scrapbooker Kiki Lowenstein. Previous to writing fiction, Joanna penned seven scrapbooking technique books and wrote for Creating Keepsakes, Memory Makers, and PaperKuts. She has taught scrapbooking online, on cruises, and in Europe, as well as here in the US.
Linda Gordon Hengerer
Linda was a football widow during her first marriage, and she wrote American Football Basics (original title Football Basics) because she thought more women would enjoy football if they understood it. She is also interested in food and wine, and has written an easy guide to food and wine pairings.
New Jersey native turned Florida resident, Linda moved to Vero Beach in 1996. She writes the Beach Tea Shop Mysteries, a cozy mystery series set in an area suspiciously like Vero Beach.
Writer, traveler, and nature enthusiast Loulou Harrington is the author of the Myrtle Grove Garden Club mystery series. Originally a native of northwest Arkansas, Loulou now resides in the Tulsa area and spends frequent weekends wandering among the lakes and foothills of northeastern Oklahoma, the setting of her cozy series and an area she hopes her readers will enjoy as much as she does.
Beginning her career as a romance novelist, she published nine contemporary romances with Harlequin, writing as Ada Steward, before succumbing to the lure of her first love: the mystery novel.
First discovering Nancy Drew as a child and continuing with Miss Marple and Travis McGee as an adult, Loulou learned to appreciate the puzzle and suspense of the mystery combined with the familiar characters and settings of the recurring series. So while she still believes that into each life a little romance should fall, she has come to the opinion that it should trip over at least one dead body along the way.
Neil Plakcy is the author of the Mahu Investigations, mysteries which take place in Hawaii. They are: Mahu, Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire, Mahu Vice, Mahu Blood, Mahu Men, Zero Break, Natural Predators and Children of Noah.
His M/M romance novels are GayLife.com, Mi Amor, Love on Site, Love on the Web, Love on Stage, Love on the Pitch, and the Have Body, Will Guard series: Three Wrong Turns in the Desert, Dancing with the Tide, Teach Me Tonight, Olives for the Stranger, The Noblest Vengeance and Finding Freddie Venus.
He has also written the golden retriever mysteries In Dog We Trust, The Kingdom of Dog, Dog Helps Those, Dog Bless You, Whom Dog Hath Joined and Dog Have Mercy.
He is co-editor of Paws & Reflect: A Special Bond Between Man and Dog (Alyson Books, 2006) and editor of many gay erotica anthologies. A journalist, book reviewer and college professor, he is also a frequent contributor to gay anthologies.
Teresa Trent writes cozy mysteries that take place in small towns in Texas. She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee but with her father in the military, didn’t stay for long. She’s lived all over, but likes to call three states her favorite homes. Colorado, Illinois and of course, Texas. Being a fan of the Andy Griffith Show and Murder She Wrote she loves creating quirky small towns and colorful characters. She decided to feature a character with Down syndrome in the Pecan Bayou series because after giving birth to her own son with DS, she discovered there were very few people like him in the world of cozy mysteries. If you’re wondering which book to start with in the Pecan Bayou Series, start with #1 A Dash of Murder. Many of Teresa’s mysteries occur before or during a holiday and A Dash of Murder is her Halloween book.
Terry Ambrose started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark when “negotiations” failed.
A resident of Southern California, he loves spending time in Hawaii, especially on the Garden Island of Kauai, where he invents lies for others to read. His years of chasing deadbeats taught him many valuable life lessons including—always keep your car in the garage.
Amy specializes in fun, comedic reads about accident prone, easily distracted women with questionable taste in men. So, autobiographies, mostly.
Amy is the former East Coast Editor of SURFER Magazine but the urge to drive up and down the coast interviewing surfers has long since left her. Currently, she is a nerd and Labradoodle mommy who works at home with her goofy husband.
She loves interacting with fans when the dog isn’t laying on top of her, so stop by her blog or Twitter and say hi!
I’m Randy Rawls, author of mysteries and thrillers. I grew up in northeastern North Carolina, then did a career in the Army. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and have tried to incorporate what I learned from the best into my writing. While I live in South Florida, my heart resides in Texas. I’d love to hear from you at RandyRawls@att.net.
Reading has been a part of Christina’s life since she can remember and soon developed into a love of writing.
Read about her writing process, her hobbies, and the heroines she believes are a self-rescue princess at her blog The Self-Rescue Princess.
Wendy Sand Eckel
Degrees in criminology and social work, followed by years of clinical practice, helped WENDY SAND ECKEL explore her fascination with how relationships impact motivation, desire, and inhibition. Combined with her passion for words and meaning, writing mystery is a dream realized. She lives in Maryland where she enjoys family and friends, two cats, and living near the Chesapeake Bay.
Karen’s novel, Take the Monkeys and Run was a semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (under the original title of Monkeys in My Trees)and has gone on to be a Kindle bestseller on Amazon. She has written three more books in the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery Series: Citizen Insane, Silenced by the Yams, and Saturday Night Cleaver.
When she’s not writing, Karen loves gardening and spending time with her family. She is currently working on the release of Keep Me Ghosted, the first book in the new Sophie Rhodes Ghostly Romance Series, as well as beginning the draft of Kiss Me, Tate, part of the upcoming Barbara Marr spin-off, Love in Rustic Woods Series.