Happy Release Week, FATAL BRUSHSTROKE!

FATAL BRUSHSTROKEWhile celebrating the release of her debut cozy mystery, author Sybil Johnson stops by the Hen House to talk about her love for tole painting, her experience with Sisters in Crime, and what’s to come in Rory Anderson’s next mystery.

Like Rory, you also enjoy tole painting. What got you interested (and do you have a photo of your best design)?

I’ve always liked crafts. I learned to embroider in grade school. Over the years, I’ve tried my hand at crocheting, knitting, macrame, counted cross-stitch, tole painting, and scrapbooking.

I started tole painting (or decorative painting as it’s usually called these days) in the early 90s when a group of us at work gathered in a conference room once a week or so, ate lunch, and worked on various projects. The experienced painter in the group taught us newbies the basics. We painted many different designs, starting simple and getting more complex as we gained experience.

Rory and Liz are an entertaining and dynamic duo! Do you have your own partner in crime like Liz?

No one person fills the bill. In my day-to-day life, it’s my husband. At painting conventions, it’s my sister.

You’re a past president of Sisters in Crime LA and a 2011 co-chair of the California Crime Writers Conference. How have those experiences affected you and your writing?

In my six years on the SinC/LA board, I learned a lot about writing and the publishing world. (I wasn’t President for that entire time. I also served as Recording Secretary and VP/Program Director.) Ours is a large and active chapter. The board members, all volunteers, put in long hours and work very, very hard.

Through my involvement in Sisters in Crime, I’ve made a lot of friends, many of who’ve been published authors for years and have very generously taken the time to answer my questions and give me advice. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them.

Through my position as conference co-chair, I met a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise. And I’m using my planning experience to help me plan the fictional painting convention featured in PAINT THE TOWN DEAD.

One of the major story lines in FATAL BRUSHSTROKE deals with the main character, Rory, having birth parents who were arsonists. What drew you to the topic of arson, and what research did you do?

Arson is a crime I’ve always found interesting. Maybe that’s because I find fire very, very scary and fascinating at the same time. It has such power to destroy and is so unpredictable. (I swear I’m not an arsonist! I hate lighting matches. In junior high science class, my lab partner had to light the bunsen burner. To this day, I still won’t light a match.)

To learn about arson and arson investigation, I took an extension course at Cal State Fullerton that dealt with arson investigation and also read a few books on the topic.

What’s next for Rory? (Might there be romance in her future?)

In PAINT THE TOWN DEAD, Rory attends a painting convention where a friend of hers unexpectedly collapses and dies. She feels compelled to investigate when the death is ruled accidental. As for romance…time will tell!

Finally, tell us your favorite mystery novel and what draws you to that particular author and the genre as a whole.

I don’t have an absolute favorite mystery novel, though The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and And Then There Were None, both by Agatha Christie, rank up there. I also really enjoy the Vicky Bliss novels by Elizabeth Peters. As you can tell, I’m drawn to cozy mysteries, though I do read more hard-boiled stuff on occasion. I find cozies comforting. At the end, the crime is solved and order is restored, something that doesn’t always happen in real life.

Happy Book Birthday! FATAL BRUSHSTROKE

Deadly Design!  FATAL BRUSHSTROKE by Sybil Johnson

FATAL BRUSHSTROKEWe’re showcasing a state of the art debut: Sybil Johnson’s FATAL BRUSHSTROKE is out today! Grab your copy of the first Aurora Anderson mystery to experience the arts and crime, killer reputations, and first-rate sleuthing for yourself.

“Rory is definitely a quirky character; she has the ability to draw the readers in so that they want to follow her through adventures. Which is a good thing, because this is the first in a brand new series featuring Rory Anderson.” - Suspense Magazine

“Traditional mystery readers will love this debut author, Sybil Johnson, and her amateur sleuth…Johnson has an assured, steady hand in creating complex plotlines in Fatal Brushstroke. Readers will definitely want to revisit Vista Beach in Aurora’s next outing of investigating.” – Naomi Hirahara, Edgar Award-Winning Author of Murder on Bamboo Lane
As always, feel free to reach out if you have questions or comments – to the Hen House or Sybil.  We’d love to hear from you.

Hocus Pocus, Alakazam!

To celebrate the release of THE BULLET CATCH, we caught up with John Gaspard to talk about magic, balancing acts, and the challenges Eli Marks has to face in this thrilling sequel. Grab your copy today!

Congratulations on the release of THE BULLET CATCH! Are you doing anything special to celebrate?

GAspard Book Signing 1We’ll be doing a Launch Party on Nov. 5 at the Once Upon a Crime bookstore here in Minneapolis. The owners, Gary and Pat, are terrific supporters of local authors and great people as well. As part of the festivities, we’ll have live close-up magic, performed by the magician Suzanne. She was named Close-Up Magician of the Year by The Academy of Magical Arts and she is fun and phenomenal.

Eli has to juggle a lot in this book, just like you do in real life. How do you balance life as an author and a filmmaker?

People ask me all the time where I find time (with a full-time job) to also make feature films and write novels. The answer I give is often perceived as glib, but it’s the truth: My wife teaches ballet on Tuesday and Thursday nights, so I simply use those evenings to work on my various projects. You’d be amazed how much you can get done with a few focused hours a week. That’s my secret.

Eli Marks attends his high school reunion in THE BULLET CATCH. What is your most memorable reunion story?

Sadly, the reunions I’ve attended have not been anywhere as action-packed as what Eli experiences – no high school crushes were rekindled, no one was murdered, no panic attacks, no movie stars!

Brazil Book signingIn this book, Eli has to face a crippling fear of heights. What inspired you to add this challenge? Did you do any research into this type of fear and how people deal with it?

I gave that to Eli because it’s something I suddenly started experiencing myself a couple years back and I thought it would be interesting to give those symptoms to Eli as well. I’m a big fan of the mysteries written by the late Dick Francis and he was a master of giving his hero a personal obstacle to overcome that also helped to drive the story. It felt like a good obstacle to give to Eli and I certainly felt like I was in a position to describe how it feels to go through it!

I did research on the condition and found that it’s surprisingly common, with no real understanding of where it comes from. Oddly enough, I did foreshadow Eli’s condition in the first book in the series (The Ambitious Card), with no inkling that I’d be experiencing it myself before I wrote the second book.

THE BULLET CATCHDo you have a favorite magic trick? Favorite magician?

There are a lot of wonderful magicians out there and they’re the ones who really make a trick work. The simplest trick, in the hands of a master, can be a stellar experience.

For me, my favorite magicians are the ones I know: Suzanne, Bill Arnold, Scott Wells, Steve Carlson, Ardan James, Tina Lenert, Derek Hughes, David Parr. I also love watching any and all of them perform.

That being said, if you ever have a chance to see Juan Tamariz perform, run don’t walk. He is flat out phenomenal.

To purchase THE BULLET CATCH, visit these online retailers, or ask for it at your local bookstore.

Amazon Kindle     B&N Nook     Kobo   iTunes    GooglePlay

Amazon Paperback     B&N Paperback

Happy Release Week, DOUBLE STRIKE!

Gretchen Archer’s bestselling series continues with the third installment, DOUBLE STRIKE. Stay tuned as she talks hair mishaps, hashtags, and book four teasers.

ARCHER picWhen your second Davis Way Crime Caper released earlier this year, the first in the series, DOUBLE WHAMMY, hit the USA TODAY bestsellers list. How did you celebrate such an achievement?

I celebrated by waking everyone up. I have my titles set up on Google and Topsy alerts, and I work ridiculous hours—I’m at my desk every morning by 3:30—so that day I opened my email to the alerts with the subject line reading the usual, alert. Not READ ME NOW, YOU’LL BE SO GLAD YOU DID. A cup of coffee later, I clicked. And when I did, I ran screaming up the stairs at four in the morning with the news, scaring my husband and son to death. They thought the house was on fire. That was the beginning and the end of the celebration, except for a gorgeous graphic from my daughter Laura, who does all my great social media. I posted and tweeted. That’s all.

In DOUBLE STRIKE, Davis has a pretty incredible hair mishap. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to your own hair (purposeful or not)?DOUBLE STRIKE

Oh, good grief, I got extensions. You won’t even believe what a pain extensions are. First, they’re a huge commitment: time, money, and mental health. There are so many things they don’t tell you, including you can never scratch your head. You don’t think about asking, “How am I supposed to scratch my head?” because until you get those crazy things taped to your SCALP, your head has really never itched. I didn’t think to ask. I swear, I came this close to buying one of those metal garden claw things at Target just so I could scratch the itchy things. Another thing they don’t tell you? It takes four hours to dry your hair. FOUR SOLID HOURS. Then there’s the psychological factor. Salons really should screen potential extension clients thoroughly, and include this question: Are you going to be totally freaked out with SOMEONE ELSE’S HAIR ON YOUR HEAD? I had no idea. The next morning I waited until daybreak to text my stylist, Tra, (who gets a special mention in DOUBLE STRIKE, by the way), because I hadn’t slept a wink, and asked, “Is this hair from a dead person? If it is, just tell me now.” He told me where they were from—not a morgue—which went a long way in explaining the expense of it all and why the salon keeps the hair LOCKED IN A VAULT. (Honestly, there are a million things I’d steal before HAIR EXTENSIONS.) The freak factor was HUGE and no one tells you that beforehand. And the biggest thing you just can’t know up front—THEY RANDOMLY FALL OUT OF YOUR HEAD. I am NOT kidding. (“Uh, ma’am?”)(Humiliating.)

Davis has to master the art of hashtags while working as a social media assistant for Strike It Rich. If you had to sum up the book in three hashtags, what would they be? (And what’s your opinion on using them?)

#BananasInEveryBook #MadeItAllUp #Don’tDiscriminate #LoveHashtags

In all of the research (gambling?) you’ve done for your series, have you found a favorite casino? (And are you usually lucky when playing?)

I’d give my favorite casino a mention here, but every time the doorbell rings I’m relieved to see the pizza man, because I know any minute I’m going to be served with a cease-and-desist (writing Davis) from my favorite casino. So instead of naming it and speeding the process along, I’ll speak to casinos in general. I love the Bellagio in Vegas, fountain side. I was married and honeymooned at the Golden Nugget in downtown Vegas. (Some days I get so mad at the Golden Nugget.) Aria in Vegas was a one-time visit for me, because all the circulated air is exceptionally and profoundly vanilla scented. (Sneeze, sneeze.) By far, though, I love Southern casinos the best: New Orleans, Biloxi, Tunica, Shreveport, Cherokee, Immokalee, I love them all. Am I lucky? I’m like every other gambler; there are days when it’s my turn.

We know you won’t give much away, but can we have a sneak peek at what Davis will be up against in book four?

The question I’m exploring in #davis4: How many secrets can Bradley Cole keep?

Blogroll: Karen’s Killer Book Bench

Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer by Karen’s Killer Book Bench

Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where, every Wednesday, readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!

LOWCOUNTRY BOIL by Susan M. Boyer Book Blurb

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her. [Read more...]

Book Release Day!


Happy Release Day to debut author Susan M. Boyer!!! Her 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award-Winning Southern charmer, Lowcountry Boil, is available TODAY! This traditional mystery mixes mayhem and manners, enveloping the reader in sea, sand, and suspense. The Hen House is just bursting with pride over Susan M. Boyer and her fantastic page-turning gem. And we’re not the only ones who adore this book:

“Plenty of secrets, long-simmering feuds, and greedy ventures make for a captivating read…Boyer’s chick lit PI debut charmingly showcases South Carolina island culture.” – Library Journal

“Imaginative, empathetic, genuine, and fun, Lowcountry Boil is a lowcountry delight.” — Carolyn Hart, Author of What the Cat Saw

“I love this book. And you will too. Witty, droll, clever—and just a tad quirky! This light-hearted and authentically Southern mystery is full of heart, insight, and a deep understanding of human nature. Susan M. Boyer is a fresh new voice in crime fiction!” — Hank Phillippi Ryan, Anthony, Agatha & Macavity Winning Author of The Other Woman



Blogroll: Kaki’s Blog

Virgin No More: Susan M. Boyer! by Kaki Warner

And our next virgin is…(drumroll)…   SUSAN M. BOYER!  Susan has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit. Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine Review, Spinetingler Magazine, Relief Journal, The Petigru Review, and Catfish Stew. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® Finalist and a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist.

Susan is generously giving away one copy of her award-winning debut to one lucky commenter—in the format of the winner’s choice: Kindle, Nook, or Trade Paperback. So please come on by, read her wonderful post about her journey to publication, then go check out her mystery—Lowcountry Boil. It sounds like a wonderful read: here’s a taste… [Read more...]

Blogroll: Kristi Belcamino

Writer Interviews: Susan Boyer by Kristi Belcamino

I love this interview and getting to know my fellow Mysteristas gal, Susan Boyer, even more. We would totally have a blast hanging out together. And the lovely and talented Susan has offered to give away one of her books to a reader who posts a comment on this post by Wednesday, Sept. 26th. Thanks, Susan!

Here are Susan’s words of wisdom:

1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?

I typically try to be at my computer by nine in the morning with my second cup of coffee. Because I can’t seem to help myself, I check email, just in case something treś important requires my attention, which is almost never, but still. I log into and quickly out of Facebook and Twitter, again, just in case someone has posted something I need to see before I begin my day, like a really funny YouTube video.

By ten I’m putting words on the page or editing them. On a good day, I’m so engrossed in what’s going on in my alternate reality I forget to eat. When my stomach starts growling, I go to the kitchen and forage for anything to make the noise stop so I can get back to my characters. I’ve eaten some really odd food combinations because I couldn’t be bothered to go to the grocery store, or even a drive-thru window.

After lunch, I repeat the process until either my stomach growls again or it’s time to go to Jazzercise—or the exercise room if I’m out of town. When I’m traveling with my husband on business trips, I stop working when he does and we exercise then have dinner together. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Dru’s Cozy Report

September 2012 Reading List by The Cozy Chicks

Welcome to Dru’s Cozy Report. This month we have four new series for your reading pleasure.  Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer is the first book in the new “Liz Talbot” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, September 2012.

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her. [Read more...]

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