A Killer Cropper…

EMBELLISHED TO DEATHTo celebrate the release of Embellished to Death, Christina Freeburn dropped by the Hen House to answer our burning questions about the third Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery! Check out her insight on scrapbooking, family ties, and love triangles, and grab your copy of Embellished to Death today!

Congratulations on the release of Embellished to Death! We’ve heard you’re heading to a cropper’s retreat to celebrate. Any specific activities planned?

Thank you! I’m excited about this book as it takes Faith out of her comfort zone and introduces new people into her life. From September 26-28, I’ll be cropping away and having the book launch for Embellished at the Heavenly Scrapbook Retreats in Flatwoods, WV. Besides holding a special drawing at the retreat for attendees, no real plans yet, but the organizers are still working away. I can’t wait to hear what the theme will be this year. I might even get brave enough to decorate my cropping table!

Embellished to Death takes place at one such cropping weekend. How often do you attend these events? What is the most memorable thing you’ve experienced or witnessed at a cropper’s event?

I usually attend one retreat a year where I stay at a hotel and then two local weekend retreats where I go home every night. I find I get more scrapping done when I’m at a crop then when using my craft room. Less distractions like laundry to vie for my attention.WV Writers Conf me and pink bag

At a weekend retreat I attended over ten years ago, the organizer hired a night security guard to stay in the cropping room as the doors didn’t lock. Some of the tools we use for scrapbooking are expensive (like die cutting machines… whether manual or electronic).  Quite a few of the women were smitten by the attractive security guard. After much begging and pleading, he agree to “flash the ladies” by undoing his bullet resistant vest (the security guard was also a police officer and had just come off of duty… we weren’t that rowdy that he needed protection.) and allowed them a peek at his chest. Someone turned up some music, and a few of the croppers (not me, I swear) asked him to dance. He did decline that request.


Family and the bonds between them are an ever-present theme in the Faith Hunter series. Even when they’re not physically present, Faith’s grandmothers are still an important part of Embellished to Death. How does her relationship with them affect her?

Faith is very family-driven and her grandmothers are the most important part of her life. She believes they sacrificed for her and wants to do the same for them. A lot of the decisions she makes, and most of her worries, stems from wanting to make her grandmothers proud and ensuring no one thinks badly of them because of her actions. She’d do anything for her grandmothers, including putting herself at risk.

Embellished to Death deals with the current issue of identity theft. In your research, did you focus more on the point of view of the thief or the victim? Do you know anyone who has dealt with identity theft personally?

In the beginning of my research, I focused more on the victim and how identity theft affects them. Later, I switched to the thief because the why became just as important as the how a thief would prey on the women at the crop.

WV Writers Conf groupFortunately, no one I personally know has been the victim of an identity thief but for a few years my husband and I worried about it because we were vulnerable to having ours stolen. We were driving back from a family vacation and our van was broken into. The thieves stole our camera, laptop, and other items. We had switched over to a digital camera and had brought the laptop to transfer pictures over if the memory card was full. I had used the laptop to do our taxes and was certain the Turbo Tax software… and all our personal information… was on it. Now, I don’t use our “traveling” computer to do our taxes or store other personal information on.

Now that Faith has finally made her choice between Steve and Ted, is this the end of the love triangle, or is there more to come?

I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a big game-changer in Embellished that might be change the period on Faith’s decision to a question mark.

Scrapbooking is a big part of your writing and your life. Are you working on a project now? Any fun themes?

Currently, I’m working (still) on a Disney cruise album. Eight of us went on the cruise (one of them a toddler at the time), so hundreds of pictures were taken. It’s taking me some time to get everything into the albums. Yes, this one week-long trip needs two (might even be three) scrapbook albums for all the pages I’m making. I might even have to make a separate album for all the pics I had taken with just me and the characters!

Blogroll: CRIMINALELEMENT.COM

 

Fresh Meat: Designed to Death by Christina Freeburn

Kerry Hammond

DESIGNED TO DEATHDesigned to Death by Christina Freeburn is the second cozy mystery in the funny Faith Hunter Scrap This series set in Eden, West Virginia (available September 10, 2013).

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a typical scrapbooker.  But if there is, Faith Hunter would not be who I would imagine. She used to be in the Army, and has a secret past (so secret that Book 2 in the series does not yet reveal the whole story). She moved back to West Virginia to start fresh and work for her two grandmothers at their scrapbooking store Scrap This.  Since she was raised by her two grandmothers, she feels safe and secure back at home with them.  Well, as safe as anyone can feel with a murderer running loose.

The murder that takes place revolves around the most recently appointed Life Artist Diva, an honor given by the scrapbooking magazine Making Legacies to the person who submits the winning crop (meaning photos, not produce) layout.  The Life Artist Diva of the moment is Belinda Watson, and Faith has planned a signing and crop class to honor Belinda and bring in business for the store. Belinda’s cousin, Darlene, shows up claiming the work submitted to win the contest was actually stolen from her, and a brawl ensues. Let’s just say, not all the glitter in this story made it out unharmed.

Women paused and focused on the brawl. Apparently, they just realized the great gossip potential of a good catfight. Who wanted safety when the best scandal to hit the town in months was being displayed right in front of their very eyes? A few moved forward, clutching their cell phones and holding them out at arm’s length.

Wrapping my arms around Darlene’s waist, I tugged. She reached back with one hand and clawed at my face.

“It’s mine! She stole it!” Darlene lashed out with her legs. One hand tightened on Belinda’s handmade t-shirt. “It’s mine!”

“Let go of my daughter!” Hazel squeezed the trigger of the glue gun. Hot liquid glue dribbled from the nozzle and splattered on Darlene’s hand.

Darlene snarled and hissed in pain but kept hold of Belinda. I tightened my grip on the raging scrapbooker and pulled.

A cloud of blue, yellow and green dust attacked our eyes. Hazel wielded the glue gun in one hand and a plastic jar of glitter in the other.

Was she trying to brand us?

Darlene twisted and turned her hips, killer heels jabbed into my legs. I hung on for Belinda’s dear life.

Rip. I cringed. Underneath us, paper crinkled. Profits destroyed. I wanted to plead for help but was afraid my grandmother Cheryl would jump into the mix. I just needed to restrain Darlene for a little longer. Grandma Hope was probably on the phone right now arranging for either Steve or Ted, the detective who I tried to get along with for the sake of staying on his good side, to come as my back up.

As the specks of color continued to rain down on us, Darlene twisted her head and started blowing in Hazel’s direction while continuing to kick at me.

“My eyes!” Hazel screeched.

The color bombardment stopped. The container clattered to the floor. Though, unfortunately for me, Darlene persisted in attacking me with her heels.

The author is able to weave in humor (as evidenced above) but also suspense, and even a little bit of romance. Faith’s secret past includes a bad marriage to a guy who tried to pin a murder on her. So her choice in men hasn’t been that great so far. She’s really trying to take it slow and figure out where she wants to be in life, but she also has two guys who are interested in her and who want to take it to the next level.

Because of her previous bad choices, she isn’t sure which she wants. Does she move forward with Steve, an extremely sexy and kind prosecutor, or does she give in to advances made by Ted, the handsome homicide detective?  As much as Faith wants to be independent, she’s drawn to these two men, but feels that Steve in particular, might be really good for her:

My closed hand rested on the muscular — and naked — chest of Steve Davis. An anime-style angel decorated the upper half of his left forearm. Something coiled inside of my stomach and blocked my vocal cords. On its own accord, my hand opened. The warmth of his body slowly worked its way through me. All I could do was stand and stare. I’m sure my expression matched the wide-eyed, disbelief playing itself on Steve’s face.

Steve stood in front me bare-footed, bare-chested, and wearing tight jeans. His hair was mussed. A protective and angry expression replaced the shocked look. He wrapped an arm around my waist and drew me inside.

“What’s wrong?” One strong arm cradled me to him; the other hand stroked my hair. His warmth and care wrapped around me. I leaned into his embrace. Savoring and falling into the moment. My eyes drifted closed. Why had I been fighting this for so long? This felt right. I sighed.

If you’re a series lover like me, you’ll be happy to know that is the second in the Scrap This series, and a third is due in 2014.  And, if you become a Christina Freeburn fan, she also writes an inspirational romantic suspense series.

Blogroll: Chloe Gets A Clue

Person of Interest – Christina Freeburn

DESIGNED TO DEATHThe West Virginia writer drops by to dish about her scrappy sleuth, Faith Hunter. 

I’m excited to be the first stop on Christina Freeburn’s Great Escapes Blog Tour and will give away one copy of Designed to Death to mark the occasion. To enter, leave a comment below and the winner will be drawn at random. (U.S. residents only please.)

Christina’s Faith Hunter “Scrap This” mystery series brings together her love of mysteries, scrapbooking, and West Virginia. When not writing or reading, she can be found in her scrapbook room or at a crop. Alas, none of the real-life crops have had a sexy male prosecutor or a handsome police officer attending.Christina Bio002

Christina served in the JAG Corps of the US Army (she does look a little like Christine Bell from the JAG TV series, doesn’t she?) and also worked as a paralegal, librarian, and church secretary. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, children, a dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid or allergic to felines.

Chloe: As a decorator, I’m always interested in creative spaces. Tell me about your writing space and/or your scrapbooking space. What about them inspires you?

Christina: My writing space also doubles as my scrapbooking space (when I’m using the Cricut as the machine is hooked to my computer). I used to work in a large closet but moved into a bedroom when my daughter got married and moved out. Well, actually a year after as I needed to remove her stored items and find the perfect desk.  I wanted a large U shaped desk that had a nice space for me to spread out when editing. The first draft I always print out and need space to rearrange chapters if needed.

Christina Freeburn OfficeMy office is also where I “house” the majority of my Disney collection and my “book collection” as my family calls all the writing related books (technical and research material for projects) I own. Having books around me when I write is an inspiration. I’ve always loved reading and seeing books reminds me why I ventured into writing.

Chloe: What do writing and scrapbooking have in common? Doing both sounds like a good way to cross train your brain.

Christina: Writing and scrapbooking both involve telling stories. With the type of writing I do, I get to make up what happens in my characters. When I scrapbook, I recreate with words what my family and I have done and experience.

Chloe: What aspect of writing do you consider your super power and what do you consider your kryptonite?

Christina: In writing my super power I’d say is ideas. For some reason, my mind loves to “what if” and I have a notebook filled with storylines and plots for other books. My kryptonite is keeping my characters under control.  So many times, especially with this newest book I’m working on, my characters insist on getting off the path I create and I end up “lost”. I need to try a little hard to stay on the course I’ve mapped out.

Chloe: If you could steal the muse of another writer, whose would you take?

Christina: This is a hard question. I don’t know if I could steal anyone else’s muse…I’m afraid they’d come and hurt me.

Chloe: If your life had a soundtrack, what artists would be on it? (Given your last name, I’m guessing Lynard Skynard’s “Freebird” is not on it?)

Christina: Kelly Clarkson, Pink, OneRepublic and you’re right…not Lynard Skynard.

Chloe: Tell me about your Faith Hunter “Scrap This” series and what happens to your latest, Designed to Death.

Christina: In Designed to Death, Faith Hunter is excited about an event she’s hosting at Scrap This which features local scrapbooker and Life Artist Diva, Belinda Watson. Her hard work is ruined when Belinda and her cousin, Darlene Johnson, brawl over scraplifted designs. Faith’s attempts at breaking it up makes things worse and when Belinda turns up dead behind the Scrap This store, Faith finds her name tied to the death. She sets out to prove her nemesis, Darlene, committed the crime, only to realize they are both innocent. In order to clear her name, Faith finds the solution is to team up with her Darlene.

Chloe: Do you know “whodunit” before you start your books, or do you have to follow the clues along with the rest of us?

Christina: I usually believe I know “whodunit” but with every book so far I’ve found out I was wrong. Just discovered this with a book I’m writing now. No wonder I couldn’t get the plot working right since I had the wrong murder pegged.

Chloe: What were the first mystery series you fell in love with?

Christina: The Hardy Boys

Chloe: How do you market your books? What’s been your most effective tactic and what do you consider a necessary evil.

Christina: I market through social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc) and also in person events like book conventions and crops. I’ve had great experiences with both. I love crops the best because I can work and have fun. And twitter is my necessary evil because I have a hard time writing “short”.

Chloe: Tell me a guilty pleasure you can’t live without. (Spoiler alert, mine is chai.)

Christina: Twizzlers (the peel and pull type…I really need to stop having these in the house)

Chloe: Yum. I love those too! Who was the first champion of your writing and how did that make you feel?

Christina: My eleventh grade English teacher Mrs. Scott. I never felt like I had a niche when I went to school, and though I wanted to write never thought I was good at it. When she used a poem I wrote as an example for an assignment as most in the class hadn’t understood it. I was floored. She gave me hope that I had a chance of seeing my dream (having books published) come true.

Chloe: What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to establish yourself as a writer?

Christina: Finding the proper balance between writing and marketing. Both need to be done and it’s real easy to have one element of your career take over and overshadow the other.

Chloe: What do you have planned next for Faith Hunter?

Christina: Faith Hunter will be going out of Eden in the third book, Embellished to Death, which is scheduled to be released April 22, 2014.

Chloe: How can fans connect with you?

They can connect with me on

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christina.freeburn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristinaFreeb1

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/chrisfreeburn

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5315723.Christina_Freeburn

Or by email at scrapthismysteries@gmail.com

About Designed to Death

Faith Hunter planned the perfect event at her grandmother’s shop, Scrap This, featuring local scrapbooker and Life Artist Diva, Belinda Watson. But the extravaganza goes up in a cloud glitter when Belinda and her cousin, Darlene, brawl over scraplifted designs. Faith attempts to break it up, but only makes things worse. Then when Belinda turns up dead behind the Scrap This store, Faith’s involvement goes viral.

As accusations against her turn vicious, Faith sets out to prove her nemesis, Darlene, committed the crime, only to realize they are both innocent. Now they must team up or the murderer’s plan will come together seamlessly with the frenemies sharing a jail cell—or worse, a funeral.

And don’t miss Cropped to Death (First Book in This Series)

Release Day! DESIGNED TO DEATH by Christina Freeburn

DESIGNED TO DEATHTo celebrate the release of the newest Scrap This Mystery, Christina Freeburn visited the Hen House to answer a few questions about DESIGNED TO DEATH and how her personal life experiences played a role in her books. From fashion to writing, Christina gives us thoughts on staying true to yourself while still achieving success.

1. We love your new look! From you first Henery picture to your new one, it’s like looking at a completely different person. Care to share any fashion-forward tips for those looking to make a change?

Don’t be afraid to take a chance. I don’t consider myself fashion-forward at all, I’m just willing to try on something, or take my hairstylists advice and go with a different color or cut. I’ve had my hair short for a long time, so I took the suggestion of growing it out and getting a fun, vibrant color. I figure if I didn’t like it, I could cut it short again and get a new color.

2. Along with the JAG Corps, you’ve dabbled in a variety of different interests and careers paths. Why did you choose the JAG Corps as the career choice for your characters, and would you consider writing mysteries with a protagonist as a paralegal or librarian?Christina Freeburn

When I started the scrapbooking series, I wanted there to be a reason why Faith’s friend turned to her for help, and at the time, JAG was a popular TV show. Since I’d been in JAG, I decided that was the answer. (There was a long time between when I came up with the idea, wrote it, rewrote, edited, more editing, and then it got picked for publication.)

One of the questions people asked when they found out I had been in JAG was whether I did some of the things or shared some of the same experiences as the characters on the show. I always told people real JAG was not quite as exciting as the show portrayed…it involved a lot of typing and paperwork and no real investigating from our end.

I’d consider writing a mystery where the protagonist is a librarian and maybe even a paralegal. The last one would be a little more difficult as laws change and vary from state to state. I’ve never worked in that field in West Virginia and I have been out of the legal field for awhile now.

3. You blog about the ins and outs of managing your writing business. What quick tips would you offer new authors, and what do you wish you yourself had known when starting out?

For new writers, some quick tips are:

1. Schedule writing time as you would any other appointment or commitment.

2. Have a budget for your business that won’t cause stress.

3. Find your writing voice and write as you. 

What I wished I had known is that every path will be different. In the beginning, I tried too hard to duplicate what worked for others, getting frustrated and then redoing those efforts because I thought I did it “wrong” rather than finding what worked for me.

4. As the Hen House expert on everything scrapbooking, what is scraplifting and what’s the difference between lifting and booking?

Scraplifting is when a scrapbooker uses a design someone else created as the inspiration for their layout. Sometimes, it’s an exact copy (except for the photos) and other times elements are “lifted” and used. The difference between scraplifting and scrapbooking is that “booking” is when the creator of layout makes the page from “scratch” rather than using another design as a template.

5. And as always, we are curious as to what it is you’re reading. Could you tell us the title of your favorite mystery and what makes that book so special?

My favorite mystery book of all is WHAT HAPPEND AT MIDNIGHT by Franklin W. Dixon. It’s the mystery book I remember reading where I fell in love in with the characters, setting and sleuthing. I can’t remember exactly what made me feel that way, just that the book has always stayed in my heart. It was the book that made me read the rest in the Hardy Boys and I still “keep up” with the series and the spin-offs from the original. My favorite Hardy Boys books are the “Blue Spine” series.

Thank you so much, Christina, for taking the time to chat with us. We are all very excited about today’s DESIGNED TO DEATH release and we wish you all the best!

Available at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Announcing the WINNER of our PIN IT to WIN IT Contest

8c51738240e8e4702d4cd03e792b5ae3And the winner is…Kathy Main! She won this week’s Pin It to Win It Book Hunt Contest for Christina Freeburn’s CROPPED TO DEATH. Kathy’s Pinterest board shows the coolest grandmothers – from sweet to sassy! We loved it, but don’t just take our word for it. Check it out here: http://pinterest.com/tink1216/cropped-to-death/ 

PRIZES! not just praise – Congratulations to Kathy who will receive $50 Visa gift card, 3 Henery Press eCards, a Henery Press coffee mug, an ARC of our latest release, plus a spotlight right here on our blog.

 Honorable mention goes to both Gena Rasmussen and Connie Schulz – love those grandmas…

 Thanks to everyone who participated. What a blast to look through all the boards! Faith’s scrappy world really came to life through some truly creative pinning. We hope you had just as much fun as we did perusing and pinning! 

Agatha Noms Due Soon

Agatha Noms Due Soon

For those who registered early for Malice Domestic, January means its nomination time. Those Hollywood Oscar folks aren’t the only ones who get to have all the fun…

Malice attendees have the opportunity to spotlight the best and brightest in mystery writing by nominating favorites for Agatha Awards. This year, Henery Press has several eligible titles, and we’re proud as a peacock to be able to share them with you.

 Best First Novel:

** Diners, Dives & Dead Ends by Terri L. Austin (July 2012)

** Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Hoffman (August 2012)

** Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer (September 2012)

 Best Novel:

** Cropped to Death by Christina Freeburn

 Best Short Story:

** Switch Back by Kendel Lynn (December 2012)

** Fool’s Gold by Gigi Pandian (December 2012)

** Midnight Ice by Diane Vallere (December 2012)

(Note: All three shorts were featured in OTHER PEOPLE’S BAGGAGE, and qualify individually in the Best Short Story category.)

We’ve been lucky little chickens to have such charming, funny, crafty, twisty, mysterious whodunits in the Hen House, and truly appreciate the support the community has shown us. We’re so looking forward to attending Malice Domestic in May, and hope to meet you there!

Blogroll: Mystery Tribune

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5 New Picks For The Lovers Of Cozy Mysteries

If you like cozy mysteries, make sure to check out these new exciting titles; you will not be disappointed:

LAST DINER STANDINGLast Diner Standing By Terri L. Austin: Rose Strickland is having a blue Christmas. Her friend is arrested for attempted murder, her sexy bad guy crush is marked by a hit man, and her boss is locked in an epic smackdown with a rival diner.

Determined to save those she loves, Rose embarks on an investigation more tangled than a box of last year’s tree lights. With her eclectic gang at the ready, Rose stumbles across dead bodies, ex-cons, chop shops, jealous girlfriends, jilted lovers, and a gaggle of strippers in a battle for freedom she might not survive.

13520172Pillow Stalk By Diane Vallere: Interior Decorator Madison Night has modeled her life after Doris Day’s character in Pillow Talk, but when a killer targets women dressed like the bubbly actress, Madison’s signature sixties style places her in the middle of a homicide investigation.

The local detective connects the new crimes to a twenty-year old cold case, and Madison’s long-trusted contractor emerges as the leading suspect. As the body count piles up like a stack of plush pillows, Madison uncovers a Soviet spy, a campaign to destroy all Doris Day movies, and six minutes of film that will change her life forever.

CROPPED TO DEATHCropped to Death By Christina Freeburn: Former US Army JAG specialist, Faith Hunter, returns to her West Virginia home to work in her grandmothers’ scrapbooking store determined to lead an unassuming life after her adventure abroad turned disaster. But her quiet life unravels when her friend is charged with murder, and Faith inadvertently supplied the evidence.

So Faith decides to cut through the scrap and piece together what really happened. With a sexy prosecutor, a determined homicide detective, a handful of sticky suspects and a crop contest gone bad, Faith quickly realizes if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next one cropped. [Read more...]

Hen House Holiday Sale!!

Ho Ho Ho!  It’s a Hen House Holiday Sale on the entire Henery Press Mystery Collection thru Jan. 13th.

Holiday-Sale-20122-500x289

Save up to 80%, so load up that kindle or nook little chickens…

DINERS, DIVES & DEAD ENDS on Sale 99¢

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo

DINERS, DIVES & DEAD ENDS

PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY on Sale 99¢

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo

PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY

LOWCOUNTRY BOIL on Sale 99¢

Amazon      Barnes & Noble      Kobo

LOWCOUNTRY BOIL

CROPPED TO DEATH on Sale 99¢

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo

CROPPED TO DEATH

LAST DINER STANDING on Sale $2.99

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo

LAST DINER STANDING

OTHER PEOPLE’S BAGGAGE on Sale 99¢

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo

OTHER PEOPLE'S BAGGAGE

 

Blogroll: dru’s book musings

Those Darn Racks…A Day in The Life of Faith Hunter by Christina Freeburn

 

“Your grandmothers said you needed my help.” Steve placed a large cup of coffee on the counter, pushing it toward me.

I held in my sigh…a cross between annoyance, resignation and appreciation of a man’s hotness. One thing Steve had going for him was his keen insight on how a peace offering made meddling a little better–especially, when his offering combined caffeine and chocolate into a delicious beverage. Once again, I’d forgive his attempt to play knight-in-shining armor to the damsel-in-distress my grandmothers kept insisting I was.

“Can’t say that I do.” I lifted the foam cup to my mouth and blew on the steam.

Steve’s mouth quirked up. Darn him. Why did he have to be gorgeous? It would be so much easier if he lacked manners, never showered, and my grandmothers loathed him. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Scrapping Is Heart Work blog

Scrapbooking mystery is beautifully composed by Cynthia McCloud

 

A first for me and this blog — I read and reviewed a scrapbooking mystery!

Here’s my review of “Cropped to Death” by Christina Freeburn, a fellow writer, West Virginian and scrapbooker.

“Cropped To Death” is a cozy mystery that exceeds expectations. The author, Christina Freeburn, writes what she knows: scrapbooking and small-town West Virginia life. As a West Virginian who scrapbooks and runs a scrapbooking retreat for women, I was excited to get my hands on an Advance Reader Copy. The 290-page book, published by Henery Press, will be on sale Nov. 20, but you can pre-order it now from Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. [Read more...]

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