Bouchercon 2014

BOUCHERCON 2014 | Murder at the Beach


Henery Press Authors Attending:

Art Taylor,  Annette Dashofy, Diane Vallere, Gigi Pandian, Kendel Lynn, LynDee Walker, Nancy Cole Silverman, Susan M. Boyer, Sybil Johnson, Wendy Tyson


8:30 – 10:30

Susan Boyer, Kendel Lynn, Gigi Pandian, Diane Vallere

Author Speed Dating

1:00 – 2:00

Gigi Pandian

Murder in a Locked Room: Solving the “Perfect” Crime

(Promenade A)

12:30 – 3:30

Susan M. Boyer

Where Do You Like Your Violence? Spilling Blood On Page and Off

(Promenade B)

4:00 – 5:00

Art Taylor

Short But Mighty: The Power and Freedom of the Short Story

(Regency D)

4:00 – 5:00

LynDee Walker

Just The Facts: Journalists Solving Crimes

(Promenade C)


10:00 – 11:00

Diane Vallere

Sassy, Sexy, Smart Female Protagonists

(Regency B)

3:00 – 4:00

Diane Vallere

Craft 4: Cupcake Pincushions


4:30 – 5:30

Wendy Tyson

Cute and Sweet, But With a Twist: Cozies With Attitude



8:30 – 9:30

Sybil Johnson

Add Spice To Your Crafts: Murder With Your Favorite Hobbies


8:30 – 9:30

Annette Dashofy

Murder Among the Medical Profession

(Regency A)

10:00 – 11:00

Kendel Lynn

The Fine Art of Murder: Mysteries in the Museum and Art World

(Regency B)

11:30 – 12:30

Diane Vallere

We’ve Got Grit: Traditional to Thriller to True Crime

(Regency C)

12:30 – 1:30

Gigi Pandian

Bouchercon 2014 Anthology Signing

(Promenade 104 Lobby)

1:30 – 2:30

Susan M. Boyer

Plenty of Crime, Y’All: Southern Murder and Mischief

(Promenade C)

Blogroll: Jungle Red Writers

Love in the Low Country!

HANK ON TOUR: in Minneapolis today! Come join me and THE WRONG GIRL at Once Upon A Crime at 7pm! And now….our special guest!

Boyer-1839-smallHANK: So funny. I thought—what should I write to introduce the fabulous Agatha-winning and USA Today best-selling Susan Boyer? And here’s the voice that came to mind “Oh my GOSH, y’all, Susan Boyer is a force of NATURE.” Then I thought, waaaitaminit, I don’t have a southern accent.

Hmm. But that is just how infectious she is. She’s hilarious, intelligent and a terrific writer. Her debut, LOW COUNTRY BOIL won the Agatha, quite a triumph for her and her terrific publisher Henery Press. (Jungle Reds LOVE Henery, y’all. I mean,  sigh, well, you know.)
So—imagine her voice answering…as we get the scoop on her brand new book! (And at the end–a question for YOU!)

HANK:  Tell us what this book is about!

SUSAN BOYERLowcountry Bombshell is the story of my Southern Private Investigator, Liz Talbot’s, next case. Liz thinks she’s seen another ghost when she meets Calista McQueen. She’s the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe. Born precisely fifty years after the ill-fated star, Calista’s life has eerily mirrored the late starlet’s—and she fears the looming anniversary of Marilyn’s death will also be hers.
Before Liz can open a case file, Calista’s life coach is executed. Suspicious characters swarm around Calista like mosquitoes on a sultry lowcountry evening: her certifiable mother, a fake aunt, her control-freak psychoanalyst, a private yoga instructor, her peculiar housekeeper, and an obsessed ex-husband. Liz digs in to find a motive for murder, but she’s besieged with distractions. Her ex has marriage and babies on his mind. Her too-sexy partner engages in a campaign of repeat seduction. Mamma needs help with Daddy’s devotion to bad habits. And a gang of wild hogs is running loose on Stella Maris.
It’s just another day in paradise…

HANK:  Wild hogs?

LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELLLOL! Yes, wild hogs. Actually, wild pigs have been around the lowcountry since the 1500s when the Spanish released them. In fact, wild pigs have been reported in all 46 counties in South Carolina. However, the Spanish pigs never reached Stella Maris as no one ever let them on the ferry. The Stella Maris hogs are a whole ’nother story. You see, in the aftermath of a hurricane back in the 1800’s, most of the livestock wandered the island until fences and barns were repaired or rebuilt. This particular gang of hogs was never apprehended. They are mostly harmless, but they like to snack on delicacies found in flowerbeds and vegetable gardens, which makes them unpopular with the human residents of the island.
There’s been a lot of discussion regarding what to do about the infestation, but no consensus has been reached. Several of the island’s matriarchs are too tenderhearted to hear tell of the hogs being exterminated, and the swine are wily enough to evade efforts at rounding them up.

HANK: What was the moment you got the first idea for the plot of this book?  Or was your first idea about “plot” ? How did you know when you had a book?

The character of Calista McQueen came to me first. In fact, my initial idea was for a book where she was the main character. She may get her own series one day, if Liz will have that. She may want to keep me busy with her stories. But I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe and her story. When I was working on the family trees for my Stella Maris families—yes all the families on Stella Maris have a family tree. I can trace them all back to the Revolutionary War—I started wondering about the loose ends in Marilyn’s family tree. I started researching her. I knew I had a book when I realized my doppelganger was in danger and would need Liz to figure out where the danger was coming from.
I love revisiting Liz and her quirky family and friends on Stella Maris. But I also love the character of Calista McQueen. Like Marilyn, she’s so much smarter than people give her credit for. And I really love that Liz’s romantic life gets to play out a bit in this book.

HANK: Talk about “low country ” What does that mean? How does that affect your story?

Ah, the lowcountry is the coastal area of South Carolina. Especially around Charleston, there’s just so much history, and it’s such a romantic place. It’s my chosen literary landscape because I have a lifelong love affair with the area. Huge live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, wrought iron garden gates that keep in the family secrets…my imagination runs wild. The setting really is a character in my story.

HANK: Have you always wanted to write mysteries? Why start now?  Did you set out to write a series?

Oh, my, yes. I’ve wanted to write mysteries since I was a child reading Nancy Drew. Actually, for a long time I wanted to BE Nancy Drew. Then I settled on writing mysteries where the detective was a little older and got to know her boyfriend a little better. But my parents were more comfortable with a career goal that wouldn’t mean I’d be living in their house another ten years in the best case scenario, so I studied computer business systems and got a “real job.” But I continued to read every spare minute and dream about writing. Then a few years—okay—now it’s been nearly nine years ago—the company I worked for went out of business. Up until then I hadn’t had time to write. I know, you do it all, but you’re a super-hero. Yes, I started out knowing I wanted to write a series because those are my favorite books to read. I love revisiting characters I know. It’s like spending time with old friends.  

HANK: What’s it like for you, writing? Are you a happy smiling person at the keyboard? Or do you tear your hair out, worrying that this will be the time you never get it right?

I am at my happiest when I’m writing. I get completely lost in my alternate reality, and just pour it all out onto the page. The “Oh my gosh this is horrible and I’ll never get it right” phase comes later in the process for me—during editing. And again while my beta reader has the manuscript, and again while my agent is reading, and most of all once I hit send to turn it in to my editor. Until I know she likes it, I’m convinced it’s horrible, and I’ll never write another book worth reading. That’s when I start wondering if I’m qualified to be a barista.

HANK: Well, it’s terrific…and I (don’t hoot at me, Kaye Barley) had no idea what “low country” was until I met your books. Guess I should have gone to geography that day!

Susan of course, is hard at work on her next Low Country adventure…what “southern” thing do you think she should include? And a copy of LOW COUNTRY BOIL to a lucky commenter!


Read ‘Lowcountry Bombshell’ by Susan Boyer

by Lynn Farris on September 6, 2013

LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELLI loved Susan Boyer’s first book, “Lowcountry Boil” which won the Agatha Award for best first novel. It was additionally nominated for the The Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Mystery /Suspense as well as a Macavity Award for best first novel. “Lowcountry Boil” made the USA Today Bestselling Book list, a remarkable feat for a first novel.

After this auspicious start, I wondered if the second book in the Liz Talbot Mystery series, “Lowcountry Bombshell” could be as good. In many ways, I found it better. It is funnier, darker and sexier.

As the story opens, Private Investigator Liz Talbot is hired by Calista McQueen to “keep her alive.” The twist in the story is that Calista is a doppelgänger for Marilyn Monroe. Although as an adult Calista has changed her name, she was originally named Norma Jean Baker and looks just like her. She was born 50 years later on the same month and day. Her mother and her mother’s best friend, Grace made sure her life followed a similar path, including stays in orphanages and foster homes. Calista is afraid that with the looming anniversary of Marilyn’s death, her life is also in peril.

Motley characters surround Calista, including her control-freak psychoanalyst, her personal yoga instructor, her ex-husband, her peculiar housekeeper as well as her mother and her “Aunt” Grace.

The elements I liked from the first book are still present. Great characters, a fictional setting that I want to visit and an intriguing plot that kept me guessing until close to the end. The story oozes southern charm and you’ll stay up late reading it.

In addition to these elements, the second book offers us Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn is still hot. The show “Smash” was doing a musical based on her life. The 2011 movie My Week with Marilyn” was nominated for a large number of awards. Now “Lowcountry Bombshell” offers us a mystery revolving around a Marilyn doppelgänger.

Susan Boyer has researched Marilyn. In her blog, she states, “Much has been written about her tragic, untimely death. But her life intrigues me more. From a childhood spent in foster homes, orphanages, and with various relatives and friends, she created herself–an enduring icon. She was the personification of glamour, the woman everyone wanted–or wanted to be.”

The book also touches on obsession. What happens to a child who is brought up to imitate another person’s life? Another topic which I found interesting was how someone who was brought up poor deals with suddenly becoming wealthy.

I strongly recommend this book.

Five stars out of five.

Please let me know about the Mysteries and Authors you enjoy. Like my Facebook Page Hot Mysteries. Post your comments here, or contact me at to receive e-mail updates (spam free) whenever I post a new article!

In accordance with FTC guidelines for reviewers, I would like to clarify that this book was provided to me by the publisher free of charge. I am not compensated by the author or publisher for my review. All they expect is an honest review of the work.

Blogroll: New York Journal of Books review of LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL

Lowcountry Bombshell

by Susan M. Boyer

Reviewed by Mary Marks | Released: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Henery Press (266 pages)

LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL“. . . rich and juicy with plenty of twists and turns.”

Liz Talbot, private investigator, is shocked one morning to find Marilyn Monroe’s doppelganger walk into her office asking for protection. The woman not only looks like Marilyn, her life also has eerie parallels with the life of the dead movie star. And the woman is convinced that someone intends to kill her on the 50th anniversary of Marilyn’s death.

As Liz begins to investigate she learns her wealthy client is not at all like the dumb blond she imitates; she’s a former banker who can quote Nietzsche. But she is also the lonely widow of a carjacking victim who was murdered.

Liz soon learns that her client is surrounded by suspicious characters including a fawning yoga instructor, a truculent housekeeper, a controlling psychiatrist, a crazy mother, manipulating aunt, and a stalking ex-husband. It’s up to Liz to find out who, among this cast of weird characters, stands to gain from her client’s death and inherit her considerable fortune.

Liz has her own complicated personal cast of characters to sort out. First there’s the ghost of her dead childhood friend who is the guardian angel of Stella Maris, the small island where Liz lives. Liz is the only one who can see the ghost, and when she appears it’s usually to give Liz advice.

The second complication is her business partner, Nate. Liz used to be married to Nate’s black sheep brother, but she and Nick managed to stay good friends until they started to have strong feelings for one another. But Nate lives in Greenville and neither he nor Liz wants to move away from their homes.

The third complication is Michael, who, until Nate, was the unrequited love of Liz’s life. Now Michael is free and wants to marry her. He has no intention of uprooting Liz. “You know, this island is your home, Liz. You and me, we share that. This place means something to us. We have roots here. Roots are important.”

What’s a girl to do?

The case grows even more complicated when Liz discovers there’s a connection to an old, unsolved missing person’s case and a gun missing from the police evidence room. How do all these things connect? And how will Liz and Nate escape the very real danger that threatens their own lives?

This fast paced cozy mystery keeps the reader guessing to the end. Susan Boyers’ well researched plot makes the Marilyn Monroe premise quite believable.

Although this book has the strong flavors of a Southern mystery it is by no means provincial. It has a sophistication that belies the setting.

This Agatha Award winning author of the Liz Talbot mysteries has put together a complicated story that’s rich and juicy with plenty of twists and turns. It has lots of peril and romance—something for every cozy mystery fan.


Mary Marks is a writer of cozy mysteries. Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, will be released in January 2014 by Kensington Books.

Release Day! LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL by Susan M. Boyer

IMG_0425To celebrate the release of the newest novel in the Liz Talbot Mystery series, Susan M. Boyer was kind enough to answer a few questions about LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL and her life as a writer. From mango margs to 4pm hotel cookies, Susan dishes on how she balances both the writing and promotional aspects of being a professional author.

Your debut novel LOWCOUNTRY BOIL is an Agatha Award winner, a Macavity nominee, was awarded the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and was a finalist in the 2012 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest. That’s fantastic and many congratulations to you. What are your expectations for its sequel LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL?

I’ve been awed, humbled, and thrilled by the reception Lowcountry Boil has received. Thank you so much for the congratulations! Of course I hope readers connect with Lowcountry Bombshell as well, but honestly, I don’t have expectations. I have hopes.

Working with you here at Henery Press and trying to keep up with your busy schedule is a full time job. You are a one woman dynamo. Just this weekend, you participated in the Experience South Carolina book festival and the AJC Decatur Book Festival. Where do you find the energy?

Oh my stars—thank you! This weekend was so, so fabulous! I’m energized by being around so many readers who love books as I do. I really enjoy getting out and meeting new people. But I do try not to look at my schedule too far in advance so I don’t get overwhelmed. I take it one week at a time.

LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELLIn LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL, Liz Talbot is visited by a Marilyn Monroe look-alike who thinks she is doomed to die in the same way as the real Marilyn. Are you a big Marilyn Monroe fan, or did you have to conduct some serious research to bring your character, Calista, to life?

Both, actually. I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. But over the years so many rumors have floated around about her, her life, and her death. I wanted to get it as close to right as possible, even though I wasn’t writing about Marilyn at all. To make Calista’s story authentic, I read a highly-regarded and thoroughly documented biography of Marilyn by Donald Spoto. I also read The Marilyn Treasures, by Jenna Glatzer. With those books as a frame of reference, I did some Internet research as well.

On your Goodreads author page, you said that you enjoy traveling with your husband because you get some of your best writing done in hotel rooms. Did he get to travel with you to Decatur and Rock Hill this weekend? Those 4pm cookies sound delicious.

Yes—and I’m so happy he did. I could never have pulled off both festivals in one weekend without him. I don’t travel light. I’m not sure how I’m going to function when he goes back to work. Those cookies are delicious—and a great pick-me-up in the afternoon to give your creativity a boost.

And lastly, could you share with us your favorite book and what makes it so special?

I have so many favorites. This is really difficult. One (among many) that comes to mind is Robert B. Parker’s Night Passage. It’s the first in the Jesse Stone series. I’ve always loved a good mystery series, and because this book introduces one of my favorite characters, it’s on my keeper shelf.

Thank you so much Susan for taking the time to chat with us. We are all very excited about today’s LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL release and wish you all the best.

Blogroll: Rantin’ Ravin’ and Reading

My review of LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL by Susan M. Boyer


SusanBoyerSusan M. Boyer’s debut novel, Lowcountry Boil (a Liz Talbot Mystery) is an Agatha Award winner for Best First Novel, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense recipient, and a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist. LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL, the second book in the Liz Talbot series, will be released September 3, 2013. LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD and LOWCOUNTRY BORDELLO will be released in May and October of 2014, respectively.

Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine Review, Spinetingler Magazine, and Relief Journal, among others. She is the recipient of Relief Journal’s editor’s choice award in fiction and has been recognized by the Carrie McCrary Memorial Literary Awards program.

She and her husband live in Greenville, SC. [Read more...]

Get Ready for Two Sizzling New Covers!

Get Ready for Two Sizzling New Covers!
By Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry Boil and Lowcountry Bombshell by Susan M. Boyer

News from the Hen House

Prepare to flap your feathers, fellow chickens! We’ve got a colorful new cover for Susan M. Boyer’s LOWCOUNTRY BOIL that will make your curiosity simmer and bubble! If you’re stranded on a desert island this summer, this is the book you’ll want to have with you. Boyer’s captivating Agatha-winning, Daphne-winning mystery (and 2nd Daphne nominated), is now available with a brand new cover design. You’ll soon be clamoring for more, so look for LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL, her sexy follow-up that turns pages even faster than the first, available September 3, 2013!

Private Investigator Liz Talbot thinks she’s seen another ghost when she meets Calista McQueen. She’s the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe. Born precisely fifty years after the ill-fated star, Calista’s life has eerily mirrored the late starlet’s—and she fears the looming anniversary of Marilyn’s death will also be hers.

Before Liz can open a case file, Calista’s life coach is executed. Suspicious characters swarm around Calista like mosquitoes on a sultry lowcountry evening: her certifiable mother, a fake aunt, her control-freak psychoanalyst, a private yoga instructor, her peculiar housekeeper, and an obsessed ex-husband. Liz digs in to find a motive for murder, but she’s besieged with distractions. Her ex has marriage and babies on his mind. Her too-sexy partner engages in a campaign of repeat seduction. Mamma needs help with Daddy’s devotion to bad habits. And a gang of wild hogs is running loose on Stella Maris. With the heat index approaching triple digits, Liz races to uncover a diabolical murder plot in time to save not only Calista’s life, but also her own.

Visit us at to find out more. And as always, feel free to reach out if you have questions or comments – to the Hen House or Susan.  We’d love to hear from you.


The Hen House Staff
- – -
Henery Press

Blogroll: Susan M. Boyer: Fabulous Weekend at SC Book Festival!

Fabulous Weekend at SC Book Festival!

I’m just back from the annual SC Book Festival. Wow, what a ride!

SC Book Festival Booth

Friday, friend and fellow author, Kim Boykin, and I set up our booth. We couldn’t have asked for a better spot. We were right next to Barnes and Noble, and across from where the book signings were held after panels. Five different Master Classes were on the schedule for Friday, and all of them sounded fantastic, but Kim and I had decorating to do. Friday evening’s opening reception was held at the F. Hollings Special Collections Library at the Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina. Oh my stars! So many of my literary heroes in one room–and a feast, and an open bar. Saturday, May 18, was officially declared Pat Conroy day AND Paula Watkins day. You may have heard of Pat Conroy–he’s published a few books. Paula Watkins is the super hero at the SC Humanities Council who has made SC Book Fest a reality for the past seven years.

Saturday, the exhibit hall opened at 10:00 am. I was bowled over when Barnes and Noble sold out of Lowcountry Boil shortly after noon–only a little over two hours into the festival. Fortunately, another super hero, Jill Hendrix, owner of Greenville’s wonderful independent bookstore, Fiction Addiction, had ordered stock for our exhibit booth. My first panel, Women of Mystery, was at 3:20. Other authors on the panel were C. Hope Clark, Sue Duffy, and Sasscer Hill. We had so much fun, and such a great turnout! And what a wonderful surprise on Sunday morning when a friend told me we had made the front page of the State newspaper Metro section! [Read more...]

Henery Press Loves Malice!!

The Hen House is chirping with excitement over our fun weekend at Malice Domestic. We met readers, fans, colleagues, and lots and lots of favorite authors. And oh, yeah, our very own Susan M. Boyer won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel!! Chicken kisses to Susan and her fantastic LOWCOUNTRY BOIL!!  So deserved and we are so proud of you!!

For more Malice scoop, peek at the pictures posted on our Facebook page. And you might want to read through these great blogs for more details and even more cute pics.

My First Malice, by LynDee Walker

Malice Domestic 2013! by Diane Vallere

Malice Domestic 25: Interview of a Lifetime, Friends Winning Agatha Awards, and More Fun! by Gigi Pandian

Marvelous Malice, by Catriona McPherson

“Oh Kaye!” Goes to Malice, by Kaye Barley

Our feathers will stay happily ruffled for a very long time. Mystery, mayhem, and Malice is soooo enjoyable! See you next year, little chickens…

Malice Domestic 2013 – And the winner is…

And the winner of the 2013 Malice Domestic “Best First Novel” goes to Susan M. Boyer for LOWCOUNTRY BOIL

A BIG HEN HOUSE CONGRATULATIONS to Susan M. Boyer on writing such a great book!!  Your win was well deserved.


Susan kissing the teapot after winning the Agatha Award for Best First Novel




















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