It is my pleasure to share a guest post from author Neil Plakcy...
NP: I have loved mysteries since I began reading them as a teenager, and I think that while many readers feel that the unraveling of the puzzle is the greatest pleasure, for me the biggest attraction is the chance to understand other people. What pushes someone to commit a crime? Why does the detective pursue justice, often at great cost to him or herself? That kind of insight is key to our knowledge of ourselves as human beings, and crime fiction provides the vehicle for that discovery.
The most difficult obstacle I’ve faced in my writing career has been my desire to reach out to readers that the big New York publishers ignored. When I wrote the first of my golden retriever mysteries, I created a character that I believed in – a good man recovering from the effects of a single bad decision. I wanted to show how adopting a dog, and the unconditional love that golden retriever provided, could help him learn to live, and love, again. The vehicle for that discovery was a cozy, or traditional, mystery, in which he and the dog teamed up to investigate the murder of the dog’s previous owner.
However, my agent at the time told me that publishers were only interested in cozy mysteries with female protagonists, because the bulk of cozy readers were female. He suggested that I either replace my hero with a heroine, or make my straight hero gay—to reach the niche of gay mysteries, where I’d already established myself.
The more I investigated, the more I discovered my agent was right. The leading publisher of cozy mysteries, for example, had at the time thirty-four series—all but two with female protagonists. And the other two were male-female duos.
Amazon helped me overcome that hurdle. I was lucky enough to get in on the first wave of the e-book revolution, when lots of avid readers had Kindles and other devices, and there weren’t enough books available. I knew there was a market of readers who loved both dogs and mysteries, and didn’t care if the protagonist was male or female. I was lucky enough to reach those readers through Amazon.
I am a college teacher by profession, so mentoring others comes easily to me. I teach college creative writing classes and lecture at writer’s conferences about craft. I also teach continuing education programs and talk with library groups about the business of publishing – since I have both an MBA and an MFA, the intersection of creativity and economic reality is one that fascinates me.
Without a doubt, the love of my dogs has been the single thing that has enriched my writing the most. I had a poodle as a kid, and as an adult I longed to have a dog again. When I met my partner, he had two dogs—a Yorkie and a Collie—and in falling in love with him, I joined his pack, loving the dogs as well. Soon after we moved in together, the Collie passed away, and we replaced him with a golden retriever. From the start, the Yorkie made it clear that my partner was HIS daddy, leaving the golden to me. Because my partner was working an evening shift, I did all the dog walking and training, and Sam and I bonded. After a couple of years I realized that I had to write a book about my experience with him, based on the close observation I’d developed. Sam passed on five years ago, to be replaced by Brody, and then Griffin joined our pack. The long walks we share, the ball play and rope tugging, all feature in my golden retriever mysteries. And even though my real dogs may not take to cats too well, my fictional golden, Rochester, likes them enough to follow one into an unoccupied house—leading to my story, “Riding the Tiger,” in Happy Homicides 5: The Purr-fect Crime.
Neil Plakcy, www.goldenretrievermysteries.com
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 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 BOOK IS ON SALE FOR $0.99 DURING THE TOUR
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 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
To read a free sample, get your copy of Happy Homicides 2: Crimes of the Heart here: http://bit.ly/2HHCrime
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.
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