Cozy Mystery Publishing, IWSG, Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries, Romantic Comedy, Smitten with Travel, Writing

BookBub Featured Deals, Writing Update & Camping in the Desert | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book / throws you out of the story / frustrates you most about other people’s books?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. Instead of answering the question, I’m chatting about the terror that overcomes you when you pay for a BookBub Featured Deal, giving a writing update, and sharing the best part about camping in the desert.

Scoring a BookBub Featured Deal – Eek!

Last month, kind of on a lark, I applied for a BookBub Featured Deal for Murder at the Marina, the first book in my Mollie McGhie cozy mystery series.

While I had been accepted for an international BookBub Featured Deal last year, I knew that getting a US one was competitive. People get turned down all the time. That’s what I was expecting – a big fat “NO!” Instead, I got a “Congratulations. You’re booked for mid-January. Now, give us lots of money.”

{By the way, if you’re not familiar with BookBub it helps folks discover new things to read through daily emails which feature free and discounted books. Authors pay to have their book included as a Featured Deal. And it’s not cheap.}

The thing about being an author, like with any other business, is that you have to invest money to make money. Things like editors, cover artists, website hosting, promotions, advertising etc. add up. And you don’t often see a return on your investment for a while. Sometimes, a long while.

So when I opened up the BookBub invoice to pay for it, my stomach churned. This is a lot of money with no guarantee that you’ll earn it back, the scaredy-cat part of my brain said. The more gung-ho part of my brain said, “Go for it. Chances are good you’ll make it back and then some!”

I went for it. The invoice was paid. My BookBub Featured Deal is booked. My fingers are crossed.

Writing Update

When I haven’t been hyperventilating about shelling out money to Bookbub, I’ve been hard at work launching the second book in my romantic comedy series. Smitten with Croissants came out at the end of December and I couldn’t be more excited about the reviews that have come in so far. Sure, you try to tell yourself that it doesn’t matter what people think about your books and that there will always be people who don’t like your writing, but until you get a few positive reviews under your belt, the worries and insecurities bubble away at the back of your mind. So, many, many thanks to those folks who have left reviews! They’ve left a huge smile on my face.

By the way, if you enjoy sweet romantic comedies and you’re interested in becoming part of my review team, drop me an email at ellenjacobsonauthor@gmail.com.

Camping in the Desert

My hubby and I are currently camping in the desert with two other couples who also former sailors and now live full-time in their rigs. We’ve all formed a little, nomadic COVID bubble and had a lot of fun celebrating the holidays together. And, you know what one of the best parts of it all is? The fact that one of the people we’re camping with is none other than fellow IWSG member and author of the fabulous memoir PlungeLiesbet Collaert of Roaming About! It’s been wonderful to have someone with whom I can talk about writing-related stuff in person. And it doesn’t hurt that she and her husband make the best-tasting margaritas I’ve ever had either. LOL!

Do you subscribe to newsletters like Bookbub? Read any books lately? Have you ever been camping in the desert?

IWSG, Writing

How Many Croissants Can You Realistically Eat? Plus Plunge by Liesbet Collaert | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. Instead of answering the question, I’m chatting briefly about autobiographical moments in my fiction, as well as featuring the fascinating travel memoir, Plunge, by Liesbet Collaert.

I could never write an autobiography or memoir for one simple reason – I have the worst memory.

“Why don’t you keep a journal?” I hear some of you saying.

Well, in addition to having the worst memory, I also have pretty bad handwriting. Even if I wrote stuff down, I wouldn’t be able to read it.

“Um, you know you can keep a journal online, don’t you? You don’t have to write it out by hand.”

Yeah, but where’s the fun in that? Journals are supposed to be full of stickers, washi tape, and written in gorgeous script. At least, that’s how I picture them in my head.

In all honesty, I do keep a log book for our camping adventures, but the contents aren’t all that interesting. Nothing that would make for a riveting memoir. My imagination is a zillion times more interesting than my real life.

But, having said that, I do draw on my real life in my fiction. There are some autobiographical elements interspersed in my books. Take Mollie McGhie – my main character in my cozy mystery series. She’s a reluctant sailor. I was a reluctant sailor. She eats a lot of chocolate. I eat a lot of chocolate. She finds dead bodies and solves murder mysteries . . . and that’s where the similarities end.

Currently, I’m finishing up my latest rom-com, Smitten with Croissants. Spoiler alert: the main character, Mia, eats a lot of croissants. But perhaps you already figured that out from the title?

I have also eaten a lot of croissants in my time. In writing the croissant scenes, I drew on my own experiences eating those delicious, flaky pastries in France. Cafe au lait and a croissant, what could be better?

I also drew on my own experiences eating way too many chocolate croissants when I lived in New Zealand. There was this fabulous bakery in Auckland where you could buy pastries to take home and bake in your oven. For some reason, they sold them in packs of six which is just asking for trouble. Of course, I couldn’t stop eating after one, or two, or even three. I mean, come on, those things are to die for when they’re freshly baked and oozing chocolate.

Needless to say, I got a tummy ache. Totally worth it though.

Naturally, I decided that Mia should eat too many croissants and feel a tad bit worse for wear. Autobiography in fiction! It’s about as close to a memoir as I’m ever going to get.

As a fiction writer, I’m in awe of people who write memoirs and share their lives (warts and all) with us, like Liesbet Collaert. It’s a fabulous book – have a look below to get the scoop.

Like all memoir writers, Liesbet Collaert doesn’t shirk from telling the truth about her life. Because that’s what memoir is – the truth about one’s life told in nonfiction narrative writing. But, let’s be honest, not all personal memories are that fascinating. Day-to-day life can be quite dull and ordinary.

Not so the case with Liesbet Collaert. This is a woman actively in search of a life less ordinary and, boy oh boy, has she ever found one! In Plunge, she shares a riveting tale of her life as a nomad, exploring the world from a sailboat and embracing the highs and lows of life at sea. I think this memoir will appeal to all sorts of readers, not just sailors, because, ultimately, it’s a story about the choices one woman makes in search of love, fulfillment, and happiness – choices many of us can relate to.

{You can read my review of Plunge on Goodreads.}

About Plunge

Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.

Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.

Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.

Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?

Grab your copy of this fascinating memoir on Amazon. Available in ebook and paperback.

About Liesbet Collaert

Liesbet Collaert is a bilingual freelance writer, translator, editor, and photographer from Belgium who has been writing and traveling her entire life. Her work is published internationally in anthologies and magazines, including Cruising World, Blue Water Sailing, Ocean Navigator, Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, Islands, Yachting World, Sailing Today, All At Sea, Caribbean Compass, and Zeilen. She also created walking tours for Marigot and Philipsburg in St. Martin.

The author has been interviewed about her alternative lifestyle by Multihull Sailor, Modern Day Nomads, Ocean Navigator, The Wayward Home, The Professional Hobo, and Grey Globetrotters among others. She contributed to extensive cruising surveys for All At Sea and Caribbean Compass and became an assistant-editor for Caribbean Compass in January 2019.

Liesbet loves animals, nature, and the promise of adventure. A nomad since 2003, she calls herself a world citizen and currently lives “on the road” in North America with her husband and rescue dog. Find her stories and photos at It’s Irie and Roaming About. Plunge is her first book.

Connect with Liesbet on Facebook (Author Page) | Facebook (Roaming About Page) | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon

Do you like to read and/or write memoir? If so, what do you enjoy about it? If you’re a fiction writer, have you ever shared autobiographical details about yourself in your work?

cozy mystery, Crazy Cat Lady, IWSG, Writerly Nonsense

Writing Books that Make Me Giggle | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Connor said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. You can see how I answered this question below.

So why do I write humorous cozy mysteries (and now rom-coms)? Cause I have all these silly ideas in my head that make me giggle. And if I don’t get them down on paper, I worry that my head might explode. Which would be gross. But an interesting way to die . . . an exploding head caused by an overabundance of silly ideas.

Hmm. Better jot that idea down in one of my notebooks.

Can you tell I write murder mysteries? I’m always looking for new and novel ways to kill people. I’ll have to figure out a way to work this whole exploding head thing into my next book.

One of the tricky things about trying to write funny books is that we don’t all have the same sense of humor. When you write a book and put it out there in the world {which is incredibly scary, by the way}, it’s also a chance to find like-minded people. Folks who get tickled by the same things you do. Like-minded goofballs. When they send you emails, leave blog comments, or message you on Facebook to tell you that your book made them laugh, it’s almost better than chocolate.

Almost, people, almost. We all know there’s nothing better than chocolate. Except kittens. I think we can all agree on that.

Anyway, that’s why I write. Why do you write and / or read?

Uncategorized

Life on the Road, Writing Update & IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

What do you think of the term “working writer”? What do you think that is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer, an aspiring one or a hobbyist? If the latter two, what does that look like?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. I opted out of answering the question, instead sharing an update about what life has been like on the road for us lately.

THIS IS WHERE PRETTY PICTURES OF OUR CAMPING ADVENTURES WOULD BE, BUT THE INTERNET CONNECTION SUCKS RIGHT NOW. LOL!

Life on the road in our teeny-tiny camper is amazing, but it does have two major drawbacks – we don’t always have great internet connectivity and charging our computers and devices can be a challenge. This has a huge impact on me as a writer (hard to work on a book when your computer battery is dead) and staying connected to the writing world (when you have limited internet and charged devices, you have to prioritize what you do at online).

Did you notice that I missed last month’s IWSG post and that I’ve been terrible at visiting other people’s blogs? The whole internet / electric thing is part of the reason why. The other reason is, well . . . life. Life has a way of getting in the way sometimes.

So, what has been happening lately on the road, you might be wondering? Well, in September, we spent a good chunk of time in North Dakota – first visiting with my hubby’s family (so much good food!), then at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (the Badlands are so stunning!).

After that it was a mad dash through South Dakota before spending some time in Nebraska at a wonderful city campground with electric hookups (ooh . . . electricity!) and good internet (yay for internet!) and a wildlife area (no electric or internet . . . boo). We stopped at Agate Fossil Bed National Monument on the way out of Nebraska, then had another mad dash, this time through Kansas and into Colorado.

In terms of writing over the past month, I’ve been plodding away on the second book in my rom-com series. I’m making some progress on it, but I’d really like to pick up the pace on this one and get it done by the end of the year. Life lately is way too serious. It’d be nice to close out the year with a light-hearted rom-com, don’t you think?

Anyhoo, that’s the latest update – nothing too exciting, nothing too productive, but that’s the way it goes sometimes, right?

What did you get up to last month? If you’re a writer, what have you been working on? And what kind of writer are you – a “working writer” or a hobbyist?

IWSG, Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries, Writing

Life Lately on the Road & Writing Update | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn’t planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. I opted out of answering the question, instead sharing an update about what life has been like on the road for us lately.

Photo Credit: Duwan Dunn @ Make Like an Ape Man

Check out the picture above. That’s our teeny-tiny camper surrounded by bison. Crazy, huh? The friends we had been traveling with took it as we were driving through Yellowstone National Park. It perfectly sums up what life has been like lately on the road during the past month – travel, adventure, and lots of fun!

I was trying to remember what we got up to during July but it’s all a bit of a blur. We used to be really good about keeping a log previously on our sailboats and now in our camper, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. We really should get that log going again because the older I get, the more help I need in remembering stuff!

I’ve now had a second cup of coffee. It’s amazing how caffeine helps jog the memory. Okay, so here’s where we’ve been and what we got up to in July:

We spent the first part of the month in Bismarck, North Dakota spending time with my hubby’s family. I spent a good chunk of that time on the couch working on Shooting by the Sea – the fifth book in my Mollie McGhie cozy mystery series. I also worked on release stuff for a multi-author cozy mystery anthology that my short story, Buried by the Beach is part of. And I read some books about Scandinavian-Americans as inspiration for the new cozy mystery series I’m planning which will be set in North Dakota.

It was such a relaxing spot to work. The fact that we had ice cream for dessert every night didn’t hurt either! We don’t have a freezer in our camper so I relished every bowl of salted caramel craze I could get my hands on.

Then we headed to a wonderful campground in Elgin, North Dakota for a few days so that I could finish Shooting by the Sea. There are two things I love about this particular campground – the views of the lake and the electricity. Yes, you heard that right – electricity! We often camp in places without it and have to run the generator when we want to charge things. To be able to have my computer constantly charged, not to mention being able to run the air conditioner, was heavenly.

After sending Shooting by the Sea to the editor it was time to go meet up with our friends from Make Like an Ape Man. They’re former boaters like us and now live full-time in their van. After a night in Buffalo, South Dakota, we hooked up with them in Montana, spent a night at Red Shale (a wonderful free National Forest campground), spent the next night at the Ten Sleep Brewery (you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving when your camper is a few feet away in the parking lot), then headed to Castle Gardens (a free Bureau of Land Management campground) for a night.

While at Castle Gardens, I got back the edits from my editor. Internet was patchy there so I had to download the manuscript by perching my computer on the hood of our vehicle and holding my phone in my hand. Such is the life of a writer on the road.

I finished that first round of edits, sent it back to the editor and then it was off to Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming for three days. Have you been there? If not, you should go. Absolutely gorgeous! I could have stayed there longer, but we had reservations at one of the campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park so off we went.

To be honest, I wondered if Yellowstone would live up to its reputation. Everyone talks about how amazing it is. Guess what? Turns out it is. In fact, it was so amazing that my hubby and I spent two weeks there. But all good thing must come to an end so that new good things can happen. And that new good thing is going to be Glacier National Park in Montana. We’re making our way up there today and tomorrow, so I may be offline for a while. But I will try to respond to comments and visit blogs when I can. I know, I know . . . I’m still behind from last month. {Sigh}

Anyway before I go, I wanted to thank everyone who offered to read and review ARCs (advance reader copies) of the cozy mystery anthology, Mystery Follows Her, and my latest Mollie McGhie book, Shooting by the Sea. It really means a lot to me and it helps immensely with the launches and attracting new readers!

By the way, if you’re interested in either of these books, Mystery Follows Her is promotionally priced at only 99c/99p right now. You can grab a copy at your favorite retailer HERE. Anthologies are a great way to try out new authors. Shooting by the Sea will be released on Friday, August 7th. You can pre-order a copy at your favorite retailer HERE.

What did you get up to in July? Did you read any good books? Get any writing done? Any fun adventures?

IWSG, Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries, USA, Writing

Writing Update & Travels in Our Teeny-Tiny Camper | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. I opted out of answering the question, instead sharing a quick writing update. Check it out below.

This is going to be a short post as things are a bit frantic in my world. We hit the road in our teeny-tiny camper in the middle of May. Since then we’ve traveled from Florida up to North Dakota, spending time in Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota along the way.

It’s been really hard to concentrate on writing and blogging while traveling, camping, and enjoying the great outdoors, but I’ve been trying my best. It was the same thing when we were traveling on our sailboat – the nomadic life can be a challenge when it comes to focusing on creative projects.

Despite the travel, I have been working on two projects. The first is a Mollie McGhie short story – Buried by the Beach – which will be published in the Mystery Follows Her cozy mystery multi-author anthology coming out on July 23rd. Many, many thanks to all of you who offered to read and review an ARC copy!

The other project is book #5 in my Mollie McGhie cozy mystery series – Shooting by the Sea – due out in August. I’m in the process of finishing it up right now before getting it to my editor. Deadlines are looming and the pressure is on, but I’m having a blast with this story.

I’m looking forward to catching my breath next month once Shooting by the Sea is wrapped up, then I’ll be diving into the next book in my Smitten with Travel rom-com series.

FYI – I may be a bit slower visiting blogs and returning comments, but hopefully things will get back to “normal” and I’ll have a bit more time and headspace next month.

In the meantime, a couple of pictures from our adventures in South Dakota – a bison in Custer State Park and our teeny-tiny camper (“Scamper”) in the Black Hills National Forest.

IWSG, Romantic Comedy, Smitten with Travel, Writing

Writing in Present Tense, ARC Reader Request & An Adorable Cat | IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It’s a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there’s an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they’re struggling with what to say.

This month’s question is:

Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the zone? Care to share?

Check out how people have answered this month’s question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list HERE. I opted out of answering the question, instead sharing some of my insecurities about writing in present tense. Check it out below.

Which of these sentences do you prefer:

1 – I write in present tense, then worry that readers will hate it.

2 – I wrote in present tense, then worried that readers would hate it.

If you had asked me this in the not so distant past, I would have said without any hesitation that Option #2 was way better. Like many other people of a certain age, I grew up reading novels written in the past tense. That was just how it was done. I had no idea there was any other kind of book.

Then came The Hunger Games. Loved the story, but I found the use of present tense a bit jarring. I read a bunch of other YA books for a while and made my peace with present tense. I didn’t love it, but it was starting to grow on me.

As of late, I’ve been obsessed with reading romantic comedies / chick lit. And guess what? A bunch of them are written in present tense. And guess what else? I love it!

I know some of you are shaking your heads. Why, Ellen, why? Why have you gone to the dark side?

Well, here are a couple of the things I like about it:

1 – Everything feels way more intense.

And when you reading romance, that’s an awesome thing. Especially when the main character is kissing a really cute guy.

2 – It kind of feels like a movie.

You’re smack-dab in the middle of the action. It’s all happening right now. You’re experiencing things right along with the main character, like those kissing scenes.

So when I decided to try my own hand at writing a romantic comedy, guess what I did? Yep, that’s right, I decided to write it in present tense.

This may turn out to be a huge mistake.

Readers may hate it.

This may be an experiment gone bad.

Or it could be amazing.

Time will tell.

Wanna try out a present tense romantic comedy? I’m looking for ARC readers.

If present tense doesn’t scare you off and you’d like to read and review an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Smitten with Ravioli, let me know if the comments. Be sure to leave your email address.

I don’t have a firm publication date yet, but it will be out sometime toward the end of May. In terms of heat level, it’s on the clean & wholesome side of the scale. There’s kissing, but no sex scenes.

You can check out the blurb HERE.

Raise your hand if you like adorable cats!

This is Garfieldia, one of the cats that lives at the marina where we’re currently hanging out at in our teeny-tiny camper. She’s such a sweet cat – super affectionate and cuddly.

So what about you – any writing rituals you want to share? Do you like present tense? Interested in an ARC of Smitten with Ravioli?

Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview | Ava Mallory

Hello everyone! I’m excited to have an interview with Ava Mallory for you today. Ava is the author of a number of series including the Mercy Mares cozy mysteries, the Missy Rae paranormal cozy mysteries, and the Beatrice Montoya mysteries. In addition, she does a lot to support the cozy mystery author and reader communities through organizing cross-author promos and running author and reader Facebook groups.

So sit back, grab a beverage and a delicious snack and fine out what Ava has to say about writing, cookies, and penguins.

Interview with Ava Mallory

1 – What inspired you to write your books?

I wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. I wrote and told stories all the time. I still do. I didn’t get the courage to publish until my life fell apart in 2014. I found myself alone with 4 kids, after years of following my then-husband around the globe for his career and family, and decided I was done with ignoring my dreams, so I polished one of the dozens of handwritten manuscripts I’d written over the years and hit publish a short time later. 

2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?

My childhood home was a mecca for all things mystery. My mother bought every mystery she could find. I grew up on a diet of Georgette Heyer and Agatha Christie. It was inevitable I’d one day write cozies. I love the settings and the quirky characters. Cozies feel like home.

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

Yes! I must be alone. Totally, completely, utterly alone. Silence! I can only write (well) in my home office and only after I meditate to quiet the extra noise in my head. Early morning and late night writing sessions are king for me. In other words, little chance of the children needing something during those hours.

4 – What’s more important – character or plot?

I love the characters. Of course the plot must be great, but I fall in love with characters and want to see them grow.

5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?

I love writing. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do sometimes, but I’m addicted.
Marketing is my Achilles heal. I’m a horrible marketer.

6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”

Chocolate chip cookies! Is there any other kind? 🙂

7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?

My gut reaction would be to blame my mother. I should explain. My mother always threatens to put a curse on me (and my siblings and everyone she meets). She’s not a witch. She doesn’t practice witchcraft. She thinks it’s funny.

I imagine he’d come with a message from my mother. If I had to put money on it, I’d say she would send him to tell me I’m doing something wrong.

8 – What else would you like us to know about you? 

I am a multi-genre, multi-pen name author who really isn’t online all the time. It only looks that way, I swear. 

Ava Mallory’s Books

Grab Mercy & Mayhemthe first book in the Mercy Mares cozy mystery seriesfor FREE! Click HERE to download your copy.

Thrush to Judgement, the latest Mercy Mares release is now available HERE.

About Ava Mallory

AVA MALLORY has been a grade schoolteacher, a psychiatric technician, a dementia unit nurse manager, and a hospice nurse. She has embarrassed herself in front of handsome celebrities, won vocal contests much to the chagrin of her children, survived a major earthquake, and nearly drowned when she mistakenly thought a YMCA lifeguard asked her to dive into the deep end on her first day of swim lessons. She and her eternally annoyed children share their home with a massive collection of books and a never-ending supply of new book ideas.

If you’d like to sign up for Ava’s email newsletter and be the first to learn about new releases, sales, exclusive newsletter reads, and other fun things, copy and paste this link into your browser and sign up here: http://eepurl.com/cLOoK9

Connect with Ava on Facebook, Amazon, and her Website.

Editor’s Note: Thanks so much for the interview, Ava! You’ve definitely made the right cookie selection. 🙂 I hadn’t heard of Georgette Heyer before – definitely going to check out her books.

Author Interview, Cozy Mystery Author Interview

Cozy Mystery Author Interview | J.L. Collins

It’s time for another fun cozy mystery author interview. I’m featuring J.L. Collins today. She’s the author of several series including the Witch Hazel Lane Mysteries, the Spell Maven Mysteries, and the Ice Witch Mysteries. Right now, you can grab the first books in several of her series for only 99c so be sure to check out Grits in the Graveyard, A Cold Case in Spell, and Spell Maven from Spell Haven.

I loved her answers to my questions, especially the part about saving cookies from Cookie Monster’s delicious destruction! Grab a beverage, a snack (maybe some cookies that Cookie Monster didn’t eat), and have read below to find out what J.L. has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

Interview with J.L. Collins

1 – What inspired you to write your books?

A love for murder at the tender age of nine. Actually, that’s not exactly far off—I’ve loved mysteries my whole life. I was and still am a very curious person so when someone gives me something to solve, I’m in heaven!

Writing a book can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility, but I’ve only ever known passion for it. There are, at any given time, ten or so plots spinning around my brain. Any time I go anywhere, see something new, hear about something funny, all of it gets categorized into ‘I’ve gotta write about this’ boxes. So I guess the short answer is everything!

2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?

They’re so much fun. It’s a delicate line to balance lightheartedness and murder, but when you see it being pulled off it can put a smile on your face even in the midst of the worst day.

3 – Do you have any writing rituals?

I wouldn’t say I have rituals per se, more like weird tics.

I always have my headphones on listening to some kind of music and when the music hits the scene just right, I’m bobbing my head like a pigeon. No, seriously! My kids and husband have called me out on it several times. There’s video evidence that won’t see the light of day.

I also get cold hands pretty quickly while typing, so when I’m really on a roll with the words I always rub my hands together really fast like I’m standing in front of a bonfire. Why? I have no idea but it’s a surefire sign that you should approach me cautiously.

4 – What’s more important – character or plot?

Ooh, that’s a good question! I’m personally a sucker for characters. My books are all character-driven because that’s what I like to read. To me, plot-driven books are great but they can feel distant, if that makes sense? And I like to be pulled into a book via a character right away. The classics are an exclusion, but newer works? I’m all about characters.

5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?

Best… I love working for myself doing the thing I always told myself I would do one day. In the middle of this business it can feel like you’re treading water sometimes, throwing books that you love out into the void, but I can still say it’s my job. How many people can say they’re living their dream job?

Least… The mechanics and back-end stuff. It’s so boring I won’t even go into detail but I know fellow authors are nodding their heads, mumbling to themselves.

6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”

Favorite cookie? Can’t I pick more than one?

All right fine, you drive a hard bargain. If I was in a room with Cookie Monster and I could only save one type of cookie from his delicious destruction, I would pick the chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips. Chocolate & PB are the yin and yang flavors in the world and I would be doing everyone a disservice by allowing their demise.

7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?

First, I would spray him down with Lysol and request him to stand at least the standard six feet away. There would be scouring involved most likely. Then I would remind him that the show doesn’t start until nine pm, but since he’s already here, I’ll save him a seat down in front. The curtains open, the spotlight goes on, and the piano man is playing a sad tune. Pierre the penguin downing his second bottle of tequila already, stumbles to centerstage and starts woefully singing along in French. Yes, French. What, French penguins can’t wear sombreros?

What happens next is a mystery. See? Characters > Plot.

8 – What else would you like us to know about you?

My books are cozy but they’re more than ‘just cozies.’ There’s a mystery in every book, but an engaging plot that carries out through each series, too.

The first books in my last three series are all only 99c—perfect for a fun read. And I have a new series coming in May, all about a woman getting trapped in a town hidden in a cursed eternal winter. There’s a talking owl, need I say more?

I also have a newsletter where I routinely show off sneak peeks, deleted scenes, and hold a monthly giveaway. Last month my giveaway winner got their prize and also got to pick which non-profit I sent an additional amount to, to help fight the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Your readers should check it out! ❤

About J.L. Collins

J. L. (Jerri) lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, with her family and feisty canine. She loves delicious southern food, dogs, Carolina sunrises on the beach, shopping on King Street, and curling up with about twenty different books on the weekends. When she gets the rare chance, she also likes to go exploring and learning more about Charleston’s rich history!

Connect with J.L. on her Amazon author page and sign up for her newsletter.

Editor’s Note: Thanks so much for the interview, J.L.! You cracked me up with your comment about having the penguin observe social distancing. 🙂

Author Interview, Reading

Murder, Just Because by Yolanda Renee: An Author Interview Plus a Giveaway!

It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Yolanda Renee’s MURDER, JUST BECAUSE Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today.

The author is offering an awesome tour-wide international giveaway including a $25 Amazon Gift Card! More information on the giveaway is listed below.

Interview with Yolanda Renee

1 – What was your hardest scene to write?

Every scene where Stowy Jenkins is at his worst. It took me forever to do more than tell in as few words as possible what he was up to. It will be a long while before I write such an antagonist again.

2 – What makes you run screaming?

It used to be spiders, but now I just squish them. Snakes, especially when they crawl out from under the chair you’re sitting on. Which happened and yes, I did run screaming! Which I continued to do until the beast was gone! I did not sit on the porch or in that chair for a very, very long time!

Now it’s viruses–such as COVID-19. Except there’s nowhere to run. That’s the scariest of all.

3 – You’re about to be dropped in a remote spot for a three-week survival test. Where would you go? What three tools would you take?

The Brooks Range of Alaska, a high-mountain cabin next to a creek with grayling. Camping gear and my laptop so I can keep writing.

4 – If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

Paris, of course. It’s always been my dream location, but a year may not be long enough. 😊

5 – If you could tell your younger-writing self anything, what would it be?

Never, ever leave Alaska. What you search for is there. All my books have been set in Alaska and while I live on a beautiful beach, I would trade all that to live in Alaska.

About Murder, Just Because

MURDER, JUST BECAUSE
by Yolanda Renée

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Yolanda Renee
Series: Detective Quaid Mysteries
Paperback: 291 pages
Print & eBooks
ISBN-10: 0985820632
ISBN-13: 978-0985820633
Contains explicit sex & graphic violence

“While this book does contain explicit sexual language and graphic violence, it could easily be taken from the daily headlines. The content is plausible and realistic as we look at the world around us. The events in the book are not overly done but give a pragmatic look at the terrifying actions killers can and sometimes do take.”

It was a matter of beginner’s luck, but rookie detective Steven Quaid’s career and reputation as an elite investigator skyrocketed when he captured one of the most sadistic serial killers in Alaskan history: Stowy Jenkins, AKA the Snowman. But that was ten years ago.

And now…Jenkins is back. Escaped from prison and on the move, his bloodlust is stronger than ever, and his methods of torture are even more horrifying than before. As his bloody rampage continues and the number of mutilated bodies mounts, terrified Alaskans increasingly doubt Quaid’s ability to catch the killer again. The detective’s reputation is on the line, and he’s going to need a lot more than luck, because this time, Jenkins is driven by more than the thrill of a random kill.

This time, it’s more personal. He’s out for revenge…and his ultimate target is Quaid. In a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, Jenkins starts picking off the people in Quaid’s life…slowly, gradually tightening his circle of corpses and drawing ever closer to the most important person in Quaid’s life…his wife. Can Quaid do the impossible again? Can he outmaneuver the killer, or has the detective’s luck finally run out?

About Yolanda Renee

For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her in her own words.

At one time Alaska called to me, and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I’ve traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influences my writing.

Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two handsome sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!

For more on Yolanda and her writing, you can connect with her here:

Blog    *     Facebook     *     Twitter     *     Pinterest     *     Email

Giveaway Details

This tour-wide giveaway is for a complete set of the Detective Quaid Mystery series books for one winner, paperback copies of MURDER, JUST BECAUSE for five winners, and a Kindle copy of MURDER, JUST BECAUSE for 10 winners. There’s also a $25 Amazon Gift Card up for grabs!

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Yolanda on her week-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out. Do you enjoy watching a character grow from one story to the next?

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