Saturday, November 28, 2015

I Love a Mystery


I grew up surrounded by the golden age of mystery books. My mother was a voracious reader and mysteries were her favourite. As soon as I started reading Agatha Christie, I passed my small Nancy Drew collection on to my younger sister and never looked back. (My sister ended up with as complete a collection as a person could have without buying every title reissued.) 

Back before video rentals (let alone DVDs and Netflicks) we would watch Saturday Night At the Movies whenever there was a mystery night. We watched Dame Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple, Sir Alec Guinness as Father Brown, and the two editions of The 39 Steps. (My mother preferred Robert Donat, but I had a thing for for Roger Moore ever since seeing him in Reach for the Skies.)

The first series I discovered on my own, without help from my mother or a librarian, was the Peter Shandy books by Charlotte MacLeod. I was especially excited to discover Macleod's books because, although a US citizen, she was born in Canada. As Charlotte MacLeod, she wrote two series, one set at an agricultural college (Peter Shandy) and the other on Beacon Hill in Boston. Writing under the name Alissa Craig she had two other series set in Canada.

Her books are described exactly how I'd like mine to be described:
"All feature a humorous and literate-yet-light style, likable protagonists, and eccentric casts of secondary characters." 
Wikipedia
 My secondary characters are not quite as eccentric as MacLeod's. They are more in line with the supporting characters of Castle or Bones, but maybe I just don't see them as eccentric because I know them so well.

 My detectives are not as annoying (to the suspects) as Columbo either, but like Columbo, they are happy to let their adversary underestimate them.

I loved Columbo when I was growing up. He was my favourite TV detective. I also enjoyed the much disparaged Mrs. Columbo. Kate Mulgrew was definitely too young for the role, but otherwise I thought the show had merit. I could identify with her method of detection. She reminded me of another amateur sleuth I enjoyed: Kate Jackson in The Scarecrow and Mrs. King.

Going down memory lane like this, I realize that I owe my writing style and tone to more sources than I imagined. Every thing I've ever read, listened to or watched, since I was about eleven, has acted as a base on which my books have been written. Even the stories I didn't like have had an influence.

Along with the other classic mystery adaptations, I watched my share of Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone and others. I hated the way Holmes treated Watson, like he was an idiot. That Holmes treated everyone else that way was bad enough, but Watson was his friend. And as for the way he treated Inspector Lestrad... it's a wonder Holmes didn't find himself slapped in jail, every other case, for obstructing justice.

The original idea behind Carmedy and Garrett Investigations was that the police might hire consulting detectives on a basis of mutual respect. There would be no blundering police and no sidekick assistants. Understand, I started Deadly Legacy before Sherlock or Elementary or even the first Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downie Jr and Jude Law. The movie trailer with Watson punching Holmes had me punching the air shouting "YES!"

I still love a mystery. And I love taking a slightly skewed look at them too.

A Bodyguard to Remember is on sale for 99 cents until December 2 via Lachesis Publishing.

Deadly Season is only $2.99 - everywhere

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Strong Women

"So, why do you write these strong female characters? Because you’re still asking me that question."

Joss Whedon [Equality Now speech, May 15, 2006]
 

Nobody is asking me, but I am unapologetically writing about strong women characters and I'm not about to stop. They aren't perfect. They aren't superheroes. But they are strong. Why? Because I don't want to write about weak women. They don't interest me. Besides, there are so many real strong women to act as my characters' role models. 
  
"You know, there's nothing damnable about being a strong woman. The world needs strong women. There are a lot of strong women you do not see who are guiding, helping, mothering strong men. They want to remain unseen. It's kind of nice to be able to play a strong woman who is seen."
Ginger Rogers

"I grew up in a time when women didn't really do comedy. You had to be homely, overweight, an old maid, all that. You had to play a stereotype, because very attractive women were not supposed to be funny - because it's powerful; it's a threat."
Lily Tomlin



"No one has ever asked an actor, 'You're playing a strong-minded man…' We assume that men are strong-minded, or have opinions. But a strong-minded woman is a different animal."
Meryl Streep



"I am a strong woman with or without this other person, with or without this job, and with or without these tight pants."
Queen Latifah

"Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore."
Lady Gaga



Finally, apropos of my heroines, a quote I've been repeating for years because it's so damned true. 


"A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water."
Eleanor Roosevelt

(Of course you could say the same about men too, but they have their own quotes.)

"Kate Garrett is heroic - yet human - not afraid to show her feminine emotions." 
Author Catherine Astolfo about Deadly Legacy.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Deadly Season - Let's Do Launch



  
November 20, 2015
Lunch Hour is from 12:30 to 2:00
12:30 Kat Flannery*
1:00 Melodie Campbell*
1:30 Gloria Ferris
Happy Hour is from 5:00 to 6:30
5:00 Kristina Stanley*
5:30 Joan O'Callaghan
6:00 Alison Bruce* and drop-in authors

 *Confirmed prizes

Deadly Season
(A Carmedy and Garrett Mini-Mystery)

By Alison Bruce

Imajin Qwickies, 2015 
ASIN: B017AFRN02 (Kindle)
ISBN: 9781772231533 (ePub)

Last month Kate Garrett was a Police Detective. Now she’s a Pet P.I.?

Kate recently inherited half her father’s private investigation company and a partner who is as irritating as he is attractive. Kate has been avoiding Jake Carmedy for years, but now her life might depend on him.

On sale in eBook formats at:
http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Season-Carmedy-Garrett-Mini-Mystery-ebook/dp/B017AFRN02
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/deadly-season
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Alison_Bruce_Deadly_Season?id=SzvSCgAAQBAJ
 

 

Too busy to read a full-length novel but miss the excitement of a great read? 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mystery Guest Melodie Campbell


Blame it on Christie
By Melodie Campbell

Okay, I admit it.  Along with coffee, dark chocolate, and foreign men named Raoul, I have an addiction.

I’m a sucker for the “You won’t guess the ending” Whodunit.

I blame Agatha Christie for this addiction.  She is also to blame for a lot of eleven-year-old sleepless nights, as well as my father’s near heart attack in 1970 when I announced at the dinner table, “I know thirteen ways to poison people and not get caught.”

Christie was indeed the Queen of Plot.  After an appetizer of Nancy Drew, I whipped through Poirot, Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence in less than two years. Then I moved on to Sayers, Allingham, Marsh and any traditional mysteries I could get my hands on.

Why?  It’s the chess game.  The sheer bliss of pitting my mind against the author’s to see if I can guess the killer before the story’s detective.

To this day, I relish a book that plays fair, leaves me the clues, and stumps me at the end.

So it’s no surprise that my ninth published book, co-written with good friend Cynthia St-Pierre, is a traditional whodunit.

Welcome, A KILLER NECKLACE, which hit the Amazon.ca mystery Top 100 bestseller list on its day of release!

It appears we are not alone in loving that killer surprise ending.

My favorite lines from the reviews posted thus far?

“The pacing is sharp, quick and very funny, a good combination for a mystery that is hard to put down. But the special ingredient is an ending I sure didn’t see coming.”

THAT is what we set out to do.  THAT is the kind of book that makes me smile and gives me chills.

Like a classic “You won’t guess the ending” whodunit?  See if you can guess the killer in A KILLER NECKLACE.


Short excerpt:

Jewelry was something Gina knew about, just as she knew about fashion. What’s more, she knew about the women who had real jewelry…how they behaved. What they thought. How they felt about it.  So there was one question that still haunted her. Yes, they had found Louisa’s sapphire and diamond necklace. But where was all the other stuff?


Book Links
Amazon.com
Smashwords
Kobo
Google Play



Melodie Campbell is an award-winning author of 40 short stories and 9 novels, including A Purse to Die For, co-written with Cynthia St-Pierre.  Melodie has won 10 awards for fiction, including the 2014 Derringer (US) and Arthur Ellis (Canada) and is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.
You can follow Melodie at www.melodiecampbell.com




Sunday, November 15, 2015

Have Laptop Will Travel for Coffee


“As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move...similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.”
Honore de Balzac (1799-1859)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Grey, the Blue, and the Poppy Red

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

Colonel John McCrae wrote these words following the death of one of his friends. By accounts, he wasn't particularly pleased with the poem. Regardless, it became the most quoted poem of the war and it established the poppy as the emblem of remembrance not only in Canada, the Commonwealth or even their allies, but also in Germany, Italy and parts of eastern Europe and Asia.

The proceeds from Poppy campaigns go towards wheel chairs and other aids and programs for veterans. They represent our gratitude, but also our responsibility to those who serve.

What are the iconic symbols of the Civil War? The Confederate Stars and Cross; the Union Stars and Stripes; the Grey and the Blue. They are symbols of division that are still present on the American landscape more than a hundred and fifty years later. Why?

Geographically the war was between the North and the South, but the war divided families both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Only a small percentage of the Southerners owned slaves. Most had no vested interest in the institution or, if anything, suffered economically because of it. They were rallied to the Confederate cause by fear of Northern aggression. Most Northerners were not abolitionists. They rallied to the Union cause to fight the Southern Rebels, not to free the slaves. There were also southerners who supported the Union and northerners that support secession.

 

In order to fill their ranks, both sides vilified the enemy. This wasn't the first or last time this would happen, but in this case, it set American citizens against American citizens. Bottom line, more Americans were killed in the Civil War than in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam combined. That's a very deep wound.

This rift has shaped American history from the old west to the present - not always pervasive, but never quite disappearing either. Fortunately there are always poets to pass a different kind of torch from one generation to another, reminding us that the dead are just as dead, no matter what side they were on.

The Blue And The Gray
Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)
 
By the flow of the inland river
 Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Under the one, the Blue,
Under the other, the Gray

Twin sisters separated by war, bound by love…

After the death of their father, twin sisters Maggie and Matty Becker are forced to take positions with officers’ families at a nearby fort. When the southern states secede, the twins are separated, and they find themselves on opposite sides of America’s bloodiest war.

In the south, Maggie travels with the Hamiltons to Bellevue, a plantation in west Tennessee. When Major Hamilton is captured, it is up to Maggie to hold things together and deal with the Union cavalry troop that winters at Bellevue. Racism, politics and a matchmaking stepmother test Maggie’s resourcefulness as she fights for Bellevue, a wounded Confederate officer and the affections of the Union commander.

In the north, Matty discovers an incriminating letter in General Worthington’s office, and soon she is on the run. With no one to turn to for help, she drugs the wealthy Colonel Cole Black and marries him, in hopes of getting the letter to his father, the governor of Michigan. But Cole is not happy about being married, and Matty’s life becomes all about survival.

Two unforgettable stories of courage, strength and honor


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Hazardous Unions On Sale



Twin sisters separated by war, bound by love…

After the death of their father, twin sisters Maggie and Matty Becker are forced to take positions with officers’ families at a nearby fort. When the southern states secede, the twins are separated, and they find themselves on opposite sides of America’s bloodiest war.

In the south, Maggie travels with the Hamiltons to Bellevue, a plantation in west Tennessee. When Major Hamilton is captured, it is up to Maggie to hold things together and deal with the Union cavalry troop that winters at Bellevue. Racism, politics and a matchmaking stepmother test Maggie’s resourcefulness as she fights for Bellevue, a wounded Confederate officer and the affections of the Union commander.

In the north, Matty discovers an incriminating letter in General Worthington’s office, and soon she is on the run. With no one to turn to for help, she drugs the wealthy Colonel Cole Black and marries him, in hopes of getting the letter to his father, the governor of Michigan. But Cole is not happy about being married, and Matty’s life becomes all about survival.

Two unforgettable stories of courage, strength and honor

Only 99 cents today. $1.99 November 9-12.


Hazardous Unions: Two Tales of a Civil War Christmas
By Alison Bruce and Kat Flannery

Excerpt:  Maggie's already complicated life is thrown another curve when Patience, the daughter of the house, wants to hide a Confederate officer on the Union-occupied plantation.

Mammy put the kettle on. Tea was scarce, but mint and chamomile grew like weeds around here. She had other herbs she'd brew up as well, but tonight she was making chamomile mint tea. Chamomile to calm the nerves. Peppermint to clear our heads.
"Now that you've established that Nate is a romantic fool," Patience said, sounding more like her old self, "can we figure out what to do to keep him safe? He cannot be left out there with nothing more than a bedroll."
"Of course not, my dear," Mrs. Hamilton said. "Though in fairness, Patience, that is how he was faring for the past year or more. On patrol, your father and his men often had little more."
"My father was hale and hearty then. Nate is still recovering from his wounds."
"He should go home," I said. "Wentworth Place is smaller than Bellevue. The Union Army might have left it alone. We need to find out."
"That's a sensible suggestion," Mrs. Hamilton said, a gratifying but ill-timed comment. Anything Mrs. Hamilton agreed with was automatically disagreed with by Patience.
"And how do you propose we do that? Go down and ask? 'Oh, Mister Captain, sir, can you tell us which of our neighbors are likewise occupied by your forces?'"
I smiled. "Good idea. I'll do that tomorrow morning. In the meantime, do you think you could bring Lieutenant Wentworth in out of the cold, Thaddeus? I'm thinking he could spend the night with our people."
Patience objected, of course. "Put him with the slaves? He won't do it."
"He'll do it if I asked him to," Thaddeus. "I can be very persuasive."
"Thank you," I interjected before Patience could speak. "Now we can rest assured that the Lieutenant will be safe tonight."
Later, when I said my nightly prayers, I thanked God for keeping us safe so far. "Please keep Matty and Mama and Werner safe, wherever they are. And Papa, if you're listening, give me the strength to get through tomorrow without killing Patience."