Saturday, October 21, 2017



Summertime in Crystal Bay means tourist season for Calliope “Callie” Costas, owner of Callie’s Kitchen, a Greek-meets-Midwest from-scratch eatery. Business is booming but so is the stress. Callie can barely keep up with the demand for her famous summer fruit pies and savory Greek delicacies, plus she’s agreed to bake dozens of “pitas” for the annual Greek Fest.

When Callie is asked to deliver cast party treats for a Murder Mystery Night at the historic Harris House, it seems like a welcome break from her hot stove. That is, until she finds herself an unwilling player in yet another suspicious death. Worse yet, the victim is a family friend and graduate student working on a project involving Crystal Bay’s colorful past.

Before long, a motley crew of suspects makes things as juicy as the succulent berries strewn around Callie’s Kitchen. And that’s not all Callie’s got on her plate. Add family obligations, a deepening romance with a local detective and unexpected personnel problems to the mix. 

One thing’s for sure: Callie’s got the recipe for a long, hot summer!


Calliope Costas, known as “Callie” to her friends, is a 36-year-old Greek-American single mom and owner of “Callie’s Kitchen,” a Greek-meets-Midwestern eatery known for its homemade meals and delicious baked goods. She lives in Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, a picturesque waterfront community and deals with not only running her own business, but also juggling multiple family issues that stem from her ex-husband, Hugh, his new wife, Raine and her daughter, 10-year-old Olivia. Lately, she’s also dealing with the fact that someone close to her has been murdered – again! Her father, George, is warm, loving – and meddlesome. Her grandmother, Viv, is always on her side. Callie is always ready to give her friends a kind word and a comforting meal and she’s just as likely to risk her own safety to track down a killer.


Callie, how did you first meet Jenny? 

We met in 2013, while she was taking a trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. She had loved reading cozy mysteries for many years and realized that a small, waterfront town in Wisconsin would be the perfect setting for a cozy mystery series. That’s how “Crystal Bay” was born. She loves food and married a Greek guy, so that’s how I came to be.

Want to dish about her? 
She has quite the imagination and sometimes I wind up in tight spots that are difficult to get myself out of. Less excitement in my life would be welcome at times!

Why do you think that you ended up being in a book?  
I think people can relate to me. I have real problems and real flaws. I juggle work, family, love and life, just like most of us. Lately, I’ve been finding myself in some extraordinary circumstances, and people can put themselves in my shoes and wonder what they would do in the same situations. Also, let’s face it: I have some exciting scenes when I finally confront the killers!

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.  
Personally, I love any scene that takes place in the elegant but slightly spooky Harris House. I also love the Greek Fest scene. Lots going on there, both in the mystery and in my personal life.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters? 
My family and friends: charming, if frustrating at times. I wish sometimes that they weren’t so concerned about me and that they let me live my life. Sands, my boyfriend, is a workaholic but so much fun and dreamy to look at. The others, including the many suspects? Just when I think I have them figured out, they do something that surprises me.

Do have any secret aspirations that Jenny doesn’t know about?  
I want to travel. I have a couple of ideas but let’s see if she figures them out.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?
I think people find me friendly and cheerful when they first meet me. I’m always cooking so I’ll probably offer you some food! Later, they see that I’m a bit overextended and sometimes too nice and accommodating for my own good. I also have a feisty side. Don’t tangle with my family or friends!

What's the worst thing that's happened in your life? What did you learn from it?

The worst thing that happened in my life was when my mother died when I was young. I learned that life is to be embraced and to appreciate my family and friends, even when life is throwing me challenges – especially then

What are you most afraid of?  
Fear itself. 

What’s the best trait Jenny has given you?
The best traits that she’s given me is that I’m a good mom, a hard worker and a loyal friend.

What’s the worst?

My worst trait is that I often let my emotions get the better of me and have tunnel vision when I’m trying to work out a problem.

If your story were a movie, who would play you?  
I think of myself as a cross between Jenni Poulous on Flipping Out and Pam from The Office.

Describe the town where you live. 
Crystal Bay, Wisconsin is in the southeast part of the state. It’s a waterfront town and popular tourist destination for people from Wisconsin and Illinois. Crystal Bay is filled with natural beauty and lots of local history. It’s a blend of the elegant and the rustic, with large, historic homes that dot the shoreline. The town is bustling with shops and restaurants, but with a population of about 6,000, it has a small town feeling.

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?

Unlike many cozy mystery characters, I’m a Greek-American, so you will find that cultural details and “flavor” not found in other characters of my genre.

Will you encourage Jenny to write a sequel?
Oh, yes! I have many adventures ahead of me.


Jenny Kales is the author of The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series, featuring Greek-American Calliope Costas, feisty food business owner and amateur sleuth. The setting of the story, “Crystal Bay,” is inspired by a favorite family vacation spot – Wisconsin’s beautiful Geneva Lakes. On The Chopping Block is the debut book in the series, followed by Spiced and Iced. Secrets and Pies was released on October 19.

Jenny is an avid reader, cook and baker and she’s addicted to mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or BBC America. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier.

Connect with Jenny:
Website  | 
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Newsletter  

Buy the book:


Want to win an e-copy of Secrets and Pies? Leave a comment below, and a random winner will be selected on October 28th!

Thursday, October 19, 2017



U.S. Marshal James Creed has known loss, starting from the untimely death of his wife and daughter in a sudden fire. His work, chasing down and arresting outlaws across the Wild West, is all he has left to live for. Then one day, in 1876, the infamous killer Corwin Blake catches Creed by surprise and guns him down.

Creed awakes after a mysterious young woman resurrects him in a basement laboratory beneath a brothel. Half alive, Creed feels torn between his need for justice and his desire to fall back into the peace of death. Creed's instincts drive him to protect the city of Santa Cruz, California, from the outlaws it harbors while searching for Blake.
He uncovers a secret criminal organization, likely protecting Blake, determined to use resurrection technology for its own ends. The former marshal, now faster, stronger, and a more deadly shot than ever before, must work with a brothel madam, a bounty hunter, and the remaining marshals to uncover the criminal syndicate before they can misuse the machines of rebirth and create more mindless zombies. Meanwhile, he must also stop Blake, before the outlaw kills the only people he cares about.
His own death can wait.


who are you?I am Jonathan Fesmire of Santa Cruz, First of His Name, the Geek, the Steampunk, the Intellectual, Writer of Fiction, Father of Gingers.

Where’s home for you?

I still think of Santa Cruz, California as home. I grew up in Santa Cruz County and got my BA at U.C. Santa Cruz. In fact, Bodacious Creed takes place in an alternate version of Santa Cruz in 1876.

Where did you grow up?
More specifically, I grew up in Watsonville, California, part of Santa Cruz County, though my heart has always been in Santa Cruz itself. I’ve lived all over the county, including in Aptos, Soquel, Capitola, and Santa Cruz.

What’s your favorite memory?
I have two. My daughter’s birth, and my son’s birth. There’s no more amazing feeling than seeing your own children come into the world.

So true. What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
I bought a 3D printer a couple of years ago, thinking I would somehow make money with my 3D model designs, but the printer had too many problems.

What do you love about where you live?

I live in Anaheim, California, so my son and I are close to the Disneyland Resort. When we have annual passports, we’re able to go often. It’s pretty amazing being able to go to Disneyland just for the evening, go on a few rides, get a bite to eat, then come home.

I'll bet! Have you been in any natural disasters?
I was in the heart of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, on Cathcart Street, oddly enough, in the main area where Bodacious Creed takes place in its alternate reality.

The roof collapsed at the Ford’s store across the street from where I was. The popular Cooper House, made primarily of stone, fell to pieces. Many other buildings suffered significant damage.

That was an amazing night in the sense that everyone came together to help each other, just incredible cooperation. But Santa Cruz is like that. The busses ran for free to get people home, and since I took the bus to work at the time, that’s how I got back to Watsonville.

As it turned out, the area where I lived had also been hit hard. Many of the houses had slid off their foundations. Our fireplace had fallen into the driveway and the indentation in the pavement remained for years. My family, and a friend of mine who was able to make it to my place but not his, slept in the back yard that night.

Wow. What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
I wish I had known that writing was the thing I wanted to pursue, and I wish I knew that, once the Internet came, I could start building my reader base.

What makes you bored?
Standing in line or waiting at an office with nothing to read.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I’m lucky that for my day job, I’m a copywriter. I get to write for a living. That’s amazing.

Yes it is. Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
A lonely genius. Stupidity is ruining the world.

How true is that! If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?

I would love to live in Paris. I speak French but rarely get to use it and loved Paris when I visited. There’s great cuisine, amazing little cafes, many fascinating museums, and you can get anywhere quickly on the metro. Besides, there’s a Disney park nearby.

What’s the story behind the title of your book?

This book started as my thesis project for graduate school. It wasn’t even a story exactly at first, but a background and set of characters for my 3D modeling demo reel. Since I was already a writer, I also thought it would make a great novel.

I had ideas for a gunfighter type character and a young brothel madam who was secretly an inventor, but didn’t have names yet. One morning as I was waking up, the name Bodacious Creed popped into my head. I figured I must have heard it before. It had to already be the name of a character somewhere. So, I looked it up. To my surprise, it wasn’t being used. I decided that I’d better take it before someone else did!

Is Bodacious Creed part of a series?
This is the first book in an intended series. I’m doing research and brainstorming for the sequel now. At this point, there’s not much readers need to know aside from what’s in the first novel.

As a primer, however, I’ll share a bit. Bodacious Creed takes place in an alternate history, a world where, in the 1870s, steam-based technology begins advancing rapidly. In other words, a steampunk world, though of course the specifics are of my own invention. It’s a western, it’s hard science fiction, and it has zombies.

Awesome! How did you create the plot for this book?
For me, plot comes primarily from the characters. While I knew some things that I wanted to have happen, it had to make sense for the characters to get to those points. Basically, after every chapter or even scene, I mentally check-in with my characters on their goals and motivations, which can change based on things they have just experienced. Then, I figure out what the characters—those specific characters—would do next.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
In Bodacious Creed, one character is fully based on a real person. It’s the bounty hunter Rob Cantrell. When I decided to write this novel, I ran a Kickstarter to find it. This was an amazing experiment. Not only did it reach its funding goal, but I was able to get input from readers for the story. Rob wanted a version of himself to be in the book. Once the Kickstarter ended, I sent him a release of likeness contract so I could do this legally, and his doppelganger is a major part of the story.

Why did you decide to self-publish?
In years past, I’ve had agents, and they had difficulty placing my books, even though they enjoyed them. Once self-publishing through print on demand became possible, I embraced it, especially when Lulu opened its services, as those were free to writers. I now use Create Space.

The thing is, I learned early on that all the worries I had about self-publishing apply to traditional publishing, too. Writers in both camps must do their own publicity. Self-published authors can ensure that their books are as well-written and edited as any traditionally published book. Also, many writers who have made it big had their books rejected dozens of times from big publishing houses. J.K. Rowling had a tough time finding a publisher for the first Harry Potter book. It’s tough to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and not recognize that it’s exactly the sort of novel that young adults want to read.

You are so right. So you're happy with your decision to self-publish?
I am. What I needed to learn was how to better promote my books, and it took a while to find good sources for that information. In short, the most important thing to do is build a following using one’s own mailing list, social media, and making connects with others, such as fellow writers and reviewers.

As I worked on Bodacious Creed, I kept up my blog and built my following, or platform. Because of that, it’s been doing well. Now, I want to keep that momentum going as I write the sequel.

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?
For Bodacious Creed, I set up pre-orders on Amazon for both the Kindle edition and the trade paperback, and that brought in a lot of sales in the month or so before the book’s release. Then, I ran a Facebook release party the weekend after the book came out, before the Kindle edition went up from its pre-order price of $1.49 to its regular price of $3.99.

I have an art degree, so I was able to create the full cover using the cover art by Joshua J. Stewart. Though I’ve formatted book interiors in the past, this time I used the CreateSpace template for 6x9 trade paperbacks, and that worked well. I’m pleased with the result.

I also had several beta readers who commented on the book as I rewrote it, and who found various small errors. Since the book is self-published, if someone finds a small error and points it out to me, I can correct it and fix it immediately for the Kindle edition, and also update the trade paperback, so that new orders will have the fix as well.

Alas, if I had the money to hire a professional editor and pay him or her fairly, I would, and may in the future. Still, the copy is a clean as what I find in most traditionally published books.

What are you working on now?
I am working on the sequel to Bodacious Creed. While the first novel takes place in an alternate Santa Cruz, California, the second will mostly take place in San Francisco. To that end, I’ve been researching San Fran, learning about its history and many of the colorful characters who lived there. The first book has two people in it out of Santa Cruz history. I want to have more in San Francisco.



Anna Lynn Boyd served drinks with one of her doves, Karla Hotchkiss, and kept an eye on the saloon. She grabbed a cloth from under the bar and wiped down the walnut surface that captured the blurry reflections of her patrons. Cowboys, hostlers, ranchers, and factory workers gulped ale and whiskey and downed their meals. Today's specials included shark, tuna, seasoned beef steaks, rye bread, fresh corn, and red potatoes.

With the supper rush well underway, The House of Amber Doves, Anna's bordello and restaurant, had come alive with its usual evening activity. The exquisitely carved clock on the wall opposite the bar read six twenty in the evening. On this first day of July, eighteen seventy-six, the sun would still be out for another hour or so. A cool breeze turned the hot day pleasant as it blew through the double doors, carrying with it the salty tang of the ocean.

Anna went to the far end of the bar, where her companion, Jonathan Johns, sat reading a book and working his way through an omelet stuffed with ground beef and onions and drinking a beer. Just twenty minutes prior, Jonny had downed a sugared coffee. Anna's twenty-year-old lover kept strange hours, which suited her fine. She did, too. It meant they could work together downstairs or make love in her bed as they pleased.

She took a moment to look over the short blond hair and long features she loved. He resembled an angel out of an El Greco painting. What's more, Jonny had proven a better lover than any of the men she'd entertained in her years as a dove. More important to her though, he was smart, damned brilliant, actually.

The book lay flat beside his plate, so Anna tipped it upward to read the spine. The day before, Jonny had gone through the newspaper in ten minutes. He had started this novel in the morning and had nearly finished it.

Jonny pushed the book back down and turned the page.

Anna leaned close to Jonny's ear and whispered, “Mary Shelley, is it? Research?”

Jonny winked at her then continued reading. Anna ran her fingers through his hair, over his left ear, and felt the bumpy, curving metal form, less than an inch long.

Her invention had saved his life, but Jonny could no longer speak. He could nod and shake his head, so they enjoyed simple communication. He helped with schematics in the basement. With his skills, he could have been working directly for Morgan's Automatons, but he preferred partnering with Anna. Yet speaking and writing remained beyond him.

Anna went back to the center of the bar and took a moment to assess the room. Karla might need help with the customers, or a table might deserve a visit from the parlor's madam.

Past the stairs stood Lucky and Dixie, two security automatons. Several more of Anna's girls leaned on the second-floor banister, gazing down at the patrons, waving, and blowing kisses. At the back of the stage, Hattie, a buxom blonde dove in a fancy blue dress, played the piano.

Meanwhile, singer Nate Lieby, his wild ginger hair and beard giving him the look of a fiery god, and his musical group, Whiskey Zombie Collective, tuned up violin, bass, banjo, guitar, and mandolin. The group frequently performed at Amber Doves and some customers came in just to hear them play.

Lorraine Silver strode into the saloon through the front doors to chat up a man at the bar. Her sharp voice cut through the chatter, piano, and shuffling cards. Anna had learned to tolerate that voice but sometimes thought Lorraine should talk through a pillow to tone it down.

“Howdy Lonzo,” Lorraine said, leaning against the bar, her hands on the big man's leg. “I think you're going to be a very busy man soon.”

Lonzo Rivera smiled devilishly. “That right? That an invitation?” The deputy always had brothel coins for Lorraine.

“Well yes, but not just that. Somebody just checked into the federal marshal office.
Someone who means business wherever he goes.”

At “federal marshal,” Anna, who had been pulling down a new whiskey bottle, froze. She watched them in the mirror past her own reflection.

“You don't mean James Creed?” Lonzo asked.

“James 'Bodacious' Creed,” Lorraine said, emphasizing the adjective.

“I do wish people wouldn't call him that. The man's done a lot of good, no doubt about it, but it makes you think of, I don't know, some sort of immortality. Like he's so brave nothing can touch him.”

“Don't be jealous now, love.” Lorraine ran the back of her fingers down Lonzo's arm.
As Karla turned, Anna shoved the whiskey bottle at her. “Well damn, Anna, what's got under your dress?”

Anna walked around the bar and took Lorraine's hand. “Lonzo, I need to borrow my girl here for a minute.”

“Be my guest, Miss Anna. Lorraine, you come back to me after.”

Anna led the young woman past noisy tables to the stairs. The steelies, their polished hickory and steel bodies mostly still, watched as Anna walked past. Their rudimentary brains considered her safety their top priority.

At the foot of the stairs, Anna stood with her left boot on the first step.

“What is it, Miss Boyd?” Lorraine asked.

“How do you know James Creed is in town?” Might this be Anna's chance to finally confront him? Highly self-educated, Anna felt no need for, nor faith in, prayer. Still, she held her palms together at her lips as though asking Jesus himself if this could be true.

Lorraine's voice rose, even sharper. “I just saw him! The man is legendary and handsome. I mean, in pictures, sure, but in real life? Oh Lord.”

“You follow him in the papers?” Anna asked.

“I follow everything. It was him.”

“Right, of course,” Anna answered. “Well, you better go back to Lonzo. You have fun with him.”

“Always do!” With a peppy smile and a flip of her hair, Lorraine went back to the bar.
Anna rushed out the front doors and turned left for Smullen's Stables and Livery, right across Soquel Avenue from The House of Amber Doves.

Anna’s parlor was the tallest building along the street after the renovations late the year before, right after she had bought the business from the former madam, Margarita Fullerton. Few knew the truth of how Anna had acquired the capital to buy the establishment and renovate it outright. Most people believed she had come into a big inheritance, and that’s how she wanted it. She couldn’t risk a backlash against the two companies she invented for, Morgan's Mechanicals and Morgan's Automatons. If the world knew that a former prostitute had ushered in a new technological age, what might it mean for her family of doves?

At Ott Smullen’s stables, she waved to one of the horse tenders feeding a brown and white spotted mare. He nodded back, a signal that meant, “I see you. Go ahead and take your ride.”

Anna strode down the row of horses, hay crunching under her boots, and reached her stallion, Espiritu, a black Saddlebred with white streaks along its back, almost like rib bones, and white patches on its face that gave the impression of a skull. Espiritu could look downright spooky at night.

She had no time to saddle her steed, not if she hoped to make it to the federal marshal outpost while Creed might still be there, so Anna slipped on its bit and bridle, hefted herself up, her dress bunching between her legs, grabbed the reins, and guided Espiritu out of the stable, past the other neighing horses and the smells of manure and oats.

“He’s here,” she whispered. The books he would read to her as a child. The secret code she’d invented and taught him. The hugs and laughter in front of their home's hearth back in Virginia, while her mother called them to dinner for chicken soup and homemade rolls. If only her mother could be there too, could return to life again just for a few days.

Still, U.S. Marshal James Creed had come to Santa Cruz, California, against all probability. After years of hoping, Anna could finally see her father.


Fantasy Novels:

Children of Rhatlan
Tamshi’s Imp

YA Fantasy:

Amber in the Over World


 Author Jonathan Fesmire, originally from Santa Cruz, California, now lives in Southern California with his son. By day, he's a copywriter, by evening a steampunk author, and at all times, a dedicated dad.

Though Jonathan started out writing fantasy, he has moved completely to steampunk, enchanted with its aesthetics, possibilities, and implications. He's a fan of the stories, the art, and the gadgets, and enjoys interacting with the community.  In fact, Jonathan regularly interviews popular members of the steampunk community for his The Wild Steampunk Blog.

Connect with Jonathan:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon   |  YouTube  

Buy the book:


Tuesday, October 17, 2017



Lowcountry Private Investigator Blu Carraway needs a new client. He’s broke and the tax man is coming for his little slice of paradise. But not everyone appreciates his skills. Some call him a loose cannon. Others say he’s a liability. All the ex-Desert Storm Ranger knows is his phone hasn’t rung in quite a while. Of course, that could be because it was cut off due to delinquent payments.

Lucky for him, a client does show up at his doorstep—a distraught mother with a wayward son. She’s rich and her boy’s in danger. Sounds like just the case for Blu. Except nothing about the case is as it seems. The jigsaw pieces—a ransom note, a beat-up minivan, dead strippers, and a missing briefcase filled with money and cocaine—do not make a complete puzzle. The first real case for Blu Carraway Investigations in three years goes off the rails.

 And that’s the way he prefers it to be.


Blu Carraway, Charleston County, South Carolina

Running a business isn’t easy. Especially in these litigious days. A successful business means there’s extra fundage to cover mistakes. One that struggles has a harder time. Everything you do has to pay off because you don’t have anything to gamble with.

Private Investigation, in my experience, is the cliché “feast or famine.” I was in a huge drought when my author picked up the story for
In It For the Money. One could make an inference from the title that I was definitely in it for the money. I needed cash. It had been three years since I had any kind of job that paid anything real.

It wasn’t always this way. It’s called feast or famine for a reason. In the feast times, the business had a downtown Charleston office and two surveillance vehicles. My business partner, Mick Crome, and I had more work than we could do. I had to subcontract some of it out.

I was at a real low point at the beginning of the first book about me. My downtown office was gone. So were my extra cars. I was down to a desk in my living room with a phone that had been disconnected and I didn’t even know it. Talk about a sorry state for an operative.

My favorite jobs aren’t even investigations. They’re private security. Anticipating when and where someone could attack is what I like best. But, I’ll take most any respectable work these days. It’s better to keep the lights on by earning money as a private investigator than working day labor. Ask me how I know.

Reputation only goes so far, especially for one like mine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the town leper. It’s just that not everyone needs the work I’m known for. I already talked about private security. But it’s more than that. Once, I took a job pro bono to help a woman get out of an abusive marriage. He’s no longer with us and she’s now my best source at the DMV.

My business partner left town with half the money from the last big job we did three years ago. I don’t blame him. He’s not one of those that’s good at responsibility. I’ve got a daughter and a small island with some scraggly horses to take care of. So, yes, I’m IN IT FOR THE MONEY.


David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. He is the author of both the Brack Pelton and the Blu Carraway Mystery Series. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

Connect with David:

Webpage  |  Facebook  |  Twitter GoodReads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Sunday, October 15, 2017



Has our Jersey Girl finally bitten off more than she can chew? 

Crime reporter Colleen Caruso has an appetite for romance . . . and trouble. When someone tries to poison Ken Rhodes (her handsome boss and boyfriend), Colleen vows to hunt down the culprit and serve them up to the police. She's whisked away into the scrumptious world of restaurants and gourmet food as she tangles with four culinary divas from Ken's past. 

Trouble is, Colleen doesn't know when to turn down the heat.


Colleen Caruso is a mom of two dreading an upcoming birthday. She’s a reporter for a local newspaper, Town Crier, a job she sort of stumbled into. Her main man is also her boss – but she’s a reluctant lover (an ugly divorce will do that to a gal). She lives in a small, quaint New Jersey shore community and is surrounded by good friends and a pushy family. Colleen rarely goes looking for trouble. She doesn’t have to. Somehow trouble always seems to find her.


Colleen, how did you first meet Jo-Ann?

I first became acquainted with Jo-Ann many years ago while she was working on a book called Community Service. The book never did pan out, but I certainly did! She used a beach town as the setting for that story, and because the Jersey Girl mysteries take place in Tranquil Harbor, New Jersey, I was sort of recycled into the series.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

Time off during the summer is the perfect opportunity to stretch out on a towel near the water and wait for the sun to make me tan.

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I would rewrite my lousy ex-husband and delete him from the picture, though without him I wouldn’t have my two beautiful, sometimes caustic kids, so I guess that’s not such a great idea.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
I love them. That’s not to say I’d like to kill them off at times. But love is love.

Do have any secret aspirations that Jo-Ann doesn’t know about?
I can’t give that kind of information away. Jo-Ann reads everything, and she already knows way too much about me!

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

I’d spend most of the day in front of a slot machine with a gin and tonic in my hand, then go out and eat a dinner big enough to put me into a coma.

What are you most afraid of?
I’m afraid one day I’ll fall into a comfort zone and my life will be boring. Every day of my life is hectic, crazy, and as my mother keeps reminding me, it’s never normal. The older I get, the more I fear normal.

What’s the best trait your author has given you?
Jo-Ann made me resilient. I always bounce back, scathed but functional. I don’t give up and never have.

What’s the worst? 
Small boobs!

What do you like best about James O'Reilly?
I absolutely love Officer James O’Reilly. He always turns up and offers inside information whenever I hit a road block. I don’t even mind that he treats me like a senile great-grandmother most of the time. Least? I have to switch characters to tell you what I like least about someone. That would have to be my smart-ass sister! Kate is showy and inexplicably lucky. She appears so delicate and feminine that guys can’t do enough for her. But I’m not jealous or anything. Oh, no! Not me!

What’s your author’s worst habit?

When this chick hits a glitch while she’s writing, she switches from working on the manuscript to playing computer games! I mean, what’s up with that? Is she kidding?

How do you feel about your life right now? 
Life is chugging along and going great at the moment. If I could change anything, I’d like to be the top reporter at my newspaper, the Town Crier – not number two. Coming in second isn’t in my nature, though for some odd reason it happens fairly often.

What aspect of Jo-Ann’s writing style do you like best?

I like the way my creator sees humor in everything I do, even if I don’t consider my day-to-day life to be particularly humorous.

If your story were a movie, who would play you?
I want Sofia Vergara to be me, but she’d have to practice her Jersey accent.

Describe the town where you live.

Tranquil Harbor is a mostly quiet shore community. There’s a lovely little beach for sunning and swimming. Our summers revolve around the weather. The town isn’t garish like some of the shore towns further south, with rides, games, food stands and a ton of tourists. We’re small and mostly close-knit. We all know each other’s business. We’re polite, well behaved, but there’s always something sinister brewing just below the surface of our ordinary, day-to-day lives.

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
Not being a stand-out sets me apart from the many women in my genre. I’m not devastatingly gorgeous. My figure isn’t perfect. My mothering skills need some work. My reporter instincts are a bit off at times. I’m every woman!

If you could be “adopted” by another writer, who would you choose?

Susan Isaacs maybe. I’ve read her work and I think she would truly understand me.

Will you encourage Jo-Ann to write a sequel?

I’ll do my best. My life is an ongoing slapstick comedy/disaster, and everyone needs a good laugh.


Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa is the creator of the Jersey Girl Cozy Mystery series, which includes New Math is Murder, Hide Nor Hair, and the latest installment, Another Man’s Poison, released in August, 2017. Reccoppa has worked for many years as a newspaper stringer, writing everything from serious medical pieces to restaurant reviews. Her short stories have appeared in several genre magazines, in addition to a mystery, which appeared in the Barnes & Noble Crafty Cat Crimes anthology.

Connect with Jo-Ann:                          Buy the book:

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Saturday, October 14, 2017



Carrie Singleton forgoes her purple hair and Goth attire to become head of programs and events at the Clover Ridge Library. She finds herself embroiled in solving a cold case and a new murder with the occasional help of the library’s sixty-something ghost amid family squabbles, romance and discovering her place in life.


A few of your favorite things:
Books, clothes, lipsticks.
Things you need to throw out:
Clothes I no longer wear, books I’ve read, papers I think I might need.

Things you need in order to write:
My computer, my outline, my mind.
Things that hamper your writing:
My cat needing to be fed,
email, I need to look something up, email

Things you love about writing:
When it flows, when I had a new idea that perfectly suits the plot.
Things you hate about writing:
When I’m stumped about something, there’s always so much that needs to be done regarding promotion.

Hardest thing about being a writer:
Resolving a plot problem, getting all that PR done.

Easiest thing about being a writer:
Getting into a scene and the words simply flow; hearing or reading that someone loved reading your book.

Things you love about where you live:
I love my house, having friends close by, lots of trips and activities if I want to partake.
Things that make you want to move:
A woman in my HOA is suing the board and causing everyone aggravation, a neighbor I dislike.

Things you never want to run out of:
Good books, good TV shows and movies, good conversation with friends.
Things you wish you’d never bought:
A few pair of pants that are a bit too snug

Words that describe you:
Friendly, funny, interesting.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t:
Impatient, can come on strong.

Favorite foods:
Pasta, cheese, duck, fish, lobster.
Things that make you want to throw up:
Burned food, hearing upsetting stories about people, about animals being mistreated, medical details while I’m eating.

Favorite music or song:
Cassical, old show tunes, folk music.
Music that make your ears bleed:
Hard rock.

Favorite beverage:
Something that gives you a pickle face:
Pickles, but I still like them.

Favorite smell:

Freshly cut grass
Something that makes you hold your nose:
When fertilizer’s put down on the lawn.

Something you’re really good at:
Writing, knitting, speaking Spanish
Something you’re really bad at:
Understanding stocks and bonds

Something you wish you could do:

Ride a horse.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do:
Drive a shift car.

Something you like to do:
Travel in foreign countries
Something you wish you’d never done:
Gone to an event just to be nice

Last best thing you ate:
Lobster crepe.

Last thing you regret eating:
Polluted fish that gave me hives.

Things you’d walk a mile for:
Gelato, clothes shopping.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:
Snakes, snarling dogs.

Things you always put in your books:

Touch of romance
Things you never put in your books:
Physical abuse.

Things to say to an author:
I loved your book. When is the sequel coming out?

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
Your sleuth is boring. I figured out the murderer on page sixty.

Favorite places you’ve been:
Cote d’Azur, English countryside.

Places you never want to go to again:

Favorite genre:
Mystery, women’s fiction
Books you would ban:
Books filled with abuse against women and children.

Things that make you happy:
Seeing my grandkids, eating dinner out with my significant other, watching a good movie.
Things that drive you crazy:
A slowdown in traffic because people are rubbernecking; people who talk too loud in restaurants or during a movie.


A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson is the author of mysteries, romantic suspense and novels for kids. She writes the Twin Lakes Mystery series and the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery series. Death Overdue, written as Allison Brook, is the first in her Haunted Library Mystery series. Library Journal has given the book a star review and named it a Pick of the Month. Blackstone has recorded an audiobook version of Death Overdue. Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her novels take place.

Connect with Allison:

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Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Audio  

Thursday, October 12, 2017



To the memory of Ruth Swerdloff, whose journey you are about to take.

Many people fall into routines that require them to do the same thing, the same way, everyday. They get up, go to work and perform the same job, read the same types of books—never changing anything. When they are forced to vary from their routines, some people often find it difficult, or virtually impossible. People, not just seniors, who take part in different activities each day give their minds a chance to workout, which may reduce their risk of developing dementia. This book is dedicated to all those whose memories are precious, whose lives have been drastically changed, and whose families I hope after reading this book will understand the huge undertaking and commitment they are making when they decide to become a caregiver. In my heart and soul, I hope someday a cure or a preventive will be found for Alzheimer’s disease. I dedicate this book to my mom, Ruth Swerdloff, who gave me the courage to be the person I am today, and taught me the true meanings of courage and survival.


Fran, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have always loved to write even before becoming an author. But, professionally it took a dare from my sister to write my first book when I retired from my job with the New York City Public School System when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Someone had to care for her full time. My sister dared to become a couch potato or review a book. I reviewed a cookbook, and I don’t know one knob of a stove from another. The review was filled with humor, fun quotes, and much more. The author is still laughing and made sure it was read all over the Internet. My sister dared to write a book, and I chose to write about our antics growing up in the South Bronx creating my Bertha Series with the first book titled My Name is Bertha. I have not stopped writing, reviewing ever since. I even created a magazine, MJ Magazine in my sister’s memory and would welcome more contributors.

What inspired you to write this book?

When my mom realized that she had a memory problem, we started to record memories that would help keep her mind active. I used these journal entries to write this book hoping that it will help others who decide to become a caregiver to understand what they are going to have to endure, what it entails, and the fact that you as the caregiver are keeping someone close to you alive and in a familiar environment. I wrote this to honor my mom and all that she did for me growing up.

What do you hope readers will get from this book?

I hope that readers will understand why there has to be a more concerted effort to find the real cause of the illness and money for research. I hope that when they read this book they will avail themselves of the resources that I have included and feel free to email me with their questions.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

I made a promise to my mom never to put her in a nursing facility, and after visiting over twenty, I realize that I made the right decision based on what I saw.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

When my mom was diagnosed in 2003 with Alzheimer’s, I retired from my position as reading and writing staff developer and dean of discipline. If I did not retire I hoped to use my Principal’s license to be an administrator.

How would you describe your book in a tweet?

Resourceful, true story, straightforward, and informative.

Why did you decide to write this book?

To bring this issue to light, and hope that when people read my book or buy it I can donate to Alzheimer’s.

What will others learn from reading your book?

The stages of the illness. The resources available and how to deal with  the many changing behaviors and the tips for bathing, feeding, understanding behavior changes, and more.

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I just write what comes to me and hope it makes sense.

Did you have any say in your cover art?

I created the cover myself. I searched for the right picture frame from the 1940’s, and the picture on the cover is my mom’s high school graduation picture, and she loved roses.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

The family photos.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

My mom and dad loved “Till The End Of Time.”

Who are your favorite authors?

Jon Land, Tess Gerritsen, Robert Dugoni, Alan Topol and  Carter Wilson.

What are your favorite books a) as a child b) as a teenager c) as an adult?

As a child I loved reading the classics which I did in the third grade: the original Little Women, Dr. Jekeyll and Mr. Hyde, Alice In Wonderland, the Prince and the Pauper and Treasure Island.
As a teen I loved Nancy Drew, mysteries, A tale of two cities and Shakespeare. 

As an adult and a book reviewer just about everything but erotica. I love mystery/thrillers, memoirs, historical fiction, fiction, history, true crime and true life non-fiction.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix him or her?

Since I don’t cook it would definitely be take out from the local Italian restaurant, and since I never invite anyone without asking them their preferences I would let them decide. I would invite, if he were still alive, Edgar Allan Poe or one that is alive, my favorite Jon Land.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?

I only read paperback or hardcover, and I am reading five books at this time: The House of Spies, Proof of Life, Paradise Valley, Close to Me which is not out yet and The Cuban Affair.

Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?

I work at all times of the day or night whenever the inspiration comes to write a book or a review or create my magazine.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I write or shall I say I type on my computer or on my favorite recliner. 

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Your last meal would be . . .

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore? 

A library so that I can share my stories, read from my own books, and help young children choose books that will make them want to read.

You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

That’s a tough question. I guess I would not buy anything, but I would pay off what I owe the dentist, and if it is in the millions help some of my family members that are struggling. But, for me maybe a new computer.

Would you rather be stranded on a deserted island or the North Pole?

The North Pole.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Shopping definitely, going to the city and visiting the amazing places in Manhattan. 
Dinner at the Capital Grille, a show, or a museum.

Where would your dream office be?

One filled with the latest technology and the most updated computer system

Where’s home for you?

Upper Westchester.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

We just moved here, and it’s odd that I am from the Bronx and I always hold doors and greet people that I meet. Here they do not. I love living somewhere where I can get up in the morning and walk to the bakery and get my morning cappuccino. 
One fact: the area is beautiful and the great part is the Sanitation Department is fantastic making the snow go away in the winter after a storm.

What do you do when you get writer’s block?

I walk and get some air and watch a program that just makes me smile and then I get back to work.

Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow? 

Music: Opera.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

My father always told me and my mom: “I will love you always till the end of time.”
“Smiling doesn’t cost and being polite if free.”- Fran Lewis

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Charlatans: Robin Cook; Dark Light Dawn: Jon Land; Fabrizio Boccardi and A Face to Die for: Andrea Kane.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Walking, shopping, talk with friends and family.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

Right where I am.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Israel where I have family.

What are you working on now?

The next faces behind the stones book five.


Part One

Reading has always been the way for me to escape to other worlds, learn about many different places, and expand my knowledge of so many subjects. With a notepad in hand and several pens at the ready, I begin reading the many books that authors send me each day. Detailing the plot, the characters, and taking notes throughout, I create a perfect analysis of the book.

Remembering what my mom had told me, to always look for that special message in the book and create that first paragraph to stimulate reader interest, I begin my review. Perfection: that’s what she always told me. Each piece of writing, each assignment had to be done to the standards set by my teachers and professors, and then pass the highest test, mom’s. I remember coming out of school one night, and she stuck her hand out waiting to see what I’d gotten on my midterm in one of my graduate courses in administration. I still smile when I remember what happened. I left out one question and got a 98, and I told mom what I did wrong and the right answer. But, the professor was so frustrated with most of the other students that she had to revamp the scores by adding ten points to everyone’s test scores just to have more students pass, so mom was satisfied with my 108. And, of course, on the final I did get 100 and an A in the class, because it was what was expected of me by myself, and of course, mom.

Till this day I still create my reviews, my schedule for my radio show, and anything else that I decide to venture into, like the MJ magazine in memory of my sister Marcia Joyce, with the understanding that my work has to stand up to the highest standards. The articles, reviews, stories, and issues that are published should be equal to those of any credible magazine on the newsstands.

So, mom, it’s been five years and it seems like yesterday. I hope I will continue to make you proud of me. You taught me well. Yes, I never leave the house without looking my best. You were my mom, mymentor, and my best friend. You will always be here for me in spirit.

Today you would have celebrated your 89th birthday with a special red rose and your favorite chocolate cake. Your blue eyes and your great smile would light up the room, and of course the presents we would give you would make you proud. You taught us never to give up on our dreams, nor settle for less than we want in our lives. You made sure that you listened when we felt down and needed a guiding hand to rise back up. You never faltered and never passed judgment. You were our mother, our guide, and our best friend. Rules were made and enforced, but never with an iron hand. Explanations were given for your requests, and we all followed suit and showed you the respect you deserved.

When you became ill we all rallied together as a family to make sure you remained at home and received great help. We were truly blessed to have Joyce, Joan, Laurel, Pat, Tessa, Loretta, and Getty to take such good care of you and, of course, someone we all miss and loved, Veronica Collins, your case manager, who made sure that you were safe and protected by the best aides in the world from Partners in Care. So, mom, happy birthday, and let the sun shine tomorrow so we know that you are still watching over us and protecting Marcia, who is with you now. We miss your wisdom, your guidance, the huge grey mobile that you drove anywhere you were needed, as the taxi driver for your friends, and the orange mobile that my reading students loved when you picked me up or drove me to school. I made a promise and vowed that I would do everything in my power to care for you, keep your mind and body active, and never even consider the one thing so many others do, placing you in a nursing home.

The circle of life begins on the day you are born and ends when you close your eyes for the last time and take your last precious breath.

Ruth Swerdloff started her life on November 22, 1927, and became a part of a loving, nurturing family that would remain intact for the first two years of her life until the loss of her mother, when things would change. But, Ruth was special from the start, and although facing her first obstacle at the age of two, losing a parent, she somehow learned to accept the change with the help of her sister, Tova, and three brothers, Kenny, Irving, and Harry. This is her story. This is where her circle of life begins.


Fran Lewis worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters Degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who's Who of America's Teachers and Who's Who of America's Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children's books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer's disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure. The title of her new Alzheimer’s book is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey; Ruth’s story and Sharp as a Tack and Scrambled Eggs Which Describes Your Brain? Fran is the author of 13 titles and completed by 14th titled A Daughter’s Promise.
She was the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school's newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites.

Special dedication to Stacy Modlin for reading my book, giving me positive feedback, and re-editing it. You are the best, and I will always hold you dear as one of my favorite and closest cousins in the world. –Fran

Connect with Fran:
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017



Beware of all that goes bump in the night…

Sean and Sara McKinley are excited about the haunted house they’ve set up as a Halloween charity fund-raiser, but things take a ghoulish turn when the reporter covering their story is found dead. With the media keeping mum about how she died, Sara’s curiosity is piqued, and she convinces Sean to take on the investigation through their PI firm.

But this case is not without its challenges. The police are actively investigating it, as well, and it’s not even clear that the woman was murdered. It will take a little cloak-and-dagger, dress-up, and finesse for the McKinleys to get to the bottom of it, but they aren’t the kind to give up.

As they troll for leads and work through the skeletons in the reporter’s closet, they unearth a few suspects, but they’ll need to carve out the whole truth if they’re going to find her killer. If they do so fast enough, there might even be time for a little trick-or-treating.




IT WAS NEARING SIX O’CLOCK in the evening, and Sean and Sara were home in their media room on a large sectional couch, getting ready to watch their spotlight on the evening news with some friends and colleagues. They’d left the haunted house in the hands of some capable employees, who would be posted there until closing at eight.

Jimmy Voigt, their former sergeant when they worked for the Albany PD, also worked for them at the PI firm. He was on the couch next to his girlfriend, Meredith, for the viewing. Sara had told Sean more than once that it was a match made in heaven. He was pretty sure he’d rolled his eyes every time. Not because he didn’t believe in love—he was married to his soul mate—but he just found it hard to picture his former boss whispering sweet nothings to a lady love.

Helen was seated at the other end of the sectional, and Mia was on the floor at her feet, still dressed up as a princess. She really was a good kid—as far as kids went anyway. And it’s not that Sean had anything against children, but for now, he and Sara had decided they weren’t going to have any. And honestly, it was probably for the best, as they traveled a lot and solving crimes didn’t leave much free time.

“I’m going to be on TV.” Mia’s face lit up as she grinned. “I can’t wait!” She seemed more excited about this than she had been at the announcement that pizza was for dinner. Mia stared at the muted television. “That lady was so pretty.”

By “that lady,” Sean assumed she meant Chloe Parsons. Sean had to agree that based on appearances and initial impressions, she was good-looking. But he didn’t understand why she took such issue with Susannah when she didn’t want to talk.

Mia turned to Sara and flashed another smile. “You looked great, too.”

“Thank you.” Sara returned the smile and swept her long brown hair over her left shoulder. “Did you have fun today?”

“Oh yeah. My favorite part was the mummy.”

“That didn’t scare you?” Sara laced her voice with concern but couldn’t hide the underlying amusement.

Mia’s expression faded, and her eyes enlarged. She nodded. “I was, but I like to be scared. And I love mummies!” She bounded to her feet and jumped onto her mother’s lap. Helen let out a whoosh of air but quickly recovered.

“It’s the other kind of mummy, though, sweetheart.” Helen ran a hand over her daughter’s silky hair.

“Oh, it’s almost time,” Meredith said, obviously getting swept up in Mia’s enthusiasm.
Sean looked at the digital clock on the cable box: 5:59.

“It’s on!” Jimmy said, sitting up straighter.

Sean turned up the sound and sank back into the couch, putting an arm around his wife.
Mia wriggled on her mother’s lap.

“Come on, honey, back on the floor.” Helen’s voice strained with the desperation of her plea.
Sean smiled, not because of the woman’s discomfort but because he loved seeing how excited Mia was.

“My costume was the best. They have to show me!” The little girl’s eyes were wide and fixed on the screen.

“You are a beautiful little princess,” Sean said.

Mia glared at him. “I’m not little.” She held up both hands, fingers splaying as she counted them off. “I’m six.”

“My apologies,” he said with a slight bow of his head.

Sara laced her fingers with his, and he met her gaze, which said, You’re aren’t the best with kids . . .

Message received.

“Shh.” This came from Jimmy, and when Sean turned to look at him, he shrugged. “You want to hear it, don’t you?”

Sean increased the volume a bit more.

“We have some somber news this evening,” a chic reporter announced from the news desk. Based on the set of her mouth and the sad look in her eyes, she wasn’t reading from a script. “Your Source has just received word that one of our own has died.”

Sara tapped her fingers on the back of his, leaned in, and whispered, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

He didn’t look over at her, but his wife had this way of sensing things. He wouldn’t label her clairvoyant, but she certainly had strong intuition.

“Tonight, we say good-bye to”—the reporter, while she kept her tone modulated, was clearly battling with her emotions—“Chloe Parsons.”

The news was a sledgehammer to his chest, knocking the wind out of him.


Carolyn Arnold is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

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