Spotlight on a new cozy release from Berkley
SMILE BEACH MURDER
Release date May 10, 2022
ONE OF US
At 35, children’s book author Roxi Carlucci finds herself starting over again after her publisher drops her book series. With no income, she has to pack up her life on the California Coast, along with her pet rat Merlin, and move in with her cousin, P.I. Stephen Carlucci, who lives in Fresno, CA. The one redeeming factor is that Stephen lives in the Tower District—the cultural oasis of Fresno.
and now, ROCCO interviews Lorie Lewis-Ham!
Answer: My background in writing goes way back. I have been writing ever since I was able to write my first sentence. My first song and poem were published when I was 13, and I have published many short stories and articles through the years, worked for a local newspaper off and on, and have published 6 mystery novels-the latest of which came out in 2021. For the past 12 years, I have been the editor-in-chief and publisher of Kings River Life Magazine, and produced Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast for the past 4 years.
Answer: My latest book, One of Us, is the first in a brand new series called the Tower District Mysteries. Here is the back cover blurb-
At 35, children’s book author Roxi Carlucci finds
herself starting over again after her publisher drops her book series. With no
income, she has to pack up her life on the
Stephen talks Roxi into helping out with a community
theatre production, which is also a
fundraiser for a local animal rescue. Then someone is murdered during a rehearsal in the locked theatre, and now she and Stephen are hired to find the killer. Can they stop the killer before they strike again? The killer has to be one of Roxi’s new acquaintances since the theatre was locked at the time of the murder, but no one seems to have a motive. How can they solve a murder without a motive? Could the local gossip website hold any clues?
Answer: I start out with some basic ideas and then build on them as I work on the first draft—the characters kind of develop as the story does. My main character Roxi though I have been working on for years, she made her first appearance in the last book of my other series, “The Final Note,” which came out 12 years ago. I have several pages of information on her but that too grew and changed as I wrote the first book. The main character in my first series was a lot like me, I wanted Roxi to be different. So I’m short she is tall, and she is much braver and more of a risk taker than I am.
Answer: Definitely a pantser!
Answer: As a reader I think the main character is the most important—if I don’t care about them and find them interesting then I won’t keep reading in most cases. However, as a writer I would say they are almost equal. Even the best character in the world can’t carry a boring plot.
Answer: I am working on the second book in my series that I hope will be out next year. I don’t have a title yet but it is set at Halloween and involves a mystery book festival.
My hope is to keep writing Roxi books for some time.
Answer: Well if they are new to my writing with this book (I took a 12 year break from writing mysteries) then they may not know that I used to be a gospel singer. I started when I was 12 and sang until about ten years ago. I also wrote most of my own songs.
Answer: You can learn all about my book on my website. There are review quotes, links to purchase it and other info https://www.mysteryrat.com/
ROCCO’s Fast Five:
Instagram @krlmagazine (I share it with the magazine)
Twitter @mysteryrat https://twitter.com/mysteryrat
On Facebook I can be found at KRL’s Mystery Facebook group
Thank you for a great interview, Lorie!
Lorie will give away an ebook copy of One of Us through Bookfunnel. To enter, leave your name and e-mail address in our comments section! Winner will be chosen at random. Contest is open to all and ends midnight, May 24.
Here are the Berkley cozies for May!
CLAWS FOR SUSPICION by Deborah Blake | Four Stars
Berkley Mass Market; on sale May 3, 2022
Kari Stuart is finally starting to relax into her role as the new owner of the Serenity Sanctuary and is looking forward to the various fun autumn activities in the beautiful Catskills town of Lakeview, like the annual Oktoberfest celebration. It’s time for friends and quality bonding with handsome vet Angus McCoy. Until the unexpected arrival of her unpleasant ex-husband, Charlie Smith.
He comes bearing a shocking revelation—the paperwork on their divorce never went through, and they are still married. Worse yet, he thinks this entitles him to half of her lottery winnings—although he'll happily take partial ownership of the sanctuary instead. Kari isn’t sure if he’s telling the truth, or if it’s just another one of Charlie’s lies.
But things go from bad to worse when an unexpected death makes Kari the main suspect in a murder investigation. Will she and Queenie be able to find the real killer and keep the home they’ve built at the sanctuary safe, or is their string of luck finally tapped out?
A good debut mystery with a solid cast of characters! We found this very enjoyable! Four paws up!
MSW: KILLER ON THE COURT by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran | Four Stars
Berkley Hardcover; on sale May 17, 2022
Jessica Fletcher’s sunny beach vacation with her nephew’s family takes a dark turn in this new installment in the USA Today bestselling series.
Jessica is delighted when her nephew Grady invites her to spend a few days with his family in an oceanside New York bungalow. She packs her bags and heads down to the city, ready to spend some quality time with Grady, his wife, Donna, and their young son, Frank.
But the morning after Jessica’s arrival, Donna finds her boss dead on a tennis court, and Jessica’s dreams of a relaxing visit are quashed. Everyone in the small beachside community is a suspect, and the local authorities—headed by an old colleague of Cabot Cove sheriff Mort Metzger—have asked that no one leave town. Will Jessica be able find a killer and salvage the rest of her trip?
Really, who doesn't love Jessica Fletcher? Another good entry in this timeless series. Four Stars.
MURDER IS NO PICNIC by Amy Pershing | Four Stars
Berkley Mass Market; on sale June 7, 2022
When a celebrity chef is found dead, Samantha Barnes, the "Cape Cod Foodie", finds her search for the world's best blueberry buckle turning into a search for a killer
The Fourth of July is coming, and for professional food lover Samantha Barnes, it’s all about the picnic. Okay, and the fireworks. And the parade. But mostly the picnic. What could be better than a DIY clambake followed by the best blueberry buckle in the world? Sam has finally found the perfect recipe in the kitchen of Clara Foster, famed cookbook author and retired restaurateur, and she’s thrilled when Clara agrees to a buckle baking lesson.
Combines two of our favorite things - food and mysteries! A solid four paws!
The crew from the Fairy Tale Cupcakes shop risks getting burned when they set out to find a murderer who is terrorizing their town
Life is smooth as buttercream at the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery, and newlyweds Mel and Joe are stopping to smell the flours. But things start to crumble one night when an unknown gunman takes a shot at Mel. Though the bullets miss their mark, the cupcake crew goes on high alert to figure out who would want to kill a small-town baker, and why.
When more business owners are attacked, things turn fatal, and locals begin to wonder if the killer could be one of their own. Every shop owner in town starts to fear it’s only a matter of time before they too become victims of the mystery murderer. Despite the cupcake crew's superb baking skills, it will be anything but a piece of cake to catch the killer, as they try to prevent anyone else from being berried
We are quite fond of Jenn McKinlay's Libray Lovers series and the Cupcake series is another favorite! A definite four and a half paws.
Ma-Row! Our guest today is cozy mystery author Deborah Blake!
Me-ow! Welcome, Deborah!
I have degrees in Psychology, Theater, and Secondary English Education and therefore spent the last 23 years co-founding then running an artists’ cooperative shop. I juggled both that and the writing for a long time before finally leaving earlier this year for focus on being a full-time writer. I’ve lived in beautiful upstate New York my entire life.
Claws for Suspicion is the third book in my Catskills Pet Rescue cozy mystery series. The series was inspired by a local rescue organization where I got three of my five current cats, as well as by my love of animals in general. It has mystery, humor, a bit of romance, and of course, a lot of adorable cats and dogs, including the kitten Queenie who is the star of the series.
I write up character info and they tend to come to me as I do it. Although I admit that some of my characters (not the protagonists, but some secondary characters) are inspired by folks I really know.
I have been an outliner since my third book, and now that I’m writing cozy mysteries, outlining is even more important. Mysteries don’t lend themselves to seat of the pants writing.
It took me two years, three books, and sixty-seven rejections (many of them for partials or fulls) before I got my agent. She was completely worth the wait. When she started reading the book that eventually got me signed, she was in the middle of wedding planning and a visit from her future in-laws, so she emailed me and said she probably couldn’t finish reading until Monday. (This was on a Friday afternoon.) On Saturday morning, she emailed again and said she’d finished the book and loved it, and please not to sign with anyone else until she could talk to me on Monday. It was a wonderful moment.
I’m mostly focusing on promotion for the upcoming third book in my cozy mystery series, and trying to figure out what I’m going to write next.
Any three books by Jennifer Crusie.
Never give up. It can be a tough journey, and a discouraging industry, but you never know when you are right around the corner from the “yes” you’ve been waiting for.
My website is www.deborahblakeauthor.com and I’m also on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, usually posting pictures of cats.
ROCCO’s Fast Five:
I actually sing along to most of the songs I like. Since I listen to music while I’m taking my walks, I suspect that makes me look quite odd. But my favorite to sing along to is a song by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) and the Steep Canyon Rangers, called “Atheists Don’t Got No Songs.”
Beer (What—I’m a writer.)
Really good chocolate. (What—I’m a writer. And yes, that’s my excuse for everything.)
I don’t trust anyone else to pick out the perfect avocado for me.
“Bye, bye, boys. Have fun storming the castle.” (Princess Bride)
Thanks for a wonderful interview, Deborah! Folks you can find her at:
Berkley will give away a copy of Claws for Suspicion to one lucky commenter!
Just leave your name and e-mail address in our comments section. ROCCO and Maxx will select one lucky winner at random! US entries only, please! Berkley Publishing is providing the giveaway copy.