Cozy Wednesday with Author Barbara Ross (Giveaway too!)

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!!

I am so excited to have Barbara Ross here today! 

Her new book Clammed Up is sure to be a hit with all over you!!

The Alpha and the Omega: Continuing Characters in Series

barbfordollycasLori, thanks so much for having me for Cozy Wednesday.

 It’s an interesting time for me as an author. On September 1, I handed in the manuscript for Boiled Over,  the second book in my Maine Clambake Mystery series. And on September 3, Clammed Up,  the first book in the series was released.

 As you can imagine, it’s been an interesting time. In fact, as I switched on September 2, from writing to promotion mode, my mother-in-law said, “It seems like all summer it’s been Boiled Over, and now it’s Clammed Up !

Boiled Over is my first time writing a second book in a series. So it got me wondering, how do people feel about continuing characters? Not the main characters, but the other people who populate the book?

 I admit to being a full-out series fan. Nothing makes me happier than finding a book I love and then discovering there are four or six or ten more to read in the series. Once I’m caught up, and have to wait a full year for the next one (as I just did with Louise Penny), it kills me.

17239894Part of the reason I love series is because of the way characters and settings can develop over time. I’m a huge fan of Ruth Rendell’s Wexford series. I love the way Kingsmarkham, the town where her Chief Inspector Reg Wexford works, evolves from being a small market town the first book, From Doon to Death (1964) to an ever growing suburban city in the latest books. And how along the way, Wexford has to deal with increasingly complex, modern issues of race, immigration, and environmental activism—not to mention the baffling personal lives of his grown daughters. (The latest book in the series, No Man’s Nightingale is out in the UK, but won’t be here until November. I am trying to restrain myself from ordering it from Amazon UK.)

I get invested in the secondary characters, too. I spent a long time reading every Rendell short story I could get my hands on, because I was convinced there was a story in which Wexford’s faithful no. 2, Detective Mike Burden’s first wife dies. It turns out, she dies off stage. But reading all those stories was great, because it brought back my childhood love of short fiction and got me writing my own. Now I’m a co-editor of an annual short crime fiction anthology for Level Best Books.

But I have to confess, there are some series I’ve given up because the author couldn’t seem to let go of a single secondary character. So every last person from the first book gets pulled into the second book and so on, until by the fourth book, I’m thinking, “Who are all these people and why does the author think I care about them?”’


 In Boiled Over, I tried to use the “bar story” principle. Pretend you’re meeting an old friend for a drink, the kind of friend you can not see for years and then pick the conversation right up where you left off. You say to her, “You wouldn’t believe what happened to me!” As you tell the tale, you introduce her to all the people she needs to know about for the story, plus a few other people who were really important in your life at the time and were giving advice, and so on. You don’t tell her what happened to every person you’ve met since you last saw her. The other people in your life are presumably going about their business, and may show up in another bar story some other time, but we don’t have to talk about them now.

Plus, some readers don’t get to read the series in order. (I love to read in order, but I’ll go out of order in a pinch.) So if you have someone who was a suspect in the first book wandering through the next one, doesn’t that give it away?

How do you feel about series characters? Less is more, or the more the merrier? Let me know, because I have to start Book 3 next week!


 Thank you Barbara for dropping by today! I think a great group of core characters visited by new characters each book is great but then the twist after a few books when one of those core characters gets in trouble always adds to the suspense too!  I am sure my readers will help you tackle this question too!

About This Author
Barbara Ross’ novel Clammed Up, first in a new series of Maine Clambake Mysteries, will be published by Kensington in September 2013. Barbara and her husband own the former Seafarer Inn at the head of the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. From her perch on the Seafarer’s wide front porch, Barbara’s had a chance to observe the quirks of life in a small resort town, along with the stunning harbor views. Barbara and Bill no longer run the inn as a Bed & Breakfast. Barbara is notoriously not a morning person. They considered a Bed-and-Get-Your-Own-Damn-Breakfast, but there didn’t seem to be much of a market.

Barbara is the 2013 co-chair of The New England Crime Bake. She is a co-editor/co-publisher at Level Best Books, which produces an award-winning anthology of crime and mystery stories by New England authors every November. Barbara also blogs with a wonderful group of Maine mystery authors at Maine Crime Writers.

Barbara’s first mystery novel, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, was published by Five Star/Gale/Cengage in August, 2010. In her former life, Barbara was a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of two successful start-ups in educational technology. When they aren’t in Boothbay, she and her husband live in Somerville, MA.

Clammed Up
(A Maine Clambake Mystery)

Brand New Series
Cozy Mystery
Kensington Publishing Group (September 3, 2013)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758286857
E-Book File Size: 551 KB




Summer has come to Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and tourists are lining up for a taste of authentic New England seafood, courtesy of the Snowden Family Clambake Company. But there’s something sinister on the boil this season. A killer has crashed a wedding party, adding mystery to the menu at the worst possible moment. . .

Julia Snowden returned to her hometown to rescue her family’s struggling clambake business–not to solve crimes. But that was before a catered wedding on picturesque Morrow Island turned into a reception for murder. When the best man’s corpse is found hanging from the grand staircase in the Snowden family mansion, Julia must put the chowder pot on the back burner and join the search for the killer. And with suspicion falling on her old crush, Chris Durand, the recipe for saving her business and salvaging her love life might be one and the same. .

Dollycas’s Thoughts
A delightful debut that has me hungry for more!!!

The story is set in a beautiful part of this country and every bit of it was clear in my mind’s eye. From the island to the ferry trip to the town of Busman’s Harbor. Sounds like a great place to vacation.

Julia’s homecoming being marred by murder is awful but this girl is up for the challenge. She uses skills she has learned while away to whittle down the suspects and it isn’t easy. She makes mistakes. She is scared and worried about losing her family business and is so real and credible. It is so easy to identify with her which makes her a great protagonist.

The supporting cast is strong as well. I personally wanted to take on Sonny. He had just given up and if Julia would not have come back the business would have been history, but his support of Julia was truly lacking. Family drama! I love it! This is a group of characters that will surprise you. Ross has filled this Clambake Mystery with plenty of red herrings!

It seems Julia and Livvie’s dad had put together a wonderful business. There will be some changes going forward but I know the family will come out on top and the clambakes will be even more popular. I am ready to buy my ticket today. Boiled Over (A Maine Clambake Mystery) will be served up May 6, 2014!

a perfect escape


Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

I am giving away my Advance Copy
and the author is giving away a published copy!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Leave a comment for Barbara for 5 Bonus Entries !

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End September 25, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

44 thoughts on “Cozy Wednesday with Author Barbara Ross (Giveaway too!)

  1. I feel that less is more. To me, you can have so many people you can’t remember who’s doing what. (I hope that made sense.) Book sounds fabulous. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the giveaway. Please enter my name in the giveaway. Thank you !!

  2. I like a small core group of characters who help and/or support the protagonist. Too many characters gets too confusing. I hate having to go back to try and figure out who some people are.

  3. If you are writing a series, there will obviously be a number of recurring characters unless the protagonist is a loner, i.e. Jack Reacher. I think these recurring characters are necessary. They become friends (or enemies) and the reader comes to understand them and know what to expect.

  4. I love a series with recurring characters. It helps me to become a part of the family so to speak! My interest stays involved in their lives and I feel a connection to the book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  5. I like the main core group of characters coming back with new ones popping in for a book or two and then leaving.

  6. I like watching the characters grow and sometimes grow apart and out of the storyline. Old friends of the main character that come back into her life at times are good, too.

  7. Can’t wait to read this one, would love to review it also. I’m a big fan of the food in this book so I know I will love it, what can be better than food and murder?

  8. I used to live for years in Boothbay Harbor, so I really do think I will love this book! Beautiful setting for a series. I do love reading a series, but don’t like cluttered casts of characters. As in real life, the secondary characters should be small and important to the storyline. Thanks for sharing this, Ms. Ross.

  9. I enjoy some of the recurring character books. Picking up each new book and seeing what old friends are up to this time out. I also enjoy stand alone books if the genre is one that I read. I guess that makes me a balanced reader.

  10. I love Maine, so stories there catch my attention.
    I very much like your “bar story” principle. It gives the necessary information in a rather natural way without it seeming like a data overload.

  11. Hi Barbara: As to series, I like to hear about the main characters and then in each of the following series I find it interesting to hear about one or two new characters, not necessarily anyone that is going to HAVE to be in the following books, but another person who can be considered the “guilty party” so to speak. I read only in order with series books, but some people don’t so I know what you mean about having to wrap up each book’s story line pretty much, but like on tv.they have a lot of teasers.

  12. Less id more works for me. I tend to get confused if I have to remember the back stories of too many characters.

  13. I love having a few characters that keep popping up in a series. I like to watch their relationships grow and change. It also helps me to feel like I “know” the characters better- like I’m revisiting old friends. This looks like a fun series. Definitely something a bit different, which in the oh-so-formulaic world of cozies is certainly a good thing!

  14. Congrats to Barbara on the new release! I love Maine as a setting for books, but have yet to travel there myself. I really like series for the express reason of getting to revisit familiar characters. Good secondary characters are so much fun and can grow so well during the series. That said, there can’t be too many of them, for it just gets cluttered and the no one’s storyline/background gets enough time. Looking forward to reading Clammed Up! Thanks!

  15. I’m really looking forward to reading Barbara’s Clammed Up. Should be fun. Thanks for the review and giveaway chance.

  16. To me if you have too many second characters in a series, I can become confused. I love to read series, but I always read them in order. Never skip around. Book sounds great and love the book cover. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in a giveaway.

  17. Of course, the main characters have to stay thru out all the books – and maybe even some of the important secondary people. Then there might be other secondary (or third level) people, not so important, that might show up occasionally in different books. But then there should be some people who are only 1 timers.
    I’m certainly looking forward to reading both Clammed Up and Boiled Over.

  18. Barbara I think that this book is one I would love to sit down and read on a good rainy day. I love stories that build on each other and think that this book about Julia and Busmans Harbor, Maine would be very interesting, I loved in Winter
    Harbor, Maine, many eons ago. and I love the ocean

  19. I like a few central characters but also like a lot of secondary characters. They add flavor and sometimes they steal the scene and I like to look for them in other books in the series.
    Such an appealing cover. Off to add to my TBR:)

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