Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so excited to have Debra H. Goldstein drop by for a visit!
Writers – Creatures of Habit or Not? by Debra H. Goldstein
Writers often claim to be creatures of habit. Their habits may be tied to the means of writing – on a computer, legal pad with special pens, or via dictation; the location where the writing takes place – at the beach, the mountains, in a dark room, or in a room with wide open windows; and, whether there is absolute silence or blaring music. Some writers, the planners, can’t produce a word until every nuance of a piece is outlined while others, known as pantsters, write strictly from the seat of their pants. I wish I could tell you that I am a creature of habit, but I’m not. I write like I cook. Differently, every time even if I am recreating the same dish.
One would think as a former litigator and judge, my writing habits would be unimaginative. That I would outline every word and idea, much like Jeffrey Deaver does. I outlined the beginning and ending of my first book, 2012 IPPY award-winning Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan in the 1970’s, but the middle flowed, like magic, through my fingers to the keys of a computer sitting on a desk in my home office. I attributed my writing to the character’s voices leading me through their story. The only thing necessary for the words to pour out of me was playing the soundtracks from 1776 and They’re Playing Our Song repetitively in the background.
The same songs and physical location didn’t work for my second book. To write Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery, I took my laptop and sat in an oversized chair in my living room. Century old furniture, which once belonged to my parents or grandparents, interspersed with modern cherry wood floors and an orange, gold, and blue carpet brought me a sense of peace that allowed me to bring new life to the characters from a short story published in 2010. I occasionally played folk songs and soft rock hits from the 60’s and 70’s, but for the most part, I wrote and rewrote in silence. It was the ambiance of the room that enabled me to find and contrast the voices of the Sunshine Village Retirement Home Mah Jongg players with the twenty-nine-year-old corporate attorney protagonist and her former lover, the detective assigned to her murdered mother’s case.
One Taste Too Many represents a hybrid of the habits that produced my first two books. Because the book is set in the present and the protagonist, Sarah Blair, is a twin, I drew on my experience as a mother of twins when I outlined the basic story premise. Unlike Poker, that I wrote and edited only on a laptop, One Taste Too Many was drafted and revised in two locations. For the first version, I sat in an easy chair in my bedroom with my laptop perched on my knees. When I finished the draft, I mailed it to myself and revised it upstairs in my office on my stand-alone computer. In both locations, I kept the score from Frozen playing constantly. Why Frozen for a book set in a small Southern town? I don’t know, but it worked. The music kept me typing at a nice even clip with a sunny disposition.
The other motivational trick I used for One Taste Too Many was keeping a picture of a friend’s Siamese cat where I could always see it. Growing up, we had dogs, but I knew bonding with a cat was different. That’s why I reached out to my friend and she was so helpful, I modeled RahRah after her cat, Suri. As you can see from the cover, RahRah and I successfully bonded.
For some, being a creature of habit is the only means to write. For me, a willingness to try different techniques and practices is what stimulates the muse and helps me avoid stale ruts. What about you? What does it take to prompt you to write effectively?
Thank you, Debra, for visiting today!
Now keep reading for my thought about One Taste Too Many.
One Taste Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
by Debra H. Goldstein
For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!
Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in the tired hometown she never left. With nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily—an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant . . .
Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!
Includes quick and easy recipes!
Sarah and Emily Blair are twins and as different as night and day. Emily is a fabulous chef with plans to make it to the top of her field. Sarah married young and divorced 10 years later. She is starting over and has taken a receptionist job at a local law office and lives in a studio apartment with her cat, RahRah.
The restaurant where Emily works has a booth at the Food Expo and the staff will be giving demonstrations and sharing tasty treats. Emily will be making her special rhubarb crisp.
But tragedy strikes when Sarah’s ex is found dead at the convention center before the event even begins. Covered in rhubarb, it is quickly determined he was poisoned, by Emily! Also, with his death, it seems Sarah’s cat RahRah no longer belongs to her. A chef that works with Emily has laid claim to the feline.
As someone that hates to cook, Sarah knows she needs to hang around the expo to try to catch the real killer, even if it means filling in for her talented sister. That is if the killer doesn’t get to her first. She also needs to find a way to keep her cat.
This series is off to a stellar start and I am head over heels with the wonderful cat, RahRah. The cat was rescued during Hurricane Katrina my Sarah’s ex-mother-in-law who loved Sarah, so of course, she took the cat when the woman passed away. Her ex left out some key details about his mother’s will. Now, with him dead the secrets are revealed. Let’s just say he was a first-class a**, and I was happy he was the first victim. Yes, first, because the killing didn’t stop with him.
Ms. Goldstein has created a pair of sisters, twins, that are truly each other’s half. They are smart and fun. Best friends that take care of each other. Sarah is an interesting protagonist. I hope she continues to team up with her sister. I believe we have barely scratched the surface on when the author can take these sisters.
The story has a little bit more of an edge than a typical cozy but doesn’t go too far. It is exciting and fresh with plenty of twists and corkscrew turns. The author drops in the clues with such precision. I was up in the air about the killer right up until the big reveal. Someone on my radar but not at the top of my list. The motives were unclear until all the last clues slid into place.
This was a very entertaining story. A great mystery with characters I want to visit again. I am excited to see where the author takes this series. This one was A Perfect Escape!
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
About the Author
Judge Debra H. Goldstein’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series debuts from Kensington Press with One Taste Too Many. She also is the author of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery and the 2012 IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Besides novels, Debra writes short stories. Her short story, The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017) is an Agatha Award Short Story Nominee. In addition to being the Sisters in Crime Guppy President, Debra serves on the national Sisters in Crime board and is Vice-President of the Southeast Region of Mystery Writers of America.
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Praise for One Taste Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
by Debra H. Goldstein
ONE TASTE TOO MANY is a “different,” slightly edgy, cozy from an author with extensive knowledge of legal procedure.
~Mallory Heart’s Cozies
This one was a fun ride. A few twists that will keep you turning the pages may be a little slower to keep up.
~My Reading Journeys
What a fun engaging start to a new series!
~Cozy Up With Kathy
I kept changing who I suspected but when the real murderer is revealed, I was shocked! I did not see that one coming at all.
The story was well-written and enjoyable to read.
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December 4 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW, GUEST POST
December 5 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – CHARACTER GUEST POST
December 6 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 6 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
December 7 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
December 7 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 8 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 8 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT
December 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 9 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
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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.”