Dec 142019

No Way to Die: A Ming Dynasty Mystery
by P.A. De Voe


I am pleased to welcome P.A. De Voe to Escape With Dollycas today! 

Hi P.A.,

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am an anthropologist and Asian specialist. I write contemporary cozy mysteries, as well as historical mysteries and crime stories immersed in the life and times of Imperial China. I am a Silver Falchion award winner and an Agatha and Silver Falchion award finalist. I am a member of Sisters in Crime National and Guppy Chapter, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Saturday Writers, the Historical Novel Society, and Mystery Writers of America/MWA Midwest.

I live in the Midwest with my husband and a feral cat that came in from the cold. Although I spend most of my time writing, I also enjoy spinning yarn, knitting, and making bears from vintage furs.

What are three things most people don’t know about you?

  1. That I spin my own wool, alpaca, and angora yarn on a beautiful wheel made just for me.
  2. That I make bears from vintage furs I find in antique shops. I only use vintage furs that are torn and not readily wearable anymore.
  3. That I love to bake, especially to make breads from heritage grains, whole wheat and rye flours.

What is the first book you remember reading?

Nancy Drew. My Dad bought a book for me when I was home sick. I also read the Cherry Aims books.

What are you reading now?

I’m rereading Tony Hillerman’s books.

What books have most inspired you?

It’s hard for me to say what books have most inspired me, however, I do remember the impact Ernest Hemingway’s style of writing had on me. He used a clean, simple style to tell wonderful stories.

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

I like reading mysteries. For a long time, however, I didn’t think I could actually write a mystery. Eventually, I decided to give it a try and find it a constant challenge, which I enjoy.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

I have an office in my home. I am surrounded by my books. It’s a happy place.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

My Chinese historical fiction comes from reading court cases from Imperial China. I also read broadly covering a wide range of topics, such as letter writing, popular fiction, medicine, law… All of this helps fill in information on how people lived at that time.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

For me, doing research for a story easily is the most fun. Therefore, it can sometimes be difficult for me to put my books aside and start writing an outline for the next novel or short story.

What do you think makes a good story?

First, a story has to be entertaining. Second, the readers have to be able to relate to the characters at some visceral level.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

None, really. Quite frankly, I’m not interesting enough to carry a whole story. Plus, I am too American to be anything like my Chinese characters. J

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

No Way to Die is an amateur sleuth/cozy mystery set in a different time and place from most cozies. Rather than a contemporary setting, No Way to Die’s story takes place in the 14th century. And, whereas most cozy mysteries take place in the US or England, No Way to Die’s story is set in Southern China.

What’s next on the horizon for you?

I am currently putting together a collection of my Judge Lu short stories. At this time, they are spread out over various anthologies and an e-magazine. I hope to have the collection out within the next several weeks.

I am also working on the third novel in the Ming Dynasty Mystery series. This novel will come out next year.


About No Way To Die  

No Way to Die: A Ming Dynasty Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Drum Tower Press, LLC (April 18, 2019)
Paperback: 210 pages
ISBN-10: 1942667116
ISBN-13: 978-1942667117
Digital ASIN: B07PWJ715D

Through mystery and intrigue, No Way To Die transports the reader into the complex and engaging world of early Ming China.

When a peddler finds a partially mutilated body of a stranger, the unlikely duo of a young scholar and a local women’s doctor once more join forces to discover who killed him and why. In probing the highly gendered world of early Ming China, unanticipated questions surface, complicating their investigation.

As their case rapidly transitions into the unexpected, they find all roads leading away from the victim, forcing them to consider alternate routes. Was the death the result of inexorable bad karma and beyond their purview, or merely the result of mortal foul play? Was the murdered man the intended victim? If not, who was and why? The investigation leads to a growing list of potential suspects: a lustful herbalist, an unscrupulous neighbor, a vengeful farmer, a jealous husband, a scorned wife, and a band of thieves. Who is innocent and who is the culprit? To solve the murder and bring peace to the victim’s spirit, the duo must untangle the truth and do it before the murderer strikes again.

Praise for No Way to Die: A Ming Dynasty Mystery
by P.A. De Voe

If you love Historical Cozy mysteries and the Judge Dee stories then this is the series for you!
~A Wytch’s Book Review Blog

I loved the mystery and was able to follow the clues, though there are certainly quite a few red herrings thrown in to throw us off! The historical accuracy in No Way to Die enthralled me . . .
~Christy’s Cozy Corners

More About P.A. De Voe


P.A. De Voe is an anthropologist with a PhD in Asian studies and a specialty in China. She has authored several stories featuring the early Ming Dynasty: The Mei-hua Trilogy: Hidden, Warned, and Trapped; the A Ming Dynasty Mystery series with Deadly Relations and No Way to Die; Lotus Shoes, a Mei-hua short story; and a collection of short stories: Judge Lu’s Case Files, stories of Crime & Mystery in Imperial China. Warned won a Silver Falchion Award for Best International Mystery; Trapped was a finalist for an Agatha Award and for a Silver Falchion Award. Her short story, The Immortality Mushroom, (a Judge Lu story) was in the Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks edited by Art Taylor.

Author Links – Website  – FacebookTwitterGoodReads

Purchase Link – Amazon

Find more by this author here.
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December 13 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 14 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, GUEST POST
December 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
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Nov 162019

Fate: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle)
by Kirsten Weiss

I am thrilled to welcome Kirsten Weiss to Escape With Dollycas today! 

Hi Kirsten.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I write mystery novels – both straight cozy and paranormal – and I love writing both! I grew up reading mysteries and always wanted to write them, so I’m thrilled I can do it for a living now.

What are three things most people don’t know about you? I spent most of my adult life working overseas in a field called microcredit – making very tiny loans, usually around $100, to women with small businesses in developing countries to help them build their businesses. (Later, my focus turned to micro-savings, but that’s another story). I started reading when I was three. And I think my house may be haunted. There are lots of mysterious footsteps upstairs when I’m alone in the house (if anyone has a logical, construction reason for that, please let me know).

What is the first book you remember reading? Go Dog Go. I’m sure there were others, but that one stands out in my memory. I loved the dogs with hats and dogs in trees!

What are you reading now? A Dean Koontz novel about Frankenstein. He’s an expert when it comes to weaving the supernatural with suspense and the spiritual as well.

What books have most inspired you? Sherlock Holmes for the mystery. Jeeves and Wooster for the comedy. Nora Roberts for the romance. (Those aren’t books per se, but how do you choose just one from that selection?).

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries? Like so many girls, I grew up on Nancy Drew. At first, I wanted to be a girl detective. But since no mysteries were happening for me to solve, I realized writing detective stories was probably a better play.

Do you have a special place you like to write? I have a home office, with my father’s rolltop desk, where I often sit and write. But sometimes I like to sit at my dining table and write with a view of the Rocky Mountains. The latter, however, can get distracting.

Where do the ideas for your books come from? Places I visit, stories I hear. I was just on a month-long road trip and got an idea for a fantastic quirky town for a future cozy mystery. Then I had dinner with a cousin, and she told me about a very irritating neighbor who I thought would make a perfect fictional murder victim, since he’s outraging everyone in the neighborhood and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop him. So… from life. Though of course, I change the details so people don’t see themselves.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging? It’s always a challenge. One’s always learning and never good enough. But I enjoy the challenge, and I enjoy pushing myself.

What do you think makes a good story? Great characters are, I think, the foundation of a good story because they’ll always have strong desires that lead to conflict, that leads to story. But as a mystery writer, I often come at the story from the plot first. I need to figure out whodunnit, why and how, and how to seed in the clues and red herrings.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you? Probably Rocky Bridges in The Mannequin Offensive. Like me, she worked in conflict zones and developing countries, and it left a mark. Her mark is a Viking spirit though who won’t go away…

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre? In my paranormal mysteries, I try to keep things as “real” as possible. And that means using existing magical systems – whether its shamanism or earth magic – as accurately as possible, as they’re practiced today or as they were practiced in the past. For example, I write about magic based on HP Lovecraft in Fate, and that’s really a thing. These aren’t instruction manuals, and the results in my books are more spectacular than in real life, but I try to make them as close to the real thing as I can.

Another thing, I think, that makes my books a little different are my complicated heroines. Even the chipper ones have issues they’re dealing with because I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t! In Fate, Jayce, for example, is struggling to overcome her party girl reputation – she’s grown a lot over the course of the six Doyle Witch novels. She’s also suffered loss – magic has taken a toll on her loved ones, and she needs to figure out how to do what needs to be done, keep everyone safe, and let the people who love her and who can help, help.

What’s next on the horizon for you? Right now I’m working on another Tea and Tarot cozy mystery (because I love Tarot, tea, and cozies!), featuring Abigail Beanblossom and Hyperion Night. This series is just fun to write because the characters themselves are so funny.  And they all care about each other, which makes their interactions even more endearing to me. Ultimately, I want my readers to enjoy a good puzzle, but also feel like the world and the people in it, for all their flaws and foibles, can be a wonderful place.

Thank you, Kirsten, for dropping by.

Keep reading to find out about Kirsten’s new book!

About Fate

Fate: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
misterio press (November 15, 2019)
Number of Pages – 250
ASIN: B07XF27R72

Something wicked this way comes…

Witch Jayce Bonheim has spent the last four months waiting for a horde of dark magicians to come to town.

Now, they’ve arrived.

And they’re bigger and badder than this ex-party girl could have imagined, wreaking havoc wherever they go.

When a murder rocks her small town, Jayce must stop the chaos. Battling her way through dark spells and past regrets, this Doyle witch struggles to divine her true friends…

…and her shadowy enemies.

But can she stop a murderer and prevent the opening of a portal that will transform their world forever?

Start reading Fate, book 6 in The Witches of Doyle cozy mystery novels.

This novel is a full-length, witch cozy mystery featuring true-to-life spells in the back of the book, a trio of witchy sisters, and a dash of romance. Though Fate can be read as a standalone, it’s best read in series order. It’s rated PG-13 due to mild language and some romance.

Praise for Fate: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle)
by Kirsten Weiss

What a fantastic read this was!! . . . A must read for fans of magical cozy mysteries. I totally loved it so I give it 5/5 stars.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

I have to admit I was so caught up in the story and distracted by a fabulous red herring suspect that I missed the bad guy and I just love when that happens. Though this book stands on its own quite well, I am looking forward to catching up on the whole series.
~I Read What You Write

MoreAbout Kirsten Weiss


Kirsten Weiss has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. The latter gives her heartburn, but she drinks it anyway.

Now based in Colorado Springs, CO, she writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.

If you like funny cozy mysteries, check out her Pie Town, Tea and Tarot, Paranormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of Doyle, Riga Hayworth, and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.

Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at

Author Links

Twitter: @KirstenWeiss


Instagram: @KirstenWeissAuthor


Book Series: Sensibility Grey Steampunk Suspense, Tea and Tarot cozy mysteries, the Pie Town cozy mysteries, the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum cozy mysteries, the Doyle Witch and Doyle Cozy mystery novels, the Riga Hayworth paranormal mysteries.

Purchase Links – AmazonB&N 

Also by Kirsten Weiss

Find more books by Kirsten here.

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November 8 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
November 9 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
November 10 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW
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November 12 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
November 13 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY
November 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
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November 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
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Nov 112019

Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
by Loretta Marion

I loved watching Cassie try to figure out the messages from her deceased grandparents as much as any other element of the story . . . This was a suspenseful, well-written mystery and I hope Cassie, her family, and friends will be back for many more.
~The Book’s the Thing

With a total of two crimes and three family secrets, this book will appeal to both women’s fiction and mystery readers . . . I enjoyed it a great deal for the excellent characterizations of the main protagonists.
~Diane Reviews Books

About Storm of Secrets 

Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
Paranormal Mystery
2nd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 12, 2019)
Hardcover – 327 Pages
ISBN-10: 1643851756
ISBN-13: 978-1643851754
Digital ASIN: B07NTY8L1N

A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a suspicious death, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.

A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.

While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of a killer.

“Modern and historic mysteries collide in Marion’s bittersweet storytelling.” Kirkus Reviews

“[A] gripping sequel…Marion seamlessly weaves the multiple story threads together. Fans of tales of regional intrigue will be satisfied.” —Publishers Weekly

Author Interview

Loretta MarionHi Loretta,

Thank you for visiting today! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

After growing up and attending college in the Midwest, I spent a decade in Florida before settling in New England. I was fortunate to have a diverse career that spanned several industries and offered many unexpected opportunities. I am even more fortunate to have a troupe of exceptional friends spread across the country. It was over a decade ago, through the unlikely world of Hospice, that I uncovered a hidden desire to write fiction. I find writing to be a most enchanting experience and it has enriched my life beyond what I could have imagined. My husband is retired, making our travel aspirations easier to achieve, and we now split our time between Rhode Island and Florida. We have always been devoted to our canine children, though we find ourselves for the first time without a loving pooch in our world; a void we hope to soon fill.

What are three things most people dont know about you?

  1. I once wrote a newspaper advice column.
  2. I have a degree in food science and dietetics.
  3. I was once a spelling bee champ and now excel at Scrabble (at the extreme frustration of my husband).

An extra – my husband’s nickname for me is Lady Laptop

What is the first book you remember reading?

Dr. Suess’s The Cat in the Hat

What are you reading now?

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

The Cloister by James Carroll (my book club’s current selection)

What books have most inspired you?

Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

I didn’t decide to be a mystery writer. Mysteries decided on me. I began this journey by writing women’s fiction, but elements of mystery would continue to find their way into all my stories. Since I’ve always been a mystery reader, perhaps it made sense that I would also enjoy writing them.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

I have a few places where I enjoy writing. At home, I split my writing time between our cozy sunroom, which my husband refers to as my theater of creativity, and a stand-up desk in a corner of my master bedroom. Both spaces offer a view out to a preserve and the bay beyond.

Some of my most fertile writing has taken place at a cottage on Cape Cod Bay. It is my favorite writing retreat and was the inspiration for creating the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series which takes place on the Cape.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

The short answer is everywhere! Everything and everyone are fair game to the writer. I keep several notebooks scattered about where I can jot down ideas that come to me as I am observing the world. I also keep a notepad on my nightstand, as often ideas come to me before drifting off to sleep, especially dialogue as I’m thinking through scenes I’m working on. Sometimes I’m even awakened with a good scheme that I don’t want to forget.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

The promotional aspects of being a published author are the most difficult for me. I want my books – not me – to be receiving the attention. But it’s a necessity for authors to put themselves out before the public to bring that attention to their work. Another challenge would be deadlines. I’m often asked how long it takes to write a novel, and my answer is consistent: Without a deadline, six years with a deadline, six months!

What do you think makes a good story?

Flawed but memorable characters, especially those guarding secrets, while facing the loss of something that holds great personal value to them; a precious item, a treasured person or place. Conflict of some degree must be the center of any good story. An atmospheric setting is also an essential element.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

None of them. Creating and slipping into the skin of characters that are so unlike me is one of the most fun aspects of writing. And I truly enjoy spending time with my characters, even the wicked ones! It’s also an opportunity to live vicariously through situations that are very unlikely scenarios in my own life.

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Interweaving a present-day mystery with one of an historic nature is probably the most distinguishing aspect of my books. It’s a technique that I enjoy employing as I think it adds a richness to the story.

Whats next on the horizon for you?

I’m working on an intriguing idea for a third Haunted Bluffs Mystery. I’ve also written two new mysteries – one co-authored by my husband – both in the editing stages. I’m contemplating bringing back to life the very first manuscript I wrote. My agent and I both love the book but never found the right home for it. It needs a good polish and I’m hoping to find the time to do that between other projects.

More About Loretta Marion

A true bibliophile, Loretta Marion‘s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.

When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.

Author Links –  Website  Facebook   Goodreads   Pinterest

Purchase Links

Amazon     Barnes and Noble   Penguin Random House    Indiebound   Kobo

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS -Please visit all the stops/
November 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT – unable to post 
November 8 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
November 9 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
November 9 – StoreyBook Reviews– GUEST POST
November 10 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 11 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
November 11 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 12 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST
November 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
November 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST
November 15 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW, EXCERPT
November 16 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 17 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
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November 19 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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Oct 262019

Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide
(An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
by Lois Winston

About Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide

Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
8th in Series
Independently Published
Print Length: 212 pages
Digital ASIN: B07VG2QZXV

Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he’s crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend (and possible spy) Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.

In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira’s attacker dead in Santa’s sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man’s murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she’ll keep her nose out of police business. What’s a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?

Christmas craft projects included.

Author Interview

I am excited to have Lois visit today! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have a degree in graphic design and illustration from back in the pre-computer dinosaur era and worked for decades as a designer and editor in the consumer crafts industry. Now I’m a bestselling and award-winning author of 17 adult novels, 1 middle-grade novel, 5 novellas, one nonfiction book, and several short stories. I began my writing career penning romances and romantic suspense before switching over to cozy mysteries. I now write two cozy series—The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, featuring reluctant amateur sleuth and crafts editor Anastasia Pollack, and The Empty Nest Mysteries, which is my homage to the classic Thin Man movies but with a modern twist.

What are three things most people dont know about you?

  1. I can play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in two degrees. Not that I’ve ever met Kevin Bacon, but his father and I attended the same church when I lived in Philadelphia.
  2. I wanted to be an astronaut, but NASA isn’t interested in vertically challenged astronauts who suffer from motion sickness.
  3. I’m one of a select few people in the world (or so it seems) who hate peanut butter. I can’t even stomach the smell of the stuff. I used to hold my breath when I made PB&J sandwiches for my kids.

What is the first book you remember reading?

Fun with Dick and Jane. Does that show my age?

What are you reading now?

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

What books have most inspired you?

This is one of those questions I find really hard to answer because there are so many ways to be inspired by books. I love books that make me laugh, and I love books that pull on my heartstrings. There are some books that have stayed with me even though I read them years ago because the plots and characters were so fabulous and the writing so gripping. Have they inspired my own writing? I’m sure everything I’ve ever read has inspired me in one way or another. It’s very hard for a writer not to be inspired by everything she reads, sees, and experiences.

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

Long story short—one day an editor told my agent she was looking for a cozy series featuring crafts. Knowing my background in the crafts industry, my agent suggested I try writing one. It turned out to be love at first tap of the computer keys. I never went back to writing romance.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

I have a dedicated office for my writing. There’s a large, L-shaped desk, lots of bookcases, and two large windows.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

I’m a news junkie. Just about all of my plots have been inspired by what I’ve read in the newspaper or seen on the local or national news. For instance, the plot of Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide was inspired by a murder that took place last year about twenty miles from where I live.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Some writers plot out every scene of every chapter before they ever begin writing the first sentence. If I did that, I’d find writing the actual book too much like drudge work because I’d already know everything that was going to happen. The most I’ll ever do in the way of plotting is write a couple of paragraphs of a general idea for the story. So sometimes I wind up writing myself into a corner, and it takes a few days of mulling things over in my head and brainstorming with my critique partner before I can figure out a way to move forward. It’s frustrating when it happens, but it always works out in the end.

What do you think makes a good story?

A book has to hook me from the very beginning with interesting characters and well-written prose. If it doesn’t, I toss it aside and move on to the next book. Life is too short to spend any time with mediocre writing and boring characters.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

I think I subconsciously instilled much of my personality into Anastasia. We’ve also had similar careers and communist mothers-in-law.

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

When I was asked to write a crafting cozy, I did a lot of research into the sub-genre and found they all centered round a crafter who worked in one specific craft or who owned a specific type of craft shop. I wanted to do something different rather than compete with what was already out there. Writing about a protagonist who works as the crafts editor of a women’s magazine enables me to feature different crafts in each book.

In addition, most cozies take place in small towns. Mine takes place in a suburb of New York City.

Whats next on the horizon for you?

I’m already thinking about the next book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series and am mulling over a few different plot ideas.

Thank you Lois for dropping by today!


More About Lois Winston


USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick-lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Author Links – Website     Blog     Pinterest     Twitter     Goodreads     Newsletter sign-up

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Oct 172019

Serf and Turf: A Silicon Valley Mystery
by Marc Jedel

About Serf and Turf

Serf and Turf: A Silicon Valley Mystery
BGM Press (October 9, 2019)
Paperback: 213 pages
ISBN-10: 1732716420
ISBN-13: 978-1732716421
Digital ASIN: B07YF2CN1B

He’s afraid of losing his girlfriend. But maybe he should be more concerned about the dead body she’s crying over?

Marty Golden can barely string a voicemail message together, let alone keep up with his new love. This quirky uncle’s hectic Silicon Valley lifestyle needs a reboot when a youth league soccer game becomes a murder scene. And nothing can stop him from donning his amateur sleuth uniform when he discovers his sweetheart used to have quite a thing for the dead guy …

With a not-so-helpful paw from Buddy the Labrador,  he does his best to sniff out a long list of possible suspects. But between gossipy soccer moms and the costume-clad members of a Renaissance Faire, Marty’s theories fall harder than a jousted knight.

Can Marty solve the case before the trail and his new flame grow cold?

Serf and Turf is the third book in the zany, Silicon Valley cozy mystery series. If you like laugh-out-loud comedy, dorky sleuths, and a festival of old-world fun, then you’ll love Marc Jedel’s humorous murder mystery.

Buy Serf and Turf to sign in to a great mystery today!

Character Interview 

Character Interview with Giovanni Quince, dead guy discovered at the beginning of Serf and Turf.

Interviewer: If you’re dead, then you’re a ghost, right?

Giovanni: No, the author doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Interviewer: So, what are you?

Giovanni: I’m not really sure what I am right now, but since the characters in Serf and Turf spend so much time trying to figure out how I died, I suppose someone thought it would be interesting for me to do this interview.

Interviewer: Are you in Surf and Turf?

Giovanni: Only in spirit. Heh, heh. Get it? “In spirit”—that’s a ghost joke. Seriously, I don’t make any appearances in the book—astral or otherwise. You’d think the author would have been more clever with this book coming out in October and ghosts and witches so popular these days. But no, he’s not very smart.

Interviewer: I see what you think of the author, what about Marty, the guy who spends most of the book figuring out how you died?

Giovanni: Eh, he’s ok.

Interviewer: Only ok? Why would you say that?

Giovanni: I just think Meghan can do better. After she dated me, I don’t understand how she can find him attractive after leaving me?

Interviewer: Did you hear Marty has his own secret codeword with the police?

Giovanni: Sure, but did you hear what it was?

Interviewer: Let’s not get into that and just focus on the book. Do you know who killed you?

Giovanni: Are you nuts? I can’t answer that. It might ruin the whole book for people. You know that’s really a ridiculous question to ask someone in a mystery book. I mean, do you go around telling people how a movie ends?

Interviewer: Ok, ok. No need to get so worked up. I’m starting to understand the rumor I heard about people disliking you. Was that true?

Giovanni: Well, not the ladies …

Interviewer: Yeah, so I guess the answer is Yes.

Interviewer: It seems like you had lots of different adventures in your life. Were you ever a criminal?

Giovanni: I shouldn’t go into too much detail, but there was a time I was hitchhiking through Columbia on my way to the Amazon basin when …

Interviewer [interrupting]: On second thought, that’s enough of that. Why don’t I ask, “What’s your favorite part of the book?”

Giovanni: It was hard to enjoy it too much since it was all about my death. But, I did laugh at the scenes with Buddy the Labrador and also Marty’s niece, Megan. But, talk about characters who can be hard to like, what’s up with that school secretary, Mrs. Quarles?

Interviewer: I find her funny. Well, thanks Giovanni for the time today. Of course, I suppose you have nothing but time now …

Giovanni: Sure, make fun of the dead guy.

My books, Serf and Turf, Chutes and Ladder and Uncle and Ants, are humorous murder mysteries. Silicon Valley is not your typical cozy mystery locale and Marty Golden doesn’t fit the normal profile of a mystery protagonist. Despite finding himself thrust into challenging situations, Marty isn’t exactly hero material. He combines wit, irreverent humor and sarcasm mixed in with nerdy insecurities, absent-mindedness, and fumbling but effective amateur sleuthing skills. With an active inner voice and not a lot of advanced planning, he throws himself into solving problems. Sometimes, he even succeeds.


About Marc Jedel 

For most of my life, I’ve been inventing stories. Some, especially when I was young, involved my sister as the villain. As my sister’s brother for her entire life, I’m highly qualified to tell the tale of this evolving, quirky sibling relationship.

My writing skills were honed in years of marketing leadership positions in Silicon Valley. While my high tech marketing roles involved crafting plenty of fiction, we called these marketing collateral, emails and ads.

The publication of my first novel, Uncle and Ants, gave me permission to claim “author” as my job. And achieving Amazon Best Seller status gave me even better adjectives to use in front of “author.” This has led to way more interesting discussions than answering “marketing.”

My family would tell you that Marty’s character isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination for me, but I’m comfortable with that situation.

Like Marty, I live in Silicon Valley and can’t believe that otherwise normal people would willingly jump out of an airplane and call it fun. Unlike Marty, I have a wonderful wife and a neurotic but sweet, small dog, who is often the first to weigh in on the humor in my writing.

Author Links –   Website  FaceBook   LinkedIn   GoodReads   BookBub 

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Oct 052019

When It’s Time for Leaving
by Ang Pompano

I am so excited to welcome Ang Pompano to
Escape With Dollycas today! 

Hi Ang, 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

People call me Ang. It’s short for Angelo. I live in Connecticut with my wife, Annette and our rescue dog, Dex. We’ve been married 46 years and we are “retired.” I was a teacher and she was an RN, and although we no longer work at those jobs we are never idle. Annette is an artist and of course, I write. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of us working from home and in close proximity. For one, we always don’t agree on the Pandora station. On the other hand, the office Christmas Party is small but fun. I’ve been writing forever. I was the original Mr. Mom and when she Annette worked evenings, I wrote after I put the kids to bed. I belong to Mystery Writers of America and I’m a long-time board member the of Sisters in Crime New England. I’ve been on the New England Crime Bake planning committee for 14, because I love hanging out with other writers.

What are three things most people don’t know about you?

1. My first published short story was in 1990, but When It’s Time for Leaving is my debut novel.

2. I’m a privacy expert by accident. I wrote a paper called “Privacy in the Age of Video Surveillance: This Is Not Your Father’s Candid Camera” when I was a Yale-New Haven Teachers Fellow. Somehow the piece was picked up by the media and I’ve been quoted in papers and court trials around the world.

3. I know how to play the guitar, but I never play in public. Well, except for at the office Christmas party that is.

What is the first book you remember reading?

I remember having tons of Little Golden Books. One of the first that I read was a crime novel called Donald Duck’s Toy Train. Chip and Dale stole Donald’s train.  I still have the battered old book. Here’s a photo.

After I outgrew the Golden Books I moved on to Victor Appleton’s Tom Swift Jr. books. I loved those books because they mixed adventure, mystery and science. I read some of the Hardy Boys, I remember The Tower Treasure, but for me, they didn’t compare to Tom Swift, Jr.

So, as you can see my roots in mystery go way back.

What are you reading now?

I just finished Bruce Coffin’s Beyond the Truth. Now I’m going to read Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The Murder List.  I enjoy reading books by people I know. I’ll read anything written by Lucy Burdette, Barbara Ross, or David Handler. The list can go on and on.

What books have most inspired you?

Anything by Agatha Christie inspires me. In fact, I once wrote an academic piece on Teaching Detective Fiction Through A Cross Curriculum Unit. I used her story, “Miss Marple Tells a Story” to develop the unit. Every once in a while, I re-read The Old Man and Sea, and The Great Gatsby. I like Hemingway’s clear style as well as the more lyrical style of Fitzgerald.

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

As I said, I loved mystery even as a kid and I wrote when I was young. Later I was on the staff of my high school newspaper and literary magazine. In those days I liked to write humor that I patterned after my idol, Mark Twain. My early stories as an adult ran the gamut from humor to literary fiction. Then as a Yale-New Haven Teacher Fellow I had the chance to study Gender, Race, and Milieu in Detective Fiction with Paul Fry, the William Lampson Professor of English at Yale.  I was so intrigued that my focus has been on mystery ever since.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

I write at my desk in our library. My wife paints on a sunporch about 10 feet away so we are always bouncing ideas off each other with her giving me advice on my writing and me giving her suggestions on perspective. Our rescue dog, Dexter, is usually asleep by one or the other of us. When I look up from the keyboard I see one of my favorites of her paintings. It’s a detail of a fountain in Rome. Here it is.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Sometimes Annette will give me a suggestion for a book or story. But usually they come about from an experience that I expand upon. For example, in When It’s Time for Leaving, the protagonist, Al, has a father who has Alzheimer’s. My father also suffered from the disease. But my father was a typical all-American Dad. To write a story about the two of us would probably win me a Nobel Prize for curing insomnia. So, I gave Al and his father, Big Al, a bad relationship.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

I find everything about writing challenging. The biggest challenge is to get myself into my chair and put my fingers on the keyboard. Once I get over that hurtle I spend a lot of time laboring over which words to use, sentence structure, and all of the “rules” of writing mystery. Am I telling too much? Am I playing fair with the reader by giving enough clues? Then when I think it’s halfway decent I send it to my wonderful writing group of Roberta Isleib a.k.a. Lucy Burdette, and Chris Falcone. We’ve worked together for 20 years and I can’t begin to tell you how important they are to the writing process. Annette has a saying, “A painting is never finished. It’s abandoned.” I think that applies to writing as well. My problem is that I never know when to “abandon” a manuscript. I know there are authors who write good books in a month. If I finish a manuscript in a year that’s quick.

What do you think makes a good story?

What makes a good story is so subjective that there is really no one correct answer. Everyone’s taste is different. But I think that there are a few universal truths that apply. The author has to know the subject matter. If you are going to write about a character who runs a restaurant, you’d better have worked in a restaurant or at least have done a lot of research on the business. Your protagonist has to be likable in some way. Even if he’s evil you have to give him some qualities that will make the reader want to see him succeed. Your protagonist and your antagonist have to be intellectual equals. Nobody wants to see a fight where one opponent is smarter than the other. That’s bullying. The stakes have to be high. A story about a detective who is trying to foil a villain who is trying to steal a watch would only be marginally interesting. A story about foiling a villain who is trying to blow up Big Ben is much more interesting.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

I’d like to think that most of my protagonist are like me. I’m far from perfect but I try to be a decent human being even if it isn’t always easy. Al DeSantis in When It’s Time for Leaving is like that. He struggles with his demons but he’s not out to do anyone harm. I have another character, Quincy Lazzaro, who is in another book and several short stories. He has a different personality from Al but his values are the same. I also have a female detective, Nike DeNardo who shares those values.

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

When It’s Time for Leaving is a traditional mystery with a male protagonist. Even my agent, who is one of the best at what she does, said to me, “I love the book, but what am I going to do with these cozies you write that have a male protagonist?” She wasn’t being mean or critical, she was being practical. Other agents had said the same thing. Most of the bigger publishers have this notion that women readers (most of the people who read traditional mystery are female) will not read a male protagonist. The publishers (all except mine, the amazing duo of Cynthia Brackett-Vincent and Ed Vincent of Encircle Publications) do not give female readers enough credit for being open-minded enough to read a male protagonist.

What’s next on the horizon for you?

I’m working on a sequel to When It’s Time for Leaving called I Hope You’ll Understand. I also have to two other finished manuscripts in the pipeline. One is called Killer View and the other is called Diet of Death. I should be able to tell you more about them soon.

Thank you, Ang, for visiting today! 

Keep reading to find out about Ang’s debut novel!


About The Book

When It’s Time for Leaving
Traditional Mystery
1st in Series
Encircle Publications, LLC (October 1, 2019)
Paperback: 274 pages
ISBN-10: 1948338920
ISBN-13: 978-1948338929
Digital ASIN: B07TYQ8PDL

When his girlfriend dumps him and a dealer nearly rams him off a bridge, Al DeSantis quits the New Haven Police Department. Just as he plans to head for LA, he finds out the father who left when he was a kid has deeded him the Blue PalmettoDetective Agency in Georgia.

Al goes down to Savannah intending to sell fast and go west, but before he can, he discovers a strong, attractive detective named Maxine, a dead body on the dock—and his father, alive, suffering from dementia, and determined to help his “new partner Al” solve the crime. Al has a lot of adjusting to do when his traditional ideas are challenged as he has to act as his father’s caretaker, and finds that Maxine is his superior in the agency that he “owns.” When his father goes missing, Al and Max must team up to save his father–and capture the murderer.

Praise for When It’s Time for Leaving
by Ang Pompano

. . . a compelling detective mystery, with a bit of romance and lots of action and suspense. It is very well written, the plot is well intertwined and the pace is flowing.

This was a good mystery, with rough around edges characters . . . I really enjoyed this mystery . . .
~eBook Addicts

Ang Pompano’s debut novel, WHEN IT’S TME FOR LEAVING, is a corker. Thoroughly likeable former cop, Al DeSantis, wants to get out of the crime business but inherits one that, fortunately for readers, won’t let him go. — Hallie Ephron, New York Times bestselling author CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

In When It’s Time for Leaving, debut mystery author Ang Pompano has created the most unusual and appealing duo of detectives since Holmes and Watson. —Lucy Burdette, national bestselling author of A DEADLY FEAST

Author Ang Pompano serves up the PI for the double 20s. Al DeSantis is a classic, damaged gumshoe but with a youthful energy that pulls you through the pages. —Barbara Ross, author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and winner 2019 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction

Crime fiction has boasted some famous fathers and sons, from Inspector Richard Queen and his son Ellery to Jim Rockford and his dad Rocky. Add to that list the unforgettable duo of Al DeSantis and Big Al—building on that tradition but with some provocative twists. Ang Pompano’s first novel proves tough-minded and warm-hearted in equal measure. A fine, multi-layered debut.—Art Taylor 2019 Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, Macavity, and Derringer Award winner

When it’s Time for Leaving is a crime thriller that delivers an atmospheric tale packed with action, suspense and some surprising twists. Pompano is a skilled storyteller who offers readers a complex mystery of chases, confrontation and introspection. The tale he weaves is, indeed a well-crafted murder mystery, set in a turbulent sea of emotions and populated with multifaceted characters. ­­­ —James Terry reviewer The Paladin Project

I like mystery/thrillers.  This one is heavy on the mystery and very little thriller aspect.  It is an enjoyable sometimes snarky read that made me smile.  The main characters were so well written I felt like I knew them. The mystery itself was wrapped in mystery as we got to know the individuals and the hidden nuances of small towns.  It was almost like watching (albeit reading) a 50/60 movie.  I personally wanted the ending to share with everyone who was guilty.  Have to leave it there, no spoilers.  Thank you for the arc!  All thoughts and opinions are my own and were unsolicited. —Cheryl M, Net Galley Reviewer

A really good and surprising mystery. The characters are great and feel like friends. I loved the snarky humor. I will definitely read more by this author. —Leah H, Net Galley Reviewer 

More About Ang Pompano

Ang Pompano has been writing mysteries for more than twenty years. His mystery novel, WHEN IT’S TIME FOR LEAVING will be published on October 1, 2019, by Encircle Publications. His short stories have been published in many award-winning anthologies, including the 2019 Malice Domestic Anthology, PARNELL HALL PRESENTS MALICE DOMESTIC: MURDER MOST EDIBLE. His newest story, “Stringer” will appear in SEASCAPE: THE BEST NEW ENGLAND CRIME STORIES 2019. In addition, he has written many academic pieces including one on teaching detective fiction. A member of Mystery Writers of America, he is a past recipient of the Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America Scholarship for a novel in progress. He has been on the New England Crime Bake Planning Committee for fourteen years and is a long-time board member of Sisters in Crime New England. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Annette, an artist, and his two rescue dogs, Quincy and Dexter.

Author Links:   WebsiteFacebookTwitter –  Instagram 

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Sep 142019

A Tangle in the Vines
(A Calla Lily Mystery)
by Anna Celeste Burke


I am excited to welcome Anna Celeste Burke to Escape with Dollycas today!

Hi Anna Celeste, 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a retired professor who lives in the California desert near Palm Springs. That’s where you’ll find me most days, Snooping into life’s mysteries with fun, fiction, & food—California style!

I took the long way around to writing fiction. I worked in the field of behavioral health treatment and research for thirty years. I wrote and published many nerdy academic titles during that period of my life. When they say publish or perish in university settings, they mean it!

The subject matter about how to improve outcomes for people with alcohol, drug, and mental health problems was interesting and meaningful to me. The structure and style used for writing and reporting what I’d learned from the research was excruciatingly stilted and confining.

In the oh so serious world of social and behavioral science, making stuff up is strictly taboo. Writing fiction began as a fun, creative, and liberating activity. When I retired, I was finally free to make stuff up all the time!

When I’m not writing, I enjoy hiking, reading, exploring old haunts and new locales in California, and hanging out with my husband and Siamese cat, Coco.

What are three things most people dont know about you?

*Before I became a professor, I worked as a chef at Walt Disney World after completing their WDW University Chef Training. I have a real “Micky Mouse” diploma!

*I’m also trained as a psychotherapist and worked as a clinician for about five years. I continued to have a role in supervising students in practice settings for the entire time I was a professor. It was a great way to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world.

*I’m a strong believer in the value of second chances.

What is the first book you remember reading?

I was four years old and read The Little Golden Books over and over. The Little Red Hen was a favorite. I loved fairytales, too.

What are you reading now?

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. I also have a recently released David Baldacci book that I hope to find the time to read soon. There are still a couple of Sara Paretsky’s more recent books that I haven’t read—so many books, so little time!

What books have most inspired you?

There are so many! I loved the classics written by women like Louisa May Alcott, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Jane Austen. I didn’t know about their struggles, but they made it seem natural for women to write and to be taken seriously. I read scads of biographies that inspired me, too, including those about women pioneers in science like Marie Curie.

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

Like so many other girls, I got hooked on mysteries by reading Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and The Hardy Boys books. As I got older, I moved on to Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories featuring his Sherlock Holmes character. Unique, idiosyncratic, even flawed characters were especially interesting to me. I was captivated by Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Mrs. Pollifax, Jim Qwilleran, VI Warshawski, and so many other well-known sleuths.

When I decided to write fiction, mysteries seemed a natural extension of my fascination with understanding people, their motives, and choice of methods for solving their problems. There’s a lot of detective work in doing research and in working with clients struggling with alcohol, drug, and mental health problems. Sometimes those problems get them into legal trouble, so I had contact with the criminal justice system during my career. In fact, one of the first research projects I worked on was conducted in a women’s prison. Even in prison, the questions about whounit and why don’t always end.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

Yes. I have a big chair—a chair and a half. Coco, my Siamese cat, sometimes sits on the back of it while I write. The chair sits in front of a large window in the great room with a view of sunny blue skies, glittering palm trees, and magenta bougainvillea. The Santa Rosa Mountains are visible in the distance, too.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

It depends. Radical Regatta, my latest book in the Corsario Cove series, draws on a real-life incident—a dog found alone, swimming in the ocean. In that case, the dog had fallen off a cargo carrier and was rescued by workers on an oil rig. The situation seemed to have the makings of a great mystery. It also seemed a perfect way to start a new story for my twenty-something snoops, Kim and Brien, who love each other, surfing, and sleuthing.

The entire Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series is inspired by the time I spent “working for the mouse” at the “Mouse Factory.” Some of the circumstances and incidents in the stories are loosely based on those I experienced during the five years I worked for Disney.

When I went to “casting” and joined the Disney family, Walt Disney was no longer alive. I often heard him referred to fondly as a creative genius who also had more than his share of flaws. That description applies as well to “Mad” Max Marley, founder of Marvelous Marley World—a Disneyesque entertainment empire based on the success of a cartoon cat.

In a way, the Georgie Shaw series is an exercise in what ifs. Georgie Shaw, trained as a chef, spends her entire career working for the “Cat,” and eventually moves into upper management at Marvelous Marley World. What if I’d stayed at Disney? How interesting might the “path not taken” have been—with a big dose of murder and mayhem tossed in, of course?

Most often the idea for the next book in a series comes from some incident or character in the previous book. I enjoy writing mysteries with “ensemble” casts and a new mystery in the series creates the opportunity to feature a particular “cast member.” For example, in A Dead Nephew, book 6 in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series to be released later this year, Betsy Stark, a peripheral member of Jessica’s “Cat Pack” will play a larger role. Her Cahuillan ancestry is important in the next mystery where the murder victim and the young man convicted of killing him are both members of a wealthy local tribe here in the Coachella Valley.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Keeping up with all the tasks involved in publishing and marketing my books is very challenging.

What do you think makes a good story?

Apart from introducing readers to interesting characters who change and grow over the course of a series, I want readers to feel as if they’re part of the action, and I like to keep them guessing until the very end. It’s also important to me for each new mystery I write to be fresh and unique.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

I’ve mentioned that some aspects of Georgie Shaw’s life are like mine. That’s true for most of my lead characters. My twenty-something sleuths, Kim Reed and Brien Williams, are an homage to the young, impulsive couple my husband and I were at their age. My husband and I ran off and married in Tijuana. I was underaged at the time, so I got as far as LA before the police picked me up as a runaway. Still married forty-nine years later, we’ve matured some although I’m still waiting for the “wisdom” that comes with aging to kick in. LOL! The high-school dropout, rock and roll guitar player I married, grew up, and became a professor too. That’s part of why I love second chances and believe in writing about characters who grow and change over time. A long “character arc” is one of the luxuries of writing a series.

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

They all feature romance and humor, which isn’t always the case with books in the cozy mystery genre. Two of the series I write include a bit more suspense than many cozies—The Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series and the Call Lily Mystery series. These two series are closer on the continuum to “edgy” cozy mysteries but are less edgy than the Agatha Raisin or Stephanie Plum series.

The other three—Corsario Cove, Georgie Shaw, and Seaview Cottages are much more traditional cozy mysteries. Like most culinary cozies, my characters eat well. That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise given my job as a chef. I have series that feature both cats and dogs, but most recently, I’ve added a more unusual pet to one of the series.

Another difference in my series might also be that in the Corsario Cove and Georgie Shaw series, married couples solve the mysteries together. I don’t think that happens often, but I find the Thin Man series by Dashiell Hammett so enjoyable I’ve watched the old films starring Myrna Loy, Ronald Coleman, and their dog, Asta, over and over.

Until recently, I didn’t realize it, but all my female leads are “survivors” of one kind or another. That wasn’t a conscious decision on my part, but it isn’t too surprising. There’s more to the story, but I’ll leave that for another time.

Whats next on the horizon for you?

I have two more books planned in the Calla Lily Mystery series for early next year: Falls Killer Vintage, mystery #3, and The Vintners Other Daughter, #4. I have a new book planned for each of the other series, too. A Dead Nephew, Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery #6 will be out in early November.  A Fairway to Arms in Hemingway Hills, Seaview Cottages Cozy Mystery #4 or A Canary in the Canal, Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery #8 will be available by the end of the year—I’m not sure which one yet. I’d be delighted if I could finish both by then.

Radical Regatta, Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery #4 is only available in our USA Today Bestselling box set, Summer Snoops Unleashed: 14 Furr-ocious Mysteries & Cozy Crimes. That is a limited-edition box set and will be unpublished at the end of October. At that point, I’ll make Radical Regatta available as a standalone book. I have a fifth book in the works for the Corsario Cove series, Bogus Bones, in which two newly introduced rascals in book 4 will be back to cause more mischief.

About A Tangle In The Vines

A Tangle in the Vines (A Calla Lily Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Independently Published (September 10, 2019)
Number of Pages 250 pages with recipes
ASIN: B07T62B16Q

The curtain may fall on the Calla Lily Players’ first season unless Lily and Austin can find a killer on the loose in California’s wine country. Torrential rains threaten to put a damper on The Calla Lily Players’ first outdoor theater production. When the ground suddenly shifts, buried secrets revealed amid the tangled vines put the spotlight on murder. As Lily and Austin dig deeper into the mystery, the drama unfolds onstage and off. The race is on to find a killer before opening night.

Grab your copy of the second book in the Calla Lily Mystery series by USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Anna Celeste Burke and join the race! Recipes Included. Free to read in Kindle Unlimited.

Praise for A Tangle in the Vines
(A Calla Lily Mystery)
by Anna Celeste Burke

Well developed characters each playing a part makes it even more fun. Makes for a great cozy read making it perfect for fans of the genre. Wine lovers should appreciate it as well since it is set in the middle of wine country.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews


About Anna Celeste Burke

An award-winning, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, I hope you’ll join me snooping into life’s mysteries with fun, fiction, and food—California style!

Life is an extravaganza! Figuring out how to hang tough and make the most of the wild ride is the challenge. On my way to Oahu, to join the rock musician and high school drop-out I had married in Tijuana, I was nabbed as a runaway. Eventually, the police let me go, but the rock band broke up.

Retired now, I’m still married to the same sweet guy and live with him near Palm Springs, California. I write the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series set here in the Coachella Valley, the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery Series set along California’s Central Coast, The Georgie Shaw Mystery series set in the OC, The Seaview Cottages Cozy Mystery Series set on the so-called American Riviera, just north of Santa Barbara, and The Calla Lily Mystery series where the murder and mayhem take place in California’s Wine Country. Won’t you join me? Sign up at:

Author Links –  Website  –  Facebook Author Page  –   Goodreads  – Bookbub

Purchase Link – Amazon 

The First Book in this Series

Also by Anna Celeste Burke

Click on covers for more book information or to order from Amazon.

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Aug 242019

Death by Design: A DIY Diva Mystery
by Paula Darnell

I am so happy to welcome Paula to Escape With Dollycas today! 

Hi Paula, 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a former college instructor, and I also worked for seven years as a contract fashion writer for Now that I’m retired, I’m still busy writing, but I’m concentrating on fiction, rather than non-fiction.

What are three things most people don’t know about you?

  1. I was a manager for several years at a large newspaper chain, but I wasn’t a writer there; I worked in the advertising department.
  2. I like to binge watch old TV series.
  3. I would love to live in St. Mary Mead, next door to Miss Marple.

What is the first book you remember reading?

Little Golden books were the first books read to me. My parents always read to me when I was a young child. I still have a box of these old children’s books in my garage. I read the same books to my daughters when they were pre-schoolers.

What are you reading now?

I just finished reading Died in the Wool, A Knit and Nibble Mystery, by Peggy Erhart, and I’m currently reading a couple of non-fiction books about millinery.

What books have most inspired you?

All the cozy mystery books I’ve read have helped me in one way or another. I think Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple stories have probably inspired me the most.

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

I’m a cozy mystery reader, and I also watch a lot of TV shows and movies in the mystery genre. I like cozies, rather than the hard-boiled detective novels or those with a lot of forensic details because I like the puzzle-solving aspect and dislike graphic violence and gore.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

I write at my PC. It seems like the most convenient way, especially since it’s easy to quickly fact check or do a bit of research online. My printer’s right next to my computer, which is handy when I want to review what I’ve written.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Some of my ideas come from places I’ve lived and experiences I’ve had. For example, in Death by Association: A DIY Diva Mystery, I drew on my own experiences as a homeowner in a guard-gated community governed by an HOA, my own crafting hobbies, and my experience as a pet parent to my two Labrador retrievers.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Just getting it done is the most challenging thing for me.

What do you think makes a good story?

A good story makes the reader want to keep reading to find out what happens.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Probably the main character, Laurel McMillan, is most like me because she likes craft projects, she teaches, and she’s a pet parent to a Labrador retriever.

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

In the DIY Diva Mysteries, I have craft project instructions in the back of the book for projects that the DIY Diva has made during the story. In Death by Association, I also include four dog treat recipes in the back because Laurel is writing her new book DIY for Dog Lovers and including dog treats in it. In Death by Design, she’s working on projects for her next book DIY Perfect Pillows, so I include project instructions for pillows.

Thank you, Paula, for visiting today!

About the Book

Death by Design: A DIY Diva Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Cozy Cat Press (June 20, 2019)
Print Length: 184 pages

DIY Diva Laurel McMillan rejoices when her student Jennifer’s peacock pillow wins a design contest; that is, until Jennifer’s husband Matt is smothered with the very same pillow. When the police confiscate her prize-winning pillow, Jennifer freaks out, and Laurel fears that Jennifer may be more upset about losing the pillow than about Matt’s death. But the police arrest disgraced nurse Edna Elkins, not Jennifer. Begging Laurel to find the real killer, Edna insists she’s innocent, but Laurel’s not so sure, and when Laurel encounters Jennifer while walking her lovable Labrador retriever, Bear, she’s left with more questions than answers. Should the crafty DIY Diva play DIY Detective or does Edna really belong in jail?

Includes recipes and pillow project instructions.

More about Paula Darnell


An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she’s also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Like Laurel, the main character in Death by Association, Paula enjoys all kinds of arts and crafts. Some of her memorable projects include making a hat and a cape to wear to Royal Ascot, sewing wedding gowns for both her daughters, exhibiting her textile and mixed-media artwork in juried art shows, and having one of her jewelry projects accepted for inclusion in Leather Jewelry, published by Lark Books. She sells some of her jewelry and hair accessories in her Etsy shop:

Paula’s interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications.

Living in a guard-gated community governed by a homeowners’ association gave Paula the idea for the setting of Death by Association. She finds that residing in an HOA community can be both a blessing and a curse. A Happy-New-Year greeting from her community association called on residents to “start the new year by reviewing your Rules and Regulations booklet,” something unlikely to top anyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions.

Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout.

Author Links –  Author’s Website – Twitter Goodreads Pinterest Etsy shop

Purchase Links – Amazon

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Aug 172019

Dreamed It (Dreamwalker Mystery)
by Maggie Toussaint

Hi Maggie, 

Welcome to Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Growing up in the Deep South, surrounded by oral storytellers extraordinaire and stunning outdoor vistas, I became an observer. I listened to the cadence of lives around me and to the sounds of nature. With so many people telling stories, I turned to journaling and still have some diaries from elementary school. Anyway, all that looking and listening, followed by bouts of writing came in handy for my science career and my second career as a mystery author. Those passions of listening, observing, and writing are ingrained in every aspect of my life.

What are three things most people dont know about you?

1) I am predisposed to love the colors (and all shades) of red and green because those are the colors of my birth month, December.

2) I drank my lifetime supply of coffee by my twenties. After that, it was lights-out (for medical reasons) for coffee.

3) I learned to drive on a stick shift. Yes, I’m that young.

What is the first book you remember reading?

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

What are you reading now?

Julie Mulhern’s Telephone Line, Cheryl Hollon’s Down in Flames, and Diane A.S. Stuckart’s (writing as Ana Gerard) Peach Clobbered.

What books have most inspired you?

The World Book Encyclopedia Set. Encyclopedias are obsolete now, but when I was a kid, all I had to do was to take down a volume from the shelf, flip through the pages, and be transported worlds away. Coming from a fishing village, it sure seemed like there were wondrous things in the wide blue yonder.

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

I am part fixer, part finder. In short, I like to make things better. In life there are so many situations were crimes are unsolved, where things happened that could have been prevented, and where bad guys get away. Writing mysteries is my way to try to right some of un-rightable wrongs.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

Things change, that’s a constant in the universe and for me too. I have the best desk set up in my home office, but now that laptops have become lighter and I do more composing on the laptop, I can plunk down just about anywhere and write. The only thing that hasn’t changed is that I still prefer to write in quiet so I can hear myself think.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Some ideas just won’t let me go. That’s how I know an idea is something I want to pursue. Sometimes I worry that an idea doesn’t make a book, but it doesn’t have to. An idea is a story seed that sprouts and grows in wonderful ways.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Giving in graciously when my character insists on going a different direction than my five-page outline.

What do you think makes a good story?

An engaging, flawed, and believable lead character.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Back in the day when Barbie only had Midge as a friend, in the Archie comics, Veronica had Betty, and Nancy Drew had George, I always identified with the sidekicks. Now I think of myself as an armchair sleuth, and I wouldn’t mind being Baxley Powell, my Dreamwalker sleuth. Not sure that I could handle all her psychic abilities but it would be fun to try.

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

The Dreamwalker series is a paranormal cozy with heart.

Whats next on the horizon for you?

There will be another Dreamwalker mystery out next summer, ALL DONE WITH IT. I am also writing a new culinary series, the Seafood Caper Mystery Series, of which book one is SEAS THE DAY and slated for an April 2020 release.

Thank you, Maggie, for visiting today!

Keep reading to find out about the new Dreamwalker Mystery. 


About the Book

Dreamed It (Dreamwalker Mystery)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Camel Press (August 13, 2019)
Paperback: 248 pages
ISBN-10: 1603817824
ISBN-13: 978-1603817820

Justice for the dead and solace for the living is Baxley Powell’s creed, but she faces uncharted territory in this sixth book of the Dreamwalker Mystery Series. The Suitcase Killer has struck again, only this big city menace is now a problem for Baxley’s hometown. As that investigation heats up, a local woman is reported missing. The sheriff orders Baxley to work the missing person’s case.

Listening to the dead is familiar ground for Baxley but finding a missing young lady isn’t in her skill set. Besides, her dreams rarely follow a timeline. With the clock ticking, can this crime consultant discover a way to reach the living?

Her main source of help in the afterlife, a mentor named Rose, is unavailable. Instead, Baxley must rely on her wits and her Native American boyfriend, Deputy Sam Mayes, to find leads. Each shared dreamwalk and energy transfer binds them closer together, creating another issue. Mayes wants to marry Baxley but it isn’t that easy. They’re hampered by their community roles in opposite ends of the state.

Baxley juggles the pressure of two high-profile cases, a determined suitor, and expanding her limits. One thing is certain. Without her extrasensory sleuthing, the missing woman will die.

About Maggie Toussaint


Southern author Maggie Toussaint evolved into a mystery author after getting her feet damp in romantic suspense and dystopian fiction, with twenty fiction novels and two nonfiction novels to her credit. Her work won two Silver Falchions, the Readers’ Choice, and the EPIC Awards. She’s a past president of Southeast chapter of Mystery Writers of America and an officer of Lowcountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at

Author Links

Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Booklover’s BenchAmazon Author Central | Website | Bookbub

Purchase Link – Amazon 

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Jul 192019

Gore in the Garden
(A Washington Whodunit)
by Colleen Shogan

I am very excited to have Colleen Shogan visit today!! 

Hi Colleen, 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a political scientist and senior executive at the Library of Congress. I live outside Washington, D.C. with my husband and beagle mutt, Conan. My favorite pastime is reading by the pool.

What are three things most people don’t know about you?

  1. Most people think I’m an extrovert, but I also like spending time by myself.
  2. I’m a morning person and do my best work then.
  3.  I was the valedictorian of my high school.

What is the first book you remember reading?

An Encyclopedia Brown book.

What are you reading now?

There Will Be No Miracles Here” by Casey Gerald

What books have most inspired you?

Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” inspired me so much, I read it twice.

What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?

I’ve always read mysteries for leisure and relaxation. One day, I took a walk in my neighborhood and came up with the plot for “Stabbing in the Senate,” the first book in my series. I decided to take a shot at writing my own mystery novel, and I haven’t stopped since.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

In the spring, summer, and fall, I write outside in my backyard on our deck next to our pool.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

I work on Capitol Hill and there’s no shortage of intrigue. I’m observant and I pay attention to conflict, adversity, and behavior. Paying attention ensures that I have an unlimited supply of ideas for future books.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

It can be difficult finding the time to write. Since I have a full-time job that sometimes extends into the evening hours, it’s hard to squeeze in time each day for writing.

What do you think makes a good story?

I start with the characters and the setting. Once I have those ingredients, the plot comes together in support of them.

Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Most people assume that my main character, Kit Marshall, is based on me. She’s really not. There may be similarities, but I would likely never take the risks that Kit does. In some ways, Kit is aspirational for me.

What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Most cozies are set in a small town, and my series takes place in Washington, D.C., an urban setting. My books aren’t about politics, but they do reveal some of the inner workings of our nation’s capital. That affords them a slightly higher level of seriousness than other amateur sleuth mysteries. I also think my characters are more modern in their mannerisms, conduct, and behavior than most other books in the genre.

What’s next on the horizon for you?

I’m currently writing the sixth book in the series, tentatively titled “Larceny at the Library.”  I think it will be a real fan favorite in 2020.

Thank you, Colleen, for dropping by today!

Keep reading for my thoughts about Colleen’s new book, Gore in the Garden.

About Gore in the Garden

Gore in the Garden (A Washington Whodunit)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Camel Press (July 16, 2019)
Paperback: 224 pages
ISBN-10: 1603817239
ISBN-13: 978-1603817233

After her boss narrowly escaped political defeat, Kit Marshall is settling into life as a busy congressional staffer. While attending an evening reception at the United States Botanic Garden, Kit’s best friend stumbles upon the body of a high-ranking government official. The chairwoman of a congressional committee asks Kit to investigate, and she finds herself once again in the thick of a murder investigation. The complications keep coming with the unexpected arrival of Kit’s younger brother Sebastian, a hippie protestor who seems more concerned about corporate greed than the professional problems he causes for his sister. To make matters even worse, the romantic lives of Kit’s closest friends are driving her crazy, diverting her attention from the mystery she’s been tasked to solve. The search for the killer requires her to tussle with an investigative journalist right out of a noir novel, a congresswoman fixated on getting a statue of James Madison installed on the Capitol grounds and a bossy botanist who would do anything to protect the plants he loves. When the murderer sends a threatening message to Kit via a highly unusual delivery mechanism, Kit knows she must find the killer or risk the lives of her friends and loved ones.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Kit Marshall attends a reception with her boss, Congresswoman Maeve Dixon, best friend Meg, hubby Doug, and her brother Sebastian, at the United States Botanic Garden, just in time to witness the corpse flower bloom. As the group leaves the Garden Meg makes a quick stop to the bathroom. Her screams alert them back into the building where they find the Architect of the Capitol dead. Kit is quickly pegged to be the liaison between the police and Congress and conduct her own investigation. She also has to run interference when her brother becomes part of protests on the hill, reduce conflicts between her staff, and keep on top of her real job as Chief of Staff Dixon. All this plus she has to stay one step ahead of the killer or she will be their next victim.


This is another fabulous addition to this series. I loved the way the corpse flower played into the story. The University of Wisconsin had one and whenever it bloomed it was big news around here.

All the characters I have come to love return, including Kit’s pepperoni loving pup. We also meet Kit’s brother that was too busy along with her parents to attend Kit and Doug’s wedding. I have to say Kit is more forgiving than I would be but then again there is a murderer on the loose. I enjoyed that Doug is now working close enough that he can assist her in her investigation.

Because of Ms. Shogan’s experience, she gives what feels like a believable picture of life behind the scenes in a Congressperson’s office. With the current climate in Washington politics, a book like this is very current but not as divisive. The murder is Kit’s main focus and other things on her plate are the staff’s summer picnic, their love lives and trying to keep her brother out of trouble and may even stay in D.C. Shogan brings all the subplots together seamlessly and the story maintains a great flow until we get near the end, then the pace spikes as the killer is revealed. I was holding my breath for more than a few moments.

The author did an excellent job of describing Kit’s surroundings. It has been a long time since I have been to Washington and she introduced a few new sites I didn’t know existed but her words took me right where I needed to be.

While taking place in a big town, Colleen keeps things pretty cozy. Engaging characters, a captivating story, set in an awesome place, will have readers rapidly flipping the pages. The twists are exquisite and our protag has guts, knows how to think on her feet and doesn’t back down.

I highly recommend this entire series, but each book can be read on its own.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Colleen J. Shogan

Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She conceived of the plot of her first mystery, “Stabbing in the Senate,” one morning while taking a walk in her suburban Washington, D.C. neighborhood. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress who works on great initiatives such as the National Book Festival. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan. Colleen’s first book won the Next Generation Indie Prize for Best Mystery. Her books have been RONE and Killer Nashville finalists in the mystery category.

Author Links – Webpage – Facebook – Twitter –  GoodReads 

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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.”

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