Clocked Out: A Josie Posey Mystery
by Anna St. John
It is my pleasure to welcome Anna St. John
to Escape With Dollycas today!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from a small town in Kansas, happily married to my high school sweetheart for more than 50 years. We have two sons and will have a total of four grandchildren by the end of 2024.
After a career in journalism, public relations, and advertising, I finally plunged into writing my first book. I landed a fabulous agent and signed a five-book publishing contract – but I still can’t believe I’m living my dream life as an author.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
- I hate to exercise, but I do it anyway. Five days a week.
- I’m a three-time cancer survivor.
- I still have the original set of Nancy Drew books I read as a child.
What books/authors have most inspired you?
This is a difficult question because I find inspiration in many books. My favorites change almost daily, as I discover new authors. Limiting my list to the cozy genre, I’ll share only a few here.
When I first started researching cozies with an older protagonist, I discovered the Gladdy Gold series. I wrote to author Rita Lakin and she encouraged me with a two-word response: “Keep Writing!” Rita died March 23, 2023. I had hoped to thank her in person one day.
Because I’m drawn to “senior sleuths,” I also love what Richard Osman has accomplished in his Thursday Murder Club series. The books are smart and funny. His retirement community characters are wonderful.
I’m grateful to the many contemporary cozy authors who have provided wisdom, feedback, and encouragement. Two of those are authors who recently released their own new books: Daphne Silver, Crime and Parchment, and, Heather Weidner, Christmas Lights and Cat Fights.
I spend a lot of time on research to give my stories greater authenticity. Sometimes this involves an interview with a knowledgeable source, but more often I research through the Internet or my local library.
On any given day, I may research the weather, the blooms of a specific flower, the particulars of an unusual tool, or the date a children’s book was first published. I have researched the names of inventors, the dates of public events or concerts, the height of ladders and photos of covered bridges in the Cottswolds.
If one of my characters grew up in the 40s, I research music, hairstyles, fashions and news of that era. Of course, as a mystery writer, I also search for unique way to kill someone, so my browser is filled with questions about death by poison versus a blow to the head, etc.
Though I spend several weeks researching the location and premise before I begin a book, I am never finished. I add more as I write, because I believe details help bring a book to life. If the words are flowing quickly, I won’t allow myself to stop for an exploration of the Internet. Instead, I highlight a sentence and make a note to go back and add more content later.
Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?
Only when I’m answering an interview like this one. 🙂
While I don’t generally have trouble putting words on a page, I sometimes write myself into a corner and have to find my way back to daylight. When that happens, I set the project aside for a day or two. Usually one of my characters suggests a solution and somehow it all comes together again.
I love to encourage new writers because I so appreciated the published authors who guided me.
I always suggest three things:
- Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about writing and publishing, as fast as you’re able, from every resource available. Help is everywhere, if you look for it. (And most of it is free.)
- Believe in yourself. No matter what else you do, never stop writing. Even for those with exceptional natural talent, writing is a skill that improves with practice. Accept feedback from those you respect. Be grateful for it. Use it to improve your writing.
- Be flexible. If your first book doesn’t sell, write another one. And another. Change your genre if you must. There are many ways to get published: traditional, hybrid, and self-published. Each offers different benefits. Consider all the options and choose the one that’s right for you. Then make it happen.
When you are not writing what do you like to do?
When I’m home, I do simple things: read, watch movies with my husband, and take walks with our Old English sheepdog, Oliver.
I enjoy playing mahjong with friends, spending time with my grandchildren, or going for a drive in my vintage Triumph Herald convertible.
Most of all, I love to travel with my husband. We have been fortunate to see many countries together.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
Australia and New Zealand are high on my list, for their natural beauty and diversity – with a mix of cities, beaches, rainforests and wildlife. Australia is the only island that is also a country and a continent. We’ve heard great reviews from personal friends who have visited there.
What is next on the horizon for you?
I recently completed a narrative nonfiction book about a Czechoslovakian family who immigrated to the United States after WWII. Hopefully, my agent will find a publisher for this story.
Meanwhile, I’m excited to begin book three of the Josie Posey series. I hope your followers will watch for it in February 2025. Hint: It’s about a doll collector.
Thank you, Anna, for visiting today!
Keep reading for my thoughts about Clocked Out.
About Clocked Out
Clocked Out – A Josie Posey Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting: A small town in Sunflower County, Kansas, named English Village
Level Best Books (February 6, 2024)
ASIN : B0CRFY4R6P
Josie Posey and her posse of Mahjong Mavens are at it again, in this cozy mystery where the retired big city crime reporter turned small town crime solver uncovers another murder in picturesque English Village.
When the clockmaker’s daughter returns home for a visit, reporter Josie Posey is assigned the task of interviewing the talented watch designer. That very afternoon the young woman falls from a ladder while inventorying antique clocks.
At first, Josie is certain the fall was an accident. Everyone loved Ella McGregor Benjamin. But Ella’s deathbed statement is a mysterious riddle that can’t be ignored. With her Old English Sheepdog Moe by her side, and an ever-growing list of suspects, Josie scrambles to identify the killer before anyone else gets hurt.
The local police chief wants Josie to help solve the puzzle, but stay out of his murder case. The editor of The Village Gazette wants an in-depth story for the next edition. And somebody wants Josie to stop asking questions. Deadlines loom.
In this fast-paced rollercoaster ride of a mystery, the clock is ticking as Josie vows to find the killer before time runs out.
We are back in English Village, Kansas. Josey Posey’s next assignment for The Village Gazette is interviewing Ella McGregor Benjamin, a very skilled watch designer, who has come home to visit her father. Later Ella falls from a ladder while doing an inventory of the clocks in her father’s store and is badly injured.
At the hospital, she regains consciousness long enough to say a few words before she passes away. Words that convey that her fall wasn’t an accident. Now to determine just what those words mean. Police Chief Marshall wants Josie’s help with that but doesn’t want her butting into his case. Her boss at the Gazette wants a full-in-depth story as soon as possible. There is also someone who wants Josie to mind her own business.
Josie knows she doesn’t have a lot of time but she is determined to catch the killer no matter how complications there are.
After reading the first book in the series, Doomed by Blooms, I couldn’t wait to read this one.
Josie and her “posse of biddies” also known as the Mahjong Mavens and her lovable sheepdog Moe are so much fun. Police Chief Marshall has apologized for calling Josie, Kate, Sharon, and Nellie “biddies” after he saw their efforts were helpful on his last case, so much so that he asks for Josie’s help this time. Josie is a great protagonist. She uses her talents learned as a reporter to ask the right questions, do the right research, and sort through all the clues until they make sense. Her friends are wonderful sounding boards but they sometimes come up with key information too. I love the way the author has written this group of women. They are vital with big hearts and they love mysteries. They also cook and bake up some delicious food.
I was drawn in by all the details of clock-making or horology. The victim had a dream of making a very valuable clock with many “complications” or features. In a time when hardly anyone wears watches anymore and clocks are mostly digital, and maybe because I love grandfather clocks and have a son that collects watches, it was like I fell down a rabbit hole learning about these fantastic timepieces. I love learning new things when reading cozy mysteries. It makes me feel smarter when I turn that final page with new terms and meanings added to my vocabulary.
With a victim whose life was all about a certain number of complications, the author has penned a very complicated mystery. Ella McGregor Benjamin’s deathbed statement set off a wild investigation with several people having motives to kill the watchmaker. Clues were found in unique places including one that Josie’s Moe uncovered. Josie’s index cards with her notes were shuffled through many times as she tried to make all the clues fall into place. It was a “well-orchestrated” mystery that was very hard to solve. I sure wasn’t playing the right tune or winding the watch. I was so caught up in the story that I think I fell for every misdirection and twist so I was surprised when everything was revealed.
While the clockmaking theme was interesting it was the people in this story that really shined. The small community of English Village is full of good people. The Mahjong Mavens are a tight-knit group that will always have each other’s back. Josie also has a very good friendship with Harvey that is building into something more. She has a good relationship with the police chief too. Ms. St. John has created I place I would love to visit and people I would love to meet.
Clocked Out kept me on my toes from beginning to end. Engaging characters and a complex mystery took me on quite a journey. What I learned about timepieces was just icing on the cake. I am eager for the next book in this series and to meet up again with Josie, and the rest of her friends soon. Oh, and Moe too!
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
More About Anna St. John
Anna St. John writes cozy mysteries featuring a mature, yet feisty, former crime reporter, Josie Posey, as the amateur sleuth.
A former journalist, award-winning advertising copywriter, and ad agency owner, Anna is married to her high school sweetheart. She writes from her home office in Kansas, with her Old English Sheepdog by her side.
Anna is represented by Cindy Bullard, of Birch Literary Agency. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Kansas Authors Club.
Great Escapes Praise for Clocked Out: A Josie Posey Mystery
by Anna St. John
I confess… I decided to read/review Clocked Out by Anna St. John strictly because of the cover. It’s absolutely adorable and I absolutely needed to meet that dog! Grab your fave hot beverage, find a comfy reading space, and curl up with this fun mystery!
~Reading is my Superpower
What a delightful read this was! It has all the elements I love in cozy mysteries–small town, wonderful friends and the perfect pet side-kick.
~Sarah Can’t Stop Reading Books
I’m enjoying the Josie Posey series, and Clocked Out is a solid addition. I got caught up in the story and had fun on the ride. I highly recommend this book for fans of small-town cozy mysteries.
TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops.
January 31 – Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense – SPOTLIGHT
January 31 – CelticLady Reviews – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
February 1 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
February 1 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
February 2 – The Mystery of Writing – AUTHOR GUEST POST
February 2 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – RECIPE
February 3 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
February 4 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
February 4 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
February 5 – Sarah Can’t Stop Reading Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST
February 5 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
February 6 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
February 6 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 7 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
February 8 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
February 9 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER GUEST POST
February 9 – Books to the Ceiling – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT/PODCAST
February 10 – Reading Authors Network – AUTHOR GUEST POST
February 11 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW
February 12 – The Book Diva’s Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST
February 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
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.”