Blog Tour – Cozy Up With Kathy

I finish the week with an interview at Cozy Up With Kathy. Kathy’s review of Cast for Murder is also posted, so please stop by to read both plus her reviews of other new releases. Thank you, Kathy!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Blog Tour- Dru’s Book Musings

Today I’m at dru’s book musings with a guest post in Dru’s A Day in the Life series.  This fun feature invites writers to introduce a new book from their amateur sleuth’s point of view. Drop in today and read what Veronica’s up to in Cast for Murder and then hang out for a while with characters starring in other recent book releases.

Thank you, Dru!

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Blog Tour – Escape With Dollycas

Please take a few minutes today to visit Escape With Dollycas to read my guest post and Lori’s review. I had a lot of fun writing my Cozy Wednesday post; I hope you enjoy reading it. Thank you, Lori!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Blog Tour – A Holland Reads Review

Angela has posted her review of Cast for Murder on her blog, A Holland Reads. Please visit her site today to read it and other book reviews she has recently written. Thank you, Angela!

Happy Fat Tuesday to you all!

 

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The Blog Tour Begins – StoreyBook Reviews

Leslie at StoreyBook Reviews has posted the first review for Cast for Murder. Please take a few minutes today to visit her blog and read the review plus her thoughts on other recent book releases. Thank you, Leslie!

 

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A Bit Of Promotion From Veronica Walsh

It’s release week for Cast for Murder! Today I thought I’d let my fictional amateur sleuth, Veronica Walsh, promote the book via an interview about the community theater production she is starring in, Blithe Spirit. I hope you enjoy her remarks to a reporter from her hometown newspaper.

Veronica, you haven’t performed since last spring, when your long-running soap opera, Days and Nights, was cancelled. How does it feel to be acting again?

 I’ve been enjoying my life as owner of the All Things boutique in Barton and love working with the staff. Each morning I call the shop’s opening “Show Time,” but it doesn’t compare to the adrenaline rush of acting. I’ve missed performing and slipped back into it as if the sabbatical never happened. It’s wonderful to be part of a cast again. There’s nothing like a group collaborating to bring an imaginary world to life for an audience.

How did you land the role of Madame Arcati?

Gigi Swanson, the founder of the Barton Community Theater, walked into my boutique one day last December and offered me the role. It was completely unexpected and I was flabbergasted. Still, it took only three seconds to accept the part of Madame.

You mentioned Gigi Swanson. She was the original director of your production. Ms. Swanson was murdered the first week of rehearsals. It was you who found her body behind the theater. How has Gigi’s death affected you, the cast, and the production?

Gigi’s loss has been devastating to everyone at the theater. She was our leader. It was suggested we postpone or cancel the production, but the cast took a vote and unanimously agreed the show must go on. Our performances will be in honor of Gigi and we’re working hard to make sure her vision for the show is fulfilled.

You have developed a reputation for solving local murders. Are you investigating Ms. Swanson’s murder?

 I’m too busy running All Things during the day and rehearsing for Blithe Spirit in the evenings to have time for anything else. I have full confidence the Barton Police will soon make an arrest and justice will be served for Gigi and her family.

Madame Arcati is a medium. Have you met with a medium in preparation for your role?

Gigi put me in touch with a local woman who is a medium. We’ve met and she shared interesting information about her work, but Noël Coward’s wonderful script is my main guide and inspiration for playing Madame.

Are you nervous about opening night? Do you have stage fright, even after your long career?

I don’t have stage fright, but I will have nervous anticipation before the curtain opens. It won’t be over my performance, but over the unexpected moment that always happens. It can be anything: a castmate forgetting a line, a misplaced prop, a piece of the set not properly functioning. An actor never knows when she’ll have to improvise. A distraction can also come from the audience, so a reminder to everyone coming to our shows to turn off your cell phones when you enter the theater, no talking during the performance, and if you must chew gum, do it quietly!

 

Hmm. It seems Veronica skirted around one or two questions. You’ll have to read Cast for Murder to get the full story.

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Remember my blog tour begins this week. I’ll be posting links to the reviews and guest posts, so keep checking in for the latest on Cast for Murder. It’s finally here!

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Meet the Cast

This is a big week for Cast for Murder. I’ll give my approval to the manuscript’s proof, allowing CreateSpace and Draft2Digital to release the book through their sales channels. I’ve learned in my research that it will take a few days for the book to appear on sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble (perhaps a little longer for other sites like Ingram). The book should be available for purchase by next Tuesday, February 13, the official release date.

I’ve written before that the plot of Cast for Murder centers around an amateur production of Blithe Spirit. Today I thought I would introduce you to the cast of the play-within-the-cozy-mystery, giving their biographies as they would appear in the show’s program. The name in the parentheses is the character each actor is playing in Noel Coward’s comedy.

Kelsey Devlin (Edith) – Kelsey Devlin makes her Barton Community Theater debut as Edith, the Condomine household’s maid. Devlin starred in Bear Lake High School productions of The Sound of Music (Liesel) and Grease (Marty). She teaches yoga classes at Mind and Body Yoga in Bear Lake and is studying to be a nutritionist.

Jerome Figueroa (Charles Condomine) – Jerome Figueroa has performed in fifteen Barton Community Theater productions, including the roles of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Felix Unger in The Odd Couple. He and his wife, Leslie, have been married for twenty-five years and have three sons and a daughter. Figueroa is an electrical engineer at Ventum Electronics in Glens Falls.

Peter Jacobs (Dr. Bradman) – Blithe Spirit marks Peter Jacobs’ tenth production with the Barton Community Theater. His past roles include Gary Lejeune in Noises Off, Geoffrey Duncan in The Sisters Rosensweig, and Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple. Jacobs and Vicki, his wife of fourteen years, have two daughters. Jacobs teaches math at Barton High School.

Lucy Kobayashi (Elvira) – Lucy Kobayashi makes her stage debut in Blithe Spirit, though she was an active behind-the-scenes member of the drama club during her four years at Barton High School. A graduate of Ithaca College, Kobayashi is a speech therapist in the Lake George Central School District.

Iris Silver (Mrs. Bradman) – Iris Silver enters her sixth year with the Barton Community Theater with her role in Blithe Spirit. She has starred as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, and Sara Goode in The Sisters Rosensweig. Like fellow actor Peter Jacobs, Silver is a math teacher at Barton High School. She and Jeff, her husband of eighteen years, have a son and daughter.

Erica St. Martin (Ruth Condomine) – Erica St. Martin emigrated from Haiti at the age of eleven and has called Barton her home for the last ten years. A longtime theater fan, she makes her acting debut in Blithe Spirit. St. Martin works in Accounts Receivable for the Village of Barton.

Veronica Walsh (Madame Arcati) – Veronica Walsh has two Daytime Emmy Awards, three Soap Opera Digest Awards, and a Gracie Allen Award for her role of Rachel Wesley on the daytime program Days and Nights. A longtime supporter of the Barton Community Theater, Blithe Spirit marks her first performance with the acting troupe. Walsh is the owner of All Things, a boutique located on Orchard Street in Barton.

I hope this sparks your interest in Veronica’s new friends and her theatrical adventure in Cast for Murder. The latest installment is almost here!

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I’m rooting for the B-eagles over the Pup-triots in the Puppy Bowl. Infer from that what you will about whom I’m rooting for in the other big game today. Speaking of which, do you have all your Super Bowl snacks ready? And for whom are you cheering?

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The Play’s The Thing

I’ve added a new date to my upcoming blog tour. On Monday, February 19, Jane at Jane Reads will post her review of Cast for Murder. This will be an introduction to the series for Jane’s readers. Thank you, Jane, for welcoming Veronica and me to your blog!

In Cast for Murder, my protagonist, Veronica Walsh, emerges from acting retirement to star in an amateur production of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit. Choosing the stage play the plot would revolve around was a fun bit of research for me; I read several plays before choosing Coward’s classic comedy for Veronica’s starring role.

In my original plan for the third book in the series, Veronica’s leading man was murdered. I had a great title for the book; I’m keeping it secret because I might use it in the future! The first play I considered for the book was Edward Albee’s masterpiece, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Veronica would relish playing Martha, one of the most famous characters in theater history. The small cast-just four characters-was perfect for my story and the tension and rising viciousness throughout the play would blend well with the motives for a backstage murder.

Another play I considered for my original plot was Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig. Veronica would be terrific as Sara, a middle-aged banker living in London, but after some thought I passed on the delightful show.

I turned to other plays when I changed the murder victim to the play’s director. I love Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple and knew I would have fun writing a book that included the well-known story. Veronica would star in the female version of the play Simon wrote in 1985, in which the ladies play Trivial Pursuit rather than poker. I chose not to weave the show into my storyline before deciding whether Veronica would play Florence Unger or Olive Madison.

I also entertained the idea of the production being of an original play written by the eventual murder victim. The plot of the play would point to the killer. After considering several options for the story-within-the-story, I passed on this plan.

Finally, after also considering The MousetrapNoises Off, and Chapter Two, I decided on Blithe Spirit. Coward’s play about the return of a dead woman’s spirit was a good fit for my plot and offered opportunities for a few life-imitating-art moments in the story. I gave Veronica the well-known role of medium Madame Arcati. The small cast of seven allowed me to give each of the actors a line or two of dialog without burdening the story with too many characters.

I go through one or two phases a year of setting my to-read list of novels aside and checking out a few plays from the library, a habit that in part inspired Cast for Murder. Do you enjoy reading plays? Or do you prefer to see the finished product performed in a theater, whether amateur or professional? And what’s your favorite production? After all this writing, I know what mine is.

Enjoy the week!

 

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Blog Tour 2018

The blog tour bus is warming up for a mid-February jaunt through cozy cyberspace! Cast for Murder will arrive in three weeks and I’ll be celebrating the book’s release with visits to several cozy mystery blogs. “Book” your ticket now!

The book’s introduction will begin on February 12 with a review from Leslie at StoreyBook Reviews. The next day, the book’s official release date, blogger Angela Holland will post her review on A Holland Reads.

On Valentine’s Day I’ll be at Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book with a guest post for the blog’s Cozy Wednesday feature. Lori will also offer her review of the book.

Dru at dru’s book musings also invited me to write a guest post for her A Day in the Life series. Written from my main character Veronica Walsh’s point of view, the post brings readers up to speed on her life in her hometown of Barton and introduces the new mystery she must solve. You can read the post and Dru’s review on Thursday, February 15.

The week closes with a review from Kathy at Cozy Up With Kathy on Friday, February 16.

The next week, Christa Nardi, the author of the Cold Creek mystery series, will offer her review on Wednesday, February 21 on her blog, Christa Reads and Writes.

Lori, Dru, and Kathy have been supporters of the Veronica Walsh mystery series since the release of the first book, All Things Murder, in 2014. Leslie at Storeybook Reviews entered Veronica’s world with Murder, by George, and Christa and Angela are newcomers with the series’ third installment. I’m grateful for the opportunities they have all given me to introduce my work to their readers.

Several more bloggers have agreed to review or spotlight Cast for Murder. I will update you on those dates when they are set. I’ll also, of course, post the links to all reviews and guest posts on the scheduled dates.

Finally, are you a Goodreads member? If you are, be sure to enter my contest for a chance to win one of two advance paperback copies of Cast for Murder. It’s open until the evening of Thursday, January 25. Good luck!

I hope you all have a wonderful week. January, where did you go so fast?

 

 

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I Like Them. I Really Like Them.

Halfway through Jostein Gaarder’s novel, Sophie’s World, the plot takes an incredible twist that illustrates how attached readers can get to fictional characters. I read the book twenty years ago, but the shock of that sudden story turn is still fresh in my mind. We come to think of the characters as real people, don’t we? We mourn when a beloved character dies, shout at the page when one does something stupid, and shed a few tears when lovers finally unite for a happily ever after. Readers have been doing this for centuries; in 1841, a crowd of New Yorkers, anxious to know the fate of Little Nell, gathered on a dock in lower Manhattan to greet the ship carrying the last installment of Charles Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop.

Cozy mystery writers depend on readers having a strong connection with our characters so they will stick with us through book after book of a series. As a writer, I also form a bond with the characters I create, both the “regulars” like Veronica Walsh, Mark Burke, and Carol Emerson, and the characters who feature in just one book (or so I plan, until I fall in love with them and promote them to permanent cast member). This blog title says it all. I really like the make-believe people in my head.

Sometimes that makes it difficult to have a character suffer, do something bad, or die (no wonder the victim in many cozy mysteries is an awful person whom no one misses when they’re gone). “But I don’t want this character to be childless!” I might say to my computer screen. “This one’s just starting her career, I can’t send her to prison!” or “He’s so sweet, I can’t let him die!”

What I have to do, of course, is kill my darlings. That’s the advice offered on numerous blogs and given by authors from William Faulkner to Stephen King. Per the recommendation, to create a strong, interesting story, a writer must let go of her favorite lines, paragraphs, even whole chapters that don’t advance the plot. For me, that also means always remembering the characters serve the story, not vice versa, and I must not be precious about them. It’s a daily reminder I give myself so I can ruin a character’s life, turn one into a royal witch, or make some guy a dirt bag.

What about you? What characters have become so real you’d like to invite them over for pizza and beer? What literary friend have you mourned over, or wanted to slap upside the head?

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I hope everyone affected by the frigid temperatures and snow bomb cyclone is warm and safe. My cold fingers are crossed for a thaw. Pronto!

 

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