Thursday, November 10, 2016

Where Do Stories Come From? - A Guest Blog by Diane Sawyer

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Diane Sawyer. Reviewers have referred to Sawyer’s work as romantic suspense, cozy mysteries, mystery served with a taste of history and archaeological mysteries. She has recently completed two novels, set in St. Petersburg, and is working on a third, also set in St. Petersburg. Sawyer was our featured author on October 19, 2012.

For me, a story begins when I see something unusual that piques my curiosity. My immediate reaction is: “With the right characters and setting, this could make a really good story.” That’s exactly what happened with The Tell-Tale Treasure, my latest novel. My husband and I attended a Florida Orchestra concert featuring a soloist who played an exotic wooden instrument, the erhu (sometimes referred to as a Chinese violin or a Chinese fiddle).  I had never heard of an erhu. The program stated that many people hear a woman’s voice in the distinctive sound coming from the instrument and some insist the woman is weeping. I was hooked. 

During the following weeks, I researched Chinese culture and Chinese music. One thing led to another—Chinese philosophy, Chinese holidays, even dragons, which are sometimes carved into the neck of an erhu. The story line began to develop: a cold-case missing-person story, about an internationally known Chinese musician—I named her Ivy Chen—who disappeared after a series of concerts in St. Pete with the Florida Orchestra three years ago. The case turned cold. I would need a highly motivated, knowledgeable heroine—I chose the name Rosie Renard—who could help the cold-case detectives.  But how? Details about Rosie emerged. She owned Rosie’s Treasures, a second-hand shop in St. Pete’s Grand Central District.  She found items belonging to Ivy Chen in a footlocker recently purchased at an estate sale. Wood was Rosie’s specialty. She helped the cold-case detectives uncover details not evident in the original investigation, and so much more. Hooray for Rosie! The cold-case sizzled!

Unlike my previous five novels, The Tell-Tale Treasure was set in my beloved St. Pete, where I have lived for 28 years. As I scoured neighborhoods, looking for places to set key scenes, I saw with new eyes the vibrant city I called home. I found it difficult to unleash an evil person in St. Pete, someone who could target an unsuspecting person and get away with anything. Even kidnapping. Possibly murder. A profile of this horrid individual took shape—and frightened me. To counterpoint that, I relied on fantastic detectives. Creating them gave me joy and a chance for some humor to offset the terror.

Readers will root for Ivy as they see her in captivity, planning a desperate escape against all odds. They will root for Rosie too for handling all the physically demanding scenes I threw her way as she attempted to save Ivy. Both Rosie and Ivy did what my characters tend to do when they became real to me. They vied for additional scenes to accomplish their goals. The secondary characters (Dare I call them that?) weren’t shy either and demanded bigger parts in the plot. I’m a pushover. They all got their way.

For me, the most creative aspect of writing The Tell-Tale Treasure was showing the undeniable role of music, philosophy, art, and even romance as survival skills in this gripping tale. By the way, I am not yet finished with a St. Pete setting. More stories will follow. Stay tuned.

The Tell-Tale Treasure was published in October, 20016, by Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) Publishing, an independent traditional publisher located in Tallahassee, Florida.  The Tell-Tale Treasure is available at syppublishing.com   It will soon be available at Amazon.com   and at Barnes & Noble.com. I will be launching The Tell-Tale Treasure at the Times Reading Festival at USF in St. Pete from 10 to 5 o’clock, on Saturday, November 12.  My publisher, Terri Gerrell, from Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) will be at Booth 42, across from the Food Court. Please stop by and say hello. Several other SYP authors will be there too.  We would love to meet you.

For more information, visit Sawyer's Author Page at Amazon or contact her at dsawyer@wans.net (please put “newsletter” in the subject line). 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Lovable Loser - Jim Clinch

We love our curmudgeons. From James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo to television’s Archie Bunker  and Oscar Madison to Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, these crusty characters have an odd but universal appeal.  One of the newest additions to their ranks is Canterbury Edmund Garfield, the grumpy, politically incorrect and quintessentially Floridian creation of Venice writer Jim Clinch. Garfield is the title character in Clinch’s debut novel, “Canterbury’s Tale,” a book the author describes as “a novel of whiskey, cigars and murder,” and a story that will have you laughing (albeit guiltily) as you turn each page.

Clinch, a New Jersey native, moved to Venice, Florida when he was ten.  He recalls Venice as being “a wonderful small town to grow up in.” He graduated from Flagler College with a bachelor’s degree in English and went on to earn a master’s in business from Nazareth College in Michigan. After spending some time as a newspaper reporter and a sheriff’s deputy, he began his career as “a corporate guy,” travelling extensively as a sales VP.  He also married his high school sweetheart and started a family.

According to Clinch, “I always wanted to be a writer. It just took me 40 years.” Clinch wrote his first novel at the age of 16 and, over the years, started many others including “two or three really bad ones.”  Although he had the desire to write, the demands of family life as well as his job and his volunteer work with Sertoma, the Chamber of Commerce and other non-profit boards left him with little time.  It wasn’t until his three children were grown that he was able to work writing into his busy schedule. “That,” Clinch says, “was when Canterbury Garfield just stumbled into my life, smelling of whiskey and urinal cakes, and said hi. He was so weird that I had to introduce him to the rest of the world.” Thus began the five-month odyssey that culminated in Canterbury’s Tale, a book Clinch categorizes as part of “the Lovable Losers genre.”

For five years prior to writing Canterbury’s  Tale, Clinch stopped reading books by other mystery writers. “I felt it would be terrible to be too derivative of someone else,” he explains. “Every story has been told, so it’s more a matter of re-imagining it with a new spin and interesting, fun characters the reader will want to know more about.” Canterbury Garfield certainly fits the bill. A burnt-out former journalist and reluctant insurance agent, Garfield is what Clinch calls “a recreational malcontent, a universal offender who gets through his day by shocking and annoying people.”  For Clinch, writing in Garfield’s voice was great fun. “It was cathartic to have this irascible person venting,” he says. “He was able to say many of the things that I can’t.” In Canterbury’s Tale, Garfield becomes unwittingly implicated in the crossbow murder of his town’s unsavory mayor and finds himself facing Latin American gangsters, an Asian hit man, international organ smugglers, federal agents, and an elderly disgruntled client who runs him down with her Prius, all against the backdrop of the sleepy town of Puntayelo, Florida.

Clinch has big plans for Canterbury Garfield, including a series of novels based on his misadventures. He has completed the second book in the series, Pink Gin Rickey. It has Cantebury dealing with a crazy British aristocrat, a hip-hop mogul, snipers, Nazis, religious fanatics and a mystery involving a missing B-17 from WWII. “I'm only sorry this book took me four years to write," Clinch says. I’m looking forward to writing as many books as I have time for."One thing Clinch can tell readers for certain: They’ll be weird.”

For more about Jim Clinch, visit his website at www.jimclinch.com or visit Canterbury Garfield's Facebook page (if you're in the mood for a good laugh!)


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Florida: Marvelous for Murder – A Guest Blog by Lesley A. Diehl

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Lesley Diehl. Diehl is the author of cozy mysteries featuring sassy country girls who enjoy snooping. Her latest release is Mud Bog Murder, book 4 of the Eve Appel Mysteries, a series set in rural Florida. Diehl was our featured writer on January 6, 2014.

I’ve set some of my mysteries in other locations, but my favorite place for leaving a body and solving the crime is Florida. I have two series set in rural Florida, and I live among the swamps, canals, cowboys, cattle, horses, turtles, feral pigs and alligators much of the year. Because my home is inland and not on one of Florida’s coasts, I find myself with a different picture of the state and why it is especially suited to bumping off people. I also admit that the Florida most know works well for a mystery setting, just for different reasons. I find Florida writers use Florida in ways writers in other states do not. For my work, as for that of my fellow Florida writers, I find setting inextricably intertwined with plot and character. Here’s how that works:

1.      Lull the reader into the beauty of the beaches and then kill someone

It’s a great place to use the beautiful beaches, waving palm trees, and blue waters in juxtaposition to grisly death. Similarly, a writer can take the reader for a fun ride or adventure in Disney’s paradise and plant a dead body there, perhaps in a teacup ride. There is something so startling about killers in paradise. And something so satisfying about a sleuth who ignores the beauty to take on the case and find the bad guys (and gals). What dedication. We tourists love this sleuth for his or her determination and intelligence. Writers such as Randy Wayne White and James W. Hall create protagonists who are eager to rescue us from the clutches of those who think they are above the law. Along with these crime fighters, we can work up a real mad to think that anyone could ruin the serenity of coastal existence.

2.      Underneath all that beauty lurks ugliness

The state may have been more bug infested and swampy before the developers got here, but paradise comes at a cost. Carl Hiaasen uses rampant destruction of wildlife and habitat to create scenarios that in any other state would be viewed as sheer fantasy. Here, they can happen. Likewise, in Mud Bog Murder, I write about how mud bogging alters the ecosystem. It provides a perfect opportunity to make fictional work relevant to contemporary social, economic and environmental issues.

3.      Beauty and greed make for interesting characters

Take paradise and couple it with overzealous money grubbing and you’ve got the perfect recipe for villains, some so evil we can hardly wait until they get their comeuppance and others so crazy we want them to return to wreak havoc again. Hiaasen gives the latter type of villain free rein in his books, while Tim Dorsey creates characters so unusual that we aren’t sure if they are protagonists or bad guys, but we tolerate their criminal doings book after book. It’s hard to imagine any of the characters in Hiaasen’s and Dorsey’s books living in Vermont or Iowa. Nope. But take beach erosion and a developer eager to accommodate a hotel owner’s need to keep the beach lovely for guests and you’ve got part of the plot for Hiaasen’s newest book especially when the sand comes from Cuba!

4.      There are other places in Florida to hide bodies—better places

Most Florida writers stick to the two coasts and the Florida Keys, and why not? They are lovely places to live and locations familiar to both the residents of Florida, most of whom reside in these places, and the tourists who choose to visit where there is ocean. With the exception of Orlando, home of that famous mouse and his pals, truly a world away from the usual, most areas of Florida inland are rarely visited by tourists and rarely written about by Florida writers. A few of us think the swamps and grazing lands of Florida make perfect places for killing someone and then hiding the body. Because of the large number of alligators, a discarded body can stay hidden forever. You do the math. There’s no juxtaposition of environmental beauty with murder here, only denizens of the swamp waiting for their dinner. This swampy reality is of real benefit to writers like Deborah Sharp whose Mace Bauer series is set in rural Florida and features a protagonist who has grown up in the area, works as an environmental officer and uses an alligator’s head as a coffee table decoration. The latter is an indication of beauty in the eye of the beholder, and readers of the Mace Bauer series will see a lot of this point of view in the characters and the plots of the books.

I allow my characters to embrace rural Florida, although my protagonist is a Yankee who has moved to Florida and adopted the rural setting as her new home. I have taken Eve Appel from a gal who finds the swamps, grasslands, cattle and cowboys alien and somewhat frightening to someone who embraces the unique nature of the place and becomes part of the community, not without difficulty, of course. Learning to live with alligators on the fairways, in the backyard, under the car or on the menu in a restaurant is not accomplished without some strain, and being accepted into a community whose values sometimes run counter to her own has created some bumps along the way for Eve. She’s a spunky gal who’s up to the challenge.

Florida is the perfect place to set a mystery regardless of what part of the state a writer uses as the book’s locale. For more information about the uniqueness of Florida, pick up any local newspaper and read about water pollution, runaway development, dirty politicos and dirty cops—oops, you can find those in any state, sorry; we just do them so much more colorfully here—destruction of habitat, invasion of non-indigenous species other than tourists, and sinkholes. Speaking of sinkholes, I used a large one to hide a still in a book, but I should really consider using one as a place to toss a body. There is no end to what Florida will encourage a writer to conjure up to keep the reader entangled in the story.

Oh, and did I say I write cozy mysteries? Humorous cozy mysteries? Somehow that seems fitting in a state where running into a land developer on the sidewalk may prove as dangerous as an alligator in your pool.

Visit Lesley at www.lesleyadiehl.com and see all her books at www.amazon.com/author/lesleydiehl






Monday, October 3, 2016

Brigitte Moore - Home Sweet Home

It has been said that home is where the heart is. For many, it is the place where they were born and raised, but for St. Petersburg writer Brigitte D. Moore, it was the culmination of a journey that spanned 21 years, an ocean, and two continents. Born in Breslau, which was then part of Germany, Moore was forced to flee with her family during the final throes of WWII. She chronicles the story of her life as a refugee in her memoir, Finding Home – My Journey from Post-War Germany to America.

Moore immigrated to America in 1958. She settled in New York City where she first took a job at Columbia University. Later, she went to work for a German import/export company, rising through the ranks from clerk to Vice-President of Product Development. She also married and had two children. In 1989, after a series of personal tragedies, Moore decided to move to Florida. “I had experienced three deaths three years in a row,” Moore recalls. “I was suffering from burnout and needed a change.”

Moore started writing as a way to communicate with her two grandsons, Christopher and Thomas. “Life during the war was so strange in my mind,” she says. “I wanted to write about it so my grandchildren would know what it was like. I started writing little vignettes after they were born. I planned to make copies and give them to my grandsons. I never planned to write a book.”

Because of the upheaval of life as a refugee, Moore was not able to obtain a formal education. An avid reader, she learned English when she decided to immigrate to America. “I took a few college courses while I was working at Columbia, and I discovered I had a talent for writing,” she says. “In my importer/exporter job, I had to write letters, press releases, ads, brochures, but I didn’t know how to center on a story and find the right flow.”

Fortunately, Moore mentioned her writing to Sunny Fader, a friend who happened to be a writing coach. “When Sunny heard my story, she was impressed,” Moore explains. “She offered to coach me, so I began bringing her my pages. Sunny would make suggestions and I’d re-write. She was a wonderful mentor, and the book would never have happened without her.” According to Fader, “What drew me to help Brigitte, even before I saw her material, was her passion for the project. But it is the subject of her book that kept me enthusiastic. Her book opened a window into a part of World War II history I knew nothing about. Add to that the remarkable grit it took for the young woman to turn around her destroyed life, to make a new future for herself in the United States. It is not surprising that this book resonates with so many people."

Moore hopes Finding Home will help readers understand what the civilian population in Germany went through during those tumultuous war years. “It shows, in a positive way, my struggle to find a place I could call home. I felt I did not belong anywhere, but I had dreams. I wanted to be a teacher, to play the piano. I always wonder what might have been.” 

Moore has been invited to speak about her book and her experiences at many libraries and civic clubs. Encouraged by the positive response to Finding Home, Moore has joined a critique group and is planning to continue her writing. “My spiritual journey began in Florida, and I want to write about that,” she says. “I want readers to see that no matter what life gives you, there is always a way to go on. There are helping hands that reach out to you if you’re open to receive them. Life is beautiful.”


For more information about Finding Home, visit Moore’s website at www.brigittedmoore.wordpress.com

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Love Stories - A Guest Blog by Joanne Lewis

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger, Joanne Lewis. Lewis is the author of two series, the Forbidden Trilogy and Michaelangelo and Me, and three stand-alone novels. Lewis was our featured writer on July 25, 2012.

It is said that everyone has one true love in life, but I have learned this is not true as I have fallen in love many times.

As a child, I was in love with my parents who protected, nurtured and guided me. Dad made up bedtime stories that carried into daytime hours. Mom encouraged me to be brave and try new things: food, activities, and friends. They told me I could achieve anything.

When I was eight years old, I wrote my first book about the weather. I covered two pieces of cardboard with wallpaper, bound the pages together and was thrilled when it was placed in my elementary school library. I fell in love with writing.  

As a pre-teen, my focus became talking on the phone with friends and testing boundaries with authority figures. I was in love with freedom. While a teenager, I read all of Judy Blume’s books, the Nancy Drew series, and many popular novels as well as the classics. I fell madly and irrevocably in love with reading.

In high school, I fell in love with my first boy, or at least I thought it was love. He was wiry and muscular and had a hint of a moustache. I passed notes about him to my friend in history class. I didn’t mind when I was caught and sent to detention. It gave me more time to think about this new kind of love, romantic love.  

After graduating college, I went to law school and became a prosecuting attorney, specializing in sex crimes and child abuse offenses. I fell in love with helping people, especially children.

Years later, I married my high school sweetheart. I fell in love with being someone’s everything. When my husband and I divorced, I was sad and invigorated. I examined who I was and who I wanted to be. I learned to accept myself. I fell in love with me.

As a novelist who has published seven novels, I do not pen traditional love stories yet I have learned something different about love from writing each one.

Forbidden Room, book one of the Forbidden Trilogy, is a murder mystery about Sara, a woman charged with murder, and Michael, the new attorney that represents her. Michael believes in her innocence, but did Sara really do it? It is a novel that questions the meaning of love. Writing Forbidden Room caused me to reevaluate my definition of love.

Forbidden Night, book two of the Forbidden Trilogy, is my latest release. This novel delves further into Sara and Michael’s relationship, and reveals more about the murder and secrets from the past. From writing this novel, I learned that love traverses time and has no boundaries.

Make Your Own Luck is a murder mystery about a young attorney who defies her father to represent a thirteen-year-old girl accused of murder. Writing this novel I learned about unselfish love

The Lantern is a historical novel about a girl in fifteenth century Florence, Italy who dares to compete with the great Renaissance artists. It is a story of the search for truth in art. I fell wildly in love with Michelangelo while writing this novel.

Michelangelo & the Morgue and Sleeping Cupid (books one and two of the Michelangelo & Me series) are historical fantasy novellas. There are three more books to be released in this series in 2017. Writing this series has fortified my love of research and prose.

Wicked Good is the story of a mother and her son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. I wrote this novel with my sister, it brought us closer together and I learned about unconditional love.

I was diagnosed with cancer and am now cancer free. From that experience I fell in love with life.


What are your love stories?

For more information, visit Lewis's website at www.joannelewiswrites.com or her Amazon author page at amazon.com/author/joannelewis,

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sue Kotchman - Written With Love

Susan Kotchman has always had a love for children and books. This was first borne out in her career in education and later in her career as a writer of children’s books with heartwarming stories that teach positive values. Her experiences as a former elementary school teacher and principal, as well as a member of a large family, have given her insight into all kinds of people and behaviors.  She writes about real personalities and actual situations that readers of all ages can relate to, especially children, classroom teachers and parents. 

Kotchman moved to Florida from New York in 1969 with her parents and five siblings. She discovered writing while a student at Seminole High School. “I found my passion for writing during a creative writing class taught by my teacher/coach, Mr. Bennett,” she says. “He inspired my creativity so very much. I wish I had the opportunity to thank him.” She went on to St. Petersburg Junior College before earning bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Florida and later a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Nova University.

Her first assignment was teaching a first grade class. “The students were so full of life and excitement about learning,” she recalls. “I loved watching their faces light up when I read to them, and I think this also pushed me to want to write.” After 17 years of teaching elementary school, Kotchman became a curriculum specialist before becoming assistant principal and finally principal of Madeira Beach Elementary School.

In 2008, something unexpected changed the trajectory of her life. A brain bleed forced her into early retirement. Being a woman of faith, she decided to turn her misfortune into something positive. “I began writing over 20 years ago with dreams of becoming published,” she says. “I always wanted to promote literacy and a love of books.” So Kotchman decided to do this by writing books of her own, books that show children the importance of relationships and learning.  “There are many beautiful books on the market, but there are also many that shouldn’t be in the hands of young children,” she explains. “My books are written with heartwarming stories and incorporate beautiful pictures. They are, so far, realistic fiction.” She purposely chose topics that the average person wouldn’t think were important for elementary-aged children.

Her first book, With Love from Grandma, was written after her mother passed away. She used her daughter as a character. The book’s underlying purpose is to help children learn to cope with grief in a positive way. “There are 2.9 million children being raised by at least one grandparent today,” Kotchman says, “and when they pass, are these youngsters ready to deal with the loss?” The book is currently being used in 23 Pinellas County schools.

With Love from Grandma was followed by a sequel, With Love from Grandpa. This book came about after a request from a former colleague. “A principal friend wanted me to write a childlike book with a more challenging vocabulary for upper-elementary children,” she says. The story follows a grandfather and grandson on a fishing adventure at the beach. According to Kotchman, “I want kids to be able to learn about people by noticing their action, facial expressions and words. I think With Love from Grandpa does all that.”  To help get the concept across, she developed writing activities and discussion topics for teachers to use with their students.

Kotchman’s third book, Sam, tells the story of a little monkey who loves to make children happy and can't refuse their gifts. After trying to please his friends, he learns a valuable lesson about taking care of himself and shares it with them in a special way. Kotchman's newest book, Mason’s This and That Day, (scheduled for release at the end of September, 2016) is about a young boy who is constantly changing his mind and can't seem to stay focused on one project. Kotchman describes her character as “quirky, adorable and so much like many of the students I’ve had experiences with.” Although it is a picture book, it is appropriate for all grades, because, as she explains, “It's a great way to allow the reader to linger on each page and enjoy the artwork, which was done by Linda Cowen.”
   
Kotchman believes that "Life is about relationships and learning new things." She hopes her books will have a positive effect on young readers. “Many people don’t look at the content of books and how they may affect a child’s thinking,” she says. “We must give them books full of stories they can relate to and help them challenge the content with conversation. And you can never discount the importance of a strong value base.”

For more information, go to www.facebook.com/SueKotchmanBooks



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Alyssa Maxwell - Murder in Newport

Newport, Rhode Island, is a study in contrasts. There are the average folks who live and work there year-round. Then there are the “summer people,” the ones who inhabit waterfront mansions and whose names read like the “Who’s Who” of American elite.  Fort Lauderdale writer Alyssa Maxwell captures both worlds in her Gilded Newport Mysteries, a series of historical cozies that give readers an inside look at Newport’s “Gilded Age.”

Maxwell, an avid reader, has enjoyed creating her own stories since she was in elementary school. After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English, she embarked on a career as an editor and ghostwriter. She didn’t think about creative writing until 10 years later when a friend and co-worker had a book published. “I always thought of writers as rock stars,” she says, “but this made me realize that an ordinary person could write a book—with a lot of hard work.”  She began by penning several historical romance novels under a pseudonym. “I wasn’t having the success I wanted,” she recalls. “I found that I was always writing with a mystery/suspense thread, and historical romance readers prefer a more relationship-centered plot. I loved reading mysteries and realized I was a closet mystery writer, so I decided to try my hand at writing one.”

Maxwell admits that learning to write a true mystery was a challenge. Fortunately, she had a friend to help her. “Nancy Cohen (author of the Bad Hair Day Mystery series) worked with me,” she says. “She critiqued my work to see if I left a trail of clues and to make sure everyone had motive, opportunity, and secrets.” Maxwell decided to set her book in Newport because of her lifelong fascination with the city and her husband’s Newport roots. “My husband comes from an old Newport family, and that gave me an insider’s view of what it’s like to live there,” she says. She chose the 1890s because “the Gilded Age is Newport’s most famous period and would give me the most material to work with.” She also admits a fascination for turn-of-the-century gadgets and inventions that find their way into the story.

Murder at the Breakers, the first of the Gilded Newport mysteries, debuted in March, 2014. It introduces 21-year-old Emma Cross, a distant relation to the Vanderbilt family, who finds herself cast in the role of amateur sleuth when her brother is arrested for the murder of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s financial advisor.  “Emma needed to be connected with the Vanderbilts but with local roots so she could move between both worlds,” Maxwell explains. “Everyone sees her as an oddball because she doesn’t really fit into either world. And I wanted her to have an independent streak, so I gave her a feminist aunt loosely inspired by my husband’s great-aunt.” Maxwell was thrilled when Murder at the Breakers hit the USA Today Bestseller List in September, 2014.

Murder at Marble House, the next book in the series, hit bookstores in September, 2014. In it, Emma investigates the murder of a fortune-teller that may be linked to the disappearance of Emma’s cousin. Murder at Beechwood, the third Gilded Newport Mystery, followed in May, 2015. Here, foul play is suspected when a family patriarch goes overboard during a yachting race at the Astor’s Beechwood Estate.

This month will see the release of the fourth Gilded Newport Mystery, Murder at Rough Point, on August 30th. Relatively secluded at the southern end of Bellevue Avenue, Rough Point is reminiscent of Gothic manor houses in the English countryside—the perfect atmosphere for a murder mystery. In it, a band of misfit artists from Europe have gathered at Rough Point for a retreat, and Emma is sent there to write an article for her "Fancies and Fashions" page. Though they call themselves friends, these artists thrive on conflict, and Emma senses they’re hiding something. Added to the mix are her long-absent parents, forcing Emma to face resentments that have been festering these past few years. When one of the artists is found dead at the bottom of a cliff, Emma investigates with the help of her friend, Detective Jesse Whyte. No one is above suspicion, not even her parents.

Maxwell has just finished the fifth book in the series, Murder at Chateau sur Mer, which should release sometime in the summer of 2017. One of her biggest joys in writing this series has been signing books at The Breakers and Marble House in Newport last year. She’ll be in Newport again this fall, once again signing books at the mansions' gift shops and holding a readers’ chat at the Newport Art Museum.

In addition to her Newport mysteries, Maxwell is at work on a series of historical mysteries set in a country manor house in post-WWI England. Called A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries, the books feature two sleuths with very different backgrounds – the granddaughter of an earl and her lady’s maid. Maxwell describes the novels as having “an Upstairs-Downstairs, Downton Abbey aspect.” The first of the series, Murder Most Malicious was released in January 2016, and will be followed by A Pinch of Poison in December 2016. She is about to begin the third book in the series, titled A Devious Death.

Maxwell hopes readers will enjoy a glimpse into the dual worlds of bygone days. “I want readers to have the fun of experiencing how people interacted in those times and to realize that families like the Vanderbilts were people like the rest of us, with the same ambitions, hopes, disappointments and adversity. Most of all, I hope readers will enjoy following the clues and solving the crime – if they can!”


For more information visit the author’s website at www.alyssamaxwell.com