Cozy

Author Profile: Sherry Harris

 

 

Sherry Harris, the author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries, was a proud Air Force wife, picking up everything and relocating every three or four years – each time orders for an assignment to a new base came down. While we can joke about the horror of having to find new hairdressers and decent grocery stores with every change, the toughest part of being part of a military family was moving her daughter from school to school, and giving up her own face-to-face friendships at each re-posting.

 

From our perspective as Sherry Harris readers, there is a definite upside to all that moving. It’s difficult to start or maintain a career with frequent transfers, so Harris turned her love of tag sales (called garage or yard sales in some parts of the country) into a writing career. She answered an ad in a local newspaper for a short story contest, kept writing until it turned into a novel length piece, and later, was encouraged to look for an agent.

 

The quality of her writing ability was proven when “Tagged for Death,” the first in the series, was nominated for an Agatha Award in the Best First Novel category.

 

Sherry Harris’ favorite writing spot is in her office. Her desk faces the window and when she looks out at the trees, she can pretend she lives in the middle of nowhere. When asked whether her writing process is closer to plotter or pantser, she admitted to being more of a pantser, working toward becoming a plotter. Either way, the results are great!

 

Harris has revealed in her book bios that she is a “born bargain hunter,” and has created a fully fleshed out character in the series based on her own expertise and love for the activity. Sarah Winston makes her living organizing tag sales for her customers and Harris includes tips for successful tag sales in the books. I personally have used them in my own garage sales.

 

Harris has followed the writing advice of a favorite thriller writer/instructor (James W. Hall) who feels that people want to learn something and if they do, the books just might keep selling. She attributes the success of cozies in general, to the fact that whether about knitting or cooking or tag sales, cozies contain a mystery along with a lot of information about a specific topic. Fans of that topic will come back for more in book after book.

 

Sherry Harris’ Sarah Winston character is successful in part because Winston is completely relatable. Her emotional struggles to make her own way as a newly single woman are realistic, and her scenes detailing military life ring true. Harris’ storylines peel back the layers of Winston’s battle with feelings about her ex in each book, while delivering great mysteries. The ensemble supporting characters develop as Winston’s association with them grows naturally. I particularly like the nuanced relationships between Sarah and the men in her life, which ebb and flow as Sarah sorts through the consequences of living as an independent woman.

 

When not working on the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries, Sherry Harris blogs with the Wicked Cozies, a New England focused writing group, all talented, published authors. Read their posts at www.wickedcozyauthors.com. Harris is also the current Vice President of the international writing organization, Sisters in Crime, a group that fosters the development of women writers.

 

Sherry Harris Fun fact: Her favorite foods are pizza and popcorn.  🙂

 

 

Read the review of "Tagged for Death" here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the review of "The Longest Yard Sale" here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the review of "A Good Day to Buy" here.

 

 

 

 

 

After reading “A Good Day to Buy,” I counted the months until “I Know What You Bid Last Summer” (book #5) was published and was not disappointed. It’s a terrific entry in the series and is not to be missed. Look for the lasagna subplot, a fun counterbalance to the serious action.

 

Please visit https://sherryharrisauthor.com for information about Harris, her upcoming appearances, and more in the series.

 

 

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“Circle of Influence” and “No Way Home” by Annette Dashofy

 

 

“Circle of Influence” and "No Way Home" by Annette Dashofy, star Zoe Chambers as an EMT, who occasionally doubles as a coroner's assistant when she can stand the smells in the autopsy room.

 

In "Circle of Influence," a routine call to check on a car on the side of the road turns into a murder investigation. The only trouble is the dead guy is her best friend's husband, well-liked and respected in town, and he is sitting in the front seat of a city council guy’s car – a guy hated by almost everyone. Why is her friend dead and why is he sitting in that particular car? 
 

The dead guy's mother works for the police department and is arrested for borrowing a computer from the storeroom. Arrested? Why would the city council bully would do such a thing? What is on that computer? Life gets dangerous, the body count rises, and so does the list of suspects. In the “Circle of Influence” effectively layered storyline, there are secrets galore and we don't know whom to believe. Trust is tough to come by.
 

Dashofy gives us a picture of small-town country living in Pennsylvania. Vance Township is so small that everyone knows where you were and the neighbors ask you about it before you unlock your front door. Vance doesn't even have a coffee shop. The philosophy is that coffee can be brewed at home or at the office- no need to waste money when cash is tight.
 

The core characters in “Circle of Influence” are nicely developed and we really care about what happens to each. Any one of them could be your next-door neighbor, the guy at the grocery store, the cop you see on the street, the maybe boyfriend that gives you pause – in a good way. Zoe Chambers herself, is a flesh and blood gal with a love of country life and horses. Even though not making a big salary as an EMT, Zoe is able to keep a horse of her own by boarding horses for other people. She has a support system, steps on a few toes while investigating, has an eye for detail, aims to improve at her job, and is loyal to her friends.
 

Dashofy’s Zoe Chambers is a great character for a series, so I picked up Agatha nominated “No Way Home,” book #5.

 

Zoe Chambers is out for a ride on her own horse, when a horse from her boarding stable gallops toward her without its owner. You guessed it – the owner is dead. Was it an accident or something else, because the crime scene details don’t add up and the autopsy reveals an unexpected twist.

 

A tricky plot takes Zoe and her sometime best friend to New Mexico in search of more than one truth. Tensions are high as we discover that drug use is on the rise in this southwestern fictional Pennsylvania community set 30 miles from Pittsburgh. Drug paraphernalia at the crime scenes gives the story a grim authenticity.
 

Zoe’s love interest in the series returns, but love is not the central focus of “No Way Home.” Murder, drugs, and mayhem definitely are.
 

Dashofy’s central characters are engaging in "Circle of Influence" and "No Way Home," the plot lines topical, and happily, more books are in the works. “Uneasy Prey,” book #6, is out now.
 

Please visit www.annettedashofy.com to find out more about this award winning and Agatha nominated author.
 

 

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Irish Fiction & Mysteries – 2018

 

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St. Patrick’s Day will be here soon! For those of you that focus your reading on holiday/cultural themed books, the list below features Irish writers, mysteries/suspense set in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day murders, or titles with Irish characters central to the plot. Some are modern classics, some are newbies, but all are entertaining reads. You’re sure to find a story in the list of 33 Irish Fiction & Mysteries – 2018 that you will want to read again and again. (Links included for bold titles)

 

Lisa Alber: “Path into Darkness

Maeve Binchy:  “A Week in Winter

S. Furlong-Bollinger: “Paddy Whacked

Steve Cavanagh: “The Plea

Sheila Connolly: "Many a Twist"

Kathy Cranston: “Apple Seeds and Murderous Deeds

Kathi Daley: “Shamrock Shenanigans

Frank Delaney: "Shannon"

Nelson Demille: “Cathedral”

Tana French: “Broken Harbor

Patricia Gligor: "Marnie Malone"

Alexia Gordon: “Murder in G Major

Andrew Greeley: “Irish Tweed”

Jane Haddam: “A Great Day for the Deadly

Lyn Hamilton: “The Celtic Riddle

Lee Harris: “The St. Patrick's Day Murder

Erin Hart: “The Book of Killowen

Jonathan Harrington: “A Great Day for Dying

Mary Anne Kelly: “Twillyweed

Amanda Lee: “The Long Stitch Good Night

Dan Mahoney: “Once in, Never Out

Brian McGilloway: “Little Girl Lost

Ralph M. McInerny: “Lack of the Irish”

Leslie Meier: “St. Patrick's Day Murder

Stuart Neville: "Ghosts of Belfast”

Carlene O'Connor: "Murder in an Irish Churchyard"

Sister Carol Anne O’Marie: “Death Takes Up a Collection”

Helen Page: "Equal of God"

Louise Phillips: “The Doll’s House

Janet Elaine Smith: “In St. Patrick's Custody”

Patrick Taylor: “An Irish Country Practice

Peter Tremayne: “The Devil’s Seal”

Kathy Hogan Trochek: “Irish Eyes
 

If your favorite Irish Fiction & Mysteries – 2018 titles are not on the list, let me know and I’ll add them!
 

Happy choosing and reading!

 

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Squeaky Clean Romances – 2018

 

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Valentine’s Day will be here soon! Love is in the air, with bouquets of flowers, tasty chocolates, and romantic gestures melting our hearts. The Season of Sighs is upon us.
 

This year, I put out an open call for writers to tell me about their squeaky clean romance novels, novellas, and short stories. There are mysteries with a touch of romance, historical romance, inspirational romance, and more, with links to all the books. Click on the 35 titles to find the 'buy' pages, with information about each story. You will find bestselling authors as well as debut authors.


Isabella Louise Anderson  “Cards from Khloe’s Flower Shop


Ines Bautista-Yao  “When Sparks Fly


Jennifer McCoy Blaske  “Out of My League


Faith Blum  All the Way My Savior Leads


Franky A Brown  What Happened to Romance?”


Bridget Burnett  “U R Missing: Andrea’s Story


Linda Covella  “Yakimali’s Gift


Tamie Dearen   “Best Intentions


Cindy Dorminy  “Left Hanging


Donna Getzinger Driver  “Passing Notes


Marianne Evans  “Bella Natale


Aileen Fish   “Charmed at Christmas: Collection of Sweet Regency Novellas


Beatrice Fishback  “Winter Writerland


Kellie Coates Gilbert  “Sisters


Jennifer Griffith  “My Fair Aussie


Tammy James Hesler  “Mountains of Love


Liwen Ho “Straight to You” part of ‘Taking Chances’ series


Rachel John  “The Start of Us


Stacy Juba  “Fooling Around with Cinderella


Nadine C. Keels  “Inspiring Love: Three Romantic Reads


Christine Kersey  “Illegal Procedure” (Fair Catch Series – sports series)


Nerys Leigh  “The Blacksmith’s Heart


Christina Lorenzen  “The Silvershell Beach Inn


Kay Lyons  “This Little Light: Stone River series
 

Edith Maxwell  "Called to Justice"


Michelle Pennington  “The Trouble with Billionaires


Audrey Rich  “Thinking About Love, Part 2


Christina Rich  “The Negotiated Marriage


C.J. Samuels  “Christmas in Trace Hollow


Margaret Lynette Sharp  “Uncertain Love


Rachel Skatvold  “Guardian of Her Heart


Christy Smith  “Forever and Always


Melanie Snitker  “Finding Grace


Rebecca Talley  “Speak to My Heart


Denitta Ward  “Somewhere Still

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, and as always, Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

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“Bones to Pick” by Linda Lovely

 

Book Cover - Bones to Pick

In Linda Lovely’s, “Bones to Pick,” mourners gather to pay their respects to goat farm owner, Aunt Eva, after the death of her twin sister, Lilly. During the ritual of sharing sweet tea and sympathy, a body is discovered by a snuffling pig. Death at a funeral?
 

Brie Hooker, visiting niece and a vegan chef, wanted to help her beloved aunts, but little did she suspect that murder would be served up along with the goat cheese and the farm fresh eggs. None of which is on her preferred menu. Ever.
 

The discovery of the corpse leads to an opportunity to re-ignite a decades old family feud, because the bones belong to Eva’s long missing husband. Eva is accused of murder. Again. The in-laws have never liked Eva, and now they have proof that she was up to no good all those years before. The plot thickens as the enemy camp seeks its own form of Carolina justice for imagined wrongdoings.
 

Farming is hard work and Lovely enhances “Bones to Pick” with the realities of farm life, interspersed with bodies and the dangerous in-law craziness. The goats still have to be fed, and the eggs still must be collected, even while somebody is guarding the house with rifle in hand.
 

The lively cast of characters includes Paint and Andy (hunky potential boyfriends), questionable law enforcement officers, Mollye (a best friend who always has Brie’s back), and a feisty aunt with an awe inspiring back story. Lovely always sprinkles a few older, intelligent folks in her books, and with “Bones to Pick,” we are treated to Brie’s parents. Brie’s lawyer mother is on speed dial for Eva and the clan, and Brie’s dad is a wannabe writer who likes to come up with ways to hide the bodies (on the page).
 

“Bones to Pick” is decidedly Southern, full of humor, with a down home setting, references to fleas on Blue Tick hounds, and mentions of those icons of the Carolinas: Clemson, and Wake Forest. Plus, since no well-bred Southern woman ever uses uncouth words in polite company, Brie comes up with somewhat acceptable, if surprising alternatives like: ‘you son of a salami, holy Swiss cheese! and what the Feta?’
 

I could never be a vegan, but some of the dishes included in the telling of the tale in “Bones to Pick,” sound mouth-watering and I could see adding them to my own repertoire of vegetable dishes. Stuffed portabella mushrooms, pumpkin brownies with coconut whipped cream, and tomato basil soup? Droolworthy food.

 

Lovely includes dedicated meat eaters in her well-plotted story, which makes for mostly friendly bickering around the table between the two food camps. Whether you’re on Team Meat & Cheese or Team Vegan, there’s plenty to like about “Bones to Pick.” I’m looking forward to the next installment of this new chef in the mystery world, but leave the bacon on the table for me, please.

 

Contains mild, adult language.

 

Please visit www.lindalovely.com for more information about Linda Lovely and her other entertaining series.

 

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The Agatha Awards for 2017 Books

 

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The winners for the Agatha Awards for 2017 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The awards were bestowed upon mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference in late April, 2018. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2017.
 

The Agatha Awards recognize the "traditional mystery," meaning that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the writing. Thrillers or hard-boiled detectives cannot be found here, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.
 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red).  🙂

 

Best Contemporary Novel 
“Death Overdue: A Haunted Library Mystery” by Allison Brook
“A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery” by Ellen Byron
“No Way Home: A Zoe Chambers Mystery” by Annette Dashofy
“Take Out” by Margaret Maron
“Glass Houses: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel” by Louise Penny

 

Best Historical Novel 
“In Farleigh Field” by Rhys Bowen
“Murder in an English Village: A Beryl and Edwina Mystery” by Jessica Ellicott
“Called to Justice: A Quaker Midwife Mystery” by Edith Maxwell
“The Paris Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery” by Susan Elia MacNeal
“Dangerous to Know: A Lillian Frost and Edith Head Novel” by Renee Patrick

 

Best First Novel 
“Adrift: A Mer Cavallo Mystery” by Micki Browning
“The Plot is Murder: Mystery Bookshop” by V.M. Burns
“Hollywood Homicide: A Detective by Day Mystery” by Kellye Garrett
“Daughters of Bad Men” by Laura Oles
“Protocol: A Maggie O'Malley Mystery” by Kathleen Valenti

 

Best Nonfiction 
“From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon” by Mattias Boström
“The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books” by Martin Edwards
“American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land” by Monica Hesse
“Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction” by Jess Lourey  

“Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier” by Tatiana de Rosnay
 

Best Short Story 
“Double Deck the Halls” by Gretchen Archer
“Whose Wine is it Anyway” by Barb Goffman in 50 Shades of Cabernet
“The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s Place” by Debra Goldstein in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017)
“The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn” by Gigi Pandian
“A Necessary Ingredient” by Art Taylor in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Seat

 

Best Children’s/Young Adult 
“City of Angels” by Kristi Belcamino
“Sydney Mackenzie Knocks 'Em Dead” by Cindy Callaghan
“The World’s Greatest Detective” by Caroline Carlson
“Audacity Jones Steals the Show” by Kirby Larson
“The Harlem Charade” by Natasha Tarpley


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Happy Reading!

 

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Top Eleven Reviews – 2017

 

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Tons of great books, soooo many talented authors, and oodles of dedicated booklovers, all combined to make 2017 a great year of reading entertainment. Whether discovering a new author, or returning to a tried and true favorite, the NBR community interest was over 30% greater than the previous most popular year.

 

Although not included in the 'Top Eleven Reviews – 2017' book list, the 2017 author profiles (Edith Maxwell, Liz Mugavero, Barbara Ross, Lynn C. Willis) were extremely popular and we’ll have more during 2018. Click on their names – links to books included.

 

Why Top Eleven? There is a debut magazine in the list, very well received by the NBR audience.  🙂

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author (except for the magazine and the ‘Killer Thrillers’), click on the links to read the reviews for the first time, or to enjoy them again.

 

“Black Cat Mystery Magazine” debut issue short mystery fiction   https://bit.ly/2yrYX5F

 

“Killer Thrillers for the Beach”  (seven thriller authors, ten titles)     https://bit.ly/2hNTJJX

 

“Cat About Town” by Cate Conte    https://bit.ly/2ilMj0K

 

“Grilled for Murder” by Maddie Day   https://bit.ly/2oKW36H

 

“The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni    https://bit.ly/2hCYpT0

 

“I like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around” by Ann Garvin   https://bit.ly/2uhL8V5

 

“A Good Day to Buy” by Sherry Harris   https://bit.ly/2gNFTYb

 

“Dry Bones” by Craig Johnson    https://bit.ly/2kVtKgu

 

“What She Knew” by Gilly Macmillan    https://bit.ly/2jcgbvS

 

“Custom Baked Murder” by Liz Mugavero    https://bit.ly/2lqSf8C

 

“Relic” by Fiona Quinn   https://bit.ly/2q7m1yH

 

Many thanks everyone! May 2018 bring you lots of love and laughter, along with some thumpin’ great new reads.  🙂

 

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