Agatha

Author Profile: Edith Maxwell

 

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Edith Maxwell writes award-winning short stories, has several series of full-length mysteries out and has been nominated for Agatha Awards in both the Short Story and Historical Fiction categories for this year’s Malice Domestic mystery conference. At this writing, she has eleven published novels since 2012 under the names Tace Baker, Maddie Day, and Edith Maxwell, with #12 due out next month. She is working on three more to be published in the near future. She is the one of the most prolific traditionally published authors I know and she is loving all of it!

 

I first met Edith at a Writers Police Academy conference in the Fall of 2012. At the time, she had just published her first Lauren Rousseau title, “Speaking of Murder,” as Tace Baker. I was hooked by the intelligent, worldly, complex female lead character. She attended WPA in order to research police procedure, and also gathered tons of information about firefighters and EMS personnel that she might use in future novels.

 

While following her career the last few years, it’s become apparent that solid research underpins all her books. Happily, combined with her own personal experiences, the result is richly developed backgrounds and storylines.

 

For the Country Store series, Maxwell took a trip to Indiana in order to investigate the setting, special southern Indiana phrasing (“I can’t eat another bite ’cause I’m as full as a tick”), and foods specific to the region. As it happens, she was also returning to the area of her grad school days and the site of a university packed with her own Maxwell family history. Friends of hers in the grad program had restored an old country store and turned it into a restaurant and bed & breakfast, the basis for Robbie Jordan’s ‘Pans ‘N Pancakes’ establishment in the series. In addition, Maxwell loves to cook and there are virtual cooking lessons woven throughout the stories as well as yummy recipes to be found.

 

Fun fact: my mom had an amazing collection of antique cookware, so when Robbie chats about the vintage pieces in her store, I can see the tools in my mind’s eye. Maxwell/Day’s details? Wonderful!

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The Local Foods series features an organic farmer as the lead character, and guess what? Edith ran her own small certified organic farm for a few years and that expertise infuses the series with effortless realism. Readers can pick up tips about what it takes to grow produce organically, both the pitfalls and the plusses, while enjoying the cleverly crafted mysteries.

 

The Quaker Midwife series is a project close to Edith’s heart. She is a Quaker herself and some of the history and the daily practices of the Society of Friends have found their way into this series. Maxwell now lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts where the books are set, and the local history influenced her short story writing. One of the short stories became the impetus for a 19th c. midwife character. Rose Carroll, the Quaker midwife, is perfectly placed to be a sleuth, since she gets to go where men (and the police) can’t in 1888, and hears all kinds of secrets that help solve the crimes. Beautifully written, “Delivering the Truthis well-deserving of the Agatha historical mystery nomination this year.

 

Click on the link to check out Maxwell’s YouTube video of a walking tour of Amesbury, Massachusetts. Maxwell is wearing an authentic self-made 1888 dress and bonnet while she conducts the tour and chats about the sites mentioned in “Delivering the Truth.” What a fun and terrific way to launch a series!

https://youtu.be/D-1BKTI9-f8 

 

Plus, as Maddie Day, Edith has a new cozy foodie mystery series, Cozy Capers Book Group, set on Cape Cod. “Murder on Cape Cod will be the first title launched in 2018. The lead character runs a bicycle repair and rental shop and hosts a weekly cozy mystery book group. My dad’s family came from the Cape, and I’m looking forward to reading Maxwell/Day’s take on the region.

 

So, how does she keep up this writing pace and still maintain the quality in her books? First, she is doing what she loves. She has a writing schedule for each day – mornings are the best for her – but when a deadline looms, she sometimes goes away for a few days on retreat. She turns off the internet so that there are no distractions at all and she can write from dawn ‘til midnight if she needs to. When slipping away to a retreat, Maxwell likes to take along comfy clothes, walking shoes, a laptop, a favorite pen, and an actual paper notebook. Oh, and of course, wine and dark chocolate.  :-)

 

Maxwell writes traditional mysteries with absorbing puzzles to solve, and appealing characters that engage us on every page. With strong female leads, fascinating details, and multi-layered plots, this is an author we want to follow, wherever (or whenever) she leads us.

 

Book Cover - A Tine to Live A Tine to Die

 

Read the review of “A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die,” (Local Foods series) here.

 

 

 

 

 


Book Cover - Grilled for Murder

 

Read the review of “Grilled for Murder,” (Country Store series) here (written as Maddie Day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Cover - Delivering the Truth

 

 

Read review of “Delivering the Truth” (Quaker Midwife series) here:-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Delivering the Truth" has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery. And “The Mayor and the Midwife” has been nominated for an Agatha for Best Short Story. Read the short story here.


Edith Maxwell is a member of the Wicked Cozy Authors, the New England gals that share writing advice and their own experiences every week at www.wickedcozyauthors.com. She also writes with Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors.

For more information about Ms. Maxwell and her many projects, please visit www.edithmaxwell.com

 

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Photo "Writer" taken by Patti Phillips

Other photos provided by Edith Maxwell

 

 

The Agatha Awards for 2016 Books

 

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The winners for the Agatha Awards for 2016 (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The awards were bestowed upon mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference on April 29, 2017. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2016.

 

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.

 

Click on the author’s name for more information about the book and the rest of the author’s work. The winners are indicated in red. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!  :-)

 

Best Contemporary Novel

“Body on the Bayou” by Ellen Byron
“Quiet Neighbors” by Catriona McPherson
“A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny
“Fogged Inn” by Barbara Ross
“Say No More” by Hank Phillippi Ryan

 

Best Historical Novel

“Whispers Beyond the Veil” by Jessica Estevao
“Get Me to the Grave on Time” by D.E. Ireland
“Delivering the Truth” by Edith Maxwell
“The Reek of Red Herrings” by Catriona McPherson
“Murder in Morningside Heights” by Victoria Thompson

 

Best First Novel

“Terror in Taffeta” by Marla Cooper
“Murder in G Major” by Alexia Gordon
“The Semester of Our Discontent” by Cynthia Kuhn
“Decanting a Murder” by Nadine Nettmann
“Design for Dying” by Renee Patrick

 

Best Short Story

"Double Jinx: A Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper Short Story" by Gretchen Archer

"The Best-Laid Plans" by Barb Goffman in Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional

"The Mayor and the Midwife" by Edith Maxwell in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016

"The Last Blue Glass" by B.K. Stevens in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

"Parallel Play" by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning

 

Please visit www.malicedomestic.org for the nominations and winners in the Non-Fiction and Children/YA categories for the Agatha Awards for the 2016 books.

 

 

Time to get reading. Enjoy!  :-)

 

 

 

“Just Killing Time” by Julianne Holmes

 

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Ruth Clagan’s grandfather, a clockmaker, dies during a robbery in “Just Killing Time” and leaves his Massachusetts clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket, to her. A rift between them caused by her ex has kept her away from the Berkshires for five years and now she has been robbed of a chance to reconnect. Why would anyone do this to a lifelong member of the community?

 

To complicate matters, the business is a puzzle, the shop is a mess and Ruth must deal with the oddly massive inventory as well as her grandfather’s widow. It makes sense to sell the Cog & Sprocket and get on with her life, but does Ruth really want to? Why did her grandfather have so much inventory? Could it be the reason he was killed?

 

“Just Killing Time” is complete with small town politics, reunions with old friends, and beautifully written dialogue that makes you feel as if you could join the conversation and fit right in. The wonderfully diverse cast of characters made me yearn for the days of small towns and friendly neighborhoods, where everybody knows your name. There is a real connection to the past with Orchard’s grandfather clocks and clock towers and small businesses on Main Street. Ahhh… life as it used to be outside the metropolitan areas of the country, before big box stores and fast food joints.

 

I connected immediately with Ruth, a fellow coffee addict. 😉 Julianne Holmes’ richly drawn Clagan clicks as a character trying to begin again, sorting through her life’s complications, but adapting as she sees alternate paths to follow. How many of us are given the opportunity to go back home to something familiar when life has taken an unexpected turn? And this clockmaker is always late? A giggle of a quirk.

 

We learn a great deal about the fascinating world of clocks – how they function and what makes the business model succeed in a time where digital seems to rule our lives. Grandfather’s repair specialty was clock towers, which require a tremendous amount of skill to maintain. Coincidentally, I saw a TV show about Big Ben (the clock tower in London) at the time I had started reading “Just Killing Time.” There’s more to its operation than climbing the steps to wind the clock or replace the parts. Wind can catch at the hands, pulling at them and slowing down the time. Minute changes in the atmosphere can affect the clock time. When I picked up “Just Killing Time” again, I found that it wove technical information in with the clever plot, giving us a clear understanding of why the Clagans love the business they’re in.

 

The layered storyline in this Agatha nominated debut novel involves possible fraud, people with hidden agendas, a tug-of-war between those that want a more modern town and those who wish to create an historic district. Happily, there is the potential for a little romance with a suitably hunky barber. “Just Killing Time” also includes some deviously nasty characters who will do anything to get what they want, including murder.

 

The second book in the series, “Clock and Dagger,” has recently been released and you should make time to read both.

 

Please visit www.jahennrikus.com for more information about Julianne Holmes and her alter ego, J.A. Hennrikus.

 

 

10 of the Best Books of the Past Year-2016 update

 

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…and the prize goes to…

 

Readers all over the world choose their next book based on the award winners announced by various organizations during the recent year. Here is a list of ten popular awards for recent novels in the adult category to receive applause and/or rave reviews from colleagues in the genre or from readers who loved the books.

 

Have you read any books on the list? If so, let us know what you enjoyed about them in the comment section. 

 

Agatha Award given to mystery and crime writers, in 2015 cozy subgenre:

“Long Upon the Land” by Margaret Maron

 

Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction 2016:

“The Five Times I Met Myself” by James L. Rubart

 

Edgar Allen Poe Award awarded by the Mystery Writers of America 2016:

“Let Me Die in His Footsteps” by Lori Roy

 

Goodreads Choice Awards chosen by readers 2015:

“Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee

 

Hugo Awards awarded for the best Science Fiction or Fantasy 2016:

“The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

 

Macavity Award given to favorite 2015 mystery by Mystery Readers International:

“The Killer Next Door” by Alex Marwood

 

Man Booker Prize literary prize for best 2015 novel translated to English language:  “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith

 

National Book Award for fiction given to U.S. authors 2015:

“Fortune Smiles: Stories” by Adam Johnson

 

Nebula Awards presented by Science Fiction Writers for 2015 work:

“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

 

Pulitzer Prize in Literature administered by Columbia University 2016:

“The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen

 

Congratulations to all the winners!  :-)

 

 

 

The Agatha Awards for 2015

 

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The winners for the 2015 Agatha Awards (named for Agatha Christie) have been  announced. The awards were given to mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference in April/May, 2016. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2015.

 

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 need not apply, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.

 

The 2015 nominees are presented below, with the winners indicated in red:

Best Contemporary Novel

Annette Dashofy, “Bridges Burned”
Margaret Maron, “Long Upon the Land”
Catriona McPherson, “The Child Garden”
Louise Penny, “Nature of the Beast”
Hank Phillipi Ryan, “What You See”

 

Best Historical Novel

Rhys Bowen, “Malice at the Palace”
Susanna Calkins, “The Masque of a Murderer”
Laurie R. King, “Dreaming Spies”
Susan Elia Macneal, “Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante”
Victoria Thompson, “Murder on Amsterdam Avenue”

 

Best First Novel

Tessa Arlen, “Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman”
Cindy Brown, “Macdeath”
Ellen Byron, “Plantation Shudders”
Julianne Holmes, “Just Killing Time”

Art Taylor, “On the Road with Del and Louise”

 

Best Short Story

Barb Goffman, “A Year Without Santa Claus?”  (Alfred Hitchcock MM)
Edith Maxwell, “A Questionable Death” (History & Mystery, Oh My)
Terri Farley Moran, “A Killing at the Beausoleil”  (Ellery Queen MM)
Harriette Sackler, “Suffer the Poor” (History & Mystery, Oh My)
B.K. Stevens, “A Joy Forever” (Alfred Hitchcock MM)

 

Click on the link to see the nominees and winners for Best Non-Fiction and Best Children’s/YA. http://www.malicedomestic.org/agathaawards.html

 

As usual with the Agatha Awards, there were many strong writers in competition with each other, so choosing a winner was tough. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

Give yourself a treat and choose your next read(s) from the list! :-)

 

 

 

 

 

The Agatha Awards for 2014

 

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The nominees for the 2014 Agatha Awards (named for Agatha Christie) were announced earlier in the year and the awards were given to mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference on May 2, 2015. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2014.

 

This is one of my favorite book awards, because the Agatha Awards recognize the "traditional mystery," meaning in general that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the novels. This is not the platform for thrillers or hard-boiled detectives, but instead, there is more emphasis on a puzzle to be solved. And, I do love a puzzle.

 

The 2014 nominees and winners (noted in red):

Best Contemporary Novel:
The Good, The Bad and The Emus by Donna Andrews (Minotaur Books)
A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur Books)
Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing)

 

Best Historical Novel:
Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
Wouldn't it Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland (Minotaur Books)
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)

 

Best First Novel:
Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris (Kensington Publishing)
Finding Sky by Susan O'Brien (Henery Press)
Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley Prime Crime)
Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink)

 

Best Nonfiction:
400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga (Quill Driver Books)
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey by Hank Phillippi Ryan, Editor (Henery Press)
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice by Kate Flora (New Horizon Press)
The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Books)
The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates (Overlook Hardcover)

 

Best Short Story:
"The Odds are Against Us" (PDF) by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014
"Premonition" by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays (Wildside Press)
"The Shadow Knows" by Barb Goffman, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays (Wildside Press)
"Just Desserts for Johnny" (PDF) by Edith Maxwell (Kings River Life Magazine)
"The Blessing Witch" (PDF) by Kathy Lynn Emerson, Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave (Level Best Books)

 

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower (ZonderKidz)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books)
Uncertain Glory by Lea Wait (Islandport Press)
The Code Buster's Club, Case #4: The Mummy's Curse by Penny Warner (Egmont USA)
Found by Harlen Coben (Putnam Juvenile)

 

I've read a few of the titles on the list and was delighted to meet many of the nominees and winners at the Malice Domestic Conference. There were many strong books in competition with each other, so choosing a winner was tough. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

What a great group of writers and mystery fans!   smiley

 

 

 

 

 

“Kneading to Die” by Liz Mugavero

 

Book Cover - Kneading To Die copy

‘Stan’ (short for Kristan) Connor leaves Hartford, Connecticut after being unfairly downsized from her high paying, high pressure PR job. It’s time to take a breather from the fast lane and move her life in a different direction. When she arrives at her newly purchased Victorian in Frog Ledge, a town so small that everybody knows your business before you say hello for the first time, she knows she is home.

 

Her boyfriend doesn’t agree, and pressures her to get another job ASAP before she regrets her decision. Plus, he’s not happy about the commute to see her. He keeps trying to arrange job interviews for her, despite her protests. Not needed, not wanted. She has two years severance pay, after all. This pair is definitely not on the same page.

 

Stan soon finds herself in a fix when she visits the obnoxious town vet with her Maine coon, Nutty. The vet is dead; kibble sprinkled over her body, and hardly anybody misses her. Stan is a suspect in the murder, just because she found the body. Well, small town people do have to blame the outsiders, don’t they?  😉

 

As Kristan seeks to clear herself in “Kneading to Die,” she finds it hard to know whom to trust. Even her childhood friend, an animal rescuer and now the owner of Pet’s Last Chance, Nikki Manning, comes under suspicion as the case unfolds. But, then Nikki delivers some inside info about the deceased and a possible motive for the vet’s death.

 

Colorful characters (and suspects) abound, including alpaca farmers/bed & breakfast owners, a sweetshop owner, dairy farmers, gossipy townspeople, long-lost relatives, a homeopathic vet, and more.

 

Kristan bakes healthy treats for pets, made from scratch like people cookies, but without the additives usually found in commercial cat and dog food. One of my mother’s cats suffered with clumps of hair falling out, traced back to his completely canned diet. As soon as mom put him on a diet of home cooked fish and other fresh goodies, the condition cleared up. Mugavero is definitely onto something with this aspect of “Kneading to Die,” and has generously included recipes for dog and kitty treats at end of the book.

 

The hunky potential love interest, Jake McGee, owns a seemingly untrainable, sloppy, big dog that loves Stan’s treats and shows up on her doorstep at odd hours, waiting to get fed. The dog keeps throwing Kristan and Jake together, at times embarrassing them both.

 

The underlying theme of this dog-and-cat-filled cozy is advocacy for animals. Mugavero weaves the nasty side of pet sales, abandoned animals, questionable veterinarian policies, badly prepared pet food, etc. into the murder plotline and raises awareness of the real-life issues involved. Fortunately, the unpleasant side of the pet industry is balanced with the warm, caring behavior of the assorted animal lovers in “Kneading to Die.”

 

P.S. If you’ve ever owned a cat or a dog, you’ll find the descriptions of the animals in “Kneading to Die” hilarious and spot-on. I was checking a detail at the beginning of the book and reread about Nutty’s tail delivering opinions – still sooo funny. Mugavero clearly knows her animals.

 

“Kneading to Die” is the first book in Pawsitively Organic series, and happily, Kristan Connor will be back in the next.

 

Please visit www.lizmugavero.com for information about this debut author.