BLOG TOUR – Vangie Vale & the Murdered Macaron – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

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4 out of 5 stars.

Today I’m pleased to be bringing you the latest stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Vangie Vale & the Murdered Macaron by R.L. Syme. This was a delightful book to read and I enjoyed it. Stay tuned for an interview with the author after the review.

** Update 8/7/17 ** Yesterday I still didn’t feel well, so updates to the post had to wait until today, but I’m happy to report that we now have more formatting, purchase links, a link to the item on Goodreads, and links to the author’s sites, plus graphics to help break up the text. Thank you for being patient as I dealt with my migraine and the aftermath.

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Synopsis

Small towns and gossip go together like flaky crust and sweet pastry cream. Between the police scanners, social media, and the senior center, it’s like a zombie apocalypse where they consume people’s secrets instead of living flesh. But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar…especially the police radar.

So when her new bakery becomes linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body. Can’t have that.

Forced back into the role of investigator, this newly-arrived-in-town part-time bakery owner has to become the very thing she hates–a nosy, small-town gossip–in order to clear her good name, and keep her face off the front page. But when a date-gone-wrong brings her face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can’t ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find out who-dun-it.

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Review

As I said above, the book was a delightful read and I enjoyed it. I like our main character, Vangie. Sometimes she drove me a little nuts because she had a tendency to put herself into situations that held the possibility of danger without really thinking too much, but she didn’t do that often, so I didn’t get too annoyed by it.

I had mixed feelings about most of the supporting characters throughout the book. As we got more into the back story of the town and its people, I understood the characters motivations better and started to like some of them more, but there were enough red herrings in this book that I was suspicious of most of the townspeople and characters until the villain was actually revealed.

The plot line moved along at a steady and somewhat quick pace, though it wasn’t so quick that you couldn’t keep up. This was a fun read and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good whodunit.

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Interview

First, let me say a huge thank you to R.L. Syme for being willing to answer my questions.

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1) Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?

I don’t. I’m lucky enough to be able to write full-time. I love it. I used to have non-writing jobs, though, and I’ve done so many different jobs, mostly in the nonprofit arena. Theater, music, church, youth, restaurants… all great experiences for me to take from in the writing.

2) Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

I write every day. Pretty much during the same hours every day, too, unless I’m on deadline, and then I’ll probably write more. I usually try to write a specific number of hours, rather than a word count. That way I know I’ll always get it done.

3) When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

With Vangie, I definitely feel like the story was hers, and she took over. It might be because I feel like I know her so well, I can predict what she does. I love knowing a character that well.

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4) How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

I definitely went through a lot of rejections first. I never thought about quitting before…I’ve thought about quitting after. Lol. It’s definitely hard work. But I love it. To keep myself hopeful, I try to focus on the characters and the story I’m telling. I want to see them get their justice or their happy ending.

5) In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

Macaron went through three pretty major revisions. Normally, I don’t do that many, but this book has a lot of moving parts. I have two editors and several beta readers, and they are so helpful. I definitely set the book aside after every draft or every read-through. I like it to be fresh when I look at it.

6) A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

The thing I love about mystery is that the villain is usually someone who has a really good reason for doing what they did. They just got desperate. I think that’s what I like so much. I get to sort of write normal people who just get carried away because they want something so much. I think that’s what makes mystery so interesting.

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7) Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?

My characters are definitely fictional. I try to make them as real as I can, so I almost always have pieces of something familiar in them, but I never write a one-to-one correlation of a person. I don’t think it’s fair to try to tell someone’s story so completely like that. But I also want them to feel real.

8) If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?

That’s a great question. I’ve always wanted to do non-fiction, about TS Eliot. In fact, I worked on a fiction book about TS Eliot for a long time, but it never quite came to fruition. But there’s always a chance I will go back to that idea someday. I love TS Eliot.

9) What are some great books you’ve read recently?

I’m just finishing a re-read of Tana French’s The Likeness, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve read all of her Dublin Murder Squad books, and I think they’re my favorite series out right now.

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10) What books have influenced your life the most?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say The Bible, just because of my religious background. But in addition to that, I’ve been reading thriller and mystery for so long, I’d have a big list of those, as well. Nancy Drew would be up there, and Dean Koontz. John Grisham. But then, additionally, I was an English major, so I’ve read all the classics, and those have influenced me a lot, as well. Poetry, too. Eliot and Hopkins most notably.

11) If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

It would absolutely be Derek Hobson. And I’d be okay with just riding on his bike. Although maybe a little B&E, too…. #sigh

12) Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

I usually don’t respond to reviews. I did once, on one of my very first books, and I learned from the experience that it’s not my job to tell readers what they did and didn’t experience during my books. I’ve learned that I have to be really okay with putting the book out into the world and letting people think what they’re going to think. Not everyone will like every book, and reviews are supposed to help readers find the books they will and won’t like. As a good friend says, reviews are for readers, not for authors.

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Thanks so much for having me!

And THANK YOU for being willing to answer my questions today!! 🙂

Author’s Links

 

If you wish to follow the rest of the blog tour, click on the banner below and it will take you to the main tour page with the schedule of blogs!

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Blog Tour – Treble at the Jam Fest – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

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4.5 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m happy to be bringing you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Treble at the Jam Fest by Leslie Budewitz! Treble at the Jam Fest is the fourth book in the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series by Leslie Budewitz and it’s just as good, if not better than the three before it!

I apologize for the delay, I got my dates mixed up and thought this post was to go up tomorrow, the 11th!

Book Cover: Treble at the Jam Fest - A Food Lovers' Village Mystery by Leslie Budewitz - background has a country music stage with guitars, double bass, and drum set - Foreground has a table with jam for sale, a pitcher of lemonade and two cats sitting on the ground

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Synopsis

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident—or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

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Review

I really enjoyed this latest installment of the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series. I love the main characters anyway. I find that even tho’ Erin can’t stop herself from asking questions and talking to people and getting herself in danger, she’s not doing things haphazardly. She thinks about what she’s doing and if she thinks it’s going to be dangerous, she gets someone to go with her most of the time. Adam’s wonderful and I enjoyed meeting his friend, Tanner, in this book. I hope we’re able to see more of him!

The settings in these books always make me think that maybe I want to move to Montana. Then I come to my senses and remember that I’m very much at home right here in Michigan! The settings are always exquisitely described and yet, they’re not overly flowery descriptions. They’re just right for the series.

The plot line moved along steadily and was fun. I enjoyed both the mystery plot and the sub-plot in this installment. I did not know who the villain really was until the end when it was revealed. I had wondered about the person a couple of times, but I was never certain. The prose flowed well and everything was well-written.

I highly recommend this book and the rest of the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series by Leslie Budewitz. Read them all, you’ll not be disappointed!

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this title. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

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Thank you for joining me today on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Treble at the Jam Fest by Leslie Budewitz! Click on the banner below to be taken to the tour page where you can find links to the rest of the sites on the tour!

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