I usually love this series. I usually devour the new installments in a day or two. But this time, this time the book was not my cup of tea (pun intended).
Let me say first that while it wasn’t to my liking, this book is still very well-written. The plot line is thought out, the characters always have depth and are well-rounded. There are red herrings and plenty of suspects to guess from. That’s why I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.
However, having said that, I really didn’t like this installment. It felt too “dark” for a cozy mystery. Cozies often have multiple murders, but they don’t usually feature a killer who seemingly just likes to kill. So many murders just in the first several chapters. It just put a “dark” mood on the whole book. There was also more suspense than usual in a cozy mystery. Now Laura Childs’ books sometimes have more suspense but this seemed more than usual even for her books. The combination of those two things just made this an uncomfortable read that did not resonate with me.
That doesn’t mean I won’t read the next Tea Shop Mystery. I still enjoy the series!! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read this book. It’s very well-written and should be read, especially if you like this series!
About the Author
In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.
Thank you for joining me today on this Great Escapes Blog Tour! If you wish to visit other spots along the tour, please click the graphic below and you’ll be taken to the blog tour page!
Welcome! Today’s Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour is for The Vanished Bride of Northfield House by Phyllis M. Newman. Ms. Newman was gracious enough to provide a guest post for my blog today. I’ll provide information about the book and the rafflecopter giveaway after the guest post! Enjoy!
WRITING – ONE STEP AT A TIME
It’s a bad day when the only thing I’ve written is a grocery list!
Most authors have been warned not to wait until ‘the mood strikes’ to create. The general consensus in the writing community is that waiting is a surefire way to never get anything accomplished. To avoid this, I follow the practice of writing every day, even if it is only for twenty minutes. (Truthfully, I have sometimes done my most interesting work during these short spurts!)
I sit at the computer and compose daily, even if I have no clear ideas or goals about my project. I might start with penning interesting scenes, unusual characters and their interaction with others, or descriptions of places. I love to create mood, intrigue, or romantic interludes. When I do this, it leads me to an idea for the plot, then another. This is always fun for me, to see where just fooling around takes me.
But once I have started a project, I find myself thinking of my story and my characters all the time. I keep a small notebook with me to jot down ideas, words, and phrases that I will want to use. Younger writers will no doubt use their phones or other electronic devices for this purpose (I have never gotten beyond the pure pleasure of writing cursive, pen in hand, on paper.)
And I also go to group …
If you want to develop your very best work, you do it with the help of a group! Creditable writing that resonates with the reader is done best with the assistance of a dedicated writing group.
I belong to a merry little band of colleagues called Company of Writers, who go well beyond grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure in making corrections and recommendations. They communicate what they see (or, often, don’t see) in the mood, arc of the story, conflict, plot and character development.
I don’t always see it their way, or take all of their advice, but they encourage me and spur me on to thinking through trouble spots I don’t even notice. I work harder and better with their advice and support. They take my rough stones and polish them into real gems.
My reward for my daily effort and the assistance of Company of Writers is a finished manuscript, THE VANISHED BRIDE OF NORTHFIELD HOUSE. And you can bet that sometime today I will sit down and see where my minimum of 20 minutes takes me next!
England, 1922 Times are hard. Anne Chatham is a clever, modest young woman with little money, no prospects for marriage, and a never-shared secret—she can see spirits.
Anne finds employment as a typist at Northfield House, the grand country manor of the Wellington family. Her employer, the wheelchair-bound Mr. Wellington, is kindly. His haughty wife is not. He has two handsome sons, the wry and dashing Thomas and the dark and somber Owen.
Anne feels sure her prayers have been heard. Until the terrifying night, she stumbles upon a tortured spirit roaming the dark halls of Northfield, a spirit that only she can see.
In a search for answers, she finds herself drawn to Owen as they unearth a tragic story from the Wellington family’s past—a beautiful young bride gone missing on her wedding day.
Then tragedy strikes again on the night of a glittering masquerade ball…
Phyllis M Newman turned to writing mysteries after a career in finance and human resources. She lives in Columbus, Ohio in a big house with a weed-filled yard, three strong-willed cats, and a husband that’s easy on the eyes.
Welcome! Today I’m featuring an interview with author Vicki Vass as part of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Dressed to Kill. Dressed to Kill is the 5th book in the Antique Hunters Mystery series. A synopsis, purchase links, and Rafflecopter giveaway links will be below the interview!
Thank you to Ms. Vass for being willing to answer my questions and complete the interview!
Q1: 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?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: Yes, I have a day job. I am the managing editor of a peer-reviewed medical journal. I actually hate my job currently and am actively seeking a new one.
Q2: 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?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: Yes, I set the evening aside during the week. I strive to write 2 pages every weekday and 10 pages each weekend day. I love to write when listening to music or other things. I am watching the Cubs right now as I type.
Q3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reins” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: I do not outline. I rather write and try to figure things out as it goes. Sometimes the characters have their own ideas of what should happen. My books combine history and fiction so it can be challenging keeping it real.
Q4: 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?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: I’ve been in the publishing field for a long time writing nonfiction for a variety of publications. I was very lucky when I submitted my first cozy that I did not have any rejections. It was accepted by the first publisher I submitted to. I’ve never thought of quitting as rejection is very common in my field. I’ve received so many rejections for nonfiction that I once thought about papering my wall with them.
Q5: 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?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: I generally write three to four drafts. The first version tends to be more of an outline and then I flesh it out. I have a few beta readers and also an editor who I rely on to read and check for plot and characterization. I do not set the books aside for a time other than when my beta readers are reading and I’m waiting for their feedback.
Q6: 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?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: Writing evil can sometimes be so much more fun than writing good. It allows me to get rid of my own inner demons. I work with some pretty demanding people and often picture them when I am crafting my villains.
Q7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: My antique hunter series is based on my two real-life best friends. They’ve evolved since the first book so it is not quite based so much on reality but I still stay true to their personalities though greatly exaggerated.
Q8: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: This is a very difficult question. I have a deep love for history. I would probably choose Anastasia Romanov. I find the whole period of history and the loss of the Romanov dynasty intriguing. I also love looking at the crown jewels.
Q9: What are some great books you’ve read recently?
I recently finished Radium Girls, a book about the women who worked in the radium factories back in the 1930s, and their fight for justice. I could not put the book down. I found it so horrifying, fascinating and heartbreaking. I also recently finished Fortune’s Children, the fall of the House of Vanderbilt. The book details the lavish spending by the heirs of the Vanderbilt fortune. It is amazing the extremes that individuals spent and I found the story fascinating.
Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: This is also a hard question. I have always been a reader. I was influenced very early on by the Nancy Drew series and the complete Wizard of Oz collection. These works made me realize early on that I wanted to write, and I’ve always wanted to write mysteries.
Q11: If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: I would love to and have spent the day shopping with Anne, the heroine in the Antique Hunters Mysteries. We both share similar tastes for fine things particularly antique jewelry, and it would be a fun relaxing way to spend the day.
Q12: 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?
Ms. Vass’s Answer: When I first started, I read every review on Amazon and often thought of responding. I haven’t responded to them and won’t. I did have a reviewer on Amazon comment on editing on one of the books so since then I have hired an editor.
Thank you again to Ms. Vass for being willing to answer my questions! It’s always a pleasure to read the author’s answers! Below you will find a synopsis of the book, purchase links, Rafflecopter giveaway link, and the author’s bio. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner at the bottom and visit the main tour page. You’ll find a list of tour participants there. Thanks for joining me today!
In 1865, Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker, conspired to change the course of the Civil War. Crossing lines between North and South, the band of conspirators wove a plan that remained undiscovered for more than 150 years until Antique Hunter Anne Hillstrom finds one of Keckley’s gowns. She and fellow Antique Hunter CC Muller unravel the mystery that has left a trail of dead bodies, leading to the doorstep of their antique store, Great-Aunt Sybil’s Attic.
Dressed to Kill is the fifth book in the Antique Hunters Mystery Series. Rooted in history, the series reimagines real-life events blurring the line between fact and fiction.
About the Author
With a passion for shopping and antiques, Vicki Vass turned in her reporter’s notebook to chronicle the adventures of Anne and CC, two antique hunters who use their skills to solve a murder case.
Vicki has written more than 1,400 stories for the Chicago Tribune as well as other commercial publications including Home & Away, the Lutheran and Woman’s World. Her science fiction novel, The Lexicon, draws on her experience in Sudan while writing about the ongoing civil war for World Relief.
She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, writer and musician Brian Tedeschi, son Tony, Australian shepherd Bandit, kittens Terra and Pixel, seven koi and Gary the turtle.
Good morning! Today I’m hosting yet another stop on a Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. I love participating in these! They introduce me to all sorts of new authors and give me a chance at reading favorite authors’ new works before they’re published. Today’s spotlight post is for In the Stars by Zanna Mackenzie, the first in the Amber Reed Mystery series.
Amber is a great heroine. She is very loyal to her friends, as evidenced by her undertaking to help out in the investigation into the murder of her college-boyfriend-turned-movie-heartthrob (Ennis’s) brother (Joel), even though it initially is out of her comfort zone and eventually downright dangerous! ~Back Porchervations
About the Author
I live in the UK (Derbyshire/ Leicestershire border) with my husband, 5 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever-expanding library of books waiting to be read
Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is my ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, I can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel I’m working on. I love it when the characters in my novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot.
Thanks for joining me today! If you wish to visit other sites on the tour, please click the banner below. It will take you to the main tour page at Great Escapes Book Tours where there is a list of all participants!
When wedding planner Kelsey McKenna goes to the Wine Country Wedding Faire, the last thing she expects to do is take on new clients. After all, she’s just there to help out her friend Brody and maybe score some free cupcakes. But when a young couple in a pinch asks for her help, she just can’t say no.
There’s only one problem: they’d been working with Babs Norton, the self-proclaimed Queen of Wine Country Weddings—and things did not end well. Kelsey wants to make sure there are no hard feelings, but unfortunately she never gets the chance. When she goes to Babs’ office, she finds the wedding planner dead on the floor.
Babs’ high-strung assistant Stefan knows exactly who killed Babs: Kelsey. At least, that’s what he very publicly accuses her of at Babs’ funeral. When Kelsey decides to do a little sleuthing to clear her name, she uncovers a myriad of secrets and lies. And when a second wedding planner is attacked, Kelsey begins to wonder if she might be next.
Set against the stunning backdrop of California wine country, Marla Cooper’s Dying on the Vine is a mystery brimming with gossip, wine, and, of course…murder.
About The Author
As a freelance writer, MARLA COOPER has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku. But it was while ghostwriting a nonfiction guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her current series starring destination wedding planner Kelsey McKenna. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.