BLOG TOUR – The Vanished Bride of Northfield House – GUEST POST, SPOTLIGHT

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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!

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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!

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The Vanished Bride of Northfield House

Gothic Mystery
1st in Series
Date of Release January 26, 2018
Cup of Tea Books
Paperback: 346 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1939403452
Digital ASIN: B0791MQVBM
Purchase Link: Amazon

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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.

Author webpage www.readphyllismnewman.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ReadPhyllisMNewman/

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Thanks for joining me today! If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below to get to the main tour page!

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BLOG TOUR – Dressed to Kill – INTERVIEW

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Welcome! Today I’m featuring an interview with author Vicki Vass as part of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Dressed to KillDressed 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!

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Author Interview

VICKI VASSQ1: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Purchase Link: Amazon

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Synopsis

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.

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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.

Author Links –

Website – Blog – Facebook 

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BLOG TOUR – In the Stars – SPOTLIGHT

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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.

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Purchase Links: Amazon

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Synopsis

One desperate phone call is all it takes to turn Amber’s previously dull day into one speeding scarily out of control!

Amber Reed’s at work making up the horoscopes for the local newspaper and wishing for some excitement in her life, when she gets a phone call offering her just that.

Plunged into the middle of a celebrity murder investigation she’s desperately trying to convince the scarily handsome special agent assigned to solve the case that she can help him catch the killer.

Amber’s soon battling something far more dangerous than she could ever have imagined – and it has nothing to do with the equally scary chemistry fizzing between her and special agent Charlie.

Is it Amber’s wish for more excitement in her life which has landed her in big trouble – or is her fate written in the stars?

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Praise for “In the Stars”

Danger and romance heat up the pages of this intriguing mystery.
~Laura’s Interests

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

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About the Author

ZannaM

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.

I enjoy walking the dogs, gardening and reading.

Links to webpage: www.zannamackenzie.co.uk

blog: www.zannamackenzie.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmberReedCCIAMysteries/

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZannaMacKenzie

 GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6927649.Zanna_Mackenzie

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All Books in the Series

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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!

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Dying on the Vine – SPOTLIGHT

Today I’m happy to be hosting a spotlight for “Dying on the Vine” by Marla Cooper! I’ll be reviewing this book either later in the week or early next week!!

Dying on the Vine
by Marla Cooper

Dying on the Vine: A Mystery (Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries)
Series: Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries (Book 2)
Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books (April 4, 2017)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250072559
E-Book ASIN: B01L7BD9VM

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Synopsis

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.

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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.

Author Links

Webpage – www.marla-cooper.com

Blog: www.chicksonthecase.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Marla.Cooper.Author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kindacozy

Tour Participants

March 28 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

March 28 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

March 29 – Blogger Nicole Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 29 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

March 30 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

March 30 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – SPOTLIGHT

March 31 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

March 31 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

April 1 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

April 1 – Bibliophile Reviews – GUEST POST  

April 2 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

April 2 – Mystery Playground – GUEST POST

April 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 3 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

April 4 – Book Babble – REVIEW

April 4 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW

April 5 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW

April 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Varietats – REVIEW

April 6 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW  

April 7 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 8 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW

April 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

April 9 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

April 10 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

April 10 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

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Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Terror in Taffeta – REVIEW

3.5 out of 5 stars

Today, I’m reviewing Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper. Terror in Taffeta is the first book in the Destination Weddings series. It’s a solid beginning to the series and I’m looking forward to reading more from the author.

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Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Brief Synopsis

Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna is just a few hours away from wrapping up her latest job: a destination wedding in the charming, colonial Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. The reception is all set up, the tequila donkey is waiting outside, and the bride and groom are standing on the altar, pledging their eternal love. But just as the priest is about to pronounce them husband and wife, one of the bridesmaids upstages the couple by collapsing into a floral arrangement. Worst of all, Kelsey discovers that she hasn’t just fainted – she’s dead. The demanding mother of the bride, Mrs. Abernathy, insists Kelsey not tell the wedding party; she paid for a wedding after all, not a funeral.

Losing a bridesmaid is bad enough, but when the bride’s sister is arrested for murder, Mrs. Abernathy demands that Kelsey fix the matter at once. And although she’s pretty sure investigating a murder isn’t in her contract, crossing the well-connected mother of the bride could be a career-killer. Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey must deal with stubborn detectives, another dead body, and a rekindled romance in this smart, funny cozy debut perfect for fans of Carolyn Haines.

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Review

For the most part, I enjoyed this book.

As far as the characters go, I liked Kelsey’s character a lot and Brody, her friend and often the photographer for the weddings she plans/coordinates. They’re both complex characters, though we haven’t perhaps seen all of their complexity yet given the fact that this is book one in the series!  The mother of the bride on the other hand, I just want to slap silly. Some of that I believe is by design. She’s supposed to be obnoxious and overbearing. However, there were times when she seemed a bit over the top to me and I really just wanted to give her a “Gibbs’ slap” (NCIS) to the back of the head!

I enjoyed the Mexican setting. I perhaps would’ve liked a little bit more description of the setting and the foods they were eating, but it wasn’t like it was overly sparse. It’s actually rare for me to say there’s not enough setting description, but I felt like that quite often in this book. I just couldn’t quite get the scenes to be vivid in my imagination as I usually can.

The story line, in my opinion, moved just a bit too slowly. Now that I’ve finished the book, I see why a particular character was so important, but up until the end of the book I just kept thinking, “What the heck has this character have to do with anything?!”. I was tempted to skip to the end a couple of times, but I managed to resist the temptation.

Overall, I did enjoy the story. I’m looking forward to reading the second one in the series, Dying on the Vine. I’ll be hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for it on March 28th!

** I received an ARC of this title from the author. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. **

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About the Author

Author, Marla Cooper - Middle-aged white woman with reddish brown short hair, oval shaped face, no glasses, wearing a sleeveless navy blouse with white dotsMARLA COOPER is the author of the Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries. As a freelance writer, Marla has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku, and it was while ghostwriting a guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her series. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.