Author Interview, Character Traits

Meet Violet Whitehouse of A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide

Jessica Thompson’s novels are an interesting mix of murder and cooking. A fellow darkstroke books author, she has released two: A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder and A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide. And key to her culinary cozy mysteries is the character Violet Whitehouse. Here, I will let Jessica tell you about her in what I call my Character Traits series.

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JESSICA THOMPSONViolet Whitehouse. Here I will let Jessica tell you about her — and her books — in what I call my Character Traits series.

Who is your character?

Violet Whitehouse, newish bride, struggling caterer, and neat freak that hates being called a neat freak.

What does she look like?

Like a younger Jennifer Connelly. Think of her at about 25 years old or in the movie Inventing the Abbotts.

What is your character’s back story?

It hasn’t come up in a book yet, but she used to be that little kid that was always dirty. She didn’t avoid dirt because she didn’t care, until she got a staph infection at about ten years old. For the week or so that Violet was in the hospital, she learned to appreciate good food (and not the hospital food) and clean conditions. She has been learning to cook and avoiding dirt and chaos ever since.

What is your character’s role in your novel?

Violet is the main character. In this book she is acting as a personal chef for a group of ladies on a pre-holiday retreat, but usually she is a caterer for events big and small. She is also recruited to investigate the murder that happens because they are snowed in and the police won’t be able to get to them for days.

Why should readers care about this character?

I think I care about her because she cares about things so much. She wants things to be clean and she wants to make it a perfect retreat for her clients. She loves her husband and so wants to become a mom. She puts so much care into the food, into cleaning, and into this murder investigation.

Here’s an excerpt featuring.

“Watch the knives!” Jake winced and lunged forward, but he was too late.

Violet’s whole body was already tense from the cold weather and the long trip, but her muscles clenched into paralysis as she heard her bag of tools tip and clatter to the ground.

She shifted the box she had just taken out of the back of their rental van and swept aside her curtain of chestnut hair with her free hand. She forced her green eyes open, steeling herself to look down. The kitchen tools she had brought with her on this trip, the ones she couldn’t live without, lay scattered over the packed and soiled snow of the lodge’s parking area.

Violet’s skin crawled and her scalp tingled as she thought of the dirt, engine oil, and even traces of animal poop that were probably on her tools now.

As Jake, her husband and fellow caterer, took the box from her arms, Violet attempted a return to sanity with a deep breath and a look around at the glittering scenery. Other than the parking lot, clean, fresh snow covered the landscape and swept all the way up to the frozen pond and brightly lit windows of Summerhaven Lodge. The mounded snow shone coral in the waning evening light and eased her jangled nerves. She noticed tiny hopping footprints from a rabbit near the tree line and got close to smiling. The air was still and biting and she wrapped her favorite white scarf more tightly under her chin to keep it out. The scarf was a thick wool and didn’t get enough use back home in Austin, Texas.

This week would be a welcome break for all of them. Violet and Jake had been so tense the last few months that they had eagerly accepted the request to travel to another state and cook the entire week before Christmas for Carina Moretti, the mother of their friend Laurel. Laurel had spoken so highly of Violet’s cooking, and maybe a bit about her sleuthing, during her wedding last year that most of Violet’s clients these days wanted to hear the story while they tasted her creations.

Jessica Thompson’s bio

When Jessica discovered mystery novels with recipes, she knew she had found her niche.

Now Jessica is the author of the Amazon best-selling culinary cozy mysteries “A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide.” She is active in her local writing community and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas and the Storymakers Guild. She received a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University but has always enjoyed writing and reading mysteries.

As an avid home chef and food science geek, Jessica has won cooking competitions and been featured in the online Taste of Home recipe collection.  She also tends to be the go-to source for recipes, taste-testing, and food advice among her peers.

Jessica is originally from California, but now has adopted the Austin, Texas lifestyle. She enjoys living in the suburbs with her husband and young children, but also enjoys helping her parents with their nearby longhorn cattle ranch.

A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide synopsis

While acting as personal chef for a friend’s mountain retreat, Violet and her husband, Jake, must set aside their stress over infertility and create a magical and delicious holiday – until tragedy crashes the party.

Being snowed in and unreachable from town, Violet and Jake end up hired for a different kind of job – finding out which of the guests committed murder and why they’re trying to frame their hostess.

Violet must find a balance between following her gut and keeping it all under control until the police can reach them, while still managing the kitchen. But can she sniff out the killer before anyone else bites the big one?

A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide will give you a culinary holiday you won’t forget!

Another excerpt

Violet was furious with herself for not seeing it before. Her gut had led her in all the wrong directions. Mercedes had been the one to rebelliously go outside, and apparently it had not been an isolated incident.

It made Violet fume. How many times has Mercedes come outside? she thought. She was angry with Mercedes, but mostly she was kicking herself. Why had she thought that trusting her instincts would be a good idea? Her gut had definitely not done her any favors last time she had investigated a murder. She was mad at herself for not seeing it all, mad for ignoring Mercedes’ trips outside, and mad for looking past the woman just because she had made hot chocolate and been kind to her. All of that must have been an act. She must have been doing it to manipulate people. Perhaps the real Mercedes was the one that had erupted out during her argument with Carina.

The rage and the glowing fury that had shown in Mercedes’ face during that argument should have been a dead giveaway.

Violet followed the smell of cigarette smoke that lingered in the chilled air and mingled with the clouds of her breath. Cigarettes usually made Violet’s skin crawl, but she was too indignant to care now.

Violet caught a glimpse of a cloud of breath coming from behind the tool shed that formed one wall of the carport and crunched over the refrozen snow of the parking lot.

“Yes, sir. I’ll put you on speakerphone so you can hear, but it’s usually best to let Violet talk. She really has a way of getting these ladies to talk.”

Violet didn’t hear any of it. The blood was rushing through her ears as she whipped around the corner of the shed to find Mercedes huddled behind it.

Mercedes had been bent over, but now rose with terror in her eyes as Violet felt her face contort with disgust.

“It was you!”

Book links

http://mybook.to/catererholiday

http://mybook.to/caterersguide

Social media:

http://Jessicathompsonauthor.com

https://instagram.com/jessicathauthor/

https://facebook.com/jessicathauthor/

https://twitter.com/jessicathauthor/

https://pinterest.com/jessicathauthor/

http://goodreads.com/jessicathauthor/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jessica-thompson-ede71ffc-5762-4778-a116-3c3a048cb45f

http://amazon.com/author/jessicathompsonmystery

https://tiktok.com/@jessicathauthor

 

http://amazon.com/author/jessicathompsonmystery

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author, Author Interview, Character Traits

A New Author Series: Character Traits

One of the pluses of being part of Crooked Cat Books and darkstroke books is getting to know my fellow authors. I am impressed with those who are friendly on social media — the group is spread around the world — and generously support each other. So for my part, I am offering a bit of space on my website with a new series called Character Traits.

Val Penny - relaxed

Val Penny

The series begins Wednesday with Val Penny, an American who lives in Scotland, and is the author of the Edinburgh Crime Mystery Series featuring D.I. Hunter Wilson. I understand she has a new series in the works as well. I look forward to that … and finally meeting her in Edinburgh when we can safely travel again. Val has been a huge ally in this publishing game.

So, what is Character Traits about? I am asking authors to write a post about a character — it doesn’t have to be a protagonist — from one of their books and/or series. I am booked until the end of the year, but I am hoping to keep this going. Send me a message on Facebook or leave a comment here on how to reach you. Those who have my email address can contact me that way.

What I hope for: Introduce your character and the important role that person plays in your novel(s). Here are some questions to consider. How did you come up with this character? The character’s name? Is a real live person the inspiration? If so, how did people who know that person react? Is your character likable — or not? If you are writing a series, will this character continue? I welcome your own insights.

How about including a brief scene — say 200 words — where your character appears?

Give me a short bio of you, the titles and Amazon links to your books, your photo and cover of the book your character appears in.

I will be publishing these on Wednesdays. My deadline is the previous Wednesday.

FREEBIE SATURDAY: Thanks to those who downloaded Redneck’s Revenge, No. 2 in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, on Saturday, Nov. 14. My goal is to attract more readers.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s the top of the piano that came with out house — a long story there. Hank made the candlesticks. The pottery is part of a small collection. And the silk screen print showcases the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls Village where we live.

 

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Author Interview, Business of writing, Isabel Long Mystery Series, Writing

Getting the Word Out

First, if you’re a writer, you have to get the words down. Then, you gotta get the word out. Well, that’s the case when you are an indie author competing with other indie authors, and then there are those who have a lot of muscle behind them via a big shot publisher.

Ah, as I’ve said many times before — there’s writing and then there’s the business of writing.

I much prefer the first.

But then an author gets unexpected help. That’s what happened recently when Carrie Healy of New England Public Radio contacted me to be a part of a summer series that featured author on Friday mornings. She requested a copy of my latest book, which in this case is Checking the Traps, third in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. Then after reading the novel, she arranged for a recorded interview, which conveniently took place in an empty office at the Greenfield Recorder. (My day job is editor-in-chief.) She had a list of good questions. I hoped I came up with good answers. I read aloud a bit from the book’s start. (Carrie took the photo of me above.)

I found out Aug. 1 when Carrie sent me a link. She nicely took out the stumbles and the ums. I thought it came out well. I suppose others did too since I had a jump in sales, especially for the first in the series: Chasing the Case. And people were kind to mention they heard me on the radio.

Here have a listen. Here’s the link: http://www.tinyurl.com/yyjsr7fo

Four days later, I gave a reading at a bar in Northampton. It was the monthly event for Straw Dog Writers Guild at the Basement. First a duo played and 10 people in the audience each got five minutes to read from a work in progress, poetry and prose. I thoroughly enjoyed the variety, how 3cef0c4a-159e-4416-a3ba-49dcfb34e7ebpeople use our language to come up with stories and different ways to tell them.

Then, I had my chance to speak as the featured writer. I did less reading from Checking the Traps and more talking about my adventure with writing, how I started as a poet long ago, had a 25 years writers block, and finally found my creative outlet. Yeah, I talked about writing and the business of writing. And, smile, people bought books.

A few days later I noticed on Amazon a bump in sales for the next two books in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. (Redneck’s Revenge is number two.)  I am guessing those who bought the first liked it enough to read the rest. Well, readers, thank you very much.

Here is the link if you want to check out my books on Amazon:

http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

 http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

https://mybook.to/checkingthetraps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Interview, characters, Crooked Cat Books

Meet Martin Carter of Cultivating a Fuji

Author Miriam Drori has written this post about a character in her latest book, Cultivating a Fuji. She writes about Martin Carter, the book’s main character. Here’s what Miriam says about Martin: “Probably every reader has met a Martin at some time in their lives. Did they worry aboutBookArrival3 him? Did they wonder how he came to be like that? Or did they just laugh and move on?” Intriguing.

I have a confession to make. Miriam is also my editor, so I am looking forward to reading her book.

Here, I will let her tell you about Martin Carter.

Who is your character?

He’s called Martin Carter. He comes from London, lives by the sea in Bournemouth and works there as a computer programmer. This is 1977. Nowadays, he’d be called a software engineer.

What does he/she look like?

He looks normal – short brown hair, blue eyes, average height. His clothes look a bit geeky sometimes, or maybe it’s just the way he wears them. But still, he gets mistaken for normal. Until he opens his mouth.

What is your character’s back story?

What stands out in Martin’s childhood is bullying. He was the one all the children loved to make fun of. The adults in his life provided no support whatsoever. The teachers believed children had to solve their problems on their own. His parents were too wrapped up in themselves to be able to help in any way.

What is your character’s role in your novel?

Martin is the main character. His whole life is laid bare in the novel – not as a series of episodes, but rather via two main events, decades apart, that elegantly divide the novel into two parts. In the first part, Martin is sent to Japan. In the second part… you’ll have to read the novel to find out.

Why should readers care about this character?

Probably every reader has met a Martin at some time in their lives. Did they worry about him? Did they wonder how he came to be like that? Or did they just laugh and move on? Many of the characters in the novel choose the last of those options, but fortunately not all of them do. Even those who make the effort struggle to make him out. But readers have the advantage of being able to delve deeper inside his head and emerge with a better understanding and possibly empathy.

Give a brief excerpt featuring your character.

In this excerpt, Martin has just paid a visit to Kevin, who’s in hospital. Kevin was all set to go to Japan when he broke his leg. That’s why Martin’s going instead.

Martin retraced his steps to the hospital entrance, an easy task when you simply had to follow the EXIT signs. On the way, he paused at a flower shop. Inside, a man was looking around at the flowers, some in pots, others in bunches. A woman was talking to another, presumably the assistant. A pink rose leaned towards Martin from the other side of the glass, and seemed to be smiling. If the rose were a person, Martin thought, it would have tried to start a conversation with him and given up.

Martin studied the smile. Was it kind or leering? He couldn’t tell. With people he could; they were much more transparent. Often Martin was sure he knew exactly what they were thinking simply by watching their faces. Mostly, they were thinking something uncomplimentary about him.

Martin hadn’t noticed the flower shop on his way in. He’d been concentrating on finding the way to Kevin’s ward in orthopaedics. Following the signs along several corridors. Trying to look as if he knew where he was going so that no one would ask if he needed help. Turning on his heel when he reached a dead end and trying again. Once in the ward, looking carefully at each face he passed until he found the one he recognised, even at that unusual angle.

Should he have bought flowers for Kevin? He wasn’t sure, but he thought that might be something normal people did. Never mind. It would have been too normal an action for him. Kevin wouldn’t have expected it. He was probably surprised that Martin turned up at all, and he wouldn’t have gone if John hadn’t suggested it. Martin had considered making the excuse that he’d only just got back from the passport office and tomorrow he’d be busy packing, but in the end the visit went well and he was glad he’d made the effort.

A man standing in the doorway of the flower shop addressed Martin. “Excuse me, can I help you choose some flowers for a patient? We have some lovely, fresh chrysanthemums. Or our daffodils would make a fine present. Would you like to take a look?”

How dare he assume I want to buy his flowers, was Martin’s immediate thought. Just because I’m looking doesn’t mean I want to buy anything. I wasn’t even inside his stupid shop.

“No!” Even Martin was surprised at the volume of the word that came out of his mouth. The vendor was clearly taken aback. Martin turned and marched past him towards the exit. Serves him right, he thought, although he was beginning to wonder whether the flower-seller really deserved that response. He’d been annoyed at being disturbed from his reveries, and had directed his anger at the man who was really only doing his job. Never mind. That was the advantage of interacting with strangers. You didn’t have to see them again and know they remembered a previous embarrassing incident.

A brief synopsis

Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.

Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?

Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.

Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…

Miriam Drori on social media

Miriam Drori can be found on Facebook, Twitter, GoodreadsPinterest, Instagram, Wattpad and on her website/blog and social anxiety blog

Amazon page: Author.to/MiriamDroriAtAmazon

Cultivating a Fuji: mybook.to/cultivatingafuji

Social Anxiety Revealed: myBook.to/socialanxietyrevealed

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Author Interview, Building Character

Meet Enya of Agricola’s Bane

This post launches a new series I call Building Character, in which authors write about a character in their novel. Nancy Jardine is the first with Enya of Garrigill, a young warrior in her Celtic Fervour Series. Historical fiction fans can find the fourth, Agricola’s Bane, on Amazon: Nancy Jardine books

But back to Enya of Garrigill, I like this description: “Enya has strong features which are in keeping with her resolute determination.” She may be young, but she’s tough.

Here. I’ll let Nancy do the talking.

Who is your character?SONY DSC

Her name is Enya of Garrigill. Agricola’s Bane, Book 4 of the Celtic Fervour Series, opens with Enya having passed fourteen summers and she’s already a well-seasoned Late Iron Age Celtic warrior.

What does she look like?

Enya has strong features which are in keeping with her resolute determination. Her wide brow is softened by arresting eyes the colour of a changeable grey winter storm, eyes which sometimes betray her tender years and physical immaturity. Strong cheekbones flank a long nose that sits above front teeth which overlap slightly. Her chin is neat but often used with great effect to display her single-mindedness. The light brown soft-textured hair that has a tendency to escape her lengthy hair braids feathers the edges of her oval face and lifts her to comeliness, especially when her rare humour surfaces. The circumstances she inhabits are highly dangerous, but when Enya gives her wholehearted trust and love, it softens an often stern appearance.

What is your character’s back story?

Enya is a second-generation Garrigill warrior, a clan member who as a small child fled from Brigantia (Book 1 of the series), her family’s flight northwards being to avoid inclusion into the Roman Empire when the Roman legions dominate Brigantia (currently Cumbria and Yorkshire, England). By the end of Book 3 of the series, the Garrigill clan have migrated to Taexali Territory (current Aberdeenshire, Scotland) where they fight a pitched battle alongside the Celtic warriors of Calgach against the Ancient Roman legions of General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola.

The battle is disastrous for the Celtic warriors of the north who flee to the safety of the Caledon Mountains when the battle turns in the favour of the Romans. Enya bloodies her blade at this Battle of Beinn na Ciche: her warrior status elevated. In the chaos of the final moments of the battle she becomes separated from most of her family members, though days afterwards she finds them sheltering in the foothills of the Caledon Mountains.

What is your character’s role in your novel?

Agricola’s Bane, Book 4 of the series, opens with Enya determined to find her slightly older brother Ruoridh and her younger cousin Beathan who have not been seen since the Battle at Beinn na Ciche. Ruoridh and Beathan are not believed dead – there’s been no evidence of their corpses even ten days after the battle – and Enya is convinced she will be able to find them. The difficulty is that Taexali Territory is now flooded with Ancient Roman soldiers who are moving from temporary camp to AB 1000x625temporary camp in a north westwards direction. It’s hazardous for anyone to be moving around anywhere since the locals have mainly fled to the mountains after the battle. Along with Nith of Tarras and Feargus of Monymusk Enya sets out to find her kin; establish they are dead; or prove the lads have been taken as slaves by the Romans which is a distinct possibility. Along with her companions, she also has the perilous task of gathering information about the movements, and future military campaign intentions, of General Agricola’s legions. A spy captured can expect inevitable death!

Why should readers care about this character?

Enya isn’t only battling with separation anxiety from her lost kin, who are both very dear to her and in fact can be named among her best friends; she’s also a prisoner of her own developing physical emotions. She’s not yet chosen her first lover even though she’s reached childrearing status and battles with her developing sexual emotions. She finds herself torn between her developing romantic feelings for Nith who has been an almost foster-brother for the last couple of years, and her other travelling companion Feargus who now seems to be an orphan, his family having been decimated by the Roman usurpers. Her physical warrior strength is counterbalanced by her growing emotional maturity.

Give a brief excerpt featuring your character.

This scene is near the beginning of Agricola’s Bane. Enya and her scouting patrol encounter some Roman auxiliaries while on surveillance duty in woods near Ceann Druimin where her family have taken shelter.

When Enya reached Colm, the soldier she had speared to the ground squealed and bleated as he squirmed to free his upper arm from the entrapment, his attempt to break the shaft unsuccessful. Frantically swinging it in her direction, the young auxiliary whirled and bucked to avoid the slashes of her blade. As she raised her long knife anew, the end of the spear walloped against her jaw, the impact splintering the tip, the sudden pain excruciating. The blow was not sound enough to knock her over, but the jarring sent the man sprawling. Landing heavily on his side, he yelped when the pole cracked asunder, the spear tip still stuck firmly in his upper arm. Forcing him onto his front with one well aimed boot roll, Enya clipped away the shallow helmet neck-guard with her knife.

She had him at her mercy but she would give him none.

Striking repeatedly at the freed flesh with her long blade, which was not much shorter than the Roman’s gladius, a white hot rage engulfed her. Blood spattered and bone cracked.

Would her Celtic lands never be free of the Roman scum? The next cut was for Ruoridh. Another hack was for her cousin, Beathan, and more for Feargus’ dead kin from Monymusk. Her blade continued a repetitious slashing. Her brother would be found or avenged. Either way, she vowed to remove as many of the Roman usurpers as she could.

“Enya!”

Fergus’ noisy reprimand eventually penetrated her frenzy. Lowering her blade she stared at him, the thudding inside her chest almost engulfing her.

It was his palms cradling her shoulders and his soft voice at her ear that reminded her to breathe properly. “Enough. He will trouble Colm no longer.”

Synopsis of Agricola’s Bane:

A.D. 84 Northern Roman Britain

Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledonian warriors and the mighty Ancient Roman legions. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or, should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been enslaved by the Romans?

Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island, but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.

The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…

You can find Nancy Jardine at these places:

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk

Website: www.nancyjardineauthor.com/

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG& http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G

email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/nansjar

Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5139590.Nancy_Jardine

 

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