Diane's Latest News

Cover Reveals!

It’s a two-fer! Take a look at my awesome new covers. I love them! Big thanks to the talented cover artists. 

Inspiring Disabled Dogs

Check out my post on Shepherd.com about Inspiring Disabled Dogs

Here’s my own inspiring deaf dog, Reggie. She “hears” with her nose and by closely watching the faces and body movements of the people and pack-mates in her family. Don’t tell my other two dogs, but she’s my favorite by far! Such a sweetie, and always in a happy mood!

 

It’s release day for Getaway with Murder!

I’m so thrilled about today’s release of the debut book in my new Mountain Lodge Mysteries series, Getaway with Murder! I hope that you’ll enjoy your virtual vacation in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I had so much fun writing this book. Misty is a middle-aged heroine, having just turned fifty, and she’s realized that if she’s ever going to achieve her dream of living in the mountains she needs to make it happen – now. Of course her fluffy white cat Baroness Blizzard – nicknamed Yeti – is more than happy to come along with Misty. Trouble ensues, of course. ; ) Get a copy in print, digital, or audio, and start your mountain vacation today!

Meet Book Blogger Kerrin Parris!

Today, I’d like to introduce you to my friend and former coworker/officemate Kerrin Parris. Kerrin has been one of my biggest encouragers in my writing career, both before I got published and after. Kerrin gave me story suggestions and title ideas. Some were tongue in cheek, a little naughty, and made me laugh! Yep, we share an offbeat sense of humor. No wonder we clicked when we met! 

Even though we no longer live in the same state, I was lucky to get to spend some time with her recently on a girls’ trip to the mountains. We had a lot of fun reconnecting! She’s enjoying retirement and devoting lots of time to reading and reviewing books. She posts both her thoughts and great recipes on her Books and Recipes site. Be sure to check out her book reviews for recommendations, and read on to learn more about this reading and reviewing redhead with the lush pumpkin-spice hair.  

Diane: What drew you to becoming a book reviewer and blogger?

Kerrin: I am a big fan of the website Goodreads. I would see reviews from people of books that had not yet been published, so I was curious as to how they could get them.  I found two websites, NetGalley.com and Edelweiss.plus that offer advanced reader copies. In order to better your chances of being approved for a book, it is recommended to have a blog. Since I started blogging in 2019, I have gotten almost 70 advanced reader copies in exchange for my agreement to write reviews on or before the publication date. 
 

Diane: What do you think makes a book exceptional?

Kerrin: The best qualities of a book are ones that teach me something new and have characters that I care about. Those are the ones I remember long after I have finished. My favorite quote is by Jane Austen: “But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”

Diane: What book has surprised you the most and in what way?

Kerrin: I am a big fan of historical fiction and decided to read The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman.  This is no ordinary World War II novel because one of the characters is a Golem.  I don’t typically enjoy fantasy novels so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading about a mythical Jewish clay figure brought to life by magic.  I love to recommend this novel to everyone.

 

Diane: How many hours each day or week do you spend reading, and how do you find or make the time needed to read and review so many books? 

Kerrin: I don’t have a set amount of time for reading.  I have a spreadsheet that lists my advanced reader copies and the publication dates.   If I get behind on my schedule, I will devote more time to reading.  I typically read 6 to 7 books a month.  I especially enjoy audiobooks so I can listen while doing other things.

(Diane: As a former accountant, Kerrin had me at “spreadsheets.” Haha!)

 

Diane: When did you discover that you loved books? Was it when you were a child, or was it later in life? Was there a particular book or event that made you realize you were a book person?   

Kerrin: I loved reading Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys as a child.  I got away from reading as a teenager and didn’t pick it back up until my children were older.  My favorite movie is To Kill A Mockingbird.  I didn’t read the novel until I was in my late 30s and had seen the movie numerous times.  As much as I love the movie, I discovered that the book was 10 times better.  It is the book that made me a confirmed book person.  I will reread it at least once every five years.  I highly recommend the audiobook narrated by Sissy Spacek.

 

More about Kerrin, in her own words: I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee during the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement and Elvis’ rule as the King. After graduating from Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) with a BBA (80) and a JD (83), I married Steve, my law school sweetheart, in 1983. We lived in Columbia, Tennessee, where our two children were born, then moved to Texas in 1991. I am now a widow. I recently retired after being Of Counsel at Ross & Matthews, P.C. in Fort Worth, Texas for over 28 years.

Meet Mystery Book Blogger Dru Ann Love!

I’ve had the good fortune to get to know book blogger Dru Ann Love over the past few years. She does so much for the mystery community, that I wanted to sing her praises by featuring her on my blog. Enjoy this interview and be sure to visit her Dru’s Book Musings blog!

Diane: What drew you to becoming a book reviewer and blogger?

Dru Ann: I consider myself to be a book muser as my musings don’t have the typical start, middle and end elements of a review, but it suits me just fine. I started my blog to keep track of the books I was reading. The more I put up my short musings, it caught the attention of a few authors and my blog blossomed especially when I added the main feature, “A Day In The Life” which gives a glimpse into a character life before and after they solve a murder. I call Dru’s Book Musings a feature blog with a smattering of musings.

 

Diane: What do you think makes a book exceptional?

Dru Ann: It is when you lose yourself in the story being read. The characters are as real to you as the person standing next to you on a subway train. When you want to see what happens next and “goad” the author into writing a sequel, because you know there is more to the story (even if the book is a standalone). When you tell the world that they must pick up this book so they can enjoy it as well. Caveat, everyone’s taste is different, so a reader may not enjoy it as much as you did.

 

Diane: What book has surprised you the most and in what way?

Dru Ann: Naked In Death by J.D. Robb. I’m not a romance reader nor a futuristic reader, but this book took me to a different level, and I couldn’t get this book out of my head. It was a relationship building process and I knew when I finished the book, another visit was coming with this character, and I would get to know them better with each book published. This is one of the reasons I love series.

 

Diane: How many hours each day or week do you spend reading, and how do you find or make the time needed to read and review so many books?

Dru Ann: Pre-Pandemic, I probably read over 40 hours a week. I had a two-hour commute on the subway which was perfect for catching up with my stories. The weekend afforded me more hours to read. I’m an early riser so by the time my chores are done, the world wakes up and I’ve already started reading my next book. Post-Pandemic, I read less, but hopefully as the world starts to rebound, I can get my reading hours back to where it was. Now it’s a bit of a struggle. I also compartmentalized my activities so I have the time to read.

 

Diane: When did you discover that you loved books? Was it when you were a child, or was it later in life? Was there a particular book or event that make you realize you were a book person?

Dru Ann: My mom was an avid reader. Libraries were my friend. I got my first library card when I was four and I would take out the maximum number of books (okay they were picture books) allowed and bring them back within the week. Remember the Dick and Jane books? Yep, I read them all. The library couldn’t keep up with me. I really developed a sense of reading when I discovered Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. Oh, the puzzle solving aspect is what drew me to these books and that’s why I love mysteries, especially the cozy genre. PS, I love the invention of the e-reader. Love my Kindle Paperwhite.

 

More about Dru Ann Love: Dru Ann Love reportedly spends her working hours at the mysterious daytime situation. Her non-working hours are spent less reclusively on her award-winning blog, Dru’s Book Musings, where the “Day in the Life,” “Get to Know You,” and “Word with the Author” segments are prominently featured. She is happy to be in “her element” within the mystery community. Dru Ann is a 2017 Mystery Writers of America Raven Award recipient and an Anthony Award finalist in 2015 and 2018. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, where she is also the reporting monitor for the Sisters in Crime National Monitoring Project. She is also a member of the Mystery Writers of America, and served on the Bouchercon Board 2017-2019. Dru Ann will be the Malice Domestic Co-Fan Guest of Honor for 2022 and Left Coast Crime Fan Guest of Honor for 2023.

 

Meet My New Author Friend Connie Berry!

Connie Berry and I recently met online when Connie was featured on the “Molly on Mysteries” program. We soon realized we had an interesting thing in common – we both write mysteries featuring old things, antiques for Connie and old houses for me. We thought you readers would enjoy a little conversation about our books and our love for things from yesteryear.

 Diane:  What’s your favorite antique you’ve ever owned?

Connie:  Antiques are precious to me, not because of their monetary value but because they connect me to the past. One of my favorites pieces is a sampler, completed by a girl named Elizabeth Billinghurst on August 10, 1781. While I can’t know for sure, she may have been the Elizabeth Billinghurst who was born in Surrey, England, in 1767 and died in 1859 at the age of 92 (quite an achievement for the eighteenth century). If so, she completed this sampler when she was fourteen. The saying she chose was a popular one for young stitchers:

 

Virtue’s the chiefest beauty of the mind

The noblest ornament of humankind

Virtue’s our safeguard and our guiding star

That stirs up reason when our senses err

 

In spite of the complexity of the project, Elizabeth wasn’t all that detail-oriented. Failing to plan ahead, she was obliged to insert the final letters or word above the line. It’s one of my favorite things about this sampler. I picture her bent over her work, longing for an opportunity to stash the linen in her work basket and race outside to visit the horses or climb the apple tree in the garden.

 

Diane: What’s something surprising you’ve learned about antiques while performing research for your books?

Connie: In my latest book, The Shadow of Memory (release date May 2022), antiquities expert Ivor Tweedy shows Kate a tiny portrait of a human eye. This is how he describes it to Kate and her friend Vivian:

 

                 “You might assume it’s been cut down from a larger portrait, but no.” The gleam

in Ivor’s eye told me he’d been hoping one of us would ask. “This is what’s called a

Lover’s Eye—a fad in the decades around the turn of the nineteenth century. Lovers

would exchange portraits of their eyes, painted on bits of ivory no bigger than a

fingernail, like this one. Both men and women wore them, with the identity of the subject

a mystery. All part of the fun.”

 

I’d never heard of Lover’s Eyes, maybe because their popularity lasted only about twenty years, but they were lots of fun to research. In October I’m planning to spend a day at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where they have a number of Lover’s Eyes on display. Can’t wait!

 

 

Diane: What drew you to setting your books in England?

Connie: If you haven’t guessed, I’m an Anglophile! During college, I studied at St. Clare’s College, Oxford, and fell (hard) under the spell of the British Isles—the literature, legends, and history of those small jewel-like islands in the sea. When I started my first job, I used my lunch break to read, in order, the biographies of all the kings and queens, beginning with Boadicea, the Iceni queen who led a revolt against the Romans in 60 BC. I went on from there to read diaries and letters written by ordinary people from the 16th to the 20th century. Since the 1980s, my husband and I have traveled to the British Isles once or twice a year—until Covid. Writing a book means spending massive amounts of time in the fictional world you’ve created. Since March of 2020, spending imaginary time in Britain has been one of my consolations.

***

 

Connie: Your house-flipper series features a female carpenter who rehabs old buildings, and Getaway with Murder, your latest in the Mountain Lodge Mysteries, involves the renovation of a dilapidated lodge in the Blue Ridge Mountains. What draws you to write about building renovation? Have you ever done it yourself?

Diane: I’ve always had a soft spot for old houses, especially Victorians and farmhouses with big wrap-around porches. They take me back to a simpler time when the pace of life was slower, and I find comfort in that. I feel a twinge in my heart when I see a house suffering from neglect, and I know it could be beautiful if just given some TLC. While I can’t give all these old structures new life in reality, it’s fun to rehab them in my books, and turn old eyesores into something people can enjoy anew. I’ve never rehabbed an entire house, but we’ve changed out flooring in the homes we’ve lived in to make them prettier and more pet-friendly. We’ve also painted the walls. I love bright, whimsical colors! I also enjoy gardening, and I’ve added outdoor color with plants, flowers, and cute yard decorations. We plan to install black and white checkerboard flooring in the kitchen of our colonial soon, which will fulfill a decades-long dream of having checkerboard floors. I love the look!

 

Connie: Do you have a favorite old building?

Diane: I have two favorites. The first would be the Caswell House in Austin, Texas, where my husband and I were married thirty years ago. It’s a gorgeous Victorian with a wide porch and balcony. My second favorite would be our first home in Austin, which we rented. It was a tiny two-bedroom wood-frame house, but it had hardwood floors throughout and oodles of charm. A more recent building I’ve enjoyed watching be rehabbed is the Colonial Inn in my hometown of Hillsborough, North Carolina. Only a year ago, it looked ready for the wrecking ball, but now it’s open as both an inn and restaurant. It’s lovely.

 

Connie: Misty Murphy, the protagonist in Getaway with Murder, is 50, definitely older than the typical cozy heroine. Why did you choose to make her that age, and are there advantages to being older?

Diane: I turned 50 a few years ago and have found being in my fifties far from the devastating foray “over the hill” we’re told it will be. It’s so freeing to have our children launched, more financial security, and fewer responsibilities for anyone other than ourselves (and our furry, four-footed housemates, of course). We’re having the time of our lives! We’ve also discovered that this phase of life is a great time to rediscover or reinvent ourselves. The independence is awesome! Though I’d love to have the energy I had when I was younger, I’d never want to lose the hard-earned knowledge and forego the experiences I’ve had. With age comes perspective, and I like knowing what is truly important and being able to focus on that.  

 

Be sure to check out Connie and her books at Connie’s website. Find Connie at her author page on Facebook (The Kate Hamilton Mystery Series page), on Twitter at @ConnieCBerry and on Instagram at @ConnieCampbellBerry.

 

Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli Just Released in Audio!

Hooray! I’m so excited about this audio release! Got Audible credits? Get a copy of the book here: Audible

Join Me on The Moonshine Shack Murder Blog Tour!

I’m thrilled to be hosted or featured on so many great blogs this month!

I hope you’ll join me on my tour! You’ll learn lots about the book and the characters, as well as some fascinating things about moonshine and its storied history. You’ll even get some recipes that include moonshine. So be sure to check in each day!

 

THE MOONSHINE SHACK MURDER TOUR PARTICIPANTS 

July 6 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

July 6 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

July 7 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW 

July 7 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW 

July 8 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

July 8 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

July 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, RECIPE

July 9 – Novels Alive – REVIEW 

July 10 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT 

July 10 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST

July 11 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

July 11 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

July 12 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT 

July 12 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 

July 13 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

July 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

July 14 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 

July 14 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW 

July 15 – Ascroft, eh? – GUEST POST

July 15 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT 

July 16 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

July 16 – ebook addicts – SPOTLIGHT 

July 17 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW 

July 17 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

July 18 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

July 18 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

July 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW 

July 19 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW 

July 19 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

Mystery/Thriller Sweepstakes!

Want a chance to win five great books, including my upcoming release The Moonshine Shack Murder? Enter the sweepstakes here: ENTER SWEEPSTAKES! The entry period ends April 30th, so enter right away! 

Come on a Reading Journey!

So excited that my book Busting Out is featured on the My Reading Journeys Blog this week! Check it out here: 

My Reading Journeys