The temperatures are beginning to drop, the leaves are turning and falling to the ground. October is the time for bonfires, pumpkins, and trick-or-treat. It’s time to drink apple cider, visit apple orchards, and display colorful mums. I hope October will be kind to you.
Do you look at Labor Day as the end of summer? Or does the holiday allow you to have a three-day weekend? Do you work or relax and enjoy the day? Maybe you shop and look for good sales.
Labor Day began as a way to celebrate the laborers and their work. Oregon was the first to observe Labor Day on February 21, 1887. A few years later it became a nationally-recognized holiday in the United States.
I hope you are able to enjoy your holiday in 2020. Stay safe and have fun!
I’m so excited to have Debra H. Goldstein on my blog today. I know you’ll enjoy meeting her.
What’s the first mystery you remember reading?
Memory is a funny thing. I remember reading two things at the same time – one was the Bobbsey Twins, all of which I devoured, and one was a Perry Mason book. My parents were visiting friends and to keep me entertained, I was permitted to go into the host’s library and pick a book to read. The one I pulled down was a Perry Mason. I may not have understood all of it, but I knew I liked it enough that when we went to leave, and I hadn’t quite finished it, I asked to borrow it. Because my parents saw these friends often, I was allowed to take the book home and finish reading it. Of course, it wasn’t until many years later, when I watched the re-runs of Perry Mason, that the book and Raymond Burr’s portrayal became one and the same.
When did you begin writing? How did you know you wanted to begin a career writing?
I began making stories up in my head at bedtime well before I began school, but it was in first grade that I was given an opportunity to write (or should I say print) little stories. My teacher apparently liked them because she encouraged me to write more.
Do you ever change the killer in the middle of the story?
Yes. When I wrote One Taste Too Many, the writing was going well and then it wasn’t. The book went flat, and I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. I stopped writing and let it percolate for a few weeks. In that stage between sleep and waking, it came to me that I had the wrong killer. I was pushing the characters to fit what I thought I wanted when it was so obvious that another character was the killer. When I got out of bed, I was energized to rewrite. I threw out half the book and started the revision. Once again, the words flew, and I knew the story and the book itself worked. Happily, when it was pitched to Kensington, they agreed.
Tell us a little about your story.
In Three Treats Too Many, when a romantic rival opens a competing restaurant in small-town Wheaton, Alabama, Sarah Blair discovers murder is the specialty of the house . . .
For someone whose greatest culinary skill is ordering takeout, Sarah never expected to be co-owner of a restaurant. Even her Siamese cat, RahRah, seems to be looking at her differently. But while Sarah and her twin sister, Chef Emily, are tangled up in red tape waiting for the building inspector to get around to them, an attention-stealing new establishment—run by none other than Sarah’s late ex-husband’s mistress, Jane—is having its grand opening across the street.
Jane’s new sous chef, Riley Miller, is the talk of Wheaton with her delicious vegan specialties. When Riley is found dead outside the restaurant with Sarah’s friend, Jacob, kneeling over her, the former line cook—whose infatuation with Riley was no secret—becomes the prime suspect. Now Sarah must turn up the heat on the real culprit, who has no reservations about committing cold-blooded murder . . .
Includes quick and easy recipes!
Do you have any pets?
Although I’ve had dogs, turtles, goldfish, and guppies (the latter three being in my childhood), we don’t have any pets now. I do have three grand dogs.
What’s your favorite thing to drink while writing?
Do you have a tip to share for getting through this pandemic? Anything that makes your days a little easier?
For me, it is a matter of getting up, dressed, and addressing whatever needs to be done. Although I’m not writing or reading as much as I usually did in the past, part of that has been having several pieces that were on deadline, needing to write a number of blogs before Three Treats Too Many releases on August 25, being involved in more zoom calls than I can keep count of, and getting the brilliant idea to build a new house during the pandemic. My tip is to keep doing things.
Are you a beach person?
The beach is where I go to renew my energy and spirit. Although I love walking in the surf, even sitting in an air-conditioned condo peering at the waves makes me happy. Sadly, even though we can be at the beach in just under four hours, we haven’t gone there since the world shut down in March.
You created a character in Sarah Blair that is different than most cozy protagonists. Why did you do this, and do you relate to her?
Sarah Blair is a woman who finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder. That’s where our similarities end. She was married at eighteen, divorced by twenty-eight, works as a law firm receptionist and lives with the only thing she got out of the marriage—her Siamese cat, RahRah—as she finds herself. I’m not twenty-eight, I’ve been married almost thirty-seven years to the same man, my career was as a lawyer and judge, and we no longer have any pets.
I created Sarah because, after my first two traditional mystery books were orphaned, I wanted to write a cozy. I had no problem with most of the elements usually contained within a cozy, but I was stumped by whether my character would cook, bake, or be good at crafts. I hate cooking, baking, and I’m lousy at crafts. Mulling my dilemma over, it dawned on me that there had to be other readers like me. Sarah was born from that realization. One of the interesting things in my books is to watch how Sarah changes or grows in each book. She is much stronger character in Three Treats Too Many than she was in One Taste Too Many or Silver Falchion finalist Two Bites Too Many.
Judge Debra H. Goldstein writes Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series (Three Treats TooMany, Two Bites Too Many, One Taste Too Many). She also authored Should HavePlayed Poker and IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, which have been named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer finalists, have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and is president of SEMWA and past president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter. Find out more about Debra at www.DebraHGoldstein.com
Growing up my brother and I played Smush Bug and Horsie for entertainment in the car. We also played the license plate game on trips. I may not know much about vehicles, but I pay attention.
One vehicle that has always intrigued me is a VW Bus. It’s not actually a bus, but it’s not called a van. Why? The VW Bus also came in fun colors.
In a story I’m working on now, I’m including a VW Bus as a ‘food truck.’ It’s actually a coffee bar in my story. So I’d already been thinking about this particular vehicle when Tim and I drove by one. Tim’s so good to me, and parked near it so I could take some pictures to pun on my Pinterest board.
Seeing this VW made me happy, and I’d like to share pictures of it with you. Have you ever owned a VW bug? Bus? Any VW?
2020 has been a hard year, but let’s don’t miss out on little things that bring us happiness!
In 2019 I met Hank Phillippi Ryan. I still wasn’t published at the time, and she’d written so many books which was intimidating. I was excited and nervous at the same time to meet her. It turns out, I had nothing to fear.
Hank was kind and gracious. She believed in me enough to offer to promote me when my first book came out. When my first book was about to be released, I debated bothering Hank. My husband encouraged me to reach out, so I did.
Once again, she was gracious. Here’s what she came back with after I sent her my book.
Completely charming–and exactly what a cozy mystery should be. Amateur sleuth (and dog whisperer) Andi Grace Scott is wonderfully endearing, and her devotion to her pooches–and to justice–will have you rooting for her from the absolutely irresistible page one. Bow WOW–What a terrific debut! Hank Phillippi Ryan Nationally best-selling and award-winning author of THE MURDER LIST
On August 4, Hank’s new book comes out. I’ve pre-ordered The First to Lie and look forward to reading it. I’ll be sure to review it for you in a few weeks. Publishers Weekly calls it, “Stellar.”