Meet Shaen Mehl

Shaen, thank you so much for joining us today.

When did you begin writing? Have you always wanted to write? I think I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil, and I always knew that I wanted to be an author someday. I’m so very blessed to be working at my dream job every day now!

Do you have a pet? Does your lead character have a pet? I do! We have one outdoor cat, Tracy, and an indoor dog we adopted from a local shelter. Her name is Violet and she’s a chihuahua/dachshund mix. She’s gentle and sweet and the perfect pet to balance out our energetic boys!

The lead characters in Secondhand Chances live on the farmstead they inherited from their parents, so they have pets as well: dogs named Tink and Pal, a cat named Butterscotch, as well as goats and chickens. In my book, Pal plays a crucial role in the ladies solving the mystery… but you’ll have to read the book to find out how 😉

Is this book part of a series? Yes, Secondhand Chances is the final book, book 25, in the Mysteries of Lancaster County series. It can be read as a stand-alone book, but I’d recommend trying to read the other books in the series as well. They’re all written by well-known Christian Fiction authors, like Nancy Mehl, Kathleen Y’Barbo, and DeAnna Julie Dodson.

What’s the location and why’d you pick this spot for your story? The Guideposts’ editors conceptualized the series, so they chose where the book was going to be set. That said, I can see why they chose Lancaster County, PA! The town of Bird-in-Hand is so charming, and it’s been a wonderful setting to explore throughout the series.

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains? I like them both, but I’ve had more opportunity to travel to the mountains. One of my favorite family memories is when my oldest son was three years old, and my family went on a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains. We rented a cabin with amazing deck views and spent most of the trip hiking and enjoying nature. It was wonderful. We’re hoping to get to the beach sometime later this year, to revisit one of my favorite places, Savannah, GA.

Savannah is one of my favorite places to spend time. Is there a place you’ve always wanted to visit? I would love to visit Ireland someday. My family history can be traced back to Italy, Scotland, and Ireland, and I think it would be incredibly meaningful to walk where my ancestors walked.

What’s your favorite sport? And or…What hobbies do you enjoy? I never used to consider myself an athletic person, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned I really enjoy hiking and running. I have a lot of hobbies– reading, writing poetry, cooking, organizing, and antiquing, to name a few. In the future, I’d love to learn French and watercolor painting. Plus, now that our boys are getting older, I’d love to travel more. I’m trying to talk my husband into packing up and RVing around the country for a summer or so!

I took French in high school and one year in college. I can read it better than speak it. I hope you enjoy learning French, and merci beaucoup for spending time with us today!

Friends, Shaen can be found on social media. Here are her links:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shaenlayle

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shaen_layle/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shaenlayle/pins/

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/39CscDI

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/shaen-layle

Website: www.shaenlayle.com (blog is included on main page)

Newsletter Sign-up: www.shaenlayle.com/newsletter

Buy Links for Secondhand Chances: https://bit.ly/3rHmqXG

Shaen, thanks againg for visiting, and I’m looking forward to reading Secondhand Chances!

Dane McCaslin

Today I’m happy to introduce you to Dane McCaslin. Her new book, Cat’s Meow releases tomorrow. Dane was gracious and took time to answer some questions.

Welcome, Dane!

Where is the setting for Cat’s Meow? How did you decide to pick it?

I’ve placed this series in Portland, Oregon. After a visit there a few years ago, it seemed perfect for Gwen Franklin, my protagonist and retired teacher. It’s small enough to feel cozy but still has all the amenities of a larger city. And you can’t beat the proximity to the Columbia and Willamette rivers, as well as the gorgeous Multnomah Falls.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I entered my first poetry competition when I was nine and won. Of course, it was only our local library, I was most likely the only nine year old that had submitted to a contest meant for adults, and my mom was friends with the librarian. Aside from that one foray into rhyme, I’ve stuck with prose since.

Did you always dream of writing or have you always worked as an author?

I was reared in a home without a television (gasp!) but it had lots of books. We all read, and I loved going to the library. That led me to believe that “I could do that!” and I gave it a whirl. Thankfully, none of those earlier attempts ever saw the light of day. I began writing in earnest one summer break (I taught high school English) and haven’t looked back. Being retired now gives me more time to plot and write more murder and mayhem.

Do you have a favorite character? If you could spend a day with this person, what would you enjoy doing?

That’s a tough call. Most likely I’d choose the indomitable Miss Jane Marple. I absolutely adore the way her mind works! Or there’s Jo March. I’d love to spend a day with that spunky gal and observe how she maneuvered between her life as a writer and as a mid-nineteenth century woman.

Do you have a favorite beach or vacation spot?

Yes! As an Arizonian, I like that Coronado Island is only a short drive. The homes there are incredible – it’s so atmospheric – and the Pacific Ocean is extremely accessible, Of course, I’d probably live at Disneyland if I could, but that’s another story.

(We visited Coronado Island in 2011, and I agree. It’s fabulous.)

Is there a place you’ve always longed to visit?

I would love to visit the Acadian area that straddles the northeast Canadian and United States border. My heritage on my mother’s paternal side is Cajun, people that are descended from the New France settlers of the mid-eighteenth century. Forcibly removed from there, they and their descendants ended up in places such as Louisiana, where my extended family lived and still lives.

How did you decide on a pet valet for your sleuth?

That was easy! I am a dog lover of the highest rank and wanted my protagonist, Gwen, to be able to enjoy animals as well. When her best friend, the much-married and divorced Nora Goldstein, suggests that they begin a pet valet business, Gwen is completely skeptical. Of all things, she is allergic to pet dander and has to find a way to handle her post-retirement adventure without constantly scratching and sneezing. Besides, I wanted an excuse to include animals of all sorts in the series.

Dane, I have terrible allergies which is why we have a West Highland Terrier. They are hypoallergenic. Thanks so much for taking time to visit with us today.

Dane can be found on social media.  

Instagram @danemccaslinbooks

Twitter @mccaslin_dane

And her website is  www.danemccaslinbooks.com

If you interested in reading Cat’s Meow, follow this link. https://www.kensingtonbooks.com/9781516110155/cats-meow/

Three Treats Too Many

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?

Coca-Cola.

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 Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, One Taste Too Many). She also authored Should Have Played 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

You can also find Debra on social media:

Website – www.DebraHGoldstein.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DebraHGoldsteinAuthor/       

Twitter – @DebraHGoldstein

Instagram – debra.h.goldstein

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-h-goldstein

If you want your own copy of Three Treat Too many you can find it here:

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Three-Treats-Sarah-Blair-Mystery/dp/1496719492

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/three-treats-too-many-debra-h-goldstein/1135275342?ean=9781496719492