Karen C. Whalen is the author of two mystery series for The Wild Rose Press: the Dinner Club Mysteries featuring Jane Marsh, an empty nester who hosts a gourmet dinner club, and the Tow Truck Mysteries starring Delaney Moran, a super feminine shoe-a-holic who drives a tow truck. Both are cozy mysteries about strong friendships and family ties set in Colorado. The first book in the Dinner Club series tied for First Place in the Suspense Novel category of the 2017 IDA Contest sponsored by Oklahoma Romance Writers of America.
Whalen worked for many years as a paralegal at a law firm in Denver, Colorado, and was a columnist and regular contributor to The National Paralegal Reporter magazine. Whalen loves to host dinner clubs, entertain friends, ride bicycles, hike in the mountains, and read cozy murder mysteries.
Toes on the Dash – Shoe-a-holic Delaney Morran inherits a tow truck business from her absent dad. The dead body of her ex-boyfriend is discovered in the trunk of her first towed vehicle. She must solve the crime and toughen up to make the business a success and feel the father-daughter connection she seeks.
Many authors count among my favorites, but three stand out the most. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Erma Bombeck.
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her life as a homesteader’s daughter and wife during the years 1870 through 1890. I started reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s A Gift from the Sea, published over fifty years ago. Then I read through her five volumes of diaries and letters covering 1922 through 1944. Erma Bombeck wrote a newspaper column and humorous books about her life between 1965 and 1996. There are four things these writers have in common, which are also the reasons they are my favorites: they wrote about a very specific time period, they wrote about their own lives, they wrote with a strong sense of place (Laura the prairie, Anne the ocean, and Erma the suburbs) and they were talented women writers.
Lucky for them, they lived in exciting times and places. Also, they had interesting lives and a whole bunch of talent.
Erma Bombeck is the only one of the three whose life span overlapped with mine. I sent her a letter right before she died and she wrote me back. I keep that letter on my desk and look at it every day.
These women writers inspired me to write. First, I wrote a column for a paralegal magazine (paralegal being my original career). Erma Bombeck also wrote a column, and I’m proud to be remembered as a columnist, too. When I progressed to writing novels, I set my books in Colorado, an evocative western setting. My books are not memoirs, however; they are murder mysteries. My tow truck mystery series is a mash up of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels and Gemma Halliday’s High Heel Mysteries. So, all right, Janet Evanovich and Gemma Halliday are my favorite authors, too.
I will be forever thankful to the woman writers who have gone before me and inspired me. Because of them, I was able to achieve my own dream of becoming a published author. As Laura Ingalls Wilder is quoted as saying, “No one has ever achieved anything from the smallest to the greatest unless the dream was dreamed first.”
Thank you, Laura, Anne, and Erma, for daring to dream first.
These are Karen’s social media links:
These are Karen’s buy links:
Barnes & Nobel: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/toes-on-the-dash-karen-c-whalen/1140989970?ean=2940160712291
Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/toes-on-the-dash/id1609810860
I’m Darlene Dziomba. I’ve been working in Fiscal Operations and Financial Planning for the University of Pennsylvania for over thirty years. I’m an animal lover. My parents always joked that from the time I learned to walk, I could not pass a dog without wanting to pet it.
Pre COVID, I volunteered at the Animal Welfare Association, a local New Jersey animal shelter. I hope to return to it when the virus dissipates. I miss the staff and the dogs. I had an idea for a book where the amateur sleuth worked at an animal shelter, and the Lily Dreyfus series was born. I have one dog, Billie, an irresistible terrier mix I adopted from AWA.
I had an idea for a book where the amateur sleuth worked at an animal shelter, and the Lily Dreyfus series was born. I have one dog, Billie, an irresistible terrier mix I adopted from AWA.
Clues From The Canines – Lily, an Adoption Coordinator at Forever Friends animal shelter, learns her boyfriend is dead via a dog surrender. Her pack rallies to sniff out the killer.
What brought you to writing? I was in Toronto, attending Bouchercon, and listening to a panel of writers who all had protagonists in animal-related professions. I thought to myself, “I’ve never read a book with an animal shelter employee as the protagonist. I wonder if I could write that?”
I had never attempted to write a book and had a lot to learn. I joined a Writers Workshop, took numerous online classes, and found a coach to assist me. I’m proud of myself for having brought this idea to fruition.
What is the most challenging part of your writing process? I work a full-time job besides my writing job. It is challenging to manage writing, editing, revising, maintaining a blog, maintaining a social media presence, promotions, getting enough sleep, exercising, and long walks with Billie.
Has an association membership helped you or your writing? Yes. I am a member of Sisters in Crime, the Guppies, and two regional SinC groups, SinC Fl Gulf Coast and SinC Grand Canyon Writers.
I am extremely grateful for the internet and Zoom. I’ve attended informative talks, taken craft classes, built a network, and found professional service providers.
How long did it take you to write your first book? How long to get it published? It took two and half years to have a fully written, well-crafted book. I queried agents for two years without much success. I was reluctant to self-publish because I knew an agent would be able to advise me and help me achieve the most success.
The pandemic influenced my decision to self-publish. More than anything else, I wanted my parents to be able to hold a book in their hands with my name on the cover. They are in their eighties, so I didn’t feel I could wait however many years it would take to find the agent and publisher willing to accept my work and decided to self-publish.
From start to finish, it took four and a half years to bring Clues From the Canines to fruition.
Do you base any of your characters on real people? Most of my characters are based on real people. My protagonist is not. Friends ask if Lily represents me and seem surprised when I say no.
The character of Martin is based on the person who was my supervisor at the animal shelter. He was quite the character, and we engaged in a lot of pithy exchanges. Ironically, I had to tone down Martin’s personality. He offended every single beta reader.
I had one friend point blank ask for a character. She plays a major role in the sequel Up Close And Pawsonal.
Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I am not sure “outline” adequately describes what I do. There are psychologists who would love to study my need for the obsessive detail of my plotting template.
I took a course called “Plot Thickeners” with Simon Wood. He showed me a phenomenal plotting method. Then I added to it.
Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? Once the world has conquered COVID, I hope to travel again, and eventually, I will retire from my day job and write full time.
As far as writing, I will keep producing Lily Dreyfus books as long as I can continue to come up with creative plots. For now, getting the first book launched is so exciting. I am basking in being proud of this accomplishment.
Do you have any advice for new writers? Be open-minded. My coach likes to say that she enjoys working with me, “Because you’re smart enough to realize that you need help.” It was important for the process to have beta readers who would be critical and push me to make the book better. One doesn’t need to change their base story, but new writers should toy with the ideas that are offered to them and see if they would enhance the story.
How do our readers contact you?
Thank you very much for hosting me today.
Cindy Sample is a former corporate CEO who decided plotting murder was more entertaining than plodding through paperwork. She retired to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a mystery author. Her eight-book Laurel McKay Humorous Mystery series is primarily set in the California Gold Country unless Cindy feels like traveling. Then the characters tag along with her on trips to Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Las Vegas.
Cindy is a five-time finalist for the LEFTY Award for Best Humorous Mystery, a two-time finalist for the SILVER FALCHION Award for best traditional mystery, and a two-time finalist for the Chanticleer MURDER & MAYHEM AWARD for best cozy mystery. BIRTHDAYS ARE MURDER, the first book in her new Spindrift Cove Mystery series set in Washington state, was just released.
BIRTHDAYS ARE MURDER – After Sierra Sullivan moves to Spindrift Cove, Washington, she soon discovers gigs for middle-aged entertainers are scarcer than good hair days. She reluctantly accepts a party-princess gig. Little does Sierra know she’ll soon be upstaged by a corpse and become the leading-lady suspect.
What brought you to writing? I discovered Nancy Drew in the first grade, and by the time I turned eight, I’d read all the books in the series. One night, I decided to use my spelling words and dashed off a sixteen-page sequel. It would have been longer, but my mother made me go to bed at 8:30. I received an A+ and was hooked. I knew I wanted to be a mystery author. Although it took a half-century for me to realize that dream.
What are you currently working on? I just released BIRTHDAYS ARE MURDER, the first book in my new Spindrift Cove Mystery series set on the Olympic Peninsula. I’m currently plotting the sequel while also writing DYING FOR A DECORATION, a holiday novella that will be the ninth book in my Laurel McKay Humorous Mystery series. Laurel manages to get in trouble without much prompting from me.
We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave, or do they run the show? In the first two Laurel McKay Mysteries, my characters behaved and aligned with my original plot concept. When I began writing DYING FOR A DAIQUIRI, the third book in the series, the victim absolutely refused to let me knock her off. So she was upgraded to a suspect. At the time, I was vacationing in Hawaii, the book’s setting. The next day, while dining at my favorite oceanfront restaurant, I visualized the new victim, a hula dancer who worked at Laurel’s brother’s Daiquiri bar. More suspects than I could ever have imagined walked into that story. At first, I was frustrated because I couldn’t figure out who the killer was. But I also discovered how much fun it is to play detective while writing a book. The murderer was finally revealed to me around page 170. Since then, I have let my characters evolve on their own.
Do you have subplots? I have a very fertile imagination and so do my characters. I never experience writer’s block, but I dream up so many plots that sometimes it’s difficult to choose. I try to weave in subplots about my protagonist’s family that are relatable to readers. Domestic issues can range from her eight-year-old son and teenage daughter to her bossy mother and feisty octogenarian grandmother. I also added a 150-pound Bernese Mountain dog in book seven who provides plenty of humor all by himself.
What kind of research do you do? I love my research, whether riding an ATV, performing at a ballroom dance competition, sampling daiquiris in Hawaii, or donuts in the Gold Country. My Laurel McKay series is known for its comic chase scenes. I’ve ridden backhoes (slowest chase scene ever), snowmobiles, wave runners, gondolas, stagecoaches, and tandem bicycles to make sure the details were just right. And I watch a ton of YouTube videos, too as well. Since Laurel and I are equally klutzy, the humor comes naturally to both of us.
Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I live in the California Gold Country, a beautiful area with historic gold mines, wineries, and apple orchards, close to the Sierra Nevada mountains. I wanted to profile the town and some of my favorite places. The series has become so popular locally that business owners frequently request that I “stuff a stiff” in their venue. The Spindrift Cove series is set in a fictional town which gives me more latitude in certain respects, such as the size of the local police force. But I also refer to real places on the Olympic Peninsula that people are familiar with. It’s an incredibly beautiful area, and I love showcasing it.
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Jennifer J. Chow is the Lefty Award-nominated author of the Sassy Cat Mysteries and the forthcoming L.A. Night Market Mysteries. The first in the Sassy Cat series, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, was selected as an OverDrive Recommended Read, a PopSugar Best Summer Beach Read, and one of BuzzFeed’s Top 5 Books by AAPI authors. She currently serves as Vice President on the national board of Sisters in Crime. She is an active member of Crime Writers of Color and Mystery Writers of America.
One of BookRiot’s Best Upcoming Cozy Mysteries for the Second Half of 2021!
When murder follows Mimi Lee to her romantic island getaway, she puts on her best sleuthing hat with her sassy cat in tow in this adventurous cozy mystery by Jennifer J. Chow.
“Chow offers original characters, clever banter, and a laid-back California vibe. This is perfect for lovers of crime-solving animal cozies.”—Publishers Weekly
Mimi Lee Cracks the Code is the third book in the Sassy Cat Mystery series and just got nominated for a 2022 Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery!
Do you write in more than one genre? I’ve most recently written cozy mysteries but have also dabbled in multicultural women’s fiction and young adult. You can find out more about all my books on my author website listed below.
What brought you to writing? The love of the written word. I got transported by stories at an early age and always enjoyed living in my own imaginary world. It was beautiful when I realized that you could write for a living and share that joy and wonder with others.
What are you currently working on? I’m working on a new cozy mystery series, the L.A. Night Market Mysteries, which feature opposite-personality cousins who run a food stall. When one of their customers dies at a local night market, they get served a side of murder and start investigating. The first in the series is called Death by Bubble Tea and is available for pre-order!
Has an association membership helped you or your writing? Yes, definitely! I’m biased because I now serve as Vice President on the national board of Sisters in Crime, but I really appreciate the camaraderie and community there. Writing is a solitary profession, and it’s so important to get support from those who understand what it’s like. The encouragement and cheering from other writers also helps you keep persevering when you go through rejections and low points in your writing journey.
How long to get it published? My first novel took me about five years to get published, if you include missteps and shelved manuscripts. Mimi Lee Cracks the Code was part of a three-book deal I got with Berkley/Penguin Random House. The first book in the series, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, happened to be a quick acquisition because the imprint was already looking for a pet-themed cozy series with an Asian American female lead. It took only several months from providing them with sample chapters to getting the official contract!
How can our readers buy your book and contact you?
Mimi Lee Cracks the Code buy link: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/605898/mimi-lee-cracks-the-code-by-jennifer-j-chow/9781984805034/
Author website: www.jenniferjchow.com
Hi, everyone! George invited me to return to his blog and write about… I was clueless. My most recent mystery came out last February. Since then, I’ve been working on three short stories that give me fits. I’ve written a lot of shorts; however, I’ve never had the troubles I’m having now. George said, “Write about the fits.”
I like to write romantic comedy; in fact, most everything I’ve done has been in the romantic comedy genre. Short ones. Long ones. Mysteries. Now, I’m working on three shorts to combine into my Sommerville days 2 collection. I don’t remember the other stories giving me fits like these.
Pixie Trixie-Is a twist on the Cinderella story trope. When our heroine’s best friend gifts her a beauty package with stylist Pixie Trixie, our heroine is extremely wary about trying something new but is persuaded. “Everyone raves about this place.”
Our heroine is moving forward, trying new things, and even falling in love. So, what’s the problem, the fit?
What does one do when the story isn’t funny like the others I’ve written? My romantic comedy reputation is at stake. OR is it? Can I let one story not be as funny? Or find a way to punch it up?
What are your thoughts?
Blogger Intrusion: Use the comment box to share your thoughts!!!
Kissing School-There’s no problem here with funny. The story’s first line is “Skip told me I’m a terrible kisser.” What kind of guy says that to his sweetie? (BTW, an untold fact: a date did say that to me. In my defense, I’d only been kissed twice. LOL.) This despicable boyfriend isn’t popular with the heroine’s BFF. He regifts his girlfriend a twinset, the color of smashed moldy peas, one his mother wore. Goes to Paris with his mother.
The solution? The BFF suggests Kissing School with online lessons and a meet-up with the “facilitator,” the BFF’s hunky cousin. Oh boy.
My fit with this story is just the other day; I thought everything was perfect, and then, I found a timeline error. Easily fixed, but my head is saying, “what else is back there?”
What are your thoughts?
Remember Me? I need to hit the ending so I can get this story finished. But so far, nothing spectacular is coming in.
Our heroine overhears her boyfriend’s phone conversation with his buddy, saying he wants to “hook up” with her before dumping her. She is pissed and is prepared to bolt four miles in cowboy boots at midnight. As she slips on her boots, she sees his BMW car keys and “appropriates” his treasured ride.
With the help of her old friend contractor, she arms herself with a “toolbox” to deal with the jerk. Naturally, our heroine will utilize her “toolbox” after confronting the ex and ride off into the sunset with the contractor.
I’m a pantser, meaning I write from the seat of my pants. Usually, divine inspiration explodes in my brain, and voila! The ending. Only this time, yeah, I have nothing.
My fit? This is my toughest story. I might have to write anything and revise, revise, and revise more to shape it into something worthwhile.
What are your thoughts?
About Vicki Batman: Funny, sweet, and quirky, Vicki Batman’s stories are filled with hallmark humor, fun, and possibilities. She has sold many award-winning and bestselling romantic comedy works to magazines and, most recently, three humorous romantic mysteries. An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Cat fancier. Best Mom Ever. And adores Handsome Hubby.
About Temporarily Out of Luck: Great job. What man? And murder. Newly employed at Wedding Wonderland, Hattie Cooks is learning the industry from a woman she greatly admires. When her former brother-in-law is found dead in his luxury SUV, all fingers point to Hattie’s sister, who is planning her own I Dos.
Detective Allan Wellborn is caught between a rock and a hard place—Hattie’s family and investigating the murder of a well-connected Sommerville resident. The same loser was once married to Hattie’s sister. Determining who’s the bad guy—or gal—isn’t going to be easy and sure to piss off someone.
Can Hattie beat the clock to find out who murdered Tracey’s ex before she is charged with the crime and her wedding is ruined?
In my Book of Debts, I didn’t owe him one iota. However, I could hear my mother in my ear, trotting out a page from the “Right Thing to Do” lecture. What Stuart’s mom did broke all wedding protocol, and Allan doing his saintly thing, told her he would help, which translated meant he desperately needed somebody else’s help.
“Fine. I’m in, but you owe me more, like a date to the”—I grasped on the first thing that popped in my head—“opera.”
“Opera? Since when do you like opera?”
I held back a giggle. “Since yesterday.”
Allan blew a huge sigh. “Done.” He paused. “Opera?”
Find books by Vicki Batman at: https://www.amazon.com/author/vickibatman/