Book review: The PIP Inc. Mysteries by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Hey everyone,

It’s the third Monday, so it’s book review day! Today, I’m introducing you to the PIP Inc Mysteries by Nancy Lynn Jarvis. You might be more familiar with the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries by Nancy, but in July of 2019, she launched a new series. The main character, Pat Pirard, is snappy, brave, and kind of a snoop. But a really fun snoop!

So far, there are two books in this series. The first book, The Glass House, is 271 pages and was published in July of 2019. And the second, The Funeral Murder, came out in September of 2020. It’s 216 pages. The set would make a great holiday gift!

Now for my reviews. First, The Glass House:

I love the start of this new series from Nancy Lynn Jarvis. It’s written in her engaging style, with solid characters, plenty of red herrings, and a murder that feels perfect since the victim is someone you love to hate! 

I was particularly impressed by the deft introduction of the main character, Pat Pirard. At the start of the book, Pat is in her new car, a two-door sunburst yellow Mercedes, pulling into her newly-designated parking spot at the Santa Cruz County office building. She’s listening to Aretha’s RESPECT. We learn that she’s got strawberry blond hair, peachy lipstick, stylish pointed-toe pumps, and totes a leopard print briefcase. It’s a great character portrait, right there on page 1.

Needless to say, I was hooked. Pat is a fun character. She’s likeable, smart, and funny. Her friends are equally so. The plot moves along quickly, with Pat pulled into a murder investigation thirty pages in. As Pat proves herself as a P.I., she’s also falling in love. The romantic element of this book is written with just the right amount of spice. And the story is fun, with lots of detail about Santa Cruz, glasswork, and the ins and outs of private detecting. As the plot unfolds, you’ll find plenty of suspects and shifting facts, and you’ll definitely want to keep reading to find out what happens. 

I highly recommend The Glass House for readers who like a cozy mystery with a dose of romance.

And, The Funeral Murder:

The second book in the PIP Inc mystery series, The Funeral Murder, is a winner. Pat Pirad is back, with style. The Funeral Murder is a classic cozy, with a dead body by the end of Chapter 1 and plenty of multiple, intersecting motives by the end of Chapter 2. The murdered woman, Vivian Ponti, is someone everyone loves to hate. As Pat sifts through toxicology reports, family histories, complicated inheritances, birth and death certificates, and divorce decrees, she gets a little too close to the truth, putting herself; her beloved dog, Dot; and Lord Peter Wimsey, her cat; in grave danger. The book is written with Nancy Lynn Jarvis’ extraordinary eye for relevant detail; her snappy, humorous dialog; and her well-crafted plotlines. You’ll love it if you’re a local. If you’re not, you’ll want to visit! In a word, this book is fun. 

Again, if you’re looking for good reads for friends and family who like cozies, you can’t go wrong with this series.

Until next time,

Nancy

Meet J Dark

Hey everyone,

Today I’m catching up with Paper Angel Press author J Dark. J Dark is a latecomer to the writing profession, but enjoying every moment that life will allow. “The best thing to me is writing a story that someone enjoys. If I’ve made something fun and entertaining for people, it’s a win-win.”

J Dark lives with a house full of dreams, three cats, and various friends who occasionally drop by and stay for a while. The author lives in Kansas, where the winds blow all the time, and, if you blink your eyes, the weather changes.

Today, J Dark is promoting the series called The Glass Bottles. The name is a reference to the object that kicked off the series and figures in most of the books.  It will eventually be a 5-book series. Right now 3 of the books are finished and the 4th will be out sometime this winter if things go according to plan.

Book 1, Best Intentions, is approximately 56,000 words  and was published in July, 2016. 

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Book 2, Broken Bridge, is approximately 76,000 words and came out in September, 2017.

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Book 3, Beguiling Voices, is approximately 66,000 words and was released in November, 2018.

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Why did you decide to write this series?

This series came about from three things actually.  The first was I’d had fun writing on forums in City of Heroes and got the idea I liked writing.  The second was we were having a really bad year financially, and there seemed to be no way to have any celebrations for the upcoming holidays.  We were borrowing money to make ends meet. The third was National Novel Writing Month. It gave me the idea I could write a story, and give that to my daughter for Christmas.  Once I got started, the story took off on its own and I felt like I was just a listener as the story was told to me.

What genre is your series?

The genre is urban fantasy with post-apocalyptic life thrown in.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

Oh wow.  I’d hope that the books are both!  I know the way I write seems to be plot-driven, but I love to see how the characters evolve in the plot, so I’d like to check off both.

What makes your series unique?

That’s a good question. I think that its uniqueness comes from the setting, which is in Canada, and the idea that magic actually did exist before and was dormant for some reason.  

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I have tried plotting out a story, and the written plot lasts about two pages at most, and then it veers off someplace unexpected.  The stories seem to have their own direction and agenda. I just listen and record.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I really don’t plot them out.  I do my best to listen to the character, and what sounds right when I say it out loud.

How do you decide on the setting?

The setting is where I do take time.  The world needs to be written out so I can see what kind of environment and influences the character has.  Once the world’s in place, then I can start figuring where the characters live, and what beings, places, and things they interact with.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I think the closest thing I have to a mentor are the editors at Paper Angel Press.  They’re willing to explain their reasons for the edits, and that is valuable feedback to me. But as for a formal mentor, I just don’t have one.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I have a small alcove in the house that is both quiet and isolated, and has a window.  I like writing and do so mostly in the early morning from about 4:30 a.m. until I get a call for substituting.  Otherwise, I’ll write just before bed. I think early morning is best, oddly enough because I’m still waking up.  I think that the grogginess makes it easier to hear the story as the character is explaining what’s happened.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I really enjoy the challenge of writing professionally.  It’s a dream come true. I may never sell big, or get a lot of financial compensation (lord knows it’d be awesome if I did some day!), but the real point is I get to write, and share those stories with people.  I have a need to entertain people, I have a need to tell stories. This is the way I can do that. Stories are a way of making sense of some things, speculating about others, letting the imagination run free, and, getting a catharsis when life gets too real on occasion.  it’s a place I can go to and pull myself back together, look at questions in my life objectively, and maybe write a story about it to help myself understand some things in a different way. I suppose it’s a way to keep myself sane in a crazy world.

Where can readers find you?

Lots of places!

Paper Angel Press

Amazon author page

My website, The Pandemonium

Twitter

New Release from Paper Angel Press

Hey everyone,

I’m so happy to share the July release from Paper Angel Press. It’s an anthology by J Dark called Sometimes After Dark.

A collection of thoughtful tales by J Dark

Among the tales collected here to make you think, question, and wonder …

  • rescue mission in a combat zone on a hostile planet becomes something more
  • A young girl, searching for the parents who abandoned her, discovers that some answers only lead to more questions
  • A young boy learns that it takes more than superpowers to become a hero
  • A man who had led a less-than-perfect life finds out that it’s never too late for redemption
  • A dying Afghanistan veteran’s last moments of his life are not what he expected them to be
  • And, sometimes, on the night before Christmas, it is not always a silent night

Explore the past, future, and triumphs of the human soul.

Buy it now!

Check back next week! I’m interviewing J Dark on July 8!

–Nancy

BayCon recap

620856771673955012I spent last Sunday at BayCon 2019. I helped out at the Paper Angel Press table in the Dealer’s Room. I spent the day with Steven and also met author Andrea Monticue. A lot of folks wandered by the booth, curious about the books and the press. We sold a few books, met a lot of fun people, and made some great connections.

In the afternoon, I attended a session called “How to Write a Heroine,” which was billed as “tips for writing strong female protagonists in the sic fi/fantasy genre.” I knew that the amazing women on the panel — Deborah J. Ross, Marjorie Kaptanoglu, Jennifer L. Carson, and Katharine Kerr — would pass on great advice for writing heroines in any genre.

The panel was led by Marjorie Kapatanoglu, who did a great job of keeping the conversation on track. After introductions, the panelists talked about their female characters and their motivations. We heard about growth, pivotal moments, determination, self-esteem, self-confidence. Katharine Kerr said that the only difference between male and female protagonists was upper body strength! This led into a lively discussion about cultural roles and expectations.

Then, a member of the audience asked the panel members what they thought about rape and violence against women as being  a device to define a character’s trajectory. Great question. This led to a conversation on violence, gratuitous fiction, and what causes a character’s growth. I loved the depth of experience these authors brought to the discussion. Definitely worthwhile.

Until next time!

Nancy

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Meet S.C. Alban

sc_albanWelcome today to S.C. Alban, who writes both adult and YA fiction. S.C. Alban was born and raised in Northern California. She is the eldest of three children and often spent much of her childhood playing make-believe with her two younger sisters.

After graduating from university, where she majored in English literature, S.C. traveled for a year. She ultimately moved back to Northern California where she currently resides.

Her adult contemporary fantasy books, The Strega Series novels, will be published through Foster Embry Publishing (A Life Without Living – May 2019, Barely Living Alive – Fall 2019, and Death Before Dying – Winter 2020).

S.C. is currently working as an assistant editor for the growing boutique publisher, Lakewater Press, out of Queensland, Australia. During her time there, she’s had her hands in various projects from slush pile reader, to assisting acquisitions, to producing book trailers, working with the social media coordinator, to working directly with the editing & development department under the guidance of editorial director (and Angel), Kate Foster.

She currently resides in the gorgeous Sonoma County with her family, three cats, and three (terribly) lazy guard dogs, and considers herself pretty darn lucky to live in such an amazing place.

Her book ,A Life Without Living, The STREGA Series, Book 1, comes out today, May 21, from Foster Embry Publishing. It’s 350 pages long. The cover is gorgeous and the title is very compelling.

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Kate Martins appears to have it all – a good career, a beautiful home, and an amazing husband. What more could a woman ask for? But when Kate’s recurring nightmares begin to cross over into her waking hours, she discovers that her perfect life is not at all what it seems. It isn’t until she meets a mysterious stranger that Kate begins to question who she truly is and where she comes from.

Why did you decide to write this series?

I wrote this book because I’ve always had a fascination with witches and folk magic. I’m also a sucker for a tragic love story. I’m drawn to the dark stuff, the stuff that doesn’t always turn out like you want it to, and I wanted to write a love story that had that tone. Also, I wanted to write a novel with a heroine that was an anti-heroine of sorts, but has growth over the series.

What genre is your series?

There’s been some debate about exactly where this book/series would go among my friends, but I’d say this novel falls strongly in the contemporary fantasy genre. However, my sister is adamant that it’s a paranormal thriller all the way.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

Though there are bits of internal revelation by the characters, the series is a plot-driven roller coaster.

What makes your series unique?

I think what makes my book unique is the fact that my characters are terribly flawed and seem to make their lives more difficult with every choice, and somehow they’ll need to figure out how to make everything work out. That, and the focus on Italian witchcraft. My characters practice Stregheria. Of course, creative interpretation about the tradition is exercised, including borrowing form other traditions, is employed. But I think the way I combine the many traditions from all over the world is what makes the book unique.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I am a very loose plotter. I have an ending. And perhaps a few points along the way, but mostly I like to see where things lead.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

It’s silly, but whenever I hear a name I like I write it down in a journal I have set aside for name gathering. Also, I’ll say dialogue out loud using the names and imagine scenes and character interactions to see if the names match the person and go with the other characters.

How do you decide on the setting?

I tend to write about places I’ve been to and have experienced. Which makes a wonderful excuse to vacation. I try to travel as much as possible to get as many setting ideas settled in my brain. Then, I just mix and match to make the setting work for the story and characters.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I don’t have a writing mentor, per se, but I’m super lucky to have so many colleagues who I look up to that have definitely taken on a “mentor”role at one point or another. The writing community is such a supportive place to learn and grow.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

My writing schedule is so chaotic right now. I typically write at night, but after a day of teaching, that doesn’t always happen on a regular basis. Weekends are always good, though. I usually do some writing every weekend. And, my favorite place to write is in the lounge at my local bowling alley. I know it sounds bizarre, but it’s rarely busy and surprisingly quiet. Plus, the bartenders are really nice there and let me hang out in the coveted corner comfy couch for hours without any problems.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I just want to thank Foster Embry Publishing for breathing new life into this book, and series. I’m so excited to finish Kate and Gio’s story and share it with the world.

I also want readers to know that a portion of all sales for this series will be donated to The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). It’s the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders by providing support, and as a catalyst for prevention, cures, and access to quality care. As someone who’s been affected by an eating disorder, I know the work NEDA does is lifesaving, and I want to make sure I do whatever I can to help support them.

Where can readers find you?

Readers can find me on my website, my Amazon author page, or on Twitter.

 

BayCon 2019

Hey everyone,

Paper Angel Press will be at BayCon 2019! BayCon is in its 37th year and is the Bay Area’s longest fan-fun science fiction & fantasy convention. It’s over Memorial Day Weekend (May 24th through May 27th), at the San Mateo Airport San Francisco Marriott. I’ll be at the booth on Sunday.  Stop by and say hello!

You’ll also meet Paper Angel Press editor and author Steven Radecki, as well as author Andrea Monticue. I’m looking forward to it! I’ve never been to one of these conventions before, so I’m especially appreciative of this opportunity.

Follow our Twitter feed (@PaperAngelPress) during the convention for author appearance times and special deals available during the event. While you’re there, stop by and pitch your book ideas! Steven is actively looking for new authors.

Hope to see you there!

Nancy

Meet Laurel Heidtman

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Today, I interview Laurel Heidtman. I met her through an author Facebook group I’m a member of. I’m really looking foward to reading her books. Laurel is originally from southwestern Ohio and is a three-time graduate of Miami University of Ohio. For the past 28 years, she and her husband  have lived on private land inside Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky with an assortment of dogs and cats (3 dogs, 2 cats at the current time).

Over the years, she’s worked in many different professions. Laurel has been a dancer, a police officer, a registered nurse, and a technical writer to name the ones she did the longest. When she retired from the 9-to-5 life, she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She now writes mysteries and thrillers as Laurel Heidtman. She also write cozy mysteries, contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Lolli Powell.

Here’s a list of Laurel’s books. It’s impressive!

2014

Catch A Falling Star (An Eden Mystery), 247 pages, May 2014 – Laurel Heidtman

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The Boy Next Door, contemporary romance, 226 pages, November 2014 – Lolli Powell 

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2015

The Wrong Kind of Man, romantic suspense, 353 pages, January 2015 –Lolli Powell

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Bad Girls (An Eden Mystery), 344 pages, August 2015 – Laurel Heidtman

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2016

Whiteout, thriller, 284 pages, March 2016 – Laurel Heidtman

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The Body on the Barstool (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 314 pages, November 2016 – Lolli Powell

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2017

Whiskey Kills (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 369 pages, September 2017 – Lolli Powell

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The Gift: A Novella, 99 pages, November 2017 – Lolli Powell

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2018

Convenient Death (An Eden Mystery), 260 pages, January 2018 – Laurel Heidtman

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Murder in Eden, bundle of three Eden mysteries, 757 pages, April 2018 – Laurel Heidtman

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On to the interview!

What genre are your books?

As Laurel Heidtman, I write mysteries (crime novels) and thrillers. As Lolli Powell, I write cozy mysteries and romance.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

I think all of my books are a pretty even mixture of both. I write genre fiction, and the primary purpose of genre fiction is to entertain, so obviously plot is important to that. But unless the reader also believes in and likes/hates/fears the characters, he or she isn’t likely to be entertained. In 2017, Whiskey Kills, the second book in my Top Shelf cozy mystery series won a Bronze in The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards contest. The contest is judged by reader groups in London and Stockholm, and the readers provide feedback to the authors. One of the things they give an opinion on is whether they think the book is plot- or character-driven. Out of twenty-three readers, ten thought my book was plot-driven and thirteen thought it was character-driven. Since they all read the same book, I think that confirms I’m correct in thinking mine are a pretty even mixture.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I know where the story starts and where it ends, but how I get from one to the other usually emerges as I write. It’s like a road trip—you start at point A and you know you’re going to point B, but there are a lot of roads you can take to get there.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I name characters the same way I name my dogs and cats—I play around with different names until the dog/cat/character tells me that’s the one. Seriously, some names just don’t seem to fit, and then all of a sudden, one does.

How do you decide on the setting?

That is dictated by the story or the situation or event that triggered the idea for the story. For example, I got the idea for my thriller Whiteout from the experience of being trapped in our home in the woods in the freak March 1993 blizzard that hit Kentucky. We had 22 inches of snow and the high winds piled that into hip-high drifts. We lost power, of course, and had no hope of getting out for days. So I imagined what would happen to two couples with issues stranded like that and then two escaped killers show up on their doorstep.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Not really. But I am thankful for the support and encouragement of the many indie authors I’ve befriended both locally and through the Internet.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

My writing schedule leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the summer! I really want to get more disciplined about that, and it’s my goal for not only the New Year but the rest of this year. I’ve written and self-published eight full-length novels and one novella (plus published a bundle of three of my mysteries) in the last five years. That’s not bad, but if I had treated this more as a full-time job, I could have done a lot more.

I don’t have any favorite or interesting place to write. I just write at my desk, or occasionally I might take my laptop to a comfortable chair.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to remind people that all writers, but especially indie authors, depend on reader reviews. Potential readers also depend on reviews to help them find a book that would appeal to them. We writers appreciate any and all reviews. Of course, we appreciate ones that detail what the reader liked and didn’t like about the book (the latter helps us improve), but even a simple one- or two-liner is appreciated.

Where can readers find you?

I have two websites, one for each of my author names. They are: www.laurelheidtman.com and www.lollipowell.com.

My blog link is: www.ridgewriter.com.

Amazon author pages: https://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Heidtman/e/B00KOR458M/ and https://www.amazon.com/Lolli-Powell/e/B00TM9IJFI/

Facebook links:

Laurel Heidtman Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/Laurel-Heidtman-Author-1493519914256076/

Lolli Powell Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/lollipowell/

Twitter link: https://twitter.com/kylaurel1

Google+ link: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LaurelHeidtman

 

Meet Justin Robinson

612yrNavtyL._US230_Much like film noir, Justin Robinson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He splits his time between editing comic books, writing prose, and wondering what that disgusting smell is. Degrees in Anthropology and History prepared him for unemployment, but an obsession with horror fiction and a laundry list of phobias provided a more attractive option. He is the author of more than 10 novels in a variety of genres including detective, humor, urban fantasy, and horror. Most of them are pretty good.

Justin is the co-host of Tread Perilously a weekly “worst of television” podcast (featured on Fanbase Press).

He and his wife Lauri Veverka started Captain Supermarket Press in 2013 when they published Coldheart, the first book in the League of Magi series. Lauri sometimes designs stuff and likes to read Justin’s books. Sometimes she designs stuff for his books. She also updates this website, sometimes.

Justin and his family reside in Los Angeles with too many cats and extensive book, comic, and DVD collections.

Today, Justin is talking about his latest book, Wolfman Confidential (City of Devils, Book 3). It is 402 pages, and will be published on Halloween.

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The other two books in the series can be found here:

City of Devils (Book 1):

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Fifty Feet of Trouble (Book 2):

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Why did you decide to write this book?

My City of Devils series has a passionate fanbase and I love to explore the world, so writing the book is a foregone conclusion.

What genre is your book?

Like the bulk of my work, it’s best classified as Weird Noir. Essentially, imagine Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but instead of cartoons, it features movie monsters.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Most of my earlier stuff is strongly plot-driven, but this one is character-driven. Nick Moss, the hero of the two previous installments, has to decide what he is: a detective or a gangster while navigating a world of monsters.

What makes your book unique?

It’s the best parts of classic noir and b-movie monsters, but since the book takes place at the end of 1955 and the beginning of 1956, it also features several historical figures in supporting roles.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I outline. Noir plots tend to be too intricate to write by the seat of your pants. You’ll wind up with huge logic gaps and plot holes.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

With my human characters, I use census data from the time to look at common names. “Nick” sounded like a good private eye name, and “Moss” has that kind of nondescript feel I wanted. In the world of City of Devils, after someone gets turned into a monster, they choose a new name. These tend to be classical allusions, or they’re puns, because I like puns. So in this installment, you have a pair of wolfman cops named Lou Garou and Phil Moon, a bride of Frankenstein-style character named Jane Stitch, and a trio of goblin gangsters with the handles Flux, Murk, and Sawbones.

How do you decide on the setting?

I love noir and I love monster movies. It was a natural fit.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Nope!

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I write when my daughter naps. Since she’s only a year old, fortunately she naps a lot. She sleeps right next to me while I write. That’d be my favorite place.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have a ton of free short stories on my site (www.captainsupermarket.com) set in the world of City of Devils starring a lot of the characters from the books. So if you have a favorite character, from Gelatin Keyes the blob to Sam Haine the pumpkinhead, you can find a story all about them. Alternately, if you don’t know whether you want to start the series, take the world for a test drive. See a Thanksgiving crime gone horribly wrong in “Light or Dark,” or what the crew of a ghost ship does on vacation in “All Wet.”

Where can readers find you?

Website: http://www.captainsupermarket.com/

Twitter:  @JustinSRobinson

Instagram: @weirdnoirmaster