Books · Holiday · mystery

Release Day – Dash Away All

DashAwayAll coverToday is the release day for Dash Away All, the third book in the Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series. I was excited to combine Christmas in July and Christmas movies in this story.

Here’s a little bit about Dash Away All

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…Merry Winters is excited for her dream-come-true moment: being an on-site crafter for a Christmas movie. The tidings of joy are short-lived as she finds herself becoming a referee, dealing with a raging Ebenezer, participating in a bucket brigade, and finding evidence in a “murder.”

Is someone trying to stop the production or is it tied to a secret someone has on Luna Carmichael, the star of the movie and the queen of Christmas?

When Marie, Luna’s assistant, stumbles away from a car accident and dies, Merry believes the accident wasn’t quite so accidental. Was Luna or Marie the target? Merry finds more questions than answers, but one thing is certain: Everyone has an ulterior motive for being part of the production—including Marie.

After another murder, Merry wonders if the deaths are tied to a baby born long ago and abandoned. And more importantly, will Merry live long enough to find out?

notacreaturewasstirringTo celebrate the release of the third book in the series, the ebook version of the first book in the series, Not A Creature Was Stirring, is on sale for $0.99.  Better Watch Out (book 2) and Dash Away All (book 3) are $4.99.

Amazon Link

Nook Link 

 

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And if you’d like to hear more about Dash Away All and me, please head on over for a listen to The Cozy Corner with Alexia Gordon.

Books

Christmas in July Kickoff

Lights. Camera. Murder_ (1)July is one of my favorite months not only because two of my children have birthdays this month but also because of Christmas in July. My other child is born in December which is actually Christmas month. This month, I’m going to be doing a little celebrating of Christmas in July with a FB event (also to celebrate the release of Dash Away All), Christmas/holiday related topics on my Facebook author page and on my blog. There will also be some giveaways.
One of my mystery series, Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery, features a heroine who loves Christmas and crafting as much as I do and has made Christmas crafting her career. Merry’s newest adventure, Dash Away All, releases July 7th, where she’s venturing to Indiana as the resident crafter for a Christmas mystery movie.
Tomorrow (July7th), I and my co-host Sybil Johnson will be holding a Christmas in July event on Facebook where will be celebrating the release of Dash Away All and Christmas. Join us to talk about books, Christmas, crafting, and there will also be some giveaways. So please join us tomorrow from 4-6 pm EST. https://www.facebook.com/events/4704050036287313/

 

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Courtney Kelly from A Sprinkling of Murder

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a sprinkling of murderWelcome to The Self-Rescue Princess, Courtney, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life.

I believe in inviting magic into one’s life, but, um, when uninvited trouble enters my shop, I realize I’ll need more than a sprinkling of my imagination to solve a murder. Yes, a murder. Since childhood, I have loved fairies. After my mother died, however, I lost touch with that feeling of magic. A year ago, at age twenty-nine, I rediscovered it when I left my father’s landscaping business to spread my wings and start a fairy garden business in beautiful Carmel, California. But the light of the magical world I’ve created inside the shop is darkened when I find the neighboring dog-grooming business owner, Mick Watkins, dead beside the fountain. To make matters worse, the police suspect me of the crime. Me! Utter nonsense.

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor? 

After my mother died, I studied hard to make my father proud. In college, I turned my attention to chemistry and earth sciences. After graduation, I joined Dad’s thriving landscaping outfit in Carmel and dedicated myself to working the land: dig, plant, don’t have fun, repeat. Boring. Dad loved it, but me? I needed something more. When I went to a Renaissance Faire, I met a fairy garden designer. I was so enamored by the whimsical creations, I begged the woman to teach me the art. As I learned to design gardens, the woman gave me tips on how to attract fairies. I remembered laughing at the notion. But guess what? When I took the risk, spread my wings, and invested in Open Your Imagination, it happened. 

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

My father is NOT pleased with me trying to clear my name. A former cop who turned to landscaping after an injury that sidelined him, he believes the police will uncover the truth on their own. But I’m not so sure. With Fiona’s help—Fiona is the fairy who revealed herself to me the day I opened the shop—I’m sure I can discover the truth faster. I do not want to go to jail. I will not look good in an orange jumpsuit.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

During high school, I had a steady boyfriend. When we went to college, we remained faithful. After we graduated, we became engaged. And then, the day after we had a co-ed bridal shower, he announced he didn’t want to be married. Ever. He needed to focus entirely on becoming a judge. Luckiest day of my life. That was when I realized that I did not need a man to complete me. I needed me. My energy. My artistic gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I like men, and there might be someone in Carmel who will catch my eye, but I won’t need him. I have created a business that is blossoming. I surround myself with supportive friends. And if I need saving, I’ll do it with my wits, brain, and spunk.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Find your passion and pursue it with all your heart.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

Persevere. Despite all the naysayers, you know what you want, and you can have it if you keep focused on the goal. Also, if you’re ever suspected of murder and you know you’re innocent, fight, fight, fight for justice and the truth.

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat? 

Oh, gosh, I’d like to think this is the only time I’ll run across a dead body. Honestly, how many times does that happen to a person in a lifetime? I’m hanging up my hat. Definitely. Unless, of course, something happens…

Thank you so much for asking me such thought-provoking questions.

 

Books

SRP Heroine Interview: Jolie Tucker from Cast Iron Stake Through the Heart

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CAST IRON STAKE THROUGH THE HEARTWelcome, Jolie, to The Self-Rescue Princess. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life.

On again, off again, ON AGAIN–Jolie Tucker and Mick Meiser are giving their relationship another try. Things seem to be working out for them so far, and love is on the menu all over Leavensport! An unexpected pregnancy with a surprising partner, a therapist pairs off with the chief of police, and the mayor of Leavensport falls for Jolie’s Aunt Fern! 

Although Leavensport is serving up affairs of the heart, there are a lot of mysterious activities lurking in the air. The townspeople awake to find freshly dug empty holes throughout the fields that were recently up for sale under suspicious circumstances. Jolie and Ava believe they are taking a break from solving murders when they start teaching an online cooking course–until they witness one of their students take a stake through the heart!

 Welcome to Leavensport, OH, where DEATH takes a DELICIOUS turn.

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Lately, my life has been nothing but risky. Crime has been on the rise in my little village and I seem to always find myself in the middle of it. My BFF, Ava Martinez, got her PI license and started a PI service called BOUNTY-FULL Investigative Services, figuring we should at least make a little money off of solving so many mysteries. 

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Honestly, no. My life has always been ho-hum, and that’s the way I like it—well, other than my helicopter family—which, don’t even get me started with them. I mean, they mean well—I think? My mom wants to run my life—and my grandma—oh man, she is a pistol—all four-foot eight of her, but don’t let her height fool you. Then, there’s my Aunt Fern, who is the village gossip and always butting into my love life—well, my mom and grandma always are popping into my home unexpectantly and at the worst times too . . . wait, I told you DON’T get me started on them—GEESH! I guess my point is that I’m flawed—seriously flawed in so, so many ways—but I’m working on it—going to therapy, journaling, trying to figure it all out. Wait, what? No, don’t judge me—if you were raised in my family, you’d need therapy too!

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

H-E-double toothpicks—who ISN’T annoyed at my sleuthing? My boyfriend, Mick Meiser, is a detective, but he has MS and has been having some balance and leg weakness lately—he’s never happy to see me in harm’s way. My family, well, we won’t go there again—but yeah, they can’t stand it. I mean, the criminals—they typically seem to hate my guts—oh yeah, and Lydia, my frenemy from toddlerhood. 

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Did I mention I’m flawed? Yeah, I analyze things way too much. I have trouble trusting. There’s maybe a handful of people that I completely trust, but I am loyal and dedicated to those people—beyond loyal. I’m a cat lover—tend to love animals more than most people. I’m an excellent cook but horrible with numbers—that’s why I hang out in the kitchen and leave the front of our restaurant (did I mention Ava and I co-own Cast Iron Creations?) to Ava who is ALL PERSONALITY all the time!

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

Hey, I’m still figuring it all out. I just turned twenty-five in May. My guy, Mick–he’s ten years older than me, with a lot on his plate. I’ve come to realize I need to get my act together, hence therapy and journaling. Solving crimes has proven to help me grow up and have more confidence in myself. I’ll get back to you in a couple years when I’ve worked through more stuff!

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Be yourself and trust yourself—go with your first instincts because it will save you a lot of time, trouble, and energy in your life.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

To trust my instincts—I haven’t mastered this yet. I’m slowly getting better at it!

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

 Beyonce’s “Girls Run the World” because it’s true, babeee!

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

Oh, it’s FAR from over! Look for the dum-dum writer, Jodi Rath, to get me into more trouble coming up with Deep Dish Pizza Disaster this September 4, 2020, then Yuletide Cast of the Iron Skillet coming December 18, 2020, and three more crimes to solve in 2021—this chick needs to chillax!

 

 

 

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Marygene Brown from Southern Sass and a Crispy Corpse

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We’re welcoming Marygene Brown to The Self- Rescue Princess. Here’s a little bit of intriguing information about her before we jump into the interview:

Southern Sass and a Crispy CorpseOn Georgia’s picturesque Peach Cove Island, a killer is serving up a two-for-one special . . .
 
After their mama’s passing, Marygene Brown returned to Peach Cove Island to help her sister Jena Lynn run the family diner, renowned for its homemade peach desserts. But Mama is never too far away—her sassy spirit haunts the island, and more specifically Marygene. Lately, Mama has been warning her that the dead will seek her out to solve their murders, an idea Marygene is far from peachy keen on.
 
But that prophecy appears to be coming true when she goes skinny-dipping off the island and swims right into a woman’s charred corpse floating in the waves. And when Marygene and her brother Sam come upon a second burned body in a wine cellar at an event they’re catering, it appears they have a double homicide on their hands. It soon turns out the victims have more in common than their charred remains, and Marygene will need to double down to find a killer who has no aversion to playing with fire. Good thing Mama has her back . . .
 
Includes Seven Recipes from Marygene’s Kitchen!

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

I don’t have a choice in the matter. From what I’ve gleaned from Mama, when one of the deceased is forced to remain, it creates an energy around the person they’re communicating with. An aura, if you will. The deceased will be drawn to that person to enlist their aid. In this instance, me

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No way! I saw myself hosting a Food Network cooking show. Too bad that didn’t work out. 

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

My father Sheriff Edward Carter isn’t at all happy that I’ve gotten involved in these sorts of cases.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Interviewer note: Question six is: describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.) 

Wow, I think this answer would cover both questions 5 and 6.   I’ve been through a few trials in my life. The one that shaped me the most was choosing Mr. Wrong. Since my painful marriage and equally painful divorce, I’ve come to terms with the abuse I’d endured by my ex’s hand. I’ve been surprised by how much sharing with a group of others who’ve had similar experiences helped me along my healing journey. I’ve learned that I possess the strength to endure and grow. And that our pasts do not define our futures.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Never give up. Ever. 

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

Failure is not fatal nor is it final. Keep moving forward. 

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

Song? I have an entire playlist! https://www.kateyoungbooks.com/marygene-browns-baking-playlist.html

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

My amateur sleuthing days are just beginning. Stay tuned. 

 

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Interview: Angel Delaight from #A SmallTownCanBe #Murder

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small town murder1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

You have all heard the story: big-city girl moves to small town and lives happily ever after. That’s not the forever-after Angel Delaight found when she moved to Whistle Stop,
Minnesota. First, her realtor is found dead in her new house, which is also rumored to be
haunted. Then homeless animals began showing up at her door, along with a bevy of
townspeople who seem to know what she is doing at all times. Not to mention a secret
journal turning up during a renovation, revealing more secrets hidden in this small community.

Will those secrets from the past put Angel’s life and those of her friends and family in
danger? When the big-city girl meets a small town, it can be murder.

2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

It wasn’t a decision I made when I moved from Chicago to small-town Whistle Stop,
MN. It was made for me when a dead body ended up in the house I bought to
renovate.

3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No, absolutely not. I moved from Chicago to a small town for peace and tranquility and
to figure out the rest of my life.

4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of
amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

I am a carpenter by trade. I know it is an unusual career for a young woman, but I
followed in my dad’s footsteps. I decided to take a break from the work world when my
dad sold his construction company, and though I could have worked for the new owners
or taken over the helm, I felt the need for something different. Who knew I would be
solving mysteries involving the history of a small town in Minnesota. I was least pleased
by dead bodies. That wasn’t in my old job description.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I am a strong woman. I am good at problem-solving and I found I have creativity in my
head. I have a soft heart and my patience at times runs a little thin, especially when my
privacy seems to be invaded.

6. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to
you.

I used to think being a self-rescue princess meant being able to solve anything on your
own, not dwelling on the problem but taking action to solve it. I turned down proposals because my fiances wanted me to change who I am, meaning my career. I believe a strong woman is confident in who they are. You have to learn to be alone with you and like spending time with the authentic you. Moving to Whistle Stop I learned that letting others help you is also a sign of strength and not a weakness because by accepting their offer you also help them because they feel valued.

7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Take the time to figure out who you are. Don’t make decisions out of fear because you
doubt your value.

8. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

Eating chocolate and drinking wine helps.

9. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

It’s A Wonderful World.

10. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up
your detective hat? 

I am not quitting. I still have some mysteries to solve and I have learned small towns hold secrets and they come out when you least expect them. The Whistle Stop sage will continue.

Books · mystery

Cover Reveal: Dash Away All

DashAwayAll coverHere it is…the cover for Dash Away All, the third book in the Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series, and my ninth book with Henery Press.

In Dash Away All, Merry Winters is taking a break from her hometown of Season’s Greetings–and all her problems there–and heading to Indiana to become the on-site crafter for a Christmas movie. The tidings of joy are short-lived as she finds herself becoming a referee, dealing with a raging Ebenezer, participating in a bucket brigade, and finding evidence in a “murder.” Is someone trying to stop the production or is it tied to a secret someone has on Luna Carmichael, the queen of Christmas?

When Marie, Luna’s assistant, stumbles away from a car accident and dies, Merry believes the accident wasn’t quite so accidental. Was Luna or Marie the target? Merry finds more questions than answer and one thing is certain: everyone has an ulterior motive for being part of the production—including Marie. After another murder, Merry wonders if the deaths are tied to a baby born long ago and then abandoned. And more importantly, will Merry live long enough to find out?

I had a love-hate relationship with writing Dash Away All. I loved the story: the plot, taking Merry out of hometown and away from her family and friends, Christmas movie setting, some of the scenes (which caused some of my problems). It was a new challenge to write Merry without using the other characters I had grown to love in Not A Creature Was Stirring and Better Watch Out. I found I missed them a lot and Merry’s reasoning for getting involved just wasn’t strong enough without her having a personal tie as her love for her friends and family is her strongest driving force. In the fourth draft, I brought in a personal connection for her: Marie is Paul McCormick’s cousin.

And then there were the scenes I loved. Capital L.O.V.E.D. That made it really hard to get the right flow for the book as I wanted to use these chapters so badly I was forcing them into the story…which is probably why writing scenes as they come to me isn’t the method of writing for me. My love of a scene even had me starting the book at the wrong point. I wanted this scene so much but it made no sense at the beginning. If that scene took place there was no reason for the production to continue so it couldn’t be the reason for Merry’s investigation, so back to the typewriter. I rewrote the first quarter of the book four times before I finally found the right start for the book. And, I evidently had to concede that one scene I adored had no place in the book anymore. It was so hard to pull it out.

There was also another part of the story I struggled with and even when I turned in the book I still wasn’t quite happy with the ending but it was time for me to stop fighting with the manuscript (I had my deadline extended while I wrestled with it). The main problem was I have a few will-not-ever-do/write rules in my head. There are just some things I like steering clear of but these self-imposed rules placed restrictions on the story and didn’t allow it to flow naturally. By forcing the direction too much, it took out the emotion in the book. Everything was just happening because I wanted/needed it. (I’m keeping this part vague as I don’t want to give away a big part of the story.)

Fortunately, I have a wonderful editor who is patient and understanding of my angst and helped me get over the hurdle I created for myself and encouraged me to see that there was nothing wrong with “breaking” one of my rules. I’m now very happy and excited with this story, and I love it. It’s more authentic to itself–and all because in the end I said screw it and broke a rule.

 

 

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition Part I: Apple Cider Slaying, The Little White Christmas Lie, and The Christmas Movie Christmas

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas, books, and movies that I can during this time frame.

The end of this year keeps throwing wrenches into my well-laid plans. I had planned on having my next Merry & Bright done but the story needed a little more time so I found myself deep in editing during December and just as I was getting on track…I’d catch something. I guess my immunity systems just isn’t what it used to be. But I’m determined to at least do a couple of my review editions, so here I go:

apple cider slayingFirst book for my holiday reviewing is Apple Cider Slayings by Julie Anne Lindsey. Living in West Virginia, I couldn’t wait to read a story set in my now home state. In the story, Winnie is helping her grandmother run the orchard while also working on starting her own business she hopes will help keep the orchard in the black. On the day of an important meeting–and a tour–Winnie discovers the body of her grandmother’s nemesis and her grandmother becomes the prime suspect.

I love the description of the orchards and all the Christmas preparation for the festivities at the orchard. The mystery is the prime focus of the story…which it should be. I did feel like I had solved the mystery early in the book and was surprised (pleasantly) when I learned I was wrong. While the story is set during the holiday season, it doesn’t play a key role in the story. The mystery was solid and I really liked Winnie and her grandmother.

a-christmas-movie-christmas-movie-featuredNext up is a Christmas movie–The Christmas Movie Christmas which was on UPtv Channel. Eve loves everything about Christmas, especially Christmas movies–my kind of woman while her sister, Lacy, feels the opposite. They make wishes to Santa and wake up in a Christmas movie! How lucky can a girl(s) get! While Eve is living a dream come true, Lacy feels like she is in a never-ending nightmare.

This was the cheesiest, corniest, cliche-ridden Christmas movie ever—and I adored every second of it. I loved how the movie was supposed to be over the top and give the viewer every standard Christmas movie want. For the holidays, I love my entertainment to be cheerful, uplifting, and heart-warming. I want “small” time angst and this movie gave me what I desire. I have to say it is my favorite holiday Christmas movie this year. I plan on adding it to my must-watch list.

the little white christmas lieAnd last entry for this edition is The Little White Christmas Lie by Kristy Tate. Romance writer Millie Cruise has agreed to attend an event at a quaint inn in New England and doesn’t realize that the man she falls onto on the train is the Carson, grandson of the proprietor. The pair get off to a horrible start when Carson makes fun of the romance books his grandmother loves to read–her favorite author being the heroine who writes under a pseudonym.

On the way to the inn, Millie gets into an accident and not wanting to leave her side, Carson, tells the emergency that they’re engaged so he can stay with her. When word reaches his family, and the small town, the lie takes on a life of its own. Carson agrees to tell his family the truth until Millie’s ex-boyfriend turns up and Millie changes her mind. What’s one little white lie going to hurt?

This was a charming story set around Christmas time. There was a lot of shenanigans going on during the time and sometimes it left me a little confused on what was going on. (Though it could also be me as I haven’t been feeling well.) I wished the story was a little slower paced so I could enjoy the Christmas movements a little more and I’d been able to “meet” all the secondary characters.

 

 

 

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery

SRP Heroine Interview: Rory Anderson from Ghosts of Painting Past

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Let’s give a big Self-Rescue Princess welcome to Rory Anderson. She’s joining us at the start of this holiday season to share a little bit about herself.

GHOSTS OF PAINTING PASTPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love attending the events around Vista Beach where I live like the pier lighting ceremony and school concert. This year my BFF, Liz Dexter, and I had a booth at the local craft fair so we worked on painting ornaments to sell at it for months beforehand. I also helped my parents out with the annual sand-snowman contest. But Christmas didn’t turn out to be as fun as I expected. When developers tore down the house across the street from mine, they found a decades old skeleton. A skeleton! It didn’t take long for the police to identify it as someone my father knew in high school. When he was implicated in the crime, I just had to prove that he was innocent.

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Concern for my dad. I know he’d never kill anyone, but everything seemed to point to him as the culprit. I just had to get involved and prove he was innocent before it completely ruined his career and his life.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No, never in my wildest dreams did I expect to have anything to do with murder and now I’ve been involved in five investigations!

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

That would be my boyfriend, Martin Green. He’s a detective in the Vista Beach police department. He’s not thrilled when I investigate on my own. He’s afraid I’ll get hurt. No, detective work isn’t my normal career. I’m a freelance computer programmer. I write apps, put together websites, that sort of thing.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My willingness to drop everything and help out friends and family. I’m persistent and a good problem solver. I’m also a bit analytical, which I think helps in investigations. But, sometimes I’m too concerned about what others think of me.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

A strong, confident woman tries to solve her own problems. At the same time, she knows she can’t always do everything by herself so she knows when it’s time to ask for help.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dreams. Persistence pays off.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

Life can take surprising turns but, no matter what happens, I know I’ll get through it with the help of my family and friends.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

The Gloria Gaynor song, “I Will Survive.” I’ve been involved in quite a few murder investigations now and have even been suspected myself. I’ve survived it all.

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

I’ve said before that I hope I never see another dead body in my life. But I keep on being drawn into investigations. I have the uneasy feeling that it’s going to happen to me again, and soon.

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery

SRP Heroine Interview: Merry Wynter from Muffin But Trouble

Welcome to the Self-Rescue Princess, we’re starting the holiday season by chatting with  Merry Wynter.

Muffin But Trouble high resPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Life is a little hectic. I own a real life American Castle in Western New York state; it was built by my lumber baron great-many-times grandfather and passed down through the generations, but because my dad died when I was just five or so, I never knew about that side of the family. I didn’t know anything about it until I inherited Wynter Castle from my great uncle Melvyn Wynter. I intended to sell it and return to NYC where I had always lived. I fell in love with the nearby town of Autumn Vale, though, and made friends, and ended up staying and fixing it up with my New York friends, Pish and Shilo.

The problem was, how to pay for living there. I tried a few schemes over the years, including my muffin baking and selling business, but it became clear it was going to take something big to make a go of it. Soooo…

Pish Lincoln, my dear friend, and I have partnered to create a performing arts center for a symphony orchestra and opera company. Kind of like Tanglewood is for the BSO.

But there is so much else going on! I keep finding trouble. I don’t mean to, but… it happens. Lately I was accosted in a neighboring town by a rude street preacher guy who kept calling me a Jezebel! He’s part of this fringe group who own a compound near town. It’s run by one of those doom and damnation cultish groups.

I’ve since discovered that a couple of good friends may have been lured in by the group and its leader. Between that and the missing girls my husband, former sheriff Virgil Grace, and his former deputy have been investigating, I’m worried, so I’m going to do something about it.

I just hope nothing goes wrong when my friends and I storm the compound!

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

I’ve been fighting the negative attitude some townies have of me and my New York friends… there have been a few unfortunate incidences over the last three years. Most in Autumn Vale like us, some have become truly great friends, and others are ambivalent, but there are a few who feel like we are out to change Autumn Vale, and they aren’t sure they want that. I try to do everything I can to help people and change minds. I want them to see me and the people I’m bringing into their lives as a good thing, for them and the community.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

That’s a funny question! LOL. I’m no Wonder Woman. I’m just a former plus size model, turned fashion stylist, turned muffin baker, turned property developer, turned reluctant crime fighter.

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

Least pleased? Whoever is guilty, I suppose. My husband, even though I first met him in his capacity as sheriff of Autumn Vale, has been very good about not interfering when I’m on a hunt. He’s helpful, in fact, and now that he’s a private investigator, he can even help with resources.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

I like that description! But for a long time I don’t think I was strong or confident. I met and married a fashion photographer when I was in my twenties, but after two blissful years of marriage he died in a tragic car accident. It took me a long time to move on… in fact it wasn’t until I came to Autumn Vale to have a look at my inheritance and met Virgil that I started to see a life beyond widowhood. My hero is Lizzie Proctor, now eighteen, who is the very essence of a strong confident woman. When I met her (when I first arrived in Autumn Vale) she was fifteen and troubled, and she is still in conflict with her mom much of the time, but she found her calling – photography – and is fierce in following it, and defending her friends in any situation. I respect her more than I can say.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. And if you decide to do something, do it with your whole passion. Don’t expect success in what you want to do to just come to you because you want it. You’ve got to earn it. You may or may not succeed, but the beauty and honor is in striving for your goals.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

To not be afraid to butt in… truly! One of my friends that is in trouble, Gordy Shute, is an example. We could all see he was drifting away from us but we didn’t want to interfere in his life, and now he has ended up in that cult compound. I think I’ve learned… sometimes you need to butt in!

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. LOL.

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

I have a feeling trouble will find me again… if things get too quiet or go too smoothly, my friend Pish can be counted on to get us into some fix! It’s always because he’s trying to help somebody. (Merry will indeed run into trouble again in Double or Muffin – coming in 2020. Pish agrees to host an opera competition reality show that has lost its venue, and… trouble ensues!)

If you’d like to read Merry’s adventure in Muffin But Trouble, you can find it here:

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