Books · Craft · mystery · Writing

Release Day: Not A Creature Was Stirring

It’s here! Release day! Not A Creature Was Stirring is the first book in my new series featuring Merry Winters, a crafterpreneur who specializes in all things Christmas.

notacreaturewasstirringEmpty nester Merry Winters loves three things: Christmas, crafting and her family. To regain purpose and joy, Merry hits the road to a Christmas vendor event with her furry sidekick Ebenezer in her new mobile crafting sleigh, aka an RV.

But it soon turns into the nightmare before Christmas when Merry unwraps her Scrooge of an ex-husband’s body in one of the RV’s compartments. Add to that his missing winning lottery ticket believed to be stashed somewhere in the RV, leading the homicide detective and Merry’s stepdaughter to believe Merry is the one whodunit.

With visions of prison dancing in her head, will Merry be able to solve this Christmas calamity before she’s locked away?

I’ll be on a blog tour from January 21-Feb 3 2019. Here’s where you can find me:

January 21 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

January 22 – Carstairs Considers – REVIEW

January 22 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

January 23 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW

January 23 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 24 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 24 – Readeropolis – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 25 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

January 25 –  Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

January 26 – Laura`s Interests – REVIEW

January 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 28 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW

January 28 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

January 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

January 29 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

January 30 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

January 30 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

January 31 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

January 31 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 1 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

February 1 – MJB Reviews – REVIEW

February 2 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

February 3 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

February 3 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

Stop by my tour spots to learn more about me, Merry, and also to enter into a giveaway.

Books · Reviews

SRP Review:Drop Dead Ornaments by Lois Winston

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

drop dead ornamentsDrop Dead Ornaments features Anastasia Pollack, a mother of teenagers and an editor for a craft magazine who finds herself drawn into a murder investigation when her son’s girlfriend’s father is accused of the crime.

Anastasia is a take-charge woman with a heart for her family–even her ex-family members who don’t (in my opinion) deserve her kindness. But, that trait is what makes Anastasia who she is and why I adore her so much. She knows these annoying family members flaws and deals with it the best she can. I love how the book not only focuses on the mystery but also what else is going on in the heroine’s life.

What I like best about Anastasia is how she balances her quest for justice with the needs and fears of her family. She has gotten herself into some huge scrapes in the past that have placed her life at risk and is doing what she can to assure her family she take her safety into consideration…though she can’t turn her back on someone in need. I also enjoy how Anastasia has a respectful “professional” relationship with the homicide detective. I sensed that while they both annoyed the other, they didn’t consider the other one an enemy.

I can’t wait to read more of her adventures and the progress of her relationship with her family and her boyfriend.

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Cora Chevalier from Assault and Beadery

ASSAULT AND BEADERY BANNER 640

Assault and Beadery coverPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

All of my dreams are coming true. Since moving to Indigo Gap, North Carolina, I’ve been blessed with a great boyfriend, a lovely home, and a booming craft retreat business. But on the eve of my first Crafty Mom’s Escape Weekend, tragedy strikes again in Indigo Gap. This time, it’s curtains for Stan Herald, the disagreeable director of the local theater group, who’s murdered on the opening night of their new production. Worse, my friend Zee is accused of the crime.

I’m determined to prove my friend’s innocence, but Zee’s mysterious past is making that difficult. And with a list of suspects longer than a double spool of satin cording, getting a bead on the real culprit won’t be easy. With my friends Jane and Ruby at my side I must string together the clues and solve Stan’s murder before the killer gives an encore performance.

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

My friend Zee is innocent. I know it. I have to help. It doesn’t seem like the police are helping her.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No, I never did. Even though I used to work at a women’s shelter, I have never been involved in a murder investigation until I moved to Indigo Gap.

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

I run a craft retreat and I’m a craft blogger. As to who’s least happy about my sleuthing, that would be a toss up between the local police and my boyfriend Adrian.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m a people pleaser, which I think is a good and bad  trait. I want to help, but sometimes people  take advantage and I get myself into trouble. I’m creative and love to craft and write, but am not so good with details, like paying the bills and making things add up in the books!

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

Being able to rely on yourself, know that you can handle just about any situation. Also, part of being confident and strong is being vulnerable at times. Showing vulnerability is not a weakness.

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

Listen to that little voice inside of you and act on it.

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

People can fool you—and themselves.

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

I’ve hung up my hat—for now!

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery

SRP Heroine Interview: Carrie Singleton from Read and Gone

read and gone

READ AND GONE coverPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

Recently, my life has been just about perfect. I love being the Clover Ridge Library’s head of programs and events. I have a great boyfriend and wonderful friends. And then my father, whom I haven’t seen in years and happens to be a thief, shows up at my cottage wanting me to help him get his half of a heist of gems from his crooked partner. As if I would ever do anything like that!

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

When my father’s partner-in-crime is found murdered, my father becomes suspect number one. Now crooked as his is, my father is no murderer and I feel obliged to clear his name. I must find those gems before my father or any of the several people searching for them finds them.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Yes, actually, since I helped solve a cold case and a recent murder in my community a few months ago.

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

I’d say Lieutenant John Mathers, the police chief of Clover Ridge Police Department, would rather I didn’t get involved in his cases. John is a good friend of my Uncle Bosco and he worries about my safety.

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

Some of us have grown up in a dysfunctional family as I did, but that’s no reason to let it interfere with having a wonderful, worthwhile rest of your life. Try not to be bitter; allow yourself to have loving, caring relationships. Unless it would be toxic to let a family member back into your life, be willing to give this person another chance if he/she has changed.

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

I realized how much I love my father. Growing up, I was very hurt because he was never around, even when he wasn’t in jail. Spending time with him as an adult, I saw that he loves me and shows it as best he can. Much as I’d like it, I cannot expect him to behave like a typical father.

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

You Can’t Choose the Members of Your Family

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

I intend to continue sleuthing when the need arises. To be perfectly honest, I LOVE sleuthing. It’s challenging and exciting!

 

 

 

 

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Gia Morelli from Murder Made to Order

MURDER MADE TO ORDER BANNER 640Murder Made to OrderToday, Gia Morelli is joining us at the Self-Rescue Princess. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life.

I finally started to settle into my life in Florida, though I have still been a little homesick for New York, when I got word that the town government wants to shut down my All-Day Breakfast Café. Apparently, a forgotten zoning regulation means the café was opened illegally, and hardboiled council president Marcia Steers refuses to budge. I’ve been considering hanging up my apron and going back to New York, but before I could give up hope on my dream, I stumbled over something shocking in the local swamp; Marcia Steers, dead in the water. Now, I’m determined to make sure justice is brought to the killer and to save my café.

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

Even though I was undecided whether or not to stay in Florida, the choice should be mine. I refuse to be pushed out and forced to give up something I’ve worked so hard for. Besides, someone has to make sure Marcia gets justice.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Never! When my husband deceived me and scammed tons of people out of their fortunes, I was a wreck. I could barely make it through the day sometimes. But like they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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 definitely be Detective Hunter Quinn, my best friend’s cousin and my sort of boyfriend. He is determined to keep me safe and wants me as far from this investigation as possible. Unfortunately, I overheard a conversation that won’t allow me to walk away until I know what’s going on and what Hunt’s involvement is.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I am extremely loyal and would do anything to help a friend, which I consider a strength, but I find it hard to trust. I think that’s one of my biggest weaknesses. Having everyone you know turn their backs on you makes it difficult to trust again, but I’m working on it with the help of Savannah and my new friends. Oh, and I am severely arachnophobic, which I’d like to think I’m working on, but…well…yeah.

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

When Bradley—my ex—deceived me and hurt so many people, I fell apart. If not for my best friend, Savannah, I’m not sure I would have made it through that time. I was an emotional wreck. Everyone I knew turned their backs on me—some because they didn’t believe I wasn’t involved and others because they feared the repercussions of standing by me. I finally fled to Florida to open my dream café and move on with my life, only to find things there were vastly different from New York. I’m still having a hard time adjusting to critters, tornadoes, and even having friends who stand by your side no matter what. For me, being a self-rescue princess means standing up and moving on no matter how difficult it is, but it also means starting to learn how to trust again, to let other people into your life instead of moving on alone because one man betrayed you.

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

Never give up on your dreams!

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

As much as I’d like to think I’m hanging up my detective hat to run my café full time once this is over, I have a feeling there’s another problem lurking just around the corner. I know for sure I’d never turn my back on a friend who needed me, so if that’s the case, there will certainly be more sleuthing for me in the future.

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Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Review: Alex “Red” Vlodnachek from Confessions of a Red Herring

CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING BANNER 640CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRINGWelcome, Red. Thank you so much for visiting us at The Self-Rescue Princess. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

I’m Alex Vlodnachek. My best friend, Trip, calls me “Red.” I was a reporter for a D.C. metro daily for a dozen years. Then I followed a higher paycheck to a boutique P.R. firm. Big mistake.

Short version: Boss is a sociopathic slime ball. Big public row with boss. Framed for boss’s murder.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Honestly, at this point, I feel like crime is fighting me.

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

That’s a toss up between my grandmother (Baba) and the killer. Neither one is very happy I’m trying to out a murderer.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Probably that I don’t stop to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses. Face it, if I had that kind of mindset, I’d have never gotten into this mess.

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

Discovering who really killed my boss. Not for any altruistic motive, like “truth” or “justice,” either. I’m doing this for my own survival. Try finding a new job when you practically have “murder suspect” stamped on your forehead.

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

Eat more chocolate.

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

Trouble has a way of following me. Just recently, I took an evening to attend a glamorous cocktail party at the B&B across the street. I was thinking it would be fun. You know, put on a nice dress and enjoy a glass of champagne, a little small talk, a few canapés. Instead, I got pulled into a missing person’s case. And that was before I found a body.

 

Dana Dratch is the author of CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING. A former newspaper reporter and current personal finance writer, she’s currently writing the sequel, SEEING RED — which has Alex, Trip, rescue-pup Lucy, and the whole crazy Vlodnachek family going up against spies, art thieves, and a very determined murderer.  

Connect with her at:

Website (and blog): ConfessionsofaRedHerring.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17143743.Dana_Dratch

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/dana-dratch

Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/danadratch

 

CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING

As a reporter, she’s used to covering the news.

Now she’s the headline.

 

Alex Vlodnachek has been a reporter for 12 years, a P.R. rep for three months, and a murder suspect for all of 24 hours. When her agency’s double-dealing CEO is stabbed, scheming co-workers cast the new redhead as a compelling red herring. The story is media catnip—especially her salacious nickname: Vlod the Impaler.

Even Alex has to admit she looks guilty.

Out of a job and under suspicion, Alex is running low on cash, when she’s visited by a second disaster: her family. Soon her tiny bungalow is bursting with her nearest and not-so-dearest. To keep herself out of jail—and save what’s left of her sanity—Alex returns to her reporting roots. She goes undercover to reclaim her life, break the story

And unmask a murderer. Pretty much in that order.

What she doesn’t know: The killer also has a to-do list. And Alex is on it.

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Anne Fremont from Chicken Culprit

CHICKEN CULPRIT BANNER 640ChickenCulpritFrontCover_01232018_preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for joining us today, Anne, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

I’ve moved from the East Coast to a quaint little town in the Colorado mountains. I intend to fix up an old Victorian I’ve bought.

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

I think that every woman has a time in her life when she feels the need for something new. For me, the idea of moving to a new place and starting over couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

I still can’t believe my next door neighbor was killed. I can’t imagine getting involved but Kandi has begged me to help her so I can’t do nothing. It has made my big house a bit scarier at night to be sure.

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

You know I’m a smart woman. I’ve had a successful career as a writer and I think you can’t help but think about all the possibilities of what could or did happen. Carson wants me to butt out but I have got to help that sweet kid. No way did Kandi kill Ralph and I’m sticking to my gut. Although it did let me down before …

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m a strong woman. I’m a strong woman. Yep, both a strength and weakness. I refuse to back down and I hate depending on others. But I have to say the people in this town are so nice. I know more people here than I did the entire time I lived in the city.

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

I had to rescue myself from allowing others to treat me badly. I realize now that I allowed my ex to treat me badly and that will never, ever happen again. It’s made me stronger though and I’ve finally seen that I can stand on my own two feet. I feel confident and excited about my new life as an independent, strong woman.

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

Don’t put off your dreams in your efforts to please others. Parents, partners, friends or family may be well-meaning, but you’ve got this one life to live. So live it! If you’d rather travel the world versus settle down into a career, then do it. Be the boss of you.

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

I learned how strong I am. Even through my fear I’ve been forced to move out of my comfort zone to help someone I care about. I do worry about my safety and I’m don’t take stupid risks—okay that one night notwithstanding—I’m determined to find out what happened.

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

Wow. That’s a toughie. Hmmmm. I know that some of the things I’ve experienced should have made me bitter. But I chose to be better and use them as a learning experience.  So since I’ve moved to Colorado I’ll have to go with Rocky Mountain High by John Denver. I came home to a place I’d never been before.

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

Well, Sheriff Carson has made it clear I need to stop sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong but you know, he does call me Nancy Drew, so he must see that I’m a good at sleuthing. You know that Kandi, Faith and I have talked about starting a bed and breakfast. We’ll have lots of folks visit from all over and learn different things. The first class will be about tinctures and cordials and who knows, a killing may occur.

 

 

 

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Britta Johnson from Natural Thorn Killer

NATURAL THORN KILLER TOUR BANNER 640natural thorn killer coverVisiting us today, is Britta Johnson. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

After working a dead-end job and suffering through years and years of life with a deadbeat husband, one fateful bouquet of stale, store bought roses led me to shake up my entire world and move home to Portland, Oregon to help my Aunt Elin run her artisan flower shop, Blooma. It’s the best decision I have ever made, except for one minor detail: murder. Someone began leaving dead, black roses on Blooma’s doorstep. At first, we didn’t give it much thought. But then things took a turn for the worse. I arrived at the flower shop early one morning to find Frank Jaffe, a local real estate developer who had set his sights on Blooma’s highly desirable riverfront property, stabbed to death.

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

I didn’t have a choice. Things looked bad for Aunt Elin from the moment I found the body. First, there was the sticky issue of the fact that her signature pruning shears had been stabbed into Frank’s chest. Then there was the fact that his body was found at Blooma, and that she was one of the last people to see him alive. To compound matters, she and Frank had had a nasty fight the night before. She made it clear (in front of an audience of her fellow business owners) that she would do whatever it took to ensure that Frank didn’t get his greedy hands on anyone’s property in our tight-knit village. I knew from the moment that the police arrived on the scene that Aunt Elin was there top suspect. I also knew that there was no chance that my beloved aunt had anything to do with the crime.

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

It means that I’m responsible for planting the seeds to my own garden. I’m responsible for tilling the dirt, for working the soil, for watering and watching as my life takes bloom.

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

Listen to your intuition. It will never steer you wrong. My inner voice had been nudging me gently for years, but I pushed it aside. I trudge on in an unhappy marriage and job. I wish I had listened to my intuition early on. It might have saved me heartache. It definitely would have led me to follow my passion much, much sooner.

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

To fully embrace the moment. I had quieted my desires. I set them aside in favor of a “safe” life. Only safe for me, meant being miserable. Even despite the challenges of helping Elin manage the shop, rediscovering my floral roots, and being chased down by a crazed killer, I wouldn’t trade any experience I’ve had since returning to Portland. Living a fully realized and creative life means taking risks. I’ve learned that the risk is always worth it.

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

Some Say Love/The Rose

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

I love my new life in the Rose City. Things are just beginning to bud when it comes to taking over Blooma and creating gorgeous, hand-crafted bouquets and bountiful blooms for our customers. I wasn’t planning to dabble in sleuthing again, but when Elin and I were asked to design the showcase float for Portland’s annual Rose Festival, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The Rose Festival is Portland’s grandest celebration with dragon boat races, a carnival, starlight parade, the Run for the Roses, and the biggest flower event of the year—The Grand Floral Parade. We were thrilled to be chosen as the premiere float designer. This was the chance of a lifetime. But, threats from an anarchist group, Dark Fusion, might derail our plans and cancel the entire parade. While Elin and I tried to concentrate on gluing delicate seeds onto our float, protests erupted on Portland’s streets and one of the members of Dark Fusion.

 

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Josie Callahan from Cinco de Murder

CINCO DE MURDER BANNER 640

cinco de murder coverWelcome to The Self-Rescue Princess, Josie, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

It’s Cinco de Mayo in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping! Senora Marisol Martinez, my feisty abuela, the staff at Milagro–our family restaurant–and even my spunky Chihuahua Lenny are prepping for the best fiesta yet. Not to mention, we’re polishing our folklórico dances for Saturday’s big Cinco de Mayo parade.

This year my uncle, Eddie Martinez, is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot’s First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off. But his hopes of impressing the town council will soon go up in smoke when a cantankerous contestant is found dead in his tent. And when my beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, Lenny, Detective Quint Lightfoot, and I must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead’s life–before another cook kicks the bucket.

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

Funny you should ask because I’m always asking myself the very same thing! Truth is, ever since I was laid off from my job at the Austin Gazette, I’ve been trying to prove myself as a reporter. We only have one newspaper in our county, The Broken Boot Bugle. When I arrived back home after being laid off and abandoned at the altar by my fiasco of a fiancé, I just knew the Bugle’s editor would be glad to offer me a job. Boy was I wrong. I’ve had to prove myself as a crime reporter at every turn. And honestly, I feel it’s my civic and professional duty to investigate a murder on my turf. Of course, that’s a sticking point between me and the Big Bend County Sheriff’s Department.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Nah. I pictured myself living in Austin in a trendy apartment in Travis Heights, working at the Gazette, and settling down with a handsome musician.

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

You’ve heard of the old boy network, right? If I had to guess, I’d say the Big Bend County Sheriff’s Department invented it. And the least pleased about my detective work would be Sheriff Mack Wallace, who’s as smooth as sweet tea until you wriggle your way into his investigation.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Hm. I’m not too big on self-analysis; but I’ll give her a shot. I’m curious, stubborn, and big-hearted when it comes to digging my family and friends out of trouble. My weaknesses…and this is embarrassing…Tex-Mex, margaritas, and trying to dig my family and friends out of trouble!

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

That’s easy. Don’t hate yourself when your two-timing fiancé dumps you for a new life in Australia. His loss! Do be thankful for your family, even if they do smother you a bit and chomp at your Wranglers for you to find a better job. And don’t give up on your career dreams even if your editor thinks you’re better suited to working in classifieds and obituaries.

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

Take pride in who you are: your family, your talents, and the challenges you’ve overcome and those you have left to conquer. And go easy on criticizing your looks. As they say somewhere in the good book, God doesn’t make mistakes. Finally, I’d end with this: There’s only one life and one of you. Grab the reins and enjoy the ride!

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

Challenges knock you down, pick you up, wear you out, and make you strong; but if you embrace the challenges of life, one day you’ll look in the mirror and recognize yourself as not only a get-her-done and don’t-take-no-for-an-answer kind of woman, but a beautiful creation with a unique purpose on this earth.

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

“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Enough said!

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

Even though I’ve developed an uncanny knack for solving crimes, I still don’t know what’s coming around the corner. If you enjoy a margarita of murder with a sweet, humorous sugar rim, check out my other investigations like Here Today, Gone Tamale—my first outing as a small-town sleuth, and The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole—my second attempt at righting injustice in small town Texas.

 

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Charity Penn from Playing with Bonbon Fire

 

PLAYING WITH BONBON FIRE BANNER 640Thank you so much for joining us today, Charity Penn. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

bonbonfirecoverPlease just call me Penn. I live in the small town of Camellia Beach, located a few miles south of Charleston, South Carolina. I own the Chocolate Box and I’m an active member of the small town’s business community. All summer I’ve been working hard with Camellia Beach’s president of the business associate, Bubba Crowley, on putting together the town’s first beach music festival. Things start to fall apart when someone threatens the headliner of the festival, the deliriously popular Bixby Lewis. Not long after that another singer, who is dressed in Bixby’s signature outfit, is found dead.

With help from my meddling half-sister (I truly do love her!) and a new flavor of chocolate sweets to ignite the senses, I follow the shifting tide of evidence to keep all of the band members at the festival and everyone else in my quirky seaside town safe.

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

My half-sister had arranged for Bixby Lewis to perform at Camellia Beach’s tiny beach music festival as a favor to me. (I later found out that she was trying to hook the two of us up. She can be such a meddler.) When the threats against his life started, I naturally felt responsible for his safety. And the police seemed to be asking all the wrong questions, so I decided to ask a few questions of my own.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Gracious, no. I have a background in advertising. I led a sheltered life growing up. Plus, I’ve been super busy with learning how to run the Chocolate Box, the chocolate shop I’d recently inherited. I don’t have time to be doing the job the local police should be doing. But sometimes even the most skilled detectives misread the clues. I can’t stand by and let someone get away with murder.

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

Detective Frank Gibbons with the Charleston County Police Department, an older man I love and respect, wishes I would leave the sleuthing to the professionals. He’s pretty darn vocal about it too. He has even threatened me with jail time—in a kindly, fatherly way. Like I’ve said, I do love him. I love him more than I love my own father. And I understand his concerns. But the detective doesn’t live in Camellia Beach. He doesn’t understand its unique quirks like I do. Although he doesn’t realize it, he truly needs me.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Although I never imagined I’d ever be an amateur sleuth, I see now in hindsight that it was inevitable. I’ve been lied to and tricked my entire life. Because my family is rich and politically powerful back in Chicago, there have always been people in my life who have tried to get close to me with one goal in mind: to get access to my family and/or their money. Joke is on them, though. I’m the black sheep of my family. My grandmother has never included me in family photographs or invited me to Christmas parties.

My past experiences have caused me to develop deep sense of distrust of…pretty much everyone. My trust issues and tendency to constantly be on the lookout for hidden agendas has turned into some of my best strengths when it comes to ferreting out criminals. I know to look beyond that friendly smile. I know to suspect even the seemingly kindest of souls.

On the flipside, my distrustfulness is also my biggest weakness. I keep everyone at arm’s reach. But I’m working on it. It’s difficult, but I’m working on letting a few people get close. I need to. I can’t run the Chocolate Box alone. I desperately need all the help I can get.

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

Strong women don’t ever give up. Don’t know how to do something? Learn how. Failed at a task? Try again. Try something different. Feeling left out? Create an event of your own. It’s your life and only you can decide what to do with it. I’m a big fan of Dr. Seuss’s book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go and the lessons it contains.

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

Be strong enough to ask for help when you need it. Life doesn’t have to be a lonely experience.

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

I learned that there are nice people in the world, people who genuinely want to help others. That was a shocker.

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

It’d be the theme song to the show, the Greatest American Hero. Do you remember that song? “Believe or Not.” The song talks about how just accepting who you are, you can find freedom and happiness. That’s what I’ve found here in Camellia Beach. I’m in paradise because I’ve finally learned to love myself, foibles and all.

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

I never plan on dabbling in the sleuthing business. It’s something that seems to come to me. I see a wrong that no one sees fit to right. What am I going to do? Sit on my hands and let the wrong person go to jail? No. I’ve suffered enough injustice in my life to want to save others from experiencing the same trouble, whether they deserve my help or not.

And that’s exactly what I did recently. I join my best pal, Althea Bays and the rest of the turtle watch team to witness a new generation of baby sea turtles hatch and make their way into the wide ocean.

Before the babies arrive, gunshots ring out in the night. Cassidy Jones, the local Casanova, is found dead in the sand with his lover Jody Dalton—the same woman who has vowed to destroy the Chocolate Box—holding the murder weapon in her hand. It’s an obvious crime of passion, or so everyone believes. But when Jody’s young son pleads with me to bring his mother back to him, I can’t say no. Instead, I dive headfirst into a chocolate swirl of truth and lies, and must pick through an assortment of likely (and sometimes unsavory) suspects before it’s too late for me and for those I love in the third rich installment of the Southern Chocolate Shop mysteries, In Cold Chocolate (Sept 11, 2018.)