Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, Scrapbooking

A Scrapping Moment from Masked to Death

masked-to-death-cover-frontSince May is National Scrapbooking Month, I’m sharing a small scrapbooking moment from Masked to Death.

Excerpt:

Ronnie’s confession shook me. I felt off-kilter. A scrapbooking class was being held on deck six, so I headed there, needing to clear my mind while I figured out what to do. Scrapbooking calmed me and centered my spirit. I knew this trip would rev up some anxiety, so I bought a travel planner. It was more portable than a scrapbook, yet the same techniques were used for decorating it. Instead of pictures, words were the main focal point. I had brought colored pencils and an array of travel stickers for decorating the pages.

I spotted a crew member pushing a cart loaded down with cruise-themed scrapbooking supplies and followed. Other women and a few men joined our parade to the lounge area in the back of the ship.

“Find a spot while I set up.” The young woman began sorting through the packages of products and stacking them by theme onto a table.

I spotted Garrison sitting at a table in the back, flipping through a book. When I sat down, he closed the leather book about the size of an 8×8 album. The cover was embossed. I tried reading the script font, but he covered the writing with his forearm.

“Here to scrapbook or just looking for some peace and quiet to read?” I asked.

“I’ve wanted to learn some new techniques and now was the perfect time.”

“You and Bob didn’t have anything special planned for this morning?”

“Odessa stopped by this morning to tell Bob the captain wanted to meet with him.”

“About what?”

“I’d rather not know, so I kissed Bob goodbye and told him I’d be here. I’m sure it has something to do with John. I wonder where Ronnie is. She had said she’d meet me here.”

“When did you talk to her?” I doodled in my travel journal.

“At breakfast. Why?”

“Curious,” I said. “No other reason. She might have lost track of time or something unexpected came up.” The captain had issued a gag order. Ronnie said to stay quiet. And here I was blabbing—or almost blabbing, which was just as bad. “This probably isn’t the wedding you dreamed of.”

“The event meant more to Odessa than us, so we caved on pretty much everything. Our only sticking point was no alcohol at the event out of respect and love for Ted, and yet she had the champagne flowing freely, and now we also have John Roget to contend with. I’m not looking forward to him and Odessa coming face to face.”

“He’s stayed away so far.”

“That’s true. Maybe he only came to spend time with Claire and not to stop the wedding. John is a hard one to figure out.”

“He isn’t the only one.”

Garrison’s eyebrows rose. “Do tell.”

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Posted in Books, Gardening, mystery, Reviews, Self-Rescue Princess

SRP Review: A Muddied Murder by Wendy Tyson

When I’m working on a mystery book, I steer clear of reading mysteries, so I haven’t read many mysteries over the last year because my downtime between books didn’t leave much time for reading or blogging. After I turned in Altered to Death, the first mystery I picked up was A Muddied Murder by the talented, lovely, and just plain awesome writer and person, Wendy Tyson.

a muddied murderFrom the first paragraph, I fell into the story and savored every word. I loved A Muddied Murder (ebook is currently on sale for 99 cents). The mix of farming, gardening, mystery, and a strong woman dealing with the sadness and joys of life pulled me in and had me rooting for and wanting to be Megan. She is a strong heroine with a mind of her own and doesn’t take the easy answers people give. She stands up for herself, others, and what she knows is right. What I admired about Megan was her ability to navigate the situations without becoming bitter or bullying the answer from people. She was willing at times to pull back in order to give those in her life (like her grandmother) respect and time to reveal their secrets rather than forcing them. I also like how she was willing to accept and forgive others for their faults, knowing that everyone (herself included) make rash decisions at times and can allow hurt to rule our emotions.

To me, Megan from the Greenhouse Mystery Series, exemplifies a self-rescue princess in that she has taken charge of her life. Even though some of her decisions are also based on others, she owns them. She lives her life as a way to grow, learn, and make the world better not as if she has to prove anything to someone or as an apology. Megan is a woman who is determined to live a life of joy no matter the hardships she has faced. I can’t wait to get to know her better in Bitter Harvest (which released today!).

Posted in Books, Craft, mystery, Scrapbooking, Vacations, Writing

Masked to Death has left port

masked-to-death-cover-frontMasked to Death, the fifth book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series, is now out. I went on my first cruise at the end of 2010 and feel in love with this type of vacation. When part of the plot came to me, I started thinking about where to set the book and recalled that in book one, Cropped to Death, Ted mentioned that his mom worked on a cruise ship. My muse said, “Perfect.”, and the story developed from there.

Here’s a short description about Masked to Death:

A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising her toward Davy Jones’ Locker.

Over the next few weeks, you can find me (or Masked) visiting a few places in cyber world where I’ll be answering some questions, talking about creating a travel journal and a fictional cruise, and where some readers will let you  know a little bit more about Masked to Death. I hope you can stop by.

January 25 – Dru’s Book Musings – Guest Post, Vacation Time With Faith Hunter

January 27 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, INTERVIEW

January 28 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST, Creating a Cruise 

January 29 – Brooke Blogs – INTERVIEW

January 30 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

January 31 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

February 1 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

February 2 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, GUEST POST, Travel Journal

February 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

February 4 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST, Scrapbooking and Murder

February 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy Too! – Excerpt (shopping on a cruise) from Masked to Death

February 6 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

February 7 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, mystery, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized, West Virginia

National Craft Month: Cropped to Death Excerpt

I had hoped to have a crafting blog post ready for today but it’s been hectic at the office this week and my hours work hours needing shifting around, so I didn’t have time to finish making my project. This month, I’ve celebrating National Craft Month by alternating between different hobbies: scrapbooking, crocheting, and coloring. I had thought about chatting about my experience with making a photo book through Shutterfly, but as we don’t have the book yet (and I did a scrapbooking post last week) I thought it better to wait.

CROPPED front smSince Cropped to Death is currently on sale for 99 cents for the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks, I thought I’d share an excerpt of Faith preparing for a beginning scrapbooking class–and she gets interrupted.

Excerpt: 

I headed into the paper racks, weaving through the reds and yellows to reach the browns. The hues ranged from sand to a brown so dark it could pass for black. What shade and texture should I use tonight?

A smoother paper worked better for beginners, as it was easier for tearing and for making other embellishments, but I had no idea the skill level of the women signed up for the contest class and mini crop. A texture cardstock added an extra dimension to the work and gave the beginning layout a little edge. If using it for a border, tearing the texture paper added a nice jagged effect with feathering detail.

Maybe a sheet of both styles using a monochromatic scheme. That worked. A deeper beige mixed with a sand almost white shade. Neutrals worked well with any photos. I’d take a look at the students’ pictures when they arrived and pull complementary colors showcased in the photos.

Time to pick embellishments. I gathered up sheets of letter stickers in a variety of fonts and colors for the layout titles. I stopped in front of the clear stamps and picked out an alphabet set. I’d buy the stamps and share them tonight with the class. Hopefully, they’d love them so much, the two attendees would want a set for themselves. To save some money, I’d go with standard neutral paint colors. If the croppers wanted a hue with a little more pop, they could purchase it.

The bell above the door jangled. I took the items out of the basket and arranged them in piles on the tables. Before the crop started, I wanted to check on the amount of choices offered for the class participants. I snapped my fingers. Items for the prize basket.

A shadow fell over me. I jerked upright, and the wind whooshed in my ears even though I was inside. This fear issue was getting annoying. I hated feeling vulnerable. Taking in a deep breath, my heart rate slowed to normal as I realized a new customer, not a stalker, entered into the store.

A dark-haired woman in her late teens hovered behind me. Two splotches of red bloomed on her cheeks and she stammered. “I was wondering if. Well, if you could…would you mind…”

I smiled and waved my hand over the products on the table. “It’s not too late to sign up for the crop tonight.”

She pushed a piece of paper toward me. “I was wondering if…”

I held my pleasant smile and waited.

“If I could… like… get…”

The smile strained my cheeks.

“Your autograph.”

“My what?” I kept my reaction in check, uncertain if amusement or anger was more appropriate.

“Aren’t you the owners’ granddaughter? The one mentioned in the paper?”

I went with anger. Before the scolding exploded from my mouth, the young woman turned and fled out the door. Why couldn’t the store reach celebrity status because of our awesome customer service rather than because of murder?

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, and is able to enjoy their families and their hobbies.

 

Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, Uncategorized

National Craft Month: Fatal Brushstroke Excerpt

I hope everyone is enjoying National Craft Month as much as I am. Currently, I’m reading A Body in the Landscape by Larissa Reinhart, and this weekend I enjoyed three days of cropping at a local crop retreat sponsored by the Rotary Club. I was able to complete my daughter’s scrapbook album (a mix of pocket scrapbooking and traditional layouts) and also uploaded a bunch of pictures to Shutterfly and had them printed. I have two crops coming up in April and didn’t want to run out of photos to scrap at the events.

To continue with my monthly celebration of National Craft month is an brief excerpt from Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson.

fatal brushstrokeExcerpt: 

At home, too wired to sleep yet too tired to work, Rory pulled out the project Nora had given her and spread it out on the empty half of the kitchen table. Before painting on the final product, she wanted to practice the strokes spelling out Samantha’s name. She considered several styles of brush lettering, settling on one that was at the least elaborate end of the spectrum.

Rory drew guidelines on practice paper with a soft pencil, then loaded a flat brush with a fifty-fifty mixture of black acrylic paint and water. After painting the three strokes necessary to produce a capital S, she reviewed her work. She hadn’t lifted her brush quickly enough at the end of each stroke to produce the sharp edges she desired. She tried again, this time writing the full name several times, concentrating on correcting the strokes and keeping the spacing between the letters consistent. After covering two pages with the name, she gave up for the evening, still unhappy with the result. Her hands were too shaky from lack of sleep to produce the letters to her satisfaction.

Blurb:

A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…

Computer programmer and tole painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.

Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weeks before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?

Right now, Fatal Brushstroke is on sale for 99 cents, and I don’t know how long the sale will last.

 

 

Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt

Crafting Excerpt from Hijack in Abstract by Larissa Reinhart

 

HIJACK frontPortraits: Making the Art Patron Happy with Cherry Tucker (and Larissa Reinhart)

My character Cherry Tucker would love National Craft Month. Although she’s a classically trained portrait artist, she also DIYs her clothes into works of art and likes to paint furniture (and anything else she can paint, embellish, or bedazzle).

Unfortunately, in her mysteries, she’s often too busy chasing down murderers and thieves to paint much. At least on the page. Off the page, when you’re not reading, she’s always painting, embellishing, and bedazzling. However, one of my favorite on-the-page painting scenes takes place in her third mystery, Hijack in Abstract. She’s been hired by a wealthy, Atlanta immigration lawyer to paint his portrait. She doesn’t think much of Rupert, but that never stops her from doing her job.

As she always says, “Always make the art patron happy. Even when you’ve found a dead man earlier that day.”

Hijack in Abstract, A Cherry Tucker Mystery #3

I returned to Rupert’s office. He had finished his phone call and paced before the Christmas tree.

“Where have you been, darling?” he asked. “I have some free time now. Let’s begin.”

“I’m going to start with some quick sketches,” I said, hurrying to the Christmas tree. “I’ll work at my easel. Feel free to talk and try different positions. Would you like to be seated or standing?”

Rupert turned to examine the Christmas tree. “Sitting will be more comfortable, but I will have better lines if I stand. Don’t you agree? And sitting might appear aggrandizing. Like I’m a king on a throne.”

I looked up at him from my squat before my tackle box. Rupert put a lot more thought into posing than anyone I ever met. “Whatever you want to do is fine with me. We can try both and you can look at my sketches before you decide.”

He strode to his desk and picked up his phone. “Miss David? Can you get the full length mirror from my dressing room and bring it in here?”

This was probably why Miss David hated me. My appearance caused her more work. A butler’s job is never done.

Grabbing a good piece of charcoal and my sketch pad, I placed both on my easel and set to work sketching Rupert as he fretted about his pose. I concentrated on getting his relative proportions before worrying about detail and composition. The head is amazingly symmetrical. Pupils are your center. You can actually draw a line from pupil to pupil and use that line to make a perfect square to help find the lines for the mouth and nose.

I find that aspect of the human face amazing. And I don’t even like geometry.

Once you understand the shape of a face, drawing becomes much simpler. However, everyone but super models have quirks to their symmetry. Those small faults had to be noted, too, without drawing too much attention to them. People with a crooked nose don’t want to see a crooked nose in their portrait. But the painting still has to honestly reflect their face. Tricky.

As I told Miss David, in order for a portrait to look realistic, it needs the personality of the sitter. Portraits are all about nuance, not geometry. A tilt to the head, an uplift at the corner of the mouth, or a slant in an eye’s gaze makes all the difference. Otherwise you end up with a robot face.

Or a paint by number project by Shawna Branson.

Miss David returned with the mirror. We set it up next to my easel so Rupert could pose himself as Father Businessman Christmas or whatever look he was going for. He tried standing, leaning, and sitting, then settled on standing.

“So how long has Miss David worked for you?” I waited to ask that question until she had left the room. The less Miss David talked, the more I wanted to know.

“A few years,” he picked a piece of lint off his suit jacket. “Do you think I should wear a black or blue suit?”

“Blue. It’ll pull out some of the colors from the tree decorations and work better with the undertones in your skin.”

I flipped a page in my sketchbook and worked on a close up of his small, bushy mustache. It would not do to have him looking like Hitler.

 

larissaA 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Best Mystery finalist, Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery series. The first in the series, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (2012), is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. The sixth mystery, A COMPOSITION IN MURDER, is expected to release in 2016. Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, now live in Nagoya, Japan, but still call Georgia home. Visit her website, LarissaReinhart.com, find her chatting on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads  or join her Facebook street team, The Mystery Minions.

Posted in Books, Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Aurora (Rory) Anderson from Paint the Town Dead

  1. paint the town deadPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

I love attending decorative painting conventions, so I was excited when I learned the Ocean Painting Society would be holding its first convention right here in Vista Beach. I even put together the convention website so I got the scoop on everything early on. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out exactly as I expected. I was enjoying myself, shopping and working on the trade show floor and taking painting classes when my friend collapsed in class and, well, there’s no sugarcoating it—she died. The police looked into it, of course, but didn’t find any evidence of foul play so they closed the case. That didn’t seem right to me so I started my own investigation.

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

I couldn’t let the murderer get away with it! She was my friend. Someone had to stick up for her.

  1. 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 two investigations!

  1. 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 have to be Detective Green of the Vista Beach police department. He’s not thrilled when civilians get involved in police matters. I think 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.

  1. 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. But, sometimes I’m too concerned about what others think of me.

  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess 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.

  1. 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.

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

Never take friends for granted. You never know when they’ll no longer be there.

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

The Gloria Gaynor song, “I Will Survive.” Not that long ago, I learned my birth parents were serial arsonists who were responsible for numerous fires and a few deaths here in Vista Beach. That threw me for a loop, believe me. I didn’t know anything about this until I moved to Vista Beach with my parents almost two years ago now. Then there was that dead body in my garden…

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

I hope I never see another dead body in my life! But I have this uneasy feeling that there’s another one in my future.

Posted in Books, Excerpt, giveaway, Holiday, Scrapbooking, West Virginia

Scrapbooking Moment from Embellished to Death

West Virginia Craft Week is coming to end for 2015. I’m already looking forward to 2016 as it really got me in the crafting frame of mind and I completed quite a few projects this week. To end the week, I’m sharing a small scrapbooking moment from Embellished to Death, the third book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series published by Henery Press. I hope you enjoy it.

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbExcerpt:

“Hi, can I help you?” I smiled at the young woman in front of me.

She held out an heirloom photograph. The edges had a slight yellowish tint and a slight burn mark on the bottom. In the middle of the picture was an old couple surrounded by two couples holding infants, seven teenagers, and three elementary-aged children. It looked like a family portrait had been taken in front of the house where the couple lived. There was a small clapboard house, a large horse, and numerous pieces of old-time farm equipment.

“I was going to crop the photo but my friend said not to. She said I’d regret it. I just think the background is too busy and the family gets lost.”

I stood and led her to where we had some pattern papers in soft colors. “Your friend is right. In a few years, you might regret not having a picture of your family’s ancestral home.”

The young woman lightly touched the image of one of the young couples. “My great-great-grandparents didn’t live there. My great-grandfather wanted to impress his in-laws so he had the picture taken at the farm he worked at. His wife sent the picture with a letter to her parents so they wouldn’t worry about her. She wanted them to know her new husband was taking good care of her and the baby. This picture convinced her parents that their son-in-law was so successful, he could also take care of them in their aging years

I laughed. “That is an incredible story. I bet a lot of family stories were born by this one picture.”

The young woman grinned at me. “That there were. You know what, I’m going to make a whole scrapbook album about how this one picture changed my great-grandfather’s life. Ten years later, he did own that property.”

“He wanted to live up to his in-laws’ expectations.”

“No.” Her smile broadened. “His in-laws loved it so much that he wanted them to have it so they’d move out of his home.”

About Embellished to Death:

When Faith Hunter agrees to help PI Bob Roget find an identity thief at a local scrapbook retreat, her friendly croppers’ weekend quickly morphs into a dangerous one. As croppers share their own memories, a killer collects them for her new identity, and doesn’t appreciate Faith in the picture.

Faith struggles to balance her professional, detecting and personal lives as threats and secrets keep her off-balance. Things turn deadly when a woman is killed and Faith is blackmailed. Truth and lies collide when Faith discovers croppers aren’t the only ones embellishing, and the results might end her life.

Thank you for spending time with me during West Virginia Craft Week. There’s still time to enter for a chance to win the reading journal. Click on the link at it’ll take you to the post. To enter, comment on what is your favorite book.

Posted in book giveaway, giveaway, Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Aggie Mundeen from Smart, But Dead

Today on the Self-Rescue Princess, I’m chatting with Aggie Mundeen about her latest case, and the woman who is helping Aggie tell the world all about her adventures.

  1. SMART BUT DEAD cover frontTell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Pushing forty and appalled at the prospect of descending into middle-age decrepitude, I blasted off to the local university to study the genetics of aging. I’d find youthful hints for readers of my column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” and I’d learn how to stay young myself.

Despite conflicts with my professor, I was fascinated learning about  human genome projects and  DNA. Then I stumbled upon a dead academic. Detective Sam Vanderhoven, San Antonio PD,  reminded me to avoid the investigation. But dangerously curious and programmed to prod, I  was compelled to find the killer. I wound up the prime suspect and was on target to become next campus corpse.

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

Nancy G. West, who tells my stories, heard that genes affect aging and wanted to know more about it. That’s what usually gets me into trouble. As a business and English literature major, she didn’t know squat about genetics. Her last science course was college biology. So she had to rely on scientists to explain genetics. Unfortunately, they speak their own language. She had to decipher what they told her and then put it into language she and I could understand.

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

Never. While working my way up to vice-president in a Chicago bank, like a squirrel counting nuts, I did think I should be enjoying a more exciting existence. When I had an unexpected windfall, I fled from the brutal winters and moved to Texas.

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

Detective Sam is appalled when I assist in his investigations. But it’s extremely satisfying to solve crimes and restore justice. He believes that, too, and I like being around him. He’ll just have to get used to me.

For Nancy:

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Weakness: I prefer writing scenes with Aggie and Sam before I’ve completed the research needed for the plot.

Strength: I love writing dialogue scenes with Aggie and Sam.

Strange isn’t it, how our greatest strength can also be our greatest weakness?

  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess means to you.

I’d rather die than become a clinging vine. But I’m not ashamed to ask for help when I need it.

  1. What one bit of advice/wisdom would you like to pass on to young women?

Take time to find out who you are before you go looking for somebody you think will make you complete.

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

Determination and perseverance wins. Even if the goal changes or moves farther away (or you’re arrested and somebody wants you dead), you’ve won the prize of being able to persevere.

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

Since we’re all multifaceted, our lives have many themes. I guess my song  would be “I Did It My Way”,— with help, compassion and the grace of God.

  1. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat? (another book featuring this heroine)

If Aggie and Sam manage to get out of the mess in Smart, But Dead without killing each other, there will undoubtedly be another situation where  I’ll feel obligated to use my sleuthing skills.

Nancy has offered to giveaway an autographed Advanced Reader Copy to one lucky commenter on this post. Let us know about something you’d like to learn more about, and please leave an email so Nancy can contact the winner. The winner will be drawn August 30.

If you like to learn more about Aggie and Nancy, Aggie reveals more at Talk to Aggie on Nancy’s website:

www.nancygwest.com

facebook.com/authorNancyG.West

Twitter: @NancyGWest_

Posted in Books, Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Ivy Meadows from The Sound of Murder

sound of murderWelcome to the Self- Rescue Princess, Ivy, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

Though I’ve been pursuing my acting and P.I. careers, it’s been a little crazy since my apartment caught on fire (did you know that firefighters won’t let you back in your apartment to get your clothes? Not even your undies?) But things are looking up: I met the nicest fireman, got a great housesitting gig, and landed my first P.I. case, a suicide in the retirement community where I’m housesitting. My acting career is really taking off, too. A big New York producer is coming to Arizona to see me in the world premiere of The Sound of Cabaret (singing nuns AND Berlin burlesque).

Now if I could just get over my little fear of singing in public. And stop worrying about my cast mate, Marge, who seems awfully forgetful lately. And fix my car, which seems to be catching on fire even more than usual. And ditch the posse member who’s following me. Then I have just one more thing to do–figure out why all of this seems to be connected to that one simple suicide case…

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No. But when my friend and fellow actor, Simon Black died of an apparent alcohol overdose during a production of Macbeth, I knew something wicked this way came. After all, Simon had turned his life around. I knew he wasn’t drinking any more, no matter the evidence. My Uncle Bob—a P.I., my part-time employer, and the nicest guy in the world—agreed to investigate. But after someone poisoned my uncle’s Big Gulp, it was up to me to find the killer (you can read about the case in a book called Macdeath).

During that adventure, I discovered a taste for detecting. And though I’m still mostly on admin duty at Uncle Bob’s P.I. firm, I’m really excited to work my first case. I know I’m going to be a great detective. After all, it’s in the genes.

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

I love that term—a self-rescue princess. I was always annoyed at those fairytale characters who waited for something to happen to them. “Go out and make it happen!” I wanted to shout. I made my life’s dream come true. When I decided to make theater my profession, my parents weren’t exactly thrilled (my parents aren’t thrilled with me in general, but that’s another story). There was no money and no support. But I made my way. Sure, I’m still driving old cars and eating lots of beans, but I am an actress!

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

Channel one of my heroes, Helen Keller, who said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Be daring.

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

“I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews/Maria may skip and swing her guitar case, but she’s singing to give herself confidence before a big adventure. That’s me—a little scared of leaping into the breach, but confident that things will somehow turn out all right (you can see why my #2 theme song is “Cockeyed Optimist”)

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

Funny you should ask. My uncle just got a call from Get Lit!, a book-themed cruise line (they’re the ones who had the husky incident on the S.S. Jack London). Seems there’s a theft ring onboard the ships, and they’d like the pair of us to go undercover on their Charles Dickens-themed boat. My uncle will pose as a wealthy guest, while I’ll work as an actress, playing Nancy in Get Lit’s version of Oliver Twist. It’ll be like a paid vacation with my favorite person in the world, plus a lead role, AND a $10,000 bonus if we crack the case. And we’re just talking about theft, so the job shouldn’t be dangerous…right?

If you’d like to read Ivy’s adventure, you can pre-order The Sound of Murder at these places (release date is Oct 6, 2015):

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1eJbMu3

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1JWrYmG

iTunes: http://apple.co/1Rm90wD

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1LYt2K0

And if you’d like to read Ivy’s previous adventure, you can get Macdeath at the following places:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo