Review: The Discombobulated Decipherers by Julie Seedorf

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Thank you for stopping by The Self-Rescue Princess today. Today, I’m doing a holiday review of the Discombobulated Decipherers. The reviews I write are a little different as I like to focus on the heroines, or as the case is during the holiday season, I comment about the holiday spirit in the story.

discombulatedThe Discombobulated Decipherers is a fun, quirky story with plenty of holiday charm. The main element of the story is the mystery, who killed Ernest the elf, but it always maintains its lighthearted feel, perfect for readers who prefer to read less angst during this time of the year. The reader can follow along with the characters as they try to uncover the puzzle of who killed Ernest and also if an item they keep stumbling upon has anything to do with the murder, or with the history of the town. (I don’t want to inadvertently give a spoiler so am not mentioning the item.) The holiday season is important to the story so it really lends to the atmosphere of the book. The mystery and the holiday aspect of the story blended together perfectly, and I don’t think either would’ve worked without the other which is something I really enjoyed about the book.

 

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SRP Heroine Interview: Cat Enright from The Mane Equation

themaneequationWelcome to the Self-Rescue Princess, Cat. I know the holiday season is extremely busy for many people so I’m so happy you made time to chat with my readers.

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

My dad, whom, I’ve spoken to about three times in the past ten years, was sure someone was trying to kill him. My life as a horse trainer in Tennessee had become confusing, due to some unexpected personal relationships, so I jumped at the chance to “run away” and visit Dad at Canterbury Park, a horseracing track in Shakopee, Minnesota. Turns out my dad was right, but it took the help of my Tennessee friends and the (possibly) psychic mare, Sally Blue, to figure it out.

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

Well, he’s my dad. Biological, at least. After my mom died when I was nine, Dad pretty much abandoned me to “the drink,” as he calls it. My feelings about him are complicated, and even though I absolutely want to stay mad at him for the rest of my life, I don’t want anything bad to happen to him.

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

Not ever! But my ex-movie star neighbor was killed and I stumbled across her body. Then there was a murder at a horse show, and after that my best friend, country music star Melody Cross, was killed. What was I supposed to do? Just sit back and watch the police make a mess of things? No offense to my friend Deputy Martin Giles. He’s one of the good guys.

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

I train show horses full time. Or, at least, that’s what I am supposed to be doing. Definitely, my barn manager, Jon Gardner, is not pleased when I start to snoop. I understand his concern, as the horses need me and all my undone chores fall to him. Jon also has feelings for me that I am not sure I reciprocate, but he is a dear friend.

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Well, I have this teensy problem with anger management. My Irish nature allows situations to build and then everything explodes out of me. I’m working on it, though. I’ve also been known to break and enter (make that snoop) uninvited through my neighbors’ homes. But it is all with the best of intentions––and with their best interests in mind. On the good side, I am very loyal and have a strong sense of right and wrong. And, horses and dogs like me.

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

My grandmother raised me to be self-sufficient. As she used to say, “Never underestimate a Southern woman. She’ll rip your heart out, show it to you, and then bake it in a pie.” I guess two out of three isn’t bad. I never got the hang of cooking. But, my grandmother’s sentiments ring true all the same. It’s important to me to know that I can depend on myself in any situation. And yes, I’ve had to be rescued a time or two, but I’ve done more than my share of rescuing in return.

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

Be who you are, and be proud of you. Then make informed decisions that will increase your pride in yourself, not decrease it. And, when the scumbags come crawling into your life, swat them away. You deserve better.

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

Not to sit too close to my potential step-mother’s dog. A second lesson was not to assume anything. At all. Facts are what count.

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

I never intend to get involved, but it seems that people I know are always dying. Jon strongly prefers that I do no more sleuthing, but if a wrong has been done to a friend I feel compelled to help bring the perpetrator to justice. After all, that’s what friends do.

 

HH 6: Cookin’ Up Crime

cooking up crimeI’m thrilled to be part of Happy Homicides 6: Cookin’ Up Crime anthology that was released on Friday. My story is titled Simmer to Death: Did sibling rivalry lead to the poisoning of an up-and-coming food personality? Or were simmering hostilities among the staff the real recipe for murder?

A little tidbit about Simmer to Death:

Simmer to Death was originally going to feature Faith Hunter, my heroine from the Scrap This Series, and her future mother-in-law Odessa who appeared in Masked to Death, but Faith didn’t want to be a part of the story. I kept the setting for the plot, a cooking demonstration and played around with a couple different characters until one of them took over. The story actually evolved better when the original POV character became the victim and the original murderer became the POV character and unwitting sleuth.

I hope everyone will grab a copy at our discounted price of 99 cents. Here’s the link: http://www.bit.ly/HH6CookinUpCrime.

Overwhelmed by Changes

I feel like I’ve been missing-in-action for months on my blog and Facebook. I can’t believe it’s been since mid-June that I’ve actively engaged in this part of my life. And I do enjoy it. I love being able to keep with family and friends, share what’s been going on in my life, finding new crafts to create and books to read. But since this summer things…okay time, to be exact, got away from me and I allowed myself to wallow just a little too much in the overwhelming sea of changes going on in my life.

I’m a planner and having unexpected changes pop up throws my whole being into a sense of chaos. I find it hard to get my bearings and put together a new plan to merge all the must-dos and need-to-dos  into order. In the scheme of issues and problems one has to face, mine weren’t that horrible or unmanageable. Just a few too many unexpected ones at the same time.

IMG_2109There was the foot injured that was likely a stress fractured and kept me out of my garden, and pretty much house bound, except for work during the whole summer. It wasn’t easy walking around in the boot, or going up and downstairs, which the doctor told me was the whole point in it, keeping me off my foot. The treachery of navigating stairs had me writing on a laptop upstairs rather than in my office. On the bright side, at least I wasn’t in the boot while we were in California. It would’ve made getting around Disneyland, the Safari Park, and all the wineries difficult.

I hated not being able to tend to my garden as it was a hobby I enjoyed. Sadly, the lack of attention, combined with the heat and humidity, left our plants in dire condition. We didn’t get much produce, and a lot of the plants succumbed to the heat and squash bugs that attacked the garden.

Then came the unexpected home renovation bathroom project which my friend named Armageddon. We had a recurring mold issue in our bathroom, and got tired of cleaning it, so we called a mold specialist to remove it, figuring it would be gone once and for all. And it is–actually the whole bathroom is gone. Eliminated.

 

For someone who does better with plans, this chaos, along with our decision to start rearranging the house, threw me for a huge loop. And I’m not big on twisty, turning roller coasters which is what I felt I’ve been on for the last few months. Every plan I had made kept getting thrown out.

As for the rearranging of the house–that was the result of another change I knew was coming but just not now. I knew our college junior would be leaving home soon. Just not mid-August soon. I had figured he’d stay until he graduated in two years, instead he moved to where he could go to college and was also being considered for a job with the police force. Since our last child was leaving the nest, we decided to move some of the rooms around to better suit our needs (moving my husband’s office from the room at the far end of the garage into my old office, and my office and crafting studio upstairs as it has more natural light (better for crafting). I’ll admit, I wasn’t ready for the change of having no children at home. I still struggle with it as being mom has been the major part of my identity for such a long time–since I was twenty-one. But time moves on. And I know my children need to move on, and forward, to accomplish their goals and dreams.

Which bring me to my writing, my dream, and the new-to-me dilemma of having my main character snub me. I finished Altered to Death, the sixth Scrap This mystery (release date Nov 28! pre-order is available), and was excited to begin a new book in the series. I sat down to write…and nothing. I had two main plot ideas and played around with them, but it was going nowhere. Then I tried writing a short-story featuring Faith and again it went nowhere. It was like Faith didn’t want to be in it. She didn’t want to talk to me. I tried getting her engaged in the plot but everything sounded to me like the author (me) was moving the character around the scenes. She wasn’t coming across as being an active participant. The story was going nowhere.

What was I to do? There were other ideas for books I had wanted to write, a romantic suspense I wrote a few years that I could polish or rewrite to send off. Or…I wasn’t sure. It had been a long time since I wasn’t sure what to write, where I didn’t have an idea chasing me around demanding to be written.

So, I decided fine, I just won’t write for a month. I’ll use the time to put my house back together. And of course that’s when the next book came to me…a new character. A new series. A new mystery featuring a crafting heroine who will be trying to move forward with her dreams as her children are seeking hers. She’s talking to me. A lot. I’m enjoying getting to know her.

And I know I’ll hear from Faith again. I guess we just needed a little break from each other. At least her new adventure will be out soon. Here’s what she’ll be up to:

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Even knee-deep in planning her wedding, Faith Hunter finds herself distracted by the town scrapbook she was commissioned to create. Eden’s oldest mystery, the founding family’s exodus nearly a hundred years ago, remains unsolved. When a search through the family’s abandoned mansion leads to the uncovering of bones on the property and ex-boyfriend Steve Davis announces a surprise heir has staked a claim, Faith is determined to dig up the truth left behind.

Meanwhile, family friend Wyatt Buford asks Faith to look into his deadbeat father’s disappearing act and his connection to the murder. Her quest for answers unearths secrets past and present that some would prefer stay buried at any cost. Faith’s resolve to present the facts and nothing but about Eden’s history could lead to her own future being cut short.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Altered-Death-Faith-Hunter-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0758DG23P

Barnes and Noble:https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/altered-to-death-christina-freeburn/1127044022?ean=2940158764622

SRP Heroine Interview: Emmeline Prather from Passport to Murder

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passport_murder_3001. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Finally, I was about to take a spring break worth repeating at faculty meetings. André Duman (a hunky French professor) and I were taking a group of students and colleagues abroad to Paris, France. 13 to be exact. Being superstitious, I worried the number might not bode well for travel, but I never thought murder would ensue before I uttered my first bonjour. But it did, and I was left with an unstamped passport and a crime to solve.

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

I knew I couldn’t leave the solution to the police department. First of all, the detectives were too busy with other crimes; second, they couldn’t solve the murder from a distance; and third, their only suspect was André Duman, my good friend and colleague. When we arrived back at Copper Bluff, it was up to me to solve the case. I knew the people on the trip; I started there. My sleuthing was risky (considering my untenured status), but it paid off.

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

No, never. In fact, I thought living in a small college town, buried in books, would keep me as far away from crime as possible. Who knew being an English professor could be so dangerous?

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

The chair of the English Department, Jim Giles, is not pleased with my sleuthing. He thinks all my spare time should be spent grading papers. But the truth is a girl cannot live on papers alone, especially those written by freshmen.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m a passionate researcher, which helps when it comes to figuring out these perplexing cases. I also care deeply about my students and the campus of Copper Bluff. I’d do anything to keep it crime free. Unfortunately, I’m also a bit idealistic, which makes dating—and anything else that requires aggressive compromise—hard. Reading historical romance novels hasn’t helped, but despite what Lenny Jenkins (my dearest professor friend and sidekick) says, I refuse to give them up. After all, he has similar dating problems and has never read a romance in his life.

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

I would repeat the best advice a professor once gave me: don’t be afraid of something because it’s hard. Sometimes the most challenging endeavors prove to be the most rewarding.

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

I learned life is about the journey, not the destination. Although I didn’t get to France, my lifelong dream, I did get justice for my colleague. Besides, Lenny and I did share a bottle of wine from France, and I have the feeling that what happened between us might prove very important to my future.

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

Lenny says it would be “Magical Mystery Tour” by the Beatles, but he’s a Beatles fanatic. He has all their records. I think “Girl on Fire” is more fitting, but he says it’s just these questions bringing out the feminist in me.

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

As we all know, the holidays can be murder, but I didn’t think they’d involve a real murder. I thought the only problem facing me in December would be the weight gain from Mrs. Gunderson’s fudge. I guess even professors can be wrong sometimes. Just don’t tell my students.

Author links:

www.MaryAngelaBooks.com

www.facebook.com/maryangelabooks

www.twitter.com/maryangelabooks

https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Angela/e/B01GPB96CK/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/passport-to-murder-mary-angela/1126605280

 

Bio:

Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery series, which has been called “enjoyable” and “clever” by Publishers Weekly. She is also an educator and has taught English and humanities at South Dakota’s public and private universities for over ten years. When Mary isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. For more information about Mary or the series, go to MaryAngelaBooks.com.

 

 

SRP Heroine Interview: Paisley Sutton from Engaged in Trouble

engaged in trouble large banner640I’d like to thank my readers for stopping by today. We have Paisley Sutton visiting with us.

Engaged-in-Trouble-Kindle1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

I shot to stardom as a teenage rock sensation, but ten years later, let me tell you, that star has fizzled out, just like my bank account. When I unexpectedly inherit my aunt’s wedding planning business, I leave the glamor of Los Angeles for a charming small town in Arkansas. Thinking I’ll arrive in Sugar Creek and liquidate the moldly property, I’m shocked to find Enchanted Events has experienced a major makeover and is now the place for brides. I’ve got two months to keep Enchanted Events afloat if I want to sell and rekindle my music career with the profits.

I’m tossed into a world of vows and venues, but my most difficult challenge comes in the form of one demanding bride. When this Bridezilla’s found facedown in her cake, all fingers point to me as the prime murder suspect. And I do not look good in prison orange.

This former pop princess will need the help of my gun-toting, ex-CIA grandmother and my handsome neighbor, Beau Hudson, to unravel the mystery and clear my good name. As me and my unruly posse dig into Bridezilla’s life, I’ll discover the woman had a long list of enemies. The closer I get to the truth, the more my own life is in danger.

Love is in the air this wedding season, but before I can help the ladies of Sugar Creek say, “I do,” I’ve got to unveil a killer. Or find myself the next target.

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

Desperate things happen when you hit rock bottom and go totally broke. My pop career’s in the toilet, and it’s gonna take money to get back in and reinvent myself. It was a total surprise when I learned I’d inherited my great-aunt’s weird little wedding planning business, but now that this Arkansas small town has reinvented itself, downtown properties bring in some serious cash. So my plan was to run the business long enough to fulfill the will demands, then sell and get back to Los Angeles as quickly as possible. What could possibly go wrong?

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

Never! But I also never imagined myself the prime suspect in a murder. If these are typical happenings at rock bottom, I’m totally ready to climb back up. I’ll do anything to clear my name, so I’m lucky I have my grandmother and her sidekick on my team, who ladies who are newly retired CIA and bored enough to cause some serious trouble.

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

My parents are these Tony Robbins motivational-type speakers who travel the world. My two siblings are total brainiacs. And then there’s me—the artist, the mess-up, the one who just can’t compete. Or can I? My parents are definitely not on board with my new career choice of event planner or my attempt to Jessica Fletcher my way out of a murder conviction, but I’ve got just enough of my grandma’s wild streak in me to see this through and prove my innocence.

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

Look, I can’t go to prison. I look terrible in stripes. A bridezilla dropped dead while in my care at Enchanted Events, and everyone assumes I did it. Yes, she might’ve been engaged to my former fiancé, a man who left me at the altar once upon a time. And yes, I might’ve threatened him when I came back to town. But I wouldn’t kill anyone. (Though she was obnoxious and has a lot of enemies.)  With a CIA hero of a grandma, I’ve been raised to be independent and resourceful. Plus desperation makes me scrappy. It might be all I need to solve this case.

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

Don’t threaten ex-fiancés. At least not in public. With witnesses. One minute I’m shooting my mouth off, and the next I’m trapped in a bad Lifetime movie.

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

That I’m tougher than I thought. After losing my pop career and all my money, I kind of went in a spiral of depression. Coming home to Sugar Creek was the last thing I wanted to do, but it was exactly what I needed. I needed the support of my family and to reground myself in my roots. I also learned the boys you couldn’t stand as a kid might grow up to be hunky men who help you out when you need it most.

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

My band the Electric Femmes had a number one hit with songs like “Tutti, Fruity— My Boo’s Got a Fine Bootie,” but that’s never seemed very relevant to any life moment I’ve ever encountered. I guess I’d say “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. Being accused of murder has made a fighter out of me for sure. And it’s time to take back my life and not be a “Where Are They Now” type of pop star. No more washed up rock princess for me.

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

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

I sure didn’t expect to put on my Sherlock Holmes hat again, but in book two of the Enchanted Events series, Royally in Trouble, my good friend, war hero, and resident hottie Beau Hudson finds himself under suspicion when his estranged uncle comes to town with the Renaissance faire and turns up dead. I can’t let all my new found sleuthing skills go to waste, can I? Royally in Trouble will be out in mid-August, and it’s a lot of medieval, Southern fun.

 

 

 

SRP Heroine Interview: Antonia Bingham from Death on West End Road

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Visiting us today is Antonia Bingham.

death on west end road1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

In August 1993, Long Island’s East End was shocked by the murder of 16- year-old Susie Whitaker at the oceanside mansion of one of its wealthiest residents: billionaire pharmaceutical heir Ambassador Gerald Framingham. Susie was found bludgeoned to death on the tennis court, her head pounded by a tennis racket, her body crumpled. The number one suspect? Susie’s best friend Pauline Framingham, the Ambassador’s daughter. Money, clout, power and prestige caused this case to disappear, and Susie’s murder to remain unsolved. Until now.

I’m Antonia Bingham, and I plan on finally bringing Susie’s killer to justice 24 years after her untimely demise.  After two bouts of crime solving (DEATH ON WINDMILL WAY, DEATH ON LILY POND LANE) I thought my days dabbling in death were behind me. But how can I resist stepping back in time and uncovering the truth when the number one suspect in the case—Pauline Framingham—hires me to do just that? As I set out to investigate the case—with the help of my trio of friends: critically acclaimed novelist Joseph Fowler, crime beat reporter Larry Lipper, and store manager Genevieve Dwyer—I discover that life amongst the rich may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Working through the list of suspects, one keeps coming to the forefront as the leading one: Pauline Framingham. Did she only hire Antonia to amuse herself? Or is she innocent? Do rich people have to play by the rules? I’ve got to find out.

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

First and foremost I felt a lot of compassion for the victim, Susie Whitaker, who was killed when she was only sixteen years old and the crime was never solved. I felt for her family and her mother who is now dying and wishes to see her daughter’s killer brought to justice. Additionally, once I have been challenged to solve a puzzle it is very difficult for me to back down. I’m an inquisitive person (okay, some would say nosy) so I am pretty relentless in interviewing people until I receive the information I need. I like to think I have a soft touch, though. Just keep people talking and eventually they will tell you what you want to know. That’s how I investigated this crime. 

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

Not at all! But then, my life has taken many twists and turns that I didn’t expect. I married a strong handsome police officer many years ago and had no idea that he was a violent and abusive person. I was confused and never thought I would have the strength to walk away but I did. I think sometimes you don’t know what grit you are made of but once you really test yourself to do something difficult and challenging you can do anything. And for me, attempting to solve crimes is totally based out of a naïve belief that I can do anything. I have no formal training, I’m not a cop, the closest I am is a fan of crime fiction, but what do you know, I already have a few solved cases under my apron. 

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

The least pleased are probably the local police who would like me to mind my business and stay out of theirs! I am an innkeeper and I also am the head chef of the restaurant in the inn, so sleuthing is a part time gig. I’d like to say that my kitchen staff would prefer to have me in the kitchen but they actually do pretty well without me!

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I like to start with the positive so I will say I think I’m a good listener. I like to hear people’s stories; I like to chat with people and meet new people; that’s why I really enjoy owning an inn and running a restaurant. I’m an extrovert. I think I probably meddle too much in things that have little to do with me and I can be quite nosy sometimes so that is definitely a weakness. I also have no self-control when it comes to food, particularly sweets and carbs, and oh yes, a nice gooey cheese platter. 

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

I would like to think of myself as a self-rescue princess! When I was in my bad marriage it really was up to me to pull myself out of it, and I finally did. Even though I had a great family and friends and a real support system, it was only me who could ultimately save myself. I guess when I hear the word ‘rescue’ I think of it as one person helping another, so I probably would be a self-save princess. And you don’t become a strong, confident woman overnight. I had to work on myself and believe in myself—that I was worthy of love and friendships; that I was a good enough cook to own a restaurant—before I became that woman.

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

Be a mentor. It’s important to help other women—or men—rise up in the profession you have chosen. Sheila Widnall, who was the first female Secretary of the Air Force once said in a commencement address: “As you make your way up the corporate ladder, don’t pull it up behind you.” I find that to be very sound advice.

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

During my latest attempt at crime solving I realized that I had made some truly great friends in East Hampton, the town I moved to only three years ago. From my friend Joseph, the acclaimed historical novelist, to Larry Lipper, the annoying but dogged crime reporter for the local newspaper, to my staff at the inn, there are people I can rely on who really care about me. 

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

“I will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. I have survived a bad man and some bad times so it has given me hope. It’s such a positive message, and with all the murder I’m getting mixed up in, it’s a good mantra.

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

I always say the next case is the last, but I know I’ll be solving crimes in the Hamptons until they stop happening.