Showing posts with label Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

"A Hole in One" by Judy Penz Sheluk

A Hole in One
(A Glass Dolphin Mystery Book 2)
by Judy Penz Sheluk

A Hole in One (A Glass Dolphin Mystery Book 2) by Judy Penz Sheluk

A Hole in One is the second book in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series by Judy Penz Sheluk. Also available: The Hanged Man’s Noose.

A Hole in One is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an interview with the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on Skeletons in the Attic.

Hoping to promote the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, co-owners Arabella Carpenter and Emily Garland agree to sponsor a hole in one contest at a charity golf tournament. The publicity turns out to be anything but positive, however, when Arabella’s errant tee shot lands in the woods next to a corpse.
They soon learn that the victim is closely related to Arabella’s ex-husband, who had been acting as the Course Marshal. With means, opportunity, and more than enough motive, he soon becomes the police department’s prime suspect, leaving Arabella and Emily determined to clear his name - even if they’re not entirely convinced of his innocence.
Dogged by incriminating online posts from an anonymous blogger, they track down leads from Emily’s ex-fiancĂ© (and the woman he left Emily for), an Elvis impersonator, and a retired antiques mall vendor with a secret of her own.
All trails lead to a mysterious cult that may have something to do with the murder. Can Arabella and Emily identify the killer before the murderer comes after them?

Arabella Carpenter ran her hands over the smooth surface of the shiny new jet ski. It was the hole in one prize at the Second Annual Kids Come First Golf Tournament. The tournament—a charitable initiative supporting program for at-risk youth in the tri-community area of Lount’s Landing, Miakoda Falls, and Lakeside—was being held at the Miakoda Falls Golf and Country Club.
Somehow, Gillian “Gilly” Germaine, the tournament organizer, had convinced her that sponsoring the contest would be good advertising for Arabella’s Glass Dolphin antiques shop. Well, “convinced” wasn’t entirely accurate. It was her new business partner, Emily Garland, who’d talked her into it, though what jet skis and golf had to do with antiques was beyond Arabella. Nevertheless, their deal was that Emily would be in charge of advertising and promotion, leaving Arabella to concentrate on purchasing and sales. Nixing Emily’s first real A&P idea would have been bad form.
Arabella didn’t have much choice in the matter. Emily had been adamant. A jet ski, she had explained, would be the kind of prize the well-heeled folks in Lakeside would gravitate toward. The Glass Dolphin sponsoring such a prize would give it the sort of chichi street cred that would make them want to visit the shop. Once they made the twenty-five-minute trek to Lount’s Landing, they were bound to buy something. Especially once they saw the quality of the Glass Dolphin’s merchandise.
“What if someone actually hit a hole in one and they had to give away the jet ski?” Arabella had asked. Emily had a ready answer. The odds were astronomical. The third hole, a nasty par three, was one hundred and forty yards to carry over a pond, another twenty-five yards to the pin, with a thicket of trees on both sides, and a sand trap that beckoned from behind. Downright nasty it was.
Having played the course on a couple of occasions, Arabella had conceded that number three was challenging. But that didn’t make it impossible. Not by a long shot—pun fully intended.
Even better, Emily had countered. “If no one won the jet ski, it would be that day’s news, quickly forgotten. But if someone won, imagine the headlines. For sure it would make the local press, but they might even get some coverage in the Toronto papers, not to mention the rampant word-of-mouth machine that ran in the tri-communities.”
The sound of a golf cart heading in her direction stopped Arabella’s thoughts midstream. She glanced over the green and watched as Emily wound her way along the paved path, a cardboard sign propped up in the basket at the back of the cart. She parked the cart a few feet from where Arabella was standing, hopped off, smoothed out her black golf skort, and positively sprinted over to the jet ski.
As always, Arabella felt a touch of envy at Emily’s glossy, dark hair, now neatly tied into a ponytail, her bangs held gently in place by a black and gold Miakoda Falls Golf and Country Club visor. Arabella’s own hair was a mass of auburn curls that behaved well enough on a cool, dry, winter’s day, but got wilder and woolier as summer’s heat and humidity ratcheted up. On a hot, muggy day like today, it was virtually unmanageable. Stick a cap on top of it and she resembled Bozo the clown. Not exactly the look an almost forty-year-old woman was after, but there wasn’t much she could do about it. Even if she took the time to flat iron it straight, it would last all of an hour in this heat.
“Gorgeous,” Emily was saying, her fingers caressing the jet ski. “Too bad we’re ineligible to win. You know, on the off-chance one of us gets a hole in one.”
“I think the odds of that happening are pretty slim.” And slim just left town.
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Wait ’til you see what I’ve got.” Emily ran back to the golf cart, pulled a gold-lettered placard out of the basket, and inserted it into the rectangular tee sign currently advertising the club’s twilight rates, fussing and fidgeting until she got it positioned just right.
“Print It! did a great job, don’t you think? Gave us a good deal, too. I think Harvey felt sorry for me, and to be honest, I did milk getting fired from Inside the Landing to broker a deal. Plus I let him put his Print It! business logo on the bottom.” Emily grinned. “I think that was rather a stroke of genius.”
A good cost-saving idea, sure. A stroke of genius? That might be taking things a bit far. “They look great. The sign, the jet ski. Except I’m the one doing the books, and believe me when I tell you, and not for the first time, that the Glass Dolphin is barely breaking even. I’m just not sure we can afford it.”
Emily sighed. “First off, it’s a bit too late to renege now, the night before the tournament, don’t you think? What would that do to our reputation? Second, I’ve already explained how little money this will actually cost the shop. One good sale should easily cover it. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll go over the numbers one last time.”
“Humor me.”
“Fine. The jet ski is being supplied by Luke’s Lakeside Marina. Luke transported it from the marina, at no cost to us, and he’ll either take it back to the marina after the tournament, or arrange delivery to the winner, should there be one. He’s also springing for half the insurance and fifty percent of the sign, which, as I already told you, is costing us next to nothing. Essentially, we’re co-sponsoring the hole with him.”
Arabella suspected Emily’s relationship with Luke Surmanski ran a lot deeper than co-sponsoring a hole in one contest at a golf tournament, but she let it go. Emily would confide in her when she was ready.
“Explain the insurance again.”
This netted another sigh, along with an exaggerated eye roll. “I gave you the policy to read over two weeks ago. Didn’t you do that?”
Arabella had meant to, but she’d been busy. Then there’d been that two-day multi-estate auction in Pottageville. She’d won more box lots than expected, and had been sorting through them ever since. It wasn’t easy to decide what items to keep for sale in the shop, which to reserve for sale online, and what should be donated to the local ReStore. Before she knew it, the day of the tournament had arrived. She shook her head and did her best to look sufficiently contrite.
The look must have worked, because the exasperation on Emily’s face softened ever so slightly. “I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version. I went to Stanford McLelland Insurance Brokerage, and you’ll be happy to know that I dealt directly with Stanford.”
That, at least, made Arabella feel better. Before opening the Glass Dolphin, she’d worked for Stanford doing a variety of claims-related tasks, especially those involving antiques and collectibles. When it came to the insurance business, there wasn’t much the man didn’t know.
“Stanford found a company that specializes in hole in one insurance. That’s all they do, actually.”
Incredible. Here they were, trying to diversify to boost sales, and there was a company that did nothing but sell hole in one insurance.
“How does it work?”
“They calculate the number of golfers participating in the tournament, which in this case is nine holes with four golfers per hole for a grand total of thirty-six, minus our foursome, which leaves thirty-two possible winners. Then they calculate the degree of difficulty for the hole along with the value of the prize. The cost for the Glass Dolphin, all in, is two hundred dollars, which we’ll split down the middle with Luke’s Lakeside Marina.”
“It does sound like you have every angle covered.”
“That’s the spirit. Trust me, nothing will go wrong.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“The reader is taken on a journey to find the answers, the truth and to clear Arabella’s ex’s name.” ~ My Reading Journeys
“What fun! A twisty tale chock full of clues and red herrings, antiques and secrets, and relationships that aren’t what they seem. And who doesn’t love an Elvis impersonator?” ~ Jane K. Cleland, award-winning author, Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries and Mastering Plot Twists
“A bang-up mystery! Two friends, two murders, secret pasts, and a touch of romance. Who could ask for more?” ~ Lea Wait, USA Today bestselling author, Shadows Antique Print and Mainely Needlepoint mysteries
“With its sharp, smart writing, and engrossing plot, Judy Penz Sheluk’s latest addition to her terrific Glass Dolphin Mystery series is a hole in one.” ~ Ellen Byron, award winning and USA Today bestselling author, Cajun County Mysteries
“A captivating page-turner set in the world of antiques dealing where dangerous secrets simmer until they lead to murder. Sheluk is an expert at writing intriguing characters, delivering a fast-paced story with twists that keep you guessing until the very end. You don’t have to be a love golf to love A Hole In One.” ~ Kristina Stanley, bestselling author, Stone Mountain Mysteries

Interview with the Author
Judy Penz Sheluk joins me today to discuss her new book, A Hole in One.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
There is no overt sex, bad language, or violence (the murder takes place off screen), so 16 to 116.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I’ve been golfing for 15 or 20 years, and during that time I’ve played in my fair share of charity golf tournaments. There’s always a sponsored par 3 with a prize like a car or a boat, and it’s typically set up on the most challenging par 3 on the course. But it was actually one day, when golfing in a Ladies League at Silver Lakes Golf & Country Club in Holland Landing, Ontario, that the idea came to me. I was at the third hole and, in trying to hit over the pond, my ball ended up beyond the green and into a heavily treed area. As I was hunting for my ball, I thought, “What if there was a dead body in here?” And then I thought, “That’s the premise for my next book.” It took the sting out of landing in the woods.
Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
I always start with a basic premise. For example, in The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first book in the series, I thought, “What if a greedy big city developer came to a small town with plans to build a mega-box store, thereby threatening the livelihood of all the local, independent businesses.” And then I thought, “What if someone was willing to kill to stop it?”
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
I’m always worried about getting the facts correct. I took a lot of time researching antique guns. I’m not a gun person and online research only took me so far. Fortunately, I found an expert in the field, Sean McGuire, who was willing to walk me through it.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
This isn’t Shakespeare! I want people to enjoy the book for what it is: a cozy mystery with a happy ending.
How long did it take you to write this book?
About a year, including revisions.
What is your writing routine?
It varies, but when I’m working on a book, I aim for a chapter a day, five days a week. But those can be any five days, not just Monday to Friday. If I can write seven days a week, I’ll do that, too. It really depends on what else is going on in my life. One thing that doesn’t change is that I write listening to talk-radio. I even listen to those infomercial kind of programs on weekends. I can’t write to music - maybe it goes back to my years of working in a noisy office.
How did you get your book published?
With my first book, The Hanged Man’s Noose, I faced plenty of rejection but I refused to give up. It took me about 8 months to land a publisher (Barking Rain Press). They are small, but MWA-approved and great to work with. When A Hole in One was ready, they took it on right away. They’ve also published Skeletons in the Attic, book 1 in my Marketville Mystery series.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
I always quote Agatha Christie when I’m asked this question: “There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.”
Great quote! What do you like to do when you're not writing?
In summer, golf or hang out by the lake at our cottage (camp) on Lake Superior. I love walking my 2½ year old Golden Retriever, Gibbs (named after Mark Harmon’s character on NCIS), and I run 3-5km three times a week. I’m also an avid reader, mostly crime fiction, but I do read other things as well.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband, Mike, is hugely supportive – in fact, he paid for my first Creative Writing course as a birthday gift back in 2000. He’s also my first beta reader, and trust me, he finds the niggliest things. My mom was so proud of me, but she passed away in September 2016. She was actually handing out my bookmarks to the doctors and nurses in the hospital. I like to think she’s handing them out in heaven, now. I really miss her.
She sounds great. Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I’m the only child of very strict immigrant parents, no sleepovers in our household. I spent a lot of time in my room, reading and making up stories in my head.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Yes. I read every Nancy Drew book, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, etc. Emily Climbs by L. M. Montgomery, the story of Emily Starr wanting to grow up to be a writer, really inspired me (so much so that I named a character Emily in my first book). When I was twelve, I read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, and that really opened my eyes to the power of words.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think I was born a writer, it just took me a few decades to start writing my stories down.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I think all of our experiences form an author’s writing. But one of the strongest examples of how my childhood influenced me can be found in Unhappy Endings, a collection of three flash fiction stories (Kindle only). The story, “Cleopatra Slippers”, is based on something that happened to me as a 14-year-old girl.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
John Sandford; he’s the master of pacing. Sue Grafton; I’m going to miss her. AgathaChristie, the queen of mystery.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I don’t, actually, but I’d be happy to hear from them. There’s a contact form on my website if they’d like to drop me a line.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m hoping to have the sequel to Skeletons in the Attic out this Fall.
Sounds good. Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Judy. Best of luck with your future projects.
Thank you for hosting me.

About the Author
Judy Penz Sheluk
Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mystery series (The Hanged Man’s Noose and A Hole in One) and the Marketville Mystery series (Skeletons in the Attic). Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang, and Live Free or Tri.
Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Regional Representative for Toronto/Southern Ontario.
Find Judy on her website/blog, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of A Hole in One by Judy Penz Sheluk (US only).


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"Chicken Culprit" by Vikki Walton

Chicken Culprit
(Backyard Farming Mystery Book 1)
by Vikki Walton

Chicken Culprit (Backyard Farming Mystery Book 1) by Vikki Walton

Chicken Culprit by Vikki Walton is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Get your copy now for only $0.99. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Finally healing after her heart-breaking divorce, Anne Freemont is ready to put the painful past behind her.
Discovering an old Victorian for sale in the small mountain town of Carolan Springs may be just what she needs. The beauty of Colorado beckons, so Anne heads west to start her new life.
Yet, before Anne’s completely settled in, her neighbor is found dead in his compost pile. What’s worse is that Anne’s quirky young neighbor, Kandi Jenkins, could be the killer. When Kandi begs for her help, Anne feels she has no choice but to help the young woman.
However, she finds herself quickly at odds with the local sheriff. And while she uncovers more of the community’s secrets, she’s also exploring her awakening feelings for Sam Powers, the town’s deputy coroner.
Once Anne starts looking at who could be the real killer, the suspect list keeps getting longer and longer. It seems that Carolan Springs is a place of many secrets. But who would want to murder Ralph and who’s willing to kill again to keep their secret?

Anne pointed at a woman wearing a baby snuggly in her Tula wrap.
“I’d only seen white and brown eggs at my grocery store. But earlier today I saw some blue ones, some pink, and even some green eggs. How do you get those kinds of eggs and do they taste different than a white egg?”
Anne moved to the side of the stage where a dozen eggs were in a clear container. “Each of these eggs is a different color. Some”—she held up one—“even have spots on them. This is determined by the type of hens you have. For instance, if you want a brown egg, then your best choices would be something like a Rhode Island Red, a Wyandotte, an Astralorp, or Orpington.
Ameraucana or Aracaunas, or what some refer to as Easter-eggers, lay blue or green eggs.’’
A small hand shot up.
“Yes? You in the back.” She motioned to the small boy.
“Um, uh, how do you know if the eggs are good for you? I mean, you know, like, okay to eat? I mean, when you go to the store, you can trust they’re okay.”
“Good question. Thanks for asking.” The boy beamed at the praise.
“First, let’s start with the timing. When you go outside and retrieve eggs on a daily basis, those eggs are fresh. Eggs in the store can have taken up to five weeks just to get on your refrigerator shelf.”
Some people in the crowd gasped, and Anne heard, “Is that true?”
“It’s true. Look it up.” She smiled at the crowd.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“If you're a fan of curling up with a quick, readable mystery, then you'll love Chicken Culprit. And if other books in this new Backyard Farming series are as entertaining as this debut novel, they will prove to be utterly enjoyable. Be ready to immerse yourself in small town living, complete with a few wayward and badly behaved chickens!” ~ Lisa at Fresh Eggs Daily
“Reading this book really was a delight. I enjoyed this mystery wholeheartedly and I am really hoping there will be many more of these as a series. I loved the characters! The best part was the ending. The mystery was solved and then there was a sweet surprise at the end.” ~ Barbara Snyder
“Great character development and plot twists throughout. This book should encourage any reader to consider moving to a smaller town where people are real. I'm being careful to not fall into my compost pile after reading this book!... Looking forward to the next in the series.” ~ Bill
“Loved this cozy so much! Great mystery, small town living, with people you would love to have for neighbors. Beautifully written! Highly recommend to all cozy lovers!” ~ Karen Correll
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading Chicken Culprit! It was a fun read. Anne was my favorite character as she started life over! It was funny and serious without knowing what would come next. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good story. There was only one thing I didn't ended!” ~ Judie C Harrell

Guest Post by the Author
Bountiful Farming in Your Backyard
While called various things, such as urban or suburban homesteading, backyard farming is growing in popularity. Backyard farming is a way to connect to your food source and to enjoy creating a mini-farm right where you live. Homesteading, in its original form, dealt with setting down stakes and creating a home and farm from scratch. While some may still do this, in many cases, the property (be it a condo or townhouse or a suburban plot) has the main infrastructure in place. Backyard farming is also a bit different from a patch of ground committed to some fruits or veggies in that there is a stronger emphasis on creating food structures throughout the entire property.
Growing plants that produce food can be as simple as some containers on a deck, raised beds along a fence, or the creation of food forest guilds on a typical suburban plot. Enjoying food that came from just outside your door is a wonderful experience.
Right after adding gardens, chickens are the number one area that people consider when adding to their backyard farm, and it’s for good reason.
Have you ever popped outside to grab some eggs for breakfast? Have you enjoyed sunny orange yolks so rich that they looked like you’ve added cheese to your dish? Do you have a desire to know how the hens laying those eggs are living?
If so, then you are a great candidate for raising chickens. Whether a small coop with bantams on a covered patio or a larger coop with run out in your suburban yard, chickens are considered the gateway to all things homesteading.
Eggs are often found in homes everywhere and are some of the main ingredients in many recipes. Not only can eggs be used in myriad ways, but the eggshells, which are full of calcium, can be crushed and placed on your houseplants and outdoor plants. The hens laying the eggs provide manure that can be added to compost that, once complete, can be added to garden beds. They also go after bugs and mice, keeping your yard pest-free.
Chickens are often kept for their eggs, while some people also keep meat birds. Chickens are an easy animal to care for and bring into your home environment. However, like any pet, they are a responsibility, so it’s best to do your research before taking on the challenge of chickens.
If you’re not up for chickens, you could consider becoming a bee guardian. Bees are an extremely important pollinator. If you don’t think you can handle all the ins and outs of being a beekeeper, you may be able to foster a hive in your yard. The beekeeper brings a hive, placing it in a designated spot, and all you really need to provide are some great flowering plants for nectar (that have not been sprayed with any chemical) and a water source. Then, when the beekeeper harvests the honey, you will receive some of the honey for allowing the hive in your yard. It’s a great way to have bees help with your garden pollination. Conversely, you could also take a class on beekeeping.
Finally, one of the best things to consider is learning about permaculture. Permaculture is a set of principles that focus on sustainable eco-systems, often around agriculture. Yet, they impact other areas of life as well.
Backyard farming has lots of potential for anyone who wants to engage more with nature and become a bit more self-sufficient. Check out your local homesteading groups or connect with others interested in backyard farming at Havensteader.

About the Author
Vikki Walton
Vikki Walton is a suburban homesteader aka the Havensteader. She has chickens, gardens, and bees and is a certified permaculture designer. She’s also the author of nonfiction books. She loves to travel, is a global house and pet sitter and, when not out in the garden or hiking in beautiful Colorado, is plotting her next mystery.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a prize package including a $25 Amazon gift card (US only).