Monday, April 27, 2015

Ramla Zareen Ahmad, Guest Reader

My guest this week is Ramla Zareen Ahmad, who is an avid reader rather than a writer. Sometimes it’s beneficial to hear a reader’s viewpoint, and such is the case this week. She’s going to give us her impressions of love triangles in cozy mysteries.

Ramla Zareen is originally from Pakistan, but now lives in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, with her husband and young daughter. Not only is she an avid reader, but she now has two blogs – one about mysteries and books, and one regarding lifestyles.

Welcome, Ramla Zareen! I’m glad you could stop in and discuss love triangles in cozy mysteries with us.


In Cozy Mysteries, the various characters and their relationships with one another are an important aspect in the stories ...which often makes a romantic sub-plot inevitable.

I enjoy the romance element in Cozy Mysteries, but as a reader, my preference is that it should be discreet with intimate details avoided.

Moreover, I usually desire the protagonist to be happily involved with a steady partner :-)

If the protagonist is not a part of an established couple right from the first book of the series, then I prefer the romantic aspect in the Cozy Mystery series to make natural progression, from initial interaction, between the protagonist and a single member of the opposite gender, to gradual friendship, to romantic relationship, to marriage, etc. 

And it's perfectly fine if there are ups and downs, and some romantic tensions, in all of these phases. 

But the overall trend should always be to move forward ...and for the relationship to develop, grow and become stronger :-)

I strongly hesitate to get involved in those series where I sense a prolonged 'love-triangle'. 

I think this is mainly because, to me, 'love-triangles' create uncertainty ...and diminish the sense of comfort and pleasure that I usually get while reading Cozy Mysteries ...basically by creating a doubt in my mind whether the protagonist will be able to achieve a 'happily ever after' with the 'right person for him/her', or not! 

When the protagonist spends a lot of time, that is, more than 6 to 8 books in the series, in trying to resolve this issue can sometimes make him/her seem stupid and immature ...and it also makes me feel bad if it turns out that I had been rooting for the one that the protagonist doesn't chose! 

Negative emotions are also invoked in me when a 'love-triangle' is introduced after a couple is already established ...especially if I happen to be fond of the original couple ...and this can also at times make the protagonist come across as a fickle person.

All this further reduces some of the joy and comfort of reading a Cozy.

Moreover, often much attention has to be given for the protagonist to resolve the issue of 'love-triangle' ...and this prevents the main focus to remain on the mystery! 

Whereas I feel that though the romance should definitely be present, as it adds to the reading pleasure, it should be in the background, as a secondary part of the story.

Having said all this ...I think that it's only fair to mention that while it's true that I usually find 'love-triangles' annoying ...but I sometimes do manage to ignore them ...if the other factors, such as writing, mysteries, characters, humour, setting, ambience, etc ...are especially well done.  

However, I would like to emphasize, that in such cases, I read the books in spite of the 'love-triangles' ...not because of them!

So my respectful and sincere request to Cozy authors is that instead of the 'love-triangles', please use the 'mystery plots' to create the suspense ...and depend on the quality of writing to entice the readers to read the next book in the series. If there is a strong need to incorporate ' love-triangles', then at least please try not to prolong them too much! 
Thanks! :-)

Now I would like to conclude by thanking Marja McGraw for providing me with an opportunity to share my feelings and thoughts on this topic:-)

Also much thanks to everyone for their time and patience to read my post :-)

Thank you for your thoughts, Ramla Zareen. I hope you’ll return for another “chat” one of these days.

Those interested are welcome to visit my blogs:



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Monday, April 20, 2015

Una Tiers, Guest Author

Una Tiers is my guest author this week, and she's declaring April a Book Review Month. She's also sharing some tips on reviewing with us. I haven't read Una's work yet, but after reading her Synopsis, I plan to. Welcome, Una!


Reviews are important, they tell the author what the reader saw and they tell other people what to expect. They are hard to come by but treasured by authors. Please consider writing a review this month. 

Easy Bake Recipe for a Book Review

1. Read the entire book.

2. Answer one or more of the following questions:

What was your general impression? Were you entertained, educated, did you laugh, did you love, like or enjoy the book?
What stood out about the book? Was it humorous?
Was there a quote you loved?
Was there an idea it promoted?
How did you feel about the characters?
Do you recommend this book? Do you recommend it to particular readers?

5. For Amazon reviews you only need 20 words. You don’t need to tell the story, this isn’t a book report.

6. Say something nice. A book takes time and heartfelt effort to put together. It’s a little of the writer’s soul.

Reviews are important to authors, please consider writing one today.

Thank you.

About the Author

Una Tiers is an attorney who writes mystery/humorcides. Her debut novel, JUDGE vs NUTS, was re-released in March of 2015. It is available on Amazon eBooks (links below) and is ON SALE!


Fiona Gavelle expected fame, fortune and glory after law school. However she finds herself working in a dead end, dusty law office where she does more secretarial than lawyer work.
One snowy Chicago night, she learns she was fired from her miserable job and when her miserable husband doesn't support her plight, she walks out. 

However, after attending the funeral of a man she only met once, her luck turns. She gets new office space, and is taken in by her favorite Aunt. 

She struggles to prove the practice of law does not include car chases or running down the alley at midnight. 

Join Fiona to see where she leads you.

US   The book is on sale April 23, 2015 8AM PST to April 26, 2015 12PM PST $.99  US Dollars

UK across the pond, the book is on sale April 23, 2015 8AM GMT to April 27, 12PM GMT  £ .99

Una is also on Goodreads

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Looking for Topics in All the Wrong Places

Note that there's a roadrunner sitting on the back of the chair

 I was sitting in the back yard trying to think of a topic for this week’s blog and listening to the wind whistle through the trees. Actually, they’re palm trees and the palm fronds were banging and flopping against each other. The only whistling I heard came from a black bird in the neighbor’s tree.

A roadrunner came looking for handouts. Did you know they’re carnivorous? They love raw hamburger. I tried wet dog food once, but the roadrunners didn’t want anything to do with it. I even tried pieces of wiener, but that didn’t work either. It’s hamburger or nothing, if a human is feeding them. Otherwise it’s lizards, snakes, or… What am I talking about roadrunners for?

I watched the dogs soaking up the sun. Such relaxed creatures, although it’s not always like that. Sugar thinks she’s the alpha dog, and Murphy is a good ol’ boy who ignores her.

I turned away from the dogs because I was still trying to come up with a topic. What could I write about? Nothing was coming to mind.

Maybe if I went inside the house and ate some chocolate. Chocolate always helps me think. Or does it? Yum. Whether it helps me come up with an idea or not, it would still fill a need.

I’d thought about writing a post on overused words, but it’s been done – more than once. What could I possibly add to what others have said? Not a thing.

I walked back outside. The wind had picked up a little. The desert is known for desert winds – the dust flies, pollen finds its way into my life, leaves fill the air (and the swimming pool, practically a necessity in the desert heat), and flies and bees buzz around.

Walking over to the tomato plants, I saw four tomatoes growing. Yippee! Good eating.

Returning to my chair, I thought about dark and stormy nights. A wind like this would be great on a stormy night. Hmm. I’ve already written about how this would add to the intensity and suspense of a story.

 I played with the dogs for a few minutes. We worked on one of their skills, Take It and Leave It. You set a dog treat on the ground and tell them to Leave It. I laughed because while one dog puts her head in the air and won’t look at the cookie, the other one lowers his head until his nose almost touches it. When they’ve done their duty, I say Take It. Who knew food could disappear so quickly. Love those dogs.

Still, what was I going to write about? Nothing seemed to inspire me. Not the wind, nor the dogs or roadrunner, nor the chocolate or… If you hear a huge sigh, that would be me.

Where are the guest authors when I need them? I have two guest authors – make that three – and a guest reader coming up in the weeks to come. In the meantime, what, oh what, should I write about?

Off to my office. Something in the room I spend so much time in should be inspirational, right? I have all of my book covers lining one wall, but that doesn’t help. I have notes to myself on most surfaces. Those don’t help, either. My bookcases are full and my To Be Read Stack just keeps growing. I could whine, but I won’t.

I’ve heard from several authors that sales are down. I could write about that. Buy a book and enjoy yourself. Okay, that won’t fill up my blogspot.

I have so little reading time. If I wasn’t busy trying to think up a topic, I could be reading a good book. That’s no help because I still need a subject.

This week’s topic came to me when I least expected it. Where do you look for inspiration to write a blog? Everywhere, and you hope for the best. While I didn’t come up with something to write about, I did come up with a few ideas for scenes in books. I hope that in some way I entertained you as much as my day entertained me.

Do you ever have a time like this when nothing lifts its head in the air and says, “Hey! Write about me?”

Until next time, I hope your week is more productive than my day has been. Maybe it’s Spring Fever gripping my thought processes – and I hope it passes quickly.

CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw’s website

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Purple cows? Elderly spies? Give How Now Purple Cow – A Bogey Man Mystery a try.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Marilyn Meridith, Guest Author

My friend and one of my favorite authors, Marilyn Meredith, is visiting today. I always enjoy having her visit, and she always finds interesting things to write about. Today's post is short but interesting. Check out the details for a book giveaway at the end of the post, too. Welcome, Marilyn!

The Inspiration for Violent Departures

On a previous blog, I wrote a post about the inspiration for the main plot of the latest book in my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series, a newspaper article about a man who disappeared right out of his car that was left running in his driveway.

 But there is something else that inspired one of the plot threads and that was a memory I had of the days back when Charlie Manson and his crew were in the news, how and where they lived.

It also brought back memories of hippies and the “flower children” of the past. Because I lived through those times, lots of ideas flooded my thoughts.

Though none of them are in the book, some of those memories gave me an idea that became rather important in solving the main plot of the story.

It is amazing how many different things can trigger a plot idea or give you other threads that can be woven into the whole of a story. 

F. M. aka Marilyn Meredith

Blurb for Violent Departures:
College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.


Because it has been popular on my other blog tours, once again I’m offering the chance for the person who comments on the most blog posts during this tour to have a character named for him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

Or if that doesn’t appeal, the person may choose one of the earlier books in the series—either a print book or Kindle copy.

Tomorrow I’m answering a question I’ve never been asked before, “Who Do I Write For?”