Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning.
Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer.
Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?
Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie. She loves to hear from readers.
Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won’t discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.
Thanks for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.
We currently live in central Arizona, ten minutes from a boat launch on one of the few lakes in our state. And, by the way, this is for my husband, FDW. I’d prefer to be farther north in the cooler mountains and pines, but he fishes. We share our home with a rescue dog, Amigo. He spent the first year of his life in a culvert with a blind dog. He was a bit wild and timid when we got him, but he’s turned into a good doggie.
Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?
I am most certainly a coffee fiend (a coffee snob, according to FDW). I like whipped milk, cinnamon, and honey in my VERY strong coffee…but only until noon, or I’d have more trouble sleeping than I already have.
Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create? How would you best describe your books?
I was an artist in my first life, but somewhere along the way, I found more fun in filling a blank page with words than with paint. My books are suspense, romance, and character driven. A suspenseful story is a must, but I always begin with characters and build from there.
Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?
My newest story is Curse of Wolf Falls (The MacKenzie Chronicles Book 3). The eBook is up for preorder at a sale price and will release worldwide on 9/5.
The print version is available right now. This third story is about the youngest MacKenzie, an archaeologist. Elidor MacKenzie has a gift she can’t return—the ability to absorb the joy, pain, and suffering of others. She’s spent her life running from what she considers her curse. Now she’s home to make amends and guard a secret archaeological find. But once again, the energies of Joshua will stir the hurricane, with her at the deadly center.
What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?
The series was inspired by a real-life town called Jerome, Arizona. I call the town Joshua, Arizona in the series—an 1800s mining community-turned-ghost-town, reborn hippie haven, and now tourist town clinging to the side of Spirit Mountain—hiding treacherous secrets only the MacKenzie’s can reveal.
The MacKenzie siblings were raised by free-thinking hippies, and their minds are open to whatever the universe deals them. I had fun researching auras, clairsentience, empath, and déjà vu to name a few. And my heroine, Elidor, is an archaeologist so I had to gain a bit of knowledge in that area.
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?
I got to touch on sacred Native American myths, empathic sensations, and live in Joshua for a few months (in my head that is).
I’ve visited Jerome, renamed Joshua in the book, many times over my life. I renamed it so I could have a free hand at changing what I needed to fit the story, but making additional trips for research was a fun task.
What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
What I most like about writing is writing. And by that I mean, the process of getting these characters out of my head on into my computer. They constantly surprise me as their stories unfold. That’s not to say I don’t have an outline or synopsis I am guided by, but the little details are so much fun to discover.
I’m not crazy about what an author has to do to get the word out about a book. Promotion is a chore, organized and more like work than writing is.
I discovered what I wanted to do rather late in life. I thought I would paint and draw for my creative outlet. Then I took a creative writing class, and I knew I’d found my love.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?
I belong to a couple of local Arizona clubs, although they aren’t too close to me. We live in the boonies. There are numerous writing sites I call upon when I need to research or gain a little knowledge.
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?
No, I can’t listen to music and write too. I’ve tried. It gets in my head and messes with me.
Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?
I have several critique partners. We critique each other’s work via email because we are miles and hours apart. But I NEED these people. I don’t know how anyone can write without critique partners. Mine all have their individual strengths and they make my stories so much better with their analysis.
To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?
The first book I wrote received dozens of rejections. I attempted getting an agent first. So, I set it aside and wrote a short story that wouldn’t end and became my second book. With that one, I submitted directly to a publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and they accepted. Eventually, after a few more publications, I rewrote that first book and TWRP published it too. The key to selling any book to a publisher is to polish your submission. Follow their guidelines exactly. Back when I first published, self-publishing was frowned upon. Not so now. But, and this is a big but, if you go that route, please get a professional cover designed and a real editor. No one can edit their own book.
What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
I’ve got a couple of projects going right now. I’ve received the rights back on a series that I am updating and will republish myself. I’m also in partnership with another author, Joyce Proell, and we are writing a cozy mystery series called The Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries. I’m having so much fun with that.
I’ve decided to make public appearances part of my routine again. These last few years, I’ve been holed up, as many of us have. Winter and Spring are the best times for those outings. I have one show booked in September in a fun little town called Chino Valley, Arizona.
Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense and romance. She’s penned a couple of historicals and straight romance, but she’s found villains and danger make a good story that much better. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart so won’t discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.
The Wickedest Town in the West turned ghost town, turned hippie haven, turned tourist mecca…that’s the inspiration for my latest series, The MacKenzie Chronicles. Although I’ve renamed my city Joshua, Arizona, anyone familiar with Jerome, Arizona will recognize the setting within my stories.
I was born and raised in Arizona and fell in love with the city in the 1960s. Jerome has long been a favorite place to visit for locals. The town nearly died in the 1950s when the mining dried up. What once was a raucous little town hanging on the side of a mountain, inhabited by the men who worked the mines, the wealthy who owned the mines, and the ladies who lived in the cribs and entertained both, became a ghost town. And the city does literally hang on the side of the mountain. Three main roads are stacked like stadium seating.
In the 1960s, hippies discovered Jerome and squatted in the abandoned buildings. But they also bought the homes, improved them, and turned the town into a center for art.
Today, the town flourishes with artists, wine tasting, historical settings, and restaurants. The residents prefer to keep the town looking much like it did in the 1920s when the mines pumped out the minerals that made millions.
Frank MacKenzie, an artist, and Susie Muse, a store owner and mystic, met in the hippie days of Joshua. The MacKenzie Chronicles are about their three children, now grown. Susie died a couple of decades ago, but two of her offspring have mystic talents while one is creative like her father. There is murder, mystery, and suspense in their pasts as well as their presents.
Mystery on Spirit Mountain, book 2 in the series, is Harlan’s book, and officially releases on September 15. Preorder is available now at a sale price.
Only Harlan MacKenzie can sense the troubled history of the Big Purple House. When he’s hired to restore the historical mansion, he doesn’t foresee the secrets—secrets that entangle his family in deceit and murder.
Phaedra is selling the house that has been in her family for decades. As her friends-to-lovers relationship with Harlan escalates, she puts her values on the line and chances losing him.
After a stranger comes to town, weaving her web of deception, hell-bent on correcting an old grievance connected to the house, dark revelations of the past implode the present. Harlan and Phaedra are thrown on a dangerous path, not only risking love but possibly their lives.
You can read the first chapter of Mystery on Spirit Mountain here: