Thursday, May 17, 2018

Traveling the World: A Guest Post from BEYOND THE PALE author Clare O'Donohue

We welcome Clare O'Donohue, author of the new Beyond the Pale (the first book in the World of Spies Mystery Series), to Midnight Ink's blog today! Here she shares some insight into traveling the world for her new series.

The World of Spies series started with self-interest. I love to travel, and a few years ago I noticed that I've seen most of the United States, some of Europe, and one lone country in Asia (Malaysia). Not bad, but tick-tock. Time was flying by and I wanted to see the world. But between work, family, writing books, etc., etc… it was something that stayed under the heading of "Someday."

Unless… well, unless I decided to write a series that took place around the world. Then, I'd have a solid reason to move travel from someday to now. I'd have to do research. I'd have to venture out, see for myself, experience things out of my comfort zone, and generally have a great deal of fun. Not for myself, though. Nope. For my characters.

So, I set about coming up with a mystery series that would require such amazing research. At first, I planned a story about a single woman who inherited a large fortune and set off to travel, encountering romance and murder at every stop. But it didn't quite fit. I mean, would she have a different romance in each book? A man who followed her from book one onward? And how would the country play a role? Would it be a character, too?

That's when I decided to make my main characters a married couple. A long-married couple. I'd done the beginning of a romance in my Someday Quilts Mysteries, and the end of a romance in Kate Conway Mysteries. I'd never done the middle bit, where you love each other but geez, he can be annoying. The bit that most of us spend our lives in. That felt right. That would mean they knew each other well enough to speak the language long-term couples speak, they would trust each other, and argue with each other. What fun!

I made them college professors (he teaches World Literature but also has a PhD in Art History, she teaches International Studies). They would know a lot about the places they visited, the history, art, politics. Even while they played tourist, they would be smart tourists, which would help make the country a character. I loved that.

But what are they doing going around the world? That stumped me a for a long time. The idea sat in my head for several years as I wrote other books and moved international travel up the list of must-do activities. I took two trips to Ireland, the site of my first book in the series, Beyond the Pale, and got ideas about where I would send my two heroes (now named Hollis, aka Holly, and Finn Larsson). And one day walking through a winding street in rainy Galway, I had another idea. What if Hollis and Finn were helping a secret government agency bring down an international ring of dangerous thieves? What if they were trying to be good guys in a world where good guys and bad guys were on both sides of the legal line? What if they found themselves, quite accidentally, to be spies?

And that's when this series was really born. I knew I had characters I could write authentically about, and mysteries that would be firmly set in each location, but with an over-arching story that would carry through the whole series. I knew it could be exciting, romantic, and hopefully, thrilling.

And, I knew it would mean I could do a lot more traveling for all the books yet to come.


Beyond the Pale For college professors Hollis and Finn Larsson, a simple undercover errand becomes a deadly jaunt across Ireland in this edge-of-your-seat suspense novel from bestselling author Clare O’Donohue

It's an easy, twenty-minute job. At least, that's the pitch from Interpol to professors Hollis and Finn Larsson. Going undercover to procure a priceless rare book manuscript means an all-expenses paid trip abroad. A little danger thrown into the mix may even spice up their marriage.

Soon after landing in the Emerald Isle, they realize the job is anything but easy. Their contact is a no-show and they're left with fifty thousand euros, a death threat, and some serious questions. Ducking and dodging their way across Ireland, Hollis and Finn must hunt down the priceless manuscript and a missing agent while trying to stay one step ahead of a dangerous and unknown enemy.

Praise for Beyond the Pale:

"Plenty of thrills and hints at an exciting future for the reluctantly daring duo."
Kirkus Reviews

"O’Donohue (the Someday Quilts series) supplies plenty of fun spy business, but the believability and chemistry of Hollis and Finn as a couple, as shown in their witty dialogue, is the main appeal."
Publishers Weekly

"O'Donohue knows her Irish literature and countryside, and weaves them beautifully into an action-filled story."
—Sara Paretsky, author of the V.I. Warshawski series

"Clare O'Donohue may have invented a new category of crime fiction—the amateur spy novel—and I'm a big fan. At turns funny, real, and nail-biting, Beyond the Pale is a terrific read."
— Lori Rader-Day, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award-Winning author of The Black Hour, Little Pretty Things, and The Day I Died

"Excitement definitely comes into Hollis's life. But instead of something that could inject life into her marriage, she may just be facing someone who will end her and her husband's lives once and for all.This is Book 1 in the new World of Spies mystery series, and the author has created the perfect roller-coaster ride."
Suspense Magazine

Clare O'Donohue is the author of the Kate Conway Mysteries and the Someday Quilts Mysteries. She was a producer for the HGTV show Simply Quilts, and has worked on shows for the History Channel, truTV, Food Network, A&E, Discovery, and TLC. Visit her online at

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Congratulations to our 2018 Anthony Award Nominees

Congratulations to our Midnight Ink authors and titles nominated for 2018 Anthony Awards! Our nominees are:

Uncorking a Lie
by Nadine Nettmann
Best Paperback Original
Hollywood Homicide
by Kellye Garrett
Best First Novel

Jess Lourey, author of the Murder-by-Month mystery series and the forthcoming Mercy's Chase, was also nominated for the Best Critical/Non-Fiction Book for her Re-Write Your Life (Conari).

The Anthony Awards are among the most prestigious awards in crime fiction. Winners will be announced at this year's Bouchercon Convention.

You can view the full list of 2018 nominees here.

A Launch Party Delight

Edith Maxwell here, writing from north of Boston where it's finally spring.

Turning the Tide, my third Quaker Midwife Mystery, came out a month ago. It's a long process from when I start to write a book to when it hits bookstore shelves and readers' hands, and I'm so glad this book has finally seen the light of day.

I always like to find new ways to celebrate a book birthday, so this year I threw a party in a local brewery. Brewery Silvaticus opened in my town last fall, and is in a historic brick factory building. I thought the setting was perfect for an 1880s historical novel, exactly the period when the building was fully operational making world-renowned carriages. The owner said Wednesday night is usually their slowest, so we scheduled the event for the Wednesday after the book released.

I invited everyone I  knew, and made sure the word spread around Amesbury, my town in the northeast corner of Massachusetts. A local independent bookstore agreed to sell books. I ordered a cake, and both the brewery and I hoped for a good turnout.

And it was a huge success! See for yourself.

First, the cake. The black color is actually green.

The bookseller, who brought all three released books in the series.

Some of the crowd, which was sizable!

Me introducing the book and doing a short reading.

People bought their own drinks, we schmoozed and ate cake, and I signed books. Lots and lots of books! What could be better?

Readers: Whose book launches have you attended? What was the most unusual setting?

Monday, May 7, 2018

It's Here!

Last month I blogged about the time for publication of my newest book, Pick and Chews, approaching.  Well, it's here, and I'm delighted!

The official publication date isn't until tomorrow, but I've received copies, plus some were available at Malice Domestic.  I enjoy that conference for a lot of reasons, and one of them is getting to see my latest book on sale, and getting to sign copies for readers who've acquired them.

Pick and Chews is my fourth Barkery & Biscuits Mystery from Midnight Ink.  I love the series, and not only because it involves dogs--as does everything I'm writing these days.  But I'm especially fond of my protagonist, Carrie Kennersly, because she is bright and versatile and does a lot of good in her life.  First, she started out as a veterinary technician, where she developed some healthy dog treats.  When a friend who owned a bakery moved out of town, Carrie bought the shop and turned half into a barkery.  I admire her for that, especially since I'm not much of a cook.  And Carrie still works part-time as a vet tech.

Then, of course, since this is a cozy mystery series, she became an amateur sleuth--out of necessity, since in the first book she was a murder suspect and had to clear herself.  Since then some of her friends have suffered the same fate.  In Pick and Chews that happens to be her love interest, veterinarian Dr. Reed Storme, who's been telling her to back off from nosing around after murders for her own safety.  He's a little less vocal about that now, since he's the one who's a murder suspect.

In addition to everything else, Carrie holds adoption events in her barkery to help dogs who are residents of Mountaintop Rescue find new and loving homes.  Those events are always quite successful. 

I admire Carrie and all she does.  She's one of those characters I'd love to meet in real life.

Well, okay, yes, I invented Carrie, so of course I had to do a good job creating her background and personality and more.  And yes, I like her a lot. 

I know it's not unusual for writers to feel happy with their created characters.  Still... I particularly enjoy my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries and welcome readers to check them out and meet Carrie on the page as well.

Yay, Pick and Chews!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Chapter Wine Pairings: A Guest Post from PAIRING A DECEPTION Author Nadine Nettmann

We welcome Nadine Nettmann, author of the new Pairing a Deception (the third book in the Sommelier Mystery Series), to Midnight Ink's blog today! Here she shares some insight into the wines she pairs with the chapters of the books of the Sommelier Mystery Series.

As my third novel, Pairing a Deception, releases, it marks over one hundred wine pairings to go along with each of the chapters in the Sommelier Mystery series.

When I first started the series, I knew that wine would be a main focus of the books, but I wasn't sure how much. Don't get me wrong, I knew that my main character would be a sommelier and that Decanting a Murder would be set in Napa Valley, but it was only after I finished the novel that the idea arrived to pair each chapter with a wine.

And it made sense. Sommeliers in restaurants help pair your meal with the perfect wine to accentuate the flavors. For example, Sauvignon Blanc complements light seafood dishes while Chardonnay pairs well with rich seafood. I applied this to the chapters in my books and provided a wine that went along with each chapter for a specific reason.

Chapter One of Decanting a Murder is paired with Champagne because it's, "Ideal as an aperitif to get you started." Champagne is great to enjoy before a meal or perhaps during a cocktail hour. It starts the evening off nicely, which is why I made Champagne the very first pairing.

Sometimes the reason is clear, and sometimes it's not as obvious. In Uncorking a Lie, Chapter Sixteen is paired with a Cabernet Franc from the Sierra Foothills because, "This red wine has higher alcohol than its Cabernet Franc counterparts grown in other regions." The tension, and heat, begin to rise in this chapter.

My original goal was to pair every chapter with a wine that readers could find in their local stores, so they actually could drink along if they wanted. This is also why I didn't list specific wineries, as readers could apply their favorite wines to the pairings. But after Decanting a Murder was released, I received emails that readers loved learning about different wines in the chapters. So for the next two books, I selected wines that might be new to readers or would be fun to learn about, but still paired for specific reasons. For example, Chapter Ten in Pairing a Deception is paired with a MencĂ­a from Spain because, "This aromatic red wine holds up well and is ideal for fans of Pinot Noir."

I was also careful to not repeat a wine, so with one hundred and four chapters in the series, there are one hundred and four unique wine pairings. I hope readers enjoy the pairings as they go along, but I would recommend only drinking one or two while reading, especially if they are fast readers. After all, there are mysteries to be solved.


Uncorking a Lie Katie is on Cloud Wine at a Santa Barbara Festival…until a new mystery is uncorked.

With only a few days left until her Advanced Sommelier exam, Katie Stillwell hopes to balance studying with attending a wine and food festival in Santa Barbara.

The weekend with Detective Dean is off to a great start—until an attendee is murdered and suspicion falls on the festival emcee, Master Sommelier Hudson Wiley. Katie tries to keep her focus on the festival and her last-minute studying, but when she discovers people aren’t who they say they are, she finds herself in the middle of a tangled web where nothing, except the wine, is what it seems.

Praise for the Sommelier Mysteries:

Pairing a Deception:
"This mystery delivers a fast, sophisticated ride with just enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing until the final confrontation."—RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Uncorking a Lie:
A finalist for the 2018 Mary Higgins Clark Award

"Nearly every page sparkles with commentary about wine . . . Uncorking a Lie fills an appealing niche with its likable heroine and enticing, engaging world."
ForeWord Reviews

"A good mystery with a limited group of suspects and unlimited wine lore."
Kirkus Reviews

"A good sophomore outing for a strong new series."
Mystery Scene

Decanting a Murder:
A 2017 Anthony Award Finalist for Best First Novel

A 2016 Agatha Award Finalist for Best First Novel

A 2017 Lefty Award Finalist for Best Debut Mystery Novel

"Filled with amusing characters, snappy dialogue and delicious wine pairings, this mystery delivers a fast, sophisticated ride with just enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing until the final confrontation."
RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Nadine Nettmann, a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them. She has visited wine regions around the world including Chile, South Africa, Spain, Germany and every region in France. Nadine is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She lives in California with her husband.