Monday, January 22, 2024

Murder on the Geneva Express by JB Michaels – Guest Post

Today, I’m hosting author JB Michaels and his new book Murder on the Geneva Express as part of a blog tour by Lori Caswell, of Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

As part of the tour, I’m sharing a guest post by JB Michaels about ‘Writer’s Block and Research.’

Keep reading to check it out…

First, here’s a bit about the book

Synopsis for Murder on the Geneva Express by JB Michaels

Dead body found on Geneva Express!

In a perfect storm of misfortune, Mac O’Malley finds himself embroiled in a whodunnit that has everyone convinced HE has done it.

Mac and Millie race against time, flee from authorities both municipal and magical, and attempt to clear Mac and his good reputation from absolute incarceration.


Now for the guest post on Writer’s Block and Research!

When I get stuck it is not a matter of not knowing where to go next in the plot. I get stuck on details and solving potential plot hole issues and pacing. I honestly binge write so when I do find myself mulling over details and can't find a way out of it, the momentum of my writing suffers. As I began work on my third novel years ago and made it about 24 pages in but during those 24 pages was a timing issue.

My novels tend to use time as a tension builder, the marked crescendo of rising action, so when I had trouble with the time- frame I stopped writing until I figured it out. Alas, I had to sacrifice a time-period for the first chapter I envisioned for months beforehand. Yet in the process of embarking on this literary quest I learned that getting stuck in the mud can be gratifying if what comes out of it is a golden nugget. (Nugget is a funny word)

Every experience with writing seems worthwhile. Every obstacle when met with real-time persistence can be overcome. Since I could remember, the problem-solving element of writing invokes the sharpest critical thinking and truly immerses the author in their work. I know it does for me. So here is to getting stuck.

Sometimes getting stuck can be solved with research and learning!


A phone call to friends and family with knowledge of certain details of my story acts as part of research as does a quick search in a book or online but the fantasy comes first. The layout, storyboard, or plot diagram is laid out and then I fill it in with the information and details. I have absorbed a compendium of story materials through the years. My whole life is based around telling, researching, and writing stories. Whatever the story may be... my whole modicum of thought relates in some way to the fantastic. I can walk down the street and imagine the street suddenly jolting upwards, gravel and all, and then having to dodge out of the way of the debris and then come back to the real world and try to develop a story from the imagined catastrophe.

I try to come up with more exciting ways to communicate stories all the time. I am forever trying different ways to make something exciting, dramatic, and meaningful. Thus, fantasy comes first. It drives my curiosity to research and sometimes I don't research on purpose and wing it. Sometimes the realm of pragmatism doesn't mesh with a good fantasy.... Sometimes the truth is far more interesting. The fantasy and the research when balanced to great effect can truly complement a story thus making it worthwhile.

Some writers get too into their research, and it detracts from the story, others should have done more research both can take the reader out of the narrative and that is never good. Strike a balance.

I must say the bulk of my research is skill-related. Reading similar books to see how the author handles certain scenes counts as research as well. This I do and analyze. Most of the time I am able to pick up things rather quickly with my powers of absorption but the need to improve never wanes. I always know I can be better. I hope this blog made sense otherwise I might have to do more research on blogging.


About JB Michaels

JB Michaels, author of Murder on the Geneva Express
I have spent my life in the study of story from riveting novels to the slam-bang action-packed world of comics to the examination of film history, I have spent a lifetime learning and examining the elements that make a story incredible. This steadfast dedication has led me to write stories of my own.

I am married and with a son, I have a great love of family. I hope that you enjoy my bestselling books that mash genres from thrillers to science fiction to fantasy!

Connect with JB Michaels via Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Interview with Heather Day Gilbert, Author of Shade Grown (Barks & Beans Cafe Series)

 Today, I’m hosting a new author for me. Meet Heather Day Gilbert, author of the Barks & Beans Cozy Mystery Series.

This post is part of a blog tour by Escape with Dolly Cas into a Good Book (aka Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours).

As part of the tour, I’ve got an exclusive interview with author Heather Day Gilbert. There’s also a limited-time giveaway.

Here’s a bit about the book

Shade Grown by Heather Day Gilbert

Book 8 in The Barks & Beans Café Cozy Mystery Series

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publisher: WoodHaven Press

Publication Date: 11 December, 2023

Paperback: 190 pages

ISBN-13: 979-8987556955



Shade Grown Book Synopsis

Welcome to the Barks & Beans Café, a quaint place where folks pet shelter dogs while enjoying a cup of java...and where murder sometimes pays a visit.

During Lewisburg's popular summer home and garden tour, Macy and her brother Bo discover new aspects of their hometown's history. One of the last homes they visit features a lush commemorative shade garden marking where a Civil War soldier's bones were buried.

As Macy pauses to admire a bed of blue hostas, she glimpses a shadowy shape lying beneath the dinner-plate leaves. It turns out to be the body of famed movie star Cody Franklin, who'd purchased the garden house as a quiet country retreat.

Back at the café, Macy speaks with Cody's distraught sister, who lets slip that she's afraid her brother's killer will target her next. Macy's heart goes out to the bereaved sibling, and she agrees to speak with Cody's local acquaintances in hopes she'll uncover some helpful backstory.

But someone powerful is lurking behind the scenes, and Macy has to zoom in on the killer before everything fades to black.

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown...with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Café cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes.

Interview with author Heather Day Gilbert

Q: What inspired you to start the Barks and Beans Café series?

Heather Day Gilbert: I knew I wanted to write a coffee shop mystery series set in a West Virginia town, with brother/sister sleuths, because I love portraying good sibling relationships.

I'd also heard a lot about cat cafes, but I wondered what a dog café would be like, where people could pet/adopt shelter dogs, and the Barks & Beans Café was born!


Q: What's your favorite thing about writing the Barks and Beans Café series?

Heather Day Gilbert: The characters in this series are very real to me, and I also enjoy working in all kinds of shelter dogs into the café storylines.

I have so many readers who love my sleuth's Great Dane, Coal, but they also comment on the strong characters who tend to recur in the books.

Every time I start writing a new book, it's like stepping back into a place I'm really familiar with and hanging out with friends. Plus, I get to plot twisty mysteries, which is tons of fun. ;)


Q: When you start writing a new cozy mystery book (in a series), what's the first thing you start with? What's the writing process like for you?

Heather Day Gilbert: I start with a long synopsis that outlines the new and old characters, the critical events leading up to the murder (or murders), and the resolution.

I often have a real WV locale that's a hingepin of the setting and that lines up with the title pun (IE: the WV State Fair in FAIR TRADE, or the caverns in COLD DRIP).

I often build my plot/death/setting around the predetermined title, although my upcoming release title KNIGHT BREW was brainstormed (with the generous help of my readers!) around the setting of a Ren Faire.


Q: If your Barks & Beans Café books were to be turned into a series (or movies), who would you want to play Macy and Bo?

Heather Day Gilbert: Great question! For Bo, I've always pictured a muscled redhead like Max Martini, and for Macy, I've always pictured a strawberry blonde like Bryce Dallas Howard.

But if this series were turned into a TV series or movies, I'd just be happy if they managed to find redheads to play the leading roles, since I'm married to a redhead and I think they're fascinating. ;)


Q: You write mystery series across multiple genres (Christian romance, historical mysteries, cozies), can you write more than one mystery book at the same time or do you have to finish one mystery then turn to the other?

Heather Day Gilbert: I tend to be a linear thinker, so I generally only work on one book at a time until completion. I like to be fully invested in that world as I write, especially since I tend to write in first person POV.


Q: In your bio, you mention being an Agatha Christie fan (who isn't?). What is your favorite book by Christie?

Heather Day Gilbert: I love the Tommy/Tuppence books because they portray a healthy marriage (and I just reread BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS, which inspired one of my Barks/Beans mysteries—I won't tell you which, though. ;) Some of my faves are ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE, NEMESIS, and CROOKED HOUSE.


Q: If you could experiment with any writing genre, one you haven’t written in, what would it be?

Heather Day Gilbert: I'm actually working on writing a book in that genre right now—a domestic psychological thriller. I've always wanted to write something along the lines of the non-graphic Hitchcock films, like REAR WINDOW. Here's hoping I succeed in pulling it off!

Limited-time GIVEAWAY 

As part of the blog tour, there's a giveaway for a $10 Starbucks gift card and a softcopy of Shade Grown by Heather Day Gilbert. Use the Rafflecopter link or widget below.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Barks & Beans Café series in order:

Book 1: No Filter

Book 2: Iced Over

Book 3: Fair Trade

Book 4: Spilled Milk

Book 5: Trouble Brewing

Book 6: Cold Drip

Book 7: Roast Date

Book 8: Shade Grown

Standalone Novella: House Blend


About the author:

Heather Day Gilbert is an RWA Daphne du Maurier Award-winning author and 2-time ECPA Christy Award finalist.

She enjoys writing contemporary mysteries with unpredictable twists, much like the Agatha Christie books she read growing up.

Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren't afraid to protect those they love. Find out more at

Connect with author Heather Day Gilbert via her Website, Facebook, Twitter (X), Instagram, Goodreads, and BookBub.


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Once Upon a Murder by Samantha Larsen – Cover Reveal

My first post of 2024, and the first in several months, is a cover reveal for a new cozy mystery. Introducing Once Upon a Murder, book two in the Lady Librarian Mystery Series by Samantha Larsen.

A bit about about the book.

Once Upon a Murder is coming out on 20 February 2024.

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books 
Genre: Cozy Mystery
304 pages
Digital ASIN:

Now for the cover reveal of Once Upon a Murder



Once Upon a Murder Book Synopsis

Miss Tiffany Woodall must sleuth the slaying of a footman to clear her beloved's name in the second Lady Librarian mystery, in the vein of Deanna Raybourn and perfect for fans of Bridgerton.

1784 England. Officially hired as the librarian for the Duchess of Beaufort, Miss Tiffany Woodall is through with masquerades and murders for good. That is, until she stumbles upon the frozen dead body of former footman Mr. Bernard Coram. The speed with which her peaceful new life is upended is one for the record books: the justice of the peace immediately declares her the primary suspect in the murder.

As Tiffany hunts for the truth to clear her name, she learns that Bernard got into a fight over a woman at the local pub the night of his death–but he was also overheard blackmailing Samir. The justice of the peace arrests Samir, and Tiffany realizes that her life may have more in common with a tragic play than a light-hearted romance.

With her love locked up in jail and her own reputation on the line, Tiffany must attempt to solve the murder before the book closes on her or Samir’s life.

About the author

Samantha Larsen met her husband in a turkey sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, having tea parties, and chasing her four kids. She has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of North Texas, and the University of Reading (UK). She also writes historical romances under Samantha Hastings. Learn more at

Preorder your copy via Amazon – B&N – Books A Million – Powells Books – Bookshop.orgTarget - Walmart 

This cover reveal was created by Lori at Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours