We’re Cleaning Up with Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies Review and Giveaway

Today we need to get down and dirty and talk about a new cozy mystery-Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies.  Janis Thornton, the author of this new cozy mystery took some time to visit with me and answer some questions about her writing.   After reading about all the different projects she’s involved in, she’s a very busy writer.  No wonder she has a few dust bunnies. Don’t forget to scroll down and find the prize guy to enter for 4 ecopies of Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies.  If you are in a book club, this would be an excellent win, and if you’re not, what a great way to start one!

  1. Janis Thornton, Author

    Janis Thornton, Author

    Tell us a little about yourself.

    I am a writer who enjoys editing and polishing my rough drafts far more than creating them. For me, polishing and editing are where the fun begins—the shading, defining, highlighting, etc— and where the “real” writing gets done. After writing fiction for 25 years, I promised myself that I would find a publisher in 2014 for the cozy mystery that’s been collecting dust on my hard drive. I will be forever grateful to PageSpring Publishing for believing that my novel had potential.

    My work experience includes many writing jobs. Now, I’m a self-employed, full-time writer and personal historian, and part-time “vice president of whatever needs doing” for a couple of guys who are producing an awesome, new graphic novel series called “Forgotten City.” My previous publishing credits include two local history books (Images of America: Tipton County and Images of America: Frankfort) for Arcadia Publishing and a contribution to Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 2.

  2. What inspired the idea behind your book? Were you cleaning under the couch one day and just decided those dust bunnies would be a great plot element?Great question, Teresa. “Dust Bunnies” was inspired by the cleaning lady who regularly supplies the protagonist, newspaper editor Crystal Cropper, with news tips about the criminal element of Elmwood, the book’s fictional setting. I think Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies is a great title, which was the creation of PageSpring’s brilliant editorial team.
  3. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?Mostly the book is a product of my imagination, although some of the events were inspired by real-life events and experiences. For example, around the time I started plotting the story, a high school boy from Indiana passed away due to the heatstroke he suffered during football practice. I researched that and other such events as I developed the Lance Whitfield/Coach Baxter storylines. In addition, several of the characters—Verl, Gertie, Auggie, Mayor Head, and Darcy—were inspired by people I know. And finally, the book’s driving forces—protagonist Crystal Cropper’s news reporting and crime-solving expertise— were drawn from my own experience as a newspaper editor and avid student of forensics.
  4. Can you explain what a personal historian is and how has that helped you in creating fictional histories of your characters?A personal historian provides her interviewing, writing, editing, graphic design, and publishing skills—all or in part—to clients who wish to publish their life stories as testaments of their lives and/or a family heirloom for future generations. My roles as both personal historian and journalist, who interviews interesting people to draw out their stories, have given me indispensable insights about the way people tell their stories—the words they choose, their intonations, their emotions, their demeanor, etc. My experience as a personal historian has helped me create fictional histories as much as it has helped me realistically present the backstories I create for my characters. In addition, listening to people … really listening to them … is the best lesson I know for writing realistic dialogue.
  5. Who is your favorite character to create scenes for in the book?It’s difficult to pick a favorite character since I feel like they’re all my children. But … Crystal is the one I feel most connected to. At times, she exemplifies some facet of my actual life experience; other times she portrays attitudes, actions, knowledge, courage, and skills that I’m too shy to exhibit. Following is an excerpt from one of my favorite scenes that shows Crystal’s chutzpah after she gets caught breaking into a suspect’s garage:

    “Hey, lady, what do you think you’re doing?” I jumped about two feet off the ground and spun to face an unshaven, unkempt Bobby Markle leering at me with an expression of depraved curiosity. In his hands, he clenched a chainsaw. The sight of him standing inches from me wielding a pernicious power tool indeed made me wonder, too, what the heck did I think I was doing? Because I could think of no good way to answer him and get out of there in one piece, I assumed an I’m-a-certified-self-defense-expert-so-don’t-even-think-about-messing-with-me persona. “Oh, there you are,” I said, steeling my spine as I fixed my eyes on Bobby’s, the way Velcro balls stick to felt. “After I banged on your front door for ten minutes and no one answered, I thought I might find you back here.” Thrusting my right arm forward, I offered him my hand. “Crystal Cropper,” I said. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

  6. How can readers find your books and are there more coming in this series?Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and kobo. Because I’m so fond of Crystal Cropper and the other characters who populate Elmwood (the fictional setting for the story), I certainly do envision DB&DB as the first of a series.

My Review  4 STARS

Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies centers around the adventures of Crystal Cropper, editor of the town newspaper in Elmwood, Indiana. When Crystal finds her BFF Gertie near death, she knows she must use her skills to find her attacker.    Throw in a beloved football coach who has a history of winning teams at any cost and all of the Thornton’s small-town characters and you have a cozy mystery at it’s finest! .





Click on the PRIZE GUY to enter a givewaway for 4 free ecopies of Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies!


Cozy Wednesday Guest Post-News on My Next Cozy Mystery!

cozy-wednesday-2013-640I am the Cozy Wednesday guest post over at Escape with Dollycas today!  Find out about my writing process, my favorite characters, what actor I would love to play Rocky and my next book!  There is a cover reveal and a little about my upcoming tour for MURDER FOR A RAINY DAY.  Go to Cozy Wednesday to read more.  And one more thing–I reveal the first information about my next series….

4 Star Review of Burnout From InD’Tale Magazine

I was so excited that InD’Tale Magazine reviewed BURNOUT!  Here is part of the review.


Pecan Bayou Series #5

Pecan Bayou Series #5


…A fun new mystery has arrived in the fifth book in the “Pecan Bayou Mystery Series”.   Regardless of whether the reader has read the previous books, this is a great read.  The plot is smooth and the characters develop well.  The office fire is slowly uncovered leaving the reader guessing until the last moment.  The drama at home also gives the story some depth as it is not just the story of a lone detective only on the hunt, but an amateur detective and mother balancing life.  Overall, an excellent installment in the series.  Mystery lovers- take note!

Sarah E. Bradley

In’Dtale Magazine




If you are an Indie writer or just a lover of romances and mysteries, this is an excellent free publication.



A Dash of Murder Only 99 Cents During October

Pecan Bayou Series #1

Pecan Bayou Series #1

October is upon us, and I thought because I have a book that takes place over Halloween why not make it 99 cents?

Here’s the deal.  Click on the banner below and it will take you to my Smashwords page where you can download the book-just make sure you use the coupon code at the checkout.  This is my first book in the Pecan Bayou Series.


A Mystery for Ghost Hunters!
When Betsy’s Aunt Maggie wants to drag her along on a ghost hunting excursion at the local abandoned tuberculosis hospital she isn’t sure if she quite believes in ghosts. When she comes upon a fresh spirit in the form of a body, she starts to rethink about what really is haunting the hospital.



I also have a list of discussion questions to be used with book clubs.  If your club does use the book-I would love to hear about it!


The book will be on sale for the entire month of October.




Learning About Susan Wittig Albert

This last Sunday I had the opportunity to  hear Susan Wittig Albert speak at my local bookstore.  Being a cozy writer in Texas, I was tickled to get to see the woman  I consider to be THE cozy writer of Texas.  She writes the China Bayles Series, as well as the Darling Dahlias.  I’ve read one of the China Bayle’s books and am really intrigued by her other series being set in Alabama.  I lived in Alabama for a short time after I graduated from college, excuse me–lower Alabama.  It is fertile ground for small towns and cozy mystery.

The author was there with her husband, Bill Albert who is her co-writer for the pseudonym Robin Paige.   Here are some interesting facts I learned about Susan.

This is her latest mystery in the Darling Dahlias Series.  Think about it the 1930's,the depression, and silver dollar bush?

This is her latest mystery in the Darling Dahlias Series. Think about it– the 1930’s,the depression, and a silver dollar bush?

1.  She started out writing young adult fiction.  She wanted to grow up to be Nancy Drew or Carolyn Keene, and she actually became of the many Carolyn Keene writers.  Her husband wrote Hardy Boys novels.

2.  She is fascinated by history.  Her Darling Dahlias series is set in the 1930’s in Alabama.  I loved listening to her talk about history and could almost hear it weaving into a story in her head.  She is working on a book about Eleanor Roosevelt and her connection to an AP reporter.

3.  She didn’t start writing until midlife.  You know I love this fact, because it was the same for me.  I think it takes that long  to figure out if you really want to do something you’re going to have to work at it.  Well, that and it’s a lot easier to write when you’re not trying to produce the great American novel in the span of a toddler’s nap.

When I was there I picked up her China Bayles Book of Days which Susan says is all the research that didn’t get into the books.  I use this type of book for journaling and love working in the garden, so I’m know I will enjoy this collection.  Watch out for an herbal poisoning somewhere in my literary future :)

Oh, and one more thing.  She has written a book about Rose Wilder and her collaboration with her mother.  It is self-published right now, but I think there is a publisher in the wings.  If you loved the Little House books–it’s a must read.  Here is some of the description:

A Wilder Rose tells the surprising true story of the often strained collaboration that produced the Little House books—a collaboration that Rose and her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, concealed from their agent, editors, reviewers, and readers. Acclaimed author Susan Wittig Albert follows the clues that take us straight to the heart of this fascinating literary mystery.


If you ever get a chance to hear a writer talk about his or her work, don’t pass it up.  Hearing about someone else’s creative process, publishing experiences, and research is fascinating and inspiring.

Lost Legacy Author Annette Dashofy Interview, Review and Giveaway!

Annete Dashofy is visiting today  to talk about her new book Lost Legacy.  She was kind enough to answer some questions about her writing process and her book!  Don’t forget to find my prize guy for her Raffle Copter Giveaway!

Tell us a little about yourself.  

Annette Dashofy-small file

Thanks so much for having me here today, Teresa. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but became serious about being published about ten years ago. My first publication credits were in nonfiction, writing for magazines, especially Pennsylvania Magazine. I also wrote a number of short stories along with my long fiction. While I have a few novel-length manuscripts hidden in my closet that should never see the light of day again, my first novel to be published was CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE (Henery Press, March 2014), featuring paramedic/deputy coroner Zoe Chambers. LOST LEGACY is the second in that series. As for other jobs, I’ve had quite a few, including a stint as an EMT on our local ambulance service, which serves as fodder for the stories. Right now though, besides writing, my only other real job is teaching yoga privately. I have two students (no, I’m not seeking new students) who have been with me for probably 15 years. And I take care of my 94-year-old mom, although thankfully, she’s in terrific shape.

What inspired the idea behind your book?

When I was a kid, my mom told a story about her two uncles who died under mysterious circumstances at nearly the same time in their barn. As she told it, foul play was definitely involved. (Cue the spooky music.) A few years back, I decided to do some investigating with thoughts of writing about it. What I discovered was there was NOTHING suspicious about the deaths. In fact, the brothers died 10 years apart. I was so disappointed. My one good bit of family folklore never really happened! However, being a mystery writer, I decided to take my mom’s completely fictional story and flesh it out. Hence, in LOST LEGACY, a modern day suicide (or is it?) has ties to a series of mysterious deaths tracing back over several decades, including the murder/suicide of a pair of brothers—Zoe’s great-uncles.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? When you were working as an EMT, did you start to see potential plotlines for your writing?

A little of both. Besides that story of my great-uncles, LOST LEGACY also tells the story of Pete Adams’ dad who comes to visit for a while. Harry Adams suffers from Alzheimer’s, as did my father. While I stress that Harry is NOT my dad, I did borrow a lot of Dad’s idiosyncrasies for the character. Back when I was working as an EMT, I honestly wasn’t thinking about someday writing about it. If I had, I’d have taken better notes!

Who is your favorite character to create scenes for in the book?

Harry Adams was absolutely my favorite character to write in LOST LEGACY. I was concerned about making him “real.” Alzheimer’s is a horrible, horrible disease and there isn’t anything entertaining about it. I didn’t want Harry to be depressing, even though so much about his illness is. However, he took over the page and stole every scene he was in.

Tell us about your short stories and where we can find them.

My short mysteries have been published in Spinetingler Magazine, Mysterical-e Magazine, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology, and Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales (an anthology put together by my Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime). The two anthologies are available in print and e-book formats through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The others can probably still be found in the archives of Spinetingler and Mysterical-e. One of those short stories, “A Signature in Blood,” actually introduces the characters of Pete and Zoe and was nominated in 2007 for a Derringer Award. I’m noodling with the idea of re-releasing it in e-book format as a “gift” for my Pete and Zoe fans. Stay tuned. And my story “Sweet Deadly Lies” in Lucky Charms focuses on Detective Wayne Baronick from the Zoe Chambers books.

How can readers find your books and are there more coming in this series?

Both books are available at bookstores everywhere. If your bookstore doesn’t stock them, they should be able to order them. They’re also available in all e-book formats. You can order and request a signed copy through Mystery Lovers Bookshop (www.mysterylovers.com). Yes, there are more Zoe Chambers mysteries coming. The third in the series, BRIDGES BURNED, is scheduled to be released in April 2015.

Click on me to enter to win a signed copy of Lost Legacy!

Click on me to enter to win a signed copy of Lost Legacy!


On a sultry summer afternoon, Paramedic Zoe Chambers responds to a call and finds a farmer’s body hanging from the rafters of his hay barn. What first appears to be a suicide quickly becomes something sinister when Zoe links the victim to a pair of deaths forty-five years earlier. Her attempts to wheedle information from her mother and stepfather hit a brick wall of deception, one that brings into question everything Zoe knows about her late father, who died in a car crash when she was eight. Or did he?

Police Chief Pete Adams fears Zoe’s inquiries are setting her up for deeper heartbreak and putting her in danger. As Zoe and Pete inch closer to the truth, they discover that a missing gun links the crimes which span more than four decades. But the killer isn’t done. Two more Vance Township residents fall victim to the same gun, and when tragedy strikes too close to home, Zoe realizes her family is in the crosshairs.


Zoe Chambers is an EMT in a small town in Pennsylvania. In the very first scene Dashofy gets your attention with a suicide by hanging, and then just keeps the story rolling with strong characters and excellent plot complete with some beautifully written wrong paths for the reader to stumble down. I loved Zoe and Pete’s relationship, but I also loved the sheer selfishness of Zoe’s mother and the stubbornness of the local farmers. Murder? Who cares? We have hay to bring in from the fields! As the story unfolds, the reader finds this isn’t the first hanging in this barn in Vance Township, and Zoe just happens to be connected to it. Great storytelling! Now I have to go back and read the first book in the series.  5 STARS