Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Bloggers

Please join me in welcoming the following three bloggers to Sleuths and Suspects! 

Amanda Holland

The first mystery Amanda fell in love with was Scooby Doo. It wasn't long before she discovered her little hometown library's collection of Trixie Beldin, Nancy Drew, and The Three Investigators, and she fell more in love with every novel she read. She can't remember a time when she didn't love a good mystery.

Fast forward a few years: Now she’s a pastor's wife, registered dental hygienist, ACFW member, and mom to two boys and a Yorkie. She still loves getting lost in a good mystery novel or crime show. Her favorite authors include Ted Dekker, Steven James, Sibella Giorello, and J. Mark Bertrand. She also enjoys cooking, spending time at the gun range, and running. 

Two years ago, she started seriously pursuing her lifelong dream of writing. Now she blogs at Grace In Our Moments ( and writes fiction. Her second short story will be published later this month in Splickety magazine, and she’s finishing her first mystery novel.

Kelly Bridgewater

K. (Kelly) L. Bridgewater is an active member of My Book Therapy and ACFW. Two of her short stories, Letting Go and Moving On, have been published. She finished her Bachelor and Masters degree in English at Indiana State University. She has completed two complete manuscripts, Missing and Deadly Hunt, which she hopes one day will be published. Currently, she's working on a three part trilogy that she's in the process of plotting and can't wait to introduce Devin Sanders and Chloe Walker to the world. She proofreads her friends' manuscripts to help them with the writing process. Besides here, she also blogs on and Feel free to check them out. She resides in Western Indiana with her husband, their three sons, and their two dogs.

Marcy Dyer

Marcy G. Dyer is a Registered Nurse and suspense author. Like so many other writers, she began writing at a very young age, but never took herself seriously as a “real” writer until about ten years ago when she began taking courses and learning the craft of writing. She currently has two novels from the Desert Winds Series available:  Down & Out and Out for Blood.

Marcy is an alumnus of the Christian Writer’s Guild and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She hosts a small critique group for ACFW and is involved in two other critique groups. For anyone seriously interested in becoming an author, she recommends a strong, diverse critique group to help authors hone crafts.

In addition to her personal website (, Marcy hosts a blog to help those with autoimmune diseases. While many autoimmune diseases aren’t visible, they still cause chronic pain and disability. If you would like more information, please visit

As followers of Jesus Christ, Marcy and her family are active members of Crossroads Fellowship in Odessa, Texas. Sermons are carried live via the web – at the following times on Sundays – 9:30 & 11:00 and 5:00 & 7:00 central time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Heather Gilbert

This is the second time I've had the privilege to interview author Heather Gilbert. 

Heather Gilbert

Your first book, God’s Daughter, was a historical novel about Vikings. Your second book, Miranda Warning, is a mystery novel. How hard is it for you to switch between writing different genres? Do you prefer one genre over the other?

Actually, with my mystery, I feel I'm returning to my earlier writing "roots." The first book I completed was a contemporary paranormal novel set in West Virginia, and Miranda Warning is also contemporary, set in West Virginia, with paranormal elements.

God's Daughter - Viking woman shown on front

God's Daughter required hours of research and was very labor-intensive, as I wanted to be as accurate as possible (tricky when you're writing about AD 1000-ish!). And yet I also wanted to tell a gripping, believable story. So I had to weave together many strands, not to mention sticking primarily to words that I knew were used in Old Norse and staying very close to the Icelandic Saga accounts of the stories.

With this Murder in the Mountains series, I get excited every time I think about writing it. Yes, I love my Vikings, and I feel those stories need to be told. But contemporary fits my writer "voice" a bit better, I believe.

It's not too hard to switch genres for me though, because the first thing I'm looking for in every book is my characters. What are they like, what drives them, and what event is going to or already HAS change their lives forever?  I feel like once I know that, I can roll. The mysteries definitely flow faster. But I love all my characters...even the ones who have to die...

Miranda Warning - woman with short hair shown on front

Do you set aside a certain amount of time each day that you devote to writing your novels?

I wish! I am working on a better schedule for this year. Otherwise I'm going to burn out completely. As an indie, I spend hours marketing, so I really have to step away from that to actually write. And I homeschool. So my days are pretty full.

What was the most interesting thing you learned while conducting research for this novel?

One thing I enjoyed hearing about was how certain West Virginia towns get their names. Many are corruptions of two words. Tess Spencer, my heroine, lives in fictional "Buckneck," WV. In my second mystery (Trial by Twelve), we'll get more of the background behind that town name. But since I live in this state, the visual effects are very real and often pulled from stuff I've seen or experienced.

Who are some of your favorite authors?                           

I love classics like George Eliot or Thomas Hardy, because they draw such rich characters. As far as mysteries, I grew up with Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew (you'll find allusions to Nancy Drew in Miranda Warning), and Agatha Christie. Lately, I found Sue Grafton's alphabet series. It has some unsavory elements/language, but I'm pretty hooked. I like her tough detective, Kinsey Millhone.

Thanks for having me visit today!

Author Bio:

Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Seventeen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as eleven years spent homeschooling. Heather regularly posts on Novel Rocket about self-publishing.

You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert--Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Her Viking novel, God's Daughter, is an Amazon bestseller. You can find it on Amazon and Her Appalachian mystery, Miranda Warning, releases June 20th. 

To be entered in an ebook giveaway to win a copy of Miranda Warning:
(1) Leave a comment on this post. 
(2) Leave your email address. You may spell it out if necessary.

A winner will be announced on July 3rd!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review of Miranda Warning by Heather Gilbert

Recently, I read Miranda Warning by author Heather Gilbert. This is Heather’s second book. Her first book was a Viking historical, God’s Daughter.

Miranda Warning - woman with short dark hair shown on front

Miranda Warning is a mystery/suspense novel set in West Virginia; it’s the first in Gilbert’s A Murder in the Mountains series.

Tess Spencer, a young married woman, befriends an elderly woman named Miranda. When Miranda receives a written warning presumably from a dead woman named Rose, Tess takes it seriously and begins to investigate, delving deeper into the past. The novel’s chapters alternate between two points of view: Tess (first person, present) and Rose (third person, past), with the stories diverging and syncing up in the present at the end of the book.

Gilbert has spent her time crafting and editing this story; her writing is very poetic, descriptive, and unique. The novel was well written and included several twists and turns, and the characters were well developed. If you love a good mystery, this is for you. 

Something's still wrong--the same thing that was wrong forty years ago. A malignancy, a tumor, slowly growing in someone's heart. A conscience that's seared.

Please note that I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway with Nancy Mehl

by Jeff Reynolds


For those unaware, I'm officially a former ACFW member, due 100% to time and direction I'm heading overall, 0% due to the organization. One thing I really enjoyed about my three years there was being part of the suspense loop, hosted by author Nancy Mehl. Nancy, who happens to be my victim ... er, interviewee this month, has just released her eighteeneth book which we'll give away (see below).

This is not Nancy's first visit to Sleuths and Suspects; she had the privilege of being interviewed by Jackie Layton last year. If you want to go back and read Jackie's good interview, it's at this link:

Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome back to Sleuths and Suspects, Nancy. In your previous visit, you mentioned you started writing in your forties. What did you do prior to then, and how does that background relate to your writing?

Nancy Mehl: 
Before that, I worked as an Underwriting Director for a Christian radio station. I edited the station’s newsletter, so that helped some. To be honest, the thing that contributed the most to my writing was all the reading I did. I started reading as a child, always having a book nearby. I could read four or five books at a time. I’d even stay up all night and read with a flashlight under the covers!

JR:  My favorite movie line of all time -- since I was a kid -- is the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz saying, "Some people go both ways." I think you can relate to another line from the same movie: When Dorothy tells Toto "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." Would you like to tell us about your move to Misery ... I mean Missouri? What do you like about the new locale and what do you miss? And do you happen to have a dog named Toto?

  No dog named Toto, but I have a Puggle named Watson.  LOL! We loved our home in Wichita and left behind wonderful friends that I miss. Our decision to move was because we wanted to be near our son, our daughter-in-law, and our grandson. The things I love here? Being near our family, of course. I also adore the scenery here. The house we’re renting backs up to trees and we have a lot of visitors. Birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer – and we even spotted a fox! Now that we’ve experienced this, we know it’s what we’ll look for when we’re ready to buy a house. I haven’t regretted this move for even a second. 
JR:  Besides having a new state of residence (the state I most frequently reside in is Confusion), you have started a new series. Would you like to tell us about your latest release?

NM:  Gathering Shadows is about Wynter Evans who is a promising young reporter for a television station in St. Louis. But even a bright future doesn’t take away her pain over the disappearance of her brother nine years ago. So when she stumbles across a photograph of a boy with an eerie resemblance to him, she can’t pass up the chance to track him down. With research for work as her cover, she sets out with one of the station’s photogs for the place where the picture was taken: the town of Sanctuary.

Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets the town’s handsome young mayor, Rueben King, and together they begin to uncover long held secrets that could tear the small town apart and change everything Wynter thought she knew about her life. As the truth of her family’s past hides in the shadows, it’s clear someone will stop at nothing to keep the answers she’s searching for hidden forever—even if the cost is Wynter’s very life.

JR:  I believe this new set of stories is your fourth series. Could you tell us about the other series, and the connections between your current books and your previous work?

Actually, Finding Sanctuary is my fifth series! The first two (Ivy Towers and Curl Up and Dye) were cozy mysteries. They have a very direct connection to my other two Mennonite-themed series (Harmony and The Road to Kingdom) because they’re all set in small towns. The charm and hometown theme continues through each and every series. 

JR:  Last visit, you mentioned you like writing both mystery and suspense. One book I read -- Writing Killer Fiction: The Funhouse of Mystery and the Roller Coaster of Suspense by Carolyn Wheat -- pointed out that the two genres are completely different and that true hybrids are rare. Are you a mystery writer who works some suspense in your tales, or are you a suspense writer that includes a mystery? And while you're at it, are you more of an outliner, or are you a blank pager?

  Wow. Some great questions. First of all, I have to disagree about the difference between suspense and mystery. Most suspense contains mystery. With suspense we may actually know who the bad guy is from the beginning (think Die Hard), but the mystery lies in how the hero will overcome evil. Some suspense (think Shutter Island) has a twist at the end. Mystery usually ends the same way. The differences? Suspense uses events to propel the plot forward while mystery uses clues. I combine clues and events to craft my plot. Although an event is used to present the climax (and solution), I also sprinkle clues throughout the story. That way mystery fans have the chance to figure out what’s going on before I reveal the solution.

As far as your question about what kind of writer I am, I would have to say that I’m a mystery writer who works suspense into my novels.

I try to outline, but so far, I’ve never followed one single outline yet. My characters tell me where we need to go, and twists in the plot present themselves that are usually much better than my previous ideas. I always go with my characters and the inspiration that comes as I write.

JR:  Even though there are Mennonite themes in your book, you're not Mennonite yourself. (Maybe a Womennonite?) What have you learned about that denomination? How does it compare with your upbringing/home church, and how has it affected your Christian life/philosophy?

  No, I’m not Mennonite. Even when writing about Old Order or Conservative Mennonites, I create characters that choose to dress conservatively and wear prayer coverings because they want to. Not because it’s the right thing to do or because it’s some kind of regulation. I just can’t support that belief, nor can I encourage it in my writing. We are under grace, not law. I can’t, and won’t, write anything that encourages bringing back regulations and laws when Jesus gave his life to bring us into His wonderful grace.

As far as learning from the Mennonite faith, my answer is a resounding yes. When researching their beliefs of non-resistance (some call it pacifism), I saw some things that readjusted my thinking. I’ve always been against the death penalty. I know many good Christian people disagree with me, but personally I can’t understand how we can support the law (that we’re free from), and say killing is okay when Jesus told us to forgive. Reading about the Mennonite beliefs that emphasize turning the other cheek reinforced my opinion about this teaching.

JR:  You have had the privilege of hosting the Suspense loop for the ACFW. What have you most enjoyed about that? How has it helped your writing and other areas in your life?

I like the contact with other suspense writers, but I would like to get more conversations going. Maybe we’re all too busy writing. And that’s a good thing! 

JR:  On your latest blog, you have pictures of some birds (I also love birds, especially Cardinals, Blue Jays, Laughing Kookaburras and Tawny Frogmouths -- the former two appear at our feeder; we need to go to the zoo for the others). Besides birdwatching, what hobbies do you have? How do they overlap with your writing?

  I love finding antiques, and I collect signed books. Right now, since we’re renting, most of my things are in storage. When we finally buy a house, all my books and collectibles will get to come home! I also enjoy several good TV shows. After an entire day of writing, it’s hard for me to read more words so TV relaxes me and gives my mind some rest. My favorites are Dr. Who, Castle, The Black List, 24, and The Middle. 

JR:  Thank you for your time, Nancy. How can we keep in touch with you, your writing, etc?

  My Web site is: I also have a newsletter that is located at: and work with several other authors on a great blog called The Suspense Sister at: I’m very active on Facebook with a personal page and a Fan Page. I love to making new friends, so everyone’s welcome!

Thanks for allowing me to be a part of Sleuths and Suspects, Jeff. God bless you!

Jeff to the readers: Now is the chance to win a copy of Gathering Shadows. Here is the way to do it:

  1. Leave a comment.
  2. Include your e-mail address (e.g. auntdotkahm(at)ant(dot)com)
  3. A question to answer: Have you moved from one state to another, and how has that impacted your life? (Or are you like me, spending you life in the state of confusion?)