by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of Don’t Judge a Book by Its Hover: Case 1 Bookshop Con by Amy McNulty, along with an interesting interview with Amy. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook or print copy of the book and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Hover Case 1 Bookshop Con (Witchy Expo Services Mystery) By Amy McNulty
Lots of Magic and a Bit of Murder!
Bernadette Toothaker is the daughter of the founder of Cauldron Cove, a most renowned witch, and despite being the eldest at almost three centuries old, is the general manager of the successful Witchy Expo Service. Together with her granddaughter Nimue, they create the most unique, often whimsical, conventions offering lots of magical elements, however humans tend to be their biggest clientele since witches and warlocks aren’t all that interested in some of the flash. Nimue had returned to Cauldron Cove about twelve years ago after a failed eight-year attempt to live in the human world which resulted in a failed marriage to human Greg Taylor. She has a good relationship with her ex and her daughter Willow, who, now nineteen, is attending a human college. But, like any mother/daughter dynamic, there can be issues…like finding it a challenge using a smartphone, casting a Communication Charm without prior notice, and being compared to the human father. Typical for witches and warlocks is their familiars, and for Nimue, it is Gowdie, a blue-scaled miniature dragon with a good sense of smell and with whom she can telepathically communicate. Navigating the two worlds can be a complicated matter.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Hover earns 5/5 Charming Charms…Entertaining Fun!
Bernadette has decided to retire after a hundred and twelve years, no fuss, no fan fare, no warning. She announced that Nimue will be taking over as Witchy ExS general manager, but…not alone. She will have an official “co-manager,” someone who is complicated to work with…the warlock Soren/Ren Southern is literally two personalities in one. Soren is affable and easy going, but Ren is snarky and nit picky. Bernadette’s last remark, “Work together or you’ll both be out of a job,” is one Nimue takes to heart and for the good of the business and the magical community she’ll try to work with Ren making the upcoming Bookshop Con a success. So, despite conflicts, arguments, and Ren forcing his authority, everything is set to go…until a public kerfuffle, accusations of bribery, professional animosity, and one author found dead! Problem? Yes, the death, of course is very problematic, but the conference can’t be stopped without damaging consequences, so uncovering the truth behind the death will be fraught with roadblocks and peril.
Swoosh! Amy McNulty has created a fascinating world where magic lives out in the open, casting charms has interesting “once a day” guidelines, the connection to the conventions and magic is key to the safety of the town, and a unique multiple personality warlock adds quite the drama. There’s more magic, charm casting, and witchy antics than I usually like in my cozies, but it works well here and is quite entertaining. Imagine how different the last book faire you attended would be with hovering books and teleportation avenues. The drama entangles an assortment of authors all with varying personalities and views on a world of magic along with fans who are fanatic and friends and foes among the witch community. The dual persona of Soren/Ren was a fascinating element with an easy to follow transformation between the characters. There’s a fascinating and complex history between Nimue and Soren which was slowly revealed along with other dynamics that create an entertaining fun!
Alert! Case 2: Comic Hero Con: It’s a Nerd! Witch Is Slain! of Amy McNulty’s Witchy Expo Services Mysteries is currently on Amazon Preorder HERE. Nimue Toothaker is slowly getting used to her recent promotion to co-Head Witch General Manager of Witchy Expo Services and partnering with a dual-personality warlock. Their newest project, Comic Hero Con, will bring in from all around the world comic book fans and comic hero film buffs, but as much as Nimue tries, things just don’t go smoothly.
Be a Big Amy McNulty Fan!
Along with this new cozy Witchy Expo Series, Amy McNulty has penned two other series both with their own magic: the five-book cozy mystery A Spooky Games Club Mystery series and the young adult five-book series Blood, Bloom, & Water. Check out the Amazon links.
Interview with Amy McNulty:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Amy: The long answer is almost as soon as I knew how to write, I tried to write stories. I “published” books for my elementary school’s library by writing and drawing on lined paper and tying the pages together. However, I didn’t finally finish a serious novel until 2012.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Amy: My first published novel was Nobody’s Goddess, Book One in The Never Veil trilogy, which originally came out in April 2015 but was re-released in late 2016. It’s a YA romantic fantasy in the vein of Beauty and the Beast. My blurb explains it best:
In a village of masked men, each man is compelled to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. A man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love – and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.
Seventeen-year-old Noll’s childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her. She is in fact the goddess of the mysterious lord of the village, a man who refuses to let Noll have her right as a woman to spurn him. Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman and the magic of man. The stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death – and neither Noll nor the veiled lord is willing to lose!
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Amy: No, I’m fairly new to the genre. I’ve always had a soft spot for mysteries, but I wasn’t sure I was going to write any until I jumped in last year with the A Spooky Games Club Mystery Series. (I’m also now releasing Witchy Expo Services Mysteries books.) I started in YA, particularly fantasy and urban fantasy, and I also write adult romance (contemporary and fantasy/urban fantasy) under a couple of different pen names. (Joy Penny and Lina Jubilee.)
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Amy: It’s been a few years – even before the pandemic – but I used to love going to conventions. I love writing witchy mysteries, so I thought I could make a “gimmick” of the series be that the witches in my story put on conventions, but that there’s always a mystery to solve. I came up with my oldest heroine yet (though she’s only 40) since that’s the closest any of my main characters have been to my age. She’s career-driven, but she knows how to have fun, too. And she has an adorable dragon familiar.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?
Amy: I always hope that readers will be entertained. None of my stories are meant to be deep or taught in classes or anything. (Though I was surprised to learn a couple of my YA have been used in class curriculums!) I just want readers to get lost in the stories.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?
Amy: I don’t always stick to it, but I work best writing daily until I’m finished with a draft and then taking a long break between drafts. (There’s always plenty of revising and marketing to do anyway.) I’m a freelance editor otherwise, so I’m able to design my own workday unless I’m scrambling to meet a deadline.
KRL: What is your ideal time to write?
Amy: I tend to write best in the late mornings and early afternoons.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Amy: I almost always write an outline because I’ve gotten burned by not having one before and getting stuck in a couple of drafts. However, I also almost always go off the outline quite a bit before the end. It’s just nice to have that template to follow if I get stuck. With my mysteries, I even find myself coming up with new twists and turns and having to go back in the draft to drop clues earlier in the story.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Amy: It was a lot of waiting for not a lot of pay-off. I got an agent with Nobody’s Goddess, my first completed novel, just three months after I finished it. We went on “submission” and I even got a revise and resubmit from a big publisher, but that didn’t go anywhere in the end. We found a home for it with an independent publisher a year and a half later, but that also ended with me parting ways with the publisher after a year. Since then, I’ve become an indie author.
I publish my books through a co-op publisher, which is a group of authors coming together to help promote each other’s works under the same banner and making sure we all release quality books. Now I can publish what I want when I want, and I’m so much more productive than I was back when I was just waiting and waiting on publishers to get back to me. It’s more profitable for me to self-publish, too.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Amy: Well, with that revise and resubmit that didn’t end up in acquisition, I did actually change a big chunk of the book, even adding new characters. To this day, those changes stuck, so at least I have that editor to thank for spurring me to flesh out my story even more!
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Amy: I have done a few book signings before the pandemic, but I’ve never had someone who was already a reader of my work show up, likely because a lot of the events have been local. I was able to sign at BookCon in both NYC and Chicago a few years ago, which was a lot of fun. Nothing really story-worthy happened, though. Some nice people took a chance on my books, and I hope they wound up liking them!
KRL: What are your future writing goals?
Amy: I always want to write more books, sell more books, and find more readers! I try to put out at least two books a year, if not more. Right now, I’m focusing on writing serialized fiction for Kindle Vella under one of my “romance” pen-names, but I do have two more cozy mysteries up scheduled for 2022, with more on the way after that. Ideally, Witchy Expo Services Mysteries will be at least three books and A Spooky Games Club Mystery could be as many as twelve!
KRL: Who are your writing heroes?
Amy: Jane Austen. Her prose is so quotable and amusing, and I could read/watch her stories interpreted by other creatives a dozen times over.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Amy: Nothing much in advance, but if something comes up during the story that I need to learn more about, an internet search is the extent of what I need to know, typically.
KRL: What do you like to read?
Amy: I spend most of my time reading my editing clients’ novels, so I have less time to read for fun. I often reach for YA, particularly fantasy and dystopian, as my comfort books, but I love romance and mystery, too. More often than any of that, though, I read manga.
KRL: Yay! I have just recently started reading manga. What are your favorite TV shows or movies?
Amy: Too many to list! I guess my favorite all-time TV show is Breaking Bad and my favorite all-time movie is Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, but I love superhero shows and movies more than any other genre. My favorite mystery series is Monk, but I love historical dramas and mysteries, too.
KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Amy: Just keep writing! Don’t push yourself, because you don’t have to write every single day, but practice as often as you can. Over time, you’ll get better and better at it.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Amy: That I love escape rooms! Well, maybe that wouldn’t be surprising since one of my mystery books is titled Enchantments and Escape Rooms, but my friends and I started playing them in 2018, and we got so hooked! We took a long break during the earliest part of pandemic, but we’ve probably done around twenty-five different rooms.
KRL: Do you have any pets?
Amy: Yes! I have a three-year-old “tortie” cat named Jasmine. She’s so cute and rambunctious. I adopted her after I lost my tuxedo cat, Luna. I had Luna almost her whole life (thirteen years), and she was the sweetest cat.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
Amy: Thanks for having me on the site! I appreciate the opportunity. I hope your readers looking for some fun game – and convention-themed witchy mysteries will give my cozy mysteries a chance!
KRL: Thank you for joining us! Where can people find you online?
Amy McNulty is an editor and author of books that run the gamut from YA speculative fiction to contemporary romance. A lifelong fiction fanatic, she fangirls over books, anime, manga, comics, movies, games, and TV shows from her home state of Wisconsin. When not editing her clients’ novels, she’s busy fulfilling her dream by crafting fantastical worlds of her own.
To enter to win an ebook or print copy of Don’t Judge a Book by Its Hover, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “hover,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 15, 2022. Only US entries and you must be at least 18 to enter. If entering via email and you want a print copy please include your mailing address. BE SURE TO STATE IF YOU WANT WANT OR EBOOK. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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