Shards of Murder by Cheryl Hollon: Review/Interview/Giveaway

Feb 27, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

This week we have a review of Shards of Murder by Cheryl Hollon, along with an interesting interview with Cheryl. Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of the book, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore.

Shards of Murder by Cheryl Hollon
Review by Sandra Murphy

Savannah Webb took over her dad’s glass shop after his murder. Now she’s been tapped to take his spot as judge for the Spinnaker Arts Festival in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, in the glass division. She’s nervous that she won’t do as good as job as he did, but her mentor, Keith, who has two students entered in the show, assures her it will be okay.

It’s odd the students were in a dead-end aisle where most people don’t bother to look, but once word got around about the spectacular displays, the area was crowded with lookers. Savannah likes both but decides one just has more pizazz than the other. book

It’s a surprise when the winner is announced, but the girl, Megan, doesn’t come forward to claim her $25,000 prize money. In fact, her booth has been packed up, and there’s no sign of her anywhere—until Savannah walks her dog Rooney past the show area and finds Megan’s body. Based on the look of things, Megan’s been whacked with some of her own glasswork. She’s half in the water, and the tide is going out. Savannah manages to call for help, but when the EMT slips and crashes into her, she has to let go of the body in order to keep Rooney afloat. Megan’s body doesn’t go far but surely evidence was lost from being in the water.

Since Savannah was one of the last people seen talking to Megan, who was not in a good mood, and she found the body, Savannah falls under suspicion herself. What could it hurt to ask a few questions?

Shop assistants Amanda and Jacob, his assistance dog Susie the Beagle, along with Edward from down the street, are ready and willing to help, as is Keith. Detective Parker says he has to leave her on the suspect list but doesn’t really consider her a likely murderer. The bumbling Officer Boulli is back on the force, trying to work his way into the good graces of Detective Parker, but that’s not going to happen. In the meantime, how much damage can Boulli do to the case? Answer—a lot!

There are a number of other suspects like the second place winner, a missing assistant, a disgruntled customer, someone after Megan’s glass techniques, and there are discrepancies about the entries and fees for the Festival. Savannah’s team has their work cut out for them.

Savannah, Amanda, Jacob, Edward, and the elderly twins who attend every glass class are great characters. There’s information about fusing glass scattered throughout the book without distracting from the mystery. Rooney the puppy and Susie the Beagle add a lot of fun and look like they’ll become good friends. I did figure out the murderer but not until near the end of the book, so it wasn’t too easy—the motive, I only had an inkling of that before the reveal. For an extra treat, we get to meet Edward’s parents at the end of the book.

Pane and Suffering was the first book in A Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series. Look for a glossary of terms about fused glass, instructions about fusing, and how to use scrap glass to make jewelry at the back of the book. Coming in July, 2016, Cracked to Death.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra’s short stories on UnTreed Reads including her newest, “Arthur”, included in the anthology titled, Flash and Bang, available now.

Interview with Cheryl Hollon:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Cheryl: I’ve been tackling mysteries for about ten years now. I attended my first Malice Domestic in DC in 2007 and was thrilled to meet both authors and fans. I remember imagining myself up there on a panel ? this is the year that dream comes true.

KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called and can you tell us a little about it?

Cheryl: My first publication, Pane and Suffering, released on September 29, 2015. It is a cozy mystery featuring Savannah Webb, a gifted glass blower studying in Seattle. After her father dies of an unexpected heart attack, she returns home to St. Petersburg, Florida to settle his affairs and hand over management of the family glass shop to her dad’s trusted assistant. Before she can toss him the keys, he’s found dead of a heart attack as well.Two heart attacks in one small shop? That’s ridiculous. Then she finds a secret message from her dad warning her that she’s in danger. With the local police unconvinced, Savannah must piece together the encoded clues before the killer cuts her out of the picture.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?

Cheryl: As a young girl and early adult, I wrote poetry. Some good, some horrible. I found it supported my fascination for words.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.


Cheryl Hollon

Cheryl: My husband and I have been amateur glass artists for about twenty years. We even have a small studio in a building behind the house. My main character, Savannah Webb is a young woman struggling to take on the responsibility for an established storefront and carry on the family tradition of leadership within the small local business community.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Cheryl: I primarily write to entertain my readers with a good cozy mystery, meaning that there won’t be graphic violence on the page and but there will be interesting characters and, of course, dogs! As an additional goal, I want my readers to know how much fun it is to create beautiful art in glass and what a wonderful city St. Petersburg is for the arts.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Cheryl: I have a word count target to meet everyday. More words on weekdays and fewer words on weekends. I usually write in a concentrated sprint the first thing each day. If the morning doesn’t go very well, then I’ll slip back into my office for another stint after supper.

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?

Cheryl: I create a detailed outline for each book in a spreadsheet. The headings include Chapter, Setting, Point of View, Time of Day, Goal, Opposition, Sensory Elements, and Page Counts. As a retired engineer, this keeps the techie side of me calm while the artistic side of me pounds out the words.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

Cheryl: In the morning words seem to flow onto the page like liquid gold. However, in the afternoon, I need to hunt them down with a club, grab them by the scruff of the neck and stab them onto the page. Obviously, I prefer mornings.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Cheryl: I have my share of query scars. With my first publishable manuscript about a wedding photographer, I received 108 rejections. There was a lot of promise with that story because I received about fifteen requests for full manuscripts. Sadly, it didn’t find a home. With my next manuscript, a Flight Simulation thriller, I had lots of interest and it got me in the door with my current agency. I’m revising that manuscript now for a proposal later this year with my agent’s full support.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Cheryl: After writing, revising and polishing the flight simulation thriller manuscript, I sent in a query to my dream agency. She asked for a submission consisting of three chapters, a synopsis and blurbs for more books in the series. After writing as fast as I could for about six months, she returned an e-mail indicating that although the writing was strong, she didn’t think she could sell it. I was gutted. Then, after a two day think, I approached the issue in a business like fashion and I told her I was considering writing a cozy series about a glass shop set in Florida, and could I send her a proposal? She immediately e-mailed, “Sure!” I submitted the required three chapters of the first book and waited another four months. Then, Eureka! I got the call!! She really liked the concept and things happened very quickly. Before I knew it, I was signed with my dream agent and had a three-book deal with Kensington.

KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?

Cheryl: After I received the publication date for the first book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series, I approached my local independent, Haslam’s Book Store, to schedule my first book signing. I was so excited! Haslam’s owner – not so excited. He had recently experienced some signings with no books sold. He was not convinced that I could draw a large enough crowd to make it worth his time and expense. I was shocked! Where were the open arms embracing the newest literary phenomenon? It was an effective wake-up call. No one would know who I was until I concentrated my promotion efforts. That I did and am happy to report that over 75 people attended my signing! Wild applause from the owner. He’s now one of my biggest fans.

KRL: Future writing goals?

Cheryl: I love Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries and I hope to write at least a half dozen more — that’s how many stories I’ve plotted out so far. My Flight Simulation Thriller also deserves a home and it would be good to find a publisher for it this year.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Cheryl: I reread my tattered Dorothy Sayers Peter Wimsey mysteries at least once a year. My modern hero is Louise Penny ? her Three Pines Village is a wonderful setting.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Cheryl: The inspiration for Webb’s Glass Shop is an actual store, Grand Central Stained Glass & Graphics, located on Central Avenue not far from my house. The owners are friends of ours and a constant source of character material and technical research.

KRL: What do you read?

Cheryl: As a reader, I’m all over the map. I read a LOT of mysteries, but also a fair number of biographies, science fiction and fantasy and at least one book on the craft of writing each month.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Cheryl: I’m all over the map with this as well. Loved the new Star Wars, watch Elementary, NCIS and Downton Abbey on TV. I’m always watching nature documentaries and I was glued to the Puppy Bowl.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Cheryl: Writing is a creative art and you must discover what works for you by yourself. You can find new ideas to try by listening to others, but ultimately it is all down to you. For me, I turned a corner when I began writing a set number of words every day. Every. Single. Day.

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Cheryl: Read a lot. Write a lot. I read a lot of books on writing. If I could only recommend two, they would be Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Don’t Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden. I just finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and loved it.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Cheryl: As a young girl, I sang at the Ohio State Fair on the same program with Bob Hope.

KRL: Website? Social Media?


Twitter: @CherylHollon,

To enter to win a copy of Shards of Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “shards,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 5, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

You can use this link to order this book & a portion goes to help support KRL & Mysterious Galaxy:


  1. It looks great, thanks for the chance 🙂
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

  2. I enjoyed reading the interview, and learning more about the author. Thank you for the giveaway.

  3. I’m fascinated with glass making and have several pieces of dichroic glass jewelry. I know I would love this book! Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  4. I know nothing about working with glass, very intimidating to me. Would like to read about glass making. I recently picked up the first book in this series and it would be great to have the second one waiting. Thank for the giveaway.

  5. Interesting interview. Thanks for the chance!

  6. Here’s a bit of love to KRL Magazine for the great book reviews and opportunities to add books to my collection!
    As a ‘very’ amateur writer, I enjoy reading these interviews about the inner workings of their writing and how similar we are. Fun!

  7. I am an aspiring writer and appreciate the interview and writing tips by Ms. Hollon. I loved Pane and Suffering and would love to win Shards of Murder. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  8. I would love to win a copy of this book. I enjoyed Cheryl’s interview. Thank you! chatcozy1(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. A good looking cozy. Glad to see it offered

  10. A glass shop — now that’s a new venue for a cozy.

  11. How exciting to see the 2nd Webb’s Glass Shop mystery already – and a 3rd coming up soon!! I am so looking forward to reading them! Just finished the first one and really loved it; this might be a new favorite series. With an author skilled in glass creations and making them for sale, she understands more about the classes and day-to-day work that writes about. Awesome!

  12. I really enjoyed the first book in the series and this sounds even better. Thanks for the chance to win.

  13. Sounds like a great series…and the subject is interesting. Thanks for the contest.

  14. We have a winner!


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