by Sandra Murphy
This week we have a review & giveaway of Something Buried, Something Blue by Wendy Corsi Staub along with an interesting interview with Wendy. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Something Buried, Something Blue. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Something Buried, Something Blue: A Lily Dale Mystery by Wendy Corsi Staub
Review by Sandra Murphy
The village of Lily Dale is like no other. The only people who are allowed to own land are those with psychic powers. Still, it’s a good spot for Bella and her son Max to take a break. They were on their way to Chicago to live with her mother-in-law, the eternally cranky Millicent. After Bella’s husband died, there wasn’t money to live alone anymore. When the car broke down in Lily Dale, it seemed like a nice break. Bella had the opportunity to live in the “hotel,” and then be the wedding planner for a destination wedding so maybe she can stay on after all.
Of course, when living in the midst of psychics, a few will get “a feeling,” and then all heck breaks loose. Was it a reaction to the feeling or a real look into the future? Bella doesn’t know but is willing to keep an open mind.
Her next door neighbor has one of those feelings. She is worried about the bride. The picture isn’t clear, but something is going to happen on the wedding day. And so it does—Joheen collapses and no one knows why, right after the ceremony too.
It was a strange enough ceremony anyway. The bride insisted on everything being white. Except the guests couldn’t wear white, of course. She wanted no scent on the flowers. No relatives invited. There were rumors of a stalker, someone she’d loved who couldn’t let go. She never told anyone who it was or what he looked like, so he could have been there and no one the wiser.
In the meantime, Bella’s worried about the cat she took in, who had many, many kittens. She’s worried about a blue cat (Russian blue) out in the garden since an unseasonable or at least way too early snow storm is about to hit, hopefully after the wedding is over. And the meal, which Bella got roped into catering.
It’s a total shock to open the door, expecting wedding guests, only to find Millicent on the doorstep, expecting a room for an indefinite stay. Luckily for Bella, she can honestly say there’s no room available. Millicent has to stay next door. Bella has a bad feeling that Millicent would like to kidnap Max and take him back to Chicago with her—and without Bella.
There are great supporting characters to help Bella with all the craziness that is going on. Millicent is sure that Bella was brainwashed by the “cult of psychics.” In spite of it all, Bella is determined to stay.
This is the second in the Lily Dale Mystery series (Nine Lives was the first). I thoroughly enjoyed Bella’s tale and can’t wait for the next one, if for nothing else, to see how many kittens she ends up keeping. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the tense (Bella goes to the door, expecting to find…) It was very distracting since most books are written as Bella went to the door. The psychic parts of the town were subtle so no witchy meetings or séances. It’s just that everyone has a talent, and they all live in Lily Dale. Personally, I’d settle for a long visit.
Interview with Wendy Corsi Staub:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Wendy: I’ve been writing since early elementary school. My mom saved little poems I wrote back in first grade, and many “novels” I began (and never finished) from the time I was about nine years old.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?
Wendy: My first novel came out in 1993. It was called Summer Lightning, and it was a young adult paranormal, a hot genre at the time. It was about a teenaged girl living in an old house in Maine and she believes (correctly) that a spirit is communicating with her over her new computer. This was in the days before most people had an internet connection, so my tech expert brother-in-law tried to help me understand how an outside source might be able to communicate with a personal computer, which would be impossible without an internet connection and which my heroine did not have. The book was published by my current publisher, HarperCollins, in collaboration with packager Daniel Weiss and went on to win the RWA Rita Award for Best Young Adult Novel that year.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not, what else have you written?
Wendy: While mystery/suspense is my passion, I have written in various other genres, occasionally under pseudonyms. I’ve published nearly two dozen women’s fiction, chick lit and romance titles under my USA Today bestselling pseudonym, Wendy Markham, and last year one of those books, Hello, It’s Me, aired as a Hallmark television movie starring Kellie Martin. I am also (not bestselling) horror and category romance author, Wendy Morgan, pop culture author, Wendy Brody, and have also been (or co-authored with) Fabio, Edward Koch, R.L. Stine, Francine Pascal, and ghostwritten for various other celebrity authors whose identities shall remain forever in the vault. I’ve written historical novels, horror, pop culture, middle grade and young adult fiction, as well as screenplay novelizations.
KRL: How cool! What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Wendy: Something Buried, Something Blue is the second book in my Lily Dale Mystery series. Lily Dale, New York is a real-life town populated by spiritualists. I grew up nearby and had written other books set there ? a suspense novel, In the Blink of An Eye, and a four-title young adult paranormal mystery series. Readers were always asking me for more Lily Dale, and I’ve always wanted to revisit it. What brought me to this project?
Two summers ago, a pregnant stray cat landed on our doorstep, on the very day my agent and I had lunch with the editorial director of Crooked Lane, who wanted me to write a mystery series for them. I was already overwhelmed by deadlines and other pressures, and I felt that a new writing project was the last thing I needed. Then I came home that night to the pregnant stray cat, and she was DEFINITELY the last thing I needed. We had no pets. My husband is deathly allergic to cats, but this one wasn’t going anywhere! She delivered six kittens, became deathly ill and I rushed her to the pet ER. I spent thousands of dollars to save her and the kittens. When the vet heard they were strays, he thought I was crazy. I thought so too, and I probably am. But they all survived. We later found good homes for the litter and decided to keep the mama cat, whom we named Chance. My previous Lily Dale research had taught me that spiritualists believe cats are mystical creatures, that there are no coincidences and everything happens for a reason. If that was really the case, I decided, I needed to write about Chance for Crooked Lane.
In Nine Lives, the first Lily Dale mystery, my newly widowed single mom heroine, Bella, finds a stray pregnant cat named Chance on her doorstep on the worst possible day. Trying to return her to her owner in Lily Dale, Bella discovers a mystery ? and a new life. After the experience with Chance, we got involved with animal rescue organizations. In the second book, Something Buried, there’s another stray based on our real life rescue kitten, a Russian Blue named Li’l Chap.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Wendy: I write to entertain, but after publishing more than eighty novels, I know my longtime readers have certain expectations. They come to me for twists and turns, a villain masked behind a familiar face and three-dimensional characters to whom they can relate. People just like them or like people they know, as opposed to larger than life. They want to be scared and emotionally engaged. They don’t want graphic violence, sex or language.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Wendy: I write whenever I have to, which is basically every single day that I’m at home. With back-to-back deadlines, that often means seven fourteen-hour days a week for weeks on end. When I’m not home writing, I’m typically on book tour, at conferences or taking care of business in some way such as school workshops, business meetings or research trips. I wish I were one of those people who can efficiently write fresh chapters on the road, but the best I can ever do on my laptop is revise and edit.
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?
Wendy: I outline only when absolutely necessary. For my series books, I keep notes ? a series bible of sorts. Sometimes when I finish writing for the day, I type a few lines where I left off reminding myself what I want to do the next day. I usually keep a separate document entitled “Loose ends” which are all the tidbits I need to follow through a story. I also use highlighted text a lot. I’ll color code sections of narrative that I know I’ll need to move later.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Wendy: I prefer to get up very early ? 4 or 4:30, ideally ? before the day has made an imprint and too early for phone and email intrusions. I do that whenever I can, but the older I get, the harder it is!
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Wendy: Did I find it difficult? Not necessarily. Back then, I was so goal-oriented, so confident that I would get there at some point, that I was fairly undaunted by the constant rejection. I was constantly writing and always had a number of projects circulating at any given time. I hoped and prayed that one of them would be accepted, and eventually, one was.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Wendy: I’m currently writing the third Lily Dale mystery, so my immediate future involves finishing that. It’s tentatively titled The Dead Winter. Readers who enjoyed Something Buried might recall that Bella’s precocious young neighbor, Jiffy Arden, cheerfully mentioned he’d had a premonition that he’d be kidnapped when snow started falling in Lily Dale. As the new book opens, snow is falling and Jiffy has gone missing.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Wendy: Anyone who knows that writing a book is not about having a great idea, it’s about honing a craft and having the discipline to sacrifice the time and energy it takes to sit alone in a room and write tens of thousands of words, then rewrite those words time and again and submit no matter how many times you’re rejected, and heed constructive criticism. My hat is off to anyone, at any stage of a career, who understands that that’s what it takes to be a writer. Those are my heroes.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Wendy: My research is constant and thorough ? online, through books, meeting with experts, interviewing people online, travel ? it never ends, and is one of my favorite parts of the job.
KRL: What do you read?
Wendy: I’m pretty eclectic. I read a lot of suspense fiction, a lot of historical nonfiction and true crime for research and pleasure. I mostly read audiobooks these days. I download them to my Waterfi and listen while I swim my daily laps at the gym. Multitasking at its finest.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Wendy: Right now, I’m obsessed with This Is Us, a new network drama with a premise that is strikingly similar to a book idea I’ve been brewing for awhile. Timing has never been my forte. I love Criminal Minds, The Affair, Younger, Odd Mom Out, and a few reality TV shows such as Survivor, Amazing Race and of course, the Real Housewives of New York.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Wendy: The only thing you can control in this crazy business is how hard you work, so work as hard as you can.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Wendy: This was my year for “Blue” titles. In August, my psychological suspense novel, Blue Moon, was published by HarperCollins. Like Something Buried, it’s the second in a new series I launched last year, set in a fictional village, Mundy’s Landing, made notorious for unsolved historical murders. The third book in that series, Bone White, will be out in March.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Wendy: I’m sure people would be surprised about a lot of things. Social media allows acquaintances and strangers alike to feel as though they know everything about you, creating the illusion that they’re privy to your day to day life and know who you really are. I might spend a lot of time interacting on Facebook and candidly sharing certain details, but I tread carefully and I’m protective of my private life.
Sometimes, I’ll share something in person with a friend or family member and they’ll say, “I had no idea. You didn’t mention that on Facebook!” I really strive to keep my public persona upbeat and professional ? positive energy only. So if I’ve had a bad day, I’m probably not going to tell you about it, but boy, do they ever happen!
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a copy of Something Buried, Something Blue, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “buried,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 3, 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.
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