Creating A New Cozy Mystery Series

This month, I am thrilled to post a guest blog written by my friend Jennifer S. Alderson, because she has a NEW series out! Do you like traveling and mystery? Look no further and read on!

For most of 2019, I kept a secret from pretty much everyone I know – including my family! Looking back, I don’t know why I was afraid to tell people that I was writing a new series of books that are lighter and funnier than my current ones.

The novels in my Zelda Richardson Mystery series are plot-heavy, art thrillers. I do love to write them, but wanted to create a second, character-driven series within the framework of a whodunit-style mystery. Because I love to travel, a cozy mystery series based around a tour guide turned amateur sleuth was ideal! Deciding on the series name – Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries – was surprisingly easy once I knew tour groups would feature in each story.

Making travel a central part of the series meant that the stories would be set in several locations, not just in one small town. I wanted to write about cities I had personally visited, in order to better describe them. Because I don’t want these novels to turn into travelogues, the confrontations, eavesdropping, and sleuthing take place during the group’s day tours, so readers get a mystery and trip in one.

Deciding on where Lana’s group will visit is quite challenging, but also part of the fun of writing the series. It gives me a chance to revisit my old photos, maps, and journals, as well as scan recent travel blogs, in search of the perfect tie-in to a setting.

To give myself and readers another point of reference, each story is set during a different holiday. Death on the Danube, the first book in the series, takes place in Budapest during New Year’s Eve. Because the city is famous for its fireworks shows and winter markets, I thought this would be a wonderful setting and holiday theme to start the series off with.

I wanted to give Book Two, Death by Baguette, a Valentine-theme, so Paris was the obvious choice or the location. Since the third book – Death by Windmill – has a Mother’s Day theme, I figured Amsterdam, the flower capital of the world, would be a good setting.

Whenever possible, the murder and storyline are related to the holiday theme. For example, in Death by Baguette, Lana is accused of murdering her boyfriend. In Death by Windmill, Lana’s mother is the prime suspect. I currently have nine books planned, though they are so much fun to write, I may extend the series!

For those who love my art mysteries – never fear. Book Four in the Zelda Richardson Mystery series will be out in April 2020. As for the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery series, Death on the Danube and Death by Baguette are available now, and Death by Windmill will be out in May 2020. Book Four will take readers to Edinburgh for a summer murder mystery. For now, I’m going to keep the title and cover a secret. You will have to check back in May to find out more!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. Her love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning mystery series—the Zelda Richardson Mysteries and Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries—and standalone stories.

After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before settling in the Netherlands. Her background in journalism, multimedia development,and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.

Website: http://www.jennifersalderson.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jenniferSAldersonauthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JSAauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/JenniferSAldersonDeathbyBaguette_300w
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-s-alderson

Death by Baguette: A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris
Book Two of the Travel Can Be Murder Mystery Series
By Jennifer S. Alderson

Paris—the city of love, lights … and murder? Join tour guide Lana Hansen as she escorts five couples on an unforgettable Valentine-themed vacation to France! Unfortunately it will be the last trip for one passenger…

Lana Hansen’s future is looking bright. She has money in her bank account, a babysitter for her cat, and even a boyfriend. Regrettably she won’t get to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her new beau, Chad. Instead, she will be leading a lovers-only tour in France. Luckily for Lana, her best friend, Willow, and her partner, Jane, will be joining her.

Things go downhill when Lana’s new boyfriend shows up in Paris for her tour—with his wife. Chad is not the website developer he claimed to be, but a famous restaurant critic whose love of women rivals his passion for food.

After Chad drops dead during a picnic under the Eiffel Tower, a persistent French detective becomes convinced that he was poisoned. And the inspector’s sights are set on several members of the tour—including Lana!

While escorting her group through the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, the grand gardens of Versailles, and the historic Marché des Enfants Rouges market, Lana must figure out who really killed Chad before she has to say bonjour to prison and adieu to her freedom.

The Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries are heartwarming stories about making friends, traveling, and celebrating new experiences. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.

eBook (also in Kindle Unlimited) http://getbook.at/DeathbyBaguette
Paperback https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0849YJD9Y/

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

One question I get regularly, as a writer of stories with a paranormal slant, is whether I believe in ghosts. My children are particularly obsessed with this. Even though I think having a sixth sense would be tremendously interesting—or immensely terrifying, depending how the experience would turn out—I can’t say I have ever actually seen a ghost.

That said, I think many of us have had, at some point in time, an experience that defied a rational explanation. I don’t necessarily always need a rational explanation; sometimes things just happen. Maybe it’s just intuition kicking in at the right moment. A gut-feeling. Or maybe we do all have a sixth sense, somewhere deep down, only to stir and warn us when “something” triggers it.  I like to keep an open mind—the brain is after all a fabulous thing. Then again, it’s also very much capable of deluding us.

Many years ago, I visited a friend in Edinburgh, Scotland, and we went on a ghost-tour. Edinburgh is a really good place for things like that; Scotland is riddled with ghosts apparently, if you believe the rumors.  My friend and I signed up for a tour that went underground, through Mary King’s Close. It’s an area that used to have very narrow streets, called closes, lined by high buildings. Back in the day the poorest people would live on ground level (where all the sewage and waste was piled up), and the richest people would live on the top floor, as far away from the stench as possible.

In 1753 this area was covered up for the construction of the Royal Exchange.  The ground level of the buildings was used as foundation, and the closes were covered up. But they are still there.  It’s eery alright, being down there in the near-darkness, with a guide whispering spooky stories.

One of stories we were told was about when the plague visited Mary King’s Close in 1644. To quarantine the people living there, the close was completely sealed off, essentially leaving the people within to perish without food or water. For days the people screamed, begging to be let out, until finally the screaming subsided. It is said that a little girl, named Annie, who died of the plague, still roams the place, looking for her doll.

A story like this is enough to curdle your blood, morphing any shadow into a little girl searching for her doll. Or worse.

Did I see a ghost? No. And neither did my friend. But we were certainly creeped out.

If you dig around on the internet, there are several websites stating that this story is not true. The people were provided with food and water, even a doctor. Healthy people may have been sequestered elsewhere. I truly hope so, cause otherwise they were imprisoned in a plague-infested area. And the flees didn’t stop biting.

Whether the story is true or not, the tour was well done. And very memorable. If you like to be spooked, I would highly recommend doing a ghost tour in Edinburgh; there are plenty to choose from!

Funny thing is, I did have a “strange” experience in Edinburgh. My friend and I stayed at a large house that was completely empty, aside from the two of us. She mentioned that some people, who had stayed in this house, had eerie, frightening experiences while sleeping in one of the guest rooms. She did not tell me which room, but instead dared me to walk around the house—on my own—and see if I could identify the room. I did (highly skeptically), but to my surprise there was one room that stood out. It was identical to any of the other rooms I’d seen thus far. However, when I entered, the temperature seemed to drop several degrees. The room felt “different,” for a lack of a better word. It wasn’t like there was something evil present, or like I suddenly had unwanted company. But I remember feeling so uncomfortable that I wanted to leave the room. I didn’t finish my tour of the house. I knew this was THE ROOM, and it was.

But of course, I had been looking for this room, with heightened perception. The question is, if I had been assigned this room for the night, unaware of the stories, would I have noticed the same discomfort?

I firmly believe in science—I’d like to think everything has an explanation. It’s just that we haven’t figured out everything quite yet. And for some things, maybe we’re not supposed to either. Because when it comes down to it, we all need a little bit of mystery every now and then.

The Lover’s Portrait

51KNLQlFsBL._AC_US218_The Lover’s Portrait written by Jennifer S. Alderson, was a fun and exciting read!

The main character is Zelda, a young American woman, who has been immersing herself in Dutch culture, studying art. When she gets an internship at an art museum in Amsterdam, trying to restore the in WW II stolen art to the rightful owners, a painting gets claimed by two different women, and questions, as well as trouble, start piling up!

The mystery itself was compelling and made me want to keep reading (I read it in one day, because I couldn’t put it down). The location and time period were the icing on the cake.

The story not only takes the reader to the Amsterdam of today, but also of the past, during the time of WW II. Featuring the stolen and lost art during the German occupation of the Netherlands, it tells about what was happening in Amsterdam during that period, without it turning into a history lesson. It was both a fascinating glimpse back in time as well as very educational. I had the impression Jennifer must have invested a great deal of work researching the era and the city. Having lived in Amsterdam, one of my favorite cities, I felt the descriptions in the book were very accurate, bringing back great memories.

Obviously, it being a mystery novel, I don’t want to provide any more spoilers. You just need to read it!