My TV Debut

Yikes! Me on TV?

That was my initial reaction when the supervising producer of Virginia This Morning emailed me, asking me to appear on the show. I was to talk about my latest mystery, Murder at the Moonshine Inn, and promote the upcoming Murder at the Library, a murder mystery theater event put on by the Clover Hill branch of the Chesterfield County Public Library and Sisters in Crime Central Virginia.

Now my husband had been encouraging me to get booked on the show for quite some time, but I had dragged my feet on that adventure. But to be asked was a different matter. I immediately replied “Yes!”

To say I was nervous was an understatement. What would I say? What if I blanked out? What would I wear? What about hair and makeup? I figured I could get my hair and makeup done at the studio. Thankfully, I asked about this. It turned out that I needed to arrive camera ready. Whew! I don’t even want to think about showing up with a not camera ready face.

I queried friends who had appeared on the show. Their advice:

Make sure my elevator speech is polished

Wear something bright

Wear slacks

Foundation and blush should be two shades darker than normal

Don’t look at the camera

Pretend that I’m having a conversation with a friend

My hair stylist gave me written instructions for achieving my best look. I visited Ulta and purchased “full coverage” foundation. I spent a week before the big day experimenting with hair and makeup. I decided on a bright teal top to brighten my usual black wardrobe.

Now, I had other concerns than about my appearance. I did follow the above advice and practiced the elevator speech for both of my books until I didn’t stumble over a word. I tried to anticipate what I’d be asked. I viewed LynDee Walker’s video from her appearance on the show.

The day arrived. I got out of bed at 5:30 am to attend to my image. I got to the studio way early and was escorted to the green room (peach, really). I chatted with a group of musicians who were promoting their upcoming benefit concert, Jazz4Justice. We discussed politics (always anxiety-reducing!).

I met Jessica Noll, one of Virginia This Morning’s producers. When I asked her if my makeup was okay she assured me that it was—she especially liked my lipstick—but suggested that I add more blush. When I wondered if I should wear my glasses, she said that if I didn’t need them to go without, as they could cause glare. Since I wasn’t driving on the set, I left them behind.

Showtime! I’m sitting across from Cheryl Miller, a veteran interviewer. It was hard not to look at the camera, as it hovered in my peripheral vision. But I kept my eyes focused on Cheryl, who was as warm and engaging as she could be. As expected, we promoted the aforementioned Murder at the Library and I got to recite my elevator speech. Then Cheryl asked me about the Richmond Police Academy program that I participated in last spring. I hadn’t expected that question so I didn’t have a polished response, but I think I did okay by the RPD (It was a great program that I highly recommend and many communities offer it).

The interview was over in five quick minutes. I signed a copy of Murder at the Moonshine Inn for Cheryl and we chatted for a few minutes off-camera.

Back in the green/peach room, the musicians were very complimentary.

“So I can safely post it on social media?” I asked.

“Absolutely. Nothing embarrassing at all.”

I did post the video and got very nice comments.

Would I do it all over again?

You bet.

Note to authors: I had quite a spike in sales that day and, less than 30 minutes after my appearance, I had a request to visit a local book group.

View my debut here.

Murder at the Library murder mystery theater event: details and tickets. Following the  event is a panel discussion, “The Many Hats of a Writer,” and author signings.

For information on Virginia This Morning.






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Missing Authors: Update 3

My long-awaited “Missing Author” series is back! Thank you readers, for wanting to know what happened to your favorite mystery authors who, for whatever reason, haven’t published in a while.

Sometimes I’m lucky enough to make contact with a “missing” author. Often life circumstances put her or his writing on hold. Some are making a comeback with a new series. Sadly, I find that some have left us for the great beyond.

Read on for the latest updates.

Carol K. Carr, author of the series featuring India Black, a young madam in 1870s London

I e-mailed Penguin Random House, asking about the author’s status; they haven’t responded.

Shirley Damsgaard penned the Ophelia and Abby series

Shirley is active on Facebook. I sent her a message asking about her writing status, but I haven’t heard back yet.

Patricia Harwin is the author of the Catherine Penny series, about an American who relocates to Far Wychwood, England

From this message board, I gather that Patricia Harwin had publishing issues and didn’t publish after 2005.

From her Simon & Schuster page, I learned that she lived in Rockville, MD and she looks to be in her sixties or seventies.

Here’s her obit from 2015. I think we can be sure it’s for the same person, as she died at age 78 and lived in Rockville.

I’m sorry I don’t have better news.

Marne Davis Kellogg, author of the Kick Keswick series.

I included Ms. Kellogg in my last Missing Author post and have since received this lovely note from her:

Dear Maggie,

Please forgive me for taking so long to respond to your note—it went missing. And thank you for your inquiry—what an interesting project.

The fact is, the last couple of years have been crazy—our business has been extremely busy, for which I am grateful, and then our dog died and then my Mother died and then I needed to redo her house and so on and so forth. Real life has gotten very in the way of my writing life.

However, I am about halfway through a wonderful new Kick book—THE HOUR OF CHARM. Because my business life is primary, it’s difficult to predict when the manuscript will be finished but I hope by the end of the year which means that it should be out by this time next year. My last Kick book—THE REAL THING—came out in November 2013.

Thanks so much for taking the time to track me down, Maggie. Where do you live in Virginia? What else do you write?

All the best, Marne

Jeff Long, author of The Descent and Year Zero, among others.

I contacted Jeff Long via the web form on his site. To date, he hasn’t responded. Simon & Schuster, his most recent publisher, has no current knowledge of him.

Randye Lordon, author of novels about family dynamics.

Years ago, Randye Lordon contributed to Women of Mystery: An Anthology. I contacted the editor, Katherine V. Forrest (I love her Kate Delafield series). She didn’t have any information on Randye, but suggested that I find the name of her agent for Mother May I?

By some fluke I found an e-mail address for Randye (it wasn’t on her website) and contacted her. She responded almost immediately:

Dear Maggie,

Thanks so much for your email.

Ah yes, it looks like I have been MIA but in the last few years life presented several challenges that I needed to address.  I have not stopped writing but I have taken a break from the Sydney Sloane series.  I may very well return to it, but right now I am completing the first in a new series about a Hamptons concierge who discoveries that life really can be murder out here.

But tell me about yourself and your recurring series – where can I find it?

All the best,

Marianne Macdonald, who wrote the Dido Hoare series about a London bookseller

I sent the author an e-mail at the address on her website, but I haven’t heard from her. I also e-mailed Severn House Publishers; they responded quickly, saying they had no information on her.

Ann McMillan, author of a Civil War series set in Virginia.

According to a mutual acquaintance, Ms. McMillan is spending time with family and has discontinued the Civil War series. You can find her on Facebook but she hasn’t posted in a while. Several years ago, I heard her speak at a writing workshop and she was quite impressive. I hope she picks up her pen again soon!

Cathy Pickens, author of the Avery Andrews series, about a lawyer practicing in South Carolina

Cathy Pickens explains her “absence” on her site.

Deborah Sharp,  author of the Mace Bauer mystery series.

Deborah Sharp is active on Facebook, and I’ll contact her at a later date. Read this November 30, 2016 interview with author R. V. Reyes.

CJ Songer, author of two novels with Meg Gillis, a security officer in Los Angeles.

I can’t find anything recent on CJ Songer, not even a way to contact her. Here’s a link to a 2005 article.

Find bibliographies for the above authors on Stop You’re Killing Me, a great resource for mystery lovers.

Posts from my “Missing Authors” series, in chronological order:

Missing Rochelle Krich

Discovering a Lost Author: John J. Lamb

Whatever Happened to Gabrielle Kraft?

Whatever Happened to (Name an Author)?

In Memory of My Favorite Mystery Authors (And Maybe Yours)

Those Missing Authors: An Update

Missing Author Found!

Missing Authors: Update 2

Readers, if you have information on the status of an author included in these posts please leave a comment. And if you have a favorite author who has seemingly vanished and isn’t included on one of the above posts, include the name(s) in the comments section and I’ll see what I can find out. It may take me some time but I will get back to you.

For various reasons, I may not feel comfortable contacting an author but I’ll provide as much information as I can find online. For example, I hesitated to contact one of the above authors because her mother recently passed away and I figured that could account for the publishing lapse.

Some of these authors are new to me and might be for other readers as well. So the “Missing Authors” series is a boon to our runaway TBR lists!





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Music to Murder By: A Playlist

I love music. As readers turn the pages of Murder at the Moonshine Inn, #2 in my Hazel Rose Book Group series, they may hear the background music and lyrics that accompany this story of mystery and intrigue (there’s even an Alice Cooper look-alike):

When high-powered executive Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks—she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day—he’s still family.

Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn—or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox.

When a second murder ups the ante Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.

The playlist for Murder at the Moonshine Inn is as broad, eclectic, and unpredictable as the characters themselves:

Ancient Roman Lyre Music” Michael Levy

Come to My Window” Melissa Etheridge

Echoes of Greece” Global Journey

Feelings” Morris Albert

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places” Johnny Lee

Never on Sunday” original soundtrack

Redneck Girl” Bellamy Brothers

Roxanne” The Police

Whiter Shade of Pale” Procol Harum

Will You Still Love Me When I’m 64?” Paul McCartney

You and Me” Alice Cooper

I got the idea for my post title, “Music to Murder By: A Playlist,” from Music to Murder By by Vernon Hinkle.

See my other “musical” posts:

Reading List for Music and Mystery Fans

Jumpstart Your Writing with Your Musical Muse





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Page to Screen: Crime Stories to Read and Watch

portrait-in-blackOne of the bonuses to reading a wonderful book is seeing it adapted for the screen. Or to watch a great movie and feel sure that the book will be even better. Here’s an eclectic collection of my favorite books-to-film:

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (A Place in the Sun is the movie title)

True Confessions by John Gregory Dunne

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

Portrait in Black by Ivan Goff (play)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard. The film version of the author’s masterpiece comes out in 2017

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

TV Series

Morse, based on stories by Colin Dexter

Midsomer Murders, based on stories by Caroline Graham

Adam Dalgliesh series and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James

Murdoch Mysteries, based on stories by Maureen Jenningsmurdoch_mysteriesBeck, based on stories by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

Fog and Crimes, based on stories by Valerio Varesi

Frost, based on stories by R.D. Wingfield

And, of course, the countless film and TV adaptations of Agatha Christie’s many, many great works.


These are only a few of the numerous titles out there. Readers, what can you add to this list?














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Great First Lines: A Celebration

“It was a dark and stormy night. Honestly. Earlier, it had been a dim and stormy day. Demonstrating no originality, March had indeed come in like a lion—a wet, angry one who blew ill winds every which way.” With Friends Like These … by Gillian Roberts

Doesn’t this opening grab your attention? It grabbed mine. It’s one of many great opening lines you’ll find on First Line Monday. If you haven’t joined the Facebook group, you’re in for a treat.

Blogger and reviewer Mark Baker created the group. He describes it this way: “This is a celebration of a well written first line. We’ll start each week by sharing the very first line at the beginning of what we are currently reading. Everyone who loves to read is welcome to join and participate.”

Here are examples of the first lines you’ll find on First Line Monday:

“The voice on the phone was a whisper.” Chasing the Dime by Michael Connelly

“Beulah Price’s body looked like a hot dog that had been left on the grill too long.” Live Free or Die by Jessie Crockett

“Fidelis walked home from the great war in twelve days and slept thirty-eight hours once he crawled into his childhood bed.” The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich

“Maribeth Klein was working late, waiting to sign off on the final page proofs of the December issue when she had a heart attack.” Leave Me by Gayle Forman

“Miss Willadean Dearmon found the body on the courthouse steps at exactly 8:59 a.m.” Murder at the Courthouse by A.H. Gabhart

“A gunshot sounded. I jerked the phone away from my ear. This time I hung up first.”
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris

I looked through my bookshelves and found no end of great first lines. Here are a few:

“It was in the middle of her first number, ‘Blue Moon,’ that Jane da Silva realized the Fountain Room smelled heavily of fried fish.” Cold Smoked by K.K. Beck

“The pebbled glass door panel is lettered in flaked black paint: ‘Philip Marlowe … Investigations.’ It is a reasonably shabby door at the end of a reasonably shabby corridor in the sort of building that was new about the year the all-tile bathroom became the basis of civilization.” The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler

“If only I could learn to say no, I wouldn’t be perched on a barstool in a redneck bar, breathing secondhand smoke and pretending to flirt with men sporting baseball caps and Confederate bandanas, their eyes riveted on my Victoria’s Secret-enhanced cleavage.” Murder at the Moonshine Inn by Maggie King (blatant self-promotion, I know)

“If you had asked me before I heard of Maggie Reston whether a house could be a magnet for murder, I would have automatically thought of The Dungeon, which is what we’ve always called the coal-gray house on Martel.” Dream House by Rochelle Krich

“The six notes that were spread out on my desk next to last month’s Billboard article and the gossip-column item radiated a strange and threatening quality.” The Broken Promise Land by Marcia Muller

“Have sex and die.” Helen Coulter barely paused for breath. “That’s what she’s saying.” Helen Hath No Fury by Gillian Roberts

“The bandidos came to the village at the worst possible time. Of course, everyone in Mexico would agree that there is no particularly good time for bad men to come to town.” Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

Mystery author Susan Oleksiw wrote an excellent post on first lines for Novelspaces. It’s much more scholarly than mine as she offers commentary on why a first line is compelling.

Which first lines will be remembered for years, centuries even? Consider these famous ones penned in the 19th century:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

chasing-the-dimeAdd your favorite first lines in the comments. And join First Line Monday!



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