Get Lost in a Mystery Tour
by Stephanie Joyce Cole
Published: December 2013
Publisher: Champagne Book Group
Word Count: 81,000
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller
Content Warning: Minor Violence
Recommended Age: 16+
Meredith slips into a new identity and a new life in a small town in Alaska, she discovers it’s not that easy to leave behind the baggage from her past.
Set in the spectacular natural landscape of Southcentral Alaska,
COMPASS NORTH tracks an unexpected journey of personal reinvention.
Reeling from the sudden breakup of her disastrous marriage, Meredith barely escapes a freak accident in Alaska and is presumed dead. She stumbles into a new identity and a new life in a quirky small town. As new friendships grow, Meredith has to learn to trust in herself again.
When a romance with a local fisherman unexpectedly blossoms, Meredith’s secret jeopardizes her hopes for future happiness. And someone is searching for her, someone who will threaten Meredith’s dream of a reinvented life.
Excerpt from Compass North by Stephanie Joyce Cole:
Meredith sat squeezed against the wall behind the wobbly table with the plastic checkerboard cover. She pushed the last bits of her hamburger bun around her plate. With the long drive finally over, they had stopped to eat at a trailer-turned-diner on the fringe of town.
“So, can we drop you someplace before we take off?” Evan waved to the waitress, motioning for the check.
She took a deep breath and ran her fingers along the pattern in the tablecloth. “Well, I’m not sure…um, I haven’t really decided where…” She looked up and saw Evan frowning at her.
“You don’t have a plan? No place at all to stay tonight?”
Meredith shook her head.
Jan bit at her lower lip and stared at her. “Gee, Meredith, we just assumed you had it all worked out. I wish we could offer you a place, but we’re couch surfing right now until we can get back into our old apartment.”
She saw Jan and Evan exchange anxious glances, and she felt a pang of shame. This wasn’t what they bargained for when they offered a stranger a ride.
They didn’t expect to be responsible for me.
Meredith looked down at her hands. She took a deep breath. “I…guess I thought there might be a cheap hostel. I guess I just didn’t think…”
She didn’t have any plan. None at all. She’d hardly focused her thoughts except when the memory of the accident raged back into her head, and when that happened, the terror and pain were almost too much to bear. So she’d tried to smooth out her mind, just letting the hours pass, letting the fatigue and the strangeness of all this wash over her.
No plan. But something had changed now. This was all crazy, but she felt she was watching someone else, someone brand new sitting here in this rundown but cozy restaurant, and that new person was the one with no place to go. It was like play-acting, like being inside of someone else’s skin. Here was a new someone, who didn’t know where she was going to sleep tonight, but this new person wasn’t stumbling around, lost, dragging a huge, black bag of mistakes and bad decisions. She lifted her chin and stared out the window.
“Wait a minute.” Jan looked at Evan. “What about Auntie Rita? I saw her outside just a few minutes ago.” She turned back to Meredith. “She’s not really anyone’s aunt—at least as far as we know—but my mom always made me call her that. I know she’s got a bit of room. She was trying to rent out a spare room a while back, but she didn’t get any takers, I guess.” Jan shrugged.
Evan smirked. “Big surprise. No one wanted to live with Rita. How can that be?”
She glared and him and breathed an exasperated sigh. “Her place is out of town, but you should be able to get back tomorrow without too much of a problem. Rita drives in all the time.”
“Rita, really?” Evan gave a low whistle. “You’re really ready to go there, Jan? You know how she can be.”
Jan pointed her finger at Meredith. “Look, it’s past noon already, and she doesn’t have a clue about where she’s going to sleep tonight. Rita likes me. Well, at least I think she does. I’m going to find her.”
Evan rolled his eyes up at the ceiling. “Rita…jeez…”
Meredith sipped her coffee and stared out the window. She tried to keep her thoughts steady. Now what? She did need a place to stay. She needed to be in a place where her new self might exist, just for a little while. She didn’t want this new Meredith to disappear, not yet.
Puffs of dust bloomed as a brisk, stinging wind whipped at the loose dirt in the parking lot. It was only late September, but the few people outside wore gloves and hats pulled down snug over their ears. Just beyond the rough lot, a greenish-black wall of spruce trees huddled close, their thick boughs knocking and bouncing in the wind. And behind them the tops of jagged and fierce peaks seemingly leaned forward, looming over the spruce. The wild world pushed back here, refusing to let the manmade world have the upper hand.
I am in a new place where I don’t exist. The old Meredith doesn’t exist here.
It is my pleasure to feature Stephanie Joyce Cole on Room With Books. Thank you, Stephanie, for agreeing to the interview!
You are welcome, Patricia—I’m delighted you invited me!
Please tell me about COMPASS NORTH and what inspired you to write it?
As COMPASS NORTH opens, Meredith has been betrayed by her husband and worn down by years of abuse. In the middle of her misery, a terrible accident hurls her into a new identity and a new life in a small town in Alaska. At first she is swept away by circumstances, but then she starts to make her own choices. She begins to rebuild her life anew–but she also discovers that leaving behind her old self isn’t that easy. COMPASS NORTH is about secrets and the costs of keeping them. It’s a book of joyful rediscovery too—Meredith has to find the courage to take chances again and to move forward in a new way in her life.
The idea for the novel started in a dark place. On 9/11, when the towers fell in New York, I thought of all the people who had lost their lives and whose remains would never be returned to their loved ones because of the total destruction at the scene. I also realized that it was likely that some must have escaped certain death just by luck—perhaps, when the planes hit, they were late for work in the World Trade Center that day, perhaps they had just gone off-site for coffee. For most people, a tearful reunion with friends and family would follow. But what if, after a terrible event like that, a desperately unhappy person discovered that the tragedy was also an opportunity, a chance to escape and become someone else entirely. Since I’d lived in Alaska for decades, it seemed like the perfect place for this story.
When you start writing do you have the story outlined or do your characters dictate what will happen?
I write in chaos. I’ve tried writing in chronological order, following an outline, but that system just squelches my imagination. I sit down and write whatever scene is unfolding in my head, which could be anywhere in the book. It’s kind of nutty, I know, but it’s how writing works for me. (And then, of course, it’s quite the chore to bring it all together into a coherent story at the end—but that’s what I have to do.)
Do you have arguments with your characters and if so, who usually wins?
I don’t have arguments with my characters, but they constantly surprise me. For example Rita, one of the main characters in COMPASS NORTH, appeared to me out of nowhere. I was writing a scene where Meredith had just arrived in Homer, Alaska, and she was lingering in a small cafe, wondering what to do next. Suddenly in my head Rita appeared in the parking lot outside, sitting on a bench in the wind, and the story tumbled forward from there. Where do these characters come from? I think they’re lurking somewhere, waiting for a chance to escape onto the written page.
What is one thing about you your readers would be surprised to know?
People who know me think I’m disciplined, but I’m lazy. I constantly have to lecture myself to get anything done. I make long to-do lists that trot behind me and haunt me.
If you could write with any other author, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Lately I’ve been thinking about Maeve Binchy, who died not too long ago. She wrote lots of books with wonderful characters sited in Ireland. I would love to write with her because I sense she would be kind and helpful, and we would have a good time.
Do you remember wanting to be something when you grew up, besides a writer?
When I was young I wanted to be an archaeologist, which horrified my mother. I still think it would have been fun.
At what age did you begin writing and what prompted you to begin?
I wrote my first poem for the school paper in about third grade, about a ride on a ferris wheel. It wasn’t bad. I’ve always loved to write, and I’ve written my way through a lot of challenging times in my life. I’m blessed that I now have more time to devote to writing, and I’m not going to stop!
Do you listen to music when you write and does music inspires your writing?
No, music takes me away from the scene in my head. I try to write in as quiet a place as I can, so I can hear clearly what my story is telling me.
What is your favorite breakfast? Oatmeal with plain yogurt, bananas and blueberries, hands down!
What is your favorite color? Yellow, but only a pale clear yellow
What is your favorite movie? You’ll laugh, but my favorite movie is the old black and white film “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.” Unbelievably romantic…
What is your dream car? My dream car is one that never breaks down and never runs out of gas. My dream car never smells of yesterday’s sandwich and is never littered with empty water bottles. And my dream car drives itself, so I can think about something else.
How can our readers find you? Please visit my website (and blog) and visit me on Facebook. You can find my book in both ebook and paperback formats on the Champagne Books website and on Amazon.
I appreciate the time you have taken to answer these questions and for allowing Room With Books to be a part of your tour!
It’s been fun! Thanks again for asking me to talk with you.
About the Author:
Stephanie Joyce Cole lived for many decades in Alaska before she recently relocated to Seattle, WA, where she lives with her husband and a predatory but lovable Manx cat. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Her goal is to write books that are both thought-provoking and entertaining, and that will carry readers into an adventure in small-town Alaska.
by Julie Eberhart Painter
Published: May 2009
Publisher: Champagne Book Group
Word Count: 79,000
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended Age: 14+
When two residents in Ellen Lange’s nursing home die, Special Investigator Bill Watts is called to the scene. With the murders linked to others, known as the Ponytail Crimes, it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again.
Bill is a Southerner; Ellen was raised in the Midwest. Despite her efforts to remain aloof, Ellen finds herself falling in love with more than the South…
Excerpt from Mortal Coil by Julie Eberhart Painter:
There was nothing like physical activity to allay anxiety, so Friday afternoon, Ellen took off work early to tackle cleaning the kitchen and laundry room floors. She had only an hour left before Patti would come in and undo her efforts. She didn’t want her daughter skating around on the wet floor. Ellen had changed into old jeans and a loose-at-the-neck blue T-shirt. Her feet were bare.
Public radio was running a fundraiser, so she turned the living room stereo to the country western station—music to clean by. Ellen had opened the garage doors to take advantage of the warm, dry breeze blowing from the west. She danced around the kitchen, pushing the mop in time with the music. About half of the kitchen corners were now free of dirt, a testimony to what Millie would call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She’d moved the kitchen table into one corner and stacked the chairs on top. A rap on the screen door alerted her to a visitor.
She unhooked the screen and motioned Bill inside. “Watch the wet spots.”
“What are you doing?” he asked, raising his voice to be heard over the loud music.
“Cleaning the floor,” she said, raking the back of an arm over her wet forehead and wiping her hands on her jeans.
“Isn’t there an easier way?” Bill asked. “How about the old Irma Bombeck trick?”
“Any solution in a storm. What is it?”
“I’ll show you. Do you have any old towels?”
“You need to put old terrycloth towels on your feet and dance around the floor.”
“Well, I’ve got the music. Let’s see if I can get some towels.” She placed the mop back in the wheeled bucket she’d borrowed from maintenance and headed for the garage. All the old towels Patti used to wash the car had been washed and dried and left on top of Tom’s abandoned toolbox.
Grabbing a handful, she came back into the kitchen. “Demonstrate,” she said, handing the bunch to Bill.
He wrung out the mop and set it aside. Soaking and pulling the towels through the wringer, he handed them to her one by one. “Okay. Put a towel under each foot and dance like you were dancing, slide, two, three, four, slide…”
Ellen smiled. “Terrific.”
Just then the announcer went to a commercial. They stood there looking at each other waiting for more music. Ellen dropped two more wet towels and stepped on them. Bill shucked his shoes and socks and dropped his towels. The next tune was a bouncy number that set Ellen’s head bobbing.
“More like this,” he said, sliding and dipping in dance mode. “Ever do the Texas two-step?” Bill called over the twanging guitars.
“No. But I’ve seen the contests on TV.”
About the Author:
Julie Eberhart Painter raised in Bucks Count, Pennsylvania, boyhood home of James A Michener, is the author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee, and sequel, Medium Rare from www.champagnebooks.com. Daughters of the Sea, e-book and print. Julie’s first paranormal romance, and Morning After Midnight are available from MuseItUp Publishing.
by Gary R. Eddings
Published: January 2014
Publisher: Champagne Book Group
Word Count: 60,000
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Recommended Age: 13+
There is no such thing as an ordinary traffic stop, something Tribal Officer Pat Colson is reminded of when pulling over a dusty old Buick. Before he knows it, shots are flying and he is huddled behind his police cruiser for cover.
In the ensuring investigation, a sizable amount of methamphetamine is discovered in the suspects’ vehicle. Uncut and very potent, the question is where does it come from— the Reservation or elsewhere?
With everyone on the Reservation becoming a suspect, and little information to go on, Colson must act fast to stop the dangerous drug from killing more innocent victims and stop a murderer in his tracks.
Excerpt from Hollow Point by Gary R. Eddings:
It is told that a Great Serpent caused extreme distress and threatened the Salish people. Chief Kitsap called down the Double-Headed Eagle from the mountains to fight it. The two creatures engaged in a horrible battle and the Great Serpent eventually pulled the Eagle down, presumably to his death, plowing a huge trench that filled with water and became Agate Pass, separating the Kitsap Peninsula from Bainbridge Island.
The people mourned. Then the ground shook and the Double-Headed Eagle rose from the water in victory, having killed the Great Serpent. To this day the symbol of the Suquamish is the Double-Headed Eagle, their protector.
That type of power is needed once again for the Tribe.
About the Author:
I retired as a fire department EMS Division Chief for Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue in 2005. I have been writing seriously since mid-2009, and this is my second novel with Champagne Book Group. I am also a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. I am the father of four and the grandfather of three; a two year old grandson and newly-minted twin girls.
A Burning Truth
A Cady Delafield Mystery # 2
by Joyce Proell
Published: February 2014
Publisher: Champagne Book Group
Word Count: 85,000
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
Content Warning: Sexual tension, light violence
Recommended Age: 17+
In 1881, the air in Chicago is rife with worker discontent, yet business titan Doyle Flanagan is hopeful for the future. He looks forward to a lifetime of peaceful bliss with Cady Delafield and leaving the wretched past behind. But his life is once again thrown into disarray when his office is vandalized and the night watchman viciously murdered. Clues lead to a powerful organized labor movement. Targeted in the press as anti-labor and with a big rally staged next door to his offices, Doyle must uncover the culprits before his wedding plans and his livelihood go up in smoke.
Plagued by memories of four brutal deaths, school director Cady Delafield is determined to drive the recent tragedies from her mind and enjoy being courted. Although his commanding personality threatens to overshadow her, Doyle Flanagan is the most dynamic man she’s ever met. When another tragedy unfolds placing him at the center, she takes action—action that could shatter her future dreams.
Excerpt from A Burning Truth by Joyce Proell:
Doyle sat in the carriage, his brain frozen and his limbs unable to move. He watched Cady run up the steps and disappear into Ophelia’s impenetrable stone manor. When the front door boomed shut with the noise of a cannon blast, he jumped. He lurched forward and exploded out of the vehicle. She wasn’t getting rid of him so easily. In fact, she wasn’t getting rid of him at all. He had a voice in the matter. He intended to be heard.
Just as soon as he thought it, his steps faltered and he ground to a stop.
Now was not the time to try to reason with her, not when she was in a cold fury. He pumped a fist against a thigh and stared at the mansion’s rock façade, aware her current state of mind was as solid and unshakable. Even if he managed to get beyond the front door, she wouldn’t listen. Not now.
His head fell back. A piercing ache tore through him, as if his heart and soul had been shredded and tossed aside. Gunmetal storm clouds reeled over the sky, bleak and threatening. The bite in the air made his cheeks sting. Inside he was hollowed and gutted. His fingers curled and uncurled. Muscles coiled, he pivoted with a fierce twist, snapped an order to Phelps then threw himself back into the carriage. His next move must be deployed with utmost care. The carriage jolted forward and thrust him back against the seat cushion. She needed time to cool. Then he’d be back, and she’d listen to what he had to say.
About the Author:
Joyce grew up in Minnesota and attended college and grad school in Chicago. After working in mental health as a clinical social worker, she retired to write full-time. Her first book, Eliza, was published in 2012. A Burning Truth is the second in the Cady Delafield series. When she isn’t writing historical suspense or romance, she loves to travel, winter in Florida, swim, read and walks almost every day. She loves chocolate almost as much as crossword puzzles. She and her husband make their home in rural Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie.
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
- Five mystery eBooks from Champagne Book Group. Books will be selected at random from publisher.
- $20 gift card to either Amazon or B&N, courtesy of Joyce Proell
Giveaway is International.
Link to the event page: http://junipergrovebooksolutions.com/multiple-author-mystery-tour/