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The Sirens of Suspense


Still to come: a Halloween guest-blog from Berkley Prime Crime authors Carolyn Hart, author of the Bailey Ruth mysteries.Comment on any of the blogs this week to be eligible to win the grand prize!

Because some readers have been affected by Hurricane Sandy I'm extending the deadline to comment on any of the blogs to be entered for the grand prize for another week. Please take a moment to visit The Red Cross and The Humane Society websites, both are accepting emergency donations which will go to immediate use for disaster relief, also find out where you can donate blood today HERE.



Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

She is the Marketing Director with Entangled Publishing, is the founder of Books on the House, the co-founder of The Naked Hero, and is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, and A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL. She also has two romantic suspense novels, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox, all to be released in 2012/2013.

Find Melissa on Twitter and Facebook.

(She'll be giving away an iPad this Christmas so keep an eye on her Facebook page for details.)

item10a A Holiday to Die For item10a

My husband and I have hosted a good number of Halloween parties over the years. Before we had kids, this was our holiday. Friends and colleagues would dress up in their most clever costumes and come to par-tay. One year I died my blonde hair black, hair sprayed the from bangs until they pointed straight at the ceiling, and dressed a bustier and a little black jacket that said: Carlos y Misa on it written in an Old English font. My husband had on chinos, a wife beater and flannel shirt, a bandana around his head, and grew a goatee to play the part of a cholo (a Mexcian lowrider homeboy ;). It was hilarious, and I’ll never forget how my husband’s cousin, who had only met me once before, hit on me. I was just his type!

We decorated with cobwebs and spiders, turned the garage into a haunted house, and made caramel apples.

Can’t you just see stumbling upon a dead body? We never did, of course. And thank god for that! But in a mystery, that’s just what needs to happen.

Cozy mysteries lend themselves to holiday themed crimes pretty well. As I began to brainstorm and plot for the next Magical Dressmaking Mystery, I kept coming back to Halloween. I’ve written a Christmas-themed book. Deadly Patterns just came out in October and has a dead Santa, a baby in a manger, and a Christmas pageant. I had so much fun tying in these holiday elements that writing a book with spooky Halloween elements was an easy next step. Harlow, a dressmaker by trade, will be up to her eyeballs making costumes, and when that dead body turns up, as it invariably does, she’ll get to the bottom of things.

The difficult part of writing a mystery is coming up with a viable plot and motive, preferably something that hasn’t been done a million times over. Cheating spouses, petty jealousies, and thieving are all well and good, but I like to bring in more, when I can. I write romantic suspense, as well (Sacrifice of Passion, a $2.99 eBook from Entangled Publishing’s Dead Sexy line has to do with Mexican legends and is probably my favorite book in my backlist). Bringing in the history of chupacabra gives depth and interest to the story. Curse of Passion comes next and at its core is the legend of la Llorona (think Medea). This history was fascinating, and I love this book, too!

In my Magical Dressmaking mysteries, Harlow Cassidy is a descendant of Butch Cassidy. I created a slightly alternate history for Butch, and to me, this adds so much to the story. Of course I began thinking about how I could bring historical elements, or themes beyond costumes and a party, into the book, and then it hit me. Day of the Dead. The wheels started turning and before too long, I had a pretty solid plot with a mystery surrounding this important Mexican tradition.

Now I need a title! So far, there’s Pleating for Mercy, A Fitting End, Deadly Patterns, and A Custom-Fit Crime (which comes out in spring 2013). Cozy titles have to have that pun, and while I can write a killer 75,000 word book, coming up with an equally killer titles is often so much more difficult. I’d love your ideas, so post them here!

And I’m giving away The Lola Cruz Christmas Story for free! It’s downloadable to your iPad, Nook, Kindle, or whatever e-device you read on. Get the link HERE.

Okay, I’m all ears. Let the cozy, dressmaking-themed, Halloween-y (or not) titles begin!




WHAT'S YOUR MAGICAL DRESSMAKING TITLE SUGGESTION? Tell us, or ask Melissa a question by commenting below or visit us and share your thoughts on our Facebook page. and be entered to win Friday's grand prize of a book from each of this week's guest authors!

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