"All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality -- the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
--Author Christopher Benson



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

COZY WEDNESDAY - With Author Sheila Connolly (Giveaway too!!)

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
My guest today is Sheila Connolly, author of the Orchard Mystery Series and the Museum Mystery Series.  The latest book Bitter Harvest was released on August 2 and the prequel to the entire series Called Home (An Orchard Mystery) is available for Kindle. It is a wonderful series where each book starts up right where the last one leaves off.  I was wondering how Meg was going to spend the winter and was really surprised how Sheila handled it. I will let her tell you all about it.  I am so happy she found a little time to spend with us out of her busy schedule.

Welcome Sheila!!

Thank you Lori, I am glad to be here. Now let me tell you about Bitter Harvest.

I wrote a murder mystery and I didn't kill anyone.

Bitter Harvest, the most recent in my Orchard Mystery series, came out last week. It's the fifth book in the series, and over those five books I've covered my protagonist Meg's first full year living and trying to grow apples in the small New England town of Granford. In that time the fictional town has suffered from a major crime wave, with a suspicious death every couple of months (with Meg somehow in the middle of things). Since the place is based on a real small town in Massachusetts, and I've corresponded with the local police chief, I know that the actual murder rate there is about one per decade. So I thought I should let Meg take a breather from corpses.

But there is a mystery, and there may have been a murder—it's hard to prove when it happened over two hundred years ago.

Bitter Harvest came about because of two unrelated incidents. In a former life I was a professional genealogist, and for a time I worked for one of the producers of the Antiques Road Show, which included doing research for a piece that appeared on the show: a nineteenth century sampler that some guy found in a closet when he moved into a house he bought. I don't know that anyone ever figured out what it was doing there, but we learned a lot about who made it and where. I thought it was a great story, so I gave Meg a sampler shoved into the back of a closet in her colonial house—and explained how and why it ended up there.

The second inspiration came when I gave a talk to a Daughters of the American Revolution group not far from where the series is set (and also the town where Johnny Appleseed's family had an orchard). Without giving away too much of the plot, I can tell you that I met someone who told me about a hereditary disease that I'd never heard of, but that also fit well into a story about a town with a long-established and highly interconnected population.

Those two stories weave together in Bitter Harvest. It takes place in winter, so Meg doesn't have obligations in the orchard and she has the time to do a bit of investigation of her own into the sampler, with results that surprise her. And as always, I'm thrilled to be able to use my own experience from my rather diverse career in my writing.


Thank you so much Sheila.  
I want to tell you a little bit more about this wonderful author.  Her web page says she has "more degrees than (she) knows what to do with," in Art History and Finance.  She has lived in 7 states, 19 towns and 2 foreign counties. She has also been employed as:
  • an art historian (medieval architecture)
  • an investment banker in San Francisco and Philadelphia
  • a non-profit fundraiser
  • a professional genealogist, a she mentioned above (She had her own business, Lost Ancestors)
and then of course, a mystery writer.  I don't know about you but I believe all of this life experience has given her a treasure trove of knowledge to draw from for her mysteries as we have seen with her two current series.   It looks to me there is  great wealth of ideas still available to write about so this is definitely someone to keep your eye on as she continues to bring us more exciting stories. Be sure to check out her web page for news about her new series!

Cover Illustration
by Mary Ann Lasher
Cover Design
by Annette Fiore Defex

A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Published by The Penguin Group

An Orchard Mystery
5th in the Series

Sheila told you what the book was about above so I will leap right to my review.

This story was not your normal whodunit cozy.  It was more of a puzzle, gathering the pieces and putting them together in the right way to solve it.  It was a brain teaser as you followed Meg through the process of finding out all the secrets this very special sampler holds.

It also had the characters relating differently as the story didn't revolve around the orchard and they had to really spend time with each other and work together to get through everything winter was throwing at them.

I have enjoyed every trip to Granford to visit with Meg, Seth, and lovable Max. These trips are exciting because I always learn something new and can get caught up in a bushel basket of mystery too, even if no one was killed. 

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Now for the giveaway!!
Thanks to the wonderful people at Berkley Prime Crime I have 2 copies of Bitter Harvest to Giveaway!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Berkley Prime Crime, a Division of Penguin Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Liz V. said...

Bitter Harvest sounds fascinating. The sampler inspiration is a wonderful detail. Best wishes for its success.

Mollie Bryan said...

I'm hooked! Sounds like a great book written by a fascinating author.

holdenj said...

Morning Shelia! I found your previous genealogist job an interesting tidbit. I can't wait to catch up with Meg in Bitter Harvest, it looks great. And I wanted to say I enjoyed the first Museum book very much too! Wishing you continued success!

Dru said...

ooh, I love solving puzzles and I can't wait to read this one. Love Meg.

Kuzlin said...

I loved Called Home...can't wait to try this series.

PoCoKat said...

Looking forward to reading Bitter Harvest!

Gigi Ann said...

It was so nice to meet you, Ms. Connolly. The books sound like fun to read, and if I don't win any books, I will be picking up one or two of your books up at the bookstore.

LuAnn said...

I've just started getting into cozy mysteries and this sounds like a good one!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

You sure wear many hats, Sheila! All of your experiences must give you plenty of story ideas! I am currently working with a friend on our family tree so this book really catches my attention. I have the first two books in this series and need to buy the rest of them and then get them read!

Carol M said...

This sounds like a great series! I've always been interested in antiques and the stories behind them. Thank you for a chance to win a copy!

Joanne R said...

The book sounds as fascinating as the author herself!

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

Nothing I like better than a good mystery. My father-in-law recently passed away and as we were cleaning out his home there were numerous knick knacks that my hubby recalled seeing all his life but did not know the history behind them. One of the comments frequently made was "oh, what a story this could tell if only it could talk".


alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

CelticLady said...

I just love the covers on these little books. Thank you Sheila for the post and thank you Dollycas for the giveaway. Sounds like a great book!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sheila! I have not read any of your books yet, but I plan to! Do you have a favorite series yet, maybe not the actual books but the setting for your different series? Thanks, Rae-- Best O' Books

Vicki said...

I haven't read of your books, I've just recently gotten interested in cozies. I love the covers of your books!

How neat that you worked for a producer of Antiques Road Show! My hubby and I love that show!

Evie said...

Sounds like a great read! Growing apples in a small town in England-can't imagine a more beautiful setting! :) would love to read it
Thanks for the Cozy Wednesday, ladies! Great job!

E.A. West said...

Bitter Harvest sounds like a great book! How awesome that you were able to use your personal experiences to weave what sounds like a fascinating mystery.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Sheila first of all you have a rocking name :) LOL

Secondly - the book sounds good... I have to try more of these reads.

I also do a lot of fundraising... always looking for tips.

dollycas aka Lori said...

I am so happy to have Sheila here today and you have left her some really nice comments.

Thank you all for dropping by today!!!

Darlene said...

I haven't read any of the other books in the Orchard Mystery series, so I'm off to the library to see if they have them!

Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

Na said...

Hi Sheila :)
I just love cold cases! The older the better.
Sometimes I watch The Antique Road Show and I am always fascinated at some of the history behind some of the items. It's fun to watch and learn.

Victoria Zumbrum said...

Hi, Sheila. Thanks for your giveaway. Your book sounds very good. Tore923@aol.com

samantha35 said...

HI Shelia- I love this series~ cant wait to read this one


hugbandit7 said...

Oh my these sound like good books. I love cozies and am intrigued about how there is no murder in the mystery!

You can be sure I'm adding these series to my TBR pile (which gets bigger and bigger by the day!)

Yvonne said...

I have both series in my TBR and can't wait to start them.

ann said...

Sounds like a great book I would enjoy reading. I also like the book cover and the title of it

amhengst at verizon dot net

Anonymous said...

Shelia, it is nice to hear what helped an author to write a book and these sure make for a great story.

I can't wait to read the book.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shelia! Your book sounds great. I love a good mystery. Thanks to Dollycas's Thoughts for introducing me to a new author. Thanks for the giveaway!


Krystal Larson said...

Thank you for the great giveaway! edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

Becky said...

I am looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

mamabunny13 said...

Sounds like a great mystery!

Patricia said...

Hi, Sheila - Thank you for all the interesting bits of news and discoveries! Always nice to know what makes a creation!

Somehow it seems fitting that you held a position as a Professional Genealogist, and then one with the Antiques Road Show; yes, definitely fitting....

I thank you and Lori for the opportunity of this Giveaway! I look forward to reading this book - win or lose on the Giveaway!

My email: madley (AT) cogeco (DOT) ca

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Sheila...this looks like a fun book. I like how you get your inspiration for unexpected places. I'd love to read this one. Best of luck.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

DarcyO said...

Sheila, your background is very impressive. I'm putting the Orchard Mysteries on my TBR list. Thanks for the giveaway, Dollycas!

Stacie said...

I love this series. Can't wait to read the latest adventure. I am a certified genealogist & a member of the DAR, this books sounds like it will be perfect for me. Thank you so much for combining all of my passions into one book. I love your museum mysteries too.

Thanks for the giveaway!


Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

ooo Sheila this is intriguing ~ i luv that you researched stats with the police chief! and wrote accordingly ..
i'm quite sure your varied occupations have been huge contibutors to your thinking and writing. and we're the beneficiaries! many thanks!
and to Penguin for the gvway!

Kelly L said...

Sheila - I can't wait to read the book and catch up with Meg! I love the idea of her finding the sampler and researching it like you did for Antiques Roadshow - how interesting.

Thanks for writing such great books and thanks to Dollycas for such a great giveaway.


Margaret said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!

Carol N Wong said...

Hi Sheila, I got introdused to your series via the library and have some of your books on my 'to buy " and more on my "wish list". I love your books.


Luvdaylilies said...

I am just beginning to read your series and I must say I love your books!
Thanks for sharing your time and I look forward to the newest book=)
Luvdaylilies at bellsouth dot net

Nancye said...

This sounds like a great book! I would LOVE to win a copy!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Sounds like a great book!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net