Monthly Archives: July 2013

What’s So Funny About Murder? Gina Conroy Talks Her Use of Humor in Crime Fiction

Digging Up Death

…and Her Latest Release, DIGGING UP DEATH

I hear author Gina Conroy has been keeping a diary since second grade. I think a lot of writers start out writing in some manner at a very early age. I love to chat with writers who have been in love with the written word for years and I’ve been looking forward to this interview simply because the subject interests me a great deal: humor in murder mystery writing.

Nike: So, I’ll just get on with it and get to the questions. It’s great to have you here on the hot seat.

Gina: Um, hot seat? Thanks, I think…

Nike: Your heroine, archaeology professor Mari Duggins, has an awful lot going on in her life. It seems she’s in a whirlwind. Did you find that frantic pace lent itself to utilizing humor in the story?

Gina: Honestly, when writing the story I didn’t consider the frantic pace would lend to humor. In fact, I think the subject matter and hectic life Mari leads is anything but funny. Instead, it’s weighty, but it’s the characters and their personalities that make the story humorous. It’s their unique perspective and dialogue and reactions to their world around them and how they cope with that world that brings out the humor. I believe it’s human nature to find the funny in a life that can be burdensome, especially in this story. So I guess the answer to your question is yes, the frantic pace did lend itself to humor in the story.

Nike: The cover is wonderful and intriguing. Makes me think this is going to be a fun murder mystery. Is that what you had intended?

Gina: I did not envision a cartoonish cover, but I love it! When the designer asked for ideas I sent pictures of real life models in stylish dresses in grave yards or holding shovels. That was my idea, but I think the cover captures the humorous side of DIGGING UP DEATH.

Nike: How did you come up with your main character Mari Duggins? Does she resemble anyone in your real life?

Gina: Mari is a compilation of every working mom with a dream, including myself. Though most of her circumstances are different from my own, I was able to pull her emotions from my life and from others. Though I don’t work outside the home, I am a mom of four trying to build a writing career and I often feel pulled in many different directions. Many times mom guilt rises when I focus on my writing, and when I’m focusing on family, I sometimes feel I’m not working my writing career hard enough. So she’s not crafted after anyone specific, but you can say she represents all moms struggling to find balance in their lives.

Nike: What inspired you to write this story? And what would you like readers to get out of it?

Gina: At the time I was homeschooling my children and we started on an ancient Egypt unit, we stumbled upon the fascinating Pharaoh Hatshepsut who though a woman crowned herself pharaoh. Her history and the fact her name was etched out on most of her cartouche’s in an effort to erase her from history and her mummy was missing told me there had to be something more to her story. So we dug into her history and about that time Egyptologists thought they found her missing mummy. It was the perfect backdrop to a modern mystery. Then Mari Duggins showed up with all her baggage with Fletcher and Jack, her ex husband, an idea was born.

After reading DIGGING UP DEATH, I hope readers will take away with them that while life is hard and crazy, we don’t have to do it alone. We have friends, family, and a God who loves and forgives us even if we can’t forgive ourselves. We don’t have to hide behind masks because we’re afraid to show people who we really are. We just need to know who we can trust and who brings out the best in us. And though our lives may not go according to our plans, they are our lives, and we can find the good in it amidst the chaos and ugly.

Tell us about your novel, DIGGING UP DEATH.

DIGGING UP DEATH is about a single mom struggling from the emotional turmoil of a divorce she didn’t see coming as she tries to balance a career and raise her three children. It’s about a woman who wears masks to hide her pain and who she really is from the world and from God. On her journey to self discovery, forgiveness, and healing she stubbles upon a murder, a stolen Egyptian artifact and must wrestle with the pull of an old lover and an ex-husband who’s wanted by the FBI. Mari Duggins seldom makes the right choices, but comes to learn she can’t keep fighting on her own and must surrender to God to find her self worth I know the subject matter seems heavy, but I hope it’s infused with enough humor, faith, mystery and quirky characters to balance that out.

Purchase Links:

KINDLE
NOOK
KOBO
iTUNES

Gina ConroyWhere Gina can be found on the internet.

Facebook: Author Gina Conroy
Twitter: @GinaConroy
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http://ginaconroy.com

gina@ginaconroy.com


Recipes From the Kitchens of Sanctuary Point

Baking, Apfelstrudel, Apple Strudel

Some say I write “Foodie Fiction,” while others say I’m a crime fictionista. I’m okay with both of those. How about I’m a crime fictionista who writes foodie fic that also happens to be action packed, classic, historical whodunits with romance set in the mid-1940s?

Whatever the case may be, I love to pour over recipes. And here are two favorite recipes of mine that would’ve been used my characters in my Sanctuary Point series.

Apple Strudel is mouth watering. My paternal grandmother used to make this delicacy and our entire family enjoyed it so much. It’s a fairly complex confection to bake. There is several steps to it. The end result is well worth the effort. An amazing thing happened after I had finished writing BURNING HEARTS and my editor had the manuscript. I was reading it over and realized Mrs. Brogna was amazingly like my grandmother. I remember my grown father stealing a confection before she was ready to set it out on the table. She smacked him on the behind with a towel and chased my dad around the kitchen table while he laughed. That is something Mrs. Brogna would do.

Apfelstrudel – If I had Mrs. Brogna’s old-fashioned apple strudel recipe, this would be it.

Apple Strudel Dough:

2 ½ C flour

¼ tsp. salt

2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil

13 tbsp. water

1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl.

2. Stir with a spoon until the dough forms a ball.

3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky.

4. Form the dough into a ball and coat it with additional oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour.

5. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a 9X13 rectangle.

6. Keep surface well-floured and gently flip the dough rectangle, keeping the long side toward you. Roll out as thinly as you can without breaking the dough. About 3 ft. X 2 ft. or slightly more.

Apple Strudel Filling:

½ C dark raisins

6  medium to large chopped, peeled and cored Granny Smith apples (not as fine as diced)

¾ C granulated sugar

1 tsp. lemon zest (grated lemon rind)

4 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Mix all ingredients together.

Preparing the Apple Strudel:

1 C melted butter

½ C white unseasoned breadcrumbs

1. Brush dough with slightly more than half the melted butter.

2. Evenly sprinkle the buttered dough with breadcrumbs.

3. Spread the filling along the longest edge of the dough as if it were a log.

4. Begin to roll the dough and the log of filling, slowly and gently.

5. Place the rolled strudel seam down in a horseshoe shape on a greased baking sheet.

6. Brush the remaining butter over the top of the strudel. Sprinkle a tiny bit of granulated sugar    on top.

7.Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

BH, Paper Back

BURNING HEARTS:

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with had fallen in the WWII, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her close friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs

Amazon/Print and Kindle. http://amzn.to/1b9pulE

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/16A4y0b

Kolache

Kolacke (the precursor of Linzer Tarts)

Renata Lenart made hers with raspberry jam and served them on New Year’s Day in GOODBYE NOEL, the Christmas/New Years themed novel in the Sanctuary Point series. If I had Renata Lenart’s recipe, this is what it would be.

1/2 C butter, softened
1 small package cream cheese (3 oz.), softened
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C jam (raspberry, strawberry, or apricot)
1/4 C confectioners’ sugar

1. Cream butter and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer, until fluffy. Add flour, and mix well.

2. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut into circles with a 2-inch round cutter.

3. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon of the jam on each cookie; fold opposite sides together slightly overlapping edges.

4. Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes.

5. Remove to wire racks to cool; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still warm.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Goodbye Noel

GOODBYE NOEL:

The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies?

Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother’s flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she’s willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant’s best interests at heart, even the man she’s growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.

Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he’s drawn to. Is there’s something he’s overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to/11L4fUc

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/18TPVLc

Do you love delish baked goods? Love to pour through recipes? I especially love to do that right before a holiday. I’ll pile up stacks of cookbooks, some of them quite old, many of them with outstanding food photography. Then about a week before the holiday I’ll make myself a strong cup of black tea (perhaps Irish) and spend hours looking through recipes and making my holiday menu.

Nike. Pix

Do you enjoy reading “foodie fiction”?

What do you love about baking and baked goods?

Leave a comment…


They Claimed Their Independence

Flag, American

I like the notion of the thirteen colonies claiming independence. Taking their independence as a free people.

On July 4, 1776 , the people of the American thirteen colonies exercised their God given authority to be a free people. They declared it and they took it as theirs. Then they began to walk that out…and as a nation we’ve been walking that out ever since. Yes, the road has been bumpy. It’s had pitfalls and tears, but we created a society that had never existed before in all of human history as a free people. We created a society where the individual can strive and aspire to fulfill her or his God given passions, his or her unique talents and abilities. And this is a good thing!

And so with pride for my country in my heart, I wish all American people and especially my loved ones a blessed Independence Day. Let us remember the true meaning of this day: liberty, freedom (especially of speech and religion), and the personal responsibility free people bear.

May you have a happy, healthy day with loved ones. And when the celebrating is done today, may you remember there is great work to be done to preserve the traditional values of this great nation: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Perhaps I should clarify. The pursuit of happiness as defined by our founding fathers and mothers didn’t mean the pursuit of some momentary pleasure, but rather it meant that each American had the right to make her or his own legacy. And this is what I wish for all Americans today. Get up, live large, make a name for yourself, help others.

Below is a link where you can read the Declaration of Independence:

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html


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