Self-Published Saturday/Songbird

Self-Published Saturday (SPS) is my effort to help self-published and indie authors with the heavy task of marketing their books. Self-published authors have to do it all, from cover design to marketing and more. This is my effort to take a bit of that load and help promote their books on a Saturday. This week, Saturday got away from me because life happens, so I’m actually putting SPS up on a Sunday today. The spirit of SPS is the same, Saturday or Sunday. Please share these books on your social media, so all of your followers can see these great books as well. Today’s first review is of Songbird, a wonderful cozy historical mystery by Gail Meath set in New York City, 1923.

Following the review is a short Q&A with the author, Gail Meath.

FULL DISCLOSURE

I am the editor of this particular book. I wanted to make sure you had full knowledge of that before you read my review. My review is honest and my opinions are my own. This was my first editing adventure, and I want to thank Gail Meath for allowing me the opportunity. I am planning to start freelance editing next year and am doing a few editing jobs right now free of charge in order to gain experience. So let me know if need any help!

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Normally I come up with a paragraph describing the book on my own. But Gail Meath’s description is so good I couldn’t possibly come up with anything better, and it’s so clever I wanted to share it with you. So here is the book description written by Gail Meath.

**********************************************************************

Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective. Or is he? Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission. Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look. And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it. Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a fantasically fun cozy mystery set in 1923 New York. The characters don’t just jump off the page, they pull you into their world. Jax’s sidekick, Ace, the wonderfully charming German Shepherd, will make his way into your heart in no time. The setting in 1923 New York City is well described and transports us back to that place and time. The portrayal of Coney Island makes you feel as if you are there, hanging on for dear life in the Steeplechase or winning a prize in the baseball toss. The mystery is so well done, with puzzles and red herrings that will keep you guessing. The main characters are complex and interesting. Jax, private investigator and former cop, has his own secrets to keep, and Laura’s talents are revealed to expand way beyond singing.

There is a sweet romance, but the complex and fascinating mystery is the star of the show, along with the lovable Ace. I highly recommend this book, the first in the Jax Diamond Mysteries series, to all mystery fans and to anyone who loves reading about our canine friends.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Songbird will be released November 11, 2021.

Q&A WITH GAIL MEATH

Songbird is a fun cozy mystery, and a little more lighthearted than your complex and wonderful previous historical novels, such as Agustina De Aragon and Countess Jacqueline.  Where did you get the inspiration for Songbird

 A while back, I found and fell in love with the cover, and I knew that I had to write a book around it.  Over the summer, I had so much fun researching the Roaring Twenties era; the story just became a reflection of how I envisioned life on Broadway back then.  And it was a nice break from writing about the struggles of war.   

The series is set in 1923 in New York City.  Did you face any challenges in setting a mystery during this time and place?  

Choosing New York City made research easier than other places since it is one of the largest cities.  And I found tons of information regarding historical restaurants, speakeasies, theaters, etc.  There was so much more I wanted to include in the book, but I didn’t want to distract from the story.

Your description of Coney Island is fascinating and the rides sound like deadly fun.  Seriously, I’m not sure how anyone survived some of these rides.  Was there a lot of research material available for 1923 Coney Island?  

Like the rest the city, there was a great deal of research, but none of the articles tells you more about the Coney Island Amusement Park than the video I found.  It is a hoot!  Note from Bonnie: Please check out the link here of old 1920s Coney Island rides. You won’t want to miss it, and you will also be wondering how anyone survived! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wz5vZmU8Dc&t=47s

One of your main characters is a German Shepherd, and he is delightful!  Was it challenging to make an animal a major part of the story, and do you have any dogs yourself?  

I am an avid animal lover and have a little Boston Terrier now.  Years ago, as soon as I married and moved to the country, I adopted Gretchen, the most beautiful, loyal and loving friend I’ve ever had.  She even saved my son’s life once.   She is still sorely missed, so it was very easy and fun finding a place for her as Ace in this book.

Was Gretchen a German Shepherd?

Yes, Gretchen was a shepherd, and she looked just like the pic I have of Ace under the covers in the book.

It appears there will be a sequel to Songbird.  Can you confirm that? 

 BLACKSTONE, Jax Diamond Mysteries – Book 2, should be ready in March and takes place in New England, but I’m not done with BROADWAY yet (Book 3)

Thank you Gail, for another great interview and for answering my questions today on short notice!

PRE-ORDER SONGBIRD

Amazon US

Amazon UK

COVER RATING

I love this cover. You instantly know you are in the 1920’s, and Ace and Jax are represented by the cards in the left corner. Very well done. The cover was done before the book, which is unusual, but as Gail stated above, it served as inspiration for the story.

*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Sick Days and Smiles

Harold (top) and Hermann (lower level)

Harold loves his brother Hermann and likes to be as close to him as possible. Here’s a double decker of dachshunds. Next to them on the couch and out of the picture is me, recuperating from some kind of nasty bug I picked up over the weekend. I’m definitely not ready for the camera. I have been sick for five days, but my husband and the pups are keeping me company. The doctors don’t know what I have, but I have a list of symptoms as long as my arm. They tested me for Covid even though I had the vaccine. They also tested for flu and strep. All negative. So they sent me home with some antibiotics, some steroids, and a shrug. I’ll probably never know what it is, but it’s the second sickest I’ve ever been. I was too sick to read for a couple of days. Now I have even more reading to catch up on. But at least I have some friendly and furry company.

#Book Review: The Thin Place

This was another book I reviewed for the May issue of Historical Novels Review, and it was also an Editor’s Choice.

Scotland, present day. Reporter Ava is working on a story about Overtoun Bridge, outside Overtoun House in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Over the years, at least fifty dogs have jumped to their deaths from the bridge. Legends describe Overtoun Bridge as a “thin place,” where the boundary between Heaven and Earth is very thin. The locals will not cooperate, so Ava, pregnant with her first child, begins to investigate. Ava is also trying to get medical history from her mother, who was adopted, but she is uncooperative.

In 1929 England, Marion meets Hamish at a tea dance at the Savoy Hotel. She is swept quickly into marriage and is soon living in the huge and mostly unused Overtoun House in Scotland, sometimes visited by a very absent husband who has little love to share with her.

In 1949 in Scotland, Constance is confined to her room by her mother because she is very ill. Her mother and the doctor are the only people she sees, and she longs for contact with the outside world. When her mother brings her a puppy, some joy comes into her life.

This is a captivating but chilling historical mystery which combines the very real Overtoun house with fictional characters to create an intriguing story. The reports of dogs jumping to their deaths from Overtoun Bridge are heartbreaking but true facts that are spun into this fascinating mystery. The characters are well developed, and their connections begin to come alive. Overtoun House itself becomes a character, alternating between telling secrets and refusing to give them up. The bridge seems to live and breathe, hoping to lure captors to their deaths. This is a spellbinding novel that I highly recommend to those who enjoy historical mysteries with a touch of the paranormal.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review. My review is voluntary.

NOTE: The mystery of dogs jumping off of the Overtoun Bridge is very real. At least 300, if not more, dogs have inexplicably jumped off the bridge. At least 50 of them have died. If you would like to read more about this mystery, check out this link.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.D. Major

C.D.Major is the pen name of Cesca Major – a novelist and screenwriter. 

Cesca has always been fascinated by mysteries from the recent past. 

Her book THE OTHER GIRL was a number 1 Amazon Bestseller and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award in 2021. It’s a historical thriller perfect for members of a book club. Set in an asylum in 1940s New Zealand it is inspired by the strange phenomenon of children claiming to have past life memories. Her latest book, set in the present day, THE THIN PLACE is based around the sinister happenings at Overtoun Bridge in Scotland – a place where dogs have been known to leap to their deaths. 

Cesca has presented shows for ITV West and Sky Channels in the past. She enjoys hosting or speaking on festival panels and films vlogs about the writing process. She runs writing retreats twice a year in the West Country and teaches creative writing courses for the Henley School of Art. She writes uplifting books under her own name and the pseudonym Rosie Blake, and currently has an original TV series in development. Cesca lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and twin girls.

She loves to hear from readers so please feel free to send her a message over at Twitter or Instagram.

Website

BUY THE THIN PLACE (Kindle Unlimited Members can Read and Listen to Audiobook for Free!)

Harold (the puppy)

Harold, our adorable wire-hair dachshund puppy, has recently turned one, which I guess makes him no longer a puppy. However, he’ll always be our puppy. I attempted a Tanka about him below. A Tanka is 31 syllables. The first line is 5, second line 7, third line 5, and the last two are 7.

Harold, our beloved puppy, just turned One.

HAROLD

He is one year old
Cute black and white ball of fur
Giant dark brown eyes
Melts your heart in an instant
With unconditional love.

I’ve told this story before, but the story of our puppy Harold is amazing to us. My husband had always wanted a wire-haired dachshund since we saw them on the Westminster Dog Show. They are hard to find and can be expensive. My Dad, Harold, died in 2019. He loved dogs and owned a couple of dachshunds in his day. So when we saw a wire-hair dachshund puppy advertised online, and saw that the breeder had named him Harold, it felt meant to be. However, a big expense came up unexpectedly and we weren’t able to afford him. Dachshunds are popular dogs and he is a piebald wire-hair as well, so we thought he’d be snapped up immediately before we could get him. Two months later, I happened to notice online that Harold was still available. We had the funds, so we texted the breeder, and after a trip to South Carolina, we had our Harold. It is amazing to me because ever since then I’ve watched this breeder’s page and the dogs are all gone immediately, sometimes even before birth. I really feel like Dad saved him for us, and he has been a joy.


This is Harold operating at his normal speed, while his brother Hermann watches him go.