Tag Archives: Cindy Brown

Not the Usual Suspects organized by Cindy Brown

We are Not the Usual Suspects, a group of Pacific Northwest mystery writers who have banded together to contemplate life, mystery and of course, murder. Though not all of our mysteries are set in the Northwest, we all agree that living here inspires our writing.

I’m Cindy Brown, author of the Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. I grew up in Washington State, spent 20+ years in Arizona, then moved back to the northwest. Though my books are mostly set in Arizona, my writing is definitely influenced by living here. Three big reasons:

Rain. I LOVE the rain. I love the way it makes me want to stay inside and write and read while it drums on the roof. I feel like it’s watering my soul.

The Reading and Writing Culture. People here read. On the bus, in the parks, even while walking down the sidewalk. You’re as likely to have a conversation about the latest bestseller as you are to talk about a hit TV show.

The Sensuality of the Seasons. I knew that I missed the seasons when I lived in AZ, but I’d forgotten the smell of violets, the slow circling fall of a leaf from the tree, and how wonderful homemade chicken soup tastes on a cold winter day. I definitely think that experiencing this present sense of place makes me a better writer.

I’m Kate Dyer-Seeley and I write the Pacific Northwest Mysteries featuring a very bumbling young journalist who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme magazine, when in reality her idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.

I’ve lived in the NW for my entire life and love getting to give readers a glimpse into this corner of the world. Here are three of my favorite things that sum up the Northwest and why it’s prime for mystery writing.

Beer—Portland, Oregon is known as the microbrew capital of the world. Quite literally you can walk a block in any direction and run into a pub. The best way to puzzle through putting a plot together is over a cold pint on one of the city’s many outdoor patios on a sunny, spring day.

Wild West—There’s an element of the Wild West that permeates life here. I think it’s naturally in our DNA, leftover from brave settlers who ventured to this unknown territory, and maybe because there’s an abundance of opportunity to connect with nature and get outside. From Portland you can drive a few hours and end up on the Oregon Coast, in the Cascade Mountains, Columbia River Gorge, or even the high dessert. People embrace individuality and adventure, which makes for great material.

Weather—Portland’s ever-changing weather always finds a way into my writing, but the rain and gloomy skies during the winter rarely stop people from getting outside. You grab a raincoat, pull on some boots and hit the trail. Just don’t bring an umbrella!

I’m Kelly Garrett, author of the upcoming YA mystery The Last To Die, which features an anti-hero protagonist that lives by her own honor code. My short story “Sage Advice” is Poisoned Pen Press’ anthology Bound By Mystery, which came out in March 2017, and it features a twenty-something-year-old hipster obsessed with coffee and extremely good at fixing problems.

As a native Oregonian, I love showcasing the state in my writing. As someone who grew up in rural areas of the state, it’s natural that my protagonists tend to be slightly sarcastic women (or teenage girls) with a strong sense of self-reliance.

Rain is one of my favorite things. It makes coffee taste better. The continual pattering of rain on the roof is a lullaby at night. Added bonus: when your Subaru is covered in mud from a few jaunts into the backcountry, the rain does an excellent job softening up the dirt stuck to your car, making it easier to clean.

One thing I love about the book scene in Oregon is that you can find amazing independent bookstores all over the state. I grew up behind a rare-and-used bookstore that I visited often as a teenager. Small towns from Baker City to Lincoln City, from Ashland to Astoria, all have bookstores with curated selections.

I’m Angela M. Sanders. Take a wilderness rich with indigenous people; add a few decades of intrepid pioneers in covered wagons; sprinkle with a century of loggers, fishermen, and hopeful immigrants; and toss in some graying hippies and tattooed hipsters. Stir well. Add a pinch of tech engineers and footwear designers imported from around the globe, and you get the people who make up Northwest Oregon. Two of my series take place here: one featuring a vintage clothing store owner in Portland; and one centering around a kite shop on the Oregon coast (written under my pen name, Clover Tate). I love Northwest Oregon for this mix of old school and high tech. I adore our famous independent streak and our optimism. I salute our focus on individuality. Neither series would be the same in a different setting.


About the authors
Not the Usual Suspects is a group of rain-soaked, caffeine-fueled, slightly quirky mystery writers from the Pacific Northwest who are inspired by its setting and/or sensibility. They include Cindy Brown, Kate Dyer-Seeley, Kelly Garrett, and Angela M. Sanders. They hang out together on Facebook at Not The Usual Suspects.

Giveaway: 4 books! The winner will receive e-copies (Nook or Kindle) of Oliver Twisted (Cindy Brown), First Degree Mudder (Kate Dyer-Seeley), Bound by Mystery (Kelly Garrett), and Blown Away (Angela M. Sanders/Clover Tate). Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends April 21, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Cover Reveal ~ Ivy Get Your Gun by Cindy Brown

It is my pleasure to reveal the cover for the fourth book in the “Ivy Meadows” humorous mystery series, coming May 16, 2017.

ivy-get-your-gun

Title: IVY GET YOUR GUN
Series: Ivy Meadows #4
Genre: Humorous Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Website: Cindy Brown


There’s a new sheriff in town—and she can sing!

When Gold Bug Gulch’s actor-gunslinger Mongo winds up shot for real, actress and part-time PI Ivy Meadows goes undercover as the ingénue in the tourist town’s melodrama. Unfortunately, she’s distracted by a pack of marauding Chihuahuas, a problematic love life, auditions for Annie Get Your Gun, and a personal mission: to show people the real Annie Oakley.

What’s more, the no-good, yellow-bellied varmint who killed Mongo isn’t finished with the Gulch—or with Ivy. Will our heroine prove she CAN get a man with a gun—before the killer gets her?

About the author
Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of the Agatha-nominated Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.

She’d love to connect with readers at cindybrownwriter.com.


Ivy Get Your Gun is available for pre-order at retail and online booksellers starting February 20, 2017.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a Kindle or Nook copy of Macdeath. The giveaway will end February 21, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A New Case For Ivy Meadows by Cindy Brown

Oliver TwistedI was in a snit. To begin, with, August sucked. By then Phoenix had seen more than three months of over-100-degree days. Electricity bills were the highest of the whole year, even if you kept your ancient air conditioner at eighty-five degrees. It was too hot to take public transit, even if your registration was expired because your stupid car hadn’t passed emissions and you didn’t have the money to fix it. And this August was particularly sucky because I was in a slump, acting-wise. After yet another this-close-to-getting-a-film-role day, my uncle Bob tried to cheer me up by taking me to MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain.

“The director actually said I was the better actor.” I nursed my grudge with an ice cream soda, sitting across from my uncle in a dark wood booth. “But they wanted to go with a brunette.” I bit my maraschino cherry in half.

“Ha.” Uncle Bob pointed at my soda with his spoon. “That’s why you ordered Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?”

“Yeah.” I stirred my butterscotch and praline soda. “Take that, Mr. Director.”

“Seems to me like they could tell you’re not a real blonde.” My uncle snuck a look at my half-inch dark roots. “I mean, that you could be a brunette pretty easy.”

I scooted closer to the mini jukebox in our booth and flipped through the songs. They were all too happy. “Aren’t you supposed to be making me feel better?” I pressed the cool soda glass to my forehead.

Uncle Bob smiled and gave me his cherry. It did make me feel better. A little. “You want to hear about a silver lining?” he asked.

“No.”

“All right.” Uncle Bob went back to work on his banana split, which was already half gone.

“Okay. Yes.” Curiosity always won out with me.

“This morning I got a call about a job. For both of us.”

My part-time job at my uncle’s private investigation firm was the only thing keeping me financially afloat.

“Pays good, involves travel, and you get to act.”

“Right.” I was the teensiest bit gullible and Uncle Bob loved to pull my chain. I was eighteen before I realized Jackalopes weren’t real. “Hey, do you think the waiter would give me a few extra cherries?”

“I mean it about the job. Scout’s honor.” He held up three fingers in a salute. “You heard of Get Lit! cruises?”

I nodded. The high-end, literature-themed cruise line was designed to appeal to readers, to families who wanted their kids to take an interest in the classics, and to cruisers who wanted to feel like they were getting an education and a buffet. There were Shakespeare cruises and Jane Austin cruises and Mark Twain riverboat cruises, and. . .“Hey. Weren’t they the ones with the Jack London incident?”

“Yeah. But the dogs were framed.”

“Framed?” On the Alaskan cruise in question, a pack of huskies got loose and ran rampant through the dining room. The dogs were rounded up, but not before eating five hundred pounds of steak dinners, several Baked Alaskas, and a mink coat.

“The cruise line is pretty sure the dogs were a distraction. Guests reported seven thousand dollars stolen in just that half hour, both off their persons and from their in-room safes. Phones and jewelry, mostly.”

“And we’re supposed to find out who’s behind this knavery?”

“You been reading Shakespeare again?”

I had.

Get Lit! thinks the thefts are organized. They want a team, one to go undercover as a rich guest, and the other to pose as a crewmember. A performer would be best, they said. But I should warn you; the job could be dangerous. That’s why they’re paying so well.”

“But screw your courage to the sticking place and we’ll not fail.”

My uncle scraped the last bit of fudge sauce from the bottom of his banana split dish. “Time to get Shakespeare outa your head. We’re gonna be on a Dickens-themed ship, the S.S. David Copperfield. You’ll be playing Nancy from Oliver Twist.”

“Please sir, I want some—” I tried to flag down the bow-tied waiter to get a few cherries for the road.

“You familiar with Dickens?” asked Uncle Bob.

“Sort of.” I knew The Muppets Christmas Carol and could dredge up a fuzzy memory of the movie musical Oliver!, but that was about it.

“You won’t have much time to prep. We sail Monday.”

“Yikes.” I was a quick study, but. . .

“I nearly forgot. We get paid no matter what happens, but there’s a ten thousand dollar bonus if we find something that’ll stand up in court.”

“Ten thousand each?” I could get my car fixed. Maybe even get a new one.

“Each.”

A paid gig on a cruise ship with one of my favorite people in the world, plus the female lead in a musical, and the promise of a ten thousand dollar bonus if my uncle and I did our work well. What self-respecting actor/private investigator wouldn’t be thrilled?


Oliver Twisted is the third book in the Ivy Meadows mystery series, published by Henery Press, June 2016.

Orphans. Thieves. Murder. And an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

When Ivy Meadows lands a gig with the book-themed cruise line Get Lit!, she thinks she’s died and gone to Broadway. Not only has she snagged a starring role in a musical production of Oliver Twist, she’s making bank helping her P.I. uncle investigate a string of onboard thefts, all while sailing to Hawaii on the S.S. David Copperfield.

But Ivy is cruising for disaster. Her acting contract somehow skipped the part about aerial dancing forty feet above the stage, her uncle Bob is seriously sidetracked by a suspicious blonde, and–oh yeah, there’s a corpse in her closet.

Forget catching crooks. Ivy’s going to have a Dickens of a time just surviving.

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Cindy Brown is a theater geek, mystery lover, and professional writer who recently combined her passions to produce madcap mysteries set in the off, off, off Broadway world of theater. Macdeath, Ivy’s first adventure “a hilarious riff on an avant-garde production of the Scottish play” (Mystery Scene CindyBrownMagazine) was recently nominated for an Agatha Award for best debut novel. The second Ivy Meadows book, The Sound of Murder is “a definite delight”(Suspense Magazine) and the third book in the series, Oliver Twisted, comes out June 21, 2016. Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities. She’d love to connect with readers at cindybrownwriter.com (where they can sign up for her Slightly Silly Newsletter) or on Facebook or Twitter. Photo credit by AJC Photography.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a digital copy of Oliver Twisted. The giveaway will end June 26, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

Cover Reveal ~ Oliver Twisted by Cindy Brown

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for the third book in the “Ivy Meadows” mystery series, OLIVER TWISTED, coming out on June 21, 2016 from Henery Press.

Oliver Twisted

Title: Oliver Twisted by Cindy Brown
Series: Ivy Meadows #3
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Website: cindybrownwriter.com

Orphans. Thieves. Murder. And an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet!

When Ivy Meadows lands a gig with the book-themed cruise line Get Lit!, she thinks she’s died and gone to Broadway. Not only has she snagged a starring role in a musical production of Oliver Twist, she’s making bank helping her P.I. uncle investigate a string of onboard thefts, all while sailing to Hawaii on the S.S. David Copperfield.

But Ivy is cruising for disaster. Her acting contract somehow skipped the part about aerial dancing forty feet above the stage, her uncle Bob is seriously sidetracked by a suspicious blonde, and–oh yeah, there’s a corpse in her closet.
Forget catching crooks. Ivy’s going to have a Dickens of a time just surviving.


About the author
Cindy Brown is a theater geek, mystery lover, and professional writer who combined her passions to produce madcap mysteries set in the off, off, off Broadway world of theater. Macdeath (an CindyBrownAgatha nominee for best debut novel!), The Sound of Murder, and Oliver Twisted (coming June 2016) star Ivy Meadows, actress and part-time PI and are published by Henery Press. Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities. She’d love to connect with readers at cindybrownwriter.com (where they can sign up for her Slightly Silly Newsletter) or on Facebook or Twitter.

SOUND and MACDEATH

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a Kindle edition of Macdeath, 2015 Agatha Nominee for Best First Novel. The giveaway will end March 4, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life with Ivy Meadows by Cindy Brown

The Sound of MurderI should never do anything pre-coffee.

“It was only a teeny fire,” I told my uncle over the phone. I sat outside on the steps of my apartment complex, watching the Phoenix Fire Department carry equipment out of my second-floor apartment. Black smoke trailed behind them. The air smelled awful, like the time I’d fallen asleep in front of a campfire and melted the bottom of my sneakers. Except this smelled like an entire Nike factory.

“Teeny fire?” Uncle Bob said. “Isn’t that an oxymoron or something?”

“Nah,” I said. “That’s firefighter language for no one got hurt. Right?” I asked an especially cute guy carrying a heavy-looking hose.

“Yep,” he said over his shoulder as he passed me. “Teeny. No one hurt.”

I smiled at him again and watched him descend the stairs. On the back of his firefighter’s helmet was a sticker that said, “Be Nice.”

“Olive,” said my uncle with a sigh. “Stop flirting with firemen and tell me what happened.”

“I’m not entirely sure.” I was not a morning person. “I got up early to go to that meeting you put on my calendar.”

Since acting didn’t always pay the bills (okay, rarely paid the bills), I worked part-time at my uncle’s private investigation business. Right now I was mostly filing and writing reports, but Uncle Bob promised he was going to give me some real detective work soon.

“You got up early?” I could hear the skepticism in my uncle’s voice. “What time?”

“Eight.” There was a pause on the other end. “Ish,” I finished.

“To go to this meeting that starts in…” I could almost see him squint at the old clock on the office wall. “Twenty minutes?”

“Uh huh.”

“Right. Go on.”

“I put the kettle on the stove.” When my old coffeemaker bit the dust, I had replaced it with a French press, a much better fit for my minuscule galley kitchen. “Then I got in the shower.”

Another pause. Then, “You usually do that? Turn on the stove and get in the shower?”

“Sometimes. Then when I get out, the kettle’s boiling and I make coffee. No waiting.” Not only was I not a morning person, I was not a patient person. Especially in the morning. “Since the water was running, I didn’t hear the smoke alarm.”

“That’s why you didn’t hear the alarm? You were in the shower?” said the cute fireman, who was going back up the stairs. I nodded, though it did seem sort of obvious. I was wearing only a towel.

“So you turned on a gas stove, left the room, and put yourself in a situation where you couldn’t see or smell smoke or hear an alarm,” said Uncle Bob. I could tell he was trying to make a point. “And what happened when you got out of the shower?”

“The apartment was full of black smoke. Really nasty. I could taste it.” I scraped the top of my tongue with my front teeth. I knew I probably looked like a dog that just ate peanut butter, but I really wanted the greasy bitter smoke taste out of my mouth.

“Here,” the cute fireman came back and sat down next to me on the stairs, pulling a Day-Glo green bottle of Gatorade from a pocket in his voluminous firemen’s coat. “Helps with that awful taste,” he said, opening the bottle for me. Not only was he chivalrous, he was even better looking up close, with light brown eyes and the longest lashes I’d ever seen. I was wowed and envious at the same time.

“Thanks.” I hiked up my towel, grateful that I’d sprung for the large bath sheet. I twisted open the Gatorade. It was lukewarm, but it did make my mouth taste better. Like pleasant, lemony-limey smoke. The fireman shrugged out of his heavy firefighter’s coat. The t-shirt he wore underneath showed off strong muscled arms. I tried not to stare.

“Olive?” Uncle Bob was still on the line. “Was it really a teeny fire?”

I looked at the big fire truck and the half dozen firefighters going in and out of my apartment. “Yeah,” I replied, sticking with the definition of “no one got hurt.”

“Good. I want you at this meeting. Can you make it?”

“I’ll be there,” I said. “A little late, but I’ll make it.”

#

I didn’t make it. It wasn’t entirely my fault–the client arrived early and left just a few minutes later. The meeting wasn’t important after all, Uncle Bob said, and I believed him.

We were wrong. That meeting could have saved a man’s life.


You can read more about Ivy in The Sound of Murder, the second book in the “Ivy Meadows” theater mystery series, published by Henery Press. The first book in the series is Macdeath.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on Monday, October 12 for your chance to win a print copy of The Sound of Murder. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
CindyBrownCindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of the Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. Macdeath, Ivy’s first adventure is “a gut-splitting mystery…a hilarious riff on an avant-garde production of the Scottish play” Mystery Scene Magazine). Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities. She’d love to connect with you at cindybrownwriter.com (where you can sign up for her Slightly Silly Newsletter) or on Facebook or Twitter.
[photo credit: AJC Photograph]