Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Keeping Mum by Alyse Carlson: Guest Author/Giveaway

Keeping Mum

What's A Little Murder Among Friends?

Camellia Harris, my sleuth in The Garden Society Mysteries set in Roanoke, Virginia, has a sidekick, as is the tradition in Cozy Mysteries, but Cam has a little sumpin sumpin that I haven't seen much of, so I thought I'd talk a bit about the TEAM. Each of Cam's friends has a role that has propelled the sleuthing forward... or hindered it... depending on the book and the preconceptions of that particular character in that particular situation.

The overall dynamic though, is FUN. So I wanted to give you all a mini-intro to the “Fearless Foursome”

Cam:  Cam Harris is a practical, hard-working girl. She fell in love with gardening as a child because her mother was an avid gardener, and professionally, she has gone into public relations, so she feels extremely lucky to be working managing public relations for the Roanoke Garden Society (of which her deceased mother was a founding member).  Cam's primary character flaw is also her greatest professional asset—she tends to spin things into the best light, so the lines of truth are just a little bit fuzzy—but she is a loyal friend and family member, and she is smart and willing to do what is necessary when those she loves inevitably find themselves in trouble.

Annie: Some serious, practical people really NEED someone in their life who is sort of goofy, willing to push the boundaries, and who just urges them to laugh more and take life a little less seriously. For Cam, this is Annie. Cam and Annie have been best friends since middle school and Annie is the Yin to Cam's Yang. They are outwardly opposite, but fit together perfectly as friends. Cam likes to plan. Annie improvises. Cam is tidy, Annie is a tornado. Cam generally follows the rules and Annie has burned the rulebook. She doesn't endorse such nonsense.

Rob: is Cam's long-time boyfriend. He is a sports reporter, but of late he has managed to get the scoop on a couple murder stories. Cam and Rob met at a Young Media Professionals meeting (in fact more details to this story appear in this book), and Rob and Cam have a fair bit in common. They are both driven and ambitious, both have the 'snoop bug' (or they wouldn't have gone into their fields) and they both enjoy figuring out a puzzle. The place they come into conflict is that Cam has a vested interest in the story flattering her client, where Rob's interest is always in the truth. As a sports reporter, Rob is also an athlete, though only for fun these days, but his speed and agility have not gone amiss in this series.

Jake: Joaquin Moreno, or Jake, was originally just a teammate of Rob's on their city league baseball team, but as a police officer, during the first murder Cam encountered, he ended up a helpful friend or foil, depending on the moment, and in the end he was Annie's boyfriend, so he's been integrated into the group. Of the group, Jake most often plays Cam's foil, as he doesn't like the amateurs sleuthing, but he has good resources when he can be convinced, and Annie knows how to convince him to help now and then. Besides that, Cam acknowledges that Jake is good for Annie—he cares about her and is good to her, providing some much-needed grounding.

The Joys and Challenges of Sleuthing by Committee

I think with this many players involved, it has opened up doors for VARIETY in sources and clues. Both Rob and Jake have legitimate sources because of their careers, and Annie, the sneak, can sometimes get her hands on information she really shouldn't have, which leaves Cam to ask questions, but gives her some other tools in her box, too. It also means more can be communicated through dialog, which I enjoy [especially the Cam/Annie dialog—that stuff is a hoot to write].

On the other hand it also provides some challenges in 'directing' [wait, did he know that yet?] and figuring out ways to make sure everyone is informed without repeating the story three times.

Overall though, I hope this set of characters is one that most readers can say, “I'd really like to hang out with these guys for a while.” I know I would, though honestly, Annie channels my online persona and two people together with that inability to behave are surely asking for trouble.


Blurb: Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’s job to promote them. But when a political fundraiser turns deadly, everyone’s a candidate for murder...

Cam and her best friend, Annie, are planning a gala for a local Senate candidate—a murder mystery themed silent auction where the guests bid on who will be the night’s “victim.” Coordinating a beautiful display of fall flowers and planning the perfect fake crime is hard enough, but with a guest list that is a “who’s who” of the Roanoke elite, Cam has her hands full navigating the egos and grudges of her high society guests.

When local financial tycoon Derrick Windermere is found dead next to a shattered pot of chrysanthemums, the night’s fun and games quickly turn serious. Half the guests had good reason to want Windermere dead, but only one is suspiciously missing in action—Annie’s father. Now Cam will not only have to figure out which partygoer is a killer, but find her friend’s father before all their reputations end up dragged through the mud...

Keeping Mum is the third book in The Garden Society Cozy Mystery Series:  Cam and Annie are simultaneously roped into organizing a political fundraiser, so Annie suggests they have fun with it and hold a murder mystery supper. There is nothing that could go wrong with that...  but when someone other than the intended victim turns up dead and an important guest goes missing, they have some sleuthing to do.

Alyse Carlson is the pen name for Hart Johnson. Alyse writes books from her bathtub. A social scientist by day, Hart spends her evenings plotting grand conspiracies and murdering people on paper. You can learn more about her at her blog:

Giveaway: Leave a comment (don't forget your email address!) by noon EST on March 10, and you will be entered to win a copy of Keeping Mum. U.S. entries only.


  1. I love how you gave the back story on all the characters. Seeing in one spot how they all bring their specialties to the TEAM makes the reading all the more interesting. I really appreciate that.

  2. I love the cover! After months of miserably cold temps and hugh piles of snow in MN it gives me hope that we may have spring eventually!

  3. I would love to win! sarah2323 at gmail dot com

  4. Hi ya Hart! I love this series. And this is a new blog for me. I love all the kitties!

  5. I love this series !

  6. Sounds like a good cozy.


  7. In other words, with four characters it's like keeping four stories straight.


  8. "Alyse Carlson is the pen name for Hart Johnson. Alyse writes books from her bathtub. A social scientist by day, Hart spends her evenings plotting grand conspiracies and murdering people on paper."
    That is enough to have me eager to read the book!

  9. Hey, gang! Alyse here. with my other hat on!

    Patricia-glad it works for you! I worry some readers prefer to get all that stuff organically, but I love this team.

    Karen-in Michigan myself, so I hear you! First draft was written in summer, so hopefully the heat comes through!

    *waves at Holly*

    Alex, I don't know how straight I keep everything... it is a bit twisted sometimes...

    Thanks to everyone else! And thank you Melissa for hosting me!

  10. This sounds like a great mystery, and with so many characters it must make for lots of twists and turns!

  11. What a fun post! This story sounds great, the series has been on my TBR. I just love the cover!

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com

  12. I enjoyed the rundown of Cam's team! Thanks for the chance to win!

  13. I love this series! Can't wait to read this one.


  14. I would love to hang out with these four characters! The characters are always what keep me coming back for more. I also love the storyline of a real murder at a murder mystery supper! Love to win and thank you!

  15. How fun! Plan a murder mystery dinner and lose a politician; what an interesting storyline. I can really get into this one. michelle_willms at yahoo dot com.

  16. It sounds like a wonderful read. I love the book's setting and the characters. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  17. I enjoyed the 1st book in this series!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  18. I love this series, and enjoyed the story.

  19. What a pretty cover! I'd love to start reading this series! Thank you!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  20. After all this snow and cold in this area---not that far away from the book's local, reading a cozy with flowers would be a real treat!!

  21. I have the first in the series. The colors on this cover are nice and different than the pink on the first in the series. Ooh, and there's a cat on the cover, too!


  22. Since reading cozies and gardening are two of my favorite hobbies, I really MUST read this series. I can read now, but I think the gardening will have to wait until the snow melts.