Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Larissa Reinhart. She is a Humorous Cozy Mystery writer and the author of the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series.
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Humorous Cozy Mystery
Hijack in Abstract
A Cherry Tucker Mystery
Author: Larissa Reinhart
Barnes and Noble
With a classical series sold and a portrait commissioned, Cherry Tucker’s art career is in Georgia overdrive. But when the sheriff asks Cherry to draw a composite sketch of a hijacker, her life takes a hairpin as the composite leads to a related murder, her local card-sharking buddy Max Avtaikin becomes bear bait and her nemesis labels the classical series “pervert art.”
Cherry’s jamming gears between trailer parks, Atlanta mansions, and trucker bars searching for the hijacker who left a widow and orphan destitute. While she seeks to help the misfortunate and save her local reputation, Cherry’s hammer down attitude has her facing the headlights of an oncoming killer.
There are many places you don’t want to be at zero dark thirty, but I’ve got a personal top three. One is the ER. Second is a police station. The third is your ex-boyfriend’s bedroom.
Thank God Almighty I was not in number three. Stupid does catch me occasionally, but not this night. I was nowhere near an ex-boyfriend’s bedroom.
At two forty-five in the morning, I found myself in number two. The Forks County Sheriff’s Office to be accurate. My cornflower blues were a bit bloodshot and blurry, but my grin matched Shep Peterson’s, who also found himself in a similar location. However, Shep had a drunk tank grin. Mine was more of a self-congratulatory grin, born from knowing that finally someone in Forks County had recognized my accomplishments in the art world. Never mind the phone call that woke me from a dead sleep and near gave me a heart attack.
Or that I had to drive my sister’s Firebird because her vehicle was blocking my driveway. Or that I now sat in the junior officers’ room with a cold cup of coffee and had just realized I had forgotten to comb my bed-head designed blonde cowlicks in my bleary-eyed haste.
And to put on a bra.
The Forks County Sheriff, Uncle Will, needed my expertise. That’s all that mattered. And I was going to get paid.
Needed me for what was still a bit vague. I hoped nothing needing brushed hair and a bra.
* * * * *
With my messenger bag bumping my back, I hugged my chest, figuring it best not to give an extra show to Shep and the boys. I followed Uncle Will down the hallway, waiting while he unlocked a door. The door opened and two faces turned to look at us. One I didn’t recognize, but judging by his despondent expression, I figured he was probably in a mess of trouble. The other person, another deputy, I identified immediately. Hard not to recognize those brown ochre curls with the highlights I had decided were transparent oxide-red lake. Or the lean, muscled body, much like Michelangelo’s David. Or by the strong jaw buttressing two adorable dimples that made a rare showing.
Unfortunately, I knew Deputy Luke Harper a little too well.
He gave me a scant nod and turned back to the perp.
My hand snuck back to my hair and yanked on a particularly tall cowlick in back. I gritted my teeth and gave myself a quick lecture not to make a scene. We had aired our irreconcilable differences behind the local roadhouse, Red’s County Line Tap, a few months ago and I had not quite recovered.
“That’s Tyrone Coderre,” said Uncle Will. “He’s going to give you a description to draw. We need a composite sketch.”
Uncle Will stopped me before I entered the room and pulled me to the side. “Can I leave Deputy Harper in there with you or do I need to call in another officer? Harper’s the one who picked up Coderre, so this is his investigation.”
“I’m quite capable of separating my personal and professional life,” I said, tilting my chin so I could eyeball Uncle Will. “You might want to ask the same of him.”
“I trust Luke not to screw up his job. You are another story.”
I gave him a “why, I never” gasp.
“I’m going to be watching through the two-way.” He tapped my messenger bag. “Lucky for you, I don’t know other artists to call during the middle of the night. Wouldn’t want to be accused of nepotism. But I want a sketch while the memory is still fresh in Coderre’s mind. Don’t disappoint me, Cherry.”
“So, this is an important investigation?” Excitement zipped through my veins and made my fingers tingle. “I won’t let you down. You can even deputize me if you want.”
Uncle Will chuckled. “Just draw us a good picture. That’s plenty helpful.”
“Yes, sir,” I said and snuck by him to enter the room. I nodded to the man in the black sweat suit behind the table and held out my hand. “Hello, Mr. Coderre. I’m Cherry Tucker, a local artist.”
“Don’t shake his hand,” barked Luke. “Are you crazy?”
Tyrone Coderre’s cuffed hands retreated below the table, and I blew out a hard breath.
Looked like it was going to be a long night. At least the criminal had manners.
Couldn’t say the same for the cop.
Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Humor
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Growing up in a small town, Larissa Reinhart couldn't wait to move to an exotic city far from corn fields. After moving around the US and Japan, now she loves to write about rough hewn characters who live near corn fields, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble.
HIJACK IN ABSTRACT is the third in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series from Henery Press, following STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) and PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. QUICK SKETCH, a Cherry Tucker prequel to PORTRAIT, is in the mystery anthology THE HEARTACHE MOTEL (December 2013).
Larissa lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook.
SHOWCASE Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Congratulations on your book: Hijack in Abstract. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Thanks so much for having me on HBS! The next Cherry Tucker mystery, Death in Perspective, comes out June 24th, 2014. Cherry’s working at a posh, private school for the drama director, designing scenery for his avant garde musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. But the teacher’s also hired Cherry to hunt down a malicious social bully, who’s sending poisonous texts to the faculty. When the principal’s secretary commits suicide, Cherry suspects the phantom texter is using blackmail to rid the school of unwanted staff, but doesn’t know why. At the same time, Cherry searches for her missing brother whose vendetta against Halo’s High and Mighty Bransons might pave a Branson and Tucker family feud, dooming Cherry and Luke as star-crossed lovers. I don’t have the official blurb yet, so that gives you a taste!
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?
Thank you for thinking so. I actually like social media and have made a lot of friends online, so those relationships are important to me. I began using Twitter and Facebook when living in Japan as a way to keep in touch with family and friends in America, and my following/follows began building slowly there. I’ve never subscribed to automated services, although I used Triberr for a while when I was blogging regularly. I also like Pinterest as a personal bulletin board/file cabinet for ideas and scrapbooking. I do send out a newsletter (you can sign up at LarissaReinhart.com) for my readers to keep them updated, but I only send that out around releases. As far as building a following in my niche, I’m not sure! I just tend to do what feels comfortable for me, so mostly that means chatting on Facebook.
You do a lot of book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
Typically I do about one event a month. I have young children, and feel it’s not fair to them or my husband to be away more than that. But I’ve been lucky to have a lot of local support, so I don’t have to travel much. My next event is “Murder Down South,” a Southern Mystery Conference in Smyrna, Georgia, on Saturday, January 25th. I’m going to be on a humorous mystery panel, which is my favorite kind of panel. I’m also speaking at the Atlanta chapter of Sisters in Crime in March, the South Carolina Upstate chapter of SinC in April, and will be at Malice Domestic Mystery Conference in May. In February, my library might do an event connected to Heartache Motel. There’s talk of a gold lame, singing Elvis statue, so I’m pretty excited about that. If you go to
http://larissareinhart.com/index.php/events, I tend to keep that events page updated.
You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
Typically I do about one event a month. I have young children, and feel it’s not fair to them or my husband to be away more than that. But I’ve been lucky to have a lot of local support, so I don’t have to travel much. My next event is “Murder Down South,” a Southern Mystery Conference in Smyrna, Georgia, on Saturday, January 25th. I’m going to be on a humorous mystery panel, which is my favorite kind of panel. I’m also speaking at the Atlanta chapter of Sisters in Crime in March, the South Carolina Upstate chapter of SinC in April, and will be at Malice Domestic Mystery Conference in May. In February, my library might do an event connected to Heartache Motel. There’s talk of a gold lame, singing Elvis statue, so I’m pretty excited about that. If you go to http://larissareinhart.com/index.php/events, I tend to keep that events page updated.
Several of you novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience? Do you recommend new authors going this route to get more exposure?
Henery Press set up the audio book deal and the audio books are new enough that I’m not sure how they impact my regular sales or if they have a new audience. I hope so! I had a wonderful experience with the voice actress, Erin Clark. If a new author can get an audio deal, I say go for it. I think more mediums are always better for exposure.
I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a Novellas collection called Heartache Motel with Terri L. Austin and LynDee Walker. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other authors? How did you put something like that together?
Terri, LynDee, and I all write mystery series for Henery Press. Writing Heartache Motel rose from the three of us joking around, trying to figure out how our characters would get together and what would happen if they did. When we were ready to write and had chosen our setting and theme, we brainstormed together by email and then wrote our stories separately. Henery Press already had another interconnected novella anthology, Other People’s Baggage, so our joking around led to talking to our editor about publishing another anthology. Heartache Motel just came out in December, so I’m not sure about the impact on sales, but hopefully it introduces my readers to Terri and LynDee’s characters and vice versa.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
I don’t have any experience giving books away free (other than winning a contest or gift basket), although the first in the series has been on sale for ninety-nine cents. Once during the holidays in 2011 and at Hijack in Abstract’s release. Portrait of a Dead Guy did very well on sale. Henery Press handles my sales.
How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?
My editor gives me a schedule beginning with my handing in the manuscript and ending with the actual launch. We’re coordinated on the marketing that way. For Death in Perspective, #4, I handed in the manuscript at the first of the year, edits start later in January. I’m doing a cover reveal on Dru’s Book Musing in March, then will do at least one Goodreads Giveaway starting in April. During that time, I’m checking the ARC for final corrections and Henery Press is sending ARCs to reviewers. I’ll hold some contests for my Facebook likers, newsletter members, and the Mystery Minions, the street team I share with LynDee Walker. Bookmarks and swag are designed and made. I also plan my launch party, which will be at Barnes & Noble in Newnan in June. Every launch is different, so what’s worked for one, doesn’t always work again. I try to be adaptable to change and come up with new ideas for each launch.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?
Henery Press puts our ARCs on NetGalley for a month or so, so reviewers can easily get them. I encourage my readers to leave reviews, but mainly I do blog tours for reviews.
I like the idea of your blog: Mystery Minions. (Your street team with LynDee Walker) Does your team help you with feedback about your novels, provide reviews and increase sales? Do you give them incentives to follow along with you? How can readers find you there?
Mystery Minions is a Facebook page at
anyone can join who wants to be a part of our street team. We send the Minions bookmarks and swag and they pass them out to libraries, bookstores, and book clubs in their area. They also spread news about our new releases on social media. LynDee and I have special contests for them, give them sneak peeks and excerpts from manuscripts or books before anyone else sees them. I even have a character in Death In Perspective named for a Minion who won a Minions-only contest. But it’s mostly just fun and we chat. I usually get on Facebook first thing in the morning and say hello. At the holidays, LynDee and I sent everyone a card and special Minions ornament. It’s wonderful.
Author's Book List
- Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas
THREE TIMES THE FUN AND MYSTERY…
Elvis has left the building, but he’s forever memorialized at the Heartache Motel. Filled with drag queens, Rock-a-Hula cocktails, and a vibrating velveteen bed, these three novellas tell the tales of three amateur sleuths who spend their holidays at the King’s beloved home.
DINERS KEEPERS, LOSERS WEEPERS by Terri L. Austin
A Rose Strickland Mystery Novella (follows DINER IMPOSSIBLE)
When Rose and the gang head to Graceland right before Christmas, they get all shook up: the motel is a seedy dump and an Elvis impersonator turns up dead. Rose discovers missing jewels tie into the death and her suspicious mind flips into overdrive, questioning her fellow guests, the staff, and even a cute impersonator who keeps popping up. Will Rose be able to find the murderer and get home by Christmas day? It’s now or never.
QUICK SKETCH by Larissa Reinhart
A Cherry Tucker Mystery Novella (prequel to PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY)
Sassy Southern artist Cherry Tucker and her poker-loving boyfriend, Todd, pop into Memphis to help Todd’s cousin who’s been hustled out of his savings, right before Christmas. Staying at the shady Heartache Motel, Cherry can’t tell a shill from a mark and fears everyone is playing them for chumps. Cherry and Todd quickly find themselves in a dangerous sting that could send them to the slammer or mark them as pigeons from cons looking for an even bigger score.
DATELINE MEMPHIS by LynDee Walker
A Nichelle Clarke Headline in Heels Mystery Novella (follows BURIED LEADS)
Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke thinks she’s going home for Christmas. But a quick stop at Graceland proves news breaks in the strangest places. When the King's home gets locked down with Nichelle inside, she chases this headline into the national spotlight—and the thief's crosshairs. Christmas dreams of blue suede Manolos fade, and all Nichelle wants from Santa is to land the story before the thief cuts off her news feed for good.
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Still Life in Brunswick Stew
- A Cherry Tucker Mystery
Cherry Tucker’s in a stew. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, the police get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry’s goose.
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Portrait of a Dead Guy
- A Cherry Tucker Mystery
HIGH-OCTANE ACTION WITH QUIRKY, DOWN-HOME CHARACTERS...
"An entertaining mystery full of quirky characters and solid plotting...Highly recommended for anyone who likes their mysteries strong and their mint juleps stronger!” - Jennie Bentley, New York Times Bestselling Author of Flipped Out
“Reinhart is a truly talented author and this book was one of the best cozy mysteries we reviewed this year…We highly recommend this book to all lovers of mystery books. Our Rating: 4.5 Stars.” – Mystery Tribune
In Halo, Georgia, folks know Cherry Tucker as big in mouth, small in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than buckshot rips from a ten gauge -- but commissions are scarce. So when the well-heeled Branson family wants to memorialize their murdered son in a coffin portrait, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage from her small town rival. As the clock ticks toward the deadline, Cherry faces more trouble than just a controversial subject. Between ex-boyfriends, her flaky family, an illegal gambling ring, and outwitting a killer on a spree, Cherry finds herself painted into a corner she’ll be lucky to survive.
* Winner of the Dixie Kane Memorial Award * Nominated for the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Emily Award *
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