Manhattan in Miniature

As part of the editorial team for The Big Thrill magazine, and member of Thriller Writers InternationalI had the honor of interviewing, Camille Minichino for the magazine’s June edition.

Camille has written more than 20 mystery novels, and she also writes as: Margaret Grace and Jean Flowers.

A retired physicist, she’s married to her webmaster, loves writing, but misses her He-Ne laser.

As Margaret Grace, she writes the Miniature Mysteries, featuring miniaturist GERALDINE PORTER and her 11-year-old granddaughter, Maddie. The 8th in the series, MANHATTAN IN MINIATURE.





Gerry Porter who provides magical experiences for his granddaughter Maddie when a SuperKrafts manager takes them to New York City for a huge crafts fair.

Gerry and his granddaughter get to work on both making miniatures and solving crimes, the detecting duo’s favorite pastimes. All this, plus Rockefeller Center and Radio City, too.

But a crafty murderer wants to make sure they don’t make it safely home again to California.




Chatting with Margaret Grace:

What draws you to the mystery genre?

The darkness. Even the coziest mystery has an element of the darker side of life. I write light, but I read dark. I can’t stay in the light too long.

Your book cover has a snow globe on it, which attracted me right away as I collect snow globes. Tell us the significance of the snow globe with relation to the plot and/or characters.

I love snow globes, also. Maddie, Gerry Porter’s 11-year-old granddaughter, is obsessed with souvenirs of New York City. She’s given this special one by an NYPD detective.

That would be such a special gift for a child who loves the whimsical elements of a snow globe and especially one, portraying a magical city like New York. What do you think readers will enjoy about the protagonist Gerry Porter?

Gerry is a miniaturist, specializing not in museum-quality pieces, but in “found objects”— turning toothpaste tube caps into lampshades, for example. Every book in the series has tips at the end for making minis.

I’m sure the reader will feel more connected to the characters and story line because of the time you took to provide tips for making mini’s. For those who are not familiar with the world of craft fairs, what is a SuperKraft manager?

SuperKrafts is a fictional chain crafts store; Gerry’s friend Bebe manages the one in her town, and is thus invited to a big NYC show.

What did you most enjoy when creating Maddie, Gerry Porter’s granddaughter?

I gave her the childhood I never had — what fun is that?

That sounds like a lot of fun, living through a child’s eyes and experiences, providing an enriching experience for all readers so they too can escape into a childhood different from their own.

What is the most interesting tidbit you can share, regarding research for your books?

Recently, a male reader alerted me to the fact that I never have men miniaturists in the books. I’m fixing that in Book 9 (fall 2016), MATRIMONY IN MINIATURE, in which a guy joins Gerry’s crafts group.

What is the hardest part when writing a mystery? Planting red herrings? Ensuring the reader doesn’t guess who the villain is?

Yes, all of that. To make things easier, I belong to several critique groups and have many beta readers — I count on them to keep me honest. In a cozy especially, convincing the reader that, yes, the lady who hems your skirts or runs the cupcake shop, will always rush to solve a murder.

That’s what I think make cozy mysteries so unique and fun to read. Placing ordinary people in extraordinary situations and watching them pull from their unique strengths and capabilities, and sleuthing to solve a crime.

What do you hope readers will come away with after reading MANHATTAN IN MINIATURE?

A greater appreciation of New York, my favorite city, a good time with people who are smart and interesting, and the satisfaction of justice served.

New York is one of my favorite places to visit as well, and it sounds like your offering in MANHATTAN IN MINIATURE will sweep readers into a world filled with an imaginative plot, interesting characters and twists and turns for a mystery, I’m sure readers will enjoy trying to solve. 

Thank you for taking time for sharing your thoughts on writing MANHATTAN IN MINIATURE and sharing a few snippets from your novel.

Meet Gerry & Maddie from MANHATTAN IN MINIATURE in the following snippets:

I needed a new refrigerator; there was no doubt about that. But I didn’t expect to have so many choices. I stood in the appliance section of the store. Should I buy the tall white two-door or a similar style in black with an ice maker?

I was also attracted to a French window arrangement in a wood-like shade, and the bottom-drawer-freezer stainless steel model next to it.

I had already ruled out the old-fashioned one-door in avocado green . . . In the end, I decided to buy them all, including a boxy yellow throwback with its motor on top that had fallen behind the others.

You could never have enough appliances to fill all your dollhouses or miniature room boxes.


Our cab came to a jerky halt in front of The Lex and we tumbled out.

“What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?” Maddie asked the doorman who helped us over the curb. “Are we ever going to get snow?”

“Maybe tonight,” he said.

“You always say that,” Maddie said.

I thought I saw a red blush creep up the doorman’s face.

Or it might have been the cold.


I still felt a little jet-lagged and tired enough to grab a few minutes of sleep. If a cab could be a phone booth, why not a bed?

We were traveling slowly enough in midtown rush hour traffic. I scrunched down a bit, got comfortable, head back, legs stretched out as far as possible, volume turned to zero on the video display in front of me, then . . .Crunch!


“Grace weaves the two plot lines seamlessly and gives the reader a loving tour of New York City highlights along the way. You don’t have to love miniatures or Manhattan to enjoy this book — just love a good mystery.” Amazon Reviewer.

“Gerry is a person I would be happy to spend time with touring New York City which she knows so well. A great series, with tips for miniaturizing.” Goodreads Reviewer.



Summer Reading

Looking for a book to enjoy by the poolside, beach or lazing around your back yard for the summer? I’ve compiled a list of books that I have read (plus my own for a little self promotion) that you may enjoy checking out for your summer reading pleasure. Books range from time travel, romance, comedy, mystery, historical, thrillers, paranormal, military, suspense, sexy and more. A great eclectic selection.

Continue reading Summer Reading

Interview with Robert Gregory Browne plus a fabulous Give-away

Please join me in welcoming, award winning, novelist Robert Gregory Browne.

Robert is also generously giving away an autographed paperback copy of his critically acclaimed THE PARADISE PROPHECY. (Contest details below)

Selena: We know you love books, music, coffee and blackberries (the kind you eat), tell us three things that about you that would surprise people?

Robert: I’m so open about my life on Facebook that I’m not sure anything I said would surprise people. Maybe that I used to be an international spy but had to retire due to bursitis of the shoulder. But, of course, now that I’ve told you that, I have to kill you.

Hell, I don’t know. My books are a lot more interesting than my life. 😉

Selena: LOL That’s the kind of wit I enjoy on your Facebook threads. Who is more of a challenge to write and get deep inside their point of view, the villain or the hero?

Robert: I actually have no trouble getting into the mind of either. My characters—hero and villain alike—are usually so emotionally crippled in some way that the inside of their head is an interesting place to be. At least for me.

Selena: What was the most interesting tidbit you could share with us, while researching TRIAL JUNKIES.

Robert: A large portion of my life was research for Trial Junkies. I spent many years working in legal offices, including the Hawaii State Public Defenders Office, the Federal Public Defenders Office, and several criminal and civil defense firms before getting my “big break” inHollywood. So writing Trial Junkies was kind of like going home again—although from an entirely different point of view. The Trial Junkies series concept grew out of a job I had working “criminal intake” for the state PDO, which required me to screen defendants who were about to be arraigned in criminal court. Every Monday I’d go to court, meet all the potential clients and explain to them how the process works. When I was done with a session I would often sit in on trials while waiting for another work session to begin. So when I was hunting around for a book idea, I thought, why not write a legal mystery from the point of view of the people who WATCH the trials rather than directly participate in them. And, of course those watchers find themselves participating in ways they never expected, and almost wind up dead.

Selena: What draws you to the suspense/thriller/mystery genre?

Robert: I’m not sure I really know. I was introduced to suspense early on when I started reading Donald Westlake. Especially his Parker novels written under the name Richard Stark. These were lean mean novels about a sociopathic thief who wouldn’t let anyone get in the way of collecting his money.  Parker was the kind of guy who didn’t give a damn about anyone, except maybe his girlfriend/wife Claire, and could handle himself in pretty much any situation. I’m attracted to characters like that because, of course, I often wish I could be that way. Ruthless. Confident. Unstoppable.

Of course, I don’t REALLY want to be like that, but thrillers play into a certain empowerment fantasy that I think we all share. And in the end, the good guy (or in Parker’s case, the bad guy) usually wins.

Selena: When you delve inside a criminal’s mind when writing, how do you research this aspect of these characters to differentiate their personality and behavior as opposed to people that are not criminals?

Robert: I don’t necessarily think of my criminal characters as being all that much different from my heroes. Most criminals, I believe, are able to rationalize what they’re doing and, as a result, don’t really think of themselves as criminals. I think even sociopaths rationalize their actions. So, because I’m writing deep point of view, I find that it’s easier for me to assume that the bad guy feels that what he’s doing is just and necessary. Every bad guy thinks of himself as the GOOD guy, and feels as if everyone else is to blame for his problems.

Selena: What kind of reader would love to read your books?

Robert: Hopefully readers like me who like a story that seems to be going in one direction then doubles back on you and kicks you in the ass. Readers who like twists and turns and characters with flaws who are caught up in something over their heads. Readers who like books that compel you to turn the page. I work very, very hard at creating page-turners. I may not always succeed, but that isn’t for lack of trying.

Selena: If you were only allowed to bring three things to take with you, for a stay on an island by yourself for forty-eight hours, what would they be?

Robert: My Kindle, my wife (not that she’s a “thing”), and a lot of water. I drink more water in a day than most people drink in a week.

About Robert Gregory Browne:

ITW Thriller Award nominated novelist, Robert Gregory Browne believes his mission as a writer is to grab hold of you and keep you captive on the page until he’s ready to let you go.  His debut thriller, KISS HER GOODBYE, was recently produced by CBS Television as a series pilot starring Dylan Walsh and Terry Kinney.

In addition to writing several thrillers, including TRIAL JUNKIES, KISS HER GOODBYE, DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN and THE PARADISE PROPHECY, Rob composes music, plays guitar and keyboards and has even been known to sing now and then.

And you thought his books were scary.


Ethan “Hutch”Hutchinsonhasn’t seen his old college pals in nearly ten years. Now fate has brought them together again as one of the gang is put on trial for a brutal, senseless murder.

The Chicago police and prosecutor think they have their perp, but Hutch isn’t about to sit silently in a courtroom as someone he cares about—someone he loves—is wrongfully convicted.


When Hutch and his friends join forces to search for the real killer, what they find shatters every notion they have about friendship, loss and redemption…


“Browne delivers again with Trial Junkies. Great characters, sharp, smart dialogue and a mystery I dare you to solve. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

~Cindy Gerard, New York Times Bestselling Author ofLast Man Standing

“With the emotion-tugging nostalgia of The Big Chill and the catch-your-breath plot twists of Runaway Jury, Trial Junkies is not only a must-read, it’s destined to be a classic.”  

~Debra Webb, nationally bestselling author of theFaces of Evil series

“Robert Gregory Browne is so freakin talented he makes me want to put my computer away. Maybe I should start drinking *his* coffee!”

~Terri Molina, author of Forget Me Not

Learn more about Robert by visiting his website.

Connect with Roberton Facebook.

Visit Robert’s Amazon Author Page.

Thank you, Robert for the interview, I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a suspense/thriller fan myself (reader and writer), it’s always intriguing to discover why other writers love the genre as much as I do.

I took the dare and started reading TRIAL JUNKIES to see if I can solve the mystery. All I can say right now is, EVERYONE get your copy NOW. I’ll post a review once I’m done reading it, once I can  crawl inside my reader’s cave for a day.

**Contest Details**

To win an autographed copy of THE PARADISE PROPHECY

Comment on the blog, or feel free to ask Robert any question you like, and your name will be entered into a draw.

Double your chances of winning by signing up and following my blog:

Triple your chances of winning by linking this blog post to your blog or putting the link up on your facebook page or Twitter.

Book Review Monday – A FEW DEAD MEN – Plus a Contest

Like most authors, I’m also an avid reader of many genres and I’m dedicating Monday’s as a day to celebrate other author’s books that I’ve enjoyed. Please feel free to add your own suggestions, as I’m always looking for another good book to read.

This week, I’m reviewing, A FEW DEAD MEN by Nancy Lauzon, author of the Chick Dick Mysteries.

You’ll also have a chance to win either a copy of A FEW DEAD MEN or another Chick Dick Mystery of your choice (details below).


If you’re a fan of murder mysteries and dark comedies with enough twists to keep you in suspense until the last page, then I highly recommend you step into the world of Nancy Lauzon’s, A FEW DEAD MEN, A Chick Dick Mystery.

The dialogue is witty and the plot is smart and fast paced with a splash of unexpected love. The main protagonist, Darcy is a perfect balance of vulnerability and intelligence that makes her relatable and loveable. Each of the secondary characters all play an integral part in the book. The relationship between Darcy and her best friend Gio will give you plenty of laugh-out-loud moments with their amateur sleuthing and relationships with their perspective families.

The developing relationship between Darcy and her new boss, Smith, will have you rooting for them both.

As for the murder mystery, just when you thought you have it all figured out, an unpredictable twist will surprise you.

A FEW DEAD MEN has all the elements you expect in a Chick Dick Mystery, plus more.

Read an excerpt

Available at: SmashwordsAmazonBarnes & NobleChapters/Indigo/Kobo.


I LOVE hearing your thoughts on what books you’ve read or would like to read…or your thoughts on recipes, tv shows, movies, your mood…..anything goes.

To show how much I appreciate your support of this blog I am going to purchase a CHICK DICK MYSTERY of your choice.


  1. Everyone who leaves a comment on this blog is eligible to win with their name added into a hat for a draw.
  2. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, your name gets entered twice.
  3. If you are not already a follower of my blog and you sign up to follow this blog, then, you your name again gets entered into the draw.
  4. If you mention my blog on Twitter or your Facebook page, your name again is entered into the draw.



Under the Covers with Nancy Lauzon

Welcome Nancy Lauzon, author of the Chick Dick Mysteries. Don’t you love the series name?

Nancy will be sharing her thoughts on book covers, something I know she is passionate about.

She has also generously offered to run a CONTEST. THREE LUCKY PEOPLE will each win one one of her fabulous books in the Chick Dick Mysteries. If you love mystery, comedy, intrigue and romance, you’re in for a real treat.


Take it away, Nancy.   .   .   . (Please note: the covers shown here are Nancy’s NEW covers, not the ones she is discussing)

Good quality book cover art is absolutely crucial to a writer’s sales. Or as fellow blogger Chuck Wendig puts it: ‘Make sure your cover doesn’t suck a bag of dicks.’ I apologize for the rough language, but there’s just no better way of saying it.

Continue reading Under the Covers with Nancy Lauzon