Thursday, January 12, 2012

Heather Haven's A Wedding to Die For

Today my guest is returning author, Heather Haven, talking about her second Alvarez Family Murder Mystery, A Wedding to Die For.

AUTHOR: Heather Haven                 
BOOK TITLE: A Wedding to Die For
PUBLISHER: Museitup Publishing

Please tell us about yourself?
Not much to tell. I’m a writer, wife, and grateful person owned by two cats. I’d love to say I’m a natural blond but Clairol and I are old pals. My husband, Norman, Ellie and Yulie (cats), and I live in the foothills of San Jose with the best weather in the world, but keep mum about that. Everybody will want to move here and property values are high enough. Oh, what the hey. Spread it around. Outside of Hawaii, I wouldn’t live anywhere else! I got two gardenias and one winter rose for Christmas this year from my garden. I mean, come on! That’s heaven.

Tell us your latest news?
The 2nd book of the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series is one of the three finalists in the EPIC eBook best mystery of 2012.  There were hundreds of books nominated, so I‘m thrilled. We won’t know the winner until March, so I’ll keep dreaming until then! Also, I gained some weight over the holidays, but that’s an old, old story.
When and why did you begin writing?

One summer when I was 17-years old, I wrote a weekly gossip column about the comings and goings of the renters and owners of a huge beach condo, featured in the now defunct Miami Beach Sun. The column was about who had a baby, who went to what party, who was in Europe, stuff like that. I got paid a whopping $25 a week. Jeesh, does this come off as lame as I think it does? This was back in the Punic Wars when the printing press had yet to be invented. I actually wrote the column in the sand. It would get washed away at high tide.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I gave myself permission to be a writer about 10 years ago. Until then, I considered it my on-again, off-again romance, even though I started out years ago as a staff writer for No soap Radio in NYC. I made a meager living at it and wrote some plays which had a moderate amount of success in New York City.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I’m not sure. Ego, a ‘gee, I can do that’; a need to express myself; a desire to sit down for a couple of hours.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! Be proud of who and what you are. Love your ‘family’ no matter what the dynamics. You don’t need to be the Ozzie and Harriet type of family to be real, genuine, and loving. If people love one other in a positive way, that is a family. You don’t need to be related or a carbon copy of the Good Housekeeping description of a family. Two mothers, two dads, no mother, no dad, the heart is all. Defy the world and do it your way, just do it in a positive, nurturing way. You will be blessed. Then go plant a tree. The world will be better for it.

What books have most influenced your life most?
Anything by P.G. Wodehouse. In my youth, reading his books took me from middle-class southern Florida to upper-crust 1930’s England. I knew then and there I wanted to write humorous stories that transported people to another world, entertained them, made them happy, with lots of laugher thrown in. I’ve probably read Right Ho, Jeeves over a dozen times, but every time I read it, I still howl with laughter. Also, Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Agatha Christie, T.S. Elliot, David Sederis, and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. I always do.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
By sheer volume of work and wit play, it would have to be P.G. Wodehouse. He wrote over 90 novels in his day and that doesn’t include his plays, short stories, etc. Hmmmm. Let me think about this. In all honesty, it’s a tossup between him and Agatha Christie, the goddess of the modern mystery. Wait! Wait! I forgot about Shakespeare. And then there’s – I can’t do it. There are just too many great authors out there to pick only one. Let’s scratch this question, okay?

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
It’s the holiday season. I always pick up my copy of A Christmas Carol and reread that as a holiday tradition. Dickens was and is inspirational. What a writer!

What are your current projects?
I am currently writing a new mystery series, also humorous, and I’m very excited about it. I’m about 2/3rd of the way thru the first draft and loving it! An exciting new protagonist has found me and I love her. She’ll never replace Lee Alvarez, but then you love all your children, don’t you!

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not sure. My latest Alvarez  Family Murder Mystery, Death Runs in the Family, is still in the final editing stages at Muse. I’m pretty happy with what’s been happening with my books.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Keep it original, keep it entertaining, keep it fresh. This mantra never gets old.

Do you ever have problems with writers block?  If so how do you get through it?
I have never had writers block. I think it’s because I have about 4 projects going at the same time. If something isn’t working for me, I simply move to the next one. Works like a charm.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I read, watch TV, or play with my husband or cats. Tomorrow for instance, Norman and I are going into San Francisco to see the Pissarro’s People exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum then we’ll go out to dinner and maybe take a walk on the embarcadero. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Please, please, please, didn’t we do a version of this already?  I can’t pick a favorite author, for crying out loud. Like I said, there are too many good ones out there. Write well and I’m your gal.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write, write, write. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write. And study with good teachers and surround yourself with good, generous writing buddies, who can give you constructive criticism. That’s the way to go.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
 Yes, please continue reading, even if it isn’t my work. Readers are an endangered species. We need to cultivate all we have, so pass the hoe and fertilizer. I am moving in to cultivate.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
My third book of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Death runs in the Family, comes out in May, 2012. Yah!!

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
MuseItup Publishing. They are wonderful.  I found them at Duotrope one week, looking for cozy mysteries to publish. I had just parted ways with my agent and my series was lying in a drawer, biting its head off, as Isaac Asimov would say.  Within twenty- four hours I had a contract for the first book of the series, Murder is a Family Business. I sent in the manuscript of A Wedding to Die For a couple of weeks later. As I said earlier, the 3rd book of the series comes out in May. I feel very blessed. I get to write a funny, warm-hearted series and play all the characters, including the cat!

åHow can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

Follow Heather's blog at:
Murder is a Family Business Youtube book trailer:
A Wedding to Die For Youtube book trailer:

I Love to Cry At Weddings

Dragging out a dog-eared, worn sheet of legal- size yellow paper, I read it carefully. “Wow! I don’t think there’s much more.” I giggled with relief. “I signed the contract with the two bands yesterday. One is an eleven-piece mariachi band that our very own Richard plays guitar with now and then. He’s agreed to play a set with them. I thought that was a nice touch. The alternating band is a three-piece jazz combo. Something for everyone.”
“Indeed,” Mom responded.
“Allied Arts is renting us the restaurant for the reception, including the outside patios, from five-thirty to eleven-thirty p.m. Do you think ten cases of champagne, plus five cases each of Chardonnay and a Napa cab are enough?”
“That sounds more than sufficient. What else?”
I started counting off items on my fingers. “Bridal shower, next week. Richard is in charge of the bachelor party. The tuxes are ordered. The gowns arrive this afternoon, and I have two seamstresses set up for the fittings. I haven’t seen a picture or rendering of the designs yet, but I’ll bet they’re incredible. Mr. McFadden designed them himself, something he hasn’t done for years. He said he chose a ‘theme,’ which reminds me, I’ll have to get samples of the fabric to the florist. Don’t you own one or two of Warren McFadden’s dresses?”
“No. I find him a little avant-garde, Liana,” Mom said.
“I think they call it cutting-edge now, Mom,” I corrected.
“If you say so.” She smiled and changed the subject. “Did you find a photographer?”
“Yes, finally. I thought I was going to have to buy a camera and take pictures, myself.”
“Who is it?”
“Did you know the reason the wedding got canceled that was supposed to take place at Mem Chu was because the bride came out of the closet and is now living in San Francisco with her lover, Charlene?”
“Get to the point, dear.”
“I thought you might be interested in hearing the lead-in.”
“Oh. Well, anyway, this guy was supposed to be their photographer, so he was available. I’ve seen his portfolio. He’s good.”
“That sounds fine,” Lila said, somewhat mollified. “What about the rehearsal dinner? Didn’t John offer to take care of that part of the festivities?”
“Originally, but he had to bow out due to a heavy work schedule.”
“That’s too bad.”
“Yes,” I said and nothing more. My latest love had been pulling back big-time on a lot of things, but I didn’t want to admit it or deal with it yet. “However, Carlos took over and got us a private room at the new Japanese steakhouse for after we go through our paces.” I looked at the tattered list again with all the checkmarks indicating completion and would have done cartwheels around the room if I hadn’t been so tired.
“Mom, I think I’ve done it. After I order the flowers and take care of the fittings, I’m done,” I said with pride. “This wedding is completely done and Good-to-Go.”
            Five hours later, I stood in front of a mirror, enveloped in what felt like eighty yards of a chartreuse moiré taffeta laughingly called “Whipped Lime.” Between the starched crinoline underskirt, ruffled hem of the overskirt, and tufted bodice, all in a hideous yellow-green, I looked like a New Year’s Eve float depicting baby poo.
I ripped open the other boxes to find matching gowns in different odious colors sporting the names of “Pineapple Fizz,” “Mango Madness,” “Orange Frappe,” and “Passion Fruit Frazzle.” Mr. McFadden had created a theme, all right. Jamba Juice Rejects. And in moiré taffeta. When Mom called his work avant-garde, she was being kind.
The phone rang, but I was afraid to move. On top of how I looked, any movement sounded like leaves trapped in a wind tunnel. No wonder no one wore taffeta anymore, I thought. Noise pollution. One of the seamstresses answered the phone and slapped it into my frozen hand.
“Hello?” I said.
“Lee, it’s me. We need your help,” Mira said. Her voice sounded frantic and as if she’d been crying.
“Mira? Are you all right?”
“No, I’m not,” she sobbed. “Carlos is being arrested for murder.”
“What?” I said, sinking straight to the floor, buried in a mound of taffeta. “Carlos is being arrested for murder?”
“Yes, they say he murdered the thief who broke into our apartment last night. They’re taking him away,” she wailed.
“Wait a minute. What thief? What murder? Mira, what’s going on?” She tried to tell me, but between the hysteria, coughing, and wheezing, I couldn’t understand her.
“Never mind,” I interrupted. “Hold tight. I’ll be right there.” I struggled to my feet and thought, with the groom arrested for murder maybe this Good-to-Go wedding just Got Up and Went.
_ _ _

You can find the first chapter of book two, A Wedding to Die For, in its entirety and book one, Murder is a Family Business, on my website:
For some other internet things,
Follow Heather's blog at:
A Wedding to Die For Youtube book trailer:
Follow Lee's daily Twitters at: http://twitter. com/PILeeAlvarez


  1. Penny, thanks so much for hosting me and putting up with my inane answers to some pretty good questions. This is so much fun, it ought to be against the law!

  2. Heather's book also is holding second place (she was robbed!) in the Preditor/Editor Reading Poll for Mysteries. Congratulations!

  3. Heather, as always, it's a pleasure to host you. I'm looking forward to seeing the next in this delightful series. I agree with were robbed!