Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cheryl B. Dale, Overtaxed and Underappreciated

AUTHOR: Cheryl B. Dale
GENRE: Light mystery, PG-13

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? I write full-time. I get up and do email and FB and my online groups. Then I work on the current project. Though I do go back to check email during breaks.

When and why did you begin writing? I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen (Although it was probably more like a novella.) but had the good sense to destroy it. I started writing because I had a teacher who thought I could write. Since I was—and still am—a voracious reader, that was enough to get me started.

What inspired you to write your first book? Fairy tales and medieval type stories! There was a prince and he met a princess and...

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing? I’ve recently taken up bridge. I have a family and two cats to take care of, too. From spring to fall we normally entertain houseguests, which I enjoy.

What are your thoughts about promotion? Absolutely hate it. I’m introverted so I’m really bad at speaking to people and groups. I avoid it whenever possible.

What are your current projects?  A vintage mystery set in 1962 is with my editor now and will be out sometime this year. I’ve worked on it off and on for—it seems like forever! “If it were a film, it would be Anastasia set on the southern coast, interspersed with elements of To Catch a Thief and Charade.”

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.? I don’t do Twitter but I’m on FaceBook at and I have a website with a blog: I get email at

What genre do you write in and why? Mystery and romantic suspense/mystery. I enjoy reading all genres and some literary fiction, but I seem to gravitate toward mysteries or stories with mysteries in them. And any book’s better with a love story in it, even if it isn’t the main theme. So that’s what I write.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. It’s a light mystery, a sequel to TAXED TO THE MAX. A clerk selling auto tags finds herself overwhelmed when she’s appointed tax commissioner (head of the auto tag and property tax office). And though she isn’t really a klutz, things seem to happen to her that don’t happen to normal people.

E.g., in the first chapter of this book, boxes of tag plates fall on her, leaving a large lump on her forehead and sending her to the emergency room. Later on, a local drunk shoots at her car and damages it. Stuff like that seems to happen to her all the time. It’s never her fault. She’s just the one it happens to.

What gave you the idea for this particular book? I worked for nearly twenty years in a tax commissioner’s office. It was a fertile job for a story.

Do you outline before you write?  No. If not, what’s your initial process? I usually see a scene in my head; then all I have to do is figure out what’s going on and why the characters came to be there. Then I weave the story around that.

What comes first: the plot or characters? For me, they’re intertwined. I’m more of a plot person, but plots don’t work if the characters don’t have motivation to do what they need to do to advance the story.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun? To be entertained. I want the story to engross me so that if I have to quit reading, I’m anxious to get back to it and see what happens next. Unfortunately, these kinds of novels are few and far between.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel? Poor writing. Too many typos and misspellings. Misused words like ‘peak’ instead of ‘pique’ and ‘discrete’ instead of ‘discreet.’ Too much purple prose (florid descriptions).

Okay, so new tax commissioner Corrie Caters accidentally burned the courthouse down. Is that a reason for the county to cram her property tax/motor vehicle office into a tee-ninesy trailer with barely enough room to sell car plates? Not to mention giving her a cast-off safe that could have starred in a bad Western.

Corrie should never have let the know-it-all county officials appoint her tax commissioner. They’re peskier than irate taxpayers and whiny auto owners combined.

Then a female attorney, running for election against a good ol’ boy, is murdered. Corrie happens on the scene, but it’s the sheriff’s problem. She has her own worries. Like a trip to ER when boxes of tag plates knock her down. Like her new body-pierced employee who scoffs at the dress code. Like her snake-in-the-grass ex-fiance hanging around—after jilting her in front of two hundred people, most of them local!

Yeah. Lots more pressing problems than who killed a woman she barely knew. But there’s more Corrie does know. Like where the bear came from that was spotted at the murder scene. Like whose county car was parked near the victim’s house. Like why the victim’s secretary threatened a business owner.
But Corrie doesn’t have a clue about the most important thing she knows. Too bad the murderer does.


Miss Lavinia reached us and threw her arms around Momma. “Jenny, dahlin’, thank God you’re here! Ophelia fainted and Barbara’s dead and I don’t know which one to look after first.”

She burst into tears on Momma’s shoulder, without regard to the fact that her mascara would surely be ruined.

“There, there, Miss Lavinia,” Momma said, unable to do anything else. With Momma barely five foot three, Miss Lavinia’s tall frame was almost more than she could handle. One wild eye aimed in my direction brought me out of my stunned bemusement.

I opened the car door. “I’ll go see what’s wrong.”

Miss Lavinia released Momma. “No, no, stay in the car, Corrie! There’s a bear on the rampage out here. Maybe two.”

Momma’s eyes popped. “A what?”

I froze. “A bear?”

Miss Lavinia nodded energetically. Her white curls fell into disarray and she never tried to smooth them, a sure sign of her distress. “Ophelia and I saw the creature loping across the back patio. And another one in the woods, too. The one we saw was large and hairy and—” She threw up both hands. “Oh, it was awful! It’s killed Barbara. Ophelia got sick. I thought she’d faint before I could get her set down.”

Momma couldn’t take in what Miss Lavinia was saying. “The bear was in the house?”

Miss Lavinia snuffled back tears. “It must have been, dahlin’. It mauled her. Barbara, I mean. Her whole head looks like… And so much blood…” A thought panicked her. She gripped Momma’s arm while she looked around wildly. “Are we safe out here? It may be lurking.”

“Come on inside, Miss Lavinia.” I took her hand. None of this was making sense. Bears sometimes showed up in these parts but they normally avoided houses and people. And to enter a house? Was Miss Lavinia going dotty? “Momma, I can use a little help here.” I softened my tone. “Please.”

Momma, busy looking around for skulking bears, caught hold of Miss Lavinia’s other arm. “Corrie’s right, Miss Lavinia. Let’s go inside and sit down. You’ve had a shock.”

Maybe then we could find out what was going on.


  1. I really appreciate your inviting me to your blog, Penny! Thanks so much!

  2. Cheryl, you are always a welcome guest.