Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Crazy Eights! by Barbara Ross and Sherry Harris



LUCY BURDETTE: I'm delighted to welcome two good friends with brand new books to Jungle Red! Do you have a gift certificate burning a hole in your pocket? These are two wonderful cozy series...welcome Sherry and Barb!

Sherry Harris and Barbara Ross are happy to be visiting the Jungle Reds today to celebrate the December 31, release of the eighth book in each of our series. The latest book in Sherry’s Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series is Sell Low, Sweet Harriet. The latest book in Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake Mystery series is Sealed Off.



We’re celebrating with Jungle Red readers by answering eight crazy questions about things that have happened on our publishing journeys. Leave a comment to be entered to win either Sell Low, Sweet Harriet or Sealed Off to be mailed out as soon as we get our hands on a copy!





1) How did your protagonist get her name?



Sherry: Is my editor going to read this? (Looks around, doesn’t see him.) I originally called Sarah -- Sarah Fiennes. I thought how fun would that be because Sarah finds things at garage sales. Unfortunately, my editor hated the name. It reminded him of those two British acting brothers. So Sarah Winston was born. How about you Barb? Where did Julia’s name come from?

Barb: I think Fiennes would have been a great name for Sarah. But then I like the acting brothers. My protagonist is Julia Morrow Snowden and my niece is Julia Morrow Ross. When I wrote the proposal for the Maine Clambake Mysteries I was trying to avoid my tendency to overthink so I grabbed a name that was at hand. The weird part is, my niece has never said a word about it.

Sherry: Very interesting. Are we going to talk about Sonny and your daughter-in-law Sunny? You can plead the fifth.

Barb: Ha, ha, ha. I didn’t even get that until my daughter-in-law pointed it out!

2) What’s the question readers ask you the most?

Barb: People what to know if the Snowden Family Clambake is real and if they can go there. I send them to the Cabbage Island Clambake, also run by a family and their private island--though there the resemblance stops!

Sherry: You deserve a commission. People ask me if I’ll do a garage sale for them. I’ve done a few and they are a lot of work. I’ll stick to writing about them!

3) What’s the most controversial thing in your series? Readers either love or hate…

Sherry: The love triangle in the first few books!!!! I swear I didn’t mean to do it when I set out writing the series. Seth was supposed to be an unnamed character, a one night stand, but then he called Sarah…

Barb: It’s funny how the romance is the thing that gets to people. The most controversial thing in my series is Julia’s boyfriend Chris. He was her middle school crush, but do they belong together now? People send me e-mails arguing both positions quite vehemently.

Sherry: Gulp. I may have been guilty of trying to influence you about that too. I make no apologies. I have opinions.

4) What did you THINK would be the most controversial thing?

Sherry: See the above question! I thought that someone would write me complaining about Sarah being a slut for having a one night stand. Not one person has ever mentioned it.

Barb: PETA has a big sign in the Portland Jetport about not eating lobster. I keep expecting the hate mail, but so far, crickets.

5) What is the weirdest name you ever gave a character?

Sherry: In The Longest Yard Sale I have an Air Force officer whose call sign (similar to a nickname) is Bubbles. You have to read the book to find out why.

Barb: My favorite character name is the victim in Musseled Out, David Thwing.

6) In mysteries, the mystery is the thing and the romance, if there is one, is there to round out the character. Eight books in, tell us the truth, is your protagonist going to get her HEA?

Sherry: Now this is something I get a lot of opinions about. My answer is: I don’t know. Does a woman have to be in a relationship to be happy? Book nine is set exactly two years after the first book. Sarah went through a traumatic divorce and an almost got back together with her ex in that period of time. She’s not ready to settle down and she’s not Cinderella that needs to be saved by the handsome prince. That said...I love a happy ever after. Love them!

Barb: I don’t know, either. I guess it depends on how many books end up in the series. Chris and Julia’s relationship has many complications and it would take a while to resolve them.

7) What’s your least favorite cover in the series and why?



Barb: I admit it’s the cover for book five, Iced Under. All the other Clambake covers feature very Maine-y scenes and this one always looks to me like a generic suburban street. It’s never hurt the book’s sales, though, and since the book came out I’ve noticed when the weather in a book is stormy, Kensington covers are always from the inside (cozy) looking out,



Sherry: We’ve never talked about this before but mine is also number five, I Know What You Bid Last Summer! I love my covers and there’s nothing wrong with this one. I’d sent my editor some pictures of an antique store I visited with all of these beautiful pink dresses. I just had such a strong picture in my head I expected it to look like that.

8) What is the craziest thing that ever happened to you at a book event?

Sherry: Oh, Barb. You have to know where I’m heading with this one. It was with you. I’m surprised you’ve ever agreed to do another event with me.

Barb: Sherry is referring to a signing we did where a man came up to our table and told us his entire life history including his broken marriage and the last time he had sex. And he didn’t even buy a book! Sherry is a lovely, friendly person. I am not and our different personalities played out in that situation.

Sherry: Barb you are a lovely, friendly person too -- just in a different way than me. I must have a face says tell me anything. You forgot to mention that he also told us he has a top secret clearance which worried us both considering what a blabbermouth he turned out to be.

Jungle Red Readers: Thanks for playing crazy eights with us. Ask us anything below or just leave a comment to be entered to win a new release. (No need to give us any details on your sex life! Thanks.)

Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and upcoming Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mystery series. Her website is: https://sherryharrisauthor.com/

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Literary Award-winning Maine Clambake Mystery series and the Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody series. Her website is www.maineclambakemysteries.com

93 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your newest books, Sherry and Barb. Eight crazy questions was fun; now, could each of you please tell us a bit about the story in your new book?

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    1. My first attempt at answering this went in the general comments. I'll try again: Thanks for asking Joan! Sarah is asked to help investigate the murder of a young Air Force spouse on base and she's doing an estate sale for the daughter of two former CIA officers. I've read Sealed Off and it is wonderful!

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    2. Hi Joan--thanks for asking. In Sealed Off the Snowden Family are shutting down the clambake for the year and having demolition done preparatory to the renovation of the abandoned mansion on their island. Then a fight breaks out between two of their employees and the workers at the mansion discover a hidden room, sealed off with all its content intact and we are off to the races.

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  2. Your joint events have got to be fun! Have you ever considered putting Sarah and Julia together in a mystery? Garage sale/clambake/lollapalooza.

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    1. Pat D that would be so much fun. In my second book Sarah does mention having a clambake the next time she does an event for the town of Ellington

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    2. Liz Mugavero and I put our characters together in a little sketch we did for Dru's Book Musings. I would love to do that with Julia and Sarah.

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  3. Fun questions and answers. I hadn't heard most of this. And the story of your signing makes me very glad that I will come across as sane at any signing I go to, even the ones where I turn into a huge fan boy. (Yes, there are a couple of those.)

    Barbara's book is wonderful. I'm only 100 pages into Sherry's, but so far it is wonderful as well. (Please don't enter me in the drawing.)

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    1. Thanks, Mark! I've had a few fan girl moments myself. Let me just say that I'm amazed Julia Spencer Fleming didn't take out a restraining order because the first time I met her I was a little excited.

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    2. I've had the fangirl moments too. A few years ago Julie Hennrikus was the co-chair of Crime Bake and she sat me at the banquet next to Elizabeth George. I was completely tongue-tied and must have made a horrible impression.

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  4. I love this so much! Even though we blog together, somehow I didn't realize this was book eight for both of you. And yes, Sherry, you DO have that face, LOL. I know these two books are going to be slam dunks - mine are on preorder.

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    1. Thank you, Edith. It is interesting that we both have book eights in those series at the same time.

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    2. Ha, ha. Especially since Sherry started later than me. Still trying to figure out how I got lapped.

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    3. Three books in the same series in a year help with that. :)

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  5. Congratulations to both of you! I love your answers! So much fun!

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  6. Congratulations to you both. Can't wait for the books!

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  7. This was fun! Thanks for the chance! oohllala(at)aol(dot)com

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  8. Yard sales and Maine! Two sweet spots for me for sure! And the holidays are the perfect to cozy up with a cozy!

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    1. Two of my favorite things too! Thanks to all the Reds for having us today!

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    2. Yes, thank you Reds. And mass market paperbacks make great stocking stuffers.

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  9. Waving at Sherry and Barb!

    How is it possible these are the eighth in each of your series? You Wickeds are SO prolific. (Looking at you, too, Edith.) I am clearly behind on both of them.

    And here I was all set to share about my sex life. Buzzkill! LOL

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    1. Waving back! Ha -- that line of course was written by Barb!

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    2. LOL. Maybe we could give away books to people who DON'T tell us about their sex lives.

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  10. My face, thank the stars!, does not inspire random people to spill the details of their sex lives. Whew! Winter is making its presence known outside my window as I write this, and a nice stack of cozies (hmmm, 8 each? How to choose!!) is sorely needed. Along with a cup of tea or hot chocolate (check), a cat or two (check), and a cozy throw (check).

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    1. I have no idea why people tell/ask me things. If I'm standing on the Metro platform people will come and ask me questions about how to get somewhere! There are so many great books to read!

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  11. Congratulations! I can't even imagine that guy - how did you move him along? I'd be flummoxed (and simultaneously horrified).

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    1. Sometimes being friendly doesn't pay off. I can't even remember why he finally left.

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    2. I didn't help that let's just say it wasn't our most successful signing so there was plenty of hanging around time.

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  12. Delightful to have you two here today! What a fun post! I love both of your series and am thrilled to have new ones to look forward to!

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  13. Thanks for asking Joan! Sarah is asked to help investigate the murder of a young Air Force spouse on base and she's doing an estate sale for the daughter of two former CIA officers. I've read Sealed Off and it is wonderful!

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  14. Hi again Sherry and Barb from California! I'm so looking forward to both books. I'd love to hear from each of you how long you feel a series should go on?

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    1. Have a great time in California -- I love the pictures you've been posting. That is such a good and hard question. I think if you fall out of love with the characters it's time to move on.

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    2. I agree. When you run out of story--hang it up. Try at the end of every contract to have the characters end up in a place you wouldn't mind leaving them. It makes you a better negotiator, LOL.

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  15. Congratulations, Sherry and Barb, on giving birth to your eighths! What an accomplishment.

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    1. Thank you, Ann! Barb also has three novellas in her series!

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  16. Oh, you are both so wonderful! And I cannot believe how many books you have written--we have known each other since none of us had ANY books. Isn't that amazing/terrific?

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    1. It is amazing and terrific! Who would have thought?!!!!!

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    2. Incredible to think when you and I sat together in that intro to mystery writing course at the Boston Center for Adult Education...

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  18. Although it was questions, it seemed more like a conversation. I really enjoyed it. Can't wait to read Sherry's new book, long time fan and thrilled to find a new to me author with Barbara.

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  19. Congrats, Sherry and Barb! Can't wait to read the newest! (Saying hi from jury duty!)

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    1. Oh, jury duty! Good luck with that!

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    2. Good luck with jury duty, whatever that means! (Get on or stay off.)

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    3. The best way to get out of jury duty is to use the George Carlin philosophy. Tell the judge you'd make an excellent juror because you can spot a guilty person - *snap fingers* - just like that!

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    4. We used to get excused from jury duty because one uncle was a judge and the other, more scary one, was the senior ranking deputy DA and we all lived in same county and shared the a last name with one of them.

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  20. Merry Christmas! Congratulations on your new releases, Sherry and Barb. Love both series, looking forward to reading your new releases!

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  21. As usual I can never think of questions when given the opportunity, but congratulations on the latest releases. Both of these series are so much fun. And I love the fun titles and the detail in the covers. I do wonder sometimes, though, how hard it is for an author to get a say about covers and titles and you did touch on that a bit. Happy Holidays!

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    1. That is a great question! I got to suggest the tags on the cover and Kensington has done the rest. Sometimes my editor and I duke it out over the titles -- he wins.

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    2. My 2020 Clambake book is the first one where my editor has overruled my title choice--so I've gotten to chose for 8 books in the series. They almost always take my cover suggestions, too--almost. I love my cover artist Ben Perini.

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  22. Congratulations on your new books! Will definitely have to check put the earlier books in each series.

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  23. An entertaining collection of Q&As
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  24. What aspect of writing a continuing cozy series do you find harder to keep "fresh", the actual murders or the running subplots of the characters and their lives?

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    1. Another great question. For me it's the subplots and keeping every straight! I think Barb has done a wonderful job throwing in realistic problems into Julia's relationships.

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    2. For me it's figuring out why an amateur sleuth is involved in 8 murders!

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  25. Congrats to you both! Really enjoyed the q&a.

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  26. Congrats on the new releases! Legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

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  27. I loved the questions and answers. You two could be a comedy team. I actually like the cover for Iced Under,but I like food.

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    1. We were told not to give up our day jobs but I'm glad you liked our routine!

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    2. I'm glad you like the cover! Sometimes publishers are way smarter than authors--or at least they are on certain subjects.

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  28. that was a fun interview. Love both your books.

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  29. I loved this interview...it was fun! Y’all write two of my favorite series, and I’m looking forward to reading both of the new books. cking78503(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Thank you so much, Chris! I'm so glad you enjoy our books!

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  30. What a great interview - Can't wait for release day! Barb, as a Mainer (Wallagrass in Aroostook County) currently living in Florida (88 degrees today) I'm buying your least favorite in trade just for the view! Already own the Kindle,but I never do look at those covers,

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    1. The covers are great and very Maine-y. I'll be in Florida soon for 3 months. It snowed here today, so 88 degrees is looking pretty good!

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  31. I'm really coming in late today, but I spent a wonderful day with my daughter doing Christmas shopping and going to lunch. We haven't had that alone time together for quite a while, and it was fun and lovely and much enjoyed.

    Barb and Sherry, your questions and answers were lots of fun to read. Congratulations on your new books, which give you a great reason to celebrate on New Year's Eve.

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    1. It sounds like you had a wonderful day, Kathy! I'm glad you enjoyed reading this.

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  32. Do you have a favorite character to write about?
    kozo8989(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. It's hard to choose a favorite character, but I would have to go with grumpy restauranteer Gus.

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  33. It was fun reading your answers. I really enjoy both series. I wonder sometimes how the main character attracts murder victims so often. It becomes a way of life it seems. But it's fun to read about so I'm glad. Merry Christmas 🎄

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    1. I think as readers of mysteries -- especially series-- we just have to suspend belief. Frankly, if any of Sarah's adventures happened to me in real life, I wouldn't ever leave the house!

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  34. I was laughing at the guy telling you about his problems and sex life. I have that face too...I have had Strangers sit down and start telling me they were dying or that they hadn't had sex in six years...whoo boy...and this during my days working at a Museum...so my question would be how do you handle awkward situations and have you had any others? Because that has to be part of selling books I would think? Come to think of it I have never had an Author discuss that part of it...thank you for the discussion and for the giveaway.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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    1. I handled it by nodding, Barb looked down, down, down, until I couldn't see her face behind her hair. I've had men say other weird things to me when I did some book signings on my own so I usually don't do that anymore.

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  35. Congratulations Sherry and Barb on the very soon release to two more great books I can't wait for the opportunity to read!

    Enjoyed reading your answers to the crazy eights. You sure left us laughing with the answer to number eight. Where this would be an acquired situation for most, I can see the two of you handling it with grace and smile on your faces. Now how you held in the laughter until he walked away is beyond me. :)

    May you both have the great success I know you will for this new release and may you have the best of new years coming up!

    Merry Christmas!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  36. Love both these series. Thanks for sharing about them. doward1952(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  37. Thank you for all the posts and giveaways this year! Happy holidays! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

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  38. How old were you when you decided to write your first book ? thanks for all the wonderful answers and the wonderful books trwilliams 69 (at) msn (dot) com

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