So happy to have Heather Weidner visiting today. Although she’s stopped by before (as one of the Mutt Mystery authors), I’m thrilled to have her here today. Heather is the author of a brand new, truly fun and clever cozy mystery series set in an upscale trailer resort, called the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. Glamping is all the rage and this book with its plucky heroine will be, too. VINTAGE TRAILERS AND BLACKMAILERS is the first in the series.
First up, I’ve asked Heather a few questions about the book and the characters.
Is your “glamping” series inspired by a real place, and have you ever been “glamping”?
I have been on lot of camping trips through the years to determine that I’m not a roughing-it kind of girl. I’ve been eyeing some glamping sites, and I hope we can schedule a trip now that the worst of the plague is over. My husband does a lot of home improvement and car/camper/boat restorations, so we watch a lot of HGTV and YouTube. I ran across a show a while back about a couple who restored vintage trailers, and they were amazing. I thought that would be a good idea for Jules in Fern Valley, so she and her father saved about 50 trailers from the scrap heap. She themes each one’s name and décor with something from history or pop culture like the 1947 Robin Hood Trailer that is decked out in honor of its namesake, the 1959 Sunliner Caravan that sported a posh pink Barbie fashion design in honor of the year that the camper and the doll debuted, and the 1953 Redman New Moon, decorated in honor of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s movie from the same year, The Long, Long Trailer.
How much time did you spend mapping out the resort and the town?
It took me a while as I was plotting the first book. I drew a map of the resort and tagged the trailers. At the end of VINTAGE TRAILERS AND BLACKMAILERS, Jules’s maintenance/security guy approaches her with a deal to add tiny houses to the resort. I am fascinated by all the creativity that goes into designing these spaces. Minimalism is the key. Most are between 400 and 1,400 sq. ft., and if the owners plan to transport them, they have to fit withing one traffic lane on the road. All of the tiny houses at Jules’s resort have book/author themes and cool little touches for the guests like revolving bookcases or cozy reading nooks.
Jules is such a fun character to get to know. Other than Jules though, who is your favorite character in this book and why?
I really like to write Roxanne’s character. She is Jules’s closest living relative who is free spirited and protective of her niece. She’s always into something, and sometimes, she has no filter with her sharp quips and retorts.
Jules, like many of your heroines, is full of sass. Is there any part of her that is based on you? Do you and Jules share any characteristics at all?
Jules and I both have red hair and the feisty spirit that goes with that. We also both have Jack Russell Terriers, and we both love the mountains. Jules is more impetuous that I am. She often runs toward danger without much thought about the consequences, especially if it leads her to clues about the murder on her property. I would dial 9-1-1, and let the authorities do the investigating.
This is subjective, of course, but fans of what writers or books would love this new series?
This series would appeal to cozy mystery lovers who like female sleuths with interesting occupations. I think fans of Tonya Kappes, Libby Klein, Sherry Harris, Ellen Byron, Barbara Ross, Tina Kashian, and Diane Kelly would like the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries.
And a few questions for Heather about herself and her writing:
What are you reading right now? Anything special on your TBR list?
My TBR pile takes up 3 shelves in my bookcase. And there is a stack on my nightstand and my desk. I just finished Jennifer Bee’s THE KILLING CAROL. Next on my list is Louise Penny’s A GREAT RECKONING.
I have to ask the requisite question, plotter or pantser?
Both. I start out with a detailed outline (that later becomes my synopsis), but as I start to write, sometimes the characters take over. And I veer from my outline. Though I do try to stick to the plan where I can because it keeps me from writing myself into a corner and getting bogged down in the middle of the first draft. I can finish a novel that I’ve completely outlined much faster than when I try to “pants” it.
Give us a quick glimpse into your writing process? Do you have a special time and place you like to write? Do you set word goals?
I usually write at my desk upstairs. The big window overlooks the woods, so there are plenty of squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and other critters that visit frequently. My two Jack Russell Terriers have beds in the office, so they hang out and help me plot and write dialogue. I still have a day gig, so my writing day starts at 5:00 AM. I write until I log into work at 7:30. I write on my lunch hour, and if I didn’t hit my word count, then I’ll do some more in the evening. I try to do 1,000 words a day on work days and 3,000 words on weekends/holidays. If I am consistent with this word count, I can now finish a cozy mystery in about 2.5 months. (My first novel took 5 years to write and another 2 to get published.)
What can readers expect from you next?
I am working on the last of three books for the Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries. My agent just sold this three-book series, so I will be excited to see the release dates. In this series, Jade Hicks inherits her grandmother’s Christmas store in the tiny beach community of Mermaid Bay, Virginia which is near the historic triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown.
Of course, it’s been great having Heather stop by. She is–without a doubt–one of the hardest working writers I know! Be sure to check out her Delanie Fitzgerald series, too. Thanks, Heather!
Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers is the first in her cozy mystery series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. She also writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia.
Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass, and her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Social Media Links
Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ
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There is nothing like finding a dead body, clad only in a red satin thong, on your property to jolt you from a quiet routine. Jules Keene, owner of the posh Fern Valley Camping Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is thrust into the world of the Dark Web when one of her guests, Ira Perkins, is found murdered in the woods near her vintage trailers. Jules quickly discovers that the man who claimed to be on a writing retreat was not what he seemed, and someone will go to any length to find what he left at her resort. Jules, along with her Jack Russell Terrier sidekick Bijou, has to put the rest of the missing pieces of a blackmailing scheme together before her business is ruined.
Jules’s resort, set in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville in the quaint town of Fern Valley, offers guests a unique vacation in refurbished and upcycled vintage trailers. Hoping to expand her offerings, she partners with her maintenance/security guy to create a village of tiny houses, the latest home DIY craze, but a second murder of a reporter interrupts Jules’s expansion plans. Curiosity gets the best of her, and she steps up her sleuthing to find out what Ira Perkins was really up to and what he was really hiding at her resort.