Monday, February 2, 2015

Darned If You Do {+ Giveaway}

Darned If You Do by Monica Ferris - Thoughts in Progress Feb. 2I’m delighted to welcome author Monica Ferris to Thoughts in Progress today to talks about DARNED IF YOU DO, the latest release in her Needlecraft Mystery series that hits bookstands tomorrow (Feb. 3).

In addition to the hardcover release of DARNED IF YOU DO (the 18th book in her series), Monica also has a mass market paperback release coming out this month too - THE DROWNING SPOOL, the 17th installment in her series.

Here’s a brief description of DARNED IF YOU DO:

The USA Today bestselling Needlecraft Mysteries have shown that when it comes to murder, Betsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel World needlework shop, doesn’t mess around. But when a local hoarder is murdered, she’ll need all her wits to dig a new friend out of a heap of trouble…
          After a tree falls on Tom Riordan’s house, landing him in the hospital, the police discover a mountain of junk piled high in his home. Locals in Excelsior, Minnesota—including Betsy and her Crewel World Monday Bunch—offer to help with the cleanup while Tom recuperates.
          But when Tom is found murdered in his hospital bed, the sole heir to his property—his cousin Valentina—becomes the number one suspect. Betsy believes there’s more to the case than meets the eye, but finding clues to the killer’s identity in the clutter Tom left behind will be like looking for a needle in a haystack …

To celebrate the latest release in the series, I have one print copy of DARNED IF YOU DO to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more giveaway details thanks to Monica and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group.

Please join me now in giving a warm welcome to Monica as she explains about ‘THE LIFE OF CONNOR SULLIVAN.’ Welcome, Monica.

I have a little talent that has proved itself useful over the years. I don’t need an alarm clock. Before I fall asleep, I picture a clock in my head with the hands set to the time I want to wake up. And I wake up within five minutes or less of that time. It doesn’t matter that I’m in a different time zone or that we’re going off or on daylight savings time, I will wake up at the time I set. Maybe I’m like Peter Pan’s crocodile and somehow swallowed a clock.

On an ordinary weekday I wake at six, bathe, dress, make breakfast for myself and my lady, annoy the cat Thai, log on to my computer and, if the world hasn’t come to an end, begin the unscheduled portion of my day.

This consists of housework, needlework, shopping, visiting friends, short sight-seeing trips, fishing, skiing, volunteering at a local nursing home, working occasional hours in a needlework shop, and reading history and action novels.
My lady, whose name is Elizabeth but who is called Betsy, owns her own small business, over which, like the Queen of England (of similar name, though I doubt she was ever called Betsy), she lives. It is a needlework shop, focusing mainly on needlepoint and counted cross stitch, with a side aisle devoted to knitting and a corner to crochet. I myself am a knitter – I spent many years at sea and there are long idle hours in that occupation, so taking up a craft that does not occupy a great deal of space or make a big mess is called for. Though I am now retired, I still knit. Fortunately, I am a muscular man with a harsh, weathered face, so no one dares to remark unkindly when they see me working with needles.

I sometimes help out in the shop, because Betsy has a second occupation, of which I secretly strongly disapprove, because it can be damned dangerous. She helps people wrongly accused of a serious crime prove themselves innocent. Often this calls for discovering the actual perpetrator, who very naturally resents her interference. I am clever enough not to try to talk her out of her sleuthing, because I want to continue living with her. So I support her efforts when I can, condole with her when things become difficult, and soothe her troubled spirit when it turns out that the culprit is someone she came to like.

Her latest adventure involved a local man injured when a tree fell on his house during a violent storm. When rescue crews broke in to save him, they discovered his house was full to the rafters with an astonishing mix of trash and treasure. A cousin drove all the way from Indiana to help care for him and organize a clean-up. While he was still in the hospital someone entered his room and smothered him with a pillow. The police, of course, suspected his cousin, who was seriously in need of the money she would inherit from the sale of his property. Betsy, bless her heart, set out to prove her innocent.

I would like to marry Betsy, but she is twice divorced and so does not trust her judgment of the male sex. I think she’s a terrific judge of character – how else could she so successfully investigate her cases? –but dare not press my cause too strongly for the reason given above: I want to continue to live with her. I am beginning to see how the characters in a romance novel come to live such tangled lives. I hope ours comes to as happy an ending as they do.

Monica, thanks for visiting today and sharing this look at Connor’s involvement with Betsey. It’s good to know a male that knits and doesn’t mind people knowing it.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Monica, here a bit of background on her.

Monica Ferris spent the later part of her childhood and early adult life in Wisconsin, graduating from high school in Milwaukee. She was a journalist in the U.S. Navy for six and a half years (two in London), and later attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is married to a museum curator.

Monica sold her first short story, “Pass the Word,” to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, in 1983, and has since sold two dozen short stories to anthologies and magazines, including some in Germany, England and France. She has two stories each in the anthologies, The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives and The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, and a story in Shakespearean Mysteries, Royal Whodunnits, and Unholy Orders.

Her first mystery novel, Murder at the War, was nominated for an Anthony as Best First Novel. The Unforgiving Minutes and Ashes to Ashes followed in 1988; and in May of 1992 Original Sin and Show Stopper were sold.
Berkley published six medieval mysteries Monica wrote in collaboration with Margaret Frazer: The Novice’s Tale, The Servant’s Tale (nominated for an Edgar® as Best Original Paperback of 1993), The Outlaw’s Tale, The Bishop’s Tale, The Boy’s Tale, and The Murderer’s Tale. Margaret Frazer presently continues the series alone.

In 1998 Monica began writing a new series for Berkley featuring a needle working sleuth. Crewel World, now in its ninth printing, came out in March and was followed by many more wonderful stories. These light and traditional novels are set in her home state of Minnesota.

Monica has taught courses on mystery writing to children at North Hennepin Community College, gifted children in District #287, and adults at one-evening seminars at Hennepin and Ramsey County libraries. She does lectures and signings, and has appeared on panels at mystery and science fiction conventions. She has won a place on national and local best-seller lists, including USA Today and the independent mystery bookstore compilation. She is a member of Sisters in Crime (a national organization that promotes women who write mystery fiction), remains a paid speaker on the life of a mystery author, and is a volunteer at Westwood Nursing Home and in area public schools.

Monica studies the medieval period as an amateur, and does needlework. She is a lector and usher in The Cathedral Church of St. Mark in Minneapolis. She collects exuberant hats and is not afraid to wear them in public.

For more on Monica and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Tuesdays at Killer Hobbies.

Here’s a brief description of the mass market paperback, THE DROWNING SPOOL:

The Drowning Spool by Monica Ferris - Thoughts in Progress Feb. 2In the USA Today bestselling Needlecraft Mysteries, Betsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel World needlework shop, knows how to untangle even the most knotty of mysteries. But a soggy murder case might have Betsy in over her head…
          Even though running Crewel World keeps Betsy plenty busy, a little extra cash on the side doesn’t hurt. So when the local senior complex, Watered Silk, asks her to teach a class on the tricky punch needle technique, Betsy jumps at the opportunity to win over some new customers.
          Unfortunately, the business that Betsy drums up is not of the needlework variety. A young woman is found floating in Watered Silk’s therapy pool, and Betsy’s sleuthing skills are immediately called upon to figure out who drowned her. But the list of suspects is more twisted than any Betsy has encountered before. The young woman had three lovers—each with a motive for the murder.
          It’s up to Betsy to sort out the snarl of romantic entanglements and find a killer, or the wrong man is bound to get pinned for a crime he didn’t commit… 

A free embroidery pattern is included in the book.

 Series: A Needlecraft Mystery (Book 17)
 Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
 Publisher: Berkley; Reissue edition (February 3, 2015)
 Language: English
 ISBN-10: 0425270092
 ISBN-13: 978-0425270097

Now here are my thoughts on her newest release, DARNED IF YOU DO:

Author Monica Ferris has a way of crafting characters that draw you in quickly and make you feel a part of the setting. The characters are likable and well-developed and many of them face daily issues readers can relate to.

The story flows smoothly and at a steady pace holding the reader’s interest. The twists and turns adds to the suspense. The needlework shop setting is pleasant and charming.

While there is a free crochet pattern included with the story, readers don’t have to be crafters to enjoy this tantalizing mystery. Storms, hoarders and murder leads to a fascinating story.

Darned If You Do by Monica Ferris, A Needlecraft Mystery Book #18, Berkley, @2015, ISBN: 978-0425270103, Hardcover, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.


This giveaway is for one print copy of DARNED IF YOU DO. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Feb. 10. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Monica Ferris’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope we’ve enticed you to check out either or both DARNED IF YOU DO and THE DROWNING SPOOL. Do you feel like you have to be able to do the craft featured in a book to really enjoy the story? Or, do you find that new-to-you crafts just make you want to try something new?

*SIDENOTE: In case I missed responding to you yesterday, I just wanted to THANK everyone again for all the birthday wishes. It was a fun day despite the rainy skies.

*This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. You do introduce me to some wonderful cosies and fuel my book lust with each and every post.
    Both of these books sound excellent. Thank you, and Monica.

  2. Monica, you've had a great career so far. Congratulations.

  3. Great series, hope to get a chance to read it :)

  4. What a fun series, thank you for the chance to win.

  5. Keep working on Betsy - She'll come around.

  6. Mason - Thanks for hosting Monica.

    Monica - I think needlepoint can be a great context for a series. And you have such an interesting background to bring to it! I wish you (and Betsy) much success.

  7. I would love to read this book—thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  8. I love this series! I think that if this craft is your hobby, the series is more enjoyable.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  9. That sounds like a Darned good novel. Too bad I can't win a copy.

  10. She seems to be a delightful person. Very full of life and fun to be around...and her characters seem the same way!

  11. A new series to me but I love the fact that it takes place in the Minneapolis area - not too far from where I live! It's always fun to spot places where you've been/are familiar.

  12. I love Monica Ferris' Needlepoint Mysteries so I am sure this one will be great. Thank you for the chance.


  13. I really like the cover image for this book. It looks quite antique. I also think we'd both enjoy the story. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  14. This series sounds captivating and fascinating. I enjoy reading about crafts very much. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  15. Monica, thanks again for visiting with us. It's always fun to learn more background information on a character. Wishing you much success.

    Hi, all. Thanks for stopping by. Good luck to all entering the giveaway. :)

  16. These sound like delightful books!

  17. I love her books. She looks like a friend of mine. Thought my friend had been keeping a secret from me. Bobbipad at gmail dot com

  18. I've never read this author but I've heard her books are very good. I'd love to start with this one. It sounds like something I would enjoy. Thank you!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.