DIRTY ROTTEN TENDRILS
- Abby’s hometown went overboard to welcome back a local reality show star. Are reality show winners real celebrities?
- Did your first impression of Attorney “the Lip” Lipinski change by the end of the book? How would you summarize his character?
- Why do you think Cody Verse didn’t give his former buddy/writing partner Andrew the recognition he deserved?
- Why did Abby feel duty-bound to warn Marco’s brother Rafe about marrying Cinnamon?
- What strategy did Abby use to convince Marco to keep their engagement news a secret from his mom?
- Why does Abby fear Marco’s mother won’t like her?
- Why didn’t Abby trust handsome new reporter Connor Mackay?
- Dave is suffering as a result of his mother’s condition. Do you know anyone with this disease? Is his fear logical?
- Abby hated piano lessons as a child. What were her reasons? Did you take music lessons? Love them or hate them? Does it help children to learn an instrument?
- How does Abby’s niece Tara personify today’s pre-teen?
- How did Abby hurt attorney Dave Hammond’s case?
- Do you agree with Abby’s grandmother’s advice: Summer and winter with a man before you agree to marry him?
- Why was Marco upset about Abby’s text message: CALL WHEN U CAN? Is that typical of a man’s reaction? Is it warranted?
- How did Abby’s cousin Jillian finally convince starlet Lila Redmond to let her shop for her?
- Andrew Chapper’s grandfather suffers from a condition common to men who’ve been through combat. Do you know any soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder? Are they getting help for it?
- Why does Abby think Rapunzel would feel at home at Cinnamon’s parents’ house?
- Why are Abby’s high heels an issue for her?
- How does Abby solve the Tee Tea Cart problem?
- What caused Rafe and Cinnamon’s break-up?
- Darla Mae Brown has a blogsite devoted to ways to kill her ex-husband. Should that be allowed? Do sites like that give impressionable people ideas?
- Lottie’s makeover, courtesy of Jillian, was totally wrong for her, or was it? Should her 70's look be updated? Do you know people who have never changed their high school look?
- Andrew’s grandmother explains why Cody’s betrayal cut Andrew so deeply. Is a friend’s betrayal a worse offense than being cut out of rightful money?
- Why does Marco bait attorney Scott Hess? What was he trying to find out?
- Why does Marco decide to sell his bar? Is this a good idea? Why is Abby against it?
- Were you surprised to learn who killed the Lip? Did the killer have logical reasons?
- In the surprising conclusion, what is Abby now facing?
SLEEPING WITH THE ANEMONE
- Does Abby’s niece Tara strike you as a typical young teen? Why or why not?
- Why isn’t Abby frightened by Nils Raand?
- With all of Abby’s mom’s artistic failures, why does Abby encourage her to continue?
- What tactics are Abby’s and Marco’s family using to pressure them to get married?
- Why does Abby’s mom get involved in the petition against Uniworld?
- Can you compare Uniworld to actual giant food companies’ unsafe practices?
- Why is Abby nervous about making a decision on their wedding date?
- What is the purpose of Abby’s list of pluses and minuses, and is that a good way to decide?
- Is Abby’s inability to reach the city attorney typical? Have you ever tried to reach an attorney and never received a return call?
- Why doesn’t Abby take the letter threats seriously?
- In what ways does Tara’s behavior mimic Abby’s?
- Abby appreciated Marco’s efforts to keep her safe, yet they made her testy. Is that understandable?
- Who did you think was the big, sweating man in the third person scenes? Were you right?
- Why did Abby have difficulty accepting her dad’s handicap?
- Why does Abby label Marco as autocratic when she always admired his leadership ability?
- Thinking of the jar of red hearts on Abby’s parents’ coffee table, do you see them as a close couple? How do they use humor in their marriage?
- Why does Marco’s mother scare Abby?
- Why is Abby’s father against Abby referring to Marco as her hero?
- How does Abby’s dad’s advice change her perspective of Marco?
- Abby is shocked to learn her parents were on the verge of divorce. Can you relate to that? Was it fair of them to not tell her?
- How did Abby get her nickname, Abracadabra?
- What did Abby mean by, ‘There was only one cripple in the room and it wasn’t dad.’?
- Did Rafe’s choice of a girlfriend surprise you?
- Were you surprised by the ending?
SHOOTS TO KILL
- How does the opening scene in the jail set the stage for the rest of the story?
- What do you think was at the heart of Libby’s fixation on Abby?
- Why does Libby seem genuinely puzzled by Abby’s rejection?
- Why do Marco, Grace, and Lottie, doubt Abby’s suspicions?
- Would you classify Delphi as a narcissist? Did she love her children?
- Did Libby care about her brother?
- Was Oliver delusional or exceedingly cunning?
- Why did Oliver trust Abby, i.e. call her his OOTTO?
- Was Libby’s plan to set Abby up all along, or did she conceive it after Abby rejected her?
- When Abby rushes to Libby’s house and sees Det. Lisa Wells’ car in her driveway, did you think the detective had beat Abby to the draw?
- How did Marco attempt to show Abby that he’d never stopped caring?
- Were they both at fault for not trusting each other, or only Marco or Abby?
- Did Abby let Marco off the hook too easily?
EVIL IN CARNATIONS
- Why was Abby surprised that Nikki didn’t tell her the whole truth?
- Do you agree with Marco’s statement that everyone is capable of killing? Give an example.
- Was Abby justified in feeling betrayed by Nikki? Have you ever felt betrayed by a friend?
- Was Abby living a double standard with Nikki?
- Would you ever consider speed dating? Why or why not?
- Have you ever had any dealings with unscrupulous contractors?
- Have you ever met a man who behaved like Jonas “Treat the Cheat?”
- Do you think Iris was aware of how others viewed her?
- Was Iris’s mother responsible for Iris’s secretive behavior? Was she abusive?
- Why is Abby uncomfortable around children?
- Was Jillian being altruistic when she volunteered to help Abby at Bloomers?
- Why did Mrs. Frey hate her husband, and were her actions an example of Marco’s statement from #2 above?
- What do you take Marco’s hand squeeze at the end to mean?
MUM’S THE WORD
- Abby considers herself the black sheep of the Knight family. What positive and/or negative impact does that have on her character?
- Pryce Osborne and Marco Salvare are as opposite as two men can be. Or are they? What do you think attracted Abby to Marco? To Pryce? What was the real cause of her break-up with Pryce?
- Can you explain Abby’s love/hate relationship with the police and the judicial system?
- Stories usually contain a character who functions as the protagonist’s spiritual guide. Who serves that function for Abby?
- What does Abby do to promote her flower shop? Were any of her attempts effective?
- What one trait does Abby find most appealing about Marco?
- Abby hates bullies and injustice. What do you think has caused each of those feelings?
- Does Abby have any obvious or hidden fears?
- What are Abby’s flaws? Can you understand or relate to them?
- Which character (if any) do you identify with, and why?
- Do you know someone like Lottie’s cousin Pearl?
- Do you think Abby comes from a normal or dysfunctional family?
- Why does Abby consider her father her hero?
- Would you classify Abby as an optimistic or pessimistic person?
- How does the ending tie in with the opening scene of the story?
SLAY IT WITH FLOWERS
- What do you think is behind Jillian’s fear of getting married?
- If an Emperor’s Spa opened in your town or neighborhood, would you take a stand against it?
- Do you think Abby’s tactic of taking photos of the clients was a good one? Were there any other means by which she could help force the business to close?
- Why does Abby worry about Grace’s opinion of her?
- Are any of the bridesmaids like women you know?
- Could you sympathize with Abby’s reaction to trying on the dress in front of the others?
- Have you ever met a man like Punch? Would you describe him as a narcissist? What makes some women go for men of his type?
- When Abby got the distress call from Passion Flower, did she make her decision based on logic or emotion, or both?
- What would you have done in that situation, given only the information Abby had at the time?
- Should massage parlors be licensed to stop the covert prostitution going on in some businesses? Are they licensed in your state?
Author’s note: The spa in this story was based on an actual business. Shortly after my book was written, the police finally raided it. It is now operating under a new name.
- Does Jillian take unfair advantage of Abby? Is Abby an enabler?
- Is Grandma Osborne, as a ninety-year-old fairly portrayed? Did you like her?
- Is Richard Davis the type of man you would expect Grace to be attracted to? What qualities does Grace admire?
- What surprised you most about Grace?
- Why does Lottie think Greg Morgan would be perfect for Abby?
- Why do you think Melanie succumbed to Jack’s charms?
- Should Abby have asked her aunt for payment, or sent a bill, or hoped she would remember eventually?
- Was Abby justified in dumping the coffee in Pryce’s lap?
- Was Sheila a sympathetic figure? Was she off-balance or just deeply wounded?
- Were you surprised to discover who the killer was? If so, who did you think it would be?
SNIPPED IN THE BUD
- What does Abby find most frightening about Professor Puffer?
- The media is notorious for hounding a murder suspect, influencing public opinion. Could Abby have handled her notoriety in a better way?
- Would you consider Jocelyn Puffer an abused spouse?
- Abby isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in, e.g. protesting animal testing at the lab. Yet she cowers before Snapdragon. Why? What does it take for her to overcome that fear?
- Did Abby seriously consider Connor MacKay as a romantic interest? If Marco hadn’t been in the picture, would she have gone for him? Would they have been a good match? Should Connor come back in a future book to threaten Abby’s relationship with Marco?
- Why did Professor Reed have an affair with Jocelyn?
- What caused the rivalry between Puffer and Reed?
- Were Kenny’s motives understandable?
- Did Puffer’s actions at the end of the story stay true to his character?
- Did you feel you understood Jillian’s reasons for fearing marriage?
ACTS OF VIOLETS
- A fear of clowns seems to be a common phobia. What causes it?
- Is Marco’s mother in favor of her son seeing Abby? Would she be an interfering mother-in-law? What about Abby’s mother?
- Would Marco’s sister Gina be likely to try to stop any future wedding plans?
- Do you think Eudora had psychological problems before her dog’s death? Could that alone have triggered her behavior?
- Why didn’t Ed seek more help for his wife? Do you think he was in denial at all?
- Do people react more strongly to animal cruelty than to human cruelty?
- Did Trina do enough to stop Ryson’s harassment? What else should she have done?
- Eudora’s revenge took careful planning. Would that be possible for someone who had gone off the deep end? Could her behavior have been complicated by inhaling poisonous powder?
- Abby tells Nikki that she erred in revealing her feelings for Marco. Do you agree that telling a guy how you feel about him could be the kiss of death to a budding relationship? Are Abby and Marco at a point where she should feel safe in telling him?
- Being a step-parent is a tough job, especially when dealing with a delinquent child, as Dennis Ryson obviously was. Did you at first believe Eve had tried to harm him? Did she had a strong enough motive?
- Did Eve’s lisping make it difficult to understand her?
Author’s note: In my original manuscript, Eve Taylor lisped only when she said “thomething thpecial” or “thecret.” Unfortunately, a copy editor made changes in her speech that I didn’t catch until the book had gone to print. I sincerely apologize for this error.
A ROSE FROM THE DEAD
- Much of the mortician’s humor and convention information was found during my internet research for the book. Did their dark humor surprise you? Is it out of place, or understandable? Are you surprised to know that the convention souvenirs I name in the story are actually available?
- Was Abby wrong to feel threatened by Grace’s sleuthing?
- Ross and Jess seem to flaunt convention. Is it the rebelliousness of their age or that they feel untouchable because of their father’s wealth and influence? Is their behavior typical of wealthy young men?
- With the “green” ecology movement becoming so popular, do you think people will embrace the natural burial concept? Are any funeral homes in your city offering that service?
- Are breaking and entering for a good reason (e.g. to find a murderer) okay or not?
- Angelique was attracted to Sybil’s soul music because it was so dissonant. Why would that draw someone like Angelique?
- Did Sybil show any characteristics that would garner your respect or make you want to befriend her?
- Why do you think Sybil married her husband, who was a good deal older than her?
- Billingsworth and Blount deceived many people with their cremation scam. Should the Colonel have been more remorseful? How should he have made reparation to his customers? Are the customers better off never knowing the truth?
- Should Ross have been charged as an adult with a crime? If not, why? If so, with what? Aiding and abetting a murder? Criminal confinement?
- Does Chet Sunday remind you of any particular actor or celebrity? Why?
Abby thinks she knows all about her friends. Ha. If only! We can only hope that one of these days (or books) she’ll find out. She is, after all, quite a sleuth.
Marco Salvare prides himself on his masculinity but -- he has a secret passion for all things violet. He’s been known to go wild over the scent of violets when applied to a female body. Ah, if only Abby knew to use that Vibrant Violet body lotion she shoved in the back of her closet. . . Marco also has a thing for red hair and freckles on a woman, quite the opposite from his olive-skinned Italian-American family. He thinks it’s great that Abby doesn’t make a fuss over him. He doesn’t quite get other women doing so, either. He’s just an average guy who owns a bar and happened to have been an Army Ranger.
Lottie Dombowski was a “flower child” in the seventies. She called herself “Lotta Lovin” and led a bra-burning protest march on the New Chapel town square. She met her teddy bear husband Herman at a sit-in and married him two weeks later. FYI: Herman was the guy in a tie-dyed shirt and love beads. Now he wears relaxed fit jeans, but he still has that old tie-dye tee.
Grace Bingham, while a young nurse with the British Army, stationed in Germany in 1958, was introduced to Elvis Presley!! (He was an American GI). After her tour of duty was over, she took guitar lessons and died her hair black in the “Elvis” style. She believes Graceland was named for her. Grace also dated one of the actors in a Monty Python movie, but she won’t say who.
Deputy Prosecutor Greg Morgan, the handsomest man in New Chapel and the courthouse staff’s golden boy, totally ignored Abby in high school . She had a huge crush on Morgan then, but might not have had she known him in grade school when he was known as “Mouse Boy” for his habit of nibbling pencils, erasers, and wooden rulers. He was always the teacher’s pet and was regularly beat up for it until his mother started walking him to and from school. Pretty embarrassing for a thirteen-year-old! Then he had his ears pinned and teeth fixed, moved to New Chapel, and into Abby’s life. Now he’s a constant reminder of her high school rejection.
Police Sergeant Sean Reilly, at the age of eighteen, had aspirations of becoming a priest, but became a biker, instead. (He couldn’t give up the ladies.) He wore black leather jackets and pants, dread locks, and a full beard. His nickname was Irish Thunder.
Jillian Knight, Abby’s flirty, flighty, twenty-five year old cousin, the bane of her existence, has an IQ of 145. Go figure! Jillian suffered bad scoliosis as a child and had corrective surgery to straighten her spine. She would never admit it to Abby, but she really admires her cousin’s native intelligence. Not too bad for being a law school flunk out. Now if only Jillian could persuade Abby to let her do a wardrobe redo. I mean, seriously, Abby does NOT know how to shop a sale.
Maureen “Mad Mo” Knight, Abby’s mom. Mo is a kindergarten teacher by day and a self-taught artist by night. She truly believes she can “save” Abby’s struggling flower shop by selling her art pieces there. Anyone need a Dancing Naked Monkey table? Mo grew up on a farm in Southern Illinois and can milk a cow like a pro. She can also ride them. She would never tell anyone in New Chapel that, though!
Jeffrey Knight, Abby’s dad, a former police sergeant who was wounded in the line of duty – chasing down a drug dealer. While in surgery to remove the bullet, he suffered a stroke and is now paralyzed from the hips down. Abby inherited her red hair and freckles from her Irish cop da, and developed her hatred of injustice from the fact that the drug dealer spent a mere nine months in jail, while her dad is a prisoner of his wheelchair forever. Jeff wouldn’t tell Abby this, but he’s glad she flunked out of law school. It wasn’t a good fit for her. Bloomers is where his daughter belongs.
Why did you decide to write mysteries?
My muse, having been a longtime fan of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, said I had to, and what my muse dictates, I must do. Trust me, she doesn’t take no for an answer.
So, who in their right mind would ever want to become a writer and have to put up with muses?
That’s the problem. As a left-handed human, I’ve been told I’m always in my right mind. (But not by my husband.)
Have you always wanted to write books?
Are you kidding? I didn’t even like writing checks. If someone had told me (especially while I was laboring over my eighth grade writing assignments, one being, “Describe your life as an inanimate object”) that I would one day write books, I would have punched him or her out. I knew in second grade that I wanted to be a teacher, and nothing would deter me from that goal.
What changed your mind?
It wasn’t until after I’d earned a master’s degree in education, taught elementary school for six years, had two children, and took lessons in tole painting, cross stitch needlework, crochet, embroidery, rug hooking, macrame, gardening, and sewing before I discovered I had a flair for telling stories. (It wasn’t like I didn’t already know. My mother had stood me in the corner many times for “telling stories.” She called it fibbing. Same difference.)
What is your writing schedule? Do you only write when the mood strikes?
If I had to wait for a mood to strike I’d write twice a year. What strikes most often is fear. Fear of missing a deadline, fear of having to work around the clock to make the deadline, fear of phone calls from people wanting to chat during my deadline rush, and fear of my bladder bursting from too many cups of green tea. Actually, my routine is quite, well, routine. I’m at the computer by nine in the morning, break for lunch at noon, back to work at one o’clock, and out the door for a walk by four in the afternoon. I treat it as a job, but I love it as a passion.
You just answered my next question, which was, why do you do it?
And your point is?
Are your children following in your footsteps?
My son graduated with a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College. My daughter studied theater set design and costume design at Loyola University. I think they may have caught some of the creative bug from me, but they are very talented people in their own right, as are my extended family of children.
And your husband?
He’s an attorney. (Some would say he tells stories, too.) I say he’s my hero. He’s witty, romantic, strong, supportive, encouraging, and has more integrity in his little finger than any man I know. I’d brag more, but he embarrasses easily. And he’s peering over my shoulder.
How did you come up with the character of Abby Knight?
Writing mystery with a humorous undertone and a dash of romance calls for a special sleuth. So I created a quick, feisty little redhead who loves to meddle and hates bullies and injustice; a fearless, female, knight-in-shining armor, (hence the last name Knight) ready to tackle the craftiest killer. Abby was originally going to be a newly graduated lawyer, but that was too dull for my plucky heroine. So instead she became a law school flunk-out who scrapes up enough money for the down payment on a little flower shop named Bloomers, where she can meddle to her heart’s content.
Are any of Abby’s family or friends based on people from your own life?
Just Abby’s father. My father was also a cop, a man who wouldn’t take bribes or play politics and was punished for it by being passed over for promotions for many years. Unlike Abby’s father, mine was paralyzed and wheelchair bound because of a stroke just after he retired. He was honored several times for his bravery and always downplayed it. Being familiar with the ways of cops, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with them for years. I admire their courage, but hate when they use their authority for the wrong purposes.
What have you written besides the Flower Shop Mystery series?
Since 1995 I’ve published seven historical romantic suspenses under the pen names of Linda O’Brien and Linda Eberhardt, (with a mystery in each and every one) and many short stories for children’s magazines.
So what did you write about for that eighth grade “describe your life as an inanimate object” assignment?
A spoon. Enough said.
(Answer) Without giving away a plot twist, let me just say that somewhere in the series, a certain llama plays an important role, so I thought I'd include a photo of the real animal upon which the fictional one is based. Since that book came out, the llama became a mama, so of course I had to include the baby boy. I've gained a few other llama fans along the way, so I couldn't resist including them, too.