Star O’Brien’s Second Book has Landed

When I woke up this morning, I felt like a kid again on Christmas Eve. Why? Because the second book in my Star O’Brien series released today! After a year of writing, editing, and designing, Death at Ashford Castle (Book 2) is available for Star’s fans. Sign up for my newsletter and you receive a map to go along with the book.

I’m excited to share my love of Ireland and County Mayo in my books. Each book is set in real places. Places I love and have visited through the years. The books come with a map so Star’s fans can follow along. The map for Death on Clare Island (Book 1) is available here:

I couldn’t do this without the family and friends who cheer me on with advice and most importantly love. I am so grateful!

Let’s keep the love going.

The Next Star O’Brien Cozy Mystery Set in County Mayo

Tuesday, July 7! Only two more days! Death at Ashford Castle: A Star O’Brien Mystery launches on Amazon Kindle. Sign up for my newsletter and get the map that goes with the book.

Read the first book in the series, you can order it here.

Oh, to be in Castlebar, County Mayo for my Book Launch

Location Book Launch

I planned to host a location book launch for Death at Ashford Castle this summer in Castlebar, County Mayo. Because the setting in the Star O’Brien series is real, a location book launch in Ireland matters to me. But as for most, if not all, of us, plans are on hold due to the coronavirus. The Castle Bookshop on Castle Street featured me at the Irish debut of Death on Clare Island last September. And, I’d hoped the Castle Bookshop would do the same again this summer.

Front window of Castle Bookshop
Castle Bookshop, Castle Street, Castlebar

The Castle Bookshop

Before I ever wrote a novel, I spent many happy moments in the Castle Bookshop when I’d be on vacation in Mayo. I discovered one of my favorite mother and daughter writing teams, P.J. Tracy, at the bookshop. P.J. Tracy write the Monkeewrench series. The American mother/daughter team published first in Europe before they became popular here. Like most independent book stores, the owners and assistants are familiar faces who are welcoming and ready to answer questions. Even when there’s been a long lapse of time between visits, they recognize and greet you like they just saw you yesterday.

The bookshop which has been around for thirty years also hosts Check it out, if you are looking for Irish non-fiction books specializing in County Mayo.

The Other Reasons for County Mayo Book Launch

Selfishly, I wanted my dose of the beautiful Mayo countryside. I wanted to walk along Barney Road and get my morning dose of the fields, the sheep, the mountains, and the sky. I wanted to go for coffee each morning at my favorite haunt when I’m in Ireland, Cafe Rua. But most importantly, I wanted to see my cousins and friends. Just for a wee bit. For I know I must return to my home here in Florida. But for a short time, I want to be in that heavenly space, called Ireland.

This is it for this week’s blog post. In the meanwhile, let’s keep everyone in our prayers are we deal with this pandemic. And, always keep the luv going.


Star O’Brien Strong Female Sleuth

Star is Feisty and Independent

Star O’Brien is a strong female sleuth. When I set out to write the Star O’Brien mystery series, I had some ideas in my head about what kind of person Star would be. The words “feisty”, “independent”, “inquisitive”, “relentless” came to mind. She’s had some losses in her life which have forged her being with these character traits. She doesn’t take no for an answer nor does she need anyone to tell her what to do or say. She takes the lead in her amateur investigations despite the dangers she faces.

Is there ever a good time to find the lost, the dead, and the missing? This is my mantra–maybe it’s because of my own losses, maybe it’s because this is just who I am, but I have always been for the lost souls.”

Star O’Brien in Death on Clare Island

Star is Funny (sometimes)

I wanted her to have a sense of humor. That’s why I opted for O’Brien as her surname. (You can read about how Achill Island inspired me to choose Star’s first name in an earlier blog post).

No, it stands for ‘Star O’Brien’. But I’ll admit I like the play on words.”

Star O’Brien in response to a character’s question about Star’s monogrammed initials (S-O-B) on a key chain.

Star is Flawed

Star is feisty and relentless when she faces the world around her. But underneath there is a vulnerability that keeps her from putting her emotions into relationships. She’s had too many losses in her life. She’s not about to allow a male character to swoop in and rescue her. No way! Inside she may be hurting but when she faces the world, she is S-O-B.

Female Sleuths Who Have Influenced Me

I love any mystery novel written by a female about a female sleuth. My all time favorites are Sue Grafton’s ‘Kinsey Milhone’ and Dorothy Sayer’s ‘Harriet Vane’. Recently I’ve fallen in love with Lisa Gardner’s ‘Flora Dane’.

Who are Your Favorites?

Let me know who some of your favorite strong female sleuths are?

In the meanwhile, keep the luv going.


Maps in the Star O’Brien Books

I’m posting today about why I provide maps in the Star O’Brien books. It all started with a book by mystery writer Deborah Crombie.

Deborah Crombie’s Maps of London

I am a fan and reader of Deborah Crombie’s mystery series, featuring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. The first time I came across the series was in my public library in North Haledon, New Jersey. I picked the book from the shelf and read the back cover. When I opened the book, I found a black and white map inside the front and back covers. Wow! I checked the book out of the library and followed along on the map as I read the story. I’ve been a fan of Crombie’s stories ever since for the story and the maps. Set in England, most of Crombie’s books depict London.

A map from one of Deborah Crombies books. The image is an example of a writer who provides a map with the book for readers to follow along.
A map from one of Deborah Crombie’s Kincaid/James books.

Cara Black’s Maps of Paris

Cara Black is another mystery writer who uses maps in her series. Set in France, the maps depict locations in Paris.

A map of Paris from one of Cara Black's books. This is an example of a mystery writer who provides a map with the book.
A map from a Cara Black book.

Dell’s Mystery Mapbacks

Going further back in history (before my time), Dell published mystery stories with a map on the book’s back cover (Mapbacks).

An image of a Dell paperback that has a map on the back cover. Another example of when books had maps to go with the mystery story.
A Dell Mapback Mystery

My Map Goals

Having a map to follow along when I’m reading reminds me of teenage years. I loved the Kinks and spent many evenings in my room listening to their music while I read the album cover (again) along with the lyrics to the songs.

The maps in the Star O’Brien books are free to my newsletter subscribers. Set in Ireland, the locations are real. One of the things I enjoy most is to purchase trail and walking maps and book guides to all the wonderfully beautiful and sometimes remotes places in County Mayo (which I have visited). The reader can follow along and imagine the island’s beauty.

Sign up for my newsletter and you will receive a map of Clare Island to go along with Death on Clare Island. For the release of Death at Ashford Castle on July 7th there will be a map of the walking trail through Cong Forest for newsletter sign ups.

I’m already working on book three in the series and the ideas for the map are exciting. I can’t wait to share with you when the time comes.

In the meanwhile, keep the luv going.