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Author Q&A ft Barbara Barrett | Craks in a Marriage | Book Tour | Great Escapes Tours Presents Cozy Mystery

Craks in a Marriage (Mah Jongg Mysteries) by Barbara Barrett is on virtual book tour. It stops at Readeropolis today with an author inter...

Craks in a Marriage (Mah Jongg Mysteries) by Barbara Barrett is on virtual book tour. It stops at Readeropolis today with an author interview.

Be sure to enter for a chance to win the giveaway for an ebook copy of 
Craks in a Marriage and follow the Great Escapes book tour (for other dates see the bottom of the post).


Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

My intended audience is anyone who enjoys a good whodunnit. Retirees, Floridians and mah jongg enthusiasts in particular should like this book because it features characters not unlike themselves. Why should people read the book? Because it is a fun, quick read that features quirky, relatable female characters.  

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
Since the series is titled The Mah Jongg Mysteries, each book in the series will feature terms used in mah jongg. Craks, also called “characters,” are one of the three suits of tiles used in the game. My challenge was how to work that term into a title representative of the story. Since the victim is suspected of cheating by his wife, I used the better-known term “cracks” to indicate this couple’s relationship was not on solid ground. However, since she plays mah jongg, the title has the added meaning of the role mah jongg plays in their marriage, as an outlet for her as well as her connection to the four other mah jongg players she prevails upon to help her find the killer.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

The cover and my bookmarks were designed by Chris Kridler of Sky Diary Productions in Melbourne, FL. She also was my editor. I wanted something that depicted an obvious dead body, but since this is a cozy, I didn’t want it to be in-your-face dead nor use dark colors. I also wanted to reflect the “green” flora for which Florida was named by Ponce de Leon in 1513. (Historians also think he named it “la Florida” because he landed there in April, around Easter and Pascua florida, the feast of the flowers. Thank you, Wikipedia.) The graphic she used of the legs tells the reader the victim is not only a man, but a man in loafers and slacks, not work clothes.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

In this book, my favorite character is Sydney Bonner, because she takes the lead in the undercover investigation her friend from mah jongg and wife of the victim asks her to pursue to find the murderer before she herself is charged. Syd is the ring leader amongst the four friends, the decision maker. I love the secondary story of Syd’s husband’s attempt to adjust to retirement. Besides his time on the golf course, he keeps chasing new projects to keep himself occupied. Though she wants to be supportive, her role is also to guide him and prevent him from going too far afield.

The other three friends, Marianne, Kat and Micki, will take the lead in future stories. All four are parts of a whole. In fact, are you familiar with the DISC Personality Profile published by Wiley? When I was developing these characters, I went so far as to reacquaint myself with this behavioral tool I took more than once in my former work life. Four main types of personalities (plus their subsets) are arrived at by the way the participant answers several questions. These types are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. Each of my amateur sleuths represents one of these traits. From what I’ve told you already, you’ve probably guessed Sydney is the dominant one. Every time I’ve completed this analysis, Dominance hasn’t been my main trait, even though I aspired to it. Syd represents the dominant me I want to be. She’s also tall; I barely reach five foot one. Truly, this is a case of the author living through her characters.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

The best way to learn more about my books is to visit my website at If you go there, you’ll note I also write contemporary romance novels. Currently, eleven plus one novella have been published. I’m taking a risk branching into this totally different genre with the same pen name. I hope my romance readers will venture into this new area with me, but I also hope to develop a new audience of cozy readers. I thought it would be less confusing to keep the same name.

I also maintain my own Facebook page where I keep my followers updated about my writing career and related topics. You can find it at   

If you’d like to learn more about my books, I’d love to have you join my newsletter. Just send me an email at

What can we expect from you in the future?

I have established some very ambitious writing goals for myself this year. I’ve accomplished the first with the publication of Craks in a Marriage. Next, I plan to finish Books 2 and 3 before returning to romance, which I’ve temporarily put on hold. I have committed to contributing a second novella to Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay Kindle World in July. That leaves the rest of the year to concentrate on Books 4 and 5 in my romance series, UnderWright Productions, about the birth and development of a TV production company. Beyond that, I have no writing plans other than to evaluate reader reception of both series and determine my next direction from that.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

The two obvious responses to this question are to review the book and share your enjoyment with friends and others who might be interested. Word of mouth can be a powerful way to build an author’s career. Beyond that, share with me what you liked and didn’t like and also suggestions about what you’d like to see in future stories about these four friends.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Finish the book. It may not be the one that eventually gets published, but the self-confidence that comes with completing an entire story is fuel that will charge your brain to create more and proof that you can do it.

Write every day. It takes a while for the discipline to be established, but in time, it’s like exercise, you can’t stand to be away from it for any length of time.

Get feedback. Not from your friends and family but from other writers.

Join a writers’ group. The support you’ll receive is more fuel for your spirit and brain.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

If you’re read this far, thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about Barbara Barrett and Craks in a Marriage. If you’re like me and you do the following, it’s a good sign you’ll like cozy mysteries if you haven’t tried them.
  • Can’t miss an episode of “Jeopardy.” Not only that, you can’t resist beating the contestants to the correct answers.
  • When you can’t sleep, you try to remember the names of characters and their portrayers’ names from your favorite film or TV show.
  • You can’t resist identifying the culprit in a TV or movie murder mystery before it’s obvious to the audience.
  • You still love to watch “Murder, She Wrote.”

About the Book

Craks in a Marriage (Mah Jongg Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting - Florida
Self Published (February 6, 2018)
Print Length: 204 pages

  Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

When Sydney Bonner overhears a fellow mah jongg player arguing on the phone with her husband, she realizes the couple’s “perfect marriage” isn’t all it appears to be. A few days later, the husband is found dead, his head bashed in. Fearing she’ll be considered the most likely suspect, the widow prevails upon Sydney and her three friends—Marianne, Kat and Micki—to find out who really killed him.

Though none of these four fun-loving, take-charge retirees has any training as detectives, the women agree to launch a secret investigation. As they dig under the happy veneer of their community’s social life, they find more than enough suspects, from shady ladies to resentful golf buddies, to keep them looking over their shoulders.

Could the murderer be lurking among the talent in a chaotic production put on by Sydney’s husband, who will do anything to keep busy in retirement? Could the sheriff, who may have more than a professional interest in chanteuse Kat, end up pinning the crime on the women instead? Each discovery during their investigations and their weekly mah jongg game keeps them running as they close in on the killer—but the killer may also be closing in on them.

About the Author

Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.

Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she has returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.

Craks in a Marriage, the first book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who seek the murderer of another mah jongg player’s husband before she is charged. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.

Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft. Barbara is married to a man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren. Now retired, she is a resident of Florida, although she spends her summers in Iowa, her home state. She earned her B.A. degree in History from the University of Iowa and her Master’s Degree in History from Drake University. When not in front of her laptop creating her next story, she plays Mah Jongg, knits, and enjoys lunches with friends.

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  Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

  February 28 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW 
  February 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST 
  March 1 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY 
  March 2 – Cozy Up With Kathy - REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW 
  March 2 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY 
  March 3 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 
  March 4 – Laura's Interests - SPOTLIGHT 
  March 4 – Mysteries with Character – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY 
  March 5 – Readeropolis - AUTHOR INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY 
  March 6 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews - REVIEW 
  March 7 – Valerie's Musings – REVIEW 
  March 7 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT 
  March 8 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW 
  March 8 – Socrates' Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
  March 9 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST 
  March 9 – Brooke Blogs - REVIEW, GIVEAWAY  

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