Monday, January 4, 2016

Her Deadly Inheritance by Beth Ann Ziarnik

I was privileged to read a complimentary copy of Beth Ziarnik’s debut contemporary novel, Her Deadly Inheritance, set in Grand Island, Michigan. I enjoy reading about ‘real location’ novels. Beth skillfully brought me to Grand Island and Williams Landing without overdoing the description, instead allowing me to experience the flavor of life and neighborhood in this Lake Superior town. I also love historical homes and Windtop allowed me to step inside a while, instead of driving by in my car and admiring such beauty from the curb.

 Reading  Her Deadly Inheritance kept my interest because I quickly grew concerned for the main characters and wondered what would happen to them next. Her likable characters are oh-so-likable and her ‘questionable’ characters, or shall I refer to them as difficult ones, are very unlikeable! My favorite personalities from this story are Jill Shepherd, Clay Merrick, Amelia and Mrs. Fenton. And I can’t forget Button! Let’s not forget Button! Tia gripped my heart and where, oh where, did Beth find such a cool name for a character?

I may have met a few ‘Lenore’ type people in my life before, or could I say individuals headed down the same road, concerning attitude and focus! I appreciated that there was real reason for the romantic thread between Jill and Clay. I dislike stories that base the ‘attraction’ on the fact that the characters are in the story crisis at that time and place. Beth developed the romantic relationship with a believable connection that peppered my interest and kept me turning pages and hoping for a positive outcome. 

 I enjoyed the mysterious suspense woven nicely throughout the story. The biggest chunk of my heart cleaves to historical stories and Beth seasons her contemporary story with a touch of this.  I applaud Beth for keeping the suspense and surprise rolling throughout the novel, yes, all the way to the end. This is an enjoyable fast read with hometown warmth that embraced my heart. The spiritual thread was refreshing; for there is always a deeper level in stories that includes this real part of our life experience. Calling all fans of Christian, romantic suspense, this is a novel for you and I highly recommend Her Deadly Inheritance, a debut novel by Beth Ziarnik. I found myself comparing Beth’s storytelling to Colleen Cobel’s novels. So, if you are a Colleen Cobel fan then I believe you will enjoy Beth’s novel, Her Deadly Inheritance.

1)      Beth, your characters are, well, shall we say— the likeable ones are very likable and the not likeable ones so unlikable! It is so important for me to like someone in the novel and you succeeded wonderfully well. How did you come up with your main characters?
First of all, Sue, thank you for hosting me on your blog. I'm delighted to be here. As for my main characters--Jill and Clay, I started with the question, "What if?" What if someone my Main Character loved was murdered, and loopholes in the law prevented the criminal from being brought to justice? How would my Main Character handle that? Would being Christian make a difference? If so, how? If not, why?  As I thought about this, various scenes and snippets of dialogue and action materialized. I wrote them down, coming to know Jill and Clay as I observed them. I later discovered this unusual pattern marks me as a seat-of-the-pants writer. I just sit down at my computer and write without knowing a whole lot until it unfolds in the telling of the story. I don't understand how or why this works. I just know it does.

2)      I remember you talking about the location for this  novel. Tell us your favorite memory from when you researched this novel. Her Deadly Inheritance takes place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula at Munising and Grand Island during the weeks around the Fourth of July. My husband Jim and I explored the setting twice, loving the beautiful rock formations, lakes, and historical buildings on the wilderness island. As Dave Worel, then the park ranger, guided us around the island, we experienced the downpour that catches Jill during a key scene at Echo Lake near the heart of Grand Island. We visited the serenity of the historic island cemetery which I use in the story, and Dave also took us to the best location for Jill's fictional, historical house. The three of us exploring that island was so exciting.

3)      Tell us your next favorite memory or fact about your research trip.
On our first research trip, Jim & I rented a small cabin in Munising. The first night, a huge thunderstorm came crashing down and lasted for quite some time. We were safe in the cabin, but the din was so loud that we couldn't hear each other no matter how close we stood. We learned the next day that a fierce storm like that one could break in two the great ships, carrying iron ore on Lake Superior. Also that anyone drowning will not rise to the surface. Bodies freeze quickly and rest on the bottom of that deep lake. If ever found, they can be thawed and processed for a funeral even years later. All this information came in handy in Jill and Clay's story.

4)      I love the varying spiritual maturity or lack thereof in your  characters. Who emulates your favorite spiritual journey in your novel.
Jill does, as she desperately tries to do what she believes is right and often fails. Yet she picks herself up and tries again, not realizing she is actually making progress--until the very end.

5)      Who are your favorite authors? (I noticed that you have mystery and suspense in with your romance novel.)
These days, I love the works of many Christian authors. But years ago, it was Phyllis A, Whitney for romantic suspense and Grace Livingston Hill for Christian romance. I ate up the works of both authors like candy. Mrs. Whitney's books gave me my love for romantic suspense long before Christian publishers were interested in the genre. Her novels and articles on how to write romantic suspense also gave me a head start on the "how-to" of the genre. Mrs. Hill's stories taught me the beauty of what love could be between Christian heroes and heroines. Both authors have influenced how I write through the lives and hearts of my 21st Century characters.

6)      What advice would you like to give a reader who relates to Tia?
Jill's younger cousin struggles with a lot of issues, not the least of which is her deeply flawed relationship with her mother. My advice to a reader who might relate to Tia is to realize that God always knows the best path to your healing--even if a relationship never becomes what you believe it should, or dream it could, be. 

7)       The cover is absolutely lovely! Were you allowed to be involved in the selection of art used to represent your novel?
Thank you, Sue. The design artists at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas sure did a super job. They asked me to supply information about mood and what elements I'd prefer--like the house and the heroine. My editor asked what I thought of the first version. Though that cover was close, it needed a more delicate-looking Jill. Next, I was offered two versions of the new cover, one with and one without color. After an online vote, the outcome was so close that the choice landed in my lap again. Yikes! I loved them both, but as I prayed, the color version kept grabbing my attention. I'm glad I went with that one. I love it and hope readers will, too.

8)      Why did you pick the Fourth of July as a focus event for your novel.
Munising's old-fashioned and colorful Fourth of July celebration had so many useful elements, and it was "near the anniversary" of the tragic death of Jill's mother three years before. Can I also confess that I am unashamedly patriotic? I love our country and what our forefathers forged and fought to birth as a nation. I love that it grew to free the slaves and give women the vote. I love that its Armed Forces are willing to fight for our freedom and that of others. We have a lot to celebrate.

9)      What is your favorite social media? (FB, Pinterest, Twitter etc.?)
I enjoy Facebook. It gives me a chance to chat with family and friends. They amaze me with their enthusiasm about my novel and are just plain fun to be around. Maybe I'll like other forms of social media as I learn how to use them, but for now, it's Facebook. As of last week I now have two pages--the one I started with at and my newest one for especially for romantic suspense fans at

10)   What is your favorite recipe? Would you like to share it or do you have plans to share it on a mailing? Do people need to give you their email for you to share it with them?
Oven Beef/Venison Stew from an old Homes & Gardens recipe book I picked up free at a supermarket years ago. It's basically chunks of meat, carrots, potatoes and onion (lots more onion, if using vension), and a condensed cream of tomato soup partially diluted as the sauce. Add whatever salt and pepper you prefer. Mix it all up in a roaster, and bake covered at 350 degrees for about two to two-and-a half hours. When the meat is fall-apart tender, it's done. I think that's what Amelia shared with Jill in one of the scenes in Her Deadly Inheritance. Good idea, Sue, I think I will share the recipe online at my new Facebook page.. 

      11)  Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?
Well, yes. I have a confession. For Jill's fictional house on Grand Island--the one she inherited, I borrowed Mark Twain's fabulous house in Connecticut. I made a few changes to suit my story, but otherwise a lot of the features are the same. You can google "Mark Twain's house" and find a link to its website. Once there, you can explore the house online. I am a great fan of architecture, especially huge, old houses with lots of nooks and crannies, and this house is one of the best. Maybe sometime, I'll get to see it in person.

12) How do you wish for your readers to contact you?
·   They can email me through my website at
·   Beth Ann Ziarnik

Thanks again for hosting me, Sue. It's been fun, and I hope to see you soon!

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