Thursday, June 7, 2018

Author Interview, Book Spotlight, & #Giveaway ~ Unringing the Bell by Judy Higgins ~ #Mystery ~ @JudyHBooks @GoddessFish

Please welcome Judy Higgins to the blog today!!

1. If you could apologize to someone in the past, who would it be?

My children. I was so focused on turning my daughter into a musician that I failed to see that she was talented in art. She should have been taking art lessons instead of trying to learn to play the violin, flute, piano, and I forget what other instrument I forced her to try. As for my son, who was the musical one, I refused to let him switch from violin to viola when he begged to. Very selfishly, I wanted to see him stroll on stage as the concertmaster which only a violinist can do. I’m embarrassed now about my parental lack of understanding.

2. If you could keep a mythological/paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

I’d keep a merman in a gigantic aquarium in my bathroom.

3. How do you keep your writing different from all the others who write in this particular genre?

I think my Bucks County Mystery series is different from most mysteries out there in that the focus is as much on the family and friends who are affected by a murder, kidnapping, or other crime as it is on solving the mystery. Louis Penny is an author that has a similar focus; her books are about more than just discovering whodunit, even though that’s an important part. In Unringing the Bell, Jacob Gillis has nothing to do with the murder itself. Nor is he supposed to be involved with solving it, although in the end, it’s his meddling which brings about a surprise ending. But because of his meddling, Jacob stands to lose both his career and his reputation. Fritz Herschmann in Bride of the Wind experiences a parent’s worst nightmare: the disappearance of his daughter, so the book has to be as much about his agony as it is finding out what happened to her.

4. What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?

The best advice was to create a work space, set a time for writing, and then stick to it like it’s a religion.

And the worst? This was something I had to discover for myself. I was invited to join two other ladies for bi-weekly critiquing. They were both younger than me, not that that should make any difference. No matter what I wrote, they found fault with it. I even gave restaurants in my books what they thought were silly names. Every week, my self-confidence inched downwards. Some weeks it didn’t inch; it plummeted. I was patient with this because I knew I had a lot to learn and thought if I listened to their advice I’d learn a bit. But what happened was that I eventually got to the place where I thought I should give up writing because of my ineptitude. The group disbanded. When I described to a friend who knew both me and them what had happened, the friend said, “You didn’t know they were just jealous?” I was astounded and hadn’t a clue why they would be jealous. “Because your book (The Lady) won a prize,” the friend explained. “And neither of them has ever been able to win a prize.”

I have no idea if that was true, but I did learn my lesson: Be careful of what kind of critique group you join. I am in one now that is wonderful. We point out each other’s mistakes, disparities, problems, and offer suggestions, but we also give praise where it’s due. And we are not in any sort of competition. We wish the best for each other.

5. Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Neither of the two books in the Bucks County Mysteries series is based on events in my own life. There is one back story event that happened in the Pennsylvania town I lived in. Two young boys accidentally set fire to the town and a large portion of it burned. I was away when it happened. I used a similar event as a catalyst for how Jacob feels about himself. Two of the characters in the series are based on people I knew. Dr. Zuela Hay (Aunt Zuela), the zany Shakespeare professor, is closely based on someone I knew. She’s funny, irreverent, unpredictable, intelligent, and gossipy. In Bride of the Wind, the second book in the series, a man I once knew was the model for Fritz Herschmann. I even gave my character the same first name as my friend. The real Fritz had escaped Austria to come to the United States right after the Anschluss. I changed their professions, but personality- and interest-wise, the character and the real man are very similar. Quincy Bruce in The Lady is in part me. I grew up in the same place and time as Quincy, and I also had parents who ridiculed my ambition to be a musician. What isn’t true is that my parents were not as religious as Quincy’s.

Genre: Mystery

About the Book:

In the small town of Goose Bend, Pennsylvania, people don't forget. Especially something as sensational as 12-year-old Jacob Gillis burning down the town. Nineteen years later, Jacob returns, hoping for redemption. Instead, he finds himself entangled in a murder investigation. The prosecutor, taking advantage of Jacob's involvement with the victim's beautiful sister-in-law, threatens Jacob with loss of career and reputation if he doesn't play by his rules. Only by outwitting the prosecutor can Jacob save his future.

Read an Excerpt:

When Jacob Gillis was twelve years old, he burned down the town of Goose Bend, Pennsylvania. The fire didn’t actually consume the entire town – only two blocks of the four-block business section went up in flames – but when the folks in Goose Bend spoke of the incident, they persisted in saying that Jacob Gillis, abetted by his friend Charlie Garrett, burned down the town.

Jacob watched Laskey walk back to the Sequoia, his limp barely detectable, and for the thousandth time he wondered why his friend kept what had happened to his foot a secret. But there were some places Laskey didn’t go – formidable Laskey with his gruff manner and hard-muscled body. He was a private person and sometimes a grizzly bear, but he had a goose-down heart which he tried like heck to hide. But Jacob knew.

Laskey grasped the arms of his chair and pushed his feet hard against the floor to contain himself. For a brief moment, the thought had rushed through his head that a jail term for assaulting a DA would be worth enduring for the pleasure of smashing Inglehook’s head against his desk.

Laskey squared his shoulders, turned around, and looked Jacob in the eyes. “Don’t get yourself in a mess, Jake. Extrication isn’t always possible.” He started for the door.

“Give back the painting,” he called over his shoulder. “And Jake,” he paused and twisted around. “Don’t ever mistake pretty wrappings for the quality of the gift inside.”

Purchase Links:

Meet the Author:

Judy Higgins was born in South Georgia where she grew up playing baseball, reading, and taking piano lessons. To pay for her lessons, she raised chickens and sold eggs to neighbors. She attended Mercer University for two years, and then Baylor University from which she graduated with a BA in German. She received her MA in German literature from The University of Michigan. After teaching German for several years, Judy decided to become a librarian and earned an MA in Library Science at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. 

Judy’s life took an exciting turn when she left her teaching job in Pennsylvania to be Head of Library at the Learning Center School of Qatar Foundation. She lived in Qatar for eight years, enjoying the experience of living in a different culture and traveling to exotic places during every vacation. Recently, she returned to the United States and lives in Lexington, KY. Judy has two children, Julia and Stephen, two children-in-law, Jim and Erin, and four grandchildren: Kyle, Jon, Karina, and Addy.

Judy’s first book, The Lady, was a finalist in the 2012 Amazon Break-out Novel Award. The first two novels of her Bucks County Mysteries, Unringing the Bell and Bride of the Wind are available March 1, 2018. The series is set in an imaginary small town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Call me Mara, the story of Ruth and Naomi, is scheduled for publication in March, 2019.

In addition to writing, Judy’s passions include travel, tennis, elephants, and playing the piano.

Social Media Links:

Giveaway Details and Entry Form:

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.

Encourage your readers to follow the tour and comment; the more they comment, the better their chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


  1. I enjoyed getting to know your book and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Congrats on the tour and I appreciate the book description and giveaway also. We have found some great books in these tours.

  3. I never did try writing, except assignments in school. I have played piano, and have wanted to play flute and violin, don't feel bad about coaching her in that direction, she won't regret it. She can always dabble or focus in art, too. I miss not having more music, and can't afford lessons now.

  4. What kind of books do you like to read? Thanks for hosting. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com