Monday, December 08, 2014

Guest Blog by Juliet Blackwell - Top 10 Things I Learned While Writing Keeper of the Castle - plus a Review and Giveaway - December 8, 2014

Please welcome Juliet Blackwell to The Qwillery. Keeper of the Castle, the 5th Haunted Home Renovation Mystery, was published on December 2nd by Signet.

Top 10 Things I Learned While Writing Keeper of the Castle

For me, writing a book requires not only writing, but also a lot of research, plenty of days spent scoping out locales, and interviewing knowledgeable folks (in my case, everyone from ghostbusters to police officers to building inspectors). Luckily, I really, really, really love my job! I get to learn new things with each book.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 things I learned while writing Keeper of the Castle:

  1. William Randolph Hearst imported entire buildings – monasteries, churches, castles—from Europe to the United States. Stone by stone!
  2. If you have two different ghosts from two different times and sources inhabiting your building, they might not be able to see or talk to each other.
  3. Marin County’s building department is housed in a Civic Center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
  4. The building is so futuristic-looking it was used as a set for the movie Gattica.
  5. If you commit vandalism in Golden Gate Park, you are taken to a special little police satellite. And the people there are very nice to authors ☺
  6. Making sure stone buildings are constructed safely in an earthquake zone is no picnic—it involves a lot of drilling, installation of rebar, and surrounding cage work.
  7. It also requires a lot of special permit from the building department!
  8. It looks pretty odd when someone makes the interior of a Victorian mansion into a Spanish-revival extravaganza complete with stucco walls, murals, and low arches (this was based on an actual house I visited)
  9. Motivational speakers can be very odd…and also very motivating.
  10. Hands down, the Pelican Inn serves the best fish and chips in the Bay Area! (and Dog agrees ☺)

Keeper of the Castle
Series:  A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery 5
Publisher:  Signet, December 2, 2014
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780451465801 (print)
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

In the latest Haunted Home Renovation mystery from New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell, San Francisco contractor—and reluctant ghostbuster—Mel Turner gets hired for a job that's to die for.

Lately, Mel has been worried about finding enough historic renovation work to pay the bills. But while Turner Construction is in need of a project, Mel’s boyfriend, Graham, has his hands full managing the reconstruction of an ancient building shipped over from Scotland.

With the job plagued by rumors that the stones are cursed, Graham brings in Mel to look for paranormal activity. And while the ghost of a charming Scottish clansman does seem to be hanging around the site, the real shock comes when they stumble upon a body.

When the original construction crew starts running scared, Mel brings in her team to finish the job. Now all she has to do is nail down the killer, and put the spirits to rest, before anyone else winds up heading for the highlands…

Qwill's Thoughts

Keeper of the Castle is the 5th novel in Juliet Blackwell's Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries featuring the fabulous Mel Turner. Mel is the head of Turner Construction and can see and talk to ghosts. As usual, Mel is faced with both construction and ghost issues on her newest job - reconstructing a Scottish monastery that has been disassembled and shipped over from Scotland.

I love Mel Turner. She works hard, deals with ghost and construction issues, has a loving family, and cares about her friends and construction crew. Mel is someone I'd love to hang out with. You get enough of Mel's backstory to understand how she became who she is today. Speaking of backstories, Blackwell provides everything you need to understand the story and who each of the ongoing characters are so that you are not confused. This is done organically and does not impede the rhythm of the story. On top of that you also get to learn a bit about construction, which is fun and interesting.

One of the pleasures of reading the Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries are Mel's interactions with those around her. The banter with some, the concern about others, her suspicions are entirely believable. Even Mel's interactions with her dog Dog are a delight to read.

The mysteries are really engaging in Keeper of the Castle. Mel slowly pieces together what is going on with the ghosts at the construction site and is trying to figure out who the killer is. Blackwell really kept me guessing about the killer. When all was revealed I had a definite "aha" moment as the pieces fell into place.

Keeper of the Castle is a wonderful addition to the Haunted Home Renovation series. It's beautifully written, wonderfully paced and intriguing. I love spending time with Mel Turner.

Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries

If Walls Could Talk
A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery 1
Signet, December 7, 2010
Mass Market Paperback and eBook,  336 pages

Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. But now her reputation may be on the line.

At her newest project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools. Mel hopes that by nailing the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly presence of the murdered man-and not end up a construction casualty herself...

Dead Bolt
A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery 2
Signet, December 6, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook,  336 pages

Turner Construction's latest restoration project is a historic Queen Anne Victorian in San Francisco. This time general contractor Mel Turner has to work around the owners who insist on sticking around- along with some ghosts that insist in their own way that the work stops...

The ghosts aren't the only ones standing in the way of the renovations. A crotchety neighbor, Emile Blunt, secretly wants this house, and could be behind some of the disturbances. But when Emile is found dead, it's Mel who appears guilty. Now she must restore the building-and her reputation-before it's too late.

Murder on the House
A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery 3
Signet, December 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook,  336 pages

Bed-and-breakfast—with a side of ghosts.

Word has spread that contractor Mel Turner can communicate with the spirits of the dead, and she’s having a hard time maintaining a low profile. She decides to embrace her reputation for the chance to restore a historic house that calls to her. The new owners, who hope to run a haunted bed-and-breakfast, want Mel to encourage the ghosts that supposedly roam the halls to enhance the house’s paranormal charm.

The catch: Mel has to spend one night in the house to win the project. During the spine-chilling sleepover, the estate gains another supernatural occupant when someone doesn’t survive the night. As Mel tries to coax the resident spirits into revealing the identity of the killer, she risks becoming the next casualty of this dangerous renovation.

Home for the Haunting
A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery 4
Signet, December 3, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

No good deed goes unpunished.

San Francisco contractor Mel Turner is leading a volunteer home renovation project, and while she expects lots of questions from her inexperienced crew, she can’t help asking a few of her own—especially about the haunted house next door…the place local kids call the Murder House.

But when volunteers discover a body while cleaning out a shed, questions pile up faster than discarded lumber. Mel notices signs of ghostly activity next door and she wonders: Are the Murder House ghosts reaching out to her for help, or has the house claimed another victim?

Now, surprised to find herself as the SFPD’s unofficial “ghost consultant,” Mel must investigate murders both past and present before a spooky killer finishes another job.

About Juliet

Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mystery series, featuring a powerful witch with a vintage clothes store in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. She also writes the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series, about a failed anthropologist who reluctantly takes over her father’s high-end construction company…and finds ghosts behind the walls. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series, in which an ex-art forger attempts to go straight as a faux finisher. She is currently working on a novel about a woman who takes over her uncle’s locksmith shop in Paris, entitled The Paris Key. A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

Visit her at, join her on Facebook (JulietBlackwellAuthor) and on Twitter @JulietBlackwell

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Keeper of the Castle by Juliet Blackwell from the publisher. US ONLY

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on December 17, 2014. Void where prohibitedby law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. thank you for the chance to win, hope to get a chance to read it :)

  2. I'm a huge fan of Juliet's and own many of her books. This series is a really fun read and it affords my partner and I hours of reading enjoyment.

    I hope I'm the lucky winner.

  3. How can you resist the dog. I have to start this series.

  4. I love this series. I was attracted to the dog when I started reading this series. I'm still am to this day.

  5. OOOh nice! I LOVE this series! Already have my copy waiting to be read, so I'm passing on the contest for other readers who need this series.

    But great review! I always look forward to my favorite Paranormal Mystery authors' next books!

  6. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities---so I always enjoy books that take place there. I must find this series and start reading it. Thanks for the contest.

  7. What a wonderful series and great feature and giveaway. Thanks for this chance. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com