Friday, November 27, 2020

Welcome to the Holidays!

We here at the Stiletto Gang love our readers and hope that you're all healthy and happy this holiday season. We've put together a list of our recent works to inspire you during the gift shopping free-for-all of Black Friday. Aside from some fantastic sales many of the gang are offering giveaways and free books. So do a little shopping, but don't feel guilty if you snag a few presents for yourself as well!

Many thanks from all your friends at The Stiletto Gang!

 

 

Mary Lee Ashford

 

CONNECT AT: www.maryleeashford.com

 

GAME OF SCONES

After losing her job as food editor at a glossy magazine, Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway—aka “Sugar” to friends—isn’t sweet on accepting defeat and crawling back to her gossipy southern hometown. So when she has an opportunity to launch a community cookbook business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer in peaceful St. Ignatius, Iowa, she jumps at the chance to start over from scratch. But as Sugar assembles recipes for the local centennial celebration, it’s not long before she’s up to her oven mitts in explosive threats, too-hot-to-handle scandals, and a dead body belonging to the moody matriarch of the town’s first family. With suspicions running wild, Sugar and Spice must solve the murder before someone innocent takes the heat—and the real culprit gathers enough ingredients to strike again.

BUY NOW: https://books2read.com/u/ml2rkY

GIVEAWAY:

Win a signed copy of Game of Scones! To enter simply comment on The Stiletto Gang post on my Facebook Author Page at: https://www.facebook.com/maryleeashfordbooks


Debra Goldstein

CONNECT AT: https://www.DebraHGoldstein.com

 

THREE TREATS TOO MANY

When a romantic rival opens a competing restaurant in small-town Wheaton, Alabama, Sarah Blair discovers murder is the specialty of the house . . . 
For someone whose greatest culinary skill is ordering takeout, Sarah never expected to be co-owner of a restaurant. Even her Siamese cat, RahRah, seems to be looking at her differently. But while Sarah and her twin sister, Chef Emily, are tangled up in red tape waiting for the building inspector to get around to them, an attention-stealing new establishment—run by none other than Sarah's late ex-husband's mistress, Jane—is having its grand opening across the street.  When Jane's new sous chef, the talk of Wheaton with her delicious vegan specialties, is found dead outside the restaurant with Sarah's friend, Jacob, kneeling over her, Sarah must turn up the heat on the real culprit, who has no reservations about committing cold-blooded murder . . .
Includes quick and easy recipes!

BUY NOW: https://books2read.com/u/boD76L

GIVEAWAY:

Sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win a free print copy of Three Treats Too Many (U.S. only) https://www.DebraHGoldstein.com 


Kathryn Lane

CONNECT AT: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15096935.Kathryn_Lane

 

WAKING UP IN MEDELLIN

Nikki Garcia, the sexy protagonist in this woman sleuth series, is an unlikely Sam Spade. Nikki’s multinational corporation sends her to Medellin on assignment. Grappling with her own ghosts, she embarks upon an unexpected adventure investigating a high stakes, mega-money corruption scheme at the local affiliate. She also meets a seductive and charming doctor in this foreign country. As her relationship with him deepens, so does the danger she finds herself in. Nikki realizes she’ll have one shot at surviving. 

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/dp/173328270X/








Bethany Maines

CONNECT AT: https://bethanymaines.com/

 

AN UNSEEN CURRENT

You never know what’s beneath the surface.

When Seattle native Tish Yearly finds herself fired and evicted all in one afternoon, she knows she’s in deep water. Unemployed and desperate, the 26 year old ex-actress heads for the one place she knows she’ll be welcome – the house of her cantankerous ex-CIA agent grandfather, Tobias Yearly, in the San Juan Islands. And when she discovers the strangled corpse of Tobias’s best friend, she knows she’s in over her head. Tish is thrown head-long into a mystery that pits her against a handsome but straight-laced Sheriff’s Deputy, a group of eccentric and clannish local residents, and a killer who knows the island far better than she does. Now Tish must swim against the current, depending on her nearly forgotten acting skills and her grandfather’s spy craft, to con a killer and keep them alive.

BUY NOW - ¢.99: https://books2read.com/AnUnseenCurrent 


Lynn McPherson

CONNECT AT: https://lynnmcpherson.net/

 

THE GIRLS DRESSED FOR MURDER

It’s 1958 in the cozy coastal town of Twin Oaks and amateur sleuth Isabelle Walsh is armed with a fresh perspective, two years after tragedy strikes. The first stop on her journey back to joy is the best little dress shop in town—introduced to her by best friend and fashion fiend, Ava Russell. Izzy falls in love with the store and its style. So, when the boutique is marred by murder, Izzy wants to help. But with more suspects to choose from than a spring collection, she isn’t sure where to start. Can Izzy unravel the twisted truth or will she become the victim of a deadly trend? Find out in the third book in the Izzy Walsh Mystery Series…  

BUY NOW: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1626949875 







Julie Mulhern

CONNECT AT: https://www.juliemulhernauthor.com/

 

THE DEEP END

Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.

It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.

As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her?

BUY NOW: https://books2read.com/u/m2Zpak



Cathy Perkins

CONNECT AT: https://cperkinswrites.com/

 

DOUBLE DOWN

Busted takes on a new meaning for blackjack dealer Maddie Larsson when her favorite customer, a Poker World Tour champion, is murdered. His family claims—loudly and often—she's the gold-digging murderer. She better prove she’s on the level before the real killer cashes in her chips.

BUY NOW: ebook - http://bit.ly/DoubleDown_Amazon
                      paperback - https://bit.ly/DoubleDownPaper

Double Down will be free on Nov 27 & 28!





Shari Randall

Connect for fun and upcoming giveaways: https://www.facebook.com/sharirandallauthor

 

THE QUEEN OF CHRISTMAS

Dagmar Smith's Festival of Trees is the highlight of Mystic Bay's holiday season. This year Dagmar has added a spectacularly decorated Nutcracker tree to her display and she's asked dancer Allie Larkin to help unveil it. But when Dagmar's priceless diamond necklace is stolen in the middle of the festivities, Allie turns detective to unmask the thief. 

Grab a warm drink and curl up with this festive short story starring the characters from the beloved Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack mystery series. Recipe for hot toddy included!

BUY NOW:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081J7WDT8/ 






Saralyn Richard

CONNECT AT: http://saralynrichard.com

 

PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER

Back from his honeymoon, Detective Parrott investigates the theft of two valuable paintings from the artist’s studio in Brandywine Valley. Through a series of twists that become more and more personal, theft turns into murder, and murder leads to a treasure hunt for a lost masterpiece. Everyone, it seems, is hiding dark secrets, and Parrott learns there is more on an artist’s palette than globs of paint.

BUY NOW: https://books2read.com/u/4XnzxL

GIVEAWAY:

Sign up for Saralyn Richard newsletter and receive a free pdf of Epicurean Feasts, including the menu and recipes from the elegant nine-course meal in MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT. Subscribe at: http://saralynrichard.com 


Linda Rodriguez

CONNECT AT: http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com

 

PLOTTING THE CHARACTER-DRIVEN NOVEL

Great plot springs from character and the motivations each character has for taking or not taking action. In Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, Linda Rodriguez turns her sought-after writing course on using depth of character as a springboard to a strong plot into a book designed to help the aspiring writer who wants to tell a story made compelling by the truth and complexity of its characters. She provides examples of actual documents she has used in creating her own award- winning books to demonstrate the methods she teaches.

BUY NOW: https://books2read.com/u/bprKal





Debra Sennefelder

CONNECT AT: http://debrasennefelder.com/

 

THE CORPSE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH

Food blogger Hope Early takes on a cold case that’s heating up fast . . .

Building on her recipe for success with her food blog, Hope at Home, Hope is teaching her first blogging class at the local library in Jefferson, Connecticut. She’s also learning about podcasts, including a true-crime one called Search for the Missing, hosted by Hope’s childhood friend, Devon Markham. Twenty years ago on Valentine’s Day, right here in Jefferson, Devon’s mom disappeared and was never found. Finally Devon has returned to solve the mystery of what happened to her mother—and she asks Hope to help.

The next day Hope discovers Devon’s apartment has been ransacked. Her laptop with the research on her mother’s cold case is missing, and Devon is nowhere to be found. When her friend’s body is later discovered in a car wreck, Hope is convinced it’s no accident. Clearly, Devon was too close to the truth, and the cold-blooded killer is still at large in Jefferson. Now it’s up to Hope to find the guilty party—before the food blogger herself becomes the next subject of another true-crime podcast . . .

Includes Recipes from Hope’s Kitchen!

BUY NOW: http://debrasennefelder.com/work

T.K. Thorne

CONNECT AT: TKThorne.com

 

HOUSE OF ROSE

When rookie patrol officer Rose Brighton chases a suspect down an alley, she finds herself in the middle of every cop’s nightmare—staring down at a dead body with two bullet holes from her gun . . . in his back.

He’s dead and now she has to explain it, which is going to be a problem because what happened was so strange, she doesn’t understand it herself. Rose must unravel the mystery of what happened and who she really is—a witch of the House of Rose. If she doesn’t figure it out fast, there will be more bodies, including her own.

"Thorne delivers a spellbinding thriller, an enthralling blend of real-world policing and other-world magic. It's a wild ride of high stakes that pits the warm humanity of Rose and her friends against chilling powers of darkness in a battle that is both ages old and totally of today."

BUY NOW:

All ebook locations -  https://books2read.com/HouseofRose

Print - Amazon

Lois Winston

CONNECT AT: http://www.loiswinston.com

 

A SEW DEADLY CRUISE
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 9

Life is looking up for magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack. Newly engaged, she and photojournalist fiancé Zack Barnes are on a winter cruise with her family, compliments of a Christmas gift from her half-brother-in-law. Son Alex’s girlfriend and her father have also joined them. Shortly after boarding the ship, Anastasia is approached by a man with an unusual interest in her engagement ring. When she tells Zack of her encounter, he suggests the man might be a jewel thief scouting for his next mark. But before Anastasia can point the man out to Zack, the would-be thief approaches him, revealing his true motivation. Long-buried secrets now threaten the well-being of everyone Anastasia holds dear. And that’s before the first dead body turns up.

Craft projects included.

BUY NOW: https://books2read.com/u/4DWLkd 


Gay Yellen

CONNECT AT:  https://GayYellen.com/

 

THE BODY BUSINESS

A missing friend. . . A jealous rival. . . An investigator with motives of his own.
Samantha Newman has a great job. But when her best friend at work vanishes, doubt creeps in. When she turns to the FBI for help, they send Carter Chapman, a man with secrets of his own. His mission wasn’t supposed to include the problems of a beautiful corporate executive. When the two of them wrangle over how to proceed, Samantha risks everything to solve the case alone. Fast-paced and full of surprises, the story bounces from big-city bustle to the serene rolling hills of a Texas ranch and back again. Book 1 in the Samantha Newman Mystery Series.

FREE GIVEAWAY:

Free with Kindle Unlimited  https://www.amazon.com/Body-Business-Samantha-Newman-Mystery-ebook/dp/B08C8WDYRW

Or download with BookFunnel - Get your free copy of The Body Business, Book1 of The Samantha Newman Mysteries. Subscribe today! https://bookhip.com/QFFXTT

Thursday, November 26, 2020

12 Tiny Things: Simple Ways to Live a More Intentional LIfe written by Heidi Barr and Ellie Roscher reviewed by Juliana Aragon Fatula




Dear Reader,

 

Nadie sabe el bien que tiene hasta que los ve perdido. 
No one knows the fortune he has until he loses it. 
We never miss the sunshine until the shadows come. 

From the book Refranes Southwest Indio-Hispanic Proverbs translated by Rubén Cobos

This month I have a wonderful new book by Heidi Barr and Ellie Roscher to tell you about: 12 Tiny Things published by Broadleaf Books and released January 2021.  I met Heidi through a writer friend on Facebook. We hit it off immediately and I knew she was a like-minded woman. A strong, wise, independent woman with lots of knowledge about lots of things. I've been enjoying Heidi's books during this global pandemic; her words lifted me up. I knew her new book would be inspirational. I had no idea how 12 Tiny Things would impact my life.

I suffer from severe depression that medication alleviates but does not cure. 12 Tiny Things became one of my favorite books of 2020. I read it twice in two days. I couldn't put it down. I studied the chapters and chose my favorite. Many of the chapters spoke to me. It fed my hungry soul. It made me contemplate on life, sorrows, joy and made me realize that I can change my world, the world, 12 Tiny Things at a time. 

When I focused on the tiny things, life ceased to feel so daunting. This book arrived in the nick of time, during the 2020 Presidential election. I'd been under a cloud of sorrow for four years, since the 2016 election when my hopes were dashed, and anger found a place in my heart. I know from experience that anger held in turns to depression. I feared going that direction, so I became angry filled with hate for my community that elected a man who promised—but lied. I let that anger brew in my heart, until reading 12 Tiny Things led me to a better way of seeing the pandemic and the turmoil of the last four years. I never gave up hope, but I was fearful of four more years of chaos. Heidi and Ellie asked me to do one tiny thing at a time instead of seeing the global pandemic and deteriorating country I lived in, but no longer recognized. 

I'm not a reviewer who tells the writer what they want to hear. Ask any of my writer friends, they'll tell you that I'm brutally honest, out of love, not meanness. Either I love your book, or I don't. 12 Tiny Things resonated with me in a way that no other book had in an exceedingly long time. I woke up. I'm woke.

At the end of each chapter there are questions for the reader. They guided me to improve my attitude about everything, the pandemic, the election, the racism, the misogynism, the xenophobia that have risen in my country the last four years.

12 Tiny Things brought me balance. I concentrated on me and making myself better, more loving, more forgiving of my community that had disappointed me. This book saved me from 2020. It brought joy and peace to my heart. I pre-ordered a copy for my comadre and told her she would love it as much as I do. I regained my courage to fight for justice 12 Tiny Things at a time. I didn't take on the world. I started with myself. And I'm glad I did. 

12 Tiny Things is an incredible book that has helped me adjust in this time of global pandemic and national hysteria. I recommend 12 Tiny Things to anyone looking to find a deeper meaning in their world. 

Let me explain why I give this book five stars. It's not just great writing and knowledge about living with joy during a global pandemic, it's about community. It came to me just when the second wave of the Covid virus was beginning and the pandemic fatigue was pulling me down toward a wave of gloom.

I handled the first wave.  I'm a writer so isolating in place was great for me. But it seemed like the world I knew had changed and or was gone and would not return. I also saw the world/usa divided and angry people everywhere. I wrote a will and prayed for better days. I began reading 12 Tiny Things and my eyebrows arched and a smile crept on my face. I felt a tingle in my yayas. I sat up in my chair and began writing. I felt inspired. That's what great writing does to me. It makes me want to write. So here I am writing and telling you, my reader, to read this book and let me and the authors know how it changed your outlook on life. It impacted me in a subtle way. 

My husband drove to Wyoming and went hunting for bear, elk, deer, moose, whatever they have in the wilderness. He was gone for 30 days and this was my vacation from him and his vacation from me. It works. I missed him and he missed me, and we appreciated each other just in time for our twenty-eight-year wedding anniversary. 

I'm a master gardener, or so I tell myself. I nurture my garden and it nurtures me back. It's therapeutic. So is writing but in the summer and harvest season my body craves fresh air and sunshine. It saved me from losing my mind during the first wave of the pandemic. But harvest season ended, and I returned to indoors and the onslaught of the pandemic.

12 Tiny Things spoke to me and then it sang. The song was beautiful, melodic, soothing, invigorating, and soulful. I realized how easy happiness can be. It's a state of mind and instead of letting my mind go cray cray, I set a goal to do one tiny thing for myself each day and increase it daily until I did 12 Tiny Things for myself every day. Time for me. Even if it was only 12 minutes of my day or 12 seconds of totally me time. For whatever, I need. 

Heidi Barr, thank you for your inspiration, your wisdom, your kind heart, and powerful woman love. Thank you, Ellie for allowing me to journey with you on this adventure into peaceful living and intentional life. 

If you want to know more about these authors or their book, then visit their webpage and let them know, Juliana, the Crazy Chicana in Catholic City, sent you. 

Peace 2020

Ellie Roscher is the author of Play Like a Girl and How Coffee Saved My Life. Her writing also appears in The Baltimore Review, Inscape Magazine, Bookology Magazine and elsewhere. Ellie hosts the Unlikely Conversations podcast and is a certified yoga instructor. She teaches writing at The Loft Literary Center, and theology at Bethlehem Lutheran Church Twin Cities. Through curious inquiry, commitment to the sacred ordinary and artistic collaboration, her work accompanies people to a more centered, whole, and embodied self. Ellie holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in Theology from Luther Seminary. She lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and sons. Find out more on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or at ellieroscher.com.

Heidi Barr is the author of Woodland Manitou, Cold Spring Hallelujah, What Comes Next, and Prairie Grown, as well as the editor of The Mindful Kitchen. She works as a wellness coach at Noom, Inc and occasionally coordinates with yoga teachers and organic farms to offer retreat experiences. A commitment to cultivating ways of being that are life-giving and sustainable for people, communities and the planet provides the foundation for her work. Heidi studied Health and Wellness at Luther College and has a Master of Arts degree from Luther Seminary in Faith and Health Ministries.  She lives in Minnesota with her family where they tend a large vegetable garden, explore nature and do their best to live simply.  Despite working for an app-based tech start up, she plans to put off getting a smartphone as long as possible. Learn more at heidibarr.com.

https://www.facebook.com/12TinyThings


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Thanksgiving Like No Other

By Lois Winston

In Little Women Louisa May Alcott opens with Jo March grumbling, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.” This year, for many of us, Thanksgiving won’t be Thanksgiving without family gathering around the dinner table. Such is life in the time of Covid. 

 

In past years, the day before a normal Thanksgiving would find me in the kitchen, either my own or one of my son’s kitchens, baking apple and pumpkin pies and prepping for the next day’s marathon of cooking. However, this Thanksgiving will be unlike any previous Thanksgiving. We won’t be hosting a houseful of relatives or traveling out of state to spend the holiday with either of our sons and their families. 

 

Turkey dinner for two? Hardly seems worth the effort or the expense. Besides, turkey leftovers are great the next day, but even with the smallest bird, we’d wind up with way too much leftover turkey. In the past I’ve tried freezing leftover turkey, but I’ve found it doesn’t freeze well. It always becomes too dry, no matter how much gravy I soak it in. So I’ve placed an order for two turkey dinners to be delivered from one of our local restaurants.

 

As for those pies, If I bake them, we’ll eat them, and neither my husband nor I need all those extra calories. I’ve discovered Covid Weight is worse than the Freshman Fifteen! Or maybe it’s that I’m older, and my metabolism has slowed down. Either way, with only one person with whom to split the calories, I’m nixing the pies.

 

As much as I’ll miss spending time with my family this Thanksgiving, Anastasia Pollack, the reluctant amateur sleuth of my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, is thrilled to be ditching some of hers. She’s sailing off on a cruise in A Sew Deadly Cruise, the ninth and newest book in the series. She certainly deserves a relaxing vacation after all the murder and mayhem I’ve dumped on her in the eight previous books and three novellas.

 

There’s just one problem: I write a mystery series. You can’t have a mystery series without mysteries, and in Anastasia’s life, that usually means at least one dead body—often more. Being the devious author that I am, since I gave her a respite from her most annoying relatives, I dumped more than one mystery and several dead bodies onto the cruise ship. 

 

Of course, Anastasia is not happy with me, but what else is new? We’ve always had a tension-filled relationship. After all, before I dragged her into a starring role in my series, she was a happily married, middle-class wife, mother, and crafts editor at a women’s magazine. With a few strokes of my keyboard, I killed off her duplicitous husband, plummeted her into debt greater than many Third World nations, and permanently stuck her with the communist mother-in-law from Hades. I have to admit, her anger is justified.

 

A Sew Deadly Cruise

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 9

 

Life is looking up for magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack. Newly engaged, she and photojournalist fiancé Zack Barnes are on a winter cruise with her family, compliments of a Christmas gift from her half-brother-in-law. Son Alex’s girlfriend and her father have also joined them. Shortly after boarding the ship, Anastasia is approached by a man with an unusual interest in her engagement ring. When she tells Zack of her encounter, he suggests the man might be a jewel thief scouting for his next mark. But before Anastasia can point the man out to Zack, the would-be thief approaches him, revealing his true motivation. Long-buried secrets now threaten the well-being of everyone Anastasia holds dear. And that’s before the first dead body turns up.

 

Craft projects included.

 

Buy Links

Paperback

Amazon 

Kobo

Nook

Apple

 

USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.


Find more about Lois and her books at her website where you can sign up for her newsletter. You can also find her at her Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers blog, Bookbub, Pinterest, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Write Kind of Friends

 By Lynn McPherson

Writing is a solitary occupation. One that requires concentration, imagination, dedication--and time alone to get it done. But it's still important to connect with your peers. How can you interact these days without getting pulled into the endless loop of social media?

One way you might consider is joining a critique group. I've recently joined one and would recommend it for other writers. There are several reasons I think it works and why it's a good idea. Today I'm going to share them with you.

1. Shop talk

Writers like to talk about writing. A critique group is a great place to talk, listen, and learn. Each author has a different experience and swapping stories is an enjoyable way to gain and share knowledge.

2. Bounce ideas off others

Many authors have beta readers who read their books before they are sent off to their editors and publishers. But before each manuscript is complete, writers are often stuck at some point--maybe a scene isn't working or a character isn't quite right. A critique group is a safe place for authors to read their work-in-progress and get feedback. Sometimes that's all it takes to get past a roadblock.

3. Have fun!

Authors can get so caught up in their work they forget to take a minute and enjoy the process. There's no better way to keep the juices flowing than by taking a break to look out at the world and get involved. And don't forget the treats! My critique group is currently meeting virtually but I still make sure there's a pot of tea and a handful of cookies within reach.

How do you like to interact with the outside world? 

Lynn McPherson has worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ran a small business, and taught English across the globe. She has travelled the world solo where her daring spirit has led her to jump out of airplanes, dive with sharks, and learn she would never master a surfboard. She now channels her lifelong love of adventure and history into her writing, where she is free to go anywhere, anytime. Her cozy series has three books out: The Girls' Weekend Murder and The Girls Whispered Murder, and The Girls Dressed For Murder.  

Monday, November 23, 2020

Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award

 by Paula Gail Benson

My first published short story, "Nectar of the Gods," appeared as the featured story in the February 2013 issue of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. The Roundtable, formerly a monthly and now a quarterly online publication, is the labor of love of the Bethlehem Writers Group, organized in 2006 to provide critiques and support for its own members as well as help other writers see their work in print. I saw the deadline to submit for that first story just as I had decided to put a renewed focus on my writing.

Charlaine Harris
After learning that my story had been accepted, I decided to submit to the Group's annual short story contest. I was over the moon when my submission, "Long in the Tooth," received third place with Hank Phillippi Ryan as the celebrity judge. The story appeared in the June issue and later was included in Let It Snow, a Bethlehem Writers Group print anthology.

My sci-fi/fantasy short "Apple's Lure" was in the July/August 2014 issue. And, this year, I received the fabulous news that my "Cosway's Confidence" won second place in the annual contest, with Peter Abrahams aka Spencer Quinn as celebrity judge.

I've learned so much from working with the BWR editors and I truly appreciate their confidence in me.

Beginning January 1, 2021, the BWR's Short Story Award is open for submissions. The theme this year, interpreted broadly, is "An Element of Mystery," and the celebrity judge is Charlaine Harris.

Submissions must not be more than 2,000 words and an entry fee of $15.00 is required for each submission. Check this link for more information.

Happy Thanksgiving all!





 

    

Friday, November 20, 2020

For the Love of Book Covers

I’m a huge fan of vintage paperback covers, so I was delighted to find the multitalented Robin Agnew’s Instagram feed featuring cover art from her expansive collection. I asked her to talk a bit about her favorite covers and her time running the beloved mystery bookstore, Aunt Agatha’s. You can see more on her social media links (below). Enjoy! – Shari Randall

By Robin Agnew

For 26 years, my husband and I ran a mystery bookstore, Aunt Agatha’s, which was absolutely stuffed to the brim with mass market paperbacks, far and away my favorite of all book formats. They’re cheap, they’re easy to carry in a purse or a pocket, and you can take them into the bathtub or onto the beach. I never leave the house without one. One of my very favorite customers had been a fighter pilot during WWII. When I knew him, he was an incredibly charming older man who loved all things golden age, and we spent many hours discussing, for example, Agatha Christie vs. Ngaio Marsh. He told me he started reading Christie during the war – he could stick a book in his pocket (hence “Pocket” books).

When we closed our store in 2018, we had massive boat loads of paperbacks left. We reduced our prices and sold many, gave away many, and skimmed the cream off the top to sell online, which is an ongoing process. Our collection before we closed was around 25,000. Getting to a number like that takes literally decades.

When we first opened, we’d accept boxes of books from almost anyone. One memorable old guy pulled his Gremlin into our driveway with a hatchback full of Nick Carter books. As time went by, we had a rotating collection on display, and people would often buy them for the covers. I personally love covers from the 40’s and 50’s, especially before printing processes were more sophisticated. Something about the use of those basic primary colors in combination has always held a fantastic appeal to me.



I love this old Perry Mason/Erle Stanley Gardner cover for The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat (1941). It’s a beautiful and mysterious graphic of the cat, and the lettering is unusual and slightly sinister. It sets a tone. Gardner in fact had many, many great covers through the years. I also love these slightly later photo covers, especially The Case of the Careless Kitten (1950) and The Case of the Curious Bride (1956). The 50’s brought the modern innovation of photography, but these now look pretty vintage. They are also striking and make you look twice, which is the goal of any book cover.


Another favorite--book and cover--is Ngaio Marsh’s Death in a White Tie (1942), again a striking, simple image, with a use of color which would now be considered primitive. But doesn’t it get the point across?  I have always loved this book (and had many conversations about it with fellow fans) because I love both the victim and the killer. What a trick.

Sightly later (1962) is the cover for Spencer Dean’s Murder After a Fashion, with a cover that has the feel of a graphic fashion illustration. By the 60’s, illustration had evolved to be more sketchy and “arty,” and this cover certainly smacks of the 60’s. I don’t know anything about the story, but I love the cover.

And finally, there’s Anne Rowe’s The Little Dog Barked (1943), which for some reason languished in our garage before I rescued it. I love the image of the dog; I love the font used for the title; and I even love the kind of swirly thingy above the dog--what is it?  I think I love the older covers because the artists weren’t afraid to let their freak flags fly, and it made for some really unusual and memorable work.

This collection is a result of decades of owning a store, of customers bringing books left to them by departed parents, aunts or uncles, or people who wanted to sell or trade them. These are some of the surviving jewels. They keep the flame of book love alive for me!


Robin Agnew and her husband, Jamie, ran Aunt Agatha’s in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan, together for 26 fabulous years. Robin now writes the cozy column for Mystery Scene Magazine and maintains a review blog under the Aunt Agatha’s banner, at www.auntagathas.com. Meeting writers at the store, often at the beginning of their careers, remains one of her favorite things, as does continuing to read many, many of the wonderful and spectacular mysteries published every year. 

Facebook - @auntagathas 

Twitter - @AgnewRobin

Follow the covers on Instagram @RobinAgnew

Readers, what do you think? Do you have a favorite book cover?