Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stiletto Gang Black Friday Gift Guide

by The Stiletto Gang

Want to avoid the crowds, but still get a little shopping done?  Sit back, peruse this list of 2015 Stiletto Gang Releases, and order the gift of the written word from the comfort of your own couch.

Sparkle Abbey

Downton Tabby (The Pampered Pets Series)
Amazon 5 Star Review: How would you like to find a dead body in a swimming pool, have two friends disappear, be followed by a black SUV and have your ex try to take away your clients? That’s what Laguna Beach’s animal therapist and sometime sleuth, Caro Lamont, faces in another page turning, suspense filled, and occasional humorous adventure as she tries to find a killer, disappearances of two friends, and dealing with a scurvy ex.

Need a treat today? Of course you do! Grab some snacks, your fav drink, and settle down in a comfy place and relish this latest mystery that’s pet friendly too!

Paula Gail Benson

Let It Snow: The Best of Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Winter 2015 Collection
Discover tales, all as different as snowflakes, in "Let it Snow: The Best of Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Winter 2015 Collection." The multiple award winning Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC brings you stories in a range of genres selected from their bi-monthly Writers Roundtable Journal. So, while the weather outside is frightful, curl up by the fire, read, and Let It Snow.

Fish or Cut Bait: A Guppy Anthology
Fish or Cut Bait, the latest installment in the Guppy Anthology Series, presents a collection of mystery stories by rising stars of the mystery and suspense field. Tales of revenge and retribution...police detectives...cozy characters...hardboiled P.I.s...there's something here for every fan of crime and detection!

Killer Nashville Noir: Cold Blooded
Bestselling authors Jeffery Deaver and Anne Perry join rising stars like Dana Chamblee Carpenter and Paula Gail Benson in a collection that proves Music City is a deadly place to be when your song gets called.

Marjorie Brody

Twisted, a novel of psychological suspense
Amazon or Barnes & Noble

A gang assault at a high school dance forces a young teen to confront the secret she hid from everyone, including herself.
TAA Best Young Adult Fiction Book Award, Honorable Mention, Great Midwest Book Festival, Finalist Red City Book Awards, 2015 Best Reads-Middlesex County College Library

“6 Stars Out of 5!” TWISTED, a multi-award winning psychological suspense, addresses sensitive issues in a stay-up-late, page-turning way.

“Brutally honest,” yet “tasteful,” and “hopeful.”  NYT Bestseller Sharon Sala declares TWISTED “Unforgettable.”

Anthologies, featuring Marjorie Brody
Short Story America Anthology, Vol. I, II, III, and IV
Short Stories by Texas Authors, Vol. I

Lynn Cahoon

Killer Run (A Tourist Trap Mystery)
Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More—has somehow been talked into sponsoring a 5k race along the beautiful California coast. The race is a fundraiser for the local preservation society—but not everyone is feeling so charitable…

The day of the race, everyone hits the ground running…until a local business owner stumbles over a very stationary body. The deceased is the vicious wife of the husband-and-wife team hired to promote the event—and the husband turns to Jill for help in clearing his name. But did he do it? Jill will have to be very careful, because this killer is ready to put her out of the running…forever!

Dressed to Kill (A Tourist Trap Mystery)
Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More in the tucked-away town of South Cove, California—is not particularly thrilled to be portraying a twenties flapper for the dinner theater murder mystery. Though it is for charity…

Of course everyone is expecting a “dead” body at the dress rehearsal…but this one isn’t acting! It turns out the main suspect is the late actor’s conniving girlfriend Sherry…who also happens to be the ex-wife of Jill’s main squeeze. Sherry is definitely a master manipulator…but is she a killer? Jill may discover the truth only when the curtain comes up on the final act…and by then, it may be far too late.

The Bull Riders’s Collection
Saddle up and get ready to ride with three of the sexiest cowboys in spurs. These heroes aren't afraid of danger or a challenge, and neither are the sassy, smart women in their world. Slip on your boots and get ready to crown these men champions of the heart with The Bull Rider's Brother, The Bull Rider's Manager, and The Bull Rider's Keeper

The Salem Gathering (The Council Series)
A babe in jeopardy, a coven on the loose, and only one witch hunter team can save them. Parris McCall knows her best friend’s life in in danger, but when Parris gets orders from The Council to track down Coven X, she has no choice but to follow orders.

Ty Wallace knows there’s more to The Council’s directive than meets the eye. Can he figure out what’s not being said before he loses Parris to her distant relatives or worse, forever?

Kay Kendall

Rainy Day Women
"5 Stars! Kendall delivers a spectacular mystery. The protagonist, Austin Starr, balances being a wife, a mother and an investigator with great skill. This is definitely a coming of age story, for women and for our country. A revolution occurred during the sixties, changing the roles for women, politics and war. She shows it all.

Bethany Maines

High-Caliber Concealer (A Carrie Mae Mystery)
All Carrie Mae’s top covert agent, Nikki Lanier, wants is a quiet vacation on her grandmother’s farm. But her visit is complicated by dangerous drug smugglers, the childhood sweetheart who broke her heart, and the sudden arrival of not only her mother (who is obviously hiding something) and her teammates, but also her current boyfriend – CIA Agent Z’ev Coralles. Now Nikki must choose between doing what’s right and revealing what she really does for a living, if she wants to keep all of them alive. Nikki may be a High-Caliber Concealer, but this time it might not be enough.

An Unseen Current
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 home of her cantankerous ex-CIA agent grandfather, Tobias Yearly, in the San Juan Islands. But soon. 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.

Marilyn Meredith / F.M. Meredith

Not as It Seems 
Tempe and Hutch travel to Morro Bay for son Blair’s wedding, but when the maid-of-honor disappears, Tempe tries to find her. The search is complicated by ghosts and Native spirits.

Violent Departures
College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.

Julie Mulhern

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?

Guaranteed to Bleed
With his dying breath, Bobby Lowell begs Ellison Russell, “Tell her I love her.”

Unable to refuse, Ellison struggles to find the girl the murdered boy loved. Too bad an epically bad blind date, a vindictive graffiti artist, and multiple trips to the emergency room keep getting in the way. Worse, a killer has Ellison in his sights, her newly rebellious daughter is missing, and there’s yet another body in her hostas. Mother won’t be pleased. Now Ellison must track down not one but two runaway teenagers, keep her promise to Bobby, and elude the killer—all before her next charity gala committee meeting.

Cathy Perkins

So About the Money
CPA Holly Price juggles dodgy clients, flakey parent, ex-lovers and a murdered friend before she gets to the bottom line in this fast and fun read. ~ Patricia Smiley, bestselling author of Cool Cache

When Holly Price trips over a friend’s dead body, her life takes a nosedive into a world of intrigue and danger. With an infinitely sexy cop—Holly’s pissed-off, jilted ex-fiancé—threatening to arrest her for the murder, the intrepid accountant must protect her future, her business...and her using her investigative skills to follow the money, before the killer decides CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass...and the next dead body is Holly’s.

Linda Rodriguez

Every Hidden Fear 
"This suspenseful and sensitive tale of small town secrets is captivating from page one. An absolute page-turner!” – Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark award winning author

“Engrossing” – Library Journal

“A peaceful college town goes berserk in Rodriguez’s solid third Skeet Bannion mystery.”– Publisher’s Weekly

“Cherokee heritage and the often very painful legacy of secrets have long been hallmarks of this excellent series. … Every Hidden Fear is another very good read from an award winning author and a book well worth your time.” – Kevin’s Corner: Book Reviews and More

Thanksgiving Giveaway

by Bethany Maines

In my recently released novel High-Caliber Concealer, #3 in the Carrie Mae Mystery series, the heroine Nikki Lanier returns to her childhood home for what she hopes will be a nice, quiet visit.  Of course, since she's a covert agent for an espionage agency, her hometown appears to be harboring drug dealers, and her mother is clearly hiding something, a quiet visit is probably not in the cards.  But a girl can dream right?

And I'm pretty sure that's what we all dream of for Thanksgiving. A nice quiet meal where everyone gets along and the food is delicious.  We all want it, but judging by the amount of letters to Dear Abby requesting advice about dealing with crazy relatives, we're not all going to get it.

As we approach the season of counting our blessings and remembering what we're thankful for, I will say that among my blessings is lovely readers such as yourselves. And if I can't guarantee you a peaceful meal, the least I can do is giveaway some escapist fiction that can be used to avoid your relatives.  Leave a comment here or on the Stiletto Gang Facebook Page to be entered to win a digital copy of High-Caliber Concealer.  Winners will be announced on Black Friday (the day for free stuff).  Winner will be chosen by random number generator or my dog if I can get him to wake up from the tryptophan coma.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Newbie and the Mud Flood

Hi – Newbie to the Stiletto Gang here!

Joining a busy, successful blog is a bit like stepping into a cocktail party that’s going full blast. Bubbling conversations, inside jokes, and shared history. What do you do? You paste a smile on your face and dive right in!

I’d planned to carry that analogy through this post, but I took a left turn at abnormal this morning and waded through a ton of mud and downed trees to make sure the beaver dam hadn’t ruptured.

Hmm, that’s a different story.

Perhaps I should back up a bit. I live in the Cascade Mountains, up above Seattle. Before we moved to the mountains, we transferred to Washington (well, actually we transferred to a small town in eastern Washington) from South Carolina.

When people heard about our planned move, everyone said, “I love Seattle.”

Because clearly Seattle is the only thing in Washington, right?

Bookwalter Winery ~
We love Seattle too. But there’s the whole rest of the state.  Eastern Washington is the complete opposite to Seattle. It’s conservative, sunny and dry, and home to fabulous vineyards and wineries.  There’s access to tons of outdoor recreation…and a dearth of restaurants.

As an author, I often see conversations, characters (oops, I mean interesting people I encounter), and settings in terms of story potential. And I knew there was potential here.

Once we settled into eastern Washington, I had to write a story set here. A story about a woman who came home, not as a failure with nowhere else to go, but as a woman who loved her nutty parents and put her ambitions on hold to bail out the family and their business. 

Then because I write mysteries, there had to be a dead body and a puzzle for my amatuer sleuth to solve!

Besides, I could have fun with the wineries, Native American casinos…and assorted farm animals.

So – ever been to Washington? Ever had a flood tear up your property?

My latest book released last week. So About the Money romps through eastern Washington. Or as Patty Smiley, author of the Cool Cache series said, “CPA Holly Price juggles dodgy clients, flakey parents, ex-lovers and a murdered friend before she gets to the bottom line in this fast and fun read.”

When Holly Price trips over a friend’s dead body, her life takes a nosedive into a world of intrigue and danger. With an infinitely sexy cop—Holly’s pissed-off, jilted ex-fiancé—threatening to arrest her for the murder, the intrepid accountant must protect her future, her business...and her using her investigative skills to follow the money, before the killer decides "CPA" stands for Certified Pain in the Ass...and the next dead body is Holly’s.

Visit with Cathy at her website

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Master Class in Mystery Writing

By Kay Kendall

Are you a fan of Laura Lippman’s detective stories or Megan Abbott’s crime novels? Do you ever wonder how they manage to draw you into a web of intrigue, book after book—holding you spellbound, keeping you reading way past your bedtime? Lucky me, I got to learn some of their secrets last Saturday in New Orleans.

That’s where Laura Lippman and Megan Abbott were joined by other award-
Back l-r: Bill Loefhelm, Laura Lippman,
Megan Abbott,  Alison Gaylin.
Front: organizer Greg Herren.
Not pictured: Alison Gaylin
and moderator Susan Larson.
winning authors Alison Gaylin, Bill Loefhelm, and Erica Spindler in presenting a seminar designed to teach the essential skills needed to write a novel. In a program sponsored by Mystery Writers of America, these five bestselling novelists instructed us participants how to move from the idea stage all the way through to final editing. And clearly, they know their stuff. The awards and accolades among them include the Anthony Award, Agatha Award, Daphne du Maurier Award, Edgar Award, Nero Wolfe Award, Shamus Award, Strand Magazine’s Novel of the Year, and the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel. Here are just a few of many points made by these talented authors. <For more background on each author, see>

Megan Abbott began by suggesting ways to expand on your book idea, confiding that her inspiration often comes from news items. She doesn’t always begin at the beginning of a book, instead starting by writing about what has inspired her—a murder, a rumored sexual encounter. She ran us through exercises that got our creativity flowing.
Laura Lippman talked about the importance of proper plotting and shared her method for diagraming plots. She said that if you get stuck in writing your book, it usually means that you’ve taken a wrong turn in your plotting, and you must fix it before you can continue. When she sees something wrong in her diagrams, then she knows where the problem lies. “There are no formulas,” she said. “The only thing that carries over is that I have finished writing a book before, so I figure I can do it again.”
Erica Spindler discussed the use of setting and details to ramp up tension. She quoted Stephen King, who said, “I write about the thing under the bed.” She said, “I write about the wolf in sheep’s clothing, in other words the friendly neighbor who turns out to be Ted Bundy.” Details added to a story must do one of two things—either effect one or more characters, or, move the plot forward. So, identify and chop extraneous details.  
Bill Loefhelm examined the critical area of character development. “The trick to writing a successful series,” he said, “is to create characters that people want to return to. That is the most effective tool for storytelling.” One way of doing this is to take a tried-and-true one—think Sherlock, Batman, Superman—and make the tired character new, fresh, twisted. Dialogue is an important way to show character, but he cautioned not to overdo accents or slang. A little goes a long way.
Alison Gaylin switched from discussing writing a book to rewriting it. After your first draft is completed, she said to go back and do these things. Drop clichés and tropes. Get rid of info dumps—dribble out crucial backstory details throughout the whole book instead.
The seminar concluded with a discussion among the instructors, moderated by Susan Larson, two-time chair of the jury for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and book review editor for The New Orleans Times-Picayune for 22 years. The focus was on the idea of a muse as inspiration for writing. What stuck with me came from Bill Loefhelm, who didn’t buy into the muse concept. However, if there was one, he said she would be like Rosie the Riveter, with her sleeves rolled up, ready to work with him when he came to her, when he was willing to work hard on his writing.
Greg Herren organized this wonderful day of learning. He is outgoing president of the Southwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and an award-winning New Orleans author of two mystery series, among his other writing activities. This program is called MWA-U, Mystery Writers of America University. Find it online here --

Kay Kendall’s historical mysteries capture the spirit and turbulence of the 1960s. DESOLATION ROW (2013) and RAINY DAY WOMEN (2015) are in her Austin Starr Mystery series. Austin is a 22-year-old Texas bride who ends up on the frontlines of societal change, learns to cope, and turns amateur sleuth. Kay’s degrees in Russian history and language help ground her tales in the Cold War, and her titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff too. Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. In her former life as a PR executive, Kay’s projects won international awards.