Friday, September 21, 2018

The Red Shoes

by Shari Randall

You may have noticed that the Stiletto Gang has an updated look. We’re celebrating our new logo with a giveaway! Readers who comment on one of the Red Shoes blogs in September and October are entered to win either an Amazon or Starbucks $10 gift card. Join in the fun! The winner will be announced on our November Clicking Our Heels blog.

As a dance lover with a former ballerina as a main character, for me there is only one pair of red shoes that matters - The Red Shoes, a classic British film starring Moira Shearer.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the film but a recent viewing revealed how well the film has aged. The Red Shoes has even more to say now than when it was first released to great acclaim, two Oscar wins, and several nominations in 1948. Directors as different as Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma have named the film one of their favorites. If these directors of some of the grittiest, hardest hitting films of all time declare a ballet movie one of their favorites, there must be something more to it than a simple backstage drama.

The film is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fable about a girl who yearns for dazzling red shoes she sees in a shop window. The shopkeeper gives them to her, but they are no ordinary shoes. She begins to dance, but discovers that she cannot stop dancing. The girl dances across fields, across cities, for days, exhausted, bruised, terrified by what’s happening because no matter how she tries, she cannot take off the enchanted shoes, cannot stop dancing. She begs a woodcutter to cut off her feet. He complies and she’s finally freed of the cursed shoes but at a terrible cost.

The directors of The Red Shoes used the fable as a springboard to an emotionally sophisticated and rich story. By setting the fable in the world of theater, the film’s central motif, the shoes, become a symbol for the artist’s gift.

The film centers around Vicky Page, a gifted young dancer. When she meets charismatic Boris Lermontov, a dictatorial ballet impresario, he asks her why she dances.
“Why do you live?” she responds.
We meet Julian, a young musician whose music has been plagiarized by his music professor. Boris asks Julian to compose music for a ballet version of The Red Shoes. With Vicky in the starring role the ballet is a sensation and Vicky is hailed as a great new talent at each stop on a glamorous European tour.

Two beautiful young people, each gifted artists, each passionate about their art – you can guess what happens next. Vicky and Julian fall in love. 

Against the pleadings of Lermontov, Vicky marries Julian and returns to England, leaving her career behind while Julian’s star rises.

But the pull of dance is too great. Vicky goes to visit her aunt in Monte Carlo, just as the ballet pulls into town. Lermontov begs her to return to the stage. She does. Did Vicky really simply wish to visit her aunt or did she intend to meet Lermontov? The film suggests but does not tell.

Just as she is preparing to take the stage for a revival of The Red Shoes, Julian storms in, begging her to return to England with him. Lermontov offers a counter argument, begging her to see that she is an artist, that she is born to dance. Vicky, forced to choose  between the man she loves and the art that keeps her alive, is torn from reality. As if her own red shoes are enchanted, she begins to dance, and….

I don’t want to give away the ending, because this film is so enjoyable on so many levels. The directors hired a painter to be in charge of art direction - it's one of the most gorgeous, color drenched, Technicolor films ever. The costumes by French house of Fath are spectacular. But most importantly, the film has surprisingly modern things to say about art, artists, and relationships. 

Do yourself a favor and rent it. The Red Shoes raises so many issues about the nature of art and the sacrifices artists must make to honor their gift. It’s the perfect film, and the perfect shoes, for a group of writers who understand Vicky’s answer to Lermontov’s question.
Why do you write?
Why do you live?

Have you seen The Red Shoes? What do you think of Vicky’s situation? And what about those costumes?
Remember, if you comment, you are entered to win a gift card.

Shari Randall is the author of the Lobster Shack Mysteries from St. Martin's Press. Book One, Curses, Boiled Again, has been called "Delightful! A fun whodunit full of New England coastal charm and characters who feel like friends. Warm humor, a delectable plot, and clever sleuthing will keep you turning the pages."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Power Heels

By Cathy Perkins

Aloha from Kauai, where none of us have worn shoes this week other than swim fins! 😊

This month on the blog we're celebrating friends, fellow authors, and a fun new logo—a red stiletto high heel. We’ve considered themes from fashion, to movie tie-ins and dancing, with numerous steps in between. Scroll through the posts if you’ve missed one.

I’ve thought about heels a lot over the past few weeks while I considered what they represent to me. While many images came to mind, my first impression is the suits and high heels that were part of my professional personae for so long. A west coast transfer changed the heels requirement—telecommuting tends more to fuzzy slippers and flip-flops. The professionalism expectation, however, never wavered.

I think that professionalism is one of the things that drew me to this blog. Each member of The Stiletto Gang approaches her stories in a different way, reflecting our personality and experiences, as well as how we want to tell a story. All of us are committed to bringing the best possible experience to our readers.

Holly Price, the protagonist in my amateur sleuth series, knows her heels and suits are excessive in her hometown, but to her they represent professionalism and commitment to clients—and to her family. (She’s saving the family business.) We'll leave political discussions of powerful women for another day. Of course, part of me just loves the red high heels on the cover of So About the Money, book one in the series.

To celebrate the newest book in the series—In It For The Money—book one (So About the Money) is on sale this weekend!


So About the Money romps through eastern Washington with its rivers, wineries, Native American casinos, and assorted farm animals. Add in some wicked fun chemistry between the CPA amateur sleuth & a local detective and Holly Price better solve the case before the next dead body found beside the river is hers.

 Amazon   Nook   Kobo   iBooks   


We’re celebrating our new logo with a giveaway! Readers who comment on one of the Red Shoes blogs in September and October are entered to win either an Amazon or Starbucks $10 gift card. Join in the fun! The winner will be announced on our November Clicking Our Heels blog.

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.  Visit her at or on Facebook 

Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.

She's hard at work on
The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Claymore Award. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Red Stilettos? Not with MY Feet!

By Kay Kendall

Darned good thing I’m not required to wear stilettos to be part of this magnificent gang of writers. I’m tall, two inches shy of six feet, and have no need whatsoever for sky-high heels. And to boot (hee hee) I don’t wear red shoes—or any other bright color. Nature gifted me with rather large feet (ahmm) in order to balance my height.

Nancy, my pal since kindergarten, always teases me about my foot size. I reply I'd tip over if they were small, or average, in length. That's a sensible view—all of me should be in proportion. But recently I saw actress Brooke Shields interviewed on TV when she divulged an odd factoid. Though she's six feet tall, her shoe size is a seven. She concluded, “Therefore I often fall over.” I raced to phone Nancy to tell her that my opinion had been validated. (Inquiring minds might like to know my own size rhymes with the number seven.)

Despite my flippant answer, I'm not fond of my feet. They often don’t even seem to belong to me, lurking at such a far distance from my eyes. My feet seem almost alien. This probably relates to the fact that I once had difficulty finding shoes to fit me, back when larger sizes for women were uncommon and I would end up buying ill-fitting footwear. Consequently my feet always hurt.

Style wise I also took what I could get. My shoes were never stylish and always in somber colors. In my first job after grad school, my employer was hosting a fancy dinner. One of my coworkers wanted to know what I was wearing—answer: blue—and then what color shoes I would wear. When she heard I could choose either black or brown shoes, she was stunned, insisting I had to do better than that. She set to work on me, getting me to upgrade to fancier footwear. My fascination with more interesting shoes dates from that point in time—30 years ago.

 These days the range of sizes for female feet has grown—and my feet have not, hallelujah! Now my shoes spread all over my closet and creep into my husband’s space. The colors range more widely—showing a partiality to gold and blue. Nevertheless, you still won't find a heel higher than two inches, or a pair that is red. Some things never change.

Meet the author

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and now writes mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff. In 2015 Rainy Day Women won two Silver Falchion Awards at Killer Nashville. Visit Kay at her website <>or on Facebook <>


Monday, September 17, 2018


by Paula Gail Benson


My dear blogging partner, Linda Rodriguez, I’m thinking of you and the lessons in courage you have taught me as I write this post.


It’s always fascinating when the universe seems to have found a common thread, sending multiple messages along the same wavelength.


Carl Jung called the idea “synchronicity.” Wikipedia explains it as “a concept . . . which holds that events are ‘meaningful coincidences’ if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.”


Take for example some recent events that happened just as, this month and next, the Stiletto Gang celebrates its new logo, featuring bright red stilettos. (Thank you, Bethany Maines!)


In August, Aretha Franklin’s body lay in state in Detroit. She had several outfit changes, but according to the New York Times, “For the first open-casket viewing, Aretha Franklin was dressed in a lacy crimson gown and towering scarlet Christian Louboutin heels, with cherry-red lipstick and nail polish to match.”

At the beginning of September, the FBI revealed that a stolen pair of ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz had been recovered through a sting operation. These were the shoes worn for “close up” shots, the “clicking your heels” sequences. (Does that remind you of a segment we feature here at the Stiletto Gang on a regular basis?)


I think it’s interesting that red (and pink, if you’re a Legally Blonde Elle Woods fan) signals and symbolizes empowerment for women. Aretha’s ankles were demurely crossed, but those red shoes made their statement. She was a lady to be reckoned with. Dorothy’s red slippers started her on her journey to self-awareness and brought her home to the knowledge that she had the power within herself.


This year, I’ve had my own experience with red as a fashion statement.


My main make-up is lipstick. Previously, I’ve stayed with more neutral and natural looks. Then, a friend of mine, the lovely Cortlin Collins, began selling LipSense products by SeneGence. She posted the bright reds on her Facebook page, Your Face First with CortlinPlease check it out if you have an interest. Cortlin’s a sweetheart.


I was intrigued by the deep garnets and how the appearance could be changed by combining colors or applying a gloss. Fly Girl was my first purchase, quickly followed by Roseberry. I remember wearing the colors for the first time at church, fearing I had perhaps been a little too bold. Three gallant gentlemen independently stopped me to compliment my appearance. The next week, my female co-workers told me they admired my new look. I was sold and haven’t looked back.


Speaking of synchronicity: as Hurricane Florence aims for the Carolinas, what is my new lipstick for this fall? Hurricane.


And, to further validate the power of red lipstick, here are a few words of wisdom from women who know:


Andie MacDowell
“During my forties, I thought I couldn’t wear red lipstick. I thought it was too much and I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t know why. But now, I’m going to wear red lipstick for as long as I want.” -- Andie MacDowell


Chloe Sevigny
“I discovered red lipstick when I did the Oscar season: Chanel sent me one and I realized how classic and glamorous it can be.” -- Chloe Sevigny


Gwyneth Paltrow
“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.” -- Gwyneth Paltrow


Taylor Swift
“You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye. And I got that red lip classic thing that you like.” -- Taylor Swift


“If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.” -- Coco Chanel


Coco Chanel
So, let’s celebrate our new logo with a signature vermilion shade for the lips. Display your inner femme fatale!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Dancing for You – the Magic of Red Shoes by Debra H. Goldstein

Red shoes have always had a magical place in literature and film. Whether dancing, as in The Red Shoes fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson and the classic movie, The Red Shoes, or being how Dorothy gets home in the Wizard of Oz (the ruby red slippers), red shoes were accorded magical powers. In each story, the protagonist must change and grow before the curse associated with the shoes is lifted and the shoes can finally be removed.

Mysteries traditionally use red blood to signal the occurrence of criminal acts.  Whether pools of blood, blood spatter patterns, or ooze from a wound, readers immediately conjure up images of violence.
When I joined the Stiletto Gang, the logo was a red stiletto heel fashioned with a dagger. It immediately charmed me. I’d found a group of like-minded writers of mystery and romance.

Keeping up with fashion, a few years ago, we updated our heel to a more golden tone with a wider toe box. It was an elegant logo that reflected the composition of the Stiletto Gang, but I missed the internal excited sensation stimulated by the red coloring.

Styles change every season. Authors come and go, but one thing is constant – our relationship with you.

Like fashion, the members of the Stiletto Gang also have evolved.  Our writing is more diverse, sharper, and whether comical, romantic, or pure mystery, more defined. Together, we agreed to modify our shoe to be more reflective of the times and us. 

I was thrilled when our resident graphic guru, Bethany Maines, proposed a red stiletto logo. To me, our new logo is magical.  I hope it will keep you looking for it every day. You see, without you supporting and enjoying our writing, our efforts are for naught. For you, we will gladly dance in the wind indefinitely. Do you like our new red shoes?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Stilettos Make Good Weapons by Juliana Aragon Fatula

My pretty sixty-one-year old feet.

Dear Reader:

This September 2018 the Stiletto Gang describes what it means to be a member of a gang of women who like to write about mystery, murder, mayhem. I decided to go through all of my shoes and count how many high heels I own. 

I've always been a tomboy, so my shoes are mostly boots. But occasionally I like to buy a pair of heels and attempt to wear them in public. I like wearing boots with low heels for the ankle support; however, in my youth I wore stilettos and platform shoes and danced like a woman in her right mind. I had fun dancing in my high heels. Today, I go for comfort and support. I'm 61 and have bad knees and ankles. So I've reluctantly given up the idea of wearing heels but not of giving up dancing. 

Here are some of my shoes and the stories that accompany them:

My cowgirl boots: I dated a few cowboys.
My combat boots: I like to fight.
My irrigating boots: so my feet don't get wet.
My biker boots: I dated a few bikers.
My camo hunting boots: I'm married to a hunter.
My leopard print high top boots: I'm a cougar but couldn't find any cougar boots.
My Uggs: they make me feel warm and cozy.
My hiking boots: I like to hike with my doggies.
My camping boots: I like to camp with my husband.
My gardening boots: I love to play in my Chicana Garden.
My ol' lady boots: They give great ankle support when I have shit to get done.
My moccasins: I dated a few Indians.
My beadwork sandals: they're unique like me.
My funeral shoes: I've been to a few funerals.
My wedding shoes: I love to dance at weddings.
My business wear shoes: I've dated a few businessmen. 
My walking shoes: I go out walking after midnight...
My dancing shoes: Life is too short not to dance like no one is watching.

My sneakers: I have always felt that I need to be able to run at a moments notice. From the boogie man, the cocoman, la Llorona, el cuy cuy…I like sneakers for sneaking.

I like pretty kitten heels with beadwork. I like warm boots and flip flops. I have so many shoes that I forget I have a pair of shoes until I come across them in the back of the closet. I like to shop second hand stores for unique shoes. I like vintage shoes. I like practical shoes. I like shoes that hurt. I like shoes that feel like walking on clouds. I like shoes. But I've retired my stilettos. But my characters wear them and use them for weapons in a pinch. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Dancing in Red Shoes

by Bethany Maines

We are celebrating our new logo this month and discussing what our red stiletto means to us.  As I have been recently taking a trip through the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, I was immediately reminded of the story of the Red Shoes. In the story an orphan girl gets a pair of red shoes and makes the mistake of wearing them to church. She’s very pleased with her red shoes and give a little dance step and from that moment on is cursed to dance whether she wants to or not.  Eventually, she gets a woodcarver and occasional town executioner to chop off her feet.  He carves her a pair of wooden feet, she begs forgiveness and eventually is allowed to return to church and presumably her life of appropriate poverty and boring clothes.  The story is a very obvious warning about dressing above ones station, acting without proper humility and of course having the audacity to be a pretty girl.  To which I say… bring on the red shoes, let’s go dancing.

Red stilettos are sexy, daring, and commanding, all of which are dangerous things for women to be whether it’s 18th century Germany or 21st century America. The Stiletto Gang doesn’t require our members to wear stilettos, but we do embrace the idea that there isn’t a particular way women ought to be.  Our members are diverse in ethnicity, ages, and outlook , but we all share the idea that women can be (and write) what they want.  To me that’s what the red shoe stands for—boldly embracing women’s right to be powerful.

Many thanks to my Stiletto sisters for their continued support and now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a little dancing to do.


Want to know more about upcoming releases from Bethany Maines?  Join the Blue Zephyr Press Readers Group.  You'll receive a free e-short from Bethany Maines and get updates about new releases and sales from the Blue Zephyr Press authors.    WWW.BLUEZEPHYRPRESS.COM

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery Series, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous short stories. When she's not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her fourth degree black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Red Shoes and Magic

Serendipitous—something occurring by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

But what does serendipity have to do with this month’s blog “theme” of red shoes?

For me … a lot since I’ve never owned a pair of red shoes. The closest I’ve come is shocking pink athletic kicks. I’ve worn these neon babies on airplanes, cruise ships, buses, trains, and aerobic dance floors. An amazing number of people have stopped and commented on the color. One woman wanted to know where I bought them.
But. Pink is not red. Ergo, what to write this month?
Well, imagine my jig for joy when serendipity bit me hard. Why?
Because, on August 31, I published BIg MAGiC, a paranormal romance that reveals a new twist on the magical red shoes, love, and a sexy warlock.
A miniature pair of red shoes appears on the cover. The same shoes appear on my website and Facebook pages. In addition, red shoes play a big role in the book. Huge. They belong to Thea Gale, great-great-granddaughter of Dorothy (she of The Wizard of Oz).
In BIg MAGiC, Thea’s shoes are four-inch stilettos—not unlike our former logo. The heels bring her height to just below the chin of the smokin’ hot warlock. He covets those shoes, and she obsesses over him.
Who wouldn’t covet red shoes? Maybe not the stilettos if, like me, your back aches thinking about even slipping them on. But I am now on a search for a pair I can wear whenever I want to feel powerful, in charge, and mesmerizing.

Barbara Plum, aka AB Plum, writes light and dark novels about families that can bring us together or tear us apart. BIg MAGiC is Book 1 in The WEIRd MAGiC Trilogy.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Red Shoes, Kickass Women, and Stiletto Gang Magic

"She speaks for her clan" by Dorothy Sullivan
We here at The Stiletto Gang are celebrating a newly designed logo for our blog and the diverse makeup of our membership. We are women writers from various backgrounds, but we all share one thing in common. We're pretty kickass women. We are all strong in our own ways, some quiet yet powerful, some flamboyant yet solidly dependable.

I feel very comfortable with my Stiletto Gang blogmates, because the Cherokee have traditionally had strong women who shared power with men, who owned the land and houses, who could go to war with the men. Consequently, I tend to look for strength of one kind or another in the women with whom I surround myself. The women with whom I'm friends are women who are comfortable with their own power, rather like my varied pals here in the Stiletto Gang. I write a lot about strong women and women coming into their own. It's part of my heritage and part of my life today.

Like many of us, I don't wear high heels any longer, more interested in comfort and practicality, but I think the symbol of our red stilettos signals the world that on this blog sits the writing of a cadre of kickass women, often read by other kickass women. So here's a poem for all of us and the magic that happens when strong women come together to share their strength and their vulnerabilities.


and pours it over her body,
drenching hair and face,
standing in pools of herself,
dripping excess. She takes up her power
with strong hands and holds it close
to her breasts like an infant, warming it
with her own heat. She draws her power
around her like a hand-loomed shawl,
a cloak to keep the wind out,
pulling it tighter, tugging and patting it
smooth against the winter.
She pulls her power from branches
of dead trees where it has hung so long
neglected that it has changed from white to deep
weathered gold. She wraps her hair
in power like the light of distant stars,
gleaming through the dark emptiness
in and around everything. She lets her power down
into a dank well, down and down,
clanking against stone walls, until
she hears the splash, a little further
to submerge it completely, then draws it
hand over rubbed-raw hand, heavy enough
to make her shoulders and forearms ache
and shudder with strain, pulls it up
overflowing, her power,
and drinks in deep, desperate gulps
out of a lifetime of thirst. She weaves her power
into a web, a cloth, a shroud, and hangs it
across the night where it catches the light of stars
and refracts it into a shining glory,
brighter than the moon
and colder. She holds her power
in her hands at the top of the hill
in the top of the tree where she steps out
onto the air and her wings
of power buoy her to ride the thermals
higher and higher toward the sun,
her new friend.
When she returns,
she folds her power over and over
into a tiny, dense pellet to swallow,
feeling its mass sink to her center
and explode, spreading throughout to transform
her into something elemental,
a star,
a mountain,
a river,
a god.

Published in Heart's Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

Linda Rodriguez's Dark Sister: Poems has just been released. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop, and The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, an anthology she co-edited, were published to high praise in 2017. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery novel featuring Cherokee campus police chief, Skeet Bannion, and Revising the Character-Driven Novel will be published in 2019. Her three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and Every Last Secret—and her earlier books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart's Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has been optioned for film.

Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Native Writers Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Highway to Friendship

By Sparkle Abbey

We love to travel. Whether it’s just the two of us, with our critique group, or with our husbands, we love the adventure that lies ahead.  We’ve traveled together by plane and car. We’ve been to Illinois, New York, California, Washington DC, Michigan (on accident), Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, and Texas to name just a few states. We've hopped in the car for book signings, writing conferences, for personal vacations, and even a couple spur-of-the-moment road trips to work out plot problems.

Not only does our traveling together strengthen our relationship, it strengthens our writing. We’ve explored cozy small towns and bustling metropolitan areas, soaking in the cultures, smells, sounds, and rhythm of the people to color our stories with relatable details and memorable characters inspired by real life.

We’ve brainstormed our best titles on an airplane—Fifty Shades of Greyhound and The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo. We’ve stuffed 300 individual dog treats into tiny cellophane bags for conference giveaways, created detailed marketing plans, all while jotting down notes on the conversations we’ve “accidentally” overheard during a lunch stop at the Cracker Barrel, (they have the best restrooms). For us, travel inspires creativity and helps us focus. We especially love it when we have those famous “ah-ha moments.”

When traveling with someone for twenty years (yes, that means we started traveling together since we were twelve), you not only can you finish each other’s sentences, but you can communicate an entire conversation with a single look. You know each other’s entire routine before bed, how they like their coffee in the morning, and when they're ready for morning conversation—no real talking before the first cup of coffee. You each know when the other needs their downtime or just a trip to Starbucks.

Traveling with a best friend, you know you’ll find adventure. Swimming at midnight. Dinner with an Elvis impersonator. A Rod Stewart sighting. Nonstop talking to the point you’ve lost your voices. And best of all, permission to act silly. Never judgment, just someone you trust to join in on the fun!

Now we’re planning to take a cruise together with our husbands. Who knows what mischief we’ll cook up on a ship?  We can’t wait to find out!

What about you? Do you have someone you enjoy traveling with? What do you like about traveling together?

We also have some exciting news to share! Book 10, The Dogfather, will make its debut September 21st!

It's available now for presale. 

About The Dogfather -
Who knew the world of designer purses could be such a dog-eat-dog business?

When a local, designer handbags store owner is found dead, the police first believe it’s an unfortunate accident. But the evidence doesn’t lie. Before you can say "wiseguy," Bow Wow Boutique owner, Melinda Langston’s, former fiancé and undercover FBI agent, Grey Donovan, is the prime suspect.

Now the two are working side-by-side to prove Grey's innocence— nothing personal, just business. Or is it? Suspects are piling up, family secrets are exposed, and no one is who they appear to be, including Mel’s newest employee. Time’s running out. Mel better sniff out the killer before she and Grey end up sleeping with the fishes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Judy Garland's Ruby Slippers

Judy Penz Sheluk

Something you may not know about me: I was named after Judy Garland. In fact, my real name is Judy (not Judith). My mom, Anneliese, (who everyone called Ann) was a practical woman who determined that no one would shorten Judy. Of course, she was also the first person to call me Jude (before you get any ideas, I do not take kindly to the abbreviated version of Judy and under no circumstances should you sing "Hey Jude" to me).
Anyway, this month, the Stiletto Gang is celebrating our new logo and so I thought it would be the perfect time to share some fun facts about Judy Garland's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

  1. In Frank L. Baum's book, the slippers were silver. They were changed to ruby red for the movie to show up more vividly against the yellow brick road.  
  2. The ruby slippers owe their glitter to burgundy sequins.
  3. Several pairs were made for the movie; the exact number is unknown as studio records have long been destroyed. There were four pairs known to survive, only three pairs remain.
  4. A well worn pair was donated to the Smithsonian in 1979; the bottoms have felt soles to muffle the sound of Judy's dancing footsteps on the yellow brick road. They are size 5.
  5. In 2005, one pair of ruby slippers, on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, were stolen. They were recovered on Tues. Sept. 4, 2018 -- details have not yet been released, but keep watching the newsfeed!
  6. Actress Debbie Reynolds owned an off-screen test pair, which she purchased for $300. She sold them at auction in 2011 for $690,000 to a private buyer at auction.
  7. Lady Gaga was given a pair of ruby slippers in 2011 for her 25th birthday.
  8. In 2012, Steven Spielberg and Leonardo DiCaprio purchased one of the four remaining (known) pairs of the ruby slippers from an auction house, and donated them to the future Academy Museum (opening in 2019). The price paid was never disclosed. 

Do you know any more Ruby Slippers trivia? If so, share your knowledge in the comments below and start clicking your heels.

PS: I think Judy Garland would approve of me telling you that my latest mystery, Past & Present, will be released on Sept. 21, 2018. Pre-order the trade paperback at all the usual suspects or pre-order on Kindle for the special introductory price of $2.99 (reg. $5.99) and thank you! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Kick Off: An Ode to High Heels

by J.M. Phillippe

This month we at the Stiletto Gang are celebrating the return of our (new and improved) red stiletto shoe by sharing our thoughts and feelings about shoes, stilettos, and what it's been like to be part of this particular gang.

I have never been a high-heels girl. I own a few pairs, but prefer the widest, steadiest heel I can get. A thick heeled boot was my go-to during my clubbing days, and for fancy occasions, I aimed for something in a kitten heel or spool heel, something that felt a little more stable. When wedges were in, I was very pleased (even if I thought they were kinda ugly).

I mostly wear high heels for weddings or other times when it is imperative that my footwear look appropriate. Inevitably, this means that as soon as the dancing gets going, my shoes will find their way to a corner or be shoved under a chair--I never have managed to master the art of dancing in heels. In fact, my favorite thing about high heels is how they give me an excuse to take them off, giving me the freedom to dance barefoot (but still on my toes).

It is well known that even the world's most comfortable high heels will, eventually, hurt the feet they encase. There are countless studies that suggest that regularly wearing them are bad for your feet, but that wearing them can make you appear more attractive, more feminine, and be more persuasive. In the cost-benefit analysis, women often decide that wearing them is better than not wearing them. They have held an allure for women since they were girls trying to fit their feet into their mother's shoes, and no make-over movie montage is ever complete without the requite "learn to walk in heels" scene, which some of lived out in our own, non-movie lives.

But if wearing your first pair of heels is a right of passage for girls and femmes, that right of passage isn't complete until that same person has kicked said shoes off. If all pleasure is derived from the relief of tension, then the feeling of finally launching a pair of particularly painful heels across the room is indeed ecstasy.

I will never relate to anything more than when Emma Thompson, one of my favorite actresses of all time, took her high heels off at the 2014 Golden Globes. She then threw them over her shoulder and presented an award barefooted. In fact, many actresses have started pushing back against the expectation that women HAVE to wear shoes. Kirsten Stewart famously took her own heels off at the 2018 Cannes Festival despite strict dress guidelines.

If the high heel is the symbol of the Femme Fatale, taking that same high heel off is the symbol of the Every Woman. It is the woman who has completed a day of work, made it through a long event, or decided that even if the event isn't done, her feet are. Her toes now have room to stretch and wiggle, and the ball of her feet can share her weight more evenly with her heel. The high-heel kick off is one of life's great joys.

What I love about being part of The Stiletto Gang is that I don't have to be a high-heels girl to fit in. This particular group is very inclusive, encompassing a wide variety of writers, making space for different styles and even genres. This group is filled with my kind of women--women who are bold enough to put themselves out there, and make their voices heard. They are the anti-Cannes Festival, letting participants show up in whatever footwear suits them. And I am very proud to be part of this gang.

J.M. Phillippe is the author of the novels Perfect Likeness and Aurora One and the short stories, The Sight and Plane Signals. She has lived in the deserts of California, the suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City. She works as a clinical social worker in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free time binge-watching quality TV, drinking cider with amazing friends, and learning the art of radical self-acceptance, one day at a time.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Red Shoes! The Stiletto Gang's New Look - an Open Clicking Our Heels Letter to Our Readers

Red Shoes! The Stiletto Gang’s New Look– an Open Clicking Our Heels Letter to Our Readers
Dear Readers,

We adore you. It is a joy to know you habitually read our posts directly from our blog page, through an e-mail subscription, or from our Facebook page. Your comments telling us you appreciate the diversity of our writings, backgrounds, and personalities gives us the incentive to write our next blogs. Because you support us, it is our constant goal to provide you with the best experience possible. That means not only the words we give you, but the visual experience, too.

Many years ago, our first logo featured a stiletto and a spiked red heel. A few years ago, we updated our website to reflect the changes happening in fashion and with our bloggers. The result was a new logo, featuring a gold platform shoe. It was beautiful.
From your comments and clicks, we know you are enjoying what we are doing, but we are not willing to stand on the status quo. It is our pledge to continue to produce diverse and edgy writings that let you into our inner thoughts as people and writers. To support this promise and keeping ourselves in the height of style, we are introducing an updated logo:
What do you think?
During September and October, each member of the Stiletto Gang will be writing a blog that reflects our different thoughts on red shoes. Subscribe to the blog, leave a comment on today’s post, comment on the various September and October red shoe blogs, and let your friends know about our logo change and we’ll keep track of what you each do. Check the November Clicking Our Heels to see how we recognize the person who earned the most points doing any and all of these four things the most. Oh, and one more thing - next month Clicking Our Heels will be back to its first Wednesday position and Judy Penz Sheluk's October post will be on the first Monday.

We can’t wait to hear from you. As we said, we adore you. 
The Stiletto Gang