Wednesday, December 8, 2021

3 Colors Cover Reveal

 by Bethany Maines

3 Colors Trilogy Launches!

For a little over a year, I've been feverishly working on the series of books that would become the 3 Colors Trilogy.  These action-packed paranormal romances feature a trio of siblings Azure, Ochre, and Scarlet as they find love and face danger from evil warlocks. While not traditional mysteries in the sense that no one is trying to solve a murder - each book finds the romantic leads trying to puzzle out out who is targeting them and why.  These quick steamy reads are the most fun I've had writing in a long time. The couples are swoon-worthy, funny, and who doesn't love werewolves?

How to Write the Heming...Way

One part of writing this series that has been interesting has been working with a beta reading service. Because this isn't my usual genre, I used a service to supply beta readers I didn't know to read the initial completed manuscript. The readers then answered a short survey of questions that I provided.  It was amazingly insightful, but also nerve wracking! Handing over a partially edited book to a stranger for feedback... whew! The first time, my nerves were tested and I may have had to Hemingway (aka drink!) my way through the first reading of their responses. But the were all quite kind to me and provided many useful data points.

Coming Soon!

The series is now complete and I'll be utilizing a quick release strategy for the trilogy—releasing them one month a part in February, March and April of 2022. Fans won't have to wait for the next installment. Want to learn more about my Supernatural world?  Check out the links below!

Learn More: https://bethanymaines.com/supernaturals/

Pre-Order: SERIES PAGE


**

Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae MysteriesSan Juan Islands MysteriesShark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous short stories. When she's not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her 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 Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.




Tuesday, December 7, 2021

To Find a Monarch

 By Kathryn Lane

Mexico, my country of origin, is a cultural paradise. I always experience a nostalgic yearning for the traditions I grew up with, especially during the last quarter of the year, which is rich with festivities. Starting in September, we have holidays that spill over into multiple days, like the 15th and 16th of September, independence day. Posada time, from December 16th through the 24th, brings out families from entire neighborhoods where revelers of all ages gather in candle-lit processions singing Christmas carols along the streets until they arrive at the host house for that evening. At the designated home, the carolers sing “Para Pedir Posada” to reenact Mary and Joseph’s journey into Bethlehem asking for shelter before the birth of Jesus. The hosts, after several stanzas, invite the revelers in for food, drink, and games for the kiddos.

Wonderful as Christmas and Independence celebrations are, it’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1st and 2nd, that makes my soul yearn for a trip to the state of Michoacan.

When I was twelve, my mother took me to Lake Pátzcuaro to experience a vigil in a cemetery where townsfolk would commune with their departed loved ones by sharing music, dance, food, and drinks.

I’ve never forgotten the scene when we arrived. Lake Pátzcuaro’s famed butterfly net fishermen, their canoes filled with bright orange cempasúchil, or marigolds, floated on the lake like a colorful flower market. The marigolds, like rays of sun dropped along the way, to lead the ancestors’ spirits into town where ofrendas, or altars, awaited them in the private homes of their earthly relatives.

We climbed into a vividly decorated canoe to navigate to Janitzio, the largest island. On the way, Mother told me Día de los Muertos is a truly Mexican tradition, a legacy of indigenous Aztec practices. The Aztecs recognized that death was part of the continuity of life. Yet Pátzcuaro is P’urhépecha¹ territory, the other powerful Mesoamerican empire, the one the Aztecs never conquered. The two empires fought many battles. Yet, the Purépecha integrated the Day of the Dead as their own.

We were mid-lake when a butterfly brushed its brilliant orange-red wings with black veins on the golden marigolds. The fisherman smiled, saying, “Está perdido este ancestro. Debe tener familia en Rosario o Angangueo.”

Mother agreed the butterfly was lost and had overflown its winter home near mountain villages. She explained that monarchs migrate yearly from Canada and the US to the high elevations of Michoacán where they cluster on oyamel trees to spend the winter. They start arriving at the end of October, coinciding with the Day of the Dead celebrations. The local people believe the butterflies are the spirits of their ancestors returning home.

I remember asking if we would visit the monarchs.

“Another year,” she said.

Yet, we never trekked to the monarch’s overwintering sites. When I see a butterfly, it reminds me of that trip we never took.

My brother, Jorge Lane, is a nature photographer and monarchs are one of his favorite subjects. He’s visited several sanctuaries to photograph them.

Carlos Gottfried, a butterfly conservationist in Mexico, said: “When you stand in a Monarch butterfly sanctuary, your soul is shaken and your life is changed.”

Gottfried’s quote beckons me to find monarchs overwintering on Oyamel firs to fulfill that trip never taken.

¹ Also known as the Tarascan.

For fun articles on Mexican holidays, you can purchase: The Insider's Guide to the Best Mexican Holidays. It will be available in Kindle format on Amazon on December 17, 2021. Nineteen authors, including yours truly, contributed articles. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE AT STILETTO GANG!!!

Photo credits:

Monarca Encantadora© by Jorge J. Lane

Rosario Monarca© by Jorge J. Lane

 







 

Monday, December 6, 2021

It's Release Month for BEAUTY AND THE DECEASED


 

Happy December! 

 

There's so much to be excited about this month. Christmas is just a few weeks away and in a few short days, BEAUTY AND THE DECEASED will be released! 

Doesn't the cover just give you all the warm, summery beach vibes we'll be dreaming of in a few weeks? Well, if you live in snow country, you're probably dreaming of beach weather right now. But where I am in Connecticut, those feelings start to surface in January, when winter really hits. I'll just stare at my book cover. :)

I really enjoyed writing this installment of the Resale Boutique Mystery series. It was so enjoyable hanging out with the Lucky Cove gang after being away for a few months. There's a lot of stuff packed into this book, from a life-altering secret to backstabbing beauty influencers behaving badly.

Today I'm sharing an excerpt with you and I'm sharing the details on a pre-release giveaway! Read to the end!

Have a great day and thanks so much for stopping by today.


EXCERPT:

Kelly Quinn knew three things for sure her first full summer back home in Lucky Cove. One—summer people were good for business. Two—reconnecting with her cousin was just what she needed to help deal with…well, see number three. Three—getting over a breakup is hard when you see the guy practically every day.

She leaned closer to the mirror and applied a swipe of her new favorite lipstick, Beachy Nude by Define Beauty. The up-and-coming cosmetics company had been her cousin’s brainchild. Becky Quinn’s obsession with makeup in her teen years had paid off.

Kelly dropped the lipstick into her vintage Gucci clutch she used as a cosmetics bag. It had been a little treat to herself after the breakup from her boyfriend. Luckily the consignment website she purchased it from had a payment plan. She grappled around for her concealer and finally found the tube.

Dabbing on the Define Beauty’s concealer, she knew something else for certain. And it made her belly quiver.

Family secrets that bubbled below the surface could suddenly erupt, swallowing everyone involved. Including someone like her who only knew merely about the secret.

Too bad her concealer didn’t work on things like heartbreaks and secrets. She would have purchased a vat full.

A dramatic meow drew her attention from the dresser’s mirror to the floor where her orange cat, Howard, sat staring up at her. He meowed again and ratcheted up the drama that time. She glanced at her watch and sighed. Right on time.

The furball had a schedule, and heaven forbid there was any deviation. After all, his first nap of the morning would be after breakfast.

“Okay, okay. I’m almost done.” She stepped back from the dresser and gave a final look at her outfit. She nodded approvingly at her gray wide-leg linen blend pants topped with a black cotton shell and paired with block-heeled sandals. It was a fashionable yet comfortable outfit for the day ahead. Before she opened her shop, the Lucky Cove Resale Boutique, she had an appointment with a new consignor. According to the woman’s sister-in-law, who worked with Kelly, Camille Donovan had a ton of clothes to sell.

Kelly’s lips curled up into a smile. She loved clients like Camille. And she needed more of them.

Another meow, this time louder and more urgent, alerted Kelly to her cat’s growing impatience with her dawdling. Over time, she’d learned to decipher his various sounds and body language. It would have been a whole lot easier if he’d come with a manual when she inherited him from her granny. Manuals would have helped with the boutique and her apartment too. Oh, and she couldn’t forget relationships. A how-to guide on how to repair broken relationships would have been beneficial. Alas, there was no handbook on life. It looked like she, along with everyone else, was learning as she went along.

She zipped the cosmetics bag and carried it out of the bedroom with Howard right on her heels. When she stopped at the small table in the hall between the coat closet and the door, he gave her a questionable look.

Exactly who owned whom?

“I’m only dropping this into my tote,” she reassured her feline.

Her cell phone chimed, and she slipped it out from its pocket in the bag. Another meow prompted her to walk and read the text simultaneously.

Wish you were here. Isn’t this gorgeous?

Kelly smiled at the photo of the sunrise her cousin Becky had sent. Lucky Cove didn’t have long stretches of beach that neighboring towns had, but it rivaled them in beauty and tranquilness. Her hometown wasn’t a flashy summer village where people vacationed to be seen. Families and overstressed city-dwellers flocked to the town to recharge, not to be followed around by paparazzi.

She typed a reply as she entered the kitchen and nearly tripped over Howard. He was getting excited about his breakfast.

Can’t wait to see the house. 

                                                     *  *  * 

GIVEAWAY INFO:

  

I am giving away a prize perfect for cozy reading fashionistas. 
 
The prize includes:
 
A $10.00 gift card to TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Goods.
 
Three first-in series books perfect for your fashionable cozy reading this winter.
 
📚MURDER WEARS A LITTLE BLACK DRESS, Resale Boutique Mystery series, by Debra Sennefelder
📚 A FASHIONABLE FATE, Rosa The Cuban Psychic Mystery series, by illeana Munoz-Renfroe
📚 BURDEN OF PROOF, Bonnie & Clyde Mystery series, by JulieAnn Lindsey
 
A 100% canvas tote perfect for groceries, book hauls and outings. The tote measures 14.5”x20”x7”
A Ghiradelli hot cocoa and chocolate gift set with mug.
 
The value of this prize package is just under $80.00. Would you like a chance at receiving it?
 
“I am always happy to get an invite to read a new book by Author Debra Sennefelder. If this is a new series for you don’t hesitate to jump on anywhere.” ~My Reading Journeys
 
Just add BEAUTY AND THE DECEASED to your 𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐬 Want To Read shelf and let me know in the comments. And if you feel like it, please share. 
 
Feel free to tag friends you think would be interested in reading BEAUTY AND THE DECEASED.
FYI, this contest isn't affiliated or endorsed by FB or Instagram and the winner will be randomly selected. Contest ends Dec.13, 2021 Winner will be notified by Dec. 15, 2021.
 
*shipment to US addresses only.
 

 

 Debra Sennefelder is the author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series. She lives and writes in Connecticut. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking, exercising and taking long walks with her Shih-Tzu, Connie. You can keep in touch with Debra through her website, on Facebook and Instagram.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Holiday Books & Movies

 by Sparkle Abbey

It's hard to believe that it's December but here we are. Some of us are looking forward to big family gatherings for the first time and a while and others are planning something much more low key for the holidays. Some of us have Christmas shopping done and others have not even begun. Some of us love holiday books and movies and others are...meh.


What's your view? 

We love holiday movies but we both lean toward classic movies. And actually we share the same favorite of the season - "It's a Wonderful Life."

 We simply can't let the holidays go by without at least one viewing. (Maybe more than one because we're certain our families need to see it again, too.)


And then there are other great classics. 

Here are some that top our list: 

  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • A Christmas Carol 
  • Holiday Inn
  • Christmas in Connecticut
  • A Christmas Story
  • White Christmas
  • The Preacher's Wife

And more recently films such as "The Man Who Invented Christmas" and "The Holiday" also make the list. 

We also love holiday-themed books though our taste there runs a bit more to crime. Mary Higgins Clark comes to mind as favorites over the years. Her website has a list of MHC Christmas Books

There are several resources if you're looking for ideas.  Bibliofile provided this list of the 50 Best Christmas Mysteries and our go-to is always Janet Rudolph's Mystery Fanfare for recommendations and the most complete listings. Here's the recent list of Hanukah Crime Fiction

Just like movies we all have different tastes in books and just like you all, we're always looking for new recommendations. So we'd like to hear from you. 

What's your favorite holiday movie and your (most recent) favorite holiday-themed book?



Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don't tell the other neighbors.) 

They love to hear from readers and can be found on Facebook,and Twitter their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the SparkleAbbey.com website.



Friday, November 26, 2021

Thankful!

 





       Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        new places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.


 

 

 

Hope you had a great day yesterday with those you love, celebrating all the things you are thankful for. I am grateful for many things, family and friends in particular. But this year I am also thankful to have a new member of our family.

This is Nicki-Jones in February of this year (2021) when she arrived from a "kill lot" (next step dog food in Mexico) in Louisiana to a quarantine pasture. She was lame and had a large wicked scar on the front of her left back leg and a patterned scarring on the back of the other leg that makes me think she got tangle in barbed wire at some point. The circular sticker on her withers was her lot #. She had a brand under her mane from the track, so I was able to confirm that she was a 16 year-old Standardbred. She was sweet, but had no idea what a treat was or even that eating out of a human hand was a possibility, which speaks to her former life as a work horse—pulling a sulky (a one-person cart) on a pacer race track and then with the Amish, where I assume she pulled a cart or wagon. I don't know how long she had been at the kill lot, but they don't keep them long because feeding her is an expense.

 


We took her in with another mare to give our gelding a companion and her a safe place to grow older and get loved on. Never thought I would be riding her! But she put on weight and gloss and healed up and definitely knows what a treat is now! Her coat even changed from brown to black this summer.

 

This is the first time I’ve been on her. Wasn’t sure what she would do, as I don’t know if she’s ever had anyone on her back, only pulled things. She caught on quickly, though, and I was really happy on this beautiful day to be in the saddle! It's been a long time for the old lady on the top. Not sure Nicki-Jones felt the same way, but hoping we have some adventures ahead of us on the trails and lots of years to get to know each other and to be thankful for.

 
 
 
 
 T.K. is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her interest and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com


 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Blessings on this day of thankfulness by Juliana Aragon Fatula

 Dear Reader,

Today, I give thanks to all of my loved ones for putting up with me and my cantankerous irreverent unholy magic. ha. 

My great great grandmother, Abrana Quintana a Ute woman married a white man.

Rev. Albert Jacobs a white man married a Ute Woman and became my ancestor.

Juliana Quintana Jacobs Gomez Mondragon Aragon Fatula a Crazy Chicana in Catholic City 2021


I'm thankful for the DNA that my ancestors gave me and the knowledge that we are all one people. The color of our skin does not make us different. Birds come in all colors but they are still all birds. Que no? 

I never knew my European ancestors or my Indigenous ancestors but in my research I discovered that many indigenous women married white men and had children that were mixed blood. 

I married a white man and we did not have any children but our relationship has been of a mixed race marriage and we have made it work for 30 years. I'm thankful for him and his Slovak ancestors that made his DNA. 

I'm thankful for my father's DNA that gave me my Navajo and Pueblo ancestors. And my mother's DNA that gave me Ute and Navajo ancestors. 

I am a mixed blood Mexican Indian. A Chicana from Southern Colorado. I'm thankful for all of my ancestors, European and Indigenous that made me into the human being that loves all people of all colors, races, religions and ethnicities. 

This holiday remember where you come from and be thankful that you live in a country that believes in Democracy. At least if we can keep it. 

Thank you readers for taking time out of your busy holiday to read my blog and listen to my stories. I'm thankful for you. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

No One Ever Promised Life Would Be Fair

By Lois Winston

I graduated college (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, if you believe my kids) with a degree in graphic design and illustration and went to work as an art director at a small ad agency. Big title. Tiny paycheck. I was the one and only artist on staff, so I really didn’t direct anyone.

 

One day I was complaining about the unfairness of something to our office manager, and she said, “Lois, no one ever promised life would be fair.”

 

That conversation took place so long ago that I don’t even remember the names of all my coworkers, but her words have stuck with me. Over the years I’ve had some hard times while others around me have had great success. I have a relative who I’ve often said could step in caca and have it turn into gold. Some people have that kind of luck. Me? Well, let’s just say I’ve never won more than $7 on a lottery ticket. Get the picture?

 

I’m constantly reminded of that coworker’s words when I look down the long and winding road of my life as a published author. No one ever promised life would be fair. The outside world (those millions and millions of people who know nothing about publishing) thinks every published author is pulling in the kind of big bucks that James Patterson, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling make. Friends and relatives expect you to give them free books because after all, you’re a published author and can afford it. (I can hear the laughter coming from all the published authors reading this blog post.)

 

The hard truth is that most published authors can’t afford to quit their day jobs. And that includes many authors I know who have hit the NY Times bestseller list. Factoring in the hours most of us devote to crafting each novel, then promoting it, we’d make more money per hour asking, “Do you want fries with that?” 

 

So why do we do it?

 

We write because we can’t not write. (Pardon the double-negative.) Yes, it’s hard work, often filled with disappointment: You can’t sell what you consider your break-out book. Your last royalty check was less than three figures. Your publisher drops you. Your foray into indie publishing has resulted in sales that might sustain your Starbucks habit—if you’re lucky. 

 

And still, we continue to write. Because you we can’t not write.

 

No one ever said life would be fair--or easy, but the struggle makes us stronger. And better. We keep writing. Keep honing our craft. Maybe someday luck will be on our side, and we’ll reap the rewards of all that hard work. One thing is for certain, though, if we give up, we’ll never succeed.


As a gift to my readers, for a limited time the 2-ebook set of Christmas-themed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, featuring Drop Dead Ornaments and Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide, is available for only .99 cents. Click here for Buy Links.

~*~

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.



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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Grateful for Audiobooks!

By Lynn McPherson

My first audiobook is finally out in the world! I'm so excited to share with readers that they can now listen to the first Izzy Walsh Mystery, The Girls' Weekend Murder. As an author, it is an absolute delight to hear your words read aloud by a professional narrator--even more exciting than I'd imagined.

The timing couldn't be better either with Thanksgiving two days away. I have so much to be grateful for, my audiobook is only adding to the lengthy list.

I hope everyone is able to spend time with loved ones, enjoy a wonderful meal, and have a relaxing holiday weekend.

Here is a little about my first audiobook, described as a mixture of  Murder, She Wrote and I Love Lucy...

An oceanfront estate in the beautiful New England town of Twin Oaks is the ideal setting for Isabelle Walsh and her close-knit group of friends to celebrate their annual girls’ weekend in 1953.

While off to a promising start, the weekend quickly goes awry as murder interrupts the fun and the hostess is accused of the shocking crime. Izzy quickly realizes it is up to her to save her innocent friend and bring the murderer to light.

Keen intuition and quick wit are Izzy’s only tools. She must use them to find the dark truth before the killer brings her investigation to a dead stop…


Happy Thanksgiving Readers!!!



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.