Friday, November 29, 2019

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!

Thank you for being our friend! 

Julie Mulhern


Fields' Guide to Abduction
Poppy Fields is a Hollywood IT girl with big problems. Bodies are popping up like daisies, the Mexican police have taken her passport, and, when she runs for the border, a cartel makes her their unwilling guest. Surrounded by trained killers, Poppy will need charm, intelligence, and a killer Chihuahua if she hopes to escape. #FREE on your favorite e-reader
GET NOW: Amazon

Paula Gail Benson


Love in the Lowcountry
These 14 tales by members of the Lowcountry Romance Writers take place in Charleston, S.C., during the winter holiday season. My story, "Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest," is about Mel, an English graduate student who is better at literature than life. She is unexpectedly thrown back in time to 1936, where she meets the subjects of her thesis, Dorothy and DuBose Heyward. What she doesn't anticipate is for her fellow grad student Will to follow her. Can Mel and Will make it back to present day Charleston in time to spend Thanksgiving with Will's young daughter?
BUY NOW: Amazon

J.M. Phillippe


The Christmas Spirit
Charlene Dickenson didn't think that some minor stalking of her ex-boyfriend would lead to her untimely death. And she really didn't think that because she died in a Christmas-related accident, she would end up in the Hall of Christmas Spirits. But a Christmas death means that Charlene must discover if she has what it takes to be a Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, or Future—helping mortals transform their lives like Ebenezer Scrooge—or end up like Jacob Marley and spend the rest of her existence in chains.  Only Charlene has no intention of letting unknown forces control her life…death… after-life.  Charlene figures that with a little ingenuity and pluck, she can surely figure a way out of this situation.  But finding out how to win may just mean giving up everything she loves.  Stuck in a place where the Christmas music never ends and the holiday treats will never make you full, Charlene is going to have to figure out how to let go of her mortal life and embrace the Christmas Spirit.
BUY NOW: all locations

Barbara Plum


Crazy Daze & a Knight
Hop off the fast track. Buy a boat. Write the great American novel.
Forty-four-year old Susanna Walker knows about taking risks and dreaming big. Mother of two grown kids. Former CEO of a Silicon Valley PR firm. Ex-wife of a still present, former compulsive gambler, Susanna ignores their objections to her life and refuses to accept she may be perimenopausal. As with all well-laid plans, hers quickly derail when the hunk from the boat next door drops by and invites her to supper on his vessel, Camelot. The boat's name, his boyish appearance, and the medieval armor leave Susanna a bit dazed.
Against all reason, she agrees to inspect the armor more closely whle he puts the touches on fresh pasta, shrimp, and a cheeky Chardonnay. When she wakes the next morning, her clothes neatly folded on the chair next to her bed, she's butt naked. And mad. He suckered her with his knight-in-shining armor disguise. But does he think he can steal her underwear without consequences? Unfortunately, the Bold Knight rejects the consequences and issues his own challenge.
BUY NOW: Amazon

Bethany Maines

CONNECT AT: Goodreads

The Second Shot
A drunken mistake in college cost US Marshal Maxwell Ames the affection of Dominique Deveraux and six years later, he’s determined to fix the slip-up. But there’s just one tiny problem—someone wants the Deveraux family dead. Dominique Deveraux never expected Max to reappear in her life, let alone apologize, but as Dominique investigates the mysterious attacks on her wealthy family Max quickly becomes far more than her one time college classmate. Now, Max and Dominique must dodge mercenaries and bullets as they try to make sure that they’re the only ones who get a second shot.
BUY NOW: all locations

GIVEAWAY: Get a free Christmas ebook at...

Kay Kendall


After You've Gone During
Prohibition a small Texas town's deadly secrets are revealed by a sheltered, yet enterprising young woman. Plus puzzling disappearances and lethal grudges, twenty-three-year-old Wallie MacGregor uncovers it all. Evils of the outside world change her life when her father's rum-running brother Rory lands on the MacGregors' doorstep. Absent for decades, Rory says he's fleeing enraged bootleggers. His tales of adventure—and the natural charisma of a born ladies' man—charm Wallie. Yet, this long-lost brother appalls her father, a respected judge. Soon a family tragedy gets deemed an accident by the local sheriff. Yet Wallie believes she sees a crime scene showing foul play. Annoyed that no one agrees with her, she sets out to prove her theory. She snoops into her family's past and finds gangsters, flappers and floozies. When her daring lands her in danger, she wonders if she's really meant to be a female version of Sherlock Holmes, her literary hero. Then again, she knows she must persist.
BUY NOW: Amazon

GIVEAWAY: Win either a paperback or E-book copy of After You've Gone. Enter to win by commenting on & liking the author's page at

Sparkle Abbey


Two #Giveaways - Latest Books - The Dogfather (Sparkle Abbey) and Risky Biscuits (Mary Lee Ashford)

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.
The Dogfather BUY NOW: Amazon
Risky Biscuits BUY NOW: Amazon

GIVEAWAY: Winner’s choice of any print or e-book Sparkle Abbey book AND a Mary Lee Ashford book.  To enter simply sign up for either Sparkle Abbey OR Mary Lee Ashford's newsletters. and

Cathy Perkins

In It For The Money
Holly Price traded professional goals for personal plans when she agreed to leave her high-flying position with the Seattle mergers and acquisition team and take over the family accounting practice. Reunited with JC Dimitrak, her former fiancé, she’s already questioning whether she’s ready to flip her condo for marriage and a house in the ‘burbs.       

When her cousin, Tate, needs investors for his innovative car suspension, Holly works her business matchmaking skills and connects him with a client. The Rockcrawler showcasing the new part crashes at its debut event, however, and the driver dies. Framed for the sabotage, Tate turns to Holly when the local cops—including JC—are ready to haul him to jail. Holly soon finds her cousin and client embroiled in multiple criminal schemes. She’s drawn into the investigation, a position that threatens her life, her family and her increasingly shaky relationship with JC.

Debra H. Goldstein


Two Bites Too Many
Things are finally looking up for Sarah Blair following her unsavory divorce.  Settled into a cozy carriage house with her sassy Siamese cat, RahRah, she has somehow managed to hang on to her law firm receptionist job and – if befriending strays at the local animal shelter counts – lead a thriving social life. For once, Sarah almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end…

 When the president of the town bank and city council is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands – the twins’ sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle.  Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice. But as neighbors turn against her family, can she pare down the suspects before another victim lands on the chopping block.
BUY NOWAmazon • Barnes & Noble

One Taste Too Many

For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!

Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair knew starting over would be messy, but things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by her twin sister’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah, her Siamese cat, wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and her sister wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!
BUY NOW: Amazon • Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY: a print copy of One Taste Too Many to U.S. readers sign up for my blog via

Shari Randall

CONNECT AT: Facebook

Drawn and Buttered is the third book in a wonderfully satisfying cozy mystery series set at the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack in coastal New England.

The Lazy Mermaid’s business has slowed to a snail’s pace—until a monster lobster claws his way onto the scene…

With high season behind them, ballerina on-the-mend Allie Larkin and Aunt Gully are finally lying low. But then an unexpected guest arrives at the lobster shack: a crustacean so huge he’s dubbed Lobzilla around Mystic Bay and on social media. Soon, with everyone showing up for a peek in their tank, Allie and Aunt Gully have more on their plate than they can handle. Meanwhile, another local establishment finds itself in hot water. In exclusive Rabb’s Point, a strange burglary breaches the elegant home of Royal Parrish. Allie takes it upon herself to help with the investigation but, before she can get to the bottom of the case, another alarm sounds: the Lazy Mermaid’s Lobzilla has gone missing and is on the loose! And bodies are beginning to pile up. . .

“Delightful…Full of New England coastal charm…and clever sleuthing [that] will keep you turning the pages.”—Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author of the Domestic Diva mysteries
BUY NOW: Amazon

T.K. Thorne


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.
BUY NOW: all locations

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Book Review of River of Love by Aimée Medina Carr, Homebound Publications by Juliana Aragon Fatula

November 28, 2019

Book Review of River of Love by Aimée Medina Carr, Homebound Publications

Oh, I wish I had a river

I could skate away on

Oh, I wish I had a river so long

I would teach my feet to fly

Oh, I wish I had a river

I could skate away on –River by Joni Mitchell

Dear Reader,

I read River of Love as a manuscript and saw many revisions. When the review copy came in the mail, I tore open the package and held the paperback in my hands with anticipation. I hadn’t read this version. I knew the author and characters well; however, my delight came with the first chapter when I realized mi comadre, Aimee, had written a best-seller novel on her very first attempt.

I swelled with pride for her accomplishment of wanting to tell a story, working hard to write it, research, edit, polish, and find a publisher. She deserves huge accolades. I know how difficult the business of publication can be, especially for writers of color who have been marginalized for centuries. Writers who have to promote their work to an audience who may not understand the culture or history of being indigenous to this country. A Chicana writer can be compared to other writers, but our stories are unique to our past. We have been struggling to be heard and finally publishers are listening and developing a place for us in their presses.

The fictional story in River of Love comes from heart and imagination but has historical facts, legends, dichos, poems, songs, prayers, and memories. The main character, Rose, loves God, family, education, music, and fights to be recognized in a white community with a history of being the headquarters of the Klan in the 20’s. Racism runs rampant, but Rose falls in love with a white boy from a Catholic Boy’s school for rich kids from far away lands. She has never lived anywhere but Colorado and her tight knit Chicano family has a no dating white-boys rule.

Rose and her sidekick, Cha Cha, her prima on her mother’s side of the family, have adventure and mischief in mind. They long for an education like the one the girls at the Catholic school receive but they are just poor Chicanas and get the generic education at the local public schools. They learn about U.S. History but not about Chicano Culture or their indigenous history of their ancestors who had been leaders and living in the land of Aztlan. They didn’t cross the border; the border crossed them.

Rose has a strict Catholic home, but Cha Cha has parents who are less religious and more into partying. The combination of the two cousins/sisters makes for interesting reading. They sneak around town to do the typical teenage tricks. They smoke marijuana referred to in the seventies as pot, weed, mota, ganja. Cannabis hadn’t been legalized and wouldn’t be for fifty some years. They didn’t belong to gangs, but they kept a close gang of friends that shared in their love of music, pot, and free love. It was the seventies, after all.

The story describes the love affair of a young woman from a tiny town in Southern Colorado and her boyfriend from Australia, who provides pot from his schoolmates who live in Denver and go home on weekends. There are parties galore down at the river, the River of Love.

Aimee, writes about the struggles during the Viet Nam War, the civil unrest of the time, the racism, the poverty, the magic that happens when people fall in love and are torn apart by distance and money. A poor Chicana and a rich white boy in love at that Romeo and Juliet age. Stars that collide and make stardust.

The story contains history, mysteries, music, dancing, family dysfunction, and healing power to rise above poverty. The power of love and family. The power of the River of Love.

I recommend this book to all young women who want to overcome the insecurity of failed romance and the longing to find what really matters in the end. Great friends. Family that loves you. And the kind of success that comes from an education and realizing that love flows in and out of our lives and we have to enjoy each fleeting moment because life is truly short and to experience the richness of this world, one must be awake and aware of their surroundings.

River of Love tells a great story about growing up Chicana in the seventies in a small town full of racism and classism. But this story also contains magical realism and poetry unlike most coming of age stories. This Chicana has what I call the power to heal with words. She healed my heart with her first novel, and I look forward to reading more of her work. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Dead Zone

by Bethany Maines

Welcome to the day where no one is on-line, but everyone is at the grocery store. Hopefully, you are successfully home from such an excursion and have yet to launch into the holiday madness of bake, travel, eat, travel, flop face first onto the pile of laundry on your bed because you didn't have time to put it away before you left. My hope for you, dear reader, is that your home with your feet up reading a good book and sipping hot cocoa, cider, or the nog of your choice. That is also my dream for myself, so let's dream the impossible dream together.

The dream starts with good books. Check this space on Friday for a Stiletto Gang book guide featuring some awesome giveaways, sales and just a general list of good things to read. But here are some of mine that you can snag for a quick, easy and cheap!

Blue Christmas - Want a hilarious romantic holiday thriller? Simply join my newsletter and get this one for free. It's as easy as that.

An Unseen Current - Murder, mystery, a hunky Sheriff's Deputy, a granddaughter / granddad detective duo, oh, and there's a dog.  The third in the series, An Unfamiliar Sea, comes out in January.  Grab book one for $.99!
Link: Amazon

Shark's Instinct - Crime, humor, and a heroine and hero that are more than they seem, the Shark Santoyo Series follows a duo that have the odds stacked against them.  Buy book one for $.99 or check it out on Kindle Unlimited.
Link: Amazon


Now let's talk Nog.  I personally do not believe in egg nog.  Too much egg.  Not enough nog.  But I do believe in cocktails.  So with that in mind I suggest the Moscow Mule.  Served in a festive copper cup (but really can be drunk out of anything) try this drink with a slice of lime as a garnish.

Main alcohol: Vodka
Ingredients: 4 oz Ginger beer, 1 1/2 oz Vodka, 1/6 oz Lime juice
Preparation: Combine vodka and ginger beer in a copper mug or highball glass filled with ice. Add lime juice. Stir gently and garnish with a lime slice.
Served: On the rocks; poured over ice.
Drinkware: Copper mug or highball glass

Good luck out there my friends. Don't let the holidays be anything less than jolly!


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, 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 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, November 26, 2019

The Senses of the Season

By Lynn McPherson

With Thanksgiving just days away, it’s time to kick off the holiday season. As I opened up all the boxes with lights and decorations, my festive feelings were thrown into high gear with just one whiff of a gingerbread-scented candle.
It was a great reminder of the importance of using all five senses in writing. Let’s look at how much of a difference it can make if a writer incorporates more than just what the eye can see. I thought we could use a Thanksgiving setting as our demonstration…

What could be the highlights of a Thanksgiving meal, if we were restricted to the sense of sight: a big turkey, decorative pine cones, family gathered together, a festive tree, sparking lights, a dimmed room with a roaring fire. Now, add in the smell of turkey cooking in the oven. And the scent of fresh pine of a crisp after-dinner walk. Doesn’t that start to bring the scene alive?  How about the murmur of happy chatter and the warmth emanating from the fire? With the addition of sound, smell, and touch, the reader is given a fuller experience—perhaps even initiating their own memories of holidays past. Without this, the scene may seem hollow—and that’s never good when you’re trying to entice the reader into your character’s world.
How about if we switch the scenario to a busy city street?  Other than the sights around, there might be a pungent smell of a passing garbage truck, the loud honking of nearby taxis, or the firm brush of hurried passersby. Another example could be a busy coffee shop. Look around next time you’re in one—think about what’s happening. Would you miss the buzzing of friendly chatter? The grinding sounds of a coffee maker preparing to serve fresh brew? And the delicious smell of fresh brew. All these things can help the readers set their imagination in motion. This is particularly important at the beginning when you want to hook the reader.
            So as you unpack your ornaments and prepare your festive dinner, let it be a reminder to be aware of all the wonderful sensations the holiday season has to offer and to enjoy each one.
            I wish everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving weekend. May you have the chance to see your loved ones and curl up in front of the fire with a good mystery—I know that’s what I’ll be doing…

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 25, 2019

The Bill Crider Prize for Short Fiction

by Paula Gail Benson

Portions of this post appeared in the November 19, 2019, post for Writers Who Kill. However, this great news deserves to be shared more than once!

I was delighted to be asked by Carol Puckett and Kendel Lynn to be the contest coordinator for the Bill Crider Prize for Short Fiction, debuting this year at the Dallas Bouchercon. The contest honored the memory of revered Texas writer and reviewer Bill Crider. Open to any writer in the world, stories had to be between 3,500 and 5,000 words and deal with the theme “Deep in the Heart.”

Jim Jackson, who was experienced working on anthologies, agreed to be the submissions coordinator, without knowing what that task might entail. Sixty-three stories were blindly submitted. Thirty-seven advanced to the second round and eleven were selected as finalists for the following prizes:

·         First Place:      $1000
·         Second Place:  $750
·         Third Place:     $500
·         Bill Crider Memorial Scholarship:      Registration to Bouchercon 2020

We were so fortunate to have excellent short story writers and editors to agree to judge the preliminary rounds. They were: Carla Coupe, Kaye George, Barb Goffman, Debra H. Goldstein, Tara Laskowski, Robert Mangeot, Karen McCullough, Warren Moore, Terrie Moran, and Beth Terrell. I cannot thank these folks enough for taking on the difficult task of determining which stories would go forward.

Janet Hutchings, editor of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and Linda Landrigan, editor of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, graciously agreed to serve as judges for the final round.

The eleven finalists were:

“Long Overdue” by Jaap Boekestein
“Trust Me” by Douglas Dorow
“Mi Corazón, Sin Cartero, Sin Timbre de las Puerta (My Heart, Sans Postman, Sans Doorbell)” by Dixon Hill
“Resuscitation” by Ann Kellett
“Cahoots” by C.C. Guthrie
“The Texas Justice Project” by James L’Etoile
“Lambs and Wolves” by Robert Lopresti
“Death and Texas” by Lissa Marie Redmond
“Dead Armadillos Don’t Dance” by Kari Wainwright
“The Last Man in Lafarge” by Joseph S. Walker
“Armadillo by Morning” by Stacy Woodson

And, the top four prizes were awarded to:

·         First Place:      Joseph S. Walker
·         Second Place:  Jaap Boekestein
·         Third Place:     Douglas Dorow
·         Bill Crider Memorial Scholarship:      Dixon Hill

We were delighted to have three of the four prize winners (Joseph S. Walker, Douglas Dorow, and Dixon Hill) at the ceremony hosted by Hank Phillippi Ryan. In addition, a number of the participants and judges attended and we took a “class” photo.

Although publication was not part of the prize for this contest, I firmly believe you’ll be seeing these stories and their authors’ names in print. So, be watching for them.

Following Bouchercon, Joseph S. Walker attended New England Crime Bake, where he was honored with the Al Blanchard award. Way to go, Joe!

Many thanks to all who participated as entrants, judges, and planners of this contest. I hope it might be a tradition that continues to other Bouchercons.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Happiness…The Pursuit

Happiness…The Pursuit

By Cathy Perkins

With so much meanness floating around the US right now, I found myself falling into a funk. Rather than wallow in disgust with our elected leaders—and unfortunately, I have to use that term in spite of too many lacking leadership—I decided to focus on the good things in life. At the top of that list of good things is happiness.

When you think about happiness, it’s something we all want.

Defining happiness, however, is a bit tougher.

Google says happiness is “the state of being happy.”

Gee, that was helpful.

Beyond that, the definition seems to divide into two broad categories:

  • the immediate emotion: joy and pleasure
  • life satisfaction: an overall appreciation of one’s life as a whole

While I’m all for events or activities that bring joy and pleasure, I found I was drawn to that more subjective well-being. I find joy and pleasure in my family and my community as much as I do my personal pursuits of writing, art, and travel. What makes me happy doesn’t necessarily make another person happy. And given that I’ve been staring at a blank screen for two days, trying to figure out the one scene (that I skipped) needed to finish the first draft of my latest novel, writing is not making me happy right now.

Longer term, though, I believe happiness revolves around your purpose in life, the successes you’ve had, the satisfaction of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. I’m happy right now because I’m grateful for the life I have now. This isn’t because of something I’m doing at the moment, but rather because I work hard and have achieved things I’m proud of.

So, what about you? Do you feel life is good, meaningful and worthwhile?

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 sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Claymore Award (at least after she finishes that last scene in Calling.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Oscar Buzz--for Brad Pitt's Latest Film

by Kay Kendall

Hollywood film director Quentin Tarantino is known for his over-the-top movies, especially in the violence department. Although I’m a fan of his talent, I don’t enjoy his excessive use of violence so I skip some of his pictures. But the latest one—ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD—I did rush to see this year.
Sure, it offers Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in lead roles—plus it's set in La La Land.

Those are draws, but it's the time period that really hooks me. The film opens in August 1969. Brad and Leonardo play great buddies. We see them on film sets and at their respective pads.  Real life actress Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie) is a next door neighbor of Leonardo. Eventually Brad runs across the Manson family of murderers. Violence does ensue, naturally, but there's a neat twist at the end that makes the viciousness more satisfying than usual.
Now, it so happens I have more than a passing familiarity with that time frame. My second book in the Austin Starr mystery series also takes place then.  RAINY DAY WOMEN opens during the week of the Manson murders and Woodstock, and the era is seething with menace.
Some friends called me up to say, “Hey, didn’t you use that stuff as a backdrop?”
Yes indeed, I did.
In my book, intrepid amateur sleuth Austin Starr, with her infant in tow, flies across the continent to support a friend suspected of murdering women's liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. Then her former CIA trainer warns that an old enemy has contracted a hit on her. Her anxious husband demands that she give up her quest and fly back to him. How much should Austin risk when tracking the killer puts her and her baby's life in danger?
While I don’t offer a gory ending to my tale—with body parts flying through the air, a la Tarantino—I do promise you a  most satisfying story that earns 4.5 stars on Amazon. Why not take a look?
PS. I’ve got to add that Brat Pitt is past due for his own Oscar for Best Actor. If I were a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Brat would get my vote.
Author Kay Kendall is passionate about historical mysteries. 

She lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Her second book Rainy Day Women won the Silver Falchion for best mystery at Killer Nashville. Visit Kay at her website  
or on Facebook

Monday, November 18, 2019

My First Bouchercon Panel

by Paula Gail Benson

Carol Puckett with her husband Jim
While there are many special things I'll remember about this year's 50th anniversary Bouchercon, celebrated in Dallas, Texas, one in particular will be that this year marked my first to moderate and serve on a panel at the world mystery conference. I'd already felt privileged to get to know and work with the organizers on the Bill Crider Prize for Short Fiction (more on that in my post tomorrow on Writers Who Kill). Thank you to Carol Puckett, local committee organizer, for not only collecting historical memorabilia from the past 50 Bouchercons as well as honoring Bill Crider, a beloved Texas writer and reviewer, but also for recognizing the interest in different lengths of mystery stories, novellas, and novels. Carol told me that some people asked about the number of panels devoted to short mystery fiction, but that she and the organizers had heard attendees ask about different story formats and responded to it.

I moderated a panel called "Does Length Matter?" While the subject may sound titillating (I warned audience members if they came to hear a discussion about measuring body parts, they might be disappointed to learn we would be talking about word count), it's actually one about which I often hear writers speculate. For example, some of the questions we considered were: (1) have readers' attention spans narrowed? (2) is it better to write two short novels in a year rather than one lengthy one? (3) can writing short stories between novels keep a reader interested in a series or characters? and (4) how do you know if an idea is better suited for a novel or short story?

Sandy Steen, Mary Stojak, Becki Willis, Bess Carnan, Mad Hildebrandt, Angela Zeman, me, and Rhonda Gilliland
(Photo by Rhonda's husband Fr. Basil Gilliland)
We had a terrific group of panelists, some novelists, some short story authors, and some who had written both. Now that I've met them in person, I know I have many titles to add to my reading list (and I would encourage you all to check out their work).

Our two Texans were Sandy Steen and Becki Willis, both novelists. They each have written in several genres. Becki has independently published several series.

Mad Hildebrandt has written cozy mysteries, humorous romantic suspense, and dark gritty mysteries. She told us that she often writes a novel straight through in seventy-two hours, a rigorous stretch to produce the draft, but one that she found to work best for her. Angela Zeman also has written in diverse genres and has one character, Mrs. Risk, who started out in short stories before appearing in a novel. Mary Stojak has a solid reputation for writing short stories and is working on a novel.

Bess Carnan, this year's winner of the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program for Unpublished Writers, said that her first drafts are short, then she lengthens them through rewrites. Rhonda Gilliland, who I'd served with on a panel before at Killer Nashville, has written stories as well as served as an editor for a successful series of mystery culinary anthologies.

Many thanks to Carol Puckett and the 2019 Bouchercon organizers for the opportunity to talk about story formats and to get to know these fine writers better.

(Photo by Rhonda's husband Fr. Basil Gilliland)
Do you prefer short stories or novels? 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Meet The Queen of Christmas

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a secret project – a Christmas short story called "The Queen of Christmas."

I’m a huge fan of short stories at this busy time of the year. What better to read when there are so many demands on our time but also an increased need to recharge our batteries by taking a few moments to enjoy some fun holiday reading? 

Several readers have asked me to do a holiday story with the characters from my Lobster Shack mystery series. I started wondering -- what do Allie, Aunt Gully, Verity, and all the other characters from the Lazy Mermaid lobster shack do at Christmas?

A visit to a holiday show house tour last December sparked ideas. A Christmas crazy friend of my mom has collected ornaments and decorations for decades. Over time, her single decorated tree became two trees, then three, and after several years this lady had a decorated tree for every room in her house and crowds clamoring to visit. Her Fantasy of Trees was born.

What if I moved this festival of trees to Mystic Bay? What if a desperate criminal was determined to cause holiday mischief instead of holiday merriment?

Writing a short story comes with challenges. The story has to be tighter. Every word has to work harder. Which characters will be in the story? How to keep the story to a length that is perfect to enjoy during the holiday crush?

I hope you’ll check out my new mystery short story, "The Queen of Christmas." I hope it will provide you with a fun escape from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The story also includes a recipe for hot toddy, because what’s nicer than curling up with a good story and a warm drink on a frosty winter night?

The story is available exclusively on Amazon for Kindle. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Review for Bethany Maine's The Second Shot by Juliana Aragon Fatula

Dear Reader,

Bethany sent me an advanced copy of her new book, The Second Shot, that released October 24th. The moment it arrived, I dove in and began reading. I had no idea what to expect. I was hooked from the first chapter.

October 14, 2019

Review for Bethany Maines, The Second Shot five stars out of five.

Bethany Maines has written many mysteries. This was my introduction to her work. Now that I’ve read The Second Shot, I’m excited to read more of her mysteries. I have her book, Bulletproof Mascara on my kindle. It’s next on my reading list.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but Bethany Maines isn’t afraid to get dirty. She writes some amazing, sexy love scenes. I loved the lust and romance. It was lusty but had love at the heart of it. It’s a love story between Max, the U.S. Marshal, and Dominque, the femme du monde. They reminded me of the characters in the tv series, Moonlighting, of the late 80’s where Bruce Willis and Cybil Shephard are opposites who fight and argue but are drawn to one another by sexual attraction. Max and Dominique are enemies who end up as lovers. The result is a delicious, sexy, battle of wits and very entertaining.

Bethany’s characters, all of them, are smart and funny. The sarcasm in the Deveraux clan dynamics brings a reality to the family dysfunction. And the subtle politics of the story remind the reader of actual events of today’s leaders.

The story opens with a memory of the main characters’ first meeting and the book ends with their happily ever after. A love story that made me happy.

“Maxwell Ames looked across the room at Dominique Deveraux and felt himself physically flinch at a memory-driven whip of embarrassment.” Excerpt From: Bethany Maines. The Second Shot.

“Dominique had to physically restrain herself from blurting out that she loved him and his beautiful, thoughtful brain. They were two whole weeks into dating. The L word was the kind of thing that sent people running. And seriously, she shouldn’t be saying that. It was only two weeks! Even if she kind of, seriously, thought that she meant it.” Excerpt From: Bethany Maines. “The Second Shot.”

I enjoy love stories, but this is a mystery and the suspense and thrilling who dunnit scenes had me up all night reading until I finished the book. It was a full moon. I have difficulty sleeping during full moons. I usually sit up writing all night. It’s something uncontrollable and brought on by astronomical laws of magnetism, or lunar tides, or whatever. But I didn’t want to write. I wanted to read.

I enjoyed the sex scenes more than I expected (blush) but the fact that these two main characters were falling in love had a huge part of my interest in their coitus. That and the fact that interruptions kept them from fulfilling their desires. It was suspense in the bedroom and in the sinister scenes of being ambushed, shot at, tackled, wrestled, beaten, and ran over by vehicles.

The ending left me wanting to find out more about what happens next to these characters. Bethany carefully teases with just enough information to drive her readers to the next chapter and the sequel.

Bethany Maines, new favorite author of mine, and someone I highly recommend to anyone interested in reading a smart, sexy, witty book on mystery, romance, and stilettos.

Some of Bethany Maine’s novels.

Carrie Mae Mysteries

Bulletproof Mascara from (#1)

Compact with the Devil (#2)

Supporting the Girls: A Carrie Mae Mini-Mystery

Power of Attorney: A Carrie Mae Mini-Mystery

High-Caliber Concealer (#3)

Glossed Cause (#4)

San Juan Islands Murder Mysteries

An Unseen Current

Against the Undertow

An Unfamiliar Sea

Shark Santoyo Crime Series

Shark’s Instinct

Shark’s Bite

Shark’s Hunt

Stand Alone Novels

Wild Waters

Tales from the City of Destiny