Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Release Day!

by Bethany Maines

My latest book baby has been released into the wild. The Cinderella Secret, book 2 of The Deveraux Legacy series, is a romantic suspense with plenty of action, feminist flare and a hero and heroine who had to learn to literally take their masks off to find true love. And my darling book baby is already racking up some stellar reviews!

5.0 out of 5 stars Aiden and Ella kick ass together!

Fast paced, super enjoyable romantic thriller. I love these characters!

5.0 out of 5 stars I NEED the next book

I fell in love with these characters while reading the first book. Now I get to come back and fall in love with them all over again. One of the things I liked best about this book was that we got to peel back even more layers of the masks these Deveraux youngsters shield themselves with.

5.0 out of 5 stars  Don't miss a word!

I am so enjoying this series as the author’s style of writing makes you not want to miss even one word. The humorous and sarcastic interaction between this blended family highlights their closeness.

The Cinderella Secret is book 2 of the Deveraux Legacy series and I have loved every second with my characters.  I'm so excited to see that readers are too! This romantic thriller balances humor, mystery and romance into one action-packed package. 

Want to read now? Buy it here>>

Want to learn more about the series?  Read more here>>


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, October 27, 2020

The Art of Procrastination

By Lynn McPherson 

There is a time in every author's life that they are not in the mood for writing. For some, it comes in at predictable points--when they are struggling with a scene or a chapter. For others, it comes in waves, like during the onset of the Covid pandemic or during a summer heatwave. So what should an author do when the words just aren't coming? Most importantly, don't panic. The tendency to stew in a bubble of guilt and shame may be hard to avoid but beating yourself up will do you no good. Instead, why not try one of these three tips? You may have heard them before but some things deserve repeating...

1. Read!
Does this seem obvious? Maybe, but it's still worth noting. With so many great book in existence, and more out every day, reading is always a good option.

2. Meditate?
Everyone is saying so, and it's true. Nothing clears the mind better. There's no need for a four-hour session. Why not sit quietly for ten minutes and see how it goes? The only goal is to clear your mind of thoughts and distractions. Ready to give it a try? I dare you.

3. Go Outside.
Mother nature provides us with a great way to get rid of stress. Fresh air and exercise does the body--and mind--good. Even if it's not a balmy eighty degrees, it's still worthwhile. As a wise friend reminded me last winter, it's not too cold outside if you're in the right gear. That goes for rain, wind, sun, or snow. Toss out the excuses and go for a stroll.

 There are loads of options for taking a break. What is your favorite way to decompress?

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, October 26, 2020

It's That Time Again by Dru Ann Love

where I have to come up with a post about whatever. And like always, I have nothing. So I'll ramble along until my word count reach 150.

How is everyone doing during this pandemic crisis? Me, I'm so-so. 

When you choose to live alone, it is nothing. You go about your business and life goes on. When you're in a pandemic crisis and live alone, you really are alone. Because I'm immune-challenged, no one could come visit and I was restricted to my home. Once things started settling down, I took that first trip to my doctors. Uber is my friend. I wear a mask, not for you, but for me. I limit going outdoors, not for you, but for me. If I go out, I go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and of course the doctor's office. I always get the first appointment - less people to encounter. I hit the grocery and pharmacy when they first open, again less people to encounter.

My reading has somewhat suffered. Sometimes it takes me longer to read a book for review, but if I'm reading a book to be read, I can read it in 2 days. When I'm not reading, I'm watching movies or a recorded TV show.

Books I've read/am reading:

What I last watched:

I'm also quilting more. It is keeping me busy, figuring out color patterns and designs. I'm always amazed at the finished product.

I miss seeing my friends. I miss attending reader/fan conventions. I miss my girl's weekend vacation trip.

What I don't miss is having to climb subway stairs.

How are you handling things?

Friday, October 23, 2020

Defunding the Police - T.K. Thorne


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.


One of the confusing calls today is the one to “Defund the Police.” My thoughts on the subject are seasoned with a career in law enforcement, a master’s in social work, some research, and a couple of decades of contemplation.

Actually defund the police

Some who call to defund police, mean it. They want to restructure society without police. I sincerely hope we figure out how to do this, but at this point in our development as human beings, abolishing police is not a workable idea, particularly in the U.S. Consider recent events in Chicago (where in two weekends, 34 people were killed and 186 were shot); consider also Seattle’s failed no-police protest zone experiment; and the violence in our own communities.

Abolishing police would stop police abuse issues, but it would create a vacuum that could be filled with violence. Even a country with minimal crime like Norway has a police department.

Replace the department

For others, defunding the police means they want to dismantle the particular law enforcement system in place as completely dysfunctional and reassign it. A most unlikely place did that. Camden, NJ, in 2010 had the highest crime rate in the country. They faced a $14 million budget deficit and had to lay off half their police force. What happened? Arrests in 2011 dropped by half, burglaries increased 65%, and the murder rate skyrocketed. So that is one lesson about defunding police.

Here’s the other side of what happened. In desperation, Camden dismantled their (union represented) police department and merged with the county, putting more officers on the street for less money. The change also gave them an opportunity to instill new cultural values in the department, significantly reducing excessive use of force complaints, and crime rates dropped 42% compared to a drop of 4.9% in U.S. (in the same time period.)

Redefine the job and reallocate resources

But for the most part, the meaning of “defund the police” means a city reviewing what it wants and expects from its police, what it values and believes is effective in terms of where it puts resources.

I say this is long called for—both for government and for police agencies themselves. I’m not saying the Birmingham Police Department, in particular, needs an overhaul.  First, I’ve been too long removed to comment on that, and second, it was an honor to have served there with many extraordinary men and women doing a difficult and demanding job, some of whom gave their lives.

But there are systemic issues with the culture of law enforcement. Even as a rookie, I was confused by the militaristic model of training we received (picture red-faced sergeants yelling at recruits, making them drop for push-ups, etc.) A military model works for . . .  um, the military, which actually has an “enemy” and relies on instant, unquestioned obedience. That kind of role model is reinforced by peer pressure and instills in police recruits an expectation and demand for obedience and a respectful attitude from the public, which adds to the (human) difficulty of maintain stoic responses in the face of the opposite behavior. It is also not conducive to the type of independent and sometimes creative decision-making required of police officers on the street.

Officers are trapped in a system that measures and rewards them for writing tickets and making arrests. Think about that. Number one: Neither interactions are helpful to developing relationships. Number two: Officers tally up their tickets and arrests for evaluations and promotional decisions. So, in reality, officers chase an unknown number—a type of reward system that creates anxiety and competition, ill feelings in the public, and overfills our jails and prisons. Obviously, that is also driven by what society defines as criminal.

Add to that the systemic dysfunctions that create a breeding ground for crime, like a dearth of available, affordable drug rehab, mental health support, housing, and predatory lending, limited services for the homeless, food deserts, lack of arts and enrichment in schools, mentoring and tutoring needs, high speed internet, transportation, job training and placements—only to name some of the challenges facing a large portion of the population, mostly the people who both need and fear the police the most.

Then blame the police for not being able to solve the problems that arise from society’s dysfunctions. Throw in the perception and sometimes reality of police abuse, and it’s a no brainer to realize that much of the public has no trust for police or that police feel they are made “the enemy” and tasked to do an impossible job.

I want to be clear that police need to protect themselves and others. In 2/3 of the nation’s police departments the number of deadly-weapons attacks on officers averaged 27 per day. Officers need to be constantly aware and alert but call on those responses only as a last resort. This is a daunting requirement.

The links to crime

Studies show it is not the number of police or the number of arrests that affect crime. An avalanche of research in criminology is linking declining legitimacy with increases in crime. When Camden lost half its police force, it may not have been the lack of arrests per se that drove crime, but the perception that there weren’t enough police. People virtually stopped calling the police for misdemeanor infractions.

Predatory violence can increase because offenders believe victims and witnesses will not report incidents to the police—the primary reason that many homicides go unsolved and perhaps a reason behind the explosion of shootings in cities like Chicago during a pandemic. They don’t believe the police can or will be able to stop it.

Trust is key

Let’s talk about lack of trust. How do you trust someone you only have negative interactions with? How do you address the fear of police? For me personally, the reality of that hit home with two events—the killing of George Floyd and the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. As a Jewish person, I appreciated the outpouring of sympathy and outrage at the massacre, but it did not make me feel safe. And I can understand that no amount of white participation in protesting and support makes black people feel safe.

The number of police shootings of unarmed Black shooting victims is down 63% from 2015. That does not make black people feel safe anymore than Chicago residents feel safe knowing that the weekend shooting sprees were anomalies in pandemic crime trends. Trust is going to take a long time to build and is going to be about people interacting with people in the community.  It must be, as it always has been, about relationships.

And how do police build relationships if they don’t have the time to do anything but answer calls or if they are busy making traffic stops and arrests to go on their monthly reports? I’m not saying those things should not be in law enforcement’s toolkit, but the majority of responses society needs from police officers are better addressed by a mindset and training as problem solvers with crisis intervention and de-escalation skills. Try to fit that into a military training model.

That said, even the military has recognized that many of today’s soldiers need multiple skill sets and the trust of the community in dealing with warfare in areas where the enemy is indistinguishable from innocent civilians. That takes a maturity, training, and value set reinforced by standards, expectations, and peers. The latter is the hardest to tackle but not impossible.

Police need to be screened, trained, evaluated, and importantly—paid as professionals doing an extremely difficult job. Yes, Camden put more officers on the street by paying them less, but their turnover is very high. That means they are investing in people who don’t stay. It helps payroll, but in the long run it will cost the city. Paying police more by itself doesn’t solve the issues, either, but without that, you are looking at reduced applicant pools, both in quality and quantity or, as in Camden, police who stay long enough to get trained and then leave for other jobs or other careers. That is actually an ongoing problem plaguing departments throughout the country, including Birmingham.

Change is needed, both for police and society. But just taking money from the police department is not going to accomplish anything of value. A safest metros’ report found that the most dangerous cities dedicate about 50% fewer dollars to police and public safety, and their community services allocations are 3 times smaller than in the safest metros.

In particular, taking street officers away from areas of high crime would be counterproductive and abandoning those who need them the most (see Camden, NJ). The city needs to invest in solving its problems, and that is going to take funds and dedication to do something hard. In a time when revenue is decreasing, that also means how to do more and be effective with less.

How to reduce costs

Although more officers overall doesn’t seem to affect crime, deploying more officers on the street in high crime areas has shown to be effective, and not result in more arrests, just less crime, especially if they have the time and motivation to get out of their cars and talk to and interact with the community. That means reducing costs and redeploying sworn officers.

Utilizing trained civilians could reduce the need for sworn officers in many positions. Working the front desks at precincts, as assistants in detective offices to deal with paperwork, contacting victims, etc. (possibly freeing some detectives to return to street duty). Why do we need armed officers to respond to accident scenes to take reports for insurance companies? Trained citizens could do that or even respond to theft/burglary or other after-the-fact calls where the major requirement is filling out a report.

Birmingham was an early leader (1970’s) in hiring social workers to follow up or to respond with officers to calls of domestic violence, mental health, child abuse, etc. But there are only 5 positions to cover the city 24/7. That program should be expanded, along with the resources they and police officers need to support their efforts to address community problems.

Technology can be employed.  Why do police have to stop vehicles to give tickets?  Yes, sometimes drugs or weapons are found that way, but is it worth it in terms of the negative association of citizens with police and the opportunity for harm to both inherent in even routine traffic stops?  We are quite capable of having cameras and computers monitor traffic violations and issue appropriate tickets.

Perhaps it is time to reexamine the possibility of sharing costly facilities like jails, dispatching, training, and vehicle pools and to evaluate law enforcement hiring and training—a topic unto itself. Monies saved can go toward addressing the communities’ needs.

But it shouldn’t stop at police departments. A reevaluation of where monies are going throughout city government is called for, to weigh the value of administrative costs and to shift people and resources where they are needed—more police on the streets, more investments in schools and youth, drug rehab, job training, and mental health services to start. With access to these resources, police can actually be problem-solvers, have alternative strategies to arrest, and can build trust in the communities they serve, and that will make their jobs easier and more rewarding and our communities safer.

Change is hard. It is much easier to keep the status quo. The pandemic has created a tough financial time for cities in addition to the pressure of calls for reform. We need to do more than just survive it. We need to use the opportunity to take a hard look at what we do, who we are, and who we want to be.

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


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Bethany Maines' The Cinderella Secret a book review by Juliana Aragon Fatula

Aiden Deveraux is a hot-shot lawyer with a secret identity—the mask wearing street-fighter named Number Nine. But when his family’s company is threatened, Aiden faces his toughest opponent yet, the brilliant and gorgeous Ella Zhao. Ella is in New York to bring down the people to blame for her father’s death—the Deveraux family—and she’s not about to let some Prince Charming lawyer like Aiden stop her. But as Aiden and Ella scramble to uncover the past that no one, including their own families, wants revealed, they find themselves running from a murderer who knows the Deveraux and Zhao all too well. With their hearts, lives, and millions of dollars on the line, Aiden and Ella may have to trust each other with their secrets if they want to make it out of this fight alive.

 Dear Reader, 

I'd love to introduce you to a new novel by Bethany Maines. The Cinderella Secret is my new favorite romance mystery. I love the characters and the author has a great sense of humor that makes me laugh out loud. 

The first book in this series The Second Shot hooked me and I waited patiently for this sequel to be written. The release date was October 19th, 2020 and I downloaded to Kindle and began reading. I read through breakfast, lunch, supper and until I could no longer keep my eyes open. I finished the book today and can't wait to read the next one. 

What can I say, I'm a romantic fool and I love Bethany's writing style. The action scenes are wild and full of kicking, punching, and smashing. The love scenes are wild with sex, sex, and more sex. The comedy keeps it light hearted and fun. 

I recommend this author to my friends and especially this book, The Cinderella Secret. It's my new favorite and Bethany gets five stars for writing a book that I couldn't wait to get my hands on and five stars for not disappointing in the sequel to the Second Shot. 

I'm hooked and I want to share these romance novels with you. Take my word for it you will fall in love with these characters and their crazy lifestyle of sex, money, and mayhem. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Write What You Know

by Saralyn Richard

Back in the day, there were certain rules a writer had to observe. Show, don’t tell. Always use complete sentences. Write what you know.

The logic behind these rules was impeccable, and, all innovation to the contrary, most writers still observe them today, at least most of the time.

When my Detective Parrott Mystery series, including MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, and A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, was published, readers assumed I was a part of the country’s top one percent. Otherwise, how did I know so many of the details surrounding how the rich and powerful dressed, ate, drank, and partied?

Truthfully, I did attend an elegant party in Brandywine Valley, and that inspired the party in MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, but all of the details about the one percent came from research. (Sorry to disappoint, but, no, I do not have fifty pairs of Christian Louboutin heels in my closet.)

How did I portray all of the books’ characters and home interiors so authentically? I observed, I asked questions, and I shopped online at all of the most exclusive stores (without spending a dime).

I’ve been asked many times how I was able to depict Detective Oliver Parrott so genuinely, since I am neither young, male, nor African-American. That must have been a real departure from writing what you know, right? Wrong.

As an urban high school educator, I’ve known hundreds, maybe thousands, of young African-American males, many of them as intelligent, ambitious, hard-working, and down-to-earth as Detective Parrott. I’ve known their struggles, their families, and their dreams. I’ve celebrated their joys and grieved their sorrows. I’ve listened to them speak and watched them perform.

Detective Parrott is an amalgamation of many fine young men who have taken their places in society and who strive to make a difference with their lives. He is definitely an example of writing what I know.

Similarly, I drew from my experiences as a teacher, administrator, and school improvement consultant in urban high schools to write the upcoming release, A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL. Although the story is fictional, it pulls back the curtain on the joys and challenges within a large school community, and the issues of gangs, grievances, sexual harassment, and race are ever-so relevant today.

Whether I’m writing about billionaire playboys or disadvantaged football players, whether I researched or remembered, I’m writing what I know. And I hope my characters will resonate with you, too.

What books have you read that transported you out of your own experience?


Award-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard has drawn from her experiences as an urban high school educator to write A Murder of Principal. Her previous books, Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, and A Palette for Love and Murder, have delighted children and adults, alike. An active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Reviews, media, and tour schedule may be found at

A maverick principal comes to Lincoln High School with a student-centered agenda. Trouble ensues, and killing the principal is just the beginning. A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL is available for pre-order at



Monday, October 19, 2020

Luci H. Zahray, The Poison Lady

by Paula Gail Benson

On Saturday, the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime was delighted to welcome as its guest Luci H. Zahray, well known to Malice Domestic attendees as “the Poison Lady.” Luci, who has a Masters degree in Toxicology from Texas A&M, first came to Malice as a fan, but when she heard writers asking how they might dispatch victims with poisons, she offered answers and quickly became the source to be consulted. She has some interesting tales about traveling with her poison “toy box” through airport security.

This year, Luci has been able to spread her excellent information through virtual meetings. During her time with Palmetto Chapter, she focused on household toxins such as methanol, tobacco, hand sanitizer, and anti-freeze. The amazing part of her information was how little of a substance was needed to produce blindness, illness, or death. She calculated based on how the substance would affect a 170 pound man and referred to the amount as LD 50 (lethal dose 50%).

Here’s a link to where she visited The Stiletto Gang on September 11, 2009. Gloria Alden’s summary of a Malice Domestic meeting (found in Writers Who Kill) indicated that Luci’s topic that year had been lead. For another Writers Who Kill post, Edith Maxwell mentions hearing Luci talk about using liquid nicotine, rosary peas, Tylenol, and alcohol as poisons.

If you have an interest in poisons, you won't want to miss one of Luci's presentations.


Friday, October 16, 2020

Where to Live? A Guest Post by Lena Gregory



I’ve lived most of my life in a small town on the south shore of Eastern Long Island, along with four generations of my family. My grandfather owned a deli in town, where I started working stocking shelves and sweeping floors when I was twelve years old. When I was a little older, I started working the breakfast shift, the inspiration for the All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery series.

I’ve always loved the small-town feel, the way everyone knows everyone, especially the families who have lived here for generation after generation as mine has. When I married a man from the neighboring town, it seemed natural to settle down where we’d grown up and start our family.

Then my husband got a job offer in Florida, and he accepted. We moved down right after my daughter finished kindergarten. I had only ever been to Florida once, when my daughter was three and we spent three days in Disney World, so I had no clue what to expect. 

Just like Gia Morelli in Scone Cold Killer, I was in for a few surprises.

I was used to deer crossing signs, since Long Island is home to a large deer population, but the first time I drove my daughter to school and saw a bear crossing sign, I actually turned around and went back to see it again. I thought I was mistaken, but nope, it was a bear crossing sign. Until that moment, I had no clue there were bears in Florida. 

Then there were the love bugs, and they were everywhere. And lizards, which I’d never even seen in real life before I moved, and snakes, sometimes venomous ones. 

In the All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery series, Gia suffers more than one run-in with Florida wildlife. As the series progresses, she gets more used to some of the creatures native to her new home, but others continue to terrify her. 

Aside from the critters, Florida’s weather brought a few surprises for me as well. On the rare occasions Long Island gets tornadoes, they are small F-1s that do very little damage. One night, about six months after we moved to Florida, I had just gotten into bed and turned on the TV, and the weather report came on. A line of damaging storms was coming through. The reporter said if you live on my road, “take cover now,” and I freaked out, to put it mildly, woke my daughter and stuffed her and my dog into the tub, even tried to wrestle a mattress into the tiny bathroom. (That was so not happening.) 

When a line of damaging storms tears through Boggy Creek, Gia is forced to deal with yet another new downfall. Fortunately, she learns a few lessons about living in a small town and how the people pull together in times of need.

Gia moves from Manhattan to a rural area just south of Florida’s Ocala National Forest. The enormity of the forest frightens her at first, especially when she thinks about everything that’s probably living in there, and she has a terrible time trying to fall sleep in all the quiet. Eventually, she comes up with an inventive way that reminds her of home to help her sleep. 

Like Gia, whenever I got homesick, I spent a lot of time checking off the positives and negatives of living in Florida and New York. 

Because there were also amazing things about living in Florida. The natural springs, with their crystal-clear water, gorgeous blue skies—even in the winter when the skies in New York are permanently gray. And who could complain when everyone in New York was shoveling out from under a foot of snow, and I was lying by the pool?

In the end, my decision was made for me when my husband and I both got job opportunities in New York. We ended up moving back to New York and visiting Florida every year because we missed it so much. Until last year, when I retired from my day job and we returned to Florida, this time to a bit more rural area, and I absolutely love everything about it. 

Gia is still weighing her options and missing fall in New York. But when Savannah talks her into participating in the local Haunted Town Festival in A Waffle Lot of Murder, she can’t help but realize Boggy Creek is going to be her permanent home, and she wouldn’t change it for the world. 

What about you? Have you ever had a hard time deciding where you wanted to live? 





Wednesday, October 14, 2020

New Things

 by Bethany Maines

I once had a cousin/uncle/grandparent-ish person (he was my second cousin once-removed if you want to get technical here, but the point is that he was in his eighties and I was around ten, you get the idea) who once posed the question that I probably wasn't supposed to hear - what's the difference between naked and nekkid?  Naked is simply having no clothes on.  Nekkid is naked, but with intent.  In other words, the difference is subtle and mostly to do with what you intend to do about it.  Which is how I feel about old and vintage.  

My general preference, when given a choice, is for old things.  Which is to say I like old books, old furniture, old clothes and my grumpy old dog.  Although, usually I say vintage, which is the same as old, but with character.  I don't want new things (unless they're electronics and sometimes not even then).  I want the things I've become accustomed to and work for me.  Which is why sometimes, even when something gets actually too old to use, I still hang on to it.  Recently, my favorite skull-n-crossbones mug developed an unfortunate hairline crack that resulted in it weeping tea over everything.  It was unusable but I hung on to it for two weeks.  What was I planning on doing with this mug?  It wasn't fixable.  It wasn't art.  Did I think it would magically heal itself?  It wasn't until I had resigned myself to it's passing that I was able to let it depart into the recycling bin.

I don't think my preference for the old and familiar is particularly unusual.  I think most of us are little grumpy about being forced into new things.  We're uncomfortable with being uncomfortable.  On the other hand, studies seem to indicate that actively being in a place of uncertainty and learning keeps Alzheimer's at bay.  Being used to a little discomfort makes us appreciate what we have and have grace for those who also in discomfort. And I think that if a few more people were used to being told no and being a little more uncomfortable then they wouldn't lose their cool and have public temper-tantrums in the middle of Target (why is it always Target?).  Perhaps we need new things periodically just to remind us that sometimes we don't always get to keep our favorite mug.  And sometimes we need a new mug to tell us that everything will be OK.  As long as it looks vintage.

And Now.... Book News!

The Cinderella Secret is coming 10.19.20 and there are gifts, prizes, and sneak peeks for you to delve into! The Cinderella Secret is a romantic thriller that continues the Deveraux family saga, this time with Aiden Deveraux, the handsome lawyer going up against Ella Zhao who blames the Deveraux family for her father’s death. With family secrets and thrills at every turn, The Cinderella Secret delivers a one-two punch of passion and action that will keep readers turning the pages.

Pre-Order The Cinderella Secret on all ebook platforms:

Bonus Gift  (but just for my friends)

The Lost Heir, a Deveraux Legacy prequel novella, will be released in December, but members of the Blue Zephyr Press / Bethany Maines newsletter will receive it on October 19 with the release of The Cinderella Secret! 
Join here:


Want a chance to win a free copy of The Cinderella Secret? One lucky winner will also get a copy of Book 1 - The Second Shot.  Giveaway ends 10.17, so snag your entry now!
Enter at:

Try Before You Buy

Read Chapter 1 of The Cinderella Secret! 
Read here:


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, Facebook, Instagram, and BookBub.

👈 The new mug

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Gay Yellen: The Fortuneteller's Prophesy

Ever had and unexplainable, eerily paranormal experience? In honor of Halloween and El Dia de Los Muertos, I offer my spooky, true story.

It began in the other-worldly parlor of a New Orleans psychic, the summer after college. I was making a movie there. As we finished the day's shoot, the cinematographer invited me and another friend to join him and his wife, Donna, for an unusual get-together.

His mother-in-law had recently died. Deeply grieved, Donna had found a spiritual psychic who promised to put her in contact with her Mom beyond the grave. My friend and I were to provide emotional support during the session.

That evening, we parked in front of an old brick two-story in a poorly lit neighborhood near the French Quarter. We rang the bell. Madame, the psychic, opened the door. Round and elderly, with unnaturally black curls framing her pudgy, wrinkled face and a huge antique cameo at her bosom, she wobbled ahead, leading us into a stuffy parlor.

Blood red walls flickered with candlelight from dozens of votives scattered around the room. An altar-sized crucifix of Jesus, eyes rolled back in ecstasy, hung above the mantel. Statuettes of saints populated almost every flat surface.

The cinematographer and his wife sat on a fraying black satin sofa, holding hands. Heavy burgundy curtains blocked the windows behind them. Madame pointed us to two side chairs and settled herself into a gold brocade wing-back.

She asked Donna if she'd made contact with her mother since their last session. Donna shook her head, teary-eyed. Madame said not to worry, because she had indeed reached Mom, and all was well. Donna simply needed more practice.

Madame instructed us to shut our eyes and concentrate on Donna's goal. I tried my best to conjure her mother, sitting beside her, whispering in her ear. But after a minute or so, Madame stopped the exercise. Mom hadn't shown. We all had failed.

Then Madame turned to me. "I am seeing a very strong image over you. Might we pursue it?" Since the woman knew nothing about me, it felt safe to play along. I nodded.

"Are you a writer?" she asked. Was this about Donna, or me? I hesitated. Barely twenty-one, I was focused on an acting career. 
The actress, that summer.

The only things I'd written back then were class assignments, my honors thesis, and a little poetry. I shook my head.

"Hmm," she muttered. "The image is remarkably clear. Someone is writing, always writing—a story perhaps, or a book. Are you sure you don't relate to that?"

I shrugged.

Madame shut her eyes. "The image is too strong. Perhaps someone close to you is a writer?"

"No one."

Madame seemed baffled. She went quiet for a moment. "I also see a dog, a little white dog, running up to you. A beloved pet. The image is very clear."
The white pup.
Totally wrong. I'd never had a white dog. Besides, if I ever got one, white would be my last choice. I shook my head again.

Madame was a fake, for sure. I never gave the incident a second thought. Until...

A decade later, I was playing with the puppy that had unexpectedly entered my life. Out of the blue—as my very white, very beloved pooch ran toward me to return the ball I'd tossed in our regular game of fetch—Madame's vision popped into my brain, like a crazy mind-meld across the years. Goosebumps. Was this the little dog she'd "seen" years before?

Spookier yet, we fast-forward to today. I don't know if Donna ever made contact with her mother, but as I write this post, and I work to complete my third book, I can't escape the memory of that strange night at Madame's. Because now, I am writing, always writing.

Madame was right. I am a writer.

Have you experienced a spooky event like this?

Gay Yellen is a former magazine editor and the award-winning author of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business and The Body Next Door (Amazon.) Book #3 in the series is slated for 2021. She'd love to hear from you, here, on Facebook or her website.

Monday, October 12, 2020

A Perfect Afternoon

 I'm writing this blog from my front porch from my front porch. Around me the maples are turning. The oaks remain resolutely green, which means I'll still be raking in December.

October is my favorite month. In Kansas City, it's a month filled with impossibly blue skies, mild afternoons, and crisp evenings. Today, a gentle breeze plays with fallen leaves.

I should be writing or editing or focused on the business of writing. But, it's Sunday and the day is beautiful. I ignore work, stretch on the chaise, and eye the book next to me (a travelogue about Greece because that's Poppy's next stop).

All too soon the weather will turn--cold winds, leaden skies--and I'll miss porch sitting, al fresco dinners, and sandals. As I put on a heavy sweater, I'll probably bemoan the words I could have written when I put aside 1975 and watched the season change.

Then again, to quote a favorite movie of my youth, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

That's right, I'm using Ferris Bueller to justify a lazy afternoon.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention I released a book a few weeks ago. Poppy's in Grand Cayman, and if you've been dreaming of a beach vacation, her latest adventure is just the ticket.

Also, Amazon made Stayin' Alive a monthly deal for October . You can grab a copy for your Kindle for only $1.99!

I hope your October exceeds your expectations!

Julie Mulhern is the USA Today bestselling author of The Country Club Murders and the Poppy Fields Adventures.

She is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean--and she's got an active imagination. Truth is--she's an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.

Friday, October 9, 2020

The Fork in the Road

The Fork in the Road by Lois Winston

In 2003 when my agent suggested I try my hand at writing a cozy crafting mystery (she knew an editor looking for one), little did I realize how that suggestion would change my life. At the time I was writing humorous contemporary romance and gritty romantic suspense. I don’t know if it was because I couldn’t make up my mind or if I possessed somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde personality, but I found myself straddling both light and dark worlds in my writing.

To be honest, I hadn’t read any light mystery since I’d consumed every Cherry Ames novel I could get my hands on back in elementary school. I didn’t even know there was such a sub-genre as crafting cozies until one day when I was killing time and decided to Google myself.

One of the hits that popped up brought me to A Murderous Yarn by Monica Ferris. In the book, a character walks into a needlework shop and asks the owner if she carries any designs by Lois Winston. In my non-writing life, I had spent decades designing needlework for needlecraft companies and publishers. I nearly fell out of my chair! Was this merely coincidence? I know of a few other Lois Winstons throughout the country, but it’s certainly not a common name. Lois Lane aside, Lois was never really all that popular, and Winston is more common as a given name than a surname.

I contacted Monica through her website to find out. No, it wasn’t coincidence. Monica was not only familiar with my designs but was a huge fan. She said she likes to mention her favorite designers in her books. Pretty cool, huh?

Of course, a few years later, having been asked to write a crafting cozy mystery, I needed to immerse myself in the genre and started with Monica’s books. I quickly learned that crafting cozies usually include at least one craft or some craft tips. This posed limitations on the types of crafts I could choose, due to e-book and printing constraints.

Once I had read dozens of crafting cozies, I felt comfortable enough to start writing my own. I created Anastasia Pollack, the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. With such a career, I wouldn’t be limited to featuring only one craft in each book should the series sell and continue for multiple books. I could also work around the physical limitations of print and e-books when it came to featuring designs.

I’m glad I made that decision because I’m now up to nine books in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. There are also three connecting novellas. In Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, I featured several different crafts to give readers an indication that the series would be a bit different from one-craft cozies. Subsequent books have featured mop dolls, yo-yo crafts, decoupage, knitting and crochet, scrapbooking, glass ball Christmas ornaments, and crafts made from recycled greeting cards. I chose sewing crafts for A Sew Deadly Cruise, the newest book in the series.

Most of the crafts in my series are designed for people with limited crafting experience. Anastasia and I want our readers to feel confident they don’t have to be Martha Stewart to create something they’ll be proud of.

Before I was offered a contract for the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, I sold two other books, a rom-com (from my light side) and a romantic suspense (from my dark side). With cozy mystery, I’ve been able to incorporate both sides of my writing personality into one genre and am now firmly planted in the world of the cozy mystery. I guess you could say I took neither the left nor the right fork, instead forging a new path in-between the two.

How do you feel when your favorite author is no longer writing the books you love to read? Do you give the new genre a chance, or do you move on to other authors?

A Sew Deadly Cruise

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 9

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

Craft projects included.

Buy Links




Apple iBooks:


USA Today 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.


Newsletter sign-up:

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: