Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Toilet Paper Origami and Absolutely No Wastepaper Baskets Allowed!

My Curated Bookcases
By Lois Winston 

Last month I blogged about how my husband and I were getting ready to move from New Jersey to Nashville to be closer to family. We’ve since taken another step toward that goal—our home for the last twenty-three years is now on the market.


In the course of my married life I’ve lived in four different houses. However, the last time we moved HGTV wasn’t part of the American consciousness. No flippers, renovators, or stagers brainwashed the public about the necessity of open-concept, tray ceilings, and hardscaped yards with outdoor kitchens. Hardwood floors aren’t enough. They have to be wide-planked hardwood. And of course, the cardinal sin these days is the dreaded popcorn ceiling. Buyers have been conditioned to take one look and immediately do an about-face, as if a popcorn ceiling is in the same category as termites and radon.


We’ve always lived in older homes. We love the charm of Victorian and Craftsman architecture. The oldest house we’ve lived in was built in 1891, the youngest in 1939. Our current house is a 1935 Craftsman Bungalow. It isn’t open-concept with twelve-foot ceilings. It doesn’t have a Carrera marble waterfall island in the kitchen.


There are forty-four photos online along with floor plans and room sizes. Any interested buyer has the ability to see the house from top to bottom and inside out from the comfort of their own home before deciding whether they want to see it in person. No one looking for a new home with an open concept plan, spa bathrooms, and huge walk-in closets would even consider an in person trip to our house. Or so you would think. Yet by some of the feedback we’ve received, that’s exactly what is happening. I would imagine the realtors are not happy with having their time wasted in this manner.


Nor am I happy, because each time a tour is scheduled, I have to race through my house, hiding wastepaper baskets, toiletries, bathroom floormats, and dishtowels. I have to make sure there are full rolls of toilet paper in each bathroom dispenser and that the top sheet is folded into a point a la upscale hotels. Nothing can be left on kitchen and bathroom countertops. No shampoo bottles and soap in the showers.


All of this and more was on orders of the house stager hired by the realtor. She walked through our home before it went on the market and handed us a homework list. Then she returned to make sure we had complied. Now, I’m all in favor of making my house as presentable as possible to secure a sale. A cluttered house doesn’t show well, but I don’t like clutter. So my house was not in need of lots of work prior to going on the market. 


Not according to the stager, though. She insisted I buy lemons to float in a clear pitcher of water to be put on the picnic table on the deck. She insisted the flowers I had planned to place on the dining room and kitchen tables were only white and in clear vases. She even insisted I curate my bookcases, getting rid of ninety percent of my books. I’m an author. I have a lot of bookcases throughout my house, and they hold a lot of books, most of which are now squirreled away in cartons hidden in the back of closets—along with the wastepaper baskets. (It’s spring allergy season. Do you know what a pain it is to dig through the back of a closet for a wastepaper basket every time you need to discard a tissue?)


I’m wondering if buyers are that gullible. Will they not make an offer on a house because there are too many books in the bookcases? Or because I forgot to fold the toilet paper into a point for one showing? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I now have all sorts of plots rolling around in my head for future mysteries. Want to guess the identity of the victim in many of those plots? So maybe all that work is worth it, whether it increases the price someone is willing to pay for our house or not. At least I now have ideas for future books.


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.




Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog





Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Virtues of Virtual Events

 By Lynn McPherson

Online events are everywhere these days. Many authors, including myself, have participated in them with great success. While we grow weary of staying home and social distancing, the online community has provided an escape from isolation and kept people connected. I wanted to highlight a few reasons to get involved, if you haven't already, and remind those who have, why they should keep attending.

1. There are events from every side of publishing. This includes authors, literary agents, publishers, writing associations--and this is just the beginning. I'll be participating in an online conference in May that I'm excited about. It's the Ontario Association of Library Technicians conference. They are doing an author spotlight and I will be joining some fabulous authors, including Diane Bator, Peter Kingsmill, Winona Kent, and the ever-popular Janet Bolin/Ginger Bolton, to talk about the art of the cozy mystery. Libraries are such a fabulous partner for authors, I'm delighted to be a part of the Library and Information Technicians (LIT) event. 

2. Virtual events have paved a way behind the scenes that has allowed greater understanding and access to authors. In particular, I've noticed more events involving literary agents who are trying to shed more light on the business of writing--an important aspect for every writer who wants to get published.

3. Events have become more accessible, no matter where you live. Interested in Thrillerfest? Malice Domestic? These events, and so many more, are remaining virtual in 2021, giving all of us the opportunity to join from the comforts of our homes. Why not take advantage of the one you've always dreamed of attending? The costs are a fraction of what they normally are and they're still boasting a killer line-up.

Are you looking forward to any virtual events in 2021? Let's hear about it!

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, April 26, 2021

Anticipation by Dru Ann Love

The definition of anticipation is an emotion involving pleasure or anxiety in considering or awaiting an expected event.

So, what am I anticipating? How about books?

Friday, April 23, 2021

What an Old Horse Can Teach—by 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.



This winter during the Covid pandemic, I did a crazy thing.  I got two rescue horses. I was only looking for one mare to keep our lonesome gelding company. Still can't believe I bought a horse from a photograph on Facebook! But a local rescue organization directed me to look there, and I saw a beautiful bay thoroughbred named Foxy who had raced for a couple of years and then was sold at auction. A place in Louisiana had bought her at the auction. Their aim was to sell her again, but such places, though they claim to be rescuing horses, are often not really focused on that. The real rescue organizations call them"kill pens." As the term implies, if they can't resell a horse, they send it to Mexico for dog food. It’s illegal to buy or sell a horse for food in the U. S., but not in Mexico. And there is a steady stream of unwanted horses from the U.S. for that purpose.

Foxy traveled from Louisiana to Alabama with several other horses who had been purchased the same way. One of her fellow travelers from the kill pen was an older black Standardbred mare named Nickie Jones. Originally raced at a track (pulling a two-wheeled one-seater called a “sulky”)  and then sold to the Amish who had her pull a carriage or wagon. The Amish had sold her to the same Louisiana kill pen. Had someone not bought her in the same way I had, Nickie’s next stop also would have been Mexico.


She turned out to be lame and had a terrible scar on her left back leg (something not disclosed when her would-be rescuer bought her. Nickie Jones was no longer wanted by the person who had purchased her. The rescue organization couldn't keep her, because there were stallions on their property, and mares cause a lot of stir. (No comments from the peanut gallery, please.)

So, to make a long story short, I took in Nickie Jones too. Both horses were not in great shape, but Nickie was really undernourished. 

Nickie Jones Arrival Feb 2, 2021

Whatever she had gotten into (barbed wire?) to leave an awful scar, seemed to be causing her pain, but when my vet examined her, he said t was her other leg, the hock (back “elbow”) that was swollen and the reason she was lame. I gave her Bute, which is horse aspirin, as a powder mixed in her feed for about ten days, and she was fine. Putting some weight on her took longer. A special senior feed and lots of hay. She gobbles it down and is the first one to the three piles of hay we lay out for them. The bony top of her hip is starting to round. 

Nickie Jones April, 2021

Horses are social creatures, and they adhere to a hierarchy each group works out. Nickie Jones is at the bottom of line. Big boss man in this herd-of-three is Apollo, our paint (brown and white) quarter horse. He is ordinarily congenial, but food aggressive. When food is present, he turns into a bully. We quickly learned we needed to put him in the round pen to eat until the other two are finished or he will run them off from their buckets and help himself to their grain.

The routine is to give all three grain in their individual buckets. While they eat, we put out the hay in three piles in a rough line against the barn wall. Usually Nickie Jones finishes first and heads for the hay. Then Foxy joins her. Then we let Apollo out of the pen. When released, he exits the pen with his ears flattened back, charging the girls. They scatter. So, he gets first choice of the three piles of hay to munch. Sometimes he will choose the hay on the far end, sometimes the other end. He never chooses the center. Foxy uses her position as horse #2 to claim the end farthest away from Apollo, putting Nickie Jones between her and the grumbly gelding.

Smart girl.

Nickie Jones has disadvantages. We don’t know if she was born into them or if personality, age, or injury created them. There is not much she can do about that. But even though she has the least social status and control, knowing she will end up in the middle of the hay line, she uses the moments when she is first to the hay—before Foxy finishes her grain and Apollo is released—to snatch at a pile, and she never eats from the middle pile, which is where she will end up. 

Foxy is the second to finish her grain and go to the hay. If Foxy runs Nickie Jones off from an end pile, Nickie goes to the other end, getting a few snatches of that pile of hay before Apollo comes out and everyone reshuffles and ends up in their final hay-eating positions. Nickie Jones always has an untouched pile of hay in the center to munch.

There’s smart and there’s smart.

Left to right: Foxy, Nickie Jones, Apollo

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, April 22, 2021

The Reason I Judge Writing Contests by Juliana Aragon Fatula


Dear Reader,

I have been asked to judge writing contests and I always accept and this year I'm reading three books and judging the three finalists for the chance to be the winner for this year's award in... I can't tell you the name of the contest or the genre or the names of the finalists but soon after the ceremony I will announce the winner in my blog. It's a secret until then. 

my chicana garden poppies 2020

The reason I accept the task of reading books and judging for awards is simple. It makes me a better writer. I read the finalists' books and determine what made them so good. I learn how to write award winning books. 

Mind you, I don't write to win awards, or fame, or money. They are nice perks but the reason I write is I'd go crazy if I didn't tell my stories. I love to perform on stage and I love telling stories to an audience, but I love reading stories even more. I get lost in a good book and all my troubles fall away. 

my chicana aspen grove fall 2016ish

I was reading a book and it was so juicy and tantalizing and my husband asked me a question and I closed the book, gave him the look, and opened the book and continued reading. Don't disturb me when I'm reading. If I want to have a conversation with you, I'll close my book and listen to what you have to say, if its important I'll put my book away, but if you interrupt me for a question like have you seen my car key, glasses, wallet, hammer... Watchale. 

my living room before the remodel of 2021 new kitchen new paint

So I'm reading this book and it's so good I make a sandwich and continue reading. I read all day and into the night and the next day and the next night it's midnight and I have to finish the book or I won't be able to sleep. So I read the book in two days and I'm ready to take on the world. I've got the story in my head and I'm evaluating why I couldn't put it down and stop reading. I read for enjoyment but sometimes I read to learn. When I read for enjoyment, it takes me away from reality and into the story and I escape into the words on the page and my imagination. It keeps me sane.

my bridging borders students in a group hug my favorite photo 2019

I'm not being paid to write reviews or judge writing contests. Maybe someday I will get paid, but that's not why I do it. I enjoy it and it makes me grow as a writer. I learn from other writers how to be a better writer. I've been told by my mentors why bother to write if it's not going to be a great book. Don't write a good book. Write a great book. And that is what I strive to do. To write a great story and leave my mark in literary history as a writer who gave my best. 

Santa Cruz, Cali authors Aimee Medina Carr and Juliana Aragon Fatula

So if you see me in a bookstore, library, book bar and I'm reading, give me a nod and keep moving. I'm not really there. It's an illusion. I'm lost in my book and don't want to be anywhere else. If I judge a book you've written and you win the contest, just know that I chose your book because you are the best and your story is not good, it's great. 

my favorite photo by investigative journalist/photographer, Tracy Harmon
location Red Canyon in Southern Colorado 

coleus and roses from mi chicana garden 2020

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Priceless: The Author-Reader Bond by Barbara Kyle



Priceless: The Author-Reader Bond 

by Barbara Kyle 


Most of us vividly recall a book that touched our lives, whether as young adults or at a crucial moment later in life. The moment makes us feel a special kinship with the author. It's a meeting of minds, even of souls. It's a bond, and a potent one. (Painting above by Daniel F. Gerhartz.)

Any author will tell you it's a happy day when a reader gets in touch to say how much the author's book has meant to them. Sometimes the message is moving, like the museum curator in Yarmouth, England who wrote to tell me that The Queen's Lady helped him as he mourned the death of his father. 



Sometimes the message brings a laugh, like the lady who cheerfully told me she got The Queen's Captive from the library because she remembered having loved a similar book – and then realized, as she was enjoying The Queen's Captive, that this was the very book she had read and loved!



Here are three readers whose messages about my historical thrillers were very special.


The Colonel

Years ago I was in England researching The Queen’s Lady and spent a day exploring Hever Castle in Kent. This was the home of the Boleyn family, and Henry VIII came here to court Anne. That tempestuous affair changed the course of England’s history. 


As I strolled the grounds in a happy haze of imagination, I picked up an acorn. What a lovely feeling to hold in my hand something living from the so-called "dead" past. I squirreled the acorn away in my pocket and brought it home to Canada, and it sat on my desk beside my computer, a sweet reminder of its place of birth as I wrote The Queen’s Lady. The acorn was still on my desk when I wrote The King’s Daughter. It had become a touchstone that spirited me back to the Tudor world. I was very fond of it.

Then my husband and I moved, and in the shuffle the little acorn got lost.

A few months later I got a cheery email from a reader telling me he was on his way to England for an Anne Boleyn Tour during which he would be visiting Hever Castle. There would be dinners in the Great Hall where Henry and Anne ate, plus lectures, plays, and demonstrations – “A once in a lifetime experience,” he said. I replied to wish him a happy trip and told him about my acorn. He is a retired air force colonel and lives in Tennessee.

Four weeks later a small package arrived in my mailbox. It was from the Colonel. Inside was a note: “I looked for an acorn to replace the one you lost but couldn’t find one. I did get you this.” Nestled under the note was a pine cone. He had scoured the Hever grounds for it. “It’s from the area where Henry courted Anne, according to the castle staff,” wrote the Colonel. 

I was so touched. In the following years the pine cone had pride of place on my desk beside my computer as I wrote six more books in the “Thornleigh Saga" series. Thank you, Colonel, for what you gave me. A once in a lifetime experience.


The Embroiderer


A music educator in Ontario emailed me with praise about my books and told me she was part of a sewing club of about three dozen ladies who get together at a shop with the delightful name The Enchanted Needle. She said they were working on Tudor period sewing techniques, and she attached images of historic Tudor-era embroidery. Now, I know little about sewing, but I know beauty when I see it, and these works were stunning.


As she waxed lyrical about bygone sewing techniques like "stumpwork" and "Assisi," "blackwork" and "bargello," "cross-stitching" and "the morphing power of color," I could only, in ignorance, try to keep up, but when she said my books inspired her in this Tudor-era needlework I was moved again by how glorious and various are the connections between author and reader.

The Boy

That's what I'll call him, the gangly kid who showed up at a public reading I did from The Queen's Gamble and listened so intensely. He looked about fourteen, the only person there who was so young. After the reading I saw him at the edge of the knot of people I was chatting with. The others all asked lively questions, but he said nothing. He looked like he wanted to, but he never took a step nearer. When I finished talking to the people, I noticed the boy was gone.

About a week later I found a package in my mailbox: a slender book and a note. The writer of the note said he'd been at the reading, and was a high school student who loved history, and he hoped to one day be a history teacher. My novels were his favorites, he said. The book he'd enclosed was The Bloody Tower by Valerie Wilding, a young adult novel in the form of a Tudor girl's diary. It had meant a lot to him, he said, so he wanted to share it with me. 



There, now I've shared it with you. That's what the writer-reader bond is. We share what moves us. And that connection is what makes the writer's work a joy.





Barbara Kyle is the author of the bestselling Thornleigh Saga series of historical thrillers (“Riveting Tudor drama” – USA Today) and of acclaimed contemporary thrillers. 


Over half a million copies of her books have been sold. 



Her latest book is The Man from Spirit Creek, a novel of suspense. 



Barbara has taught hundreds of writers in her online classes and many have become award-winning authors.  Page-Turner, her popular how-to book for writers, is available in print, e-book, and audiobook. Visit Barbara at  



Tuesday, April 20, 2021


Book Clubs with Food, or Food Clubs with Books

by Saralyn Richard

Last week I was the honored guest (by Zoom) at a book club meeting where my first Detective Parrott Mystery novel was being discussed. MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT begins with a birthday party at a weekend retreat in the beautiful and lush Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania. A highlight of the weekend (aside from a murder) is the Saturday night dinner party—an elegant nine-course menu with wine pairings for every course.

                This feast, I’m positive, is fit for royalty, or at least the Granthams in Downton Abbey, and certainly America’s one percent. To give you a peek, here are a few of the menu items:  rack of lamb, bouillabaisse, halibut cheeks, and chocolate torte with ganache.

                I offer subscribers to my newsletter these and other menu items with photos and recipes in a booklet entitled, Epicurean Feasts. Luckily, one of the foodies in the aforementioned book club subscribed, fell in love with the menu, and asked me if I would “attend” their book club meeting. Of course, I said yes, and I looked forward to sharing the evening with this spirited group.

                What I didn’t realize at the time was how much these readers would immerse themselves in the book. The night of the meeting, I arrived through the link, and what I found was astounding. Everyone was dressed up as a particular character in the novel, which had been assigned to them in Secret Santa fashion. There were props throughout the house that matched items in the book. The replication of the meal from the party was particularly elegant, and I got to enjoy it sans calories!

                The discussion of the book was no less exciting. These readers had gobbled up the story with the same gusto as they’d gobbled the food. They were full of detailed insights and questions and comments that delighted me no end.

                This was not the first time a book club had replicated the MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT menu or dressed up as the characters, but each time this happens, I marvel at how delightful it is to witness one’s story in real life. In educational terms, what the readers had done was synthesize the story, using one of the highest levels of thinking.

                I consider this the highest level of compliment for an author, and absolutely the most fun! As always, connecting with readers is the best part about being a writer.

                If you’d like to subscribe to my monthly newsletter, check out my website, , click on subscribe, and I’ll send you a copy of Epicurean Feasts. The newsletter is full of fun opportunities and special offers, and the menu is simply to die for!


Award-winning author, Saralyn Richard was born with a pen in her hand and ink in her veins. A former educator, she loves connecting with readers. Her humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children's book pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools.

Visit Saralyn at, on her Amazon page at, or on Facebook at

Monday, April 19, 2021

Ted Lasso’s Message

by Paula Gail Benson


I don’t remember what finally enticed me to watch the first season of Ted Lasso (a sitcom created for Apple TV+). The premise of an American college football coach with no soccer experience hired to manage a premiere professional British football (aka soccer) team seemed intriguing. Hearing about Jason Sudeikis’ Golden Globe winning performance in the title role piqued my curiosity. Maybe the deciding factor came from reading about how good natured, optimistic, and hopeful the program was. I had been looking for a “feel good” series to binge, and Ted Lasso, with 10 half hour episodes, seemed worthy.


What I discovered in watching it, much like the character of reporter Trent Crim who shadows Ted for a day learns, is that there is more to Ted than a joke. Ted may not know the sport, but he is a very capable coach, not only for the team, but for everyone he encounters.


The twist upon which the show develops is that Ted has been hired to fail. The new owner, Rebecca Welton, acquired the team in her divorce settlement. She knows it’s the only thing her ex-husband really cares about and she systematically plans to destroy it. She doesn’t care who she has to hurt in the process, as long as she can cause her ex pain.


Does Ted know or suspect he’s a pawn in a bigger scheme? That’s a good question, particularly after watching the episodes several times. There’s a lot of subtext and characters are not what they initially seem. Or, maybe they grow, under Ted’s good-natured influence.


Because Ted really is Pollyanna. He finds something meaningful and worthwhile in every situation he encounters, even those most devastating for himself. He’s both wide-eyed and wise at the same time.


He has a quiet exuberance that’s contagious. He wins people over even when they are determined to dismiss him. That’s difficult to achieve and to make convincing for jaded readers. Part of how it’s accomplished is that Ted doesn’t have a completely charmed life. He comes to Britain to give himself and his family a new start, but it doesn’t work out as he hopes it might. He has to deal with personal disappointment while trying to accomplish the impossible (reinvigorating the team) and having his boss actively plotting against him.


As a writer, what I found most delightful about Ted Lasso is that almost every character, no matter how briefly introduced, has a story arc. Each person grows, learns, changes, becomes more or less assertive, and happily reaches his or her place in the overall structure. Even those walk-ons have their moments. Just like what Ted tries to provide for his players.


One other interesting aspect is how much a “family” operation Ted Lasso seems to be. Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt, who plays the assistant coach, helped develop the show. Brett Goldstein, who takes on the role of grumpy, aging team captain Roy Kent, is the chief writer and Phoebe Walsh, who appears as the assistant coach’s love interest, is also on the writing staff. Character names are drawn from show insiders (Roy’s niece is Phoebe and Keeley Jones, a character portrayed by Juno Temple, has the first name of Keeley Hazell, who has the minor part of Bex and dates Sudeikis). Higgins, the beleaguered and unwilling henchman for the new owner, is transformed by music. The actor playing the part, Jeremy Swift, is also a musician and composer. 


Best of all, being good and kind wins out, not in a cloying or sentimental way, but even when the opposite path would be perfectly plausible. Respect for others, despite their differences, becomes the theme. Seeing that it can be accomplished without losing self-confidence or dignity makes for a truly winning first season. I anxiously anticipate seasons two and three!

Friday, April 16, 2021


By Shari Randall 


When she beta-read my last book, a friend told me that I seemed more interested in describing houses and settings than I was in describing people. At first I was taken aback, but after reflection, I saw her point.


I adore all those tv shows about houses – buying houses, selling houses, decorating houses, rehabbing houses, even haunted houses. With my husband’s military career, we’ve bought and sold plenty of houses. I love a good house tour or decorator showcase. Even dollhouses fascinate me. When I was a little girl, my favorite toy was my Barbie Dream House. Although my kids flew the nest years ago, I still have custody of their dollhouses and, sorry kids, I don’t think you’re getting them back.


Why do houses intrigue me so? Perhaps a psychologist could explain. Maybe the dollhouse my dad built for me and my sisters, a replica of our own red Cape Cod home, set me on this path.


Perhaps homes reflect the people in them and the writer in me has stumbled upon a different form of characterization? What can I say, houses inspire me.


With COVID, I haven’t been able to travel to scout potential story locations and buildings as much as I’d like. Lucky for me that my corner of Connecticut is full of intriguing places, places that fire my imagination and will make great settings for my books.


One of my characters likes to “collect castles” and so do I. Gillette’s Castle, set on a hill called the Seventh Sister overlooking the Connecticut River, is one of my favorite places to visit. Designed by William Gillette, an actor famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, the castle’s décor, construction, and grounds reflect the eccentric brilliance of its owner. This place inspired another pocket-sized castle in the second, as-yet-untitled book in my Ice Cream Shop Mystery series.


Here’s a charmer that is slated to be the childhood home of the main character in Ice Cream Shop Mystery #1, The Rocky Road to Ruin


This mini-castle is tucked into a neighborhood a block from the ocean. Not your typical beach house, is it? I can only imagine the character who built this place. I feel a story coming on!


Writers: People or places – which do you find easier to describe? Readers: Are you as crazy about real estate as I am?

Shari Randall is the author of the Lobster Shack Mystery series from St. Martin's Press. The first in series, CURSES, BOILED AGAIN, won an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The first in her new Ice Cream Shop Mystery series (written as Meri Allen), THE ROCKY ROAD TO RUIN, will be published on July 27, 2021.







Thursday, April 15, 2021

Do Contests Matter?

Should the winner medal from the Killer Nashville Claymore Award contest go on the cover of The Body in the Beaver Pond? That was one of the many questions my cover artist and I discussed as I prepared for the release of the novel. 

Cathy Perkins wins Killer Nashville award

As Dar and I chatted, I wondered, do writing contest even matter?

Authors know how competitive the contests are, but do readers care? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Of course, there are the other reasons authors (or their publicists) enter. Little secret – we’re incredibly insecure! Think about it. We’re putting ourselves “out there” for the world to critique. We’re sharing pieces of the deepest parts of us. And we worry all the time that maybe our books are actually terrible and any previous “success” was a fluke. Maybe a contest offers a tiny bit of affirmation, that says, Yeah. This is good.

Then again, that may be more than most readers need or want to know.

While I’ve had a great time writing this novel and look forward to the release, I decided to add a layer to my usual low key launch plans. I decided to make the release about all of you.

Nearly everyone knows friends or family who’ve lost loved ones, jobs, nearly lost their home, and faced a host of other challenges this year.

The Body in the Beaver Pond touches on many of these challenges, offering a tangible (if somewhat snarky) perspective from Keri, as she struggles to adjust after loosing her marriage, home and job. (And for an extra writing challenge – the book is funny!)

Now that I have a funny main character I hope people relate to, I need a place to make all this happen. (Imaginary) Liberty Falls is drawn from a number of small towns in Washington state’s Cascade Mountains. Lingering economic inequities, the pandemic, life throwing curve balls – all this hurt many people, especially in these smaller, rural areas where social services are few and far between. As a result, I’m donating the royalties from presales (and the first few months of sales) from The Body in the Beaver Pond to HopeSource, a multi-purpose agency, which serves Kittitas County (the first county you discover when you venture over Snoqualmie Pass from Seattle.)

I’d appreciate your help in getting the word out about both the book and the donation. 

Get your presale copy and help me help our friends and neighbors -


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 Peril in the Pony Ring, the sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, releasing May 2021!) which was recently presented with the Killer Nashville's Claymore Award.