Thursday, May 23, 2019

WIP Update #RomanticSuspense #Series


I’ve been a slug about reporting on the progress of my Work In Progress. I’m not stalled, but I haven’t made a giant leap in the last two months either. Life gets in the way. I am happy to report FDW is now fully capable with two hands. His only therapy is at home and he’s as good as new. Other stuff has gotten me sidetracked, but I won’t bore you.

Two months ago, when I last updated, I’d just started Chapter Twenty-One. Today, I’ll start Twenty-Three. Now, that sounds horrendous, but I’ve done a fair number of re-writes and edits in addition. Still…I’m going to have some marathon writing to do to get to “the end” by the close of August, which is my self-imposed deadline.


To refresh your memory, the setting for this new WIP is based on a real-life mining town turned ghost town turned tourist town. I've named the town Joshua. The working title is Magpie MacKenzie, a Joshua, Arizona Novel. It’s the first of a trilogy about the MacKenzie family. There is suspense, mystery, old murders, romance...plenty to keep you turning the pages.

Today, I’ll share a partial scene with you from Chapter One.

“I guess that means we’ll see you later, Magpie.” Zack followed his friends, but glanced over his shoulder with an unreadable expression before he disappeared out the door and into the chilly wind.
Slightly lightheaded, Magpie braced herself on the counter. “Honestly, Phaedra, I could—”
“Now, Mags, you haven’t been this tongue tied over a guy in years.” She scooped her purse from behind the counter where she’d set it when she came in. “I need to get going, and you need to enjoy the quivers that guy is obviously giving you. He’s probably only thirty or close to it, but what the hell, he’s hot. Every man should fill his jeans like that, not to mention his shoulders.” She stopped by the door. “You two were looking at each other like—”
“Like we know each other?”
“Know each other? I agree he bore a resemblance to Mark, but that’s all.”
“Is it? Sacrebleu, Phaedra. When I stared into that face, I saw Mark…a soul…from twenty-eight years ago.” The soul of someone she’d loved.
Who might have been a murderer…or murdered by my father.



Monday, May 20, 2019

#CozyMystery When the #Setting Counts by Sally Handley


MUSE MONDAY


Setting is so important when writing fiction. Without knowing what the story is about, wouldn't you have a different vision if I said the book takes place on the Sahara Desert as opposed to downtown Minneapolis? Please welcome my guest today, Sally Handley, and hear what she has to say about setting.

The last moderator of our local Mystery Book Club decided to choose books set in foreign countries.  We read: Daphne DuMaurier’s  classic suspense, Rebecca, set on the Cornish coast of England; Donna Leon’s Death at La Fenice, set in romantic Venice; and Cara Black’s irresistibly French Murder in the Marais set in Paris. The settings in this trio of books profoundly shapes the reading experience.

Recently I was invited to stay with friends in Tuscany, and as a result of my book club experience, I thought it would be a great idea to read books set in Italy while on the trip. Because I absolutely loved Death in La Fenice, I loaded Death in a Strange Country, the second book in the Guido Brunetti series.

My second selection was Aunti Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna, the second book in Mario Giordano’s Auntie Poldi series which is set in Sicily. I loved the first book, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, so much that I pre-ordered book two. It arrived on my Kindle a full month before I embarked on my Tuscan adventure, and I had to resist reading it until the flight. Am I glad I did!

Reading these books set in Italy totally enhanced the travel experience for me. I actually looked forward to getting into bed at night to read these stories after a day of touring the countryside. The descriptions of the Italian people, the food, and, of course, the wine made me smile as I recalled the people I’d met on our travels each day, the food we’d eaten, and, of course, the wine we drank.

As a cozy mystery writer, my settings are not quite as exotic as the books I’ve just described. Almost by definition, the cozy mystery needs to be set in a small town atmosphere where everybody knows everybody else. Still reading mysteries set in other countries has caused me to think more about setting as critical element of the stories I write.

The first two books in my Holly and Ivy mystery series mostly take place in the fictitious New Jersey town of Pineland Park. I confess, the neighborhood bears a remarkable resemblance to the New Jersey town I really lived in for twenty-five years. Funny thing, Holly’s Tudor house was also quite similar to mine.

In Full Bloom, book three of the series, my sister sleuths never set foot in Pineland Park. The story begins with their arrival in the fictitious town of Reddington Manor, nestled in the Catskill mountains.  They’ve come to visit Holly’s friend, Kate Farmer. And guess what? Kate’s home bears a distinct resemblance to my friend’s home in the Catskills. You have to admit that if “cozy setting” was listed in the dictionary, that picture would make an ideal illustration.

In a March 4th blog on setting, Author, Editor, and Writing Coach, Lori Freeland sums it up perfectly: “The way you stage the setting in your story deepens the experience for both the character and the reader. Whether you’re being blatant or subtle, dropping heavy detail or sprinkling light clues, how you present a place tells readers how to feel about it.”

Tuscany
I couldn’t agree more. So as I continue to write cozy mysteries, I will continue to set them in cozy settings. But you know, I was thinking there’s no reason why my characters can’t take a trip to an exotic locale. Besides, Holly’s love interest is named Nick Manelli. I mean a trip to Italy would almost be a necessity. And, really what’s not cozy about a villa in Tuscany?

Full Bloom Book Blurb

In the third book in the Holly and Ivy mystery series, the Donnelly sisters are looking forward to a relaxing stay in the Catskills after Holly’s break-up with Nick Manelli. Holly and Ivy have their plans thwarted when, once again, they become involved in a murder investigation. The day they arrive at Kate Farmer’s house in rustic Reddington Manor, they discover the body of Kate’s next-door neighbor, Chuck Dwyer, in a pool of blood on his kitchen floor.  In a rush to judgement, the local sheriff sets his sights on 17-year old Tommy Cranston, but Kate insists Tommy is innocent. Can the sister sleuths prove that a shifty neighbor, the victim’s widow and local drug dealers all have better motives for the murder? And can Ivy and Kate unravel another mystery — the cause of Holly and Nick’s break-up and the chances of their getting back together?

Excerpt
     The full moon lit the yard and Holly could see all the way back to the recently installed chicken coop. She descended the porch steps and waited, grateful no deer or other more worrisome critters were about. Lucky moved down the yard sniffing. The dog squatted and Holly smiled. “That was quick,” she said into the night air.
Lucky turned and headed back, but midway down the long expanse of yard she veered off around the back of the house. Holly rolled her eyes and sighed. She didn’t want to disturb the peace by yelling for the dog, so she decided to just wait for her to return.
After a few minutes Holly remembered the deep ravine that separated Kate’s house from the Leggett house.  She hoped Lucky hadn’t gone down there and decided she better go find here. No telling what she’d bring back from down there.
Moving the flashlight beam back and forth in a wide arc, Holly crossed the yard. She could feel the wetness of the grass penetrating her slippers.
Turning the corner of the house, she was relieved to see the dog by the side porch.
“Lucky, c’mon,” she said in a stage whisper.
The dog didn’t respond. Instead, she lowered herself onto her front paws. Her butt up in the air wiggled as she stuck her nose under the porch.
“Oh, no!” Holly ran over when she remembered Kate said a groundhog sometimes took up residence under there. “Lucky, no!” She reached for the dog’s collar, attached the leash and tugged. “Come out of there.”
On the last tug, Holly lost her grip and fell backwards landing flat on her back. “Great. Just great,” she said aloud as she struggled her way up to a sitting position, facing the Leggett house. That’s when she noticed a light in the window that faced her bedroom. Still holding onto the flashlight, she aimed the beam at the window. Holly gasped as a man’s ghoulish face appeared. He spotted her, then quickly disappeared. The light went out.
Holly scrambled to her feet, caught hold of Lucky’s leash and pulled.
“Let’s go!” she commanded and this time the dog followed. Together they ran around the back of the house. Her heart was racing as they bounded up the porch steps.
Inside, Holly slid the barrel bolt lock, turned the deadbolt and shut off the lights. Scurrying into the living room, she found the remote and shut off the television. She mounted the stairs as quickly as she could and went straight to her bedroom window, peering out across the ravine. She stood watching, trying to catch her breath. No lights. No movement. No sounds. Climbing into bed, she pulled the covers over her head.  What fresh hell is this?

Buy Links
AMAZON

Sally Handley, Writer, Gardener, Sister in Crime

President of the Upstate South Carolina Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Sally Handley is author of the  Holly and Ivy cozy mystery series. Sally’s sleuths are middle-aged, sisters who are reluctantly drawn into a murder investigation. Both find inner strength and renewed purpose, experiencing a renaissance at an age when many choose to accept the limitations of aging. A resident of Mauldin, SC, Sally devotes her time to writing cozy mysteries and gardening and also writes a blog “On Writing, Reading and Retirement” at www.sallyhandley.com.



Thursday, May 16, 2019

Tips and Myths #ThursdayThoughts #MythBusters


TIPS AND MYTHS

We’ve all been given great tips for everything from saving money to getting healthy. My mom has great ones, although some might border on old wives’ tales. Others, I’ve read in books or in those pop-up articles that catch your eye on social media and new sites. I’ll share some and bust some.

Mom says her dad claimed drinking a hot drink when you’re hot will cool you off. NOT
The only way I think this would work is if you stand in front of a fan with the added sweat you get from hot on the inside and outside.

I read that the shampoo and conditioner sold at the dollar store for a buck is just as good as the $10 bottle from the drugstore. NOT
Maybe it’s seconds, maybe it’s watered down, but for me it was just yuck.


Mom says hot water in the ice tray freezes faster than cold water. YES
I don’t know why, but it really seems to work.

Have a chest or head cold? Vicks on the chest while you sleep helps, but did you know if you rub it all over your feet and cover with socks for the night, it works even better? YES
I tried this when I had the flu, and I breathed easier and felt better.

Trying to make that cake healthier? You can substitute apple sauce for the cooking oil. YES
Really!

Watching calories? Snack on celery and carrot sticks to stave off hunger until the next meal. NOT
Sorry, but that just doesn’t do it for me. In a half hour, I’m hungry again. Including celery and carrot sticks with a meal helps on the caloric intake, but when I get hungry in between I have to have something that sticks. And it does no good to just stay hungry. I
devour too much when the meal comes. So…I’ll have a teaspoon of peanut butter and ¼ of a banana. Or four salt-free soda crackers with honey lightly drizzled over them. I’ll use carrots and celery for fillers at mealtime.

Do you have some old wives’ tales to bust or any helpful tips for whatever? Let me know and I’ll share next month.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Rebuilding LIfe After Lost Love by J.L. Regen #romance #LostLove

MUSE MONDAY

Please welcome my guest today, J.L. Regen. We're talking lost love and finding happiness today. Can you relate?

Loss can be wicked, sapping emotional strength, robbing sleep, and denying happiness. Someone who experiences lost love is left empty. Their life is shattered. With great effort, those emotional dragons can be slayed so a new life can spring from the splinters.

My book, Secret Desires, was written as a love story, but because both of the characters, Margo and Edward, suffered from broken promises in love (Margo) and Edward's wife died of cancer, it was the wicked devil of bad luck that drew them to each other.

Edward loved his first wife with all his heart. When she died of cancer at thirty, his world shattered.

Margo thought her high school love would last a lifetime. The flame died at graduation.

Now, Margo and Edward have to get beyond their emotional pain to unite in love.

Blurb:
Nothing in Margo Simmons’s life comes easy. She can’t claim the inheritance on a condo apartment her uncle has left to her until she is gainfully employed in a job for a year. She meets the man of her dreams but anguishes over a loving relationship because he is still emotionally tied to his deceased wife. With great difficulty, she becomes the guardian to a recently orphaned child she had been tutoring.   Margo evolves from an insecure, newbie elementary teacher into a woman determined to fulfill the secret desires locked in her heart. My story speaks to anyone who has suffered a loss and had to start over. AMAZON BUY LINK

Meet the author:
J.L. Regen’s book was inspired by a real-life story of lovers who join hearts against many odds. She lives in the New York metropolitan area, is a published photojournalist, has short suspense stories online, and has taught English as a Second Language to students around the globe. This is her first contemporary romance. She has also published three nonfiction books and is crafting a historical suspense set in World War II. 


Monday, May 13, 2019

Try On That Book Before You Buy #MondayMotivation #romance #AudioBook

MUSE MONDAY

What motivates you to buy an eBook or Print Book or Audio Book? How about a sample? As much as I worry about Amazon's reach, about putting the little guys out of business, and their power over the author's venue, I have to praise their virtual store access. Why? You can read a sample of a book or listen to a sample of an audio book before you lay out the moola...and in the comfort of your home at any time, day or night. That is a definite advantage.

Most authors have an Amazon page. Click on HERE to see mine. You'll find all of my books and a little about me. You can go to the individual book page to read a sample. OR...

You can read the entire first chapter on my Web Page. Click on HERE to go directly to the "Read the First Chapter" page.

The first three books of my Love and Murder Series is now available on audio. And the very first book I published, Sleeping with the Lights On is also available on audio. Click on the links below, "Listen to a Sample", to hear a sample of the audio books. Thanks for checking them out!

Listen to a Sample





Listen to a Sample




Listen to a Sample













Listen to a Sample



Monday, May 6, 2019

Muse #MondayMotivation #Giveaway #Giftcard

MUSE MONDAY

Giveaways are a lot of fun. I'm doing one right now that could introduce you to some awesome new authors. The method is through Rafflecopter. Each author has a task for you to complete. The more tasks you complete the more chances you have in the drawing. So click on the words below (WIN WITH RAFFLECOPTER) and open the gateway to winning Amazon gift cards for $50 or $15. Good luck!



Friday, May 3, 2019

#Fearless Friday's Only Child and #Adventurous by Dee S. Knight #romance


FEARLESS FRIDAY


Please join me in welcoming Dee S. Knight with some fearless fun. Remember that first fearless adventure you had? Dee shares hers with us. So read on and enjoy. You'll find out her heroine is fearless too.

When I was just shy of my 18th birthday, I hugged my mom and dad goodbye in Orlando, Florida and stepped onto the train that would take me to Fredericksburg, Virginia for my first day of college. I’d never been away from home before—except for hospitals where I’d had surgery due to polio. I’d never traveled alone before, never been on a train or in a taxi. I’d never visited or even seen the school I was going to attend or ever been in Fredericksburg. I didn’t know anyone else going to my school. I'd never been separated from the familiar.

Still, I was fearless.

I was bound for adventure and new sights, new friends, new freedoms. With the typical selfishness of youth, I didn’t give very much thought to the fact that my parents had just sent their only child thousands of miles away and how they might feel. I knew I would miss them and that they would miss me, but I was consumed with excitement and looking forward to discovering the unknown.

As an only child I wasn’t especially attuned to adventure. I’d led a very sheltered life. My dad was in the Navy. We had moved to Orlando the summer between my junior and senior year, so I didn’t feel a strong kinship with the city, my high school, or any friends I’d made in that one year. The separation from lifelong friends and a city I loved had taken place the previous summer, when we left Virginia Beach.

The train trip was interesting. I was able to sit back and watch the scenery change from Florida, to Georgia. Through the Carolinas, and then into Virginia. As soon as we crossed the Virginia line my heart lightened. Not only was I going to the school of my choice—Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia (now Mary Washington University—no longer an all-girls’ college and now separate from UVA)—but I was once again in the same state with my sweetheart, Jack. Going back to Virginia for school had nothing to do with the fact that Jack was also going to school there (in Lexington, hours from Fredericksburg, but in the same state, at least). Nothing. But it didn’t hurt. 😉

Fredericksburg, when I first saw it from the train station and then from a taxi, had that old-ish, brick, historic patina. I had no idea what to expect. The most I knew about the college or the town was what I had seen in the college catalogue. But it didn’t matter. I was fearless, remember? As it turned out, the campus was exactly as I’d imagined a college campus should look. My dorm was just what I would have wanted. I made friends right away (one of whom is still my best friend), and I was perfectly right to be fearless in my move into adulthood.

Going away from home wasn’t the only fearless thing I’ve done, just the first. I jumped into truck driving when I had no knowledge of or experience in the field. I left trucking for a new, unexplored field a few years later, and eventually dove into writing when I had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes being fearless is only a form of naiveté or stupidity. But for me, being fearless has led to a fun and exciting life.

In my book Only a Good Man Will Do, Daniel Goodman has always taken the safe route. He knew what he wanted, he plotted a path to get there, and he stuck to it. Eve Star on the other hand, took leaps of faith. She faced life fearlessly—and eventually won! But the trip wasn’t always easy.

Only a Good Man Will Do
Book 1 of the Good Man Series

Buy links:

Blurb:
Daniel Goodman is a man on a mission. He aims to become headmaster of Westover Academy. For that he needs a particular, special woman to help him set high standards. Into his cut and dried life of moral and upright behavior, comes Eve Star, formerly one of Europe's foremost exotic dancers. Her life is anything but cut and dried, black and white. Daniel is drawn to her like a kid to chocolate. Nothing good can come of this attraction. Or can it? He is after all, a good man.
Author info:

Bio:
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