New Bonus Book

A New Bonus Book — for Norma’s Chat Members

I love my newslet­ter mem­bers. We have some love­ly chats. Recent­ly, they helped me design the cov­er for my lat­est book, a free-be for them and any­one who wants to join my chat group.

You can see from the cov­er what is includ­ed. But I’ll give you a hint about what is inside.

The two new short sto­ries are rep­re­sent­ed by the stone and the donuts. The amaz­ing his­to­ry (the War of 1812 on Chesa­peake Bay) is hint­ed at by the sail­ing ship. The gold nugget and the black cat? Oh, they are impor­tant in a cou­ple of my pub­lished books. I’ve includ­ed a brief men­tion of each book. (Try­ing to lure you into buy­ing one, of course.) A taste of each, you might say.

Speak­ing of taste, that’s for the kitchen hacks. Not recipes, but tasty ideas for straw­ber­ries, slop­py Joe sand­wich­es, and a super sauce. Yum.

The com­plete book is avail­able in three dif­fer­ent forms through this Book Fun­nel link. You will be asked for your e‑mail address to be signed up for my usu­al­ly month­ly newslet­ter. I always include oth­er author’s books (and some­times one of mine) on sale or free (usu­al­ly cozy mys­ter­ies). I include any writ­ing news, and try to enter­tain. (Well, try, any­way.) No spam, and no e‑mail address­es shared. If you are already a mem­ber, use the same email address so you won’t get dupli­cate newslet­ters. Enjoy!

 

 

Jo Durbin Mystery Series

The Jo Durbin Mysteries

Links to all sites:

Hidden Body — Paperback and e‑book  (All e‑books free)

Paper­back   Kin­dle    Nook    Kobo    iTunes     Uni­ver­sal Link

Yesterday’s Body — Paperback and e‑book

Paper­back    Kin­dle    Nook    Kobo    iTunes    Uni­ver­sal Link    Wal­mart

Forgotten Body — Paperback and e‑book

Paper­back    Kin­dle    Nook    Kobo    iTunes    Uni­ver­sal Link    Wal­mart

A Jo Durbin Mystery Series — e‑book only

Kin­dle    Nook    Kobo    iTunes    Uni­ver­sal Link    Wal­mart

Dog Lover Mysteries

Mystery — Gone to the Dogs

What a love­ly group of book cov­ers! It is tru­ly amaz­ing what vari­ety authors come up with, all to enter­tain their read­ers. Not only did these books sat­is­fy my desire to fol­low a mys­tery to a sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion, they each had an unusu­al attrac­tion, AND taught me some­thing I did­n’t know. Now, that’s quite an accom­plish­ment when you think about it.

So, what did I par­tic­u­lar­ly like about To Kill A Labrador?  I loved the voice, which means, I loved the way the author put the words togeth­er. Her style made me turn the first page. (Okay, I read it on my Kin­dle, so I did­n’t actu­al­ly turn a page.) It kept me so involved in read­ing that I fin­ished it it two evenings. What did I learn? Answer — a whole lot about ser­vice dogs for vet­er­ans. And how did all that hap­pen? The main char­ac­ter (and ama­teur sleuth) trains ser­vice dogs. When she is called in to take care of Bud­dy (the dog), she dis­cov­ers his vet­er­an own­er is assumed guilty of mur­der until proven inno­cent — and she does some­thing about it.

Oh Bits, Grum­bles From The Grave was quite unusu­al. It is his­tor­i­cal fiction—heavy on the fic­tion, I’d say. Some­how, the sto­ry gal­loped along with sud­den addi­tions of oth­er ele­ments. The read­er does­n’t know what the title refers to until at least half way through. But I do like books that sur­prise me. Let’s see, there were view­points from the hero­ine who was a recent col­lege grad­u­ate hired on a news­pa­per, a Ger­man spy, a gravedig­ger, a woman, before and after she became a ghost, a cou­ple more as well, I believe. And, how about a haunt­ed mir­ror? Read­abil­i­ty and the unex­pect­ed lured me into this book and kept me read­ing to the end. What did I learn? Fan­ta­sy, his­to­ry, and mys­tery can co-exist.

Girl in the Shad­ows was a fun, quick read. I espe­cial­ly liked the main char­ac­ter, Abby, a girl with a super mem­o­ry who takes a temp sec­re­tary job. I liked her actions and reac­tions, and her take-hold atti­tude, as she quick­ly dis­cov­ered she liked her new job—no, she loved inves­tiga­tive work. She also took  over her boss’s trusty bea­gle Chewie. Hi-jinx ensue! This book was short and fun­ny. Can’t beat that com­bi­na­tion. Guess I did­n’t real­ly learn any­thing new, except, per­haps, that short books are sell­ing and get­ting nice reviews. (Okay, as an author, that’s some­thing to con­sid­er when I’m strug­gling to com­plete 70,000 or more words.)

This Dog for Hire was an excel­lent intro to behind-the-scenes shenani­gans at a dog show. Rachael is the inves­ti­ga­tor, check­ing out those shenani­gans with her pit bull Dash. They’re a team, and one can always agree that if you want a dog to pro­tect you, a pit bull can’t be beat.  At times I was a bit con­fused, which is usu­al­ly good for a mys­tery. This book kept me engrossed, with a mys­tery to solve and a main char­ac­ter who was (at least in this sto­ry) a bit too sus­pi­cious for her own good.

These are all mys­ter­ies I’ve read and enjoyed. I did­n’t give any of them five stars, but they came close. The unique take-away for dif­fer­ent ones? One was the voice, one was sur­prise ele­ments, one was the main char­ac­ter, and the last took sus­pi­cion to a new lev­el. I learned some­thing dif­fer­ent from each one as well: the very dif­fer­ent “occu­pa­tions” for dogs, and four dif­fer­ent approach­es to the dog­gie mys­tery.

Now I have a ques­tion or two: If mys­ter­ies are your thing, do you enjoy a vari­ety which might include ani­mals as main char­ac­ters? Do you have a favorite mys­tery that includes dogs? Okay, last one: Tell me, quick! What book is it? (I love a good mys­tery, and a per­son­al rec­om­men­da­tion is super.)

History — Four Views

History — as viewed by four authors

His­to­ry is bor­ing, dull, ho-hum. No, no, his­to­ry is excit­ing, new and fresh! Which is it? Is it thick books filled with facts, dates, wars, inven­tions, and famine? Or is it a live­ly nar­ra­tive, full of mys­tery and intrigue?

Answer—it can be either! Amaz­ing­ly, the sub­ject you may have hat­ed in school, just might be retold in anoth­er way, a way that keeps you glued to the pages, think­ing not of sleep or a TV dra­ma but of what comes next with the turn of a page. And, the same his­toric facts may form the basis for mul­ti­ple books, each com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent. His­to­ry may even be fic­tion­al­ized. (That is, turned into a sto­ry pos­si­bly even more allur­ing than the facts. But you knew that, right?)

The four books illus­trat­ed here approach his­to­ry in four dif­fer­ent ways. How is that?

On the left, Paper Woman by Suzanne Adair (the first of sev­er­al books) tells the sto­ry of a woman dur­ing the run-up to the Amer­i­can rev­o­lu­tion when British sol­diers and colo­nial rebels were very much in the pic­ture. Suzanne bases her mys­ter­ies on lit­tle-known facts of the south­ern states dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion. She aug­ments those facts by tak­ing part in reen­act­ments. She knows what it is to dress as they did then, to pre­pare food, in fact, so many details of every-day life. A list of inven­tions, dates, and lin­eage? No—this approach to his­to­ry is the next best thing to being there—without the dan­ger!

The cov­er of The Blue may remind you of a col­orist gone wild, and that may be the intent, for it is, indeed about blue. Not blue as in sad, or even blue as in the sky, but blue as in invent­ing a dye that caused inter­na­tion­al upheaval in the world of porce­lain. Author Nan­cy Bilyeau com­bines her own her­itage as a Huguenot with fic­tion­al char­ac­ters to tell the sto­ry that spreads from 18th cen­tu­ry Lon­don to France. Inven­tions? Work­ing on that, for sure. But did any school book dwell on the king of France and obses­sion about porce­lain? This one qual­i­fies as a thriller.

The last two are not fic­tion. A Knuck­le­head in 1920s Alas­ka is the retail­ing of sev­er­al trips to work in Alas­ka for col­lege mon­ey. This is the sto­ry my father told me in six audio tapes. He made the tapes when he was 88, gave them to me (as the writer in the fam­i­ly) and asked that I write them for fam­i­ly and friends. It took a year and a half to orga­nize (and agree) on the con­tent, but we did it. Some years lat­er, one of my daugh­ters designed the cov­er and I pub­lished it for all. It’s an account, as he remem­bered (and named) it of  a hot-head­ed kid who need­ed to fin­ish grow­ing up. He told me he’d made anoth­er trip to Alas­ka, tak­ing his broth­er, but he had­n’t includ­ed those sto­ries. He said, “I was­n’t the knuck­le­head any more. Fred was.”

Spies In The Fam­i­ly, by Eva Dil­lon, is just that. After her par­ents had both died, Eva and her sib­lings found a wealth of papers in the attic. I’m still read­ing this one, but it has amaz­ing his­to­ry. At the height of the Cold War, her father was a U. S. gov­ern­ment agent han­dling the CIA’s high­est rank­ing dou­ble agent, a Sovi­et gen­er­al. Besides a lot of weird CIA action, the book includes infor­ma­tion gath­ered from the Sovi­et gen­er­al’s son, now liv­ing in the Unit­ed States. To me, this is tru­ly a grip­ping sto­ry that I can’t wait to com­plete. (No mem­o­riz­ing dates here!)

Each of the book titles are linked to their Ama­zon page. Tell me, how did you view his­to­ry when you were in school? Did you find it inter­est­ing or bor­ing? Or, per­haps, since I’m waaaay out of school, the his­to­ry as taught now is more inter­est­ing. Or, per­haps, it is non-exis­tent, which is a shame. Like some­one once said (and I real­ly should look it up, but I won’t) those who don’t know his­to­ry are des­tined to repeat it. (Or words to that effect.) There are a mul­ti­tude of ways to present his­to­ry. What are your favorites?

New Book Count-down

New e‑book - A Jo Durbin Mystery Series

What does an author do when she decides to change cov­ers on the way to pub­li­ca­tion? If she’s me, she just does it! Wis­er heads may not agree, but, there… you have it. Did, and done. But it occurs to me that those who ordered it with one cov­er may be con­fused when they get a book with anoth­er cov­er. So, I’ll spread this graph­ic around the inter­net, start­ing with my blog.

So, let’s go with the inci­den­tals. Pub­li­ca­tion date: Decem­ber 14, 2018. Avail­able as e‑book only, but for very e‑book read­er I know about. Amazon/Kindle link here. Uni­ver­sal Link here that includes Nook, Apple/itunes, Kobo, and a few oth­ers.

How about the blurb for this 3‑book mys­tery vol­ume?

Jo Durbin, frus­trat­ed busi­ness writer, cat believ­er, and acci­den­tal ama­teur sleuth wants to up her game—parlaying tem­po­rary lifestyle into a best­seller. She tries real estate pro­mo­tion, the bag lady life, and reen­act­ing an 1813 woman at war. But the byline she scores, instead of “a killer caught,” might be “DOA.”

This col­lec­tion includes the com­plete series: Hid­den Body, a pre­quel nov­el­ette, Yesterday’s Body, Book 1, and For­got­ten Body, Book 2. Jo is helped, or hin­dered, by her sis­ter Kaye, by Mel, the man who wants to be more than a friend, and oth­er char­ac­ters, not the least of which are the police who seem to always be on her case.

The pre-order and intro­duc­to­ry price of 99 cents will last through New Year’s Day. (Inci­dent­ly, which cov­er do you like the best? Not that I’ll change it back again — just curi­ous. Did I make the right deci­sion or am I all wet?)

A pre-order

A Jo Durbin Mystery Series — Pre-order

When is a new book not a new book? When it’s a new way to get the entire Jo Durbin Mys­tery series all in one e‑book, that’s when!

And what’s a pre-order? Okay, that’s some­thing I just learned how to do. This new book comes out on Decem­ber 16, but it can be ordered now at a low price. For a short time, it costs only 99 cents.

What’s in the book? The pre­quel nov­el­ette, Book 1, and Book 2. That’s a nice long read. Here’s the blurb.

Jo Durbin, frus­trat­ed busi­ness writer, cat believ­er, and acci­den­tal ama­teur sleuth wants to up her game—parlaying tem­po­rary lifestyle into a best­seller. She tries real estate pro­mo­tion, the baglady life, and reen­act­ing an 1813 woman at war. But the byline she scores, instead of “a killer caught,” might be “DOA.”

This col­lec­tion includes the com­plete series: Hid­den Body, a pre­quel nov­el­ette, Yesterday’s Body, Book 1, and For­got­ten Body, Book 2. Jo is helped, or hin­dered, by her sis­ter Kaye, by Mel, the man who wants to be more than a friend, and oth­er char­ac­ters, not the least of which are the police who seem to always be on her case.

Avail­able for pre-order at the fol­low­ing e‑stores: Kin­dle:  Nook, Apple, Kobo, and oth­ers at the Uni­ver­sal Link.

 

A Fun Night at the Theater

FIVE SAX

We get to see some unusu­al (but great) shows. Tonight was one of them. Five Sax is exact­ly what it sounds like. Five guys with sax­o­phones. Actu­al­ly, I think they had more than five musi­cal instru­ments because some­times they played a big one, oth­er times they played a lit­tle one. Of course, some­times they passed one sax around and played each oth­er’s horn. (They were wild and crazy guys.) Here’s a pic­ture of them from their web­site which is here.

Each of the five comes from a dif­fer­ent coun­try: Poland, Italy, Bel­gium, Hong Kong, and the USA. Go to their Face­book site and watch some of the videos. They put on a great show.

Have you seen any great per­for­mances late­ly? (Maybe I should ask if you’ve read any good books late­ly, since I’m all about blog­ging for read­ers. But, I’ll skip that this time!)

 

The End (Not Really)

What’s a Mystery Writer To Do?

I mean, when she can’t fig­ure out who the killer is? Now, you real­ly can’t have a mys­tery with­out a killer, that’s for sure. But when I wrote Death of a Hot Chick, I went through a mil­lion drafts (seemed like any­way) with­out find­ing my killer.

I’d worked on my mys­tery for months, seemed like years. Well, yes, it did run over twelve months for sure. But—I’d hit a brick wall. Who killed the vic­tim in chap­ter one? Who would be revealed as the nasty guy in the last chap­ter? She was dead—no doubt about it. But who dun it? What to do?

Write anoth­er draft. Sure­ly the killer would be revealed. I start­ed all over, honed the sen­tences, refined the clues, brought out new sub-plots, added and sub­tract­ed scenes. Even got a chap­ter or two fur­ther along toward the fin­ish line. But… no killer stepped up.

Okay, try again. Piece of cake. Answer will burst forth. Umm, no. Sev­en drafts lat­er and the brick wall was ever high­er. There were clues, red her­rings, false accu­sa­tions, but no killer stepped for­ward.

I had three guys well posi­tioned, each with a rea­son to off the hot chick of my mys­tery. Her father, her fiancé, and the guy whose boat she’d end­ed up with due to a bit of finan­cial hockus-pokus. (Okay, although some of my char­ac­ters believed the vic­tim was a sweet young thing, she had issues.) But, I just couldn’t pin-point the killer. What to do?

Des­per­a­tion lurked. I stared at my three guys, and final­ly said, “I give up. Tell me.” I hand­ed them the vir­tu­al pen and let them have a go at explain­ing their actions on the day in ques­tion. They went at it. A short while lat­er, one of them, at the end of his half page, said, “And then I killed her.”

Whew. Problem solved. And, added benefit, reviewers have said they absolutely could not figure out before hand who did it. (Although, I can’t recommend this seven-draft system, it did work for me that time.)

When I’m read­ing, I espe­cial­ly like a book, espe­cial­ly a mys­tery, where I can’t pre­dict the end­ing. I do like to guess what will hap­pen, and some­times I’m cor­rect. Some­times I change my mind with every chap­ter. That’s a great read! I don’t mind at all being fooled—as long as the solu­tion makes sense. (One can always go back and find those hid­den clues and red her­rings. So much fun!)

How about you? Do you like to be puz­zled, or do you pre­fer to solve the mys­tery along with the sleuth?

(Okay I’ll add the uni­ver­sal link for all e‑book read­ers here.)

Sailing into a hurricane

Why I write about boating

When we were a bit younger, my hus­band and I were into boat­ing on Chesa­peake Bay and beyond. Our first boat was Cloud Nine, a sail­boat. We end­ed up sail­ing, then pow­er-boat­ing for many years. We met oth­er boaters and trav­eled in groups. One of our ear­li­er trips was part way down the Intra­coastal Water­way. Of course, when you are trav­el­ing at a rate of three to five nau­ti­cal miles an hour, it does take a while to reach your des­ti­na­tion. We all, of course, brought our liv­ing space with us, kitchen, bed­room, sit­ting room, and, if you will excuse the men­tion, the facil­i­ties. (That did neces­si­tate an occa­sion­al vis­it to a pump-out sta­tion.)

A few days out we heard an ear­ly hur­ri­cane was head­ed our way. We stopped at a small mari­na and pre­pared. We took all sails down, laid them out on the lawn to fold them, and stored them inside our boats. At the mari­na oper­a­tor’s insis­tence, we anchored out in the cove with at least two anchors each. Then he came around to each boat, picked up every­one who want­ed to go ashore, and brought us to the bed and break­fast he also oper­at­ed. How­ev­er, since his wife was away, there was no break­fast. But he did loan us his truck to go to the store for a few sup­plies. A cou­ple of the hus­bands stayed on their boats. For­tu­nate­ly, my hus­band was­n’t one of them.

Also for­tu­nate­ly, the hur­ri­cane turned west a few miles before it reached us and nev­er hit us. It was dou­bly for­tu­nate, since the house had lots of win­dows that the own­er did­n’t cov­er them in the least.

The next day we trav­eled a few miles south and came to a mari­na where one boat had sunk in its slip after hav­ing rubbed a hole in the prow as the waves bounced and shook it vio­lent­ly against the pier.

All our trav­el­ing inspired my mys­ter­ies. I do men­tion a hur­ri­cane in one of my books, but the char­ac­ters involved are most­ly on land. So, although where I live is in the midst of Amish ter­ri­to­ry, and those sto­ries do well, I was much more inter­est­ed in set­ting my mys­ter­ies on Chesa­peake Bay. We no longer go boat­ing, but I can still enjoy the water­front in my imag­i­na­tion.

A side note: Often boaters have dogs aboard, some even have cats or birds. One cou­ple we knew well had a large dog. Some­times, when the shore was lined with tall grass, find­ing a spot for Wat­son (the dog’s name, the cou­ple’s last name was Holmes) to do his busi­ness was dif­fi­cult (like in the pic­ture seen here).

Hmm, maybe I should put Wat­son into a book. What do you think?

 

Guppy Mysteries

Guppy Mysteries? What are they?

That does sound fishy, does­n’t it? So, I’ll admit—the Gup­pies are a chap­ter of Sis­ters in Crime. I’ve been a Gup­py for years and years, but I met all my chap­ter-mates on line only. Until… I went to Mal­ice Domes­tic a few years ago. Then I met sev­er­al Gup­pies. (Yea!) And they are pro­lif­ic mys­tery writ­ers. Three of them have new books just out (or com­ing in a few days). Here are their new cov­ers.

All three pub­lish more than one series. Daryl Wood Ger­ber writes under two names. Her oth­er author name is Avery Aames. (You will find each author’s Ama­zon author page linked to their names.) A Souf­flé of Sus­pi­cion will come out July 10, 2018. This is the sec­ond of her French Bistro mys­ter­ies. The blurb starts this way: The buoy­ant mood at Bistro Rousseau deflates when Chef Camille’s sis­ter, Renee, turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen, and Mimi Rousseau must tease the real killer out of a mélange of men­ac­ing char­ac­ters. Oh, that does sound like an entic­ing read!

Mur­der at the Man­sion is the first mys­tery of Sheila Con­nol­ly’s fifth series! (Which is why I’m only send­ing you to author sites. Soooo much to choose from with these Gup­pies.) A bit from the blurb… Kather­ine Hamilton’s goal in high school was to escape from her dead-end home­town of Ashe­boro, Mary­land. Fif­teen years lat­er... she is invit­ed to return… There’s the high school neme­ses… Who turns up dead, in the man­sion. This was pub­lished June 26, 2018. It sounds like a deli­cious read. Sheila also has the Coun­ty Cork series that takes place in Ire­land.

The Diva Cooks Up a Storm is Krista Davis’s most recent­ly pub­lished mys­tery, pub­lished May 29, 2018. It is the lat­est in her Domes­tic Diva series. The blurb starts: When a trendy, under­ground din­ner club leaves some guests six-feet-under the table, enter­tain­ing pro­fes­sion­al and ama­teur sleuth Sophie Win­ston hopes she has all the right ingre­di­ents to put a mur­der­er on ice in New York Times best­selling author Krista Davis’s new Domes­tic Diva mys­tery … Krista also had anoth­er mys­tery pub­lished on Feb­ru­ary 27, 2018. It’s Col­or Me Mur­der, the first of her third series, and the front and back cov­ers can be col­ored!

I knew these authors (elec­tron­i­cal­ly) before they were pub­lished! It was won­der­ful to meet them and oth­er Gup­pies in per­son.

Vis­it their Ama­zon author pages to see an amaz­ing choice of sleuths and mys­ter­ies.