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.

A Memorial Day Reflection

A day of remembrance

My husband’s uncle died in World War II. My uncle served, but returned. My hus­band, broth­er, broth­er-in-law, and so many oth­ers we knew served in Korea, some my hus­band knew nev­er returned. And there have been oth­er bat­tles since then. Now, with­out the draft, it seems the same small per­cent­age of Amer­i­cans vol­un­teer to take on our bat­tles over and over, with each per­son return­ing to the front (wher­ev­er it is) repeat­ed­ly. No more is it the two or four year block of life removed from the draftee or vol­un­teer as in Korea. Or “the dura­tion” as in WW II. Now it seems a life-style of the select few. Which leaves a large por­tion of our cit­i­zens uncon­cerned about those fight­ing for free­dom around the world. Indeed, many of the young gen­er­a­tion seem unaware of the exis­tence of the rest of the world, except as a pos­si­ble place to vaca­tion.

I planned to see beau­ty in this day, but some­how, I’ve missed the con­nec­tion. Oh, there is beau­ty. Our tulip poplar tree in bloom. Pic­tures of our great-grand-chil­dren on Face­book. The orange I had for lunch. (Love­ly taste, too.) Most com­ments about this day might dis­play a flag or a mil­i­tary salute to vet­er­ans. I could do that as well, and it would be mean­ing­ful to me. But I’ll break with tra­di­tion and post the tree blos­som. Just for a moment, I’ll think beau­ty. But in the back of my thoughts will be that flag, those vet­er­ans, and why can’t it be dif­fer­ent?

Tomor­row, per­haps the sun will come out, and life will go on as before, as it did yes­ter­day.

Cat Mysteries — Something New?

More favorite mystery reads

I’ve heard it said, a pic­ture of a cat on a book cov­er is a sure win­ner. And a mys­tery with cats solv­ing the mys­tery? Yum. Or, per­haps I should just purr!

New read­ers might think mys­ter­ies with cats are a new thing. Nope. Long before the dig­i­tal boom and even before Ama­zon, there were cat mys­ter­ies. I’m quite sure I bought every paper­back of ‘The Cat Who’ mys­ter­ies. The two Siamese and their human, Quiller­an, kept me read­ing episode after episode.

More recent­ly, I’ve become acquaint­ed with oth­er mys­tery solv­ing cats. Janet Cantrell (a woman with almost as many names as she has mys­tery series) intro­duced me to the Fat Cat. (Rates anoth­er purr.)

But I’m always on the look­out for some­thing new. The last cov­er is a book I haven’t yet read. The series sounds inter­est­ing — A cat in the stack mys­tery — library stacks, I believe. Could this be my next favorite read?

Or, maybe you have anoth­er sug­ges­tion. There’s the mag­i­cal cats, cats most every­where. I’d like to hear more!

 

Is spring finally here?

Blossoms and Blue Skies

Fri­day the 13th of April is not an unlucky day this year. It’s the day when spring has final­ly arrived. Blue skies, coat-free weath­er, and the bloom­ing mag­no­lia near our front door. So I’m not look­ing for an ill wind, def­i­nite­ly!

I use that mag­no­lia tree rather like a cal­en­dar. What date did the first buds pop? When did they drop? (Noto­ri­ous­ly, they don’t last long.) Even, in the win­ter, when did snow fall and set­tle in clumps on the branch­es? In fact, before I knew it was a mag­no­lia (umm, I’m not even sure of that), one win­ter I began call­ing it our Pop­corn Tree after those clumps formed. My imag­i­na­tion turned them into pop­corn balls dec­o­rat­ing a Christ­mas tree. This year my pop­corn tree cal­en­dar tells me we have a very late spring. One year, at this time, not only had the buds dropped and scat­tered, but full-sized leaves cov­ered the tree.

To put a bit of writer/reader con­tent in this blog, let me point out that I’ve filled two para­graphs with spring blath­er. And, this morn­ing I filled even more para­graphs with the next scene of my some­time-in-the-future mys­tery, plus delet­ed two para­graphs I wrote yes­ter­day. So, that’s progress. Right?

Now for a ques­tion I real­ly want an answer or twelve to—are there any mys­ter­ies that have spring, or a change of sea­sons as a vital clue? Or even a pass­ing ref­er­ence? I scanned titles, but didn’t find a one. Do you have an answer?

Mystery by Mainframe

Artificial Intelligence and Murder

Don­na Andrews is best known for her mys­ter­ies with birds. But, did you know she has an excel­lent series of four books with the sleuth Tur­ing Hop­per, AIP (that’s Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Per­son­al­i­ty). Yep, she’s a main­frame com­put­er who became sen­tient. When she’s faced with mur­der, she engages her “Miss Marple” brain to solve the mys­tery. And, through­out the four books she solves more mys­tery, but digs her­self deep­er into a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion. She’d cloned her­self, to be in two places at once, but what hap­pened to the clone? Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that mys­tery has nev­er been solved. Evi­dent­ly, not enough read­ers were as delight­ed as I was. With tra­di­tion­al pub­lish­ing, the pub­lish­er has the final say, so the series wasn’t con­tin­ued. The first in the series, Click Here for Mur­der, won the Agatha and Antho­ny Awards. (I still have my four paper­backs, await­ing for a sequel.) In the mean­time, read Donna’s oth­er mys­ter­ies. Vis­it the Don­na Andrews page here.

Dig­i­tal Dick is not a series, but it is anoth­er mys­tery with a main­frame heart and human emo­tions. (John Edward Mullen has writ­ten two books so far.) Dig­i­tal Dick learns how to solve mys­ter­ies while wish­ing he had hands so he could plug in his own elec­tric­i­ty. He runs rings around the bad guys, as well as the good guys who just don’t under­stand him. Oh, yes, he has a human sis­ter as well. Vis­it the John Edward Mullen page here.

I’m on the look­out for sim­i­lar books. Do you know of any such books? I’d love to hear about them. (I’m not talk­ing mil­i­tary intel­li­gence here, real­ly, although I might be con­vinced.)

 

New history mystery — on preorder

Killer Debt — Mystery on the battle line

Now that my blog is work­ing again, I can belat­ed­ly tell you about an his­toric mys­tery from one of my favorite authors. This month it’s on * pre-order * with an option of perks. (Since I’m so late, some of the perks are no longer avail­able.) But let’s for­get that and focus on the book. It will come out in May and is the newest in the Michael Stod­dard series. Stod­dard is an Eng­lish offi­cer under orders to pro­tect an Amer­i­can arriv­ing under white flag to con­sult with the British. His main adver­sary is anoth­er British offi­cer, as he also strives to keep an Amer­i­can lady safe. (Or, maybe I’m say­ing too much here? Can I men­tion that they real­ly do like each oth­er?)

Author Suzanne Adair brings our Amer­i­can his­to­ry to the pages, shin­ing a light on much that has been for­got­ten about our past. The sto­ry is fic­tion, but the his­to­ry under­ly­ing this mys­tery is real. What bet­ter way to dis­cov­er the for­got­ten past than in a thriller that por­trays colo­nial life as well as Eng­lish and Amer­i­can sen­ti­ments in our Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War? While you are on the site linked above, (set off by stars), check out the video telling more, the link to Suzanne read­ing chap­ter one, and a link to a PDF of the first chap­ter.