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Monday, April 30, 2012

In Deep Shitake by Patricia Mason

What do you do when you're stuck in a car window and your posterior is embarrassingly exposed to the cold, winter wind? You use it for inspiration, of course?  Well, that is what you do AFTER you extract yourself, all the while praying your neighbors don't have a video camera, or if they do it's broken, or....Anyway, you get the idea.

This is what happened to me.  A few years ago, I was traveling a long distance by car, with my two dogs, and was trapped in a sudden white out. My car spun 360 degrees on the highway and came to rest off the road in a snow bank. I was towed out. But by the time I arrived home a few hours later, the doors of the car were frozen and I couldn't get them open to get out. I was able to get my window down to about the half way point and started to climb out. Since I was dressed for comfort in a skirt with slouchy socks and clogs, by the time I got partially out the window, the socks and shoes had come off and my skirt was about up to my waist.

I used this incident, in a fictionalized way, in my new romantic suspense, IN DEEP SHITAKE. My heroine is trying to break into the car instead of out when she becomes stuck in an humiliating position.

Take one devastatingly handsome movie star.
Add in one outrageously sexy female private eye with a penchant for food-word obscenities.
Mix in a dose of mistaken identity and a handful of Russian mobsters.
And they're all In Deep Shitake.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Remarriage After Divorce

According to Ask.com:  

If you and your ex-spouse are considering getting back together, remember three things:

·         The statistics are against you.

·         Take things slowly.

·         See a marriage counselor and take a marriage education course.

Luckily for me, Todd and Lisa Miller didn’t check out Ask.com before the fateful weekend at the mountain cabin in Divorce, Interrupted, my first book in the Second Chances series, or I wouldn’t have a story.

1. The statistics are against you. In almost anything we do, the statistics are against us. If we took time to study them we wouldn’t get married, have babies, or even fall in love.

2. Take things slowly. Kind of hard to do with a raging flood headed your way in the frigid November weather. Danger is always an accelerant to a relationship; new or old, or something in between.

3. See a marriage counselor and take a marriage education course. Well, if they had done that in the first place there probably wouldn’t have been a divorce to interrupt, much less the infidelity that caused it all. And what fun would that have been to my story?!

That’s why we write fiction. We can take things fast, make them happen, and ramp up the emotions. Besides, did you ever know anyone to look before they leapt when true love was around? Nope, me either.  Jill

Newly-divorced Todd and Lisa Miller are stranded at their mountain cabin. There to divide a lifetime of memories, they soon are in danger from more than the anger between them. A vicious storm forces them to rely on each other to survive.

Can they trust the one person they lost belief in? Or are their hearts in danger from more than floods and frigid weather?

Divorce, Interrupted is 99 cents and available at: 

And other online vendors like Sony, Apple, and Kobo via Smashwords

Monday, April 23, 2012

How much Easter candy is too much to buy?

I told you about my Easter egg/Christmas tree in my last blog. A couple of you admitted you stretch out the time you enjoy holiday decorations like I do. I also stretch out the time I shop for the decorations and candy after a holiday has passed.  I LOVE a bargain. Today I snagged candy and small bags at 75% off. I am too cheap to buy most candy at the regular price. It just tastes better if I get it on sale.

Ever had a chocolate craving or felt a strong need for candy? My sweet tooth doesn't care if the chocolate looks like Santa, a heart, or an Easter egg. The cool thing is that I can freeze most of the chocolate, peanut butter, or caramel candy. It tastes great thawed or still frozen. Someone mentioned watching peeps explode in the microwave. Ever tried that? 

Bargain lovers are enjoying our 99 cent books, as well as the ones we offer free. Readers love bargains! For one week only all  my books are still 99 cents.

I'm saving a couple of dollars for if or when I find the candy and goodies at 85 % off.

Are there books you would get if they were free instead of cheap?  I must admit I have grabbed some free that I wouldn't have bought.

On Edna Mae's 40th birthday she buried her controlling father and lost her virginity in a one-night-stand with a stranger she never expected to see again.  Now her life is about to change in more ways that she ever thought possible.

Edna Mae decided to have her hair cut after years of letting it grow because she didn't get out of the house much. Raylene has taken her to see her own hair dresser.

I made myself open my door and slide from the safety of the car.
Inside the shop, fragrances assaulted my nose as the noises of female voices and blow-dryers overwhelmed me. The place was abuzz with women having fun. A tiny, red-haired pixie rushed to welcome Raylene and me.
“Hey, Ray, is this your friend?” She pulled me toward a large window and studied my hair. “So healthy, like baby hair. Great texture.”
The pixie grabbed my hand and led me to a pink barber chair. “Ray said you want to lose maybe four inches.” She held that length of hair out to get approval.
“Yes,” I gulped. I hadn’t thought in terms of inches and four sounded like a lot. “What about highlights? Could we do that today?”
“Sure thing,” Sal said.
Raylene grinned and offered to get Cokes from the drink machine in the back of the large room. “The real thing, for Edna.” She laughed at her own joke.
While the “experts” studied hair samples, I sipped my Coke and glanced around at other women in the shop. All the ladies seemed to be having a good time.
Sallee flipped a pink plastic cape over my shoulders. She then cut a swag of hair. On the floor the cut hair piled. Sallee spread some smelly goop on strips of my hair. Then she left me to talk to Raylene while the color worked.
Finally, after a shampoo I watched Sal blow the mass dry. The image in the mirror made her smile. Mighty fine hair!
“Edna Mae?” I turned toward the voice. “Is that you?”
Suzanne Barklay stared at me, then grinned.
I hadn’t seen Suzy since high school.
“Edna Mae Withers!” Suzy clapped her hands, then touched her cheeks in excitement. “Omigod, it is you.”
I nodded, then finally found my voice. “Suzy, you look great! Where have you been?” I tried to escape the chair but the footrest got in the way.
Suzanne didn’t wait, she leaned over the chair to grab me in an enthusiastic hug, cape and all. “I missed you, Em! I missed my best friend.” Sue’s tears dampened my face and mingled with my own tears.
“I thought you were mad at me, your parents always said you wouldn’t come to the phone when I called. The letters I mailed you came back marked Return to Sender.”
“No way! I cried when the letters I mailed you came back to me unopened.” I sniffed and pulled away to study my friend’s face, as if the truth would be etched there. My parents had denied me even one friendship. Why?
When something was pressed into my hand, I turned toward Raylene who was giving me tissues and holding out a tissue box for Suzy.
Suzy grabbed a handful and nodded thanks to Raylene. “I’d have been at their funerals, but I thought you wouldn’t want to see me. Oh, girl, I really missed you!”
Sallee touched my shoulder. “You can get up, I’m done with you for now.”
Suzanne ooed and aaahhed. “You look wonderful. You haven’t changed a bit.”
“Neither have you.” Suzy looked rounder and tanned. Her hair, shorter and darker than I remembered it being, was neatly styled. My old friend looked happy.
Raylene put the magazine on a table. “Why don’t you come with Edna Mae and me and have supper and a drink or two? Edna Mae needs a night out with us girls.”
I untangled myself from the chair and stood with my hands clasped. “Yes, come out with us so we can catch up.”  A flush warmed my cheeks. I should’ve introduced the women. “Suzanne, meet Raylene.” Should I mention Raylene was my lawyer’s secretary? No, that might make it seem as though I had no friends. “Raylene, Suzy is my oldest best friend.”

If you haven't read it and would like a download, let me know and I'll send you a coupon. 

While The Gift isn't free, you might enjoy Edna Mae's story of growth and discovery at 40. 
Barnes & Noble      http://bit.ly/tFy77u
Amazon  http://amzn.to/Iibzuz

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Corner of Britain with Je Ne Sais Quoi!

My first contemporary romance has recently hit the virtual shelves at Amazon. UNBREAK MY HEART is set on an island in the English Channel that many of you might not have heard of.

The Island of Jersey, or Bailiwick of Jersey, is part of the group of islands known as the Channel Isles. I've been fascinated by the place since I visited a few years ago. It is a tiny island, only forty-six square miles in size lying just off the coast of Normandy, France.

Strictly speaking it is not part of Great Britain but a self-governing British dependency. They use British currency and fall under the protection of the British military, but have their own political structure and make their own decisions. And Jersey is not part of the European Union but through its association with the UK it reaps the benefits of being a member without any of the drawbacks. So they are pretty astute!

The place is a unique mix of British and French, which gives it a charm all its own. The hero in Unbreak My Heart, Andre Le Court, has a French mother and a French name to give a flavor of this diverse culture. The island's main language is English although French is widely spoken. Jersey has low taxes and doesn't suffer from the VAT sales tax imposed in the UK. (Amazon has its UK fulfillment center there to take advantage of the favorable tax situation.) Jersey is renowned for being a tax haven for the wealthy.

If you enjoy short contemporary romance like Harlequin or Mills & Boon then this story is for you! It's available at the bargain price of 99cents on Amazon.

Unbreak My Heart Blurb

Andre Le Court first set eyes on Kate Frost when he was two and she was a babe in her mother's arms. He's twenty-five now, and he still remembers the moment perfectly, the moment Kate Frost slipped inside his heart.

His family owned a big hotel, her parents worked there. Andre's father spent years trying to separate his son from the daughter of the hired help. Eventually he grew desperate and sent Andre away to boarding school.

Nine years later, Kate turns up on the doorstep of Andre's prestigious hotel with the paparazzi at her heels and the six-week-old daughter of her celebrity ex in her arms. She has nowhere left to run except back to the place where she left her heart all those years ago.

Andre lost Kate once. He can't lose her again. But he has an image to maintain, a reputation as a successful businessman. A bohemian young woman with beads in her hair is not a suitable wife for him.

In Andre, Kate sees tantalizing glimpses of the boy she adored. But most of the time she hardly recognizes the powerful, successful man he's become, his lifestyle so like that of his despised father.

Can they forgive the pain of the past, accept each other as they are now, and rediscover the childhood love that was snatched away from them?

A Polish Heart by Stephanie Burkhart

My "sweet" contemporary romance, A Polish Heart, takes place in Warsaw, Poland during Easter. Darrin Riverton is an architect who takes an assignment to go to Warsaw and oversea the construction of the National Stadium, a 55,000 soccer stadium in the heart of the city. His Polish interpreter, Sofia Buraczynski, helps him find his way around Poland and opens his heart in a way it hasn't been before.

If Hollywood called and wanted me to cast the movie I'd have to pick Chris Evans for Darrin. He's the perfect age and drop dead gorgeous.

For Sofia, I'd pick Edyta Sliwinska. She was on Dancing With the Stars for the first 10 seasons and I have to admit, I miss her. I loved her dancing – very graceful, fluid, and her personality on screen was so open and honest. She was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1981 so she's perfect for my Polish heroine, "Sofia."

Chris Evans
Edyta wanted to dance since she was 10. After achieving success in Poland as a ballroom dancer, she moved to America in 2000. In 2005, she joined the cast of Dancing with the Stars.
She still blogs and you can find some of her blog posts at: https://www.facebook.com/dancingpros/notes

You find out more about Edyta on her website at: http://edytasliwinska.com/

Why did I set "A Polish Heart" in Warsaw? I love to write international contemporaries and I knew from my own Polish roots that the nation had strong Easter customs.

Edyta Sliwinska

A Polish Heart is available with the KDP Select Program. It's free to Amazon Prime Members is priced at 99 cents.

Blurb: Will Sofia's faith give Darrin his heart back?

Opening Line: This was going to be the most challenging thing he'd ever done in his life.

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007AS29AO







Saturday, April 21, 2012

Readers & Writers: Be Secure

Plots about hackers are thrilling to read or watch in movies, but it's not so thrilling in real life.

Readers and authors spend a lot of time on the Internet. We shop for books and other items. Many of us read books on the computer. We research. We email, participate in discussion groups, visit blogs, and engage in social networking. In other words, we spend a lot of time at the computer.

When a hacker corrupts our email and attacks our accounts, we take it very personally because he's interfering with our online lives. Lately, several author friends have had their email hacked.

If you're a reader or a writer, and this has happened to you, here are some security tips to make sure it doesn't happen again. If you haven't been hacked yet, start practicing this today.

1. Always install software updates.

These would be: (1) security updates sent to you by the makers of your operating system (Windows, Apple, Linux), (2) productivity software updates sent to you by manufacturers like Microsoft Office, WordPerfect, Adobe, (3) updates to software used to connect to the Internet (browsers, email clients, iTunes, Quicktime, Java, etc.).

2. Always use a password different from your email password for a social networking site (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn).

You may not know this, but most of the social networking sites don't have SSL encrypted login for users. Hackers know that most people use the same password for email, social network sites, and other login situations.

Since most social networking sites require your email as your user name, hackers immediately know your email addy. If he can get that, then he has a good chance of your intercepted logon password being the same as your email addy. Instant access to send spam & spread viruses using your email account.

If you've had your email hacked, and you get hacked again even after changing your email password, and, to complicate the issue, your anti-virus can't find anything, what's happened is that your email addy and password get captured anew because you still maintain the practice of using the same email address & password to access the non-SSL-encrypted social network sites.

Drop that habit like a, well, bad habit.

3. Use a different password for each social network site, and always different from your email password. That's an even better procedure.

Just like in novels, the bad guys are out there, and they're trolling for victims. Avoid becoming one. Always follow good security procedures.

(Kindle bestseller Joan Reeves is multi-published in print and ebooks. She frequently blogs about Internet safety and security on SlingWords).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book covers

Am I ever going to be satisfied with my book covers?
Should a book cover convey the theme of the story? Or should it attract attention to the characters, or simply be suggestive in a pleasant way to the reader’s eyes?

Is it better to have praise on the cover? I personally don’t like these tiny characters that I can’t even see on the Amazon book cover, but some authors love them.
I thought that my book cover for Greek Encounter was attractive, but as usual I have second thought, and wonder if I should replace my Greek hunk--and yes, he  is really Greek--by a romantic couple to be more in-line with my other book covers? Any suggestions?

How about title? Are you attracted to some titles?
I like suggestive titles such as No More Lies; Right Name, Wrong Man, or Babies in the Bargain. Maybe I should have found a more romantic title to Greek Encounter, such as Her Sexy Opponent (too erotica), or Her Greek God (sounds paranormal), or Love in Mykonos (do all readers know where Mykonos is?) or Her Special Greek (too plain).

Strange, this book is selling three times more copies in the UK than in the US.
Please, share your opinions.
GREEK ENCOUNTER, http://tinyurl.com/6ulnxzg
Stefano Kostapoulos plans to demolish the dilapidated Pink Villa inherited from his grandmother and build a modern resort on the Greek island of Mykonos. But the American co-owner refuses to sell his shares and sends his attorney to Greece--a lawyer Stefano plans to shred to pieces at the hearing.

Except that Counselor Ashley Sheppard is a gorgeous redhead who knocks Stefano off his axis when he meets her incognito. Sparks fly during a first encounter that leads to a memorable night of passion.

In court, Ashley is in for a nasty surprise. Her handsome Greek god is the opponent. Her heart gnaws with pain, yet she attacks him with all her strength to defend her grandfather's case.

Stefano wins the lawsuit, but is about to lose Ashley. To keep her in Mykonos, he strikes a deal with his old enemy. Does Ashley dare to trust the Greek playboy? Or even understand her grandfather's strange change of heart regarding the Pink Villa?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Planning doesn't mean diddly.

I had planned to talk all about the last book in the Second Chances series when I posted to the blog this month. But, we all know what they say about life and plans. Writers, I think more than any other profession have to deal with life's curves. Everyone seems to think you can write later. That whatever they need you for is more important. Calls that would never go to dad because he is "working" always seem to come your way.

Now, this may sound like excuses, and that is all they are. I should have stayed up more nights to write. I should have stayed off the internet more. I should have unplugged the phone. LOL

So, A Family Again is coming along, but nowhere near where I need it to be. I had hoped to publish at the beginning of April, now it will probably be end of April/beginning of May. On the other hand, that is the joy of self-publishing. We don't have to kill ourselves (figuratively) to meet a deadline. We finish, edit, and publish on our own schedules, which I will now have to change.

I would like to share a moment from A Family Again because I'm really loving this story and I can't wait to share the whole book and the completion of the series.
This is the unedited Prologue to my book, A Family Again


“We the jury, in the case of The State of California vs. Megan Marie Kirby, on the count of Embezzlement, do find the defendant -- guilty.”

Megan gasped as tears rolled down her face and pains roiled across her nine-months pregnant stomach. How could they have found her guilty? She hadn’t taken the money from her job. She was innocent.

All thoughts of guilt or innocence fled her mind as the pain increased to a crescendo of ringing in her ears. Her blood pulsed in her veins in time with the judge’s gravel pounding for order.
Something deep inside ripped, fluid gushed down her legs, and the world went black.

* * *

The drive to the hospital was a nightmare with a deputy sitting in the ambulance with her and her husband, Daniel. She squeezed his hand as another contraction rolled over her. Screams erupted from her throat as the deputy just glared at her.

At the hospital the doors to the ambulance ripped open and sun painted the vehicle in brightness. Megan squinted into the light, amazed that such a beautiful day could bring her happiness and sadness at the same time.

The doctors took charge as she writhed on the gurney, the pain surrounding her. She’d spent part of her pregnancy in jail, with no Lamaze classes to help the waves rolling her under. At twenty-two years old she felt like a child, just wanting her mother to come and take away the pain like the time she fell and skinned her knees.

In the labor room the deputy stepped forward to slap cuffs on her hand and the bed rail. Daniel growled and pushed him away. She tried to scream at her husband to stop. He couldn’t be here for her if he was in jail next. The nurse stepped between them. She spoke calmly to Daniel and he moved back to her side. She barked at the deputy.

“Don’t be stupid. She isn’t going anywhere for hours.”

Pains ripped across her stomach. She stared as the skin roiled from inside. The doctor moved between her legs.

“I think we’ll check your progress.”

The nurses moved her feet into the stirrups. Pain pierced her as the doctor checked. He grunted and looked at her. “We are moving along nicely.”

It didn’t feel nice, not at all. She just wanted to have the baby and go home. Hot tears rolled down her face. Even the agony of childbirth for days was better than the reality of going to prison once this was done.

Time passed in spurts. Pain rolled over her and time stood still. She fell back against the sweat-wet pillow and the second hand on the clock across from her bed flew around the dial.

A nurse moved to her right side and Daniel came to her left. They grasped her hands and helped her to sit forward.

“It’s time to push,” the nurse instructed.

“You can do this, Megan. You can do anything,” Daniel urged her on.

Two hours later, drenched in sweat but as happy as she’d ever been, Megan gazed down into her daughter’s tiny, scrunched up face. The puffy pink blanket surrounded her red face. Her husband stood beside the bed, his hand shaking as it slid over the baby’s head.

“What do you want to call her?”

Megan stared at the pale yellow curls and the bright black eyes of her daughter. “Her name is Daisy.”

I hope you'll read A Family Again once it is available. In the meantime please try Divorce, Interrupted and Someone To Trust, Books 1 and 2 in the series. Available at Amazon, BN.com, and Smashwords


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Allure of Time Travel

Time travel – what is the attraction and what are we truly looking for?  There is something so compelling about traveling back in time and finding that hunk we only dream about. The Highland warrior.  The Viking conqueror. But in reality, would the hunk be as hunky as we dreamed? I for one don’t think so. Nice teeth, good breath and personal cleanliness are attributes I find sexy and exciting. In the great scheme of life, dental hygiene only came into being lately.  Not that ancient cultures didn’t practice some form of dental hygiene, but the methods they used weren’t all that successful. Some ancients rubbed ashes or pumice mixed with scented oils or herbs on their teeth. 

Soap too is historically a recent invention, as early as 2800 BC in ancient Mesopotamia.  In many instances in the past, bathing wasn’t considered healthy or practiced.  The Greeks oiled their bodies with performed oil and then scraped it off with a strigil. (How effective could that be?)  Romans did have their community baths. Ancient Egyptians shaved their heads to prevent lice and then wore wigs.  On top of the wig, they'd set a cone of wax filled with perfume.  As the wax slowly melted over the day, they'd always be surrounded by fresh scent!  (I think I’ve come into contact with these guys.)

Ancient man wouldn’t be on my date list, especially if I was a modern woman thrust into the past!  Let me add a few lesser known facts.  Historically, hankies were rarely used by the common folk and even the wealthy usually only had a few. What did one do?  Nose picking was quite common – and I gag just to imagine!  Chamber pots were commonly used in some polite societies even to the extent of their use during dinner and near the table.  A toilet or guardroom, if there was one, was generally disgusting and smelly.

So why do I write time travel?  Because time travel still compels!  And so does the dream of the uncivilized male just waiting to toss his mate over his shoulder and disappear into the sunset! 

Fiona Blurb:

Time shifts in ever changing motion. But can love survive the ravages of time?

Set against the backdrop of Ancient China, Fiona finds herself transported to a time of barbarian warriors and marauding nomads from the northern steppes. She discovers a new way of life in the arms of the handsome warrior Kellach, a man of noble stature among the Celtic settlements ringing the great Taklamakan. Desperate to return to the present while struggling against her mounting feelings, she finally accepts her fate, exulting in the rapture and delights to be found as Kellach’s mate.

High Priestess Voadicia wants Lord Kellach for her own—and only the outsider Fiona stands in her way. 

Riley's Journey Blurb:

The research project was only supposed to be for an "extended period." No one said anything about forever! So Riley's journey begins. Unknowingly sent back 40,000 years to be the mate of a man she had never before met, Riley struggles to understand and adjust. Her journey will take her into a world fraught with dangers - a world made more treacherous by savage beasts, primitive Neanderthals, and the incursion of the aggressive Cro-Magnon man. Surviving alone for five years in this vast wilderness, Nathan, along with his enormous dog, Demon, carve out a life in the perilous environment. Though thrown together by forces beyond their control, love grows between Riley and Nathan - but will they survive?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Change is Good

As many authors know, it's hard to start a new book after virtually living the lives of other people for so long. It was doubly hard for me to decide what to write after my debut mystery, the dark and intense Two Wrongs, was published. In that book, although I enjoyed adding locales familiar to me in the Chicago area, I immensely suffered the angst of my characters.

I had to wrench my way out of their minds somehow. The only way I could do this was to write something completely different. That's how Girl of My Dreams, my humorous reality show romance, was born. It was fun to invent a plain Jane temp with hidden beauty and find a way to thrust her into the spotlight to make her shine, much like a modern day Cinderella. No evil stepmother for her, but the hero's mother's character left much to be desired. No evil stepsister, but I did include an evil contestant.

After original publication, I requested and received the rights back to both of these books, so I could offer them at a more reasonable price. They're both 99 cents on Kindle and all Smashwords venues.

The points of view switch back and forth between the heroine and the hero in Girl of My Dreams. Here's an excerpt from his point of view in which he shows what he thinks of his mother's character and how it's formed his opinions on love and marriage.

“If you don’t mind my asking, how did you get started in show business?” Jillian asked, disrupting his disgruntled thoughts.
He smiled wryly. “It’s no secret. I was a curious kid. With my mom being Barbara Branton, I hung around the sets a lot. Both the big and small screens fascinated me.”
“You share your mother’s love of the industry, but you don’t resemble her, except maybe for the eyes.”
Blake frowned. “I take after my father in looks. I hope that’s all.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you must know, my issues go way back. For as long as I can remember, Darryl Caldwell has been referred to in the industry and by the public as Mr. Branton. He has no life. He won’t take a step without Barbara’s approval.”            
Though in her mid-fifties, Barbara Branton was still a looker. She packed in millions at the box office and drew multi-million dollar contracts. In her down time, she flitted from man to man. Darryl, fool that he was, meekly waited in the wings, ready to assuage his wife’s ego when she so much as beckoned in his direction.
“Maybe it works for him.”
“That’s Darryl for you, but it’ll never work for me. That whole marriage crap is for the birds. No woman’s worth putting a noose around my neck and turning me into a fool when my back’s turned.”
Jillian’s eyes almost bugged out. He realized he’d come on strong, but couldn’t help it. Marriage and all it entailed made him see red. He’d never risk losing his identity. His parent’s so-called marriage was a sham and an embarrassment.

Read the book to find out whether or not Blake changes his mind about marriage.

Kindle Link:

Morgan Mandel writes fast paced, poignant thrillers, romances and mysteries. For Excerpts and Buy Links to All Four of Her Books in all Electronic Media, and some in print, check out:

Saturday, April 14, 2012


By Caroline Clemmons

Since my first Nancy Drew book, I’ve been hooked on mysteries. I read every mystery the library bookmobile brought to our school. In fourth grade, I was lucky enough to have a really good teacher, Mrs. Huff, who gave each child a Christmas present she’d picked especially for him or her. For me, she chose an Erle Stanley Gardner mystery. I was so excited to have a "real" book as opposed to a children’s book. My mother, who did not like reading until much later in life, was scandalized that a teacher would give a child an adult book. Worse, she flipped through the pages and found the word damn. She was carrying on in the way she often did, when my dad smiled at her the way he always did and suggested he read the book first to see if it was appropriate for me. He loved reading, and especially enjoyed mysteries. I practically stood first on one foot and then the other beside his chair until he'd finished. No surprise, he thought the book was fine for me to read. I was really hooked on mystries after that!

Fast forward more years than I’m telling and here I am still reading mysteries, only now I’ve written a few. In fact, most of my romances are also mysteries. Today, I want to tell you about a straight mystery, ALMOST HOME, which is only 99 cents on Amazon and Smashwords. You knew it would be that price, though, didn’t you?

When I decided to write this mystery, I came up with a story set in a fictional North Cebtral Texas town very much like the one near which I live. Because the town in ALMOST HOME is fictional, it can include precisely those businesses and historical sites I need. Plus, I like to poke fun at good ol’e boys and wouldn’t want anyone thinking he or she was the butt of my humor. Believe me, there are enough people living in my head that I don’t have to use real ones! Here's a tidbit of info: When my youngest daughter and I had antique booths in the local antique mall, we called ourselves Timeless Treasures. That's why I chose that name for the protagonist's sister to call her antique store.

Link Dixon
ALMOST HOME is about Link Dixon, a Dallas police detective who resigns to move back to his hometown after the death of his wife. Link has inherited his maternal grandmother’s Victorian home, a place he and his son love--but keeping up with repairs is an ordeal for Link. He hopes living among extended family will once more put a smile on his solemn 6-year-old son Jason’s face. That part seems to be working. But the only law enforcement job Link could find without leaving the county is as a deputy sheriff, and he was given the bottom man on the totem pole position of night patrol. To help his son, he’ll endure anything, so he cowboys up and tolerates what he knows is the run around from his boss, an old classmate who peaked his senior year in high school and has been getting by on his past football career ever since. ALMOST HOME has a supporting cast of quirky characters to add humor to the quest, but there are plenty of scenes where Link’s life is threatened, too.

Here’s an excerpt from ALMOST HOME. Set up is that Link attends the funeral of the second murder victim in little more than a month (the woman in red on the cover) and this one is someone he knew in high school. He's just asked his supervisor at the sheriff's office if the man (Goddard) is going to Mitzi's funeral:

"We’re all going, sheriff’s orders. Service is at ten at First Methodist. Be on time." Goddard turned his attention back to the papers on his desk, a sign they were dismissed.
Walking to their desks, Eddy whispered, "Be a great time for a bank robbery, huh?"
Link smiled. "Let’s hope no one else figures that out."
The First Methodist Church was one of Cartersville’s largest and oldest. Link signed the guest book and went into the sanctuary, which was filled almost to overflowing. The Francis family had requested donations to charity in lieu of flowers, but several arrangements spread across the space in front of the altar.
Terri’s funeral flashed through his mind and he thought he might have to leave. The only funeral he’d attended since his grandmother’s was that of his wife and that one had been nigh on to impossible to endure. For a few minutes, Link fought guilt and desperation, then took a place on the last row where he could observe the other mourners—and slip out inconspicuously if necessary.
Link saw his parents, who were here because of their long friendship with the Francis family. Though Mitzi had moved away after high school, her mother’s family and the Francis family had lived in Cartersville for generations. No doubt that accounted for most of the crowd, but Link refused to discount the notoriety of a murder as a draw for the morbidly curious.
Eddy slid onto the pew beside him. Link saw Goddard seated next to Chief Deputy Watson about mid sanctuary. Gary Don and his wife sat across the aisle from Goddard and Coy sat with them. Coy turned around and waved when he saw Link. Gary Don poked Coy, whose face displayed his hurt feelings before he turned to face the front of the church.
The organist broke into one of the usual funeral hymns. Zach Dunaway and an elderly man led the procession of bereaved. Next Drady Francis and her husband filed in and their children followed them. Apparently this small group represented Mitzi’s only relatives. Link knew Zach Dunaway’s parents had moved away years ago, but assumed the older man to be Zach’s father.
Once again Link wondered who would receive Mitzi’s estate. He hoped the Francis family benefited. He’d be willing to bet they were footing the bill for the funeral.
Link scanned the crowd while a soloist sang "How Great Thou Art" and "In The Garden." He recognized a large percentage of those in the church. When the minister stood at the lectern, Link tried to focus on the sermon. The minister hadn’t known Mitzi, and all his phrases and platitudes seemed trite. Soon Link’s mind wandered and he found himself assessing the people around him.
Zach was off the hook since he wasn’t even in the state when Mitzi died. The fact that most of these people were in town at the time of the murder didn’t help. No one so far had seen or heard anything unusual. After what seemed hours to Link, the service ended. He rose with the others and waited while the family left with the minister.
Link and Eddy eased out the door and staked out a spot where they could watch everyone else exit the church. Goddard nodded as he walked past, but Watson only gave them his feral glare. Gary Don and his wife stopped, Coy trailing them.
Gary Don mopped his face with his handkerchief. He looked as if he’d been crying. "Link, you ‘member Twyla Sue, don’tcha?"
Link nodded. "Haven’t seen you since high school, Twyla Sue." He nodded to Eddy, "Do you know Eddy Wells?"
"No, pleased to meet you," she said, but she didn’t seem pleased about anything.
She wore no makeup and had her light brown hair in some kind of fluffy bun thing on top of her head. Her black dress was about as unattractive as any Link had ever seen, but he never claimed to be a fashion expert. Still, being around four sisters and his late wife gave him a little insight into the current styles.
Of course, a smile dressed up any outfit, and Twyla Sue had apparently forgotten hers.
Link thought she appeared more upset with Gary Don than with Mitzi’s death. Maybe having her husband cry in public over an old girl friend annoyed her.
Apparently either oblivious or immune to the sour looks his wife sent his direction, Gary Don shook his head. "I just can’t believe it. Seems like only yesterday we were all in high school and Mitzi was head cheer leader, don’t it?"
Well, no, but what could Link say? This man was his boss, so he opted for the noncommittal. "Those were the times, weren’t they?"
Gary Don nodded and wiped his nose before he stuffed his handkerchief into his pocket. "Yeah, man, we had some great times back then. No responsibilities, no problems, just go to school then live it up. Nothing like now."
Twyla Sue glared at her husband. Link remembered Twyla Sue had missed the games and pretty much everything else because she worked after school at her father’s drug store. Slaved was more like it. Link worked next door at the grocery mart two nights a week after game practice and on Saturdays.
He doubted Twyla Sue’s straight-laced parents would have let her date before she was eighteen even if they hadn’t made her help at their store. Sundays her father preached at the county’s most fundamental church. Twyla Sue had never been allowed to wear shorts or pants, not even in gym class.
Link also remembered partying lost Gary Don his athletic scholarship and eventually got him kicked out of the university. He wondered how these two had ever paired up. Life sure played some cruel tricks on people when they weren’t looking.
"How’s your family?" he asked. "Your dad still own the drug store?"
She stopped glaring and brightened. "No, they sold it and retired. They built them a house just across the river near the church."
"Tell them hello, will you?"
"Sure will. We go over there for dinner every Sunday after church." She glared at her husband again. "Least the kids and I do. Gary Don usually finds a way to be busy."
Gary Don looked embarrassed. "Well, we better go pick up the kids. Twyla Sue’s mama is watching ‘em and no tellin’ what they’re up to. May have her tied up and scalped by now."
The prospect apparently cheered him. He started to walk away, but stopped and pointed a finger at Link. "You find out who killed Mitzi, you hear?" He punched Coy on the shoulder. "Come on, Coy, let’s get out of here."
Eddy stared after them, then echoed Link’s opinion. "Odd pair, the sheriff and his wife, aren’t they?"
Link scanned the other people and answered, "Oil and water. About as suited as my wife and I were." He regretted the words as soon as they were out, but couldn’t call them back. Thankfully, Eddy let the comment pass without an answer. But then, what could he have said to that?

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

SHAPE SHIFTERS ANYONE? - by Vijaya Schartz

Don't you love this Native American hunk?
When I considered writing a shapeshifter novella, my choice was obvious. I always wanted to write a story with a Native American hero. Since I live in Arizona, I researched the Hopi culture and found more than enough material to write a story that would fit the local legends. In this book I used the skinwalkers legend, as well as the Chupacabra legend, and I also allude to the Star People and other elements of Native American culture.

If you look at my portrait, you'll realize that I'm pure caucasian. French to be exact, born and raised. But I was fascinated by Native American culture since childhood. I always played the "Indians" when my friends played "cowboys." So researching and studying the culture was one more reason for me to write this story.

The best compliment I received was from a Navarro reader who praised my accuracy and my great respect of the Native cultures, and I was very moved, as I pride myself for just that.

This cultural and geographic backdrop of Arizona's wilderness lends itself to my story, where the heroine is a ranger.

Arizona Game Ranger Madison Huntley, investigating a wild animal attack on a ranch in Cave Creek, discovers disturbing details. If she didn't know better, she'd say the legends frightening the ranch hand might be true. But Madison isn't just a wilderness cop. As a biologist and a wild life expert, she believes in facts and science, not scary tales.

Kaletaka, a Hopi Native, enjoys fame among the white man, forging haunting sculptures of half gods, half humans. When he awakens bloody, with no recollection of what he did the night before, he remembers the legends of his tribe, and the meaning of his name. But as hard as he tries, can he escape his destiny?

Can Madison solve the mystery killings and insure the safety of the town? Let alone her own safety? For each step closer to the truth and to Kaletaka, unleashes an unspeakable evil, and no one is safe...

This is what the reviewers say:

"Phenomenal world building, characters the readers cares about, and an intriguing mystery…COYOTE GORGEOUS has all the elements one expects from a Vijaya Schartz story! Easily recommended!" 4.5 Shamrocks - Debbie, CK2sKwipsandKritique4.5 Shamrocks - Debbie, CK2sKwipsandKritique

"So many times my theory of who done it was thwarted and yet I was thrilled to stay on the edge of my seat until the very last word just to find out" Five stars - Book Junkie Reviews

"excellent characters... well written. Fascinated about the subject matter and the legends..." Five hearts - Romance Book Scene

So, for 99 cents, you can't go wrong. Get Coyote Gorgeous today at:

Find out more about Vijaya's books on her website at:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Charlotte and the Tenderfoot--a Dime Novel

Charlotte and the Tenderfoot is my third "Dime Novel." These stories are approximately 20,000 words--a quick read in one evening. So far, they have been extremely successful, for which I am very happy! All are 99cents.
Here they are in order of publication:
Angel and the Cowboy.
Addie and the Gunslinger
Charlotte and the Tenderfoot
...and Coming Soon:
Kat and the U.S. Marshal
BLURB from the newest release, Charlotte and the Tenderfoot
~*~ While driving home in her buggy, Charlotte Dewhurst discovers a man lying by the road. William Montgomery, an attorney, was passing through the area when accosted by two hoodlums. The resulting court case keeps Will in town. His attitudes confuse Charlotte as he seeks her company, yet proclaims he will soon be moving on. But Will may be the most confused one of all.
“Hi,” he said, as he came to her. “I hear the violin and guitars tuning up.”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “Fiddles, Will. The instrument might look like a violin, and perhaps sound like one if played in such a manner, but here? They’re fiddles. Plain and country, but wait till you hear them play.”

He chuckled. “My mistake. Only one of many since I’ve arrived in Trinity Hill. I’ll get the hang of these western ways yet.”

But probably not here, Will. You’ll be leaving soon. Remember?
Also available on B&N, Smashwords, and Monkeybars
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Christmas/Easter Trees and a Free Book.

Hey! I intended to beat April 1 with my post, but.....

When do you put away your Christmas decorations? I wait as long as possible. I remove some of the decorations from my Christmas Tree and add the egg lights. I'm not kiddin'. I'm fixin' to do that tomorrow, April 1. The pictures were taken today!

Years ago I started a story for a workshop. I needed characters I thought would make the story interestin' and show their southern backgrounds.

Three lawyers attended law school together. Two were wealthy and had never worked a day in their lives, and the third worked as a waiter and took janitorial jobs to make his way through school. What would bring 'em together? The rich guys wanted the poor one to join their law firm because he was brilliant. They didn't need his money, but they knew he would be a valuable asset. Would that partnership work? I thought so, so I threw 'em together. Characterization can be tricky.

The poorer lawyer appreciates his partners' generosity, and he works overtime to show this, sometimes too much. He does extra things partners don't do. His dialogue is very middle Georgia and he calls his mother Mama. He dresses appropriately, but with secondhand clothes and Dollar Store glasses.

One rich partner has a lovely family, except for his snobby brotherand equally snobby Sis-in-law, and a perfect, generous, sweet Southern mama.Their dialogue is gentile and, you guessed it, Southern and native Atlantan. He calls his mom Mama. I put pearls and designer clothes on his Mama.

The other wealthy guy has cold, snobby parents, and his language shows his gentile background but lacks the southern warmth. He calls his mom Mother and shows his own snobbery one time too many. His need for love shows through his sarcasm.

Losin' a bet sends one of the rich lawyers to work evenings in a Waffle House near Christmas. A variety of folks eat there and work there.There the lawyer learns humility and ...... I'm not tellin'
the rest.

Brock and Drake followed Carter into the square one story building. The room sported booths and stools. The noise level assaulted his ears and the onion, fried foods, and coffee odors attacked his sense of smell. Actually, the whole room with its orange benches and stool tops assaulted his senses. Women of varying ages bustled around, some carried food to the tables while others placed plates in front of people seated on tall stools at the high counter.
Amazing, un-damned believably amazing that such a place could exist and that he’d never been in one.
Drake looked as shocked as Brock felt. Carter, however, caught the attention of a woman wearing a god-awful ugly brown dress and a striped apron. She winked at Carter and led them a few feet to a booth.
While Carter lost no time sliding across one orange plastic looking bench, Brock waited for Drake to slide across the other bench, but he sat on the edge, as if he needed to be able to escape quickly.
Brock shrugged and looked pointedly at Carter, who motioned for his partner to sit beside him. By the time Brock sat, Drake looked to be in shock. Neither arm touched the table, but Carter didn’t seem to be so cautious. He played the part of host and grabbed menus from a holder at the end of the tables closest to the counter making up a third wall for the booth.
A woman who looked old enough to be long past retirement age leaned over the table and swiped a wet rag across it. Never had anyone wiped a table after he was seated at it. Though Brock was ready to jump out of the way of stray crumbs, not one hit him or his table-mates.
Poor Drake just stared.
The waitress gave Drake the once-over, then placed a set of utensils on a napkin for each man. She rescued a thin pad from one pocket and a pencil from behind one ear. “Name’s Sally, and I’ll be your server tonight. What’ll you boys have?”
“I haven’t decided yet,” Brock answered in his courtroom voice that went with his tailored business suit.
“Well, you just take your time, Honey,” Sally looked at him and grinned, showing the gap of a missing incisor.
“We’d all like water, please,” Carter said.
“With lemon?” the waitress asked.
At his nod she asked. “Coffee?
“God, yes,” Carter said. “I could use a gallon.”
Brock echoed his response.
When she left to get their water. Drake muttered, “Probably should’ve ordered bottled water.”
Though Brock thought Carter flinched beside him, he didn’t bring attention to it.

When do you take down your Christmas decorations? Do you decorate for other holidays?
Christmas' Best Bet, Humble Pie is free to each commenter. (It's free on Smashwords, anyway until Monday.)

It is also available for 99 cents on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
My other ebooks are 99 cents, but The Gift will go back up to 2.99 next week.
Other works include Forever Love & Haunting Refrain


MaryMarvella, Author on Facebook