Camp NaNoWriMo–I’m In! Time to Get Lost and Write

I have participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for several years but opted out last November because I was in the middle of writing a book I didn’t want to put down for 30 days. The rule of NaNoWriMo is you can’t write a single word until the first day and must try to get to 50,000 words by the last day.  Camp NaNoWriMo is the same idea as NaNoWriMo except it’s in July and not in overscheduled November.  I just finished a book, so I’m up for a new one.  For the month of July I’ll be commenting on my experiences with Camp NaNoWriMo as well as providing a few of my special writing days for others who are also taking part.  If you are a writer, established or newbie….or an established newbie, you’re welcome to row your writing canoe along with mine.  Here are some days a fellow writer and I made up to mark on the calendar.

July 4- Sparkler Day–After writing your word count today, go back to the first line in your book and work on making it sparkle.  It needs to engage the reader and make them want to read the rest of the book.

July 10- Blisters and Splinters Day- Put a fight somewhere in your story

July 14- Burning Marshmallow Day – Make a sweet character burn someone either physically or metaphorically

July 22 – Chiggers and Skeeters Day – Put something in that annoys your main character

July 25- Starry Night Day – Put in something that is beautiful but out of reach

July 27 – Dark and Stormy Night Day – Put in something that is really frightening to your main character

July 31 – Back Home on the Bus Day – Have your main character do something that gives them a time to rest and be at peace

Upcoming Novels, Novellas and Print You Can Read

RainHappy June!  Here in Houston it is incredibly hot, our only break being in the form of heavy rain and Tropical Storm Bill.  More time to be inside in front of the computer.  So what have I been working on?  Many things.  I do have the first novel in my Piney Woods Series completed and it is in editing. I may go outside of indie publishing with this one, so I’ll keep you posted whether you’ll see it this fall or next year.  I love the book.  It’s longer than my other six novels and full of new characters and mysteries to solve.

DecorationsI have also been working with a group of cozy authors on a holiday anthology, and even though I said I was retiring Betsy Livingston, she will be back in this collaboration. Even better, it’s a Christmas story!!  No details yet, but stay tuned.  I think it’s going to be a terrific collection of stories by many of your favorite cozy writers.  You can get updates through my mailing list.

Finally, I am just about finished putting the Pecan Bayou Series into large print.  Okay, I’ll admit it.  I go to the library and check out large print books.  What can I say?  I’ve read too much and worn out my eyes.  That was why I could see a need for my mysteries to be accessible to people like me!

Thank you to everyone who voted for me in the RONE awards.  I came in at number four!  I was really pleased and honored by all the votes I received.

Burnout was Nominated for a RONE!

Check out the May Issue

Check out the May Issue

InD’tale is one of my favorite online magazines.  They review mostly romance but also have categories for mystery, suspense, novellas, chick lit, young adult and much more.  It’s a wonderful place for independent authors like me to make myself known to readers.

I was so happy to hear that BURNOUT has been nominated in the mystery category of the RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) Awards!  If you have read Burnout and would like to vote in the poll, please go here and vote!  While you’re there, you can sign up to get InD’tale magazine every month.

It’s Free

It’s Chock Full of Book Reviews, articles and author interviews

It’s interesting for both readers and writers

Check out the current issue in the upper left hand corner of the site and I would love it if you put in a vote for Burnout!

Pecan Bayou Series #5

Pecan Bayou Series #5

A Reflection on Mother’s Day

Dandelions for MomI am so happy to be a mother.  I didn’t get the chance to start being a mother until I was thirty, and then I had three kids in six years.  Stair steps.  Two boys and a girl.  When I write my mysteries, time and time again I find myself writing characters who are mothers and also fiercely competitive. Frame of reference: I do live in the state that yielded the cheerleader mom who tried to murder the competition’s mother.

Who walks first?  Who speaks first?  Who reads first?  Sadly, it goes on and on, all the way up to who graduates college first, gets married, gets a job.

My kids were never first at this stuff.  Having a son with Down Syndrome really turned the old comparison thing upside down for us, but that ended up being a blessing in our life.  Time to get off the comparison train.  Let it leave the station. Turn around and look at that child who is holding your hand, wanting lunch, grumpy and out-of-sorts.  Believe it or not, that is what it’s all about.

My character, Betsy went from being an overwhelmed single mom to the mother of three by the end of the Pecan Bayou Series.  Even in book six,  I kind of think she was still a little overwhelmed!  She deals with the head of the PTA, pageant moms, boyscout battles, and learning to parent with her new husband, Leo.  Still though, through all of it, even when her son cuts school to have a cigarette with the local bully,  she keeps on peddling, working her way through every situation, never sure if she’s doing the right thing and always glad when yet another storm cloud passes.  Motherhood is not for the faint of heart, but then again, hopefully it has a way of making you stronger.  The best flowers are weeds from the front yard.  The best gifts are made from construction paper and glue that has not quite dried.  The best movies are the ones you take on your phone of your kid’s dance recital, band concert, and ball games.

  Perfect? No.  Wonderful?  Yes!

So Happy Mother’s Day to my mystery-solving Betsy Livingston and Happy Mother’s day to all my readers.  Now go put your feet up and read a good book!

Love a Ghost Story? Visit with the Author of The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor!

The-Ghosts-of-Peppernell-Manor_ebook-coverHave you ever had the itch to redecorate?  How about an entire plantation in South Carolina?  Rehab Addict paradise!  Now do you like a little touch of the paranormal?  This book has it along with a hurricane, a few carpet baggers, and a dog that brings bad luck.  I’ll talk more about the book below, but first Amy Reade took some time to talk to us about her book and her writing!

Tell us a little about yourself. 

First of all, thank you for having me on your blog!

I am a lawyer, though I haven’t practiced in a while. I wrote all the time when I was practicing, but it was always logical and methodical (read: dry and boring) and rarely sparked my interest. But several years ago I saw an advertisement for a three-night writing workshop at a local library and signed up on a whim, really more for an excuse to get out of the house than because I was serious about writing. But I was hooked from the first night when the instructor, author Annie Kelleher, gave us a homework assignment to come up with an idea for a story.

That idea turned into my first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, a story about a nurse, Macy Stoddard, who moves from Manhattan to the Thousand Islands region of northern New York to take on a private client. Once there, Macy learns that the people on the island harbor secrets that reach deep into her past. In her attempts to unearth the secrets and those hiding them, Macy must first help her patient solve the mystery behind a recent death on the island.

My motivation for writing is my love of doing what I do every single day. I wish I had known how much I would enjoy it, because I wouldn’t have waited so long to start!

What inspired the idea behind your book? 

My current book, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, grew from my strong interest in the culture of the South and in particular, the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The climate, the ecology, the social history of that area—everything combines to make it a unique place with a heavy dose of Southern charm. But the region’s past hasn’t all been rosy. There have been sad, painful, and tragic periods in its history, and I wanted to make sure I gave a nod to those pieces of Charleston, too.

 I love all of the decorating and restoration in the book. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?AmyReade

I never really thought about that! We put an addition on our house a few years ago and that was a daunting job, but nothing like the restoration of an old mansion. And our house was built in the 1980s, so there’s nothing to restore—yet. I suppose the decorating and restoration angles of the story probably come from years of subscriptions to “Better Homes and Gardens” and “Southern Living.” Reading through those magazines is one of my favorite things to do. I like to have a magazine handy while I eat lunch, even if it’s one I’ve already read. I keep an ever-expanding file of the articles I want to save.

Who is your favorite character to create scenes for in the book?

I loved creating the scenes between Graydon and Vivian Peppernell. Vivian drives Graydon up the wall with her airs and her pomposity, but he loves her. He wants her to be happy. He’s a gentleman, so he indulges her and is reluctant to get involved when asked to choose sides against her. She knows just how to handle him—usually—to get her way. But Graydon can only be pushed so far, as Vivian learns. Here’s one of their exchanges in The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor:

“That was the stupidest thing you’ve ever done!” he bellowed. “And now you’ve probably wrecked your car, too! Was that the crunching sound we heard?”

“Graydon, I simply refuse to discuss it with you until you’ve calmed down. Yes, my car was the crunching sound you heard. And Phyllis is out there right now retrieving the box with the paintings.”

“You’ve got to be kidding!” Graydon yelled. “How can you send someone outside in a hurricane?!”

“She volunteered,” Vivian said quietly.

I stood at the front door, waiting for Phyllis as she struggled to the door with the large box that Vivian had dropped. I wanted to help her, but Lucy was clinging to me and whimpering, terrified that I would leave her to go out into the storm. I could see Graydon and Vivian out of the corner of my eye. Graydon was looking into Vivian’s eyes.

“Thank God you’re all right,” he told her. She smiled at him. “But you shouldn’t have sent Phyllis out into the storm. She deserves better than that from you.”

“I’ll apologize, Graydon,” said Vivian with a pout.

“That’s my girl,” he said.

I noticed you have a music and wine list for each book.  Do you use this music to write with as well? 

I don’t usually play music when I write, but when I do, it’s classical, no vocals. I can’t concentrate with someone else’s words belting out of the cd player. I also can’t concentrate when I’m trying to sing along. I pick the songs on my website to set a mood that matches the books and that I think the characters would enjoy.

And as for the wine, I like to list the new ones I try while I’m writing a particular book. And it’s what I enjoy when I’m done writing!

How can readers find your books and are there more coming in this series? 

I invite your readers to have a look at The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, which is a standalone book (and I’m working on my third standalone right now, which is set in Hawaii).

As you may have guessed from the title, the novel is set at Peppernell Manor, an antebellum plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, that has seen better days. But when its owner hires restoration specialist Carleigh Warner to oversee its return to grandeur, disagreements over the property’s future threaten to tear the Peppernell family apart. Carleigh is swept unwittingly into a whorl of secrets that she must face to protect her future and her daughter’s life.

My books are available at,,,,,, and  I also invite you to visit me online, where I love connecting with readers. You can find me at the following places:

Website: (my website has a page listing my appearances)




My Review- 5 Stars

When Carleigh Warner gets the opportunity to restore an old South Carolina Plantation complete with tree-lined drive, slave quarters and a ghost, she moves herself and her three-year-old daughter into the house for the job.   The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor is a romantic mystery with good pace that includes an old Southern family who can’t decide if they want to turn their plantation into a tourist attraction. Amy Reade does a great job with not just providing one villain, but several characters who could do harm, which keeps you guessing until the end.   Great mixture of mystery, paranormal and romance.

Romance, No Matter How Silly, Can Be a Great Part of a Mystery

I’ll admit it, I’m a big fan of Castle, the television show. Nathan Fillion plays an adorable man who runs around his swanky New York apartment playing laser tag with his daughter, and romantically sometimes he reminds me of a high school crush. What’s not to love? There is a solid supporting ensemble who play in and out of the story and they just make the relationship between Castle and Kate even better. As much as I enjoy the show, Castle has been clawing and scraping for their last few years of wonderment. Holding out the sexual tension and then the should-we-make-a-life-long-commitment decision was a little painful to watch. Still, though they finally tied the knot with the traditional tv “write your own vows” thing.

“Rick, I pledge my love to my partner in crime…” Dang! I wish my husband and I had thought of saying that!

Maybe I’m being just a little too cynical because I really do love Castle. I’m still waiting for my family to give me my very own bulletproof vest with the word “Writer” printed on it.



My Pecan Bayou series follows a similar path in that Betsy meets Leo in the first book and their romance plays out from book to book going from dating to the final book, Murder for a Rainy Day, when she gives birth to their child. When the two characters get married in Buzzkill they pledge their love just like Kate and Castle, but when Leo whispers in Betsy’s ear at the altar, it’s to tell her he’s solved the mystery.

I know, I’m a hopeless romantic.

In Murder for a Rainy Day I struggled with Betsy in that she is 8 1/2 months pregnant and expected to catch a killer. If you have ever been that pregnant, you already know that the thing you most want to catch at that time is a nap, not a killer. As Betsy naps, she dreams. When she dreams, she is visited by people who have passed on, namely the victims in the first five books. You would think these people would be grateful for her assistance in bringing their killers to justice, but they are the people they were in life. Some are arrogant, some are insulting, but they all give her clues to solving the murder at a time when she will need that information the most.

If you want to know more about Betsy’s dream visitors, here are the first five books in the series.

#1 A Dash of Murder – a Halloween ghost hunting mystery

#2 Overdue for Murder – a library mystery

#3 Doggone Dead – a Fourth of July mystery

#4 Buzzkill – a wedding mystery

#5 Burnout – a Thanksgiving mystery

#6 Murder for a Rainy Day -. an extreme weather mystery

This blog post previously appeared on Brooke Blogs

The Mask of Midnight Sneak Peek Tour

I  have a really great book today to recommend to my readers, especially readers who like thrillers.  This is actually a SNEAK PEEK  of the book before it is released to the public.  When it does come out, this one is worth the investment. Laurie Steven’s Gabriel McCray series is outstanding, and I was lucky enough to get to read an advanced copy and review it .     This author has
mask-at-midnight-188x300publishing houses knocking at her door and after reading the book, I can see why.  Lessons learned from this book?  If a serial killer invites you to a party–don’t wear the costume he gives you.  Better yet, stay home.  I was throwing things at the wall at that point.  Still, even though a normal person wouldn’t dream of doing something like that, Laurie Stevens makes it entirely believable.

My Review:  5 Stars

The Mask of Midnight pulls you in immediately with a serial killer who is finally going to see his day in court. Victor Archwood is one of the best villains I’ve ever seen written.  Stevens really gives you the idea that he is all seeing and at times invisible as he goes after his prey. Gabriel McCray is a psychologically damaged cop who has a history with Archwood and sexual abuse.  McCray must fight his own inner battles if he has a chance of coming out stronger than the truly evil Victor.  Great writing, pace, characters!  Loved it.  I’m going to be reading the first two books in the series.  LaurieStevensw