Happy Homicides 2 Featured on USA Today Happily Ever After

Happy Homicides 2: Crimes of the Heart is available for pre-order and our cover reveal is today on USA Today’s blog Happy Ever After.  This delightful collection of cozy mysteries by some of the greatest cozy writer’s will be an extra little something for Valentine’s Day. But wait…that’s not all! You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a dozen roses.

Check out the Cover Reveal on USA Today’s Happy Ever After
We are so happy to have writers Elaine Viets, Randy Rawls, Kathi Daley, Carolyn Haines, Anna Celeste Burke and Maggie Toussaint join us for this “heartbreaking” edition!  I’m back with my story “A Heart for Murder” where I try to figure out the world’s worst Valentine’s gift a husband could give to his wife. I think I nailed it.  Have you received a humdinger of a gift? Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick looks for diamonds but ends up with…you’ll have to read it!
Click Here To Enter the Rafflecopter Giveway for a Dozen Roses


Reviews for Writers: Super Structure

SuperStructureSo, you have a terrific idea for a book and then you get to the middle and suddenly remember the refrigerator needs cleaning out. You were so passionate about writing your novel, but now your mind is wandering.

Even after writing many novels, novellas and short stories, I still run into scenes that aren’t going anywhere, stories that sag and characters that no longer  amuse me.  At a friend’s suggestion I picked up a copy of James Scott Bell’s Superstructure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story.  It was a fast read and oh-so-valuable.

First, because writers are always in edit mode–let’s change the title. Sorry James. This needs to be “The Roadmap”. Yes, you’re lost and yes, it’s time to ask for directions.  In his 14 signpost scenes, Bell takes you from the first paragraph to the last page of your book. When I was reading the book, I was right down to the very last set of scenes on a novel and found myself looking out the window saying, “Hmmm….what now? Maybe I’ll clean a closet….”

After reading through the scene list, I checked through my story and found I had many of them already, but there were a few I needed to add. It was like being near the end of a jigsaw puzzle and suddenly realizing where everything went!  He uses examples from current movies and books that most people know.

The signpost I loved the most? The “Q” factor. This is the part in James Bond when Q gives him a secret weapon like an exploding pen which will come out at the finale when Bond is fighting off the enemy. Since reading the book, I started finding Q factors everywhere, including my own manuscript.

If you are new to writing, or like me,  an experienced writer who still needs to learn, check out Super Structure. Your refrigerator will keep.

Happy Homicides Valentine’s Day Update: The book is almost here! Betsy Livingston is back on Valentine’s Day with her mystery,

<3 A Heart for Murder <3

The Masquerading Magician: A Review

Gigi Pandian headshot 38 b&w vertical crop

Gigi Pandian     Author of the Accidental Alchemist Series

 

I have the great opportunity to welcome Gigi Pandian with her second book in her Accidental Alchemist Series, The Masquerading Magician. There are magical elements to the story as Zoe Faust must find the solution in alchemy for her best friend Dorian who just happens to be a gargoyle. A gargoyle who cooks and rips off French phrases all the time.  You will need a snack when you read the book because the story involves descriptions of so many tasty dishes, but good news, the author included recipes in the back. Now I just need a little stone guy to cook it for me.

The Masquerading Magician has a giveaway for you to enter so scroll down and find the prize guy!

Here is my review of the Masquerading Magician:

Masquerading Magician by Gigi Pandian COVER webres4 Stars

I am not someone who normally reads about alchemy, but  a mystery combined with a shady magician and a desperate search for a cure for a friend, I found it very engaging. I loved the characters of Dorian the gargoyle, Max the cop and of course, Zoe. It was fun getting into the head of a person who had been around for centuries, although her wardrobe choices were questionable.  Gigi Pandian creates a mystery complete with red herrings and colorful cast while we enter into the world of alchemy and backward alchemy. Enjoyable Read!

Click on Me for Signed copies of both books in the series (The Accidental Alchemist and The Masquerading Magician), an Accidental Alchemist mug, and a set of recipe postcards.

Click on Me for Signed copies of both books in the series (The Accidental Alchemist and The Masquerading Magician), an Accidental Alchemist mug, and a set of recipe postcards.

Happy Homicides: The Valentine Edition is Coming!

heart-stamped-letterBetsy, my heroine from the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, will be back for Valentine’s Day with another novella in the cozy mystery series Happy Homicides.  I can’t show you the cover yet, but I can tell you it will be jam packed with new authors as well as some new favorites you might have found in the last edition, Happy Homicides the Thanksgiving/Christmas Edition. With a price tag of only 99 cents, the book flew off of Amazon’s virtual shelves!

In this edition, the writer’s theme was Love Gone Wrong, and of course, the little town of Pecan Bayou does that well!  I decided for this story I would give Betsy the all-time worst Valentine’s gift…ever…in the history of true love. Can you guess what it might be?  When I do reveal the gift, I have an admission of guilt to make. I gave my husband, the patient one, a similar version of this gift for Christmas.  I haven’t received any letters from lawyers yet, so I think he has forgiven me.

Our cover reveal will be on January 29 on the USA Today blog, Happily Ever After and I will sharing the cover here as well.

 

 

Graphic found on My Cute Graphics

 

The Joy of Writing With Other Writers

Mystery Writer's LightbulbHow many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

What a silly question, they want a dark and stormy night.

Last year I was tickled pink when Joanna Campbell Slan asked me if I might be interested in being a contributing writer in an anthology. Eventually the project came together as a  Christmas anthology to be named Happy Homicides. So there I was, watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July writing about Christmas. My very favorite kind of story to write has always been set at Christmas. Even before I started my Pecan Bayou series, I usually wrote a Christmas story every year.  The psychological boost I receive every Christmas season from heartwarming tales of hope and renewal is awesome, so creating my own story was just plain good for my soul. Of course, this was a mystery anthology which meant every story had to have a homicide, which is not very renewing, but that was okay. This was the first Christmas mystery I have written and truth be told, I hated to put the murder in!

I grew up loving authors like Faith Baldwin and remembered thinking Stephen King was wicked…but wonderful. So when I write my Christmas stories, I try to channel a little Faith and maybe a little faith as well.  I was writing my yearly story, but this time I was in a group of other storytellers. Here are some of the benefits I received from this project.

I found a  knowledge base of writing, publishing, and marketing in the other writers. Every question that was asked by anybody in the group led me to learn something. When writers spend time creating their own little worlds, it can be easy to forget to come out of the clouds and see the rest of world. There have been dinners when my family discussed what went on during the day, and I would tell them about what happened in Pecan Bayou.  They always gave me a look like, “You know it’s not a real place, right?”  Many of these writers in the group were bestselling authors and way up on the food chain from me.  Some of the information I gleaned from them was better than what I’ve learned at writing conferences. Then, as we grew closer to publication time, they pulled out their marketing resources. Again I was astonished.

I’ll admit, I’ve always been pretty cautious of co-writing and partnerships, but in this case it was pretty painless.  Joyfully, my readers reaped the benefits. They found a new Pecan Bayou story with Betsy Livingston, but they also discovered the characters Kiki Lowenstein, Cara Mia Delgatto, Savannah Martin, Neil Plakcy’s dogs, Nancy Jill Thames Teddy series, the wonderful prequel to a new series by Camille Minichino and so much more.

So, maybe the Beatles had it right when they sang, “Everybody come together, right now…”

Good news! If you’ve already finished the Christmas anthology, Happy Homicides, there is a Valentine’s anthology in the final stages right now. I’ll keep you posted on this one, and yes, there is new Pecan Bayou story coming, just for you.

 

Photo found on Morgue File and used with permission

Waves of Suspense is Out in Paperback!

WavesofSuspense_CoverThe Houston Writer’s Guild just published their first paperback and my story “Luscious” is a part of it. Have you ever taken down old wallpaper and worried about what might be lurking beneath it? Denny and Carolyn Elliot find a mural of a woman they name “Luscious”. Trust me, they should have left those ugly sunflowers up there. This is a short story I won first place with in their writing contest! The other contributors are talented members of the Houston Writer’s Guild. Waves of HoustonWritersGuild_WavesofSuspenseSuspense is in paperback now, but hopefully there will be an ebook version in the future.

We attended a social evening with members of the Houston Writer’s Guild and when one of the writer’s asked my husband what he writes, he answered “Mostly checks”. Have to love the guy!

How They Celebrate Life in a Small Town in Texas: EmilyAnn’s Story

I love to create worlds for my characters in Pecan Bayou, a town situated somewhere in the Hill Country of Texas. Over Thanksgiving my family and I drove through the winding roads admiring the changing the leaves,  but dropping in on a friend helped me to remember just why I  write about this area.

We visited the EmilyAnn Theater and Gardens up in Wimberly, Texas. Here is a little of Emily Ann’s story from the family’s website.EmilyAnnGardens

On December 21, 1996, Emily and her best friend, Maria Kasper, were on their way home from San Marcos when they had a head-on collision with another vehicle. Emily and the other driver were killed instantly, and Maria suffered severe injuries. No one witnessed the collision, and no cause was ever determined. Emily was buried at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery on December 23.  The Rolling family was, and has continued to be, overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and support from the Wimberley community and beyond.

Emily’s parents decided to give something back to the community of Wimberley and to the Theatre participants Emily loved. They founded the EmilyAnn Theatre, a non-profit organization dedicated to the building and maintaining of a new outdoor theatre for Wimberley High School’s Shakespeare Under the Stars program. The program will now also include scholarships, internships, and workshops. Their dream is for the EmilyAnn Theatre to be a place where young people can find friends, hope, hidden talents, acceptance, accomplishment, confidence, knowledge, patience, and a host of similar assets and virtues.

Here is the wonderful thing I took away from visiting this little hill in Texas that does an incredible job of celebrating life. The community of Wimberly has adopted this twelve acres  and made it their own. Parents of children who have passed, veterans, local restaurants, churches, scouts and clubs take the month of December to put up light displays in honor of everyone they hold near and dear to their hearts. We had our son Andrew with us, and we rejoiced the high school Life Skills class had a display . People with special needs are embraced by the Rolling family and are regular visitors to EmilyAnn Gardens. Rebecca, EmilyAnn’s sister, said they get thousands of people who walk through the displays every year. The cost to share in this simple outpouring of love? It’s free.

Emily Ann Theater and Gardens is a fine example of  what small communities do best.  If you find yourself in the hill country this December and are searching for just a little of the love and warmth that goes with the holidays, pay a visit to EmilyAnn Gardens, and don’t forget your tissues.