Posted in Mysteries, New Releases, Novella

New Release: The Lost Macaw by B.L. Blair

The Lost Macaw by B. L. Blair

The Lost Macaw is the fourth novella in the Lost and Found Pets series. Alexandra Prescott is a licensed private investigator specializing in finding missing animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.

A former client hires Alex to find her lost parrot. The bright colored bird has flown away before, but this time there is evidence that Molly was kidnapped. The demand is simple—the bird for the pictures.

When her client suffers a stroke, Alex is left with a ransom note, a missing bird, and some very incriminating photos. She is in a race against time to solve the mystery of the lost Macaw.

Excerpt:

“Your little old lady is quite interesting, Alex,” Halie said.

“What do you mean?”

“She didn’t exist until about thirty years ago.”

“What?!”

“I did a preliminary background search on her. In general, she is clean. No debt. The house is paid off as is her car. The one thing that jumped out at me was the fact that she had a safe deposit box at four different banks.”

Luke raised one eyebrow. I got a sinking feeling. I had noted the bank accounts but hadn’t really given them much thought.

“Yeah,” I said, “I saw those.”

“So why does an eighty-year-old woman need four safe deposit boxes?”

“Why does she need more than one?” Luke muttered.

“Exactly,” Halie said. “So I dug a little deeper.”

“What did you find?”

“About thirty years ago, Joseph and Trudy Kearns purchased the house on Carriage. Back then, it was a new neighborhood, and the prices were cheap. They paid cash. They also opened a bank account, and Joe got a job working for the city. Those are the first records I can find for either one of them.”

“Trudy would have been fifty at that time. Her husband probably a few years older. What about birth certificates? Social security cards?”

“They had them, but conveniently, they were issued from a small county in Virginia where a massive flood destroyed all their records. The county office was in the process of moving the old paper records to electronic when the flood hit.”

“Let me guess. The Kearns’s records did not survive the flood.”

“Nope.”

“So the only records for them are the ones they had in their possession.” I paused a moment. “Do they look real?”

“Yes,” Halie replied.

“So they could be authentic.”

“Or really good forgeries. In some ways, it was easier back then.”

“Anything else?” I asked.

“Not really. Lives on a fixed income of social security and a small pension from her husband’s job. It isn’t much because he only worked for the city for twelve years before he had to retire.”

“Okay, thanks Halie.”

After ending the call, I looked at Luke. He had a perplexed look on his face that I had a feeling mirrored mine.

“Who the hell is Trudy Kearns?”

Available on Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords.

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Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

Running Out of Time Blog Tour – Author Spotlight of Suzanne Trauth

I am pleased to have author Suzanne Trauth of Woodland Park, New Jersey, here to speak about her writing and book, Running Out of Time, which is on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book.

Suzanne Trauth, Harvard Studio, Montclair, NJ. 06/27/2014 Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com

Welcome, Susan. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you’ve been published with and if you have any self-published titles?

I spent a long career in academic theatre – nonfiction – before I began writing my mystery series so my first books (an acting text and play anthology) were published in the decade before I published my fiction. My Dodie O’Dell mystery series published by Kensington Publishing consists of three books now – SHOW TIME (2016); TIME OUT (2017); RUNNING OUT OF TIME (October, 2017, my most recent release). I have not self-published.

Very nice. Can you please tell us about your series and any upcoming releases you have planned?

RUNNING OUT OF TIME (October, 2017) is my most recent release. Currently I am writing book four in my mystery series – JUST IN TIME – due out September, 2018.

I’m also writing Book 4 in my series, but I’ve been waylaid by writing number one in a new series.

Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

In the next few years I will publish books 4, 5, 6 in the mystery series: September, 2018; 2019; 2020. Since my contract with Kensington Publishing specifies dates when the books are due, my contract will help me reach my goals to meet the deadlines!

I’m sure that’s helpful but also a bit stressful, I would imagine.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

I am hoping to attract anyone who likes a good mystery, especially a cozy mystery – small town life, a strong female sleuth, a healthy dose of humor. My books also feature a community theater and a restaurant – food and plays!

How interesting, great subjects for a cozy mystery series.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

I suppose first of all don’t give up…persist! But also find a great editor who can help you develop the book and give you some submission advice. Finally, search out readers you trust who can offer you an initial, objective assessment of your book.

Good advice.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

I struggled to define my genre. I was straddling two genres before a very savvy and insightful editor set me on the right path: how to write in the mystery genre. I also was challenged – like many writers – by facing rejection until the stars aligned and I was blessed with an editor and then a publisher.

I also had problems with genre. I believed the first book of my series was a romantic suspense novel, but reviewers considered it a cozy mystery, so I took their opinions to heart and went on to create my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series. I have a novella and stories in other genres but they still feature cozy-like themes and characters.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

Since I also write plays, I take writing classes in that genre that keep me working on a defined schedule. I belong to a book club, a group of very perceptive readers; I’ve discovered that reading broadly is one of the best things I can do as a writer. I imagine that all of the fiction I read pours words and ideas and structures into my brain! Reading nurtures the writing.

As an avid reader and librarian as well as an author, I agree with that completely.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

When I am not writing, I teach in an acting studio for a small group of performers. I am a celebrant and very much enjoy presiding over weddings in my area. I travel when I can; it’s a great way to absorb material!

Yes, travel allows you many great experiences from which to draw for writing.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

I enjoy the creative, freewheeling fun of first drafts. Letting my imagination go wild! The discipline of revision through multiple drafts is more challenging. Some days I struggle with distractions…email, Facebook…I have to turn technology off! Some days I sit in front of my computer for an hour or so before I can sink into the writing.

I, too, enjoy the creative aspects of putting my ideas on paper and also find revisions more challenging. However, promoting and marketing are my toughest challenges. Even more so is finding the time to do everything.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

In writing the Dodie O’Dell mystery series, I have fun creating the world of a small town – Etonville, NJ – and visiting the same cast of characters with each book. In each book the Etonville Little Theatre is rehearsing a different play so I get to play with each production!

That must be a lot of fun for you. I also like creating the quirky characters of Cobble Cove and seeing them develop from book to book.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?

Sure…

    The temperature was dropping and the wind was picking up. I flipped up the hood of my jacket and stared down the street. It wasn’t late—not even eight o’clock—but the darkness felt as if it was well into the night. I began to retrace my steps up the street. A few yards into the alley I noticed shadows to the right of me. The backyards of houses that faced the street where Sally and I had sat in her car and talked. A few bare trees with snow-laden branches dipped to and fro like dancing skeletons. I hadn’t noticed how eerie this back lane was earlier. I was too busy trying to keep up with Sally. But now, a spooky sensation creeped me out. The only sound, at first, was the scraping of my boots on the slushy gravel, stones and chunks of ice rubbing against each other. Then I could swear I heard an echo of my footsteps. I turned backward and saw nothing; never mind, I told myself, and broke into a light jog. My hairs began to twitch and my heart pounded. Every step I took seemed to be answered with another one, a fraction of a second behind mine.

     I was puffing heavily, cold air painful in my lungs as I increased my speed. I could see the end of the alley just ahead and almost laughed. In my relief I didn’t detect the sheet of black ice in the middle of the lane. I’d missed it trailing Sally, but now I was moving quickly and carelessly. Unknowingly, I placed one foot on the ice and skidded forward, landing face down on the gravel and freezing mud. I could taste the muck on my lips and my left cheek felt raw and sore. My ears were ringing; I knew I wouldn’t be able to hear someone stalking me. I rolled onto my back and faced the night sky, the moon covered in a sheer layer of clouds, and battled to stand up and regain my footing. I gingerly moved to the end of the alley and onto the street. The diner was up ahead on my left, the car wash on my right. I must have looked a fright—two young guys left the diner, poked each other and smirked at me. I ignored them and ran across the street. I fumbled with the door key and collapsed into the front seat, gasping. The street was uninhabited now. The diner had posted a Closed sign in the window. Could it all have been a figment of my overactive imagination? Bill would probably think so…

     I turned the key in the ignition and the engine sputtered as it had done on many occasions in the last few days. But this time as I cranked the motor, it wouldn’t turn over. I pumped the gas pedal and tried again. The Hyundai stubbornly refused to start. My dread returned. I didn’t feel safe in a deadbeat car on a street that was deserted in a town I wasn’t too familiar with. If I had to call for help how was I going to explain my presence here? Meaning, what would I tell Bill if I got caught texting and meeting with Sally? Not to mention how mortified I’d feel with my face in this state. I switched the ignition key to Off. The evening had been a bust and all I had to show for it were a scraped cheek and a split lip that was swelling slightly. I rested my stinging face on the steering wheel and my great aunt Maureen’s words came to mind: Dorothy, you must accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days you are the statue. Right now I swore I could hear wings flapping.

Excellent. I enjoyed that very much. Lots of action and character development.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?

Periodically, I run contests on Facebook and Goodreads. Please check them out and enter! Recently, I asked readers for their favorite recipes and received some really delicious and interesting dishes that will be featured in book four: JUST IN TIME.

I also run contests during Facebook events, and I recently sponsored an Amazon giveaway. I also have a Facebook Chat group and newsletter where I feature a contest each month. One of my contests was also for a recipe that was included in my second book.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.

You can contact me through Facebook or my website. I’d love to hear from you!

Website: suzannetrauth.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneTrauth/

Thank you. It was nice speaking with you, and best wishes on your series and blog tour. I am including your blog tour page and rafflecopter giveaway link below.

http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/upcoming-great-escapes-book-tours/running-time-dodie-odell-mystery-suzanne-trauth/

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/02887792645/?widget_template=56d5f80dbc544fb30fda66f0

 

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Cozy Series, Freebies and Special Offers, Written in Stone

Holiday Promo – 3 books, 3 days only – 99 cents each – December 1, 2, & 3

The Cobble Cove mystery series is on sale for 99 cents per book. Don’t miss this holiday special running December 1, 2, and 3.  Purchase them all for less than $3. Great to give as gifts, too.

myBook.to/Stonesthrow2

The first book of the series featuring librarian Alicia Fairmont who travels to the small town of Cobble Cove, New York in search of answers about her dead husband’s family and the mysterious hit and run accident that killed him . . . or was it actually murder?

myBook.to/CobbleCove2

It’s holiday time in the small town of Cobble Cove, New York, but the mood is anything but merry because three crimes have hit the town including the kidnapping of baby twins. myBook.to/CC3ebook

A dead body in the library’s mystery section . . . . A missing cat . . . . A strange, beautiful woman who has returned from Alicia’s husband’s past. How are these all connected? Find out in Book 3 of the Cobble Cove mystery series.

Posted in Cozy Mysteries, Freebies and Special Offers

Tis the Season for Gifts and Parties – Check out my Holiday Specials for This Week

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, the next few weeks online and in stores will be devoted to sales, special offers, and holiday events including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and #givingTuesday. Authors such as myself seek to make their books appealing as gifts and to attract readers by sponsoring giveaways and other special holiday deals. This week I am hosting an Amazon giveaway, a 99 cent deal on each book of my Cobble Cove mystery series, and a Facebook holiday party with 12 other authors at which books and other gifts will be won by guests. I am also taking over at another Facebook party where I’ll be offering some additional prizes. Read on for all my specials.

My latest Cobble Cove mystery, Written in Stone, is part of an Amazon giveaway for a free paperback edition. US residents only. To participate in the giveaway, follow the instructions in this link. https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3c142ec83149825a

Alicia McKinney is confused . . . .

Was the strange email her husband received from the fictional detective in their mystery series a threat? Did the killer mistake the woman shot in the library for Alicia or the victim’s twin sister?

Cat vs. Dog . . .

After Sneaky goes missing from the library, will he turn up before a young girl becomes ill with worry over his disappearance? And will he return in time to outsmart Fido by being first to find the perpetrator’s smoking gun?

Alicia is worried . . .

While waiting for the killer’s next move, Alicia has other concerns. An old flame of John’s is in town and her friend, Gilly, has adopted the role of Miss Marple to aid her sheriff boyfriend in his investigation.

When all clues point to one of her co-workers, Alicia joins Gilly in searching for the answers to the mystery.

Will they survive . . . .

or is their ending written in stone?

I am offering all 3 ebooks of my Cobble Cove mystery series for 99 cents each (Less than $3 for all 3). Offer good only on December 1, 2, and 3.

myBook.to/Stonesthrow2 myBook.to/CobbleCove2 myBook.to/CC3ebook

On Friday, December 1, my character cat, Sneaky and I along with 12 other authors are hosting a Cozy Holiday Paw-ty on Facebook from 2 to 9 pm EST. For information and to RSVP, visit this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/937992293019499/.

On Saturday, December 2, I will be taking over at the 12 Slays of Christmas Boxed Set Extravaganza from 7 to 8 pm EST.  Check out this event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/122185258461170/

I hope you all enjoy the holiday season and take advantage of my special offers. Thank you for your interest in my books. I am busy working on several new titles for the New Year.

Posted in Anthology, New Releases

New Holiday Anthologies and Novellas

 

A Winter Holiday 2017

The winter holidays are fast approaching. Even the weather is cooperating, giving us cold days and nights, rain, sleet, snow, even icy roads. What better way to get into the spirit of the season than grabbing your very own copy of Solstice Publishing’s A Winter Holiday 2017, or one of the two standalone novellas: An Interrupted Holiday and Lost Soul Barren Holiday 1?

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B077J5FKJW

Text messages send Halia on a quest.

Can he capture wondrous enchantment?

An unusual stranger captivates Gina’s heart.

Time travel via Victorian mistletoe.

Will Sara Anne find a daddy by Christmas?

A rip-roaring ride through a Hawaiian Christmas.

Never Was Mrs. Claus Rocks!

What happened on your best New Year’s Eve?

Follow your heart, trust your instincts.

How does Emlyn Goode celebrate Christmas? Food, friends… and murder.

The incredible talents of Eddie Edwards, Leigh Podgorski, E.B. Sullivan, Debbie De Louise, Jeannie Sharpe, Justin Herzog, Gloria Weber, A.F. Weeks, A.A. Schenna, and Susan Lynn Solomon combine in this holiday anthology. Be prepared to experience the winter holidays as you never have before, with tales that will make you laugh, cry, and remember what the spirit of these holidays is all about.

https://youtu.be/y07ee7a5oXA

And what about those standalone novellas? The first is a winner from Donna Alice Patton, set in her favorite time, those exhilarating days of the Wild West.

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B077J7WB74

In the icy crevices of a blizzard and his heart – James’ Montfort will learn that the invisible world is never too far away.

K.C. Sprayberry offers us her latest series of teens overcoming trouble and discovering that the winter holidays can be good with Lost Soul Barren Holiday 1.

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B077J3Q3C3

The neighborhood knew what Cody Allen Luther endured on a daily basis for five long years. Everyone except Brandy Mason turned their heads. After all, it was a parent’s right to discipline their child. On Christmas Eve, 1969, Cody finally can’t take the brutal abuse any longer, but not for himself—his mother turns her unreasonable anger on his younger stepsiblings and he makes a life changing decision, killing her instead of allowing her to keep hurting his family.

Only one person has ever understood the why Cody reacted as he did that Christmas Eve of 1969. Brandy Mason will do anything to protect Cody, even stand up against classmates willing to petition the governor to have Cody tried as an adult for murder once he is released from juvenile detention.

We at Solstice Publishing hope all of your holidays are wonderful and fun. If you’re stuck inside because of inclement weather, these stories will warm more than your heart.

 

Posted in Cats

After Oliver – Life Goes on but the Pain Lingers

It’s been a week of ups and downs for me. It started out on a heartbreaking note last Saturday when I had to say goodbye to my handsome 17-year old cat, Oliver after only 4 1/2 short but wonderful years together. Oliver had been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney disease two years ago but had been leading a comfortable life up until August when a vet visit showed a weight loss of three pounds and some bloodwork revealed the progression of the disease to Stage 4. He remained asymptomatic, but cats are very adept at hiding their discomfort. I also noticed he continued to lose weight, especially in his hindquarters, despite eating well.

At the end of October, Oliver began acting very lethargic. He wasn’t mowing or purring and, while he still slept with me, he no longer came up by my pillow. He also had difficulty walking. His hind legs became weak, and he could no longer jump up on my bed but cried for me to lift him up. He become fussier with his food and would only eat boiled chicken or cat food heavy in sauce. Consulting a vet, we tried several days of fluid therapy, but there seemed to be no improvement in his condition. The last day of his life he hid on the floor behind my headboard, and I knew he was letting me know it was time for him to go to Rainbow Bridge.

After I said goodbye to Oliver, in my sorrow, I thought about a story I had written last year for the Solstice Publishing fantasy anthology, The Realms of Fantastic Stories. It was also published as an eBook. The story was a tale about Rainbow Bridge, a place where pets are supposed to be reunited with their loving human after they die. I asked my publisher if this book could be put up for free in memory of Oliver. I had not intended the book to become a bestseller and never imagined it would become an International one, but it ended up being #1 in the U.S. Amazon category for fantasy and science fiction short reads and also in the top 100 in the United Kingdom and Canada. Although I made no money off these sales, I received two 5-star verified reviews and made many new friends worldwide, some of whom sent me private messages about the loss of their own cats. Amid my sadness, I was happy to know that I’d helped others who were grieving for their special fur babies.

Something that most people don’t know about me is that, in addition to being a librarian and author, I also own and operate a pet memorial center in the virtual world of Second Life. I joined Second Life initially to meet librarians from around the world who were part of the Community Virtual Library group. However, a year after I joined, my cat Floppy passed away. With the help of a few other librarians, I created Rainbow Gardens Pet Memorial Center, a beautiful place that features a pet viewer with photos of real-life pets contributed by residents of Second Life. I’ve just added Oliver to the viewer. Although I’m not as active in Second Life as I used to be because of my writing and other offline commitments, I still maintain the memorial center by adding seasonal decorations and pet photos as requested.

There are other virtual memorials. One where pets can be remembered in a variety of ways is online at https://www.rainbowsbridge.com/

Although you can purchase an annual Rainbow Residency for your pet, the Monday candle lighting services are free. I will be participating in one for Oliver this Monday, November 12, at 9 p.m. Anyone who has lost a pet either recently or in the past can also join in. Information on how to do this is included at the website.

On a brighter note, some nice things happened to me last week. My publisher sent me the date I would start working with an editor to prepare my recently signed mystery novel, Reason to Die, for publication.

Amazon also approved my Kindle Scout campaign for my psychological mystery/thriller, Sea Scope, that is running until December 8. I’ve had quite a few nominations for this book already and am hoping to be offered a publishing contract at the end of the campaign. If this happens, everyone who nominated the book will receive an e-copy. For more information and to vote for the book, click on this link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2372SIVNZ28O0

 

Posted in Cats, Monday blogs, Older cats

Saying Goodbye to Oliver

Saturday was a very sad day for me. I had to say goodbye to my 17-year old cat, Oliver after a week of seeing him decline from kidney disease. Oliver was diagnosed two years ago with Chronic Kidney Disease. He held up well until August when his physical showed a weight loss of three pounds, down from fifteen pounds to eleven, and his blood work confirmed that he was now in Stage 4 of the disease. A few months before that, he had begun yowling early in the morning. I’ve heard that senior cats do that sometimes, but looking back, I think it was part of his illness.

Last week, Oliver began to lose weight even more rapidly especially in his hind legs that were now so weak he had difficulty walking down the hall to his water bowl, climbing up on my bed, or on the table in the outside enclosed room where he liked to sunbathe. I was boiling him chicken every day and feeding him in bed. He would meow to let me know when he needed to be lifted up. Otherwise, he was very quiet. He would hardly purr when I petted him and would no longer sleep near my pillow where he used to sleep every night. He appeared listless and depressed. His beautiful blue eyes had sunk into his face. His fur was dull, and he hardly cleaned himself. I recognized all these signs as the dehydration he was suffering from by his failing kidneys. It brought back memories of my cat, Benny, who at eight-years old suffered kidney failure and went into a coma. My mother and I had been treating him with sub-q fluid injections under the skin, but he was not responding. I raced home from work that day when she called me to tell me he was in a coma and carried him wrapped in a blanket on my lap to the vets where he was helped along to Rainbow Bridge. The vet told me he was on his way already, but at least I got to spend the end with him. I vowed to do the same with Oliver if it came to that, but I wouldn’t let it go that far.

I was lucky to have a vet come to my house to check Oliver. She was compassionate and visited us every day to give him fluids and help make him comfortable. Friday night, she explained to me that Oliver wasn’t going to recover and that it was up to me when I was ready to say goodbye to him. At this point, he was barely making it around the house. He was not having a quality of life. The following day, I had to work. A few hours after I started, my husband called to tell me that Oliver had gone behind the headboard of my bed. I knew that hiding in a dark place was a sign that a cat was preparing to die. I rushed home and contacted my vet. When she came over, she helped me take Oliver out of his hiding place. She told me he was letting me know he was ready, so it would be easier for me to make my decision to let him go in peace.

We placed Oliver on his cat bed outside on the patio where he’d loved to sit and sun himself, and the vet administered a sedative to relax him. I stood by him brushing, kissing, and talking to him. When she gave the dose that would send him to Rainbow Bridge, she let me have some moments alone with him and then took out a kit where she made a set of paw prints and clipped some fur. Although I’d buried my other cats, I’d decided to have Oliver cremated, and she said she would take care of this for us but that it would take about three weeks to get his ashes.  I had also purchased a pretty urn in which to store them because I knew the time was arriving when I would need it. I planned to keep it in my room where he always stayed waiting for me when I got home from work and when he slept with me with his paw on my pillow, and I would stroke his handsome chest.

That’s the story of how I said goodbye to Oliver, but there’s more to his story than that. Oliver was a special cat to many people, and he appeared in two articles I wrote for Catster.com. The following is how Oliver came to us as a senior cat of 13 and how he gave us four and a half wonderful years. http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/what-i-learned-senior-citizen-cat-adoption.

The second article is one that won me an award from Hartz in the Cat Writers Association contest. http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/brush-your-cat-for-bonding-beauty-and-better-health

I also wrote a story last year called, The Path to Rainbow Bridge, in which a Siamese cat is the one of the main characters. Many of my cats are featured in this tale, and I am offering the eBook copy free from Monday, November 6 to Friday, November 10, to those who have lost their own beloved pets.

In addition to these articles and that story, I also feature a Siamese cat in my Cobble Cove mystery series. Sneaky the library cat is based on Oliver. I have also included a Siamese of the same name in my upcoming standalone mystery, Reason to Die, which will be published by Solstice Publishing and am currently writing the first book of another cozy mystery series that I plan to dedicate to Oliver.

To end this post, here’s a poem I wrote for my sweet Oliver:

Ode to Oliver

There’s a spot next to my pillow that’s bare.

Oliver always used to sleep there.

He loved me to stroke his chest.

Of all my cats, he was one of the best.

He was a handsome Siamese cat.

There was no doubt about that.

Although we only had him four years,

I can’t help shedding so many tears.

His favorite spot was his cat bed.

It’s so hard to believe he’s dead.

He did such cute things in the past,

like fishing in his water bowl where he made quite a splash.

He loved to be brushed,

and his fur was so lush.

His loud voice in the morning was my alarm clock,

Losing him is still a shock.

But he’s out of pain now on Rainbow Bridge waiting for me

with my other special cats who one day I will see.