My publisher recently came up with an idea for promoting our writing in a non-sales pitchy way. Each Thursday and Friday, a group of Solstice Publishing authors write a short tweet on Twitter based on the photo of the month. In March, that photo was of a cowboy, but it also included some other steampunky images. Here are the tweets I came up with for each week for those of you who haven’t seen them on Twitter or who haven’t caught them in order.
We were part of a top-secret government mission assigned to a time-travel trip to the Old West. My partner, Palmer Jackson, was a smart, techy guy with a nice back side but a blunt tongue. We’d had a brief fling when we first joined the unit.
Palmer was dressed for our mission with a Stetson hat and cowboy boots. It was his third trip to the past; my first.
“Emily,” he said. “There’s nothing to worry about. We’re only there for a day.” Didn’t he realize the dangers of the Wild West?
They’d warned us that the time-travel teleport was still in its beta stages. Our trip was safe, but the Old West we landed in was not the one I knew from history books and movies. A raven the size of a dinosaur greeted us on the barren landscape.
Palmer drew his gun, but I told him not to shoot. I faced the raven. The huge bird opened its beak and said, “Welcome to Planet Rodeo.”
“Planet?” Palmer gave me a curious look, his hand on his gun, “We were sent to the past, not to another world.”
The raven regarded us through its beady black eyes. “Obviously, your time-travel trip went askrew. From what planet do you folks hail?”
Palmer eyed the bird warily. “We’re scientists from Earth. I’m Palmer Jackson and this is Emily Grant.”
Emily couldn’t believe Palmer was speaking with a raven. The bird opened its beak again and said, “My name is Reo. I am but one species inhabiting this world. Some are deadly, so beware.” He flapped his wings and flew away. “What now?” Emily asked.
Palmer pointed toward a hill. “That way. We’re explorers. Let’s explore.”
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. We prepared for the past, not another world. We should go back.”
“And how do you propose we do that? Our teleport link is broken.”
If she wasn’t so afraid, Emily would laugh at Palmer in his cowboy duds scaling the mountain. She’d asked him how the teleport link had broken and whether they could fix it. He said it had disintegrated. Their only hope lay beyond the mountain.
Emily followed Palmer up the mountain. When they reached the top, they looked down upon the world the raven Reo had called Rodeo. The land below was a barren plain except for a huge door. “Wonder what’s behind that?” Palmer asked.
The door was tough to budge despite their combined efforts. After several yanks, it gave swooping them into a vacuum. Emily screamed as they plummeted down into the lab from where they started. Palmer said, “Rats! I didn’t even get a bull ride.”
To Rick Atwood’s dismay, the police find a body on the beach near his Seaside Cove B&B. The dead woman held a pottery shard from an ancient rice bowl, which the cops believe is a clue to her murder.
The chief suspect is Flynn O’Connor, a female archaeologist known for her hatred of treasure thieves. Trouble is, Rick’s daughter Alex sees Flynn as a role model and will not believe her friend is a killer.
Alex pressures her dad as only a ten-year-old can to prove Flynn is innocent. The mayor is also making demands—for Rick to stay out of the investigation. With his daughter and the mayor at odds, Rick sees trouble brewing. He knows too well how much Alex loves sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Especially when there’s murder involved.
About the Author
Terry Ambrose is a former skip tracer who only stole cars when it was legal. He’s long since turned his talents to writing mysteries and thrillers. Several of his books have been award finalists and in 2014 his thriller, “Con Game,” won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. He’s currently working on the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series.
Uneasy Prey (A Zoe Chambers Mystery) by Annette Dashofy
About the Book
Uneasy Prey (A Zoe Chambers Mystery) Cozy Mystery 6th in Series Setting – Pennsylvania Henery Press (March 27, 2018) Paperback: 286 pages ISBN-13: 978-1635113204 Digital ASIN: B078RWM8S1
On the way to the emergency room, an elderly woman regains consciousness long enough to inform paramedic Zoe Chambers that her fall down the basement steps was no accident. Before she can say more, she succumbs to her injuries, launching Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams into the investigation of a burglary ring targeting the area’s vulnerable senior citizens.
Zoe—in spite of Pete’s objections—takes it upon herself to act as protection detail after the con men, disguised as water company employees, set their sights on Zoe’s beloved former landlady. It’s a decision that eventually puts Zoe in harm’s way.
With Zoe already recovering from one close call, Pete must race against time to stop the crime ring—and a dangerous killer—before they strike again.
About the Author
Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2014 and BRIDGES BURNEDwas nominated for the 2015 Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel. UNEASY PREY, the sixth in the series, is set for release on March 27.
Someone is strangling disabled people in the small town of Baxter, Connecticut. Detective Courtney Lang and her ex-partner and ex-lover, wheelchair-bound Bill Thompson, are paired up again and put in charge of the investigation. During the course of their search, Courtney uncovers information that points toward a connection between the murders and an unsolved series of muggings by a masked man, the same man who shot and disabled Bill a year ago on the night he proposed marriage to her.
Complicating matters for Courtney is her guilt about Thompson’s shooting, her affair with her new partner, Mark Farrell, and her unresolved feelings over the deaths of her mother and sister who perished in a fire while she was away from home.
As the deaths accrue and the “Handicapped Strangler” as the killer is coined by the press continues to rampage the town adding victims of different ages, sex, and disabilities to the murder count, Courtney discovers a clue that could crack open the case but may put her and Bill’s life in jeopardy.
As Agnes walked to the bathroom now, she tapped her cane around in habit. She knew the twenty steps down the hall by heart. She had her own built-in GPS. But the cane was a comfort, a guide she hesitated to give up.
When she was through taking care of her needs, she started back to the living room. Chirpy suddenly began squawking. She thought he was resting. Something had stirred him. Then she heard a noise by the front door. Someone was on her step.
“Settle down, Chirpy. Looks like we have a visitor,”she said as she cut across the room to answer the light knock. The bird continued to squawk. She wondered why he was so excited.
“Who is it?” she called when she got to the door.
A male voice replied, “Talking Books delivery for Ms. McCarver.”
How very strange. She’d had a delivery of the audio books last week, and they usually only arrived once a month in a box delivered by the mailman. Maybe there had been a mistake.
“I haven’t ordered any new books,” she said, “and they usually come in the mail.”
“No mistake, Ma’am. Talking books are being hand delivered now. Can you please open the door and take them? I have several more stops to make today.”
Agnes hesitated a moment. Chirpy had finally quieted down. Edna would probably scold her for letting a stranger in the house just because he claimed he had audiobooks for her, but he sounded nice enough. He sounded a lot like the kind librarian from the Helen Keller Library who visited yesterday.
Reaching up, she unlatched the safety lock and then twisted the doorknob. She heard the man step forward. He closed the door behind him and then pushed her to the ground. Her cane flew away. She tried to grab for it, but it was out of reach. It happened so fast, a scream lodged in her throat as he put his gloved hands around it and squeezed. From a hazy distance of fear, she heard Chirpy start squawking again. The pressure on her throat tightened. She couldn’t yell or even talk. Blackness engulfed her as the gray shadows of her limited sight dissolved. All she could hear in those last moments were Chirpy crashing against his bars in a useless attempt to free himself and the bad man’s raspy breathing against her cheek as he squeezed the life out of her.
Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, the Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her novels include the three books of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series published by Solstice Publishing: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and Written in Stone. Debbie has also published a romantic comedy novella featuring a jewel heist caper, When Jack Trumps Ace, and has written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres. She lives on Long Island with her husband Anthony, daughter Holly, and Cat Stripey.
Leaving behind a failed career as a magazine editor and an embarrassing stint on a reality baking show, newly divorced lifestyle entrepreneur Hope Early thought things were finally on the upswing—until she comes face-to-face with a murderer . . .
Hope’s schedule is already jam packed with recipe testing and shameless plugs for her food blog as she rushes off to attend a spring garden tour in the charming town of Jefferson, Connecticut. Unfortunately, it isn’t the perfectly arranged potted plants that grab her attention—it’s the bloody body of reviled real estate agent Peaches McCoy . . .
One of the tour guests committed murder, and all eyes are on Hope’s older sister, Claire Dixon—who, at best, saw Peaches as a professional rival. And suspicions really heat up when another murder occurs the following night. Now, with two messy murders shaking Jefferson and all evidence pointing to Claire, Hope must set aside her burgeoning brand to prove her sister’s innocence. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer intent on making sure her life goes permanently out of style . . .
Includes Recipes from Hope’s Kitchen!
About the Author
Debra Sennefelder, the author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series, is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.
Born and raised in New York City, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in pre-hospital care, retail and publishing. Her writing companions are her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy.
She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Romance Writers of America.
I sponsor a contest in my newsletter each month. For March, in honor of spring, I asked my subscribers to answer the question, “What books are on your spring reading list?” Below are some of the responses. If you want to comment with your own list, please do. If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, sign up before April 2nd. to be notified of the next contest. You can sign up at https://debbiedelouise.com or send your email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can add you to the list.
Check out these books on my subscriber’s Spring Reading List (I’m happy to see that two of my Cobble Cove mystery books are included):
Welcome, Gerry. 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’ve been published with Berkley Prime Crime (PRH) for 17 years. I write three different cozy mystery series – the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. I’ve written forty-two books in all and most have been on the New York Times bestseller list as well as the Publisher’s Weekly and USA Today bestsellers lists.
Very impressive. Can you please tell us about your series and any upcoming releases you have planned?
All of my books are cozy mysteries, with three hardcover books due out in 2018. Plum Tea Crazy (Tea Shop) published on March 6, Glitter Bomb (Scrapbook) will be out in October, and Eggs on Ice will be out in December.
Plum Tea Crazy Book Description:
As tea shop owner Theodosia is viewing Charleston Harbor’s Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow’s walk of a nearby mansion, a local banker tumbles over the narrow railing and plunges to his death. But this tragic accident turns sinister when Theodosia discovers that the victim was actually shot with a crossbow. From New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs, Plum Tea Crazy delivers a gripping, realistic murder, a raft of quirky suspects, and a good dose of humor and tea lore. With pacing that moves like a thriller, it’s one of the reasons Book Riot named the Tea Shop Mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.”
Sounds like another bestseller to me.
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?
My goal as a cozy author is to always amuse, entertain, and create a calm, almost uplifting experience, for my reader. I also love to intersperse tidbits about antiques, fashion, and tea lore, as well as recipes.
You seem to have done a wonderful job meeting your goal. I’m sure readers love all the little extras that you include.
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
My readers tend to be female, although I receive many emails from male fans. And because my books are of the cozy genre – a kinder, gentler mystery – I like to say they are g-rated. Good for girls to grandmas.
As a cozy author myself, I find that a perfect description for the genre.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
My advice to would-be authors is two-fold. One, pay attention to the genres that are selling today. Publishers tend to be copy cats, so if domestic thrillers are red hot, that’s probably what they’re looking to buy. And two, realize that this is a business. If and when you manage to get published, the work has only just begun. You’re the one who has to go out there and market your book. I always look at my work as a 60/40 proposition – sixty percent writing, forty percent promotion.
That’s quite interesting. It’s so true that many new writers don’t realize that getting published is only the beginning of the work they need to do. Since I’m not yet published with a large publisher, I find that I spend a higher percentage of my time on marketing than writing, but I hope to balance that out one day soon.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
Luckily, no challenges in getting published. Mystery great Mary Higgins Clark was gracious enough to help me find an agent and a publisher!
Wow! Maybe I should ask her to help me. (only kidding) but it definitely is difficult finding an agent these days, and it’s so true that networking with other authors is beneficial.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?
I don’t belong to writing groups because I believe in keeping all my ideas and concepts to myself. In my former life, I was CEO of a major ad agency for twenty years. Never in that time did I ever share my ideas/concepts with my competitors!
A good practice.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
When I’m not writing I try to spend as much time as I can relaxing at a beach house in Carmel, CA and going to rock concerts (Sixties and Seventies groups).
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
The best thing about being an author is walking into a bookstore and seeing forty-plus titles on the shelves. My least favorite thing is the fairly solitary lifestyle.
Seeing all those copies of your books must be a thrill. I hope to experience that one day myself. Although being an author can be solitary, it’s nice that the Internet allows us to be in touch with fellow authors and our readers worldwide.
What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?
I love cozy mysteries because I’ve been able to stretch the genre by quite a bit. My cozies have become a kind of hybrid – what I now call a “thrillzy.” This means my cozies are still based on traditional cozy values and guidelines (amateur sleuth, no gratuitous violence, etc.) but I’ve imbued them with the action and pace of a thriller. That means scenes that include car chases, bodies tumbling in the surf, drones shooting down hot air balloons, rogue killers, alligators, haunted cemeteries, the supernatural, and even a food truck chase.
That’s an interesting comment. For my first cozy, A Stone’s Throw, I considered it romantic suspense and had no intention of creating a series out of it. Then readers began reviewing it as a cozy, and I liked the characters so much that I decided to continue their story. Three books later, I’m still writing about the folks in Cobble Cove.
I’ve seen how cozies can be “stretched” as you said. I even believe my standalone mystery, Reason to Die, that’s coming out soon might be considered what you termed a “thrillzy.”
Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?
Excerpt from Plum Tea Crazy, my newest Tea Shop Mystery:
“Someone’s fallen!” a woman screamed.
Theodosia spun quickly and peered over the edge of the roof. Off to her right, twirling head over tea kettle, a man hurtled down the sloped, slate roof of Timothy’s house as if he were zipping down a child’s slide.
“Help!” the falling man cried as he flailed and fought for hand holds. His pleading, anguished note pierced the darkness. Pierced Theodosia’s heart as well.
“Dear Lord!” Theodosia cried. She hoped the poor man would find something, anything, to break his fall.
“This is dreadful,” Drayton said with a sharp intake of breath.
They watched helplessly as the man flopped and tumbled, then landed in a deep V that formed one of the eaves in the expansive roof. His arms flew out, beating wildly, as his fingers scrabbled desperately to find something to grasp. But he was moving too fast to completely arrest his fall and immediately catapulted down another few feet, heading for a decorative balcony. The man floundered again, making a grab for a balustrade to halt his terrible descent. His fingers grazed it by a mere inch. Then his body torqued grotesquely as he banged his forehead against the top of a stone window pediment and a thin mist sprayed out in slow motion. Blood.
Now I see what you mean by thrillzy. That’s an excellent example.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Laura Childs is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Scrapbooking Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Recently, Book Riot named the Tea Shop Mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In her previous life Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.
Thank you. It was truly a pleasure speaking with you. Best wishes on your new release and blog tour.
Hi, it’s Regan Summerside from Duffy Brown’s Consignment Shop mysteries and I have to tell you that spring in Savannah is like no other…except this year it’s not all for the good. The Abbott sisters are accused of murder!
I ask you, how could two little old ladies who were once school teachers in a Catholic school of all places and now retired and supplement their income as professional mourners for the best funerals in all Savannah be accused of murder!
Okay, they might have been swindled by that no good Willie Fishbine who doesn’t have a decent bone in his body but to think the sisters did the deed when there are so many others out there who could have done it is plum nuts.
What about Willie’s daughter? She’s the one prancing around with that younger guy. She’s the one who’s had so much plastic surgery it’s hard to tell where her chin ends and her boobs start. And what about Anna and Bella? They want to get their aging and oh-so-rich husbands in Sleepy Pines they are more than willing to kill off a few residents to make room. I see them going in old Willie in a heartbeat.
Auntie KiKi is beside herself with worry that Annie Fritz and Elsie Abbott will go to jail for a crime they didn’t commit. In fact Auntie KiKi has made up a new martini recipe called Get Out of Jail Free. I’m giving it all to you in case you find yourself in such a mess…or in a rousing game of Monopoly.
Wish me luck on finding the real killer. Over and out from Savannah.
Auntie KiKi’s Get Out Of Jail Free Martini
(delish with or without booze)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange chocolate
1 teaspoon sugar
2 orange slices
1/2 cup premium chocolate ice cream, at room temperature for 5 minutes
One question my readers always ask me is “How do you write a novel?” I usually respond, “You write a novel one page at a time.”
When writing The Russian & Aunt Sophia I did not start out to write a novella. I actually had a 50,000 plus word manuscript about the time I decided to enter the 2017 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Contest. The entry could not exceed 20,000 words. It was challenging to take a 50,000 word manuscript and trim it down to less than 20,000 words. But in the process I learned to let go of words. It was very painful. A lot like downsizing from a house you have lived in most of your life. You have to let go of your grandmother’s china because it won’t fit in your new home and to your surprise no one in the family wants your grandmother’s china. It hurts and if you have that mindset and you are a writer it is painful to let go of those words you cherish but you have no choice if you want to write fiction in today’s market.
Last year I found a new editor when I decided to re-edit my first three novels. Live and learn is part of the life of an indie author. I have learned quite a bit about the craft of writing through the process of re-editing my first three novels and working with my new editor. One thing was I tend to write way too much backstory or in other words TMI. Readers get bored and will not finish a book if the plot does not move along and they stop reading and do not finish the novel or worse leave a negative review.
I also learned that my readers don’t need to be spoon fed because they are an intelligent group of individuals not children. After I entered the ScreenCraft competition my editor suggested publishing it as a novella. So I did and hence The Russian & Aunt Sophia became a novella.
Two of my favorite characters Sister Hildegard and Sister Matilda return in The Russian and Aunt Sophia. I hope my readers enjoy the book as much as I did writing it. Here’s a short scene:
“I heard a horn honking and turning to look, I saw Sister Matilda driving a big SUV with Sister Hildegard riding shotgun. I grabbed my carry-on bag and jumped into the back seat. Like most airports today loading and unloading means you take a flying leap as the car picking you up passes by.
“Who does this SUV belong to?”
“A friend of Ernie’s,” Sister Matilda said.
“It has diplomatic plates.”
“He’s in the CIA,” Sister Matilda said, “according to your Aunt Anna.”
“Yes,” Sister Hildegard spoke now, “but a lot of good that does picking someone up at the airport. No way would the airport cops let us park and wait. We’ve been circling the airport for a good half hour.”
“You didn’t park in the cell phone lot?”
“We forgot our cell phone,” Sister Hildegard said looking sternly at Sister Matilda who made the sign of the cross. “So, we’ve been driving in a loop. Your plane was late,” Sister Hildegard said.
“You don’t need a cell phone to park in the cell phone lot,” I said prompting Sister Hildegard to give Sister Matilda an even sterner look. Sister Matilda was a walking encyclopedia of information. She apparently missed this one.”
The Russian & Aunt Sophia was chosen as a Quarter-Finalist in the 2017 SCREENCRAFT Cinematic Short Story Contest.
“The Russian & Aunt Sophia is a very unique and delightfully quirky tale of mystery and murder. The locations are vivid and fun, the characters are engaging, and the plot is very solid and effective. The Russian & Aunt Sophia would work immensely well as a cinematic adaptation.” SCREENCRAFT
Check out the Amazon Kindle Countdown for the novella and 1st book of the series here:
Chocoholic Charity Penn must smoke out the killer to stop her newly inherited beachside chocolate shop from going up in flames in Dorothy St. James’ decadent follow-up to Asking for Truffle.
Chocolate shop owner Charity Penn is finally settling into life in the quirky South Carolina seaside town of Camellia Beach cooking up chocolate treats. She’s even helped organize the town’s lively beach music festival which has brought rollicking crowds eager to dance the Carolina shag. That is, until one of the band’s lead singers is found dead beside a beach bonfire.
While also trying to balance the amorous attention of music star Bixby Lewis, in town for the festival, and her quest to perfect a new hot flavored bonbon, Charity dives into the investigation. Though it’s more spice than sugar when she discovers a threatening note, comes across decades of age-old secrets, and Bixby comes into the line of fire when a gas grill explodes on the deck of a beachfront house.
Now Charity must turn up the heat and catch the killer before her chance melts away in Playing With Bonbon Fire, the delightful second Southern Chocolate Shop mystery served up just right for fans of JoAnna Carl and Joanne Fluke.
About the Author
Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a neurotic dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.
Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.
* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of the award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”