Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post by Rodney Laws about How To Take Advantage of Your Time During Lockdown

Some Of The Things That Lockdown Has Given Us More Time To Do

by Rodney Laws

Image credit: PxHere

It’s easy to get lost in the despair and uncertainty of a world besieged by a pandemic. Enough weeks have passed since the first stay-at-home orders were issued that it can no longer be dismissed as a blip. Instead, we must view it as the new state of normalcy, expecting the lifting of restrictions to be glacial and accepting that social conduct may never revert to type.

In these conditions, though, we must focus on the positives — and there are positives to be found if you’re willing to consider them. It’s easy to see why you might be reluctant to do so with so many people dying or seeing their livelihoods ruined, but there’s no sense in adding to the misery by dwelling on the negatives. Life must be embraced.

And while lockdown measures have left social lives in tatters and left people feeling isolated emotionally as well as physically, getting to stay at home has been beneficial for some: and it can be beneficial for others if they’re willing to try. In this article, I’m going to talk about some of the best things that lockdown has given us more time to do:

Work on our writing

So many of us aspire to be decent writers, and many more just want to tell some basic stories that reflect their lives (either directly or indirectly), yet more often than not we leave it as a possibility: something to try one day. Eventually, we tell ourselves, our schedules will clear, obstacles will disappear, and we’ll be ready to put in the time and effort needed.

Some don’t actually believe that, of course — they just like the idea of writing far more than they do the reality of it, but they’re unwilling to admit it to themselves so they come up with excuses. But some really do expect to spend their twilight years learning to be decent writers. If they’re proactive, though, they needn’t wait that long.

What better time to start writing than now? You have creative inspiration aplenty from the complex circumstances. Relationships are being strained or strengthened, lives are changing, and you can focus in a way you ordinarily couldn’t. With your new-found surplus of free time, why not start writing about your experiences during this lockdown?

Attack our reading lists

Great writers must first be voracious readers, naturally, but it can be hard for even the most dedicated readers to keep up with recommendations while they’re busy dealing with other things. Is there a particular novel you’ve been putting off because you want to give it your full attention? A long-running series you’d like to get through in relatively-quick succession?

If you want to buy paperback or hardback books, you don’t need to go to stores: you can order them online and have them delivered. Alternatively, you can use an ereader like an Amazon Kindle and simply download the titles you want. It’s quick and convenient, so if you wince every time you think about your reading list, take this chance to make a dent in it.

Make smart long-term decisions

If short-term thinking is all you could previously handle during the working week, you’re not alone. When your calendar is packed with events, you need to keep your eyes on the road just ahead of you, and that makes it much harder to make any decisions about what’s over the horizon — decisions that can be hugely important.

Now that you have some time stuck at home, you can make smart long-term plans. You can think about where you want to be in five years, and what skills you want to develop. You can also put effort into tasks that will benefit you over time: tasks like planting fruit seeds in your garden or investing your savings.

You can also audit your finances to look for room for improvement. What are you paying for subscription services? Cancel anything you’re not using. Even your mortgage (if you have one) can be reconsidered: have a mortgage broker find you some quotes, and if you find something that better suits your current financial situation then you can go for it. It might not be fun to put time into these things, but it will make a difference in the end.

Reconnect with old friends

I talked about how relationships have been strained or strengthened, and that was always going to happen. Some people living together have found solace in company, while others have seen their differences drive them to distraction — and those kept apart by lockdown have either become closer because of it or started to feel their connections weaken.

What of old relationships, though? Do you ever think about the friends you’ve lost touch with throughout your life? Some due to petty squabbles, others due to paths simply diverging. A situation like this can produce a lot of nostalgic rumination, thinking back on all the mistakes you’ve ever made and what you’d do given a chance to set them right.

This is that chance. Right now you can be quite confident that almost anyone you care to contact will have some free time to talk to you, and you’ll have shared experiences to talk about without needing to delve into your history together. So why not give that old friend a call, or reach out to them online? You might find some pleasant closure, or you might find yourself resuming that old friendship as though it never ended. People change, and this is a great time to see what that means.

Lockdown has been tough for so many people, and we still don’t know when life will move significantly towards its former state, but we shouldn’t be too fixated on what might change. Instead, we should seek to make the most of the opportunities afforded us by the lockdown measures. It’s the best way to grow and thrive in tough circumstances.

Rodney Laws
Editor at Ecommerce Platforms
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Posted in Cozy Mystery

Spotlight for Hostage to Fortune, A Tea and Tarot Cozy Mystery by Kirsten Weiss

Hostage to Fortune: A Tea and Tarot Cozy Mystery
by Kirsten Weiss

About Hostage to Fortune

Hostage to Fortune: A Tea and Tarot Cozy Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: misterio press (May 21, 2020)
Number of Pages: 250
Digital ASIN:

Abigail and Hyperion uncork a murder…

Tea and Tarot room owner Abigail Beanblossom is used to running interference for her socially-awkward former boss, tech billionaire Razzzor. So when he invites her on a stakeout to investigate the sale of counterfeit wine from his latest venture – an upscale winery – she barrels on in. But the two stumble across the corpse of a wine merchant, and new wine in old bottles is now the least of their problems.

Good thing amateur detectives Abigail and her partner, tarot reader Hyperion Night, have a nose for murder. Their investigation takes them from elegant wine cellars to chic tea parties on the California coast. But just as the investigation starts to get its legs, Abigail discovers there’s more than wine at the bottom of this crime…

Hostage to Fortune is book 2 in the Tea and Tarot cozy mystery series. Start reading this hilariously cozy caper today!

Tearoom recipes in the back of the book.

About Kirsten Weiss

Kirsten Weiss has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. The latter gives her heartburn, but she drinks it anyway.

Now based in Colorado Springs, CO, she writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.

If you like funny cozy mysteries, check out her Pie Town, Tea and Tarot, Paranormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of Doyle, Riga Hayworth and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.

Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at

Feel free to follow her on Twitter @KirstenWeiss, on Tumblr at kweiss01, on Pinterest at KirstenWeiss, or on Bookbub, get in touch on Facebook, post a picture of this book to Instagram and tag her @kirstenweissauthor, or send her an email. She’ll answer you personally…which may be a good or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.

Author Links

Twitter: @KirstenWeiss


Instagram: @KirstenWeissAuthor


Book Series: Sensibility Grey Steampunk Suspense, Tea and Tarot cozy mysteries, the Pie Town cozy mysteries, the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum cozy mysteries, the Doyle Witch and Doyle Cozy mystery novels, the Riga Hayworth paranormal mysteries.

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May 20 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

May 21 – I’m Into Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 22 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – REVIEW, GUEST POST

May 22 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

May 23 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

May 23 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Lisa Ks Book Review – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 25 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

May 25 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 26 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

May 27 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 28 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 29 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST


May 30 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 31 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 1 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

June 2 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Freebies and Special Offers, Sea Scope

Special 99-Cent Deal on the Spanish Version of Sea Scope by Debbie De Louise

The Spanish translation of my psychological mystery, Sea Scope, is available as a .99 Kindle download from 5/25 thru 5/29. This book received a 5-star review and a silver medal from Readers’ Favorite, a cover award from Top Shelf Magazine, and was a finalist in the mystery category of the Author Academy Awards.

Download Spanish edition for .99 via Amazon

Overview / Description:

Sarah Collins necesita un escape.

Mientras sufre el duelo por la muerte de su hermano y la inminente ruptura de su matrimonio, regresa al hogar de su infancia en Carolina del Sur, donde su familia regentaba una posada.

Sarah no había regresado a Vista al Mar durante veinte años; desde que ella y su hermano Glen descubrieron un cuerpo cerca del faro.  Ella nunca comprendió por qué sus padres se marcharon de Vista al Mar tan repentinamente, ni las razones detrás del suicidio de su padre.

Después que Sarah regresa a la posada, enfrenta recuerdos enterrados hacía mucho tiempo y unas pistas extrañas.  Algo no está bien en Vista al Mar.  Reunida con personas de su pasado, ella intenta descubrir qué está ocurriendo en el hogar de su infancia.

Cuando el pasado y el presente se encuentran, Sarah debe enfrentar las verdades de su familia, y lo que ocurrió aquel a de verano en el faro.  ¿Pero sobreviviría para contar la historia?

Vista Al Mar – Extracto del libro


Posada Vista al Mar, Veinte años atrás

Mi hermano Glen y yo corríamos por las escaleras del faro.  Mi cola de caballo se agitaba salvajemente a medida que mis zapatos deportivos golpeaban los escalones de hierro en espiral.  Como de costumbre, Glen tomó la delantera y yo reduje mi velocidad, con dolor en mis muslos.  Ciento sesenta y siete escalones después me reuní con él en la barandilla, doblada y jadeando.  Con una sonrisa pedante, él estaba allí de pie con sus brazos cruzados y relajado.

—Te gané de nuevo, Sara la tortuga. —Sacó su lengua.

Me enderecé. —Pequeño diablillo.  Se lo diré a Mamá.

Glen volteó los ojos y me dio la espalda mientras caminaba por el borde del balcón, mirando hacia abajo por la barandilla.

Luego se detuvo.

—Ey, ¿qué es eso? —preguntó, inclinándose por encima de la barandilla.

Vacilé.  Lo último que quería era mirar hacia abajo.  Glen, por otro lado, no le tenía miedo a nada.

—Aléjate de allí, Glen.  ¿Qué nos dijo Papá sobre acercarnos demasiado al borde de la barandilla?

—Tienes que venir a ver esto, Sarah.  Hay un hombre allá abajo, —dijo sobre su hombro, señalando el suelo con su dedo regordete.

A pesar de mi estómago revuelto, me asomé por el borde y seguí su mirada hasta un hombre que estaba durmiendo en la hierba arenosa.  Estaba boca abajo e inmóvil, sus brazos y piernas extendidos en ángulo, su camisa a cuadros rota.

Posted in Cozy Mystery, Freebies and Special Offers, Next Chapter

99-Cent Sale on Flower Power Trip, A Braxton Campus Cozy Mystery by James J. Cudney

The 3rd book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries series is on sale for only .99 cents from 5/20 thru 5/24. You can download it to your Kindle here. This book was released on March 30th, 2019 and has been getting rave reviews from mystery fans all around the world. You can visit all the posts from the blog tour the book went on last year.

Flower Power Trip (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
3rd in Series
Next Chapter Publishing (March 30, 2019)
Print Length: 270 pages
Digital ASIN: B07NDK76WF

Description of Book

At a masquerade ball to raise money for renovations to Memorial Library, Kellan finds a dead body dressed in a Dr. Evil costume. Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill the annoying guest who’d been staying at the Roarke and Daughters Inn, or does the victim have a closer connection to someone else at Braxton College? As Kellan helps school president Ursula bury a secret from her past and discover the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his family. Everything seems to trace back to the Stoddards: a new family who recently moved in. Between the murder, a special flower exhibit and strange postcards arriving each week, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority. But unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to be exposed – and when it is, Kellan won’t know what hit him.

Flower Power Trip Purchase Links



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UK Audiobook:


I appreciate watching his character evolution, and as always, his rowdy adventurous grandmother Nana D is a delight.
~Mallory Heart’s Cozies

The characters are all a bit quirky and eccentric, especially Nana D and her friends. They speak their mind and often had me laughing out loud.
~Carla Loves To Read

. . . a fast-paced, fun and enjoyable academic cozy mystery, one that is highly recommended!
~Jane Reads

I love this series! The characters, the setting, the plot lines, everything. This book was no exception. Between the twists and turns of the plot and the subplots becoming more and more mysterious, I was riveted to this book!
~Valerie’s Musings


A postcard with an image of lush sprawling foliage and a rust-covered antique carriage taunted me from the cushy passenger seat of my SUV. I almost veered off the road twice on the drive to campus because I couldn’t peel my eyes away from its persistent glare and blatant reminder of Mendoza. It had to be from Francesca. No one else knew about the remote South American vineyard we’d visited on our honeymoon many years earlier. I shook my clenched fist at the spooky vision of her vanishing in the rearview window. Was she following me everywhere now?

It was Francesca’s seventh message since leaving town and failing to inform anyone she wasn’t returning to Los Angeles. A torturous weekly mystery highlighting her whereabouts but leaving no way to contact her. At first, I thought she’d accepted my decision to remain in Pennsylvania and would wait until her parents, the heads of the Castigliano mob family, discovered a way to bring her back from the dead. Let me clarify—she wasn’t truly dead, but everyone thought she was. Upon getting caught in a vicious war with Las Vargas, a rival crime family, Francesca’s parents had faked her death as the only way to keep her safe. No one else besides Francesca’s parents and my sister knew Francesca was alive.

My wife just needed space to adjust to the changes. For two-and-a-half years, she’d been sequestered in a Los Angeles mansion watching from a distance as I raised our seven-year-old daughter on my own. Emma stayed with her nonni a couple of nights a week which made Francesca feel like her daughter was never too far away, but she couldn’t actually talk to Emma. Once I moved back home, Francesca lost her ability to see Emma and materialized from seclusion hoping to reconcile. Based on the postcards, she was visiting all the places we’d once traveled to together. Perhaps she needed to feel close to me since I’d refused to participate in whatever game her family was embroiled in with Las Vargas. Unfortunately, now that the Castiglianos blamed me for Francesca’s inexplicable disappearance, I anticipated their goons lurking around the corner and following me all the time. Dramatic stuff, huh?

I drove along Braxton’s main street cutting through the center of our charming, remote town and parked in the South Campus cable car station’s lot near Cambridge Lawn, a large open field filled with colorful flowerbeds, bright green blades of thick grass, and moss-covered stone walkways. It was Saturday, which meant graduation day at Braxton College—also my first one as a professor at the renowned institution. Although I’d only been back for a few months, it felt like I’d never left given my mother, Violet Ayrwick, was still its director of admissions and my father, Wesley Ayrwick, had just retired from its presidency. He would co-lead the ceremony with the new president to complete his responsibilities, thus allowing him to concentrate on converting the college into a university.

Although I’d been apprehensive in accepting my professorship, I grew excited about the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends whom I’d hardly seen since originally leaving town a decade ago. When my cell phone vibrated, I clicked a steering wheel button to display the text message on the SUV’s dashboard screen. The previous owner, a family friend who’d been murdered earlier that year, had added all the bells and whistles making it easy to remain hands-free. Was I the only one slightly unnerved by driving a dead woman’s car?

Nana DAre you still coming by after the graduation? I’ve got sticky buns and a broccoli and Gouda quiche for a late brunch… and I’m getting nervous about the race.

My grandmother, known as Seraphina Danby to everyone else, had finished the third and final debate in her surprise quest to become the next mayor of Wharton County, the larger geographical area encompassing Braxton and three other villages in north-central Pennsylvania. She was neck and neck with Councilman Marcus Stanton, her dreaded enemy for reasons she refused to share with anyone. I secretly suspected she was angry with him because of a bad date or his failure to flirt with her once Grandpop had left us for the great big afterlife in the sky.

Me: You’ll be the new mayor. I’m confident. Focus on the numbers. Emma doing okay?

Nana D: Yep. She’s in the stable talking to the horse groomer about finding her a puppy.

Me: Never committed to it! You told her she could have one if we moved into Danby Landing. Not me.

I’d been living with my parents in the Royal Chic-Shack, a huge modernized log cabin they’d built before I was born thirty-two years ago. When it became clear I needed my own space, Nana D thoughtfully suggested a move to her farm’s guesthouse to provide Emma and me some privacy. We’d agreed to give it a chance for the summer, but if it didn’t pan out, I’d look for our own place posthaste.

Nana D: Emma loves it here. She keeps me out of trouble. You and your mother should be grateful.

She was right. Without a chaperone or extensive supervision, Nana D often found herself skirting too close to disaster. I parked the car and told my seventy-four-year-old cross to bear—I mean that as lovingly as possible—to expect a two o’clock arrival. The graduation ceremony would last longer, but I was only making a brief presentation to declare this year’s cable car redesign winner.

Between North and South Campus ran a one-mile electrical track transporting students and faculty back and forth to dorms, academic halls, administrative offices, and other student buildings. The old-fashioned cable car was the only one of its kind in the area and often brought in visitors—and much-needed surplus income—from all over the country. Braxton’s graduating class voted each year to redesign the interior as its outgoing gift to the college. There was a surprise victor this year which would make my friend and colleague, Dean Fern Terry, quite relieved. At one point, she worried an apocalyptic dystopian world of aliens would litter the inside of the two-car transportation system she used daily. It was not happening under my watch. I checked the time, stole one last glance at the ominous postcard, and walked across Cambridge Lawn.

As I approached the last stone pathway, I heard my name being called in the distance. I turned to see Ed Mulligan talking with an unknown bald man in his mid-to-late forties. Dean Mulligan, the head of all academics at Braxton, wore an impeccably tailored three-piece suit—his normal highbrow approach to dressing—and scuttled toward me as if he were in a desperate rush to the finish line.

“Kellan, I’d like you to meet George Braun, a visiting professor who arrived in town a few weeks ago to teach a summer course,” Dean Mulligan said. When the sunlight landed on George’s face, it highlighted the rippled, leathery texture of his skin. Perhaps he suffered from the effects of a recent sunburn or battled a case of rosacea.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Kellan. Dean Mulligan tells me you recently joined Braxton and might lend a new guy some pointers about how to survive on this exquisite campus,” George replied with an unusual accent. Although I was adept at picking up common enunciations, his was a mixture of too many unbalanced inflections to be certain of its origin. There were hints of a gruff Midwest tone with drawn-out vowels, yet I sensed a cultured European style as he finished each of his words.

When Dean Mulligan nodded to confirm George’s statement, his jowls jiggled like Santa’s belly. “I can think of no one else more qualified,” he added with an exaggerated wink.

“Certainly, happy to play tour guide. I’m late at the moment, or I’d stay and chat. I have ceremonial duties for this morning’s graduation.” Upon shaking George’s hand, I noticed he wore a pair of thin leather gloves despite the warm temperatures making it unnecessary. Germaphobe?

I wanted to ask what area he’d be working on given my boss, the indomitable Dr. Myriam Castle, head of the communications department, had brought in a new professor for curriculum redesign and expansion. It was supposed to be a chunk of my role at the college, but she’d quickly made a play for additional money to hire someone other than me to prepare the future vision. Now that my father was no longer the president, but Myriam’s wife Ursula Power was in that role, things were changing.

“Perhaps we could have breakfast on Monday morning? I’m due on campus at ten o’clock to meet with Dr. Anita Singh about the courses,” George explained. A dark gray sportscoat covered broad shoulders and attempted to slim his stocky figure. Given he was noticeably several inches taller and wider than me, it didn’t appear to help.

“That sounds like a plan. Let’s meet at eight thirty at the Pick-Me-Up Diner?” I proposed, knowing it’d lend me an excuse to judge the eatery’s latest renovations.

Dean Mulligan haughtily teased,” Ah, George, you’ll soon come to learn the Ayrwick family has a long-standing establishment in and around Braxton. Eleanor, Kellan’s sister, owns the diner, a favored restaurant by most employed at or attending our fine institution.”

As Dean Mulligan provided directions to George, I caught a puzzled expression on the visiting professor’s face. He muttered something unintelligible before his gaze narrowed and highlighted two ultra-thin blond eyebrows. “Pardon?” I inquired.

“Ayrwick, you said?” he added, cocking his head to the left and focusing on the pastoral landscape behind me. He wouldn’t look me in the face without glancing away. Was he sensitive about his skin condition or his funny way of speaking? I hoped I hadn’t offended the man with my transitory stare and state of confusion.

“Yes, Dean Mulligan’s correct. My family’s been in Wharton County for close to three centuries. I look forward to speaking with you on Monday,” I replied, excusing myself and dashing toward the backstage area to locate Dean Fern Terry. Since she oversaw the graduation as head of student affairs, Fern could tell me when I was needed for the ceremony.

George Braun not only seemed familiar with the name Ayrwick, but I was certain that was concern or alarm etched on his face. After a quick catch-up with Fern, I found a spot on the east side of the stage as the ceremony began. I could stand there until it was time to declare the winner of the contest. Although I knew a few students in the graduating class, I hadn’t been at the institution long enough to serve as an announcer of graduate names nor to deliver any inspirational departing speeches.

Fern initiated the ceremony by reminiscing about the school’s history and highlighting the graduating class’s accomplishments. She introduced Ursula who took the stage to congratulate the outgoing students, then turned it over to my father for his last opportunity to say goodbye to the future alumni. As he spoke, Ursula navigated the stage’s steps like they were a catwalk and headed toward the back of the seating area.

Once my father finished boorishly riffing about something in Latin, Fern commandeered the stage and announced my name. I walked to the center and stood behind the lectern looking out at a mostly unfamiliar sea of people. With over two hundred graduates, the audience teetered around a thousand guests including their families and nearly all the college’s administrative and academic staff. I talked about the process to nominate and vote for different cable car designs, then explained how it was an awfully close race. Only two people had been told the final winner. Ursula and I agreed to surprise Fern with the results given how disappointed she’d be if the apocalypse had won. She’d tried to bribe me with a homemade coconut cream cake at Easter, but I stood firm. Where desserts were my weakness, keeping secrets was my strength.

“It gives me immense pleasure to reveal today’s winner,” I said, pointing and clicking the button on a tiny remote toward the digital screen. “I’ve been a huge fan of these two larger-than-life characters since I was a small boy, and I often find myself involved in solving a few mysteries of my own.” A series of conversations between Agatha Christie’s famed detectives, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, materialized on the large screen behind me. Various quotes and images from the books, movies, and PBS shows would appear inside the cable car to share different interpretations of the characters.

“It’s because you’re our inspiration for solving those two murder investigations,” Jordan Ballantine shouted followed by a bunch of cheers. “We wanted to honor your service to the campus!” Jordan was one of the graduates who’d be leaving Braxton to attend an MBA program in New Orleans.

In my three months at Braxton, I’d solved a couple of murders and been deemed a campus hero. I looked at Fern, Jordan’s aunt, and smiled with humility. We’d come a long way from her disciplining me when I’d been the president of my fraternity pleading forgiveness after various mischievous activities. Fern beamed back at me and lifted her hands in the air as if to say ‘holla’ like the bellowing students. Somehow the image of a sixtyish woman built like a quarterback in a gray pixie-style haircut performing such a move was frightening beyond any comfort.

As I thanked everyone for their votes, I noticed one of the graduates, Sam Taft, speaking with my brother, Gabriel. I’d caught the two of them in a cozy embrace last March shortly after someone had killed Gwendolyn Paddington to ensure an inheritance of the family fortune. I’d been shocked to see my brother after eight years but even more astonished to learn he might be gay. If you’d seen that kiss, there wouldn’t have been any question of might be, but until I spoke with him, I didn’t want to assume. Neither one had realized I’d seen them that day, and for the last seven weeks, I’d kept the information to myself. I didn’t know whether to ask Sam about it or hire a private investigator to track Gabriel.

Once I finished my speech, I sprinted down the steps to interrogate or to hug my brother—still hadn’t decided which one. I tried to reach him, but Gabriel winked and escaped in the opposite direction. Before I could rush off to beg Sam for help, Ursula stepped in the way. “Kellan, I’m glad we ran into one another. I was curious if you found out anything new?” she said with a gleam of hope.

By now, Sam had lined up on stage to receive his diploma, and Gabriel was long gone. I breathed a gulp of warm air and felt my body begin to wane. For the third week of May, the heat had come from nowhere and grown inordinately stagnant. All the comforting breezes were blocked by tall fir trees surrounding one side of Cambridge Lawn and the massive church holding firm on its southern border. I liked the hot weather, but this was intense.

Ursula had recently pleaded for help with a problem involving the past finally catching up to her. I’d learned a lot about my new boss during our conversations, some of which explained the reason she was taciturn about her history and some of which shocked me to the core. Not even Myriam knew about her wife’s tragedy or the years she’d been running and hiding from the truth about her real identity. While I felt the palpitating fear emanate off Ursula’s normally serene exterior, I tried not to judge her for the damage her prior actions had caused.

About The Author


James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.


Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

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Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Posted in Cozy Mysteries, New Releases

Spotlight for Murder in the Wine Country, A Kelly Jackson Mystery, by Janet Finsilver

Murder in the Wine Country (A Kelly Jackson Mystery)
by Janet Finsilver

About Murder in the Wine Country

Murder in the Wine Country (A Kelly Jackson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Underground (April 28, 2020)
Paperback: 178 pages
ISBN-10: 1516104277
ISBN-13: 978-1516104277

Weeding out killers wasn’t part of the job description . . .

Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, is excited to participate in an event to raise awareness for the plight of struggling veterans in their Northern California coastal community. Local wineries are sponsoring tastings, and to prepare for a culinary competition, professional chefs will forage for wild edible greens. Kelly plans to come along, despite a warning to beware of poachers, who have been stealing the highly valued succulent Dudleya farinosa. The senior sleuths who call themselves the Silver Sentinels join forces with environmental activists known as the Succulent Saviors to thwart the poaching operation. When a consultant for the sale of a local winery is murdered, the poachers are suspected—but so is a wine merchant, Kelly’s friend Phil. As Kelly and the Silver Sentinels attempt to root out the real killer, what she digs up might just put her permanently underground . . .

Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs—Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Five books followed with her most recent release on April 28, 2020, of book six, MURDER IN THE WINE COUNTRY.

Janet Finsilver and her husband reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. She enjoys cooking, and a recent attempt to reduce the number of cookbooks in the cupboard wasn’t very successful. She’s an avid reader—of course!

Please feel free to visit and/or contact me on my author Facebook page and my website.

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Review of Love and Ruin, A Historical Fiction Novel of Ernest Hemigway’s Third Wife, Martha Gellhorn, by Paula McLain


Popular historical fiction novelist, Paul McLain, who previously wrote about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife in The Paris Wife, tells the story of Hemingway’s third wife, Martha “Marty” Gellhorn. This book, however, isn’t just a love story. It is also a war story because we follow Marty who, after writing an unsuccessfully-reviewed novel, finds her niche as a war correspondent covering the news for Colliers with her famous husband as her rival.

Marty is courageous, driven, and determined to document the atrocities of the several wars she’s lived through including World War II. While devoted to Ernest, she needs to make her own name among journalists.

I found this novel a riveting, fast-paced, and interesting look at the horrors of war and the personal glimpses into the life of one of America’s most famous novelist. As a writer myself, I related to Marty’s struggle making a name for herself in a competitive field that, at that time, was predominated by male authors. I highly recommend this read to those interested in history, biographies, and realistic fiction.

Paula McLain’s photo from her website

About the Author: From Paula’s website:

Paula McLain is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels, The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun. She now introduces her latest title, Love and Ruin.

Paula McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of various foster homes for the next fourteen years. When she aged out of the system, she supported herself by working as a nurses aid in a convalescent hospital, a pizza delivery girl, an auto-plant worker, a cocktail waitress–before discovering she could (and very much wanted to) write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996.

She is the author of The Paris Wife, a New York Times and international bestseller, which has been published in thirty-four languages. The recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family, Growing up in Other People’s Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, New Releases, Spotlight

Spotlight and Blog Tour for Killing Time, A Dodie O’Dell Mystery, by Suzanne Trauth

Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
by Suzanne Trauth

About Killing Time

Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Press (June 2, 2020)
Number of Pages: 215
Digital ASIN: B07W8ZX8JV

With Halloween just around the corner, Dodie O’Dell is making preparations to transform the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore into a haunted house, while the Etonville Little Theatre is staging Dracula. But casting the titular Transylvanian is proving challenging. The amateur actors in the company are not shy about chewing the scenery, but who among them can convincingly sink their fangs into a victim’s neck? When a mysterious newcomer with a transfixing Eastern European accent lands the part, rumors that he might be an actual vampire start to take flight—not unlike the bat who’s recently been spotted in the town park.

But everyone’s blood really runs cold when a stranger is found in the cemetery with a real stake in his heart. Dodie decides to put her Halloween theme menu on the back burner and stick her neck out to bring the killer into the light of day. She’d better keep her wits about her, though—or Dodie may be the next one to go down for the Count . . .


“It sure looks haunted,” Edna murmured to no one in particular, to the cast of Dracula in general. They were grouped around her on the sidewalk that ran past the old Hanratty place that Carlos and Bella had rented. I’d never been inside though once I’d driven by it when I first moved to Etonville on my way out of town. The house stood on half an acre of scruffy lawn with patches of dried dirt, surrounded by a few straggly trees—minus leaves at this time of the year—and no neighbors. The nearest houses were on a side street some distance away. The three-story building looked as if it might collapse at any moment, its outer walls covered with weathered, gray shakes, the steps to the front door supported by concrete building blocks. There was no handrail. Light leaked out of windows on the first floor. Curtains covering small, circular panes on the third story—an attic room?—quivered. Was someone up there watching us? I shivered. A turret rose upward from the right side of the structure, giving the house a smidge of outdated dignity. A drain pipe dangled loosely from the gutter.

“Let’s go.” Penny corralled actors and nudged everyone forward to the front door. There were six company members, Renfield saying he’d be along later, plus Penny, Lola, Pauli, and me. Strength in numbers.

We crept across the porch cautiously, aware of the creaking beneath us as the flooring shifted with each individual’s footsteps. Penny put out a hand to knock on the door. Before she could hit knuckles to wood, it flew open. “Welcome everyone!” Bella stood in the doorway, a silhouette backlit by muted foyer lighting.

Behind her Carlos stood silently, observing the group huddled in his entryway, like deer caught in headlights.

Lola took the lead, moving graciously into the house. “Thank you. So nice of you to invite us to your home.”

I’m not sure what the members of the Etonville Little Theatre were expecting. Given the exterior and location of the Hanratty homestead, I anticipated something out of a late-night classic horror film.

About Suzanne Trauth

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

Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

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