Posted in retirement

Debbie’s Retirement Life (and St. Patrick’s Weekend special Book offers), Week 12: Day 85, 3/17/23

This is my March blog post about my post-retirement adventures. I’m also featuring two virtual events that I’ll be participating over St. Patrick’s Day weekend as well as a 99 cent offer for Kobo readers.

It’s been three months since I retired, but I’ve gone back to the library on a substitute librarian basis. I’ve been working some nights in Reference and will be working two Saturdays there this month. I’ll also be working a few days in the Children’s department in April.

On Friday, February 17, I had an echocardiogram because I’ve been having palpitations after exercising. This has been an off and on again condition that my doctor isn’t too concerned about, but he scheduled bloodwork and the echocardiogram to be safe. They both turned out normal. I had an eye exam on Friday, March 10. They gave me an ultrasound which I’d never had before. Everything seemed fine, and I have not changed my prescription. They have a retinalogist there now, too, so I was able to see him. He just thinks I need to be checked every six months because of my floaters and cataracts, although he said I don’t need any surgery at this point.

On Saturday. February 18, I went to Planting Fields Arboretum with my daughter and a friend for their Camelia Festival. We had a great time, and I painted a flower. Afterwards, we had lunch in Oyster Bay and took a chilly walk by the beach at Theodore Roosevelt Park. My daughter drove that day. It was her first long drive since getting her license a few weeks ago.

On Tuesday night, February 21, I read two excerpts from my Buttercup Bend series during a virtual Fastnacht Follies presented by my church. In this annual event, church members share their singing, dancing, and other talents. Check out the YouTube video below.

Besides my regular virtual workouts, I also attend webinars. An interesting one was held on Thursday, February 23 by Hillside Library with Northwell Health. The speakers were Executive Chef Manuel (Sonny) Rios, III and Juliet M. Monclova. It featured information about the importance of fiber in our diets and also included sample breakfasts, lunches, and dinners containing fiber-rich foods.

On Thursday, February 9, I attended a Long Island Library Resources (LILRC) webinar on Patrick Bringley’s book, All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me. This was a very interesting talk given by a previous guard at the Met.

On March 8, I participated in a book discussion about The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki at my library’s book club. (Read my review here:

I also read Kristin Loesch’s new, The Last Russian Doll. (Review: I compare this book to the Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah that I read and reviewed last month.

Speaking about books, I’ve nearly finished the first draft of my next Buttercup Bend mystery, The Case of the Llama Raising Librarian. I hope to finish it and submit it to my agent in April. My non-fiction cat book, Memories and Meows, is now on audio. For a free code to receive the audible copy (and to hear the narrator’s cute cat voices), comment below with your email and if you are a U.S. or UK citizen.

I had a manicure and my nails done a shiny green for St. Patrick’s Day and spring.

I worked on Tuesday night, March 14, and monitored a library Zoom presentation about Female lighthouse keepers which I was interested in because of my mystery, Sea Scope, that featured information about lighthouses and lighthouse keepers. The presentation was given by Joann Tofu and included a Powerpoint presentation. She started off with information about various lighthouses and then discussed the female lighthouse keepers who, in most cases, took over after their husbands died. One of the most interesting woman was Ida Lewis, who I also featured in a note in my mystery. She was recognized for her bravery in saving many people whose boats had capsized in rough waters around Newport when she was a keeper there.

Yesterday, I attended the Hicks Nursery Garden Show with my daughter and her friend. This is an annual event. This year’s theme “A Novel Approach to Garden Design” features themed gardens based on book genres. I especially enjoyed the Mystery Garden for obvious reasons.

Today, I’ll be going on a Seal Walk at Jones Beach. More on that in my April retirement blog post.

Last, but not least, I have several book offers for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. My first Buttercup Bend cozy mystery, The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady, will be on sale for only 99 cents through Monday, March 20 on Kobo. You can get this fun book for less than a dollar at

Also, on St. Patrick’s day, I’m giving away a free copy of A Stone’s Throw, my first Cobble Cove cozy mystery on Roche’s Ravenous Readers Facebook group’s St. Patrick’s Party. To be eligible to win  my giveaway or any others, you need to join the group at:

I’ll also be giving away two books at the Tattered Page Book Club’s third anniversary event over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I’ll be posting giveaways on Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19. To participate, join the group at

Thanks for reading about my retirement adventures, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and good luck if you enter my giveaways. I’ll post another update in April.

Posted in Reviews

Review of Identity by Nora Roberts

*Note: This book was an advanced reader’s copy from Net Galley. It will be published on May 23, 2023, and is available for pre-order on Amazon at

****4 stars

I’m a big fan of Nora Roberts and enjoy reading her standalones, trilogies, and the In Death series she writes as JD. Robb. However, I was disappointed by this forthcoming novel. The main reason is that I dislike mysteries that reveal the killer at the beginning of the book. I also found this too slow paced.

At the start, Morgan Albright, a young woman who moved around a lot during her childhood because her father was in the military, purchases a home with a friend and starts to set down roots for herself. She works at a construction company and also bartends at night to help save money to fix up and maintain the house. Just as things are going well, Morgan meets a man at the bar who she begins to date and invites him over for dinner with her roommate, Nina, and Nina’s boyfriend. During dinner, her date excuses himself to use her bathroom. A few days later, Nina comes down with a cold and stays home from her job. Morgan arrives home after bartending to find Nina dead. That’s just the beginning of the horror, as she also discovers her bank accounts have been compromised, her identity stolen, and the man she was attracted to is a serial killer.

As the book progresses, Morgan is forced to give up the house and her jobs in Maryland and move to Vermont with her mother and grandmother. She fears that Nina’s killer, who was after her and stole her identity, will find her and murder her, too.

There’s a long build up before Morgan’s fears are realized. Along the way, she learns important things about her mother and grandmother, gets a job at a family-owned bar, falls in love with a member of the family, and learns to protect herself by taking self-defense lessons.

I felt this book was more a romance than a mystery. It was well written, and I found the last few chapters exciting. Overall, I would recommend this to other readers of Roberts who don’t mind knowing the killer beforehand or a story that takes long to unwind.

Posted in Blog Tour, Spotlight

Spotlight and Blog Tour for Dearly Beloved Departed by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Dearly Beloved Departed: A PIP Inc. Mystery
by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

About Dearly Beloved Departed

Dearly Beloved Departed: A PIP Inc. Mystery
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – California
Good Read Mysteries, an imprint of Good Read Publishers
Number of Pages: 241

Pat is hired by attorney Jason Forman to “get some dirt” on his daughter’s fiancé. Before she gets very far in her investigation, the young man is murdered. Did his past catch up with him or is what Pat fears, that there’s a serial shooter going after Christmas Eve grooms, the reason he was killed? Pat and her fiancé, Detective Sergeant Tim Lindsey, are planning a Christmas Eve wedding which means, if she’s right, he’s on the shooter’s hit list.

About Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Nancy Lynn Jarvis left the real estate profession after she started having so much fun writing the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series that she let her license lapse. She’s enjoyed writing about Regan and her husband, Tom, but decided it was time to do a new series.

PIP Inc. introduces protagonist downsized law librarian and not-quite-licensed Private Investigator Pat Pirard. “The Funeral Murder” is the second book in the series.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, Nancy worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC.

Currently, she’s enjoying being a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Santa Cruz Women of Mystery.

Author Links




Purchase Link – This book’s release has been delayed. Follow Nancy Lynn Jarvis on Amazon so you are notified when the book is available.


March 1 – I’m Into Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 2 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

March 3 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 4 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 4 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 5 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT


March 6 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 7 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

March 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 9 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 10 – Baroness Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 11 – I’m Into Books – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 12 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 13 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

March 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Reviews

Review of the Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch

*Note: This book was an advanced reader’s copy from Net Galley. It will be published on March 14, 2023, and is available for pre-order on Amazon at

****4 stars

I would’ve given this book 5 stars because it’s an excellent read. However, I had a problem following the large number of characters that were included during various time periods of the novel and how they went by different names and nicknames. The main story takes place in 1991. It centers around Rosie White, (Raisa), who attends a book signing by Alexy Invanov, a Russian author. Her interest in his book, “The Last Bolshevik,” is mainly because her mother and she escaped Russia after her father and sister were murdered there by an unknown man. Her mother has since referred to him as “That Man,” but has shared very little with Rosie about her past or why her husband and daughter may have been killed.

Rosie speaks with Alexy after his reading and learns that he needs an assistant to accompany him to Russia to work on another project. Considering it an opportunity to learn more about her past and find out who murdered her sister and father, Rosie applies for the job. Initially, Rosie’s mother, an alcoholic who only tells Rosie fairytales and keeps lifelike porcelain dolls, isn’t supportive of that decision but, on her deathbed, she asks Rosie to go to Russia and find “That Man.”

After her mother’s death, Rosie finds a key inside one of her dolls and a note indicating that it opens a drawer in their old house in Russia. When Rosie travels to Russia with Alexy, he takes her to a house where he leaves her with a man named Levy who is supposedly in charge of protecting her while Alexy is away.

The book then alternates between 1991 and the past, telling a love story that starts in 1916 between a woman named Tonya, married to Dmitry, a rich man who owns a factory in St. Petersburg, and Valentin, a factory worker and revolutionary. It also includes the fairytales told by Rosie’s mother that play a large part in the book. I compared it to Kristin Hannah’s novel, Winter Garden, that I recently read, which also included Russian history.

As Rosie investigates her mother’s background, she learns of a connection between Tonya and Valentin. She begins to suspect that Alexy has an ulterior motive for hiring her as his assistant. She wonders about his identity and starts to have visions of her dead sister, who seems to be giving her clues. She also develops feelings for Lev, even though she’s left her fiancee back in England.

This story is multi-layered. It involves a love story, Russian history, and much more. There are two big twists at the end that I didn’t see coming at all.

Posted in Spotlight

Spotlight and Blog Tour for A Deadly Combo by Karen A. Phillips

A Deadly Combo
by Karen A. Phillips

About A Deadly Combo

A Deadly Combo: A Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery
Traditional/Cozy Blend
1st in Series
Setting – California
River Rock Press (March 1, 2023)
Number of Pages: 270

What do boxing and vintage trailers have in common? Rocky Nelson.

Meet Raquel Nelson (AKA Rocky), a retired single woman with an attitude. In Rocky’s opinion, independent ruffians, relentless heat, wildfires, and unhealthy AQI are all part of living in the Sierra Foothills of California.

Sisters Rocky and Bridget are enjoying each other’s company at a vintage trailerfest until they stumble over a corpse. The dead guy is none other than the local trailer restorer and Bridget was overheard threatening to kill him. Mounting evidence leads police to focus on Bridget as a person of interest. Desperate to prove her sister innocent of murder, Rocky dons her own deerstalker cap and goes sleuthing. Rocky knows a little about the job requirements, having caught her sister’s last husband in an illicit affair. Detective Thompson is on the case and isn’t happy about Rocky poking around, and lets her know in no uncertain terms. But Rocky is tenacious if not stubborn. Combined with a 78-year-old father who insists on assisting, Rocky uses her courage and skills from boxing lessons to protect her family and keep from becoming the killer’s next victim.

This is the first book in The Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery Series – a perfect series for lovers of small town mysteries with a cozy-noir feel featuring boxing and an amateur sleuth who will stop at nothing to save the lives of those she loves.

About Karen A. Phillips

Author Karen A. Phillips lives in Northern California and writes humorous, fun, action-packed mysteries. She has several short stories published in various anthologies. Her characters are engaging and fearless. “A Deadly Combo” is her first full-length novel. In real life, Karen takes boxing lessons but would hesitate if she had to punch anyone in the face. Let’s face it. Karen wouldn’t last one round in the ring.

Author Links

Website: Facebook: KarenAPhillips/Author Instagram: kannphillips Twittter: @phillips_writes

Purchase Links – Coming Soon


March 1 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 1 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 2 – Mythical Books – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 2 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 3 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

March 3 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST


March 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 6 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 7 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – ebook addicts – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 8 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

March 8 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 9 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 10 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

March 10 – I’m Into Books – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Reviews

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Merriweather Post by Allison Pataki

*****5 stars

This historical fiction account of Marjorie Merriweather Post’s life is both an absorbing and fascinating read. I gave it an extra star because I attended Long Island University on the C.W. Post campus and am familiar with Hillwood Commons and the Hutton House lectures, all of which I now know the stories behind.

This book was an eye opener about Marjorie Merriweather Post, the cereal magnet’s daughter, who married four times, built several homes across the country with her fortune, lived through two wars, traveled to Russia during Stalin’s reign, was friends with many famous people, and generously gave of her money and time by volunteering for different causes.

The story was told well, although I found it meandered in certain parts, but that might have been because I prefer other faster-moving genres such as mysteries. In any case, the author did a wonderful job bringing Ms. Post to life and the time in which she lived. If you’re a historical fiction fan or one who enjoys reading biographies, you’ll like this book. It’s also recommended for Post students and graduates who might want to learn more behind the woman who once lived at their school.

Posted in Blog Tour, Cozy Series, Interview

Interview of Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Bakeries and Buffoonery, the Fourth Magical Mystery Book Club Cozy Mystery

Today, I’m interviewing one of my favorite cozy mystery authors, Elizabeth Pantley from Washington state.

Welcome, Elizabeth. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

I’ve been writing parenting books for over twenty years with McGraw Hill, and am the author of twelve popular parenting books, available in twenty-seven languages, including the best-selling No-Cry Solution series. I began writing cozy mysteries when my youngest graduated from college and now have published ten mystery books in two different series: Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic, and the Magical Mystery Book Club.

Interesting. I haven’t read any of your parenting books, but I love both your cozy mystery series. Please tell us a little bit about them.

I have two magical cozy mystery series. The six-book collection for Destiny Falls, and the four available books for Magical Mystery Book Club. I’m now writing a novella for the book club series that will be part of an anthology – along with a dozen other prolific, well-known para-cozy authors! I’ll be sharing info about that soon in my newsletter.

 That sounds great. 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?

I’ve found my rhythm writing these books, and four new ones per year is a schedule I can work with. I set out to write two books per year, so I’m chugging along at twice my goal! These books are so much fun they almost write themselves!

Wow! That’s wonderful. I know that feeling with my own two cozy series, the Cobble Cove and Buttercup Bend mysteries. It’s amazing how plots seem to come together, almost like magic, and how characters can lead stories forward.

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

I write for anyone who enjoys a lighthearted cozy mystery with main characters you’d love to be friends with. I would say my style is more along the lines of magical realism. The worlds in my books are ones you recognize and aren’t so different from yours – except that a vampire, shifter, or fairy lives in your town!

I love that. It makes your books so much fun.

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

I think Stephen King said it best. He said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” I suggest you read every day from the genre you wish to write in. Pick highly rated books with enthusiastic reviews. Then write, even if it’s not fantastic from page one, it will get better with practice.

 Excellent advice.

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

My path has been different from most because I wrote non-fiction for over twenty years. When I switched to fiction, I found it to be a whole new ballgame! I had to learn so much, it was a major pivot in my writing career. I did it one step at a time. But I’m getting the hang of it!

I think you’re doing terrific.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I am a member of Sisters in Crime – which provides an amazing amount of support and camaraderie. I’m also a member of several Facebook writing groups so daily doses of friendship and support.

I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime. It’s a great group.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I enjoy the wide outdoors. Hiking in nature is my favorite non-work activity. My four adult kids are hikers, climbers, and mountaineers – so I’m always getting an invitation to try something new!


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

What I love most is creating fun experience for my readers – taking them away to another world for a grand adventure. I love reading reviews!!! I’ve been lucky that the vast majority are very positive, and those bring me great joy. I have an entire Wall of Fame in my office with all my favorite reviews posted!

My toughest challenge is handling all the marketing and administration. It takes a lot of time away from writing, but it’s critical to getting my books out to the world, so it’s time that must be taken.

I think most writers feel the same way about the business side of writing. I really like your idea of a Wall of Fame. It sounds like a perfect way to keep inspired.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

Oh, my gosh! Absolutely everything! Writing stories, reading reviews, meeting my readers! It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my work life.

It’s such a good thing to love what you do.

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

Of course! I would be happy to! Here’s a snippet from Bakeries and Buffoonery!


A rhythmic tapping on the wall started somewhere near the front door. It moved down the hall toward us, and then Frank, our dashing Siamese library cat, burst into the room with the swagger he was so good at. The tapping continued, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor in a pulsating beat. He started to shimmy his shoulders and hum a tune. As if that wasn’t odd enough, he began to rap.

“Book club day is here.

Adventure, do you dare?

Tell me where we’re goin’

But I don’t really care.

Dead bodies they are waitin’

For some investigatin’

Lead the waaay—”

He looked up and stopped mid-rap, his extended claw in the air. He saw me and Glo sitting at the counter. His entire demeanor drooped.

“Seriously?” he grumbled. “That spectacular entrance and only two of you are here to witness it? What a complete and total waste of talent.”

“You could always go outside and wait. Come back when more of the group has gathered,” I suggested, taking a relaxed sip of my tea.

“Nah. The freshness is lost.” He jumped up onto the counter. “How about you make up for it by brewing me a pot of coffee?”

“What exactly are we making up for?” asked Glo, her brows lifted in question.

“Your lack of enthusiasm. Your inability to appreciate the art. Your failure to acknowledge the artist.”

“I won’t admit to any of that, but I can make you a pot of coffee,” I said.

“Thank you, Paige.” He took a deep breath, sat down, and settled in to begin grooming his tail.

“I’m happy to see that you’re so excited for book club day.” I took out a small bowl and a container of my favorite creamer, the one I knew he loved, too. I held up the bottle toward him. “You know this stuff isn’t good for you, right?”

“And yet it’s good for you?” His whiskers twitched. He walked across the counter, leaned over to look at the bottle and squinted at the label. “Corn syrup, mal-toe-dextrin, mono-digly-cerides, carra-gee-nan—”

“Yes, yes. I’m aware of the ingredients, but I don’t care to be reminded of them. I like the front label better: Caramel Cinnamon Cream.”

“But I don’t see caramel, cinnamon, or cream on this label, Miss Paige-o-paper. You told me you shouldn’t eat things you can’t pronounce.”

“And you could learn to keep those kinds of thoughts to yourself, because frankly I don’t give a—”

Glo snickered, then covered it with a cough.

“Do you want this delicious caramel cinnamon creamer in your coffee or not?” I asked the cat.

“Did I ever say I didn’t? Load me up, girl!”

What a great excerpt. Thanks for sharing. I just love Frank, the talking cat you created. He reminds me of my library cat, Sneaky who is also Siamese but only talks currently to the other pets in my book but has his own blog where he actually interviewed Frank. Their interview can be found here:

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

Every book in the Magical Mystery Book Club series can be read as a standalone, but it’s more fun to read them in order, so you can learn how the book club was created and meet the characters as they appear in the stories.

Excellent. That’s the same way with my two series. I try to include enough back story, so people aren’t lost, but it’s always better to read them in order if possible.

 Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc.


Amazon US

Goodreads: Magical Mystery Book Club:

Goodreads: Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic

Newsletter Sign-up:


International Amazon Links:



Thanks so much for the interview, Elizabeth. I’m sharing your blog tour for Bakeries and Buffoonery.

Bakeries and Buffoonery: Magical Mystery Book Club
by Elizabeth Pantley

About Bakeries and Buffoonery

Bakeries and Buffoonery: Magical Mystery Book Club
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Small Midwestern Town
Independently Published (February 15, 2023)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 310 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BLLCTKCM

It’s a magical book club! When this group chooses a book, magic happens. The mystery comes to life, and they find themselves part of the story. To exit the book and get back home, they need to solve the mystery and reach The End.

This time, the club chooses a book called The Great Cake Rivalry, because, well … cake! They read the back cover and it’s unanimous. So off they go into another grand adventure into a town aptly named Frosting.

Frosting is a rural town in an idyllic setting. The people live quiet lives most of the year. But in the spring, things change. The Annual Cake Competition becomes the focus of every man, woman, and child. They take this competition seriously. The cakes are spectacular. The festival is fabulous. For a week there are contests featuring all kinds of cakes. The people of the community become official tasters and vote for the winning cakes in each category.

The grand finale is a display of finely decorated cakes, made by the town’s bakeries. The winner of the best design receives a prize package that would make any baker dizzy.

Sadly, this event has been tainted. Once a year, each one different, but all somehow related to this event, a person is murdered. The main investigator is stumped, but that could be because he’s an inept buffoon.

Can the book club help the people of this community figure out who is causing this disturbing pattern of deaths, and stop another murder from happening? Can they figure out why some of the citizens dress so oddly, and why they always wear those unique backpacks? All while they fill themselves to the brim with cake, of course.

About Elizabeth Pantley

Elizabeth Pantley is the internationally bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents, published in over twenty languages.

She simultaneously writes the well-loved Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic book series and the new Magical Mystery Book Club series.

Elizabeth lives in the Pacific Northwest, the gorgeous inspiration for the setting in many of her books. Visit her and sign up for her newsletter at

Author Links

Newsletter Sign-up:

Purchase Link – Amazon

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February 20 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

February 21 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

February 22 – I’m Into Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

February 23 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

February 24 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

February 25 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 26 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

February 27 – Elza Reads – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST

February 28 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

March 1 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 2 – Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT

March 2 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW

March 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR GUEST POST

March 5 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Blog Tour, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones by Heather Weidner

Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones: A Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery
by Heather Weidner

About Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones

Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones:
A Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Virginia
Level Best Books (January 17, 2023)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 277 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BS9ZN3DG
GoodReads Link – Coming Soon

When a beat-up suitcase full of bones washes up by the pier, the residents of the quaint resort town of Mermaid Bay are whipped into a hurricane-sized frenzy over the gruesome find in the middle of their Christmas in July festivities. The holly jolly mood retreats like the tide with everyone wondering who was in the suitcase.

Christmas shoppe owner, Jade Hicks, wades into the fracas when voodoo dolls and mysterious notes and posters about impending doom start popping up all over town, threatening to destroy the economy of a community that lives and dies by tourist dollars. Then tensions crest when the prickly bookstore owner is found strangled to death with a string of holiday lights.

Jade and her French bulldog Chloe, have to solve the crime before anyone else gets hurt and her business and the festival are forever tainted.
Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones is the first in the Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries cozy series.

Six Things I Learned from My Dogs

By Heather Weidner, Author of STICKS AND STONES AND A BAG OF BONES

All of my cozy mysteries have fuzzy sidekicks. In my latest, STICKS AND STONES AND A BAG OF BONES, Chloe, the French Bulldog helps Jade Hicks run her Christmas Shoppe. Chloe thinks she’s in charge, but Neville, the Devil Cat, the store’s mouser knows better.

My husband and I share our house with a pair of Jack Russell Terriers, Disney and Riley. Life at my house is always an adventure. The Pair of Jacks have two settings, warp speed or sleep.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my fuzzy friends…

  1. Live in the now. Today is what’s important. The past and future don’t matter as much.
  2. Play hard. Life can’t be all work. Everything is a game to a Jack.
  3. Nap when you need to. You need to recharge every once in a while.
  4. Don’t waste a beautiful day inside. Go outside and have fun.
  5. Bark if you need to, but not too much.
  6. Wag and make friends. Relationships are important.

Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones is the first in the Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries cozy series. Jade and the gang will also appear in Twinkle Twinkle Au Revoir (2024) and A Tisket A Tasket, Not Another Casket (2025).

Disney Dog

Riley “helping” with the editing

Chloe, the French Bulldog

Neville the Devil Cat

About Heather Weidner

Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She writes the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, The Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, and The Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries.

Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Author Links

Website and Blog:





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Purchase Link – Amazon


February 15 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 15 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 16 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST

February 16 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 17 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

February 17 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

February 17 – Novels Alive – REVIEW


February 18 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 20 – I’m Into Books – REVIEW, RECIPE

February 21 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR GUEST POST

February 22 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

February 23 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – CHARACTER GUEST POST

February 24 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

February 25 – The Book Decoder – AUTHOR GUEST POST

February 25 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 26 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

February 27 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

February 28 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

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Posted in retirement

Debbie’s Retirement Life, Week 8 : Day 57, 2/17/23

It’s hard to believe it’s been two months since I retired. This is my February blog post about my post-retirement adventures.

Yesterday was sad because it would’ve been my mother’s 95th birthday. She’s been gone for five years. The temperatures here rose unseasonably into the high 60s. She would’ve loved it.

On a brighter note, my daughter passed her road test, and she’s been driving with me in my car to get more practice before driving on her own.

As I continue my decluttering project, I donated ten boxes of books to the Book Fairies, but I’ve also found several more boxes of books in my garage, and there are still more in my house.

On February 8, I participated in a lively discussion of The Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah at my library’s book club. (Read my review here: While historical fiction isn’t my favorite genre, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it.

I also read Megan Goldin’s forthcoming release, Dark Corners. (Review: I liked this book, too, but it wasn’t as good as Stay Awake, (Review:, the first book I read by this author.

Besides reading, I also attended virtual exercise classes and a music webinar on Motown given by Vinnie Bruno. I really enjoyed his presentation on the Bee Gees and found this one also good. The best part for me was when he discussed the Supremes and played some of their music. My cat, Hermione, however, was partial to Stevie Wonder.

Last night, I also attended Bruno’s presentation on Billy Joel. I was interested in it because Joel grew up in my hometown, I was born on his birthday, and my brothers knew him when they were young. Bruno’s presentation was very informative, as usual. The music was also great, although I preferred the earlier pieces he played.

Aso this month, I had the first of two deep cleanings with my periodontist. It was my first deep cleaning, so I was apprehensive about it, but it wasn’t bad at all. The worst part was the shots. I didn’t stay numb much longer afterwards and didn’t have any pain.

Last week, I went for bloodwork and am going today for an echocardiogram because I’ve been having dizziness and palpations. These aren’t brand new symptoms for me, and my doctor doesn’t think they’re anything serious. I’ve already received the blood test results. My cholesterol has actual gone down, which is good news, but I have some other areas outside the normal range. My doctor said they aren’t connected with my symptoms and should improve if I lose some of the weight I’ve gained. I plan to start doing that before my April physical when I’ll be retested.

I was approved as a substitute at my library, so I’ll be filling in, when needed, on a few nights and weekends.

I’m also making good progress on my third Buttercup Bend Cozy Mystery, The Case of the Llama Raising Librarian. I’m on Chapter 22, page 128. Below is another unedited excerpt from this book. In this scene, Cathy goes with Chris and his granddaughter Sheri to meet Lulu, the llama.

Chris parked the car by the house. Sheri didn’t wait for him to help her down. She excitedly ran ahead. Chris chuckled. “I like to see her so happy.” Cathy wondered at that comment if he meant Sheri wasn’t usually happy. Was the girl’s sadness caused by her grandmother’s recent death or the conflict Cathy had overheard between her parents?

Sheri was already at the llama pen’s gate. “Hold up, honey!” Chris exclaimed, as he and Cathy approached. Cathy noticed that there were smaller animals in the pen with the llamas. She recalled Mildred’s explanation of the differences between llamas and alpacas. As they caught up with Sheri, Chris said, “We keep the female alpacas and llamas together unless we’re breeding them, of course. You’ll notice the size difference. Sheri grew up with them, but when we have school visits, they frighten some kids by how large they are. Full-grown llamas can weigh up to 500 pounds.”

“Wow!” Cathy said. “Where’s Lulu? How can you tell them apart?”

“Lulu wears a pink ribbon.”

Sheri was hopping from one foot to the other as if ready to jump the fence. “Can we go in now, Grandpa?”

Chris opened the gate. “Go ahead. You might want to make a stop in the barn to get hay later if you want to feed her.”

“She’s munching on the grass,” Sheri pointed out. Cathy watched as the young girl ran to the llama wearing a pink ribbon. She counted five other llamas in the pen and nearly twice that of alpacas.

“You can pet one if you want. They’re quite gentle,” Chris said. Sheri was already petting Lulu. The llama regarded her with big brown eyes.

Cathy walked over to them. “This is Lulu,” Sheri introduced the llama. “Lulu, this is Miss Hastings. She’s going to be working at the farm with her mommy.”

Cathy laughed. “You can call me Cathy, Sheri. And, you, too, Lulu,” she added.

“Wanna pet her, Cathy? She’s very soft.”

“The alpacas are softer,” Chris said. “Their fiber is lighter and warmer than wool.”

Cathy found that interesting. “I don’t knit or crochet, but my grandmother does.”

Chris smiled. “You can pick up some skeins in the shop. I won’t charge ya.” He winked.

Cathy placed her hand on Lulu’s back and moved it down, as if stroking her kittens. The llama didn’t purr, but her eyes widened. “She’s friendly.”

“They all have different personalities,” Chris said. “Lulu is a sweetheart.”

“How long have you had her?”

Sheri answered. “She’s five, like me. Momma said Daddy brought her back from Peru the year I was born.”

“That’s right,” Chris said. “Lulu was just a baby or “crias,” as baby llamas are termed, when she came to the farm. Danielle was pregnant when she and Dylan visited Peru again. Danielle fell in love with Lulu, as she had Dylan, and insisted on bringing her back to Oaks Landing. It’s not easy to transport livestock back to the U.S. There are all sorts of red tape regulations, but Danielle wouldn’t go back unless Lulu came with her. She was raised here for her wool, unlike some of the South American llamas that are mostly raised as work and guard animals.”

As Sheri continued petting and talking with Lulu, Cathy stood by the gate with Chris. “Mildred said that Danielle met Dylan in Peru. Was she looking for llamas?”

Chris smiled. “Looking for llamas and found a husband. She met Dylan on her first trip there, but she’d just gone to visit some farms. According to her, it was love at first sight. Dylan handed the farm over to his brother and made plans to move to Oaks Landing.” 

“Sounds like a whirlwind romance to me.” Cathy lowered her voice, “but they don’t sound too happy now.”

“That happens with couples sometimes, but they love one another. I think there’s a lot of pressure with Betty’s condition, and Doris’ death didn’t help matters.”


I hope you enjoyed that excerpt form my work-in-progress. This weekend, I’m planning to go to the Camelia Festival at Planting Fields Arboretum, and Tuesday night, I’ll be reading some excerpts from my books at my church’s Fastnacht Zoom Follies that start at 7 pm. The Zoom link is found on the St. Stephen’s website, under Fastnacht Zoom Follies 2023.

Thanks for reading about my retirement adventures. I’ll post another update in March.

Posted in article, Cat Writers' Association, Cats, Writing

How and Why to Add Cats to Your Fiction Writing

This article appeared on the Cat Writers’ Association blog on February 9, 2023.

How and Why to Add Cats to Your Fiction Writing

by Debbie De Louise

Cats have been popular in literature for ages. Children’s books often feature them, as do cozy mysteries, and other novels. Why? Because people love cats. They can add humor and humanity to a story. With their unique purr-sonalities and mystical natures, they make purr-fect characters to write about.

Before we talk about how and why to add cats to your fiction writing, let’s look at the types of cat characters that can appear…

How and Why to Add Cats to Your Fiction Writing

4 Types of Cat Characters that Appear in Fiction Writing

1. Main Character Cats (M.C. Cats)

In Children’s books, cats are often main characters such as Puss-in-BootsCat in the Hat, and Pete the Cat. Cats also play starring roles in adult books, fiction as well as non-fiction. Check this Goodreads list for Books with Cats As Main Characters: 

2. Supporting Character Cats

Most cozy mysteries include a cat co-star. These cats help the main character or amateur sleuth find clues to the mystery. Examples of these felines are Midnight Louie in Carole Nelson Douglas’ series and Joe Grey from Shirley Murphy’s books. In my Cobble Cove mysteries, Sneaky the Siamese library cat assists Alicia, the librarian, solve murders in the small town of Cobble Cove.

3. Subplot Cats

There are books where cats play roles in a subplot, while not being featured as main characters or co-stars. For instance, in my book, Memory Makers, Lauren, a kidnapping investigator, rushes home from the clinical trial in which she is participating to find her missing cat, Harry. In doing so, she also locates a missing boy. The main mystery involves the clinical trial where Lauren is seeking to recall the man who kidnapped her and her sister twenty years ago and killed her sister. Her missing cat is a subplot to this mystery.

4. Cameo Cats

Cats can also make cameo appearances in books and stories when an author features the cat as a pet without any connection to a mystery or any significant role in the plot. An example of a book that I read where this happened was the popular, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. The cat appeared toward the end of the book when it served to soothe the main character, Kya, while she was in jail.

Once you decide what type of cats you want to feature in your writing, you need to decide whether they will speak or only make feline sounds. In cozy mysteries where the cat is the sleuth’s co-star, they usually help the main character locate clues with non-verbal actions. In A Stone’s Throw, the first book of my Cobble Cove mysteries, Sneaky alerts Alicia to hidden letters by scratching the box in which they’re hidden. Later in the series, Sneaky converses with his fellow pet characters but still only uses cat behavior to lead Alicia to clues.

Cobble Cove Mystery series by Debbie de Louise

How do you work cats into your plots?

I model my cat characters after my own cats. I use their antics and personalities to make them real to readers. In my first novel, Cloudy Rainbow, Floppy, who was named after my own cat, burrows himself into Dulcie’s mattress and falls asleep. When she finally finds him, she worries he’d smothered because he wasn’t moving. In a panic, she sliced through the mattress with a knife. I did the same thing when Floppy was a kitten.

In my Cobble Cove books, after I introduced KittyKai, the female cat, I gave her my own calico Hermione’s personality traits and also added some human female characteristics. KittyKai, joining Sneaky on a mission to find a killer, jumps into a woman’s bedroom and begins grooming herself on the woman’s vanity.

KittyKai and Sneaky have a love/hate relationship but, one night following a successful adventure, they walk over a moonlit bridge where fish are swimming and have a romantic encounter. In No Gravestone Unturned, when Sneaky and KittyKai are joined by Salem, the cat of a guest at the inn where KittyKai lives, the three end their story by jumping and rolling in autumn leaves. My cats are indoor cats, but if they went outdoors that was something I’m sure they’d enjoy doing.

Fictionalizing yet retaining the real actions and personalities of the cats you write about helps readers identify with their own pets and also allows them to enjoy the other elements of the story.