Posted in A Stone's Throw, Books

Join my Newsletter for Exclusive Updates and Giveaways

Ruff DraftsNewsletterTo update the readers of this blog with my new books, I’ve created a Ruff Drafts newsletter where I will share the latest news about my books and other projects as well as hold exclusive giveaways and contests for prizes.

As I’ve been hard at work on the second book of my Cobble Cove Mysteries that began with A STONE’S THROW, I will soon be able to give you details and some sneak peeks into the sequel. This content will be shared with my newsletter subscribers first, and some will not even be featured on this blog or any of my social media sites.

stonesthrowcatcatcherteasaerSo subscribe today to receive my newsletter and become part of my inside fan group. I appreciate your support. The first newsletter will be out in March and will be sent on a monthly basis or more often when I have some extra special news to share.

In addition to other contests and giveaways I will be offering on a regular basis, all those who subscribe during the month of February will be entered into a random drawing for an autographed copy of their choice of A STONE’S THROW or the sequel when it is published (U.S. subscribers only).

 

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Books

Update on A STONE’S THROW

teaser2fireI want to thank those of you who have already purchased A STONE’S THROW. For those who haven’t, I’m holding a special Goodreads giveaway starting tomorrow, February 1st. If you participate, you have a chance to win two free autographed copies. For more details, follow me on Goodreads

 

 

I’m currently preparing the sequel for submission and hope to have it published in late spring/early summer. I will continue to update everyone through this blog and my Facebook and Twitter pages.

teaser3agathaBuy links for A STONE’S THROW:

Amazon U.S.: http://amzn.to/1MjaJgN

Amazon Australia: http://bit.ly/1Sdh82D

Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/1SdheHi

Amazon U.K.: http://amzn.to/1QutXBW

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1nQPyv4

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1KGYHep

Also available on iTunes and Ingram

Thank you all for your continued support.

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Books, Characters, Limitless Publishing, Writing

The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Sequel

sequelWhen I first came up with the idea for A STONE’S THROW (November 2015 Limitless Publishing), I did not plan for it to be the first in a series. However, after I finished it, I realized that my characters were asking for at least one more book. How do characters ask this? Well, sometimes an author feels that their characters can be further developed in a sequel or a series. There might be storylines that were not completely tied up in the first, or there might be room for new characters and new storylines. That seemed to be the case for me.

Without giving away any details about the next in what may be one more book or a series of Cobble Cove novels, I would just like to share with readers and other fellow authors some DO’S AND DON’TS  I learned from writing a follow-up to my romantic suspense novel.

dosdontsDO’S

  1. DO feature backstory from the first book in flashbacks sprinkled throughout the second.
  2. DO introduce new characters and show how they interact with the old.
  3. DO continue developing old characters. Remember, they age physically and also mature with their experiences.
  4. DO write in the same point of view as the original.
  5. DO make sure the timeline and dates are accurate from one book to the other.
  6. DO make sure that previous characters continue to have the same habits and mannerisms. Also recheck their appearance. If the time you are writing about from one book to the other is a wide gap, remember to age all characters accordingly.
  7. DO fill in info about occurrences/events that happened between books. i.e. Have any characters died? Gotten married? Moved?
  8. DO leave the ending open for a third book if you intend on continuing the series. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tie up the plot completely, but leave room for the characters to grow and change.
  9. DO inform your readers and fans of the upcoming book. It’s also a nice idea to offer the first one at a discount or for free for those who haven’t yet read it.
  10. DO write in the same genre. If the first book is a mystery, it would be strange to have your characters appear in a science fiction in the second book. Also, try to keep the books approximately the same length if possible.

DON’TS

  1. DON’T write a follow-up book that is too similar to the first. It’s okay to have similarities, but you want something that generates new interest.
  2. DON’T write a follow-up book that is drastically different from the first. The tone, atmosphere, and genre should be the same.
  3. DON’T forget to include any characters. If you have a lot of characters in the first book, make sure you feature the main ones or explain what happened to them between books.
  4. DON’T introduce new characters without giving them a role. Adding new characters for the sake of having more characters won’t sit well with readers. However, if you develop the new characters well and plan to use them in an upcoming book, that could be useful.
  5. DON’T seek out a new publisher. If you published your book traditionally, it only makes sense to try to sell the second book to the first publisher.
  6. DON’T refer to something that happened in the first book without providing a reference to it.
  7. DON’T set the book on a stage that doesn’t suit it. If your first book took place in a small town, don’t move it to the big city (although it’s always possible to have the characters take a trip there).
  8. DON’T change any character drastically unless you explain the change. For instance, if someone loses weight, explain that they were on a diet. If someone’s personality changes, explain what the cause might be.
  9. DON’T sweat the small stuff. You needn’t go into major detail about all the happenings from the first book, but it’s nice to include some of the major stuff when you can work it into the story.
  10. DON’T choose a title that has little significance with the previous book. It’s nice to be able to identify a series by its title. This can be done in various ways. You can keep one word in every title the same or you can use related words or themes. You can bet my follow up title to A STONE’S THROW will have something to do with rocks and, perhaps, a common quote or phrase.

Looking forward to sharing more information about my sequel soon. I hope these tips help other authors. Both readers and authors should feel free to comment any other ideas/thoughts about series writing.

 

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Books

Starting 2016 Off “Write”

happynewyearbookAs my New Year’s surprise to the followers of this blog and those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter, I would like to announce that I’ve finished writing a sequel (possible 2nd book of the Cobble Cove Novels series) to A STONE’S THROW  that I hope to publish in the spring. This new mystery will include some of the characters from the first book as well as several interesting new ones.

I’ve been blessed this year by joining the Limitless Publishing group and meeting many talented and supportive authors who I’ve been featuring in Author Spotlights on this blog. I’ve also been blessed by the readers who have shared such nice and motivating comments about the book as well as written some very favorable reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. One comment that particularly touched me was made by the library patron I acknowledged in A STONE’S THROW for her gentle nudging of me to keep writing. When I gave her a copy of the book, she said the reason she kept urging me to continue writing was because she believes in following dreams. When she was young, she had an opportunity that she had to let pass. Because of that regret, she realized the value of following a dream and wanted me to follow mine. I’m sure many reading this blog have dreams of their own. Why not make a resolution to follow yours this year?

Not to spoil it for those who haven’t yet read A STONE’S THROW, the only hints I can give about the follow-up book right now is that it will occur during the holiday season, six months after the first novel’s epilogue ended, and will feature three different crimes, lots of new characters of varying ages, and take place in both the fictional upstate town of Cobble Cove, New York and New York City. Keep visiting this blog or my Facebook author page for more details, announcements, sneak peaks, and other surprises. In the meantime, for those who haven’t yet seen  the trailer for A STONE’S THROW created by fellow author, Taylor Henderson, I’ve included it below along with the book’s purchase links. I’m also including some great review teasers created by Limitless author, Haley Despard. The Siamese one was a gift from Kat Shehata.

A very Happy and Healthy New Year to you all!  I hope your dreams, like mine, will come true in 2016.

teaser5dogteaser6teaser2fireteaser3agathateaser4holiday

Amazon KINDLE: http://amzn.to/1MjaJgN

Amazon PAPERBACK: http://amzn.to/1MjaHWb

Barnes and Noble

Posted in Authors, Books, Cats, Cozies, Cozy Chat, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery, Cozy Series

Cozy Chat with L.J.M. Owen

cozycatpicAlthough I consider myself a romantic suspense author and fan, I also used to be an avid reader of cozy mysteries especially those featuring cats. For those of you who also share that interest, I will be featuring Cozy Chats with cozy mystery authors on this blog. If you are an author who writes a cozy series and would like to participate in a future Cozy Chat, please contact me.

OlmecObituary_cover_HIRES (1)Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with L.J.M Owen about Olmec Obituary, Book One in the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series. It is a planned cozy mystery series of 9 books.

Hi, L.J.M. Thanks for joining us on Cozy Chat. Have a seat and help yourself to some tea while we talk.

 

 

2015-12-03 22.12.07 Can you tell us a little bit about this new series? What gave you the idea for it?

Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth is the story of an archaeologist/librarian who solves ancient mysteries from across the globe, with plenty of forensic science, culinary exploration and historic trivia along the way. There are ancient libraries, modern libraries, cats and – of course – recipes in the back.

Book One in the series, Olmec Obituary, introduces Dr Elizabeth Pimms as she struggles with a job she doesn’t want, a family she both loves and resents, and the volatile excavation director of a royal Olmec cemetery. Amid seventeen concealed skeletons, an evolving mental library and Welsh soup Elizabeth strives to determine cause of death for a 3,000 year old athlete before being fired.

2015-12-03 22.28.50This first mystery, and the second one, feature the archaeology of ancient Mexico. The remainder of the series will explore the ancient cultures, homicides and libraries of Egypt, Mongolia, Persia, India, China, Britain and Crete.

My original inspiration for the series was a sense of wanting to give back.

Like many quiet, studious children I never quite fit into the world around me. I spent much of my childhood escaping into storyworlds created by others. As an adult, tired, stressed and overworked, I continued to snatch an hour or two in those otherworlds to recharge my batteries.

As a writer I realized I wanted to construct another space for readers to escape to. I figured the most sensible course of action was to draw on what I knew. I have a degree in archaeology, a degree in library management and a PhD in palaeogenetics, so felt most comfortable writing about these subjects. I could also indulge my love affair with other cultures, past and present.

And like many, I am intrigued by the classic whodunit. I love to pit my reasoning skills against the fictional detective of the hour.

So Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth was born. It’s a mix of the archaeology of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, the forensic science of Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series and the cozy setting of TV series such as Midsomer Murders or Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. With more libraries.

My hope is, ultimately, that the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series becomes another place of refuge for readers everywhere.

How very interesting. I don’t know if you know that I’m a librarian as well as an author, and your series sounds especially appealing to me – cats and libraries how can you go wrong?

Do you have any advice to other authors about writing cozies or writing in general?

Read the books you love. Read the kind of books you want to write. Study the basics of storyworld, character, plot and theme. Sit down and write for at least an hour a day. Research how to improve your writing. Rinse and repeat.

Remember that if you love what you write chances are someone else will too. Some people will also hate it. That’s just how it works. The important thing is to know exactly what sort of book you have written and make it clear to potential readers to increase the chances so that the people who pick it up have a good chance of liking it.

That’s exactly what I believe, too. What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on Book Two in the series, Mayan Mendacity, which sees Dr Pimms contend with the maimed skeleton of a Mayan warrior, a vengeful Tikal Queen, the Phantom of the Stacks and an intruder in her phrenic library. I can’t wait to finish writing it! I’d like to release it ahead of Christmas next year.

Do you write any other genres than cozies?

I’ve started work on a range of short stories in other sub-genres of crime but at the moment I’m having too much fun with cozies with an archaeological twist.

I don’t blame you. I’ve written some short stories I’d like to gather into a collection one day, but they are very different than “A Stone’s Throw,” and I’m working on a sequel to that right now. My publisher, Limitless Publishing, is planning to put out a holiday anthology next year, and I’m hoping to contribute to that.

Can you tell me how you got started in writing?

I worked through some online writing courses and read widely on how to develop rich, rounded characters. I prepared the overarching storylines for the whole series and developed full character sketches for the top twenty characters in the series.

As I’m a very planned writer I love the ‘snowflake method’ developed by Randy Ingermanson, which he provides free on his website (just Google ‘snowflake method’). When it came to drafting Olmec Obituary I followed this method fairly closely.

To be honest, for me, it turned out that the process of writing was as natural as breathing. It’s everything else that goes along with being a writer that I struggle with. Typesetting, printing, distribution, marketing, PR and social media were far more challenging for me than writing.

I feel exactly the same. And, coincidentally, I also took online writing classes my library offered through Gale Courses before I wrote my novel. I’ve never heard of the snowflake method, but I will definitely check it out. Thanks for the info.

What are your hobbies besides writing?

I love investigating many branches of archaeology and history. I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting with a huge range of recipes – under strict feline supervision, of course!

lol. Cats do like to observe us humans

Is there anything else you’d like readers of this blog to know about you and/or your books?

As I’m Australian the series is written in British English. If a reader is used to American English I think this enhances their experience of escaping to another time and place, but I know some readers who prefer American English like to know about the slightly different spelling upfront.

Here’s a few links for readers of your blog who are interested in Olmec Obituary.

Paperback copies from Book Depository with Free International Shipping: http://bit.ly/1IR0H30

e-copies from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1XRgTNG

The Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth Book Series Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/1N8nyej

A Booklover Book Review: http://bit.ly/21LokWl

The Goodreads entry (with reviews): http://bit.ly/1QbUrub

Happy reading!

Wonderful! Thank you so much for joining us on Cozy Chat today, and good luck with the series.

 

Posted in A Stone's Throw

Giving Thanks for Being a Loser

thankfulI’m especially thankful this year as I just released my second novel, “A Stone’s Throw.” I am posting this to thank my followers and the awesome authors I have met from Limitless Publishing and elsewhere. I  want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and share some personal thoughts about this past year. This post also appeared as a guest post on Ayden K. Morgen’s blog, and I read it at a Jenny Craig open house on Thursday night.

A year ago this November, I made a decision that changed my life, and it happened in an unexpected way. A co-worker at the library where I work had lost some weight on Weight Watchers. Having been on many diets on and off all my life and gaining the weight back plus more, I was hesitant to try dieting again. But seeing this co-worker and realizing I was at my top weight, 200+ pounds that is considered obese for a woman my height, 5 feet 3, I knew I had to do something. I was more concerned with my health than my looks at this point. I’d never had high blood pressure, but I was beginning to get borderline results. I also didn’t have diabetes, but it ran in my family.

Considering what weight loss program to give another try, I was close to enrolling in Weight Watchers. But before I did, I visited my credit union to make a deposit (I rarely do this in person, but I had to make some changes on the account that required me to go into the office). When I walked through the doors, I was greeted by a woman distributing a coupon for a free-month trial of Jenny Craig. I’d tried both Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig years ago with short-term results, but I figured I had nothing to lose by trying a free month. I took the coupon and made the appointment with a counselor to start my program. Having a center close to my home made it easier to attend the weekly sessions with a very nice woman named Lauren who made me feel welcome and was very supportive.

jennycraigFollowing the program, I lost 10 pounds the first month and really didn’t feel hungry, but I knew that initial weight loss is usually high and tends to taper off. I was also not convinced I would continue to follow the program. The cost was also a bit prohibitive. In addition to the price of the food and the monthly program fee, it made a dent in our family budget, but my husband encouraged me to continue. He said that I couldn’t put a price on my health, and we would just have to cut back in other areas.

A few months into the program, I was losing steadily between the 1 to 2 pounds that Jenny Craig indicated was the norm for dieters following the plan. I began to have more energy, my blood pressure was no longer borderline, and I found myself writing again. I had stopped after self-publishing a novel several years back and hadn’t been able to find the time or inspiration to write another. I started with short stories and even enrolled in some online writing classes offered by Gale Courses that my library offered. Then I got an idea for another romantic suspense novel. In February of 2015, three months into my Jenny Craig program, I began writing “A Stone’s Throw.” Meanwhile, my weight loss continued. As the book grew, my body shrunk. My husband and Jenny Craig counselor were very proud, and I was feeling so much better.

diet2diet3I find it hard to believe, when I look in the mirror, that I’ve actually lost nearly 60 pounds and 12 clothing sizes this year. I can now shop in a regular department store instead of online through the specialty “large women” shops. I’ve also added exercise to my regimen and walk a mile a day to help burn up more calories as I get closer to my goal weight.

“A Stone’s Throw” was just released by Limitless Publishing.  I’m not sure if I owe its publication to the creative energy I developed as a result of my weight loss or if it’s just another sign of what you can accomplish if you are determined and have the support of others. I only know I’m thankful for having gone to my credit union that day last November, that I decided to give Jenny Craig another try, and that my husband and counselor were so supportive. In addition, the support of my fellow authors has been amazing. My Thanksreader’s Release party this past Friday was a great success with 25 authors participating and offering prizes and giveaways. There were scrumptious recipes included, and readers were actively involved in the contests and discussion. I am truly blessed and thankful to have had so many people help and support my book’s release.

Debbie’s blog/website: https://debbiedelouise.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Books, Excerpts

Special Announcements (Read and Listen To Them)

preorder pic (1)thanksgivingI have exciting news for the readers and  listeners of my blog, Ruff Drafts, that I want to share through a  podcast as well as a post. My romantic suspense novel, “A Stone’s Throw” is now available for pre-order from Amazon as an ebook at this link and a paperback.To celebrate the book’s release by Limitless Publishing on November 17, I am organizing two events. The first is a pre-order book blitz on Monday, November 16 by The Book Enthusiast. On Friday, November 20th, I’m hosting a Thanksreader’s Release Party on Facebook with other authors. Since it’s a week before Thanksgiving and because “A Stone’s Throw” actually takes place in November, the theme for the online party will be a Thanksgiving one. In addition to contests, giveaways, and prizes, each author will bring a virtual Thanksgiving dish with an optional recipe and/or photo. It should be quite fun, and there are lots of seats. You can sign on any time from 9 am to 9 pm. EST.

I am also participating in several other online author events on Facebook. I will be at Santa’s Helper’s Online Book Release Party from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, November 30th (Cyber Monday); and Cassandra’s Big Christmas Bookstravaganza on Wednesday, December 12th at 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  I hope to see you many of you there.

Here is another excerpt from Chapter 15 of  “A Stone’s Throw” where Alicia dines at the inn for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was a wonderful day. Dora had decorated the inn with cardboard cut-out turkeys, cornucopias, and pumpkins. She asked John to move a dining table from downstairs to the breakfast nook. The long table seated all of them—Dora, Charlie, Mac, John, and Alicia. It also fit the huge turkey, a twenty-five pounder on a platter, and all the trimmings; chestnuts, green beans almandine, marshmallow sweet potatoes, creamy mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing with raisins, corn on the cob, two types of cranberry sauce, and steaming brown turkey gravy.

Alicia was overwhelmed. Since she had no family and Peter was estranged from his, their Thanksgivings normally took place either at a restaurant or at home with a small turkey breast she served up with some store-bought sides. This family meal was amazing, and she enjoyed the food as much as she did the company, although she noticed Mac was unusually quiet and seemed to be pondering something. She teased John about his preference for plain cranberry sauce while she preferred the berried. He countered with mock criticism for the way she ate corn on the cob slicing the kernels off with a knife instead of biting them off the cob.

When Dora wheeled out the desserts after everyone was stuffed and swore they couldn’t eat another bite, all eyes widened. Dora had baked several pies—apple, pumpkin, and Alicia’s favorite from the time she and Peter traveled to the Amish country in Pennsylvania—Shoofly Pie.

John patted his stomach. “I think I’ve gained ten pounds,” he groaned.

“Is that Shoofly pie?” Alicia asked, already knowing the answer.

“Sure is. I got the recipe from a friend I met on a tour in Lancaster once, and I brought it home with me. I make it as a special for inn guests once in a while and on holidays.”

Despite everyone’s protests of being full, all three pies were consumed, the men doing most of the honors.

I hope you enjoyed this Post and the Podcast and that you will join me for my Facebook Thanksreader’s Release party on November 20th.

Thank you for your interest in “A Stone’s Throw.”

Click to play this podcast.To download this episode, right click and save.

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Books

A Stone’s Throw Cover Reveal

StonesThrow_coverfinalTo celebrate the unveiling of the cover of “A Stone’s Throw,” I am hosting a Facebook event today, Wednesday, October 28th, here. All are welcome to attend. There will be a door prize, contests, and some additional surprises. There will be one more opportunity for someone to earn a virtual ticket in my Cover Reveal Contest that has been going on every Wednesday in October on my Facebook Author Page. The final question will be posted at my Facebook event. The winner will be entered in the drawing for a grand prize along with the three previous winners from the contest. All ticket holders will win a prize with the grand prize going to the person picked from the entries at the end of the event. Winners of all prizes during the event will be posted either at the end of the event or the day after. I will also try to contact each person individually.

I hope you can participate in my Cover Reveal event. “A Stone’s Throw” will be released in November, and I will also be hosting a larger event to celebrate. Information will be announced on this blog and on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for your interest.

Here is an interview I also participated in for Lifestyle & Literature.

 

 

 

 

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Books, Excerpts

Book News and Another Excerpt

blogpicnews

  • I have some exciting news to share with my blog readers. For those who missed my podcast, I am repeating some of that information along with a never before seen or heard excerpt from my novel.
  • To celebrate the cover reveal of my new novel, “A Stone’s Throw” by Limitless Publishing on October 28th, I am hosting a contest on my Facebook author page. Each Wednesday, up until the 28th, I will post a question that can be answered by reading my blog. The question might be about me, my books or articles, a previous blog post, or something else, but all of the answers will be found on my blog at https://debbiedelouise.wordpress.com. The first person to answer correctly on my Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author will win a virtual “ticket” for a prize. Questions will be posted at various times to give people on all time zones a chance to reply. On October 28th, the day of my cover reveal, I will post the final question and then choose a winner from those holding tickets. I will contact the winner and they can select from a choice of prizes.

I am also participating in several online author events on Facebook. I will be at Taylor Henderson and Sara Schoen’s Halloween Release Party on Friday, October 30th from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m.; Carissa Lynch’s Release Party on Tuesday, November 3rd from 12 noon to 12:30 p.m.; Santa’s Helper’s Online Book Release Party from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, November 30th (Cyber Monday); and Cassandra’s Big Christmas Bookstravaganza on Wednesday, December 12th at 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. All events will feature authors, books, contests, giveaways, prizes, and fun. All events have Facebook pages for you to sign up to attend. Times are given in Eastern U.S. time (November and December dates are adjusted for Daylight Savings). I hope to see you many of you there.

Here is another excerpt from “A Stone’s Throw.” It appears in Chapter 9:

After Alicia unpacked her things, heated up Sheila’s stew that turned out to be quite tasty, and changed into pajamas, she lay in bed with a book, but she couldn’t concentrate on her reading. She turned off the light and tried to sleep, but the heavy rain against the window kept her up, as did the loud purring of Sneaky Cat, who snuggled against her, happy to have company again. She thought about Tina, the girl who’d stayed here last. From what Alicia knew of her, Tina was a young library school graduate who’d been hired by Sheila as quickly as Alicia had. She’d lived over the library in this space, as well, taken care of Sneaky, and left after a year and a half to care for her sick mother in Florida.

Sneaky dug his paws into the quilt at her back. It had been a long time since she’d had a cat, but she recalled the kneading sensation both male and female cats practiced to comfort themselves. Maybe it would comfort her too. Had she done the right thing by returning to Cobble Cove? Would she be bored in this small town with only a hand full of people patronizing the library each day? Sheila had mentioned the large number of homebound patrons, the seniors of the town, who needed books delivered. She might enjoy that. She liked reader’s advisory work, selecting books that would interest people. Sometimes it was a challenge, but she always learned through the experience and even found new authors and books for herself.

After a few hours of restlessness, Sneaky finally got sick of her tossing and left the room. She felt strangely deserted. She decided it might be better to get up and do something than spend unproductive time in bed. She turned on the light and went out into the hall. All was quiet from downstairs except the continuous downpour. She didn’t plan to go into the library, but she considered checking some of the unprocessed books Sheila had mentioned Mac was working on in the storage room. Perhaps she’d find something more interesting than her current reading that could help her fall asleep.

When she entered the storage room, she didn’t see Sneaky, although she thought he might’ve headed there to use his litter box. Cats can be quiet and liked to sleep in the strangest spots, so he could be there in some corner. Mac’s jacket was still draped across the chair by the desk. She laughed recalling the story about what Sneaky had once done to it out of spite, so typical of an angered cat. She sat in the chair and perused the stack of books on the desk. A few were from James Patterson’s “Private” series. She didn’t read too many series and had only read a few of Patterson’s standalone titles. As she was about to choose a book from the pile, she heard scratching in the corner. She jumped. Hopefully, that was Sneaky and not a mouse he hadn’t caught, for this place probably attracted them. She walked cautiously to the corner where she’d heard the noise. It wasn’t coming from the litter box under the window but from the opposite side.

Since the one bulb in the room was dim, she could hardly see in the dark recesses of the room. She wished she had a flashlight. As she approached the area where she heard the noise, she saw a bunch of boxes. She was relieved to see Sneaky scratching the side of one, cardboard pieces scattered at his feet. “Oh, Sneaky,” she said. “You scared me, but you’re only using a box for a scratching post.” The cat, caught in the act, stopped in mid-scratch and scampered away through his cat flap. Alicia made a note to speak to John about helping her find a real scratching post for Sneaky,. but before she left the room, she went over to the boxes. She figured they contained more books, but when she looked inside the one Sneaky had been scratching, she saw a few papers bundled together with rope. Newspapers? They weren’t that thick. She realized as she picked up the first bundle, they were a stack of letters. She felt uneasy snooping through them and was about to toss them next to the other two stacks in the box when she caught the name on the top envelope, Miss Carol Parsons. Her heart thudded in tempo with the rain. Were these the letters Mac wrote to Peter’s mother all those years ago? If so, how had Mac gotten them back?

She dug deeper, despite a growing unease, and pulled out all the bundled letters. She brought them to the desk. While the first two bundles were addressed to Carol in different handwriting, the second bundle of letters hadn’t been opened. The last bundle was addressed to John McKinney in a flourished female hand. These looked as if they had been handled the most, and some of the letters spilled out of their envelopes.

For a moment, Alicia considered sitting down to read them. She could hardly go back to bed now. She knew they must be Mac’s private property, so she put them back where she found them. Mac hardly had them hidden because the box they were in wasn’t sealed. She decided to ask John about the letters the next day since he was already planning on questioning his father about the information Pamela gave them.

Surprisingly, after Alicia turned off the light and crawled back into bed, she fell asleep rather quickly next to Sneaky, who had rejoined her, a beige ball of fur purring a soothing lullaby that drowned out the rain.