New Website and New Book – Five Belles Too Many

New Website and New Book – Five Belles Too Many by Debra H. Goldstein

Wow! It doesn’t seem possible. After months of planning and Bethany’s expert manipulations behind the scenes, The Stiletto Gang has a new website home. I’m thrilled. Not only was Blogger (this one is Word Press based) becoming, at times, difficult to manage, it wasn’t being easily found in searches by you, our readers, our friends.

We hope you will find navigation of this site simple and will take the time to check out some of the new features we offer including pages about each author and the writer’s books. Poke around a bit. Check out the daily blog. Leave comments. Let us know what you think about our posts and the new website. Did you realize so many authors are members of the Stiletto Gang?

As an incentive to leave your thoughts on this blog post, I’m giving away a print copy of Four Cuts Too Many to one lucky poster (randomly selected – but U.S. only).

While you are reading this post, I’ll be doing something I haven’t done in quite some time — I’ll be at a writer’s conference, Sleuthfest. Sleuthfest, which is held in Florida, is one of my favorite conferences. It’s small, informative, and fun. Besides being on three panels while I am there, I’ll be promoting my new Sarah Blair book, Five Belles Too Many, which came out this past week. This time, Sarah is chaperoning Mother Maybelle, who is a finalist in a reality show contest to win the perfect Southern wedding. Not only are there conflicts between the contestants, but when the producer is found dead, with Sarah’s greatest nemesis, Jane, leaning over the body, Sarah is faced with a dilemma. Help clear Jane’s name or take a chance that another crew or cast member is permanently eliminated? Here are the buy links for Five Belles Too Many (plus don’t forget your favorite indie bookstore either has it or can get it for you).

https://www.amazon.com/Five-Belles-Sarah-Blair-Mystery-ebook/dp/B09HRCV4TN

https://www.amazon.com/Five-Belles-Sarah-Blair-Mystery/dp/1496732235

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/five-belles-too-many-debra-h-goldstein/1140225124

 

 

Brain Storming – When It Rains It Pours…Hopefully

By Sparkle Abbey

Welcome back to part three of So You Want to Write a Book!

If you’ve decided there’s a book in you, thanks for joining us on this wild journey! Over the last couple of months, we’ve asked you to dig deep, think about what you really want to write about, and assigned homework.

First, we asked you to define the type of book you want to write. Last month we asked you to read extensively in your genre. How did you do? Do you feel well-read?

We also asked you to keep a notebook and jot down all your ideas. If you don’t have the notebook handy, go ahead and grab it. We’ll wait.

You’re back? Great! Let’s get started.

Step three is where we want you to take every idea and thought you have for your book and put those in your notebook.

 

This would be a fun scene, a snippet of dialogue, a unique character, an odd trait or habit that you find interesting, etc. We’re not suggesting you outline, at least not yet. We are suggesting you fill that notebook with ideas. Remember, at this stage, there is no such thing as a bad idea.

If you need help, get together with some friends over coffee or wine and brainstorm. If you still need help getting started, here are some questions you can ask yourself.

For a fiction book:

  • Setting – Where will your story take place?
    • Time period – past, present, future
    • City, small town, urban, suburban
  • What season is it?
  • Who are your characters?
    • Main characters, secondary, protagonist, antagonist, villain, hero, heroin
    • What do they look like?
    • Where do they live?
    • What are their beliefs?
    • What’s important to them?
  • Whose point of view is the story told?
    • First-person, third-person, omniscient
    • Which character should the story be told from?
  • What is your main story idea?
  • What’s the subplot idea?
  • What problem will your main character face?
  • How will that problem intensify?
  • How will they overcome their problem?

Is that a lot to think about? It is! Maybe you can answer all of these or maybe just part of them. That’s okay. Right now, we just want you to jot down everything you can think of.

If you’re writing a non-fiction book here are some prompts for you:

  • What do you want to achieve with your book?
  • Who is this book for?
    • Hobbyist
    • History buffs
    • Self-help seekers
    • A general audience
    • A very niche group
  • Do your research
    • Online or the library
    • Interview people
  • How will you say it?
    • Is it a narrative – you’re telling a story
      • Autobiography
      • Memoir
      • Biography
    • Expository – you’re showing the story by explaining your topic
      • Self-help
      • How-to
      • Cookbook

Are the ideas flowing? Is there a story starting to unfold? We encourage you to write everything down, even if it sounds like a crazy idea. You’ll be surprised what you’ll use later as you’re hammering out your story and need that perfect twist.

We’ll check back in with you next month with the next step. Until then, if you have questions, feel free to ask us.

 

Sparkle Abbey’s latest story (written in first person) is a short but fun one. If you’ve not yet
checked out PROJECT DOGWAY, this is a great time to do that. 

Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)

They love to hear from readers and can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the SparkleAbbey.com website

New Website

Welcome to the brand new website for the Stiletto Gang!

The Stiletto Gang is excited to announce our new website. We think you’re going to love it!

In fact, you are the reason we moved from Blogger to WordPress and created our new website. Readers were frustrated that they couldn’t get digest emails (sign up in the upper right corner!) And with more features, easier navigation, more info about each Gang member and our books, the new website is a breath of fresh air for our writers and readers alike.

We’ve moved the majority of our old posts over, so you can still find (and search) the old content and comment on the new posts.  In fact you check out all our posts in the Archives, read more about our author Gang, and check out our fabulous Books.

The gang is excited to be moving into this more technologically advanced era and we hope you are too!  Thank you to all of our past readers and welcome to any new ones.  We value your support and hope that we can provide entertaining and informative content.

Happy reading!

Evacuating from a Wildfire

By Kathryn Lane

I love the mountains in northern New Mexico. Nature in this
area constantly surprises me with beautiful vistas, wildflowers, and above all,
the wild animals. We have elk, deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, several varieties
of birds, Cooper hawks, and bears. Occasional wild cats and mountain lions also
roam the area. I’m mesmerized by the herds of elk and their calves. 

For some writers, the beach inspires them. For me, the
mountains clear my brain and let my creativity flow. This year our normally
peaceful mountain hideaway proved that nature can also be terrifying. A
horrific wildfire started when controlled burns in the Gallinas Canyon in the
Santa Fe National Forest near Las Vegas, NM, got out of hand and turned into
the most destructive wildfire in the state’s recorded history.

In May, evacuations began very close to where we live. We
could see the flames beyond the mountains in front of our cabin and the smoke
was so thick, we decided to pack up and leave. What to take with us became an
issue. Essential articles that we need for any trip is a given. Emergency items
came next. After that, it’s a conflict between sentimental items, such as
paintings, and what we could fit into our vehicle.

Two years ago, I’d given my husband, Bob, a bathrobe for the
cabin. He lost it after forgetting it on a trip last year. He’d spent at least
two months searching online for a replacement. For two months he grumbled about
the bad selection, grim colors, wrong fabric, incorrect length, and lack of
styling.  He finally ordered one and it
arrived two days before we evacuated. A thick, heavy terrycloth robe, I put it
in the car.

He immediately asked why we needed to take it.

“We’ll survive the evacuation,” I said, “but I can’t get
through two more months of you hunting for another bathrobe.”

Thankfully, we are back in our beloved mountains and our
cabin survived just fine.

I’d decided, before the wildfire started, to place my next
Nikki Garcia mystery in New Mexico.

Now I’m wondering if I should include a wildfire in the mix to
complicate the plot. One thing is for sure, Bob’s bathrobe will not be a
part of the story! Or maybe a bear will eat the robe!

***

Postscript: The fire is no longer a threat, but for many
families who lost their homes, their struggle is far from over.

***

Kathryn’s Nikki Garcia Mystery
Series
– on Amazon

Amazon Paperback – https://www.amazon.com/dp/173328270X/

Amazon
eBook –
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084GSGSRX/

ABOUT KATHRYN

Kathryn Lane started out as a painter in oils and quickly became a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well as her travels in over ninety countries.

Visit my website at https://www.Kathryn-Lane.com

Sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website

Photo credits:

All photographs are used in an editorial and/or
educational manner

Elk and their Calves by Kathryn Lane

Firefighter – Taos News

Brown Bear by Kathryn Lane

Covers for the Nikki Garcia Mystery Series –
Heidi Dorey designs for Tortuga Publishing, LLC

Photo of Kathryn Lane by Bob Hurt

Off to camp…

by

Debra Sennefelder


I’m all packed for camp…but there’s one thing missing from this photo and that’s my laptop because the camp I’m participating in July is Camp Nanowrimo. 😆 Seriously…I don’t camp. Never had. Not even when I was a girl scout. 

So, what the heck am I doing?

Camp Nano (National Novel Writing Month) happens twice a year. It has a more chilled vibe than National Novel Writing Month, which is November (I never understood how that month was chosen). In November the goal is to write a 50,000 word manuscript. The Camp sessions, while they are still a month long, have more flexible goals. And this year my goal is to write two outlines and the first 50 pages of each new book. Yeah, a pretty lofty goal since my outlines tend to run 20-25 pages (single spaced). But I’m up for the challenge! If I keep repeating it, I’m sure I’ll believe it. 

So far, I am doing pretty good with the goals I’ve set. I’ve been working since last Monday (I arrived at camp early…that’s me!) and I’ve done pretty good with plotting this book. I’m on track to wrap up the outline by mid-week and then I can start writing the first 50 pages. I already wrote the opening paragraphs and I love this story!

Before I go (words need to be written), I wanted to share that Connie celebrated her third birthday on June 30th. I baked her a cake and then she went to her favorite shop to pick out a birthday toy. It was a fun day.

Have you participated in Camp Nano? Or, have you actually went camping? Please leave a comment down below. 

Have a wonderful July 4th.

Debra Sennefelder is the
author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series.
She lives and writes in Connecticut. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking,
exercising and taking long walks with her Shih-Tzu, Connie. You can keep in touch
with Debra through her website, on Facebook and Instagram.



Planning Inspiration

 By Lynn McPherson

Looking for inspiration these days can be tricky. Where do you go to find it? I am happy to report that I’m planning mine to come by way of my sister’s upcoming birthday. Weird, right? Let me explain. My sister has a milestone coming up this fall and has organized a trip to celebrate. Not a big surprise since she loves to travel. It’ll be her first time away for over two years, but she and her husband are finally ready to head out again to explore the world, one destination at a time. This time, her plans include me!

The destination is Paris. The trip will include my sister and her husband, my parents, and myself. I’d love to bring my husband, too, but that would mean bringing the kids. And that would be a different trip. 

Posing in front of Basilique de Sacre-Coeu

I love Paris. I haven’t been in many years(!) and I am already counting down the days. I used to visit more often, having lived two years in London and having much easier access to the City of Lights. I’ve included a few photos from back then…

The first question my sister had for me is what I want to do. She shared her list and wanted to know mine. I had no answer. It had been so long since I planned a vacation without the kids, I didn’t even know where to start. So, I decided I should start with a book (of course). I downloaded Paris, by Edward Rutherford on Audible, and picked up a copy of The Paris Apartment, by Lucy Foley.

I’m already thinking about the people and places I’ll see, the fun I’ll have, and the memories I’ll keep. I’m also thinking about how I can bring Paris into a mystery.

I’m excited and inspired. And I’m not even there yet!

Where do you find inspiration?

Lynn McPherson has worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ran a small business, and taught English across the globe. She has travelled the world solo where her daring spirit has led her to jump out of airplanes, dive with sharks, and learn she would never master a surfboard. She now channels her lifelong love of adventure and history into her writing, where she is free to go anywhere, anytime. Her cozy series has three books out: The Girls’ Weekend Murder and The Girls Whispered Murder, and The Girls Dressed For Murder.  



Weekend with Friends by Dru Ann Love

by Dru Ann Love

Every year me and two of my friends plan a weekend getaway. We’ve been to Boston, Denver, Savannah, and most recently Memphis and Tennessee. Whatever is our destination, I always look to see if I have any author friends in the area and plan a lunch. I like to introduce them to the authors and the books they write. In most cases, they do tend to make a purchase or two.

This past weekend, we did the touristy things, Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks march to the fountain in Memphis and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Johnny Cash Museum, and the Musicians Hall of fame. But the most entertaining activity was meeting the authors and one of them was Lois Winston. We picked the Margaritaville restaurant for lunch, but who knew they had live music that just never stopped. It was hard hearing conversations if you weren’t nearby. It was great seeing Lois and my other friends.


When you travel, do you seek out friends to visit?

What Love Really Means

 

Writer, humanist,

          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,

       Lover of solitude

          and the company of good friends,

        new places, new ideas

           and old wisdom.

The answer to what love is has defied the best efforts of philosophers and poets, yet we know it when we see it, as these keen observations from children prove. 

“Karl, age 5: ‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’ 

Billy, who is 4, had to think about it, but decided, ‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.’

And Rebecca observed, ‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’”

And Teresa (TK) age. . . never mind . . . said, ‘Daddy is love–you can crawl onto his lap, and he will read the comics in the newspaper for you; you can crawl on his shoulders, and he will flip you over and over again! You can know you will always have a place to go if you need it; he will always be there.’

Thank you, Papa for everything and always. I love you . . . and that’s the most important thing.
T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

Mi Chicana Garden

June 23, 2022

mi Chicana Garden Southern Colorado 2022

Dear Reader,

It is officially summer, and I spent the solstice riding on a quad runner with mi esposo in the Sangre de Cristos near the cell phone towers at 10,000 feet (about twice the elevation of Denver, Colorado). The air felt thin and caused me to get short of breath. But the oxygen was thick and smelled like wildflowers and mountain meadows and forests. Just what the doctor ordered. I am working on being a better human being and it begins with me and my happiness. A friend suggested I try MACA powder for my low energy and depression during the pandemic and damned if he was not right in his diagnosis and prescription. He is my friend of thirty-two years and my acupuncturist. He is a keeper. He goes ice fishing and hiking with mi esposo. They are like minded. Nature lovers and animal lovers.

 

I am planning a birthday party for a few relatives and celebrating the fourth of July, Independence Day. Whose independence you ask? Some people are saying we are free, but I say until we are all different but equal, until we are undocumented not illegal human beings, until the LGBTQ community and people of color are no longer afraid to walk with pride down main street, I say we are not free. We are all slaves. Slaves of greed, power, sex, drugs, rock, and roll. Lol.

 

That was my Independence Day rant. Every year I suffer through the holidays. Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Winter Wonderland, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. When is my holiday? I am going to celebrate this fourth of July as a sacred ceremony honoring my ancestors’ who lived and died on this soil in Southern Colorado, New Mexico, the New Mexico Territory, Mexico, los genizaros. The indigenous slaves. My ancestors were not free they were herded into missionaries and pueblos and became indentured servants and laborers. The truth hurts because it is the truth. Deal with it. If you do not want to learn this country’s history, you will never know the people who live here and what they have endured just to survive in a world of colonialism. You heard me. Decolonize your diet. Beans, rice, green chile, tortillas. But what do I know. I know after sixty-five years and a life of hard knocks and abundant blessings, that dying is easy; it is the living that is hard.

 

Lynette Aragon Patrick and Juliana Aragon Fatula at family home Southern Colorado

 

 

Anastasia is Back, and This Time the Crime is Real!

 

By Lois Winston

Most mystery writers and readers are fascinated by true crimes. Even if our reading doesn’t branch out beyond cozy mysteries, many of us watch everything from Murder, She Wrote reruns to each iteration of the Law & Order franchise. Some of us have even become hooked on true crime podcasts. 

 

Me? I’m a news junkie. All my books have been inspired in some way by actual events, or human-interest stories. Inspired is the key word, though. For instance, in A Stitch to Die for, the fifth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, I wove in a thread about Munchausen by Proxy Disorder after reading about several high-profile cases.

 

However, I’ve never incorporated an actual crime into one of my plots—until now. For Guilty as Framed, the eleventh book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, I’ve centered the plot around a yet unsolved crime that took place in 1990. 

 

For years I’ve been fascinated with the burglary at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It’s still considered the largest art heist in history, and to this day, not only haven’t the perpetrators been caught, but none of the artworks have ever been recovered. Worst of all, many of the suspects have since died.

 

But how do you incorporate a true crime cold case into a cozy mystery, especially when that crime might one day be solved, no matter how the likelihood diminishes with each passing year? I certainly couldn’t have my sleuth find the paintings or unmask the actual perpetrators. I don’t write alternate-reality fiction. In addition, the crime was committed in Boston, and my amateur sleuth resides in New Jersey. Besides, Anastasia is in her mid-forties. She would have been an adolescent at the time of the theft.

 

This was the puzzle I set for myself. Like my sleuth, I can be extremely stubborn when I set my mind to something. I may fail at a task, but I rarely give up and walk away. It helps that I’m a pantser and not a plotter. So I started out by reading everything I could get my hands on about the theft, watched a few documentaries, then just started writing, allowing my brain free rein. After writing myself into a few corners, backtracking, and beginning again…and again…and again, I came up with a story that uses various events from the actual crime, making them plausible within the pages of my story. Of course, I had to take authorial liberties along the way, but hey, I’m writing fiction. I can do that. 

 

I invented several characters for the purpose of advancing my plot. I’ve also changed the names of suspects and their relatives, whether they’re still alive or not, to protect the innocent, the not-so-innocent, and yours truly. But in the end, I stayed true to the major events of the crime but found a way to involve my sleuth.

 

It’s just too bad that Anastasia couldn’t solve the mystery of what happened to all those missing artworks. There’s still a huge reward outstanding for any information leading to their recovery, and anyone who knows anything about Anastasia knows she could really use the money.

 

Guilty as Framed

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 11

 

When an elderly man shows up at the home of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack, she’s drawn into the unsolved mystery of the greatest art heist in history. 

 

Boston mob boss Cormac Murphy has recently been released from prison. He doesn’t believe Anastasia’s assertion that the man he’s looking for doesn’t live at her address and attempts to muscle his way into her home. His efforts are thwarted by Anastasia’s fiancé Zack Barnes. 

 

A week later, a stolen SUV containing a dead body appears in Anastasia’s driveway. Anastasia believes Murphy is sending her a message. It’s only the first in a series of alarming incidents, including a mugging, a break-in, another murder, and the discovery of a cache of jewelry and an etching from the largest museum burglary in history.

 

But will Anastasia solve the mystery behind these shocking events before she falls victim to a couple of desperate thugs who will stop at nothing to get what they want?

 

Guilty as Framed is currently available for pre-order and will be released September 6th. Find links here.

 

~*~

USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.