by Bethany “NaNoWriMo” Maines
I don’t really believe in NaNoWriMo AKA National Novel Writing Month. Partially just because I object strenuously to the clunky abbreviation. But also because the goal of writing fifty thousand words in a month reduces novel writing to a very basic component—words. Writing fifty-thousand words is an accomplishment of a sort, but having the right fifty-thousand requires a bit more of a skill. However, the NaNoWriMo community supplies great camaraderie and inspiration to a multitude of writers, and if an artificial deadline and contest get some people to put fingers to keyboard then I raise my glass in cheers. And usually that’s it.
Soooo why am I doing this?
This year the fates have conspired to arrange my projects to have a novel that needs to be written this month. I would really like to put out the next trilogy in my Supernatural paranormal romance world next summer. The Rejects Pack is a fun, Indiana Jones / The Mummy inspired series featuring more wolves, warlocks, romance, and an ancient Egyptian artifact or two. Also maybe a mummy that comes back from the dead. (Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.) And with Book 1 out to my beta readers already, you would think I wouldn’t feel the need to rush book 2 and 3. Butttt…. I keep eyeballing the amount of plot I’m intending to shove into book 3 and I’m just a little bit worried that my trilogy is going to become a tetralogy.
Tetralogy means a four book series. In case you don’t want to have to google it like I did.
And then there’s the fact the holidays are almost here (YAY!!!) and I have a new novella coming out this month! I’m busy is what I’m saying. So I’m trying to hedge my bets and leave myself time for a book 4 by cramming book 2 into November. And of course it will be fun to watch the NaNoWriMo communities progress. You can keep up with my progress and learn about Killian and Moira and their hunt for the long lost Library of Alexandria on Facebook and Instagram.
But Speaking of Christmas
If you’ve got a hankering for a Christmas mystery rom-com check out Winter Wonderland!
ORDER (all retailers): books2read.com/Winter-Wonderland
WINTER WONDERLAND: When Marcus Winters, a photographer with a bah humbug take on the holidays, meets Larissa Frost, a set designer who loves all things Christmas, sparks are destined to fly. But when a famous diamond goes missing from the shoot they’re working on Larissa finds that Marcus may be the only one who can keep her from being framed for a crime she didn’t commit.
Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of action-adventure and fantasy tales that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind end. She can usually be found chasing after her daughter, or glued to the computer working on her next novel (or screenplay). You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and BookBub.
by Bethany Maines
A New Holiday Novella
Oh my goodness! COVID down time actually came through for me this year and I have finished, yes that’s right actually finished, the holiday novella I’ve been planning on getting around to for last THREE years. Way back in 2017 I completed what I would consider a long short story called Oh Holy Night about a graphic designer and a bank robbery that goes badly. And then I followed that up with the award-winning Blue Christmas the following year. Blue was about a college student, an adorable French Bulldog and a whole lot of smuggled diamonds. As you can guess from the descriptions, these aren’t the traditional Hallmark Christmas stories. But they are romantic funny adventures about people who learn to love the Christmas season.
What Christmas Carol is Next?
Winter Wonderland completes the trilogy with a story about Bah-Humbug photographer Marcus Winters and a set designer Larissa “I love Christmas” Frost who find themselves involved in a robbery gone wrong and must solve the mystery of “whodunnit” before Larissa ends up in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. The fun part about the novella is that it let’s me get back in the mystery writing zone. And jeez, now I remember why that was hard! The clues, the suspects, the timeline! Every time I write a mystery, I respect other mystery writer’s even more.
What is the question?
Every book has a question in it that the protagonists are trying to answer. Whether that question is philosophical to themselves and their world or whether it’s something literal like “where’s the money” the question has to be answered in a satisfactory way order to deliver on the promise of the book. But with a mystery, not only are the protagonists trying to answer the question of “who committed the crime” the reader is too. And staying a step ahead of the reader and the characters in the story is hard work for a writer. Authors can fall back on several tricks to make the mystery work–choosing when to reveal information, letting information exist on the page without drawing attention to it, deliberately calling out false clues (red herrings!)–but in the end, a mystery only works if the crime is solvable and for that a writer cannot whimsically wave their hand at the end. An author has to know how, who, where, and why and then, if your me, also toss in a romance, some character development, and hopefully a decent turn of phrase.
It has been fun to venture into the mystery world once again and I’m more than pleased to complete the story that’s been on my to-do list for three years. I hope that readers will enjoy it too. Look for Winter Wonderland in November of 2022.
Want to know more about Winter Wonderland?
Click Here: https://bethanymaines.com/romanticsuspense/
PreOrder Here: https://books2read.com/winter-wonderland/
Bethany Maines the award-winning author of romantic action-adventure and mystery novels that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind-end. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and BookBub.
by Shari Randall
It’s the most wonderful time of the year….
We’ve heard those words sung hundreds of times over the years and, yes, for me, this is the most wonderful time of the year. I love Christmas, every bit from wrapping gifts, to carols, to the delightful scents of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves as I bake my traditional gingerbread cookies. Hallmark Christmas movies? I’m in!
Another aspect of the holidays I love? Reading books set at Christmas. So when readers asked for a holiday story about the characters in my Lobster Shack mystery series, I was happy to oblige. I had so much fun seeing what Allie, Aunt Gully, and Verity would do when they met up with Dagmar Smith, Mystic Bay’s Queen of Christmas.
Dagmar’s Festival of Trees is the highlight of Mystic Bay’s holiday season. In the story, she’s added a spectacularly decorated Nutcracker tree to her display and has asked ballerina Allie Larkin to help unveil it. But when Dagmar’s priceless diamond necklace is stolen in the middle of the festivities, Allie turns detective to unmask the thief.
It’s a fun short story you can enjoy in an evening. I recommend curling up with a cup of hot toddy as you read – recipe included with the story. It’s available on Kindle for only 99 cents, and it’s free for Kindle Unlimited readers.
Wishing you and yours warm and happy holidays.
Here I sit in my kitchen
by the woodstove
dreaming of being on stage
performing my one woman show.
Not a dream.
A frickin’ nightmare.
That should be the title of the play.
Mylifesuchatragedycomedy.com should be my author website.
Ok, here is my holiday rant about my dysfunctional family I love and dislike.
Spoiler alert, they’re no angels. Hope you enjoy my holiday tale.
This priceless photo could be titled Juliana’s Vata Locas Book Club
or You can’t spell SCHOLAR without CHOLA.
This Christmas I remember the family gatherings at my parents’ home in Canon City, Colorado. I had two half-brothers and four-half sisters from my parents’ previous marriages. My little sister and two little brothers came after I was born in 1957. Counting my parents, there were twelve of us. I never met my Dad’s oldest daughter. She only lived ten minutes away, in the next town, but she was estranged from my father and lived with her mother.
My oldest brother and two older sisters , were my mother’s children from her first marriage. We were far apart in age and didn’t grow up in the same house. They were married and gone by the time I was old enough to remember them. We never grew close in all my sixty-three years on Earth.
I established a relationship with my father’s second daughter, Irene, and his first son, Steve. Irene was a surrogate mother to me and Steve being only four years older was my bestfriend growing up and into my teen years. He left when he was 18 and I was fourteen.
My sister, Irene, became my favorite sister until the day she died at 42. I was 32 when she died and it hit me hard. I’ve never grieved for anyone like I did for her. Even when my father died on Christmas day in 1992 and my mother died on Christmas Eve in 2008, I didn’t feel it in my core like I did the day Irene died.
I’m remembering all of the times we spent together and the conversations we shared. She took care of my son when he was a little boy and I worked full-time. We became part of her family. We wrote each other letters when I returned to Canon City and she remained in Denver. I cherish those letters and the love and confidence she gave me. I miss her this holiday and I miss her daughters, my nieces.
My son, Daniel, turned 48 this December. He adored his tia Irene and grew up with her daughters babysitting him and being like big sisters to him. This Christmas I think about the conversations we had together, Irene, Daniel, and me. The love we shared. She left a huge void in my heart but it wasn’t long before I filled that hole in my heart with new sisters. Tracy, Aimee, Alice Denver, Judy, Denise, Maria, Lizzette, Debra, Yolanda, Crissy, Corinne, Eva and many other women have come in to my life and upon meeting these incredible women, I instantly knew that we would become life long friends, sisters.
I don’t have close relationships with my siblings, except for my brother, Steve, who lives in Long Beach, California, and my cousin, Aimee, who lives in Camino, California. I have kept those two in my life because they support and love me and my other siblings have fallen by the side because we have nothing in common other than the same parents.
I had to leave family behind in order to keep my sanity and I’m glad I made that choice to leave them and find love from people who love me for who I am. My brother, Steven, doesn’t understand how I can abandon family and love strangers like Tracy, Judy, Maria, Denise instead of the sisters I am blood related to. Aimee and I are blood related on my Father’s side. But I made a choice and I don’t regret finding new family. I’m happier because I chose my sisters and they get me. I don’t have to worry about them being racist, or homophobic, or xenophobic, or liars, or thieves, or abusive to me. I chose the women in my life because they are like me. They are educated, intelligent, open minded, and most of all liberal like me.
This pandemic and this 2020 election have divided families, neighbors, and the country. I can’t respect anyone who believes putting babies in cages and separating families at the border is acceptable. I respect their right to their religious beliefs but not against humanity, not about a woman’s right to choose.
This Christmas, I’m staying home, sheltering in place, wearing a mask in public when I venture out my door, and practicing safe distancing. This Christmas my neighbors and family have shown me their true colors and they have the right to choose to follow their beliefs but they do not have the right to tell me how to live my life.
I hope this Christmas you are able to love who you love and fight for what you believe in. In 2021, life will change. My hope is for those families who were separated at the border to be united, somehow, someway. And for the family I’ve lost, I wish you happy holidays and a prosperous new year. We can agree to disagree and go our own ways.
We here at the Stiletto Gang love our readers and hope that you’re all healthy and happy this holiday season. We’ve put together a list of our recent works to inspire you during the gift shopping free-for-all of Black Friday. Aside from some fantastic sales many of the gang are offering giveaways and free books. So do a little shopping, but don’t feel guilty if you snag a few presents for yourself as well!
Thank you for being our friend!
|CONNECT AT: www.juliemulhernauthor.com|
|Fields’ Guide to Abduction
Poppy Fields is a Hollywood IT girl with big problems. Bodies are popping up like daisies, the Mexican police have taken her passport, and, when she runs for the border, a cartel makes her their unwilling guest. Surrounded by trained killers, Poppy will need charm, intelligence, and a killer Chihuahua if she hopes to escape. #FREE on your favorite e-reader
GET NOW: Amazon
Paula Gail Benson
|CONNECT AT: www.paulagailbenson.com|
||Love in the Lowcountry
These 14 tales by members of the Lowcountry Romance Writers take place in Charleston, S.C., during the winter holiday season. My story, “Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest,” is about Mel, an English graduate student who is better at literature than life. She is unexpectedly thrown back in time to 1936, where she meets the subjects of her thesis, Dorothy and DuBose Heyward. What she doesn’t anticipate is for her fellow grad student Will to follow her. Can Mel and Will make it back to present day Charleston in time to spend Thanksgiving with Will’s young daughter?
BUY NOW: Amazon
|CONNECT AT: www.jmphillippe.com|
||The Christmas Spirit
Charlene Dickenson didn’t think that some minor stalking of her ex-boyfriend would lead to her untimely death. And she really didn’t think that because she died in a Christmas-related accident, she would end up in the Hall of Christmas Spirits. But a Christmas death means that Charlene must discover if she has what it takes to be a Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, or Future—helping mortals transform their lives like Ebenezer Scrooge—or end up like Jacob Marley and spend the rest of her existence in chains. Only Charlene has no intention of letting unknown forces control her life…death… after-life. Charlene figures that with a little ingenuity and pluck, she can surely figure a way out of this situation. But finding out how to win may just mean giving up everything she loves. Stuck in a place where the Christmas music never ends and the holiday treats will never make you full, Charlene is going to have to figure out how to let go of her mortal life and embrace the Christmas Spirit.
BUY NOW: all locations
|CONNECT AT: www.barbaraplumauthor.com|
|Crazy Daze & a Knight
Hop off the fast track. Buy a boat. Write the great American novel.
Forty-four-year old Susanna Walker knows about taking risks and dreaming big. Mother of two grown kids. Former CEO of a Silicon Valley PR firm. Ex-wife of a still present, former compulsive gambler, Susanna ignores their objections to her life and refuses to accept she may be perimenopausal. As with all well-laid plans, hers quickly derail when the hunk from the boat next door drops by and invites her to supper on his vessel, Camelot. The boat’s name, his boyish appearance, and the medieval armor leave Susanna a bit dazed.
Against all reason, she agrees to inspect the armor more closely whle he puts the touches on fresh pasta, shrimp, and a cheeky Chardonnay. When she wakes the next morning, her clothes neatly folded on the chair next to her bed, she’s butt naked. And mad. He suckered her with his knight-in-shining armor disguise. But does he think he can steal her underwear without consequences? Unfortunately, the Bold Knight rejects the consequences and issues his own challenge.
BUY NOW: Amazon
|CONNECT AT: Goodreads|
|The Second Shot
A drunken mistake in college cost US Marshal Maxwell Ames the affection of Dominique Deveraux and six years later, he’s determined to fix the slip-up. But there’s just one tiny problem—someone wants the Deveraux family dead. Dominique Deveraux never expected Max to reappear in her life, let alone apologize, but as Dominique investigates the mysterious attacks on her wealthy family Max quickly becomes far more than her one time college classmate. Now, Max and Dominique must dodge mercenaries and bullets as they try to make sure that they’re the only ones who get a second shot.
BUY NOW: all locations
GIVEAWAY: Get a free Christmas ebook at…
|CONNECT AT: www.AustinStarr.com|
|After You’ve Gone During
Prohibition a small Texas town’s deadly secrets are revealed by a sheltered, yet enterprising young woman. Plus puzzling disappearances and lethal grudges, twenty-three-year-old Wallie MacGregor uncovers it all. Evils of the outside world change her life when her father’s rum-running brother Rory lands on the MacGregors’ doorstep. Absent for decades, Rory says he’s fleeing enraged bootleggers. His tales of adventure—and the natural charisma of a born ladies’ man—charm Wallie. Yet, this long-lost brother appalls her father, a respected judge. Soon a family tragedy gets deemed an accident by the local sheriff. Yet Wallie believes she sees a crime scene showing foul play. Annoyed that no one agrees with her, she sets out to prove her theory. She snoops into her family’s past and finds gangsters, flappers and floozies. When her daring lands her in danger, she wonders if she’s really meant to be a female version of Sherlock Holmes, her literary hero. Then again, she knows she must persist.
BUY NOW: Amazon
GIVEAWAY: Win either a paperback or E-book copy of After You’ve Gone.
|CONNECT AT: www.Sparkleabbey.com and www.MaryLeeAshford.com|
|Two #Giveaways – Latest Books – The Dogfather (Sparkle Abbey) and Risky Biscuits (Mary Lee Ashford)
Who knew the world of designer purses could be such a dog-eat-dog business?
When a local, designer handbags store owner is found dead, the police first believe it’s an unfortunate accident. But the evidence doesn’t lie. Before you can say “wiseguy,” Bow Wow Boutique owner, Melinda Langston’s, former fiancé and undercover FBI agent, Grey Donovan, is the prime suspect. Now the two are working side-by-side to prove Grey’s innocence— nothing personal, just business. Or is it? Suspects are piling up, family secrets are exposed, and no one is who they appear to be, including Mel’s newest employee. Time’s running out. Mel better sniff out the killer before she and Grey end up sleeping with the fishes.
|CONNECT AT: www.cperkinswrites.com|
|In It For The Money
Holly Price traded professional goals for personal plans when she agreed to leave her high-flying position with the Seattle mergers and acquisition team and take over the family accounting practice. Reunited with JC Dimitrak, her former fiancé, she’s already questioning whether she’s ready to flip her condo for marriage and a house in the ‘burbs.
When her cousin, Tate, needs investors for his innovative car suspension, Holly works her business matchmaking skills and connects him with a client. The Rockcrawler showcasing the new part crashes at its debut event, however, and the driver dies. Framed for the sabotage, Tate turns to Holly when the local cops—including JC—are ready to haul him to jail. Holly soon finds her cousin and client embroiled in multiple criminal schemes. She’s drawn into the investigation, a position that threatens her life, her family and her increasingly shaky relationship with JC.
Debra H. Goldstein
|CONNECT AT: www.debrahgoldstein.com|
|Two Bites Too Many
Things are finally looking up for Sarah Blair following her unsavory divorce. Settled into a cozy carriage house with her sassy Siamese cat, RahRah, she has somehow managed to hang on to her law firm receptionist job and – if befriending strays at the local animal shelter counts – lead a thriving social life. For once, Sarah almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end…
When the president of the town bank and city council is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands – the twins’ sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle. Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice. But as neighbors turn against her family, can she pare down the suspects before another victim lands on the chopping block.
One Taste Too Many
For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!
Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair knew starting over would be messy, but things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by her twin sister’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah, her Siamese cat, wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and her sister wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!
GIVEAWAY: a print copy of One Taste Too Many to U.S. readers sign up for my blog via www.debrahgoldstein.com
|CONNECT AT: Facebook|
|Drawn and Buttered is the third book in a wonderfully satisfying cozy mystery series set at the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack in coastal New England.
The Lazy Mermaid’s business has slowed to a snail’s pace—until a monster lobster claws his way onto the scene…
With high season behind them, ballerina on-the-mend Allie Larkin and Aunt Gully are finally lying low. But then an unexpected guest arrives at the lobster shack: a crustacean so huge he’s dubbed Lobzilla around Mystic Bay and on social media. Soon, with everyone showing up for a peek in their tank, Allie and Aunt Gully have more on their plate than they can handle. Meanwhile, another local establishment finds itself in hot water. In exclusive Rabb’s Point, a strange burglary breaches the elegant home of Royal Parrish. Allie takes it upon herself to help with the investigation but, before she can get to the bottom of the case, another alarm sounds: the Lazy Mermaid’s Lobzilla has gone missing and is on the loose! And bodies are beginning to pile up. . .
“Delightful…Full of New England coastal charm…and clever sleuthing [that] will keep you turning the pages.”—Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author of the Domestic Diva mysteries
|CONNECT AT: www.tkthorne.com|
||House of Rose
When rookie patrol officer Rose Brighton chases a suspect down an alley, she finds herself in the middle of every cop’s nightmare—staring down at a dead body with two bullet holes from her gun . . . in his back.
He’s dead and now she has to explain it, which is going to be a problem because what happened was so strange, she doesn’t understand it herself. Rose must unravel the mystery of what happened and who she really is—a witch of the House of Rose. If she doesn’t figure it out fast, there will be more bodies, including her own.