When I first started out, back in the dark ages (1980s) before the Internet—heck—before home computers, I was as naïve as a newborn baby. I joined Mystery Writers of America, the chapter that met in Houston, and met some lovely, well-published authors.

I didn’t know squat (except what I’d read in magazines and books I’d purchased). I needed all the encouragement I could get, and I did get it. After a while, I was writing and submitting and, of course, receiving rejections, learning craft (we’re always learning craft, right?) and discovering what’s-what in the traditional book publishing business. There was no real self-publishing then (though there were, as now, vanity publishers), or as we call it now, Independent Publishing.

One of the things I found out from some of these published authors was that the author had no say so over her cover no matter how many books she’d written and published. You took what you got. Oh, the stories I heard. One particularly lovely author of over 140 books, Joan Lowery Nixon (1927-2003),, who became a pretty good friend, regaled me with stories of her experiences regarding the covers of her books. The story I remember most is when she set a book in pancake-flat Houston, but the cover had mountains in the background. She said she’d had many “discussions” with the publisher before the book came out, to no avail.

My first published book, My First Murder, which St. Martin’s Press, Inc. published, had a colorful cover, which other than there being what one could assume was a dead woman on the cover, had no relation to the story. By that I mean the cover was in the style of Mexican art. (I like Mexican art, don’t get me wrong.) The book was set in Houston and Ft. Worth.

My First Murder, St. Martin’s Press, Inc.

The third cover of My First Murder. I didn’t keep copies of the second.

Some years later, my small press publisher contacted me one day and asked me what I wanted on the cover of the book they were putting out. You know, I had never given it any thought, my experience having been that I had no choice. One of my friends said if I was going to come up with a design for a cover, I should be paid. What did I know? I gave the publisher ideas, but by the time I sent in photographs and more information about what I thought, they had taken my original idea and run with it. The cover wasn’t that good. Years later, I’ve been re-publishing some books myself (of course I have my rights back) and am on my fourth cover for my first one.

The fourth cover of My First Murder and I hope the final.

Anyway, now, years and a number of covers later, as an “Independent” author I have sole control. There are days I wish someone else had the responsibility, so I’d be off the hook. It’s not easy coming up with ideas. I’m a writer, not an artist. I’m about to put out the 6th in my Mavis Davis series and have been racking my brain. The title is The Underground Murders. If any of you have an idea for a cover, without knowing the plot, PLEASE contact me asap.

You may contact the author at

Susan is the author of fourteen (14) books, mostly mystery/suspense, but not all.

Lucky Number Thirteen?

photo from Pixabay

By Lois Winston

Triskaidekaphobia is defined as the fear or avoidance of the number thirteen. There are some people so paranoid about the number that they won’t live on the thirteenth floor of a building. Many hotels completely skip the thirteenth floor, going from the twelfth to the fourteenth because people will often refuse to stay in a room on the thirteenth floor.

I was born on the thirteenth. Maybe that’s why I’m not a superstitious person. I’d hate to go through life thinking my entire existence has been cursed ever since I couldn’t hold out another twenty minutes before making my way down the birth canal.

Truthfully, I’ve never given much thought to the so-called unlucky number. I also don’t avoid black cats, knock on wood, or toss spilled salt over my shoulder. However, I’ve been thinking a good deal about whether I should worry because my upcoming new release is the thirteenth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series. Sorry, Knot Sorry is currently on preorder and will release June 4th. Suddenly, I’m keeping my fingers crossed (LOL!) that none of my readers suffer from Triskaidekaphobia.

The origin of the unlucky thirteen is often traced to both Christianity and Norse mythology. At the Last Supper on Good Friday, Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the thirteenth guest to arrive. Likewise, the god Loki was the thirteenth guest at the feast of Valhalla. After arriving, he tricked another guest into killing the god Baldur.

However, in some cultures, the number thirteen is considered lucky. Prior to World War I, thirteen was considered a lucky number in France. The numeral was a good luck symbol often found on postcards and charms. Thirteen is also considered lucky in Italy where it’s thought to bring prosperity and good fortune, especially when it comes to gambling. The same is true in Spain. In Egypt, it’s associated with prosperity and blessings.

Although many countries have a negative reaction to the number thirteen, quite a few have mixed feelings about it, and many simply view the number as ordinary and free of any superstition.

What about you? Are you superstitious? Post a comment for a chance to win a promo code for a free audiobook download of any one of the first nine Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries.


Sorry, Knot Sorry (preorder now, on sale 6/4)

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 13

Magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack may finally be able to pay off the remaining debt she found herself saddled with when her duplicitous first husband dropped dead in a Las Vegas casino. But as Anastasia has discovered, nothing in her life is ever straightforward. Strings are attached. Thanks to the success of an unauthorized true crime podcast, a television production company wants to option her life—warts and all—as a reluctant amateur sleuth.

Is such exposure worth a clean financial slate? Anastasia isn’t sure, but at the same time, rumors are flying about layoffs at the office. Whether she wants national exposure or not, Anastasia may be forced to sign on the dotted line to keep from standing in the unemployment line. But the dead bodies keep coming, and they’re not in the script.

Craft tips included.


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 where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

A Historical Mystery Based On The True Story of Marie-Joseph Angélique

This past holiday there was a special present under the tree – my new novel Conflagration! This is the seventh book in BWL Publishing’s Canadian Historical Mysteries series, and it takes us back almost three centuries to New France and an era when slavery was surprisingly and sadly commonplace. I’d like to share the opening pages with you.

Chapter 1 – Montréal
Friday, April 9, 1734

cover of book Conflagration! by donalee MoutonMud is everywhere. It defines Montréal in April. The snow continues its laborious melt, the ice in the St. Lawrence jostles the shoreline, the clouds hover relentlessly close to earth, and everywhere there is heavy, wet, sticky muck. It adheres to the sides of shoes, the bottoms of coats, and the brims of hats whipped to the ground by winds, there one minute, gone the next.

I look down. My boots are caked in grime, a primordial ooze from the earth, from under the sea, from crevices unknown. I will spend much of this evening cleaning heels, toe caps, and outsoles only to have more mud adhere tomorrow. These caked brown scars are visible reminders that I am not at home. Not at home in this town. Here I have no roots, no history.

Home is Acadie, another world away in another part of New France. My home, admittedly, has mud, but it is the mud pigs roll in to cool their skin, the mud farmers use to build dykes, the mud kids make patties with under the spring sun. Montréal mud is a nuisance, a bother, a reminder of life’s inconveniences.

I am feeling sorry for myself. I am missing my family. It happens. I accept the ache, acknowledge its origins, and move forward, literally through more mud. I remind myself of Madeleine, my wife. She makes life in here bearable. She makes life breathable.

The afternoon sun hides behind clouds. But even in disguise, its demise for the day is evident. Soon it will be dark. I need to push onward, deliver these papers, and make my way home before nightfall. Before the mud becomes invisible, and treacherous. The ground is still hard and much of it frozen; mud will not break a fall, but it will cause one. I need to be careful. For Madeleine.

* * *

map of Montreal 1734

Map of the St. Lawrence River, 1781 Joseph F.W. Des Barres, River of St. Lawrence, from Cock Cove near Point au Paire, up to River Chaudière Past Quebec, 1781. London: I.F.W. Des Barres. Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

A heavenly aroma greets me as a walk through the front door. We live several streets away from the merchants’ quarter, on rue Saint-Antoine, closer to where I work as a court clerk. Madeleine knows somehow today was a long day and a hot beverage will be welcome. The tea, a Bohea blend infused with orange peel, is a special treat. It helps to warm my chilled bones and reassure my feet they will work tomorrow. Madeleine places my boots at the front door. I will tackle them later.

Supper is hot and satisfying, smoked ham with potatoes, cabbage, and onion. More tea follows the meal. As does conversation. This is our time. Madeleine listens with her ears and her heart. This is my favorite time of day.

And I talk about mud. My wife knows I am not really talking about mud but about Montréal, this town that is my home and not my home. “There is mud in Acadie,” she says gently. She pats her stomach, almost absently, and reminds me that soon this town will also be the home of our first child.

“I’m sorry.” It’s the least I can say. What I can do is make our conversation what it should be and what it usually is: meaningful.

“I was in the lower town today.”

Madeleine smiles. “I bet it was muddy.”

“I saw a Panis slave. My guess, she is from the Fox Nation. Sold to someone here.”

“You see slaves every day. Yet you remember this one.”

“You are, as usual, right. I saw several slaves today on rue Saint-Paul alone. And a young servant girl. It all disconcerts me still.”

I am familiar with slaves. We have slaves in Acadie, but they work the farms, the field, the land as we all do. They seem part of the landscape. Perhaps they do not feel that way. I say this out loud to Madeleine. She does not dismiss the notion as odd as it may be in this town of 3,000 people that includes hundreds of slaves, maybe more.

“Do these slaves look differently to you? Do they act differently?”

They do not, and they do. “It is the vacant stares, the abbreviated eye contact. It does not sit well in my heart.”

“Another cup of tea will solve that.”

I will come to realize that what I see is the look of those imprisoned. It is the face of those who have no means of escape. Later I will associate it with the wall that surrounds Montréal.

I hate that wall. It closes me in. It is supposed to make me feel safe. It doesn’t.

Learn About The Author

Learn more about donalee on her author website:

On Naming Names

In my first stint as a magazine editor, I looked up from my desk one afternoon to see a young deliveryman at my office door, carrying a flower arrangement. He looked lost. “Can I help you?” I offered.

“Are you Gay?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

He grinned broadly and proudly declared, “So am I!”

We shared a laugh for a good minute before he set the flowers on my desk, wished me a great day, and disappeared down the hall.

In my twenty-four years on earth at that point, it was the first time I realized that, as a name, mine had become an anachronism. When I told my mother about the humorous encounter, she revealed that she and my Dad had debated among three names for me—Joy, Merry, or Gay—before they settled on the one I have.

Ever since the flower guy’s visit, I’ve always tried to avoid startling any new person I’m about to meet with what might sound like a sexual identity announcement. So, instead of the usual “Hi, I’m Gay,” I say, slowly and distinctly, “Hello, my name is Gay.”

“Gay?” one might repeat.

I nod. “That’s my name.

Naming a fictional character

Choosing names for fictional characters is tricky, too, because the name has to fit. What might it communicate about them and their story?

I first pondered this when I helped write the thriller Five Minutes to Midnight. The author was an international expert on terrorism, and not a native English speaker. To start with, he asked for help in naming the main character, who plied the same profession as he did. The hero was bold and dangerous. After playing with possibilities, I came up with Sartain. To my ears, it sounded like a good cross between the word “certain” and the ultimate tough guy, Satan. The author loved it.

In my own Samantha Newman Mystery Series, I chose Sam’s last name because it reflected her unlucky habit of having to reinvent herself in each book. Now, after the first three books, she’s  in a good place. But given her history, who knows how long it will last?

Do you have a favorite fictional character name? Please share it in the comments below.

Gay Yellen writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including: The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and The Body in the News.

Aerial photo of winding road

Plot Twists in Life and Books

by Mary Lee Ashford

Somehow there’s a lot going on in March. We are preparing for a discussion of our writing process and publishing paths – a program for our local Sisters in Crime chapter. And then at the end of the month, I’m moderating a panel at Only Books in the Building: A Writers Retreat on paths to publishing. So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the joy of writing and the twists and turns in the crazy and ever changing publishing business.  Like a twisty road where you don’t quite know what’s around the next turn, it can be both exciting and nerve-wracking at times.

Aerial photo of winding roadAs a part of the writing process the plot twists are, for me anyway, usually planned. Though there are those times when I’m deep into a project that the story takes a turn and I have to decide if that’s a road I want to go down or not. In most cases when I’ve taken that road it has ended up a better book in the long run.

In publishing, you’re not always in the driver’s seat and so the decisions are not always yours. In fact in the publishing world, sometimes the twists and turns are wonderful surprises and other times they are not exactly what you had planned. And sometimes what’s around the corner, much like in the writing process, ends up better than what you had planned.

When faced with one of those crazy turns, I always think about the John Steinbeck quote about writing. “The profession of book writing makes makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” But also, when there’s an unexpected twist, I find I have to remember why I started down this road in the first place and for me it’s all about the love of writing and the sharing of stories. So when my publisher decided not to continue the Sugar & Spice mysteries series and I was able to get the rights back to those stories, I didn’t know for sure what was next, but I kept writing. Sugar Calloway and Dixie Spicer still had stories to tell!

And now I’m very excited to share some news about what’s next on my publishing journey…

Three book cover for Sugar and Spice mysteries.

I am thrilled to be working with Oliver Heber Books and happy to announce the re-release of Game of Scones, Risky Biscuits, and Quiche of Death.  Book four is on its way soon and there will be more Sugar & Spice Mysteries coming. What do you think of the new covers?

And as 1/2 of Sparkle Abbey, I’m also continuing to work on the new series that we’ve talked about here – Shady Palms Mysteries.

Yes, somehow there really is a lot going on in March!


Photo of author Mary Lee Ashford

Mary Lee Ashford is the author of the Sugar & Spice mystery series from Oliver Heber Books and also half of the Sparkle Abbey writing team who pen the national best-selling Pampered Pets series. She is a lifelong bibliophile, an avid reader, and public library champion. Prior to publishing Mary Lee won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa as well as a member of Mystery Writers of America and Novelists, Inc. She lives in the Midwest with her family and her feline coworker.

She loves to connect with readers and other writers. You can find her on social media at Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest or email her via her website at:


For over 35 years, I’ve been writing, attending conferences and workshops, and making appearances. Like other authors, I’ve often been asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” (Even this morning at a coffee!)

With my background as a probation officer, attorney, politician, and judge (plus having worked s**t jobs over the 9 ½ years it took me to get my B.S.), in addition to being a wife, mother, daughter, aunt, grandmother, and having traveled around the world and lived in several states and countries and being a voracious reader—reading even the backs of cereal boxes and graffiti in public restrooms, I have no shortage of ideas. However, I have an additional resource I’d like to share: Found Objects.

I own a former fruitcake tin in which I keep found objects (except money, which I spend) unless the item is too big to fit inside. When I stumble upon something, my imagination takes off as I scurry to my Found Objects’ Tin to enhance my collection.

Once in the stall of a casino ladies’ room, I spotted a money wrapper on top of the toilet paper container. As a ex-bank teller, I knew money wrappers should not be in the same location as toilet paper since they aren’t used for the same purpose. Why was the wrapper there? Who left it? Should I tell the casino manager? Was someone embezzling money and going to head off down the road like Janet Leigh in Psycho?

One time at a conference, I found a slip of paper on which someone had written “Joe Loves me” “Joe Loves me Not” “Joe Lo” For years I’ve been wondering whether or not Joe loved her (or him). Was she/he at the same conference? Was Joe there? Is she/he married? Is Joe? Are they going to run away together? Maybe she’d been in Las Vegas and embezzled money and was questioning whether or not to flee with Joe? (Maybe she’d seen Psycho).

When my backyard was being prepared for landscaping, I found an earring. My house once belonged to a “mafia” family. Could there be a body below ground? Should I dig?

What about the love letter where a man named Richard apologizes to Phyl for leaving her for a few days while he sorts out his problems. What are his problems? Who is Phyl? For that matter, who is Richard? Does she really occupy all his thoughts as he states in the letter? Or is he thinking about going surfing with his friends while she takes care of the puppy he brought her as a peace offering?

Who in my neighborhood played tennis and lost a tennis ball in my yard? Or was the ball evidence of something? What about the teaspoon I found half buried in the dirt? And a key that could be from a stolen jewelry box? Did the person who dropped the grocery list remember everything she needed to purchase in order to create the perfect meal for her new mother-in-law? Was the skeleton earring part of a costume someone was wearing to a Halloween Ball? Was the inmate letter dropped by the intended recipient, or was it supposed to be trash?

My sister-in-law recently found a drone in her front yard. If I’d found it, I would have wondered, “Why is a drone in my yard?” “Was the drone hovering over my house?” “Is someone stalking me?” She posted about it on Next Door and returned it to the claimant. I’m not sure I would have…though it wouldn’t have fit in my Found Objects Tin.

What creative ways do you use to find ideas?

Susan P. Baker is the author of fourteen books and three in the works. She fends off ideas every day.




Magic Carpet Ride by Saralyn Richard

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

At a recent interview, I was asked whether I’ve always been attracted to mysteries, even as a child. That’s not the first time I’ve answered the question, but the more experience I have as a mystery writer, the more I’ve seen the power of mysteries, and I want to share my thinking.

I’m an eclectic reader and teacher of literature. I like to read all genres and nonfiction, plays, poems—you name it. But mysteries draw me in more than any other genre, and I think that’s because in no other type of book are the reader and writer so closely connected.

The intellectual puzzle of a mystery novel is a carefully planned path laid out by the author and followed by the reader. The steps, the clues, the evidence, the red herrings—all are set forth in a grand treasure hunt, and the reader is invited to join in. In accepting the invitation, a reader becomes complicit with the scheme. He enters the story as an ally or a sidekick of the sleuth, and he solves the mystery along with the character.

In order to enjoy the mystery fully, the reader must pay attention, not only to the intellectual puzzle, but also to the emotional puzzle. How do the characters relate to one another? What motivates one or more of them to commit a crime? How will the truth be discovered, and how will justice be administered?

The mystery is less about the actual killing of a person and more about the process of decision-making and problem-solving that will restore order to the world of the book. Yes, bad things happen in life, but clever people can overcome these bad things and find stability again. And if characters in books can achieve successful outcomes, people in real life can, also.

When I’ve read a good mystery, I feel I’ve connected with the author’s heart and soul. I know she’s an upright person who believes in doing the right thing. She’s taken me along with her on the journey, and, even if she’s dazzled and bewildered me, even when she’s twisted my thinking into knots and tossed me around the landscape of the novel, she’s held my hand throughout, and she’s taken pleasure in the fact that I’m still with her at the end.

I know these things because my favorite part of being a mystery author is doing those same things with my readers. The writer-reader connection is central to the mystery, and that’s what makes both reading and writing so much fun. Let’s hop on the magic carpet together and go for a ride.


Saralyn Richard writes award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries that pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. Her works include the Detective Parrott mystery series, two standalone mysteries, a children’s book, and various short stories published in anthologies. She also edited the nonfiction book, Burn Survivors. An active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature. Her favorite thing about being an author is interacting with readers like you. If you would like to subscribe to Saralyn’s monthly newsletter and receive information, giveaways, opportunities, surveys, freebies, and more, sign up at


Great to be a new member of the Stiletto Gang, the most talented writers I’ve come across in a group, probably ever. As an introduction, I’ll lay out the highlights of my literary journey below.


In 1962, my mother registered me for a writing class that was offered in summer school after the eighth grade. Only one other girl signed up, so the class was cancelled.


Once in high school, we were assigned a short story. I wasn’t present the day the teacher handed them back—I’d gone to the orthodontist—but when I returned to school, kids congratulated me on my story, saying the teacher read it to the class. The next day when she returned my story, I found she’d give it a B-.


My parents told me I couldn’t be a writer because I wouldn’t be able to make a living. I don’t know whether that is what would have happened. You never know what the future holds. But, I was an obedient child, at least for a while, so I said ok.


I didn’t know what else I might want to do. Dad wanted my sister and me to be teachers, so if our husbands died or abandoned us, we’d be able to support ourselves. My sister did and ended up as an administrator in a small public school district. Me? I dropped in and out of five colleges/universities until I was finally awarded a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice.


I once signed up, as an adult, for a writing class at the community college in our town, excited to finally get something going. When I received my first story back, the instructor had written that I had no talent—give it up.


After I began practicing law, I was lying around my living room once night and told my husband that if a writer could make $5,000 a pop for genre romance novels as it stated in the TV Guide article I read, I should try that. I read everything, including romances. I didn’t think it looked that hard. So, I bought some books on writing romances and sent for tip sheets and finally wrote one. I sent it off and waited for a response. The editor said no, she wouldn’t publish my novel, her rejection including some choice insults, and never to send her anything again.


I began writing suspense/mysteries in the 80s. My father was a criminal defense lawyer, (and later a judge), so I’d been around the law since I was little. I had been a probation officer and was at that time a criminal and family lawyer. Crime, I knew about. By the way, I heard that not long after the aforementioned editor rejected my novel, she died. Just so you know, I didn’t kill her.


When my editor at St. Martin’s Press, Inc. called me about MY FIRST MURDER, (my first published novel) he excitedly asked where I learned to write like that. He loved the book and said my manuscript was one of the best submissions he’d ever seen in terms of preparation, punctuation, etc. He loved it so much, a year later he rejected the sequel.


Enough of that. My point is, never give up. I had that first novel sale in 1988. I used the book as a political tool when I was running for office, donating copies across the county. What a great gimmick! I received free publicity and extra attention at every event, in addition to speaking engagements.


I was elected to the bench and took office on 1/1/91. My focus turned to being a sitting judge, modernizing practices and procedures in that court, including starting programs to help families and children. I continued to write whenever I could, though I didn’t have any other books published until after I left the bench at the end of 2002. In 2004, Eakin Press (a Texas publisher) released my nonfiction books: Heart of Divorce (which I wrote to help pro se litigants who couldn’t afford lawyers to prosecute their own divorces) and Murdered Judges of the 20th Century, which I researched and wrote over the previous six years, (and which began as evidence for the county commissioners that we needed courthouse security).


After that, I started submitting works I’d written while on the bench. I wanted to change my focus from the law to liberal arts. In 2015, I made the decision to self-publish. Though by then I had several mystery/suspense novels under my belt, I had grown tired of the traditional publishing process. I was aging out. The last straw was when an agent told me to cut my manuscript 20,000 words and submit it to her. I did, and never heard from her. That was it.


At sixty-five years of age, I was sick of the abuse most authors suffer at the hands of agents and editors. I was writing because I have to, not because I needed to. Or, as I often phrase it, I can’t not write. There was no joy, no pleasure in experiencing what they were dishing out. Where I had hoped for years to have the guidance and support of an agent and/or editor, I realized that would never happen. I have stories to tell. I’m constantly learning craft. I don’t care if I ever have huge sales. I’m having fun doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl with no pressure, no insults, no rejection. I love it.


Now, at 74, I spend a lot of my days writing or reading. I’m having fun living life my way. I never gave up. I suggest if you love to write, don’t let anyone discourage you either.

Susan has published 14 books in the last 30 or so years. Not all of them are mystery/suspense, but all of them have something to do with the law.

New Year – New Mystery

2024 Brings in the Mystery

As a multi-genre author who has written everything from mystery, sci-fi, crime, and fantasy, I know my genre hopping can get confusing to my readers.  But I started writing back when having a pen name was a closely guarded secret.  Now if you want to write in another genre, people pop out a new pen name.  Essentially they’re sub-branding themselves. I’m enthusiastic about the idea, but at this late stage where I’ve managed to write in all the genres I read as a young person I wonder if I should bother or if I should just do a periodic announcement to let people know where the boundary lines are.  And that means that whenever I announce that I have a new book coming out I get a lot of readers asking…

Yes, but what kind of book is this… like mystery, romance, what? (insert side-eye)

cover reveal image of the mystery novel "Eye Contact" - a young woman with faint text over her face wears cracked glasses with the reflection of a bionic eye in them. Above her the Seattle skyline makes the background for the novel's title "Eye Contact."However, since I haven’t had time to figure out what my pen names would be I guess I’ll just forge ahead with the name I’ve got and announce that I have a new mystery coming out! Eye Contact is a stand-alone, laugh-out-loud mystery set in Seattle. With a quirky cast of characters, including a ten-year-old big time wrestling fan, a few science nerds, and a couple of Chinese spies who REALLY dislike working with a guy who thinks he knows it all, this one should tickle a few funny bones.

EYE CONTACT: Lexi Byrne—UW grad student, brilliant researcher, and neurodivergent—is working on cutting edge research into bionic eye technology. But Lexi’s normal, safe, science-based life takes an abrupt left turn after her prototype is stolen. Lexi must fight her own limitations and lean on the strengths of her friends to stop a misogynistic, greedy thief and recover her work.

Join Lexi and her best friend Shea as they take on theft, spies, and dating.
RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2024
GENRE: mystery-comedy
AVAILABLE: All-retailers –

So will there be pen names?

Not unless I get a sudden burst of energy that would enable me to re-brand ALL of my books.  I’m not saying never, but for now I think I’ll stick with just trying to be very clear about my genres and making the occasional announcement.

Oh, look an announcement…

Find a complete list here:

GENRE: Murder & Crime

San Juan Island Murder Mysteries – Murder and laughs as Tish Yearly and her grandfather Tobias solve mysteries on their tiny Pacific Northwest Island home.
Steam level: kissing the boy next door, everything else is behind closed doors Available: All retailers

Shark Santoyo Crime Series – A very different mobster meets a very different teenager and together they take on the under world, the FBI, and the whatever else is standing in their way.
Steam level: Steamy, but we don’t get any nekkid action until book 3  Available: Amazon & Kindle Unlimited

The Christmas Carols – Crime meets romantic comedy in this trilogy of linked Christmas stories.  Steam level: Kissing  Available: Oh Holy Night & Winter Wonderland –  Amazon & Kindle Unlimited, Blue ChristmasAll Retailers OR FREE if you sign up for my newsletter

GENRE: Romantic Suspense

The Deveraux Legacy – Follow the lives of four cousins as they try to repair their broken family, find love and keep from getting killed.  Steam level: There be nekkid schmexy times ahead!  Available: All retailers

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

The Three Colors Trilogy – The Lucas Siblings want to change the world, they never expected to find their mates.  Steam level: We’re naked by chapter 3 Available: Amazon & Kindle Unlimited

The Rejects Pack – A group of wolves rejected by their birth packs band together to solve a historical and archaeological mystery and maybe find true love along the way. Steam level: We’re making out by chapter 3 and nekkid as soon as the warlocks stop chasing us Available: Amazon & Kindle Unlimited

Maverick & Wild Waters – Stand-alones in the same Supernatural world. Steam level: naked, naked, naked Available: Amazon & Kindle Unlimited – Maverick, Wild Waters



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 participates in many activities including swearing, karate, art, and yelling at the news. 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 TwitterFacebookInstagram, and BookBub.