Clicking Our Heels – Our Favorite Lines from Books

Clicking Our Heels – Our Favorite Lines from Books

The words authors write are often called “Darlings.” Most of the members of the Stiletto Gang have written several books, stories, or reviews. Have you ever wondered what line we’ve written that is our favorite or what line we’ve read that we wished we wrote? We’re letting you in on our secret favorites:

 Lois Winston – A first line should be a tease that makes the reader want to continue reading the first paragraph, which for me is more important than the first line. One of my favorites is from A Stitch to Die For, the fifth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series:

Two weeks ago my mother, Flora Sudberry Periwinkle Ramirez Scoffield Goldberg O’Keefe, took her sixth trip down the aisle to become Flora Sudberry Periwinkle Ramirez Scoffield Goldberg O’Keefe Tuttnauer. The groom’s daughter was a no-show. At the time of the ceremony her body was being fished out of the Delaware and Raritan Canal in Lambertville, New Jersey.

Gay Yellen – The current favorite is in my newest release, The Body in the News, when Samantha Newman says, “There’s a big difference between working in the news business and being in the news, and right now I wouldn’t give a dime for either one.”

Donnell Ann Bell – What a timely question. I read two great lines today from The Forgotten Man: An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel.  One scene involves fourteen-year-old runaway Elvis Cole, who is hellbent on finding his father. The lines that struck me are: “Parents should come with a license.” Then one with stellar foreshadowing: “You have a knack for this, I gotta give you that. Here you are, a kid, and you track these bastards down like a professional. You’d make a helluva detective.”

Mary Lee Ashford (1/2 of Sparkle Abbey)- This was a hard question, but I’m going to go with the first line from Desperate Housedogs. “I don’t normally break into people’s home, but today I was making an exception.”  It will come as no surprise to my fellow writers that this wasn’t the original first line, but one that came after many passes through the story.

Debra Sennefelder – My favorite line so far is from my newest release, A CORPSE AT THE WITCHING HOUR, when Drew sees Hope’s ugly Halloween sweater.

“Oh. My. Ghouls.”

T.K. Thorne – I actually have two favorite lines, both from Na’amah, a young girl in my historical novel, Noah’s Wife. She is on the spectrum and wants only to be a shepherdess in her beloved hills. She begins her story with this: “My name, Na’amah, means beautiful or pleasant. I am not always beautiful, but I am pleasant.”

Na’amah was amazing with her sheep, but very bad at traditional women’s work. After an intense scene and having sex for the first time, she made a comment to herself that was true to her character but one I wasn’t expecting: “Maybe I will be better at this than sewing.”

Dru Ann Love – “And there she is,” I say, a moment later, “the Cyclone, standing tall for ninety-five years. Isn’t she majestic?” From “Ticket To Ride” from the Happiness Is a Warm Gun-Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of The Beatles anthology.

Saralyn Richard – Quinn’s family always joked about death, but that summer death stopped being funny. —from Bad Blood Sisters.

Bethany Maines – Well, I find myself hilarious, so that’s a tough call.  I’ve had some lines that I love, but oddly I’m probably most proud when I really get it right on my marketing materials.  Writing in a novel, while difficult, is like painting a wall sized mural –there’s a lot of space to work. Getting a line write in a marketing piece where you get maybe 5 seconds to catch someone’s attention is a lot more difficult to do.  So probably, I’m most proud of the line from my San Juan Island Mystery Series, “This island is full of private little wars. And murder.”

Barbara J. Eikmeier – It’s so hard to choose, so I’ll just say that I always love the line, in any book, that explains the title of the book.

Anita Carter (1/2 of Sparkle Abbey) – I can’t think of a specific line, but there have been times when I’ve reread a passage during edits and I’ve thought, hey that was pretty good.

Debra H. Goldstein – “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” (Rebecca)

NEVER GET DISCOURAGED

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 – books2read.com/Maines-Eye-Contact

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: bethanymaines.com/catalog/

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.

 

Gay Yellen: The Return Trip

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re driving to somewhere you’ve never been before, searching for street signs, hoping you don’t get lost in an unfamiliar part of town. Finally, you arrive, conduct whatever business you came for, and head home.

But as you retrace your route, you begin to notice singular, interesting sights that you’d ignored on your way there. Oh! That must be the new soccer stadium I’ve read so much about, and there’s that new CosMc’s!

macrovector/freepik

E. L. Doctorow once said that writing a novel is like driving at night in the fog. Even though you’re only able to see as far as your headlights, you can still make it to your destination that way.

I’d add this: it’s only after you complete the round trip home that you realize where you’ve been. This is what happened to me when The Body in the News became Book 3 in the Samantha Newman Mystery Series.

The revelation appeared as I recalled a late, spur-of-the moment decision I’d made to introduce a very minor character into Chapter 9 of the book.

Meet Apollo, the sugar glider (and a possible metaphor).

Wikipedia

This tiny Pacific island marsupial weighs only 4 to 5 ounces. In the book, he arrives at Samantha’s door, sitting atop the head of a person who’s come to help Sam get through a pesky roadblock in her search for a happy life.

I meant to use Apollo as a bright spot during a dark moment in Samantha’s journey. He’s a creature who is almost too cute for his own good. But as I did my research, I learned that sugar gliders are very popular with exotic pet lovers, and that’s bad news for the little critters.

Now, back to yesterday…

…when I suddenly realized that Apollo and Sam had both been dropped into strange and hostile predicaments. And they each needed to get to a place where they belong.

I could claim that I’d planned Apollo’s situation to be a metaphor for Sam’s struggles, except that I saw the connection only after completing my own foggy writing journey to the end of Book 3. But I’m glad Apollo showed up to help her contemplate new hope for the future, even if I hadn’t seen it coming.

Writers always welcome a little bit of magic to grace our creative attempts, something that can intrigue our readers and add a little spark to our work. Even unplanned, a very minor character can be exactly that.

Gay Yellen is the author of the  award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries include The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and The Body in the News!  Now available on Amazon.

Contact her at GayYellen.com

The Places We Go

By Barbara J Eikmeier

One of my favorite things about reading is “going to new places” when the setting in the story takes me away. Sometimes I unintentionally read several books set in similar places, such as WW2 Europe. Or, I end up reading books where the setting is either not well developed or not important to the story. Recent book choices have taken me far away to unique environments. For example,  Lucy Foley places her creepy stories in creepy places like remote Irish islands or desolate lodges in the Scottish Highlands. David Baldacci put his newest FBI superstar in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The unusual settings made for interesting reading.

This past summer I hit a “great setting” jackpot with three books in a row with settings that quickly took me into the story and kept me there for the duration.

Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate (2022) is the tragic tale of orphans under the care of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in the 1930s. The story alternates between present day South Carolina and in the past near Memphis, TN. The protagonist in the past lived with her family on the Arcadia, a shanty river boat.

As I read Wingate’s words I felt the sun and heard the sparrows sing and saw the “fat bass” jump out of the water. She paints a picture of white pelicans flying over, headed north, indicating that summer has just begun. Later in the orphanage May gets her hands on a copy of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn which makes her long for her home on the river.

The story isn’t about the river so much as it is the people who lived on that shanty boat, but the setting of the river is so beautifully developed that it has stayed with me long past the horror of the orphanage and the final pages of the novel.

One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker (2019) is set in the shadow of the Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming in 1878. This book captivated me at page one. My mother lived until age 14 on a homestead in Wyoming so novels set there pique my interest. Twenty miles from town is not hard to imagine if you’ve ever driven across the Wyoming plains.

The story meanders along and although there are some great climatic moments it is the way the young couple work in harmony in the every day setting of their homestead just to survive that kept me reading. Young Beaulah, ‘a little light in the head’ is fascinated with all aspects of nature and I never tired of her teaching Clyde to notice the neat rows of seeds in a pod, or the shimmer on a bug’s wings or how the river sounds and the grass swishes.

I said to my sister-in-law, who loaned me the book, “That story isn’t in a hurry to get anywhere, and surprisingly, it doesn’t bother me. I sort of don’t want it to end.” Rich in sensory detail I now want to visit the Big Horn Mountains myself.

Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls (2023) is set in the hollers of Virginia in the 1920s. Walls masterful storytelling places young Sallie Kincaid in charge of collecting rent from residents of the county, most of whom live up in the hollers. The story touches on many social topics, is filled with rich characters and plenty of tragedy all placed in a specific setting in rural Claiborne County of Virginia..  The setting is so well described that when the bootleggers turn their headlights off and move through the county under moonlit it’s as if we can see as well as the drivers.

I read every night before going to sleep. It often takes me 2-3 weeks to finish an average length novel but I flew through these books and I’m hoping the next one I pick up will have just as rich a setting as these past three.

Barbara J. Eikmeier is a quilter, writer, student of quilt history, and lover of small-town America. Raised on a dairy farm in California, she enjoys placing her characters in rural communities.

It’s a Mystery!

 “We should go back down so Nash doesn’t think I’m involving myself in a police investigation.” “Well, Nash is definitely not going to buy that,” said Tobias, leading the way. “He’s not only met you, he knows you, and has seen you naked.” “I’m not sure what that has to do with anything,” said Tish. “Your grandma always knew when I was up to something,” said Tobias. “That’s because you were always up to something,” objected Tish. Quote from the mystery novel - An Unfinished Storm by Bethany Maines

San Juan Islands Mystery #4

This October 23rd will see the release of An Unfinished Storm—book 4 in the San Juan Island Mystery series. When I started the series I had just started my own business, but I was still spending a few hours a week with my grandmother attempting to clean out her house. The things she thought needed cleaning and what I thought needed cleaning were quite different, but I soldiered on because I knew that even if all cleaned up on was the crossword puzzle she didn’t mind because she liked the company.  My biggest complaint were all of the political solicitations for donations that she wouldn’t let me throw out.  At one point I secretly sent about fifty “please remove me from your list” letters.  I also tried to bring in the mail when she wasn’t looking so that I could pre-recycle a large amount before they got to her. I adored my grandmother, but having her fret about not having opened and read every piece of mail was enough to drive me bonkers.  So that was the state of mind I was in when I started this story about a girl who gets fired and ends up solving mysteries with her grandfather.  It was a lovely chance to reflect on my experience and inject some reality into the book.

Legacies

My grandmother passed away at the age of 96.  She was hilarious and sharp to the end although she did better in a quiet environment because her hearing wasn’t as good as it used to be.  Her collection of Dick Francis and Agatha Christie novels went to good homes, but I know that her legacy can also still be found in my books as Tish and Tobias  putter around, solve murders, and still leave time for afternoon naps and watching Quincy M.D. on VHS.   Not that my grandmother ever solved mysteries, but I like to think that we both would have liked the chance.  We both loved all the murder mystery shows like Perry Mason, Matlock, Quincy M.D., Murder She Wrote and the Rockford Files. I told someone recently that the San Juan series was like if Matlock and Psych had a baby and then threw in some Death in Paradise for island vibes and I stand by that. With Tish and Tobias surrounded by the quirkiness of island life as well as a few murderous villains I hope the books make readers laugh as much as my grandmother would have.  I also hope that readers are inspired to go hug their own grandparent and for goodness sake, throw out the political ads before they make it in the house.  No one needs that much junk mail in their life.

 

If you’re interested in Tish and Tobias Yearlys journey through the San Juan Islands, you can find out more from all the usual book selling suspects.

***

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.

HOAs: Miss Marple Would Fit Right In

Dear Stiletto Gang Readers and Contributors: No surprise here, I’m traveling again and it’s my day to blog.  I do have an outstanding surprise for you. My dear friend Author Linda Lovely is here in my stead to promote her HOA Mystery series and upcoming release, A Killer App available on November 7th. Please welcome Linda Lovely to The Stiletto Gang! ~ Donnell Ann Bell

HOAs—Miss Marple Would Fit Right In

Author Linda Lovely

By Linda Lovely

Where might Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple hang her hat if she were teleported to the U.S. in 2023? Where could the snoop find the ambience of sleepy St Mary Mead? Where could the spinster sniff out villains among her neighbors?

Some 355,000 common-interest communities offer Miss Marple condo, coop, and homeowner association (HOA) choices aplenty. Societal heirs to yesteryear’s villages—HOAs are now home to 74 million people.

And they make ideal settings for mysteries. If neighbors don’t actually know each other, they’ve heard whispers about the folks they’ve yet to meet. When a murder occurs, the rumor mill makes it easy to churn out suspect lists.

Plus, the inevitable power struggles provide motives and subplots. Think the GOP House of Representatives’ current infighting on a more intimate scale. Who backs more rules and restrictions? Who wants to scale them back? Who favors special assessments to add pickleball courts? Who thinks annual dues are too high?

These power struggles take on real emotional weight if changes directly impact an owner’s home—his or her castle. For instance, how would you feel if a dog park was proposed for the vacant lot next to your house?

Once I decided to write an HOA Mystery series, I knew the crimes couldn’t be confined to a single HOA. After all, who’d want to live in a place like Cabot Cove with its sky-high homicide rate?

To solve that problem, my heroine, Kylee Kane, works for a friend’s HOA management firm. The company has a dozen HOA clients in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Kylee, a retired Coast Guard investigator, has the experience and skills to be a realistic sleuth when trouble surfaces in any of these tight-knit enclaves.

Are HOA management companies common? I was somewhat surprised that only 35 percent of HOAs are run by volunteers. The rest leave the nitty-gritty work to 8,500 firms that specialize in managing HOAs.

Guess it shouldn’t be a shock. Owners who hold full-time jobs aren’t eager to pile more responsibilities on their plates, while retirees may feel they’ve earned the right to relax and travel. By and large, owners in both categories don’t want to prepare budgets, collect fees, manage landscape vendors, assess fines, or force neighbors to tear down a fence that doesn’t meet specs or repaint shutters an approved shade of green.

Of course, a few people LOVE to file complaints against neighbors over nitpick infractions. Guess that’s one reason that 2021 saw 263 complaints filed against 180 different HOAs in South Carolina, where my HOA Mystery series is set.

Like almost any group with more than two people, HOAs can hatch conflict. There’s no guarantee the folks who elect to buy in seaside HOAs will have a shared vision of an ideal community. Some will want to specify which plants are permitted and how many can be planted in a yard. Others will want to install vegetable gardens and native plants.

Some folks will view all trees, especially Palmetto and pine trees, as view-blocking weeds to be cut down. Nature lovers will strive to protect the trees for erosion control and wildlife habitat. As a result, cliques form, gossip passes for gospel, and outcasts long for revenge.

I’ve asked readers to tell me about HOA rules they find unreasonable. I’ve been told the ones listed below appear in the bylaws of at least one HOA.

  • Multicolored outdoor holiday lights are banned. Is the Grinch the enforcer?
  • Owners are only allowed to keep garage doors open five-minutes. Who mans the egg timer?
  • All drapes and window coverings must have white linings facing the outside. What happens if Joe Blow takes down all window coverings in protest and parades in his birthday suit?
  • If an owner wants to sell a home, he must pay the HOA to display a For Sale sign. Said sign can only be appear in an interior window.

While few of us hang out with rock stars, hitmen, or bitcoin tycoons, we know our neighbors—from the quietly heroic to the bullies. Familiar characters and homeowner passions make it easy for readers to relate to HOA tales.

I do attempt to showcase well-run HOAs as well as those in constant upheaval. The difference? Usually it’s the individuals who serve on the board. Did they run to push personal agendas? Or do they want to listen to neighbors and search for consensus on important issues?

My main goal in writing My HOA Mystery series is to entertain. (Okay, there is the bonus of killing off stand-ins for the types of folks who annoy me.) But I also hope my mysteries spotlight strategies to promote peace and harmony within HOAs.

About the Book:

Deepfakes Can Be Murder

Kylee Kane, a security consultant for Welch HOA Management, finds the first victim, Andy Fyke, crumpled at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Kylee suspects his fall’s no accident and is tied to Andy’s campaign to prohibit rentals in his Hilton Head Island community. Yet, Andy’s obvious enemies have ironclad alibis.

When another Lowcountry HOA retiree dies in a hit-and-run boat tragedy, Kylee begins to think the incidents are linked—even though the victims and their assailants have little in common.

The link is the Chameleon, an Artificial Intelligence expert, who can create a deepfake of almost anyone—living or dead. Even more frightening is the Chameleon’s ability to seek out disturbed souls and laser-focus their rage. A talent employed to compel subjects to act as surrogate assassins.

When Kylee begins to pursue the Chameleon, the AI expert decides it’s time to groom an assassin to permanently sideline Kylee.

You can learn more about Linda Lovely and/or sign up for her newsletter at Welcome (lindalovely.com)

 

Next Stop: The Islands

Ahhhh…. The Islands

Sounds so dreamy and vacation-y, doesn’t it? I’m working on book four of my San Juan Islands Mystery series.  A book that I have been swearing that I will get to for about three years. And I’m finally doing it! And good lordy do I hate the islands. It’s not vacation. It’s a slog.  All of which is completely unfair to the islands. It’s not their fault that I’ve been procrastinating.  Or that I named three different people Cooper.  Or that I chucked out at least three different plots before I got to this one.

So Whose Fault is it?

Oh.  Yeah. It’s mine.  But taking responsibility really throws off a good rant. Part of the problem is that past self did not set me up for success. At three books in, you would think that I would do what I usually do with a series – start a spreadsheet.  Keeping a spreadsheet of characters names, a general description, and what books they appear in really cuts back on how many people are named Cooper.  (We’re now down to one.  The other two got magical name changes.) But when I started the series I didn’t intend for it to be a series. It was supposed to be a fun standalone mystery about an ex-actress and her ex-CIA agent grandfather solving mysteries in the islands of Washington State. The problem is that Tish and Tobias Yearly are funny and fun to hang out with.  Also, they just keep finding bodies, so… they keep needing more books.  It is not my fault.  It’s theirs. Blame the Yearlys.

And What Are You Going to do About it?

Keep better notes? I really am trying this time.  I revived the spreadsheet.  Added all those extra people I forgot about.  And I’m swear I’m this close >< to being done with book 4 – An Unfinished Storm.  Tish and Tobias are battling life, love, and Hollywood and trying to keep a police detective from jumping to some very wrong conclusions.

If you’re interested in Tish and Tobias Yearlys journey through the San Juan Islands, you can find out more from all the usual book selling suspects.

***

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.

Guilty About Reading Genre?

Have you ever felt guilty for reading a cozy, a mystery, or a romantic novel instead of delving into one of the great books, like Homer’s Iliad or Proust’s Swan Way or a classic like Virginia Wolf’s A Room of One’s Own?

I grew up in northern Mexico and I attended a fantastic high school that was accredited in both Mexico and the US, giving students the opportunity to attend the university in either country.

The school offered a two-semester English literature class. The teacher was a dynamic, talented woman who instilled in her students the love for the classics and the great books. She also encouraged us to shun genre and to avoid soap operas, quite popular at the time.

I moved to the US in my mid-twenties and soon discovered romance novels. After devouring a romantic story with a happy ending, I’d run to the library to borrow books by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky to balance my reading guilt. Compare the fun of reading genre to the lessons of the great books. It’s very different reading! The great books represent the foundations of Western Culture’s ethics, social norms, values, and ideas that stem from the Greco-Roman tradition. Genre, on the other hand, is pure entertainment.

Fast forward a few years when I was working in international finance and traveling the world for my corporate job.

On a flight between New York and Buenos Aires, Argentina, I missed my connection in Miami. I window-shopped airport stores in search of something to do until the next flight. A bookstore, displaying mountains of books set on tables that stretched down the hall, caught my eye.

The year was 2001 – the year I discovered the mystery novel. I purchased Tell No One by Harlan Coben and I was immediately hooked on mysteries. My new-found love in reading would disappoint my wonderful literature teacher back in Mexico, yet for the rest of my international finance career, I carried a mystery or two to read on long flights.

Mysteries became an important part of my life. So important, in fact, that I left the corporate world to write the Nikki Garcia mystery series, setting my stories in a few of those international locations where I traveled. Do I still feel guilty? Not at all!

At a book signing four years ago, I met Harlan Coben. I told him his novels influenced me to write mysteries.

And my former teacher says she loves my novels and she’s thrilled that one of her pupils became a writer. Instead of feeling like a wayward former student, I’ve converted her to reading genre.

***

About Kathryn

Kathryn Lane writes mystery and suspense novels usually set in foreign countries. In her award-winning Nikki Garcia Mystery Series, her protagonist is a private investigator based in Miami. Her latest publication is a coming-of-age novel, Stolen Diary, about a socially awkward math genius.

Kathryn’s early work life started out as a painter in oils. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with Johnson & Johnson.

Two decades later, she left the corporate world to create mystery and suspense thrillers, drawing inspiration from her travels in over ninety countries as well as her life in Mexico, Australia, Argentina, and the United States.

She also dabbles in poetry, an activity she pursues during snippets of creative renewal. In the summer, Kathryn and her husband, Bob Hurt, escape the Texas heat for the mountains of northern New Mexico.

Stolen Diary

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BSHFRD11

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Diary-Kathryn-Lane/dp/1735463833/

Photo credits:

Girl Reading by Camille Corot, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Harlan Coben and Kathryn Lane by Bob Hurt

Summertime…and the TBR pile is calling!

By Lois Winston

A Crafty Collage of Crime, the 12th book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, released six weeks ago. After a multi-week blog tour to promote the book, I’ve now officially entered the period I call “me” time, a mini-vacation I permit myself after each new book leaves the security of the laptop womb and before I begin seriously thinking about the next book. Much of that “me” time is spent binge-reading (especially since it’s too hot to leave the house!) I’m trying to make a sizable dent in my virtual TBR pile before I add another book to my Kindle library. Here are the books I’ve read so far (in the order I read them) and what I thought.

 

Murder at the Pontchartrain by Kathleen Kaska

Kathleen Kaska always delivers, and once again she doesn’t disappoint in Murder at the Pontchartrain, the sixth book in her delightful 1950s era Sidney Lockhart Mystery Series. This time Sidney and Dixon are in New Orleans, having decided to elope, but it doesn’t take long for a dead body to show up in their hotel room, delaying the nuptials and plunging them into yet another murder investigation as the bodies begin to pile up and Dixon finds himself locked up. Kaska had me guessing whodunit until the very end, and those are the best murder mysteries.

 

The Tiffany Girls by Shelley Noble

A brilliant blending of fact and fiction. When a Parisian woman artist is forced to immigrate to New York, she secures a position at the Tiffany Glass Works, working beside the real women responsible for many of the designs and much of the work attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany. Noble has woven a well-researched historical novel that will draw you in and keep you turning pages.

 

The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis

A fascinating look at an American woman who worked as an OSS operative in Spain during WWII. I just wish the author had delved more into her life in this biography and spent less time celebrity name-dropping. I also wanted more narrative action and less dry summarization of events.

 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

For such a prolific playwright, so little is known of William Shakespeare’s life and family, including the circumstances of his young son’s death. In Hamnet, the author weaves an engaging tale of what might have occurred and how it may have become the catalyst for one of Shakespeare’s greatest works.

 

Dead Men Need No Reservations by Terry Ambrose

The latest edition to Terry Ambrose’s Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries doesn’t disappoint. I always love spending a few hours with these characters, especially Alex, the precocious thirteen-year-old wannabe sleuth. If you’re in the mood for a light mystery and a few chuckles along the way, this book will give you both.

 

Going Rogue by Janet Evanovich

No matter the lemons in your life, spend a few hours with Stephanie Plum, and you’ll be sipping lemonade. Going Rogue is just as entertaining as all the other books in the series and will certainly make you forget your cares–at least for a little while–as you slip into Stephanie’s world.

 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I had never gotten around to reading this acclaimed Christie mystery, but I did figure out whodunit before the denouement, so for me that was a bit of a disappointment. However, what’s not to love about Monsieur Poirot?

 

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel this book lived up to the first in the series. I really enjoyed Magpie Murders, but this sequel seemed forced, contrived, and often plodding. I’m someone who enjoys the “book-within-a-book” format when it’s done well, but that wasn’t the case here. The style works best when the two stories alternate, not when the entirety of the second book is dropped into the middle of the other. However, he did keep my guessing whodunit until the end.

 

In addition, I’ve read several mysteries for a contest I was judging and one where I was asked to write a blurb, but since the contest winners have yet to be announced, and the blurb book is not yet published, I can’t mention anything about them.

Now I’m off to tackle the next book on my list…but before I go, If you’re planning a road trip and looking for an audiobook to pass the drive time, I still have a few promo codes available for a free download of A Stitch to Die For, the fifth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series. Post a comment about your summer reading for a chance to win one.

~*~

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.