Tag Archive for: murder mystery

Reggae Saved Me During the Pandemic of 2020 by Juliana Aragón Fatula


Dear Reader,
Twenty twenty-one, the pandemic year, I turned 64 and officially became a viejita. A little old woman. But not la abuelita, not a grandmother. No that didn’t happen. I’ve been waiting for decades, but my one and only son had decided that he hasn’t found the one to settle down and raise a family. Not yet. I have hope. I’ll take the blessing of having a son and remember the choice I made to only have one child. My man child is now late forties and it will take a miracle, but I believe in miracles and magic. 
Music has always been playing like a soundtrack to my life. Like a comedy/tragedy, my life spills out in a blur that has included alcoholism, drug addiction, jail, recovery, abuse, survival, mistakes, success, love, happiness, depression, fear, spirituality, anger, bravery, melancholy, absurdity, loathing, jubilation, wit, and wisdom. Mine has been an abundant and holy moly journey down the what a long strange trip it’s been. 
The music of the fifties filled my ears and I danced with my older siblings to Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, and Fats Domino. 
The sixties brought the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Motown Funk, and the blues of Roy Orbison. 
During the seventies, I smoke, rolled, burned, and puff puff passed the doobies to the Doobie Brothers, the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, never could spell their name right. And of course, there was the Cosmic Blues Band and Janis, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jackson Browne, Linda Rondstadt, Neil Young, The Eagles, and Joni Mitchell.
The eighties were for disco and punk music and the nineties were everything from rap to reggae to country to opera to tex-mex to Bollywood.
The twenties and the twenty-first century gave me a combination of blues and rockabilly. But in 2020, I dropped to my knees and asked the gods for deliverance and the answer came in Rastafarian Rap Reggaeton.
I danced away my Covid 19 blues and sang along with the Marley Boys. Collie Buddz gave me the inspiration to finish two manuscripts: One poetry book, Gathering Momentum and one murder mystery love story, The Colorado Sisters. I wore my Bluetooth headset religiously and danced under the clothesline, the grape arbor, the sunshine, the moonlight, and the rain. I sang and danced and grew giddy about life again. The music and the writing healed me like they always do. 
My friends worry I spend too much time isolated and not enough time Zooming and socializing on the websites, but I love being alone and listening to my music and writing my stories. It makes me incredibly devoid of anger towards covid idiots and non-believers in science and lets me trip around in unreality instead of the world we live in for real. The real world. 
So if you stop by and visit me, get my attention because my headset takes me to another world and I can’t hear a thing, not dogs barking, sirens blaring, kids crying, husbands yelling…
If you stop by, smell the roses and the tea simmering on the stove and sing along with me to the oldies as we grow old and tip toe through the tulips, or poppies.

San Juan Mystery Series

by Bethany Maines
I am currently working on book three
of the San Juan Island Murder Mystery series – An Unfamiliar Sea.  In the
San Juan series, Seattle native, Tish Yearly found herself fired from her day
job and evicted from her apartment all in one day. Desperate, the 26-year-old
ex-actress, heads for the one place she knows she’ll be welcome – the house of
her cantankerous, ex-CIA agent, grandfather, Tobias Yearly, in the San Juan
Islands of Washington state.  And of
course, upon her arrival on Orcas Island in An
Unseen Current
, Tish is thrown head-long into a mystery that pits her
against handsome but straight-laced Sheriff’s Deputy Emmett Nash, a group of
eccentric and clannish local residents, and a killer who knows the island far
better than she does.  Tish and Tobias
band together to solve the mystery and Tish settles into what she thinks is a
temporary stay on Orcas.  But in Against the Undertow, Tish is
considering making her stay permanent, while she and Tobias are facing down Nash’s
angry ex-wife, his psychotic ex-girlfriend and a strangely venomous group of
hippies as they try to solve the mystery of who killed Nash’s ex-wife’s
boyfriend.  And finally, I’ve arrived at An Unfamiliar Sea and Tish is trying to
build a business, a relationship and solve the mystery of who killed a local
Writing a series is fun,
but there is a lot of organization that has to be done to make sure that storylines
and characters stay consistent across the series. I use a spreadsheet that
tracks not just character names, but ages, descriptions, and affiliations, as
well as what book they were mentioned in. While this tool is invaluable, I have
found multiple instances where I did NOT make notes on a character and then
have to go back and look them up! If I could go back and kick my past self in
the shin, I would! Past Self is very spotty about note taking and could really
use a little more diligence.  Fortunately,
I have been graced with a Beta Reader who has read the entire series and will
hopefully pick up a little of Past Self’s slack. Please send thoughts and
prayers to my saintly Beta Reader as she cracks open An Unfamiliar Sea.
An Unseen Current – .99 cents
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kobo iTunes

the Undertow – $3.99 – Amazon • Kindle Unlimited

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery Series, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous
short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some
serious butt with her fifth degree 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 YouTubeTwitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

The Spirit of the Season

By Lynn McPherson
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Today is a great day for everyone to take time and reflect on what is important in life. Regardless of whether or not one believes in the religious origins of Christmas, we are all given the opportunity on this day to slow down. With almost every store and service closed, it is a perfect time to focus on family and friends. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of a busy life. Luckily, we have this special day to take pause and look around to appreciate what we have.
Some of my favorite things to do on Christmas are activities I rarely seem to have time for these days. Board games like Monopoly or Risk—those that can take hours to play—suddenly seem appealing. And who can resist a classic game of family charades? With turkey in the oven, it is the perfect time to challenge your favourite family members to a game.
Then there is the big meal. Will there be enough gravy? Can we manage to make it thick enough to please everyone? Inevitably, each cook in the kitchen will have advice on every aspect of the complicated meal. Last but not least, who is going to carve the turkey? How much butter can those potatoes withstand?
Each family seems to have traditions that they follow. My wee ones have taken to the idea that Santa should be given some healthy snack options along with his cookies. We have left out guacamole with whole grain tortilla chips now for three years running. They are proud to tell their aunts and uncles that they are helping to keep Santa healthy and happy. Do you have any family traditions that you would like to share?
Please take the day to enjoy whatever makes you happy. Quiet or loud, busy or relaxed, I hope you have a wonderful and memorable holiday season with those you love.
Cheers to all,

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


What’s in a Name?

--> By Lynn McPherson

One of my favourite things about cozy mysteries is the title. While an eye-catching cover is important, a clever pun has me giddy with glee to dig right in. The first cozy mystery I encountered was Murder, She Meowed, by Rita Mae Brown. My sister introduced me to it several years ago. It brought me so much joy, I actually kept the book in my purse for weeks—even after I finished the delightful story—because I just couldn’t get enough of the name.
Today, cozy titles still give me instant gratification. Ginger Bolton’s latest offering, Goodbye Crueller World, had me counting down the days for its release from the moment I heard its title. So, what is it that draws a reader in? For me, it is the promise of a story that captures the joy of the name. I know that when I am finished reading a cozy, justice will be restored without any tears shed. It is like a contract between author and reader.
But the title of the book is only one of many parts of a book that require a label. What about the characters? How important is it to choose the right name for each individual in a story?
I first began writing books soon after my first child was born. Choosing a name for her was something I had given countless hours to in the months leading up to her birth. After all, it wasn’t just me making the selection—my husband had opinions, too. We talked into the wee hours of the night on several occasions before our daughter was born discussing names we liked and those we didn’t. Compromise has never been my strong suit, but it was a fun exercise and made us both realize how the moniker one is given can present an image or leave an impression even before a person is known.
While I will refrain from giving you my personal spin on what goes into a good choice for a name or rules one should follow, I will leave the reader with my final thoughts, as an author and a mom. Do not make your choice an open discussion. Only involve one or (if you must) two individuals to agree on a name. Do not ask for opinions or suggestions from others or you will find yourself in an awkward position. We tend to seek approval from those around us that we love and care about. This is one of those rare occasions where I advise against it. Keep it simple and go with your gut.

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

[Lynn's Author Site] - [Buy Lynn's Book]

Love and Murder

by Sparkle Abbey

February, the month of love, brings thoughts of hearts and flowers, and (at least for those of us who write crime fiction) murder.

Love and murder go so well together. Why? Maybe because both
involve strong emotion. Let’s see, what do you suppose the main motives are for murder?
Thriller writer, John Lescroart lists on his website “14 Motives for Murder” 
but he summarizes them as love, lust, lucre, and loathing. We think
he’s onto something.

motive for a crime of passion, love and murder are clearly a great match. However, in addition, love also often becomes a part of the storyline for the characters solving the mystery. It’s no accident that popular crime shows, like Castle,
often feature a bit of romance. There’s been a lot of online discussion about
the Castle/Beckett pairing, and whether their upcoming wedding vows will ruin
the romantic tension in the show. Many fans of the 1980s private detective show Moonlighting felt getting
Maddie (Cybil Shepard) and David (Bruce Willis) together was responsible for
the demise of the popular show.

The idea of love and crime together has become so popular
over the years that there has become a whole sub-genre in movies and novels called
romantic suspense. These stories often have a central romantic theme as well as
the intrigue.
Lisa Gardner, a master of suspense
fiction, talks about the hazy definitions of the sub-genre and some of the
prejudices in her great series of lectures on the Secrets of Romantic Suspense
. Kinsey Millhone, Sue Grafton’s, no-nonsense PI isn’t really the romantic type, but still there have
been a few men her in life from Dietz, a fellow PI, to longtime friend, Cheney. In some mysteries, there’s a full-blown love interest and in others there’s just a hint of romance.

In our Pampered Pets mystery series featuring former Texas beauty queen cousins,
Caro and Melinda, we truly had no plans to go there. But…well, the stories just
naturally evolved to encompass a bit of “love, lust, lucre and loathing.” And
no spoilers here, but we think you’ll like where the series is headed. 

So what do you think? Do you like a serving of love with
your mystery? 
Or would you rather keep the hearts and flowers far away from
your crime fiction? We’d love to hear what you think!
Coming soon: Our first short – “Project Dogway” (Out
February 24th

Adventures in Nature

Full Disclosure: I’m not an outdoor girl. My idea of camping is a hotel without room service. And yet, I’ve just returned from one of the best vacations I’ve ever had…and me and nature mixed it up.

The husband and I headed off to Bar Harbor a week ago. Let’s just say that the loooooong car ride did not bode well for an anniversary celebration. But a good night’s sleep and some pancakes with native wild blueberries, made me believe that the husband could live another day. Bar Harbor is a quaint village by a restless ocean. It’s got a library to die for…and Acadia National Park.

I’ve been to parks before – but they’ve always been little preserves of nature in the midst of concrete (think Central Park). But this was acres of lush foliage, filled with incredible contrasts from a sandy beach to a soaring peak. We hiked about five miles through the park, and while I won’t try to convince you that I scaled Mt. Everest in sandals, I’d like to think I held my own with Mother Nature. Frankly, I wanted a brass band to play when I used the outhouse provided for hikers, but I suspect that I don’t get to be called Nature Girl until I really get back to nature, if you catch my drift. All that hiking stirs up an appetite so we ended our trek at the Jordan Pond House – with scrumptious popovers and fish chowder.

Alas, our time in Bar Harbor was way too brief, but we’re already planning a return trip. We next headed to Prince Edward Island, across a nine-mile bridge. There we found clean air, rolling green farmland, and lighthouses that dot the rocky shores of the cool crisp waters. But though I’d never been to PEI before, I felt immediately at home, thanks to the delightful series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables. Exactly one hundred years ago, we were first introduced to the fictional PEI town of Avonlea and the red-haired orphan Anne (with an “e,” as she insisted) Shirley stole into our hearts.

Of course, there is a commercial side to this native heroine. Tourism is as big a crop as the native potatoes and strawberries grown here. In Charlottetown Centre, there is an Anne Shirley shop, where a saleswoman dressed in a period costume, also sported a tongue stud. There are Anne Shirley chocolates, Anne Shirley soda (red, because Anne declares, “I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other color.”), and Anne Shirley dolls, books, and DVDs.

I bought a new copy of the book from the tongue-studded Anne, and reveled once again in the never-out-of-date story of the little girl with the “vivid imagination,” who roamed the natural paradise of Prince Edward Island. I’m not quite ready for my Girl Scout nature badge, but my stay in nature sparked my own “vivid imagination.” How about murder in a national park?? But the amateur sleuth stays in a quaint Bed and Breakfast with indoor plumbing??

Evelyn David