Tag Archive for: #mysteries

Always the Season for Kindness

By Saralyn Richard

Photo courtesy of Jasper Garratt and Unsplash Free Photos

When I was an English I teacher, I assigned my students a “Day of Kindness” paper, based on the Shirley Jackson short story, “One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts.” The resulting papers and speeches led to a powerful discussion of good and evil, and how doing good deeds made the world a better place, even for the giving party.

That same concept of good vs. evil is basic to most mystery novels, including the Detective Parrott mysteries. Parrott, like most real-life law enforcement officers I know, chose the profession because he wanted to seek truths, right wrongs, administer justice, and bring a measure of peace and closure to victims and their families.

Sometimes his is a thankless job. The person most grateful for Parrott’s solving a crime might be the deceased victim. But Parrott finds satisfaction in his role, whether he is turning up evidence to prove someone’s guilt or someone’s innocence. In either case, he is protecting the community.

Parrott can be tough when he needs to, but underneath it all, he’s a kind and caring human being. Over and over again, readers see the kindness and compassion he shows to his wife, his mother, his boss, and even his suspects.

Fortunately, we don’t have to be detectives to follow Parrott’s example. We can show kindness at this season, and in every season. Anyone who’d like some fresh ideas for acts of kindness to perform might check out this list.

If you’re inspired to do a good deed by this blogpost, I’ll ask you, as I asked my students, what did you do, whom did you help, what reaction did you receive, and how did the experience make you feel? I hope you agree—it’s always the season for kindness.

Saralyn Richard writes the Detective Parrott Mystery Series, two standalone mysteries, and a children’s book narrated by her Old English sheepdog, Nana. To learn more about her, click here.


I’m often asked which of my books is my favorite, and I can never answer directly. It’s like picking one of your children over the others. I love every book for its unique qualities, its characters, its relationship to my own life. BAD BLOOD SISTERS is my first book set in my hometown, on an island on the Gulf Coast. The main character, Quinn McFarland, struggles with issues of identity, friendship, and betrayal. The whole story is told through Quinn’s point of view, so we get to know and care about her deeply. Also, I wrote the book during Covid lockdown. Quinn’s story occupied my whole life, day and night, for almost a year, and I still think of her often. Quinn might be my Scarlett O’Hara.

NAUGHTY NANA, a children’s picture book, is narrated by my real-live Old English sheepdog, Nana, whose puppyhood was fraught with mishaps in the extreme. My first foray into the world of writing, NAUGHTY NANA introduced me to an illustrator, an audience, public appearances, and all the joys of connecting with readers. Having Nana by my side throughout this adventure has been a spectacular privilege. Nana could be my Curious George—in the book and in real life.


A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL might be my most personal novel, since it is set in an urban high school in the Midwest. I served as an educator in several such schools—they were my homes away from home. I do a lot of research for all of my books, but I did the least amount of research for this one, because my own experience and expertise carried me through most of the story. Assistant Principal, Sally Pierce, who resembles me in a few ways (but is overall purely fictional), is a fascinating amateur sleuth, and R.J. Stoker, the renegade principal who brings unwanted changes to Lincoln High School, is one of my favorite all-time characters.


And then I must consider the three books in the Detective Parrott Mystery Series. MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, and CRYSTAL BLUE MURDER. Each of these is also my favorite. Set in the elite countryside of Brandywine Valley, where many of America’s wealthiest and most powerful live, each story is different (and can be read as a standalone), but each brings a new slant on human nature, particularly as it’s affected by money and material things. The main character, Detective Oliver Parrott, is an outsider in the community, which gives him the unique ability to see through the roadblocks thrown at him by the one percenters, who protect their secrets and their turf at all costs. Detective Parrott, despite being young and inexperienced, is a fully-realized agent for truth and justice, and his personal life, including relationship with fiancée (and later wife) Tonya, adds depth and humanity to the stories.  Parrott is a wonderful human being, someone who whispers in my ear, commenting on social issues, even at times when I’m not writing him. Parrott is my Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, or Harry Bosch.

Is there a book you’ve read (or written) where you felt galvanized by the main character?


Galveston Author Saralyn Richard

Visit my website here for more information, to order autographed books, and to subscribe to my monthly newsletter,

A Spark that Inspires a Novel

A miniscule thought that crosses my mind or an article I’ve read in a newspaper can light up like a distant sparkling star and inspire a story. If the spark grows and gains momentum, the concept might become a novel.

The spark in Revenge in Barcelona (my Nikki Garcia Mystery #3), was the city itself, its unique architecture, colorful history, rich culture, physical beauty, and its independent-minded people. The spark grew in my mind until I knew that Nikki should experience action, mystery, and danger in Barcelona.

The process of following a spark of inspiration is similar for many writers. Hemingway’s novel, The Sun Also Rises, was inspired by a trip to Pamplona, Spain, to witness the running of the bulls and bullfights at the week-long San Fermín festival. He’d intended to write a non-fiction book about bullfighting, which had become a passion for him. Instead, the book became fiction based on Hemingway and his friends. In it, he explored the themes of love and death, a total reversal of what he’d originally intended.

This reversal of original intention happens to many authors of fiction, me included. The spark starts out with one concept, and it morphs into a totally different one. Yet the original spark, such as Hemingway’s bullfights, are often woven into the novel either as a theme or subplot, while the full storyline becomes much broader, richer, more scintillating.

Last week, I started my 5th Nikki Garcia mystery. The spark that lit up my imagination was a belt buckle that a man was wearing. It featured a mule.

I knew at that moment that I had to weave a mule or two into Nikki’s next novel. And where can I put a few mules? In a wilderness adventure, of course!


What sparks your imagination?


All photos are used in an editorial or educational manner.

Photo credits:

Sagrada Familia Steeples – Kathryn Lane

The Belt Buckle with a Mule – Pinterest

Evacuating from a Wildfire

By Kathryn Lane

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

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

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

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

He immediately asked why we needed to take it.

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

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

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

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


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


Kathryn’s Nikki Garcia Mystery
– on Amazon

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

eBook –


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

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

Sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website

Photo credits:

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

Elk and their Calves by Kathryn Lane

Firefighter – Taos News

Brown Bear by Kathryn Lane

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

Photo of Kathryn Lane by Bob Hurt

Untitled Post


’Tis the Season for Food, Food, Food

by Saralyn Richard

and food have a symbiotic relationship. You can’t have one without the other.
The same can be said for mysteries and food, at least in the two Detective
Parrott mysteries,
Murder in the One Percent and A Palette for Love
and Murder


The former
begins with a December birthday weekend retreat at a country mansion in the
lush Brandywine Valley. The guests indulge in a gourmet dinner consisting of
nine courses and wine pairings. The menu for this elegant party is stunning. It’s
one of the elements readers remember most about the book, and several book
clubs have replicated the menu to add authenticity to their book discussions.

A Palette
for Love and Murder
is set on and around Thanksgiving. Local favorites are
included on the menu, and throughout the book. All of the characters, whether
they are part of the wealthiest one percent or the people who serve them, consume
interesting and delicious meals. To give you a hint, do mushroom-barley soup or
pumpple cake from the Flying Monkey Bakery tickle your fancy?


If you’re
watching your diet, don’t worry. Reading mysteries burns calories. Sitting on
the edge of your seat and reading those heart-thumping scenes will take care of
whatever snacking you might do while reading. And turning pages into the night
helps, too.


Detective Parrott mysteries are temporarily unavailable on Amazon, but can be
purchased online at http://murderintheonepercent.com
on the bookstore page.

Saralyn Richard is the
author of the Detective Parrott Mystery Series, as well as A Murder of
 and the upcoming release, Bad Blood Sisters. A
member of the Author Talk Network, Saralyn enjoys meeting with readers through
book clubs, organization meetings, and other speaking engagements. Join her
next Tuesday at 5 pm Central for the Facebook Live event, Cooking with
Blackbirds. And if cooking is your thing, grab the pdf booklet, Epicurean
Feasts, featuring the dishes from the gourmet dinner party in Murder in
the One Percent.
 All you need to do is sign up for Saralyn’s monthly
newsletter to receive this and other special offers. Subscribe at http://saralynrichard.com.


I can FLY!

By Kathryn Lane

Peter Pan teaching his friends to FLY!

Peter Pan is a child who never
grows up because he has an ultimate belief in make-believe. Make-believe is
similar to imagination.

For those who do grow up, imagination provides
the ability to be creative.

The marvelous human mind can combine
imagination with the disciplines of mathematics, physics, and countless other subjects,
thus developing new technologies. Imagination combined with drawing, color
theory, and perspective can express incomparable beauty through art and
sculpture. Imagination and the study of language and writing can create masterpieces
of literature.

Yet it all starts as a belief that the
impossible is possible.

The recent flights to the edge of space, first
by Branson and quickly followed by Bezos, made me reflect on the art of flying.
The Wright Brothers invented the first viable flying machine in 1903, after
years of research and experiments.

Wright Brothers’ Plane

The Kitty
Hawk “flight” occurred a mere 118 years ago. In that short time span, the art
of flight has advanced so much that countless astronauts have flown to space,
orbited the earth in their spacecraft, worked at the international space
station, and a select group have walked on the moon.

Model of Leonardo Da Vinci Flying Machine

The idea of man-powered flying
captured the imagination of Leonardo DaVinci, artist and sculptor, four hundred
years before the Wright Brothers success. The modern helicopter is similar to
Ornithopter design from the 1480s.

Branson and Bezos flew to the edge of
space. Each man had an ultimate belief in his flying adventure. Each one has a
dream of creating space tourism, albeit rich tourists, to experience a split-second
glimpse at our earth from a spot close to the
Karman line, the imaginary
boundary that separates earth’s atmosphere from

the edge of space.

Both men have been seriously
criticized for their expensive adventures, yet they must have felt like Peter
Pan. They could FLY!

In another decade or so, spacecraft
will probably be taking people beyond the Karman line for a brief spin into
outer space and maybe even a suborbital flight around earth. Maybe it will
become a real tourist boom and prices will be affordable to more people.

As a writer, I don’t doubt stories and novels of various
genres will involve more short trips into space. Space travel will no longer be
exclusive to science fiction.

As for my own travel plans, planet earth still offers a lot
of enticing places to visit.

If someone offered you a ticket on the next trip to the
Karman line, would you take it?


Kathryn’s mysteries – The Nikki
Garcia Thriller


Kathryn’s short story collection – Backyard
and Other Mysteries of the Heart


 All available on Amazon.

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



Photo Credits:Peter Pan Flight by HarshLight is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wright Brothers’ Plane in the Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk,
North Carolina
 by Jared
Enos is licensed under 

Da Vinci flying machine by mahjqa is licensed under CC
BY-NC-SA 2.0

Book Covers – Bobbye Marrs

When I Visited Walden Pond

By Kathryn Lane

past three years, my husband and I have spent the summers in a cabin in northern
New Mexico. We are isolated, in a way. We are connected to the outside world
with excellent internet, workable phone communications, and muddy dirt roads
during the rainy season.

I watch the deer, elk, birds, and the occasional bear, I’m reminded of my favorite Henry
David Thoreau quote 
“We can never have enough of nature.” And that takes me to his experiences at Walden Pond.

During my corporate years, I mostly
worked overseas, but on two rare occasions I had domestic assignments. One of
those instances, I went to Boston for three weeks. I loved the city and became mesmerized
by its history, especially that pertaining to the American Revolution. Being
from Mexico, I did not know US history and this was a unique opportunity. In
the evenings, I walked the Freedom Trail, stopping along the way at Faneuil
Hall, the old State House, and continuing to Paul Revere’s statue and his home,
now the oldest building in downtown Boston.

One weekend, I visited Lexington and
Concord where the revolution started. Being an avid cyclist at the time, I
rented a bicycle so I could visit Walden Pond. Thoreau’s book, Walden,
intrigued me and here was my opportunity to cycle around the entire pond and
enjoy the place where he had lived for a couple of years.

The pond, a kettle hole formed by
retreating glaciers about 10,000 years ago, was worth seeing, not to mention experiencing
the place Thoreau made famous. The shores of the pond consisted of terrain
suitable for walking but I quickly learned that tree roots and sharp rocks were
not kind to bicycle tires! After fixing a flat halfway around, I decided to
walk the bike the rest of the way to make sure I could ride back to Concord
where I’d left the rental car.

Now that I live close to nature part
of the year, I reflect on Thoreau’s years there and his writing.

The central ideas expressed in Walden
are experience, self-reliance, and worship. He examined the fundamental
elements of humanity. Very lofty ideas.

My novels are genre, plain and simple. And I love writing them from a mountain cabin! Yet, as an author who loves
history, you’d think I’d write historical novels. Mysteries and thrillers
fascinate me and that’s what I write. I’m captivated by the twists and turns of
mystery and suspense.

course, there are historical mysteries. Humm, I’ll have to ponder that thought
while enjoying the mountain scenery of northern New Mexico!

Do you secretly wish you wrote in a different genre?


Visit me at https://www.Kathryn-Lane.com I love
hearing from readers. Ask a question, suggest an idea, or comment about the

Nikki Garcia Mystery Series: eBook Trilogy https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GZNF17G

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


 by Bethany Maines


As I write this, I am very far behind on writing my fourth
book in the San
Juan Island Mystery
series. I have a title, a nice first chapter, and half an
outline.  Which is at least half a draft
short of where I wanted to be at this time. 
And in other news, there’s a pandemic and my child just started back to
school, but for some reason school doesn’t start until 9:45.  Why this is I have yet to determine, but it
delays the start of my work day by a significant chunk of time.  I would love to say that those two events are
causally related, but they’re really more corollaries. They are linked and
related through the reality in which we wade, but, as much as I would like to,
I can’t actually say that my school districts scattershot, indecipherable
response to the pandemic is actually to blame for not sticking to my schedule.  I may be able to blame the pandemic itself,
which has sent me head long into escapist fun writing and sees me closing in on
finishing a trilogy of paranormal romances, but I think, in the interests of
truthfulness, that’s as far as I can pass the blame.

Me trying to escape the pandemic through writing.

But as school starts back up there is a lot of twittering
about the kids being behind. Or not being behind. Or being able to catch up no
problem!  To which I say… yeeeeeah?  Maybe. 
The truth is that private schools have been in person and in session for
much of this time.  So if you could
afford private school, which generally means that your kid (who was already looking
at better outcomes than a public school kid) is, in fact, ahead.  Yes, the public school kids will bounce back
and they’re already in similar boats to each other, but let’s just say that
some kids have better rowers on their team than others.  Yes, everything will work out in the end, but
the rah-rah “no one is behind” cheer strikes me as particularly delusional when
I can point to a whole contingent of children who are receiving a better
education due to finances. The pandemic has distinctly widened the gulf between
the haves and have-nots. 

But back to me.  Am I
behind?  My deadlines are relatively
self-imposed.  I can flex them.  Is it sooooo bad to be running late?  Maybe if I type for two days straight I can
catch up?  If I can learn anything from
the school debacle, it’s that no, probably sprinting to catch up is not the
way.  Writing consistently is probably a
better way to get quality work.  But
having already not done that, it’s probably best to go the public school route and
tell myself that I’m not behind and that everything will work out in the end.


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, The Deveraux Legacy Series, and numerous
short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some
serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her
daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

Untitled Post

Gay Yellen: Finding Comfort and Joy

In the before-times, the term “twenty-twenty” usually indicated good news.
“Hey! Your eyesight is normal!” Or, “Wow! Your logic is clear-sighted!”

This year, a not-so-good connotation arose. At the end of December, when calendar turns, twenty-twenty will forever signify our historic year of global pandemic.

At our house, the trials we’ve endured have led us to count our blessings. We survived. So many things that we once took for granted have sustained us and saved us from running naked in the streets, howling like banshees. Through social isolation, family separation and, yes, fear of infection, we’ve learned to count our lucky stars, dim as they sometimes have seemed.

We’ve found a few uplifting—and often downright silly—activities to keep us sane. A friend turned us on to the old TV mystery series, Murdoch, about a 19th Century police detective who sometimes invents forensic tools to solve crimes. The show is easy on the psyche and a much-needed antidote to our relentless daily news.


Even better, we’ve dug out some of my parents’ old LP’s of original Broadway shows. We plunk them on the turntable, sing along with great gusto, and dance around the room until we’re breathless. No worries about looking foolish. After all, no one’s watching.

On nice days, we walk in the park, feed the squirrels, and summon the wintering ducks. My husband’s spot-on Donald Duck impression can spark quite a lakeside conversation.

And sometimes, he cooks. Today, he’s making turkey vegetable soup, a seasonal change from his delicious chopped salads. There’s some to give to neighbors and plenty to freeze for later.

And there’s joy to be found in books. Reading is a great way to while away hours in isolation. Because finishing Book 3 of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series has been my top priority this year, I’ve read less than usual. But gobs of books are in my to-be-read file, and I look forward to the day when I can start whittling the list down.

Finding comfort and joy in small pleasures helps lift our hearts. I hope you’re finding ways to grab some for yourself.

What have you found to spark joy these days?

Wishing you a warm December, full of books and love.

Gay Yellen

P.S. Oh! I almost forgot: Mark your calendar for the last week in December when you can pick up The Body Business, Book #1 in the Samantha Newman Mystery Series, free.

Gay Yellen is a former magazine and book editor. She writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business and The Body Next Door. Book #3 in the series is slated for release in 2021.

Gay would love to hear from you, here, on Facebook, or at her website, GayYellen.com.

Introducing Lois Winston!

by Bethany Maines

Bethany Maines


Lois Winston

As many of you know, I’m a mom with a full time job as well as an author. And while all of that is challenging enough, the pandemic has brought many fresh and special new problems. To free up some of my time I’m relinquishing one of my Stiletto Gang posting days to the fantastic Lois Winston. Lois is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author who 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. Lois will be posting on the second Wednesday of the month and I thought I’d sit down and find out a little more about her as she comes on board.

Q: What do you write?
I started out writing romance and romantic suspense and was first published in chick lit with Talk Gertie to Me in 2006. However, back in 2003, while waiting for that first sale, my agent suggested I try writing a crafting mystery. She knew an editor looking for one. With my background as a crafts designer, my agent thought I’d be the perfect person to write such a series, even though I’d never written a mystery. I gave it a try, and in the process discovered my true literary calling. My Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series sold in 2009. Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, came out in 2011. I’ve since published nine books and three novellas in the series, plus two books in my Empty Nest Mystery Series.

Q: What got you excited and
started you on your writing journey?

I’m not someone who always knew she wanted to be an author. In the mid-90’s I was going through an extremely stressful period, taking on as much freelance design work as I could because my husband was out of work for an extended period of time. One night I fell into an exhaustive sleep and had a very strange dream—strange for me because I usually don’t remember my dreams. Also, the people in the dream were all strangers. Weirdly, the dream kept unfolding night after night like chapters in a book. Finally, I decided to write it down. When I finished, I had a 50,000 word romance that spanned thirty-five years!

The writing bug had bitten me. Long story short, I joined some writing organizations, learned what I was doing wrong, honed my craft, and signed with an agent. After many years of rewrites, that totally unpublishable romance transformed into a 90,000 word romantic suspense and became Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, the second book I sold.

Q: Do you solve the
mysteries in novels & movies or do you sit back and enjoy the ride?

I should have had an inkling that I’d eventually wind up writing mysteries because I have an uncanny knack for figuring out whodunit early into most books, movies, or TV episodes. I love when I’m wrong and fall for a red herring, but it doesn’t happen often. My grandfather was the captain of a large county police force and responsible for the apprehension of many gangsters and other bad actors back in the day. I figure I inherited a large dose of his detecting DNA.

Q: And of course, I would
be remiss if I didn’t ask… what are your favorite shoes?

At this point, any that are comfortable! I’m afraid my sexy heels days are over, thanks to foot surgery a few years ago after an injury and arthritis that developed in that foot as a result. So now my shoe closet contains mostly Sketchers with cushioning inner soles.