Tag Archive for: Pampered Pets Mystery

Living Our Best Lives

by Sparkle Abbey

Sometimes it’s a struggle to balance daily life with pursuing our dreams. We’ll be honest, there are days it’s a struggle to just live our best lives.  

After morning coffee, we find ourselves jumping into the day, tackling never-ending projects, putting out fires, and skipping lunch. By the end of the day, we lack the focus and energy to do anything more. 

There are actions we can take to turn the focus back on living our best lives. These aren’t difficult, we just need to make the decision to follow through and make them a habit. 

So, for anyone else who might be struggling to live their best life, here are three habits we want to challenge you, and ourselves, to take on for the next 30 days. 

    1.  Visualize your day

Take 10-15 minutes in the morning and visualize how you want the day to unfold, what you want to accomplish, and how you see the day ending. By doing this you’re more apt to be productive. You can do it over your morning cup (or cups if you’re like us) of coffee, in the shower, or lying in bed before your feet even hit the floor.

Not sure how to visualize your day? Ask yourself the below three questions. See yourself accomplishing those things.

Example: If one of your tasks is to write for 30 minutes, visualize yourself sitting in your writing space, turning on your computer, opening your document, and typing the first sentence. Acknowledge that emotion you feel when you’ve accomplished that task.

  • What are three tasks you want to accomplish?
  • Who will you interact with?  
  • How do you want to end the day?

Okay, now that you have pictured your day, you need to take ACTION to live out that image. You can do it. You’ve seen it.

    2.  Eliminate negative thoughts, emotions, beliefs

We decide what to believe about ourselves. If we’re going to live our best lives, we have to eliminate those beliefs that make us feel incapable, less than, and unworthy. 

I’m not smart enough. People will judge me. Someone else is more deserving. Any of those statements sound familiar? 

Track when you have those thoughts. If you identify when those negative emotions happen you’ll be able to reframe them sooner.

Once you’ve identified your negative self-talk pattern, quiet those thoughts with positivity. What would your best friend tell you if you shared those thoughts with him or her? That’s what you tell yourself. Choose to react with positive feelings, even if it’s something small like, “I love the smell of my coffee this morning.”

    3.  Prioritize your health

Look, if you’re not putting your health first, there is no best life, no dream to conquer, right? Move your body, stay hydrated, eat better, and get sleep. Visualize what a healthy life looks like for you. Put that into action! Here are some ideas:

  • Talk a walk around the block
  • Drink one more glass of water each day until you’re drinking a minimum of 64oz a day
  • Meal prep
  • Get eight hours of sleep every night
  • Substitute veggies or fruit for chips or crackers
  • Instead of picking the closest parking space at the store, pick a spot at the end of the row
  • Journal your thoughts

What do you say, are you up for the challenge? Are there other actions or habits you think we should try? If you do join us, keep us updated on how you’re doing. We want to cheer you on!

Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.) 

They love to hear from readers and can be found on Facebook, and Twitter their favorite social media sites. 

Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the SparkleAbbey.com website

Welcome Kathleen Kaska!

by Sparkle Abbey

We’re thrilled to share that Kathleen Kaska has joined The Stiletto Gang group and will
be blogging on the first Friday of the month starting tomorrow! So we thought we’d
take this opportunity to introduce the award-winning mystery author and learn more about her. 

Q: What do you write?

I write mysteries: mainly cozies, but also traditional
and police procedurals, and some nonfiction. I like to try different styles of

I write the Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series set in the
1950s. This is lighthearted and humorous in the style of Janet Evanovich’s
Stephanie Plump series. Each book takes place in a different historic hotel. I
also write the Kate Caraway Animal Right’s Mystery Series. I just finished a
hardboiled detective mystery set in 1945 Manhattan and am halfway through a
zany British detective story set on the North Cornish Coast.

Q: What got you started on your writing journey?

I knew I wanted to write mysteries but didn’t know how
to start, so I joined the Austin Writer’s League, now the Writer’s League of
Texas, and started taking creative writing classes. I collected how-to writing
books, subscribed to writer’s magazines, and joined a critique group. In doing
so, I tried my hand at different things. Travel writing, articles about
education (I was teaching at the time), and even became the editor of a local
wildlife organization’s newsletter.

Within a short time, I was asked to be a staff writer
of an outdoor adventure and fitness magazine. A textbook publisher contacted me
to contribute to middle school science textbooks. This didn’t help in writing
mysteries, but I knew I had to start somewhere. Breaking into the world of
fiction writing, and getting published, was not going to be easy, so I started
with nonfiction, writing three mystery trivia books. I landed an agent, and all
three books sold. Only then did I start writing my own mysteries.

Q: Are you a “spoiler” and read the end of the book
before you finish it or do you read cover to cover?

I’m a cover-to-cover reader. I read slowly, often
rereading my favorite passages. If I miss the meaning of a sentence, I read it
over until I understand. I read from the perspective of a reader and a writer.

Q: Did you have a favorite author as a child?

I wasn’t an avid reader as a child until I read The Island of the Blue Dolphins, followed
by The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Then I picked up Agatha Christie. Little did I know that I’d eventually write a
book about Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie.

Q. What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a

I’m a runner and put in several miles every week. This
is my quiet, contemplation time where I work out plot issues in my novels and
design scenes and conversations between my characters. I am also a birder and
enjoy being outdoors with my friends and family. My passion for birds led to
the publication of the biography, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The
Robert Porter Allen Story
(University Press of Florida).

Q. What are you working on now?

This year will be a busy, exciting year. I’ve started a
new mystery series, I’m just barely into it, and I have a publisher eager to
see it when finished. I have another publisher who’s interested in picking up
and reissuing my Sydney Lockhart series. And I hope my third Kate Caraway
mystery will be released by the end of the year; that’s a big hope.

One of my mystery trivia books, The Sherlock Holmes
Quiz Book
, was picked up, updated, and reissued on November 1, 2020. 

I have podcast interviews coming up in the next few
weeks. My website lists the podcast interviews and YouTube interviews,
scheduled in the next few weeks, as well as previous events.

Where can readers connect with you?








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About Kathleen Kaska

I’m a Texas gal. Except for an eighteen-month hiatus living
in New York City after college, I lived in the Lone Star State continuously for
fifty years. Since then Texas has been hit and miss—a little hit, but a heck of
a lot of miss. There was a time when I thought I would happily die in Austin,
Texas. But circumstances and
weather—especially weather—changed that. Now I spend most of the year on
Fidalgo Island in Washington State with a view of the bay and the mountains.
When I get homesick, my husband and I listen to Willie Nelson. Soon we are
dancing the two-step, imagining we are at our favorite honky-tonk in Tokyo,
Texas where the mayor is believed to be a dog. Who wouldn’t miss that?

I write the awarding-winning mystery series: the Sydney
Lockhart Mystery Series set in the 1950s and the Classic Triviography Mystery
Series, which includes The Sherlock
Holmes Quiz Book,
which was updated and released by Lyons Press on November
1, 2020. My Kate Caraway
animal-rights mystery series includes Run
Dog Run (2017)
and A Two Horse Town
(2019). Eagle Crossing is scheduled
for release in 2021. On my website, you can also find my Five-Minute Writing
Tips and blog posts about publishing, marketing, birding, and quirky things
that come to mind.