Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli – Dead Little Dolly

This week, I’m pleased to host author, Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli.

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Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli moved to the shores of a little lake in northwest northern Michigan and never looked back. She lives, sometimes uncomfortably, with the crows and bears and turtles and finds her material in the villages and forests that surround her. With degrees from Macomb County Community College, Oakland University, and the University of Michigan, she now teaches creative writing at Northwestern Michigan College and at writers’ conferences around the country.

Her novels include: Gift of Evil (Bantam), Dead Dancing Women, Dead Floating Lovers, Dead Sleeping Shaman, and Dead Dogs and Englishmen (Midnight Ink), Dead Little Dolly, and A Tough Nut to Kill (writing as Elizabeth Lee), Berkley Publishers.

Elizabeth is also fascinated with the craft of the short story and hers have appeared in The Creative Woman, The Driftwood Review, Passages North, The MacGuffin, Quality Women’s Fiction (Great Britain), and elsewhere. With a grant from the State of Michigan she also created short stories that have been produced onstage as well as being read on NPR.
For many years she taught in the International Women’s Guild summer program at Skidmore College and appeared as a moderator and panelist at writing conferences. Her fascination with all things murderous began with a love for puzzles of all sorts, which was handed down to her by a mother who devoured mysteries. Sometimes playful, sometimes deadly serious, her books reflect a wide interest in women’s lives and futures.

Mystery writer and journalist with 7 published novels including her latest, the first in a series: A Tough Nut to Kill from Berkley Publishers/Penguin Group.

She teaches fiction writing at Northern Michigan College, was a reporter for the ROMEO OBSERVER, and has written for the DETROIT NEWS, Traverse Magazine, the British Literary Journal: Women’s Quality Fiction, and many others.

Her fourth novel in the Emily Kincaid series, DEAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN, was chosen one of the best mysteries of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and the Christian Science Monitor.  Writing as Elizabeth Lee, the first in her Texas series: A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, is in stores and online now.  The second and third in the series will be out in 2015.

 Dead Little Dolly

Even the beauty of Northern Michigan can’t put a smile on the face of Emily Kincaid’s perpetually cranky friend, Deputy Dolly Wakowski, and when someone tries to destroy the only family Dolly has ever had, her crankiness turns lethal, even as the crime threatens to overwhelm her.

Still struggling in her career as a mystery writer, Emily takes a deep breath before stepping in to help. As they launch their search for Dolly’s assailant and the investigation deepens, two strange clues emerge, the attacker’s trademark black jellybeans and a note to Dolly reading “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”

Here is an excerpt:

 Prologue

The sun was thick and warm on Deputy Dolly Wakowski’s back, and on her neck, and on the top of her head.  She pulled off her blue uniform hat and set it on the damp cemetery earth beside where she knelt.

A quiet May Sunday afternoon.  Quieter, because there was no one else in the old Leetsville, Michigan, cemetery.  No one there, among the tombstones, but Deputy Dolly, of the two-man Leetsville Police Department, who bowed her head over the bearded lady’s grave then laid a bouquet of wilting white daisies atop the mossy headstone:

GRACE HUMBERT

1873  — 1926

“Another year, Grace,” Dolly bent to whisper as she patted Grace Humbert’s grave, fingers brushing over the prickly sprouts of new weeds and grasses.

“Happy Mother’s Day.  It’s me, Dolly.”

The day was all washed-fresh light and the shine of new spring green spreading over the sunken graves of Civil War soldiers and around old headstones standing crookedly, slump-shouldered, names of the poor wiped away by harsh Michigan winters.

Tiny, yellow dandelions—bright little toys—speckled the clustered graves of babies dead in a long-ago epidemic.  Toward the back of the cemetery, proud family plots, surrounded by rusted and crooked iron railings, bloomed with new weeds.

Dolly’s uniform pants were damp at both knees, but that was as it should be.  It was proper that once a year she came here and knelt to talk to Grace Humbert, the famous bearded lady of a long ago Barnum and Bailey Circus.

She’d heard about Grace when she first came to Leetsville from southern Michigan, thirteen years before.   Grace Humbert, memorialized in the museum down the road, in Kalkaska, but forgotten by everyone else except as an oddity a local newspaper or magazine would revisit every ten years of so: a woman who didn’t fit anywhere, not with her flowing beard and mustache, not with eyes direct and slightly amused, never part of the world around her, but never cowed by that world, her look steady and challenging, her back straight in satiny gowns draped across an ample bosom.

“Forty-seven Famous Freaks,” a 1903 photo hanging on the crowded old depot wall had screamed at Dolly and there was Grace, a dark image in the third row, smiling, happy to be among her kinfolk of sword swallowers and tiny people and tall people and leopard skinned people, and pin-headed people.  Different.  An outsider.

Like Dolly Wakowski.

Dolly turned to frown a squinting frown at robins in the leafing maples. Too loud, all that mating stuff, for a cemetery.  Birds chirping playfully in a graveyard didn’t obey Dolly’s ‘seemly’ rule.  There should be quiet and reverence when a pretend-daughter knelt beside a pretend-mother’s grave, honoring her because there was nobody else for Dolly Wakowski to honor.  And nobody else came to honor Grace. That was a fact—nobody, and that meant Grace Humbert needed Dolly as much as she needed Grace.

Dolly moved from her damp right knee to her left.  She looked around before bending to whisper, “Found my grandmother this last year.  Cate Thomas, she’s called.  Livin’ with me now.  And guess what . . .” She waited, as if somehow she’d get an answer. Her small, homely face puckered into a smile.  “I got a baby.”  She nodded a few times. “Name’s Baby Jane. I call her that so she can pick her own name when the time comes.  You know, get the name she wants.  Not like me.  Stuck all my life with a name like ‘Delores’ foisted on me when I couldn’t sit up and say “NO” to that woman who never wanted me anyway.”

She turned to look over her shoulder toward the scout car she’d pulled up under the high, cast iron, cemetery gate where four-month-old, Baby Jane, slept in her car seat.  The windows were down so Dolly could hear if she woke up.  Nothing to fear.

Nothing at all.

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Dead Little Dolly is available at Amazon.com,  Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and iBook.

The first in her new series, writing as Elizabeth Lee, A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, is out from Berkley and available in bookstores everywhere, or Online.  The next two in this series will be out in 2015.   Others in her Emily Kincaid series are available at Brilliant Books of Traverse City:  231-946-book or online.

My website, at which I’m now asking for help with a woman’s novel I’m writing, is www.elizabethbuzzelli.com

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Elizabeth and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Marja McGraw – What Are The Odds?

This week my guest is mystery author, Marja McGraw.

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Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. She worked in both civil and criminal law for fifteen years, state transportation for another seventeen years, and most recently for a city building department.  She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona.

Marja wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A past member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was also the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.

She has appeared on KOLO-TV in Reno, Nevada, and KLBC in Laughlin, Nevada, and various radio talk shows.

Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder! Books include both the Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries.

She and her husband now live in Arizona, where life is good.

What Are The Odds?

What are the odds of buying a house with a history to turn into a bed and breakfast, and discovering it’s the house that just keeps giving – and giving, and giving?

Sandi Webster and her partner, Peter Goldberg, forego a honeymoon to help her parents renovate just such a house only to discover there’s more to the home’s history than meets the eye. Stanley Hawks and his new wife, Felicity, are along for the ride and he has to face some of his worst fears.

This is an adventure these friends will long remember.

Here is an excerpt:

My mother and Felicity helped me put out food and a small wedding cake. Pete had already passed out drinks, and a bottle or two of champagne chilled in the refrigerator.

I finally sat down and took a deep breath.

Jessica sat next to me. “So tell me about this bed and breakfast your mother and her husband are opening. Rick said there were murders in the house? Does she think people will stay there regardless of the place’s history?”

Before I could open my mouth, my mother the drama queen, who sat on my other side spoke loudly. “Let me tell the story. It’s a tale of murder and jealousy. Or so I’ve been told. Frank and I sold our house in Bullhead City. That’s in Arizona, you know. Escrow closes in about thirty days, and I think we’ll move to the llama ranch now instead of waiting.”

The room fell into silence and all eyes were fixed on Livvie Brewster, my loves-a-good-story mother.

“This happened, oh, probably twenty years or so ago. It’s a thirty-acre ranch and it used to be a llama ranch. An elderly man and his daughter ran the place, along with one ranch hand. It’s said – ”

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you, Mom? ‘It’s said’?”

“Hush and let me tell the story. Actually, this would be better told over a campfire on a dark night.”

 She laughed at her own little joke.

“A neighbor gave me the scoop, so this should be pretty accurate, although he didn’t give me any of their names. He said the ranch hand had a thing for the daughter. So did a man from a neighboring property. The men were constantly trying to outdo one another. The daughter wasn’t a young woman and she’d never been married, so she was thrilled by all the attention.

“Her father told her to be careful because it was all going to backfire on her. He said she needed to make a choice between the men and put an end to their competition. But she wouldn’t listen.”

My mother actually leaned forward as though it was Halloween night and she was stirring a pot of scary information.

“Well, the father was right. It backfired. She finally chose the neighbor, and the ranch hand went nuts. One stormy afternoon he stealthily entered the house and found the daughter in the living room, kissing the neighbor. The ranch hand had a gun in his hand and he shot the daughter where she stood, in the head. The neighbor ran out the front door. The ranch hand ran after him and killed him, too, before returning to the house. You can still see a bullet hole in the screen door.

“The father, hearing the shots, came running in with a shotgun. Before he could shoot, the ranch hand shot him. He didn’t die, and he raised the gun and killed the ranch hand.”

“What neighbor told you about this?” With four deaths, I couldn’t help but wonder if the neighbor had all the details straight. Time and memory often change things from fact to exciting fiction.

“An old man who lives down the street in a mobile home. I’m sure he’s reliable.”

One of the models sat in a chair across from us and leaned forward, studying my mother’s face. “What happened to the father?”

I could see my mother mentally rubbing her hands together. She had everyone’s interest. “He died before the police got there.” She sat back and looked very pleased with herself. “And that’s the short version of the story.”

Felicity smiled at my mother. “And a neighbor says the house is haunted by these people?”

“Only the ranch hand. Well, he told me someone said they saw the daughter once, too.”

“Interesting story,” Rick said. “Are you sure people will want to stay in a house where murders were committed?”

Frank decided it was his turn to speak. “Their curiosity will get the best of them, and they’ll want to see the house. Some of them will hope to see the ghost while they’re there. And others simply won’t care. We’re turning it into kind of a dude ranch with horses. There are plenty of places to ride and we’re at the base of a small mountain. It’s unusual because it’s flat desert surrounded by mountains, and then there’s this small mountain right in the middle of the valley. We’re going to have chickens, too.”

What Are the Odds Final

Website:    http://www.marjamcgraw.com/

Blog:           http://marjamcgraw.blogspot.com/

FB Page:   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marja-McGraw-Mysteries/166844466697374

Buy link:      http://tinyurl.com/m8s6uux

Marja and I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and be entered to win a free copy of, What Are The Odds?

Congratulations to Anna Celeste Burke for winning a copy of What Are The Odds.

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Lynette Hall Hampton – The Island

My guest this week is multi-published author, Lynette Hall Hampton

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Lynette Hall Hampton’s first novel was published in 2003. Since then she’s had 22 romantic suspense, cozy mystery and inspirational mysteries published. Another romantic suspense is due out in September. Under the name Agnes Alexander she has published 6 western historical romances with 2 more coming out this year. Lynette is a member of Romance Writers of America, Carolina Romance Writers, Sisters in Crime, The Triad chapter of SinC, Western Writers of America, and several local groups. She lives in her home state of North Carolina and her most favorite thing to do, when she isn’t writing, is spending time with her two grandchildren. She can be reached at www.lynettehallhampton.net  or www.agnesalexander.com

The Island

A plane disappears over the Atlantic, but after an intense search turns up nothing, the 112 people aboard are declared dead. Unbeknownst the outside world, 13 people make it to an island. 27 months later, a plane off course discovers the survivors. The waiting world is anxious to learn how they lived, but the survivors have secrets they must hide, not only from the media, but from their families as well.

Here is an excerpt:

Amanda buckled the seat belt as she’d been told. She felt the plane jerk again. Three consecutive jerks. Out the window she could see the ocean below. No clouds were visible. Only the dark Atlantic with its continual ripples.

            From the intercom the voice said, “Please find and put on your life jackets. Do not inflate your lifejacket until you are out of the aircraft. Please get in the crash position. Put your head between your knees…”

            There was no time for further instructions. Within four minutes the plane touched water and the air filled with screams of fright and unbelief. If Amanda screamed, she didn’t know it.

She felt as if everything inside her was being shaken out her mouth or through her ears. Her head rang and throbbed, her nose began to bleed and she felt water seeping around her body. Going only on instinct, she managed to get the seatbelt unfastened. She was in water, and she inflated her lifejacket. Once free, she floated upward. She was surrounded by screams and moans of desperation and pain, but she couldn’t think of them now. Her only instinct was to fight to survive.

            As she saw the top of the plane getting closer to her face she knew she’d be trapped and would drown if she didn’t get lower. With all the strength she could muster she kicked and pushed downward. The life jacket wouldn’t let her descend. She fumbled with the fastener and finally got it off.

            A good swimmer, she thrust her body downward. Thinking it would be no worse to drown in the open sea than to be trapped in a sinking plane, she swam in the only direction the rushing water would let her.

            It seemed like a long time, but it was probably only seconds when her head popped above water and she gasped for breath. She was surrounded by screaming and crying people and a lot of floating debris. Her eyes searched for her Spanish seat-mate, but she didn’t see her anywhere. She pushed the woman from her thoughts and began to kick her legs. The slacks and jacket weighted her down, but she didn’t dare try to get them off. As she kicked she felt her shoes slip from her feet. She could think of nothing else to do tohelp her situation. With no life jacket to hold her up, all she could do was tread water.

the island

The Island is available at: www.Lynettehallhampton.net; Amazon.com; whiskeycreekpress.com

Lynette and I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment to win a copy of The Island.

 

 

 

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Christina Larmer – Words Can Kill

My guest author this week is Christina Larmer

Ever since she picked up her first copy of The Three Investigators, C.A. Larmer has been mad about crime fiction. Now the author of seven murder mysteries, including the best-selling Agatha Christie Book Club and the Ghostwriter Mystery Series, Larmer also works as a journalist from Byron Bay in Northern NSW, Australia. When she’s not penning women’s health articles or plotting her next murder, she’s busy cheering her sons on the soccer sidelines, helping her husband in his music studio or wrangling wayward snakes on their hinterland property. Larmer has also worked in New York, Los Angeles and London but her heart forever remains with her hometown in tropical Papua New Guinea where she was born and bred.

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Words Can Kill  (Ghostwriter Mystery #5)

 By C.A. Larmer

 In her fifth and most heart-wrenching mystery yet, Ghostwriter Roxy Parker is hot on the trail of her estranged boyfriend, Max. He’s disappeared from a Swiss alpine resort, a perky blonde by his side, and his flatmate has shown up murdered in Berlin, bludgeoned by his own guitar. The German police suspect Max of murder but Roxy knows better.

Max Farrell may be a cad, but he’s no cold-blooded killer.

So it is that Roxy packs her designer luggage and heads to Europe to track him down—but she has to be quick! Max has just sent Roxy a cryptic text message, which proves his life is hanging by a thread.

In this fun, fast-paced story, C.A. Larmer takes us on another exciting adventure and proves, yet again, why she’s one of Australia’s most popular cozy crime writers. Fasten your seat-belts, guys, and come along for the ride!

WORDS CAN KILL EXCERPT: 

“Max is missing.”

They were three simple words, spoken casually by a woman young enough and pretty enough to still believe she was the centre of the universe and therefore her missing brother a minor inconvenience that she was hoping to palm off (preferably to Roxy Parker), but they still managed to send a sliver of ice through Roxy’s heart.

She froze for a second, the warm glass of Merlot almost at her lips.

“Missing?” she said, then tried a little humour to dislodge the chill. “Like, missing his brain? Missing me desperately? What do you mean, missing?”

Caroline raised one spaghetti-strapped shoulder into the air and shrugged. It was late Thursday evening and not yet summer, but that didn’t stop her from donning a sexy slip of a dress that showed off her golden brown tan and the intricate rose tattoo on the back of her right shoulder. Her long, lean legs were wedged into stilettos as high as the Harbour Bridge and were poking out now from beneath the table.

“I don’t know, sweetie. Personally? I think it’s all a false alarm.” She scooped some lemongrass chicken onto her fork. “I nearly didn’t call you but, well, it’s got Mum and Dad in a bit of a tizz which is bizarre because they never get in a tizz. Unless somebody chops down a tree, of course, or mentions the letters CSG.” She rolled her big brown eyes and plunged the fork into her mouth, talking while she chewed. “Anyway, they haven’t heard from him in a few days and seem to think that’s a big deal—something he said freaked them out, apparently.” She offered her “go figure” look.

The two women were seated at a rickety table in an overcrowded Thai restaurant just a few blocks from Roxy’s inner-city Sydney apartment. When Caroline had called her, keen to “discuss something important”, Roxy had expected little more than boyfriend trouble or a change of career. God knows there’d been enough of both. This, however, was out of the blue.

She took a settling gulp of her wine and returned the glass safely to the table. “A few days is hardly a problem, is it?”

“My sentiments exactly but, well, Mum’s being all loopy on this one so …” She hesitated. “He hasn’t called you, has he?”

The sudden crinkle in Caroline’s otherwise flawless forehead was not without basis. The last time Roxy had spoken to her supposed “boyfriend” Max, just over six months ago, it had all turned very sour, very fast. They had been dating for almost a year and things were going swimmingly (albeit more treading water than doing laps) until Max mentioned a sudden job offer with Mercedes-Benz in Germany. Roxy had reacted badly, a little “Caroline-like” in fact, and had not managed to find her maturity in the meantime. She was still feeling raw from the rejection and had been hoping Max would do as he always did and make the first move: call with apologies, send her a surprise airline ticket to Berlin, something. But of course he hadn’t done that and so the silence had ensued.

Now it felt deafening.

“Anyhoo,” Caroline was saying, oblivious to Roxy’s internal discomfort, “I normally call Max when I have a problem; he cleans it up for me quick smart. Problem is, well, Max is my problem.” She laughed. “Then I remembered that you’re kind of good at looking into ‘mysteries’”—she used the two finger quotation mark symbol that Roxy abhorred—“so was wondering if you want to track him down for me and tell him to call his bloody parents so I can get them off my back.”

She raised one hand again to a waiter who had been tracking her from the moment she’d walked in and he scurried across, delighted to be at the stunning blonde’s beck and call. She ordered another glass of wine.

“You want?” she asked Roxy, almost as an afterthought, and Roxy tapped her glass.

“Merlot, please.” Then to Caroline, “Can we just back up a little? I still don’t understand why your mother thinks he’s vanished.”

“Oh she’s being so melodramatic, darling. I’m sure he’s just run off with some German flooz—” she caught herself and had the decency to blush. “Oops.”

Roxy shrugged her off. “I don’t care if he has a girlfriend, Caroline.”

“Sure you don’t. Anyway, I’m not saying he does have a girlfriend, I’m just saying—”

“So why is your mum so worried?” Roxy cut her off. “What did Max say when they last spoke?”

Caroline leaned forward, one dress strap dropping provocatively from her shoulder. “That’s the thing, he didn’t say very much and what he did say made absolutely no sense. Mum reckons he said he was heading to Brazil for a few days.”

“Brazil? For a few days? From Germany? Really?”

“I know! How bizarre is that? Mum must have heard him wrong. I mean, her hearing’s not what it used to be and Max was calling on his mobile phone, from the road apparently. Anyway, it’s not so much what he said, it was the way he said it.”

The waiter appeared with the wines and Caroline refitted her strap and then took her glass with barely a glance, causing the poor man’s shoulders to deflate considerably as he turned away. She swallowed a generous mouthful and said, “He sounded kind of strange.”

“How do you mean strange?”

“Mum says he sounded worried, stressed even, but you have to remember, Mum’s a hippie. She thinks she can read people’s cosmic energy down the phone line.” Again with the eye roll. “She says Max’s energy was ‘as black as a witch’s breath’.”

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LINKS TO BOOKS/WEBSITES BY C.A. LARMER

• AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/C.A.-Larmer/e/B006S9LC86/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1406003680&sr=1-2-ent

• NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/C-A–Larmer?keyword=C.A.+Larmer&store=ebook

• KOBO: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=C.A.+Larmer

• APPLE iPAD: https://itunes.apple.com/AU/book/id834409708?l=en

• C.A. Larmer blog: http://calarmerspits.blogspot.com.au/

• TWITTER: @CALarmer

• FB: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006328031549&ref=tn_tnmn

Christina and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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PJ. Nunn – Private Spies

This week, I’m pleased to host mystery author, P J. Nunn

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As with most things, PJ Nunn’s career started out as something else entirely. She started out in retail then moved to property management. That led to teaching high school, then serving as a counselor and liaison to the local police youth services division. She also spent five years as chairperson of the Coryell County Child Welfare Board and spent years counseling abuse victims and serving law enforcement as a trauma counselor and consultant (something she still does today). When she moved to Dallas, a family illness caused her to leave a job teaching psychology at Dallas County Community College District to become a freelance writer, but found that a few favors she was doing for friends—writing press releases and setting up book signings—was better suited to her talents and her drives.

 In 1998, she founded Break Through Promotions, now a national public relations firm helping authors, mostly of mystery novels, publicize themselves and their work. The business is thriving and PJ is excited about the release of her first novel, Angel Killer. PJ lives with her husband some of their five children near Dallas, TX. Learn more at http://pjnunn.com.

Private Spies

When Jesse Morgan’s boss and best friend died, she inherited Private Spies, a private investigation firm that specializes in missing persons. Unfortunately, she knew little about the business aside from her intensive work on the computer. But if Joey thought she could handle it, she felt obligated to at least give it a try. How hard could it be, right?

 So Jesse took on her first case. Very straightforward. This guy is missing, find him. Oh but wait, he also kidnapped his own daughter. Find her too. Still not that hard. Except when she ran his report, the picture she found on his drivers license is of another guy. And when she found a guy who matched the first picture, he had another name. And when she found a girl that looked like the daughter, she didn’t match anything. Not good.

 Enter a retired police officer named Byron (really?) who says before Joey died, he hired him to work for them. Ok. This might be helpful. But then came a stalker, and a dead guy, a dead duck and an increasing list of incidents that all seem confusing to Jesse. Up to her eyeballs in threats and questions, Jesse’s outraged when the woman who hired her decides to fire her. Unbelievable! Unable to stop at that point, Jesse is determined to find the guy and solve the case. If only it was as easy as it sounded.

Here is an excerpt from Private Spies:

I hate mornings. Unfortunately, if I sleep through them like I like to do, I miss half the day. Time is money, or so I’ve heard. After a quick shower, I tugged on a sweater and a pair of jeans, promised Elvis I wouldn’t come home without food, and headed out. An unlocked door and the smell of fresh brewed coffee greeted me at the office.

“Bernice!” I smiled for the first time in awhile. “I didn’t expect you back until next week.”

“I knew you’d need me,” she smiled up at me from her desk, looking more like a weirded out fairy godmother than any receptionist I’ve seen.

At fifty something, her hair was more white than brown and she wore it in a variation of a beehive that I thought went out in the sixties. Bright blue eye shadow covered her eyelids like finger paint no matter what color of garish flowered muumuu she wore on her ample frame. I never did hear where Joey found her, but she was a whiz around the office.

“You’re right about that,” I said, retrieving the stacks I’d sorted from my desk. “Bills to pay, invoices to send, and stuff to file,” I said, setting each one down on her desk in turn.

“Oh, girl, looks like you’ve been busy!” she clucked.

“Not busy enough,” I groaned, sinking into my chair and glancing over at the piles still covering Joey’s desk. He might have known right where everything was, but to me, it just looked like a mess. “I’ve got a new case, though, so I guess those will have to wait another day or two.”

“No worries,” Bernice said cheerfully. “I’ll have it sorted out in no time. I know his system.”

She’d get no arguments from me. I have enough trouble with my own mess. The sound of Bernice rustling around and muttering to herself was oddly comforting and I got right to work on the Gafford case.

“Look at this,” I told Bernice, less than an hour later.

The picture Beverly Gafford faxed of her ex husband was grainy at best, but it still didn’t look anything like the driver’s license photo I picked off the Internet. Joey had us set up to get into all kinds of databases. Some of them, I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to get into, but sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions.

“Does that look like the same guy to you?” I handed the printout to her.

Bernice held the two photos in chubby hands an arm’s length away from her bifocals.

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Not at all. You sure this is the right guy?”

I shrugged. “Same social, same name.”

“Guess it’s a really bad picture,” she said, putting them back on my desk. “You know those DPS pictures are a plot from hell.”

She nodded her head with her lips clenched in a tight line. Bernice thought everything was a plot from hell.

“Maybe,” I said.

But I didn’t think it was just a bad picture. Something seemed hokey about the whole thing.

“I’m going to see if I can find this guy in person,” I told her, pulling my purse out of the bottom drawer.

Ordinarily, that was a luxury I didn’t have, working on the Internet, but since he was supposedly here in Dallas I could do some actual investigating. That was a perk that didn’t come up often. Most of the time, I just did all my searching online and Joey had done the rest. I missed him.

Expecting to find a little house similar to my own, I was surprised when the address led me to the Frost Farms section of DeSoto. Where the really rich who don’t want to live in north Dallas live. Ranches and mansions with circular driveways and pools and stables and maids and limos. I heard one house actually has its own bowling alley. Not that I’d ever been inside one, but I could tell immediately that my whole house and yard would have fit easily in the garage.

My poor little Taurus probably felt like an unwanted stepchild. Hard to be inconspicuous in a Ford around there. Hard to see anything parked on the street, too. The house number was on the mailbox but the driveway was so long I had to rescue a surveillance bag out of the trunk and use binoculars. Joey liked to have all the right equipment, even if we hardly ever used it. Man, I missed him!

I didn’t have to wait long to see someone; people came and went like it was moving day only they weren’t carrying anything. Unfortunately, none of them even remotely resembled either of the men I was looking for, or the little girl, either. I was about ready to give up when a man came out of the stables and caught my attention. Even with the binoculars, it was hard to tell, so I took a chance and got out of the car. I needed to stretch my legs anyway. PIs do way too much sitting.

I had to hurry to cross the grass in time to catch him before he reached his truck, so I didn’t really have time to think of anything clever to say.

“Excuse me!” I called when I got close enough for him to hear me.

When he stopped and turned, I knew it was the same face that Beverly Gafford had faxed to me. He wasn’t very big, maybe five foot ten, a hundred and sixty pounds, but he had the wavy brown hair and the deep creases in his face that come from hours in the sun. Lawrence Gafford number one. The one that matched the picture that didn’t match the name. Maybe I wasn’t ready to be the boss yet. None of this made sense.

“Are you Lawrence Gafford?” I asked, trying not to breathe as hard as an obscene phone caller.

A scowl replaced the smile he’d been wearing. “Who wants to know?”

I pulled a card out of my pocket and handed it to him. “Jesse Morgan, Private Spies.”

“I got nothing to say to you,” he snarled and pitched my card on the ground, then turned and continued to his truck.

“Look,” I chased after him, “I don’t want to cause a problem, I just need to know…”

He couldn’t hear me because he was driving away. Great.

Private Spies front

Review:

“Hilarious! Jesse Morgan is a girl-next-door turned detective who if she runs short of skill will make up for it with sheer determination or maybe luck. She won’t rest until her case is closed.” - Bookbrowsing

Links:

Facebook/PJ - https://www.facebook.com/authorpjnunn

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Blog – http://pjnunn.wordpress.com

P J. is giving away either a trade paperback or a Kindle copy of Private Spies. Leave a comment and be automatically be entered to win!

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Deborah Garner – The Moonglow Cafe

This week, I’m hosting mystery author, Deborah Garner.

Moonglow1200x1800

Deborah is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

The Moonglow Cafe

 New York reporter Paige MacKenzie has a hidden motive when she heads to the small town of Timberton, Montana. Assigned to research the area’s unique Yogo sapphires for the Manhattan Post, she hopes to reconnect romantically with handsome cowboy Jake Norris. The local gem gallery offers the material needed for the article, but the discovery of an old diary, hidden inside the wall of a historic hotel, soon sends her on a detour into the underworld of art and deception.

 Each of the town’s residents holds a key to untangling more than one long-buried secret, from the hippie chick owner of a new age café to the mute homeless man in the town park. As the worlds of western art and sapphire mining collide, Paige finds herself juggling research, romance and danger. With stolen sapphires and shady characters thrown into the mix, will Paige escape the consequences of her own curiosity?

Here is an excerpt from The Moonglow Cafe: 

The newspaper fell to the table and Paige caught her breath. Jake was even more handsome than Paige remembered, all blue eyes, chiseled chin, deep tan and windswept hair. She had missed him. Now here he was, his sly grin revealing she was the recipient of a well-planned surprise.

“Hi, Paige,” Jake said, looking pleased with himself.

“You tricky rascal! How?”

“First a toast. To Paige MacKenzie, intrepid reporter.”

Paige lifted her own glass and clinked it against Jake’s. “To Jake Norris, mysterious cowboy!” She took a sip of champagne before setting down her glass.

“So, how did you pull this off?”

“Your office,” Jake said. “I called there yesterday because I couldn’t reach you

on your cell phone.”

“I was in flight. My phone was off. And you hate leaving messages, don’t you?”

Paige crossed her arms and tried to look annoyed. But she couldn’t stop smiling.

“And you just go trouncing across the country, heading west, no less, without a word of warning.” Jake’s tone was 95 percent teasing and 5 percent scolding.

“I didn’t have much notice, to tell the truth,” Paige said. “Besides, I thought maybe I’d surprise you.”

“Well, I do believe I beat you to it.” Jake rocked back in his chair, looking like a schoolboy who’d just gotten away with an excellent prank.

“Yes, I believe you did.”

Enya had moved seamlessly into a haunting blend of pan flutes and soft drums.

Jake’s eyes reflected candlelight. As Jake leaned forward and lowered his voice to a whisper, Paige gave in to the urge to touch his hand with light fingertips just to be sure she wasn’t imagining his presence.

“Will we be getting menus soon?” Jake looked around the café for Mist. “I worked up an appetite driving today.”

Paige slid her hand back to her champagne flute, leaned forward, too, and matched his secretive tone.

“Moonglow doesn’t have menus,” Paige whispered. “Menus complicate life.” She felt a wave of satisfaction at Jake’s puzzled look. He may have surprised her first, but at least she had a head start on knowing Timberton’s quirks.

Two plates of food glided silently onto the table; the aromas of caramelized onions and port sauce rose up. Slender stalks of fresh asparagus fanned out to the left side of two tender, beef medallions. A diminutive, almond-encrusted puff pastry of baked Brie accompanied the meal. Jake looked at the plate and back up at Paige.

“Trust me,” Paige said. “Just eat anything she serves. The breakfast I had this morning was heavenly. If I could, I’d eat every meal here for the rest of my life.”

Jake dug into the gourmet meal, glancing around the café between bites. Paige watched him and knew he was as curious as she’d been since she arrived in Timberton. Hunger trumped conversation temporarily, but as he finished a last bite of Brie, he spoke.

“What kind of town is this, anyway? It didn’t look like much when I drove in.

But then the only café in town serves up a meal like this? I don’t get it.”

Paige could only agree.

“I wish I could tell you. It’s an odd place, that’s for sure.” Paige paused as

Mist switched out the empty dinner plates for two coffees, one miniature chocolate soufflé and two spoons.

“What does Susan have you working on this time?” Jake sipped his coffee

“I’m writing a sapphire article to coincide with a gemology convention coming up in New York in a few weeks,” Paige said. “There’s a gem gallery in town, and the owner knows a lot about Montana sapphire mining and the town’s history. Once I get a good focus, I hope it won’t take long to pull it together. But there’s something else.”

Jake took a sip of coffee as Paige lowered her voice again.

“I came across an old diary last night while I was trying to figure out how to turn on the heat in my room.”

“One of those display pieces that hotels put out for guests to see?” Jake said, holding his coffee cup close to his face to breathe in the aroma. “Wow, this coffee is excellent.”

“No,” Paige said. “I mean, yes, the coffee is amazing, but no, the diary isn’t a display piece. It was hidden inside the wall. I’m sure it belonged to a local artist. This town is filled with unusual characters and secrets,” Paige said, dipping a spoon into the soufflé. “It seems surreal.”

“Yes, I agree, surreal,” Jake said. “What are the entries in this diary like? Do they have anything to do with sapphires?”

Paige looked a little guilty. “Nothing to do with sapphires. From what I’ve read so far, the diarist was a painting student who was frustrated with his teacher and his own work. He was an angry person, but his story intrigues me.”

“Yes, I remember how you can’t resist the possibility of a good story.” Jake’s voice had softened. He reached across the table and laced his fingers with Paige’s. That simple contact unnerved but warmed her. It was good to feel his touch.

“How does a cool, Montana evening walk sound after we pay the tab?”  Jake nodded to the café’s front door.

“I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a check,” Paige laughed. “Payment for meals here is just as bizarre as everything else in this town.”

“If we don’t get a bill, how do we know what we owe?”  Jake said. Paige guessed that nothing in Timberton made sense to Jake.

“To quote what Mist told me this morning, ‘leave what your heart tells you.’”

“Well,” Jake sighed, “My heart tells me I’d better appreciate an extraordinary meal when I have a chance.” He stood and pulled out a worn, leather wallet from the back pocket of his jeans, taking several bills and dropping them on the table.

Just seeing Jake stand moved Paige to a familiar breathlessness. The scuffed boots were the same ones he’d been wearing when she’d first met him in Jackson Hole. The sound of his first step onto Moonglow’s wooden floor brought back memories of a day in another café, one state away. Had it really been only a month? She admired the snug, relaxed fit of his jeans. They looked like the same jeans as before, though the belt buckle was different. It was similar to the silver buckles she’d seen him wear, but with a trace of gold edging. The design featured majestic mountains and pine trees that surrounded a rustic bridge.

“Like it?”

Paige blushed. She knew she’d stared at that belt buckle a bit too long. Of course she liked it. All of it. What was not to like about this Wyoming cowboy?

“Recent addition to your wardrobe?”

Jake grinned. “Even guys shop sometimes, you know.” He helped her up from her chair, picked up the long-stemmed, red rose and presented it to her with a slight bow.

“Dramatic,” she teased.

“Well, drama could be your middle name, if I recall your last visit correctly.”

Jake released her hand and slid his arm around her shoulders.

“Not this time.” Paige sighed. They stepped out into the cold night and paused on the sidewalk. “The people are interesting, and the diary adds an intriguing twist, but there’s not a drop of drama to be found in this town from what I can tell.”

“That’s fine,” Jake said. “You’re here to do an article on sapphires. Maybe the town’s old-time residents will find the diary interesting. Anyway, the most important thing is that you’re here.” He turned Paige toward him and drew her close.

“I think maybe you should show me this diary,” Jake whispered, his lips brushing Paige’s ear. “You know…the one in your room?”

“Yes.” Paige said with a soft smile. “I think that’s a good idea.”

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Book Purchase Links for The Moonglow Cafe

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1iiokZn

Nook: http://bit.ly/1jHitbg

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1mYmIDz

✰✰✰✰✰

 You can find Deborah Garner at:

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborahgarnerauthor

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/paigeandjake

Website: http://www.deborahgarner.com

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Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1migsJQ

Deborah and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment. When you do you’ll be entered to win a free copy of The Moonglow Cafe in any ebook format.

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Lynn Cahoon – Guidebook to Murder

This week, my guest is author, Lynn Cahoon.

Cahoon

Lynn Cahoon’s a multi-published author. An Idaho native, her stories focus around the depth and experience of small town life and love. Lynn’s published in Chicken Soup anthologies, explored controversial stories for the confessional magazines, short stories in Women’s World, and contemporary romantic fiction. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.

Guidebook to Murder

In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store–Coffee, Books, and More–open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill’s elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily’s gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill–along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit–especially if it gets her closer to South Cove’s finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she’s on the case–and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently. . .

Here’s an excerpt:

Empty shops are the death knell for small businesses. The thought nagged at me as I read, curled up in my favorite overstuffed armchair. Wednesdays were notoriously slow for all the South Cove businesses. Not many tourists included the day in an impulsive California coastal weekend getaway, but I liked to be open, just in case a random busload of quilting seniors decided to stop for a shot of espresso and a few novels to read while they traveled to their next stop on the tour. It had happened.

  The mortgage papers on the building listed me as Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More, the only combination bookstore and coffee shop within sixty miles. But as anyone who’s gone through a divorce or lawsuit knows, paper only tells half the story. I might own the shop, but I’m also one of the world’s biggest suckers.

When I moved to South Cove five years ago, I realized to survive in the small tourist town I’d need to patch together a few different jobs. So I’d jumped at the chance to serve as the business liaison between the local businesses and the city council.

  Now I regretted my impulsive nature. And as if to highlight my error, the fax machine on the back counter beeped and started printing out a message.

 It could be a catering order coming in. Hope springs eternal and all that. I jumped up from my chair to glance at the half-printed page.

  The South Cove city letterhead sparkled on the top. Then Mayor Baylor’s scrawl appeared over the sheet. Short and sweet, he wanted the agenda for the next Business to Business meeting in his office by five on Friday.

As the new kid in town, I’d been honored when the city had offered me the position. I should have known there was a catch, because none of the other more-established business owners wanted the job. Working with His Honor The Mayor was a nightmare. But I was stuck with the job—at least until I could sucker the next victim into taking it on. Planning this month’s get-together had been on my to-do list for three weeks. I wrote it there myself, right after I’d left the last meeting. I left the fax on the machine and went back to my book.

With a steaming hot mocha within reach on the table, I snuggled in to devour the latest installment from my favorite mystery author. Customers could come tomorrow. The mayor and my to-do list could wait another day. The sunshine warmed my skin, and the smell of deep, dark coffee hung in the air. I tried to ignore the nagging going on inside my brain.

I’d read two pages when the phone rang. My plans for a quiet morning of reading weren’t working out. Running the few steps to reach the phone, I felt breathless when I answered. “Coffee, Books, and More, how can I help you?”

“Jill, is that you?” Miss Emily’s high-pitched voice blared over the phone line. Man, for being in her eighties, the woman could really project.

“Yes, it’s me. What’s going on?” My heart slowed a few beats. I needed to get into better shape. I grabbed a dust cloth, happy for the cordless phone. Conversations with Miss Emily were never short.

“Those rats at the council are at it again.” Miss Emily’s ongoing argument with the city was a popular topic of discussion not only with me, but with anyone who stopped by her house to visit.

“What did they do now?” I walked over to the closest bookshelf and started to wipe away the dust that had already settled since I cleaned yesterday. I loved my little store but sometimes I felt like it owned me, my time, and what was left of my rapidly shrinking savings account.

“They want me to sell out to some charlatan who’s building an apartment complex for wealthy seniors. And they’re offering me a condo at a reduced price in the complex. Can you believe it?” Miss Emily sounded near tears.

“They can’t make you sell.” I tried to calm her.

“The letter says they can. It says the council can condemn the property and just take my house. Can they do that?” Miss Emily rattled the pages hard enough that I could hear the crinkling over the phone.

“Just put that letter away and I’ll look it over on Sunday. When do you have to answer?” I was starting to worry. The council had never threatened to condemn her property before. I’d have to check with Amy, she’d know the details. Having the city planner as a friend came in handy.

 “The end of the month.”

“We have plenty of time. We’ll call some lawyers on Monday if we need to.” One more thing on my to-do list.

“I’m buying a rifle to keep those carpetbaggers off my land,” Miss Emily declared.

Guidebook to Murder2 (eBook)

Lynn and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Guidebook-Murder-Tourist-Trap-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00FY54N72/

Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/guidebook-to-murder-lynn-cahoon/1117238140?ean=9781601832382

Goodreads -http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5857424.Lynn_Cahoon

Twitter - https://twitter.com/LynnCahoon

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/LynnCahoonAuthor

website - http://lynncahoon.wordpress.com/

Amazon author page - http://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Cahoon/e/B0082PWOAO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

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Larissa Reinhart – Death in Perspective

This week, my guest is mystery author, Larissa Reinhart

After teaching in the US and Japan, Larissa enjoys writing, particularly sassy female characters with a penchant for trouble.  A 2014 Georgia Author of the Year nominee, she lives near Atlanta with her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website or find her chatting on FacebookDeath in Perspective is the fourth book in the best selling Cherry Tucker Mystery series.

Death in Perspective:

In Cherry Tucker’s fourth mystery, the curtain rises on Cherry’s debut as a high school set designer at the posh, private Peerless Day Academy. Cherry’s been hired to design scenery for an avant garde adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, but the theater teacher’s hoping Cherry can also turn the spotlight on a malicious bully who’s sending poisonous texts to the faculty. The director’s got his own drama to hide, and the phantom texter seems eager to spill school secrets. When a school secretary’s death is ruled a suicide, Cherry suspects foul play. The phantom bully may be using blackmail to rid the school of unwanted staff, urging a Montague-Capulet styled showdown.

With Deputy Luke Harper wanting to return as Cherry’s leading man, he’s eager to assist her efforts in fingering the phantom culprit, but Cherry fears family secrets may doom them to the role of star-crossed lovers. Offstage, Cherry’s searching for her missing brother who’s fixed on a vendetta against Luke’s stepfamily, so she instead turns to the local, foreign racketeer, Max Avtaikin, for assistance. With the bully waiting for a murderous encore and her own family skeletons to hide, Cherry scrambles to find her brother and the mysterious texter before the phantom decides its curtains for Cherry and forces her to take a final bow.

Here is an excerpt: 

Someone should have told me Maranda Pringle was dead. For the past twenty minutes, I’d been sitting in her office, picking at my Toulouse La’Lilac painted nails and wondering where in the hell Miss Pringle could be. Hindsight later taught me she’d be found somewhere in that mystical realm between the Peerless Day Academy and the Great Beyond, but currently, it ticked me off that Miss Pringle had clearly forgotten I had a twelve o’clock appointment with Principal Cleveland. I had spent plenty of time waiting on principals in my previous life as a high school troublemaker, so waiting on one now had brought back feelings of anxiety.

Which was why my nails appeared so spotty.

Before I had the nerve to leave Miss Pringle’s small antechamber and knock on Principal Cleveland’s door, another woman entered Miss Pringle’s room and proceeded to stare at me for a long five seconds before finding her voice. Her blunt blonde bob, expensive blue suit, and no-nonsense designer pumps gave her a look of authority, but a snazzy, silk scarf knotted around her neck said, “I’m also fashionable.”

“Who are you?”she asked. “Why are you in Miss Pringle’s office?”

“I’m Cherry Tucker. I’m waiting for Principal Cleveland to discuss my clearance for working with the drama department on the backdrop and props for Romeo and Juliet.”

My fingers flew to smooth my cornsilk blonde strands and straighten my belted Bert and Ernie t-shirt dress. I had figured school personnel would appreciate Sesame Street characters as educational innovators. And as most teachers I knew wore khakis and polo shirts and I owned neither a khaki nor a polo, retrofitted Sesame Street attire from the Big Boys department would have to do for an interview.

“I am the assistant principal, Brenda Cooke. Why would the drama department need help with the stage art? We have a fully equipped art department.”

I waited a moment to see if the question was rhetorical. Then I remembered this was a school and teachers expected answers. “I got a call from a Mr. Tinsley needing an artist to help with ‘original art pieces’for his ‘avant-garde’musical production of Romeo and Juliet. Why he doesn’t ask the art teacher, I haven’t the faintest. But here I am.”

When she didn’t respond, I added, “I’m an artist. Portrait artist by trade, but classically trained at Savannah College of Art and Design in a number of genres. I’m also a graduate of Halo High School, and although I know your school is located near Line Creek, I figure you don’t have the animosity toward Halo’s Fighting Angels that the Line Creek Legions does. As you’re a private school and all.”

“Today is not a good day.”Ms. Cooke’s shoulders sagged, and she dropped her principal swagger. “Actually, we just learned we lost Miss Pringle this past weekend. Principal Cleveland is at her home right now and this afternoon we’re having an emergency staff meeting.”

“Bless your heart. I’m sorry to hear that. I had no idea.”My cheeks reddened at my hustle to gain a job when the school had just lost their secretary.

Ms. Cooke nodded. “Thank you. It’s tragic, but I’m worried about the school. I don’t want to see our students suffer from this loss.”

“Of course.”

I left Ms. Cooke in the small office and walked into the large reception area. Students chatted in small groups and harried teachers trotted through, clutching reams of copies in their arms. At the front desk, I eyed the woman who had sent me to poor Miss Pringle’s office and wondered why no one had told her Miss Pringle would no longer take visitors. The brunette did not have the khakis look. She had the sleek haircut, chunky jewelry, and tasteful yet cleavage baring top of someone who had never considered pursuing the not-for-profit world of teaching.

I stopped at the front desk and leaned a hip against the counter.

Mrs. Brunette raised a freshly waxed eyebrow and ran her eyes over Bert and Ernie. “Can I help you? Why aren’t you in uniform? Are you new?”

“I’m not a student. I’m Cherry Tucker, the artist. You just sent me to Mr. Cleveland’s office.”

Mrs. Brunette turned slightly in her chair, enough to deliver the message that she didn’t  want to talk to me. “Right, I forgot. Did you need directions somewhere?”

“No, there’s something you need to know. It’s about sending folks into Miss Pringle’s office.”

Mrs. Brunette sighed. “Yes?”

“Don’t do it anymore today.”

“Thank you,”she wiggled French manicured fingers in dismissal.

“Don’t you want to know why?”The funny thing about dismissing me, it makes me want to stay. “Are you on staff here? You don’t look like a teacher.”

“Good Lord, no. I’m a parent. We’re required to volunteer and this is one of my days.”She readjusted so I could get the full frontal. Her cleavage showed a lift and separate appropriate for packaging bowling balls. Except she didn’t need a bra. “I’m Pamela Hargraves. We live in Ballantyne.”

“It’s Miss Pringle. She passed yesterday. So don’t send anyone to her room today.

Pamela leaned forward, gripping my arm with her multi-ringed fingers. “No. Way. That bitch is dead?”

DEATH IN PERSPECTIVE cover Front

Thanks so much for having Cherry Tucker & I on your blog!

I’d love to offer a lucky commenter a Cherry Tucker e-book of their choice! What do you like about small town reads?

Links:

LarissaReinhart.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RisWrites

Twitter: @RisWrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LarissaReinhart

Instagram: http://instagram.com/larissareinhart

Congratulations to Christa Nardi for winning one of the Cherry Tucker mysteries by Larissa Reinhart

 

 

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Meet My Main Character Blog Tour

On this blog tour you’ll meet the main characters in my new novel, Once Upon a Crime. This novel has two main characters. And the story is told from both points of view.

 1. What is the name of your main character? Is s/he fictional or a historic person?

 My characters are fictional. Meet executive administrative assistant to the president of Longbourne and Payne Consolidation, Charlotte Ross. And her best friend, dubious globe-trotter and mystery author, Jane Marshall.

  

  1.  When and where is the story set?

 The story takes place in the present, in the small hamlet of Raven’s Caw, Michigan, where Charlotte’s Aunt Nettie lives. The town is rich with quirky, small-town personalities, who both aid and thwart the ladies in their quest to solve the mystery.

 

  1.  What should we know about her/him?

 Charlotte Ross is devastated. Not only has her engagement been broken, but her heart is left in shreds by her adventure-chasing ex-fiancé. After nearly being killed in the previous novel, Masterpiece of Murder, Charlotte is ready for some quiet time. She needs to get away from the confusion that her life has become so she flees to her aunt’s house in Raven’s Caw, Michigan.

 Joined by her mystery-writing friend, Jane Marshall, both are happy to spend the days reminiscing about Charlotte’s childhood summers spent in the area. Jane is exhausted from the success of her first two novels and the sleepy little town of Raven’s Caw is just what she needs for a rest.

 

  1.  What is the main conflict? What messes up her/his life?

 Not everything is as it seems and before the friends have a chance to relax, they are pulled into a mystery from over a decade before. The past is definitely haunting the pair as they discover a link between a murder twelve years earlier and one that recently happened. While trying to wipe out memories of her ex-fiancé, Charlotte runs into her first love, who complicates her life with feelings she thought were long forgotten.

Pulled along on this roller coaster of mystery and emotion is Kenny, Charlotte’s attractive, Machiavellian cousin whose easy smile has captured Jane’s interest even after Charlotte has warned her not to get involved with him. Drawn in by the chance of a budding relationship, Jane is torn between her love of mystery and the man who could be so much more than a fun time.

 

  1.  What is her/his personal goal?

 Charlotte wants to forget her ex-fiancé and find a new love, but will her past love be the real deal, or just a convenient diversion?

 Before Jane can trust Kenny, she’s left to answer the one question that is bothering everyone. Is Kenny a murderer?

  1.  Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

 The title is Once Upon a Crime, and I will be writing more about it as the release date nears. Keep an eye on Goodreads. You’ll be able to enter the free giveaway I’ll be hosting there.

 

  1.  When can we expect the book to be published?

I just heard from my publisher. The release date for Once Upon a Crime is September 1st. I will blog more about the novel in the future.

 Next week:

Author Skye Taylor will be blogging about her main characters.

 http://www.Skye-writer.com/blogging_at_the_beach

“I’m actually introducing the “Family” that is the series rather than a specific character. Camerons of Tide’s Way, NC: Jake, Ben, Meg and Will.”

 Also, the week of June 30th:

 Don’t miss author Richard Whitten Barnes, who will blog about one of the main characters in his new crime fiction novel, A Scent of Almond: http://www.richardwhittenbarnes.com/blog—throwing-stones.html

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Skye Taylor – Falling for Zoe

This week, love is in the air ♥♥♥ with my guest author, Skye Taylor

Skye Taylor lives in Florida where she divides her time between writing novels, walking the beach, occasionally dressing up as a 17th century Spanish colonial and participating in historical re-enactments in old St Augustine, and trying to keep her to-be-read pile from taking over the house. She considers life an adventure and in a world of people who ask why, she has decided to ask “why not?” She spent two years in the South Pacific with the Peace Corps (2002-2004). She’s jumped out of perfectly good airplanes and earned a basic sky diving license. She loves to travel and has visited twenty-six states and fourteen countries on four continents and the South Pacific. Her bucket list includes at least that many more places to see. Having been born and lived most of her life in New England where her children grew up, she is now a transplanted Yankee soaking up the sun, warmth and history of St. Augustine. She’s a member of RWA, Florida Writer’s Association and Ancient City Romance Authors.

Falling for Zoe

Zoe Callahan, pregnant with the child her ex-boyfriend doesn’t want, adores her ramshackle new home in the seaside town of Tide’s Way, North Carolina. When she meets her handsome next-door neighbor, Jake Cameron, who offers some fixer-upper help, her heart goes out to him. He’s a doting dad to three daughters and the kind caretaker to a mom-in-law with Alzheimer’s. He’s a gentle, caring man, the kind she always dreamed about.

Jake can’t deny his instant attraction to his new neighbor, but he’s already got a house full of females he feels he can’t live up to. Besides, he won’t risk turning his family upside down again after his ex-wife nearly destroyed it.

Despite Jake’s efforts to hide his feelings, he and Zoe quickly become the best of friends. Zoe discovers love hasn’t given up on her, even if the father of her unborn child did. Now she just needs to figure out why Jake is so determined not to let the heady attraction that sizzles between them turn into something more than just friendship.

Then disaster strikes, and Jake is Zoe’s reluctant rescuer. He already has her heart, but now, in spite of the rift that has come between them, she must trust him with her life and the life of her baby. Can Jake shake the demons in his own past and trust himself?

Here is an excerpt: 

The rumble of a diesel engine and the grinding of gears caught Jake Cameron’s attention. He looked up to see a red and white van with the familiar logo of a well-known Wilmington moving company. Thankful for any diversion from the unwelcome feelings stirred up by today’s unsettling mail, Jake tossed the stack of letters onto the bench inside the garage door and stepped back outside to watch the movers.

The big van negotiated the sharp turn between the crumbling old brick gateposts guarding their little cul-de-sac and eased around the grassy little island in the center. Jake whistled in mild astonishment as it pulled to a stop in front of the once elegant Jolee homestead that squatted firmly on the rise between the road and the tidal marsh beyond. The real estate market was still agonizingly sluggish, and the neglected building had been vacant ever since the former owner had passed away. The nineteenth-century homes with antiquated everything just seemed to sit forever waiting for buyers with an interest in the unique and historic, or for investors on the lookout for cheap properties they could fix and flip.

A battered Toyota pickup truck swung around the van and pulled onto the crushed shell drive. Jake started across his lawn, intending to be neighborly and welcome the new guy on the block, whatever his plan for the place.

The person who slid out of the driver’s seat took him by surprise. She had a wild mane of reddish-gold curls and a figure to grab any man’s instant attention. Jake hesitated, waiting for a husband to appear from the passenger seat, but none did. The woman turned, saw Jake and flashed him a friendly smile.

“Hi!” the woman called in an engagingly musical voice. “Are you my new neighbor?”

Jake yanked himself out of his momentary confusion and finished covering the distance to the drive. He held out his hand. “If you’re moving into this place, then that would be a yes. Name’s Jake Cameron.”

“Nice to meet you, Jake.” Her eyes traveled down over his paint-stained T-shirt and frayed, khaki shorts and came back to his face with a curious sparkle in their greenish-brown depths that made him wonder if he’d left his fly down. “I’m Zoe Callahan.”

“Sorry, I’m kind of a mess. Been painting.” He forced himself not to check the status of his zipper as he shook her hand briefly before jamming his hands into his pockets.

She wasn’t as young as he’d first thought. Late twenties maybe, or early thirties.  She was attractive in a fresh-faced, girl-next-door sort of way. What, he wondered, could have induced this engaging young woman to buy a house that was going to need an army to put it to rights?

“This time next week, I’ll be the one apologizing.” Zoe jerked her head in the direction of the house. “Everything will need painting inside and out, I’m afraid.”

“It’ll take a lot more than a coat of paint to get this place ready to put back on the market.” Jake studied the peeling paint and derelict railings more closely, reflecting on how really bad it had gotten over the months the house had been vacant.

“Oh, I don’t plan to sell it.” Zoe’s hazel eyes widened in exaggerated enthusiasm.  “I’m here to stay.”

“Is . . . is there a Mr. Callahan?”

“Nope! Just me and the menagerie.”

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My website: http://www..Skye-writer.com

My Blog: http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_at_the_beach

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/skyewriter2

Purchase on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JGAHJDG/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

Purchase on B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/falling-for-zoe-skye-taylor/1119109341?ean=9781611944730

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