Monday, September 30, 2013

Excerpt/Giveaway: Lowcountry Bombshell by Susan M. Boyer

Liz Talbot thinks she's seen another ghost when she meets Calista McQueen. She's the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe. Born precisely fifty years after the ill-fated star, Calista's life has eerily mirrored the late starlet's--and she fears the looming anniversary of Marilyn's death will also be hers.

Before Liz can open a case file, Calista's life coach is executed. Suspicious characters swarm around Calista like mosquitoes on a sultry lowcountry evening: her certifiable mother, a fake aunt, her control-freak psychoanalyst, a private yoga instructor, her peculiar housekeeper, and an obsessed ex-husband. Liz digs in to find a motive for murder, but she's besieged with distractions. Her ex has marriage and babies on his mind. Her too-sexy partner engages in a campaign of repeat seduction. Mamma needs help with Daddy's devotion to bad habits. And a gang of wild hogs is running loose on Stella Maris.

With the heat index approaching triple digits, Liz races to uncover a diabolical murder plot in time to save not only Calista's life, but also her own.


Chapter One

The dead are not troubled by the passage of time. I know this because my best girlfriend, Colleen, died when we were seventeen. She hasn’t aged a day in fourteen years. I turned thirty-one last February and commenced researching wrinkle creams.

My familiarity with the departed accounts for why, on that steamy Wednesday in late July, I entertained the notion that the blonde on my front porch was the ghost of Marilyn Monroe.

The doorbell rang at ten that morning. Rhett barked his fool head off upstairs where I’d stashed him. My golden retriever was unaccustomed to being on lockdown, but I’m a private investigator by trade and was expecting a new client. Out of habit, I peeked through the sidelight by the front door. The woman on the porch was dressed in white capris with a white blouse knotted at her waist. There was no mistaking the platinum-blonde hair, calendar-girl figure, and beauty mark. Clearly, I hadn’t guzzled enough coffee and needed a closer look.

I opened the door. Hot, moist air washed into the foyer.

“Hi,” she said. “Are you Liz Talbot?” Her voice was smoky and breathless. It brought to mind Little Bo Peep, if Bo were trying to seduce you. She looked crisp and fresh, in utter defiance of the weather.

“Yes.” I nodded slowly. “I was expecting Calista McQueen?”

“That’s me,” she said.

I tilted my head and looked at her sideways, as if the view might be different from another angle. I could feel my face squishing up in one of those looks Mamma has warned me countless times will cause wrinkles. All that money I’d spent on high-dollar cream would be wasted if I wasn’t careful.

The woman on my porch sighed and fixed me with a double-barreled stare. “I’m not her. I’m not related to her, and I’m not one of those tribute artists, either.”

“Of course. My goodness, I’m so sorry,” I said. “The resemblance is just—”

“Startling, I know.” She glanced around the deep porch. Her gaze drifted from the swing, to the hammock, and settled on the Adirondack chairs. “Did you want to meet out here?”

“No, please.” I jerked the door open wider and scooted out of the way. “Come in. It’s so hot out there I’m afraid my manners must have melted.”

“Thanks.” She turned and scanned the yard, then crossed into the foyer.

I swept my arm towards the room to her right. “Why don’t we talk in here?”

She undulated into what now serves as my office. Like a giant Hoover, her presence sucked my self-confidence right out. I followed, yanking the clip out of my hair and fluffing as I went. I could hear Phoebe, my hair stylist, ranting now. Three freakin’ hours to get that multi-toned blonde and you cram it into a freakin’ clip.

When the temperature and humidity approach triple digits, all this hair causes my brain stem to overheat. At least I was dressed nicely in a cobalt blue shift that matched my eyes. It’s hard to go wrong with Ann Taylor Loft.

Calista stopped in front of the fireplace on the far side of the room. She waited, posing the way models do at the end of the runway. “You have a lovely home.”

“Thanks,” I said. “It was my grandmother’s.” Gram had liked to entertain, and her living room was large enough for her fifty closest friends to gather for mint juleps. I had divided it into sections with my home office, the only office for the Stella Maris branch of Talbot and Andrews Investigations, occupying the left half. My walnut desk and two guest chairs stood in front of a wall of bookcases that wrapped around the far left corner and flanked the windows on both sides of the fireplace. The opposite side of the room held a big green velvet sofa with wooden trim and a row of fringe around the bottom. It had been Gram’s favorite piece. The sofa faced the wall of windows, with a set of chairs on each side to complete the conversation area.

I debated whether to sit behind the desk or on the soft furniture. I’d never met with a new client at home. Since I’d moved back to Stella Maris in April, I’d been holding initial meetings on neutral territory—a restaurant, maybe, or the park. But Calista had balked at that idea. I could see now why she was shy of public places.

I gestured toward the sofa. “Have a seat.” While I grabbed a pad and pen from the desk, she arranged herself on the end of the sofa closest to the door. I settled into a tropical-print wingback on her right. Calista looked at the ceiling.

I willed Rhett to stop barking. “Don’t mind him,” I said. “He doesn’t care to be left out. He’s accustomed to having the run of the house and yard.”

“You should let him come down. I had a dog once…”

“Thanks, but I think we’ll be less distracted if he stays upstairs. He’ll be quiet when he realizes I’m not letting him out.”

Mamma would have been mortified at how long I just sat there staring at Calista McQueen. I kept thinking I’d find something that differentiated her from the movie star, but the woman next to me was Marilyn’s doppelganger. I was acquainted with all manner of oddities, but a doppelganger—that was a new one. She must have been used to the staring because she just sat there with perfect posture, letting me get it out of my system.

Finally, I closed my eyes, shook my head to clear it, and located my professionalism. “How can I help you, Ms. McQueen?”

“Please,” she said, “Call me Calista.”

I nodded. “I’m Liz.”

She moistened her lips. “I’d like you to keep me alive.”

“If someone’s threatened you, we need to call the police.”

“No one has threatened me.”

I squinted at her. “Then why are you in fear for your life?”

“This is a long story,” she said. “Could I please have a glass of water?”

“Of course.” I jumped up. “Where are my manners? I just made some fresh tea…”

“Oh, that’d be swell.”

“Lemon, mint, or both?”

“Mint, please,” she said. “Thank you, ever so.”

I scrambled to the kitchen. While I waited for the tap water to run hot, I heard Mamma’s voice in my head lamenting my utter lapse in hospitality. I scrubbed my hands and slathered them with sanitizer. No sense running the risk of making us both sick. Bacteria are forever on the offensive, but they thrive in hot weather. Some people think roaches would be the only thing left after a nuclear apocalypse, but I’m convinced bacteria would not only survive, they would kill off the roaches. Certain members of my immediate family make great sport of trying to trace what they refer to as my “nervous habit” to some incident in my childhood, or genetic mutation. This is ridiculous. I simply have a healthy regard for personal hygiene.

I fixed two glasses of tea, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Then, I headed back to the living room silently chanting, don’t stare, don’t stare, don’t stare…

I set the glasses on coasters on the mahogany end table between us and returned to the wingback. “Please,” I said. “Start at the beginning.”

She took a sip of her tea. “My, that’s good.” She stared at the glass for a moment. When she looked up at me, her eyes shimmered. “This will sound absurd.”

“You’ve come to the right place. I have an appreciation for the absurd.”

The edges of her mouth crept up. She fixed her gaze on something far away, outside the row of floor-to-ceiling windows. “I was born June first, nineteen seventy-six, at nine-thirty a.m., in Los Angeles General Hospital. My birthday was the fiftieth anniversary of hers. To the minute.”

I reached for my tea glass but didn’t take my eyes off Calista.

She paused for a moment. “My mother named me Norma Jeane. On my birth certificate, it says a man named Mortensen is my father, but I’ve never met him, and I doubt that’s true. When I was two weeks old, my mother put me in foster care. With very few exceptions, the first eighteen years of my life followed the same pattern as Marilyn’s.”

I set down my glass and picked up my pad and pen. “Wasn’t her last name Baker?”

“She was baptized Norma Jeane Baker, same as me. Her mother’s first husband was John Baker, but he was out of the picture long before Norma Jeane was conceived.” Calista shrugged. “Martin Edward Mortensen was her mother’s most recent husband when Norma Jeane was born, so he’s on the birth certificate. It was pretty much the same with me, or at least, that’s what they told me. Not the same Martin Edward Mortensen, of course.”

I focused on keeping my expression neutral. “Go on.”

“Sometimes my mother would pick me up on Saturdays from whatever foster home or orphanage I happened to be living in and take me places. To the movies, mostly, and out to lunch. I lived with her a couple of times, but it never worked out.” Calista blinked. “My mother insisted I was the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, though I think her friend Grace put that idea in her head to begin with, probably before I was even born, when the doctor told Mother her approximate due date. You see, Mother’s maiden name is Monroe. She lives in Los Angeles, and they’ve both always been fascinated by Marilyn. Mother is very impressionable. Grace is… ambitious. They were very close, Mother and Grace. Aunt Grace. That’s what she had me call her.”

“Uh-huh.” I felt my eyebrows creep up.

“I think they tried to make my life just like Marilyn’s, the foster care, living with relatives, the orphanage. All of it.”

“But they couldn’t have known how much you’d grow up to look like Marilyn.”

“No.” Calista slowly shook her head. “At first I think the date ignited Grace’s imagination. She was always into numerology, Tarot cards, horoscopes, all of that. As I got older and actually resembled Marilyn, she became more and more obsessed. The strangest thing of all is I don’t look as much like her as it seems. My hair is naturally this color, Marilyn’s wasn’t. The head of Columbia studios arranged for electrolysis to raise her hairline, and to have her hair bleached with peroxide and ammonia. Another studio type she had an affair with took her to the orthodontist and had her overbite corrected. Her agent had work done on her nose and her jaw. I’ve never had any of that done. I look like she looked when they got through with her.”
Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card!

Anyone who purchases their copy of Lowcountry Bombshell before October 7 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.

Author Bio:
Susan M. Boyer has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit, and they run away to the beach as often as possible.

Susan’s debut novel, Lowcountry Boil is a USA Today Bestseller, an Agatha Award winner for Best First Novel, a Macavity nominee for Best First Novel, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense recipient, and a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist. Lowcountry Bombshell, the second Liz Talbot Mystery, was released September 3, 2013. Visit Susan on the web at

To connect with the author online:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

3 Social Media Tips for Animal Shelters

Photo courtesy of Shelter Pet Project's Facebook page

The first time I saw this image on Facebook I couldn't share it fast enough. Social media has revolutionized the way animal shelters are able to get the plight of homeless animals to the masses. Nothing warms my heart more than to see that animals have been pulled from kill shelters and placed with rescue groups. Everyday lives are saved because of people blogging, Facebooking, and tweeting about waifs in need of their forever home.

As part of International Pet Blogger Month I've been challenged to offer 3 tips for animal shelters on how they can use social media better. Here are my suggestions:

1. Bloggers. Pet bloggers are passionate about rescue work. Scope us out and ask us to write about your shelter prior to an adoption/fundraising event. An adopted pet (such as Truffles!) can "interview" shelter residents looking for a home, or the cat or dog could write up their own little personals ad telling potential adopters about themselves similar to A blogger fluent with Photoshop could create cute "Wanted" posters. Share the blog posts on Facebook and Twitter, and email the links to everyone on your mailing list.

2. Reach out to local photographers. My local shelter has a professional photographer volunteer her time each week to come in and snap pictures of the new pets up for adoption. There is nothing sadder than seeing a photo of a scared & lonely homeless pet cowering in the corner of a cage. Show them happy and having fun - the way they'll look once they're in their new home!

3. Video. Most all smart phones today have a video function. Video is so much more powerful than a photo. Attach a short clip of each cat or dog to the pet profiles on your website and Petfinder, or start a Youtube channel. My shelter recently had a 3-legged cat (amputation after being hit by a car), and they put up a Youtube video showing how it hadn't slowed him down one bit - he was playfully bouncing off the walls and it was a joy to see!

Orphaned pets can't speak for themselves.
We are their only voice.
Let's use our social media presence to help find needy pets a home!

International Pet Bloggers Month

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Spotlight: Four 'Til Late by Eric Garrison



About the Author: Eric Garrison is active in the writing community in Indianapolis, Indiana. He lives in the Circle City with his wife, step-daughter and four cats. He also enjoys gaming and homebrewing beer.

Seventh Star Press published the first of his Road Ghosts trilogy, Four 'til Late, in July of 2013. The other two are expected to come out later in 2013.

Eric's novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. This book reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon's Kindle store during a promotion in July 2013.

Eric's short story, "Drag Show" appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine and Volume 2 of that magazine's anthology series. His flash piece, "Dark Reflection", appeared in the Indiana Horror 2011 anthology. He's competed twice in the Iron Writer Challenge with two 500-word flash pieces, "Killer Cure" and "Moby Me".


Book Synopsis: In Four 'til Late, amateur ghost hunter Brett and his friends Gonzo, Jimbo, and Liz are on a road trip with dangerous detours, dreadful dreams and dire warnings. But that won't keep them from reaching their goal: New Orleans. Along the way they discover that some spirits leave you with more than a hangover and regrets. Can they get there in one piece, or will they be stopped and rest in peace? The bags are packed, the engine's running. Turn up the radio and get moving because the road ghosts are waiting, and it's Four 'til Late. Four 'til Late is the first book of the Road Ghosts Trilogy.

Author Links:





Tour Schedule and Activities

9/23 Laura VanArendonk Baugh Blog Contest

9/23 Lost Inside the Covers Review

9/23 The Dan O’Brien Project Promo Spotlight

9/24 The Flipside of Julianne Guest Post

9/24 Celticlady’s Reviews Promo Spotlight

9/25 Armand Rosamilia, Author Guest Post

9/25 Jess Resides Here Character Interview

9/26 Pick of the Literate Promo Spotlight

9/26 Word to Dreams Review

9/26 Come Selahway With Me Interview

9/27 MikesFilmTalk Promo Spotlight

9/27 Sheila Deeth Guest Post

9/27 Bee’s Knees Reviews Review

9/28 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews Promo Spotlight

9/28 Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews Character Interview

9/29 I Smell Sheep Promo Spotlight

9/29 Mochas, Mysteries, and More Promo Spotlight

Amazon Links for Four 'Til Late:

Print Version

Kindle Version

Other eBook Links




Cat's Meow Mailbox #3

Cat's Meow Mailbox is inspired by the great weekly recap book memes (Mailbox Monday, Waiting On Wednesday, It’s Monday! What are you reading? and Sunday Post)

* If you haven't had a chance to go through all of this week's posts make sure you check out all the great giveaways! Truffles will be picking lots of winners this week :)

Last week on Mochas, Mysteries and More:
* Book Review: Clammed Up by Barbara Ross
* Interview/Giveaway with Holly Menino, Author of Murder, She Rode
* Why I Added a Cat to Jane Eyre's Life, by Joanna Campbell Slan (w/Giveaway)
* Remember Me Thursday
* Spotlight: Winter of Wishes by Charlotte Hubbard
* Review/Giveaway/Excerpt: Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney
* Spotlight/Excerpt/Giveaway: The Riddles of Hillgate by Zoey & Claire Kane
* Interview/Giveaway with Deborah Sharp, Author of Mama Gets Trashed
Caturday Cinema: Sir Stuffington, One-Eyed Kitten

For Review Consideration:
Death Comes to the Village The Devil's Breath The Edwin Drood Murders Christmans at Angel Lake 235x350 72dpi


Antiques Slay Ride First-Degree Fudge (Fudge Shop Mystery Series #1) Charmed Again  Heirs and Graces (Royal Spyness Series #7) Dolled Up to Die (Cate Kinkaid Files Series #2) A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella Murder of a Stacked Librarian (Scumble River Series #16) Death of a Neighborhood Witch

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Caturday Cinema: Sir Stuffington, One-Eyed Kitten

Hey everybody, Truffles here with another episode of Caturday Cinema! Today I'd like to introduce you to new Internet sensation Sir Stuffington, the one-eyed kitten. The 6-week-old's photo went viral thanks to a picture of him wearing pirate garb complete with red bandana, eye patch, and a precious little sneer.

(Photo from Sir Stuffington Facebook page)

The little guy was born on the streets and suffered a raccoon attack. He also has other health issues including a disfigured jaw, heart murmur, upper respiratory infection, flea anemia, and the highly contagious calicivirus. He's currently in foster care and once his health is stabilized he will need to have several teeth removed to avoid future issues with the jaw fracture. His heart murmur and flea anemia have already been successfully treated.

If you're interested in financially contributing to Sir Stuffington's recovery you can purchase adorable pirate-themed prints starring the popular kitten. All proceeds go to his recovery, as well as to other animals needing help at Multnomah County Animal Services.

Here's a news clip showing the little angel in action:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Interview/Giveaway with Deborah Sharp, Author of Mama Gets Trashed

Welcome, Deb! What was the inspiration for your Mace Bauer mystery series?
How nice of you to ask, Melissa! When I was trying to make a transition from covering news to writing fiction, I struggled with the idea of making up people and plots (If they catch you doing that at a newspaper, it's firing time). Writing teachers tell newbies to seek inspiration in pictures, hoping an image will light the creative spark. My spark flickered when I was reading the Miami Herald, and spotted a full-color ad for health insurance for seniors. An older woman sat behind the wheel of a turquoise convertible, laughing and looking like she was headed straight for mischief. An image of the Mama character immediately popped into my head. She'd find a body in the trunk of that convertible, I decided, and the police would think she was the killer.

That became the first short story I ever wrote, which morphed into the first book (Mama Does Time, 2008), which turned into the five books -- so far -- of the Mace Bauer Mystery series.

How did you create the character of Mama? Is she based on anyone in particular?
Once I had that basic frame for a story, I decided to make it easy on myself: I stole lots of the Mama character's traits from my own mama. Multiple marriages. Sherbet colored pantsuits and sweet pink wine. An affinity for gambling with the Seminoles. Of course, the fictional Mama is far more over-the-top than the real mama, and she's also as Southern as sweet iced tea. Although I'm Southern born-and-bred, my dark family secret is that my mother is -- gasp! -- a Yankee. 

What makes Southern-fried mysteries so darn much fun?
I think Southerners don't take themselves too seriously, so that helps in writing humor. There are also things that happen down here -- especially in Florida -- that are just plain weird.

How much trouble do Mace and Mama get into in Mama Gets Trashed?
Plenty! Mama sets the whole mess in motion by getting tipsy -- Mace would say trashed -- on sweet pink wine. Her gargantuan diamond ring from Husband No. 5 is unintentionally tossed out with the garbage. Before it's all over, one or the other manages to find a body at the city dump, get tangled up with a sexy -- deadly? -- circle of whip-wielding swingers, go head-to-head with sleazy politicians, and discover a marital betrayal that's too-close-for-comfort. And, all this while eluding threats, gunfire, and a close call with an alligator.

Who are some of your favorite mystery authors?
I don't think you can go wrong with the oldies-but-goodies like Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier. From this century, I like lighter fare from folks like Elaine Viets and Nancy Martin. My publisher, Midnight Ink, has a full roster of terrific writers, too.  

What do you like to do in your free time?
I ride my bicycle a lot, and I love to be outdoors. My husband and I own some property along the Kissimmee River, north of Lake Okeechobee.That's the wild, open, sweet-tea-and-barbecue slice of Florida that I write about. Getting up there from the more congested, urban environs of south Florida is a great way to recharge my batteries.

What are you working on now?
At age 98, my mom's health is failing -- physically, and especially mentally. Since she's always been a muse for the Mama character, not to mention my No. 1 fan, I've struggled a bit to find the same joy I had in writing when Mom was able to be actively involved. I'm taking a bit of a breather, though I hope to return to my fictional world and family in Himmarshee, Fla., in the future.  

Leave a comment with your email address for the chance to win one autographed trade paperback, US entries only, ends 9/30.

About Mama Gets Trashed: After a tipsy Mama tosses out her wedding ring with the trash, she drags daughter Mace to the city dump to search. When they stumble upon the body of librarian Camilla Law, the straitlaced town is scandalized: Not only is a killer on the loose, but prudish Camilla is all done up in sexy black leather. Foul play and fetish wear in little Himmarshee, Fla? Mama's blushing fifty shades of pink!

Author Bio: A former USA Today reporter, Deborah Sharp traded sad news stories for funny fiction with her Mace Bauer Mysteries, featuring Mace's wacky Mama. Deborah rode a horse across Florida for one book. For another, she was interviewed by Al Roker on the Today show. She was a lot less nervous about the horse. Married to TV reporter Kerry Sanders, she lives in South Florida, where she spends her spare time chasing iguanas out of her hibiscus. Mama Gets Trashed, out Sept. 8 from Midnight Ink, is the series' fifth book. Visit her online at or on Facebook at You can read an excerpt from TRASHED, here:

Spotlight/Excerpt/Giveaway: The Riddles of Hillgate by Zoey & Claire Kane

riddles tour


The Riddles of Hillgate

Zoey Kane is known around Riverside for making risky purchases. When her daughter Claire learns a most recent investment is eighty acres on the haunted side of town, she is simply flabbergasted. Amazement takes over the whole community, however, when an old mansion is discovered deep within trees. After the estate is turned into a popular hotel, no one could have expected just how risky this purchase would be.

Riddles of Hillgate is currently FREE!
Download a copy

The Z&C Mysteries are a fresh, unique series, where the mother and daughter can kick butt in heels if they have to. The situations can get very scary, but nothing is ever too gory. The reading is clean, while also vibrant. It's just plain fast-paced fun.


Claire did spot something out of the ordinary. A closet door was slightly open and something was hanging from inside. “Look, Mother, over here.” Claire went over to the closet, opening the door wide.
They both shined their flashlights inside. Part of a ladder hung down, slightly swaying, made of rope.
“Should we climb it?” Zo whispered.
“Follow me up, Mom.”
“How about you pop your head up there first and tell me what you see?”
Claire huffed.
Zo added, “You know I’m not good with ropes or trapezes or anything of that nature.”
“All right.”
“Be careful, dearest.” Zo hesitated. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to let your only daughter go into a creepy attic alone at night, her conscience warned. “What do you see?”
Claire climbed enough just to see inside. The temperature instantly dropped a few degrees, just by that small distance. The rain beat hard on the roof, sounding as if she were in a drum. She shined her light in the space. She followed the glow of the flashlight’s ray along the walls. The attic was bigger than she expected. There was no sign of anyone in there, so she decided to pull herself all the way up and inside.
“Are you all right?” Zo called, afraid.
“Just come up here. You’ll be surprised,” Claire said.
“Is that a good thing?” Zo asked rhetorically. She decided to try her legs on the rope ladder and did much better than she thought. “Good news, Claire: I didn’t get tangled in it.”
She pulled herself up and into the cold attic. “Boy, the thunderclaps sound twenty thousand times louder up here, huh?”
“Yes, Mom,” Claire said, busily running her fingers along a wall, her eyes intently searching.
“What is it?”
“Flash your light over here.”
They scrutinized the display on the wall. “Newspapers?” Zo said. “For insulation perhaps?”
“No, Mother. Look closer, read it.”
She glanced at some papers and her eyes stopped and zeroed in. “They are all the same article. The front page news.”
“Yes, of the same old newspaper you had in that trunk…”
“About the fire…,” Zo finished. “Do you suppose it means something?”
“Of course, Mother. No normal human being would have such an excess of the same issue of the paper, unless they worked for the paper, and decided to recycle the overruns.”
“Ah… I see…”
“This person was obsessed with the fire of 1927.”
“A pyro,” Zo noted.

About the Authors

Claire has a Masters in Journalism, was Editor for Eye Witness Magazine and can't make Irish Rum Cookies to save her life.

Zoey has dabbled in modeling, is a licensed real-estate agent, seeks for treasures (great and small), and is often underestimated.

Together, Zoey and Claire are a mother-daughter mystery solving duo. During their downtime, they dream of island men whisking them away.

(Zoey and *Claire are also fictional, and their authors are a real life mother and daughter who use their names as pseudonyms. Don't tell them that, though.)

*Award-winning author, Molly Snow, writes under Claire Kane. To see her paranormal romantic comedies, visit

Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 11/11/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review/Giveaway/Excerpt: Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney

Murder by Syllabub

by Kathleen Delaney

on Tour September - October, 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery Published by: Camel Press Publication Date: July 1, 2013 Number of Pages: 298 ISBN: 978-1-60381-957-2 Purchase Links:


A ghost in Colonial dress has been wreaking havoc at an old plantation house in Virginia. The house is owned by Elizabeth Smithwood, the best friend of Ellen McKenzie’s Aunt Mary. Mary is determined to fly to the rescue, and Ellen has no choice but to leave her real estate business and new husband to accompany her. Who else will keep the old girl out of trouble? When Ellen and Aunt Mary arrive, they find that Elizabeth’s “house” comprises three sprawling buildings containing all manner of secret entrances and passages, not to mention slave cabins. But who owns what and who owned whom? After Monty—the so-called ghost and stepson of Elizabeth’s dead husband—turns up dead in Elizabeth’s house, suspicion falls on her. Especially when the cause of death is a poisoned glass of syllabub taken from a batch of the sweet, creamy after-dinner drink sitting in Elizabeth’s refrigerator. Monty had enemies to spare. Why was he roaming the old house? What was he searching for? To find the truth, Ellen and her Aunt Mary will have to do much more than rummage through stacks of old crates; they will have to expose two hundred years of grudges and vendettas. The spirits they disturb are far deadlier than the one who brought them to Virginia. Murder by Syllabub is the fifth book of the Ellen McKenzie Mystery series.

Author Bio:

Kathleen Delaney has written four previous Ellen McKenzie Real Estate mysteries, but has never before transported her characters out of California. A number of years ago she visited Colonial Williamsburg and fell in love. Long fascinated with our country’s history, especially the formation years, she knew she wanted to set a story there. Another trip with her brother and sister-in-law solidified the idea that had been rolling around in her head but she needed more information. A phone call to the nice people at Colonial Williamsburg provided her with appointments to visit the kitchen at the Payton Randolph house, where she got her first lesson in hearth cooking and a meeting with the people who manage the almost extinct animal breeds the foundation is working to preserve. A number of books purchased at the wonderful bookstore at the visitor’s center gave her the additional information she needed and the story that was to become Murder by Syllabub came into being. Kathleen lived most of her life in California but now resides in Georgia. She is close to many historical sites, which she has eagerly visited, not only as research for this book but because the east is rich in monuments to the history of our country. Luckily, her grandchildren are more than willing to accompany her on their tours of exploration. You can find Kathleen on the Web at

Catch Up With the Author:


Review: This book contains everything I look for in a mystery: an old southern plantation, history, ghosts, and murder by poisoned dessert drink! I learned so much about life during Colonial times, from their culture to their food, and was taken on a tour of Colonial Williamsburg via the pages of a book, a place I have always been fascinated with. It's a complex page-turner of a mystery with twists and turns, plenty of suspects, and a group of interesting women I would love to sip (un-poisoned) syllabub with. Highly recommended for lovers of mystery laced with local historical flair.

I received a review copy of this book from Partners in Crime Tours.


Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win an ebook copy of Murder by Syllabub.


Mildred leaned back against the drain board, as if she needed it to prop her up. “Do you think he’ll be back?”

I set the dish on the drain board along with the other rinsed dishes. “You mean the murderer?”

Mildred nodded.

I’d wondered the same thing. “I think it was Monty prowling around upstairs, looking for something. Why he was dressed like that, I can’t imagine, but I don’t think he found whatever it was he was looking for. The only reason I can think of for both Monty and whoever slipped him the poison to be here is they were looking for the same thing. I don’t think they found it. So, yes, I think whoever it is will be back.”

Mildred nodded. “I think so, too. That crate was no accident.” She paused before going on, her voice filled with apprehension. “You know, McMann isn’t going to buy the mysterious prowler story. He’s going to take the easy way out. Elizabeth fed Monty the poison before she left for the airport and we’re protecting her.” She sighed deeply and turned to the dishwasher. “Might as well load this. Can you hand me that bowl?”

She opened the door, pulled out the top rack and froze. “How did that get in here?”

“What’s the matter? Oh no.”

We stood, frozen, staring at the immaculately clean crystal glass, sitting on the top rack in solitary splendor.

“That’s one of the old syllabub glasses.” Mildred turned around to look at the glasses on the hutch and returned her gaze to the dishwasher. She pulled the rack out all the way but the dishwasher was empty, except for the one glass.

I’d had a close enough look at the glass next to Monty to know this was from the same set. “It’s the missing syllabub glass.”

“Missing?” Mildred’s hand went out to touch it, but she quickly withdrew. “Where are the others? Cora Lee and I packed these away years ago. There were eight of them. How did this one get in here?”

“Noah didn’t tell you?”

“That boy only tells me what he wants me to know. What was it he should have told me?”

“The set of these glasses were on the sideboard in the dining room where Monty was killed. Six of them. One was beside Monty with the remains of a sticky drink in it. That made seven. One was missing. The one the murderer used.”

We stared at each other then back into the dishwasher. “That’s got to be the missing one, right there.” Mildred took a better look. “It’s clean. Someone’s trying to frame Elizabeth.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spotlight: Winter of Wishes by Charlotte Hubbard

Snow is falling, cookies are baking, and Christmas is just around the corner in Willow Ridge, Missouri, where a new season marks fresh beginnings for the residents of this tranquil Amish town . . .

As another year draws to a close in Willow Ridge, life seems to be changing for everyone but Rhoda Lantz. Her widowed mother is about to remarry, her twin sister is a busy newlywed, and soon Rhoda will be alone in her cozy apartment above the blacksmith’s shop. An ad posted by an Englischer looking for someone to help with his mother and children may offer just the companionship she’s looking for, but if she falls for the caring single father, she may risk being shunned by her community. Certain she can only wish for things she cannot have, Rhoda must remember that all things are possible with God, and nothing is stronger than the power of love.

Purchase at:
barnes and nobleamazon



I’ve called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don’t realize that several Old Older Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations—and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.

Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people—to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I’ve been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.

Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts—I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I’m not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.

I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making new friends.

You can visit her website at

Remember Me Thursday

Hey everybody, Truffles here. I've been thinking about what a lucky little girl I am. I was rescued from the streets and brought to the shelter in July and I found my forever home in August. I have yummy food and treats, warm blankies, and a Mommy who loves me to pieces. I know that millions of kitties just like me aren't so lucky; they live without food, warmth, and love, and then either die on the streets or in a shelter because no one ever shows up to adopt them.

Did you know:
Only 30% of pets in US households come from rescue facilities.
(Source: The Humane Society of the United States 2013)

Each year, over 3.4 million orphan shelter pets lose their lives without finding their forever home.
(Source: The Humane Society of the United States 2013)

That's why animal-lovers and animal welfare organizations across the globe will unite on Thursday, September 26, 2013 (the fourth Thursday of September, annually) with a Remember Me Thursday pet candle-lighting ceremony. The candles, which will be lit on the exact same day across the world, will honor the millions of pets who lost their lives without the benefit of a loving home and shine a light on the millions of healthy pets who are still awaiting adoption. The Remember Me Thursday global awareness campaign encourages individuals to light a candle this day (literally or virtually) and to opt to adopt, reducing the millions of orphan pets euthanized each year.

Orphaned pets can't speak for themselves. We are their only voice. Spread the word about Remember Me Thursday on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. Don’t forget to use #LIGHTFORPETS to share your thoughts and feelings about the importance of pet adoption.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why I Added a Cat to Jane Eyre’s Life, by Joanna Campbell Slan (w/Giveaway)

Why I Added a Cat to Jane Eyre’s Life 
Written exclusively for Mochas, Mysteries and More 
 By Joanna Campbell Slan 
Author of Death of a Schoolgirl 

I know somebody to whose knee the black cat loves to climb, against whose shoulder and cheek it likes to purr. -- Charlotte Brontë

That “somebody” was Brontë herself. According to her biographer Elizabeth Gaskill, “The helplessness of an animal was its passport to Charlotte's heart.” Indeed, the author hated to get up from her chair and disturb the family’s black cat as it rested in her lap. And when she did rise, she would gently reposition the pet elsewhere.

“Charlotte was more than commonly tender in her treatment of all dumb creatures, and they, with that fine instinct so often noticed, were invariably attracted towards her,” wrote Gaskill.

According to Christine Alexander and Jane Sellars in their book The Art of the Brontës, “The Brontës were seldom without a cat…” First there was Tiger, whose striped marking lent him his name, and later came a black tabby named Tom. “Keeper, Flossy and Tiger” is one of the best-known Brontë animal portraits, painted by Charlotte’s sister Emily, and much treasured by the family. Of all the Brontë siblings, Emily seemed to best understand the true nature of cats. She wrote, “They know how to value our favours at their true price, because they guess the motives that prompt us to grant them.”

So why didn’t Charlotte give Jane a cat? At the start of the book, perhaps it is Charlotte’s way of showing us the emptiness of Jane’s life. We know the author must have thought about cats, and their contribution to blissful domesticity, because when we meet Jane’s cousins Diana and Mary, the latter has a cat on her lap.

Whatever the reason for the omission, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve corrected the problem. My book Death of a Schoolgirl begins where Jane Eyre leaves off. So I’ve taken the liberty of introducing a wonderful feline character named Mephisto, a cat described as not having “a spot of white anywhere.” Eventually, Mephisto goes home to live with Jane, who dotes on him.

I think Charlotte Brontë would approve.


Book Details:
Death of a Schoolgirl
(The Jane Eyre Chronicles)

First in Series
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (August 7, 2012)
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense

In her classic tale, Charlotte Brontë introduced readers to the strong-willed and intelligent Jane Eyre. Picking up where Brontë left off, Jane’s life has settled into a comfortable pattern: She and her beloved Edward Rochester are married and have an infant son. But Jane soon finds herself in the midst of new challenges and threats to those she loves…

Jane can’t help but fret when a letter arrives from Adèle Varens—Rochester’s ward, currently at boarding school—warning that the girl’s life is in jeopardy. Although it means leaving her young son and invalid husband, and despite never having been to a city of any size, Jane feels strongly compelled to go to London to ensure Adèle’s safety.

But almost from the beginning, Jane’s travels don’t go as planned—she is knocked about and robbed, and no one believes that the plain, unassuming Jane could indeed be the wife of a gentleman; even the school superintendent takes her for an errant new teacher. But most shocking to Jane is the discovery that Adèle’s schoolmate has recently passed away under very suspicious circumstances, yet no one appears overly concerned. Taking advantage of the situation, Jane decides to pose as the missing instructor—and soon uncovers several unsavory secrets, which may very well make her the killer’s next target…

About The Author
Award-winning and National Bestselling authorJoanna Campbell Slan is the creator of the Kiki Lowenstein Mysteries (an Agatha Award Finalist) and The Jane Eyre Chronicles (Winner of the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award). This fall will see the debut of the Cara Mia Delgatto books, a new mystery series set on the Treasure Coast of Florida, featuring a young woman who runs a recycling/repurposing shop. In her past life, Joanna was a television talk show host, an adjunct professor of public relations, a sought-after motivational speaker, and a corporate speechwriter. She is the mother of Michael Slan, a professional poker player, and she is married to David Slan, CEO of Steinway Piano Gallery-DC. The Slans and their two dogs make their home on Jupiter Island, Florida. Visit Joanna’s website at






Purchase Links

AMAZON B&N Book World Book Depository Powell’s Books

Be sure to leave a comment with your email address, in addition to the tour-wide giveaway below, I have one paperback copy of Death of a Schoolgirl to give away! (US only, ending 9/30)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 23, 2013

Interview/Giveaway with Holly Menino, Author of Murder, She Rode

Welcome, Holly...can you tell us what your inspiration was for Murder, She Rode?
Tink's story was inspired by the fabulous Olympic sport of eventing and by an earlier generation of woman riders who rode with the risks and devoted their lives to developing the sport.

Is the book a stand-alone or is a series planned? 
MURDER, SHE RODE is the first book in a series that will feature Tink Elledge and a variety of different horse sports, different kinds of horses, and different locations. Each of these mysteries will hinge on a technological or scientific puzzle. Usually Tink's third husband Charlie will be part of the action, but sometimes she will have to go it alone.

Is the character of Tink based at all on yourself?
Because Tink is such a good rider, I wish she were autobiographical. But if I have to be truthful, she is an amalgam of a number of terrific women in the horse world.

What has been your life history with horses?
When I was three, a girl rode up to our house on a horse. She was my babysitter of the moment, and my mother led me out to say hello. I don't remember very much about the girl, but my memory of the chestnut mare Flicka is crystalline. I demanded to be put on the horse, but the girl said no, the horse was much too frisky that day. That rejection sealed my fate. I wanted that horse. I would settle for a horse. But I wanted a horse. Nothing much has changed.

Can you take us inside what goes on during equine three-day eventing?
Eventing is a triathlon for horses and their riders, and it is every bit as demanding as the tri-s for humans. The horses compete one by one in dressage, cross-country, and show jumping, and these three phases demand horse-rider harmony, speed, and precision. In order to win, the horse and rider have to be good, very good, in all three phases. Sometimes perfection is almost enough. 

It's very exciting to be a spectator at an event. Nonstop motion and activity. It's a three-ring circus. Often there are more than one phase in action at the same time—and unlike being a spectator at a horse race, you can get very close to the horses while they're in action. 

What do you have for pets?
Well. . .a horse, of course. A Portuguese Water Dog, and a big, blond three-legged mutt. All of whom are the very finest examples of their kind!

Would you like to tell us about the previous books you've written?
I've published one earlier work of fiction, a novel for children called PANDORA, a nonfiction work that follows three horse trainers in the Olympic disciplines, and two works in natural history, DARWIN'S FOX AND MY COYOTE and CALLS BEYOND OUR HEARING: UNLOCKING THE SECRETS OF ANIMAL VOICES. There are lots more details about these books on my website (

What are you working on now?
I'm just finishing up the second Tink Elledge mystery, KILL DARWIN. In this story Tink, who was sidelined by an injury in Tink's debut story, is back on the horse for a hundred-miles-in-one-day horse race. What's in play at the same time is a struggle for control of a biotech firm, the intelligent design hypothesis, a corporate merger going sour, a death apparently by natural causes, and a death that is clearly unnatural.


Giveaway: I have an extra copy of Murder, She Rode to give away. Please leave a comment with your email address, US entries only, ending 9/28.

About the Book: A sharply observed and engaging debut introducing Tink Elledge, a compelling new amateur sleuth who takes readers behind the scenes into the rituals and intrigue of a three-day equestrian competition

A former world-class rider and an adept horse trainer, Tink Elledge is a woman with a mission: to see her prized horse take home the victory at the prestigious Brandywine Three-Day Event. Tink is whip-smart, headstrong, and used to making her own way—so when an accident forces her onto the sidelines and causes her to forfeit the ride on what may be her last horse to a protégé, she struggles with the realization that her peak days as a horsewoman may be behind her. Then, before the event can begin, a truck accident kills a respected horseman and a talented colt. And when a young rider disappears, what began as a seemingly freak accident reveals sinister roots that lead directly to the tightly knit equestrian community and that Tink, in her newfound and uneasy role as a spectator, can’t help trying to uncover. During the three-day event, horses will perform with inspiring grace. Their riders will navigate treacherous obstacles. And Tink will unravel a plot that threatens the reputations—and lives—of the very men and women she hopes to defeat on the course.

About the Author: Holly Menino has spent a lifetime living with and writing about horses. She is the acclaimed author of three nonfiction books who has been praised by The Washington Post for her "literate and lively style." But it is Murder, She Rode that showcases Holly’s immense talent as a storyteller and introduces an irresistible new voice in an engaging read.