If Only: The Challenge Writing

If Only: The Challenge Writing 

A guest post by Elena Hartwell


People often talk about how hard it is to be a writer. And it’s true, the challenge of finishing a novel, with no way to know if it will ever be published. The publishing process itself, with endless rejections and the excruciating time period between the “yes” from the publisher and the book on the shelf. Then comes a new round of trials, the reviews, the sales, the stars on Amazon.

These are all difficult experiences to get through, but they may not be the hardest part about being a writer. In a lot of ways, the hardest part about being a writer is that no matter how much success you achieve, it’s never enough.

A writer friend and I were recently having a discussion about what success looks like. A bigger publisher? Higher sales? Awards? Bestseller lists? We didn’t come up with a very good answer. We both agreed being able to write the books we want to write and having them published and available to the public was a wonderful accomplishment . . . and yet . . .

One of the intriguing things I have discovered talking to writers over the years is that no matter what they have achieved, they often say, “if only …” If only I had a better agent, a better contract, more translations, higher sales, if only I’d won the award instead of just the nomination.

Even award winning authors on bestseller lists, whose high figure contracts are with big five publishers have the “if only …” complex. If only I had sold another million copies . . .

The hardest thing about being a writer may be that every day we sit down in front of our computers and work on something new and wonder . . . if only. If only I can finish this, if only I can sell this, if only . . .

When your first book launches, everyone asks, when is the next one out?

When your series is out, everyone asks, when will they make it into a movie.

When you get the award nomination, everyone wants to know if you won.

When you win the award, everyone wants to know . . . if only.

My advice for all of us, myself included, is to savor the moment. Enjoy the success you have. You earned it. Love what you’re writing. Don’t lose sight of why you sat down in the first place to explore Once Upon a Time. Stay true to yourself no matter how many “if onlys” you still have on your list.

Write like there’s no one waiting on it but you . . . if only.

Author Bio

Elena Hartwell is the author of the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series.

The third book, Three Strikes, You’re Dead, launched April 1, 2018. Eddie Shoes and her sidekick, and mother, Chava, head to beautiful Leavenworth, Washington, for a much needed vacation. But a dying man, a missing woman, and a forest fire soon get in the way.

For more information about Elena and where to find her books, visit http://www.elenahartwell.com





Trouble in Tampa

1885 Florida: wild pigs, wild people, and Trouble in Tampa!

Guest post by Louise Titchener


For several years now I’ve been going on thrilling adventures with a Civil War Veteran! It’s been an exciting journey with Oliver Redcastle. We’ve shared breathtaking exploits in Baltimore, Lake Erie, and now the wilds of Florida.






Trouble in Tampa, the 4th in my Oliver Redcastle historical mystery series, just won a Royal Palm Award from the Florida Writers Association. Oliver is an ex-Union Army sharpshooter and ex-Pinkerton investigator. In Trouble in Tampa he goes to Florida in 1885 on what he thinks will be an easy missing person case. Wrong!

Florida in 1885 was a fascinating place and just as wild as the fabled “Wild West. Self-styled bands of “Regulators” roamed the countryside. People they considered “troublemakers” could disappear, never to be heard from again. Oliver Redcastle is definitely a troublemaker.

On the other hand, 1885 was the year Henry Plant brought his railroad to Tampa and changed the town from a sleepy fishing village to a major metropolis. When I learned that William Walters, a 19th century Baltimore tycoon, invested in Plant’s railroad, I knew there was a Florida story brewing for my Baltimore detective. I decided he would meet a former colleague in Tampa, Hannah Kinchman, a daring detective in her own right, working for Pinkerton. She and Oliver would clash, but they’d also back each other up.

Figuring out the rest of the plot meant more research into Florida history I learned that Oliver would meet people in the Florida wilderness with unusual stories. My beleaguered protagonist, Oliver, would also find himself captive in a Turpentine Camp, doing hard labor and surrounded by mortal enemies and ferocious mosquitoes.

I had a great time writing this novel. I learned about my new home, and did it while having a wild ride through a bygone era in what was, and is, a remarkable state. Check out my book at Amazon for a wild reading ride of your own.

About the Author

Louise Titchener is the author of over forty published novels in a variety of genres. She has two mystery series available on Amazon and Smashwords. Her Toni Credella series is set in Baltimore and features a dyslexic female sleuth.

Her website url is: http://www.histrymysteries.com. Her twitter handle is @histrymysteries. Her facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/histrymysteries/


Black Friday Sale

Welcome! I wanted to tell you about a HUGE sale that’s going on this weekend. There are over 150 books available and they’re all either $.99 or FREE! There’s also a long list of paperbacks for sale at incredibly discounted prices as well. Be sure to go check out this sale here .

There is also an amazing giveaway going on! Grand Prize winner receives 20 paperbacks and the 2nd place winner gets 20 e-book titles from the sale for free.

You can sign up for the giveaway here.

Giveaway runs from  Thursday, November 22nd ‘til Monday, November 26th @12AM ET

Grand prize open to US winners only. 2nd place prize is open Internationally.

2nd Place Winner Receives 20 E-books:

  • The Case of the Tabloid Tattler by Perry Kirkpatrick (AudioBook)
  • The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Perry Kirkpatrick (Audiobook)
  • Coffee Shop Christmas Ebook by Ryana Lynn Miller
  • The Land of Cotton ebook by Ryana Lynn Miller
  • Entertaining Angels, Entertaining Angels Book 1 by Emerald Barnes
  • Secret’s Kept by Jennette Mbewe
  • The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue
  • Beyond Broken Pencils by Julie C. Gilbert
  • Ashlynn’s Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert
  • Soldier On by Vanessa Rasanen
  • Burning Rose by Hope Ann
  • Iced and Nailed by Avery Daniels
  • Imani Earns Her Cape by Bokerah Brumley
  • October by J. Grace Pennington
  • Disowned by Sarah Addison Fox
  • My Compass Home by Michaela Bush
  • Summer Shadows and Necessary Evil by Killarney Traynor

Grand Prize Winner Receives 20 Paperbacks

  • Mythical Doorways by Jenelle Schmidt
  • Faith is the Victory by Faith Blum
  • Kiera by Kate Willis
  • Because Anonymous Diana L. Sharples
  • After: Book One in The Neverway Chronicles by Savannah Jezowski
  • Specter: Book Two in The Neverway Chronicles by Savannah Jezowski
  • Leandra’s Enchanted Flute by Katy Huth Jones
  • Eagle Eyes by Tammy Lash
  • London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn   
  • When Beauty Blooms by Victoria Lynn
  • Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset by Sarah Ashwood
  • Iced and Nailed by Avery Daniels
  • There Was Always Laughter in Our House by Sarah Holman
  • Bridgers: A Parable (paperback) by Angie Thompson
  • Love Blind (paperback) by Angie Thompson
  • Code by Angie Thompson
  • Christmas Eve at the Backdoor by Rebekah Morris
  • The Seven Drawers by Kendra E. Ardnek
  • He’s Making Diamonds: A Teen’s Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness by Sara Willoughby

Participating Authors:

  • Kate Willis
  • Hope
  • C.B. Cook
  • Vincent Trigili
  • Malachi Cyr
  • E.J. Willis
  • Diana L. Sharples
  • Sarah Addison-Fox
  • Annie Douglass Lima
  • Marc Secchia
  • Katy Huth Jones
  • Savannah Jezowski
  • Kandi J Wyatt
  • Joan Lightning
  • Angela Watts
  • Ava Mallory
  • Sara Bourgeois
  • Jaye L. Knight
  • Sarah Ashwood
  • Killarney Traynor
  • Zanna Mackenzie
  • Valerie Howard
  • Bokerah Brumley
  • Kat Bellemore
  • Faith Blum
  • RJ Conte
  • Abigayle Claire
  • Tayla Alexandra
  • Kristen Iten
  • Emily Selby
  • Stephanie Damore
  • Erika Mathews
  • Frances Hoelsema
  • J. Grace Pennington
  • Rebekah A. Morris
  • Frankie Bow
  • Martha Fuller
  • Lena Karynn Tesla
  • Allison Tebo
  • Sarah Monzon
  • Victoria Lynn
  • Sonia Parin
  • T.I. Lowe
  • Lia London
  • Tammy Lash
  • Maria Grazia Swan
  • Deany Ray
  • Paige Sleuth
  • Jenny Berlin
  • Annie Louise Twitchell
  • Jordaina Sydney Robinson
  • Kelsey Gietl
  • Kendra E. Ardnek
  • Frances Hoelsema
  • Stacy Juba
  • Laura Guenot
  • Michaela Bush
  • Tricia Mingerink
  • Hailey Rose
  • Ryana Lynn Miller
  • Angie Thompson
  • Nadine C. Keels
  • Kellyn Roth
  • Angie Thompson
  • Vanessa Rasanen
  • Julie C. Gilbert
  • Jennette Mbewe
  • C.S. Johnson
  • Amy Williams
  • April Lynn Newell
  • Lauren Lynch
  • Lea Doue
  • Kelsey Bryant
  • Avery Daniels
  • Sarah Holman
  • R.M. Archer
  • Emerald Barnes
  • Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
  • Cathy Perkins
  • Laura Jackson
  • P.D. Workman
  • Emily Hinkle
  • Hannah Loviisa
  • Claire Banschbach
  • Rebekah Jones
  • Faith Potts
  • Sara Willoughby



Book Sale takes place here: http://perrykirkpatrick.com/sale/

Giveaway Link:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/a44877ea11/?



Putting Your Parental Heart Into A Book

By Donnell Bell

Hard to believe my debut book has been on the shelves for seven years now, and my publisher still chooses to put it on special. Not a problem for me, it’s still the book of my heart as I wrote it during an emotional time. My youngest, who’d just turned 18, was leaving for college. And I can still distinctly remember when he came into my office, plopped into a chair, and said, “Mom, what are you going to do without me?”

He learned fast what I was going to do—I broke into tears. Him being a typical eighteen-year-old gave me a quick hug and said, “Oops, sorry, Mom,” then beat it out of that room.

But as awkward as I’d made him feel, and how his leaving broke my heart, I knew good and well what I was going to do with this new empty-nest phase of my life. I’d taken up writing fiction after working for newspapers for years. I was studying commercial fiction and trying to learn the difference between fact-based, non-editorialization to understanding that writing romance and romantic suspense was all about love and emotion.

Trust me, so many emotions ran through me when I wrote WALK AWAY JOE, which after publication became THE PAST CAME HUNTING. I put my parental heart in to that book and told it from the mother’s side and the father’s side as well.

Need an example? What if you as a young woman made a mistake that sent you to prison? What if you’d spent your entire adult life trying to make up for that error and lived in horror that your teenage son might find out and think less of you?

What if you’re a cop climbing the ranks of command, a police lieutenant, who after being divorced a few years, is responsible for raising a teenage son? What if you’re the cop who during one of your first arrests, brought down a headstrong seventeen-year-old girl who you believed aided and abetted a killer in a convenience store robbery?

Would you want that seventeen-year old, now a stunningly beautiful woman living next door to you? Would you want your kid associating with her kid?

That was exactly the conflict that arose in the book – oh, and besides that a deranged killer, the man she sent to prison for fifteen long years, was intent on finding her and making her pay.

Here’s an excerpt from THE PAST CAME HUNTING when the issue of children is discussed between my protagonist in my 2007 Golden Heart-nominated and Detroit’s Booksellers Best for Best Debut and Best Single-Title Romantic Suspense:

MELANIE NORRIS’S stoic expression dissolved into one of despair. “You’d punish our children for something I did fifteen years ago? What kind of monster are you?”

Her indignation took him off guard. What did she expect? For them to ignore the past and become the best of buddies? “You don’t exactly come with sterling references, lady, and I’m not about to sacrifice my kid.”

Glancing away from him, she drew her hands into fists in her lap. For a time she didn’t speak. At last she returned his gaze. “I’d probably do the same thing if I were you.”

Hell. A quiet, logical response was the last thing he’d expected. Reconciling the proud, beautiful woman sitting next to him to the hellion of yesterday was nearly impossible. It was like watching an actress perform two roles.

Then it occurred to him. Maybe she was. He’d met all kinds in his line of work. People who could look you in the eye, tell you they didn’t pull the trigger, while holding the murder weapon in their hand. On the other hand, he could also cite numerous examples of people who against all odds had turned their lives around.

A throbbing ache resonated behind his left eye. Of one thing he was certain, Matt wasn’t going to be part of the equation while Joe made up his mind. He switched on the ignition. “I’m glad we understand each other. I’ll take you back to your car.”


Interested in learning what happened and how the storyline is resolved? Here’s your chance. THE PAST CAME HUNTING is now on sale on most digital displays, AMAZON, NOOK, KOBO and more for just .99 cents. I hope you’ll check it out, and if you do, and like it, please drop me at line.

And to Cathy Perkins. Thank you for letting me take up space on your blog.

Not only are you a great conference roommate, you’re the best!




Donnell Ann Bell is the author of four Amazon bestsellers, Buried Agendas, Betrayed, Deadly Recall, and The Past Came Hunting. She is an award-winning author working on her fifth suspense from Bell Bridge Books. Her website is www.donnellannbell.com  

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter


At Long Last Love

At Long Last Love

by Livia Quinn

Book 5 in the Calloways of Rainbow Bayou released on 10/15. When I was considering titles for the books, this one came to me right off and never changed because of what this couple has gone through to get their happy ever-after.

Some authors plot out their story line and know their characters ahead of time. That is so not me. Sometime I go to the tub for my morning writing time and I have no idea what’s going to happen in the scene. Sorry if this is TMI but as soon as my skin hits the water, I’m writing and the words don’t stop until the water is cold. The thing is, my characters follow me. I can almost close my eyes and envision them sitting on the edge of the tub, legs crossed, head back on a comfy mini lounge chair as they recount what happens.

When I was writing the first Christmas book and Beau and Maddie had their little “reunion” moment, let me tell you I was shocked. And I cried. After that, readers began requesting their story.


Madison Hart has been in love with Ducane Beauregard Larue for most of her life. But when a Hollywood movie stunt-gone-wrong sends Beau home a changed man, Madison’s heart leaps at the thought of a second chance. After her sacrifice pushes him away, will her love be strong enough for both of them?


Inside the helicopter, Beau Larue drifted in and out of consciousness, the pain bringing him back each time as he remembered the accident.

He’d pushed the lever forward and watched as the larger craft turned to the right. As planned, Beau turned his boat hard in the opposite direction supposedly in the driver’s blind spot and as choreographed the larger boat was suddenly facing Beau’s boat.

As scripted, he’d raised his gun, aimed at the pilot of the other boat and fired. The boat kept coming. That wasn’t right. The actor was supposed to veer sharply as if dodging the gunfire. With a flash of sudden clarity, Beau realized his long held opinion that he wouldn’t live to see thirty-five, was about to come true but not for the reason he’d expected.

Like a movie of his own life, scenes flashed in his head as he jerked his hand on the wheel—Grandpa Earl telling him he was proud of him during a day on the bayou behind the old farmhouse in Louisiana; his Aunt Vic (Commander Larue to everyone else) hugging him as he left home for Hollywood; the high school seniors he’d spoken to yesterday dressed as Navy Seal Ian Stone about a military career. And Maddie…his lovely Maddie.

As her face filled his vision he thought he’d successfully avoided the other craft, but then, surprised, he saw the problem. The other actor, an experienced stuntman as well, was slumped across the wheel of his boat, then the long bow slammed into the starboard hull of Beau’s and pain and the grinding of metal and fiberglass was the last thing he heard.

There were noises after a time, helicopter rotors, boat engines, people shouting, someone splashing in the water nearby. He couldn’t make out the words. He was floating or lying atop the waves, something keeping him afloat. Shut up, his mind screamed. What were they yelling about? Didn’t they know he was ready to go? He’d known this was going to happen all his life. Just let me rest. A strong arm grabbed him from behind and pain exploded in his leg. He screamed.

A steady voice in his ear said, “Easy, I’ve got you. We’ll have you taken care of shortly, sir.” Beau opened his eyes to see a young man’s face in an orange helmet and wet suit looking down at him. His fuzzy thoughts couldn’t connect the man’s presence with what was happening around him. He smelled smoke and something coppery and nearly gagged on the strong gas fumes that permeated the air.

A shout reached his ears, “We found the other man! He’s alive, for now.”

Someone else had called, “Keep an eye out—”

Beau couldn’t make sense of any of it. It was just too damn hard to stay awake and he was so cold. “C-ccold,” he whispered but no one came.

As he closed his eyes he heard gears grinding smoothly overhead and felt a swaying movement as several hands landed on him. Someone cursed and another booming voice made him want to put his hands over his ears, “Keep searching for that boot!” Beau winced.

Another voice. “Jesus, this is bad.”

Well, hell, he’d been right.

Buy link for all stores:


The first book in this series, When the Right One Comes Along is $0.99 https://books2read.com/whentheright1

Author Bio

Livia Quinn is a DC native living on the bayou in Louisiana. Her characters and settings have been inspired by the lush beauty and interesting culture of the area. She’s written fifteen books based around her fictional Storm Lake, the Destiny Paramortals (paranormal) and the Calloways of Rainbow Bayou, a small town contemporary romance series.

Connect with her in your favorite way:

Website: http://liviaquinn.com

Blog https: liviaquinnwrites.blogspot.com

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

Twitter    http://twitter.com/liviaquinn

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/livia-quinn

Livia Quinn Readers Group http://bit.ly/2gBFQ12

Newsletter http://bit.ly/2J35skU  




Ode to a Library

When did you last check out your local library?

Libraries have been around for a long, long time. The earliest libraries date back to 2600 BC. Yes, that’s before we started counting time forward a couple of thousand years ago in the Western World. While we’ve ditched hundreds of ideas and customs as passé, in the digital age libraries are still in style. More than in style, they’ve adapted to the rise of ebooks and audiobooks. In fact, there are several great ways you can access my books from your local public library without leaving the comfort of your favorite reading chair. How great is that?!

My books are available to libraries via Overdrive, a leading digital distribution platform. Overdrive supplies the industry’s largest catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video and periodicals to 38,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide. (Here’s the OverDrive link for So About the Mone)

Other upcoming services include Bibliotheca, an up-and-coming library-oriented option for acquiring digital content. Your library can request an author’s book through this program as an alternative—or in addition to—OverDrive.

These digital access programs mean anyone with a library card can remotely check out an ebook or audiobook if your library owns a copy of the book. After a reader borrows a particular title (say, my Holly Price novel So About the Money), it automatically goes to their reading device through OverDrive. Since “my” libraries are forty-five minutes and two hours away by Interstate, browsing through my phone is a lot easier than driving to the physical building! Instead, the requested book shows up on my e-reader in moments.

If you’re new to OverDrive you can sign up HERE. Signing up is a quick process and allows you to customize your experience by choosing your preferred genres. You can even opt-in to receive book recommendations. You need a library card to access books using OverDrive. I have two library cards (yes, more is better 😉 ) and both libraries appear in my OverDrive account.

Now that I’ve piqued your interest, here are several ways that you can take advantage of this terrific library resource.

OverDrive recommends the Libby app for public library users. I admit, I eyed the app skeptically at first. Why mess with what’s working beautifully for me? Libby is a free app that streamlines the virtual borrowing process and lets you get those books from the library straight to your device. Best of all, Libby is compatible with Android, iOS, or Windows 10, and is one of the easiest ways to access library books on your devices.

The original OverDrive app may be a better option for you if your library isn’t public, if you are using an older device, or you want to read on your computer (Windows or Mac). This app also has some great features to personalize your reading experience, such as adjustable font size (which I love for reading in bed at night without reading glasses), highlighting favorite passages, and a bookmark function.

Sounds pretty neat, doesn’t it?

Now before you start borrowing my entire Holly Price Mystery Series, here are a few things about how requesting ebooks from the library system works:

  1. The authors’ and publishers’ responsibility is to make books available to the libraries. We have no control over whether your library will stock my books, unfortunately. Wish we did!
  2. If your local library doesn’t stock my books, sometimes simply asking your librarian to get them for you will be enough. Librarians are resourceful people! Once requested, the library can request a book for purchase or loan through Overdrive or Bibliotheca.
  3. You need a library card to use your library, whether you are reading ebooks or listening to audiobooks on your devices, or physically checking out “tree books” from the library. Ask your local library about their card policies. (For example, one of my library cards is free. I pay an annual fee to use a larger regional library since I live outside their city limits.)
  4. While OverDrive is available at most public libraries, there are still some libraries that are not connected to the program. You can check to see if OverDrive is available at your library HERE.

Wrapping up

Libraries are a great way to keep on top of your TBR pile without breaking the bank. At my libraries, I hunt for new to me authors or download favorite authors when the publisher prices the ebook at $14.99 (yikes!)

Digital loans are eco-friendly. No trees harmed in their production. 😉

And an additional benefit? No late fees! (Yay!) Not through reading/listening to the book at the end of the loan period? Simply request it again.

So grab your library card and find out how easy it is to enjoy a slew of library books (including all of mine!) from the comfort of your sofa.


Protips from the Pros

One of the joys of attending conferences is meeting people. At the Killer Nashville conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Carmen Amato, a wonderful person who has a deliciously mysterious past which she incorporates into her Detective Emilia Cruz police series.

In addition to her award winning novels, Carmen writes the Mystery Ahead newsletter – but I’ll let her share the details: 

Mystery Ahead 

Every other week, readers of the Mystery Ahead newsletter get my booknews, plus a feature author interview or book review, and a behind-the-scenes mystery writing protip.

As the newsletter readership has grown, so has the popularity of the protip section. Basically, these tips are clues to writing a tight and complex mystery. They are a glimpse behind the curtain for readers who love whodunits, as well as useful advice for writers who love their readers!

Here are some Mystery Ahead favorites from authors whose books pack a punch:

Aaaaaand action!

J.J. Hensley, thriller author of RESOLVE and RECORD SCRATCH, recently wrote that “Each time I write an action scene, I try to recall some incident in my real life in which not only physical action was taking place, but when I felt a spike of adrenaline, detected a certain scent, or felt a specific sensation on my skin. It’s the vivid nature of those incidents even—especially—the unpleasant ones, we are trying to pass on to the reader . . . Are you writing a car chase scene? I bet at some point in your life you’ve smelled rubber burning and can describe it to the reader.”

Structure matters

Margaret Mizushima, author of the Timber Ridge K-9 series gave two tips: “First, I would encourage writers to seek continuing education through craft-based workshops and conferences. Second, I like to keep the action moving in my manuscripts by plotting out scenes prior to writing and intermingling action with quieter scenes. I also like to plan an explosive twist for somewhere close to the middle of the book.”

Do the work

Jim Nesbitt, author of the Ed Earl Burch series, advocates good research:  “What I can tell you is something I learned a long time ago as a cub reporter — facts are your friends and the more facts you have, the firmer the foundation you can build for your writing and the surer and more authoritative and authentic your story will be . . . If you get those details wrong, you run the risk of undermining your story because believe me, somebody will catch it or Google it and call you out.”

Be relentless

Nicolás Obregón, author of BLUE LIGHT YOKOHAMA and SINS AS SCARLET, said “You have to be relentless, even on days when you don’t feel like it. I was juggling university and full-time work when I wrote Blue Light so that meant writing on the bus into work, on my lunch break, never being more than a metre away from my notebook . . . As for a pro tip, an old teacher once told me, it doesn’t matter too much what it is, or even what it’s about, it just has to make me care. It’s the best bit of advice I’ve had.”

Beta readers do it better

Tim Tigner, author of the best-selling Kyle Achilles series, advocates early readers: “My best protip is to use lots of beta/proof readers. An army of eyes catches more than a couple of pros. Not just typos and inconsistencies, but “professional” errors. Docs catch medical stuff, lawyers legal, etc. Ask for volunteers from your fans (mailing list), so that you know they like your style and their tastes match your target audience.”

And finally . . . The devil’s in the details

A recent Writer’s Digest article pointed out that details are a writer’s best friend. “As a writer, you should be considering things like the books on a character’s book case, the paintings on his walls, the colors of his walls, the kind of car he drives, the kinds of clothes he wears, his tastes in food, in music, in movies, in lovers, in wines…” BUT the details must be consistent. If your character loves red wine, don’t make white the favorite in a later chapter. If the details matter to the plot, mention it 2-3 times over the course of the book and let events hinge on it.

Carmen Amato writes mystery and suspense, including the Detective Emilia Cruz police series set in Acapulco and optioned for television. Emilia Cruz is the first female detective on the Acapulco police force, confronting Mexico’s drug cartels and legendary government corruption. Originally from New York, Carmen was educated there as well as in Virginia and Paris, France, while her experiences in Mexico and Central America inspire many of her books.

Visit her website at http://carmenamato.net/mystery-ahead/ to subscribe to the Mystery Ahead newsletter and get a free copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.


Death and Damages: A Limited Edition Mystery and Thriller Boxed Set

Occasionally, it’s fun to bring a special offering to y’all. The DEATH AND DAMAGES Mystery and Thriller Boxed Set is only available for a short time!


Danger lurks around every corner as these courageous cops, adventurous agents, and daring detectives hunt for the answers to stop the crimes by vicious killers.

But what if the damage is already done?

In this collection, readers will find 24 brand new adventures full of captivating conundrums, hair-raising homicides, and suspenseful secrets from today’s USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning authors.

Become a private investigator yourself when you inspect plots of deadly assassins, cold-blooded killers, and bone-chilling suspense inside the pages of DEATH AND DAMAGES, an enthralling mystery and thriller boxed set.

Available from these retailers:

Amazon     Apple     Nook     Kobo   



Mystery and Thriller Boxed Set

Death’s Shadow by Dariel Raye & Muffy Wilson
How far would you go to bring your twin’s killer to justice   

Lucky Shores The Long Road Home by Kerry J Donovan
When newly-qualified doctor, Chet Walker, rescues two children from their abusive father, he puts at risk everything he holds dear.

Suicide Blonde by Karen M. Bryson
She’s not a police detective, but she played one on television, and now she must solve her sister’s murder.

Double Blind by Dan Alatorre
Two detectives hunt a serial killer, but the killer’s hunting them.

A Vision A Day Keeps the Killer Away by Kelly Hashway
For psychic P.I. Piper Ashwell, seeing isn’t always believing–and she’s running out of time to piece together the clues before this kidnapping turns into a murder.

Facing the Past by Alexa Padgett
A childhood tragedy. An unsolved murder. In the quest to rewrite her family’s past, Danielle Patterson could lose her future.

Drawing Thin by Patricia Loofbourrow
In a city controlled by the Mob, when the choice is to play by the rules or save a child’s life, even a good cop can be pushed too far.

Dismal by Tiana Laveen
The prey becomes the predator when Dr. River Michelet serves a bit of street justice. Welcome to South Bend, Indiana, where the people are nice, the accents are Midwestern, and the killers are the ‘boy next door.’ 

Never Again by Angela Sanders
She fought to leave her past behind her, but for Charlotte, there is no escape. 

Double Illusion by Deborah Shlian
A reporter and the nurse he loves put each piece of a deadly puzzle into place while a terrifying secret waits in the shadows…

Vengeance by John Ling
She will stop at nothing to find her father’s killer…

Burning Secrets by Jane Blythe
They each had secrets; one of those secrets got them all killed

Grayout by Bill Hargenrader
Sometimes imaginary enemies are the most deadly. 

The Scarlet Stiletto by Maggie Carpenter
Manhattan: 1938. A blonde bombshell walks into the office of a private detective. In her hand, a bloody stiletto. Did the mob kill her gangster husband, or did she?

Veiled Conspiracy by JaNese Dixon
He’s provoking her killer, one word at a time.

Missing You by Shereen Vedam
A wild hunt is on to find a missing cat and retrieve an ancient stolen jewel.

Beach Traffic by Judith Lucci
A college reunion on the Outer Banks of North Carolina turns deadly when a woman is found murdered and five others are reported missing. 

Sharpe Note: Sour Grapes of Wrath by Lisa B. Thomas
You’re never too old for a midlife crisis.

Mine by Fiona Quinn
A sleepy town in southwest Virginia wakes up to a nightmare of untimely deaths. 

Gone by P. Creeden
With a new job in a small town, Ella thought she could get away from big crime. She was wrong.

The Last File by Siera London.
A killer’s last move. A detective’s last chance.

The Missing by Terry Keys
Someone is out there waiting… watching…

Qualified Immunity by Aime Austin
One thread pulled, everything unravels.

Love Thy Sister by Maria Grazia Swan
Mina Calvi’s idyllic life in a California mansion came with a price. And now the grim reaper is here to collect.  


In Praise of Book Clubs

In Praise of Book Clubs

By Judy Penz Sheluk

One of the things I most enjoy about being an author is meeting readers (especially readers who like my books!). Since the 2015 publication of my debut novel The Hanged Man’s Noose, I’ve had the good fortune to be a guest author at a few local book clubs. Basically, the club selects my book, and on the day of their meeting, I show up and answer questions. There’s no charge (although I do love cookies)—I’m just happy that the group has read my book and might spread the word and/or review on Goodreads.

It helps that my local library owns two book club “sets” — one set of The Hanged Man’s Noose, generously donated by a group in memory of their late founder, and the other, Skeletons in the Attic, donated by me because I love libraries and book clubs in equal measure.

I’d like to tell you that every book club meeting generated positive reviews from every member, and in most cases, that was the case (or at least the members were too polite to tell me they didn’t like my book). This past winter, however, while visiting a local Senior’s residence, it was clear that “amateur sleuth mysteries” did not meet up to the standards of previous Pulitzer Prize winning literature they’d been reading. One woman went on to tell me that there were “too many dead bodies,” and “too many characters” before sniffing loudly and bringing the conversation around to an NHL hockey player, long dead (of natural causes, I assume, though I’m not entirely certain).

But for every dead hockey player, there have been many more wonderful experiences. Recently, a book club held a “Hanged Man’s Noose Pub Night” in celebration of reading The Hanged Man’s Noose, complete with Treasontinis, Full Noose Nachos, and shortbread. (Find Recipes Here).

For my most recent release, Past & Present, I’ve decided to try and expand my horizons. If your book club is interested in reading it, or any of my other titles, I’ll find a way to connect with your group online. If you’re interested, you can email me at judy at judypenzsheluk dot com and we can sort out the details. At the very least, I can mail your book club some free bookmarks. What have you got to lose?

In the meantime, here’s some Shameless Self Promotion for Past & Present.

A blurb about the book:

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

It’s available for Amazon Kindle (including Kindle Unlimited) and in trade paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chapters.Indigo.

About the author:

Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries: The Hanged Man’s Noose; A Hole in One and The Marketville Mysteries: Skeletons in the Attic; Past & Present. Her short crime and literary fiction appears in several collections.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors as a representative for Toronto/Southwestern Ontario.

Find out more about Judy at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com.




Mysteries and M&Ms

Note – we’re continuing the #MysteryExchange, so I’m happy to welcome Christa Nardi to the blog talking about mysteries and M&Ms. I hope you’ll jump over to Christa’s blog and check out my post there!

Mysteries and M&Ms

By Christa Nardi

When I tell someone I like mystery novels or I write mysteries, I am quickly reminded that ‘mystery’ comes in a lot of variations, just like M&Ms.

Think about it. Like plain milk chocolate M&Ms, there’s always a main character, but that varies by gender or gender identity, animal or human, child or adult, and if adult, whether the person is in law enforcement, security, a private detective, or an amateur sleuth. The next level is the crime – theft, murder, serial killer, with or without nuts. Now add in the setting – small town, a winery, the south, the country, you name it. And just like M&Ms, new settings can pop up and add another twist. Imagine all the varieties of mystery like bowls of M&Ms. What’s your favorite?

Me, in M&Ms, I’m partial to the dark chocolate – with or without the peanuts. In mystery, I especially like mysteries with strong, smart, female sleuths – amateur or detective. For a quicker and lighter read I choose humorous mysteries or a cozy. I like cozy mysteries with the small town feel and the relationships, minimum graphic violence, limited profanity, and no graphic sex. I also like police procedurals, courtroom, and legal contexts. I enjoy a good romantic suspense. Though I can’t say I’ve yet to find a variety of M&Ms I didn’t like, you won’t find zombie or erotic mysteries on my TBR list.

Given all that, it is not a stretch that I choose to write mysteries with a strong, well-educated, female protagonist, set in a small town with a few close friends, limited violence, and sex off stage. I label most of what I write as “cozy mystery.” More recently, though, a reviewer commented the first in my new series (Prestige, Privilege & Murder: A Stacie Maroni Mystery) : “… crossed the line a bit taking it to a whole new level by sub-plotting the story around domestic violence…”

Certainly, the next in the series continues to cross that line – Foundation, Funny Business & Murder is scheduled for release the end of September. Every once in a while, whether the latest variety of M&Ms or a mystery novel, taking a walk on the wild side may be just the thing.


You can find Christa Nardi:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christa.nardi.5

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ChristaN7777

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/christa-nardi

Monthly Newsletter: http://smarturl.it/NardiNewsletter

Blog: https://christanardi.blogspot.com