Prize Draw – last chance to enter! Romantic Suspense and Mystery books

Come over to NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS blog and enter the grand prize draw. ELEVEN great ebook novels to win, plus Amazon vouchers to add to the seasonal spirit of giving!

And all for the price of a comment about the books YOU love to read :D.

The draw will run through Dec 25, so please check back then *on the NYUS blog* to see if you’ve won.

These are the titles on offer for the Top Prize –  yes, the package is **ALL** of them! There are blurbs and links available on the NYUS blog post if you want to know more.


Cork vs Screw Top – Is Either Better?

It’s #WineWednesday!

The cork vs. screw top debate—what do you think?

You may have heard statements such as: Corks are old fashion, like a horse and buggy in the age of the automobile. Or: Screw tops are cheap, like an H&M sweater; they’re a fad.

Does does only the wine inside matter? Learn more at:

Are Screw Caps for Cheap Wine?


A Different Point of View

When I was young, if you’d asked me for the last place I’d expect—or want—to live, my answer would’ve been, “In a small town.” Small towns seemed to be cultural wastelands, populated by gossiping neighbors who were all related to each other. And out west? That option never entered my Southern soul.

Fast forward a few years and dangle the right job opportunity at the right time and—you got it in one—we moved to a small town in eastern Washington state. We quickly discovered most of those myths about small towns were simply…myths.

As we settled into our new hometown, I debated whether my novels should make a similar cross-country leap. My South Carolina based mysteries featured a law enforcement protagonist. To get appropriate operational procedures, along with cop attitudes and humor, I drew from a circle of friends at various levels of local, state and federal law enforcement. Curious about procedures in our new town, I participated in the Citizen’s Police Academy and discovered most of the same policies and philosophies I’d encountered back east. (I also learned more than I ever wanted to know about making meth. Nasty nasty stuff.)

Volunteering for the Sexual Assault Center as a hospital victim’s advocate provided an intimate view of law enforcement. Other than one cocky, testosterone-laden patrol officer and another older guy I wanted to strangle (except that would be assault and I really had no interest in going to jail), I found the officers professional, well educated and well trained. Nobody’s perfect, but I appreciated what these men and women did on a daily basis.

And those inevitable slow days in a small town? Well, let’s just say the day my in-law’s moving van got stuck at the entrance to the retirement village (blocking traffic on the main road—another relative term), all four patrol cars PLUS the sergeant showed up. Once they finished laughing, they helped a retired mechanic (who was in heaven being the expert, by the way) do something to a suspension part and un-stuck it. For some strange reason, the chief of police was not amused when I relayed this story at a party… So far, I’ve refrained from using this tidbit in a book.

With only five patrol officers on duty during a shift (and fewer than this in the even smaller nearby towns) reciprocal agreements were a must. Neighboring cities, counties, even Washington State Patrol was a welcome addition when suspects took to the highways to escape. I made use of this mutual support during Holly Price’s carjacking in So About the Money. In addition to the local officers, county deputies and state patrol officers joined the chase to catch the villains in that scene.

I’d better back up a second. Along with changing locations from South Carolina’s cities to a small town in eastern Washington, I switched from a multiple (hero, heroine, villain) point of view approach and a law enforcement main character, to a single, civilian character. Whew! Talk about stretching and growing as an author. Everything that happened in the story had to come through that one character’s experiences and reactions. (And no cheating with, “Well, Laurie, as you know, this thing you should already know about happened, but let me give you the complete backstory.”) Action and body language became as important as dialogue for revealing character—but that’s a different discussion.

Rather than having my new protagonist act as a private investigator or a journalist working the crime beat, I made my heroine an accountant. Curious, bright and loyal to friends and family (hmm, she’s much better at crime solving than my dog) she made a terrific character to “follow the money.” Of course, when you poke at villains, they have a tendency to poke back, harder. It was fun to write the scenes where Holly bumped up against law enforcement and filter the scene through her impressions—her point of view—rather than another cop’s.

My new law enforcement friends did insist I get the details right. Even if they produced giant eye-rolls from my heroine.


So About the Money romps through eastern Washington with its rivers, wineries, Native American casinos, and assorted farm animals. Add in some wicked fun chemistry between the CPA amateur sleuth and a local detective and Holly Price better solve the case before the next dead body found beside the river is hers.

Double Down, a story featuring characters from So About the Money, releases October 24 and is available for pre-sale at a special price. Here’s the universal link – and the Amazon direct link –




A Day in the Life of Holly Price

What’s a typical day in my life?

I’d love to tell you about a typical day back in my real life. You know, my life in Seattle with the Mergers & Acquisitions Team, where I investigated companies my clients bought or sold. Ever since I moved back to Richland, Washington—which I swear is temporary—people constantly ask me what I “used” to do in the big city. Part of me wants to shriek, “No, no, no. It’s what I do.”

In case you missed it, I really can’t believe I’m back in a town I swore I’d never live in again.

But even the shock of moving back to my hometown didn’t prepare me for this week. Then again, this week has been anything but typical. It started with, what shall I call it? A really awful date? We’ve all had one of those, right? Alex said we were going to Big Flats, a huge tract of land owned by the government that’s open to the public. Yes, I shouldn’t have assumed it was another hiking date. I thought, Okay, a picnic and a bottle of wine. Could be fun.

Oh, no. Not what happened. Alex should’ve told me it was opening day for pheasant hunting.

Fun times, right? I tried to be a good sport and pretend it was still a hike, but then… his dog started chasing around, and the next thing I knew, we’d found a body. Stumbling over a dead person would’ve been awful enough.

We found the body of a friend of ours.

Worst day ever, right?

Except it got even worse. Because after all the deputies, search and rescue people, game management and every other agency with a string of letters after their name showed up, the detective assigned to the case arrived.

You guessed it. My ex-fiancé, JC Dimitrak.

Complete disaster.

Before I tell you about the rest of the week, I should explain why I’m back in Richland. It definitely wasn’t my idea. I was perfectly happy in Seattle and like most kids, thought my parents were doing Just Fine. Then my dad had some kind of mental brain fart and ran off with his yoga instructor. Last I heard, he’s living in Arizona, playing Downward Facing Dog, while I’m working myself half to death to help my mother keep the family’s accounting practice open. So I usually have my hands full, meeting with clients and prospective clients, trying to make Desert Accounting an attractive take over target.

This week, thanks to my ex, I’m fending off crazy suspicions that Alex and I had anything to do with murder, and reassuring clients and I swear, if that local reporter doesn’t leave me alone, I’m not going to have a business left to sell. So I’ve done what any nosy CPA would do. I started asking questions.

Of course, I told JC whenever I found out anything, but did he thank me? Of course not. He’s insisting that all the…errr…accidents I’ve had this week were deliberate. Crazy, right?

But if some maniac really thinks CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass, I better figure our what’s going on and who’s behind it.



Celebrating the upcoming release of DOUBLE DOWN with a sale on the first book in the Holly Price series – SO ABOUT THE MONEY!


Originally posted at:

Grateful – With or Without (Horrors!) Wine

We’ve been talking (off and on) about gratitude this month. I poked around to some of the sites I routinely follow and have loved all the recognition this month that as individuals, as a community, (totally prefer to avoid politics here, but I’m gonna say it anyway) and as a nation, there’s a lot to celebrate. There’s so much good going on, but it’s easy to focus on the Not So Good (or the absolutely abysmal).

Tonight as I sip a glass of wine (always grateful to the people who make wine), I keep thinking about a challenge I read. The challenge is to focusing on the good things.

Okay, admit it. Do you beat yourself up over the fumbles, the thing you might could’ve done better, and bring yourself down in the process? (Yeah, I might’ve done that.) Or do you quietly (or loudly if that’s your style 😉 ) give thanks for the good things in your life?

I’m choosing to focus on the good. That we can reach out to each other within the writing community — and beyond it to our local town or whatever sphere you can touch — and make things better.

I’ll save talk about community service for another post. Tonight, rather than wallow in the Not So Good, I’m celebrating the Good Things.

This week I’m savoring that after a year and a half in a tiny apartment (which also had my day job office in the middle of the loving space), we moved into our new house! I walk through the rooms and revel in the space. I have a dining table again. A place to have friends over where they can actually sit down. Art that’s been in storage for too long is slowly finding a new place in our home.  

I’m grateful for family. My daughter asked if she and her fiancé could have their engagement pictures taken at our house. I’m so happy for the two of them, that they found each other and that they want to include us as they forge a life together.

I’m grateful for friends on so many levels. Old friends who are helping me out professionally and new friends who are easing the transition into a new home and new options for the future.

What are you savoring this week? What are you grateful for?

And because it’s So About The Money’s book birthday, I’m putting together a present for my readers, because I’m always grateful when people choose to spend their time with my characters. 

Watch my Facebook page for details or sign up for the newsletter that I swear I’m finally going to send out. 


Addendum – sent the newsletter and Mailchimp promptly banned me (le sigh) so you might need to sign up again…



Originally posted to my group blog 


Actions Speak Much, Much Louder Than Words

I picked up a new craft book (aren’t all authors addicted to improving their craft?) that has me excited about writing again. Part of my funk over the winter had been that writing seemed yet another job – with a long list of Must Do tasks – and like most of you, I had too many balls in the air already.

I wanted to buckle down and just write the damn book. I actually had people contact me and ask when the next in the Holly Price/ So About series would release—which should make me feel happy rather than pressured. Right?

Anyway, I stumbled over two books titled The 90-Day Novel.

Okay then! 90-days! Score! (Is this where I admit it takes me a year to write a novel?)

The first craft book was a disappointment. It contained a very summarized rehash of things we’ve all heard a million times. Set your turning points, make the index cards, park your butt and go.


The other one, by Alan Watt, hit the note I needed to hear. Step back and consider the possibilities, he recommended. What if…? What are you afraid of? Your heroine probably has the same fears. Can you work with that? Lots (and lots) of 5 minute writing drills occurred during the first week, but none of it needed to appear directly in the book. I was encouraged to scribble images, scenes, scene-lets, ideas, whatever. No pressure, because nobody was going to read or critique it. It was playing with words, which I hadn’t done in ages. It was diving into what I was passionate about—and how that drives my story.

And through the process, the dilemma, which is the root perception cause of the problem (which is what your protag thinks she’s trying to solve) evolves. I realized “trust” is the emotion I needed to tap into and now, everything else is falling into place. The conflicts between all my characters really come down to that one, very basic emotion. Trust is crucial for a relationship. All relationships. Relationships between friends, family, lovers.

"Let's try it once without the parachute."

Trust is what happens when actions speak much, much louder than words. You can’t make someone trust you. From Holly’s perspective, when others’ actions are undermining her trust in them, going with what she believes is the right thing to do will show others she’s trustworthy—and hopefully won’t get her killed.

I started this craft book adventure in connection with my own 100×100 challenge (a friend who’s 300 days in inspired me). The 100×100 challenge is to write at least 100 words every day for 100 days. Three weeks into in, I’ve filled half a spiral notebook. And the scenes, plot, and subplots are coming into focus.

How’s your writing going this summer?


Cathy Perkins is currently working on Book Two in the Holly Price/So About series. So About the Money was blessed by readers and booksellers with the Award of Excellence – Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements. A spin-off in that series, Malbec Mayhem features one of the secondary characters and is available now.

Originally posted to her group blog – The Stiletto Gang


Cooking with Cloris – Guest Post with a Spanish Chef

spanish-potato-tortillaFrom Tapas to seafood with fabulous stops for jamon (cured ham) and chorizo (sausage), Spain is a delightful culinary adventure. You’ve undoubtedly tasted gazpacho and paella but when chef Alex Montoya and vintner Sofia Pincelli make magic with Malbec grapes, Alex envisioned a hearty Spanish Ragout. Ragout is a wonderful cold weather dish, so for the summer, Alex recommended one of the many tapas served at his restaurant. Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Potato Tortilla) is always a favorite with his customers, working equally well for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack—along with a glass of your favorite wine. For dinner or tapas, I pair this dish with a cabernet sauvignon. Novelty Hill makes a lovely medium-bodied red with soft, fruity flavors.

Alex is a secondary character in So About the Money, the first in the Holly Price/So About…series. Alex may have been a bit volatile in that story. His fiery temper clashed with Holly’s saner approach to life. He simply needed the right woman to help him become the adult he’s capable of being. A bit of nagging from his character led me to write his story—MALBEC MAYHEM. With all the fabulous wineries located in eastern Washington, choosing a rising star vintner to challenge him seemed a natural fit. Alex and Sofia understand the importance of family—including the joys and challenges associated with running a family business. They simply have to figure out a way to make their hot-blooded nature work for them.

Tortilla Espanola

  • 1 cups vegetable oil for frying (Plain olive oil is MUCH better than canola. A great extra-virgin olive oil isn’t required)
  • 1-3/4 lb. (about 5 medium) low- to medium-starch potatoes (Yukon Gold, rather than a russet) peeled
  • 12 to 14 oz. onions (2 to 3 medium), diced
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, very coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 6 large eggs
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare potatoes and onions: Peel the potatoes and onion and slice them very thin. A mandolin works best, but you can use the slicing blade of a food processor, or slice them by hand. If the potatoes are on the large side, first cut them in a half lengthwise so the slices will be in half-moons.

Cook potatoes and onions: Heat oil in an 8- to 10-inch skillet, ideally nonstick, over medium-high until very hot, about 3 minutes. When the oil is very hot (a potato slice will sizzle vigorously around the edges without browning), gently slip the potatoes into the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon. Add potatoes and onions (and garlic if using) in even layers and reduce heat to medium-low.

Cook for 10 – 15 minutes, flipping and nudging potatoes around to ensure they cook evenly. Potatoes are done when they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. They should not get brown or fall apart in flipping (unless you like your tortillas with softer, more broken-up potatoes, as some do).

Drain potatoes and onions: Transfer potatoes and onion to a colander/sieve set over a bowl and drain them.* Season potatoes and onion with salt and pepper and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (Seriously, drain the potatoes in the sieve. Most of the oil is removed by doing that. If you don’t have a sieve, use a lot of paper towels in a shallow bowl to absorb the excess oil.)

Drain the oil from the skillet*, reserve at least 1 Tbs., and wipe out the pan with a paper towel so it’s clean. Scrape out any stuck-on bits, if necessary.

Make the tortilla batter: In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs with about ¼ tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in drained potatoes and onions. If you have 10 minutes, definitely let them soak together for that long; it makes a difference in how well the final tortilla stays together. If you’re in a rush, it’s not going to ruin the dish if you skip that step.

Cook the tortilla: Add 1 tablespoon of the drained cooking oil* (back to the skillet over medium-high heat. Let the pan and oil get very hot (important so the eggs don’t stick), and then pour potato mixture into the skillet. Flatten the potatoes with a spatula until they’re mostly even. Cook for 1 minute and then lower the heat to medium-low.

Cook, moving and shaking the skillet and nudging the egg around (so it runs underneath) for a minute before letting the tortilla cook undisturbed until the eggs are completely set at the edges, halfway set in the center, and the tortilla easily slips around in the pan when you give it a shake, 8 to 10 minutes.

Loosen the tortilla with a spatula then slide it onto a large dinner plate. (Use a flat, rimless plate that’s at least as wide as the skillet.) With your hands in potholders, invert the skillet over the plate, take a deep breath, and flip it back into the skillet. Once the tortilla is back in the pan, tuck the edges in and under (to neaten the sides).

Return the skillet to the stove and cook tortilla to your desired doneness, another 2 to 3 minutes if you like an ever-so-slightly loose center; 4 to 5 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean) for full doneness.

Serve: Transfer the tortilla to a serving platter and let cool at least 10 minutes. Serve warm, at room temperature, or slightly cool. Cut into wedges or small squares, sticking a toothpick in each square if serving as an appetizer. Add a dusting of smoked paprika and/or squiggle of aioli or mayo if desired.

* Save the rest of the cooking oil in the refrigerator for future tortillas, or eggs, or potatoes, or anything you want to cook with a faint onion infusion flavor. (Think about the $20 bottle of infused oil you saw at the specialty shop!)

Originally posted with Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers



So About the Wine

This post originally appeared at Just Romantic Suspense blog – a fun place for all things RS.

Thanks so much for joining me today on Just Romantic Suspense while I share MALBEC MAYHEM’s release week. I had so much fun writing this racy novella and hope you enjoy reading it.

Alex Montoya is a secondary character in So About the Money, the first in the Holly Price/So About…series. Alex may have been a bit volatile in that book, but he simply needs the right woman to help him become the adult he’s capable of being. A bit of nagging from his character led me to write his story—MALBEC MAYHEM.

The “Malbec” in the title refers to the wonderful varietal grape that’s growing in popularity as people discover this spicy, easy to enjoy, red wine. Sofia Pincelli’s family has turned Malbec into the winery’s signature wine, and she needs Alex’s crop of Malbec grapes to show her father she has what it takes to make award-winning wine—and save the reputation and finances of the Pincelli winery. In the following excerpt, Sofia has just confronted Alex about the missing grapes.


“If that’s how you feel about me.” Alex stalked to a file cabinet, jerked open the top drawer and grabbed a scrap of black lace. He threw the panties at Sofia. “You might want these ‘delivered’ too. You left them here the other night.”

“Oh for God’s sake, be serious.” She rolled her eyes and thrust her fingers into her hair.

“Why?” He tried to ignore the way her upraised arms pushed her chest forward. “You’re the one who wanted a ‘fun’ relationship.”

“I’m talking about business. Business is serious.”

“What? You like the sex, but not me?” The file cabinet drawer slammed with a satisfying whack. “What is it with you women?”

“It isn’t ‘us women’. It seems to me, it’s you. You have a problem with intelligent women.”

“Bullshit. I prefer intelligent women.”

For a long moment, she studied him. Then she plucked the panties off the floor and stepped toward him. A smile hovered around the corners of her mouth.

“What?” He narrowed his eyes, glaring, more to keep her on-guard than to warn her off. Usually he liked not knowing what she’d pull next, but she loved a challenge—and to win—as much as he did.

She also liked make-up sex as much as he did.

“Nice shirt.” She trailed a finger inside his collar and paused at the first button. “You should wear this color more often. It sets off those gorgeous brown eyes of yours.”

She worked open the button. “Your olive skin…”

Desire rippled down his spine. “Thanks,” he managed. He eyed the open door behind them. Not that he cared who walked in.

She leaned closer. Her full breasts brushed his chest. Warm breath tickled his ear and sent a message straight to his groin. A cool scrap of fabric slid into his palm and her fingers closed his around the silk. “You might want to keep these.”

“Oh?” He managed to keep his tone merely interested while heat flamed through his body. If she kept this up, he could sweep all the papers off his desk. Or there were the chairs. The floor. Up against the wall…

“You keep up that crappy attitude though.”

His brain recalibrated. Problem, problem…

Soft lips brushed a series of kisses against his jaw. “And it’ll be a while before you see a new pair.”


Successful restaurateur Alex Montoya’s charmed life has hit a snag. His trusted business partner turned out to be not exactly trustworthy, and Alex could be facing jail time over some of his partner’s shady financial deals. As if that weren’t bad enough, creditors are calling in loans he didn’t know he had and he’s desperate to prove his innocence before all his businesses are repossessed.

After a career-building stint in Napa Valley, Sofia Pincelli has returned home to eastern Washington to take over the family’s winery. Running the family business, however, means dealing with her ailing father’s continued micro-management—and his disapproval of Alex. Her father’s condemnation of Alex’s rumored involvement in his business partner’s schemes runs so deep, it threatens Alex and Sofia’s blossoming romance…along with the Pincelli family’s signature red wine. Sofia needs Alex’s crop of Malbec grapes to show her father she has what it takes to make award-winning wine—and save the reputation and finances of the Pincelli winery.

When the Malbec grapes go missing, Alex and Sofia must join forces to find the fruit before it spoils—or risk destroying both of their businesses and their hearts.



Since I’m “reposting” this, I put Malbec Mayhem on sale! Get your copy today!


Genre Switching — Or Is It Simply Writing Outside The Box?

Is writing the same genre starting to weigh you down? That sounds like one of those late night television commercials, doesn’t it? Can’t you see it: Writing leaving you tired? Still committed to your genre, but tempted by something new? Loving your characters but wishing they could be on another planet / in another time / in love with werewolves?

We’ve all know the importance of creating our brand and maintaining consistent quality on our books, but there are times you just think… not another XYZ… Your Muse has packed up and gone on vacation without you. And your chin is propped on your hand as you stare at the blank screen and blinking curser.

What if you could write anything you wanted? Try something different? Why not give it a chance? Who decreed you could only write in the genre you publish? This doesn’t have to be anything to do with your publishing career—although maybe it can…


What can you do differently? Dabble in another genre. Revisit that manuscript you hid under the bed. The one you’ve had for years where the coalminers meet the wood fairies. Follow a picture prompt from the net. Indulge in some fanfic, like you did in the old days. Use the excuse of a seasonal theme to revisit existing characters – but change it up. Write a scene from a different character’s POV. Move the setting to the place you’re dying to go for vacation—and pretend you’re there!

This past winter when the weather turned gloomy, I decided to mash up my genre is a new way. Rather than write mysteries with a romance element, I wondered, what if I write a romance with a touch of mystery? And rather than write a true romance, why not make it a “women’s fiction” but apply the transformation to a guy? It was a lot of fun watching this novella take shape and having Alex Montoya grow as a character from “rather an ass,” as one early reader labeled him, into a man who can fully appreciate the woman in his life.

Of course, now that Malbec Mayhem is releasing, I’m terrified my readers will wonder what on earth I was thinking, but I hope they enjoy Alex and Sofia’s story. And I’m newly recharged and can’t wait to start my next mystery—which will definitely have a relationship element.