Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Corpse: Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders

Murders,  mistrust, misfits, and miscreants—needlepoint artist Milo Everhart has her hands full. Can Tristram Brodie prove to her that love conquers all?

It’s just before Christmas, and Milo Everhart has two needlepoint stockings, a cross-stitch purse, and three canvases to finish for her clients. Waiting out the rain in a pub, she is captivated by the handsome man next to her, but blocking the road to romance are two mysterious corpses who turn up in the tower of her Torpedo Factory Art Center. As if that weren’t enough, a second crisis erupts—a proposal to gut her beloved Art Center. 

Tristram Brodie, hard-driving corporate lawyer and former Marine, is focused on his plan to convert the Torpedo Factory into a box store. He is drawn to the beautiful woman sitting next to him, but their mutual attraction will be frustrated by both the murders and his intentions. As they edge closer to love, they must find a way to overcome both their differences and the still-fresh memory of her late husband. 

The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, is a hulking former munitions factory right on the waterfront. Since the 1970s it has been host to art studios, a museum, and an art school. It’s never been renovated and is still a vast open central space surrounded by meandering corridors and rooms tucked away here and there. It is topped by a tower reached by hidden stairs. So you can imagine how our heroine, Milo Everhart, felt when she had to traverse the narrow stairs, open fire doors, and walk through a huge dark hall, to let the police in.

Excerpt (G): The Body

“Hello! Hello? 911?”
“Please state the nature of your emergency.”
“A body. There’s a b…b…body.” The word came out as a gurgle.
“Yes, ma’am. Now tell me where you are.”
Milo looked wildly around the darkened corridor. “Second floor. No lights.”
“Ma’am? Second floor of what?”
“Oh, er, the Torpedo Factory. I ran downstairs. I…”
“The Torpedo Factory? You mean the building at 105 North Union Street?”
Milo almost snapped, “How many torpedo factories do you know?” but thought better of it. “Yes.”
“All right, ma’am. Now, you say you’ve found a body? Is it dead?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it’s dead. Dead. A dead body. In the office.”
“The office?”
“The tower. Look, can you send the police? I’m all alone in the building. Except for the body, of course. I mean, it’s pitch black in here. Please?” She knew she sounded less than rational, but weren’t 911 operators trained to weed out the gibberish and cut to the chase?
“I’ve already sent out a call. The police should be arriving any minute. Now, will they be able to enter the building?”
“Oh! Er. I don’t know. Archie’s already locked up.”
“The super. He’s long gone, though.”
“Can you get to a door to let them in?”
Milo’s shoes must have found bubble gum on the floor all by themselves, since they appeared to be stuck. “I…uh…I can’t get to the doors.” Nothing but silence on the other end. She must think I’m lazy. Or a coward. I’ll bet she knows how to wait people out, to force them to do her bidding. “I’m not lazy, miss. I’m just…I’m wondering. What if the murderer is hiding somewhere, still in the building?”
“Murderer? You think the victim was murdered?”
Every CSI show she’d ever watched, plus a couple of X Files, fast-forwarded through her brain. Somewhere in the reruns she found the answer. “I don’t know. That’s for the experts to decide.” Thank you, Gil Grissom.
“Okay, ma’am. Listen to me carefully. If the building is locked, the police will have to break the door down, but first they’ll have to go to a judge and get a search warrant. So you see, the quickest way they can help you is if you let them in. Now, do you think you can go down the stairs to the door?”
Milo drew in a long, ragged breath, holding it until her head began to spin. As she let it out, she managed, “Yes. I’m on the landing. Can you stay on the line with me in case I’m attacked?”
“I sure will.”
Milo felt her way with one hand toward the middle stairwell. “I’m on the stairs now. Now I’m walking down the stairs.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
The central staircase of the factory only had a single metal railing and thus was exposed to the entire main hall. If anyone still lurked in the building he could easily see (and hear) her. She stopped halfway down and looked across the main lobby to the front entrance, a set of doublewide, glass-paned sliding doors. “There are flashing lights and sirens coming from Union Street.”
“Yes, ma’am. That would be the police.”
Well, duh.

Wild Rose Press, 7/20/2016; Imprint Crimson Rose 
Theme(s): Mystery/Cozy Mystery
Contemporary romantic Suspense, M/F, 2 flames
Ebook, 66,830 words; Print 268 p. 

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Monday, December 23, 2019

The finding of the body: Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair

Who's littering the park with corpses?

Three corpses strewn across the sand. Who are they and how did they get to Amelia Island?  State Park rangers Simon Ribault and Ellie Ironstone must find the answers while contending with a secretive group called the League of the Green Cross. Are the deaths linked to it? Or could they be tied to the colorful history of the island, which was won and lost eight times? Mucking up the investigation is the crucial question—who will Ellie choose: Thad, the handsome local idol, and Simon, the clever, quirky bookworm?

Flotsam & Jetsam is a cozy mystery romance set on a barrier island in north-east Florida. I first visited Amelia Island to attend the Amelia Island Book Festival, and was struck by the crazy quilt of events it had survived. Known as the Isle of Eight Flags, it had seen wave after wave of conquering armies, some big, like the Spanish, and some tiny, like the Patriots of Amelia Island who mustered nine gunboats and maybe a hundred men. Timucuan Indians, French, Spanish, pirates, Scots mercenaries, Confederate and Union soldiers, all occupied the tiny island at one point or another. It also has a sizable Geechee (Gullah) community. Faced with a setting like that, who wouldn’t want to craft a nice little murder mystery that drew on the island’s history?

Excerpt: The First Body
Ellie rotated the phone to allow them both to listen. “Simon and I are at the fort. There was an event here last night, and Hosea sent us to check out what, if any, mess the participants left before we reopen to the public tomorrow.”
“Oh, right. Betty Lawrence told me it was some sort of cult initiation—torches and secret handshakes and masks and stuff. I doubt they’d leave anything behind. Wouldn’t want to divulge any clues to their Circean rituals.”
Simon whistled. “Did she just say ‘Circean’? Cool!”
Ellie put a palm over her phone. “What on earth are you talking about?”
“Circe. You know. Greek goddess of sorcery. Well, minor goddess to be precise, but she did land a pretty good gig in The Iliad. When Odysseus and his men…” Simon petered out in response to the look on Ellie’s face.
She took her hand off the phone and spoke into it. “We’re not sure our little emergency has anything to do with the attendees. The inside of the fort was reasonably tidy, but outside the walls—”
“Get on with it, Ellie. You’re just like your father. What have you found?”
Ellie brushed the criticism aside with a wave of her hand. “A bit of unexpected flotsam washed up on the shore.”
“You don’t want to know what it is first?”
“I need coordinates if I’m to send out reinforcements.”
“Okay, the body is on the stretch of sand facing St. Marys River. Northeast of the fort.”
“Body, huh. Dead?”
“I’d probably call it a man if it wasn’t.”
“Good point. Does it look pruny?”
Ellie checked out the corpse, lying supine on the sand. “Not really. So that means he died recently?”
“It means he wasn’t in the water long. Stiff?”
“Stiff, vic, cadaver—whatever you want to call him, he’s dead.”
Simon sensed the increasing threat level and, on the off chance Ellie didn’t, intervened. “Hold on a sec.” He prodded the dead man’s jaw, then tried to lift his arm. “Tell your mother rigor mortis has set in. Body’s cold. I’d say he died maybe eight to twelve hours ago.”

Mainstream Mystery, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Suspense
Rating: Spicy (PG13)
Paper 430 p.; Ebook 97,578 words 

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Saturday, December 21, 2019

A Widow’s Walk: Romantic Suspense in Maine

Which will she choose—her old love or her new love? 

Catherine Killean is a woman on a mission. When her new husband disappears, leaving a suicide note, she is determined to find out why. She follows his tracks first to the North Woods of Maine, then to Florida, and back again to Maine. Along the way, she meets the tall, dark, gruff Holden Taggart, a Maine guide.

In her doubt and loneliness she is drawn to Holden, leaving her confused and adrift. What will happen when her questions about Jonathan are finally answered? Will old loyalty or new love triumph?

A Widow’s Walk opens in northern Maine, on the banks of Moosehead Lake. Most of the area was timber land and towns catered to the men who worked in lumber camps. Like Gold Rush towns in the West, many delights awaited them—including brothels. In this scene, the hotel in which the travelers are staying has restored the original boudoirs with red velvet upholstery and inviting beds. In this scene Catherine, staying in the Madam’s room, has an unwelcome visitor.

Excerpt (PG): The thief

“I’m sorry about…the kiss. I won’t trouble you again.” He turned and strode down the corridor.
Catherine undressed slowly and got into bed. She gazed at the ceiling, not sure where to even begin to decipher her feelings. Holden’s scent remained on her skin, filling her senses. Ignoring her conscience, she closed her eyes and rose to meet the fantasy. Suddenly, Jonathan’s picture intruded and the heat dissipated. What is happening to me? These feelings aren’t real. It’s ridiculous. I barely know the man. He has a lifestyle totally foreign to me. He’s rough, coarse, ill-mannered. But, she had to admit, extremely desirable. There’s something else, though. It’s not just a physical attraction. No, it was a spark of male force different from anything she had ever felt before, certainly not from the diminutive Jonathan, who would have appeared so effeminate next to Holden. She considered this new perspective. I used to think of Jonathan as fawnlike. He was a delicate, vulnerable animal, to be protected and shielded from the wicked things in the world. Could he instead have just been a weakling?
It took a long time to fall asleep, and when she did, she dreamed, not of Jonathan, but of a great black bear who appeared out of the cold darkness. It enveloped her in its huge paws and led her gently into a cave. There the bear, which smelled oddly of lemon, began to embrace her. She felt herself falling onto something furry, opening her body to take the bear deep inside her, calling in her sleep, “I want you, you, you…” She awoke with a snap.
Someone was indeed in her room. She tried to make him out in the gloom. Shorter than Holden, and stockier. She caught a whiff of lemon, this time real. “Who’s there?” In her fright she could only manage a shrill squeak. The intruder let out an oath and, before she could reach for the lamp, ran out, slamming the door behind him. Catherine flipped the switch with trembling fingers. There on her bureau lay her jewelry case, its contents scattered on the floor. As she knelt to gather them up, the door opened. Harley stood there.
“I brought it back,” she said quietly. She crossed to the bureau, laid a diamond brooch on it, and left without another word.

I Heart Book Publishing, June 6, 2016
Ebook: words; Print: 227 p.
Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Orion's Foot: Origin of the Title

I thought I'd tell you a bit about the title of my new mystery romance Orion’s Foot: Myth, Mystery, and Romance in the Amazon:

Orion—along with Ursa Major and Ursa Minor—is one of the most recognizable constellations in the sky. Most people zero in on the three stars that make up his belt, but the brightest star in the constellation is Rigel—his left knee or foot. 

Orion was the son of Poseidon, who gave him the power to walk on water. He was a great hunter. In the excerpt below, Petra tells Emory why she wishes on Orion’s foot, and he in turn warns her to be careful of him.

Oddly enough, I came up with the title for Orion’s Foot: Myth, Mystery, & Romance in the Amazon, separately from the actual inspiration for the book. I was sitting outside on a beautiful night and saw Orion—I’m sorry to say one of the few constellations I can identify. I thought, what a neat title for a book. There you have it.


Excerpt: Orion’s Foot

After supper, she sought the hammock room,  hoping to see the capybaras again, but the lawn was  empty. For once, the sky was clear, and she wandered  out and down to the dock to enjoy the stars. Ah, there’s  Orion. Usually people chose Venus or Polaris, but Petra  always wished on Orion’s left foot. Nick had once asked her why. “Because it’s his foot that takes the first  stride across space.”
 “So what does that have to do with your wishes?”
 “Whenever I’m faced with a scary decision, Orion  gives me the courage to take the first step.”
 Nick had laughed at her. 
 As she closed her eyes and pondered her request, a  rustle sounded behind her. “Don’t fall in.”
Petra sprang forward and nearly did fall in, but a strong hand caught her around her waist and pulled her back. She felt warm breath in her ear. “Emory!”
He let go. “What are you doing anyway? You had one leg hovering over the water.”
“I guess the stars distracted me.” She glanced at him shyly. “I was wishing on Orion. Or rather, on his foot.” She pointed at the star twinkling below the famous belt.
“Why Orion?”
No need to let on how weird I am just yet. “It’s…uh…the only constellation I recognize?”
“It’s probably the only constellation most people recognize.” He looked down at her. “Okay, do you have a foot fetish, or what? Why wish on the foot?”
Just because Nick made fun of me doesn’t mean Emory will. “It brings me luck.”
“Like a rabbit’s foot, only better?”
She didn’t answer. The thing that had been simmering in the back of her mind for the last two days, obscured by the chaos of events, had made itself known. She knew what she wanted to wish for.
“Petra? Did you hear my question?”
Petra lowered her eyes to Emory. “I don’t know about better—but it serves the same function. See, everyone zeroes in on Orion’s belt, or his dog, or his manly physique, but his left foot—Rigel—is actually the brightest star in the constellation.”
He inspected the night sky. “True. And?”
“Well, it reminds me that when you have to take that first step into the unknown you…um…put your best foot forward. I look at Orion striding across the cosmos, and he helps me believe I can meet any challenge.”
Emory was silent for a minute. Petra was about to take her leave when he said, “Did you know that Orion claimed he was the greatest hunter of all time? Gaia sent a scorpion to kill him.”
“Huh. Who is Gaia?”
“Gaia means Earth—she’s the goddess the Greeks called the mother of all life—the primordial deity. The cool New Age kids all worship her. Don’t tell me you aren’t into crystals and yoga?”
“No. So why did Gaia want to kill Orion?”
“Because, to prove his prowess, he announced he was going to hunt down and kill all the animals in the world. Since Gaia is the guardian of every living thing, you might say his threat kinda ruffled her feathers.”
“I’ll bet. So she decided to kill him before he massacred her subjects. Did she succeed?”
“No. Another god—I forget his name—gave Orion the antidote. That’s why you never see both Orion and Scorpio in the sky at the same time.”
“So,” he said softly, “Orion is hardly the hero you want to set your heart on. All the stories of him involve power, lust, and murder.”

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Wild Rose Press, October 30, 2019
First Crimson Rose Edition, 2019
442 pp; 101,601 words
Rating: Spicy (PG13) 

Genres: Cozy mystery, Romantic suspense, Contemporary romance

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Tena Stetler is my Guest with Charm Me Again

Please welcome Tena Stetler, Award-Winning Paranormal Author, and her new release, Charm Me Again.

Charm Me Again - Breaking the curse is only the first step to forever. 

Thank you so much for giving me a chance to chat about my new Romance/Mystery , Charm Me Again.  I hope your readers will enjoy the excerpt and a little about what inspired the book.

I first climbed to Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado several years ago. Although it’s only a little over a mile, you gain one-thousand feet in altitude in the one mile climb. On top of that, it was pouring rain, making the trail’s scattered boulders slick and treacherous. But it was well worth the climb. It quit raining and we ate our lunch in the beautiful surroundings. Mother Nature outdid herself carving this fantastic lake into the side of the mountain. At the time, I figured someday it would end up in a book.  Well, it did and in spectacular fashion (don’t want to give anything away). The background and a few of the meme’s I’ve created feature the lake and surrounding vegetation.  

A little about Charm Me Again:

For several months a Scottish Highland ghost has haunted Daylan, in his personal life, his professional life, and at his forge. Yet, despite being a talented warlock, he is no closer to discovering what the ghost wants or why he chose Daylan. A trip to his estranged sister’s home in Colorado may have unforeseen consequences, especially when family history leads him to a shocking discovery.

As his attraction blooms for Josie, a yoga instructor in his sister’s studio, he realizes there may be more to Josie than he can imagine. When an ancient rogue Fae Warrior set on revenge kidnaps her in an attempt to claim her as his own, a devastating curse comes to light.

Daylan’s world spirals out of control as he searches for Josie. Can he break the age-old curse to save her and their future, or will she be lost to him forever?

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A sneak peek between the pages of Charm Me Again:

As they climbed, the trail became steeper and rockier. He grabbed hold of the handrails assuming they were provided for oxygen-deprived people like him. How do people breathe up here? Until now he’d prided himself in being in excellent shape.
She turned and peeked over her shoulder. “You all right back there? We’re almost to the top.”
About damn time. Huffing out another breath, he leaned against a large boulder. The trail opened up and the Lake came into view. He sucked in a breath at the geologic wonder before his eyes. Suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon’s cliff, waterfalls spilled into a clear turquoise lake. Lush green plants trailed from the outcropping of rock on the walls surrounding the water was like nothing he’d ever seen. “This is absolutely unbelievable.”
Suddenly, the wind changed direction, a thin maroon line formed along the flat bottom of the dark clouds spreading across the sky where moments before there’d been only a few fluffy cotton ball clouds in a sea of blue. The maroon line widened then switched to vertical and spread open to reveal a shimmering interior. Shadows emerged from the cloud then disappeared. As he was about to comment, huge raindrops plopped on the ground followed by pea size hail that grew to softball size.
Josie ran for cover and he followed. Protected under a ledge, she cupped her hands over her ears as the roaring of the storm combined with huge ice balls smashing against rocks echoed through the canyon. She elbowed him and cocked a brow in question, pointing to the vegetation that remained unharmed.
His eyes narrowed. Something isn’t right. I can feel it. Magic is spinning this storm. But who—how and why? At a loss for answers, he shrugged and urged her further under the ledge to wait out the storm. Brushing the wet strands of hair out of her face, he smiled. She looked like a drowned rat but the fragrance around her reminded him of sweet spring flowers.

About the author:
Tena Stetler is a best-selling author of award-winning paranormal romance novels. She has an overactive imagination, which led to writing her first vampire romance as a ‘tween, to the chagrin of her mother and delight of her friends.
With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, she sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures–with a Navy SEAL or two mixed in–telling their tales. Her books tell stories of magical kick-ass women and strong mystical males that dare to love them. Travel, adventure, and a bit of mystery flourish in her books along with a few companion animals to round out the tales.
Colorado is her home, shared with her husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot, and a forty-five-year-old box turtle.  Any winter evening, you can find Tena curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate, and a big bowl of popcorn.

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Monday, December 9, 2019

His Candy Christmas--New from Darlene Fredette

Please welcome my friend Darlene Fredette. Just in time for Christmas, Book 1 of her Redford Falls romantic series has been released. Do tell us about His Candy Christmas, if you would, Darlene.

Who knew returning home would contain a cool nip in the air, irresistible chocolate, and a Santa suit?


It’s going to take more than a few pieces of chocolate to fill this Scrooge’s heart with Christmas cheer. Luckily Candy has a whole shop full.

Jackson returned to his small hometown for one reason and one reason only. So, he’s not sure how he ended up in a Santa suit in the middle of a chocolate shop, at the behest of its beautiful owner, instead of high-tailing it back to the city as fast as he can.

Candice Cane is not proud of the way she acted after her last encounter with Jackson Frost. Sure revenge was fun, but now Jackson is angry and looking for answers, and standing on the welcome mat in her chocolate shop. He’s after some revenge of his own. 

His Candy Christmas
By Darlene Fredette
A Redford Falls Novel, Book 1
Amazon Digital Services, released November 27, 2019
67 p.


An acquisition of her own popped in her head. He might be a bit too tall, but nothing a quick readjustment to a hem couldn’t fix.
Jackson walked to the supply shelf, picked up a pen, and offered it to her. “If you wouldn’t mind, I’m in a hurry.”
She tapped the pen against her chin. Yes, this plan could work.
“Why the hesitation?”
Not just yet. Candy had a problem and Jackson was her solution. “You need a divorce, I need a Santa.”
“What?” He raised an eyebrow.
She flashed a sinister smile and winked, pointing to the clothing bag hanging from a hook on the wall. A Santa hat peeked from the open zipper. “Give me your best ho ho ho.”
“ way!” Jackson stepped back, colliding with the wall. “If you think I’m going to dress up as Santa, you’re out of your mind!”

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His Candy Christmas will be available in both ebook and print-on-demand.

About the Author:

Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short and the winters are too long. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to develop the many stories coming to life in her head. She writes contemporary romances with happy-ever-afters. When not working on her next book, she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. Darlene’s favourite pastime is taking summer day-trips to the Valley to soak in the small-town feel.


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