Monday, December 11, 2017

Meowy Christmas and Happy Howlidays

from Thelma & Louise, Caro Lamont's felines in Sparkle Abbey's Pampered Pets mystery series

Thelma: We’d like to thank Killer Character for finally inviting us to be guest bloggers. I’m Thelma, one of Caro Lamont’s cats and my sister is – hey there, girlfriend, you’re on.

Louise: What? Oh, hello all. I was just taking a little nap waiting for it to be time. Hold on…

Thelma: She’ll be back. Every single time the poor thing wakes up she has to go check to make sure our bowls have food. She just can’t help herself  In the meantime, let me fill you in.

Here’s the deal, as you may know, our human mom is a pet therapist. (Not that we need therapy, of course, but there are some felines and canines who have…well, issues of some sort.

Louise: I’m back. Our food is good. But the water. The water’s old. I checked it and I’m not drinking that water. When Caro gets home we should let her know.

Thelma: Got it. Now, as I was just about to say, our human mom helps people and their pets but she also is a detective.

Louise: Oh, yes, a very good detective. Not like the kind with a badge but the one that helps the kind with the badge. You know, like Detective Malone. He's very nice.

Thelma: I’m not so sure about him. Sometimes, he acts like we’re not here at all. I clearly asked for him to rub my head and he looked at me like he had no idea what I was saying. Then he just went on talking to Caro. Seriously?

Louise: I see your point. Anyway, our human mom, Caro, helps Detective Malone quite a lot. In fact, she and her cousin, Mel, help the police with their murder investigations. Though, we haven’t seen Mel here for a while. I wondered what’s up with that. Anyway, the investigating is pretty exciting.

Thelma: It is exciting. So much so that people like reading about how the crimes as solved. If I could read, I might like to read about it too. As it is we have to find out about what’s going on from eavesdropping. You know, where we pretend we're not listening, but we are. Like just recently when Caro was involved with an event called Barking with the Stars to raise money for Warriors for the Paws. A good event to be sure, to raise money for therapy dogs for veterans who suffer from the effects of PTSD, That's post traumatic stress disorder, in case you didn't remember.

Louise: I did remember, but why dogs? Why not therapy cats?

Thelma: I don’t know. I think therapy cats would be awesome. But this group just does dogs I think. We can talk to Caro about it when she gets home. She’s bringing special treats. I saw her write it down on her list right after we told her about the ones we saw on TV.

Louise: And I see she got the boxes out with the shiny toys she hangs on that little tree for us every year about this time. That will be fun!

Thelma: Great fun! Let’s get a nap in so we can be ready, okay? Last year we weren’t able to remove all the toys from the tree. Right, Louise? Louise? Well, I see she’s already started on her nap.
So, let me say for both of us. Meowy Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your furry family members. Also be sure to check out the fun Barking with the Stars giveaway from Caro and Dogbert, our canine housemate.

Have you read any of the Sparkle Abbey Pampered Pets books? Do you have a pampered pet at home?

Comment below with either the title of a Sparkle Abbey book or the name of your pet, to be entered in the drawing for the prize. (As you can see in the picture, it’s a fun leash hook and a “You had me a Woof” mug as well as a copy of Sparkle Abbey’s latest book, Barking with the Stars.)

Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don't tell the neighbors.) They love to hear from readers and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the website.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Merry Christmas from Bella in Seattle and a #Giveaway!

By Bella, of Tracy Weber's Downward Dog Mystery Series

Happy holidays, everyone!  Bella here from Tracy Weber’s Downward Dog Mystery series, wishing you a glorious holiday season.  We almost never have a white Christmas in Seattle anymore.  My human slave, Kate blames it on something she calls global climate change.  Still, people here get very much into the season’s celebrations with glorious light displays, Christmas carol singing, and more gift giving than even a hundred-pound German shepherd like me can shake a stick at!

As you can see, I’m getting into the spirit this year.  I’m not sure why Kate insisted on dressing me up in this ridiculous Santa Dog outfit, but who am I to spoil her fun?  Besides, she promised me that as soon as she’s done taking photos, I’ll get to open up all of those presents.  I already know what’s inside them, of course.  You can’t hide toys and tasty treats from a German shepherd’s nose simply by covering them with a thin layer of paper!

Let’s see, I smell ostrich tendons, salmon and sweet potato cookies, squeaky tennis balls and…

What’s that?

Oh, Kate says she’s done with the photos and now it’s time for me to tell you about your Christmas gift.  Leave a comment by Monday, December 18 with your sincere holiday wish, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of my most recent Downward Dog Mystery, A Fatal Twist.  Don’t forget to leave your e-mail address so Kate’s author friend, Tracy, can contact you if you win.

My next adventure, Pre-Meditated Murder comes out in January and is available for pre-order now!

Go on, buy yourself a copy.  You deserve an early gift!

Tracy Weber’s author page
Bella's author buddy, Tracy Weber, on Facebook

Catch up on all four of the Downward Dog Mysteries.  Available at booksellers everywhere!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Holidays—Are you a fan?

Skye Denison Boyd from Denise Swanson’s  Welcome Back to Scumble River series, Devereaux Sinclair from her Devereaux’s Dime Store series, and Dani Sloan from her Chef-to-Go series debuting April 2018

Skye: I love Christmas, at least the idea of Christmas. I’m not as fond of the stressful pre-holiday season. Finding just the right gift for everyone, figuring out what dish to bring to each party, and especially helping the students whose situations are less than ideal cope with the holidays.  On the other hand, I do get to spend the holidays with my handsome new husband. So on a scale from one to ten, I’d say, I’m a firm 8.

Dev: I love the holidays! As the owner of Devereaux’s Dime Store and Gift Baskets, it’s fun to decorate the store, create the gift baskets, and especially see all the wonderful profits go into the bank. Plus this year, I get to spend the holidays with my hunky new boyfriend. So on a scale from one to ten, I’m a firm 10.

Dani: Wow! Hard question. As a caterer and personal chef, the holidays are my busiest season so I don’t really celebrate much myself. I do love making yummy treats and scrumptious meals for my clients. And the money is very welcome to my fledgling new business. But since I’m estranged from my father and not dating anyone, I’ll be alone. So one a scale of one to ten, I’m a 6. Maybe by next year there will be someone in my life and I can upgrade to a 10.

---If you’d like to read more about Skye, Dev, or Dani here are links to their most recent adventures.

---Denise Swanson is a New York Times bestselling author of cozy mysteries and contemporary romance.

It’s Killer Characters' Seasons Readings giveaway time! Throughout the holidays we will be giving away books. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on the blog, with your email address.
I am happy to give one randomly chosen winner a copy of Between a Book and a Hard Place OR Murder of an Open Book—winner’s choice. Sorry US only.
I will choose a reader Monday morning, and will contact them for their address.
We are so grateful to our readers, and happy to celebrate with them this holiday season!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Happy Holidays! A new series and giveaway

Hi all, Taylor O'Brian here from Sonoma, California. I'm so proud to debut my new series. When my Aunt Jemma had a heart attack, I left my high paying job in advertising and gave up my condo in San Francisco to come to live in my aunt's pool house. Luckily, Aunt Jemma seems none the worse for wear after her attack. The only problem is that every time I even think of returning to my old life, Aunt Jemma feels a twinge.

So, I've decided that I'm going to stay and make a new life in Sonoma. I grew up in this famous small town among the golden hills and the vineyards large and small. The sweet scent of wine grapes in every season and the friends old and new made my decision easy. The problem is making wine isn't really my passion and it has to be a passion to do it well. But that doesn't mean I can't make a name for myself in Sonoma. I plan to do just that with my Off The Beaten Path wine country tours.

I bought an old VW van that holds a nice group of seven. It's perfect for touring all the quirky gardens, hikes and small wineries in Sonoma and Napa Counties. My kitty, Clemmie, is not a fan of touring, but she keeps Aunt Jemma company while I have fun. Or that's what I imagined it would be like. I never imagined that anyone would be murdered on one of my tours, or that I would be suspected of the crime. Now it's up to me and my friends to solve the crime before my tour business has to close for good.
A Case of Syrah, Syrah is out December 12, 2017.

Happy, Holidays! I'm giving away a hardcover copy of this book. Simply leave a comment telling me what your favorite holiday beverage is and one lucky winner will be picked at random. Best of luck!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sorry for the Long Wait

My apologies for not choosing a winner more quickly for the copy of Many a Twist for Maura Donovan's post on November 25th. But I was in Ireland (doing research!) and the wifi was a bit unpredictable. Luckily the copies of the book have arrived! The winner, chosen by random drawing, is Carol Schmoker. Carol, send your address to me at and I'll put the book in the mail. And thank you all for commenting! 

SEASONS READINGS + French Bistro book #giveaway

By Mimi Rousseau, owner of Bistro Rousseau and Maison Rousseau in Nouvelle Vie, an enclave of Napa Valley

For author Daryl Wood Gerber, French Bistro Mysteries

Bonjour. Or should I say, Joyeux Noël?

At Bistro Rousseau and Maison Rousseau, the bed-and-breakfast that neighbors the bistro--both of which are now mine, eek!--we are getting ready for the onslaught of visitors that come to Napa Valley during the holidays. Why do they come? Because there are so many festive things to do.

The wine train will embark on an all-new musical and interactive journey -- yes, interactive -- to Santa's Workshop! Magical wristbands will enhance the experience. In addition to wine, you can enjoy hot chocolate, cookies, and more.

Or you can go to Yountville, which is very near to my sweet Nouvelle Vie, and see the town transformed into a magical winter wonderland using thousands of tiny, energy-efficient twinkling lights. Isn't that wonderful that everyone is becoming so energy conscious? During the day, you won't want to miss the art galleries!

If you're celebrating Hanukkah, you might want to take in the Judd Hill Hanukkah Hootenanny! I kid you not. Hootenanny. You can sip current vintages and specialty wines, enjoy beef brisket sliders, a latke bar (honestly...I've never heard of such a thing - fabulous, right?!) featuring Judd's secret recipe, and more. This is a fundraising event, and we all like to support those, don't we? Especially at this time of year.

If you stop into Bistro Rousseau, expect a delicious meal. We'll start the menu with caviar or smoked salmon on blinis, the traditional apéritif. The French particularly love oysters, so you can expect those, as well. Of course, they aren’t cheap, but they are wonderful at this time of year. Now, snails (escargot) might not be eaten as often in France as people believe, but at Christmas, they shine. Especially in Burgundy, home of the “escargot du Bourgogne.” We'll serve them as an appetizer with parsley and garlic. Yum!

Of course, we’ll offer the traditional turkey with chestnut stuffing, but we also like to include a choice of other fowl, like pheasant or goose. I'm thinking roasted goose with crispy skin à la Jacque Pépin. What do you think? It's the honey that makes it sizzle.

For dessert, we will be splurging with a variety of desserts, including my favorite, bûche d' Noel. We will serve it in the typical way as well as gluten-free! And why not? I think everyone should enjoy this luscious dish!

By the way, many of my customers ask me what is the one technique everyone should know. Other than to know how to make the five mother sauces, I suppose it should be how to sharpen your knife in the proper manner.

Do you have an addition to my menu? My talented chef and my best friend Jorianne have already offered their two cents. Fire away. I'm all ears!


Today, my author Daryl is giving away a copy of A DEADLY ECLAIR, the first in this series, to one commenter. We all know giving and receiving books is one of the delights of the holiday season. Leave a comment and your email (cryptic if necessary) so she can contact you if you win.  She'll pick a winner on December 9th.



Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro has seemed beyond her grasp ever since she was chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Fortunately, her best friend Jorianne introduced her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker, who invested in the promising restaurateur’s project. So Mimi works the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own. Now, Mimi is throwing the inn’s very first wedding—the nuptials of famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison.

This wedding will be the talk of the town, but anxious Mimi is sure the bride’s puffed-up expectations will collapse, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the evening, things are looking sweet again…until the next morning, when Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth.

All the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven if Bryan dies. So it’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair, Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber’s scrumptious series debut.

Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber writes the brand new French Bistro Mysteries as well as
the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. A DEADLY ÊCLAIR, the first French Bistro Mystery, comes out November 2017. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAY OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!



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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Seasons Readings & an excerpt that's out of this world!

Happy Holidays from Samantha Kidd, Madison Night, Poly Monroe, and Margo Tamblyn from Diane Vallere's various series!

Hi everybody!

Samantha Kidd here. Diane’s trying to wrangle me into an adventure in Paris, which hopefully you’ll be able to read about next year. In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt from her upcoming outer space cozy mystery, MURDER ON MOON TREK 1, that comes out December 17! It features Sylvia Stryker, uniform lieutenant aboard the Moon Unit 5. Madison Night, Poly Monroe, Margo Tamblyn, and I (you know us as Diane's characters) decided to start a cozy mystery book club and read it when it comes out. Poly's giving fabric to Margo to make us costumes. Madison’s bringing the Doris Day/NASA featurette that came with The Glass Bottom Boat DVD. I offered to provide the food: a flying-saucer-shaped disc of dough with cheese and tomatoes—okay, fine. I’m bringing pizza.  What? You think they don’t have pizza in outer space???

--With holiday love from Samantha Kidd, Madison Night, Poly Monroe, and Margo Tamblyn

P.S. What would you bring to an outer space-themed book club meeting? Leave a comment below and enter to win a Kindle copy of YOUR CHOICE of any of Diane Vallere’s books! FOUR WINNERS, because Madison, Poly, Margo, and I told Diane there were four of us and it was the right thing to do.

Excerpt from MURDER ON MOON TREK 1:

When Moon Unit 5 kicked off its inaugural trip from my home planet of Plunia, I expected the uniform closet to be stuffed to capacity. I just hadn’t expected it to be stuffed with a body. But here we were, light years from the space station where we’d departed, and instead of a closet of freshly laundered uniforms, I had a dead man. No matter how thoroughly I'd planned for today, I never could have planned for this.

Maybe he wasn’t dead. Maybe he was tired. Maybe he’d had a late night partying before today’s departure and crawled into my uniform closet to take a nap.

As unlikely as that explanation was, I wasn’t yet willing to accept the more probable reality. I knelt next to him and checked for a pulse on the side of his neck. His skin was cold to the touch, which was either due to his not-alive state or the twenty-degree difference between earthling temperatures (his) and Plunian temperatures (mine). In this case, it was both. No pulse, no breathing. A Code Blue.

The Moon Unit Corporation ran a fleet of cruise spaceships whose mission was to provide relaxing getaways to one of our galaxy’s moons. Ever since I’d learned they were reopening after years of inactivity, I’d fantasized about working for them. The fact that I’d hacked my records into their system was a minor technicality. My job was to manage the uniforms during the moon trek, and as long as I did my job and avoided ship security, my fantasy would become a reality. But this was bigger than managing uniforms. Regardless of the risks to me, I had to contact the bridge.

I could send a general message over the staff communication network. I stepped away from the pile of spilled uniforms and shifted to the computer that sat above the console in the middle of the room. It was standard issue, a flat black folio with colorful buttons and a low-definition screen. Only the top members of the ship and paying passengers were given high-def equipment. For the rest of us, it was the bare minimum, Moon Unit Corporation’s way of making sure distractions didn’t surround us. To the right side of the computer was a clear plastic dome that protected a shiny red button that, despite learning about during emergency protocol training, I’d hoped never to have to use.

MURDER ON MOON TREK 1 comes out December 17. Find it here: 

Amazon // B&N // Kobo // Apple

Remember! Leave a comment about what you'd bring to an outer-space themed book club meeting for your chance to win your choice of a book by Diane. Good luck!