Monday, April 30, 2012

Agatha Awards

The winners of the Agatha Awards were announced Saturday night at the Malice Domestic Convention in Bethesda, Maryland.

Congratulations to the winners! Here's the slate of nominees, with Killer Character authors highlighted in red, and stars beside the winning titles.

Best Novel:

The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews (Minotaur)
The Diva Haunts the House by Krista Davis (Berkley)
Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur)
**Three-Day Town by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing)
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best First Novel:

Dire Threads by Janet Bolin (Berkley)
Choke by Kaye George (Mainly Murder Press)
**Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Crown)
Who Do, Voodoo? by Rochelle Staab (Berkley)
Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend (Berkley)

Best Non-fiction:

**Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure by Leslie Budewitz (Linden)
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making: More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks by John Curran (Harper)
On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda (Princeton University Press)
Wilkie Collins, Vera Caspary and the Evolution of the Casebook Novel by A. B. Emrys (McFarland)
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris (Ace)

Best Short Story:

**"Disarming" by Dana Cameron, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - June 2011
"Dead Eye Gravy" by Krista Davis, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press)
"Palace by the Lake" by Daryl Wood Gerber, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press)
"Truth and Consequences" by Barb Goffman, Mystery Times Ten (Buddhapuss Ink)
"The Itinerary" by Roberta Isleib, MWA Presents the Rich and the Dead (Grand Central Publishing)

Best Children's/Young Adult:

Shelter by Harlan Coben (Putnam)
**The Black Heart Crypt by Chris Grabenstein (Random House)
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic Press)
The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey (EgmontUSA)
The Code Busters Club, Case #1: The Secret of the Skeleton Key by Penny Warner (EgmontUSA)

Best Historical Novel:

**Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Murder Your Darlings by J.J. Murphy (Signet)
Mercury's Rise by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen Press)
Troubled Bones by Jeri Westerson (Minotaur)
A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

by Edna from the Threadville Mystery series by Janet Bolin

The girl opened the door of my notions shop, Buttons and Bows, and slipped in sideways. She couldn’t have been more than ten years old. She reminded me of myself at that age, short, with plenty of brown curls and big, dark eyes.

Everyone loves shopping in Threadville, where you can buy every supply a needlecrafter could want, but this child was too young to be alone. I opened my mouth.

With one quiet gesture, hand in the air, she silenced me. “Don’t worry.” Her voice was barely above a whisper. “My mom knows where I am.” She tilted her head toward Batty About Quilts. “She’s next door, planning a quilt, and it’s taking ages. So I asked her if I could come over here, and she said yes. I want to buy diamonds for her for Mother’s Day.”

I opened my mouth again. I stocked all sorts of sparkly things, but not diamonds.

Again, she stopped me from speaking. “I know they’re not real, but I want something like diamonds for her. She’s the best mommy in the world.” She patted her little shoulder bag. “And I have money from my allowance.”

Together, the girl and I chose sparkly crystals and beads. I wanted to give them to her outright, but I could tell she wouldn’t accept. I charged her less than the marked prices. She questioned my math, and I told her it was a volume discount.

Standing as tall as she could with her back straight and her little chin as determined as mine could ever be, she tucked her treasures into her shoulder bag. “Some day—” Her eyes and mouth were fierce. “—I’m going to give her real diamonds. And when I’m grown up and have kids, I’m going to try to be as good a mother to her as she is to me and my baby brother.”

She slipped out sideways and turned toward Batty About Quilts, and my shop was silent except for the echo of my door chimes.

I thought, if any ten-year-old is going to grow up and give her mother diamonds, it will be this girl.

What about you, have you ever met a chid who goes out of her way to show her parents how much she loves them?

You can learn more about Edna and how she helped her friends solve a murder in DIRE THREADS, nominated for an Agatha Award
for Best First novel, and and for the an Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (the Bony Blithe.) DIRE THREADS IS available in stores everywhere.

The second novel in the Threadville Mystery series, THREADED FOR TROUBLE, will be published on June 5 and is available for pre-order.

Visit Janet at facebook and twitter.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Congratulations to Mary Jane Mafini!

RT Book Reviews announced the winners of the 2011 Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Awards, and Killer Characters author Mary Jane Maffini's mystery THE BUSY WOMAN'S GUIDE TO MURDER won in the category Mystery Suspense & Thriller/Amateur Sleuths

Mary Jane Maffini, PRIME CRIME, (April 2011)

And to give you a taste of why this book has received this award and has been nominated for the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (aka the Bony Blithe), here's a post from one of the characters in the Charlotte Adams Mystery series:

A desperate plea by Sally Januscek from the Charlotte Adams mysteries by Mary Jane Maffini

This is Sally Januscek calling on you for help. Again. Not for me, of course. My life is pretty well perfect. I have four beautiful pre-schoolers and a husband who treats me well (although he is a bit distracted by his medical practice and works a lot of nights). But as I said, this is not about me. It’s about my friends Charlotte Adams and Jack Reilly. They’re in love and they don’t know it. They need a serious nudge in the direction of the altar. I know we’ve had this talk before, but nothing has changed. We need a new plan and it’s time to take action.

Dallas! Don’t put that gum near your sister’s hair. Remember what happened the last time? Oh, don’t cry, Shenandoah. Mummy will get it out. Now where did I hide the scissors?

Where was I? Oh yes. If ever there were two people who were meant to be together, they are Charlotte and Jack. They’ve been friends since childhood. They share a house, but not as a couple. They have each risked their lives to save the other. In fact, once— No! Madison, honey, don’t put the fork in the socket! Who took out the plug covers?

Right, okay, yes, Jack and Charlotte, or Charlotte and Jack if you prefer. Shouldn’t they let themselves have a chance at happiness? What’s holding them back?

I know that Charlotte is a bit uptight, but she has a good heart and Jack loves babies, in fact he is absolutely baby crazy. He'd love a house full of them!

I’ve never seen a man so suited for fatherhood. They’ve both been great to me, babysitting while I do some yoga to get the kinks out. I just know they’d be wonderful together, every bit as happy as I am. That is why I am proposing an intervention. I hope you will join me here in my home, when we try to bring them to their senses. We'll get them here, lock the doors and speak our minds. No more Mrs. Nice Guy.

Why it’s – excuse me— Is that water running in the bathroom? Who’s in there? Savannah? Where are you? What’s all that over the floor? It’s running down the stairs! Not again.

Sorry. Gotta run. Luckily I have the plumber on speed dial. No, baby, don’t put the pussycat in the—

I’d love to tell you more about Charlotte and Jack, but you see my problem. So before we finalize the details of the intervention, why don’t you get to know them in The Charlotte Adams Mysteries. The fifth and latest is The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder.

In the meantime, other advice? Suggestions? A plunger?

There's lots more at

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Besetting Sin

The musings of Ottilia Fanshawe, fresh from The Deathly Portent, second title in the Lady Fan Mystery Series by Elizabeth Bailey

I must suppose you are now aware of my penchant for “poking my nose” (as it was put by a certain creature for whom I could cherish no liking) into matters that are not strictly my concern. My poor darling Fan objects mightily, and I freely admit to taking advantage of his excessive indulgence towards me, but what is one to do?

While I admit I entered upon the event purely out of a spirit of curiosity, once in Witherley I was fairly caught. How could I leave the place, having found out so much? The dangers were visible from the start. And Francis, I am thankful to say, is apt to soften when he realises a matter of honour is in question.

No, I cannot castigate myself for remaining with the adventure once I had plunged in. But should I have plunged? Just so, you may say. Yet if I had not given in to that insatiable little demon of mine, what horrors might not have ensued? Bad enough as it was, but I flatter myself I was able to prevent a hideous miscarriage of justice and return the villagers to an echo of normality at least.

The worst of it is that I cannot promise not to give in again. Indeed, I don’t wish to, if you will have the truth. Dear me, I am near to confessing the worst!

Shall I say? Fan will complain that I blurt my words without thinking. He knows me too well. And he is perfectly aware that it is not curiosity that is my besetting sin, but rather the secret entertainment I derive from unravelling the mystery. There, it is said. A shocking fault, do you not think? Pray do not tell anyone or I shall find myself barred from the doors of all my friends and relations!

If you are not ready to cut me by this time, you may enquire further into my unorthodox activities at

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Manners Matter

By Miss Arabella Andrews from Meg London’s Sweet Nothings Lingerie Series
Murder Unmentionable coming September from Berkley Prime Crime

            It’s quite obvious that many people today don’t believe that manners are important.  It used to be that bad manners consisted of not holding the door for the person behind you or not rising to your feet when a woman entered the room.  Now you have people texting over dinner—with a companion, ignoring an elderly person or pregnant woman standing on the train or bus and having loud conversations on their cell phone in public places.

            Manners help to smooth the way.  A woman can certainly open her own door, but how nice to have a man do it for her.  And doesn’t it make you feel more comfortable to know which fork to use and that your napkin belongs in your lap and not tucked into your shirt?  My mother, a true Southern gentlewoman, also taught us that when offered a tray of canapés or petits fours you should take the one nearest you and not reach all the way across the platter.

            Of course no one puts out fish knives anymore, and women aren’t expected to retreat from the dinner table so men can enjoy their cigars and after dinner drinks.  But certain small courtesies still do count.  What do you think?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Not your ordinary museum

by Felicity Soames, Head Librarian at the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society (from Sheila Connollys Museum Mysteries)

It's about time I had a chance to say something. Quietly, of course, because I'm Felicity Soames, the Head Librarian for the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society. Before you jump to any conclusions, I'm not one of those crabby old biddies who shushes everybody—the ones who give librarians a bad name. In fact, I love to help people find whatever they want. It's kind of a challenge to me, when people arrive with only a few hours to figure out a couple of centuries of their family history, to see how much I can dig up in our records.

I've worked here forever. No, I'm not going to tell you how long, but I've seen three presidents come and go, and I'm still here. Now Nell Pratt runs the place. I guess the jury's still out on how long she'll last. Don't get me wrong—she's a great person, she works hard, and she's got a pretty good grasp of what we have here. And more important, she loves the stuff: she wins a lot of points with me when I find her somewhere in the stacks, almost drooling over an old book or manuscript—a woman after my own heart.

But what's with all the bodies? She's been president for maybe six months now, and in that time she's been involved in three murder investigations. Three! That can't be normal. But I'm happy to say that she recognizes my skills and she's asked me to help out now and then, which is a pleasant change for me (although you wouldn't believe some of the weird questions I get). And it's because of her and these blasted murders that I met Barney, an electrician with a real love for Philadelphia baseball history, something I just happen to know quite a bit about. It's been great seeing, er, helping him find what he's looking for. In the stacks.

Who knew that a library could be such an exciting place? We've got it all—murder, intrigue, a little canoodling (and if you don't know what that is, look it up!), and a whole lot of history, wrapped up in a single package. What more could anyone want? And if you have a question, just ask me!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mother's Day

By Kate Connolly from Diana Orgain's Maternal Instinct mystery series

My first ever Mother’s Day is coming up! I can’t believe Laurie is getting so big and that I’ve completed launched a new career since she was born. Okay, “launched” might be an exaggeration, but “started” for sure. Jim is asking what I want for Mother’s Day.

I know he’s thinking something along the lines of this beautiful ring

or maybe even this bracelet?

What is wrong with me, that I’m thinking about a lock pick set or fingerprint dusting kit ?

How about you? What are you hoping for this Mother’s day?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who Knew Fly Fishing Could Be Lethal?!

By Mandy Tanner from
Wicked Eddies, book 2 in the RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series
By Beth Groundwater

As a whitewater river ranger, I’ve been in more than my fair share of sketchy situations, where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it out of the rapids alive, or if the person I was trying to rescue was going to make it out alive. But, it sure surprised me to learn in Wicked Eddies how dangerous fly fishing can be!

Most of the fly fishers (men and women) I know are gentle souls because their time on the river bleeds the anger and angst out of them. But then I discovered the body of fisherman Howie Abbott in an Arkansas River campground! After calling for help, I wondered who in the world would want to kill a fisherman—with such rage?

Then I found out about the upcoming fly fishing tournament. People can turn anything, even the peaceful past-time of fly fishing into a competition. And, if you get people competing, then some of them can get riled up, especially if they find out someone was cheating—like Howie was. Another surprise was how my best bud, Cynthia Abbott, a bartender at “The Vic,” reacted to the news—as if she didn’t care that her uncle was dead. She was more worried about her missing niece who had run away from home. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for 15-year-old Faith.

Between working extra shifts to patrol the tournament beats and being on the investigative team for Howie Abbott’s case, I’ve got some overtime coming up. I’d much rather kick back with a Fat Tire beer in my hand on my lumpy old sofa, my dog Lucky on one side and my boyfriend Rob on the other. Though, Rob’s been getting serious lately, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that!

Who do you think might kill a fly fisherman? And don’t say his wife! Howie was single. Next guess? And has anyone tried whitewater rafting? On what rivers?

While you’re thinking of answers, check out the website of the author of Wicked Eddies, Beth Groundwater.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Little Bare-Naked Lola, by Jack Callaghan

By: Jack Callaghan
From: Bare-Naked Lola
Other books in the series: Living the Vida Lola and Hasta la Vista, Lola!
Pub. Date: May 2012 (early promotion on Amazon!)

Let me tell you about Lola Cruz.  I've wanted her since I was old enough to know what that meant, but she was always off limits.  I mean, her brother, Antonio, was my best friend in high school, and since I've been back in Sacramento, we hang out a lot.  

Just like old times.  

Except that I'm not willing to sacrifice my attraction for Lola for my friendship with her brother.  She's got me too hot and bothered for that.  First, she shows up at  my apartment, practically tosses the place, finds a box of Trojans, and confronts me.  I'm not sure if she thought I'd been celibate all the years I was in San Luis Obispo and she was here, and I might have always been thinking about her, but come on.  I'm a man and I was gone a lot of years.

Then she dances with me.  The salsa, which, in case you didn't know, is like sex...standing up.  

And as if that isn't enough, she takes a case as a Courtside dancer for the Sacramento Royals and ends up a nudist resort.  And their having some erotic Halloween bash that she has to go to.  You'll never guess what her costume is.  Good Catholic girl, my ass.  

But Lola's in my head and there's no getting her out.  I've asked her just how far she's willing to go for her job.  She hasn't answered me yet.  

I'll have to pin her down to get a response.  Literally.  

And that ought to be pretty damn fun.

*     *     *

Amazon has Bare-Naked Lola available as an early release, discounted from $14.99 to $8.51!  Order your copy today!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hoosier Hunting

By: Jaymie Leighton
From: The Vintage Kitchen Mystery Series
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Book 1 Title: A Deadly Grind
Pub. Date: May 2012

My sister, Becca, says I collect junk, but that's because, as a dealer in fine china and silver, she thinks anything that isn't bone china or silver is trash. It's true! Just ask her about my collection of Pyrex bowls, or vintage cookbooks. She doesn't get it.

But I know from the growing number of dealers and collectors of vintage kitchen collectibles that I'm not alone here. We all have our favorites. Some folks love the feel and look of old linens. I quite agree. There is nothing more beautiful than vintage damask. The older stuff has a lux feel and weight that is just not matched by the new stuff.

Others enjoy the look of vintage kitchen utensils. I'm with them! The old things are extremely functional, but I also like the colors; the cream and green painted bands, or smooth red of the handle... irreplaceable.

Still others are fascinated by old cookbooks. Absolutely! The recipes in them tend to be quite utilitarian, but even more fun sometimes are the truly weird recipes you come across, like Stuffed Possum,  or one I call Crown of Weenies, where you put hot dogs in a mould with Yorkshire pudding batter and bake. Hmm. Might be good, right? Or not.

And old bowls... now you're talking my language. I love the look and feel of old Pyrex, the bright colors, the smooth feel. And I use them all the time, though I'm careful. No microwaves for the old things, you know, and hand washing only.

I think we're beginning to see a theme here, and why my sister is cranky. My collecting has the vague overarching theme of 'kitchen stuff', but there is no one category. I want it all, and I think it contributes to a neat look in the kitchen, like time stopped sometime in the nineteen-fifties.

All I need now is a Hoosier kitchen cabinet on which to display my vintage finds. I've got some estate sales and auctions lined up for May, and I hope I'll find THE thing, a real Hoosier. If I do, there is nothing stopping me from buying it, even if I have to bonk someone over the head to get it. That's not a threat, it's a promise... LOL. But don't tell Becca. She'll freak if she finds out I'm looking for that one big piece for the kitchen that will hold and display the rest of my stuff.

So... do you collect? And if you do, is it in one specific area, or are you all over the map, like me? And what would you do to get that one special piece?


From the author: As you can see by the book cover, Jaymie finds her Hoosier - among other things - and murder happens. My release day is close - May 1st - and I'm excited for you all to learn what happens when Jaymie buys a bunch of her beloved 'junk' at auction in the first Vintage Kitchen Mystery!

Read an excerpt on my website and watch my blog for release week fun!

Check out Victoria Hamilton online:
Victoria Hamilton Mysteries -
Twitter: @MysteryVictoria

Friday, April 20, 2012

What Do You Do When Your Life is Stolen?

Francie Vanderhoosen

blogs for

The Domestic Diva Mysteries

by Krista Davis

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Francine Vanderhoosen, Sophie Winston's next door neighbor.  I've lived in Old Town most of my adult life.  I know some people pass me off as a cranky old woman, but I don't care.  You get to an age in life where you just tell the truth.  No more pussyfooting around and being fake about things.  Today I invited my friend Olive Greene to blog, but it's not her cuppa, so I figured I'd tell you about her myself.

Olive is the salt of the earth.  She lives to garden.  She couldn't care less about fancy clothes or expensive cars, but you wouldn't believe the gorgeous gardens behind her former home.  She doesn't go in for meticulously trimmed, topiary kind of stuff.  She likes a natural landscape, where bees and birds come because they think they've found heaven.

Olive married Roscoe Greene about a million years ago.  Worked out pretty well for them because his family owned a gardener's supply company called Planter's Punch.  As luck had it, though, old Roscoe's eyes wandered over to his spring chicken of a secretary, Mindy.

Let's just omit the drama and get to the facts.  That little gold digger is now Mrs. Roscoe Greene and living in Olive's home!  What a nightmare.  Apparently Mindy wore a crown at her wedding. What does that tell you? 

Olive handled it in her usual graceful manner.  She bought herself a house and has been busy transforming the lot into a spectacular garden.

She doesn't like to talk about it much, but I know Olive hurts.  To be tossed out and replaced by a younger model like a broken old jalopy is just horrible.

Every year the Greenes host a Picnic and Open House at their home -- Olive's previous home, that is -- the one with the gorgeous gardens that she toiled on for decades.  I'm sorry to say that they didn't even have the decency to invite Olive this year!  We might have crow's feet and liver spots but don't count us out.  We still have a few tricks up our sleeves.  Don't you think Mindy deserves a little comeuppance?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Isabel Gonzales States her Case

Isabel Gonzales speaks in
by Kari Lee Townsend

Hello? Anyone in here? Oh, hi, there you are. It's kind of dark in this blog, but I see you all watching me. Judging me.

You really shouldn't, you know. You don't know anything about me, but you will after June 5th when I will finally get to state my case.

Oh, all right, you twisted my arm. I'm Detective Mitch Stone's ex-girlfriend from New York City. It's not my fault Mitch is so angry. Well, okay, it might actually be, but come on. We've all seen him in action. The man was born grumpy!

All I'm trying to do is right a wrong. To make peace, if you will. But the stubborn man won't even hear me out. That's where Sunshine Meadows comes in. She's supposed to be a "real" psychic, but I tell you the woman is as flaky as a croissant from my favorite cafe back in the city. I mean who willingly names herself Sunny? I'm with her parents. Sylvia is a perfectly good respectable name.

I've heard she has a thing for the detective, but she can forget it. Mitch has always been mine, he just has to remember what it used to be like between us. So I go to Sunny's Sanctuary and she gives me a reading from a crystal ball. THIS is why I think she's crazy. The things she saw can't possibly happen to me. I've paid for the mistakes I made. This is supposed to be my fresh start. My "do-over" with Detective Hotstuff. Will Mitch and I make up, or will Sunny's crazy predictions come true? Guess you'll just have to wait and find out.

In the meantime, you can pre-order my story here.

To find out more about Kari and all of her books, go to her website at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How I Have Changed

by Kiki Lowenstein, star of Ready, Scrap, Shoot (Midnight Ink/April 2012), the fifth book in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery series by Joanna Campbell Slan

My ghost author, Joanna Campbell Slan, is busy getting ready to go to Malice Domesticin Bethesda, MD, and Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA. At Malice, she'll moderate one panel and be a participant in another. It's been a busy week for her and me with the release of Ready, Scrap, Shoot, the fifth book in my series. I know that Joanna's been thinking about one particular question she'll be asked at Malice, and I wanted to weigh on it because, ahem, it really is all about me.

See, the moderator asked Joanna to be thinking about the ways in which I've changed. And golly, don't you know I have? It's been nearly seven years since Paper, Scissors, Death was first written, the first book in my series. Back then, I was the stereotypical stay-at-home soccer mom, who lived in a McMansion in a fancy suburb of St. Louis. Today I'm a widow, working full-time, living in a converted garage, in a quirky suburb of St. Louis. Besides losing my husband, the biggest change has been that I'm gainfully employed, doing something I love.

I love Time in a Bottle, the scrapbook store where I work. When Dodie Goldfader offered me the job, I was lost-er than last year's Easter egg. My husband had just died. I was finding out all sorts of unpleasant facts about his life. My whole world had turned upside-down. I didn't know where to start picking up the pieces. Dodie suggested I take it one day at a time, beginning with coming to work with her.

Now my life revolves around my daughter, my friends, and the store.

What a difference it makes in life to have meaningful work! A reason to get up in the morning. A place to go with people who share your interests. A way to express yourself, to add value in this world, and to make money.

I love what I do. I help people preserve their memories, and mainly those are good memories. Sometimes I help them put sad memories to rest. Like when a mother has had a miscarriage or when someone has passed on. Heck, I've even done a divorce album or two. The act of committing your memories to paper can free you to move on. I've seen that happen countless times.

Our store is a gathering spot for people. Recently Joanna visited the Paper Niche, a scrapbook store in Davie, Florida. She was struck anew by the camaraderie, by the close friendships the customers had developed. This weekend she'll be at Everything Scrapbooks & Stamps in Lake Worth, Florida. It's her second visit there, and last time she and the women at the store had a blast laughing and learning together.

Someday maybe she'll visit Time in a Bottle. When Joanna does, she'll probably find me hunched over a work table, helping a customer save her memories. I think she'll recognize me, even though I've changed.

Yes, I've grown as a person. I'm more confident, more assertive, and happier. Some of that is because I'm older, and life has a way of forcing you to grow up. But mainly I think I've changed because I have a wonderful job, and it's brought out the best in me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Tax Day!

by Savannah Martin, from Jenna Bennett’s Cutthroat Business mysteries

One good thing about being poor is that you don’t have to worry overmuch about your taxes. I spent the first half of last year working behind the makeup counter at Dillards—not a job designed to bring in big bucks—and right about the middle of the summer, I got my real estate license and started living off my savings instead. All of last fall, I had less than a half dozen real estate closings, so that doesn’t amount to much, either, neither in terms of paperwork nor in terms of money.

Yes, I’ve pretty much balanced on the poverty line for the past year. A far cry from the way I grew up, a Martin of Sweetwater.

But that’s what happens when you divorce the man who was supposed to love and cherish and support you in the manner to which you’ve been accustomed. Your income drops. I could have arranged for Bradley to give me alimony, I suppose, and had a steady income for a while—my sister Catherine, who handled my divorce, wanted to nail his hide to the wall—but the truth is, by the time it was all said and done, I just wanted to be rid of him. So I agreed to a settlement instead—that and my Volvo—and that’s what I’ve been living on since I quit the makeup counter.

But at least it made the taxes easy to do. I did them myself, since I couldn’t in good conscience pay someone else to do it, both because it was money I couldn’t spare, and because I ought to be able to add up a few columns of numbers. We Southern Belles aren’t actually stupid; we’re just meant to appear that way. No man likes a woman who’s smarter than he.

I even managed to come out ahead, by almost $50. Enough for a tank of gas. Or a new dress, if I shop at Target instead of Neiman-Marcus.

So what about you? Are your taxes done? Did you do them yourself? And what do you plan to do with your refund?  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Someone Needs Killing!

Consignment: Murder series Berkley Prime Crime October, 2012

I can't tell you who I am because then you'll call the police and I'll go to jail. What I can tell you is there's this woman here in Savannah and she needs killing bad!

She treats folks downright terrible, swindling them out of money, bribing some and blackmailing others. She acts all uppity and thinks she’s better than everyone else, breaks up marriages and even called my dog a mutt! The question was how to git rid of her...permanently?

There are so many wonderful choices that do the job fine. Pulling a trigger is fast and easy. You have to dispose of the weapon so it can’t get traced back to you but it works just great. Bang! Dead! Body on ground! Done!

What about a knife. That’s sort of personal ‘cause you have to get close to the person that needs killing. That can be real good if you’ve been wanting them dead for a while and it finally happens. Yippee!

Then there’s the poison route. They say it’s the number one choice for women. My guess it that women do all the cleaning in this world and the thought of making a big mess…and stabbing and knifing is so very messy…women want things neat and tidy. Drink poison, drop over dead. Easy-peasy.

Suffocation works but I think it’s hard to hold someone down and keep the pillow over their face. It takes a while to pull it off and trying to keep someone still while depriving them of oxygen sounds like a whole lot of work if you ask me.

Banging on the head works good. Whack! The person needing killing falls to the floor and lights out! This is usually a crime of passion where someone pisses someone off and they just need to be knocked! This is how I feel!

So my question is how should I knock off this person who needs killing? What is your favorite method of getting rid of someone…permanently??

See you later...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Love Song to Spring

In the style of Dorothy Parker

Behold the spring in all its glory!

(Believe that, I'll tell another story.)

Doff our winter hat and coat.

(Now allergies have us by the throat.)

Softly blow the April breezes.

(Causing itchy eyes and frequent sneezes.)

Gather the zinnias and nasturtiums.

(Toss 'em down the toilet and flursh 'em.)

Wreathe me in violet and daffodil.

(Someone get me a Benadryl.)

Roll me in heather and in clover!

(Wake me when this season's over!)

Dorothy Parker from J.J. Murphy’s Algonquin Round Table Mysteries likes to stay "in" during the spring---in night clubs, in speakeasies, inebriated…

The first book in the series, MURDER YOUR DARLINGS, is nominated for an Agatha Award in the Historical category. The second book, YOU MIGHT AS WELL DIE, is available now. Follow along at and at

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Polly Wants a Clue

by Gloryanna "Glory" Martine
first in the Haunted Gift Shop series
by Christy Fifield

Growing up, I always thought I wanted a pet. A nice kitty, or a dog. Maybe even a hamster, or a turtle. It never crossed my mind to wish for a parrot. Especially one with an extensive vocabulary of words that can't be used in polite company.

But that's what I got when my Great Uncle Louis died. Not right away, since the parrot in question-his name's Bluebeard-lived in Uncle Louis's souvenir shop, Southern Treasures, here in Keyhole Bay, just north of Pensacola, Florida.

I was only ten when Uncle Louis left me the parrot, and a fifty-five percent interest in the shop. The other forty-five percent belongs to my cousin Peter, but he lives a couple hours away, has a Master's degree that makes him think he knows absolutely everything, and has never worked in retail.

Doesn't stop him from offering his (ridiculous) advice on how to run the shop.

Peter and his folks are all the family I have left, and I really feel the lack, living in a small Southern town that measures residency in generations instead of years.

That is, they were all I had left, until Uncle Louis showed up again. It seems Uncle Louis, another loner in this family-centric small town, never really left Southern Treasures. His ghost hung around, and recently he's started talking to me.

Now, I don't understand how this all works, and he hasn't exactly explained it, but when the local football star got killed in a car crash, Bluebeard told me it wasn't an accident. And he was right. Well, that is, Uncle Louis was right.

Do you see how confusing this all is?

Just imagine trying to explain to your friends that you're living with a ghost of a long-dead relative, who just happens to talk to you through a parrot.

Yeah, that's been interesting!

I've asked him what he's doing here, and why he waited almost twenty-five years to say anything, but he doesn't answer. He just keeps making sideways remarks until I puzzle out what he's talking about.

Problem is, figuring out his cryptic messages can get me into trouble. Like coming face-to-face with a murderer.

You would think he'd try to keep me safe, but that apparently isn't his job.

It's not like he wants to leave, either. Despite what you see on TV, this is one ghost that isn't interested in moving on, or crossing over, or whatever it is that ghosts do.

No, Uncle Louis is intent on hanging around, flirting with every pretty girl that comes in, getting me into trouble, and meddling in my love life.

Did I mention, I'm starting to kind of like it?

After all, family is where you find it, and I think I've found mine, with Uncle Louis, and the friends who know about him.

So, you may think this is crazy, and you're free to disagree, but I believe in ghosts, how about you?

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Unexpected

By Sharyn Howard of the Sharyn Howard Mysteries
From Joyce and Jim Lavene

How do you handle the unexpected things that happen in your life? When a tragedy happens, what can you do to make it right?

My father was the sheriff of Diamond Springs, North Carolina, a small, rural community outside Charlotte, for more than 20 years. He taught me right from wrong. I learned by his example every day.

I never thought about following in his footsteps. I wanted to be a lawyer. That was my future - until that terrible Sunday morning.

A man my father had arrested for a crime got out of jail. He bought a gun and shot my father while he was buying milk at the local convenience store. It was only a few blocks from home. My mother and I, along with our community, mourned him.

Maybe the worst part was that the police knew who'd killed him from the surveillance tapes. They just couldn't find him. Diamond Springs is a mountainous area with plenty of areas to hide. We all knew the killer was somewhere out there, probably close to town. We had to wait for him to strike again. Who knew when it would happen?

Some members of the local political party, the ones that would decide who would take my father's place as sheriff, came to talk to me about being that person. It would only be temporary, until they could arrange a special election. They just needed someone from their party to hold the spot.

I couldn't imagine being that person - sitting in my father's chair every day, seeing his picture on the wall of the sheriff's office. Then I thought about his friends, his deputies, who always came to my birthday parties when I was growing up and had shared my life in so many ways. Especially Ernie, Dad's Chief Deputy. He'd been there forever. I knew I could count on his help.

I knew this would be what my father would have wanted me to do.

And I figured I could catch his killer, and the people who put him up to it, better than anyone else alive.

What did I do with the tragedy that came into my life? I fought back!

Look for LAST DANCE, the first book in the Sharyn Howard Mysteries from Avalon Books in hardback and now in paperback from Harlequin.
Facebook: Joyce and Jim Lavene
Twitter: @author54

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tax Time!

by Marcy Singer of The Long Stitch Goodnight, by Amanda Lee

You probably think it's weird for an embroidery shop owner to be reminding you about tax time, right? But I was an accountant in San Francisco for years before I followed my dream and opened the Seven-Year Stitch. A lot of people know that, but many others don't. I recently used someone's ignorance of my past career to my advantage when I needed to talk with an economics professor. (Trust me, that one came back to bite me squarely on the butt!)

See, Todd had a Saint Patrick's Day party and reunion for his fraternity brothers. He held the party at the Brew Crew, so naturally, most of them got plastered. At the end of the evening, one of the frat boys was dead; and Blake and Todd were the only ones in the room with him when he died.

Not being at the party ourselves and desperate to clear Blake and Todd of a murder we knew they didn't commit, Sadie and I had to talk with the people who were there to find out what really happened. Okay, mostly, I had to talk with them. Sadie was pretty much trying to find an attorney, run MacKenzies' Mochas by herself, and avoid a nervous breakdown.

Since I figured one of the frat boys was likely the murderer, I didn't want to come right out and reveal my real reason for wanting to talk with these men. One was an economics professor, so I asked him to give me some tax tips. Naturally, that big-mouthed Keira who hates the very ground I walk on, told the guy that I'd been an accountant in San Francisco. He thought I was using the ruse to try to seduce him! Grrr! I finally had to break down and tell him the truth. He had a harder time buying the truth than he did the seduction ploy.

Still, I know some of the readers of this blog are authors, so you can click this link for some sound business advice specifically for writers from Carol Topp, CPA.

So, 'fess up. Have any of you ever been caught in a teensy white lie? If so, how did you handle it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Casey Dishes About the White House Gardens

By: Casey Calhoun, White House Organic Gardener

First rule for working at the White House: expect the unexpected. Whatever I have planned to do on any given day, I arrive at work prepared to toss those plans out the window and do whatever is asked of me. Take for example the earthquake that shook D.C. last year and sent everyone scurrying for cover.

Gordon Sims, who’s weathered nearly every disaster imaginable in his years as head gardener, caught several books as they danced off their shelves and set them on his desk just as a shriek sounded from down the hallway. Memories from 9/11 run deep through these hallowed hallways. The deep rumbling and violent shaking down here in the White House’s basement triggered some well-placed fears that terrorists were attacking.

A Secret Service agent jogged down the hall to reassure everyone. “It’s an earthquake, not an attack. Just to be on the safe side, we’re asking everyone to evacuate.” Which we did in a neat and orderly fashion. I grabbed my gardening gloves and my hand trimmers on the way out. The devil won’t bother with busy hands, as my grandmother likes to tell me.

I grew up in Charleston, SC, a city with several earthquake fault lines running near its old (and sometimes rickety) buildings. Shaking and rattling isn’t that unusual. Don’t forget the great earthquake of 1886. Afterwards, many buildings in Charleston had to be pulled back together with great metal bars. Those bars can still be seen in the older buildings today.

“Casey,” Gordon whispers, “you’re supposed to be talking about the White House, not Charleston.”

“Gracious, how did I manage to stray so far away from the point? I believe I need to take some time off and visit Grandmother Faye and Rosebrook. I’m homesick.”

“You could invite your grandmother up here,” Gordon suggests. “I’d love to meet her.”

I’d love for him to meet her, too. But I’m not sure I’m ready for my genteel grandmother to meet Special Agent Jack Turner. He’s a counter assault team member of the Secret Service. He’s also deadly handsome, deadly serious, and just plain deadly.

To keep on his good side, I’d started bringing a gourmet cappuccino to give Jack on my way through the White House’s iron gates in the morning. Not that I ever know when he’s on duty. It’s frustrating, but that’s how the Secret Service operates...secretive as all get out.

This morning, like most mornings, Gordon and I stood at the base of the North Portico and watched as the capital city woke up. I sipped on Jack’s cappuccino while Gordon and I discussed the gardens.

Some days we get to spend all day working out under the sun in the gardens or out at the greenhouses with the rest of the grounds crew. Other days we’re stuck inside answering questions from the press, ordering new supplies from our approved vendors, dealing with mounds of paperwork, or stuck in meetings. There tends to be tons of meetings, but that’s government for you. Write it down, talk about it, talk about it some more, then get to work.

“Tell them about the volunteers.” Gordon nudges me with his elbow.

“They are wonderful.” Besides the Nation Park Service grounds crew who help out in the gardens, we’re blessed to have some great volunteers from both the White House and West Wing staff as well as from the general D.C. public. White House chefs have been especially keen on working in the First Lady’s brand new Kitchen Garden.

But it’s the West Wing staff who have caused me the most headaches. They mean well, but I really have to watch what they’re doing or else I’ll find that the vegetable plants have been pulled out of the ground, and the weeds left behind. Yes! It has happened. More than once.

And don’t even get me started about the time I pried a suicide note out of Milo’s mouth. Milo, by the way, is the President’s naughty goldendoodle rescue puppy. Gordon and I try to keep the pup out of trouble, but he seems to have a knack for finding it. Oddly enough, the Secret Service thinks I do, too.

You’ll have read The Scarlet Pepper to hear about the note Milo found and the heap of trouble it caused for everyone...especially me.

Don’t miss Casey’s first misadventure in the White House gardens. Flowerbed of State, the 1st book in the White House Gardener mystery series, is available now from Berkley Prime Crime.

 * * * * * * *
Dorothy St. James writes the White House Gardener Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Flowerbed of State is the first book in the series. Be sure to grab your copy while they're still available! Visit with Dorothy on the web or at Facebook. Or follow her on Twitter.
"Credible characters, a fast-paced plot, and a light look at political life in Washington, D.C., will delight cozy fans."
~ Publishers Weekly
"This spunky new romantic suspense series is an obvious pick for readers who enjoy Julie Hyzy's "White House Chef" series (Buffalo West Wing), but also think of gardening mystery series such as Rosemary Harris's (Slugfest)." ~ Library Journal
Order Flowerbed of State from your favorite bookseller. 
The Scarlet Pepper!
  Order The Scarlet Pepper from your favorite bookseller today!