Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Gift


By Mark W. Danielson

I’m often told that writing is a gift, but I’m not so sure about that.  You see, anyone can write if they dedicate enough time to it, but not everyone receives positive feedback.  For me, the gift comes from readers’ compliments.  I find this far more rewarding than any financial gain. 

I consider myself fortunate to write as a sideline.  While I take my writing very seriously, I don’t concern myself with making a living at it.  I write novels for enjoyment, and compose non-fiction articles when there is a need.  I applaud those who earn a living writing novels because the competition is fierce.  If I had to write for a living, I would probably stick with magazine articles because they pay up front.  The problem is characters never come to life in non-fiction.

Recently, I attended my twelfth Men of Mystery event in Irvine, California.  It is always magical spending time with mystery fans and meeting other mystery authors and it is truly a privilege to be invited back.  Many of the attendees have become friends and have recommended my books to their friends.  I am always flattered when I hear this, but the real beauty in attending is hearing positive feedback directly from my fans.

This year one lady came up to me at my signing table and said she bought Danger Within for her son.  She started reading it to make sure it was suitable for him and said she couldn’t put it down.  Her son didn’t get it until she had read it all the way through.  Another lady spent several minutes talking about how she loved the characters in Writer’s Block.  She was happy to hear its sequel would be out next year.  I have never received a bad review or bad feedback, and I take pride in that.  For me, positive compliments are the icing on the cake.

When authors write for the joy of it, they are more inclined to produce good work than those that face publisher deadlines.  Not to say both aren’t possible, but deadlines can certainly take the joy out of writing.  It is evident when a story begins strong and then wraps up in a flash because the author had run out of time.  Whenever you write, never forget why you became an author, and never forget the gift that comes from your readers.  Without them, our words are lost.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mini-Law School 4


The most recent session of the Mini-Law School I’m attending at the University of Colorado covered family law. Early family law was based on status (function of birth) but has evolved to a contract basis. There are two systems involved: 1. Marriage and divorce, and 2. Parenthood, insuring the welfare of children. With the evolution of no-fault divorce, there still remain two sticking points: 1. Dividing up a house and pensions, and 2. Debate over earning potential. Divorce rates are now at 41%, down over the last few years. An interesting statistic stated the by professor—before 1980 the divorce rates for women with college education and those without were the same. Now, the divorce rate for women without college degrees are above 50%. 

Mike Befeler

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shopping, Reading, Football, or Writing?


by June Shaw

What do you enjoy doing most during this Thanksgiving season?

Yes, I believe the majority of us are lucky enough to be able to say what we love best is being with family. That's certainly what my mother said while she was here with us--family and all the things we have to be grateful for. And then of course, like most of us, she'd say, "Food!"

So now that we're stuffed, and our beloved families go back to their daily activities, what do you like to do?

Do you get in line when it's dark and early for Good Friday deals? What about Saturday shopping? Were you out there spry-eyed this morning to hit the smaller shops that release unique items? Are you a person who loves all the extra football this Thanksgiving weekend, so you look forward to getting your fill?

Possibly you enjoy having an extra day or so off so you can get to read more. Maybe you can concentrate enough with all of the extra preparation and people and football--and can spend more time writing.

That's what I'm trying to do. What I love best about this season is more time spent with family. I enjoy the different food and try not to stuff too much. I watched LSU and will grab my pom-poms and clackers when the Saints play, but these are things I normally do on weekends. One of my granddaughters has a soccer game I'll go and watch today, and a friend has his first booksigning, so I'll go to those. Right now I'm giving thanks because I have this period of time in which I'll write more on my next book.

What do you love doing the most during this season of Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A THANKSGIVING STORY


By Jackie King

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of mine, and being thankful is no problem. Years ago, without even knowing all of the perks that would be included, I gave birth to a delightful baby girl who would grow up loving to cook! Her name is Jennifer King Sohl, wife of a Tulsa Firefighter and mother of redheaded twins, a boy and a girl. She not only cooks Thanksgiving dinner for me, but for our entire family and a few lucky friends.

Jennifer and I wrote a book together titled DEVOTED TO COOKING that featured true family stories. One that was told to me by June Butts, seems perfect for Thanksgiving Day.
L to R Jackie King, Jennifer Sohl and Guest


MEMORIES OF PAPA PEELING PECANS FOR THE GRANDKIDS

“We called our grandfather, Papa,” June Butts, now a grandmother herself, said. “Back in those days different generations of the family lived in the same house, and it was wonderful to grow up with an older person telling you stories and teaching you about the generations past.”

The comely woman smiled and the faraway look in her blue eyes told me she had transported herself back to South Texas and a simpler life, sometime in the 1950’s.

“We had a pecan tree and Papa peeled pecans for the kids. We’d sit in a circle at his feet, listen to his tales, and eat the perfectly shelled and halved nuts as he passed them around.”

“Peeled pecans?” I asked, trying to imagine how such a feat might be possible. “How could he do that?”

It was Thanksgiving Day and I had been invited to join June’s family for a traditional dinner of turkey, dressing and all of the trimmings. We were sitting around the table drinking coffee and savoring that mellow sated satisfaction that fills a group of friends during happy times.

“With his pocket knife,” June said.

“His pocket knife?” I asked. “You’re kidding.”

“I’m not!” June’s robust laugh was typical of a woman who was Texas born and bred. “He peeled those pecans just the same way you’d peel an orange. He’d slice off the top and the bottom, cut slits around the nuts and then just peel off the hulls. Those pecans came out in perfect halves and he’d hand them to us kids.”

“That must have been one sharp knife,” I said, wondering how he kept from cutting off his fingers.

“That it was,” June said. “And he could peel those nuts really fast. Sometimes he’d peel enough for Mama to make us some pies.” She sighed with remembered pleasure. “Mmm—mmm—mmm, those pies were good! We never had much money, but we had happy times, anyway. God was always good to my family.”

“I’ll bet you learned to cook from your own mother,” I said.

“Sure did. Mama and Daddy had eleven kids, and I was helping stir up dinner as soon as I could hold a spoon and stand on a stool to reach the table.”

It happened that we were drinking Texas Pecan flavored coffee. I took a sip of the hot brew and savored the rich flavor. Pecans, family and holidays equal pure pleasure, I thought. Everyone sitting at the table owned their own cell phones and most had computers, but some things never change. The memory of “peeled pecans,” outranked any of the electronic pleasures available to any of the diners.

Only the delicious food that we shared stayed the same.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Valley of the Shadow

by Carola

My third Cornish Mystery comes out in a couple of weeks in hardcover from St Martin's Minotaur. The Valley of the Shadow already has some nice reviews and has been picked for the Independent Bookstores Great Reads list for December.







Eleanor Trewynn is a widow who worked all over the world before retiring to a Cornish fishing village. Her retirement has turned out rather more exciting than she expected.

In The Valley of the Shadow, she and her Westie, her next-door neighbour Nick, and her niece Megan, a police detective  go for a walk down a narrow valley opening between cliffs to the sea.In the inlet a man floats, barely alive when Megan and Nick manage to haul him from the water. He's an Indian. He mumbles incoherent words which suggest his family is trapped in a cave somewhere and his mother is dying.

The hunt begins for the family--if they exist--and for the heartless villain who left them to die.

These are pics of Rocky Valley, on the North Coast of Cornwall, which inspired the beginning of the story:











(The cover art is more suggestive of Falmouth, where the story ends.)


The first two books in the series are Manna from Hades (just out in paperback) and A Colourful Death. All available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favourite independent bookstore.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Righteous Among the Nations – Luis Martins de Souza Dantas

by Leighton Gage




This is GetĂșlio Vargas, the dictator of Brazil between 1930 and 1945.


And this is Luis Martins de Souza Dantas, Brazil’s wartime ambassador to France. Souza Dantas was already serving in Paris when Vargas came to power.


And he was still there in May of 1940, when Hitler invaded the country.


In July of that year, the French government, under the new leadership of Marshall Petain, moved to Vichy.


Souza Dantas moved with it, and it was there, in March of 1943, that the Nazis broke into his office and arrested him.

But, in the intervening, 34 months, Souza Dantas, challenging two dictators at once, was able to save an estimated 800 people from extermination.

Here’s the story:

Vargas’s dictatorship, although nowhere near as brutal as that of Hitler’s, had a strict immigration policy. Diplomats had instructions not to issue visas to “undesirables”. And those “undesirables”, it was specifically stated, included Jews, Communists and Homosexuals.
Souza Dantas issued visas to them anyway.


And he instructed the Brazilian consuls in Cadiz, Casablanca, Paris, Marseilles and Lyon, all of whom reported to him, to do likewise.


When Jews started showing up in Brazilian ports in unprecedented numbers, Souza Dantas was severely reprimanded. He ignored the reprimand and continued to issue the visas.
But he began issuing them in his own hand, so as not to bring down the wrath of the authorities on any member of his staff.
On the 12th of December, 1940, when the flow of refugees still hadn’t stopped, he was ordered to stop issuing visas. Period. He got around that by backdating them, and he was still backdating them when the Nazis arrested him.   

I expect that, before you read this post, you’d never heard of Luis Martins de Souza Dantas.
You won’t find his name in any schoolbooks, even here in Brazil.
But there are many who owe their lives, and the lives of their offspring, to his courageous actions.
His reward? After the war, he was made to resign for insubordination.

On a personal note, Souza Dantas was the great uncle of Elisa Dormoy, my wife’s closest friend.
If he had lived long enough, I would have had the opportunity to shake his hand.
And one of the frustrations of my life is that he died before I got the chance to do it.





Friday, November 16, 2012

Settings as Secondary Characters


By Jean Henry Mead
Selecting your novel's setting is important because it not only adds color to the plot, it serves as a secondary character. People against nature has created countless adventures, from Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea to Jack London's story, "To Build a Fire."  Stranding someone in the middle of the Sahara Desert is far more intriguing than having a car stolen from a city street, so  settings should be considered carefully.
 
My amateur sleuths travel in a motorhome about the West and the setting changes with each book. Although Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty began solving murders in their California retirement village, Dana inherits her sister’s mansion in Wyoming, so the settings change considerably. Both 60-year-old widows are feisty and determined to get to the bottom of each mystery they encounter. In Diary of Murder, Logan and Cafferty are forced to drive through a Rocky Mountain blizzard in their motorhome, an experince I'd had years earlier.  In Murder on the Interstate, they're caught in torrential rain when they discover the body of a young woman in her Mercedes convertible in Arizona.
 
In my fourth and most recent novel, Gray Wolf Mountain, the setting is Wyoming’s Laramie Mountains, an area I know well because I live there. I also set a children’s mystery, Ghost of Crimson Dawn, on our ranch for the Hamilton Kids’ mystery series. The possibilities are endless in the mountains and have provided me with the backdrop for a mystery which includes the unwarranted killings of wolves by trigger-happy hunters. I researched the problem in Wyoming, and was shocked to learn that the situation exists in other states as well as Canada. The wolves are shot en masse from helicopters in the Yukon to increase the Caribou herd to 100,000, solely for the benefit of big game hunters. The Yukon is a setting that few writers have ventured to write about.

My themes usually encompass social problems and I incorporate humor and a little romance to prevent the storyline from becoming dreary. By setting each plot in an unusual area, it hopefully enhances reader awareness and interest by educating as well as entertaining him or her.
Gray Wolf Mountain is available in print and on Kindle.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anthology Submission: Cold War Short Stories


I just discovered the press release for the 2014 Mystery Writers of America short story anthology. I found it, oddly enough, not on the MWA site, but on the Bond Books site. It makes sense, since it's being edited by two James Bond authors, Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson.  The anthology is supposed to be called, ICE COLD: Tales of Mystery and Intrigue from the Cold War and is scheduled for release in 2014. I don't have the submission details yet, but I'll track them down and add them as soon as I can find them. In the meantime, those of you like Chester, who write Cold War novels might want to start churning out some ideas. Here's the press release:

The Publications Committee of Mystery Writers of America is delighted to invite our members to submit original short stories for the next MWA anthology to be published in 2014. We are very pleased to announce that this new anthology of original short stories will be co-edited by Raymond Benson and Jeffery Deaver. These two outstanding writers, the only two American authors of official James Bond novels, have joined forces to edit our annual anthology of original short stories. 
Centered on the Cold War, this book will let our members unleash their own interpretations of a tense and scary era in history. Raymond and Jeff will each write an original story for this exciting anthology and have invited other top MWA members to do so as well: Joseph Finder, John Lescroart, Laura Lippman, J. A. Jance, T. Jefferson Parker, Sara Paretsky, Katherine Neville, and Gayle Lynds with John Sheldon.
Ten new stories will be selected by an expert MWA panel from a pool of blind submissions by our current members. Members in any category of membership may submit stories -- you do not need to be previously published, but you must be a member in good standing (dues paid). 
Please consider joining these ten outstanding authors in this exciting venture. Stay within the theme, and send in your story by February 1st for consideration by our panel of judges. Here is the final title and theme for this thrilling project: 
Ice Cold:
Tales of Mystery and Intrigue from the Cold War
Edited by Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson 
“Spies. Femme fatales. Shady diplomats. Covert meetings in foreign cities. Nervous political leaders. Nuclear threats and brinksmanship. Paranoia. The Cold War had all of these and much, much more. The frigid time between 1945 and 1989 was a real-world maze of dead drops, double (and triple) agents, and clandestine meetings—and betrayals.
Sharpen your writing instruments to pen stories set during this terrifying time, when war between the superpowers was a frightening possibility that could be jump- started at the touch of a button. The Cold War background lends itself to a variety of stories—mystery, thriller, pulp, noir—each one highlighting the danger and fear that stalked secret agents, reporters, or even everyday citizens. So flip up the collar on your trench coat, and make sure you aren’t being followed as you step into the shadowy world of the Cold War.”
It's always been one of my goals to be in a Mystery Writers of America anthology. I don't know if this one is my forte, but it's always good to stretch your writing wings. Time to brainstorm!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Harvest Moon




          (Photo of 2012 Bay Area Harvest Moon, photographer unknown) 

By Mark W. Danielson

In layman’s terms, the Harvest Moon is the full moon that is closest to the fall equinox.  I have many memories of them.  As a kid, I once pedaled my bike over a hill at sunset and unexpectedly came face-to-face with a huge yellow one that was at least a gazillion miles wide.  Petrified, I raced home and hid under my bed until my heart slowed.  Many moons later at age seventeen, my fifteen year old buddy and I were camping under the wing of my rented airplane at a small airport near Mount Shasta.  Since we had the only airplane on the airfield and it was quite dark, Dan and I swapped lies while star gazing and munching on the Kentucky Fried Chicken Momma June got for us earlier that day.  Suddenly all was quiet as a red glow appeared over the Sierra Nevada, silhouetting the mountains.  As the glow intensified, we anxiously spoke about fire season and how quickly fires spread this time of year.  Just as we were about to slide out of our sleeping bags and notify the authorities, the top of the full moon peeked over the ridge.  Relieved, we laughed and swapped more stories as the moon made its Heavenly ascent.

Like the sun, the moon also has a dark side.  On October 29, 2012, the full moon’s high tide, a cold front, and Hurricane Sandy created a perfect storm that bulldozed New York City and the New Jersey coast.  Soon after Sandy made landfall, the Manhattan skyline went dark, making technology on every level worthless.  Granted, this storm’s path was a fluke, but it should always remind us that our frail existence is far too dependent upon energy and outside help. 

On September 29th, the east and west coasts both enjoyed the beginning of a Harvest Moon.  This particular moon will forever hold special meaning to my family.  On this night my father and mother admired it from the deck of their Napa, California, apartment.  For two hours they held hands, sharing memories of their sixty-four wonderful years together.  The next morning, the actual date of the 2012 Harvest Moon, Dad was gone.  He passed in seconds and never suffered.  We are all grateful for that.

Four weeks later, we celebrated my father’s life under another near full moon.  As fate would have it, this was the same moon that wreaked havoc on the east coast, yet in Napa, it shined as a beautiful reminder of my father’s life and his last evening with his bride. 

Heaven does not recognize east or west, political boundaries, war, devastation, bloodshed, or sorrow.  It is a peaceful place where Dad now lives.  I feel his presence every day, and in time I hope to join him.  Until then, Dad, God bless you, and thanks for everything.  I miss you dearly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What does the dog mean?

by Bill Kirton


These are the things that happen when you’re a writer.

 I went for a walk up a hill near where we live. It’s just a 20 minute drive away but takes me up and out of streets and into heather and vistas. And as soon as you start climbing away from cars and people, you can let yourself think that mystical stuff is possible. In fact, in an absurd world, it’s not only possible, it’s a more acceptable response to life than the logic, solutions and explanations that seek to make sense of everything.

As I walked, I kept thanking whoever had set the granite blocks in place at some points along the track to make it easier to climb. A little aside then made me start wondering whether I could use these carefully arranged blocks, and even the path itself, as a metaphor. It’s an obvious one but maybe I could distort it, undermine its obviousness. Maybe it wouldn’t be a symbol of our taming of nature or our determination to go somewhere, but a scar which would heal when we’ve gone. Maybe it would disappear behind me as I walked on, just as my past was. More than all that, though, I was wondering why I hadn’t remembered to bring any chocolate with me.

Then came the stump – dead, whitened wood, beside the path. A tree that had stepped aside for a rest and just snapped off and rotted away, except for the twisted bole and useless roots. It was like Sartre’s tree root in La NausĂ©e, grotesque, challenging, excrescent. It was also a good excuse to have another pause and pretend I was thinking deep thoughts rather than taking deep breaths.

And it was just past that stump that the dog appeared. No barking or snuffling, no crackling twigs to announce it. I turned a bend and there it was, sitting on the path. The most mongrel of mongrels. Scruffy, yellowish, bits of fur missing, and a face that would never make it onto a puppy calendar. I put my hand out to it but it backed away. Not fearful, just private somehow. And it followed me to the top. And I know that some of you will lose any vestiges of respect you may have had for me but I started to get fed up with it. I’d come here to be on my own and this cur was interfering with that wish. So I shooed it away.

For a while, it stood some way off, then a final rush and a shout from me and it ran off on its stubby little legs. The trouble is that it had set me thinking of the dog in Byron’s poem Darkness. If you haven’t read it, give it a try. Nasty, scary stuff – the black Romanticism, not the troubadours, minstrels and princesses stuff.

Later that evening, just before I went to bed, I went out to lock the garage door and the dog was there, sitting on the other side of the road. The hill where I saw him is maybe 16 miles from where I live. But there he was, squatting in the darkness, looking at me.

In fact, all of this is true except that final paragraph, but what does it all mean?



Monday, November 12, 2012

Mine-Law School 3


Environmental law was the topic for the third session of the Mini-Law School at the University of Colorado. The lecture focused on natural resources but not pollution control. The foundation for federal law in this area goes back to the Hardrock Mining Law of 1872, which has remained primarily unchanged for 140 years. The professor then analyzed the January, 2012, decision by Secretary on the Interior Salazar to withdraw over a million acres of land near the Grand Canyon from new mining claims. Mining claims can be filed on Federal land unless there is a withdrawal, and this one targeted uranium mining. Existing claims can continue to be worked, but no new claims can be made for twenty years. A permanent withdrawal would have required legislation, which in today’s polarized climate would have been impossible. Under the Federal Land Policy Management Act, land can be withdrawn for up to twenty years through an executive decision. Message: you have to know the system.

Mike Befeler

Thursday, November 8, 2012

THANKSGIVING STORIES FROM CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

By Jackie King

A normal childhood has always seemed a mystery to me. My family life wasn’t miserable because I had a strong, smart mother who never gave up. But my growing up was unorthodox, very unorthodox. We lived hand-to-mouth and the only constant in our lives was my grandparents who lived on a farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Gilbert (Gib) and Lillie Hodges traveled from Arkansas very early in the 20th century and brought with them two small daughters; the oldest was Aunt Lena and the youngest was my mother, Delia. Nine other children were born to them and all grew to adulthood except for one girl who was never named. Her tombstone simply reads: Baby Girl Hodges. Perhaps life on the prairie was too hard to find names for children who only lived a day or two. There were many infants buried sans first names in the Forgan, Oklahoma cemetery.

But back to my childhood. Mother taught school and she never got a check in the summertime, so we spent those lean months with my grandparents. Living on that flat, grassy land taught me to love the plains and the resolute people who had settled a land where many built their houses from sod.

Perhaps that’s why it seemed so natural for me to spin three novellas set in 1889 Oklahoma Territory. (Not in the panhandle; of course, more in the center of the state.) One of these stories, Thanksgiving with a Mysterious Stranger, is included in the anthology called TWO FOXY HENS AND ONE BIG ROOSTER. The theme was holidays, and I picked Thanksgiving. Here’s the gist of it:

Hannah Smith determines to prove out her land stake in 1889 Guthrie, O.T., after her mail-order husband is murdered. This arduous task is complicated by a villain who tries to kill Hannah. A rancorous rooster and a mysterious stranger complicate her life, but this resilient woman still manages to solve her husband’s murder and save her homestead.

Ah yes, I always have to bump someone off in my stories. This one was especially fun to write. I’d just heard a talk by Nancy Picard who said it was good to start a story talking about food. The favorite thing that I put into my mouth is coffee, so that’s how I started. Here are the first couple of paragraphs so you can judge for yourself:

All Hannah Smith ever wanted was a house with yellow curtains, a small garden and a good cup of coffee. Right now she’d settle for the coffee, but she had only enough grounds for one final pot and she was saving that treat for Thanksgiving Day.

It was her own fault. She’d deliberately annoyed her brand-new husband George, who disliked coffee anyway. Sometimes a woman’s mouth opened and words popped out unbidden. And because of that one slip, George swore he’d never again buy her another ounce of coffee.

If you love Thanksgiving and enjoy historical mysteries, then Thanksgiving with a Mysterious Stranger is the story for you. You’ll also get two other novellas in the anthology THE FOXY HENS AND ONE BIG ROOSTER.
 












Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Guest blogger Lois Winston





 Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Death By Killer Mop Doll was released this past January. Revenge of the Crafty Corpse will be a January 2013 release.









 We Never Forget Our First Love

For authors, that first sale is like our first love. No matter how many sales or lovers we have afterwards, we never really forget our first one. My first sale occurred in 2005 with the book debuting in April 2006. Talk Gertie To Me was humorous women’s fiction about Connie Stedworth, a menopausal mom, attempting to convince her daughter Nori to return home, settle down with the town’s most eligible bachelor (the son of her best friend,) and begin producing those grandbabies that would bring meaning to Connie’s golden years. Nori had other ideas – and an acerbic imaginary friend named Gertie. The book received critical acclaim and several awards. And then it went out of print.

Along the way, I published a romantic suspense, then turned my attention to writing mysteries. My Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries have been published since 2011 by Midnight Ink with the third book in the series,
Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, due out in January.

But I started out this blog post talking about first loves and first books and how we never forget either. Well, apparently, there are also many readers who never forgot
Talk Gertie To Me. Over the years I’ve been asked countless times if there will ever be a sequel.

A sequel had never occurred to me. I’d moved on. I was firmly entrenched in writing mystery. Gertie had other ideas, though. Once readers asked about a sequel, she latched onto the idea and wouldn’t let go. She began nagging me the way she nagged Nori in the original book. And Gertie can be one really persistent nag until she gets her way.

But besides Gertie’s nagging, something else occurred: I had received my rights back to
Talk Gertie To Me and launched it as an ebook. Gertie says this meant the stars were now aligned, and I couldn’t possibly ignore such a powerful sign.

So one day I sat down to pen a sequel, but my brain kept spinning mystery plots.
Talk Gertie To Me was a combination of chick lit and hen lit, two genres that really aren’t selling right now. I guess my brain was telling me something. Finally, I listened to it. The result was Elementary, My Dear Gertie.


In this mystery novella sequel, Nori and Mac journey to Ten Commandments, Iowa for a Christmas they won’t soon forget. Connie’s Christmas gift to them is a cross-stitched pillow with a none-too-subtle message prodding for marriage and children. Mac is all for exchanging I do’s. He’s even bought the ring, but before he can pop the question, an explosion hurls him and Nori right into the middle of a murder investigation, and Gertie can’t help but lend her acerbic wit to the twists and turns as yet another scandal envelopes the not-so-pious residents of Ten Commandments.

Want to read more? An excerpt can be found here:
http://www.loiswinston.com/booksgertie2.html

Of course, now that I’ve given in to Gertie’s demands for a sequel, she’s making noise about additional books. Seems she liked playing Sherlock Holmes. Then again, Gertie likes anything that places her in the spotlight. I have a feeling I’ll be giving in to her for years to come, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing, considering that (according to her) she’s always right.
Buy link for Talk Gertie To Me: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0099Q1QJ0/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0099Q1QJ0&linkCode=as2&tag=loiswins-20



Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Visit Lois at
http://www.loiswinston.com, visit Emma at http://www.emmacarlyle.com, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers character blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.