Life is busy. It is for everyone. What I have I been up to?
Enjoying my family. Spending time with friends. Reading non-fiction while struggling to find novels that keep my interest. (It’s me, not the books!) Planning for an upcoming high school graduation. (Eek!) Re-evaluating my career.
I guess the last one is most prevalent to this blog. I think it’s important every so often to revisit the direction our writing takes. Revisit our goals. I’m still in the process of doing that. I will say that a lot of “stuff” triggered this period of re-evaluation, and I won’t share most of it. The one aspect I will share with you is that I grew tired of the rat race. If you write and self publish you might know what I mean. The keeping-up with the new marketing strategies before they’re no longer effective, the continual push and realization that the best way to make a profit is to write popular genres and put out a gazillion books a year.
I found myself putting my most exciting ideas on the back burner either because they were middle grade or outside of my established genre or would require more time. I didn’t want to write ten books a year. I completely understand that to keep books visible it helps to release books continuously, in the same genre, in a series, over and over and over.
That’s not why I started writing.
That’s not why I love writing.
But…I do want to make a profit. I run a small business. So I’m figuring out what that will look like for me. I’m striving to find a balance between writing what I love and what will sell.
(It also grew discouraging to see the top 100 on Amazon filled with Amazon imprints and KU books. Some in categories they clearly should not be in. Amazon is a business, so I don’t fault them for pushing their own books.)
I decided to write two more books in my original series, Circle of Spies. I follow the main characters but years later. The cover reveal is below.
And a favor, if some strange pharma links show up at the bottom of this post, please email or tweet me and let me know. I can’t see them, and I can’t get ads while they’re still on my blog. Thank you!!!!
Let me know how you’ve been doing in the comments!
I’ve always wanted them. Coveted them. I’d see them in a kitchen magazine or on Pinterest–and I’d stop and just stare at it with a dreamy look on my face.
Along those lines, hubby and I have been wanting to redo do our kitchen going on several years now. Fine, more like ten. We finally reached a point where we were ready to proceed. I studied. I researched. And found a technique called glazing, which I thought might be easier than distressing.
We did it.
Even though I knew white was more trendy, I went with what I love. We only live once, right?
Um, now we just need to get them back on the wall, install the new sink and counter, paint the walls, tear out a cabinet and insert a new range, drill through some brick, add a stone back splash, refinish the floors, and build shelving. Right. Wish us luck.
I know there’s a life lesson and writing lesson in there somewhere.
A Highly Suspicious Death is free for the next few days!
Also, the series is complete!
AMAZON ~ KINDLE UNLIMITED
AMAZON ~ KINDLE UNLIMITED
AMAZON ~ KINDLE UNLIMITED
Have a terrific weekend!
Thank you so much for checking out my new book. I’m grateful for any help in spreading the news about my new cozy mystery series!
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(And that’s how it all starts!)
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Chapter 1 ~ Devon
When Devon Despicable pushed aside the frilly curtains of his bedroom window and peered through sleep-crusted eyes at the beach below his house, he noticed a body, possibly, or most likely, dead.
The beach wasn’t exactly close—which during raging thunderstorms was a good thing or his house would have washed away years ago—but it wasn’t so far he needed binoculars.
He slipped into his velour bathrobe and proceeded down the creaky stairs straight into the kitchen. The first thing he did was make black tea with precisely three drops of juice squeezed from a fresh lemon. He put the kettle on, and when it was about to whistle he fired up his ancient computer—ancient according to today’s standards—and then pulled out a mug and placed the teabag so the string fell outside the ceramic.
The news was of special interest to him. He had advertised for an evening gala at his art gallery that occupied the back section of his house. He was tickled to death at the attention the gallery was receiving with each reveal of a Treasure Painting he managed to acquire. Tonight was no different.
He wrapped his large hands around the hot mug. After soaking in the praise and excitement over the paintings, which supposedly held clues to the rumored lost pirate treasure, his finger hesitated on the mouse.
Every time it was mistake.
One of these times he’d have to schedule an appointment with a doctor for fear of a heart attack. He prided himself on his excellent health and hadn’t seen a doctor in years. Not even for a cough. Home remedies worked every time.
Click. He couldn’t help himself. He scoured the site and for a minute hope swelled until it didn’t. His vision blurred. His pulse escalated. He gripped the mug with such strength he was surprised cracks didn’t appear.
Another one of the stolen Treasure Paintings had been sold on the black market.
This time for close to fifty thousand dollars! Ridiculous!
Devon sipped his tea, burnt his tongue, and let out a curse. When he slammed his mug on the table, tea sloshed over the sides and soaked copies of the gala invitation. Each private sale was money stolen indirectly from his coffers. The first Treasure Painting—when he first coined the phrase—sold for a few thousand. With each painting and with his hard work and dedication, after splurging thousands on a social media webinar, the value grew.
Though he was proud his efforts were now worth fifty grand, he hated to admit that part of the media attention could be attributed directly to the thief stealing the paintings and selling them in private art circles. Collectors and treasure hunters shelled out the greenbacks and transferred funds from Swiss bank accounts.
The thief was a woman. He had a sixth sense about these things. The way Devon saw it, she owed him a lifetime’s worth of indentured servitude. This female was scum on a stagnant pond. She was the mold that formed on his fancy cheese in the fridge. She was dog vomit.
Devon had to question what kind of upbringing this woman experienced. Had she been beaten? Cast out on the street as a vagabond in her teen years? Had she failed kindergarten? Honestly, what kind of person was so lazy they preyed on the greed of others? What kind of person stole for personal gain instead of earning money through old-fashioned hard work and good, clean sweat?
People like that should receive the death sentence, the electric chair, and be publicly humiliated. Maybe a few good hits with rotten tomatoes in the town square would do the trick.
The words of Devon’s therapist, who, as of three months ago, no longer was his therapist, whispered through his mind. Stop obsessing.
Was he obsessing?
Yes, he was indeed obsessing. The fact that his tea was cold told him he’d been obsessing now for quite some time. Who could blame him? He was losing money! Visitors to the art gallery no longer wanted to pay premium prices for the Treasure Paintings or for prints of the Treasure Paintings out of fear they would be stolen.
He hunched over the table wishing his tea were at least warm enough to drink. His profits were dwindling. The stolen paintings were to blame.
Someone knocked on the back door.
Only slightly disturbed that he was in his tightie whities and velour bathrobe, he opened the door.
“Now that’s disturbing.”
Devon glared at the man standing on his step. His name was Sal Stillwater, the jack of all trades in their small but touristy oceanside town. He was a tall and thin man with a craggy face from years of working outdoors in the sun. He did not believe in sunblock and thought skin cancer was a scam, which showed in the deep lines and wrinkles even though he was just shy of fifty.
“May I help you?” Anger rippled through Devon. He prided himself on his ability to remain in control of his emotions. Nevertheless, the cold, condescending tone came across stronger than he liked.
Sal Stillwater stared back, unspoken threats gleaming in his greedy eyes, or that’s how it appeared to Devon. Sal was blackmailing Devon into giving him free Despicable Treats. Devon had once been a cupcake enthusiast and felt called to a life in the culinary field. That calling, unfortunately, had faded soon after graduation. So when Sal had corned Devon in a dark alley, demanding payment of some kind, he had jumped when Devon offered cupcakes and desserts laden with pureed vegetables like beets and squash and spinach. Though he wasn’t an honest man, Sal had a big heart and loved his niece, who refused to eat vegetables of any kind. Thus Despicable Treats was born, or so said the rickety sign above Devon’s back door.
Sal Stillwater shifted on his feet and his hands trembled. All classic signs of fear. “I need two dozen of your Monster Madness cupcakes or I’m going straight to the cops.”
Devon took a moment to size up the man before him, a desperate, needy man, on the edge. “I’ll have them ready for you this afternoon.”
“You’d better. I’ll be back.” Sal paused as if struck with a sudden thought. “Oh, and do you still want the normal delivery for this evening?”
“Yes, I would. The usual.” Devon had forgotten to order flowers for the gala, so he was thankful Sal remembered.
The men shook hands, and Sal left.
Inside the quiet of his kitchen, Devon realized he couldn’t ignore the body any longer. This dead body had no ties with Devon whatsoever. It must be another treasure hunter who didn’t know about the riptide. After all, the recent thefts had caused a resurgence of interest from the desperate and destitute.
Devon put off breakfast and climbed the creaky stairs. He dressed in nice slacks, a shirt, his usual leather jacket, and chose one of many scarves that lined his closet. He needed to look his best, because eventually, the detective would have to be called. It wasn’t like Devon could just leave the body or hide it.
That was when he peered out the window a second time. First, he noticed the bright and shiny private yacht bobbing on the cresting waves. He squelched the twinge of jealousy and could barely fathom a life where purchasing a yacht was on his to-do list.
Then his gaze shifted closer to the beach. He blinked. Then he blinked again. Impossible! He grabbed the binoculars he rarely used because he lived close enough to the beach that he only needed to squint. He peered through them, his jaw slightly dropping.
It happened again.
The body moved.
Thanks for reading!
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Don’t we all though as writers?
Never mind all the premises and stories that never made it out of my head, and died before having the chance at life. (My deepest apologies to all those ideas and characters who maybe wanted a chance. Sorry, this isn’t a democracy.)
As you might have noticed I love mysteries. I love stories with only a hint of mystery. I love heist stories. They fascinate me. I love romantic mysteries too.
What you might not know is that I love characters who aren’t the best looking or the most confident. I love when the romantic element is messy and troublesome, where the characters have to embrace the flaws in the other person even if they never have that turning point where they’re able to overcome them.
A year or so ago I was inspired by a stranger. He wasn’t particularly good looking. He had a hawk nose. He wore an elegant scarf around his neck, along with this faux-looking leather coat. I never met him, but I had so many questions. I sensed this false arrogance that possibly covered deep insecurity. I never met him. Never talked to him.
Eventually, this man became Devon Despicable in A Highly Suspicious Death. (Releasing April 19th, 2016)
A murder. Lost pirate treasure. Two amateur sleuths.
When a sea captain washes up on the beach—dead—at the worst possible time, Devon Despicable is not happy. What an inconvenience. He’s already hosting a houseguest who claims amnesia and whom he suspects is lying to spy on him—concerning the legendary lost pirate treasure.
Francesca Lovely can’t remember a thing. She woke up on the beach behind Devon’s house with nothing. Well, except for the wetsuit on her body, with a suspicious stain that looks like blood. When Devon instructs her to lie to the detective about the stain, Fran suspects Devon is hiding a lot behind his calm demeanor. And she aims to find out what.
Dodging the detective’s suspicions that one of them may be the murderer while investigating the captain’s crew, Devon and Fran work together to solve the mystery behind this highly suspicious death.
At that point in my life, and currently, I desperately needed humor. I needed to laugh. I wanted to write a comical, somewhat unrealistic, and over-the-top kind of story. I wanted it to be a murder mystery of sorts. Maybe it was everything happening in the world, all the heartache and sadness. I couldn’t read the sad books. I couldn’t write them. Still can’t.
I pictured a fictional town on the New England seacoast. (I also love pirates and the rumors of lost pirate treasure that I hear about in New England. So I had to include that.)
So is this story a cozy mystery? Yes…sort of. It’s really a love story between two imperfect people overcoming and facing their false egos, their pasts, and their insecurities. (It’s definitely not a police procedural as there is not one element of real police work. Not really.)
I had a blast writing it. I lost myself in the story and the characters. Next week, I’ll reveal chapter one and provide a chance to win an ebook before the release date.
See you next week! (Feel free to comment on any uplifting or humorous books you’ve read of late!)