Books · mystery

Cover Reveal: Dash Away All

DashAwayAll coverHere it is…the cover for Dash Away All, the third book in the Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series, and my ninth book with Henery Press.

In Dash Away All, Merry Winters is taking a break from her hometown of Season’s Greetings–and all her problems there–and heading to Indiana to become the on-site crafter for a Christmas movie. The tidings of joy are short-lived as she finds herself becoming a referee, dealing with a raging Ebenezer, participating in a bucket brigade, and finding evidence in a “murder.” Is someone trying to stop the production or is it tied to a secret someone has on Luna Carmichael, the queen of Christmas?

When Marie, Luna’s assistant, stumbles away from a car accident and dies, Merry believes the accident wasn’t quite so accidental. Was Luna or Marie the target? Merry finds more questions than answer and one thing is certain: everyone has an ulterior motive for being part of the production—including Marie. After another murder, Merry wonders if the deaths are tied to a baby born long ago and then abandoned. And more importantly, will Merry live long enough to find out?

I had a love-hate relationship with writing Dash Away All. I loved the story: the plot, taking Merry out of hometown and away from her family and friends, Christmas movie setting, some of the scenes (which caused some of my problems). It was a new challenge to write Merry without using the other characters I had grown to love in Not A Creature Was Stirring and Better Watch Out. I found I missed them a lot and Merry’s reasoning for getting involved just wasn’t strong enough without her having a personal tie as her love for her friends and family is her strongest driving force. In the fourth draft, I brought in a personal connection for her: Marie is Paul McCormick’s cousin.

And then there were the scenes I loved. Capital L.O.V.E.D. That made it really hard to get the right flow for the book as I wanted to use these chapters so badly I was forcing them into the story…which is probably why writing scenes as they come to me isn’t the method of writing for me. My love of a scene even had me starting the book at the wrong point. I wanted this scene so much but it made no sense at the beginning. If that scene took place there was no reason for the production to continue so it couldn’t be the reason for Merry’s investigation, so back to the typewriter. I rewrote the first quarter of the book four times before I finally found the right start for the book. And, I evidently had to concede that one scene I adored had no place in the book anymore. It was so hard to pull it out.

There was also another part of the story I struggled with and even when I turned in the book I still wasn’t quite happy with the ending but it was time for me to stop fighting with the manuscript (I had my deadline extended while I wrestled with it). The main problem was I have a few will-not-ever-do/write rules in my head. There are just some things I like steering clear of but these self-imposed rules placed restrictions on the story and didn’t allow it to flow naturally. By forcing the direction too much, it took out the emotion in the book. Everything was just happening because I wanted/needed it. (I’m keeping this part vague as I don’t want to give away a big part of the story.)

Fortunately, I have a wonderful editor who is patient and understanding of my angst and helped me get over the hurdle I created for myself and encouraged me to see that there was nothing wrong with “breaking” one of my rules. I’m now very happy and excited with this story, and I love it. It’s more authentic to itself–and all because in the end I said screw it and broke a rule.

 

 

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition Part I: Apple Cider Slaying, The Little White Christmas Lie, and The Christmas Movie Christmas

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas, books, and movies that I can during this time frame.

The end of this year keeps throwing wrenches into my well-laid plans. I had planned on having my next Merry & Bright done but the story needed a little more time so I found myself deep in editing during December and just as I was getting on track…I’d catch something. I guess my immunity systems just isn’t what it used to be. But I’m determined to at least do a couple of my review editions, so here I go:

apple cider slayingFirst book for my holiday reviewing is Apple Cider Slayings by Julie Anne Lindsey. Living in West Virginia, I couldn’t wait to read a story set in my now home state. In the story, Winnie is helping her grandmother run the orchard while also working on starting her own business she hopes will help keep the orchard in the black. On the day of an important meeting–and a tour–Winnie discovers the body of her grandmother’s nemesis and her grandmother becomes the prime suspect.

I love the description of the orchards and all the Christmas preparation for the festivities at the orchard. The mystery is the prime focus of the story…which it should be. I did feel like I had solved the mystery early in the book and was surprised (pleasantly) when I learned I was wrong. While the story is set during the holiday season, it doesn’t play a key role in the story. The mystery was solid and I really liked Winnie and her grandmother.

a-christmas-movie-christmas-movie-featuredNext up is a Christmas movie–The Christmas Movie Christmas which was on UPtv Channel. Eve loves everything about Christmas, especially Christmas movies–my kind of woman while her sister, Lacy, feels the opposite. They make wishes to Santa and wake up in a Christmas movie! How lucky can a girl(s) get! While Eve is living a dream come true, Lacy feels like she is in a never-ending nightmare.

This was the cheesiest, corniest, cliche-ridden Christmas movie ever—and I adored every second of it. I loved how the movie was supposed to be over the top and give the viewer every standard Christmas movie want. For the holidays, I love my entertainment to be cheerful, uplifting, and heart-warming. I want “small” time angst and this movie gave me what I desire. I have to say it is my favorite holiday Christmas movie this year. I plan on adding it to my must-watch list.

the little white christmas lieAnd last entry for this edition is The Little White Christmas Lie by Kristy Tate. Romance writer Millie Cruise has agreed to attend an event at a quaint inn in New England and doesn’t realize that the man she falls onto on the train is the Carson, grandson of the proprietor. The pair get off to a horrible start when Carson makes fun of the romance books his grandmother loves to read–her favorite author being the heroine who writes under a pseudonym.

On the way to the inn, Millie gets into an accident and not wanting to leave her side, Carson, tells the emergency that they’re engaged so he can stay with her. When word reaches his family, and the small town, the lie takes on a life of its own. Carson agrees to tell his family the truth until Millie’s ex-boyfriend turns up and Millie changes her mind. What’s one little white lie going to hurt?

This was a charming story set around Christmas time. There was a lot of shenanigans going on during the time and sometimes it left me a little confused on what was going on. (Though it could also be me as I haven’t been feeling well.) I wished the story was a little slower paced so I could enjoy the Christmas movements a little more and I’d been able to “meet” all the secondary characters.

 

 

 

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery

SRP Heroine Interview: Rory Anderson from Ghosts of Painting Past

GHOSTS OF PAINTING PAST BANNER 640

Let’s give a big Self-Rescue Princess welcome to Rory Anderson. She’s joining us at the start of this holiday season to share a little bit about herself.

GHOSTS OF PAINTING PASTPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love attending the events around Vista Beach where I live like the pier lighting ceremony and school concert. This year my BFF, Liz Dexter, and I had a booth at the local craft fair so we worked on painting ornaments to sell at it for months beforehand. I also helped my parents out with the annual sand-snowman contest. But Christmas didn’t turn out to be as fun as I expected. When developers tore down the house across the street from mine, they found a decades old skeleton. A skeleton! It didn’t take long for the police to identify it as someone my father knew in high school. When he was implicated in the crime, I just had to prove that he was innocent.

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Concern for my dad. I know he’d never kill anyone, but everything seemed to point to him as the culprit. I just had to get involved and prove he was innocent before it completely ruined his career and his life.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No, never in my wildest dreams did I expect to have anything to do with murder and now I’ve been involved in five investigations!

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

That would be my boyfriend, Martin Green. He’s a detective in the Vista Beach police department. He’s not thrilled when I investigate on my own. He’s afraid I’ll get hurt. No, detective work isn’t my normal career. I’m a freelance computer programmer. I write apps, put together websites, that sort of thing.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My willingness to drop everything and help out friends and family. I’m persistent and a good problem solver. I’m also a bit analytical, which I think helps in investigations. But, sometimes I’m too concerned about what others think of me.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

A strong, confident woman tries to solve her own problems. At the same time, she knows she can’t always do everything by herself so she knows when it’s time to ask for help.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dreams. Persistence pays off.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

Life can take surprising turns but, no matter what happens, I know I’ll get through it with the help of my family and friends.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

The Gloria Gaynor song, “I Will Survive.” I’ve been involved in quite a few murder investigations now and have even been suspected myself. I’ve survived it all.

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

I’ve said before that I hope I never see another dead body in my life. But I keep on being drawn into investigations. I have the uneasy feeling that it’s going to happen to me again, and soon.

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery

SRP Heroine Interview: Merry Wynter from Muffin But Trouble

Welcome to the Self-Rescue Princess, we’re starting the holiday season by chatting with  Merry Wynter.

Muffin But Trouble high resPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Life is a little hectic. I own a real life American Castle in Western New York state; it was built by my lumber baron great-many-times grandfather and passed down through the generations, but because my dad died when I was just five or so, I never knew about that side of the family. I didn’t know anything about it until I inherited Wynter Castle from my great uncle Melvyn Wynter. I intended to sell it and return to NYC where I had always lived. I fell in love with the nearby town of Autumn Vale, though, and made friends, and ended up staying and fixing it up with my New York friends, Pish and Shilo.

The problem was, how to pay for living there. I tried a few schemes over the years, including my muffin baking and selling business, but it became clear it was going to take something big to make a go of it. Soooo…

Pish Lincoln, my dear friend, and I have partnered to create a performing arts center for a symphony orchestra and opera company. Kind of like Tanglewood is for the BSO.

But there is so much else going on! I keep finding trouble. I don’t mean to, but… it happens. Lately I was accosted in a neighboring town by a rude street preacher guy who kept calling me a Jezebel! He’s part of this fringe group who own a compound near town. It’s run by one of those doom and damnation cultish groups.

I’ve since discovered that a couple of good friends may have been lured in by the group and its leader. Between that and the missing girls my husband, former sheriff Virgil Grace, and his former deputy have been investigating, I’m worried, so I’m going to do something about it.

I just hope nothing goes wrong when my friends and I storm the compound!

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

I’ve been fighting the negative attitude some townies have of me and my New York friends… there have been a few unfortunate incidences over the last three years. Most in Autumn Vale like us, some have become truly great friends, and others are ambivalent, but there are a few who feel like we are out to change Autumn Vale, and they aren’t sure they want that. I try to do everything I can to help people and change minds. I want them to see me and the people I’m bringing into their lives as a good thing, for them and the community.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

That’s a funny question! LOL. I’m no Wonder Woman. I’m just a former plus size model, turned fashion stylist, turned muffin baker, turned property developer, turned reluctant crime fighter.

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

Least pleased? Whoever is guilty, I suppose. My husband, even though I first met him in his capacity as sheriff of Autumn Vale, has been very good about not interfering when I’m on a hunt. He’s helpful, in fact, and now that he’s a private investigator, he can even help with resources.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

I like that description! But for a long time I don’t think I was strong or confident. I met and married a fashion photographer when I was in my twenties, but after two blissful years of marriage he died in a tragic car accident. It took me a long time to move on… in fact it wasn’t until I came to Autumn Vale to have a look at my inheritance and met Virgil that I started to see a life beyond widowhood. My hero is Lizzie Proctor, now eighteen, who is the very essence of a strong confident woman. When I met her (when I first arrived in Autumn Vale) she was fifteen and troubled, and she is still in conflict with her mom much of the time, but she found her calling – photography – and is fierce in following it, and defending her friends in any situation. I respect her more than I can say.

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. And if you decide to do something, do it with your whole passion. Don’t expect success in what you want to do to just come to you because you want it. You’ve got to earn it. You may or may not succeed, but the beauty and honor is in striving for your goals.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

To not be afraid to butt in… truly! One of my friends that is in trouble, Gordy Shute, is an example. We could all see he was drifting away from us but we didn’t want to interfere in his life, and now he has ended up in that cult compound. I think I’ve learned… sometimes you need to butt in!

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. LOL.

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

I have a feeling trouble will find me again… if things get too quiet or go too smoothly, my friend Pish can be counted on to get us into some fix! It’s always because he’s trying to help somebody. (Merry will indeed run into trouble again in Double or Muffin – coming in 2020. Pish agrees to host an opera competition reality show that has lost its venue, and… trouble ensues!)

If you’d like to read Merry’s adventure in Muffin But Trouble, you can find it here:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Website: http://www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaHamiltonMysteryAuthor/

 

 

 

 

Books

Release day for Better Watch Out

It’s here! Release day for Better Watch Out, the second book in the Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery series.

BetterWatchOut front2Merry’s life is Christmas chaos. Her divorce is still in question. She’s behind on crafting orders. Ebenezer is an escape artist. And with one day left, she hasn’t completed the line-up for the annual Christmas parade, thanks to one grinch. Once Merry knows the Christmas secret, she realizes Santa isn’t what’s coming to town. Santa’s naughty list, courtesy of Jenna Wilcox, will roll down Main Street with names of residents who deserve a lump of coal in their stocking. Saving the parade won’t be easy, but Merry is up to task. Or so she thinks until she discovers Jenna’s body stashed in Santa’s sack. As facts are unwrapped, Merry finds the line blurred between who’s naughty and nice. As threats are aimed at her and those she loves, Merry dashes for the truth before the murderer puts her on the naughty list and crosses her off for good.

Below are the blog stops I’ll be making over the next few weeks:

October 15 – Dru’s Book Musings

October 15 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog

October 15 – Literary Gold

October 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews

October 16 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf

October 16 – My Devotional Thoughts

October 17 – FUONLYKNEW

October 17 – Diane Reviews Books

October 18 – I’m All About Books

October 18 – My Reading Journeys

October 18 – My Devotional Thoughts

October 19 – Reading Is My SuperPower

October 19 – Readeropolis

October 20 – Baroness’ Book Trove

October 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy

October 22 – A Blue Million Books

October 22 – eBook Addicts

October 23 – Island Confidential

October 23 – Hearts & Scribbles

October 24 – Brooke Blogs

October 24 – I Read What You Write

October 25 – Melina’s Book Blog

October 25 – Laura’s Interests

October 25 – MJB Reviewers

Purchase links for the Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series:

Amazon:

Not a Creature Was Stirring, book 1:

Better Watch Out, book 2:

Barnes and Noble:

Not a Creature Was Stirring, book 1:

Better Watch Out, book 2:

Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Belinda Blake from The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

BB WOLF IN SHEEPS CLOTHING 640

Today, Belinda Blake is stopping by to chat with us.

BELINDA BLAKE AND THE WOLF COVERPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life.

As part of my exotic pet-sitting business, I’ve decided to take a job at a wolf sanctuary. But I haven’t even been there a full day and I’m already realizing that might not have been the smartest decision…

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

My sister, Katrina, would tell you that I’m not one to look at things and recognize risks…in all honesty, sometimes I accidentally plunge right into dangerous situations. But I usually have a very good reason for doing so! In this case, the wolf sanctuary owner was desperate for help and she was willing to pay me handsomely.

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

My mom gets distressed when she finds out I’ve been in danger, but since I live a few hours from her, she doesn’t always KNOW all the situations I’ve been in…and my sister Katrina and my friend Jonas also tend to spend a lot of  time warning me to be careful. I’m not an amateur sleuth by trade—I pet-sit exotic pets and just happen to run into some dangerous situations in my line of work. I also review video games on the side, and that’s actually becoming a pretty successful endeavor for me.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

I live alone, and I’ve been on my own for quite a few years (some of those years in the Peace Corps and in New York City), so I’ve had to learn to be more aware of my surroundings and look for red flags. But I am an optimist by nature, so I tend to be a bit too trusting. Just ask my sister Katrina, who trusts NO ONE when she first meets them!

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think I’m a very compassionate person, but that can be a blessing and a curse, since I don’t tend to realize when people have nefarious motivations. When wrongs have been done, I want to get to the bottom of things and make things right for the victims’ families. But I tend to rush into things without thinking, and I don’t like being locked down, so I kind of roll along in life without planning things out thoroughly.

 

 

Books

SRP Heroine Interview: Jen Ward from Number’s Up

NUMBERS UP BANNER 820Today, we’re meeting Jen Ward.

Number's UpJennifer Ward’s To-Do List:

1) Turn in my business partner and his lying, cheating, law-breaking client to the SEC for insider trading.

2) Cooperate with the FBI. Do not kiss— scratch that. Do not yell at Special Agent Nicholas Kelly, the FBI agent leading said investigation.

3) Discover a dead body…

Jennifer Ward, MBA, CPA, and business consultant, likes a nice, orderly lifestyle. Schedules and To-Do lists are what get her through the day. So when the by-the-numbers fashionista finds her business partner was breaking the law, she turns him in to the SEC. Which brings the FBI to her door, and her ordered world to an end.

But that was three weeks ago. Things couldn’t possibly get worse. Right?

Until Jen discovers her business partner dead in his hotel room. With Nic the handsome FBI agent dogging her every step, Jen must use her skills to discover the truth. Who killed Henry? And will she be next?

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

He was my partner. Yeah, he might have ruined our business and caused the FBI to investigate me, and… Okay, maybe it was the grief that made me do it. Logic would suggest not getting involved.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No. No fighting. We have gone over this. I’m supposed to stay away from guns, and ranting at the bad guys. I’m not like Lark. I listen. Most of the time.

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

I’m not making this a career… it’s more of a side hobby. That I don’t tell people about.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m smart. I’m an incredible CPA and business consultant. I’m logical and organized. And maybe a little lost. But only a little.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

It means I get the job done, no matter what happens. I do what’s right, no matter the cost. I depend on me.

What one piece of advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Don’t let one thing over take your life completely. It’s easy to prioritize work over your life, but then you might end up a stressed out ball of anxiety that never has food in there fridge. Don’t end up stressed out and foodless, buying shoes to make herself feel better.

What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

Money does not give you security.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

The Champion by Carrie Underwood

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

Well, there wasn’t supposed to be any other plans…