Masked to Death has left port

masked-to-death-cover-frontMasked to Death, the fifth book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series, is now out. I went on my first cruise at the end of 2010 and feel in love with this type of vacation. When part of the plot came to me, I started thinking about where to set the book and recalled that in book one, Cropped to Death, Ted mentioned that his mom worked on a cruise ship. My muse said, “Perfect.”, and the story developed from there.

Here’s a short description about Masked to Death:

A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising her toward Davy Jones’ Locker.

Over the next few weeks, you can find me (or Masked) visiting a few places in cyber world where I’ll be answering some questions, talking about creating a travel journal and a fictional cruise, and where some readers will let you  know a little bit more about Masked to Death. I hope you can stop by.

January 25 – Dru’s Book Musings – Guest Post, Vacation Time With Faith Hunter

January 27 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, INTERVIEW

January 28 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST, Creating a Cruise 

January 29 – Brooke Blogs – INTERVIEW

January 30 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

January 31 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

February 1 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

February 2 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, GUEST POST, Travel Journal

February 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

February 4 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST, Scrapbooking and Murder

February 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy Too! – Excerpt (shopping on a cruise) from Masked to Death

February 6 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

February 7 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

bedroom5

Life and Times of 1950s Las Vegas, NV by Janet Elizabeth Lynn

While researching our latest book, Desert Ice, we spent a significant amount of time at the UNLV Library’s Oral History Center. Histories were recorded and transcribed from people who lived and worked there during several eras and cataloged for easy access.

Participants that were interviewed talked about their memories of growing up in Vegas. My husband and I were particularly interested in the normal life of people living there:  school, social events, work, travel, etc.

Several women talked about their homes, backyard parties, school and fashion. Many mentioned their clothes in the 50’s. Some were teenagers in the 1950s talked about their poodle skirts, white blouses with Peter Pan collars and Bunny Shoes. Growing up in the 50’s but in New York, I hadn’t heard of Bunny Shoes, so I investigated and sure enough, it was a popular style of shoe in Vegas and in some parts of the west. They insisted the shoes were comfortable and were sad to see them go out of fashion.

pajama-bagaMany also talked about their bedrooms, how they shared their room with sisters, cousins, even aunts visiting and staying for a while. Pajama pillows were a big thing then, they came in many shapes: clowns, bears, dogs, just about any design. Entertaining their girlfriends in their bedroom was the social thing to do.

Television was late getting to the area, so much time was spent listening to the radio or phonograph records. Local talent and visiting performers were consistently on the radio as well as school groups and community organizations. Once TV began, many mentioned the Howdy Dowdy Show, Lassie, The Mickey Mouse Club, and Gunsmoke.

I was surprised how similar my life was to these ladies who also grew up in the 50s separated by thousands of miles. I grew up in a urban Long Island, New York.

The hours we spent at the Oral History Center was rewarding in getting the feel for the life and time of 1955 Vegas.

What’s Next aka the Battling Plots

Midnight drearyWhen I finished writing Framed to Death, the first thing I did…okay the second after celebrating typing The End…was start working on the outline for book five in the Scrap This series. I always enjoy the first week after completing a book as I’m contemplating the different twists that could occur in Faith’s life. What will happen in her personal life? How about her professional life? How about her role/standing in the community with her role as the go-to-girl when someone has been wrongly accused? How does Faith, or someone in Eden, have ties to victim in the book? Will Faith’s sleuthing cause friction and heartaches in her relationships? These are usually the first questions I ask before I start working on the motivation for the crime, and the suspects in the story. I have to know what’s going on with Faith’s life, and in her community, first and from that point brainstorm a few ideas on what the catalyst for the crime.

I have tried plotting a book by deciding on how the murder would happen and where (plus, I always have two strong suspects but I don’t know which one it will be until the end of book), but the story didn’t really come together It felt too clinical, as I was relating everything to the murder and it took away the personal feel that I love about traditional/cozy mysteries. For me, I needed an underlying theme to focus on for the book to have the necessary ‘heart’ to connect Faith, and the reader, to the story.

It’s always a fabulous day when I have all the answers to my questions and can start outlining the book. I had found just the perfect idea for the book and started working on the outline, happy with how the plot and subplot were interconnecting. There was a bump or two I still needed to smooth out, but I knew I’d work it out once I started writing the actual book. My wonderful editor returned Framed to Death so I put the new book aside and began work on Framed (I must say I love…capital LOVE…editing time).

As I drove to the grocery store on Friday, a scene popped into my head for the new book. Usually that is wonderful, but this time the scene had nothing to do with the book I planned to write. This was a new idea. A different setting. Different key secondary characters. Different theme. Different motive. Different future, and hope, for Faith. And today on my way home from the auto repair place, I ‘saw’ the murder with two different scenarios on the when and how it could happen in the story. What is an author to do? And, also had to admit to myself that the new idea worked so much better with the working title.

Dare I start on this new path rather than stick with the old? I have a plan. It’s a good plan. But, this new one excites me with the future it holds for Faith, the simple…yet complexity…of the motivation of the killer, and most importantly the opportunity to show a truth I believe in strongly. Can I be brave enough to write this new idea? I put a little bit of me into every book, I believe every writer does, but I’ve always made sure what I included wasn’t too personal and didn’t give away too much of me.

Maybe it’s time I did?

Maybe, it’s time I did.

Writing for a Good Cause – Guest Post by Teresa Watson

Today, I’ve opened up the Self-Rescue Princess to my friend and fellow author Teresa Watson who has an important message and cause she’d like to share. I don’t want to take too much time, so I’ll ‘step’ aside for Teresa to talk about her mission.

For Dave & River

I’m a writer.

People ask me why I enjoy writing so much. Well, I’ll explain it this way: I’m a natural born klutz. I can trip over a rock and hurt myself. And usually the way I hurt myself is, in fact, pretty stupid and funny. For example, if I say ‘trunk of my Malibu’, most of the people that know me are going to start laughing. Why? Because I tore the ligaments in my right ankle trying to reach something in the back of the car trunk. No, really, I did! Trust me, the list of injuries is a long one. I’m known as Queen Klutz.

When I tell people how I got hurt, I always do it in a funny way, and people laugh. My son and I are known as “The Traveling Comedy Show” because we make everyone laugh with our stories. So it was only natural that I became a writer.

As a writer, I don’t make a lot of money. Don’t believe the myth that all writers are rich; it’s not true. Most of us don’t make enough to take a vacation to Disneyland. WalMart, maybe, but no Disneyland.

But every once in a while, something happens and you want to use your writing for a good cause. And that’s what I’m doing this month. I have a friend, Dave Harris, who I met on Twitter, and started following him on Facebook. He’s a very funny fellow, which is a big plus in my book, and he’s a musician, also a major plus because I was in the band in junior high and high school. We comment on each other’s posts once in a while, and have a few laughs at each other’s expense.

A few months ago, something happened to Dave and his family that made me care a wee bit more. His 2 ½ year old son, River, was very sick and in the hospital. You all know me, I have a soft spot for kids. So I started paying more attention to what was going on. I remember the night he broke the news that his son had Kawasaki Disease. I could read the heartache and frustration in his words, and I could see the pain on River’s face through the pictures Dave shared. There wasn’t much I could do, being so far away, so I sent little messages of encouragement, and said prayers for the whole family.

Like Dave, I had never heard of Kawasaki Disease, but what I have read totally freaks me out, so just imagine what Dave and his family are going through. Let me share Dave’s words with you. This is from his Go Fund Me page, where he is raising money to produce an album to raise money for the Kawasaki Foundation:

 Hey everybody. I’m Dave Harris. Songwriter, producer, Radio host, and father. My son River was a victim of Kawasaki’s disease. There is no cure. It’s is an immune disease in which the medium-sized blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed. It is largely seen in children under 5 years of age. It affects many organ systems, mainly those including the blood vessels, skin, mucous membranes, and lymph nodes. Its rarest but most serious effect is on the heart, where it can cause fatal coronary artery aneurysms in untreated children. Without treatment, mortality may approach 1%, usually within six weeks of onset. With treatment, the mortality rate is 0.17% in the U.S. That being said, we were one of the lucky ones. Many doctors don’t recognize the symptoms that fast. Chances are it’s a disease you’ve never heard of. I hadn’t either until River got it. There is a foundation set up and they are trying to raise money to fund research and to make others aware.

Here’s a link to the Go Fund Me page so that you can read more about Dave’s project.

Dave said that when children are suffering from the disease, there is nothing you can do to comfort them. All the little ones can do is cry, because they are in so much pain and feel miserable. You can’t hold them, because they don’t want to be touched. And that’s murder for a parent, because when their children are crying and hurting, you want to hold and comfort them. You want to do anything to take that pain and suffering from your child.

So, here I am, a small-time writer, trying to figure out what I could do to help Dave and River. And of course, there’s only one way I can help: through my writing. That’s why I’m donating this month’s proceeds from the sale of the Lizzie Crenshaw box set to the Kawasaki Foundation in River’s honor. I’m also donating last month’s sales, which came to $116.20. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps.

So how can you help? Share this story with your friends and family. Let’s double last month’s total, and make a big donation for River. The box set is only $.99, folks. You might have to give up a cup of coffee or a couple of glazed donuts for one day. But there is way more at stake. Children like River shouldn’t have to worry about being sick at that age; they should be outside, laughing and having fun.

lizzie crenshaw box set

Please click on the link provided for the Lizzie Crenshaw mysteries and purchase a copy of the box set. Send it as a gift to a friend or a family member. Spread the word! Let’s help find a cure for this disease.

People ask me why I’m doing this. Everyone has special, God-given gifts that they use to help others. Dave is a musician, so he’s using his talent to produce an album to raise money for a cause that is near and dear to his heart. I don’t play my flute or tenor sax anymore, haven’t in over thirty years, so I can’t help him with that (I do sing though, Dave, if you need a backup singer!). My God given gift is writing, and I’m using my one gift to do something good.

Release Day – Embellished to Death

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbI’m so excited, today is Embellished to Death’s book birthday. I’ll admit that Embellished stretched me some as I took Faith out of her (and my) comfort zone by putting her in a new environment, and also introducing some new characters. I loved meeting the new additions to Faith’s life, though I a little trouble with one wanting to take over the story (yes, Bob, I’m talking about you). Sometimes when an author falls in love with a secondary character, that character has the potential to overshadow the main one. It took a few battles of the will between me and Bob (I did win), to find the perfect balance of Bob being Faith’s counterpart in this mystery without his role of being a professional private investigator stifling Faith.

Here’s the blurb for Embellished:

When Faith Hunter agrees to help PI Bob Roget find an identity thief at a local scrapbook retreat, her friendly croppers’ weekend quickly morphs into a dangerous one. As croppers share their own memories, a killer collects them for her new identity, and doesn’t appreciate Faith in the picture.

Faith struggles to balance her professional, detecting and personal lives as threats and secrets keep her off-balance. Things turn deadly when a woman is killed and Faith is blackmailed. Truth and lies collide when Faith discovers croppers aren’t the only ones embellishing, and the results might end her life.

I’m going on a virtual book tour from today until October 3. You can find me and Embellished at the following places:

Tour Participants

September 23 – Mommasez… – Review, Guest Post

September 24 – Books Are Life  – Vita Libri – Review

September 25 – Mystery Playground – Guest Post

September 26 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review

September 27 – Community Bookstop – Review

September 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Guest Post

September 29 – Brooke Blogs – Review

September 30 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post

October 1 – Back Porchervations – Review, Interview

October 2 – a chick who reads – Review

October 3 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review, Interview

Sale: To celebrate the release of Embellished, the ebook editions of Cropped to Death and Designed to Death are on sale for 99 cents each at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. I’m not sure how long the price drop will last, so if you’ve been thinking about trying the series, now’s a great time.

 

 

 

Embellished to Death Excerpt

In five weeks, Embellished to Death, the third book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series will be released September 23. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. In this book, I take Faith out of Eden to Morgantown, WV for a weekend crop retreat, and also introduce some new people into her life. I’ll admit it was a struggle working with a new setting, and not allowing some of the wonderful secondary characters to take over. I feel in love with one of them and had to keep telling the character it wasn’t their story. Here’s a snippet of Embellished to Death.

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbExcerpt:

 “We’re here for the scrapbooking convention,” I said. “I’m Faith, one of the vendors for the weekend. Scrap This.”

 “I’m Ellie. And this is Pauline.” She motioned toward the other woman. “We’re the embossers. We’re waiting for the doors to open.”

 “I’m going to find the manager to let us in. One of the organizers broke down this morning so they’re running late.”

 “Ladies, I was wondering if you’d mind giving up your spot for a moment.” Steve lounged very attractively against the side of the truck. The women looked over my shoulder, plastered smiles on their faces, and thrust out their chests. “I have to unload this beast.”

 His body was braced against the passenger door. Ever so casual and sexy. The sun gleamed off his shaved head and the sunglasses covering his eyes. His muscular arms were crossed across his equally muscular chest. The stance tightened the bright red t-shirt with white swirly letters encouraging croppers to Scrap This, and showed off the fact there was no body fat anywhere on the man’s stomach.

 Not too many men, hot or otherwise, showed up at cropping events. Usually the only men “attending” were ones keeping nursing babies in rooms, or trying to entertain toddlers in meltdown mode while mom scrapped. When they made an appearance in the crop room, their frantic gazes scattered around the room in a desperate search for the mother of their children.

 Ellie batted her eyes at him. “We’d love to, but there’s no way we can lug our machines across the parking lot.”

 “How about I unload it and place it by the door?” Steve smiled at her.

 Pauline and Ellie looked down at the sidewalk and then at each other. Ellie bit her lip and raised her eyebrows. Pauline shook her head no.

 “After we unload, I’ll have Steve help you get your items from your van.” I hoped I made an offer they couldn’t refuse. “He can use our handcart to transport your embossing machine.”

Pauline grinned and pointed over my shoulder. She fluffed her hair around her shoulders and sent a welcoming beam of a smile toward Bob. “If you can get him to help too, you have a deal. We have our cropping totes that also need brought in.”

Bob had parked in front of the hotel portion of the resort and motioned for me to come over. Sadly for Pauline, her plan to catch Bob’s eye wouldn’t work as Steve was more his type.

“Sure. He’ll help,” I said.

Pauline high-fived her friend. “I’ll move ours. You can move the tote gal’s van.”

Ellie dangled a set of keys. “She left her keys in case her vehicle needed to be moved. Considerate girl.”

I made a mental note to show my appreciation by buying something from the tote gal. I jogged toward Bob, cutting through the parking lot as I didn’t want to misjudge a jump over one of the dividers separating one parking lot from the other. Hopefully, whatever favor he wanted was a large enough request, he wouldn’t be annoyed at me for filling up his dance card.

A woman screamed.

An engine hummed. I paused and turned. A beige car bore down on me. My breath locked in my throat. I felt like a deer during hunting season, did I feint left or right to get out of the way? Strong arms wrapped around my waist and made the decision for me. My rescuer met the hard asphalt and I came in contact with his muscled body. The car whizzed right past us, the breeze it created pushing my hair off my face.

The man’s grip relaxed from around me.

Feet pounded toward us.

“Are you two okay?” Bob’s voice came from the vicinity of the hotel.

I eased off my rescuer to get a look at who risked life and limb to get me out of the way. Steve. Not a surprise. Placing a hand on his chest, I leaned down to kiss my knight. I froze.

His eyes were closed. He wasn’t moving.

Embellished giveawayGiveaway: To celebrate the release of Embellished to Death, I’m having a giveaway for a signed copy of the ARC and also a Scrapbooks Made Me Do It t-shirt. To enter, sign up to receive my quarterly newsletter. The link to join is at the top of my website and also on my author Facebook page.

Stockpiling Book Swag

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbWith Embellished to Death coming out September 23, I knew it was time to organize my book swag. Most of the items were in a holding area which happened to be the bed in my office that we use for guests. Not a good place to store items. And, the cat was getting kind of testy as she had claimed the bed as her sleeping spot and it was overtaken with goodies. There aren’t too many things worse than a testy cat…or at least mine. So, before she decided the best way to get rid of the stuff taking up her spot was destroying it, I decided to move it to a better place. I also didn’t want her to embellish the items with kitty fur. 

I logged onto one of my favorite swag shopping places…Two Chicks Design …and started browsing for some items. Then, I remembered I had a “few” items in a couple of different places so I went on a scavenger hunt to relocate all swag to my office before I shopped for more. 

It’s a good thing I did because I had more than I realized. A lot more. And the mound of goodies doesn’t even include ARCs (advance review copies of Embellished) that I’ll be receiving. There were t-shirts in my bedroom closet and a few “extra” totes in the office closet. If there is one thing scrapbookers love, or at least this scrapbooker, it’s cute bags. It’s probably my biggest hobby-shopping weakness … just a tiny bit under layout bling. I had also added some totes to the swag pile as I wanted to have some items that croppers and non-croppers would enjoy. FB Swag Pic

Looking at my stockpile, I’m going to have to conduct a lot of giveaways before the swag overtakes my office. It’s even starting to overpower my Disney collection. Poor Mickey is almost completely hidden by the book release goodies.

Now to figure out what I’ll be giving away first. And no, it won’t be Mickey. He stays as with the cat and princess pillows. There are some things I just can’t part with.

20130913_165940Embellished to Death takes my heroine out of her hometown for a weekend crop retreat and has her helping a different Roget.

When Faith Hunter agrees to help PI Bob Roget find an identity thief at a local scrapbook retreat, her friendly croppers’ weekend quickly morphs into a dangerous one. As croppers share their own memories, a killer collects them for her new identity, and doesn’t appreciate Faith in the picture.

Faith struggles to balance her professional, detecting and personal lives as threats and secrets keep her off-balance. Things turn deadly when a woman is killed and Faith is blackmailed. Truth and lies collide when Faith discovers croppers aren’t the only ones embellishing, and the results might end her life.

 

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