Posted in Craft

Year of Crafting Edition 1: Week 1-10

This year, I vowed to complete one craft (or one stage for longer projects) a week. I love to craft and on January 1st I realized I hadn’t spent much time crafting during 2016. I was going to change that for this year and my goal is to finish up some crafting projects (Disney vacation album), try some new crafts (painting, Deco Mesh wreath making, and use the fabric I bought for projects but have been scared I’d mess up and waste the money I spent so I’m letting all my lovely fabric and patterns just hang out in my storage unit. No more! I realized it’s no more of a waste to not use the fabric and patterns as it is to make a mistake sewing the item (cute patterns for purses I really want to sew). The only way to get better at sewing is to sew.

Here are the projects I have completed so far:

CP 1 and 2 Megan's winter setWeek 1-2: A matching scarf and messy bun hat for my younger daughter. The messy bun hat I used a pattern, and the scarf I made using the double crochet stitch.

CP Week 3 Messy bun hat BrittanyWeek 3: A messy bun hat for my oldest. She saw a picture I posted of her sister’s hat on Facebook and wanted one. I used the same pattern as the one for her sister but this time I used the front and back post stitch for the brim.

CP Week 6 My ScarfWeek 4-6: I’ve been crocheting a little over a year and I hadn’t made myself anything yet. I crocheted blankets, mermaid tail blanket, scarfs, a cozy for a Beta fish tank, but nothing for me. I wanted to use a Caron Cake and on the sleeve of one of the Cakes was a pattern for this scarf. The completed scarf is 70 inches long so I broke it down into steps as I wouldn’t be able to complete it in one week. I love the fringe!

CP Week 7 Alex ScarfWeek 7: When I was crocheting my scarf, my favorite little guy saw it and asked if I’d make him a blue and green one. Of course! I used a scarf knitting loom, and stepped way out of my comfort zone by creating my pattern. I love how it turned out.

CP Week 8 Spring Deco WreathWeek 8: Deco Wreath. I’ve always wanted to make a Deco Mesh wreath and as this 2017 is my year of crafting I decided to give it a try. It also helped that the day I was at AC Moore the supplies for the wreaths were 50% 0ff. I like how the spring wreath turned out and I have supplies to make a Frozen inspired wreath.

CP Week 9 Mardi Gras Cricut CozyWeek 9: I’m donating a basket filled with goodies for a prize at the crop I’m attending and I sewed a Cricut dust cover to add to it. I went with a Mardi Gras theme as it matches the cover of my book Masked to Death as it’s also included in the basket. I’ve sewed some Cricut/Cameo dust covers before but this was the first time I sewed on an embellishment–sequined ribbon.

CP week 10Week 10: This week was a very crafty week for me. I attended a three-day scrapbook retreat so I completed some layouts, and the night before the crop I took a painting class with my oldest. We had a wonderful time and I’m hoping we can make time to go to another one. I dubbed my masterpiece Tinkerbell in Paris.

Posted in Books, Craft, mystery, Scrapbooking, Vacations, Writing

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

Posted in Books, mystery, Scrapbooking, Self-Rescue Princess, West Virginia

Release Day–Framed to Death

Framed to Death CoverIt’s here…release day for Framed to Death. I hate picking a favorite (and I probably say this with every book) but I have to say this cover and the story is one of my favorites. It wasn’t the easiest one to write, to be honest it gave me huge fits at times, but it holds a special place in my heart. My character grew a lot from the ending of Embellished to Framed. I loved writing this journey for her and having her take on an issue causing havoc in her community.

I’ll be making some guest appearances around the world wide web, and I’ll also be at Malice Domestic this weekend. Please stop by and say hi at my stops to enter into a giveaway.

Here’s my schedule:

April 25 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

April 26 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

April 27T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

April 28The Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

April 29Tea and A Book – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

April 303 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too ! – SPOTLIGHT

May 1Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

May 2LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

May 2Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

May 3Musings and Ramblings – GUEST POST

May 4A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

And now a little introduction about Framed to Death:

Eden has turned into a hotspot of crime, and Faith finds herself smack dab in the middle of the flare-up. When a favor for a friend links Faith to the synthetic marijuana problem invading her town, no good deed goes unpunished becomes the title of her life. The town accuses the police of favoritism toward her, putting a strain between Faith and Ted, and a new officer is determined to prove Faith’s guilt.

When the criminal is outed, Faith’s relief is short-lived. A fire takes out the store—along with the suspected dealer—and she’s now number one on an officer’s suspect list. Faith sets out to prove her own innocence, and her digging sparks the truth to life. Instead of the truth setting the town free, Faith finds out it might destroy Eden, the friends she holds dear, and smother out her own life.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Kobo

 

Posted in Craft, How To

Adventures in Glass Beadmaking with Janice Peacock

Earlier this month I wrote about how I started making glass beads. If you missed that post, here’s a link: https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/glass-bead-making-with-janice-peacock/

Today I want to write about the glass beads that I’ve been making in recent years, most of which look like small masks. If you’ve not watched the video on how to make a glass bead, here it is: link

When I make a glass bead, I melt long slender rods of colored glass in my torch, which runs on oxygen and propane and achieves temperatures in excess of 2000 degrees. Since I can’t touch the glass while it’s molten, I use tools to sculpt it in the flame. Many of the tool are things you’d find around your house (especially if you like scrapbooking): an Xacto knife, scissors, and tweezers. People often ask me if I get burned when I work in my studio making beads. Yes, I do, but usually those burns are mild—about what you’d expect if you touched a hot pan in the oven.

I’ve written and published two murder mysteries about a glass beadmaker named Jax O’Connell. The first is High Strung (Booktrope, 2015) and the second is A Bead in the Hand (Booktrope, 2015), both of which are available at all the major retailers. In the first book Jax becomes an amateur sleuth after she finds a dead body behind a bead store in Seattle.

J_Peacock_1 blog post 2Jax and I have some things in common—we are both glass beadmakers and are women of a certain age. But in most other ways we are different—for instance, Jax is fictional and I am not. Jax’s beads are made with bright colors and happy patterns. My beads, on the other hand, are fairly somber in color and look like they are old—like relics from an archeological dig or flotsam that has washed ashore. Jax is a relative newbie to the world of beads. Me? I’ve been creating lampworked beads for nearly 25 years.

In case you are curious: The word “lampworking” comes from a few hundred years ago when beadmakers didn’t have high tech torches and fuels like oxygen and propane. Instead, artisans used oil lamps and bellows to create flames that were hot enough to melt glass.

J_Peacock_3 blog post 2A lot of the beads I make look like small masks or stylized faces. I have several books about African masks that I like to look at for inspiration as well as a collection of masks from around the world. The faces I create are both human and animal forms. Typically, the eyes on the masks are closed. The closed eyes give these beads a peaceful feeling, and these days we can all use a little peace and tranquility in our lives.

I love making beads, and even though my time is now split between glass beadmaking and writing about a fictional glass beadmaker, I know that I’ll never give up the fun and excitement of lighting up my torch and melting glass.

You can see more of my glass work at http://www.janicepeacockglass.com and read about the books in the Glass Bead Mystery Series at http://www.janicepeacock.com.

Janice Peacock
Glass Artist and Author

J_Peacock_6 blog post 2

You can find me in all sorts of places on social media:
Facebook.com/JanicePeacockAuthor
Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest: JanPeac
Blog.janicepeacock.com

Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, mystery, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized, West Virginia

National Craft Month: Cropped to Death Excerpt

I had hoped to have a crafting blog post ready for today but it’s been hectic at the office this week and my hours work hours needing shifting around, so I didn’t have time to finish making my project. This month, I’ve celebrating National Craft Month by alternating between different hobbies: scrapbooking, crocheting, and coloring. I had thought about chatting about my experience with making a photo book through Shutterfly, but as we don’t have the book yet (and I did a scrapbooking post last week) I thought it better to wait.

CROPPED front smSince Cropped to Death is currently on sale for 99 cents for the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks, I thought I’d share an excerpt of Faith preparing for a beginning scrapbooking class–and she gets interrupted.

Excerpt: 

I headed into the paper racks, weaving through the reds and yellows to reach the browns. The hues ranged from sand to a brown so dark it could pass for black. What shade and texture should I use tonight?

A smoother paper worked better for beginners, as it was easier for tearing and for making other embellishments, but I had no idea the skill level of the women signed up for the contest class and mini crop. A texture cardstock added an extra dimension to the work and gave the beginning layout a little edge. If using it for a border, tearing the texture paper added a nice jagged effect with feathering detail.

Maybe a sheet of both styles using a monochromatic scheme. That worked. A deeper beige mixed with a sand almost white shade. Neutrals worked well with any photos. I’d take a look at the students’ pictures when they arrived and pull complementary colors showcased in the photos.

Time to pick embellishments. I gathered up sheets of letter stickers in a variety of fonts and colors for the layout titles. I stopped in front of the clear stamps and picked out an alphabet set. I’d buy the stamps and share them tonight with the class. Hopefully, they’d love them so much, the two attendees would want a set for themselves. To save some money, I’d go with standard neutral paint colors. If the croppers wanted a hue with a little more pop, they could purchase it.

The bell above the door jangled. I took the items out of the basket and arranged them in piles on the tables. Before the crop started, I wanted to check on the amount of choices offered for the class participants. I snapped my fingers. Items for the prize basket.

A shadow fell over me. I jerked upright, and the wind whooshed in my ears even though I was inside. This fear issue was getting annoying. I hated feeling vulnerable. Taking in a deep breath, my heart rate slowed to normal as I realized a new customer, not a stalker, entered into the store.

A dark-haired woman in her late teens hovered behind me. Two splotches of red bloomed on her cheeks and she stammered. “I was wondering if. Well, if you could…would you mind…”

I smiled and waved my hand over the products on the table. “It’s not too late to sign up for the crop tonight.”

She pushed a piece of paper toward me. “I was wondering if…”

I held my pleasant smile and waited.

“If I could… like… get…”

The smile strained my cheeks.

“Your autograph.”

“My what?” I kept my reaction in check, uncertain if amusement or anger was more appropriate.

“Aren’t you the owners’ granddaughter? The one mentioned in the paper?”

I went with anger. Before the scolding exploded from my mouth, the young woman turned and fled out the door. Why couldn’t the store reach celebrity status because of our awesome customer service rather than because of murder?

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, and is able to enjoy their families and their hobbies.

 

Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, Uncategorized

National Craft Month: Fatal Brushstroke Excerpt

I hope everyone is enjoying National Craft Month as much as I am. Currently, I’m reading A Body in the Landscape by Larissa Reinhart, and this weekend I enjoyed three days of cropping at a local crop retreat sponsored by the Rotary Club. I was able to complete my daughter’s scrapbook album (a mix of pocket scrapbooking and traditional layouts) and also uploaded a bunch of pictures to Shutterfly and had them printed. I have two crops coming up in April and didn’t want to run out of photos to scrap at the events.

To continue with my monthly celebration of National Craft month is an brief excerpt from Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson.

fatal brushstrokeExcerpt: 

At home, too wired to sleep yet too tired to work, Rory pulled out the project Nora had given her and spread it out on the empty half of the kitchen table. Before painting on the final product, she wanted to practice the strokes spelling out Samantha’s name. She considered several styles of brush lettering, settling on one that was at the least elaborate end of the spectrum.

Rory drew guidelines on practice paper with a soft pencil, then loaded a flat brush with a fifty-fifty mixture of black acrylic paint and water. After painting the three strokes necessary to produce a capital S, she reviewed her work. She hadn’t lifted her brush quickly enough at the end of each stroke to produce the sharp edges she desired. She tried again, this time writing the full name several times, concentrating on correcting the strokes and keeping the spacing between the letters consistent. After covering two pages with the name, she gave up for the evening, still unhappy with the result. Her hands were too shaky from lack of sleep to produce the letters to her satisfaction.

Blurb:

A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…

Computer programmer and tole painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.

Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weeks before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?

Right now, Fatal Brushstroke is on sale for 99 cents, and I don’t know how long the sale will last.

 

 

Posted in Craft, Disney Layouts, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized

Scrapbooking With the Project Life App

BHApp_IconDesign_FINAL-640x480On Facebook one night, I saw an ad for the Becky Higgins Project Life App and considered it for just a moment before deciding it wasn’t something for me. Yes, I did take some photos on my phone but not enough to purchase an app for making layouts. Though, the app was only $2.99 so not a huge investment. The next evening after work, I wanted to do some crafting (March is National Crafting Month) but was too tired to want to drag out my paper scrapbooking goodies, nor did I feel like traversing downstairs to get yarn for a new crocheting project. What was I to do?

The Project Life App was my answer. It wasn’t that much and I could do some scrapbooking without leaving the comfy recliner (I was really feeling lazy), and I could make some of my pictures into pretty layouts and share on Facebook and Instagram. There were some photos I’d love to have in layout form but don’t want to traditionally scrapbook (another way of saying not having to print them out), and some of those layouts wouldn’t “fit” in any of our scrapbooks.

daughtry PL layout

writing PL layoutI purchased the Becky Higgins Project Life app and started creating. I fell in love! The app includes some layout styles (you can purchase more) and also some kits. There were enough options that I wouldn’t have had to purchase more kits but I need some specific kits for pictures (who am I kidding I love scrapbooking goodies even virtual one)  so picked up a few extras.

I’be made 10 layouts so far and find the process relaxing and it’s becoming my go-to method of relaxing at night. I’ve enjoyed browsing through my phone’s photo gallery and “remembering” events that had taken place. The first day in using the app, I was a little disappointed I couldn’t change the font but discovered the other day there was. When I typed in my journaling, I decided to hit the little up arrow and font choices popped up, including changing the color of the journaling. And if I hit the capital A, I could increase or decrease the size of the font. I was loving the app even more.festival of fantasy PL layout

I’m hoping there will be some new font styles that can be purchased because I’d love a swirly cursive font.

Posted in Craft, Everyday Life, Quilting, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized

Celebrating National Craft Month

creativity takes courageDuring March, we’re celebrating National Craft Month on the Self-Rescue Princess (along with doing an interview or two). There will be posts from authors about their crafting projects, excerpts from novels featuring crafting moments, and reviews of crafting books.

I love crafting. When I was a little girl, I sewed Barbie clothes by hand and spent hours coloring, imaging I was actually painting a masterpiece. The first baby quilt I ever made was also handsewn. I was stationed in Germany and brought the fabric at the large Post Exchange at a nearby Barracks. It was green with rocking horses on it. There weren’t many options so I picked the fabric I thought would work for a boy or girl (I had a girl!). I didn’t have a sewing machine, as sewing hadn’t been something I had thought about doing for a long time, but I had a need to make my baby her first blanket. Baby quilts have now become one of my favorite items to make.IMG_1913

Over the years, I’ve tried my hand at my crafts: cross-stitch, costuming bears (hot gluing strips of silk and lace onto articulated bears), beading, sewing, scrapbooking, paper cut/die cutting creations, and quilting. Megan's afghanLast year, I added crocheting to my list of crafty endeavors. I still sew, quilt, scrapbook, paper cuts, and crochet. Occasionally, I’ll make a card or two but don’t do it as often, and I only make cards for specific occasions rather than because I’m in the mood to craft.

When I’m itching to craft, but not up to working on a particular project, I’ll pull out my paper, fire up the laptop and get my die cutting machines humming so I can make “cuts”. I find the process relaxing, and I get to embellish. There’s nothing quite as fun as getting out glitter, chalk, and pens to make my paper creations come to life.2014-10-28 19.15.18

Anything Goes Cut Party and stuff 014

I’d love to see some of your creations so please feel free to share some of your projects in the comment section. Let’s inspire each other to craft more in March.

Posted in Cooking

Blue Apron Favorite: Spicy Korean Chicken Wings

2015-11-02 18.32.44Or as my husband wanted me to title this post: Winner Winner is this Chicken Dinner. We’d been looking forward to trying this meal since I received our order on Thursday afternoon, and figured Monday (wings are perfect for game day) was the night. We usually cook together, but my husband had to work a little later so I was on my own in the kitchen. The first thing I loved about this meal was the ease in prepping it myself. While the chicken was in the oven, I had plenty of time to prepare the rice cakes and baby bok choy without feeling like I was rushing around. I’m still a slow chopper, so sometimes the other ingredients aren’t ready to toss into the pan with its their turn.

I’ve never cooked rice cakes or baby bok choy and was excited about giving it a try. It might sound a little strange to get excited about using new ingredients but it’s what I love most about Blue Apron. Every week, there’s at least one meal with an ingredient I’ve never used. Learning how to cook different types of cuisines and foods has really brought back my love of cooking. (I’m actually thinking about taking some culinary classes at the local college.)

The chicken turned out perfect with the right amount of char and heat. I had used all of the gochujang and was afraid it would be a little spicy for me. My husband usually likes things a little spicier, and the last time I used less of a spice it didn’t have enough of a kick for him. For this recipe we both enjoyed the heat level. The rice cakes and baby bok choy complemented the chicken wings perfectly. I especially liked the little bit of texture and crunch the sesame seeds gave the side dish.

The only disappoint is that my pictures didn’t turn out. The meal looked delicious. And my husband complemented me on my plating techniques. (We’ve also been watching a lot more Food Network lately.) I had checked the photo on my screen but not in my gallery. If I had, I’d have noticed it was a little blurry as I had touched the lens when I pulled the phone from my pocket. I need to start putting my cell lens down in my pocket as this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

The Spicy Korean Chicken Wings with Rice Cakes and Baby Bok Choy has pushed two other dishes from our favorite meal slot. My husband’s favorite had been the spicy meatball dish, and mine was the shrimp and grits meal. We both now have the same meal in the number one spot. We’re really hoping this comes up again in the meal rotation.

Posted in Books, Excerpt, mystery

Excerpt: Dying for Redemption

In celebration of Halloween, I’ve made my paranormal mystery Dying for Redemption free until November 1. This is a book that had come out with a small press in 2002. I received the right backs, reworked a few elements of the original story, than self-published it a few years ago. Dying for Redemption features Callous Demar, a murdered PI, who helps the other recently murdered solve their cases so they can rest. This is the first book in what I’ve always planned on turning into a series. The second book had been put on hold while I worked on other series. Next year, I hope to find some time to reenter the Working Shadow, Inc world and finish Dying for Perception.

dyingforredemption_smallExcerpt:

I preferred Limbo to what lay beyond, but that probably rested in the fact that my final greeter would more likely be Satan than Saint Peter. I also ran the risk of destroying my baby sister Jenny if I launched a search into the question that kept my soul rattling in the between. With over a half-century of attendance, Limbo edged out my time spent among the living.

I liked my job, sticking my nose into other people’s problems and business. I liked brushing away the dirt to set the truth free… or at least shaking up the lies to see if a semblance of fact shifted out of the muck. Invited, of course. Messing around in people’s lives—or deaths—without permission bordered on gossip. And dead men didn’t tell tales outside the pages of novels or politics.

Slow. The definition of today. Good for the living, bad for a restless spirit. No-eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth, haunting-for-a-murder philosophy to put into motion.

“Here are some potential clients.” My secretary, Ann, dropped a few sheets of paper onto my desk.

“You know my rules.” I pushed them away as I had every day since she floated into my office twenty-five years ago after answering the job placement ad I had posted with the Successful Dead Employment Agency for an assistant. I had explained that I needed a beautiful, leggy blonde to do filing, answer calls, and look beautiful. I later modified it to female, beautiful, leggy, and blonde, as Hallie, the owner of the agency, had a wicked sense of humor.

Ann filled all of my requirements. A reminder she repeated whenever I complained about her lack of listening and obeying skills. She said those were not listed in her job description.

She had found herself residing in Limbo after her boyfriend accidentally killed her on their first rock-climbing excursion together—something about a cable between him and her coming loose, but the one attaching him to the rock had been snugger than a bug in a rug, an excuse the court, but not Ann, bought. Revenge boiled in Ann’s soul, keeping her tied to the living world.

Fortunately, Ann cared about herself enough not to seek revenge. Dying is sometimes chosen on our behalf, but Hell is entirely up to us.

“We could expand our services into helping the newly dead have a smoother transition into the afterlife.” Ann batted her baby-blues. “You know, advertise our services.”

“We? Our?” I leaned back in the chair and ran my fingers through my still-thick dark hair as I rested my wingtips on the desk. Lack of aging was the greatest benefit of our predicament. I had stopped at thirty-five, and Ann at twenty. “Until they walk in, we don’t know if they have accepted their new phase of existence.”

“We can expand our services into helping them understand.”

I waved off her words. “Then I’d have to hire one of those shrinks.”

“You need to evolve, Calamar.” Ann rested one rounded hip on my desk.

The disadvantage in arguing with the dead was that threats didn’t work. Ann knew that I hated my given name. I swore I’d be dead before any woman ever uttered it. Calamar Louise Demar. My mother and father had fancied themselves poets. For some reason, they were never published.

“Callous, Anastasia.”

She eyed me like a hungry dog would a steak on a counter—one jump and a quick snap of the teeth, prey caught, then devoured whole.

“Ann.” The shortened name oozed from her throat. Hips swaying back and forth, she strutted out the door. The show finished with a toss of her pale locks over her shoulder and the flash of a victorious smile.

I waited a few minutes to make sure she wasn’t going to throw open the door and Ah-ha me. I pulled the sheets of paper toward me to acquaint myself with the new residents. Okay, Ann knew my plan. I refused to chase down clients, but I liked knowing who entered our world. There were a few people who deserved to spend eternity pondering their undeserved afterlife in Limbo.

The third entry caught my eye—Willow Flannery, thirty-two, an independently wealthy businesswoman, married four months, died in a car accident. The dame had left a nice sum of dough in her bank account for the grieving widower. Woman. I really needed to watch my nouns. She had driven her red BMW into a tree, causing her to fly through the windshield. Ouch. Neither status nor wealth saved a person, but a seatbelt could do the job. Common sense seemed to have passed her right by… or else a certain husband knew about cars and dabbled in a little tampering.

“I found her,” Ann crowed, throwing open my day.

Ann made up her own rules to suit the season, the day, the hour, or just her mood. Since the day she arrived, I had been trying to explain the difference between boss and secretary. She looked at me as one does a child; I was here for her to see and not hear. I let it slide. The other choice didn’t suit my fancy—alone for eternity. Most ghosts didn’t want to work. They wanted leisure.

And, Ann was easy on the eyes.

“Found who?” I know darn well who.

“Willow Flannery, the millionaire businesswoman whose husband happened to inherit her business when she died. Not to mention the sizable insurance.”

“How sizable?”

“One hundred million.”

I whistled. That kind of money could make a nun kill. “Besides the moola, any reason to believe it wasn’t her forgetting to look in front of her? Maybe she was…” I wiggled my fingers in the air.

“Texting.”

“That. Texting. Seems to be a bad habit with the living.”

“Brakes were cut.”

That raised suspicion. “Police have a hunch?”

“They believe the butler did it.”

I laughed. Ann eyeballed me again. I continued to voice my mirth. Fifty years later and police still fell for blaming the butler. I wondered how much cash exchanged bank accounts for the butler to accept the rap.

Sobering, I rested my crossed arms on my chest. “What does she know about being here?”

“She knows she died, but doesn’t understand why she’s in Limbo.”

“Heard that story before.” I let out a sigh and sat up, removing my cracked, brown leather shoes from the desk. A good detective never looked nonchalant when interviewing the recently killed. “Send her in… since she’s already in the reception area.”

Ann’s pearly whites flashed as she swung her hips, and then exited my private office. Didn’t matter the decade, women always wanted men to look, they just didn’t want men acting like they liked what they saw… unless the woman wanted that acknowledgement.

Willow Flannery glided into the room.

Take a note: Names can be deceiving.

Willow definition: graceful, tall, slender. Glide definition: move smoothly, effortlessly—think swan swimming across a pond. Of course, that was after the ugly duckling phase. Part two had to have part one in order for completion. This new entry into the afterlife proved everything had an exception.

Willow was raven-haired and well-rounded. If she was about four inches taller, she’d fill out nicely. Her hair hung straight down to her chin, the locks circling around her head like a cover for a beekeeper’s bonnet. A portion was cut out to leave her features exposed, an opening in a picture frame. Large gray eyes looked at me with no hint of wonderment, confusion, or even interest. She knew where she was and why. Confidence vibrated with every step. She was at home in her body, mind, and spirit.
And some SOB had sent her away from the living. I had to find out whom. She held her hand out to me. I stood and accepted the offering, allowing her fingers and palm to rest on top of mine.

I drew her hand toward my lips and kissed it. “Willow Flannery, I presume.”

She yanked her hand back quicker than it took a mosquito bite to itch. “You presume too much.”

Her voice was deep and raspy. Enticing, if not for the eyes that said I had treaded where I didn’t belong.

“I didn’t come to be assaulted.” Her eyes held a challenge.

“Assaulted?”

“You grabbed my hand.”

“I was saying hello.”

“By placing your lips uninvited on my hand?” Her eyes turned into tiny slits on her round face. “That is sexual harassment.”

Sexual? Harassment? What was the dame talking about? That was a quick, harmless kiss of greeting. I looked toward the door and saw Ann grinning in amusement.

“Listen, Ms. Flannery, there’s some mistake here. A peck on the hand doesn’t fall under assault.”

She looked around the room. I tried to see it through her eyes. The desk was a massive piece of faux oak, like the fabric chair and marred bookcases pressed against the wall behind it. Mismatched lamps stood in strategic corners. The only type of furniture I could afford when I lived remained my style of decorating… hand-me-down chic. My only upgrade was a nice cherry wood hat rack, polished to a high shine, where my collection of beloved fedoras hung with pride.

She nodded once, sat down in a threadbare chair, and crossed her legs, one rounded knee on top of the other. “I’m either in hell or purgatory.”

“Limbo,” Ann chimed from outside my office.

I walked over to the door. Casually, I stuck out my left foot and pressed it against the wooden door. A good shove and bang—right into the frame. And if luck existed, against the tip of the nose of Ann.

I pulled two notebooks from my jacket pocket, one black and one blue. The black one was for notes on cases; the blue was to write down the special phrases and ways of the new decade coming in. Kissing without asking is considered sexual harassment.

“So, this is the afterlife. For some reason, I expected something…” She paused and scanned the office. “More.”

“It’s a mimic of the world a person lived in, without the worry of dying. Everything is pretty generic here. The buildings, the scenery. The ghosts that stick around start to see their environment take on a sense of who they are.”

Her eyebrows rose and a smirk broke out on her face. “That explains your office.”

I liked the dame. Spunk. Fighting spirit.

“Can they see us?” She leaned forward, eyes displaying fascination with her new existence. “The living?”

“Some can. Some can’t because they don’t have the ability. Some refuse to acknowledge our existence, and there’s nothing we can do to force them to see.”

“Does that work in your favor or against it, Callous?”

I fought back a grin. “You’ve heard of me already.”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s on your door.”