Daily Deal

An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude
Downton Tabby
sa 2015

sa 2015

SparkleAbbey-AuthorPhoto-2An Attitude of Gratitude

by Sparkle Abbey


We recently had an opportunity to chat with some readers about family traditions. Our biggest take-away from those conversations was, it’s all about attitude. So many talked about how, though they love family traditions, things were going to be different this year. For some, they’d become empty-nesters, for others they’d lost someone dear, and for still others, there were new additions to their families.

We’ve both had our share of life changes this past year and the stories these readers shared reminded us that whether a happy change or a sad one, change requires adjustments. And the main thing you have to adjust is your attitude.

There is joy in remembering times past and in making new memories.

There is joy in carrying on traditions, but perhaps adapting them to include new family members.

There is joy in beginning new traditions—maybe enjoying a quiet dinner, catching a movie, or taking a drive to see the holiday lights.

Or maybe your quiet get-together has become a rollicking feast with new little ones, or new in-laws, or outlaws. There can be joy in that change too.

As 2015 comes to a close and we reflect on all the changes (both good and bad) we’ve experienced this year, we hope to remember the stories that were shared.

And we hope we remember to find the joy.


Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They write a national bestselling pet themed mystery series set in Laguna Beach. The first book in the series Desperate Housedogs, an Amazon Mystery Series bestseller and Barnes & Noble Nook #1 bestseller, was followed by Get Fluffy, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, Yip/Tuck, Fifty Shades of Greyhound, and The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo. Downton Tabby is the latest installment in the series. Up next is Raiders of the Lost Bark. www.SparkleAbbey.com


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Cold Christmas Traditions

Cold Christmas Traditions
Buzz Bernard

Buzz Bernard



By H.W. “Buzz” Bernard


I’m kind of a sucker for Christmas traditions: cold weather, warm homes with flames dancing in a fireplace, trees drooping with tinsel and lights, carols filling the air.  Thus, there are a couple of scenes early in BLIZZARD, my newest novel, that depict a Thomas Kinkade-like ambience in the suburban Atlanta home of my protagonist, J. C. Riggins.

I designed the bucolic, perhaps nostalgic, backdrops to provide a biting counterpoint to what happens to J. C. later in the book when he’s hurled into the teeth of a historic Southern snowstorm . . . and a few other things.  You know, outlaw bikers, characters who aren’t who they initially seem, and a pack of wolves (escaped from captivity).

But back to the Christmasy introductory settings.  Among other things, they’re developed against frigid conditions that bear “a touch of the Yukon.”  You may wonder if it really ever gets that cold in “Hotlanta” around Christmas.  The answer is yes, it does.  I’ve lived there almost three decades and remember plenty of chilly Christmases.  Often the day will dawn frosty with the mercury later struggling up only into the 40s.  Okay, you’re right.  Not quite arctic conditions.

But there have been such times.  Shortly before I arrived in the city, December 1983 delivered three consecutive days with single-digit lows: 3º on Christmas Eve morning, a flat zero on Christmas morning, and 5º the following a.m.

Just before Christmas 1989, I recall a stretch of four consecutive days when readings failed to top freezing, even during daylight hours.  Christmas Eve day dawned with the mercury sitting (and shivering?) at 4º.

These Christmas excursions into tundra temperatures aren’t common, of course, but I made sure they performed a curtain call in BLIZZARD.

And if you want to talk about really cold Christmases, let me tell you about Christmas Day 1980 in Boston.  It’s one I’ll never forget.  Perhaps it was stuck in the back of my mind as I wrote the holiday scenes for the novel.   At any rate, as darkness fell on Christmas Eve over eastern Massachusetts that year, temperatures were chilly but hardly cold, at least by New England standards.

The reading in Boston at midnight registered 32º.  That was prior to the arrival of screaming northwest winds (yeah, a major league cold front) that likely boosted the airspeed of Santa and his reindeer to around 400 mph.  Anyway, the mercury tumbled to below zero by Christmas morning and remained stuck there all day.  I’m certain that windchills dived into the 30- to 40-below range.  I know for a fact the temperature inside my condo that day never topped 59º.

That was a little too much nostalgia for me.

Hope you enjoy BLIZZARD.


Blizzard by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard is on sale for $1.99 today only! Click the cover below to purchase! Blizzard - 200x300x72

Top 5 Things That Are Guaranteed to Get Me Out of My Jammies

Top 5 Things That Are Guaranteed to Get Me Out of My Jammies
Web of Deceit
sleeman pic 1
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Top 5 Things That Are Guaranteed to Get Me Out of My Jammies

By Susan Sleeman


A bomb. A submachine gun. A plane crash. The roof torn from a car. CSI investigation.

Sounds like a book right. Or movie. Or even something a writer might conjure up in her mind. Wrong. It’s a day in the life of a romantic suspense author. A day in my life. Several days actually.

Not my typical schedule, though. I write fulltime so I’ve become a real homebody, sitting in my comfy chair—some days not even bothering to get dressed. But then, there have been crazy, amazing days when research has pulled me from my chair to participate in things I never imagined myself doing. Here are a few of my favorite events.


  1. Detonating a Bomb – Lest you think the FBI is coming after me for this, let me first tell you that I was with the FBI bomb squad at the time. As a participant in the FBI Citizen’s Academy, I joined agents for six weeks to learn about their job and mission. Some things I experienced first hand. What better way to experience the power of bombs than pressing the detonator in an empty field. The flash was blinding. The ground rumbled. And the explosion was deafening. AMAZING! Here’s a short video of one of the explosions. The video doesn’t have nearly the impact of the actual event, but it gives you an idea. As a bonus, you can also hear gunshots from the nearby firing range.

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  1. And speaking of guns, shooting a submachine gun—Same day, up the hill at the FBI firing range. We shot pistols, submachine guns, and a rifle. I’d only ever fired a weapon once before this
    day and let me tell you, the power behind the semi-automatic was incredible. Here’s the range and the targets we tried to hit, plus our instructors waiting to teach us how to proper procedures.


  1. Tour a police CSI Lab – Don’t believe everything the amazing CSI labs that you see on TV have,  with state-of-the-artpic 2 equipment in these bright, airy rooms. Not so much with real police labs. They are strapped for money and cramped in small spaces, but still, I learned so many things. One was how to process fingerprints, and then how to use a fuming chamber to obtain fingerprints from uneven surfaces and hard-to-dust surfaces such as bottles, knives, guns, etc.


  1. Participate in a plane crash – What? A crash. Okay it was a mock disaster drill at the Portlanpic 3d International Airport, but hey, the emergency response workers didn’t treat it as a drill. They screamed onto the tarmac to help victims wearing gory makeup meant to simulate serious injuries. Mock family members arrived at the airport and were taken to special rooms to await the news of their loved ones. It all felt so real and gave me everything I’d need to write such a disaster. I’m just waiting for the right book. And as a bonus, I got a great t-shirt and medal for participating.


  1. Using the jaws of life to remove the roof from a car – Okay, this one involved hunky pic4firefighters, nuff said, but there was actual research here, too. The firefighters first demonstrated how to cut off the roof, then I was given the chance to step into turnouts and open up another car with my fellow participants enrolled in the local Police Academy.




So as you can see, being a romantic suspense author can be thrilling, and I try to put that realism and thrill into my books. For example, I have included a bomb in Web of Deceit.




Web of Deceit is the first book in a three book series featuring female FBI agents assigned to an elite Cyber Action Team. When agent Kaitlyn Knight’s brother-in-law, the notorious cybercriminal Vyper, kills her sister then goes on a murderous spree taunting Kait, homicide detective Sam Murdock must find Vyper before he takes another life. As the body count rises, Sam discovers the killing spree is really about striking back at Kait, and he must put everything on the line—including the relationship he’s developed with Kait—to ensure her safety. Vyper is waiting, watching her every move, and he won’t stop until he’s exacted his revenge and reclaims his rights to raise his daughter now in Kait’s custody.




Web of Shadows releases in December and Web of Lies in April. In honor of all three books, I’ve been giving away official FBI insignia items like the ones in the picture. These are official items purchased at the Portland FBI campus store. All my giveaways will be featured on my Facebook page, so stop on over and like the page to keep from missing any of the giveaways.



Web of Deceit by Susan Sleeman is only $1.99 today only! Click the cover above to purchase!

“The Infamous ‘Eyebrow'”

“The Infamous ‘Eyebrow'”
Dead (A Lot) FINAL
Bloody Bloody Apple

Howard-11“The Infamous ‘Eyebrow'”

by Howard Odentz

I don’t have the infamous ‘eyebrow’.

You see, every time I look at a blog or a site devoted to horror writers, each one of them is pictured very close to the camera with their fingers tented in front of them and one eyebrow arching to the sky.

Just one.

I can’t do that. I also can’t taste that weird litmus paper from high school biology. I can, however, curl my tongue, but I doubt that little talent is going to help me look like the author of the creepy things I write about.

I suppose it all comes down to genetics—my genotype forces me to write scary things. My phenotype is somewhere between a New England preppy and a cartoon. Nope—nothing disturbing about that, unless you have an irrational fear of all things L.L. Bean or Looney Tunes.

How my brain got so twisted inside, who’s to say? All I know is that when my hands fall on the keyboard, murderous psychopaths and gory visions flow out of them, and sometimes children who like to kill.

So how is it that my favorite holiday is Halloween? What mental glitch makes me turn to ‘The Walking Dead’ instead of ‘Downton Abbey’? Why do I scour YouTube in search of scary videos that will add spice to my nightmares while I sleep because I think regular dreams are so boring?

Who knows?

My parents were no more terrifying than me. My sisters devoured Harlequin romances like they were the best thing ever. Sure, I was terrified of the family poodle, but she had little needle teeth and growled at me every time she had a bone and I walked into the same room. Who wouldn’t run screaming the other way—or dress her in doll clothes when she had the rare mellow moment?

For whatever the reason, I’m told that people burst out laughing in the middle of some of my horror stories. I guess there’s a little bit of funny swimming beneath the troubled current of everything I write. That humorous shark-fin that can give you the giggles sometimes surfaces. I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but even when I don’t want it to be there, it sometimes knifes through my words, attached to a gigantic killer lurking just beneath each page.

In the end, I guess I can’t fight the scary or the dark humor. I suppose my eyes will always naturally stray to the creepy, twisted edges of things. It’s a weird way of looking at the world, but it’s my way, and I long ago learned not to fight it.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  For now, I have to run. My llamas are staring at me with those huge, dead eyes, hoping that I’ll grain them soon, and I have an appointment to get my dog, Einstein, fitted for a wheelchair.

What? That’s normal, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

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Bloody Bloody Apple

Howard Odentz is a Western Massachusetts author of playwright. His first novel, ‘Dead (a Lot)’, described as a humorous and thrilling zombie-ride, was published by Bell Bridge books in 2013. In 2014 it hit #1 on Amazon in several categories including young adult horror and humor-horror. In 2015 it became an Ariana Award Winner and an Epic Award Finalist.

His latest novel ‘Bloody Bloody Apple’ was released on October 17, 2014 to all major on-line platforms including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and Google Play. It is also available for order through bookstores or through the publisher, Bell Bridge, at www.bellebooks.com.

Read more about Howard Odentz at www.howardodentz.com.