Meet the Author

Author Spotlight: Diana Pharaoh Francis

Author Spotlight: Diana Pharaoh Francis
Author Pic
The Black Ship
The Cipher
Whisper of Shadows
Edge of Dreams

Making the New Year’s Resolution

Last year was an awful year on a lot of fronts. We lost so many talented people–actors, musicians, writers, artists. It feels like the Grim Reaper took an extra big haul–like he was taking notes from George. R. R. Martin. So many of those who died had a great deal of impact on me through their work. Losing them is like losing bits of myself, of my past, of the world itself. Many important moments of my life have been punctuated by their art.

It made me wonder what they were thinking as they created their works. Did they have any idea how much impact they could have? Or would have? I can’t imagine that they did. They each had something they wanted to say, some emotion or idea they wanted to capture. I know that when I write, I want to make the rest of the world go away. I want to entertain. I want good to triumph against evil, even though it doesn’t always. I always want there to be heroes, even when it seems there are none to be found. I look around in this world and I see those heroes everyday in the news. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things, is what some people like to call them. But they aren’t ordinary, are they? None of us are. We are all extraordinary in our own way. We all have the ability to be somebody else’s hero.

So that’s my New Year’s Resolution: to be somebody’s hero as often as I can, in all the ways I can.

Be entertained by Diana Pharaoh Francis! Pick up Trace of Magic! Only $0.99 until til the 14th!

4 ½ Stars TOP PICK –RT Magazine

“Best book of the year!” –Faith Hunter, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Jane Yellowrock series

Even the most powerful tracers can’t track you if the magical trace you leave behind is too old. But I can track almost anything, even dead trace. That makes me a unicorn, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Loch Ness Monster all rolled into one. In a word, I am unique. A very special snowflake. And if anyone ever finds out, I’ll be dead or a slave to one of the Tyet criminal factions.

Riley Hollis has quietly traced kidnapped children and quietly tipped the cops to their whereabouts one too many times. Now she’s on the radar of Detective Clay Price, a cop in the pocket of a powerful magic Tyet faction. When he blackmails her into doing a dangerous trace for him, Riley will have to break every rule that keeps her safe. Or become a Tyet pawn in a deadly, magical war.

“Diana Pharaoh Francis has crafted a winning paranormal mystery that mixes sizzling sex, magic, and a decades old search for artifacts that could change their world.” –Jeanne Stein, Bestselling Author of The Anna Strong Chronicles

“Trace of Magic caught me up fast and pulled me in tight for a fun, action-and-sass adventure full of deadly magic and dangerous romance. Diana Pharaoh Francis delivers a downright terrific read.” –Devon Monk, nationally Bestselling Author of Hell Bent

 

And make sure you pick up the rest of Diana Pharaoh Francis’s wonderful selection!

Diamond City Magic Novels:

The Crosspointe Novels:

PURVEYOR OF GRINCHINESS THAT I AM . . .

PURVEYOR OF GRINCHINESS THAT I AM . . .

by H.W. Buzz Bernard

Okay, I admit it.  Even though I’m old and cranky, I still harbor a bit of nostalgia when it comes to the December holidays.  I love the trappings of a traditional Christmas: melodious carols, twinkling lights, a nip in the air.

 

(But egg nog?  Forget it.  Gimme a shot of Jack on the rocks instead.)

 

Anyhow, there’s a heartfelt, evocative Christmas scene in Blizzard, one I truly enjoyed writing. It flowed from memories of Christmases past in another time and another place, when I dwelled not in the South, but in a location closer to the North Pole, New England.  (Which is as near Santa’s digs as I ever want to get.)

 

Now I live in Atlanta—and have for many years—where frigid December holidays are as scarce as Democrats.  So to write my scene, I journeyed into times gone by.  I felt the warmth of blazes crackling in stone fireplaces, sniffed the aromas of gingerbread and fresh-cut fir wafting through happy homes, and peered out windows to watch Siberian winds whipping over icy ponds.

 

But why, you ask, would a thriller writer be, well, thrilled to paint a Currier & Ives scene with words?  I had a purpose, of course.

 

I placed my protagonist, a decent man and loving father and husband, in an “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” moment of holiday warmth and tranquility before thrusting him—purveyor of Grinchiness that I can be (ain’t being a novelist fun?)—into a frozen nightmare of violence and death.

 

Think he can survive?  You can find out for only $1.99. Just click the cover!

Beginnings

Beginnings
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don-donaldsonBEGINNINGS

 

I love to watch movies about how famous people got their start, especially singers.  The other night I saw a TV rerun of WALK THE LINE, the biopic about Johnny Cash. There’s something fascinating about how he barged into Sam Philips’ recording studio in Memphis and talked the man into giving him an audition.  Cash and his two buddies do a gospel song for Philips and he’s obviously not very interested. When they finish, Philips says, “I can’t sell gospel music. Got anything else?” That’s the big turning point.  Philips didn’t say Cash couldn’t sing.  He wanted to hear something different. Now, I’m on the edge of my seat.  What did Johnny Cash do next? He sang a little song he wrote himself, FOLSOM PRISON BLUES.  And that sealed the deal.  By the way, Joaquin Phoenix played Johnny Cash and really sang the songs himself.  Amazing.

My interest in big breaks that launch careers isn’t limited to singers. It also extends to writers (big surprise).  The story about how Stephen King sold his first book sounds as though it was scripted for dramatic effect.  As many of you may know, his first novel was Carrie, a tale of a bullied young girl with telekinetic powers who takes revenge on her tormenters.  Initially, he wrote three pages of what was intended to be a short story, then believing it was no good, tossed the pages away. His wife later took them out of the trash, read them, and encouraged him to develop the story into a novel.  After thirty publishers rejected the book, Doubleday picked it up for a modest advance. The hardcover sold only 13,000 copies, but the paperback rights went for $400,000, half to King, half to Doubleday.  The sale of this book rescued King and his wife from a barely solvent existence.  For more details on all this, see http://mentalfloss.com/article/53235/how-stephen-kings-wife-saved-carrie-and-launched-his-career

I also like to hear stories about how people met their spouses. Here’s mine. I first saw my future wife when my family traveled from our home in Toledo, Ohio, to Jacksonville, Florida, for my uncle’s wedding.  At the home of the bride to be, I was introduced to her incredibly gorgeous younger sister, Lois.  This dazzling girl was dressed in a sparkling white blouse and white shorts.  On the floor was a toddler eating some kind of soft candy that he had smeared all over his fingers and face.  Suddenly noticing that his mother had left the room, the toddler began to cry.  Thinking only about the welfare of the little boy, Lois picked the child up in her arms to comfort him. This of course soon led to the toddler smearing candy all over Lois’s white blouse. And Lois didn’t mind at all! I knew then that this girl was also beautiful on the inside.

For several years we communicated with each other by letter and phone calls (this was long before the invention of texting and Skype).  Then, for a variety of reasons, (rigors of college mostly) I stopped writing. One day I received a card from Lois.  On the front it said, I’D LIKE TO GET ON YOUR GOOD SIDE.  Inside, it read, IF YOU HAVE ONE.

Over fifty years later, I still admire her for choosing that card.  She humbled herself by letting me know she was still interested, but also, at the same time, managed to stick it to me.

In thinking about how people meet, I’m reminded of Carl and Beth, the two lead characters in my medical thriller, THE BLOOD BETRAYAL. (Yes, we’ve now come to the commercial portion of our program) Anyway, I’m willing to bet that no two people ever met in a more unusual manner than those two.

I can imagine Carl relating the story to one of his grandkids.

“Tell me how you and Grandma met,” the boy says to Carl.  Carl smiles, thinks back, and shakes his head.  “Well, I was driving away from this little town where I’d just upset the local doctor so bad that I was sure he wanted to kill me. Then the craziest thing happened.”

“What?” the boy asks.

Carl reaches for a book and hands it to his grandson.  “It’s all in here, my boy.  And better understood if you read about it yourself.”

I’d tell you more, but I agree with Carl that you should read the book for yourself and not depend on someone like me to interpret it for you. (Although if you were going to rely on a guide through it, I’d probably be a good choice.)

 

-Don Donaldson

 

THE BLOOD BETRAYAL is on sale for just $1.99! Grab it today!

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Meet My Hero

Meet My Hero
Donnell Bell

Donnell BellMeet My Hero

by Donnell Ann Bell

 

Since I write romantic suspense, one of the requirements is that I include a hero. He’s tall and buff and smart and the type that readers will either swoon or fan themselves. But today I’d like to tell you about a real life hero who does neither of that when you look at her.  You see, she’s well into her 80s, and I see her at times when I’m driving home or on my way to the store. She loves to walk, and while she’s out walking, she carries a bag and picks up the trash she passes along the way.

She’s not saving lives or putting out fires, but she is making our neighborhood better. What’s more she’s been a great influence on me.  What a great idea, I thought, so while I’m out walking Charley, and just happen to have a bag, I pick up trash.

Maybe I’ll run into this lady one day on one of my walks and thankBuried Agendas her for being an unsung hero and a positive influence.

In Buried Agendas, a book that is on $1.99 special through August 31 on all digital forums from Bell Bridge Books, my heroine is concerned about the environment as well and goes undercover. So, in effect, she’s a lot like my elderly neighbor.  I hope you’ll check it out!  http://donnellannbell.com/books/buried-agendas/

Summertime, and the reading is easy!

Summertime, and the reading is easy!
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Keiler Photo 1
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Keiler Photo 1Summertime, and the reading is easy!

I vacation every summer in a beautiful beach town on the New Jersey shore, not too far from where my husband grew up. I start each day with a leisurely jog up and down the town’s boardwalk bordering the beach, which offers the best views of the sun rising up out of the Atlantic Ocean. The beach is always empty then—except for an occasional gathering of sea gulls—and the breezes lift off the water and keep me and the few other early joggers from getting too hot. It is the most peaceful time of day. While my sneakered feet stay on the boardwalk, my mind wanders in all directions. I get some of my best writing ideas during these tranquil morning jogs.

After I return to the inn where my husband and I stay, I wash up, Keiler Photo 2change into a swimsuit and coverup, and grab some breakfast, after which we head back down to the beach, armed with chairs, an umbrella, and books, books, books! My husband loves biographies, narrative history, and thrillers, many of which he buys in hardcover (which makes our beach tote bag weigh a ton.) I prefer women’s fiction, romances, and mysteries—the same genres I write—and I read them on my Kindle. Of course, this means I can bring hundreds of books down to the beach with me, all stored on my lightweight reading device.

 

Much as I love my morning jogs (and my evening ice-cream Keiler Photo 3pig-outs; our inn is a short walk from a fabulous ice-cream parlor), my favorite part of vacation is sitting on the beach and reading. I slide my chair into the umbrella’s shade, dig my toes into the sand, and gorge on books. My definition of bliss!

 

If you’re like me, and looking for some delicious new books to read while you’re on vacation, I hope you’ll give The April Tree a try, especially while it’s specially priced at only $1.99. Much as I love all the books I’ve written (one hundred so far!), The April Tree is the book closest to my heart. It contains drama, romance, sorrow, and laughter. It’s about life and loss, fate and faith. And it’s about the enduring bonds of friendship.

 

Some of you may be beach readers like me. Some may be hammock Keiler Photo 4readers. Some of you may be hopping on planes and traveling long distances this summer—but hey, you’ll need a good book or two to keep you company on the flight. So stock up on your summertime reading—and take advantage of any discounts you can find. I hope you’ll include The April Tree on your summer reading list.

 

Judith Arnold

 

 

THE APRIL TREE is on sale for just 1.99! Grab it today!

Power of Perseverance

Power of Perseverance
A Beastly Scandal
shereen-06 400 x 466 BW 2016

Power of Perseverance

By Shereen Vedam

 

“Death is Peaceful, Life is Harder”

Stephenie Meyer, Twilight

 

Right after I read the above quote, a friend mentioned a line from anshereen-06 400 x 466 BW 2016 old TV show called St. Elsewhere: “Death ends a life, it doesn’t end a relationship.”

 

Both quotes are so very true. When someone dies, the love of those left behind does not die with their loved one, it lingers on. As for the one who died, he or she can be drawn to the vibrancy of life they were left behind, especially if the one who they once cared for, is still grieving their passing.

 

Deep love perseveres.

 

A Beastly Scandal - 600x900x300Breaking the lure of life isn’t easy. In my Regency romance, A Beastly Scandal, the heroine discovers this when a widow asks her to cleanse her home, Clearview Manor, of a persistent ghost. The first thing the ghost does when Belle arrives is try to kill her. She perseveres. Because the last time she tried to help this man, it was when he was still alive, and she failed. This time, she will not abandon him. Not if he refuses to accept her help, not even if his son throws her out of his home.

 

Perseverance has the power to overcome obstacles, shrug off discouragement and surmount fear. When life seems hard – and believe me, it will get hard because that is the nature of life – remember to believe in yourself, and to not give up. If you can do that, you will get through this day, the next, and the one after that. In the end, you will triumph, because the power of perseverance is magical. Like love. Dead or alive.

 

EXCERPT from A Beastly Scandal:

 “That is a desolate looking house, is it not?” Winfield said. “I would have it torn down and rebuilt in a more flattering style, but Terrance seems fond of this monstrosity. So what brings you so far north, my lady?”

She faced the gentleman. “I have come for a visit with Lady Terrance. She is my grandfather’s friend.”

“I had heard the countess still wore dark colors.”

Before she could respond, a loud crack sounded. She sensed danger stab from above. With a shouted warning, she pulled Mr. Winfield out of harm’s way just as an icicle crashed and shattered where they had stood. She protected her face as splinters flew in all directions.

Mendal screamed. The owl fluttered its one good wing and screeched. The dog barked ferociously.

Mr. MacBride spoke first, his voice quivering and eyes wide with terror. “It is an omen, ah tell ye.”

“He is right,” Mendal said, sounding unusually timorous as she crossed herself. “We should leave. Bad luck comes from going where we are not wanted.”

The front doors opened then, and a footman descended. Immediately, the dog raced up the stairs and inside.

“Dog!” Belle called out in alarm. The animal might wreck the place. This was not how she had hoped to introduce herself to the countess.

An older woman, dressed in black, moved to the open doorway. Belle recognized her from a drawing her grandfather had shown her. This was Lady Terrance. She gave off waves of fear as she looked toward the roofline.

Belle’s worries drowned beneath the lady’s emotional assault, leaving her head pounding with a headache. Through that onslaught, Belle’s purpose became crystal clear. This is why she had come here. Lady Terrance needed her.

 

A BEASTLY SCANDAL is only $1.99 through the 15th! Grab it today!

Look Away, Away

Look Away, Away
Kimberly Brock 2016
The River Witch

Kimberly Brock 2016Look Away, Away

by Kimberly Brock

 

I think writers of any ilk can benefit from a healthy appreciation of setting, but regional – particularly southern writers – are haunted by our connection to, love of, loss of, and clawing crawling, desperate journey back to – the land. Oh, I wish I was in Dixie…away, away. Every song is a lullaby of going home. We close our eyes and dream of the old house in the valley. We contemplate a city skyline, thinking only of the ancient ridges that surrounded freshly turned lowlands where we walked a row as a child. That old scene where Scarlet O’Hara’s father warns her that land is the only thing that matters? We took that old man seriously and so, when we write our stories, do our characters. Their whole world, how our characters view their circumstances, why they struggle, why they rejoice – it’s all reflected in the setting. Pick up any piece of southern fiction and you will understand what Lee Smith meant when she said of regional literature, “There is an intimate identification with landscape. Setting is so important that it often defines the lives and possibilities of its characters…Place is the central defining factor of southern writing. There’s just simply more there, there.”

 

In writing THE RIVER WITCH, I knew Roslyn’s story would end upThe River Witch - 200x300x72 on the island – I knew she would go into a kind of exile. I imagined Roslyn’s need for isolation, and her need for great beauty, which led me to the Georgia Coast. I wanted it to be a place that would keep her off balance so she’d have to struggle to understand it and meet its demands. I needed a place that Roslyn believed was a complete departure. My character’s story is also the story of this environment and if you look at one, you will inevitably discover something about the other.

 

I’d written a good part of the first draft before Roslyn’s past and her childhood memories of Glenmary, Tennessee, began to surface. There, I found a people rooted for centuries in hard ground. Ancient mountains that would not be moved. Do you see these places? Then you see the people who inhabit them. I came to understand these were the characteristics at the core of Roslyn, this place defined all the ways she was at odds with herself, and as with everything else in the novel, these seemingly contradictory environments and cultures of Appalachia and Coastal Georgia would serve as mirrors for one another – just as the characters tend to hold up mirrors to one another. Some of this was written intentionally, but a great deal of it evolved with the story.

 

I’d always been fascinated by the idea that the Sea Islands shift and change, the idea of the alligators roaring season, the romance of the great live oaks, and then there was the element of superstition that lent itself to Roslyn’s haunting. The island was like going back to the mire from which we all emerge. I chose the island setting so she could fight her way back from her loss, physically and psychologically. That’s what Roslyn’s character ultimately faced – what each of us, ANY character ANY place, faces – a transformation that leads to resolution. She had to learn to shift and change to survive, just like the land beneath her feet. Her connection to place informs the reader of Roslyn’s internal journey through metaphor, but it also grounds the reader firmly in a compelling reality, one that every reader will envision for themselves. We are called to whatever away, away means home. To me, the true power of setting is that it gets to the heart of our human search for belonging.

 

Barbara Kingsolver said it best when she spoke of setting. “I have places from which I tell my stories. So do you, I expect. We sign the song of our home because we are animals…Among the greatest of all gifts is to know our place.”

MAKE SURE YOU GRAB THE RIVER WITCH TODAY FOR JUST $1.99! ONLY FOR A LIMITED TIME!

From a Teenage Girl to a Teenage Boy

From a Teenage Girl to a Teenage Boy
Marilee Brothers
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Baby Gone Bye 200x300x72

Marilee BrothersFrom a Teenage Girl to a Teenage Boy

by Marilee Brothers

I spent five years of my writing life inside the head of Allie Emerson, the teenage girl featured in the Unbidden Magic series. It was surprisingly easy for me to channel Allie, even though it’s been—well—let’s just say I haven’t been a teenager for a good long time. Apparently teenage angst lives on forever. After I finished Midnight Moon, the last book in the series, I decided to write a YA book with a male protagonist. Enter Gabriel Delgado, hunky eighteen-year-old senior at Maple Grove high school.

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The creative part of my brain got a major wake-up call. I was no longer a seventeen-year-old girl. I had to begin channeling a teenage boy. OMG, guess what boys think about? You know the answer, of course. Sex. One statistic says every fifteen seconds. Another says, they never stop thinking about it. From its title, Baby Gone Bye, you can probably figure out that Gabe acted on his thoughts. Therefore, he should not have been surprised when the doorbell rings and he finds a little “surprise” waiting for him on the front porch. So, what’s a household comprised of four males supposed to do with a little baby girl? Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out. Baby Gone Bye is now on sale for $.99 here: https://amzn.com/B00H4DZ844

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Excerpt from Chapter One  – it’s Friday night and Gabe has a date. He believes, incorrectly, that his evening will go on as planned. At this point, the family thinks the child is a boy.

 

The hall clock bonged seven times. Startled, Gabe leaped from the couch and placed the kid in his car seat. “Man, is it seven already? I’ve got a date. Can we put this on hold until tomorrow?” Without waiting for an answer, Gabe headed for the stairs.

     “Gabriel.” The steel in Papi’s voice stopped Gabe in his track. “Look at me.”

     Slowly, Gabe turned to face his father. He heard Simon whisper, “Dumb shit.” Henry giggled nervously.

     “Gabriel,” Papi repeated. “Do you remember when Rosie was a puppy?”

     Gabe shifted his weight from one foot to the other, wondering if he was about to step into something stinky. “Yeah,” he said carefully.

     Papi’s dark eyes snapped with intensity. “And how did you take care of her?”

     Gabe rolled his eyes heavenward, trying to remember Papi’s three cardinal rules for puppy care. “After she eats, put her outside to poop. Play with her. Put her back in her crate.”

     Papi clapped. “Excellent.”

     Gabe grinned. This was going well. He’d soon be on his way.

     “Now, Gabriel, tell me this, how do you take care of a baby?”

     Uh, oh. Gabe felt beads of perspiration pop out on his forehead. “Well, um, I guess you’re saying it’s the same concept. Right?”

     Papi strolled up nice and close and gave Gabe his shark’s grin. “So, after you feed him, you will take him outside to poop, play with him, and then put him back in his car seat?”

     Right then, Gabe knew he was screwed. He glanced at his brothers. No help there. He’d already stepped in it. Might as well go all the way. He looked his father square in the eyes. “Naturally, I won’t take him outside to poop, but I’ll feed him and play with him.”

    “And you will start this … when?”

     “First thing tomorrow morning.”

     Papi said, “And tonight?”

     Gabe squirmed. “Remember what you said earlier? We’re Delgados. We stick together when there’s a problem.”

     “Ah, now I understand.” Papi stroked his chin. “You assumed one of your brothers or your father would take care of your child while you went on a date. Is that correct?”

     Gabe flushed. “I would appreciate it.”

     “Gabriel,” Papi said again. He pointed at the baby. “That is not a puppy. It is a tiny human being who needs round the clock care. Care that will be given to him by you, his father. Do you understand?”

     Before Gabe could formulate an answer, he heard the amazingly loud rumble of baby flatulence. All eyes turned to the child, whose face was bright red as he clenched his fists and strained.

     Simon snickered. Looks like you forgot to take him outside to poop.”

     Papi handed Gabe a container of baby wipes and a diaper. “Better get used to it. He’ll be doing that a lot.”

     That’s when the Delgado family found out he was a she.

Everything Old is New Again!

Everything Old is New Again!
Midnight Kiss
Cover
Nancy photo

Nancy photoEverything Old is New Again!

by Nancy Gideon

I’m a big fan of Reuse/Recycle/Repurpose for saving time, money and resources. I was beyond thrilled when BelleBooks applied this principal to my “Touched by Midnight” vampire romance series.  The original three titles came out in the early ’90s. Fans convinced me to continue with six more installments when ImaJinn started up. When I got the rights back to the first three long out-of-print books, ImaJinn (now part of BelleBooks) bought them with the plan of repackaging all nine under a new header (“Touched by Midnight”) with gorgeous new covers,  the chance to sneak in and tweak, and to reach a whole new audience! R/R/R at its finest!

Book 6, MIDNIGHT SHADOWS (my favorite!) comes out this month with a dynamite cover (I’ve been sworn to secrecy!). To celebrate, the first two books of the series are on SALE.  MIDNIGHT KISS is $0.99 and MIDNIGHT TEMPTATION  $1.99 through May 15 – an awesome intro that begins in the Regency era and moves, with characters weaving throughout, into modern times (MIDNIGHT SHADOWS takes place in the modern day jungles of Peru).

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Here’s a teaser from MIDNIGHT SHADOWS to whet the need to sink your teeth in for more . . .

“If I’m going to go out there to put it on the line for, as you so succinctly put it, the paycheck, I need to know if you can keep it together. If you have any doubts, you stay behind.”

“I’ll be fine, Cobb.”

“Will you? Are you? Then tell me what you saw earlier tonight in your room. Can you do that?”

“A mask on the wall.”

“Bull.”

“I didn’t see anything.” His steady stare wouldn’t let her leave it at that. “I didn’t see anything real, okay. Is that what you wanted to hear? That I’m nuts, bonkers and all the rest? That I see things that aren’t there? That I have a hole in my memories large enough to drive a Mack truck through? That I can’t trust myself to know what’s real?”

“Trust me.”

His sudden intensity dragged her back from the edge of hysteria.

“Why, Cobb? Why should I trust you?”

“Because I can protect you if you let me. Because I know you’re not crazy.”

“How do you know?” she whispered, fearing to believe it because she didn’t believe it herself.

“Because I know what’s out there, and it’s real.”

Inspiration

Inspiration
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Raiders of the Lost Bark (1)
Bees Snakes and Mountain Lions!
Raiders of the Lost Bark
Raiders of the Lost Bark

SparkleAbbey-AuthorPhoto-2Inspiration

by Sparkle Abbey

Inspiration is everywhere. As writers, we are always looking for ways to be stirred to greatness. Inspiration drives action…or in some cases, words on the blank page.

When we’re on deadline, we don’t get to wait for inspiration to hit, Raiders of the Lost Bark - Inspire blogwe have to sit down and do the work. But that doesn’t mean we stop looking for ways to add joy or meaning to our lives and our stories.

We’re moved by great books and entertaining movies. An oceanside photo and a road trip with our closest girl friends. A great conversation and other people’s success stories. The way we live our lives often provides our greatest inspiration: a positive attitude and a large dose of laughter.

The setting for our latest release, Raiders of the Lost Bark, was inspired by an Orange County camping trip that Anita and her Bees Snakes and Mountain Lions!family took a number of years ago. For three hot summer days, at the beginning of what was to become a five year drought for California, Anita’s family pitched their well-used six-person tent at the desolate Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park campground. Bees, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions. What were they thinking? After two restless nights of sleeping on the hard, dusty ground, and watching over their shoulders for mountain lions, they broke camp and headed east—to the even hotter Las Vegas desert, a cold hotel room and running water.

Years later, we tossed around the idea of a story set outside of Raiders of the Lost Bark - glamping (2)Laguna Beach. What if our pampered characters were stuck between the sandstone canyons and parched wilderness campsites? How would they cope? What luxuries would they take with them? Would they still be able to catch a killer under the stars?

As you can see, sometimes inspiration is so close we just have to take a moment and stop; be mindful in that instant by listening to the silence, and taking a few deep cleansing breaths. We’re not all inspired by the same things or in the same ways. So what inspires you?

We hope ya’ll enjoy our latest Pampered Pets Mystery adventure, Raiders of the Lost Bark, out March 25th!Raiders of the Lost Bark (1)

Melinda Langston, amateur sleuth and Bow Wow Boutique owner, finds herself “Glamping Under the Stars” with a blackmailer, Orange County’s hottest new gourmet pet chef, Addison Rae. But before Mel can put an end to Addison’s strong-arming, the chef is found dead. Mel is just one of many suspects who had motive to snuff out the demanding chef.

Was it Redmond, the angry sous chef who detested working for Addison? What about rival chef, Pepper Maddox? The glamping chef gig was hers until Addison blackmailed her way into the job. And then there’s Asher, a charming fellow camper whose past relationship with Addison isn’t the only secret he’s guarding. Mel’s not one to tuck tail and run, even when it looks like she may be the next victim.

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets–Sparkle (Mary Lee’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). They reside in central Iowa, but if they could write anywhere, you would find them on the beach with their laptops and, depending on the time of day, with either an iced tea or a margarita. If you’re missing any of their  backlist this is a great time to grab them. Details here. And if you want to make sure you’re up on all the Sparkle Abbey news, stop by their website and sign up for updates at sparkleabbey.com.