Saturday, December 03, 2016

5 Books To Curl Up With This December

In my part of the world, it's cold outside. For me that means it's time for a hot cup of cocoa, tea, or coffee and a good book. I've got 5 suggestions for your reading list. Some old, some new, and all worth your time.

Let's start with one of my favorite books, Tea With The Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy. I first read this in college. I'd never read anything quite like it before, and I've never read anything quite like it since.

It's about Martha Macnamara, a 50ish musician in search of her missing daughter in 1980s San Francisco. She meets Mayland Long, a mysterious wealthy Chinese businessman and scholar who also claims he's actually a dragon. This is part fantasy, part mystery, part romance and completely marvelous. I definitely suggest reading this with a good cup of Oolong tea.

Up next on my list is The Thin Man. It's a slim volume, so an avid reader might be able to get through it in a day. But, wow! Even if you've see the movies, this 1934 classic will be a revelation. If you tend to think of the 1930s as a more innocent time, you might be a little bit shocked.

This dialogue in this book is some of the best ever written. The witty, liquor-fueled, non-sentimental romance is among my favorite love stories. Hard-boiled retired private dick Nick Charles and his young, socialite wife are a force to be reckoned with. And the mystery is a good one, too. You'll probably want to spike your hot drink with a stiff shot. That's what Nick and Nora would do.

A recent discovery is Marriage Can Be Murder, a sweet and cozy English countryside mystery set at the beginning of WWII.  The attention to historical detail makes this book not only interesting, but educational.   The budding relationship between a young doctor who has been severely injured both physically and emotionally and an awkward, eccentric noblewoman is funny and touching.

It's an easy, fun read that will make you feel as if you're watching one of those really great British series on Mystery. And there's a sequel!  This definitely calls for a hot cuppa.

And now for something completely different!  If Marriage Can Be Murder feels like an show from PBS, Midnight Riot feels like a show that might come on after Doctor Who on BBC America. It's like a cross between Luther and Harry Potter.  It feels like you're getting a real look at contemporary London and its police force... only there's magic... and ghosts...and scary stuff.

This book and its sequels create a compelling, yet believable world where the paranormal becomes a part of everyday police work.

You'll want a spot of tea with this one.

And now I'm going to toot my own horn and suggest that you check out American Goth, my first mystery novel. Why?  It's an easy, warmhearted read that introduces you to two of my favorite characters, Goth-chick artist Trinity Goode and straight-laced deputy sheriff Bobby Grace.

When Trinity's grandfather dies mysteriously, she heads back to her small hometown to save the family farm and figure out just at happened to the man who always accepted her just as she was.

Trinity’s ready to lace up her Doc Marten boots to be a church lady and bake pies for the county fair, but is her hometown ready to welcome her back?

With some help from her old friend Deputy Bobby Grace, she tries to solve the mystery of her Grandfather’s death and track down just who has been hell-bent on ruining her reputation. What she finds out could get her killed.

You'll want to have this one with a good hot cup of coffee, just like the coffee that keeps the main characters going in the book.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Killler Clowns From Out Of State: 5 Fun Facts

My latest mystery novel Killer Clowns From Out Of State is now available on It's the first book in my new Ballardville Mysteries series, and it introduces you to Police Chief Andrea Taylor.  She wasn't even supposed to be working the night she mows down handsome stranger Dash Fletcher during a police chase. Now she’s got an injured circus performer on her hands who might or might not be the guy she’s been waiting for all her life.

But since her last romance ended with her pumping a bullet into her boyfriend, she’s a little gun shy. Plus, she’s got a murder to solve, a murder that might be tied to the handsome stranger with the broken leg her aunt has moved into the family home.

With her career in jeopardy and her heart on the line, her whole life is turning into a three-ring circus.

But just how did this particular three-ring circus come to be? 

Here are 5 fun facts about this novel:

I got the idea while at the circus.

I was innocently enjoying a performance of the Cirque Du Soleil's Alegria at the Huntington Arena and an idea popped into my head. So you have all of these performers in makeup and costume, including the band and the singers. And it occurred to me that these people have to tell people things like, "I'm an accordion player in the circus." I had a great seat behind where the technical people had their boards and I became fascinated watching the director and other people work during the show. So this guy popped into my head. A guy who might be the accordion player's understudy and also a technical guy that works on the show. And then there's my main protagonist a small town police chief named Andrea Taylor who runs over him in the course of a high speed chase. Leaving him unemployed and stuck in the small town. And as these things often do, within fifteen minutes, my mind knew who he was, why he was in that small town, why he would stay in that small town and the crimes that would drive this particular story along. I also knew why the police chief had shot her last boyfriend. By the time I was headed home from work the next day, I knew about a stunning surprise that would change that former accordion playing clown's life in the second book. It involved a... Oh well, you'll see when the sequel comes out.

It's a love letter to theater geeks

I did plays in college. My husband was active in theater in high school. I know and love so many actors, writers, and others who have given their heart to community and professional theater.  I've had the privilege of seeing so many plays brought to life by the love and care of people who live and breathe theater. 

The Meet Me In St. Louis Connection

I watched one of my favorite movies, Meet Me In St. Louis,  while working on this story. And the character of Lucille Ballard, played by June Lockhart, inspired two things: The name of the town of Ballardville and the first name of the very important character of Lucille Gerber. That's June Lockhart as Lucille on the left. She later went on to be the mom on Lassie and Lost In Space. You will also notice that one of the characters in the story takes a trip to St. Louis. Sadly, no one sings "Clang, clang, clang went the trolley!"

I named my characters after their spirit animals

Andie is named after Sheriff Andy Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show. It's also meant to reference one my favorite TV couples. I explain why in the book.

Dash is named after the writer of The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett. 

FYI, the Thin Man is not Nick Charles, but the person he's looking for in the book.

Nick and Nora have my favorite romantic relationship in print or the movies. They are each other's wingman.

The title comes from a 1980s horror movie

The title comes from the 1980s horror movie Killer Clowns From Outer Space. The summer after I graduated college, I worked in a convenience store/ gas station. Back in those days everyone and his brother felt the need to add video rentals to their business. We had a video department in the back of the store. A TV continually ran trailers for the movies offered. One of those movies was Killer Clowns From Out Of State. I watched the trailer for that flick 50 times a day for months. It is burned into my brain. Now it finally gave a little something back to me.  It's really the least it could do.

You can check out a free preview of Killer Clowns From Out Of State below

Killer Clowns From Out Of State is available as a Kindle book for $2.99

The paperback is available for $19.97  and you can read it free on Kindle Unlimited.