A big shout out of thanks to Delilah for having me on her blog. This time of year, I’m all about Halloween… and of course murder…and well doughnuts…and vodka. My newest book is a novella about all those things!
Murder and Treats
Lila Maxwell is coaxed into attending All Treats, a Halloween speed dating event by her best friend. Instead of the soul mate promised one Halloween ghoul after another appears at her door until Cowboy Bill.
Jax Carlson has spent the last year focusing all of his attention on starting his own business. Hiring Lila Maxell over the Internet as his project manager was the final piece to his prefect plan. Set to open for business in three days, Jax plans on spending a couple of days on his boat relaxing. However, his friend Erik has a different idea – a speed dating Halloween party.
Jax has spent the night plotting the best revenge possible for Erik until Sally opens the door. The woman dressed in the pale lavender Harem costume ignites a fire that Jax thought was impossible without the aid of his formulated dating list.
After a night of mind-blowing sex, Lila sneaks out before they exchange real names believing it was no more than a one-night stand.
Lila’s first day is full of surprises, the biggest being Cowboy Bill is actually her new boss, Jax Carlson. She thinks keeping her hormones in check while convincing Jax that love doesn’t follow a formula is complication enough until she learns the participants of the All Treats speed dating event are being killed.
My favorite Halloween doughnut trick is…insert vamp teeth into a sugar doughnut. Drizzle red frosting for blood, or have gummy worms crawling out of the mouth, or decorate with gummy boogers.
My favorite Halloween drink is the wicked witch… it’s caramel vodka, apple vodka, and whip cream vodka all equal parts mixed with apple cider. Sooo good and so wicked.
And just a peek…
Walking into her bedroom, Lila froze mid-stride. On her bed was a knife coated with blood and small plastic number five. The glass slipped from her hand and fell to the floor, spraying her foot and leg with red wine.
Good morning, Delilah, and thanks for having me over on this hot August day. It’s really cool and lovely to spend some time with you and your readers. When I was growing up, I didn’t like August very much. Hot and sultry as it always is here in New York, it meant that summer was winding down and it would soon be time to pack away the swimsuit, shelve those books I loved reading beneath a tree, and get back to the business of school and homework. Even when school was long behind me, the August gloomies lingered.
Then I decided it was time to grow up and shed those gloomies for good. My mother had always said that there was no such thing as a bad day, week, or month. All of them were presents, and it was up to us to make something good of them. So I decided to find out something good about August. How does an author do that? Research, of course!
So, welcome to Admit You’re Happy Month! Isn’t it great to have a month that urges us to sit back, take stock, and think about all the things we have in our lives to make us happy? August is also Family Fun Month, and, certainly, my family is highest on the list of blessings that brighten my days. Thank you, August, for reminding me of that.
August also won’t let us forget to keep admitting we’re happy. Every week is upbeat. Last week was National Simplify Your Life Week. That’s pretty difficult for me to do, with a family to take care of and a new book just out. I may have to save it for next year. This week, though, is National Smile Week. It’s good to remember when life gets a little overwhelming that we still have much to smile about, and so many people in our lives, and even strangers, who deserve our smiles. Next week is Friendship Week—a good time to remember how much our friends mean to us and how they have always been at our side through both good and difficult times. The last week of the month is Be Kind to Humankind Week. If we all celebrated that one, our world would certainly be a better, more peaceful place.
August is packed with important days in history. Some of them sad, but others are events that made our world a better place: On August 1, 1774, Joseph Priestly discovered oxygen. On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Spain. The sixth of August marks the birth of Alexander Flemming, who discovered penicillin. August 14, 1945, is the day World War II ended. On August 22 in 565, the Loch Ness monster was spotted for the first time. Old Nessy is said to still keep making appearances, though not only in August.
One of my favorite dates is August 18, 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment of our Constitution, giving women the right to vote, was ratified. Lucy Stone, who fought so hard to win that right for us was born on August 13, 1818.
August also saw the birth of many famous people. Here are just a few: Herman Melville, P.D. James, Louis Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Neil Armstrong, John Dryden, Cecil B. DeMille, Davy Crockett, Mae West, Alfred Hitchcock, Coco Chanel, Orville Wright, Mother Teresa, Claude Debussy, Dorothy Parker, Michael Jackson, Charlie Parker, and Mary Shelley.
So, happy August, everyone—and happy August 8, which is International Cat Day, as well as Happiness Happens Day. I’m now such an admirer of the month that it opens my new mystery,SECRET AGENDA: Who’s Castrating the Wolves of Wall Street? The villain’s first strike is on a moonless night in August….
Secret Agenda: Who’s Castrating
the Wolves of Wall Street?
They are the most powerful men in America: billionaires born to privilege and linked by their membership in the nation’s most elite fraternity. They have always snatched what they want. From the halls of their ivy-league college to the counting houses of Wall Street, nothing has ever stopped them from reaching their nefarious goals. But as they gear up for their biggest takeover of all—the presidency of the United States—they discover to their horror that someone else has a secret agenda too. One by one, they are being castrated by an unknown attacker….
SECRET AGENDA—a riveting mystery of political ambition set in the glittering heights of New York society and darkest depths of Wall Street depravity!
Until she left to pursue her own writing, Barbara Brett was both a magazine editor and book editor and publisher. Besides Secret Agenda, she is the author of Sizzle, Between Two Eternities, Love After Hours, and, with her husband, Hy Brett, the critically acclaimed mystery, Promises to Keep. You can find out more about Barbara and her books on her website: www.brettbooks.com. And you can keep up with her news and her views on writing, reading, and life by following her on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraBrettAuthor.
Like a lot of us, I find I have more leisure time in the summer. Work slows down, days get longer and energy goes up. Maybe it’s all a mirage, but suddenly there’s more time for the fun stuff in life.
Here are my top 5 fun summer leisure loves:
The Beach. Breathing the salt air. Splashing in the ocean waves. Walking I the warm sand. Any of it. All of it! One of my favorite all time beaches is Gay Head Beach on Martha’s Vineyard, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts and top summer vacation mecca. When POTUS vacations there, you know it has to be hot! Speaking of which, POTUS plans a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard in my latest Beachcomber Investigations novel, Beachcomber Danger. The problem is there’s a credible threat to his life. But my hero and heroine, Dane & Shana will do their part to foil the threat. Of course, nothing is that easy and nothing good happens without a cost. Find out the price Dane has to pay when you read the book…
Summer Theater. Maybe I’m a geek, but I love seeing those small productions done in all the vacation spots well off Broadway—mostly in the mountains. Revivals of long ago favorites like South Pacific or My Fair Lady, or my very favorite The Pajama Game. I’m heading up to the mountains in New Hampshire to see whatever they’re showing!
Shopping. I know, I know. This is a great leisure activity any time of year (think Christmas) but it’s extra special when you can cruise the boutiques and shops in a vacation town, especially one that’s on the water, and duck in for specials and AC when the sun gets too hot. My favorite spot is in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, closely followed by Wolfeboro, NH on the shores of Lake Winnepesauki. Or any water front harbor town along the coast of Maine, like York or Kennebunkport.
Ice Cream. I know it’s not an activity. Not strictly speaking, but eating ice cream cones, visiting shops or outdoor stands, especially if they’re along a beach or at a carnival, is classifiably a FUN activity! I enjoy the beach side stands at places like Old Orchard Beach in Maine or Salisbury Beach in Massachusetts among many, many others (closely followed by the stands that sell ‘Beach Pizza’!)
Reading a Beach Book. This is the ultimate leisurely activity in the summer. Laying around with nothing to do but read for hours on end. On the beach or in a hammock or poolside. Or maybe in bed late at night or before you get up in the morning because you have nowhere else to be. The definition of leisure activity.
If you’re looking for a great Beach Read, check out my romantic detective series, Beachcomber Investigations.
About the Author
USA TodayBestselling Author Stephanie Queen is a romantic at heart and a writer by nature. So of course, she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. She writes the romantic detective series, Beachcomber Investigationsset on Martha’s Vineyard and the Small Towncontemporary romance series as well as other series and stand-alone novels. So far she’s published more than 25 novels and novellas and has no plans to stop.
Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U. She lives in New Hampshire with her family and her cat, Kitty.
I have written a most unusual series, The Heiress Games. 3 books that all follow the same events, but each one tells the story from the point of view of different characters. Three women who are all competing for the family fortune. Each book in the series follows one of the couples. The third and final book in the series is out this month. THE FORGOTTEN HEIRESS. Here’s the 411.
About the series…
Eccentric heiress, Victoria Armington, has died and left her vast fortune to her pet pig, Matilda. Now three Armington descendants have been chosen to compete for custody of the pig…and control of the money. Then there’s the lawyer in charge of overseeing the competition, and his two best friends, who arrive to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Heiress #3: Bailey Tenant – The Forgotten Heiress
Once upon a time, songwriter Bailey Tenant’s mother was cut off from the Armington family for daring to love the wrong person. Bailey doesn’t want anything to do with them now, but she has a mountain of medical debt, and without that fortune her grandchildren could still be paying it off. When Grammy-winning singer Jackson Stone shows up to escort her to Palm Cove, she agrees to compete. She just never expected the most dangerous aspect of the competition would be losing her heart to Jackson.
Jackson Stone lost the love of his life in a fiery plane crash and then he lost the music. He has to find a way to reawaken the muse, and helping his friend oversee The Heiress Games might work. Soon, Bailey Tenant is reviving his buried heart and tempting him to see forever again. Bailey and Jackson have both vowed to avoid love, but sometimes there’s no choice but to surrender to the promise of a fortune in love.
In the midst of it all, there’s a saboteur at work. Someone who might stop at nothing to make sure no one wins.
NOTE: Unlike the previous 2 books in the series, THE FORGOTTEN HEIRESS finally reveals the winner of Armington fortune (and custody of Matilda the pig) and the identity of the saboteur.
Here’s an excerpt showing how Bailey & Jackson meet…it’s pretty great.
Jackson Stone watched in reluctant fascination as Marilyn Monroe slowly stripped right in front of him. The screen goddess reached up and removed her platinum-blonde wig, revealing a skullcap underneath. He found himself holding his breath as her arm rose again, this time to pluck the cap off her head. A few strategic bobby pins later and a mass of ginger-colored curls spilled across her creamy-white shoulders. It was like watching a curtain of cinnamon rain down on a frothy cappuccino.
Where had that come from? He must be out of his mind.
The striptease continued as Marilyn reached under the hem of her iconic white dress. Jackson caught a glimpse of a shapely thigh as she flicked a fastener and began rolling a silk stocking down her leg.
He shifted on the couch as a part of him that had mostly been dead for the last year stirred to life. Heat washed over him as a savage want surged through his veins.
Two days ago Jackson’s best friend, Cameron Reed, had asked for a favor. A high-priced lawyer with a large estate to probate, Cam needed help looking after three women who were possible heiresses to an immense fortune. Jackson didn’t know the whole story about the will. He did know there was some kind of competition…and a pig was involved…somehow.
Jackson had been cursing his friend for sending him on this fool’s mission ever since he left Miami, but now he didn’t know whether to be grateful…or run like hell. He hadn’t traveled to the outskirts of New Orleans expecting to take part in a peep show. Then again, he hadn’t expected to find a fake, long-dead actress taking off her clothes, either.
He should alert her to his presence.
Yeah…absolutely, positively should do that.
Then she raised both arms to her chest and Jackson forgot all about being a gentleman. Except, instead of untying the top, she reached inside and removed what looked like two huge, raw chicken breasts.
Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of two other best-selling series, Shellwater Key Tales (sweet contemporary romance) and Covington Falls Chronicles (inspirational romance).
Cinqo de Mayo has always sounded like such a fun holiday, a celebration of spring and flowers and margaritas. (I especially love margaritas, yes more than I love flowers and spring weather.) (Myren, my chauffeur is tsk-tsking me right now as if I’m a teenager expressing forbidden desires. I wish.)
Anyway, this year the celebration was extra special because May 5thhappened to also be the same day as the running of the Kentucky Derby. (Forget the mint juleps. Picture ladies in big hats—maybe a few sombreros—sipping big fat icy margaritas with salted rims.) I digress.
It’s not that I go wild every year on May 5th. It isn’t always on a Saturday and sometimes I don’t look up from my computer long enough between May 4thand 6thto notice that Cinqo de Mayo just happened. (Myren, my chauffeur is laughing at me now and I’m not really sure why… so I slap his arm and stare him down until he stops. Politely.)
But this year, this was the year the Derby ran away with the Cinqo and I went to a Derby de Mayo party thrown by an old college friend and had a ball with a dozen or so ex-UConn huskies. I’ve included pictures as proof. We wore hats and bet on the race and there was a prize for the best hat—pictured here. Not a UConn alum, but I feel obliged to illustrate how far some people will go to win a prize. She deserve it.
For me and my friends, the fun had little to do with the derby or the cinqo and everything to do with old friendships still alive and well (Myren pointed out that we ought to be happy that us old people were alive and well never mind the friendships. I slapped his arm again and threatened a punch in the nose. Politely. He offered a smug look in return. Darn chauffeur.)
We became friends forty years ago and have managed to get through the grind of life in the intervening years without losing our zest, or sense of humor and fun and sense of what’s most important. Our people.
Also, we drank lots of beer and sangria and margaritas, not unlike we did forty years ago, and celebrated our friendship and raised a glass to Derby de Mayo for giving us the perfect excuse.
As an author, no celebration would be complete without a new release. Beachcomber Danger is just out and the 8thinstallment in the Beachcomber Investigations romantic detective series is the best yet. (Myren finally shakes his head in agreement, but not because he’s taking my word for it, only because he read it in a review.)
I just got back from Hawaii and a wonderful writer’s retreat! I spent time with my sister Delilah Devlin, J.M Madden, Susan Stoker and my daughter Megan. We swam, snorkeled, saw a turtle and lot of fish, rode ATVs through Kualoa Ranch where they filmed Jurassic Park, Jumanji, Skull Island and 50 First Dates. We visited the Polynesian Cultural center where many of the Pacific island cultures were represented like Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii and New Zealand. I wrote 24000 words on my 6th book in the Mission Six Series while there. The first one is live today! All in all, I refilled my creative well with ideas. Now to get back to work! Get a copy of ONE INTREPID SEAL and start reading the series!
“A beam of red light shot through her window. Sunset already? She got up, fixed herself a drink, and took it to the balcony. She watched as the sun sank into the gulf, long, needle-like pincers of light stretching out as though it wanted to hook the horizon and hang on for dear life. Like Kilroy, whatever was pulling it from below won the battle and the sun dipped, leaving its signature green spot as a token of affection for the world.”
This is what it’s like to live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. By day the sky is the deep blue of Paul Newman’s eyes; at close of day it’s flooded with a full palette of reds, oranges, pinks and purples. I have a lot of pictures of my granddaughter—I have even more pictures of sunsets in Sarasota!
Here’s the story of The Pit & the Passion:
At midnight, in the darkness of a deserted hotel, comes a scream and a splash. Eighty-five years later, workmen uncover a skeleton in an old elevator shaft. Who is it, and how did it get there? To find out, Charity Snow, ace reporter for the Longboat Key Planet, teams up with Rancor Bass, best-selling author. A college ring they find at the dig site may prove to be their best clue.
Although his arrogance nearly exceeds his talent, Charity soon discovers a warm heart beating under Rancor’s handsome exterior. While dealing with a drop-dead gorgeous editor who may or may not be a villain, a publisher with a dark secret, and an irascible forensic specialist, Charity and Rancor unearth an unexpected link to the most famous circus family in the world.
The Milky Way spread a swath of cream overhead. One small cloud trundled across the sky. Behind it peeped a gibbous moon. The beach was wide here, sweeping south in a twelve-mile-long arc but ending only a few yards north of her at a severely eroded cliff.
Not a soul stirred on the sand, except for a couple of willets picking their way along the edge of the water. She turned and headed toward the cliff.
Someone had left a beach chair out. She sat and watched the waves, listening to the chittering of the sandpipers and the putt-putt of a trawler far out. She assumed the rustle behind her was a ghost crab and kept quiet, hoping to catch a glimpse of it. She loved the way they would stop, half in and half out of their holes, their eyestalks waving. They’re so sure they’re invisible.
She jumped straight up, knocking the chair backward.
“What th—?” Her heart pounding, she turned. At that moment, the cloud shrouded the moon, and in the sudden darkness she could only make out a form.
“It’s me. Rancor. Rancor Bass.”
She held out a hand and encountered a broad chest, lightly furred. She pulled it back quickly. “Are you…are you…”
He snickered. “Naked? As a matter of fact, yes.”
She backed up. A splash told her that her brand-new sandals were likely ruined. She vaulted out of the water and landed between two bare arms.
“Easy there, Charity. I hardly know you.”
“Stop it, Mr. Bass. And let me go. If I were you I’d drop that conceited tone. I wouldn’t be caught dead in your arms.”
His voice came low, laughter licking at its edges. “You don’t feel dead to me. In fact”—she tensed at the touch of a finger on the inside of her elbow—“you feel very much alive. And quite…fresh. Call me Rancor.”
“Rancor Bass, you leave me alone.” She tried to walk around the shadow, but an arm snaked out and caught her. She opened her mouth to scream and found two lips smothering hers. She stood quite still, fear and…something else…oh my God, desire?…taking over her senses.
He let her go. “Couldn’t resist. Wanted to see if those defensive walls could be breached.” He sat down in the chair. The moon came out from behind the cloud and cast a pale glow on his hair. “You’re a tough cookie, Charity.”
She wanted to deny it, to tell him how vulnerable she could be, but knew that would be very stupid. She wanted to kiss him again but knew that would be even more stupid. So she settled for a grunt and walked away.
He didn’t follow, and as she reached the dunes, she felt an unexpected twinge of disappointment. Could this man be the one? Nah. Still, preoccupied by this novel notion, she decided to skip the police station and go straight home. As she turned into her condominium parking lot, the obvious question finally occurred to her. What the hell is Rancor Bass doing naked on the beach in the middle of the night?
Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After many years in academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Ms. Spencer has published eleven romantic suspense novels, and has two more in utero. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.