Tag Archives: Midnight Ink

A day in the life of Ali McGovern by Catriona McPherson

I start the morning with lemon in hot water, a probiotic yoghurt and some almonds. There’s no use a beauty therapist having dog-rough skin from bacon butties and too much coffee. Then it used to be the gym, but gym membership was one of the first things to go. After my Vogue subscription but before the shift to supermarket own-brands.

Now I push the couch back, put the coffee table up on its end and do a twenty-minute work-out with Davina McCall. Or in theory, I do. But the couch is heavy and the coffee table’s always laden. It’s been a while, if I’m honest. And I’ve started having a Pop-tart for breakfast too.

But my beauty regime is unchanged: I wash my face with plain water and a rough flannel, I spritz it with rose-water and I dab on a bit of SPF 15. All before my shower. In the shower, I exfoliate, I pumice, I brush with a bristle brush, I work my loofah toward the heart. Sometimes I think I’m trying to wipe myself out, one dermal layer at a time.

My hair gets washed once a week. That’s plenty so long as you don’t fiddle with it. Or work in a coalmine, I suppose. It’s all the touch-touch-touching with dirty fingers that makes hair greasy – nothing to do with your scalp oils, And it’s the same thing with spots and bad skin. People are always touching their faces. No wonder winter colds do the rounds. As a beauty therapist, I’ve trained myself not to touch my mouth, eyes, nose or ears with my fingers. And I haven’t been ill in ten years.

Once I’m dressed for the day – in white tunic and trousers, comfy clogs and no jewellery – it’s a bit of a blur. I’m lucky if I can grab an apple and slice of cheese at lunchtime. A single appointment is half an hour – lashes, brows, half-leg waxes – and then the full-waxes, mani-pedis and facials are all double appointments. My book’s full and I don’t like to let people down.

Except, look what just happened. I slipped right back into the past, to when Face Value was my pride and joy, when I had a book of regular clients and no time for lunch. Truth is, my whites are put away in vacuum bags and my products are oiled to keep them fresh, clingfilmed and packed in the dark. I thought it would only be for a month or so. I keep meaning to open them up and check them. They’re probably drying out, oxidizing. They’re probably useless by now.

So let’s try that again. I do look for jobs. I look at Indeed.co.uk online, and I even go to the Job Centre sometimes, even though it is hands-down the most depressing place on earth. Worse than a hospital ward. Worse than the visiting room in an undertaker’s. I imagine. And it’s nice to be home when Angelo gets in from school. He’s too cool to talk to me, of course, but if there’s a sandwich made, he’ll eat it. And they do say it’s not quality time that matters, don’t they? It’s just time.


It heals. That’s another thing they say. And they’re wrong. They’re idiots. Time doesn’t heal anything. It just passes and – sometimes – it tells.

You can read more about Ali in House. Tree. Person., a novel of suspense.

The body found in a muddy grave across the street is just the latest horror threatening to tear Ali McGovern’s life apart seam by seam. She knows Angelo, her brooding teenage son, is keeping secrets. She fears he’s in danger, too. But her new job at the psychiatric hospital, the job her husband pushed her into, is using up everything she’s got every day. She can try to ignore the sounds that surely can’t really be there. And she can try to trust the doctors, who can’t be as dark as they seem. But can Ali hold herself, her life, and her family together without getting blood on her hands?

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About the author
Catriona McPherson is the multi-award-wining and best-selling author of the Dandy Gilver mysteries, set in Scotland in the 1930s, and six modern suspense thrillers, for which she has been Edgar and Mary Higgins Clark shortlisted. House. Tree. Person. (UK: The Weight Of Angels) is her twentieth novel. Catriona lives in northern California. Reach out to Catriona at catrionamcpherson.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Francine and Mary Ruth by Elizabeth Perona

the missing ingredient for a good first date

“Only you would schedule a blind first date at a cooking class,” Francine said, shaking her head as she and Mary Ruth navigated the narrow aisles of the local Sur La Table. They scouted the faces of the shoppers more than the kitchen items. “Do you even know what he looks like?”

Mary Ruth fluffed her auburn hair, which Francine knew had recently been highlighted. “Well, on the dating website Tyler is tall and thin, has chestnut eyes, a Tom Cruise smile, and a Clint Eastwood chin. Good ingredients, at least for a first date.”

“How can you be sure he didn’t fake the photo?”

“I can’t.” Her head swiveled as she passed a guy with a vague resemblance but was shorter and had a gap-toothed smile. More David Letterman than Tom Cruise. “I can’t even be sure his real name is Tyler.”

“Did you use your real name and photograph?” Francine pressed.

“Of course.” She ran her hands down the curves of her hips. “Did I mention I’m down to a size ten?” Francine admired her friend’s transformation. It had started a year and a half ago when their first Bucket List adventure gained national notoriety on a slow news day. Mary Ruth, a caterer in her seventies, had given up unhealthy habits, slimmed down, and now occasionally appeared on Food Network. “And it was his idea to meet here.”

“I wonder why he suggested it.”

She shrugged. “It’s neutral territory. Plus, we’re both foodies, divorced, and we love scones. Though I wouldn’t have chosen Garrett for a teacher.” Garrett Stone, a “Next Food Network Star” competitor, was known as the king of scones because of his award-winning flair with biscuits. He was now touring as an instructor. Mary Ruth had a not-so-happy history with him. “Your role is to be my way out of this date if I need one.”

Francine looked at her watch. “We should head to class. Maybe we’ll see him back there.”

They were the first ones in. Francine scouted the name tags on the table. “I don’t see anyone named Tyler,” she said sotto voce.

Mary Ruth slipped the white apron over her head with practiced ease and looped the strings around her waist. “You’re right. The only male name is Kenneth. Maybe I’ve been stood up.” She stuck her lip out.

More people scurried in behind them and snatched up aprons and name tags.

Garrett entered the room and everyone hushed. “Good evening, all!” he said with energy. “I’m Garrett Stone, the King of Scones, and today we’re going to learn how to make those British delights and more.” He passed by them and gave Mary Ruth a playful nudge.

“He’s cuter than on television.” Francine said.

“He’s full of himself.”

“Have you noticed he’s tall, has chestnut eyes, and a chin that could be described as Clint Eastwood-esque?”

Mary Ruth seemed stunned. “You’re right!” She fumbled with the measured-out ingredients. “He does kind of look like Tyler. You don’t suppose he lured me here for a date, do you? Well, if he did, he’s got another thing coming. All I want is revenge!”

Garrett winked in their direction. “I’m delighted to see that I’m joined today by Chef Mary Ruth Burrows. When I found out I was going to be teaching in Indianapolis, I was hoping we’d have a chance to meet again. Let’s hope today goes better than our first date did on “Cutthroat Kitchen.””

Francine remembered the episode on the cooking competition show that caused the dustup. Garrett stuck her with a sabotage causing her to be bombarded with cream pies. She was eliminated that round. Garrett’s losing the next was no consolation. Obviously, she was still angry.

“There won’t be a second date, that’s for sure,” she retorted, eliciting chuckles from the class.

He blanched and proceeded with class instructions.

“Do you believe that comment about a date?” Mary Ruth said to Francine. “Like we actually had one! I think he set this up. I think he’s Tyler.”

Garrett was rapidly dictating what to do. Mary Ruth dumped the flour and butter into a bowl. Francine was about to hand her the pastry blender when Mary Ruth began to rub the butter into the flour, creating a breadcrumb-like mixture.

“Class!” Garrett announced loudly, startling Mary Ruth. He had come up behind her while she was working. She spilled half the flour/butter mixture on the table. Francine used the scraper to get it back in the bowl.

“Instead of using the pastry blender as I demonstrated earlier,” Garrett continued, “the classic way to integrate the butter is with your fingers, as Chef Mary Ruth is doing here. Can you gather round?”

“I’ll kill him,” Mary Ruth muttered under her breath.

“Time to kick into ‘star’ mode,” Francine advised.

“I’ll kick him in his star mode.”

Mary Ruth beamed a high-wattage smile. She tilted the bowl toward her classmates with one hand and used the other to demonstrate.

“While we’re here,” Garrett asked, “would you please add the sugar, eggs, and baking powder?”

The class watched as Francine dutifully added them to the bowl and Mary Ruth stirred them with a wooden spoon.

“Now add about half the milk,” he said.

Mary Ruth complied and stirred.

“You want it to be a soft, wet dough. Add enough milk until it gets to that state.” He dumped the contents onto the work surface and bumped her out of the way. “Now I’ll demonstrate how to ‘chaff’ the dough.” He folded the dough in half, turned it ninety degrees, and folded it again.

“Garrett,” she said sweetly, “are you sure this has enough milk in it?”

“Quite sure. If anything, it looks a bit sticky.”

“Really? I think you should take a closer look.”

He bent over. Mary Ruth pushed the back of his head down, planting his face deep into the dough. “That’ll teach you to play me for a fool! And I will never date you, ‘Tyler.’”

“And you’re crazy if you think I would ever date a kitchen witch like you,” he said nasally, rushing from the room to clean his face.

A tall, thin man looking very much like the date Mary Ruth described earlier bumped into him on the way out. He grabbed his name tag as he hurried over. “I’m Kenneth. You know me as Tyler. Sorry I’m late. I ran into traffic.”

“Tyler?” she said, stunned.

“We can still have our date, can’t we?”

“Not here,” she said. “We need to leave, and quickly.”

“What about the scones? Should I grab the ingredients?”

“The only real ingredient we need for our first date is a getaway car. Let’s go.”

They fled, leaving Francine to finish the scones.

That night she had a successful evening on e-Bay. She sold a baked good bearing the facial features of the King of Scones for $100. Who’d have thought?

You can read more about Francine and Mary Ruth’s adventure in Murder at the Male Revue, the third book in the “Bucket List” mystery series.

The Skinny-Dipping Grandmas enjoy a male stripper show . . . until it gets too hot to handle and nearly goes up in flames.

When Mary Ruth’s company is hired to cater a fundraiser fea- turing the Royal Buckingham Male Dance Revue, the ladies see the chance to cross another item off their bucket list: helping divorcée Joy McQueen get over her decades-old fear of men in the buff. But when fundraiser sponsor Camille Ledfelter is stabbed to death, the women must uncover the naked truth about who wanted her dead.

Proving who did it, however, will require dodging a persistent stripper-for-hire, surviving the American Legion Bingo, drinking high-end cognac, searching for a certain 3-D printer, and laying bare the motives of a dangerous killer.

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About the author
Elizabeth Perona is the father/daughter writing team of Liz Dombrosky and Tony Perona. They write the “Bucket List” mystery series. The third in the series, Murder at the Male Revue, was published in July by Midnight Ink. This short-short story introduces two of their sleuths from the series.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson

House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson is a novel of suspense. Publisher: Midnight Ink, coming September 8, 2017

A year ago, she was happily married, running her beauty salon, raising her son, living in her dream house. Now Ali McGovern’s dreams are slipping away and all her old ghosts are rising.

A job at Howell Hall, the private psychiatric facility nearby, seems too good to be true. Why have they employed her? How can they afford her? And what are they hiding? When a body is discovered in a shallow grave on Ali’s first day at work, it feels like one last horror. But it’s just the beginning of her descent into a nightmare world she never imagined existed, far too close to home.

With a well-defined plot, this riveting drama had me engrossed in all the minute details in a book that I could not put down. The angst, the intrigue, and the suspense all came together in the visually descriptive narrative that placed me in the center of all the action. The tightly deep twists that you know is coming but don’t see until it hits you is what I liked about this story, where every factor, every character, every movement is pivotal in how well this tome was told. The palpitation of my heart couldn’t control the gripping desire I had to see how this would end and boy did it ever. The author has a way with bringing complex characters, engaging dialogue and trepidation in a psychological state of being where nothing is as it seems, but when it is all said and done, you have an intensifying thriller that leaves you wanting more. And the title of the book, well-played, well-played indeed.

Pre-Order Link

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

A day in the life of the Anonymous Journaler by Lisa Alber

You asked me to chronicle a typical day in my life, and as my therapist, you’re allowed. However, I don’t have a typical day anymore. All I have is what I can etch out of the long days, trying not to feel paranoid even though I am paranoid. He’s out there somewhere. We both know he is, and I suspect he’ll come for me at some point. I wonder if I’ll feel him in the vicinity before I see him . . .

So, how about I tell you about an atypical day? You’ve been urging me to meet new people. You’ll be happy to know I met the detective in charge of the murder investigation I told you about. People are saying the death was quite gruesome, poor man.

The detective’s name is Danny Ahern. I met him while I was visiting Liam Donnellan’s house—the local matchmaker, you remember. Nathan asked me to accompany him on the visit. As soon as I stepped into Liam’s house I sensed illness and tension swirling through the air.

The illness came from Liam, who has cancer, but the tension came from Danny. I’ve since learned that his wife is in a coma as a result of a previous investigation. Danny isn’t taking care of himself. He’s thin and his skin color was off. He looked tired, but even so, I could tell that Nathan interested him. Something dark swirls around Nathan, to be sure. I sensed it the first time I met him; it’s what drew me to him, in fact. No surprise since I have my own darkness swirling around me.

Watching Danny watch Nathan had me wondering whether Nathan is a suspect in the murder investigation. There was something going on in the room, but I couldn’t decipher it, except that it somehow also had to do with Nathan’s daughter. I’ve seen her from afar, and she’s bright as a spring lamb. Beautiful and bouncy and evidentally a devoted daughter even if Nathan doesn’t seem particularly thrilled that she recently moved in with him.

Liam’s daughter Merrit arrived not long afterwards. She couldn’t hide her surprise when she walked into the kitchen carrying several bags of groceries. She shot Liam a what-the-bloody-hell? look that made me smile into my tea cup. I read her easily enough. She suspected Liam was up to something. He probably was. Even I can tell that he’s a wily old devil inside that frail body.

As soon as Merrit arrived, Danny went on alert and called her outside with him for a chat. Through the window, I spied them walking in the rain, the intensity of their conversation evident in Danny’s tensed shoulders and Merrit’s hand gestures.

There’s plenty going on beneath the surface of quiet Lisfenora village. The good thing is that speculating about these people took my mind off my own problems for awhile. I’m a stranger to County Clare, a stranger to these people, yet I can’t help feeling I’m being dragged into some new darkness. This may be my paranoia talking again, but I keep picturing the new darkness overlapping with him, out there somewhere.

You can read more about Danny, Merrit, Nathan, and Liam (not to mention the anonymous journaler) in Path Into Darkness, the third book in the “County Clare” mystery series.

By the author of Whispers in the Mist, heralded by Library Journal as “a first-rate crime novel,” comes this haunting tale of family secrets, madness, and healing in small-town Ireland

Lisfenora is known across the British Isles for its yearly matchmaking festival. But a local man’s murder and the grim discovery in his home have cast a somber mood over the town. Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern tries to make sense of the chaotic scene while struggling to set aside moral conflicts and grief for his comatose wife. Within days, he’s plunged into even darker terrain when the investigation leads him on a collision course with the Tate family: troubled Nathan, who conceals secrets within ghastly secrets, and beautiful Zoe, the daughter Nathan abandoned years ago.

In this “dark, compelling mystery” (Booklist), one man is propelled toward a tragic downfall while the other struggles to walk the narrow path between life and death.

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Path Into Darkness. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 27, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Lisa Alber writes the County Clare mysteries. Her debut novel, Kilmoon, was nominated for the Rosebud Award of Best First Novel. Kirkus called her second novel, Whispers in the Mist, a “worthy successor to Kilmoon in tone, mood, complexity, and keen insight into human failures and triumphs.” She balances writing with gardening, dog-walking, and goofing off. She lives in Portland, OR.

You can find Lisa online at lisaalber.com, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Lisa’s newsletter HERE.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of astrologer Julia Bonatti by Connie di Marco

My profession isn’t an easy one. Oh, I know, people assume being an astrologer is a snap. They think I just flip on the computer, open my astro program and pull amazing predictions out of the air. Uh uh. Doesn’t work like that.

I have to spend time, sometimes hours, with a natal chart. I have to figure out where a new client is at in their lives, what planetary cycles have occurred, which transits are coming up, and most importantly why they’re coming to see me at this particular time. I can usually figure it out, that’s why I prefer they not tell me why they want an appointment. I’d rather approach the chart without any preconceived notions, look at it with a clear mind.

It’s not psychic power. If they want a psychic, I’d send them to The Mystic Eye to see my colleague Zora. She’s actually a very good psychic, but trust me, I can deal in more detail and not to sound egotistical, but I can also give my clients a plan for the future.

I have some terrific clients. I really do. And most of them are lovely people that I like very much. But then there are the others . . .

The Stone Face Client – this guy won’t move a facial muscle or respond at all. He’ll sit like a statute and not even give a nod of acknowledgement, as if he expects a performance. No no no . . . doesn’t work like that. This is a give and take situation. Even when you say, “Let’s talk about what happened when you were ten.” Still no response. Because I can see it in their chart that something traumatic happened at that point in their life. So then of course, I pretty much have to tell them what happened when they were ten. It’s like chipping away at a mountain of rock. Exhausting!

The Redundant Client – she’ll come back in six months or a year with the very same problem, as if it’s just happened and I know then she didn’t listen to a thing I said at our last appointment. She has not moved on and has not taken my advice, even when I try to change her perspective and point the same thing out in a different way.

The Freebie Client – these are the ones who call on the phone and launch into their latest drama. Because they showed up once for an appointment, they expect free advice for the next ten years.

Now, I’m perfectly happy to repeat what I’ve told them at their last session, but I’m not about to get into anything else unless they want to make an appointment. I mean I’m kind and understanding, but I’m not running a charity.

The Misdirection Client – they arrive with loads of business and career questions, but I know they’re really struggling with a romantic dilemma. When I introduce that subject they bounce back to chatting about their careers, and continue talking as if I hadn’t asked a question. It’s like pulling hen’s teeth.

The No-Show Client – they’ve made an appointment but they’re terrified. They’ll call half an hour before they’re due to arrive (after I’ve done all the work I might add) and cancel with some excuse. What I really love is when they call again, make an appointment and still get cold feet and cancel. I mean, why? I’m not going to bite. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

And that doesn’t take into account my clients who inveigle me into investigations and crime solving. Believe me, I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble trying to help people.

I don’t mean to complain. I really don’t. I love what I do and my clients are, for the most part, terrific people. But you’ll get a taste of some of the things I have to deal with in the Zodiac Mysteries. And just wait till you find out what happens in my next adventure ~ All Signs Point to Murder. I hope I make it through alive. If I do, I’ll never complain about a client again. I swear!

Still, I wouldn’t change my profession for the world!

You can read more about Julia in All Signs Point to Murder, the second book in the “Zodiac” mystery series.

The stars predict a wedding-day disaster, but San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never expected murder.

Julia Bonatti is alarmed by the astrological signs looming over Geneva Leary’s wedding day, but nobody asked Julia’s opinion and being a bridesmaid means supporting the bride no matter what. Even with the foreboding Moon-Mars-Pluto lineup in the heavens, no one’s prepared for the catastrophes that strike: a no-show sister, a passed-out wedding planner, and a lethal shooting in the dead of night.

With anger and grief threatening to tear the Leary family apart, Julia is determined to understand how such a terrible tragedy could have occurred. As she digs deeper into the family’s secrets, her astrological insights lead her to some rather unexpected conclusions.

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About the author
Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, who never thought murder would be part of her practice. All Signs Point to Murder is the second in the series, released August 8, 2017.

Writing as Connie Archer, she’s the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in both The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Connect with Connie at conniedimarco.com, or on Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Dayna Anderson by Kellye Garrett

My name is Dayna Anderson and I used to be famous. But unlike Cinderella and Snow White, my fairy tale didn’t end with happily ever after. Instead, it came crashing down a year and a half ago, and I joined the rest of the mere mortals.

Having had fleeting fame, I’m not recognizable as much as familiar. They just can’t figure out how they know me, so they assume it’s from home. I’ve been from places like Seattle, Omaha, and in one case Wasilla, Alaska. I’ve always said there is at least one black person everywhere. Folks all seem to think that lone integrationist is me.

The familiarity is courtesy of the Chubby’s Chicken chain. For almost two years, I somehow ended every situation—and commercial—with the catch phrase “Don’t think so, boo.” Eighteen months ago, Chubby’s abruptly ended my contract with the all-too-standard “we’re going in a new direction” spiel to my now-former agent. I was fine with it—at first. I just knew there was more in my future than just chicken wings.

I was wrong. Dead wrong. So wrong that I am officially unofficially retired from acting. I’m also officially broke, which especially sucks because my parents’ house is going into foreclosure. It’s not like I’m not looking for a job. I am. I just can’t get hired—not even as a bikini barista.

That’s the only reason I got involved in all of this, I swear. To help Mama and Daddy. I was running out of options. There aren’t too many job opportunities for someone whose only skill is the ability to juggle while speaking in a German accent.

So when I drove past that hit-and-run and saw that LAPD billboard offering a $15,000 for information on the accident, I figured I had two choices: get the reward or become a stripper. And I don’t possess nearly enough inner thigh strength needed to properly work a pole.

Plus, it’s not like I’m trying to solve murder. I’m just trying to remember the car so I can give a description to the police and help them solve it. I’m pretty sure I saw the car that hit Haley Joseph. Problem is I can’t remember what the dang thing looks like. Not that I’m willing to let that stop me from getting that reward money for my parents. I’ve even recruited my best friends Sienna and Emme to help but so far we aren’t having much luck.

Of course, this all would be easier if I wasn’t avoiding him—not so easy when your longtime crush is now Hollywood’s current It Boy and star of the new CBS hit LAPD 90036. I can’t look up without seeing him on a billboard or on my TV. He was there when we drove past the accident. But we haven’t spoken since that night Haley died and it’s all because of a slight misunderstanding involving his hand and my non-stripper-worthy thigh. My friends aren’t even allowed to mutter his name. He’s like Voldemort, except with a nose.

So now I’m doing everything I can to remember the car. Heading back to the crime scene. Talking to witnesses. I even tried hypnosis. I’m determined to get this reward.

I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? Right?

But just as a safety net, maybe I should sign up for the clinical trial that hangs you upside down for two straight hours.

You can read more about Dayna in Hollywood Homicide, the first book in the NEW “Detective by Day” mystery series.

Library Journal’s August Debut of the Month!

Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash.

But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second—until someone tries to kill her.

And there are no second takes in real life.

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Hollywood Homicide. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends August 10, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
Kellye Garrett spent 8 years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama Cold Case. People were always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people. A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company—while still happily brainstorming ways to commit murder. Her first novel, Hollywood Homicide, is released by Midnight Ink on August 8, 2017.

Connect with Kellye at kellyegarrett.com.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett is the first book in the NEW “Detective by Day” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, coming August 8, 2017

hollywood-homicideDayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash.

But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second―until someone tries to kill her.

And there are no second takes in real life.

From the first page to the exhilarating escapades to that last line, this book took me on a fun ride where a simple desire turns into more than just that and took our heroine and friends on an adventure that kept me entertained and engaged in all aspects of this well-executed drama.

The author took great care in telling this story with a nice tempo that set the stage as the visually appealing narrative kept me glued to the pages as Dayna’s search for a killer took me through the hills of Hollywood with Sienna, Emme and Aubrey bringing up the rear. From a hit and run, to murder, to consignment shopping, to finding clues to calling tip lines to car chases to role-playing to solving a murder to all that Hollywood has to offer is what you’ll find in this enticingly frolicking mystery. A kaleidoscope of amusingly energetic antics provided merriment that enhanced the telling of this tale. Boasting a likable cast of characters, friendly banter and Hollywood as the backdrop, this was very enjoyable and I look forward to more exciting adventures with Dayna and her friends.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.

Cover Reveal ~ 19 Souls by J.D. Allen

I am excited to reveal the cover for the first book in the NEW “Sin City” mystery series from Midnight Ink, coming February 8, 2018.

Title: 19 Souls
Series: Sin City Investigation #1
Genre: Hard-Boiled
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Website: J.D. Allen

Private Investigator Jim Bean is a straightforward, to-the-point man. When his latest client, Sophie Evers, asks him to find her brother Daniel, Jim has no idea how complicated his life is about to become.

Daniel is not Sophie’s brother. He is her most coveted prey. Clinging to the belief that they belong together, Sophie kills Daniel’s real sister to manipulate Jim into flushing Daniel out of hiding. She will create the “perfect life” for the only man she’s ever loved, no matter how many people she must kill along the way.

When Jim discovers the truth about Sophie, he’s driven to set things right before her delusional plan claims even more souls.

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About the author
J.D. Allen (Raleigh, NC) earned a degree in forensic anthropology and creative writing from Ohio State University. She’s also taught other writers on a variety of topics, including the basics of crime scene investigation and the art of public speaking.

A day in the life of Gabby Drake by Leslie Budewitz

My mother likes to say she was born singing.

But me? Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. The only people who know haven’t seen me since I was born, in China, twenty-two years ago. By the time my parents got me and brought me to this country, I hadn’t spoken a word in months.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t not talk on purpose. I was just listening. I like listening.

And somewhere along the way, maybe while my mother was reliving her days in the opera, belting out arias while she cooked, I decided to start singing, too.

So in this life, I sang before I talked. Music unlocked something inside of me. It still does.

When I hold my guitar—a Gibson L-200 like Emmylou Harris plays—when I hold it, my heartbeat slows and matches the vibration of the strings. It’s got a rosewood fingerboard that feels like it was made for my hands. The mother-of-pearl inlay on the floral vine design on the pickguard is so beautiful, it almost makes me cry.

People say the guitar is as big as me, but it just sounds that way. That’s the sound of maple, and good craftsmanship. We toured the factory in Memphis once, and when we came out to Montana the first time for the Jewel Bay Jazz Festival, my dad wrangled us a tour of the Bozeman factory, too. They don’t usually do that, but my dad is pretty good at getting people to do things they don’t usually do.

I’ve been to a lot of festivals the last few years. Some, like this one, include workshops, and I’ve gotten to learn from some of the finest guitarists and singers in the country. Most of the people who come to study or teach or play at the Jewel Bay Festival are really nice. If they’re not, they don’t get invited back.

In Jewel Bay, it seems like the whole town turns out to hear us play. When we walk down the streets—or street, because there’s only one street downtown, what they call the Village—people call out to us and thank us for the music. Even the really famous musicians have fun here, because they get treated like ordinary people. Once in New York, I saw Bette Midler buying Easter candy for her kids, and the clerks and other shoppers were like “Oh, hi, it’s you. Dark chocolate or milk?” And that’s how it is here, too. A nod of the head, a flick of the brows as if to say “I know who you are and thanks for being here—now, what kind of toast would you like with those eggs?”

But I will admit, sometimes my parents bug me. I know they only want the best for me. The best schools and teachers, the best stages, the best managers and promoters. But after playing here, I’m not sure that their idea of best and mine are the same. My parents may not think much of Jackson Mississippi Boyd and his blues guitar, but his songs make me dance inside. I’ve gotten to hear country artists, and take a master class from the guys who started the LA Guitar Quartet. A flamenco guitarist and his painter wife invited me over for dinner, and I learned more about music and life from them than in an entire semester at the conservatory.

It’s hard to figure out what’s best, you know? When somebody else has always had an idea what you ought to do next, laying it out—and paying for it.

But after what happened this summer, well, I know you’ve got to play your own songs. You’ve got to listen, and learn, and speak when you have something to say. No backing down, no biting your tongue.

So me and my guitar, we’re going to hit the road.

But I’ll always come back to Jewel Bay.

You can read more about Gabby in Tremble At The Jam Fest, the fourth book in the “Food Lovers’ Village” mystery series.

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident? or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

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About the author
Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two national best-selling series, the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana, and the Spice Shop Mystery, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Death Al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The immediate past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives and cooks in NW Montana.

Find her online at www.LeslieBudewitz.com and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

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