Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Death By Association tour

                                      Death by Association:

A DIY Diva Mystery

by Paula Darnell

Death by Association: A DIY Diva Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Cozy Cat Press (January 1, 2019)
Paperback: 271 pages
ISBN-10: 1946063681
ISBN-13: 978-1946063687
Digital ASIN: B07MQ73LJQ (215 Pages

DIY Diva Laurel McMillan learns that the high walls and guarded gates of Hawkeye Haven can’t protect her community. When Laurel takes her pampered, chocolate Labrador retriever, Bear, for an early morning walk, she finds her friend, security guard Bessie, bleeding and unconscious at her guardhouse post. If the attack on Bessie isn’t enough to set the residents’ nerves on edge, the murder of Victor Eberhart, the unpopular president of the powerful homeowners’ association, certainly does the trick. Despite teaching DIY classes and writing project instructions for her latest book, DIY for Dog Lovers, Laurel manages to squeeze in time for some DIY detective work. But as she gets closer to the truth, Victor’s killer would like nothing better than for the DIY Diva to take a dive.

Inspiration for the Lovable Lab in Death by Association

by Paula Darnell

            When it comes to a cozy mystery, there's nothing like a lovable pet as a canine or feline friend for an amateur sleuth. I chose a canine companion for Laurel McMillan, the main character in Death by Association, A DIY Diva Mystery. Bear, Laurel's adorable chocolate Labrador retriever accompanies her on walks around the neighborhood in their guard-gated community, Hawkeye Haven, and he's with her when she discovers that one of the community's guards has been attacked and her gun stolen.
            Bear loves to swim, fetch his hard rubber ball, go for his morning walks, play with his doggie friend Goldie, beg for treats, and give Laurel a guilt trip every time she leaves him home alone.



         Bear was inspired by my own dogs, Teddy Bear, a yellow Labrador retriever, and Rocky Boy, a black Lab-Great Pyrenees mix.
            Teddy Bear was seven years old when I adopted him from a local animal shelter. Unfortunately, his previous pet parents hadn't taken very good care of him, and he'd lived outside his entire life. Temperatures soar to 110 degrees in the desert Southwest, where I live, and sun damage had caused him to lose hair on his snout. He also had a thyroid condition, which luckily was easy to treat. I was a bit worried about house training a dog who had never lived inside before, but it turned out to be a breeze. Teddy “got it” right away and learned to go the door whenever he wanted to go outside. He never had an accident in the house.


         Teddy quickly adapted to his new environment where he could live in air-conditioned comfort. He loved to take early morning walks, retrieve his hard rubber ball, and dance for his dinner. Teddy Bear lived to be thirteen, and I still miss him. He was a sweet boy with a laid-back Lab temperament.
            We adopted Rocky Boy, now ten year old, from a rescue organization when he was four. When my husband and I arrived to pick him up, we dicovered that his previous owners had had his front paws declawed! We were shocked and dismayed to learn that someone would do this. When we first took him for a walk, we found that walking on pavement or a cement sidewalk bothered him because he had no nails on his front paws. We decided to talk him to the park for his daily walks, where walking on grass would be easier on his feet.


         Rocky looks like a Lab, but he acts more like a Great Pyrenees. He has no interest in retrieving, and he sometimes tries to herd us if we're not doing what he thinks we should be doing. Otherwise, Rocky's a mellow boy, but a he's also a great watch dog. Although he tolerated modeling the dog scarf project from Death by Association, he was much happier to sample the snacks I was developing as dog treat recipes for the book, all of which he gives his doggie seal of approval.
            You'll find recipes for dog treats and instructions to make a dog scarf and a dog bed in the back of Death by Association.

Even though this takes place in a gated community it has the small town atmosphere that I love in my mysteries. The characters are diverse and well developed. You know I loved Bear. I also like that the main female protagonist is also an author and creative. Her involvement in the case evolved naturally. I like how that felt. 

An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she’s also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Like Laurel, the main character in Death by Association, Paula enjoys all kinds of arts and crafts. Some of her memorable projects include making a hat and a cape to wear to Royal Ascot, sewing wedding gowns for both her daughters, exhibiting her textile and mixed-media artwork in juried art shows, and having one of her jewelry projects accepted for inclusion in Leather Jewelry, published by Lark Books. She sells some of her jewelry and hair accessories in her Etsy shop:
Paula’s interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications.
Living in a guard-gated community governed by a homeowners’ association gave Paula the idea for the setting of Death by AssociationShe finds that residing in an HOA community can be both a blessing and a curse. A Happy-New-Year greeting from her community association called on residents to “start the new year by reviewing your Rules and Regulations booklet,” something unlikely to top anyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions.
Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout
Author Links
Author’s website –
Purchase Links – Amazon  Amazon Paperback

Friday, March 22, 2019

Checking the Traps by Joan Livingston ​

Checking the Traps

Isabel Long is a bit banged up from her last case with a broken collarbone and her arm in a sling. But that doesn’t stop her from pouring beer at the Rooster Bar or taking her third case with Gary Beaumont, a local drug dealer who once terrorized her. Gary is convinced his brother didn’t jump off a bridge known for suicides. Somebody pushed him.
Gary’s brother was a boozer who drove for a highway crew. But what interests Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 93-year-old mother who lives with her — is that the man wrote poetry.
The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, he was that good.
As a journalist, Isabel did regular meetups with her sources for stories. She called it checking the traps. She does the same as a private investigator, and this time, she’ll make sure she doesn’t get caught in one.
Purchase Links:

Writing the Isabel Long Series

By Joan Livingston

Writing a series means that I can hold onto the characters I love but let them do something else. Certainly, that’s the case for Isabel Long, the protagonist, and for many others in my mystery series.
Checking the Traps, the third in the Isabel Long Mystery Series, had an official launch March 22. The first two books are Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge, which were published last year by Crooked Cat Books. I’m nearing the halfway point for the fourth.
Isabel was a longtime journalist who uses her transferable skills in her new life as a private investigator in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. Each book features a cold case she decides to solve. So far, a family member approached Isabel to find out what happened to a loved one.
I carry some of the characters from one book to the other. In the second book, two bad boy drug-dealing brothers, Gary and Larry Beaumont, terrorized Isabel although they did eventually make amends. Certainly, all is forgiven in Checking the Traps because Gary hires Isabel to find out how his half-brother — a poetry-writing guy on a local highway crew —  died. Was it a suicide, as the cops say, or murder?
Among the other characters I kept are: Jack, the owner of the Rooster bar and Isabel’s love interest; her 93-year-old mother, Maria, who’s her Watson; the Old Farts, a group of gossipy men stationed in the general store’s backroom; and Annette and Marsha, two cousins who I will say are country tough.
 I also created new ones like the big shot poet who becomes a chief suspect and the people Isabel interviews for this case.
The trick is to give continuity in a series without giving away too much about the previous book or books. I feel a reader should be able to pick up one book and feel it’s complete.
In Checking the Traps, Isabel has a souvenir from her second case — a broken collarbone from a car crash. She wears a sling for the entire book. But that doesn’t stop her from working part-time at the Rooster Bar or agreeing to take on Gary Beaumont’s case.
Here’s an excerpt:
It’s Friday night at the Rooster Bar and Grille, and I’m behind the bar taking care of business with my one good arm. The other is in a sling. A broken collarbone and a few badly bruised ribs are souvenirs from my second case, that and the satisfaction I nailed the bastard who ran my car off the road. I’m right-handed, and luckily, my injuries are on my left side, so it’s a piece of cake, really, snapping the caps off Buds with the opener mounted on the back of the counter. I only need one arm to reach for beers in the cooler and drop empties into the carton below. I’m not able to deliver food or clean tables, but then again, I have a very understanding boss. You remember Jack Smith, don’t you?
Besides, my getup is a conversation starter here at the town of Conwell’s only drinking establishment. The Rooster’s True Blue Regulars, of course, are all aware of what happened two weeks ago, but being nosy New Englanders, they prod me for details. They can’t get enough of the story. I gladly accommodate them. They’re friendly guys and good tippers.
“Isabel, how fast were you goin’ when Pete hit the back of your mother’s car?” one guy asks when I hand him his beer.
“Last I looked it was eighty.”
“Damn. On that road? You and Barbie were lucky you didn’t get yourselves killed.”
Uh, that might have been Pete Woodrell’s intention when he tailed us in his pickup. His wife, Barbie, was terrified and screaming beside me in the front seat. I didn’t blame her. I felt like screaming, too, but I had to pay attention to the road.
Hold on a minute. I have a line of customers stacking up. The dinner crowd has come and gone, or come and stayed if they’re making a night of it. The kitchen is closed, and I hear Carole, the cook, cleaning inside. The Back Door Men, tonight’s band, are hauling their instruments and speakers through the side door. There’s a full house tonight, which makes Jack, who owns the joint, one happy man.
Being the start of April, the snowmobiles are gone because the snow is pretty much gone. We are in the thick of mud season, at least on the back roads, so the Rooster’s floor is getting awfully gritty. That’s okay. The Rooster is almost a shack in the woods, no frills, except for the large-screen TVs for sports games mostly, the jukebox, and thankfully, a clean women’s room. Jack told me he’s getting ready to spruce up the bar’s interior with some fresh paint and a new toilet in the men’s room. He couldn’t recall the last time the Rooster was painted, oh, maybe when he first bought the place. As for the men’s room toilet, it’s probably an original.
“What’ll it be tonight, Luke?” I ask the guy in front of me as if I don’t know what he’ll order.
“Make it a Bud.”
I reach inside the cooler.
“You sure? We do have a fine selection of beers on tap.”
He smiles to himself as he reaches into his back pocket for his wallet. Most folks here pay cash for their drinks and meals although Jack started taking credit cards years ago.
“You think the murder charges will stick?” he asks.
I smile to myself, too.
“I sure as hell hope so.”

Author Bio
Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Checking the Traps, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the third in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first two are Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge.
An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.
After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long mystery series.
Social Media Links –
Twitter: @joanlivingston 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Pieces of You and Me by Rachel Burton

They say time can heal all wounds…

When Jess and Rupert parted ways, it was the end of a great love story that might have been. Now ten years later, the very different paths they have taken in life will bring them back together for a chance meeting.
But with so much left unsaid about the break up neither ever recovered from and with each keeping their own devastating secrets, will they finally be able to make the fractured pieces of their love for one another whole again?

Excerpt #2

The Pieces of You and Me is a interspersed with extracts from Jess’s diaries.
This is from the first diary extract…

We were born twelve hours apart – you at six p.m. and me the following morning – in the same hospital, our mothers recovering in beds next to each other, an odd but lifelong friendship developing from that initial bond. You were early and I was late, which was the pattern that continued for the rest of our lives. You were always waiting for me to catch up with you.
Our parents’ houses stood back to back and our mothers’ friendship transferred to us. We grew up together, in one another’s pockets. We made a hole in the back fence so we could cut through into each other’s gardens instead of walking around the block to the front door. We wandered in and out of each other’s houses as though we owned the whole street. We did everything together from the moment we were born.
Our first day of school seemed less daunting because we had each other. We were always in trouble for talking, or for reading some book or other that we weren’t meant to be reading, both of us so ahead of the rest of the class even then. Sometimes, when they made us work in pairs, the teachers would separate us, make us work with other people. But you were always looking over your shoulder, making sure I was OK.
When you were six you punched the boy who used to bully me. You got in a lot of trouble for that. Afterwards you told me you were going to marry me one day, and always look after me. You were the only six-year-old I’ve ever known who tried to stick to that promise.
The autumn after my grandmother died we were sent off to separate schools, hothousing us in single-sex environments, prepping us for the ‘great things’ our parents had planned for our futures. I missed you desperately. I was so used to you then that I missed the testosterone in my every day, even if I wasn’t really aware that’s what it was that I was missing. Every evening when we got home we ripped off our expensive school uniforms and pulled on the dirty, scruffy clothes we preferred wearing to sit in my mother’s apple orchard, catching up on our days, daydreaming.
And then, when we were eleven, the unthinkable happened.
They took you away from me …

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Author Bio – Rachel Burton is the author of the international ebook bestseller The Many Colours of Us. 

Rachel spent most of her life between Cambridge and London but now lives in Yorkshire with her fiance and their three cats. The main loves of her life are The Beatles and very tall romantic heroes.

Find her on Twitter & Instagram as @bookish_yogi or follow her blog at She is always happy to talk books, writing, music, cats and how the weather in Yorkshire is rubbish. She is mostly dreaming of her next holiday....
Social Media Links – Twitter:

Everyday Enchantments

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New Age, Inspirational Non-Fiction
Date Published: October 26, 2018
Publisher: Moon Books

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Winner of the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the New Age Category for 2018!

Everyday Enchantments is a love letter to the magic of everyday life, the sweet moments and the profound that we often overlook in our hurry to get from one place to the next. What if we had the power to unplug from our daily hustle and bustle and conjure a more profound way of living rooted in natural mysticism?

We do. All it takes is the whispered wish for more everyday enchantment breathed onto a dandelion head. This collection of essays reminds us to escape into the ordinary, find beauty in a simple cup of tea or rereading a beloved novel—and joyfully let our world turn upside down when synchronicity strikes in the form of wrong turns down forgotten lanes and unexpected midnight conversations with the moon. 

This book is a study in what it means to live deliciously, joyfully, and magically. And it’s an invitation to conjure your own bliss—-because let’s face it: we could all use a little more magic in our lives. 

A spell wrapped in a noun.
Three syllables. One state of being.
To live with Enchantment is to see beyond the brick and mortar that make up your home and into the magic infused within its frame. It is made up of stories and dried bay leaves and dreams whispered into the heads of dandelions.
Of bare feet on carpeted floors and the smell of burning sage.

Crystals—amethyst, citrine, amazonite, smoky quartz—winding in and around your books; all the better to magnify their magic.
It is to peel back the layers of your day-to-day and search for that elusive energy that winds its way up your spine and outward into your life. Let the snake at your base wriggle free of its coil to climb up to your shoulder blades and across your open back. There is no room for tightly stacked discs here, just the taste of joy when the sun licks your skin. You might find it at the bottom of an empty teacup. Your future written in soggy leaves, or in the whisper of trees, their leaves rustling and murmuring secrets only they can understand. Sometimes they are kind enough to translate for you—if you listen long enough.
 If you shower their roots with distilled love songs and feed them the black earth from your compost. It’s there, too, when you run your tongue along the grooves and ridges of a well-loved sentence. It’s everywhere.
Even in the spaces you think have lost hope, like the junk drawer where you keep
 your faded dreams, stray screws, and half-forgotten heartbreaks along with wine corks and a few rubber bands. They’re not lost, just resting like seeds in the earth before they are ready to break open.
That is the first syllable.

The second is to learn from Enchantment, to listen to Coyote's call when he plays his tricks. Coyote loves his tricks. And you should too. What delicious messages wrapped in matted fur and a lolling tongue! All he wants is for you to take that leap of faith when only you can see the soft earth on the other side of the cliff. Don’t you know that you have wings? They are just rusty from disuse. Just listen to Coyote’s long-winded stories (he does so admire himself) and watch the flick of his tail. All he asks is for you to trust him, even if he can’t be trusted; his lesson is real, hard as onyx in your palm, ephemeral as the desert rain that you feel in your bones when all you see is a cloudless sky. No weatherman can ever map the storms and sunshine working their way across your body.
Coyote has no room for logic, just the reason in his unreason. Just those perfect coincidences set in motion by the padding of his paws. You are raw power, he says, a spark of the universe set in motion. And you must trust this power that is you, that is the earth, that is the beating of your heart. A rhythmic tattoo forever pounding out your path, however many times you try to stray from it. All Enchantment asks is that you absorb the wisdom of the moon and the stars, and the prophesying of the seeds burrowed deep in the dirt. Coyote is there to make sure you listen, even when the rest of the world prefers your ears stopped with cotton and your heart beating as slow as melting snow in winter. 

About the Author

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Maria DeBlassie, Ph.D. is a native New Mexican mestiza blogger, award-winning writer, and educator living in the Land of Enchantment. Her blogging life started as a year-long journey to write her back into happy, healthy, and whole through daily posts about life’s simple pleasures, everyday magic, and radical self-care. That year-long experiment turned into a lifestyle, a book, a press—and her ongoing blog, Enchantment Learning & Living. She is forever looking for magic in her life and somehow always finding more than she thought was there. Find out more about Maria and conjuring everyday magic at

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl

The Forgotten Secret
A country at war

It’s the summer of 1919 and Ellen O’Brien has her whole life ahead of her. Young, in love and leaving home for her first job, the future seems full of shining possibility. But war is brewing and before long Ellen and everyone around her are swept up by it. As Ireland is torn apart by the turmoil, Ellen finds herself facing the ultimate test of love and loyalty.

And a long-buried secret
A hundred years later and Clare Farrell has inherited a dilapidated old farmhouse in County Meath. Seizing the chance to escape her unhappy marriage she strikes out on her own for the first time, hoping the old building might also provide clues to her family’s shadowy history. As she sets out to put the place – and herself – back to rights, she stumbles across a long-forgotten hiding place, with a clue to a secret that has lain buried for decades.
For fans of Kate Morton and Gill Paul comes an unforgettable novel about two women fighting for independence.

Purchase Links
US  -  

More than two stories in one with parallel themes and overlaps.
This will appeal to the history lover as well as the romantic reader. A believable tale about finding oneself and learning to stand up for what one believes. 
Through tortuous, emotional times, times of war and times of marital war and strife, situations we find ourselves in both out of our control and due to our own choices, the human spirit can prevail if one takes a stand.
Two strong female protagonists head a wondrous cast of characters. 
Storylines a century apart that both contain issues we deal with today.
Being USA born and educated I was unaware of much of the historical details but found them fascinating and will pay more attention when I come across them again in my reading.
To get the most of this book, read it alone, not switching between several books at a time, as I tend to read.

Author Bio –
Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband and elderly tabby cat. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.
Social Media Links –
Twitter: @KathMcGurl