Book Review: Die Die Birdie

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J.R. Ripley

DIE DIE BIRDIEAmy Simms owns and runs Birds and Bees, a little store in North Carolina situated in a house that is more than a hundred years old. The bottom floor is the store but above that there is room for four apartments and an attic.  She lives in one apartment, her mother lives in another and my favorite character, Esther the Pester, lives in another.  When a murder occurs at the store, Amy is accused by Sheriff Jerry, a man who took her out on a disastrous date when they were sixteen. He hasn’t improved much since then. J.R. Ripley does a great job with the story, and I loved all the musical theater references! I think I figured out most of them. Great book! Don’t forget to scroll down and click on the Prize Guy to enter the giveaway!

Here’s my review:

4 Stars

Die Die Birdie is a funny, suspenseful cozy mystery that keeps you guessing right up to the end. The author does a beautiful job of setting up many possible avenues for a mystery reader to pursue and the pacing of the story excellent. Amy Simms has opened Birds and Bees in a Victorian home in Ruby Lake, North Carolina. She is joined by a cast of characters that range from funny to loveable to creepy. Amy has a tenant no one could love and of course, I loved her. If you’re a cozy mystery fan, this one is a fun read.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Click on me to enter a giveaway for a for a free e-copy of Die Die Birdie!


Happy Homicides 4: Fall Into Crime Cover Reveal

HH 4 revised 07212016 (1)Time to reveal the cover for Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime — A bountiful harvest of cozy mysteries, including six novellas and seven short stories, plus a special bonus file of recipes and crafts. Only 99 cents.


But Wait…There’s More!

Two for One Special: Buy Happy Homicides 4 for 99 cents and get Happy Homicides 3 absolutely FREE, these dates only: Aug. 29 through Sept. 4

Come join us as we tour with the fourth book in the series. We’ll kick it off with a Facebook Launch Party on August 29. I will be posting more information about that as we get closer to the date.

After that Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime goes on a crazy blog tour, both with Escape With Dollycas Blog Tour sites and a roundup of blogs our authors love to visit! The schedule is being finalized right now, but I’ll keep you posted.

Of course, we have to have a giveaway. It starts today and goes until September 8th. Enter to win everything you need for a fall afternoon’s enjoyment using THIS LINK FOR GIVEAWAY.

Tribal-patterned tote bag with two inside pockets, one zipperedFallGiveaway2016.jpg

50″x60″ fleece throw, to keep the chill away

Pashmina for year-round comfort

2 pair of socks, light as air to warm your feet

Tervis hot-and-cold tumbler with lid, for no-spill transport

Earl Grey tea

Walker Shortbread Rounds 

Notepads with pen



Had enough free stuff?? Here’s one more. Preorder Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime and get this bonus file of crafts and recipes from our authors.

Book Review: The Bluebonnet Betrayal

TheBluebonnetBetrayalThe Bluebonnet Betrayal, a great addition to the Potting Shed Mystery Series by Marty Wingate, just came out on Amazon.  Living in Texas, and a lover of flowers, I was drawn to the cover featuring bluebonnets and Pru’s dog, Boris. Marty’s main character, Pru Park, talks about driving around the Hill Country of Texas looking for bluebonnets, and I immediately identified with it! Yes, I’ve done that with my family.  It’s quite a treat when you all of a sudden come upon a giant patch of deep blue flowers.  It’s just one of the reasons I love Springtime!  Like that sapphire field over the next hill, this book was a found treasure.

My Review: 5 Stars

Bluebonnets are one of my favorite flowers, so I was excited to see them in the title of a cozy mystery.
Pru Parke, a Texan living in England gets the chance to work with a group of women from Austin to create a unique Texas garden display at the Chelsea Garden Show. The flower that will be featured will be the beautiful bluebonnets of Texas. When one of the members of the Texas group is found dead, Pru and her loveable English husband investigate the murder. There were so many things I liked about this story!  This well-written mystery is a challenge to solve although the murderer was on my “possible suspect” list. I especially loved the ending chapters. Marty Wingate had me at bluebonnets!

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Homicide in the House


Author Colleen Shogun

Author Colleen J. Shogun

True confession, I’m a political junkie. I loved House of Cards, and am enjoying Brain Dead right now. Alien ants in politician’s ears eating out a part of the brain? So many questions answered.

I was excited to get to read and review Colleen Shogan’s Homicide in the House.   I immediately identified with Kit Marshall and her professor boyfriend.  I loved hearing about the inner workings of the House and the Senate, the Democrats and the Republicans. It was also interesting to see the equivalent of the apocalypse story when the government shuts down and the characters are left in small groups to roam the formerly busy offices and hallways alone.   Even though this doesn’t fit the traditional format of a cozy mystery in a small town, the community in the congress has all of the facets of one.   Colorful characters, gossip mills, romance, intrigue and of course, murder. Don’t forget to scroll down and find the Prize Guy to enter for a $50 gift card from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Here is my review: 4 Stars

Homicide in the House is the second in Colleen Shogan’s political series. I found the story easy to follow and immediately engaging as Kit Marshall works for freshman Congresswoman Maeve Dixon.  When the government goes into shutdown mode and man is found murdered with the blame going to Maeve, Kit must solve the mystery. I enjoyed learning about the inner workings of the Congress even down to explaining which is the best cafeteria for staffers.  Even though this cozy mystery is not set in a small town, the small political community has a wonderful collection of cozy elements. I enjoyed Homicide in the House and can’t wait to read the first book in the series, Stabbing in the Senate.

Click on me to enter a giveaway for a $50 Gift Card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Click on me to enter a giveaway for a $50 Gift Card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Cozy Mystery Book Review: Showtime


If you have ever been involved in the cutthroat world of community theater, then Showtime is for you. I was involved in community theater in my teens and twenties and can tell you everything author Suzanne Trauth has included in her humorous cozy mystery centered around an ill-fated production of Romeo and Juliet is exactly right. From the diva-esque director to the cast getting out of control at rehearsals, been there, wielded that sword.  My favorite scene had to be the funeral, but I was riveted to the story all the way through. Before you get to my 4 Star review, click on the prize guy below to be entered for a free ebook version of Showtime.





Click Here To Enter for a Free E-book of Showtime

Click Here To Enter for a Free E-book  copy of Showtime


Here is my review of Showtime:

Dodie is a successful manager of a local restaurant. Managing is her thing, so when the local community theater asks her to come organize the production of a Romeo and Juliet she jumps right in with schedules and charts. When a murder occurs, Dodie meets up with the new police chief, Bill, and her sense of putting things right prevails once again.  I loved the way Suzanne Trauth made the mystery interesting and easy to follow and her sense of humor came through in scenes like the full-Elizabethan-dress funeral and the trust exercise. There’s no sillier business like show business. 4 Stars

How My Writing Process Continues to Evolve

notebook_glassesI have written at least eight full-length novels, all of them mysteries. What may surprise you is my process of writing has never been the same. With each manuscript, I learned what worked and what didn’t. I think I picked this up through teaching. I’ve written stellar lesson plans that I was sure would inspire young minds but then found they only inspired me.  Next time around, I’d pull out the dull stuff and find something else that worked better. Same way with sewing, you can always do it just a little bit better next time.  (Yes, you Pattern Review people, I love to sew, but this darn writing gig keeps stealing my time.)  So what’s involved in writing  for me?

Outlining. Yes, I’m not a pantster. If you are unfamiliar with the term, a “pantster” is someone who writes whatever comes into their head instead of using an outline. These are the same people who can construct beautiful arguments and talk me into a corner in just a few minutes. I admire their ability to write like that, but I’ve always been a compulsive planner.  I can’t help it, and worst of all, I enjoy it. I can admit to myself that maybe my first idea is not always my best idea. I just came to the end of a full-length mystery, read back through it and changed the murderer.  I had to change all the clues and discard my efforts of putting the now defunct murderer in the right place at the right time, but darn it, I liked the character too much. I wanted that character to continue, not go to my bad guy file for the rest of eternity.  Time to re-outline…rewrite…a few more scenes… dinner is going to be late again.

Documentation. I keep a three-ring binder with sections on plots, subplots, characters, crime detail, research. Then I keep sections on Scrivener, a brand of novel-writing software. Then, I keep a computer file with more information.  One of the things I learned along the way is I have a lousy memory.  Keeping the binder came into my process about four books ago.

Audio Editing. I have an editor, but I can’t afford to have her around every day. I find many errors just by listening to each chapter read out loud.  It works. You hear things you might miss, for instance, the other night I read a chapter to my critique group and realized I said “little” four times on the same page.  By reading like this, you can better get back into the flow of the writing and the flow the reader will hear as they read your book.

Embrace Mistakes. That’s right. You are a human being and not a computer. Once you find an error, don’t waste time berating yourself. Fix it. Move on. It’s like painting a wall. See that ugly gash you made moving your husband’s oversized desk down the hall? It was a bad day. You don’t want to remember it. Spackle, sand, and paint. Voila! Rewrite, move things around, get rid of things that don’t work. Forgive your husband.

How Often Do You Read?

Pecan Bayou Series #3

Pecan Bayou Series #3

You always hear about people binge watching this or that program but when was the last time you heard about someone binge reading? The average person reads one book a year which means some people don’t read at all. We read on the interenet, we read the endless texts on our phone, but fewer and fewer of us are spending time reading a book. Because of my job as a writer, I try to read 30 to 40 books a year. I take a little longer because I not only follow the storyline, but I look at HOW the book was written. It’s kind of like I’m on one long independent study course.  But, like everyone else, my husband I love to binge watch. House of Cards, Downton Abbey, we’ve seen so many!

If you’re looking for a FREE book to read, to celebrate the Fourth of July, I am offering Doggone Dead  free through Smashwords until July 15 with coupon code NH97G. 

Which would you rather do? Binge watch or binge read?