Today I need your help. My next book is almost ready to be published. I have written three descriptions and have to choose one for the back cover and to put up everywhere it’s needed. Because this novel, BLACKOUT, has two main characters and switches between their points of view, I wrote one from each viewpoint, and one that includes both.


Please pick the one you like best and “vote” in the comments section of this blog. Cutoff is midnight Wednesday of next week. I will have a drawing for the winner, who will receive a copy of BLACKOUT as soon as it’s published. The winner can choose between a Kindle edition, a PDF file, or a trade paperback, signed copy. Check my blog next Friday to see if you’re the winner and get in touch with me privately about what version you would like and where to deliver it to.

Now for the descriptions:

1. Two VPs:

Who is Alice Strong? Even Alice doesn’t know the answer to that question. Her life seems to have begun as she walked along a dark, lonely road. She got lucky when a nice young man picked her up and delivered her to the home of a woman in Valleyview, California, who takes in lost souls. Alice knew enough to claim she’s eighteen, but for reasons unclear even to her, she won’t admit to anyone that she’s lost her memory.

Betty Cranston, director of nurses, reluctantly hires Alice to work at Merry Hills Nursing Center, only because she needs aides desperately. She’s surprised at how agitated Alice becomes when she finds a dead patient. After all, people die in nursing homes on a regular basis. But Betty doesn’t like the way the resident is posed with her hands folded on her chest, as if laid out for her funeral. When two more are discovered in the same manner, Betty is convinced someone is murdering her patients. She hates the fact she’s begun to suspect certain people, including Alice Strong. With her own mother a resident, Betty’s worries increase and a desperate measure is taken to catch the killer in action.

Bit by bit, Alice remembers pieces of her life before her blackout. As she does, the murderer makes a surprising move that puts Alice and Betty’s mother in jeopardy.  When the final memories tear into her, feelings of helplessness and sorrow become overwhelming. Will Alice have the fortitude to save both Betty’s mother and her own life?

 2.  Betty’s VP

Betty Cranston, director of nurses at Merry Hills Nursing Center, is happy with her job. She does her best to make sure the residents, including her mother, are happy and well cared for. Everything’s going great until, one after another, residents turn up dead, all posed as if laid out for a funeral.

Everyone is a suspect.  It could be the husband of one of the victims, the new girl, Alice, who’s suffering from amnesia, or one of the nurses turned “angel of mercy?” Betty’s unsure of what action to take–the police don’t believe there’s a threat and the nursing home wants to keep things quiet. Terrified for her mother and her own safety, Betty only knows she’s got to get to the bottom of this horror before somebody else dies, maybe even her own mother.

3. Alice’s VP

Who is Alice Strong? Even Alice doesn’t know the answer to that question. Her life seems to have begun as she walked along a dark, lonely road. She got lucky when a nice young man picked her up and delivered her to the home of a woman in Valleyview, California, who takes in lost souls. Alice knows enough to claim she’s eighteen, but for reasons unknown even to her, she won’t admit to anyone that she’s lost her memory. Reluctantly, she accepts a job at the local nursing home, and on the second day, discovers a dead woman. She knows she over-reacts, but can’t help herself. When yet another woman dies soon after, Alice becomes aware that the Director of Nurses, Betty Cranston, believes they are being murdered and that she suspects Alice. Alice begins to wonder if she might be the killer because she’s already lost her memory once. Could she be murdering patients without remembering?

Bit by bit, Alice puts together pieces of her life before her blackout and comes to understand her past. As she does, the murderer makes a surprising move that puts Alice and Betty’s paralyzed mother in jeopardy.  When the final memories tear into her, feelings of helplessness and sorrow become overwhelming. Will Alice have the fortitude to save both Betty’s mother and herself?

Now, please vote for #1, 2 or 3! Thanks for your help with this.


Please help me celebrate the launch of my latest mystery novel, Perfect Victim. I am very excited about introducing my private eye character, Paula Mitchell, to the world. This is the first in a series about Paula, and I hope everyone enjoys reading as much as I enjoy writing about her.

Here’s the description:

A few days after Sylvia Leominster is murdered, private investigator Paula Mitchell interviews Sylvia’s fiancé in their small-town Rhode Island jail. Warren Wade’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapon, he has no alibi, and Sylvia broke up with him the night she was killed. After another young woman friend of Sylvia’s is bludgeoned to death, Paula is dismayed when the police keep Warren in jail. They claim the second murder could have been committed by a copy-cat and remind her Warren’s fingerprints are still on the weapon that killed Sylvia.

Working with her best friend who often hires Paula to investigate cases and who is Warren’s lawyer, Paula searches for answers. Paula and  her computer guru lover narrow down the suspects to the victim’s friends. The group is led by a mesmeric young man with political ambitions. Paula doesn’t trust him, especially when she learns that all of Sylvia’s friends have lied during her interviews. At the preliminary hearing, some answers begin to emerge. Paula zeros in on the killer and sees firsthand how friendship and loyalty can be used for personal gain. With Warren’s freedom on the line, she has to find a way to capture the real killer. But in doing so, she doesn’t realize she’s putting herself and her own best friend in danger.

Please check it out at Amazon (click on the cover image above), where it’s available in print and for the Kindle. It should also be available in print at your favorite on-line store, if not right away, in a couple of weeks or so.

And thanks so much for you interest.


Today my son arrives from up in North Texas, and I’ve been cooking up a storm, with still a bit more to do (apple pie), so I’m not much in the mood to write a blog post about organization, time management, or writing.

But I do want to let everyone know about my newest novel, Perfect Victim, first in a series about a private investigator whose name is Paula Mitchell. How did I come up with the name? My father’s name was Paul, and I grew up with him and my mother on Mitchell Place in New Jersey. I once read that many soap opera stars are named after their first pets and the street where they grew up. I wanted to honor my father (and my aunt who was glad she was born second, or she would have been named Paula), so Paula Mitchell was born.

Right now, Perfect Victim is only available for Kindle applications and devices, here:

You will find out all about it there—the description and so on. In a week or so, I expect the print version to be available, as well. Here’s the cover!

I hope you’ll check it out. What do you think about the cover? I have become so tired of all the dark covers for mysteries, so I decided to do something different, and Derek Murphy, the artist who has been doing all my covers, used the background image of the white living room I pointed him to and came up with this. I think it’s stunning. Derek is amazing.


Several writers I know have had interesting events this week that you can still look for on-line. And I have one, too. Here’s the scoop. Enjoy.

Carol Kilgore had a wonderful reveal of her upcoming, what she calls “crime fiction with a kiss,” novel, SOLOMON’S COMPASS. Look at this cover:

 Carol and I share the same cover artist, Derek Murphy. We think he’s one of the best out there. Isn’t this stunning? Here’s the description of Solomon’s Compass:

Taylor is in Rock Harbor, Texas, on a quest to unearth her uncle’s treasure—a journey far outside the realm of her real life. There’s one glitch. Taylor’s certain the buried treasure was all in Uncle Randy’s dementia-riddled mind. Now he’s dead.

Former SEAL Jake Solomon is in Rock Harbor under false pretenses to protect Taylor from the fate that befell her uncle and the other members of a tight circle of Coast Guardsmen called the Compass Points who served together on Point boats in Vietnam.

Jake is definitely not supposed to become involved with Taylor. That was his first mistake. Taylor is attracted to Jake as well, but she refuses to wait for him to locate the killer when she knows her plan will force her uncle’s murderer into action.

But the killer’s actions are just what Jake is afraid of.

Her bio: Carol Kilgore is an award-winning author of several published short stories and many essays and articles. Solomon’s Compass is her second novel, a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss – always at least one crime; always a love story. Carol and her Coast Guard husband live in San Antonio, Texas, with two herding dogs that like nothing better than pack time on the patio.

You can find Carol here:

website . blog . facebook . twitter . goodreads . amazon

Find out more about Carol and Solomon’s Compass here:

Carol and I are old friends and critique partners. She gets to see my work before anyone else and tears it apart. We both seem to have different strengths and weaknesses, so this has become a very valuable partnership.

Next up is John Floyd.  Here’s the cover of his latest short story collection:

You may remember that I had a short story in SEEDS, an online newsletter for Texas Gardeners, last week. The editor, himself a prolific short story writer, includes a short story in every weekly issue in January because there’s just not a lot of gardening news in January. The stories need to have a garden theme. John’s story is called, “A Nice Little Place in the Country,” and you only need to scroll down a way to read it. What a twist! It’s amazing what John came up with. Go here to see (it’s short):

John and I have been in several issues of the same magazines and ezines over the years, including DETECTIVE MYSTERY FICTION, MYSERICAL-E, and maybe the old FUTURES MYSTERIOUS ANTHOLOGY MAGAZINE. Because we both love to write short stories more than novels, we have become on-line friends, although we’ve never met in person. John has had fifty short stories in WOMAN’S WORLD magazine alone. Plus dozens more in other places. I always check to see if he has a story in WW when I’m at the grocery checkout counter. Look for him there!

Then there’s Earl Skaggs. Here’s the cover from his first novel:


Now he’s written a blog post about his upcoming novel, JUSTIFIED ACTION.

I’d tell you more, but it’s a secret. You’ll have to read all about it on his blog.

Earl and I have known each other since before the beginning of this century. We even started a mystery critique group up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before I went motorhoming fulltime with my husband. We still exchange, via email, writing for critique, and I keep in touch with the other members of the group, too. Earl is another writer who loves to write short stories.

And last, in case you missed it, I did a guest blog on Tuesday, here:

where I gave away, to a commenter, one copy of my last novel, ORGANIZED TO DEATH.


I also sent off my editing checklist to anyone who wanted one. You can email me ( to get one, too.

I’ve known Jan all her life. I know she loves to hear from you, and commenting here would make her day.

Hope this roundup has been interesting. I think it’s wonderful that so many of us had great news this week. If I missed anyone I know, contact me, and I’ll blog about you, too.



Today I’m still catching up on stuff in order to start the new year off right, so I didn’t have time to write a long post. Another reason is that I wrote a guest post about writing for another blog—will be announcing that, of course, the day it appears next week.

So, today, I give you a free short story to read instead. Go here, scroll down past the first article, and  you’ll see my name:

I plan to be back on schedule on Monday with a post about organization. Look for me then.





Today my first novel, Sara’s Search, starts a three-day free ebook promotion. I hope you will check it out here:

Since this is my first published novel, it has a special place in my heart. Here’s the description:

Sara Putnam has spent the last two years searching for her biological father, Howard. When she finds him murdered, she has even more questions. As she starts her own investigation, she meets Howard’s eccentric, co-inventor partner, his ex-wife and their son who calls his mother “the bank,” plus an assorted cast of suspects. She also has to deal with her adopted mother’s roadblocks, her crazy roommate’s problems, sexual harassment at work and her best friend’s strange illness. Sometimes quirky, sometimes serious, Sara’s Search, as one reviewer said, will keep you flipping those pages.

Check out the reviews, and remember, even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can get free Kindle apps for other ebook readers (including the Nook), your PC and laptop, your smart phone, and even to read in “the cloud.”

I hope you’ll grab a free copy of Sars’s Search while they’re available.

Now, you probably noticed the title of this post. Yes, there are more free books to be had today in the mystery genre. Go here for a list and the dates they are free–dates may not be the same as mine:

What a way to start the new year! You can load up on a bunch of free mysteries. Enjoy!




No, not just cleaning it up. Living with it. It seems to nag you. It’s always taking up space in your head as well as in your workplace or home. It can slow down your work pace as you search for one piece of paper or a single object in all the mess.

If it seems overwhelming, pick a certain time every day (after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner, before bed are all good times because they are easy to remember). For fifteen minutes, work on the clutter. Then you can stop. Because the next day you’re going to work for fifteen more minutes, and so on until done.

First handle the latest papers or objects that have shown up in the space you want to clear. Always have a trash basket nearby. Maybe you want to tackle a craft room. You’ve recently been shopping and piled a bunch of objects on a table, plus you haven’t put away stuff when finished with it. Start when the latest purchases. Remove packaging and throw them away. Put the objects in a designated places. The next time you go shopping, do not consider the trip over until every item you bought is put away. And the next time you stop on a project for the day, do not leave a mess. Put away tools and materials you’re finished with. Lay out the project nicely for the next time you want to work on it.

If it’s your office, start with the day’s mail. Throw away junk without opening. Open every other piece, throw away inside junk and the outside envelope unless it contains a return address or other information you might need—if so, staple the envelope behind the paper. Glance at the piece of paper and put it in your inbox to handle later (bill or to reply, for example), or in a pile to file away (or if your files are handy, simply file it), and throw out anything you can after reading it, or put it in a spot you’ve designated for reading later. Once you’ve done the daily mail, start with any other paper and do the same with it. If you don’t file as you go, save a few minutes at the end of your fifteen minutes to file.

For the kitchen, begin by figuring out where you want everything to be for ease of use. Then empty out one area, go through the rest of the room and gather everything that should go in that area, putting things away in cupboards or drawers as necessary. Of course, throw out things you never use, or donate them.

You may stop after fifteen minutes, but sometimes you may want to go a bit longer. But don’t wear yourself out, because the next day you won’t want to do anything. The trick is to make this a habit, and skipping a day is not good for habit-making. So, go easy on yourself. Be sure that you remember to always put away purchases you bring home right away and that you clean up and put away everything you used after doing a project, making a meal, or doing office work, or anything else. Habits are easier to break than to make, but if you try this system, you might be amazed at what a clutter-free environment you end up with.