Christmas–and Murder–Are in the Air

Dorothy HowellDorothy Howell writes for two major New York publishing houses, in two genres, under two names.  She’s sold 32 novels.  Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, with sales approaching 4 million copies worldwide.

Dorothy writes the hilarious Haley Randolph mystery series.  Her current releases are Tote Bags and Toe Tags, available in hardcover from Kensington Books, and Slay Bells and Satchels, the first Christmas novella in the series.

She also writes historical romance novels for Harlequin Silhouette under the pen name Judith Stacy.

Dorothy is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America.

Visit her Web sites at and

Join her Dorothy Howell Novels page on Facebook.

Follow her on Twitter @DHowellNovels

Who isn’t thinking about Christmas at this time of the year?  With all the shopping, decorating, wrapping, list-making, menu planning, and family events, most of us don’t have time to think about much more than getting to the “big day.”

But at some point in the hustle and bustle, we eventually find a moment to look back.  The Christmases of our childhood usually come to mind.

I grew up in rural Virginia where the holiday season meant building snowmen, having snowball fights with friends, and sledding down the big hill beside our house.  There were sleigh riding parties on freezing days with bonfires, and hot dogs and marshmallows to roast.  One of my favorite holiday events was the trek into the woods behind our house to select our Christmas tree.  My dad chopped it down with an ax, and we carried it home where the whole family gathered to decorate it.

My most shocking Christmas came many years later when my husband’s career in the U.S. Air Force moved us from cold, snowy Virginia to warm, sunny Southern California in early December.  I Christmas shopped—without a coat.  We decorated our tree—with bright sunshine streaming through open windows.  On Christmas morning we opened gifts—wearing shorts with the air conditioner blasting.

So what does a writer do with all these very different Christmas memories?  Write, of course!

Slay Bells and SatchelsI’m thrilled to have written three Christmas novellas for Harlequin Historicals, where I write under my pen name Judith Stacy.  These are historical romances set during the late 1800s that evoke the warmth of family, home, and the love of the season in a bygone era.

I absolutely had to write a holiday story for my amateur sleuth and handbag obsessed mystery series character Haley Randolph.  As you might expect, this novella is quite different from the romances.  Haley’s holiday becomes a Christmas nightmare when she finds a murdered elf in the Holt’s Department Store’s giant toy bag—and ends up on Santa’s “naughty” list along with hot private detective Jack Bishop.

Whether your Christmases are “naughty” or “nice,” they all make wonderful memories that take us through the years, with traditions we pass to our loved ones.

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