The Times, They Are A’Changing @kdkoppang

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to talk about what the holidays have meant to her in the past and today.

Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue was released in July 2017 and was a finalist for best canine book of the year in the Dog Writers of America annual writing contest. Kathleen’s newest book in the series, Dressed to Kill, was released in the UK on August 1, 2019 and in the US on November 1, 2019.

http://www.kathleendelaney.net/

Thanksgiving is upon us once more and Christmas is waiting impatiently in the wings. This will be my 83rd holiday season and I find myself reflecting on holidays past and comparing them with those we celebrate today.

Things have changed. Personally, our holidays have gotten smaller, meaning fewer people. That is, of course, to be expected. Children grow up and establish their own family traditions, grandmothers and grandfathers are no longer with us, others move out of easy traveling distance so this year there will only be 5 of us around the Thanksgiving table and hopefully 7 around the Christmas tree. Time was when Thanksgiving meant a gathering of 20 – 30. One year, when I think we only had 16, we also had 9 dogs. That was an interesting year. I think that was the year we stopped up the garbage disposal and had several of the guys on the roof, trying to unstop it.

Christmas, when my 5 kids were little, meant midnight Mass, then the morning was free to focus on the presents Santa had left. They were always the good ones. Bikes, skates, wagons, a Chatty Cathy doll, good stuff. The ones Mom and Dad gave ran to books, underwear, slippers and brownie or cub scout socks with maybe a Barbie or a GI Joe. But they were star studded mornings that have left me with a lot of wonderful memories. In the afternoon the grandparents arrived, and we did it all over then sat down to a huge dinner.

It seems now the day isn’t a success unless you have enough stuff under the tree that it takes two days to open it all.

The years have brought other kinds of changes besides the ones at my house. It seems that Thanksgiving is now almost a forgotten holiday. It’s just a jumping off point for the start of Christmas shopping. Stores are even open Thanksgiving Day, so you won’t miss a bargain and Friday is a mad house. The stores have all been decorated for Christmas since before Halloween. Personally, the only purchase I make the day after Thanksgiving is poinsettias for a dollar at Home Depot. I go early and get home before the crowds overwhelm me. Most of my shopping will be done online. When my kids were little, online meant something you dried your clothes on.

Change can be good, though. I can still remember the pile of dishes at the end of the day. No dishwasher then, only me and whoever I could corral into helping me. Mostly my mother and mother-in-law. I give thanks every year for the dishwasher. I no longer have a double oven but during the years we had huge crowds it did double duty. Now we have gas barbeques that can grill the turkey and other things and they are a blessing indeed. But my favorite new thing is the cell phone. Used to be, if you were apart for the holidays, a card had to suffice. Not now. Thanksgiving Day and Christmas day the phones will be out and the camera’s on. We will share everything across the country except the turkey.

One last thing. Thanksgiving and Christmas are special days of joy and love, family and friends, giving and being thankful for the many blessings we have. That will never change.

For our family, neither will the number of dogs that will celebrate with us. Only 4 for Thanksgiving, but probably 6 for Christmas. I know it doesn’t come out even, but don’t worry. The person left over with no dog will get the cat.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that the turkey turned out perfect. Christmas, here we come.

Before I forget. Books are the perfect Christmas present. So if you have someone who likes dogs, small towns and a great puzzle to solve, please consider the Mary McGill canine mysteries. You just might find one of the dogs who will be around my Christmas tree lurking in the pages.

TTT: Ten Books to Read if You Like Female Sleuths (Nancy Drew)

This is a fun post, reminding me of some of my favorite girl detectives and giving me leads on some I haven’t tried…yet 😉

Hidden Staircase

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s prompt is “Ten Books To Read If You Like This Super Popular Book/Author.” I’m going back to my roots this week at Hidden Staircase – that’s right, Nancy Drew. Girl detectives. Female sleuths. Women solving mysteries. However you like to phrase it, she’s a leading lady with brains, spunk, and a sense of justice.

In the spirit of keeping things fresh, I will do my best to list books that don’t frequently appear in my TTT lists.

Nancy Drew #2. Nancy Drew #2.

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Book Reviews: Black Site by Philip Mudd and November Road by Lou Berney @RoguePhilMudd @LiverightPub @Lou_Berney @WmMorrowBooks

Black Site
The CIA in the Post-9/11 World

Philip Mudd
Liveright Publishing, July 2019
ISBN 978-1-63149-197-9
Hardcover

Here is an eye-opening, compelling inside narrative of our premiere intelligence agency during one of the most upsetting periods in the life of our nation. Remember that the Central Intelligence Agency was not very old when Al-Qaeda flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and literally shocked the American public to its core. In intelligence and political circles especially, the question arose: is there a plan to protect us against a second attack?

None of the law enforcement and counter-intelligence operations in our government could answer that question with any assurance and the political organizations of the nation were peopled with a lot of very nervous individuals.

Written in the third person, by a former executive in the CIA and at the White House, and also at one time an executive at the FBI, the author has a deep experience with the changing mores and culture of the intelligence world pre- and post-9/11 world. He draws on his knowledge of the important players at all levels from the Oval Office to some of the regular workers at Langley, striving to make sense of ever-increasing flows of information.

The Central Intelligence Agency was never planned as a keeper of prisoners. It had no jails and it had no protocols to deal with high or low value prisoners who had been members of the CIA’s principal target, Al-Qaeda. Author Philip Mudd follows the torturous path of interrogation techniques through the Department of Justice, the politicians and the operators, agents and analysts of the agency, the creation of black site jails and much of the rising and falling tension and shifting attitudes throughout the nation.

From it’s very first incident to the final conclusion this is a riveting exploration of the secret and the prosaic world of intelligence gathering.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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November Road
Lou Berney
William Morrow, October 2018
ISBN 978-0-06-266384-9
Hardcover

A powerful, engaging crime novel of unusual breadth and perception: the story is a kind of road novel, involving a savvy canny New Orleans mob facilitator named Frank Guidry and an ordinary Oklahoma housewife and mother of extraordinary grit and talent.

Charlotte, mother of two small girls, is married to a husband who seems stuck in a bottle of booze and she’s frustrated with her work limitations and life in general.

It’s November 1963, and readers may remember what happened in Dealey Plaza in Dallas. The assassination of President Kennedy sends Guidry to Dallas to retrieve an unused get-away-car he assumes was parked there to be used by an assassin. Real life interfered with mob plans and Guidry is expected to clean up loose ends. He divines that he is a loose end to the New Orleans mob and takes a runner.

In Oklahoma, one more drunken episode with her husband and a putdown by the local newspaper editor is the final insult and Charlotte packs up her children and departs for the west coast.

Weather and fate bring these two adults together down the road and new adventures ensue as Charlotte and Frank meet and grow ever closer. The time period is the weeks immediately after the Kennedy assassination and Charlotte still plans to make it to Los Angeles with her daughters. Of course, other forces are at play, other characters have different plans. Carefully and thoughtfully with excellent attention to pace and environment, the author carries readers along and steadily draws us into his unique world.

This is an excellent crime novel in every aspect. NOVEMBER ROAD is not a bang-bang-shoot-up with ever increasing time-sensitive tension. The tension, and there is plenty, lies in the author’s attention to important detail and the smooth artistry of his narration as well as the thoughtful and understandable conclusions.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 2018.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Why I Love Cozy Mysteries by Julia Henry

Sometimes, just sometimes, cozies seem a little bit—no, a lot—sappy but I’m reminded by this why I really do like them 😉

I was always a voracious reader, and mysteries were part of the mix as I was growing up. When I was in high school my family moved to Annapolis, Maryland. The summer before school started was difficult, and my fifteen year old self was in a funk. One day my mother brought home a stack of books from the library, and put one down in front of me.

“I think you may like Agatha Christie,” she said.

I probably rolled my eyes, but I opened the book. The Caribbean Mystery. Not even one of her best, but it was good enough to hook me. The summer got a lot better as I discovered Dame Agatha. I was a Miss Marple fan that summer and for the next year. Then I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and had my Poirot period.

Now, Agatha Christie is more traditional and less…

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Book Recommendation: Schifflebein’s Folly

This sounds like just the sort of whimsical, hopeful book to make me smile, always a good thing 😉

Reade and Write

It’s been some time since I recommended a book to readers, so I figured it was time. I recently read Schifflebein’s Folly by Iris Chacon and absolutely loved it. It’s a feel-good, do-good, read-it-all-in-one-sitting-if-you-can-good, does-your-heart-good book.

It’s the story of Lloyd Schifflebein, a Floridian with a passion for children, work, and doing good. He is endearing almost to the point of being too good to be true, and you can’t help but love him. He’s spent his life getting ready for the day when he would adopt six children, and though he doesn’t have a life partner, he knows that the future Mrs. Schifflebein will show up when the time is right.

Those six kids? They all have special needs and it seems Lloyd is just the man to meet those special needs. He’s got good friends, a healthy respect for the adoption process and its timelines, and he’s handy…

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Book Review: The Howling Cliffs by Mary Deal

Even with all my background in books, I’ve never come across this author before and I think I need to check her out, thanks to Jay’s review 😉

This Is My Truth Now

The Howling Cliffs (Sara Mason Mysteries Book 2)The Howling Cliffs by Mary Deal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mary Deal has become one of those authors whose books always deliver strong story, memorable characters, and beautiful narrative that’s easy to read and highly engaging. The Howling Cliffs, the second book in her ‘Sara Mason Mysteries’ series is the sixth book I’ve read in the last two years from her growing list of works. Between the title and the cover, it’s no wonder I loved the book, but I’ve also been reading several books with tropical locations such as Hawaii in the last few weeks. I’ve apparently got a theme going…

Sara has had a hard life, but she is a survivor and will never back away from a challenge. Months after solving a major crime involving a serial killer in the last book, she heads back to Vietnam to search for MIA heroes for two close…

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Self-Publishing: Step-By-Step

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:

E-Mail: writerlaurencarr@gmail.net
Website: http://mysterylady.net/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991
Gnarly’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/LoversInCrimeMysteries?ref=ts&fref=ts
Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/AcornBookServices?ref=hl
Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie

Recently, a young author who I had worked with contacted me for some advice on getting his second book published. His first publisher had gone out of business and now he was trying to figure out how to release his second book.

Luckily for him, I had stopped him from contracting with an unscrupulous, very expensive, self-publisher (there are a lot of sharks out there, folks!), but now—here he was with no publisher and the second book in a series. So, he asked me, “What do I do?”

My suggestion: Self-publish it yourself. What you can’t do yourself, contract out.

“I can’t do that!” His writer’s eyes glazed over. “I can’t do it myself and I don’t have enough money to contract it out.” His face went white with fear.

Easy for me to say. I worked as an editor for the federal government for over ten years. I’ve been doing layout design since college (we won’t talk about how long ago that was.) I’ve spent the last several years as a publisher—until I decided to concentrate on my own books.

Now, at the urging of fellow writers, like the one previously mentioned, I am offering publishing services again. Check out my website at (https://mysterylady.net/acorn-book-services)

Really, the advantages of doing your own publishing far outweigh the expense and risks of contracting with a self-publishing company to do everything for you.

  • You have more control over quality—because you are the boss.
  • Less expensive. Even if you have to contract out each step in the process, you can easily publish a quality book with a professional looking cover for less than a thousand dollars. All you have to do is shop around, ask for references, and compare prices.

I know what you’re thinking—and probably saying. Seriously? Me! Publishing a whole book that can compete with books published by Random House? I don’t think so.

That’s because you are standing back looking at the process of publishing a book as a huge task. Take a deep breath. Sit down and think about it. Here, you’ve written a whole book. Beginning to end. That in itself is a huge task. Thus, you have already proven that you can tackle huge projects.

Now, we’re going to tackle the publishing side of getting this book out there. Remember when you were in school—whether it be high school or college? Most likely, you’ve had to write a research paper at some point in your life.

What goes into putting together a finished research paper?

  • Cover
  • Opening Pages (title pages. If you were like me, you had a template that you copied from. It’s the same with books!)
  • Table of Contents (if your book is non-fiction, you need this. Optional for fiction)
  • Body of the Paper. (You already got that!)
  • Author Bio. (Piece of cake! You know who you are!)
  • Index (Optional. See Table of Contents)

Now, what were the steps you went through in putting this research paper together?

  • Determining the subject matter. (Done that!)
  • Research (Done!)
  • Writing the Paper. (Completed!)
  • Reviewed in draft form by professor or friends. (In book publishing, this is called a beta read or editorial review. You may or may not have completed this step.)
  • Rewrite based on comments from review.
  • (I believe you are your own worst editor. Best to have this done by someone else—preferably a professional.)
  • (This is the step where you painstakingly lay out your paper in the proper format to present to the professor. At this point you attach the cover to your paper)
  • Proofread for mistakes.
  • Correct mistakes discovered during proofreading process.
  • Present to your professor. (In book publishing, this is the point where you release your book to the world.

But wait! I can hear you scream. This is a whole book. That involves copyrights and ISBNs and other stuff!

These legal registration steps are all small things that you can tackle yourself for little or no expense, depending on where you publish your book. Most do-it-yourself publishers will supply you with an ISBN for free.

I recommend setting up your own account at Bowkers, which is free. Set up a name for your book line. If you are writing a series, then use a name that will make your readers immediately connect that name with your books. For example, C.S. McDonald, a cozy author, uses the name McWriter Books, a variation of her name. Her books are listed on Amazon with the publisher’s name listed as McWriter Books. Yet, the only books published by McWriter Books are Cindy McDonald’s Fiona Quinn mysteries.

So, what are the steps necessary to publish your own book? Same as the steps you took in school for your fifteen-page research paper. Only now you have many more pages!

  • Cover: All you have to do is search the Internet to learn the do’s and don’ts of good cover design. There are also a number of websites online where you can design your own cover in a step-by-step process. If you are going to contract this out, then be sure to allow enough time for the artist to get it done. (including Acorn Book Services) Graphic designers are artists and some have problems working on deadlines. I suggest you start looking as soon as you are certain that you are going to publish this book.
  • Editorial Review. Many refer to this as a Beta Read. Every professional author, one who is selling books and getting great reviews, has their book read after they have completed writing it and before it goes to the editor. As the writer, you are too close to the project to see mistakes like loose ends, plot holes, etc. Don’t ask your spouse or mother or BFF who has never read a book to beta read your book for you. Your beta reader needs to be someone who:
    1. Reads and knows books—in particular your genre
    2. Is not afraid to hurt your feelings
    3. Someone you will listen to
  • Rewrite based on Editorial Review. Now don’t feel like you have to do everything that your beta reader tells you to do. Remember, it is your book. But, I can say that 100% of the time, I do a rewrite based on an editorial review.
  • Send off to the editor.
  • Go over the edits after it comes back from the editor. Don’t just go through and accept (or reject!) everything your editor changes without looking at it. Also, don’t only go through the edits and not look at everything else. At this point, you have probably not seen your book for weeks. Take advantage of it being fresh again. As you go through the editor’s marks, read through the book one more time. It is a fact that editors are human. This means, they make mistakes. They miss things. I have worked with many editors and not one has been perfect. So before your book is formatted for publication, go through it yourself to look for errors that your editor missed.
  • Formatting. There are a ton of resources on the Internet to help you format your book both for print and ebook publishing. A simple Google search will turn up many websites that offer free downloadable templates for formatting your book in MS Word, as well as other formatting programs. Anyone, with some effort, can learn how to format their book for ebook publishing, unless it requires fixed layout (usually the case for books with a lot of pictures and graphs.) If you are computer savvy, you can certainly do this yourself. If not, then you may want to contract this out. Acorn Book Services will do the formatting starting at $400. (Well worth the cost if you tend to want to throw your laptop out the window when dealing with headers and footers.)
  • Proofread. This is not the same as editing! Some writers think they can save money by contracting with an editor to “proofread” their manuscript—before it has been formatted. We are talking about two different things. Proofreading is going through the book after it has been formatted to look for grammar and punctuation errors that may or may not have been missed by the editor. Checking page numbering. Etc. I recommend that you either pay an editor to do this for you or ask a friend to do it. Studies have proven that if you look at something enough times, then your brain will automatically correct it. It’s sort of like your Internet browser automatically loading up a website that you regularly visit without updating the site with recent changes. In this case, you need to clear the cache. The fact is, by the time you get your proof, most likely you can’t see the mistakes in it. You need someone with fresh eyes (a clear cache) to read it. Note: This is not the time to rewrite the book! You are simply looking for mistakes—that’s it.
  • Correct Mistakes.
  • Release Your Book
  • Celebrate! You are now an author!

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Cover Reveal!

Synopsis:

Chris Matheson’s Most Personal Cold Case Yet!

Things have finally settled down into a pleasant routine for the Matheson family. Chris’s daughters have adjusted to life on the Matheson family farm with their grandmother. Chris is enjoying taking care of his horses and activities with his book club, aka the Geezer Squad. He feels especially blessed to have a second chance with Helen Clarke.

All is going his way until he has a chance encounter in the city with his late wife—an encounter that ends with a dead international hitman and Chris on the run from a highly skilled team of assassins.

Teaming up with an ultra-secret government agent with a thorny deposition, Chris has to go off the grid to evade the unidentified forces out to kill him and anyone connected to his supposedly dead wife. Luckily, the members of the Geezer Squad are experts at “old school.” They can even teach a phantom a thing or two about old-fashioned investigating.

In his most personal cold case, Chris fights to uncover why the state department told him that his wife, the mother of his children, had been killed when she was alive. Where had she been for the last three years? And why would anyone send a death squad halfway across the globe to hunt down a low-level state department employee? Not only that but what is to become of his relationship with Helen now that he’s married?

Pre-order available: January 28

https://amzn.to/2Rkbill

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To enter the drawing for an advance
reading ebook copy
of Winter Frost,
just leave a
comment below naming
one New Year’s resolution. The

winning name will be drawn on
Wednesday evening, January 2nd.