Well, September was most definitely a month of mixed blessings. Very mixed. On the good side Hiram and I attended the magnificent Novelists, Inc. conference at the lovely Tradewinds Resort in St Pete Beach, Florida. (I hope it continues to be held there forever – the resort is beautiful, the city and its people are great and Florida is a wonderful state.) The conference is always wonderful, but this year it surpassed itself. So did the hotel. We were given a beachfront balcony suite quite close to the parking lot. Great!
I reported on two of the sessions for our magazine NINK, saw a large number of old friends and made a surprising number of new ones. Plus, both Hiram (who acts as my business manager/assistant) and I learned a lot, some of it enough to make some changes to my business plan. More about that in the coming months.
Plus, my Halloween mystery novella OL’ PUNKINHEAD has been chosen to be a part of Kate Hill Halloween celebration! The page went live October 1 (my link is just below) and I will be the featured book on Oct. 26! I dare you to read the story and not fall in love with scrappy, courageous, sometimes-not-too-wise Nessie. Though she is only 10, don’t think this is a children’s book.
Transplanted to the East Texas Piney woods, nine-year-old Nessie (humiliatingly nicknamed after that big dumb lizard in Scotland) fears that nothing interesting will happen in this nothing-burger town. Then her older sister simply vanishes, as Nessie finds so many other teenaged girls have over the years, their disappearances commonly attributed to the local specter Ol’ Punkinhead. Nessie thinks this ridiculous, at least until she sees Ol’ Punkinhead… and he sees her.
This month I have two really great releases –
Wednesday, October 11 BEADED TO DEATH comes out. It’s a fun romp with a traveling bead artist, a handsome but unpleasant FBI agent, a 7’3” runaway nephew and a drug smuggling ring among other things. I sometimes do beadwork as a hobby, but nothing like this has ever happened to me in real life… thank Heaven!
Bead artist Lilias Ruiz’s life is falling apart. Returning home from an ordinary tour of craft fairs, she opens her locked and alarmed house to find the dead body of a man she has never seen before lying on her living room floor. Things then go from bad to worse; thanks to a lack of diligence from the police her home is ransacked and destroyed, she receives threats and demands for something which she had no idea what is, and finally is regarded as a high-level drug dealer by the FBI.
She is not alone, though – her best friend is a cutthroat attorney. She is joined on the craft show circuit by her college-aged nephew on the run from an unwanted basketball scholarship. The local police detective whom she nicknamed after a dog she once owned pretty much believes her and a local retired contractor undertakes the repair of her vandalized house. On the other side, though, a distressingly handsome FBI agent believes she is guilty and goes to great lengths to prove it. Almost overwhelmed in the face of such odds, Lilias perseveres while doggedly maintaining her innocence, though it comes perilously close to ending her life.
And as it is getting shockingly close to Christmas, on October 25 I’m releasing MISTLETOE MAGIC, a Regency novella about the magic of a Christmas romance.
Impoverished and shunned by Society after her gambling-mad father’s suicide, Lady Serena Belmond has no choice but to become the paid companion of Mrs. Ashbeer, a coarse and vulgar social climbing Cit who delights in having the daughter of an Earl at her beck and call. The job is not easy, but Lady Serena’s main fear is that Mrs. Ashbeer’s son, an even more coarse and vulgar but very wealthy man, is determined to make her his mistress.
Lady Serena and Mrs. Ashbeer journey north to spend Christmas at their country house, where Lady Serena looks forward to a quiet time free from encroachment from Mr. Ashbeer. Unfortunately, both her desires are doomed when two people from her past – her former fiancé and his sister – are stranded there by a vicious snowstorm and Mr. Ashbeer appears, more intent than ever to defile Lady Serena.
Lady Serena must come to terms with her past and accept the future which awaits her…
As I said, September was a month of mixed blessings. On the bad side, this has been a month of loss – I attended the funeral for a friend of 50 years the first of the month, and just learned a friend for over 20 years’ passing last week. Both are heart-rending losses, but not unexpected. When you get older it’s not unusual to lose friends… it’s still a grief, but understandable.
What twisted our hearts most was that just days before we left for NINC we lost our beloved little Mindy dog. She had been ill and we had considered not even going to NINC because her health was so precarious and we did not want to leave her alone in even a trusted boarding kennel, but with the love she had always shown to us she took care of that and passed away in her sleep. A small, somewhat funny looking little dog of around 10 pounds, we always said she was half terrier mix, half diva and half piranha. Believe me, in her the math worked out! She gave us 15 years of unconditional love, laughs and joy, and we will always miss her terribly.
And while it is much less heart-rending than the losses, both of us got sick at the end of NINC – stuffed head, drippy, snotty, sneezing, coughing, gurgling, just plain nasty colds. I was just getting over mine when Hiram got it on the way home. As I write this now we are snuggled in to a nice little hotel in Gulfport MS until he feels like traveling again. One good thing – as he sleeps and heals I am getting a lot of work done! Especially since I have to finish a Regency romance novella for this year’s Dreamstone Christmas anthology and of course while driving I got a wonderful idea for a Flora Melkiot mystery set on a remote Southern plantation concerning lost treasure, mobsters and a monster lurking in the nearby swamp…
I hope all of you had a good September, and I’ll be talking to you again next month! Happy Halloween!