My Favorite Indulgence (Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge)

The weather has turned unseasonably cold here in CLT, and having just snuggled Sugarpie down for a nap in her coziest sleepsack, I’m turning to this week’s Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge for inspiration.

WednesdayBloggingChallenge-copy

Since the inspiration for the fiction writing is a whole lotta:

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This week, the challenge from Long and Short Reviews is to discuss:

Our Favorite Indulgences

This is actually a tough one. Do we mean food and drink? The thing we do that is most regenerative?

One of the fun things about writing the Sweet Somethings series was tying in each heroine’s favorite indulgence (the “sweet something” – see what I did there?).

In BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE, Carmella was, well, a chocoholic. All chocolate, all the time, with a particular fondness for Snickers bars. She used chocolate to cope with everything from a long day at work to the stresses of navigating her confusing feelings for longtime guy pal Ryan, while also surviving maid of honor duties at best gal pal Sadie’s elopement.

Chocolate candy

Kate from WHEN IN ROME fell hard for leading man Dominic but also a good scoop of ice cream. That is, until Dominic introduced her to the wonder that is gelato during their high-profile fashion shoot gig in the Eternal City.

ice cream

Marissa had plans to eat an entire cheesecake, all by herself, until the circumstances surrounding a thunderstorm forced her to share it with playboy-turned-good-guy Josh in THE ONE I’M WITH.

Cheesecake

The only heroine from the Sweet Somethings series that doesn’t technically have a favorite sweet indulgence is Tess, although her Top Secret red velvet cake recipe does feature prominantly. But she’s the one making a living from sweets, and it’s the love of culinary arts that brings Ty back into her life in HE TAKES THE CAKE.

red velvet

To be honest, all of the indulgences I featured in the Sweet Somethings series are favorites of mine.

Now, if we’re talking about indulgences in terms of things we do to recharge or spoil ourselves, then my go-to would be a massage. Like, from an actual masseuse, not just my husband (though those are nice, too).

massage

What about you? What’s your favorite indulgence?

Clawing Back to the Surface & Breathing Again

I’ve realized a few things over the past several months.

First, it is okay for me to go by my baby’s cues when it comes to sleeping. And nursing. Both separately and simultaneously. All the angst I caused myself over sleep training with Babycakes just isn’t going to be a thing with Sugarpie. She will eventually sleep all night. She will eventually learn to fall asleep on her own at bedtime. She will eventually wean (though I will have to do a lot more prodding than I did with Babycakes).

Second and related, I need to do better about my middle of the night reactions to her being unsettled for hours on end. Not necessarily awake. Just not settled.

Third, I need to take better care of my health. I am actually quite healthy, based on the results of my last physical. But I need to work on nutrition and staying in better shape. I promised myself that once Sugarpie was on a predictable schedule, I would weave in workouts and be more mindful of caloric intake. Then 2020 and the stress-eating and the Quarantine Fifteen hit. I recently started up with PiYo again, and am looking at ways to improve my diet throughout the week. Baby steps.

Fourth, I need to carve out time to write. My own stuff. Not other people’s stuff. Being able to freelance has been wonderful in many ways. But I realized in January that I hadn’t written a lick of fiction in over a year. But let’s be real. The past year has been hard in many ways, and I needed to focus more on my family, particularly my children, than anything else.

But it seems like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Babycakes has been fortunate to be back to school, face to face, since August. 100%, with no problems. Sugarpie takes a pretty solid nap and finally has a predictable bedtime, for all that she still wakes up once or twice a night. We are being cautious in our outings, but we are slowly seeing a return to a semblance of normalcy.

And I have so many ideas for stories.

I know that my family has been lucky. We’ve had our own little challenges, but the catalog of difficulties and hardships the past year has brought to our country would take ages to enumerate. We don’t know exactly what will come next and we certainly can’t control any of it, but we can choose how we comport ourselves. How we respond to others.

We can choose to listen. To be kind. To show compassion. To be tough if necessary, but to be so with love.

Maintain connections. Strive toward goals. Plant flowers.

Live as if you are always moving toward the light at the end of the tunnel, even on days when you seem stuck.

Theft Between the Rains – Guest Post

Today I’m excited to host author Luba Lesychyn, who’ll be giving some advice for aspiring authors of crime fiction as part of her blog tour for her new book THEFT BETWEEN THE RAINS. Be sure to read on to learn about this exciting mystery novel, as well as a chance to enter Ms. Lesychyn’s giveaway!

Tips for Authors who Aspire to Write Crime Fiction

When I set out to write my first book, Theft By Chocolate, I honestly wasn’t sure in what genre it would fall. I knew I wanted to set it in the place where I worked, which was an internationally renowned museum (specifically, Canada’s largest, the Royal Ontario Museum) and that my capricious lead character’s distinguishing trait would be that she was a chocolate addict and her hunting and foraging for chocolate would continually get her into trouble. So, these elements didn’t initially spell out ‘crime fiction.’

As it turns out, it wasn’t until my third draft that I had a serendipitous encounter with a security consultant who had some astonishing insider information about a cold case heist that had taken place at the ROM. A thief had absconded with a pricey opal collection after figuring out how to circumvent the Museum’s protective barriers commonly used at that time and the incident led to an upgrading of security technology around the world. I incorporated these real-life and little-known circumstances into the book resulting in a richer, chocolate-infused fictional thriller, in what I call a cozy thriller/crime fiction.

Then when it came to write my second book, Theft Between the Rains, I was once again inspired initially by settings, in this case, underground waterways and unusual or little-known sites in the city of Toronto. I didn’t come up with the plot line (what my lead character, museum employee and reluctant sleuth Kalena Boyko would do if art work listed as still missing since World War II started showing up on her doorstep) until afterwards.

So, my first tip for an aspiring crime writer is to accept that a writer doesn’t have to have it all figured out from the moment one starts to transmit idea to page. As noted above, I was inspired by settings and characters and plot threads came later. But one could very well start with a really solid plot and build the rest of the world around it. A first draft is much like an artist’s sketch and it doesn’t come to life until you start to add the various layers of paint.

My next tip is along the same vein. One has to be prepared for the fact that there may be several iterations of the work. Even if you plot out your story chapter by chapter before you start writing the book, which I did for my first novel, it’s a wise idea to leave some time and space after each draft and then go back to it with fresh eyes. Writers get so close to their work and taking the time to step away from it will most probably result in a more tightly-crafted story after a few rewrites.

I would also suggest something as basic as taking writing courses. I initially started writing my novel completely on my own and then I had a chance to get some feedback from an editor at Random House who was a friend of a friend. Upon reading it, he ever so gently, kindly, and diplomatically suggested I take some writing courses (he made a specific recommendation of a local college creative writing program) and it was the best advice I ever received.

Building on that, I very highly recommend working with a mentor, whether it’s someone you know who might be an established writer or, in my case, it was a formal mentor in my creative writing program. She was the author of several mystery books herself and was highly committed to her students. Her mentorship extended beyond the program and she did what she could to help me find a publisher for my first book, and when it was published, she helped me get some exposure for the book. And when I decided to self-publish the second book, she wrote a peer letter of recommendation for a grant to which I was applying (and which I succeeded in getting).

Aspiring writers should also read, read, read, and read more books in their genre (and I wouldn’t hesitate to add to watch films as well) to determine what works and what doesn’t – what resonates with you and what doesn’t. Building suspense is not necessarily as important in other genres and one really needs to get a feel for the rhythm of tension. How one builds excitement within a paragraph, within a chapter, and in the book as a whole is key. If your reader is not anxious to turn to the next page, chances are you’ll lose them quickly.

In that same thread, one wants to make sure the first few chapters have a strong hook. Don’t take too long to begin the conflict. Most readers have a stack of books waiting to be opened and if your story doesn’t grab them in those initial pages, they may very well put it down and move onto the next book in the pile – and I speak from experience of my own reading habits. There will be some readers satisfied with a slower burn, for sure. But especially if you’re looking at attracting younger readers, they’re growing up in a world where everything moves fast and comes in smaller bites. It’s not that one has to keep up a frantic pace. As a matter of fact, one shouldn’t. Changing the rhythm gives a reader a chance to rest and then be surprised or excited when things start to speed up again.

And finally, don’t be afraid to take risks and follow your instincts. Just because many books in a genre are formulaic doesn’t mean you can’t be a maverick. Some of the most memorable books I’ve ever read are those that kept me on my toes, not just from the suspense, but by the fact that they have had a surprising structure to them or that they blended genres or that they approached the subject matter from a perspective that I would never have expected.

Theft Between the Rains

by Luba Lesychyn

GENRE: International Art Theft Mystery

Blurb

What would you do if you worked at a reputable international museum and art works listed as still missing since WWII began showing up on your doorstep?

 

That’s the substance of the newest urban art theft thriller Theft Between the Rains by Luba Lesychyn.

 

Drawing on her more than 20 years at Canada’s largest museum, Luba reintroduces many of the affable and quirky characters from the prequel, Theft By Chocolate. Also resurrected is the malicious art thief who has been on the world’s most wanted criminal list for decades.

 

Theft Between the Rains takes readers behind the scenes at museums and to parts unknown of Toronto. And with water being a character unto its own, Luba uses both humor and thriller elements to weave a page-turning story while simultaneously illustrating how changing weather patterns and flash flooding are impacting metropolitan centers globally.

Read an Excerpt

“We are coming to yet another fascinating area of the facility. And it is one of the more recent additions to the building,” said Walter.

“Holeeeeeeeee,” said Marco. “This is straight out of some Sci Fi B movie.”

“It is something,” said Walter.

Before us were shelves full of jars – large jars, small jars, roundish jars, square jars – all containing clear liquid and specimens of every conceivable sort. I turned on my phone’s flashlight app, and the illuminated sight before me was truly haunting. Hundreds, probably thousands of fish, sea life, and land creatures floated lifelessly in their ghostly containers. Those whose bodies were turned in our direction seemed to be staring directly at us with beady eyes.

“All of these specimens are suspended in alcohol. If ever there was anything you wanted to learn about aquatic creatures, this is certainly the place to do so. Everything is organized by genus and species. They are whole specimens, and they have been stained to feature various elements. As you can see, the fish turn translucent when preserved, but with the dyes, one can make out the nervous or circulatory systems, for example.”

“Cool,” said Marco.

“I seem to recall we had no choice but to move all this off site?” I said.

“Yes, indeed. Because of their extraordinary weight, they cannot be stored on upper levels without adding costly structural supports. At the same time, if they’re stored below grade, there’s a heightened risk of explosion.”

Luba Lesychyn will be awarding a print copy of Theft Between the Rains to a randomly drawn winner (US or Canada ONLY) via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Meet Luba Lesychyn

Luba Lesychyn is a popular Toronto-based mystery writer, a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, and a respected author in the library readings and events circuit.

In her two books, she draws from her more than 20 years of work experiences at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada’s largest museum), and her time working for a private museum consulting firm to write humorous, international art theft thrillers featuring amateur sleuth Kalena Boyko. Her newest book, Theft Between the Rains, is a sequel to Theft By Chocolate (about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places) published in 2012 by Attica Books and launched in Canada and the UK.

Luba currently spends her time writing and virtually touring Theft Between the Rains in which lead character Kalena Boyko returns to find herself pulled into international art theft intrigue when masterpieces missing since WWII start appearing on her doorstep.

Website: https://lubalesychyn.com/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Luba-Lesychyn/e/B00G9EPC8G
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Luba-Lesychyn-Author-180423355396109
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6094572.Luba_Lesychyn
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lesychyn/
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/search?query=luba+lesychyn
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/lubalesychyn/_created/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LubaLesychyn

 

Murder with Strings Attached (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

Murder with Strings Attached

by Mark Reutlinger

Genre: Suspense/Mystery (crime caper/humorous fiction)

Blurb

Sometimes even the most carefully conceived burglary can take an unexpected turn. Florence Palmer has her eye on concert violinist Aaron Levy’s priceless violin. Unfortunately, she finds it’s already been stolen. Her surprise doubles when the virtuoso she’d planned to burgle offers to hire her to help him steal it back. But they’re not the only ones looking for the missing violin. When Flo inadvertently becomes the prime suspect in a case of murder, she and Aaron need to clear her name. Will they find the real killer and get the violin back to its rightful owner without anyone else, especially themselves, being killed?

Read an Excerpt

I saw nothing interesting in plain sight, so I checked the bedroom closet and then lay flat on the carpet and peeked under the bed.

Still no violin.

I was beginning to think that Aaron Levy had deliberately thwarted me by taking his violin with him or putting it in the safe—an ungentlemanly thing for him to do, given all the time and effort I was putting into finding it. I returned to the front room and was about to check the last remaining door—probably a connection to the neighboring suite—when I almost tripped over something sticking out from under the sofa. I reached down to shove it back out of the way.

The violin.

How could someone treat an instrument so valuable in such a cavalier manner, I wondered. More and more it seemed as if Mr. Aaron Levy was entirely too careless and had to be relieved of this heavy responsibility before someone…well…stole the damn thing!

And I was just the woman to do it. I opened the case and lifted up my trophy, held my flashlight close to it, and with great satisfaction, began to examine it lovingly.

And that’s when the lights came on.

Mark Reutlinger will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the Rafflecopter Contest.

Meet Mark Reutlinger

MARK REUTLINGER is an attorney and former law professor. He now writes novels in which the law is frequently broken, including his “Mrs. Kaplan” cozy mystery series (MRS. KAPLAN AND THE MATZOH BALL OF DEATH and A PAIN IN THE TUCHIS) and the political thrillers MADE IN CHINA and SISTER-IN-LAW: VIOLATION, SEDUCTION, AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (under the pen name M. R. Morgan). MURDER WITH STRINGS ATTACHED is his latest novel. He is also a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.

Mark and his wife Analee live in University Place, Washington, where in addition to reading and writing he plays clarinet with the Tacoma Concert Band and enjoys tennis, biking, exotic cars, model railroading, and various arts and crafts. He has no idea where he finds the time for it all.

Visit Mark at MarkReutlinger.com and MRMorganAuthor.com.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/markreutlinger

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1192934.Mark_Reutlinger

Find MURDER WITH STRINGS ATTACHED at:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murder-with-strings-attached-mark-reutlinger/1138134761

Without a Head (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

WITHOUT A HEAD

by M. Glenda Rosen

Genre: Mystery

Blurb

Jenna Preston is used to investigating cheating spouses, fraud, and even a murder or two in her role as a private investigator. But she’s never consulted on a case quite like the one at Darcy’s Salon in East Hampton. A killer has struck and left behind a woman’s head in the upscale salon’s shampoo sink. 

As Jenna struggles to make sense of the what’s happened, she comes up against entitled and badly behaved beach dwellers, greedy parties with motives all their own, and the billion dollar beauty industry. With her loyal dog Watson at her side, Jenna pieces together clues and tracks down a killer who claims victims that are dying to be beautiful.

 

Read an Exerpt

As a Private Investigator, Jenna Preston had been hired to help solve murders, insurance fraud, cheating spouses and more. This was a new one for her.

She received what could only be described as a hysterical call from Darcy Monroe, owner of a popular, upscale hair salon in The Hamptons.

A head without its body was rolling around in one of her shampoo basins.

Almost five-feet, five-inches tall, always looking taller in her two or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, blue eyes and was often seen driving around the East End in a white jeep, and in recent years, with her Irish Setter sitting next to her. 

As a well-respected private investigator in the area, she told the salon owner, “I’ll be right there, and don’t touch anything until the police arrive.”

Jenna knew they needed to secure the business as a crime scene and Coroner Doc Bishop and Head of Forensics Lara Stern had to be brought in as well.     

“Troy, someone left a head, without the body, in a shampoo bowl at Darcy’s Salon. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”

”Damn it, Jenna, I nearly spilled my coffee listening to this bizarre message.  I’ll be there within the half hour. Meantime, I’ll ask Lara to get over there to check the crime scene for prints and other possible evidence and for Doc to arrange to bring the head to the morgue. We’ll want to look at it there, after he’s had a chance to determine how it was cut off and anything else he might find.”

Author M. Glenda Rosen will be giving away a $30 Amazon/B&N Gift Card to one randomly drawn winner during the tour. Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Meet M. Glenda Rosen

Marcia Rosen (aka M. Glenda Rosen) is author of ten books including The Senior Sleuths and Dying To Be Beautiful Mystery Series and The Gourmet Gangster, Mysteries and Menus (with her son Jory Rosen). She is also author of The Woman’s Business Therapist and award-winning My Memoir Workbook.  Marcia was owner of a successful national marketing and public relations agency, received numerous awards for her work on behalf of business and professional women and has given many presentations, now as Zoom Events, such as: Encouraging the Writer Within You, Writing A Mystery…Not A Mystery, Book Marketing with Zoom and Podcasts, Writing From Your Soul, Memoir Writing and The Senior Sleuths & Dying To Be Beautiful Mysteries. Member of Sisters In Crime, Southwest Writers, Central Coast Writers and Public Safety Writers Association. Board Member, 2021, National Association of Independent Writers and Editors.

Sample of Scheduled Zoom Programs: The National Steinbeck Center (6 week program on About Being an Author), Shelter Island Library, an hour marketing presentation. Public Safety Writer’s Association Encouraging the Writer Within You, Central Coast Writers “About Being an Author,” Podcast Marketing for Southwest Writers, Murder on The Beach bookstore, Memoir Writing Sessions, Shelter Island and Westhampton Beach Library, “Writing Mysteries…Not A Mystery,” and other venues and topics for 2021.

http://www.theseniorsleuths.com

http://www.creativebookconcepts.com

https://www.facebook.com/MarciaGRosen

https://www.instagram.com/mglendarosen/

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08Q4FWFKF/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0