I'm really excited to be a stop on the book tour for
Thirteen Cozy Holiday Mysteries by
Nancy Jill Thames
Linda Gordon Hengerer
Joyce and Jim Lavene
A huge collection of heartwarming, brain-puzzling, and character-driven traditional mysteries that'll keep you entertained for hours. (At 213,000 words, this is 627 pages of reading material!) Plus, you can email to get a FREE Bonus File with recipes and holiday craft ideas. Celebrate the holidays with stories by these thirteen bestselling and award-winning authors: Joanna Campbell Slan, Neil Plakcy, Lois Winston, Annie Adams, Jenna Bennett, Nancy Jill Thames, Sara Rosett, Camille Minichino, Nancy Warren, Linda Gordon Hengerer, Joyce and Jim Lavene, and Teresa Trent.
Where Do I Get My Ideas?
By Joanna Campbell Slan
Readers often ask, and the answer is, “Everywhere.” For “Lost and Found Holiday Gifts,” one of my stories in Happy Homicides: Thirteen Cozy Holiday Mysteries, I took an idea from an online discussion among a group of miniaturists. Someone had read an Ann Landers column about a mother who dumped the dollhouse that her own mother had made for her daughter (the granddaughter). The mother didn’t think the grandmother’s efforts were worthy. She only wanted “the best” of everything in her home, and her mother’s crude crafting efforts didn’t cut it. The miniaturists were appalled. All of us crafters know the time and effort it takes to create a handmade heirloom. Perfection is not part of the project, but love more than compensates.
So I couldn’t get that conversation out of my head. I mentally rehearsed conversations between the mother and grandmother. I “saw” the confusion of the granddaughter as her mother tossed out the dollhouse. I envisioned how the dollhouse might wind up on a curb. That brought me back to a time when I’d seen a playhouse by a curb. Not a dollhouse, but a piece much bigger. I remembered thinking, “What a waste! Some kid somewhere could really enjoy that!” By the time I turned my car around, the playhouse had disappeared. Evidently I wasn’t the only person who recognized a gem tossed out in the trash.
Next I mentioned the idea to my friend, an artist who works in 1:12 scale, Alice Zinn. I told her how I imagined the story going, but Alice had yet another idea how the situation might have played out. Her take on the tale intrigued me. I didn’t totally agree with her, but that was because I already had my cast of characters, the players who populate the world of Cara Mia Delgatto, my protagonist who owns The Treasure Chest, a store in Stuart, Florida, specializing in upcycled, recycled and repurposed goods. But Alice’s suggestion for a conclusion had merit. Certainly, it offered a happy ending.
Then I wrote the novella.
Thus, “Lost and Found Holiday Gifts” was born. Now some might argue that it’s not a real mystery. Ah, but it is. No one is murdered; however, a federal crime is committed (tampering with mail), an inheritance is stolen, and a crime of the heart happens when a child is denied a gift of love. I hope you’ll buy your copy of Happy Homicides: Thirteen Cozy Holiday Mysteries (only 99 cents) and see for yourself what I did!
“Lost and Found Holiday Gifts”
by Joanna Campbell Slan.
(Just one of the thirteen cozy mysteries included in
Three weeks before Christmas and my store was a total zoo. We had wall-to-wall customers, a line at the cash register, and two people holding on the phone. Adding to the general mayhem were my four-legged friends, Luna the cat, and Jack the dog. Once in a while, the chatter of happy shoppers was interrupted by a loud, curiously accented, “Ho, ho, ho!” when the spirit moved Kookie, the cockatoo.
Keeping up with the demands of our customers was almost more than my small staff could manage. I felt like the proverbial “one-armed paperhanger,” as I raced from one guest to another to answer questions.
But I’m not complaining! I’m thrilled that The Treasure Chest, Florida’s home for upcycled, recycled, and repurposed décor items is doing so well. Thrilled and grateful! I was just thanking a woman who’d just made a $523 purchase for her business, when my phone vibrated in my pocket. Nodding to MJ Austin, my only full-time employee, I excused myself and ducked into the back room.
“I know you have to be crazy busy, but I need your help,” began Jay Boehner, the man I’d been dating for several months. “Call me back when you get a chance.”
I assured him I would and put the matter out of my mind until eight that evening when I finally flipped the sign in the front door to CLOSED.
“Gee whiz.” My friend, renter, and part-time employee, Skye Blue, sank down into a chair she’d recently refinished. Slowly, she wiggled her feet out of her cowboy boots. “When the delivery truck goes out tomorrow, this place is going to look empty.”
“You can say that again.” MJ pulled up a stool and sat down, too. Kicking off her kitten heels, she began rubbing her feet. “We sold two armoires, every dresser, a table, that chair Skye is sitting in, and the shelf unit. Please tell me you have something up your sleeve, Cara, or we’ll be closing early for the holidays because there’s going to be nothing left to sell.”
I sank down on an ottoman made from a steamer trunk with casters attached on the bottom so it could roll. We’d added a cushion on top to make it a comfortable seat. “Want me to lie to you, MJ?”
She groaned. “Maybe. Yes. Do it. Lie to me. Tell me we’ve got furniture to sell.”
“We have furniture to sell.”
Skye let her forehead drop into her hands. Her loose dishwater blond curls tumbled over her fingers. “Why am I not convinced? Why am I visualizing an empty sales floor? A long vacay?”
“Don’t. You aren’t going on vacation. The floor won’t be empty. Believe it or not, I planned for this. Put on your shoes, girls.”
They stared at me while they kept rubbing their feet.
“On second thought, follow me. You can come barefoot. We aren’t going far.” With that, I stood and reached into the pocket of my skirt for a set of keys. After unlocking our front door and re-locking it behind us, I led my friends to the newly vacant store next door and unlocked that front door. With a swipe of my hand, I turned on the lights. The overhead florescent bulbs hummed as they came to life, illuminating a room piled high with used furniture.
“You have to be kidding me,” muttered MJ.
“Cara, how on earth did you manage this?” asked Skye.
We stood staring at the sort of goods that were the raw materials for the unique one-of-a-kind décor items we’re known for.
“I made a deal with a few estate agents. Told them what we wanted and needed and asked them to snag things as they spotted them.”
Skye’s big blue eyes widened. “Can you afford this?”
“I drove a hard bargain. The deal included me making them all huge pans of lasagna.” I tried not to grin, but I couldn’t help it. I had worked out a pretty good trade, all things considered. My family had once run a restaurant, so I’d used the skills I’d learned there to my advantage.
“I have to admit that most people would sell their souls for your lasagna. Pretty smart of you to sweeten the deal with homemade pasta,” said MJ.
Skye walked around the new, but used, merchandise. “They did you proud, Cara. Nice stuff. We can turn this for a pretty penny. After we get through with it.”
Sure, there was a lot of work yet to be done. The transformation process was more than waving a magic wand over the pieces, but we’d gotten pretty fast at turning around used furniture. Last year we were in “learning” mode, figuring out who our customers were and what they might like. This year we had built on what we learned. Our customers loved hearing how we turned trash into treasure, so a large portion of our work was involved with storytelling, explaining our process.
“Don’t forget, my grandfather is now capable of pitching in. We’ve taught him enough about what we want that he can start stripping, applying base coats, and doing the rudimentary painting for us. We also have two young women willing to pitch in at a moment’s notice. Tessa Weber will be glad to help because it’s Christmas break. She’ll be coming home with my son, Tommy, in two days, when he drives up from University of Miami. Jamie Hernandez will give us as much time as she can spare at the end of each school day until high school lets out for Christmas break.”
“She’s really good at putting together our sea trash jewelry pieces. If we can get your grandfather working on the base coats, I can take things from there while Jamie makes more sea trash pieces,” said Skye, as she ran an appreciative finger over one of the dressers. We’d created our own signature style by stenciling flourishes on solid backgrounds. Sure, people could imitate what we did, but most were happy to pay our reasonable prices and let us do the hard work.
The sea trash pieces are another example of our ingenuity. MJ, Skye, and I regularly walk the local beaches and pick up the trash that washes ashore. Since mankind dumps eight million tons of plastic into the ocean each year, there are literally tons of junk to be found on our shores. Not only does this garbage threaten ocean dwellers, it also threatens all humanity. After the tiny sea creatures munch on plastic, they are eaten by bigger creatures that are gobbled up by even bigger creatures, until finally the bits of plastic find their way into our food chain. We try to break that horrific sequence of events by taking what’s washed up, cleaning it, sorting it, combining it, and selling it as jewelry and collage art. The effort costs little, yields a high profit, and positions us exactly as who we are: People who care about the environment.
“Is this all there is?” MJ walked around a few of the pieces on the outer edge. “Furniture-wise? I don’t mean to be complaining. Just asking.”
“No. More’s coming. And there’s this.” I beckoned them to follow me around the margins of the room to a second door. Inside was a small room with a dozen cardboard boxes sealed shut.
“What’s inside?” MJ studied the boxes.
I smiled at the cardboard cubes and then at my friends. “I honestly don’t know.”
~ To be Continued~
You can read Tear Down and Die, the first book in the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series, absolutely free. Go to
Wonderful stories by a superb group of authors, you cannot go wrong with HAPPY HOMICIDES. It’s a must have collection for every mystery reader.
With the variety of impressive authors participating in this anthology, I knew this was going to be a spectacular book, and it was! There are stories by many favorite authors of mine. Authors that when I see their names, I know I am in for a reading treat. And then there were so new to me authors who now have a new fan in me!
The short story format of each individual offering did nothing to lessen the mystery, fun, or integrity of each story. Each author did incredible work with the word count I’m sure they had to be considerate of. In fact, they were so well done, it felt like reading thirteen full length novels in one sitting. HAPPY HOMICIDES is just proof of the talent each author in this ensemble.
It’s my extreme hope that there will be a second volume from these great names!
Note: When you purchase this book, you are given a wonderful opportunity to download a free book!
Happy Homicides: Thirteen Cozy Holiday Mysteries is a joyous tribute to crime and Christmas, with a few other holidays tossed in for good measure. It’s the ultimate holiday bargain at only 99 cents for 627 pages! Plus, it comes with a special Bonus File of recipes and craft ideas. This e-book is available on a variety of platforms. To order a copy for yourself (or to give one as a REALLY nifty gift to a friend), go to
$50 Etsy Gift Card!
One lucky winner (For entire tour) will be chosen by random draw through Rafflecopter at the end of the tour on October 28.
Please use the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.
This giveaway is through Great Escape Book Tours, not Lisa Ks Book Reviews.
1 eBook copy of
One lucky winner will be chosen by random draw through Rafflecopter at the end of the tour on October 28.
Please use the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.
This giveaway is through Great Escape Book Tours, not Lisa Ks Book Reviews.
Happy Homicides: Thirteen Cozy Holiday Mysteries will be available for pre-order on Sept. 15 on most platforms for only 99 cents. Price includes a special bonus file with recipes and craft ideas. This collection of novellas and short stories is a whopping 213,000 words long! Authors include Joanna Campbell Slan, Neil Plakcy, Lois Winston, Annie Adams, Jenna Bennett, Nancy Warren, Sara Rosett, Camille Minichino, Nancy Jill Thames, Linda Gordon Hengerer, Joyce and Jim Lavene, and Teresa Trent. Release date will be Oct. 15, 2015. Visit http://tinyurl.com/13cozyholiday
Happy Homicides Information
Table of Contents
- Lost and Found Holiday Gifts: A Cara Mia Delgatto Novella by Joanna Campbell Slan -- Santa isn’t the only one who delivers presents during the holidays. Cara Mia Delgatto sets out to do a few small favors and quickly learns how a thoughtful gift can change a life.
- Dog Forbid by Neil Plakcy -- A Thanksgiving trip with friends takes reformed hacker Steve Levitan and his crime-solving golden retriever, Rochester, to Pennsylvania Dutch Country. When Steve’s friend’s golden goes missing in an area notorious for local puppy mills, can Rochester nose out the missing puppy and save the holiday?
- Elementary, My Dear Gertie by Lois Winston -- Much to the dismay of her conservative parents, Nori Stedworth and her boyfriend Mackenzie Randolph are living together. Mom and Dad cope as best they can when Nori and Mac arrive in Ten Commandments, Iowa for the holidays. Mac is all for exchanging “I do’s,” but before he can pop the question, an explosion hurls him and Nori into the midst of a murder investigation. Can they uncover which of the town’s not-so-pious residents is the killer in time to catch their flight back to New York City?
- Flowers, Food and Felonies at the New Year’s Jubilee Cook-Off by Annie Adams -- Busy florist Quincy McKay thought that judging the annual Jubilee food contest would be as easy as picking daisies. Will the event turn deadly when someone cooks up a scheme to slice and dice the competition?
- The Deadliest Christmas Pageant Ever by Teresa Trent -- It's Christmas time in Texas. Betsy Livingston and her boys are caught up in the Pecan Bayou Christmas Pageant to raise funds for needy children. Betsy gets tricked into replacing the absent director and quickly learns that show biz can be brutal—and this Christmas pageant is downright deadly.
- Contingent on Approval: A Savannah Martin Christmas Novella by Jenna Bennett -- On Christmas morning Savannah Martin finds herself looking at Rafe Collier, a pair of fuzzy handcuffs, an economy-sized box of condoms, and the rest of her life. But before her happily-ever-after can begin, she needs to get through a holiday dinner with her mother. Savannah has plenty to worry about, not the least of which is whether her new boyfriend will still want to stick around after the meal.
- Teddy Saves Christmas by Nancy Jill Thames-- When Jillian Bradley finds herself alone for the holidays, her dog Teddy latches onto a homeless woman with a dangerous secret. Jillian is forced to get involved. Can she find a way to save her new friend in time for a Merry Christmas?
- Menace at the Christmas Market by Sara Rosett -- With the holidays nearing, Kate has time off, a rare occurrence for a location scout. She plans to spend her time shopping for Christmas gifts, but when she goes to the local Regency-themed Christmas Market, a new acquaintance is poisoned and Kate gets drawn into the investigation.
- The Neon Ornaments by Camille Minichino -- Physicist Gloria Lamerino meets her friend Rose in Boston for what she thinks is a girls’ getaway weekend. But Rose has other plans. She volunteers Gloria to help solve a murder. Will the chemistry between Gloria and the homicide detective get in the way of catching a killer?
- A Diamond Choker for Christmas by Nancy Warren -- In order to borrow an extremely expensive diamond and sapphire necklace to wear at Christmas party, Toni Diamond's mother Linda offers her home as collateral. But the necklace is stolen right off her neck, and Toni has to solve the crime or her mother will be homeless for the holidays!
- Dying for Holiday Tea: A Beach Tea Shop Novella by Linda Gordon Hengerer -- Sisters Danielle, Chelsea, and Alexandra Powell rejoice when Alex finds their grandmother’s old recipe book--and plan to bake her gingerbread for their upcoming holiday tea. But someone else wants the recipes and is willing to kill for them. Can the Powell sisters cook up a way to catch a murderer?
- The Dog Who Came for Christmas by Joyce and Jim Lavene -- A woman running from her deadly past finds hope, a dog, and possibly a new love, at Christmas.
- The Rowan Tree Twig: A Kiki Lowenstein Novella by Joanna Campbell Slan -- The holidays offer the perfect chance for Kiki to keep a promise to her late friend, Dodie Goldfader. But this sweet thought hits a sour note when Dodie’s husband is wrongly accused of murder.
About the authors and their books—
National bestselling and award-winning author Joanna Campbell Slan is a native of Florida, who currently lives on Jupiter Island. RT Times has called her “one of mystery’s rising stars.” Kirkus Reviews says of her Kiki Lowenstein books “the characters are so well developed that each installment leaves the reader yearning for the next.” Her first novel (Paper, Scissors, Death) was shortlisted for the Agatha Award, and her historical mystery featuring classic heroine Jane Eyre (Death of a Schoolgirl) won the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. Joanna writes three mystery series, including the Cara Mia Delgatto books that are set on the Treasure Coast. Visit her at http://www.JoannaSlan.com
Neil Plakcy is a native of Bucks County, PA, where the Golden Retriever Mysteries are set. He is the author of more than two dozen novels and short story collections. Neil is the proud papa of two rambunctious goldens, Brody and Griffin. More information on his books can be found at his website, http://www.goldenretrievermysteries.com
Lois Winston is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author who writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. In addition, she is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for her books from her experiences in the craft industry. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com
Annie Adams is the author of The Flower Shop Mystery series. She lives with her husband, two giant dogs, and two, too giant cats in Northern Utah at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. When not writing, she can be found arranging flowers or delivering them in her own Zombie Delivery Van. She's a member of Romance Writers of America, the Utah chapter of RWA (URWA) and the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA (KOD) Please visit Annie at her website www.AnnieAdamstheAuthor.com
Teresa Trent writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series that takes place in a little town in Texas. The first of the series, A Dash of Murder, stars Betsy Livingston, a helpful hints writer, on a paranormal investigation with her beloved Aunt Maggie. The Pecan Bayou Series continues as Betsy solves mystery after mystery all the while providing helpful hints and recipes in the back of each book. Find out more about Teresa on her website http://TeresaTrent.com.
Jenna Bennett (Jennie Bentley) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and the Savannah Martin real estate mysteries for her own gratification. She also writes a variety of other books and genres for a change of pace. For more information, please visit her website, http://www.jennabennett.com
Nancy Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 70 romance and mystery novels including the Toni Diamond mystery series. She's originally from Vancouver, Canada, but currently calls Oxford, England, home. She loves to travel, hike, ski, and is currently attempting to learn how to drive on the 'other' side of the road in England. Fortunately, the British are a patient, polite people. Come visit her at http://www.nancywarren.net
Sara Rosett writes cozy mysteries (the Ellie Avery series and the Murder on Location series) and a suspense series with a dash of romance (the On the Run series). Sara loves all things bookish, considers dark chocolate a daily requirement, and is on a quest for the best bruschetta. Publishers Weekly called Sara's books "satisfying," "well-executed," and "sparkling." Connect with Sara at http://www.SaraRosett.com
Camille Minichino has written more than 20 mystery novels in four series: The Periodic Table Mysteries, The Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace), The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries (as Ada Madison), and The Postmistress Mysteries (as Jean Flowers), plus short stories and articles. Her latest releases include the novels Death Takes Priority (Berkley Prime Crime, November, 2015) and Manhattan in Miniature (Perseverance Press, April 2015). She teaches writing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her at http://www.minichino.com
Nancy Jill Thames writes the Jillian Bradley mystery series, beginning with Murder in Half Moon Bay, featuring a feisty garden columnist and her clue-sniffing Yorkie, and has been listed in the Amazon Author Watch Bestseller List. When Nancy isn't plotting Jillian’s next perilous adventure, she travels between Texas, California, and Georgia finding new ways to spoil her grandchildren, playing classical favorites on her baby grand, or having afternoon tea with friends. Learn more at http://www.nancyjillthames.com/
Linda Gordon Hengerer is the author of the Beach Tea Shop mystery series, and several non-fiction books on football and wine pairings. A New Jersey native transplanted to Florida, she belongs to Mystery Writers of America-Florida Chapter. Many years of working in corporate America have made her grateful for her writing time. Visit her at http://www.LindaGordonHengerer.com
Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery and urban fantasy fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. Their first mystery novel, Last Dance, won the Master’s Choice Award for best first mystery novel in 1999. Their romance, Flowers in the Night, was nominated for the Frankfurt Book Award in 2000. They have written and published more than 70 novels and hundreds of non-fiction articles. They live in Midland, North Carolina, with their family and their rescue pets—Rudi, Stan Lee, and Quincy. Visit them at http://www.joyceandjimlavene.com
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