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My Books


After a brutal summer and an August and most of July full of 100+-degree days, we finally have a break, with a string of days only in the low 90s, even sometimes in the 80s. It’s the kind of weather they consider “summer” in more civilized climates, but here it’s a taste of fall. We’ve even had a bit of rain, the first in about six weeks. I’m trying to enjoy it as much as I can, since we’ll be going back to summer weather, though possibly not more 100-degree days.

My body has gone into “fall” mode, so I’m sure it’ll be disappointed. I’m enjoying sitting on the patio in the mornings for as long as I want, until I feel like I need to get to work, without having to retreat indoors because it’s too hot. I walked to the library yesterday without feeling like I would die from heat stroke. I may even begin cooking again instead of just eating a lot of salads. Last night, I mixed up a batch of refrigerator biscuit/roll dough and made cinnamon rolls with it for breakfast this morning. It’s baking season again. Next up will be soup. I feel like I’m trying to cram all the fall things in this week before it gets hot again, in case this is all we’ll get.

Fall is my favorite time of year, but we don’t get much of it here. We might get a week like this one in September, then summer returns, and then we might get a week or two in October. It doesn’t start really feeling like proper fall until Thanksgiving, maybe. By then, Christmas has taken over.

I’ve found that a lot of the books that are the first in my series seem to take place in September. Some of that may be because I tend to start new projects in August or September, and I write the season I’m in. September is also a good time to travel, since prices tend to drop after Labor Day, and that means my research trips tend to come around that time, so I write the season I researched. That’s why Enchanted, Inc. starts in late September. In a week or so, it will have been 20 years since the trip I took to New York to research the setting before I started writing, and I wrote that time of year because it was what was vivid to me. But I think my tendency to set new series in September also has something to do with the sense of new beginnings that comes around the start of the school year. New school year, new book — it’s pretty much the same in my mind. In a couple of works in progress, the September setting means there’s a ticking clock—they have to deal with things before winter sets in—so it’s actually relevant to the plot.

The book I’m working on now is set in the spring, which is a real mindset shift. I was going with the time of year when someone was likely to be hungry, and spring was a difficult time before hothouses, good food preservation and storage methods, and transportation that allowed food to be brought from other parts of the world. In the spring, not enough new things had grown to provide much food, but the food stored over the winter was running out. I wanted a character to be on the edge of desperation and not able to find much to eat, so spring it was, and it fits with an idea of the character gradually blossoming as the world wakes up. Though I’ll admit that habit keeps trying to kick in, so my brain wants it to be fall. I’m writing a festival scene now, and although they’re decorating with garlands of flowers, my mental image keeps trying to be of fall leaves and corn husks. Another book, brain. We’ll do a fall book in this setting, I’m sure.

My Books

Almost release day!

One more day to the new book! The paperback has been submitted, and there’s a page for it on Amazon, but it’s still not showing as available. I hope it’ll be available on release day.

There’s a tiny bit of a sequel to Enchanted Ever After in this book, with one story that takes place after that book, though it’s from Katie’s Granny’s point of view, so Katie and Owen are secondary characters.

We also get a story with a teenage Owen. He’s a freshman in college, and he skipped a few grades in school, so he’s only about sixteen and hasn’t quite outgrown his nerdy stage.

I guess I was giving Katie a break in writing the new stories. She wasn’t having to narrate or do all the work, for a change. It was fun to write stories from other characters’ perspectives. I don’t think I’ll do the thing I’ve seen some other authors do and rewrite an entire book from the point of view of a different character, but I do enjoy mixing things up and writing in the voice of a different character every so often.

I’ve also written some essays on the history of the series and how the magic works. I polled readers on my Facebook page to see what questions they wanted answered (aside from what happens next), and then wrote essays to answer those questions.

I hope everyone enjoys this book!

My Books

New Book!

That book of short fiction in the Enchanted, Inc. universe is now available for pre-order in e-book. There will be a paperback, but they don’t allow pre-orders on those, so that will be available just before release day (I’ll try to get it up so that it can be received around release day, but it’s hard to judge just how quickly they’ll be able to move).

Tales of Enchantment book cover, showing magical smoke and stars coming out of an open book.

There are three new stories in this book, and they’re all longer than short stories. Two are novelettes (longer than a short story, shorter than a novella, so more than 7,500 words). One of these is about Owen and Rod when they were in college. The other happens after Enchanted Ever After and involves Katie’s Granny dealing with a crisis before Katie’s hometown wedding reception. Then there’s a novella (more than 20,000 words) about Merlin’s return, about a year before Enchanted, Inc.

The book also includes the two previously published short stories.

I’ve also included several essays about where I got the ideas for various things in the series and my view of the magical system. All the stories have new author’s notes about the inspiration behind them and any other details about the creative process. I’ve tried to make this book a treat for the fans.

Pre-orders are now available at most of the major online retailers, and I’ve put the links on the book’s page on the website.

Since my birthday is Monday, buying the book would be a really nice gift to me.

My Books

Seasonal Reading

I think I’m finally going to acknowledge the holiday season. I’m planning to put up my decorations tonight, and this Friday will be my “office party.” Yes, it’s just me, but I’m going to start my holiday week a bit early by spending a day reading and relaxing, with maybe some festive food. I figure if I’m a good boss, I owe myself a party. So this may be my last post until I do a year in review just before the new year.

This year, I planned in advance and have stockpiled some Christmas books. If I started reading something that turned out to be set during the holiday season, I marked it and set it aside. I’ll get out the seasonal music, turn on the Christmas tree lights, and immerse myself.

I’ve written one Christmas novella, Twice Upon a Christmas, which is sort of a “Sliding Doors” scenario of a woman living out two different lives based on a quirk of fate, only she’s conscious of both lives as she lives each day twice and has to choose which life she wants to keep. This story started as a screenplay for one of those TV Christmas movies, then I realized I had no idea what to do with it, so I adapted it into a book. I must have been somewhat on the right track for the movie thing because I keep getting queries from networks and production companies about it, but no one has yet actually optioned it.

Within my other series, there are also some options for holiday reading. There’s the latest book, Mystery of the Secret Santa, in the Lucky Lexie series. The holiday season spans two books in the Enchanted, Inc. series. Once Upon Stilettos leads up to the office holiday party, then Damsel Under Stress covers Christmas itself. The third book in the Fairy Tale series, A Kind of Magic, happens in the lead-up to Christmas, with the heroine, Sophie, dancing in The Nutcracker. And Rebels Rising, the third book in the Rebels series, takes place around Christmas.

I keep saying I need to write another Christmas book, but I learned the hard way this year that writing a Christmas book early in the year makes me want to avoid the holiday season when it actually comes. I initially wrote that screenplay during December when I was between projects (I may have been waiting on edits on a book) and I wanted to keep up the routine of writing regularly, so I did something seasonal just for fun. My brain is too fried this year to write during the holiday week, and I’m in the middle of a book, so it’s not going to happen this year. I have so many ideas, though. If I could figure out how to sell scripts, I could keep Netflix and Prime supplied with movies (but not Hallmark because my ideas don’t fit their current mold).

Have a happy holiday season, and happy reading!

My Books

Small-Town Christmas

We’re now truly into December, right during the time of year when Mystery of the Secret Santa takes place, and I have to confess that I’m still not really into the holiday spirit. I’m pretty much actively avoiding anything Christmassy. I think part of the reason is that we finally got “fall” around Thanksgiving. The leaves started turning brilliant colors the day after Thanksgiving, so it’s one of the more spectacular autumns we’ve had in ages, and then it got warm. It feels like October in Texas and looks like September/October in New England. Since fall is my favorite season, I want to enjoy it before I move on to the Christmas season, so I’m denial about it being December.

I think it also didn’t help that I spent the late summer writing a book set during the holiday season. I didn’t do anything like listen to Christmas music while I wrote or put up holiday decorations in my office to get in the mood, but I still ended up essentially experiencing the season in my head from making up what this town’s festivities would look like and then spending hours a day mentally experiencing it. I may have overdosed on the holiday season during August and September.

But I did have fun creating my ideal small-town Christmas. I based a lot of it on Grapevine, Texas, a town near me that’s had itself proclaimed the Christmas Capital of Texas. This town has an old-timey main street full of little shops and restaurants. The area gets covered in lights, the stores do elaborate window displays, there’s Christmas music piped in that you hear on the street, and there’s a light show synchronized to music in the city park. I like to go there and just walk up and down the street, soaking it all up. I understand it’s even bigger now that they’ve built a new hotel near the train station and there’s a whole new commuter rail line that runs through there. They have an outdoor ice rink and a new plaza where I believe the light show is now. Here are a few pictures of Grapevine at Christmas to help you imagine what I was trying to convey in the book.

A gazebo in a small-town park is lit up with white Christmas lights
The gazebo in the Grapevine downtown park
Downtown Grapevine decorated for Christmas, with a row of old buildings covered in lights and a lighted garland over the street.
Downtown Grapevine decorated for the holidays.
Christmas lights on old buildings on Main Street, with lights also hanging over the street.
Main Street in Grapevine with all the lights.
An old movie theater outlined in Christmas lights.
The old movie theater, dressed for the holidays.

Another town that provided some inspiration is Marshall, in East Texas. They started outlining all the buildings in the old downtown around the courthouse square with lights back in the 80s (when my uncle was mayor there), and it’s exploded from there to be a big deal people travel to see.

My Books

New Book and Holidays

The new book came out yesterday, and you should be able to find it at most places. It may take a while to show up on the various library services, and I just remembered that I haven’t yet put it on Google Play (but I haven’t sold a single book there yet, so that’s low on my priority list right now), but it’s at the big ones, and the paperback is available via Amazon. It should also eventually show up at other places, but it takes time to propagate.

This will be my last release of the year. I don’t yet know what the schedule will be for next year. It depends on a lot of things. I’m frantically writing the start of what I hope will be a new “traditional” fantasy series (secondary world, quasi-medievalish setting with horses and castles and an adorkable wizard because of course).

In the meantime, I’ll be taking next week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, so no blog posts from me. I need to do a little writing in between feasts and travel days, so keeping up with other stuff is more than I want to do when I need to take some time off.

See you after the holiday.

My Books

Pre-order the Next Mystery

I can’t believe how quickly this crept up on me, but the holidays are almost upon us, and that means we’re a week away from the release of my holiday paranormal mystery, the latest book in the Lucky Lexie series, Mystery of the Secret Santa. It’s available for pre-order now. The release date is November 17, for those of you who aren’t like me and can’t deal with Christmas at all until after Thanksgiving. Or you could just make sure you’ve got it before you dive into Christmas stuff. The action in the book begins on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, in case you want to be totally in sync.

Mystery of the Secret Santa book cover

This is a fun little book that doesn’t get too dark. I didn’t want to write a murder for Christmas, so there are different kinds of cases. Mostly, it’s about Lexie getting to live out her Hallmark Christmas movie fantasies as the town goes all-out with a spectacular holiday celebration and finds out that Wes isn’t a big fan of Christmas. She thought she was living the “big city career woman comes to small town and meets local guy” story, but maybe it’s the “Christmas lover persuades Christmas grump to learn to love Christmas.” Unfortunately, she’s sidetracked in this effort by the Secret Santa, someone who seems to know all the secrets in the town and is sharing them, leaving notes for people letting them know what other people are doing behind their backs. There’s also the occasional gift left, things people never told anyone else that they needed. The gifts are good, but the secrets are really damaging the holiday vibe. And then there’s the wave of robberies at fast-food places and convenience stores — crimes in which the robber only takes small things, not money. Who is it and why is he doing this?

This is a fairly short book, so it should be good for the busy holiday season. You can sit down and read it when you have time to take a break. Make some cocoa, get some cookies, put on your favorite holiday music and escape to a small town right out of a Hallmark movie for a couple of hours.

The order links are on the book’s page.

My Books

Book Hunger

The new book is out in the world, and I’m busy revising the next one. I’ve realized while working on these that I talk a lot about food in these books. Probably not enough for them to qualify as “culinary” cozy mysteries, but still, there’s a lot of food, considering the heroine herself doesn’t actually cook. She just appreciates good food when it’s given to her.

I started cooking a lot of Mexican food when I wrote the first couple of books, after all those scenes in the Mexican restaurant. I got a good recipe for cheese enchiladas and for chili con queso.

Then in Broken Bridge, it was hamburgers. So much talk of hamburgers cooked out on a grill. Hamburgers are a big comfort food for me. If I’m not feeling well, kind of tired and run-down, a burger is my go-to cure, possibly because I don’t eat a lot of red meat, so when my body needs iron, I crave burgers. Oddly, though, I don’t think I ate a lot of burgers while I was writing this book. The act of writing those scenes satisfied the burger craving. Instead of the writing making me hungry, I imagined the food so much that I felt like I’d eaten it. I’ve done that before, when I spent a day writing a dinner scene, then felt dizzy at the end of the day and realized I’d forgotten to eat because writing the scene made me feel like I’d eaten dinner.

The next book takes place in December, so I talk a lot about hot cocoa and cookies. There are fewer food scenes, in general. I’m not craving cocoa, since I wrote it during the summer and it’s still hot as I’m revising it. I think there are more breakfast scenes in this book than I usually write.

Maybe I should have written a culinary series, like with Margarita as the amateur sleuth who follows up on things she hears at her restaurant. But I’ve worked in a restaurant and when I was in high school I had a summer job working in the kitchen at a summer camp, so I’m not sure I want to relive those days. I’ve also worked as a reporter, but that wasn’t quite as miserable. It just wasn’t a great fit for my personality.

I hope I don’t make anyone too hungry from reading these books. All my favorite local Mexican restaurants have closed recently, so I’m glad I learned to cook some of those dishes for myself in case I make myself hungry while I’m writing.

My Books

Pre-Order the Next Mystery

Case of the Broken Bridge book coverI got my act together, so I will hit my targeted release date. Case of the Broken Bridge will be released next Thursday in e-book. I’m aiming at getting the paperback around that time, but you never can tell how long it will take for those to go live and be shipped. You can pre-order at Amazon, Kobo, and Apple, so far. I’ll try to keep up with the links as stores go live. Check the book’s page on my site for all the information and purchase links.

This book was a very long time in the making. I first outlined it last year. I think it was going to be #4, happening during the summer and before the back-to-school timeframe of Vanishing Visitor. And then I realized there was no way I could get three books written before Halloween, and I really wanted to do the Haunted Hotel book then. So, I put this story aside to use it later.

Early this year, I got out those notes to write the book. It actually fit even better in the timeline this way, since it involves a bridge that got washed out during a storm, and there’s a bad storm in Haunted Hotel. There was just one problem: I seem to have knocked over a water glass and spilled something on my notes, and the ink washed out on the page where I wrote my ideas for how to resolve the story. So, I had all the setup but I couldn’t remember how to resolve it and had to figure that out all over again.

Then as I was writing the book, on the scene in which the victim is found, I heard several loud pops coming from the street by my house, and soon I was watching a crime scene team on the street my office window overlooks for what turned out to be a murder investigation. It was a shooting, someone in one car shooting at the person in the next car, and from what I can tell, the actual shooting happened right in front of my office window (my office is on the second floor, and it overlooks a major road that’s on the other side of a tall brick wall from my house). I didn’t see anything because I was writing, but I heard the gunshots. Not long after that, I was watching the evening news, and they mentioned a shooting at a coffee shop in a nearby town — and I knew the victim. She was the daughter of some friends from church. I’ve known her since she was born. In fact, I had her baby photo on my refrigerator until I got a new one a couple of years ago and cleared off the baby photos of kids who were in college.

At that point, I just couldn’t make myself write murder mysteries. Murder wasn’t something for fun and entertainment. I put that book aside and worked on something else. But then this summer I found myself thinking about it, and I wanted to get closure, so I finished it. And then the timeline worked out so that I needed to do a Christmas book.

This book is a locked-room mystery, but with a paranormal twist. I ended up having a lot of fun writing it, and I think that the emotions I associated with it because of everything that happened around it ended up making it a really strong book, probably the best in this series so far. I’m proud of this one.

I’ve drafted the Christmas book, and I’m about to start revising it. I hope to get it out just before Thanksgiving.

I’m not sure at this point when or if I’ll do more mysteries beyond that. I’ve found that I still don’t really want to read mysteries. I have a few vague possible plot ideas, but nothing firm. We’ll see what pops into my head, but for now I need to take a break from these characters. You’d think I’d learn my lesson about doing two books in the same series in a row. I can’t read two books in a series in a row. And we’ll see how the series sells. It’s been profitable, but based on the time spent writing and the amount it’s earned, I’d have made more money working those hours at a grocery store. There are some promo things I’d like to try, but if things don’t perk up on this series, I may have to call it quits at 7 books and try something else. That’s more books than a regular publisher would have given it before pulling the plug. I tried the move to mystery because it seemed like there was a big crossover audience from the Enchanted, Inc. books to cozy paranormal mysteries, but it seems not. Or else they haven’t found out about it. It’s a pretty crowded field. I don’t know if it’s a visibility/discoverability issue or a problem with the books themselves, but I need things to tick up a bit before I invest a lot more time in these. Or maybe I’m just tired after a few months of crunching and I’ll be eager to return to this series after I work on something else. I’ve actually planned my writing schedule for the next two quarters, so maybe that will help me stay sane.

My Books

Progress Update

I finished the first draft of the new mystery book on Monday, so I guess that’s going to happen, after all. I don’t think there will be too much editing required. I’m sure I’ll have to fine-tune the words, possibly add some description and emotion, but I don’t think the plot requires major surgery, so that should all happen pretty quickly.

Assuming I can get it all done and get a cover designed, I’m going to aim for a September 22 release. I haven’t talked to the cover designer yet, so I’ll have to see what her schedule is like. She’s usually pretty quick, though.

And I already have an idea for the next book. I guess letting those characters rest for a while gave them a lot of energy. I realized that the book I’ve been working on takes place in November, leading up to Thanksgiving, which means that the next book would be the Christmas book, so either I’d have to release a Christmas book at some other time of the year, wait until next year, or write one quickly.

I suppose there’s nothing terribly wrong with releasing a Christmas book at some other time of year. The Enchanted, Inc. book set around Christmas was released in April. But I think it helps the marketing to release a holiday-themed book around that holiday. I’m still brainstorming the plot, so I don’t know how quickly I’ll be able to write it, but if I keep up the pace I’ve managed for the past few weeks, I think I’ll be able to pull it off easily. This one will be a bit lighter, without a murder, since I don’t want to kill anyone at Christmas time. It’s a different kind of crime. It’ll be weird writing a Christmas book during the summer. I don’t know that I can make myself listen to Christmas music to set the mood as I write, but it might help me feel cooler to mentally put myself in December. Then again, it’s a Texas December, so it could be anywhere from ice storm to 80 degrees F.

In other news, the first two mystery books are now on the Hoopla service that allows you to check out e-books through the library. The rest are supposed to end up there eventually, but it takes them more than a year to get books up on that service. If your library offers Hoopla, you can read them for free (and I get paid!). Here’s the listing for the first book.

I’m taking Friday off because my birthday is this weekend and I just finished a book, so there will be no blog post on Friday. I’ll be back next week. I’m going to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then go to the library and an exhibit at the city’s arts center. Then I’ll have a weekend of movie nights, lounging around reading, and at-home spa treatments.