Friday Preview–Midnight Mysteries

FP&OF memeI thought today would be a good day for a sneak peek at the short stories coming in a couple of weeks in MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES: 9 Cozy Tales by 9 Bestselling Mystery Authors.

Midnight Mysteries large web sizeAs I already mentioned in an earlier post, this collection has All Brand New, Never Before Published Stories from favorite mystery authors and feature bestselling mystery series. The book tops 400 pages, and I’ll post the buy link in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, look forward to these stories–

Ritter Ames“Organized for Masked Motives” (from the Organized Mysteries series) Kate McKenzie never dreamed when she started her business, Stacked in Your Favor, that she’d spend nearly as much time crime solving as organizing. But with Halloween approaching, and too many items on the to-do list, she and Meg Berman find themselves in another puzzling dilemma—where every answer leads to another question.

Morgana Best“No Time to Witch” (from The Kitchen Witch mystery series) Offering both a historical mystery and a paranormal flair, in this story Thelma Spelled must discover the mystery around a murder that entangles her and her husband. The tale is also a prequel to the novel Miss Spelled, and reveals more about the magic of the house, as well as about Australia in the early 20th century.

Karen Cantwell“It Takes a Ghost” (tie-in to the Sophie Rhodes mystery series) Newly promoted detective Brenna Sage wants to be taken seriously in her new position, but that’s difficult when she can’t solve a series of robberies in Stephens City. Until she gains a partner in the guise of Marmaduke Dodsworth. While Marmaduke might be better versed in decorum and refinement than forensics and interrogation, he has one decidedly clear advantage: He can walk through walls.

Carolyn Haines“Clacking Bones” (from the Sarah Booth Delaney series) When Jitty’s husband, Coker, goes missing from the Great Beyond, Sarah Booth Delaney, Tinkie, and all the animals sign on to find out why the spirit is AWOL. Sarah Booth has to dig deep into the past to find the answer to this puzzling mystery.

Eleanor Cawood Jones “Salad Days, Halloween Nights” (from the author of A Baker’s Dozen) A vegetable-loving chef finds he’s cooked his way into trouble when a Halloween treat leads to murder. If he wants a happy future, he must first make sure the police don’t have him down as the main ingredient in a recipe for a prison sentence.

Larissa Reinhart“The Vigilante Vignette” (from the Cherry Tucker Mystery series) Cherry Tucker can get herself into the worst predicaments without even trying. This time, a mercy call on a neighbor gets her roped into a quid pro quo deal—if Cherry recovers a stolen family heirloom that is both somewhat embarrassing and due to be discovered missing very shortly, the neighbor will use his family clout to help her with some zoning issues. But if she fails, the expression “someone’s got her goat” will take on a whole new meaning for Cherry. And when she discovers a thievery ring, illegal auctions, and some green-eyed emotions after spotting Luke where she doesn’t expect him—well, it’s just another hilarious day in Halo, Georgia.

Connie Shelton“Spellbound Sweets” (from the Samantha Sweets Magical Cozy Mystery series) It’s Halloween, one of the busiest seasons of the year for Samantha Sweet and the crew at her pastry shop, Sweet’s Sweets. The gang looks forward to a gala costume party at the neighborhood bookstore, but the evening takes a different turn when a guest is murdered, a rare book vanishes, and Sam finds herself in the midst of another mystery.

Maria Grazia Swan“Weeping Moon” (from the Lella York Mysteries series) Lella York has a way of getting herself into trouble, even when she’s doing volunteer work. Who is the mysterious storyteller, and what is going on at the senior living center? And will Lella find out before it’s too late?

LynDee Walker“Frightening Features” (from the Nichelle Clarke Mystery series) Nichelle Clarke is not a patient recovery patient. While she’s waiting for an injury to heal, all she really wants is a story to write and research—hard news to get her mind occupied, even if she can only work one-armed. Instead, her boss gives her a fluff piece. Not her idea of fun. But with Nichelle snooping around, it’s not surprising her soft story takes a decidedly hard turn.

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Evolution of a book cover

A few weeks ago, I offered a sneak peek here on the blog of a new Halloween Organized Mystery I’d written for an upcoming fall anthology that will be released the middle of next month. We authors have moved past the writing and editing stages now and onto the graphic portion of our program, so I thought I’d offer a little behind the scenes cover action. Sound interesting?

There is nothing more fun than working with terrific author friends on an exciting projectMidnight Mysteries we’re doing for our fans, and this anthology has been a blast. All of the stories are brand new, all are 40 pages or more long–two are twice that length–and most of them tie to favorite mystery series we already love to write and our fans have told us they love to read. We wanted our book cover to not only translate that series fun into the graphic, but give readers as much information as we could when the cover was seen online. We liked having all our names on the front, so readers can tell at a glance whose stories are inside, but we also wanted a bit of whimsy to play a role. We sent our designer all our ideas–even preliminary designs Larissa graciously did on Canva (Larissa is doubly talented as an author AND an artist–I’m so jealous) as we all worked through our stream of consciousness ideas. Once our designer received all the info, she took on the challenge and the first cover came back like this first graphic at the right–>

Midnight Mysteries 2To clarify, the “shutterstock” watermark wasn’t going to stay–we knew that–and we liked the balance and placement of everything. But we were concerned if we used the first cover and it went down to the thumbnail size that appears for Amazon search pages…well, our names would likely become just one unreadable block of squiggly lines. And the more we looked and thought about it, the more we decided we might need to get rid of the subtitle, to give the cover a little cleaner look. So, our marvelous (and patient) designer went back to her computer and returned with the option seen at the left.

Nice, huh? We thought so. And we were almost ready to use the design as the final cover until we had one more idea. While the subtitle was great about telling readers more Midnight Mysteries large web sizeabout what was inside, and would still be listed on the anthology’s book page, now that it was gone from the cover readers couldn’t easily see what kind of mysteries the anthology contained. We lost our “cozy.” So, we again went to our very patient and wonderful designer and asked if we could get a tiny bit of the subtitle back onto the cover. This is the final work–>

Well, what do you think? We authors kind of love it ourselves. And since the designer sent it back to us on August 17th–which is Black Cat Day–the cute kitty seems to be giving her meow of approval, too. Okay, maybe her “look” of approval.

What do you think? Is it a “4 paws up” design?

 

 

 

Let’s End July with an Organized Halloween Sneak Peek

Yes, believe it or not, July 2016 has less than half-a-day left. Where has so much of the year gone? Sunday Sneak PeekWhile I don’t normally like to hurry time–as I seem to be crunched by it most days–I am looking forward to the cool temps of fall. To that end, I’m currently editing/proofing stories for a Halloween anthology to be released a few weeks before the trick or treat holiday. More on that in the coming weeks. And I’m handing out treats today in the form of a sneak peek of my story included in the anthology “Organized for Trick or Trap.” Hope everyone likes it 🙂

Organized for Trick or Trap Excerpt

Kate McKenzie looked out the windows of her cheery cherry-patterned kitchen curtains and watched lace-like snowflakes drift down lazily on the other side of the pane.

Definitely going to be a white Halloween, she thought. Something she was learning to count on since moving to Hazelton, Vermont. As she placed bananas into her seven-year-old twin daughters’ lunches, her energetic tomboy daughter, Samantha, barreled into the room with her coat and backpack slung onto one arm. “Oh, good. You’re ready, Sam. Is Suzanne about set to go too?”

“Yeah.” Sam chewed her lip, then asked, “Mom, can witches turn real people into zombies, or just do that to animals?”

“What?” Kate laughed and pushed on the Velcro ends of one insulated bag, sealing up the opening. She turned and faced a solemn faced Samantha. Oops. “Sorry I laughed, honey. I thought you were joking. I think I need a little more information on this cat zombie thing.”

“Monica says the lady down the road in the turquoise colored house is a witch and can bring animals back from the dead. But all the cats are zombies.”

This wasn’t the first wild story her twins had brought home thanks to this particular facts-challenged classmate. Kate had meant to already visit the new neighbor, but life had a way of filling every spare minute. Now, she had an even better reason to go and introduce herself. “I think someone told me she fosters cats, honey. How about we drop by her house after school with some of the jack o’ lantern cookies I made last night and introduce ourselves.”

“But Monica says she makes zombies out of the cats. They walk around and don’t see or hear anyone,” Sam persisted, just as her blonde identical twin Suzanne walked into the kitchen.

“Are you talking about the cat witch lady?” Suze asked.

“Yeah.”

“Girls, stop.” Kate handed each a lunch bag and steered them toward the front door, reconsidering her idea about taking the girls to meet the new neighbor. Probably best to pop in alone first, and take the girls later after she could reassure them with tangible evidence the woman didn’t turn anything into zombies. At least she hoped the fact she’d come home without being zombiefied succeeded in putting this story to rest. “There are no cat witches. And from what I know about our family’s cat, the entire breed only hears and sees what it wants to. Probably Monica tried to call one or two, wanting to pet them, and the cats ignored her.”

“But—”

“No, girls,” Kate pointed to their coats. “Suit up with those jackets and stick your lunches in your backpacks. Meg and the boys are taking you to school today. I’ll check out the new neighbor this afternoon and give a full report when I pick you up from school. And in the meantime, stop believing everything Monica tells you.” She opened the front door and crossed her arms in defense to the October blast of frigid air.

So, there you have it. More coming soon. 🙂