Announcing My First Full-Length Novel!

Wow, it really has been a long time since I’ve posted! I am so sorry! I should be grounded and sent to my room; my son says that’s not really punishment, though. I have a TV, DVD player, and plenty of movies in there, and I can always sneak the WiiU in there to keep myself entertained!

Actually, things have been a little crazy in my house for the last eight, nine months. My only child moved to Missouri in November, taking a big piece of my heart with him. I’ve had a rough time of it, as I’m sure all parents who are suddenly empty nesters will understand (granted, I still have the other child, aka my husband, but it’s not the same thing!). I did a little writing, but the motivation just wasn’t there because my son was gone.

However, thanks to Bente Gallagher, who graciously shared one of her story ideas with me, Jamie Livingston-Dierks, Stacy Jeziorowski, Kristi Spinks, my parents and my son, I finally started working on a brand new story. It’s in the final editing stages as I type this (speed it up, Stacy!), and we are planning to release the story August 5th.

Introducing My First Full-Length Novel!

So, what kind of story is it? For starters, it’s what you’ve all been asking for: it’s a full-length novel! No, really! As of right now, it’s 313 pages, almost 90,000 words. I’m just as surprised and thrilled as you are! I didn’t think I had it in me, but once I got into the story, it just flowed.

GhostInTheLibrary1It’s not a Lizzie story, however. Like I said, this is a brand new series, and the first book is Who Killed the Ghost in the Library? It stars a ghost writer named Cam Shaw, who ghost writes stories for other people (sorry, due to those pesky confidential and non-disclosure agreements, we’re not allowed to tell you who she’s worked with). However, her newest client believes she actually helps ghosts write their stories, because, well…he’s a ghost. Stanley Ashton III was murdered in the mid-1940s in his own house, and he’s been stuck there ever since. After seeing Cam’s ad in the newspaper, he hires her to find out who killed him. But someone doesn’t want the story to come out. Bodies start dropping like flies, someone tries to kill a former police chief, who is the grandfather of the current police chief, Mike Penhall. Mike thinks that Cam needs to butt out of his investigation, until he meets Stanley. So who killed the ghost, and who doesn’t want the truth to come out?

I promise there are plenty of explosions, excitement, shootouts, and chemistry, especially between Cam and Mike. Keep checking here and my author page on Facebook for excerpts and more details as it gets closer to the release date. I’m very excited about this book, and I know you all are going to LOVE it!

It’s Going to be a Busy Year!

Yes, there will be a second book! Who Killed the Ghost Writer? Cam is contacted by the ghost of a fellow ghost writer, who was killed because of a book they were writing. But Cam doesn’t know who her friend’s client is, because the manuscript has disappeared!

I’m sure you are wondering about poor Lizzie. Don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten about her. I have a couple of plot ideas I’m bouncing around for her: Death Drives a Zamboni and Death Shoots the Sheriff. I’m not sure which one is going to be first, but I’m hoping to have a new Lizzie story by the end of the year. Catch up on all of the Lizzie’s adventures in the meantime!

Thank you all for being so patient! I promise it was all worth it! The new story is fantastic! Stay tuned!

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It’s Book Launch Day!

I have started a new series, the Charlie Bannerman Mysteries, and the first book, Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Stalkers Bite, is now available on Amazon!

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Charlie is having a normal day: she’s running late, her Malamute has treed Mrs. Rodriguez’ cat, and her car won’t start. But what does the note “MINE, NOT YOURS. GET YOUR OWN!!” mean? Things get stranger when her crazy ex-boyfriend makes a move on her, his crazy girlfriend camps out on her front porch and accuses her of stealing the guy back (as if!). But blowing up her car with a body inside is downright terrifying. Charlie and her friends try to unravel the clues even as the chaos around her continues. How many stalkers does it take to kill one person? You’d be surprised at the answer!

This series is a bit darker than the Lizzie Crenshaw mystery series, but the humor is still there, along with the twists and turns you love. And it’s only $1.99!

Pick it up today on Amazon: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Stalkers Bite

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I have found what I lost…my independence

I lost my independence a year ago. I sort of realized it at the time, but I didn’t know how deeply it would affect me until yesterday.

Last year, my son started his senior year of high school. As a senior, they were allowed to purchase a parking space close to the school and paint it any way they wanted to (as long as it conformed to school rules). When I was in high school, they didn’t have anything like this, and I didn’t get to drive to school. I wanted to make sure that my son could.

The deal we made was that I would get to drive the car once or twice a week. “Of course we’ll share the car, Mom,” he told me. Silly me, I believed him!

Over the past year, I’ve rarely driven it. I had this car ten years before he started driving. I could come and go as I pleased, without having to ask someone if it was okay to use the car. Suddenly, I was dealing with a teenager who, once he got his hands on the car, wasn’t about to relinquish control.

I did manage to drive it on the weekends; I did have to feed the family, after all, so trips to the store were an evil necessity. But the looks I got from my son when I asked for the keys were those of annoyance. And as the school year went by, it became more “his car” and less “my car”. Radio stations set to heavy metal and country (Lord help me!), black car seat covers with skulls on them (although now he has moved on to camouflage), his senior tassel and fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror. 

After graduation, he found a job and the talk turned to him finding a truck. “You can have the car back, Mom.” Oh sure, give it back after he’s dented the hood, blown out the speakers, and scrapped paint off the left rear bumper! But we couldn’t find anything for him. I realized the other day we were going about this wrong. “Why don’t we try to find something for me?” I suggested to my husband and son.

“Go for it!” they said, although I was pretty sure they didn’t think I’d have much luck.

It took me only three days to find what I wanted: a 2001, 2 door silver grey Ford Explorer. I brought it home yesterday. As I sat here eating supper at 7:15, I thought “I need to take those bookmarks Larissa Reinhart (author of Hijack in Abstract) to the library.” I jumped in the Explorer and took off. I didn’t have to ask anyone for the keys so I could go. I just went. I even took the long way home, just enjoying the drive.

When I got home, my husband was here. He could tell I was very happy. He smiled and said, “I’m glad you got your independence back.”

It was at that moment that I realized what I had been missing for over a year. I didn’t feel depressed. This big weight that I had been carrying around, that I hadn’t completely understood was gone.

I’m free!

Catch me if you can! Time to go for a ride! Image

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On Cloche and Dagger

Hi fellow Teresa-fans! If you hang around her Facebook page, you probably know me by now. I’m Erin, Teresa’s right hand gal (or evil minion, depending on my mood). Normally, I write book reviews over on Paws & Print, but Teresa invited me to take over this space on Fridays. I’ll be bringing you reviews of the latest and greatest mysteries from my bookshelf.

Have a favorite mystery series, or something new I should check out. Drop a comment on one of my posts. I love suggestions!

Okay, now that I got that intro stuff out of the way, lets get down to the heart of the matter. This week, I am bringing you the newest release from Jenn McKinlay, Cloche and Dagger. Cloche and Dagger is the first book in McKinlay’s new mystery series, the Hat Shop Mysteries. This book was also my first foray into McKinlay’s work.

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Not only is Scarlett Parker’s love life in the loo—as her British cousin Vivian Tremont would say—it’s also gone viral with an embarrassing video. So when Viv suggests Scarlett leave Florida to lay low in London, she hops on the next plane across the pond. Viv is the proprietor of Mims’s Whims, a ladies’ hat shop on Portobello Road bequeathed to both cousins by their beloved grandmother, and she wants Scarlett to finally join her in the millinery business.

But a few surprises await Scarlett in London. First, she is met at the airport not by Viv, but by her handsome business manager, Harrison Wentworth. Second, Viv—who has some whims of her own—seems to be missing. No one is too concerned about the unpredictable Viv until one of her posh clients is found dead wearing the cloche hat Viv made for her—and nothing else. Is Scarlett’s cousin in trouble? Or is she in hiding? (book blurb c/o Amazon.com)

My Thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed Cloche and Dagger. From page one, Scarlett had me laughing. She is quite the spit-fire and definitely an accident waiting to happen. In many ways, I could sympathize with her, the feeling lost and getting swept up into things beyond her control. Scarlett just intends to come to London to try to rebuild her life after her breakup goes viral on the internet.

Next thing she knows, she is swept up in a murder mystery, trying to track down her missing cousin, dodging a killer that may or may not be targeting her and fighting growing feelings for Harrison. Yep, Scarlett quickly gets herself into a pickle.

Perhaps my only complaint is that the book seems to drag in certain places. For having so much action in the storyline, those slower chapters confused me just a bit. That is not to say that Cloche and Dagger is not worth adding to your reading list, it definitely is! Anyone who enjoys an old-fashioned murder mystery and a fun, quirky heroine should get a kick out of this book.

Want More?

Pick up your copy of Cloche and Dagger:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Find out more about Jenn McKinlay and all her work on the author’s homepage.

Until next my Teresa fans.

XOXO,

Erin

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Welcome to the wacky world inside my head!

My Facebook page has grown by leaps and bounds in the last three days, so I thought it was time to give an update on my projects, plans for the blog, and introduce you to the people who make my books reality.

We’ll start with the last thing first. There are several people who work behind the scenes to keep me in line. The wonderful lady who started me down this road is Jamie Livingston-Dierks. She encouraged me to publish the first Lizzie story, Death of a Cantankerous Old Coot, created the cover and formatted the story. Without her encouragement, I wouldn’t have made it this far. She writes the Gotcha Detective Agency mystery series under the name Jamie Lee Scott; they are excellent books. Check them out!

There is a group of people who are responsible for me starting the series: the Dotters group. I wrote the story for them. After every chapter was posted on this blog, they threw out more suggestions on what should happen next. I used some of their ideas in that book, and subsequent books. They keep me going. Love you guys!

There are brainstormers and proofreaders who listen to me whine, tell me to suck it up, and listen to my crazy ideas for my characters: Jamie, Kristi Spinks, Kathy Evans, Lonnie Wolgamott, Kim Frederick, Bente Gallagher, Holley Buckalew and Stacy Jeziorowski (two new people to this lucky group), my wonderful parents and my adorable son. (I’m sure I have forgotten someone, and if I have, I am truly sorry! It wasn’t intentional!)

I have two assistants: my son James, who listens to my ideas, contributes his own, and nags me to death. Erin Maurer-Lang is my technical assistant. She comes up with wonderful ideas for the blog, she has created some wonderful pictures for the street team page, and she is arranging some fantastic interviews and features for you! Between James and Erin, they are making sure that I’m getting new stories out for you!

So what projects am I working on? Wow, that is a LONG list! Here we go:

Death Silences a Gossip Queen – book six of the Lizzie Crenshaw series will find Lizzie and the gang investigating the death of an old friend as well as celebrating the wedding of Amelia Crenshaw, Lizzie’s mother. Deep, dark secrets of the victim will come to light, stirring up a whole pot of suspects. Did someone kill our Gossip Queen to keep their secret?

Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Stalkers Bite – this is a story I wrote almost three years ago for National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known as NaNo). I recently pulled the story out of the filing cabinet, blew off the dust, and shared it with a few people to see if it was worth saving. They all demanded I finish it! (Bossy people!) It is a bit darker than the Lizzie series, but still filled with humor. Plenty of twists, turns, explosions and broken noses. :)

Untitled book – I haven’t come up with a good title for this one yet. A simple request to help her friend, who is a private investigator, ends with two people shot, a dead body, corporate espionage, and a secretive husband. And that is just the first chapter!

Top secret project – I cannot divulge much about this one. But I promise plenty of laughs and a very good mystery. Trust me!

Plans for the blog: Erin and I have laid out a schedule for the blog: Mondays will be Teresa’s Diary Days – I will give you updates on projects and talk about whatever is on my mind. Fair warning, this could be a dangerous thing, especially if I am sleep deprived. I get very slap happy and goofy. Wednesdays will be special content days: interviews with authors or character interviews (similar to Lizzie’s interview with Patti Larsen’s Sydlynn). Fridays will be Book Review days with Erin. She reads almost as much as I do! I know she has been reading some wonderful mysteries, and I can’t wait for her to share the reviews!

So that’s it! Lots of things going on here. It will take us a week or so to get them going, so please be patient. Until then, if you have any questions or anything that you are just dying to know, please feel free to ask! I love hearing from you! You have no idea how big the smile on my face gets when I receive a message or email from a reader!

Teresa

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The life of an writer

I read a post this morning on a Facebook group I belong to for indie writers that has left me feeling sad. A young woman, Lauren Howard, has cancelled the release of her debut novel because of people who have not even read the story yet, but are giving her bad ratings on a website. http://laurenpippa.tumblr.com/post/58778318048/cancelling-the-release-of-learning-to-love 

(Forgive me, I’m not very good at posting links in a blog post, but I’m working on it!)

It saddens me that because of this, she has decided not to release her book. I personally have not read it, but from what I read on her blog, it sounds like she poured her heart and soul into it. I know exactly how she feels. Let me explain how hard this process is for a writer.

In August 2011, I started writing a story on this blog, Death of a Cantankerous Old Coot. It was just for a few friends and another Facebook group. They all encouraged me to publish it. I was a bit hesitant…ok, I was terrified. Publishing a book has always been a dream of mine, but to have the dream come close to reality was frightening. I did share it with a publisher, who liked the story, but they wanted me to make it longer. I didn’t agree; I felt it would take away from the story. So with the help of a good friend, who designed a cover and formatted it for me, I self-published the book on Amazon and Nook. Then I waited.

The waiting was the hard part. Sales were awful for the first four months. I had started my second book, Death Makes the Front Page, but with sales so bad, I was having second thoughts. But suddenly, sales took off and I felt brave enough to publish the next one. There are now five Lizzie Crenshaw mysteries that I have self-published, and I am working on a sixth one, plus two new series.

Every writer deals with rejection. We all struggle, hope and pray that our stories will be accepted by people. These stories are a part of us; they are our babies. We spend countless hours working on them. We give up precious family time, sleep, sanity (although many in my family question my sanity on a daily basis) to tell the type of story we want to share with others. Then we send it off to beta readers and editors, breathlessly and nervously waiting to find out what they think. We cringe at the notes we get back, scratching our heads at how we screwed up one part so much. We make the changes, send it to the editors and pray (writers pray a LOT) that people will enjoy our efforts.

With the help of friends, we spread the word of the upcoming release. Word of mouth helps writers tremendously. What happened to Lauren is a writer’s worst nightmare. What is worse about this situation is that the book has not even been released, yet people are giving it bad ratings and trashing her. She has tried to get help from the administrators of the website, but they say it is all within the rules.

Help a writer. Read their books, give an honest review. If you don’t like their books, explain why. Most writers do provide their email addresses, and we love hearing from our readers. Tell us what you like or don’t like about the story. I always read all the emails I get, and I pay close attention when they tell me there is something they don’t like. I do my best to fix the things they point out to me. They also send me great story suggestions, and I do use them!

I feel sorry for Lauren Howard. I hate that she isn’t going to publish her story, but I respect her decision. I hope that she writes another one and has the courage to publish it. I will be one of the first ones to read it when she does.

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What Happens When a Witch Meets a Reporter?

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Seems like our little Lizzie is trying to stay out of trouble these days. Instead of finding herself in a calamity, she’s been trying to get back to writing. While researching her latest novel, Lizzie realized she needed a source with intimate knowledge of all things magic. An inside source connected her with one of America’s most powerful witches, Sydlynn Hayle of the Hayle Coven Novels by Patti Larsen.  

Lizzie and Syd met for lunch and sat down to chat. Of course, as ladies are prone to do, the conversation quickly turned personal as they discussed everything from boys to dreams, and of course, magic.

Lizzie: Sydlynn, I have a question for you that I am pretty sure everyone is dying to know. What does magic feel like? Is it anything like butterflies in your stomach, because when I have those something is usually about to blow up.

Sydlynn: I used to have a lot of trouble with magic, thanks to my grandmother. When I was a baby, our coven came under attack and to protect her power, she embedded it in me. Only trouble, the fight—which she won—cracked her nut. Completely bonkers. So she forgot. And left me with a geas…

Lizzie: What’s a geas?

Sydlynn: It prevented me from using my magic without woofing cookies. Not so fun. But now that’s been taken care of… it’s really an amazing feeling. Depending on which power I’m using—I have access to many—the feeling is different. Using fire heats me up, air usually gives me goosebumps. But the best part is you can sense the whole world around you when you’re using magic. I love it now. How do you stay safe with no magic? I couldn’t imagine… normals have things so tough!

Lizzie: I don’t think I would be safe even with magic. I’m a natural born klutz. Put me in a car, I’m fine. But the moment I get out of the car, all bets are off. I do think being able to use magic would have been helpful when I got shot, though. Maybe I could have found a way to avoid that. What kind of powers do you have?

Sydlynn: Well, I was born a witch to a demon father, so both of those apply. So I have access to all the elements thanks to Mom and more fire power through Dad. I also have a reincarnated Sidhe (fairy) princess who hitchhikes along, named Shaylee, so my Earth power is enhanced. And I’m also home to the essence of all vampires (don’t ask—long story), so my spirit magic has a boost. Oh, and sorcery, the dark, devouring magic. It’s a bit of a balance, considering all of my magicks have personas who are rather vocal in their opinions. Good thing we work together so well or I’d have lost my marbles ages ago.

Lizzie: Didn’t having powers make high school difficult? What about college?

Sydlynn: It really, really did, especially when I wasn’t in control of them. My demon tried so hard to get out those days, while Gram’s geas kept my witch power pent up. Trouble is, bottling up magic just makes it more interesting when the top blows off.

Let’s just say it took a long time before I made any friends.

As for college, I was fortunate enough to go to Coven Hall at Harvard with other witches. So at least my magic wasn’t an issue. Being Sydlynn Hayle, daughter of the High Council Leader, on the other hand… life is never boring. How is it you always seem to be in the middle of a mystery? Trust me, I know the feeling.

Lizzie: When I moved back home, things were still relatively quiet. I spent most of my time working on my book, which I still haven’t finished. But ever since my crazy half-aunt killed my grandfather, my world has been turned upside down. Now, I always seem to find myself in the middle of a disaster. When you have a crazy aunt you are afraid wants to kill you, well…I could use a little extra fire power. Do you think having magic makes it easier to be brave?

Sydlynn: I can so relate. Seems like trouble just jumps out of the woodwork with my name written all over it. Sigh. I don’t know that having magic makes me braver. I just see something that needs to be done and fix it. Okay, so I’m a little impulsive. So far, so alive.

Lizzie: Not to sound like a college entrance essay, but how did magic help you get out of your worst situation?

Sydlynn: Considering magic often gets me INTO my worst situations? Yeah. Balance, right? And there are so many times to choose from… I’ll have to get back to you.

Lizzie: Living in a coven is probably a lot like living in a small town. Everyone knows your business, right? How do you cope with that? Everything I do gets spread around by the town gossip.

Sydlynn: Oh. My. Swearword. Used to drive me around the bend and into fits. Not only is the coven in my business 24/7 physically, they are magically, too. We’re all connected through the family power, which means if I’m not careful, they know what I’m thinking, doing… talk about embarrassing. There used to be a time they didn’t trust me, back when I couldn’t use my power. But, all that’s changed and I’ve come to love it, really. Taking over from Mom, being coven leader and finally understanding how important their support is makes a big difference. Family is everything. Yours sounds as convoluted as mine. How do you feel about them?

Lizzie: My father died when I was 18, but he was a wonderful man. I miss him every day. My mother is my rock. She may not always agree or approve of the things I do, but she stands by me through thick and thin. My grandmother, who left me her house, was a strong woman who taught me to stand up for what I believe in. My grandfather was a mean, spiteful man who thought he ruled the town because his family was one of the founders of Brookdale. If I learned anything from him, I suppose it would be how to treat people with respect. It was the one thing he could never do. As for my crazy half-aunt, I don’t think I’ve sorted out all my feelings about her yet. She put me through a lot the last few months. I’m still trying to sort through everything that happened. There’s also my extended family, my friends who have stood by me through thick and thin. I could live without the grief I get from the local gossip, though. And speaking of gossip, I hear you and I have a similar affliction. You have more than one guy after your heart. I’m caught between the man I think I love and my first love. How in the world do you choose?

Sydlynn: *sigh* In all honesty, there is only one man for me. We are destined for each other. Even have power tying us together. But that doesn’t mean the road is smooth sailing… and when he’s being a jerkasaurus, doing his own thing, I refuse to wait for him. So, there are lots of lovely men in my life  But I know Quaid is my fate. Tell me about this FBI agent? Is he cute? And your other love… I feel your pain! But what’s holding you back from choosing between them?

Lizzie: TJ is very cute, in a rugged, outdoorsman kind of way. Jake was my college sweetheart. I thought for sure that we would get married. But I didn’t like the way he was trying to micromanage my life. He was so busy planning out our future that he didn’t stop to ask me how I felt about it. I realized I didn’t want to live my life that way. When I found out that Jake was planning to promise me to at a party the night we graduated from college, I ran.

As for TJ, he is everything I could ever ask for in a man: kind, considerate, protective, a great listener, very passionate. He was working undercover as a deputy’s sheriff, and he was using me to get information about my crazy half-aunt. I was deeply hurt when I found out the truth, but I still saved his life when she tried to kill him. I love him, but I’m not sure if I can trust him again. Jake always has something up his sleeve, like an ulterior motive for everything he does. He tells me he’s changed, but I don’t know if that is true or not. Sometimes I still feel like he is trying to control a part of my life. With Jake, I always feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. What was it like to be forced into marriage?

Sydlynn: Well… it’s coven law, unfortunately. And while I fought it for as long as I could, I knew I had to choose. And Liam is lovely, truly lovely. My oak tree. Kind and supportive. No one seems to think he’s strong enough for me, but I love him and he’s good to me. That’s all that matters.

I have a cat Sassafras (well, he’s a demon boy in a silver Persian, but it still counts) and a dog Galleytrot (um… he’s a man forced to wear the body of a hound by the Wild Hunt. I have weird pets.) I take it you like animals, too?

Lizzie: Absolutely! I have two dogs. I guess you could consider them rescue dogs. Babe, the bloodhound, was my grandfather’s dog. His wife, Earline, hated Babe and was planning to turn her over to Animal Control. There was no way I was going to let that happen, so I impulsively said I would take her. Mittens, the Maltese, belonged to a friend who ran the local animal shelter. When her owner was killed in a case of mistaken identity, I brought Mittens home with me. She and Babe get along great. They helped me solve a case a couple of months ago. I can’t imagine my life without them.

Sydlynn: I live in a small town called Wilding Springs. It’s an… interesting place. What’s Brookdale like?

Lizzie: It’s a small Texas town. There aren’t a lot of big retail stores here, mostly Mom and Pop places that have been around for years. It is starting to grow a bit because people that have been living in the big city realize that small town life is better than the high crime rate in the Metroplex. The downside of living in a small town is, of course, the gossip. I can get into an argument with someone in the town square at 10:30 am, and by the time I go to my mother’s house at noon, she has heard four different versions of the story, and usually none of them the right one. Despite that, I love it here. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Lizzie: If you weren’t a witch, what would you do?

Sydlynn: At this point, I have no idea. I’ve fully embraced being a witch, coven leader. I’ve had a time or two where my magic has been taken away from me. The first time, I thought it was what I wanted. The second, I had to make a choice. Both times I realized just how wrong the whole situation felt.

So, if I couldn’t be a witch, I wouldn’t want to be. I’m going to turn this question around on you: if you could be anything, what would you do?

Lizzie: Bestselling author, of course! *laughs* Seriously, I’m not sure. I was given an opportunity to run the town newspaper for a few months, and I found myself really enjoying it. The owner, who left me in charge, has come back to town, and I’m not sure where I stand at the moment. I hope he will let me stay there so I can learn more about the business. If he doesn’t want me to stay, I might look for another newspaper job somewhere else. I’m open to anything right now, and I’ll go wherever life takes me.

Excuse me while I go have a total fan-girl moment. What I would not give to join these two for a lunch date.

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Want to know more about Syd and the Hayle Coven? Check out Family Magic, book one of the Hayle Coven Novels, on sale now for 99 cents.

Lizzie box set cover

And of course, The Lizzie Crenshaw Mysteries Box Set includes the first three Lizzie stories for 1.99.

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