Posted in Writing

Inspiration: Mittens the Wonder Dog

As I sit writing the next installment in the Lizzie Crenshaw Mysteries, I couldn’t help but think about Mittens. Many of you know Mittens as the dog Lizzie adopts following the murder of her caretaker, but many of you don’t know that Mittens is based on my own dog.

That’s why I’ve decided to repost this blog from a few years ago. Those of you who have read Death Takes the Blue Ribbon, part of the Unlucky 7 collection, will see where the inspiration for the cheesecake scene originated!

Mittens the Wonder Dog

IMAG00871Don’t let the name “Mittens” fool you: when we named her, I was thinking she was white with black paws or black with white paws. Nope, she was a round, fluffy ball of white fur. We got her in the spring of 1977 while we were living in Artesia, New Mexico, and she was a wonderful addition to our family of four. Poor Dad – outnumbered by women! (You should have heard the yelling over the phone when I told him he was having a grandson! Oy! But that is a story for another day.) What kind of dog was she, you ask? After all these years, I don’t think we have ever decided what she was. She was a little bit of this, a little bit of that, wrapped in a medium size bundle of energy, sloppy kisses and lots of love.

She spent her nights in the bathroom; so did Mother. Mittens whimpered and whined because she was all alone in there, so Mother would go in and hold her to calm her down. She fell asleep several times in the bathroom with Mittens in her arms, so naturally Mittens was Mother’s dog from the beginning. I wish I could find the picture Dad took of Mittens in the backyard: he put her inside this little red bucket and stepped across the yard to take a picture. All you see is this little white head peeking over the top of the bucket.

Everyone always says that their dogs are unique, and I am no different. The most unique thing about Mittens was her tail. She didn’t wag it from side to side; it went round and round like a helicopter blade. I often wondered, when I watched that tail spin, what would happen if she took flight. Wouldn’t that have been a sight to see!

One mistake Mother and Dad made was putting her doghouse on the other side of their bedroom window. They often said there was nothing like waking up to see a furry face staring at you in the window from the roof of her doghouse. But she didn’t always sleep outside. In fact, I think she only slept outside that first year. Most of my memories are of her sleeping on their bed every night. Sunday afternoons after church was (and still is) nap time. All you had to say was “nap”, and Mittens was on the bed before they were even in the bedroom. I should clarify something: she didn’t just sleep “on” the bed. Nine times out of ten, she was UNDER the covers, not on top of them. No, she wasn’t spoiled at ALL.

That first winter, she disappeared one day from the backyard. Now, the fence looked like the in and out weaving of a straw basket, and she wasn’t full grown at that time. We looked everywhere for her until we got a call from our minister and good friend who lived down the alley from us. “Are you missing your dog?” he asked us. We said yes, and he told us that Mittens was at their house visiting their cocker spaniel, Angel.  But we could not figure out how she got out. One day, Dad happened to look out back and saw her climbing the basket-weaved fence. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, but it was true. She was a sneaky one.

Since Dad is a minister, we moved a lot, but these moves never phased Mittens. She loved to ride in the car, usually in Dad’s lap, with one paw on the driver’s door. She always sat up front with them, rarely in the back with my sister and I. She preferred the view from the front.

Did I mention she was sneaky? Once Dad finished seminary, we moved back to New Mexico, to a little town called Jal. Our house was located right next to the church. There was a chain link fence with a nice sized yard for Mittens to run around. But she had the tendency to dig under the fence and get out. Apparently she couldn’t climb chain link. One Sunday, Dad was leading the evening service when he got a funny look on his face. I looked up the aisle, and there was Mittens, crawling on her belly, covered in mud from the rain we had earlier. Guess who got elected to carry her home? Guess who was wearing white pants at the time?

We moved forty miles up the road to Hobbs two years later. She was spoiled rotten by the people at Grandy’s restaurant. Whenever we went there, they always sent home chicken livers for her. She loved popcorn and grapes. But giving her jello was a funny sight to see. She would pick it up, flop it around inside her mouth, spit it out and look at us as if to say: “Are you kidding me? This stuff is gross!” The funniest memory I have of her involving food was the day of my high school graduation. Mother was making my favorite dessert, which has a pecan crust. She put it on the floor by the back door, hoping it would cool faster. A few minutes later, we heard “clink clink clink”, and discovered that Mittens had eaten half of the crust, had two paws in the dish and was polishing off the other half. We still laugh about that one.

We had a long foyer at the house in Hobbs that was linoleum. Mittens loved to chase tennis balls, and Dad would throw them toward that foyer almost every time. You could hear her toenails clicking on the floor, usually followed by a thud, which meant she had chased the ball to the door and slid right into it. It never phased her. She came running back with that ball, gave it to him, ready to go again. But she also loved to spend time sitting on the couch or in the recliner with us. She was a great snuggler.

I graduated from high school in 1986, and went my own way, so I didn’t get to see her as often as I would have liked. The rest of the family moved to El Paso in 1988, but by this time, Mittens was beginning to show her age. She was content to sit on her favorite blanket in a chair. I got married in the fall of 1990. Two months later, while my parents were on vacation in Colorado, and with my sister home with her, Mittens’ health took a turn for the worse. My sister took her to the vet, where they put Mittens to sleep. We buried her ashes in my grandmother’s home in Artesia, fifteen years after she first came into our hearts and our lives. We look back on those years with her with plenty of laughter. She will always be Mittens the Wonder Dog with the helicopter tail, climbing fences, chasing tennis balls and giving us all the love we could ever want.

Posted in Writing

Ask the Author

questionsAfter the release of Who Killed the Ghost in the Library? questions started coming in from my readers. I love to engage with my readers, so I opened my Facebook page up for questions.  You asked; I answered:

SPOILER ALERT: This Q&A contains plot information for my books. If you haven’t read them all, I recommend coming back once you’re done! 

Do you like blowing things up in your books because it’s illegal in real life?

You can blame my son for that. When I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November 2010, he kept asking me to blow things up, ram a truck into a house (he wanted the truck to go all the way THROUGH the house; we compromised and only went as far as the kitchen), and he wanted a car chase. This is the story Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Stalkers Bite.

I’d like to know where Randy’s (The Ghost Writer story) money comes from.

So would I! I need a loan to pay some bills! Seriously, I don’t know. But I’m sure we’ll find out in the next book, Who Killed the Ghost Writer?

Was Agatha so enamored with Stanley that she was willing to live with a dead man than to live her own life, or was she just stuck in the past?

I believe you hit the nail on the head, so to speak. She and Stanley had been together before he got married, and they stayed together for a few years even after that. I mean, Stanley IV and Cecilia were the children of their affair. Agatha gave him the children Amelia couldn’t, and she felt that entitled her to be the mistress of the manor, not Amelia. But Stanley truly loved his wife, and he was not about to walk away from his family to be with Agatha, and I think that drove her over the edge. He dies, Amelia signs the house over to Agatha and leaves town, and suddenly, Agatha has everything that she ever wanted.

What were her reasons for staying there?

She had what she wanted; she became mistress of the manor, and she had Stanley, even if he was a ghost. He couldn’t leave, and why would she leave? She had money, a huge house, and the man she loved. In her warped way, she had everything she ever wanted.

She had money to live her life. Did she think Amelia would stop the money? Or was she afraid that Amelia would come back and take over the house again?

As previously stated, she had everything she wanted. And with the story that Stanley IV was the one that killed her husband, there was no way that Amelia would risk her son’s future, so she did the only thing she could do. She allowed herself to be blackmailed by her husband’s mistress. Agatha knew that Amelia would keep paying in order to protect the family secret.

I want a sneak peek into Lizzie’s love life. Who will she choose?

This is something she is going to struggle with over the next couple of books, I think. She feels betrayed by T.J. because he used her to capture her crazy serial killer aunt, Debra Cosgrove. After what happened with Jake in college, it took her a while to open her heart again. T.J. stomped all over it. She still cares about him, but she’s not sure she wants to get involved with him again because she doesn’t know if she can trust him. As for Jake, he hasn’t really changed since their college days. He’s still trying to control things, and she knows it. She’s been making her own decisions and living her own life, and to give that up would be like cutting a piece of herself off. She knows Jake has ulterior motives, so she’s keeping him at arms’ length and watching him closely.

If Lizzie could do anything, and didn’t always find herself fighting crime, what would she do?

Despite her grumblings, I think she enjoys working at the newspaper. She’s starting to get the hang of it, and she’s surprised by how much she looks forward to going to work. Now if she could just get rid of Jake…

I love your Lizzie books. When is the next one coming out?

Soon! I’m writing a stand-alone Lizzie story for an anthology called Unlucky 7 (that’s what the anthology is called, not the Lizzie story). My contribution is Death Takes the Blue Ribbon. I will just say there is a pie-eating contest, and a death of someone we all know. I’m also hoping to get a second Lizzie story out before Christmas, Death Shoots the Sheriff (and no, it’s not Owen!).

I loved answering your questions! We’ll have to do this again soon!  If you have questions you’d like to see answered, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter!

Posted in Mystery, Writing

Friday’s Miscellaneous This and That

What a week it has been! Who Killed the Ghost in the Library? is really starting to take off. At the time of this post, it’s currently ranked #52 under Mystery, Thriller, Suspense/Crime Fiction/Murder! And it has eight 5-star reviews! I’m shocked, surprised and pleased beyond words. I put a lot of heart and soul into this book, and to have people embracing it like they are is just thrilling. One person told me that Cam is “a modern day, young Jessica Fletcher”, which is a wonderful compliment, because I grew up watching “Murder, She Wrote” with my mother. Someone else told me that the book was just as good as a Janet Evanovich book, also a compliment because I love Stephanie Plum! Cam did an interview this week on Christina Freeburn’s blog. You can read the interview here (and check out Christina’s mystery series while you’re there): Cam’s Interview

In case you think I’ve forgotten about Lizzie, I haven’t! I am currently working on a Lizzie story for a box set called Unlucky 7. The title of my story is Death Takes the Blue Ribbon. There are six other authors who will be joining me in this collection: Jamie Lee Scott, Scott Silverii, Fiona Quinn, Diane Capri , Hildie McQueen, and Vivi Anna. We are looking at a November publication date. I will let you know more as information becomes available. Death Takes the Blue Ribbon will be a stand alone book, so don’t worry about missing out on anything in the story line! But wait…that’s not the only Lizzie book coming out! I am also hoping to publish Death Shoots the Sheriff by Christmas! This one WILL continue the storyline, and will pick up a short time after the end of Death Catches a Killer. So if you haven’t read that one yet, you have plenty of time to get it!

On a more somber note: I would be remiss if I did not say something about the passing of Robin Williams. I first watched him on “Mork and Mindy”, and thought he was a wonderful comedian. I watched his show “A Night at the Met”, and I was amazed at how funny he was about his addiction, and life in general. I’ve seen many of his movies and his one-man shows on DVD, and I have shared the laughter that he brought me with my son. I guess I could relate to him because I make fun of the things that happen in my life. It’s a way to cope and deal with them. Laughter is the best medicine, but sometimes in the midst of the laughter, we can forget what causes the pain in the first place. Those that bring us the laughter often have the deepest pain. If you know someone who is going through a rough time, reach out to them, even if it’s just to say hello. Sometimes just listening to them talk about their hard day can help more than you know.

That’s it from me for today. Who knows what I’ll talk about next week! You’ll have to come back and find out!

Posted in Mystery, Writing

A Sneak Peak of Who Killed the Ghost in the Library?

I thought I would give you all an update on how things are going with my newest story (and series), Who Killed the Ghost in the Library? This will be my first full-length novel (currently 315 pages!), and I’m terribly nervous and excited about it.

8_days_logoI finished entering all the editing notes my beta readers/editors gave me, as well as my own notes, last night, and sent it off for the final read through. It looks like everything is still on track for an August 5th release date. That’s next Tuesday, folks!

It was suggested to me that I should share an excerpt from the story. This was followed by a discussion about what scene I should share with you. I hope you enjoy the part we picked out!

The advantage of riding in a patrol car with lights and sirens is that you get to your destination a lot faster without the fear of getting a ticket. We stopped in front of the nursing home twelve minutes later. There were three other patrol cars there, along with a couple of county sheriff’s cars. An ambulance was parked behind one of the county cars. Ignoring the wave of nausea that swept over me, I ran after Mike and Steve as they ran through the front door.

Nursing homes are like mazes, in my opinion, meant to confuse the mice so they can’t find their way to the cheese. Or in this case, to make sure that the people who lived there couldn’t find their way to the front door. We made a couple of wrong turns before we found the outdoor garden, which is in the center of the complex.

Grandma Alma was sitting in her wheelchair, being checked out by one paramedic while his partner checked out Walt, who was down on the ground. “Grandpa!” Mike said, rushing to his side.

“I’m alright,” Walt said.

He didn’t look alright. There was a bruise on his cheek, a gash on his forehead, and he looked pale. The paramedic treating him looked up at Mike. “I think he might have broken a hip.”

“What about her?” Mike said, pointing at Grandma Alma.

“Sprained wrist, nothing serious.”

Mike turned to the deputy that was standing nearby. “What happened here?”

“We got a call about an assault in progress. By the time we got here, your men were already searching for the suspect.”

His radio crackled. “Suspect in custody.”

“Have them bring him to us.”

The deputy nodded and relayed the message. “What happened, Ms. Alma?” Mike asked.

“I went back to my room to get my binoculars. Walt thought he spotted a bird’s nest in that tree over there,” she said, pointing to a nearby tree. “When I came back out, someone dressed in black was beating up your grandfather. He fell to the ground, and the person pulled out a knife and stood over him, ready to stab him. I rolled up behind him and started yelling and beating him with my cane.” She held up her cane, which was bent in half. “I might have gotten a bit carried away. Whoever it was gave up and ran off.”

“What were you thinking, Grandma?” I chided her. “You could have been killed.”

“I wasn’t about to sit by and be a helpless victim, young lady,” she said sternly. “You know me better than that!”

“She was great,” Walt said, smiling with pride.

My head started spinning again, and I sat down on the bench next to Grandma Alma’s wheelchair. “You smell like smoke,” she said, getting a good whiff of me.

“Sorry about that,” I said. “Someone tried to blow us up.”

I hope that’s grabbed your attention! You’ll just have to wait until Tuesday, August 5th to read the rest of Who Killed the Ghost in the Library?

Posted in Mystery, Writing

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!

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

What Happens When a Witch Meets a Reporter?


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.


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.

Posted in Life, Writing

Summer of Lizzie Tour: What’s Cookin’ at Eat it Or Starve

Detective Any true Lizzie fan knows that her favorite place to grab a bite is at the Eat It or Starve Cafe.  Lizzie secretly loves Maddie’s no nonsense attitude and trusts that Maddie knows exactly what dish Lizzie needs that day.

So, let’s check in with Brookdale’s resident chef to find out what she is cooking up today….

Bowl of nuts

Well, it looks like we just got in a whole mess of pecans. That means it’s time to whip up some fresh pecan pie. Don’t like it? Well too bad…

I always make my pies using my mother’s time-tested recipe. It surely is the best around. I must be feeling extra generous today because I am going to share the recipes for both our 8-inch and 9-inch pie.

Pecan Pie from Eat it or Starve: 

8 inch version:

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup Karo syrup

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup pecans, chopped
Mix together all ingredients and bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. To test doneness, best to cook about 50 to 55 minutes
9 inch version:
The 9 inch version is nearly the same, just a little bit bigger.
4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup Karo syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Mix together all ingredients and bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. To test doneness, best to cook about 50 to 55 minutes
Posted in Mystery, Writing

Summer of Lizzie: Meet the Characters

DetectiveFor anyone new to the Lizzie series, the best thing way to get started is to get to know the main players in Brookdale. There is an ever-evolving secondary cast of characters, but you can be sure you will see all of these faces around town (and in each Lizzie novella).

Elizabeth Crenshaw, aka Lizzie: Our heroine has returned home after several years away. Like all writers, she wants to write the next great American novel, or at least have a book published. Her father died years ago, but her mother, Amelia Crenshaw, recently eloped with a mysterious man no one in town has met yet. Lizzie’s own love life is rather complicated, with two men vying for her attention: T.J. Roosevelt, aka T.J. Reynolds, and Jake Mathias. Her grandmother left her the house she lives in, even though her estranged grandfather, Amos Gardner spent many years trying to regain ownership of the house. Lizzie currently works at the Brookdale newspaper with Jake.

T.J. Roosevelt (aka T.J. Reynolds): Lizzie first met T.J. at the murder scene of her grandfather, Amos Gardner. He was a new deputy who had been hired by Sheriff Owen Moore. Lizzie and T.J. clashed at first, but they eventually began dating. But the truth soon came out: T.J. was really an undercover FBI agent trying to get information on Lizzie’s half-aunt, Debra Cosgrove, who was suspected of being a serial killer. Needless to say, Lizzie broke up with him. T.J. is now considering retiring from the FBI and returning to Brookdale to become a deputy again.

Jacob “Jake” Mathias: Jake is Lizzie’s former college boyfriend. His family is from the East Coast, very wealthy and very influential. Jake is used to having his way, which caused problems in his relationship with Lizzie. He told her his plans for their life together, and on the day of their graduation, he planned to propose to her. But his best friend accidentally told Lizzie, and as soon as she walked across the stage, she loaded up her car and ran away. When Dale Gordon, the owner/editor of the Brookdale newspaper, left town after the death of his wife, he left Lizzie in charge of the newspaper and hired Jake to help her. Now Jake is determined to win Lizzie back.

Owen Greene: He is the local sheriff, and one of Lizzie’s childhood friends. He is a calm, level-headed man, but he hates her interference in his investigations. He knew about T.J.’s FBI undercover work, but he couldn’t tell Lizzie about it. His mother owns the Gentlemen’s Club, a place where the men of the town can get away and unwind for a while. His sister, Trixie (Lizzie’s best friend) is currently in charge of the club.

Trixie Green : Trixie is Owen’s younger sister and Lizzie’s best friend. A hopeless romantic, she was disappointed when T.J.’s secret was revealed…until Jake Mathias came to town. Now she is trying to make sure Lizzie hooks up with him, even though she is secretly interested in him for herself!

Gladys Norwell: Gladys is the town gossip. She knows everything that goes on in town. She takes great delight in giving Lizzie a hard time, but hates it when Lizzie gives it back as good as she gets it. Gladys is going to be joining us here on the blog to add in bi-weekly gossip. After all, she knows EVERYTHING that happens in town (or so she thinks)

Maddie: Maddie is the owner of the Eat it or Starve Café. She knows what all her regulars like to eat, and makes the best pies in the area. You will also spot Maddie taking over My Funny View of Life from time-to-time. She will be sharing the best recipes from Eat It or Starve.

There are so many people in Brookdale, but these are the ones who show up in every book. I’m working on bios for the characters to put up on the website, and that will fill in more information on everyone! If there is someone you want to ask me about, please leave me a message or send me an email! We’ll fill in the blanks!

That’s it for My Funny View of Life for this week’s stop. But be sure to head over to Paws and Print for a review of Lizzie’s first bookDeath of a Cantankerous Old Coot. Be sure to stop by to collect the secret word. You will need it at the end of tour to enter to win an Amazon Gift Card and other Lizzie goodies.

secret word: gossip


Posted in Mystery, Writing

Upcoming books…

In case you missed it, my fourth book, Death Goes to the Dogs, was published in December, and I immediately started work on the fifth book, Death Catches a Killer. I took time off for the holidays, but the day after I returned from my Christmas vacation, I came down with the flu and a severe case of bronchitis, which knocked me on my behind for three weeks. I’m still dealing with side effects of this, so I haven’t done much writing. I am slowly getting back into the swing of things, I promise!

I am hoping to have book five out by April (keep your fingers crossed). While you are looking forward to that release, I am excited to tell you that I have started a NEW series! I’m still working out the details for that one, but I have started writing it. I’m not sure when the release date will be, but I promise to keep you posted here as well as on my Facebook page,

And if that isn’t enough to get you excited, how about a THIRD series?! Yes, you read that right: I will be writing THREE series! The third series is a garage sale mystery series inspired by my mother and her best friend, who go to garage sales year round, weather permitting. My mother suggested the idea to me several months ago, and while I was with her at Christmas, we worked on the details about the story and some of the characters. If I don’t start writing it soon, she might disown me (love you, Mom!)

Stay tuned to this page or my Facebook page. I’ll give you more details about all three series as they become available. As always, I am open to any story suggestions you might have. If I use your idea, I will mention you in the acknowledgements!

Posted in Mystery, Writing

Why I write my stories the way I do…

I have a feeling that some people wonder why I write my novellas the way I do: without the hot, heavy sex scenes or the gory death scenes. Well, for starters, let me clarify that I don’t mind a good, gory death scene. I love war & western movies, action flicks, disaster movies, etc. I mean, who doesn’t like seeing L.A. or N.Y. laid to waste (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow)?

That said, my feeling is that the story gets lost in all the explosions, shootings, the seduction and love scenes. Romance is great, please don’t get me wrong. But what about the rest of the story? In my case, I write mysteries. I love trying to figure out whodunit. I grew up reading Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Agatha Christie (with a Stephen King book throw in just for variety. I will NEVER look at a gutter the same way again after reading It). Those books were about the mystery: the red herrings, finding a new clue, escaping from danger (Ned coming to rescue Nancy was always good!).

I’m sure this makes me sound like an old fuddy duddy. People don’t call me Pollyanna for nothing!

To me, a mystery keeps you guessing about who the villain of the story is. Who killed the victim? Why did they do it? Was it revenge? Was the victim blackmailing someone? Was it a crime of passion? My job as a writer is lead you to the reason, while throwing up a few dead ends along the way. You don’t want me to tell you who did it on page 1, do you?

I realize that not everyone is going to like my stories because they aren’t heavy on the romance. I mean, seriously, if you’re reading my books because you think there are some hot & heavy love scenes, you’ve come to the wrong place! But I can direct you to some writers who are very good at that sort of thing.

If you are looking for mystery with a sense of humor, then pull up a chair and grab a book!