New Title – Arsenic and Adobo

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ARSENIC AND ADOBO

By Mia P. Manansala

Part of A Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery

Paperback, $16.00

Berkley

May 4, 2021, 336 pages

One of BuzzFeed’s Highly Anticipated Mystery Novels of 2021!

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mia P. Manansala is a writer from Chicago who loves books, baking, and badass women. She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture.

She is the winner of the 2018 Hugh Holton Award, the 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, the 2017 William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy scholarship. She’s also a 2017 Pitch Wars alum and 2018-2019 mentor.

Book Review – When the Dog Bites by Glen Ebisch

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Title: When the Dog Bites

Author: Glen Ebisch

Publisher: Cozy Cat Press

Series: A Madison Revere Mystery

Format: trade paperback, 167 pages

Published on:

Set in: New Jersey Shore

Received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Lawyer Madison Revere can now add one more brick in the “I can’t believe my life lately” wall. Not only is she dealing with the rudeness of one of her firm’s senior partners, but her friend’s dog bit a man on the leg when she took him for a short walk. The only good thing to come out of the dog bite situation was the man asked her out on a date. Though, Luke Manning seems to have a couple of issues and one is telling the truth.

Shortly after Madison is assigned a will and estate case of the late Edna Mercer, she walks to the restaurant where she’s going to meet Luke. She can’t help thinking that she’s being followed. If that isn’t enough to make you concerned, after her best friend Cindy returns home from a romantic weekend, she’s injured by a stranger. So now Madison is looking over her shoulder concerned that someone wants to harm her. Why? She really has no idea yet. It could be the neighborhood is unsafe or a past client wants to scare her. Each time, she reports these incidents to the local police.

The more she works on the Mercer file, the more dangerous situations occur. Rather than work alone in the office, she takes her work home with her. She feels that a contractor might be trying to get even for a lost job. When another suspicious act follows shortly after, there’s no denying she and the firm are a target.

WHEN THE DOG BITES was a fast read, with an intelligent protagonist who has to deal with a lot of pressure to gain standing and respect at her firm. That’s pretty much how it is in the business world. While you read this book you know the will and estate is at the center of Madison’s troubles. Like any good mystery author Ebisch leads you to believe there are various possible guilty parties. Could it be one of Edna’s relatives? The contractor? The demanding law firm partner? You’re going to have to read the book to find out. I received the next two books in the series. Can’t wait to read them.

three and a half frazzled lawyers out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

April 27, 2021

Berkley New Title – Historical Fiction – The Social Graces

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ABOUT THE SOCIAL GRACES

Named one of 2021’s Most Anticipated Historical Novels by SheReads ∙ Frolic ∙ BookReporter ∙ and more!

The author of Park Avenue Summer throws back the curtain on one of the most remarkable feuds in history: Alva Vanderbilt and the Mrs. Astor’s notorious battle for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.

1876. In the glittering world of Manhattan’s upper crust, women are valued by their pedigree, dowry, and, most importantly, connections. They have few rights and even less independence—what they do have is society. The more celebrated the hostess, the more powerful the woman. And none is more powerful than Caroline Astor—the Mrs. Astor.

But times are changing.

Alva Vanderbilt has recently married into one of America’s richest families. But what good is dizzying wealth when society refuses to acknowledge you? Alva, who knows what it is to have nothing, will do whatever it takes to have everything.

Sweeping three decades and based on true events, this is the mesmerizing story of two fascinating, complicated women going head to head, behaving badly and discovering what’s truly at stake.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Renée Rosen is the bestselling author of Park Avenue Summer, Windy City Blues, White Collar Girl, What the Lady Wants and Dollface. She is also the author of Every Crooked Pot, a YA novel published in 2007. Renée lives in Chicago.NOTE – GWN is going to review this book in the near future. 

Guest Blog Post – What’s Love Got To Do With It? by Victoria Thompson

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My first twenty published books were historical romances, so when I switched to writing mysteries, I got a lot of advice from a lot of people, who said mainly:  Mystery readers don’t like romance in their books.

Could this possibly be true? Frankly, I doubted it, so I put it to the test.  In my first mystery, I introduced midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy.  Two more opposite creatures hardly exist.  Sarah was the straight-laced daughter of a wealthy family who eloped with a lowly doctor and, now widowed, makes her living as a midwife. Frank Malloy is Irish Catholic and a member of the corrupt New York City Police Department. By historical romance standards, this is a match made in heaven, but how will they fare in a mystery?

In the first book, Murder on Astor Place, they start out hating each other and end up respecting each other but knowing they’ll most likely never meet again. Ha! But I’m jumping ahead. First, I had to see what the fans thought about this unlikely pair. And when the fan mail started coming in, the letters were nicely complimentary (i.e. great plot, never guessed the killer, yada, yada), but they all said, P.S. When are Frank and Sarah getting together?

So much for mystery readers not liking romance.

Frank and Sarah had a long courtship, from the readers’ perspective anyway. It took them fifteen books (=fifteen years!) to get together, but in their time, it was only two years. Now they’re happily married and still solving mysteries, but I’m still throwing in a little romance now and then.

One of the new victims of a romance is fan-favorite Black Jack Robinson.  In my new Gaslight Mystery, Murder on Wall Street, we get to visit with him again.  In previous books, gangster Jack was first a suspect in a murder investigation, and then, having proven his worth, he became a friend to Frank and Sarah. Sarah rewards him by introducing him to a society girl who is desperate enough to marry a gangster and help him become respectable. Sarah’s matchmaking efforts have paid off handsomely. Jack and Jocelyn are now in love and Jocelyn is soon going to give birth, but tragedy strikes. Jack becomes a suspect in a murder investigation, and Frank and Sarah must find the real killer before scandal destroys Jack’s new family.

So, in Murder on Wall Street, all those readers who proved they do like a little romance in their mysteries will get to see Frank and Sarah solving another mystery that saves Jack and Jocelyn from scandal, Black Jack and his bride overcoming new difficulties, and they’ll also get to see Jack dealing with a newborn infant, a brand new love story. What’s love got to do with it?  A lot.

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Victoria Thompson is the Edgar and Agatha Award nominated author of the Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt, and the Counterfeit Lady series, featuring con artist Elizabeth Miles. She also contributed to the award-winning writing textbook Many Genres/One Craft. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.  Follow her on Facebook at Victoria.Thompson.Author and on Twitter @gaslightvt.  Visit her webpage www.victoriathompson.com.

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Midwife Sarah Brandt Malloy and her detective husband, Frank, must discover who killed a prominent—but despised—society banker before an innocent family is destroyed in Murder on Wall Street, an all-new Gaslight Mystery in the USA Today bestselling series.

Reformed gangster Jack Robinson is working hard to bolster his image in Gilded Age New York City society as he prepares to become a new father. But when Hayden Norcross, the man who nearly ruined his wife, is shot in cold blood, Jack knows the police will soon come knocking on his door. Frank Malloy has to agree—things don’t look good for Jack. But surely a man as unlikeable as Hayden had more than a few enemies. And it’s soon clear that plenty of the upper echelon as well as the denizens of the most squalid areas of the city seem to have hated him.

Sarah and Frank have their work cut out for them. As the daughter of the elite Decker family, Sarah has access to the social circles Hayden frequented, and the more she learns about his horrific treatment of women, the more disturbed she becomes. And as Frank investigates, he finds that Hayden had a host of unsavory habits that may have hastened his demise. But who finally killed him? Sarah and Frank must put the pieces together quickly before time runs out and Jack’s hard-won new life and family are ripped apart.

Book Reviews and Guest Blog Posts

Do you have a cozy or culinary mystery newly on the shelves or even a few years old but still available? GWN is interested in reviewing it. Paperbacks and hardcovers preferred. Email me at: Netera@aol.com. Subject Line: BOOK REVIEW REQUEST. I do have a TBR list, but I keep on adding to it. Interested in writing a guest blog post? E-mail me and tell me the topic. You can also direct message me on Facebook: Denise Fleischer https://www.facebook.com/denise.fleischerauthor or Gotta Write’s Facebook page. Feel free to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/451178589395052

New Title from Berkley – Dial A For Aunties!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–Jesse Q. Sutanto – photo by Michael Hart.

DIAL A FOR AUNTIES (Berkley Trade Paperback Original: April 27, 2021) By Jesse Q. Sutanto.

What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family?

You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

Jesse Q Sutanto grew up shuttling back and forth between Indonesia, Singapore, and Oxford, and considers all three places her home. She has a Masters from Oxford University, but she has yet to figure out how to say that without sounding obnoxious. Jesse has forty-two first cousins and thirty aunties and uncles, many of whom live just down the road. When she’s not writing, she’s gaming with her husband (mostly FPS), or making a mess in the kitchen with her two daughters.

Blog Tour Spotlight – Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr By Holly Bell

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Holly Bell offers the following excerpt from her novel, “Amanda Cadabra and

The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr.”

Chapter 1

The Road to Kernow

“The pretty mist,” the old woman’s voice echoed in Amanda’s mind. It was hard to see through the fog that was now brown, now purple, now mustard yellow … sickly sweet. She stretched out her little three-year-old hand. Suddenly it was dark. She was outside on the Moor. Amanda knew it by the scents. But not entirely dark. Smoke was boiling up into the night. A building was aflame and then … a blinding flash.

With a gasp, Amanda woke up. Calm but concerned tones came from her right, asking,

“Are you all right, Miss Cadabra?”

“Er ….” The sound of the familiar Ford Mondeo’s engine purred comfortingly. She looked with relief at the motorway, its green embankments flying by, and then turned her head. There was the pleasant face of Detective Inspector Thomas Trelawney of the Devon and Cornwall Police, at the wheel beside her. Amanda pushed her long mouse brown hair off her face and exhaled. “Yes, yes, thank you. I’m fine.”

“Bad dream?”

“Yes … except ….”

“Do you want to tell me? It might help.”

“Thank you. I wonder … I’m afraid I do have a tendency to fall asleep on long car journeys,” Amanda admitted apologetically.

“So I gather,” said Trelawney with a smile, and a quick glance at her from hazel eyes, which then looked straight back at the road ahead. “That’s why I always make sure we’re equipped with a cushion.”

“And most kind of you it is.”

“My pleasure. Well? What was the “except …?” he prompted.

“I was back in that dungeon-crypt place at Cardiubarn Hall with my homicidal forebears. That day of the spell.”

“When you were three? The spell designed to cause your asthma?”

“That’s the one,” confirmed Amanda. “And then suddenly I was on the Moor at night.”

“Bodmin?”

“Yes, and it was pitch dark, but then it wasn’t because there was smoke. And then I saw a building on fire and a bright, bright light.”

Trelawney raised his eyebrows.

“That sounds startling. No wonder you woke up.”

“Yes, and I’m wondering if it’s been set off by where we’re going. Maybe I’m picking up something?”

“Could be. Although, we don’t yet know anything about this story about Lucy that Mike’s going to tell us.”

“True.” Amanda looked over her shoulder at Tempest.

The furry heap of storm greys was enthroned on a tiger-print velvet blanket, citrine stare aglitter. Nearing the Tamar River, the ancient border between Kernow, the land of Cornwall, and the rest of Britain, Amanda’s feline familiar was on proximity alert.

The yellow of his eyes was echoed by the golden flecks in Amanda’s own blue gaze: flecks that expanded into islands, then continents, of brown around her pupils, when in the presence of magic. It was a tell she went to some lengths to conceal with glasses when necessary. It was easy enough in her furniture restoration workshop, where she wore close work lenses anyway. But that cosy retreat was getting further and further away, as they crossed the miles from her beloved village of Sunken Madley, sitting snugly amidst the trees near the Hertfordshire border.

“How close are we to the crossing?” Amanda asked.

“Only a few miles.”

Long ago, Granny and Grandpa had made her promise never to cross the River without them. Although they were in vulgar parlance “dead,” they made sure to visit from the plane of existence they now inhabited, whenever Amanda had need of their counsel or company.

Consequently, Senara Cadabra, née Cardiubarn, could now be observed seated bolt upright on the back seat, tucking a hairpin more tightly into her white victory roll. She and Perran Cadabra, a tall, grey-haired, mild-mannered man, were flanking Tempest. Granny and Tempest were pointedly ignoring one another, as they did whenever possible. He had still never forgiven Senara, in particular, for dragging him into reincarnation on that long malodorous night when Amanda was fifteen. Perran had had just as much to do with it, but Tempest considered Senara to be the instigator, and that was that.

Amanda smiled at them, then opened the window a little. Her heightened senses detected the aroma of Dartmoor to the right, the north, the sight and sound of gulls in the distance, and the tang of the sea from The Channel to the south. Trelawney slowed down with the change in speed limit, well in advance of the crossing, opening his own window and letting the fresh air ruffle his suitably short, light brown hair.

Before them, it reared up, the towering verticals of the Tamar Bridge suspended across the expanse between Plymouth to the east and Saltash to the west. There was the sign:

Kernow a’gas dynergh – Welcome to Cornwall.

They were across. There was a ripple in the ether. Amanda Cadabra had returned to the home shores of her birth. Whoever was left of the Cardiubarn and Flamgoyne witch-clans felt it, knew it, and stirred uneasily.

Only a few miles south of the A38, which they now travelled, was a smaller road, a road with a treacherous bend. Amanda had been adopted by her loving grandparents after the assassination of the rest of her extremely unpleasant family, the Cardiubarns. They had met their end in a minbus that had crashed on the Cornish rocks beneath the sharp curve in the road. It was that unsolved multiple murder that had brought the inspector into the lives of the Cadabras. The case was only very recently resolved.

Now he and Amanda were on their way to see Former Chief Inspector Hogarth, Trelawney’s mentor and friend and her honorary uncle. Because it was time. Time to hear it:

Lucy’s story.

Guest Blog Post – A Girl and Her Ghosts By Lucy Ness

PHANTOMS AND FELONIES | Berkley Prime Crime | On sale April 6, 2021

I clearly remember the day. I was maybe eight or nine, sitting in the dining room of our family home when my mom arrived with the groceries. In those days, supermarkets offered a special perk–one volume of an encyclopedia set every week–and she’d picked up the newest one when she shopped. It was the volume for “G” and I flipped it open, and landed on the entry for Ghosts.

Sure, I’d probably heard ghost stories before that. Maybe I’d even read some in kids’ books. Absolutely, we celebrated Halloween and all those fun things that go bump in the night.

But this particular entry in the encyclopedia struck a chord. Maybe because it was in such an official book. Maybe because it included a water-color painting in full color–oozy blues, faded greens, a bright spark of gold at the center—that illustrated the story of a ghost people reported seeing carrying a lantern and walking back and forth in front of a window in a house in England.

Just thinking about it sent chills racing through me!

That is until the encyclopedia writers debunked the whole thing as the reflection of the lights of passing cars in the old, distorted glass.

I wasn’t just disappointed, I was outraged!

How dare they lead me to believe something so interesting—something so absolutely enthralling—only to pull the paranormal rug out from under me?

Once hooked, though, always hooked, and I didn’t let it go. I read ghost books, listened to friends who told tales of haunted houses and mystical happenings, spun spooky stories in my head.

These days, of course, there are plenty of ways to feed an interest in ghosts. I’ve participated in ghost hunts, explored old cemeteries, and toured haunted locations including the Mansfield Reformatory, a closed prison and supposedly the most spirit-packed place in Ohio, where I was once alone in the unused shower room when someone ran his fingers through my hair.

These are the kinds of experiences that feed a writer’s imagination and when I toured a women’s club in Akron, Ohio and learned there was once a speakeasy in the basement, the pieces clicked and I saw the opportunity to have fun with a topic I love to explore.

The Haunted Mansion mysteries were born. The heroine of the books, Avery Morgan, is the business manager of a women’s club much like the one I visited, and just like in that house, there is a speakeasy in the basement. My speakeasy, though, comes with a bonus–the ghost of Clemmie Bow, once hired as a singer and killed before she had a chance to go on stage.

Scary?

Far from it! Clemmie is an unthreatening as a ghost can get, a smart and sassy young woman who has plenty to say about the living who come and go through the club. In the first book of the series, “Haunted Homicide,” Avery’s not exactly thrilled to find out she can communicate with spirits, but she comes to rely on Clemmie’s quick wits and her ghostly help when the club president is murdered.

Now the second book in the series, “Phantoms and Felonies” is on the shelves, and Avery and Clemmie are back to sleuthing. The club is hosting a murder mystery dinner designed to re-ignite interest in members and draw in new members. The plan might actually have worked if the play’s star, Bob Hanover, wasn’t found dead in the speakeasy in the middle of the play.

Avery and Clemmie have to work fast, especially when Avery’s Aunt Rosemary arrives. Rosemary is a medium and she’s determined to find out who’s haunting the old mansion.  Clemmie isn’t thrilled about having her privacy invaded, and the last thing Avery wants to have to admit to her aunt is that she has the Gift.

It all results in a twisted and dangerous investigation that includes a seance.

True to life?

I’ll let readers decide. I will say that I once attended a seance for research and heard from some long-gone ancestors while I was there! It may not have been quite as dramatic as the one in “Phantoms and Felonies,” but that seance left it’s impression…and kept me interested in that spook-tacularly fascinating subject ignited by a long-ego encyclopedia entry.

 


BOOK REVIEWS AND GUEST BLOG POSTS

Do you have a cozy or culinary mystery newly on the shelves or even a few years old but still available? GWN is interested in reviewing it. Paperbacks and hardcovers preferred. Email me at: Netera@aol.com. Subject Line: BOOK REVIEW REQUEST. I do have a TBR list, but I keep on adding to it. Interested in writing a guest blog post? E-mail me and tell me the topic. You can also direct message me on Facebook: Denise Fleischer https://www.facebook.com/denise.fleischerauthor or Gotta Write’s Facebook page. Feel free to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/451178589395052

Book Review – The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

Title: The Vineyard at Painted Moon

Author: Susan Mallery

Publisher: HQN

Format: Hardcover, e-book, 361 pages

Published on: Feb. 9, 2021

Set in: Walla Walla, Washington

Received the book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review

Review may contain spoilers

Bel Apre’s Winery had weathered the elements and nearly 60 years of harvests. Barbara, the family’s matriarch, worked beside her late husband, James, to keep the struggling winery in business. In the past, Barbara was unfamiliar with the winemaking process, but she learned and soon the business began to prosper. In time, Barbara became the general manager.

After James died and their children were adults, they were joined by their spouses to continue building their family business. Rhys was the vineyard manager, Stephanie handled retail, though her heart was in marketing, Catherine (Four) continued to be a free spirit and non-conformist and Lori did the bookkeeping and just plain agreed with her mom and yearned to be loved. But it was Rhys’ wife, MacKenzie, who became the elite winemaker, that truly added to the quality and worth of the winery. She was the one closest to Rhys’ demanding mother.

All was sailing along smoothly until Rhys could no longer accept that he and MacKenzie had no physical relationship. Though that didn’t stop him from hopping in bed with her after years apart. Immediately after, he asks poor MacKenzie for a divorce although he felt terrible about it. MacKenzie who was for years a vital part of the family is suddenly thrust into a whirlwind of change. She certainly couldn’t work there any longer. She’d have to find a new home and job. Not only would she be losing Rhys, but his family as well. Then again, thanks to James’ will and Barbara’s insistence, MacKenzie was considered an employee and not an owner. Digging deeper into the wound, Rhys wants her to get a lawyer so they can proceed without delay. This immediately leads the reader to think that he’s already got a girlfriend or is going to get one. Though he seems supportive, he doesn’t change his plans.

MacKenzie finds herself at a crossroads. This is probably the best opportunity for her to change the course of her life. Even though there are unexpected situations there’s a good chance she can follow her dreams and that’s what will lead her to Painted Moon and a family of her own. 

I loved this book, not because it was a fast read, but because it showed a positive outcome after a husband says “it’s over.”  MacKenzie made some tough decisions that you knew would work in her and her business partner’s advantage. She took a chance on buying an established property in an area heavy in competition, but she believed in herself and her wine-making skills. Her ex was left to inherit his family business. Along with that reality is the fact that as long as his mother was alive she was going to make his life and that of his siblings difficult. Barbara became a bitter woman and only got angrier by the day having lost MacKenzie. What bothered me was that she saw her as a betrayer. I wondered if MacKenzie even mentioned to Barbara that Rhys asked for the divorce. Also, there was no character growth for Barbara. She simply refused to accept MacKenzie leaving. For that reason, she will probably be miserable the rest of her life. I was glad that one of Rhys’ sisters was brave enough to improve the quality of her life. 

Four wine barrels out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

April 14, 2021

Guest Blog Post – Wondering About Wagtail by Krista Davis

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The question I am asked most about my Paws & Claws Mysteries is whether Wagtail really exists. If you’re not familiar with Wagtail, it’s a small town in the mountains that people used to go to for the natural spring water and the cooler air in the summer. But tourism slowed so much that they had to reinvent themselves and Wagtail became the number one destination for people who want to travel with their pets.

In Wagtail, dogs and cats are welcome everywhere. Even inside restaurants which have special menus for them! You can take your dog to the lake for a swim or get a manicure while your cat’s nails are trimmed. There are animal acupuncturists and masseuses, and stores that cater to their every desire. You can see why readers are eager to pack up their precious pets and take a trip to Wagtail.

Unfortunately, Wagtail, or a place like it, doesn’t exist yet. There are some dog bars where Fido can romp with other dogs while you get a drink. From Seattle to Omaha, and Charlotte to St. Petersburg they’re popping up all over the place. Rumor has it that they’re the place to go on a date! Can a real Wagtail be far behind?

But for now, you’ll have to travel to Wagtail from your couch, with Fido or Mitzi curled up next to you. Luckily, there’s a new book out, Big Little Spies! Because if you’re a dog or cat parent, you know they’re keeping tabs on you. They even know your secrets!

Guest Blog Post – Writing During A Global Pandemic By Laurie Cass

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Last year, when the world was changing at a frantic pace, I was in the middle of writing CHECKING OUT CRIME. My day job is in the public sector, so for weeks upon weeks I was working from dawn to dusk and beyond, making sure we were doing all we could to keep the public safe and to keep our employees and their families safe. Doing my absolute best to keep up with the firehose of information. Working extremely hard to make sure we were complying with the constantly changing rules, regulations, and protocols. And, oh yeah, doing all the job normal duties.

As you might imagine, my writing had to take a back seat. I wanted to write—longed to do so—but the mental capacity just wasn’t there. Then one evening, in late spring, I left the office and wasn’t completely exhausted. Huh. Maybe it was time to start writing again. After all, there was this thing called a deadline and it was rapidly approaching.

Once I was home and fed, I fired up my laptop and read over what I’d written a lifetime ago, back in the pre-COVID days. But…so many things in the manuscript seemed odd. My characters weren’t socially distancing. They weren’t wearing masks. They weren’t arguing about politics or science. They didn’t seem to be washing their hands nearly enough and they were assembling in large multi-household groups whenever they pleased.

So…now what should I do? Should I or shouldn’t I wrap COVID-19 into the manuscript? I could rewrite, incorporating all the protocols into every action. Or I could rewrite and refer to the pandemic as a thing of the past.

I pushed back from the computer and went for a walk, thinking hard. And when I returned, I knew what I was going to do, which centered on the fact that I write fiction. The world in my books is a world of my own creation, and that world has not endured, and is not enduring, a global pandemic. It’s a world I love to visit, and I hope you will, too.