Deco Desk Mystery, Book 1
Date Published: August 24, 2021
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Jamie Whitehall Olivian has received a mysterious letter from her Uncle James. She is named after him, but she has never seen, met, or heard him mentioned in any way.
And he has died and left her his entire estate. But it seems Uncle James wants her to investigate a murder.
His, that is.
It also seems the estate is contingent upon her acceptance of this commission. Jamie wants no part of the investigation or of the estate. She gets along perfectly well, thank you very much, a fact she emphasizes to his lawyer, who just happens to be gorgeous, making it a little harder to say no.
Things take a strange turn when the victim himself asks her to reconsider. For reasons unknown, Uncle James has been unable to depart for the afterlife and is stuck in his Art Deco desk.
Jamie decides to take on the job of niece and sleuth, with no experience at either, and she and Uncle James set out to find the killer. They are aided by the lawyer and a not-as-gorgeous and slightly rumpled homicide detective whose interest seems to be more than just finding a murderer.
If you live in Southern California, you’re either a writer or an actor, right? As Professor Emerita from California State University, Long Beach, Loran Holt chose the writing path. Third Times the Harm is one of the results of her efforts, the first book of a series featuring reluctant sleuth, Jamie Whitehall Olivian. Holt is also the author of Nightmasters: Doubles Talk, a sword-and-sorcery epic, published by Acorn, as well. You will find her non-fiction, film-and-fashion books under the name Lora Ann Sigler.
“Who’s up for dessert?” Rising, I changed the subject.
Dennis followed me, “I’ll help you bring it out.”
Not wanting to make a scene, I gave in and let him accompany me to the kitchen. I expected the third degree. What I didn’t expect was what I got.
With a smothered exclamation I couldn’t translate, Dennis wrapped both arms around me like an anaconda, and, pressing me to the back of the kitchen door, proceeded to kiss me like a man drowning. After a few seconds, I was the one drowning. I had somehow forgotten how to use my lungs, and very quickly my knees followed suit. If he hadn’t been leaning into me with the full Monty, I would have slithered to the floor like that same anaconda.
Finally regaining some sanity, and in desperate need of air, I pushed him slightly away. Only slightly, I’m not crazy–and did a little gasping.
He must have noticed what I had noticed; because his face pinked, and he moved in the dessert direction, clearing his throat. “I guess the plates should go in now.” Giving me a hint of dimple, he added, “Well, you did ask who was up for dessert.”
I never thought I’d be a novelist, much less a USA Today and Amazon bestseller. I wish I could say that I was an overnight success, but it’s taken years to hone my skills because I am self-taught. The extent of my writing education was to crack open a bestselling novel (with a glass of wine by my side), highlight important passages and transitions, and then mimic the authors’ style. At some point, I found my own voice, and it was magical. I could have cut years off my learning curve if I had access to the online information that is available now. While I love the energy of in-person education, I found two intriguing options for writers, whether they are new or experienced. Maybe one will be right for you.
‘Ninety-Day Novel’ walks you through finishing your first book in three months. There are weekly in person Zoom meetings, recorded lessons, and exercises landing in your mailbox to help you along. It doesn’t get more hands on than this.
‘Masterclass’ is awesome. This platform provides virtual classes taught by award-winning authors such as Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell, and James Patterson to name just a few. Masterclass will elevate your work, and as an added bonus you’ll learn how to get your finished work published.
CreativeLive is perfect for authors who are feeling pretty good about their craft but are looking for practical advice. No celebrity authors here. Rather, you’ll be learning from entrepreneurs, bloggers, and online personalities.
This September take a cue from the kids. Get back to school and learn from the people who wrote the books on writing. You won’t even need a backpack!
*These links are for information only. Masterclass is $15.00 a month billed annually. Ninety-Day Novel is donation based, with $1,000 being suggested but $500 being the least amount accepted. Creative Live is $13.00 a month.
H.O. Charles is an Amazon Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy author of The Fireblade Array – a #2 best-selling series across Kindle, iBooks and B&N Nook in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy categories (#1 would just be showing off, right?) Okay, it did hit #1 in Epic Fantasy in all those places . . . BUT DON’T TELL ANYONE because no one likes a bragger.
Though born in Northern England, Charles now resides in a white house in Sussex and sounds like a southerner. Charles has spent many years at various academic institutions, and cut short writing a PhD in favour of writing about swords and sorcery instead. Hobbies include being in the sea, being by the sea and eating things that come out of the sea. Walks with a very naughty rough collie puppy also take up much of Charles’ time.
The pandemic had done something for writers far beyond our normal expectations—brought us closer together through zoom, messenger, virtual conferences, etc. (the list could fill a journal). Group members who moved beyond borders could join in regular sessions, again. Concepts exchanged and stories created with more help than preconceived prior to the shutdowns, shut-ins, and quarantines. A writer’s world no longer had to remain solitary.
The amount of meetings grew exponentially last year to escape the realities outside our own walls. We continued to stare at flat images of the people we used to associate with in person, missing the contact, but willing to sacrifice to stay connected. Writers who guarded works in fear that another could steal their premise, now shared on screen—something most wouldn’t have done pre-Covid-19.
Virtual conferences replaced the normal frenzy of booking transportation, accommodations, and higher fees. Networking parties turned to impersonal chat rooms. Pitches changed from connecting with the agent or editor who could take our novels to the next phase, to remaining quiet on the screen by sitting on hands hoping we said enough. The ease with which we introverted writers pivoted to accept them was profound.
However, without the personal contact, I missed the sizzle. The anticipation of a conference and the creative buzz around the banquets would energize me for months. I took the risk, vaccinated and precautions taken, and so happy for the outcome. This year’s Killer Nashville Writing Conference was the best I had been to in years. Many of the usual crowd stayed home, opening doors for new voices.
Whether the excitement created was from the sense of normalcy or the energy stirred by so many creative minds, the mood snapped me up and brought me back to my writing desk with noisy, chattering characters. Every penny and second spent was more than worthwhile to feel that sizzle again. Happy writing!
Diane Sismour has written poetry and fiction for over 35 years in multiple genres. She lives with her husband in eastern Pennsylvania at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Diane is a member of Romance Writers of America, Bethlehem Writer’s Group LLC, Horror Writers Association, and Liberty States Fiction Writers. She enjoys interviewing other authors and leading writer’s workshops.
Early on, I wanted my heroine to have a journal. Not quite sure why, but capturing her journey through a journal stuck as I brainstormed my scenes. Some writers write character journals for their characters to help them see things from their character’s perspective. But for me, I wanted my heroine to actually have a journal in my story.
I actually have come across a very limited amount of books using journal entries throughout the story. In my manuscript, there is an entry at the beginning of every chapter. I was excited a few years ago to find a book that had this and found that it worked. But I haven’t found a lot of books this way, so that’s a good thing.
I’m even considering it to be possibly a thing I do in all of them, but we will see.
I’m curious to know if this is something that appeals to readers or not.
I have seen a journal or diary entry as a plot point or in a scene. I actually have some of those as well since her writing in her journal is part of her story.
If you do, do you ever worry about someone reading what you wrote?
My heroine gets handed a journal upon her start as a teacher. In it, she’s instructed to write down the events of her days to capture what happens as a female teacher who moves West to teach in small pioneer towns.
Olivia finds her journal to be a close confidant. She enjoys documenting her observances about the places she’s been and the people she meets. Given that it’s 1869 and traveling by train across the country is a new and unprecedented event, the importance in capturing the momentous occasion is not lost on her.
She’s also very protective of her book. It never leaves her side and she would never leave it out so that someone could read it. But even if they did, she is very careful what she writes, never putting to paper her own thoughts and opinions, just in case someone else might read it and pass judgement on her.
See judgement stings and her fear of being judged stems from…well…I don’t want to give too much away.
I created a small diary in Olivia’s hand, so that I could think like her and feel what it might’ve been like all those years ago to have a small diary to write down words that could be read one hundred years later.
What she was doing was so new in 1869.
Traveling across the country, women came west to teach in one-room schoolhouses and in order to make a difference in the life of a child, and for herself as well.
I wonder, in real life, how many of them kept a journal? And if they had any idea that we would be reading what they wrote so many years later?
Denise loves journals and has several laying around her home at any given time. She wrote about her bullet journal page design ideas for writers in an earlier post and this year she started a journal just for her word of the year quotes. The one she uses the most is her prayer journal. Check out her how to start a prayer journal page on her website.
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