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An Element of Mystery

September 16, 2022 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Spotlight tagged as , , , ,

An Element of Mystery is available for preorder and will be released as an ebook and print book on September 27, 2022.

Dare you read our latest Sweet, Funny, and Strange® Anthology?

The Bethlehem Writers Group is pleased to present this collection of tales of mystery and intrigue—the latest in its award-winning series of Sweet, Funny, and Strange® anthologies. From classic whodunnits to tales of the unexplained, each of the twenty-three stories contained herein have an element of mystery that will keep you guessing and wanting to read just one more story.

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We’re thrilled to have old friends, but new members of BWG, join us this year. Award-winning author Debra H. Goldstein favors us with a mystery set among volunteers at a synagogue entitled “Death in the Hand of the Tongue,” while “Sense Memory,” by the multi-talented Paula Gail Benson, brings a

delightful mix of mystery and the paranormal that helps a young couple find their way to each other.

In addition, we are happy to bring you the winning stories from two of our annual Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award competitions: “Good Cop/Bad Cop” by Trey McDowell (2021 winner) and “The Tabac Man” by Eleanor Ingbretson (2022 winner).

You’ll also find stories from your favorite BWG authors, including Courtney Annicchiarico, Jeff Baird, Peter J Barbour, A. E. Decker, Marianne H. Donley, Ralph Hieb, DT Krippene, Jerry McFadden, Emily P. W. Murphy, Christopher D. Ochs, Dianna Sinovic, Kidd Wadsworth, Paul Weidknecht, and Carol L. Wright.

So get ready to be mystified . . . or intrigued!

An Element of Mystery is available for preorder and will be released as an ebook and print book on September 27, 2022.

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Linda O. Johnston–Mysteries, Romantic Suspense and so much more!

May 24, 2022 by in category Jann says . . ., Writing tagged as ,

Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, will have published 57 books as of May 2022, including mysteries and romantic suspense novels.  Her new mystery series is Alaska Untamed, starting with Bear Witness, for Crooked Lane, under her first pseudonym: Lark O. Jensen. She also has a new Harlequin Romantic Suspense story being published in May, Guardian K-9 on Call. Most of Linda’s current stories involve dogs.!

Today’s interview is with multi-talented, multi-published author Linda O. Johnston. Let’s see what’s been happening in her life lately.

Jann:  I know you published several short stories before your first novel was published—A Glimpse of Forever. Do you remember what it was like to receive the phone call from the publisher?

Linda: Heaven! I’d been writing for a while and was hoping to eventually get a novel published. I loved time travel romance, and that’s what I’d written. And to learn it was actually going to be published? Wow!

Jann: Your career has blossomed. Forty-five plus novels later that include mysteries, romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance. One thing they all have in common is animals. Is there a reason your books always include animals?

Linda: I include animals as much as possible because I love them, especially dogs. I’ve had dogs most of my life, and my favorites are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. But to include any kind of dogs or other animals in my stories is really important to me. It’s fun that my new mystery Bear Witness, my first Alaska Untamed mystery, is about Stacie Calder, a naturalist who gives tours in Alaska and points out all sorts of fun wildlife to tourists.

And by the way, Bear Witness and Guardian K-9 On Call, which you mention in the next question, are my 56th and 57th traditionally published novels!

Jann: In August 2021 Harlequin Romantic Suspense published Her Undercover Refuge, the first book in your Shelter of Secrets series. Guardian K-9 on Call, Book Two released on April 26th. What obstacles did you set for your main characters, K-9 Police Officer Maisie Murran and veterinarian Kyle Kornel to overcome? Do they find their HEA?

Linda: In Guardian K-9 On Call, K-9 Police Officer Maisie Murran believes that Dr. Kyle Kornel, a veterinarian who works for the highly secret Chance Animal Shelter, is being framed for murder. Can she help clear him–or is her belief in him based unwisely on her attraction to him?

Kyle has argued with an owner of a local pet shop who is skirting the law regarding which dogs can be sold in the store. When she is found murdered, he becomes the primary suspect.  And then there are the dogs in question, who need to be saved.

While doing their respective jobs, Maisie and Kyle work together in all aspects of the case. Closely together. And… well, it is a Harlequin Romantic Suspense book, so I’ll let you guess whether they achieve their HEA!

Jann: Will there be a book 3 in this series?

Linda: Yes, there are likely to be at least three more.

Jann: I see you have another mystery series—Alaska Untamed Mystery. Congratulations!!!  The books will be published under your first pseudonym, Lark O. Jensen. What inspired you to create this new series?

Linda: Thank you!

I was on an Alaskan cruise a few years ago, before Covid, and had a particularly enjoyable time on a tour boat on the waters outside Juneau. The people who were actually providing the tour were wonderful, and my writer’s mind, always active, started wondering what it would be like to have a mystery series set in a similar situation. I even started asking some of the boat personnel questions. But no, we didn’t find any bodies onboard or otherwise.

Jann: How did you come up with the name Lark O. Jensen?

 Linda: I was asked to take on a pseudonym, though it was fine to let the world know it was me. I pondered all sorts of names, some nothing like my own, but decided to choose something that was at least somewhat familiar. And Lark O. Jensen has at least some similarities to Linda O. Johnston.

Jann: May 10th, Bear Witness, the first book in the series made its debut. Who is the main character and what challenges will this character have to face?

 Linda: Stacie Calder is a born naturalist who has come to Alaska because of the wonderful wildlife there. During the seasons where the weather will allow it, she gives tours on a tour boat in the waters off Juneau, and she brings here wonderful husky Sasha along. She has to put up with some somewhat nasty passengers who come along to research what happens on the boat because they want to start competing companies. One day, one of them disappears—and Sasha’s wonderful sense of smell discovers his body the next day on the shore of an inlet they visited. The authorities determine he was murdered, and Stacie has to get involved with figuring out who the killer is because some of her favorite people, including the captain of her boat, and even herself, are considered suspects.

Jann: You have several other mystery series including Barkery & Biscuits and the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries. What’s happening with them?

 Linda: At the moment, nothing is happening with the Barkery & Biscuits or Superstition Mysteries. But the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries are available in e-book form, and the spinoff Pet Rescue Mysteries will soon be available as audio books.

Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?

Linda: As mentioned before, I like to include animals, particularly dogs. They speak to me, and not only in barks! I consider people who enjoy pets more likeable and think my readers may, too.

Jann: What kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?

Linda: It varies these days. I mostly write five pages or more a day when I’m in writing mode, which tends to be most of the time—or at least whenever possible. But I’m always thinking and planning and making notes.

Jann: In your books, who is your favorite character and why?

Linda: I love all my protagonists, or I wouldn’t write about them. I really like my new mystery protagonist, Stacie Calder, because of her love of wildlife and willingness to devote her life to studying and teaching people about them. I sometimes wish I could go visit her in Alaska and take one of her tours!

But perhaps my favorite is Kendra, of my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries. Kendra is a lawyer who lives in the Hollywood Hills with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lexie. At the time I wrote the Kendra stories, I was a practicing lawyer, and one of my Cavaliers was named Lexie—and I live in the Hollywood Hills. I’ve never run into dead bodies and had to solve murders, though—except those I write about.

Jann: Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how did you get past that?

Linda: Never! I’m always thinking and plotting.

Linda, it’s been fun looking back at your career and seeing what it’s like now. Congratulations and good luck on the new series, Alaska Untamed Mystery!! Looking forward to reading another fabulous mystery series.

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Under a Dark Moon Book Tour and Excerpt

November 27, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , ,
 
 

 

 

Brandon Brothers, Book 1

Historical Romance, Historical Fiction

Date Published: April 2021

 

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Meet Adam Brandon … acutely intelligent and master-swordsman but gradually realising that he isn’t yet ready for the future he had previously planned.

 

Victim of a cruel deception, Camilla Edgerton-Foxe has a jaundiced view of the male sex and a tongue as sharp as her wits … but she also possesses an extraordinary talent.

 

A peculiar encounter offers Adam the kind of employment for which he is uniquely suited and which will exercise his mind as well as his muscles. The fly in the ointment is that Miss Edgerton-Foxe comes with it … as does
Rainham, viscount and master of disguise, with a frequently misplaced sense of humour.

 

From Paris, via London, to the mists and mysteries of Romney Marsh, these three are sent on the trail of something darker and infinitely more dangerous than the kegs of brandy that come ashore at the dark of the moon.

 

 

Other books in the Brandon Brothers Series

 

 

A Trick of Fate

Brandon Brothers Book 1

B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree.

 

Max Brandon is receiving bills for services he never ordered and goods he did not buy. For reasons he can’t begin to guess, someone is ‘borrowing’ his identity to cause him maximum annoyance.

When the games move closer to home, almost forcing him to fight a duel … more particularly, when they draw in Frances Pendleton, a lady he never expected to see again … Max vows to catch the man behind them, no matter
what the cost.

The result is a haphazard chase involving ruined abbeys, a hunt for hermits, a grotesque portrait … and a love story which, but for this odd trick of fate, might never have been given a second chance.

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About the Author

 

 

Stella Riley is a British writer, living in Kent. She is the author of six
novels set in and around the English Civil Wars and the award-winning seven book Rockliffe Series – of which, Book Six, Cadenza, was the 2019 Readers’ Favourite for Romance and a 2021 Book Excellence award winner.

Under A Dark Moon is the second book in her Brandon Brothers Trilogy,
sequel to A Trick of Fate.

When not writing, she enjoys theatre, travel and playing the harpsichord.

 

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CHAPTER ONE

Within twenty minutes of bidding his friends good night and leaving the tavern, Adam Brandon became aware that he was being followed. This was annoying on several counts. He had no idea who would go to the trouble of setting a tail on him or why they would since, just at the moment, he didn’t imagine he could be of any particular interest to anyone. Admittedly, that wasn’t always true … but right now it was. Then there was the possibility that this wasn’t the first time someone had dogged his steps; that it had happened before and he hadn’t no noticed. That pricked his pride. He’d thought himself better than that.

He continued on his way without altering his pace. He considered luring the tail into a dark alley where he could be grabbed, pinned to a wall and questioned. It wouldn’t be very difficult. On the other hand, it might be premature. There was a chance, however small, that he was merely being followed by the only footpad in Paris stupid enough to tackle an armed man for the sake of a few coins. And that being so, the sensible course was to simply stroll onwards, taking a few sudden detours, to see if the fellow stuck with him.

He did … and was still there when Adam reached his lodgings on the Rue des Minimes. With a brief nod for the concierge, he ran swiftly upstairs to the nearest window and was just in time to see his follower raise a hand as if signalling to someone before melting into the shadows on the far side of the street.

Not a footpad, thought Adam with a sort of amused grimness. And not alone. What, then? And why? What possible reason could anyone have for wanting to know my every move? But whoever it is, they’re making a mistake because now I’ll have to do something about it. And that’s just tiresome.


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Zither! Book Tour

September 23, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , ,
 

 

Metafiction/Humor/Mystery

 

Date Published: April 20th, 2021

Publisher: Zither Studios

 

 

 

A nutty religious cult abducts a herd of prime gazebos (huh?) and it’s up to bumbling P.I. Mars Candiotti to rescue them. Mars, aspiring author, chronicles his quest in Jeffrey Hanlon’s comic mystery Zither

 

 Guided by his magically prescient IHOP waitress, Mars strives to mitigate the shocking global consequences of the gazebo heist, even though he has no idea what the word mitigate means. Mars has five Important clues with which to solve his confounding mystery: Butterscotch, John Travolta, Trombones Venetian Blinds, and Wind Chimes. 

 

 As Zither swallows its own tale, Mars finds it increasingly tricky to distinguish between real people and his rambunctious fictional characters. Zither becomes the romper room where his reality meets fantasy – and get frisky with each other. 

 

Using his (odd) clues, Mars’ international odyssey leads to an explosive conclusion in Panama. TVs around the world tune in to watch live coverage of “Carnage in the Canal”. 

 

Amid the lunatic havoc that is Zither there is (of course!) an epic love story as Mars meets Marian, the brainy librarian he had dreamed of. Marian says his books are “slapstick existentialism with subjective reality couched in parable”. (This is news to Mars). But is Marian real? 

 Is any of it real?

 

 

 

 
 
 

“Hanlon’s humor shines bright and will leave fans of such madness wanting more.” Publishers Weekly 

 “This zany, rollicking mystery adventure is as compelling as it is hilarious.” Independent Book Review 

 Nominated for the prestigious Audie Award, Best Fiction 2021

 

About the Author

 

I was born in a Southern California beach town. 

 
My family moved to Northwest Oregon when I was 7. Or maybe when I was 8. 
 
Had we stayed in the Beach Boys town, and knowing myself as I do now, I suspect I would have grown long hair, started a rock band, and been heavily into drugs. The rock band would probably have been pretty good. The rest of it, not so much. I’d likely have joined the ranks of those like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. 
 
We moved to a mountaintop. The last five miles to get there were gravel. The final two miles were steep and to the end of the road. 
 
That’s where we lived: the end of the road, 22 miles to the nearest town. 
 
Our closest neighbor, about a mile down the road, was a hermit who lived in a shack. He had a goat. About once a month the goat would visit us. Then the hermit would show up to retrieve his goat. I think the goat liked us better than the hermit, which is why the goat kept showing up. Goats are funny animals. I think they aspire to be house pets. 
 
And speaking of animals, we had cats. Lots and lots of cats. Because we were remote and at the end of the road, unkind people – and ‘unkind’ is the kindest description I can use here – would dump their unwanted cats on or near our property. The cats would find our house. We gave them Fancy Feast and our love, and in turn they loved us. 
 
My childhood friends didn’t visit too often. That was at least partly because when they did show up my father would say something like this: “Great! We have a job that could use an extra hand. Won’t take more than five minutes.” Well, that five minutes usually turned into an hour or two – volunteer labor! – and that friend would seldom visit again. 
 
So my favorite childhood playmate was a 2000 pound Hereford bull, a big boy with horns spanning three feet. I’d go out in the pasture and the bull would strike a pose not unlike what you’ve seen in the movies where the bull was ready to charge, head down, eyeing me. But he wasn’t going to charge me. He just wanted his forehead scratched. And so I would scratch his forehead. He liked that, shaking his head every so often to show his approval. Then we’d elevate to a game that the bull might have called ‘Let’s see how far we can toss this little kid!’ and I’d place my right hip against his massive head and he’d toss me into the air like a sack of flour. Over and over, farther and farther, higher and higher. I could have done that for hours – I can fly! – but after a few tosses the bull would grow bored with the game and wander off. Probably to chase some cute heifers. 
 
The nearest library was 30 miles away, and we ventured there often. It was a majestic old building, and the Grand Room had books on all four walls with reading chairs in the center. But that was not where I wanted to be. I figured all those books were popular books or books I was supposed to read. I wanted something different, so I would enter the room with a small sign that said ‘Stacks’. It was row after narrow row after row of books, floor to ceiling, dimly lit, dusty. It was like entering a cave. Filled with treasures! 
 
It was in those Stacks that I discovered the likes of Kerouac and Heller and Huxley and Fowles and Steinbeck and Ellison and Bradbury and Hemingway and many many others. 
 
As Stephen King said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
 
And those, each in their own way, was the inspiration for the first book I wrote at the age of eight or nine: ‘Pond Scum’. 
 
It was illustrated.

 

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Zither!

Jeffrey Hanlon

Excerpt

As nightfall approached, we prepared.

Pete disguised himself as management, putting on a nice Men’s Wearhouse suit with a bleeding turnip lapel pin.

I disguised myself as Britney Spears.

At the stroke of midnight, Pete and I left his house and headed for the St. Francis Yacht Club.

As contrived luck would have it, Benny Tisdale had left the cabin on his dumb boat unlocked.

In stealthy fashion, Pete and I went below.

“I’ll shine the flashlight and listen for footprints. You find the varnish,” Pete said.

It took no time at all to find Benny’s Man O’ War. Actually, it took a bit of time, but you know what I mean.

As Pete held the light, I donned my surgical gloves and placed Benny’s Man O’ War in my black op bag.

“Easy as taking candy from a drowning man,” Pete whispered.

I nodded.

Pete said, “It’s dark in here, Mars. If you’re going to nod, warn me so I can shine the flashlight on your head.”

“Okay, Pete. We’ll make that a new rule.”

As we prepared to exit in stealthy fashion, Pete shined his flashlight around the cabin, then said, “Mars, look at this big wooden crate.”

I looked at the wooden crate. It was big enough to hold a Barcalounger.

“I’ll bet it’s filled with ill-gotten booties,” Pete said. “Or a Barcalounger.”

He handed me the flashlight and pried open the crate’s lid with a crowbar.

It was not until some time after dark that we took courage to get up and throw the body overboard. It was then loathsome beyond expression, and so far decayed that, as Peters attempted to lift it, an entire leg came off in his grasp . . .

“Peters?” Pete said. “Do you mean Pete? Me? What body? What leg?”

“Sorry. That’s Edgar Allen Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

“What’s Poe doing in this chapter?”

I shined the flashlight on my shoulder and shrugged.

He snatched the light back, looked in the crate, and said, aghast, “We’ve gotta get outta here quick, Mars! This boat could blow any minute!”

I looked inside the big wooden crate.

Here is what was in there: hundreds, probably thousands, of Steven Seagal movies.

We’d be lucky to get out of there alive. Seagal movies have a tendency to bomb.

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Third Time’s the Harm Release Blitz and Giveaway

August 24, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , ,
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Deco Desk Mystery, Book 1

Paranormal Mystery

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.

Until now.

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.

About The Author

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.

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