Shameless Promotion

I’ve been yacking about my supernatural mysteries for a while now.  So I’m excited to announce that Mixing It Up with Mortals, Muddy River Mystery Two, is finally available on Amazon.  And I love the cover Michael Prete designed for me.  Hope you like it, too.

muddy river 2 cover

When Raven Black, fire demon and Muddy River’s enforcer, moved in with Hester Wand, the lead witch of the town’s coven, who also teaches at her school for magic, he pictured them spending lots of quality time together.  But his job keeps him busy, and her job ensures lots of people pop in and out of their home.  So, to surprise her, he buys lake property for weekend getaways.  When he drives her to inspect their retreat, though, suprise turns to shock when they find two dead bodies in the visitors’ cabins at the far end of the lake.  Even worse, the victims are mortals.  Raven can’t just dispose of them. He feels compelled to let loved ones know that the young man and woman died, even though he can’t reveal how that happened.  They were both drained, instantly mummified.  He learns that a sheriff in a nearby town is working on another case that’s similar, so he and Brown join forces to find the killer.  And that’s when things get interesting…and deadly.


Fast and Fun, then Slower and Satisfying (and I’m talking about writing)

First of all, I wanted to share that my daughter Holly drove up from Indianapolis on May 10th to get on Allegiant with us to fly to St Pete’s.  That’s why I was missing in action on social media.  We went to visit my second daughter and her husband.  It’s been a while since HH and I have gone to Florida to visit Robyn.  She came up a couple of times to see us last year, and the year before that, I spent the spring recuperating from having my gall bladder out.  The year before that, Robyn flew up to be in a best friend’s wedding and could hardly get any more vacation time from work, so we made the most of her visit home.

This year, it was fun to fly to see her and Scott and see how they redid their kitchen.  It’s gorgeous now–white cupboards, butcher board counter tops, and a granite island top.  We made it a short stay, leaving on the 15th.  Holly’s a nurse and had to get back to the hospital, but we had a great time.

Robyn and Scott took us sightseeing, and we spent time in their pool cooling off.  Holly sent me our mother-daughters picture, so I could prove that we had a good time.Holly, Robyn, and me in Robyn's pool

And here’s HH and me waiting for a table at a beach side restaurant:

John and I waiting for a table in Florida

But vacation’s over now, and it’s back to hitting the keys.  I’ve decided to pound out Muddy River Three as fast as I can, and then spend a week outlining my Jazzi 5 novel before I start work on that.

Muddy River books are fast and fun to write.  They remind me of my old Babet and Prosper urban fantasies.  There’s enough action that the words almost fly onto the pages.  Every book is work of one kind or another, but these are shorter and faster without the intricacies that go into a Jazzi book.

Jazzi novels, on the other hand, take months to write.  The plot moves along at a slower pace and there are more characters and subplots, more twists and turns.  And I love them every bit as much.

In my mind, I compare them to the seasons.  I love all four of them, but spring and autumn feel shorter–like my supernatural stories–and I’m always trying to enjoy them before they flit away.  Summer and winter linger longer and bring a whole different rhythm and unique challenges–like my Jazzi novels.

For now, I’m in fast and furious work mode.  By the time July rolls around with the dog days of summer, I should be ready to slow down and pace myself for the long marathon of Jazzi 5.  And talking about the dog days of summer, Kensington designed a meme for The Body in the Wetlands that they’re placing in pet magazines in June.  Here’s the link:  Modern Dog-12 pg-Summer 2019.   I think it’s pretty cute!

With all of the bad weather people have been pummeled with lately, I hope the skies soon turn sunny for you and the temperatures are warm and wonderful.  And happy writing!

Not one, but two…making a mishmash of things

I’ve decided to write two series.  The Jazzi Zanders books are cozy mysteries.  The Muddy River books are supernatural/urban fantasy type mysteries.  I think I’d burn out writing just one type of genre over and over again.  I even have to switch up the types of books I read.  If I read cozies back to back to back, pretty soon I can practically chart the rhythm of the stories, etc.  So I like to jump around from one type of book to another.

Accordingly, if I can make it work–and it always sounds better in theory than in actuality–I want to take turns with my books.  I’ll write a Muddy River, then a Jazzi, then a Muddy River, etc. AND if all goes well–which it never does because life happens–I’ll still be able to meet Kensington’s deadlines.  The good news?  I’m self-publishing Muddy River, so if I screw up, I’M the one who determines when my next book has to come out.  And I can give myself wiggle room.  Hopefully.

I just turned in Jazzi 4, and I don’t have to turn in the outline for book 5 until July 15th. Even better, I don’t have to turn in the manuscript until Nov. 4.  So, I have time to squeeze in Muddy River 3 IF I don’t dawdle and I plant my fanny in chair and make myself write the words.  Even though it’s summer.  And even though I like to play in my flower beds and take the dog for walks and…well, I love to goof off more in the summer.  But the Jazzi books always take me longer to write.  They’re more involved with more different types of scenes.  The Muddy River stories go faster.  They’re shorter and they’re more direct.

That said, I’m MAKING myself write a plot point for every single chapter I mean to write for Muddy River 3.  And it’s a good thing.  The idea that bloomed in my head for this story felt brilliant and wonderful, but trying to make it stretch into 32 plot points has caused some serious cussing and stalking from my office to the kitchen, remembering that I haven’t organized my sock drawer and picked lint out of my bellybutton.  Uggh!!  I’ve made it to point 19, and I’ve kept things moving in the plot and more clues coming to light, but I still have 13 chapters to plot.  Making myself write them all can make me crazy, but I’d rather fight with them now than hit that spot in my story where I know I don’t have enough of anything to finish the book.

I’m lighting incense (not really) for inspiration and struggling with patience I don’t normally have, but I’m going to FINISH these things!  And then, I can write!  That’s where the real fun starts.  I even like rewrites because that’s when I pick up a drab leaden story and polish it to a brilliant shine.  (Or as close as I can get to that).

I might fuss about plot points, etc., but the only part of writing that I really dread is the final proof copies I have to read through for Kensington for the Jazzi books.  I don’t mind the initial edit copies, but that final proof–the one I just read and can’t change unless it’s to correct mistakes–is painful.  If I could duck out of that, I’d do it.  Because by that last proof of a galley, I’ve looked at the book so many times, the entire thing sounds like garbage to me.  And I see all the things I could have done better, but can’t fiddle with anymore.  Luckily, it’s a long time between returning that galley and the book actually being published.  If enough time has passed, I actually like the book again.  And I’m excited for readers to find it.

Alas, I have a LONG time before I’ll rewrite and rework Muddy River 3.  Right now, I just need to finish plotting it.  And then I need to WRITE 32 or more chapters… And then I need to polish it and send it to my critique partners….  And then I need to rewrite it again.  And then… thank the heavens, I’ll be ready to post it on Amazon and hope for the best:)

Wherever you are on your book or project, good luck.  And happy writing!


I was surprised to see a passionate blog from mystery writer, Sherry Harris, today, asking for writers to respect each other.  And I am always surprised when I hear that certain writers or writing groups attack other writers or writing groups on twitter or Goodreads or Facebook.  I mean, what’s the point?  And what does that say about them?

I’ve mentioned before that I went to a book signing where a newspaper reporter, a literary author, a nonfiction author, and a romance writer were giving a panel, and the reporter, not people in the audience, gave the romance author a horrible time.  He told her that she was  so talented, she should write “real books.” To which she replied, “I think writing about love and relationships IS writing real books.”  (I was proud of her).

Every writer dreads getting bad reviews from readers, even when we know there’s no way to please everyone.  I was so happy to see a thread on Kensington’s Facebook Between the Chapters page where bloggers and readers seriously discussed whether they felt comfortable giving reviews below 3 stars because they didn’t want to ruin a writer’s rankings if the book didn’t appeal to them but might be perfect for another reader.  We all have different preferences and tastes.  The responders gave thoughtful, serious consideration to the subject, even the bloggers who insisted that they felt compelled to warn other readers about books with a myriad of grammar mistakes, etc.

If bloggers and readers try to support authors, why wouldn’t fellow writers?  We know how hard it is to write a book–any kind of book.  And we know how hard it is to live up to readers’ expectations.  And every genre has them.

When I wrote romance, my wonderful editor let me try just about anything I wanted to, as long as I followed the ingrained rules of the genre.  Readers expect boy to meet girl.  Okay, maybe that’s too narrow.  These days, boy can meet boy and girl can meet girl, but whatever the set-up, there’s some kind of attraction.  Then there are obstacles and misunderstandings, etc. before boy wins girl…or whatever.  I followed that pattern.  It’s what makes a romance a romance.  BUT in book number three, I wanted to have a heroine who’s always attracted to the wrong kind of guy, Mr. Wrong, first BEFORE she notices Mr. Right standing in the background.  I’ve met my share of smart, wonderful women who fall for guys who aren’t good for them, but luckily for Paula (in my book), Chase isn’t about to let that happen.  My editor was fine with the idea.  My readers?  I got mixed reviews.  I hadn’t broken the rules of romance, but I’d bent them.

For cozies, my editor told me no foul language and when Jazzi and Ansel go in the bedroom, fade to black.  I can refer to them feeling frisky but it stays behind locked doors.  I’m fine with that, but some readers don’t even like them referring to their libidoes.  Some readers don’t like how much beer and wine they drink at meals.  And that’s all right with me.  They come to cozies expecting a CLEAN read.  That doesn’t mean I can’t write a good story, a good mystery.

If not cussing or having sex makes a writer inferior in some peoples’ minds, I don’t agree.  EVERY genre has a formula and comes with certain expectations.  Even literary.  It’s hard to write anything well.  And even if a genre isn’t one of my favorites, I can still appreciate the skill it takes to write it.

Whatever you’re working on now, good luck.  And happy writing!


Cover Reveal

I’m lucky enough to get to share Joan Hall’s cover release for her third book in her Driscoll Lakes series.  I think this cover is pretty awesome.  It sets the mood for a mystery/suspense, don’t you think?  See for yourself.

Joan Hall--May 7--Unclear Purposes Smaller

Some people take secrets to the grave…

Three years after her husband’s murder, Christine Lawrence still struggles for balance. She has a rewarding career and a close circle of friends but feels oddly unfulfilled. Worse, the close relationship she once had with her teenage daughter has grown increasingly strained.

Former FBI agent, Vince Green, is battling demons of his own—painful secrets that drove him from Driscoll Lake. Newly resettled in the small town, he makes his living as a private investigator.

When Vince and Christine cross paths, stumbling over the body of a murder victim, he’s forced to confront memories he thought long buried. The circumstances surrounding the killing are eerily similar to a victim from his past.

As the body count continues to rise, Christine finds herself drawn to Vince. With a murderer stalking the streets of Driscoll Lake, neither is aware the killer has targeted her as the next victim—or that Vince’s past is key to unmasking a disturbed and deadly killer.

Joan Hall Author Box Updated 8.18






Sharing: 1 of 2 books releasing today


Staci Troilo Color Photo RT smaller

Staci Troilo writes under a few different pen names for different genres.  She’s writing The Gate as D.L. Cross.


Getting Ready

This week, hopefully, I’ll finish final proof copies for Jazzi #3 to return to Kensington.  After that, I have rewrites to do on the notes my critique partner (Thank you, Mary Lou Rigdon) gave me for Jazzi #4.  The manuscript’s not due to John Scogmaglio until June 1st, but John, Holly, and I are taking off for Florida to visit our daughter and her husband May 10-15, and  I’d like to have my deadlines out of the way before we leave.  And THEN, I’m ready to start plot points for Jazzi #5. I’m giving myself a week to do that. AND THEN I want to write Muddy River Mystery Three.

I can’t wait to start that book.  I woke up in the morning with an idea that got me REALLY excited.  (That happens a lot at the start of a book.  We’ll see how I feel when I reach the middle:)

I know I have a long to-do list.  Sounds like I’ll be keeping out of trouble for a long time, but I have my old, trusty chalkboard and I bought a new whiteboard to help me keep track of things.  And once I fill in that whiteboard with notes for Jazzi #5, I’m ready to write!

I think I told you the story of how I got the chalkboard once before, but a LONG time ago, when the movie RICH AND FAMOUS with Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen came out, there was a scene that cracked my HH up.  Candice Bergen and her movie husband are lying in bed, drifting off to sleep, and all of a sudden, she jumps up and runs to her office to scribble ideas on a chalkboard.  When she comes back to bed, her husband yawns and shakes his head.  “An idea for a new book?” he asks, already knowing the answer.  HH swears I do that to him, so he bought and installed the chalkboard the next day.

Now that I have the whiteboard, I use the chalkboard to keep track of deadlines and business stuff I need to do and can’t forget.  Unfortunately, on my own, I tend to forget more than I should.  And if I write notes on 3×5 cards, I have so many of them anymore, they get lost in the shuffle.  But I see the chalkboard every time I enter my office.  If I write something on it, I have a decent shot of getting things right.  This is my writing wall, and my desk is right across from it.

Every writer finds his/her own way to keep track of characters and story ideas.  No technique is better than the next.  You just have to find what works for you.  So whatever you’re up to, good luck with it!  And happy writing!

P.S.  If any of you have any questions, feel free to ask me.  I did my first author chat on Kensington’s Facebook page for the Between the Chapters bookclub, and I was really nervous about trying to fill an hour answering questions for anyone who showed up, but it was WONDERFUL fun.