Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Smoke and Mirrors by Kathryn Hills #WednesdayattheWindow

Ghosts of New England: Last Light Point

Book #2

Smoke and Mirrors

by Kathryn Hills

Sometimes when you knock on heaven’s door. . .the dead answer back.

Autumn, 1867

Willow Pinch lives life on a razor’s edge in world of deception and disguise. By day she hides in plain sight as Will, a servant boy. Nights are spent as a table knocker, aiding so-called spiritualists in duping townsfolk into believing loved ones speak from the grave. That is until the ghosts of Last Light Point unmask her before the only man she’s ever cared for. Dare she trust Morgan Blackwell with her secrets?

Morgan invests every hard-earned penny in The Crowe’s Nest. He doesn’t trust strangers. Yet the last thing he expects are charlatans hell-bent on destroying his reputation with so-called séances. Not to mention there are ghosts in his tavern now! Be damned, must he turn his back on the infuriating woman he longs to protect?

Will the dead of Last Light Point guide Willow and Morgan to lasting love? Or will the dark forces they’ve unleashed lead to ruin?

Universal Purchase Link:

You’re a foxy one,” Morgan Blackwell said to his best friend, Peter Clark. “I’m not the gaming sort, but I’ll pour another whiskey for you if you’ll leave me be. I’ve little time to dawdle tonight.” He smiled in his typical good-natured way and poured two fingers for each of them.

Peter slipped his dog-eared playing cards back into the pocket of his coat. Taking a sip, he winced at the strong drink. “I thought you’d at least want to see my latest trick.”

“Augh, tricks again. Christ, man. I know you fancy yourself the world’s greatest magician, but why not try your hand at helping me in some useful manner?” Morgan dried the last of the tankards, and he hung them on pegs behind the bar. Then he worked to make the old pewter-topped bar shine as best he could. Well over a century, and yet this tavern was still a popular watering hole in Last Light Point.

“You sound like my parents, always wanting me to make something of myself. Of course I’ll help you,” Peter said. “Just tell me what to do. Except swing a hammer. Or dig. I’ve delicate hands, you know.” He glanced around the empty taproom. “What’ve you got going on here tonight, anyway? It’s not like you to close early. Sending poor Old Bill out into the streets like a common drunkard when you know he’s yours to keep.”

“I’ve rented the place to make some extra money. I’m hoping to fix her up. Make this old girl more respectable.”

“I’ve always admired how you refer to this tavern as a lady. Kind of like a sea captain with his ship. What have you got in mind for ‘her?’”

“I’m still thinking about it…but renovating the upstairs rooms to be a proper inn, serving more food down here in the taproom. Those are a couple of my ideas.” He thought for a moment before adding, “Perhaps I’ll offer afternoon tea with fancy sandwiches for ladies.”

Peter scrunched up his nose. “Balls. That is a change. Who did you rent to?” he asked, switching subjects.

“A small party wanting a private place to hold their special meeting. Traveling spiritualists or some such nonsense.”

“Spiritualists?” Peter jeered. He blew out a long breath. “You mean table knockers? You should have told me you wanted carnival performers in this new and improved establishment of yours. I’d be happy to put on daily shows.”

“I don’t know about such things, but they paid me handsomely up front. A husband-and-wife team. The man called himself a doctor of something, and she’s Madam So-and-So. Apparently, they’ve established quite a name for themselves. Sold tickets to townsfolk already. I’m cleaning up and then leaving to talk to some men about making the repairs and improvements for me.”

“You’re leaving your beloved Crowe’s Nest in the hands of traveling performers? Are you daft, man?” his friend exclaimed in a skeptical tone.

“Reverend Tuffin and his daughter will be here. As will Mr. Cummings, the banker who holds the mortgage on this place. They’ll keep an eye on her for me.”

“Well, now I know you’re crazy. Missing out on dear, sweet Prudence, batting those long, lovely lashes at you. When are you going to court the girl outright, as in publicly, and stop sneaking around?” Peter laughed when Morgan shot him a dark scowl. “All right, relax, my friend. How about I stay and help look after your livelihood for you? I’m curious, I must admit.”

“Suit yourself. But don’t go drinking the good whiskey.” Morgan spared a quick glance over his shoulder for the antique bottle, sitting in a place of honor, front and center, before the mottled mirror behind his bar. Both the mirror and the bottle were old and ugly. Still, legend said they must remain in place, or else trouble would befall all who entered this establishment. He shook his head, hating the blasted things and the folklore associated with them. Last Light Point was steeped in such superstitious rubbish.

“No one touches that particular bottle,” Peter said, looking uneasy. “Do you think I want the bad luck said to befall anyone who does? No, thank you. You might not believe in pirate curses, but I do.”

“Stay if you want,” Morgan said, giving his beloved tavern one last appraising look. He dried his hands and hung the bar towel in its proper place. “The couple is upstairs getting ready for their meeting. They’ve a servant boy with them. Scrawny lad I’m letting sleep in the storeroom. He doesn’t speak—has a rather feral look about him—so steer clear.”

Peter rubbed his hands together and grinned. “Oh, this is getting good. I’ve a feeling tonight is going to be quite a memorable experience.”


A Multi-Century Romance Anthology

from Best Selling & Award Winning Authors

Can true love conquer a deadly curse?

Don’t look at the gibbet… Legend has it that disaster will strike all those who do. The townspeople of Last Light Point have come to respect the centuries-old advice. Those that didn’t, paid the price.

4 stories – 4 time periods – 1 very haunted tavern in New England!

A new romance anthology unlike any other from 4 best-selling and award-winning authors.

· The Pirate’s Promise by Lisa A. Olech (Autumn 1728)

· Smoke and Mirrors by Kathryn Hills (Autumn 1867)

· For the Love of Grace by Nancy Fraser (Fall 1941)

· A Promise Fulfilled by Peggy Jaeger (Late October, Present Day)

About Kathryn Hills - Hauntingly romantic… Unless she’s writing sweet!

KATHRYN HILLS - The rich history and many mysteries of New England are the perfect backdrop for many of Kathryn’s books. Winding roads lined by old stone walls, forgotten cemeteries, grand homes with shadowy pasts...all sparks for her imagination. Whether it’s a quaint seaside town or the vibrant city of Boston, it’s easy for this “hauntingly romantic” author to envision the past mingling with the present. No surprise, some of Kathryn’s favorite stories include ghosts! Sprinkle in some magic, and you’re off on a great adventure.

When not writing, this best-selling author is reading, researching, gardening, or cooking up something special in her chaotic kitchen. She shares her colonial home in the north woods with those she loves most – her wonderful husband, daughter, and three crazy dogs.


Amazon Author Page:







Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Stop and Smell the Roses by Darlene Fredette

One day last week, during my book tour with Trickster, I had a guest spot where I talked about working with a group of writers on the Mortar and Pestle series. I tried to jump ship a couple of times, but they pulled me from the deep waters. I’m happy they did as I made some new friends, and I wrote a story I absolutely love.

As much fun as the collaboration was, it may be my last writing project with and without a group. I’m seriously thinking about retiring my writing cap. I’ve considered retiring before, but a story would always call me back to the computer. Redford Falls still has a few more stories to tell, but the drive to write is diminishing. 

There are several factors that push retirement – I’m a
slow writer, I don’t have many hours during the day to write, and I’m terrible at marketing and lack the passion to learn the new avenues. As we get older our priorities change – at least for me they have. I want the everyday pace to slow down and to not worry about meeting deadlines. As
the saying goes – stop and smell the roses.

Should I retire? Never say never, but right now I’m taking a well-deserved break. And what a better way to go out than on a high note with a book I adore like Trickster!


A Redford Falls Story, Part of The Mortar and Pestle Series

Can she heal the trickster before he breaks her heart?

Working for a top modeling agency is Jade Parsons’s dream job until her boss suffers a heart attack, and his son temporarily fills his position. Eric’s push-pull approach fuels her frustration. While anticipating the troublemaker’s imminent departure, Jade’s destiny is revealed through a magical mortar and pestle, leaving her heart tormented by whispers of a different fate.

World-renowned photographer Eric Martini returns home to restore his relationship with his estranged father, but wounds from the past haunt him. Enchanted by his father’s feisty assistant, he masks his heart and refuses to give in to desire. Convinced his destined future is already written in the stars—and doesn’t include Jade, Eric’s only choice is to walk away.

Will Jade and Eric find the courage to trust the mythical and smokey signs before their paths are severed forever? 

Two weeks ago, Eric had aired his family’s dirty laundry. Probably unintentional on his part, but he revealed the reason behind his frustration toward his father, and Jade gave her unwelcomed input.

Today she exposed her secret, which felt exhilarating. “I only wanted you to understand you have to let go of the past to be present in the future.”

“And I’m trying. My father and I are on a good path to rebuilding our relationship and for that, I thank you. You forced me to see the error of my ways. I’m sorry for taking out my problems on you. You didn’t deserve my grouchy moods. I was rude and obnoxious.” He raised a brow. “Can you forgive me? Can we start over?”

Smiling, she squinted. “Who are you?”

He strode forward and held out a hand. “I’m Eric Martini. Nice to meet you.”

“No.” Jade pointed a finger. “You, sir, are a trickster.”

“Excuse me?”

“A trickster is someone who has many sides. Disruptive and helpful, troublemaker and hero. I know the man in the office. But I don’t know the man standing in front of me.” She clasped his hand, and a flurry of tingles surged the length of her arm. Warmth flushed her cheeks. Without thinking, she leaned up on her toes and kissed Eric’s cheek. “Thank you for being my hero today.”

Darlene Fredette resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short, and the winters are too long. Retired from a career as Director of Administration and Marketing, she now has eleven published contemporary romance books and is an artist at heart. When she isn’t researching her next book or having a pencil, paintbrush, or a cup of hot chocolate in her hand, she’s with her husband, daughter, and one-hundred-pound yellow Labrador.


Trickster on Amazon:



Amazon Author Page:

Facebook Page:




But wait! There’s more! I’m giving away a free PDF copy of The Mortar and Pestle Preview. This preview document is similar to the free prequel offered in Book Funnel, but the preview has tons of additional fun stuff – more graphics, book teasers, an inside look at how the series came to life, and much more! To get this free preview, pop over to my author website and send me a note using the Contact Form on the left sidebar. No rafflecopter, no contest, and no drawing of names. Just send me a note through the secure Contact Form. It’s that easy!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Ghosts of New England by Lisa A. Olech #WriterMonday

Ghosts of New England: Last Light Point

Book #1

The Pirate’s Promise

by Lisa A. Olech

Autumn, 1728

The Crowe’s Nest Tavern was located in a very fortuitous place. If you were condemned to hang in Execution Square, they were your last stop!

Everly Crowe along with her father and two sisters ran The Crowe’s Nest Tavern that was rumored to be slightly haunted, although Everly never believed in such foolishness….until she did.

John Beckett was a pirate, or not. Forced upon the account, he’d lost his belief in a lot of things before he caught the eye of a bonny serving lass who was fierce enough to go toe to boot with his captor and captain, Bartholomew Jacques.

Jacques held a note on the tavern and tormented Everly and her family as he terrorized all the small towns up and down the coast. But even his threats and deceit couldn’t keep Everly and John from promising themselves to each other, ‘till death they do part. After Jacques and his crew are captured and sent to the gallows, Everly learns that those fateful words have little meaning when love is forever.

Universal Purchase Link:

Hours later Beckett was back at The Crowe’s Nest Tavern. The sun was setting behind rain-filled clouds as he kept to the shadows. He didn’t have much time. Crew was due back for last call by eight bells.

Lights from inside the tavern spilled out into the growing darkness. He’d chosen his prey earlier yet waited to come back. The back garden was surrounded by a low fence cobbled together with mismatched boards and twists of driftwood. A small gate leaned unsteadily on one hinge. It squeaked as he eased it open. Raising the flame on his lantern he spread a square of burlap on the ground by his feet and began to gather up a bounty.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Beckett whipped around. He’d been so focused on his task, he’d not heard her. “Everly…I mean, Mistress…” Beckett raised his hands in surrender.

Lifting her lantern, Everly indicated the evidence at his feet. “You’re stealing from me?”

“Well, yes and no.” He swept the scene with his hand.

“You’re a pirate. A thief by trade. You, better than anyone, should know stealing when you’re stealing.”

“True, you ken call me a pirate, but I’m more of a misplaced carpenter. And is it really stealing if it’s from your scrap heap?” he reasoned.

“You’re a carpenter?” She shook her head as if she didn’t believe him. “And why would a carpenter, misplaced or not, steal from a scrap heap when the kitchen gardens are right over there?” She pointed to two large plots maybe ten feet by twenty. Each bursting with vegetables and vines with a line of fruit trees banking one side, all heavy with fruit.

He gave her a shrug and a smile. “That would be stealing.”

“I think my pigs would disagree. You’re taking their breakfast.”

“They’ll understand, being pigs and all. Kindred scavengers that they be.”

“And what exactly will my pigs understand?” The defiant hand to her hip and saucy tip to her chin made him grin. No timid lass, this one.

“Do you remember the young lad at my table earlier today?” Beckett began.

“I do.”

“He’s feeling a might poorly. Been on half rations for near a month now, and if he doesn’t get some decent food in him soon, the scurvy will get a hold of him for sure. He’s got no coin…so I figured if the pigs didn’t mind sharing, mayhap you’d be willing, as well.”

“You don’t know my pigs.”

About the Anthology – 4 Complete Books, 4 Authors 


A Multi-Century Romance Anthology

from Best Selling & Award Winning Authors

Can true love conquer a deadly curse?

Don’t look at the gibbet… Legend has it that disaster will strike all those who do. The townspeople of Last Light Point have come to respect the centuries-old advice. Those that didn’t, paid the price.

4 stories – 4 time periods – 1 very haunted tavern in New England!

A new romance anthology unlike any other from 4 best-selling and award-winning authors.

· The Pirate’s Promise by Lisa A. Olech (Autumn 1728)

· Smoke and Mirrors by Kathryn Hills (Autumn 1867)

· For the Love of Grace by Nancy Fraser (Fall 1941)

· A Promise Fulfilled by Peggy Jaeger (Late October, Present Day)

About Lisa A. Olech

LISA A. OLECH is the author of both the contemporary and historical romance. She uses witty dialog with a side order of sexy to bring to life multi-faceted, adventurous, smoldering characters you’ll not soon forget.

A former member of RWA and NHRWA, Lisa is a 2018 RITA Award nominee for her book, Within A Captain’s Soul, the final book in her Captains of the Scarlet Night series. She’s won a variety of writing contests and achieved the ranks of Amazon Best Seller with her debut book in 2014.

As an author, artist, Justice of the Peace, and aspiring beekeeper, Lisa finds true inspiration in the beauty and love that surround her. And, she takes full credit that three homes on her quiet New England street now proudly fly a Jolly Roger from their flagpoles.

Find links to her books, social media, and much, much more at

Other Books by Lisa A. Olech

Stoddard School of Art Series

Picture Me Naked

Rock Solid

Against the Wall
Captains of the Scarlet Night Series

Within A Captain’s Hold

Within A Captain’s Treasure

Within A Captain’s Fate

Within A Captain's Power

Within A Captain’s Soul

Laced Ladies of Black Point Series

The Pirate Wore White

Ghosts of New England, Skullery Bay Anthology

Widow's Walk

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Joe, Dr. Suess, and an Ikea Couch by Joe DeRozier

I was going to write a post this this, really, I was. But then I read this essay by Joe DeRozier and decided it would be a good Saturday morning for me to just sit back and enjoy--so I asked him if I could borrow it! I hope you enjoy it, too, and I hope you let me come back next time after reading this. Have a great week and be nice to somebody. - Liz

I was sitting on the mini-couch in my wife's Pipe Creek kindergarten class while perusing Dr. Seuss 's Hop on Pop. For just a second, I smiled as I fondly reminisced about the days when my kids could hop on me without causing lethal internal damage.

I fidgeted slightly on that multicolored, mini-couch because I was just a little nervous as I prepared to read this very book to 18 kindergarten students. They can be a tough crowd at that age...and my wife, their teacher, would be there watching my every move... 

...and I fear the Greek girl. 

She had to keep a close eye on me to ensure I'd behave myself because she knows firsthand just how fun, or as she says, immature I can be. 

Walking in single file, my soon-to-be audience quietly entered the room. They were all quiet because they were startled by the ugly, dusty, old man sitting on their uncomfortable, multicolored, mini-couch. 

Mrs. D corralled the students with just a few words and they automatically settled onto the large, round carpet that sported numbers and letters, sitting "criss-cross applesauce" in what must have been designated seating locations. So firm was her command, that I found myself sliding off the Ikea-made, uncomfortable, multicolored, mini-couch to sit on the carpet...though "criss-cross applesauce" was completely out of the question. 

After regaining my bearings, I sat up and introduced myself. A couple of the children had visited me in the back of the bakery at one time or another with their parents, and simply knew me as "the donut guy." Others knew me as Mrs. D's husband. 

My nerves gradually faded as I started to read the book while sharing the pictures on each page. It occurred to me that our maturity levels were on an equal playing field as I discovered I was as intrigued by the book as much as they were. 

I'd read a page, then point out any obvious absurdity. One rhyme had a puppy flying over trees as he jumped over a cup, and another rhyme had a few fish in a tree. Both scenarios were highly implausible and the second one was even more confusing since the word fish didn't need to rhyme with anything else, so could have been easily replaced by bird, squirrel... 

...which caused me to ponder what the good Doctor was doing recreationally¹ while writing his books. 

The responses from the class varied as some claimed their doggy could indeed jump over trees and quite a few considered the fish in a tree not to be all that unlikely. 

There was an unfortunate rhyme involving a Dr. Seuss character sitting on a bat... I'm sure Mrs. D breathed a sigh of relief when I stifled my initial reaction to the picture, but I did mention that by sitting on the bat this way, the odd Dr. Seuss character would experience butt pain... That last sentence made every elementary school teacher reading this story, cringe... 

...because I said butt

Chaos ensued and I had to do some quick damage control as the whole class roared. Butt seems to be a magic word to five-year-olds. My wife's and her assistant's eyes rolled to the backs of their heads as they envisioned hearing butt for the rest of the day. I quickly created a diversion by making funny voices for the next rhyming pages, and butt was temporary placed in hibernation. 

Gaining confidence, I went through the rest of the book with my voices and observations...until I got to one of the final pages when I had to read a couple words that "Pop" could pronounce. The words were Constantinople and Timbuktu. I was caught off guard since the rest of the book consisted of mostly one syllable words. I hesitated momentarily as I sat on the small, Ikea-made, uncomfortable, multicolored, mini-couch. I struggled temporarily with Constantinople, making my adult audience snicker. 

After I finished reading, I spent the next 10 minutes just talking to the kids about what they were learning. I was amazed at the things they knew how to do and enjoyed observing all of their personalities. One young man had a lot to say, but his questions were very intelligent and I loved his thirst for knowledge. 

One young lady was much more timid, but I could see her eyes absolutely dance when I asked questions. When she raised her hand to answer a question, I immediately called on her. She was nervous to talk at first, but I kept encouraging her and she quietly told me her answer. She's going to be something else when she comes out of her shell. 

My heart was full as I bid adieu to my new friends. As they lined up to go to lunch, I suddenly remembered the the mocking sniggles² I heard while I attempted to say Constantinople. Thinking quickly, I obtained the attention of the most boisterous student in the class. With a grin, I bent towards him and quietly whispered... 


¹ I made up that conjugation

 ² Sniggle is an actual word. I was surprised, too.

A repeat business of the week is DeRozier's Bakery. Not only are Joe DeRozier's pastries worth an extra turn around the block if you're counting those calories and steps I mentioned above, Joe is one of the kindest and most generous people around. A conversation at the table in his back room is a great way to start the day. He's an entrepreneur, an extraordinary donut-maker, and a gifted storyteller. 

The bakery phone number is (765) 473-6688 and the Facebook page is Stop in for a donut, some conversation, and a copy of one or all of Joe's booksHe'll even sign them for you!

Thank you, Joe. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Strange Places by Liz Flaherty

 "It's not my job to be mad at you." 

The quote above came from "Ask Amy," an advice column in the Chicago Tribune. It was totally unrelated to anything in my life. It was also just about the coolest thing I've read in a long time. 

I was going to write the column on that, but I'm not going to bother, just as I'm not going to be mad at people whose opinions and actions I can't do anything about. It's pointless and it's not my job. 

Instead, I'm going to smile and wave when I see you, open the door for you if your hands are full, walk away rather than feel compelled to say the words "...yes, but..." and use my turn signals when I drive. You can be mad if you want to.

I'm at a strange place with the Window Over the Sink right now. And, wouldn't you know it? Just saying the words strange place made me think of some and be amazed at how many there are in our lives.

The day I walked into first grade at Gilead, I was on my own for probably the first time in my life. My sister was grown and married, my brothers were all in their big kid classes, and my mom--who was always there...well, she wasn't. I'm sure I knew some of my classmates, but I don't remember it if I did. It was a very strange place. 

Six years later, I walked into the high school. I went from riding the bus for 10 minutes to riding it for 50. Based on places I'd been and seen, the whole experience was huge. It had clickety-click tile floors instead of warm, creaking wooden ones, plenty of restrooms, and a wonderful round library. And it was never, never warm. We had three or four minutes to get from one class to another, no matter what hall it was in, and sometimes we made it. It didn't take long to get used to, but it was strange.

At not-quite-21, we got married and shared personal space and pooled our financial resources (which we used to say boiled down to being his car and two cartons of redeemable soda bottles). It was fun and exciting, and...for a while...kind of odd, too. There have been many times of strangeness over 51 years, too. Tearing down, rebuilding, rebuilding...

When I had kids and found out "to the moon and back" wasn't in any way an exaggeration and that I was going to be scared every single day of my life that something would happen to one of them, or to the ones they married, or to their kids, that was strange. Natural, but who knew you could actually love that much?

After I retired and didn't have to get up and go to work, I was shocked at how much fun it was. I mean, I still "go to work" because my office isn't in the house, but I go when I want to and I don't have to get dressed or warm up the car.

Last night, as we drove home from Logansport, the western sky was all dark clouds and a horizon the color of fire. Not angry fire, but warming, lighting the way to the end of the day. It was strange and so very beautiful.

Have a good week. Don't be mad--be nice to somebody. 

The Business of the Week is me. On Wednesday, March 22, I'll be talking at the library in Walton at 8:00 AM. There'll be coffee and company and conversation about writing and other strange things. I'd love to see you there!

Saturday, March 11, 2023

March Madness by Liz Flaherty

Congratulations to all county basketball teams for the skill, sportsmanship, and spirit of competition they've shown this season. 

The term March Madness means different things to different people, doesn't it?

To a lot of people, it has to do with basketball. While the NCAA uses the phrase, I will always prefer high school. Although the tournaments don't start in March, they end then, so I'm good with calling it March Madness. I remember sectional time from when I was in elementary school, when the schools in what became the North Miami district were still separate. It always snowed. 


I can still feel, even 55 years later, the excitement at our school when the Warriors went to the semi-state. I don't think we used the term awesome in those days, but it most certainly was that. 

I remember when our kids played high school sports--game nights were set aside. If anything else happened on those nights, we didn't know about it. We were on the bleachers. It didn't all happen in March, of course, and it wasn't just basketball, but it was one of the most fun parts of the madness that is parenting. 

But there's more to March Madness than fun and excitement, slushy roads, and sump pumps working away in basements. More than planning the garden and flowerbeds and bemoaning the approach of mowing season. This March, there are train derailments added to the mix, deepening of our country's political morass, and shootings. Always shootings--we hardly even flinch when we read about them or hear about them in the news. Maybe they're not madness anymore; maybe they're the status quo. 

And then there's tonight. Or, actually, 2:00 tomorrow morning. When we will change times yet again. 

The real madness, for me, starts when I get up tomorrow morning and it's an hour later than it actually is. And goodness knows when I'll want to go to bed. As a retired person, I will admit that it should not matter what time it is. I don't have to set an alarm clock, I go to bed whenever I please, and I eat when I'm hungry. (Yes, way too often and too much, but we're not going there today.)

The autumn change is supposed to keep kids from getting on buses or walking or driving to school in the dark. Frankly, I don't know why it's okay for them to drive, walk, or board buses in the dark in March, but apparently it's safe then. 

I don't have a good windup here, since there is no solution to the time change issue until the members of the morass I mentioned above decide it matters enough to do something about it. I hope you don't mind it as much as I do and that your March Madness has more to do with basketball and flowers than things to complain about. 

Stay safe. Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.

The Farmhouse Cafe offers home cooking, good coffee, and pleasant conversation. It's located at 97 W. Harrison St. in Denver--on the main drag, catty corner from A Li'l off the Top. They have specials every day and are open from 6:00 AM till 2:00 PM Monday through Saturday. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Books & Bribes by Lucinda Race

Books & Bribes
, Bookstore Cozy Mystery Series

by Lucinda Race

In a small town like Pembroke Cove, Maine, everyone has something to hide. But when bookstore owner Lily Michaels takes a tumble and hits her head, and her cat Milo starts talking to her, she discovers she has something to hide, too. She’s a witch, and Milo is her familiar. And she’s not the only one in town. Lily has been hiding something else, too. Even though she’s always kept Gage Erikson in the friend zone, her feelings for the man Milo calls Detective Cutie go a lot deeper than she’s willing to admit.

Gage has a secret too. He’s always had a crush on Lily. But if he gives into his feelings, it might mess up the wonderful friendship they have. With his cowboy boots and cherry red pickup truck and knack for just letting folks talk, people might underestimate just how good a detective Gage actually is. But is he good enough to discover all of Lily’s secrets?

Somebody in Pembroke knows a lot about the secrets people are keeping, and isn’t above a little blackmail. While Lily struggles with learning how to be a witch, she works with Gage to uncover the truth, and a new kind of magic develops between them. Will they continue to be just friends, or will they finally admit to the secret love they’ve been hiding?

Achoo. A thick cloud of dust flew up from the pages of the hefty book that had fallen off the shelf. It barely missed my head as it hit the floor with a thump. I stumbled backward over a small stool and let out a scream as I tried desperately to catch myself on anything before falling.

A sandpaper-like feel scraped over my cheek from the wooden floor and I slowly opened my eyes. There was Milo, my gray tabby cat, hovering over me. I scratched his long, soft coat. “Hey, little man. I’m okay. Just took a tumble.” I eased myself to a sitting position and gently rubbed the back of my head where it had connected with the floor. Not a great way to end a Monday.

A deep gravelly voice said, “You’ve been lying there for several minutes out cold. I didn’t think you’d ever wake up.”

I looked around. “Who’s there?” My heart rate increased as I scrambled to my feet and grabbed the heavy book. As I hurried down the aisle of the bookshop, scanning right and left, I wondered who was in my store. I was certain I’d locked the front door at four on the dot after my last customer left.

I checked the empty sitting area in front of the oversized north-facing windows. It comprised of two wingback chairs, a small table between them, and a round table in front of them. It was great natural light for reading. But I was alone.

Shaking my head gingerly, I surmised it must be the residual effect from hitting my head. Glancing at the fat blue book in my hand, Practical Beginnings, I decided I’d climb the stepstool tomorrow and find a place for it. Walking back to the wide wooden counter, I dropped it on top and stroked Milo’s soft fur. “Ready to go home?” My besties were meeting me at the library for classic movie night. Tonight was Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, and I didn’t want to be late.

I had locked the cash register when I heard a scratchy, but kind voice say, “Ready when you are.”

With the stapler in my hand, I twirled around, shaking it in the air. “I demand you show yourself!”

“Lily, it’s me. Your old buddy Milo.”

“Stop it. Right now!” Who was in my shop?

“Look at your cat,” the voice urged.

My heart thudded in my chest. Was something wrong with my sweet baby? “Milo?” I scooped him into my arms and held him tight.

“Need. To. Breathe.” He squirmed in my arms and escaped to the counter.

I stumbled back against a long table stacked with bestsellers. Some dropped to the floor as my weight sagged against it. “Did you just speak?” The words came out as a croak.

“I’ve been waiting for you to open that book for ages. Remember Aunt Mimi asked you to read it on your last birthday?”

I nodded, dumbfounded. This couldn’t be happening. I could hear him, but his tiny mouth wasn’t moving. I lifted my hand and grazed the slight bump on the back of my head. My cat was talking to me. Wait, I must have hit my head harder than I thought or worse, had something possessed me? I rubbed the back of my head again. Ouch. “No, I must be concussed.”

I walked around the room, checking to make sure the windows were secured and double-checked the front door was locked. “Yup, all tight as a drum.”

“We already knew that.” Once again, it was the same voice. My legs jiggled like rubber. I dropped to the chair and put my head between my legs just in case I felt faint. After a few seconds, I sat up. This was stupid. I was having a conversation with a prankster.

“Milo, if you’re really talking, come over here and sit in this other chair.”

I watched as he walked to the edge of the counter and dropped to the floor, only to hop up in the chair opposite me. This couldn’t be happening. No way he understood.

Licking his front paw and rubbing it above his eye, he said, “Now what do you need me to do for my next parlor trick so that you’ll believe me?”

“Tell me what I’m thinking?” I leaned closer, giving him full access to my face. The close proximity would help me see if his mouth was moving.

“I’m not telepathic. I’m your familiar and yes, that means you’re a witch. Finally, the truth is out.” He stretched over the cushion and rolled on his back as if I was supposed to scratch his tummy. “Feel free.”

Like when Milo always rolled over, I obliged by scratching his belly and his eyes would close in contentment, but this time he was giving me directions where I should be scratching.

“If you’re going to be bossy, I’m done.” I went to stand up and dropped back in the chair. “Wait, what did you say about being a witch? I own a bookshop. There is nothing special about me.”

My cat opened his eyes and he rolled to his side, never bothering to blink. “You can believe that’s nothing special, but a few witches live in Pembroke, and you are one of them.”

Once again, I felt as if I had fallen from the stool and conked my head, but I was sitting on a comfy chair, talking with my cat who just announced I was a witch. “Wait.” My thoughts were spinning. “Does that mean Aunt Mimi is one, too?”

“Stop repeating yourself, and now you’re catching on.” Milo jumped to the floor and looked up. “I thought you said we were going home. I’m hungry.”

My breath came rapidly and my head swam. This couldn’t be happening. I must be dreaming. As I bent over to put my head between my knees, which seemed to be the thing to do again, a tapping on the glass in the door drew my attention. Who on earth would stop by now? I looked at my watch. It was almost five. Again came the insistent knocking.

I got to my feet, albeit unsteadily, and waited until I felt I could plaster a smile on my face before going to the door. When I peeked out, relief washed over me and my breathing slowed. Why I was being such a nervous Nellie was beyond me. Must be all this talk of familiars and witches. With a glance over my shoulder, I jabbed a finger in Milo’s direction. “Shush.”

“No one else can hear me. When I talk, they hear a cute little meow coming from my tiny mouth.”

I frowned. “Tiny is debatable at this point.” I pulled open the door. The minute I saw his handsome face and the dreamy hazel eyes, my knees went weak. It was one of my oldest and dearest friends and also the guy I’d been in love with my entire life. Gage Erikson.

“Hi there. I was expecting to see you later at the library.”

Gage walked in and looked around. “I thought I heard you talking. Are you alone?”

Heat flushed my cheeks. This wasn’t something I was about to share with anyone, having a conversation with a cat and he talked back. I forced a grin and added an extra dose of cheeriness to my voice. “Just talking to Milo. There’s no one else here.”

Gage bent over and scratched between the kitty’s ears. Instead of a purr, I heard, “Hmm, that feels good. Thanks, Detective Cutie.”

There was no reaction from the man, so at least there was that. Milo opened one eye and I would swear the cat winked at me.

“Gage, what brings you around? Did you want to drive to the movie together?” I clamped my mouth shut. That sounded way too much like a date and I didn’t want to do anything to make our friendship awkward so I rushed ahead with, “Nikki and Steve are meeting us there and maybe even Aunt Mimi and Nate O’Brien.”

“Sounds like it’s going to be a packed house.” He looked at me while he scooped up Milo to continue giving the kitty attention.

“I guess.” Seeing Gage holding Milo was like kryptonite to me, causing my heart to do all kinds of crazy flips. Anyone who loved someone else’s cat had to be a keeper, right? I sighed, and his brow quirked.

“You okay?”

“Oh. Yes. I fell off the stool earlier and hit my head.”

Concern filled his golden-hazel eyes. He deposited Milo in the chair and took a step in my direction. “Where did you hit it?”

My hand went to the tender spot on the back. “I’m fine.”

“Turn around so I can take a look.”

I did as he asked, enjoying being fussed over a little, but not wanting to appear like some weak girl who needed his attention like those girls at the coffee shop. They were always giggling whenever he walked in, especially when he used to wear his police officer’s uniform. He pushed ever so slightly on the spot that had connected with the floor and tears sprang to my eyes and I cried out, “Ouch. That hurts!”

His laugh was comforting. “Guess I found the spot. You should put ice on it and take it easy for tonight.”

I turned back to face him. “I can’t miss the movie. It’s one of my favorites

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Award-winning and best-selling author Lucinda Race is a lifelong fan of fiction. As a young girl, she spent hours reading mystery and romance novels and getting lost in the fun and hope they represent. While her friends dreamed of becoming doctors and engineers, her dreams were to become a writer—a novelist.

As life twisted and turned, she found herself writing nonfiction but longed to turn to her true passion. After developing the storyline for the McKenna Family Romance series, it was time to start living her dream. Her fingers practically fly over computer keys she weaves stories about with mystery and happily ever afters.

Lucinda lives with her two little dogs, a miniature long hair dachshund and a shitzu mix rescue, in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts. When she's not at her day job, she’s immersed in her fictional worlds. And if she’s not writing mystery, suspense and romance novels, she’s reading everything she can get her hands on.

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Saturday, March 4, 2023

Earworms and Pretoria by Liz Flaherty

Have you ever given thought to how an earworm gets created? I know, you hear something and it won't go away, but sometimes it has an identifiable process. Stick with me here. Not because I know what I'm talking about but because I depend on you to say, "Yeah, like that..."

I've been working on this post the past few days, writing the prologue up there so you can be thinking about who next week's business should be. Trying to think of something to write that' know, interesting. And I realized February had passed. 

It's already March. March first, as a matter of fact, when I'm writing this. This is the day I look forward to all the way through January and February--not wishing my life away, just thinking about things being green and smelling good and lady bugs taking over my office. 


March has some joys for me. One of my brothers' birthdays was in March. One daughter-in-law and two grandkids were born in March. The grands' birthdays are three days apart and I have to look up which day is Tierney's and which one is Fionnegan's because I can never remember. This is part of the aging process, of time marching on. 


Fionn plays trumpet and has played it in marching band from time to time. Years ago, one of my brothers played the base drum in the marching band at Gilead. I don't remember Tom doing that, but there were pictures of him...


I was thinking, apropos (isn't that a cool word? I love having the chance to use it) of nothing, of the town of Peoria, Indiana, and recalling that Peoria Church and Peoria Cemetery had been moved when the dam was built. I think. It's a pretty church. 


Years ago, on the Smothers Brothers Show, they sang a song about Peoria. 


Or Pretoria? 

We are marching to Pretoria...Pretoria...Pretoria...we are marching to Pretoria. Pretoria today...

The words aren't exactly right (I looked them up, too), but there you have the creation of an earworm. Right or not, I have sung them--even a few times aloud--over and over this morning. All because I'm writing this on the first of March. Which came in like a lamb, thank you very much. 

A lamb. A lion.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight...

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

I haven't done this in a while, and I don't really know why I stopped--because it was fun. I'd like to do a business of the week. I will start with ones I use a lot--or wish I did. If you own a business, run one, or have one you'd like me to spotlight, leave me a message. We'll see how it works out! The first post is from Cathy Zehring--thanks for being here, Cathy! I hope you'll spread the word. Feel free to PM me or email me at lizkflaherty @ (no spaces) with suggestions or requests. Thank you!

Cathy Zehring's in the beauty business. She loves helping other women feel good about themselves.

Catch up with her at to find out all about Cathy's Box of Beauty.