Sparkle's Latest News

Dec, 05: Desperate Housedogs Special

DesperateHousedogsJust in time for the holiday season! We’re excited to share Desperate Housedogs is on sale for $1.99 in all ebook formats until December 15th.

If you haven’t read the book that starts the series or if you’d like to gift a friend with the ebook for Christmas, here’s your chance!

We hope the joy and magic of this holiday season stays with you and your family!

Happy reading!

Anita and Mary Lee

aka Sparkle Abbey

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Oct, 23: Fall 2016 – Where did summer go?

St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach

We don’t know about you but we had a very busy summer. It seemed like it went by in a whoosh! We ended the summer with a wonderful writers’ conference in Florida and now we’re busy working on the next two Sparkle Abbey books. Books 9 & 10 (currently untitled) will be out in 2017.

If you’d like to make sure you are always up-to-date on Sparkle Abbey releases, contests, and special offers, be sure to sign up for our mailing list in the Get Updates box here: Updates  We promise to never share your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time.


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Jul, 07: More Summer Appearances

Art & humor...and a little bit of murder!

July 9th – Beaverdale Books 10th Anniversary Celebration – Des Moines, Iowa – Noon

July 16th – Meet the Author – Boone County Historical Society – Columbia, Missouri – 10:30 AM

July 18th – Art & Humor – Artisan Gallery 218 – West Des Moines, Iowa, Valley Junction – 6:00 PM

August 13th – Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival – Suffolk, Virginia – 10:00 AM

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May, 31: Sparkle Abbey on the Road

Dog on suitcaseSparkle Abbey has a busy spring and summer planned and would love to see you in person at one of these events!

April 9 – Ankeny Authors Fair – Ankeny, IA – 9:00 AM

April 29-May 1 – Malice Domestic – Bethesda, MD

May 7  – Treats on a Leash – Ames, IA – 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

May 13 – Beaverdale Books – Des Moines, IA – 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

May 21 – Urbandale Public Library – Urbandale, IA – 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

June 11 & 12 – Printer’s Row – Chicago, IL – 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM

June 18 & 19 – Wonder of Words – Des Moines, IA – 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM

July 16 – Boone County Historical Society – Columbia, MO – 10:30 AM

August 13 – Suffolk Mystery Festival – Suffolk, VA

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Mar, 03: We’ve got news X 2!


ROLB Now available

We’re excited to share that Book 8: Raiders of the Lost Bark will be out soon! The book will be out the end of March, but is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Google sites and should soon be available on all the others. 



And to celebrate the launch of Book 8, our publisher is offering a special deal on Book 1: Desperate Housedogs. For a limited time, March 6-12, the book that started the Pampered Pet mystery series will be on sale at Amazon for only 99 cents!


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Dec, 23: Looking for a holiday treat? Here’s one that’s calorie free!

Looking for a holiday treat - DHD

If you’re looking for a holiday treat for yourself or a stocking stuffer for the reader on your list, Desperate Housedogs, the first book in our Pampered Pets series is only $1.99 until December 31st. 

The special is on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo

Also for all of our UK readers,  it appears that the special pricing applies to Amazon UK as well. 

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Nov, 27: Beaverdale Books Indie’s First

Sparkle Abbey Bookseller for a Day at Beaverdale Books 1:00 – 2:00 PM

Saturday, November 28th Sparkle Abbey will be among several Iowa authors who will support independent bookstores by working as booksellers at local indie, Beaverdale Books.

Indies First is a program of the American Booksellers Association ( and is a national campaign of activities and events in support of independent bookstores, first envisioned by author Sherman Alexie in 2013. It kicks off each November, on Small Business Saturday (November 28, 2015), when independent bookstores host authors as honorary booksellers throughout the day to help sell and sign books, share recommendations, give readings, and more.

Cheryl Strayed, the bestselling author of Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things, Torch, and the forthcoming Brave Enough, is the 2015 official spokesperson for Indies First. Other authors who have spearheaded the campaign include Kate DiCamillo, Neil Gaiman, and Amanda Palmer. In 2014 Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) began Upstream, a bookstore-author partnership that connects authors with their local independent booksellers to offer signed books.

More information about the event and the schedule of authors is available via Beaverdale Books or by emailing: or calling 515-279-5400

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Sep, 30: Fall Has Arrived!


Here in the Midwest, Fall has arrived in all it’s glorious color, Raiders of the Lost Bark (Book 8) has been turned in and we’ve been busy doing author appearances for the most recent book, Downton Tabby (Book 7).

We had a wonderful time in Suffolk, VA at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival. Check out some of these newspaper articles about the event. It was a superbly organized event and was a great chance to meet new readers, and to hang out with some fabulous authors. You can read more about it (and see more pictures) here: Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival

We also had a great time at one of our favorite pet stores, Treats on a Leash in Ames, Iowa. It’s such a fun store and, of course, there’s the added bonus that we get to play with the pets who come in.

Next up, we’ll be at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, Iowa for tea & scones and a book signing for Downton Tabby. It’s a #BuyLocal #ReadLocal event with a drawing for a basket full of treasures from local Beaverdale merchants.

We hope to see you in person sometime soon! Or if we can’t see you in person, we hope to see you on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy Fall!

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Apr, 01: Where in the world is Sparkle Abbey?

Can you believe the year is more than half over? It’s been a busy year for us with the release of Book 7 in the Pampered Pets series, DOWNTON TABBY and some fun book and pet events. We’ve got even more in the works for the rest of the year so we thought we’d share what’s on the calendar so far:

July 11th – We’re making a stop at Central Perk & Dessert in Fort Dodge, Iowa for a fun afternoon with a group of Iowa authors.

July 25th – We’ll be doing an “Anyone for Tea and Crumpets…and Murder?” afternoon tea and signing at Barnes & Noble, Jordan Creek Town Center, West Des Moines, Iowa from 1:00 – 4:00 PM.

August 21-22  – Takes us to charming Suffolk, Virginia for the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival.

August 29 – We’re excited to be a part of the fris Clinton Book Festival “A Celebration of Books, Reading, and the Book Arts” in Clinton, Iowa.  Our topic will be “Killing People for Fun and Profit: Writing the Mystery Novel.”

October 8-10  – We’ll be participating in the 2015 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention  in Raleigh, NC.

We’d sure love to see you in person at one of these events. If none of the stops we’ve listed is in your area, be sure to sign up for Get Updates as more appearances will be added throughout the year. 

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Aug, 26: Writing Process Blog Tour

Today we’re sharing a bit about our writing process as part of a special blog tour.

We were tagged by the talented Kay Kendall. You can see her answers to the writing process blog tour here: Kay Kendall

We’ll answer the questions and then tag someone else. Sound like fun?

So, here they are: Sparkle and Abbey Working

   1. What are you working on?

  THE GIRL WITH THE DACHSUND TATTOO is going through the editing process at our publisher, Bell Bridge Books, and will be released later this year. It’s a Mel book and we’ve had a lot of fun with it and learned a lot of fascinating information about Dachshunds.

  KITTY CONFIDENTIAL is in progress and we’re having a blast with it. Look for it to come out in 2015.

  2)    How does our work differ from others of its genre? 

Our cozy mysteries fall into the sub-genre of humorous mysteries, and into the sub-genre of mysteries with animals. In our books, the pets are sidekicks. They don’t solve the mysteries. However, the pet theme is more than a minor part of our books because our amateur sleuths, Caro and Melinda, work with pets. Caro is a pet therapist and Mel is a pet boutique owner. Pets are important to them and play a big role in the mystery plot.

We have a unique twist in that the two protagonists, who are cousins, alternate as the lead character in the books. In other words, in the odd-numbered books Caro is the POV character, and in the even-numbered books Mel is the lead. The books share setting, secondary characters, and the cousins make appearances in each other’s books. Granted right now the two aren’t speaking to each other so they aren’t often on the same page. (Pun intended.) You see, there’s this little problem with a brooch that their Grandma Tillie left to her “favorite granddaughter.” Well, you can see the problem there, can’t you?

 3)    Why do I write what I do? 

We’ve both love to write about family, relationships, and what makes people do what they do. What motivates them? How to they react under stress? What makes them tick? Oh, and we love puzzles and dead bodies.

4)    How does my writing process work?  

Our collaboration is also unique in that we write every other book. Mary Lee writes the Caro books and Anita writes the Mel books. Because of this our writing process is a bit different than it would be if we worked alone or if we had a more traditional co-writing arrangement.

 We’re both plotters but we’re hybrid plotters. Never heard that term before? It may be that we just made it up.  What it means to us is that we plot out the story in advance. (This is very important for us because the books stand alone, but the series must be tightly woven together.) However, while we plot the story before we begin writing, we’re both very character-driven writers so if what we’ve planned doesn’t work once we’re in the midst of writing the story, we may make some changes. That’s what we mean by hybrid plotters.

The first step after planning out the storyline is a rough draft. We both find our first drafts are mostly dialogue. (What’s more interesting than people talking, right?) Then we go back in and add additional details, make sure the plot-points line-up, and tweak the things that need tweaking. Finally, once more through to look for any problems and then the story is off to our publisher. 


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