How we’re wrapping up 2014

Posted at Dec 17, 2014 4:28 am

Need a Sparkle Abbey fix before the end of 2104?

  • Catch us on the radio! This Friday, December 19th, at 5:00 PM we will be on Insight on Business. You can listen locally at 1350 AM or via the iTunes link or clink here for the Podcast page. 
  • Book signing! Join us from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM that same night (December 19th) for the launch of our newest release, The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo at Beaverdale Books,  2629 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines. dog and kitty wineNot only will we have fabulous gourmet cupcakes, there will also be some Riesling Dachshund wine.

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The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo is now available!

Posted at Nov 24, 2014 1:14 am

We’re really excited about our latest cozy mystery!

In The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo, Mel is tracking a killer in the cutthroat world of dachshund racing. Cheating. Doping. Gambling. Who knew doxie dashes were surrounded by so much controversy? 

The Girl With the Dachshund Tattoo - 600x900x300

 

 

One of the best pampered pet mysteries I have ever read. I loved all the characters. Anxiously waiting more.”

– Heather Mulvihill, Amazon reviewer

 

 

Watch for news on book signings and virtual tours. In the meantime, We can’t wait to hear what you think!

 

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Meet Our Character Blog Hop

Posted at Aug 28, 2014 4:52 am

Connie Archer invited us to be part of a blog hop highlighting a main character from a published work or a book we’re currently working on. Connie is the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime.  A Spoonful of Murder,  A Broth of Betrayal and A Roux of Revenge are set in the imaginary village of Snowflake, Vermont.  The fourth book in the series, Ladle to the Grave, will be released in March 2015.  You can visit her website and blog at to read her post about her character, Miriam Leonard.

We accepted Connie’s invitation and we’ve decided to share a little bit about Caro Lamont who is the amateur sleuth in both our most recently published book, Fifty Shades of Greyhound and the book we’re currently working on, Kitty Confidential. So, here’s Caro…

Isla FisherWhat’s your character’s name? And is she real or fictional?

Carolina Lamont, but everyone calls her Caro. She is totally fictional.

What does Caro look like? She’s a tall redhead. If we were casting a movie, we’d pick Isla Fisher to play her.

When and where is the story set?

The story’s set in the present time in Laguna Beach, California. A beautiful seaside town in southern California known mostly for its beach, shops, and art galleries. Oh and it’s very pet friendly! The town has more registered dogs than there are children. We visit this lovely community whenever we get the chance. Laguna Beach Surf

What should we know about Caro? Well, Caro is a former Texas beauty queen, a trained psychologist, and is currently working as a pet therapist. She left Texas after a very messy and public divorce and absolutely loves her new life in Laguna Beach.

What’s Caro’s goal?

Her goal is always to see justice done. Caro is the ultimate champion of the underdog which often times gets her in trouble. She is fierce in her love and protection for animals and also for her friends. In Fifty Shades of Greyhound Caro finds herself involved in the investigation of a death that happened at a greyhound rescue fundraiser. She’s in a unique position of being able to talk with many of the people who were in attendance because the CEO of the rescue hires her to check on the dogs who were there. But in this case before justice is done, Caro find herself in the doghouse with homicide detective, Judd Malone, who thinks Caro should leave the investigating to him. As in previous books, we had some fun with the colorful cast of characters who populate our fictional version of Laguna Beach, with Caro’s cousin, Mel, and of course, with Caro’s clients and their pet problems.

When will the book be out? Fifty Shades of Greyhound

Fifty Shades of Greyhound is out now.

Our next book, The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo will be out this fall and Kitty Confidential will be out in the spring of 2015.

 

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Writing Process Blog Tour

Posted at Aug 26, 2014 1:12 pm

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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Where has summer gone?

Posted at Aug 19, 2014 2:39 am

Can you believe summer is almost over? We hope you’ve made some great memories over the past couple of months!IMAG0802

Here’s a glimpse of what we have planned for September so far. Maybe we’ll see you there.

  • The 11th we’re headed to the Clinton Public Library to speak to their Killer Reads Book Club. They’ve chosen Desperate Housedogs as their book of the month.
  • The 13th, we’re on to Chicago to attend the Mystery Writers of America University with guest speaker Sara Paretsky.
  • The 20th we’re also presenting a workshop at the All-Iowa Writers Conference in Montezuma, Iowa. 

And then, of course, we’re working on books 7 & 8 in the Pampered Pets Mystery series!

If you’d like for us to visit with your book club or local library, send us an email!

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Fifty Shades of Greyhound – Amazon Monthly 100 Deal!

Posted at Jul 8, 2014 2:40 am

Our big news is that for the whole month of July our newest book, Fifty Shades of Greyhound is an Amazon Monthly 100 Deal for $1.99! How fun is that? 

And we’ve already received some wonderful celebrity endorsements! 

Fifty Shades of Greyhound Bookcover

Pampered Pets Mystery Series


   “Catnip for mystery fans!”

   Maggie, the Maine Coon cat of Donald Bain and Renee Paley-Bain (Murder, She Wrote Series)

 

   “A real tail-wagger!”

  Buttercup aka Trixie from the Paws and Claws mystery series by New York Times bestselling author Krista Davis

 

  “Fifty Shades of Greyhound gives rollover and play dead a whole new meaning!”

  Ethel Merman & Ella Fitzgerald, canine companions to award-winning author Holly Jacobs

 

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Sparkle Abbey on Tour

Posted at May 23, 2014 4:08 am

Great Escapes Blog Tour

A virtual tour that is! We are spreading the news about our latest book, Fifty Shades of Greyhound, by hitting the road on a virtual tour through Great Escapes Book Tours .  There will be prizes at many of the stops and also a Rafflecopter drawing for a $50 Amazon gift certificate.

Check out the schedule below and join us as we visit some great blogs.

May 15 Mystery Playground
May 16 Kelly P’s Blog
May 19 Thoughts in Progress
May 20 rantin’ ravin’ and reading
May 20 getlostinastory.blogspot.com
May 21 Michelle’s Romantic Tangle
May 22 Traci Andrighetti’s blog
May 23 Deal Sharing Aunt
May 26 Community Bookstop
May 27 Books-n-Kisses
May 28 Brooke Blogs
May 29 Queen of All She Reads
May 30 Melina’s Book Blog

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Malice Domestic 26

Posted at May 9, 2014 5:39 am

We’re just back from Malice Domestic, the annual conference for traditional mysteries. We had such a wonderful time seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Malice Go Round

Malice-Go-Round

We participated in Malice-Go-Round which is sort of like speed dating for authors. Authors travel from table to table and share a bit about what they write and also their latest book. We got to partner with fellow Iowa author, Anna Loan-Wilsey who writes the Hattie Davish historical mystery series.

Also, we attended the Sisters in Crime breakfast. The mission of this group is to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. It’s open to both writers and readers of crime fiction.

The conference always supports John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents and we contributed an auction item, a basket full of Sparkle Abbey books and pampered pet items.

The Agatha Awards banquet is on Saturday and we were asked to host an author table. We had fun coming up with table decorations and giveaways for attendees who chose our table.

Author Table Awards Banquet

Agatha Awards Banquet

Then on Sunday we were part of a panel, “Tales with Tails” along with Jayne Ormerod , Laura Morrigan, Jessie Chandler, Waverly Fitzgerald and Pepe, the Chihuahua. What a great group!

And finally before we headed to the airport, we attended the Closing Tea – A Toast to Earlene Fowler.

Thanks for the memories, Malice Domestic 26. We can’t wait for Malice 27 in 2015!

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Writing Process Blog Tour

Posted at Apr 17, 2014 1:10 am

Today we’re sharing a bit about our writing process as part of a special blog tour. We were tagged by the very talented Linda O. Johnson, who posted her responses to these questions last week:  Linda O. Johnson’s Writing Process

We’ll answer the questions posed to tour participants below, then hand the torch off to the next author for their part of the tour. Sound like fun?

So, here they are: Paws to Read Tshirt

 1. Why do you write what you write?

 We’ve both been writing for a long time and for both of us all of the stories, while they’ve had different themes, are mostly about what makes people do what they do. What motivates them? How to they react under stress? What makes them tick?

 So, we’d have to say we write what we write because people are endlessly fascinating.

 2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

 You may have noticed there are a lot of cozy mysteries to choose from. Good news for those of us who read the genre. And what a fantastic variety! But how are ours different? Hmmm…

First, our cozy mysteries would fall into the sub-genre of humorous mysteries, and also into the sub-genre of mysteries with animals. As Linda mentioned in her post, pets have long been a common and beloved theme in cozies. 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.

 Secondly, we have a unique twist in that the two protagonists, who are cousins, alternate as the lead character in the books in our series. 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. How does your writing process work?Sparkle and Abbey Working

 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. 

4. What are you working on?

 FIFTY SHADES OF GREYHOUND is going through the final processes at our publisher, Bell Bridge Books, and will be released later this month. It’s a Caro book and we’ve had a lot of fun with it and learned a lot of fascinating information about Greyhounds.

 THE GIRL WITH THE DACHSUND TATTOO is in progress and we’re having a blast with it. Look for it to come out later in 2014.

 As part of this post, we get to introduce writers who we’ve chosen to follow us on the blog tour: 

Please meet the wonderful Shannon Baker, who writes a great series and who we met at our very first mystery conference, Mayhem in the Midlands in Omaha, NE.

Shannon Baker

Here’s a little bit more about Shannon…

Shannon Baker, author of the Nora Abbott Mystery series involving murder, environment and Hopi Indians, can often be found backpacking, skiing, kayaking, cycling, or just playing lizard in the desert. From the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson, landscapes play an important role in her books.  Tainted Mountain, the first in her Nora Abbott Mystery Series, is set in Flagstaff, AZ, where she lived for several years and worked for The Grand Canyon Trust, a hotbed of environmentalists who, usually, don’t resort to murder. She lived twenty years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. When Shannon moved to Boulder, CO, Nora followed her and Broken Trust is set in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. Shannon now makes her temporary home in Nebraska and believes her job description is now itinerate writer.

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Here We Go Again – Project Dogway – Short

Posted at Feb 17, 2014 10:09 pm

What fun we’ve had with this short story idea!

Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again Collection

It began with: 6 authors, 6 different genres, 6 short stories and 1 first line:

“Here we go again.” 

Our story in the collection is PROJECT DOGWAY.

It’s high fashion hijinks in Laguna Beach with designer togs, spa pampering, and jewels galore…and that’s just the dogs.

With canines on the catwalk at this fundraising haute dog fashion show, pet therapist, Caro, and cousin Mel, owner of the local Bow Wow Boutique, are mingling with the crowd, but still not speaking to each other.

But when one of Caro’s clients, Phil Tawny, the protective owner of Shadow, an award-winning beagle, drops dead at the event, the feuding cousins find themselves embroiled in much more than a fashion “faux paw.” There’s a rabid Shadow fan, a fame-hungry ex-wife, and a detective who doesn’t want them sniffing around his investigation.

But Caro and Mel refuse to sit/stay, and soon find themselves on the tail of a killer.

And we’re launching the collection on February 24 with a Facebook Launch Party. Each author will host a half-hour time slot (ours is 8:30-9:00 p.m. Eastern, which is 7:30 Central, & 5:30 Pacific) and during that half-hour the author will give away a cool prize! We think you’ll like what we have planned.

In addition, at the end of the evening there will be a grand-prize drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card!

Sound like fun? Please join us for the festivities here – Here We Go Again Launch Party!

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  • Sandra Lea Walker: I am replying once again as I make my way through the list of these fabulous authors who write...
  • Lynn: Hi I’ve never left a msg on a bold before so here goes. The news letter said to say something about pets....
  • Sandra Lea Walker: As a “new”author for me…I love these pet-friendly mysteries!! Right up my alley...
  • Sparkle Abbey: Thanks so much, Deb. We’re working on books 9 and 10! We’ve got a couple of surprises in...
  • Deb Lanter: I can hardly wait for book 9 and 10!!! Love your books!!!