Sunday, February 19, 2012

Awards For The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries

I am thrilled! Murder is a Family Business has just received the coveted CataNetwork Reviewers’ Choice Award for 2011.
"CataNetwork reviewers consider your book one of the best that they have read and reviewed this year. Thank you for sharing your talent with all the readers as you entertain us with your stories." Their webswite is:

And days later I got a great review from NightOwl, where the reviewer praised this first book of the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series, saying the "only downside was now I want to go get a cat." How fab is that?

Both were totally unexpected and I am grateful. Frankly, I had not been paying too much attention to Murder is a Family Business, as A Wedding to Die For has been garnering all the nominations and awards lately.
I won the 'silver' over at Preditors and Editors for Best Mystery, 2011, and I am one of the finalists for EPIC Best eBook Mystery of the year, 2012.
None of this would have been possible without my fellow authors and the network of people who have been supportive and wonderful. Thank you, one and all!!
Hey, I'm stoked! I'm happy! I feel like a soccer mom with great kids, only my kids are books!


On to a little self-promoting:

To purchase an eBook of Murder is a Family Business, go to MuseItUp or for a print book, visit Amazon at where they are on sale for 1/2 price!

To purchase an eBook of A Wedding to Die For, go to MuseItUp or for the print book, visit Amazon at

There is also the Heather Haven Mystery Bundle at MuseItUp, where both eBooks are 15%less as a package! Visit

Friday, February 17, 2012

Welcome Marva Dasef, author of The Midnight Oil, Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?


Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff.

When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend, and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all, she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help the hapless mutants in the nick of time.


Kat sprinted up the cobbled pathway to Mordita’s door. She remembered the first time she’d come to the old witch’s home, she’d gotten zapped by the spike and horseshoe doorknocker. She learned fast—don’t use the knocker. She rapped on the wood instead.

The door swung open. Kat walked into the dimly-lit living room, and the door closed behind her. Glancing around, she waited for her eyes to adjust. She didn’t see Mordita, but her familiar, a fat orange tiger cat, curled on one of the damask-covered chairs by the fireplace.

“Kudzu, where’s your mistress?” The cat opened one eye a squinch and nodded toward the door leading to the kitchen.

“Thanks.” Kat hurried over to the kitchen door. “Anyone home?” One never walked through a closed door without an invitation from the home’s occupant. The door swung inward, and Kat stepped into the tiny kitchen. Mordita leaned over the stove and pulled a tray from the oven.

“Ah, Katrina, I’m glad you stopped by. I made cookies for your trip.”

“So, you heard already?”

The old woman chuckled. “You know I hear everything.”

Kat smiled. No doubt Mordita kept track of current events. “Thanks for the cookies, but I have to hurry. We’re just about ready to leave.”

The sorceress tossed the cookie sheet into the air. The cookies flew off, circling the kitchen twice. Kat ducked to avoid the flying disks, which grouped into a neat pile and dropped into a waiting basket. The lid slammed shut, and the basket jetted over to Kat, who caught it on the fly.

“Quick enough for you?” The old woman cackled. Kat knew Mordita’s patented cackle was worse than her bite, so she just grinned. She stepped in front of the witch and threw her free arm around her shoulders.

Mordita raised one hand and patted Kat on the shoulder. “Now, now. We’ll see each other again soon.”

“You promise?” Kat asked, hoping she might know for certain.

“Just an educated guess,” Mordita replied, slipping out of Kat’s hug. “But I have something else for you.” The crone reached into an apron pocket and withdrew an amulet hanging on a silver chain. She slipped it over the young witch’s head.

Plucking it up from her chest, Kat looked down at it. It, too, was silver, but tarnished so heavily it seemed almost black. “What is it?” She squinted at the dim shapes and symbols etched into the silver disk.

“It’s a good luck coin. I know it’s hard to see, but that’s Medusa. I got it from her…um, that is, my family passed it down to me. Medusa personally handed it to a great, great, great something-or-other relative of mine.”

“Wasn’t Medusa evil?” Kat asked, a frown tugging at her mouth.

“Not all the time, dear. Mostly, people just misunderstood her. Don’t you worry. The amulet protects against snakes.”

“Snakes?” Kat’s voice rose an octave. “Why will I need protection against snakes? Will I run into snakes?”

Mordita frowned and then made shooing motions with her hands. “Now, now. I don’t see anything like that. It’s just a gift.”

“Thanks.” Kat gave the witch another hug. The old lady squirmed from Kat’s grasp.

“Enough, girl. Run along and find the boy.”

“I’ll try. See you later.” Kat sprinted to the front door, and it opened just in time for her to pass through. Pausing, she looked back, wishing she’d said something more, but she had no idea what.

Bolting down the walk, Kat was glad she’d cleaned the slime off the stones, even if Mordita didn’t appreciate it. I still owe her a three-fold favor.

A little bit about the series from the author:


The older, wise person is common character in YA fantasy. The stories of apprentices to wizards, squires to knights, experienced gamers to the new players, a wise dragon to a young magician, Dumbledor to Harry Potter. The elder provides not only a character who is not green behind the ears, but also a contrast of the adult to the protagonist, who’s generally a teenager.

In the first book of the Witches of Galdorheim series, we meet a reclusive old sorceress who decides to help Kat leave her island home in search of her father’s family. Mordita is not friendly with the other witches, and has a particular dislike (mutual) of Thordis, the head witch of the island. The elder witch at first decides to assist Kat in her runaway plans to tweak Thordis. She thinks it’d be hilarious to see Thordis freak out when Kat and her brother, Rune, disappear. Along the way, Mordita uncomfortably finds herself liking the teen witch, and her mission changes from making Thordis mad to actually helping Kat in her journey.

In this latest book, Mordita becomes more prominent in the story when Kat is lost at sea. She actively aids Thordis and Ardyth in searching for not one, but three, lost kids. Later in the story we find out that Mordita has a secret, but I can’t say what since I hope it will be a surprise.

Aunt Thordis also mentors Kat and Rune, but in a more distant manner. She frets about their safety and takes measures to find the lost kids. But, emotionally, she stays aloof. Thordis feels the entire village of witches are under her care and uses that argument when she asks the witch community for help in locating Kat and Rune. The witches’ council isn’t too eager to use their resources on the girl they view as always getting into trouble (from the first book) and in constant need of bailing out. However the others might argue against taking drastic measures, Thordis is a formidable witch and a bossy one at that. Thordis will have her way.

A third mentor appears in Midnight Oil. Kat’s grandfather, Ivansi, guides Rune in his own perilous journey. The old man, a Sami warrior, amazes Rune more than once with his abilities. He negotiates with the mutant Nenets tribe, leads Rune to the island of the Nenets gods to gather information and across the arctic seas to find the healing Midnight Oil.

I believe having adult mentors in YA fantasy is not only common, but an almost necessary part of the story. The young protagonists may have magical power or other supernatural abilities, but nearly always they need a little guidance from those who’ve gone through the same things before.

So, respect your elders, younglings. You may need their advice one day.



Marva Dasef lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat. Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation. Marva has published more than forty stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies. She has several previously published books. Her latest pride and joy is the Witches of Galdorheim Series from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp.



Marva Dasef Website:
MuseItUp Buy Page:
Amazon Link:
MuseItUp Author Page:
Twitter Handle: @Gurina
Midnight Oil Trailer:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tugger Cookies Are A Winner In The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries

I am in the cookie business. It just goes to show you. When you become an author, you become the chief, cook and bottle-washer of your literary career. I should have known 'baker' was right around the corner.
I stole this idea from another mystery writer and cyber buddy, Cindy Sample, author of Dying For a Date. Cindy makes cookies to be given out to anyone who purchases her book at events. In fact, it got so popular, she started selling the cookies and giving away the book with each purchase. Now that's enterprising! Cindy's cookies are in the outline of a dead body, sort of an offed gingerbread man, and they are very cute. See below and to the right.
If imitation is the sincerely form of flattery then consider yourself flattered, Cindy!
Back to me. I haven't baked anything in decades, so I prevailed upon my friends to reacquaint me with the process. First, having decided I wanted to have the cookies in the form of one of my on-going characters, Tugger, the cat, I sent away for some cat shaped cookie cutters. They took 3-weeks to arrive. Meanwhile, I started planning. Good friend, fellow writer, and cracker-jack pastry chef, Baird Nuckolls, gave me some cookie dough she had in her freezer. I knew it would be yummy, her being a pastry chef and all. I rolled it out, cut it into little cat shapes and baked them. I was a nervous wreck. I haven't baked since the Magna Carta was signed. I was there, you know. Third rock from the King.
But I digress. After the cookies cooled I tried to frost one of them. 'Tried' is the operative word. It took me over one hour to decorate one cookie. You can see the results in the pics. It was a lot of trial and error and I took a lot of poetic license from the image of the real Tugger. All in all, it took me six hours of standing on my feet to bake and decorate eight cookies. This wasn't looking good.
My back was killing me. My kitchen looked like it had been in a food fight. I, personally, was completely covered in Royal frosting, but, by gawd, I had a cookie. Then I discovered the little darlings are an endangered species. The cookies went almost immediately especially as there weren't that many of them to begin with. So much for what I had to show for my work.
Enter another pal and amateur baker, Kathleen Drotar. She invited me over to her homey kitchen where I made, under her supervision, two and half dozen sugar cookies. I'm getting better! I was still covered in cookie dough and her kitchen was a mess, but I had thirty cookies to show for a morning's work!
I've learned it's best to do cookies in stages. After baking them at Kathleen's, I put the little cat beauties in my freezer, and they are awaiting an event to be frosted. I understand cookies can stay frozen for months. Yippee!! There are a couple of events coming up, and I'm looking forward to handing out these tasty little morsels to anyone who buys my book.
Everyone seems to love cookies. Lord knows, I can't keep them in my house unless they're under house arrest. My husband has promised me faithfully he will not go into the box containing the unfrosted cookies no matter what. Our marriage depends on this promise. He knows it; I know it; the cookies know it.


Cindy Sample's website can be found at: Drop by and visit her!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Welcome Catherine Evans Latta, Author of Beirut Summer

Please help me welcome friend and fellow author, Catherine Evans Latta! I adore her and she's a very fine writer.
Beirut Summer, a heartfelt and stirring book of poetry, is a book I tend to leave out on the coffee table as an offering for anyone to pick up and read. It's easy to become immersed in, and you find yourself going from poem to poem again and again! For more about this wonderful book and this fascinating woman, visit her website at

Let's get to know Catherine a little better with her answers to the interview!

1. What is your favorite book? No one favorite

2. Who is your favorite writer? Scott Turow

3. If the answers to 1 & 2 are different, why? I read a lot

4. How old were you when you were first published? Not counting school,: 43

5. What writing style do you most abhor? Introspective self examination

6. What is your favorite writing clichĂ©? Don’t Know

7. What is your favorite word? Just no favorite, but one’s I just try to avoid – like “just”

8. When and how do you write? (typewriter, Mac, in a café, for four hours each morning, etc?) PC 4hrs mid morning to afternoon

9. What is your greatest fear when you first turn in a manuscript? Typos and overused words

10. In what era do you wish you’d been born? I’m happy with this one

11. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? JUST EVEN

12. Which talent would you most like to have? Artistic

13. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting poetry published

14. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? No one in particular –read too many books

15. How would you like to die? Old and suddenly!


See below for a sample of Catherine's stunning poetry:

Driving at Noon 4/7/08
heat waves are rising from the road
drawing the snakes from their winter pits
calling them--come lie with me
follow my curves to linger in my heat
and lie on my black bed.
Let your tongues flicker and play
across the pungent scents rising
from me— find bliss, ecstasy
and ease your ribs upon my back.
Forget the wheel that
brings a writhing climax.
Heady as the snakes longing
for heat in June, I am drawn
to you to twine myself and roll
as the curves of passion coil
down on us to the last
inevitable shudder.


Thanks for dropping by, Catherine! Once again, here's the link to Catherine's website

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Take on Blogging Into 2012, an "Introspective"

Yesterday my final guest 'broke bread' with me on Blogging into 2012 aka This and That. This month long journey has seen a variety of men and women writers presented, one highlighted each day. They cover every genre in writing imaginable, whether it be fantasy, romance, scifi, paranormal, YA, mystery, memoir, or fill in the blank. These 31 authors come from different walks of life and different parts of the world. Some are young, some are old, some aren't talking. Many have never met in the flesh, all of us being pretty much cyber buddies, but that doesn't mean there isn't genuine, shared devotion.
What each one has in common with the other is talent, dedication, sincerity, and good will. Most importantly, whatever life has dealt them, each one has chosen to write. Possibly, like me, they are driven to write.
In rereading the interviews, I am moved by how many consider their children to be their greatest accomplishment, how they appreciate their loved ones, how blessed most of them feel. I am touched by how the very act of writing and joy of being published spurs them on. I should say, spurs us on. For I strive to be one of these people, most certainly. It is devoutly to be wished.
I want to thank each author for taking the time to visit This and That, and for sometimes sharing personal or little known facts. Thank you for your generosity, your kindness, and your openness of spirit.

I treasure each of you.


Below is the list of guests for Blogging into 2012:
January 1 – Roseanne Dowell
January 2 – Terri Mann
January 3 – Grace DeLuca
January 4– Laura Novak
January 5 – Dale Thompson
January 6 – Gail Roughton Branan
January 7 – Ginger Simpson
January 8 – Karen Cote
January 9 - Larriane AKA Larion Wills
January 10 – Margay
January 11– S.J. Clark (Sandra)
January 12– Diane Barr
January 13 – Kristen Battestella
January 14– Rosemary Morris
January 15– BarbaraE
January 16 - Brian Knight
January 17 – Marva Dasef
January 18 - Wendy L
January 19 – Dale Thompson
January 20 – Maggie Lyons
January 21 – Penny Ehrenkranz
January 22 – Cyrus Keith
January 23 – Killarney Sheffield
January 24 - Scarlett Valentine
January 25 - Dianne Hartsock
January 26 – J.Q. Rose
January 27 – Ingrid Ricks
January 28 - Lin Holmes
January 29 – Susan A. Royal
January 30– Jim Hartley
January 31– Kat Holmes