On Pens and Needles

My third cozy mystery with Annie’s Fiction shipped this month to subscribers of the Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library series. I love this series set at a luxurious mansion on Cape Cod that serves as a place for book lovers and writers retreats. 

On Pens and Needles is the thirteenth book in the multi-author series, set in October, so I had fun playing off various superstitions.

I love the title the publisher chose. It’s reminiscent of all those fun Serena Jones Mysteries titles. 🙂

Sadly for those hoping to pick up my book without subscribing to the whole series, it isn’t available through regular retail outlets. However, sometimes you can find used copies for sale online or at flea markets or donated to your local library. 

For those in Niagara, Ontario, I plan to donate a copy of this and my other Annie’s Fiction titles to my local library, which once it’s catalogued means it will be available throughout Niagara via interlibrary loan. I’ll keep you posted. 

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The spine-tingling scene is set at Castleton Manor in Lighthouse Bay, Massachusetts, when the grand mansion plays host to a retreat for horror writers and fans. Librarian Faith Newberry feels unusually ill at ease about the event celebrating frightening stories, and all the talk of superstitions and bad omens makes her apprehensive. Her sense of foreboding only grows when the retreat organizer devises a series of hair-raising stunts to keep the guests constantly on edge.

But then something happens that no one could have predicted. One of the stunts turns deadly.

As Faith and her friends in the Candle House Book Club investigate the suspicious death, another mystery develops. Horror novelist Pierce Baltimore becomes the victim of pranks inspired by his latest book. The writer made many enemies during his climb to the top of the best-seller list, so is someone seeking revenge? Or are the pranks just part of the retreat’s entertainment?

Join Faith and her friends—including her dedicated cat, Watson—as they roll the dice on these two mysteries. Will they be able to solve them both before Pierce’s luck runs out?

If you get a chance to read this book, I hope you enjoy it. I had a lot of fun with these characters. 

This is my 16th published novel. Check out the complete list here: http://sandraorchard.com/my-books/ 

 

Digging Up Secrets

“Where do you get your story ideas?” is the most common question I get asked.

For Digging Up Secrets, my upcoming cozy mystery from Annie’s Attic, the answer is . . . my life!

I was staying at the hospital with my grandson Jed when I was invited to write this story for a new multi-author Victorian Mansion Flower Shop cozy mystery series, but I knew instantly that I’d have no trouble finding fodder for it.

First of all, the heroine, Kaylee Bleu, has just taken over her grandmother’s flower shop housed in an old Victorian Mansion and I live in a similar old house—very old. In fact, two days before the editor contacted me I’d been home for the weekend and our well’s foot pump went kaput, so we had to dig down to the well head. Trouble was . . . we didn’t know where it was!

We had a general idea, based on where the pipes entered the basement, and began digging. But by the time we unearthed the well head, we had a grave-size hole, five feet deep beside our house. So . . .

Of course, I knew the same trouble needed to befall Kaylee. And although being without water for several days is troublesome enough for a flower shop with countless thirsty flowers inside, how much better to find unknown human remains in the hole?

Thankfully, that part came from my imagination, not personal experience!

Then again . . . when my kids were younger, they did set up an “archaeological dig” next to our house and came across some bones.

But I’m pretty sure they were old beef bones a dog had buried.

I hope.

But I digress.

As if we didn’t have enough crazy things to deal with that summer, once we had the new pump installed, the awesome improved water pressure blew our hot water tank and flooded the basement. So . . .

Guess what other trouble Kaylee will face, besides trying to figure out who’s buried in her backyard? 🙂  To make matters worse, the police are slow to release the crime scene and allow the plumber to get her well back in operation, which not only puts her plants’ health in jeopardy, but her entire business.

It also helps that I have tons of “plant research” under my belt from my Port Aster Secrets series. 

Translation: I know lots of plants that can kill hurt people, as well as many ways forensic botanists can glean clues from crime scenes.  😉 

myrtle spurge

Did I mention Kaylee has a PhD in plant taxonomy, and had been a university professor who also did forensic botany consulting for law enforcement, before her position was suddenly eliminated?

Kaylee also tends to refer to plants by their taxonomical name, rather than their common name, a phenomenon I also have ample experience with, since my eldest daughter studied horticulture for three years.

Sadly, I didn’t actually get to visit the story’s locale, the picturesque Orcas Island of the San Juan archipelago off the west coast of Washington State, but I did a lot of “island life” research for Over Maya Dead Body, which helped.

So aside from interviewing a few florists for anecdotal details and reading up on Orcas Island, this was one book I could dive right into writing. Or should I say dig?

 

About Digging Up Secrets:

Nothing is coming up roses for Kaylee Bleu. Not only are all of the plants in her flower shop going thirsty because of a busted well pump, but a competing florist on Orcas Island is stealing customers from The Flower Patch. As if that wasn’t enough to turn her into Florist Grump, a new client who could be Kaylee’s golden ticket to the lucrative country club set is also her most persnickety yet—and continuously threatens to take her business elsewhere.

But all of that seems like no big deal when Kaylee’s plumber discovers a fractured skull in her shop’s yard. The remains belong to Danny Lane, a troubled teen accused of killing a high school girl in a boating accident thirty-five years ago. The consensus around Turtle Cove was that the boy fled town shortly after the accident, but Kaylee thinks the holes in that story are as big as the grave-size pit dug up around her well head.

Unfortunately, somebody on Orcas Island wants Kaylee to leave the past buried.

 

Image courtesy of stockdevil at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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