Day 15 ~ Digging Up Secrets

Between my horticultural research for my Port Aster Secrets series and the endless challenges of maintaining our century farmhouse, I had plenty of creative fodder for the Victorian Mansion Flower Shop Mysteries Annie’s Fiction contracted me to write. 

Then it happened…

Our well stopped working. Only, the wellhead was buried and we didn’t know where it was! So…we started digging near where the pipe entered the basement wall. And by the time we found the wellhead, we’d dug a grave-size hole. 

Of course, then I’m thinking: What if we find a body in the hole?

And the plot for Digging Up Secrets was born. 

Click the image to read the back cover blurb.

Thankfully, we didn’t find a body, but poor Kaylee did at the flower shop she took over from her grandmother on beautiful Orcas Island, Washington.

Now that would’ve been a lovely spot to indulge in a research trip!  

Purchase Options for the Victorian Mansion Flower Shop Mysteries

I’ve written 3 novels in the 24-book series. They are available in hardcover or Ebook by subscription to Annie’s Fiction for the entire multi-author series. A limited number of one-time-purchase bundles (3, 6, and 12 book bundles) are also available for this series here: https://anniesfiction.com/shop#bundles and here: https://anniescatalog.com/arts_and_crafts/list.html?cat_id=2528 The second site also features Annie’s magazines and crafts, and often has sales. For example, yesterday they were offering 20% off everything on the site.

Twenty-plus years ago I subscribed to Annie’s CrossStitch magazine. I never imagined that one day I’d be writing for them! 

Book Giveaway #9 

Congratulations to Barbara Raymond, your name was drawn from amongst the commenters on this blog since May 30th. I’ll send you your choice of one of my first 24 books (some titles have limited availability). Email me to let me know your choice and mailing address. 

For Everyone else…there’s more giveaways to come. 

Be sure to download your free copy of A Fool and His Monet before Friday. 

And enter the rafflecopter giveaway for my newest release, Boughs of Folly.Boughs of Folly cozy mystery 

 

Day 14 ~ The Hound and the Fury

Lots of Firsts

The Hound and the Fury was my first Annie’s Fiction title, my first cozy mystery, my first audio book, and my first Amish setting, although the main character isn’t Amish. 

cover art for the Hound and the Fury

Audio Books

I discovered last night, while writing this post, that I now have books in audio! How cool is that?

They’re reasonably priced too. You can subscribe to receive one audio book in the Amish Inn Mysteries every three weeks for $5.99, (same price as Ebooks). The Hound and The Fury is #17 of 24. 

Back Cover Blurb:

A dog show has come to Pleasant Creek, and Liz Eckardt is hosting both two- and four-footed guests at the Olde Mansion Inn. After a busy day of Christmas preparations, a visit to the dog show seems like the perfect way to unwind. 

But more than a few people are barking mad at one of the judges. It seems he has a predilection for pets of the toy variety, and owners of the big dogs may not be getting a fair shake. When the judge goes belly-up, stabbed with Liz’s knife, Liz knows she must jump into action. Someone’s committed murder in the first pedigree, but who? 

Meanwhile, one of Liz’s guests has hightailed it out of town. Convinced her guest’s disappearance is not just a clever trick, Liz can’t help but nose around. Turns out the murdered man had more than one enemy willing to fight tooth and nail to see him dead–and some of them lie sleeping under Liz’s own roof. 

Can Liz and her pack of pals, Amy, Beans, and the Material Girls, collar a criminal before more trouble is unleashed?

The Inspiration

This is Bella and that’s the acting award she won for a production my daughter produced. She doesn’t actually do that many tricks, but she does them with enthusiasm! 😆 And her love of doing anything for a cookie, along with a neighbour’s yard full of dog agility equipment inspired the dog competition venue for this murder mystery. 

I’m still giving away books

I still have 17 more books to give away in my 25-book giveaway in celebration of the release of my 25th novel this month, so if The Hound and the Fury sounds like a book you’d like to read, let me know in the comments.  

Ten of the books left to give away will be through this rafflecopter giveaway. There’s only 4 days left to enter, so don’t delay! 

Win 1 of 10 copies of Boughs of Folly

Today is the LAST Day: 

Download Identity Withheld for only $1.99 for:

Kindle from Amazon US, from Amazon Canada iBook from Apple, Nook,  EPub from HQN, GooglePlay, and Kobo 

You can also still…

Download A Fool and His Monet for free. Get it for: Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Google Play, and iBook

Day 13 ~ Over Maya Dead Body

As you can tell, my editorial team and I had a lot of fun creating punny titles for my Serena Jones Mysteries. Over Maya Dead Body, about smuggled Mayan antiquities, was the final instalment in the series…at least for now.

I sincerely still hope to write Easy Come Easy Go, A Cezanne for Love, and whatever other fun titles present themselves. 🙂 

Midwest books review: another deftly crafted masterpiece

The Spoilers Facebook Chat Group

After Over Maya Dead Body released, an awesome Serena fan from Australia, Katie Donovan, suggested we start a Facebook group where readers could discuss the books, and commiserate over broken dreams (if Serena didn’t choose their male pick). She even volunteered to be the group’s admin with me, and so the “Let’s Chat About Serena Spoiler Group” was born!

It’s on Facebook and to join the group, you need to answer 3 questions to prove you’ve read the books, (or at least the final one), because we sure don’t want to spoil the ending for you. 😆 

Since it’s been 5 years since Over Maya Dead Body released, we don’t chat much these days. But new readers, who hear about the group, trickle in from time to time, and it’s always fun to hear what they thought about the ending. I’ve also shared deleted scenes there that I didn’t want to share publicly, because they’d be spoilers to those who haven’t read the books. There’s even a fan fiction proposal from one of our members for the opening of the next Serena Jones mystery. 😎 

So…if you’re reading A Fool and His Monet for the first time, or the hundredth…

You do know A Fool and His Monet is FREE this week, right? 

Get it for your favourite device or all of them:

Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Google Play, and iBook

…when you finish the series, consider joining the chat group. You’ll be the first to hear when that elusive next instalment finally comes to fruition. 

Our Eighth Book Recipient: 

In honour of the chat group, today’s recipient was randomly chosen from that group. Congratulations Pam Kellogg! Let me know which book you’d like. And as a special thank you, Katie Donovan and Laurie Benner, I want to send you books too. Let me know your picks. (We won’t count those 2 toward the 25 book giveaway 😉 )

In other News…

Tomorrow is the last day to get Identity Withheld at the special $1.99 price. 

And you still have all this week to enter the rafflecopter giveaway for Boughs of Folly. 10 books to be given away!

 

Day 12 ~ Another Day Another Dali

Kirkus Review of Another Day Another Dali

 

When Life and Fiction Intersect

My favourite scene from this book depicts Serena babysitting a friend’s toddler, by the name of Jed. My own grandson was the inspiration for this scene, and I loved the scene so much, I dedicated the book to him. But the very night after I submitted my draft to the editor, complete with its dedication, I received the scariest call of my life and feared the dedication would be to my sweet grandson’s memory. 

Thankfully, that night and through the many weeks that followed, the Lord mightily answered our prayers (and those of thousands upon thousands of friends of friends of friends around the world), and Jed is growing into a fine young man. 

 

But there’s another eerie connection between that same scene in the story and my life that summer–a connection I didn’t realize until I reviewed Another Day Another Dali’s bonus features while writing this blog. 

Serena’s response to Matt’s plea for her to babysit was:

“…someone tried to make a bus sandwich out of my car last night. You don’t want me anywhere near your child right now.”

Matt’s face went pasty, but he shook his head. “It can’t be helped. I’ve got no one else close enough. I’ve got to get Tracey to the hospital. There’s something wrong, but she refuses to go in with Jed along. She doesn’t want him to be frightened. She almost died with the last—” His voice faltered.  

A month and a half after Jed’s near fatal accident, my daughter-in-law experienced Matt’s pregnant wife’s scenario. Once again, our prayers were thankfully answered. Mom and baby (born under 2 lbs) survived and thrived. And we celebrated blessings upon blessings. 

Now whenever I hear Cory Asbury’s “Death Where is Thy Sting” song, I’m immediately transported back to that summer. 

Death, where is your sting?
Grave, where is your victory?
He’s alive, He’s alive
He’s risen

 

Have a wonderful Sunday! 

Check out yesterday’s post for current freebies, deals and giveaways. Tomorrow, I’ll post the next book recipient in my 25 book giveaway to celebrate the release of my 25th book. 

Day 11 ~ A Fool and His Monet

Funnest Story to Write Ever!

I absolutely loved every aspect of writing A Fool and HIs Monet, about FBI Special Agent Serena Jones and the art crimes she investigates.  

First of all, St. Louis–Serena’s hometown–is an amazing city to explore. 

My friend Vicki McCollum and her sister-in-law treated me to an in-depth tour of the city’s neighborhoods, eateries, famous places, hospitals, the art museum and all the other awesome destinations within the amazing Forest Park. We explored potential locations for Serena’s apartment, her folks’ home, the locales of various crimes and so much more. 

Secondly, I was permitted to visit Serena’s workplace, the FBI headquarters in St. Louis, and interview her real world counterpart. What an enlightening experience that was. 

Then there was the fascinating research into art crimes and how they’re investigated. 

We all lose a piece of our common heritage when art is stolen.

Creating Serena Jones

Lastly, creating the character of Serena Jones was a delicious escapade all its own!

her quirky characters are laugh-out-loud funny and reminiscent of...

 

The Serena Jones Mysteries were my first foray into writing in first person, and I discovered I really enjoy writing in that point of view. Of course, it helps when the character has as active a thought life as Serena. The two great–and seemingly opposite–guys in her life helps too. 😆 

I'm pretty sure this is not what my mom meant when she said I needed more men in my life.

Serena’s personality is partly based on my experience growing up as the daughter of British parents and is partly inspired by my friend Laurie Benner’s quirks and wit. I affectionately call Laurie Serena’s alter ego. 😎 

We spent many laughter-filled evenings hashing out several scenes.

Did I mention the guys in Serena’s life? 😉 

Their relationships are strictly friends, but I invited readers to tell me which of the two she should end up with at the end of the series. Unfortunately, my publisher decided to end the series after only three books, which meant mere months after this book released, the tally had to be taken. 

And what a heated race it was! 

His gaze skittered from my Glock to my face...

Download A Fool and His Monet for FREE

The best news of all is that for the next 6 days, you can download a digital copy of A Fool and His Monet for free!

Get it for: Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Google Play, and iBook

Although if you prefer holding a book in your hands, some retailers still have print copies for sale. 

If you missed downloading Deadly Devotion for FREE, today is your last day. 

You can also still enter: the rafflecopter giveaway for Boughs of Folly

Your Turn:

Are you a Serena Jones fan? 

P.S. Our 7th book recipient is…

Randomly selected from amongst newsletter subscribers, today’s recipient is: “jers1958.” Congratulations! I’ve sent you an email to ask you which book you’d like mailed.  

Day 10 ~ Emergency Reunion

Emergency Reunion, novel #10 in my countdown, is another in which I learned so much while researching the heroine’s occupation. She’s a paramedic quietly battling PTSD. It’s also a reunion romance, which are always fun to write, since the hero and heroine already have some history from the outset. 

You can read an excerpt of the story here: Emergency Reunion Excerpt by Sandra Orchard

Book Cover for Emergency Reunion by Sandra Orchard

The heroine of this story is the cousin who made a cameo appearance in Identity Withheldwhich…not wanting to sound like a broken record, but if you haven’t heard…is on sale for $1.99 (at Kobo, Amazon, Google, B&N) for a few more days. 

Review of Boughs of Folly

Please visit Pat Bradley’s blog where she is sharing her review of my upcoming release, Boughs of Folly.The 3-book Jingle Bells Mystery bundle will soon be available from Annie’s Fiction

Click here to Enter the draw for 1 of 10 copies of Boughs of Folly

Day 9 ~ Desperate Measures & Our Next Giveaway Recipient

Yesterday, my eldest granddaughter told me she’d just read my entire Port Aster Secrets series. As she recounted the ending and told me how much it surprised her, I realized it surprised me too.

Because I didn’t remember the ending! 

I’m not kidding.

I’d forgotten my own ending’s twist! 😳 

But it explains, Nora’s reference to “a fresh and unique twist” in her review of this one.   😆 

Review and Image of Desperate Measures, Book 3 in Port Aster Secrets by Sandra Orchard

Each book in this series was honoured with a Word Award from The Word Guild, and Desperate Measures was also a top pick from Night Owl Reviews. Their reviewer Arlena Dean said of it: 

“…I loved how the author was able to give me a mystery with lots of conspiracy as well as non-stop action. The author’s writing will have you guessing you know the answer but later finding out you didn’t have a clue….” 

I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I enjoyed writing it. And one added note, I highly recommend reading this series in order, as later books are spoilers for the mysteries in prior books.

Also please, please, please…

don’t read the ending first. My granddaughter admitted doing so with Deadly Devotion and I was soooo disappointed. I try very hard to craft plots that will keep readers guessing whodunit right to the end. 

And without further ado…

The next book recipient (this one from visitors to my Seekerville post) is Lee-Ann. Lee-Ann please email me to let me know your mailing info and which book you’d like to receive.

BTW, Rochelle, if you missed the announcement a couple of days ago that you won Critical Condition, please be sure to check your bulk/promotions folder in gmail or spam, if you haven’t seen my email in your inbox. I need to hear back from you! 

More Goodies for Everyone

I’m hesitant to repeat these everyday, but for those who might be visiting this blog for the first time, this is the list of current deals, giveaways and freebies: 

Book Cover of Deadly DevotionDownload Deadly Devotion for Free (before June 11)

 

 

 

Buy Identity Withheld for only $1.99 (before June 14th)

 

 

 

Boughs of Folly cozy mystery

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for 1 of 10 copies of Boughs of Folly before Father’s Day

 

 

I will also randomly select recipients from among newsletter subscribers, those who interact with my Facebook page, and commenters on this month’s blog posts. 

Many thanks to all who are making this month’s celebration so much fun!

Day 8 ~ Identity Withheld

image of dog Rusty from Identity Withheld

This is Rusty, the self-proclaimed hero of Identity Withheld. “After all,” he says, with a tongue-lolling grin, “Kara is always hugging me.” 

Of course, our firefighter hero (my FBI agent’s brother), did suspect the heroine of being an arsonist upon first sight, whereas, Rusty adored her at first sight. 🙂 

Another fun fact: the heroine, Kara Grant, is named after one of my newsletter subscribers!

Back Cover Blurb: 

WITNESS IN HIDING

After exposing an illegal adoption ring, newly named “Kara Grant” is promised safety in Witness Protection. But someone has found her—and wants her dead. If only she could trust the handsome firefighter who catches her fleeing from a suspicious fire. Jake Steele seems to think she’s guilty of burning her own home. But how can she tell him who she really is and what she’s been through without bringing danger to the widowed father’s door? Yet with the criminals fast closing in, taking such a risk might be her only chance at survival. Because the price she’ll pay for her silence could be her life.

The Special price of $1.99 on this multi-award-winning novel is good until 6/14/2022. 

Your Turn: Do you like firefighter heroes? What about animals in novels? 

 

Day 7 ~ Featuring Blind Trust & Announcing 3 More Recipients

Blind Trust is the second award-winning instalment in the Port Aster Secrets series from Revell Publishing. 

Cover for Blind Trust and Review from Booklist

Check out my Day 5 post for more about the series.

Catnip Hair Rinse & Reducing Grey

Funnily, a bonus feature connected to my research for this series has one of the highest number of search hits on my website, second only to “How to Escape Jury Duty.” 🙂  

It’s a recipe for Catnip Hair Rinse. Our yard has an abundance of catnip. I dry it for a sleepy-time tea, although I have tried the rinse.  

One of the tips I include in the recipe is that while steeping your catnip, to add an 1/8th cup each of rosemary and sage per cup of water if you wish to reduce grey hair. Despite anticipating the arrival of my 12th grandchild this summer, I haven’t developed more than the odd strand of grey just yet. So…I can’t speak to how well that works, but I’d love to hear how it works for you, if you try it! 🙂 

Three More Recipients of Complimentary Books

From my visit to the Suspense Sisters blog: Lucy R will receive a copy of Deadly Devotion

From my newsletter subscribers: Carolyn Coo… will receive Hidden Threats from the Sweet Intrigue collection

From those who have commented so far on my blog: Rochelle receives a copy of Critical Condition. 

P.S. I will be drawing from amongst all the blog comments another time or two before the 25th  

Writers & Aspiring Writers, Join me on Seekerville Today

banner for Seekerville & Sandra's post on Giving Distinctive Voices to the People in Your Head

I’ll be giving away a book while I’m there this week, too. 

For Everyone: 

Download Deadly Devotion for Free

 

 

 

 

Buy Identity Withheld for only $1.99: 

 

 

 

 

Boughs of Folly cozy mystery

Enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway for 1 of 10 copies of Boughs of Folly

Day 6 ~ Revisiting Perilous Waters

The idea for Perilous Waters came to me while taking an Alaskan cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary, and I attended an art auction aboard. I’d already been researching the work of the FBI Art Crime Team, so when I saw the art auction, I knew I’d found my setting! 

scene from art auction

I learned so many things about art crime while researching my FBI agent’s background, which eventually became the springboard for my Serena Jones Mysteries. 🙂 

book cover for Perilous Waters, a cruise ship and glacier

Back Cover Blurb:

For FBI agent Sam Steele, there’s no room for error or emotions on his latest undercover assignment. Getting close to gallery owner Jennifer Robbins while on an Alaskan cruise is the only way to catch her dealing stolen art. Out on the icy seas, Jen suddenly goes from suspect to victim when she’s targeted by a deadly enemy. And Sam’s mission goes from investigating an art crime to protecting the woman who’s begun to melt his heart. As danger looms closer, he’ll do anything to save her life—even if it costs him his own. 

Let me know if this sounds like a book you’d like to read. 

Special Deals & Giveaways

Sam Steele of Perilous Waters is the brother to the hero of Identity Withheld, currently on sale for $1.99.

book cover for mystery called Deadly Devotion by Sandra Orchard

Win 1 of 10 copies of Boughs of Folly