Monday, March 21, 2011

Foxy's Tale

Today I'm pleased to introduce readers to a newly released book by two great authors. I recently read and enjoyed Foxy's Tale. The story is fast paced and fun and the characters are likable and real. Grab it now before the price goes up.

Authors Karen Cantwell Take the Monkeys and Run and LB Gschwandtner The Naked Gardener decided they would like to collaborate on a project. They wanted it to be a book for and about women, but it had to be fun and they really wanted to throw a vampire into the mix.  But their vampire would be . . . different.  The result, now available for readers on Amazon’s Kindle, is Foxy’s Tale:

Foxy Anders has a list of problems as long as a shopping spree receipt from Neiman Marcus. She’s a retail spender with no money to spare and a former beauty queen with no man in her life. After a nightmare divorce she’s left with one asset, a building off Washington, D.C.’s classy DuPont Circle. By turning the ground floor into an antique shop, Foxy figures she has an excuse to spend money … that she doesn’t have.

Foxy also has a teenaged daughter, Amanda, who likes to blog secretly about her biggest problem – Foxy. At least, she thinks Foxy is her biggest problem. But that’s all about to change when she hooks up with Nick, a cute guy at school who evidently has a gift for attracting older women. Amanda just doesn’t know HOW much older they really are.

When Foxy rents the garden apartment to stylish, shoe-fettishista Knot, who turns out to have a knack for talking wealthy Washington A-listers into Foxy’s antiques, it looks as if Foxy will make it on her own after all. Except that Knot is also a genius at creating problems … in his love life.

They’re a quirky threesome to be sure, but when mysterious, bumbling, Myron Standlish arrives on the scene with a suitcase full of Yiddish-isms, he brings along his own set of problems, larger and stranger than all of theirs put together. Oy vey. How will Myron’s personal journey affect their lives? Well … that’s Foxy’s Tale.

A comic, chick lit, coming-of-age, vampire tale (sort of) where family triumphs over adversity and mother and daughter learn how to face the world as grownups – together.

Here’s a little excerpt:

Myron has put a small kettle on the electric stove to boil water. He opens a cabinet and pulls out a tin of tea and a tea strainer.

“You like lemon in your cuppa? Sugar? Honey? Milk? Vaht?” Myron asks.

Amanda shrugs. “I don’t know really. I never had tea before.”

“Ach,” Myron sniffs, “a child who never had tea. Vaht a country. I think sugar and milk for you then.

As he goes to the refrigerator, Amanda walks to the kitchen entryway. It’s just an open space at the end of the short counter. Myron doesn’t seem to know she’s followed him over and, as he opens the refrigerator door and bends down slightly to take a carton of milk from inside the door, Amanda has a clear view of the inside shelves.

“What are all those?” she asks and comes right up behind him to peer over his back at box upon box of vials of blood each set in its own hole row upon row in the boxes, as if some lab had dropped off blood drawn from dozens and dozens of patients. Amanda points at the vials and then sees, on the bottom shelf, flat bags of blood. The kind she’s seen at blood drives at school. “Wow,” she says. “That’s a whole lot of blood.”

Myron snaps up, the carton of milk in his hands. He almost collides with Amanda as he tries to hurriedly shut the refrigerator door. “”Nothing. That is nothing,” he mouths but it comes out dry as if he has a cough in his throat.

“But it’s a lot of blood,” Amanda insists. “What’s it all for?”

“Come, ve have some tea, now, and ve talk about things of interest.” He pours hot water into a tea pitcher and drops the strainer inside. He bustles over to get two mugs and brings out a bowl of sugar.

“But that is interesting. You have no food except milk and sugar and tea and all that blood?”

“An old man like me, what do I need but tea and a little milk now and then? You’ll see. Vehn you are getting old like me. So many disappointments in life.” He shakes his small, bald head. “You are young. Your disappointments are ahead of you. Come, ve drink tea, ve talk about life’s disappointments, eh?” Myron pours the tea and shoves the sugar bowl over to Amanda. They sit on bar stools at the counter facing the kitchen. Amanda glances warily at the refrigerator. She’s not about to let this go. But she’ll think about another way to find out what’s going on later. She sips at the tea. It’s sweet and milky and a little spicy. She likes it.


What people are saying about Foxy’s Tale

“Full of snappy characters, laughs, and mystery, peppered with lively details of Washington, DC., and brimming with enough shoe shopping to satisfy any fashionista. This new joint effort from Karen Cantwell and L B Gschwandtner is guaranteed to please! Can't wait for the next installment in this lively new series!”
– Misha Crews, Author of Her Secret Bodyguard

"Foxy’s Tale is irresistible fun – full of lively characters with a knack for trouble, laugh-out-loud dialogue, and story twists that will keep you reading deep into the night."
– Kim Wright Wiley, Author of Love in Mid Air

From now until April 25th, Foxy's Tale is available for just .99 cents, so if you’re looking for a light, fun read, give it a try today!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

#SampleSunday Night Camp

Night Camp is my children's book for middle grade readers. More and more children are getting Kindles and parents who are looking for affordable books might want to consider Night Camp.
About the book:
A spooky graveyard. A creepy basement. A pair of coffins.
Thirteen-year-old Shane Andrews hates summer camp. When his parents allow him to choose, Shane decides to pick the worst camp he can find. Night Camp must be terrible. For one thing, activities take place at night and campers sleep during the day. That can’t be good, Shane reasons. His parents will realize Night Camp is even worse than they thought and they’ll come back to get him. Then Shane’s plans for summer freedom fall apart. His cousin Brad, a boy with a huge collection of tabloid magazines, convinces Shane that two of the camp counselors are vampires. Shane enlists the help of Brad and a girl camper named Nicole. The three set out to save themselves and the other campers. Then Shane uncovers the secret of Night Camp…

Here's an excerpt from the middle of the book. Shane has concluded that the Talbot brothers, camp counselors are vampires. The counselors take the campers out to explore some local caverns. Shane likes to collect rocks and he manages to get separated from the group and get thoroughly lost.

            I dashed through the entrance and down a wide passageway. I didn't remember passing this way earlier, but I kept going. After all, one part of the cave looked pretty much like another. As long as I kept going in the right direction, I'd eventually find the others.
            Ten minutes later I had to admit to myself that I was lost. None of the passages or rooms looked even a tiny bit familiar. I had no idea if I was heading toward the opening or ever deeper into the cavern. At one point I'd followed the sound of trickling water and nearly toppled into a wide stream.
            "Have to save the light," I said out loud. It felt good to hear a human voice, even if it was my own. I switched off my flashlight and sat down with my back against the cave wall.  As soon as I stopped moving, cold seeped into me, and I pulled my knees up to my chest.
            "I won't panic. Wow, I must be freaking already, talking to myself. I could be lost in here for weeks or even forever. Boy, am I stupid for not paying attention."
            The thought of maybe starving to death made me hungry. I took my lunch out of my backpack and rationed myself to two bites of my squashed sandwich and one bite of my apple. My teeth were chattering so hard I could barely chew. I didn't open my orange juice.
            The light from the flashlight grew even dimmer, and I was forced to turn it off again. "I need a plan," I said. I didn't care anymore that I'd made a habit of speaking to myself out loud. "I guess the best thing to do is sit still and hope that someone finds me. Bloodhounds or something."
            "Wait," I said. "I didn't mean to say 'or something.'" Or something could mean vampires. I knew vampires could find me in the dark cave better than any bloodhound on earth. Starving to death had to be better than being attacked by hungry vampires.
            I sat shivering in the dark for what seemed like hours. Every once in a while I'd get up and stomp around in a small circle to warm myself. My feet went numb. They felt like blocks of wood glued to my legs.
                "Probably just a few minutes have passed, like in school when I can't wait for the bell to ring," I said finally, my teeth clicking with every word. I switched the light on again to check my watch.
            I gulped in surprise. Hours had passed. It was nearly morning.  
               I stood and stomped my feet and rubbed my hands together for warmth. That seemed about as effective as massaging an ice cube.
            "Help," I called half‑heartedly in case anyone was listening. My voice echoed off the cave walls, and then a minute later I heard a sound. At least, I thought I heard a sound.
            I didn't dare to breathe as I listened. There it was again. The faint squeaking that somehow seemed familiar. Only now it was closer.
            All at once I recognized that squeaking. I wanted to scream, only that would let the bat know exactly where I was. No point in handing out "Listen up, vampires, here's Shane" announcements.
            I couldn't just stand here and be killed without trying to escape. That would be even stupider than getting lost to begin with. I whirled and struck out blindly toward the opposite wall. I didn't even take time to switch on my flashlight.
            Somehow I managed to find the opening in the rock wall that led to another chamber. I groped my way through. This was the way I'd come in. I remembered that the next opening was directly opposite.
            The squeaking sounded as though it were only a few feet behind me now. I put on a burst of speed, taking off like a racehorse heading for the finish line.
                I took three giant strides and then the ground fell away. I felt myself tumbling into a space that turned into ice cold water. My entire body seemed to quick freeze as the water closed over my head.
            This isn't supposed to be here, I thought. 
            I could swim, but now the rocks in my backpack pulled me down like a giant hand gripping me from behind. I gasped automatically and sucked in about a gallon of water. I flailed around under the water, but that only made me sink faster. Then everything went black.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

#SampleSunday The Witness Wore Blood Bay

In Talented Horsewoman, the first book of the Leigh McRae horse mystery series, main character Leigh McRae discovers a body. She also ends up solving a murder. Along the way she helps her cousin Sammi, who is dating a burglar, and she manages to get out from under the control of her overbearing ex-husband.

Now Leigh's friend Candy, a fellow horsewoman, finds herself accused of murder. Who else would she turn to for help except Leigh? After all, everyone in small town Del Canto knows Leigh has body-discovering experience. Never mind that Leigh is busy finding out who's poisoning dogs in Sammi's neighborhood and she's trying to renovate her home without going broke. Or that her ex-husband Kenneth and former ranchhand Doug Reilly have become roommates in Leigh's guest house.

There's a murder to solve. And her friend won't take no for an answer.

The set up: Leigh and cousin Sammi are returning from a horse club picnic. They're stopping to pick up Sammi's dog from the groomer and Sammi reveals that she needs for Leigh to do her a favor. 

 I’d known when Sammi showed up at my house claiming she was dying to picnic with the horse club, that she had something on her mind. But in all the excitement about the murder, I’d completely forgotten.
“Do I need to guess? You’ve got a hot date and you need a dog sitter so Jeeves won’t scare the guy off before you can have your way with him.”
“Wrong, totally wrong. Unfortunately, I am dateless these days. But I do need you to watch Jeeves for a while. Please?”
“Define ‘a while,’” I said cautiously. Sammi’s sense of time differed radically from mine.
“I couldn’t say, but it’s an emergency. A week, maybe?”
Way too vague. “You know I love the big lug even if he does shed about ten pounds of hair a day and he likes to snack on furniture. I’ll agree to dog sit since it’s an emergency. But you have to tell me. Come on, what’s the mystery? Cruise?” I wiggled my eyebrows. “Romance on the high seas?”
“It’s not a mystery and I’m not going anywhere. It’s all because of my new neighbors, the Barkers. You know that house on the corner, the one that’s been vacant since forever?”
“Yep. The cute Craftsman with the neat lawn and a plastic flamingo family standing around looking tacky next to a palm tree. A couple of gigantic mango trees out back.”
“That’s the one, except the flamingos are gone, replaced by a couple of the ugliest garden gnomes you ever saw in your life. Some people finally bought the place and they moved in a couple of weeks ago. I went over to take them a cake and welcome them to the neighborhood—you know, the way I always do. I think neighbors should get to know each other, especially now when it seems you have more friends on Facebook than you do in real life. And then you’re not sure they’re really who they say they are, but they seem nice and you laugh at their Youtube videos, so you keep posting on their wall.”
I waved my hand in front of her face. “Sammi, you’re way off topic.”
“Yeah, okay. Well, at first I thought the Barkers were nice, a typical middle-aged couple who moved down from some typical state in the midwest to downsize their lives now that their kids are grown. You know how people do. Sell out in Ohio and head to sunny Florida for their golden years. But it turned out they're from Fort Myers and they're not retired yet. They just wanted to move to a smaller place. Next thing I know they’re at my door complaining about Jeeves.” She said this last as though the Barkers had talked dirt about Jesus.
“What exactly is the nature of their complaint?” I pulled into Maggie’s driveway. Surely Jeeves hadn’t gone over to their house and shed all over their porch or peed on their ugly gnomes.
“They claim he dug up their marigolds the last time he got out. They think he barks too much and disturbs their peace and quiet. They even implied he makes their lives a living hell. But I swear, he hardly ever barks and I had the fence fixed so he can’t escape again. Very often.”
I started laughing and couldn’t stop until Sammi grabbed my shoulders and shook me. “Cut it out. This isn’t the least bit funny.”
“I know, I know, but it’s so ironic about their name—the Barkers. And they’re complaining about a barking dog.”
“Right, babe, it’s hysterical.” She folded her arms across her chest. “You know I wouldn’t worry one bit about them and their stupid complaints—except they threatened to report Jeeves to the police for being a public nuisance. They did the same thing to that nice Mrs. Abrams who lives on the other side of them, and then two days later her sweet little dachshund turned up dead in her back yard. The vet thinks he was poisoned. After that the people at the end of the block found their beagle dead. He was fine when they brought him in for the night, but when they got up, he was stiff as a board in his doggie bed, legs poking up in the air like a dead roach. Another suspected poisoning. It’s so tragic.”
“What?” I yelped, staring at her, hardly able to believe someone was killing dogs. “A dog poisoner?”
“I know, right? I can’t imagine someone could be so vicious. But please keep Jeeves until I have a chance to get to the bottom of this. I mean, I’d die if they assassinated him while I was at work. I can’t keep him inside all the time. I have to leave him out in the yard at least part of the day. You know how he is.”
Did I ever. Jeeves could last only a few hours alone in the house before he got neurotic. He’d once eaten Sammi’s couch and then had her draperies for dessert while she was on a date that lasted longer than she’d planned. The new procedure when she wasn’t home was that he stayed either in the garage or in the fenced yard, though he’d been known to escape from the yard.
“Of course I’ll dog sit.” I would never forgive myself if Jeeves were murdered because I refused to help.
“Thanks, babe.” Sammi jumped out of the car and blew me a kiss.
She scurried inside the grooming shop. Since Maggie Cameron had inherited money from her sister Rita and expanded her boarding kennel, she’d relocated the grooming shop and renamed her business Maggie’s Pet Spa. And raised her prices.
Sammi disappeared inside the shop and reappeared a moment later with Jeeves leaping up and down beside her as if he were on a pogo stick. Maggie had put a red bandanna around his neck, and I wondered how long it would take for him to find a way to eat it.
“Jeeves, settle!” Sammi shook her finger at him and opened the back door of the car. Jeeves rocketed inside, knocking Benji’s toy tractor off the seat. Then he leaned forward to rest his head on my shoulder. A haze of doggie cologne drifted in front of me and I waved my hand to disperse it.
“Hey, I don't need a co-driver, Jeeves. Back off.”
“Jeeves, you know better.” Sammi pushed her dog down on the back seat. “He doesn’t recognize his boundaries yet. I’ll come over tomorrow afternoon and give you a few pointers.”
I raised both eyebrows. Somehow I suspected that a few pointers on Jeeves-wrangling weren’t going to be all that effective, especially since he didn’t seem to mind Sammi terribly well, either. I’d never kept him for more than a day or so and wasn’t exactly looking forward to the mess from his shedding or the possibility of him turning my furniture into sawdust. Still, I did owe Sammi and I didn’t want her dog to be in danger any more than she did. I had a fenced yard where he could stay while I was at work. I didn’t know what she intended as far as sleuthing to find out if the Barkers were dog murderers, though. I mean it wasn’t as if she could search their house for poison or follow them around to make a citizen’s arrest if she caught them feeding arsenic-laced hamburger to the neighborhood canines.
“So how well did you know him?” Sammi asked as I pulled back onto the highway.
“Jeeves?” I glanced at her sideways. I thought we’d covered the topic of his behavior.
“No, silly. I mean, Richard—the murdered guy.”
“Wow, that was random. I thought you said we weren’t interested in the murder.” A vulture flopped to a landing on a dead armadillo about a hundred yards in front of my car and then, looking up and seeing how close I was, ponderously took off again. 
“I never said we weren’t interested in the murder. I said you were not going to get involved.”
“Yeah, I said the same thing. So what do you mean? Like what he was like and what he did for a living?”
“I was only curious.” Sammi tossed her hair back over her shoulders and stared straight ahead through my grimy windshield.
Note to self. Wash the car. And remember to ask Sammi why she was “only curious,” while I was “nosy.”
“I didn't know him that well, but I heard he was a womanizer and after he had a couple of affairs, Francine was going to leave him, but he promised to go straight. I heard all this second-hand from Nancy."
"Hmm. So maybe one of his exes killed him for revenge."
"I thought of that, but then why would whoever killed him frame Candy Lowell?" It made no sense. "Richard manages—managed—that seafood restaurant in town near the harbor. The Fin and Claw.”
“Really?” She sounded impressed. “I’ve never been, but I’ve heard it’s fabulous.”
“I heard the same, but I think fabulous means expensive.” I wondered if I should try it. Not that I could afford the prices. Still, now that Richard was dead, his job was opening up. Someone might get promoted. In this economy a job or even a promotion might be motive enough for a murder. My forehead muscles pulled into a frown so tight it's a miracle they didn't cramp up.
“Oh, no, you are not,” Sammi shrieked, slapping my shoulder with the back of her hand.
“Ow. Don’t hit the driver. What are you talking about?”
“I can so read your mind, babe. You think one of Richard’s co-workers might have killed him and you’re planning to go snooping around the Fin and Claw.”
“I admit the thought crossed my mind for the briefest of seconds. But it’s too farfetched.”
“Of course it is. And you are not going anywhere near that place unless you have me for backup.”
“Don’t worry. I'm not going near the Fin and Claw.” I rolled my eyes. It had only been a stray thought, not an actual plan. Thoughts couldn't hurt, could they?