Annette’s blog

Annette's blog

Blame Dad

I blame my dad.
I blame him for a lot of things, most of them not really his fault.
But for this one thing, I blame him.
Once again, I am unemployed. No, I wasn’t fired. I left voluntarily. Really, I did.
Since mid-September, I have worked as a nurse in a recovery room at my local hospital. This is an environment I am quite familiar with; I started working in the post-anesthesia care setting in 1995. So, you would think this would be a comfortable setting. Not so much.
Because like most hospitals, this unit has been chronically short-staffed. The work load was back breaking. Really. My back hurt after every shift. And while I was told during my job interview that the schedule would be managed by the, uh, manager, that was not my experience. Surgeons added on elective cases all evening long, regardless if there was enough staff or not.
Nurses in this unit were asked to care for much more than just surgical patients. We were asked to care for patients from the cath lab, from the GI department and from labor and delivery. I kind of felt like we were the toilet of the hospital. I leave you to infer from that what you will.
I have been miserable since September. And I’m not a quiet miserable person. No. I’m a noisy miserable person.
This past Christmas Eve, I was scheduled to be on call. I was at the hospital from 9 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. while my family waited at home for me to start the holiday. This is hospital nursing. You work holidays. You work weekends. But somehow, when it came time to submit those hours to payroll, they were overlooked. I’ve yet to be paid for that day. When I queried my manger, she informed me I needed to watch my timesheet more closely. Okay. Got it.
In response, I gave her two weeks notice.
I really liked my paychecks. They allowed me to care for my family, and at the same time, helped support Baskethound Books, through which I publish my stories. After three years, my little business still does not generate enough income to support itself, let alone me and my family.
But I had an epiphany one evening. I was sitting in the hospital cafeteria, taking my dinner break, and I realized how much I did not want to return to my job. I thought, I would give up five years of my life to walk out of this hospital and never come back. Five years! That’s a long time.
I made a good living as a registered nurse. After 22 years or so in the field, I made six figures. A naughty little voice inside my head says, “Yes, and you can buy the highest quality of rope with which to hang yourself.”
This morning, I told my husband. He took it well. At breakfast, I told my son. He took it pretty well too.
What now? My daughter once told me, “Mom, you always have a plan. It may be terrible, but it’s a plan.” That’s the nicest thing she ever said to me.
Okay. Here’s the plan: I’m going to write full-time for the rest of 2017. Baskethound Books will release a new book every month in 2017. We start in March with the first installment of the Celebration House Trilogy. And when I say we, I mean me. You see, Baskethound Books is my own small little business.
When I look back on my employment history, and it’s a long one as I’ve been working since the early 1980s, I recognize these unpleasant facts:

  1. I change jobs a lot. A lot. I’ve had 22 nursing jobs since I entered the profession in 1995. 22! That means I’ve changed nursing jobs every year.
  2. Since I graduated from Truman State University in December of 1987, I’ve had an additional eight jobs. That brings my grand total to 30.

The question is asked, were you fired from all of these jobs? No. I quit all but three of them.
And here’s where I blame my dad, and before him, my grandparents. I grew up watching my dad run his own small business, Drake Lumber and Building Supply, in Brookfield, Missouri. My parents bought it from my grandparents in the mid 1970s.
Was my dad successful? I don’t know. I don’t think his heart was in it. Plus, Wal-Mart opened a store in our town in the early 1980s and destroyed nearly all of the businesses there. The local merchants just couldn’t compete with Sam Walton, then or now. When I hear that Amazon is hurting Wal-Mart’s sales, I do not shed tears. I did enjoy using Wal-Mart as a villain in my novel, Trombone Girl. I called it Sam-Mart. It was just plain fun.
Too, I think my dad felt shackled by the lumberyard, by the constraints of being open 8-5, Monday thru Friday, and then 8-12 noon on Saturday. I think bookkeeping took up a lot more time than he would have liked. I remember seeing him at his desk late on a summer evening, trying to reconcile the day’s sales. I like that memory. I plan on using it in one of my books.
After my father sold the lumberyard – I think it became a payday loan office – he took to the road as a truck driver. He did this for some years, and then – wait for it – started a small trucking company. My dad, the ever-determined entrepreneur.
Are my dad and I close? No. Honestly, I think we are two porcupines who determinedly avoid one another. I think I’m an enigma to my father while I simply cannot forgive him for his treatment of my older brother. I think we are both happiest when we do not interact.
But I’m left with this fact: I come from a line of small-business owners. People who work hard but work for themselves. And the truth is it’s way easier to quit others than to quit yourself.

Hands and arms inside the cart: I’m having a blast revisiting Celebration House!

Annette's blog, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

The Seven Course Christmas Killer

Rosie Genova, author of the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, serves up a new dish this week with the release of her e-book holiday novella, The Seven Course Christmas Killer: A Holiday Novella from the Italian Kitchen.

More about The Seven Course Christmas Killer:
On Christmas Eve, someone might be sleeping with the fishes…
It’s December at the Casa Lido, which means only one thing: the Rienzi family’s traditional Christmas Eve celebration, including wine, song, and seven Italian seafood courses. As Victoria and Tim prep scungilli and calamari, Nonna directs the cooking until all is in readiness for the big night.
But the holiday cheer is interrupted by the attempted murder of Mayor Anne McCrae, who asks Vic to investigate. Trouble is, there are as many suspects as there are fishes on the Christmas Eve menu…

Grab your copy here: [amazon text=Amazon&asin=B01NBDVUCX]

More about author Rosie Genova:
A Jersey girl born and bred, national bestselling author Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for her cozy series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries. Her debut, Murder and Marinara, was voted a Best Cozy of 2013 by Suspense Magazine and was a finalist for a 2014 Daphne Award. Her books have been described as blending “mystery with comedy, romance, family drama, a vivid and affectionate portrayal of the Jersey shore and … oh yes, cooking.”

The proud mama of three grown sons, Rosie still lives in her home state with her husband and a charming mutt named Lucy. She also writes women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista.

Annette's blog


Sometimes, you gotta leap. I did that today. I set up the pre-order for the first of the Celebration House Trilogy novels – Building Celebration House. The book will publish on March 1st.

Is it done? No. Then why on earth did I do this? Because I am, sigh, a procrastinator. And deadlines force me to complete my art.

So, here’s the plan:

  • Building Celebration House will publish March 1st.
  • Stay at Celebration House will publish April 1st,
  • Return to Celebration House will publish May 1st.

2017 ! It’s gonna be a heck of a year.

Hands and arms inside the cart: Once again, I relearn why I write.


Annette's blog, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

Crime and Catnip

Today I interview author T. C. LoTempio about her newest installment in her Nick and Nora cozy mystery series, Crime and Catnip. Welcome!

Why do you write cozy mysteries?
I’ve always loved mysteries ever since I read my first Nancy Drew, so it was more of a natural progression. I actually started out writing horror, then graduated to paranormal romance, but when my vampire novels weren’t selling, I came up with the idea for the Nick and Nora mysteries. Penguin at that time was more receptive to cat-inspired cozies than they are now, and they bought it in January of 2014

Please tell us about your book. What ideas or images inspired this novel?
Crime And Catnip is the third in the Nick and Nora mystery series. The series was inspired by my tuxedo cat Rocco, who has a mind of his own and definite opinions on things as his blog followers will attest to.

Do you have an ideal reader in mind when you write? If so, please describe that reader.
Honestly, I’m grateful to have any readers! I’m so appreciative of all who have read the Nick and Nora series and are supporters! If I had to describe the average reader who likes my series, it would probably be career women who love cats!

Please describe your writing routine.
I sit in front of the computer, crank up my CD player, and hopefully do not spend hours staring at a blank screen. I work from an outline that changes daily – and, of course, Rocco and brother Maxx are nearby for inspiration! I try to write one to two hours a week at least three nights during the week after work, and an average of between four to six hours on Saturday and Sunday (which is why I have no life). It generally takes me about four to five months to crank out a book, from idea inception to outline to finished product.

What advice do you give new writers just starting out?
Read, read, read and write, write, write. This truly is a profession where practice makes perfect. And never give up!

More about Crime and Catnip:
Nick and Nora aren’t just pussyfooting around this time as they deal with a missing person’s case and murder.
While catering a gala for the Cruz Museum, Nora Charles agrees to look into the disappearance of director Violet Crenshaw’s niece, a case previously undertaken by her frisky feline friend Nick’s former owner, a private eye whose whereabouts are also currently unknown.
As Nora and her curious cat Nick pull at the string of clues, they begin to unravel a twisted tale of coded messages, theft, false identities, murder, and international espionage. Nora dares to hope that the labyrinth of leads will not only help them locate the missing young woman, but also solve the disappearance of the detective. That’s if Nora can stay alive long enough to find him…

Grab your copy here: [amazon text=Amazon&asin=B01CZCW4ZY]

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How to connect with T.C.:

Annette's blog, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

Better Off Thread

Ho Ho Ho! Let’s share a cup of Christmas cheer this morning with a spotlight on Better Off Thread by Amanda

More about Better Off Thread:
better-off-threadMarcy is busy helping her customers make hand-crafted ornaments at her embroidery shop, the Seven-Year Stitch. But despite the yuletide bustle, when her friend Captain Moe asks for her help, she can’t refuse — especially when the favor is to play the elf to his Santa for sick children at a local hospital. Despite the ridiculous outfit, Marcy finds herself enjoying spreading cheer until the hospital’s administrator is found murdered.
Although the deceased had plenty of people willing to fill her stocking with coal, evidence pins the crime on Moe. Now it’s up to Marcy, with the help of her police officer boyfriend Ted and her Irish Wolfhound Angus, to stitch together the clues to clear Moe’s name before someone else winds up crossed off Santa’s list for good.

Grab your copy here: [amazon text=Amazon&asin=B01CZCW26A]

How to connect with Amanda Lee:

Annette's blog, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

Literally Dead

literally-dead-large-banner640Today author Lois Winston visits to share news of her newest cozy mystery, Literally Dead. Welcome, Lois.lois-winston-author-photo

Why do you write cozy mysteries?
I started out writing romantic suspense that dealt with serial killers, spousal abuse, and other gritty topics. Then 9/11 occurred in my backyard, and I found myself spending most days staring at a blank screen and a blinking cursor. I just couldn’t write about such gruesome topics any more. The seamier side of life had become too real. In an effort to escape reality, I began reading books that made me laugh. Laughing releases endorphins and makes you feel better. It helped.
My agent suggested I try writing a cozy mystery. I had written one chick lit book several years earlier, and she thought my humorous voice would be a good fit for the cozy genre. Turns out she was right. I’ve written five novels and three novelettes in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series and am currently working on the sixth book. Literally Dead is the second book in my Empty Nest Mystery series, following Definitely Dead.
I’ve learned to never say never, but I don’t see myself going back to gritty realistic suspense any time soon. I’d much rather make people laugh than have them jumping up at night to check the locks on their doors and windows.

Please tell us about your book. What ideas or images inspired this novel?
A few years ago I stumbled upon the William Powell/Myrna Loy Thin Man movies on TCM. After watching the first, I binge-watched the remainder. I loved the rapport between the two characters as well as the humor in the movies. I began to think about writing a series that paid homage to them. However, I wanted to give my series a modern day spin. In the Empty Nest Mysteries, Gracie Elliott, the wife, is an amateur sleuth. Her husband Blake does his best to try to keep her out of trouble.
Literally Dead takes place at a writing conference. Gracie is an aspiring romance author. I’ve attended dozens of writing conferences over the years and have witnessed quite a bit of infighting. I thought it would be fun to extrapolate this to its ultimate conclusion—murder. (Note: All characters in the book are purely fictional and are not meant to represent any actual authors.)

Do you have an ideal reader in mind when you write? If so, please describe that reader.
My books are meant as escapism. They’re for readers who are willing to suspend disbelief and who enjoy a good laugh.

Please describe your writing routine.
I really don’t have one. There are days when I can write for eight hours straight and other days when I’m lucky if I can get a page written. I don’t outline my books, but I do write a short paragraph that gives me Point A (the start of the book) and Point B (the end of the book.) I know the victim before I begin writing. Sometimes I know the antagonist, but that’s subject to change as the story unfolds. Getting from Point A to Point B is a meandering road, often filled with detours and dead ends, but I eventually arrived at The End.

What advice do you give new writers just starting out?
Don’t quit your day job! The reality of publishing is that very few authors can make a decent living from their writing. This is something Gracie learns in Literally Dead. When her job in the textile industry is outsourced to a Third World nation, she begins writing, thinking it will provide her with the kind of income she’s lost. Too many aspiring authors only hear about the six and seven-figure deals scored by authors like James Patterson and Nora Roberts. They sit down to write a book thinking they’re going to get rich. Few do. If that’s the reason you’ve decided to write, you’re writing for the wrong reason. Write because you can’t not write. If you’re lucky and persevere, you may beat the odds and succeed.

More about Literally Dead:
lit_dead_ebookcoverAfter her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.
With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.
Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.

Grab your copy here: [amazon text=Amazon&asin=B01LWCW5C1]

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How to connect with Lois:
Email address:

Annette's blog, Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

Murder at the Moonshine Inn

moonshine-inn-large-banner640Author Maggie King stops by to share the inspiration behind her new cozy mystery, Murder at the Moonshine Inn. Welcome, Maggie.maggie-king-author-photo-72

Why do you write cozy mysteries?
I like to write dialog, and the murders in cozies are primarily solved by talking. I don’t need to arm my fictional detective with guns or other weapons. She uses her wits, technology, and persistence.
In cozies, the readers and the amateur detective have much in common in that they are all average citizens. However, the average citizen (that includes me!) does not want to investigate a murder, but gets much satisfaction from vicariously hunting down a killer and seeing justice served.
That said, I probably will eventually write a police procedural or private investigator series. But I won’t include much on-page violence — something along the lines of the Chief Inspector Barnaby series by Caroline Graham.

Please tell us about your book. What ideas or images inspired this novel?
Murder at the Moonshine Inn is a tale of family, money, betrayal, a book group, a redneck bar … and murder. Hazel Rose is asked to find out who killed a high-powered executive in the parking lot of a redneck bar. Hazel’s cousin Brad is the prime suspect and she feels she must help her family. Even though Brad won’t give her the time of day, he’s still family. As Hazel and the members of her book group investigate, they witness firsthand how much money matters — and how some will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.
The idea for Murder at the Moonshine Inn first came to me when my husband retired and started researching his family tree, discovering many new-to-him relatives. He’s in touch with all of them, except for one who suspected that my husband only wanted money.
Years ago, I knew a family in California whose patriarch, a wealthy widower, remarried a much younger woman who lived life in the fast lane. She could often be found sitting on a barstool in a redneck bar. He was attracted to her beauty and youth. She was attracted to his bank account.
I put the two ideas together and tossed my own fanciful imaginings into the mix. The result is Murder at the Moonshine Inn.

Do you have an ideal reader in mind when you write? If so, please describe that reader.
My ideal reader is anyone with a strong sense of justice who likes solving puzzles and expects strong women characters.

Please describe your writing routine.
I create long-hand before I sit down at my computer. There’s something about paper, hand, and ink that boost my creativity, especially when I’m stuck on a plot point. The big question writers get these days is “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” Plotters completely outline before they write their novels while pantsers sit down at the computer each day, waiting to be surprised, writing literally by the seat of their pants. I’m not strictly either. I outline, but it’s a very flexible outline that allows my pantser side to have a big part in the process. The truth is that I start out as a plotter, but I tend to take too long because I want the outline to be oh-so-perfect and so I switch to pantser mode for a while just to get some momentum going. This back-and-forth works for me. My daily walks also enhance my creativity.

What advice do you give new writers just starting out?
Write, write, write. Read, read, read. Pick two or three authors whose style you like and study how they structure their stories and create characters. A good book about mystery writing is You Can Write a Mystery by Gillian Roberts (I studied her Amanda Pepper series).
Author James Pendleton once told me, “Don’t ever let anyone discourage you.” I might tag on “including yourself” to his sage advice.

More about Murder at the Moonshine Inn:
murder-at-the-moonshine-inn-cover-lowWhen high-powered executive Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks — she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day. He’s still family.
Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox. When a second murder ups the ante, Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grab your copy here: [amazon text=Amazon]

How to connect with Maggie:
Email address:
Facebook: MaggieKingAuthor
Twitter: MaggieKingAuthr