Swag Bag Fun

Malice Domestic is a fan conference for mystery readers. This was the third year I’ve attended, and it just gets better and better.

I enjoy meeting readers, and I like to make swag bags to leave in the hospitality room.

Then I was selected to participate in Malice Go Round, and I wanted to make additional swag bags for the participants of that event. Malice Go Round is like speed dating between readers and authors.

So I took on a project that was about more than I could handle. I decided to make beachy ornaments because of my beach setting. I’ll be honest. Some turned out better than others, but like every shell is unique so is every ornament.

And I have to thank Tim for helping me find and clean the shells and for dying the string.

Tim also went to Maryland with me and helped me transport all my stuff.

It was good to see my agent, Dawn Dowdle, and many friends. I also got to meet many mystery readers. Kate Jackson, Heather Weidner, Korina Moss, Ruth Hartman, Chris Romeril, TJ Krieg (beachbumbookworm) and Desiree DiFabio were just a few friends I connected with.

If you have an opportunity to attend Malice, I urge you to go. You won’t be disappointed.


Quick Book Review

The Perfect Staging for Murder by Kathleen Bridge

This is the first book I’ve read by Kathleen Bridge, and it won’t be the last.

Meg Barrett is a set designer on a television show, Mr. and Mrs. Winslow. Meg begins an investigation into the murder of the show’s director, Brett. Meg whittles down her long list of suspects and quickly narrows it down until she knows who the killer is.

The characters are fun and interesting in this story. There are twists and turns that kept me reading. This is the seventh book in the Hampton Homes & Garden Mystery series, but I was able to read it as a stand alone without any problems.

I received a copy of The Perfect Staging for Murder from Netgalley. The thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.


April Showers Bring May Flowers

Hi Friends,

Today is the first day of the April Showers giveaway.

This is your opportunity to win 35 books or a $500 Amazon card to buy a ton of books for yourself in Celebrate Lit’s April Showers Bring May Flowers.

Click here to enter:

Yesterday, I forgot to tell you about all the books included in this giveaway.

A Killer Unleashed is definitely included.

Here’s the full list of books included.

  1. Guess How Much God Loves You by Karen Ferguson
  2. Expired Hope by Megan Besing
  3. Bitter Eyes No More by April Gardner
  4. Break the Cycle: Healing from an Abusive Relationship by Tracy L. Smoak
  5. Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly
  6. Secret to Happiness by Suzanne Woods Fisher
  7. The Dressmaker’s Secret by Kellyn Roth
  8. Heartland Treasures by E.V. Sparrow
  9. The Silver Lode by Suzanne Bratcher
  10. Shadow Dancing by Jennifer Sienes
  11. The Whisperer’s Wish by Janilise Lloyd
  12. The Fragrance of Violets by Susan K Beatty
  13. I Know the Plans by Jennifer Bosma
  14. Revived Hope by Kathleen Robison
  15. To Win a Prince by Toni Shiloh
  16. A Killer Unleashed by Jackie Layton
  17. Perfectly Matched by Liana George
  18. A Nanny for the Rancher’s Twins by Heidi Main
  19. Framed in the Desert by Dana Mentink
  20. A Ransomed Grete by Chautona Havig
  21. Wait for Me by Marguerite Martin Gray
  22. Honor’s Mountain Promise by Misty M. Beller
  23. Season of Hope by Sara Jane Jacobs
  24. With Music in Their Hearts by Carole Brown
  25. At Her Fingertips by Kellyn Roth
  26. Love Again by Ann Marie Bryan
  27. To Stand in the Breach by Danielle Grandinetti
  28. Resurrection Rest by Courtney Lyman
  29. Twin Murder Mix-Up by Sami Abrams
  30. Love Matters by Neil Tolsma
  31. A Troll Falls by Marji Laine
  32. The Essence of Humility by Lynn Watson
  33. A Bride for Harley by Heidi McGill
  34. Persuade Me Not by Joanne Markey
  35. Betwixt Two Hearts by Amanda Tru
  36. Expecting Danger by Jennifer Pierce

Again, here’s the link to click here to enter:

The event and giveaway is going on now through April 23.


April Showers

Hi Friends!

Spring is here, so the snow will be starting to melt soon, and it is the perfect time to sit outside and soak up those rays while reading a good book! I have partnered with Celebrate Lit for a giveaway just for you to build up that spring TBR pile!

Here is your chance to win 35 books or a $500 Amazon card to buy a ton of books for yourself in Celebrate Lit’s April Showers Bring May Flowers.

Click here to enter:

The event and giveaway is going on April 17 through April 23.

Have fun and good luck!


Spring, Easter, and Family

Hi friends,

I hope you are having a beautiful and safe spring. Living in the South spoils me. No more Easters with snow. Yay! South Carolina has also spoiled me with lovely warm weather. I don’t deal well with the cold anymore. So, I say welcome spring!

The only negative to living on the coast is we’re far from our family. So, I’m going to take a couple of weeks off to focus on family.

Then I’ll be back in the thick of things. Zoom meetings, Malice Domestic, and I’m honored to be the featured author on May 16 at the Moveable Feast. The luncheon will be held in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you there. If you have a specific question, just let me know.

Heather Weidner and Misty Simon will be at Malice Domestic along with me and two-hundred mystery authors. It’s a fan-focused event. And it’s FUN!

Until then, I hope you have a happy Easter and spring days!


Methods of Malice

by Tina Radcliffe and Ellery Adams

I recently read Methods of Malice because my friend Tina Radcliffe is one of the authors. I love Tina, cozy mysteries, and Bible studies. It’s no surprise I gave this book a 5 star review on Goodreads.

Methods of Malice is the first book I’ve read in A Hope Street Church Mystery series.

I enjoyed the characters and despite the fact I began this series on the seventh book, the story was written so well I connected with the characters, making it was easy to jump into this story.

The local community theater is performing It’s A Wonderful Life. A famous Broadway director and his people come to town to take charge of the play. The tension between the director and his people builds until the assistant director turns up dead. Besides digging into Scripture, Cooper Lee and the members of the Bible study dig into the murder, and look for clues.

In addition to pressure from the performance, there’s pressure to catch the killer before he, or she, strikes again.

Methods of Malice is a page turner and a delight.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I asked Tina how it was to work with Ellery Adams to write this story. Here’s what Tina said, “It’s been so much fun joining the fictional world of Cooper Lee and the Sunrise Bible Study. Ellery Adams and the publishing team at Beyond the Page have been welcoming and helpful with their guidance. “

Congratulations Tina Radcliffe and Ellery Adams on Methods of Malice!


Spring Storms

It’s spring and that means storms. Here are a few suggestions to survive a power outage.

  • Charge all of your electronics ahead of time – phone, laptops, and whatever you need so you will be able to reach people if you need help.
  • Know how to turn off your main circuit breaker in order to help protect your appliances and electrical devices from power surges.
  • Unplug appliances, electronics, and lighting – and turn up the temperature setting on the AC.
  • Purchase a backup generator because it can help keep your fridge and other important appliances running during a power outage. Don’t forget to ventilate.
  • Turn down the temperature on your freezer and fridge to get them as cold as possible to preserve your food. Also, fill your freezer and fridge with ice and water bottles to prolong the cold temperature.

Stay safe this spring!


Wedding Flowers

Jessica Lutz of Cascading Joy Designs LLC is going to share some floral design ideas for the upcoming wedding of Andi Grace Scott and Marc Williams.

Welcome, Jessica.

Hi, Jackie. When I think about wedding planning, there are so many details to go over and every couple has their own ideas make their wedding unique to them. I have been involved with weddings for several years but over the last 5, my involvement has been focused on florals. For me, it brings so much joy to bring a brides vision to life through her florals. I love weddings! I always have so this job has brought me so much joy as well!

Over the last year I have been in the thick of helping my younger sister plan her wedding. She is a super easy bride and very laid back which makes things easy for me! She has certain things that she really wants and likes but outside of that, she’s given me a lot of freedom to just “make it look good”. When I think about Andi Grace planning her wedding with Marc, I imagine her being a similar bride. She strikes me as having a few things that she really wants but won’t be too picky overall. If I were sitting down with Andi Grace to talk about her wedding I think I would suggest something very romantic with some fun flowers added in because she has a fun personality and that deserves to show in her bouquet. I would suggest some burgundy ranunculus as the romantic flower but add in some sunflowers since it’s a fall wedding, with Queen Anne’s lace, amaranths and some seeded eucalyptus to give it some fun flair.

Another thing that I would suggest for Andy Grace would be a memorial table. I’ve seen these at many weddings and it is such a sweet and simple way to remember those you’ve lost in your life. As we’ve planned my sisters wedding, this is a piece that she has been very passionate about. Each family member that we’ve lost has flower chosen specifically for them that will go next to a picture of them at the wedding. Andi Grace has lost a lot and not had any easy life. I think I would suggest something sweet like hydrangeas and tulips at her memorial table with pictures of those she has had to say goodbye to. It’s little touches like these that make weddings so special. These little touches that bring joy to not only the bride and groom but to family members and guests that come to celebrate with then.

Jessica, thanks so much for sharing your ideas for Andi Grace’s wedding! I love the idea of a memorial table.

Friends, you can follow Jessica on Instagram.

You can also email her at:

Cozy mystery

If I Had a Hammer

Teresa Trent joins us today to share about her new book, If I Had a Hammer. I love the catchy title. Here’s a little more about the book:

A new job, a brutal murder, and Camelot has ended. 

In 1963, Dot Morgan’s life was changed forever. She witnessed the assassination of John F Kennedy through the lens of her boxy Kodak Instamatic camera, bringing traumatic aftereffects of the brutality that happened as they stood on the parade route in Dallas.  

She starts her first real secretarial job with a boss who has no sympathy for her trauma. When Dot’s only work friend has a mysterious accident at a demolition site, she digs around on her own only to find very little love between two brothers and no one hammering out justice to find a murderer.  

The suspects are all around Dot and as she tries to sift through their motives, her cousin Ellie is going through PTSD on her own, losing interest in work, and her fiancé all the while quoting some of JFK’s finest speeches. 

With so much change in her world, can Dot still tell the difference between good and evil? 

Intrigued? Here’s an excerpt:

Ellie screamed, making the driver jump. “Right here! Stop here,” Ellie said as she passed bills from the back seat to the front.

I looked up over a light brown building with straight white letters reading Texas School Book Depository. Above it was an ad for Hertz Rent-a-Car with a clock attached to it. It was straight up noon. The crowd was thickening as people found places to stand in a grassy area next to the street. It was almost as if the original landscaper had known this historic day would take place and designed the gradual slope along the road. According to the newspaper, Kennedy’s motorcade would arrive soon, and I felt the excitement building as we prepared to join the crowd. I pulled my arms through my sweater.

Ellie extended a hand to help me out of the yellow Checker cab. “Are you ready?”

 “Oh yes. Let’s go over there.” I pointed to one of the few open spots next to the curb. “Hurry, before someone else gets it. I just hope we can hold the spot. There are some pretty big guys who might want to stand in front of us.”

Ellie smirked. “You know what I always say. ‘Knee them in the crotch and they sing a new song.’”

“Seriously, Ellie. I’m not attacking some poor man just so I can stand in front.”

“You’re right. I was trying to sound sophisticated Maybe not here but remember that. It may come in handy someday.”

I had decided to wear a new pair of black heels and felt them wobbling. We crossed the street and grabbed our spot just in time, causing another viewer to crowd in next to us. The smell of cigarette smoke circled us as people fiddled with cameras and readjusted black-rimmed glasses.

 “Jack Kennedy is so handsome.” Ellie placed her hand over her heart, popping it on her chest like a heartbeat. “Too bad he’s already taken.”

 “Stop.” I laughed. “I believe you’re already taken as well. Didn’t I hear something about you and Al getting married next June?”

 Ellie gave a sweet smile as her eyes drifted upward. “I can’t believe that either. June. That’s just a little more than six months away.”

“Well, you deserve the happiness coming your way.” I patted my cousin’s shoulder. Ellie was in her thirties, practically spinsterhood in 1963. Finding Al, the electrician, had been the best thing for her. Love and marriage. It filled me with warmth. We were all living the American dream just like the characters in our favorite movies at the Rialto theater. The lyrics of “Young at Heart” drifted through my mind.

I sang a few lines from the song.

Ellie linked her arm with mine as she watched the street. A few cars drove by, but none that looked like a presidential motorcade. The breeze drifted across my exposed knees. A longer skirt would have shielded my knees, but I would endure the shivers for the sake of fashion.

“Ellie, did you see that picture of Jackie in the paper? She’s gorgeous. I saw her tour of the White House on TV. She’s so classy and looks beautiful in everything she wears.”

“Except she talks funny,” Ellie said, her Texas drawl turning “talks” into “tawks.”

“That’s because she’s from the East. She can’t help it. I’ll bet she thinks Texans talk funny. I’m sure they hear a lot of Texas twang coming from LBJ and Ladybird.”

“But that’s just music to anyone’s ears,” Ellie said. “Be serious.”

I glanced up and down the parade route. “Ben said he was going to be here. Maybe he’s farther down the street.” I pulled out my new Kodak Instamatic and hooked the leather strap around my neck. I raised the camera up to my eyes. “I hope I can get a clear picture of Jackie and John.”

 “Listen to you. You talk like you know them,” Ellie laughed. “Jackie and John.”

“Well, in a way, I feel like I do. They’re America’s perfect family. I love them all. Jackie, John, Caroline, John-John.”

Ellie sighed and then drew in an excited breath with her hands clenched in front of her. “This is so exciting.” People continued to crowd up to the curb. A tall man in a brown plaid sport coat, holding binoculars up to his black boxy glasses, elbowed me to move over. I could feel tension in the air that comes when people anticipate witnessing something spectacular.

Just then, a line of shiny black cars came into view, ambling down the street in our direction. The breeze turned into a slight wind. I leaned forward and squinted, trying to identify who was in each vehicle. I felt my heart race as I recognized John and Jackie Kennedy sitting in the back seat as the car was surrounded by men on motorcycles. She was stunning in a pink wool suit and matching hat. I felt special knowing Jackie and I had worn the same color on this memorable day. She, of course, looked so much better. John had a healthy tan and a wide smile on his face.

I raised my camera and willed the man in the brown plaid coat not to step in front of me. This was a moment I was sure we would always remember. I hoped I could wind the film cartridge fast enough to take several pictures. Maybe they would want to use them in the Camden Courier? I wanted a good one of John, and another of Jackie. Just like real people, I thought but really, they looked like royalty, sitting in the open top limousine with policemen on motorcycles riding silently alongside—sort of a mobile palace guard. When the hood of the limousine was directly in front of me, I brought the Instamatic up and clicked to take a picture. I rolled the film to the next frame, took another, and repeated the process. Suddenly, I heard a popping sound somewhere behind me. I rolled the film lever with my thumb, now an automatic action, then turned toward the sound, only to see people scrambling and running to higher ground. The sound I heard wasn’t a pop. It was a gunshot. I looked back toward the motorcade and stood in horror as a man crawled over the back of the open convertible and the thing that caught my attention was the splotches of red invading Jackie’s beautiful pink suit. John Kennedy no longer sat smiling in front of me but was down in the seat on Jackie’s lap.

Teresa Trent is the author of over 15 books. She started writing cozy mysteries with the Pecan Bayou and Piney Woods Mystery Series. She sets her stories in different geographical areas of Texas and The Swinging Sixties historical series is set just north of Dallas, starting in 1962. You might think with so many books set in the Lone Star state, she was born there, but no. She has lived all over the world, thanks to her father’s career in the army. After living in Texas for twenty-five years, she’s finally put down roots.   

Teresa is a hybrid author, self-publishing early in her career, which led her to traditional publishing with Level Best Books and Camel Press. She is the author of several short stories that have appeared in a host of anthologies. Teresa publishes the blog and podcast, Books to the Ceiling at where she loves to read the book excerpts of other writers and share in the writing community.  

Teresa is a member of Sisters in Crime and lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and son.  

Social Media:



BLOG:   (Books to the Ceiling) 





Pre-Order Link:

Teresa, thanks so much for sharing an excerpt today!


The Gray Man

Just for fun today, I want to share the legend of The Gray Man in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

The story goes, the gray man died around 1822. He was on his way to the island to meet his sweetheart and died, maybe of a broken neck from hurrying to see her. Maybe he sunk in the pluff mud or drown. Whatever the cause of his death, the grieving lady spotted him on the beach. It appeared to her that he was warning her to leave.

The young lady’s family thought she’d lost her mind from grief, and they took her away from the beach. Within hours, the great storm of 1822 destroyed the area of the house where she and her family had been staying.

For years, The Gray Man has been spotted on or around the beach before a storm. He always wears gray. The people who actually see him say their property isn’t harmed in the storm even the home all around them are destroyed.

One child even asked her family who the man in gray was. She explained that he helped her not to be scared in the storm.

Many of the locals believe The Gray Man is a kind, wandering spirit who warns of impending storms.

When weather forecasters predict a hurricane, many locals ask each other if they’ve seen The Gray Man.

I personally have never seen The Gray Man, but if a man wearing gray appears before a big storm and tells me to leave, you better believe I’m heading inland.