A Holiday Mystery Anthology

Last January, my author co-op, Windtree Press, had a quarterly meeting and it was decided we’d put out a mystery anthology, since we had 8 authors in the group who wrote mystery/suspense/thriller books. We chose to make it have a holiday theme and every story had to have or mention a dead body. That and the length were the guidelines.

We set dates by when the short stories had to be sent to the person editing (me) and when I had to have all the stories ready for the person formatting, and when they had to have it ready to publish. It was fun reading each authors stories and helping them where they needed to beef up the mystery or flesh out a character. Once the author and I were happy with the story, I then sent it on to another author in the group to proofread.

In the end we have 10 completely different, yet entertaining mystery stories.


A cornucopia of ten cozy mystery stories that are perpetrated during holidays from New Years to Christmas. This collection explores unexplained disturbances, college pranks gone wrong, and almost always one or more murders around a holiday. Solve these spooky crimes that lurk beneath celebratory parties and help search for the murderers. Kick off your shoes, grab a warm drink and snuggle into a blanket before you get lured onto the sparkling snow for the next crime spree.

A Body on the 13th Floor by Paty Jager
Dead Ladies Don’t Dance by Robin Weaver
Took Nothing Left Nothing by Pamela Cowan
Busted for Bones by Dari LaRoche
Yuletide Firebug by Kathy Coatney
Starry Night Murder by Mary Vine
The Twelfth Night Murder by Ann Chaney
Blue Christmas by Melissa Yi
Two Turtle Doves by Maggie Lynch
Five Golden Rings by Kimila Kay


A Body on the 13th Floor by Paty Jager

Dela Alvaro, head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, has a dead body in an elevator on New Year’s Eve. The unfortunate soul was stuck between the 12th and 14th floors when he met his demise.

This short story pulls together a good number of the cast from my Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries series. I had a fun time coming up with the plot and making it as interesting as I could in a short amount of time. I think all writers should not only write novel length stories but also write short stories to help hone their skills and learn to tell a story in few words but ones that can make an impact.

If you grab a copy, I hope you enjoy the mysteries!

Guest Blogger ~ Terri Benson

I’ve written two historical romances, and read a lot of them growing up, but I also enjoyed mysteries. Somewhere along the line, I picked up a Clive Cussler novel with Dirk Pitt and his classic cars. While the Dirk Pitts stories themselves generally didn’t focus on the cars, there was one mentioned in every book and photos were usually on the back cover. Those books rekindled my interest in the beautiful old cars. I generally go for the pre-1950s cars, not the later muscle cars – a fact that causes some discussion between myself and my husband.

There are quite a few car shows around the Four Corners region where I live, and some of the larger auction houses like Barrett-Jackson and Mecum hold events in Denver, Las Vegas, and Scottsdale – all within a reasonable weekend trip for me. I get my ideas for the cars in my books at these shows, as well as perusing online catalogues, websites, and blogs. Once I have a car in mind, the story seems to come from that.

I’m a bit odd in when I’m starting a book, I almost always come up with the title first, based on the car, or in the case of Pickup Artist, a Marmon-Herrington pickup I saw in Vegas several years ago. If you read the book (and I hope you do!) you’ll find the title has more than one meaning, which is always my goal.

My main character, Renni Delacroix, is a young, pretty, female classic car restorer, who has had to fight her way into the industry for those specific reasons. Her unusual background growing up with a widowed great uncle and his middle-aged son, both of whom were involved in circle track and stock car racing, gave her far more experience with car bodies and engines than most men twice her age. That experience has allowed her to become a top-ten restorer, but it’s left her with a hefty chip on her shoulder after spending years proving herself over and over. She has another, more unusual skill, which gives her even more grief – when she touches a car, she starts to see its history in her dreams. It can be helpful in her chosen career, but has been hard on past relationships, not to mention making her the butt of jokes during her college years and beyond.

Her gift (or curse as she sees it) exposes an old mystery in each book, but doesn’t help much in solving said mystery, or contemporary mysteries she’s involved in. Often, as in The Pickup Artist, those past and present mysteries, separated by decades, end up being related. An eclectic cast of characters (and I mean that literally), both help and hinder Renni with their meddling and advice.

The Pickup Artist

Classic car restorer Renni Delacroix has a unique gift, one kept carefully hidden: when she touches a car, she sees its history. Focused on building her business in the small town of Rampart, Colorado, she hides the truth of her psychic ability.

But when a Marmon pickup is delivered, visions of terrified women jolt her clean off the old truck. She has no choice but to come forward, especially since one the of the women was her best friend, murdered six months earlier. Rennie explains what she sees to Detective Matt Brody. Skeptical, he’s surprised to find evidence the Marmon belonged to a serial killer known as the Rocky Mountain High Killer.

While battling Brody’s suspicions, and her growing attraction to him, Renni uses skills honed hunting down classic parts to unearth the killer. But will she be able to give their identity to Brody before she loses everything,– her job, her home…even her life?

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A life-long writer, Terri is traditionally and self-published in novel length, plus nearly a hundred articles and short stories published – many award winning. She’s a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers, presents workshops at writer’s conferences, and teaches night classes at Western Colorado Community College.  Terri spends her non-writing time working at a non-profit, camping, jeeping, and dirt biking with her junior-high-school sweetheart/husband of 40+ years and a succession of Brittany spaniels. You can find more information on her at https://www.terribensonwriter.com/

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Guest Blogger ~ Jane Tesh

Turn On the Ghost Light

            I had been with Poisoned Pen Press since 2004. When the company was bought by Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks did not want to continue either series even though I had many more books to go. As you can imagine, this was a blow, but I was still a Poisoned Pen author and they would accept a standalone. So I got to work.

            This was more of a challenge than I thought. I had been writing my two series since 1995 and loved all those characters. To start over with a new cast was daunting. What would I write about? Where could I set this story? What was something I knew about that I could have fun with?

            The answer to that was community theater. I’ve been in community theater productions for over forty years, so I have a lot of experience to drawn upon. Talk about drama. It is definitely in the theater, especially amateur theater with long-standing feuds and clashing egos. And there is a boatload of superstitions to play with. Now I just needed some characters.

            As soon as I have the right name, I have a character. This happens all the time, and I can’t explain it. I name them, and there they are. So I thought of the name Theodosia “Teddy” Ballard. She told me her neighbor’s cat accidentally burned down her apartment building. She missed her latest job interview, a job she really didn’t want. Her dear grandmother who raised her was going into a retirement facility, and her scheming cousin had taken grandmother’s house. She didn’t have a job or a place to live.

            So I thought of the name of her best friend and actor, Will Selms. When Will arrived, he had the perfect solution. Paula Norwood, stage manager at the local community theater, had recently fallen down the costume loft stairs and died from her injuries. The show desperately needed a stage manager. Teddy could have the job and live in the cottage behind the theater. Problem solved.

            Only Teddy doesn’t know the first thing about being a stage manager. But along with the reader, she learns all about the theater. And of course, every theater is haunted, and before long, Teddy makes the acquaintance of George, the theater ghost. George saw Paula fall and tells Teddy it was not an accident. She decides to solve the mystery.

            Something very unexpected happened during the writing of this book. Teddy and Will started to have a typical love scene when Teddy said to me, “I don’t really want this.” To my surprise, I didn’t want it, either. That’s when I realized I had never wanted it. And then, like Teddy, I found a word for this feeling. Asexual. This opened a whole new part of Teddy’s character and gave me a chance to work through what had puzzled me practically my whole life.

Ghost Light

Theodosia “Teddy” Ballard knows nothing about community theater, but when the stage manager for “Little Shop of Horrors” takes a tragic header down the costume-loft stairs, she agrees to fill in for the sake of her actor friend, Will. Teddy takes the superstitions and swelled heads of The Stage in stride—till she meets George Clancy Everhart, the theater ghost, who informs her that the previous stage manager was murdered and demands that she find the killer. Both investigation and rehearsals are complicated when she makes a surprising discovery about her relationship with Will—and learns that George has his own dramatic agenda.


Jane Tesh, a retired media specialist, lives in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s home town, the real Mayberry. She is the author of the Madeline Maclin Mysteries, featuring former beauty queen, Madeline “Mac” Maclin and her reformed con man husband, Jerry Fairweather, and the Grace Street Mystery Series, featuring struggling PI David Randall, his psychic friend, Camden, and an array of tenants who move in and out of Cam’s boarding house at 302 Grace Street. Ghost Light is her first standalone mystery and the first to feature an asexual heroine. She has also published five fantasy novels. When she isn’t writing, Jane plays the piano and conducts the orchestra for productions at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.

Visit Jane’s website at www.janetesh.com and her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GraceStreetMysterySeries

Guest Blogger ~ Eileen Curley Hammond

I was in the middle of writing the seventh book in my Merry March cozy mystery series, and to be honest, I was struggling. Then, editor Cass Kim sent a Twitter request for the annual charity short story anthology, Autumn Nights: Nine Stories to Nibble at your Nape.

Even though I love writing daily micro-stories on Twitter, my total experience with slightly longer shorts was holiday ones for our local Sisters in Crime chapter (Buckeye Crime Writers). Luckily, Cass had been following my writing, so I was accepted into the Anthology.

The required elements were to include a bat(s), autumn themes, and be spooky. I’m a pantser and cozy mystery writer, so it should come as no shock that what emerged on the page was a cozy mystery that happens to have a bat as one of the main characters.

You would think that short stories would be easier to write. After all, the word count for the project was less than 8,000, and cozy mystery novels are usually 60,000 plus. But remember, you still need a beginning, a middle, and an end that make sense. Plus, it’s confusing to the reader to have too many characters in a short space, so your potential for red herrings is limited.

I love a challenge, and this was a fun one. It was also good to know that profits from this book will benefit The Trevor Project, which is dedicated to providing crisis support and safe spaces for young LBTQ+ individuals.

The Autumn Nights Anthology is available as both an e-book and paperback. Here is a teaser about my story in the Anthology:

An Unexpected Talent: Miranda had a bad day that she thought couldn’t get a lot worse. And that was before she stumbled over the dead body. Now she’s in the middle of a Halloween murderer hunt, and failing to uncover the perpetrator will mean the end of the world.

I’m pleased with where the story ended up and was very happy with the beta readers and editor, who made it even sharper. Writing the short story also allowed me to experiment more with humor, which I’m actively trying to incorporate into my novels as a break in the suspense. And the even better news is that a hiatus reenergized me, and I am now close to finishing my seventh book, which should be released in November. You can find all of my Merry March cozy mysteries here.

Eileen Curley Hammond retired from a successful marketing career in the insurance industry and now writes the Merry March cozy mystery series. When not pondering all that bats contribute to this world, she is hard at work on book seven of the series. To learn more about her and to sign up for her newsletter, check out her website:


Guest Blogger ~ Cherie Claire

A SCANCy series takes on Covid: Ghost Fever by Cherie Claire

            The last thing I wanted to rehash in my mystery writing was the virus that stole two years of my life. Of course, I’m exaggerating. I’m still here and am grateful my immediate family and friends are healthy and well. But write about Covid? Wasn’t high on my list.

            And yet, I had visited an outfitter in a rural area of the Florida Panhandle, just outside Pensacola, and it birthed an idea. Here was a place to zip line, kayak and relax in cabins on a piney woods property with an old schoolhouse from the 1920s and a creepy cemetery — yes, a cemetery! And it got better. Inside my cabin was a book about a rash of UFO sighting in the area in the 1970s. Nearby is a state park named for Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer who searched for the Fountain of Youth.

My imagination took off.

            The seventh book in my Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series combines all those elements, but adds time travel as well. What other pandemic had Americans been subjected to — the Spanish Influenza of 1918! That’s in the story as well.

            Ghost Fever may take place in 2021 amid the Covid scare but there’s a lot of adventure to enjoy.

The series features my main character, Viola Valentine of New Orleans. After a hurricane upends her life, Viola separates from a loveless marriage and becomes a travel writer, her dream profession. But the storm also blew open a psychic door. Now she sees ghosts who have died by water and mysteries to solve everywhere she goes.

            She’s what I call a SCANC. But it’s not what you think. SCANC stands for Specific Communication with Apparitions, Non-Entities and the Comatose. And Viola has seen all three!

The key word here is “specific.” Viola repressed her psychic abilities when she was young, tired of being chastised as having a vivid imagination when ghosts would appear. Children of the Paranormal TV show had yet to air so poor Vi had no support system, either. When my mystery series opens, Viola realizes that the trauma of the hurricane opened that door back up, but this time, the ghosts Vi sees are strictly related to water.

Along the way, that husband she tried to distance herself from won’t let her go. When I first started writing the series, I envisioned him a goofy distraction at best. He ended up stealing my heart and has become a colorful fun character throughout the series. He has some supernatural talents as well.

Do they get back together? You’ll have to read to find out.

Ghost Fever is the latest book in the Viola Valentine series, but the fun begins with A Ghost of a Chance, when Viola first discovers her ghostly talent. That ebook is free to download at all online bookstores. I also routinely give away copies of other books in the series through my newsletter. You can sign up and enter the contests at chereclaire.net.

Hopefully, Viola won’t have to experience another hurricane or pandemic, although being a New Orleans native she’s bound to see another storm or two. Vi has visited numerous Deep South locations and I’ll be sending my travel writing character to Southern destinations in future books, although an Alaska cruise is floating through my mind these days. Pun intended.

Regardless, there will be more Viola Valentine ghost stories to come.

Ghost Fever

The ghosts of the past never stop haunting.

Viola takes a job at her old summer camp in the Florida Panhandle, hoping for a peaceful place to work after months in Covid lockdown. But old traumas from her time at Camp Secret Spring resurface and Viola’s dream of a quiet getaway quickly turns into a nightmare.

Her best friend disappeared that summer, never to be found. Was it the camp’s mysterious water that Ponce de León searched for? Or can her friend’s vanishing be chalked up to the UFO sightings over the years? And just who were the Utopians who lived there before, many of whom died in the pandemic of 1918?

Book Seven in Cherie Claire’s Viola Valentine mystery series.

Book Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Fever-Viola-Valentine-Mystery-ebook/dp/B09GMSDV1Q/

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/ghost-fever/id1588475088

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ghost-fever-cherie-claire/1140231054?ean=2940162354956

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Cherie_Claire_Ghost_Fever?id=guJFEAAAQBAJ

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1107922

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/ghost-fever-2

Cherie Claire is the award-winning author of a mystery series and several Louisiana romances. New this year is Ghost Fever, part of a paranormal mystery series featuring New Orleans travel writer and ghost sleuth Viola Valentine. A native of New Orleans, Cherie now lives in Georgia where she works as a travel writer, but returns to her home state of Louisiana often. Visit her website at www.cherieclaire.net and follow her on social media.

Website: https://www.cherieclaire.net/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Cherie-Claire/e/B000APFZ6E?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1634567765&sr=8-1

Twitter: @Claire_Cherie, https://twitter.com/claire_cherie

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