Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Monday, November 21, 2016

All She Loves

Release day is getting closer for All She Loves!
(Sorry - my typing is not up to par because I nearly cut the tip off one of my fingers a few days ago when cutting veggies for soup, so please forgive any typos. Anyway...)

The Archer Family Regency Romances series is  completed, although I have had requests for some other stories to there may be related ones here and there in the future. But never fear, I have not stopped writing Regencies.

Wreck and Ruin  is a Regency that is still on the drawing board and will hopefully be released by Drakon Publishers sometimes during the summer of 2017. Trust, friendship, and social acceptance are the subject of Wreck and Ruin as the heroine faces what it means to be a stranger in a strange land after being in a shipwreck off the coast of England.

Early in 2017 (hopefully, January) All She Loves will be released. It is in the hands of the first editor, now. All She Loves is about revenge, facing tragedy, and moving on with your life--themes that we all have to face at times during our own lives. Elspeth plans go awry when she investigates the death of her best friend and finds herself losing her heart to an earl.

That's all for now--hope I didn't make too many typos!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hurricane Matthew in Coastal North Carolina

I really should be writing about a contest I'm sponsoring to win a free Kindle Fire and fifty (50) Regency Romances from several participating authors (including myself), but we got hammered by hurricane Matthew so you'll forgive me if I babble about that, first. It's really what is on my mind at the moment. We live in coastal North Carolina, between Wilmington and Lumberton and we back up to a swamp.

Here's a video showing what was going on when things began to get hairy. It was scary. My video just missed the downing of a huge, old White Oak behind the house. We lost over half a dozen huge trees, but thankfully, none of them hit the house or our cars.


We lost power Saturday evening and were starting to worry by Monday since I'd only filled 3 gallons of drinking water. I'd put out buckets for "other" water and we boiled that to use. What a lot of "city folks" don't realize is that if we folks out in the country don't have electricity, we don't have water because we rely on wells with pumps. We had a generator and used that to keep our refrigerator and freezer going, and we had plenty of food, but you really miss that running water.

Monday evening we got water back, hurray! But then I realized that we were (and are) not out of the woods (or in our case, the swamp) yet, because so many roads have washed out around here, and so many stores are flooded, that there is no place to buy anything.

We're kind of pseudo-preppers, though, so I have a pantry full of canned food, I bake bread, and had bought things before the storm, so we'll be okay for a while, but even so, we're going to eventually run out of things like cleaning supplies, butter, milk, and perishables. I can only hope that our tiny local grocery store does eventually get resupplied (the place they get resupplied from is under water right now). I really worry about people who didn't stock up.
One of the White Oaks that we lost, just a few feet from the house.

Another view - I have no idea how we're going to fill the huge holes left by all the trees that came down. This is just one of many...


Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones affected by the devastation. This beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak died. We found it in the yard. These birds usually only pass through our area during migration, so I was really sorry to see this one perish on its way south.
We have one hummingbird that hung around and was feeding right through the hurricane from our feeder. Fortunately, it survived and is still hanging around, though it really needs to go on down south.

Our driveway and front yard. The water stopped before it came too close to the house, though. Thank goodness.

And I feel sick about the people around Lumberton who have lost everything. I just can't imagine how horrible that must be. It's bad enough here, but we still have a house, electricity, and water. Our friends who are in law enforcement said they are using depth finders to locate cars under the water, and hopefully, they are empty. I pray that they are.

So...if you are able to do so, please give to the Red Cross and other agencies already starting the work of supporting the survivors who lost so much. It's a terrible tragedy, and I know all our thoughts are with them.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Something Completely Different

A Change of Pace

My latest book (novella) is now available on Amazon.com, and it is quite a bit different than my usual books. Sometimes, you just get an idea that won't leave you alone until you give in and write it, and that's what happened with me.

What is it?
Well, it's not a romance, for one thing. Nor is it historical. It's a horror story--specifically a haunted house story--with a bit of humor thrown into the mix. Paranormal suspense. Ghost story. Someone even suggested Women's Fiction (what!?). Quirky ghost story might work.

I don't know about you, but I'm totally addicted to haunted house stories, whether they are short stories, novellas, or novels. Haunting of Hill House, The Shining, etc. I can't ever seem to get enough. Maybe that explains why I wrote Flashes. Or maybe not. I don't think it's a story Stephen King would have thought of. Shirley Jackson might have, but it's not quite dark enough for her.

Flashes isn't your normal story. Not sure what that says about me, but let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

Flashes

Sometimes the perfect home isn’t so perfect…

Escaping from her abusive husband, Sheryl thinks she’s finally safe when she finds a job and a cheap house in a small, sleepy town. Sure, the house is a little run-down and could use a few repairs, but she’s got her whole life ahead of her to fix it up and make it her own. Unfortunately, her home seems to have other ideas. The cheerful, yellow house that is so perfect during the day grows dark and uninviting at night, full of strange noises and the icy chill of something unnatural hiding in the shadows.

And it’s not long before she comes to realize that what might have looked like a secure haven could very well be a death trap waiting for its first victim.

Or...maybe not.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

New Release and a Free Book

A New Release for the Archer Family Regency Romance Series

Love Across the Pond is now available!

I'm so pleased to announce the release of my latest book in the Archer Family Regency Romance series, Love Across the Pond. This book completes the series, which began with an American heiress Charlotte Haywood (The Unwanted Heiress) in London and now ends with Edward Archer traveling to Charleston, South Carolina to settle a property dispute for Charlotte.

But don't worry, even though this particular series is now complete, there will be other Regency romantic mysteries in the future.

Love Across the Pond is available for a limited time at a discount, so grab your copy now before the price goes up!

Love Across the Pond on Amazon.com

Blurb

Edward Archer walks right into the den of lioness Charity Stonewright when he sails across the pond to South Carolina to resolve a property dispute for his cousin, the Duchess of Peckham. Astute but bookish, the Englishman isn’t prepared for Charity, a strong-willed woman determined to prove the Charleston mansion is hers. And unbeknownst to Edward, Charity has a secret purpose. She is searching for the lost Stonewright fortune, hidden over sixty years ago, somewhere within the walls of the old, decaying mansion. Finding it will mean an end to the grinding poverty she’s endured and fulfill her dream to establish herself in Charleston society as a wealthy heiress.

Drawn to the mysterious woman, Edward is increasingly torn between duty and his growing love for her. But Charity seems determined to keep him at arm's length, stubbornly maintaining her distrust of him.

As the mysteries of the mansion threaten to tear Edward and Charity apart, they must learn to listen to their hearts and discover that the real treasure may be love.

Excerpt - Edward and Charity's first meeting

Using his cane, Edward knocked again, listening as the loud noise echoed and finally faded in the depths of the house. It sounded empty, completely deserted. While finding the house empty did mean he wouldn’t have to evict anyone, it did mean that he’d have to find the lawyer, Mr. Tarte, in order to obtain the key and enter.

With a sigh, he half-turned. A flicker of yellow light caught his attention. The wide fanlight above the door glowed with the faint, wavering illumination of a candle. After a minute, the doorknob rattled as someone struggled to unfasten the heavy lock.

The door creaked open a few inches, spilling light through the gap.

“Finally! Where have you been?” a woman’s breathless voice asked.

She peered around the edge of the door, holding a candle above her head. The golden gleam of red hair curled over the woman’s pale face. Below the tangle of hair, eyes blinked, lost in shadowed hollows beneath her arching brows. A sprinkling of freckles leapt over the bridge of her straight nose and high cheekbones.

“We would like to speak with Mr. Stonewright,” Edward said, hoping his cousin was incorrect when she said the woman lived here alone. “If he is available.”

“Mr. Stonewright? My—” She broke off before asking sharply, “Who are you?” Then, as if she suffered sudden doubts about the wisdom of opening the door to strangers, she started to slam it shut.

He shoved his booted foot into the gap and thrust the door open, forcing her to retreat into the dim hallway.

Clearly nervous, she glanced around the near-empty hallway, her mouth set in a grim line.

Edward held up his hands, although the cane gripped in his right hand marred his attempt to appear harmless. “I am Edward Archer.” He reached through the door and dragged Hildegard over the threshold. “This is my sister, Lady Hildegard Archer. I believe we are expected. Is there a Mr. Stonewright? Is he available?”

“Archer? I don’t know anyone named Archer,” the woman said, gliding back another yard, her feet invisible under the long hem of her pale gray gown. Her gaze flicked to the candle in her hand, as if she contemplated blowing it out and escaping in the resulting darkness.

“No, but I am sure if you speak to your master, he will recognize our names. Or your mistress,” he amended. “We sent him notice of our pending arrival weeks ago.”
“Master?” A harsh laugh broke from her mouth. “He—he is not here.” She lifted her round chin, daring him to argue otherwise.

Switching the cane to his left hand, he held up his right in a gesture of surrender. “Please—we mean you no harm. We simply wish to speak with Mr. or Mrs. Stonewright. He is expecting us. We are cousins to the Duchess of Peckham—”

“We don’t know any duchesses,” she threw back, her chin set at a stubborn angle.

He studied her. Her straight back and air of defiance suggested she was not a servant. “You—and your husband? Father?—may have known her as Miss Charlotte Haywood.”

“I didn’t know her at all, and I would appreciate it if you would leave immediately. This is my house—you have no business here.”

“Mr. Stonewright—”

“I own this property, and I am the head of this household. If you wish to speak to someone, then you must make do with me.”

Behind him came the soggy squelching of their servants’ footsteps as Atwood and Nettle sought the relative dryness of the stoop. Another volley of damp sneezes echoed through the door. Nettle blew her nose noisily and heaved a heavy sigh.

Mr. Stonewright or no Mr. Stonewright, they were not going back out into the foul weather to look for an inn if Edward had anything to say about it.

“As we informed Mr. or Mrs. Stonewright, the ownership of this property has yet to be determined,” Edward replied calmly.

The red-haired woman leaned forward, body rigid with tension as she held the candle out slightly above shoulder-level. “It has been determined—it is mine.”
----

Don't forget, Love Across the Pond is available for a limited time at a discount, so grab your copy now before the price goes up! And speaking of limited time offers...


Free Book

To celebrate the release of Love Across the Pond, the Archer Family Regency, A Stolen Rose, is available for FREE! But it's only free for today and tomorrow, so be sure to grab your copy before the price goes back up.

When the Earl of Wraysbury rescues a young woman from a carriage accident, he can't resist her laughing eyes and wry sense of humor, even though their families have been locked in a feud for generations.

Anemone may be achingly lonely but she's loyal to her family. When she wakes up after an accident in the strong arms of a handsome stranger, she's immediately drawn to him, and appalled  when  she discovers he's her family's sworn enemy, the Earl of Wraysbury.

Neither Anemone nor the earl is prepared for the flaring attraction they feel, or for the escalation of the war between their families when a 40-year-old mystery triggers accusations of murder. Loyalty and the threat of a dangerous duel are destined to tear the lonely lovers apart unless they are willing to defy their families and take a chance on love. 

-----
If you are interested, grab your copy on Amazon.com today. The sale ends on August 24, 2016.
A Stolen Rose on Amazon.com

Hope you enjoy some light summer reading!
Amy

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Love Across the Pond is Coming Soon!

Love Across the Pond

Archer Family Series

The next, and last, book in the Archer family series of Regency romances is in the hands of my editor and will be released in July! This book closes the circle on the Archer family, although there may be spin-offs since I've had readers request John Archer and Lady Victoria's story.

The series started with The Unwanted Heiress about Charlotte Haywood, an outspoken American Heiress who is orphaned and sent to live with relative in England with disastrous results. Her difficulties only increase when she catches the attention of a duke and together, the two of them must outwit a murderer.

The circle has now come around to Edward Archer, the brother of an earl. In Love Across the Pond, Charlotte sends Edward back to her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, to resolve a legal problem with one of her properties. It seems someone has taken up residence in Charlotte's old home and claims the house is hers! Edward steps right into the den of a lioness when he arrives and is soon at odds with Charity Stonewright.

Not only does Edward have a legal tangle to unravel, but he is soon enmeshed in several mysteries including a decades-old murder and a hunt for a lost treasure. It doesn't help when he finds himself falling in love with the woman he's supposed to evict!

So the original heroine came from Charleston and went to England to find her duke, and the cousin of that duke now travels back to Charleston to discover the love of his life, Charity Stonewright--assuming she doesn't just bar the door against him.

And cat lovers note, I couldn't resist a tribute to one of our cats who recently passed away: Psycho. He was a marmalade cat who insisted everyone love him, including our Jack Russell, Daisy. He was an absolutely crazy animal who just showed up one day and insisted on being adopted. Our dogs initially went nuts, but he just completely ignored them except when he wanted a nap on something warm (much to their horror). He was toothless, cross-eyed, and frankly not very handsome, but if you sat down, he was in your lap whether you liked it or not.
I can't tell you how many times he'd drape himself over the edge of the stairs, head and front paws dangling, until he overbalanced and fell to the floor, usually landing on his head. Never seemed to bother him. His sense of balance was definitely missing, but the vet said he was okay and he lived with us for fifteen years before he passed away. We miss him dreadfully--he was such a playful and loving animal.

As a tribute, he appears in Love Across the Pond, as Nodcock, the orange cat.

I hope you will enjoy the newest, and last, book in the Archer series!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

New Release: Fencing for Ladies

En Garde, My Love (or Fencing for Ladies)

Book 5 in the Archer Family Regency Romances series is in pre-release (with a discounted price) and set to be released on April 8, 2016! 

En Garde, My Love (or Fencing with Ladies) was so much fun to write, and I hope you will find it just as enjoyable to read. Here is a little secret: I actually took fencing in college but was so bad at it that I didn't get past the first few lessons. You see, I wasn't aggressive enough in going after openings presented to me by my opponents. Sigh. Anyway, it was an interesting sport, and I wanted to include it in one of my books and therefore, Fencing for Ladies was born. The book was recently renamed, En Garde, My Love, so I hope that doesn't get confusing! The paperback retains the original title while the Kindle version has the new cover and title, En Garde, My Love.

If you read book 4, A Stolen Rose, you met Lady Olivia when she "stuck her nose" in her brother's
(the Earl of Wraysbury) business. Lady Olivia is not exactly bossy, but she does know her own mind and despite Society's horror at the notion of a lady fencing, she decides to start her own school for ladies. It is good exercise, after all, isn't it? And ladies in the Regency were just as interested in healthful exercise as we are today. But of course nothing goes as expected, particularly when she uncovers a dead body hidden in her office at her brand new school.

Murder is definitely not the sort of thing in which a young lady should involve herself!

And when a forbidden love strolls into the scene, nothing goes smoothly for Lady Olivia or her secret hopes for the future.

The paperback cover, Fencing for Ladies, is on the right.

For more information, check out the book on Amazon. It's at a discounted price now, but that won't last much longer.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Rabbit is Free

Release Day -- Yesterday



I finally released the rabbit. Couldn't write about it until today. I guess I got more attached than I thought I would. Anyway, I couldn't think about him yesterday without crying.

Anyway, we did a soft release, which means early in the morning, I took the rabbit's cage up to an area near our pond that has a lot of cover, some trees, and some good grass. I've seen rabbits up there on the wildlife camera we have, so I figure it is a good area. And it is only a few yards away from where we think the rabbit's nest was.

So, I placed the cage near some thickets and walked away. Well, not really. The rabbit didn't want to get out, and I couldn't resist saying goodbye, so I picked him up and gave his soft ears a final rubbing (he loved that) and placed him back in his cage to let him make the decision, himself, about when he wanted to leave.

Later that afternoon, I checked the area and there was no sign of him. But I left the cage there overnight in case he wanted to get back inside. I doubt he did, but at least he had the choice.


I guess that's it. I hope he finds other rabbits and has a good life. It's hard to think of him out there, alone. I keep thinking about all the hawks, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, snakes, feral dogs and cats, and other critters out there who would find him a tasty snack. And I can't for the life of me understand how people can abandon pets out in the country (they abandon them at our mailbox all the time because they think the area is just agricultural fields), not thinking about the starvation and terrors their pet will face.

At least I know the rabbit is back where he belongs and will probably find a mate (or two) and hopefully thrive. I'm hoping for the best.

It was a wonderful experience even if it does make me cry a little now that he's on his own. Wish him luck!

Friday, October 09, 2015

Chicken Tractor for Rabbits

I used to raise chickens (and probably will do so again in the future) and was always interested in the chicken tractors which is basically a chicken house you can move around your yard to let the chickens browse fresh/different areas of your yard.

Well, as my past blogs have mentioned, we have this baby rabbit we're trying to raise until it gets old enough to release. And because I have no intention of becoming a rehabber, I wanted something for the rabbit to use that gave him slightly more room than the pet carrier we are using as his home, and which could be placed outside for him to get acclimated to the weather and natural environment.

Because he'll probably be released in 2 weeks, I also didn't want to buy some elaborate rabbit hutch.

The Rabbit Tractor

The rabbit running around the rabbit tractor

Detail on the door. I cut a panel for the door itself and cut around the latch so that it could be open and shut, but the mesh still goes to the ground to keep the rabbit safe inside.

Another view of the rabbit tractor, showing the cardboard box for the rabbit. The rabbit is just outside the cardboard box.

I built the rabbit tractor after I remembered we had an old wire kennel for our Jack Russell Terrier.  I removed the bottom tray, revealing a pretty much open bottom that would let grasses and clover come through to be available to the rabbit. Except the bars were too far apart to keep a small rabbit safe and enclosed. So I got some hardware cloth and wrapped it around the cage and secured it with wire where the rabbit could reach and plastic zip-ties where he couldn't reach. I carefully attached panels to the doors so I could still open the doors.

I also put in a small cardboard box and scrap of fabric for a little hutch where he could go and sleep/be protected.

And now the bunny can spend a few hours outside and collect his own food, while still being safe inside his "hutch."

Turned out that he was afraid of the wide-open spaces (no wonder, really) so I took a few linen towels and drapped the hutch to give him some shade, privacy, and a sense of security. It seems to be working fine.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Update to Rabbit Rescue


The rabbit rescue continues, and The Little Squirt is now sending us out into the yard searching for appetizing greens to fill his little bowl. I can't believe he's managed to survive a week in our care. We weren't able to find any rehabbers to take it and could never find the rabbit's nest to put the baby back. So we're stuck with him for a couple more weeks until he is old enough to be released.

So far, his favorite food is clover, followed by young dandelion shoots and purslane. He likes new leaves, old leaves--not so much. The bad news is that he likes me, and whenever I put my hand in his cage to put in some food, he nuzzles my hand and wants to come out and sit in my lap (where he simply goes to sleep). He's not supposed to like me. He's supposed to be afraid of me so that he will survive when we release him.

But from what I understand, he'll soon be afraid me of, too, it's just a matter of time.

Anyway, I wanted to let folks know that The Little Squirt is still alive and seems to be thriving. So far, so good.
---

And, on the book front, A Stolen Rose, a traditional Regency, has been released and is now available.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Poor Little Bunny


I was hesitant to write about our little orphan, but he's made it for almost 5 days so maybe this won't jinx the whole thing.

So, last Friday, I was walking the dogs when my little Jack Russel stopped in the middle of the road. I went back and, well, she had a bunny in her mouth. I made her drop it, and the poor little thing appeared to be unharmed except for being in shock.

My husband and I took the dogs and scoured the entire place, looking for the rabbit burrow to put the bunny back, because it hadn't even opened its eyes yet. Baby bunnies have a very low survival rate if you take them away from the rest of the litter, and I didn't want the poor little thing to die. No luck, although we searched and kept trying to get the dogs to show us where the bunnies were.

Finally, we had to give up for the night and take the poor thing home. We called a bunch of rehabbers because you're not supposed to keep wild animals, and I wanted to give the thing a chance. No luck. You see, 90% of orphaned bunnies die. Most of the rehabbers had too many other animals and didn't want a baby bunny that was sure to die.

We looked again on Saturday for the burrow. We even tried to find someone who had domestic rabbits with a litter, hoping to slip the baby in with the others. Mammas are great about accepting "strangers."

No luck. So we found the bunny org and because my husband is a wildlife biologist, we looked up rabbits in his literature. Between all the sources, we decided that goat's milk for puppies/kittens plus a bit of heavy cream (8 parts goat's milk to 1 part cream) warmed up would do it. So I went to the Seed & Feed and got goat's milk and a tiny feeding bottle, then got some cream. We prepared everything the way you do for a human baby and fed the beast.

Bunny likes the milk mixture a little on the warm side, but at least he ate. And I rubbed his bottom as recommended to get him to pee and poop, although he seems perfectly capable of pooping on his own because there were droppings in the bucket where he lived in a nest of microfiber rags.

Oh, we kept him in a big bucket hung from the rafters to keep the dogs and cat away from him. It worked for the first night. Unfortunately, he jumped out the second night and roamed around our living room all night. Oops. Fortunately, none of her animals found him. And although he was cold, we fed him and got a cat carrier for him. And I took one of those horseshoe shaped pads you heat up in the microwave for for shoulder/neck muscles and put that in the cat carrier to keep him warm.(Heat lamps are too dehydrating.)

We were trying to mimic his natural environment, which means no heat lamps or anything like that, but a gentle source of warmth like that pad did the trick. He likes it, but frequently hops away from it if he gets too hot And although we were feeding it twice a day, 1.5 tsp (approx), since the mamma rabbit only visits the den rarely to feed her kits (evening and morning) to avoid leaving a scent trail that might lead predators to the den, we did feed our kit a extra time after his "adventure" on our floor, so he got breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So far, (we found him Friday and it is now Tuesday) he seems to be doing okay. We don't mess with him except when I take him out to feed him. Sunday, I started adding probiotics to his bottle in preparation to moving him to greens. Baby rabbits have sterile digestive systems and normally eat their mamma's night poop to get the right flora in their bellies, but we have no mamma, so we're using probiotics.

He started opening his eyes Sunday night and Monday. Today, his eyes are pretty well open and his ears are twitching and upright. That means he's close to being ready to start on greens collected from the yard. He's also getting more nervous of me, which is great, because he needs to be afraid of humans and everything else out there when we release him in 2 - 3 more weeks.

I hope he continues to thrive. We're doing the best we can. I'd like him to be in that 10% of bunnies who do manage to live long enough to be released, and I hope I haven't just jinxed him by writing this. He's a tough little bugger and obviously wants to survive. Today, I'm going to sprout some oat and alfalfa seeds I got for sprouting (I eat a lot of sprouts, myself) as well as sorrel, clover, plantain, sumac, and other goodies I collect around our property. That should give him a variety of things to try as we move him to his normal veggie diet.

I'll update this as he progresses. Let's hope the update(s) don't include a bunny funeral. I can't quite believe he's made it this long after everything that has happened to him. I wish we could have convinced a rehabber to take him (they are all volunteers, unpaid, and overwhelmed this time of year). I'm always afraid I'm going to find him cold and stiff in the cat carrier.

I'm also hesitant to name him because, that also seems like tempting fate, but I think of him as The Little Squirt. And The Little Squirt really wants to live. He's been through a lot and is still hanging in there.

Finally, I don't mean to "pollute" this with crass talk of books, but September/October are exciting months for me. A Lady in Hiding is out, and both A Stolen Rose and Her Vampire Bodyguard will be out in October. So what with The Little Squirt and writing, this fall has been really busy so far.





Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What I've Been Up To

What have you done for me, lately?

Sorry, I couldn't resist writing that as if folks wanted to know. Anyway, you might well ask what I've been doing.

I've been writing. And I've got several new books published this month and over the next couple of months. And I'm developing plans for a couple of new series, as well. And here they are.

A Lady in Hiding

A Lady in Hiding (previously published as The Bricklayer's Helper) has been re-edited and was just released this month. I got the germ of an idea for this book from an article I read about a girl who was orphaned and instead of living on the street, she disguised herself as a boy and went to work at a series of jobs, including a bricklayer's helper and a footboy, before her identity was discovered and she exchanged her trousers for a dress.

Of course, A Lady in Hiding is entirely a work of fiction, but sometimes readers ask me where I get my ideas, and in this case, that true story is where I got the idea.
A Lady in Hiding - Available now!


 A tragic case of arson sends Sarah into hiding to escape the terrible fate of her family. She works as a common laborer, and is safe for thirteen years, until she receives an ominous note. The killer has caught up with her. Despite her disguise, she is once again in danger from a man determined to silence all echoes from the past.

William, an inquiry agent, is consumed with curiosity when he meets Sarah, and one look into her gray eyes has him hooked. Even though the evidence is scanty after so many years, he promises to assist her, unaware how events will challenge him as both a man of honor and an investigator.

When a second attempt is made on Sarah's life, William is forced to follow a treacherous path through the twisted, dark past. And his growing attraction to the independent woman proves just as dangerous. He needs a clear head to sift through the ashes of the old tragedy, with its hints of corruption stretching back to the Napoleonic wars and reaching into the highest levels of Society. Above all, he must protect Sarah, regardless of personal cost.

Love must find a way to bring the two together and thwart a desperate arsonist, or the last survivor of the long-ago fire will die.

A Stolen Rose - Available for Pre-Order now at $0.99

When the Earl of Wraysbury rescues a young woman from a carriage accident, he can't resist her laughing eyes and wry sense of humor, even though their families have been locked in a feud for generations.

Anemone may be achingly lonely but she's loyal to her family. When she wakes up after an accident in the strong arms of a handsome stranger, she's immediately drawn to him, and appalled  when  she discovers he's her family's sworn enemy, the Earl of Wraysbury.

Neither Anemone nor the earl is prepared for the flaring attraction they feel, or for the escalation of the war between their families when a 40-year-old mystery triggers accusations of murder. Loyalty and the threat of a dangerous duel are destined to tear the lonely lovers apart unless they are willing to defy their families and take a chance on love. 

Regency Romantic Mysteries Boxed Set - Available November 1

A boxed set containing The Unwanted Heiress, A Lady in Hiding, and The Earl's Masquerade with a bonus book, Love, The Critic, will be available November 1. This set has the first three of the Archer Family Regency Romances and will be $4.99, which is much cheaper than buying the individual books.

Her Vampire Bodyguard - Available December 1

Her Vampire Bodyguard (previously published as Vampire Protector) will be available December 1.

Gwen can't afford to trust anyone. She has a horrifying secret only half-remembered. But she knows she's not the young woman she appears, and her nights are filled with terrifying nightmares. Her tenuous peace is shattered when a mysterious letter arrives, hinting that someone knows her secrets and driving her to uncover the truth at her long-abandoned home.

But she doesn't go alone.

Although frightening secrets plague John, he has a duty to protect Gwen from the unknown dangers surrounding her. She seems unaware that there is an artifact in her old house that others will kill for, so he's determined to accompany her when she returns home.

Unfortunately, their seemingly casual visit unleashes an ancient evil that threatens them both. Despite their growing love, they soon realize that if don't learn to trust each other and face their deepest fears, they will die.

Only trust and their growing love can give them the strength to overcome the ancient evil waiting for them in the shadows of their past. 

Future Series

Once all those books hit the streets, I have a mystery, Time, that will come out in 2016, and then I will start on a new series of romantic cosy mysteries featuring the Harmony sisters. Oh, that doesn't mean there won't be any more Second Sons Regency mysteries or Archer family Regency romances. In fact, I'm writing another Archer family Regency romance, Fencing for Ladies, right now. But I am also working on the Harmony sisters.

What is so special about the Harmony sisters? Well, each of the sisters will have her own story (and romance) and they manage to solve some puzzling murders in the small town of Peyton, NC. The sisters run a business called Total Harmony that is a lifestyle center helping people outfit their homes and themselves to bring harmony back into their lives. The concept that colors, decorating styles, scents and event cosmetics can be brought into harmony to improve a person's mood, and therefore, life. Kind of Feng Shui mixed with color theory and scents.

I've gotten into a lot of DIY (do it yourself) projects lately, including developing my own sourdough starter to bake all my own bread, pickling, and more recently, making my own hair rinse, cold cream, and face cream. I like having more control over the ingredients and freshness, and I've seen minor improvements in my own life through these efforts.

For those interested in having more control and like small DIY projects, here is a face cream I use and really like. I had some small red spots/scars on my forehead and this cream has really helped me with those spots. It is a little oily at first because it takes longer for the skin to drink it in, but as I am older, I find I'm okay with that because of the sense of accomplishment, control, and skin improvements I'm seeing.

Mature Skin Face Cream

2 Tbsp Almond base oil
2 tsp Rose Hip Seed base oil
1 1/2 tsp Beeswax
1 Tbsp distilled water
Contents of 1 vitamin E capsule
10 drops Rosemary essential oil *
5 drops Carrot essential oil *
10 drops Neroli essential oil *

* Essential oils are optional, but these 3 are good for mature skin, so I tend to use them. And I like the way it smells, particularly the rosemary. I use rosemary a lot.

In a large glass measuring cup, put the base oils and beeswax. Microwave in 30 sec increments (about 1 min, 30 sec) until the beeswax melts. In a different small bowl, microwave the water for about 30 secs.

Let the oil/beeswax cool a little (until the glass container is warm to the touch, but not hot) and using a wire whisk, whisk the warm water into the oils. Whisk for about 3 minutes, until a creamy, pale yellow cream forms. Pierce the vitamin E capsule and squish the contents into the cream. Add the essential oils (if using), and continue whisking for another 4 minutes or so. The cream should be thick and a little shiny.

Scrape the cream into a very clean glass container (I use the canning jars meant for baby food).

This makes quite a bit and generally lasts me more than 1 month, so I keep it in a small refrigerator, along with my collection of base and essential oils. That way, it stays good for several months. It will last about 1 month without refrigeration, though.

To use: you don't need much, and you may wish to rub it between your hands and then apply to your face and throat. (I prefer just to massage it into my neck and face.) You don't need much. A little dab will do you (to re-use that old ad phrase.)

So that's one of my recipes that will be appearing in the Harmony sisters mystery books. Stay tuned--there is a lot coming up.

Thanks!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Malice Domestic 2015 and Dark Shadows

Just got back from the wonderful writers and readers conference, Malice Domestic, held in Silver Spring, MD. What a great conference--lots of fun--and a lot of wonderful writers to meet and discover. I didn't do any sessions this year, I went strictly as a reader, but I sure attended a lot of interesting sessions about mysteries, such as police procedurals, British historical mysteries, and even humor in mysteries. That last one, humor in mysteries, featured a moderator I couldn't wait to meet: Kathryn Leigh Scott. For those who find the name oddly familiar, well, she played Maggie Evans/Josette in the original Dark Shadows.

Although I've meet a lot of famous authors or famous people, there are only two who ever meant something to me.

Back in the 80's, I was wandering around the gardens behind the Governor's Palace in historic Williamsburg when low and behold, I saw someone I instantly recognized: Isaac Asimov. I couldn't believe it. I was so amazed and in awe that about all I could do was to introduce myself and mumble, "I've read every book you've ever written!" He was so kind and gracious, even though I'm sure the last thing he wanted was to be accosted while trying to enjoy the formal gardens. To this day, I wish I had had my wits about me and had taken his picture.

For years, I felt he was the only meaningful famous person I'd ever met.
Until the Malice Domestic conference.

I attended the session on humor in mysteries specifically because I saw that Kathryn Leigh Scott was to be the moderator.  And I wasn't disappointed. It was a great session and even better, I got to listen to "Maggie Evan's" lovely voice again.

Despite all the years since Dark Shadows was on the air, she hasn't really changed. She's still just as beautiful as she was as Maggie Evans, although her hair is a bit lighter (her picture is on the right). And what was really interesting was that Kathryn Leigh Scott was just as warm and kind as her character had been all those years ago. What a nice lady.

The other authors seemed like a lot of fun, too, and I had to laugh when one of them, in talking about how she includes humorous elements, mentioned an incident that had happened to her in real life. Seems she was vacationing in a a remote cabin in the woods when a snake dropped down from the ceiling to land next to her. Surprise, surprise.

I didn't raise my hand, but I could top that story. I live in a log home every day and can't tell you how many snakes I've had to remove. Thank goodness my husband has snake tongs. Rat snakes, particularly young ones, love to climb and seem to particularly love log homes and cabins. I suspect that that is what dropped in on the author.

A few years back, I got up early to go to work and glanced over at my sewing machine in the corner of my bedroom. After one look, I shook my husband's shoulder to wake him up.

"Sorry to wake you, honey, but there's a snake trying to use my sewing machine. Can you remove it? I have to take a shower and get to work," I said.

You see, I didn't want the snake to escape, hide in the house, and then later show up in some inconvenient place. Like our bed.

And then there was the cow I found munching the grass around our mailbox. And the barracuda in the middle of our road, sixty miles inland from the coast.

Yeah. Lots of stories.

People have no idea what it's like to live in the country.

Anyway, after the Malice Domestic session (picture on the left), I got on my Kindle and bought the first book in a series Kathryn L. Scott is writing (the Jinx series). The first book is called Down and Out in Beverly Heels and I enjoyed it a great deal--I read it in two days. While most of it is written in present tense, I forced myself to overlook that (I loathe present tense--it throws me right out of the story) and I enjoyed the story about a mature actress struggling to get her career and life back on track after her husband takes her for everything she's got and then disappears.

Ouch. I can only hope Kathryn wasn't writing from personal experience. :)

Although the mystery is less of a who-done-it than a humorous, caper story where the hapless heroine tries to find her husband to see if he's really alive or dead. A few people die along the way and the ending has a nice surprise, so it does have mystery elements. Above all, it works, at least it did for me.

So...the conference was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it to mystery readers and writers. It's not too big and a lot of really interesting people usually show up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Honeymoon with Death is released

The latest Second Sons Inquiry Agency Regency mystery series is out: Honeymoon with Death! This is the fifth book in the Regency mystery series and the third featuring Prudence Barnard and Knighton Gaunt. For those interested in Pru and Knighton, the previous two books were:
The Vital Principle
Dead Man's View

The books don't have to be read in order, but That is the "proper order" for those interested.

Since I'm snowed in at the moment and am suffering from writer's block with the book I'm currently writing, I figured now would be a good time to tell everyone about the book.


On their honeymoon trip through Europe, Prudence and Knighton Gaunt take a brief excursion to see the triple falls on the river Velino on their way to Rome, little knowing the chain of events this will precipitate.

The couple sends their own carriage and servants on to Rome to reserve rooms and joins a small group of travelers in a hired coach. Unfortunately, before the group reaches the triple cascade, their carriage breaks down on a remote road. A band of ruffians ambushes them, and their only safety seems to lie in a ramshackle, old inn reputed to be haunted.

The party of travelers spends one night only to discover one of their group dead the next morning. The body lies in a ravine near the area where they were attacked, casting suspicion on the bandits.

But why had the passenger returned to such a dangerous spot in the middle of the night, and why was the victim wearing another traveler’s cloak?

As Knighton and Pru investigate, they discover the other travelers were not all the strangers they seemed to be. Mistaken identity, revenge, envy, and frustrated love vie as motives, and Knighton is pushed to desperation when Pru disappears as well. He must use every ounce of logic and intelligence to find her—and identify the killer--before there is another death on the road to Rome.

Excerpt

In this excerpt, the carriage Pru, Knighton, and several other passengers are riding within suffers a terrifying accident on a treacherous mountain road. None of them realize that their difficulties are only the start of even more trouble.

A loud crack shuddered through the coach. The vehicle lurched to the right and then tilted abruptly. Pru would have fallen to the floor if she had not caught her husband’s strong, outstretched hand. Mrs. Ruberry was thrown forward and only the lieutenant’s outstretched hands kept her from landing in his lap.

Through the open windows next to Pru, a terrifying view of a mountainside scattered with sharp rocks, ravines, and dark pine trees slanted down toward a misty valley below. It was a dizzying and frightening sight as they teetered on the very edge of a long drop down to scattered boulders and rubble.

“I’m falling!” Miss Demaretti screamed as she cast a frightened glance out Pru’s window and threw her arms around Mrs. Ruberry. “We must escape, Violet, the carriage is slipping—I can feel us falling!”

“No one is going to fall,” Knighton said curtly as he fumbled with the carriage’s only door next to Pru.

When he opened it, the door swung out loosely over the abyss, showing only a narrow edge of the road immediately under the carriage. A bare six inches of ground lay between them and disaster.
Pru hooked her right arm through the window to keep from falling out and held on to Mrs. Ruberry’s shoulder with her left. “Is there any room to climb out?” Her voice sounded breathless, and she sucked in a sharp gasp when there was another crack.

Her breath caught in her throat. The carriage tilted alarmingly toward the ravine, top-heavy as it was with baggage. She could hear thumps and slithering from the roof as the two men who had been forced to rid atop due to the already overcrowded interior scrambled to hold on.

“Yes,” her husband grunted as he caught the edge of the door for support before leaning out a few inches. “There is just enough room if we are careful. You men, shift your weight toward the opposite side when I climb out. I will assist the ladies to exit first.” He glanced apologetically at Pru.

She nodded quickly, knowing what he needed from her. “I’ll help Miss Demaretti and Mrs. Ruberry and then follow them.”

Knighton depended upon her to keep her head and help the others. If only she felt as calm as he sounded. She turned her head away from the window, ignoring the pull of the terrifying ravine. Her weight, combined with that of the other men, would provide stabilization while Miss Demaretti and the somewhat portly Mrs. Ruberry scrambled out.

The carriage shook. Rocks cascaded down the mountainside, dislodged by the carriage. The coachman spoke sharply to the horses in an attempt to control the frightened animals. Every movement made the coach shudder and created another cascade of rubble.

Knighton as he climbed out and clung to the door and coach fender. The two other men quickly slid toward the opposite side as the conveyance trembled and groaned.

A few rocks from the verge rolled over the edge, clicking and rattling their way down the hill. The noise went on and on, and they all froze, listening with tense faces until the sounds of the tumbling stones faded away.

“Come, Miss Demaretti, you must go first.” Pru stretched her arm across the trembling body of Mrs. Ruberry to catch hold of Miss Demaretti’s wrist.

“Careful!” Mrs. Ruberry’s shrill voice cut through the tension, immobilizing the others in the coach.

“You’ll send us all down the mountain to our deaths!” She twisted as if to push her way past Pru’s arm, but when she caught her glance, the older woman thrust her hand against her charge’s back and literally pushed her toward the door.

“Excuse me, Miss,” Captain Marshall said apologetically as he braced Miss Demaretti with his hands around her waist and lifted her through the door. He held on to her until Knighton caught her and eased her around the rear of the coach to the road.

The conveyance swayed as the weight shifted, and another shower of stones bounced over the side.
In a state of panic, Mrs. Ruberry climbed past Pru, elbowing her aside and nearly kicking her in the face in her haste to follow the girl out. Knighton caught her and ignored her wild words as he swung her around the fender and pushed her onto the road next to Miss Demaretti.

Without the plump woman’s weight, the coach wallowed and lurched, sending more and more rocks down into the ravine. The narrow edge of the road crumbled under the broken wheel. The coach leaned further over the ravine. The horses, restive and terrified by the sounds, snorted and whinnied, jerking the conveyance even more, despite the driver’s attempts to calm them and keep the vehicle stable.

Pru squeezed her eyes shut. Despite her efforts to remain calm, her mind feverishly flashed terrifying images of the coach tilting over the edge. Tumbling and crashing against the rocks, they would be smashed into pieces and scattered over the scree at the base, like so many crushed porcelain dolls amidst the wooden debris of the coach. She clutched one of the leather straps as the conveyance shifted again.

*
If you are interested, here is the link for the book on Amazon, followed by my web page which has links to other sources for the book.
Honeymoon with Death on Amazon
Honeymoon with Death web page

Happy Reading!



Monday, December 01, 2014

Honeycomb Sourdough Biscuits

I'm not a great chef or anything, but sometimes even the most mediocre cook comes up with a recipe worth sharing. This one is actually "adapted" from GRIT Magazine's special baking issue they put out a while back. It included a great section on sourdough and since I'm a sourdough fanatic, (I have had well, digestive problems all my life to put it nicely, and eating sourdough fixed me up perfectly. I wish I'd discovered this simple solution sooner.) I made almost all the recipes. They were all excellent, and I really liked the biscuit one because it was quick and used a cast iron pan. I have a large collection of cast iron and use it almost exclusively except when I need a non-reactive pan for something.

The only problem was that the recipe in the magazine made too many biscuits for me and my husband, even eating leftovers the next day or so.

So the first thing I did was to cut the recipe in half. That worked okay, but in the days that followed, I made a few other changes. One change came about because the only honey I had was some really good honey with the comb in the bottle.

I also developed this because I wasn't using my sourdough starter every day and yet didn't always want to keep it in the refrigerator. And I'm cheap and didn't want to keep throwing away starter. Since the sourdough helps me digestive-wise, I found that making biscuits everyday used enough starter to keep it going on my counter without wasting it, and it gives us good biscuits for breakfast.

Anyway, here is the recipe. It makes about 9 biscuits and you finally have a use for that small cast iron skillet that you thought was only good for frying an egg. That's the one that is  6.5" but 8" will also work. NOTE: I've never tried this in a pan other than cast iron and I don't think it would come out as well in plain aluminum or glass.

This recipe takes about an hour, all told, when you count in collecting the ingredients, mixing, rising, and baking.

Honeycomb Sourdough Biscuits
1 cup of sourdough starter
1 cup of flour
1 Tbsp of very cold butter cut into pea-sized chunks
1 tsp (generous tsp) of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (you can add more if you like them a little saltier)
2 tsp honey with a bit of comb scrapings

1 Tbsp melted butter

Process

NOTES - Sourdough - This is a variable. If you keep your starter on the "thick" side (like puffy, risen dough) then you may need to add a teaspoon or so of water. The recipe depends upon the sourdough starter for moisture. You should be able to work in all the flour--it will be a very stiff dough--but if you can't, your sourdough starter may simply be too "thick" so a small bit of extra water may help.

Honeycomb - If you scrap your teaspoon over the honeycomb as you get the honey out of the jar, you'll get little bits of the comb. We find that this gives the biscuits a bit of a chewiness and extra honey flavor that we really like. You don't have to do this, but we really like it. You may like less honey in your biscuits or no honeycomb scrapings.

Butter - You can use either salted or unsalted. The salted butter will make it less sweet and more like a biscuit. The unsalted will bring out the honey notes and make a sweeter biscuit. Using margarine isn't worth it (in my humble opinion). The flavor and crumb just aren't the same.

Ingredients - The measurements are not exact. In fact, I just use a regular spoon and sprinkle in what I think looks good for the baking powder, salt, butter, and honey. The recipe is VERY forgiving so you can get a little sloppy with the measurements and it will still come out well. I also tend to use an exceedingly generous cup of sourdough starter, fed or unfed.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. You don't have to use this order of ingredients, but I find it makes mixing easier. In a small to medium mixing bowl, add the cup of sourdough starter, 1/2 of the flour, sprinkle in the baking powder, salt, butter, and honey, kind of distributing it over the surface. Then put in the rest of the flour.
  3. Mix just until the flour is incorporated. It will not be smooth and it will be stiff.
  4. Using a spoon or scoop, place egg-sized biscuits into the cast iron skillet. The sides of the biscuits should touch. You'll probably get about 9 biscuits or so.
  5. Drizzle the melted butter over the biscuits.
  6. Let rise for at least ten minutes in a warm place. Anywhere from ten to twenty minutes is good. There will just be a slight rise, but enough to "fill in" the spaces in the skillet.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes in 350 degree oven until the tops of the biscuits are brown. We like them brown because it gives them a crunchy crust, but technically, you can take them out when they are only slightly brown to get a more moist, tender biscuit.
Variations

These biscuits can also be made with whole wheat and wheat germ as follows:
Instead of the 1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour, use:
1/2 c. unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat

If you want to add wheat germ, too, put 2 Tbsp of wheat germ into your 1/2 cup measuring cup and then fill it the rest of the way with the whole wheat flour.

The whole wheat and wheat germ combination is actually my favorite way to make these biscuits as the whole wheat goes really well with the honey. In fact, that is the kind of biscuit that is in the picture.

If you want your biscuits to look smoother, you can shape them a bit (not too much as it will melt the bits of butter) and smooth them into egg shapes before putting them in the skillet. I prefer not to mess with them too much and I like the crinkly/crunchy top.

Another variation
You can also add about 1/2 tsp of honey to the melted butter which you drizzle over the biscuits before baking. This gives them extra sweetness.

I made the mistake, once, of baking them far too long. This made them very crunchy, but oddly enough, my husband really liked those as a snack. ha, ha. They were almost like big, round crackers.

So like I said, this recipe is very, VERY forgiving even if you over-bake them.

I imagine you can add just about anything you want to them, as well. Raisins are great and make them more "breakfast-y" and almost like scones. Dried berries are also great.

If you have any left the next day, you can put them in the microwave for up to 30 seconds to make them soft and warm.

There you are: Honeycomb Sourdough Biscuits. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Month of Judgment

It's here!

Month of Judgment  is available as a pre-release on Amazon Kindle for the low price of $0.99. It will go up to $3.99 when it is released on Sep 25, 2014, so be sure to take advantage of the lower price if you're interested.

This is a bit of a departure for me since it is a paranormal suspense/horror, but sometimes you're just compelled to write a particular book. It's not one of those blood-and-gore dripping all over the place so it might best be described as a paranormal suspense.

Blurb
The swamp seems peaceful until two women encounter an ancient mystery and discover they are not entirely alone...


As the Carolina swamp heat cools with the approach of autumn, an ancient evil stirs among the cypress. Drifting through the shadows cast by the twisted trees, it awaits the feckless and unwary. Those who elect to ignore the legends do so at their peril and are rarely seen--alive--again. 

Unaware of the mystery surrounding the swamp, Emily Anderson is desperate for a change. A tragic series of events has left her alone and aching with sorrow over the deaths of her husband, son, and daughter-in-law. Her home no longer feels like the refuge it once was, and the fleeting shadows and ghosts of the family she lost darken the empty rooms and haunt her sleep. When a friend suggests a camping trip, Emily jumps at the chance to get away for a few days and relax. 

Unfortunately, neither woman realizes that November is the wrong time to enter the swamp. Something awaits them, a power beyond imagination that haunts the woods, and unless they can unravel the mystery and escape, they may become just two more names on the list of the missing.

Excerpt

A flicker in my peripheral vision made me straighten, my pulse quickening. A smile stretched my mouth after a heart-stopping, sudden pulse of joy. I rubbed my arms again, skin prickling from a frigid blast of air. My heart raced with anticipation like it had when I raced down the stairs on Christmas morning.

“Alicia?” I bent forward to get to my feet. “Alicia?” My thoughts stuttered and stalled.

I stared into the hallway, wilting. The flash of white had only been a random gleam of light, not a glimpse of Alicia walking by, wearing her favorite white jeans. I rubbed warmth back into my bare arms.

Alicia was dead, too. How could I forget?

We’d never bonded, never really gotten along, but her loss made the house emptier and cold. If nothing else, I missed her lazy sarcasm and the clacking sound of her leather-soled shoes on our wooden floor.

Only fools work and my momma didn’t raise no fool. I could still hear her voice.

I rubbed my palm over my forearm, trying to wipe away my goose bumps as I sagged onto the sofa. My eyes burned from crying and lack of sleep. The enervating weight of apathy pressed closer, and I struggled to push away the too-familiar sensation. I didn’t want to waste another day, staring at nothing, waiting for nothing. I took a deep breath and stood up.

Wood creaked directly overhead, the sound coming from the baby’s room.


I paused and tilted my head, listening. Nothing but silence. I rubbed my tired eyes. The noise had been normal, just one of the regular sounds the house made as it settled under the late fall sunshine.

Or had it been something different?

-----
Thanks and I hope you enjoyed the brief teaser. Have a great week!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Prices

I've been reading a lot of discussions about book pricing lately and like every other person out there, I have an opinion and a mouth, too (a different and perhaps more polite orifice than the one usually referenced in these kinds of statement, ha, ha). My opinion is that, like any other product you'd care to mention, pricing is in a constant state of flux.

So...what do I really think?
How to I decide on a pricing strategy if I independently publish (self-publish) my book?

I should state first that concerns about pricing doesn't show a lack of experience--even veteran authors who decide to self-publish their backlist have to go through the trauma of deciding on prices and periodically reviewing/revising them. It is a very real concern and no one--including publishers--have a really good handle on yet. Even big publishers are playing around with pricing and have different strategies depending upon author name, genre, etc.

For example, one well-known publisher recently released most of Georgette Heyer's books (originally published in the first half of the 20th century), with an introductory price of $2.99. Then the publisher raised the prices, some to almost $9.00. Now, prices vary on those books from $2.99 to almost $9.00, with a few periodically showing up as free.

So you can see that even publishers are experimenting with price.

And to make matters more complicated, there are a lot of readers like myself who absolutely WILL pass up books because of price. I generally will not buy a book above $4.99 at all, unless it is something I require for work (rare) or a reference book. And I don't buy a lot of books above $3.99. I have to really, really want the book at $4.99 to buy it. Those account for maybe 1 book every few months versus several books at $3.99 or less. I simply can't afford to feed my reading habit if I buy books that cost more. That's why I also used to go to used book stores and libraries. And I still look for specific books (e.g. classics like "Rebecca") for free, if I can find them for my electronic library.

However, I follow trends on marketing and what others are pricing their books at in several markets. Here is what I've seen:
Most authors decide on an overall strategy for the types of books they write, something like this:
$.99 for short stories up to 10,000 words
$1.99 for novellas from 10,000 through 50,000 words
$2.99 for novels that range from 50,000 (e.g. a Harlequin-length category romance) through 75,000
$3.99 for long novels that range from 75,000 on up
---Some folks go higher, e.g. $4.99 and up, when their particular genre supports that price or they have a wide audience. A quick survey of other books in a specific genre may provide a clue about the "sweet spot" for independently published or self-published books.

For authors with series, here is what I've seen:
$2.99 For the FIRST book in the series, when no other books are available yet (or $3.99 is popular, too)
$.99 Drop the price of the FIRST book in the series to $.99 when the second book comes out
$2.99 or $3.99 for the second and subsequent books in the series (some go as high as $4.99 before sales drop off, but usually after the series is better established)
--Finally
PERMA-FREE (Oh, my goodness!) You can drop the price of the FIRST book in the series to free when there are three or more books in that series available, as an alternative to $.99. This cycles in/out and authors often adjust this as part of promotional activities. It is also useful to build up reviews as part of promotional activities with the idea that the money will be made on the subsequent books if you have a good "read-through" rate (I made that up as a term to account for people who get the first book and then buy subsequent ones in the series).

Free vs $.99 for the first book in a series swings back and forth as far as effectiveness, so folks tend to manipulate that as necessary. Right now, so many are set to $.99 that the price point is becoming less effective. The pendulum is swinging back to perma-free. That will then work for a few months before it becomes less effective again and prices for the first book in a series will swing back up to $.99.

Or we may see some other changes.

That is certainly a strategy that seems to work for series pricing, but there are some caveats:
1) It works best if the first three books come out with no more than one month between releases. The quicker the other books in the series are released, the better.
2) Read-through and sales/earnings are best if there is a cliffhanger at the end of each book in the series, forcing the reader to pick up the next one. Note that this ticklish. It can backfire if the subsequent books aren't available because it irritates readers. Also, it assumes that you DO wrap up the main story's arc and that the cliff-hanger-ish part is a minor sub-plot or even a the start of a new plot/new story arc. You really have to be careful because a lot of readers totally loathe cliffhangers and books that don't have a "real ending." (I know I dropped Jordan's series because I got tired of long books with no resolutions and a seemingly endless series. I'm not a big fan of cliffhangers and often decide to stop reading after the first book. I don't think I'm completely unique in that.)

So there are a lot of strategies. Also keep in mind that some companies that want your price to end in $.99 so you'll have to take that into consideration. It means $3.99 versus $3.49, for example. And for me, I find that readers like the slightly odd $3.49 because it "feels" cheaper than the more common $3.99 and is a little different, making it look less like one of the herd. A little more thought went into it. A lot of folks now equate $2.99 with self-published and perhaps a lack of skill, although some publishers are now releasing old books (like those Heyer books I mentioned) at that price, which is helping erase that stigma.

That's why, though, many authors are going to $3.99 or even $4.99--it can sometimes make readers believe it is a higher quality product. But it can backfire when you have a reader like me, who honestly looks for bargains AND READS THEM (I don't buy stuff I don't want just because it's free or cheap). I won't buy a book at $4.99 if I have the least concern that I may not like it. But I'm more likely to take a chance on a new author at a lower price.

It is much more difficult if you write books that "stand alone" and are not in a series. Then, using the simpler pricing strategy of basing price on the length of the book may work best. Then you can change the price for various promotions, e.g. free or $.99 for a few days or week to build up reviews and get some momentum going.

Psychological games. Ha, ha.

Many successful authors recommend playing with price until you find the sweet spot where you're selling a nice number and still making a comfortable profit.

Remember: You can always change the price. Nothing is permanent.

One last note: do an informal survey of the books in the genre your book fits within and see what the range is. That also helps. You don't want to be at the upper range of price unless you're already so famous that people will buy your books no matter what they cost. :) Likewise, only use prices in the lowest range for specific purposes, like the first book in a series or a special promotion.

Hope that helps someone. I also hope to hear from readers. What prices make you buy a book? Do you equate price with quality?