Tag Archives: Carolyn Haines

A day in the life of Frangelica “Sister” McFee by Carolyn Haines

My days are always extraordinarily busy and filled with exciting events and people, smart and beautiful people not dullards and ugly people. As a very famous author, I’m always in demand. Before we go any further, I want to be sure you’re pronouncing my name correctly. No one in Zinnia calls me Frangelica. They call me Sista. Not Sister. Sis-ta! Sis-ta McFee.

My daddy is running for the U.S. Senate seat from Mississippi and he’s going to win big. People adore him. He’s almost as popular as I am, and even though he’s married to that gold-digger Susan Simpson McFee—who has gotten herself pregnant just to be sure she gets a share of the McFee fortune—he’s going to make the best senator ever. I hope he leaves Susan in Memphis to raise her spawn of Satan child. My daddy will be so much more effective if she isn’t hanging on his coattails.

I told you I was a wealthy novelist. I write fiery romances that capture the hearts and minds of millions of women. I’m really a household name. More of a brand really. Say my name to any woman who’s ever read a romance, and she’ll tell you how wonderful I am. A lot of writers would be satisfied to have cornered the romance market and become a beloved figure of fiction, but I know I have so much more to give my public. I’ve recently published a memoir about my family.

I’m a child of tragedy. Which makes it even more remarkable that I’ve accomplished all I have. Yes, it’s true that I had the best private schools and more money than Midas could spend, but I have suffered. I’ve suffered bigly. My daddy loves me but sometimes he forgets I even exist. My mother and brother, Daryl, mostly called Son, died in a tragic automobile accident several years ago. It was my brother’s fault. He was high and drove off into the Sunflower River during a terrible flood. They both died, but Son’s body was never found. Which at least saved us the cost of a funeral. That may sound bitter to you, but think about it. My mother could never see Son for what he was—a common addict. He was always the golden child, the star athlete, the business genius. I was just a plump, dumpy girl, emphasis on the gender part. The McFee family has great pride in the male children and heirs, but not so much with the girls.

Strange as it may seem, I’m going to be the only McFee heir now. There are no males, unless that contortionist Susan Simpson McFee shoots out a male brat. But it will be too late by then. I’ll already have taken control of Great-Grandfather Jamie’s trust. And it will all be mine. The Delta mansion, the stocks, the bonds, the land, the utilities—the whole she-bang.

And if that’s not enough, they’ll be filming the movie based on my tell-all book about my family. The movie crew is already in town scouting for locations. It’s going to be wonderful. Really wonderful. And I can tell the whole world how worthless Son was and how I have finally become the real winner in my family. Except for Daddy, of course. He’s going to be a U.S. Senator. He’ll have power and I’ll have money. What a combo!

The only flies in the ointment are Stinky Tinkie Richmond and her sidekick, that awful Sarah Booth Delaney. They think they’re private investigators or some such idiocy. And they are everywhere I turn. They’re at my home, they’re in town, they’re stuffing their faces at the local café. They are intolerable, and Stinky Tinkie had better watch out or I’ll tell all about her college days. You know, it’s really special to come home and realize how far superior I am to all of the people I grew up with. They just can’t hold a candle to me. I shine like an LED super lantern to their Triple A battery light.

But enough about them and back to me, a far more worthy subject. When I inherit everything, I’m going to write a new series of young adult fantasy books. I have the perfect idea. I just have to get this movie behind me and make sure my daddy gets his heart’s desire and is elected. Maybe I’ll buy my own Hollywood studio and make movies from all of my books. Now that would be a great cause. The world needs more romance and adventure, and I’m just the woman to give it to them.

So much to do; so little time. I’m off to tackle the winds of war. Be sure and learn all about me in Sticks and Bones. I really am worth your time.

You can read more about Sis-ta McFee in Sticks and Bones, the 17th book in the “Sarah Booth Delaney” mystery series.

Private investigator Sarah Booth Delaney and her friends are celebrating New Year’s Eve at the party of the year, a smashing Winter Garden party at the Prince Albert Hotel. It’s a dazzling success…until Frangelica “Sister” McFee walks through the door. Sarah Booth knew Sister in college, before Sister became a bestselling author and moved to New York, and fame and fortune don’t seem to have tempered her arrogance and cruelty.

Sister’s latest book is a memoir about the death of her mother and brother many years ago. Now, a film about the book is in the works, and a film crew has descended upon Zinnia, Mississippi, to tell the complete tale. The film crew soon realizes there may be more to the story than meets the eye―or is told in Sister’s memoir―and they hire Sarah Booth to discover the absolute truth about those deaths so many years ago. But Sarah Booth quickly realizes that someone is desperate to keep the truth hidden and will go to any lengths necessary to protect a long-held secret.

Carolyn Haines’s next Sarah Booth Delaney novel, Sticks and Bones, is sure to delight series fans and newcomers alike.

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mysteries. She is the recipient of both the Harper Lee Distinguished Writing Award and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Semmes, Alabama on a farm with more dogs, cats, and horses than she can possibly keep track of.

Connect with Carolyn at carolynhaines.com, on Twitter, on Instagram, on her Amazon Author page, on BookBub, and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Halloween with Mystery Characters by LynDee Walker

midnight-mysteriesHalloween ranks among favorite holidays for many a mystery reader—so we gathered some of our favorite characters from the anthology MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES around the fire pit tonight to share tales of their favorite Halloweens, past and present. Grab a mug of cocoa or cider and pull up an adirondack chair—we’ll start with our favorite talkative ghost. . .

Marmaduke Dodsworth (It Takes a Ghost/Karen Cantwell): My favorite Halloween story, you say? Well, yes, that is a most fascinating question to ask a ghost, now isn’t it? First, let me introduce myself: My name is Marmaduke Dodsworth. I was born in Dartford, England in the year eighteen hundred and eighty-four. I lived a mostly content life until 1915 when I traveled to the United States of America where I was struck by a car and killed. I would not say it was a good death, but oh well, as you Americans say. One Halloween, not so long ago, I joined my living friend, Sophie on a haunted house tour. There, I met a fellow spirit by the name of Myrtle May. Myrtle tutored me in the fine art of moving objects through space. Some may consider that this is a feat which comes easily to ghosts, but I assure you, this is not the case. Myrtle, ah, fair Myrtle. She had a gift and she taught me well. In no time at all she had me levitating tea pots, tea cups, spoons, and even a lamp. Why, you should have seen the faces on the tour patrons! Wide eyes, fallen jaws. We had them trembling in their boots! Yes, it was a fine Halloween indeed.

* * * * * * * *

Cherry Tucker (Vigilante Vignette/Larissa Reinhart): My favorite Halloween memories are not from childhood since I was the sole kid wearing a handmade costume. Not that my third grade Chiquita Banana suit wasn’t brilliant—although it did cause a bit of a mess—but you have to understand when I was growing up, Pinterest didn’t exist so homemade costumes were not in vogue.

But even after Shawna Branson played Monkey in the Middle with my bananas (literally), I grew to love making costumes. And now handmade costumes are in vogue. I even get paid for them. When you’re an artist, you hustle for any kind of job.

My particular favorite was a recent Halloween party at Red’s County Line Tap. Painted a Renaissance landscape backdrop in ochres and siennas, cut a big hole in the canvas, inserted my head, and went as the Mona Lisa. Luke wore a dusty pair of Wranglers, boots, and a western shirt. In the crowded bar, Luke’s cowboy had found my Mona Lisa smile and pulled me into the gents’ bathroom before our friends and family could notice. We’re the Romeo and Juliet of Halo, if you didn’t know.

Actually more like Hatfields and McCoys.

Before we could talk, my brother-in-law Nik had kicked in the bathroom door.

His kick alerted my brother, Cody. Who, misinterpreting our bathroom cluster, threatened to kill Luke.

Which led to my sister, Casey, pitching a fit for all to hear.

And then Red booted us all from the party.

But I’ve had worse happen. I just may reprise that Mona Lisa costume yet.

* * * * * * * *

Jackson Bell (Salad Days, Halloween Nights/Eleanor Cawood Jones): I don’t talk about it much, but a big part of the reason I love dressing up for Halloween as an adult is because there were a couple of years as a kid when I didn’t get to put on a costume or even enjoy any candy. My foster parents were good to me, but strict, and Halloween wasn’t on their radar.

So when I became Chef Jackson Bell, opened my own restaurant, and Halloween rolled around, I couldn’t wait to decorate, dress up, and throw a party for new customers and their kids on Halloween eve. It started small, but now we sell out every year. We carve pumpkins, admire costumes, eat treats and pumpkin pie, and laugh a lot.

My favorite Halloween was five years ago, when I first invited all the kids in foster care in our little city to come to their own party at the restaurant. It’s an annual event now. We provide costumes and masks, and the kids trick or treat at the tables and in the kitchen, enjoy Halloween lunch, and take home a bag of treats and a little pumpkin apiece. I love it!

* * * * * * * *

Nichelle Clarke (Frightening Features/LynDee Walker): I haven’t had much luck with Halloween the past couple of years—my late Octobers seem to be stuck in a “recovering from a life-threatening injury” rut that leaves me parked on the sofa with a bag of Oreos and Anderson Cooper on my TV. But sometimes, that’s not as bad as it sounds.

I’ve always loved this holiday—costumes and spooky stories are such fun, and my mom had the only “Halloween Tree” in our neighborhood when I was a kid (we got an old Christmas tree from Goodwill and spray-painted it black. If only we’d decided to sell them, we’d be holiday millionaires today.) These days, I have a teeny one that sits on the table behind the sofa, and this year, my boyfriend (still pinching myself a little on that one) camped out to play nurse/entertainment director, and it turns out he’s pretty good at it. He even dug out my spooky light up witch and the “Munchies for Monsters” candy bowl, slicked his dark hair back and popped in some vampire teeth for the trick or treaters. And, when he wasn’t manning the door, he gave a wicked foot massage. It may just be my favorite Halloween yet, healing surgical wound and all.

* * * * * * * *

The Black Cat (Weeping Moon/Maria Grazia Swan): Halloween is a canine conspiracy. The word Halloween is a dead giveaway. Try saying it slow and with a high pitch. . .get it? It’s the sound of a dog howling. . .

Ghosts, witches and goblins is what makes the day fun they say. Ah! Is what they aren’t mentioning that matters. Black cats. . .yes, black cats.

Every witch has a black cat. I’m not saying that Lella, my human personal assistant, is a witch, although there are days—but in general she pays attention to my needs and I heard her say a firm no to some neighbor kid who wanted to ‘borrow’ me, Flash, for Halloween.

Borrow. Is that even legal? And tonight is Halloween. I get to sit and watch the parade of loud kids wearing silly costumes that will be obsolete in the morning. And what for? So they can go door to door to beg for cheap candies? Take the costume money and buy your own candies I say. So everyone would stay home and my human could rub my belly instead of wasting time opening and closing the front door.

* * * * * * * *

Samantha Sweet (Spellbound Sweets/Connie Shelton): Prior to one very special Halloween, Samantha Sweet was a 50-something woman who broke into houses for a living. Covering the bills was a stretch and she baked pastries at home to fill in the gaps. Early one autumn, she encountered a dead body in one of her break-in houses, clashed with the very handsome deputy sheriff, and was handed a magical artifact. Those three events set her life on a new course and led to the first mystery she ever solved.

Halloween will always hold a special place in Samantha’s heart because October was the month in which she finally realized her dream of opening her own pastry shop, Sweet’s Sweets, and Halloween was the first crazy-busy holiday for her new business. Each year, as autumn rolls around, the witches come out of the woodwork and when costumed kids stop by Sweet’s Sweets for decorated cookies, Sam readies for the holiday with her best baked goodies of the season.

* * * * * * * *

The Kitchen Witch (No Time to Witch/Morgana Best): “You’re kidding me, right?” I asked.

Thyme, my closest friend, shook her head. “Every Halloween, an evil demon, repelled only by pumpkins, manifests the very worst fears of the townspeople.”

I wasn’t sure if she was pranking me. “Worst fears, like snakes, spiders, being buried alive, getting peanut butter stuck on the roof of your mouth?”

“All that, and more.”

I disabled the smoke alarm and threw the burned remains of my latest attempt at baking into the sink in one fluid motion. “Mine is that my cupcakes make someone spontaneously combust.”

“I can understand that. Anyway, last year, a man forgot to place a pumpkin, and he. . .” Thyme paused to wipe a tear from her eye. “Amelia, do you have a pumpkin outside your house?”

“No!” I exclaimed, as I heard a knock at the door. “Be right back.” I opened the door, using one of my charred cupcakes as a doorstop.

The hideous demon standing there struck terror into my very soul. As he stretched out a gnarled black hand to my throat, I threw my cupcake at him. He dissolved into flames.

Thyme gasped behind me. “How did you kill the demon?”

I shrugged. “It was a piece of cake.”

You can catch up with these characters plus other favorites in the limited-edition anthology MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES, which includes all-new stories by Ritter Ames, Carolyn Haines, LynDee Walker, Larissa Reinhart, Karen Cantwell, Maria Grazia Swan, Morgana Best, Connie Shelton, and Eleanor Cawood Jones. Tell us about your favorite Halloween below, and you could win one of two kindle copies! The giveaway ends November 6, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

Thanks so much for having us today, Dru!

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the life of Raissa James by Carolyn Haines

The Book of BelovedA Woman Of Words

Before World War I, my life stretched before me like the neat and orderly rows of marigolds in my neighbor’s garden. I’d married the man I loved, a young lawyer. We’d rented the perfect cottage in Savannah, Georgia, a city filled with grace and beauty. The pattern of my days made sense. I woke up in my husband’s arms. I cooked breakfast and sent him to his office with a smile. I maintained our home and cooked and cleaned and met him at the door with a kiss. In the evenings, we sat on the porch or before a fire, reading our books, talking, as close as we could get to one another. I’d found my safe harbor, the life I loved, the man who led me into marriage with humor and strength.

And then the war came and everything changed.

When Alex was killed on a European battlefield—a hero who saved the lives of his fellow soldiers–I clung to the new routine I’d developed in his absence. I’d become a schoolteacher. English literature and grammar, at the local high school. Stunned by my husband’s death, I continued with the solitary life I’d built, and had thought was only temporary. Never had I anticipated I would live without Alex.

When my Uncle Brett Airlie invited me to spend the summer on his Mobile, Alabama, estate, Caoin House, I almost declined. He’d planned a weekend party in my honor, and the thought of staying in Savannah alone with no students to teach for the summer finally convinced me to board the train to Mobile. I was prone to depression when I was alone.

My uncle’s estate is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Acres and acres of pecan groves, gardens, live oak trees, forests, and swamps. Coain House is the crown—a vast house with porches, balconies, and a gracious charm that epitomizes the Southern way of life.

Uncle Brett is an inventor—and a very social man. He loves a good party, dancing, drinking (even though it’s illegal), and spending time with friends. He’s a bachelor, but he has a lovely friend, Isabel. She’s smart, kind, and social, a perfect companion for his parties and occasional mischief. Uncle Brett is after me to stay at Caoin House, permanently. He’s a man with modern views, and he supports my ambition to become a writer of ghost stories. I want to be the female M.R. James or Sheridan Le Fanu or Henry James. That’s my secret ambition, one I’m almost afraid o speak aloud.

Some people think that writing is not a profession for a woman. Especially not stories of ghosts and ghouls and the dead. That terrain is the fertile ground of Mr. Poe and other men. While I love their stories, I believe I, too, can spin a tale of mystery with a bit of a chill. I want to try, and Uncle Brett encourages me. I’m proud to say my uncle is a modern man, one who believes a woman deserves the vote and the right to own property and determine her own fate. He is not averse to the current fashions and finds the flapper to be a “charming invention.” As I said earlier, he loves inventions. Most of his have been applied to powering steamboats.

As much as I love staying at Caoin House, there is something amiss her. My uncle sees the spirit of a beautiful woman. It must be none other than Eva Whitehead, the first mistress of Caoin House.

And late at night, the ghostly image of a handsome Confederate cavalry officer wanders the oak grove in front of Caoin House. He wants something from me, and I’m almost afraid to find out what.

If I’m to be a writer, I need to determine what these restless spirits want. That’s my mission at Caoin House. I want to explore the spirit world by whatever means possible, including a visit with the famous medium, Madam Petalungro, in New Orleans.

Perhaps I’ll stay the summer in Mobile with Uncle Brett. Maybe longer. And while I’m here, maybe my heart will start the long process of letting go of Alex.

Maybe if I can put the ghosts of Caoin House to rest, I can help my own ghosts settle into the long sleep of the grave.

The Book Of Beloved is the first book in the Pluto’s Snitch mystery series, published by Thomas and Mercer, August 2016.

Murder, Mystery, Ghosts And All That Jazz

As a young woman widowed by World War I, Raissa James is no stranger to ghosts. But when an invitation arrives from Caoin House, her uncle’s estate in Mobile, Alabama, she’s finally ready to cast off the shadows of her past. And what better way to do so than with a grand party in her honor? An aspiring authoress, Raissa’s eager to soak up more of life—and immerse herself in the dark history that haunts the estate.

But the revelries come to an abrupt end when one of her uncle’s guests takes a deadly plunge. And when a ghost from the property’s past, a Confederate soldier, reveals himself to Raissa, she’s more determined than ever to get to the heart of the mysterious deaths that plague Caoin House. Enlisting the help of Reginald Proctor, a self-proclaimed medium, she holds a séance to shed light on old secrets. But she discovers that some secrets, even those long dead, still have a startling hold on the living…

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
USA TODAY bestselling author Carolyn Haines is the author of over 70 books. The Book Of Beloved is the first book in a new series published by Thomas & Mercer. She is also the author of the popular Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series. Haines is the founder of Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a 501c3 animal rescue. Learn more about her books and animals at www.carolynhaines.com and sign up for her newsletter. We invite you to follow the author on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.