Meet Larissa Reinhart


October 14, 2017

Note from Joanna: Once or twice a month, I want to introduce you to my author friends. I hope you enjoy learning about them. I also learn something, even when I’ve known them a long, long time!

Comment on Larissa’s visit and you could win a digital copy of 15 MINUTES. I’ll chose a winner next Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.

Name: Larissa Reinhart

Website: www.larissareinhart.com

Facebook info: Official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RisWrites

Friend Me Here: https://www.facebook.com/larissareinhartwriter

Name of Your Series: Maizie Albright Star Detective (My other series is the Cherry Tucker Mysteries)

One Line That Describes Your Series: A former star of a hit teen detective show, Maizie Albright, returns to Georgia (by judge’s orders) to pursue her dream of becoming a private detective and finds Hollywood has followed her to Georgia.

Name of Most Recent Book: 15 MINUTES (but 16 MILLIMETERS launches 10/17 which is why 15 MINUTES is on sale!)

Buy links: Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

 

  1. What Gave You the Idea For This Series?  I live in Peachtree City, Georgia. Four miles from my house is Senoia, where The Walking Dead film. Six miles in the other direction is Pinewood Studios where major movies (like the Marvel series) are now made. This area is quaint, so movies like Fried Green Tomatoes have been filmed here, but the TV and movie industry has grown like gangbusters in the last five years. It’s all pretty weird for we locals. My friend saw Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones in a restaurant the other night. The most famous person we might’ve hoped to see when I moved here 18 years ago was Alan Jackson, because he’s from nearby Newnan. But I’ve never seen him. I haven’t seen anybody famous!
  2. Which character is most like you? I’d like to say Maizie Albright because she’s optimistic, earnest, and beautiful. She’s also young (26) and I’m not and I have teenagers… So I’m more like Lamar who owns the donut shop below Nash Security Solutions. He’s tired and likes to sit with his feet up on a La-Z-Boy while he listens to Nash and Maizie talk about their case. But Lamar is much wiser than me. And he doesn’t eat donuts, whereas I’d have a hard time controlling myself. But I guess when you own a donut shop, you’d get tired of donuts.
  3. What’s the hardest part of writing? I have the attention of a Jack Russell Terrier (probably why they’re in the books). Getting myself to sit and focus is difficult. Once I do, I’m okay but I tend to bounce around (not literally) before I can get settled back into the story.
  4. What inspires you to keep writing? My readers who ask for more stories. How can I refuse? Also I have constant story ideas popping in my head (part of my Jack Russell qualities). I’ve got to get them down. I’m not sure why but I just have to do it.
  5. What would you say to other would-be writers who have yet to get published? Keep writing and submitting!

Thank you so much for introducing me to your readers, Joanna! It’s such a treat for me, since I’m a fan of yours!
Larissa

P. S. Joanna’s note: Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have shared this…but it made my day! Don’t forget to comment!

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Kiki Lowenstein and the Watermelon Festival, Part IV


September 19, 2017

Part I- Recap: In an attempt to repair their friendship, Kiki and Mert decide to take a road trip. But hurt feelings don’t mend easily, and the two women get off to a rocky road start. http://joannacampbellslan.com/kiki-lowenstein-and-the-watermelon-festival/

Part II – Recap: The sight of the Arch in the rear view window changes their moods for the better, but it’s a long ride. Will the two friends be able to paper over their problems and move on? http://joannacampbellslan.com/kiki-lowenstein-and-the-watermelon-festival-part-ii/

Part III – Recap: After an hour and a half of being awkward with each other, Kiki and Mert stop at a Walmart. Mert buys a lot of staples to give to her friend Corva. Kiki learns that Corva is down on her luck and raising a grandchild. http://joannacampbellslan.com/kiki-lowenstein-and-the-watermelon-festival-part-iii/

We both seemed more at ease when we got back into Mert’s truck after our shopping spree at Walmart. Hoping to build on the good feelings, I asked my friend, “How did you meet Corva?”

“She and I were in foster care together. I guess you could say we bonded. She’s older than I am, so she looked out after me.” Mert paused.

I glanced over and saw her swallowing furiously. Tears had gathered along her lower lashes. Mert doesn’t often get choked up, but she was definitely on the verge of crying. I could hear it in her voice as she continued, “Matter of fact, I don’t think I’d be here today if it wasn’t for Corva. She took a beating that’d been meant for me, and she did it because she knew it would have broken my spirit. I couldn’t have survived it. That whooping nearly killed her, and she’s a tough cookie. Our foster dad, Elmer Dolby, finally manned up and called an ambulance to come and tend to Corva, or she wouldn’t be alive today. See, his wife Alma Gene got her jollies by smacking us with whatever came to hand and then locking us in an old outhouse for days at a time. Corva was bleeding internally after Alma Gene got done with her. Old Elmer went out to the shed to get a tool from his toolbox and he spotted a trail of fresh blood on the grass. He followed it to the old outhouse. Alma Gene had locked it by sticking a two-by-four through the wrought iron door handle. Something made Elmer stop and look around, close like. He realized the blood was actually flowing out from under the walls of the outhouse. His curiosity got the better of him, and he opened the door, and…and…”

She stopped. I opened a bottle of water and handed it to her.

“When he done opened up that door, and Corva tumbled out onto the ground. She was white as a piece of toilet paper and just about as limp. If she hadn’t kept groaning, he wouldn’t have been sure she was alive.”

“But he called 911 and she lived,” I said, trying to find a positive spin.

“She did. They had to remove her spleen and one of her kidneys, but Corva made it.” Mert gulped half the bottle and jammed it between her thighs to keep it steady as she drove. “I wouldn’t have made it. She always says I would have, but I wouldn’t have, and we both know it. I was thinking seriously about tying a rope around my neck and ending it all. Another beating would have made hanging myself like the easy way out, for sure.”

“Wow. That’s some story.”

“Yeah, it is. Them groceries and all that stuff I bought? It ain’t nothing compared to what I owe her.”

“I know what it feels like to owe somebody,” I said, and I reached over and grabbed Mert’s hand on the steering wheel.

She gave my fingers a quick squeeze, let them go, and sent me a weak smile. “So do I.”

Using the back of her hand, she wiped her nose. “Okay, now. Let me tell you a little bit about Vincennes.”

~To Be Continued~

Part V

Mert tells Kiki about Vincennes, and especially about the watermelon festival. Of course, a visit with Corva is in order, and Mert tells Kiki what to expect.

 

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Meet Maria Grazia Swan–and win one of her books!


September 16, 2017

Note: Once a month, I’ll introduce you to one of my author friends, and we’ll give away one digital copy of the author’s books. This month’s guest is Maria Grazia Swan.

Website: www.mariagraziaswan.com

Facebook info: https://www.facebook.com/MariaGraziaSwan/

Name of your series: Mina’s Adventures

One line that describes your series:

Name of most recent book: Sniffing Out Murder  — and we’re giving away one copy to a lucky commenter. You have until Monday, Sept. 18 to comment.

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0741Q35CH?ref_=pe_870760_118561140

  1. What gave you the idea for this series? My divorce. It was a long and messy divorce. I couldn’t sleep and was taking Creative Writing at Saddleback College, (O.C, California) so I made good use of my sleepless nights and the anger brewing inside. I cannot describe the satisfaction of killing off on paper a few of the real life main culprits.
  2. Which character is most like you? Mina a little. Paola a lot. I could have been a Mina, but I was born too early. Different lifestyle.
  3. What’s the hardest part of writing? In my case is the language. At time I’m talking Italian in my head. Other times I know the word, but not sure about the spelling.
  4. What inspires you to keep writing? It’s in my blood. I won my first literary award at the age of fourteen. The old fourteen, before computers, cell phones and social media. Heck, we didn’t even had television until I was seventeen. And when I write I forget all my troubles. And in the morning, no hangover.
  5. What would you say to other would-be writers who have yet to get published? Never give up. Slow and steady will get you there.
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Excerpt from PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH


August 23, 2017

Get an enhanced version of PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH for only 99 cents on 8/23/2017 (Wed.) and 8/24/2017 (Thurs.) only!  https://www.amazon.com/Paper-Scissors-Death-Lowenstein-M…/…/

And here’s a short version: http://bit.ly/PSDKL1  Why not “gift” a copy to a friend? Don’t you know someone who could use a little Kiki in her life?

You like paper? We’ve got paper for you! Go to https://www.createspace.com/6922517  Use this code: H2WRCAFM and get $3 off

EXCERPT FROM PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH

by Joanna Campbell Slan

Author’s Note: Kiki and her daughter Anya were at an event to teach kids how to scrapbook when a policeman arrives and asks Kiki to come with him to the police station. When she arrives, she’s greeted by this horrifying news.

“My husband is dead? Are you sure? Sure it’s George? I mean, you could have made a mistake. Right?” I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard.

Detective Chad Detweiler of the St. Louis County Police Department shook his head solemnly. “No, Mrs. Lowenstein. I’m sorry. There’s no mistake. A housekeeper found his body in a room at the Regal Chalet. We’re sure it is — was — your husband. His clothes were hanging over a chair, and his wallet was in his pants pocket.”

I swallowed hard. I’d managed to keep calm on the ride to the police station. I kept reassuring my daughter there must have been a misunderstanding. Now I felt like I was coming apart at the seams. I couldn’t focus. I kept repeating, “Dead? My husband is dead? There must be some mistake.”

“I sincerely doubt it.”

The room swam and turned flips. I tried to process what the detective told me. In my struggle, I focused on the trivial. It seemed more manageable than the big picture. “I, uh, don’t understand. Why were his clothes over a chair? You mean he … he didn’t have them on? Did he … uh … have on any of his clothes?”

The detective shook his head, his eyes never leaving my face. He seemed to be taking my measure, sizing me up.

The large mirror on the adjacent wall of the interview room bounced my image back to me. My hair was always curly, but today it had turned into ringlets. My skin looked blotchy from the cold. And I’d chewed my lips until I could taste the blood in my mouth.

I took tiny sips from the glass of water the detective had offered and swallowed repeatedly to dislodge the lump in my throat. I tried to focus on a far-off object, as I blinked back tears. There were so many questions. Part of me didn’t want to ask, didn’t want to know. But a voice inside reasoned it was better to hear the worst of it here, from an impartial officer of the law, than in a public place from a “friend.” I thought about the mothers I’d left at the scrapbook store and shuddered.

Detweiler sat across from me patiently, silently.

Obviously, someone had made a mistake. That was all there was to it. This man couldn’t be talking about George. Not my George.

“How can you be so sure? I mean … don’t you need someone to identify the body? You probably just think it’s George. As soon as he answers my call, we’ll get this straightened out.” I reached for my cell phone and punched in his number one more time.

The phone rang and rang.

Suddenly, my whole body grew heavy, and I was incredibly tired. All I wanted was to go home and sleep for a million years.

Maybe this had all been a bad dream.

Detweiler sighed. “We got hold of your husband’s business partner, Mr. Ballard. I was there when he made the ID. If you’d like to see the body …”

I shook my head vehemently.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Lowenstein.” He didn’t press the issue. He could tell I was queasy. Or maybe he worried I’d make a scene.

Poor Bill. A part of me felt guilty that I hadn’t been the one to take on this intimate and final task of marital life. It seemed, in some way, the least I could have done for George. And Bill had done it for him. For me. For us. It seemed wrong. It felt like one more failure. I put a hand to my stomach and pressed hard to control the revolt within.

A strand of chestnut hair fell over Detweiler’s eyebrow, a dark accent mark to his unwavering gaze. “There’ll have to be an autopsy. The law requires one in these circumstances.” Detweiler took a sip of his coffee and set the mug down gently on the battered Formica tabletop. A circle of brown indicated the depleted level of the liquid. It reminded me of George’s wedding ring.

I fingered my own gold band. I was trying desperately to take in what the detective was saying. George. Was. Dead. What was I going to tell Sheila, my mother-in-law?

“Does George’s mother know?”

I did not want to be the one to tell Sheila her son was dead.

“Mr. Lowenstein’s mother has been notified.” The detective cleared his throat. “Evidently our police chief is an old friend.”

Thank God, I thought. She didn’t have to hear the news from a stranger.

“A woman at your house,” he turned to a page in his steno pad, “Mert Chambers told us where to find you.”

A thought flittered across the tickertape of my mind and fell on the floor in a pile of other ideas. How could we have Thanksgiving? George always carved the turkey. And what about Hanukkah? He loved shopping for his daughter. How would Anya learn about her Jewish heritage? Who would teach her golf? Take her to Cardinal baseball games? Help her cheer on the Rams on Monday Night Football?

An endless stream of problems presented themselves.

“You brought us here? Rather than talking to me at home? Why?”

“We have a few questions.”

I was afraid to guess what that might mean. Time stood still. I was at the top of the roller coaster looking down, suspended, waiting.

In my peripheral vision, I saw Detweiler rub his mouth. He was struggling, trying to decide what to say. I did not look up. I was bracing myself for what was to come.

But I got it wrong.

“Mrs. Lowenstein, did your husband’s partner tell you money was missing from the business?”

My head snapped up. “What?” Stars danced in my field of vision.

Saliva flooded my mouth. I struggled not to bolt from my seat. I looked around desperately for the nearest trash can. Any second now, I’d heave my guts all over the floor. Where was the ladies’ restroom? I swallowed hard.

“Money? Missing? How much?”

“A half a million dollars.”

I jumped up and ran, praying I’d make it to the john.

~Continue~

Remember: The 99 cent price is good for two days only, Aug. 23 (Wed.) and Aug. 24 (Thurs.) 

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Kiki Lowenstein and the Watermelon Festival, Part III


August 23, 2017

Part II – Recap: In an attempt to repair their friendship, Kiki and Mert decide to take a road trip. But hurt feelings don’t mend easily, and the two women get off to a rocky road start. The sight of the Arch in the rearview window changes their moods for the better, but it’s a long ride. Will the two friends be able to paper over their problems and move on?

Instead of taking Highway 64, we took Route 50, the back roads, to Vincennes. When we got to Carlyle, Illinois, we both needed a potty break. As we pulled into town, the number of cars towing boats surprised me. Then I saw a sign for Carlyle’s beaches.

“How could that be?” I wondered out loud.

“It’s Lake Carlyle they’re talking about. It’s Illinois’ largest man-make lake. A spillover from the Kaskaskia River,” Mert explained. “Makes it a prime spot for bald eagles to nest. Keep your eyes on the trees. Look for a white baseball up there. That’s the eagle’s white head.”

I forget sometimes how educated she is and how much she knows about the world. When you’re friends a long time, details fade. Maybe this trip was exactly what we needed to get back to admiring each other. I hoped so.

Walmart’s iconic blue sign beckoned and soon we were inside, grabbing carts. Cruising up and down the aisles brought back another dose of harmony. I tarried in the craft section, seeing what yarns and scrapbook papers were available. Mert disappeared. I thought nothing of that. After all, we weren’t joined at the hip. I found the restroom at the back of the store, then I wandered around, found socks on sale, and pushed my cart toward the food section. A bottle of Ménage À Trois wine was on my list, as was a variety of cheeses, crackers, grapes, carrots, hummus, GrapeNuts, cashews, almonds, and a bag of trail mix. By the time I finished, I had enough food to feed an Artic expedition. Next I went to the bathing suits. There I found a half-price suit in a style that I hoped would be flattering. I also admired the large, bright flowers on a white background. With any luck, I wouldn’t look like a whale who had rolled in wallpaper.

I still didn’t see Mert, but I spotted the checkout lanes and tooled over toward them. The clerk solemnly rang up the goods, never smiling once, no matter how cheerful I was or how much I tried to engage her in conversation. The purple streaks in her hair brought out the red rims of her eyes. Probably the poor child hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before. I played my “Benefit of the Doubt” game, offering her the benefit of the doubt and conjuring up all sorts of reasons she was in a grumpy mood. About the time I handed over my credit card, Mert guided her cart up to the conveyor belt.

I did a double-take. Her cart was filled to overflowing with diapers, shampoo, baby toys, baby food, canned goods, cereal, popcorn, dried milk, baby powder, deodorant, kitchen cleansers, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and three books for babies. My mouth probably dropped open, but I quickly recovered and helped her unload her haul onto the moving belt. The total on the purchase astonished me. Mert didn’t seem fazed. She handed over her credit card and went to work tying the tops of plastic bags shut to prevent spillage. Without commenting, I helped the clerk load the filled bags back into Mert’s cart.

Blinking away the bright sun, we strolled outside, pushing our carts to her truck. I’d forgotten she had a storage deck that locked. Once opened, there was plenty of room for all our purchases. Mert even set my perishables and hers inside a small cooler that held ice. At that point, I retrieved my small overnight bag. “Can I put this in the locker?” I asked. “I’d like to get it out from under my feet.”

“Sure.”

Once finished, we climbed back into the cab of the truck. Mert pointed us toward a gas station. “There’s sandwiches here, or we can go through Mickey D’s drive-up.”

Inside the gas station was a cooler stocked with food. I found an egg salad on whole wheat that looked delicious. Mert got a roast beef with Swiss cheese. We both grabbed a bag of Sunchips and bottles of water. Back on the road again, we munched happily, although my curiosity finally got the better of me. “Why all the supplies? You certainly bought a lot of stuff.”

“Corva’s fallen on hard times. She’s taking care of her grandbaby, Jillian, who ain’t but six months old. Since she lives on social security, making ends meet is hard. Iff’n it weren’t for government assistance with her healthcare, she’d have to do without her meds.”

My heart ached. “Poor woman. That’s very kind of you to help her out.”

“I got everything in the world going for me. My son’s in school. My daughter is married. I got a good paying job. Corva was married to the world’s biggest butthole. He was a farmer who owned most of the acreage you see as we drive by. However, he liked to load up his Harvestore with grain and not sell it. That’s common among farmers, you know? They get sorta personally attached to the grain. Clint did. Corva nagged and nagged him to sell, but he kept passing up opportunities. Then the market had a downturn. Clint lost a ton of money. He had a heart attack while he was out in the field. When he died, Corva found out he owed money everywhere. She lost the farm, which meant she lost her house and car. She’s been squeaking by ever since.”

I knew what it felt like to worry about money. I also knew how it felt to learn your husband hadn’t been honest with you about your finances.

“That’s awful,” I said.

“Yup. Then their daughter got addicted to painkillers. Didn’t quit when she was pregnant. Had the baby. And guess who’s left to pick up all the pieces? Corva.”

~To Be Continued ~

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