Murder at the Breakers–Excerpt and Contest

Note: My friend Alyssa Maxwell has a new mystery, Murder at the Breakers. Thanks to her generosity we have an except below–and one lucky person will win an autographed copy.
Enjoy ~
Your friend, Joanna
approached. At twenty minutes to twelve, liveried footmen and hired waiters
began moving like a silent army through the Great Hall, wielding trays filled
with glasses of Uncle Cornelius’s finest champagne. In the confusion, I lost
sight of Neily. I spotted Grace’s rich, bejeweled coif across the room, but
only briefly. Then she, too, disappeared from view, though she might merely
have been obscured by the crowd. If the two were up to something, Aunt Alice
would have to catch them at it herself. I had more pressing concerns.

Alice herself fueled my unease when she appeared at my shoulder. “We’re nearly
ready to toast Gertrude and I can’t find Cornelius anywhere. Did you see which
way he went?”

no. I’d been so concerned with Neily, Reggie, and Katie, I’d let Uncle
Cornelius slip away. With less than twenty minutes now before midnight, surely
he’d return any moment. But if he didn’t . . .

might just then be making his way up one of the service staircases. Should I
try to warn him that Uncle Cornelius was nowhere to be found? But how could I
do that when I had no idea which room marked Brady’s destination? I thought
back to what he’d told me that morning. He wished to return something he’d
taken . . . borrowed . . . stolen . . . 
something to do with railroad business. Then it had to have come from
either of two places: Uncle Cornelius’s office, or his bedroom, both on the
second floor.

might have gone running up the grand staircase to search for Brady, but the
second-floor rooms all opened onto a gallery that looked down over the Great
Hall. I couldn’t risk being seen and followed, especially by a family member.

Alice gave me the perfect excuse to leave the Great Hall and devise a plan.
“Emmaline, be an angel and check the billiard room. Tell that husband of mine
if he doesn’t come at once he’ll spoil Gertrude’s night.”

set off at nearly a run, my haste raising numerous eyebrows. Several men
occupied the billiard room, but Uncle Cornelius wasn’t one of them. Instead of
seeking him elsewhere on the first floor, I slipped quickly out through the
double doors onto the rear piazza and then down the steps onto the lawn. The
day’s rain had left the grass sodden, and moisture instantly soaked through my
embroidered dancing slippers. They’d be ruined, but I hadn’t time to lament the
fact. Toes squelching, I circled the side of the house, looking up as I neared
the front. The second story was dark except . . . there! A beam of light passed
across the windows of Uncle Cornelius’s bedroom. Brady must be inside.

was about to hoist my skirts, scamper around to the front door, steal inside
and up the service stairs when the light suddenly went out. I waited, staring
into the darkness, my ears pricked. “Brady,” I whispered

Honey, You'll Never Guess What Rolled Up in the Surf

By Joanna Campbell Slan,


is a giant bug light for crazy people.” ~ Phyllis Smallman, Sleuthfest 2014

no surprise to any author living in Florida that some of the craziest stories
we can write are actually inspired by true events in our sunshine state. Join
us in exploring a different side of Florida than the travel bureau promotes
with our first Blog Hop sponsored by Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of
America. Read on, click the links below to read another member’s view of crazy
Florida, comment, share your favorite stories, and enter the contest to win a
Kindle Paperwhite.

When people learn that I write mysteries, they ask, “Where do you get your ideas?”

You never know what will wash up in the surf.

My answer is, “They roll up in the surf.”

When I first moved to Florida, I walked the beach for seashells. Some days I found a lot. Some days, not so much. But quickly the shells became secondary to the other wonderful, weird, and wacky items that have made their way to the shore.
I have found:

1. Toothbrushes — By the handful. In fact, I’m convinced that dentists must hold conventions weekly where they toss toothbrushes over the sides of boats. How else can you explain the plethora of toothbrushes. I mean, these are a daily find!

2. A hard hat — In bright orange. I wondered if the wearer fell overboard, or if he simply got tired of wearing a plastic helmet in the sun. (I only found one of these, but I did admire it for weeks.)

3. Syringes — With needles. (This convinced me not to go barefoot in the sand. I’m especially careful of piles of Sargasso, the seaweed that gives the beach its distinctive odor. You never know what’s inside those weeds.)

4. Vials of drugs — This particular tube held insulin, but other beachcombers have found cocaine. Or so the police have told me.

5. Shoes — But never a pair. And never Jimmy Choos. Or Christian Louboutins. Sigh. Still, a girl can dream.

6. Fishnets — Not stockings, but the stuff that gets wrapped around the necks of turtles and seabirds. These I collect and take home to put in the garbage. I also pick up plastic bags. Turtles swallow these, thinking they are eating jellyfish. The bags fill their stomachs, causing the sea turtles to starve to death.

7. A boat full of marijuana — One-point-seven million dollars worth to be exact. The smugglers set sail at eleven p.m. from Bermuda. They didn’t account for how choppy the sea was, so they overturned on the beach right off my backyard. I woke up to a swarm of helicopters and DEA agents. Then came the media trucks and reporters.

I have not found a raft, but my neighbor did. Imagine the desperation that might drive someone to hop on a bunch of branches roped together and set sail for a distant shore. Nor have I found gold, but another neighbor discovered a cannon full of gold coins.

There’s so much to love about Florida. And if you are a mystery writer, you don’t need to go looking for ideas. They’ll wash up in the surf.


Be sure to enter our giveaway
for a Kindle Paperwhite.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase is necessary. You
must be at least 18 years old to enter. By submitting your entry, you agree to
be entered into the participating authors’ email newsletter list. Your
information will not be shared with anyone else, and you may unsubscribe at any
time. Winner will be notified by email. Authors are not responsible for
transmission failures, computer glitches or lost, late, damaged or returned
email. Winner agrees for their name to be used in conjunction with the contest
on FMWA and authors’ social media sites. U.S. Residents only due to postage


 Check out the posts by these other Florida writers–and enter to win the Kindle Paperwhite:

Victoria Allman, Gator Bites,

Miriam Auerbach, Bonkers in Boca,

Gregg E. Brickman, Crazy South Florida

Giveaway–A Miniature Easter Egg

Yes, this adorable Easter Egg is OOAK (One of a Kind), and I made it myself so it’s totally imperfect! The outside is a luscious spring green, trimmed with gold lace. Inside as you can see, there’s a vintage scene of Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny.

I’ll tell you how I made it in another post! Can you say, “tutorial”? Suffice it to say, I tried several methods and most of them were abject failures.

Starting tomorrow (3/19/2014) you can enter to win. The contest will run for one week. To enter, visit my Facebook page at  Under the large picture of me with a Diet Dr Pepper, you’ll see a blue box labeled GIVEAWAY. Click on that box and follow the instructions.

Or you can try this link:

The Highway by CJ Box — Win Your Copy!

Note: Every Wednesday, Sally and I hope to feature a book that one of us is reading–or a piece from my own writing. We’ll also be giving away a book or two or a box of them!

Purchased at Murder on the Beach, Delray Beach, FL

I will never ever stop at a truck stop again. Nope. No way. Not after reading THE HIGHWAY by CJ Box. And what’s so weird is that I’ve met CJ–we were guests at Murder and Mayhem in Muskego–and he seemed like such a sweet man. How could he have thought up such a horrifying plot?


I guess there was a lot of angst brewing under that big cowboy hat.


When two sisters set out across a remote stretch of Montana road to visit their friend, little do they know it will be the last time anyone might ever hear from them. The girls–and their car–simply disappear.

Former police investigator Cody Hoyt has just lost his job and has fallen off the wagon after a long stretch of sobriety. Convinced by his son and his former rookie partner, Cassie Dewell, to conduct a search, he begins the drive south to the girls’ last known location. As Cody makes his way to the lonely stretch of Montana highway where they were missing, Cassie discovers that Gracie and Danielle Sullivan aren’t the first girls who have disappeared in this area. This majestic landscape is tha hunting ground for a killer who viciousness is outmatched only by his intelligence. And he might not be working alone.

Time is running out for Gracie and Danielle. Can Cassie overcome her doubts and lack of experience and use her innate skill? Can Cody Hoyt battle his own demons and stop this killer before another victim vanishes on THE HIGHWAY?


Tell us what book scared the bejeebers out of you! You have until midnight, Sunday, September 1. We’ll use the random number generator and pick a commenter to win Joanna’s autographed copy of THE HIGHWAY. (I think there’s a smudge of blueberry jam on one page and one corner is dented because I was juggling too much stuff and dropped the book. Otherwise, it’s pristine!)

How to Turn One Plastic Baggy into Three Baggies

Sometimes I don’t want to waste an entire plastic baggy on a small amount of stuff. But I still want to separate out my small crafting items. I’ve learned a simple way to divide one baggy into multiples.

Time it takes:

Shoot, how do I know? (Okay…)
About five minutes or less.


* “ziplock” (press to seal) baggies
* tape (I prefer clear packing tape, but you can also use duct tape or masking tape. The width should be 2 or 3 inches.)
* personal paper trimmer and/or scissors


1. Start by flattening out your baggy. I slipped a piece of newspaper into my baggy to make it easier for you to follow what I’m doing. That said, it’s MUCH easier to cut your baggy if you insert a piece of newspaper or waste paper as I’ve done here, because it gives the limp baggy some shape.

2. Now use your Fiskars personal paper trimmer–you do own one, don’t you?–and position the bag to cut it. TIP: You will snuggle the top of the bag, with the “zipper,” up against the guiding edge of the trimmer. TIP: Start your cut from the “zipper” down, NOT from the thin edge of the baggy up. If you start from the “zipper” down, the rest of the bag won’t bunch up. NOTE: You could also use scissors. If you do, be careful!

Note that the green “zipper” is flush against the top edge of the trimmer. 

3. Cut the baggy into two or more smaller baggies. Remember–Take the blade up to the top of the baggy, by the “zipper” and cut down to the thinnest part of the baggy.

4. You’ll now have two or three smaller baggies--but their sides aren’t sealed! Hey, we can fix that…
Cut pieces of tape as long or longer than your baggy (measuring from the “zipper” to the bottom). Set these aside. You’ll need one piece of tape for each open side. So, for three baggies, you’d need four pieces of tape. I used masking tape here so you could see what I was doing.

5. Attach the tape to an open side of a baggy–BUT position the tape so that it’s half on the open and half off the open side. See below…

Notice that the tape is half on and half off the open side of the baggy. In other words, if the tape is 3 inches wide, 1 1/2 inches of the tape is stuck to the baggy and 1 1/2 inches is unattached to anything!

6. Flip your small baggy over. Fold the extra overhanging portion of the tape over to seal the other side of the baggy.

7. Press the two sides of the tape together to make sure you get a good seal. If the tape overhangs your new baggy, trim it–but be careful not to cut into the plastic baggy.

The tape is folded over to seal the open edge of the small, new baggy.

8. If you chose to cut the baggy into three smaller baggies, you now have two more baggies to seal up. One (the baggy cut from the middle) will be open on both the right and left sides. Tape both those sides closed.

Here are your three baggies–the one cut from the left, the middle one with two formerly open sides, and the right one (which is flipped over in this photo).

9. And here’s the big question…what will you put in your baggies?
On the left, I have plastic “leather” and a seashell, in the middle are bells, and on the right are charms. These baggies were “sealed” with clear packing tape. At the top of the picture, you can see the baggies I made and “sealed” with masking tape. I prefer the clear tape because the entire bag is then see-through.
So tell me, what’s in your baggy?
Sally and I want to know!
How cute is this? Two emery boards in the package, but we LOVE the graphics most of all
We’ll send these darling emery boards to the person with the coolest answer! 
You have until Sunday September 1 at midnight to answer…and we’ll post the winner on Monday!

Winner of the Kiki Lowenstein Fan Club Tee Shirt

Jane Jeffers Thomas won the Kiki Lowenstein Fan Club Tee Shirt.

I put all the commenters into a random number generator, and Jane won.

Meanwhile, I’d like to introduce all of you to my talented and beautiful cousin, Andrea Hazel Hamilton, the watercolorist.

You can read about our family reunion at the Killer Hobbies blog.

Contest on Spotted Canary

It’s up! You’ll want to learn all about the new Spotted Canary Contest. You could win naming rights for a character in Book #3 of the Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft Mystery Series. Go to…

And while you’re there, check out what a super site this is for crafters. You’ll find everything you need to put FUN back into your hobby world. Here’s the site: