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

What You Can Do With a Ruined Tee Shirt

I have no idea how my red top wound up in the wash with all my white and cream clothes. None. Worse luck, I added a cup of bleach to the mix and let the whole mess sit for a couple of hours.

Not surprisingly, this cream top picked up a hint of red (much diluted) here and there.

Rit Dye Remover is expensive, and the top was not. However, I’d been wanting to try Zentangle on fabric, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity.


One piece of cardstock
A fabric pen in black


1. I didn’t need to iron my top, because I’d hung it up to dry, but your fabric should be smooth.
2. Slip the card between the fabric layers so the ink doesn’t soak through.
3. Choose a steady, flat surface so you don’t have any wobble.

4. Start drawing.

5. Stand back and admire. Notice that I chose a very simple pattern. Less is more in my book. But this still needed something.

6. Let sit 24 hours.

7. Wear and collect compliments. (You’re such a thrifty Craft-anista!)

Note: I used fabric markers that I bought online. I’ve been told that you can also use Sharpies. I suggest that after you let the fabric sit for 24 hours, you iron it on the WRONG side to help heat set the ink. Then wash it inside out in cold water.

Okay, anyone willing to try this? Tell me what you’re going to rescue by adding a tangle!


A Halloween Close Call

A Kiki Lowenstein

By Joanna
Campbell Slan
The entire novella will be free from Oct. 29 through Oct. 31 (Tuesday through Thursday). On those days ONLY, you’ll be able to “purchase” the novella at no cost. You can get your copy FREE on those days only by going to


Author’s Note: In the timeline of Kiki
Lowenstein’s life, this comes after Group, Photo, Grave (Book #8) and immediately
before Killer, Paper, Cut (Book #9).


Chapter 1

Two and a half weeks before Halloween…

suburb of St. Louis MO


it’s spooky or scary, count me out,” I said, shaking my head no for

Chad Detweiler grinned at me before planting a quick kiss on my lips. “Even
if I’m there to hold your hand?”

honey and I were meeting with our friends, Clancy Whitehead and Johnny
Chambers, to discuss how we would celebrate Halloween.

I thought Halloween was your favorite holiday!” Clancy shook her head at
me. She’s one of my favorite people, my co-worker at Time in a Bottle, the
scrapbook and craft store that I now own.

is my fave holiday. I love the colors. Orange. Purple. Neon green. Black. And
all the darling images.”

“And the
candy,” said Detweiler, laughingly.
“There’s that, too,” I admitted. “But the scary stuff? Not so

an interesting picture we must have made. All four of us were very different. Leaning
against the doorsill in my office was the oh-so-classic Clancy, a dead-ringer
for Jackie Kennedy, right down to the dark auburn bob. Sitting on the corner of
my big desk was Johnny, who has Bad Boy written all over him, with that sort of
Cool Hand Luke. And then there was my wonderful Knight in Shining Armor,
Detective Chad Detweiler, with his long legs and amazing green-gold eyes. And
me? Well, I look like a demented beach ball because I’m seven months pregnant
with a head full of curly, dishwater blond hair. I was sitting at my desk in
the big black leather chair, and Detweiler was standing next to me.

underscore how adamant I was, I crossed my arms. Or tried to. I couldn’t
exactly fit my arms over my baby bump. Right now, Alfred Hitchcock and I were
sharing a profile. “I love Halloween, but I draw the line at being
frightened out of my mind. I get enough crummy surprises in my daily life,
thank you.”

matter how hard I try

How to Edit Your Work

The ability to edit your own work is incredibly important. For obvious reasons, editors prefer authors who can turn in clean copy. Beyond lightening an editor’s workload, there are other reasons that you need to be good at editing–it’s your name on the book!

Over the years I’ve picked up great ideas for editing. Here’s the best summary of what you should be doing–

Edit your work in passes.

 In other words, don’t go over it once and consider it done. Read it several times, for several different reasons. Read it first for pacing and continuity. Read it again for logic. Finally read it to proofread for grammar, spelling, etc.

Let’s break that down:

1. Read it for pacing and continuity. Does it drag? Does every scene contribute and move the plot along? If you delete a scene does it matter? (If the answer is, “No,” then the scene is going to drag the plot down.) Can you up the tension in the scene? Can you use a chapter break to create a mini-cliffhanger? Are the characters consistent in their behavior?

2. Read it for logic. Are the sequences of the sentences appropriate? Do they build on each other? Do they happen in a logical order? Are there any questions left unanswered? Does your premise and the premise of your characters make sense? Do you maintain an internal logic? And finally, if someone walks into a room, where do they go? What happens to them? Did you maintain a logic to their arrival and departure?

3. Read it for grammatical errors, spelling errors, and consistency of style.

It takes forever to edit a book this way. Unfortunately, a poorly edited book is a book that won’t be enjoyed by your reader, so make the time!

A Crafty Treat for Dogs

I love owning Bichons. My groomer, Pam, says that Bichons are the only breed capable of real love. (Don’t throw things at me! I’m quoting her!)
But Bichons are also prone to a variety of problems, and poor teeth are right up there at the top of the list. They are also very emotionally sensitive. Leaving them behind really makes them upset.
To combat both problems, I’ve come up with this treat. Using Easy Cheese (otherwise know as Cheese Whiz), I squirt a little of the cheesy goo into a Kong, a rubber treat that’s red and reminds me of the Michelin Man.
After I’ve filled all my Kongs (I keep four of them on hand), I pop them into a zipper top plastic bag. These go into the freezer.

Why are these such a great idea? First of all, gnawing on the Kong helps remove dental plaque. Second, because the treat is frozen inside, it takes a long time for Rafferty to get to the good stuff. And third, there’s a small amount of treat per Kong, so it doesn’t upset his tummy or add inches to his svelte waist line. Best of all, I can give one to Raffi when I leave the house so he’s busy and happy while I’m gone.

I love the convenience of reaching into the bag, grabbing a cold Kong, and sharing it with my pet. Let me know if your dog enjoys this, too!

Where Are the Paper Versions of the Kiki Books?

Last April, my longstanding publisher Midnight Ink decided to discontinue the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series.

So I am now self-publishing the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series. I had self-published other books years ago, so this is will be fine…eventually…although there have been many changes since I founded “Spot On Publishing.”

I had already mastered the mechanism for putting short stories up on Amazon. They’ve made it very, very easy, bless them! The folks at Amazon have been simply terrific to work with. And financially, it’s been an absolute godsend.

I now have an assistant, Sally, and she’s working to get the books printed on paper. We hope to announce that we’ve conquered this new technology very shortly!

However, as you might imagine, you can’t give away a book on paper for FREE. There are costs involved

Ink, Red, Dead Will Be Free for Three Days!

You can download Ink, Red, Dead for FREE from Oct. 5 thru 7 (Saturday through Monday) by going to  Here’s the deal: As long as you keep spread the word and tell your friends about my free offers, I’ll continue making my books available for FREE for a limited time!

An Excerpt from
Note: The new revision is book length with craft “how to” information and recipes!

By Joanna Campbell Slan
Copyright 2013
 Note: The new revision is book length with craft “how to” information and recipes!


In the chronology of Kiki’s life this book is now Book #3 in the series, falling between Cut, Crop and Die; and Photo, Snap, Shot. Kiki is assisting her friend Mert in cleaning out a hoarder’s house. Because the place is so gross, Kiki is wearing a Tyvek suit and headgear, despite the fact that the heat outside is beastly!



was rubbing at my skin fiercely when something landed on the top of my head.

whooped with fear, batting at my hood with both hands.

one heard me because everyone else was busy in other corners of the house.
Trudy in the back bedroom. Johnny in the garage. Mert in the kitchen.

          The thing on my head slipped to one
side. Tiny pinpricks stabbed through the Tyvek and into my scalp. A tiny yellow
paw appeared through the lenses of my goggles. I held perfectly still. Was it
possible that a cat had landed on me? Had one been overlooked?

          But this…this thing on my head was far
too light to be a cat.

 I froze, strained my ears, and was rewarded by
the tiniest “meow” ever, in a voice so hoarse I nearly missed it. Slowly I moved
my hand upwards. Finally, I plucked from my head a palm-sized yellow tabby. He
stared at me with lime-green eyes and tried to “meow” again but nothing came

          “You poor little tyke. They rounded up
everyone else, didn’t they? Let’s see what we can do for you.”

          I carried the kitten over to Mert,
who’d been working in Marla’s bedroom. We walked outside. She pulled off her
hood, glanced down at the kitten, and gave me a glum look. “He’ll probably

          “What?” I cradled the cat to my chest.
“What do you mean, die? He’ll be okay. Has to!”

          She sighed. “Most of Marla’s cats were
sick. If this one don’t have feline distemper, it’s a miracle. You can’t take
him home because he’ll only kick the kitty litter bag over on you

Kiki Lowenstein and Too Much Squash (Short Story Excerpt)

 You can read this whole short story free if you load it on Sept. 27 (Friday) and Sept. 28 (Sat.) by going to

In the timeline of Kiki’s life, this short story comes after Picture,
Perfect, Corpse: Book #7
and before Group, Photo, Grave: Book #8.


Wednesday in August…

your mother feeling?” Lottie Feister quizzed my daughter Anya.

was sitting cross-legged on the other side of the shelving unit so I overheard
Lottie’s question. I thought about getting up and answering her myself, but I’d
sat down here for a purpose. I was searching for a particular sheet of
embellishments. I suppose I could have made my presence known, but I didn’t
feel like moving. An hour earlier I’d had a particularly nasty bout of morning
sickness. Right now, sitting still suited me