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

Aloha! A Review of PHOTO, SNAP, SHOT by Cindy Chow

Note: Cindy is the first reviewer to notice that Kiki, too, is prejudiced. By the end of Photo, Snap, Shot, she must question her own assumptions about other people

I admit that I completely lack the Martha Stewart gene. My one attempt at a DIY
design project resulted in six – that’s six – pieces of my furniture becoming
“‘marbelized” in paint. I come by it honestly, though, as ten years of my
childhood photographs reside in shoeboxes at my parents’ home, all in their
original Kodak envelopes.

So it takes a lot for me to continue to follow a “crafting” mystery series, as
there’s pretty much no chance that I will ever follow the crafting hints and
tips. However, Joanna Campbell Slan’s Kiki Lowenstein’s Scrap-n-Craft
mysteries is a series that does have the humor, realistic characters, and
complex plots that compel me to read each engaging new entry. The third in this
series, Photo, Snap, Shot(Midnight Ink) continues this excellence and never

Thanks to financial support from her late husband’s mother, Kiki Lowenstein’s
daughter Anya attends the elitist prep school Charles and Anne Lindbergh Academy
(CALA). It’s the last place one would expect violence to occur, so when Anya
discovers the body of her teacher there Kiki goes into full panic mode. The
school is eager to cover up any hint of impropriety or scandal, so it’s no huge
surprise that the woman’s African American boyfriend, the basketball coach, is
immediately implicated and arrested.

After being warned repeatedly from interfering in previous murders, Kiki’s more
than a little surprised when Detective Chad Detweiler actually asks for her help
in clearing the coach, who happened to have been a Little Brother Detweiller
mentored and believes is a convenient scapegoat.

This places Kiki in an emotionally precarious position, as Detweiler is the
married man she dreams about while two perfectly acceptable other men, one of
whom is the man she SHOULD want to love, stand at the sideline. As they say
though, the heart wants what the heart wants. However, any rash actions she may
contemplate are definitely curtailed by her watchful mother-in-law and friends.

As Kiki ventures in the rarefied world of the CALA elite, she discovers that the
headmaster’s wife and four CALA mothers all had past ties that unite them in
hiding past secrets. The murdered teacher herself also had a cloudy past
despite her recent path to redemption.

What surprised me so much in this novel was how the chip on Kiki’s shoulder that
resulted from her insecurities and feelings as an outsider prejudiced her
against all of the mother’s of CALA. Slowly, as Kiki questions and begins to
know more about each woman she understands that each woman is far more complex
than she realized in her initial snap judgments. The author fleshes out each
woman realistically and empathetically in a way that enables the reader to
understand the sacrifices they’ve made and how they’ve become who they are..

Rather tortuously, but realistically, Slan concludes Photo Snap Shot with a
cliffhanger that leaves some questions unanswered and definitely has the reader
wanting more. The next Kiki Lowenstein mystery can’t come soon enough. I love
Kiki, a character who has grown stronger in will and character as the series has
progressed while never losing her sense of humor.


Cindy Chow
Kaneohe Public Library

"A Crop to Die For"

Looking for a fun and different idea for your crop group? Why not hold a dinner mystery theatre event? I’ve written a play you can put on with only six actors and very few props. It makes a great “frame” for a crop. The cost is only $30, which makes it perfect for a fundraising event. You can use the script as many times as you want for that one fee.

The script, instructions, a “Whodunnit Form” and a form for ordering books is available at YouPublish Just look through my “library” and you’ll see “A Crop to Die For” as one of the offerings.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

You remember this song, right? I’m not trying to be disrespectful to anyone’s religion, but I think this song title could well be adapted to our work as promoters of our books.

I think it’s my job to tell anyone and everyone who meanders across my path about my books, because you never know when you are going to meet a new (potential) fan.

Let me give you a few examples:

1. I was talking with the account rep at National City Bank about transferring some money from one account to another. She said, “While we’re waiting for this to go through, is there anything else I could do for you today?” And I said, “Sure! You could take a look at my new mystery on Amazon.” Well, wouldn’t you know it, she LOVES mysteries and scrapbooking, and she copied down my book title and told me she’d tell all her friends.

2. We said “Hi” to the nice lady in the villa two doors down from us here on Kiawah Island. She told us she was shocked because none of the renters here usually say hello, and she’s a very lonely resident. “I’ve joined local bookclubs to get to know people,” she said. And so I followed up with, “What kind of books do you read?” Then I told her about my book, and later I delivered a customized bookmark. Her daughter was visiting when I dropped off the bookmark, and my neighbor had already told her all about my book.

3. I found out that one of my doctors has a holiday boutique in her office each November. I asked if they would have an opening for me to come sell my books–and they were thrilled.

4. I talked to my sister who’s a teacher about how important it is to promote my books. We changed the subject, and then, Meg said, “You know, they have a bookclub at school. I didn’t even think about it, but there’s no reason they couldn’t read YOUR book.”

5. I talked to Sonja who exercises right next to me at Jazzercise. She told me there’s a book club in her association, and she’s getting me the contact information.

6. At a party, I handed one of my business cards (with my cover on it) to Vickie Newton, a local news anchor for KMOV. She’s planning to interview me as soon as the book comes out.

You don’t have to be obnoxious. You do have to be strategic. And the conversation can’t just be about you and your book…

But here’s my thinking: I personally LOVE books. I really love knowing authors. And if someone shared information about his or her book with me, I’d be happy to hear the good news. As long as the person was respectful and not pushy. I’m always looking for that next new favorite author.

And I trust that there’s a universe of other people who feel the same.