The Art of Love & Murder Book Launch

I’m excited to welcome friend and critique partner, Brenda Whiteside, whose first book in a romantic suspense series is launching TODAY!

by Brenda Whiteside

perf5.000x8.000.inddI’m so pleased to be here today for the release of The Art of Love and Murder, book one in my Love and Murder series. Thank you, Heidi.

Blurb: Lacy Dahl never questioned her past until the deaths of her adoptive parents and her husband. A husband who wasn’t what he seemed. Her research uncovers secrets about the mother she never knew; secrets that dispute the identity of her father and threaten her life.

Sheriff Chance Meadowlark is still haunted by the murder of his wife and the revenge he unleashed in the name of justice. When he meets Lacy he is determined not to become involved, but their pasts may make that impossible. As they move closer to the truth, saving Lacy may be his only salvation.

Lacy begins to think the present is more important than her past…until Chance’s connection to her mother and a murder spin her deeper into danger and further from love. Will the truth destroy Lacy and Chance or will it be the answer that frees them?

Most often when I come up with a story, I start with the main characters. The Art of Love and Murder was no exception. This time I encountered a little bump, more of a giant speed bump, in my writing process.

My heroine, Lacy Dahl has been with me from day one – forty-three, widowed, half Hopi Indian and half Austrian, with a mystery in her past. She’d been adopted as an infant when her birth parents were killed in a plane crash, a crash she survived. I knew she’d go in search of her past, but that took some brainstorming to figure out. In her search, she’d meet Sheriff Lance Meadowlark.

Lance – my son’s name. When I imagined the sheriff of Flagstaff, Arizona, a man similar to my son came to mind. NOT my son, but someone of equal stature and rugged good looks. Lance Meadowlark had a good ring to it, so I ran with it…until the first intimate scene. My fingers twitched, I bit my lip and my writing came to a halt. There was no way I could write love scenes using my son’s name. What to do? Lance became Chance. And my pace picked up again.


Momentarily struck dumb by his eye color, she stared back. Why hadn’t she noticed until now? Although not as light as hers or her father’s, the professor’s eyes were a startling green shade.

His hand nudged her arm. “Lacy?”

She jumped. “Oh, yes.” She slipped the tissue from the half-carved wolf. Another glance at his eyes and goose bumps riddled her arms.

He lifted the wood close to his face, using both hands as if handling a delicate hummingbird. His thumb traced the neck of the creature to the juncture of where it emerged from the wood. When he brought the piece to his nose, closing his eyes and breathing deeply, Lacy wanted to turn away from the oddly erotic gesture.

He swallowed, opened his eyes and set the wolf back on the tissue. His attention shifted to the photograph of the chest. He touched the photo, a smile on his lips. “Where is the chest?”

The chest. Like he knew it, had seen it before. “I’m having it sent. You’ve seen it before?”

He didn’t move, stared out the window as if deep in thought. “I’d like to show you something, Lacy.”

“All right.” She waited, watching his profile.

He turned and stared into her face a moment. “You’re so very lovely. A creation full of life and passion, surpassing any art form.”

His hypnotic voice floated on the classical strains drifting from the living room. She couldn’t speak. Didn’t know what to say. She’d been lifted upon a pedestal of admiration. With any other man, she might consider his words a means to a sexual end. The professor’s intentions, however, were crystal. He admired her like a work of art.

You can purchase The Art of Love and Murder at Amazon and through the publisher Wild Rose Press.

author photoBrenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Together, they’ve embraced an age-old lifestyle that has been mostly lost in the United States – multiple generations living under one roof, who share the workload, follow their individual dreams and reap the benefits of combined talents.

Although she didn’t start out to write romance, she’s found all good stories involve complicated human relationships. She’s also found no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or suspense, all her books revolve around those two facts.

Visit Brenda at

Or on FaceBook:


She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at

She blogs about writing and prairie life at

Liz Adair’s New Novel, Cold River, a Hot Read

Liz Adair has a new book out, Cold River, a fast-paced romantic suspense novel that grabs you from the first page, and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you ride the current of this mystery. Who is trying to run her out of town and which man will win her heart?

 Liz has had six novels published, including the award-winning Counting the Cost, based on family history. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where her latest book takes place.

Liz, you’ve set your story in the fictional town of Limestone, Washington. Tell us why you chose this locale. People like to read about exotic places and cultures that that are different from where they live. Face it, I’m never going to visit the Riviera or Paris or Budapest. But here’s a place right in my back yard that has great potential to be, if not exotic, at least different.  I based the town of Limestone on my memory of the town of Concrete as it was when I taught school there in the 1970s. That was before the proliferation of cable TV, so reception came through antennas. I think there wasn’t much of a signal that far upriver, and the leveling influence of television hadn’t yet eroded the local culture.

Your main character, Mandy, feels out of her element in this small-town atmosphere. But she finds satisfaction in teaching a woman with dyslexia how to read. How prevalent is this among adults? Have you had experience in this field?

I was a reading specialist my last few years of teaching, but that was with school-age students. I have only taught one adult to read, and I can’t say how prevalent dyslexia is among adults. I do know that the fellow I taught to read was adept at hiding his handicap and found ways to compensate. I didn’t know about the Ron Davis book The Gift of Dyslexia when I taught him. I was introduced to it by someone who uses the Davis method in teaching dyslexic students.

You talk about the “Tarheels” who live in this area. Can you explain what that refers to?  Spanning several decades during the early 1900s, many families from North Carolina migrated to the foothills of the Cascades along the Skagit River: Sedro Woolley, Concrete, Marblemount. They brought with them their music, dances, seeds and speech patterns. Traces still remain in the area, but thirty years ago, particularly upriver, the Tarheel culture was stronger, and you could still sometimes hear a slight twang in the spoken word.

You’ve used some rich colloquialisms from these natives, such as “I love you like a mule a-kickin’.” And you’ve also used words from the Lummi Indian Nation. Tell us how local slang and idiosyncrasies can enhance our writing. I think local slang and idiosyncrasies can enhance our writing if two things are operative. First, the use has to be unforced. It has to flow naturally and not be shoehorned in for window dressing. Secondly, I think it has to be presented with respect, not as a way to get a cheap laugh.

I have to tell about something that happened one time while I was teaching in Concrete.  I had been appalled to discover that few, if any, of my students knew what Camelot was, so I organized a full-court press to try to expose them to as much ‘culture’ as I could.  One day in the spring, I asked if anyone knew where to find morel mushrooms. Almost every hand went up, and a young man who, until that time, had been reticent told me in great detail where to look for morels. I realized then that these kids weren’t deprived. They were simply enriched in different areas than I was.  I was comfortable in books; they were comfortable in the woods.

Music also plays a large role in this story, both jazz and bluegrass, and music is used as an innovative way to teach mathematics. Can you elaborate on these subjects in your book?  I didn’t mean for this to happen, but in the book, music becomes a symbol of the difference in cultures between Mandy and the people of Limestone. It’s also a bellwether of Mandy’s attitude change. She plays jazz, you see, and regards it as an intelligent form of music that allows, through improvisation, for musicians to express their individuality, and she looks down on bluegrass as hillbilly music.

As far as the teaching of mathematics through music, I did a little experimentation with that when I was in the classroom. Knowing that it’s easier to memorize when things are set to music, I tried it with the times tables. I don’t know how successful it was, but that’s the wonderful thing about fiction: you can have your hero succeed where you may have failed. I felt that the brilliant thing about the program they had going in the book was that it would address auditory and kinesthetic learners’ styles of learning.

Other than the exceptional historical novel Counting the Cost, you seem to specialize in mysteries. Is that your favorite genre? It must be. With Cold River, I set out to write a romance, but I just can’t get away from a puzzle, I guess.

Are you working on a new project? Yes. I’m working on another romantic suspense, this time set in the high desert of Nevada. It’s got opal mines, off-road racing and flying cars in it.

Liz’s books are available at Village Books in Bellingham and

Also, visit her blog at and read a review of Cold River at Mary Trimble’s blog

For our readers in the Skagit Valley area, Liz will host a launch party on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Sedro Woolley Library. Door prizes will include books and homemade apple pies, and she will have copies of Cold River for sale.

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