Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Trick or Deadly Treat Now Available

As far back as I can remember, I've loved dogs. Most pets, actually. (Don't get me started on snakes.) So as I've been writing the Fresh Baked Mysteries the past few years, it occurred to me that the characters didn't have any pets, and that seemed like something I should remedy. Sam Fletcher struck me as the most likely to want a dog, so the most recent book in the series opens with him and Phyllis visiting the local animal shelter to find one Sam can adopt.

They settle on Buck, a lovable Dalmatian who needs some medical attention from a nearby veterinarian. Since it's almost Halloween, Phyllis and Carolyn wind up making trick-or-treat snacks for both humans and dogs. Of course, the characters in these books can't go on for very long without murder cropping up, and this time it involves the vet who takes care of Buck. Before it's over, Phyllis and Sam are up to their necks in crime-solving, and once they're on the track of a killer, they may find themselves in danger as well...

This has been a hard year for our household, having lost two beloved old dogs who had been with us for what seemed like forever, 20-year-old Dobie and 14-year-old Max. Even though they were still around when this book was written, I'd like to add a special dedication to their memory. They're greatly missed and always will be.


It’s Halloween in Weatherford, Texas—which means Phyllis Newsom is baking up a storm of yummy seasonal treats...but she’s about to get even busier unmasking a killer.

While Phyllis and her friend Carolyn are preparing for a baking contest, her housemate Sam adopts Buck, an adorable Dalmatian who was hit by a car. To thank local veterinarian Hank Baxter for helping the dog, Phyllis and Carolyn bake a batch of doggie treats for his other four-legged patients.

But when they arrive at the clinic, the vet is in the process of being arrested—for the murder of his wife! Convinced that the police are barking up the wrong tree and that someone’s been burying evidence, Sam begs Phyllis to help find the real killer. Joined by Buck, the friends engage in a dogged pursuit of the murderer, who will stop at nothing to muzzle them…permanently.

Includes Recipes

Here's the opening of TRICK OR DEADLY TREAT:

Phyllis Newsom put her hands over her ears and said, “Oh, my goodness!”

“Yeah, they’re kinda loud, aren’t they?” Sam Fletcher said with a grin. “And enthusiastic, to boot.”

They stood in a cement-floored runway between rows of metal cages filled with dogs of all shapes, sizes, breeds, and mixtures of breeds. The air inside the cinder-block building contained an assortment of smells, all of them pungent and none particularly pleasant, but Sam didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he looked as happy as Phyllis had seen him in a while.

Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all, she thought.

When he had first told her that he wanted to get a dog, her immediate impulse had been to say no. A flat, nonnegotiable no. And since the big, old two-story house on a tree-shaded street in Weatherford, Texas, belonged to her and Sam only rented a room there, it was Phyllis’s decision to make.

The problem was, Sam wasn’t just a boarder, subject to his landlady’s rules and decisions. The four retired teachers who lived in the house—Phyllis, Sam, Carolyn Wilbarger, and Eve Turner—had become more like family over the years. They were best friends as well, and in Sam’s case, Phyllis had to admit that the two of them were more than just friends. She couldn’t just dismiss what he wanted out of hand.

Because of that, she found herself in this big, smelly, noisy room full of barking dogs.

The young woman who worked as a volunteer at the animal shelter wore a plastic name tag that read JULIE on her shirt. She smiled, waved a hand at the cages, and said, “Feel free to look around all you want, folks. I’m sure you’ll find just the right dog for you.”

“Thanks, Julie,” Sam said. He went over to the closest cage, which held a German shepherd, and put his hand close to the bars so the dog could sniff it.

According to the paperwork in a clear plastic envelope attached to the cage, the dog’s name was Daisy and she was three years old, no health problems, good with children. That wasn’t really a consideration since no children lived in Phyllis’s house. Her grandson, Bobby, visited sometimes, though, so actually it was important that whatever dog Sam picked was well behaved and safe to be around children, she thought.

“Howdy, Daisy,” Sam said as he scratched the dog’s muzzle. “How ya doin’, girl?”

Phyllis smiled. The affection Sam felt for this dog, for all dogs, really, was obvious. He was a genuinely good man, and she was glad she had gotten to know him, even this late in their lives.

Daisy licked Sam’s fingers. Phyllis could tell that he didn’t want to move on to the next cage, but he had to take a look at the rest of the dogs. Phyllis stayed with him as he made his way slowly along the runway.

She saw beagles, schnauzers, Chihuahuas, and lots of mutts. Big dogs, small dogs, shorthairs, longhairs. Most were eager and friendly, as if they knew that the humans who came to see them held their fate in their hands.A few seemed sullen, and Phyllis wondered if they had been mistreated and no longer trusted anybody who went on two legs.

What was that famous line from Animal Farm? “Four legs good, two legs bad”? Something like that, she decided. Unfortunately, all too often that was true. Her own experiences over the past few years with the uglier side of life had taught her that.

Animals killed, certainly, but only humans were capable of murder.

Sam broke into her thoughts by looking at her, shaking his head, and saying, “Well, coming here turned out to be a bad mistake.”

“How so?”

“I want to take all of ’em home with me. I don’t reckon there’s room for that, though.”

“I have a pretty big backyard,” Phyllis said, “but not that big.”

Sam sighed and said, “All right. I reckon I’m gonna have to—”

He stopped as the metal door at the end of the runway, between the kennel area and the office, swung open and a male volunteer came through carrying a dog. The animal was wrapped in a blanket and whimpering in pain.

“Lonny, what happened?” Julie asked as she hurried toward the newcomer.

“Aw, somebody hit this poor fella out on the road. I saw it happen just now as I was coming in. Looks like maybe his front leg is busted.”

“Do you think he belongs to somebody around here?”

Lonny shook his head and said, “I dunno. He doesn’t have a collar and he’s pretty skinny, so I’ve got a hunch he’s a stray.”

Sam walked up to the volunteers with Phyllis trailing behind him. He said, “That’s a Dalmatian, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Lonny said. “Full grown, but not too old, I’d say.”

“I always wanted a Dalmatian when I was a kid. Are you folks going to adopt him out?”

“Mister, he hasn’t been processed in. You can have him right now if you want him. You’re gonna have to give me your word that you’ll take care of him, though. He needs medical attention.”

“Where’s the nearest vet?” Sam asked.

Lonny and Julie looked at each other, and Julie said, “That would be Dr. Baxter, about a mile back up the road toward town.”

“Then that’s where I’m takin’ him right now,” Sam said. “You can follow me if you want, to make sure that’s what I do.”

“I don’t guess that’s necessary,” Lonny said. “You got a car outside?”

“My pickup,” Sam told him.

“I’ll put him in the back for you.”

Sam shook his head.“I’ll hold him. My friend here can drive.”

Sam’s decision to take the injured dog seemed awfully impulsive to Phyllis. She said, “Sam, are you sure you want to do this?”

He answered by reaching out and gently taking the blanket-wrapped Dalmatian out of Lonny’s arms. Sam was tall and lanky, but he was also strong enough to hold the medium-sized dog.

“Be careful,” Julie told him. “Injured dogs sometimes bite.”

“This fella’s not gonna bite me,” Sam said with a shake of his head. “I can tell we’re gonna get along just fine.”

Can be purchased in trade paperback or eBook format for/from:


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Available Again -- The Healer's Road by James Reasoner and Livia J. Washburn

For more than thirty years, bestselling authors James Reasoner and Livia J. Washburn have chronicled the story of America in their award-winning historical novels. THE HEALER'S ROAD is one of their greatest sagas, the sweeping story of a family dedicated to the practice of medicine and caught up in the violence and heartbreak of America's bloodiest war.

Thomas Black rose from poverty, superstition, and tragedy to become a respected physician. His son John is reluctant to follow in those footsteps but is forced to do so by the madness of war. And Thomas's daughter Sara is the most devoted of all to healing the sick and injured, despite living in a world that opposes her every ambition.

From Boston to Washington D.C. to the battlefields of the Civil War, THE HEALER'S ROAD is a tale of triumph and loss, of courage and despair, of life and death and love and hate vividly portrayed by a pair of master storytellers. Long out of print, THE HEALER'S ROAD is now available again in this newly revised e-book edition.


On the left-hand wall were more tall wooden cases, these with solid doors. They contained medical instruments and surgical equipment: stethoscopes, thermometers, lancets, scalpels, boxes of sutures and ligatures, a carbolic acid atomizer, sponges, bandages, splints, syringes, tourniquets...the list was almost endless. Once a physician's equipment had consisted primarily of leeches; now in these advanced days of 1866 it seemed there was a tool or gadget for practically every purpose relating to medicine.

But the most important tools of all were the ones that had always been there, the man thought as he leaned back in his chair. The observant eyes, the keen brain, the caring heart...those were the things that really made someone a doctor.

After a moment the man leaned forward and dipped the pen in the inkwell again, then began to write.
Thomas Jefferson once said that the patient sometimes gets well in spite of the medicine. I might add, in spite of the physician, as well. However, there is no doubt in my mind that many individuals are drawing breath today who would not have been, save for the efforts of a doctor. Therefore, the practice of medicine is now, as it has always been, a noble and necessary one.

The man laid his pen aside and looked down at what he had written. After a moment he grunted and crumpled the paper, tossed it aside. The words sounded like an introductory lecture in the medical school he had attended many years before, not a heartfelt missive to someone he cared about very much. He took a clean sheet from a stack on the desk and began again, leaving off the formal address this time. He simply dated it February 12, 1866, wrote the salutation, and began:

Though I have not often said it, I love you very much and am quite proud of you. But never more proud of you than I am today. I applaud the course you have chosen and wish you all the best of fortune. You will doubtless need it, because the road you have chosen can be a difficult one. I know this because I have followed it myself. Once I was not a physician. In fact, I would have happily shot the first so-called doctor I ever met....


Lifelong Texans, James Reasoner and Livia J. Washburn have been husband and wife, and professional writers for more than thirty years. In that time, they have authored several hundred novels and short stories in numerous genres.

James is best known for his Westerns, historical novels, and war novels, he is also the author of two mystery novels that have achieved cult classic status, TEXAS WIND and DUST DEVILS. Writing under his own name and various pseudonyms, his novels have garnered praise from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as appearing on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. He recently won the Peacemaker award for his novel Redemption, Kansas. His website is

Livia J. Washburn has been writing professionally for over 30 years. Washburn received the Private Eye Writers of America award and the American Mystery award for the first Lucas Hallam mystery, WILD NIGHT. Her story “Panhandle Freight” a Hallam story, in The Traditional West anthology, was nominated for a Peacemaker award and her story “Charlie’s Pie” in the Wishing For a Cowboy anthology, won the Peacemaker. Her website is They live in the small Texas town they grew up in.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Why It's a Good Idea To Not Give Your Pet Treats From China

Sammy coming home from shelter
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is providing an update on its ongoing investigation into pet illnesses and deaths in animals that ate jerky pet treats. This update includes the latest information about complaints of illnesses, FDA’s collaboration with the CDC on a new case control study, and new findings revealed through the agency’s testing. Unfortunately, FDA has still not been able to identify a specific cause for the reported illnesses or deaths.

Case numbers: Since FDA’s last update on October 22, 2013, we have received approximately 1,800 additional case reports. As of May 1, 2014, we have received in total more than 4,800 complaints of illness in pets that ate chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all of which are imported from China. The reports involve more than 5,600 dogs, 24 cats, three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths. The breakdown of symptoms associated with the cases is similar to that of earlier reports: approximately 60 percent of the cases report gastrointestinal/liver disease, 30 percent kidney or urinary disease, with the remaining 10 percent of complaints including various other signs such as neurologic, dermatologic, and immunologic symptoms. About 15 percent of the kidney or urinary cases also tested positive for Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease that has been associated with this investigation. FDA Report
Sammy getting to know Max

I check labels and buy products made in the USA, or I make my own. Most dogs love sweet potatoes.  It is simple to slice sweet potatoes in a food processor, which slices nice and thin, lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet, pop them in a 200 degree oven for an hour-1 1/2 hours, then I leave them in the oven with the light on for 24 hours. They are nice and crunchy, and the dogs love them. One of our little dogs especially loves veggies, so I give her a baby carrots cut in strips so she won't choke on them.  She sometimes gobbles treats instead of chewing.

My Writing Partners.
The little gobbler isn't possessed, she actually has pretty brown eyes.  We got these little sweeties when our old dog started having more problems and we worried he wouldn't be around much longer. That was on Mother's day five years ago.  The old timer turns at least 20 June 1st.

Trick or Deadly Treat, the tenth in the Fresh Baked Mystery series, is coning out October 7th, and has both dog and people treats.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lassoing a Bride -- The Perfect Cover Image --Book Giveaway

Today at Prairie Rose Publications two new anthologies came out that I made covers for. I even have a story in one.  Today I'm giving away e-copies of Lassoing a Bride and Lassoing a Groom to one person who comments chosen by

Last winter I asked my partner, Cheryl Pierson what she thought about having an anthology about western weddings for early summer. I sent her a mock cover. We threw around titles until we came up with Lassoing a Bride. The mock cover was too modern. and we also decided we wanted a smaller more intimate anthology so each author would have room to have decent length stories. We knew we'd have more stories than we wanted to put in this one anthology, so we added Lassoing a Groom. I found the perfect image for Lassoing a Bride and the bonus was there were more of the couple so I could also use one for Lassoing a Groom. We put out a call for stories, and it was soon obvious we'd need another Lassoing anthology, and added Lassoing a Mail-Order Bride. Now the first two anthologies have been released.


Some brides are hard to get a rope on, for sure! But in these wild west romance tales, being married is like sugar and lots of spice—with a dash of pepper in the mix! Ain’t nothin’ tame about these brides, who have a delicious story of their own—each falling under the spell of a handsome devil she thought was out of her reach. Unanswered prayers, broken dreams and unexpected circumstances are sometimes the best way for a groom to get the gal he loves when he’s looking at Lassoing a Bride!

Sometimes it’s the stolen and unexpected love that has the power to heal a broken heart

A broken dream…a cancelled wedding…and an unexpected blessing.

Love always finds a way…

Smith found equal amounts of both anonymity and trouble in Gabriel's Settlement. But when he sets eyes on a beautiful woman and her young daughter who are being abused, might some other emotion be fated to bloom in that desert town of far west Texas?

THE BRIDE AND THE BADGE by Livia J. Washburn
Was Emily just bait for an outlaw trap—or did she mean more than that to the handsome Texas Ranger?
(Note: I do love those Texas Rangers!)

Available Now at  Barnes & Noble    Smashwords



How is a woman supposed to catch a husband? In the wild, wild west, she’s got to find a way to Lasso a Groom! Some of them are lawmen…some are outlaws. Ranchers and homesteaders are fair game, as well—none of 'em safe from love’s lariat, or the women who finally manage to rope ’em in!
Can rancher Dex Madsen get past loner Betsy Lynch's goats and killer chicken to help save her mining claim and win her heart?

RACE TO MARRY by Kirsten Lynn
He’s in town to tame a man-killer. She’s accused of being one. When she proposes marriage the race is on.

WANTED: THE SHERIFF by Tracy Garrett
He’s a confirmed bachelor…but she’ll capture his heart.

CANYON CROSSING by Kristy McCaffrey
In search of her brother, Annabel Cross enters Grand Canyon. When U.S. Deputy Marshal Angus Docherty rescues her from a cliff side, her most guarded secret might save them.

Will a dangerous man from Gussie Hamner’s past sabotage the future she’s building with Noah Wilerson?

An inept bank robber and a bossy spinster team up to rob an empty vault. What could go wrong?

Now Available Barnes & Noble   Smashwords


Coming Soon:


Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of both Lassoing a Bride and Lassoing a Groom.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Prairie Rose Publications: PRP New Release -- Mending Fences By Livia J Washb...

Prairie Rose Publications: PRP New Release -- Mending Fences By Livia J Washb...: Dime novelist Brianna Stark finds more than she expected in the small frontier town of Zephyr, Texas: not only a ready-made family in th...

Livia will be giving away a digital copy of MENDING FENCES to one lucky commenter today at the Prairie Rose Publication blog! Be sure to leave your contact information in your comment--it may be your lucky day! If you just can't wait to see if you won, here are the links where you can find MENDING FENCES in print and digital formats.

Amazon Trade Paperback     Amazon Kindle     B&N Nook     Smashwords

Thursday, March 27, 2014