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Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes: 12 Mysteries for the Dog Days of Summer!

Have a howlingly good read during the dog days of summer with a dozen cozy mysteries from Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon best-selling authors. Murder lurks in every corner during the dog days of summer. Solve the mystery as our snoops leash the criminals – at the beach, at the farm, on the mountain – everywhere! All profits from this pack go to support NO KILL animal charities! Fetch it now! And help us help pets!

'Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes’ includes never before published books from:

** WSJ Bestselling Author Judith Lucci - Gawd Almighty & the Corn

** WSJ Bestselling Author Cindy Bell - Murder at Pawprint Creek

** WSJ Bestselling Author Colleen Mooney - Dog Gone and Dead

** USA Today and WSJ Bestselling Author Amy Vansant - Summer Teeth

** WSJ Bestselling Author Colleen Helme - A Midsummer Night's Murder

** WSJ Bestselling Author Kim Hunt Harris - The Murder of Bandera Bandito

** USA Today Bestselling Author Anna Celeste Burke - A Body on Fitzgerald's Bluff

** Ava Mallory - A Dream Stray-Cation

** Sandi Scott - Croquembouche Murder

** Susan Boles - Death on the Beach

** USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever - Toxic Tech

** Anne R. Tan - Just Lost and Found


Bonus recipes from the authors are included!


Only 99cents on PreOrder for all 12!!!!



My Latest Release: SUMMER GIRL, A NOVEL


“Does first love, true love, ever really die?”


Andi Martin asks herself that question as she sits on the porch of the Sloane Cottage, her mind flooded with memories of the summer of ‘65 and a boy, once loved, but never forgotten.

Jake Chambers is also on a collision course with the past as he returns to Cutter Island for the first time in more than a decade. And, as the ferry approaches the wharf, he finds his mind filled with thoughts of a summer long forgotten and a girl destined to haunt him forever.

From award-winning author, Linda Watkins, comes a story of love, loss, survival, and, most of all, hope…SUMMER GIRL, A Novel.

“…take a deep breath; because Summer Girl isn't formula writing about a summer fling, but a deeper story of coming of age, sexual abuse in families, and methods of survival that enter the picture of a blossoming interpersonal relationship, making Summer Girl an unexpectedly complex read.” ~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

“A heartfelt story of a boy and a girl….it captivated my heart from beginning to end.” ~Patricia Bell for READERS FAVORITE


SUMMER GIRL, which has a 4.9 rating on Amazon, is available for purchase or to read for **FREE** on #KindleUnlimited. For more information, click below...


BUY NOW: Summer Girl




Set in the gorgeous Belgrade Lakes of Maine in summer, 1966:


Every family has its secrets…


Summer, 1966: For thirteen-year-old Gus LeGarde, summertime always means Loon Harbor, his grandparents’ idyllic fishing resort on Great Pond. The season is a grand tradition of swimming, boating, and new adventures with his best friends, twins Siegfried and Elsbeth. But this summer, everything changes when a new lodge down the shore threatens the resort—and triggers a chain of events that will transform Gus and his friends forever.


Customers are leaving Loon Harbor in droves for The Seven Whistles, owned by the wealthy LaFontaines. The Baton Rouge family arrives with better amenities and a much larger staff—among them Wilhelmina “Willy” DuPont, a young black girl whose family works for the LaFontaines. Gus and the twins immediately bring Willy into their circle…but their friendship is soon challenged when events at The Seven Whistles take a terrifying turn.


A mysterious figure haunts the windows of women and young ladies at both camps, escalating from peeper to dangerous stalker. Then the LaFontaines’ spoiled and demanding daughter goes missing—and Willy’s innocent older brother is arrested.

Gus soon discovers that dark secrets lurk beneath the surface of the LaFontaine family, and the stakes are higher than ever imagined as they race to exonerate Willy’s brother and find the real perpetrator—before he finds them.


From bestselling author, Aaron Paul Lazar, comes a mystery you don’t want to miss. And, while it’s book #11 in the LeGarde Mysteries, it has a beginning, middle, and end, and can be read as a stand-alone!


It’s on sale now. Only 99cents! Buy Voodoo Summer Now


Author Interview with Stevie Turner, Author of THE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW SYNDROME!


What inspired you to write this book?


The Daughter-in-law Syndrome is my latest book, as yet unpublished.  I wrote it because after hearing many tales of woe over the years I came to the unhappy conclusion that sometimes the life of a daughter-in-law just sucks, and of course this led me on to thinking how this fact could be good fodder for another Stevie novel!  


Tell us a little bit about yourself.


I’ve been married for about 450 years, and have two grown children and four grandchildren.  If I’m not writing or at work you’ll find me walking around my pretty chocolate-box village in the country, thinking about what to write next but also trying to keep fit. I also love going to rock festivals and soaking up the atmosphere!


How long have you been writing?


I’ve been writing stories all my life it seems.  I remember winning an inter-schools essay competition in junior school, and it just seems natural to me to write things down.  Writing has also been very therapeutic for me in the past.  


What sort of conditions are most conducive to productivity?


Before I can write there has to be total silence.  I cannot concentrate with music or the TV on in the background.  As long as I’m alone in a room and there is no sound I can create away to my heart’s content!  I can also think up some good plots if I’m out walking around my village too, as long as nobody else is walking with me!  I am wonderfully anti-social, but at my time of life I revel in it.


What’s your favourite aspect of being a writer?


It satisfies my creative urge.  If I’m not in the middle of writing a novel, then I’m a bit on the sad side.  Also I get to sit on my own in a quiet room and think my own thoughts, which to me is absolutely wonderful!  Also it’s that email you get when you’re not expecting it that tells you you’ve won an award (A House Without Windows has been chosen for a medal in the New Apple Book Awards 2014 Suspense/Thriller category).


What do you do for a living?


I’d love to say I was a full-time writer, but at the moment I work as a medical secretary in a busy hospital.  I’ve learned a lot through my work though, and am glad of the chance to have worked in the good old NHS.


What are the biggest challenges you face as a writer?


Ha ha; marketing - the writer’s bugbear.  I now find I have to spend just half a day writing and the other half day marketing the previous books.  


Who’s your favourite character from one of your books?  Why?


I think it has to be Lyn Fuller from ‘No Sex Please, I’m Menopausal!’ She had the guts to do what thousands of middle-aged women only dream about doing; leaving an unfaithful husband and making a new life for herself.


What is your writing process like?  Are you a pantster, a plotter, or somewhere in-between?


Somewhere in-between, I think.  I have the outline in my head to start with, but once I start writing I let the plot take me where it will.  Sometimes the book ends up entirely different to how I had envisioned it to start with!


What part of the world do you live in?


I live in a lovely village in the East of England, UK.  Sometimes it feels as though time has stood still, and it’s a far cry from the younger life I led in London.  However, now I’m middle-aged I prefer it; if I’m out walking, people smile and say hello to me (you won’t get that in London!).


If you had to co-author a book, who would be your ideal partner and why?


After I had read a few of Mark Edwards’ psychological thrillers, which is my all-time favourite genre, I would love to work on a book with him.  He writes the words and has the plots which I like to read.


How long does it typically take for you to write your first draft?


About three months.  I edit and re-write as I go. I’m not one for re-writing the whole novel when I’ve finished; I would find that too depressing.  I’ll read it through a few times, check spellings, change some words and add chapters here and there, but that’s as far as it goes.  Once I’ve finished there’s no way I’m writing the whole darned thing again!


What are your favourite books?


I have my all-time favourites from my youth that are my comfort blankets; L.P Hartley’s ‘The Go-Between’, A.J Cronin’s ‘The Keys of the Kingdom’, and Mario Puzo’s ‘The Godfather’.  I know the last one doesn’t really gel with the other two, but it’s the family life I like reading about, not the violence….


What writing tools do you use, if any?


Just my PC and keyboard.  I will happily tap away until the day comes when I cannot tap any more.


If you could have one superpower, what would it be?


The ability to turn back time, and return to being 20 years of age and know what I know now.  Ha ha (say no more)!


The Daughter-in-law Syndrome has just been accepted for publication with Second Wind Publishing.  It delves into the complicated relationship that is causing much friction between Grandmother Edna Deane and her daughter-in-law Arla.  In addition it focuses on the sometimes tumultuous partnership between Arla and her husband Ric.




Arla Deane sometimes likens her marriage to undergoing daily psychological warfare.  Husband Ric will never voice an opinion, and puts his mother Edna up high on a pedestal. Arla is sick of always feeling that she comes in at only second best to her mother-in-law, who much to Arla’s fury is never told anything by Ric or his sisters that she would not want to hear.  


This novel explores the husband/wife, mother/son, and mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships.  After twenty eight years of marriage, Arla, the daughter-in-law, is at the end of her tether and persuades a reluctant Ric to accompany her for marriage guidance. As they look back over their lives with Counsellor Toni Beecher, Arla slowly comes to realise her own failings, and eventually discovers the long-hidden reason why Ric will never utter a cross word to his mother.


Also, adding to Arla’s stress is the fact that her son Stuart will soon be marrying Ria, a girl whom Arla feels is just looking for a free ride.  Arla is convinced that Ria will be no asset to Stuart at all; her new daughter-in-law just wants to be a mother and has no intention of ever working again once the babies start to arrive.  After visiting Stuart and Ria for Sunday lunch, Arla is convinced that her son is making the biggest mistake of his life…..





5 stars.  "The best yet"

A wonderful journey across one woman's understanding between herself and her in-laws. The way she finds out the intricacies of her relationship with her mother-in-law is cleverly done, with clear insights into the past and observing her own behaviour with her family around her. Well-written, the best I've read yet from Stevie Turner.


To pre-order a copy, please leave a message on Stevie's website or contact Second Wind Publishing (details below):


‪  (Stevie's website)


‪ (publisher)


‪ (Facebook)


‪ (WordPress blog)


‪ (Twitter)



P.J. MacLayne is a computer geek by day and a writer by night. She grew up among the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and uses that as the setting for many of her stories. She currently makes her home in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.


What inspired you to write this book?


The Marquesa's Necklace, Book 1 of the Oak Grove Mysteries, started as the tail end of a dream. I don’t remember the beginning of the dream, but the end is the beginning of the book. Originally Eli, my hero, was a ghost and the book was titled “The Ghost Who Loved Me,” but my characters wouldn’t stand for it. Eli soon convinced me he was alive and well. I still think there's a book to be written with the old title. I just haven't stumbled across the storyline yet.


If you had to co-author a book, who would be your ideal partner and why?


This is a tough one. I've had the opportunity to interact with some great writers on line, but if I was going to co-write a book I'd like to work with someone face-to-face. So I'm going to take a leap and Cornelia Amiri. I've had the opportunity to do some critiquing for her. Although we write in very different styles, I think we could work well together and balance out each other's skills and faults.


Tell me a little bit about yourself.


I just recently became a grandmother! The little one arrived two months early, but is doing fine. In the week after he was home, while I was at my daughter's helping out, I was able to see his personality developing.

I actually have other creative outlets besides writing- I do needlepoint and embroidery. In fact, I was embroidering a baby quilt for the grandson and had to set aside my writing and spend all my time getting the blanket done so it was ready for him when he came home. It was continuing a tradition because I made one for each of my children when they were born.


What do you do for a living?


I had a variety of careers before I found myself where I am now. In my latest incarnation, I’m a computer geek. I’ve gone through a variety of computer related jobs, and my current job is tied to security. And I can’t tell you much more than that—because security, you know. But the variety of jobs has exposed me to a large range of people, and I can draw from my varied experiences for my characters.


What part of the world do you live in?


I live in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. If I had my druthers, I’d find a cabin somewhere in the mountains to spend most of my time in, but there’s this little thing called a “real job” that requires me to stay where I am—at least until I win the lottery or one of my books hits the big time.


How long have you been writing?


If I told you that you’d know how old I was, so I’m not telling. Let’s just say I made the switch from poetry to writing fiction about five years ago, and I’m still having fun. I haven’t run out of stories I want to tell. In fact, I’m getting ready to release the next book in the Oak Grove series — probably at the end of April. That book is titled “Her Ladyship’s Ring.” I need to do some more editing before I share it with the world.


What is your writing process like? Are you a pantster, a plotter, or somewhere in between?


I’m definitely a pantster. I start off with a general concept, and maybe a subplot, but I let my characters tell me the story as I’m writing it. Does that make me a transcriptionist instead of a writer? I do have to nudge my characters sometimes when they aren’t talking to me. Threaten them with taking the story the way I want it to go if they don’t start talking to me. That usually solves the problem. I didn't have that problem with “The Marquesa's Necklace,” in fact, just the opposite. There were several times the words were coming faster than I could type them out.


When and where do you write?


I do most of my writing at nights and on the weekends, although I find myself planning the next couple of paragraphs in odd moments when I’m at work. Sometimes I even sneak in some writing at lunch. Just between you and me, if I'm into a really exciting part of the story, I've been known to scribble notes while I'm taking part in a boring on-line meeting. Don't tell my boss.


What sorts of conditions are most conducive to productivity?


For my best productivity, I need to be alone and listening to music. I’ve tried sitting with my husband and working from my laptop while he watches TV, but it’s too distracting. I can do editing in the same situation, but for writing my first draft, it doesn’t work. The type of music I listen to depends upon my mood, but classic rock is my fallback genre.


What's your favorite aspect of being a writer?


Writing “The End” at the end of the story. Even though I know I’ll need to go back and edit the heck out of what I’ve written, I get a lot of satisfaction from completing that first draft. And I’m a sucker for a happy ending, so it makes me happy to finally see my characters happy after all the trouble I’ve put them through. In fact, I’ve found myself talking to my main characters, assuring them it’s going to get better as I write them into yet another sticky situation.


Your least favorite?


Publicity. I’m a private person and I have a hard time asking people to buy my book. It feels like I’m asking them for money. And the time I spend on publicity I could be spending writing the next book! However, I want people to read my books, and that means I have to put myself out there to get my books in front of potential readers. Even answering some of the more personal questions in this interview is hard for me.


What are the biggest challenges you face as a writer?


Procrastination. I wrote my earliest books out longhand. Yep, on paper. (Those books are unpublished but maybe one day I'll revisit them and see what I can do to clean them up.) But now that I sit in front of a computer and write, it’s far to easy to get distracted by the internet and put off that next paragraph I know will be tough to write.


Who are some of your favorite writers and why?


There are so many good ones that I feel guilty naming any. I love Jenna Bennett and her Cutthroat Business mysteries. They may have, to some degree, inspired me to make a series out of The Marquesa's Necklace. And I enjoy Terry Odell's book, especially the Blackthorne mysteries. She's another writer living in the Rocky Mountains, so I feel like I should support her although we've never met. Then there's L.j. Charles and her Everly Gray adventures. The scenario that the overall series is based on is so unique and she does such a good job of surprising the reader throughout the whole series that you can't help but stay involved. In fact, I need to check and see if the next book is available yet. And there's so many writers I've had the pleasure of meeting on-line, and my budget can't stretch far enough to buy all the books I'd like to check out.


What are your favorite books?


I love the Dragonrider series by Anne McCaffrey and The Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey because of their strong female characters. But I also enjoy the Longmire series by Craig Johnson. I read his books before the TV series started, and found the differences between the books and the shows interesting. He's a Wyoming writer and his books are set in an area near where I use to live.


What writing tools do you use, if any?


I use whatever I can get my hands on. From paper and pen to Office 2013 to LibraOffice. It just depends upon what I happen to have handy at the moment.


How long does it typically take for you to write your first draft?


I've written a first draft in as little as a month and as long as six months. It all depends upon what else I've got going on. But I feel as if taking longer on my first draft cuts down on the revisions I need to make in my later versions.


Your final draft?


Another five-six months after I've finished my first draft. I know many writers like to set their books aside for awhile after completing the first draft, and I've tried that, but it doesn't work for me. I want to see the story though to completion. I''m frequently working on more than one book at a time so that makes the time frames longer.


Who's your favorite character from one of your books? Why?


Truly, it depends on what book I'm working on at the moment. In my current book, “Her Ladyship's Ring,” I can't decide between Harmony and Jake. Harmony the heroine of the Oak Grove series, a feisty ex-librarian and Jake is her ex-boyfriend who got her into trouble with the law. He's a rogue with a big heart and a smile to match. But he's not as innocent as he appears. I love them both, and enjoyed writing their interactions.


If you could have one superpower what would it be?


Healing. I would love to be able to relieve people of their pain. Modern medicine has made great strides, but it can't fix everything.


About The Marquesa's Necklace


Harmony Duprie enjoyed her well-ordered life in the quiet little town of Oak Grove—until her arrest for drug trafficking. Cleared of all charges, she wants nothing more than to return to the uneventful lifestyle of a historical researcher she once savored.

But when her beloved old car “George” is stolen and explodes into a ball of flames, it sets off a series of events that throws her plans into turmoil. Toss in a police detective that may or may not be interested in her, an attractive but mysterious stranger on her trail, and an ex-boyfriend doing time, and Harmony’s life freefalls into a downward spiral of chaos.


Now she has to use her research skills to figure out who is behind the sinister incidents plaguing her, and why. And she better take it seriously, like her life depends upon finding the right answers


Because it might.



And here's an excerpt:


Officer Felton left me in the barely-furnished lobby. It was a place you don’t want to stay in too long—several hard plastic chairs, a beat-up fake wood end table and a few old magazines scattered about. It smelled like stale cigarettes, and appeared not to have been cleaned for weeks. I perched on the edge of a chair and put my hands between my knees to keep from touching anything. Thankfully, it was only moments until Detective Thomason appeared. I gave him the once over—brown hair still cut short—check. Glasses hiding those dark brown eyes—check. His shirt rumpled and in need of an iron—check. No wedding band in his finger—check. Yep, nothing had changed.

As I stood, his eyes wandered from my face down to my shoes. The corners of his lips curled upward, but I wouldn’t say that he smiled. A smile would have looked odd on his normally grim face.


“If you would come with me, please?” he said.


He even put the please in there, unlike our previous encounters. Of course, those times, I had been either in booking or in one of the interrogation chambers. I know, I know, they’re interview rooms. Whatever. I followed him through a maze of desks and hallways and into a small but comfortable office, my heels clicking on the tile floor.

I’d never noticed before what a nice behind he had. I wondered if it was just the pants he was wearing, or if I’d just not looked before, having other things on my mind. Like calling a lawyer.


“Have a seat, please,” he said, indicating an armless office chair—at least its seat was padded. He sat on the other side of a desk covered with an assortment of files and paperwork, and picked up a file from the top of the stack.


“Harmony,” he said tentatively.


“Detective Thomason,” He might be trying to be friendly, but I still hadn’t forgiven him for arresting me.


He cleared his throat, and set the file back on his desk. “Did you let anyone borrow your car today?” he asked.


“No, my keys are right here.” I started digging through the contents of my purse.


“I’ll take your word for it,” he said, after I pulled out my checkbook, a packet of pink tissues, and a paperback with an almost-naked man on the front cover and piled them on the corner of his desk. His mouth twitched.


“Have you made any new enemies recently, Miss Duprie?” I guess he got my message about the terms of our relationship.


“Besides a certain insufferable cop?”


Even in the artificial fluorescent light, I saw the red rising in his cheeks. I could almost hear him counting to ten as I pretended to consider the question.


“I think Larry, the florist, is ticked off that I’m not receiving flowers anymore. And Bart at the grocery store yelled at me last week when I went through the ten items or less line with fourteen items. But what does that have to do with someone stealing and wrecking my car?”


He took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and exhaled. “Bear with me a moment. Did you go anywhere today?”


I couldn’t figure out where this line of questioning was going, but I answered anyway.



“No, I woke up with a killer headache, realized it was going to rain, and decided to stay home and work.”


“And when was the last time you saw your car?”


“This morning. I planned to go to the library, but it started to storm as I was leaving. Why?”


He swiveled his chair so he was facing away from me. I fidgeted in my suddenly uncomfortable seat and waited. He turned back around and leaned forward with his forearms on his desk. “Your headache may have saved your life. We’ve asked for help from the state police to verify our theory, but our preliminary investigation and accounts from a few eyewitnesses indicate your car exploded.” Sitting back and rubbing his forehead, he added. “A tall man in a brown suit was seen in the vicinity.”


I sputtered. “What do you mean my car exploded?”


“In a fireball. Burnt to a crisp. If you had been in the vehicle, you'd be dead.”


The Marquesa's Necklace is for sale at major ebook retailers and is also available in paperback.


P.J. can be contacted at Facebook:

And on Twitter

And on TSU

And on her blog:






To get through these cold, snowy winter nights, there's nothing better than curling up by the woodstove with a nice cozy mystery, which is just what I did with THE MARQUESA'S NECKLACE. It didn't disappoint.


What a fun read! Harmony Duprie, the main character, (and I absolutely love that name) leapt off the page with her intelligence and wry sense of humor. She's an independent woman who, for a living, does research for writers. The men in her life are quite unique. There's the mysterious "ghost" she encounters at the library, an amorous detective who has the distinction of once being her arresting officer, and a former lover, now in prison.


Despite that color, her life seems to be moving along rather smoothly, but then, out of the blue, someone blows up her car! From that point on you cannot put this book down. Full of quirky characters and unexpected twists and turns, this is one of the best of this genre I have read in a long time. MacLayne's writing is crisp and clean and I can't wait for another Harmony Duprie mystery to appear on my bookshelf. Highly recommended.




Review: DEMON'S TOUCH by Jennifer Loiske


I’ve been waiting with some measure of anticipation for this second novel in Ms. Loiske’s McLean Twins’ Series. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. It is a wonderful and enchanting follow-up to the first book, Black Diamond (see my 5-Star review, 5/30/14,


I’m going to try not to give much away here about either book since the most fun in reading is about discovery. I will say that this tale picks up where Black Diamond left off with the twins, Shannon and Ian, and their faithful friend, Simon, off on a quest they hope will aid their father who is in deep magical doo-doo! They journey to the home of a woman named Elowen whom they believe is a powerful witch who can teach them the magical spells they need in order to secure their father’s release.


However, the twins, being teenagers, have a somewhat misguided sense of invulnerability and are oft-times impulsive and reckless with their own magical abilities. This can result in some pretty dire consequences for the folks around them, as you will see when you read the book.


Demon’s Touch is a fast-paced read and you will have difficulty putting it down! It is full of wonderfully eccentric characters, spells, magic, witches, and the angst of growing up. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I did its predecessor, and would encourage you to read both of them. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series!


While the series is targeted at young adults and teens, it, like the Harry Potter books, is fun for all ages and I can recommend it to you most highly.




Review: MAGE BLOOD by Janet Morris


WOW, this was a real treat! Unlike many of the fantasy novels you read today, this Sacred Band Tale is steeped in ancient mythology, both tantalizingly beautiful and brutally savage. The story is populated by a fascinating cast of witches, mages, epic warriors, and Gods, each with his or her own motivations and agendas.


In this brief tale, we are introduced to some of the main characters in the Sacred Band Series. The story begins with Roxane, the witch, who, morphing into eagle form, flies back to Wizardwall, a land of dark sorcery and home of the archmage, Datan. Roxane is as beautiful and seductive as she is bloody. We also meet Tempus, aka "The Riddler", an epic warrior and his companion, Jihan, Froth Daughter of Enlil, who has newly taken on human form. They are journeying to do battle with Datan and the forces of magic in a land already ravaged by war. Into this mix comes a boy, Shamshi, son of Datan and a mortal woman, in whom mage-like powers have yet to be awakened as well as another warrior and companion of Tempus, Nico, who Roxane plans to seduce and conquer.


This is truly an epic drama. The writing is masterful and the imagery is magnificent with exquisite attention to detail. If you are a fan of Homer and Greek or Roman mythology, a fantasy freak, or just like plain good writing, then you will love this book and, from this reader, it comes most highly recommended.




Review of PARK TROT by C. L. Heckman


Let me say at the outset that I am not a "horse person" nor do I know anything about the world of show horses. So, why, you might ask, did I purchase this book? I did it quite simply because of the author. Some time back, on a whim, I picked up C. L. Heckman's debut novel, Charlie's Pond and once I started reading could not put it down until the final "The End". So, I wanted to see what she was up to here with Park Trot. I was not disappointed.


From the first page, I was hooked. Heckman writes with such clarity it was easy to become wrapped up in this wonderful coming-of-age tale. The lead character, Lynn, is a young woman who loves horses but lacks the confidence needed to believe that she could ever succeed in the show ring. Through Heckman's masterful prose, the reader gets to join this young woman on her journey to discover the courage and maturity that lie deep within her.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it most highly to teens, young adults, and adults alike. It is a wonderful read!




Did you know there are some 4,600 islands off the coast of Maine? Many of these are uninhabited and remain unconnected to the mainland, but some, like my imaginary Mateguas, boast year-round populations.




In Casco Bay, near Portland, there are five such islands. Great Chebeague Island, a place I was lucky enough to call ‘home’ for almost seven years, is the largest of these. It was while living there, in my 100+ year old house on a hill, that I wrote Mateguas Island using the island’s unique characteristics as a backdrop for the novel.


Great Chebeague Island is approximately five miles long and one mile wide and is the largest unconnected island in Casco Bay. The name “Chebeague” comes from a Native American word meaning “many springs” and, indeed, there were still some Native Americans present on the island as late as the European colonization of the area in the 1870′s. However, unlike my fictional island, the Native Americans did not live on Chebeague – they only paddled over in their canoes to fish its fertile waters.


 CTC's The Islander


Access for most of the islanders today is by ferry. Casco Bay Lines, headquartered in Portland, provides transportation to the islands, however, most residents of Chebeague take a smaller ferry, maintained by their own Chebeague Transportation Company (CTC).


While the description of the boat to Mateguas Island is based on this ferry, the real CTC boat is much more comfortable and does not take residents directly into to the city. Rather, it takes them to one of two parking lots it maintains for residents and visitors and it is there that you will find Chebeaguers' “mainland cars”. Like the year-round populace of Mateguas, Cheabeagers can be seen toting numerous canvas bags and pulling rolling carts as they travel to and from the mainland for groceries and other daily necessities of life.


Picture taken from the Stone Wharf on Chebeague


But not all residents take the ferry. Like Dex and Maggie in Mateguas Island, many of the year-rounders have their own punts that carry them back and forth the mainland from late spring through fall. However, during the winter months, only the very hardy venture forth in these tiny boats and most of the islanders rely on CTC’s service to get to and from town.


There are only approximately 350 year-round residents on Chebeague. Many of these families have been there for generations and there is a strong and abiding sense of community among these hardy folk. While all of my characters are completely fictional and not based in any way on any real islanders, I like to think that my minor characters, Louise and Pete, depict the hard-working, generous-spirited residents of Chebeague as they try to assist the Andersens and acclimate them to island life.



The economic life of Chebeague revolves around fishing – mainly for lobster – and tourism. Unfortunately, a short season for lobstering and low prices have made this once lucrative occupation harder to maintain, creating a hardship for many of the islanders. My Mateguas fisherman, Dex, appears to be doing quite well, however, remember, my work is fiction and the plight of the lobster industry in Maine is dire and very disturbing.


Chebeague Island in winter


Like on Mateguas, the amenities are few on the real island and these include a small post office, a boatyard, a church, a library, an elementary school, and a museum maintained by the local historical society. For shopping there is a small grocery, the Island Market, and other quaint establishments that cater to the summer trade. These (most notably The Niblic and Island Riches) are only open mainly during the ”season”.


View from the Chebeague Island Inn


For dining out and entertainment there are several venues, most notably the Clam Shack (mainly a take-out), The Slow Bell, and the Chebeague Island Inn. These establishments are, for the most part, only open during the summer months, although last year the Slo Bell opened up for a couple of evenings a week in the wintertime.


Fine dining can be had at the Chebeague Island Inn and this hotel was the model for the inn where my characters, Karen and Dex have their delicious gourmet lunch. The real Inn serves as a destination resort and I have spent many a wonderful evening there with friends enjoying its convivial atmosphere and fine cuisine.


Great Chebeague Golf Club Clubhouse in Winter


Unlike Mateguas, Chebeague also boasts a 9-hole links-style golf course (Great Chebeague Golf Club) which attracts an amazing number of people during the summer months.



This is a photo of me and one of my dogs on our front lawn on Chebeague. And the photo below is of my 150 year old island home (the interior of which I used as a basis for Bill and Karen's house on Mateguas). And, yes, the cellar was just as bad as I depicted in the novel. Uneven dirt and ledge, it flooded regularly until I had it waterproofed!



I hope you enjoyed this little travelogue as much as I enjoyed sharing my island home with you!




THE MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES: Mythical Creatures and Symbols

The MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES employs the use of many symbols and creatures. The following is a discussion of the most important ones.


The Rabbit



In MATEGUAS ISLAND, Karen, the protagonist, is plagued by strange visions of rabbits and it is a rabbit that first shows her the mysterious trail that leads deep into the woods.


In Abenaki folklore, the rabbit is the symbol of Mateguas, God of the Dead, and this is how that creature is depicted in the novel. However, in other Native American cultures (most notably Algonquin) there is the myth of a Giant Rabbit who was the master of all animals and instructed humans in the arts of hunting and fishing. Like Mateguas, this rabbit spirit taught the tribes their religious rites and schooled them in the interpretation of dreams.[1] In other Algonquin legends, the rabbit is a sly trickster, who could change his shape at will.[2]


Both of these alternative Algonquin interpretations of the rabbit fit nicely in with the storyline of Mateguas and its ability to shape-shift figures prominently in the story.


The Owl


In most Native American cultures the owl is a symbol of death and hearing its hoot is considered an unlucky omen. These majestic birds were believed to carry messages or supernatural warnings to humans who have broken tribal taboos. The owl has also been associated with ghosts and the circles around their eyes are believed to be the fingernails of ghosts.[3]




In MATEGUAS ISLAND, Karen finds herself threatened by owls and in RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND, the owl takes on an even more menacing role.



The Waning Crescent Moon



As elderly islander, Madge Parker, tells Karen, the waning crescent moon is, indeed, called “the old moon” and is believed to symbolize the all knowing. In paganism, this phase of the moon indicates a good time for spells that banish, release and reverse. It is also a time to break bad habits and end bad relationships.[4]


In my tale, I have made this phase of the moon a symbol of Mateguas, God of the Dead which is, indeed, a fiction.



The Lightning Bolt



The lightning bolt has powerful meaning in MATEGUAS ISLAND. In many mythologies, including some Native American, male gods hurl the lightning bolt to fertilize the earth and/or its creatures. The Navajo linked it to the Thunderbird, symbol of salvation and the divine.[5]


In keeping along these lines, Mayan mythology characterizes the lightning bolt as the masculine manifestation of fertilizing energy.[6]



These are the major symbols used in the MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES. My next post will be about the island itself and the 'real' island that Mateguas is modeled after.



[1], 01/02/14

[2], 01/02/14

[3], 01/02/14

[4], 01/02/14

[5], 01/02/14

[6] Barbara Tedlock,”Mayan Shamanism” in Mariko Namba Walter, Eva Jane Neumann Fridman. eds., Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture, Volume 1, (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2004) pp. 431-435.





The homeland of the Abenaki Indians, which they called Ndakinna (our land), once covered most of northern New England, southern Quebec and the southern Canadian Maritimes. Those that settled in Maine were known as the Eastern Abenaki and consisted of such tribes as the Penobscot, Kennebec, Arosaguntacook, Pigwacket and/or Pequawket.[1] The Abenaki have a rich tradition of storytelling and it is from their folklore that two of the spirits depicted in MATEGUAS ISLAND are derived.







Mateguas (also known in Ojibwe as Jiibayaabooz) was, according to Abenaki legend, the ruler of the Land of the Dead. His name means “Spirit Rabbit” or “Ghost of Rabbit”.[1] T ales of the Rabbit in life are filled with portents that are both mystical and spiritual and he was said to have been the first medeoulin (shaman) and founder of the Midewiwin (Grand Medicine Society). [2] He is the shaman from whom all other shamans are descended.


THE MSKAGAWDEMOS (Muh-skog-day-moose)


The Mskagawdemos is a swamp woman or hag who appears in many Native American legends, including the Abenaki. She is portrayed as a ghost who lives in swamps and uses mournful cries for help to lure victims to her. Anyone who answers her will be lost in the swamp and/or killed. According to some tales she is a malevolent spirit luring children to her so she can eat them. However, other myths paint her as the ghost of a childless woman enticing the little ones to her out of loneliness only to have them die when she touches them.[3] As for her physical description, most of what I used in MATEGUAS ISLAND comes from legend, however, I have made some alterations, possibly depicting her as more menacing than as described in the literature.





In RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND, we are introduced to two additional Abenaki deities, Glooskap and Malsumis. These spirits are twin brothers and are the sons of Tabaldak (The Owner) who created them from the dust of his body. Representing the duality of nature, Glooskap personifies all that is good in the world, while Malsumis’ only desire is to bring pain and suffering. Malsumis' totem is the wolf.


In addition to these Abenaki mythical beings, there are also many symbols used in the Mateguas Island Series. I will discuss these in a future post.



 [1] Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, (Sept 2013)

[2] Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, (Sept 2013)

[3] Native Languages of the Americas, (October 2013)



Great New 5-Star Review of RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND!

5.0 out of 5 stars

A brilliant read, totally worth the wait!

January 4, 2015
By jan raymond
Verified Purchase

This review is from: RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND: A Tale of Supernatural Suspense (Kindle Edition)

What can I say? I really don’t know where to begin. Mateguas Island, the first book in the series was the best book I read last year. And, I did a lot of reading. I like horror and supernatural genres and maybe I am biased, but unless it is well written it doesn’t hold my attention. This one did and oh! so well. I’ve been waiting for the release of the second book in the series for ever so long, and it has been totally worth the wait. Though you should certainly read the series, the author’s books can be stand alone reads too.


I hate giving spoilers, so I’ll skim over the parts I liked, hopefully without giving much away. The cast of characters is the same, though each one has matured in their own way. As the title says, they are returning to Mateguas and if anyone who read the first book will remember, Linda Watkins left us hanging with that last page … Maggie, who is pregnant. So, the stage is all set for totally supernatural tale.


As usual, the characters are well developed and delight you. There is intrigue in almost every page and the suspense is apt to kill you. And, as usual, the author has left us in suspense, because you know there’s more to come. Waiting for the next book will be frustrating, so maybe I’ll just go back and read the first two again. Brilliant job, Linda Watkins. Thank you for an amazing read!


5-STAR Review of RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND by blogger, Jeff Wallace


Return to Mateguas Island: a tale of supernatural suspense by Linda Watkins is the second spine tingling book in her Mateguas Island trilogy. The battle that started in the first thrilling book continues but this time the stakes are higher. This time Karen is not only battling for her family but for the future of mankind. Luckily for her she won't have to make the stand alone as she receives some help from unsuspected places.

This time it is twins Sophie and Terri that are determined to find out what happened that day 10 years ago when their dad disappeared. It is not long before they are transporting us, along with their mom and step-dad, back to that little Island of the coast of Maine. Soon after arriving we find ourselves back on the thrilling roller-coaster ride we experienced in the previous book. This time around there are more characters, twists, and clues that take us even deeper into this mystical realm that plagues the swamp, surrounding property and those that live there. With each page you will find yourself drawn in so deep that you find your heart pounding as you experience these terrifying supernatural events that haunt both Karen and her daughter Terri.

Ms. Watkins does a great job creating an air of mystery around some of characters to make us guess at to just what part they play in the struggle about to unfold. A good example of this was when close to the end of the first book when we find out Maggie is pregnant with Bill's child and the mysterious time lapse she experiences. Then, some of the things that come out in her thoughts further make us wonder what role she will play and will it be for good or evil.

I would recommend this book for anyone that likes folk lore, supernatural stories, mysteries or want to relive that feeling of when you were younger and would tell scary stories around the campfire.




This is the second Jana Petken novel I've read and I was not disappointed. Her debut work, Guardian of the Secrets, is an outstanding read and she has followed it up with yet another, in Dark Shadows (The Mercy Carver Series, Book I).


The novel begins on the day Mercy is born in a poor section of 1800's London. She grows to be a striking young lady but is doomed to an arranged marriage to an older and extremely unattractive man. Seeking just one day of freedom before she weds, she ventures out of her impoverished neighborhood into greater London only be become the unwilling victim of sadistic scoundrels. What happens next, I'll let you discover on your own when you read the book and I can assure you, you will not be able to put it down!


Ms. Petken draws the reader in from page one and does not let go. Her meticulous attention to detail and marvelously descriptive writing, transports the reader back to a distant time and place. Her characters are deftly drawn and it is impossible not to find oneself thoroughly invested in discovering Mercy Carver's fate.


Dark Shadows, the first book in the Mercy Carver series, is a compelling read and one I will not soon forget. I can recommend it most highly for any who enjoy historical fiction, romance, and a real page-turner!



Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers' Favorite


When Karen Pierce returns to the island, the sleeping spirits reawaken and strange things begin to happen again in Return to Mateguas Island: A Tale of Supernatural Suspense by Linda Watkins. Reluctantly accompanying her twin daughters and her husband to the Island where there are hidden memories, Karen is quickly caught up in the swirl of supernatural events that threaten to affect everyone around her. Terri and Sophie want to investigate the circumstances of their father’s disappearance 10 years earlier, but stir up forces that would have been better left alone. Unfortunately, one of the twins has inherited her mother’s connection to the spirits and is pulled into a mystery that nearly scares her to death. Secrets build up, tearing some relationships apart, but some new connections are created that provide Terri with the strength she needs to complete a mission and preserve the natural balance of things. Will the tragedies of the past be repeated or can the demands of the ancient god of the dead be satisfied and the chain of loss broken?


Linda Watkins brings readers back to a picturesque Maine island in Return to Mateguas Island: A Tale of Supernatural Suspense. This is a quick-paced story portraying a wide range of human emotions, deadly supernatural forces and ancient Native American beliefs that may help the characters survive the ordeal in store. It explores the depths of love and loss, dedication and defiance, innocence and desire - all in spite of the threat of losing everything. This is supernatural fiction at its best with a hint of coming-of-age enlightenment to appeal to younger readers as well as readers of all ages.