Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Hooks - The Perfect Pitch - #MFRWHooks, #MFRWAuthor

Book Hooks is a weekly meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog. It's a chance each week for you the reader to discover current WIP or previously published book by possibly new to you authors.

The Perfect Pitch is book 1 in the Seaside Boulevard Series.

     Francine and Richie Ragglio are high school sweethearts. Francine owns her own real estate business and Richie pitches for the New York Pelicans. Richie hurts his shoulder while pitching the first game of the season, not the way he wants to end his career. When Francine is left an abandoned restaurant from someone from her past, things begin to spiral out of control. The mystery of a hidden basement brings Francine and her friends together to do their own investigation, which puts them in the middle of a smuggling ring.
     Will Richie's get through his surgery so he can retire on top of his game? And will Francine and her friends solve the mystery of the hidden basement?

Francine went along with the laugh. No way would she try to explain to them what they were up to. As far as Francine was concerned, they were just appeasing Toni. If the basement had been closed, then there would have been another blueprint in the book. Or maybe Marvin closed it up and never bothered to change the blueprints, so he didn’t have to hire an architect and file permits. He might have said screw it in order to save money.

Francine walked out the backdoor and there was Amy along with Toni on their hands and knees, pushing grass with their hands off the concrete.

“Well if it isn’t the Nancy Drew dream team.” Francine laughed, resting her hands on her hips.

“Are you going to help us or are you going to stand there watching?” Toni asked.

“I’m going to help you. But I think before we go crazy, we take another trip down to City Hall to see if there is another blueprint beside the two of them.”

“Just keep looking,” Toni snapped. “I went through the book twice.”

“Okay, I believe you,” Francine said. “I didn’t mean to agitate you.”

“I think the opening has to be over here somewhere,” Amy said, pointing to the metal tape measure. “I’ve followed the dimensions on the blueprint to a ‘T.’ If I calculated right, the opening should be right around here.”

Francine dropped to her knees. She joined Amy and Toni in pulling the overgrown weeds and grass off the back of the building, exposing the concrete foundation.

“We’re going to have to dig some of the dirt away from the building,” Amy concluded.

“I think we should take another look at this.” Francine stood, shaking her right leg that had become stiff. “I’m going to grab the shovels. Using my hands isn’t cutting it.”

“I agree with her.” Amy stood. “I’m thinking something is here. A basement just doesn’t disappear.”

Francine handed Amy and Toni a shovel. Immediately, Francine and Amy began, while Toni tapped her shovel around the area. As she shoveled, Francine kept her eyes on Toni who seemed to be on a mission of her own.

“What’s she up to?” Francine asked, nudging Amy.

“I don’t know. She didn’t say a word to me.”

“I’m going to keep digging.” After digging a foot down and six feet wide, Francine finally was able to see the difference in the concrete. The smooth concrete had turned into unleveled bricks held together sloppily by cement.

“Hey, I found something here,” Francine called out.

“Where?” Amy asked.

“So have I,” Toni said.

Francine leaned her shovel against the side of the building. “What did you find?” she asked walking with Amy toward her.

“I’m not sure if it’s anything. But listen.” Toni banged the shovel two feet behind her to the dirt and then three feet in front of her. “I hear an echo. Do you?”

“Do it again,” Amy ordered.

Toni tapped her shovel again in front of her and behind her. The sound was different. But how could it be? Francine thought.

Toni lifted her shovel. “Let’s dig over here.”

All three women started digging. After a few minutes, they hit something hard. They dropped to their knees and used their hands to move the dirt, to reveal a metal plate with a big thick round metal handle.

“I knew there was something fishy about those blueprints,” Toni gloated.

“What should we do now?” Amy asked standing.

“Open it, see what is under the door,” Francine said.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Book Hooks - Drama Club Chaos #MFRWhooks, #MFRWAuthor

Book Hooks is a weekly meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog. It's a chance each week for you the reader to discover current WIP or previously published book by possibly new to you authors.
Dram Club Chaos is the third book in the Cookie Cutter Cozy Mystery Series. 

All is quiet at the fifty-five and older community where Connie Acosta is running her illegal bakery out of best friend Sara Mazza's garage. Both women swore off getting involved in any police business at the compound. Just as the two amateur sleuths are enjoying a night out in the clubhouse ballroom, a scream from the lounge draws them into the middle of a police investigation with Warren and Brett, their current partners. Who said seniors can't get into trouble and fall in love again.


“Come on, Connie,” Sara said, grabbing her arm. “It’s disco time.” She pushed Jack toward Vic. “We’ll be right back.”
       Connie got lost in the music. There were so many memories attached to these songs. She could recite the title, artist’s name and year it was released. That’s how much she loved the music. The DJ played five disco songs in a row and then immediately cleared the dance floor when he played a country western song.
       “What is it with this DJ? I’m totally over this,” Sara said, walking over to the table.
       “I got us some snacks from the kitchen,” Jack said. “I have a tray of cheese and crackers that I forgot at home. Do you want me to go get it?”
       “You don’t need to.” Sara ran her hand up his thigh. “Sit tight––”
       Connie watched their playful exchange, as did the woman sitting next to Jack. Jack smiled, slid out of his seat and walked over to Vic.
       “Sara! People can see you. Behave,” Connie warned.
       “Don’t tell me you are talking about these people here.”
       “I am. I hear the way they talk about Lizzy, calling her an old whore. These women get really graphic.”
       “Without a doubt. They have nothing else to do than to watch what other people are doing. If you pay close attention to the house across the street from us, you can see Lucy peeking through the blinds over here,” Sara said.
       “Now how would you know that unless you’re doing the same thing?”
       Sara’s cheeks turned red. “Okay, you got me. I’m just making sure no one is getting too close to the house. The last thing we need is for someone to find out we’re running an illegal bakery in the garage.”
       “You’re right. That’s why we have to watch what we say and who we get friendly with.”
       “You’re always one step ahead––”
       “What are you two whispering about now?” Vic asked with Jack standing next to him, shaking his head.
       Before Connie or Sara could answer them, the DJ slowed the music down. Vic took Connie’s hand and led her out onto the dance floor.
       “I have to ask. Why didn’t you tell me you were coming tonight?” Vic asked, holding her in his arms.
       “Because most of the time Sara and I are on the dance floor. Sorry I didn’t mention it. Don’t be upset.”
       “I’m not. I like spending time with you and enjoy watching you have fun.”
       “You’re really different. I’ve never met anyone like you,” Connie said.
       “I can say the same thing, but I’d be lying. I was with my ex since we were kids. We were married almost thirty-two years when she served me with divorce papers. But that’s in the past,” Vic said. “You’re my future.”
       Vic’s words echoed in her mind. Connie liked him, but wasn’t ready to start any kind of serious relationship. Since they met, their relationship was casual and Connie liked how things were. She was looking for companionship, nothing more.
       Connie wanted to say, “Slow down cowboy,” but instead said, “Vic you’re jumping ahead of things. I like things the way they are. Let’s take it one day at a time and enjoy the night.”
       It was as if the DJ read her mind as he played another slow song. Connie took a step back to gaze at Vic. She smiled. “Another slow one.”
       “Shall we?” he asked, extending his hand.
       “Absolutely.” She slid her hand into his. How’d you learn to waltz?”
       “I took dance lessons before my daughter got married.”
       “Of course. I’m sure you danced to Daddy’s Little Girl.”
       “What father doesn’t?”
       “You’d be surprised.”
       Vic placed his hands on her waist, pulling her closer to him. The dance floor was crowded as the DJ played another slow song. Connie relaxed in his arms, feeling his breath on her cheeks. Vic gave the impression that he was serious about her. It seemed that he was always bringing up subjects relating to marriage and how he felt content whenever he was around her.
       “I can hold you like this all night. Sorry I don’t know any disco moves,” Vic said.
       “You don’t give me the impression that you were the disco king back in the day.”
       “You’re right. I wasn’t. I always leaned toward country western music.”
       “Not me. I was the disco queen.”
       “Hmm. Us Jersey boys had a label for you gals.”
       “Not me. I was already with my husband. No playing mind games with the guys from me.”
       Vic stared into her eyes. “You have put me under a serious spell.”
       He lifted her chin with his finger. Just as their lips met, the shrill of a woman’s voice was heard over the music. After another scream, the music stopped and the room went silent. This time the words, “Oh my God, she’s dead,” echoed throughout the room.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Book Hooks - Chaos at the Compound - #MFRWhooks, MFRWAuthor

Book Hooks is a weekly meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog. It's a chance each week for you the reader to discover current WIP or previously published book by possibly new to you authors.

 Chaos at the Compound is the second book in the Cookie Cutter Cozy Mystery Series. 


Connie Acosta is officially a resident in the fifty-five and older community her best friend Sara Mazza lives in. Her baker's kitchen is almost complete and she has met Vic, another resident who is crazy about her. Meanwhile, Sara finds herself in the mist of a love triangle with Vic's friend Jack and Warren, a police officer at the local station.
When Sara received a call from her friend at the clubhouse saying there is a dead body floating in the outdoor pool, the women rush there to check things out, getting themselves involved in another investigation, especially when Sara finds a few blue pills scattered in the grass that she didn't turn into the police.
Who said seniors can't get into trouble and fall in love again.

After a long cold snowy winter and a chilly spring, the clear blue sky and warm weather of late spring brought all the residents back from their winter homes. The leaves popped out on the trees just like the snow had on the branches. Flowers of different colors began sprouting out throughout the community, just waiting for the deer to find them. Bunnies and chipmunks came out of hibernation and were out every morning like clockwork, searching for food.

       Connie Acosta walked out onto the deck with her cup of coffee, taking all of it in. Watching the bunnies hopping around the back in full sight was one of nature’s delights and this morning was no different. Since moving in with her best friend Sara Mazza, her life had turned around. Her divorce was final and she had to decide on what to do with her house on Staten Island. Maybe now was the time for her to sell her house and buy her own place in the community.

       “Good morning.” Sara walked onto the deck and sat across from Connie. “It feels like summer.”

       “I know and I’m loving it. The best part is how quiet it is here. It makes my thinking become so much clearer.” Connie sipped her coffee. “That’s why I’m contemplating that maybe it’s time for me to find my own house, giving you back your privacy.”

       Sara stood. “No. I won’t hear of it. We have our business to build. There’s no time to start packing and unpacking. I think what we need to do is transform my house into a workstation for both of us.”

       “And how do you plan on doing that?”

       “My idea is to make the sunroom into my studio. I can put tables around the room to put the platters to dry and buy a worktable to put in the center of the room with storage room on either side for my paints. I saw the table I wanted in an antique store on route nine, and they deliver.”

       “That’s wonderful. It takes care of your workspace, but what about mine. I really need a double oven to get at least two trays in at a time.”

       “And I figured that all out last night.” Sara leaned to her side and took out a piece of paper from her pajama bottoms. She unfolded the paper and placed it on the table for Connie to see.

       Connie lifted the paper off the table to get a closer look at it. “What are you planning to put an extension on the house?”

       “Nope. That’s where the garage comes in to play. If we take half the garage, you can have a big stove and plenty of space to lay out your cookies.”

       “Yeah and freeze my ass off in the middle of the winter.”

       “And I have that all figured out too. My neighbor used to be a contractor. He said we can put a wall up to separate the other half of the garage from the kitchen, and he would insulate and sheetrock, making it into your own kitchen.”

       “When did you have time to talk to your neighbor?”

       Sara laughed. “Last night. He’s always up late because he takes his dog out at one o’clock for the last time before he goes to sleep.”

       “What scares me is that you have your neighbor’s schedule down to a science. I think you’re turning into a true senior citizen.”

       “Never. There are people who live here in their late eighties and bounce around like they are teenagers, so keep your thoughts buried.”

       “Thank God for that.” Connie smiled. “So when do you want to start?”

       “Immediately. I thought we’d have an early dinner, stop at the antique store and then go look at the ovens.”

       “That works. I have an idea of what type of oven I’m looking for. I can’t believe this is going to actually happen. This has been our dream since we were kids.”

       “Dreams do come true.“

       The phone rang. Sara reached into her pajama bottoms and answered. “Hello.”

       Connie watched Sara’s expression change from smiling to her mouth opening wide as she walked back into the house. Connie thought back to her first day she arrived when Sara told her a wild goose chase story about missing pictures in the clubhouse, which mysteriously reappeared. Connie thought it was a joke until she witnessed it with her own eyes. The whole incident helped her to forget about her ex-husband who had humiliated her in front of all her friends, cheating on her, having babies with multiple women, and topped it off by selling enhancement drugs to the kids on the football team in order to win games and championships, putting the players’ health at stake.

        “You’re never going to believe this,” Sara said, closing the screen door behind her and leaning against the deck.

       “Did something happen?” Connie moved her chair into the sun, turning toward Sara.

       “Hannah at the clubhouse just called and told me she just got to work and discovered a body face down in the pool.”

       “No way. I’m assuming the person is dead.”

       “Yes. The police are down there right now investigating. What do you say? Are you in?”

       “And what exactly are we going to do?”

       “We are going to find out who it is and why he’s dead. I can’t believe someone would jump into the pool and drown in three feet of water.”


Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Book Hooks - New Beginnings #MFRWhooks, #WFRWAuthor

Book Hooks is a weekly meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog. It's a chance each week for you the reader to discover current WIP or previously published book by possibly new to you authors.

 New Beginnings is the first book in the Cookie Cutter Cozy Mystery Series. 


 After a traumatic event in her life, Connie Acosta heads down to the Jersey Shore to stay with her friend, Sara Mazza, who lives in a fifty-five and over community. For Connie, this is a temporary stop until she figures out what she wants to do.

Connie and Sara have a brief discussion and decide to start the baking business they had spoken about decades before. But things take a dramatic turn when Sara gets Connie involved in a mysterious adventure at the clubhouse.


It was the perfect day for a pep rally. The sky was blue with clouds scattered toward the east. Connie Acosta couldn’t believe how warm the weather was for a fall day. Usually at the first pep rally of the school year, she always stood on the sidelines in a bulky sweater. But this year was different. For the beginning of October the temperatures were still in the seventies, a treat for suburban mothers in Staten Island, New York. Standing out in the cold had never been her forte.

All the teachers were already standing on the sidelines when she arrived. She had just run a few errands for her husband, Teddy, who was the high school football coach, happy to have made it back in time for the start of the pep rally.

“Connie, over here,” Rita, the principal, waved her over.

Connie joined Rita at the platform stage under the goal posts. Up on stage was a podium with a microphone and eight black and red football helmets. Earlier, Teddy had revealed to her that eight of the junior varsity football players were being moved up to the varsity team, which was why she had gone shopping to pick up the gold uniform numbers to give to the new varsity players, a ritual Teddy had done since he took over the team.

“How was your summer?” Rita asked, hugging Connie.
“Great. Teddy and I went down to Florida for two weeks. How about you?”
“I did my usual. Did the summer school stint and then went to California for a week to visit my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.”
“How old is she now?”
“I can’t believe she is already seven. Time goes by so fast.” Rita slid her sunglasses onto the top of her head. “How’s the attorneys?”
“Both my sons are doing well. They opened their own law firm Acosta and Associates and brought their cousin into the firm with them. Unfortunately neither one is close to giving me a grandchild. ”
Rita patted her on the back. “Don’t worry it will eventually happen.”
The music began and the marching band came onto the field playing the school’s song, causing everyone in the stands to stand up and sing along before cheering at the end of the song. As the band played their next song, they got into their position on the opposite sidelines making room for Teddy to jog across the field to the podium. When he past by the faculty, he high-fived each of his colleagues, until he came to her. Teddy gave her a quick hug without exchanging words and continued up to the podium where he stood waiting for the band to finish playing.
“How pumped up is Teddy this year?” Rita asked, leaning into Connie.
“Really pumped. The moment our vacation ended, he had the boys down here practicing everyday.”
“So I heard. I few of the parents thought he was being obsessive with the practicing, but I assured them in the end it pays off. Teddy has won the state championship eight years in a row.”
“That’s my husband. Sometimes I think football is his soul mate.” She laughed.
“Welcome and thank you all for coming out to attend our first pep rally of the school year,” Teddy’s voice echoed through the stadium.
The cheerleaders ran out onto the field with their black and red pompoms, making the students go crazy screaming. They performed a routine and ended it with the girls forming a pyramid with the cheerleader captain standing on top.
“Thank you ladies.”
The girls disengaged and stood in two parallel lines with their pompoms raised above their heads.
“It is my pleasure to introduce the varsity football team,” he spoke, his voice rising through the PA system above the band that began playing again.
The players jogged in one at a time between the cheerleaders. Connie looked up at Teddy who stood watching with a huge smile on his face. She knew how proud he was of his boys. He put a lot of time into making sure the boys were physically fit and kept their grades up. Teddy was a stickler for making sure all the players maintained at least a B average in all their subjects. If they didn’t, they were benched.
Connie couldn’t be any prouder of her husband. Thirty-eight years earlier she stood on this same field cheering for her Teddy, who was a senior, while she only a freshman. She spent her first year of high school dating the high school quarterback, any girl’s dream come true. Teddy went on to college, got his teaching degree in physical education and returned to teach at the same school he attended.
“It’s with great joy that I introduce you to our varsity football team.” While everyone cheered, Teddy bent down to lift up the first of the eight helmets. “This year I will be adding eight junior varsity players to my team. These boys worked hard and each maintained a B average throughout the school year. They cursed me when I benched them for failing back to back tests, but in the long run, all my boys in the past went on to college with full scholarships.”
The stadium exploded again in cheers. The band began playing again and the cheerleaders did another routine. The music and cheering was so loud, that no one heard the siren of the police cars driving onto the football field.
“Your husband is full of surprises,” Rita yelled over the music. “I can’t believe he got the police to come here to escort in the new players to the varsity team.”
“Neither can I. This is just as much a surprise for me too. But that’s my hubby.”
The police cars slowly approached the stage as the band played louder and the cheerleaders surrounded the police cars. Connie was impressed with how Teddy still had the knack of keeping surprises to himself, in fear that she might accidentally let it slip out.
“Please move away from the cars,” a voice echoed through from the speakers of the police car.
Everyone cheered even louder, sending the whole stadium into a roar. But when the words were spoken again, there was an authority to the voice that sent chills through Connie, as well as the rest of the stadium, with everyone becoming silent when another police car and two unmarked cars sped into the stadium.
Connie watched as the cops got out of their cars, and men in suits with gold shields on silver link chains hung around their necks walked right up to the podium. Rita touched her shoulder, squeezed it and whispered, “I’m sorry.”
“Theodore David Acosta?” blared over the PA system.
"Yes," Teddy answered.
"You're under arrest..."