My Books

Sea-Devil: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 1
Sea-Devil: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 1

You never get over your first love...how about your first murder? When a man is murdered in her bookstore the night before her grand opening, island newcomer, Delilah Duffy, makes a name for herself as prime suspect. If Delilah Duffy hopes to create a life on the island, she must navigate through a vicious family feud, shoddy police work and the mistakes of her past. Will Delilah uncover the truth before her past and her present destroy her?

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Luna-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 2
Luna-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 2

We're all just one pain away from lunacy. A seaside inn. An elegant party. A black dress. What could go wrong? For Delilah Duffy, just about anything. With her bookstore failing, the last thing she needs is a party or another mystery to solve. With nightmares, anxiety, and panic intensifying, Delilah doesn’t know what’s real and what’s in her head. With everything at risk, Delilah discovers what’s worse… becoming a lunatic or facing one.

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Sea-Crossed: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 3
Sea-Crossed: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 3

Some secrets are kept to be kind. Torture, pain, misery - that’s all someone else wants for her. When a dinner party turns deadly, Sam goes missing, and Delilah realizes she's being watched, the “book queen with a thing for crime scenes” must battle to get her life and love back. Can love and determination save them or will dark secrets ruin her chances for a normal life? With mysterious messages taunting her and a killer eluding her, what lines will she cross to get to the truth?

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Pyra-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 4
Pyra-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 4

Everything can change in seconds. Bookstore manager and crime-solver, Delilah Duffy knows that better than anyone. When her Happily Ever After Valentine’s Day Bash ends in fiery destruction, everything she’s worked for burns with it. Pregnant and brokenhearted, Delilah fans the flames of her anger toward what she’s good at: solving crimes. Hot on the trail of an arsonist while her nemesis is on hers, Delilah fights to get her life back. Will she turn ash to treasure before the pyromaniac strikes

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My Vella Story

Water World
Water World

After a tough move with his Mom and sister from his beloved country home, Ethan isn't adjusting well to city life. In trying to escape his problems in this world, he opens another, dropping him and his sister, Abby, into Water World. This trip is no vacation, not with legendary monsters and deadly sea creatures to battle. But teaming up to help the merpeople through their home-related crisis might help Ethan and Abby navigate theirs, if they survive long enough to make it home.

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  • Jessica Sherry

How to (Pumpkin) Spice Up Your Story

On the radio this morning, I heard that a seasonal favorite is making a comeback to store shelves after a big success last year—pumpkin spiced ramen. I’ve never had it—not sure I want to, but it fits nicely with what’s been on my mind stepping into fall.


Do we really need so much damn pumpkin?


(This guy says yes)


Squirrel in a pumpkin


I have no problem with seasonal treats—I’m no pumpkin Scrooge, snubbing my nose at pumpkin twinkies, pumpkin pie coffee, or Entenmann’s Harvest Pumpkin Donuts (though I will snub pumpkin beer, yuck). Rather, I embrace fall and the deliciousness that comes with it. Mostly.


Here’s my problem with pumpkin mania… IT STEALS SHELF SPACE FROM STUFF I NEED!!


I function best with coffee. Coffeebrained, duh. I use zero sugar International Delight creamer. First choice = Hazelnut. Second choice = Carmel Macchiato. Third choice = French Vanilla, but eh. I’ve also enjoyed Sugar-Free Coconut Cream and Cinnamon Vanilla Crème from Coffeemate. But they edge the line of being too sweet. Because that’s the thing with me… I want it sweet, but not too sweet. And it must be sugar-free, though I have succumbed to sugared options of late because these are products I CAN’T GET!


Coffee Hound Mug


Oh, woe is me! Where has all the sugar-free creamer gone?


I’ll tell you where—it’s been shoved aside for Pumpkin Spice!


Four rows of pumpkin spice occupy the grocery store’s shelf, but no rows of my sugar-free, nonseasonal favs. Come on! Some of us (even middle-aged white women) don’t want pumpkin coffee.


It’s a struggle scoring them, anyway. I often go to three or four stores only to find empty shelves. Someone’s hoarding it, supporting an underground black market, perhaps. I feel forced to buy the damn pumpkin spice just to have something because I refuse to spend $6 on the Starbucks creamer… though I did, once. Don’t tell Joe. Desperate times.


Scared Pumpkin Carving

But this isn’t just about me venting… but thanks for reading it. It’s also about storytelling and how incorporating a season into your story can add beauty and depth. And make it more special for you, the writer, and your readers. If you’re stuck in a writer’s rut, maybe you need to spice up your story with some holiday magic. With a disclaimer…


Don’t think Hallmark.


Think Harry Potter and Die Hard.


Don’t worry. I won’t bash Hallmark (too much). Hallmark has its adorable place in entertainment—and it owns it well. Even I, a tattooed potty-mouth, enjoy the occasional sappy, non-French-kissing, too-perfect romance.


Boy meets girl.

Boy and girl suffer a minor miscommunication or

must make a decision that could be resolved easily by talking about it.

Boy and girl get together.


The setting provides a variable. Ski slopes. Farm. Beach. Bakery. And especially, Christmas. For me, the most Hallmark-pleasure comes from set design as it caters, so beautifully, to whatever theme.


Surely, this is by design… Hallmark IS a greeting card company. Holidays are their business.


Oh, I also love, love, love Hallmark after hours… when they rerun Murder, She Wrote and Hart to Hart. Do they still do that? It’s been ages since I subscribed.


Anyway… writers don’t want to slap tinsel or pumpkin spice over recycled plots. We want to create something unique. Memorable. (Unless Hallmark is looking for writers, in which case, pick me! I’ll write the best Love on the Slopes or Magic on Harvest Pond you’ve ever seen! Must reset Grammarly settings to edit out cussing, tongues, and gay guys).


But assuming you aren’t writing for Hallmark, it’s possible to use holiday or seasonal charm without being, well, too Hallmarkian. Like in cake-baking… you want to fold it into the batter. Otherwise, it loses its air and becomes dense. Too much pumpkin spice. Too sappy.


Harry Potter and Die Hard got it right. Though neither story is about Christmas, it’s used just enough to make the connection for us. I always think of them during Christmas. Don’t you?


The story isn’t the holiday, but it’s enhanced by it.


And it’s genius marketing, by the way.


Oh, and can someone, please, do a Hallmark movie spoof? Seriously… like Kristen Bell, Kevin Hart, or Will Ferrell?


Anyway…


Ways to Make Your Novel Seasonal Without Overdoing It:



“I’ll have a pumpkin spice latte with my romance, please?”


Artistic Coffee

In romance, holidays and seasons provide many dating adventures. But love doesn’t need to happen at the pumpkin patch or Christmas tree farm.


What about two people who don’t enjoy the holiday hype? Holidays are difficult for many people—a fact easy to forget in a Hallmark world. What about two people meeting over their attempts to escape a holiday?


Like a Meet-Cute on the beach because our characters wanted solitude. Or in a library, rolling their eyes at the seasonal décor and books showcased. Or in a car accident on the way to Thanksgiving dinner because of icy roads. Or at the grocery store, fuming over their fav creamer being replaced with pumpkin spice.


Those could also provide a premise for horror or psychological thrillers. BTW.


Or our main characters could be at the pumpkin patch with their dates when…


  • pumpkin-zombie apocalypse begins

  • their missing twin reappears after ten years

  • the scarecrow serial killer strikes again

  • their significant other leaves them stranded in the corn maze with no way home and ghosts them completely (it’s reality, not Hallmark).

Carved Halloween Pumpkins

It’s a Work-in-Progress (Insert Holiday).


In many stories, there’s an underlying goal. The main character is building a house, creating software, planning a bank heist, trying to master homemade pizza, or starting a business. In the last book I read, the two main characters were writing books and decided to cure writer’s block by switching genres (and yes, of course, I loved it!).


Anyway, enter some seasonal flair.


He’s building a house by Christmas in Christmas Town. Or a vampire’s lair, complete with dungeon, blood storage, and Murphy-coffins.


The software, named Cupid, will revolutionize dating by promising no catfishing. Subscribers will undergo background checks, in-person interviews, psychological evaluations, and health screenings. Cupid promises TRUE LOVE. And its author vows that no one will suffer online dating as he has, again.


Bank heist… Why not try to rob a bank while it’s closed and the streets are empty, like at Christmas? Or Halloween night when everyone's in costume anyway?


Mastering homemade pizza could become an obsession, forcing the main character to miss family events and wreck his home life… Or he could become inventive, creating holiday-themed pizzas. A candy-corn pumpkin pizza. A turkey tetrazzini pizza. A hot dog and cheeseburger pizza (for July 4th).


And with starting a business, well, the sky’s the limit. A Christmas Shop. A costume store. A tree farm. A pumpkin patch… Wait, sounding too Hallmarkian.


Great Pumpkin

Now that's too much pumpkin!


“These are a few of my favorite things.”


What’s your main character’s favorite holiday? Or the one she most dislikes? Even if it doesn’t take place during your story, it’s valuable information to develop a character’s personality and motivation.


Someone who loves shopping or cooking for other people (Christmas and Thanksgiving) might have a giving, nurturing personality. In contrast, someone who avoids such events could be antisocial.


A neighbor who saves and plans all year to put on July 4th fireworks or open his home as a haunted house or have a Christmas light show may be motivated by pleasing others. Or he could be super-controlling. Or it may be all about pride and outshining a rival.


Remember Phoebe Cates (Kate) in Gremlins? Unlike Zach Galligan (Billie), she hated Christmas for a good reason, giving her character depth. And yes, another Christmas movie.


“It’s that time of year… or it will be.”


A favorite holiday or season could mark a goal. Home by Christmas is a popular one. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and Home Alone are two of my favs in this category.


But what about…


  • Losing weight by summer (or any life transformation).

  • Saving money for spring break trip.

  • Finding a long-lost love by Valentine’s Day.

  • Opening the soup kitchen by Thanksgiving.

  • Finishing this blog by Labor Day… ugh, just missed it.


There are millions of ways to make your plot seasonal without sap.


  • As background for the main event…

  • As the frame for a big project…

  • As something loved or hated…

  • As a deadline…


Or as a way to spice up your grocery list. Ramen… really?


Charlie Brown and Snoopy Pumpkin

Aw...


Okay, caffeine’s dipping, so it’s your turn. What are your favorite seasonal tales? And what would you like to see your entertainment amped up by a holiday? What’s your favorite? Least favorite?


My favorite is Thanksgiving because I love cooking a big meal for my family. My least favorite… well, as someone who lives in a beach town, Memorial Day and Labor Day, for all the traffic.


Share yours below!


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