Monday, July 29, 2019

BOOK: Finn-agled, A Finn Finds Mystery, by Kristine Raymond

A secret message hidden inside of an antique wooden box, an unidentified dead body, and a mother determined to marry her off to the high school crush whom she hasn’t seen since…well…high school.  There’s no doubt about it; Finn Bartusiak’s life in the seaside town of Port New is about to get interesting.

Coming into possession of a 19th-century, bronze and mahogany writing box under somewhat suspicious circumstances, Finn’s accidental discovery of a coded note leads her and Spencer Dane, bestselling novelist and love of her life (though he doesn’t know it yet), on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the jumble of letters. But they’re not the only ones interested in the cryptic message.  There’s a con man on their trail, and he’ll stop at nothing, including murder, to claim the ‘treasure’ for himself. 

 A slip of paper slightly larger than an index card fell from between the seams and floated ever so gently to the floor. Almost dropping the case in my elation (wouldn’t that just be my luck?), I set it gingerly on the table and retrieved the note.

Zubcd Yefemeby 

Xlw k Wrlm no 

Vpqre Upbpqee

Huh? What kind of crazy language is this? 
I attempted to sound it out, tripping over my tongue because – let’s face it – it’s impossible to pronounce words that have no vowels. Thinking I’d stumbled onto either an ancient, and possibly forgotten, language, or a secret military code, I hopped back on the computer for some serious research. It wasn’t until the Gothic cathedral mantel clock perched on the shelf above a row of whiskey barrels chimed twelve that I realized I’d been staring at the screen for the better part of three hours. That would explain my grainy eyeballs.

“Time to call it a night. Come on, Garfunkel. Let’s go home.”
Shutting off the computer, I slipped the note into my pocket, leaving the writing case in my office for the time being. Who knew what other mysterious messages might be hidden inside? Turning off the light, plunging the room into darkness, I walked out front to collect my sleepy hound, dim lumens from the street lamp outside filtering in through the plate glass window, illuminating my way and casting shadows along the floor and walls. Headlights from a passing car briefly lit up the interior of the shop, glinting off the wind chimes that hung over the front door.

If only I’d had the forethought to hang a set of chimes over the back door as well. Then, perhaps, they would’ve warned me about the person who jimmied the lock, crept up behind me, and wrapped his fingers around my neck, squeezing until everything went black.

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

SCHEDULE: July 29 - August 2, 2019

Mon., July 29 - BOOK:
A Finn Finds Mystery 
by Kristine Raymond
Wed., July 31 - ART: The Art of
Dimitri Danish
Thurs., Aug. 1 - BOOK:
Dream Catcher
by Gerald L. Guy
Fri., Aug. 2 - BOOK:
January Black Ice
by Carol Ann Kauffman

Friday, July 26, 2019

BOOK: Red Sarah by Carol Ann. Kauffman

Sarah is a beautiful redhead who works for a special agency that fixes broken timelines and rescues historically significant people who are in trouble. 

She has a special set of skills that allow her to 'tap' someone out of a dangerous situation. Her present assignment is to find and rescue a prince whose son eliminates hunger and disease on his island nation. 

“Save the Prince; save the King; and save the Reds. In doing so, Red Sarah may just save herself, who knows, but what might be the cost? Moving from modern day wisecrackery to a time of romance long ago, Carol Ann Kauffman’s tale is filled with majesty and bravery. This time travel story is a gift for all.” - Amazon Review 

“Sarah has one job and that is to rescue Crown Prince Lucas of Mist from captivity in a dungeon. Yet everything is not as it seems and will Sarah be able to stop an upcoming war? 
This was an interesting book about time travel and trying not to disrupt the time continuum. I liked Sarah and it was interesting on where her and Lucas ended up.” 
-Amazon Review  


Chapter One

Look What I Found in the Dungeon

Sarah approached the lifeless figure huddled on the floor. The prisoner was shackled to the wall in the small, dark, damp cell. She reached down toward his throat to make sure he was still alive.
“No,” he growled as he pulled away from her.
“Shh,” whispered Sarah. “I come to help you, not to hurt you. But you must be quiet. I cannot be detected in here.”
“They will kill you… or worse,” he whispered, “for trying to help me. I am not some poor unfortunate soul. Do you have any idea who I am?”
“Yes, I do. You are Crown Prince Lucas of the Mist Kingdom in the highland of LaMere. Let me touch your neck.” 
He moved toward her as much as he could. 
She gently touched his bearded neck. “You are very warm, Prince Lucas. I fear you have the fever.”
“I am Prince Lucas, yes, but not the Crown Prince. My eldest brother Marcus is the Crown Prince and heir to the throne of the Mist Kingdom. I wield no power, here or in the highland. If you help me, I can do nothing for you in return. Leave this rotten stink hole at once. You only put yourself in extreme danger. There is nothing you can do for me.”
“Oh, really?” Sarah laughed as she put a small flask to his lips. He sipped, then swallowed and sighed.
“Ahh, good. Thank you,” he whispered. “What is that?”
“Herb and honey infused whiskey. It will induce a deep and heavy sleep. If you are chained to the wall in here, you may as well get some rest.” Sarah gave him more of the strong, sweet liquid. “Sleep now, Prince Lucas. I will return tomorrow night, when the guards are fast asleep. I will bring you bread and cheese. Is there something else you crave?”

“Freedom from these bloody chains. A bath. Warmth. Clothing. Sunshine. Strawberries.”

“Strawberries, I can do. And maybe something for the fever.”
“Why? Why do you chance danger to bring me real food and medicine?” Lucas eyed her warily.
“Because you need to regain your strength if I am to help you escape.”
“Escape?” squealed Lucas with a surprisingly hearty laugh for a man in his depleted condition. “Are you daft?”
“Shh,” whispered Sarah. “Be quiet.”
Lucas nodded.
“You have quite the sense of humor, lovely one,” whispered Lucas. “I am chained to the wall in a filthy dungeon in the miserable, hellish depths of Marlow Castle. There is no escape for me. And where would I go? I am too weak to even make it to the drawbridge, let alone up the rugged terrain of the mountainside. I am alone. My people have abandoned me. And, in case you did not notice, this cell is locked.”
“So then… how did I get in here?” Sarah smiled.
The prince looked around in confusion.
“Now, close your eyes.”
Lucas closed his eyes.
Sarah disappeared.

The next night, Sarah appeared in the locked cell once again. “Is there anyone in here who is hungry for real food?” she whispered to the sleepy prince.
“Ahh, there you are!” He smiled at her. “When I awoke refreshed from my deep and restful sleep, I was not sure if you were real or simply a lovely vision of my imagination.”
“I assure you, I am real. Here,” she handed him a small cloth pouch with berries and pieces of bread and cheese and a flask of water. 
“I am most grateful,” said Lucas, “although I do not know why you do this.” Lucas lifted the cloth pouch to his nose and inhaled. “Smells wonderful.” He picked a strawberry from the pouch and ate it. “This is the best thing I have tasted since...since…”

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

ART: French Painter Hugues Merle

Hugues Merle was a French painter. He was born in Isere, in the Saint-Marcellin region of southern France in 1823. 

Not much is known of his childhood and early years except that he lived in a strongly Protestant area and support for the Empire. His early works were pro-Empire, to reflect his upbringing. 

He later studied art in Paris. His works varied from the religious iconic images to paintings showing soft and tender moments between mother and child, or innocent affection between lovers.

Hugues Merle received the prestigious Chevalier of the Legion of Honor award in 1866, at the relatively young age of forty-three for a Frenchmen. 

His work was widely appreciated by American audiences, probably more than in his native France. 

Hugues dies in 1881 in Paris. On a happier note, his son Georges Merle followed in his father's footsteps as a painter.


Monday, July 22, 2019

INTERVIEW: Mystery Author Ritter Ames

Ritter Ames
South-Central U.S.

What a treat I have for you today, Gentle Readers! One of my favorite authors is with me this morning. I am thrilled and honored to introduce you to the lovely and talented Ritter Ames.

Good morning, Ritter! And welcome to Vision and Verse, the site for art and authors and those who love them. Can you tell us a little about what you've written? have you written?
I have three mystery series: two cozy mystery series, the Organized Mysteries set in southern Vermont and the new Frugal Lissa Mysteries set in Oklahoma around Tulsa; and the Bodies of Art Mysteries, which are globe-trotting traditional mysteries with mostly European locations.

I absolutely LOVE your Bodies of Art Mysteries!!! If there's anyone out there who loves art, adventure, and suspense with a female James-Bond-like heroine and a knock-out supporting cast, you need to read this series. Netflix, where are you?

What is your favorite genre to write?
I love writing mysteries that allow readers to escape into them. While I’m an eclectic reader, I read more cozies and lighter mysteries each year than anything else, and that’s the same kind of books I enjoy writing. I also love being able to add fans into my novels. And for the new Frugal Lissa Mystery series, my family’s blonde Labrador retriever, Honey, is one of the characters. I love being able add life into my stories.

Favorite food?
Anything with avocado—except guacamole. I want slices of avocado on everything, and my favorite summer sandwich is avocado and tomato slices on mayo with bacon!

Tea or coffee?
I like both, but I drink more tea than I do coffee. And I drink more peach tea than anything else.
Pizza or ice cream?
Ice cream—hands down! Love all flavors, but my favorite is mint chocolate chip.
Wine or beer?

Where would you like to visit?
Switzerland has been a country on my bucket list that keeps getting pushed further back on the list because of different things that come up each time we plan a trip there. So, that’s first on my list right now.

Favorite musical artist?
I have a lot of favorites, but if I have to choose just one, I’d say James Taylor. But really, I could list dozens of favorites.  

I love James Taylor's music, too. Do you listen to music when you write?  
Often, but not always.
I like listening to Enya and classical music at low volumes, so I don’t 
try to “sing along” as I type. But for a lot of individual writing projects 
I’ve had playlists I ran to keep me motivated and writing to a particular 

What makes you laugh?
Seriously, I laugh a LOT! I laugh when listening to smart comedians, and I laugh just as hard at puns. I really can find something funny in most things.

Favorite work of art or sculpture.
Las Meninas by Velazquez—no question. I love all the layers of information about the Spanish court and daily life of the royal family that comes just in studying that one masterpiece.

How old were you when you started writing?
I was making up stories for my friends and stuffed animals before I could even read and write. I can’t remember not spinning stories. But I wrote my first “book” in elementary school—however, it was really just a long short story. And yes, it was a mystery.

Do you plan out your book with outlines and notecards? Or just write?
All the above. Depending on the series, I do all necessary research ahead of time. For my Bodies of Art Mysteries, I do very heavy, detailed outlines. For both my cozy series, I do what I call “messy outlines” where I hit the high points I need to do for each book, and lightly map out where chapters will start and stop. Then, because I write my first drafts completely—no going in and making any corrections or revisions until the entire draft is done—once I start writing any novel, I then use notecards and Post-it Notes later to add new info that comes to mind as I write. After the first draft is completed, all these notes will be reviewed, and the info added/revised/removed as needed as I do the second draft.

Describe your perfect evening.
Spending time with a few friends, talking, laughing, and sharing wonderful food.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from all directions all the time. My job is simply to make it believable and enjoyable to read.

What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I can get overwhelmed by too many things to do in life, and that can reduce my ability to write at the moment, but that’s more a time management problem rather than any kind of writer’s block. But when challenges around me make writing more difficult, I’ve found pen and paper helps me much more than a laptop keyboard. The tactile rewards of actually writing down words, rather than typing, tends to help any word dam burst, and I find my writing speed increases substantially—until the point where I have to stop and get on my laptop because I’m writing too fast for my handwriting to keep up. Great feeling.

Who is your favorite author?
The late Elizabeth Peters and the late Pat Conroy. I’ve reread both authors’ bodies of work time and again.

Best book you ever read.
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. I remember the first time I read it, I think it took two full weeks, because I kept rereading sections over and again because the words were so perfect.

Last book you read?
Lock 13 by Peter Helton. I love this Chris Honeysett artist/detective series and own every title.

What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
I’d love to create a foundation to help promote art and history programs for all ages.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My paternal grandmother. She was my primary caregiver the first six years of my life, took me to get my first library card, and cheered me toward every dream. And gave me so much really good info on how to do things in ways that may not be the conventional route, but was always efficient, economical, and good old common sense.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
This is the easiest question of all—Mark Twain. I want to just sit back and listen to him tell me stories. Any stories he wants to tell.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Pay attention to how the books you want to write are marketed, because marketing will be a significant part of your writing day, and you can’t just rely on a social media platform. Yes, we all think we’re going to spend our time writing and creating new worlds and characters, but unfortunately that idea is as fictional as our novels.

Do you have some links for us to follow you?
Social media links to all things Ritter Ames—
Twitter -- my Twitter handle is @RitterAmes
subscribe to my newsletter --

Sunday, July 21, 2019

SCHEDULE: July 22 -26, 2019

Mon., July 22 - INTERVIEW:
Mystery Author Ritter Ames
Wed., July 24 - ART:
French Painter Hugues Merle
Fri., July 26 - BOOK:
Red Sarah by Carol Ann Kauffman

Friday, July 19, 2019

BOOK: The Captain and the Ambassador by Carol Ann Kauffman

Ambassador Tull Redmond is looking for a quick ride home back to Earth after ending her twenty-year mission as peace negotiator. All she wants is peace, quiet, and to be left alone. She boards the Earth Starship Giuseppe Verdi with its questionable leader, Captain Ben Jacobs anyway. 

It's the fastest way home. Her quarters has a full bath, a space view window, and a large, real bed! How bad could this rule-breaking, authority-defying Captain Casanova be? High Council hates him, true, but his crew loves him. Surely, she's too old and tired to be drawn into this bad boy of the quadrant's personal circus.

Will Ambassador Redmond get the quiet, uneventful ride home she craves?

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