First chapter of Santa’s Helper Bytes the Dust: Beach City Cozy Mysteries- Patsy- Book Two

Santa’s Helper Bytes the Dust: Beach City Cozy Mysteries-Patsy- Book Two is available for pre-order with a release date of October 15th. The audiobook will also be available soon.

Here’s the description:

Patricia Garret (a.k.a. Pat) and Shirley Martinez are walking their dogs at a park in Beach City, California, when they discover a body. It’s a Santa’s helper from the outdoor shopping mall. Pat’s detective son, Byron, warns the two sleuths to stay out of the investigation, but when the victim turns out to be the boyfriend of Abi, Pat’s niece, they feel they must conduct their own research. As the list of possible motives grows along with the potential suspects, will they find the murderer before anyone else gets hurt . . . or worse?

Here’s the first chapter:

“All I’m saying is you cooked the heck out of that turkey, Pat. And your turkey salad sandwiches are the best. You should open a restaurant,” Shirley Martinez said to her lifelong best friend as they each walked their dogs on Main Street in Beach City, California. They were heading to the park.

“Well, thank you for saying that, Shirley, but I don’t have any business opening a restaurant. I’ll just stick with creating meals for the people I love most,” Patricia Garret said with a smile as she brushed a loose dark brown curl behind her ear with her hand. She preferred to keep her natural peppered with gray hair color while Shirley dyed her curls an ash brown monthly. This month Shirley added a purple tint that only appeared in the sunlight.

Pat glanced down at the dogs. Shirley’s dog, Raven, was a black Pekinese with beige paws, while Pat’s dog, Chelsea, although also a Pekinese, was multicolored with tan, black, brown, and white all over. “Raven and Chelsea are determined to get to the park, aren’t they?” Pat and Shirley had adopted the puppies from a lady at the same park a few months ago.

Shirley laughed and said, “They know good things happen there.”

A cool, salty breeze brushed up against them; Pat tugged her powder-blue sweater tighter around her. “I just wish it wasn’t so chilly out. Geesh.”

“Well, it is December. It’s always colder. So what plans do you have for Christmas?” Shirley asked.

“Not much. My niece was talking about staying with me during her break, but she’s fickle.”

“Is she the one that’s attending Cal-State University here in Beach City?

“Yep,” Pat said. “All I’m saying is you cooked the heck out of that turkey, Pat. And your turkey salad sandwiches are the best. You should open a restaurant,” Shirley Martinez said to her lifelong best friend as they each walked their dogs on Main Street in Beach City, California. They were heading to the park.

“Why is she dorming when she could have stayed with you in the first place?” Shirley asked.

“She’s young. She wants to experience living on campus,” Pat explained. “I just wish she’d tell me what her plans are for the holiday. Is she staying with me or not?”

“She just wants to keep her options open in case something better comes along. You remember how we used to be at that age?”

“I guess. But it’s inconsiderate. I may be retired, but I like to plan my days. I don’t just sit around and do nothing,” Pat complained.

“I hear you.”

They were finally across the street from the park. Pat pressed the street-crossing button, and they waited. Chelsea began to wag her tail faster and barked excitedly. Raven copied her sister but added a little howl for good measure. Finally, the light changed, and they were able to cross to the other side.

“So other than that, what else do you have going on?”

Pat shrugged her shoulders.

“Augie will be back from Atlanta on Sunday,” Shirley said, referring to her cousin. She gave Pat a sideways glance to gauge her reaction.

Pat swallowed as her cheeks turned pink. “Oh, is he?”

“What’s going on with you two?” Shirley asked curiously.

“Nothing. We’re friends. We told you that a million and one times.”

“Mm-hmm,” Shirley said doubtfully.

They had just passed a set of picnic tables when another breeze brushed up against them. This time, a foul smell reached their nostrils. Pat scowled. “Bleh, what is that smell?”

“It smells like something died,” Shirley said with her nose scrunched up.

“Don’t say stuff like that,” Pat said. “All we need is to find another body. Byron still chews me out for the candy store.” She crinkled her nose too, then added, “Let’s not stay too long. I don’t think I can take the smell for very long.”

Chelsea and Raven each stopped walking for a moment and sniffed the air. Then they tried to charge toward a giant oak tree in the middle of the park at the same time. It was a good thing they were small dogs; if they had been bigger, they would have dragged Pat’s and Shirley’s five-four frames with them.

“What in the world . . . ,” Shirley started.

“I don’t know,” Pat said. “Let’s let them lead where they want to go.”

Shirley nodded in agreement. As they got closer to the oak tree, Pat pointed and said, “They must want the bell on that shoe sticking out.”

There was a solitary green shoe with a bell on the tip lying on its side. “Looks like one of the elf shoes the helpers wear at the mall,” Shirley said.

As they got closer, the dogs tugged harder, and the smell was more pungent.

“Oh, my Go . . .” Pat couldn’t get the last word out. She bent over and threw up on the grass below her, just barely missing her shoes.

Shirley stood frozen while the dogs tried to get closer. Finally, she pulled out her cell phone and called 911. “Someone was stabbed at the Beach City Park. The body is under the oak tree,” she said. Her throat was dry. She picked up Raven and held her close. She glanced at Pat as she tried to comprehend what the operator was telling her. Pat wiped her mouth, then picked up Chelsea and held her close too.

“Who could do that to another human being?” Pat asked. Her voice was shaky, and her normally caramel complexion was pale.

“He must have pissed off the wrong person,” Shirley said after she got off the phone.

“Ya think?” Pat replied sarcastically. “There couldn’t possibly be any blood left in the body.”

“Let’s go stand over by the table until the police get here.”

“Byron is working today, so he’ll probably be here,” Pat said, referring to her son, a detective with the Beach City Police Department.

Sure enough, ten minutes later, a burly man who was at least five inches taller than the two women approached them and asked in a deep voice, “Mom, what are you doing here?”

She closed her brown eyes. “Trying not to throw up again.”

“Are you okay?” he asked with concern in his dark-brown eyes

Pat and Shirley both responded, “No.” Then Shirley explained, “We found the body. He looks as if he were stabbed a gazillion times. The dogs are the ones who found him.” She gestured to the oak tree. A few officers were already there. One was using crime-scene tape and cones to block off onlookers.

Byron held up an index finger and said, “Wait here for a bit. I need to see the body and talk to my guys. I’ll have to ask you both a few questions.” He didn’t wait for them to respond but walked to the oak tree.

“Do you think he was robbed or mugged?” Pat asked.

“I don’t know. I didn’t see anything but blood and his shoes,” Shirley said.

They watched as Byron moved around the scene and chatted with some of the officers. He crouched down and examined the body. Then he stood and talked to the officers some more.

“I wish I could hear what they were saying,” Pat said.

“Me too,” Shirley whispered.

The dogs were getting restless. “We should take them home,” Pat said.

“But Byron told us to wait,” Shirley said.

Just then, Byron turned and headed back toward them. “Was anyone else around when you arrived?” he asked.

“No,” they answered in unison. Pat asked, “Was it a robbery?”

“His wallet, cell, and smart watch were still on him. It was most likely someone he knew.”

“He must have worked at the mall, right?” Shirley asked.

“Looks like it. The victim had an employee ID with a mall discount card in his wallet.”

“What’s his name?”

Byron held up his hands, briefly closed his eyes, and said, “I am not giving either of you any more information. I do not want you two involved in this investigation under any circumstances. You understand me?”

Shirley and Pat were quiet for a bit, then Shirley said, “I wasn’t planning on doing anything. Were you, Pat?”

“No. I could barely handle the smell, then to see the body. . .” Pat started, then shivered.

“But now that your son is threatening us, what do you think?”

Pat grinned. “It sounds like a challenge.”

“Yep, it sure does,” Shirley said.

“Challenge accepted,” Pat said.

Byron closed his eyes again as if he were trying to conjure up a dose of patience or were praying. Maybe he was doing both. After a few long seconds, he opened his dark-brown eyes with the thick, long lashes and said, “I repeat: do not interfere with this investigation. You saw that man’s body. I don’t want the same thing happening to either of you.”

“Mm-hmm,” Shirley said with her arms crossed.

“What does that mean?” Byron asked, perplexed.

“It means that as concerned citizens of Beach City, we will conduct our independent investigation. She who found the body will find the killer or killers.”

“No, no, no,” Byron said. “Stop that line of thinking now. I will arrest you both.”

“For what?” Shirley asked with a scowl on her face.

Byron ran his hand over his dark-brown, curly hair from frustration. The sides of his head were cut short, but he left the top with a quarter-inch worth of curls. “Look, I have enough to deal with. I don’t need to add worrying about the two of you to the list. Can you two please stay out of this?” he nearly begged.

“We’ll think about it,” Shirley said.

“Will you at least tell us his name?” Pat asked.

“No,” Byron said. “Go home.”

“You can’t talk to me that way,” Pat said with a scowl. “I’m your mama.”

“I’m protecting you. Go home.”

“Come on, Pat.” Shirley looped her arm around Pat’s, then tugged on Raven’s leash. “We’ll figure it out on our own.”

Byron grunted, then turned to head back to the body.

Here’s the link to order your copy on Amazon.com:

Beach City Cozy Mysteries: Patsy- Book Two available for pre-order!

I’m excited to announce that Beach City Cozy Mysteries: Patsy- Book Two is available for pre-order. Here’s the description of Santa’s Helper Bytes the Dust:

Patricia Garret (a.k.a. Pat) and Shirley Martinez are walking their dogs at a park in Beach City, California, when they discover a body. It’s a Santa’s helper from the outdoor shopping mall. Pat’s detective son, Byron, warns the two sleuths to stay out of the investigation, but when the victim turns out to be the boyfriend of Abi, Pat’s niece, they feel they must conduct their own research. As the list of possible motives grows along with the potential suspects, will they find the murderer before anyone else gets hurt . . . or worse?

Link to order your copy:

TMI- Colonoscopy Time

I had been dreading this moment in my life for an extremely long time. It doesn’t help that my mother passed away within a few hours after having a routine colonoscopy. So when my doctor attempted to encourage me to have one, I shook my head adamantly. I asked if I could take the test to collect a sample from home and ship it off to a lab. When she asked why I explained what happened to my mother, she told me that it was highly unusual and tried to pursue me. When she saw that I wasn’t going to budge, we compromised. We agreed that I would do the at-home sample test, but I would need to get the colonoscopy if there was anything unusual.

Welp, of course, there was something unusual with the results that came back. I tried to argue with her and asked her if I could retake the test. Instead of arguing with me, she said, “I’m referring you to a gastroenterologist. You can discuss it with them.”

I held onto the referral for over a month before I finally made the appointment to consult with the gastroenterologist. She reviewed the results of my at-home test and was just as stubborn as I was, but we were on the opposite sides of the table. “You need to have this done. It is no longer a routine procedure but medically necessary.”

“Can’t I just retake the at-home test, and if it comes back abnormal again, then I have the colonoscopy?” I begged.

“That test you took was the last chance. I strongly recommend the colonoscopy.”

“My mom died within a few hours of having one,” I said. She softened a bit. “That’s unusual.”

Ultimately, and in simpler terms, my mom had a severe heart attack. There was so much at play within the few hours that followed her colonoscopy and many human mistakes. Perhaps when I have the courage, I will write about it and share it with others. But basically, the doctor explained that it most likely was the anesthesia that triggered an already underlying issue. This didn’t really encourage me to have the procedure since there was no way I would have it without anesthesia.

Obviously, the doctor won our debate; otherwise, I would not be blogging about it now. She ordered the colon cleanse prep prescription and gave me instructions on what I need to do. I walked out of the office drenched in sweat and shaking hands. When I got into the car, I cried. I was just thinking about my mom and my kids.

It took me a month to make the appointment, and the next available appointment was a month away. I scheduled it and told my kids and husband. So, for those who’ve never had a colonoscopy or heard about the preparation involved. You have to start prepping a few days before your procedure. You’re given a list of the food you can and can’t have. The day before, you pretty much stick to liquids but no dairy. You can have coffee, tea, clear broth, popsicles, and gelatin. Nothing appealed to me, so I had water. When it came time actually to drink the prescribed liquid prep, I read the instructions and decided I’d just chug it down and get the process going and over with. DO NOT DO THIS! Learn from my mistake! My daughter told me, “Mom, don’t do it… Mom…” But, me, being me… I did it. I chugged it, and I was proud… for about two or three minutes. I gagged. Then ten to fifteen minutes later, I ran to the bathroom and threw it all up, plus any other water I had earlier in the day. I honestly thought I just won my out of getting out of the procedure, so a part of me was happy. I called the gastroenterologist and was reasonably confident she’d say I’d need to reschedule. In my head, I was thinking, if she tells me to reschedule, I’m not getting it done. Period.

The doctor called me back. She chastised me for chugging it. She said, “I know it tastes like lemon-flavored sweat, but you gotta sip it and take it slow.” I laughed at how accurate her description of the taste was. Then she said, “Let me see… what time is it? Okay, it’s almost 5:30. You still have time. Here’s what I want you to do- go to CVS and pick up two Docalax and packets of Marilax. You are gonna need to take 7 of the packets of Marilax. Get at least 32 ounces of Gatorade. Get the orange and blue Gatorade. You can’t have any red. Okay. Take the two Docalax, then mix up the packets of Miralax with the Gatorade. Sip on it but try to get it all down by 6:30 pm, and you should be good to go in the morning.”

I was so annoyed and so unbelievably crabby. I went to one CVS; they didn’t have all that I needed, so I had to go to another one. But, I finally got all that was needed, came home, and got the party started. My husband had jokes. But he stopped when he saw the crazy look on my face. By this time, I had a headache from not eating all day, crazy hair from just not caring about how I looked, and just getting on my own nerves. Well, of course, when the party officially began, I ran to the bathroom. I won’t go into the gory details of all that occurred there, but I will say I clogged the toilet, which was humiliating because the plunger was in the garage.

The garage was my husband’s turf where he had just escaped to in order to avoid my evil crazy crabby, hungry self. I thought I’d luck out and quietly open the garage door and reach in to grab it without him noticing, but of course, the plunger was not by the door where it usually was. Nope, it was nowhere within my range of sight. He looked at me. I think he knew. He must have known. He had untold jokes glimmering in his eyes. I took a deep breath and asked, “Do you know where the plunger is?” I felt so humiliated.

“Do you need help?” He asked so nicely and sweetly. I wanted to punch him. I know… it’s wrong, but I felt like I was losing a battle I didn’t even want to fight in the first place.

“No!” I snapped.

He looked around the garage and found the plunger, and handed it to me. I snatched it out of his hand and stomped back into the house. The reality was I should have accepted his help because my stomach was churning and if I didn’t unclog the toilet soon… I was going to have a whole other mess to clean up.

To make it short and less gruesome, things progressed more smoothly from thereon.

My son was the one who took me to the appointment that morning. He was a rock star. I was shaking, sweating, praying, crying. I was thinking of my mom and all of my loved ones who passed away.

When I entered the building, I felt like I was just a number. I get that it was during a pandemic, and no one wanted to be there. Everyone had their masks on, and I just felt rushed and just this object that didn’t have feelings. Or at least, my feelings didn’t matter. It went by in a blur. I got the IV stuck in me, and a nurse walked me to a hospital bed. My mind became my enemy, and I started shaking some more. The anesthesiologist asked me many questions; I couldn’t see what he was doing, and the next thing I knew, my eyes blurred, and then I was out. The first thing I heard when I woke was the doctor say, “We couldn’t finish. There was a piece of lettuce. We will have to do it over again.”

In my head, I was thinking, Fu@$ you! You aren’t seeing my a$$ again!

“I’ll send a prescription out for something different for you to try. Schedule it for three months from today.”

I was so upset. I seriously considered ignoring the doctor and my primary doctor and just not schedule it. It’s ultimately my decision. They can’t force me to have a procedure I didn’t want to have.

To make this post short, I did eventually schedule another appointment. I ended up having it four months after the first one. This time around, I sipped the prep slowly. Things went much more smoothly, and I knew more of what to expect, so I wasn’t as crabby and terrified. After the procedure, the doctor and nurses cheered. “We finished—you’re good to go. No polyps. You won’t need to come back for another ten years.”

It was a relief. I know things could have been a lot worse.

I felt I needed to post this because I know many family and friends don’t want to go through it. Especially those who heard about my mother’s passing. But I’m here to say, if you are over 45 (it was 50 but now 45) get a colonoscopy. Talk it over with your doctor. It could save your life. It could catch something way before it’s too late to do anything about it.

The Captain’s Love will be released on April 27, 2021!

The complete two part series will be released on April 27, 2021 but is available now for pre-order.

Follow the journey of Cass as she gets another chance at love, not just once but twice. Will it be the forever kind of love or just love in a moment?

Part One- Captain of My Heart
Cass never imagined she would be attracted to someone thirty years older than she was. But when Captain Raymond Jackson entered her backyard, she felt as if a lightning bolt struck her. With the face of Sam Elliot and the body of the Rock, how could she not be attracted? They decided to get to know each other better, and Cass soon learns there are a few secrets Ray is keeping from her. Will their relationship be strong enough to survive?

Part Two- The Captain’s Son
Raymond Jackson Jr. returns to Palm Hills, California, years after a misunderstanding with his father. His father passed away a year and a half ago, so he feels it’s time to make amends. His brother also suggests Ray make amends with his father’s girlfriend, Cass, as well. He knows it will be a challenge but believes family and friends are worth fighting for. What Ray doesn’t expect is to fall for Cass, whom his father had planned to marry before he passed away. He’s determined to make her his, but will she see things his way?

The Self

After experiencing so much personal tragedy, I’ve learned a lot and would like to take a moment to share. It may help someone out there.

I used to get annoyed, angry and hurt whenever I discovered someone I loved kept a secret from me. I have come to realize that their secret really has nothing to do with me. If it did, they would have shared it with me. The reason the person kept it a secret has more to do with them and not me.

I’ve also learned I can not control how other people view or feel about me. When I accepted this, it gave me so much freedom. Here’s a list of truths that may be obvious and cliché but others may not have even realized:

  • You live for you
  • You don’t live for others
  • You speak YOUR truth
  • You can’t control what other people think, so why would you worry about other people’s thoughts?
  • You’re own worst enemy is yourself
  • No one or anything is holding you back from obtaining your goal except for YOU.
  • You are responsible for your own happiness- JUST YOU- No one else- YOU.
  • You are NOT responsible for making someone else happy.
  • Other people’s happiness is their own responsibility.
  • Treat people the way you want to be treated
  • You can NOT save anyone who doesn’t want to save themselves.
  • Own up to your mistakes. Give a genuine and authentic apology.
  • You have to FORGIVE YOURSELF- you can not control whether or not someone forgives you. You can only control whether or not you forgive yourself.
  • STOP holding yourself back from doing something that is embedded in your heart and soul.
  • You have ONE life. ONE.
  • Be grateful and thankful.
  • Breakaway from toxic relationships and activities!
  • Only YOU are stopping YOU from being the best YOU can be.
  • Do NOT compare yourself to other people. Their path is theirs, not yours.
  • Say “NO” when you mean it. And guess what? You don’t have to provide an explanation, reason, or excuse.
  • Say “YES!” when it truly is right in your soul!
  • YOU be YOU.
  • TRUST
  • BELIEVE
  • IT IS OKAY

Grieving and Christmas

The thing about grieving is in one moment you are perfectly fine, happy because time has passed and you found your new “normal”, but then out of no where a song, a smell, a word or thought or even a color will slam you back into memories good or bad and you feel this heavy weight on your chest that you can barely breathe. You remember you will never see them ever again in this lifetime. All you have are those moments of memories. It’s bittersweet because you feel their presence in that moment and yet your feel that harsh pain and  reality. That’s one reason I think traditions are important. It’s in the tradition where you remember and respect them. Cherish them and in a sense be with them in that moment. 

I have a vivid memory of helping my mom make Christmas ornaments when I was four or five. It was this clear ornament with styrofoam and we crumbled up some of the styrofoam to make it look like snow. We cut gold and red ribbons then placed these two miniature reindeer inside. She always let me put the ornament on the tree. 

I think that’s why I had a tradition of making at least one ornament each year with my kids when they were younger.

I get crafty around this time of year and always think of Mom and Dad. This year I made my version of a Christmas Gnome. Had flashbacks to junior high school needle point class then flashed to high school when I was teaching a friend how to make “Stumpkins”. Then thought of my sister and a few cousins when we’d start crafting too. But mostly, I thought of mom. Of course, It was soothing. 

For anyone else who is grieving… Eventually, the heavy weight is lifted and you go right back to living your normal until the next wave hits. You learn to ironically cherish it and hate it all at the same time.

A matter of complexion in fiction

I am writing this from my phone so there will more than likely be lots of typos and grammer errors but I’m writing it from my heart. I find it so fascinating that there is this controversy about how you write or describe skins tones and hair textures in books or essays. I am a light skinned black woman with a family that comes in so many shades. All of them beautiful and all of them need to be acknowledged and described. I get that some people have issues with describing tones comparing to foods but to me it isn’t an issue. There are caramels, mocha, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mohogany, brown sugar… so much more. The hair textures are varying too. From straight, wavy, curly, coily, spiraly, bouncing, frizzy and out of control looking like the statue of liberty.
The last few books that have been sent to editors have flagged anytime I describe skin tones. I always leave it as I wrote it. For me, as a black woman, it is important to acknowledge the different skin tones. To ignore it or remove it is to ignore or try to remove my culture. I didn’t have many novels, books, essays or short stories that acknowledge the different skin tones. It isn’t the main focus of my stories at all but important to me for people to realize that there are many different shades of black. We are educated. We are romantic. We are funny. We love. We play. We are serious. We are a variety of characters.
So, if any one questions why I include skin complexion in my books. I ask, why wouldn’t I?

New release available on December 14, 2020!

A few readers who have read Truth or Dare: A Love Story have requested me to write Reggie and Maggie’s story. Twelve Years of Christmas is their story. It spans from their senior year in high school to the moment they finally obtain their happily ever after (or at least, their version of it) when they are thirty. As a heads-up, this novel is a bit steamier and has some colorful language. It’s a roller-coaster journey. I hope you enjoy the ride.

DESCRIPTION:

Maggie and Reggie have known each other since they were five. They have been getting on each other’s nerves ever since Reggie poured sand into Maggie’s chocolate milk. They are doomed to hang around each other because each of their best friends insist they all hang out as a group. Just before graduating high school, sparks begin to fly. It begins a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship. Will they ever get on the same track headed in the same direction? Will they ever have a Merry Christmas together?

Here’s the link to pre-order your copy:

If you would like to receive an advance free copy, there are limited copies available at Booksprout!