Before the Christmas Wedding

In this episode I announce the release of A Christmas Wedding which is now available for pre-order!

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

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Before the Christmas Wedding is available for pre-order!

Before the Christmas Wedding is now available for pre-order! The release date is October 4, 2022.


Amanda Alexander has been recruited to be the wedding planner for William and Rachel’s wedding. It has to be the wedding of the city and season. She should be ecstatic and thrilled, and she would be if she didn’t have a lifelong crush on William. She’s trying to be supportive—she really is—but she soon realizes that she can’t do this alone. So, she recruits her neighbor for help. He’s been there for her since they became neighbors three years ago. Of course, he’d be there for her now.

Dex Richardson has been Amanda’s handyman, confidante, helper, and each other’s plus. They’ve even pretended to be each other’s significant other. But he’s been having confusing feelings and emotions lately with anything that involves her. Now he’s helping her plan the wedding for her lifelong crush. It’s hard for him to see her so “crushed.” He’d do anything for her. Almost.

Dex has been someone else’s second choice before—the rebound guy. Dex has no plans on being anyone’s second choice ever again. If things were going to work out between him and Amanda, she would have to confess she loves only him before the wedding.

Link to order on Amazon:

Nailed It! Beach City Cozy Mysteries: Patsy- Book Three available for pre-order!!

I’m excited to announce that Nailed It! (Beach City Cozy Mysteries: Patsy- Book Three) is now available for pre-order! The release date is June 8, 2022.

Below is the description, first chapter and the link to order a copy:


Shirley Martinez threatened Jerry Nichols in front of officers of the law. When Jerry turns up dead with the exact wounds that Shirley had warned about, she becomes the prime suspect. Shirley enlists the help of her lifelong best friend, Patricia Garret, and paralegal investigator, Abigail Alexander, to find the real murderer. The more they dig, the longer the list of suspects grows. Will they find the killer before further framed evidence appears? Shirley is running out of time, but Pat and Abi refuse to give up.

First chapter

“Ma’am, please get out of my trunk for the last time, or I will call the cops,” the man pleaded. The woman was sitting with her arms and legs crossed in protest in the trunk of his white Jeep Wrangler.

The woman was Shirley Martinez. The vehicle was parked in front of her house in Beach City, California. It was a warm Tuesday in mid-May. She straightened her shoulders, then lifted her head confidently and challenged the man with a scowl, “Call the cops.”

“Fine,” the man said as he reached into one of his stained, faded blue jeans pockets and pulled out his cellphone. As he punched in numbers on his phone, he grumbled, “I should just drive off with you.”

“Go ahead, and I will have you arrested for kidnapping,” Shirley threatened.

They argued for several minutes until a squad car pulled up behind the Jeep. Two men got out. One was tall and medium built, wearing a uniform; the other was burly with mocha skin, brown eyes, short dark curly hair in a brown suit. The one donning the brown ensemble placed his hands on his hips. He stood next to the Jeep and asked, “Aunt Shirley, what are you doing?”

Shirley deepened her scowl, then pointed at the Jeep owner. “This man is trying to steal from me.”

“What?” the man asked, exasperated. “I don’t steal. I am just trying to leave this nightmare of a project and go home. You hired my guys for a tiling job. My guys put the tile in, and now it’s time for me to go.”

“You and your guys put the wrong tile in. I want my money back, and I want the right tile.” Shirley turned her attention away from the contractor and then focused on the officers. “I was supposed to get Juniper Breeze. It’s a beautiful greenish-gray color. Instead, they put in a puke-colored, crappy-looking tile that I’d never dream of putting in my home. Seriously, Byron, look for yourself! You’ll see …” she said to the suited cop.

Byron Garret did as she suggested. He walked inside the house and reappeared less than a few minutes later. “She’d never order that tile,” he said. “I know her. She would never want that throw-up color on her floor. I never thought the color of a floor would make me feel sick.”

“Thank you,” Shirley said victoriously, throwing her fist up in triumph.

“But I suggest you take this matter to small claims court if you can’t agree. It’s not going to be resolved here on the street.”

The contractor scowled at the mention of court. “Lady, you have been more trouble than you are worth.”

“How dare you speak to me like that! You’re lucky I don’t grab the nail gun you have in this trunk and shoot you in between your eyes or in your cold heart!”

“Shirley!” Byron shouted.

“Arrest her!” the contractor shouted. He pointed at her with shaking hands. “You heard her. She threatened me.”

The uniformed officer reached for his cuffs and moved close to the trunk. Byron stepped in between and raised his hands. “No one here will be arrested today. Aunt Shirley, please exit the vehicle.” When she didn’t budge, he said, “I will have to let him,” he gestured to the other officer with a shift of his head, “arrest you if you don’t. Please … get out of the trunk.” He briefly closed his eyes as he pleaded.

Shirley glared at the man. “Fine, I’m suing you, Jerry. You know you did wrong.” She held her hands out to Byron. “Help me out,” she said bitterly.

Shirley grunted and groaned as Byron helped her out. Her knees popped and cracked. When her feet finally touched the street, she said, “Oh, there’s Pat.” A white Toyota Prius pulled up in Shirley’s driveway. A woman with brunette peppered with gray curly hair, dark brown catlike eyes, thin lips, and an elfish nose got out of the car and quickly approached them.

“Mom, what are you doing here?” Byron asked.

“Shirley texted me to come right away. What’s going on?” Patricia Garret, also known as Pat (and sometimes Patsy), asked worriedly. She glanced at the man who was hurriedly getting into the Jeep. “Is that Jerry from your church group?”

“Hmph … I won’t be part of that group anymore if he’s in it. His guys put in the wrong tile, and he won’t rectify the issue.”

Jerry soon drove off.

“I told you not to work with a friend,” Pat said.

“He’s not a friend. I barely even know him. He kept calling me ma’am, for crying out loud. As if I’m that much older than him.”

“Making threats, especially in front of law officers, is not smart,” Byron said.

“You threatened him?” Pat asked.

“Of course, but I didn’t mean it. I was just mad,” Shirley said. “I’m still mad.” She dusted off her navy-blue sweatpants and rubbed her hands together. “Come see what he and his guys did.” Shirley gestured for her lifelong best friend to follow her inside the house.

“We will go back to the station,” Byron said as he and the other officer got back into the patrol car.

When they were inside, Pat began to feel sick from looking at the tile. She placed a hand against one of the entryway walls and the other on her stomach. “I don’t feel so good.” She gagged.

“Exactly,” Shirley said.

“Let’s go out to eat and figure out what we can do to get this ridiculous tile out of here,” Pat suggested. She was already heading back outside.

Link to order your copy:

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

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:

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.

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?