SAWBONES Blog Tour Starts Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the big day! SAWBONES, my labor of love, will be released into the world! Here's a list of the blogs where I will be answering questions, giving away Amazon Gift Cards & digital copies of SAWBONES, and sharing a photo of a Texas landmark featured in the novel. You'll also be able to read chapters one and two! 

I'll be sharing these posts on social media, but check out the blogs today, if you get a chance. Fair Warning: lots of book lovers and great content below!


Books and Broomsticks -- Author Interview #1

Club Hen House Blog Post on Writing Process


Lucylicious Reads -- Chapter 1 Reveal

Q&A A Writer of History


My Book Fix Blog  -- Review


A Novel Reality  -- Author Interview #2



The Crazy Booksellers -- Promo


Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books -- Review

My Bookish Ways Q&A


It's a Jenn World -- Promo


Texas Book Lover -- Author Interview #3

Shelf Pleasure Photo Post 


Margie's Must Reads -- Review


All for the Love of the Word -- Chapter 2 Reveal


BLOOD OATH (Laura Elliston #2) Cover Reveal

One of the most exciting events during the long process of having a book published is seeing the cover for the first time. I've been so lucky with the designers for both of my series. I've loved the covers and have had very few suggestions to make them "better." (I've heard some horror stories about covers from other authors so I know how good I have it!) 

Before we get to the cover, the book summary:

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in this action-packed follow up to Sawbones.

Laura Elliston and William Kindle are on the run -- from the Army and from every miscreant in the West eager to claim the $500 bounty for Laura's capture as their own. But the danger isn't just from those pursuing them. Laura and Kindle have demons of their own and a past that won't stay dead. Exhausted, scared, scarred and surrounded by enemies, neither realize the greatest danger is yet to come.

When I sent the MS to my editor last year, this is how I described it:

Well, here it is. The sequel. It has bounty hunters, whisky traders, Quakers, frontier photographers, Indians, whores, gamblers, nuns and orphans. There's killing, drinking, gambling, good sex and bad sex, dreaming, tripping, doctoring, revenge, and physical and mental healing.

I mean, seriously. Who wouldn't want to read that?

Are you sold on BLOOD OATH yet? Do you need to see the cover to make up your mind? Are you ready for me to stop talking and get on with the reveal already? Did you scroll down and look at the cover before reading all of this? (I would have, too.) 

Okay, okay. I'll stop rambling. Here it is:


Whatcha gonna do with that gun, Laura? :)

I love this cover, and I love this novel.

I've been working on this book, and the third in the series, for the last year and the more I work on them, the deeper I fall in love with Laura Elliston. I hope you enjoy reading about her adventures as much as I've enjoyed writing them. 

Here are a couple of handy little links to pre-order the books so they'll be sent straight to your device at midnight on the release date! One of the best features of e-readers, IMO, is having a new novel ready for you when your alarm goes off in the morning. Well, that and the ability to increase the text size to ginormous without anyone knowing. At least, that's what my friends say. ;)

Oh, and FYI: the first chapter of BLOOD OATH will be included at the end of SAWBONES!

THE FISHER KING: Jack McBride #2 Cover Reveal!

Last week at writers' workshop, I passed out bookmarks for my upcoming historical fiction novel, SAWBONES, and announced that STILLWATER would be on sale for $1.99 this week. Later, a friend asked me what I'm working on. I told her, and she looked puzzled. "Which book are you working on right now? The mystery or the historical fiction."


When I signed the deals for the mystery novels and the historical fiction series, I never considered how confusing it would be to talk about five books being published within fifteen months of each other. Hey, I'm not complaining; it's a great "problem" to have! I considered sitting on THE FISHER KING (Jack McBride #2) cover news until after SAWBONES comes out (March 29!) to reduce the possibility of confusion, but I can't wait. It's too exciting and I love the cover too much. 

How awesome is that? I love, love, love the colors! And the trees and sky reflecting in the water. And how the trees look a little bit like a gash, which represents...well. You'll have to read the book to find that out, as well as the importance of the fire. 


But, I will tell you this: the evil little cliffhanger I left you on at the end of STILLWATER? That will be resolved one way or another in this book.

THE FISHER KING is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble & IndieBound. It will be released in November.

If you want to be one of the first to see the cover for the second historical fiction novel, BLOOD OATH, you need to sign up for my newsletter! I've seen the cover draft and it's amazing. I'm so lucky with the artists, editors and publishers I have working on my novels.

2015 was crazy. 2016 will be insane

With my debut novel, STILLWATER, hitting the shelves, 2015 it will always be a banner year for me. Even now, nearly three months after publication, I still have a hard time believing it's real, remembering I'm a published author. It all seems so strange, like all the crazy great stuff that's happened - getting pre-publication blurbs from bestselling authors, meeting fans and making friends at Left Coast Crime, Historical Novel Society Conference, Bouchercon & DFW Con, the fantastic launch party for STILLWATER, all the wonderful reviews - has happened to another person. Being able to say, "I'm a published author" is the coolest thing in the world, but it's also weird.

Well, things are about to get even weirder. I have three novels being published in 2016, and a fourth being published in January 2017. For those of you thinking, "I didn't seen Melissa much last year..." now you know why! 

March 29, 2016 


will be released across all digital formats (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks). 

Cost is $3.99 and it’s available for preorder now.

August 16, 2016


will be released across all digital formats (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks)
Cost is $3.99 and it's available for preorder from Amazon

November 8, 2016

(Jack McBride #2)

will be released in hardback & digital on Election Day!

January 2017


will be released cross all digital formats (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks).

Y'all have been wonderful as I've traveled the road to publication. The outpouring of support and encouragement has been humbling. STILLWATER's success is due to every one of you buying my book, telling friends and family, writing reviews, retweeting, pinning, and sharing posts on Facebook, and inviting me to your book clubs. I appreciate it all.

As I settle in to this new career and learn how to best manage my time—being your own boss has it's benefits, but it's not necessarily the best thing for someone who's generally lazy and a master procrastinator like me—I hope to be able to deliver on the exclusive content I promised when you signed up for the newsletter. Short stories, missing scenes, special promotions, they're all on the agenda for 2016.

With four books being released in the next thirteen months, you're going to hear from me a little more often. I'll have three book covers to reveal, a launch party or two to invite you to and hopefully a book signing or three to promote. No spam, but keep an eye out on your inbox. It's going to be a crazy-busy, exciting year.

STILLWATER receives starred review from Library Journal!

*Lenhardt, Melissa. Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery. Skyhorse. Nov. 2015. 288p. ISBN 9781634502269. $24.99;
ebk. ISBN 9781510700710. M

Seeking to get away from his soon-to-be-ex-wife and his disintegrating career with the FBI, Jack McBride moves to the small east Texas town of Stillwater with his son, Ethan. Unfortunately, on his first day as the new police chief, there is a double homicide at a trailer park; Rosa and Gilberto were hardworking but undocumented laborers who may or may not have uncovered something worth killing for. Then another body is uncovered, buried for more than 50 years under a tree down by the creek. Something is definitely rotten in Stillwater.

VERDICT A finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, this debut crime novel, spanning decades of Stillwater’s history, features an ingenious plot and a complicated protagonist with inner depths worth plumbing. Readers who miss Donald Harstad will appreciate this well-done police procedural, which is also a good choice for fans of Terry Shames’s “Samuel Craddock” mysteries, Lee Martin’s “Deb Ralston” series, or Tricia Fields’s “Josie Gray” novels.
Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery
By Melissa Lenhardt

Library Journal is the trade magazine libraries across the country use to determine what books to include in their collection. A review is good, but a starred review is exceptional and means the chances are good STILLWATER will be included in libraries across the country.

If you want to help get STILLWATER in your local library, you can request it through the website. There is usually an easy form to complete to request a book. Include the news about Library Journal's starred review for good measure.

SAWBONES review from NYT Bestselling Author Jane Kirkpatrick!

By Melissa Lenhardt

“Raw, gritty and sometimes graphic, Melissa Lenhardt has crafted a page-turner. In Sawbones, the women are smart, brave and at times ‘incorrigible.' The plot twists, unique characters and intriguing story of passion and betrayal make this a book well worth discovering.” - Jane KirkpatrickNew York Times bestselling author of A Light in the Wilderness

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in this fast-paced historical debut.

When Dr. Catherine Bennett is wrongfully accused of murder, she knows her fate likely lies with a noose unless she can disappear. Fleeing with a bounty on her head, she escapes with her maid to the uncharted territories of Colorado to build a new life with a new name. Although the story of the murderess in New York is common gossip, Catherine's false identity serves her well as she fills in as a temporary army doctor. But in a land unknown, so large and yet so small, a female doctor can only hide for so long.

STILLWATER Photo Contest Running Through November 10

It's football season and what better way to celebrate my debut mystery, STILLWATER, and its small town setting than with a football themed photo contest? 

Texas Forever

Those words were immortalized by Tim Riggins in the phenomenal television show, Friday Night Lights. Free of caricature or derision for its setting and the people who live there, FNL is the best representation of small town Texas I've ever seen or read in fiction. 

The Contest

Take a photo of a football game - Pop Warner, middle school, high school, college, pro, intramural, backyard - or anything related to football - equipment, cheerleaders, the band, the fans, the concession stand, Halloween costumes - and post it to social media with the hashtag


and you'll be entered to win a

Dallas Cowboys helmet signed by Jason Witten.

The contest ends

November 10, 2016

Enter as many times as you want on

Twitter, Facebook & Instagram!


Want to know more about STILLWATER?

Click here.

Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery
By Melissa Lenhardt

One More Day!

Tomorrow is the day I meet the ridiculous goal I set for myself three years ago: to be published by 45. I wouldn't be here without so many people, but especially my husband and sons, my friends and family, the generous writers I've met through DFW Writers' Workshop, critique groups and conventions, and my editor at Skyhorse, Nicole Frail. But, especially I wouldn't be here without my awesome agent, Alice Speilburg. I wrote the books, set the ambitious goal, and she made it happen. She's a rock star.

The Launch Party

I am humbled by the great turnout at Saturday night's launch party. Of course I knew I had supportive friends, but there was a tiny part of me that worried no one would show up. Sometimes I'm a silly, silly girl; there was a bar and cake. Of course my friends were going to show up.

I've been trying since Saturday to figure out how to adequately put into words how wonderful it was and here I am, 5 o'clock Monday afternoon, still speechless. Instead, I'll let the pictures tell the story. Sorry there aren't captions; it involves CSS and I don't have the time or patience to deal with it. 

Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery
By Melissa Lenhardt

STILLWATER Pre-Order Promotion - Exclusive Annotated Scene

"We'll have finished books on or around 9/15, by the way."


I'll be honest, I'm flailing around a little bit here, peeps. My novel, my baby, my debut, STILLWATER, is a real physical thing I will be able hold in my two hands, open and smell the pages, hug, put under my pillow at night, and carry around, cover out, everywhere I go so people will ask me, "What's that you have there?"

My book is in the warehouse, which means there's a very good chance retailers will start shipping out pre-orders next week. Before pub date!


To thank those who have pre-ordered STILLWATER, and to encourage those who haven't had a chance yet, I'm running a promotion from today through the first week of publication. Email me your order receipt and I will email you the link and password to a webpage that contains an annotated deleted scene of Miner giving Jack a tour of Stillwater.

Annotated deleted scene? Translation, please?

It's sort of like pop-up video for a movie blooper reel. Bits of the manuscript that didn't make it into the final version with footnotes about writing, characters and the town. 

Sold! What do I do?

Pre-order STILLWATER and forward the receipt to info (at) melissalenhardt (dot) com with PROMO in the subject line. I'll reply with the link and password. Read and enjoy!

Don't worry if you plan on purchasing a copy of STILLWATER at my launch on Octobere 3. I'll make sure you get the link and password that night!

Thanks for going on this journey with me! We are almost there!


Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery
By Melissa Lenhardt

Jack McBride & Ellie Martin live to see another book...

It isn't much of a spoiler to tell you my two main characters survive STILLWATER, the first book in my mystery series. It wouldn't be much of a series if they didn't, would it? Whether or not my readers would get to see their future adventures? Well, that wasn't a sure thing.

Until today.

My publisher, Skyhorse, has picked up THE FISHER KING, the sequel to STILLWATER. I am so stoked to share this story with you. In THE FISHER KING, I get the chance to dive deeper into the town, the people, and all the messy stuff that's going on beneath the placid surface, as well as ask the question, Are you willing to turn a blind eye to corruption if it makes your life easier and safer?

The release date for THE FISHER KING is fall 2016. Stay tuned. More details to come.


Welcome to my new website.


For months now, I've been listening to the Book Riot Podcast (and if you're a book lover, you should, too!) and heard all about Square Space, as they're a frequent sponsor. When I needed a website with a little more bells and whistles, Square Space was the obvious choice. Set up has been a breeze, with a slight learning curve, of course. I'm sure I'll add some bits and bobs as I become familiar with the program, but until then, look around. Let me know what you think!