Two More Blurbs for STILLWATER!

I promise I'm not going to post a link to every positive review STILLWATER receives. Pinky swear. But, I have to tell you about the blurbs I've received from awesome mystery authors Harry Hunsicker & Diane Vallere.

“Dangerous things lurk beneath the placid surface in Stillwater, Texas. Secrets shunning the light of day, decades-old betrayals, lies that have taken on a life of their own.  Moody and atmospheric, utterly compelling, you don’t want to miss Melissa Lenhardt’s marvelous debut novel, STILLWATER.” --Harry Hunsicker, former Executive Vice President of the Mystery Writers of America, author of THE GRID

“Secrets, lies, and betrayals run through STILLWATER like irrigation through dry land. Melissa Lenhardt’s writing drips with detail to create a story that rushes like a wave toward an ever-twisting ending. Don’t let the name fool you; STILLWATER’s threats lie right below the surface.” —Diane Vallere, bestselling author of the Material Witness, Madison Night, and Style & Error Mysteries

I mean, seriously. How can I not squee just a little bit about these awesome blurbs? Thanks so much, Harry & Diane, for taking the time to read my book.

STILLWATER receives blurb from award-winning mystery author Catriona McPherson!


I love blurbs. When I pick up a book, I skim the names of the writer's who blurbed the book. If it's a writer I like, I'll read the book. So, imagine my excitement when Catriona McPherson, award-winning author of The Day She Died, as well as a series of "ten and counting preposterous 1920s detective novels" agreed to read STILLWATER. Multiply that excitement by 100 when I received her feedback:

"Crisp and pacy writing pulls you in deep from page one, when Jack McBride strides into a crime scene and a world of trouble. STILLWATER is the perfect combination of a tightly plotted tale peopled by rich, complex characters (plus one or two deliciously hateful true baddies). Slashed budgets, racial tensions, messy pasts - this small town is anything but cozy. The mystery itself is a classic puzzle, though: clever and convincing. Roll on Jack #2!" —Catriona McPherson, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity–winning author of the Edgar-nominated The Day She Died

Thanks, Catriona!

If you're looking for something to read before STILLWATER is released on October 6, you should check out Catriona's stand-alone novels and her series. You won't be sorry!

FYI, I'll have news soon about the Jack #2 she speaks of. Stay tuned!

Some news is a'coming...

Palo Duro Canyon

I know it's been a little, how should I say this?, quiet around the Swamp for the past few months, but there's a very good reason for it. Soon, I will be able to tell you the reason. Hopefully, this week. Going forward, news about my books will come first through a newsletter. You may remember I ran a contest a couple of months ago promoting it. If you didn't sign up for it at that time, now is the time to do it! I promised I wouldn't spam you and, true to my word, I haven't sent one since the contest. Now, it's four months from the release of STILLWATER, and news will be coming more frequently and I want you to hear it first!

To sign up for my newsletter, CLICK HERE.

And, watch your inbox for some exciting news! The banner picture above might be a hint. ;)

One more thing: 199 people have added STILLWATER to their Goodreads Want to Read shelf! Have you? If not, go over and be the one who puts it over the hump!

MG Book Review - The Great Cat-Nap by A.M. Bostwick - A clever take on noir for mystery lovers of all ages.

the great cat nap
the great cat nap

Take a clever, determined reporter who moonlights as a detective, a sidekick who spends most of his time flirting with the ladies, a kidnapped beauty, and a host of lowlifes who just might hold the key to unlocking the case and what do you have?  You have The Great Cat-Nap, a delightful middle-grade mystery in the vein of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. With cats. Yes, you read that right. Cats. And really, what better animal to have as a stand in for Sam Spade than a slick, black cat with green eyes? Reading this novel as an adult was pure pleasure. The cat puns are thick on the ground, but somehow not overdone. You'll find yourself laughing at loud at how Bostwick turns even the most pedestrian cat stereotype on its head, and sometimes into something vaguely seedy, but still age appropriate. Cats that need to switch to water from heavy cream late at night. Dilated pupils from too much catnip. A crazy-cat lady beloved by the cats she rescues from the streets. Then, Bostwick will throw in a reference to noir canon which will go over kids' heads but will have adults nodding their heads and laughing at its ingenuity.

"Of all the rundown newspapers in all the cities, she had to walk into mine."

But, let's not forget the kids. They will love this book. It's a clever mystery which will keep them guessing but is also so well laid out they might be able to come up with the solution to the mystery just before Ace does. Any child who loves animals will love this book. Cats, dogs, a mink and a rat all play prominent roles. There's enough danger to keep them on the edge of their seat and enough humor and cleverness to keep them engaged and reading. It's not hard to imagine children who have their own pets, cats especially, putting this book down and imagining their pet as the star in their own adventure.

The Great Cat-Nap by A.M. Bostwick

Ace is a hard-core newspaper reporter. He's tenacious, confident, and assertive. He's also a cat. When the famous show cat Ruby the Russian goes missing, Ace is on the story. But he bites off more than he can chew when he agrees to play detective and find the prize-winning cat, believed to have been kidnapped by animal smugglers. Calling on his feline friends, a few dogs, and even a boastful rat nemesis, Ace’s investigation will lead him from the most respected parts of town to the lowly haunts of the underground alley cat system. He’ll have to try to break a cat out of the pound for priceless information and get into a single-pawed battle with smugglers before getting his shot at solving the dangerous crime, culminating on a chilly October night in the gray and lonely streets of downtown.

The winner of the 2014 TOFTE/WRIGHT CHILDREN'S LITERATURE AWARD, this 55,000 word middle-grade mystery is filled with adventure, suspense, and humor -- all told from the point of view of a cat!

E-Book available from

Barnes and Noble



About the Author

A.M. Bostwick writes Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. An early draft of her young adult novel, Break the Spell was a finalist in the 2013 Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Fab 5 Contest. The Great Cat Nap, winner of the 2014 Tofte/Wright Children's Literature Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, is her debut novel. Abigail lives in Tomahawk, WI, with her husband, dog and thrill-seeking cat. Follow her on Twitter @BostwickAM

My Path to Getting Published Blog Tour

My workshop friend, Brooke,  started this pretty cool blog tour idea in a post for Carve Magazine. I volunteered to participate, though I am not going to tag five people. Feel free to post about your own path on your blog. 1.    Where are you on your publishing path?

I signed a contract with Skyhorse Publishing last month. My debut mystery novel, STILLWATER, will be published in hardback in October 2015.

2.    How long has it taken you to get there?

I started writing ten years ago. I attended my first writer's con in 2012, I signed with an agent in 2013 and signed a publishing deal in 2014.

3.    What’s your journey looked like thus far?

My mentor, Mark, told me recently I have done this whole publishing thing by the numbers. Finishing a book, getting an agent, getting a deal. It sounds like it was easy and painless and, if I'm honest, it probably has been an easier journey than many or most writers go through. Why? I don't know. It's not because I'm good at pitching or write a clear, gripping query letter. In fact, I'm pretty terrible at pitching and query letters. Don't even ask about synopses. My success has been a mix of talent, luck, perseverance and the confidence that, no matter how long it took, I would get published.

4.    What’s your future look like?

NYT Bestseller, baby! At least, that's the dream. Isn't it every writer's dream? Realistically, I want STILLWATER to sell well and for the second book to be picked up. I want the historical fiction novel my agent is submitting to publishers in the fall to be picked up. But, most of all, I want to continue to write, for people to read and enjoy my work.

News So Big and Monumental, This Subject Line Cannot Contain It. Let's try anyway: My book is going to be published!


After ten years and hundreds of thousands of words, I finally get to write this simple, but monumental sentence: STILLWATER will be published by Skyhorse Publishing in October 2015.

Woo-hoo! It's been a long, somewhat frustrating process. But, the end result couldn't be better. We've found an editor and publisher who are as enthusiastic about Jack, Ellie, Ethan and Stillwater, Texas, as I am. I can't wait to work with the Skyhorse team.

I'm sure y'all have lots of questions, which I will be answering over the next 14 months as we progress in the publishing process. The most important information is THERE IS GOING TO BE A PHYSICAL BOOK IN BOOKSTORES WITH MY NAME ON THE COVER IN 14 MONTHS!!

If you would have told me when I first sat down at a computer and wrote a sentence that I would have a publishing contract in ten years, I would have said, "What's a publishing contract?" Last night, I dreamed about practicing my autograph on my dust-covered dresser. I'm sure Freud would have a field day with that dream.

Thanks to all my family for understanding when I zoned out for hours, thinking about my book. For the times I would cry out while driving carpool when I broke through a story problem. For Mark for mentoring me and being the first one to really believe I could do this. For my friends for their support and encouragement. See, every time I said I couldn't do something because I was writing, I really was writing.

Stay tuned. October 2015 will be here before you know it.

"Big secrets run deep." - STILLWATER website up and running!

Today I'm excited to announce the project I've been working on for the past couple of weeks is ready for public consumption!

I have created a website to promote my unpublished novel, STILLWATER.

Check it out, let me know what you think. Subscribe to receive news as I go through the publishing process. Comment to show potential publishers people are interested in the novel. Forward the link to your friends, family and social media followers.

Don't worry. I'm not going to spam you every day with posts about this website. Now that summer is officially over (I should probably go change out of these white capris) I will be posting semi-regularly here on the Swamp again about books, movies and fitness. Notice I've switched ice cream out with fitness. Self-explanatory, don'tcha think?

Working on the website was more fun than I expected. I tried to look at the novel from a place of ignorance: if I knew nothing at all about STILLWATER, what information would intrigue me and make me want to read this book? It was an interesting exercise with an unexpected consequence; my creative batteries are recharged. It also made me realize how much I miss my characters. I'm ready to get back to the sequel.

Which means enough with this post. Check out my website. I hope you like it as much as I liked creating it. And, don't forget:

Big secrets run deep.

Throwing caution to the wind and announcing some good news, a month later.

I've sat on this news for a little over a month because a part of me is afraid it was all a dream. That it is too good to be true. That an email with the subject heading, "On second thought..." would hit my inbox any day.

Read More

Book Review - The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

beautiful mystery
beautiful mystery


No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”
But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of  prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

The eighth book in the Inspector Gamache mystery series, The Beautiful Mystery(★★★★) didn't captivate me until about 3/4 of the way through. Obviously, it was interesting enough to keep me reading, but I found the mystery uninteresting and a bit redundant, as if Penny was padding the book with mystery until she could get to the real point of the novel: the long, slow dissolution of Gamache and Beauvoir's working and personal relationship.

I wish I'd picked up the first book in this series instead of the eighth, because it is just the type of series I enjoy. Penny is an amazing writer, with an ear for dialogue and a deft ability with descriptions. But, where she really shines is her characters. Though I started with the eighth book, it didn't take me long to get a feel for these characters and the rich history they shared. It's obvious Penny has been building to this point for a while. I'm torn between despondency and excitement at having seven books to catch up on, with excitement slightly out front. It's nice to know such a rich, well realized world and characters are waiting for me, I'm just not sure when I'll get a chance to visit.

April Reading Round-Up - "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


The month of mysteries is behind me and I do not regret it. I can't remember why I thought I would.  My one regret is I only read two books from my To Read list (The Cater Street Hangman, Leaving Everything Most Loved). I blame that on the library. I got sidetracked by the "New Mystery" section by the front door and didn't make it upstairs.

I read ten books in April, nine mysteries, on graphic novel. The best of the bunch is probably Say Nice Things About Detroit, though I gave The Cater Street Hangman a higher rating. Confusing, yes. But, I have a theory. Since I am reading so much, the books that are unique in some way will stand out in my memory. My initial reaction for Say Nice Things About Detroit was four stars, a rating I still believe in. With The Cater Street Hangman, my initial reaction was five stars, but I can't remember why. The reason most likely lies in the fact that Perry's book is so similar to other books I have enjoyed that I am inclined to give those types of books (historical mysteries) better ratings. I am also influenced by my appreciation of Perry's body of work. But, because I have read so many books like The Cater Street Hangman, the specifics of the book don't immediately leap to mind later on. Whereas Say Nice Things About Detroit does because of it's uniqueness in relation to what I usually read.

Anyway. Enough of that. In May, I am reading romances! Woo-hoo! I gave romances up years ago, when I was newly married and I realized my husband was never going to be a shirtless shipbuilder on Nantucket Island and to keep comparing him to these types of men was doing my marriage a disservice. Now, seventeen years on, my husband is a sexy sports business consultant and can stand toe-to-toe with any romance novel hero. At least I hope he can.

I'm not going to make a list of books since history says I will ignore the list. I'm thinking of going to Half Priced Books and seeing if they have a bundle of romances to buy. Just roll the dice. What I will read: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (currently reading and loving it, for book club) and probably a Georgette Heyer or two.  Feel free to recommend romance novels/authors in the comments.