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!

SAWBONES, Historical Fiction novel, sold in 3-book deal


On June 1, I posted on the Swamp that some news was coming. Last Tuesday, I announced the news to my newsletter subscribers. Today, I'm posting it here for those who aren't subscribed.

If the one-line pitch, "Outlander meets the American West" sounds like a novel you'd want to read, you're going to be very excited about this deal. SAWBONES, the first novel in a historical series featuring a female surgeon from New York who flees out West after being falsely accused of murder, will be released digitally in March 2016. The remaining two novels will be released in six month increments.

This book has been a seven year labor of love. Not only was it the first manuscript I finished but it was also what I worked on after my father died in the summer of 2008. Dad loved watching Westerns, especially Lonesome Dove. All that summer after he died, I read McMurtry's novel, watched the mini-series, and took a deep dive into classic Hollywood westerns. I played around with a few scenes, not liking much of anything except the characters. What put this story into motion to become what it is now was reading EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON by SC Gwynne.

I love all my books, but there's something special about this one. It's my favorite child and I absolutely cannot wait to share it with you all next spring! #Sawbones


Hang on, didn't you tell us about this book? It's coming out in October.

STILLWATER and SAWBONES are two entirely different books set in a different time periods with completely different characters.

I have two novels in two genres being released within months of each other.

It's okay to be shocked.


STILLWATER, my contemporary mystery, will be released in FOUR MONTHS!


I cannot believe it is almost here. Things are about to move fast and furious for this novel so expect the next newsletter to be chock full of STILLWATER news, including the cover and information about the book launches. #BigSecretsRunDeep

If you'd like to read more about SAWBONES, click HERE.

If you'd like to subscribe to my email newsletter and receive news early, as well as get exclusive content and contests, click HERE.

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I've yet to master the art of the pithy, clickable post title, so you'll have to click through to see my good news.

Something happened yesterday. A monumental event I knew was coming, eventually, but I wasn't prepared for how absolutely cool and fantastic it was. My debut novel, STILLWATER, went up on Amazon. It is available for pre-order. From mashable.

A couple of things: yes, I know there's no cover image. That will come, hopefully soon, but I don't know when exactly.

Second, the tentative release date is October 6, 2015. That can always change, but for now, that's the target. As long as it is released before November 19, I'll have achieved my goal of getting published by 45.

Third, it will be available in electronic formats before October 6 and hopefully in audio as well.

Fourth, pre-orders are love.

So is sharing.


One year and counting. Plus, Big News.


We are one year out from the publication of my debut novel, STILLWATER, and things are starting to get interesting. Not only am I writing the sequel, tentatively titled THE FISHER KING, but I'm researching press kits, email marketing and newsletters. In short, I'm educating myself on every possible way to get the word out about STILLWATER to as many people as possible. Blog, Facebook, Twitter, newsletters, print media, I'm going to try it all. But, probably the absolute best way to reach readers is through Goodreads and Amazon. Amazon won't help me until the book is available for preorder, which won't happen for months. But, Goodreads. That's another story.

That's a long introduction to say I am now officially a Goodreads Author.

*throws confetti*

Okay, celebration over. Back to work.

Do you remember when I announced my publishing contract I said I would need your help in the upcoming months?

I need your help.

If you're on Goodreads, you can find my author page here. Click on "Become a Fan."

Then, scroll down a bit and you will see the link for STILLWATER.

Now, this next part is very important. So important I'm giving it it's own line.

Add it to your Want to Read bookshelf.

This is critical. Why? Well, other people who are friends with you will see it on their timeline and maybe they'll add it. You can recommend it to your friends, as well. The more people who Want to Read STILLWATER the better. Why?

Interest on Goodreads and pre-orders on Amazon (when it's available; it's not yet) will give the book buzz, which can then be translated to media buzz, which will be translated to sales, which will be translated to readers, which will be translated to more sales and more readers which will be translated to a happy author!

If you aren't on Goodreads, why aren't you? You can join easily using your Facebook login. Then follow the steps above to Become a Fan and add STILLWATER to your Want to Read bookshelf.

That's it for now. We won't have a cover for a few months, at least. When we do, I'll be waving that baby all over the internet. You won't miss it.

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.

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