When Constable Hector Evans returns to Chalmsley Court, he doesn’t expect the violent crime to be the murder of one of Lord Chalmsley’s guests.
His lordship wants a quick resolution, before gossip about the crime’s salacious nature and trap-like killing becomes widespread. With no murder weapon, no identifiable clues, and no eyewitnesses, Hector has little to build a case. He has plenty of suspects, even when he realizes the murderer must be a woman.
Even though other guests could have killed the man, Hector finds himself focusing on the Chalmsley family. Was it compulsive Cordelia? Obsessive Portia? Mad Aunt Beth, who gives him riddling clues as snippets of ballads. Hector would blame George, who grew up tormenting his sisters and torturing small animals, but George left two years ago for a rest-cure in Vienna. He can’t have returned, can he?
Bee Seddars, the girl who broke his heart, is a distraction he doesn’t need, especially as she and her cousins are among those celebrating recent engagements. Bee is as lovely as he once thought her and seemingly the most rational member of the Chalmsley family, but he wonders if a few brief months so many summers ago could possibly give him an understanding of who she is.
Hector can’t get Bee to open up about the Chalmsley family secrets. Unlocking those, he believes, is key to solving the murder. Yet she mistrusts him—while he thought she was the one who broke the trust between them, since she refused to write him after he was sent away to join the Bow Street Runners.
In his first twelve hours on the case, the murder scene is torched and the victim’s journal is burned.
In his second twelve hours, a second fiancé is murdered with the missing weapon. And Hector’s suspect lists remains an ell long and a grief wide.
With madness looking like the strongest motive and only circumstantial evidence to build his case, will Hector find the murderess before she strikes again? Or will he discover his lost love is causing bloody death?
He needs The Key to Secrets at Chalmsley Court.
A cozy mystery of 66,000 words, The Key to Secrets is the seventh entry in the Hearts to Hazard series of Regency mysteries. Each book is a standalone novel, complete unto itself, with loose interconnections of characters.
Constable Hector Evans was first introduced in The Danger to Hearts, the sixth Hearts in Hazards.
Three years ago, when I made the decision to Think like a Pro, the approaching deadline for one of life’s major transitions drove me to consider it.
Life’s transitions include job changes, marriage or divorce, moving, children, taking on the fulltime care of a parent, and retirement. Making a commitment to live a worthy life, changing diets to gluten-free or vegan, deciding to avoid all plastics, turning a dream into reality: these are also life transitions.
Often, very often, these last three are the hardest changes. They require a re-commitment every day, every minute, every second. They are individual changes, perhaps prompted by family and friends but dependent on the sole self to maintain the commitment. And they require re-thinking constant aspects of life that most people never even consider.
Deadline: Junction on the Journey
Transitions are like junctions in our life’s journey.
The question we ask ourselves is this~ Where do I want to go when I reach that junction?
Originally published in November 2015, the cover needed updating after M.A. Lee’s HnH books 4, 5, and 6 came out in Spring 2017. Here’s a first look at the new cover.
Giles Hargreaves is hunting a French spy who somehow manages to steal government documents. Josette amuses herself playing whist at salons hosted by her sister-in-law. When Giles and Josette met, they are attracted immediately.
But he believes she is connected to the French spy.
And she thinks he will break her heart.
Giles and Josette have their first serious conversation on a settee under a stairway in the Sourantine house. The cover models perfectly capture that scene from the book.
The cover designer at Deranged Doctor Design combined the old cover with the new in a clever way. The playing cards and the sealed letters from the old cover along with the dominant color image transfer from the old to the new while the focus is on the couple.
Here’s the former cover image. I still love it, but I love the new one more.
After Publishing, What’s Next?
For a writer, it’s freaky hard to go to a site that has THE BOOK for sale, type in the name of the author, and nothing comes up for three or four pages.
A writer with part of my name shows up first in the Amazon Kindle store. And then, oh the ignominy, the other writer with exactly my name shows up before my books do . . . and this after I did research before my first published book to ensure that no other Amazon writer was using my name.
Okay, all is not lost. We can do a search for the title.
Digging into Death . . . Bam! Got it in one.
A Game of Secrets . . . not on the first three pages.
A Game of Spies . . . 2nd page! Yippee!
A Game of Hearts . . . Wow! 1st page.
The Danger of Secrets . . . 1st page. Yippee! Yippee!
The Danger for Spies . . . Success! 1st page, second one listed. Wait, the first book doesn’t even have The Danger for Spies as a title. 🙁
The Danger to Hearts . . . 1st page, first one listed. 2nd Coming of Happiness! Bliss Again!
But my author page doesn’t come up quickly unless you find one of my books and then click on my name.
And you can find the Hearts in Hazard series just by typing “Hearts in Hazard”.
Indie Writers face many challenges long after they have a story they believe is ready for print.
We want to present the best manuscript, one that is polished and as error free as possible. 100% perfection is not possible . . . so we strive for the highest level that is.
Then we can make a cover for ourselves or find someone who can do it at a cost we can afford.
I knew I couldn’t make a good cover. I am artistically creative as well as verbally so, but a professional designer knows to look for things and add things in and use balance and proportion in ways that I never thought.
Plus, a professional designer knows the photoshop program they are using. I would have a huge learning curve. Shouldn’t I spend my time writing?
It took me 18 months to find a cover designer that fit my aesthetic. I found Deranged Doctor Design by sheer luck . . . for a “God wink”. They are life savers, believe me. During my 18-month search, I worked on other books, which enabled me to put out three books back to back, October and November and December in 2015: my first three books, the first three in the Hearts in Hazard trilogy, a one-two-three punch.
DDDis the BEST! I love working with them. Their covers are lovely, no matter in which genre they are working. They provide options and previews, and they are willing to switch things around. They are clear in what they can and cannot do. DDD works within a time frame that I understand. They have a great template that pulls from the author the information they need to work with. DDD is brave for working with Indie Writers.
After the writing and the editing and the cover designer, the job of an Indie Writer is not over. Marketing comes next. I am still working on this one.
Discoverabilityis now on my ToBeRead list. By Kristine Kathryn Rusch, it discusses what a writer needs to know about getting their works to the audience in the current state of the reading marketplace.
Getting the book out there, getting the name out there, attracting attention with the right cover and the right blurb and the right audience, these are the five essentials for all Indie Writers.
But I’ll keep writing, and hopefully the “God wink” will happen soon. 😉