#ShareAReviewDay — To Kill A Labrador by Kassandra Lamb

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Marcia has given me permission to kick off today’s Share A Review Day with a review for one of my books, To Kill A Labrador, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery.

First, let me point out that the Labrador does NOT die. If you look at the titles of the books that follow this one in the series—Arsenic and Young Lacy, The Call of the Woof and my latest release, Patches in the Rye—the title makes more sense. 😉

For us writers, our books are like our children, and we shouldn’t have favorites, right? But I must confess that this book and its four-legged protagonist Buddy are particularly dear to me. Below is one of my favorite reviews.

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5 out of 5 stars ~ by Diane, Excellent Mystery
March 4, 2018

This story kept me turning the pages from beginning to end. Marcia trains service dogs for veterans with PTSD. I was fascinated by the training. Buddy (a Labrador Retriever) and Jimmy were her first match. She was so proud of them, but then Jimmy is accused of killing his wife. The sheriff sends for Marcia to retrieve Buddy. She’s convinced that Jimmy couldn’t have murdered anyone.

While Marcia investigates, she riles up the townsfolk and intrigues the sheriff. A budding (no pun intended) romance between them confuses her, and she’s not sure she’s ready after her divorce. Engaging characters, a plot with many twists, and plenty of tension make this a memorable book. I’ll be reading more by this author.

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Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) likes to think of herself as a normal person, even though she has a rather abnormal vocation. She trains service dogs for combat veterans with PTSD. Then the former Marine owner of her first trainee is accused of murdering his wife, and Marcia gets sucked into an even more abnormal avocation–amateur sleuth.

Called in to dog-sit the Labrador service dog, Buddy, she’s outraged that his veteran owner is being presumed guilty until proven innocent. With Buddy’s help, she tries to uncover the real killer. Even after the hunky local sheriff politely tells her to butt out, Marcia keeps poking around. Until the killer finally pokes back.

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Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer who now spends most of her time in an alternate universe with her characters. The portal to that universe (i.e., her computer) is located in northern Florida where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.

She’s the author of the Kate Huntington mysteries, the Kate on Vacation novellas and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries. She has also written a short guidebook for new authors, Someday Is Here! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing and Publishing Your First Book.

Connect with her at http://kassandralamb.com or on Facebook. She also blogs at  http://misteriopress.com.

 

How Do You Feel About Controversy? (and my new release)

by Kassandra Lamb

Marcia’s busy today, so she gave me permission to play in her sandbox while she’s gone… 😀

I’ve taken some risks with my latest Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mystery, and I’d love to hear your take on it. Here’s the gist of it from a post I did earlier in the week.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CONTROVERSY?

Some people don’t mind controversy; a few even thrive on it. And with social media, these two groups seem to have found their voices more and more lately.

But I’m in the group that pretty much hates controversy. I sit on my hands at least once a day, resisting the temptation to get into it with someone on Facebook or Twitter. It just isn’t worth the stress.

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In my Kate Huntington mysteries, I have often touched on somewhat controversial social issues. I’ve been fortunate that they have been well received. I really enjoyed writing those books, but more recently I’ve been having fun with a lighter cozy mystery series about a service dog trainer.

I thought I had left the somewhat darker topics behind. My muse, however, had a different idea. She spun out a story in my head that involves two less-than-likeable characters who are members of groups that normally inspire high levels of sympathy in people.

In my new release, I have a crabby paraplegic veteran, who has an unhealthy obsession with his sister’s love life, and a brash, hard-to-like sexual assault survivor.

My main character, Marcia Banks, doesn’t particularly care for either of these people when she first meets them. And she feels guilty about that. How can you dislike a veteran in a wheelchair? she asks herself.

But the reality is that people in most groups come in all sizes, shapes, and personality types. And some of them aren’t going to be likeable. (READ MORE of original post)

Nonetheless, I’m feeling a bit of trepidation as this book releases. I know I will get blow-back from some folks. I hope it doesn’t get too nasty.

What do you think? Am I worrying for nothing?

Here’s the scoop on the new release:

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Patches in the Rye, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, Book 5

Nothing about her new client is what service dog trainer Marcia Banks expected—from the posh house that says family money to his paranoid preoccupation with his sister’s love life—but when he dangles a thousand-dollar retainer under her nose, she can’t resist playing private detective.

In between training sessions, Marcia digs into the sister’s boyfriend’s sketchy past. But the deeper she digs, the more questions arise. How is a disastrous fraternity party five years ago linked to blackmail, prostitutes, and murder today? And who’s driving the black SUV that keeps trying to turn Marcia and her dog Buddy into roadkill?

She can’t let it go, not when there are innocents at risk who are depending on her to find the truth. But the deepest, darkest truth is the one she wishes she never uncovered.

Just $0.99 for a limited time on:

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A Doggie Dictionary (Just for Fun)

by Kassandra Lamb

I thought I’d share a fun little post I put up on my site…

A Dog’s Dictionary to Describe the World

I took my dog for a walk the other day. And as I was dragging him away from his fascination with a crumpled leaf in the road, I thought about how the world must seem to our dogs.

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As we walked around the neighborhood, this “dictionary” of doggie views of the world came to me.

1. Those brown, crunchie things all over the ground (dried leaves) – definition: something that might taste good.

2. Those tall green thingies (bushes) – definition: my favorite place to pee.

3. Those gray clumps of stringy thingies (Spanish moss that has fallen from trees) – definition: my second favorite place to pee.

4. That delicious-smelling pile of gooey stuff that makes Mom yell “leave it!” (three-day-old roadkill) – definition: something that definitely will taste good… READ MORE

Happy Holidays from Watson and me!!

And don’t forget to grab a copy of my new Christmas novella. Just $0.99

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A Mayfair Christmas Carol, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Christmas Novella

A Christmas extravaganza in Mayfair, Florida, complete with an ice skating rink. What could go wrong?

When excavation for the skating rink uncovers a decades-old skeleton, its secrets threaten more than the town’s Christmas plans. Worried about her friends in her adopted town and feeling responsible since the let’s-attract-more-tourists idea was hers initially, dog trainer Marcia Banks is determined to help her police detective boyfriend solve the mystery—whether he wants her help or not. Perhaps she can wheedle more out of the townspeople than he can.

But will she and her Black Lab, Buddy, be able to keep the ghost of Christmas past from destroying what is left of Mayfair’s founding family, or will her meddling make matters worse?

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A New Christmas Story

by Kassandra Lamb

Marcia invited me to let you know that I have a new Christmas novella out, A Mayfair Christmas Carol. It’s part of my Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mystery series, and it’s getting good reviews as a fun read. Great for when you need to take a break from holiday preparations!

~ Just $0.99 ~

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A Mayfair Christmas Carol, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Cozy Mystery, #4

A Christmas extravaganza in Mayfair, Florida, complete with an ice skating rink. What could go wrong?

When excavation for the skating rink uncovers a decades-old skeleton, its secrets threaten more than the town’s Christmas plans. Worried about her friends in her adopted town and feeling responsible since the let’s-attract-more-tourists idea was hers initially, dog trainer Marcia Banks is determined to help her police detective boyfriend solve the mystery—whether he wants her help or not. Perhaps she can wheedle more out of the townspeople than he can.

But will she and her Black Lab, Buddy, be able to keep the ghost of Christmas past from destroying what is left of Mayfair’s founding family, or will her meddling make matters worse?

AMAZON      APPLE      NOOK      KOBO

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!!

Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist/college professor turned mystery writer. She spends most of her time with her characters in an alternate universe, the magic portal to which (i.e., her computer) is located in Florida, where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.

She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, The Kate on Vacation novellas, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, plus a guidebook for novice writers, Someday Is Here! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing and Publishing Your First Book.

9 Summer Treats That Can Harm Your Dog

(I posted this on my website recently since it’s related to my new release, but thought I’d share here as well.)

American_apple_pie by Larry D Moore CC BY SA 3pt0 wiki

(photo by Larry D Moore, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Common)

Summer is a fun time for the whole family, including the family dog. And outdoor barbeques and trips to the ice cream parlor are often part of that fun.

But stop and think before sharing your summer treats with your canine best friend. Many common human foods and ingredients are harmful to dogs.

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Of course, an all-time favorite treat is ice cream, but please don’t share that cone with your pup and don’t let him/her lick the bowl. Here are two of the three reasons why.

1. Chocolate: A lot of pet owners know chocolate is bad for dogs, but they may not know just how harmful it can be. In very small quantities, it’s probably not a big deal, but why take the chance. In moderate quantities (and dark or baking chocolate is worse), it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, restlessness and agitation. More extreme symptoms that may lead to death are abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, and seizures. Continue reading

Living With (or Without) Our Characters @KassandraLamb #FabulousFridayGuestBlogger

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I’m thrilled to be doing my first guest post here on The Write Stuff. Thank you, Marcia, for rolling out the red carpet!!

The second most common question we writers tend to hear is how do we come up with our characters. (The first one being where do we get our story ideas.)

Like the story ideas, our characters come from several different sources. Some are loosely based on people we know. Some are loosely based on ourselves (the protagonist of my Kate Huntington stories is definitely my alter ego; the person I wish I was).

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How I visualize Kate Huntington (maybe without the flowers) ~ photo is “Sunset at Assos” by Nevit Dilmen ~ Used with his permission ~ I love his photography!

And sometimes a character who was only supposed to have a bit part gets their teeth around that bit and takes off running. One such character is the tough female cop who’s assigned as police protection when someone is trying to kill Kate in Book 1 of that series. This cop wasn’t even supposed to talk much except in the scene where she is first introduced.

Officer Rose Hernandez is short but solidly built (Kate refers to her as “compact”) and she can arch an eyebrow at a forty-five degree angle in the most expressive way. By the end of Book 1, she has rebelled against her incompetent superior – and me – and has gone rogue, helping Kate and her friends find the killer on their own. And by Book 3 she’s a central character in the series.

Still other characters are total figments of our imaginations, perhaps a conglomeration of some interesting-sounding personality traits–someone whom we wish we knew. I have a few of those scattered throughout my books. I’m fond of feisty women, but I don’t meet enough of them in real life. (Note: feisty is tough but with a big mouth and a sense of humor – maybe it’s just as well that there aren’t too many of them *cough* us *cough* running around in real life 😉 )

The main character in my new series is such a woman, although she would probably refer to herself as snarky rather than feisty. She’s a thirty-something divorcee who trains service dogs for combat veterans with PTSD.

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I had so much fun writing the first book in this new series. Bringing this character to life was a blast. And now that I’ve breathed life into her, I wonder where she will take me. Because I am quite sure she does not plan to do as she’s told!

But now that I have two series going, I’m having a very interesting experience with my characters. While I’ve been focused on my new heroine, Marcia Banks, Kate and her friends have been whispering in my ear, “What about us?” One of them (most often Kate) will nudge me at some odd moment, with a cool idea for some plot twist in the next, as yet unwritten, Kate Huntington mystery.

So this will be my life for the foreseeable future, caught between two worlds…oh wait, it’s three worlds – Kate’s world and Marcia’s world and my real-life world (which I do try to visit now and again).

When I’m writing Kate’s stories, Marcia will be making snarky remarks about my neglect of her, and when I’m telling Marcia’s tales of mishap and mayhem, Kate will be nudging my elbow and Rose will be arching her eyebrow at me.

And then there is the role that our readers play in our characters’ lives. For without readers, our characters’ life force would fade away. Every time a reader picks up one of our books, they breathe new energy into the people who live inside that book.

And if we’ve done our jobs well, the characters will live on in the reader’s mind for a while after the last page of the book is turned. And the reader will be wondering what Kate or Marcia is up to now…

Authors, how do you experience your characters? Do they haunt you if you’re too slow about writing the next chapter in their stories?

As readers, what characters have lived on in your minds for days after finishing a book?

I’m so excited about this new series that I’m inviting everybody to a Facebook party to celebrate! Please click HERE to say you’re coming and put the date on your calendar, Tuesday, April 12, 2-8 pm, EDT.

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Here’s the blurb and links for the new book:

To Kill A Labrador, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery

Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) likes to think of herself as a normal person, even though she has a rather abnormal vocation. She trains service dogs for combat veterans with PTSD. And when the ex-Marine owner of her first trainee is accused of murdering his wife, she gets sucked into an even more abnormal avocation–amateur sleuth.

Called in to dog-sit the Labrador service dog, Buddy, she’s outraged that his veteran owner is being presumed guilty until proven innocent. With Buddy’s help, she tries to uncover the real killer. Even after the hunky local sheriff politely tells her to butt out, Marcia keeps poking around. Until the killer finally pokes back.

Just $1.99 during the Pre-Order period. Available on:

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P.S. To connect with me, check out my website, email me at lambkassandra3@gmail.com, or come “like” me over at Facebook (Or feel free to send me a friend request)

#ExcerptWeek To Kill A Labrador by Kassandra Lamb

Thank you, Marcia, for letting me join you all here on The Write Stuff. I can’t believe I haven’t stumbled on this wonderful blog before now.

Hi, Everyone. *waving from Florida* My name is Kassandra Lamb and I’m the author of a successful mystery series, the Kate Huntington mysteries. And now I’m launching a new series of cozy mysteries.

I’m so excited to share a little bit of the first book, about a young woman (whose first name is also Marcia) who trains service dogs for veterans with PTSD. Wait, I’ll let her introduce herself:

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I’m a normal person. Granted I have a somewhat abnormal vocation. I train service animals for PTSD sufferers–mostly combat veterans.

But other than that, I’m just a small-town, thirty-something divorcee.

My name is Marcia Banks–pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha. Okay, okay, so I don’t have a totally normal name.

I live in central Florida, on the outskirts of the Ocala National Forest, in a little town called Mayfair, population 258 (and a half. Agnes Baker’s pregnant. Again.)

Mayfair sprang up in the 1960s, in response to the transitory success of the Mayfair Alligator Farm (rumor has it that old Mr. Mayfair poached the gators from the Forest). Billboards plastered along the newly minted I-75 corridor drew in vacationing families to witness the wonders of gator wrestling and to buy fake alligator skin handbags and belts. Sadly, the farm went under in the mid-seventies, when Walt Disney plopped his amusement park down next to another sleepy Florida hamlet–Orlando.

Mayfair was virtually a ghost town when I moved here two years ago, shortly after the demise of my brief but disastrous marriage to a concert violinist in the Baltimore Symphony.

It’s a great place to train service animals because everybody knows everybody. It didn’t take long for the residents to learn the rules. The main one being to never, ever pet the dogs I’m training unless I say it’s okay.

The exception is my Black Lab-Rottie mix, Buddy, if he’s the only dog I’m walking at the time.

He was my first trainee, and how he came back into my possession was the beginning of my not-so-normal avocation–unwilling amateur sleuth.

One sunny day last winter, I received the most shocking phone call of my life. It even beat out the anonymous one three years ago informing me that my husband was having an affair with a cello player.

The caller said she was with the Collinsville Sheriff’s Department and wanted to know if I had trained a service dog named Buddy.

My mind scrambled for a reason why someone from a sheriff’s department would be asking me that. Had Buddy bit someone?

“Where exactly is Collinsville?” I asked, stalling for time.

“Off 33, near Polk City.”

“In Florida?” More stalling.

“Yes, ma’am, not far from Lakeland.” Her tone said she was losing patience with me. “Are you the Marcia Banks who trained Buddy?” She mispronounced my first name, of course.

I couldn’t figure out how to get around admitting it, since I had signed off on his training certificate. “Uh, yes.”

“Could ya come get the dog as soon as possible?”

“Why? What’s happened to his owner?” Jimmy Garrett was an Iraqi veteran who’d had a close encounter with an IED. As a result, he’d come home with a prosthesis where his right leg used to be and some pretty disabling nightmares, among other PTSD symptoms.

“He’s been arrested, ma’am.”

“What about his wife?”

A long pause. “That’s why he’s been arrested. He’s bein’ held on suspicion of murder.”

“Of his wife?” My voice rose, ending on a squeak.

“Yes, ma’am.”

The book is available for pre-order now and will be released on April 10, 2016 (Psst! It’s just $1.99 during the pre-order period; it goes up to $3.99 once it’s released.)

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