I thought my plate was full. I was wrong.
I found a tiny empty spot and decided to do something with it.
As those of you who follow me know, I am a split personality writer. Part of my time is spent concocting mysteries; the balance goes to covering food safety issues for my eFoodAlert blog and for Food Safety News, an on-line news outlet.
More than a decade ago, I wrote – and ASM Press published – a textbook, Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives. To my great delight, that book is still in active use today.
Last week, I had an epiphany.
Why not write a companion book on pet food safety issues?
As ‘Momsy’ to an Australian Cobberdog, I know first-hand the angst involved in deciding what to feed our furry family members. Kibble or canned? Cooked or raw? Do-it-yourself or rely on a commercial source?
I have already started jotting down some ideas. If there is anything you would like to see included in this book, please drop a comment or email me.
As for the mystery side of my personality, fear not. I shan’t abandon Damien and Millie. There is a fifth Damien Dickens Mystery in my future.
Now, if I can just figure out what to make for dinner…
I don’t post every single review my books receive. This one, however, was special.
Here is the review that greeted me when I logged onto my computer this morning.
Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite
A boy vanishes from a ski slope in Vermont, a father disappears after leaving work, a valuable gold nugget is stolen from a Las Vegas casino, and a private eye must connect the seemingly unrelated events to solve the enigmatic puzzle before someone dies in the exciting sleuth mystery, The Gold Dragon Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery) by Phyllis Entis. Damien and Millie Dickens are having trouble with their private investigation agency, due to the unscrupulous and destructive devices of their wealthy enemy, Turpin. When the building their office resides in is a casualty of arson, Damien suspects Turpin is at the bottom of it and is considering throwing in the towel. While Millie and Damien sort out their professional future, Artie, the nephew of a close friend, is kidnapped. At the same time, Millie receives a strange phone call about her brother Colin; he and a valuable item simultaneously disappeared from his workplace. Dropping everything, Millie immediately flies to Las Vegas to help Colin, leaving Damien to search for Artie on his own. Frustrated, Damien continues his hunt that spans the continent and is surprised when his clues lead him to Nevada. Is it coincidence or are the two disappearances connected?
Twists and turns abound in the fabulous sleuth mystery novel, The Gold Dragon Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery) by Phyllis Entis. Damien and Millie Dickens are a dynamic sleuthing team and following their escapades quickly becomes addictive. It is a fantastic series that has a touch of the noir feel that I absolutely adore in sleuth mysteries. From the moment when Dickens’s office is burned, to the dramatic confrontation with their arch-enemy, Turpin, the excitement escalates to a smashing and surprising conclusion; it is an episode you don’t want to miss. With fascinating characters and a thrilling and intricate plot, this book is a riveting read! Even though this the fourth book in the series, it is a great standalone. That being said, I am anxiously awaiting the next Damien and Millie mystery. I highly recommend this novel to whodunit aficionados who enjoy delightfully twisted plots and characters.
Searching for a great beach read, or a book to pass the time while en route to your Memorial Day weekend destination?
You need look no farther.
The Green Pearl Caper, first book in the Damien Dickens series, is the answer to that empty feeling in your Kindle. And, better yet, it is FREE from now through May 25th on Amazon.
Click on the cover image to navigate to the Amazon site, and download my first novel, no strings attached.
If you enjoy Damien and Millie’s first adventure and want to get to know this PI couple in more depth, there are three more Damien Dickens Mysteries available for your reading pleasure. You can find them right here on my website.
There is nothing more daunting to a writer than a blank page that refuses to fill.
For weeks, I have been hiding behind preparing for, then initiating, the April 16th launch of The Gold Dragon Caper, fourth book in the Damien Dickens Mysteries series. Once the book was released, my excuse was the need to promote it. To ‘connect’ on social media, to seek interviews, to solicit reviews, and to spin wheels on Facebook.
This week, I made a decision.
The procrastination must come to an end.
The first blank page, and its followers, must fill up.
Work on the new Damien Dickens Mystery must begin.
As is my wont, I have been jotting down potential plot and sub-plot ideas in a spiral-bound notebook. I’ve also tried out a couple of opening scenes.
The clock is ticking, and work on THE **** **** CAPER. A Damien Dickens Mystery (Book 5) has begun.
Pardon my rant, but I really do hate housekeeping.
I’m not referring to the usual stuff: washing dishes, making the bed, dusting the furniture. I mean all the bits and pieces involved in keeping my book listings current and correct.
And that means dealing with Amazon.
You may know that I recently published the fourth book in my Damien Dickens Mystery series. I uploaded the cover image and the contents files in early April, and scheduled the launch for April 16th, to coincide with my late father’s birthday.
Everything went smoothly, much to my delight. Even the paperback edition appeared like magic on the correct day.
I waited for Amazon to add the fourth title to the Damien Dickens book series page, something that happened automatically for the first three books. After several days, I contacted Amazon’s Author Central (yes, there is such a thing) and asked them (politely) to get off their collective posteriors.
As of this morning, The Gold Dragon Caper is listed as Book 4 in a 3-book series and The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper has disappeared from the book series page altogether. I am now waiting for the crew at Amazon Author Central to respond to my request to fix their error.
And, that’s not all.
A few days ago, following the suggestion of several fellow independent authors, I requested (again through Amazon Author Central) that my browse categories be adjusted for all four books. These categories are important, as they help prospective new readers to find my work.
The update was relatively painless for the US site, but it hasn’t translated well elsewhere. Indeed, my books are now listed under non-fiction in the UK! Time for another message to Amazon Author Central.
And so, the housekeeping saga continues.
Louis Lutsky was a reader.
Newspapers, mystery novels, general fiction, whatever. My Dad read them.
It was Dad who read bedtime stories to me, over and over again, until I was old enough to read them for myself. Truth be told, I had memorized the stories long before I was able to read the words. Dad used to ‘accidentally’ skip a sentence or a page, and would laugh when I corrected him.
It was Dad who drilled me in my weekly spelling homework. His pronunciation was sometimes challenging, resulting in my shedding a few tears as I insisted on spelling ‘study’ the way he pronounced it. At last, exasperated, he corrected me. “Steady,” he said, “S-T-U-D-Y.” I believe he treasured the gold stars I received in my weekly spelling quizzes even more than I did.
It is only fitting, therefore, that I release my new novel on what would have been Dad’s 102nd birthday.
The Gold Dragon Caper is the fourth book in the Damien Dickens Mysteries series, and is set in 1983.
Three years have passed since Damien and Millie outwitted Derek Turpin in The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper, and they have been feeling the effects of his wrath. Turpin has spent the intervening time plotting revenge on the detective duo and their friends, and things are coming to a head as the story opens.
This wasn’t an easy book for me to write. I have come to care deeply about Damien and Millie. I feel their pain, and there is more than the usual amount of that in this novel. But, there is also joy and love.
Here is a small sample from the opening to Chapter Two
The apartment door flew open as I was reaching for my keys. Millie flung her arms around me, drawing me inside. “Dick,” she said, her voice catching as she buried her face in my chest, “thank God you’re safe.”
I reached up, unwound Millie’s arms from around my neck, and tilted her head up to look at her face. Her eyes were red-rimmed, and underscored with dark circles. Damp tear tracks streaked her cheeks. Her shoulder-length blond hair was disheveled and, uncharacteristically, she had wrapped herself in my ratty, old, terrycloth bathrobe. “Of course I’m safe,” I said. “What’s all this about?”
“Haven’t you heard the news?”
I shook my head. “No, I haven’t. I drove down to the Boardwalk, and took a long walk by the Steel Pier to clear my head.” I reached for her hand to lead her to the sofa. “Sit down. We have to talk.”
“You don’t understand.” She stood her ground, gripping my hand hard. “Dick, someone threw a Molotov cocktail through Happy’s window.”
“Around 2:00am, according to the report on the radio. It was bad. A four-alarm fire.”
“Not as far as I know. Happy usually closes up by midnight during the week.”
“What about the building?” I was thinking about our offices, which were located directly above Happy’s.
“I believe the fire is out, but I don’t know how bad the damage is,” Millie said. “I thought you might have gone to the office when you left here, so I tried calling. All I got was a ‘circuits busy’ signal.”
I sat down with a thump, pulling Millie onto the sofa beside me. If the fire had reached the second floor, there was no telling how much damage we might have suffered. I was concerned about Happy, of course, but he was insured and could rebuild. If our client records had gone up in flames, it would be the final nail in the coffin for our struggling agency. I didn’t have to spell out the situation to Millie. She knew the score at least as well as I did. We sat next to each other on the sofa as we absorbed the magnitude of the disaster. “Look,” I said, once I trusted myself to speak, “this might be a blessing in disguise.”
“Some disguise,” Millie said with a shaky attempt at a laugh. “Some blessing.”
“I was about to tell you.” I took her hands in mine and looked into her eyes. “I reached a decision this morning. It’s time for us to shut down the agency and accept Susan Sutherland’s invitation to join Sutherland Enterprises full-time.” Millie opened her mouth to protest, but I overrode her. “I know what you’re going to say. But I’m tired of looking over my shoulder for the next threat. The next act of vandalism. I’m tired of the nightmares.” I shrugged. “Turpin has won.”
I hope you will enjoy The Gold Dragon Caper. After you have read it, please consider leaving a short review on Amazon – just a few words – to let others know what you thought of the book.
If you are interested in the rest of the series, you can FIND MY BOOKS on this website or by visiting my Amazon Author Page. You can also follow Damien Dickens on Facebook or sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, Damien Dickens News.