the series Hearts in Hazard & Into Death

the series Hearts in Hazard & Into Death
Last in Series Coming Soon!

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1st draft of The Hazard with Hearts (book 12 in the Hearts in Hazard series)

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Just Published ~ The Key for Spies

After struggling from May to now, I've published The Key for Spies, book 8 in my Hearts in Hazard series.

You may have read my celebratory blog about typing the last words earlier this month.  After revising (adding in and fixing spots--I believe in clean drafts so no major re-organization or development is needed) and correcting and proofreading and cleaning up the last typos, K4Spies is uploaded and out into the world.

Here's the blurb (promo copy):

Spies and traitors.  Lies and treachery.  Unexpected love where bullets fly.

One traitor destroys loyalty.  What will two traitors destroy?

The British spy Simon Pargeter scouts the terrain for Wellington’s army in French-controlled Spain.  Miriella de Teba ye Olivita, the famed Doñabella, wants to give him aid, but she must first find the traitor lurking in her band of guerillas.

Can Simon escape the French patrol hot on his trail?  With Major Pierre LeCuyer actively seeking Doñabella’s identity, can Miri hold her guerrillas together long enough to get the information Simon needs?  Can she locate the traitor before she is unmasked?

Or will the traitors reap the reward while Simon and Miri swing from a gallows?

The Key for Spies, at 98,000 words, is the eighth novel in the Hearts in Hazard series by M.A. Lee.  Set in the Regency era, the Hearts in Hazard series combines suspense and mystery with a dash of romance.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Where do Writers get their Stories?


Where do writers get their stories?

I’m a longtime lover of light romance in a historical time frame.

When I started writing my own stories, it was only natural that several of the novels in my Hearts in Hazard series would have more than a nod to the precursors who formed my love of the genre.

The first HnH, A Game of Secrets, is my poor attempt at a smuggler’s story, à la Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn.

The Danger of Secrets is my homage to Georgette Heyer’s Cousin Kate.

One of my upcoming books in the HnH series, The Key with Hearts, is forming itself around the same concept that formed Heyer’s The Convenient Wife.  I hope I will make my own marriage-of-convenience story a bit more of a love story than Heyer’s—although her story is much more based in reality.

And my marriage-of-convenience will be threatened not only by mistakes and missed opportunities but also the mystery of murder!

My personal favorite by Heyer is Venetia, with The Unknown Ajax only a whisker behind.  You can’t go wrong with either of those books.  Both are excellent romances as well as light comedy, and Ajax goes one better by adding mystery and suspense to the story.  Venetia, however, has characters that appeals just a little bit more.

My recent published book, The Key for Spies, developed out of Georgette Heyer’s Regency era historical novels, where the main focus is on the events rather than the relationships--although the relationships will bring tears to your eyes and we readers have pleasurable meetings with old friends from other Heyer books.

Over the years of reading everything Heyer, I have of course read her An Infamous Army, which concludes with her carefully researched depiction of the Battle of Waterloo, when Wellington and his allies finally and completely defeated Napoleon Bonaparte.  AIA is a precursor for my K4Spies although it is not a direct inspiration.

An Infamous Army is not one of Heyer’s light-hearted joys.  More than anything else, it is an historical novel, and its meticulous detail is off-putting for many.  I don’t remember my first reading of it.  When I finally returned, with another decade of life behind me, I found a much greater understanding of Heyer’s story and much greater patience with her development of it.

If you are a history buff, with Napoleon and Wellington in your sights, AIA is a wonderful source.  The whole back half is a close depiction of the details of this significant battle.

Heyer’s work is so well-researched, as many sources on the internet inform us, that the novel was required reading at Sandhurst, a British military college.  Heyer was even invited to lecture at Sandhurst.  Here is only one source  ~ .  Many other sources abound:  search Heyer, the title, and Sandhurst or military college, and the search engine will provide multiple sites for perusal.

The original ideas swirling for my book, The Key for Spies, were soldier and WellingtonThose two words started my mind spinning.  I had to discover the reason a British soldier would become a spy.

Then comes the next question ~ When and where in the Regency era would a soldier need to be a spy?

I knew of Wellington’s Peninsular campaign (thank you, Ms. Heyer), and so I dug a little bit, looking for soldiers not in battle.  Research into reconnaissance planted the story in Spain, and everything else developed from there.  Miri developed;  her world developed around her.  LeCuyer sprang forth, and then Jesus, Angelo, and the other guerrillas.  Elixane sprang into the story around chapter 10, necessitating going back and adding her at earlier places.

I have enjoyed my journey with K4Spies.  I have researched plants for gardens--jacarandas and cypress walks.  I've explored new house plans and new recipes.  The dinner party Miri unwillingly hosts for the French officers is a dinner that I want to have.  I have also become enamored of the afternoon siesta and wistful about breakfast on the terrace, with lots and lots of coffee.

I hope you will explore the world of The Key for Spies and enjoy my journey—and do try a few of the dishes as well.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Meet one of the 3 Antagonists in Key for Spies

Want to meet a Machiavellian antagonist?  Pierre LeCuyer is leader of the French garrison, against which Miri and Jesus lead the guerrillas.  LeCuyer's searching for the British spy (Simon).

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Meet Jesus Contreras, the beta leader of the guerrillas in Key for Spies

Jesus Contreras, Miri's right-hand with the guerrillas, is the third protagonist in my recent release The Key for Spies.  Here's his introduction (this is from the drafted version;  the final has only a few changes) ~

Black night, Jesus thought as he did on every moonless night.  Black as evil.  Black as charred bones.  Black as blood.
Raucous laughter flooded from the taverna, muffled by the wooden walls.  He imagined his cousin Angelo scooping up more coins, French soldiers downing more wine, sweaty men gathered around the table, vultures wishing they could feed on the French coins the way that Angelo did.  Sour wine and overcooked beans and thick smoke still pricked his nostrils.  The smells countered the chill washing over him from the cold night.
He shivered.  First April meant spring, but the winter had released its grip on the night.  The   The cold night was wiser for him than the overheated tavern.  A soldier had given Angelo a black-browed look, and Jesus had reached for his knife only to remember he couldn’t kill the man.  The soldiers were five too many.  One would be no trouble, two difficult, a third he could take.  Angelo could take the fourth.  But the fifth man?  He would run and fetch the French officers who ruled Britessca.  And his fellow Spaniards gathered round the table?  They were laborers and servants used to the town.  They thought knives only cut meat and bread.
walk home would warm him, but he waited on his cousin.
Jesus had nudged Angelo and pointed to the door.  “Three more,” his cousin said then threw the dice.  And Jesus escaped for any fight started.
The next roar from the taverna was laughter, not the anger he expected.  Maybe this game would end without argument.  Only the black-browed soldier had guessed that the simple paisano was not so simple.
   A month ago in Vittoria, Angelo hadn’t been so lucky.  The men he cheated had beaten him then taken back their hard-won reals and columnarios.  A week later, he appeared at Jesus’ door.  Bruised, his cut lip still swollen and sore, he asked for a room.  He hadn’t complained when Jesus pointed at the estable.  He helped around the farm and worked the estate, and gradually his story came out.
Yet when his bruises faded, he resumed his old tricks, going from taverna to taverna in Britessca, losing and winning, getting a name for his card play and for the todas tablas which sucked in the French soldiers who thought the game simple even as they lost.
Once again, tonight was todas tablas.  His cousin never seemed to have a strategy, but he lost when he bet low and won when it mattered.  He didn’t know how Angelo kept ahead on his bets.
And he was better out here.  If his cousin ran foul of the French officers, his job was to ensure they didn’t kill Angelo.  He kept his eyes on the darkness and his back to the taverna.  He rubbed a thumb over the smooth pommel of his knife.  He could take all five soldiers, one by one, picking them off as they returned to their garrison.  In an alley, in the concealing black against a wall, at the well in the central square.  But one soldier might go upstairs with one of the prostitutas.  One soldier missed meant eyes that had seen Angelo, and tracking Angelo would lead straight to Jesus.
And the priest had reminded him, as he confessed before the Dominica de Passione, that Easter was coming quickly.  The sins he’d committed when he avenged his parents and his little brother and his sister, those were purified by the Crucifixion.  Every confession, the cura reminded Jesus of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, whether Jesus had bloodied his knife on a blue-coat or not.  “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” the priest repeated through the confessional screen.
But the cura had not seen the black-charred bones.  He had not seen the blood smeared on Joska when Jesus found her in the stable.  He had not heard her scream and scream when her own brother carried her to the convent.  The cura did not see the French soldiers winning in taverns and winning time with Spanish woman eager for the Napoleon coins.  He did not see his Spanish countrymen bowing to French masters.  Jesus did, and his stomach revolted, spewing his guts as it had when he uncovered the blackened corpses of his parents huddled with his little brother behind the chimney.
The knife was in his hand.
Cold air filled his mouth.  Jesus deliberately re-sheathed the gleaming blade.  Then he lifted his gaze from the pitch-black street to the sky.  Over the rooftops, a gleam of light caught his eye.  The gilded dome of the Brittesca church caught a stray human light and cast it to the heavens.  He watched the light glint around the dome, tracking someone’s passage across the square, his way lighted by a lantern.
Then greater light poured from the taverna as the door opened.  Jesus didn’t look around.  His shoulders twitched as he waited.  Laughter, talk, someone singing without a tune.  The door shut.  Only then did he turn.
Angelo, night-blind, stood at the door.  A fool’s mistake.  He should have moved to one side or taken a few quick steps ahead.
Another fool’s mistake, to ask a name into the darkness, with wine-drunk soldiers soured by gaming as they boiled up stupid ideas.  “Here, you tonto.”
Angelo stumbled a few steps, but his night-sight came quickly.  “Glad you left.  You give me more black looks than you should.  It makes the Frenchies cautious.”
“Your winnings make them cautious.”  Jesus started walking.  Starlight and the occasional torchlight revealed any obstacles.  Once they passed Brittesca’s walls, only the stars would light the way.  Jesus liked the enveloping dark, but Angelo didn’t.  He covered his blindness with chatter, a word for each step.
“A few of your coins from last week are here.”  He jiggled the leather pouch, silver and copper clinking, a lure for any greedy or starving man.  “Do you want them back?”
“You won them.  You keep them.”
“Call them payment for my room and board.  You won’t lose coins to me in future.  You won’t be playing.”
“I play and see you shift the stones or palm one, and you won’t be playing with all your fingers.  Those Frenchies catch you, and they won’t just beat you.”
Que?  You think this?  I do not.  The world has fools aplenty.”
And Jesus walked beside one of them.
“Your meeting go well?”
“I got what I needed.”
“And what was that?”
Did the fool think he would talk of the information he’d gotten for the guerrillas?  “What I needed.”
Angelo snorted.  “You share less than nothing.  I am blood-kin, Chuy, but you treat me like a stranger.  Doñabella accepted me as one of her guerrillas, but you don’t trust me.”
“Keep your voice down.”
“What did I say?”  When Jesus didn’t answer, Angelo grabbed his arm.  He dropped it and flinched back when light glinted on the sharp blade at his nose.  “You’ll cut me?”
Jesus lowered the knife.  He didn’t remember drawing it.  He stared at the starlit blade.  Then he backed a step before sliding it back into the leather sheath.
Angelo jerked open his pouch and spilled coins into one hand.  A few fell to the ground, clinking on the paving stones.  “Take your back.  I didn’t know they would come between us.  Six coppers and two silvers, wasn’t it?”
“I don’t want them back.”
“I don’t want them either, if you’re hating me for them.”  He picked out the coins then flung them against the wall with more clinking on stone.  “You don’t want them.  I don’t want them.”
“Only a fool throws money away.”
“Then I’m a fool.”  He poured the coins back into the pouch then dropped it into his coat pocket.  “You think I am, anyway.”
“You gamble too much.”
“I win too much,” he chuckled.  “Keeps me warm and fed but makes me no friends.  Not even my cousin.”
“Forget it.  We both will.”
“And you’ll tell me about your meeting?”
“I will only tell Doñabella.”
Angelo snorted.  “I would almost think she had your heart, but I have seen you watching Elixane when you think she is distracted with her little brothers and sisters.  She has a pretty smile.”
Jesus’ hands clenched.  “Never mention her.”
“You will see her Elixane on Sunday.  This Sunday is Dominica de Passione.  She is certain to be there and not tending her sick amona.  Is that how you say ‘grandmother’ here?  Amona?”
“That is the Basque,” he agreed, but he wouldn’t be in Brittesca this Sunday.
The first Sunday of every month, he presented himself at the convent.  Mother Abbess would let him visit Joska on that day, if she would see him.  She had, two months ago, rocking in a chair as Jesus sat awkwardly across from her.  Last month, she had screamed when she saw the tall man standing by the table.  The nun had enfolded her in strong arms and pulled her from the room.  He could hear his sister’s cries for a long time, long after they ended.  The Mother Abbess merely shook her head when he pleaded to see her later in the month.  “You know our rules, Jesus.  Come again.”
“She will weep again,” he muttered bitterly.
But he would go this Sunday.  He might not see her, but he would go every first Sunday in the hope.  Joska needed to know that her brother still loved her.  She needed to know that not all men intended to hurt her.  And she needed to know that he was getting vengeance for her.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Meet the second protagonist in Key for Spies

Meet Miriella Teba, hiding her identity as Donabella, leader of the guerrillas, in my recent release, The Key for Spies.

This is from the drafted version ~ with a few minor changes, it's the final copy published.

The red draperies belled out as the night breeze strengthened.  The candles guttered, spilling wax down the heavy silver candelabra.  The chill breeze stirred the red velvet curtaining the canopied bed.  Shivering at that touch, cold as ice, cold as the grave, Miri rose from the straight-backed chair beside the bed and crossed to the windows.  The wool carpet covering the tiles muffled her heels, but the carpet didn’t reach the windows.  Her heels tapped on the patterned titles for only a few steps.  Then she slipped through the billowing curtains.
The day’s warmth, palpable as the soft curtains, had dissipated in the hours she watched her aitona sleep.  Hand on the latch, she took one step more, onto the balcony, and looked up at the moonless sky.  Countless stars twinkled, white and cold, distant and uncaring.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Meet the Protagonist of Key for Spies

A quick look at Simon Pargeter from the drafted opening of Key for Spies:

Moonless night, one worthy of ghosts.
Simon shivered as he stared at the twinkling stars.  The boulder he leaned against had lost its sun-drenched heat.  Winter still lurked in the ground.  The sky was clear, cold, but still warmer than any English Spring.  He might shiver in his wool jacket, but he wouldn’t freeze.  And he wouldn’t risk a fire.  He’d only shaken the French patrol in the early afternoon.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Mini Movie for Key for Spies

Find it here since Blogspot doesn't really like to show videos of any sort.  The link will take you to my youtube channel.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Celebrating Key for Spies

Celebrating the publication of my most recent book, The Key for Spies.

Available here on Amazon.

Spies and traitors.  Lies and treachery.  Unexpected love where bullets fly.

One traitor destroys loyalty.  What will two traitors destroy?

The British spy Simon Pargeter scouts the terrain for Wellington’s army in French-controlled Spain.  Miriella de Teba ye Olivita, the famed Doñabella, wants to give him aid, but she must first find the traitor lurking in her band of guerillas.

Can Simon escape the French patrol hot on his trail?  With Major Pierre LeCuyer actively seeking Doñabella’s identity, can Miri hold her guerrillas together long enough to get the information Simon needs?  Can she locate the traitor before she is unmasked?

Or will the traitors reap the reward while Simon and Miri swing from a gallows?

The Key for Spies, at 98,000 words, is the eighth novel in the Hearts in Hazard series by M.A. Lee.  Set in the Regency era, the Hearts in Hazard series combines suspense and mystery with a dash of romance.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Anniversary of Publication: The Dangers of Secrets

One of my favorite titles!  The Dangers of Secrets, a Regency romantic suspense

Secrets of family.  Secrets of hearts.  Secrets of blood and pain.

Secrets can kill.

Maddy Whittaker, on the shelf for years, never expects the man of her dreams will be the one
she once called "a stick in the mud".

Banished from a country party so she won’t ruin her sisters’ chances in snaring husbands, Maddy is sent to visit a cousin named Simon Jespers, who is hosting his own Valentine’s party.  She expects three weeks of boredom.

Gordon, Lord Musgrove, expects he will propose to a biddable lady and live unhappily ever after.

He escapes his mother’s country party (where the dowager Musgrove expects her only son to snare a wife) for one last bid at freedom.  He decides to retreat to his friend Simon Jespers.  Gordon never expects that his friend will be hosting a Valentine’s party.  He does expect days and days of boredom.

On arrival at Jespers’ country manor, Maddy and Gordon meet for the first time.  A quick flirtation finds them well matched in mind and soul, and the flirtation changes into romance.

Yet a secret from Maddy’s past threatens their future.

And a serial murderer threatens Maddy’s life.

Can Gordon overcome past secrets and present dangers to marry his perfect match?

The Dangers of Secrets is a romantic Regency suspense of approximately 56,000 words.

The character of Gordon, Lord Musgrove, was first introduced in A Game of Spies, published in the fall of 2015.

Warning: While the romance is sweet, the murders have been described as sordid.  Unwanted memories of physical abuse may be triggered.  Please be cautious.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Last Words Typed Today!

I'm celebrating.  The draft of The Key for Spies is finished!

Revisions (which is fixing and correcting) and editing (and looking for typos) remain ahead.  Then publication.

I've struggling with this book since May.  This book missed every deadline I set for it.

As usual, after I planned and plotted it, it morphed on the way to the page.  Characters came in who were totally unexpected.  Things exploded.  Blood spurted.  Kisses happened.

Other things constantly interrupted:  a revision of Think like a Pro and the brilliant idea to do a planner for writers, called Think/Pro were the first interruptions.

Then, since my friends and I have made a lot of changes in LIVING, I developed the 2*0*4 Lifestyle planner to keep us all on track and shared it with everyone through publishing.

I did several promotions for the writing book and planner and the 2*0*4 planners (7 covers to choose from!) last autumn.  You can check previous posts for more information.  And they're always on my author page on Amazon.

In the midst of working on 2*0*4, I realized I needed to initiate the Great Website Rebuild.  Actually, I need to title it the GREAT WEBSITE REBUILD.  There, it has the proper presentation of the way it took over my life for about 6 weeks.

I was hoping the GWR would lead to fewer "promotional" posts as I try to get my writing names out into the world.  It didn't.  I've got to cut somewhere.  Posting takes too much time since I'm responsible for this blog and Edie Roones and Remi Black and Writers Ink Books and Writers Ink Services and the Facebook posts for Wednesday and Saturday and Monday.  60 spots every month.  That's much too much.  It will cut down.  It has to.

And I've learned to paint ceilings and walls, to cut in with paint so we can roll later.  I've swept up nails and sanding dust and bits of wire and gathered up plumbing fixtures and peeled off window film and all sorts of things.

But, with all that and with everything else that came crashing in, K4SPIES is finished. !!!

I'm totally happy.

For about three seconds. ;)

Time to start The Key with Hearts.

It's already boiling around in my mind.

A convenient marriage inconveniently causes murder.

More mystery than suspense.  Still a dash of romance.

2019 will have more biz-related work as I consider going wide after being exclusive to Amazon.

More books to write, which always makes me happy.  After delaying this writing dream for so long, I am ecstatic every time I finish a book and turn to the next one.

Count me happy this 5th day of the 2019!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Transformation is the Goal for 2019

A Planned Transformation?  Easy enough . . . with the 2 * 0 * 4 Lifestyle Planner.

7 cover versions:  Mountain River, Woodland, Meadow, Floral, Teatime, English Cottage, and Cityscape.
The Mountain River cover

Need more information? 

Available exclusively on Amazon, $1.-- for each month for a total price of $12.00.  What a bargain!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Keeping Warm: Recommended for January

For an Afternoon Cuppa to Keep you Warm

I brew my coffee (freshly ground, filtered water, slow perk) every morning and limit m
yself to 2 cups of caffeinated daily. Sometimes, though, I just want coffee in the afternoon. One cup, that’s all.

Prerequisites: organic. Decaf. Quick. Good tasting. This hits those four marks, and the taste is better than good.

I like my coffee black, but sometimes a bit of cream is an indulgence. This stands up to the cream: the coffee flavor becomes smoother but isn’t overwhelmed.

It also is a great base on which to build Irish coffee (a spoon of whipped cream, a few crystals of turbinado sugar, a splash of Makers Mark, and this: now that’s Irish coffee!). The coffee flavor doesn’t get lost; all the flavors come together for divine relaxation on a winter’s evening.

This is a repeat buy.

If traveling and need decaf (or caffeinated), Mount Hagen offers little convenience packets as well. Thank you, Mt Hagen, for making travel still organic!

While this links to Amazon, I am not associated and receive no money.

The Danger of Secrets ~ Paperback Now Available

A baffling murder interrupts a charming romance in The Danger of Secrets . Too bad for Maddy and Gordon that secrets can kill.