Slips of Yew by Carol Shay Hornung: A Dez Duchiene Mystery

Please welcome to the blog Carol Shay Hornung, as she shares a bit about herself and the first in a series of mysteries with Dez Duschiene and his new husband, Stevie.

Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Dez Duchiene is a hospitality professional who dabbles in politics and moves to New York City where he marries architect Stevie Langford and lives happily until a detective knocks on his door, asking about the death of a prominent conservative politician.
 

Whitney Travers was a former boss and friend, and despite their differing political views, Dez feels compelled to figure out who killed him, despite his husband’s objections. Wisconsin is trying to pass a religious freedom bill that would curtail gay rights, and Stevie is uncomfortable every minute they stay after attending the funeral.  


Coming of age during the Act 10 protests that rocked the city in 2011, Dez feels like he’s in a familiar fight, one the liberals lost all those years ago. He walks a diplomatic line between the conservatives and liberals to collect information – but can he solve the mystery and save his marriage before it’s too late?
 
Kindle and Paperback are available on Amazon.
 

 

Hello, Carol! Welcome to my blog and thank you for answering my nosy, I mean discerning, questions!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Carol Shay Hornung – I’m a behind-the-scenes media specialist by day – I’ve worked in radio and print advertising for … many years. I went to Ripon College and was delighted to be a part of a co-ed fraternity that condemned hazing and embraced inclusion. As a result, my stories tend to have strong bonds between friends – found family – rather than traditional family structures.

What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

Born in Chicago, but I’ve called Madison, Wisconsin home for most of my life. Four amazing lakes, miles of biking trails, and an inclusive, liberal brand of thinking that I find I can’t live without.  

How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I’ve been a writer since I was twelve, when a movie I loved ended “badly” and I felt the need to rewrite the ending! I’m always happiest when I’m working on a project and for the last few years I’ve always had something to work on – few dry spells!

How would you characterize your stories? As romance, erotica, or something entirely different?

I write mainstream/mystery/LGBTQ/Lit … I don’t really fall in a specific category. I want to take LGBTQ characters away from the supporting roles and make them heroes, the driving forces behind the books, and there’s always a basic mystery to solve. On a mainstream level, things that happen in one book follow through to the next, an overall story arc. I have a love/hate relationship with lit – I want to employ the same craft techniques of theme and symbolism and character development, but I want to avoid the sadness, angst, and unlikeable heroes that often come along with lit. Good stuff that’s fun, with a dash of glitter. That’s my category.

Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created? Why does this character resonate with you?

OMG. There is no one quite like Dez Duchiene. He came out of nowhere and absolutely insisted on running his first story through NaNo (National Novel Writing Month, held each November) in three weeks, then demanded a second book in December. I’ve found a voice through him that fits my heart and soul. I’ve always been drawn to writing male characters, but my critique group would say “Oh, a guy wouldn’t say/do that.” So I’d work on strong female characters. “Oh, she’s not emotional enough.” Dez came along – male presenting, with a gender neutral first name, and a husband (which fits my orientation. Stevie is damn fine) – and I’m suddenly able to do whatever I want with him since he is absolutely not constricted by pre-established gender norms. He’s smart, considerate, snarky, sometimes selfish, extroverted (I’m not), and hates Broadway musicals … and I love him.

How often does your real life experience figure into your story telling? Do you base characters or stories on your actual experiences?

Real life always factors into my stories. Each book in the Dez Duchiene series takes place in a specific city – the first is Madison, the second will be Nashville, TN, and I’m able to work in real locations to make the setting vivid. Plot-wise, I deal with real issues. In Slips of Yew, Stevie is uncomfortable in Wisconsin because he sees it as a red state and feels threatened and unwelcome by the politics. A friend of mine did, in fact say that he didn’t want to visit Wisconsin for those reasons. I also explore the psychology of conservatives and liberals interacting which has become more and more of a challenge these days. And going back to hating musicals … that came from my stylist who just groaned when I told him I was going to New York City and he said “I don’t do the Broadway thing.” What a great characteristic to help smash stereotypes! (Personally, I love musicals. But Dez doesn’t need to know that).

Editing: love it or hate it?

I delight in editing. I stress over getting the initial story written. I’m a mostly-pantser in that when I get an idea, I’ll write the first draft as simply and quickly as I can to lock down the basic story – in a way, I write a wordy outline with scenes and character development! Then I go back and flesh out the details and descriptions, enhance the subplots and make sure everything weaves together nicely. Finally, I go through and line edit the book in the extreme – I search for all those annoying crutch words and actions (look, shrug, sigh, turn, etc.) and replace them with meaningful actions and/or internalization. A few more read-throughs to make sure it’s smooth and logical (had a character put on shoes three times in one scene – that needed help!) and get it ready to be published.

Do you miss your characters when you come to the end of their story? Do you find ways to write sequels for them or do you become entranced with a new set?

My first two books Asperger Sunset, and Ghost of Heffron College, were stand-alone books. I had little sparks of ideas for possible sequels but nothing grabbed me. I was done. The Dez Duchiene mysteries are designed to be a series, and the characters grow and change as the books progress through time. In the first book Dez and Stevie are newlyweds, by the fifth book they are approaching middle age and all the experiences that come with that. I had books 1 and 2 written, with a solid idea for book 3 and my husband and I were on vacation in downtown Chicago. We were walking along Lake Michigan and he points and says “this is where the body washes up.” By the time we reached Buckingham Fountain, I had dozens of ideas racing through my head and had to frantically type it all into my phone so I wouldn’t forget any of it! Each book is a stand-alone mystery but they will be in a specific order, with events that happen in one book informing the events in the next. I love these characters and am perfectly content to write these stories as long as I can. It’s nice knowing I don’t have to say goodbye. I would definitely miss them.

In addition to Slips of Yew, I’ve published a paranormal mystery, The Ghost of Heffron College, and a more traditional mystery with a protagonist with autism, Asperger Sunset. All three books can be ordered through your favorite local bookstore or ordered from Amazon. You can find out more on my Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Carol-Shay-Hornung/e/B00DV3VZJS/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CarolShayHornung

Blog: https://carolshayhornung.wordpress.com/

 There you have it, everyone! I can’t wait to check out Slips of Yew–I adore mysteries and I want to meet Dez for myself! Thanks for sharing with us, Carol!

Bishop’s Gambit on Sale for a Limited Time! #MFRWHooks #MFRWAuthor

I participated in a TON of events and book fairs for Valentine’s Day this year, and as such, Bishop’s Gambit has been on sale for just 99 cents! But all good things come to a close, and the discount ends March 14th!

 

So grab your copy at this great price now! And come see what people are saying about this second installment in the award-winning Redclaw Origins Series! 

Click on the PLAY button if the video doesn’t auto-start!

 

 

This is post is part of the BookHooks blog hop so check out the other great stories available on the list!

 


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February is for Lovers: Valentine’s Day Book Fair and Winter Games Reader Challenge

Oh my!

February is a CRAZY month for romance authors because there are so many parties, special events, and book deals to be had! I may have gone a bit overboard this year, promising to take part it too many events all coinciding together, but YOU are the winner here!

From Feb 14-21 you can take part in the Valentine’s Day Book Boyfriend Bonanza–all books listed are less than $2!

BOOK BOYFRIEND VALENTINE’S DAY BONANZA
BOOKFAIR AND GIVEAWAY
ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!
Check out these hotties and super fun reads all for under $1.99 … social distancing this
Valentine’s Day couldn’t be hotter!

 

Prizes include a Kindle Fire HD and an ebook prize pack of more than twenty romance novels, including award winners and bestsellers! All you have to do is follow me and these other awesome writers on social media. The more authors your follow and like, the more times you’re entered to win.

 

To celebrate having Bishop’s Gambit nominated in the 2020 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards and to participate in these fests, Bishop’s Gambit is only 99 cents on Amazon for a limited time!

And it’s not too late to sign up for the Winter Games Reader Challenge–the clock started today, but you can catch up! What are you waiting for?

If you love to read, Winter Games is for YOU! A one month reader Challenge with parties, prizes, signed print books, and what you love best––FREE BOOKS.

PLUS, you’ll meet some amazing authors and party with them in a live Q & A!

WE promise to give you an amazing experience.

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Sign Up Now––It’s FREE!

Join Winter Games on the official sign up form today and be ready for an amazing ride! Simply Click on the picture for the Reader Sign-Up Form…

 

 

 

READERS––Sign up for your chance to win $200.00 in our 2021 WINTER GAMES READER CHALLENGE!

A Switch In Time copy

To participate as a Winter Games Reader, you MUST fill out the Official Sign up Form.

So Click Here NOW

Bishop’s Gambit is up for an award and YOU’RE the Winner! #MFRWHooks #MFRWAuthor

 

Goodness, what is it about the month of February! So much love in the air, right?

Bishop’s Gambit is up for an award in the 2020 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice Awards in the Romance/Paranormal/Fantasy/Vampires & Shifters category and the competition is FIERCE. Voting closes Feb 12th, so you should check out the list of fantastic nominees! You’re sure to see your favorites there!

To celebrate, Bishop’s Gambit is currently on sale (Amazon only) for 99 cents for a limited time! Been waiting to try out one of my books? Here’s your chance to grab a story Kirkus Reviews describes as “thoroughly entertaining and witty, with a nicely judged mix of genres.” Bishop’s Gambit has also been named a Top Pick by The Romance Reviews and was given a 4.5 rating by InD’Tale Magazine.

The year is 1955. Rebel without a Cause and The Seven Year Itch are playing in the  movie theaters. The Chevy Bel Air is the most popular car in America. Gas is 25 cents a gallon and you can get a hotel room for $4 bucks. This flirty, fun series takes us back to the beginning and shows us how Redclaw Security got started.

They’re back and the fun–and trouble–is just beginning! Join Bishop and Knight as they must pose as a married couple to root out the strange disturbances occurring in an upscale suburban neighborhood! 

This post is part of a blog hop, so be sure to check out the other posts in the hop! Link below.

 

 

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February is Romance Reader’s Month: Deals, Parties, and Specials!

Love is in the air come February!

Magazines write (frequently incorrect) posts detailing the fascination and appeal of love stories. Jewelry stores and dating apps bombard you with ads.

And romance writers gear up for all kinds of celebrations–which usually means great deals for the romance reader! That’s YOU.

First up in my news: Bishop’s Gambit is up for an award in the 2020 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice Awards! You can only vote once so I recommend you screen the list of candidates carefully before choosing–there may be more of your favorite books on the list than you realize! Bishop’s Gambit is in the Romance/Paranormal/Fantasy/Vampires & Shifters category, and let me tell you, the competition is FIERCE! I would really appreciate your support if you would consider voting for me. But be sure to scan the list of ALL the nominees before you make your final choice!

Next up: Feb 8 through 14th, I’ll be a participating author in the Fall in Love with a Book Fair taking place on Facebook! It’s like the Scholastic Book Fair day at school, only online in the comfort of your own home! Meet the authors, participate in games, win prizes, and find some terrific new-to-you books to read! It’s going to be great fun–join us!

Click on the button for the moving graphics!

And then starting Feb 14 through March 14, I’ll be a participating author in the Winter Games Reader Challenge on Facebook!

If you love to read, Winter Games is for YOU! A one month reader Challenge with parties, prizes, signed print books, and what you love best––FREE BOOKS.

PLUS, you’ll meet some amazing authors and party with them in a live Q & A!

WE promises to give you an amazing experience.

To participate as a Winter Games Reader, you MUST fill out the Official Sign up Form.

So Click Here NOW!

What does this mean for you as a romance reader? Lots of deals, specials, and parties! To celebrate the nomination and as part of the participation in these various fests, Bishop’s Gambit has been reduced to 99 cents for a limited time. So be sure to grab this story at the special price before it goes back up again! It’s a hot deal for the cold month of February!

I’m going to be running some games and offering prizes in the various fests I’m participating in, so you should join in the fun and get in on all the specials!  C’mon! Valentine’s Day is like Christmas for Romance Readers!

Wait, wait! I almost forgot! Ghost of a Chance is a Toasty Read Pick in the N.N. Light’s Book Heaven Giveaway! So head on over and read a snippet of Ghost before you enter the giveaway: all 12 of the books featured in the Toasty Reads Event!

I’m sure I’ve left something out, but if I have, you can be sure I’ll post about it! 🙂

 

 

Bishop Takes Knight Named a Finalist in the 2020 N.N. Light Book Awards!

Last night I did something highly unusual for me: I didn’t open up my laptop at all. I checked a few things on my cell phone, but I don’t have access to all my email accounts there, so it wasn’t until this morning that I realized I’d left the laptop in the car overnight during subfreezing temperatures.

When I realized my mistake, I brought my poor laptop inside and let it come to room temperature before turning it on. Which is why I didn’t find out until JUST NOW that Bishop Takes Knight has been named a finalist in the 2020 N.N. Light Book Awards!

This is me, putting my hands over my face to hide my emotions right now because even though 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for us all, Bishop Takes Knight has consistently been a bright spot in it for me. Thank you, N.N. Light, for such a terrific honor.

Want a little sneak peek at Bishop Takes Knight? Check out this amazing book trailer my husband made for me. He doesn’t know it, but he’s been drafted to do all my book trailers from now on!

 

Bishop’s Gambit Named a Top Pick by The Romance Reviews! #MFRWauthor #MFRWHooks #giveaway

I’m delighted to announce that Bishop’s Gambit (Redclaw Origins Book 2) has been named a Top Pick by The Romance Reviews! You should have seen my face when I read the review! I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I had so much fun writing this story and can’t wait to bring you the next installment, Bishop’s Endgame, planned for the fall of 2021.

Redclaw Origins: The year is 1955. Rebel without a Cause and The Seven Year Itch are playing in the  movie theaters. The Chevy Bel Air is the most popular car in America. Gas is 25 cents a gallon and you can get a hotel room for $4 bucks. This flirty, fun series takes us back to the beginning and shows us how Redclaw Security got started.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

As I’d hoped, my shout caused the bathroom door to explode open as Knight burst out, his skin damp and a towel gathered around his waist.

Well, that wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for, but the results were astonishing just the same. Momentarily stunned by the gleaming expanse of wet skin, as well as some rather impressive musculature for a scientist, I blanked for a second on the reason I’d called out in the first place.

But just for a second.

I snatched up Stirling’s flowers as the gunman transferred his aim from the dog to Knight. His finger was closing on the trigger when I hurled the vase.

 

To celebrate this news, I’m going to select a winner at random from one commenter to receive an audiobook of my steamy novella, Snowfall, set in the Redclaw universe and read by the dreamy Josh MacCrae. Giveaway closes 9 pm EST Dec 12. If you’re not chosen but you’d like to read Snowfall for free, just sign up for my newsletter! Snowfall is also available for sale on Amazon and as an audiobook (links here on my book page).

Let’s make this fun! What’s your favorite Christmas movie or special (or tradition, if you’re not into watching specials), and why? I watched Last Holiday the other day, and it is definitely a favorite. But around here, it’s not Christmas until we’ve watched the Muppet Christmas Carol!

This post is part of a book hop, so be sure to check out the other posts at the link below!

 

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Bishop’s Gambit Release Day and Launch Party!

It’s here! Today is the day Bishop’s Gambit, the next installment of the award-winning Redclaw Origins series, is available to download!

I can’t tell you how excited I am about sharing this story with you. It was a long time coming–I’d planned for an earlier release date, but then the pandemic hit and life changed for everyone. You’d think that would mean more time for writing, but like so many people, it upended our household, and forced us to make some tough choices.

I’m pleased as punch to be able to release it now, however!

The old gang is back: Ryker, Mr. J, Miss Climpson, Em, and of course, little Captain, the terrier with a terrible secret. To redeem herself in Redclaw Security’s eyes after the debacle of her first mission, probationary agent Rhett Bishop must undertake a delicate assignment: pose as a married couple with Dr. Peter Knight to investigate a series of paranormal circumstances in an upscale 1950s suburban neighborhood! Here, malice is served with a smile and a slice of apple pie. No wonder Rhett would rather face down a horde of wolf-shifters than deal with the Ladies Association…

It’s the X-Files meets Leave it to Beaver in Redclaw Origins Book 2.

Did I mention there was only one bed?

Bishop’s Gambit is now available from Amazon and these other retailers.

Want to join my launch team for Bishop’s Gambit? I would love your help in spreading the word!

For one week we’ll be sharing about the book release and you will have the chance to win some great prizes!

I have three deluxe reader prize baskets, and I’ll give away 5 more paperback copies of my books! You can win simply by following the directions to help share and spread the word about Bishop’s Gambit.

This is specifically designed to reward my most loyal fans, friends, and dedicated readers, so click HERE to join the private Facebook group so you’ll be in the loop and eligible for prizes. All the details are there!

I’ve already received a delightful review from The Genre Minx Book Reviews, so check it out!

So this is me, tossing a fistful of confetti in the air and running off. Yay!

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order Links for Bishop’s Gambit!

I don’t know about you, but I never have the patience to do a true “cover reveal” the way some people do. When I get my gorgeous new cover, I want to shout about it from the rooftops! I was pretty good this time–I let my newsletter list have the image and links almost three whole days before everyone else–but I can’t wait any longer! Without further ado, I present to you Bishop’s Gambit (Redclaw Origins Book Two)

Doesn’t Reese Dante do amazing work? I just adore this cover!

Poor Rhett. Evicted from her apartment for hiding a dog from her landlady, and still on probation for the way things turned out in Bishop Takes Knight, she opts to take on an undercover assignment where she and Knight must pose as a married couple to investigate inexplicable events in an upscale suburban community. Instead of fending off wolf-shifters and her father’s former mob contacts, she’s joining the country club, playing bridge, and baking cakes for the Ladies Association meetings. Okay, she’s buying bakery store cakes and passing them off as her own, but still.

Give her a bad guy to shoot any day.

At least she still has her trusty ray gun. And if Redclaw’s main competitor, Rian Stirling, is hanging about, there must be something to these unusual activities, right?

She’ll just have to put her budding relationship with Knight on hold until they solve this mystery. After all, they’re professionals here. Even if there is only one bed.

Pre-order Bishop’s Gambit from  Amazon and these other retailers.

 

The Kind of List You Want to Be On

I had a kind of crappy day today.

The odd thing is, nothing truly bad happened. Certainly not by 2020’s standards. I had a minor disappointment with the upcoming launch of Bishop’s Gambit. Very minor. On the scale of pain and suffering, it was right up there with a stubbed toe–the kind that makes you curse and hop around on one foot but then moments later, you’ve forgotten all about it. Or at least I should have. Instead, I let my disappointment escalate into a mini-meltdown. It wasn’t until later that I realized the writing setback was a safe thing for me to get upset about. There are a lot of upsetting and distressing things going on right now and yet I focused on the toe-stub instead of the car crash, if you catch my drift.

So it was with great pleasure that I received a message from author Beth Linton with a link to a blog post she’d written listing “10 Best Romance Novels.” I was delighted to find Bishop Takes Knight there! I definitely needed that boost today! It reminded me that I’d recently run across another such list from Barbara Strickland in her Chilling Corner in August, that also counted Bishop Takes Knight among her recommended reads.

I have to tell you, these posts pulled me right out of my pity party. Especially because they also recommended such delicious reads I couldn’t wait to add them to my TBR stack!

And speaking of adding to the TBR stack, I’m going to be doing a cover reveal for Bishop’s Gambit as soon as I have a pre-order link! Yay! So stay tuned. It won’t be long now!