August 3, 2021–Oh, what a night! About 90 people got together outside on the stunning patio behind Orozco’s de Ventura Mexican restaurant at the beach in Ventura, California. They were there to help me celebrate the release of Dead Letters, Claudia Rose novel #8. Click on the video above for a one-minute tour of the party (Slate Start Productions). The talented Amy Herron documented the evening with her photography.

Everyone who came received an Eye of Horus decoration for protection and good luck (we can all use some), handpainted by my clever and artistic sister, Sara Taylor, who also made a load of yummy chocolate caramel pretzel rods (she’s a chef). And if that wasn’t enough, she brought her artwork to give away as door prizes. Mary Gabriels supplied a bunch of golf shirts and backpacks, in keeping with the Egyptian theme, embroidered with ankhs. If you’d wanted to know what you’d look like as a mummy, you could do that, too (see photo below).

My book launch parties are networking events, which means that everyone who brought a prize got a turn at the mic to talk about whatever they wanted. There were prizes galore. After enjoying delicious Mexican food made from our host Guillermo Orozco’s mom’s recipes, we enjoyed cake: chocolate with raspberry filling and vanilla with chocolate frosting and custard filling (my mouth is still watering). And on top of that, Connie Hood brought Egyptian cookies to die for (which is appropriate for a mystery novel party, wouldn’t you say?).

Local authors, James Gray and Connie Hood, had their books available, too. Anna Crowe, the voice of Claudia Rose on 8 of my ten audiobooks was there, along with folk from various groups I frequent, including Ventura County Professional Women’s Network, Hillside Book Club, Candlelighters. Lots of others people, too. Bobbie Cimo–I’m talking about you. Thanks for the help in setting up.

Charles Talmadge provided music. Debbie Mitsch of Mystery Ink, assisted by Nanette Heisen, drove the 100 miles north from Huntington Beach to handle book sales. Thank you! And thank you to our charming (and good-looking) host, for transforming his patio into a beautiful venue for the fully vaccinated or fully masked to spread out and enjoy one of the first social events most guests had attended since you-know-what started last year (like Voldemort, it shall not be named).

More thanks due to very dear out-of-town friends: Carol Brown, Nina Nelson, and Linda Larson, who couldn’t be present but sent gorgeous flower arrangements. Christine and Rita, and Liz drove all the way down from the Bay Area (more than 300 miles). Can you tell I have some amazing friends and readers who support me through the throes of book publishing? It’s a lot like having a baby, and the gestation takes as long.

Finally, the Very Important Person who made the publishing process less painful than it might have been was Victoria Rydberg-Nania. She acted as midwife the whole way through and did all the hard stuff. There can’t be enough thanks for all she did. The last picture in the gallery is of her sweet little boy, Jay, who was the recipient of my feeble attempt at appreciation. Looks like he was ready to enjoy the cookies.