Monday, October 24, 2011

Mondays With Mike: Sparkle Abbey and a New Mystery Series

Mary Lee with Sparkle (l) and Anita with Abbey
PEOPLE WHO KNOW me know that I love animals so when I found two local writers authoring a new “Pampered Pets Mysteries” I had to find out more.  The writers are Mary Lee Woods (Sparkle) and Anita Carte (Abbey) who write under the name … well, you guessed it … Sparkle Abbey.  Their first book, Desperate Housedogs (how’s that for a title!) will be released next week, so please meet Sparkle and Abbey.
Mike:  Welcome, both of you.  First tell me a little bit about you as Sparkle Abbey then something about Mary Lee and Anita.
Sparkle Abbey:  We write the Pampered Pets mystery series together as Sparkle Abbey. We're also friends and neighbors so you'll often find us writing at ML's dining room table or at our local Starbucks. We live in central Iowa, but if we could write anywhere, you would find us on the beach with our laptops and depending on the time of day either an iced tea or a margarita.
Here’s a little bit about each of us:
Mary Lee is an avid reader and supporter of public libraries. She lives in Central Iowa with her husband, Tim, and Sparkle, the rescue cat. In her day job she is the non-techie in the City of Des Moines IT Department. Any spare time she spends reading and enjoying her sons and daughter-in-laws, and four grandchildren.
In Anita’s day job, she works for a staffing company in sales and marketing. She also lives in Central Iowa with her husband and four children, son-in-law, grandchild and two rescue dogs, Abby and Chewy. Her family is glad all the years of “fending for yourself” dinners of spaghetti and frozen pizza have finally paid off even though they haven't stopped.
Mary Lee is President and Anita is Vice-President of Sisters in Crime – Iowa.
M:  How did you decide to team up to write? 
SA: We had belonged to the same critique for several years and had been writing and submitting separately. This was a concept we came up with together and so we decided to team up on the series.
M:  And what are the mechanics of writing as a team? 
SA:  We’ve taken a unique approach to co-writing. The Pampered Pets Mystery Series features amateur sleuths who are cousins. Books 1 & 3 star Caro Lamont, a psychologist turned pet therapist, and books 2 & 4 star Melinda Langston, a dog boutique owner. We share the Laguna Beach setting and some quirky secondary characters. Also, the cousins have cameos in one another’s books. We work closely together on the outline and we frequently work across the table from one other.
M:  How did you come up with the name “Sparkle Abby”?
SA: When our publisher asked us to choose a pen name we chose to use Sparkle Abbey because we liked the idea of combining the names of our two rescue pets - Sparkle (ML's cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). Our other choice was “Chewbacca Matisse” our other pets but Sparkle Abbey seemed a little catchier.
M:  Have either of you written “solo”?
SA:  We’ve both written solo for several years and have each won writing contests but this is the first fiction publication for either of us.
M:  Can you tell me a little about your upcoming Pampered Pets mystery series?  I understand the first book in the series Desperate Housedogs is being released the first of November.  Can you give me a teaser on it? And the upcoming books in the series, Get Fluffy, Kitty, Kitty, Bang, Bang and Yip Tuck.
SA:  Desperate Housedogs (Nov 1, 2011):
  When Caro Lamont, former psychologist turned pet therapist makes a house call to help a client with his dogs, she expects frantic dogs, she expects a frantic dog owner, she even expects frantic neighbors.  What Caro doesn’t expect is that two hours later her client is dead and she is knee deep in murder doo doo. Now with a killer on the loose, her best friend, Diana, in jail, and the police suspicious of her motives, Caro is chasing her tail, sniffing out a killer, and hoping the killer doesn’t find her first.
Get Fluffy (Early 2012):
Disgraced Texas beauty queen, Melinda (Mel) Langston owns Laguna Beach’s Bow Wow Boutique. Mona Michaels, Mel’s most despised client, owns a star dog, Fluffy, who's worth millions.  When Mona is found whacked in the head with Fluffy’s Daytime Emmy, everyone wants Fluffy…except Mel. And someone won't stop at murder to get what they want. Secrets...Blackmail...Kidnapping... Mel is like a dog with a bone. But can she dig up the truth before the killer buries her.
Kitty, Kitty, Bang, Bang
When Caro's friend and neighbor, Kitty Bardot, is found gunned down on Pacific Coast Highway just minutes after leaving a star-studded holiday party at the posh Laguna Montage, the police are stumped.  The popular Hollywood publicist was well-loved by not only her clients but everyone in the art community and the police seem ready to call Kitty a road rage casualty. But when Laguna art patrons begin contacting Caro with catty tidbits of information that hint at a scandal in Kitty's past, Caro is determined to get to the bottom of who shot Kitty.
Yip Tuck:
Laguna Beach's top plastic surgeon, Jack O'Doggle drops dead in front of the Mel’s shop the Bow Wow Boutique. The last person to see him alive was his blind date and Mel’s best friend…Darby. Mel and Darby put their amateur sleuth skills to the test once again as they expose the doctor's double life as a drag queen named “Jackie O” and the long list of performers who wanted top billing.
M:  What started each of you writing? 
ML: I started writing because I loved reading so much. Like many authors it seems like I’ve always written in one form or another, but it was really my love of mysteries that started me thinking I’d like to try my hand at writing one.
Anita: I love reading and storytelling. Even in my everyday life, when I’m recounting what happened throughout the day, it’s a story. In the 5th grade there was a class assignment to create a book, which had to include a story and a book cover. I still have that book. It’s bad, but I love it. After that I must have been bitten by the writing bug. I wrote poems, songs, and novels. But it wasn’t until 1998 that I started writing toward the goal of publication
M: What are your writing habits? In other words, do you write each day, morning, evening, etc.?
ML:  I’d like to have more time to write. My life is very full and that’s a wonderful thing! However, with crazy busy family life and crazy busy work life, I find writing is mostly an evenings and weekend pursuit. I do try to write a little or plot a little everyday to keep my head in the story.
Anita: Since I work fulltime, I don’t always have large writing blocks. I write after work and on the weekends. I found I really can be creative while writing under a true deadline.
M:  Do you have any special marketing plans or contests for Desperate Housedogs?
SA: We do have some special marking plans!
We will a guest at Joanna Campbell Slan’s Facebook Halloween Party sometime between 9:00 PM and midnight.
We’ll be hosting a “Yappy Hour” dog walk from 5:00 to 7:00 PM on November 11th in Des Moines’ Historic East Village which will benefit Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary and Rescue.
We also will be partnering with the ARL of Central Iowa on their “Raise Your Paw” auction for naming rights to feature a lucky bidder’s pet’s name in an upcoming Pampered Pets book.
M:  Any hobbies, etc. for spare time?
SA: What spare time? LOL We both have very active family lives and so pretty much any time not spent working or writing is family time. If we had more time, we both love to travel. Maybe someday.
M: How can readers contact you?
SA: Readers can reach us through our website at or via email at  Also, if readers are interested in other books featuring furry friends, we have a website that lists other mystery authors with pet-themed books at:
Our books are available through your local bookseller or on Amazon or Barnes and Noble online; and all are available in e-format for Kindle or Nook.
M:  Can you give us some information on the book launch for Desperate Housedogs?
SA:  Yes, here it is:
The book launch will be November 1st at the Des Moines Public Library Downtown (1000 Grand) at 6:30 PM. We’ve partnered with the Animal Rescue League of Central Iowa for the launch and so they’ll also be on site with some information. We invite readers and writers to join us for a short talk, booksigning, and some giveaways. For those who live too far away to make the launch, we’re inviting those who would like to participate in a Desperate Housedogs “flash mob” where sometime on November 1, they visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out what the book’s about and if they like what they see they - “Like” us.
M:  I’d like to thank you both for taking the time to be with me today; good luck on the launch and the entire series.
SA: Thanks so much for inviting us! As you can tell, we’ve had a lot of fun writing the books and we’re pretty excited about the launch of the series.


  1. How clever, and I really like your titles. They make the books stand out above many others. I see great things in the future for this writing team.

  2. I'm looking forward to reading this first book.
    Stephen L. Brayton

  3. MIKE MANNO...he the one fucked with ROVE..that's SUMMER .
    It's also SOGERE and AMI.
    And JAGGER got all that PORKMJ?
    And he got it with CROW and PORKELA?
    ARYANS are flipping faster than SOUL PANCAKES and it's definitely about all their SCULLS and BEDGOSTS.