Hooved Homicide + 60 More Free

You can get Hooved Homicide—A Shayla Murphy Mystery with a Rylie Cooper cameo—for FREE plus 60+ other amazing cozy mysteries also for FREE! 

Hooved Homicide takes place chronologically between Wasted (Book 8) and Booked (Book 9) of the Rylie Cooper Series and between Mistletoe Malarkey(Book 1) and Veiled Vengeance (Book 2) in the Shayla Murphy Mystery Series. (See the charts below for a visual of where it lands.)

Don’t worry, though, there are no spoilers in Hooved Homicide! I was very careful not to ruin anything, so you could go back to the beginning of either series with only the knowledge of Rylie and Shayla’s incredible friendship.


Help Me Become a USA TODAY Bestselling Author!

I am so excited to share my heart with you today! 

When I started publishing in 2018, I never thought I’d get to where I am today. Yet, every time I achieve a goal, I aim for a bigger goal. 

My newest goal: 

Become a USA TODAY Bestselling Author!

WHOA! How do I even get there?

With your help! 

I am writing a Rylie Cooper short story for an upcoming anthology (a group of short stories by multiple authors) with a goal to reach the USA Today Bestseller List! 

You can pre-order the book right now for only $.99. That’s more than 20 short cozy mysteries for less than a cup of coffee! 

Plus, we’ve partnered with an awesome charity called The Free Book Bus that brings free books to children who can’t afford them. 

And you’ll have a hand in helping me achieve one of my biggest goals to date! 

If we reach the USA Today Bestseller List, I’ll be able to add that awesome little tag to all of my book covers and descriptions. 


I’m excited just thinking about it! 

So . . . will you help me? Can you spare $.99 today to pre-order this awesome anthology? 

Thank you so much in advance for your help! I’m so thankful for all your support! 



You know the moment . . . 

You’re in the dressing room after scouring the entire store for that perfect item. A handful of hopefuls hang on the wall awaiting their chance to grace your body and prove they’re the perfect frock for the occasion. 

The tiny room—barely bigger than a bathroom stall—is somehow swelteringly hot. 

Oh and have I mentioned, you brought your toddler with you into the dressing room and you’re eight months pregnant? 

Okay, so maybe not everyone can relate to that specific part, but that was my predicament on this occasion. 

I needed a dress for a function and nothing fit my pregnant body. I didn’t love the idea of buying something I’d basically never wear again, but it was non-negotiable. 

I slipped on dress after dress to no avail. My one-year-old happily sat in her stroller like the little angel baby she was as thoughts coursed through my head: 

Maybe I didn’t know what would actually look good on me anymore.

How had I managed to pick every size but the right one? 


Why do they make maternity clothing so dang expensive? 

The last dress went on just fine, though it offered absolutely no stretch. About mid-belly I realized this dress was not going to work. It was entirely too tight in all the wrong places. 

Here comes the relatable part (well, for some of us, perhaps not others) . . . 

The dress would not come off. 

It was as if the cheap lining and my copious amounts of sweat had joined together to form some sort of glue that kept the dress exactly where it was. 

My arms wouldn’t come out of the sleeves but they also couldn’t manage to get the proper grip on the dress that would free it from my body. 

I twisted one way, then the other. Wiggled around. Jumped up and down. Tried to rub the dress off using the wall. 

Nothing worked. 

A claustrophobic panic washed over me. I was stuck. I’d have to live in this dress forever. Pay for the dress while it was still on me. Give birth in the dress. 

My breaths were quick and shallow. Sweat dripped from my forehead. And my sweet little angel baby started to fuss. 

“It’s okay,” I said. “Mommy’s okay.” 

I assumed she was worried about me, though it was more likely she’d dropped her book on the floor or something. 

Then an idea popped into my head. 

I got down on my knees and looked at my daughter through the many layers of dress. “Mommy needs you to pull the dress off her. Can you do that?” 

She was always terribly smart for her age. So it was no surprise when she nodded and started tugging at the fabric. 

Too bad she wasn’t terribly strong for her age. 

We tried this for what felt like hours, until I finally gave up. 

I plopped down on my butt with my arms still up in the air like an orangutan and the dress around my chest. 

My eyes settled on my purse. 

Where I kept a small knife.

That was it. I’d simply cut myself out of the dress. It was either that or walk out of here half-naked looking like a pregnant gorilla who tried to put on a pretty—and way too small—dress. 

I was digging through my purse for the knife—hidden deep inside a pocket within a pocket so my kiddo wouldn’t end up with her hands on it—when my gaze landed on the price tag. 

My gut twisted. Or maybe the baby kicked. Either way, I felt sick. 

I could hardly afford one dress. And it wasn’t like if I cut myself out of this dress, I’d be able to sew it back together. I just wasn’t crafty like that. 

I dropped my purse and started to cry. My hormones brought big tears and even bigger sobs. I didn’t care that there were other people in the dressing room. I was a prisoner inside a too-small, too-expensive dress. 

“It okay, Mama,” my toddler said. “It okay.” 

A knock on the dressing room door had me scrambling to my feet and wiping my eyes. “Someone’s in here!” 

I could just imagine someone bursting through the door and seeing me . . . like that. 

“Uh, ma’am, is there anything I can help you with?” It sounded like the nice older lady who had been taking the clothes from the dressing room and putting them back on shelves. 

I pushed away my pride and cracked open the door. “I’m stuck.” 

She nodded. “It happens all the time. Can I help?” 

I opened the door and within seconds I was free of that awful piece of clothing. “Thank you so much.” 

She smiled and took the dress with her, as if she knew it was personally offensive. “It’s no problem, Dear.” 

Now, I was crying for an entirely different reason. Though I didn’t know whether it from relief, gratefulness, or embarrassment.

I can’t remember exactly what I ended up wearing to that event, but if I had to guess, it wasn’t a dress. 


My Most Embarrassing Middle School Moment

Middle school is hard enough without a monumentally embarrassing moment.  

Too bad I couldn’t avoid said moment.  

I was not the most popular person in school—pretty much middle of the pack with good friends, good grades, and no real issues. I was the girl who people probably didn’t really know existed, which was fine by me.  

Of course, I noticed the popular kids. I wanted to be like the girls. I wanted the boys to like me. But I knew those weren’t things that would likely happen, so I was content with my Plain Jane existence.  

Until one day in Civics class. It was a game day. A free day. And one of the cutest boys in my grade was in my group.  In fact, he sat right next to me. And TALKED to me.  

I’m sure I was visibly shaking at the attention—giggling like an idiot or something.  

But that’s not the embarrassing moment. If only that were the extent of it. Alas, it was not. I don’t remember what the game was, only that it involved dice. Two unassuming white dice used to simply tally a score.  

It wasn’t the dice’s fault.  

When the cute, popular boy’s turn came, he picked up the dice making some sort of joke that left all the girls at the table laughing.  Including me. I laughed along. Trying to be cool.  

Then he turned to me, held his dice-filled hands to my face, and said, “For luck?”  My mind went ballistic—glitching and fumbling. I had no idea what he wanted me to do.  

Without another thought, I leaned forward and kissed his hands.  

With my lips.  

I freaking kissed his freaking hands.  

The table went completely silent.  

I had never kissed a boy before—not their lips, not their cheek, and not their hands. Why kissing his hands was my first thought is still beyond me.  

But that’s what I did.  

As my face turned to pure fire, the rest of the table gaped at us.  

What would he do? What would he say? The silence was deafening.  

Until he chuckled a little—my stomach still twists at the memory of that nervous chuckle—and said, “I guess that works.”  

He rolled the dice while I wished I could disappear.  

The game went on, and the laughter returned.  

They’ll forget, I told myself. It wasn’t that bad.  

Until, on his next turn, he looked to the girl on the opposite side of him and said, “Now, don’t kiss my hands, okay? Just a little blow for luck should do.”  

She did what I was supposed to—blew lightly on his hands—while everyone else burst out laughing hard enough that the teacher came to our table to see what was going on.  

I guess I could be thankful that no one told the teacher what I’d done—at least I don’t remember them telling him. Either way, I avoided that specific popular guy for at least a solid year or more.


How I Wrote a Christmas Novel in the Middle of Summer

I absolutely adore the holidays. So much that I’ve told my husband if we ever build our own house, I want to have a dedicated Christmas room—one that stays decorated all year long. 

One of the best ways to keep the holiday spirit alive all year is to write Christmas books in the middle of the summer! When I started Mistletoe Malarkey, the temperatures were at their peaks and the humidity was turning my hair into a massive fluff ball. 

It can be hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s so warm outside (I don’t know how they do it in Australia when Christmas is actually in the summer), but I do a few things to get me in the mood to write a holiday novel. 

First, I light a holiday candle from one of my favorite places—Chalk Full of Love. My favorite scents are Santa’s Cookies or Christmas Tree Farm. 

Next, I turn on a YouTube video of a fireplace crackling. With this in the background, it makes the holidays seem that much closer. 

The third thing I do is play holiday music. I love that Apple Music and Spotify have playlists ready and waiting for my Christmas in July fix. 

And finally, if I’m really desperate to get in the mood, I’ll turn the AC up and pull a blanket around me. Usually this is a last resort item because AC is expensive! But I’ll do just about anything to get in the right frame of mind to write a book. 

For Mistletoe Malarkey specifically, I went back through all my notes about my time spent in Ireland and looked at photos I took from that trip. Though I wasn’t there during Christmas, it definitely helped get me in the right frame of mind! 

I hope you have a very cozy holiday season! Find Mistletoe Malarkey on Amazon (Free with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription.) 


Stella Bixby