Living our Best Lives by Maggie Toussaint, writing as Valona Jones

By Maggie Toussaint
Are you living your best life? Topic information abounds, so it’s confusing to navigate the choices. The standbys of eating selected foods and adopting more activity in your life vary by body type, blood type, blood component balance, starting health, and genetics, but the overall trend is the still the same: eat less, move more.

Most of us have “good” reasons not to be our best selves… It’s too stressful to diet and exercise. I like to eat. I have a bad knee/hip/back. My job is too stressful right now. I just broke up with my partner. A family member is very ill. It costs too much to diet and exercise. I’m too big (or little) to do it safely. I have other complicated health issues.

We want great health and abs of steel without the work. It’s no wonder we fall into bad habits. After all, no one wants to give up their comfort foods.

Character health is tailor-made for fiction due to its inherent conflict. When I created the world for A Magic Candle Shop Mystery series, I envisioned Tabby Winslow’s family’s well-being depended on them living in one location. Simultaneously, I used snips of Savannah, Georgia’s history and its reputation of losing track of burial sites as a basis for establishing the shop’s supercharged location.

The port of Savannah attracted Native Americans, European explorers and missionaries, and colonists from around the world. With such a turnover of residents, the number of unrecorded graves is unknown. Also, Savannah endured three Yellow Fever Epidemics with hundreds and thousands dead in a short time. Consequently, Savannah has several mass grave sites.

Though these mass grave locations are known, I took a creative license and moved one underneath the candle shop. This jumpstarted the paranormal edge of the story and provided a supercharged energy field. Because twins Tabby and Sage Winslow read auras and manipulate energy, this influx is a game-changer for them. If they can’t keep the family business profitable, they’ll lose their business, their home above the shop, and their opportunity to live their best life.

In real estate the mantra of “location, location, location” drives sales. With the candle shop in a prime location near the waterfront, the shop is often targeted by developers. The upshot? The Winslows must remain ever-vigilant about threats.

Maintaining a high level of alertness for a prolonged time is physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausting, so I parlayed that energy drain into the story framework. Further, the Winslows psychic abilities are a closely held family secret.

Are the fictional Winslows living their best lives? Absolutely. Now it’s your turn. Are you living your best life?

SNUFFED OUT by Valona Jones

Twin sisters Tabby and Sage co-own a candle shop, but will it all go up in flames in Valona Jones’ series debut, perfect for fans of Amanda Flower and Bailey Cates.

30-year-old fraternal twins Tabby and Sage Winslow own The Book and Candle Shop in Savannah. Sage is hot-headed and impulsive while Tabby is calm and collected, making them the perfect partnership. When one of their customers is found murdered, from a blow to the head, that partnership is put to the test.

Blithe McAdam had been seen in a heated argument with shop clerk Gerard, which immediately makes him suspect number one. The twins are convinced of Gerard’s innocence and start digging into Blithe’s past. But no one is cooperating. The neighbor who found the body isn’t talking, medical examiner Quig won’t give any details about the autopsy, and nasty rumors begin surfacing about the drowning of Blithe’s father years earlier—evidence that could seal Gerard’s fate.

Tabby and Sage dig desperately for the truth. But it’s not only their friend who’s in peril. With the clock ticking, the twins find themselves in the grip of an unseen and deadly energy that has seeped into their midst—and in the sights of a ruthless killer.

Links to purchase the book:




Amazon hardcover

Barnes & Noble hardcover


Valona Jones writes paranormal cozy mysteries set in Southern locales. Her work blends mystery and the unexplained, along with a sprinkle of romance. A former scientist, she’s drawn to the study of personal energy. She sharpened her people-watching skills as a lifelong introvert and thankfully had a bank vault full of personal observations when she began to write fiction. Valona is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where time and tide wait for no one. Visit her at

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