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Winter of Murder Receives Stunning Review!

Winter of Murder is the tenth book in the World of Murder series, and like its predecessors, it both stands alone as a remarkable read for newcomers and as an excellent addition to the series as a whole. In this story, Detective Stella Garcia journeys to Alaska to visit her son, who is interning with a field biology group in the Alaskan wilderness. He’s only been away from home for six months, but it seems an impossible distance away from her urban world.  Unfortunately, the one thing that consumes her professional life is as active in Alaska as in New York, as Stella soon discovers.

Predictably, murder enters the picture and the dead bodies begin to pile up, prompting her to set aside family time in favor of consulting with the local authorities, given her experience and background with solving homicides. Meanwhile, Detectives O’Roarke and Sneed are on their own without their third investigator Stella, which means not only a challenge to their crime-solving abilities, but new opportunities for their evolving relationship. While prior familiarity with these characters and their experiences will enhance appreciation for how much Stella and her comrades have grown since their first appearances in the series, newcomers will find the story completely accessible and thoroughly engrossing.

Personal and professional dilemmas abound, encounters between all are realistically portrayed, and the contrast between Stella’s urban world and the rural wilds of Alaska are well done, creating a compelling environment in which Stella finds herself far from familiar scenarios or approaches to solving problems. The background and atmosphere of Native Alaskans are particularly well done and lend to a story which is vivid on more than one level: as a detective piece, as a story of character growth and personal advancement, and as a cultural inspection of Alaskan peoples and places.

As Stella navigates uncertain territory and affairs, she gains new perspective not only about murder investigations, but her own relationship with her son.Steeped in personal growth and revelation as well as a satisfyingly complex murder mystery that ventures into cross-cultural perceptions, Winter of Murder is a gripping and strong addition to a powerful series. ’ ~~ D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Review ~~ A Gentleman’s Bidding by Jean Wilde

     reviews, authors, writing                           1 out of 5 quills ~~ A Review


The issue I had with this book was the sloppy writing. The author slipped from Regency London language to modern day expressions  frequently. With the first sentence I knew we were in trouble. “I shall check to see if my mistress….” No butler/houseman of that period would use that phrasing. Rather he would say something like: “I shall inquire as to whether or not Madame is at home….”  The hero’s name is James Hughes. NEVER in this period of time would he be called ‘Jim‘ which he is in this book.  Another example: Emily says, “What’s with you….?”  Lady Hughes says: “you certainly are something else.” Another slip into the idioms of the twentieth century.

The sex scenes were SALACIOUS and were used to prop up a weak story plot. No subtlety whatsoever. And Emily performing fe***io was implausible. It was considered a sin up until the 1950’s and against the law in many states. It’s something that men specifically went to prostitutes for. For the author to have a whore demonstrate on a stable hand in front of the heroine was just plain icky. The author seemed to think that sticking in lots of sex scenes of all types (bondage, role playing, etc.) in the same chapter was the path to a best seller. It’s not.  It’s what you don’t say that titillates the reader. 

The plot was predictable. No surprises. The grammatical errors and punctuation (She capitalized the word Pound for no apparent reason) were atrocious and very distracting to this reader.

Blogger’s Note: It pains me to write a bad review. I try to avoid it at all costs. My whole mission here is to uplift and encourage other writers. But this one was so poorly written that I couldn’t let it pass. I returned the book and asked for a refund. 

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss. February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with Actor PLaywright, Rick Lenz (part 2)

…with wife

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

RL. I sure do. I don’t think I’d stop sometimes, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve got a body and that it gets tired, hungry, thirsty, and sore from remaining in the same position too long.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

RL. I wrote a book last year that is now complete except for some editing. I’m not yet sure when it will be published, but I hope soon. It’s about an old actor, devoted to his wife, who made a few mistakes during his younger years. He gets a chance to redo those years, but discovers all he really wants to do is get back to his wife.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

RL. I switched my acting career from first priority to second about 15 years ago. Writing took its place as my great passion.

Q. How long after that were you published?

RL. It took me eight years to write some books that were publishable.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

RL. I don’t believe that will happen.

Q. What makes a writer great?

RL. Since writing is very much a craft (plus inspiration, of course) I think the major factor is wanting—no loving—to write and doing it until you get good. I’d add one thing to that: nothing you write is sacred. If it’s not exactly what pleases you, throw it away and rewrite it until it does.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

RL. It is never the same for me. The book I wrote last year unfolded itself within a year. My first two novels took me over 10 years to get right. My memoir, North of Hollywood, took only about a year. I really can’t say what the whole process looks like. I think if I knew that—and this is speaking only for me—I wouldn’t be a very good writer.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

RL. I came from a very dysfunctional family. It was often painful at the time, especially during my teenage years. So, that was certainly a factor. After that, I spent most of my life as a professional actor; my show business life, as a theater actor in New York, and a Hollywood actor, living in Los Angeles, has had a big influence on my writing.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

RL. I read, exercise, meditate, and spend my most joyful times with Linda and my children and grandchildren.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

RL. I have been a playwright (as well as an actor) for most of my life. I prefer writing books now. As to the genre of my writing, some people call it fantasy, but I do like to try to make it as a literary as I possibly can.

…with grandson

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

RL. I think life is meant to be joyful. But in order for that to be the case—again, speaking for myself—I have to constantly practice kindness, forgiveness, and the continual understanding that God loves me no more than He loves everyone else.

Don’t miss Part I of this wonderful interview.


MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Book Review ~~ A Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

5 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Review

Everything you want when you sit down and open the cover of a new book. Friendship, hardship, love, heartbreak, history and finally…hope.  Rhys Bowen’s writing never disappoints whether I am reading her Royal Spyness series or her Molly Murphy series or her stand alone fiction (all excellent). 

Just a hint of the story as I do not write spoilers. Emily Bryce  is a debutante who never had a ‘come out’ as World War I rages in Europe. She is stuck in time, in place, with nothing worthwhile to do except follow her society-ladder-climbing mother around.  The opportunity to join the Women’s Land Army  and become a ‘land girl’ frees her from her stifling existence and her mother.  And this is where her adventures begin. 

I was a little put off by the title of this book as I read along. There isn’t one victory garden (in the traditional sense of the term) in the entire book.  But then I realized Bowen’s ‘victory garden’ were all the gardens in the story combined making it ultimately The Victory Garden. Sneaky Devil!   I highly recommend this book. 

Available: February 12th
Did you miss my Interview with this author?

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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What the Critics are Saying…

 ~~  A Review ~~

Book #9 in the World of Murder series is, as its predecessors, inspired by real life events which add an extra dimension of authenticity to the story line. It opens with the dilemma of Penny, who is experiencing an independent life after being buried in childcare and being a wife for eighteen years. A special arrangement has been made with husband Tony that preserves the semblance of their twenty-year relationship while allowing her more freedom; but when she meets Lyle at a bar, things change not because he loves her, but because he, too, plans to entrap her.

Investigators O’Roarke, Garcia and Sneed, come to investigate a murder where Penny is the victim. Could Penny’s husband, who loves her, be the perp? As the homicide detective team uncovers a myriad of perps, mishaps, and convoluted triads of circumstance, readers receive a vivid and fast-paced investigative story that offers more suspects than answers and keeps the action taut with a guessing game that holds no obvious answers and many possibilities.

As a love relationship and a special arrangement morphs into shootings, a cunning perp, and boys who inadvertently become part of a bigger picture they’d never planned, Triad of Murder excels in a romp through juvenile involvements and adult activities that challenges investigators and a community alike.

Stella, Jack, Phoebe, and friendships gone awry intersect over a murder that will keep readers involved in police procedurals and family relationships right to the end.

While mystery fans and prior readers of the series will find this a compelling addition, true crime enthusiasts should also place Triad of Murder (and the entire series, for that matter) on their reading radars: the reality-based events and action are exquisitely detailed and the story is hard to put down.
~~ Donovan’s Bookshelf

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with author, Jayne Ann Krentz (Part 2)

Q:  How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

A: Before I got this cool writing gig I did time in the corporate and academic worlds so I often use elements from those experiences in my plots.  I’m convinced that every writer has a core story. We spend our careers exploring it.  My core story is romantic suspense—a murder mystery entwined with a passionate relationship.  I love that combination.  The love story raises the stakes in the suspense and the danger raises the stakes in the romance.  When I plot I try to make sure that every twist in the suspense affects the relationship and vice versa.  This is true across the three time zones in which I set my stories:  historicals, contemporaries and futuristics.

When I was growing up my formative books included Nancy Drew and Andre Norton.  But it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I came across the book that changed my life:  Anne McCaffrey’s RESTOREE.  Looking back, I think it’s clear that she pretty much invented the futuristic romantic suspense novel with that one book.

Q: Have you or do you want to write in another genre? 

A: There has always been plenty of room for my stories in the romance genre. In my opinion it is the least confining of all the genres. The others all seem to have rather strict conventions and expectations—writers violate them at their peril.  But there is plenty of scope for storytelling within romance.  The settings can be historical, contemporary, futuristic or paranormal. The sexuality can be sweet or intense. The suspense can be anything from a serial killer thriller to a cozy plot.  Romance writers are  free to deal with almost any social issue.  No limits, really.  All that is expected is a romantic relationship and the HEA.  Works for me.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JAK. I was recently introduced to boxing as a workout and fell in love with it. Which is a good thing because  I love to cook AND eat and, therefore, I need the workout!

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

JAK. Nope.  As has been noted, the paper book is still the simplest and best way to preserve information and stories because it can survive hundreds of years.  Our technology, on the other hand, evolves so fast that anything preserved in that format will probably be impossible to read even a hundred years from now. 

Q. What makes a writer great? 

JAK. Voice. It’s impossible to define but in the end it is the only thing that really matters.  If the writer’s voice is not compelling readers will not finish the book.  But here’s the sticky part — no two readers respond to a book in the exact same way.  Everyone brings something different to a book and everyone takes something different away.  Readers will fall in love with a lot of different voices over the years. 

Q. and the all-important:  What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?  

A. One scene at a time. 

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

A:  Figure out your core story early on.  Every writer in every genre has one.  It has nothing to do with a particular fictional landscape.  It is all about the emotions and themes and values that compel you as a writer.  Once you truly understand your core story you will realize that you can take it into any genre.

Did you miss Part I of this wonderful Interview? Click here

Untouchable will be on sale January 8, 2019

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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Did you Know?

The entire collection of World of Murder is now available in AUDIO books. Listen to these true crime thrillers fromWorking successfully with an illustrator
book 1 to book 7. 

Art of Murder 
Dance of Murder
Act of Murder
Angel of Murder
Taste of Murder
Bridge of Murder
Video of Murder 

Coming Soon! Shadow of Murder

Audio Samples of Bridge of Murder & Video of Murder 
Narrator: Daniel Dorse

Available on,, &

Interview with Playwright, Author, Alretha Thomas

  Shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism, this prolific writer soon realized her interest in her major was not heartfelt. Instead of writing news stories, she wanted to write plays and books. Several years later, her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces—the community response was overwhelming.  In between plays, Alretha’s first novel Daughter Denied was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country.  Alretha was awarded the Jessie Redmon Fauset Literary Award for her indie novel Four Ladies Only. Alretha returned to acting and is now writing and acting full time. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

AT. I write in the family dining room/hang out room. My computer is up against a wall and it’s my special place.
Whenever my husband wants to get my attention, he’ll leave a note on my keyboard knowing it won’t be missed! He calls it my home within the home. Lol! My husband and I often talk about buying a bigger home, if, and when we get a windfall. My dream workspace would have a view of the Pacific Ocean.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

AT. I have to be very comfortable when I write. Thus, I write in very loose-fitting clothing. Usually my blue sundress my husband bought me or my ripped up blue robe. I guess it’s something about blue.  I also must have my desk fan blasting. I have about a half dozen little stuff animals and toys that I keep to the right of me. I think they’re my good luck charms.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

AT. I volunteer every Tuesday at a nursing home not too far from my home. There are about six people there that I feel very close to. I paint nails for the ladies, tell stories and most times just listen. The residents have no idea how much they do for me mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They are wonderful people who for one reason or another are in the nursing home. It makes me grateful and it makes me appreciate being able to get around right now. No one knows what the future holds.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

AT. I love writing at night after my husband has gone to bed and it’s quiet in the house and the neighborhood. I just love it. I feel like a little girl in a sandbox. No matter what I’m doing during the day, I get excited when I think about the fact that later that night I’ll be writing. So many ideas about what my characters are going to say and do flood my head during the day. It’s wonderful when I can put it on paper.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

AT. Just do it! I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block or procrastination. Thank goodness. If anything, you have to pull me away from the computer!

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

AT. I believe my characters discover me. They enter my subconscious and take over my being. They slowly began to evolve. Case in point are the main characters in my latest mystery novel, “The Women on Retford Drive.” I’ve never met anyone like my protagonist Julia Pritchard or her stepdaughter Blythe Pritchard. One day I just had this feeling about writing about a mother and step daughter being abused and working together to escape their plight. From there, the story just took off.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

AT. My fifth-grade teacher inspired me to write. She gave the class a short story assignment. I got an idea to write a story about a bag boy in a supermarket who falls in love with a young customer. I guess you could say that was my first romance story. The following day our teacher congratulated the entire class on our work. However, she said there was one story that stood out. And that story was mine. I nearly fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe it. She read it aloud and the class was riveted. While I was watching the expressions on the faces of my peers, I knew in that moment I wanted to be a writer for life.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

Join Us with Part Two of this fascinating Interview on October 26th
To Purchase Alretha’s books, click here 

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) and Patrick Canning.

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Shadow of Murder ~ Book #8 True Crime Series

     Newest in the true crime series. This one was so much fun to write…it literally fell out onto the keyboard.  O’Roarke, Garcia, and Phoebe Sneed’s personal lives all move along at a brisk pace, in spite of the complicated and cold, then hot, then cold case they are investigating. 

       Another mass shooting at the most unlikely of places, a small neighborhood market run by an Indian family. Is it terrorism? Will there be more? Who would have a motive against this seemingly innocent family working in their store? And it was called in on Detective O’Roarke’s first day back from his honeymoon trip. To make things worse, the killer slipped away leaving no clues, no evidence, no witnesses; leaving five dead and two mortally wounded.
The case quickly goes cold. Out of desperation, the remaining family members bring in a physic-medium who has a strange vision.

Who is this predator with amber eyes?

It takes a tightrope artist of a writer to create chapters that successfully delve into a killer’s thoughts without revealing his identity in the process, but Sugarek achieves this with a dance of introspection that reveals a killer’s religious rituals and the emotional turmoil…” Midwest Book Review for Angel of Murder

“Years ago one of my crew, in a stage production that I was directing, said, “Trish for years now I’ve had this great idea for a play script but I know I’ll never write it….hell, I wouldn’t know where to begin ….  you’re the writer so I want to give you the idea.” His name escapes me; it must have been Billy Bob or Bubba or Junior given we were in Texas at the time.  This idea of Bubba’s blossomed, first, into a one act play, and later into this series of murder mysteries.  All because he and I had a few beers one night and he thought I could write it better than he could. Thank you, Bubba, wherever you are!”  T.S.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  July K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb. Nov.: Joe English  Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Guest Blogger, Best selling Author, Jodi Thomas

Author, Jodi Thomas

Free Falling 

I have been in the writing game for thirty years. Forty-eight novels and fourteen short story collections. From my third book, most have been national bestsellers and over half were on the New York Times bestseller list. I have five RITAs, the highest award in women’s fiction from RWA as well as many other awards.

In interviews, I’m often asked what one thing I would tell a beginning writer if I got the chance. Study your markets? Read everything? Learn your craft? Write? All came up as possibilities, but one lesson kept whispering in the back of my mind. Maybe it’s not the most important tool a writer needs, but it can be vital to your success.

Learn to Fall!

There will be times, thousands of them if you stay in the game as long as I have, when this business doesn’t go your way. You have to stop holding on to the safety strap and learn to jump out into the unknown.

The first time I remember taking a tumble was before I sold. I was frantically writing, sending off to every contest, agent, and editor I could find. One day, I opened the mailbox to discover three rejections. I felt like I’d faced a firing squad and all twelve bullets hit true. I walked back to the house, sat down and started crying. My four-year-old son, Matt, came up to me, leaned on the arm of the chair and asked what was wrong. Through tears I told him about my total failure. He smiled and said simply, “Mom, like you say when I play t-ball: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you get rained-out.

I stopped crying and realized it wasn’t me. I was a good writer doing the best I could. I just kept getting rained-out by editors who didn’t read the slush pile and agents who already had full client lists.

From that day on I developed a plan for falling. Whenever I stumbled and fell flat on my face, I let go of the corpse I was dragging around trying to sell, celebrated what I’d learned from the work and moved on with my career.

I have to be honest. There for a while quite a few bodies of old manuscripts lay around the house just in case they got a second life, but it never happened. I had to learn that the next thing I wrote would be stronger than the last. I was growing, getting better, getting stronger.

My Plan for Falling:

1. Burying the corpse. I know writers who wrote a book back in the ‘90s and are determined not to go on to another until they sell their first one. They keep painting a

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new face on the body and shoving it into a new casket. Beginning writers probably don’t want to hear that you may write your first book, or even your second or third, for practice. We need to believe that first book will make millions or we’d never go through the work of learning to write. But sometimes you have to kiss the well-traveled manuscript good-bye and bury it under the bed.

2. Celebrating. I hope all beginning writers party at each success: a contest win or even an honorable mention. A letter asking for more or a book deal. All are worth a party. But, maybe more important is the party you have when you let go of one dream and open up to another. So win or lose you finish the race. You’re a success simply because you wrote a book. You’ve won when you mail it off to an agent or editor or self-publish.

3. Moving on If what you’re doing isn’t getting you where you want to go, maybe you are on the wrong road. Take the tools and knowledge you have learned and start carving out a different work of art. Take a lane you’ve never tried. Who knows, it might be the fast lane.

You might be surprised, you might just find a place where you and your work belong. You might grow and love writing more. So, try changing genres. Move from adult fiction to young adult. Jump from historical to contemporary. Don’t try to write what everyone else is writing. Twist it a little. Change times. Change audience. Change direction.

When I turned loose and thought of myself sky diving and not falling, my world began to change. I wrote deeper. I discovered a new love of writing.

Phil Price, an accomplished playwright, once said, “I’ve often wondered why sky divers yell for joy and people who fall off cliffs scream. After all, they’re both seeing the same view. It’s only the last foot that changes.” So, I decided, whether I’m falling or sky diving through life, I might as well decide to enjoy the view.

This year my editor at HQN suggested I step into a more mainstream story and I jumped. I read her e-mail on Friday and by Monday I had an idea I was excited about. MORNINGS ON MAIN just came out April 10, and I think my fans will follow me into this shift as they have for the past 30 years.

And if they don’t? Then I’ll stand up, dust myself off and get back in the game. Because I’m a writer, that’s what I do, I write.

On Sale September 25, 2018

Mark Twain once said that compared to writing, horseracing is a stable occupation. Maybe he was right, but the gamble is worth the try. When we’re all done and sitting around the home which would you rather say, ‘I played as hard and fast as I could,’ or ‘I never ran into the game because I was afraid of falling.’

The winners are not the ones who grab the prize. The winners are the ones who play the game, rainy days and all.

TS.  Thanks, Jodi, for these words of wisdom and comfort!

Jodi Thomas ;

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MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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