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Book Review ~ The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

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5 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Review


Robyn Carr writes with a casual flaire that makes the reader feel like they’re sitting in a comfy chair, by a crackling fire, wearing warm socks.

I am a huge fan of the Sullivan’s Crossing series and this latest contribution is a winner. At least three love stories are woven together like a fine tapestry in The Best of Us. Catching up to what’s been happening to the recurring characters in her stories is like running into some good friends  you haven’t seen in a while. While a new character drives the whole story when she meets and falls for Rob Shandon, the pub owner.

And the writing is without a misstep. A perfect blend of encounters, conflicts, reunions and  happy endings. Bubbling along like a happy creek, you hardly know you’ve finished the book and are left wanting the next in the series….right now!

Released January 8th so get your copy now!

Did you miss my Interview with Robyn? Click here

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss. February:  Patrick Canning and March: 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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Book Review ~~ Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas


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reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing

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5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Review

I didn’t want this one to end. 

Jodi Thomas weaves three stories into one. Three sets of lovers finding each other, getting lost again, and finding each other for keeps.
The lovers are diverse with really only one common thread, that being a tiny town, Crossroads, Texas. An arranged marriage, a wounded warrior, and mistaken identity all meld into a wonderful trilogy within one book. I loved it!

There’s never a misplaced word when this writer tells a story. The characters capture the reader within the first few pages. The story line (in this case three) is interesting and believable.
You won’t get a spoiler from this reviewer. For me it’s all about the writing and this author writes like a dream. Interesting settings, great, colorful characters richly drawn and wonderful dialog. 

To Purchase Mistletoe Miracles Click Here 

Did you miss my Interview with Jodi Thomas?


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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Book Review ~~ When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

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5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Review


Perfection!  Saying anything more would be superfluous.

If you’re a fan of Susan Mallery, you must read this one!  If you’ve never heard of Susan (fat chance) you must read this story. The writing is (like I said) perfect. The characters are so interesting and believable. And the plot…oh, the plot.  Delicious! 

Readers of my reviews know that I don’t write spoilers…nothing has changed. I’m not a writer of cliff notes. You have to experience this entire journey that Susan takes her readers on.  But I will say this; the way Mallery brings the four main characters together is flawless writing.  

Reminder: In August I will be interviewing Susan Mallery and asking her about her writing processes.

To Purchase When We Found Home 


MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   June: Manning Wolfe. July:  K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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John Lithgow….and His Stories

     “…and that’s why we all need stories.”  John Lithgow said in a recent talk show interview.  He was telling the story of his father reading, to he and his siblings, from a book of short stories.  And then years later, as his father lay dying, John Lithgow said he read aloud to him from the very same book. 

John tells another story, within his story about reading this book of shorts to his father.  He has been on the road with this one-man show for years.  Narrating these same stories from this same book.  He calls it a trunk show; an old theatre expression. That is, pack up everything at night’s end and move, on down the road, to the next town where he presents this one-night-stand again.  He says that he finally wound his way to Broadway and is now  performing to sold-out, delighted audiences. 

This is why I entreat, beg, admonish, and plead with my readers to tell someone your story (hopefully your children and grandchildren), or write it down in a journal or even publish it. With today’s technology we are losing our oral history. And when this set of grandparents pass away it will all be lost. We all need stories. 

“Rarely have I spent so entertaining and touching a night at the theater. The predominant sentiment in Stories by Heart is love.” —Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

“Superb, illuminating and uplifting. The imagination, Mr. Lithgow wants us to know, is powerful. What could feel more current, more worthwhile in the first days of 2018?” —Jesse Green, The New York Times

This is me telling a story about John Lithgow’s story.  

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow. January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Emma and the Lost Unicorn, A Children’s Book

Announcing the second edition of this popular children’s chapter book, Emma & the Lost Unicorn

Book 1 of the Fabled Forest Series: Emma, an earthling girl visits her friends in the forest with great regularity. She delights in the antics of Stare, the rhetorical owl and Cheets, the mischievous elf.  One day she’s introduced to Rainey, the unicorn,  a prince who’s been banished, for centuries, by the warlord, Hazard.   He can never return home unless Emma solves more riddles than Hazard’s Lieutenant, Kodak. The fable ends with a surprise twist which will delight readers young and old.  While written for children, this fairy tale is sophisticated enough to appeal to adults as well.

Queens, warlords, faeries, elves, unicorns, handmaidens, scary henchmen and one small mortal girl child in an enchanted forest.  This fable offers many subtle lessons.


Available in illustrated paperback, audio-books and e-books at all book stores. 

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Book 4 in the series/Beautiful illustrations


Interview ~~ Grace Burrowes, Author (conclusion)

interviews-authorsQ. As a fan, I noticed that you are published by a traditional publisher and have self-published some of your romances as well. Can you give other writers some tips about that?

GB. I’m actually onto my second trade house. I started with Sourcebooks and now write for Grand Central/Forever, in addition to my indie titles. I hesitated to indie publish because I’d heard it was, “so much work,” and all I wanted to do was write. I just kept feeding manuscripts down the trad pub chute, and I kick myself for that. Good career decisions are made based on good information, and “everybody says,” is not as useful what I say about my own experiences. I find trad pubbing a lot of work, in part because I don’t control the schedule, I don’t control development of the cover and meta data, I don’t control pricing or PR. I’m at the mercy of the trad house’s schedule, process, and agenda, and to some extent, their editorial preferences.

With indie publishing, there’s start up effort—setting up accounts, and rounding up a team to do editing, proofreading, covers, and virtual assistance. The reward though, in terms of creative, scheduling, editorial and financial control is enormous. I’m very fortunate to have worked with trad houses who are supportive of hybrid authors, but then, I couldn’t see signing a contract with a house that wasn’t.

Q. What makes a writer great?

grace-at-eilean-donan-1GB. The people whose company I treasure most work hard at being kind and telling the truth (both). They laugh a lot, love ferociously, listenGrace - age 8 respectfully, and take risks in the name of love. Great writing touches the heart and makes a lasting impression. As for a great writer… I’ll have to think on this. Generosity of spirit and humility come to mind, but so do passion and fierce, unapologetic ability.

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

GB. I wake up one morning and roll around in bed waiting for a thought to coalesce that I can build a scene on. Could be a line of dialogue, could be a letter, could be a guy grousing to his horse about the burdens of bachelorhood. When I get something that leans toward dialogue or an opening hook (or I have to pee), I get out of bed and turn on the computer.

A scene emerges, and in that scene, I find a character, usually the hero of a romance novel. He has Troubles. I lurk in his hedges and ride pillion behind him, and scribble down any scenes he’ll give me. He also has a heroine intent on her own story, and she gets the same treatment from me. I haunt my characters until I can pry a story loose from them.

I write the opening scenes and the meet, launch the character arcs, introduce a few secondary characters, and then the begging begins. I crawl around on all fours, searching, searching, for an external conflict. To quote the brilliant and humble Joanna Bourne, “Liking, attraction, and respect pull them together. Something real, substantial, and interesting must push them apart.”

jack-683x1024If the universe is kind, the external conflict reveals itself in a flash of insight—the universe is seldom kind. I impose on friends, I talk to myself, I toss away scenes, I mutter profanities and plan trips to Scotland, and eventually, I will see the tail of an external conflict peeking out at me from under a pile of clean laundry.

By then, I’ve often gotten a handle on the main characters’ defining traumas, and that sheds light on how to write the big black moment.

Creating a rough draft usually takes from eight to ten weeks, and then it’s on to polishing, polishing, polishing. I’m awful about talking heads/white room syndrome, echoes, oh, my sins are legion…. At some point, the manuscript has to go into cold storage while I work on other stuff, then it gets another buffing and goes into production.

I try to keep at least two, more often three projects going at once, so that if any one of them needs a rest, I can forge ahead on the others. I am happier working like this, and it seems to result in the most progress overall.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

GB. That’s a big question. My life experiences include being the sixth out of seven children in an academic family. I had to learn to use words early and well if I wanted to be noticed. I also had to learn to entertain myself, hence books and imaginative play. I’m a child welfare attorney, single mom, horse girl, animal lover, former musician, and I have a master’s degree in conflict transformation. It all goes in the pot, as does my belief in the power of loving and being loved.

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

GB. I’m toying with a historical mystery series, mostly because I love to read them.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

G.B. One of the quotes I keep handy, because our business can be very unfair and daunting, is from Stephen King: “If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.” Words to write by! 
Did you miss Part I, II of this wonderful Interview? Click here

My BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October Author, Lisa Jackson.  November will be best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series

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Song of the Yukon, A new Novel by Trisha Sugarek

Song.cover_rev16JulyIt’s taken me 3 years to write this saga. Since it’s set in the 1920’s there was extensive research to be done about how life was lived ‘off the grid’ in Alaska. It’s jammed packed with interesting characters and adventure.

The old timers would tell you, ‘it’s a good yarn’ and I’m proud of it. Based on the true story of my aunt when she was a mere 17 years old, running away from home and working her way from Seattle to the wilds of Alaska.

Click here to purchase

Alaska was calling! LaVerne’s dream was to follow in Robert Service’s footsteps to the wilds of Alaska. At sixteen she was already writing her own music and she believed that her talent could only flourish on the back trails of the Yukon. Alone and impersonating a boy, she hires aboard a freighter, out of Seattle, and works her way to the north.

From boat rides on the Yukon and encounters with native tribes to filing homestead papers and working the land, LaVerne uses newfound frontier wisdom as a basis for expanding both her music and her perceptions: “No man owns what Mother Spirit does not freely give.” Black-eyed Joe told her. What a charming folk tale, LaVerne thought. I could use the story in one of my songs.”
It was here she learns the realities of frontier life that will shape her life, help her create music, and lead her in directions no woman has explored alone before.

‘Song of the Yukon covers more than music growth, more than homesteading in the wilderness, and even more than testing one’s abilities against a foreign environment. Most of all, it’s about one woman’s determination to achieve her dream against any odds – and it provides readers with not only a solid background in frontier experiences, but a sense of self and accomplishment that heroine LaVerne learns through hard experience. Song of the Yukon is a powerful saga, recommended for a range of readers. Thank you for the opportunity to look at your fine title! ‘~~ Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review ~~


DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  

                     Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Jodi Thomas’ Can’t Stop Believing * A Review

Jodi.Thomas203,200_reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingFive out of 5 Quills  Can’t Stop Believing  **
A Review

Jodi Thomas creates interesting and believable characters that have full back stories (before the time-line of the book).  Jodi never fails to deliver with an intriguing story-line and a happy ending.

Can’t Stop Believing  —  We go back to Harmony, Texas and meet up with many characters in the small town that we’ve seen before in previous books.  It’s like coming back home after an extended time away.

As you know I don’t write spoilers in my reviews.  But I will say Cord is an appealing hero who could park his shackles under my kitchen table any time.  And while I thought Neveda was slightly neurotic, she remained interesting. Harmony is full of quirky folks that entertain and delight.  I highly recommend this great read!!

Did you read my interview with Jodi Thomas a while back?  No?  Click here  And upcoming: My Review of Jodi’s newest offering, Rustler’s Moon
DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!       Julia London, Matt Jorgenson, MJ Moores, , and actor/narrator Tavia Gilbert.

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A Dog’s Life…..(short story)

Rocky, Fiona, Gus (left to right)

Rocky, Fiona, Gus (left to right)

How did God know that we would need a companion who would unfailingly soften the hard edges of life that is a human’s path? Unlike any other animal, or for that matter, person, a dog just knows…and comforts its humans when sad, in poor health or just needing a good laugh.  We talk about their devotion and unconditional love because that’s what we experience when we have a dog as a friend.  We reach out and there’s always a silky head to stroke.  We come home and they act like we’ve been gone for years.  In the lonely night they snuggle against us because that’s what we need in the dark hours.

Rocky…..A golden retriever picked up wandering the mean streets of Aransas Pass, Texas. Estimated age, 18 months…a pup really.  A rescue volunteer group called me to see if I could adopt him.  Of course I could; at the time I had 5 acres, stock fenced.  He was a hellion with little manners but house broken and so willing to please me.
At the time, my property had a barn and out under a shade tree, an oval shaped, tin, watering trough about 3 feet deep.  One of Rocky’s favorite pass times was to crawl over the lip of the trough more »