Archive for the Category » How to Write «

Parkland Shootings

In  remembrance  of  the  innocent  victims  killed  in  a  senseless  shooting. Inspired by that horrible day, I wrote a ten minute play for the classroom in the hopes that teens would learn more about the circumstances that led up to that day.  Perhaps more teens would open up about their thoughts and fears through performance of this play. The child (and yes he is a child regardless of his heinous actions) was in court yesterday pleading guilty to 17 murders of students, coaches and teachers. 

Synopsis:

Mass shootings are a part of our current culture. Not until now did I have something to say (write) about so many mass murders.
This ten minute play for teens in the classroom is to honor and memorialize the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. It focuses on a small class of students hidden away in safety by their English teacher and what happens while they wait for the shooting to stop. But the question begs will they ever be safe again?

The victims:
My Mr. Hale (play) is fashioned after Scott Beigel, 35, a geography teacher and the school’s cross-country coach. He was killed after he unlocked a door to allow students in to hide from the shooter.

Alyssa Alhadeff
Aaron Feis
Martin Duque Anguiano
Nicholas Dworet
Jamie Guttenberg
Chris Hixon
Luke Hoyer
Cara Loughran
Gina Montalto
Joaquin Oliver
Alaina Petty
Meadow Pollack
Helena Ramsay
Carmen Schentrup
Peter Wang

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

 

A Book Review and a Writing Lesson

   1 out of 5 quills reviews, authors, writing

                                 

Second Chance Grill could have been an engaging, charming and entertaining read but….the writing was clunky and author, Christine Nolfi, did a lot of ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’.  Where she could have put a character’s challenge into the hands of the characters in her book to solve, she elected to get out a small soap box and preach about the issue (real time).  It was very distracting.  

I will digress from this review and begin a writing lesson. One of the first tenants of writing well is wherever possible, to ‘show don’t tell’.   (Example) The employees of the Second Chance Grill need health insurance.  This writer tells all about the challenges of a small business owner trying to find an affordable plan for employees. She almost crosses the line and leaves fiction for non-fiction.  The author could have easily ‘shown’ the challenge of procuring health insurance by creating a chapter/scene where she meets with some insurance agents. Or she reports back to her employees, Finny and Delia, about her failure to find insurance. But that she isn’t giving up and will continue to pursue it. Maybe Finny reacts with cynicism and disbelief. Maybe Delia has special pre-existing conditions that she’s worried about. 

Same for Blossom’s leukemia. Nolfi writes a couple of pages about leukemia in teens, percentages of poor diagnoses, bone marrow transplants. That’s ‘telling’. It would have been a better story if she’d let her characters show the grim percentages of death, tell of Blossom’s struggle with the side effects of chemotherapy.

And then Nolfi barrels into a fund drive to raise money for the transplant. This is where the writing gets particularly clunky and chopped up, and frankly, unbelievable.  The rhythm of the writing goes off the rails so, sadly, I can’t give it a good review. 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Murder Mystery Series by Trisha Sugarek

It is time to remind my fans and readers about the murder mystery series that I have been writing over the past years.  I am currently working on Book #11 . 
It’s an exciting series (even if I do say so myself) with two fascinating homicide detectives working the murder beat in New York City. 

Here’s the first three synopsis in the series but there are 10 in all.  Very story line driven so best read in sequence. 

Brush with Murder, Book #1

 Ben is a struggling, unknown artist, living in a loft in Soho. From his third floor walk up, he watches his beautiful neighbor as she comes and goes. Too shy and reclusive to ask her out, he paints her again and again. Suddenly the police are at his door. His goddess, his dream woman is dead
and the police like him for the crime. 

 

Dance of Murder Book #2

‘Strippers have been found with their throats cut and their dead eyes filled with glitter and the killer’s rage is escalating. To make things worse, Homicide Detectives, O’Roarke and Garcia have several dozen potential suspects all with a reason to murder these girls.’
Now the press has gotten hold of the story dubbing the murderer, ‘The Glitter Slasher’. City Hall is breathing down the necks of the Homicide Squad and insisting that they ‘get this
thing solved!’ Before there are more dead bodies. Finally the two murder cops make an arrest.
But, do they have the right person in custody?

Act of Murder Book #3

O’Roarke and Garcia are called when a famous Broadway director dies. It appears that everyone hated this man, making the murder cops’ job just that much harder. They have their pick of suspects as everyone within a five mile radius of Broadway had a reason to want this guy dead. From the jealous stage manager, to the resentful actors, to a disappointed and hurt lover.
From a scorned understudy, to his ex-wives, any one of them could have cheerfully done him in. This mystery takes the reader back stage into the tumultuous, gossip ridden, passionate world of the theatre.



New Release ~ Creative Writers’ Journal and “How To”

Bigger and better.  Revision 2021 newly released Journal/Handbook.

How To Begin To Write
How to Create interesting Characters
How To Write Fiction
How To Write a Stage Play
How To Write Poetry
How To Write Haiku Poetry

275+ lined, blank pages for your writings.  Each page with an inspiring famous quote from actors, authors, playwrights, poets. 

Review:  Midwest Book Review 

“Creative Writers’ Journal and Handbook begins where so many writer’s guides should: with the basics of how to pursue a dream job as a writer. The problem with most writers’ guides is that they assume some prior degree of excellence or experience; but this handbook poses something different: the opportunity to begin with no prior skill level or experience. All that’s needed is the desire and passion to be a writer, and everything flows from there.
So if you ‘scribble’, if you like words, if your stories ‘find’ you, and if you aspire to be something more (say, a published blogger); then here’s the next step in the process. From how ideas begin to how they are nurtured and written down, there to be refined until they see the light of day (i.e. other readers), this journal offers support, insight, and ideas for jump-starting the creative process and linking it to action.

White, lined journal pages offer a workbook approach that augments white space with inspirational quotes on the process from other, successful writers. So while you’re staring at the usual journal blank pages, inspiration can spark from others’ experiences and insights.
This isn’t just about prose, either: Sugarek includes sections on different formats, from Haiku Poetry to writing a stage play. Each section offers inspirational insights into format, structure, and writing challenges – then uses the journal/quote format to encourage readers to put something down on paper.
So if it’s nuggets of information spiced with the encouragement of fresh lined, white space that is needed, Creative Writers’ Journal and Handbook offers a success formula beginners can easily absorb, all packaged in a survey that assumes no prior familiarity with writing.”
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

Interview with Author, Veronica Henry (part 2)

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

VH. It’s a bit like going to a party. You meet the host, and then they introduce you to all their friends. You see someone on the sidelines and think ‘Oooh they look interesting’, and then go over and have a chat. Quite often the people who seem interesting to start with turn out to be rather dull, and the quiet ones are the ones with hidden depths.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

VH. I was a total bookworm, as my father was in the army so we moved every two years, and books were my constant. And my favourite character was Jo March from Little Women. So I always loved creative writing at school. But working on the Archers was the first time I realized that everyone needs an escape in their life, to get away from reality, and that made me fall in love with storytelling and view it as a career.

One of this Interviewer’s favorites

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

VH. Usually the characters in a particular setting – I love to set my books somewhere my reader would like to be – and then I start asking myself where they are in their life. What dilemmas do they have? What would they like to change about their lives? What has just happened to them that has upset the apple cart and what are the consequences? And I ask myself where I’d like them to be – metaphorically – by the end of the book.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

VH. It goes in phases, but quite often I act out what I am imagining to myself, much to my children’s amusement. Or walking along the beach muttering away to myself, like The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I just need a black cape with a hood!

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

Henry’s view from her window

VH. My next book is called The Impulse Purchase about a 70 year old woman who buys the pub in the village she grew up in, on impulse. Her daughter and granddaughter join her to run it, and they turn it around – and change their lives in the process. It was such fun to write, especially the family dynamics. And the food!

Wonderful series

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

VH. When I became a TV script editor. I often had to rewrite parts of the scripts – often for logistical reasons – and wrote the storylines too. TV is a very hungry beast and uses up a lot of material so you have to be prolific.
                                                           *********

The conclusion August 27th
Did you miss the beginning segments of this wonderful Interview?
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Interview with British Author, Veronica Henry

As an army child, Veronica went to eight different schools, including the Royal School Bath, where she learnt Latin, how to make rock buns and how to take her bra off without getting undressed. She went on to study Classics at Bristol University, followed by a bi-lingual secretarial course – a surprisingly useful combination. Veronica started her career as a secretary on The Archers, a long running radio drama, typing scripts, then moved on to television and became a script writer. When she had her first child she jumped over the fence and became a script writer, then turned to writing novels in 2002, “as books were always my first love.”

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.

VH. Now two of my children have left home I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office space. I have a huge desk to spread out all my papers and research and the books I’m reading. There are inevitably piles of paperwork and proofs to read and one day I will sort it all out so it is calm and organized! It has a sea view, which is great, and is very light and airy. I have to work in silence – no music, even though music is a big part of my life.

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.)

VH. The most important thing is to make sure my hair is tied up – with anything!! I can’t stand it falling into my face while I work. I have my

dog, Zelda, named after Zelda Fitzgerald, on a sheepskin rug under the desk.

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

VH. I went to school in the States for three years and had the accent to prove it! It’s faded now but I still say ‘gas’ and ‘trash’ instead of ‘petrol’ and ‘rubbish’

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

New Release

VH. I  love making notes with a black pen and a narrow feint notebook at the beginning of the process – somehow it makes me think more creatively. But then I work straight into the computer. I don’t use a special app but have recently discovered the navigation pane which really helps knowing where I am in the document.

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

VH. I’m a lark and prefer to get straight on with writing first thing, after I’ve walked the dog. My energy dips after lunch, so that’s when I go over what I’ve already written or do some light reading! I cannot work in the evening to save my life.

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

VH. Just grasp the nettle, I’m afraid. The fear is worse than the reality. We all do it, but I can’t afford to procrastinate too much. I view writing as a business. Most other professions don’t have the luxury of procrastination. Imagine your dentist faffing about before getting on with your check up!

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

Join Us For Part 2 of this Wonderful Interview
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

 

The Singing Trees by Boo Walker ~ Review

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing4 out of 5 quills 

I’ll admit I thought the prologue to Boo Walker’s new book (The Singing Trees) was a bit of a slow start. But I was so happy I stuck it out because it was the prologue to a wonderful story.  Walker takes us on a journey with an artist (painter), seeking her ‘voice and passion’. But that means leaving everything she has ever known and striking out on her own without an education, a job, or family to support her. Literally giving up everything for her art.  It’s difficult to write much about the story Boo tells because anything I said would very quickly turn into a spoiler alert.  And this reviewer avoids that at all costs. 

Placed in the seventies’ the story is well drawn around Viet Nam, Nixon’s corruption, the Kent State shooting and a nation in an uproar. Walker’s characters are beautifully portrayed, and, for the reader, easy to love.  

The author moved his family from the vineyards of California to Florida after writing the ‘Red Mountain‘ series . I had assumed that his next book would be set in the Sunshine state. Imagine my surprise when I found myself in Davenport, Portland, and Bangor, Maine.  It took me a minute! 

I highly recommend this story to my readers. It’s a page turner for sure and a perfect beach read for the summer.  

Did you miss my Interview with Boo Walker?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

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What does it look like? From ‘no book’ to ‘finished book’?

A fellow writer and friend asked me this question:  “What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like?”  After years of writing my blog and interviewing other authors,  it seemed to be each featured author’s favorite question.  Having also completed  several novels  I’d like to add my two cents:

When writing my first novel, (Women Outside the Walls) I did not have a deadline and it probably would have really helped. I was my own deadline setter and that didn’t work out so well. On the other hand, I think having a publisher breathing down my neck would have stifled my creative flow.  When life got in the way I wouldn’t work on it for weeks but then I would get inspired and work on it for days, weeks, non-stop, sometimes 10-14 hours a day. So I guess it all evened out.  Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write for a few days….you’ll make up for it with better, more relaxed creative writing.

Because I inherently ‘rush’, I found that I had to watch-dog myself and be careful not to leave out important roads of the story. I was in early proofing of the final product of my novel and realized (in a countless re-read) that I had never described my female negotiator’s physical appearance. (Yikes!).  Again, (if the writer tends to rush) go back and re-read your work to see where you need to flesh out a chapter or a character.

I am not structured at all, if ‘structured’ means writing an outline, a story plot and character descriptions. I write a new project in my head for days, weeks and then when my brain is about to burst I begin putting it down on paper (or in my case, sitting at the keyboard). I also write out of sequence and I think that’s okay. My novel’s last chapter was completed months before the middle was written.

Some writers have actually written whole books while blogging; they found it less daunting by writing in segments. At the end they had a book and then they published.  If you need a deadline the days that you commit to writing a blog would serve.  For me this wouldn’t work;  I would feel too exposed having my rough draft out there for the world to see as I am a writer who slams it down the first time around and then edit, edit, delete, edit.  Did I mention that the lettering is worn off my ‘delete’ key?

Frequently I will begin a story that has inspired me, not knowing much about the subject. It has sometimes stopped me dead in my tracks while I researched (example: hostage negotiations for Women Outside the Walls).   I had 8 pages of a new play about Winston Churchill written and  had to stop to do research on his life during WW II. I find that it can be done while I am writing and that is what I prefer. It’s more fun and keeps me interested. I don’t think I would do well having my research all done before I put my story down. I find that the research itself inspires my story line.

And then there is that unseen, unheard phenomenon where, with any luck, the characters take over and you become the typist.  Your muse begins to tell you the story.  This has happened to me time and again, and while I resisted at first (being a control-freak) I now embrace and welcome it.  In Women Outside the Walls my character Alma, at sixteen, is abandoned by her promiscuous mother.  Alma is befriended by the ex-girl friend of the man Alma had a teen crush on.  They end up being room mates.  I could never have dreamed that one up;  but my characters got together and decided that this was what they would to do.books, authors, book stores, women writers,

I don’t think that there is a right or wrong way to go through the process. Each writer should be unique in how they work. Instead of thinking of it as a project/deadline ‘thing’; think of it as a work of art, created just for you and by you. Where possible, let the characters lead you. They will never steer you wrong!

well, there you have it…the process such as it is and how it works for me. (First posted January, 2013)
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Life…In a Nutshell

             Scent of Life  ©

Cool rain drumming on blistering asphalt,
the scent streams into nostrils.
Uncertain why it pleases.

Fresh popcorn drenched in butter,
childhood memories of
dark, musty movie houses when
Tom Mix raced across the screen.

Rich, peaty earth turned over under an autumn sky,
a primal sense of conclusion with the
larder full at harvest time.

Wrapped in strong arms, nose pressed to warm skin.
Drinking in the heat and smell of the man, your man,
beloved man, the partner in life.

Sweet puppy breath. Pure doggy conviction
that you will love him as much as he loves you.

Soft curls and sweet skin of the new babe,
powdery newness, innocence,
and trust.

Candles and incense in the great cathedral,
eons of faith, hope, belief and expectation.

Briny, sharp tang of a northern sea,
Balmy, yielding, salty essence under
the southern Cross.

Sultry air twines itself through the Vieux Carre.
Crushed sugar, wet pavement,
warm beer, praline sweet, heady grape.
Old water from a great river.

Metallic, bitter, smell of blood, be it from battle field,
hospital, butcher shop or birthing room.
Cloying In the nostrils, sticking in the throat.

Manure, pink sugary sweet, sawdust,
roasted peanuts, old canvas, the Big Top!
Childhood rushes back.

New trees, old petroleum, pine sol,
stale baloney, truck exhaust, tired clothes.
Drive on down the highway.

Quaking aspen, pitchy sap, crackling’ fire,
snowy air assaults the senses and warms
the heart.
The loon sings.

Available in Moths and Machetes, Book of Poetry
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

Interview with author, Don Bentley, writing for Tom Clancy (part 2)

Don’s flying days

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

DB. Writing a book on spec is incredibly intimidating, especially when you have no idea whether or not it’s going to sell. This combined with the fact that writing progress on a book can seem so incremental as compared to say a short story can make it really easy to procrastinate. After all, if no one’s clamoring for your book, and it takes forever to write, it’s easy to come up with a thousand better ways to spend your time. With that in mind, I’ve found it helpful to give myself a deadline and then make a plan to meet it. For me, that works best if I put my engineering skills to use by mapping out a word count strategy and then tracking it in excel. Every week I compare the word count I was supposed to hit with what I actually wrote, and I also plot the cumulative progress on a line graph so I have a visual representation of where I am versus where I’m supposed to be. I’ve found that the terror that accompanies knowing that you’re exactly 4,326 words behind schedule is a great anecdote for procrastination!

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

A. That’s a great question! I write more organically, so many of my secondary characters come out in the first draft when I get to a scene and realize that I need another character for one reason or another. Often times a character I think will only have a cameo ends up showing up again in later scenes. After I finish my first draft, I further flesh out my characters during revisions and this is when they become real. I think the treatment of secondary characters is one of the things that separates good writers from great ones. For instance, if you pick up a Daniel Silva book, you’ll find that he doesn’t have any “throw away” characters. Even if they only share the stage for a single scene, each one of his characters is elaborately and realistically drawn.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

A cold beer and a warm cat……

DB. I’ve been telling myself stories for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories were of listening to my mom read me a book, or watching a tv show or movie, and thinking how the story could have ended differently. When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I started writing what would now be known as “fan fiction” for Star Trek. Writing was always my favorite subject in school, and I attempted to write my first novel in high school. It didn’t go very far, and I think this was because like most amateur writers, I didn’t yet understand the a novel’s structure. I could write a scene, but figuring out what to do next confounded me. In my late twenties I finally got serious about writing and took some excellent online classes from Writer’s Digest. These gave me a foundational understanding that allowed me to finish my first novel sometime in my early thirties. This novel didn’t sell, and neither did the two that came after it, but each book that didn’t sell taught me something different about the writing process. I guess to answer your question, I never really felt inspired to write. The desire to tell stories is just part of who I am.

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

DB. Secondary character usually come as I’m writing, but primary characters always come first ,even before the situation. New York Times Best Selling author Brad Taylor is one of my friends, and I pick his brain for writing advice every chance I get. He once told me that characters are what bring readers back from book to book, and I believe that’s true. You can have the most unique story idea in the world, but without a cast of characters that a reader enjoys enough to spend three hundred plus pages and hours of their lives getting to know, you won’t have a successful book. As I mentioned before, Daniel Silva does a superb job with characterization, so much so that reading his books feel like coming home. He’s one of the few authors that I will reread time and time again because I miss hanging out with the people he’s created. That’s how I want readers to feel about my books.

Did you miss part 1 of our Interview with Don?

Check out part 3 of this fascinating interview with Don Bentley, July 2nd
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK