Friday, December 6, 2019

A Journey into the Past

This is the perfect time of the year to find a good book to read -- whether for relaxation or to get my mind off all the errands I have to get done before the holidays. Don't you just long for an evening with a good book? I know I do!  I love the opportunity to  lose myself in someone else's troubles... like a good murder!

Author Julie Howard sounds like she has the perfect solution to those cold days when all we want to do is sit by the fire and read in her newest suspense book, Wild Crime,  and she is my guest today in My Writing Corner. Julie is the author of the Wild Crime series, and Spirited Quest.

 She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write.

Let's find out more about her newest work,  Wild Crime:

I'm a murderer. I'm a murderer. I'm a murderer." 

Those three repeated words discovered in an old letter propel Meredith Lowe in a cross-country pursuit to unveil her mother's murky past. Danger stalks Meredith back to Hay City, Idaho as she peels apart the mystery: 

Who is her father, and did her mother kill him?

 In finding the answer, will a growing love slip through her fingers?

Past merges with the present as the story races to its stunning conclusion.

 Want more? Let's open up the book and  get an excerpt from Wild Crime:

    Her hair fell below her waist, ripped free of its ties and weighed down by the warm, lashing rain. The sky-blue dress, so carefully chosen for this night and tried on so many times in her bedroom, was ruined. One strap had torn from her shoulder and dangled down her back. Mud splattered the hem. Sweet Cantaloupe lipstick, a lovely coral that heightened the green in her eyes, was smeared like a bruise on one cheek. She ran.

             The high school gym behind her, decorated in crepe paper and curtains, vibrated with electric guitars and teen-aged hormones. Couples gyrated on the dance floor and then disappeared into dark corners. It was late and the Spring Dance was in full throttle. No one would miss her for hours.

             Before her, trees dripped moss, barely visible in the darkness. She envisioned the moss brushing her shoulders, low branches snagging in her hair, the possibility of snakes both at her feet and above; this made her hesitate. It would take one scream, one gasp, and he would find her.

Want even more? Here are the buy links if you would like to read on:

And here is more information on how to get in touch with Julie or to learn more about her and her writing:







Thank you, Julie, for being my guest and bringing us your newest book!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Writing Through the Holidays

This is the time of year when the writing process may come to a halt for many authors or fledgling authors. It is hard to think about writing a fictional tale when real life is getting very complicated all around us. There are presents to buy, holiday decorating to be done, extra meals to be cooked for guests or extra company, or just visiting with relatives you don't see very often. How can we make time to do any writing work during these busy times? Isn't it easier to simply set aside the writing process and promise to make a harder effort in the new year?


There are things you can still do to work on your writing even during the chaos of the holidays. This may be a busy time but you can put some of that busy time period to work for you.

1. Come up with new story ideas. Think up a Christmas tale based on something you hear or something that happens to you.  You might even do a small focus group around the holiday table and get some great story ideas. Or you might listen to a story someone tells and think about how you would use the elements of that tale in a story of your own.

2.  Look around and write down descriptions that you can use later. Note the holiday decorations or the sights and sounds of the holiday and write up a few paragraphs about them so that if you want to write a holiday story you already have some ideas of what you want to say.

3. Think through your plot or your characters while you're doing that endless busy work like wrapping presents or unstringing light bulbs. Sometimes the work of getting ready for the holidays can seem so taxing, but take your mind away to another world while you're stamping those cookies with a cookie cutter out for the office holiday party.

4. Use friends and family for a focus group around the holiday dinner table. Let them help you come Home Fires Burning.  Those sort of family tales are all around us and if you tell them as fiction or turn them even into a non-fiction story, it gives you something to write about.
up with ideas or ask them what they think of a storyline you might want to use in a future story. Ideas are all around us and while you might not use the exact details, why not take a storyline from something that happened to someone. One of my early holiday memories was hearing my mother talk about how she met my dad. I always associate that old story with my early Christmas memories and when I was writing one of my first romance novels, I adapted part of her story into the plot that became my romance,

5. Don't despair if you find you have no time to write. Try doing some editing during quiet times as a way of breaking the holiday time, or simply read over your story to make certain you're heading in the right direction. Read it as a reader rather than as the writer. Maybe you'll find new directions to take or reinforce your thoughts about how the plot was working.

Mainly it is important to not beat up on yourself if you don't get a lot of writing done for the next few weeks. Take the time for yourself or make that resolution to write more in the New Year!

Buy Links: 
Buy Links

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Let's Talk Horror Writing!

 From my first brush with Edgar Allen Poe (due to my brother's literature class), spooky or horror books have always been among my favorite reading material. From Stephen King to supernatural thrillers, I've loved every frightening moment.   That's why I was excited to get the opportunity to host writer Robert Herold and his new project in My Writing Corner this week  and to get a chance to interview him. .

He says  the supernatural has always had the allure of forbidden fruit to him, ever since his mother refused to allow him, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. Eventually she gave in and before long he was telling tales to neighborhood children of werewolves on the front lawn.  He has pursued many interests, including becoming a history teacher and musician but he always retained his loved of the supernatural, or as he says, he was haunted by it.  Finally he wrote The Eidola Project.
 How did you get started as a fiction writer?
Several years ago I began writing television pilot episodes and entering them in contests. My scripts were doing well. I won The Wild Sound Festival, had two pilots in the top five in the People’s Pilot Awards, and was a finalist, or semi-finalist in several other big contests. After pitching my scripts for a year and getting lots of requests, but having things go no further, I wrote Larry Brody, who heads The People’s Pilot Awards &, and asked for advice.
He said it was difficult but not impossible for an older writer to break in. (Full disclosure: I’m 63 years young!) He said I should try another route to get attention and suggested I try writing novels.
The Eidola Project was originally a pilot script and I decided to use that, because I always had an affinity for both history and supernatural horror.  It turns out I really like writing novels—I’m having a blast!
I recently wrote an article that goes into more detail about this, published on the TVWriter website.  See
 How did you get the idea for this book?
Set the Way Back MachineTM for 1968. I wrote a horror story for my junior high English class called “A Matter of Inconvenience.” My teacher loved the story and had me read it to the class. Thanks Mrs. Holt!
What do you like best about your characters?
They’re all interesting people with incredible back-stories, but none are perfect. (Who is?) One, in particular, is far from it. The series will trace their evolution. It’s fun to see where they will go and what they will do with heartaches and obstacles I place before them.  Writing is a bit like how the Greek and Roman gods would toy with humans!
What are you working on next?
My second novel involves a werewolf and is entitled, Moonlight Becomes You. It’s currently at the editor and I anticipate it coming out sometime in 2020.  I’m also 100 pages into book number three.  It’s set among the NW Native Americans along the Pacific Coast. The working title is Totem of Terror, and it concerns a deadly shape-shifting creature. 
All my books are set in the late-19th Century because I find it a fascinating era. Modern science and technology were causing tremendous changes in society, but there were still vestiges of much earlier thinking, technology, and beliefs. The era can also act as a window on today’s social issues, particularly racism and substance abuse.
Is there anything else you want to tell us?
I wanted to be a werewolf as a child.  It’s probably why I have a beard!

Okay! Let's get more on this intriguing book:

It's 1885 and a drunk and rage-filled Nigel Pickford breaks up a phony medium's séance. A strange twist of fate soon finds him part of a team investigating the afterlife.
The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of explorers dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a sideshow medium, and now a derelict, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses.
Called to the brooding Hutchinson Estate to investigate rumored hauntings, they encounter deadly supernatural forces and a young woman driven to the brink of madness.
 Will any of them survive?
Sounds spooky and like fun reading! Robert says ultimately, he hopes the book gives you the creeps, and he means that in the best way possible.
Here are the buy links:
for Amazon

If you would like to get in touch with Robert, here is  his contact information:

Thank you, Robert for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Robert?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Finish the Book!

For the past several weeks I have been working on finishing a non-fiction book with a writing partner while also working on several fiction projects.  Finally my sister (who is perhaps my best and worst critic) asked me directly, "When are you ever going to finish something?"

Excellent question. It got me to thinking, why is it so hard to finish a project? That was never an
issue in the past. Of course, when you just got two new cats who seem to demand constant attention, it can be harder than you might think. Last week one of them stretched out on the keyboard of my computer and refused to budge. Okay, they should be easy to lift, but then they start to squirm and suddenly everything you've typed into the keyboard disappears with the step of one soft little paw!

This week she wrapped herself up in a curtain cord and had to be rescued from her hanging position.

Why did it used to be so easy?  Well, of course it wasn't, but when you work as a daily television news producer or executive producer, your work has to be finished every day. For years I knew that my deadline was 4pm, 5pm or 11pm. My broadcast was going on the air with or without me. I had to make certain it was with me. I had to have everything ready to go for that next hour or half hour or there would be dead air. There could never be dead air so I had to produce something! Of course I had lots of people working with me, but they had that same deadline. Together we all had to have our stories written, our work done or it wasn't going to get seen.

Writing a book is a whole different animal, and I'm not talking cats now, but the end result is the same. If I don't finish a book, it is never going to be read. I can re-read and re-edit over and over, but my readers are never going to see my work. Just like my sister, they may be asking when will you finish the book?

As writers we all need to keep that in mind. Our work will not be seen until it is finished. I've worked with critique partners who wanted to keep perfecting things but in the end they simply took the vibrancy out of the story.  Sooner or later there has to be an ending.

How do you decide your are getting there?

1. Look back at your story. What was the original goal of the main characters? Have they met it or have you just been meandering and not bothered to keep building the tension toward getting to that final goal.

2. Look at your characters. Have they been learning? Have they been growing? Are they about ready to tackle that final issue to get their happy (or unhappy) ending?

 If you've just been going around in plot circles, it may be about time to start looking for how you are going to finish the story.

3. Study your opening pages. What did you set out to do in the beginning? Have you taken the proper steps toward getting there? Maybe you veered off in the wrong direction some place and all it will take is coming back to the original premise to get your characters back on the right track.

4. Read over the middle part of your book. Are all the scenes necessary? Are there some that need to be beefed up to get toward your ending? Are there some that you put in thinking you wanted to go in a certain direction and then never went there. Get rid of them!

5. Have you put in too much backstory? Is the middle of the book so heavy simply because you kept explaining issues that didn't need to be in the book?

6. Finally, look again at how you want to end the story. Did you have an idea of how you wanted it to end or was it too vague?  If you were never quite sure, maybe it's time to decide that definitive ending then start taking those steps to get there.

7. If you're working on a sequel, as I am on the moment -- working on the second part of my Dead Man series, re-read parts of the first book to get an idea for why you wanted to write a series in the first place. Get to know the characters and situations again to make certain you're heading in the right direction.

It's like taking a long walk. You can look up or down the hill and decide at the beginning whether you want to take the longer version and see all the sights or the shorter version that might leave you breathless. Which direciton do you want to take? Decide and then start aiming for it. Wandering all the paths along the way is only going to get you lost and tired.

8. Finally, make your decision on the ending and then and head for it! Make it direct and push forward until you get there.  (and hope you don't run into cats stuck in a new predicament along the way)

Now it's back to work to finish my next book. If you would like to check out the first part in the series, Dead Man's Rules is available at Amazon.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Tackling A November Writing Project

For the past six years November has been a very busy month for me because I've tackled NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing month. It is a time when thousands of other writers also tackle the prospect of writing a book during the month of November. Local groups sponsor write-ins and we all post our daily word count to the website every day. We sit in a coffee shop or at times there have been groups who get together in conference rooms during their lunch hour to work on their stories.

What I've found about NaNoWriMo is that it has been a great way to get new work started. If there is a project I've wanted to get going on, NaNo is a good place to begin. The words begin to pile up and by the end of the month, even if I haven't made my 50-thoussand words I've gotten a good start and I can continue even after the month ends. There have also been Camp NaNo projects in July and during other months of the year.  Why do NaNoWriMo or a writing related project like this?

1. It's a good way to focus on ONE story. This month I have chosen to begin a book I've been planning to write. Don't we all get into that habit of saying, "I want to write this book," but then we don't do it? NaNo gets me focused with that project so I have to construct at least a basic idea to get started.

2. It establishes or re-establishes a daily writing routine.  Too often we find many reasons or excuses NOT to write. With a NaNo word count staring me down every day, I know I need to start writing at a certain time and keep at it until I reach my daily goal or I may fall off and have to make up time later. Keeping that daily routine works and it has carried over many times for several months -- long enough to get this book either close to finished or finished and ready to work on a new project.

3. There are others who are going through the same process. Again, in a big city it's easy to find other
nano groups that are doing write ins and sitting in a coffee shop or library where we are all trying to achieve the same goal is invigorating. It's nice to know we are all having to struggle. And at times we wit and have coffee after our writing time and talk about our work. That can be helpful too by sharing plotting woes and getting character ideas. It's an opportunity to socialize with other writers that might not normally be there. I did my first NaNoWriMo when I was tackling my sweet romance, Home Fires Burning, and the suggestions some writers gave me ended up in the plot for the book.

4. There is encouragement from the group. Just like sharing with others, I get to hear how others are suffering and can add encouragement to them for their writing. They do the same with me, and their problems always sound a lot worse than my simple statement that today I don't feel like writing. They might have children or families interrupting them. I simply have two rambunctious kittens begging for attention that disrupts my writing progress this year. But even their antics get me back to writing.

5. All those words will be written. No matter how you look at it, participating in NaNoWriMo gets a lot more done than I probably would have in other times. Then too often I'll stop and start over because something doesn't sound just right. Working to get a word count done means I have to keep going and know I'll have to come back later. I don't stop and take the time now. My goal is to get that word count up so I have to move along rather than spend an hour contemplating one minor plot point.

Good luck to all the other NaNoWriMo writers out there. Hopefully we will get through our projects and next year we can be starting on something new!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Halloween Treat

This is the perfect day to visit other worlds and that's what we're doing in My Writing Corner today.  M. S. Spencer is my guest and she is bringing us a tale from a unique realm that can get us into the mood for dark tales, but most of all,romance. Her latest book is Orion’s Foot and it just released this week.

Ms. Spencer has published thirteen romantic suspense or murder mystery novels, with two more on the way. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Here's what she has to tell us about the origins of Orion's Foot.

Most people have never heard the word “cryptid” and indeed, Petra Steele, heroine of Orion’s Foot: Myth, Mystery, and Romance in the Amazon, learns of the name for legendary animals for the first time when she’s researching the Mapinguari, a supposedly mythical Bigfoot-like beast rumored to live in the Amazonian rainforest. A cryptid can be any of the following:

Ø  A creature from myth and legend

Ø  A supernatural or paranormal entity

Ø  An extinct animal who may still inhabit a specific area

Ø  An animal found in an area it doesn’t normally inhabit

Ø  An animal of an unusual size or appearance

Ø  An animal that doesn't resemble any known species

Ø  A hoax—stuffed, photoshopped, false accounts


The Mapinguari, which the team of scientists have come to find, is a beast who lives in the forests of the Peruvian Amazon. It is huge and hairy and has a hole in its stomach, into which it sucks unwary villagers.  It resembles creatures found in other parts of the world—Bigfoot, the Yeti, Sasquatch. It is NOT nice, as our heroine Petra Steele, and her hero Emory Andrews, discover to their chagrin.


Now let's hear about the book and meet the hero and heroine.

Petra Steele is wallowing in self-pity after being dumped at the altar, when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she's confronted with a murder victim. In a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists, she is drawn to Emory Andrews, a gruff, big man with a secret past. That is, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.

What made you decide to take this trip with Nick?
Good question. I’m not much into travel—except for the armchair variety. Both my father and brother Nick despaired of me ever leaving my beloved library (I’m a research librarian at the University of Chicago). I’d actually sent for a brochure on the Galapagos and was girding my loins to go, when Nick called and demanded I drop everything and meet him in the Amazon. He said they’d discovered something momentous. Huh. Maybe it was the free ticket; maybe it was the mystery. At any rate, I jumped a plane and three days later landed deep in the sizzling, romantic jungle. Good idea or bad? Find out in Orion’s Foot!

What is your first impression of Emory?
I wrote this in my diary my first day—the scientists are having lunch after they’d discovered the corpse of one of their own, his body ravaged by piranhas. The cook serves ceviche—made from piranha. Emory makes a joke.

Emory has a sense of humor—macabre though it may be. I watched him eat. He seemed to savor every bite, as though he’d missed too many meals and appreciated the ones he had time for. He sipped the beer rather than gulping it down like the rest of the guys. At one point, he put down his fork and rubbed his lip pensively. I wondered if he were contemplating their next steps. I thought to myself, Didn’t Nick say everyone looked to him as the leader? I dredged up the study of physiognomy I’d been reading during my last bout with the flu. Strong chin—thank God, no dimple. Tendrils of dark hair almost hid his widow’s peak. Let’s see—widow’s peak means intelligence and breeding. Strong chin? Either perseverance or obstinacy.

So, let’s say I was intrigued but, given my past with men, not really thinking beyond that.

What do you fear about him?

That he’ll leave me like all the men before him. George—he was the last. Let me tell you about George:

“Three years in which her career stalled while she followed him around the world. She made every sacrifice required, tolerated his workaholic habits, kept any disagreement to herself to avoid his explosive temper, saw any chance of children slip away. And for what? She remembered vividly the upturned faces of her family sitting in the front pew, still heard the music start up for the fifth time. Suffered again through the sympathetic expression on Reverend Drudge’s face as he handed her the note. Never again.”

I swore off men and plunged into work. Emory has secrets. I don’t yet know what they are and I can’t risk being hurt again. Besides, I really don’t think I have it in me to make another windmill tilt at love.


What do you like best about your current life?

Well, I’m not all that happy, to be honest. See, I had some academic issues, and now find myself roving the world looking for guest lecturer positions. I jumped at this grant to go the Amazon, thinking I might discover a new bird species. Instead, I found an intriguing woman, and a great hairy beast. Things could be looking up.

What attracts you to Petra?

Let me tell you what I told her:

“You have a generous soul…I can see it in your eyes. You didn’t know Lewis, but you looked more sad than frightened when you saw his body. You always make eye contact with everyone, even the skittish little Capac. The monkeys adore you almost as much as they do John.”…

“Of course, having chestnut hair cut in a fetching gamine style, not to mention eyes the color of the Hope diamond, doesn’t detract from the generally pleasing impression.” He stood up and touched her forehead. “The slender body—graceful but trim—the elfin little ears, and the perky butt, also contributed to my positive assessment.”

Too much? She seemed to appreciate it.


They went back down the path they’d come, surveying the ground and vegetation for any trace of a large animal. They had reached the mahogany tree when Petra checked her watch. “Winston’s been gone half an hour. Maybe we should—” Her words were cut off by a low snarl. “Emory? Is that you?” She whirled around. “Where are you?”

For answer, the growl grew deeper and more menacing. Sounds like a gorilla—but they don’t live here, do they? She whispered, “Emory?”

Shh.” She looked up. Emory clung to a low branch of the mahogany tree. He held a hand out. “Quickly.”

She grabbed a liana, hoping fervently it wasn’t a Strychnos vine, and scrambled up. The growl came again, closer. They climbed higher. Something crashed through the woods, puffing. Whatever it was entered the clearing, and the noise stopped. Petra held her breath and Emory’s hand. It must be looking for us. After a lengthy pause that left her feeling chilled to the bone in the torrid heat, the puffing started again, gradually diminishing into the distance. She waited five more minutes to be sure it was gone before whispering, “Did you get a look at it?”

“No, the foliage was in the way, but it sounded awfully big. And grouchy. I’m going to—” As he started to climb down, a twig snapped below them. They froze.

Something’s being dragged through the underbrush.

Want to read on? Here are the Buy Links:


Social Media Links:






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Thank you, Melissa, for being my guest today.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Real Life, Real Love, Real Romance!

Real life love stories only make reading romance novels more appealing, and that is what we get today from author Judith Sterling.  Her newest book, Night of the Owl, has just been released and she is my guest today. Here's what she had to say about it: 

The hero and heroine’s mutual love of history reflects my husband’s and mine. You might say history brought us together because right around the same time, each of us decided independently to move from different parts of the country to Virginia, specifically to seek work at Colonial Williamsburg.  There’s a lot of both of us in Night of the Owl.  That’s why the book’s release date is perfect; it’s our 19th wedding anniversary!

Judith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She says she loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles.  It sounds like her latest book will do just that to readers. Let's learn more about Night of the Owl:

PhD student Ardyth Nightshade has renounced men and pursues her twentieth-century career with single-minded focus. When fate whisks her to medieval England, she meets her match in a man whose passions mirror her own. Can she sacrifice ambition for a love she never sought?

Hugh, Lord Seacrest confounds all who know him. He refuses to marry without a meeting of minds and hearts, and no lady has even approached his ideal…until Ardyth. But she's an odd one, with unique skills, shocking habits, and total conviction she needs no man. She also harbors secrets, and in the midst of rumors, plots, and murder, trust is fragile.

A woman outside of her time. A man ahead of his. They must take a leap of faith to forge a bond that will shape history.

Judith writes more than fiction. Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.

Here are the buy links:


Amazon UK

Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Barnes and Noble

 Here's how to get in touch with Judith and to find out about all her books:

Social Media Links

Website –

Facebook –

Goodreads –

BookBub –

Amazon –

The Wild Rose Press –

The Captivating Quill –

Thank you, Judith, for being my guest today.  Any questions for Judith?