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:






Linked in:


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?

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Romantic Surprise

There is something irresistible about romances featuring cowboys. Don't we all love to read them?  I've been hooked on cowboy romances since I first started enjoying romance novels many years ago. As a result I'm always looking for new books that feature them and always on the lookout for a new author to enjoy.

 This week My Writing Corner features a new cowboy romance: The Cowboy's Twin Surprise by K. T. Byington, and it sounds like the perfect book for those cooling afternoons and evenings when all you want to do is curl up with a book.

When a little surprise changes her life, Jessie McKinnon has less than nine months to figure it out. A job at Chase Tanner’s ranch seems like a good short-term fix until she can get herself settled elsewhere, hopefully before she even begins to show.

Left to care for his abandoned twin baby nieces, Chase can’t believe his luck when Jessie offers hope of reining in the chaos his life has become. There’s only one problem—the feisty redhead from his past has the potential to break his heart all over again.

K. T.   has worked as a legal assistant and  probate paralegal. She tells us that she  enjoys beach vacations, a cup of tea on a wintry day and she loves holiday movies all year long. Now that sounds like a great  combination.

When she's not writing, she says,  she enjoys  spending time with her family, relaxing in her backyard at home or  frequenting favorite restaurants.

Want more? Here's an excerpt!

From the back, she thought it could be him. His usual cowboy hat was missing, but the long, lean frame, dark hair, faded jeans, and scuffed boots with bits of mud clinging to them easily fit her memory. Typical Chase Tanner. But there was something—no, two things—making it very unlikely. Namely, a little girl with blonde curls peeking over his left shoulder and a second fair-haired cutie clinging to his leg who appeared to be mere moments away from a full-fledged meltdown. Twins, barely old enough to walk.
No way would the fella she grew up with have allowed himself to be found in a situation like this. He was not the marrying kind, much less a family man. Whoever this guy was, buried in domestic responsibility, he could not be the man she remembered. Besides, why would a fourth-generation Montana rancher be standing in the middle of the local employment agency on a freezing January morning when there must be cattle, horses, and a million other things to tend to back at the homestead?

If you would like to read on, here  are the buy links and how to get in touch with K. T.

Contact information:

Twitter:  (I'm just getting started!)
Amazon Author Central:

Thank you K. T. for being my guest. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Lesson from The Past

Do you have old stories just waiting to be told?  Those wonderful characters you designed on neat pages of character forms, or those great plots on note cards that are all sitting inside your desk drawer?

Or what about old story ideas? As writers, aren't we getting them all the time? What do you do with them? I have a whole file.  Back when I worked in a newsroom I was always running across crazy stories... either in a newspaper or on the old Associated Press or UPI wire machines and I made a practice of keeping a file in my desk drawer just for them.  Why?  Not because we were ever going to do a news story on them -- some of them were international, but just to be able to re-read them and laugh again at the human condition or think about what kind of a fiction story might result from an incident.

Let's face it: We all love unique and great stories -- old and new -- not only non fiction, but the fictional stories we start writing and never finish. Sometimes it's enjoyable to get out those old works and re-read them. If nothing else, they can show you how far you've come! Recently when we were cleaning up the basement I ran across one of the first old manuscripts I began writing some 40 years ago while I was still in college.

 The typing paper is yellowing, and there are plenty of typos because I  didn't even have white out back then.

 What do you do with an old manuscript?  Don’t we all have them?  Some, we started years ago and just lost interest. Or maybe the story was going no where or we weren’t connecting with the characters. Whatever the reason, we just gave up on the story and let it go. 

But there it was – still in its own individual folder, the pages yellowed with age, the print from an old Smith Corona typewriter I got in college.

What to do with it? I knew immediately I couldn't throw it away.  Who knew what might be in those pages? Maybe there were pearls of wisdom I wrote back then.

The funny thing about the story is that while it was never published it did set the stage for my book Dead Man’s Rules.  This was the original story behind it. My first temptation was to go through and put this one into the computer and see if I could get it published as sort of a prequel.

But then I began to go through it.  What I really discovered was just how much I had developed

 as a fiction writer. Okay, so yes there were the obvious typos that couldn’t be fixed with a couple of key strokes back then. Instead of clean copy that gets printed now, I had lots of pages with xxxx on them.

But the story itself wasn’t bad. At least the plot wasn’t. I found myself caught up in the problem of a woman who discovered she had married the wrong man. Actually as I read through it, I found myself surprised at the story, but also cringing at the mistakes and problem areas – things like She smiled followed four lines later by He smiled. Such smily people!

Then, of course, there were the obvious punctuation mistakes and all those little things that I was to learn later in writing and editing classes.

What I came away with from this experience is that we can develop our voice and make it clearer and better and we can become better at dealing with the editing and the word choices.  The need to write, though, stays and we shouldn’t ignore it.  We should be ready to pick up that pen and paper or sit down at the keyboard and write when we get the urge.  

And we also need to keep learning.  There were so many lessons that followed those early pages that I have taken to heart and so much of what I see in those pages as compared to my current pages only illustrates that.  If you want to be a writer, go for it! Just like any other choice, make the one that works for you, and if you want to write, do it!  The mechanics can be learned. The writer’s touch doesn’t go away.  The need to write only becomes more urgent.

I’m not certain what I’m going to do with this old story. What I also discovered when going through it is that the first 60 pages from it are missing. Who knows where they went!  

I do know I’m going to re-read it all though again – not just to see how far I’ve come, but because I might it will give me more ideas for the future. And not only that... but I kind of enjoyed that story. I do remember that.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Let the Holidays Begin!

It's not too early to start thinking about the Holidays, and especially when the thinking involves cowboys!  I'm heading to Texas next week for a writing conference, so I definitely have cowboys and country-living  on my mind.

My guest this week is author Shana Hatfield who has an invitation for us as we celebrate the life and times of cowboys!

After spending her formative years on a farm in eastern Oregon, Shanna Hatfield turned her experiences into historical and contemporary romances, featuring hunky heroes. Readers enjoy her  stories filled with humor mixed with hope. She currently lives near Walla Walla, Washington, writing and dreaming up new stories and recipes.

But now let's hear about her latest adventure -- an entertainment book filled with down-home heroes, heroines and hope!

The jangle of spurs mingles with the jingle of sleigh bells in this celebration of Christmas—cowboy style!

Welcome home to a western holiday with A Cowboy Christmas. A collection of unique holiday décor, traditions, recipes, and guides for entertaining with ease make this your go-to resource for an amazing western Christmas. Filled with stories of real-life ranch families and rodeo cowboys, get a glimpse into their traditions, try their family recipes, and experience their lifestyles. From preserving memories of the past to tips for wrapping presents, discover the special touches incorporated throughout this book that make it a holiday keepsake you’ll cherish for years to come. Brimming with holiday cheer, recipes with full-color photographs, and one-of-a-kind ideas, this book is a wonderful celebration of the holidays that will help make your Christmas unforgettable.

Read a Book, Help A Cowboy
For most rodeo athletes it is a matter of when they get hurt, not if.
Many are uninsured and for those who find themselves out of work for months on end, the injury can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially.

That’s where the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund steps in. The JCCF provides financial assistance to rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries that leave them unable to compete for an extended time. Rather than worry about how they’ll pay their bills, they can focus on healing.
 Because she grew up around cowboys and loves to include them in the stories she writes, author Shanna Hatfield supports the JCCF through her Read a Book, Help A Cowboy campaign. In its sixth year, the campaign raises funds and awareness for the JCCF. Now through Christmas Eve, Hatfield will donate ten percent of the proceeds from every book purchase to the JCCF.

If you would like to get Shanna's book, here are the buy links:

And if you can find out more about her and her project at

Thank you, Shanna, for being our guest today.

Mysterious Doings

As the  summer begins, it is time to start selecting those books we want to take on vacation or for sitting around the pool or at  the beach...