Monday, October 25, 2021

Zooming Around

While COVID-19 may be keeping a good many of us close to home, it hasn’t stopped the ability to attend writing conferences across the country and even some internationally.  I have always enjoyed writing conferences because they present such a great opportunity to converse with other writers and listen to other authors talk about the writing process. For the past year, many conferences have gone the virtual route, and I am all in favor of that trend continuing. Virtual conferences have provided the opportunity to attend more conferences or attend conferences in faraway places. 

To me, conferences not only give me an opportunity to learn more about writing or teach writing classes, but they also give other writers the opportunity to simply sit down and chat with about their processes and problems as well as cheer on their successes. My last in-person conference was two years ago in Vancouver, BC, where I had the privilege of sitting on a panel with bestselling author Lee Goldberg. 

These days, my conference attendance is limited, like so many other authors, but I am happy to say that Zoom has come to the rescue--providing an abundance of opportunities to mingle with other writers and to attend writing sessions virtually. 

From virtual “book signings” with favorite authors to international writing conferences, to monthly writers’ group meetings, the opportunities to learn, to teach and to discuss our writing remain possible  through the internet magic of Zoom.  All it takes is a virtual connection and a computer or other electronic device. There is no need to worry about travel arrangements or parking or driving in congested traffic. 

All can be done in the relative calm atmosphere of our own home offices. 

 As someone who enjoys teaching and taking classes, Zoom has also provided great opportunities for me to present workshops to groups around the country. From the east coast to the Midwest, I have been able to either teach or attend classes right from the comfort of my writing area. Zoom has allowed me to attend conferences (even several in Canada) without ever leaving the comfy chair at my desk. No air fares, no hotel bills, no being away from the crazy cats. I can sit in my chair with my many cups of tea and meet writers from all over.

One problem of Zoom has been the loss of the opportunity to socialize with other writers face to face. I have to admit I do miss just sitting around and conversing with other writers that you happen to run into at conferences. I especially miss those opportunities at conferences to meet new writers from around the country or from around the world at the lunch tables or in the bar after a long day of worthwhile sessions.  Some conferences I have attended, though, have virtual “bars” or meeting places and that has been a good opportunity to chat with new writing friends.

This past weekend, I was able to journey virtually to a writers’ conference in Surrey, British Columbia. This is a conference I have always wanted to attend, but have never been able to due to either scheduling conflicts or time constraints. What a great discovery! Imagine getting to listen to not only sage writing lessons from a well-known teacher, but also hearing two favorite authors spend time talking about their work, one an international bestselling author whose work is popular around the world.

I had never attended a convention that featured best-selling author, Diana Gabaldon, and this weekend I got to hear her speak about crafting her characters, how to make them stand out through their point of view as she discussed her writing of the “Outlander” series. My arm got tired from taking notes! What a great experience not only to hear her talking about constructing her stories but also to hear her answer questions from fellow writers. 

An opportunity like that doesn’t come often, but there are many chances for all writers these days around the country. This is happening in many places around the country, and I advise all my writing friends to look for conferences or local writers’ meetings that invite others to their Zoom sessions. This is a great way to not only hear from other writers, but from readers as well. Last week, I attended a conference that featured author Anne Hillerman discussing her new book and setting the mood in her stories. 

I don’t attend the sessions just to hear what authors are saying about their latest work, though. There are often writers in the audiences who ask questions about writing, and it is possible to learn a great deal about the writing process by hearing what other writers say about how they accomplish their work. One of my favorite Zoom sessions in the past two months was an interview done by two best selling authors, Michael Connolly and Harlan Coben. It was set up to be Connolly interviewing Coben about his latest book, but it turned into a dual interview with both authors asking each other questions so that by the end, we were all receiving a great tutorial on the writing process from two of the best in the writing business.

But it’s not only the writing process we can learn about from these Zoom sessions. The opportunities abound for research.  Many groups also invite experts to their groups to talk about certain subject. I spent one Saturday afternoon hearing from a coroner in British Columbia because I have several books set there. Another local writing group featured two private investigators discussing what it was like to be an actual PI. Again, these were Zoom sessions, so I didn’t have to move beyond my desk

This conference “in” British Columbia was more than just a writing conference for me. It also gave me a chance to talk with writers in BC as I do research work on my next book Deadly Intentions, a book that is a sequel to my book Deadly Messages that opened in Stanly Park in Vancouver, BC. 

As the cold days move in, and it is harder to get around, these Zoom sessions can become even more valuable. So don’t despair! Get online and check for writing groups that might offer Zoom sessions. The opportunities are out there if you just look around. Don't miss the chance to  meet other writers from around the country or to conduct research for your next book through the Zoom experience! 

Monday, October 18, 2021

An Autumn View

Fall is upon us and the autumn colors are making their colorful showing,  reminding us that Winter isn't far away. That means stocking up on those books you want to curl up with during the cold days ahead.  Our guest today in My Writing Corner is Karen Guzman and her latest book,  Arborview, sounds like a perfect way to enjoy  some of those cold, quiet evenings reading and drinking hot chocolate.  It is now available on Amazon.

Karen is not only a fiction writer, but also an essayist.  Her debut, Homing Instinctswas published in 2014 while her short fiction has appeared in a number of literary magazines. Her story collection, Pilgrims, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award. Karen is a regular contributor to the Collegeville Institute’s Bearings Online magazine. She is the recipient of a 2021 writing fellowship at the Collegeville Institute.
Let's hear more about Arborview, starting with a blurb and then an excerpt:

When the recipe for a new life is bittersweet…

Ellen Cahill’s financial future rides on the success of her new pastry shop. A bruising divorce has drained her bank account, along with her spirit. A man enters her life promising love, but Ellen, haunted by the past, questions whether she can pull off this new beginning.

College student Rosa Escamilla has her own culinary dreams—and a difficult mother who’s dead set against them. Rosa won’t be deterred. She scrapes up the money to enroll at a prestigious culinary school, setting out to prove everyone wrong.

When hidden betrayals by the people they love most surface for both Ellen and Rosa, can they overcome the blows they never saw coming on the road to where they want to go? 

Let's get more information! How about an excerpt:

That was how she had come to think of herself: a divorced person. She disliked ”divorcee,” which Alice liked to throw about suggestively. The word had the faint stink of misogyny, of finger-pointing, the whisper of failure—more so a woman’s than a man’s. Why was that? Men were simply “divorced,” a neutral proclamation. No cutesy name had been invented to designate their failed-marriage status. 

In truth though, if Ellen had failed anyone, she had failed herself. That stinging little insight had come to her Arborview, lying in dappled sunlight, where she was free to look at things, to test them out, and creep near the truth. The truth was she had fallen like a stone to the earth after all these years, and the voice that she had learned to ignore had only grown louder. God, forgive me. She had abandoned, or at least shelved, herself, long before Zach worked up the courage to do it. 

She really should tell Rosa this: Don’t worry about what your mother thinks, or your brother, or anyone else. Choose, or the world will do it for you. That was what the girl needed to hear.

Sounds like an intriguing story. If you want to learn more about Karen and her books, here is her contact information:



Twitter: @kg_authorYou can find Karen’s books on Amazon, and learn more about her work at 

Instagram: @kagauthor


Amazon author page:

If you would like to purchase any of Karen's books, here are the Buy Links:

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

Monday, October 11, 2021

A Wild, Wilder West

 Don’t we all love cowboys who behave badly?  I say yes! We adore them almost as much as the determined or feisty heroines who take them on or tame them. Today’s guest in My Writing Corner is Anna Taylor Sweringen and in her latest work, she visits the Wild West. Let’s greet her writing alter-ego:

Michal Scott is the erotic romance pen name of Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. Inspired by the love mystics of Begijn, Audre Lourde and bell hooks, Rev. Anna writes erotica and erotic romance with a faith arc, hoping to build a bridge between the sacred and secular, spirituality and sexuality, erotica and Christ, you and a well-written spiritually-stimulating and erotically-arousing story. She uses story settings to give insight into the African American experience in the US. Besides erotic romance, she writes inspirational and sweet romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance and women's fiction as Anna M. Taylor. 

Her latest work is “The Patience of Unanswered Prayer,” a short story that appears in the Anthology,  Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology #6 and will be released on October 12, 2021.

Let’s get a blurb:

Back from his latest round up, trail boss Franklin Adams senses trouble has come to his homestead. His wolf companion Zeb senses it too. Feisty shop owner Eleanor Taylor has been kidnapped and is destined to be another victim of Reconstruction-era violence for running a successful business. When Franklin rescues her, he reveals a secret that may save or condemn them both. 

Sounds interesting but don’t we all want to get to  know these characters better, starting with Franklin.

What kind of a future do you hope to build?

It’s always been my dream to have enough land to recreate the freedom my people and species had back in Africa. It’s why I’ve always loved trail driving and working on the range. I see myself with a mate ruling and roaming over our kingdom here in the West, creating a healthy pride and generations who will follow in our footsteps when it’s time for us to join the ancestors.

What first draws you to Eleanor?

Her character. Every time I went into her store I admired her concern for others, her integrity, how she cares more for relationship than profit. Then once I got my character admiration glasses off, I was able to see she’s a damn fine looking woman.

What concerns you about her?

Her eyes are so focused on the stars, she doesn’t see the snakes on the ground. I’ve always sensed there’s more to her than I perceive. She moves with authority, the kind of authority I imagine my mate would have, but Eleanor is all alone. She doesn’t realize that having a sense of self the way she does is no real protection against the evils of the world.

What worries you about the future?

I’m watching the violence happening in the South, watching how it’s creeping West. No one, no matter their color, is immune to what’s being called Redemption. As more and more settlers occupy native territory I really worry if people of color and my species in particular have a chance at a healthy, happy life in America. I’m worried our only hope is to go back to our mother continent, Africa.

Now let’s talk to Eleanor.  Why were you kidnapped?

Because the sheriff is in league with Reb [character] to take over my business. They trumped up charges against me which my lawyer knows I will beat, once we get to court. To make sure that doesn’t happen the sheriff kidnapped me to get me out of the way permanently.

What draws you to Franklin?

The first time he walked into my store I was drawn to the way he carried himself. Quiet but not

subservient. Casual but always alert and so appreciative and charming. There was something about his manner. Regal, I call it. I imagine him on a savannah in Africa, a king on a throne, ruler of all he surveys. And did I mention he’s the finest specimen of male Blackness I’ve ever seen?

What do you want most out of life?

I’m so lonely. I want a mate I can depend on, share my true self with, have a family with, grow old with.

What is your biggest fear? 

That if the townspeople learn my secret, who I really am, in fear and out of ignorance they’ll turn on me. Even though I’ve always stood up for them, they’ll stand aside and let my business competitor, Reb Gordon Daniels and Sheriff Radcliffe kill me.

Intrigued? Want more? How about an excerpt:

The sounds of horse hooves clopping, drunken laughter, and saloon music had faded long ago. Only chirruping crickets, croaking bullfrogs, and Sheriff Radcliffe’s lies penetrated Eleanor’s covering. Where were they taking her?

The wagon wheels creaked with every rut they hit. Eleanor wheezed, desperate for fresh air. Nausea roiled at the base of her throat. Would she die choking on her own vomit? Fear squeezed her chest as yes flit through her mind like a lightning bug.

The wagon lurched to the right. Her nausea intensified.

"Mind how you go there, boy. We don't want to be accused of mistreating the prisoner."

Being arrested on false charges didn’t count as mistreatment? How about being abducted by ones sworn to uphold the law? Eleanor’s agony mirrored that of Christ’s on the cross.

My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

She moaned, her spirit smothered by despair. The pressure at the small of her back eased only to be followed by a sharp jab to her spine.

"Shut up, damn you," Radcliffe snapped. "Your days of troubling me will soon be over."

"What was that you said, Sheriff?"

"Thank God this trouble'll soon be over. We'll have delivered her safe and sound to the county seat tomorrow."

"Safe and sound,” Deputy Jim Flyte said. “Thank the good Lord."

His tone, full of innocence and ignorance, penetrated Eleanor’s cloth prison and killed all hope that he’d be of any help. She stifled a groan lest her tormentor kicked her again. Flyte was too young to know that safe and sound to Sheriff Hobart Radcliffe meant only one thing: Eleanor’s death.

To buy the book or reach out to Anna/Michal, here is her contact information.


Social media: Twitter @mscottauthor1

Amazon Author Page:


Newsletter signup:

Thank you, Anna/Michal for being my guest today on My Writing Corner!  Any questions or comments for her?

Monday, October 4, 2021

Cooking Up A Romance

 Today’s guest in My Writing Corner, Linda Griffin,  touched me with the answer to the first question I asked her. She is  a native of San Diego and is a retired librarian for the San Diego Public Library. (I remember one of my first stops when I moved to San Diego many, many years ago was a visit to the library there.) 

Linda has now retired so she can spend more time on her writing, but she already has an impressive background and history. Her stories have been published in numerous journals including Eclectica, Thema Literary Review, The Binnacle, and The Nassau Review. Her latest book, Love, Death and the Art of Cooking is her fourth romantic suspense novel from The Wild Rose Press. It was released in August. In addition to the three R’s—reading, writing, and research—she says she enjoys movies, Scrabble, and travel.

Tell us about your road to publication.

My passion for the printed word began with my first Dick and Jane reader, and as soon as I figured out that somebody had to create those words, I wanted to be a “book maker.” I wrote my first story at the age of 6 and had my first publication in college. My first novel was published in 1994, but the publisher soon folded. I never stopped writing, but it wasn’t until I retired that I became a frequent contributor to literary journals. I had two manuscripts rejected by The Wild Rose Press before they accepted Seventeen Days, and both were later revised and accepted. I couldn’t be happier with my experience with this publisher.

What do you find is the most challenging part of being an author?


The biggest challenge is when the level of creativity in the universe is low, and my characters won’t talk to me. When they do, it’s often during the night, which is a different kind of challenge! Editing is a challenge too, but to me an enjoyable one. I love the whole process of working with my wonderful editor, Nan Swanson. Then there’s promotion, which is hard for most authors, because writing is a solitary pursuit, and it can be hard to put ourselves out there.


What advice do you have for beginning writers?


Read! Read widely for background and more comprehensively in the genre you want to write. Reading a lot of different writers will help you develop your own unique style. Keep trying—you never know when a story will find the right home. In his memoir, My Second Twenty Years, Richard P. Brickner says that a novel is as large as an ocean to its author, but a mere drink of water to a reader. Use that idea to keep criticism and indifference in perspective and just enjoy the swim!  

What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?


Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking is a romantic suspense novel about a man who loves to cook. Although I don’t share his ability—my best kitchen skill is dishwashing—I love reading and writing about food and cooking, so I’ve wanted to write a story like this for a long time. The idea for the suspense plot came from a “what if” question that arose out of a completely different story. As often happens with me, putting two different ideas together started the words flowing.

Let’s get a blurb:

She wants to be friends, and he wants so much more. Software engineer Reid Lucas loves to cook and has a history of falling in love with married women. When he leaves his complicated past in Chicago for a job in California, he runs into trouble and must call a virtual stranger to bail him out of jail. Alyssa Knight, a tough street cop waiting for a church annulment from her passive-aggressive husband, is the roommate of the woman Reid calls for help, and she reluctantly provides bail for him. He falls for her immediately, and cooking for her is an act of love. She just wants to be friends, but they keep ending up in bed together. When his boss is murdered, Reid is a suspect—or is he the intended target?


What’s your next project? 


The next one is called Bridges. It’s set in 1963 and has a more old-fashioned tone and a classic romance trope—a reluctant heiress who has to marry to keep her inheritance. Unlike my romantic suspense novels, this one is a sweet, slow-burning romance with no murder--the only body is at the grandfather’s funeral! It will be my fifth from The Wild Rose Press.

That sounds like a wonderful story idea, one I know I want to read! Here are Linda’s  social and buy links if you would like to reach out to her.

Social links:  





Purchase links: 8 


Some of the recipes Reid uses can be found here:


Thank you Linda for being my guest today.  Are there any questions or comments for her?

A Writing Quest

With the cold days of winter in the rearview mirror and spring taking a firm hold, it's time to look forward to all the reading we want ...