Monday, November 22, 2021

Gingerbread Season

 The sweet holiday season is coming into full swing, and this week we are offering yet another sweet cookie treat for readers. My guest today in My Writing Corner is author Jo Hiestand. She has been my guest in the past, and today she brings us another new offering that should delight readers during the coming holiday season . Her newest book is Death by Gingerbread Drops, which is part of her Linn House Series. She tells us her heroine is in her mid fifties, has been divorced for a little over a year and is trying to make a go of her business on the banks of the Mississippi River.

 Let’s start with a blurb:


When Rona Murray, owner of Linn House Bakery, enters her town’s charity Christmas cookie auction, she has no idea the evening will end in a person’s death. To open the auction, emcee Angela Hermitter samples the new cookies of last year's winner and seconds later drops dead. Evidently sugar and spice are not always nice. Had someone baked to kill, or had Angela been sick? Rona has questions, and turns up the heat on people with ties to Angela. It’s then that she realizes her ex-husband, Johnny, still loves her. But is his love enough to protect her from a killer who has his or her own recipe for murder?

Want more? Let’s check in with  Rona herself and ask about her latest adventure.

Rona, do you know many of the people who have entered the auction?

It always seems like a huge turnout. I’ve never counted contributors, but I’d say at least two dozen donated cookies. My competition grows every year, more beautiful cookies every time.

As for specific folks associated with the auction... there’s Chad Trask. He’s the owner of Dante’s Café, where the auction is held. He donates the use of his café, so for the evening. Angela Hermitter is the emcee of the auction. And of course Debbie Weingarten works for the auction committee here in Klim. And there’s Glenn, a deputy sheriff. Most everyone in town seems to participate one way or the other.

Why do you want to find out who killed Angela?

Several reasons. First, I liked Angela and I’d like her killer to be held accountable and be punished. Second, it’s purely personal, I’m afraid. I’m the prime murder suspect on Glenn’s list. I’d like to clear my name. By proving my innocence, that also bolsters my bakery business. People don’t want anything to do with a murder suspect, so they shun me and my company. I had the same problem three months ago, in September, when I was suspected of drowning a woman near my home. I was angry that suspicion fell on me because I knew I didn’t do it. But I was also afraid if my bakery and catering business lost too many customers, I’d lose my livelihood.  It’s a scary situation to be in.

What other questions do you have about her death?

Obviously, I’d like to know if she was murdered. I don’t know if Angela had health issues. That would ease a lot of folks’ minds if she did. But if it was an intentional taking of her life, I’d like to know how she was killed. That would ease my mind greatly. But I think the most important question I have, which most everyone has, is why. Why was she murdered? Killing someone is such a terrible action. What had she done to the killer to make him or her strike out and take her life?

If she was murdered, do you think you are in danger too?  If so, why?

I think having a personal connection, such as Angela and I had, to anyone who dies in mysterious circumstances makes many people nervous. You know—if it happened to Angela, a nice woman who minded her own business, it could happen to me. I realize many of the bakers who supplied cookies for the auction are wondering if the murder—if it comes to that—was really intended for Angela, or if there was a mistake. It’s a scary idea the person could still be waiting to strike again.

What happened to break up Johnny and you?


We got divorced a year ago this past June. I’m afraid I wasn’t ready for marriage, or mature enough, if I’m honest with myself. I misread his remarks. He has a very dry sense of humor and I thought he was finding fault with me. Now I know that our divorce was the biggest mistake I’d ever made. Older and wiser, as the saying goes.

How do you feel about him now?

I was suspicious when we met again this past September. I still believed the worst about him, still thought he was making fun of me. But he was sincere. He wanted to get back together. During the ensuing months, I’ve realized he loves me and has never stopped loving me. And I realize I still love him. Always will. And that’s a wonderful thing to hold on to, especially through this turmoil. I’m lucky I’m getting a second chance at love.

For a closer look, let’s  go to the videotape!  Watch the trailer for Death By Gingerbread Drops

If you would like to find out more about Rona Murray's other escapades, here are Jo's buy links and her social contacts:




Jo’s website address is:


Jo, thank you for being my guest today and allowing us to learn more about Rona Murray’s latest exploit.  Does anyone have any questions or comments for Jo?

Monday, November 15, 2021

Treats for the Holiday Season

As we prepare to head into the waning weeks of the year, this is a great time to spend any extra hours relaxing by watching movies and reading books and stories set with the background of the holidays and of course, baking cookies. In the next few weeks, My Writing Corner will continue to highlight writers with wonderful holiday stories. 

Today we feature author Cherie Colyer and her new work, Merry Little Writing Spritz, which is part of a collection of holiday stories called Christmas Cookies coming to readers from The Wild Rose Press.  It was released earlier this month. 

Cherie tells us she is a professional network technician by day and a novelist by night. She and her husband live in the Chicago suburbs and she has four sons. Cherie writes stories with a paranormal twist and is the author of the Embrace Series. (Challenging Destiny, Damned When I Didn’t and Friends to the End),

She also says she is now waltzing into the world of adult novels with her new enchanting holiday romance, Merry Little Wishing Spritz. 

Tell us about your road to publication. 

The first book I wrote was a middle-grade fantasy. These characters are dear to my heart, even though I haven’t found a home for the book. But it is where my writing career began. My husband saw how much I enjoyed writing and encouraged me to join writing groups and attend writing conferences. I kept working on my craft and sold five young adult paranormal romances before penning my first adult novel, Merry Little Wishing Spritz.

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

Cassie Moore, my kind hearted and determined (if not a bit stubborn) protagonist came to me while I was working on one of my young adult novels. I missed writing about magic and witchcraft, and I think she knew it. When my publisher put out a call for books for their new series, I knew it was time to get her out of my head and into a story. 

Let’s get a blurb. 

Modern-day witch Cassie Moore’s cozy life turns upside down when her friend foresees the wrecking ball that threatens to destroy Cassie’s home and workplace. But Cassie isn’t giving up without a fight. She casts a well-intended spell meant to save her apartment and her job.

But magic is unpredictable, especially when her friend casts a little charm of her own that has Cassie lusting after the man she desperately wants to despise.

Jack Quinn has had his eyes on Lakeside Books for years, and he couldn’t be happier the

owner is finally ready to sell. He has big plans for the cozy waterfront property, but he

didn’t expect to care about the store or its employees. And he never imagined he’d be

drawn to a certain brown-eyed saleswoman.

Almost as if by magic.

What’s your next project? 

I’m working on a companion book for Merry Little Wishing Spritz. Peyton, Cassie Moore’s best friend, is the star of this novel. I’m still working out the details, but I can tell you it takes place in a small beach town in Maine, and there will be more than just a witch’s magic in play.

How do you develop characters? 

I create character sheets, list their likes, dislikes, quirks, and so on. Sometimes I’ll pull traits from people I know or met. This helps with how a character may act in different situations. But it’s not until I get to the middle of the first draft that I really get to know them. 

How do you come up with your plots? 

I don’t have just one way. The idea for my YA novel Challenging Destiny came to me when I saw a church in the middle of nowhere. It was a large white building with small windows, no landscaping, and a rickety front porch. For Merry Little Wishing Spritz’s, I had some guidelines from my publisher, and my main character is a witch, so I played around with a few ideas, asking a lot of what if’s until the plot came together.

What advice do you have for beginning writers? 

Read a lot and read wide. You can learn a lot about writing by studying what works and doesn’t work in published books. Then take some writing courses. There are a lot of good ones out there to help develop one’s craft.

How about an Excerpt from Merry Little Wishing Spritz:

   “He’s convincing,” one of the women who worked there whispered. “And sexy. Where’d you

find him?”

    It was the darn suit. The sleeves strained against muscle when he lifted gifts and the pants

practically drew the eye to his thighs when he squatted to talk to the smaller children. It fit too

perfectly. Maybe Peyton had spelled it to adjust to the wearer?

    “He found us.”

    “Well, you’re a lucky woman—”

   “Oh, he and I aren’t together.”

   “Really? The two of you keep sneaking glances at each other.”

    If we did, it was only because we were working together. “I assure you, we’re not a couple.”

    “Hum, well then.” She eyed Jack. “If I wasn’t married…” She cackled. Actually cackled!      

    “Don’t just stand there, girl.” She nudged me. “Bring him a bottle of water.”

     It was the least I could do. I grabbed a bottle and rejoined Jack.

    “I thought Santa might be thirsty.”

    “Ho ho ho! Thank you.” Jack grabbed my hand along with the water and twirled me around

once. Heart racing and a bit off-balanced I bumped into him. His free hand settled on my waist.

     “You’re lucky you’re not dressed as Mrs. Clause,” he whispered.

      His eyes twinkled. My breath caught. “Why’s that?”

      He glanced up. I followed his gaze to the mistletoe hanging from the ceiling.

If you would like to learn more about Cherie and buy her books, here are her links:






Bookbub author page:

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ InstagramGoodreads ~ Bookbub  

Buy links:


Barnes & Noble: 


Universal link: 



Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Apple ~ Universal link

Goodreads ~ Bookbub

Thank you, Cherie, for being my guest on My Writing Corner.  Any comments or questions for her?

Monday, November 8, 2021

Beginning A Sweet Reading Season

We’re moving toward the holiday season and for the next couple of months, we’ll be bringing you some sweet treats from authors guaranteed to make you smile without gaining weight. In fact, they are stories that fit in perfectly with the season--many featuring holiday cookies in the storyline.

This week we are featuring author Darlene Deluca who writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She says she likes to explore relationships in her stories – what brings people together and/or keeps them apart.

She also likes  to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two). Add to that big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery and it all adds up to a fun reading experience. Darlene says her hope is to leave readers either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile when  the final page is turned. She tells us she enjoys reading, a little dark chocolate, a glass of fresh-brewed tropical tea and a warm, sunny day!

Darlene has been a reader and writer since childhood. With a degree in Journalism, she started her career as a newspaper reporter. She currently has eight published novels, which are available in paperback and ebook versions.

Her newest book is named Cookie Collision and it has just been recently released.  Let’s get a blurb:

Before she can let up and enjoy some holiday cheer, real estate agent Alana Drake has work to do. With Christmas moving in fast, she has clients to meet with, houses to show, and cookies to bake. Every open house deserves her special touch—homemade and hand-decorated sugar cookies for a warm welcome. And she needs several dozen for upcoming holiday events and open houses.

But a poorly timed stop at the grocery store could upend more than her bag of groceries. Running into Doctor Justin Teague—literally—shakes up Alana's tidy world. The chance encounter leaves her with a bum ankle, forces her to reconsider some dating ideals, and reveals new information about a longtime nemesis.

When all she wanted was to bake some cookies…

Want more?  Let’s get an excerpt:

Justin moved into the room, set the things on a side table, and perched on a chair. Watching her, he could practically see the pain fade from her face. Her brow smoothed, and the tension he’d noticed around her lips disappeared. He fought the urge to brush a kiss across her forehead. She looked way too peaceful to disturb. But now what? Sit here and watch her sleep? Sneak out the door? He couldn’t leave it unlocked, and he had no idea whether she’d be down for the night or if she did power naps.

Finally, he took off his shoes and quietly padded to the kitchen to deal with supper. For now, everything could go in the fridge. Feeling like an intruder, he moved stealthily around her kitchen. With that task completed, he grabbed a newsmagazine from a basket and settled into a chair across from his patient…and/or dinner date.

Twenty minutes later, Alana stirred. She pulled up her arm and adjusted her position. Then her eyes opened.

“Hey,” Justin whispered.

She bolted upright. “Oh, my gosh. Justin. Did I fall asleep? I’m so sor—”

He held up a hand. “Shhh. No worries.” He handed her the glass of water and tablets. “Why don’t you take a couple of these then I’ll wrap your ankle.”

For him, the biggest issue was not the condition of her ankle but trying to stay in professional mode and ignore the feel of her smooth leg under his hands. Seated on the table in front of the sofa, he forced his eyes to focus on the strip of fabric as he wound it around both foot and ankle and secured it firmly. 

“How’s that feel?”

Alana nodded. “That’s amazing. It’s better already.” Luminous eyes met his. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Keeping it tight is the key.” He couldn’t help himself. He reached out and touched her hair. “Sorry you had a bad day.”

A light sparked in her eyes, and she sat straighter. “I didn’t have a bad day.”

Frowning, he cocked his head. “You didn’t? Looks like the ankle was, well, a big pain.”

She grinned. “It was. Except for this stupid ankle, I had a great day. I got two offers on the house, and another couple that’s interested is supposed to let me know tomorrow. That means we could have a bidding war and get more than our asking price. And that is a good thing.”

Justin couldn’t help laughing. He held up his hand for a high-five. “Very nice.” He loved her triumph-over-adversity attitude.

“Hey, food’s in the fridge. Easy to heat up whenever you’re ready.”

“Oh, okay. Thanks.” She glanced toward the kitchen then met his eyes again. “Are you— Can you stay?”

He felt a pull deep inside as those questioning blue eyes leveled on him. Yeah, he wanted to stay.


And, yes, we want to read more! In case you would like to learn more about Darlene or buy her books, here are  her  social contacts and her buy links.

Buy links:

Thank you, Darlene, for allowing me to feature your latest book on My Writing Corner! Any questions or comments for Darlene?

Monday, November 1, 2021

A Writer's Reward

Don’t we all love to hear those stories about writers who always wanted to “retire and write” once they left their “day jobs?”  It is always refreshing to hear about someone who not only has done that, but who has proven to be successful at his longtime dream.  That is rewarding story behind today’s guest in My Writing Corner, Mark Edward Jones.

Mark retired in 2017 after thirty-three years working in higher education finance and wanted to start writing again. In February 2021, he signed a contract with the Wild Rose Press for a novel called
Peculiar Activities with a release date of October 6, 2021. This manuscript won first place in the mystery category of the 2019 Oklahoma Writers Federation annual contest and was a finalist in the 2020 Page Turner Awards contest.

His flash fiction piece called Alone in Warsaw was published in the Autumn 2019 edition of the U.K. Publication, Painted Words.

Mark also served as an editor and consultant for two other publications: The First Hundred Years by Carolyn Leonard; and Real Musings by Dr. Ed Cunliff. He grew up in Duncan, Oklahoma, attended the University of Oklahoma--earning bachelor's and master's degrees in political science and public administration.  He and his wife have three grown children, all married, but no grandkids yet. They will celebrate their fortieth anniversary in November 2021.

Mark, tell us about your road to publication.

I enjoyed writing when I was younger, and I wanted to try again after retirement in 2017. A portion of the manuscript for Peculiar Activities won first place in the mystery/suspense category of the 2019 Oklahoma Writers' Federation annual contest. The same manuscript was selected as a finalist in the 2019 Page Turner Awards in the U.K. Last winter, I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press to publish Peculiar Activities, which was released on October 6, 2021.

What do you enjoy about being an author?

An author’s independence is something I enjoy. These are your characters, your plots, and your stories—complete freedom. If the story is something you want to publish, though, sometimes your characters and plots will be changed by your beta readers’, editors’, and publisher’s input.

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

Time and consistency. There is plenty to do, even with retirement, and the days seem to pass as quickly when I worked. Sitting down consistently and carving out time each day has been the most challenging part of writing. For me, it has helped to treat it more formally as at least a part-time job rather than as a disorganized hobby.

How do you develop characters?

I have usually been the quiet one in any crowd, watching people for fun as much as anything. Some of the positive reviews I have received for Peculiar Activities relate to my characters and how much they are liked, well-developed, or people they would like to know. Most characters are a combination of personalities I have been around during my life, but none are intentionally modeled after one person in particular.

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

Peculiar Activities is my first published novel. I have always enjoyed detective and mystery shows on TV and in movies. My renewed desire to write drifted toward the same, and I took that route almost instinctively. My first thought concerned a young man just hired as a detective who gets thrown into investigating a new murder related to an old conspiracy.

How about a blurb?

Junior Detective Henry Ike Pierce is hired to reassess cold-case killings. On the third day of his new job, a dismembered body appears in a local park. The corpse's desecration is like slayings from over two decades ago, and Henry is assigned to his first investigation.  He must uncover the present-day killer while his boss pushes him to resolve crimes from the past. 

Henry seeks a killer within a community of rival ethnic groups, refugees from the 1990s Balkan wars. Rumors point to a killer called 'the hooded one.' 

As his investigation unfolds, the young man from western Virginia's coal country discovers that 'trust' has a flexible definition.

Let’s get more! How about an excerpt:

Eddie Stone pointed to our left. “There. This whole section.” He kicked away the dead foliage, and a flat headstone surfaced with the name of UNKNOWN and the death date of JULY 1987. “This used to be where we buried unclaimed bodies after two weeks. These days it doesn’t happen much with all the DNA crap.”

He stepped toward the fence, then cleared off another area. Five gray markers appeared, all said UNKNOWN and JANUARY 1995. “These are the five homicide victims Director Marconi told you about.”

Those deaths came into focus like a cold slap. “Why couldn’t you identify them?” I asked.

“No heads, hands, or feet.”

“Excuse me?”

“Whoever did this kept the skulls, hands, and feet. With no teeth and no fingerprints, we had nothing else sophisticated enough to help us.”

“No guesses even? A missing person’s report?”

“Nope. We found a connection, though.”

“To what?”

“To each other, it seemed. The victims were male, all wore brown leather jackets, and the damnedest thing—a piece of Orehnjaca was stuck in the breast pocket of each victim.”

“Oren Jaka? I’ve never heard that word.”

He grinned. “I hadn’t either. It’s a Serbian bread dessert. A nut roll or something.”

“These murders sound more like mob hits.”

“Bingo. We’ve thought similarly over the years but couldn’t connect it to local gangs.” A blast of north wind shuffled the leaves, covering the headstones again. “I don’t think it’s only a local issue, and neither does the director.”

Excerpt From

Peculiar Activities

Mark Edward Jones

This material may be protected by copyright.

What’s your next project?

A manuscript, preliminarily entitled Shadowed Souls, has been submitted to the same publisher for review and consideration for a contract. It is book two of the Henry Ike Pierce detective series and continues the story from book one, Peculiar Activities. I am also taking part in a group project, a Friday the 13th collection of novellas from thirteen authors. Each novella will comprise a story with thirteen chapters and thirteen thousand words. The release date is May 13, 2022, a friday.

Let's hope they bring you good luck! Both sound very interesting. Here are Mark’s contacts and buy links to find out more about his work:

Social Media:

  Facebook – mejbooksllc

  Twitter - @mejbooksllc

  Instagram – markjones_author

  Goodreads – Mark Edward Jones

Buy Links:

Amazon –  Jones/e/B08PW43DZ1?ref=nav_ya_signin&qid=1621518619&sr=8-1&

Barnes & Noble –

Apple –

Google –

Wild Rose Press –

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

Gingerbread Season

  The sweet holiday season is coming into full swing, and this week we are offering yet another sweet cookie treat for readers. My guest tod...