Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Towing the Line

As a mystery reader I am always searching for a new series to read, whether it's a hardboiled detective series or a cozy mystery. Then there are those series that fall into a totally different category -- like the new offering from author Karen Whalen. How about someone who loves high heels and drives a tow truck? Doesn't that grab your attention? I knew I would enjoy the book even from the title: Toes on the Dash.

Karen is my guest today in My Writing Corner. She is the author of two different mysteries series,
the Dinner Club Mysteries featuring Jane Marsh, an empty nester who hosts a gourmet dinner club, and the Tow Truck Mysteries starring Delaney Moran, a super feminine shoe-a-holic who drives a tow truck. Both are cozy mysteries about strong friendships and family ties set in Colorado. The first book in the Dinner Club series tied for First Place in the Suspense Novel category of the 2017 IDA Contest sponsored by Oklahoma Romance Writers of America.

Karen worked for many years as a paralegal at a law firm in Denver, Colorado and was a columnist and regular contributor to The National Paralegal Reporter magazine. She says she loves to host dinner clubs, entertain friends, ride bicycles, hike in the mountains, and read cozy murder mysteries. 

Tell us about your road to publication.

As many writers will tell you about themselves, I always wanted to be a writer. Mostly because I was a reader, often reading three books at the same time because no one told me not to do it that way. In high school, during the great career search many of us are pressured in to, I decided journalism was the best way to earn a living as a writer. I majored in journalism in college, but went on to get a paralegal degree. While pursuing my legal career I wrote a column and articles for several paralegal trade magazines. And kept reading, not three books at the same time, but often three or more a week. Then I landed on the cozy mystery, the genre I love, and I thought, I could write one of these. So I did. Seven cozies in the Dinner Club Series have been published and the first in the Tow Truck Series is coming out on April 25, 2022.

What do you enjoy about being an author?

There is so much to enjoy about being an author. I love crafting out a scene, reading it back to myself, and thinking dang, I wrote that. And spending time with other authors is inspiring, motivating, and just plain fun. Seeing your cover for the first time, opening that box of advance copies, and best of all, hearing from readers—that’s all a thrill, too.

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

My latest book is Toes on the Dash, which came out on April 25. It’s about super-feminine and confirmed shoe-a-holic Delaney Morran, who receives an unexpected inheritance—the keys to a tow truck—from a dad she’s never known. Despite the fact she hasn't changed a tire in all of her twenty-eight years, she decides to give the dangerous business a chance. When she finds her jerk of an ex-boyfriend’s body in the truck of the first car she hauls, she becomes the prime suspect. Delaney must toughen up her image as the tow truck operator in high-heels and find the killer in her otherwise safe mountain town.

So, where did I get the idea for a high-heeled tow truck driver? The law firm where I worked represented tow truck companies. These car haulers are an under-appreciated, crazy breed, with interesting stories to tell. That all of the tow truck drivers we represented were male made me think…females in the industry would need to be tough to compete in this man’s world. But what if a woman did own the business? What if the woman was young and inexperienced? What if she wore high heels to set herself apart? Oooh, sounds fun, amiright? And that's where the idea came from.

What are you working on now?

Although only the first and second in the series are scheduled to be released this year, I actually have five written and I’ve started book six. I’m enjoying the characters so much that I plan to keep writing about them, at least until the ideas stop flowing, which hasn’t happened yet.

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

Finding the time to write. Luckily, I was able to quit my day job when my first book came out. Other writers have to squeeze writing time in between their 9 to 5 jobs, which I had to do at the beginning, too. However, even though I call myself a “full-time” writer, there are so many distractions, such as marketing, book events, social media posting, etc., although I do love the interaction with readers. Then there’s family…I love to travel…and…just life happening. It can be a struggle at times to get away from it all and write.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Don’t give up. Keep at it. Even if you feel that your writing is not as polished as you want it to be. We all feel that way, especially at the beginning, but even seasoned writers think the same of their first drafts. Join writers groups, take writing classes, and write. A successful author I know wrote seven books before landing on the book that brought her success. She calls those first books her practice books. So, yeah, don’t give up. Keep at it.

Good advice! To learn more about Karen and her books, here are her buy links and her social contacts:

Buy Links




Barnes & Nobel:



Apple books:


Social Contacts





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

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

A Gem of A Story

Cozy mystery novels have been among my favorite genres even before I knew what genres were. A good cozy mystery is just the book to read as we look for books to take along on spring trips or as we make preparations for summer vacations. My guest today in My Writing Corner is Mariah Lynne who brings us a new cozy that sounds perfect for spring or summer reading called A Gem of A Murder.

Welcome, Mariah, please tell us a little about you and how you came to be a writer:

 I’m a Jersey girl born in Montclair, New Jersey. My father, an Italian immigrant from Naples, taught Latin and Classical Italian at a small local college before opening his own business, an independent print shop. My mother loved to help people and volunteered at our church and with charitable groups. She was a talented lace maker and loved to crochet and knit; her father, also from Italy, was a custom furrier and tailor for some of the most affluent residents of our community. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit any of those wonderful talents since I’m not fluent in a foreign language and am barely able to sew on a button but one thing I did inherit from my parents especially my father was the love of a good story. 

I’m a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in English education and reside on a beautiful Southwest Florida Gulf Coast island. My island lifestyle and scenery serve as the backdrop for all of my stories whether romance, time travel adventure, or cozy mystery. Before writing fiction, I owned and operated the first video store on the island like my character Mariah Linley and became very active in my national trade association meeting many movie stars and famous athletes. Although brief, these encounters made for some amazing memories. 

I love to write and to create memorable characters. Pets are my passion and I served on the board of directors for a county wide no-kill shelter. Because of this, all of my heroines have pets like Spike, Mariah’s German shepherd crossed with a teddy bear in “A Gem of a Murder.” When not writing, I still enjoy watching movies, travelling (even though we were stranded in beautiful Australia for eight days at the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, swimming, reading a good story, and spending time with my husband Jerry.   

That sounds like a good place to be stranded. Please tell us about your latest book, A Gem of a Murder:

A sleepy Florida Gulf Coast Beach town suddenly comes alive as two best friends, local merchant Mariah Linley and island psychic Moonbeam find themselves in the middle of some pretty strange business after Mariah discovers their friend, Jocko, a beloved local sea captain, dead.

 As events begin to unfold, the two novice sleuths are drawn into a web of murder, deception, and drugs that stretches as far west as Mexico and as far south as the Keys.

Loaded with unique characters doing surprising things, A Gem of a Murder is a cozy mystery set in 1986 and laced with a little romance and the paranormal. With a backdrop of stunning locations, A Gem of a Murder will take you on a memorable vacation without ever leaving home!

So grab your sunscreen and park that imaginary lounge chair in the sand under some swaying palm trees, but all the while, watch your back. There’s a murderer on the loose!

Let's get an excerpt:

With that Johnson exits down the stairs. Mariah watches from the upstairs kitchen window as Johnson gets into his vehicle. She waves as he drives off. No sooner than Johnson pulls out of the parking lot then Jocko’s phone rings. Mariah runs to the kitchen and opens one of the cabinets. She knows where Jocko keeps a box of disposable gloves for cleaning, opens the box, and puts on a pair before counting to five to answer the phone.

She picks up the receiver but does not answer.

“Mariah, it’s Moonie, are you all right?”

“No. No, I’m not. Far from it. It’s Jocko. He’s dead.”

“Dead? Oh my… I’m so sorry, honey. That must have been his spirit who came to me during a reading. The spirit advised me it was urgent. He was desperate for me to find you.”

Mariah forgets about her grief for a few seconds, puzzled by Moonbeam’s last statement. “His spirit? Moonie cut the fluff. It’s me you’re talking to. You’ve never been visited by a spirit in your life, unless you count the island Christmas pageant where you volunteered to break tradition and portray Scrooge as a medium.”

“Mariah, I’m dead serious. Oops no pun intended. Something or someone passed through me in the middle of one of my readings. It possessed me. My mind left my body…”

“That’s not new,” Mariah laughs feeling a bit guilty she could laugh after such a tragedy.

“Let me finish. My mind left my body. I saw Jocko. He was standing in a massive haze of bright light. His hand reached out to me. As I pulled away from him, I started to come to but he pulled me back to him. In a serious voice he said, ‘These are evil people who harmed me. They are still out there. You must warn Mariah.’”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Mariah cries out.

“I tried several times but ran into busy signals, no answers, and more clients. I’m so very sorry. He was a good friend to both of us.” Moonbeam responds in a serious tone.

“So, then what happened?” Mariah asks.

“Jocko’s hand let go of mine. I woke up to see Mrs. Evans with her jaw open so wide she could swallow a balloon, but my problems didn’t end there. Before my next client could leave my reading room, a rich woman dressed in black barged her way in. With her arrival, I felt Jocko’s spirit pass through the room again. This time I clutched my Grandma Meteroa’s locket, the one with the “M” engraved on it. That “M” left a deep impression of a three on my palm after I released it.”

Moonbeam remains quiet hoping she didn’t upset Mariah any more than she already was.

“Moonie, an M sideways can be mistaken for a three.”

“Mariah, you don’t understand. That spiritual necklace was passed down to me by my grandmother who claimed it has strong powers. That alone must mean I have the Gift. I’m sure that ‘three’ was a message or maybe a clue from the Great Beyond.”

“Okay if believing that makes you happy but I’m sure there are rational explanations for both. What did that woman want from you anyway?” Mariah sounds curious.

“It was very strange. She asked three vague questions. I answered in the same vague manner. She was pleased by my answers and she left. Go figure.”

“Moonie, now I’m not sure what to do about all this. If it walks like a duck, the duck being murder and quacks like a duck, then I’m sure Jocko was murdered. If I accept your story, then…”

“What do you mean accept my story? If it wasn’t true, why would I try so hard to reach you?”

“I mean,” Mariah continues, “You have in your own special way corroborated my theory. It’s like pulling teeth to get Bill and Doc on board.”

“What can I do to help? Do you want me to come over? Or maybe talk to Doc or Bill?” Moonbeam sounds most eager to help her friend.

“No, they already left with Jocko’s body. I’m not supposed to be here. Just hang in there and don’t tell anyone about our conversation. It’ll be better, at least in the beginning, if no one knows we’re working together. I’ll call you as soon as I can.”

“Mariah, be careful. Remember feel the wind.” Moonbeam replies with a deep sigh.

The two friends hang up. Mariah knows she must work fast to find out anything at all before Deputy Johnson returns with the proper supplies to secure Jocko’s condo. She reaches into her purse and pulls out her all in one Swiss Army knife and mini tool kit from her purse.

Want to read more? You'll have to buy the book! To learn more about Mariah and her books, here are her buy links and social contacts.

Trade paperback or Ebook:

Read a few chapters FREE:


Author website and social media links:

Mariah Lynne Website


Twitter @MariahLynne1






Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard?ref=nav_profile_authordash

Thank you, Mariah, for being my guest this week. Any comments or questions for Mariah?

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Spring Into A Fresh Start

Spring has now arrived and don’t we as writers have a tendency to look back about now and see how closely we are following those January 1 resolutions about writing more or writing every day or getting so many pages written or edited? 

How are you doing?  

I know I make that sort of statement just about every year, and often I find myself making new resolutions to either start over or be more diligent. Writing can bring us
great joy, but it can also become a burden hanging around our necks. Often editing or deadlines can make it seem like more of a chore. However, if you want to write and get published, you just have to dig in and DO it. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers or paths to publication other than putting in the required work. 

One thing I learned from my many years as a news writer and newsroom manager, if you want to make a living from writing, you have to put your writing skills to work just about every day. As a television news writer and producer, I knew my stories were either going on the air at 5, 6 or 11, or all the hours of hard work were wasted. I couldn’t wait for divine inspiration. If I didn’t get them written and edited for the news program that went on at that time, those stories were not going to air--and all the hard work, research and rewriting to make the story “perfect” were all going to be wasted. Being successful as any type of writer means getting the story done to the best of your ability before the deadline or it doesn’t ever make it to the readers. You might as well be sitting alone in your room writing for yourself.  

The same goes for the editing process. You can’t sit and edit and re-edit until the story is absolutely perfect – well, you can, but who will care if it doesn’t get read because you’ve missed so many deadlines, your editor has moved on to the next writer and the next story. Even if you’re publishing on your own, will readers want to wait five years for that “perfect” next book to show up? 

How can you get past those fears or drawbacks or the evil little questions about your work?

If your goal is to get published, the simple answer is--just do it. Put your work out there, and that means getting the story written and edited and published. Yes, there will always be a sentence you wish you had written in another way. Even now I see myself editing my work as I read it in my latest  book, knowing others might also be reading it.  But are they thinking of how else it should be written? Probably not, unless they might be another writer.  Readers are going to read your work and accept it.  Now they might not all like it, but there is always that risk. Not all readers will enjoy your work. And that criticism can hurt. I still remember being characterized as a “half-baked” reporter for a story I wrote many years ago for my college daily newspaper. Isn’t that crazy, I’ve written dozens of news stories since then, numerous fiction books--even won awards--but I still remember that exact phrase someone used to describe my writing back when I was a beginning journalist. 

But criticism never stopped me, and that is what I think, when I read reviews now. Some people will enjoy my work, and that is great. They will be looking for my next book. Some people might not enjoy it, or might not buy another book, but that is all right too.  I write because I consider myself a writer. I can’t imagine another career for myself than putting words on paper or into the computer, knowing some people will react favorably while others might still see me as a “half-baked” writer. But I will never stop writing. Currently I am editing the second story in my “Dead Man” series,  Dead Man’s Treasure which will soon be available from The Wild Rose Press. I am enjoying working again with my characters. I like finding the right word or seeing those people again come alive on the written page. I enjoy causing problems for them and then letting those characters show their strengths and weaknesses as they move forward.   

 Being a writer means getting the stories written. Every year I start off promising myself that I will write more, and that promise keeps me moving. I never feel like I am doing enough, but the stories do get written and edited. When I re-evaluate in Spring (like now) I always find there is still more to be done. I am certain I will be starting more new projects and finishing old ones before the year is out. I will not stop because of critics or because I “don’t feel like writing today,” and that is half the battle.

As we “spring” forward toward summer this is a good time to make that re-commitment to our work and push on with that next story.  If you want to write, go for it and don’t worry about those “half-baked” critics! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

A Real Treasure

Wouldn't we all like to find a hidden gem buried somewhere? Sometimes you can find one at the bookstore, in the form of a wonderful new book to read and that is the topic of today's visit to My Writing Corner. My guest today is M. S, Spencer, and she introduces us to her new book.

anthropologist, Congressional aide, speechwriter—M. S. Spencer has traveled the globe. She has published fifteen 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.

Take it away, M. S. Please tell us about your newest release.

Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine, my new mystery romance, released yesterday! Thank you so much, Rebecca, for letting me tell your readers about it.

Barnaby and Philo’s story begins with very bad chili and a dead body.

Barnaby is in St. Augustine, Florida, to teach a college seminar, and plans to use The Secret—a treasure hunt book—as a framework for his class. He enlists Philo Brice, owner of an antique map store, to aid him in seeking clues in the historic sites of the ancient city.

Together they face murderers, thieves, thugs, and fanatics, heightening their already strong attraction to each other. Can they solve the puzzle and unearth the treasure before the villains do? Philo and Barnaby pursue several twisting paths and false leads before arriving at a startling conclusion.

Many of the buildings in St. Augustine date from the Gilded Age (1870 to 1900). Henry Flagler, who had made his money as a partner with Rockefeller in Standard Oil, wanted to develop the Atlantic coast of Florida for tourism. He built the Hotel Ponce de Leon—now Flagler College—and the Hotel Alcazar—today the City Hall and Lightner Museum. It once boasted the largest indoor swimming pool in the world, which is where the first body is found.

Let's get an excerpt:

“Good, good. Finished?” He clapped his hands and stood up. “That must be it. I think I’d really better make that phone call now.” He walked briskly away and rounded a corner. A minute later he returned. “Ready?”

    Philo decided that it was rather restful not to have to come up with clever dialogue, or even make a decision.     “Where to?”

    He checked his watch. Philo was amused to observe it was black plastic with a picture of Goofy on it. “I’ll take you home. Early day tomorrow.”

   “Oh? What do you have on?” She felt a brief, unaccustomed disappointment. I should be relieved.  At least there’s still time for a real supper.

    “Not me. Us. I’ve seen St. Augustine from the air and by train. Your shop is closed tomorrow. I propose we take a walking tour of your fair city, starting with the Castillo. I’ll meet you at the Bridge of Lions at eight thirty sharp.” He lifted one foot. “Wear comfortable shoes.”

    Well, I’ll be damned. She couldn’t think of anything in response, and they continued down the street to the central plaza.

    As they passed under the old wooden archway leading to Aviles Street and her apartment, sirens rent the air. Barnaby pointed down King Street toward Cordova Street. “They’re coming from there. Hurry.” He started to drag her down the sidewalk.

    She resisted. “What are you, some kind of ambulance chaser?”

    “No, no. What a funny thing to say. No. Don’t you hear them?”    

    “The sirens?”



    “So…I’m thinking they found the body.”

That excerpt leaves me wanting to read on.  To learn more about M. S. Spencer and buy her book, here are her buy links and social media links.

Buy Links



Barnes & Noble


Social media

Blog: https://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msspencermysteries

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-s-spencer

Thank you for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for M. S.?

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...