Monday, July 26, 2021

Bringing Characters to Life by Margot Johnson #romance #MuseMonday


Please welcome Margot Johnson to Muse Monday on Discover... Love is always a favorite topic of Muse Monday. Tell us more, Margot.

In Love Leads the Way, the story and characters are fiction but draw on some of my experiences at work and at home. I’d love to have lunch with Tessa and compare notes on strong leaders, single parenting, family quirks, and cute golden retrievers. One key difference is I didn’t meet my handsome husband at work! 

I formerly worked for a major company like Tessa and delivered programs to help people dig deep and improve their leadership skills. I can relate to Mark, too because I tend to be a private person who doesn’t open up easily. 

Tessa and Mark both support a mother with dementia which brings some tough but also light moments. My dad died of complications from Alzheimer’s, so that part of the book is close to my heart. 

My old dog, Sophie, is the inspiration for the dogs in my books.

I find characters take on lives of their own and influence the direction of the story. I love it when a character surprises me.

Love Leads the Way

She coaches him in team leadership…but do they both need lessons in love?

Single mom Tessa Shore runs a successful leadership program at work and supports a mother with dementia. She can handle any challenge in her jam-packed schedule as long as nothing spins out of control…especially her feelings.

Engineer Mark Delaney is an expert on pipelines at the same company, but his interpersonal skills need a makeover. Advancing to an executive job requires enrollment in a leadership course he doesn't think he needs.

When their professional and personal issues entangle, life at the office gets a lot more complicated. Romance is impossible…or is it? 


Pacing around Crescent Park in moonlight trimmed with stars, Mark breathed fresh air and slowed his erratic heartbeats from the shock of Tessa’s invitation. Apparently, the woman who directed the class with the precision of an air-traffic controller could flex…at least, a little. She wanted to spend extra time with him, and he couldn’t refuse.

“I didn’t think we’d bump into other participants at this late hour.” She hugged tighter her windbreaker against the cool breeze. “We won’t mix business and pleasure. I’m strictly off duty, and so are you.”

“Okay, Tessa, whatever you say.” Zipping higher his jacket, he strode and sniffed moisture riding the wind. Guilt tiptoed around his collar, and he couldn’t escape the feeling this outing was a bad idea. He should avoid her, except in class, yet he accepted her invitation. But why did she break her own rule and contact him? 

Where to buy my books: 




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Margot Johnson Author  @AuthorMargot 

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About Margot Johnson

Margot Johnson grew up in a family of writers and has always loved books and writing.

She is the author of LOVE TAKES FLIGHT and her new release LOVE LEADS THE WAY. 

Before turning her focus to the fun writing life, Margot held leadership roles in human resources and communications. When not writing, she loves to connect with family and friends, volunteer with SK Writers Guild, and walk at least 10,000 steps a day (except when it's minus 40!) She lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada with her amazing husband and adorable golden retriever. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

A Journal and a Story by Susie Black #CozyMystery #AmateurSleuth


Please welcome brand new author, Susie Black. She's written a fun book, and below you can read her equally fun post! 

I learned many invaluable life lessons from my wise Nana, but the two that have been the foundation of how I live my life are that nothing turns out the way you think it will and that things happen for a reason, even if you don’t always understand why. The way my career turned out is proof-positive Nana was spot on: I had planned a career as a journalist, but life had other plans. Right after my college graduation, our family had an emergency while my apparel sales rep Dad was at a trade show in Atlanta. When no one from his companies could cover for him so he could attend to the emergency, dad asked me to help. Despite having absolutely no background or interest in his business, this was my dad, so of course, I said yes. After giving me a half-hour crash course in how to sell ladies’ apparel, dad left me alone to muddle through running the trade show. When he returned three days later he was taken aback at how many orders I’d written. To my utter astonishment, he offered me a job as a sub-rep. No one was more surprised than me when I passed on graduate school, accepted dad’s offer, and moved cross-country to Atlanta in less than a week. 

When I began my apparel industry career as a sales rep in the deep southern states, I was the ONLY
woman traveling a territory. I had to prove myself to everyone in the industry every day. Retailers, as well as manufacturers, doubted my ability to do the job or last more than a season.  I proved all the doubters wrong and broke every glass ceiling.

Like the protagonist in my Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, I am a ladies’ swimwear sales exec in the greater Los Angeles area. From the beginning of my career, I have kept a daily journal chronicling the interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people I have encountered as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of. My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write. 

As a female who has succeeded in a historically male-dominated industry, it was important to me to write about the apparel business from a woman’s point of view. All of my characters are based on real people, and the central characters are all strong, successful women who have beaten the odds. Holly Schlivnik, the main character in the Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, is based on me with some poetic license taken, of course. The plots and premises of my stories all take place in the fast-paced ladies' apparel industry. The premise behind the story in Death by Sample Size is what if a buying office big shot in the apparel industry was so universally disliked, that when she was murdered, there were so many potential suspects that it wasn’t a question of who wanted her dead, it was a question of who didn’t. 

Somewhere out in the great beyond, Nana is smiling. She was right; things rarely turn out the way you think they will but they do happen for a reason. I got into the rag biz because I was destined to write about it.


Everyone wanted her dead…but who actually killed her? The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank's corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly's colleague is arrested for Bunny's murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily murderer hellbent for revenge.




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Susie Black biography

Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.

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Instagram: Susie Black (@hollyswimsuit) • Instagram photos and videos




Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Christmas in July #sale


Calling all holiday-themed readers! It’s more than evergreens and twinkly lights at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s fifth annual Christmas in July Fête. 44 Christmas, Hanukkah and holiday-themed books featured plus a chance to win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card. 

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, The Power of Love and Murder, is featured today, July 20. Wait until you read what I love most about the holidays and why The Power of Love and Murder is a perfect holiday read. You won’t want to miss it. 

Find my book here in the event:

Bookmark this event and tell your friends:

This is the Rafflecopter Direct Link: 

Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US account to win. 

Runs July 1 – 31 

Drawing will be held on August 2.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Fun with Weddings and Murder by Vicki Batman #WickedWednesday #RomCom


Murder and marriage, you can't have one without the other? How wickedly fun is that? Let's hear a bit about it from my guest, Vicki Bateman.

Hi, Brenda, and thank you so much for hosting me today.

In Temporarily Out of Luck, our intrepid Hattie Cooks’s, sister, Tracy Cooks, is marrying for the second time. As is Tracey’s ex-Jonson Leggett. He’s pretty despicable. A serial philanderer, always out of money, and has a terrible temper. On his third time on the marriage-go-round, he is engaged to Barbie Fenster former Miss Sommerville Auto Parts.

Hattie, her friends, and family—especially their mother- can’t stand Jonson. When Tracey’s divorce is final, the girls celebrate by burning a pinata which resembles him and drink a lot of margaritas. 

The label Horrible-Nasty-Awful-Dreaded-Appalling-Terrible-Bad-Vile-Disgusting-Marriage-Material should have been stapled to Jonson Leggett the Third’s forehead. I more than detested him and with good reason.

Honestly, couldn’t someone do away with him? Raise a little dough. Call in the Russian Mafia. Finito.

Here’s a bit of an exchange between Hattie and Jonson when he shows up with Barbie at the wedding salon Hattie works at:

“How exciting for you, planning—what? Your third or fourth trip down the aisle?” I pressed a finger to my jaw. “No, no, no. I had it right the first time—your third visit to the altar—that I know of. My, my, my. This will be your third marriage, not your second, not your fourth. Your third. I bet Ms. Fenster believes she’s a lucky gal. Wouldn’t she love to hear war stories about your prior nuptials?”

I scrubbed my palms in a deliciously wicked way and, for a fun effect, swiveled toward Miss A. and his fiancée.

“Stay. Away. From Barbie. Bitch.”

I spun about. Bitch—me? I squinched my eyes and glared. Jonson hadn’t seen anything—yet. Like most women, I could channel my inner bitchiness if I wanted, and, oh, how I wanted to. I rubbed his skin raw, but I always had. We never-never, ever-ever liked each other. From our first meeting, something intuitively inside me recognized how he embodied a snake oil salesman. Totally untrustworthy.

He knew I knew. I knew he knew I knew.

And this scene is positively icky:

Jonson pushed in front of Barbie. “I’m here first.”

Creep. He didn’t even utter an “excuse me” or “please” or anything nice.

“Sir, you…” Tracey turned to face Jonson. In a flash, recognition fanned over her face. Her eyes bugged. “Y-Y-You!” Her spittle flew, landing on Jonson and Barbie’s shoulder.

I extended a tissue box toward them.

If Jonson could have murdered my sister right then, he would have. Every facial feature of his morphed into an ugly shade of reddish-purple. His pupils darkened in a more beady and dangerous way. He bared his teeth like a snarling wolf.

“Back. Off. Tracey. We’re first,” he said.

Barbie plucked a tissue and crumpled it against her mouth. She stared at Jonson and stared and stared.

Had Barbie not seen this side of her fiancé before, the monstrous scary one my family and I knew of?

Temporarily Out of Luck: Great job. What man? And murder. Newly employed at Wedding Wonderland, Hattie Cooks is learning the industry from a woman she greatly admires. When her former brother-in-law is found dead in his luxury SUV, all fingers point to Hattie’s sister, who is planning her own I Dos.

Detective Allan Wellborn is caught between a rock and a hard place—Hattie’s family and investigating the murder of a well-connected Sommerville resident, the same loser who was once married to Hattie’s sister. Determining who’s the bad guy—or gal—isn’t going to be easy and sure to piss off someone.

Can Hattie beat the clock to find out who murdered Tracey’s ex before she is charged with the crime and her wedding is ruined?

Funny, sweet, and quirky, Vicki Batman’s stories are full of her hallmark humor, romance, and will delight all readers. She has sold many award-winning and bestselling romantic comedy works to magazines and most recently, three humorous romantic mysteries. An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Cat fancier. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby.





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Monday, July 5, 2021

Monsters in the Old West by Marilyn Barr #paranormal #western


Authors march to a different beat. When your muse calls, you have to follow. Marilyn had one of those callings so we're in for a fun post. Read on...

               A paranormal western? Is there such a thing?” This was echoed by my critique partners when I floated the idea past them of a homesteader who accidentally married a monster. I love paranormal romances where the “monstrous person” has a heart of gold and finds love in the end. I wanted to bring this concept to Wylder Wyoming Territory, but first I needed an American monster who terrorized the Wild West around 1878.

            My initial findings were filled with monsters in Native American mythology. I was disappointed that the cannibal dwarves were extinct by 1878 but filed them away for another terrifying romance in the future. From the spider who created the earth (Chebbeniathan) to the sea monster who befriends warriors (Hiincabiit), there were many masculine monsters. With the focus on the rugged cowboys in other western romances, I wanted to refine my initial idea to a terrifying female monster.

            Stumbling my way through the history of Wyoming, I found that the territory was inhabited by many species of giant bears that are now extinct. As towns sprung up along the east-west railway line, these bears grew in reputation. The original Ephraim legend (as far as I could trace) comes from an 1811 pamphlet detailing the banishment of a man to the mountains from his town. The fur trader was a swindler, a thief, and subsequently forced to winter in the mountains. When he was found by hunters the following spring, he was more bear than man. It was said he “shifted (changed) into an Ephraim”.

What if one of these mountain men had a feral family with feral children? What if one of these children got separated from the group and had to fend for him/herself? An Ephraim child wouldn’t have the option of the foster system in the wild west. Roaming the wilderness would nurture them into a feral adult, right?

These questions became the backstory for Olive Muegge in my upcoming release “Dance to a Wylder Beat”. She relocates to the civilized town of Wylder (1878 Wyoming Territory) at the request of a cryptic telegraph ad. When Olive arrives, Nartan wonders if his request was misinterpreted or if spirit guides have decided to mess with him…again.  Will Olive destroy Nartan’s life like a true Ephraim or find a place in the Wylder community as part of his family? 

Here’s a snippet from Dance to a Wylder Beat where you can decide how much trouble one woman can stir up in a small town:

A noise has me whirling toward the station. My stagecoach is carrying on to the next stop. Blasted driver doesn’t even tip his hat in my direction as it passes…still containing my shoes. Sorrell Horse used a whole week’s rations outfitting me like a lady and paying my way. I have already let him down by starting a ruckus and losing my shoes. I need to try something extra to make Nartan happy, perhaps I’ll try keeping my trap shut.

When I turn back, the men are wrestling in a cloud of dust. Dead Eyes’ friends hoot like owls while a small crowd gathers around the scene. Being half-drunk, Dead Eyes is two steps slower than Nartan, who is landing punches on both sides. When Dead Eyes slams his gun on the ground in surrender, the dust settles, and I can study my future husband.

Nartan’s muscular body straddles the smaller man while his broad chest billows. His hat has blown off in the scuffle, revealing two thick black braids adorned with feathers. Tendrils of raven-black hair wave around his head. “Quiet wife for a quiet life” my bloomin’ butt. This man is a sweet lick of passion wrapped in a delicious exterior. I think I’m gonna like being Mrs. Sagebrush just fine. I can handle an odd stick as long as he has the countenance of Nartan because I’m not as normal as I appear myself. 

Dance to a Wylder Beat is on pre-order until its release on 7/21/2021. Reserve your copy for $0.99 on
Amazon ( or iTunes ( 

About the Author:

Marilyn Barr currently resides in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband, son, and rescue cats. She has a diverse background containing experiences as a child prodigy turned medical school reject, published microbiologist, special education/inclusion science teacher, homeschool mother of a savant, certified spiritual & energy healer, and advocate for the autistic community. This puts her in the position to bring tales containing heroes who are regular people with different ability levels and body types, in a light where they are powerful, lovable, and appreciated. 

When engaging with the real world, she is collecting characters, empty coffee cups, and unused homeschool curricula. She is a sucker (haha) for cheesy horror movies, Italian food, punk music, black cats, bad puns, and all things witchy.





Amazon author profile





Wednesday, June 30, 2021

High Vices by Kelly Hopkins #reviews #NewRelease

Antoinette would like to go to the prom, but first she has to kill her mob boss father…if he doesn’t get to her first.

I want to introduce you to an exciting NEW RELEASE. Kelly Hopkins's latest novel will officially hit the world on July 5, but you can pre-order this exciting new book right now. High Vices is published by Champagne Book Group. I'm so proud to be part of this project. Kelly has a unique voice. High Vices is crammed with suspense and great characters.

A few words from Kelly:

There are very few times in my life when I have actually burst into tears. Finding the email from my editor that told me High Vices has been acquired was one of those times. Although not my first book to be published, High Vices is the first book I wrote when I decided to get serious about being an author. I’ve shed countless layers of my soul into these characters through dozens of revisions. It is the book of my heart; the one I will always love the most. I hope you enjoy Antoinette’s story.

Here's a tease for you.

Antoinette Lombardi is not your average daddy’s girl.

She didn’t ask to be the daughter of one of the most feared cartel kingpins in the world, and she sure didn’t ask to be recruited to take her father down. But when the cartel finds Antoinette and her mother hiding in witness protection, her mother agrees to become the government’s bait to protect her daughter, leaving Antoinette in the care of agents who despise her family line.

Given a new identity at a super-secret boarding school, Antoinette is introduced to the other teens in a diverse posse, all of whom have lost parts of their lives to the murderous cartel. Together, this cast of criminal teens will infiltrate the cartel’s ranks at its most vulnerable levels and secure the revenge they seek—if they don’t kill each other first.


The lump of terror in my windpipe refuses to dislodge as I take Jo Flynn’s warm hand in my frozen fingers for a business-like squeeze. Whatever her reason for bringing us to the bunker, if she’s here to talk to me, the news must not be good.

She releases my hand and leans back in her chair. Her finger taps on the cover of my file. “You’re fortunate to be alive. I heard what happened. You both could have been taken or killed on the spot.” Flynn opens the file offering a glimpse of the paperwork inside and my mother’s picture stapled to the jacket. “But I suspect they wanted to kidnap you. Your mother made a lot of people upset back in Italy. The Lombardis take pleasure in getting even. Slowly.”

A horrified shudder blows through me like a frigid gust of January on the Fourth of July. “So, what are we going to do? Where do we hide now?”

With a half-smirk, she asks, “We? Antoinette Lombardi, heir to the Lombardi throne, is siding with the cops?” She shakes her head as if this news amazes her. “The only way to keep you both safe is to separate you.”

I bolt from of my seat, my palms planted on the tabletop. “What? No!” Leave my mother? The stress would kill her.

“Your mother’s condition remains out of control. She needs consistent medical attention to treat her diabetes. We require her assistance to track your father—she can’t do either if she’s always on the run. Besides, you have to finish high school.”

“School? You think a diploma matters to me? After today?” Incredulous, I glare at her.

“Sit.” She gestures to my seat. I hold my ground and count to twenty before complying.

Her lips tighten, and she flexes her fingers before continuing. “You’re both so strong which is why you’ve made it this far. Today was too close—we can’t take a chance again. You need to learn how to protect yourself.”

I can protect myself. So can my mother. Somehow, I don’t believe this cop would agree with me. The reality of my situation sinks in. They’re dividing us. Taking my mother away from me to keep us protected. “Where are you taking her?”

Flynn crosses her arms over her bright white blouse. Furrows appear in her forehead when she frowns. “I can’t tell you. If you have any idea where she is, you can be compromised. The same goes for your mother. Once a month, until we get Lombardi, you’ll receive a clean, untraceable phone. You can talk for fifteen minutes under supervision. After, both phones will be destroyed.”

I stare, willing myself to wake up from the nightmare. That’s what it has to be. A dreadful fever dream. “This is crazy.”

Kelly Ann Hopkins fell in love with mysteries as a teen and still can’t resist a good “whodunnit”. She spends her days as a high school librarian and creative writing teacher where she challenges her students to read with abandon. When Kelly isn’t creating perilous adventures for her characters, she is dreaming of her next trip to the Florida Gulf Coast. Kelly lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, Auggie the dog, and too many books. 

Kelly’s loves to connect with her readers. Find her at: 





A Cast of Wicked by Hunter J. Skye #WickedWednesday #vampires


I love character driven fiction. In my own books, the characters come to me long before their stories. This cast of characters from Hunter is enough to make your skin crawl. I think that's her point. Tell us about them, Hunter.

If you can’t rely on haughty, eurotrash, exhibitionist vampires to bring the wicked, who can you rely on? In this newest installment of The Hell Gate Series, our heroine - narcoleptic celebrity ghost hunter, Melisande Blythe, is the forced guest of some slightly unhinged immortals and there’s lots to dislike about this raucous crew. For this Wicked Wednesday, allow me to introduce the Vampires of Cathar:

Mephos the Innocent is a handsome, dark-haired, copper-eyed young man still lanky and raw-boned from his last growth spurt centuries ago. It’s easy to mistake him for a nineteen-year-old party guy burning through his inheritance on the beaches of the Mediterranean. In fact, he is the owner and operator of a collection of very exclusive spas in Andorra. Europe’s rich and beautiful flock to the secluded mountain spas for the medicinal waters of the springs, but there’s more in the waters than just curative properties. A nearby hell gate is tainting the springs with dark magic and the vampires are cashing in.

Celene, at first glance, is Mephos’s arm candy. With long midnight red hair and tantalizing curves, she wields her ability to enthrall like a billy club. Only dangerous when she’s let off her leash, look for a startling revelation about Celene towards the end of the book, and prepare yourself for her voracious sexual appetite.

Bertrand brings the class to this horrid little ensemble in his over-sized, manly way, but his hammered features and numerous scars suggest a not so polite past. As a former crusader and Knight Templar, Bertrand is haunted by his deeds, and abandoned by a church that drove him to the brink of madness. Even if time hasn’t healed all his wounds, they are cauterized, field-dressed, and mostly forgotten. Bertand’s long golden hair, faded blue eyes, and gladiator muscles turn heads most anywhere he goes.

Rasmus of Gomorrah was a priest not even God could kill. Caught at the edge of town by a biblical curse whist fleeing the famed city of Gomorrah, Rasmus’s inhuman regenerative abilities keep him from eternal rest as, every second, the will of God still tries to tear him apart. The resulting agony has left him insane. Couple that with his talent for scheming and manipulating and you have a desperately dangerous entity with planet-ending plans for God and man alike. 

If that’s still not enough wicked, add in rotting ghouls, cursed-dripping mummified thieves, and a sect of pain-loving heretics and you’ve got a proper love story. A Shiver of Shadows packs plenty of wickedness, but the touching romance between Melisande and three-hundred year-old corporeal ghost, Colonel William Grayford is the beating heart of this romantic tale of rescued love and new beginnings.


You'd think stopping Armageddon would buy a girl a bit of R&R with her freshly resurrected boyfriend. But things go south again when celebrity soul wrangler, Melisande Blythe, is abducted and dragged to Europe.

There's more to the darkness hiding in the reclusive, mountaintop country of Andorra than just garden variety evil. There's something dangerously wrong with her beautiful immortal hosts too.

Gifted with flesh again by the Grace of God, three-hundred-year-old former ghost, Colonel William Grayford, will move heaven and earth to find his beloved. But Europe's most wicked monsters stand in his way. Something more painful than death awaits Mel, if Grayford can't find her in time.

The world's been living on fifteen thousand years of borrowed time and it's just run out.

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Hunter J. Skye was born with a rare nightmare disorder, and was raised in a haunted Victorian home. Those two factors predestined her to write ghost stories. With a Bachelor of the Fine Arts, Hunter first went into museology, but her love of the written word drew her back to the keyboard. She now writes full time and paints part-time.

Hunter's debut novel, A Glimmer of Ghosts, won four RWA awards pre-publication. It is the first book in an urban fantasy/paranormal romance series set in coastal Virginia. Book two, A Shiver of Shadows, just released on May 24th 2021 from The Wild Rose Press. 
Book three, A Rapture of Wraiths, is expected to release in 2022. 

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