Monday, September 25, 2017

Juicy Setting for a Series #MFRWauthor #suspense


View of the town from a museum
Jerome, Arizona was a mining town that got rolling in the 1880s.

My next series is set in this picturesque town, a two hour drive from where I live. Although I normally hate research and put it off until I can't write another chapter without knowing more about the setting, I'm having a great time with this one.

The Jerome family, related to Winston Churchill’s mother, invested in the mines in the 1880s. The town grew because of the mining in the mountains, hanging precariously to the side of Cleopatra Hill in the Black Hills. By the 1920s, the population had reached 15,000.  It was truly the wild west and as colorful as a town can get. There were more prostitutes per capita than any other
1890 Hotel Connor on the left
city. The town was a melting pot of fortune seekers.

Nice bed and breakfast hotels have taken over old buildings
The stock market crashed in 1929, and by 1955 the population was less than 100. In the late 1960’s, people looking to escape the norm converged on the town. They squatted in abandoned buildings or bought run down properties for next to nothing. They came to be known as hippies, and they turned Jerome into a destination equal to Haight Ashbury and Taos.

Over the decades, there have been numerous fires, buildings sliding down the mountain, and political wrangling. Somehow the town hung on. Today, with a population of just under 500, a handful of the original hippies remain in a hard to get to area of the town. Many accounts of the town’s rebirth credit the free-spirited people who brought the town back to life and turned it into the
Great food and a great view from the patio
artsy community it is now while keeping the town in its original form.
The jail that slid down a street and kept operating
As a lover of western culture and a wannabe hippie (I toyed with the lifestyle a little), I’m having a high time (excuse the pun) researching Jerome.

New art gallery in old digs

Until I get the Jerome stories down on paper, I hope you’ll read my current series mostly set in north and north central Arizona. The first four books in the Love and Murder Series are available. Book five will launch early next year. Amazon Author Page

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Breakfast Date Supplied the Ideas for A Cold Death by Marilyn Meredith


Please welcome my guest, Marilyn Meredith, and don't forget to enter her contest!
Hubby and I have a weekly breakfast date with several people from our church and of course there is lots of conversation.
One of the couples related several tales about the time they worked as caretakers of a summer camp. During the winter they stayed on to do necessary repairs and maintenance. They related an incident during a huge snow storm when the owner of the camp decided to appear unannounced with several guests in tow.
The snow made it impossible for them to drive into the camp and the visitors trekked through the deep snow struggling with their belongings and food they’d brought with them to enjoy. Much got left behind.
They also described how high the snow drifted on the two story lodge and some of the difficulties they had to face.
It wasn’t long before I knew I had to use all this information in a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. At other breakfasts I asked our friends more questions about the storm and the camp itself. Some of the information I used, some I changed, and some didn’t work for the story that formed in my head and eventually on my computer. A Cold Death is the result.
It’s a bit lighter than some of the other Tempe Crabtree mysteries, and certainly colder, making it a good book to read on these hot summer days.
Thank you so much for letting me visit on your blog today, Brenda.
Blurb for A Cold Death:
Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her husband answer the call for help with unruly guests visiting a closed summer camp during a huge snow storm and are trapped there along with the others. One is a murderer.

Marilyn Meredith’s published book count is nearing 40. She is one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter of Sister in Crime. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra, a place with many similarities to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area.

Blog: and you can follow her on Facebook. 


Once again I’m going to use the name of the person who comments on the most blogs on my tour for a character in the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery—which may be the last in the series.  

Tomorrow I’ll be here:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Writing Wicked Heroes by Zara West


It's a wicked day and we love bad boys. Welcome Zara to Discover yourself...

Do you think all romance heroes have to be good guys? I don’t. I like it when a bad, bad boy turns out to have a heart of gold under all that gritty, tough armor. But as I have learned writing a “bad” hero is really hard to do.

In my just released romantic suspense, Close to the Skin, the billionaire hero, Vernon Newell, is a murdering criminal who runs a huge criminal operation. Not only that, but he kidnaps the woman he loves, and when her brother comes to rescue her, injures him and leaves him penniless.

Needless to say, based on my Amazon reviews, many readers instantly dislike Vernon and fully agree with the heroine that no matter how much she loves him, he is somebody to stay far away from. But that was exactly what I wanted my readers to think at the start of the book.

But this is not the expected way to write a romance novel. As a writer, my challenge was to come up with a way to save this man and make him worthy of the heroine’s love.

In order to do this, I decided that Vernon has to be put through the proverbial writer’s wringer until he has nothing left to give. So that is what I do. Among other things, Vernon’s family betrays him, innocent people are killed, he is tortured near to death. In the end has to give up everything.

But through it all one thing remains constant. His love for Bella. But what woman in her right mind wants a penniless ex-crook? Read Close to the Skin to find out.

Four tips on crafting wicked heroes

1. Give him at least one good characteristic.

2. For every bad thing he has done, make sure he pays retribution.

3. Match him up with a strong woman with the power to make him change.

4. Make sure that when he changes, the event is earthshattering for him, and the people who know him.

Let me know. Do you like romances in which the hero has to give up everything to win the woman he loves?

Never back down, never turn your back, and never fall in love. Head of a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise, Vernon Newell doesn’t let family ties or misplaced sympathy get in his way. But there is one chink in his armor—Sirena Patras, the beautiful young Greek girl he seduced and deserted eight years ago. 

When Vernon discovers that Bella Bell, a prospering tattoo artist in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is actually Sirena, he sets out to woo and to win her. Despite her attraction to the fabulously sexy man, Bella wants nothing to do with a hard-headed, ruthless criminal.  

But when threatening messages start arriving, and Vernon disappears, Bella must choose to abandon the man she loves or risk her life to save him. 

The man was dead.

Her brother had killed him in front of her eyes.

Or had it all been a lie?

If anyone knew what was going on it would be Vernon. She moved back into the living room and peered out the window. The sky was still dark. The street light still burned. Dare she call him? He’d think she’d capitulated. Wanted him.

She dropped the curtain and straightened her shoulders. She wanted him all right. She wanted answers. She wanted to know why dead men were calling her and threatening notes appeared in her mail.

Hands shaking, she punched in Vernon’s cell number. It rang once. Twice. She imagined him holding her, kissing her. His low, rumbling voice whispering in her ear. No, she couldn’t talk to him. Not yet. She was still addicted to the man.

She tapped the phone off and curled back up on the sofa. Tomorrow. Tomorrow, she’d send him an e-mail—a nicely worded formal request.

At that moment, the phone in her hand rang. Vernon returning her call? She hesitated. Then flicked it on.

A low pitched voice spoke through heavy static. “Does Vernon know what you did?” A frisson of fear crept down her spine and burrowed deep into her core. She tossed the cell phone onto the floor and buried herself under the silk shawls, struggling to breathe.

Forget all the reasons why Vernon was the wrong man for her. She needed him. She needed him now.


Zara West loves all things dark, scary, and heart-stopping as long as they lead to true love. Born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Zara spends winters in New York where the streets hum with life, summers in Maritimes where the sea can be cruel, and the rest of the year anywhere inspiration for tales of suspense, mystery, and romance are plentiful.  
Swept off her feet by her own Indiana Jones, Zara has followed sheep and goats up and down mountainsides in Greece, Crete, and Italy, been stranded on the banks of the Rhine with no money and one chocolate bar, and while she has never been kidnapped, she has been abandoned on an island in the middle of t wilderness for longer than she wants to remember. 
A member of RWA, Zara is a published author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies, and have received awards from Women on Writing, Stone Thread Publishing, Tryst Literary Magazine, and Winning Writers. Her novels have placed first in the Pages from the Heart and Romance Through the Ages contests, second in the Touch of Love contest, third in the Emma Merritt, 5th in the Fab5, and long-listed for the Mslexia Award.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Brewing and Stewing with Voices in My Head


Today, I'm all over the place with my musing. Inspiration struck me last week, and I'm anxious to get going on my next book...but...I need to decide on the time period.

My sister is taking me for two days in Jerome, Arizona. Jerome is a ghost town turned artsy mecca that clings to the side of Cleopatra Hill in the Mingus Mountains. In the 1920s 10,000 people populated the area, but when the ore dried up the town was abandoned. By the 50s, the town had shrunk to about 100. Slowly, a mix of artists and wanderers settled there and by 1967 it was being settled by people known as hippies. To this day, an eclectic mix of residents, still artsy and free-thinking, have made their homes there. The population hangs just under 500 and is a tourist stop.

Shortcut between streets
My initial thought was for a romantic suspense with a dash of mystical set in the 1970s. Keep in mind, I'm not writing about
the 70s, but the story I envision would be suited for a less techy time period and people who reside slightly outside of conventional norms. I want to plunk my characters down in Jerome. The city will make a great backdrop for the stories.

So...before I begin, I have to know if the time period will work. I've gotten all kinds of mixed opinions on this. Some tell me, the 70s are a dead end for interest. Some tell me, my genre concept is exciting and would fit perfectly. Some tell me, they don't pay attention to the time period as long as they like the story. Some tell me, they wouldn't bother if it's set in the 70s.

I'm excited about the stories brewing in my head, but my muse tells me to hold up until I know what
Old mining aparatus
era before I take the get-it-on-paper plunge.

I'd love to hear you opinion.

Meanwhile, I'll keep stewing on the idea.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Wild, Wooly, and Hot

TRIPPIN' THURSDAY (sorry, fell on Friday)

A few years back, we retired from the day jobs. You followed our farm experiment on Tortuga Thursdays for three years, but we sold the farm. We traded in the little RV for a bigger one, but we aren’t ready to hit the road fulltime. What comes next? We’re not sure. It's all about transition these days. These are...

The In-Between Years

Are you someone who rises with the sun, whose energy is at it's peak before others put their foot out of bed? I love the morning hours. Here in Arizona, once the sun is halfway between the mountains and straight up, the heat
Horses looking for a treat
blankets the Ranch. Creatures in the basin know this, too.

I walk early morning with my friend Cindy. I'd walk with FDW, but he's on a different clock than I am. By the time he slides out of bed, I've not only walked but written a chapter and had 3 cups of coffee. He prefers the night. Of course, there are lots of night creatures in the basin...owls and coyotes among them...but it's not advisable to
Vulture posing
walk after dark. So, he walks when it's hot. If you haven't heard, I loathe heat.

Early morning is cool and fresh. The sunrise is usually spectacular. There are always bunnies
Cotton tail

skittering through the bushes. This guy spends his time on the Ranch and isn't too fearful of humans. Vultures hang out high overhead.
Makes me a little afraid for the bunny rabbits, but we do have an abundance. There are horses and cows on either side of the RV Ranch. The horses are friendly. The cows refuse to come too close.

Wooly tarantulas are a treat to see. I know we have plenty of
Tarantula by my door
them here, but they aren't roaming around in the open too often. They're good spiders, and not harmful to humans. They still creep me out.

Javelina wander through the park, regularly eating from flower pots. They're up earlier than I am so I've yet to get a really good
Can you see javelin?
picture. I don't care to run into wild pigs anyway. They're unpredictable.

I saw a bobcat yesterday morning. He was no more than a blur as he darted across our
Standoffish cows
path several yards in front of us. That was close enough!

Monday, September 4, 2017

In the Moment by Jennifer Wilck


Please welcome my guest, Jennifer Wilck.

Three days ago, my latest book, In the Moment, was released by The Wild Rose Press. This book is special to me, because it was inspired by a beautiful house I toured a town over from me. I love touring old houses. I love the architecture, the lifestyle and thinking about the people who lived there. When I saw that a Victorian mansion was for sale, and that there was an open house, my girls and I jumped at the chance to see it. We wandered through every floor except for the basement, a converted wine cellar that was blocked off because apparently a deer had gotten inside through the outside entrance—wonder if she preferred white or red? The main floor had gorgeous moldings, wainscoting, fireplaces, floors and stained glass windows. The kitchen and powder room had been modernized and our jaws dropped as we wandered from room to room. The two upper floors were bedrooms. While the second floor had also been renovated—while keeping the charm and look of the time period—the third floor had not, and you could see the original wood planked floors in the servants’ quarters. It was a fascinating history lesson. 

Since I didn’t have a spare couple of million dollars lying around to purchase and continue the updates, I decided to write about the house instead. It is now the main setting of In the Moment and I enjoyed revisiting the house through pictures as I wrote. I worked really hard on the cover with the cover artist—I wanted to convey the tone of the book and include the house—I think she did a great job! 

Here’s the blurb: 

Cassie Edwards, a former foster child, purchases an 1870s Victorian mansion, the one home from her childhood where she felt like part of a family. She’s spending her summer lovingly restoring it, with dreams of one day raising a family of her own here. Rayne Tucket, a photojournalist, is haunted by the death of his best friend in Afghanistan, a death he thinks is his fault. He survives day to day. Forever is not in his vocabulary. Swearing off photography, he answers an ad for a handyman—mindless, no emotion involved. As the two of them renovate her house, can Cassie show Rayne that love is strong enough to heal all wounds? 

And here’s an excerpt: 

“Cassie?” He let go of her hand.

His voice startled her. She turned to him. If she hadn’t witnessed his reaction to the storm, she’d never know it now. Well, maybe she would. There were fine lines between his brows and shadows beneath his eyes. But otherwise, he looked no different than usual. They sat next to each other, legs touching.

“Stop talking.”

He took her face between his hands. They were rough and calloused against her skin. He ran his fingers over her cheeks and pushed her hair behind her ears. She stared into his eyes. In the dark of the porch, she couldn’t see their color, only their glimmer as he traced her jawline. The heat from his body warmed her; the pressure of his fingers anchored her to this spot, with him, right now. They were close enough for his breath to feather on her cheek. Each inhalation and exhalation sent shivers down her spine. For the first time, she remembered she wore a threadbare T-shirt beneath her cotton robe.

His thumbs brushed her lips, and she opened her mouth. His nose bumped hers. He bent to kiss her. Their lips touched. She sighed as he dragged them back and forth across her mouth.

Interested? Here are the buy links: