Friday, September 28, 2018

Reading and #Reviews (Murphy, Walls, Patterson)

I'm a writer, but I'm also a reader. Each month, I'll share with you what I'm reading and some reviews. My available time to read is limited because I write, but I love to curl up with a book or a reader at night for the last hour of my waking day.

I tend to read what I write, which is Romantic Suspense, but not exclusively. My current read is a Romance by Alison Henderson entitled Como Bluff. I'm not quite finished so you'll have to wait until next month for the review. But I also like detective thrillers, WWII historicals, mysteries, and some main stream character driven novels.

Here are some of the books I've read recently. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author!

Goodbye Emily by Michael Murphy
They met at Woodstock, and the love lasted a lifetime. Then she was gone, and so was his college teaching job. Heartbroken but determined, he calls on his two best friends to help him return to the place it all began. Three baby boomers relive their 1969 trip to Woodstock. One final roadtrip. One last chance to say Goodbye Emily.

What an absolutely enjoyable book. Michael Murphy did an excellent job of portraying the 60's while grounding us in the present with characters who "were there". The 60's are hard times to write about without sounding trite or preachy. Mr. Murphy uses dream sequences to flash back from present day to the Woodstock Festival. He handled it beautifully. I've never read a book that had me crying and laughing for the whole book. Thank you, Michael, for a beautifully enjoyable read.

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
This is a story about the author’s grandmother. Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great
Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds -- against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn't fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit.

What a great true story novel. I found it particularly interesting as the book is set mostly near where I used to live in Paulden, Arizona. The fact it is based on true happenings made it so enthralling. Great characterizations. 

Judge and Jury by James Patterson
Andie DeGrasse, an aspiring actress and single mom, is not your typical juror. Hoping to get dismissed from the pool, she tells the judge that most of her legal knowledge comes from a bit part curling around the stripper's pole in The Sopranos. But she still ends up as juror number 11 in a landmark trial against a notorious mob boss.

I'm normally a Patterson fan, but this one left me kind of cold. I couldn't get behind the characters, and the suspense was mild. This is one of his collaborated books so that could be why it didn't seem to have the same level of entertainment.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Better to Marry Than to Burn by Michal Scott #MailOrderBride #BlackisBeautiful #Historical


So glad to welcome Michal Scott back to Discover... Her latest novella sounds so intriguing. A mail-order bride with spunk and opposites attract combine for a fun read. Her blurb has me hooked. Tell us where the idea came from, Michal.

Growing up I was a sucker for history. How people lived in ages past always intrigued me. Born in 1956, I grew up a child of the 60s Black is Beautiful movement. Nascent pride in being Black -- as we were calling ourselves then -- intensified my curiosity. I hungered for anything and everything that could teach me African American history. That’s why TV shows touching on the hidden stories of African Americans stick with me to this day. 

My most recent novella, Better To Marry Than To Burn, was inspired by a true story. In his Black Women of the Old West, William Loren Katz devoted a chapter to African-American married women in Arizona mining towns advertising back East to bring marriageable women West. They convinced the unmarried miners to settle down instead of fighting over prostitutes all the time. What a great set up for an opposites-attract second-chance romance.

This wasn’t my first encounter with the concept of mail-order brides, however. I used to watch a show called Here Come The Brides about three brothers who owned a logging company in Seattle. Bobby Sherman, a teen idol back then played Jeremy the youngest Bolt brother who stuttered and David Soul, later of Starsky and Hutch fame, played Joshua the middle brother. Its premise was the Bolt brothers had loggers who were tired of having no women in their lives and were ready to quit. The solution was to send oldest brother Jason, played by Robert Brown, back East to Massachusetts and return with single women looking for husbands. Many would be available and willing thanks to the lack of men created by the Civil War. I remembered the show had done excellent episodes on finding mates for Jewish and Chinese characters. Somewhere in the dusty recesses of my memory I knew they had done an episode trying to match African Americans, too. Was the memory real or had I made it up? Lo and behold, Google showed my memory was still good. 

A Bride for Obie Brown had aired in 1970. I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover it was Georg Stanford Brown who played Obie and Cicely Tyson who played Lucenda, both now well-known, even if this old TV episode is not. Just as episodes on TV sent me searching for more hidden histories, I hope my novella will do the same for today’s readers, especially those histories – fact and fiction  – dealing with romance. 

Book Blurb:

Freed Man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black township of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.
Caesar King's ad for a mail-order bride is an answer to Queen Esther Payne’s prayer. Her family expects her to adhere to society's traditional conventions of submissive wife and mother, but Queen refuses. She is not the weaker sex and will not allow herself to be used, abused or turned into a baby-making machine under the sanctity of matrimony. Grateful that love is neither required nor sought, she accepts the ex-slave's offer and heads West for marriage on her terms. Her education and breeding will see to that. However, once she meets Caesar, his unexpected allure and intriguing wit makes it hard to keep love at bay. How can she hope to remain her own woman when victory may be synonymous with surrender? 

She pulled the wagon to a stop. “Care to take over?”
She held the reins before him. He nodded. She handed over the reins, crossed her arms and stared at him. “Tell me more about Emma.”

He shrugged. That kind of detail hadn’t been part of the bargain, but...

“Not much to tell. She used to teach us slaves in secret, then openly when Union forces secured our town. I was her star pupil. We married and came West for a fresh start. She died giving birth to twin boys soon after we arrived. They followed her within a few hours.”
A soft light shone at him from her eyes. “Sorry for your loss.”
“None needed. Good comes from bad. Death, not slavery, took my boys from me. They never had to live as someone’s property.” He sat a little straighter. “Our children will never have to worry about that.”
“Our children?” She swiveled in her seat. “You made no mention of wanting children, just marital relations as necessary. I understood that to mean intercourse.”
“I wrote I wanted to leave a legacy.”

“A legacy. Not a dynasty.”

“Legacy. Dynasty. Is there really so sharp a distinction?”

“To my mind there is. I understood you meant to affect future generations—endow schools, found churches, create civic associations. I didn’t realize that meant children. I agreed to having sex, not having children.”
“Of course I want children.” His brows grew heavy as he frowned. “Doesn’t having sex lead to having children?”

“Not with the right precautions.”

His frown deepened. “Precautions?”

“There are many ways to prevent your seed from taking root, Mr. King.”

“I want children, Mrs. King.”

Her lips twisted and her brow furrowed, but she kept her silence.

“All right,” she said. “You can have children with any woman you like. I won’t stop you. I free you from any claim to fidelity.”
“Legacy—or dynasty if you will—means legitimacy. No bastard will carry my name, not when I have a wife to bear me children.”
“I see.”

Her tone signaled she didn’t. 

Buy links:

Wild Rose Press -

Thursday, September 20, 2018

WIP Update #RomanticSuspense #series #writing

The view from the Ghostly Goulash

To refresh your memory, the setting for this new WIP (work in process) is based on a real-life mining town turned ghost town turned tourist town. I fell in love with Jerome, Arizona years ago. In order to have more flexibility with the lay of the land and the history, I've renamed it Joshua. All the people in Joshua are purely from my imagination. This Romantic Suspense Series should keep you turning the pages long into the night. An unsolved murder from 1990 has a bearing on today…especially now that bones have been found in the Hippie section of town called The Ravine.

Last month, I offered up the first page of the first book. So, where am I with the first book in the series today? Not as far along as I’d hoped. I have finished two more chapters, made a chart of characters that are involved in the plot with their ages in 1969, 1990, and 2019. There are twenty-five of them so I definitely needed a chart. The book is set in 2019, involves a murder in 1990, and is interwoven with what happened in 1969.

I found I had to rename quite a few characters. This idea started as a three-book series set in
1930s "house of pleasure"
1969/1970 and three books set in present day. But I decided to write a book within a book. Too many characters from the two time periods had similar names. That done, I continued writing. I’m handling 1969 through a series of flashbacks.

I’ll share one of those flashbacks with you today. Every flashback will be seen from the POV (point of view) of Frank Harlan MacKenzie, who came to Joshua in 1969, met Susie Muse and had three children, Magpie, Harlan, and Elidor. Frank and Susie were some of the first of the so-called Hippies that settled in Joshua. I can’t share the whole flashback because it’s too long, so here’s the latter part. He’s just dropped off his friend, Snuff, at the clinic. This is when Frank meets Susie…1969.

Frank closed the clinic door behind him and strolled through the archway that led to another part of the building. A sign intricately painted with scrolls and flowers read Knit Two Wear. The arrow pointed straight ahead. In the middle of the shop, Lolly—the Lolly—arranged some sort of knitted clothing on a rack. Even without seeing her face, she was hard to mistake for anyone else. He was just under six feet, and the woman stood nearly as tall as him. She had to weigh three hundred pounds.
She glanced up. “Good morning. Anything I can help you with?” She dressed the same as the first time he’d met her: full, floor length skirt, sandals, and a cotton blouse with a plunging neckline that left little to the imagination about an abundance of breasts. A leather strap held straight blonde hair at the back of her neck.
“I’m just looking around.”
“Please do.” Thick brows drew together. “We’ve met.”
“Yeah, first night I was in town. At your house.”
“That’s right. You live with Doug and Maureen.” She floated toward him, all fullness of skirt flouncing, breasts bobbing and threatening to break free of what little material covered them.
Her arms spread wide, and he suddenly dissolved into warm flesh. He could’ve laid his head on her shoulder and taken a nap. The scent of patchouli lulled him.
She stood back then, still clasping his shoulders. “My, you are a strong young man.” Her hands slipped to his biceps. “Mm—mm.” She winked. “Why haven’t you been back to my house?”
Her welcome hug could’ve turned into a whole lot more. She was really beautiful, but the beauty came as a result of the openness and warmth that radiated from inside her. Lolly held nothing back of herself. How he knew all of this with one hug and a wink, he didn’t know, but thoroughly believed.
“I’ve been busy getting settled and working on my sculptures.”
“Ohhh, you’re a sculptor.” Her fingers massaged his biceps. “I should’ve guessed.” Another wink, and she released him. “Well, you know where I am. You come around any time you want. My home is open most every night to all of our friends.”
Two women entered the shop from the street door. With a smile, she left him to greet her customers.
Having been officially welcomed to Joshua, he left through the street entrance and stepped into the almost noonday sunshine. This is home. He smiled.
The heat of eighty-degree weather penetrated his cotton shirt, and he rolled the sleeves above his elbows as he walked. Turning onto Cutway Street, aptly named as the road jutted upward at an angle to connect to Main Street above, his leg muscles felt the pull with the climb. He didn’t mind. Cutway Street dumped onto Main and into the heart of downtown Joshua. He took a deep breath as he paused at the top. He hadn’t quite acclimated to the elevation yet.
His stomach growled. He’d had only coffee for breakfast. The shop directly in front of him looked promising for food when he spied two wrought iron tables on the sidewalk in front. The sign above the door said “Susie’s” and was flanked by a window on each side. Over one window, “Wake Up Susie” was painted in purple and over the other window in bright taxi-cab yellow was “The Muse.”
He stepped through the open doorway, greeted by a delicious spicy aroma, as well as a nicely rounded bottom covered in worn jeans frayed on the leg edges and missing a pocket.
The petite woman belonging to the butt, bent from the waist downward, peeked around her legs. Black hair, so curly it hung in corkscrews, dusted the floor. “Hi!” She straightened from the shelf of books she was arranging and laughed. The sound was a melody. The face a work of art. Her eyes were the color of gold nuggets rimmed in the color of dark fertile soil. How appropriate for an old mining town. She smoothed her waist-length hair down without much success. Her ripe peach lips were moving, and Frank started with the realization she was speaking.

I’ve been floundering on what to call this new series. Not wanting to wait for some inspiration to hit
Hanging on the side of a mountain
me, I’m going with these working titles. First off, the series will be called Joshua, Arizona. And I’ll name the books for the main character. Book one will be “Magpie, a Joshua, Arizona Novel.” Book two will be “Harlan MacKenzie, a Joshua, Arizona Novel.” And book three, “Elidor, (maybe Elidor Muse), a Joshua, Arizona Novel.” If I find these are too boring, I just might offer a contest to readers to help me choose new titles. More on that in the months ahead.
Now to get back to writing. I’ll give you an update next month.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Genre Hop Part 3 Steampunk! What's #Steampunk? by Laura Strickland


Laura has introduced us to several genres she writes. Today is the third and particularly interesting because I'm not sure what SteamPunk is. How about you? Please give us a lesson, Laura!

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be a wealthy woman indeed. Usually, when I confess that I write Steampunk Adventure novels, people tend to look at me with a puzzled expression, perhaps wondering whether I also sacrifice goats on weekends or whether my tattoos are all safely hidden beneath my clothing. I can almost hear them thinking, “Wow, but she looks like such a normal lady.”

And I always feel as if I’ve been put on the spot. Despite all the times I’ve been asked, “What’s Steampunk?” I’ve yet to come up with a perfect answer. Perhaps that’s because Steampunk means different things to different people.

Here’s how the Urban Dictionary defines it:  Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan "What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner." It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.

For me, Steampunk is more a feeling than a definition. It’s a dark and misty place in my mind populated by folks who might have escaped from one of the more troubling Dickens novels, with a hint of Sherlock Holmes and a seasoning of black humor. Wrap that all up in an atmosphere of steam-powered everything from airships to automatons, and you’re getting close to what I think of, when I think Steampunk.

Fans tend to get into varying aspects of the genre. Some like the mechanics of it—they want to create their own gadgets, and claim their own realities. Others fall for the costuming—think Victorian gone on a wild weekend with Gothic. For me, it’s all about the characters. What sort of people would inhabit such a world? Would its mechanics affect them? How?

When I first set out to write a Steampunk Romance, I thought I’d set it in London, like so many other Steampunk tales. My daughter, who lives in Buffalo, New York—city of my birth—suggested I set it there instead. Upon thought, I had to acknowledge that Buffalo offers everything I love about Steampunk—strength and grit and an industrial past, people who as the sons and daughters of immigrants tend to look at the world a bit darkly, and who never, ever give up. And so the world of Buffalo Steampunk Adventure was born. I and my readers have traveled back again and again. Come visit, if you dare!

Blurb for Dead Handsome: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure (first book in series)

Clara Allen needs a husband in order to keep a roof over the heads of her assorted dependents, a roof her nasty grandfather will re-appropriate unless she is married by her 21st birthday, only a few days away. Strong-minded, unwilling to take orders from any man, she decides to solve her problem by raising a murdered prisoner from the dead and marrying him. She expects an empty-headed puppet; she certainly never dreams he’ll be so devastatingly handsome.

Liam McMahon doesn’t recall much about his life before his hanging in the prison yard, other than being Irish. He does remember the kiss Clara bestowed as she brought him back to life. Every time he looks at her, his desire gets out of hand. But his former life is chasing him down like a steam engine, and when a couple of mad geniuses decide he’d make a fine experiment, he wonders if he’ll live long enough to claim Clara’s heart or if he’ll die all over again.

Author web site: HERE

Author bio:
Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, award-winning author Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. She believes the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there.  She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara.  Tough enough to survive a squad of killer automatons? Well, just maybe.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

#FairyGarden and #Farming in the Desert

It’s not getting much cooler here in Tonto Basin, or anywhere else in Arizona. I took part in the annual Chino Valley Days a couple of weeks ago. So glad we had shade and a breeze off and on. I enjoy doing this event every year with some fellow Arizona authors. It’s small town Arizona with a pancake breakfast and parade. Of course, I don’t get to take part in either since I’m under the tent with my books, but the atmosphere is fun. When someone walks directly to me and asks to see my latest book, I’m honored. I had several repeat customers who read all my books. I wish I could write them as fast as they read them.

When I’m not writing, I like to “play in the dirt” as FDW calls it. It isn't technically farming on this scale, but I am a fiction writer! Until last spring, I stuck to potted plants at the Ranch. In late spring, I tried a small plot. It was a failure. The soil here is mostly sand, and I planted too late. Since it’s supposed to be fall, I’ve added more planting soil and tried some different vegetables. But the heat is hanging on so I’m not sure what will happen. In pots, I have sage and fennel that are two years old. I’ve got basil that is new. The rosemary in the ground is a hardy plant and still going strong after three years. In the small plot, I planted seeds of green onions, carrots, beets, chives, and dill and broccoli plants. Wish me luck. I’ll need it for my garden in the desert.

My fairy garden is to the side and a work in progress. I have more fairy additions coming in the mail. I’ll play with it over the next few months.

Do you garden? Or play with fairies? I'd love to hear your stories.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Female Trucker to Sexy Romance by Dee S. Knight


Dee is fearless for sure. When she says "this might not seem very fearless", I answer "oh yes it is!"

Growing up, I never considered myself fearless. Far from it, in fact. Maybe because I had polio as an infant and my left leg was affected to the point that I wore braces until I was in my mid-teens. Despite that, I learned to roller skate, ride a bike, learned to dance, and took part in most everything else kids do. So maybe my mom instilled some fearlessness in me while I wasn't looking. I went from a mom who made me get out and do things to a husband who rarely took no for an answer when it came to adventure. I like to say that between them—my mom and my husband—they thought I could do anything. Even things I didn't particularly want to do! And that leads me to my most fearless action.

I am a creature who likes stability. I'm fairly risk-averse. So when hubby came home from work one day and said, "Remember all those years while we were dating I said I thought we should drive a truck? Well, I wasn't kidding," I didn't quite know what to think. But I'd watched the big rigs go up and down the highways and I'd suffered from wanderlust for years so I said, "Why not." In a matter of weeks, stay-at-home me packed up the items we wanted to keep and stored them in my in-law's attic. We sold everything else, let the apartment go and set off for Home Transportation in Marietta, GA. This might not seem very fearless unless you consider that I had never been inside a big rig, much less had driving experience. Remember what I said above? I was raised to believe I could do anything, and I had no doubts that I could handle driving a tractor trailer.

Well, we had a few setbacks. Hubby went out by himself for six months or so, but then called me back down. I went through "truck school" (this was before the national license and testing that we have now), had the physical—which I almost didn't pass because of the residual effects of the polio on my left (clutch) foot and leg—and I went, fat, dumb, and happy, as my mom would say. Hubby taught me how to drive by making me practice when and how to shift the truck's fifteen gears in the company parking lot. Then off we went, like we knew what we were doing. That was the start of eight fabulous, fun years driving throughout the U.S. and parts of Canada. In probably a quarter of a million miles of driving I never had an accident or a ticket. Had lots of laughs, though, and many days of hard work. Being fearless was definitely worth it! 

A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex. Writing was so much fun Dee decided to keep at it. That's how she spends her days. Her nights? Well, she's lucky that her dream man, childhood sweetheart, and long-time hubby are all the same guy, and nights are their secret. Find Dee on and read about her books like her latest, Naval Maneuvers. Contact Dee at

Find all of Dee's books HERE

Thursday, September 6, 2018

In The Book: When #Inspiration Strikes #girlpower

In the Book

One spring day, I received an invitation for Ben and Amanda for a summer wedding. The invitation was on a full sheet of paper, folded. Because of the folds, the first thing I saw was "Amanda in summer." I was instantly transported to another era. Holding a folded sheet of paper was reminiscent of an age of letter writing communication. That led me to a woman named Amanda, toes in the sand on a summer day. Inspiration hit. I wish I’d kept a detailed account of where my mind wandered. But I didn’t. The complexity of this brief novella tells the tale.

Three generations of women…and the secret that strengthens their love.

Imagine summertime, lazy days, lying on the beach watching the waves roll in and writing a letter to your best friend. Okay, this is probably totally foreign to some of you. Write a letter? Why not just call or text? In 1947, you wouldn’t have had that option. Writing a letter was an art, an intimate exchange and a satisfying pastime. The excitement of waiting for a reply and checking the mailbox every day was a treat.
Amanda in the Summer is told through that old-fashioned way of communicating. Three of my characters are named Amanda, mother, daughter and granddaughter, and through letters they write to Tilly, over the course of fifty-seven years, a story of love, pain, secrets and joy unfolds.
We never hear from Tilly, but through the words of the three Amandas we meet the woman who is the epitome of the forward-thinking female of her era. She’s a member of the beat generation of the forties and fifties and holds a secret that affects all three generations of Amandas. Although each generation has her own voice, the friendship and love remain constant. But then there’s that secret…