Monday, June 17, 2019

Real Life Fun Inspires Fiction by Jodi Rath #CozyMystery #Inspiration #Recipe


Some of our best inspiration for our stories come from real life situations. Jodi Rath is my guest today, and she knows how true this is. Her mystery series  are enriched by her life. Read on...

My series, The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series, is a lot of fun to write. I use personal experiences from my life that come from many places.  I taught high school English for close to two decades and I have so many funny stories from being a teacher that I use for small scenes here and there. Not to mention, my family is a huge inspiration.

Grandma Opal’s character is developed from my Grandma Evelyn who is just as much as a hoot in real life as fictional Grandma Opal. For example, my husband and I have eight cats—so we have eight litter boxes with little close-lid trash cans by each box. We use the grocery bags to line the trash cans throughout our house. I don’t want to have to spend money on the small trash bags. I found I didn’t have enough grocery bags, so I told my grandma and my mom to save their bags for me. One day, I get a bag full of what looks like used bags except when I pull them out there is a HUGE stack of brand-new bags that my grandma pulled off the hooks at the store. I was like, “Grandma, I didn’t ask you to steal a stack of bags for me!” Her reply was a slitted-eyed glare in a snarky tone, “I can’t steal something that is free to the public, Jodi Lynn!” I knew I was in trouble when she used my middle name, so I quietly held my tongue and shook my head in desperation.  Yep, you guessed it—this scene shows up in book two coming out June 21, 2019 of my series, Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder. That’s only one of many examples. Trust me when I tell you I can’t make some of this stuff up!

With that said, yes, it is fun to write this series as well as therapeutic.


Welcome to Leavensport, Ohio where DEATH takes a delicious turn!

Financial fraud of elderly villagers in Leavensport, an urban sprawl threat to the community, disastrous dates, cross-sell marketing gone wrong, and another murder? 

Jolie Tucker is ready to try dating again. Well, she has no choice—since her family auctioned her off to the highest bidder. Her best friend, Ava, has agreed to a double date, but both friends find out hidden secrets about their partners as well as deception by one of the village’s own, who will soon be found dead. This plot is sure to be spicy!

We both jumped as we heard a hard knock on our front door.
I saw Bradley’s boss, Lou, standing outside the door. I unlocked and opened the door briefly, “Sorry Lou; we had an unfortunate incident a few moments ago. I had to close briefly to clean up. I’ll open up soon.”
“Where is Bradley? He wanted me to meet him here, and here I am. Why we can’t talk at the workplace is beyond me. This is ridiculous. He could at least be outside regardless of what “incident” you’ve had,” he said making air quotes with his fingers.
“Bradley was part of the incident. He probably ran to change his clothes. I would assume he’ll be back soon,” I said.
“Figures, I’ll call him,” he said grabbing his phone and storming off.
I went to close and lock up again when Mr. and Mrs. Seevers came storming up to Lou.
“You no good son of a gun; I oughta take that phone and shove it up your . . .”
“Earl!” Mrs. Seevers exclaimed. “No need for that kind of talk ever, regardless of how much of a creep this guy is.”
“What are you two talking about?” Lou demanded.
“We know what you did, and you won’t get away with it!” Mr. Seevers seethed.
“You two old bats need to mind your own business; I’m out of here,” Lou protested stomping off with his phone to his ear probably calling poor Bradley to chew him out.
“Rude,” Mirabelle stated as I closed and locked the door again.
“Agreed,” I said wondering what was going on with the Seevers, a typically nice retired couple, and Lou.


Jodi Rath
B.A. English Literature; M.A. Education
Author of The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series
Entrepreneur MYS ED LLC

Monday, June 10, 2019

Let's Talk #Series with Kim McMahill #MuseMonday


Please join me in welcoming Kim McMahill and her post about series. I love reading series. Can there really ever be too much? What do you say, Kim?
I love reading books in a series. A series gives the reader the opportunity to really get to know the characters on a personal level. We get to see the recurring protagonists and antagonists progress emotionally, evolve into better or worse people, and sometimes we even see them grow old. Even if the story is far outside our real lives, we still often connect to the characters as we share some of the same experiences—a challenge at work, a bully, a crisis of faith, a health issue, or relationship woes or wows.
So, when is it time to let go? It depends on the series. I don’t think there is an easy answer, but there are a number of triggers. Has the storyline fizzled out, has the objective been achieved, or has the protagonist aged to the point that his or her heroics are no longer believable?
I started my Risky Research Series with a clear vision of how the series would develop and end, but I’m starting to realize I may not be in total control. When, and if, FBI agent Devyn Nash dismantles a deadly organization obsessed with controlling the diet-products industry worth billions and brings them to justice, she’s got more to accomplish. Will her next case be strong enough to carry the series past nabbing Coterie? Will she still have a job with the FBI after A Foundation of Fear? Honestly, I’m not sure yet, but in the mean time she has some very dangerous individuals to track down, so I hope you will begin the journey if you haven’t started and see where the drama and danger leads. 
FBI Special Agent Devyn Nash is obsessed with taking down Coterie, a deadly group out to control the multi-billion-dollar diet product industry. The FBI’s plan to expose Coterie places Devyn’s best friend and her partner’s fiancé in the crosshairs of this ruthless organization. Can Devyn protect her friend and bring the coldblooded killers to justice before they strike again while distracted by injury, a sexist bully, and a long-distance relationship with a handsome Wyoming sheriff?
Lobbyist and Coterie assassin Sofia Wilks wants nothing more than to regain control of her life. Sofia knows Agent Nash is nipping at her heels, but the FBI agent isn’t the worst of her fears. She is drawn to a man who has the power to destroy her. 
Devyn Nash’s ribs still ached and pain shot up from the soles of her feet with every step she took. Only a little over a week had passed since she had chased a killer through cactus-covered desert at night in her bare feet. If that wasn’t enough, she had leapt off a rock ledge and tackled the fugitive, which in hindsight probably wasn’t a smart move. She had desperately wanted answers, not another corpse.
Social Links:
Buy Links for A Foundation of Fear:
Free Download: A Formidable Foe Download (prequel novelette to the Risky Research Series)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Thrills, Chills, & Flying Machines by M.S. Spencer #FearlessFriday #travel #romance


Please welcome M.S. Spencer to Discover... Ms. Spencer loves the traveling life as much as I do. But it sounds like she's discovered a few more places. Fearless adventure. Enjoy!

My traveling life began at the age of six months, when my family moved from upstate New York to North Carolina. From there we went to Maryland, and four years later were winging our slow way halfway across the world to Turkey in a Boeing Stratocruiser, complete with sleeping berths above the seats, and gourmet meals served with china and crystal. When I was ten, we took the Queen Mary across the Atlantic to France. After two and a half years in Paris, we drove through France, Andorra, and Spain to Gibraltar and Morocco. Our return trip to America was on the sister ship of the Andrea Doria (once as famous as the Titanic for its spectacular sinking)—and yes, we did run into a major storm!

I once counted up the number of significant moves in my life…and stopped at twenty-five. I have lived or traveled in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the US, Central America, and South America. I’ve wandered the Pere Lachaise cemetery and laid a flower at Oscar Wilde’s grave. I’ve eaten Sacher Torte in the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. I’ve climbed the narrow steps of the stepped pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichén Itzá. I’ve seen the Peacock Throne in the Golestan Palace in Iran and ridden a stallion across the Egyptian desert under the “nose” of the Sphinx. I’ve swum with pink dolphins and gone fishing for piranha. I’ve watched as thousands of migrating cranes land on my roof on a hill in Istanbul. I’ve even begged for cigarettes from the sailors on a battleship in the Port of Tangier.

My family on the Queen Mary
It’s been an adventure.

My romantic suspense novel Lapses of Memory incorporates bits of those adventures, or uses impressions I have of the exciting events occurring during those years. It follows the exploits of two journalists, Sydney Bellek and Elian Davies, as they travel the globe reporting on various world catastrophes. The first time they meet is as children aboard the very same Boeing Stratocruiser I took at age four. Every few years after that they cross paths—in places I’ve been and during events that I lived through, such as Cairo before the October War, the initial stages of the Iranian revolution, and during the Lebanese civil war.

I write from experience. But that only takes the reader so far. We need more than a travelogue—we need a little romance knitted in. So, while you’re eagerly awaiting my memoir, you might enjoy Lapses of Memory.

Here’s the story:

Sydney Bellek first meets Elian Davies in the 1950s on a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser when she is five and he is seven. They run into each other every few years after that, but while he knows from the start that she is his true love, she does not. Later, as rival journalists, they vie for scoops on international crises from the Iranian revolution to the Lebanese civil war. The handsome and intrepid Elian beats her out at every turn, even while keeping his love for her secret.

Only after years of separation does she finally realize they are meant to be together, but this time, in a twist of fate, it is Elian whose memory of her is gone. Will he remember her before she loses heart or will their new love be enough to replace 
the old one? 

Wild Rose Press, 3/15/2017, Imprint: Champagne Rose
Contemporary romantic suspense/Action Adventure; M/F; 2 flames
Ebook (70,560); Print: 296 pp. 

Buy Links:


Although M. S. Spencer has traveled in five continents, she spent the last thirty years in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional assistant, speechwriter, and non-profit director. She has two grown children and a perfect granddaughter. Ms. Spencer has published twelve mystery/romantic suspense novels, and currently divides her time between Florida and Maine.


My calendar of events can be found here:

Thursday, June 6, 2019

In the Book: #inspiration of Men and Bull***t #romance

The first book I published went to audio recently, ten years after I signed the contract. I love to
answer the question "what inspired Sleeping with the Lights On?"

One afternoon, when my sister was visiting, she complained about her last disappointing date. She was divorced, and sick of dating and being single. I always told her, jokingly, you've had more men in your life than any one woman deserves, so buck up. That day, I suggested her dating life would make great fodder for a short story. I sat at my computer and told her to recite a characterization of every man she'd dated, starting with the ill-fated relationship with the G.I. in Germany who took her on a date to the Black Forest and didn't get past the first tree, so to speak. I titled the file "Of Men and Bullshit."

That short story turned into the full-length novel, Sleeping with the Lights On. Although there are
Toasting the launch 2010 with my sister
fictional escapades sprinkled into the tale, the men are all real. And by the way, I couldn't fit in all of them.

The cover has been updated since then, but the story is still a fun romp with suspense, humor and a surprise ending. And I'm sure my sister would want me to tell you, it isn't all true. But the men are! You can read the first chapter HERE.

A secret admirer, a redheaded stalker, and an eccentric millionaire 
have thrown Sandra Holiday on a dangerous path.

After two failed marriages and countless relationships, Sandra thinks she’s met the man to end her years of less than perfect choices; choices that not only derailed her travel-related career plans, but also left her single and broke.

Carson Holiday, a Las Vegas country crooner with swoon-inducing good looks, spent his adult life pursuing a recording contract and love, never holding on to either. After eighteen years, he drops back into Sandra’s life, reigniting an attraction he can’t deny.

When Carson reappears, Sandra must choose again. As life confronts her with yet another turning point, will her decisions find her eternally sleeping with the lights on – or will she finally discover a way to turn them off?

And everywhere good books are sold.

Learn more about the characters in Sleeping with the Lights On HERE
Read the first chapter HERE

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wicked Good Event #99cents #bookfair #giftcard


How about a wickedly good way to get all the books you need for the summer? Or a wickedly good way to win, win, win! I bet you could use an Amazon Gift Card or a free book. 

Then don't miss this event!

What would summer be without a ton of must-read books loaded onto your reading device of choice to enjoy on a lazy June afternoon? Our fair is filled with 99 cents bargains on sale for a limited time in contemporary romance, paranormal romance, thrillers, fantasy, science fiction, women’s fiction, romantic suspense, and more.

Plus, each day of the fair we’re giving away a $15 Amazon gift card and 12 books from the fair via Amazon instant giveaways!

Look for Books from Your Favorite Authors!

Alexa Aston • Alicia Dean • Amanda Uhl • Anne McClane • Brenda Whiteside • Cara Marsi • Catherine Kean • CB Samet • Debbie White • Elizabeth Rose • Emerald Dodge • Honey Phillips • Jacqueline Diamond • Jennifer Allis Provost • Jessie Kwak • Jim Stein • JL Lora • Jordan Hallak • Karen Michelle Nutt • Katherine Gilbert • Kristine Smith • LC Owen • Linda Mooney • LJ Swallow • Loralee Evans • M.D. Dalrymple • Margaret Tanner • Maria Geraci • Rhondi Ann • Rose Pearson • Sherrie Lea Morgan • Stephanie Queen • Tara Gallina • Taylor Marsh • Aileen Harkwood

Monday, June 3, 2019

Stepping Out of Time by Joanne Guidoccio #yoga #romance #WRP


Please welcome back Joanne Guidoccio. What a great post about yoga, my favorite activity and one that I've gotten away from in recent years. Yes, years! I'm now inspired to hop back on the wagon. Thanks, Joanne.

A non-athlete, it took me a while to find a preferred physical activity, but once I discovered yoga, I was hooked.

That was ten years ago.

Since then, I’ve gone off the “yoga wagon” several times—interestingly enough right before prolonged writer’s blocks—but have now settled into a practice that both center and challenges me.
In the early days, I struggled with some of the poses and wondered if I could ever duplicate (or even approximate) the pretzel-like abilities of the lithe and limber instructors. Thankfully, an early instructor, who also exuded a Zen-like calm, encouraged me not to give up. I can still recall her advice: “A yoga pose is a journey, not a destination.” How reassuring to learn that I didn’t have to get it right the first time, the second time, or the fourteenth time. What matters is that I find the courage to keep trying and failing.

Relaxing into the slow movements and poses, I have experienced gradual stretching of muscles and improved range of motion. I am amazed by the difference yoga has made in everything from my flexibility to my posture to my enhanced creativity.

Yoga has taught me to be still when I’m uncomfortable and to breathe through the twinges of pains I experience in some of the poses. If the pain persists, however, I know when to stop and try alternate poses or reach for a bolster, strap, or foam block. With my writing, I’m becoming more aware of my limits, realizing when to stay at the edge and when to back off and rest.

The meditative quality of yoga has also helped with my moods. The life of a writer is filled with ups and downs—good and bad reviews, contracts and rejections, flows and blocks—that can be alleviated by a short session on the mat. Those twenty minutes or hour I spend on the mat help quiet my monkey mind and imagine possibilities beyond my present circumstances. At times, the session acts as a writing prompt, and I find myself rushing back to the computer.

I still have my personal challenges, but I am less reactive and more inclined to let things go. Instead, I gravitate toward that beautiful place where I can step out of time and leave all my concerns behind.

About the Gilda Greco Mystery Series 

A cross between Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher, and Cher (Moonstruck), protagonist Gilda Greco brings a unique perspective to the amateur female sleuth.

The teacher-turned-lottery winner returns to her hometown, only to find herself embroiled in a series of murder investigations. Before you start imaging thrillers with high stakes and police chases, pause and take a yoga breath. The three novels in the series—A Season for Killing Blondes, Too Many Women in the Room, A Different Kind of Reunion—are cozy mysteries, written in the Agatha Christie tradition. All the crimes take place “off stage” with very few graphic details provided.

While the pace may be more relaxed than that of thrillers and police procedurals, there are no steaming cups of herbal teas, overstuffed chairs, or purring cats in these contemporary cozies. Prepare yourself for interfering relatives who don’t always respect boundaries, adult mean girls, deserving and undeserving men, multiple suspects, and lots of Italian food.

Buy Links

A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne Guidoccio writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario. 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The World of #Audio for A Legacy of Love and Murder #Interview with Holly Holt

Holly Holt, talented audio narrator, is back with us today. Maybe we can learn a little more about her world of audio. Holly has now narrated three of my Love and Murder Series books—The Art of Love and Murder, Southwest of Love and Murder, and most recently A Legacy of Love and Murder. It’s exciting for me to have a narrator who’s in demand taking on my whole series!

Me: Hi Holly! Great to have you here again. Last time you told us how your daughter tells her friends your studio is where you talk to yourself. Do you get any comments from friends about what you do? I get some reactions about writing romance.

Holly: Now I’m dying to know what comments you get!!!  Most people who know me really well aren’t too surprised as I’ve always been an avid reader, but people are always curious about the details as to how I got into it and how it works etc.  Its kind of fun like you are a spy or have some fascinating job that people want to know more about.  People get a kick out of the fact that I do some erotica and some are very surprised at that.

Me: A spy or equally fascinating. Fun. I am so excited about A Legacy of Love and Murder, the latest release. This book had a few more challenges, in my humble opinion. Although I edited out some of the German for the audio version, there were still quite a few words and phrases. Plus, you managed authentic sounding accents. How did you do all of that? 

Holly: This book was SO much fun.  I think I did more prep work for this book than I’ve done for others, mainly because I haven’t had extensive experience with the accent.  I have narrated books with German characters, but never a main character. 
I’ve always wanted to expand my experience with a German accent, so this was a great challenge for me.
It was especially fun as my husband and my father speak German so I definitely practiced with them.  Thank heavens for the internet, so I was also able to find lots of YouTube videos to help me practice the accent as well.  I know I can always improve and do better, but I feel practicing until you can do it with confidence is key.

I also really enjoyed how beautifully you describe the scenery and the castles for this book, I felt I lived abroad vicariously with the characters in a sense, so overall it was a delightful experience for me.

Me: And how lucky for me you had help at hand. I'm glad the setting popped out for you. I lived in Germany for
three years and in our travels, I found Austria to be so beautiful and intriguing. Have you narrated other books that required some language skills outside of English?

Holly: I started off doing books that had varying accents on occasion, but as time has progressed and I’ve gained more experience (and confidence), I’ve done more and more accents which I truly enjoy.
I’ve done quite a few British accents which has always been easier for me probably because I’ve practiced that accent more than any.  (My husband teases me because I also love British shows and while watching one I’ll slip into the accent without realizing so he likes to tease me with “and now your British”)

I also speak Spanish so that accent is always fun for me. I did have a book set in Ireland that was a great challenge for me as well.  Definitely had other accents I’ve tackled with minor characters like Russian and other European accents.

Me: What was the biggest surprise for you once you became a narrator? Maybe something you hadn’t expected? 

Holly:  You know, there have been a few surprises, but the biggest one by far is that I didn’t expect to get so into it.  As a young girl I really enjoyed acting but I had such anxiety about it that I never played a lead but was always in the chorus of musicals and other plays.  I didn’t realize narrating would fulfill that need for me that I even forgot I had.  It’s fun trying to really get inside each character and perform them in such a way to truly make it an enjoyable experience for the listener – always my goal I strive to achieve. 

Me: I think good narrators have to have a flare for acting. And you do! I know you come from a background of loving to read. Do you have time to read any books you aren’t narrating? Does it feel like you’re reading new books when you narrate or is it more like a job and not entertaining?

Holly: SUCH good questions!  Normally I do still find time to read though I did just have a baby so my reading time has lessened lately, but that is worth it! 

Most of the time narrating is so much fun and doesn’t feel like a job.  Sometimes when I’m editing my work it can feel more like a job, or if I do a book that isn’t my favorite genre.  I’ve learned to stick to books I really love as I enjoy the process more which will translate into a better piece for the listeners.

Me: I’m wondering if you’ve seen any trends in the audio field since you started your career? For instance, is any genre more requested now or any new genres going to audio?

Holly: I think the biggest change is the crossovers which personally I LOVE.  I kind of consider yours that way as it is just as much a mystery/suspense novel as it is romance – both genres I love!
I also love how Erotica is expanding in a similar fashion.  There is a major trend for many supernatural novels to be considered Erotica due to their content, but many of them are a blend of multiple genres which I find to be very fun!

Me: So last time you were on, you divulged you are pregnant. How are you feeling and when is the baby due? 

Holly: I just had Ivan Charles on April 13th!  So exciting.  He was only 6 pounds 1 ounce and was born with huge blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair.  We are already so in love with him (he is 6 weeks old now) which is a good thing as I’m not sleeping much lately!

Me: Welcome to the world Ivan Charles! It was great having you stop in again, Holly. I hope everyone checks out all of the books you’re narrating. Want to give us your alias for your erotica narrations?

Holly: It is such a pleasure talking with you as well and your novels are my favorite to narrate (don’t tell my other authors).  I just love how your mind works, your creativity, and how you describe things so beautifully.  You honestly feel like you are right there, almost like you are the character experiencing the story that you don’t want to stop listening to and you never want to end.
My alias for erotica is Michelle Jones.  Sssshhh!

If you're new to audio, be advised you can listen to a sample of the books on audible (Amazon). Click on the name of my books up in the first paragraph to listen.

And if you want to get a really good feel for the books, you can read the first chapter on my web site: Click HERE FOR THE FIRST CHAPTER

Find or connect with Holly here:

TWITTER:  hollyholtnarrates

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Reading and #Reviews (Wilson, Garr, Dean)

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 an eReader at night for the last hour my day.

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. My current read is a thriller by Allison Brennan entitled Speak No Evil. It's pretty graphic for me, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the read. I also read romantic suspense, 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!

Laked by J.L. Wilson 
Romantic Suspense
Vivian DuLac deals in antiques and unusual items she sells in her shop. She also knows a great deal about software and her ex is a CEO of a large software company. Enter Able, who wants to know about the ex and isn’t totally on the up and up with Vivian when they meet. There’s an ancient sword, murder, deception, and a stormy night that brings it all together. The characters in this book really had me hooked. It is Ms. Wilson’s attention to character detail that keeps me coming back to her books. You’ll love the suspense in this story too!

Speedbumps by Teri Garr with Henriette Mantel
I’m a fiction junky, so this biography is an unusual read for me. I have to admit, I was drawn to it because for a period of my life (when Teri was doing the Jockey underwear commercials), I was asked almost daily if I knew I looked like her. Ms. Garr, star of classic films like Young Frankenstein, Oh God!, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Mr. Mom, and the Academy Award nominated Tootsie, tells her story with wit. And it’s not always happy. She spent time with Elvis, the Beatles, and has an illness that wasn’t diagnosed for twenty years. It’s an interesting read.

Love Breaks by Alicia Dean
Alicia Dean is an extremely talented writer. If you love romance stories, Ms. Dean’s collection of ten stories will keep you entertained. If you aren’t normally a short story enthusiast but you love romance, give this book a chance. Short story reading can be fun when you haven’t got a lot of time to invest, but you can use the entertainment a good read brings you.