Monday, October 28, 2019

A Very Unlikely #Muse by Dee S. Knight #MuseMonday #Vietnam


Please welcome Dee S. Knight back to Discover... She's always a good read! 

When I was in high school, we were beginning to realize through the nightly news what Vietnam was all about. President Eisenhower initially sent us to the country as advisors, and then President Kennedy involved us more in the early 1960s. President Johnson increased the troop numbers greatly. As President Nixon took over and I went off to college, the war was raging—though with all the deaths it was never considered a true war. Like Korea, it wasn’t dignified with the title, though it looked like a war, walked like a war, talked like a war.

The war was personal. My dad was in the Navy, my boyfriend’s father had been a Marine, and I had two uncles in the Air Force, so I was surrounded by military bases full of young men who could be sent overseas and into what we were told was chaos at any minute. Jack was attending Virginia Military Institute by then—thankfully, because his draft lottery number was 69. My catechism teacher (and the father of the boy on whom I had a wild and crazy crush) was a pilot off USS Independence and was shot down and captured. Vietnam was there, all around us, all the time. So is it strange that many years later I used the backdrop of Vietnam as my muse for a romance?

I’ve written two romance pieces, actually, using Vietnam as the instigator of the story. In Burning Bridges (out of print now but soon to be on Kindle Unlimited), my characters met just before the hero ships out for Vietnam. Convinced they were in love, Sara and Paul share a night and swear to wait for each other. Then, Sara discovers she’s pregnant and she never hears from Paul, though she sends him letter after letter. The war burned their first bridge, and pride burned the second.

The second piece—actually, the first I wrote—was a novella called Coming Home. In it, Tom Stabler is granted a surprise Christmas leave. He leaves the muggy jungle of Vietnam to return for a week to his parents’ farm in Nebraska, his mind filled with the image of the prettiest girl he’d ever known, Susan Swenson. When Susan visits him late one night, the experience is unlike anything he could have imagined. Her lips were sweet, her body lush and warm, and her faith in him touching. After Christmas he returned to Vietnam a changed man—but not in the way he expected. Vietnam played a larger role in this story than in Burning Bridges. I think here I wanted something good to come of something horrible and seemingly without meaning.

Here’s a short excerpt from Coming Home:

With a jerk and cry, Private Tom Stabler bolted upright, his heart pounding at an alarming rate. The dream receded, and his eyes shot open, unseeing at first. His arm darted out, reaching for the rifle that was always beside him like an extension of his right arm.

The weapon wasn’t there! In sudden panic, he snapped his head to the side, hoping to find with sight what he couldn’t with touch.

Then it came to him.

“Home,” he whispered. He was safe. Not in a steamy jungle surrounded by the smell of rotting vegetation, or wading through muddy river shallows filled with who-knew-what slithering things, or straining for the welcome sound of helicopters, or…

He’d been in so many God-awful situations these past eight months he could take his pick of a different terror every night for weeks. But he didn’t want to. For this week, these seven days at home, he wanted to put Nam behind him. Why, then, couldn’t he rid himself of the tension coiled like a snake in his belly?

Tom scrubbed his hands across his face, willing his breathing to slow and his heart to return to a normal beat. He picked up his watch. Four o’clock.

When he’d said an awkward goodnight to his father and made his way to bed, the clock in the hall was chiming midnight. He’d draped his clothes over his desk chair, stripped off his skivvies, and climbed into bed.

Unbelievably, he’d pulled up the quilt his grandmother had made, snuggled into the softness of the mattress, and drifted off to sleep as though he’d never left the safety and security of his room.

Awake now, he wondered if he’d ever adjust to the feeling of safety again, ever truly believe it existed. He feared he’d always be peering into shadows for the hidden enemy or listening for the almost silent, deadly snick of a landmine trip.

Falling back on the pillow, he stared at the posters on the opposite wall, illuminated by weak moonlight shining through the window. One was for a rock concert held in Omaha four years ago. He’d wanted to take Susan Swensen, but her father wouldn’t let her go the hundred miles into the city with him. Too far, he’d said in his thick Scandinavian accent. Too much can go wrong with a car. Young people can get stranded. Alone.

The last was said with a long, thoughtful stare right into Tom’s soul. How had the man known of Tom’s evil intentions to fake a car breakdown in order to make time with his daughter? Eventually, when she was accepted into nursing school, Mr. Swensen had let Susan go to Omaha. By then, Tom had gone much farther. All the way to Hell, in fact.

The other poster hailed the Fighting Hawks, his high school football team, on which he’d been the star linebacker. Those were heady days. He’d made a great linebacker at the university, too, but a lousy scholar, which was what put his ass squarely in the middle of that worthless peninsula called Vietnam.

Now he wouldn’t even make a linebacker. He skimmed his hand down his chest and across his stomach. Lean—skinny almost. Where once had been bulk there was sinewy muscle. He could still run, though. Oh, yeah, he got lots of practice running. From firing position to firing position, from cover to transport helicopters—black birds hovering over open kill zones to lift guys out of danger or drop them in—and from helicopter back to cover. Some days it seemed he ran the whole damn time.

It felt that way now.

Tom sighed. There was no going back to sleep. Throwing off the covers, he roused himself from the warmth and sat up, looking at the four walls and feeling dislocated.

This room held the bed where he’d slept since he was six. In two days, Christmas Eve, he’d be twenty-one. After all those years, the bed should be familiar, and it was. The bed fit the room, but Tom no longer did.

Same with the house. When he arrived early yesterday morning, he’d sensed something was off but hadn’t been able to put his finger on the problem. Now he knew. Somehow, while he was gone, things had changed, and no one had told him.

His bedroom, the kitchen where he’d watched his mom bake cookies, the living room where he’d beaten his dad at chess for the first time, all felt cramped and alien, as though he’d read about them but hadn’t lived in them. Even his family was all wrong. Gray threaded his mom’s hair, and his dad moved slower. As for his grandparents, they were frail replicas of their previous selves, with wrinkled faces and almost translucent skin.

This life, these people, belonged to a Tom Stabler who no longer existed. The man he was now would have to adjust his thinking to live here again, and learning how would sure as hell take more than one week.

Loneliness clawed at his insides. Here, in the one place he should have felt a part of things, solitude engulfed him. It would have been better to stay in Nam than be here with everything wrong, no longer a part of his home, his family.

Coming Home is available for free on the Nomad Authors website to subscribers of our newsletter, Aussie to Yank ( If you join our newsletter and read Coming Home, I hope you’ll write and let me know what you think.


Author links:

Friday, October 25, 2019

An Author's Journey by Judy Penz Sheluk #fearlessfriday #writerslife


Let's welcome back Judy Penz Sheluk. Her author journey is ongoing, and what a journey it's been. Enjoy the tale!

It was a Friday in the winter of 2003 when I was called into the office of the VP of Sales, a representative from HR sitting smugly by his side. I knew what was coming: Rumors had been running rampant regarding a massive company downsizing and restructuring, the result of ever declining sales of high-end office furniture following 9/11. I faced a future of looking for another job in the corporate world or finally following my dream of becoming a writer.

Common sense dictated the former. I had twenty-plus years of business experience, primarily in management roles, and always in finance. My writing credits, on the other hand, included a few unsold short stories crafted in creative writing workshops, and exactly one acceptance: a column in Antiques & Collectibles Showcase about my husband’s collection of antique clocks, for which I was paid $75 and three copies of the magazine.

Payment for that article arrived on the very day I’d been given my pink slip. Some might have found it ironic, laughable, even. I viewed it as an omen. The time to follow my dream had come.

By 2012, I’d managed to carve out a successful second career as a freelance journalist and magazine editor. And yet, something was missing.

I found the answer at Bloody Words, a now defunct mystery conference held in Toronto in June 2012. I went as a reader and a fan, and left knowing that I wanted to write a novel. I already had a world created for it, based on a short story written in yet another creative writing class. How hard could it be?

Plenty hard, as it turned out. But I persevered and in 2013, after a dozen drafts and several hundred hours, I was ready to start the submission process for The Hanged Man’s Noose. I thought a decade of publication credits would smooth the way.

They didn’t, but I persevered, and in July 2014 I signed a contract with Barking Rain Press for Noose. By November, I’d had two short stories published in two different anthologies, World Enough & Crime and The Whole She-Bang 2.

My writing journey hasn’t always been easy, but even in my darkest hours it’s never felt like work. And I never could have or would have done any of it if I hadn’t taken a chance back in 2003.

And so, in February 2018, I took another chance, this time by setting up my own imprint, Superior Shores Press, and yet another by deciding to publish a multi-author collection of short mystery stories. The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, was released in June 2019 to excellent reviews. With that done, and A Fool’s Journey, book 3 in my Marketville mystery series set to release on Aug. 21, I was ready to take a well-deserved vacation. Fate had other plans.

In July 2019, Barking Rain Press emailed its authors, illustrators, proofreaders, and editors with news that it would be closing. Authors would be paid any royalties owed, but we were on our own for recreating filed and cover art. And so, that month, I set about doing the work involved to get Skeletons in the Attic and A Hole in One re-released under the Superior Shores Press umbrella by the first week of August.

I don’t know what lies ahead, none of us do. But I hope I continue to be fearless, even when I’m scared.

Bio: Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of the Glass Dolphin Mystery and Marketville Mystery series, and the editor of The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense. Her short stories can be found in several collections. Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors. Find her at

New Release (A Fool’s Journey): In March 2000, twenty-year old Brandon Colbeck left home to find himself on a self-proclaimed “fool’s journey.” No one—not friends or family—have seen or heard from him since, until a phone call from a man claiming to be Brandon brings everything back to the forefront. Calamity (Callie) Barnstable and her team at Past & Present Investigations have been hired to find out what happened to Brandon, and, if still alive, where he might be. As Callie follows a trail of buried secrets and decades-old deceptions only one thing is certain: whatever the outcome, there is no such thing as closure.

Anthology Release (The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense): Whether it’s at a subway station in Norway, a ski resort in Vermont, a McMansion in the suburbs, or a trendy art gallery in Toronto, the twenty-one authors represented in this superb collection of mystery and suspense interpret the overarching theme of “the best laid plans” in their own inimitable style. And like many best laid plans, they come with no guarantees.
Stories by Tom Barlow, Susan Daly, Lisa de Nikolits, P.A. De Voe, Peter DiChellis, Lesley A. Diehl, Mary Dutta, C.C. Guthrie, William Kamowski, V.S. Kemanis, Lisa Lieberman, Edward Lodi, Rosemary McCracken, LD Masterson, Edith Maxwell, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Peggy Rothschild, Johanna Beate Stumpf, Vicki Weisfeld, and Chris Wheatley.

Find Judy’s books in trade paperback and e-book at all the usual suspects, including Amazon

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Reading and #Reviews (Eden, Gallant, 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 of my day.

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. My current read is Lethal Memory by Jannine Gallant, a romantic suspense. You might notice I read a lot of Ms. Gallant’s books. I'm only a chapter into it, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the read. I also read crime and law novels, WWII historicals, mysteries, and some main stream character driven novels.

Here are some of the books I've read recently or in the not too distant past. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author!

Fear for Me: A Novel of the Bayou Butcher by Cynthia Eden
Romantic Thriller 

The story was involved which is a good thing. I guess I should've thought twice that since it is about a Bayou Butcher the descriptions could be graphic. Not my cup of tea. The prose read rough in some areas. I found the hero's constant use of calling the heroine baby annoying. She was a very believable character and one of the highlights of this book. Being an author, I’m not opposed to foul language used in a story if the use is authentic and fits the character and style. Unfortunately, use of the F word felt gratuitious. If you like a gritty crime story and a too macho hero, you'll enjoy it.

Every Vow She Breaks (Who’s Watching Now book three) by Jannine Gallant
Romantic Suspense

Ms. Gallant’s stories are usually set in northern California, as is this book which takes place in the majestic Redwoods. She puts us there nicely. And then tosses in a twist because we’re on the search for Big Foot. While heroine is hoping to catch the unexplained on camera, the love from her past recaptures her heart. The story turns sinister, and you’re sure to enjoy this suspenseful romance. Recommended.

Death Notice (The Northland Crime Chronicles, book one) by Alicia Dean
Romantic Suspense

Ms. Dean knows how to weave crime, suspense, and romance, which is why this isn't the first book I've read by her. A newspaper columnist, Monroe Donovan, receives obituaries before they happen. Detective Lane Brody sees her as a suspect. While she deals with a boss who used to be more and a detective who is in an unhappy marriage and she’s attracted to, the murderer manages to capture her. The characters have depth and good back stories. The plot is compelling. Recommended.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Regency Bad Boys by Kryssie Fortune #Regency #romance


Please welcome Kryssie Fortune to Wicked Wednesday. There's something about those bad boys of the Regency Era, don't you think? 

Did you know that Horatio Nelson scandalized Regency London? Like most readers, I love a bad boy. 

He came to fame at the Battle of St Vincent. Breaking ranks, he led the boarding party on the San Nicolas. His battle cry was “Westminster Abbey or Glory.” As the battle progressed, he captured a second ship, the San Josef. 

Rather than reprimand him, the admiralty made him rear admiral of the blue. 

He was as tough as he was self-confident. He lost sight in his left eye while fighting the French. Four years later, a musket ball shattered his right arm. His crew rowed him back to his ship, but he refused to let them help him board. “Leave me alone,” he cried. “I have got my legs left and one arm.” 

The ships surgeon amputated his arm. Rather than argue, Nelson insisted, “The sooner the better.”  
Within half an hour, he was giving orders to the crew. 

This man tops the hero list, but he had a wicked side. 

Everything changed when he met Emma, Lady Hamilton. A blacksmith’s daughter, she wed her lover’s uncle, Sir William HamiltonIn 1791 she threw a ball for Nelson. All 1740 guests commented on how much Nelson loved her. Thus began one of history’s most notorious ménage à trois. 

Emma and Sir William sailed for England. Nelson traveled with them and bought them a home in Merton Place, London. Society gasped when he moved in too. Ten months later, Emma gave birth to his daughter, Horatia.

His wife, Fanny, demanded he choose between her and Emma. Nelson response must have horrified her. “I love you sincerely but I cannot forget my obligations to Lady Hamilton or speak of her otherwise than with affection and admiration.”

The two never lived together again.Nelson died during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Before the battle, he sent his famous message, England expects every man to do their duty.He never got his grave in Westminster abbey his battle cry demanded. Instead, the ships surgeon preserved his body in a vat of Brandy. Once back in England, Nelson was given a hero’s grave in St Paul’s Cathedral, London. 
The hero of my latest books is another Regency bad boy. He lost his lower left leg at Waterloo. His father disinherited him, leaving him penniless. Desperate, he turned the home he’d inherited from his grandparents into a “House of Fun.” The ton visit there with their lovers. My story starts when his father finally summons him home.
When her brother tries to force her into a marriage with a detestable baron, Julianna Halstead flees the family estate she has helped manage since the death of her parents. But as she makes her escape late at night, Juliana's carelessness nearly results in her being trampled by a galloping horse, and the steed's handsome rider takes it upon himself to correct her right then and there.

Though having her bottom bared and soundly spanked on the side of the road leaves Juliana blushing crimson, the punishment arouses her intensely and her body's helpless response cannot be hidden. To make matters worse, the gentleman over whose lap she was so firmly chastised turns out to be none other than Viscount Stonehurst, someone she has known since childhood.

When Stonehurst learns of Juliana's predicament, he decides to make her his bride. She will be no ordinary wife, however. She will be something much more shameful. But even as she is leashed, collared, and put on display in a cage wearing only a tail, then brought out to be used in ways no proper lady should enjoy, will Juliana come to love her new life as the viscount's pet?

Publisher's Note: The Viscount's Pet is a stand-alone novel which shares the Regency-era setting of Wickedly Used and His Innocent Bride. It includes spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don't buy this book.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Case of the Fearless #Puppy #FearlessFriday

Amigo, my buddy, my friend. That’s what I call him. I’ve also dubbed him Funny Face, but FDW hates it when I call him that. We can both call him fearless. This guy survived living in a drain pipe as a puppy…he has some scars to prove it. He’s handled adopting FDW and me just as fearlessly.

To recap, we’d searched for a rescue dog and heard about a mixed breed with a sad story back in January. On her way to work each morning, a doggie rescue lady in Gallup, NM, noticed a small dog or puppy living in a
Amigo's first home
culvert with another older dog. These two took care of each other. The older dog was blind, but had his years of experience. The pup was agile and could see. She named them Wylie and Amigo.

Both dogs were placed in foster care. Wylie was several years old and placed in a home that specialized in blind dogs. He was eventually adopted by the foster mom. Amigo was believed to be between nine months and a year. We adopted Amigo and his foster mom cried as we drove away.

Sadi loves Amigo
In the ten months we’ve had Amigo he’s fearlessly lodged his way into our hearts. His feral ways took a few months to conquer. His first instinct was to run each time the door opened or when off his leash. I don’t think he was necessarily running from us, but just running. He wasn’t quite sure where he belonged anymore. But this pup learned pretty fast. He’s turned into a joy. He loves people and most every dog he meets. There are a couple of small dogs here on the Ranch who don’t like him and the feeling is mutual, but otherwise, Amigo knows no enemy.

His favorite thing is retrieving…preferably in the water. Oh, does he love water.
Throw me the stick, FDW

Amigo loves Sadi

He loves our granddaughter, too. She’s a big animal lover, practically a canine whisperer, so they have a great time together.

We’re happy this rescue dog found us. 
Amigo, my buddy, my friend

Monday, October 14, 2019

Mischievous #Demons in Japanese #Folklore by Margaret L. Carter


Please welcome Margaret L. Carter to Muse Monday. Demons, spirits, and Japanese folklore. What a fascinating trip her muse has sent her on. Read and enjoy!

The Japanese word “yokai” can be translated as monster, demon, spirit, or other variations  of similar concepts. Not directly equivalent to any English word, it can also apply to ghosts, transformed humans and animals, minor gods, and many unclassifiable strange phenomena. “Demon” is misleading because it implies evil, and, although some yokai are malevolent and dangerous, many aren’t. Some are neutral toward humans, merely mischievous, or even benign.

Some well-known yokai often met in popular culture include kitsune (fox shapeshifters), tanuki (“raccoon dogs,” who, in their supernatural incarnation, have powerful shapeshifting abilities and a reputation as tricksters), tengu (crow-like people), kappa (water-dwelling goblins, often malicious), and spirit cats like the one in my novella “Yokai Magic.” Travelers should beware of demonic wolves that prowl on lonely roads or the yuki-onna, the seductive, lethal woman of the snow. Much more bizarre entities lurk in Japanese folklore, however. For instance, child ghosts called makuragaeshi are mainly known for flipping pillows, although they sometimes flip people around or sit on and suffocate them. The karakasa kozō looks like an umbrella that hops on one or two legs, has a single large eye, and sneaks up on people to lick them with its long tongue. Some ordinary household objects come to life after a century of existence. Called tsukumogami, they chastise owners who waste or damage them. The ittan-momen, a living roll of cotton cloth, tries to smother its victims. There’s even a creature, the akaname, whose sole purpose is to clean bathrooms. In Japan’s animistic traditions, you can find a yokai for almost anything.

Here’s one encyclopedic source of information about yokai:”>

Wikipedia has an extensive list:
Legendary Creatures from Japan

Book Blurb:

When Val unearths a Japanese scroll and a cat figurine inherited from her grandfather, magic invades her world. The statuette, actually a cat spirit named Yuki—a yokai—enchanted into that form for her own protection, comes to life. Over a century ago, an evil magician cast a curse on her, and a wolf-like demon conjured by the curse still hunts her. Because Val is the one who broke the protective spell, that dark magic endangers her, too. She must turn for help to the last person she wants to get involved with, her former high-school boyfriend, now an officer in the Navy. Together they search for a way to vanquish the threat from the spirit realm, while facing the attraction they thought they’d long since put behind them.

Buy Links: 

PG Excerpt:

“Toby, are you in there?” Val shuffled into the bathroom. No sign of the cat or any other living creature. She jumped at a noise from behind the shower curtain. Not a rustle so much as a slither.
The plastic rippled. She grasped the edge of it. “Toby?” She swept the curtain open.
A screech burst from her. She stumbled backward and collapsed on the bath mat, with a jarring thump to her rear end. “What on earth is that?”
A hunchbacked creature about two feet tall huddled in the tub. Brick-red, naked except for a ragged loincloth of the same color, it had a mop of stringy, black hair and elongated fingers and toes with nails like claws. It was licking the tile walls with a long, sinuous tongue like a frog’s. Its saucer-like, black eyes stared at her. With a stifled “eep!” it blinked out of existence.
Trembling, Val clutched the edge of the sink and hoisted herself upright. She scurried into the bedroom and dove under the covers like a child fleeing the boogeyman.
She lay there with her lids squeezed shut until her pulse slowed to normal. I did not see that. I did not. She opened her eyes and gazed into the darkness, softened only by the night light from the open bathroom door. “What is with these crazy dreams all of a sudden?”
“You are not dreaming.” The feminine voice sounded as if it came from somewhere in the middle of the room.
Val sat up with the sheet pulled to her neck. “Who’s there?” She switched on the bedside light.
A slender, white cat leaped onto the end of the bed. The animal had emerald-green eyes and wore a red scarf around her neck. “Greetings and profound thanks for your hospitality. I assure you this is not a dream.”
Val bent her knees to keep her feet out of the phantom feline’s reach. “Is too. I must be still asleep. If not, how did you get in the house?”
Demurely seated at the foot of the bed, the cat curled her tail around her paws. “I have always been here. I was bound to the magic of the scroll, and your blood released that magic.”

Friday, October 11, 2019

Fearless Friday Goes Nuclear with Charles Cranston Jett #submarine #topsecret


I am honored to have Charles Cranston Jett as my guest blogger today. Cold War, attack submarines, and the amazing top-secret part he played makes for exciting reading. Enjoy!

Young Naval officers are often exposed to some of the most sensitive secrets in our government. In particular, the US Naval Nuclear Submarine force carried out active engagements with the former Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell put it like this: “The most effective weapons system the United States had to bring an end to the former Soviet Union was the US Naval Nuclear Submarine force. The Polaris nuclear submarines (missile carriers) had a gun to their heads; and the nuclear attack submarines had ‘em by the balls.”

One of the most effective of these attack submarines was the 637 or “Sturgeon” class which made their appearance in the late 1960’s. I had the good fortune to be the Electric and Reactor Control Officer to build the USS Ray (SSN 653) and then served as the Operations Officer on the first three super-secret missions. Our boat was the first operational nuclear submarine of this class. The USS Ray is the “Super Nuke.”

What we did was classified at the top-secret code-word level, and I sat on these secrets for almost fifty years. With the permission and clearance of the US Navy, I published a memoir about the contributions of this magnificent ship to the rest of the nuclear submarine force both as a tribute to a brilliant crew, to motivate young people to enter the Naval nuclear power service, and to show the US taxpayer that their money was well spent.
When “Super Nuke” was published, it rose to #1 on the Amazon best seller list for Cold War biographies and remained in that position for over two months.

The story told is how I, as a young Naval office, created a new concept of training for deploying nuclear submarines in both the Atlantic and Pacific, created a still-classified plotting technique called the “Geo Plot” to successfully perform close-in surveillance of the Soviet submarines, and created the tactical doctrine for the deployment of the secret electronic and communications intelligence system from the nuclear submarine platform.

I wasn’t given the task to do this – but rather did it on my own and took the immense risk of bypassing some of my superior officers with the concept – mainly because they did not have the clearance to know what I was doing.

In the end, the program I created was immensely successful and became submarine force wide – and, as some say, “A little part of the ‘Super Nuke’ went along with every nuclear submarine deployment during the cold war.” What I created is now a major flag command.

Charles Cranston Jett has authored six books – four are non-fiction and two are historical fiction.  Non-fiction includes: WANTED: Eight Critical Skills You Need to Succeed;” “The Doom Loop;” “Field Studies.” And the historical fiction books include: “Bess;” and “Bess II.” The “Bess series” is about a young, 21 year old single and gay woman who, in 1908, ventures to far southwestern North Dakota, homesteads, and builds a large ranch. She fights the dangers of the early west, copes with her feelings and sexuality, and endures the prejudices about religion and being gay during a time when that was taboo.

You can find out more about Charles at

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Tips and Myths #ThursdayThoughts #MythBusters

I'm mindless today. If left to myself, I'd post a blank page. So, I did what every stumped writer does and turned to the Internet. I found some pretty interesting myth busting.

Sharks don't get cancer...
Actually, they do and in particular skin cancer. Aw, no sunscreen in the ocean.

Different tastes are experienced by different sections of the tongue...
Nope. Whether salty or bitter or spicy or sour, there is no special section of the tongue for each taste.

Do not wake a sleep walker. You'll do them damage...
Better to wake them. They might be confused, but at least they won't walk off that cliff.

Napoleon was a shorty...
The average height for men in his day was just under 5'7". Napoleon came in at 5'7", so he was really
kind of tall for his time.

Drop your cookie on the floor? The five-second rule will save your food...
Probably not, unless the floor is really, really clean. The contamination is determined by how dirty the floor is and how long you leave the food on it.

The red cape flashed at a bull is why he charges...
The movement might anger him, but not the color. Bulls are color blind.

You can see the amazing wall of China when coasting in a spaceship above the earth...

Bananas grow on trees...
This one surprised me. They grow on arborescent (tree-like) perennial herbs. The banana plant being an herb makes the banana actually a berry.

Put a little oil in the water when boiling spaghetti to keep it from sticking together...
That isn't really what happens. It will keep the water from foaming or boiling over.

A common saying "blind as a bat" is a saying for a reason...
Well, I don't know the reason, but bats are not blind. They not only see, but also use echolocation.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Identifying with the Characters by Susan A. Royal #WickedWednesday


A little wicked (klutzy) fun with my guest Susan A. Royal.

I relate to my characters. Or maybe they relate to me. Whatever way you look at it, they’re usually clumsy, if not hopeless klutzes like me. They aren’t what you’d call athletic. And that usually leads to funny scenes.

Like the one with Lara and the Burdahs. She’d been riding behind Rhys for hours and fell asleep with her head against his shoulder. That was embarrassing enough because they’d been like oil and water since they met. Burdahs are approximately the size of Clydesdales, and Lara had no experience riding.

“With a death grip on the back of the oversized saddle, I straightened and scooted
back, leaving as much distance between the two of us as possible without falling
off the Burdah.

He dismounted and handed me the reins, joining Azle on the edge of a
precipice with a view of the entire valley below. My heart stuttered when the
Burdah shifted beneath me. What if the animal gets spooked and runs away with
me? My panic made the ground seem even further away.

Without letting go of the reins, I gripped the saddle horn, swung my leg over it,
and slid off the animal’s back. My feet hit the ground with a thud, leaving me
staggering to keep from falling on my face. Both Burdahs swung their heads
around, fixing me with what could only be expressions of amusement.
I jabbed a finger in their direction. ‘Don’t even think about laughing.’”
Things like this happened to me so many times in my life. I’ve learned to laugh about them and go on. Just like Lara. Read In My Own Shadow and you’ll see.

In My Own Shadow

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Friday, October 4, 2019

In the Book: #Audiobook Excitement #romance

When you read a book, do you hear the voices? I do. If a writer is skilled in character development, those people come to life in my head, not only what they look like but also what they sound like. So when I decided to turn my books into audio books, choosing a narrator was most difficult. One voice has to interpret several characters. I've been very lucky with my two choices.

All four of the books I have in audio are free right now in exchange for a review. Leave a comment here for a code or email me at I'd love to give you a free code. You don't have to have an account with Audible to download them. Go to this link if you'd like to hear a clip of each book:

Now that I'm preparing to get book four in my Love and Murder Series to audio early next year, I'm excited to once again have Holly Holt bring my story to life. This interview is from June. But in case you missed it...

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 MurderSouthwest 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 there's a link to my Audible page above also.

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