Thursday, July 30, 2020

Reading and #Reviews (Dean, Hubbard, Garner)

I'm a writer, but I'm also a reader. Each month, I'll share with you what I'm reading and reviews of past reads. 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. I've just about finished Kiss the Girls by James Patterson. Lovin' it. This is one of those crime books that was made into a movie. I really enjoyed the movie and the book is every bit as good. Besides Crime Novels, I read Romantic Suspense, 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!

Precarious: Martini Club 4 by Alicia Dean
Romantic Suspense Novelette 
I love all things 1940s so this story attracted me from the beautiful cover to the title. And the read met my expectations of an Alicia Dean story. Iris Taggart is engaged to one of the wealthiest men in Boston…her mother’s dream, not hers. When she reunites with an old friend, a WWII hero and now a detective, her doubts grow stronger. Lucky they find each other again when a killer has Iris on his victim list. It’s a fun romance in the romantic 40s.

Adirondack Mountain Mystery Series by S.W. Hubbard
This is a three book bundled series. The third book is a short story anthology.

Police Chief Frank Bennett patrols the not-so-mean streets of Trout Run, New York, an idyllic town nestled in the rugged Adirondack Mountains. 

The Lure
Police Chief Frank Bennett has his hands full when a group of environmental activists shows up in Trout Run trying to close down Raging Rapids, a popular tourist attraction. But of course there is murder to deal with.

Blood Knot
When a tough-love school for troubled teens opens its doors in Trout Run, Frank Bennett worries about the arrival of so many juvenile delinquents on his turf. Sabotage and murder follow.

Dead Drift
Frank Bennett investigates three puzzling crimes in these short mysteries with big twists.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books. Frank Bennett is a homespun character, and I have a little crush on him. He has two sidekicks, a younger man who is in training to be a cop and the older female secretary. It’s small town and delightful. I could see the scenery, got to know the townspeople, and the mystery and suspense kept me going. The short stories were enjoyable although not as good as the full-length stories.

Hunted by Marissa Garner
Romantic Suspense 
Catching bad guys in San Diego's underworld isn't just FBI Special Agent Ben Alfren's job, it's his life. He doesn't have time for a serious relationship, doesn't want one either. So when he meets his sexy new neighbor, Amber Jollett, he has nothing more in mind than unwinding with a glass of wine, a romantic walk on the beach...and maybe a hot fling. Not only do they get caught up in each other, but also a human trafficking ring.

Passion and danger kept me reading this romantic suspense. You’ll love it.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Friends and #Friendship for Muse Monday by CJ Zahner


If we have one really good friend in life, someone who we can always rely on, and we would walk to the ends of earth for, we can count ourselves really lucky. CJ has a great post today on friendship and real life experience adding to our fiction. Enjoy!

Good friends are blessings. Most women have at least one person they can truly rely on. I call  
these people “comfort” friends. You trust them enough to confess your inner thoughts and secrets to. You’re comfortable with them. Honest. They totally have your back. Admit anything, they won’t judge you.
I am blessed with a supportive circle of friends who have helped me walk every step of the way through life. Being married and raising a family while working full-time was stressful. Having friends who were simply a phone call away, helped me get through some of life’s toughest days.
Hence, I wanted to write a story about friendship.
Friends Who Move Couches was inspired by true-life events in both my life and in my friend’s lives. Yet many aspects are different. First and utmost, because this is fiction, I spiced my life up and married myself off to a man who cheated on me. It is true that I do come from a small family and am frivolously addicted to friendship, but thankfully, I married Jeff Zahner, not Mark Grey (the husband in my book). Throughout my thirty-eight-year marriage to Jeff, I often wondered how many men would so easily smirk and shake their heads at my escapades. But Jeff and I have been faithful to each other since the day we met. (He assures me I can state this. He does not want to end up a character in one of my thrillers.)
All of my novels are somewhat inspired by my life but Friends Who Move Couches is the closest I can come to a memoir. It reflects my experiences with raising three children, dealing with Alzheimer’s, suffering health issues, and the main topic, surviving the loss of friendship. I believe, because so many chapters were based on real-life trials and tribulations of friendship and motherhood, readers resonated with and related to Nikki.
Most of the characters are real. In fact, one of my best friends who is mentioned in the book, Carol Crandall, is the model in my ad Friends Who Move Couches, do we really need them?

Nikki Grey's idea of living dangerously is not wearing a seatbelt, yet calamity always seems to find her.
Friends Who Move Couches is a laugh-out-loud yet insightful story about life, friendship, quieting your inner critic, and surviving rejection.
Married to a workaholic, mothering three rebellious kids, and feuding with neighborhood friends, Nikki Grey forgets her problems one afternoon by smoking marijuana. That blunder ignites a lifelong yet dormant medical condition, and she loses her driver’s license. Suddenly stranded in her home, she’s forced to stare out the window at women who have ostracized her.
Her true friends encourage her to concentrate on her health, but Nikki is her own nemesis. She embarks on a scheme to win back neighborhood friends and plunges into efforts that only end in muddying her reputation. She becomes the butt of neighborhood jokes.
Foolishly, her ache to mend her broken relationships escalates.
Not until her two-timing husband asks her a question that catapults her frivolous suburban life into a tailspin, is she forced to stop reaching for others, stand on her own, and decide: Who should she keep in her life and who should she kick to the curb?


Evy opens a folder he’s brought along. “I’ll draw the list of good friends. Those who move bodies.”
He hands me the paper. “You write down friends who stab you in the back, like Ellie, on your list.”
“Why am I a bad friend?” Ellie squeals.
“Because your mouth runneth amok.”
“Nikki, am I a good friend?”
“A very good friend,” I say. I write Friends Who Move Couches on the top of my list and enter Natasha’s name beside the number one.
Evy drops his pen and stares at me.
“What?” I react. “I’m not putting Ellie on the bad list.”
He stands up, points a finger, and taps the top of my paper. “What does this mean? Friends who move couches?”
“That’s the saying. Which kind of friend are you? A friend who moves a couch or a friend who moves a body?”
“My God, save them from themselves. The saying is ‘A good friend will help you move, but a true friend will help you move a body.’ No mention of couches. Has that seizure crashed your memory?”
“What? It’s not friends who move couches?”
“No! No couches.”

Contact Links:


Links for Purchase


Friday, July 24, 2020

Fearless Jump into Family Law by Alana Lorens #FearlessFriday #Lawyers #CareerMode


What an interesting life Alana Lorens has had to date. Talk about fearless. Enjoy this edition of Fearless Friday.

In the 1980s, I was living a good life as a journalist, reporter and associate editor of The South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Florida. Divorced, I was the custodian of two daughters, ages 4 and 2. One of the cities I covered was Florida City, which is the very last place before the Florida Keys. The city attorney became a good friend, and one day he suggested I attend law school.

I’d been feeling a little frustration in my work, since I could often expose some wrong that needed righting, but I really couldn’t take action. A lawyer can take action, though. So I started thinking about it.

Now you don’t just decide, hey I’m going to law school today and show up. I had to take the LSAT entrance exam. It was tough, and I figured I’d been excluded. But I actually did very well.
So then I applied to the closest school, the University of Miami. I got in. Wow. This was getting serious.

U of M is a private school and pretty expensive, so I figured I probably couldn’t afford to go. Other state law schools existed, but I’d have to move the girls far from their father, and I really didn’t want to do that. So I applied for financial aid and all the trimmings, including something in extremely-limited on-campus housing.

I got it.

At that point, I had to stop and compile the data and choose.

I chose to go. With all these factors coming in hard in my favor, it seemed like the way fate was leading me. I quit my job and went to school full time, since I had the girls—we all went to school/preschool in the day, and studied at night.

Sure, we had to apply for food stamps the first year, since I couldn’t get work-study until second year.
It was hard, being a single parent and competing against a bunch of young kids with too much money and nothing to burden them other than the books. I will never forget the conversation I overheard between two young women wailing over being only able to buy one pair of shoes for $95 on sale. That was our grocery allotment for two weeks! But I made it through—I should say WE made it through.

I practiced family law for 30 years, first in Florida, then in Pennsylvania. Family law is tough work, too, dealing with people going through what is likely the worst time of their life, whether it’s divorce, custody or dealing with Child Services. During the latter half of my practice, I returned to my first love of writing, creating The Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series of novels, including CONVICTION OF THE HEART, which is the story of a Pittsburgh single-mom lawyer and her two daughters. It’s a book that is close to my heart, because it’s close to my life.

So my scary leap into the unknown is something I’ll never regret. What I learned practicing law about people—that’s what feeds my knowledge to create all the characters I’ve written over the years. I’d probably even do it again—if I had to. J

Family law attorney Suzanne Taylor understands her clients' problems--her own husband left her with two babies to raise alone. Now that they're teenagers, her life is full. The last thing she wants is the romantic attentions of a police lieutenant, no matter how good-looking.

Lt. Nick Sansone is juggling the demands of a new promotion and doesn't need complications either. But when he sends a councilman's battered wife to Suzanne for help, he realizes he wants to connect with the lovely, prickly lawyer on more than a professional level.

They are soon confronted with a different battle when the abused woman's husband threatens retribution. The powerful, well-connected councilman can damage both their careers--not to mention hurt those they love. Can they bend enough to admit they need each other in a time of crisis? Or will a husband's revenge take them down before they ever get a chance?


Even the loneliest heart can't withstand the power of magic.

Where love and danger intersect....

Monday, July 13, 2020

Yummy Cookie Cozy Mystery by Karen Cino #CozyMystery


Please welcome Karen Cino to Muse Monday. The only thing better than eating cookies is to read a fun cozy mystery where lots of cookie eating is involved.

Christmas cookies have only been made for Christmas. But in the Cookie Cutter Cozy Mystery Series, amateur sleuth Connie brings those cookies to you all year round. When Connie’s husband gets arrested, she divorces him and goes to live at the fifty-five and older community down at the New Jersey Shore. Fulfilling her childhood dream with best friend, Sara, she starts her own cookie business out of an illegal kitchen they had built in half of a two-car garage. 

The cookies took off, not only in the book, but also in my house. I try once a week to bake a double batch of cookies that I love sharing with my family, friends and neighbors. Everyone loves the fact that they can enjoy those special cookies all year long.

I came up with the idea for this series because of my love of baking. And I thought it would be fun for two senior characters to not only start their own business, but also get involved in solving crimes that take place around the community they are residing in. This came from my years of investigative reporting.

I love writing about the culinary arts and especially about middle-aged women starting over. My characters are quirky, and they will make you not only laugh out loud but make your mouth water with the baked goods.

BLURB Book 5

Connie and Sara are preparing to bring cookie samples for the men's club Thanksgiving dinner. An explosion at the water towers sends the women running to the scene. After visiting Kent and taking his order, Connie and Sara go down to the water tower to see if they can find out what caused the explosion. A few hours later, while Connie and Brett are at dinner, they receive a call that Kent is dead after eating Connie's cookies. It is up to Sara to track down the killer to clear Connie of the murder. Who said that two women sleuths living in a fifty-five and older community can't get into trouble?


Connie Acosta and Sara Mazza made a mad dash following Police Detectives Warren Crawford and Brett Harper to the water tower where an explosion had rocked the house. Since both men were athletic with long muscular legs, they reached the tower quickly. Being totally out of shape, the women had to stop running to catch their breath. 

“I think you’re right in saying we need to go to the gym,” Sara said, gasping for air.

“I’ve been telling you this since I’ve moved down here. I was never a runner, but I used to walk five miles a day when I lived in Staten Island.”

Sara waved her off. “Everyone is running toward the explosion. Let’s see if anyone is running away from it. Maybe we can find a clue.”

“Oh, no.” Connie waved her finger back and forth. “I’m not going down that road again. We keep getting involved in these investigations, which lead to us always getting ourselves in a dangerous situation. Maybe this time we can pass.”

“Absolutely not.” Sara took hold of her arm and pulled her forward. “I see Warren.” She jumped up and down, waving, trying to catch his attention. “Come on, let’s make our way to the towers.” Sara stepped in water and it splashed all over Connie. “Where the hell did this come from?”

“I have no idea. It’s trickling down the path.”

“Oh shit. Water is gushing faster down the path. What the hell is going on?”

Connie followed Sara as she weeded through the crowd of seniors. She couldn’t believe Sara was dragging her into something else. Taking a quick glance at her watch, time was of the essence as she had a meeting with Kent Steelburg, coordinator of events for the Men’s Club, in less than a half hour.

Fire trucks and three ambulances made their way with their sirens blaring. Connie watched as the people moved to the right, standing in the dirt which had turned to mud, to let the emergency vehicles through. Out of the corner of her eye, Connie saw Sara’s friend Hannah standing in water which covered her ankles. She snickered to herself, not particularly liking Hannah.

“Connie, do you know what’s going on?” Carol called after her.

Connie turned around and watched Carol walk through the water up to her. “Not at all. Sara is probably talking to Warren, finding out what is going on. All I know is that the explosion shook the whole house. Warren and Brett were over and we dashed out the door.”

“So, did I. I left the reception desk and knew I would run into you and Sara. Of course, the usual cast
of characters are here. Funny how the only time they move fast is when there is food and an incident taking place.” Carol slid a cigarette out of her pocket and lit up. “I’m going to head back. Nothing good is going on here except lots of water.”

“I’m waiting for Sara to return so I can go home.”

“If my husband looked anything like Warren with his dreamy olive eyes, I wouldn’t be leaving his side either. I’ll catch you later.”

Connie backed away from the crowd as the water slowed down to a trickle. The crowd thinned out as she spotted Sara coming with Warren and Brett. Meeting Brett had been one of the best things that happened to her. He was so unlike her ex who had turned out to be what she called a “man-ho.” She was still on guard with Brett, and wasn’t ready to give him her whole self. These past months had been spent redefining what she wanted out of life. Going into the cookie/dessert business with Sara had been something she had always wanted to do.

“Hey sweetheart.” Brett wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Let’s get you home.”

“What happened?”

“Someone blew up the water tanks. The first tank, the water just flushed out and the second one, got a piece of metal stuck in it. The pressure caused the second one to cave.”

“That is our water source,” Sara explained. “Whoever did this has just cut off our water supply.”

“Could it be someone sending a message? Because there was no reason whatsoever to do that,” Connie said.

“Hold on you two,” Warren said, stopping at Sara’s driveway. “Don’t start reading more into this. No one has gotten hurt or killed. Once the water completely stops, the investigators will check out the tanks and find out the cause of the explosion.”

“My intuition tells me someone is ticked off about something and this was their way of paying them back,” Brett said.

“It had to be someone from management or the board of trustees. We keep getting letters in the mail for the stupidest things. We already received the warning letter about putting up Christmas decorations early,” Sara added.

“People are already getting disgusted. What’s the difference if we put up our Christmas tree or lights before Thanksgiving? It’s in our house. And they have the nerve to say if we have our decorations up to keep our blinds closed. That’s such bull.”

“On that note we are leaving you ladies. I have paperwork to do,” Warren explained. “I keep putting it off, but the boss wants it done by the end of my shift. So, let’s hope this is the last call we have to go out on.”

“I have to get ready for my meeting with Kent Steelburg. I have the cookies done. All I have left to do is sprinkle powdered sugar over them.”

“Yummy. What kind of cookies did you make?” Brett asked, licking his lips.

“Linzer tarts. Kent specifically asked for them. He told me he had tasted my other cookies. But for this men’s club event, he wanted to serve something different. He talked about putting the cookies in a pyramid. I don’t think he realizes how many cookies we’re talking about, especially since he wants others too,” Connie explained.

“Good luck. I’ll be back after my shift. I hoped we could grab dinner.”

“Sounds great.” Connie stood on her tippy-toes and gave him a peck on his lips. “I look forward to it.”

Warren stepped up to Sara and hugged her. “I’ll see you later.”
Karen Cino  Bio
Karen Cino is a multi-published author who has been writing since she was fourteen years old. She started her career by writing poetry, short stories and writing articles for her high school newspaper. After reading Jackie Collin’s Lovers and Gamblers and Jacqueline Susann’s, Valley of the Dolls, Karen found her niche. Karen loves writing about local places that people can relate to.
Karen loves the summer, loves the beach. Her previous books were written and took place in various locations in Staten Island. Her Cookie Cutter Cozy Mystery Series takes place at the New Jersey Shore.
Karen is a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America. 

Karen Cino Social Media

Amazon Author Page:
Facebook Author Page:

Friday, July 10, 2020

Write What You Know...or Learn #Inspiration #writing

There's an adage in the writing world "write what you know." I'm going to assume the knowing can come from research. Having never murdered anyone or fought for ranch land or pointed a gun at a naked man, I have to rely on research...and a vivid imagination.

However, I do use characteristics of people I know and experiences I've had as well as the experiences of people who populate my non-fiction life.

My brother told me a story many years ago of a miserable night he spent in a dumpy motel, broke and scratching out a living in his tile-laying days. At the time, I'm sure he didn't find the experience funny, but when he told me the story, I got a good laugh. I knew I had to eventually use it in a book.

In The Power of Love and Murder, Jake Winters is an ex-rocker, scratching out a living laying tile. I plopped him down in my brother's story at the beginning of the fourth book of my Love and Murder Series. It's one of those funny-sad scenes I love to incorporate in my novels.

In a half-hour, naked, he slipped into bed, opened his book, and closed his mind to money woes as he began his ten-minute meditation. Relaxed, he focused on the book.

Sometime later, he jerked awake and knocked the book from his chest. He was freezing. Pulling the sheet and blanket over his head didn’t stop the chill that reached all the way to his toes. Silence. No click, click, bonk noise of the heater. He slid one arm out, brought his cell under the covers, and pushed a button. Four twelve a.m. Reluctantly, he turned on the lamp, shivered out of bed, and padded three feet to the heater. He leaned over and shut it off then turned it on. Punched low, high, and fan-only buttons over and over, then pounded on the plastic top. “Son of a…” Switching off and on once more got no results. His toes were iced by the outside air flowing under the door. He grabbed his jeans off the chair and stuffed them along the bottom of the door then climbed back under the covers.

The thin blanket and sheet were no match for the drop in temperature. After fifteen minutes of trying to think warm, he had an idea. Out of bed, he jogged to the bathroom and turned the shower to hot, full blast. Immediately, the air around him warmed. The chill on his skin subsided before he headed back to bed and yanked off the sheet, blanket, and pillow. He slipped on his shirt and underwear and carried the bedding back to the bathroom.

The floor looked kind of nasty, but the sheet, doubled over next to the shower, covered the old linoleum. Wrapping the blanket around him, he settled on top, bumped his knees on the wall, and hunched his shoulders to fit. Good thing he wasn’t a particularly big man. His legs were long on his five-foot ten frame and difficult to fold small enough, like a stork squeezing into a wren’s nest. Hopefully, the running, hot water would keep him warm enough to get a few more hours of sleep.

“Ass wipe.” The curse, directed at his shyster boss, muffled into his pillow. Another curse at himself for all the wrong decisions he’d made that landed him in this position didn’t fully form on his lips. Instead, he recited Step Ten. Continue the personal inventory. What the hell…this might be a crummy hotel, and he was cold and tired, but he felt every shivering, crappy moment of it. Not that a shot of Chopin Vodka to warm him didn’t cross his mind. He would’ve had several and a few snorts this time last year. And wouldn’t have felt the cold…or the hard floor…or much of anything else. Thoughts of a few nights in crummy hotels when his band, Flash Theory, struggled to make a name for themselves played in his head. That brought him
wondering about Ian, the English drummer who shared his arrest date. “Bugger you, Ian.” The profanity he’d adopted from the Englishman rolled over his tongue with a smile. He hadn’t contacted his favorite band mate and best friend since sobriety. They weren’t a good influence on each other. Maybe one of these days…

About an hour and a half later, Jake woke, cold again and his legs cramping. He pulled his knees to his chest and rolled toward the bathroom door, glancing at the ceiling. “What the…” Strips of paint hung like confetti from a New Year’s Eve party. Had the ceiling looked like that last night?

He scrambled to his feet, tangled in the blanket, and tripped on the sheet bunching on the floor. Catching himself on the back of the toilet, his hip hit the bar on the shower door. “Ow!” After turning off the now cold shower water, he extricated his legs from the bedding and surveyed the ceiling again. “Ah, man.” Surely he hadn’t caused that. The place was a dump. Yeah, probably already peeling long before he turned on the shower. The time had come to flee the motel from hell.

After throwing the blanket and sheet on the bed, he brushed his teeth, and smoothed his beard with a comb. He ran a brush through his hair as he squinted into the cloudy mirror above the sink. Dark curls fell onto his forehead in spite of his effort, and he shrugged, turning from the poor excuse of a mirror. He stuffed his toiletries in the duffle, then loped to the door and retrieved his jeans from the floor.

His frozen jeans. Damp air combined with below freezing wind from under the door had rendered his pants stiff.

So, next time you're reading a book, you just might be getting a peek into the author's life. 

You can find all of my novels at many on line stores, one of which is, of course, Amazon:

Many of my books are on Audible now too: 

Audible UK

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Wicked Few Weeks by Dee S. Knight #WickedWednesday #CharacterDesign


Dee S. Knight is always a welcomed guest on Discover... And all of her split personalities have a home here too!

Happy Wicked Wednesday, everyone!

Like many of you, I’ve spent the last few weeks watching the news on TV and witnessing the horror of brutality and then the horror of the reaction to it. By the reaction, I mean the destruction of businesses, livelihoods, and monuments. It has been indeed—in my mind—more than a Wicked Wednesday. It’s been a Wicked-Few-Weeks. It reminded me of our writing.

Many people say that America is rotten to the core because of our past. They want to destroy the past—remove certain names from schools, from our view, from our memories. They say the country has baggage. When we write, every main character we create has baggage—something from their past that they did or said or were part of that they’d like to forget. Maybe the character has tried to make amends in some ways, but that one historical time or act haunts him. What do we do as writers? We don’t let them forget. We make them face that baggage and address it. We make the character learn from the mistake by doing something that matters. We don’t claim the character is evil or worthless or unredeemable. That’s against the soul of a writer. It’s against the soul of a country, too.

We don’t have characters erase the past, we have them understand it and act in some meaningful way to make things better. Erasing the past means letting go of the chance to learn and redeem ourselves. I think there’s always a way to correct a past action, but we have to have dialogue to do it, not denial of all that came before us, and destruction/rewriting of our history means our future “characters” have no basis to do so. That is wicked to me.

I hope this post doesn’t offend anyone. I’m just old enough to know that one open discussion will do more than spray painting graffiti on buildings or burning our past and present symbols. With age does come some wisdom…

In my book (written as Anne Krist), the main character, Sara, committed a huge mistake in her past. She tried to erase what she’d done, but I made her face her past and do something to correct her error. It’s the only way she can go forward. It’s not easy to do it—she has to cross bridges she thought she’d burned in order to get in a good place.

Burning Bridges
Letters delivered decades late send shock waves through Sara Richards’s world. Nothing is the same, especially her memories of Paul, a man to whom she'd given her heart years before. Now, sharing her secrets and mending her mistakes of the past means putting her life back together while crossing burning bridges. It will be the hardest thing Sara’s ever done.

Author Anne Krist:
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.

After a while, Dee split her personality into thirds. She writes as Anne Krist for sweeter romances, and Jenna Stewart for ménage and shifter stories. All three of her personas are found on the Nomad Authors website. Also, once a month, look for Dee’s Charity Sunday blog posts, where your comment can support a selected charity.

Anne Krist is the “sister” to erotic romance author Dee S. Knight. She is quieter, more reserved, and certainly more circumspect about S-E-X than her wild and crazy sibling. Thus she’s more comfortable writing sweet(er) romance, where there might be a few sensual scenes, but no more than that. One thing about Anne: she’s not more romantic than Dee. They both write in happily ever after and share the solid belief that love can last forever and beyond!

Author links: