Monday, December 28, 2020

Torch Song or Operatic Soprano by E. W. Cooper


I have a treat for you today, Readers. Please welcome my guest, E.W. Cooper, with an interesting guest post. Read on and enjoy! 

I had a lot of reasons for making the heroine of my historical mystery an operatic soprano, but that’s another blog entry altogether. It would have been much better to make Penelope Harris a torch singing flapper down on her luck. Trust me—I thought about it.

Dip into the history torch singers and you will find the Queen of them all - Helen Morgan. She practically invented the torch song, slowing the beat down and hypnotizing her audiences with her control and her range. And what did Ms. Morgan want to be when she travelled all the way from Illinois with dreams of making it big in New York City? That’s right, she wanted to sing opera. In fact, she was a trained soprano who had a career before she came to New York.

A good number of articles will tell you she wanted to sing in a cabaret. Don’t believe it. She had the bug. Helen Morgan studied at the New York Metropolitan Opera and kept her act at the Speakeasies on the quiet. Until she was signed by Rogers and Hammerstein, Ms. Morgan had her eye on an operatic career. 

Sopranos weren’t just popular; they drew crowds of thousands. Geraldine Farrar, a soprano at the Met, stopped traffic when thousands of her enthusiastic young female fans (called “Gerry Flappers”) flooded the streets, surrounded her car, and wouldn’t leave until she stood on the running board and sang an aria from Manon. In 1915, Ms. Farrar made the first film rendition of an opera - Carmen. It was a silent film. House managers across the U.S. reported back that the melodies were so well known that audiences sang along to the pianist – in French.

In the end, giving my heroine an aspiration to take the stage as an operatic soprano made sense. It made even more sense when you consider the operas themselves. Bloodthirsty fathers, mad daughters, secret affairs of the heart, ruin, murder, robbery, criminal activity—Grand Opera has it all. When I put Penelope together with her career and her talent, a germinating idea took flight. I started with one story which grew into another, then another until I can hardly bring myself to stop. The groundwork was all there, all I had to do was put the characters on the stage and begin to write.​ 

It took no time at all for The Jade Tiger to take shape – a cautious young woman with good intentions and a dark past who would like nothing better than to start fresh, a former policeman who lost his heart and has no inclination to get it back from the woman he loves, and a blackmailer there to spoil both their dreams. Set in the glittering rot of excessive wealth and staggering privilege, the characters of The Jade Tiger found their rhythm and I found my story – starring an operatic soprano.  

Excerpt from The Jade Tiger: 

Quand je vous aimerai?” Powerful enough to reach through the large crowd to the foyer, the voice struck all but a few in the crowd mute. She needed no announcement of quiet, no clap to silence the conversation. As Penelope cast her gaze across the crowded room, she captured their attention with a raw display of stage presence. Before their eyes, she transformed from a faceless member of New York society to a dangerous French street apache, from Penelope to Carmen. She stood with her hands loose, head bent low, eyes hidden by the shadow of her wild white-blonde hair. Her stance squared off with the crowd, facing them off as if in a knife fight.  Though she sang in French, Lund heard only the English translation, as he did whenever he heard her sing Carmen. When am I going to love you?

“Damnit, she could have given me some warning!” James exclaimed. Thoughtfully depositing his empty coupe on the mantel, he crossed the room in three quick strides, took the Amazing Gilberto by the collar, and roughly deposited him on the Axminster. Gilberto rolled over backward and sat up to stare at the wild thing at Lund’s side. Penelope looked at him once and dismissed him entirely. Returning her attention to the crowd, she took them in as James’s fingers found the right keys. The room was so quiet Lund could hear her footsteps on the carpet.

With imperious carriage of careening charisma, Penelope stepped forward, walking Renee backward across the floor until she was forced to move out of the way, almost tripping on the train of her dress. Charles caught Renee before she fell, never taking his eyes from Penelope. Renee’s eyes followed Penelope with a dark hatred. And fear, Lund thought. Yes, that too.

Penelope reached the piano. When am I going to love you? My word, I don’t know. Her eyes passed over the crowd, falling here and there with deliberate review. Penelope swayed, then laughed. Perhaps never? Perhaps tomorrow? She lifted her hands to the rapt audience as if to ask, then let them fall, disappointed. She stood back, her body relaxed, and her face appeared intent as she spoke the last line. It had the finality of a death sentence. But not today, that’s for certain.

James picked out notes on the piano one at a time. Most singers rushed into the Habanera like mad dancers pounding their heels into the ground with the click, click, click of a rising tempest. Always there were drums and trumpets and loud clashes of cymbals. The beat of Penelope’s Habanera was slow. She put one hand on the piano and began again to sing. The words came out like a jeering child at first, then dangerous, cooing, then seductive. She stared at Renee and smiled wide, her teeth white against her lips. Releasing Renee from her gaze, she found Lund.

Lund stared back. He forgot to blink. 


The Jade Tiger blurb: 

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 1928. The Big Apple teems with the glitter of Bright Young Things, Prohibition, and scofflaws—the perfect place for Penelope Harris to start her life over.

As a former opera singer turned Shanghai nightclub owner, she’s seen and done a lot, maybe too much. With any luck, she’ll leave more than The Jade Tiger casino behind her—along with a murdered husband, a blackmailing torch singer, and Thom Lund, the former policeman who stole her heart. But Penelope has never had that kind of luck; her past is already waiting for her in New York.

When someone murders her chiseling blackmailer at an out-of-control party and Thom accused of the crime, Penelope must face down her darkest memories to prove his innocence. Is the murderer her cousin Charles, suckered into a hasty marriage by Penelope’s blackmailer? Or is it Penelope’s over-protective mother, who can’t remember a thing after a blow to the head? Or was it Thom after all, ready to commit murder to save Penelope from the blackmailer’s wicked plans?

Among the opulent mansions of the obscenely wealthy and the grit of a Hell’s Kitchen speakeasy, Penelope and Thom must navigate double-crosses, bad liquor, bootleggers, and dark, obsessive love to find the murderer before the past reaches out to put a noose around their necks. 

Murder at the Met: Publish date Spring 2021:

November 1928, New York City. No one can keep a secret like high society – especially when that secret is murder.

There are two things Penelope Harris would rather do than get involved with another murder—sing opera and flirt with Thom Lund. When two tickets ensure Penelope and Thom get some precious time together at the Metropolitan opera, neither believes another murder will interrupt their romantic evening.

Fate has a different plan. Before the night is over a failed manufacturing tycoon is found dead at the bottom of a staircase, his poisoned and dying daughter nearby. Is it an accident? Suicide? Or murder? When a fellow soprano pleads for help, Penelope just can’t help her inquisitive nature.

As Penelope pulls back the cover on a diabolical crime, Lund rushes to complete the investigation of a suicide on the Gold Coast of Long Island. What they find will uncover the sordid underbelly of high society and put Penelope on the wrong side of her own gun.


Twitter: @ewc_cooper


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Reading and #Reviews (Patterson, Benson, King)

I'm a writer, but I'm also a reader. Each month, I'll share with you reviews of present and past reads. My available time to read is limited because I write, but I love to curl up with a paperback or an eBook at night for the last hour of my day.

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. Besides Romantic Suspense, I read crime and law novels, once in a while a true story, WWII historicals, mysteries, and main stream character driven books.

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! 

Jack and Jill
by James Patterson

 Crime Mystery

I really enjoy the Alex Cross series but must admit this one was not one of my favorites. He seemed to be trying to cross-sell some of the other books in the series by mentioning the villains from other stories. The way he wove together two murder stories, one about a child killer and one about Jack and Jill who are out to murder the president, was interesting. I can’t put my finger on why this one didn’t have the same punch as other Alex Cross stories. Still, it was an entertaining read, and I enjoyed it.


Blood and Silver
by Vali Benson

 YA Historical

This is a young adult novel about a twelve-year-old girl in 1880 Tombstone, Arizona. It’s a story of childhood friendship. It’s a story of the bravery of a young girl, Carissa Beaumont. Young readers from the ages of twelve and older will enjoy the brave adventures of Carissa. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger children as the subject matter deals with brothel life and drug addiction. It is evident Ms. Benson did her homework on the era and the city of Tombstone.


Skeletons on the Zahara
by Dean King

 True Life Adventure

I read this book several years ago. The story is one that remains with me today. This is a true story of twelve American sailors who were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and subjected to a hellish two-month journey through the perilous heart of the Sahara. This is a gripping story, at times gross with reality. But it’s a story of courage, brotherhood, and survival. In the end, what happened to those who survived is also revealed. Good touch.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Love/Hate Relationships are the Strongest of All Bonds #WickedWednesday by Jodi Rath


Help me welcome back Jodi Rath. Always fun and this post is a treat! Think about all those wickedly trying and wickedly fun holidays with family.

The holiday season sure can bring out some extreme emotions. The family is gathered around the fireplace when Aunt Gillian pops in. Everyone yells, “Happy Holidays!” but some in the family sincerely wish good ole Aunt Gill a happy holiday, while others say it with a vengeance, remembering the time Gill one-upped them by buying little Sally her first bouncy ball. Others have that love/hate relationship with Gillian—she did marry Grandma’s son after all—Grandma knows better than anyone that Gillian is NOT good enough for her little Billy and never will be, yet Gillian did provide me, her beloved granddaughter.

Ah family . . . the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the holiday novella, Yuletide Cast of the Iron Skillet, Jolie goes for a holiday stroll through her hometown of Leavensport, Ohio every year. But this year, she is going with her beau, Mick Meiser. He is finally doing much better after his most recent MS flare-up. She’s looking forward to the double wedding coming up for her BFF, Ava, with her fiancé, Delilah, and her Grandma Opal with Tom Costello. 

I nodded and took another sip of my cocoa, slurping up a marshmallow that had melted and enjoying the soft vanilla flavor mixed in with the rich chocolate. 

As we walked through the park, I noticed the gazebo covered in puffy, white snow and said more to myself than Mick, “It would have been nice to see a wedding in the gazebo.” 

I was referring to the upcoming double wedding with my grandma and local grocer Tom Costello, and my best friend, Ava, and Delilah. Tom was a real character. He had to be to keep up with my grandma’s orneriness. They looked adorable when they were together. Grandma Opal was not even five feet tall–stout, with tight curly black hair with lots of grays mixed in, and always with a bulldog expression on her face. She was a real spitfire. Tom was two times her size in height, with a rotund belly that hung over his leather belt, bushy black eyebrows, and I swore he colored his equally bushy black hair to a deep black. 

“I’m sure the church will look beautiful, too,” Mick said. 

I thought Ava was going to be the bridezilla, seeing that Ava was all things big, bold, and fabulous. But Grandma Opal gave her a run for her money, pushing Tom’s wallet to the limit. I asked my mom if Grandma had a big wedding with my grandpa, and she told me it was lackluster, to say the least. 

One of the themes that run through The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series is those dysfunctional family feelings we all experience from time to time. Jolie adores her family and would drop everything in a heartbeat if any of them were to get into trouble, but they can also drive her completely batty. And she’s pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

Those universal themes that we find in books help us as readers connect with and relate to the characters in our favorite books. We are all made up of good, bad, and ugly and only family (blood relations or not—whatever form family comes in for you) accept us for who we really are, warts and all! These are the ties that bind.

Happy Holidays!

Links to purchase book:


All other e-platforms:

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers, educational writing, marketing consultant work with authors, and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her eight cats. 

Newsletter link to A Mystery A Month—sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive a free Mystery a Month and a chance to win prizes for those who guess the right answers!


FB Author page: @authorjodirath or

Twitter: @jodirath



Friday, December 11, 2020

Ages and Stages and Being Fearless by Dee S. Knight #FearlessFriday


One of my favorite guests, Dee S. Knight, has a great take on being fearless. And I'm with her on this one. Read and enjoy.

Taking off into the unknown...

I've been thinking this year—the year of the plague—about how life turns first one way and then another. Last year at this time did most of us worry if we ran a low-grade fever or had the sniffles or cough? Probably not. Now our thoughts would turn to COVID. What a difference a year makes, huh? But I've been thinking specifically of how age changes our perspective in so many ways. 

When I was just 18 years old, my parents put me on a train in Orlando, FL and sent me alone, off to school in Fredericksburg, VA—a more than 24-hour trip. I had only been on a train once before, with my mom, and neither I nor my parents had ever been to Fredericksburg or had visited the college I would make my home for the next 3.5 years. I'd devoured the college catalogue, of course, but we'd not gone up for a college visit nor driven through the town at any point. There was no Internet, so all I had to go on as to what to expect was the catalogue itself. I didn't know anyone who was attending, either—it was a totally blank slate. Yet, I had no fear. The train trip was an adventure. Seeing my school for the first time was exciting. The thought of starting off life away from home was thrilling. I felt I had everything to gain and nothing to lose. Selfishly, I of course missed my parents but gave little thought to what their lives were like, with their only child gone so far from home. 

Jump forward a few years. Jack and I were married and had "normal" jobs (that is, no longer driving a truck). I was teaching high school and he was into consulting work. Suddenly, with Jack as a consultant, I saw a lot to lose, and frankly, it made me fearful. When he changed contracts, I didn't like the accompanying change in income, the thoughts of having a hard time paying the mortgage, worry that he might not find another consulting position close to where we lived, worry about renewing my teaching contract, too, with cuts at school. Can you identify? 

Fortunately, at the stage of life I am now, I'm pretty much back to being fearless. It doesn't matter much what people think or say. Jack and I still have each other to hang onto and take joy in. We have a modest but comfortable home and in a place we enjoy living. We've adopted the attitude that what happens, happens. Worry does no good and fear paralyzes. So best to be fearless, much as I was when I stepped on that train. Regardless of what goes on around us, life is still good and fearless is a great way to live it! 

My heroine in The Cinderella Curse shows her own courage when she goes after her Prince Charming with great determination. Here's a taste. The book is coming soon to Kindle Unlimited! 


One evening, in a land far away, a wife spins a fairy tale for the amusement of her husband. It's not your typical child's tale, of course, but an adult, erotic version of the classic, Cinderella.

All of the principals are present. Charlotte Gambrell immediately recognizes Prince Charming when she meets her boss, James Clarkson. Unfortunately, the worldly Clarkson barely knows she's alive. Charlotte's two hateful supervisors make her professional life miserable by piling on the work and never letting her forget that she has employment only at their pleasure.

Everything changes when Charlotte becomes part of a magazine shoot. The photographer, Cooper Hunt, agrees to perform duties as her fairy godfather. By day, he transforms her life by revealing to the world what he already knows, that Charlotte is an exquisite beauty. By night, he transforms her universe by teaching her about passion so she can attract her Prince. The “real” Cinderella never had it so good!

By the time Charlotte arrives at the ball, she has James on her mind and Cooper in her heart. Which man will she make her Prince?


Katherine walked into her daughter’s bedroom with a warm smile for the little girl. “And who do I find here?” she asked. “Is it a rock star, a fashion model or an award winning actress?”

“Oh, mommy, you know who I am,” the girl said with a giggle. For just a moment Katherine’s breath caught and her heart overflowed with love for this four year old person. She and Cole had made this child, had conceived her in love, trust and respect, but it still seemed incomprehensible that she was as beautiful as she was, as sweet and wonderful as she was. Katherine could so clearly see Cole’s eyes and her mouth reflected in their daughter’s face, but there was more there that was a combination of them both, and therefore all Alyssa’s. Katherine had to remind herself that probably all parents felt their children were perfect and wonderful, but with their little Alyssa, she knew it was true beyond any doubt.

“Yes, I know who you are, my little love. You are queen of my heart, princess of my mind, ruler–”

“–of all I hold dear.” Alyssa finished the oft heard phrase in triumph. She had bouncy curls of brown hair that hung down to her chin, gleaming blue eyes and a pert nose. Her mouth was most often formed around a smile.

“You’re getting too smart for me, Munchkin. What story would you like to hear?” Katherine settled her daughter under the covers, and positioned herself at the head of the bed next to Alyssa’s pillow, so that the child could see the pictures in the book and also be in place to fall asleep.


“Okay, Cinderella it is.” Katherine reached for the book from the stack of those on the bedside table and opened it to the first page. “Once upon a–”

“No, mommy. You’ve got to start with the title.”

With a small smile Katherine turned to the title page and started over. “Cinderella.” She flipped back to the story. “Once upon a time…”

Meet Dee/Anne/Jenna:

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. And all three offer some of the best romance you can find! Also, once a month, look for Dee’s Charity Sunday blog posts, where your comment can support a selected charity. 

Where to find her (them):









Sweet ‘n Sassy Divas:


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Books and Christmas Just Go Together #giveaway #bookevent

Gift giving is fun. Yep. I love this time of year. I love all the other things the holidays stand for, but I love shopping and giving the most. We're kind of limited on shopping sprees this year with all the social distancing, but shopping on line is still possible. And books make great gifts. So I have two events to clue you in on for your on line book buying. 

NN Light always hosts great events and this one is sure to catch your eye. Indie authors have come together and you can not only find some new authors but may win a whole bundle of great books. Follow this link: Indie Author Bookish Event to my spotlight and then read to the end and enter to win that bundle of Indie Author books. 

Arizona Professional Writers have a book bazaar going on. Get introduced to some great Arizona authors. Shop around and find that special book for friend or family. You can find the bazaar here: Holiday Bazaar

Happy shopping!

Monday, December 7, 2020

Music – Such a Muse for #MuseMondays by Addison Brae


Addison is back with a really unique post. Please pour yourself a cuppa, give a read, and enjoy!

I never had enough talent and drive to be a professional musician, but that didn’t stop music from being a muse. I played instruments all the way through school. My favorite tunes were on while I did homework. In college, the songs that inspired me most calmed my nerves before the most dreaded finals. My first marketing job was radio and music video promotions for a major record company. 

The music muse hit again while writing Dark Energy and Becker Circle. Both novels take place in the bar scene around live music. The adorable guy in one of the bands falls for Gillian, the main character, who inspires him to write a song called Dark Energy, a song I realized had to be written in reality. This is the conversation in Becker Circle when he tells her about it. 

“Okay, this one’s called Dark Energy.” He opens a file on his phone. “I wrote it. Guitar parts too.”


“The song’s really good. I’d buy the single.”


“You think so? Do I sound okay?”


Ha! Mister confidence asked for my musical opinion? “Like it could be on the radio. Tell me about the song.”


“I wrote it about someone who had a streak of bad luck and how they changed it with good karma.”


Yeah, sounds familiar. 

The song symbolizes the dark energy and dark matter theory in the cosmos. Dark matter allows gravity to pull stars, suns, planets, and other matter together the way I see some people draw us together. Dark energy is the vast empty space that opposes dark matter. It lurks and slips into the voids of our lives trying to disrupt like it pushes matter apart attempting to destroy our universe. 

As someone who has always loved and even depended on music, I never dreamed I would become a songwriter. Thanks to Brian Miller, Dark Energy was written, recorded, and will release on December 11, 2020, and John Harrell for the beautiful song art. If you are a Foo Fighters fan, you will like Dark Energy. If you have experienced the craziness so many have in 2020, the song’s poignancy might reach your heart. The chorus below represents the strength people possess that can help them push past economic, emotional and other hardships that strike even the most careful and good people. 


Find someone else to conquer

What does it mean this dark energy

Dark energy won’t control my fate

Why do I deserve dark energy 

If inspired, find and follow your muse. And do the things you love this holiday season. You deserve it. 

You can find Dark Energy (Return to Becker Circle) on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Smashwords, Apple Books, Kobo, and B&N Nook. Music lovers can find the song Dark Energy on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Pandora, and all major digital music retailers and streaming sites. Author proceeds go to Hope’s Door New Beginning Center to help fight domestic abuse. 


Addison Brae lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. She has been writing since childhood and continues today with articles, video scripts and other content as an independent marketing consultant. Addison enjoys traveling, collecting interesting cocktail recipes, reading, jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing, and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy. 

Connect with Addison on her website, Tirgearr Publishing, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Text “AddisonBrae” to 69922 or visit and be the first to receive a text message (no more than 1 per month) on book launches, appearances, and book sales.