Monday, December 20, 2021

War and Christmas: Inspiration by Anne Krist #MuseMonday


War can inspire all kinds of literature. Join Anne today to see how it inspired her Christmas story.

It might seem strange to use war as a muse, but that is what Jan Selbourne and I did in our duo book Finding a Christmas Miracle. In Jan's A Miracle in the Outback, an Australian soldier on his way back to camp stops to help a woman who is not only in great need but also in danger. In my story, The Miracle of Coming Home, it takes a paranormal experience for PFC Tom Stabler to find himself when he comes home for a week at Christmas. The common point in both our stories is the war in Vietnam.

There's no denying the effect the war had on the lives of everyone living during the 1960s and 70s. Jan was closer to the action by virtue of Australia's location. For those of us in the U.S., the war felt a million miles away. We watched, fascinated and shocked, on the evening news each night. Everywhere we turned, Vietnam slapped us in the face. For years afterward, I tried putting it from my mind. I refused to write about it until I finally broke down and wrote Burning Bridges, which has its root in the time period.

Because the war was, well, what it was, how could any of us write the story of our youth and not pay homage to the place the war had in it?

The Miracle of Coming Home in Finding a Christmas Miracle (Anne Krist and Jan Selbourne)

Jan Selbourne lends her award-winning writing talent to A Miracle in the Outback. Nick Saunders helps a woman in desperate need. He doesn’t know it, but he needs her help, too.

In award-winning author Anne Krist’s The Miracle of Coming Home, Army PFC Tom Stabler experiences the paranormal at home for Christmas. Will it help heal him or will he need a miracle to do the trick?

Buy link
Amazon Kindle

Awake now, Tom 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-plus 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 him on academic probation and placed his ass squarely in the middle of that worthless strip of land 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. But what the hell was he running from?

About Anne and where to find her
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 ( Fortunately, Dee’s high school sweetheart is the love of her life and husband to all three ladies! Once a month, look for Dee’s Charity Sunday blog posts, where your comment can support a selected charity.

Amazon Author Page
Sweet ‘n Sassy Divas


Friday, December 17, 2021

With the Sun in One Hand and the Moon in the Other by Janina Grey #FearlessFriday #romance


Welcome my guest Janina Grey to Discover... She has a great Fearless Friday post you'll not want to miss.

How many people can say they’ve held the sun in one hand and the moon in the other? I can. And my life has never been the same since.

It was sunset, July 5, 2001, Sydney, Australia time and I was standing at the very top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Back home in the United States, my family and friends were celebrating Independence Day and the birth of our nation. For me, I was celebrating the rediscovery of my own independence, my rebirth.

As I stood at the top of the bottom of the world, I had no idea I was foreshadowing how my life would turn upside down—and how I would come out on top—over the next few years.

I was a 39-year-old mother of a precocious three-year-old daughter and sensitive, inquisitive
seven-year-old son. My husband and I were together 20 years, experiencing the normal ups and downs, with more downs of late than anything. He spent a great deal of time traveling for work, going to Jets games, and going on golfing trips, while I dove head first into being a full-time mom and full-time journalist working from home. I was burning out fast and needed a break. So when some Macintosh chat room Internet friends I’d known for four years invited me to their wedding, I said yes,—even though it meant a three-week jaunt around the world without my babies.

As I took off from JFK, I questioned what the heck I was doing. I soon learned that I was finding myself. I was redefining myself. And looking back now, I was possibly saving my life.

Fueled mostly on Red Bull and Boag’s beer, throughout the next three weeks I experienced the magical land of Oz, with stops in Sydney, Adelaide, Queensland, Wollongong, and lots of places in between. I stood on the cliffs of North Head and watched the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean, went to an actual Aussie Rules Footie game (Oi! Oi! Oi!), hiked the Blue Mountains, petted kangaroos at the late great Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, chatted with magpies, did shots of tequila with fellow Macintosh geeks, and drank flat whites and recited poetry with a friend while fruit bats rested high above us in the trees of the Royal Botanical gardens overlooking Sydney Harbour.

In the final leg of my adventure, we climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge at dusk. When we reached the top of the bridge, I stretched out my open palms so the tips of my fingers “touched” the rising moon to my right and the setting sun to my left.

Standing at the top of the bottom of the world, I was reborn. Holding the sun and moon empowered me, making me realize my resilience, my power. I truly could accomplish anything I desired. I was fearless.


Step into the mystical and magical forests of Upstate New York, where Earth and Sky camp photographer Brooke Meadows has taken refuge from the demons of her past as she uses her ability to communicate with the dead to heal loved ones left behind. 

Unable to cope with the loss of his wife and daughters three years prior, Josh Quinn, CEO of the number one dating site, is ordered by his board president to take a break from his Big Apple Headquarters. He finds himself at Earth and Sky Retreats, where confronting his grief has led him to experience a life-altering transformation and re-evaluation of reality. 

Will Josh leave behind his fast-paced, high society life in the concrete mountains of New York City, for the magical, bewitching world Brooke reveals to him in the foothills of the Adirondacks? 

Will Brooke acknowledge and accept her own journey of transformation and healing as she and Josh explore the winding paths and summits that lead them to find love in the forest? 


“See? I told you.” Brooke laughed as they ended a very fast-tempoed rhythm beat out on two djembes they had selected from the music closet in the rec room.

“You’re good. I never would have thought I could do this.” Josh stared at his hands resting on the drum head.

“You have to trust me. Trust yourself. Trust the drum. And trust your heart.” She stared at him, suddenly uncomfortable as his gaze turned to her lips while she spoke. Even after she stopped talking, his eyes never moved. “It’s what I tell all the kids I teach when they’re here. Trust your heart. It’s good advice.” Trying to explain herself only made it worse.

As she babbled on, Josh offered a lopsided grin. “Uh-huh. I see.”

“Yeah, well. I don’t think you do.” The flush of her cheeks was spreading to the rest of her body.

“Thank you.” Josh put down his drum and pocketed the sunglasses he had placed on the seat beside him. He leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees, sharing her personal space as he stared into her eyes.

“For?” Her breath caught as she noted, being this close, that his baby blues might actually be baby teals, something she’d never noticed before now.

“For teaching me how to drum,” he said, his voice barely audible.

“You’re welcome,” she said in a breathless whisper. She cleared her throat and continued. “It’s getting dark. Storm’s blowin’ in.” Brooke’s voice cracked and she swallowed thickly. “We should go.”

“We should, shouldn’t we?” His words came softly, cloaked in a husky timber.

“Yes.” She answered too quickly as he took another step closer.

Her legs grew wobbly as he filled her personal space with a velvety soft reality she’d not known in an awfully long time. He was so close she picked up his scent. He smelled of fresh air, and rain . . . and man. 

Excerpt From: Janina Grey. “Love in the Forest.” Apple Books.


You can grab your very own copy of LOVE IN THE FOREST by following these links: 

Barnes and Noble:


Soul Mate Publishing

Instagram: @janinagreyauthor
Twitter: @janina_grey


Janina Grey has been writing since she could hold a crayon, and there has been no stopping her since. Journaling, short stories, poetry, newsletters, news, feature, columns, Op/Eds, and press releases have kept her busy her whole life. But it was the sweet Harlequin romances she read in her downtime that stayed forever in her heart and gave her the inspiration to write her own contemporary romances now published with Soul Mate Publishing. 

By day, Janina guides domestic and sexual assault survivors down their path of healing and empowerment. But in the wee hours of the morning, she hunkers down at her childhood writing desk with Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, or Led Zep streaming through her earbuds while she brings to life her characters as they face their real-life sorrows and successes, and best of all, their happily ever afters. 

Growing up on Long Island and living periodically in Tennessee as a youth has given her the opportunity to meet many different types of people and experience many different lifestyles. After moving from Long Island to settle in the Mohawk Valley in Upstate New York with her family, she found the support needed to pursue her writing endeavors with Central New York Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. 

When Janina is not writing, she may be marching for women’s rights, kayaking, camping, drumming, or dancing around the fire. 

With her two children grown, she and her husband, David, share their 113-year-old Mohawk Valley farm house homestead with a few resident spirits and a very squawky murder of crows.

Monday, December 13, 2021

A Moment’s #Inspiration by Janet Raye Stevens #MuseMonday


How fun...a WWII story that is also a paranormal suspense. Let's hear where Janet found her inspiration and all about the book.

My new book, A Moment After Dark, a World War II-set paranormal suspense, is a culmination of both my interest in the odd and otherworldly and WWII history. Blame it on my childhood. As a kid, I loved TV shows like The Twilight Zone and especially the supernatural and soapy daytime drama, Dark Shadows. How I loved the spooky settings, gothic suspense, to-die-for costumes and hairdos, and vampire and unlikely sex symbol, Barnabas Collins! I also lived in a public housing project, populated for the most part by WWII veterans. Practically every dad, and some of the moms, had served in the war in some capacity. I grew up hearing their stories and became steeped in the history of that singular moment in time. When I started writing fiction years later, it made sense my life-long interests would inspire my stories, particularly A Moment After Dark, a historical romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, set in the first week of December, 1941. 

A Moment After Dark blurb: 

She sees the future with a touch. A powerful gift in a time of war.

The enemy wants her. The Allies need her. 

When Addie Brandt touches someone, she sees their future, and it’s rarely good. Mocked and teased her whole life, Addie hides from the world in her family’s funeral home. But when her second sight shows her a horrific vision of an attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval base, the gruesome images are too intense to ignore, and she tries to raise the alarm. Will anyone listen?


Federal agent Jack Dunstan needs a miracle. He’s still reeling from the betrayal that nearly decimated his team of agents with paranormal powers, a vengeful Nazi spy with a terrifying ability of his own is out to destroy him, and he knows it’s only a matter of time before America is drawn into the war raging around the world. Hearing rumors of Addie’s vision, he seeks her out, hoping she could be the miracle he’s looking for.


Addie’s not sure she trusts Jack Dunstan. He’s rude, cocky, and insists on calling her curse of second sight a “gift.” But if she wants to save lives and prevent a terrible disaster, she has to put aside her fears and learn to embrace her ability. 

With the US on the brink of war and an enemy agent hunting her for her power, Addie must learn to trust Dunstanand herselfto stop an attack that could change the course of history. 

A Moment After Dark Excerpt: 

Addie Brandt, determined to raise the alarm about her vision of an attack on Pearl Harbor, goes to the police to report what she's seen—but it doesn't go as she hopes: 

“What do you expect me to do?” Sgt. Gillis asked.

Addie’s frustration and anger threatened to boil over. “Can’t you call the Navy or the FBI or someone?” 

“And tell them what? A fanciful girl thinks there might be an attack on one of our naval bases at some point in the future? I’m sorry, dear, that’s not what police work is. I can’t call anyone without something solid to go on.” Gillis held out his hand. “Or some kind of proof.”

She stared at his palm as if it held a bomb. Touch him? What good would that do? If the Sight showed her a vision, it would most likely be terrible. And whatever she saw might not happen for some time. She shook her head.

The sergeant frowned. “I thought as much. Why don’t you run on home, Miss Brandt, and forget this foolishness?”

Addie lost the battle to hold her temper. By golly, she’d do it.

Cool air tickled her skin as she stripped off a glove. Silence fell in the precinct. Addie’s hand hovered over Gillis’s and she cringed. She hadn’t held anyone’s hand since Mother’s, years ago, when the Sight showed her Mother was going to die.

But she had to. With the fate of so many hanging in the balance, she had to touch him.

She pressed her fingers against his. Instantly, darkness as black as pitch blanketed her mind. Horrific images flashed. Terrifying sensations beat against her brain. It took every ounce of strength she had to tear out of the Sight’s grip.

She opened her eyes to see Sgt. Gillis smirking at her. “Well? Where’s my proof?” he said.

Addie scrabbled her glove back onto her hand and shot out of her seat. The chair legs squawked against the floorboards. “I-I can’t,” she said hastily. “I’m sorry.”

“Crazy as a loon,” she heard one of the policemen say as she dashed across the room.

Burning with fury and humiliation, Addie flung open the front door and slammed into a wall. No, not a wall. A man. A powerfully built man, with shoulders as broad as an anchor filling his overcoat and a chest apparently made of iron. She looked up to see a face like Dick Tracy in the funny papers—all angles. Razor sharp jaw, full lips, crooked nose, black hair under a fedora perched at a rakish angle. And eyes the color of brown sugar. Curious eyes that kept her gaze a moment too long.

“Whoa, sister, where’s the fire?” he said, his voice as deep as the ocean. He smelled like the ocean, too. Fresh, salty-sharp, like he’d been born on Pott’s Beach.

She laughed bitterly. Couldn’t help it, after what the Sight had inflicted on her in the heartbeat she’d held the sergeant’s hand. Addie as Gillis, at the foot of a massive structure engulfed in flames. She’d ripped herself out of the vision before the burning structure collapsed and the scorching embers crashed onto her. Or Gillis, rather. But she knew with certainty the sergeant would die a fiery death.

Somehow, she made it around the big man she’d slammed into, mighty glad her hands were covered, and she couldn’t make contact with him. She’d had enough of the Sight for one day.

Besides, she did not want to know what could fell a Redwood tree of a man like him. 



Other Booksellers: 

Janet Raye Stevens Bio & Social Media Links: 

Meet award-winning author Janet Raye Stevens, mom, reader, tea-drinker (okay, tea guzzler), and weaver of adventurous, occasionally heartbreaking, and stealthily romantic tales.

A Derringer Award nominee, Janet’s work has been recognized multiple times, including the Daphne du Maurier award and RWA's Golden Heart® award for Cole for Christmas. Janet writes mystery, time travel, paranormal, and the occasional Christmas romance with humor, heart, and a dash of suspense.

She lives in New England with her handsome better half and their equally impressive children.

Connect with Janet at: Website: Instagram: Twitter:

Friday, December 10, 2021

December is the Month of #Sharing

What happened to November? And December is zipping away. I loooove December, the sharing month. But there are never enough hours in the day. Shopping is taking longer now that I check the label to see where the item is made and then hunt for something comparable made in the USA. A difficult task, let me tell you. 

I'm desperately trying to write everyday. December is more family than career with the Solstice celebration with our son and his family and then Christmas with my mom and whoever else we can corral. I'm working on two projects, so in the spirit of December, I'll share a little of both which should be published not too far into 2022.

The third book in The MacKenzie Chronicles, Curse of Wolf Falls, is about Elidor, the youngest sibling and the most clairsentient. 

Elidor MacKenzie has a gift she can’t return. Her ability to absorb the energy from people around her, to take on their joy but also their pain and suffering, lies somewhere between a blessing and a curse. In Joshua, her clairsentient abilities are particularly keen which has kept her away from her family and drove her from the only man she ever loved. But Elidor is back. And in spite of a newfound quiet within, the threat she’s running from will stir the energies of Joshua once again.

This first draft of a blurb sounds rather paranormal. The book is romantic suspense with her gift woven in. I'll have to work on that.

Here is the beginning of the book:


“Cameron!” Elidor MacKenzie screamed, as the excruciating sound of bones and flesh meeting rock vibrated in her ears. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,” she chanted as she slid and clawed her way off the mountain to the flatland below where Cameron lay sprawled, arms and legs flung outward as if he’d just made a snow angel in the dust. 

Dropping to her knees, she bent close to his face. “Can you hear me? Please, please. Cam.” 

His eyelids fluttered but didn’t fully open. “Ellie,” he rasped. “You…were right…should…use r-ropes.” 

“Hush. It doesn’t matter now. Oh, thank the universe, you’re alive.” She touched his face. “I’ve got to get help.” 

“Wait,” he whispered, the words coming as if with great difficulty. “Get…me back…to camp…first.” 

“No, Cam, I have to call for help.” They were a half mile from where they’d pitched tents, in the shade of trees on the other side of a shallow stream. 

“Not here. Can’t…find us…here. Secret.” He rolled a few inches to his side, struggling to rise. His face contorted in pain. 

They agreed to keep the find in the mountain a secret, but she couldn’t do it at his expense. “But—” 

He shoved at her shoulder with more force than she imagined he could muster. 

“Okay. I’ll try.” She positioned herself above his head and shoulders, grabbed him under the arms, and helped him to sit. “This is stupid, just stupid.” His pain jabbed at her back and limbs—he’d cracked the wall of her empathic shell. Then his determination rocked her breathless.

I'm also working with fellow author Joyce Proell on a cozy mystery set in the imaginary town of Wyatt, Arizona. I'm having soooo much fun with this project. Two sisters meet each year on their birthdays at an infamous hotel in Wyatt for a chocolate martini and a weekend of sisterly sharing. This time, there is murder and mayhem. Leave it to the Chocolate Martini Sisters to solve the crime. 

These projects mean I am leaving 2021 on a good note and opening 2022 on an even better note!


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Cole, Christmas, and a bit of Wicked Weather by Janet Raye Sevens #WickedWednesday #ChristmasRomance


Love this take on wicked. Enjoy my guest post from Janet Raye Sevens!

I’m from the heart of New England—Massachusetts—where it’s a requirement to use the word “wicked” in a conversation several times a day, as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and occasionally a preposition. We have a wicked lot of Dunkin’ Donuts shops, the Boston Red Sox are wicked awesome or wicked stinky, depending on how they’re doing this season, and we don’t just have weather, we have wicked weather. 

I’d like to focus on that last wicked for a moment, wicked weather. Snow, in particular. Specifically, snow in the form of a monster blizzard known as a nor’easter. I’ve lived through a ton of these east coast storms, so-called because the wind gusts blow from the northeast. I don’t know whose idea it was to drop a few letters from the word and add the apostrophe, but it gives the word an urgent feel that evokes the whistling rush of the wind and pelting snow. Just hearing the word (pronounced “naweasta” around these parts) makes you want to curl up in a warm spot (preferably by a roaring fire) and read a book. Or write one. 

When I set out to write what would become my sweet and funny holiday romance, Cole for Christmas, I had the premise, a case of mistaken identity, and I had the couple, a hot chef and a feisty event manager who butt heads while working a summer wedding. I had a stressed-out bride and an accident-prone groom. I even had a matchmaking grandma. But something was missing. The story needed a villain. 

That’s when my brain nudged me and said, uh, how about moving the wedding from July to December? How about making it a winter wedding with wicked weather? Aside from the awful alliteration, I thought, hey, good idea. What can be more villainous than a snowstorm, and not just any old snowstorm, but a major blizzard that whips up unexpectedly, threatening to ruin the whole wedding. Though to be fair to Mother Nature, there’s a wicked good chance of a snowstorm on Christmas Eve up in this neck of the woods, so planning a wedding then is kind of a risk. 

I had a lot of fun with my wicked snowstorm. It forced my hero and heroine to work together to keep the event on track and to find ways to keep the bride calm. The nor’easter gave them a common enemy to fight against, to commiserate over, and in one heated moment out in the storm’s chill, to share a fleeting kiss. 

In the end, the snow doesn’t defeat them, but it does bring them together. So maybe it’s not such a wicked villain after all. 

Cole for Christmas Blurb: 

Event coordinator Katy is called in to sub for her perfectionist sister at a Christmas Eve wedding in Portland, Maine. Chef Cole takes over from his temperamental boss for the same event. The problem? Each thinks the other is their prickly counterpart and they expect fireworks when they meet. It's the sparks that fly between them that's unexpected—and unwelcome. Katy's skittish after a bad breakup. Left at the altar, Cole has sworn off women for good. They both vow to just do their job and stay out of each other’s way. 

That plan goes awry as troubles mount. An unexpected nor’easter blows in, making roads slick and forcing wedding guests to stay home. Mix in a stressed-out bride, an accident-prone groom, a power outage, a matchmaking grandma, plus lots and lots of mistletoe, and what's supposed to be a magical Christmas Eve wedding fast becomes a Christmas nightmare.  

Forced to team up to put out the many fires, the blaze between Cole and Katy burns brighter as the evening wears on. Can they ignore their growing attraction and keep their relationship strictly professional? Or will they give in to the mistletoe and say I do to a Christmas kiss that promises more to come in the new year? 

Amazon Link: 

Janet Raye Stevens Bio & Social Media Links: 

Meet award-winning author Janet Raye Stevens, mom, reader, tea-drinker (okay, tea guzzler), and weaver of adventurous, occasionally heartbreaking, and stealthily romantic tales.

A Derringer Award nominee, Janet’s work has been recognized multiple times, including the Daphne du Maurier award and RWA's Golden Heart® award for Cole for Christmas. Janet writes mystery, time travel, paranormal, and the occasional Christmas romance with humor, heart, and a dash of suspense.

She lives in New England with her handsome better half and their equally impressive children.

Connect with Janet at: Website: Instagram: Twitter:

Monday, November 29, 2021

Using Memories When We Write by Judythe Morgan


So great to have Judythe Morgan as my guest today with a holiday post. I'm ready for the holidays! 

Holidays bring memories. Lots of mine involve participation in holiday programs with watching children and grandchildren or performing myself.

As writers we consciously, or unconsciously, use our memories when we plot our stories. I think every story I’ve written includes a personal memory disguised to fit. None more than When Love Endures, book 3 of the Fitzpatrick Family series.

One of my favorite holiday memories is playing a duet with my daughter at her piano recital. That memory provided the springboard for the plot.

Sarah Fitzpatrick, twin daughter and the family musician, is modeled after my daughter who is a pianist and music teacher. But similarities end there. My daughter did not know my son-in-law when she was in high school. 

In When Love Endures, Sarah meets her high school sweetheart again when his daughter enrolls in her school music class then takes piano lessons. Old feelings return, but Sarah must win the daughter over.

How she wins the daughter (and her dad) involves a Christmas duet. Check the excerpt below.

I hope a fond holiday memory comes to your mind when you read When Love Endures.

When Love Endures BOOK BLURB

Sarah Fitzpatrick, pianist extraordinaire, gave up on true love when her high school boyfriend, Nick Stephens, ran off to marry his pregnant ex-girlfriend. When his daughter shows up in her music class eleven years later, Sarah must find a way to keep the little girl and her widowed father out of her heart. She can’t risk losing everything again.

Nicks Stephens has other plans. Sarah is and always has been the love of his life and he’s back in Burton, TX to prove it. But there are secrets Nick must keep, from Sarah and his daughter, that could destroy everything he hopes to build.

Can their second chance survive new secrets?


When Love Endures

Sarah was good with her decision not to see Nick except on Sundays which loomed long and lonely without him, Rachel, and their afternoons of board games.

Reality became real. And it hurt.

When she spotted the child at school, Rachel would look away. But not before Sarah saw the blame in her eyes. The child believed all the misery in her life was Sarah’s fault. Rachel might never see her mother’s alcohol addiction as the true cause. One day Sarah'd be at peace with all that.

Not today.

Today she missed Nick’s smile. She missed them both. She yearned to call him to see how things were going with Rachel. Was she still playing her baby grand? Had Nick signed off on his merger with the French company?

As much as she wanted to know, she wouldn’t accept his calls the way things were now. After the first few texts with declarations of his love and office party reminders, she’d stopped reading. Rachel had to be on board or being together could never work.

With renewed determination, she refocused on finding a closing for the Christmas program. Playing a Christmas duet with Rachel to surprise Nick had been so perfect.

Becca leaned her shoulder against Sarah’s office doorframe. “Whatcha doing? Every time you disappear, I find you in here digging through old school Christmas programs and notes. Don’t tell me you’re organizing files. Something’s wrong.”

“You mean besides the obvious? I’ve broken it off with Nick. Rachel hates me.” She held her hand up to stop Becca from answering. “My program finale idea isn’t going to work anymore, and I can’t seem to come up with a new one.”

Becca’s arms crossed. “Let me guess. Rachel was going to play.”

Sarah nodded. No point in keeping it a secret now. “We were doing a Christmas duet. It was a surprise for Nick.”

“That’s a major bummer. I see why you’re scrambling. There’s always the old standby of Santa or an elf appearing.”

“The best finales are ones where a student is involved. I have better attendance. Anticipating the surprise always draws everyone in. But another student wouldn’t have enough time to prepare.”

“Maybe Nick or Ms. Lorene could—”

“No.” Sarah shook her head. “I won’t ask them. Even if she agreed, it’d give Nick false hope. I won’t do that. I’ll figure something out.” 

About Your Book  

Title: When Love Endures

Author: Judythe Morgan

Publisher: The Danfield Press

Release Date: February 8, 2021

Genre: Holiday Romance

Series/Stand-Alone: The Fitzpatrick Family Series

Target Audience: PG, Ages 12+ 

Buy links





Author Bio:

Judythe Morgan was an Army brat then Army wife. She’s traveled a lot of this world. She’s been a teacher, an antiques dealer, former mayor's wife, and sometimes-church pianist. Her diverse experiences have made her life full, her characters vivid, and her stories authentic and award-winning. 

Besides fiction, she writes a weekly blog at  Sign up for her free newsletter at to keep up with her latest news and subscriber-only sneak peeks. 

Friend her on Facebook and  Goodreads

Follow her on Twitter


Friday, November 19, 2021

Slip of the Tongue by Jo Hiestand


Fearless and funny sums up today's post by guest Jo Hiestand. A Fearless trek up many steps, and it ends with a funny conclusion.

You can never be too careful about your word choices when traveling abroad. 

My friends and I were in Edinburgh, Scotland, and had climbed to the top of the Sir Walter Scott monument. It’s a huge Victorian Gothic-style edifice, two hundred feet tall that shelters a statue of Scott, rather like a four-legged hen hovering over her egg.

There are other monuments to people all over the world, of course, but the thing I really like about the Scott Monument is that you can wend your way nearly up to the top of the structure. This is accomplished by staggering up two hundred eighty-seven steps via a spiral staircase in the monument’s core. I think I counted them at the beginning, but soon stopped due to needing to focus on trying to breathe.

Breathing problem aside…you don’t have to trudge up the entire thing in one go. There are numerous viewing platforms at various levels, branching out from the corkscrewing climb. No matter which platform you stop at to gasp for air and subdue your burgeoning vertigo, you get a magnificent view of the city.

In addition to the Victorian chiseled stone curlicues and such adorning the monument, it’s also covered in sixty-eight statues: various Scottish writers, historical people, fictional characters and animals. I didn’t see them all, but they are there if you want to check them off your list.

Anyway, back to the excitement of my adventure… We climbed to the top, which was no mean feat, because the staircase is very narrow. Every time we met someone coming down the steps, we literally pressed our backs against the wall, flattening ourselves as best we could to increase passing space. I figured this could be how bats feel when clinging to such walls.

Back on the ground, I wanted to get some photos of the whimsical stone gargoyles that decorate the monument’s exterior.  To get some close-up shots, I had to change the lens in my camera to a telephoto lens. So, I sat on a bench near the monument and switched lenses.  The area evidently was popular and seemed to be a great place for older folks to sit and talk, perhaps feed the pigeons, and wait for the buses.  My friends were anxious to go to the Castle, situated at the upper end of the Royal Mile, and nagged me to hurry up, take the photos, and come on.  I got up from the bench and turned toward the Monument. This, unfortunately, placed the older adults in front of me. Without thinking, I said, “I just want to take a photo of these old gargoyles.”  I’m probably the first St Louisan who’s been cussed out in Gaelic.

I mention the incident in my US-based amateur sleuth cozy mystery novel Shortbread And Dead, when a town resident talks about a song he’s writing.

Shortbread And Dead: A Cookies And Kilts Cozy Mystery 

It’s two weeks before Christmas. In the small Missouri town of Beaudin Trace, the holiday spirit is revving up: shops are adorned in seasonal decorations and the annual Winter Scavenger Hunt is in full swing. This year, the grand prize for the hunt winner is provided by The Cookie Cutter, a bakery owned by 40-year-old widow Kate Dunbar. It’s her first time to supply the prize since moving to the town several years ago. And she’s thrilled to give Pam, the winner, something Pam loves: a huge basket filled with muffins, scones, jams and hot chocolate mix…and shortbread.

But the thrill doesn’t last long, for an hour later Pam’s found dead outside the bakery—conveniently close to Kate and her employees.

Despite pleas and stern warnings from her friend, Deputy Sheriff Josh Cline, Kate decides to investigate, needing to discover who murdered such a beloved resident, and taking the heat off her and her staff before her business crumbles.

Complicating her inquiry is the string of cookie cutter-style art gallery burglaries in surrounding towns. Are they linked to Pam’s murder? Perhaps Harold—the affable retiree who writes outlandish songs such as “Penguins, Arise!”—has something to do with both incidents: it wouldn’t be the first time beautiful icing has disguised a burnt cookie.

As Kate hunts for the killer, she uncovers secrets that reveal the killer’s identity. The trouble is, that revelation may turn her into victim #2.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Reading and #Reviews (Gallant, Henderson)

I'm an author, 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 mainstream 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.

Midnight Reckoning
by Jannine Gallant

If the Yosemite backpacking trip doesn’t kill them . . . someone they trust just might.

Reuniting members of their college hiking club, Leave No Trace, in Yosemite National Park to raise money for a wildlife charity seems like a terrific idea to Raine Endicott. She needs time away from her dead-end job in San Francisco to reassess her future, escape from the city, and enjoy nature’s splendor. Connecting with old friends is a bonus . . . especially Levi Hill, the man she turned down all those years ago. A decision she lived to regret.

For Levi, seeing Raine again is like flipping a switch. His crush on the woman who got away quickly intensifies into something far more meaningful. But it isn’t easy to focus on romance and the challenges of a budding relationship when one of their own is murdered—and the betrayer is hiding among them in plain sight. Leaving the park only adds a new level of terror as the danger escalates. Because Raine poses a threat that must be eliminated . . . even if that means killing again.


Ms. Gallant’s latest romantic suspense is entertaining on several levels. The setting is an adventure. I’ve been to Yosemite years ago, and reading this book was like a return trip. Her cast of characters (always my favorite part of any book) are varied and well defined. Who’s the villain? I couldn’t guess and that made it a page turner. You’ll enjoy this thriller for sure.


Once Burned by Alison Henderson

After a long string of dating disasters, Sage McDowell has reason to be leery of men. She prefers to spend her time managing an organic farm in idyllic Carmel Valley, California, and making raku pottery for the gallery she owns with her sisters. But when two men from her past resurface, her well-ordered life turns upside down.

Adam Wingate, her “almost” prom date, returns to the valley to take over the helm of his family’s vineyard and winery. And Spencer Silveira, her high school tormentor, persistently tries to push her beloved elderly employer into a shady real estate deal.

When Spencer is found murdered, Sage and Adam must join forces to unravel a tangled web of events before becoming the killer’s next victims, all while navigating the growing attraction between them. Their quest is sometimes threatened, sometimes aided, by a sinister drug cartel, a mysterious restauranteur, and a pair of high-flying turkeys named Wilbur and Orville. Welcome to mayhem in paradise.


This is the second in the series, but if you haven't read the first don't worry about it. I love that these books are about sisters with a mom thrown in who runs an organic veggie restaurant. This book is very California. Ms. Henderson paints the setting beautifully with much of the action taking place on or around a vineyard. I routed for Sage and Adam to get together and for Spencer to get what he had coming to him. In the end, it’s a surprise. You’ll be thoroughly entertained.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Fire Fighting--No Additional Cost by Jo Hiestand


Readers, please continue on for a delightful, wickedly cute tale, true story, from my guest Jo Hiestand.

The St Louis Scottish Highland Games were in full swing. We were housed in a field, which gave plenty of legroom for caber tossing, hammer throwing, and sheep dog herding—space-demanding activities that pesky, shade-providing trees could hamper. But the uncluttered area left the massed pipe band marchers and us sellers with no shade and baking under the summer sun. Our vendors’ tents provided cover, certainly, but they also seemed to act as traps for the heat. Forget the fried-egg-on-the-sidewalk test; I swore I could bake shortbread on the ground in my tent. But I was there to sell books, not cook, and The Games were a good venue for my British protagonist with Scottish roots. And although Michael McLaren had hitherto sleuthed exclusively in England, my current mystery, An Unfolding Trap, was based entirely in Scotland. I had high hopes it’d sell well.

I’d just finished guzzling my third thermos of iced tea and discreetly flapped the hem of my tartan skirt for air circular when a man with a cigarette jammed into his mouth came up to the book display. I smiled at him; he evidently was interested in looking at McLaren’s newest adventure. But the man had his dog with him, and held the lead in his left hand. He looked like he wanted to pick up a book and thumb through it, but he didn’t want ash drifting from the cigarette and coating my book. So he removed the cigarette, crammed it into his pocket, and patted his dog as he told it to sit. He then proceeded to leaf through the novel. It didn't take long before I noticed smoke coming from his pocket and the fabric turning a dark brown color. I hinted, "Sir, I think your pocket's on fire." He glanced at me, then at his pocket, then uttered something I’m probably glad I couldn’t distinguish. He spat on his fingers and dabbed at the inferno. I handed him my bottle of water so he could take care of the inconvenience. He did and safely continued his browsing.

He bought An Unfolding Trap. If it was in gratitude for my firefighting expertise or his interest in McLaren, I'll never know. 

“An Unfolding Trap” excerpt 

Ross leaned forward, closing the distance between them. “You’re sure you didn’t get angry when you found Lanny this afternoon?”

Of course I got angry!  Who the hell wouldn’t? The bloody git killed a man, frightened a dozen others who were there, kidnapped Miss Skene, held her hostage--”  McLaren took a deep breath. “But I didn’t kill him. I tied him up so he wouldn’t escape, then phoned you when I could.”

“An hour later.” The voice was flat, unimpressed.

“Yes. An hour later. Maybe ninety minutes. I didn’t write down the time, but I phoned here, in the village.”

“Why wait so long to ring us?”

“Pardon?” The suspicion that things were turning horribly wrong whispered to McLaren.

“Why didn’t you phone right then? Did you want to put some space between you and the killing so you could establish an alibi?” 

 “An Unfolding Trap” blurb 

Since his infancy, Michael McLaren has been the target of his paternal grandfather’s anger. So when the patriarch sends an invitation to heal the rift, McLaren travels to Scotland, eager to meet and finally end the feud.

But the welcome never happens. In fact, the older man is furious McLaren’s appeared on the family home doorstep, convinced it’s some trick.  McLaren, however, is confused. If grandfather hadn’t sent for him, who had?  And why?

In Edinburgh, a man standing beside McLaren in a bus queue is killed in a hit-and-run accident. But McLaren wonders if the driver got the wrong person. And after an attack leaves him for dead on a wintry moor, McLaren’s convinced someone from his past is trying to murder him.

As McLaren trails the hit-and-run driver from the medieval ‘underground city’ of Edinburgh to the Boar’s Rock--the MacLaren Clan’s ancestral meeting place--the assaults intensify, and he’s plunged into a very personal hunt for a World War II treasure. The puzzle is fascinating; he just has to stay alive to solve it. 

Buy Links:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:





Amazon US:


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Wicked Women, or just Wicked West? by Terri Benson #WickedWednesday #WomenOfTheNight


Hey, Readers, please welcome Terri Benson back to Discover... She has a wickedly great take on those women of the night that add to the color of the Old West. Enjoy!

I write historical romance, set in the mid to late 1800s. My research has uncovered so many stories of women who were abandoned or widowed, or whose plans for a better life fell apart, leaving them no option but to work in the world’s oldest profession to survive. In The Angel and the Demon you’ll meet the newly widowed Winnie who, even at her age, could have found herself one of them, if she and Angelique hadn’t teamed up.

When I wrote The Angel and the Demon, I didn’t know which characters I would actually end up with. Winnie showed up one day, a poor but hard-working woman, and she was the perfect partner for Angelique. Then Francesca and Ebbie strolled into the story and boy, was I surprised, since I hadn’t set out to have prostitutes be important characters. But they revealed themselves to be ordinary women who had been subjected to extraordinarily bad situations and coped as best they could.

Further research into the timeframe revealed wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters who followed Spanish explorers or set up house at military forts, shipping ports, mining communities, railroad towns, and anywhere there was a semblance of community – and sometimes where there wasn’t. It was a rough country and a rough time, causing families to fall apart or circumstances to change, leaving a lot of single females. These women might initially have had hopes of setting up a bakery, or working as a seamstress, finding a husband, or just escaping the drudgery of their lives. Often, they were disappointed, unable to compete with the others who beat them to those businesses, frequently immigrant men. As a result, those women became entrepreneurs in order to survive. They set up business in grand mansions or filthy “cribs” or tents or soddys. They had to contend with violent customers, disease, strait-laced lawmen as well as crooked ones, “decent” women who would go to great lengths to run them out of town, and the sudden demise of western towns.

Many of the women of the night became rich or well-known, including Mattie Silks from Denver. Some became early philanthropists, providing money and supplies when earthquakes or fire ravaged their towns. But the majority worked under appalling conditions and died young.

Finding a “house of ill repute” with a Madam who took care of her girls was not commonplace, although there were some, Like Belle Brezing. I like to think Ebbie would be like that, and she might – when I get around to writing a short story about her life, and Bert’s courting of her.

Angelique Lawson, a naïve 24-year-old spinster, has an injured, murderous train robber dumped on her doorstep with instructions to get him healthy enough to hang. Damon Daugherty, as handsome as he is persuasive, turns out to be the owner of the railroad who was shot trying to stop the robbery, as well as owning a nearby gold mine. Their burgeoning romance is almost derailed by a conniving former companion of Damon’s, but his persistence wins Angelique as his wife. Just when they think they have their happily ever after, a more violent, and persistent, threat comes between them.


A life-long writer, Terri is traditionally and self-published in novel length, with nearly a hundred articles and short stories published – many award winning. She was the Education Chair for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for more than seven years, is an irregular blogger (in more ways than one), member of Sisters in Crime, presents workshops at writer’s conferences, and teaches night classes at Western Colorado Community College.  Terri spends her non-writing time working at a Business Incubator, camping, jeeping, and dirt biking with her junior-high-school sweetheart/husband of 40+ years and a succession of Brittany spaniels. You can find more information on her at