Thursday, February 25, 2021

Reading and #Reviews (Neal, O'Reilly and Dugard)

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! 

Dark Lava by Toby Neal

I have mixed feelings on this book. I love Hawaii so the setting was attractive, and I actually recognized some of the scenes. There is a dynamic between the husband and wife that is odd. I have a feeling if I’d read prior books, I might understand that better. There are actually two crimes happening at the same time. Someone is stealing artifacts by carving them out of the stone. Hit me as odd and the chances for destroying risky. Then there is murder, and it looks like the main character, Detective Lei Texeira, is in deep danger as is her husband. It was fun, but didn’t grab me every time I opened it.


Paradise is threatened by a fight for sacred artifacts.

She just wants to disarm the IED.

Newly assigned to the bomb squad, Detective Lei Texeira struggles with skills that may be dangerously out of reach, even as a heinous crime strikes close to home and catches her husband in the crossfire.

The woman is his. And if he can’t have her, she’ll have to die.

An investigation into heiau desecrations must take a back seat to the emergence of an enemy who leaves shrouds as a calling card, targeting those closest to Lei and Stevens.



Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

I read this several years ago. I've been so busy lately, my reading time is limited. Thought I'd pull one out of the archives. I learned some history I’m not sure we were taught in school. But then I didn’t like history in school. I found this book interesting because I do like history now. I doubt we learned so much about Booth in school, so be prepared for fun there. Unfortunately, the writing skills of the authors are lacking. It reads a little rough with technical mistakes and just not smoothly written. If you can get past that, the facts might grab you.


In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.

In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies' man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country's most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history's most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dear Diary, Episode Three #diary #TeenLife #Arizona

Dear Diary is a serialized account of one girl's teen years in the 1960s. Although based on my own diaries, the story is fiction. The angst, family drama, and joy are real enough for teenagers in any era. This is an experiment for me. I'm sharing with you the rough, first draft, the skeleton, of what could become a novel. If you  missed any episodes, go to the Index in the right column and click on “Dear Diary” for past posts.


On the following pages is my life from January 1 through December 31, 1964. Freshman and Sophomore years at Columbus High School. Go Stallions! My best friend in grade school, Janice Schmidt, gave me this diary for 8th grade graduation. I’m fourteen, 5’5”, blonde (made blonder by Gentle and Blonde), and I weight 124. I live with my mother, father, sister (Sandy age 11), and my brother (Davie age 2). 


January 15, 1964 Wednesday

Dear Diary, I didn’t feel too good today so I stayed home. Talked to Donna on the phone, and she stayed home too. I think I stayed up too late last night. Yeah, I know, I shouldn’t have talked so late to Mel on the phone, but how could I not? Then I had a short homework assignment after we hung up. Yawn, yawn. My head hurts. I didn’t have any meetings after school or any tests, so it’s no big deal if I missed today. Davie came into my room twice, once to bring me a cookie and once to see if I’d play cars with him. I brought him up on my bed, and we made roads with the sheet wrinkles and mountains with the pillows. Oh to be a toddler and so easily entertained. Mum did some cleaning and watched a soap at lunchtime. I think I’d be phenomenally bored as a housewife. Don’t tell her I said that. Mel called this afternoon to tell me he was coming over. Evan was going to drop him off and then go to Donna’s. But Donna’s mom said he couldn’t come over to see her because she stayed home from school. Sure glad Mum isn’t that strict. So, they both came over here. Mel brought my microphone, all fixed. He asked if I could go to the hayride on the 25th. Mum said yes! I think she likes Mel. Friday we’re going to our game (go Stallions) and the dance. He’s so terribly sweet. I adore him. 

January 16, 1964 Thursday

Dear Diary, I’m just a rotten daughter today. My conscience is pricking me with needles, I swear. I had to go to Corrine’s after school to use her English book and study French. I left my book in my gym locker and couldn’t get back in to get it. Studying French with a partner is better anyway. Mel drove by while we were walking so he took us to her house. Mum told me there were to be no boys at Corrine’s. I was there for studying only. I couldn’t just tell Mel to get out of Corrine’s house. I feel so crappy for lying. It’s the first and last time for me. Not that anything happened, but Mum is afraid I won’t get my studying done. But we did. Lots. He was still there when Mum picked me up so he ducked into the back room. I outright lied. I lied! Mel called me around 8:00. Watched “Bewitched” on TV tonight. I wish I could wiggle my nose and fix a few things. I love my parents, dearly! 

January 17, 1964, Friday

School’s out for two days! Wow! Weekend, Dear Diary. We played Prescott tonight. J. V. lost, but Varsity won 65 to 60. Donna poked me when Larry L. ran onto the field. I don’t care about him anymore. Mel was sitting on the other side of me so, I just gave her a wide-eyed forget about it stare. I didn’t need Mel knowing my once upon a time crush was on the field. We (Mel, me, Evan, Donna, Janice Schmidt, and Corrine) went to the dance after the game. The dance wasn’t so hot, but at least I got to show off Mel to a few people. Mmmm is all I can say. How can I explain how he turns me on? When his blue eyes give me that look…like he can see right inside of me, I melt. His black, black hair does this little curl thing on his forehead. His smile is crooked, and oh my god it’s so cute that it’s all I can do to not attack him. I get quivers that start in my chest and work their way all the way to you know where. Too boss!! Gary Sanders was there and not with Darlene. Just another fling for him I suppose. Did I tell you he’s a sophomore and Darlene is a frosh? Anyway, I guess he’s moved on again. I heard him say, “Like her? Of course not.” Or something like that. Guess he never did. I wonder if his younger brother, Jim, is as much of a playboy as Gary. They seem totally dif. Gary has straight brown hair and a bigger build, but not muscular. Jim has the cutest curly hair, kind of tipped in blond. He’s more athletic looking like a runner or something. They’re both cute. Fun night!

January 18, 1964 Saturday

I’m on the verge of tears, Diary. Mel called a little while ago. He was coming over, but Mum and Dad are going out. What makes me want to cry is he said, “I sure wish you could date.” All I could do was agree. He said he was going on to a party in Cave Creek. We were both invited, and he originally turned down the invite because I couldn’t go. Now, I guess he’s going without me. I lay on my bed listening to the radio after we hung up. Bobby Vinton came on singing “There I’ve Said it Again.” I wish I’d said it to him. If it’s the last wish I get, I want to go on my first real date on my 15th birthday and with Mel. Oh, Mel! Please don’t meet someone new at the party!!! Please, please, PLEASE! Tonight, I’ve known him two weeks. 

January 19, 1964 Sunday

Forgot to mention last night that Donna spent the night with me. Today has been the most fun ever. Mel told me he had an awful time at the party last night, and that made me so happy. Mel, Donna, Evan, Corrine, and I went to the school and played baseball and goofed around. The sun shone on us, and the air was there just for us to breathe. Do you know how it feels to be so in charge of life? To laugh and touch and know you’re so alive? On top of that… I. Love. Mel. He’s such a nut, and a lot of fun to fight with. Play fight. Donna and I had a knockdown, drag out fight too. But just for fun like Mel and me. We ended up at Donna’s. Her mom cooked us hamburgers which was really nice. Her mom is kind of different. But down deep she’s nice. Donna told me her older sister got pregnant a few years ago. Her younger brother is really her nephew. Her mom and dad have raised him like he’s theirs. I can’t imagine. I’ve seen her sister once. She isn’t around much. When the guys left, Donna and Evan were locked in a kiss like you wouldn’t believe, and her mom walked in. Not much conversation after that! 

January 20, 1964 Monday

Dear Diary, Mondays are like eating too many potato chips. They’re so good, but half way through the bag, they make you sick. I should be happy, but I feel melancholy. Last night, on the phone with Mel, he asked me to tell him whether I liked him or not. I couldn’t bring myself to say it, so I joked around about it which resulted in making the conversation difficult. He got rather angry. Tonight when he called, he asked me again. I finally said, “okay, I like you.” He’s told me twice how much he likes me. Then the conversation took a weird turn. He told me about Joyce. He loved Joyce. They were together for over a year. I think I’m going to cry. He said he’ll never feel for anyone like he did her. I love him. No matter what happens, I always will. I’m crying. I better go wash my face and go to bed.

“Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.”

Monday, February 22, 2021

Bits and Pieces of Characters by Joanne Guidoccio #MuseMonday #Inspiration


Please welcome back Joanne Guidoccio to Discover... She is always welcome and has a great Muse Monday for us today.

Having lived and taught in different cities throughout the province of Ontario, I have felt free to “borrow” characteristics from friends, former colleagues, and students to create composite characters in my novels.

That was the modus operandi for the first five novels I wrote: Between Land and Sea, The Coming of Arabella, A Season for Killing Blondes, Too Many Women in the Room, and A Different Kind of Reunion.

While writing No More Secrets, I followed a slightly different path.

Angelica Delfino, the protagonist, is also a composite character. But this time, I borrowed from the Italian women of my mother’s generation. And, yes, I did include bits of my mother’s life. Before she died, Mama read an early draft and commented, “I can see myself here, as well as…” and then she mentioned several relatives and close friends.

The three nieces—Velia, Nora, and Teresa—belong to Generation Y. While sketching their characters, I considered former students but also thought back to my own experiences.

Growing up, I was surrounded by several friends and relatives who resembled Velia, the quintessential good Italian girl who followed the script. While I demonstrated some of her self-discipline and motivation for academic achievement, I didn’t marry at an early age, nor did I choose to stay home and raise a family.

Nora, Velia’s polar opposite, is considered the black sheep of the clan. Impulsive and carefree (at times reckless), Nora has taken many risks in her personal and work lives. Her disastrous marriage barely lasted one year. Often described as a Career ADDer, she experimented with several careers before finding her niche as an interior designer. In my late twenties and early thirties, I did go through a brief period of job-hopping.

Like Teresa, the youngest niece, I settled in Guelph, a mid-sized city in south-central Ontario. We are both introverts and teachers at Catholic school boards, but the resemblance ends there. A theology department head, Teresa is more spiritually inclined. Early in the novel, she speaks wistfully about her missionary work–something I admire but could never do.

Bellastrega, aka Lynn Miller, started off as a minor character. Initially, I intended to have Angelica’s psychic companion appear briefly in the first chapter. All that changed after she started invading my dreams. She ended up with her own POV and full control of the epilogue. Her character was inspired by a psychic in Northern Ontario. While I don’t possess psychic abilities, I do share a common interest with Bellastrega. When I retired twelve years ago, I made wellness a priority in my life. Many of Bellastrega’s comments and suggestions could easily have come from me.


Angelica Delfino takes a special interest in the lives of her three nieces, whom she affectionately calls the daughters of her heart. Sensing that each woman is harboring a troubling, possibly even toxic secret, Angelica decides to share her secrets—secrets she had planned to take to the grave. Spellbound, the nieces listen as Angelica travels back six decades to reveal an incredulous tale of forbidden love, tragic loss, and reinvention. It is the classic immigrant story upended: an Italian widow’s transformative journey amid the most unlikely of circumstances.


Inspired by Angelica’s example, the younger women share their “First World” problems and, in the process, set themselves free.


But one heartbreaking secret remains untold...



“Go,” Kelly said. “Your aunt is dying, and this could be your last opportunity to spend some quality time together.”


“Her oncologist shared good news last week,” Nora said. “Her blood counts have improved, and the cancer hadn’t spread since her last visit. He mumbled something about a miracle.”


“A miracle?” Kelly’s eyes widened. “Has your aunt been seeing a healer?”


“You could say that,” Nora said as her eyes twinkled. “Right after Christmas, she hired a companion who’s been able to transform her life. I don’t know her real name. My mother calls her Bellastrega—beautiful witch.” All recent conversations with Ma had focused on Bellastrega. Relieved not to have to share her own problems, Nora had encouraged her mother to talk about the beautiful witch who had turned all their lives upside down. Nora enjoyed the weekly updates that sounded like soap operas.


“Is she a beautiful witch?”


Nora shrugged. “My mother mentioned her dyed-blonde hair, too-skinny body, and watery eyes. She’s put Zia on a vegan diet and an exercise regimen. At Christmas, Zia needed a walker to get around, but now she’s walking freely. My mother and aunt are convinced that Bellastrega is a witch who’ll end up robbing Angelica and leaving.” Nora had tried to point out that if Bellastrega’s intention was to steal, it would make more sense to let Angelica get weaker.       


“She sounds intriguing,” Kelly said. “I’d go just to meet this woman.”


“Hmm. I guess.” Nora was curious and wouldn’t mind sitting and chatting with the woman about wellness. But from Zia Angelica’s email, it sounded like Bellastrega would leave soon after everyone arrived.


  “Think of it as an adventure. How many beautiful witches have you met in this lifetime?” 


Book Trailer 


Purchase Links


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Author Bio


A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Joanne writes paranormal romances, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Website –



Friday, February 19, 2021

Beating the COVID Blues by Alice Renaud #FearlessFriday #Inspiration #WritersLife


Please welcome Alice Renaud back to Discover... with an inspirational Fearless Friday. 

The pandemic has turned many people’s lives upside down. Things, habits, beliefs that seemed solid and durable have melted away like snow. Routine activities like going to the shops, riding a bus, attending church, are suddenly fraught with danger.

Have I done something rash recently? Hell, yeah. I went to church and took Communion, then I took the bus back home. Armed with my mask, hand sanitizer, and a six-foot force field around me to stop people coming too close, I felt like Ranulph Fiennes trekking across Antarctica.

COVID has undoubtedly made us a lot more fearful. Yet the more time I spend at home, the more I avoid risks, the more I realize that I do need some excitement in my life. I need to try something new, to push the boundaries, to take a little bit of risk. Otherwise my brain and even my body start to feel… stale. Like a house closed up for too long. I yearn to open a window and let the fresh air in.

So, what to do, when we are deep into our third lockdown, and can’t even sit outside because it’s pelting down with rain? How can we be a little more fearless?

Thank God for writing. My Fearless moments in the past months have come from stretching myself as a writer. Getting out of my comfort zone. Experimenting with new genres, characters, styles.

During the first lockdown, last spring, I wrote my first sci-fi romance story. Appropriately, it’s about a cowboy who goes much further and takes far more risks than I ever could. He goes into space, to another planet. Albastra is a beautiful world, blue and peaceful, but it is ridden with germs, every one of which is deadly to humans. When the cowboy meets the gorgeous alien Melynas, he soon falls for her, but one kiss could be fatal… You won’t be surprised to learn that I got my inspiration from a lockdown dream! The story, Space Cowboy Blues, is included in the BVS romance anthology Cowboy Desire, on pre order now for only $0.99.

Then during the second lockdown, in November, I wrote my very first gay/menage story. It is set in Las Vegas, features a mermaid, a witch and a warlock, and will hopefully be out later this year (if my publisher agrees) in a new BVS anthology, Rainbow Desire.

Whatever our circumstances, stories can help us escape, at least in spirit. I hope you will enjoy this latest offering from BVS and its talented authors, and hope you and your family are safe and well. As Tiny Tim says at the end of A Christmas Carol, “God bless us, everyone!” 

Buy Link for Cowboy Desire: 

Blurb for Cowboy Desire

Cowboy Desire is an eclectic assortment of short stories. Including contemporary, historical, fantasy, and even outer space romance, Cowboy Desire offers fourteen stunning short stories.

These fourteen authors provide a range of sweet to sexy stories all with a cowboy theme. They feature strong men and women battling the weather and dangerous terrain, here on earth and in outer space.

The collection is as diverse as the authors who wrote them. Here’s a chance to discover new talented authors and the characters they create. Within these pages, there are blends of tender, often moving, thought-provoking and downright sexy stories. 

Blurb for Space Cowboy Blues

Josh is a space cowboy. His job? Taming alien species. But on the blue planet Albastra, the beautiful Melynas is more than a match for him. He'd love to get close to her... but everything on Albastra is lethal. Including her...


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Dear Diary, Episode Two

 Dear Diary is a serialized account of one girl's teen years in the 1960s. Although based on my own diaries, the story is fiction. The angst, family drama, and joy are real enough for teenagers in any era. This is an experiment for me. I'm sharing with you the rough, first draft, the skeleton, of what could become a novel. If you  missed any episodes, go to the Index in the right column and click on “Dear Diary” for past posts.


On the following pages is my life from January 1 through December 31, 1964. Freshman and Sophomore years at Columbus High School. Go Stallions! My best friend in grade school, Janice Schmidt, gave me this diary for 8th grade graduation. I’m fourteen, 5’5”, blonde (made blonder by Gentle and Blonde), and I weight 124. I live with my mother, father, sister (Sandy age 11), and my brother (Davie age 2). 


January 8, 1964 Wednesday

Dear Diary, school today as you know, and I was upset by the end of the day. I got my first B grade on a history test. I’ve had straight A’s. How did this happen? Daddy told me not to worry and to tell my teacher I was too busy making history to study history. He can be such a nut. Then tonight started as a tragedy. First Mum and Donna’s mom said we couldn’t go to the get together at Corrine’s on Friday because her mom and dad left last time we went to a party there. Mum said I could have it at my house to 11:00. But I wouldn’t settle for that. I wanted midnight, so I told her to forget it. I was the one that insisted parents were impossible, and we went round and round about it. Finally, Mum compromised, and we settled for between 11 and 12. I called Corrine. Mel was there and Ron too. She kept saying no, she wanted to have it at her house, so I came right out and told her why. Then Mel got on the phone, and he agreed with me. I got mad at Corrine. She was being so stubborn. After much confusion, we at least decided that we would first go to the game. I think everyone will come here after, but like I said—lots of confusion. I still adore Mel. He likes me too. 

January 9, 1964 Thursday

Dear Diary, I wasn’t feeling well this morning so I stayed home. When Dad came home from work, he made me come to my senses. I realized I’ve been crawling for everyone. I couldn’t stand up for myself, so I had a blow up with Corrine. She can be so stubborn. Mel called. He wanted to go to Encanto instead of my place on Friday. I got disgusted. I told him my place or no place and the truth about why I couldn’t go to Corrine’s. Really read him off, but nicely. After jabbering at him, he was silent a second then said, “I’m proud of you.” I felt so good. I was afraid he wouldn’t understand, but he’s so sweet. He even said, “anything you say beautiful.” Corrine called because Mel called her. She was like all jolly and agreeable. We’re coming to my house before and after the game for eats. Yeah! My dad can give the best advice. He tells funny jokes too. 

January 10, 1964 Friday

Dear Diary, school flew by until last period English. I was so looking forward to tonight. Ms. Beck caught me daydreaming and asked me a question which I blew. I usually like her, but that was mean. The three couples went to the game together (me and Mel, Donna and Evan, and Corrine and Jerry Parsons…Ron stood her up, the dork). Mum let me go in the car with Mel! Donna and Evan were with us. Flash drove Jerry and Corrine to the game and then to my house afterwards. We played at St. Mary’s (80 to 34 our win!). Then everyone came to my house until midnight. We listened to music, danced a little in the play room. Mum had some snacks made for us. My tape recorder mic is broken so Mel took it home to fix it. He’s so nice and funny, such a nut. He flips me. We had tons of fun. Mum and Dad are just great. They invited everyone to come over for hamburgers on Sunday if they want. After the guys left, Mum took us over to Donna’s to spend the night, and we dreamed together. Mel! Mel! Mel! He kissed me goodnight too!! 

January 11, 1964 Saturday

Dear Diary, woke up at Donna’s about 8:15. We were supposed to wash cars for the freshman car wash, but I sort of had laryngitis for a while. Donna was plugged up too, and her parent’s car had a flat tire. Oh well. Mel called me at Donna’s, and he sounded sick. He’d planned on going to the car wash to see me and get his car washed, but since we didn’t go that didn’t happen. Corrine went and washed cars with Vince Larson who everyone calls Moose. She likes him. He said he’d meet her at the dance on Friday. I don’t know if he initiated that or if Corrine is being pushy and imagined it. Mum picked up Donna and me, and we went to Christown Mall. I got capris and a blouse for tomorrow. Mel went to the movies tonight. Oh well… 

January 12, 1964 Sunday

Dear Diary, it’s 5:30, and I’m still hoping Mel will call. I still have Francais devoirs. Have to conjugate a bunch of verbs. Ugh. Easy but boring. No one came over today for hamburgers. Evan had to go to work at 1:00. Donna and I went to the Fox Theater to see Move Over Darling with Doris Day and James Garner. Pretty funny. We (family) might go see Four for Texas tonight. So that’s all. FLASH: Mel is coming over at 7:00!! Ernie and Donna too. 

January 13, 1964 Monday

Dear Diary, normally I love school, but not Algebra. It’s first period so I’m late a lot and that doesn’t make Mr. Levitz any too happy. I’ll be lucky to get a B in the class. I got a B on the test today, but I’ve flunked two tests and gotten an A on one and another B on one. Other than that, school wasn’t bad today. I discovered one of my girlfriends, Sharon Pritchard, is going with a senior I knew back when I was in 3rd grade and he was in 7th. She’s bringing him to the school wrestling match tomorrow. We’ll talk over old times when we were kids. Walked over to Corrine’s after school. Mel was there. He’s so sweet. He’s going to the wrestling match too. Moose invited Corrine to a hayride on the 25th so I guess it’s for real. She likes him for sure. 

January 14, 1964 Tuesday

Dear Diary, this day started out good for one reason…looking forward to seeing Mel at the wrestling match after school. I now know I should have been more understanding, but I’m pigheaded. He was in a real bad mood, and I got angry with him. He wasn’t his usual sweet, funny self which irritated me. He hardly spoke, eyes on the match the whole time. I saw Sharon on the other end of the bleachers, and I would’ve gone over there but Mel wouldn’t get up. One of the freshman boys sitting behind us played with my hair for a while, telling me how it felt like silk. Even that didn’t get any reaction from Mel. He drove Corrine and me home, and I wouldn’t sit by him. I didn’t even kiss him goodbye. I hopped out of the car and slammed the door. When I got in my room, I cried. I’d stop for a minute and then think of how selfish I am and cry more. I felt like hell. When he called, relief poured through me so I could hardly talk. He’s depressed. We talked from 8:00 to 10:00. He thinks deep about life and things, and it depresses him. I know exactly how he feels. This makes me love him more. I sure hope he feels better.

“Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.”

Monday, February 15, 2021

Ripped From the Pages... #MuseMonday #inspiration #wrpbks


When I don't have a guest on Muse Monday, I'll share excerpts with photos that inspired scenes from my books. The scenes are most likely never before shared excerpts. 

This scene inspired one of the other books in the series, The Power of Love and Murder. Penny gets the starring roll in book four after her audition in the first book of the series, The Art of Love and Murder.

Ripped from the pages... of The Art of Love and Murder

“Hello, Ms. Dahl. Were the tacos at the Kachina as good as I promised?”

Lobby of the haunted hotel and inspiration
for the Grand View Hotel in the book.

The young hotel clerk greeted Lacy as she strolled through the nearly century old lobby on her way to the stairs and her room. The young woman’s petite stature and perky, twenty-something personality seemed in direct contrast to the black spiked hair, piercings and black rimmed eyes. Lacy had dubbed her the Black Fairy when she’d checked in two hours ago.

“Every bit, Penny. And the margarita was strong.” She wondered if the young woman always dressed Goth or if she embraced the spirit of the Grand View Hotel’s reputation. The night shift and the Agatha Christie setting suited her look. “I think I’m tired. I better get to bed.”

Penny smiled an impish, close-mouthed grin. “Got big plans for tomorrow?” She crossed her arms on the white marble counter. Black, elbow-length gloves with the fingers missing displayed delicate fingers ending in black nail polish.

“I’m getting out tomorrow for some research I’m doing, art gallery and maybe a museum.” Lacy breathed in the musky scent of the ages-old lobby. Or maybe the Black Fairy’s perfume? “

Standing in the stairwell of the real hotel 
and inspiration for the book.
Are you writing a book or something on Flagstaff?” “No, I’m trying to find the artist of some sketches left to me.” She yawned. “And I better get to bed so I’ve got the energy for the long day tomorrow.” She hiked her purse strap higher on her shoulder. “Is there a park nearby or somewhere I could do a little running in the morning?”

“A small park. One block north and a couple of blocks west. But it’s pretty small.” “I’ll have to make do. Goodnight, Penny.”

“Goodnight, Ms. Dahl.”

The short flight of stairs challenged her as she trudged, tiredly pulling each foot up to the next step. The
floral carpeting, narrow hallway and gold patterned wallpaper transported her back in time. The renowned hotel, beautifully restored, reflected the era of the 1920’s. The antiquated wall lamps dimly lit the hall, casting warm shadows of the past. She walked where many famous people had traipsed in the last century.

One of the many famous who
have stayed in the hotel.

Halfway down the hall, she stopped at her door and fished out her old-fashioned brass key from the pocket of her jeans. Had her mother and father walked this hall, slept in one of these rooms, maybe made love? Drowsily, she mused as the heavy key clicked in the lock. Had she been conceived here, only to be left orphaned months after her birth, before Kaya Mockta and Hartmut Luschin could be married?

FYI - All the Love and Murder Series books are on sale until 2/19/2021.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Dear Diary, Episode One

Dear Diary is a serialized account of one girl's teen years in the 1960s. Although based on my own diaries, the story is fiction. The angst, family drama, and joy are real enough for teenagers in any era. This is an experiment for me. I'm sharing with you the rough, first draft, the skeleton, of what could become a novel.


On the following pages is my life from January 1 through December 31, 1964. Freshman and Sophomore years at Columbus High School. Go Stallions! My best friend in grade school, Janice Schmidt, gave me this diary for 8th grade graduation. I’m fourteen, 5’5”, blonde (made blonder by Gentle and Blonde), and I weight 124. I live with my mother, father, sister (Sandy age 11), and my brother (Davie age 2). 


January 1, 1964 Wednesday

Dear Diary, Not much happened today. Hung around the house. Watched some TV. I had a wonderful Christmas. My main gift was a transistor tape recorder! Mum (I decided to call her that now. I think it sounds cool. So English like the Beatles) was sick most of the day. They came home stoned last night. I heard Daddy stumble into a door, and Mum say, “You’ll never drink rum again.” Then he said something about wine. Daddy didn’t look too bad this morning. I’m guessing Mum should never drink wine again. New Year’s Eve is always a big deal to them. This year, Mum’s dress was a white, sheath, with rhinestones and beads in swirls down the front. She looked sexy. Daddy patted her butt as they went out the door. The party this year was at Aunt Velda’s house. Of course, I was stuck babysitting Sandy and Davie. Sandy doesn’t really need babysitting. She babysits for neighbors sometimes but never real late like tonight. I wanted Denise to come here and spend the night, but Aunt Velda thought we’d get into trouble or something. She’s so strict. It’s no wonder Denise sneaks out when she can. Mum wouldn’t push the issue. I spent most of the night on the phone. 

January 2, 1964 Thursday

Dear Diary, school’s in again. Seems so silly to go back for two days. I nearly flipped out right after lunch. I walked with Donna down the hall to her next class. Larry Lowdon is always there too. He’s a senior and is so hot. She knows he turns me on. He lives next door to her so she sees him all of the time. Well, she just had to stop and ask him if he wanted a French fry. I stood dumbfounded. I hope I wasn’t drooling. He must be six feet tall, wavy blond hair, and the warmest blue eyes. I just have to get to know him. Another turn on—Gary Sanders—said hello to me twice today! He’s a sophomore. All I could do was say hi. Why do I freeze up like that?

 January 3, 1964 Friday

Dear Diary, school went as usual. Had an Art Club meeting right after school. I joined before Christmas. I also joined Pep Club. I think I need to be active in on-campus activities. It’ll look good in my records. Went to the football game with Donna and Janice. We played Flagstaff on our field. We almost won. Larry L. was just too much. We waited afterwards so I could see him walk out of the dressing room. But as my luck goes, he went the opposite way home and walked. We rushed over to Donna’s house to catch a glimpse. Got there just as he went in his house. At least I saw him. He’s wild. I’m crazy. O-o-o-o Fate just has to work my way. I guess Gary Sanders likes Darlene Davis. That’s the general assumption. I’ve seen them talking in the halls. I can’t say she isn’t pretty. Her blonde hair is real, but she has this attitude about her. Like she knows something the rest of us don’t. It’s kind of intimidating. Sure hope this weekend is fun. Corrine is having a party, but I don’t really know anyone she’s inviting that I’m dying to see. Her older brothers will probably invite some people too. I don’t much like them. Flash is nasty mouthed and Ed likes to tease me. Flash dropped out of school last year. Ed is a year past high school but still living at home. At least I don’t have much homework this weekend. 

January 4, 1964 Saturday

Dear Diary, Wow! How could I have thought this night wouldn’t turn out fun. Corrine had her party at 7:30 to midnight. I never had so much fun. He’s is too much. His name is Mel Allen, junior, 17, cute as they come. Goes to P.U. I thought I was lost when I told him how old I am but not so. If only, I hope, he asks Corrine about me. I must see him again. He’s an absolute nut. He had us all in stitches. He’s too much. I’ll simply die if I never see him again! I’m so sleepy I can’t write anymore but oh wow! 

January 5, 1964 Sunday

Oh, Dear Diary, I called over at Corrine’s today, and Mel was there with Ron helping clean up. My heart started pounding when I heard. She told him I was on the phone, and he wanted to talk to me. Man! He is really tough. He asked me what I was doing next Friday night. I hope I didn’t sound all girlie excited. He said that Corrine’s mom and dad, Corrine, Ron, Donna, Evan (Donna’s new boyfriend), Mel and I could go to Riverside! I didn’t know underage could even get in there. I know Mum and Dad have gone there to listen to country music and dance. I guess since Corrine’s parents would be with us, we could get in. I’m working on it. I sure hope my parents consent. I’m just ape over Mel. One of Donna’s friends called me. His name is Gary Tripp. He sounds nice. 

January 6, 1964 Monday

Dear Diary, tragedy. I talked to Mel tonight. He went over to Corrine’s and wanted me to meet him there, but I couldn’t go on such short notice. Plus, I’d already had the big row with the parents. I wasn’t even talking to them and to ask them if they’d take me over to Corrine’s for an hour would’ve just been impossible. He said some of the sweetest and nuttiest things. But like I said, tragedy. Young, young, young! Donna and I can’t go to the Riverside Friday night. I’m not on good terms with my parents. How could they? I am not that young! But they don’t trust Corrine’s parents. Oh, Mel! If he doesn’t call or come over tomorrow, I’ll know it’s all over. I’ll die, die. I’m mad over him. Gary T called too. He’s such a nut. What a crap ending to my day. I totally struggled with the science test. Ms. Chute loaded on the English homework. And now this. 

January 7, 1964 Tuesday

Dear Diary. The day was a drag man drag! I was so depressed. I had no pep for the pep club so I didn’t stay for the meeting. But I’m on better terms with the parents. Really what good does it do to linger on bad feelings? They really are super most of the time. Plus, Corrine came up with an idea. Corrine spent the night with me. Ron, Evan, and Mel came over for about an hour. Donna couldn’t make it. He’s still so cute and nutty. I flipped. Since we can’t go out Friday to the Riverside, Corrine’s going to have a very small get together at her house. I can’t wait till then. Gary called while Mel was here. Mel asked me who that Gary guy is. Whoa man! He wasn’t joking either. I sure like him.

“Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.”

Monday, February 8, 2021

Romance New Zealand Style #Discover #MuseMonday #HistoricalRomance


Hello! Firstly, I’d like to thank Brenda for hosting me on this blog. 

You're very welcome, Cherie. It's not everyday I have a guest from New Zealand. Please tell us about yourself and your book.

I’m CHERIE LE CLARE and I write historical romance and contemporary romance set in New Zealand. 

I invite readers to join my newsletter list. Send your name and email address to: 

I’ve dedicated this book to Kate Sheppard, in recognition of her campaigns to improve New Zealand women's lives through the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and via the Women's Suffrage movement. Her final petition to Parliament succeeded in New Zealand women gaining the right to vote in 1893.

Kate is pictured on the NZ $10 note. 

COLONIAL BRIDE is set in 1891 when social change activists were nudging New Zealand towards becoming a more egalitarian society. They’d faced an arduous, and very long sea journey, emigrating to the other side of the world, not knowing if they’d ever see some of their friends and family members again, and many hoped to better their lives without the stifling constrictions of the social class snobbery in Britain and Europe. 


The hero and heroine are total opposites: Griffith (Griff) is light-hearted and impulsive; Victoria (Vita)  is serious and thoughtful. He’s decisive; she’s hesitant. He knows what he wants; she only knows what she doesn’t want.

How can romance between them ever have a future? 


       Griff’s arms closed around her. “And your mother never forgave you?”

       Vita let out a sob. How was he so perceptive?

       “But I do.” He moved and she glanced up, her heart melting as he gently stroked a strand of hair from her forehead. “I do!”

       Her eyes widened. “You don’t think I was being selfish?”

       He planted a kiss on her cheek and whispered into her ear, “My love, you made a very brave choice.” Then he palmed her face in both hands and held her eyes with his as he said, “And it was the right one.”

       Her heart thumped hard at his understanding response.

       And then his expression darkened, and apprehension slid coldly down her spine. What was to come?

       “Sweetheart, I’m very much afraid that you’re not quite ready for marriage.” He heaved a sigh. “Not even if I were able to prove that I’d never knowingly hurt you.”

       Vita’s heart sank. “Oh, but…”

        “I desire you very much…” He gave her a sad smile. “I know I once said intimacy was negotiable but my feelings for you have grown too strong now.” His eyes searched her face. “I really couldn’t bear you not reciprocating, or enjoying my attentions.”

       Her eyes filled with tears. “No, don’t say that…” Her hands covered his but he slipped from her clasp, and stepped back.

       “Farewell, my dear.” And as if his mind was firmly made up, he turned on his heel and strode quickly away.

       Vita stared after him, her lips trembling and tears streaming down her face. She’d ruined everything. It was all her fault.  

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Friday, February 5, 2021

Fearless Friday Book Sale #fearlessfriday #sale #series #romanticsuspense


This is a frightening good sale for Fearless Friday. ALL of the books in my Love and Murder Series are on sale for $.99 or $1.99. Wow! Want to check them out a little more before you buy? Read the first chapter of all of my books here: READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

Then head on over to one of three outlets to order your copies:




But this sale won't last forever. On the 19th, all books will return to their regular price. 

Jump on it now!

When the past and present collide, Lacy discovers her future mired in secrets, threats and murder.

Writing murder mysteries is all in a day's work until an obsessed fan brings Phoebe's stories to life.

Inheriting an Austrian Castle is an Alpine fairytale for August, until someone begins killing the heirs.

Penny’s secrets can ruin a presidential contender, got her family murdered…and mark her as the next hit.

A vengeful ex-husband isn’t the only obstacle to happiness for Laura Katz and Randy Silva…a high stake, bloody fight for his land puts them at risk.