Friday, April 30, 2021

About Supernatural Beings Known as Houbies (and being fearless…or feckless) by J. Arlene Culiner #FearlessFriday #supernatural


It's always fun to have J. Arlene Culiner on Discover... Her Fearless Friday post is no exception. So grab a cup of whatever, sit back, and enjoy the read! 

     I live in an area of France where ancient sunken paths lead between villages or isolated farmhouses. Many of these dirt lanes, hidden behind high hedges, are pre-Roman, and when I walk along them, I think of long-forgotten peoples — Diablintes Aulerques or Abrincates — who wandered here two or three thousand years ago. 
     Less than a hundred years ago, these ways were still used by itinerant preachers, postmen, workers, shepherds, and cowherds who needed to get from one farm to another, one village to the next. Needless to say, I rarely meet another soul when I’m walking along these damp, shady, secretive lanes, and it’s easy to see why superstition held on longer in this region, why there are still village sorcerers, casters of spells, and a belief in supernatural beings. 
     Some years ago, I temporarily moved to an old house along a local river, and I particularly enjoyed walking along the old towpath that headed into a small forest before continuing on to the closest town. And one late spring evening, there I was, stuck in that town with my huge black dog named Dog, and with no way of getting home. Yes, I could have waited for a ride, but that would have meant killing off two or three hours. Wouldn’t it be more fun to walk? My house wasn’t far, only around five miles…or so I thought, for I had never gone the entire way on foot. I was quite wrong: it was almost twice that distance. I also hadn’t reckoned on darkness. 
I had covered quite a bit of ground when night fell, and I couldn’t find the path leading toward the wood.

     For the next hour or two, I stumbled over tree roots, headed down sunken lanes at random, and I always ended up in marshy fields or impenetrable thickets. Dog was of great help, finding a way through hedges, leading me to dry ground, but he couldn’t tell me which path was the right one. I wasn’t frightened — I didn’t have time for that — but I was unhappily resigned to the idea of wandering until dawn or sleeping curled up against a tree. The night grew colder: my long black coat and black scarf were warm, but not warm enough. 

     Finally, exhausted by my thrashing about, I was relieved to see a light far ahead. A feeble light, yes, but light meant electricity and civilization, didn’t it? And, sure enough, Dog and I soon found ourselves in a farmyard surrounded by barns and a low stone house. 

     I went up to the door, knocked. I heard voices inside the house, but no one answered. I knocked again. Then again. I couldn’t leave without getting directions.

     Finally, a window was opened, and a heavy wooden shutter was thrown back. A woman appeared, and she began screaming: “Go away! Go away, go away, go away!”

     “All I want are directions to the river…”

     “Go away!”

     “I’m lost. I need directions.”

     Behind her, a man materialized. He was holding a rifle. “Get away from here.” 

     I did, of course. Sticking around was unhealthy. But what odd people they were. Just my luck to find the strangest people in the area. I stayed lost for quite a while, then miraculously found a path to the river. After another hour or two, I was home. 

     A few days later, when sitting with a group of local people, I told them about my experience.

     “Of course they told you to go away,” said one man. “They were scared silly.”

     “Of what? Me? A lone woman with a dog.”

     “Yes, you. There you were, wearing that long black coat and walking with a black dog. They thought you were a houbie.”

     “What in heaven’s name is a houbie?”

     “An evil spirit in a black cloak who wanders through the countryside, brings back luck, and casts the evil eye. Local belief says that if a houbie asks a question and you answer, you’ll soon die. That’s why they wouldn’t give you directions. You’re lucky they didn’t shoot you.”

     “Many years ago, my father’s sheep were being stolen by a houbie,” said another man. “Everyone said there was nothing he could do, but my father wasn’t superstitious, so he took his gun, hid out in his field, and waited. One night, he saw a figure in a black cloak creep out of a hedge and head for the sheep. My father stood up, cocked his rifle and got ready to shoot. The houbie saw him, turned, and ran off leaving his black cloak behind. But my father had seen that the so-called houbie was his next-door neighbor.” 

     I can’t put my experience down to fearlessness. I was only being foolhardy…as usual. But I do love writing about fearless heroines. Like me, they always get themselves into tricky situations, or find themselves in dangerous parts of the world, or they take chances, or they risk falling in love with impossible people. But no matter what happens, they’re always fun to read about.


Find all of J. Arlene Culiner's books here: AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Her web site: Ms. Culiner's Web Site

Monday, April 19, 2021

Crime, Corruption, and Health by Kim McMahill #suspense #series


My guest, Kim McMahill's muse is doing a good job for her. Inspiration has netted her a sure fire successful series. Enjoy her tale...

I’m often asked about where I get inspiration for my stories. Ideas for my books come from many different places including dreams, travel, personal experiences (grossly exaggerated), and current issues. Most of my novels have been stand-alone adventure and romantic suspense novels, but the idea for my most recent project, the Risky Research Series, began to emerge as I started getting to an age when keeping fit and healthy started taking a little more effort and a lot more research. Nearly every woman I know, myself included, educates herself about nutrition, exercise, fitness, diets, etc. in order to live a healthier life, manage a medical issue, or to lose weight. I’ve found there is so much information out there that it is often difficult to sort out fact from fiction. The diet and nutrition industries are worth in the range of 40 to 100 billion, which makes it even more challenging to ascertain who or what to trust. With so much on the line for something that impacts nearly everyone, there is no doubt plenty of corruption and crime infiltrating the industry, making it perfect fodder for a crime suspense series. 

So, about six years ago I started the series with A Dose of Danger, which deals with a potential miracle diet pill. Book 2, A Taste of Tragedy, revolves around a deadly sweetener, book 3, A Foundation of Fear, explores the role of lobbyists and politics in the industry, and the latest novel in the series, A Measure of Madness, begins to see the criminal organization crumble as the FBI closes in. Like all good things, I hope, the series must end. I’m currently working on the fifth, and likely, final installment in the series. I also should mention that there are two prequel short stories available for free download, A Formidable Foe, and Midnight in Montana. 


FBI agent Devyn Nash's pursuit of a deadly organization heats up in this fourth installment of the Risky Research series.

The FBI locates the mastermind behind Coterie, but attempts to bring him in result in a shootout that sends Coterie’s members scrambling for cover. When Devyn’s partner is left fighting for his life in a Puerto Rican hospital, she becomes more determined than ever to bring them to justice.

Devyn’s decision to ignore her orders and pursue the head of Coterie to Brazil puts her job and her relationship with Sheriff Gage Harris in jeopardy, but she is unwilling to allow those responsible for so much death to live out their lives in paradise


Sharing her guilt with Gage drained Devyn. She returned to the shaded bench and plopped down. Wiping the sweat from her forehead, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes, trying to picture Gage’s handsome face rather than the blood oozing from Nick’s neck. “What are you wearing, cowboy.”

He laughed, and the sound made Devyn’s heart skip a beat.

“Well, I just finished with the chores, so I’m afraid I have on a dirty pair of blue jeans, an old faded t-shirt, cowboy boots, and a Utah Jazz ball cap, because that reminds me of that game we went to when I was in town for Nick and Morgan’s wedding.”

Devyn smiled. The image of their date night to a basketball game made her miss him all the more.

“I do love a man in uniform, but that outfit sounds pretty darn good to me right now, too.”   

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Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. She started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense and adventure fiction. Along with writing novels Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles and contributed to a travel story anthology. 

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Football and Food, a Great Combination! by Desiree Holt and Liz Crowe #recipe #WickedWednesday


What a wicked treat it is to have two great authors as my guests today on Wicked Wednesday, Discover...  Let's hear from Liz Crowe and Desiree Holt. Enjoy!

We love football (actually, I am obsessed with it!...Des) so it’s natural that we’d love tailgate foods. What is a tailgate, you say?

tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. Tailgating, which primarily takes place in the United States and Canada, often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food. Tailgate parties occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games and concerts. People attending such a party are said to be 'tailgating'. Many people participate even if their vehicles do not have tailgates. Tailgate parties also involve people bringing their own alcoholic beverages, barbecues, food etc. which is sampled and shared among fans attending the tailgate. Tailgates are intended to be non-commercial events, so selling items to the fans is frowned upon. Tailgating is often seen as a critical part of the sports experience in the United States. Because many American sports venues are surrounded by large parking lots, tailgating often takes place right outside stadium and arena entrances.

You want dishes that work well hot or cold and this one, Chipotle and Lime Roasted Potatoes, really appeals. It’s great hot or warm or room temperature and the dressing is addictive.


Cut up small potatoes, season with salt and toss them about with a spoon some more. Place them

in an oven to roast while you prepare your dressing. To prepare the dressing, chop up some chipotle peppers and add some garlic. Place them, in a small bowl and stir. Next zest your lime and add that to the small bowl. Then squeeze in the juice. Drizzle in some olive oil last and mix it all together. Let it sit and macerate while your potatoes finish roasting. Your potatoes will be golden brown and tender when they’re ready. Let them cool slightly so that they don’t cook the dressing. Then pour the dressing over it generously and stir it all together well. Sprinkle in the freshly chopped cilantro last for some extra flavor and freshness.  Wickedly hot and wickedly good!

A little background:

From Des: 

It’s funny how life makes things happen. Liz Crowe and I bonded over two things: we’re both authors and she lived at the time in Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the University of Michigan, my alma mater. I bleed maize and blue. Not only that I am a football fanatic. That should be in capital letters by the way (grin). We had batted back and forth the idea of writing a book together, but when she presented me with a football signed by both Jim and Jon Harbaugh, how could I say no!

From Liz:

Re: tailgating, I was the founder and owner /marketing director for a brewery that was located exactly one mile down Stadium Blvd. from The Stadium (a.k.a he Big House) where Michigan plays football. On 12 noon kickoff Saturdays, I’d be at the brewery early, for people to pick up their pre-ordered kegs or cases of or beer. And when I say early I mean six or six-thirty a.m.  because these folks took their tailgating seriously. I would then try and visit the various tents and parties where our beer was being served. A lot of tailgating in Ann Arbor occurs on the lawn of Pioneer High School, which is across the street from the Big House, which is John Harbaugh’s alma mater (he’s head coach of the Baltimore Ravens). My kids all attended there and played sports so I helped organize and run an athletic fundraising event honoring John and his brother Jim who’d just been hired as Michigan’s each coach. I made sure to get Desiree a signed football—a little bribe so she’d write with me!

NUMBERS GAME is the story of second chances. Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher needs to resurrect himself after nearly destroying himself with an addiction and Olivia Grant is trying to keep her ex-husband from tanking her career for the second time. They each consider the possibility of redemption but they have a lot of obstacles to overcome.

Buy it here!


Monday, April 12, 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. I didn't have a photo for this scene today. It's all in my head. But the photos do play in to the setting where Phoebe goes to get away and relax. Unfortunately, murder follows her.

This never before shared scene gives the reader a kick-start as to what the story is about in Southwest of Love and Murder, second book in the Love and Murder series.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of this or any of my books, go here: FIRST CHAPTERS

Ripped from the pages... of Southwest of Love and Murder

Hazel followed her to the base of the stairs leading to the loft where Phoebe spent at least three hours every morning, writing and consuming a couple of caramel lattes. The loft above had become her second office, bright with more lace topped windows, and decorated with scenic photos of Arizona on the walls.

“Did you hear about the murder on the Arizona State campus last night?” Hazel’s gray eyes glittered. The owner took joy in providing her with inspiration for her mystery novels.

“No, not yet.”

“Here.” Hazel snatched a newspaper off a side table. “Read this.”

“I’ll pull it up on the Internet. On campus, huh?” She paused with a foot on the first step. “Was the victim a student?”

“No, a professor.” The older woman slapped the paper against her leg. “I think his name was Carlyle.”

“Judas Priest.” A ripple coursed through Phoebe, and she gripped her coffee cup tighter. “Henry Carlyle?”

“Yeah, Professor Henry Carlyle. You know him?”

“I was married to him.”


Phoebe read the brief article again, Henry’s face staring at her from beside the three-paragraph report on her computer screen. A cold chill raced down her spine. She took a gulp of the hot latte as if needing the caffeine boost to jar her from her mesmerized state.

The details were sketchy but close enough. He’d been found late at night by the janitor in his university office, strangled. No sign of forced entry—exactly as she had killed him in her first novel. The novel that gained her an agent and kick started a career. She owed her success to her low-down weasel of a husband who’d slept with every co-ed that would ever lift her skirt for the handsome professor. He’d even cheated on their wedding day. And so, she’d written the novel and killed him off—safer than committing the crime.

But someone had actually done it.










Saturday, April 3, 2021

Reading and #Reviews (Koontz, Proell, Garner)

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! 

Watchers by Dean Koontz

It took me a couple of chapters to get into this book. I gave it more time than I normally do because of the author. I’m glad I hung in there. I’m a dog lover, so that might be why I didn’t give up. I came to really like the main character, Travis Cornell, too. He appears to be a mellow fellow but his past life is slowly revealed, and we learn he’s a whole lot deeper. When he meets a woman whose life is sad, and whose self-esteem is non-existent, the book takes on a new twist. The story is great. The characterizations are excellent. The premise is wild but believable.


On his thirty-sixth birthday, Travis Cornell hikes into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. But his path is soon blocked by a bedraggled Golden Retriever who will let him go no further into the dark woods.

That morning, Travis had been desperate to find some happiness in his lonely, seemingly cursed life. What he finds is a dog of alarming intelligence that soon leads him into a relentless storm of mankind’s darkest creation...


A Deadly Truth by Joyce Proell

Ms. Proell satisfied me for a second time. I read her first published book set in western times. Now this Victorian era romantic mystery was equally enjoyable. She has a knack for placing the reader deep in the time period. What I enjoy in a book are characters I can easily visualize and love to love or love to hate. Cady is a whip, a woman for her time and yet timeless. Doyle is a hero's hero. Cady's sleuthing into a student's murder and her subsequent involvement with Doyle kept me turning the pages.


When Doyle Flanagan finds two strangers in his library—one dead and the other the beautiful but meddlesome Cady Delafield, his life begins to unravel as all clues point to him for the murder. As the sexual tension sizzles and Victorian conventions crumble, Cady risks job, reputation and family ties to help him clear his name. Even as his life hangs in the balance, his passion for her drives him on, but will the truth about him be the one thing to scare her away?


Deadly Deception by Marissa Garner (Rogue Security Book 2)

Do you believe a nasty family secret can be hidden by some and ignored by other family members for decades? It can, and it does in Deadly Deception. Ms. Garner tackles an issue in this thriller in a most compelling way. I don’t want to give away the zinger, so I’m not going to go into what that issue is. In addition to the suspense, she’s thrown in a great romance. This is the second book in a series, but you don’t have to read the first to enjoy this book.


When her mother disappears, Jessica Hargrove's life begins to unravel. And her problems are only just beginning. A horrible secret has been revealed, threatening to destroy three generations of her family, and the one person who may be able to help her is the man she's never stopped loving, the man who once broke her heart....

LAPD Detective Sean Burke is back in his small hometown, pondering if his career in the big city is what he really wants anymore. As painful as it is to see Jess again, she needs him. He can't walk away when she's about to lose everything she holds dear. But will what he discovers ruin their second chance at love?