Thursday, September 30, 2021

Reading and #Reviews (Black, Krentz)

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 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! 

Death by Sample Size by Susie Black

Everyone wanted her dead…but who actually killed her? The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank's corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly's colleague is arrested for Bunny's murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily murderer hellbent for revenge.

I know nothing about the world of wholesale fashion sales, of designer swimwear, and the people who populate that world. Sounds pretty glitzy and fun. Ms. Black plunks the reader down in the middle of it, and once I got the lay of the land, I had an enjoyable read. I love character novels, and Death by Sample Size has a ton of characters to keep a reader happy. The book is clever and humorous.


The Vanishing
by Jayne Ann Krentz 

Decades ago in the small town of Fogg Lake, The Incident occurred: an explosion in the cave system that released unknown gases. The residents slept for two days. When they woke up they discovered that things had changed—they had changed. Some started having visions. Others heard ominous voices. And then, scientists from a mysterious government agency arrived. Determined not to become research subjects of strange experiments, the residents of Fogg Lake blamed their “hallucinations” on food poisoning, and the story worked. But now it has become apparent that the eerie effects of The Incident are showing up in the descendants of Fogg Lake.…

Catalina Lark and Olivia LeClair, best friends and co-owners of an investigation firm in Seattle, use what they call their “other sight” to help solve cases. When Olivia suddenly vanishes one night, Cat frantically begins the search for her friend. No one takes the disappearance seriously except Slater Arganbright, an agent from a shadowy organization known only as the Foundation, who shows up at her firm with a cryptic warning.

A ruthless killer is hunting the only witnesses to a murder that occurred in the Fogg Lake caves fifteen years ago—Catalina and Olivia. And someone intends to make both women vanish.

I got the feeling this story was intended to be paranormal, and then I’d think it didn’t really want to go there. I had trouble getting vested in the characters. I can’t say the story was bad. I can’t say the plot was not well developed. I just couldn’t quite get into it. Sorry to be so wishy-washy, but the story kind of hit me as wishy-washy. But if you enjoy sort of paranormal people living amongst us and you like Ms. Krentz, you might enjoy it.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Writing Mental Health by Steven J. Kolbe #mystery #mentalhealthmatters


Please welcome Steven J. Kolbe to Discover... I'm so pleased to have him as a guest for Muse Monday with a very insightful post. Enjoy!

Since the advent of the noir, crime novels and shows have been filled with deeply flawed detectives. Sometimes this comes in the form of heroes who are less than moral. Other times it comes in the form of a mental quirk. Recent examples include a CIA officer with bipolar (Homeland), a police consultant with OCD (Monk), a private eye with tourettes (Motherless Brooklyn), and more active- and recovered-alcoholics than you can shake a stick at. While writing about a mentally defective detective can seem appealing, there are a few things you should consider first.  

A mental illness is not the same as a moral failing. I recently found myself helping a student check out a library book. He had settled on a book about serial killers. “Interesting,” I said. “Yeah, the killer was bipolar,” he replied. I nodded understandingly. “You know, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be the victim than the perpetrator of violent crimes.” He was astonished by this widely known statistic. Don’t be like my student and conflate “crazy” with “evil.” If your hero needs to overcome something, it should be their own stubbornness or shame about their illness.  

People with mental illnesses aren’t magic. I can remember vividly watching Homeland and my initial reaction. Claire Danes portrays Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer with bipolar I, the most severe form of the illness. Her manic episodes galvanize and propel her successfully through her international investigations, so much so that she frequently throws out her medication to turn on her connection-making superpower. While mania can produce extended periods of productivity, Mathison’s bipolar superpowers felt contrived for the sake of the plot. They also sent, I thought, a dangerous message: leaning into your madness unleashed your true genius. In the end, Mathison’s illness progresses so far she must receive electroconvulsive therapy. In Danes’ portrayal, we see some of the most extreme symptoms and treatments of the illness, plus a little magic. 

Most people with mental illnesses are ordinary. In fiction, recovered alcoholics frequently stare longingly at bottles they can’t drink, depressives lie motionless under mountainous blankets, and the otherwise unhinged twitch and tick outwardly for all the world to see. Don't let their diagnosis flatten your characters. They're real people too!  

EXCERPT of How Everything Turns Away

“I know what you’re going to say, but I have a plan. A new plan,” Ezra said.

“Other than finding the real Coast-to-Coast Killer?” Fr. Remy asked.

“Finding the real killer is my only hope of being exonerated and getting back to normal, but there’s something else I need to do.”

“What is that?”

“No meds.”

“You have to take your medication, Ezra.”

“Only if my doctor says I do, right? I just met with Dr. Palacios and he took me off two meds. I was on four; he took me off two, so now I’m down to two. That’s halfway there.”

The priest shrugged. “What will this prove, getting off your medications?”

“That I’m not crazy!”

“You were at your most unbalanced when you were not medicated. Or have you forgotten? Do you need me to play the tape?”

Once, after his incident at the café, Ezra called Julia at home. She didn’t answer, so he left a message, a three-minute message filled with a rambling, breathless rant, clocking in at two hundred and fifty words per minute. He sounded like a drunken auctioneer. Ezra passed on the miniature tape to Remy to play for him if need be.

“No, no,” Ezra said, defeated.

“If you get your old job back,” Remy continued, “you think Julia will come back?”

“She didn’t want to have children who are, you know, disturbed. If I can show her I’m sane, it will change everything.”

“There is nothing you can do about your DNA. Even if these genes were not expressed in you, you could still pass them down. She knew about your past, she met your mother, and she still married you. There is something else there.”

Ezra shook his head. “Can’t you see how this would solve everything?” 

Buy links:


Barnes and Noble:

 Find Steven on Instagram: @StevenJKolbe

Thursday, September 16, 2021

To Self-Publish...Or Not? #discover #selfpublish #indiepublish

My first book contract offer landed in my email inbox in 2009. I jumped around the house like my pants were on fire. Seeing an offer, the thrill of putting your creation out for others to enjoy, never gets old. I stuck with my publisher for eleven years. There is a comfort level in dealing with the same entity, especially if there are excellent editors and a friendly staff with which to work. They listened to me when I wanted my series handled differently. I chose a cover artist and was able to establish a rapport with her. The editor I had for my first book was wonderful but was also a writer and left soon after my book was published. The next editor saw me through the subsequent ten years. She helped me like a mentor and improved my writing skills. I’ll forever be thankful for the years we worked together. One of the things that changed in my life was she moved on to another career and quit editing for my publisher. 

Twelve books and eleven years later, I’m embarked on a new adventure in the publishing world. 

Many authors have self-published for years. I stuck with traditional publishing for various reasons. Designing a cover, getting the book edited, formatting a book and then uploading onto Amazon seemed daunting. I was scared. My author friends who have self-published and wouldn’t have it any other way, encouraged me. More control over your own path they told me. 

In the last two years, some events transpired and a few things happened in my life that made me rethink my career path. I needed a change. I’m now an editor as well as an author. In addition to editing for a publisher, I have a good freelance editing business. Helping authors shape their stories and polish their books gives me immense satisfaction. And for some reason, that gave me the impetus to consider self-publishing a new series. Also taken into account…a friend has gone into the book designing business. How convenient. An editor I know was available to edit for me, not to mention my critique partners are multi-published and excellent proofers. I could get my book polished. I would never, ever publish a book without an editor. And then the biggest thing—I sucked up my fear. 

I’m still on the learning curve even though two books in this series are out in the world, but I’m confident The Mackenzie Chronicles book 1 and 2 are polished products. Secrets of The Ravine released on September 15, 2020. Mystery on Spirit Mountain released September 15, 2021. Yet again, on both days, I jumped around the house like my pants were on fire. Publishing a book is exciting no matter how I do it. 

Secrets of The Ravine (The MacKenzie Chronicles book 1) 

The lies can haunt.

The truth can kill. 

When a ringer for her long-dead love walks into her life the same day skeletal remains are unearthed, Magpie MacKenzie can’t ignore the universe’s warning…solve the mystery or become the next victim.

After Lawyer Zack Peartree visits purportedly haunted Joshua, Arizona, he’s instantly drawn to the free-wheeling shopkeeper. His attraction thrusts him into a dangerous present embroiled in her past. 

Using clues from her father’s life and Zack’s déjà vu moments, the couple plunge into a treacherous race to save love and avoid a murderous fate. 


Mystery on Spirit Mountain (The MacKenzie Chronicles book 2) 

The past never sleeps.

The truth never dies. 

Only Harlan MacKenzie can sense the troubled history of the Big Purple House. When he’s hired to restore the historical mansion, he doesn’t foresee the secrets—secrets that entangle his family in deceit and murder.


Phaedra is selling the house that has been in her family for decades. As her friends-to-lovers relationship with Harlan escalates, she puts her values on the line and chances losing him.


After a stranger comes to town, weaving her web of deception, hell-bent on correcting an old grievance connected to the house, dark revelations of the past implode the present. Harlan and Phaedra are thrown on a dangerous path, not only risking love but possibly their lives. 




Monday, September 13, 2021

The Long Road to #Publication...Seeing Clearly’s Journey by Judythe Morgan #suspense


I'm so happy to welcome Judythe Morgan to Muse Monday on Discover... I'm always fascinated by the journey of a novel. I concur with Judythe...NEVER give up!

As writers go, I’m s-l-o-w. Think tortoise or probably closer to a snail writer. Seeing Clearly took seventeen years from idea to publication. Yep, you read that right. Seventeen years. 

The story idea began in 2003 as an inspirational women’s fiction with a grandmother raising her baby grandson. I was a new writer learning the craft. The idea was loosely formed and even looser written. 

As I wrote and reworked the plot with critique partners the idea evolved into a romantic suspense story. Same grandmother heroine and younger hero. 

In 2008 I began to enter the completed manuscript in writing contests. It placed in several. I was encouraged, but, at that point, it still needed work and I was sick of the story. 

I put the manuscript aside and worked on another story idea bouncing around in my head. 

Over the next ten years, I kinda forgot about Seeing Clearly. I published a military romance series titled PROMISES and started a contemporary small-town series, The Fitzpatrick Family. 

Then in 2019, I attended a Michael Hague workshop, which required a completed manuscript. The only one I had to take was Seeing Clearly. I dug it out. 

Between Michael’s input and brainstorming with the attendees, the manuscript evolved into a viable story of a widowed grandmother and an ex-cop who fight to save her kidnapped grandson. Drugs, murder, and the discovery of the child’s biological father’s identity threatened all their lives. It became a story I thought my readers would enjoy. 

Plus, the timing was finally right. Romances with older main characters had found a market and were more widely read. Seeing Clearly released in May 2020. 

Any writer will tell you the road to publication is not always easy. Seeing Clearly’s journey sure wasn’t. I share its journey to help readers enjoy the book more. 

And encourage writers, who are reading Brenda’s blog, that they should never give up.


Ex-cop Dawson McKey is consumed by revenge after a cartel's bomb kills his twin sons. He trusts no one and vows payback. He refuses to get close to anyone, let alone fall in love again. But widow Evie Parker challenges his thinking. She's raising her grandson after her only child and his wife die in a suspicious car accident and it's taking a toll. 

Alarms go off in Dawson's head when Evie receives threatening emails concerning her grandson. Then Evie’s nanny disappears with her grandson. Dawson knows something is deadly wrong. 

Pushed to their limits searching for the toddler, can Dawson and Evie learn seeing clearly is the only way to live and love?


Evie set the house alarm. To humor Dawson, she told herself, but it wasn’t the only reason. Their discussion had been unsettling. What if her son’s gambling addiction had turned her ranch oasis into a bull’s eye?

Nope. Not going there. Life had thrown so much at her lately and she’d survived. She was not going to look for more. She would not become a Dawson. She walked to Michael’s room. He slept soundly.

In her office, she put the baby monitor beside her computer and checked email. One message from Real Daddy caught her attention. I’m coming for Michael.

Strange name. She didn’t remember anyone using that email from the school list. Had someone gotten her email? Had the school given it out? Who was this person? Why had he or she sent her the message?

A prickly sense of unease traveled up her spine. What if this person was somehow connected to the accident? She’d lost her husband and her son. She wouldn’t lose Michael.

The jump to immediate alarm surprised her. She wasn’t usually like that, automatically assuming the worst. She was becoming paranoid like Dawson. The message had to be a mistake. A rare set of coincidences. A fluke.

Pressing the reply icon, she typed, Please check your e-mail address. I got this by mistake. Clicking SEND, she read the rest of her emails.

After a few minutes, the familiar chime of incoming mail sounded. MAIL DELIVERY FAILED: returning message to sender.

A cyber glitch? It happened. She tried again. Again, her message bounced.

She sucked in her breath. Little spiders with ice pick feet danced across her skin. Something wasn’t right. She picked up the phone to call Dawson, then replaced the receiver.

Not a good idea for lots of reasons. If she was going to discourage a relationship, she had to stop relying on him. Her nerves were on high alert after so much had happened. She’d call the school in the morning, see what was going on. Or, maybe whoever sent the email would figure out that they’d made a mistake. She pressed delete and cut off her computer.

Her toes sank into plush carpet in the hallway lined with family photographs. She ran her fingertips over the faces in the family portrait taken the Christmas before Gary’s heart attack and marveled at how much her life had changed. 

Buy links

Amazon Kindle:

Nook Book:



Amazon Author Page


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 with her urban farmer daughter 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 and Follow her on Twitter



Thursday, September 9, 2021

Kicking Off Fall with a Bookathon


NN Lights Book Heaven hosts the best festivals. The Fall into these Great Reads festival is in full swing. This wonderful event runs September 1 through September 30. Not only will you be introduced to some great reads, but it's easy peasy  for you  to enter a drawing for a $75 gift certificate. And you can get entries several ways, several times. What are you waiting for? CLICK HERE TO ENTER

On September 8th, Mystery on Spirit Mountain was a Fall into these Great Reads pick. Check  it out here and enter to win the gift certificate.

The past never sleeps. The truth never dies. 

Only Harlan MacKenzie can sense the troubled history of the Big Purple House. When he’s hired to restore the historical mansion, he doesn’t foresee the secrets—secrets that entangle his family in deceit and murder.


Phaedra is selling the house that has been in her family for decades. As her friends-to-lovers relationship with Harlan escalates, she puts her values on the line and chances losing him. 

After a stranger comes to town, weaving her web of deception, hell-bent on correcting an old grievance connected to the house, dark revelations of the past implode the present. Harlan and Phaedra are thrown on a dangerous path, not only risking love but possibly their lives.

And if you'd like to go straight to the Rafflecopter Giveaway Entry Form:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Dark Side of #Vanity (And Other #Personality Disorders) by DeeAnna Galbraith


Villains with personality disorders are fascinating. DeeAnna has such an interesting take on it. Read on! 

Narcissus. Remember him? Handsome young hunter whose father was a god and mother a water nymph? In one popular version of this piece of Greek mythology, (there are many), the poor boy spurned an advance from Echo, a mountain nymph. She was so devastated at being rejected, she faded away until nothing was left of her but a whisper. To enact revenge for his cruelty, the goddess Nemesis lured Narcissus to a pool of water. He had never seen himself and was so enamored he couldn’t bear to leave. And there he pined away—a flower which bears his name springing up in the spot where he died.

Adding insult to injury, his name is associated with a serious disorder, narcissistic personality disorder or NPD. NPD, along with other personality disorders usually obscure deep self-esteem issues manifesting from childhood. Unfortunately, the people hurt most by the disorder are the spouses, children, other relatives, and coworkers. These people are subjected to rage, lies, threats, and punishing manipulation.

Of course, not every jerk or prima donna hogging the mirror is a narcissist. But people with personality disorders are more common than people think. I know a couple of them personally and stay away from the toxic fallout. Following is an example of an NPD in the making.

A few years ago, a writer friend and I took turns selling our books at a weekly farmer’s market. A local cable station sent a crew to interview some of the vendors. When they got to our booth a woman with a handsome boy of about twelve walked up. The woman watched the interview, but the boy sidled into the back of our booth, making sure he was behind my friend, and full in the shot. He didn’t photo bomb the shot, he lifted his chin and moved like he was posing for a model shoot. He was dead serious about being seen and it was way creepy. Without knowing the family, I could tell they were in trouble with this kid. He just assumed it would be okay for him to be in a place he was not allowed and take advantage of something that had nothing to do with him. All the name of being seen and appreciated.

NPDs are big people users and control is important. Faced with a person who doesn’t see things their way, the afflicted person feels victimized. Any negative result from the disagreement is always the other person’s fault and the victim either slides into a rage or walks away in disgust. There is rarely a middle ground, or compromise. The person in conflict cannot win.

Once diagnosed by a medical professional, and the personality disorder is on record, the diagnosed person will often fight to have the entry expunged Their disorder does not allow them to believe there is anything wrong with them. It’s a misdiagnosis or outright lie.

Even if a person believes they have the disorder, they rarely get help. The road to a healthier mental life is long. Besides medication, years and years of psychological therapy is necessary.

This is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Assigning a personality disorder to a villain is tricky. They can flow from scorched earth to mellow and back again with charming efficiency.

In my next release (4th quarter, 2021), Creole Secret, the reader is introduced to a handsome, charming character, Étienne Chappelle. One of my protagonists, Rippa, is smitten until she learns the truth about him.

Étienne turns full face toward us, and I have to admit he’s classically handsome. Reminds me of a trip I took with Raif to Florence where we saw the recently restored Michelangelo’s David. Étienne is tall with dark, curly hair in need of a trim, chiseled features, and a nice, lean, muscular body. As if some poor milquetoast of a guy unwillingly donated his share of maleness so the young gardener would be blessed with extra. I can see why Rippa is keyed up.

I don’t feel as generous. His outgoing vibe is one of posing. Of cocky assurance that he is the center of interest.

If you'd like to read book one in the series, you can find Angel Falls here: AMAZON LINK

  • Bio: DeeAnna is a freelance editor and travel agent for happy endings (romantic
    suspense, women’s fiction, children's picture books, and mystery author). She writes and teaches for the love of it, has never met a dog she did not want to pet or a pie she did not want to taste. She tries to live life without props.

You can connect with DeeAnna here:

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Angel and The Demon by Terri Benson #western #romance


A prim, naïve preacher's daughter tasked with getting a handsome, persuasive train robber healthy enough to hang. What could possibly go wrong?

How about a western romance with plenty of action, great characters, and a complicated plot? I'm so happy to be able to announce the release of such a book by Terri Benson. 

Angelique Lawson, a prim, naïve spinster, has an injured, murderous train robber dumped on her doorstep with instructions to get him healthy enough to hang. The handsome, persuasive Demon Daugherty stirs feelings she’s never felt in all her twenty-four years, but it’s clear he’s not to be trusted. 

When his true identity becomes known and she has the opportunity for true love, her own past comes back to haunt her. It takes a deadly disaster to bring them together, only to have their plans spiked by a conniving woman intent on claiming Demon for her own, no matter the method. 

But Demons are fierce creatures and he risks it all to win Angelique back. Just when they think they have their happily ever after, a more violent, and persistent, threat comes between them.

Terri Benson has written a western romance that is sure to please. Get your copy today!


This man, this accused murderer—his face was the sort her dreams conjured. Perfectly proportioned. A faint puckered scar ran down the left side of his chin and another, crescent-shaped, was adjacent to his right eye. Rather than detracting, the slight imperfections reinforced his masculinity. A knight who’d fought a dragon to save his ladylove might have such scars. His hair, thick and lustrous, curled into a large comma-shape which dangled against his forehead.

She wished she could see his eyes. “Are they green? Perhaps blue? Would you look at me with longing like the handsome prince who rescues me each night? Would you want to run your hands over my…?” She clasped both hands over her mouth, mortified to find herself speaking of such things, even if he couldn’t hear her.

Forcing herself to focus on the task at hand, she fetched another basin of hot water and set about cleaning his lower body. She moved as quickly as possible, thankful the majority of blood had oozed down his hip and outside thigh to his knee allowing her to avoid his groin area. She used a torn piece of sheet to cover him, but her eyes kept straying to the spot as she smoothed the washcloth down his legs. Wondering. Imagining.

After wringing the last of the pink-tinged water from the cloth, Angelique stood at the foot of the bed and inspected the man. She noted several more scars, large and small, on his long, muscular legs. When her perusal reached the modest piece of white cloth, she made a conscious effort to address the bedding. She stripped off the blood-and-dirt-stained sheets, replacing them with clean, crisp linens smelling of sunshine and sage. The process took time as she heaved his unconscious body around as gently as possible.

After tucking in the last corner, she breathed a heavy sigh of relief and pulled the sheet up to his chin. She peered at his tranquil, handsome face, struggling to equate it to the face of a murderer. The man was not some noble knight. Not a highborn prince. Just a criminal soon to meet his maker, if the sheriff got his way.


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