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

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Reading and #Reviews (Novak, Cohen)

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.

Blind Spot by Brenda Novak

With Jasper Moore, the privileged boy who attacked her when she was only sixteen, finally caught and in prison, Dr. Evelyn Talbot, founder and head psychiatrist at Hanover House (a prison/research facility for psychopaths in remote Alaska), believes she can finally quit looking over her shoulder. She’s safe, happier than she’s ever been and expecting her first child. She’s also planning to marry Amarok, her Alaska State Trooper love interest and the town’s only police presence.

But before the wedding can take place, a psychopath from the much more recent past comes out of nowhere and kidnaps her in broad daylight. Instead of planning her wedding, Evelyn finds herself doing everything she can to survive, save her baby and devise some way to escape while Amarok races the clock to find her - before it’s too late.


The premise and blurb intrigued me. Unfortunately, the story didn’t hold me. The suspense never quite zinged. It felt more telling than showing. I hate to diss the book because I’ve met Brenda Novak, and she’s a great person. I know there are plenty of Novak fans out there that will hate me for giving her less than a five-star review. I just didn’t feel the chemistry between Amarok and Dr. Talbot. Her research facility didn’t seem plausible. The story had too many drag moments.

Sizzling Synopsis by Bryan Cohen

Do you hate writing blurbs? Do you wish there was an easier way to summarize your novel and get more sales in the process? Author and copywriter Bryan Cohen’s book descriptions have hit both the Kindle Store’s Top 50 and the USA Today Bestseller list. Let him show you exactly how to craft the copy you need to hook new readers.

Finally, you no longer have to take on the challenge of copywriting alone. With a more intriguing synopsis in place, all your future promotions, ads, and marketing campaigns can perform significantly better. You want more readers to buy your books, and Bryan’s system is a great way to make it a reality.

If you like detailed writing guides, plenty of examples, and a touch of humor, then you’ll love Bryan Cohen’s look behind the scenes at how he creates copy that sells.


The last paragraph in the blurb says it all. And although I’ve been published for twelve years and felt I knew what he was teaching, it clarified so much for me. For newbie authors, the simple way he has of teaching and showing will hit home. Great guide.