Monday, January 24, 2022

The Three Worst Pieces of Writing Advice By Marilyn Baron


Lots of reasons to enjoy my guest blogger, Marilyn Baron, today. First off...bad advice. Everyone gives out advice, so here is what not to listen to. Secondly, I love exotic locals. Exotic to us armchair travelers, but her books can take you there. Take us away, Marilyn.

When I began my writing career, I was given some great advice (Finish the Book!) by a number of authors I met, including Janet Evanovich and Daniel Silva; and some not-so-great advice by agents and editors.

Here are the three worst pieces of writing advice I’ve ever received: 

1. Agent: “Nobody is interested in World War II.” Me: Tell that to Kristin Hannah, who wrote one of my favorite books, The Nightingale, and any number of other bestselling authors with WW II-themed books. And tell that to my father, who was a top-turret gunner on a B-17 flying bombing missions from a base in England. 

2. Editor: I really like your book, but can you change the word Nazis to the evil ones or something like that? Me: Seriously?

3. Agent: I really like your book, but do you have to set it in Australia? Our audience doesn’t like books set outside of America. Me: I doubt that Outlander fans would agree. 

Naturally, I didn’t follow the bad advice, because many of my books are set in locations I’ve visited, such as Australia, Bermuda, Austria, Scotland, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Greece and Italy. In fact, my last historical romantic thriller, The Romanov Legacy, was set in Switzerland, Italy and Russia. And my 28th work of fiction (Yes, I can Finish a Book!), The Case of the Missing Botticelli, which releases today, is set in Florence and Venice, Italy. And yes, my books (Stumble Stones) do feature Nazis, the ultimate villains.

The Case of the Missing Botticelli, A Massimo Domingo Mystery, is the beginning of a new cozy mystery series I’m writing. In fact, Book 2 (The Case of the Vanishing Vermeer), set in Florence and Lake Como, Italy, is included in the first book. So, you get two Massimo Domingo Mysteries in one book.


In this cozy mystery, American art history major Hadley Evans joins an art detective agency in Florence, Italy, working for Massimo Domingo, once a major player, now the ‘Inspector Clouseau’ of the art world. Determined to save the flailing agency and prove her worth, Hadley and her sexy Carabinieri boyfriend, Luca Ferrari, take on a mysterious client behind her boss’s back. Hot on the trail of a missing masterpiece, they discover a hidden cache of stolen Nazi art in a Venetian villa and encounter an enemy with a link to an evil past. 

Spoiler Alert: Yes, this book does have Nazis.

So, be selective about what writing advice you follow and follow your heart. I write about what I know and what I like. My books include themes like art theft, WW II, and are often set in Italy, where I studied art history in Florence during my senior year in college.

Although I’m not Italian, I love all things Italy, including my favorite Italian dish, spaghetti alla carbonara. My grandmother name is Nonna, Italian for grandmother.

When you read The Case of the Missing Botticelli, you’ll see some of my life living in Florence reflected in the book. Like the heroine, I was run over by a motorcycle and the rider sued me for the damage to his bike because I was walking in the street, like everyone else, including the Carabinieri who arrested me. And the painting featured in my novel is Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, my favorite painting, which I first saw in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.

In these times when travel is difficult, this book will transport you to some fabulous settings. My last trip before COVID, was to Italy, to revisit some of the places I loved in Florence. If you’d like to read The Case of the Missing Botticelli, here are the BUY Links:





Hadley wrote down the phone number and her jaw went slack when she heard and inscribed the rest of the message. “Tell him it’s about a missing Botticelli. It’s urgent.”

A shot of adrenelin coursed through Hadley’s veins. Sandro Botticelli. Her favorite artist in the

whole world. Creator of the Italian masterpiece, Nascita di Venere, The Birth of Venus, the ancient Goddess of Love, dated circa 1484. She wasn’t aware a Botticelli painting was missing.

“Is there any additional information you can give me? The name of the painting? The provenance? Capito. I understand the need for utmost secrecy. We can set up a meeting and I’ll make sure Signore Domingo will be there.”

She jotted down some more notes. “Piazzale Michelangelo? At sunset?”

Hadley tilted her head and chewed on her bottom lip. That was a strange destination for a business meeting. Although it offered the most scenic view of the city, perched atop a hillside overlooking Florence, meeting at a park after dark was reminiscent of a murder scene in a film noir. Where the heroine, Hadley, would later be found, dead, her virtue compromised and her throat slit.

Was the female caller from a museum? A high-end gallery? An auction house? Was she an art or antiquities dealer or a wealthy private individual or was she representing a government agency?  And, if so, which government? Enemy or ally? She would soon find out.

Marilyn Baron writes in a variety of genres from women’s fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to paranormal/fantasy. She’s received writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements and Paranormal/Fantasy Romance. She was also The Finalist in the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Awards (GAYA) in the Romance Category for her novel, Stumble Stones, and The Finalist for the 2018 GAYA Awards in the Romance category for her novel, The Alibi. Her latest novel, The Case of the Missing Botticelli: A Massimo Domingo Mystery, released January 24, 2022, is her 28th work of fiction. A public relations consultant in Atlanta, Marilyn is past chair of Roswell Reads and serves on the Atlanta Authors Series Committee. To find out more about what Marilyn writes, visit her website at: 

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Friday, January 21, 2022

A Memory by Anne Fowler #memoir #FearlessFriday


Please welcome my guest, Anne Fowler, with a fun story from her past. Remember those days of being fearless in the face of authority? And getting away with it? 

Prior to 1988 when Ontario joined in with the rest of Canada’s provinces in eliminating grade thirteen, The Ministry of Education distributed a standardized test on each subject to all schools across the province and everyone wrote the same paper. Algebra?  Definitely not my best subject.  In fact, I suspect the phrase “it’s Greek to me” would be an apt statement when applied to my mathematical abilities. 

Students from our Grade 13 A – 13D classes were herded into the gym to take the Christmas exams under strict teacher supervision. They monitored our every move, well perhaps not every move! At the command to start, MAL (Anne) turned over her exam paper and quickly realized there was no way on God’s green earth that she could achieve even close to a passing grade. She may have been a dunce in algebra but there was no lack of Machiavellian ideas swirling in her brain. A plan providing escape from the certain  humiliation that would come her way as a result of failing, went like this:                                                                                                                                        

* write the exam, appear very studious                                                                                                   

* discreetly stuff said exam down front of tunic uniform

* join the group of exiting classmates and appear to be handing in the completed exam

* do not pass go, head directly home for lunch (one block from school

* Mother was conveniently out

* burn the offending document in the fireplace, smother the flames and embers

* eat some lunch and return to school 

Everything went off without a hitch. She returned to school in the afternoon appearing unphased and wrote an English exam, her best subject.  Looked like “the plan” had worked!                                          

The next day algebra teacher Mr. Walton approached MAL and said “Didn’t I see you in the gym yesterday writing your exam?”                                                                                       

“Yes of course,” said the very picture of innocence.                                                                  

“Well, the strangest thing” he said, “we don’t have your paper.”                                             

Now the tears came on demand. “But I studied so hard. How could you lose it?! Boo Hoo.”  

“Not to worry, I’m sure it will turn up and has just been misfiled.”                                      

Misfiled in my fireplace she thought. 

Ultimately MAL had to rewrite the exam but since she had a really good  memory in those days, plus the tutoring of a math genius friend, she managed to squeak out a passing grade.   

Was the incident ever mentioned again?  Yes and no. No during my high school days but some thirty-five years later at a reunion honoring LHS’s fiftieth year…...yes!

As I approached an elderly Mr. Walton, he held out a shaky hand, grabbed mine and said “Anne Hamilton, please tell me how you managed to make the exam disappear?” 

Obviously, at the time of the crime, the teachers had discussed different possibilities and had figured out that they’d been scammed by Miss Hamilton, that year’s prom queen. 

I wonder if they had considered confiscating her crown as retribution for what they clearly knew she had done but just didn’t know how? 

And yes, to answer your question, I did tell him how I did it. Laughing he said, “We all had our theories but certainly never thought of that one!”

Ordering information:

For Canadian readers:  Paperback -
eBook -
For US readers:  Paperback -

eBook -

Anne Fowler, only child of Audrey and Stewart Hamilton, was raised in Toronto where she attended Leaside High School and Toronto Western Hospital School of Nursing. In 1962 American Airlines beckoned her to Dallas, Texas and life in the sky as a flight attendant. Twice divorced, Anne first married a young minister from Louisiana and then long-time best friend Dr. Bob Fowler of Toronto. They raised a daughter and son who later produced one grandchild each… a grandson and granddaughter. In 2001, Anne retired, closed her company Hamilton Enterprises and left behind a thirty- year career in Human Resources. She relocated to El Progreso, Honduras to volunteer at a clinic where ophthalmic and dental care are provided for patients who lack the funds to be treated elsewhere. During this time, Anne developed the Visiting Doctor program for international ophthalmologists, started the Healthy Living Education project in local elementary schools, and helped with a variety of clinic and community activities. In 2005, after purchasing property in the small north coast village of El Porvenir, she built Hamilton Benest House, a home that provides accommodation for visiting dentists, doctors, teachers and other volunteers. Her major program in 2021 is Phase Two of the Healthy Living Program. This annual dental program, conducted by two Canadian dental teams, provides dental care for over 1,000 elementary school students. Anne's programs continue to thrive and she is still developing community initiatives designed to improve the lives of Hondurans. Anne divides her year between El Porvenir and her Haliburton cottage north of Toronto

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A Woman's Happiness Counts by Sadira Stone #romance #SingleMom #WickedWednesday


It's my pleasure to have Sadira Stone on Discover... today. This is a wickedly good and insightful take on Wicked Wednesday.

Thanks for hosting me today, Brenda! Truly, the generosity of the author community is astounding.

For Wicked Wednesday, I’d like to address the reason many romance readers will shun my latest book, and why I wrote it anyway.

On page one, Anna Khoury, the heroine of Delicious Heat: Bangers Tavern Romance 3, discovers her husband is cheating on her and kicks his sorry butt out. The very next day, she discovers she’s pregnant with his child. Imagine her painful dilemma: the marriage has been rocky for a long time. Brock was a wonderful boyfriend but dropped the act as soon as the honeymoon ended.

What’s the best choice for her child? Sacrifice her own happiness and settle for a neglectful, cheating husband? Will that warp her child’s notion of what love is and scar the child for life? Or should Anna strike out on her own, work out the best co-parenting arrangement she can with Brock, and be a strong, loving single mom?

Anna chooses the latter—obviously, since she’s a romance heroine and needs to get free of this loser to find real love. 😉 But she faces a mountain of resistance from relatives—her own, her ex’s, and her new boyfriend’s, who find her very wicked indeed for prioritizing her own happiness. After all, she’s a mom now, and a good mother is always selfless, right?

That last bit is what I’m pushing back against, having felt the scrape of that outdated expectation my whole life. I’ll spare you the details; suffice to say I get where Anna is coming from and refused to accept lousy treatment from someone who should have loved me and our child. Instead of being selfless above all, I think a mother’s most important job is to be a strong, loving role model, especially to her daughters.

In my view, raising your child to believe women’s happiness doesn’t count is wicked.

And I’ve encountered plenty of women my own age and younger who call me wicked for that point of view.

Others would call me wicked for portraying a pregnant woman as interested in intimacy, even though many pregnant women feel very amorous, especially during the second trimester. But that old Madonna/you-know-what dichotomy rears its ugly head. Wickedly, I dare show pregnant Anna as a woman in love—all the way in love.

I’m bracing myself for the negative reviews.

Why write the book, then? Anna and Diego’s meet-cute scene appears in Christmas Rekindled, Book One in the Bangers Tavern Romance series, and readers asked for their story. Besides, no book will please everyone, so why not write the book of my heart?

I adored writing Anna and Diego’s love story. A sweeter, more devoted cinnamon-roll hero you’ll never find—and he’s a chef! How could Anna resist?

Thanks again, Brenda, for this chance to meet your readers.

Delicious Heat: Bangers Tavern Romance 3, is available from all major online booksellers. 

Order your copy of Delicious Heat today!

Sadira Stone

Contemporary Romance with Heart and Heat

Monday, January 10, 2022

Not on My Watch by Howard Gershkowitz #MuseMonday


How about a little information while you're being entertained? Please welcome my guest, Howard Gershkowitz, who has just that for you on this Muse Monday. 

Recent headlines in the news have pointed out a pattern of Medicare fraud at hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities across the country. From fake billing to unnecessary procedures, it seems we have an epidemic of greed at the very institutions we rely on for our care, especially for our senior citizens. A change in how the government processes payments to Medicare providers is at the heart of the problem. In an effort to reduce the amount of time that legitimate claims are paid, a policy of ‘pay first, question later’ has encouraged fraudsters to submit massive amounts of false claims with the expectation they will be paid quickly and, in many cases, move on before any investigation can catch up to them. One possible solution would be to slow payment processing down to allow for investigators to uncover fraud before the check is sent. Another would be to enhance the enforcement arm of the government to catch these tricksters before they can skip town. In the meantime, if you need care, you can do your part to make sure your bill is accurate and doesn’t contain questionable charges. If you receive a notice that a payment was made on your behalf from your insurance provider, look it over before filing or tossing it ensure it is legitimate and not a ‘ghost’ bill for appointments or procedures you never went to.

She walked in wearing high heels and attitude. Steven looked up from his Wall Street Journal and their eyes meet. Former classmates, they re-connect, but is it truly by chance? Or something more calculated? Before long, she embroils him in her fight to defend her hospital—and her nursing career—from the clutches of a ruthless Boston medical syndicate run by her ex-husband. Their only chance to stop the takeover is to run a dangerous sting operation that could cost them their careers – or worse. 

Excerpt – prologue and chapter 1

Dateline; Boston, MA, September 8, 2021

In other noteworthy news, C & C and Associates, the local Medical powerhouse, has announced plans for another acquisition, this time in Texas. The merger, announced jointly today in the Boston Herald and Dallas Times, will be the eleventh major hospital chain to join the ever-growing empire of CEO and former corporate raider, Delbert Carter.

Dr. Harry Steinham, head of personnel for the conglomerate, spoke to reporters at a press conference at their downtown headquarters. “We are pleased to welcome Dallas General to our growing family of community-based facilities. Known for their long-standing commitment to superior treatment standards and charitable outreach programs, they represent the type of facility that C&C is excited to partner with.”

Asked about growing concerns in the industry about consolidations and declining levels of service to the poor and under-insured, Steinham commented, “We are committed to helping those who can’t help themselves.” When pressed about disturbing reports in communities already served by C&C’s affiliates, Steinham waved a stack of satisfaction surveys, claiming they contradicted the claims. “Anyone can download these from our corporate website and see for themselves. We provide only the finest care to our patients.”

Steinham indicated more acquisitions were already in the works, the next one likely to be in the Southwest again. C & C stock closed at a new yearly high today in heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange. 

Chapter 1

Trouble walked in wearing high heels and attitude.Shoulder-length brown hair framed her smooth, high cheek bones. Stopping well shy of the register, she scanned the tables as if looking for someone to buy her a drink. When her eyes caught mine, they lingered a second too long. A half-smile creased her lips, disappearing so quickly I was unsure I saw it at all. Strolling casually to the periodicals rack, she picked up a Vogue and began browsing.

I sipped my coffee and tried refocusing on the Journal article in front of me, but there’d been something unsettling in her glance. Was I supposed to respond? Offer to wait in line so she wouldn’t have to? If this were a bar, with its clear, unspoken rules, the choice would be easy. I was unaware of such protocols at Starbucks however, especially ones located inside a bookstore on a rainy, September afternoon.

Buy Links:

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cell 602-882-4904

P O Box 25963. Tempe, AZ, 85285

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Wicked Meal, Wicked Delight by Hanna Park #romance #travel #WickedWednesday


Please welcome Wicked Wednesday's guest, Hanna Park. Food and romance in a wickedly beautiful setting. Enjoy!

A month in the Algarve of Portugal! Time spent­­––to enjoy life, to relax.

And to research an area rich in history. How can I describe the endless landscape, the walks on the Algarve cliffs? The ocean view goes on for days! And how about a romantic sunset stroll along the boardwalk? What more could an aspiring author need? Ah! Great food! Let’s talk about the food––always to die for––always, a wicked delight!

Bacalhau, Portuguese Cod Fish, made with simple ingredients and prepared to perfection––a family recipe handed down by generations.

On our first evening in Carvoeiro, the husband and I made our way to the Restaurante Casa Algarvia, a family-style restaurant recommended by our hotelier as authentic Portuguese fare. This restaurant became our go-to place for dinner because the meals were spectacular and the staff so very welcoming.

For our very first meal in Portugal, we ordered Bacalhau. Our server, Christina, promptly warned us
that Bacalhau is salted cod, soaked for twenty-four hours to remove the salt and then roasted. This fantastic meal was served on a clay platter, loaded with sautéed peppers and onion, olives and baby potatoes, doused in olive oil, with sunny side hard-boiled eggs. This meal was wicked!!! We sampled many other beautiful dishes at Casa Algarvia, and I cannot fail to mention the Fish Cataplana, a seafood stew served in a hinged copper bowl––a mouth-watering delight!

The wine poured freely, setting my imagination on fire, giving me a home base for Tiegan and Tomás to meet. Finding Tiegan became a reality within those muted orange walls. 

Finding Tiegan

Book Blurb: 

A holiday in the Algarve of It's what I need. It's time to be me. Time to find the woman I was before the nightmares, outlandish dreams, and sleepwalking. But I wasn't expecting to find Tomás Ferreira, a man made for pleasure. And now, my heart throbs with unfulfilled excitement, fire burns in my belly, and swirling flames lick my thighs. I'm a glorious mess. 

Where did Tiegan Moss come from? And why is she suddenly here on the day of the dead, the day the door to the otherworld swings open, the day the veil is thin? I'd hidden in the shadows, content, a life barely lived. You've changed everything. You make me want. You make my blood sing. Lost in your kaleidoscope eyes, trapped in the pout of your lips, I can't escape. And I don't like it one bit. 

Can our two haunted souls find a future together? 

Book Excerpt: 

Three months is a long time, and I can’t eat out every single day. But I’m not much of a cook—I barely function in the kitchen. Back home, I live on prepared food and takeout. My mother’s voice rings in my head—Tiegan, sweetheart, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Aaron’s pretty face flashes through my mind.

I stroll the supermarket aisles, making a mental list of what to buy. I fill my cart with the basics: granola, orange pekoe, yogurt. I buy eggs. There are so many ways to ruin eggs. I find the coffee. I can’t live without coffee. As I pour the beans through the grinder, I close my eyes, breathing in the rich aroma of dark roast.

Taking center stage in the seafood section is a mile-high stack of dried, salted, and cured cod, bacalhau. Tomás Ferreira—what a charming piece of work. I can’t believe how taken I was by the moment. Why did I lose myself so completely? Physical attraction? Jet lag? The wine? It was the wine. I drank the whole bottle.

I wait at the front end of the store while the cashier rings me through. The entrance doors swing open. His scent hits me like a ton of bricks. My body reacts, hot and cold all at once.

“Tomás. How are you? How was practice today?” The cashier turns her attention away from my groceries. Apparently, they know each other.

“Looking good, Mary. The kids are working well together: team players, everyone.”

Holy hell! Can she not focus on the task at hand?

Buy Links: 


Barnes & Nobel 



Visit Hanna Park at







Sunday, January 2, 2022

Ripped from the Pages... #MuseMonday #Inspiration #RomanticSuspense

Have you ever experienced dèjá vu? Have you walked into a room and felt you’d been there before but hadn’t? Or met a stranger, yet you felt you knew them? In Secrets of The Ravine, The MacKenzie Chronicles, book 1, my hero, Zac Peartree has those moments. They lead him to believe he has some connection to a decades-old crime. These photos are of the real-life Arizona town that inspired my fictional town of Joshua, Arizona. Here’s an excerpt from the book: 

Outside the cantina, Zac browsed along the window displays of jewelry and art stealing glances of Magpie as she strolled away, toward the Apparition Room in the heart of Joshua. He wasn’t ready to go back to the hotel but didn’t want to share with her where he intended to go. He’d not told her about his visit to The Ravine earlier. Whenever the subject of the discovered body came up, her mood darkened, and she grew quiet. Besides, he had his own dèjá vu quandary he hadn’t figured out yet.

As she disappeared around a corner, he headed down Cutway Street on a sharp decline and in the direction of The Ravine. The sun, a memory fading behind the mountains, left the air with a sharp bite. Why he wanted to look on the site once more mystified him. After hearing Magpie had lived in The Ravine, and her father still lived in the same house, he’d had a strong desire to visit with this new knowledge. He hurried, as what little light left would soon be gone.

Instead of following the road around the bend, he left the sidewalk, cutting between two buildings, hoping for a viable shortcut. The descent wasn’t terribly steep, and as he cleared the structures, he could see the mishmash of houses below in The Ravine. No one fenced their properties so ducking around and between houses didn’t present a problem. Within minutes, he spotted the little wooden house with the neon peace sign and the house where the man had waved from the dormer window. He paused.

Three vehicles, headlights on and engines running, blocked a visual of the victim’s burial site.
At this distance, and in the dimming light, all he could make out were five people, but not who. Phoenix cops? Two crates, or maybe plastic boxes, were loaded into a van. Everyone got into the cars, and doors slammed. He shivered. The vehicles bumped along, headlights jogging crazily over the rough road and houses, as they made their way out of The Ravine. The van and a car continued when they hit pavement toward the highway and Phoenix, while another turned left toward the switchback leading into Joshua. He pulled his coat tighter. The engine noises faded. The quiet of The Ravine engulfed him.

Even if the body was identified as Mark Donaldson, he doubted Magpie would experience closure. In a short time, he’d come to know that much of her personality. If after all of these years the disappearance of her teen love still affected her—and that was obvious by her actions—she wouldn’t be content. She’d insist on understanding how he died and why he ended up in an unmarked grave. Was he somehow involved with Callie’s murder and met the same fate? Or had he wandered into the middle of the woman’s murder and been killed as a result? Zac wanted the answer.

Lights came on in the house with the dormer; jarred the quiet from his head. That home kept drawing his attention.

“Good view, huh?”

He jumped at the voice behind him and whirled around.

“Oh! You,” the woman blurted then stepped back.

He could’ve said the same thing to the drunken female from the night before. Irene something. Maybe Blake.

“Didn’t mean to startle you.” She brushed gray strands of hair from her plump cheeks.

“I didn’t hear you.” He wasn’t on a road and wondered where she came from. “You live here? Am I on your property?”

“No. I’m a real estate agent.”

That didn’t explain her reason to creep between houses at dusk, and in an area that didn’t appear to be a prime spot for home sales.

Blurb from Secrets of The Ravine:

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.

Find out more about the book here: