Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Is it Real or Just in My Head?

Living a real life while living an imaginary life…

There have been books, plays, and movies about doing just that—The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Hello, My Name is Doris to name two.

Writers have a secret life. We live it in our heads before ever setting it to paper. I’m often inspired by real-life which in turn is the basis for my fiction. Luckily, my life won’t be blasted across the silver screen so you can see how nutty I am. The discussions I have with my characters, the circumstances I
plop myself into, and people who populate my head shall remain my secret.

The Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery books are a prime example of real life becoming fiction. My sister and I toast our birthdays twice a year with a chocolate martini in the historic Peacock Room in Prescott, Arizona. Our alter egos, Em and Nic, also toast their birthdays twice a year in the Azul Saloon in Wyatt, Arizona...only their celebrations always include a murder mystery to solve.

We could do it, you know. At least in my head. 

Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder, Book 1

It’s a birthday weekend with the gift of murder. 

Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning. 

Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer. 

Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder? 


And now I’m super happy to reveal the next adventure of the Chocolate Martini Sisters: 

Reading, Writing, and Murder, Book 2 

At the writers’ conference, murder tops the program. 

Aspiring mystery author Emma Banefield and travel writer Nicole Earp are excited to attend a writers’ conference during their latest sisters’ getaway. Nic’s birthday should be all about relaxation, writing, and a chocolate martini to toast another trip around the sun, but the climate at the gathering rumbles like a sudden desert thunderstorm. 

When sparks fly between the keynote speaker and her timid assistant over a handsome mystery author, the subtitle on this anticipated tranquil weekend spells drama. If a heated love triangle, bruised egos, and betrayal aren’t enough to upset the atmosphere, the conference banquet erupts into a drunken brawl and sends the place spinning. After a body is discovered, Nic and Em do what they do best—snoop—and become embroiled in a mystery that jumps off the pages of a true-crime bestseller. 

With more than enough suspects and little time, the amateur sleuths have their hands full finding the killer. But can the competitive Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime before the prickly chief detective does, or will a murderer outwit them all?




Monday, June 26, 2023

The Boardwalk Isn't Boring by Jill Piscitello #CozyMystery


Please welcome guest, Jill Piscitello for Muse Monday. Being a western gal with no experience of eastern boardwalks, I'm fascinated. She gives us a good visual. Enjoy! 

I recently came across an article featuring the top beach boardwalks in the country and was thrilled to see Hampton Beach, NH, included on the list. One of the reasons I chose Hampton for the setting of A Sour Note was its bustling boardwalk. Every inch of the mile long stretch offers something to delight the senses. Bells and alarms peal out from arcades. Live music resonates from restaurants. In need of a dress, cover-up, swimsuit, flip flops, candy, ice cream, food choices, lemonade, sunblock, or beach toys? If you can name it, you’ll likely find it amongst the countless shops.  

Growing up in New England, I loved visiting Cape Cod with its pristine beaches. But my heart belonged to Nantasket Beach with its own boardwalk, waterslides, and beloved amusement park, Paragon Park. When developers swept in and replaced the park with condominiums, few landmarks remained with the exception of the carousel. 

I didn’t see another boardwalk to rival the Nantasket of my childhood memories until I met my husband and ventured north to Hampton Beach. I’d grown so accustomed to beautiful beaches with the simple pleasures of sand and ocean that the sights and sounds seemed almost too much for me to take in. But when I had children of my own, I saw the setting through their eyes. Hungry? Take your pick from any number of food stands and restaurants. Bored? Visit the arcade or enormous playground overlooking the beach. Need a bathroom? There’s always one nearby. Looking for adventure? Creep and climb over stretches of rocks and find a variety of sea creatures nestled in the sand and seaweed. How do you entertain the family after dinner? They have a band for that. Every night, groups of talented singers and musicians take the stage while the audience sings and dances along under the stars—unless it’s a Wednesday night when the weekly fireworks blaze overhead. 

Sure, sometimes it’s nice to visit a beach offering only peace and beauty. But for my family, summer isn’t summer without at least a few trips to our favorite boardwalk. 

A Sour Note (A Music Box Mystery)

Genre:  Cozy Mystery


On the heels of a public, broken engagement, Maeve Cleary returns to her childhood home in Hampton Beach, NH. When a dead body turns up behind her mother’s music school, three old friends land on the suspect list. Licking her wounds soon takes a back seat to outrunning the paparazzi who spin into a frenzy, casting her in a cloud of suspicion. Maeve juggles her high school sweetheart, a cousin with a touch of clairvoyance, a no-nonsense detective, and an apologetic, two-timing ex-fiancĂ©. Will the negative publicity impact business at the Music Box— the very place she’d hoped to make a fresh start?


With his mouth set in a grim line, he waited.

If anyone else had enough nerve to presume she owed them an explanation, she would respond with a solid mind your own business. Instead, the seventeen-year-old still inside her refused to tell him to get lost. “He was hiding money in his office.” This was one of those times when learning how to wait a few beats before blurting out inflammatory information would come in handy. Each second of passing silence decreased her ability to breathe in the confined space. She turned the ignition and switched on the air conditioner.

“How do you know?” His volume just above a whisper, each dragged-out word hung in the air.

“I found it.”

“When were you in his office?” He swiped at a bead of sweat trickling down the side of his face, then positioned a vent toward him.

“Last night.” When would she learn to bite her tongue? Finn’s switch from rapid-fire scolding to slow, deliberate questioning left her unable to swallow over the sandpaper lump in her throat.

“Where was Vic?”

She stared at the back of the building, wishing she’d kept her mouth shut. “He’d left for the night.” If she averted her gaze, she could pretend his eyeballs weren’t bugging out of his head, and his jaw didn’t need a crane to haul it off his chest.

“You were at the town hall after hours? Did anyone see you?”

“A custodian opened his door for me.” She snuck a glance. Sure enough, features contorted in shock and horror replaced his boy-next-door good looks. 

Purchase Links:


Barnes and Noble 

About the Author:

Jill Piscitello is a teacher, author, and an avid fan of multiple literary genres. Although she divides her reading hours among several books at a time, a lighthearted story offering an escape from the real world can always be found on her nightstand.


A native of New England, Jill lives with her family and three well-loved cats. When not planning lessons or reading and writing, she can be found spending time with her family, trying out new restaurants, traveling, and going on light hikes. 

Social media links:

Website ~ Twitter  ~ Facebook ~  Instagram  ~ Amazon ~ GoodReads ~ BookBub


Friday, June 23, 2023

Fiction Imitates Life Imitates Fiction

Research...some authors love this part of writing. Others don't take it seriously enough. I'm not particularly fond of research, but I believe it's a necessity even though I'm creating a fictional world. This is especially true when my  fictional worlds are based on real places.

The MacKenzie Chronicles are set in Joshua, a fictional town inspired by and modeled after Jerome, Arizona. You’ll love Joshua, an 1800s mining town, turned ghost town, turned hippie haven, and now a tourist town, perched on the side of Spirit Mountain. Most of the MacKenzies are mystics, and you’ll want to get in on the family’s story from book one.

Here is a sample of research for The MacKenzie Chronicles:

Jerome is a town in the Black Hills of Yavapai County in the U.S. state of Arizona. Founded in the late 19th century on Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley, it is more than 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea level. In 1883, with the aid of eastern financiers including James A. MacDonald and Eugene Jerome of New York City, they created the United Verde Copper Company. The small adjacent mining camp on Cleopatra Hill was named Jerome in honor of Eugene Jerome, who became the company secretary.[n 1]

This is how I used it for my fictional town of Joshua:

Joshua is a town in the Black Hills of Yavapai County in the U.S. state of Arizona. Founded in the late 19th century on Spirit Mountain overlooking the Verde Valley, it is more than 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea level. In 1883, with the aid of eastern financiers including James B. Martin and Frederick Bennett of New York City, created the American Verde Mining Company. The small adjacent mining camp on Spirit Mountain was named Joshua in honor of Frederick Bennett’s first-born son, Joshua. F Bennett, who became the company secretary.

I became entrenched in my fictional Joshua, creating restaurants, hotels, shopping, neighborhoods, diaries, journals, and a history that dated back to the beginning in the 1800s. When the hippies descended on Jerome in the 1960s, my parallel Joshua experienced the rebirth. Frank MacKenzie and Susie Muse were two of the hippies who revitalized Joshua. Their children, Harlan, Magpie, and Elidor each tell their stories in The MacKenzie Chronicles.

Secrets of the Ravine is an enticing romantic suspense from start to finish. Brenda Whiteside is known for writing compelling contemporary romantic suspense (her Love and Murder series) but in this one, there’s added depth with the historical mystery sub-plot. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.” NN Light’s Book Heaven Review 

"Mystery on Spirit Mountain...A punch of suspense that has you flipping through the pages with ease. The bonus in this story is the journal…connecting the past to the future in a suspenseful and surprising family twist. The author is a master at weaving a romance into the edge-of-your-seat mystery." Still Moments Magazine

"Curse of Wolf Falls...The story is seamlessly written, and brings all thing small town together beautifully – family and traditions, old loves lost and reconnecting, new loves found, Native beliefs, spiritualism, empathy and a good dose of history. But it could all come unraveled if Ellie loses the secret held in her locket. A few very scary moments, wrapped up in a life-long love story, set in scenic Arizona, around a long-lost archaeological dig, will surely keep your attention. Hold on – this one is well worth the ride!" Paranormal Romance Guild

The MacKenzie Chronicles on Amazon:

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Wickedly Provocative Heroines by J. Arlene Culiner

What a treat to have J. Arlene Culiner on Discover... again. She always has the most interesting posts. Today is no exception. So get ready for some wicked fun.

Am I wicked? I suppose so. And that’s why I love creating wicked romance heroines. 

Okay… I can’t say that I’m truly wicked. My heroines aren’t either—or at least, we aren’t wicked in the sense of evil, or nasty. We’re mischievously wicked. We provoke, we needle people until we get a reaction, we refuse to accept anything at face value, and we question everyone’s ideas. 

For example, Rose Badger, the heroine of Desert Rose, is the village flirt, and she wants all men to adore her. However, that’s only on the surface. Rose is careful to hide her rather louche past (which includes living in squats, and stealing from supermarkets). These days, she seems to be the friendly owner of a second-hand clothes shop in a semi-ghost town in Nevada. In reality, she’s a secretive person, and she makes sure no one knows what she really does in life, or what her real interests are. 

Secretive folks like Rose often have a wealth of knowledge that they keep hidden, and it’s hard to know what they’re thinking, or feeling. That does make life difficult, and forming close, trusting relationships is a definite challenge… which is what the very delicious half-Paiute Jonah Livingstone discovers. 

And when Jonah appears to be neglecting her, what does Rose do? Her wicked streak takes over. Dressed in a black bodysuit and stretch leopard leggings, she sets out to seduce Lance Potter, Jonah’s one serious rival. 

Another deliciously wicked character is Lucy Barnes from A Room in Blake’s Folly. Outspoken and brash, Lucy’s outrageous opinions often clash with accepted values. For example, she loves spiders, photographs them, becomes enraged if anyone hurts them, and she is scathing to those who fear them: 

       Lance stared at her. “You aren’t afraid of spiders?”

       Any trace of amusement was replaced by disgust. “Because I’m a woman? Because every single woman on earth is idiotic? Because as soon as any of us see a spider, we have to run and grab a male who will rescue us from something smaller than a fingernail?” Lucy’s eyes glinted naughtily. “What’s definitely true, is that half of all women but only ten percent of men are afraid of spiders. Now try and work that fact into a discussion about sexual equality.” 

Lucy is equally unyielding when it comes to television:      

       “You have a television?”

       Lance nodded. “You don’t approve.”

       “What does my approval have to do with it?”

       “Okay, why are you against television?”

       “Don’t you know that passively watching television greatly reduces our capacity for critical thought? The images change so rapidly our brains can’t process them, so we end up not thinking things through, but ready to accept any form of propaganda, buy any product, and feel miserable or diminished if we don’t.”

       Lance was grinning. “That’s pretty radical.”

“Yeah.” Lucy admitted. “But it’s true, too. Besides, nobody has to subscribe to my point of view, and I don’t mind at all.” 

Let’s get back to very secretive Rose. At the moment, she’s in the Mizpah Saloon with Jonah and Lance, and both men are trying to discover what she does on Saturday nights: 

Rose approached the little group slowly, still peeking carefully into the shadows of booths lining the wall.

Jonah was watching her every movement. “You’re looking strangely furtive.”

“I’m avoiding my mother.”

Lance laughed; Jonah chuckled.

She scrunched up her face with mock pain. “Okay, okay. I know how infantile that sounds, but I just got rid of the woman. She staggered over to the shop about fifteen minutes ago.”


“Four sheets to the wind, as usual. She does make a habit of it.” Rose wrinkled her nose. “Now, she wants to drive into Reno with me on Saturday.”

“On Saturday? I thought you didn’t do Saturdays,” said Lance laconically.

“Really?” Jonah raised one quizzical eyebrow and turned to Lance. “What do you mean, she doesn’t do them? She wipes them off the calendar? Crams everything into a six-day, Sunday to Friday, week?”

“It’s her secret day. No one knows what she gets up to on Saturdays. Only that she isn’t available. Ever.”

“Aha. I was about to ask her to meet me this Saturday evening.”

“She’ll say no. She always does.”

Exasperated, Rose threw both men the dirtiest look she could manage. “I’m not unavailable every Saturday. I intend to be here, in Blake’s Folly, for the Get-Together, and that’s two Saturdays away. Now, would you both please stop talking about me in the third person? I’m here, right in front of you. You can address me directly, and I can speak for myself.”

“Except you don’t. Not when it comes to Saturdays.” Lance’s voice was calm.

“Interesting.” Jonah nodded. “I wonder what she gets up to. A night at the roulette table?”

“Perhaps a rendezvous in some den of iniquity.”

“Hmm. A secret husband and seven secret children?”

“A hidden lover?”

“A change of identity?”

“A second life as an investment banker?”

“Or as a lap dancer.”

“A nude trapeze artist.”

“Or a nude contortionist?”

      “Okay, cut it out, both of you,” Rose snapped. “You are about as much fun as my mother.” 

Desert Rose

Secrets are the best protection against love 

Rose Badger is the local flirt, and if the other inhabitants of backwoods Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage and a dead-end career far behind her, settling down is the last thing she intends to do. Newcomer Jonah Livingstone is intriguing, but with his complicated life, he’s off limits for anything other than friendship. Besides, Rose has a secret world of her own—one she won’t give up for any man. 

The last person geologist Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghost town is the sparkling and lovely Rose Badger. But Rose, always surrounded by many admirers, doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. So why fret? Jonah keeps his personal life well hidden…and that's the best way to avoid disappointment. 

Purchase links:



A Room in Blake’s Folly 

Secrets your grandparents never told you

In one hundred and fifty years, Blake's Folly, a silver boomtown notorious for its brothels, scarlet ladies, silver barons, speakeasies, and divorce ranches, has become a semi-ghost town. Although the old Mizpah Saloon is still in business, its upper floor is sheathed in dust. But in a room at a long corridor's end, an adventurer, a beautiful dance girl, and a rejected wife were once caught in a love triangle, and their secret has touched three generations. The six stories in A Room in Blake’s Folly tell the tale. 

Purchase links:

Web site:


About the Author 

Writer, photographer, social critical artist, and impenitent teller of tall tales, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a mud house on the Great Hungarian Plain, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, a haunted house on the English moors, and on a Dutch canal. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest where, much to local dismay, she protects spiders, snakes, and all weeds. She particularly enjoys incorporating into mysteries, non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with very odd characters.

Author Website:

And here are all my links in one place:


Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Mighty Pen by Barbara White Daille


It's a treat to welcome Barbara back to Discover... She's given us a fun post. Read on!

Thanks to Brenda for inviting me back to the blog, and Happy Father’s Day to you and yours! 

Some of the friends I consider fearless spend their spare time skydiving, bungee jumping, or ziplining. They climb mountains, kayak over rapids, or push themselves to their limit during triathlons. They have dental work done without the use of an anesthetic! 

Me? I sit at a desk and write books. 

You may at one time have read this proverb: The pen is mightier than the sword. 

Research comes up with different interpretations of the above, but the ones I like best explain it this way: Brains win out over brawn. Arguments can be settled peacefully rather than by jumping into a fistfight. Words arouse our emotions as effectively as a razor-sharp blade draws blood. 

While reading, have you ever sighed in frustration at the hero’s stubbornness? Shed a tear at a happy-ever-after ending? Shivered and turned up the bedside lamp before flipping the next page of a horror novel? Laughed aloud as a five-year-old flower girl upstaged an entire wedding ceremony? 

If so, in that book you’d just read a great example of having your emotions triggered—by words. 

Some authors have mastered that skill and play with our feelings on every page. The authors may be different for each of us, but they’re often the ones we auto-buy and put at the top of our to-be-read piles or lists. 

Those authors are also fearless. They put their hearts into the stories, draw on their own emotions, and share their experiences—whether in an as-it-actually-happened form or after taking some poetic license. 

As an introverted author, I can truthfully tell you sharing your feelings with the world takes guts. I feel that fear and do it anyway, giving it my best shot. Why? Because the greatest reading experiences happen when the characters and the readers are on the same emotional page. 

For this Father’s Day weekend, here’s a peek at a special daddy-to-be from my sweet contemporary romance, Court Me, Cowboy. 

From the book cover:

The End. . . or Just the Beginning? 

Three weeks. Gabe Miller's marriage ended in divorce so fast it had hardly begun. Which is why he couldn't quite believe his luck—or his "ex"—when she returned a few months later with the news that legally they were still husband and wife. And that the child she was carrying was his son. 

It looked as if Marissa might bolt again, making a custody battle his only option—unless he could turn back the clock and woo her the way he should have during their whirlwind affair. But even with his boy's future at stake, mending fences with a woman—especially the one he loved—wasn't something the strong, silent type found easy to do.... 

Review clip: 

“…laugh out loud funny and charming. …a book you won’t be able to put down.” 

Find the book:

At most booksellers, including:


About Barbara:

Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom. She also loves writing, reading, and chocolate. Stop by Barbara’s website, where you can find more info about her books, check out her blog, and sign up for her newsletter:



Monday, June 12, 2023

Strong Women or the Weaker Sex by Jan Selbourne


Writing is more than just listening to our muse and getting inspired to create. There is usually a good deal of research authors put into their stories. Jan's post is about the work, and I know you'll find it interesting. Read on!

Historical fiction requires research. If we want to transport readers back to another time and place, our characters must be living there with its customs and laws and beliefs.

For example – coaches of the early 18th century were devoid of springs and lumbered along at four miles or less an hour. By 1820, with lighter, well sprung coaches and improved roads, they travelled at the dizzying speed of ten to twelve miles an hour, stopping frequently to change horses. Today driving 50 miles means nothing more than putting the car into gear and the foot on the peddle.

It took my ancestors three long arduous months to sail the 13,000 miles from Britain to Australia via the Cape of Good Hope. Today I can travel the 10,573 miles in 22 – 23 hours.

What stands out during research is the influence of women throughout our history. Dubbed the “weaker sex” or “imbecillitas sexus”, derived from Roman law, literally meaning the weakness of female mental power, women stepped up time and again to face adversity and deprivation. It’s hard to believe that before the 1960s married women couldn’t own a bank account without their husband’s permission. Worse, over a century ago, husbands had the right to prevent their spouses from working.

It’s no wonder women’s suffrage grew in the mid-19th century and the First World War had a huge impact on their struggle. Despite early opposition, thousands of women joined the war effort, working in areas that were previously male only occupations.  

Before I talk about my character Gabrielle, I must relate an amusing true story of that early opposition. In 1914, the British War Office turned down an offer of help from Scottish doctor Elsie Inglis with “My good lady, go home and sit still.” Undeterred, Dr Inglis set up the Scottish Women’s Hospitals on the fighting fronts.

Gabrielle, Perilous Love, was a product of the genteel upper-class world of servants and country homes in pre-war England. She was expected to marry well, and she did, to Adrian Bryce whose wealth spread from England to Europe. They soon discovered they had little in common and after two children led polite separate lives. In truth, they can barely stand the sight of each other – until Belgium in the summer of 1914. There, a terrible betrayal reveals the real reason why Adrian decided to join her, forcing them to flee as World War One erupts over Europe. From pampered comfort to hiding in a barn loft without money or food Gabrielle has no choice but trust the man she despises. The enormity of their predicament hits home when he’s injured. It’s now up to her to find food and means of escape. An abandoned farmhouse almost breaks her because she’s never boiled water, let alone cooked, and has no idea what to look for.  But, gnawing hunger, fear of capture and two children at home are powerful teachers. Grabbing what she hopes is edible she finds filthy farmer’s overalls in the washhouse. Shedding her torn dress, she struggles to put them on, unaware they are back to front. She runs out the rear door – and stops. In front of her is their escape in the shape of a scruffy plough horse. If she can catch it, if she can find a harness and wagon, they might, just might, blend in with the thousands of Belgians fleeing the brutal invasion. 

Like so many women of that era, Gabrielle discovered what she was truly capable of.

Perilous Love blurb -

Gabrielle Bryce’s plan to end her miserable empty marriage is thwarted when her estranged husband Adrian abruptly announces he’ll accompany her and their two children on the annual trip to Belgium. Unknown to anyone, Adrian is under orders from the British government to find proof Gabrielle's Belgian uncle is secretly supporting the German Empire’s quest for war.

The proof Adrian finds could kill them, and they run for their lives as the German forces cross the border. With only a stolen horse and buggy to their name and facing danger, brutality, and painful truths about themselves, they reach safety as two different people. Waiting for them are charges of treason and a woman who’ll stop at nothing to see Adrian dead. 

Excerpt – 

“What’s the matter, Adrian? The cat got your tongue?” Gabrielle whispered nastily. “You owe me the truth, because I am the poor fool who is the last to know about anything.” Her face flared red with anger. “You and Uncle Henri shared the delectable German harlot, you knew Belgium would be invaded, Uncle Henri has German guards ready to shoot us. What else has been going on behind my back?” 

When he didn’t reply, the bubbling volcano erupted. “Stand up and talk to me you devious, lying bastard!” She yelled then looked fearfully at the closed door. 

Her jaw dropped when Adrian shrugged dismissively. “What does it matter now? We have no feelings for each other.” 

“What does it matter?” She spluttered. “I’ve just been told your  German woman who is also Uncle Henri’s German woman, followed you to meetings with the Secret Service Bureau. Has it escaped your    attention that we have two children relying on us? No, they rely on me, and I am stuck  in this room with you.” 

She stepped back as Adrian scrambled to his feet, his eyes blazing. “Don’t yell at me, Miss Pure as the Driven Snow. I have a question for you, what does Brian Charlton find so interesting in my home? 

Buy links –

Perilous Love - Kindle edition by Selbourne, Jan. Romance Kindle eBooks @

Jan Selbourne

Twitter   Jan Selbourne @JanSelbourne













Friday, June 9, 2023

Me, Snakes, and All About Charming Alice by J. Arlene Culiner


Please welcome back to Discover... my guest, J. Arlene Culiner for Fearless Friday with a fascinating post. Snakes and romance!

It was a warm beautifully calm afternoon in the village where I live in France. Birds were singing in the tall trees in my garden (jungle), and I decided to go sit in the (rather wild) cobbled courtyard just behind my house. I was about to step through the doorway when I looked down and saw, a mere two feet away, a very long snake. There it lay, perfectly still, sunning itself. Was it aware of my presence? Probably not. 

I was shocked at first (a natural reaction, apparently, when most of us see reptiles), but I calmed myself, let fascination take over. It was a fairly large snake, possibly 4 or 5 feet long, and wonderfully beautiful. In the sun, its scales had turned a phosphorescent green-gold, and it was also remarkably elegant. 

I do my best in life to harm no creature, and I didn’t want to ruin the snake’s obviously pleasurable sunbath. Taking a few slow steps backward, I sat down on a chair and let myself bask in this rare moment with an unknown creature. So there we were for the longest while, both of us perfectly at peace, doing nothing, and enjoying the calm. 

That snake was probably a Western whip snake. Females can grow to six feet in length, and they are very powerful. They can be obstinate when annoyed, twisting about on the ground, biting and striking. This tactic enables them to overcome threatening enemies, but poses no problem for humans. In fact, like most snakes, they prefer to flee humans, weaving away to safety through grasses and hedges. 

The delightful time with this particular snake came to an abrupt halt when the telephone behind me rang. I stepped back to answer, and when I returned, the snake had gone. It never again appeared in my courtyard, but it did send me a message of sorts: a few months later, I found its outer skin close by—snakes and other reptiles shed their skins periodically in a process called Ecdysis. 

That snake did me a favour. It broadened my world, and I have since sought other snakes in the wetland habitats they are so fond of, in dry grasslands, and ponds. I’m always thrilled when I spot one for familiarity has vanquished fear. And it is my appreciation of these hated creatures that inspired me to create the heroine of my contemporary romance, All About Charming Alice. 

Alice is a former actress who has changed her life by moving to a semi-ghost town in the Nevada desert. She now works as a herpetologist, studying, photographing and protecting snakes—“the most unloved creatures on Earth. As she explains: 

“All snakes are passive, and they would much rather slide away to safety than strike. If you leave them alone, watch them from a distance, they’d never think of hurting you. Even if most people are instinctively afraid of snakes, snakes aren’t instinctively afraid of people, so they sometimes slide into backyards, innocently passing through on their way to somewhere else. They should be left alone, of course, but people kill them as soon as they notice them. Then, there’s the danger of habitat destruction, and rattlesnake roundups. Very few snakes manage to survive their first encounter with humans.” 

All About Charming Alice 

Trust in love and solutions will appear 

Alice Treemont has no intention of falling in love. Living in Blake’s Folly, a semi-ghost town, she cooks vegetarian meals, rescues unwanted dogs, and protects the most unloved creatures on earth: snakes. What man would share those interests? 

Jace Constant is in Nevada, doing research for his new book, but he won’t be staying. He’s disgusted by desert dust on his fine Italian shoes and dog hair on his cashmere sweaters. As for snakes, he doesn’t just despise them: they terrify him. 

So why does the air sizzle each time Alice and Jace meet? A romance would entail far too many compromises. 

Purchase Link :


Writer, photographer, social critical artist, and impenitent teller of tall tales, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a mud house on the Great Hungarian Plain, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, a haunted house on the English moors, and on a Dutch canal. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest where, much to local dismay, she protects spiders, snakes, and all weeds. She particularly enjoys incorporating into mysteries, non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with very odd characters. 

Author Website:

And here are all my links in one place: