Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Wickedness of Sterotypes by Karina Bartow


Please welcome my guest, Karina Bartow to Wicked Wednesday on Discover... She presents us with a wicked theme we see and hear all too often.

My new mystery novel, Accidental Allies, features several pretty wicked schemes and villains, but for the sake of keeping the mystery intact, I won’t reveal them. Instead, an underlying “wicked” theme wove into the story is one I know all too well: stereotypes.

Along with its forerunners in the Unde(a)feated Detective Series, Accidental Allies follows Minka Avery, a detective who’s deaf and wears a cochlear implant. Though Minka’s faced stereotypes throughout the first two books in the series, this installment truly shines a light on how other people’s biases about her disability have factored into her career, both in the past and the present.

Nobody personifies this better than Chief of Police Doug Friedman. Despite Minka’s history as an accomplished detective, Chief Friedman manifests a low opinion of her. In one exchange, he’s even bold enough to tell her that he only views her as a showpiece that attracts media attention.   

The mistreatment she faces may make many readers’ mouths drop, but in truth, I don’t have to reach too far to imagine this kind of rude behavior. Because I was born with Cerebral Palsy, I’ve struggled with being stereotyped for my whole life. Even in school, some attributed my honor-roll-worthy grades to the fact that I had an aide to attend to my physical needs, who must’ve been giving me academic help, as well. The majority of my aides readily admitted, however, that they didn’t wrack up the grades I earned, which propelled me to graduate seventh in my high school class.

As I was writing Accidental Allies, I faced a similar prejudice, which hurt yet more. My spirits were soaring high because I’d accomplished my dream of becoming a published author with the release of my debut novel. I thought my success would overturn the stigmas attached to me. To my disappointment, however, a guy who purchased my book at a signing had the audacity to imply that my mom wrote the book but gave me the credit! Given I type with just one hand and rarely, if ever, enlist assistance, this was quite a brutal insult.

Just the same, I don’t enjoy sharing experiences like this. I’ve also had many positive relationships with people who do appreciate my capabilities and treat me with respect. Thus, I never want to come off as ungrateful or even like I have a chip on my shoulder.

In fact, I told my editor those very words when she suggested I highlight some of the prejudices Minka encountered that contributed to her insecurities in Husband in Hiding, the opening novel of the series. Her encouragement to do so, though, helped me to realize what I could achieve with my platform as an author. While I wouldn’t load my books full of such negative instances, I could scatter a few in the plot to highlight the impact of stereotypes, in hopes of helping people view and treat others in a different light.   

Accidental Allies Blurb:

Everybody’s experienced a rocky start to a new job, but few can top Minka Avery's return to Orlando PD.

After six years as a stay-at-home mom, Minka’s nervous but excited to sit at a detective’s desk again. Before she has a chance to break in her badge, however, her career resumes with a bang when someone bombs the county courthouse.  

With many disillusioned with the justice system, several brow-raising suspects emerge right away. Minka and her new partner, Renee, follow several tips that lead to dead ends, until they zero in on the courthouse's former security guard. Their attempts to apprehend him send the city and police department into chaos. Meanwhile, Minka contends with the lingering suspicion of another party being involved. Could his accomplice be closer than she thinks?





Karina Bartow grew up and still lives in Northern Ohio. Though born with Cerebral Palsy, she’s never allowed her disability to define her. Rather, she’s used her experiences to breathe life into characters who have physical limitations, but like her, are determined not to let them stand in the way of the life they want. Her debut novel, "Husband in Hiding," came out in 2015, followed by "Forgetting My Way Back to You," in 2018 and "Brother of Interest" in 2022. She may only be able to type with one hand, but she writes with her whole heart! 

You can find Karina here:

Website  | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Monday, November 27, 2023

From Down Under by Meryl Brown Tobin


Please welcome Meryl Brown Tobin to Muse Monday on Discover... She's writing from a place I know I'd love to visit. Enjoy!

With its remoteness, turquoise sea, rugged red sandstone cliffs and kilometres long stretch of white sands, Broome is a colorful exotic place to visit in Outback Western Australia that goes back to the Dreamtime. It became a pearling town from the late 1800s until the mid 1900s. Peopled by Aborigines, Japanese, Chinese, Malayans, Filipinos, Koepangers (East Indonesians) and Europeans, it was a truly cosmopolitan town. During World War 2, it was turned into a military garrison.  Now a top tourist destination in Australia attracting thousands of tourists each year, it is famous for its pristine waters, beaches, wildlife, tropical climate and spectacular colours.

Because of its beauty, history and remoteness and my family and I had visited it a number of times and loved it, I chose Broome in 1986 as my setting for ‘Broome Enigma’.  On our first visit, in 1970, the caravan park had a sewerage problem and we decided Cable Beach, then isolated and not developed, was the best place offered as an alternative.  Apart from a young couple, my family and I had the iconic vast white sandy beach and turquoise ocean to ourselves.

On a working holiday in Australia's cosmopolitan Outback town of Broome in 1986, Jodie, a young book designer and artist is open to romance and adventure.

     At the holiday village where she is staying, she meets Joe, a young man who works there. Despite the strong attraction between them, the many unknowns about his earlier life keep them apart. To try to uncover his mysterious past, they travel to Perth and back to Broome and are drawn into not only bizarre but also dangerous situations.

     Is Joe the person she thinks he is, or is he some alter ego? Can Jodie and Joe stop their relationship from developing until they have answers and know if he is free to love her?

A big gust of wind rocked the van and flung Jodie
hard against Joe. He pushed her off.
“Joe, it’s me, Jodie! Wake up, wake up!”
“Jodie, is that you?” He threw his arms around her
and buried his head in her chest.
She brushed his hair back from his sweating face.
“Take it easy, Joe. Take deep breaths. It’s okay. It’s
going to be okay.”
He stopped shaking and pulled back from her.
“What’s happening?”
“It’s the cyclone. Don’t you remember?”
Another huge gust shook the van and sent Jodie
sprawling on Joe’s bunk and into the wall.






Meryl Brown Tobin is an Australian writer who writes fiction and non-fiction for adults and children, poetry, educational puzzles and cartoons.  She has had 21 books published and hundreds of poems, puzzles, short stories, travel and other articles, and cartoons published in more than 150 print and digital publications in Australia and overseas. Her debut novel, ‘Broome Enigma’, a romantic suspense novel, was published by The Wild Rose Press in November, 2023. Details: and Meryl Tobin - Society of Women Writers Victoria (

Wednesday, November 22, 2023


Join me in welcoming Doug McPheters to Discover... He has some wicked things going on in his novels for Wicked Wednesday.

Novels by Doug McPheters (@McPheters1) involve exciting and unexpected action but no cupcakes or unicorns.


Doug’s first thriller, “Goshawk,” is about a Manhattan lawyer who started a loan-sharking operation in what was left of the Soviet Union after the Berlin Wall came down. The fund became so successful that the Iraqis tried to steal it to get out from under biting international sanctions. Iraqi assailants killed his Finnish girlfriend and others kidnapped his two sons. The drama played out in the Manhattan courts. 

In his next novel, “Stepping on Fingers,” Lea Holderness, a young teacher in far Northern New York was sent to a penal colony on a remote island in the Chukchi Sea, north of Russia, by an American religious court for speaking out against intrusive new Federal laws. The Movement, which fights attemptsof the Federal government to infringe on basic freedoms, helped her escape from the prison colony. Upon her return to America, Lea rescued her young daughter from Federal clutches. In return, she joined the Movement’s drive to stifle the Federal government’s unpopular plans to erase many Constitutional rights, often in dangerous ways. 

Doug’s third novel, “Criminal Opera (a work still in process),” is about applying the punishments of the Nuremberg trials to those who organized and managed the phony pandemic they called Covid, and gained enormous wealth from those heinous activities. The Nűremberg Codex demands that no one be given medical treatments without fully informed consent and no coercion of any kind. As “Criminal Opera” demonstrates, and important evildoers have admitted, the ‘vaccines’ were neither safe nor effective, and demands such as ‘keep 6 feet apart’ and ‘no groups of more than 10 people’ were complete fabrications with no scientific basis.  Now that fewer and fewer people are watching the MockingBird Media, more truth is seeping out to people too lazy to make their own decisions. And more patriots are starting to take matters into their own hands.


Doug McPheters is a native of the Northeast but lives in Arizona where he plays tuba in the Central Arizona Concert Band. He served in the US Atlantic Submarine Force where he was Chief Engineer of Tigrone (AGSS-419) and was qualified as Officer of the Deck, both surfaced and submerged. 

You can find out more about Doug’s books, both present and in process, by visiting or by message at or @mcpheters1 on X."

Monday, November 13, 2023

Dance, Dance, and Write by Chelsey M. Ortega


I love to dance, but I don't have the talent my guest, Chelsey M. Ortega, has. Enjoy her delightful post today on Discover... for Muse Monday.

Nothing opened up the U.S. to ballroom dance like “Dancing with the Stars”. But in my corner of the world, Utah County, ballroom had been popular years before; and popular at Brigham Young University decades before. And with such a long history, it’s not surprising that a handful of DWTS pros every season hail from Utah County; including one of the judges and co-hosts. 

My mom danced through the BYU ballroom program in the ‘80s, and my dad provided the sound system for a local high school’s ballroom concerts in the ‘90s and early 2000s. So, with that as my background, I wanted to be a ballroom dancer. 

My mom signed me up for my first class when I was eleven. My teacher was a lady in our neighborhood who had refurbished her garage into a small dance studio. After a year with her I went on to another studio owned by my dad’s friends. After a year there, I entered secondary school, where ballroom classes and performance teams were offered as elective classes. I spent 7th-12th grade taking technique classes through my school and performing and competing on the school teams. I danced for two years in college, and then chose to focus on starting my family and finishing my academic degree. 

I was good enough to make the teams, but I wasn’t the best dancer on the team. Trying to keep up with
the girls who did have natural raw talent taught me hard work and dedication. Most of my time I started out as an alternate and worked my way onto the team and competition routines. And my Senior year in high school, I made all three competition routines the first time, without needing to start as an alternate. It felt good to earn those spots; and the years of never giving up have bled over into my writing career as I took rejection after rejection, and worked on my writing craft before The Wild Rose Press said yes. 

Today, a little over ten years after I stopped dancing, ballroom dance is still something that I cherish. I cheer on teammates who turned dance into their career, religiously watch DWTS, and dance in my kitchen while I’m cooking and cleaning. Latin is my favorite style: Cha Cha, Samba, Rhumba, Paso Doble, and Jive. With my very favorite Latin dance being the Samba. I discovered my Senior year that I also had a talent for American Smooth: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz; with Viennese Waltz being my favorite -though based on the judges scores, Waltz was my best dance of the four. 

Since dance is no longer a huge part of my current life, I have chosen to live vicariously through my fictional characters. When I was creating Annamaria’s social life, I put her on her high school dance team. But since I placed her in a tiny fictional town in Wyoming, the chances of it being realistic for a ballroom team to be at her high school were slim; so she is on a dance company which covers jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and hip hop. Later on in the story, Annamaria meets two professional ballroom dancers… who are also vampires. The three become good friends, and Annamaria joins their online dancing channel. 

These scenes were some of my favorites to write. I chose the type of dance, picked a song with lyrics that matched the planned message, and choreographed it in my mind. Then, I had to sit down and write it in a way that the reader would be able to see what I saw. And I would like to share with you the Viennese Waltz: 

The first routine was a Viennese waltz. They told the story of a man and woman meeting and falling in love. Tyler and Annamaria portrayed a couple starting off as shy, then blossom into comfortable and loving. The entire process had been so fun, like swaying through clouds. 

The TV showed the preview screenshot of Annamaria with her right arm around Tyler’s neck, the left trailing behind her with her left foot popped. Tyler’s right arm was around her waist, his left trailing behind him. Both leaned away from each other in a frozen twirl. 

The music started, and Annamaria danced into view. Tyler danced in from the opposite direction and the duet began. They spun and swayed, Annamaria’s light blue dress swirling around her, the rhinestones catching the light. For the last verse of the song, Annamaria completed a seamless onstage costume change by using magic to replace her blue dress to a flowing white gown. Their human audience would think it was just superb editing. 


Eighteen-year-old Annamaria Lyons has never left her small hometown of Harrison, Wyoming. She has lived with her aunt, Trinity, since her parents died when she was two years old. Trinity has been a wonderful guardian with one exception—she won’t allow Annamaria out of the house after sunset. That is, until the night of senior prom. Annamaria's long-lost sister arrives, bringing with her a world full of hidden family secrets and the supernatural. 

Forced to flee her childhood home without a proper goodbye to her human life and first love, Annamaria immerses herself in the magical world. New friends and a new suitor challenge her original dreams for the future, and when she finds herself caught in the middle of a centuries-old conflict, Annamaria must decide to rise above it or give in to the darkness. 

Bondwitch can be purchased here:


Barnes & Noble:


Chelsey M. Ortega is a teacher by day and award-winning author by night. History is her first love, and any story involving magic and romance, her second love. She especially loves witches and is still awaiting her acceptance letter to a well-known school. Chelsey received her Bachelor's in History Teaching from Brigham Young University. In addition to writing, Chelsey teaches high school U.S. History and ELD. She lives in Utah with her husband, three children, and two cats. Follow Chelsey at





Friday, November 3, 2023

Girls Just Want to Have a Fearless Adventure by Terry Segan


Fun and Fearless both start with F...hmmm...I think my guest, Terry Segan, might have something. Enjoy her Fearless Friday adventure on Discover...

Girls just wanna have…a manatee adventure! When my traveling partner suggested our next girl’s trip be to Crystal River, Florida, to check off an item on her bucket list, I dove right in—literally. In the winter months, Crystal River is home to many of these sweet mammals. So, a few years ago, we traveled to Florida in mid-January to see for ourselves.


While the hotel we stayed in was dated (think 70’s—I’m sure the bedspreads and shag carpeting were time-warped in nightly), all the rooms faced the bay. The gorgeous view was worth putting up with the ‘vintage’ furnishings and dim lighting.


Since the manatees were more active in the morning, we booked an early tour. We tried not to think that 7 a.m. translated to 4 a.m. for our west coast bodies. At the dive shop we watched a short video on manatee etiquette, a.k.a. how not to get arrested for disturbing or tormenting the docile creatures. We then donned wet suits—no easy task unless you have feline flexibility. The tour guide claimed the water remained a comfortable 72 degrees, and he wasn’t kidding. Wearing a mask and snorkel, we slipped into the river using a pool noodle for buoyancy. The water felt like a warm bath.


These creatures were amazing! They’re like giant puppies with sweet faces that drift through the brackish water. And yes, they are roughly the size of a cow! We got to bob around and observe several, some getting playful and bumping into us, despite our trying to stay out of their way. The last ten minutes of our hour-long swim, I had one following me. I finally named her Louise and dubbed her a member of our girls’ trip. 

The second day’s tour consisted of kayaking. I originally suggested renting kayaks and going on our own. My friend pointed out that she would prefer NOT to get eaten by alligators if we got lost. Never thought of that! I booked a tour. Being led by a guide, I was sure he would sacrifice himself if we were set upon by alligators. Luckily, we didn’t have to test this theory. Our guide used a stand-up paddle board to easily spot manatees for us. In one area, a manatee nosed our guide along by pushing his board from behind. 

This trip became the inspiration for my recent release, Manatee Soul, The Marni Legend Series Book 2. The main character, Marni, drags her reserved sister into similar tours and other sketchy situations as they assist a lost soul who’s looking for closure. While most of the setting is fictitious, establishments were inspired by my experiences in Crystal River. 

Book & Bio info: 

MANATEE SOUL by Terry Segan – Release date: October 16, 2023 


Marni Legend has embarked on the most perilous journey of her life—a vacation with her sister. The women are like two peas in a pod, providing each pod came from a different mother ship. One day into their Florida adventure, Marni questions her choice of travel partner. Gloria strives to understand her carefree younger sibling while kayaking and snorkeling without chipping a nail. 

With nothing but eternity on his hands, Phil insists the sisters resolve the circumstances of his untimely demise. The wise-cracking spirit leads them on a trail filled with bartenders, bikers, and the promise of a hidden treasure. 

Her greatest challenge will either be enduring a week with Gloria or surviving the thugs searching for the stolen booty. Can Marni figure out who to trust, who to avoid, and who she’d most likely want to be trapped alone in an elevator with? 


Barnes & Noble:

Author Website: 

Facebook Page:




Terry Segan, originally from Commack, NY, now resides in the desert where she’ll never require an ice scraper or snow shovel again. The beach is her happy place, but any opportunity to travel soothes her gypsy soul. The stories conjured by her imagination while riding backseat on her husband’s motorcycle can be found throughout the pages of her paranormal mysteries. Growing up immersed in sarcastic humor and science fiction movies, Terry’s goals are to cause her readers to laugh out loud, cry with joy, or cower under the covers wondering if the noise under the bed was real or imagined.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Reading and Reviews (Gallant and Black)

I'm an author, but I'm also a reader. From time to time, I'll share my 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 and mystery, I read crime and law novels, once in a while a true story, WWII historicals, 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.

Desperate Alliance by Jannine Gallant

A stolen painting leads to a second chance at love—if they survive.

When Annalise Quintrell discovers a painting at the Philadelphia museum where she works—a masterpiece she authenticated—is a forgery, her career is on the line. Confident she didn’t make a mistake, Annalise is convinced someone stole the original. But with no proof, will anyone believe her? The only way to salvage her reputation and her future is to find the missing painting. The problem is, she has no one to turn to for help—except her ex-fiancé.

Rory Cavanaugh made the worst mistake of his life, not when he got caught robbing an art gallery, but when he withheld the truth about his past from Annalise. Unable to forgive his lies, she cut him out of her life—and her heart—for good. But now she desperately needs his help, and Rory will do anything to make amends for hurting her. Because convincing her to take him back seems like a fantasy.

As Rory and Annalise work together, following a trail of clues in their search for the lost painting, long-suppressed feelings bubble to the surface. Can she get beyond her anger and heartache and find a way to forgive him? Or will the criminal determined to stop them at any cost make them both pay the ultimate price for love?

My Review:

Jannine always delivers a good story. This one felt a little different than her regular suspense plots as we made our way through the artworld instead of the wilderness. But she navigated the landscape convincingly. The story was good, and her characters imperfect. And that’s a good thing. Rory has led a less than honest life, but he had his reasons. Annalise is stubborn and unforgiving. They have depth and that added a good dimension to the story.


Save Me by Molly Black 

FBI Special Agent Katie Winter is no stranger to frigid winters, isolation, and dangerous cases. With her sterling record of hunting down serial killers, she is a fast-rising star in the BAU, and when a woman is discovered in the middle of a frozen lake, Katie is the natural choice to partner with Canadian law enforcement to track the killer across the brutal and unforgiving landscape.

But tensions run high between Katie and her new Canadian partner, and time is running out before the killer’s trail goes cold. The case also conjures the demons of her own past: Katie’s younger sister, vanished years ago on the shore of the very same lake, a case that remains unsolved.

Can Katie keep her demons at bay long enough to enter a killer’s mind and stop him before it’s too late?

Or will this diabolical monster outwit her in his game of cat and mouse?

My Review:

This story held my attention most of the time. The problem between Katie and her new partner, and the why of it was so vague I had trouble understanding. The disconnected plot lines with the partner and her sister bothered me. Small stuff like typos were also disconcerting. It wasn’t a bad story but could definitely have benefited from a good editor. And by the way, I'm in the minority in my opinion of this book, so if you're a Molly Black fan you won't agree. If she's new to you, I encourage you to check the page on Amazon and the reviews there.