Friday, October 30, 2015


Nancy Gideon's 5th Annual Haunted Open House

Haunted Blog Hop!

If you checked in on October 26, you know that A Blue Million Books is participating in a Halloween blog hop. As promised, today I'm sharing a chapter from Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction that occurs on Halloween night. Louetta loves to cook, and she's prepared a Halloween feast . . .

Excerpt from Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction

Chapter 34


Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were.  
~Southern Proverb

Johnny and Martha Maye walked along the sidewalk, trailing Butterbean and Maddy Mack, who were trick-or-treating. Johnny put his arm around Martha Maye's shoulders and gave her an affectionate squeeze. “Did your mama tell you she invited me to dinner tonight?”

Martha Maye watched the girls run across a lawn to knock on another door. “She did, and if she hadn’t, I would have. Mama puts on the best Halloween party you ever did see. I hope you’re hungry. She’ll expect you to eat until you burst.”

“I’m always hungry. But I’ll pass on the bursting.” Butterbean screamed, and the light from the flashlight in Johnny's hand jerked toward the sound. Martha Maye took off at a dead run, but Johnny beat her to the two girls, who were jumping up and down, clinging to each other, half-laughing and half-crying. Pickle stood inside a Rubbermaid trashcan, his skinny legs sticking out of the cutout bottom that was cut out. He held the lid in his hand. He was wearing the black trashcan like it was a pair of overalls.

“What in the – ” Martha Maye started to say.

“Mama! We came past this trashcan — least we thought it was a trashcan — and Pickle jumped out of it and scared the living daylights out of us.”

“Him is mean!” Maddy Mack glared at Pickle, who was still laughing at his practical joke.

“Aw, I’m sorry.” Pickle didn’t look sorry. “But y’all gotta admit that’s a good trick.”

“That is a good trick,” Johnny said. “I’ll have to remember that next time I’m on surveillance.”

“Surveillance?” Matty Maddy Mack’s face screwed up in confusion.

“Like a stakeout,” Johnny explained.

“You’ve been on a stakeout before?” Butterbean asked, full of awe and wonder.

“Sure. A couple of times.”

As Johnny recounted one stakeout he’d been on, Pickle quietly crouched back down on the grass, pulling the trashcan lid over himself like a turtle. Then he lowered the lid on top, pulled his arms through the cut-outs, and tucked them inside. It looked like a trashcan was simply sitting on the lawn. When Johnny finished his story, Pickle jumped out like a jack-in-the-box, scaring the little girls again and sending them into another round of peals of screams.

“Aw, come on, that couldn’t have scared you! You knew I was inside there.”

“Okay, y’all, everybody move it. Let’s head to Mama’s for dinner. I can practically smell the cornbread from here.” Martha Maye herded them all toward Lou’s house in typical teacher mode.

“Hey, looka there!” Pickle said. “Hi, Mama! Hey, Peanut!”

“Ugh. Peanut,” Maddy Mack said to Butterbean. “He’s so ugly he could trick-or-treat over the phone.”

“Shh, now, none of that, girls.” Martha Maye swatted at the girls behinds. “Hello, Caledonia. Hi, Peanut. You sure are a scary vampire,” Martha Maye said.

“He scared us!” Butterbean said to Caledonia, pointing to Pickle.

“What did he do, darlin’?” Caledonia looked from Butterbean to her son. “What did you do, Pickle?”

Pickle started to crouch back down and show his mother his trick, but Martha Maye stopped him. “Show her later. Like when the girls aren’t in the vicinity. Caledonia, will you and Peanut join us for supper? I’m sure Mama fixed enough to feed Pharaoh’s army.”

“That would be lovely,” Caledonia said.

“Where’s Philetus tonight?”

She shook her head. “Working. He’s always working, isn’t he, Peanut?” Peanut was no longer at his mother’s side. He was running after the girls, who were going to trick-or-treat at the last few houses.

When they finally got to Louetta’s house, Martha Maye led them through the extensively-decorated living and dining rooms and into the hub of activity – the kitchen. Louetta had placed jack-o’-lanterns all over the living room. Some lined the mantle, some were on the coffee table, some went up the stairs, and some stood sentry in the doorways. Witches, ghosts, and monsters decorated every table in the room. In the dining room, five tissue paper ghosts hung from the chandelier, and pumpkins with faces made from vegetables sat on the table as a centerpiece. They had broccoli, unshelled peanuts, or Brussels
sprouts for hair; red peppers for lips; tiny white potatoes for eyes; string beans for eyebrows; tomatoes for ears. And the antique sideboard showcased five different desserts.

Ima Jean, Louetta, and Charlotte were in the kitchen, preparing dinner.

“Howdy, y’all. Welcome.” Louetta was dressed up like a witch, all in black, complete with striped stockings, a witch’s hat, and a fake nose with a wart. “Would y’all like some of my witch’s brew?” She cackled like a witch and didn’t wait for an answer, but grabbed mugs, and began pouring hot apple cider into them. “I got Polka Dot Punch for the kids, too.”

Martha Maye opened the lid of a pot on the stove, her face showing utter contentment as she breathed in the aroma. “Mmmm, chili.”

“Where’s the beef?” Ima Jean said.

“Looks like it’s in the chili.” Johnny peered over Martha Maye’s shoulder into the pot.

“Good Lord, this is a gracious plenty,” Johnny said, looking at the food covering every surface of the big country kitchen.

“I had lots of help this year,” she said. “Imy and Charlotte have purt near cooked their fingers to the bone.”

“Shake and bake. And I hayulped,” Ima Jean said.

“So y’all better eat up,” Lou continued. “Caledonia, Peanut,” she hugged Caledonia, “I’m so glad y’all could come, too. Philetus isn’t with y’all?”

“Thank you kindly for having us, Ms. Louetta. No, he’s working tonight, as usual. It sure does smell good in here. And everything looks wonderful.” She stepped next to Charlotte, who was putting corn sticks into a basket, and pulled her in for a quick side hug.

“Hi, Ms. Culpepper,” Charlotte said. “Where’s Pickle?”

Caledonia looked around the room. “Well shoot, he was here just a minute ago. Peanut, where’d your brother go?”

Peanut shrugged. “I dunno.”

“He’s probably out front playing his Pickle-in-the-trashcan joke on some poor unsuspecting person,” Johnny said.

“I’ll go look for him.” Charlotte headed for the door.

“No need. We brought in the trash,” Jack said, coming into the room with Tess and Pickle.

“And by trash, I mean Pickle, not my sweetheart.”

“You didn’t bring Ezzie?” Martha Maye asked.

“Heavens no, she wouldn’t be able to keep herself from all this good food. It would be a calamity.”

“Here, Caledonia." Lou handed over a cheese ball that looked like a pumpkin. "You take this cheese ball to the table. Imy, take the tater salad. Charlotte, grab the macaroni and
cheese. Butterbean, you take the mummy pizzas. Madison Mackenzie, take these.” She handed her a plate of pigs in a blanket, made to look like mummies.

“Lou, can I just have dessert?” Johnny eyed the huge orange-iced pumpkin-shaped cake, ghost sugar cookies with M&Ms for eyes, spider cookies with candy eyes and chow mien noodles for legs, Rice Krispies treat eyeballs, skeleton cupcakes with white chocolate–coated pretzels for the bones, and cupcakes with candy witch “legs” sticking upside down out of the icing.

“You can have whatever your little ol’ heart desires, Johnny.”

Johnny’s eyes immediately went to Martha Maye.

Jack whispered into his ear, “Man, you got it bad, don’tcha?”

Johnny’s face flushed bright red, and he swiped his hand over it.

“Yoo-hoo!” Honey called out from the front door. “Can we come in?”

“Absodanglutely.” Louetta hurried to greet Honey and Lolly. “Lolly, I’m glad you could make it.”

“Thank you kindly for the invite.” Lolly kissed her cheek.

“All right, y’all, have a seat and dig in,” Lou said, clapping her hands together. Then, “Wait. Let me say grace first.”

“I tell you what,” Lolly said after dinner, when everyone was sitting around in a sugar stupor, “that’ll chink your cracks.”

“I second that.” Jack patted his stomach. “That was flat-cold good. Y’all outdid yourselves.”

“Aw, thank you, boys, I – ” Lou stopped talking when she saw Ima Jean sit up straight, staring and stare strangely at the dining room window.

“Ernest Borgnine!” Ima Jean pointed. “Ernest Borgnine! He’s here.” She got up and ran to the window. Lou went with her, as Jack and Johnny went out the back door to see if Ima Jean really had seen somebody.

“I don’t see Mr. Borgnine, Imy. And furthermore, I can’t imagine why he would be in Goose Pimple Junction, or looking in our window.”

“But he was,” Imy insisted.

The men came back inside shaking their heads. “Nobody out there that we could see,” Jack said.

“Hey Pickle, come here a minute, would you?” Johnny said.

They disappeared out the back door and Jack explained, “He’s going to set out the trash.”

“I beg your pardon?” Caledonia said.

Jack laughed, along with everyone else. “I didn’t mean it like that. He’s setting up his own stakeout, and Pickle’s going to help. He looks invisible in that trash can, but even though nobody would guess there’s somebody inside that can, he can see out with those peep holes he punched into the side. Maybe he’ll see someone. You never know.”

Charlotte stood up so fast she nearly knocked her chair over. “I don’t want him doing that,” she said loudly. “He doesn’t know anything about stakeouts. He could get hurt.”

“Naw, Johnny won’t let that happen,” Jack assured.

“Won’t let what happen?” Johnny said, coming back inside.

“You won’t let Pickle get hurt out there.”

“’Course not.”

“I don’t care.” She looked like she was going to cry. “I don’t want him out there by himself. I’m going out, too.”

“But honey, if you go out, whoever it is might see you, and then Pickle wouldn’t be able to catch him,” Lou pointed out.

“He’s gonna scare the living daylights outta some poor unsuspecting soul.” Charlotte ran for the back door, leaving everyone at the table to look at each other in puzzlement.

Louetta broke the silence. “I’ve been around teenage girls in my time, but that’n is acting crazy as an outhouse mouse.”

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Thursday, October 29, 2015


stirch to die for large banner640


Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.

A Stitch to Die For-ebook

A Stitch to Die For (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery) (Volume 5)
5th in Series Cozy Mystery • Paperback: 240 pages • Publisher: Lois Winston (July 7, 2015)
• ISBN-13: 978-1940795300




USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Tsu at, on Pinterest, and on Twitter.

Connect with Lois:

  Blog  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Tsu  |  Goodreads    

Buy the book:
  Nook      Kobo    iTunes    Google Play 

October 29


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Tuesday, October 27, 2015



A casual glance out his apartment window turns Magician Eli Marks’ life upside down. After spotting a dead body in the projection booth of the movie theater next door, Eli is pulled into the hunt for the killer. As he attempts to puzzle out a solution to this classic locked room mystery, he must deal with a crisis of a more personal nature: the appearance of a rival magician who threatens not only Eli’s faith in himself as a performer, but his relationship with his girlfriend.

But the killer won’t wait and starts taking homicidal steps to bring Eli’s investigation to a quick and decisive end. Things get even worse when his magician rival offers his own plausible solution to the mystery. With all the oddball suspects gathered together, Eli must unveil the secrets to this movie-geek whodunit or find himself at the wrong end of the trick.


John, by my count, this is your eighth published book. What's your favorite thing about the writing process?

When an idea hits you out of nowhere and solves all the major problems in the book. This happens somewhat less frequently than one might like.

What books do you currently have published?
The Miser's Dream is the third book in the Eli Marks series. I have another, stand-alone novel, The Ripperologists, which has a tangential relationship with The Miser's Dream. I've also written three books on low-budget filmmaking.

Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?

This is more of an anti-strategy: Just because a person is interested in the general subject matter of your book (whether it be, oh I don't know, magic or Jack the Ripper), don't assume that they are your target market. Interest in a subject doesn't (necessarily) translate into reading fiction about that subject.

That's not to say that you shouldn't market to that audience; just don't focus on them to the exclusion of a wider reading audience that may enjoy your book.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Turner Classic Movies. Are there other stations?

How often do you tweet?
I love questions that make sense today and would have been meaningless (or vaguely suggestive) just ten years ago. This question definitely qualifies.

Who would you want to narrate a film about your life?
Morgan Freeman, because then it might sound at least vaguely interesting.

If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
Not only would it be full, but it would be a large and beautiful jar (likely an antique, certainly rare), paid for with the proceeds from a series of earlier swear jars.

Excellent idea. What's your relationship with your cell phone?
Constant. And I am frequently surprised to find that one can use it to place phone calls.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
One hour less than I need.

What is your favorite movie?

I've seen Harold and Maude more times than I can count, so that might qualify.

Which actor was your favorite Batman?
Adam West and Michael Keaton, each in their own, inimitable way.

I say black and white movies, you say . . .


If you had to choose a cliche about life, what would it be?
I'm not getting older, I'm getting better. (Although, in reality, I'm also getting older.)

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Yes please.
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? No contest. Bill Murray. (Has Chevy Chase ever been funny?)
Indoors or outdoors? Indoors. On the couch. With Bill Murray. Eating frosted cake. Watching Harold and Maude. On TCM.
I like how you think, John!



In real life, John’s not a magician, but he has directed six low-budget features that cost very little and made even less – that’s no small trick. He’s also written multiple books on the subject of low-budget filmmaking. Ironically, they’ve made more than the films. His blog, “Fast, Cheap Movie Thoughts” has been named “One of the 50 Best Blogs for Moviemakers” and “One of The 100 Best Blogs For Film and Theater Students.” He’s also written for TV and the stage. John lives in Minnesota and shares his home with his lovely wife, several dogs, a few cats and a handful of pet allergies.

Connect with John:
Facebook  |  
Twitter  | 

Monday, October 26, 2015


Nancy Gideon's 5th Annual Haunted Open House

I'm delighted to take part in Nancy Gideon's Haunted Open House Giveaway Blog Hop.
As the name suggests, there is a giveaway. Enter the Rafflecopter below and then follow the links to the other blogs that are participating in the blog hop for more giveaway chances. Check back here on October 30 for a special Goose Pimple Junction Halloween feature. Get your blog on!


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Don't forget to check back on October 30 for a special Halloween treat, Goose Pimple Junction style!


Sunday, October 25, 2015



Rose Strickland’s life is complicated. Besides her waitressing gig, she works part-time for Andre Thomas, a PI with no faith in Rose’s ability to investigate, her love life with Sullivan has stalled, and her BFF, Roxy, has found a new bestie, leaving Rose out in the cold.

Determined to prove herself, Rose takes a case on the sly. As she searches for a missing MMA fighter, Rose discovers an illegal fight club, a group of ruthless businessmen, dead bodies, and a trail of drugs.

Hunting down clues that lead too close to home, Rose finds herself in the fight of her life. Can she beat the killer to the punch before she gets knocked out for good?


How did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”

I wrote a bit when my kids were young, but didn’t have time to write seriously until they were teenagers. Then I went at it full throttle.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
I like being surprised by the characters.

How long is your to-be-read list?

I’m not sure I can count that high.

What books do you currently have published?
I have the Rose Strickland Mystery series and Beauty and the Brit, a romance series.

Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?
I’m a firm believer in the adage: your next good book is your best advertisement. I believe in putting my eggs into a lot of different baskets. I like to switch genres. I write for a small press, a traditional press, and soon, I’m going to indie pub for the first time. I like to tweet about reality TV, and that led to a gig as a contributor on All About the Tea. I try to put time into what I enjoy and write like crazy.

How long have you been a writer?

I’ve been writing seriously for the last five years.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Bravo! I love me some Housewives.

How often do you tweet?
I like to live tweet my favorite shows. I’ve found my tribe on Twitter.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I really love the connections I’ve made with readers on Facebook. They’re a good group, and I value their friendship.

For what would you like to be remembered?
If I can give people a chuckle, I’m happy.

What scares you the most?
I’m a wuss. Everything scares me.

YouTube is . . . Awesome. How else would I know how to do a proper smoky eye?

What five things would you never want to live without?

My hubs, my allergy meds, my books, Coke Zero, and beads. Shallow? Yes, but my world would be a much sadder, snifflier place without them.

Who would you want to narrate a film about your life?

Morgan Freeman. He should narrate everything.

3D movies are . . . nausea inducing.

If you had a swear jar, would it be full?

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Introvert. I like people. Just in small doses.

What's your relationship with your TV remote?
We’re besties.

Do you spend more on clothes or food?
Do beads count as clothes? Because beads.

What's your favorite treat for movie night?

Coke Zero. Can’t get enough.

What's the biggest lie you ever told?

Like I’d tell you, you naughty minx!

Can't blame me for trying. What is the most daring thing you've done?
Gone on vacation with my mother-in-law.

You are a daredevil. What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Did you not read the last sentence?!

I take your point. What is your most embarrassing moment?
Back when I was in hair school, I rubbed temporary dye off a woman’s forehead. Except it wasn’t dye. It was Ash Wednesday. Whoops!

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
That perm that spanned the 80s.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Never give up. Never surrender” Galaxy Quest.

What would your main character say about you?
“She’s a little obsessive. And not in a good way.”

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I always think the current project I’m working on is the hardest. I go through a few drafts and I have a love/hate relationship with each of them. 

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
The little library in my hometown is gone, and a bigger, newer building has taken its place. I worked there as a page when I was fifteen. It was small, and we didn’t have a lot of books. The floor was wavy and the ceiling leaked, making all the books smell like mildew. I fell in love with reading in that ratty library.

You can be any fictional character for one day.
Who would you be? Veronica Mars. She rocked so hard.

Yes, she did. What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
Someone thought my characters were flat. It’s like telling someone their kid is ugly. I love my characters. They’re real people to me. I shook it off and got thicker skin.

Who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world?

Hmm. I don’t really dislike anyone enough to foist my cooking on them. 

What's your relationship with your cell phone?

I keep losing it. So . . . I’m not as close to it as I am my remote control.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Never enough.

What is your favorite movie?

Pride and Prejudice, the Colin Firth version.

Do you have a favorite book?
That’s like asking which character I love the best. I don’t like to play favorites.

Do you sweat the small stuff?

I’m schvitzing as I type.

What are you working on now?
The first book in a new romance series. It’s about Irish expats living in Chicago.

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Um . . . both, naturally.
Laptop or desktop? Desktop to work. Laptop to search.
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Bill.
Emailing or texting? Email.
Indoors or outdoors? In.
Tea: sweet or unsweet? Unsweet.
Plane, train, or automobile? Auto.


As a girl, Terri L. Austin thought she'd outgrow dreaming up stories and creating imaginary friends. Instead, she's made a career of it. She met her own Prince Charming and together they live in Missouri.

Connect with Terri:

Website  |  
Blog   |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Goodreads  

Friday, October 23, 2015



Debutante dropout Andrea Kendricks is beyond done with big hair, big gowns, and big egos—so being dragged to a high-society Texas wedding by her socialite mama, Cissy, gives her a bad case of déjà vu. As does running into her old prep-school bully, Olivia La Belle, the wedding planner, who's graduated to berating people for a living on her reality TV show. But for all the times Andy wished her dead, nobody deserves Olivia's fate: lying in a pool of blood, a cake knife in her throat—but did the angry baker do it?

Millicent Draper, the grandmotherly owner of Millie's Cakes, swears she's innocent, and Andy believes her. Unfortunately, the cops don't. Though Andy's fiancé, lawyer Brian Malone, is handling Millie's case, she's determined to spring Millie herself. But where to start? "La Belle from Hell" had enemies galore. Good thing Andy has a BFF who's a reporter — and a blue-blood mother who likes to pull strings.


Susan, what’s your favorite thing about the writing process?
Being able to escape whatever’s going on in real life — my personal life or the crazy stuff in the newspaper headlines — and spending time with the characters in my stories. There’s so much in reality that I can’t control, but I can control what happens to the people in my books. That’s kind of reassuring, especially since I’m raising a little girl and the world is such a scary place. At least in my writing I can be sure the bad guy gets caught and there’s at least a semblance of a happy ending.

How long is your to-be-read list?
Endless! I have bookshelves filled with titles I’m dying to read. Unfortunately, since I had Emily three years ago, I only manage to read a handful of books a year as opposed to 2-3 a week. I’m sure that’ll change as she grows up and I get more time to myself (waaa!  I’m going to be the sobbing mom in the parking lot when I drop her off at kindergarten in two years!).

Yep. Been there, done that! How long have you been a writer?

For as long as I can remember. I was a voracious reader as a kid, and I started writing stories as soon as I could hold a pencil. My mom has a collection of my tales from grade school, and I have three books I wrote in the fifth grade, one of which is a mystery called The Secret of the Forbidden Temple. It’s pretty much a Nancy Drew rip-off and probably why the protag of my Debutante Dropout Mysteries, Andy Kendricks, has a fascination with Nancy Drew! In between transferring colleges when I was 19, I wrote my first adult-length manuscript: an historical romance called The Thorn of the Rose. It was never published, but I did submit to various New York houses and got some encouraging feedback. But it took a decade after I graduated from college before my first novel came out. That was in 1999, and I’ve been writing steadily ever since. So I’m glad I didn’t give up!

If you could only watch one TV station for a year, what would it be?
HGTV. I am so addicted to home renovation shows and House Hunters. In my imaginary life, I’m an interior designer. I think that would be so much fun!

How often do you Tweet?

Never. I’m probably the only author alive who isn’t on Twitter, and I don’t regret it for a minute.

How do you feel about Facebook?
Mostly, I love it. I am so wrapped up with my daughter and my deadlines that I don’t have as much time as I’d like to catch up with friends. If it weren’t for Facebook, I’d be totally in the dark. Plus, it’s so fun to interact with folks you don’t get to see everyday (heck, or ever). When I’ve had a bad day or have parenting questions or want to divulge good news, it’s wonderful to have a place where I can share. Facebook is the water cooler for those of us who work at home.

True! That's a perfect description. What five things would you never want to live without?
That’s easy: my daughter, my husband, my mom, my cats, and trees.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Both. I was shy as a kid but had to learn to overcome it once my dad had moved us for, oh, the fifth time. I still have that shy kid inside me, but I’ve become much more of an extrovert through the years. I don’t think I could have done as much public speaking about my books and my breast cancer experience if I were still a complete introvert.

Do you spend more on clothes or food?
Food, by far, and I’m amazed how often I have to go grocery shopping just to feed a family of three.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write? 
It’s a tie between Little Black Dress and In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Guy, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After 40. In Little Black Dress, I tell the tale of two sisters and a magical black dress that gives them a glimpse of their future when they don it. That one struck a lot of chords in me, as my sister and I are as different as the sisters in the book, Evie and Anna. The frustration Evie feels for Anna is so much what I’ve experienced with my sister that it felt more fact than fiction. And the things that Evie goes through in the story, like her miscarriage, actually happened to me as I was writing. People talk about writing “the book of your heart,” and I’ve always thought, “Hey, every book is a book of my heart.” But Little Black Dress truly was.

In the Pink is a short memoir of the last decade of my life: meeting my husband at 41, being diagnosed with breast cancer at 42, the miscarriage at 46, and finding I was pregnant with Emily at 47. My editor at HarperCollins asked me to write the book for their Impulse line during my pregnancy. The hormones probably had something to do with how emotional I was during that process, but also having to relive some of the biggest highs and lows of my life really hit home. So, of course, I laughed, I cried, and somehow I managed to finish just before I went into labor.

I'll be that's an amazing story. Have you ever been to a fortune teller? What did she tell you?
Yes, and I still need to call Julia and arrange for her to do my annual birthday tarot card reading, so thanks for reminding me! The first time I had my cards read was in October of 2005. I was told I’d meet a man and be in a committed relationship by February. Ha ha, I thought, as I wasn’t even dating anyone worth spit. But I met Ed in November, and we were inseparable by February. The cards have been wrong, too. I was told at a reading on September 27, 2011, that I would never have children (and I recall the date exactly because it was at an event for Little Black Dress!). I found out I was pregnant three weeks later, and it was such a good, healthy pregnancy. So I do love the fun of having my fortune told, but I realize in the back of my head that it’s not set in stone. Anything is possible.

What are you working on now?
The fourth River Road Mystery for HarperCollins called Come Helen High Water. It’s due March 1 and will be out next June. So I’d better get cracking!

Lightning Round
Cake or frosting? Frosting (preferably chocolate!)
Laptop or desktop? Desktop (because I’m Old School)
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Bill Murray
Emailing or texting? Emailing (because I’m wordy)
Indoors or outdoors? Outdoors (unless it’s 100 degrees in the shade)
Sweet tea or unsweetened tea? Unsweetened.
Plane, train, or automobile? Train (we watch a lot of Thomas & Friends!)

About the Author:

Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of Blue Blood and the Debutante Dropout Mysteries, which have garnered a Lefty Award, two Anthony Award nominations, and an RT Magazine Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Amateur Sleuth. Susan also writes the bestselling River Road Mysteries for HarperCollins, featuring senior sleuth Helen Evans. She is currently at work on Come Helen High Water to be published by HarperCollins in June of 2016.

Connect with Susan:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015



Three peoples’ life stories intertwine with a synchronistic twist.

Jimmy Pollaski, a young man at the peak of his potential, dies suddenly in a motorcycle accident. As his spirit hovers above his lifeless body, he calls out to his mother, Patricia, only to find that his words are inaudible. He then promises to find some way to transmit his message to the world of the living.

It is no coincidence that Lorrena Shaw can see him, along with other spirits — a gift that Lorrena’s mother shuns. After her mother suddenly announces that they will abandon their home in Connecticut to care for Lorrena’s grandmother — a grandmother she has never known — Lorrena inevitably finds herself in the same small Massachusetts city where Patricia resides.

As their paths unite, Lorrena discovers the unbearable grief that haunts Patricia’s every move. Now, not only must she convince Patricia that her son’s soul has survived the fatal crash, she must also travel beyond space and time to access the Akashic Records, the library of all of Human Existence, and write their stories as one — a story that ultimately shatters the boundaries between life and death.

If you liked The 5 People You Meet in Heaven or The Celestine Prophecy, you’ll love
Illusion of an Ending.


Danielle, how did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”

I began writing very early on. I guess you could say I always knew I would be a writer. I remember writing stories in 1st grade, and then when I moved to a Montessori school a few years later, I even wrote my first “novel.” Looking back, I am so thankful for my teacher coming up with this blue notebook idea filled with lined paper where we literally got to sit down at a table and write whenever we had the opportunity to choose our activity. I wanted to be just like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike back then. I remember realizing though that I did not really know enough about life to write and publish a real book.

In middle school and high school I continued to write short stories and poems with lots of teenage angst. My senior year, I took a class called “Writing for Publication” which was a little scary because we had to share our writing with others. I think it was a good step for me and helped me really break out of my shell. In college, after finally deciding to major in English with a focus in creative writing, I won a scholarship for a collection of my short stories. I then moved across country to pursue my MFA, and finally wrote my first real novel, alongside my children’s book.

I found a small publishing company to publish both of those books, but when things didn’t work out, fate led me down the road of independent publishing. I guess this when I became a real author, having my books available on Amazon for people other than just myself and friends and family.

How long is your to-be-read list?
Oh gosh, it’s way too long! My “problem” is that I continually find amazing books to read, while still in the middle of others. Then, I start reading a little bit because I get so excited, and find myself in the middle of 5 incredible books. Will I ever catch up? I hope so!

What books do you currently have published?
I first published my children’s picture book Tina Tumbles, which was inspired by my childhood. As a kid, I loved to flip around my house until my mother got so scared I’d hurt myself, she signed me up for gymnastics. Though the storyline follows a little girl learning how to do a cartwheel, this book is all about perseverance and getting back up when you fall down — a lesson that can be applied to pretty much any aspect of life.

Later in the year, I published my novel, Illusion of an Ending which is very different from my first published book. I actually wrote this novel for my thesis during my MFA program, and for about 5 years I was trying to figure out who to send it to in order to get it out into the world. I knew it belonged in the Visionary & Metaphysical fiction genre, but there were only a few publishers who dealt with this emerging genre and hardly any literary agents. I felt very strongly about the message of this book though.

After getting in my first car accident in Rhode Island with a man in a rental car from southern California, I had a strange feeling that I would somehow write about it and also that I would end up in California. I realized in that moment that there were no accidents. On the same day, I later learned that a friend of mine had lost his childhood friend in an accident less than an hour away from where the guy I had gotten into my car accident with lived. I later came up with the idea for a book about a young man who passed away in a motorcycle accident but had a very important message to deliver to his grieving mother and the world of the living. He just needed a way to communicate the message since his mother couldn’t hear him.

Eventually, events lined up for me to move across the country to pursue my MFA in Creative writing at Chapman University in Orange, California. Moving across the country knowing hardly anyone, when I got there I found that several of the people that I met were connected in strange ways. Synchronicity in my life also inspired a part of the book, which is ultimately about how our stories unite and continue on long after we leave this Earth, and the important connections we make while we’re here — connections which do not end even after we pass on.

Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?
Marketing has been a lot of learning for me. I’m certainly not an expert, and I’ve found that marketing a children’s book is very different than marketing an adult novel, not to mention I have two very different target audiences for my work. I have learned a bit about Amazon though, and how Amazon can be a great marketing tool. My children’s book is in a very niche category, which makes it extremely easy for people to find. Books continually sell, and I don’t really have to do much.

For my novel, things have not been as easy. I’m playing around with Kindle free promotions and Kindle Countdown deals. In order to do these though you have to be enrolled in Kindle Select, taking your book down on every other e-store. I recently did a free promotion, posting my book on free sites to let people know about the download. I had over 2,700 downloads within 5 days, and found that I got a few reviews as well as lots more people adding my book on Goodreads. I am still learning (it doesn’t ever end!) and trying to figure out the best ways to market my particular genres to my different audiences.

You have a day job . . . how do you find time to write?

Luckily, I have an evening job which leaves a lot of time during the day for writing . . . which doesn’t actually always happen. I try to keep a balance between exercise, taking care of my house, marketing, writing, and reading . . . all while not using up all of my energy since I go into coach gymnastics to children with a LOT of energy in the late afternoon.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Oprah Winfrey Network! I don’t watch much TV, but I absolutely love Super Soul Sunday and all of the insight it offers. Oprah is one of the most incredible, inspirational people alive today, and the impact she has on the world is priceless. I love that she shares stuff “out of the box” too, stuff to truly help people get in touch with their inner selves and life purpose. 

How do you feel about Facebook?
Facebook and I have a love/hate relationship. I love being able to connect to friends and family, and people in general who I wouldn’t have otherwise met or kept in touch with. Yet, it can be a huge distraction. Again, it’s all about balance. Facebook has, however, continued to make it tougher for business pages to reach people. I love posting and sharing inspirational quotes and pictures and articles, but often wonder how worth it it really is to spend time on sharing stuff that hardly anyone sees. I guess though, it’s not about reaching tons and tons of people. If you inspire or make an impact on one person a day or week or month, it’s worth it, right?

I think so. What scares you the most?
Not achieving everything I came here to do.

What five things would you never want to live without?
Love, books, gymnastics, nature, children. Love is the glue that holds the world together. It expands beyond life and certainly keeps me going every day . . . loving people and things and what I do. Books are a great way to sit back lose yourself in a story, to leave your own life for bit, as well as great tools to learn something new. Gymnastics, in my opinion, is one of the best sports ever created, implementing strength with mental focus, body awareness, and dedication. Nature helps me return to my inner peacefulness and continually reminds me how much beauty there is in the world. Children always remind me to live in the moment, have fun, to see the lighter side of life, and also that things are never has hard as they seem.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Sometimes I feel like a little bit of both. There are times when I want to meet and talk with anyone and everyone, and other times I feel so shy and self-conscious and like to keep to myself.

Do you spend more on clothes or food?
Well, I certainly have been spending a LOT on food lately, probably because I’m having a baby in the next couple of months and have found it very important to make sure I’m feeding her good stuff . . . and maybe a little “bad stuff” too! I try to eat food that’s good for me since it is really the fuel that keeps us going during the day. No processed crap, which I’ll admit, I used to eat a lot of!

Congratulations on the baby! That's great news. What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.” –Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. This quote is my life theme . . . and I will elaborate more in a later question.

Have you ever been to a fortune teller? What did she tell you?
Yes, I guess you could say that I have. I’m a firm believer in them, but have always learned that the future is never wholly set in stone because we all have free will. Also, that we are often the best fortune tellers of all for ourselves. Recently a tarot reader told me that I would write a children’s book that would be carried in the San Diego Zoo. I was a little skeptical, but did eventually start a story with an idea that came to me about a kid imagining what his life would be like if he moved into a zoo . . . only to find out a little later that my illustrator had done a few illustrations pretty much drawing out what I’d started writing. I haven’t really finished the story, but thought that was pretty cool! We will see how it goes!

Who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world?

Jim Carrey! The dude is not only hilarious, but he is also incredibly inspirational — a side of him which is certainly not shown in Dumb and Dumber or Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and a side that not everyone knows about. I had no clue until very recently how deep he actually is. I think it would be really cool to sit down with Jim at a dinner party and talk about life. 

What is your favorite movie?
Donnie Darko is one of my favorites. I love movies (as well as books) that really make you think. I try not to watch movies that have any violence. This movie not only has an interesting storyline that makes you kinda go “What?!” by the end of it all, it also has an incredible soundtrack. I’ve probably watched it over 20 times!

Do you have a favorite book?
Oh man, I have a few! Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, Paulo Cohelo’s The Alchemist, Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. Nonfiction: Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton, and my favorite children’s book is The Little House by Virgina Lee Burton. I continue to add to my list of favorites every year!

If you had to choose a cliche about life, what would it be?
Everything happens for a reason. You hear it a lot, but I also think it is not always backed up 100% with what those reasons are. I totally think that everything that happens to us is never “by accident” or random, even the little things. We are always learning from our experiences, and things often repeat if we don’t learn from them. I totally believe we come here with a purpose and it’s not all “God’s plan”, but our own, one we created for ourselves (before we are born) and whether or not we carry it out is our own deal. Our Higher Self, as they say, knows exactly what it is we’re supposed to be doing, and all we have to do is go inward and follow our hearts to figure it out. I’ve been studying a lot about Law of Attraction too which says that, “What we think about comes about.” I’ve really adopted the power of positive thinking in my life because we often attract what we concentrate on — it’s simply a law of the Universe, similar to the way gravity works. So yeah, I totally believe that everything happens for a reason . . . and even when bad things happen, we must simply trust that they are leading us to better things and that we are on the right path.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on a few things, including the sequel to Tina Tumbles called Tina Loses a Tooth, as well as a few other children’s book manuscripts I’ve been tweaking over the past couple of years. I’ve also started my next novel, which is about a woman who is saved by her guardian angel — who continues to show himself to her as she learns her true purpose in life beyond going to work every day and simply making a living.

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Ice cream cake!
Laptop or desktop? Desktop
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Chevy Chase
Emailing or texting? Both!
Indoors or outdoors? Outdoors
Tea: sweet or unsweet? semi-sweet
Plane, train, or automobile? automobile! (my husband is a car guy)

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

Book Excerpt from Illusion of an Ending


Jimmy Pollaski
“Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality.”
— Emily Dickinson

Every day of my life I died a new death.

As the years turned me from child to teenager to adult, I remember wondering what it would feel like to die. How would I know when it happened?

Now, as I ascend over my body lying lifeless in the hospital bed, I see everything at once, know everything at the same time. My mother stands over me, her head low. She’s  waiting for a sign to assure her that I’ll be okay. My father sits behind her. His mind is
racing, face blank. He never knows the right way to calm her down. Outside, the San Diego sun warms the day to a pleasant seventy-four degrees.

I feel nothing but a rush of energy as the light around me grows brighter. Life isn’t flashing before my eyes, like they say, but showing up in pieces that remind me things will not carry on as they were. I begin to recall events throughout my lifetime where I believed I was coming so close . . . to a close.

I thought once that dying would be like breaking my elbow after my bicycle flew out from under my eight-year-old body. Pain shot up my arm, folded under at an unnatural angle. Still alive years later, I swore that death would be like the feeling of my lungs collapsing as my track coach yelled, “Only ten more miles!” I thought death loomed after a fifteen-minute swim in November’s North Atlantic, purple shaking lips and rubber skin. When that wasn’t death, I was sure it would arrive the morning after kicking kegs in the woods as the night transformed into dawn.

I recognize my mother’s worry that if the beer didn’t kill us, maybe it would have been the eighty-foot jumps into the quarry’s cavernous waters. The lofty shadows of trees drifted over our drunken heads, stars blinking through the branches. Our bodies floated in the cool water. Our sobriety was the only casualty then. The intoxication never shut me down completely, not even when my eyes shook to a close, opening again four hours later to the sun pouring rays at me as generously as I had let the alcohol flow down my throat. Head pounding, thinking in broken thoughts. Yes, finally, this had to be it. Really dying. Now I know that these times were only attempts at escape, the way my mother closes her eyes but the world remains around her, the way people are unable to fully detach from the hurt and vulnerability which tie us hand-in-hand to life. We persevere, countless moments of pain leading us to this final moment of release.

Twenty-five years gone by, but it’s my time.

“Mom, I’m okay! I’m right here!” My voice stifles as if I’m talking into layers of sheets that I can’t lift.

My mother’s chin rises. She pulls her cell phone from her pocket.

Thousands of miles away, my sister looks out her window at the snow-covered scenery. The streets are caked in thick ice. She’s clutching the phone to her face, her eyes red and puffy as she dabs them with tissue.

The hospital staff urged my friends to go and rest hours ago. I see them asleep on the couches, the silent glow of the television lighting up the living room.

“I know you can’t hear me now, but I will find a way. There is a way,” I tell them. It’s only a matter of time before the days align. My path has led me here, the wind pressing against my face, the motorcycle’s engine roaring beneath me. The earth and the ocean smear together at seventy miles per hour. Paths of everyone on Earth diverging, and intersecting.

I watch my mother collapse into the chair beside my dad, his arm cradling her descent. The doctor stands above them. All at once, I feel the delicate hand of my grandmother, its warmth transferring through my body like a comet grazing the sky with a sudden, hot glow. She’s been waiting for me.

My mother’s face contorts. She tosses her face into her hands, head shaking back and forth.

“My story isn’t over, Mom,” I say. “The beginnings and the endings aren’t real. I promise, I will tell you the true story—our story.”

As I speak, the scene closes in around me, forming a tunnel of astounding radiance. Shards of illumination multiply without hurting my eyes.

Today I am dying, yet I feel more alive now than ever before as the world around me fades to light.


Danielle Soucy Mills is the award-winning author of Visionary & Metaphysical novel Illusion of an Ending and children’s picture book, Tina Tumbles. A lover of books since childhood, she studied English and creative writing at Rhode Island College, before moving to California to earn her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Chapman University. She enjoys writing books for both children and adults which inspire, encourage, and delve into our Divine purpose for being. Danielle has made guest appearances on The Nancy Ferrari Show on iHeart Radio, The Writer’s Divine Den Radio Show, and her work has been featured in Bellésprit Magazine, as well as Chicken Soup for the Soul. She currently resides in San Diego with her wonderful husband, Jesse, and her ever-growing collection of books.

Connect with Danielle:

Website  | 
 Blog  | 
 Facebook  |  
Twitter  | 

Monday, October 19, 2015



Immersed in the world of weddings and romance, Lily Lavender grew up believing in brides, grooms and happily-ever-afters. A direct descendent of the British royals, it seemed her destiny and royal birthright to someday assume a position as wedding coordinator in their family-owned wedding chapel business. But when her mother Mimi’s third marriage eventually fails, Lily’s dreams of her own happily-ever-after quickly fade. She’s no longer interested in a life of assisting brides walk down the aisle into a life of disillusionment and possible divorce. Lily turns her back on The Royal Wedding Chapel and leaves Las Vegas to fashion a life of her own.

Years later, Lily — now a single mom — discovers her teenage daughter has run off to Las Vegas, lured by Mimi to help run the chapel. Determined to save her daughter from the broken dreams of Sin City and the nonsensical world of which family fairy tales are made, Lily returns to Las Vegas. But nothing prepares Lily for the royal drama which awaits her . . . or the sins and secrets she stumbles across that threaten to close the chapel and ruin her family forever.


Kathleen Irene Paterka is an Amazon bestselling author of numerous women’s fiction novels. Her popular James Bay series includes Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned, while her recent women’s fiction novel The Other Wife is set in Chicago. Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel, a Las Vegas tale of romance and royalty, will be released by Booktrope Publishing in October 2015. Kathleen lives in Northern Michigan with her husband Steve, where she is busy working on her next James Bay novel.

Connect with Irene:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |   Twitter  |   Goodreads   |   Pinterest   |  Newsletter      

Saturday, October 17, 2015



Rory Chasen, now the manager of the Lucky Dog Boutique in Destiny, California, is delighted when her best friend Gemma arrives a day early for her visit. Gemma’s just broken up with her boyfriend in Los Angeles, so Rory is especially eager to cheer her up. But before they get a chance to talk, two of the town’s most eligible bachelors sidle in. Their amorous advances—and an unexpected job offer—seem to take Gemma’s mind off her ex . . . until he arrives in Destiny. As Gemma tries to sort out what to do, one of her suitors is murdered, leaving Rory to wonder if a black cat has crossed Gemma’s path. Is Rory’s friend guilty of murder—or is she just having a run of bad luck.


How did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”

I started writing as a child and never stopped! I used to save topics for school essays and had lots of fun with them, got an undergraduate degree in journalism, became a lawyer and wrote contracts, then started publishing fiction with a mystery short story that won the Robert L. Fish Award for the best first mystery short story of the year. I've been publishing novels for 20 years.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
I love to think up new concepts, then flesh them out into a story or series – especially if they have dogs in them! It's a process, and I've come to trust my subconscious to come up with something I can get excited about. Like superstitions and, yes, dogs – which of course are both featured in the Superstition Mysteries.

What books do you currently have published? 
Knock on Wood is my 41st novel. I've been writing 4 cozy mystery series including the Superstition Mysteries, as well as romantic suspense and paranormal romance.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I enjoy Facebook. It's a way to make new friends and promotional contacts and stay in frequent touch with those I already have.

YouTube is ...
A treasury of dog commercials.

What five things would you never want to live without?
My family: my husband, sons, d-i-l and grandsons  (okay, that's actually 7 to start with)
My dogs
My computer
My imagination
My home

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Depends on when you ask me. Since I'm just sitting at the computer today, I'm an introvert. But if I'm giving a talk or on a panel, I'm an extrovert.

What's your relationship with your TV remote?

We're good friends except when it decides to act slowly.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"Reality is only for those who lack imagination."

What would your main character say about you?
Interesting question. Rory Chasen, the main character in my Superstition Mysteries, might ask me if I believe in superstitions. She's a superstition agnostic, but she has to find out of superstitions are real after her fiancé walked under a ladder and died soon thereafter. Now she lives in Destiny, California, with her lucky dog Pluckie, managing the Lucky Dog Boutique. And solving murders. And dealing with superstitions that tourists and townsfolk are always talking about.

So do I believe in superstitions? I'm not sure, but I do cross my fingers and knock on wood, like nearly everyone else. And if Rory asked me why I imposed this story idea on her, I might tell her I'm wishing good luck for her and everyone else who reads the Superstition Mysteries.

Whether she'd set a black cat to cross my path after that I'm not sure . . .

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I loved my Pet Rescue mystery series, but some of the stories were hard to write since they all involved a different aspect of pet rescue, such as puppy mills. On the other hand, I made it clear that all the animals would be saved and come out of the stories just fine.  People, on the other hand – well, they were cozy mysteries, so at least one person had to be murdered.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?

I love the Los Angeles Library system because it's huge and I can order nearly any book I want and have it show up locally.

What are you working on now?

Four novel series: the Superstition Mysteries, the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, the Alpha Force paranormal romance series for Harlequin Nocturne about a covert military unit of shapeshifters, and the non-witness protection miniseries for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Cake.
Laptop or desktop? Desktop – mine always seems to give me less backtalk than my laptops.
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Bill Murray.
Emailing or texting? Emailing – can make it longer with more attachments. On the other hand, I do text a lot with friends and family . . .
Indoors or outdoors? Indoors – easier to work there.
Tea: sweet or unsweet? Neither. Coffee.
Plane, train, or automobile? Depends on where I'm going.


Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, currently writes two mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs: the Superstition Mysteries, where her protagonist runs a pet boutique, and the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries where the protagonist, a veterinary technician, also owns a barkery and a bakery. She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and also currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne. Her latest releases, Canadian Wolf for Nocturne and the second Superstition Mystery, Knock on Wood, are her fortieth and forty-first published novels.

Connect with Linda:
Website  | Blog  |  Facebook  |  
Twitter  |  Goodreads  

Thursday, October 15, 2015



Pieces of Home

A story of long ago secrets revealed and the strength of one woman’s journey to overcome the pain of her past.

Ellie hasn’t seen or spoken to her parents in twenty years — since she came to live on the island with her aunt and uncle. Ellie’s all grown up now and runs the popular family bakery, Sweet Treats. 

An unforeseen plea for help forces Ellie to reveal a secret she’s kept hidden from even her closest friends. Her innate kindness and desire to help propel her on a turbulent journey. The pieces of her past she’s worked so hard to escape resurface and bring her face to face with heartache. In the midst of unearthing her long buried pain, she faces challenges that threaten her livelihood and those she holds most dear.

When newcomer Blake Griffin arrives, he frequents the bakery in the early morning hours and over fresh cinnamon rolls they develop a friendship. He renews a sense of hope and joy in Ellie, but she’s hesitant to trust him with her heart. Instead of letting her past define her future, Ellie must summon the courage to recognize an unexpected path may be a welcome gift.


The Hometown Harbor Series and the Creation of Characters and Setting

by Tammy L. Grace

I love to write for the same reasons I read — enjoyment and escape. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and find myself most attracted to characters in novels. Not to say I don’t pay attention to plot, but if push comes to shove, I’ll stick with a character I like over a well-developed plot with mediocre personas. I’m embarrassed to admit, but many times I remember the main character’s name in a book, rather than the author’s name.

I need to relate to the character and more importantly, I need to care about what happens to her. I read a bestselling novel not long ago and despite the rave reviews, hated it because I didn’t care about any of the characters. I thought they were all horrible and frankly didn’t care what happened to any of them . . . live or die. 

When I’m creating my main characters I work hard to make them believable and relatable.  The female protagonists in my Hometown Harbor series are all women with whom I’d enjoy spending my free time. I strive to create individuals readers love or sometimes love to hate. I believe central characters should be memorable.

Speaking of villains, they’re rather fun to construct. I take a lot of time with my characters and keep a notebook full of traits and characteristics for each of them. I pay attention when I’m out and about and take note of peculiarities or mannerisms I observe. When it comes to the bad apples, I tend to extract the most detestable traits I’ve seen and concoct an amalgamation to form the perfect evil character. It’s a fun exercise, and as an author I enjoy embellishing a minor irritating quality I’ve noticed and turning it into a revolting character. 

The Hometown Harbor series is my women’s fiction series, and each book focuses on a different female protagonist. All of the women are connected through friendship and their lives are intertwined in the small island community of Friday Harbor. Each woman faces struggles that take her on an emotional journey of self-discovery. Complex family relationships and enduring friendships are key elements for the group of women. The choices they often have to make are difficult and risky.

Readers find my Hometown Harbor series to be relaxing and often describe them as books that transport them to another place. In this case, the gorgeous San Juan Islands. I do loads of research and draw on my own trips to the area to create what I hope is an authentic experience for my readers. For me the quaint island community that is the setting almost becomes another character. They are an ideal read for vacations, relaxing breaks, or just an escape from everyday life. I tend to indulge in books as a reward to myself and they are the perfect calorie-free treat.

The female leads are more mature women in their 40’s and 50’s. I made this choice for a few reasons — I don’t relate to the twenty-something crowd and I think women of a certain age are underrepresented in mainstream novels, but have the most to offer readers. In my latest release, Pieces of Home (Book 4), I focused on my youngest lead in the character of Ellie, who is thirty-five. Ellie appears in the first book, Finding Home, but the reader learns about her life, including her tragic past, in the latest book. Although she’s younger than some of the other women, she’s confronted with challenges beyond her years. 

I recommend you start with the first book and read them in order, so as to have the most enjoyable experience. I love to hear from readers and invite you to follow me on Facebook or Amazon or visit my website to contact me. It’s fun to discuss the books and characters and listen to the thoughts of readers, especially when it comes to the leading ladies and their challenges. Please let me know your favorites from the series and who you would most like to see featured in a future book.


Finding Home (Book 1)  
A coming to life journey for a middle-aged woman, who flees to a small island expecting a change of scenery and discovers much more.

Shattered by her husband's infidelities after twenty-five years of marriage, Sam Collins is plagued by constant fear and loneliness, reliving the tragic death of her parents and the betrayal by the man she loved. She leaves Seattle seeking relief from the relentless darkness that has swallowed her. With only her dog for companionship, she sets out to live in her vacation home on San Juan Island. 

In her search for a carpenter, she meets the handsome and very available, Jeff Cooper. Sam's not looking for romance, but can't deny the attraction to the retired firefighter, turned handyman. While working together and eating her pies, Jeff finds himself falling for her.

The past she wrestles to let go of comes hurtling back when she least expects it. In an effort to help a struggling young man, she is forced to confront the anguish she is desperate to escape. While torn between love and friendship, she must face her fears and choose between the life she's known and a chance for a family and home she's been longing for all her life.

Home Blooms (Book 2)
Return to the picturesque island community where you’ll check in with your old friends and
meet a few new ones along the way.

Linda is knee deep in bouquets and boutonnieres, designing a beautiful ceremony for Sam and Jeff. The bride’s matchmaking plot takes shape as she volunteers her best friend, Max, to help Linda create the perfect wedding. 

Linda and Max are thrown together when a tragedy threatens to destroy the honeymooners’ newfound happiness before they have the possibility of a life together. Compelled to make some changes in life, Linda uncovers a family secret that causes her to question her existence and leads her on a search for the truth. 

As Max begins to penetrate the protective walls around Linda’s heart, a visit from her youth causes her to risk it all. While struggling between the past and the future, Linda has a chance to let more than her flowers bloom.

A Promise of Home (Book 3) 
Spend Christmas in Friday Harbor this year surrounded by the friends you know and a couple of special deliveries from the Hometown Harbor Series.

In between holiday activities, friends of Linda and Max are helping plan their Valentine’s Day wedding. Regi is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her fortieth birthday and the fulfillment of the promise she and Cam made over twenty years ago.

As she anticipates the reunion with Cam, she’s oblivious to the signals the local delivery man, Nate, is giving her. She and Nate work together helping a newcomer open an art and antiques shop. While spending time together, she discovers she has feelings for Nate and bonds with the new shopkeeper over their past losses. 

As Regi’s contemplating her choices, she’s dealt a blow that brings her to her knees and reconnects her with the past. In the pursuit of her youthful fairytale promise, she’ll risk the only chance she’s encountered for true happiness and a home.

Killer Music (Book 1), A Cooper Harrington Detective Novel:
When private detective Cooper “Coop” Harrington meets record label mogul Grayson Taylor at a swank gathering of country music artists and politicians he never imagines he’ll be investigating his brutal murder less than twenty-four hours later.

The suspects are plentiful. More than a handful of people could have wanted him dead. Retained by Taylor’s widow, Coop works alongside his best friend and Chief of Detectives, Ben Mason. The investigation leads Coop and Ben to visit the luxurious mansions of recording industry magnates, navigate the murky undercurrents of the political world, and probe complicated family matters. Scandalous indiscretions, secrets, and hints of corruption swirl in the midst of their pursuit of the killer.

Coop’s faithful friend and assistant, Annabelle and his loyal golden retriever, Gus, both lend a hand during the investigation. Even his Aunt Camille mines the local gossip mill to unearth potential killers with motive. Yet the case seems hopeless until a crucial piece of evidence emerges that sends Coop and Ben on a race to catch the killer before someone else dies.


Author of The Hometown Harbor Series of women’s fiction set in the picturesque San Jan Islands in Washington and a new mystery series set in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring Cooper Harrington, Private Detective.

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. After spending a career in local and state government service, she retired and finally has the time to dedicate to writing. 

When Tammy isn't working on ideas for a novel, she's spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.

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