Saturday, September 18, 2021




Grace Penner's safe haven crumbles when a body is found outside of town. Gifted the memory bell, a family heirloom, from her grandfather's will, Grace's excitement is soon squashed when the bell gets broken right after she receives it. While gluing the pieces back in place, she discovers three are still missing.

Determined to find them, she is halted when the new detective, Bennet James, investigates her family. Grace is intent on showing the detective her family isn't capable of murder, but as the investigation deepens, and pieces of the bell show up with ominous notes, Grace soon realizes the Penners are not what they seem. Amidst the tightly knit family; dark secrets, deception, and possibly even murder unfold. Will Grace be able to save the family she loves more than anything without losing herself forever?

Book Details:

Title: The Memory Bell

Author: Kat Flannery    

Genre: mystery, women’s fiction

Publisher: Black Rose Writing (July 1 2021)

Print length: 288 pages


A few of your favorite things: books, candles, whiskey, iPad.
Things you need to throw out: my clothes from 20 years before. LOL 

Things you need in order to write: candle, quiet, whiskey, coffee.
Things that hamper your writing: noise, laundry, overwhelming schedule.

Things you love about writing: escaping to another world.
Things you hate about writing: deadlines. They are the worst.

Easiest thing about being a writer: there is nothing easy about being a writer.
Hardest thing about being a writer: writing something new that your readers will love as much as the last book.

Things you love about where you live: the people.
Things that make you want to move: the cold weather.

Things you never want to run out of: coffee.
Things you wish you’d never bought: chocolate, because I LOVE it.

Words that describe you: introvert, kind, friendly.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: quiet, reserved, unfriendly.

Favorite foods: spaghetti (I am Italian—it’s a staple).
Things that make you want to throw up: anything with cilantro in it.

Favorite music: I love almost all kinds of music and listen to it all of the time.
Music that make your ears bleed: Screech . . . who can even understand that?

Favorite beverage: coffee and then whiskey.

Something that gives you a pickle face: tequila.

Favorite smell: pine.

Something that makes you hold your nose: my son when he douses himself in cologne. LOL

Last best thing you ate: chocolate cupcake.

Last thing you regret eating: chocolate cupcake.

Things you’d walk a mile for: my kids, My husband … the chocolate cupcake.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: politics.

Things you always put in your books: family and friends’ names.

Things you never put in your books: the Lord’s name in vain.

Best thing you’ve ever done: have my children.

Biggest mistake: again, the chocolate cupcake.


“Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Very often, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.”   ~ Iyanla Vanzant


Detective Bennet James stood over the remains of a hand dug grave. The morning air was brisk for July, and a foggy cloud permeated the air as he exhaled. He’d woken as the first rays of dawn crept through his hotel window casting sundogs along the planked floor.

Bones were found by the grain elevators at the mill in Oakville. The sleepy town was an hour’s drive from Chicago and where he’d been stationed for the last two weeks. It was hell, but anything was better than sitting at home waiting to hear his fate. He flexed his shoulders. The muscles ached from the mounting pressure.

He took a sip of the coffee he’d bought at the local gas station. The bitter blend was cold and old. Probably made the night before and just waiting for some poor soul to drain the last of the dregs from the decanter.

With no details other than the presence of human remains to work with, Ben made quick work of taping off the area and closing all access in and out of the mill. The trains were halted and all productivity near the tracks was at a standstill. He surveyed the grounds. Three metal silos stood in a row to his left with tracks laid in front of them. Directly behind were wooden buildings with peaked roofs, and a single track led to a dead end.

He gathered the mill was over fifty years old by the way the boards heaved and sagged. Out of commission for some time, he wondered why no one had torn the dilapidated buildings down. Being that the place was pretty much deserted it’d make things difficult in the investigation. He snorted. It wasn’t his investigation, and if things didn’t work out for him with the state, he’d never see another one again.

He rubbed his hand across his face. His heart quickened with the familiar feeling of piecing together a puzzle. It was the same feeling he got every time he was dealt a new case. Except this one was different. It wasn’t his, and even though the thought of having something to occupy his mind was appealing, he doubted Sheriff Rhoads would let him take the lead on it, much less be a part of it.

Ben glanced down at the body. Nothing left but bones and a few fragments of hair which signified the death happened years before. The grave was not shallow, but not deep either. Ben guessed it was four feet into the ground. A blue blanket caught his eye. He fingered the soft cotton with a gloved hand, a crocheted throw that was now pulled from the knots someone delicately placed there. Whoever had wrapped the victim in it did so with pristine care.

“Where is the witness?” he asked the young deputy standing to his left. He couldn’t remember the boy’s name, or was it he didn’t care? It didn’t really matter. He’d stopped caring about those around him a long time ago.

The deputy looked a bit flushed, and Ben figured the kid living in the small town had never seen anything like this before. Regret settled in his stomach at making the boy stay with him while he looked over the body and its surroundings. Ben remembered seeing his first body, a young girl, no more than six. Her image still haunted him on nights when sleep wouldn’t come.

He blinked, collected his thoughts, and faced the young man.

“You’re no longer needed here,” he said. 

“The men who found the body are over there,” the kid stammered. His hand shook as he pointed to the two silhouettes standing twenty yards away.

“Thanks.” Ben dismissed him and walked toward the two men sipping coffee from their mugs. A part of him wanted to turn back to his car and leave now that Rhoads was here, but his pride and his duty wouldn’t allow it. He pulled out the small note pad and pen he kept in his pocket.

“Morning. I need to ask you a few questions.”

“Ain’t you the new fella?” one of the men asked.


“You’re that swanky detective from the city.”

Ben didn’t answer.

“Why in hell would you want to come out here?”

He remained silent. It was none of the old man’s business why he’d been placed in this shithole town.

“Talk is you got into hot water up there.”

“I need to ask you some questions,” Ben repeated, an edge creeping into his voice. He wasn’t about to discuss his shit with these guys. He shifted from one foot to the other, took a deep calming breath, cleared his throat, and waited.

“Not much to tell,” the man said. His thick white moustache spanned the whole of his upper lip and the bottoms of his cheeks.

“Your name?” he asked.

“Walter Smythe.” The man leaned in to read what Ben wrote and tapped his index finger onto the paper. “That’s Smythe with a Y not an I.”

Ben nodded.

“Can you tell me how you came upon the body?”

“Ol’ Russ was the one who found it.”

He turned to the other man.

“I ain’t Russ,” the farmer said.

“Who is—”

“That’s my dog.” Walter whistled. A large St. Bernard came loping up from the field behind the buildings.

“The dog found the body?”

“That’s right.”

“What were you doing out here?”

“I come out from time to time.”

“Why if the place is closed down?”

The man shrugged.

“Have you brought Russ out here before?” Ben asked, still trying to piece together how the remains were found.

“Sure. I bring him everywhere.”

“Why was he in the elevators?”

Walter’s wide shoulders lifted underneath the plaid jacket.

“Did the dog take anything from the grave, or disturb it in anyway?”

“Once I seen him diggin’, I called him over.” Walter guffawed. “But the damn mutt just kept on going back. So, I went over to see what the hell he was after.”

“At what point did you figure out it was a body?”

“Right away when I saw the bones.”

“Russ dug up most of the grave?”

“Nah, maybe a foot of it.” Walter nudged the farmer beside him. “I called Bill and we determined it was best to call the sheriff.”

“Why didn’t you call the sheriff first?”

Walter didn’t answer.

“Did you remove or touch anything?” Ben asked.


As much as the farmer was rough around the edges, he could tell Walter Smythe spoke the truth.

“One more question. Has anyone gone missing in the last ten years?”

“Not around these parts. Most people who go missing leave for the city.”

“Why is that?”

“Small towns ain’t for everybody.” Walter’s eyes narrowed. “Stuff like this don’t happen around here.”

Ben nodded before he walked away and headed back to his car. He opened the door but didn’t get in. Tall silos, train cars and tracks were surrounded by a field. Waist-high stalks of yellow waved in the breeze and from what he knew of farming, it looked to be canola. Why wasn’t the body buried in the field? There must be over a hundred acres of land. Until he received the coroner’s report, he couldn’t begin to guess at anything yet. Before he left, he’d need to talk to Sheriff Rhoads and see about any missing persons reports in the area.

“Well, that is odd.” Rhoads sauntered toward him, brows furrowed.

“What is?” Ben asked.

“A body, here, at the elevators, in Oakville.” His forehead wrinkled, and a perplexed look crossed his face. “Nobody has been here in years.”

“These things can happen anywhere. There are no rules for death.”

Rhoads focused on him, but remained quiet for some time before he said, “Not here.”

“I’d like to take the lead on this,” Ben said. The words surprised him, but he couldn’t take them back now. Besides, he needed something to keep him busy. The minor misdemeanors at the old folk’s home, break-ins, and an occasional kid in trouble wasn’t enough to keep him from going crazy with boredom.

“Not sure that’s wise, with your probation and all.”

Ben nodded, figuring that would be the answer.

“But I don’t see it as more than an unfortunate accident, so go ahead.”

Ben wasn’t so sure.


Excerpt from The Memory Bell by Kat Flannery.  Copyright 2021 by Kat Flannery. Reproduced with permission from Kat Flannery. All rights reserved.



Kat Flannery is a bestselling author, she has been published in numerous periodicals throughout her career, and continues to write for blogs and online magazines. Her books have been on Canadian, USA and International bestseller lists.

An bestselling author, Kat’s books are available all over the world. The BRANDED TRILOGY is Kat’s award-winning series. With eight books published, Kat continues to write and market her books.


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

Buy the book:
Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble

Thursday, September 16, 2021




Three generations of dads, playing traditional roles in each other's lives, arrive simultaneously at significant crossroads. The decisions they make and the actions they take will directly – and eternally – affect each other.

After a life of hard work and raising children, Robert is enjoying his well-deserved retirement when he discovers that he has an illness he might not be able to beat. At 19, Jonah is sprinting across the threshold of adulthood when he learns, stunningly, that he's going to become a father. And Oliver – Robert's son and Jonah's dad – has entered middle age and is paying its demanding price. While reconciling the time and effort it has taken him to reach an unfulfilling career and an even less satisfying marriage, he realizes that it's imperative that he keep it all together for the two men who mean everything to him.

When different perspectives lead to misunderstandings that remain unspoken – sometimes for years – it takes great strength and even more love to travel beyond the resentment.

Dad: A Novel chronicles the sacred legacy of fatherhood.

Book Details:
Title: Dad: A Novel
Author: Steven Manchester
Genre: literary fiction
Publisher:The Story Plant (September 14, 2021)
Print length: 336 pages 



Steven Manchester’s new heartfelt book, DAD: A Novel has just been released.

It's become a bit of a signature for Steven to include a poem at the very end of his novels.

The Greatest Teachers

by Steven Manchester

My children have taught me…

that trust is sealed before the first step

and real understanding does not require words;

that a baby’s breath and angels’ wings make the same sound,

and bonds forged on sleepless nights are eternal.

My children have taught me…

that the greatest wonders are found within the smallest moments;

and the grip of a tiny hand slips away much too fast;

that the word “proud” can inspire unimaginable feats,
while the word “disappointed” can scar the soul.

My children have taught me…

that doing something means so much less than being there,

as one day at the park is more valuable than ten visits to the toy store;

that laughter is contagious and can destroy all worries,

and Santa Claus is alive and well—all that’s needed is faith.

My children have taught me…

that the most powerful prayers are made up of the simplest words,

humbled, grateful and spoken from the heart;

and that for most ailments, the best medicine is a kiss
or a hug for someone who wouldn’t dream of asking.

My children have taught me…

that friends can be made with no more than a smile

and real blessings are found amongst family and friends;

that the future promises magic and wonder,

and that dreams must be chased until each one comes true.


Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island; the national bestsellers, Ashes, The Changing Season and Three Shoeboxes; the multi-award winning novel, Goodnight Brian; and the beloved holiday podcast drama, The Thursday Night Club. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He is a multi-produced playwright, as well as the winner of the 2017 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2018 New York Book Festival. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Connect with Steven:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Tuesday, September 14, 2021



How can one innocent question shatter everything?

Hello. I’m Evie Prince. A proud forty something bi-racial highly successful woman. I’ve always known where I was going and what I was doing. Until I found myself in a place that I never thought I would be – single, living through a pandemic, and unemployed.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the unthinkable happened. Someone asked – What do I really want to do with my life? What kind of a foolish question is that? I was soon to learn it was the kind of question that would turn my world upside down. Trying to answer that question led me from Colorado to Martha’s Vineyard and uncovered things about my family that would either make or break me. 

Follow my journey to self-discovery and meet the people in my life that helped me remember that everything I needed was contained within. 

Book Details 

Title: Listen Within, A novel of discovery and finding true self

Author: Victoria Wright

Genre: literary fiction

Series: The Evie Prince Series

Published: September 30, 2021

Print length: 200 pages


Things you need in order to write: for me to write at my best, I absolutely need a quiet space, an open heart, and snacks.

Things that hamper your writing: I find it hard to write when I am feeling stressed, doubt my abilities as a writer or when I am hungry.

Things you love about writing: writing to me is the ultimate creative space. It allows me to build worlds, share wisdom, and gives me a space to release my emotions.  

Things you hate about writing: just like when I read a good book that I don’t want to end, I dislike writing the ending. How to do it. Will it leave the reader satisfied? Also, I get discouraged when I can’t find the perfect word(s) to create the right emotion.

Easiest thing about being a writer: you can do it anywhere at any time.

Hardest thing about being a writer: being okay that not everyone will like what you have written as much as you do.

Things you never want to run out of: toilet paper, cheese, and chocolate.

Things you wish you’d never bought: three-inch heels.

Words that describe you: positive, level headed, big heart, creative, persistent.

Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: stubborn.

Favorite foods: sushi, lobster, Thai food, fresh baked goods, freshly squeezed juice.

Things that make you want to throw up: fast food, liver, and head cheese.

Favorite beverage: Arnold Palmer (non-alcoholic) Mojito (alcoholic).

Something that gives you a pickle face: eggnog.

Favorite smell: fresh mint.

Something that makes you hold your nose: cigarette smoke.

Something you’re really good at: baking.

Something you’re really bad at: rock climbing.

Last best thing you ate: lobster.

Last thing you regret eating: fast food hamburger.

Things you always put in your books: I always try to put an element of my own personality in each character.

Things you never put in your books: hate.

Things to say to an author: “I love your work.”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “Why don’t you just . . .”

Favorite places you’ve been: Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard, New Zealand, Japan.

Places you never want to go to again: states that do not welcome diversity.

Things that make you happy: family.

Things that drive you crazy: family.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: leaving my well-paying job to find my true self. 

Something you chickened out from doing: bungee jumping.


Inspirational writer Victoria Wright has embarked on a journey to find her true self. In the process, she is remembering how to be whole, to look inward for guidance, and to know her truth. Her journey is full of beauty and discovery. She invites you to join her on your own journey of remembering.

Connect with Victoria:
Website  |  Blog  |  

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  
Barnes & Noble

Friday, September 10, 2021




In the 1970s, in western Pennsylvania, a multi-millionaire’s singularly selfish decision destines his two sons, half-brothers, to wage war in a winner-take-all battle for the family legacy.

The father, wealthy Henry Molnar, shares a secret with his lawyer and best friend, Murray Applebaum; a secret so damaging and powerful that neither has ever dared to reveal its truth. But the final whispered directives of Molnar set in motion a series of events with far-reaching consequences for his family.

With his last breath, Molnar instructs Applebaum to disclose the existence of his illegitimate son, Phillipe-André Desforges. The surprise revelation at Molnar’s funeral thrusts the family members onto paths of deception, corruption and blackmail.

Revenge infused hatred and contempt for his father and his empire permeate Phillipe-André’s daily thoughts. It compels him to employ an arsenal of devious strategies to wrest control of Molnar Enterprises from his benevolent brother, Jason Molnar.

With such high stakes, Jason as the bequeathed chairman of the board must garner the psychological strength to withstand his half-brother’s siege. The consequences of failure will deliver to Phillipe-André what he has long believed to be rightfully his.

Book Details

Title: The Bastard’s Inheritance 

Author: Dennis Roth

Genre: literary fiction

Series: The Bastard’s Trilogy, book 2

Publisher: Five Square Press (September 1, 2021)

Print length: 293 pages


Things you need in order to write: a peaceful quiet space.

Things that hamper your writing: distractions, conversations, iPhone, texts.

Things you love about writing: getting to know and being surprised by my characters.

Things you hate about writing: stiff joints from sitting at the computer too long.

Easiest thing about being a writer: writing when my muse is with me, like very early mornings.

Hardest thing about being a writer: getting started without my muse.

Things you love about where you live: for being a small city, Pittsburgh has the amenities of a very large one.

Things that make you want to move: the dreariness from November through March.

Words that describe you: teacher, perfectionist, controlling.

Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: egotistical, snob.

Favorite foods: comfort foods from recipes of my long deceased grandmother.

Things that make you want to throw up: liver.

Favorite music: classical guitar music.

Music that make your ears bleed: hip hop/rap.

Favorite beverage: Viader Wine.

Something that gives you a pickle face: anything with vinegar in it.

Favorite smell: freshly baked home-made bread.

Something that makes you hold your nose: port-a-potties.

Something you’re really good at: knowing when to say “that’s enough.”

Something you’re really bad at: golfing.

Things you’d walk a mile for: ice cream.

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: broiled liver.

Things you always put in your books: my heart and soul.

Things you never put in your books: a first person narrative.

Favorite places you’ve been: Siena, Italy.

Places you never want to go to again: Tyrone, Pennsylvania.

Things that make you happy: intelligent conversation.

Things that drive you crazy: incessant talkers.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: sailing with only my wife and me to the Caribbean.
Something you chickened out from doing: going on Space Mountain at Disney World.


Dennis Roth is always stretching his boundaries and does the same for his readers and fictional characters. This has led to a remarkable life. When he has become an expert in a field, he moves directly off to another. After earning an engineering degree from MIT, he founded what has become one of the largest structural engineering firms on the east coast of the US. He retired young and lived with his wife on-board their 35-foot sailboat, Second Wind, in the Caribbean. After enjoying a thousand magnificent sunsets and then burying the anchor, he moved to watercolor painting. His innate skills blossomed into beautiful, nationally shown and awarded landscapes and seascapes that he exhibited and sold in his art gallery, Studio Phase 3. Since 2012 he has dedicated his creative energies to writing poems and stories which in addition to being published in journals and magazines, have been collected in his two chapbooks, Reflections & Other Musings and Harry & Other Stories. And now he has created The Bastard’s Trilogy anchored by the new novel The Bastard’s Inheritance.

Dennis Roth is a teacher at heart. Since high school, he has shared his knowledge, serving as a tutor of students in math and science, as an instructor and lecturer to architectural and engineering students at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, and as a teacher of his unique watercolor techniques to budding watercolorists.

On the side, Dennis Roth has learned Spanish and Italian to help him understand more fully the cultures of Mexico and Italy during his months-long visits to those countries.

These broad and extensive experiences provide Dennis Roth the material to weave his imaginative and thought-provoking writing, writing that is about life and living, its joys and sorrows, its thrills and disappointments. Whether in his poems inspired by his struggle with depression or in his stories of love and loss, we find he writes about reality with depth and conviction that can only be achieved by someone of his vast experience. He inspires us as he has his hundreds of students to use our minds to improve our souls.

Connect with Dennis:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads

Buy the book:


Sunday, September 5, 2021



Love behind the wickets.

English vice-Captain Claude de Lussan is the poster boy for English cricket. He’s smart, handsome, rich and a damn fine cricketer. And Delilah Taylor loves him to bits. Her whole existence revolves around him so much so, she polishes his autographed ball from his first century every weekend as it sits in her cabinet. Except, Claude de Lussan doesn’t love her back.

Following a heady summer, she finds herself suddenly married and divorced from the cricketer only to find him return to her world years later. Can they resolve old hurts and bury the past to rebuild a future together? Can they overcome family resentment, old flames and misunderstandings to accept that they what they had was and still is special?

Book Details

Title: Stumped

Author: Pamela Q. Fernandes

Genre: contemporary sports romance

Series: To Love A Sportsman Series

Publisher: Touchpoint Press (July 9, 2021)

Print length: 137 pages


A few of your favorite things: the Casio keyboard my dad gave me, my red Bible.

Things you need to throw out: plastic stud earrings, have them for over ten years and wear nothing else.

Things you need in order to write: quiet, a nice view maybe.

Things that hamper your writing: noise, people.

Things you love about writing: I love creating something new, discovering new places and things to write about.

Things you hate about writing: killing off characters, it hurts even if they’re made up people.

Easiest thing about being a writer: the freedom that comes with the craft, you can’t do with other jobs
Hardest thing about being a writer: the responsibility to produce good work with every single manuscript.

Things you love about where you live: the low cost of living and the food.

Things that make you want to move: the humidity.

Things you never want to run out of: ketchup and instant noodles.

Things you wish you’d never bought: a winter mini skirt, but it’s too cold to wear it in the winter. . . (why did I ever buy it?)

Words that describe you: honest, committed, funny, straightforward.

Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: silly, impatient, introvert.

Favorite foods: fried fish.

Things that make you want to throw up: gelatinous food, hate puddings and gooey textured food.

Favorite music: my new favorite worship band is CityAlight, I have their song “Yet Not I” on repeat, and I can’t stop hearing it. I also recently listened to Baek Yerin’s “Blooming Memories,” so pretty. While I wrote Stumped, I remember playing a lot of “My love” by Lee Hi, especially the sadder parts of the book. 

Music that make your ears bleed: hard rock! and rap!?!

Favorite beverage: sweet lime soda.

Something that gives you a pickle face: liquor. It all tastes soooo bitter.

Favorite smell: one of my favorite natural scents is of the beach, I love being at the beach. Growing up, my parents always took us to the beach to play. 

Something that makes you hold your nose: pigeon poop, it stinks.

Something you’re really good at: I’m good at table tennis (and no please don’t call it ping-pong) and crosswords.

Something you’re really bad at: I suck at playing the piano, even though I’ve been learning it since I was a child.

Something you wish you could do: I wish I could bake bread, I can’t seem to master it.

Something you wish you’d never learned to do: I wish I had never learned piano and taken up guitar instead.

Something you like to do: I like walking a lot. During the pandemic, a friend of mine and I covered 11 miles a day walking all the way from Park Slope to the Pier Park every day and she kept pushing me to walk another block or another mile. 

Something you wish you’d never done: no regrets . . .

Last best thing you ate: my BFF made me a homemade falooda with her sister’s honey ice cream just last week. It was so good and full of nuts. I usually don’t like it but somehow had an entire glass of it. It was delish.

Last thing you regret eating: Chinese fried rice, upsets my tummy every single time.

Things you’d walk a mile for: Gelato.

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: mice.

Things you always put in your books: sarcasm.
Things you never put in your books: curse words.

Things to say to an author: What are you writing next?

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: You should write about X or I’ve got an idea for you or how many books do you sell . . .

Favorite places you’ve been:

Places you never want to go to again: Oman.

Favorite things to do: jive dance, walk at the beach, bake.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: a party with lots of talking and no dancing!

Things that make you happy: good food, beaches, worship.

Things that drive you crazy: dirt.

Proudest moment: becoming a published author.

Most embarrassing moment: forgetting my entire debate speech during a debate in school. My dad was watching, and I was so embarrassed.

Best thing you’ve ever done: said yes to becoming an assistant director on a drama production.

Biggest mistake: signing up to Facebook. After the report on Clearview, I scrubbed all my pics from there.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: traveled to the US. 

Something you chickened out from doing: doing the Camino Pilgrimage this year. I was training, walking, and preparing but the thought of doing it alone scared me. It’s hard to find someone willing to do such an intense walk.

The last thing you did for the first time: narrated my own audiobooks! Super stoked about this . . .

Something you’ll never do again: taste tequila . . . not my cup of tea.


Pamela Q. Fernandes is a doctor, author, and medical writer. She hosts The Christian Circle Podcast and plays the piano. When she's not writing or practicing medicine, she's baking or traveling the world.

She started as an author with Seoul-Mates and since then has written many romances, Under A Scottish Sky, Cinders Of Castlerea & other short stories.

Her Christian non fiction series, Ten Reminders, is based on her own conversations and life with fellow Christians.

Pamela writes romance, speculative fiction, women's fiction and Christian non-fiction.

Connect with Pamela:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads
Book trailer 

Buy the book:

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021



When Al Martin, the editor of a satiric newspaper in Chautauqua, N.Y., reportedly dies of COVID-19, the local consensus is: good riddance.
A sister suspects foul play. She wonders why Al was cremated in a hurry.
The police stay out of it.
So it takes reporter and relentless snoop Mimi Goldman to try to find which of Al's haters— including an estranged wife, three bitter siblings, a secretive caregiver, old enemies and the many targets of Al's poison-pen sarcasm—might be a ruthless killer.

The novel, No. 8 in a series called “an Agatha Christie for the text-message age,” once again offers page-turning suspense. Wit. And the unforgettable setting of Chautauqua, a quirky, churchy, lakeside, Victorian cottage-filled summer arts community that launched an adult-education movement Teddy Roosevelt called “the most American thing in America.”

Book Details:

Title: A Plague Among Us
Author: Deb Pines

Genre: mystery

Series: A Chautauqua Murder Mystery
, book 8

Published: June 22, 2021

Print length: 288 pages


A few of your favorite things: my coffee, Broadway mugs and computer.
Things you need to throw out: my notes and other papers cluttering my New York City apartment that really don’t spark joy in my husband.

Things you need in order to write: #1 nonnegotiable: coffee. Uninterrupted time. A background hum of activity that resembles the newsroom buzz I’m used to as a New York Post copy editor and former reporter.
Things that hamper your writing: interruptions and loud music.

Things you love about writing: the rare moments when I set out to convey something—an image, a conversation, an emotion—and actually nail it.
Things you hate about writing: how it never gets easier and remains a marathon.

Proudest moment: When my first Chautauqua mystery sold a few copies in the Chautauqua Bookstore and when my New York Post headline THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN FREAKING (for a JetBlue pilot’s midflight mental breakdown) was a clue on Jeopardy!

Most embarrassing moment: when I was a young reporter, I had never heard of the song, “The Girl from Ipanema.” Trying to add color to an election-party story, I listed some of the jazz music playing in the background, including (yes, I really wrote this) “The Girl with Emphysema.” When my colleagues noticed the blunder a few days later, they teased me mercilessly.

Favorite foods: I could eat pasta with red sauce or pesto every night. I also love my cappuccinos and gin and tonics.
Things that make you want to throw up: raw fish like ceviche and gamey birds like squab and quail.

Favorite music: show tunes (Especially “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from Showboat) and classic rock, especially anything by Bruce Springsteen.
Music that make your ears bleed: electronic dance music.

Things you always put in your books: humor.

Things you never put in your books: graphic sex.

Favorite books: I love mysteries and classic literature. My favorite mystery writers include Michael Connelly, Agatha Christie, Laura Lippman, Tony Hillerman, and Sue Grafton. My favorite literary writer is Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge.

Books you would ban: my least favorite are mysteries with a very slow plot that seem more interested in poetic writing than action.

Things that make you happy: my morning coffee seven days a week (over the phone or in person) with my best friend, laughing with my grandson, writing a funny New York Post headline.

Things that drive you crazy: family conflict. I prefer drama in literature, not in real life.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: I have trekked with my hiking-mad Eagle Scout husband Dave to Everest Base Camp in Nepal (nearly 18,000 feet).

Something you chickened out from doing: I have never skinny-dipped.


Chapter Twenty-Nine

Mimi and Sylvia were on the road again, heading to the Tissue Donor Center in Jamestown to chase Winston Suarez.

The center wasn’t far from the Loves’ funeral home. But this time Google Maps was directing them to take the highway, not back roads.

They started out the same way, heading west on 394, passing the same early landmarks: the Institution’s empty parking lots, busy golf course and We Wan Chu Cottages.

“So what’s new?” Sylvia asked.

“Too much,” Mimi said. “It’s crazy how I keep learning stuff without seeing how any of it means anything.”

“Because the medical examiner still hasn’t called?”


Sylvia sighed heavily. “Maybe he’s just as difficult as his dad.”

Tom Love Sr., in Mimi’s opinion, wasn’t difficult. All he had done was stand up for his son before Sylvia picked a fight with him. But Mimi let it go.

“Well, one thing I’ll grant the older one,” Sylvia said.


“He’s above average in the looks department.”

Mimi chuckled.


“I thought you’re done with all of that nonsense.”

“I am.”

Sylvia moved to the left lane to take the ramp onto Route 17/Interstate-86 East and floored it.

“Whoa, hey,” Mimi said. “Mario Andretti, slow down.”

Okay, okay,” Sylvia said. “Just had to get us on the highway.”

Sylvia slowed down to fit into the slow lane, sticking behind a FedEx truck going a steady 70 miles an hour.

Mimi filled Sylvia in on what she had heard from Shannon about Liam and Patrick. Their denials of knowing anything about the pranks. Their claims the decisions to have no autopsy and a quick cremation were just expedient—so Patrick could get home.

“So what time does Winston Suarez get off work?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s 5.”

Mimi had reached Winston once, described why she was calling. He got quiet, then hung up. After that, she called Winston and never reached him—leaving something like five or six messages.

They stayed on the highway about ten miles before taking the Jamestown airport exit, then winding around a maze of city streets until signs with a big “H” led them to the UPMC Hospital campus.

“Hopefully,” Sylvia said, “we’re more irresistible in person.”

The Tissue Donor Center was one of many outbuildings with medical-sounding names surrounding the redbrick main hospital.

Some were done in their own architectural style. Most, like the Tissue Donor Center, imitated the low-slung, redbrick design of the hospital, down to having a white number (for their address) and a primary-colored letter on their sides.

The letters were explained on campus signs. Building A was the main hospital. Building B, the signs said, was Outpatient Svcs. C was the Sherman Medical Bldg. D was Imaging & Medical Bldg. E was Physical Therapy, Pharmacies. F was the Tissue Donor Cntr.

Sylvia zipped past the early letters of the alphabet, slowing at F, the Tissue Donor Cntr. The main door had its name above it, an intercom to the right. Near the curb, another sign said, “No Standing any time. Ambulance Lane.”

They didn’t see any ambulances, but Sylvia decided to wait for Mimi anyway in a parking lot across the street.

“Break a leg,” Sylvia yelled as Mimi got out.

Mimi laughed.

If she did break a leg, no question, this was the place to do it. Her limb could be X-rayed at the Imaging Bldg.(D) and then set at Outpatient Svcs. (B).

At the door of the Tissue Donor Center, Mimi knocked.

“Who is it?”

The woman’s voice, through the intercom, was familiar.

“My name is Mimi Goldman,” Mimi said. “And—"

“Let me guess? You’re looking for Winston?”

Mimi laughed. “I guess I’m pretty predictable. Is he here?”

“He is. This is Hannah, by the way. We keep speaking on the phone. Why don’t I see if he’ll come out?”

Mimi had high hopes. How hard would it be for Winston to take a few steps to walk outside and see her?

On the other hand, blowing her off might be easier.

When she heard a ping, Mimi examined her phone. Sylvia, after coaching from her grandkids, texted like a teenager.


I asked for WS and someone said they’d get him. Just waiting.

Standing there, Mimi went through her email. Then she switched to her latest word game addiction: Spelling Bee in The New York Times.

Players have to make the most words, four letters or longer, from seven given letters, including one letter that had to be used in every word. The words that day had to be made from BLWCHAE, with all using an E.

Mimi started with the obvious ones: BLEACH, BLECH, BEACH, EACH, LEACH, LECH. She was moving on to trickier words when the center’s door swung open.

Out stepped a tall, handsome, dark-featured young man in a white surgical mask and blue scrubs with the name SUAREZ above his shirt pocket.

“I don’t know who you are,” he said. “I don’t know why you keep asking me about this case, but . . . I’m pleading with you to drop it and just go.”

Mimi had expected an asshole, too lazy or too self-important to talk. Not a frightened young man.

“Can you say why?” she asked. “I have no idea why this case is at all sensitive.”

Winston shook his head.

“How about off the record? You have my word that I’d never tell anyone you ever spoke to me.”

“Sorry,” he said. “I can’t risk losing my job.”


Excerpt from A Plague Among Us by Deb Pines.  Copyright 2021 by Deb Pines. Reproduced with permission from Deb Pines. All rights reserved.



Deb Pines, an award-winning New York Post headline writer and former reporter, is the author of eight murder mysteries that are top sellers in the Chautauqua Institution in western New York where they are set. Her series includes four IndieReader-approved titles. She lives in New York City with her husband Dave.

Connect with Deb:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Chautauquau Bookstore 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021




On a winter day in 1898, spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, and suffocating her with a pillow. The crowd will not know for a year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world executed in the electric chair. None of her lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency. Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? We have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place. Speaking from the grave she tells her own story. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Book Details:

Title: The Murderess Must Die

Author: Marlie Parker Wasserman

Genre: historical crime fiction

Publisher: Level Best Books, Historia Imprint (July 6, 2021)

Print length: 248 pages



A few of your favorite things: the desk where I write each day. The desk belonged to my father, so I can still envision him sitting there, paying bills, sorting through papers. My family has lugged that desk from one home to another, five or six times. Now I carefully arrange my laptop on the surface, my research material, my pens, my coffee.  I’m not sure I could write anywhere else.
Things you need to throw out: all the items in my pantry and refrigerator that have turned green as I’ve been writing at my wonderful desk.

Things you need in order to write: in addition to the desk I just mentioned, I need time to think, to let the characters talk to me, to weigh the logic of different plot ideas. The characters talk the most at night, and when I shower. If I try to quiet them so I can focus on what to make for breakfast or whether the weather will allow for a hike, then I’m in trouble.
Things that hamper your writing: one of my biggest problems with writing will sound familiar to others—breaks in the process. If I write every day, I can recall where I’ve been with the story and where I am going, but if I take a vacation or a break to do another project, and then I return to my novel, I have lost the momentum. It takes me days just to refresh my memory. I have to recover the strands of the plot and all the hundreds of details I had in my head the week before. I do write down some of the strands, of course, but even more remain in my head.

Things you love about writing: writing is like a giant jigsaw puzzle or boardgame. So many options lie in front of the writer, who must decide what path to follow. I believe writing keeps the pathways in my brain open and active. I think of writing as brain exercise.
Things you hate about writing: when I wake up in the morning, reread what I wrote the day before, and feel like I’ve wasted my time. But I take another sip of coffee and try again.

Easiest thing about being a writer: well, nothing about writing is easy, but I do get pleasure from coming up with an idea that connects one scene to another, or that connects one character’s motivation to her actions.  In historical fiction, I get pleasure in my research when I come across a nugget of information that helps explain events. For example, in writing The Murderess Must Die, after a year of research I came across an article that mentioned that the victim’s girlfriend’s fiancé was on the coroner’s jury. That led me to a subplot that helps to explain motivations for many of my characters. 

Hardest thing about being a writer: plot. Plot. And plot. We all start with an idea, and maybe an ending or twist, but to sustain action and tension for, let’s say, 250 pages, remains a task. And once you do have the general form of a plot, you need to ensure that it is logical, and that you have created continuity.  Too often, as I revise, I realize I’ve confused dates. Sally unwraps her birthday gift but her party is not until the next scene.

Things you love about where you live: I have never been attached to any one place. I’ve lived in Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and now North Carolina. Each place feels special. In North Carolina, I admire the mix of long-time residents with new residents from other regions of the country, I enjoy the smells of the foliage, and I enjoy southern barbeque and biscuits. But I am a firm believer that every area has its charms if you keep an open mind and look hard enough.
Things that make you want to move: I don’t like to focus on moving, but I do like to focus on seeing new places. From North Carolina, we can get to the beaches, to the mountains, and to a few large cities easily. I value travel for all the cliched reasons—new sights, new people, new tastes. But for my friends who cannot travel for one reason or another, I always add that I don’t believe in the idea that to be fully alive you must have traveled to Paris—or London or Jerusalem or the Grand Canyon—before you die. You can transport yourself to other places through novels and films just as easily as by travel.

Words that describe you: I am alternately introverted or extroverted, depending on the circumstances and the day. I would like to think of myself as sensitive to other people’s needs and feelings. On the negative side, I can focus so much that I forget those around me and I am stubborn about foods I don’t like and activities I don’t like. My children would probably call me judgmental, but my friends would not, so make of that what you will.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: frizzy-haired and beady-eyed.

Something you’re really good at: I am moderately gifted at sketching, and I love to draw. Writing has taken time away from my art projects.

Something you’re really bad at: sports and Marlie do not get along. I can’t hit a tennis ball, a golf ball, or a volleyball.  I am bored by baseball and do not understand football or soccer.  On social occasions, when the topic turns to team sports, I zone out.  Right after sports comes the guitar.  Despite four years of lessons, I cannot play Old McDonald.

Things you’d walk a mile for: I would walk a mile for ice cream, with no hesitation. When I travel to a new city or country, the first thing I do is Google “best ice cream in x.”  Here in North Carolina, we have found our go-to ice cream shop in the town of Cary.  I don’t understand why the entire world is not lined up there.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: I am afraid of all bugs, mice, dogs, cats, etc.  If I see even a small ant I want to run, screaming. My discomfort with dogs and cats poses problems for my social life and means I’ll never write a cozy mystery.

Things you always put in your books: I have learned to always add smells into my writing. Often, this means cigar smoke. Sometimes body odor. At first, I was so busy trying to get the plot down that I forgot about the senses. Now I do my best to remember.

Things you never put in your books: I tire of too much foul language. Not that I think it’s sinful—just boring. I do have an occasional swear word, but the less you have the more weight it carries.

Favorite places you’ve been: here’s a shout out for my city of birth—Chicago. I know stories about crime tend to deter tourists, but that’s a shame. Take an architectural boat ride on the Chicago River. Yes, your boat will be filled with tourists, but sometimes crowds are present for a reason. Visitors know a good thing when they see it. A second favorite place, less well-known, is Black Canyon of the Gunnison. This is a relatively new national park in Colorado. Candy for the eyes.

Places you never want to go to again: OK, I know this is controversial, but I think Seattle is overrated. Once you’ve walked the waterfront and eaten at Pike’s Market, what’s left? Sorry, Seattle lovers.

Favorite books:
historical crime fiction. You can see I am biased toward the genre in which I write.  With historical crime fiction you get mystery and an educational setting.  
Books you would ban: no one will agree with me, but I would ban sci fi.  I believe the real world is strange enough without making up new oddities.  I try to overcome this bias from time to time, but it’s a heavy lift for me.

Favorite things to do: writing and drawing. They are alike, each requiring choices, creativity, and working the brain.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: any sports. I am sooo bad at both team sports and individual sports. Can’t even manage croquet.

Things that make you happy: my answer is immediate—my grandson. He lights up my life. I don’t care if that’s a cliché.
Things that drive you crazy: here’s a trivial annoyance that everyone will understand. I go crazy when I want to leave voicemail but must first listen to “I’m out fishin’ and havin’ a good time,” followed by more chit chat. Just let me leave the message.  I go equally crazy when Sue uses email to invite ten people to her party and then all ten push reply all, filling up my inbox.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: as you can guess, I can’t swim.  But the college I attended required students to swim the length of a pool before graduating. If I had realized that when I applied and was accepted, I would have chosen another college.  Anyway, wonder of wonders, I swam the length. It was one of the greatest and most surprising feats of my life.

Something you chickened out from doing: my pre-teen daughter and I planned to go to the mall to get our ears pierced, together. She went first and nearly passed out from the experience. When I helped her to a bench in the mall to recuperate, I realized I could not go second. We simply went home. For months I didn’t live down my cowardice. Eventually I went to the mall alone and did the deed.



Martha Garretson, that’s the name I was born with, but the district attorney called me Martha Place in the murder charge. I was foolish enough to marry Mr. William Place. And before that I was dumb enough to marry another man, Wesley Savacool. So, my name is Martha Garretson Savacool Place. Friends call me Mattie. No, I guess that’s not right. I don’t have many friends, but my family, the ones I have left, they call me Mattie. I’ll tell you more before we go on. The charge was not just murder. That D.A. charged me with murder in the first degree, and he threw in assault, and a third crime, a ridiculous one, attempted suicide. In the end he decided to aim at just murder in the first. That was enough for him.

I had no plans to tell you my story. I wasn’t one of those story tellers. That changed in February 1898, soon after my alleged crimes, when I met Miss Emilie Meury. The guards called her the prison angel. She’s a missionary from the Brooklyn Auxiliary Mission Society. Spends her days at the jail where the police locked me up for five months before Sing Sing. I never thought I’d talk to a missionary lady. I didn’t take kindly to religion. But Miss Meury, she turned into a good friend and a good listener. She never snickered at me. Just nodded or asked a question or two, not like those doctors I talked to later. They asked a hundred questions. No, Miss Meury just let me go wherever I wanted, with my recollections. Because of Miss Meury, now I know how to tell my story. I talked to her for thirteen months, until the day the state of New York set to electrocute me.

We talked about the farm, that damn farm. Don’t fret, I knew enough not to say damn to Emilie Meury. She never saw a farm. She didn’t know much about New Jersey, and nothing about my village, East Millstone. I told her how Pa ruined the farm. Sixty acres, only thirty in crop, one ramshackle house with two rooms down and two rooms up. And a smokehouse, a springhouse, a root cellar, a chicken coop, and a corn crib, all run down, falling down. The barn was the best of the lot, but it leaned over to the west.

They tell me I had three baby brothers who died before I was born, two on the same day. Ma and Pa hardly talked about that, but the neighbors remembered, and they talked. For years that left just my brother Garret, well, that left Garret for a while anyway, and my sister Ellen. Then I was born, then Matilda—family called her Tillie—then Peter, then Eliza, then Garret died in the

war, then Eliza died. By the time I moved to Brooklyn, only my brother Peter and my sister Ellen were alive. Peter is the only one the police talk to these days.

The farmers nearby and some of our kin reckoned that my Ma and Pa, Isaac and Penelope Garretson were their names, they bore the blame for my three little brothers dying in just two years. Isaac and Penelope were so mean, that’s what they deserved. I don’t reckon their meanness caused the little ones to die. I was a middle child with five before me and three after, and I saw meanness all around, every day. I never blamed anything on meanness. Not even what happened to me.

On the farm there was always work to be done, a lot of it by me. Maybe Ma and Pa spread out the work even, but I never thought so. By the time I was nine, that was in 1858, I knew what I had to do. In the spring I hiked up my skirt to plow. In the fall I sharpened the knives for butchering. In the winter I chopped firewood after Pa or Garret, he was the oldest, sawed the heaviest logs. Every morning I milked and hauled water from the well. On Thursdays I churned. On Mondays I scrubbed. Pa, and Ma too, they were busy with work, but they always had time to yell when I messed up. I was two years younger than Ellen, she’s my sister, still alive, I think. I was taller and stronger. Ellen had a bent for sewing and darning, so lots of time she sat in the parlor with handiwork. I didn’t think the parlor looked shabby. Now that I’ve seen fancy houses, I remember the scratched and frayed chairs in the farmhouse and the rough plank floor, no carpets. While Ellen sewed in the parlor, I plowed the fields, sweating behind the horses. I sewed too, but everyone knew Ellen was better. I took care with all my chores. Had to sew a straight seam. Had to plow a straight line. If I messed up, Pa’s wrath came down on me, or sometimes Ma’s. Fists or worse.

When I told that story for the first time to Miss Emilie Meury, she lowered her head, looked at the Bible she always held. And when I told it to others, they looked away too.

On the farm Ma needed me and Ellen to watch over our sisters, Tillie and Eliza, and over our brother Peter. They were born after me. Just another chore, that’s what Ellen thought about watching the young ones. For me, I liked watching them, and not just because I needed a rest from farm work. I loved Peter. He was four years younger. He’s not that sharp but he’s a good-natured, kind. I loved the girls too. Tillie, the level-headed and sweet one, and Eliza, the restless one, maybe wild even. The four of us played house. I was the ma and Peter, he stretched his

back and neck to be pa. I laughed at him, in a kindly way. He and me, we ordered Tillie and Eliza around. We played school and I pranced around as schoolmarm.

But Ma and Pa judged, they judged every move. They left the younger ones alone and paid no heed to Ellen. She looked so sour. We called her sourpuss. Garret and me, we made enough mistakes to keep Ma and Pa busy all year. I remember what I said once to Ma, when she saw the messy kitchen and started in on me.

“Why don’t you whup Ellen? She didn’t wash up either.”

“Don’t need to give a reason.”

“Why don’t you whup Garret. He made the mess.”

“You heard me. Don’t need to give a reason.”

Then she threw a dish. Hit my head. I had a bump, and more to clean.

With Pa the hurt lasted longer. Here’s what I remember. “Over there.” That’s what he said, pointing. He saw the uneven lines my plow made. When I told this story to Miss Meury, I pointed, with a mean finger, to give her the idea.

I spent that night locked in the smelly chicken coop.

When I tell about the coop, I usually tell about the cemetery next, because that’s a different kind of hurt. Every December, from the time I was little to the time I left the farm, us Garretsons took the wagon or the sleigh for our yearly visit to the cemetery, first to visit Stephen, Cornelius, and Abraham. They died long before. They were ghosts to me. I remembered the gloom of the cemetery, and the silence. The whole family stood around those graves, but I never heard a cry. Even Ma stayed quiet. I told the story, just like this, to Miss Meury. But I told it again, later, to those men who came to the prison to check my sanity.

Penelope Wykoff Garretson

I was born a Wyckoff, Penelope Wyckoff, and I felt that in my bones, even when the other farm folks called me Ma Garretson. As a Wyckoff, one of the prettiest of the Wyckoffs I’m not shy to say, I lived better than lots of the villagers in central New Jersey, certainly better than the Garretsons. I had five years of schooling and new dresses for the dances each year. I can’t remember what I saw in Isaac Garretson when we married on February 5, 1841. We slept together that night. I birthed Stephen nine months later. Then comes the sing-song litany. When I was still nursing Stephen, Garret was born. And while I was still nursing Garret, the twins were born. Then the twins died and I had only Stephen and Garret. Then Stephen died and I had no one but Garret until Ellen was born. Then Martha. Some call her Mattie. Then Peter. Then Matilda. Some call her Tillie. Then Eliza. Then Garret died. Then Eliza died. Were there more births than deaths or deaths than births?

During the worst of the birthing and the burying, Isaac got real bad. He always had a temper, I knew that, but it got worse. Maybe because the farm was failing, or almost failing. The banks in New Brunswick—that was the nearby town—wouldn’t lend him money. Those bankers knew him, knew he was a risk. Then the gambling started. Horse racing. It’s a miracle he didn’t lose the farm at the track. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my sisters, about the gambling, and I certainly didn’t tell them that the bed didn’t help any. No time for shagging. Isaac pulled me to him at the end of a day. The bed was always cold because he never cut enough firewood. I rolled away most days, not all. Knew it couldn’t be all. So tired. There were no strapping boys to 

help with the farm, no girls either for a while.

As Garret grew tall and Ellen and Mattie grew some, I sent the children to the schoolhouse. It wasn’t much of a school, just a one-room unpainted cottage shared with the post office, with that awful Mr. Washburn in charge. It was what we had. Isaac thought school was no use and kept Garret and the girls back as much as he could, especially in the spring. He needed them for the farm and the truth was I could use them for housework and milking and such too. Garret didn’t mind skipping school. He was fine with farm work, but Ellen and Mattie fussed and attended more days than Garret did. I worried that Garret struggled to read and write, while the girls managed pretty well. Ellen and Mattie read when there was a need and Mattie was good with her numbers. At age nine she was already helping Isaac with his messy ledgers.

I was no fool—I knew what went on in that school. The few times I went to pull out Garret midday for plowing, that teacher, that Mr. Washburn, looked uneasy when I entered the room. He stood straight as a ramrod, looking at me, grimacing. His fingernails were clean and his collar was starched. I reckon he saw that my fingernails were filthy and my muslin dress was soiled. Washburn didn’t remember that my children, the Garretson children, were Wyckoffs just as much as they were Garretsons. He saw their threadbare clothes and treated them like dirt. Had Garret chop wood and the girls haul water, while those stuck-up Neilson girls, always with those silly smiles on their faces, sat around in their pretty dresses, snickering at the others. First, I didn’t think the snickering bothered anyone except me. Then I saw Ellen and Mattie fussing with their clothes before school, pulling the fabric around their frayed elbows to the inside, and I knew they felt bad.

I wanted to raise my children, at least my daughters, like Wyckoffs. With Isaac thinking he was in charge, that wasn’t going to happen. At least the girls knew the difference, knew there was something better than this miserable farm. But me, Ma Garretson they called me, I was stuck.


Excerpt from The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman.  Copyright 2021 by Marlie Wasserman. Reproduced with permission from Marlie Wasserman. All rights reserved.



Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a long career in academic publishing. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband Mark, a historian. Marlie is at work on two other novels, one set in Panama in 1906 and one centered around the Windsor Hotel fire in Manhattan in 1899.

Connect with Marlie:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 

Buy the book:

Friday, August 20, 2021



Eccentric Fran wants a second chance. Thanks to her intimacy with Jane Austen, and the poet Shelley, she finds one.

Jane Austen is such a presence in Fran's life that she seems to share her cottage and garden, becoming an imaginary friend.

Fran’s conversations with Jane Austen guide and chide her – but Fran is ready for change after years of teaching, reading and gardening. An encounter with a long-standing English friend, and an American writer, leads to new possibilities. Adrift, the three women bond through a love of books and a quest for the idealist poet Shelley at two pivotal moments of his life: in Wales and Venice. His otherworldly longing and yearning for utopian communities lead the women to interrogate their own past as well as motherhood, feminism, the resurgence of childhood memory in old age, the tensions and attractions between generations. Despite the appeal of solitude, the women open themselves social to ways of living—outside partnership and family. Jane Austen, as always, has plenty of comments to offer.

The novel is a (light) meditation on age, mortality, friendship, hope, and the excitement of change.

Book Details

Title: Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden: An Illustrated Novel

Author: Janet Todd

Genre: literary fiction

Publisher: Fentum Press
 (September 7, 2021
Print length: 336 pages


A few of your favorite things: warm croissants, cut flowers, china fruit.
Things you need to throw out: high heel shoes, red handbags.

Things you need in order to write: pen and envelope,  laptop.
Things that hamper your writing: not a lot. Can withstand need to clean house, garden.

Things you love about where you live: big trees, big sky, crumbling walls.
Things that make you want to move: the weather.

Things you never want to run out of: marmite—and books.
Things you wish you’d never bought: an exercise bike.

Favorite foods: dumplings, Dutch apple pie, fresh figs .
Things that make you want to throw up:   kippers for breakfast.
Favorite music: Purcell’s Fairest Isle—made me want to live in England. Memo to self: never trust a song.
Music that make your ears bleed: loud stuff coming from next car in a traffic jam.
Favorite smell: wallflower (it is an actual flower!).

Something that makes you hold your nose: sulphur, reminds me of dried egg.
Something you’re really good at: working.

Something you’re really bad at: stopping work.

Something you wish you could do: meditate.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: darn a sock. No call for it now—thank God.
Something you like to do: walk down a grassy lane alone—without an umbrella.

Something you wish you’d never done: don’t let me start . . .

Last best thing you ate: lamb hotpot, rhubarb crumble. Yum.

Last thing you regret eating: the Easter chocolates bought as presents but never given because of lockdown.
Things you’d walk a mile for: champagne and smoked oysters in a friend’s garden.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: meetings with  spreadsheets and ‘brainstorming.’
Things you always put in your books: food, rivers and woodland, poetry.

Things you never put in your books: I’m from the Jane Austen school of amorous encounter, so not a lot of explicit sex. But there again, do write funny sex—and even nasty sex . . .
Things to say to an author: compliments.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: Darling, how daring of you to . . .

Favorite places you’ve been: Aberdovey, Trincomalee, Pine Barrens (NJ), Venice.

Places you never want to go to again: Delhi, someone pinched my passport and I was stuck with no money—or identity.

Things that make you happy: good health.

Things that drive you crazy: being asked for feedback after buying some sticky tape or a bag of bulbs; getting duckweed out of pond, tax returns.


Janet Todd is a novelist, biographer and internationally renowned Jane Austen scholar. She is a former president of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. Now a full-time writer and literary critic, she has published several books: Jane Austen's Sanditon, Don’t You Know There’s a War On?, Radiation Diaries, Aphra Behn: A Secret Life, and A Man of Genius. She is an Emerita Professor at the University of Aberdeen and an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge. Born in Wales, she grew up in Britain, Bermuda and Ceylon/Sri Lanka and has worked at universities in Ghana, Puerto Rico, India, the US (Douglass College, Rutgers, Florida) Scotland (Glasgow, Aberdeen) and England (Cambridge, UEA). She lives in Cambridge, England and Venice, Italy.

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Sunday, August 15, 2021




The Argonauts (Nelson) meets See A Grown Man Cry/Now Watch Him Die (Rollins) in this raw & rattling Memoir-meets-Chapbook spanning more than 10 years of writing! Rummagings of journals, shoebox scraps, forgotten notes, and letters to loved ones come together to tell one writer's coming-of-age and his quest for unconditional self-love by dissecting his darkness. Each one-year chapter explores love, regret, identity, existence, ambition, depression, and the insanity of it all, neatly coming to a close with Constantine Dhonau's fireside banter of contextual backstory for each chapter.

Book Details

Title: Collateral Inentions

Author: Constantine Dhonau

Genre: memoir, poetry

Published: June 1, 2021

Print length: 220 pages


A few of your favorite things: bathrobe, slippers.

Things you need to throw out: bathrobe, slippers.

Things you need in order to write: space.

Things that hamper your writing: self-criticism.

Things you love about writing: clearing my head.

Things you hate about writing: overthinking it after the fact.

Easiest thing about being a writer: sharing an experience.

Hardest thing about being a writer: a blank page.

Things you love about where you live: enormous mountains.

Things that make you want to move: small town dating pool.

Things you never want to run out of: gratitude, hope, choice.

Things you wish you’d never bought: meme stocks.

Words that describe you: sharp, gritty, quiet, loud, observant, pointed, driven.

Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: stoic, lax, lazy, critical.

Favorite foods: mangoes, pistachio & dark chocolate chip ice cream, Rueben sandwiches.

Things that make you want to throw up: cheese, anchovies & whipped cream.

Favorite music or song: punk, EDM, rap.

Music that make your ears bleed: jam bands.

Favorite smell: exhaust from the dryer.

Something that makes you hold your nose: freshly-emptied alley dumpsters.

Something you’re really good at: keeping quiet.

Something you’re really bad at: keeping quiet.

Something you wish you could do: teleport.

Something you wish you’d never learned to do: procrastinate.

Something you like to do: walk.

Something you wish you’d never done: made up somebody else’s mind for them.

Last best thing you ate: fruit smoothie.

Last thing you regret eating: too much ice cream.

Things you’d walk a mile for: the hell of it.

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: rescuey, motherly tones.

Things you always put in your books: notes in the margins.
Things you never put in your books: proper bookmarks.

Things to say to an author: “I like (specific detail/part) in your book.”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “that’s deep.”

Favorite places you’ve been: Spain, Redwood Forest, Alaska.

Places you never want to go to again: L.A.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: jumped out of a plane solo.

Something you chickened out from doing: asking her out.


Constantine was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and raised by his mother and his aunt, with the help of several formative programs: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venture Crew, and Sea Scouts. He spent 3 years as the front man for a Tampa ska/punk band: H1N1. After overcoming blind rebellion against "the system," he attended St. Petersburg College for his Associate of Arts, followed by New College of Florida for his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He made his initial escape to Colorado in 2015—degrees in-hand—in search of his independence, dedicating a year of service to City Year Denver of AmeriCorps. There, he discovered a new passion and direction in life: wilderness therapy. He pursued his first and only dream and vision in life with ferocity to become a field guide with Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, completing nearly 550 days in the field. He enjoys writing, tea, cooking, brooding, dancing, yoga, astronomy, reprehensibly long walks, movies, being outdoors, etc. & suchforth.

Connect with Constantine:

Blog   |  Goodreads  


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