Tuesday, February 22, 2022




In 1975, budding entrepreneurs Ted and Janet purchase a floral shop and greenhouses where they plan to grow their dream.

Leaving friends and family behind in Illinois and losing the security of two paychecks, they transplant themselves, their one-year-old daughter, and all their belongings to Fremont, Michigan, where they know no one.

Will the retiring business owners nurture Ted and Janet as they struggle to develop a blooming business, or will they desert the inexperienced, young couple to wither and die in their new environment?

Most of all, can Ted and Janet grow together as they cultivate a loving marriage, juggle parenting with work, and root a thriving business?

Follow their inspiring story, filled with joy and triumphs and obstacles and failures experienced as they travel along the turbulent path of turning dreams into reality.

Book Details 

Title: Arranging a Dream: A Memoir

Author: J.Q. Rose

Genre: memoir
Publisher:  BWL Publishing (January 1, 2021)

Print length: 267 pages


A few of your favorite things: perusing our family photos taken when our kids and grandkids were little to today, my kindle, our newly renovated kitchen.

Things you need to throw out: delete blurry, ugly photos on my cell phone, the expired items in my bathroom medicine cabinet, old files on my computer.

Things you need in order to write: a cup of tea, my blue light glasses, M&M candies.

Things that hamper your writing: a beautiful day, malfunctioning laptop, Facebook scrolling.

Things you love about writing: when the words flow on the page to create delightful word pictures, my granddaughter thinking I’m “famous,” opportunities to meet so many caring and sharing authors and bloggers, discovering new-to-me words, buying more books to read and having the excuse that they are for my writing business.

Things you hate about writing: fishing for that elusive word in an ocean filled with possibilities, the wonder of where to place or not place commas, the isolation in order to get the work done.

Easiest thing about being a writer: blogging, creating graphics and book covers using canva.com, utilizing Grammarly for editing.
Hardest thing about being a writer: marketing, marketing, marketing.

Things you love about where you live: in Michigan I love the lakes, charming towns along Lake Michigan and fruit orchards, in Florida the lush foliage, flowers and fresh vegetables in the winter, socializing with friends with no threat of driving on  icy roads or snowstorms.
Things that make you want to move: the desire to experience new places and people, snowstorms, and hurricanes.

Things you never want to run out of: energy, thirst for learning, printer ink.

Things you wish you’d never bought: that ugly swimsuit, an electric pressure cooker,  books that did not hold my interest.

Favorite foods: pineapple upside down cake, anything chocolate, pot roast with potatoes and carrots, Wendy’s Frosties (soft ice cream).

Things that make you want to throw up: beef tongue boiling in a pot, sewer odor, blood sausage.

Favorite music: Celine Dion and Whitney Houston songs.

Music that make your ears bleed: rap and heavy metal, some karaoke performances.

Favorite beverage: Constant Comment tea brewed in the Christmas teapot my mother gave me for Christmas 52 years ago.

Something that gives you a pickle face: sour Skittles candy.

Favorite smell: roses.

Something that makes you hold your nose: ammonia.

Something you wish you could do: play a piano concert at Carnegie Hall.

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

Things you always put in your books: always some good in a bad villain.
Things you never put in your books: open-door bedroom scenes, dirty language.

Things to say to an author: I couldn’t stop reading your book.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: Your punctuation and spelling needs to more work.

Favorite places you’ve been: Mackinac Island in Michigan, driving through the Rocky mountains in Canada in autumn.

Places you never want to go to again: London, England.

Favorite things to do: play Pegs and Jokers board games, watch the sunsets both in Michigan and Florida,  travel to a place I have always heard about e.g., the Grand Canyon.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: washing windows.

Things that make you happy: dining out at the Silver Dolphin with my hubby, eating popcorn every Sunday afternoon, enjoying a Netflix or Free YouTube while relaxing in our recliners, spending time with friends and/or family, attending church services and Bible studies.

Things that drive you crazy: speeding cars, the phrase “each and every one,” pop-up” ads on my computer screen.

Proudest moment: A standing ovation when “kicking up my heels” as a Hoover bum in the chorus line in the community theater production of Annie.

Most embarrassing moment: During my freshman year of high school—falling down the school steps on Dress-Up-Day due to wearing high heels—not just once but three times!


Whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, J.Q. Rose is “focused on story.”  She offers readers chills, giggles and quirky characters woven within the pages of her romantic suspense novels and provides entertainment and information with articles featured in books, newspapers, and online magazines.

Using her storytelling skills for writing mysteries and her experience in non-fiction, J.Q. penned her memoir, Arranging a Dream.

Blogging, taking photos of their garden, nature and family, Pegs and Jokers board games, travel and presenting workshops on life storytelling are the things that keep JQ out of trouble. She and her husband spend winters in Florida and summers up north with their two daughters, two sons-in-law,  four grandsons, one granddaughter, two grand dogs, four grand cats, and one great-grand bearded dragon.

Connect with the author:

Blog  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Monday, February 21, 2022



After his wife's death, reporter Jeremy Michaels concentrates on writing news stories that try to bring justice to the underdogs of the world, until an announcement by Buckingham Palace shatters his glass cocoon. The village hermit from the hometown Jeremy fled is to be knighted for still-classified services during World War II, a man Jeremy knows well from a certain childhood adventure. The editor of the newspaper Jeremy writes for sends him back home to find out why, but he is scooped by the hometown paper's revelation that the man worked inside the French Resistance. Yet the knighthood is refused, and Jeremy's chance to save his job—and an old friendship—lies in discovering the truth.

Book Details

Title: Saving Thomas

Author: Scott Kauffman

Genre: historical suspense

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press (February 21, 2022)

Print length: 306 pages


A few of your favorite things: books, Van Gogh prints hanging on my walls, collection of fountain pens, house plants (I go in for the jungle look).
Things you need to throw out: all those annoying letters from the IRS. They really need to think about saving the trees.

Things you need in order to write: coffee, quiet, my writer’s sweaters, music.
Things that hamper your writing: noise.

Things you love about writing: how I transport myself into another world.
Things you hate about writing: never enough time.

Easiest thing about being a writer: letting my imagination soar.
Hardest thing about being a writer: ignoring criticism.

Things you love about where you live: Southern California along the coast probably has the best weather in the world. Seldom above 80 degrees or below 40 in winter. Usually in the 60s and 70s with 300 days of sunshine. More rain, however, would be welcome. Humidity usually very moderate except when the summer monsoons drift over the mountains up from Mexico. Then there is the Hollywood connection: off my patio I can see Shirley Temple’s house later sold to Buddy Ebsen (think The Beverly Hillbillies) who in turn sold it to Joey Bishop, member in good standing of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack. Humphrey Bogart once harbored his boat here. A house over on Balboa Island was featured in the movie Jaws. John Wayne and Nicholas Cage both once owned homes in the same gated community where John Wayne every afternoon walked his granddaughter across Pacific Coast Highway for ice cream. Not a mile from my writing office I can see Kobe’s house up in the hills of Newport Coast.
Things that make you want to move: cost of living, congestion, lack of civility.

Things you never want to run out of: coffee, whiskey.
Things you wish you’d never bought: I’m pretty conservative when it comes to money (some nay sayers would call me cheap) so I give a lot of thought before opening my wallet.

Words that describe you: quiet, thoughtful, open.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: impatient.

Favorite foods: pizza and beer.
Things that make you want to throw up:  nothing really. I’m pretty easy-going.

Favorite music: classical, especially sacred choral music from the baroque and renaissance eras.
Music that make your ears bleed: rap will do it.

Favorite beverage: Irish whiskey.

Something that gives you a pickle face: liver.

Favorite smell: the smell of horse.
Something that makes you hold your nose: someone who hasn’t bathed for the last seven days so I try to make sure I at least bathe every six days.

Something you’re really good at: I don’t know if I am a good writer but it is something I work very hard at and enjoy.
Something you’re really bad at: housecleaning.

Something you wish you could do: play the violin.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: nothing. Good judgment is the result of bad judgment that comes from the mistakes we’ve made along the way.

Something you like to do: drive north on Pacific Coast Highway through the Central Coast and Big Sur.
Something you wish you’d never done: nothing. I’ve learned from it all.

Things you’d walk a mile for: a cup of coffee if my percolator went on the fritz first thing in the morning.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: snakes.

Things you always put in your books: the only subjects worth writing about are love, loss and death.

Things you never put in your books: erotica.

Things to say to an author: constructive criticism is always welcome.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “I gave you a one-star review and was being generous at that.”

Favorite places you’ve been: California Central Coast and Big Sur.

Places you never want to go to again: with a few exceptions, just about anywhere in Los Angeles.

Favorite things to do: writing, reading, listening to music, horseback riding. Rock climbing back in the days when I was young and stupid.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: housecleaning.

Things that make you happy: writing.
Things that drive you crazy: not being able to write.

Proudest moment: getting admitted to law school.
Most embarrassing moment: one (or more) too many glasses of Champaign at our wedding reception.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told: “Of course I love you.”
A lie you wish you’d told: “Of course I love you.”

Best thing you’ve ever done: giving hours and hours of pro bono legal services with no hope of payment.
Biggest mistake: being too impatient to listen.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: rock climbing without a rope.
Something you chickened out from doing: skydiving.

The last thing you did for the first time: baking cookies.
Something you’ll never do again: baking cookies.


Scott is an attorney in Irvine, California, where his practice focuses upon white-collar crime with his clients providing him endless story fodder. His short story “Cat Dance” was short-listed for the 2018 Adelaide Literary Award. He is the author of the coming-of-age novel Revenants, The Odyssey Home (Moonshine Cove Publishing) and the legal-suspense novel, In Deepest Consequences (Medallion Press) and is the recipient of the Mighty River Short Story Contest and the Hackney Literary Award. His short fiction has appeared in Big Muddy, Adelaide Magazine, and Lascaux Review.

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

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, February 15, 2022




Parker City, 1984 . . .

Three years after the Spring Strangler case rocked the historic Western Maryland city nestled at the foot of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, life has returned to normal for Detective Ben Winters and his partner, Tommy Mason. With a new chief now leading the department and the city slowly crawling out of its economic distress, everything seems to be moving in the right direction. Until one sweltering summer day, a killer begins targeting police officers. Ben and Tommy find themselves once again leading an investigation the likes of which Parker City has never seen. The detectives quickly come to realize that until the shooter is found, everyone wearing a badge is in danger.

To complicate matters even further, when a recently unearthed skeleton mysteriously connects to the string of police homicides, Ben and Tommy begin to think their current case may be tied to events twenty years earlier. But how could a skeleton buried two decades ago hold the key to solving their current case?

    Book Details:

Title: Vice & Virtue

Author: Justin M. Kiska

Genre: traditional mystery/police procedural

Series: Parker City Mysteries
, book 2
Publisher: Level Best Books (February 15, 2022)

Print length: 288 pages


Things you need in order to write: a nice hot cappuccino, quiet, and time.
Things that hamper your writing: BritBox! There are just too many great shows to get sucked into!

Things you love about writing: I’m a bit of a control-freak, so I love to have complete control of everything that happens in the story.
Things you hate about writing: making sure that the things I want to happen in the story make sense. One of the things I say to my wife all the time comes from my favorite television show: “Don’t ruin my story with your logic.”

Easiest thing about being a writer: for me, coming up with the stories and the mysteries that go along with them. But sometimes I have too many ideas, so it’s also hard paring it down and picking one good mystery to write. 

Hardest thing about being a writer: finding the time and discipline to actually sit down, focus, and write.

Favorite foods: I could probably eat pizza every day if my wife and doctor would let me. Same with Krispy Kreme Donuts!
Things that make you want to throw up: peppers! I don’t care what color they are or where they come from, they are all evil!  

Favorite music: as a theatre producer, I listen to showtunes all the time. Thankfully, I like showtunes. I always have. I’m also a fan of oldies. Golden oldies from the ‘50s and ‘60s, to be precise. I realize the definition of “oldies” is changing.
Music that make your ears bleed: I wish I could say I was one of those people who like all music, but I’m not. Heavy metal . . . not my thing.

Favorite beverage: caramel iced coffee.  I’m addicted. 

Something that gives you a pickle face: I know it isn’t a drink, but celery. I just don’t see the point.

Something you’re really good at: sarcasm. I have an advanced degree.

Something you’re really bad at: making pancakes. I always burn them. Always.

Things you always put in your books: since my background is actually as a theatre producer, I always like to have a line or two from a play or musical in my books as a little Easter egg to theatre-lovers or performers who’ve been in a show I’ve directed or produced. 

Things you never put in your books: over-the-top, gratuitous violence. I’ve never been a fan of slasher/horror films or unnecessary blood and guts.

Things to say to an author: “I really enjoyed your book. You had me guessing who the killer was up until the very end.”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “What you should have done is . . .”

Favorite places you’ve been: New Orleans. I loved the city, the food, the atmosphere.

Places you never want to go to again: New Orleans. No city should be that hot and humid!

Favorite genre: good old-fashioned mysteries.

Books you would ban: young adult fantasy fiction . . . don’t get me started.

Favorite things to do: first and foremost, travel. I would live on a cruise ship if I could. But if we’re talking about favorite things to do on a daily basis . . . at the end of the day I love to relax by reading a good book. 

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Best thing you’ve ever done: married my wife.

Biggest mistake: married my wife before I found out how much she loved Christmas movies on Hallmark.


Tall and athletic, Tommy Mason always reminded Ben of Tom Selleck’s Magnum P.I. character from television. Tommy always had that whole ruggedly handsome thing going for him. Mixed with a little bit of a “bad boy” vibe and he drove the women wild.

Next to Ben’s clean-cut, buttoned-down appearance, their pairing caused many to do a doubletake. At first glance, they appeared to be complete opposites. But as one got to know them, they were very much alike. Each brought out the best in the other and at the end of the day, it was all about getting the job done. Sure, each had his own style, but that’s what made them such a formidable team.

Tommy’s apparent willingness to skirt the rules was always offset by Ben’s ability to find ways to use the rules to their benefit. Just as Ben’s refusal to play the internal politics game allowed Tommy to use his charm to keep too many feathers from getting ruffled amongst the powers-that-be. They each knew the other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to adapt them to their own, which is why they’d been so impressive in getting the PCPD’s Detective Squad off the ground.

“What are you doing here?” Ben asked, more than a little surprised to see his partner.

“Shirley from Dispatch called me. She thought I’d be interested,” Tommy explained. “And before you say anything about what I’m wearing, I just want to remind you, it is our day off, so I didn’t think I needed to get dressed up to come to a potential crime scene. Especially when we don’t actually know this is a crime scene yet.”

He was referring to the fact he had on a T-shirt and comfortable pair of jeans, as opposed to the full suit and tie Ben was wearing.

“Besides, now you don’t have to worry about getting your fancy suit muddy. I have no problems getting down there in the dirt,” Tommy smiled, pointing at the fresh mud stains on his knees. With that, he knelt back down to take another look at the exposed skeletal remains under the floorboards.

“So, tell me. What do we have?” Ben asked, crouching next to Tommy so he could get a better look.

“You can see there’s a pretty big cavity here under this part of the floor,” Tommy pointed out. “It’s got to be a good ten by ten area where the ground has been eaten away, even though it’s not too deep, less than a foot in some places. It’s definitely because of water…there’s a lot of mud down there. As the earth under the floor eroded, it uncovered the skeleton. Partway, at least. Of course, no one could see what was happening under here until our friend Mr. Haggarty had the unfortunate experience of stepping on a board that was rotted through and it snapped, sending him falling through the floor. You can see where he landed in the mud.

“And right there,” Tommy pointed, “you see the skull and top portion of the skeleton sticking out of the ground.”

“You came face-to-face with that thing, man?” Tommy looked over at the construction worker who was leaning against the wall. “Not a good way to start the day.”

“Yeah. You’re telling me,” Haggarty answered.

Turning back to the skeleton, Tommy said, “I’m no expert, but that hole in the skull right there…see it, it looks like it could be a GSW from a pretty heavy caliber gun.”

Leaning down and twisting his head so he could try and get a better look at the skull, Ben saw the hole and wondered if his partner was right. Finding a skeleton buried under the floor was one thing. Finding a skeleton buried under the floor with a bullet hole in its skull was something else. It took everything to a different level.

Standing and stretching their legs, Tommy said, “When Shirley first called me, I thought this was going to have been some kind of prank. Some kids snuck into the site on a dare and left a skeleton for the crew to find.”

“You thought kids somehow buried a skeleton under this building in the hopes someone would fall through the floor and find it?” Ben asked, raising an eyebrow. “Not to mention having to figure out how to bury the thing under the floor?”

“In my defense,” Tommy started, raising a finger and shaking it at his partner, “I didn’t know the skeleton was buried under the warehouse. I just knew they’d found a skeleton at the warehouse.”

The first thing that needed to happen was to get the skeleton out of the ground. That would be up to the crime scene techs. Even though he could easily reach in and pull the skull out to get a better look, Ben didn’t want to disturb anything more than it already had been when Lance Haggarty crashed through the floor. Thankfully, he hadn’t actually landed on the skull itself.

“So much for our day off,” Ben said, looking at his watch, wondering where the crime scene guys were.


Excerpt from Vice & Virtue by Justin M. Kiska.  Copyright 2022 by Justin M. Kiska. Reproduced with permission from Justin M. Kiska. All rights reserved.



When not sitting in his library devising new and clever ways to kill people (for his mysteries), Justin can usually be found at The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre, outside of Washington, DC, where he is one of the owners and producers. In addition to writing the Parker City Mysteries Series, he is also the mastermind behind Marquee Mysteries, a series of interactive mystery events he has been writing and producing for over fifteen years. Justin and his wife, Jessica, live along Lake Linganore outside of Frederick, Maryland.

Connect with Justin:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads 

Buy the book:

Thursday, February 10, 2022



When her best friend is murdered the same way her brother was, who can she possibly trust?

A decade ago, Delaney Broward discovered her brother’s murdered body at the San Antonio art co-op he founded with friends. Her artist boyfriend, Hunter Nash, went to prison for the murder, despite his not-guilty plea.

This morning, Hunter walks out of prison a free man, having served his sentence.

This afternoon, Delaney finds her best friend dead, murdered in the same fashion as her brother.

Stay out of it or you’re next, the killer warns.

Hunter never stopped loving Delaney, though he can’t blame her for not forgiving her. He knows he’ll get his life back one day at a time, one step at a time. But he’s blindsided to realize he’s a murder suspect. Again.

When Hunter shows up on her doorstep, asking her to help him find the real killer, Delaney’s head says to run away, yet her heart tells her there’s more to his story than what came out in the trial. An uneasy truce leads to their probe into a dark past that shatters Delaney’s image of her brother. She can’t stop and neither can Hunter—which lands them both in the crosshairs of a murderer growing more desperate by the day (hour?).

In this gripping romantic suspense, Kelly Irvin plumbs the complexity of broken trust in the people we love—and in God—and whether either can be mended.

Book Details:

Title: Trust Me
Author: Kelly Irvin

Genre: romantic suspense

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (February 8, 2022)

Print length: 384 pages



A few of your favorite things: my heated blanket and flannel pajamas, my copy of The Secret Garden, the 2,000-piece Lego typewriter my son and daughter-in-law gave me.
Things you need to throw out: the clothes in my closet that I keep because I might gain back the weight I lost, as well as the ones I keep in case I lose that additional 10 pounds.

Things you need in order to write: a quiet room, a fast computer, time to daydream.
Things that hamper your writing: health issues, loud music, barking dogs.

Things you love about writing: when new characters/plot twists appear out of nowhere.
Things you hate about writing: realizing I’m 10,000 words over my contracted word count and still have story to tell.

Easiest thing about being a writer: spending time with my characters every day.
Hardest thing about being a writer: bad reviews.

Things you love about where you live: my office’s big windows, the view from my office of an open field with lots of trees, no traffic, the bay window in the kitchen that allows me to eat my breakfast while watching the Cardinals and hummingbirds eat theirs at the birdfeeders.
Things that make you want to move: the long drive into town, barking dogs.

Things you never want to run out of: crunchy peanut butter, apple-cinnamon-spice tea, patience, story ideas.
Things you wish you’d never bought: nothing comes to mind.

Words that describe you: writer, novelist, introvert, creative, a daydreamer.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: disabled, cancer patient, impatient.

Favorite foods: my husband’s homemade pizza, chicken enchiladas in green sauce, tater tot casserole, praline sweet potato pie.
Things that make you want to throw up: kale, hominy, liver and onions.

Favorite music: Zach Williams and Dolly Parton’s “There Was Jesus.,” country music, Fleetwood Mac, Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, contemporary Christian music.
Music that make your ears bleed: heavy metal, rap.

Favorite beverage: decaf iced tea, decaf coffee with almond milk & stevia.

Something that gives you a pickle face: any soda.

Favorite smell: because of health issues, I have no sense of smell. I miss the smell of cilantro, fresh cut grass, popcorn, and coffee brewing.

Something that makes you hold your nose: I don’t miss beer breath, bathroom smells, and the smell of my cats’ litter box.

Something you’re really good at: making up stories.

Something you’re really bad at: math.

Something you like to do: read, eat, sleep.

Something you wish you’d never done: drank one too many beers one too many times.

People you consider as heroes: oncologists, cancer researchers, ALS patients, ALS caregivers and researchers, young people such as Greta Thurberg, Simone Bile, and Amanda Gorman who step up for what they believe in in a big way, first responders and healthcare professionals who continue to work tirelessly as we begin year three of this pandemic.

People with a big L on their foreheads: conspiracy theorists, journalists who perpetuate fake news, people who sue social media to beat up others for their beliefs, racists, bigots, white supremacists, misogynists, and people who would ban books because they don’t agree with their content.

Last best thing you ate: my husband’s homemade chicken and dumplings soup.

Last thing you regret eating: too many roasted brussel sprouts–bad bellyache!

Things you’d walk a mile for: if I could walk a mile (unfortunately I can’t): spending time with my 3 grandchildren and my daughter. They live on the east coast while I’m in South Texas.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: reality TV, especially The Bachelor & The Bachelorette.

Things you always put in your books: my characters almost always have pets, using dogs and/or cats, I try to represent characters with disabilities in my books.

Things you never put in your books: graphic sex scenes.

Things to say to an author: What a great fulltime job. You must be living your dream.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: What a fun hobby. I’d write a book too, but I don’t have time. Or “you must be rich now.”

Favorite places you’ve been: Costa Rica and Maui.

Places you never want to go to again: Florida.

People you’d like to invite to dinner (living):  Michael Connelly, Laura Lippman, John Sanford, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Meg Gardiner, JA Jance, William Kent Krueger. (I’d have a potluck with mystery/suspense writers and we’d sit around and talk writing all night so I could pick their brains and soak up their knowledge. It would be fun to see what dishes they bring too.)

People you’d cancel dinner on: without getting political, a number of politicians from both sides of the aisle, but especially those currently representing my adopted home state of Texas.

Favorite things to do: read, play with my grandkids.
Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: going to parties given by people I hardly know.

Things that make you happy: watching movies with my husband, reading, writing.

Things that drive you crazy: waiting forever in waiting rooms for doctors’ appointments.

Proudest moment: when I saw my first published book on a bookstore shelf and then on a library shelf.
Most embarrassing moment:
I worked as a newspaper reporter covering city hall in Laredo, Texas. One night the zipper on my sundress broke and my dress gaped open from the back so everyone behind me could see.

Best thing you’ve ever done:
married my husband. Decided to get serious about writing on my 45th birthday and wrote a novel, got an agent, & then a publisher.

Biggest mistake: Waiting until I turned 45 to start seriously writing fiction.



APRIL 22, 2010

The cloying stench of pot told the same old story.

With an irritated sigh Delaney Broward quickened her pace through the warehouse-turned-art-co-op toward her brother’s studio at the far end of the cavernous hall. On his best days Corey had little sense of time. Add a joint to the mix and he lost his sense not only of time but of responsibility. It also explained why he didn’t answer his phone. When he got high and started painting, he wanted no interruptions. His lime-green VW van was parked cattywampus across two spaces in the lot that faced Alamo Street just south of downtown San Antonio. He might be physically present, but his THC-soaked mind had escaped its cell.

Marijuana served as his muse and taskmaster. Or so he’d said.

The soles of her huarache sandals clacking on the concrete floor sounded loud in Delaney’s ears. “Corey? Corey! You were supposed to pick us up at Ellie’s. Come on, dude. She’s waiting.”

No answer.

At this rate Delaney would never get to Night in Old San Antonio, affectionately known to most local folks as NIOSA. Everyone who was anyone knew it was pronounced NI-O-SA, long I and long O, the best party-slash-fundraiser during the mother of all parties where her boyfriend would be waiting for her. “Hey, bro, I’m starving. Let’s go.”

Delaney’s phone rang. She slowed and dug it from the pocket of her stonewashed jeans. Speaking of Ellie. “I’m at the co-op now. He’s here.”

Share as little info as possible.

“He’s stoned again, isn’t he? I’m sick of this.” Ellie’s shrill voice rose even higher. “I swear if he stands me up again— ”

Us. Stands us up.”

“Stood us up again. That will be it. I’m done. I’m done waiting around for him. I’m done playing second fiddle to his self-destructive habits. I’m done with his starving-artist, free-spirit, pothead schtick. The man is a walking stereotype. I’m done with him, period.”

Delaney mouthed the words along with her friend. She knew the lyrics of this lovesick song by heart. The childish rejoinder “It takes one to know one” stuck in her throat. “We’ll be there in twenty. You can tell him yourself.”

Ellie would and then Corey would kiss her until she took it all back. With a final huff Ellie hung up.

The door to his studio— the largest and with the best light because the co-op was Corey’s dream child— stood open. “Seriously, Corey. Think of someone besides yourself once in a while, please.” Delaney strode through the door, ready to ream her brother up one side and down the other. “You are so selfish.”

Delaney halted. At first blush it didn’t make sense. Twisted and smashed canvases littered the floor. Along with paints, brushes, beer bottles, and Thai food take-out cartons.

Wooden easels were broken like toothpicks and scattered on top of the canvases. Someone had splattered red paint over another finished piece— a woman eating a raspa in front of a vendor’s mobile cart, the Alamo in the background.

Delaney’s hands went to her throat. The metallic scent of blood mingled with the odor of human waste gagged her. A fiery shiver started at her toes and raced like a lit fuse to her brain. Her mind took in detail after detail. That way she didn’t have to face the bigger picture staring her in the face. “Please, God, no.”

Even He couldn’t fix this.

She shot forward, stumbled, and fell to her knees. Her legs refused to work. She crawled the remainder of the distance to Corey across a floor marred by still-wet oil paint, beer, and other liquids she couldn’t bear to identify.

He sat with his back against the wall. His long legs clad in paint-splattered jeans sprawled in front of him. His feet were bare. His hands with those thin, expressive fingers lay in his lap. Deep lacerations scored his palms and fingers.

Her throat aching with the effort not to vomit, Delaney forced her gaze to move upward. His T-shirt, once white, now shone scarlet with blood. His blood. Rips in the shirt left his chest exposed, revealing stab wounds— too many to count.

Delaney opened her mouth. Scream. Just scream. Let it out.

No sound emerged.

She crawled alongside her big brother until she could lean her shoulder and head against the wall. “Corey?” she whispered.

His green eyes, fringed by thick, dark lashes that were the envy of every woman he’d ever dated, were open and startled. His skin, always pale and ethereal, had a blue tinge to it.

Delaney drowned in a tsunami of nausea. “Come on, Corey, this isn’t funny. I need you.”

Her teeth chattered. Hands shaking, she touched his throat. His skin was cold. So cold.

Too late, too late, too late. The words screamed in her head. Stop it. Just stop it. “You can’t be dead. You’re not allowed to die.”

Mom and Dad had died in a car wreck a week past her eighth birthday. Nana and Pops had taken their turns the year Delaney turned eighteen. Everybody she cared about died.

Not Corey. Delaney punched in 9–1–1.

The operator’s assurance that help was on the way did nothing to soothe Delaney. She sat cross-legged and dragged Corey’s shoulders and head into her lap. She had to warm him up. “Tell them to hurry. Tell them my brother needs help.”

“Yes, ma’am. They’re en route.”

“Tell them he’s all I’ve got.”



Real men didn’t cry. Not even during a reunion with a beloved truck.

Swallowing hard, Hunter Nash wrapped his fingers around the keys, concentrating on the feel of the metal pressing into his skin. He cleared his throat. “Thanks, Mom. For keeping it all these years.”

His mom didn’t bother to try to hide her tears. She wiped her plump cheeks on a faded dish towel, offered him a tremulous smile, and bustled down the sidewalk that led from the house on San Antonio’s near west side where Hunter had grown up to the detached two-car garage in the back. It had housed his truck for the past eight years. Almost ten if he counted the two years it took for his case to go to trial. He had no place to go in those years when he’d allegedly been innocent until proven guilty. His friends no longer friends and his job gone, he had no need for transportation.

The door to the garage was padlocked. Mom handed him the key. “My hands are shaking. You’d better do the honors.” She stepped back. “I still can’t believe you’re here.”

“I did my time, Ma.” As a model prisoner he’d earned time off for good behavior. It was easy for a guy to behave when he spent his days and nights scared spitless.

“I know. All those nights I’ve lain in bed worrying about you in that place, whether you were safe, if you were hurt, if you were sick.” Her voice broke. “I can’t believe it’s over.”

“Me neither.”

It wasn’t over. In fact, it was just beginning, but she didn’t need to know that. His determination to prove his innocence would only worry her more. A divorced mother of four, she’d raised her kids on a teacher’s salary and an occasional child support check from the crud-for-brains ex-husband who showed up once every couple of years in an attempt to make nice with his kids. She deserved a break.

The aging manual garage door squeaked and protested when Hunter yanked on the handle. He needed to do some work around here, starting with applying some WD-40. The smell of mold and old motor oil wafted from the dark interior. Hunter slipped inside and waited for his eyes to adjust. A layer of dust covered the 2002 midnight-blue Dodge RAM 1500, but otherwise it remained in the pristine condition in which he’d left it the night he said goodbye and promised he’d be back. “My baby.”

More tears trickling down her face, Mom chuckled softly. “After you finish reintroducing yourself, come back inside. I’m making your favorite chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, pineapple coleslaw, and creamed corn. Your brother and sisters are coming over after work. Shawna’s bringing a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Melissa’s contribution is three kinds of ice cream, including rocky road. She said it seemed appropriate. I hope you haven’t lost your sense of humor. And you know Curtis. He’s all about the beer.”

The last thing Hunter wanted to do was celebrate with his sibs. Mel and Shawna had visited faithfully at first, but less as the years rolled by. Curtis never showed, even though Fabian Dominguez State Jail was only a few miles down the road from San Antonio.

Nor did Hunter want to explain why he’d sworn off alcohol. The conditions of his parole included monthly pee tests— no alcohol or drugs, but that part of his life was over anyway. It had been easy to comply in prison, obviously. Whether he could maintain his sobriety in the beer drinking capital of the country remained to be seen. He’d do AA if necessary. “Mom— ”

“No buts. They’re family. They love you. You need to live life, enjoy life, make up for all you’ve missed. You haven’t even met most of your nieces and nephews. Did you know Mel is expecting another baby in August?”

“Yes, I— ”

“Today we celebrate your new job and your new life.”

His bachelor of fine arts with an emphasis in drawing and painting from Southwest School of Art might once have allowed him to teach art in one of the school districts, but not anymore.

It didn’t matter. The prison chaplain had hooked him up with Pastor James. The preacher ran a faith-based community center that served at-risk youth. He’d hired Hunter to teach art to those who’d already had their first brush with the law. He figured Hunter could teach life lessons at the same time he introduced them to art as a way to channel their anger at the hand life had dealt them. Learning what happened when a guy got off track would be the lesson.

Even though Hunter hadn’t gotten off the track. He’d been shoved off it. By an eager-beaver, newbie detective; a green-as-a-Granny-Smith-apple public defender; and an assembly-line justice system.

He would get by in this world that had hung him out to dry. Especially knowing Mom had his back. She had that don’t-mess-with-me teacher look in her burnt-amber eyes. Like her sixth graders, Hunter knew better than to argue. It felt good to know she remained in his corner. When everyone else had hit the ground, scattering in opposite directions, she never budged in her belief that son number two could not be a murderer. She’d brought him up better than that.

“You’re right. Give me a few minutes.”

She patted his chest and stretched on her tiptoes to plant a kiss on his cheek. Her lips were chapped, and the wrinkles had deepened around her mouth and eyes. Her long hair had gone pure white during his years away. “Take your time, sweetheart.”

Hunter gritted his teeth. After years of looking over his shoulder, bobbing and weaving around hard-core convicts who’d as soon shank a guy in the shower as look at him, he didn’t know how to cope with nice. With sweet. With love tempered with wisdom and a hard life.

“One day at a time.” That’s what the prison chaplain had told him. “Get through the next minute, the next hour, the next day.” That’s how he did eight years at Dominguez. This couldn’t be any harder. He opened the truck’s door and slid into the driver’s seat. The faint odor of pine air freshener greeted him. And citrus.

More likely that was his imagination. Delaney’s perfume simply could not linger that long. Move on. She has. She did. To her credit Delaney held on as long as she could— until the guilty verdict. Then she was forced to move on. She couldn’t be blamed for that.

Hunter picked up the sketch pad on the passenger seat. In those days he kept one everywhere. Just in case. The first page. The second. The third. All drawings of Delaney. Sweet Laney eating a slice of watermelon at a Fourth of July celebration. Laney rocking Hunter’s newborn nephew in a hickory rocker on the front porch. Laney in a bathing suit sitting on the dock at Medina Lake. Laney with her soulful eyes, long sandy-brown hair, and air of sad vulnerability worn like a pair of old jeans that fit perfectly. That too-big nose, wide mouth, and pointed chin. Corey might have been the angelic beauty— totally unfair— but Delaney’s face had character. She had a face Hunter never ceased to want to draw and paint.

And kiss.

He turned the pages slowly, allowing the memories to have their way with him. Meeting at a party Corey had thrown when Delaney was a senior in high school. Their first date, ribs and smoked chicken with heart-stopping creamed corn, potato salad, coleslaw, and jalapeƱos at Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q followed by dancing at Leon Springs Dance Hall.

She had danced with the abandon of a small child. As if she didn’t care who watched. Her face glowed with perspiration. Her green eyes sparkled with happiness. His two left feet couldn’t keep up, but she didn’t mind. She twirled her peasant skirt as she flew around him, her hands in the air, her curves beckoning.

Hunter closed his eyes. Her softness enveloped him. Her sweetness surrounded him.

He needed to see her again. He needed to talk to her. Somehow he had to prove to her that she was wrong about him. Whatever it took. He laid the sketchbook aside. “Come on, dude, let’s take a ride.”

He stuck the key in the ignition and turned it.

Nothing. Not even a tick-tick-tick. He tried a second time. Nada. “I’m an idiot.” He patted the steering wheel. “Not your fault, man.”

The truck hadn’t been driven in years. The battery was dead. He might be able to jump it, but more likely he’d need a new one. Batteries cost money.

One thing at a time. He’d waited this long.

Hunter slid from the truck and eased the door closed. “I’ll be back when I get my act together.”

In the kitchen Hunter found his mom peeling potatoes. She pointed the peeler at him. “You can’t imagine how good it feels to have you home.”

“You can’t imagine how good it feels to be here.” He landed a kiss on her soft hair. She smelled of Pond’s cold cream. The same old comforting scent. Life had changed but not her. “I’m gonna take a walk. I need to blow the prison stink off.”

“Enjoy. They redid the walking trail at the lake and installed new outdoor fitness equipment.” She waved the paring knife in the air. “But don’t stay too long. You have company coming.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He pantomimed a mock salute and headed for the front door.

One thing at a time. One step at a time. That’s how he’d get his life back.


Excerpt from Trust Me by Kelly Irvin. Copyright 2022 by Kelly Irvin. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.



Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of thirty books and novellas, including romantic suspense and Amish romance novels. Publishers Weekly calls her latest release, Trust Me, “a whirlwind romantic thriller,” and “an emotional rollercoaster.” The two-time ACFW Carol finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years writing stories on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin, in San Antonio. They are the parents of two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2022



From Depression to Contentment: A Self-Therapy Guide is a course of therapy in your pocket. You can be your own therapist, changing the way you see yourself and your world. Not only does this save lots of money, it also is 100% confidential. The book starts with first aid, provides an understanding of the nature and causes of suffering, instructs you in research-based techniques for dealing with your problems and, finally, teaches you an actual cure for depression.

•    Every tool in this book is based on research, but presented in an easy to understand, easy to apply manner.
•    With homework assignments, you will find your inner strengths, uncover the true source of happiness and develop great resilience.
•    Learn how to put the philosophies of all great religions to practical use, even if you are an atheist.
•    This program can help you start a new life - one of meaning, positivity and purpose.
•    Unlike instructional books, this book is not only useful but also enjoyable.

"If you're depressed and need someone who 'gets' you, who has been there and who can walk you through the journey toward a life worth living, then From Depression to Contentment will be your new best friend. Bob meets you where you are and can lead you home to yourself."
-- Petrea King, CEO and founder of Quest for Life Foundation

Book Details

Title: From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide
Author: Bob Rich, Ph.D.
Genre: psychology self-help
Publisher: Loving Healing Press 2019
Print length: 155 pages


How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I became a writer because in 1980 a bunch of teenagers kidnapped me. They were playing a boys vs. girls soccer game, and needed one more male, so told me I had to help out. I was making mudbricks (adobe) at the time, and went with them, muddy boots and all.
Not surprisingly, I slipped and tore the cartilage in my knee. Let me tell you, that’s not a good idea.|
In hospital, I was bored out of my mind, so borrowed the office typewriter, (remember those?) and wrote a how-to article for Earth Garden magazine and became their owner-building expert, with a byline column for 40 years. This led to my first book, The Earth Garden Building Book: Design and build your own house. That went through 4 editions and sold hundreds of thousands of copies between 1986 and 2018.
|Later, I decided to train as a nurse, and this meant 5 nights a week in a nurses’ home where gorgeous 18-year-olds surrounded me. I had to choose between making a fool of myself or doing something creative, so I wrote short stories. The first I entered won a prize—and I was hooked. You can read this story here.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was born with the ability to heal with words. It is a karmic thing. Even in school, all the kids with problems cried on my shoulders. Trouble was, I had too much empathy, and often worried more about other people’s problems than they did.
Nursing toughened me up (the first lesson in nursing is: “It’s not your pain. You are not there to share it, but to relieve it.” In therapy, it’s even further: you are there to empower your client to relieve it.)
So, in the late 1980s I did an additional course, and I then had a psychotherapy practice until 2013.
It may shock and surprise you, but relieving suffering gives me great joy. I am odd that way. Since about 1999, I have been answering cries of desperation posted on various websites, and now people track me down thanks to many of my q&a posts in the public domain.
In fact, one of my earlier books is 50 such single-session email therapy exchanges .
I may have grown old, but I am still silly enough to be idealistic, and to make a difference. My book From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide is a tool for transforming your life. I want it to work for as many people as I can.

How long did it take you to write this book?

Fiction is far more fun to write than nonfiction. I knew I needed a book to help with depression 15 years ago, and sort of started it, but it gathered dust inside my computer, with me occasionally adding to it. Then once I decided to, I whipped it into shape in 3 months, and sent it off to my publisher.
It was 95,000 words long, and he told me (well, emailed me) that people won’t read self-help books above 50,000 words. So, he forced me to amputate much of it. I managed this in two ways: in the book I set homework tasks (you change your life by DOING, not by KNOWING), much of which includes additional reading, and I used the excised parts as the start of a companion volume, Lifting the Gloom: Antidepressant writings.

What do you hope readers will get from this book?

It is a course of therapy in your pocket. If you faithfully and conscientiously do the program, you will grow spiritually (which is the purpose of life), gain immense inner strength and resilience, and survive anything, even Bob Rich’s humor.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

I am a fan of Carolyn Howard-Johnson and her how-to books on writing. I have edited most of them, which is a very frugal way of reading. Her advice on titles for a nonfiction book is to have it brief and pithy saying exactly what the book is about, then have a long subtitle that includes the keywords your target audience is likely to use in searches.

How did you come up with your cover art?

It’s actually designed by my publisher’s cover-art expert, but the concept is mine.
Birds are among my favorite people on this planet, and the wedgetail eagle is the favorite of favorites. You can read a guided imagery script about her here.
So, that’s what I wanted on the cover. But the only print-quality pic we could find was of a foreigner: an American bald eagle. (Actually, I am far more bald than they are.)

Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?

I participate in a monthly round robin organized by a wonderful lady who teaches writing at a university, Rhobin Courtright. One of my essays is exactly on this topic.

Name one thing you couldn’t live without.


Where do you call home?

I am a citizen of the Universe. All sentient beings are my family. Right now in this life I live on a tiny rock planet in orbit around a below-average yellow dwarf star in a fairly typical galaxy.
This planet is mostly water, and there are magnificent, intelligent aquatic creatures, but no, I am not one of them, but a land crawler. Most of the land on this mudball is currently in its northern hemisphere, though the blobs of land do move around. However, the best part is in the south, called Australia, which means Southern Land in some language.
There is a place called Melbourne, which has a population of about four and a half million land crawlers (as distinct from the cetacean owners of the planet). This is an outlying settlement of Healesville, which is 50 miles to its east. That gives me magnificent sunsets, thanks to the air pollution so many people cause.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

Only one? That’s harsh. Being constitutionally unable to follow instructions, I give you a selection from the people I admire the most:
Dalai Lama: “My religion is kindness. The aim of enlightenment is to be of service.”
Mother Teresa: “Help one person at a time, and start with the one nearest to you.”
Greta Thunberg about the Glasgow climate talkfest: “Blah blah blah.”

For what would you like to be remembered?

Only two things matter in life: what you take with you when you die, and what you leave behind in the hearts of others. Everything else is Monopoly money.
What can you take with you: Lessons learnt, gained wisdom--or the opposite: hate, bitterness, blame and the like. So, you either advance in spiritual development, or go backward, or of course a bit of each. Look after the heart, the Love, and you can let go of everything else.

What scares you the most?

We are NOW in the 6th extinction event of Earth. When we have unraveled the web of life, we also fall though the hole. This is why I have been an environmental activist since 1972.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Whatever organization I join, I soon become the convener of the Antisocial Committee, which refuses to meet, as a matter of principle.
For some lucky people, conversation is lubrication. Then there is my kind. For us, it is information. Tell me to have a chat with Amy and I’ll sit beside you like a dummy, unless you ask the right questions.
I am the genuine, patented party-pooper.
In answer to your question, I give you three guesses.

What is the most daring thing you've done?

Being born. In a past-life recall, I’ve learned that in this life, either I am doomed to witness the extinction of humanity, or be part of the team saving us. This is set out in my fictionalized autobiography, Sleeper, Awake.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?

See previous answer.

What are you working on now?

Much of my work is environmental, humanitarian and political activism. I am here to change the world, and am doing my best. So, I am very active in the political party The Australian Greens. Australia’s voting laws are different, and voting for a small party does not prevent you from still choosing among the two dinosaurs. One are conservatives, mis-labeled “Liberal,” the others are Labor, whose policies are Liberal Lite.
Part of this is a fundraising activity for the Greens candidate in my local electorate. I currently run weekly online sessions in positive psychology, training participants to use the tools within From Depression to Contentment and Lifting the Gloom.

Oh, you mean WRITING projects?
I am well into a book on grief, working title If You Have Lost a Loved One: How to cope with grief.
I have posted snippets on my blog already. Sadly, it is greatly needed.
Four short stories, and one partly finished, are ready for a new anthology, REAL Human Nature, focusing on all that’s good about people.
My publisher has a series of “101 tips about...” and wants me to write one on depression, so that’s on the way.
There is the start of a book focusing on positive psychology, Above Normal, and several unfinished short stories that don’t fit the specs of the anthology-in-waiting.
But my major project is a 5-volume science fiction series, "The Doom Healer.” I am currently pestering agents and publishers with the first volume. All I want to say about it here is that my hero, Bill Sutcliffe, will one day be beside Harry Potter.

Finally, from Bob:

I will make sure to answer any comments, and one week after publication date of this interview, will randomly select one commenter to receive a free electronic copy of a book. Again, you have three guesses regarding title.


Bob Rich, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in psychology in 1972. He worked as an academic, researcher, and applied scientist until “retiring” the first time at 36 years of age. Later, he returned to psychology and qualified as a Counseling Psychologist, running a private practice for over 20 years. During this time, he was on the national executive of the College of Counselling Psychologists of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), then spent three years as a Director of the APS. He was the therapist referrers sent their most difficult cases to.

Bob retired in 2013, but still does pro bono counseling over the internet. This has given him hundreds of “children” and “grandchildren” he has never met, because many of these people stay in touch for years. His major joy in life is to be of benefit to others, which is why he wrote a book that’s in effect a course of therapy.

You can get to know him well at his blog, Bobbing Around.

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

Buy the book:
Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble  |  More