Do You Suffer from Food on the Brain?

Confession time here. It has taken me years to admit this, but here goes: I am a foodaholic. I love food, and I think about it almost every hour of the day.

My addiction began in the early days of writing the Samantha Newman Mystery Series. I didn’t recognize the issue until several readers complained that the food scenes in the stories made them hungry.

I was forced to look inward.

Truth is, I never intended to put so much food in my books, but as it turns out, I’ve unintentionally given my personal cravings to Samantha Newman, who loves food as much as I do. And apparently, readers may suffer from the same affliction.

It has been suggested that I offer recipes for a few of the dishes. I’ve toyed with the idea of running a reader contest to supply some of them. But it’s not the preparation that interests me. It’s the food—the aromas, the textures, the savory, sweet, or umami tastes that I crave.

Food on the brain

That’s what I suffer from when I write. I’m thinking about what to snack on right now, just like I did a few minutes ago, and an hour earlier, too. Like an alcoholic trying to fend off the urge, I’m always jonesing for something in the pantry.

And so, I’ve foisted these cravings onto Samantha Newman herself, and a few of her friends as well. Sam doesn’t cook, but her pal Gertie is a regular Julia Child in the kitchen. And Carter’s intrepid housekeeper, Dottie, makes country-style dishes to die for. You’ve never had pie until you’ve had a slice of Dottie’s.

Carter Chapman’s a man who knows his way around the kitchen, too. He can turn out a perfectly juicy Texas T-bone, or a from-scratch pasta sauce that makes Samatha swoon. And for breakfast, he serves up an awesome batch of pancakes. OMG, the pancakes!

There I go again… where was I?

There’s more food in the series than anyone could eat in a week, from gourmet offerings to down-home cooking, not to mention doughnuts, brownies, and lots of ice cream. (Oops, I just did mention them, didn’t I?)

Can’t help myself, I suppose. The good news is, as long as my food fantasies remain in my books, my readers and I can enjoy them calorie-free. Just don’t open that pantry.

Does reading about food make you hungry?

Gay Yellen is the author of the multi-award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries include The Body BusinessThe Body Next Door, and The Body in the News!

Contact her at

Book cover for Deep Blue Cover

Guest Interview with Author Joel W. Barrows

By Sparkle Abbey

Please welcome our friend and fellow author, Joel W. Barrows to the blog today.  Joel is a member of our local Sisters in Crime – Iowa chapter and we’ve mostly conversed via Zoom but recently had the opportunity to meet in person at a fun writers’ retreat – Only Books in the Building – and share some great conversation around a toasty fire with some of the other featured authors.

Author photo Joel W. BarrowsBefore we jump in with our questions, Joel, please share a little bit about yourself.

JB: I am the author of the Deep Cover thrillers published by Down & Out Books. I was born and raised in small town Iowa, though have lived in several larger cities over the years: Des Moines, St. Louis, Washington D.C. … Now, I’m back in Iowa, living in the Quad Cities, where I work as a district court judge. Besides writing, I enjoy boating and playing the guitar.

SA: Thanks! And now on to our first question. What started you on your writing journey?

JB: My wife always wanted to be a writer. Her father was a newspaper editor. She knew I was a bit of a storyteller, like my father. When she read a reference letter I had written for a friend, she suggested I try my hand at writing. One day, after I went on a rant about Big Pharma and what they might be capable of, she said, “that sounds like a good idea for a book.” I went upstairs to the computer. Two days later I had a 15-page outline for my first book, The Drug Lords, a romantic suspense thriller.

SA: And that leads us to another question. What do you write? And why did you choose that genre?

JB: I write about domestic terrorism organizations and the undercover operatives who combat them. I think this is the issue of our time. Many of the books also deal with racism and political issues. They say write what you know. My career has been in law enforcement as a state and federal prosecutor and as a judge. This is an area I know.

SA:  It certainly is and your experience undoubtedly accounts for the realistic details in your books! What about the writing process? What’s your favorite part of writing?

JB:  Inventing characters and writing good dialogue. I have always been a student of the way people communicate, verbally and nonverbally. Other than that, creating the tension.

Book cover for Deep Blue Cover

SA: Characters and dialogue rank up there as favorite parts of the creative process for us as well. So, what’s your least favorite part?

JB:  Really, I enjoy the whole process, though I suppose the research is my least favorite part. But even then, there are aspects of it that enjoy. Outlining can also be a challenge, and it is definitely not my strong suit!

SA:  Partly because we work as co-authors, we have to do quite a bit of planning when we start a project. How about you? How much do you plan before you start a book?

JB: I develop a basic story idea and spend a month or two fleshing it out and doing research. I might then outline the very basic structure of the book. After that, I kind of just let the characters lead me.

SA: Where do your best ideas come from?

JB: My own experiences, the many law enforcement officers, agents and prosecutors I’ve worked with, and the news.

SA:  It seems like some parts of the process come easy for us and others are more of a struggle. What part of writing is the most difficult for you to write? Characters? Conflict? Emotion? Or something else…?

JB: I probably don’t spend enough time on setting, which is something I’m working on.

SA:  What’s next? Are you currently working on a new book?

JB: The working title for the next book is “Deep Orange Cover: The Allegiance.” Let’s just say it involves a very gritty and frightening look at outlaw motorcycle clubs and some of their many illegal undertakings. I promise, it will grab and keep your attention!

SA: Having read your other books, we’re sure that it will! Thanks for talking with us today. We appreciate your time and we will watch for that next book!

Thanks again, Joel. Please check out the links below for more info about Joel and his books! 



Amazon Author Page


Anita and Mary Lee

Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)

They love to hear from readers and can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest, some of their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the website


My new novel, The Underground Murders, was released yesterday, July 1, 2024. Do you write (or read) political novels? Or novels that contain even a bit of a political message? Or novels that address societal concerns? Or novels that are pure entertainment? I chose the subject of my latest novel with the intent of speaking out against the direction in which our country headed and knowing there would be backlash. I’ve already received a tongue lashing from one of my advance readers. I’m hoping she, at least, gave some thought to the issue, that her mind, which probably wouldn’t be opened, would get a small crack. Since the book only arrived on the scene yesterday, I’m waiting to see who else protests.

In some of my novels in the past, I’ve included (in addition to murder) gambling addiction, false allegations of child abuse, child trafficking, greed, adultery, characters with a sense of entitlement, judicial corruption, mental illness, theft—well, basically, my characters breaking all Ten Commandments!

History is replete with nursery rhymes that have been interpreted as political commentary or as a rendering of historical events. At many authors give their interpretations of historical pieces. I particularly liked Author Lucinda Brant’s Part Two about nursery rhymes including “Georgy Porgy” and “Jack and Jill.”

Fairy tales were another way authors expressed themselves. A nice piece that discusses how fairy tales can be used as teaching tools today can be found at There is also discussion about how they form the basis for so many current books and movies.

At, there is a book review of Buried Treasures: The Political Power of Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes. Zipes discusses social ills, to put it mildly, and who the authors often were.

I’m a fan of John Sandford and his “Prey” novels. I was pleased to find he addressed environmental problems in his latest novel Toxic Prey, where the protagonists hunt down a mad scientist who believes the violent actions he intends to take will save the planet

It’s 2024 in the U.S. So far we still have the right to free speech. For the most part, we have the right to write what we want, unlike authors in some countries and those in history. I believe it’s my duty to address modern society’s ills. Though there is no guarantee what I write will be read, I fully intend to continue to write as my conscience dictates. If only a few readers will have their eyes opened, I will have accomplished my goal.

Susan P. Baker is a retired family court judge from Texas and the author of 15 published books. You may read more about her at



Let’s Talk Titles

crownLet’s talk titles – not king, queen and my personal favourite, goddess – but the titles that alert readers to what is about to unfold before their eyes.

I’d like to start by telling you a bit about myself – and my experience with titles. I am a freelance journalist and have written hundreds, actually thousands, of articles for print and online publications across North America and beyond.

One of the things you soon learn as a freelance reporter is that editors write the titles of articles. This is not always the case, but it is usually the case.  There are a number of reasons for this, and we’ll discuss those. In a minute.

First, I’d like to share with you the options article writers have when it comes to titles.

One, you can come up with a title that you think reflects the article, is clever or straightforward or funny – whatever attribute you think will appeal to readers. If the editor likes it, they may use it. If they don’t, they will write their own. More often than not, they will write their own.

Years ago, I did an article on a trademark dispute involving use of the Bluenose, Nova Scotia’s famous schooner. My title went something like this: Ship disturbing trademark battle erupts in Nova Scotia. I thought that was very clever. My editor did not. Well, she may have, but the title she used ultimately went something like this: Nova Scotia businesses barred from using Bluenose name.  On the other hand, I wrote an article on champagne and called it “Liquid Bling.” My editor wrote to say she loved the title, and she used it.

It never hurts to include a suggested title.

And no one usually knows the story as well as the writer. But good titles take time to craft, and on many occasions the articles I submitted did not have a title. They had a descriptor: Profile of Donald Duck, Article on the pros and cons of ducks vaping, Conference report from Ducks Unlimited. I was leaving the work to the editor.

What editors are looking for in an article title.

1. Something that grabs the reader’s attention.

2. Something that describes what the article is about.

3. Something that is not longer that the first paragraph of the article itself.

4. Something that makes them want to read the article or shows them why they should.

Are you likely to get all that in one title?

Probably not. But that is what is behind the words that introduce an article. Often those words are more dramatic or more urgent or more intense or more gripping than the article itself. Indeed, most of the time someone objected to an article I wrote it was the title that set them off.

And I didn’t write it.

Setting Matching by Saralyn Richard

Setting Matching

By Saralyn Richard


Should your reading setting match the setting of your current book? Not really. Otherwise, how could you enjoy historical or sci fi fiction? But some interesting things have occurred to me in the past when I read a book that matched the situation I was in at the time.

The first time I noticed this phenomenon was when I was sick with the flu. The rather unfortunate choice of books on my nightstand included Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. As I coughed and battled high fevers, I read about the English plague of 1666, and I shuddered all the more with the tension of the book.

I read Suzanne Morris’ Galveston while sitting on the beach, only a few blocks from the Victorian homes described in that book. The sights, sounds, and smells of Galveston surrounded me in real life, as I read Morris’ descriptions of them.

I read Emilya Naymark’s Hide in Place during a cold snap. I could feel the biting wind and hear the crunch of the snow as I read. The chills of the book became actual chills for me.

Not exactly serendipity, after visiting the National Aeronautics & Space Museum (NASA), I decided to read Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff. I had a greater appreciation for the astronauts’ personal journeys as described by Mr. Wolfe, because I had sat in one of the space vehicles mentioned in the book.

Of course, it’s not a requirement to select a book based on its location, time in history, or season’s matching the one you are currently in, but there’s an extra surge of fun when the match-up occurs.

If you’re looking for a sizzling summer mystery, Bad Blood Sisters might be up your alley. All the tension begins on the Fourth of July. And Quinn’s family, who owns a mortuary and sometimes jokes about death, decides that this summer death stops being funny.

Whatever you’re reading this summer, I hope you’re having a great time. Can you think of examples of setting matching that you’ve experienced?



Saralyn Richard writes award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries that pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. Her works include the Detective Parrott mystery series, BAD BLOOD SISTERS, A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL, NAUGHTY NANA, and various short stories published in anthologies. She also edited the nonfiction book, BURN SURVIVORS. An active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature. Her favorite thing about being an author is interacting with readers like you. Visit Saralyn here, on her Amazon page here, or on Facebook here.


Bethany Maines drinks from an arsenic mug

A Little Larceny…

Is it Larceny or Just Larcenous?

Short stories are their own art form and while I enjoy writing them, I will frequently wait for inspiration to strike rather than trying to force one into existence. And this year, I’ve only had one short idea that I wanted to work on—The Rage Cage.  However, once I do have a story, I really like to give it a chance to exist out in the world. Submitting a story is usually a long wait for a stack of rejections which may or may not be kind.  And usually I take a spreadsheet approach—pick my targets, check my deadlines, read all the lists, and be strategic about my submissions.  But this time I had barely finished The Rage Cage when I saw the deadline for this Larceny & Last Chances Anthology was quickly approaching. The fourth anthology from Superior Shores Press has a theme could not have been more perfect for my story. But even more desirable, the promised wait time between submission and rejection was only a few weeks. I leaped into action to get the story proof read and formatted per the instructions and turned it in. And then I had to wait…  Fortunately, The Rage Cage was accepted and I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Larceny & Last Chances features twenty-two stories that must include, yes, you guessed it, theft and a final chance at something.  In The Rage Cage my heroine Amber has a dog, a Dutch oven, and finally a plan.  Amber’s life has been complicated by poor choices, but when she realizes that she’s not entirely to blame for everything that’s gone wrong, she decides to pick herself up and steal her last chance at happiness and maybe sobriety.

The Superior Shores Anthologies have been nominated for multiple awards and I’m excited to have been included.  You can find all of the anthologies — The Best Laid Plans, Heartbreak & Half-Truths, Moonlight & Misadventures, and now Larceny & Last Chances –– at all book retailers.  (But here is a quick link to Amazon: )

Larceny & Last Chances Anthology Cover Image of a hand in a black glove, lifting a very large faceted ruby.Larceny & Last Chances: 22 Stories of Mystery & Suspense

Edited by Judy Penz Sheluk

Sometimes it’s about doing the right thing. Sometimes it’s about getting even. Sometimes it’s about taking what you think you deserve. And sometimes, it’s your last, best, hope.

Featuring stories by Christina Boufis, John Bukowski, Brenda Chapman, Susan Daly, Wil A. Emerson, Tracy Falenwolfe, Kate Fellowes, Molly Wills Fraser, Gina X. Grant, Karen Grose, Wendy Harrison, Julie Hastrup, Larry M. Keeton, Charlie Kondek, Edward Lodi, Bethany Maines, Gregory Meece, Cate Moyle, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Kevin R. Tipple, and Robert Weibezahl.

Release Date: June 18, 2024

Buy Link:



Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of action-adventure and fantasy tales that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind end. She participates in many activities including swearing, karate, art, and yelling at the news. She can usually be found chasing after her daughter, or glued to the computer working on her next novel (or screenplay). You can also catch up with her on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

History Speaks to Us

I was not a big fan of history in my teens and twenties. No history class ever made the factoids we had to memorize feel real or relevant to the world I lived in.

The History Buff

Then I married a big fan of history, and through his eyes, his love for that old stuff began to come alive for me, too.


In 1999, we traveled to Normandy together. I’d spent my junior year in college in France, and I remembered Normandy mostly for the delicious crepes and hard apple cider the region is known for. And of course, for the wondrous sight of Mont-Saint-Michel rising from a sea of tidal sands.

But I had never toured the D-Day beaches there, where the tide of World War II began to turn. Of course, my history-buff husband very much wanted to see them.

No Hollywood Movie

Most people have experienced film versions of the war, including depictions of D-Day. But no matter how “real” the filmmakers tried to make the movie, nothing—not the enormous scope of the effort, the danger involved, the bravery of thousands of young soldiers—nothing ever hit me in the gut, until I saw what those intrepid souls were up against on that day, and all the days after.

Already under fire from the German guns positioned atop the cliffs that loomed above the beach, they somehow mustered the fortitude to leap out of their landing boats, race for their lives across the vast beach past their dead and dying comrades, and scramble up the sheer, vertical cliffs. And if they succeeded, what then?

How did they do it?

Knowing that they faced more guns and possibly hand-to-hand combat if they were “lucky” enough to make it all the way up, how did they push on? It gives me chills to think about it.

As he does every year, last weekend my husband took a sealed jar of sand from the shelf and set it out on a table to commemorate those long-gone soldiers and their unimaginable courage. It’s the sand we had gathered from the beach in Normandy. It still looks as it did in 1999.

We enjoyed the whole of our trip to France that year. But the memory that lingers is of the site of that fateful day in 1944.  And I will never think of history the same again.

Has history ever come alive for you? How?

Please share your experience below.

Gay Yellen is the author of the multi-award-winning SamanthaNewman Mysteries include The Body BusinessThe Body Next Door, and The Body in the News!

Contact her at




The Times They Are a’Changing

By Lois Winston

I don’t like change. I much prefer the security and comfort of habit. I’m not the kind of person who climbs a mountain just because it’s there. I need a reason to step out of my comfort zone, lace up my hiking boots, and ascend into the unknown. When I’m confronted with the need to change, I first spend time soul-searching and deliberating.

Unfortunately, the publishing industry has been fraught with change for quite some time now. Gone are the days when an author had a home for life, and the people she worked with at the publishing house became like a second family to her. These days there’s a lot of divorce going on in publishing. More and more authors are being dropped because their sales aren’t strong enough. Or authors decide for various reasons that they need to leave their publishers. Both situations are very scary for the author. No matter which party institutes the divorce proceedings, fear of the unknown can overwhelm an author.

Twelve years ago, I realized I needed to institute a change in my life. I didn’t want to, but after several long months of soul-searching, I knew it was time to climb the mountain. I laced up those hiking boots and walked away from two new publishing contracts—one for additional books in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series and one for a new series, the Empty Nest Mysteries.

Was I terrified? You bet! Being published by a traditional publishing house is the Holy Grail to all aspiring authors. Or it used to be. Times have changed. Self-publishing, now often referred to as indie publishing, no longer has the stigma it once did because authors are in control, not questionable vanity presses.

Rather than sign with one of the small publishers interested in continuing my series, I went indie. I continued writing the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, adding a series of three connected mini-mysteries. I also published the Empty Nest Mysteries and several standalone mystery novellas. I reissued my backlist and published some unsold romances and romantic suspense novels.

Would I regret my decision? After all, not only had I given up the “legitimacy” of traditional publishing, but I’d also given up some decent advance money. There were nights I tossed and turned, wondering if I’d made the biggest mistake of my life by going indie, especially when I didn’t see the huge numbers of sales that other indie authors claimed to have.

Was it because I didn’t write super-sexy books with shirtless studs? Or was there some other reason? My traditionally published books had received stellar reviews, including starred reviews from Publishers Weeklyand Booklist for my mystery series. I’d also won quite a few awards for my fiction. Why weren’t my indie books selling better?

One mantra I kept repeating was something I’d heard from other authors: It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It was hard to convince myself since I seemed to be limping along, not sprinting. But eventually I saw that they were right. It took some time, but since publishing my first indie book, I’ve seen steady growth in sales. Can I support myself on what I’m making? Heck, no! But then again, I couldn’t support myself on what I made from traditional publishing.

However, as time has passed, I’ve become more comfortable with my decision. There’s much to be said about having total control over your writing career. What I’ve also discovered is that readers don’t really care who publishes you. Authors might constantly ask other authors, “Who’s your publisher?” but readers are only interested in good books. They don’t know PRH from Level Best. Mention “the Big Five,” and they’ll most likely think you’re talking about a college basketball conference.

Meanwhile, Sorry, Knot Sorry, the thirteenth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, is currently on preorder and releases June 4th. For those of you familiar with Anastasia, I hope you enjoy her latest adventure. For those of you who haven’t gotten to know her yet, I hope you will.

Sorry, Knot Sorry

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 13

Magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack may finally be able to pay off the remaining debt she found herself saddled with when her duplicitous first husband dropped dead in a Las Vegas casino. But as Anastasia has discovered, nothing in her life is ever straightforward. Strings are always attached. Thanks to the success of an unauthorized true crime podcast, a television production company wants to option her life—warts and all—as a reluctant amateur sleuth.

Is such exposure worth a clean financial slate? Anastasia isn’t sure, but at the same time, rumors are flying about layoffs at the office. Whether she wants national exposure or not, Anastasia may be forced to sign on the dotted line to keep from standing in the unemployment line. But the dead bodies keep coming, and they’re not in the script.

Craft tips included.

Buy Links (preorder now. Available June 4th)




Apple Books

Paperback and Hardcover editions available after June 4th.


USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website where can also sign up for her newsletter and find links to her other social media:

Justice in New France, 1734

My latest mystery book took me back in time and out of my comfort zone. Conflagration! is a historical mystery set in Montreal in 1734. It raises issues about slavery in Canada – and introduces us to a justice system that is distinctly different from 2024.

I posed 10 questions to the book’s main character Philippe Archambeau, a court clerk assigned specifically to document the case of Marie-Joseph Angélique almost three centuries ago. His answers are below. (Hint: You can also find them in the book.)
    Witnesses are a cornerstone of the French judicial system. We do this without lawyers. We do not allow lawyers to practice in New France. We are not English.
    I turned to the Criminal Ordinance of 1670 and other legal documents for this question. It does not take me long to find what I am looking for. Rumor alone constitutes legal grounds for accusing, arresting, and convicting an individual.
    Confrontation is part of the judicial process. It enables the accused to deny accusations directly. It gives witnesses the opportunity to rethink, perhaps to revise, their earlier testimony.
    The Criminal Ordinance permits torture for serious crimes. There are reasons for this. Torture can help extract a confession. This is important to get to the truth of a matter. There is also the issue of accomplices. Torture can help to draw out names that would otherwise die on an accused’s lips.
    The brodequins are very effective. Misleadingly and accurately called laced boots or tight boots, this particular form of torture involves packing a person’s legs between narrow boards tightly bound. Wooden wedges are then pounded between board and human flesh. Bone breaks. Boards do not.
    French law says all accused are presumed guilty. The accused must prove their innocence.
    The punishment: death, torture, or banishment. Or some combination of those. Being found guilty will mean an end to the life someone knows regardless of the punishment.
    The Code Noir explicitly states how slaves are to be treated in New France. It discusses punishment and freedom of movement, or more accurately, lack of movement. The Code also requires all slaves convert to Catholicism. It is an owner’s responsibility to ensure this happens. Sooner rather than later.
    Mais oui! The appeal judgment would be rendered by the Conseil Supérieur in Québec. It is the foremost judicial body in New France. Their decision will be final.
    There is a prison, of course. It is attached to the courthouse – and it is where the jailer lives.

About The Book

On a warm spring day in April 1734, a fire raged through the merchants’ quarter in Montréal. When the flames finally died, 46 buildings – including the Hôtel-Dieu convent and hospital – had been destroyed. Within hours, rumors ran rampant that Marie-Joseph Angélique, an enslaved Black woman fighting for her freedom, had started the fire with her white lover. Less than a day later, Angélique sat in prison, her lover nowhere to be found. Though she denied the charges, witnesses claimed Angélique was the arsonist even though no one saw her set the fire.

Philippe Archambeau, a court clerk assigned specifically to document her case, believes Angelique might just be telling the truth. Or not. A reticent servant, a boisterous jailer, and three fire-scorched shingles prove indispensable in his quest to uncover what really happened.

Angélique’s time is running out as Archambeau searches for answers. Will the determined court clerk discover what really happened the night Montreal burned to the ground before it’s too late?

Photo of author Sharee Stover

Welcome Special Guest – Suspense Author, Sharee Stover

by Sparkle Abbey

Photo of author Sharee StoverToday we’re thrilled to have a special guest stop by, friend and fellow author, Sharee Stover!

We have some questions for you but before we dive into those, please tell our blog visitors a little bit about yourself.

Hi all!  I’m extremely grateful to be joining you today. I’m a Colorado native transplanted to the Midwest. I joke that I was dragged down Interstate 80 by law enforcement. All true, since my husband was a Lieutenant for the State Patrol, (now retired). In all seriousness, I came willingly for the sake of love to live out my very own happily ever after with him and have never looked back. We have three amazing kids and a brand-new grandbaby. I write full-time alongside our newly rescued German Shepherd, Maverick. My husband and I love the outdoors. We enjoy long daily walks with Maverick as well as regular weekly runs together. In fact, we just completed our first family 5k run! It was a blast. Our youngest daughter plays violin in the youth symphony, so we spend a lot of time driving to and from those rehearsals and practices. Downtime for me includes crocheting and of course, reading (although I love audiobooks and true crime podcasts as well).

And now to our questions.

What started you on your writing journey?

I initially began writing with the intention of documenting my mother’s life story. She is a South Korean war bride, and her story is incredible. After ten years, I’m still working on the book, and I promise myself regularly that I really will finish it someday soon. However, the shift from non-fiction to fiction came after I attended a fiction writers bootcamp about fourteen years ago. I learned a ton and it started me on my journey to hone and write fiction.

What do you write? And why did you choose that genre or sub-genre?

I read mysteries, suspense, and romantic suspense so the transition to writing those genres was natural for me. I love the intensity of a deep who-done-it mystery, combined with nail-biting suspense, and the thrill of falling in love. I write heavy on the suspense because it’s my favorite component. I believe in keeping my stories authentic, especially in regard to police procedures. Having my own subject matter expert at home is a huge benefit. Solving a crime, investigating the case, and taking down the villain are my favorite parts of the story. Add in romance with a hunky hero, and it just doesn’t get better than that.

What’s your favorite part of writing?

Writing is my dream come true and I try to never take for granted the joy of doing it. Even on the hardest days. Brainstorming ideas is so much fun because it’s a blank slate to create characters, drop in clues to the mystery, solve the crime, and develop the hero and heroine’s personalities. If ideas just present themselves without my having to hunt them down or research for them, that’s even better. I enjoy editing because I at least have words to work with and expand on. I love writing about brilliant dogs who help solve the case too!

And what’s your least favorite part of writing?

By comparison, the final edits are a double-edged sword because it’s time consuming and can be frustrating. Especially if my weasel words are taking over the page and I’m having to kill them repeatedly.

How much do you plan before you start a book?

I am a plotter to the max because I need a detailed synopsis to keep me on track as I write. I spend several weeks creating that, as well as deep character development before I ever start writing the story. I require a solid mental visual of the story and characters that translate on to the page. I use programs like One Stop for Writers as well as a physical storyboard with sticky notes to plot out scenes and chapters. I also enjoy research which includes field trips to locations for my books and talking to experts like forensic specialists.

Where do your very best ideas come from?

True crime stories or forensic developments give me the best ideas. For me, the story almost always begins with the crime.

What part of writing is the most difficult for you to write? Characters? Conflict? Emotion? Something else?

Ugh. Conflict is a constant battle for me, especially in romance. Keeping the suspense high while establishing a strong reason for why the characters cannot be together that will sustain the story is tough.

What’s next? Tell us about your next book and when it will be published.

Book Cover for Her Duty Bound DefenderMy current release is Her Duty Bound Defender, and it’s book two in the Mountain Country K-9 series. Here’s the back cover blurb.

Threatened and falsely accused…She’ll need this K-9’s protection.

Only seconds after widowed mother-to-be Naomi Carr-Cavanaugh is rescued from two masked gunmen, she’s accused of multiple murders. Detective Bennett Ford believes he’s finally apprehended the Rocky Mountain Killer—until Naomi is attacked again. Now she must rely on Bennett and his K-9 partner for protection. But with threats closing in, she’ll have to prove her innocence first in order to stay alive…

The Mountain Country K-9 series is comprised of ten Love Inspired Suspense authors working on a continuity story while also developing each individual book. It’s a great exercise in cooperating with other authors as we must keep communication a priority to sync the storyline and characters. The book released on April 23, 2024 in print, ebook, and audiobook.


Up next is the second book in my Heartland Fugitive Task Force series, Guarded by the Marshal, releases September 24, 2024. Here’s the back cover blurb: Book Cover for Guarded by the Marshall

Tracking a fugitive…and shielding an infant.

When police chief Dani Fontaine gets an emergency call, she never expects to be ambushed by gunfire—or to find her friend’s abandoned baby. Now Dani must keep the child safe, while evading assailants and investigating a leak in her department. And that means working with Deputy US Marshal Beckham Walsh, the man who almost destroyed her career. Protecting a child while searching for stolen weapons becomes more perilous at every turn. And with a target on their backs and multiple suspects, it could be their deadliest mission yet…

The cover is amazing with a super hunky hero. Who doesn’t love that? The story is about the Heartland Fugitive Task Force commander Deputy US Marshal Beckham Walsh reuniting with his first love, chief of police, Danielle Fontaine. They’re pitted against each other with Dani defending her evidence technician accused of stealing Beckham’s case evidence. And of course, there’s a brilliant canine included in the story.

Here’s a bit more about Sharee’s background:

Author Sharee Stover with dogColorado native Sharee Stover lives in the Midwest with her real-life-hero husband, three too-good-to-be-true children, and a ridiculously spoiled dog. A self-proclaimed word nerd, she loves the power of the written word to ignite, transform, and restore. She writes Christian romantic suspense combining heart-racing, nail-biting suspense, and the delight of falling in love all in one. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Sisters in Crime. Sharee is a triple Daphne du Maurier finalist, winner of the 2017 Wisconsin Fabulous Five Silver Quill Award, and her debut, Secret Past, won Best First Book in the 2019 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. She is also a Publisher’s Weekly Best Selling author. When she isn’t writing, Sharee enjoys reading, crocheting and long walks with her obnoxiously lovable German Shepherd. Visit her at

Thanks for visiting The Stiletto Gang, Sharee! 

If you’d like to find out more about what Sharee is up to next, here are links to join her newsletter and how to find her on social media: