Book Babies: A Guest Post by Rosalie Spielman

I want to wish a very warm Stiletto Gang welcome to Rosalie Spielman. Rosalie has committed a portion of the proceeds of the sales of her book, Welcome Home to Murder, to the DAV – Disabled American Veterans. What a worthy cause! Read on to learn more about Rosalie and see how you can take part in this great fundraiser. –Shari Randall

Every author dreams of that day when the story that they labored over and loved into existence is birthed into reality. But what happens when the idea is not originally your own? I can tell you from experience, the birth is no less exciting!

After I was signed by my agent, the book I queried with went on submission and I casted around for new ideas just in case that one didn’t work out. Then my agent posted that Gemma Halliday Publishing was looking for more authors for their multi-author series, Aloha Lagoon. I decided to give it a shot. I did my research, sent some ideas, and a writing sample. A few months later, I was given a contract to write Death Under the Sea, which became the 16th book in the series.

This contract came with a few limitations. Setting, to me, is a character itself in cozy mysteries. But in this case, Aloha Lagoon and its resort were already established, as were the detective and various other characters. So, while the characters of Kiki Hepburn and her friends are completely my own, she belongs to the series, and even, in part, to the other authors. I’ve made the metaphor that while I did give birth to Death Under the Sea, I was a surrogate for the publisher. No less pain or love put into it, just not completely my baby.

Compare that to Welcome Home to Murder, which was completely mine from conception to birth. There is so much of me in this book – the main character, Tessa, is a veteran from a military family, and originally from a tiny town. I come from a military family, was a veteran, too, as well as being a military spouse for over two decades. Writing a military character was second nature for me. I understand the special challenges of the military life as well as being sensitive to the problems and pain some service members endure.

My children occasionally make me cry. That includes my book babies. There’s a scene in Welcome Home to Murder that I wrote crying, edited crying, and cannot read without crying. Still. Without fail, my eyes will begin leaking. In this scene, Tessa is reflecting on the losses she and her fellow service members have experienced. I will not pretend that I understand fully how service members who struggle with the unseen wounds of war feel. But I can sympathize – and empathize, to a point – and my heart aches for them.

When the book went out on submission, I had included some resources for veterans in need at the end of the manuscript. I was unsure that section would make it to publication. But when my publisher read it, they offered to donate a portion of preorders and early sales to one of the charities. This touched me so deeply. (So much, in fact, that I got choked up telling the crowd about it during my Malice Domestic panel.) I’ve chosen the DAV, or Disabled American Veterans, to receive the donation. This organization does so much for veterans who need help, and now, every reader who purchases Welcome Home to Murder in either format will also be helping. Welcome Home to Murder will be released on 7 June, 2022.

Originally from a tiny town in the Palouse region of Idaho, as a military brat, veteran, and military spouse (retired), Rosalie Spielman has moved more times than she has fingers to count on. Somewhere along the way, Rosalie discovered that she could make other people laugh with her writing. She enjoys reading to escape from the real world and hopes to give you the same with her stories.


The Truth About True Crime: Why I’ll Never Write One Again by Lynn Chandler Willis

My first book was a non-fiction account of a headline grabbing murder that happened in my own small town. As the owner, publisher, editor, ad sales (and design) and distribution manager of a small town newspaper, I covered the murder extensively, and often exclusively, in the paper.  Although the paper started small, we had a 13-year run and closed with a circulation of 10 thousand plus. Not too bad for an ad-supported bi-weekly newspaper. 

This murder was the only one I ever covered in the paper. The victim was a much-loved 28-year-old woman born and raised in the community. A devout Christian, she was very active in her church. In the thousands of hours of interviewing friends, family, witnesses, and co-workers not a single person said one negative things about Patricia Kimble. She was an all around good person whose family roots ran deep in the community. Her killer was––in keeping with true crime nature––her husband, but with a twist. Her husband hired his younger brother to kill her with the promise of a share of the $100,000 dollar life insurance policy the husband had just recently taken out on his wife. Ladies––if you’re reading this––a payout increase in a policy, a new policy when you’re already insured, these things are red flags. 

The brothers were also part of the community. Although their family roots didn’t run deep like Patricia’s, the boys grew up in town and their father was the minister at one of the local churches. We are talking about the bible belt so at any given crossroads, there was a Baptist church on one corner and a Methodist one on the other. So yes, the brothers, Ted and Ronnie Kimble, were preacher’s sons. 

Ronnie (the younger brother) followed through with the murder. He shot his brother’s wife in the head then set her body on fire. 

I sat through every single day of Ronnie’s six-week trial, furiously scribbling notes and interviewing friends and family of Patricia’s. The Kimbles were reluctant to talk. I watched home movies of Patricia’s childhood while sitting in her father’s living room. I devoured each page of her diary her mother entrusted others with. 

The book, Unholy Covenant, was published in the year 2000. My local Barnes & Noble hosted a book
release. Three television stations and an estimate of over 200 people showed up. It was standing room only. Many of the faces I recognized. Many I didn’t and that was unnerving. By this time, the Kimble brothers had their own “following” of loyal fans proclaiming the brothers’ innocence. The entire time I was at the podium taking questions about the book, I was waiting for a Kimble follower to throw out a question, or worse.

The book sold well and continues to this day with close to 60-thousand copies sold.  People started contacting me and asking if I’d write about their own experience with a murder that hit their own family. An uncle was murdered and the cops never investigated, they’d say. What they didn’t say was the uncle was a known drug dealer and although the cops did investigate, they had no evidence. Sorry about your uncle but his death isn’t dramatic enough. Or the woman whose son was shot down and killed in his own driveway by his estranged wife. Sorry, but your son’s type of murder happens every day. Nothing really headline grabbing there. Can you imagine telling a grieving mother her child’s murder isn’t compelling enough to fill 300 pages? I’m sorry for your loss but it’s just not that interesting. 

The first producer contacted me shortly after the book was released. He envisioned a feature-length movie. And Patricia wouldn’t be a boring leasing manager like she was, she’d be an elementary school teacher because who doesn’t love an elementary school teacher? And the lead investigator would need to be a rookie, not a veteran detective. I didn’t accept his offer and nothing ever came of it. 

After that, every few years a new round of producers would call. Lifetime TV, 48 Hours, Discovery Channel, and so on and so on. Would I mind contacting Patricia’s mother and her brother, they’d ask. It’d be great to have them on camera, again! 

Patricia’s mother and her brother agreed to the first few requests. After all, the producers would tell them, it’s keeping Patricia’s memory alive. I began to wonder how Patricia was ever going to rest in peace if we kept revisiting the horrible crime every few years? How was her sweet, soft-spoken mother supposed to move on when the new batch of true crime docu-dramas and podcasts made the rounds? 

It was maybe ten years ago, maybe more, that I sat with Patricia’s mother in her tiny, single-wide trailer, both of us sweating from the heat of the lights, and watched her quietly cry. Her daughter had been dead for several years by this time and the murderers were in prison for life, but here we sat forcing her to relive every second of the worst day of her life. Cut, the director would say, this time I want you to look directly at me and say it with a little more anger in your voice. Can you do that? You’re doing great by the way.  

More tears. 

The next time a producer reached out I told them upfront I wouldn’t contact Patricia’s mother for them. And I added that I doubted she’d want to participate. I was right and the project was scraped. A year or so ago, another producer contacted me and I actually recognized his name and some of the shows he’d been involved with. His IMDB credentials were impressive. It took me two weeks and a second email from him before I replied. The show was going to be based on my book, Unholy Covenant, and they were going to use passages from it, mainly the diary entries. I reluctantly agreed to participate because I liked the storyboard and how it would be presented. I told the producer to contact Patricia’s mother and tell her what was planned, and if she ok’d it, we could move forward. He came back a few days later and said Patricia’s mother told him she didn’t want to participate in this one but she wished us the best, and gave her blessing to the project. And I was ok with that.

I did the show with a clear conscience. It’s on the Oxygen Network and called Killer Siblings. A ridiculous title but aren’t they all? Killer this or killer that. Murder here, murder there. I’m so sorry for your loss but can you cry a little more for the camera? I get that your son was murdered but publishers and producers are looking for the stories that make the headlines. I get that he was well liked, a real good guy. But did he feed the homeless? Did he volunteer for Meals-on-Wheels? Did he transport rescue dogs up and down the east coast? No? Oh, I see. He was your average guy.

He was just a victim. 

Here’s the link to the Oxygen Network’s show Killer Siblings: The Kimbles. It’s from Season 3, episode 2.



Look! Life! Time… and The Saturday Evening Post

Yesterday, I cleared out my mother’s last storage space, and now a dozen boxes and the same number of overflowing paper sacks are stacked three deep in my living room, which now resembles the local Goodwill store. I’ve given away half the stuff, but the things that slowed me down are choosing the special items I want to give to relatives and friends, and a stack of old magazines: Look, Life, Time, and The Saturday Evening Post.

Each publication provides a fascinating glimpse into what the world was like decades ago. Mom was very particular in what she saved. History-changing movements like the U.S. political climate and space exploration were high on her list, as well as social change, especially reflected in the magazines from the ’60s.

The Saturday Evening Post from October 17, 1959 is the earliest issue. Nine articles featured everything from the changing role of the family doctor to a profile of F.D.R. There were four short stories and two serials in that issue, too, including a mystery by Erle Stanley Gardner. What a writer’s market it was!

The most recent issue is Life, from January, 1983 which reviewed the most meaningful events from 1982 and covered conflicts in Central America, the Middle East, Poland, Iran and Afghanistan. Sound familiar?       

But, the advertising! Just one peek at what was new and cool back then shows how different our world is today. Here are a few ads for your enjoyment: 
Exciting and New!
Will it work with my IPhone?


Who needs Google maps?

Braniff and Pan American. Long gone.

The convenience of Siri and Alexa is breathtaking, offering information about almost anything in an instant. And we no longer have to plug a lightbulb into a camera to take a snapshot. Too bad we haven’t made much progress on more serious problems that have plagued us for decades.

Bad news aside, at least good old Speedy still has a solution for our everyday aches and pains. Plop plop. Fizz fizz!


Gay Yellen writes the award-winning

Samantha Newman Mysteries including
The Body Business,
The Body Next Door
(available on Amazon)

Coming soon,

The Body in the News

First Signing at Malice Domestic

by Paula Gail Benson

For many of us, a return to
an in-person Malice Domestic this year was truly a reason for celebration.
Having the opportunity to greet and spend time with folks who have become like
family was completely joyous (even though an outbreak of Covid marred the
occasion at the end).

Elizabeth Crowens, Kaye George, Marilyn Levinson, Leslie Karst, me, and Kathryn O’Sullivan

Alan Orloff, Art Taylor, and Janet Laubgross

I’ll remember this Malice for many terrific experiences: (1) a blurring
genres panel with a group of terrific authors (marvelous moderator Elizabeth
Crowens, and fellow panelists Kaye George, Leslie Karst, Marilyn Levinson, and Kathryn
O’Sullivan); (2) being at the Agatha banquet table with wonderful authors and dear
friends Alan Orloff, who won for Best Young Adult Novel for his I Play One on TV, his wife Janet Laubgross,
Art Taylor and Tara Laskowski, John Copenhaver, Julie Hastrup,
and Marco Carocari; (3) enjoying a few quick meals with excellent cozy authors Dorothy
McFalls and Victoria Gilbert; (4) having a group photo with my super blogging
partners for Writers Who Kill; (5) spending some time with Art and Tara’s talented
son Dash; and (6) getting to tour Washington with a delightful guide, Aziz
Rakla, and the charming Michael Bracken and lovely Temple Walker (who would
leave the next day to celebrate the Edgar best short story nomination for “Blindsided”
written by Michael and James A. Hearn).

Tara Laskowski and John Copenhaver

Even with all of those and many other memorable moments (like hugs
from Edith Maxwell and Dru Ann Love and great conversations with Charlaine
Harris, Toni Kelner, Terrie Farley Moran, and Jeanne Dams), this Malice will
always stand out in my mind as the one when my short story “Reputation or Soul”
was published in Malice Domestic’s 16th anthology Mystery Most Diabolical and, for the
first time, I participated in a Malice signing. Following the live charity
auction, from 9:30 until 10:30 pm on Friday, April 22, 2022, the contributors from
Malice Domestic 15: Mystery Most Theatrical and Malice
Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical
who were
at the conference gathered at tables in the hallway outside the ballrooms and
became part of a conveyor style signing process.


I’m proud not only to be in a Malice Domestic anthology, but also
to have my story with the works of other authors I greatly admire. For the
signing itself, I got to meet Lori Robbins who shared a table with me. And, I’m
very grateful that a kind soul offered to take my copy of the anthology around
to get signatures while I participated in the signing.

At signing with Lori Robbins

you to all the Malice planners. You always make the event a wonderful occasion.
And, particular thanks for my signing experience, a dream come true.


Why ‘Google’ Isn’t a Synonym for ‘Research’


The quote about
Google and research belongs to author Dan Brown, who himself undoubtedly spent
days, weeks, months researching his complicated thrillers and was accused (but not
convicted) of lifting information from books, journals, and blogs written by
others which were available online. So, what was he talking about? There’s so
much information on the web. Isn’t Googling information a good way to research
a book in this day and age?

We all know research
can be a black hole, sucking up precious time while deceiving us into thinking we’re
accomplishing something. That’s one problem. The bigger problem for me is
deciding how much of that fascinating research to include in the book. Here’s
an example from my brand-new mystery,
The Shadow of Memory.

When my
characters travel from one location to another, I ask questions. What kind of
terrain will they encounter at that time of year? Are there any landmarks or
unusual features that will capture their attention? Since I can’t always be in
the UK, I have Google Earth. Which leads to Wikipedia and all

sorts of
information connected with my story. While researching Vivian Bunn and Kate’s drive
from Long Barston to the fictional village of Upford, for example, I happened
upon the quaintly named “crinkle-crankle walls,” typical of East Anglia. I was

In an early draft
of the novel, Vivian Bunn is reading to Kate about local history as they drive:

“It says there’s no market in Upford anymore,” Vivian said.
She was reading something

on my cell phone again. “Their claim to
fame is a crinkle-crankle wall running along the main north-south
road—smaller than the more famous one at Easton but just as picturesque.” She
looked up. “I’ve seen the one at Easton.”

“What does crinkle-crankle mean?”

“Let’s find out.”
She peered at my phone screen. “A crinkle-crankle wall is an unusual type of
serpentine garden wall found mostly in East Anglia and especially in Suffolk.
The walls began appearing in the seventeenth century when Dutch engineers were
draining the fens. Because of their stability, they were especially well suited
to the soggy, unstable ground. Sometimes as many as fifty bricks high, they
actually require fewer bricks than a straight wall
—Really? I wouldn’t have
thought that—because a wavy wall can be built one-brick thick whereas a
straight wall needs at least two layers of bricks. The American president
Thomas Jefferson incorporated serpentine walls into the architecture of the
University of Virginia, which he founded in—
Look! She screeched so suddenly I nearly
veered off the road. “There it is.”

Sure enough—a sinuous red-brick wall
snaked along the road on our right. We were so taken by the sight, we almost
missed the turning toward the village center.

Yes, I was beguiled by my research. No,
crinkle-crankle walls had absolutely nothing to do with the story. They needed
to go. Here’s the final version: 

The address we’d found for the Beaufoys—Wren
Cottage, 27 Bramble Walk—led us to

east side of the market town of Upford, close to the Essex border. A sinuous

snaked along the road on the right. We were so taken by the sight, we almost

turning toward the village center.

The problem with research-by-Google is
too much information and the temptation to include it in the book. I’ve learned
my lesson. Now, when I’m tempted to chuck in that captivating bit of research,
I ask myself four questions:

1. Is this information necessary to
orient the reader in the scene?

2. Does it draw the reader in
emotionally or viscerally so she is experiencing the scene along

    with the characters?

3. Does the information move the plot
forward in any way?

4. Does it reveal anything significant
about the characters?

If my answer is four “no’s,” I leave it

What is the most interesting piece of
information you’ve ever found while researching a book?

Did it make it into the finished
manuscript, or did you end up cutting it out?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Connie Berry writes the Kate Hamilton Mysteries, set in the
UK and featuring an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. She
was raised by antiques dealers who instilled in her a passion for history, fine
art, and travel. Her debut novel won an IPPY Gold and was an Agatha Award
finalist. Connie is a member of MWA, CWA, and SinC. She loves history, foreign
travel, cute animals, and all things British.









 by Bethany Maines

One of my manuscript was recently rejected.  And you
can guess how I feel about that. Not good. 

I think the harshest part was that the editor took the time
to reject it personally.  When you get a form letter, you can pretend that
no one really read it and that your genius will go undiscovered another day. When
they take the time to tell you why they hate your book-child and why it’s
deformed and hideous then it feels a little personal.  I admit that the
individual may not have used those EXACT words.  But that’s what it feels

But the problem with writing is that if you want to have your work read by
other human beings then first it has to… be read by other human beings. 
And those jackasses keep having opinions! The nerve! The unmitigated

The other problem with this particular work is that I’ve
also written it to be a script.  I
believe the idea is imminently wonderful and would be a great TV show.  However, TV and Publishing have two wildly
different esthetics.  The notes I’ve
received on the script were that it should be funnier.  The book notes said there was too much
banter.  Or in other words… too

Here’s the idea.

Vampire Heist (based on A Bite of Paris): When the vampire Nicholas de Cervon discovers that his
former home is now a museum he reunites the old horde to pull off the heist of
his after-life and get revenge on the Igor who betrayed him.

I don’t know what to tell you.  I like banter.  Will I be taking another editorial pass at it
to see if I can make my characters express the dreaded ennui and tragedy that
makes up the drudgery of life (places hand dramatically on brow)… yes, I
probably will.  Will I add a pratfall to
the script… maybe.

Meanwhile, today is #screenpit over on Twitter. If you like
my vampire idea and agree that it should be a TV show, head on over and give me
a retweet today.


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous
short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some
serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her
daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

Untitled Post

Why Books
are Better for Your Brain

By Saralyn


Since the
beginning of television, debates have been held over the benefits of reading
over TV watching or vice versa. Some of the tried-and-true arguments include:

allows you to form pictures in your brain, which involves more creativity and
imagination than having them spoon-fed.

time is all quality time, with no time wasted on commercials.

are portable and less expensive to use.

delve into thought-provoking issues more thoroughly than TV shows.

is a quieter, more peaceful activity.

can read on your own schedule.

don’t have to worry about whether you subscribe to the right channel.

All great
points, but here are a few more that come from educational (and brain-based)

unlike watching or listening to media, allows the brain to stop, think,
process, and imagine the narrative in front of you.

creates connections in the brain that promote language, cognitive, social, and
emotional development.

rewires the brain and creates new white matter.

puts the reader in the shoes of the character in the book, figuratively and
biologically. It creates empathy.

increases attention spans and encourages sequential thinking.

increases vocabulary.

rewires your brain, so that you can imagine alternative paths, remember
details, picture detailed scenes, and think through complex problems.

In short,
reading makes you more knowledgeable AND more functional. In other words, if
television is a bag of potato chips and a soft drink, reading is a warm and
tasty meal and a delicious smoothie.

My years
in education have proven to me over and over again how important it is to be a
good reader. Literacy is the basis for all learning (even mathematics and
music, which are other forms of reading). The more you practice reading, the
better able you will be to comprehend, analyze, compare and contrast,
synthesize, and evaluate. No one I know of has ever made those same claims for
watching television.

I’m not
advocating the abolishment of TVs or television programming. But I do recommend
making reading a priority when carving out your leisure time. Whatever you
choose to read, you’ll have excellent entertainment, and your brain will thank

Richard’s award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children’s book
pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor
houses and disadvantaged urban high schools.
 Saralyn’s most recent release is Bad Blood Sisters. A
member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America,
Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature at the Osher Lifelong Learning
Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Her favorite thing about being an
author is interacting with readers like you.
here, on her
Amazon page 
here, or on Facebook here.



Happy Monday, everyone!  Along with Stiletto Gang, which I’m pleased to belong to, I’m on a Facebook group with several romantic suspense, paranormal romantic suspense, and mainstream suspense authors. After pouring our hearts and souls into a novel, promotion is one of those pesky details we authors do, lest no one learns anything about our latest creations. Addressing this problem, Author Sharon Wray (one of my Golden Heart sisters) and I brainstormed a possible solution. What if we came up with a promotions galore strategy and focused on a DAY OF May Releases.

And that’s what we did! If you’re on Facebook YOU’RE INVITED to subscribe to the MIDNIGHT GARDEN READERS GROUP to help us celebrate. (Who knows there might be giveaways) !!!  

Along with Sharon and Donnell, debut author Kathleen Donnelly who has a K-9 romantic suspense (CHASING JUSTICE release date May 24th) will be dropping by. Midnight Garden Authors, USA Today Bestselling Authors Christine Glover, Misty Evans, Award-winning, multi-published Zoe Dawson, are also touting their May releases. Need more incentive? Well, wait, there’s more! The Midnight Garden Readers Group is home to many more authors; they just don’t have books out this month. 

Since this is Sharon’s brainstorm, I thought I’d tell you about this talented author’s exciting May 17th release (available for preorder):

Is love worth risking everything for?

Rose Guthrie, a reluctant erotic dancer, hasn’t trusted
anyone since her parents’ death. Yet, to make money for her brother’s heart
transplant, she agrees to deliver a sealed box to a mysterious buyer. Until the
box—and the seller—disappear. Not surprised by the betrayal, her situation
becomes more dangerous when she learns that two brutal arms dealers also want
the box and are willing to kill everyone she loves for it. With one clue left,
she breaks into Doom—Savannah’s violent, illegal fight club. Unfortunately,
Doom’s referee—the sexy, ex-Army Ranger, Kade Dolan—stands in her way. Although
she harbors a secret attraction to Kade, she can’t let him stop her. If she doesn’t
deliver the box on time, she’ll lose everything. Including her own life.

Rose doesn’t trust ex-Army Ranger, ex-con Kade Dolan, but
that’s okay—he doesn’t trust

himself either. Why? Because he lies to everyone
about everything, including his time in Leavenworth and his job as an illegal
fight club referee. Then there are his two side gigs. The first as an informant
for the Prince, the leader of a secret, two-thousand-year-old private army. The
second, loving from afar the beautiful, secretive Rose Guthrie. After the
Prince discovers Rose is the courier of a lost 18th century artifact, he orders
Kade to help her find the box before their greatest enemy does. If they
succeed, Kade must return it to the Prince. If they fail, Kade must kill

Betrayal or death. When faced with an impossible choice,
Kade can’t lie anymore, at least not when it comes to what he’s about to do the
woman he loves. But when Rose uncovers Kade’s lies, they learn a terrible
truth—the 18th century box holds a secret far deadlier than they imagined. A
secret that could destroy them all.



Sharon, a Jersey girl who landed in Virginia, is a
chemical & patent librarian who once studied dress design in the couture
houses of Paris… and worked as a Red Cross caseworker in South Korea. Because
it took her forever to decide what she wanted to do when she grew up, she now
writes romance and women’s fiction novels filled with suspense, adventure, and

Her bestselling Deadly
romantic suspense series is set in a world with scary assassins
who bow before killing, sexy Green Berets seeking redemption, and smart, sassy
heroines who save them all. It’s also a world where, since Sharon is slow and
clumsy, her chances of making it out alive would be slim. 

She also writes small-town contemporary romances, gothic
romantic mysteries set in the sultry south, and Christmas stories. Because
nothing brings out the romantic feels more than stories set during the

Army wife, mother of twins, and caretaker of rescue
dogs, she’s repped by Deidre Knight and Kristy Hunter of The Knight Agency.


 Follow her on Social Media to keep up with new releases,
sales, and giveaways.








Midnight in the
Garden FB Group

Isn’t it Romantic
Book Club FB Group


So there you go. And while Sharon has romantic suspense covered, I’m targeting readers who  prefer mystery, suspense, and thrillers.  Releases 5/31, review now on NetGalley, and available for preorder:  

 This killer won’t stop . . . until she’s dead

When Lt. Everett T. Pope is notified of an explosion in downtown
Denver close to the judicial buildings, his first instinct is gas leak. No such
luck. As Incident Command and Pope’s own Major Crimes unit move in, he discovers
he knows the intended victims—an Assistant U. S. Attorney—and Pope’s former
partner, now a private investigator, has died shielding the injured AUSA with
his body.

As ATF and the FBI take over investigating the bombing and unraveling
motives behind the murder attempt, Pope is relegated to a peripheral role. But
the injured AUSA’s aunt is a United States senator used to getting results. She
turns to the team that solved the Black Pearl Killer murders with a very big
ask—find her answers and locate the bomber.

FBI Special Agent Brian DiPietro must recall his entire cold case
team from their far-flung assignments knowing he’s being asked to do the
impossible. The senator, however, doesn’t know the meaning of the word. All too
soon, DiPietro finds his team working alongside ATF on a red-hot mission.  One that uncovers a decades’ old cold case.

To learn more about Donnell, check out her website at Author Donnell Ann Bell | Romantic Suspense & Crime Fiction | 

Hope you’ll join us on May 31st, for a day of May releases!

So You Want to Write a Book

By Sparkle Abbey

Part 1: Where to Start

All of the wonderful authors in this group have written books. Some have written many books, but we all started somewhere. 

Is there a book in you? If you believe there is, you’re not alone. 

There’s a statistic floating around the internet from a USA Today survey that took place almost twenty years ago that says 81% of Americans feel they have a book in them. We can only assume that percentage is closer to 90% now with many people taking stock of their life goals. Maybe more than 90%.

The first question is: Just because you want to write a book, should you? And the answer is: Maybe.

Writing definitely stretches your creativity and enhances your life. It also can impact the lives of other people. Which is a great reason to write that book!

However, here’s the reality — while anyone can write a book, not everyone will. Why is that? Mostly it’s because writing is hard. And writing, well, is even harder. In the words of Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing, but I love having written.” 

But though it is hard to write well, the truth is that writing is like a muscle. The more you exercise, the stronger you become. The more you write, the more you learn and the stronger your writing becomes. For many, setting aside the time to do that work is the hardest part.

For all of you who have said you’d like to write a book, but don’t really know where to start, we want to help you get moving. No more just thinking about it, we want to help you take action. In the next few months, we’re going to talk about the steps you need to take to write a book. So, let’s get started! 

You’re ready to put in the work.  Where do you begin?

Well, first you need to have something to say. Are you passionate about a story idea that you’d love to read, but no one has written? Do you have a message or belief you’d like to share with others? What idea is constantly on your mind? What is your story worth telling?

Here’s your homework. Pull out a notebook and jot down ideas. Right now, all ideas are good ideas. Don’t overthink it. While you’re recording your thoughts also think about what type of

book you’re going to write. Fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir, cookbook. 

If you’d like, please feel free to share in the comments what you might want to write a book about. And if you have questions, feel free to ask. 

Next month we’ll talk about what happens once you’ve settled on your idea!

Sparkle Abbey’s latest story (written in first person) is a short but fun one. If you’ve not yet
checked out PROJECT DOGWAY, this is a great time to do that. 

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 FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the website

Clicking Our Heels – Favorite Form of Exercise

Clicking Our Heels – Favorite
Form of Exercise

In the past, we’ve discussed what the Stiletto Gang
members would be doing if we weren’t reading or writing, but the question came
up as to what our favorite form of exercise is.


Debra H. Goldstein: 
I’m a couch potato. During the pandemic, I thought I should do something
so I ordered a Cubii exerciser. After a week, I shrouded it. Periodically, I
look at it from the couch.


Lynn C. Willis: Hiking with Finn.


Barbara J. Eikmeier: Favorite doesn’t necessarily imply I
do it with any regularity, right. I love swimming laps, but mostly I ride my
stationary bike.


Donnell Bell: 


Gay Yellen: Dancing with my husband. He took me dancing on
our first (blind) date, and that almost sealed the deal right there!


Lynn McPherson: I love walking.


Bethany Maines: Karate! I’ve been taking and teaching
karate for over a decade. It’s a great place to keep fit and connect with my


Mary Lee Ashford: My favorite exercise is walking, outside
if the weather permits. I also enjoy yoga though my knees are not enjoying it
lately, and I love dance though I don’t often get the opportunity except around
the house. In which case, I hope no one is watching!


Shari Randall: I love Zumba and country line dancing.
They’re so much fun they don’t feel like exercise to me at all.


Linda Rodriguez: Dance (or gardening) used to be mine. But
lately, it’s physical therapy.


Anita Carter: I love kickboxing!


T.K. Thorne: Before Covid, I did Akayama Ryu martial arts
twice a week. This year I learned a Tai Chi series and that has really kept me
sane. I like to walk outside where there are trees and space to breathe.


Debra Sennefelder: I love exercise. It keeps me in shape
and it keeps me sane. I love weight workouts, walking/treadmill workouts,
Pilates and Yoga. I aim for five to six workouts a week, so I like a lot of


Kathryn Lane: Walking in a beautiful setting, especially in
the mountains, brings me great joy and peace of mind.


Dru Ann Love: Definitely a couch potato. Give me a sci-fi
movie and I’m in heaven.


Kathleen Kaska: I love running. I just completed my
twenty-fourth marathon.


Saralyn Richard: Long walks (working out plot points while


Robin Hillyer-Miles: Yoga.


Lois Winston: Walking.