Sunday, December 9, 2012


Never did I think I would see the day when I would shamelessly push, promote, advertise, and in general, throw myself on the mercy of the eWinds out there. Between the Alvarez Family and the Persephone Cole Mystery Series, I hawk like a barker for a 3rd-rate carnival.
Facebook and I are close pals. I'm even learning how it works. I tweet like nobody's business. If I could afford to hire a plane whose duff dragged a long sign overhead promoting my books, I would. Maybe even a dirigible. Roadsign, anyone?
And I used to have so much pride. But pride doesn't get you sales, nosirree. I have discovered that maybe I'll never do the sales of Agatha Christie or Janet Evanovitch, but if I sit still and wait for the fates to do it for me, it might never...okay, will never happen at any level.
Man oh, man. I had no idea that being a writer involved so much of this end of the stick! It seems now the luxury of writing is the actual writing, itself!
Any thoughts on this, dear writing pals?
And before we leave, here's my buy page at Amazon, just to keep this 'ho thing going!!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Jingle All The Way!

I love Christmas. Always have. Ever since I found out the tubby guy in the red suit did NOT give me those presents once a year, I’ve been on a high. Let’s face it, Santa’s a little weird. Definitely someone my doctor would want to talk to about his weight. Further, what’s with the white trim, fella? Everybody knows when you’re a short zaftig person, the last thing you need is white fur running horizontally around your belly. I mean, come on. Talk about no clue.

When it’s all said and done, I really like it that my mom, a single, struggling mother of two, always managed to put something under that tree year after year. True, often it was a pair of much needed shoes, socks, or underwear. Occasionally, though, it was the gift of gold - new skates, a book, and once, when I turned fourteen, a portable typewriter. My childhood, you see, took place during the Punic Wars, when a computer or iPad was just a gleam in a yet-to-be-born entrepreneurial eye.

I remember opening up that typewriter like it was yesterday. The goldest of gold. Small enough to haul around with you wherever you went. The very thing for a fledgling, young writer. Ah, the prose, the poetry, the stories that typewriter helped me write! I wish I had it now; it was pure magic.

I believe the act of giving is Christmas. It’s all of us when we’re at our best. We don’t need those we love to sit on our knee and rattle off a wish list. We know their heart’s desires, just as they know ours. If we can make those desires a reality, we will. Christmas is love, hope, and the giving of ourselves.

So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he’s you.
And moving on to a plug, have you heard about my latest book out? Right in the holiday spirit, if you like a dead body or two!! See below!

Persephone Cole and the Christmas Killings Conundrum

In late December, 1942, Persephone (Percy) Cole, one of Manhattan's first female PIs, has been hired to find out who killed a Santa Land elf and left the body in the storefront window of a swank 5th Avenue jewelry store. Was it the spoiled heiress whose big buck handbag was found on the scene? Or was it the rat who broke out of the big house to settle a score? Shortly after, the corpse of the Christmas Angel is discovered stuffed in Mrs. Santa's workshop. Will Santa Claus be next? With a penchant for Marlene Dietrich suits, pistachio nuts and fedora hats, this working mother finds diamonds to the left of her, diamonds to the right, and skullduggery aplenty. Armed with her noodle and a WW I German Mauser, Percy is determined to solve these crimes or it just might be the 'kiss off' for Christmas.

My latest offering!

Buy page for Persephone Cole and the Christmas Killings Conundrum:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tagged: The Next Big Thing - Find Out What I'm Working On!

I’ve been tagged in a blog game called The Next Big Thing. The game involves authors answering questions about their work in progress (aka WIP). So I am “it” for the moment, and I am off to the 20th century, 1942, to be exact, to talk about a murder taking place under the Big Top. Come along with me back to the Ringling Brothers Circus and World War II! Leave a comment, if you like!

Here we go. . . my answers to the OFFICIAL “Ten Questions for The Next Big Thing”:

1. What is the working title of your book?
Death of a Clown

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
This book started with the circus memories of my mother, around whom I’ve created the protagonist, Jeri Deane. The cover to the right is a real picture of my mother sitting on the trunk of an elephant in the early 1940s. This picture has a nameless clown extending his arms to Mom. This started my crafty, murderous mind working. What if this clown got murdered? Could Jeri solve the crime? Well, why not, I asked myself?  At that point, I was off and away.
I would like to add that to my knowledge, no murders have taken place in the circus. However, one of the characters in the book says: “There’s never been a murder under the Big Top before. Unless you count Miss Brassy’s Performing Poodles. That act could kill a group of Shriners.”

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Mystery noir. It has humor and is very fast paced with everything taking place in less than three days, but there’s a definite noir feel about it.

 4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That should only happen, but we’ll go with the scenario. The protagonist, Jeri Deane, is only 24-years old. There aren’t many established actresses out there to do the role at that age. They’d have to find someone new. Ah! If only Catherine Zeta Jones were a few years younger, she’d be perfect. And Brad Pitt would be a great Whitey.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Under the canvas sky of the Big Top no one talks about their past, but murder has a way of bringing deadly secrets out into the open.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This is the first time I’m going to do it My Way. A writing buddy and close friend, Baird Nuckolls, and I are forming a publishing company called The Wives of Bath Press. Death of a Clown will make its debut sometime in January.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Six years, on and off. It was a bear. I changed POVs from 3rd to 1st, half-way through. Then after I completed the novel, and it came in at 85K, I went back and changed tenses from past to present. That took months. But I believe I finally got it right.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Probably similar to Like Water for Elephants, although I have deliberately not read the book nor seen the movie. I don’t want to be accused of lifting anything, even accidentally. 

 9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by my mother, who was a performer at Ringling Brothers Circus. The history, coupled with her stories and love of the circus, were a true inspiration for me. The Big Top was at its zenith during the 40s. That was its golden age, if you will. There were 51 elephants, thousands of other animals, and nearly 2000 people involved in the Big Top. The circus was a traveling city going from town to town on one of the longest trains ever riding the railroad tracks. It was often bigger than most of the towns it visited. Mom had an amazing life there. Furthermore, that’s where she met and married my father. He was an elephant trainer.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This is a real account of the day to day lives of circus people during that era ,colored significantly by the outbreak of the war. It was like no other place, no other time, and I believe the novel has that feel. Mom has many journals and photos of then and since I’ve been hearing these stories since I was a child, I feel as if I was really there. It’s an insider’s look at the world of the Big Top. Plus you get a helluva mystery, if you don’t mind my saying!


Well that’s it and it’s been a lot of fun. Thanks again to Camille Minichino for tagging me. Camille is in many ways one of my mentors. She's as nice a lady as she is a good writer.
I am about to pass the torch on to writers whose work and style I admire. I wonder what their next BIG thing is? Let's see together!!

Chastity Bush, author of A Taste of Terror and other fine novels

Mhare Fraser, debut novel working title Of Mermaids and Mockingbirds

Andrew Kloak, debut novel, Working the Glass, out soon

Diana Montane, I Would Find a Girl Walking, about serial killer Gerald Stano

BairdNuckolls, acclaimed writer of short stories, children's books, and other genres

Please visit their blogs. They will be publishing their answers to the questions between the October 29th and November 4th
 Next week I'll ask each of these delightful people to guest on my blog, writing about anything they want. That should be fun!!

Message for the tagged authors and interested others:
Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ginger Simpson, a Writer of Substance

I am a fan of Ginger Simpson's. It isn't just that she's an across the board genre author of some note, it's that she's a helluva gal. It shows in her work. There's always some small life-lesson we can take away from her writing, even if it's don't take yourself so seriously; keep your sense of humor.
From Young Adults to Westerns to Romance to Mystery, there's always a piece of Ginger there for the taking. 
Zip on over to Ginger's page on Amazon
and see 40, yes, 40 books written by this prolific author. Here is the cover of just one of her books, Hattie's Heroes. I believe Hattie's Heroes is her latest offering and can't wait to read it. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get around to all of her work, only 4 or 5 books, but I've loved the ones I've read. Diverting, entertaining, real life with a touch of magic.

Like the rest of us, Ginger has had her share of misfortune. Life has a way of being generous in the negative sometimes. But it never affects Ginger's writing. It never affects what she has to offer as an author. If you haven't read any of her books, you're in for a treat. Sometimes soft and mellow, sometimes harsh and shocking, sometimes romantic and loving, but always sprinkled with the unique Ginger Simpson point of view. A very big plus.

  For a little bit more about this author, visit Ginger Simpson's Website -

Her books can also be found at:
 Books We Love -
MuseItUp -

Be sure to come back on the 22nd of October, because I've been...
Tagged: The Next Big Thing - Find Out What I'm Working On!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Only Burn is Heartburn

Monday I'm giving a lecture on the art and craft of writing. As if I know more than my cats about this. But that's the funny thing about being published. Suddenly, everybody thinks you know something. Maybe you do, maybe you don't. You give it a shot. I do know a decent novel is not done with smoke and mirrors. It takes a modicum of talent, a studious amount of technique, and a helluva lot of work.
It's like playing tennis. The more you practice, the better you get. Now I'm not talking about the likes of Roger Federer. There's a certain type of genius going on there. A touch of 'forever' in what you do. The works of Michelangelo, Nijinsky, Mozart, Caruso, Elenora Dusa - just to name a few - have soared above the rest of their peers in their particular field. The guy with the lid on the left, BTW, is Nijinsky. When he died, he left his feet to science for study. They took the bones apart to see how he managed to soar so high in all his dance steps. They found normal bones.
I never considered myself a soarer. Certainly not on the same plane as literary geniuses. I have no great American novel burning within me. In fact, the only burning sensation I have is solved with Tums. Could be the ice cream.
However, I do know a thing or two about writing, I love to write, I am committed to being better at my craft, and hope I turn out a decent novel or two.
Sometimes you need a trampoline to get as high as those other guys. I've got one on order. Meanwhile, happy writing to us all. It's a gift to be able to do it at all, never mind eternity.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writer's Slump

I don't have writer's block. If need be, I can sit down and write something. Aren't I doing it now? Well, I didn't say I could write something of value, just something. However, I have been working on the final cleanup of a novel I've been penning for the past six years, getting it ready for publication. You know how that goes: a tag line, a blurb, another tag line, a better blurb, a tag line that might make someone want to pick up the book and read it, a blurb that makes sense. Daunting.
Then there's the cover, back cover, the spine - and I'm glad something's got one - because my spine has turned to jelly.
What happens is after maybe 45-minutes of doing this and that on this project, I'm shot for the day. I don't want to go back to the draft of the 3rd book of the Persephone Cole series and get Percy out of the kitchen. I'm okay with leaving her there, gaining weight, not getting anything done on her latest case, because I am unwilling to switch gears from my stand alone mystery noir back to the Persephone Cole series.
This is unlike me. I usually like to juggle 2 to 4 writing projects at the same time. Helps to keep me from getting writer's block. I am now wearing that block around my neck. See albatross below and to the right.

I'm feeling overwhelmed. Lethargic.
Doesn't that closet need to be cleaned out? You know, you've really been neglecting the cats. Grab that toy and go play with them. Go kiss your husband, go take your shoes to be re shod, go to blue blazes, but whatever you do, Heather Haven, don't get any writing done.

Big sigh.

Okay, I'm done grousing. After I come back from the post office, I really have to get back to my writing. I really, really do.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Heap of Trouble is a Heap of Good Writing

Join me in getting to know author Lorrie Unites-Struiff a little bit better. A Heap of Trouble is a western humorous romance action story. That's a lot of stuff for Struiff to put in one book, but she does it with style! This book has something for everyone and I love the cover. It's, of course, by Suzannah Safi.
Lorrie lives in West Mifflin, PA, thirty minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. She lives at home with her husband and her favorite toy—a computer.
 Once a gold medalist teacher/manager for a big-name ballroom dance studio she has retired and now enjoys the quiet life of writing and watching TV. But she loves to have lunches with local authors to keep abreast of the challenging world of publishing.
Lorrie writes in many genres so you never know what she will come out with next. She never wants to bore her readers and enjoys the thrill of entertaining them by writing a good story.
Here's a few answers to questions, so we can meet the real Lorrie!

Thank you so much for the invitation to guest on your blog today, Heather.

1.      What is your favorite book?
Plum Island by Nelson DeMille. The first in his John Corey series. I love the way he can take a tense situation with gun fights, chases, etc. and still make me laugh. It’s a wonderful talent I wish I had.

        2.      Who is your favorite writer?
Oh, my gosh! Do you want me to take up three pages? I have so many, but sadly, lately I haven’t had much time to read. I miss it. With two books out; the promoting is taking up so much time, even my writing is suffering. I think most authors know the feeling. Then there is real life that keeps interfering, too. 

3.      How old were you when you were first published?
Not answering that one. Lol. I don’t want readers to faint.

4.      What writing style do you most abhor?
I don’t like deep character style, where you are in the head of a person for many pages. I get bored and think, “get on with the story already.” I like action, a bit of character is fine, in fact good. But, let’s get to the story.

5.      What is your favorite writing cliché?
Have your picture taken when you’re young, and don’t give up your day job.
6.      What is your favorite word?
(It) is my favorite word. It encompasses so much. Lol. But, yes, I have learned long ago not to use ‘it’ a lot. Although it’s still my favorite word.

7.      When and how do you write? (typewriter, Mac, in a café, for four hours each morning, etc?)
Picture this. Here I sit in my tilt-back chair, in the den, surrounded by my TV, books, Kindle, love seat, stereo, etc. My feet are up, my laptop on my lap and I’m so comfortable I can nod off at times. What more can I ask? I write at different times of the morning or afternoon. In the evenings, when my eyeballs are hanging on my cheeks, I’ll watch TV until bedtime.

8.      What is your greatest fear when you first turn in a manuscript?
I could have done better. They’re going to hate it. As you can tell, I have a very low ego.

9.  In what era do you wish you’d been born?
Does it have to be had been? I’d love to be born in the future. Why? I don’t think we are advanced enough as a civilization to have peace among all nations. Of course, it may be worse in the future, I realize that. But, I have hope. And I hope most of all for all the greed to be gone. There will be no cause, power or money, to have greed. Now I think I’m getting into fantasy. Lol.

10.  Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I find in every story I write it’s always a different overused phrase or word I use. Is that odd?

11.  Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to have my talent back for multi-tasking. Don’t laugh, it’s true. Seems I can’t walk and breathe at the same time anymore. Or is it just all these stories paddling around in my brain?

12.  What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Proving to myself that I can get published. It literally shocked me. It shocks me that readers really like my stories. Like I said; low ego.
13.  Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
I hope you mean fictitious hero. Wow, that’s a toughie. Again, I have so many, it would be hard to write them all down. After reading for many, many years, I can’t choose just one.

14.  How would you like to die?
Seriously? I’d like to go to sleep and just not wake up. I’m a coward. I think most of us would prefer to die that way instead of suffering a long illness. I once had a good friend that suffered cancer and could not be cured. Her words to me, I’ll never forget. “This dying stuff is hard work.”

Sorry to leave you on such a bleak note. But let’s go to a happier subject. My new book release from Muse. We’ll go from bleak to humor in one easy jump.
Cole Walker, Sheriff of Cold Creek, has more woes than he can handle.
He thought chasing rustlers would be the worst of his problems, until Mattie Wells, the new gal in town, jingles his spurs with just a smile, and he falls head over heels.
Then he finds a runaway monkey under his desk, and his inclination is to get rid of him. Cole has this fear of critters that goes back a mighty long way, so the sooner the better.
But Mattie thinks Beggar’s adorable, so what’s a man supposed to do? Now, he’s forced to put up with the little fur ball...uh...ringtail monkey, even when the furry thief starts stealing the townsfolk’s trinkets.
Then there’s the matter of the cattle rustlers who keep stealing the Double J’s cattle. JJ blames the farmers, the farmers don’t like JJ, and an all-out war is about to commence.
Cole and his deputies, Wade and Sully, have their hands full trying to keep the uneasy peace between the farmers and the cattleman. As if that’s not enough pressure, Mayor Farley gives them a month to find the thieves before he calls for outside help.
Cole’s trying to win Mattie’s heart, but the little lady has a dark secret and vows never to marry. While harboring a secret of his own, Cole tries to pry out her secret, in hopes of changing her mind.
Cole chases Mattie, the rustlers, and Beggar in a town full of fun characters and chaos.
Can he bring the rustlers to justice, peace and order to Cold Creek, the townsfolk’s loot back to their rightful owners, and win Mattie’s heart?
Yep, Cole has a heap of trouble on his hands.

Mayor Farley glanced up from his papers. “Howdy, Cole.” The Mayor ran his eyes over Beggar, who stood in front of the desk with his head down. “I heard about your little buddy there. What can I do for you two today?”
“We came to return your stolen valuables.” Cole untied the bandana and spread the items over the desk. “Seems I have a sneak thief on my hands.”
Mayor Farley’s shaggy white eyebrows shot up an inch and his mouth dropped open. “Who…when?”
“Last night.” Cole pointed down at Beggar, who still stared at the floor.
The Mayor shook his head and hid a bemused grin behind his hand. He winked at Cole, and then eyed Beggar over the desk, and shook his pudgy finger at the ringtail. “You’ve been a bad, bad boy.” He stroked his white goatee and drew his shaggy eyebrows together. “What do you think, Sheriff?” He thrummed his fingers on the desk. “Should we hang him?”
Beggar screamed, wrapped both arms around Cole’s leg, buried his face in the hollow behind Cole’s knee, and snuffled.
Keeping a straight face, Cole said, “What say we give him another chance, Mr. Mayor?” He made his voice stern. “One more time, and I promise I’ll tie the noose myself.”
“Agreed.” The mayor slapped his desk.
The monkey slumped to the floor.
Mayor Farley chuckled and motioned for Cole to have a seat. He took out the makings from his silk vest pocket, offering Cole the pouch. They both rolled a cigarette and settled back in their chairs. Smoke curled lazily in the room. The Mayor flicked lint off his suit sleeve. “Any news on the rustlers? JJ’s about to bust a blood vessel.”
Cole rubbed the back of his neck. “This ain’t making any sense. What’ve they been taking? Half-dozen or so head a week? Rustlers usually take more steers than that.” He leaned forward. “Another thing that’s puzzling. We found tracks heading toward the river. Then some older tracks head north, newer tracks go south, some even go back west, across the river. We don’t rightly know where to look. We’ve been chasing our tails, riding one way, then the other.”
“Hmm.” Mayor Farley shifted his bulk on the chair. “Could be someone has a grudge against JJ and wants to aggravate him. Or the farmers are terribly riled about his strays.”
Cole shrugged, reached down, and petted Beggar. “Oh, they’re plenty riled, but I don’t reckon a corner or two of ruined crops would cause them to steal, or I’d of found some sign in their barns, or on their property somewhere.” He furrowed his brow, took a puff on the cigarette. “I’m thinking a couple of outlaws are holed up in the hills picking off a few head at a time, burning a different brand to sell them as their own. Hiding them till they have plenty to drive on west to the stockyards.”
“Sounds logical. The town has faith in you, Cole. You’ll figure it out. You always did have good instincts.”
“I sure hope it’s soon.” Cole fingered the brim of his Stetson, balanced on his knee. “Wade and Sully are camping out on the range and they’ll keep on searching. Told them to be back in time for Saturday’s social.”
Farley rose and opened the window. The rumble of buckboards, the whinny of horses, and the sound of voices floated up from the street below. Thumbs in his vest pockets, the Mayor rocked his girth, heel to toe, and looked out over the town. “Farmers and ranchers never did mix well, you know that. Corn stalks have been broken, wheat patches flattened. If JJ tried harder to keep his cattle on his side of the river, the farmers might be more tolerant of a few strays here and there. Widow Cox comes to town once a week to curdle my ears about her flower beds and elderberry bushes being trampled.”
He turned to Cole, a discouraged frown settled on his face. “Don’t know why JJ won’t sell some beef here in town instead of us having to haul meat in on ice wagons. All the folks in the territory would benefit if he did. He’s so blasted sure the farmers are to blame, he refuses to have anything to do with them, which in turn doesn’t help us.” He walked back to the desk and ground out his cigarette. “Government never should have opened up free range to the west. The farmers homesteaded our side, proved their worth, and got the proper deeds. This town depends on them.”
Cole stubbed his cigarette in the tin on Farley’s desk. Beggar lay on the floor next to his foot. “Yeah. Then JJ comes along and trouble starts.” He rose to leave, slapped the Stetson on his head, and nudged Beggar with his boot. “Doesn’t help me neither. Now I gotta find the rustlers quick to stop all this anger and hate between folks before it gets out of hand. I feel a heap of trouble coming our way.”
“’Fraid so,” said Farley.--------------------------------

Buy Page: A Heap of Trouble

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Life Resumes!

How cool is this! Coinciding very nicely with my latest mystery novel offering, Persephone Cole and the Halloween Curse, is a Halloween contest at the Books We Love Publishing House, complete with a basket of goodies as a prize. Visit for the details!
Persephone Cole and the Halloween Curse is the first of a mystery series taking place over the holidays and stars a 1942 female gumshoe nearly six feet tall and, nicely put, a full-figured gal. If you've ever wondered how Sam Spade, Lew Archer, or Phillip Marlow would act as a woman, this might answer the call.
Persephone Cole and the Halloween Curse starts off the Persephone Cole Holiday Mystery Series, but the second novel, Persephone Cole and the Christmas Killings Conundrum, was actually written first. After a few emails back and forth between the publisher, Books We Love, and me, it was decided we needed to start the series off in the fall. So I committed myself to writing a novel - albeit a short one - in three months. I'm the one who should have been committed.
I don't have to tell anyone who has written more than a postcard, you don't dash off a novel, even one at 60K. I mean, you can, of course, but who would want to read it? So if I was going to deliver anything with a modicum of readability, I had to cram eight months' to a year's worth of work into three months.
Goodbye summer-time fun, goodbye  playing with my cats, goodbye life as I knew it. Did I mention goodbye having fun with my husband, who as a teacher, had the summer off?  This meant he couldn't disturb me until the afternoon. Get your own breakfast, answer the phone, don't bother me. I would come up for air sometime around two, when he would get a kiss. I would get back to it after dinner. The summer of 2012 will be remembered by me as me and the computer, attached at the hip. Fortunately, husband Norman is a musician and understands the creative mind. Or the crazy mind. Take your pick.
One of the downsides - for me - of not having a lot of time is I lost perspective on my work. I didn't have the luxury of setting it aside and coming back to it with a fresh eye. Every work needs to be treated like bread dough. Set it in the corner for a time and allow it to rise. Then you go back in and punch it around until it conforms to what you want. That's writing. Messy dough.
So not having the time to do that, I was more dependent on others, fellow writers who took pity on me, read the story, and made suggestions. Thanks to people like Roseanne Dowell and Baird Nuckolls, who are professional editors, as well as authors, I got through it. It was harrowing, but I got through it.
Don't get me wrong, I love to write. I love my characters. I love my mysteries. But I'm at the age now - 49 plus, plus, plus, and holding on for dear life. What that means is I don't want to go back to treating writing as a miserable job, like I did in my twenties and thirties. I want to have a good time. I want to laugh. I want to play with my cats, my friends, and my husband.
But in the end, it was worth it. The series is off to what I hope is a great start.
For the record, I love Persephone Cole. Percy's everything I would like to be. A trail-blazing 40s gumshoe, with a wicked sense of humor, and a take no prisoners attitude. She tells it like it is and lets the chips fall where they may. And she loves fedora hats and butter. My kinda gal.

Check out Persephone Cole and the Halloween Curse.
And visit Books We Love for some great reads!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Visit with Roseanne Dowell, Author of Ring Around the Rosy

I've had the good fortunate to be part of a group of writers that include the likes of Roseanne Dowell. In my opinion, Roseanne is a talented and prolific writer, who creates easy to read page-turners of the romantic/mystery type, where you not only meet some lovely, charming people, but get to wonder who did the dastardly deed or deeds. It's a win-win and so enters Ring Around the Rosy.
I just finished this book and if you're interested in my thoughts on Amazon, zip on over here. Then come on back and get to know a little bit more about this author via her own words in a recent interview:

First off, I want to thank you for having me, Heather.

1.  Always a pleasure! Let's get to it, Roseanne, What is your favorite book?
Oh my, that’s a hard one. I have so many. Just about anything written by Nora Roberts, especially Blue Smoke and Northern Lights. I also loved Devil’s Corner by Lisa Scottoline.

2.      Who is your favorite writer?
Think I just gave that away above. LOL

3.      How old were you when you were first published?
Wow, what an interesting question. Do I dare answer?  57.

4.      What is your favorite word?
Favorite word. Hmmm not sure I have one.

5.      When and how do you write? (typewriter, Mac, in a café, for four hours each morning, etc?)
Computer and just about any time. For a long time it was the middle of the night, but that’s not happened for a long time. I find if the characters are speaking, I’d better listen and get it down on paper (computer) right away. I’ve lost those words a few times by putting it off.

6.      What is your greatest fear when you first turn in a manuscript?
Rejection. I think that’s probably every writer’s fear. Is it good enough? Will the publisher like it?

      7.      In what era do you wish you’d been born?
That’s fairly easy. The Victorian. And you’ll see that often in my books. So many of my heroines love that era too.

     8.      Which talent would you most like to have?
Another easy one. I wish I had a good singing voice. I was in the choir and I sang with the tenors. I’d love to be a soprano.

     9.  What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising my six children.

     10.  Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Not sure I have one.

     11.  How would you like to die?
In my sleep, quietly and without pain.


Excerpt from Ring Around the Rosy:

Susan propped the News Gazette on the counter and focused on the headline. ‘Georgie Porgie, Pudding and Die’ by Susan Weston, it blared at her. Her headline. Her story. She’d done it. Finally got her headline. She drummed her hands on the counter and did a little dance step. She swore if her grin got any wider her face would crack. .”Susan Weston, journalist!” she shouted. God, she wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

The phone rang, startling her. “Who the heck is calling at this hour? “ She grabbed the phone. “Hello.” Bella rubbed against her legs, waiting to be fed. “Hello?” Susan grabbed the box of kitty food, filled the bowl, and set it on the floor.

“Hello,” she repeated, ready to hang up if no one answered this time.

The evil, raspy voice on the other end sent goose-bumps up her spine. “Who is this?” she whispered.

The voice mumbled something she could barely hear.

“Strawberries? What are you talking about?”

“Just for you,” the garbled voice continued.

“I can’t hear you. Who is this?” What kind of sick joke is this?

She caught the words, “loved your headline,” more garbled words, and “Watch for Jack be nimble.” Then the phone line went dead.

Susan grabbed the counter to steady herself. Her hand trembled, and she stared at the phone. She dropped the receiver back into its cradle as if it was on fire. But she couldn’t stop the trembling. Her stomach churned. Nausea filled her throat. What was wrong with her? Just someone playing a sick joke. This wasn’t her first crank call, why react like this? Maybe because none of the others had sounded like this.

He said he liked her story. That shouldn’t bother her. Something about that voice, so harsh, so evil. It gnawed at her. The hair prickled on the back of her neck. Something about it seemed familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it.

After pouring a cup of coffee, she read the story under the headline aloud, trying to keep her mind off the phone call. “Police are investigating the death of thirty-one year old George Lucas, whose body was found last night in Lagoon Park near his west side home.” The sound of her shaky voice surprised her.

What was the matter with her?  “Get a grip, girl.”

Must be the effect of seeing the lifeless body. The way George Lucas’s eyes stared into space. What was he thinking when he looked into his killer’s eyes? The distant street lamp didn’t help. It cast an eerie shadow on the victim. His face frozen in terror, lips parted in a silent scream, and his head tilted to one side as if it was too heavy for his neck. The way one hand clutched at his throat and the other gripped the note, fingers frozen around it, sent icy chills through her, even now. She shuddered.

Thank God there wasn’t any blood, since the image would forever be embedded in her mind. Susan rubbed her arms to warm them.

Picking up the paper, she continued to read. “The coroner will determine the cause of death, but early reports indicate that Mr. Lucas was strangled. Lipstick was smeared across the victim’s mouth, and he clasped the nursery rhyme, ‘Georgie Porgie,’ in his hand. The teen who discovered the body reported seeing a man carrying a bag and wearing a gray shirt running from the park moments before. Police have no suspects at this time.”

Bella brushed against her legs, jumped on the counter, and snuggled against her.

Susan’s heart pounded. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. So much for the thrill of seeing her name on the front page. The image of the body filled her mind. Her hands trembled while she held the paper and reread the headline with her name below it. It was exactly as she had written it — not one word changed, short and to the point.

George Lucas lived in her neighborhood. She’d seen him a few times in Meliti’s Market talking to old Mrs. Meliti. Although they never spoke, they had nodded and smiled hello. Nice-looking guy, about her age. What a shock seeing him dead. Another shiver shook her body. Seeing a dead body was bad enough, but knowing the victim threw her for a loop. Made it personal.

Arriving only a few minutes before the police showed up and ordered her to leave, not that they had to tell her twice, she had viewed the crime scene and then skedaddled lickety-split. She knew enough about crime scenes to maintain a distance, knew if she got too close, she’d compromise the scene, maybe even leave trace evidence of herself behind. She didn’t need that. But she’d been close enough to read that paper in his hand, a nursery rhyme. She’d seen every gory detail.

The nursery rhyme letters, cut out from newspapers and magazines, and bowl of chocolate pudding and the strawberry pie that had been dumped on the victim’s head would stay in her memory for a long time. Of course, the police requested that information not be printed.

Requested, hell. Demanded was more like it, but Susan understood. Those were facts only the killer knew, and it prevented crank confessions. Couldn’t give the public too much information. After waiting behind the crime scene tape long enough to hear the possible cause of death, she hurried home to write her story before the deadline.

Susan walked around the kitchen. To sweeten the deal, her colleagues hadn’t shown up until well after they’d taped off the crime scene, hadn’t seen what she’d seen. So Ernie printed her story. Her first big byline!   Even that cocky reporter, Dan Hill, hadn’t beat her out this time.

Staring at the large headline, she sipped her coffee. The words from the phone call rambled around in her mind.

“Strawberries. The voice on the phone said something about strawberries. Strawberry Pie dumped over the victim’s head.” Her voice cracked at the memory.

Only the killer knew about the pie. Her body shook. Had she been talking to the killer? What else had the caller said? Jack be nimble. Another nursery rhyme.

Grabbing the counter to steady herself, she repeated part of the nursery rhyme “Jack be nimble…”

Her mind raced. She pushed away from the counter and paced the kitchen, trying to remember the rest of the rhyme.

“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candlestick. That’s it!”

What the heck did it mean? Was he going to kill again? Was there a serial killer out there?

She grabbed the phone and dialed the police department. Maybe it was nothing, but she needed to report it. Something didn’t sit right.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Perfect Margarita

Recently, I decided not to focus on anything about writing, being an author, or having a book published. What with Death Runs in the Family, 3rd book in the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series and Corliss, my suspense short story out within weeks of each other, and banging away on the keyboard trying to finish the Persephone Cole Series, which debuts in September, I needed a break.
So we zipped off to Las Vegas for a few days for a little R&R. We decided to drive, the pissed-off skies being what they are, and after several hours arrived at Barstow, California, mentioned in the famous song, (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66. We usually stop there when we drive to Vegas, get a motel room for the night, and have dinner at the Idle Spurs Restaurant. It's a tradition. A silly one, but there you are.
However, as this was the first time we arrived in Barstow on a Monday, we couldn't go to the Idle Spurs. Closed, dontchaknow. The best laid plans.
We wound up at the Los Domingos, where we stumbled upon good Mexican food and even better cocktails. Life being what it is, you never know when you are going to have a serendipitous moment like that. So instead of books, let's talk booze. Serendipitously, of course.

And enter Max, the Mixologist.
We walked into the Los Domingos Restaurant and there was Max standing behind a pretty interesting bar. Norman was in the mood for a Margarita, but not the super sweet kind made with lots of Rose's lemon-lime mix. That is more or less a north of the border tradition. He wanted one just like we could get in Mexico, Cuernavaca, specifically. Years ago the best Margarita we've ever had - and we've been searching endlessly you might say - was obtained and drunk there, several times over.
We told Max our experience and he promised us the 'perfect' Margarita, too. Man oh man, did he deliver. It was so smooth and delicious; I couldn't help but ask what his secret was. He told me it's equal amounts of lime, lemon and orange. I couldn't believe it, but Max swears it's true. Now that we're home, I'll be testing his recipe many times over!
People from Barstow seemed to flock into Los Domingos for his drinks. That evening we watched a lot of them drop by. Then Max showed me his own creation, the Huckleberry Margarita, which he gave me a sample of. Stand back, world! This is marvelous!! Slushy, gorgeous to look at, and even better to drink. The man is a genius. Yes, Max the Mixologist is a genius. Whenever you come across perfection, it must be applauded.
So take a bow, Max, to generous applause!!
When we head back to Barstow, we know exactly where to go for the perfect drink. Meanwhile, bottoms up!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Welcom Penny Estelle, Author of Billy Cooper's Awesome Nightmare

Just the title of this book, Billy Cooper's Awesome Nightmare, and the wonderful cover, sends me into laughter every time I see it.
Penny Estelle is a lovely lady, especially in her cowboy hat, and from what I've read so far of the story, it sounds like something I would enjoy, even though I am decades too old. That's what comes of being a kid at heart. Before you get a glimpse of it, yourself, here is an interview we did. A chance to get to know Penny a little better, of course.


1. What is your favorite book?
I am always looking for news about upcoming Janet Evanovich books. These are the numbered Stephanie Plum series books. I am waiting for number 20 (I think). Her books are laugh out loud funny!

2. Who is your favorite writer?
I have several but of course my #1 is Ms Evanovich. She actually answered three questions for me to put on my blog! OMG – I was floored when she said she would do that. That helps keeping her in the lead! But I also love Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Fern Michaels, and Linda Leal Miller

3. How old were you when you were first published?
It was one year ago – I was at the very young age of fifty-eight. (Heather's Note: You don't look it darling. You could say 38, and we'd buy it.)

4. What writing style do you most abhor?
This is a toughie….I’m not crazy about old style English dialogue and I don’t like it when an author goes on and on and on describing different scenes, etc.

5. What is your favorite writing cliché?
Apparently every cliché ever invented because I get dinged with using clichés from my critique group all the time and I don’t even realize it.

6. What is your favorite word?
Awesome! I can use it sarcastically (which I do all the time) or congratulating somebody, talking about an event, situation, personality, etc. etc! I really like the word(s) SOB, too. (I use that when I am frustrated, which is a lot)

7. When and how do you write? (typewriter, Mac, in a café, for four hours each morning, etc?)
With a pad of paper, lying on the couch! I am a horizontal writer! I wish I could tell you I write this many hours everyday, and I wish I did. No matter how many pep talks I give myself about forgetting all else and just write – it just doesn’t happen!

8. What is your greatest fear when you first turn in a manuscript?
That there will be tons of typos that I missed.

9. In what era do you wish you’d been born?
I would have loved to have been a pioneer woman, but there would need to be air conditioning, and I don’t like to cook anyway, so cooking over the hearth would probably suck (this is another of my favorite words) and bathing once a week would be out. Now that I think about it – I’m good in the 21 century!

10. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
With regards to writing? Was and well. I was told once I used the word “I” way too many times – so now I write in third person!

11. Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could play the guitar – and if I could sing well, to go along with my great guitar playing, well that would be awesome!

12. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I’m going to have to go with…. my husband and I building our entire retirement house by ourselves. Except for pouring the cement foundation we did all the rest! (well, let’s not get silly. My husband did most of it, but I was there helping, damnit!)

13. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Stephanie Plum

14. How would you like to die?
In my sleep!

Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare
Billy Cooper’s seventh grade class has been given a last minute, weekend assignment. An oral book report is due Monday on some stupid historical figure, he draws from a box.
Billy’s weekend is way too full to worry about some legend – that is, until he meets him face to face!


Except for William Tell being one of the biggest men he had ever seen, he had to wonder what this guy did to get put on a book report list! “So, Du….I mean, Uncle William, what do you do around here, you know to bring home the bacon?”
“Here in Uri, we would kill a bore to get bacon,” William replied.
“Ooookay,” Billy said, but you are a legend. Why?” Billy figured he might as well take the bull by the horns!
“William, I am no legend. I am but a simple hunter.”
Billy had to wonder why old lady Wickware would put some hunter that didn’t do squat, in the drawing. There had to be more! “So, who’s this Gessler guy? Why is Auntie freaking out about him?”
His uncle did a quick double take and asked, “William, your speech seems so different. Do they all talk like this in Unterwalden?
“Unter-who?” Billy asked.
“Unterwalden. Where you live.” His uncle started to wonder if his nephew was more than just unbalanced.
“Oh yea, Unter….whatever. My home place,” Billy stammered. “Yea, we all talk like this. We are a laid back kind of group.”
William Tell just shook his head. “Gessler is the Governor of Altdorf. As you must know, Austria is trying to take our lands from us. Some are already paying heavy and unjust taxes. These Austrians are a cruel people, William, and they want everyone to live in fear. Until the Rutli Oath came to be we did not know what to do.”
“What’s the Rutli Oath? Billy asked.
They were almost to Altdorf. William stopped and looked deep into Billy’s eyes. “Countrymen from Uri, Unterwalden, and Schwytz are ready to take back what is ours and the Rutli Oath is our pledge to do so.
Billy nodded and turned to continue to the town when his uncle stopped him. His tone was deadly. “Speak of this to no one, William. It would not bode well for you.”
Even in a dream, Billy wouldn’t cross a man like William Tell. “No problem, Dude. Your secret is safe with me.”

MuseItUp Publishing -

Amazon –

Heather – thanks so much for letting me visit with you on your blog. I can be reached @
@pennystales – twitter

I love it when folks stop by and say “Hi”

And thanks for dropping by, Penny! You're a lot of fun!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Life Whizzes By When You Write, Write, Write!!

Lucky me and hello out there! I haven't written my blog for a month but I have been writing. I am committed to doing a new series, Persephone Cole, a sassy World War II sleuth to see you through each of the holidays. There's a mystery to solve, of course, and a few laughs along the way. Below is a little bit about the first two novels starring the 5'11", large, and no nonsense protagonist, Persephone Cole. I just love Percy. When I grow up, I want to be just like her, including wearing a fedora!
Persephone Cole and the Halloween Curse comes out in September:

Blurb - In 1942, no one heard of a female PI, not even in New York City. But meet Persephone Cole, newly inaugurated private investigator, with a penchant for Marlene Dietrich suits and fedora hats. Halloween finds her backstage during the previews of the latest Broadway production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, where there’s double, double, toil and trouble and enough dead bodies to stuff in a caldron. With suspects aplenty, this working mother is not sure which is worse, someone trying to kill her or a masked bandit snitching her son’s jack-o-lantern.

Persephone Cole and the Christmas Killings Conundrum debuts in November:

Blurb - No one heard of a female private investigator in 1942. No one, but Persephone Cole, that is. Percy might just be Manhattan's first female PI. A week before Christmas, she’s hired to find out who killed a Santa Land elf and left him in the storefront window of a chic 5th Avenue jewelry store. Shortly after, the body of the Christmas Angel is discovered stuffed in Mrs. Santa's workshop. Will Santa Claus be next? This working mother is not sure which is worse, someone out to ruin Christmas or having to eat Spam every day, a result of the World War II’s meat rationing.

The Persephone Cole series will be published by BooksWeLove starting in September. Zip on over and see if there's anything that tickles your fancy! They've got some great books and great deals over there!
Now I really, really, need to get back to Persephone!