Meet the Authors–Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner

L-R Gloria Ferris, Donna Warner

L-R Gloria Ferris, Donna Warner

Yesterday, I attended an author event featuring two of my fellow Guelph Partners in Crime, Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner. In addition to reading from their novels, Gloria and Donna shared an interview with the International Thrillers Writers and answered questions from the audience. A lively discussion followed, and several topics were covered, among them e-books vs. print books, reviews, book covers, inspiration, and querying.

Thanks to librarian Chris Fraser for organizing and hosting this event at the Evergreen Seniors’ Community Centre in Guelph.

Librarian - Chris Fraser

Librarian – Chris Fraser


Where to find Gloria…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

Where to find Donna…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

10 Favorite Craft Books on Writing

I’m happy to welcome back author Jo-Ann Carson. Today, Jo-Ann is sharing her top ten craft books and her latest release, A Highland Ghost for Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this delightful novella.

Here’s Jo-Ann!

I love craft books on writing, so today I thought I would share with you my ten favorites. Easier said than done!

Whittling my list down to ten, seemed impossible. I went to my shelf and made a stack of ten tossing one aside for another, shuffling them, and starting over again and again as the list didn’t seem quite right.

It was difficult to choose only ten.

Finally, I decided to look at it differently. I’ll be teaching a course on self-publishing soon and I want to have a basic list of ten books I would recommend to a new writer. That helped a bit.

Here’s my ten, ranked by the number of times I go back to them. I’d love to hear yours.

One – The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

513vzjihiol-_sx348_bo1204203200_“One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each…. ” (Amazon)

Two – The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tamu D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders

characters“All fiction writers want to write stories with great heroes and heroines–characters who leap off the page and capture the reader’s imagination. Heroic characters can be broken into sixteen archetypes …” (Back blurb) Amazon


Three – Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

save-the-cat“This ultimate insider’s guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a show biz veteran who’s proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat!” (Amazon)


Four – On Writing by Stephen King

41w6ybzk-l“… It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around. (back blurb) Amazon


Five – Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield

steven-pressfield_nobody-wants-to-read-your-shit“There’s a mantra that real writers know but wannabe writers don’t. And the secret phrase is this: NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T. Recognizing this painful truth is the first step in the writer’s transformation from amateur to professional.” (Amazon)


Six – Write. Publish. Repeat. by Platt Truant and Wright

514lbagvkhlWrite. Publish. Repeat is publishing for beginners and experienced writers alike. In 2013, Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt published 1.5 million words and made their full-time livings as indie authors. In Write. Publish. Repeat., they tell you exactly how they did it: how they created over 15 independent franchises across six publishing imprints and 100+ published works, how they turned their art into a logical, sustainable business, and how any author interested in indie publishing can do the same to build a sustainable, profitable career with their writing ….” (Amazon)

Seven – Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

41scc3qs6bl-_sx317_bo1204203200_“A warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps.” —Los Angeles Times (Amazon)



Eight – The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

51lds7v2wtl-_sx318_bo1204203200_“What if everything we have been taught about learning to write was wrong? In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron‘s most revolutionary book, the author of the bestselling self-help guide The Artist’s Way, asserts that conventional writing wisdom would have you believe in a false doctrine that stifles creativity.” (Amazon)

Nine –Stein on Writing by Sol Stein

51jzc-70fql-_sx310_bo1204203200_“This is not a book of theory. It is a book of useable solutions– how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.” (Amazon)


Ten – The Chicago Manual of Style

31inmkgexxl-_sx331_bo1204203200_This is the industry bible.

“… the authoritative, trusted source that writers, editors, and publishers turn to for guidance on style and process….” (Amazon)


A Highland Ghost for Christmas

highlandghost_cvr_medJilted by her fiancé, librarian Maddy Jacobson is nursing a broken heart, when her best friend gives her an early Christmas present. Intended to be a fun, psychic reading in a spooky, tea house, the gift turns out to be life changing. Maddy becomes haunted by a mischievous, Highland ghost.

Ruggedly handsome, Cullen Macfie, the Highlander, has been dead for over three centuries, and never in all those years has he been as attracted to a woman, as he is to Maddy. He falls hopelessly in love and decides to woo her.

Can there be a future for a librarian and a naughty, Highland ghost?

A Highland Ghost for Christmas is a sweet, romantic comedy guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart, make you laugh out loud and leave you craving a man in a kilt … and shortbread, of course.

Buy Link

Jo-Ann Carson writes romance twisted with suspense and polished withdsc01318-large-web-view humor. Her strong characters take you on a fast and fun ride. Currently she’s writing the Gambling Ghost series, a collection of sweet, paranormal romances guaranteed to warm your heart, make you laugh out loud and leaving your craving a ghost of your own.

Jo-Ann loves to interact with readers on social media:

Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

shutterstock_104723360 (1)Your turn. What are your favorite ten craft books on writing?

Takeaways from #NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimocrestWhen I started my NaNoWriMo project, I had mixed feelings. While I listened and nodded when the other GuelphWriMos spoke of 5K-word spurts and pulling all-nighters to achieve the ultimate goal of 50K words, I decided to be more realistic.

A linear pantser, I preferred to write sporadically, at most 1K words a day. My highest monthly count was 20K words.

Could I possibly make the leap from 20K words to 50K words and produce a “reasonable” first draft of A Different Kind of Reunion? And would I be able to write without stopping to edit the “hot mess” that would inevitably appear before me each day?

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog.

Movie Review: Rules Don’t Apply

Set in late 1950s Los Angeles, Rules Don’t Apply is a fictional portrait of Howard Hughes in his later years. Wearing two hats—director and actor—Warren Beatty skillfully captures the eccentricities, OCD habits, and neurosis of the reclusive billionaire.

Appearing primarily in shadows, Hughes interacts with a revolving door of characters played by several A-list actors, among them Matthew Broderick, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, and Candice Bergen.

The main plot involves a fictional love triangle with aspiring actress Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), chauffeur Frank Forbes (Alen Ehrenreich), and Howard Hughes. Several comedic scenes with Marla’s mother (Annette Bening) highlight the frustration experienced by the more than thirty young women who are anxiously awaiting their screen tests and first encounters with Howard Hughes.

Ignoring the rule that chauffeurs cannot have relationships with the actresses, Marla and Frank flirt and gravitate toward each other. But when Marla finally meets Hughes for his-and-hers TV dinners on folding trays, she becomes infatuated with him. And, in his weird, unconventional way, Hughes also shows interest. Complications ensue, and Marla disappears from the movie for a significant period of time. I would have liked more scenes with Marla and her mother.

At times, the movie rambles, veering in several directions. While some scenes—especially those involving intense cravings for banana nut ice cream and bizarre flights manned by Hughes—are comedic, others only skim the surface of the billionaire’s business problems and accusations of dementia by an unauthorized biographer.

An entertaining movie that has piqued my interest about Howard Hughes.

TGIO Party for Guelph #NaNoWriMo

nanowrimocrestFriday evening, I joined four other NaNoWriMo winners at Fionn MacCool’s in south Guelph for our TGIO (Thank God It’s Over) party. Of the 96 members in the Guelph region, 26 of us completed 50K words and more during the month-long marathon.

Thanks to our M.L. Cindy Carroll for organizing and motivating us throughout the month. We plan to meet throughout the year and compare notes on our NaNoWriMo projects.

As for next year, I’m in for another round. Ideas are percolating for The Missing Gigolo, Book 4 in the Gilda Greco Mystery series.

My final stats…50,940 words with an average of 1,698 words per day.


The Right Treats

comfortballoonsWe can all benefit by finding the right treat or combination of treats that serve as “comfort food” for our brains. It is important, however, not to fall into the trap of selecting pleasures that come at a cost. For example, an hour of retail therapy may lift our moods, but over-spending will strain our finances. Eating that ice-cream cone or extra piece of cheesecake may calm jittery nerves and add pounds.

Continue reading on Madelyn Hill’s blog.

10 Things You Need to Know About Hazel Rose

I’m happy to welcome mystery author Maggie King. Today, Maggie shares ten interesting characteristics of Hazel Rose, the protagonist of her novel, Murder at the Moonshine Inn.

24646207_s1. Hazel Rose lived in Los Angeles for many years, working as a software developer.

2. Hazel has been married five times:

Hubby #1 She married him while they were still in college. When he embraced the “open marriage” movement of the seventies, Hazel didn’t. After two years of grappling with the open marriage issue, in addition to others, she called a divorce lawyer.

Hubby #2 Hazel lived with him for three years until she got fed up with his philandering and moved out. Neither were in a rush to remarry so didn’t bother divorcing for twelve years. At age thirty-eight, Hazel decided to get her life in order, which meant that hubby number two had to go—legally, that is.

Hubby #3 and Hazel went to Yosemite and stayed in a cabin. Apparently things were too close for comfort. To his credit, the man was faithful for the duration of their marriage, one year and twelve days.

Hubby #4 Hazel is never clear about why they decided to divorce, but hints that they had political differences. She does reveal that he died during a skiing weekend at California’s Mammoth Lakes when he wrapped himself around a tree, leaving Hazel a widow. He and some sweet young thing had been celebrating his impending divorce.

Hubby #5 Hazel’s last and best husband, Vince Castelli. He’s here to stay!

3. After Hubby #4 died and left Hazel a surprise fortune (they weren’t married long enough to file a joint tax return, so Hazel was never sure of his net worth) she and her calico, Shammy, relocated to Richmond, Virginia. Hazel’s hope of reuniting with Hubby #1 prompted the move. That hope didn’t bear fruit.

4. Hazel’s cousin Lucy offered her and Shammy temporary living quarters in Richmond. Temporary turned into five years, with Shammy and Lucy’s cat, Daisy, bonding. After four failed marriages, Hazel declared herself commitment-phobic and decided to write a romance.

bookclub5. Hazel started the Murder on Tour book group in 2003 with Carlene Arness, the current wife of Hazel’s first husband and the reason that Hazel’s hopes of remarrying her ex were dashed (see #3).

6. In 2005, Carlene Arness was killed at a meeting of the book group. Hazel had a driving need to see justice served, plus she was stuck in a life rut—and so we see the birth of an amateur sleuth in Murder at the Book Group.

7. It’s unfortunate that it took solving Carlene’s murder for Hazel to get her groove back, but she overcame her commitment phobia, married, and became a successful author of sexy baby boomer romances.

8. Hazel managed to go eight years without finding another mystery to solve. Not that she wanted one. But her nasty cousin Brad was the chief suspect in his wife’s murder and Hazel felt obligated to clear his name—because he was family.

9. Much as she loves her book group and loves reading mysteries, Hazel doesn’t feel confident that she could write one. But she toys with the idea of writing a sexy and romantic mystery. “All I have to do is add a dead body or two,” she quips.

10. Hazel is proficient with a computer, but has a devil of a time with her mischievous smartphone. Is the phone smart enough to get her out of trouble? Or does it land her in trouble? Read Murder at the Moonshine Inn and find out.



WHEN HIGH-POWERED EXECUTIVE Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks—she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day—he’s still family.

Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn—or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox.

When a second murder ups the ante Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.



maggie-king-author-photo-72-2Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including the recently-released Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.

Where to find Maggie…

Website | Facebook | Twitter