I was surprised to see a passionate blog from mystery writer, Sherry Harris, today, asking for writers to respect each other.  https://wickedauthors.com/2019/05/09/can-we-just-stop/  And I am always surprised when I hear that certain writers or writing groups attack other writers or writing groups on twitter or Goodreads or Facebook.  I mean, what’s the point?  And what does that say about them?

I’ve mentioned before that I went to a book signing where a newspaper reporter, a literary author, a nonfiction author, and a romance writer were giving a panel, and the reporter, not people in the audience, gave the romance author a horrible time.  He told her that she was  so talented, she should write “real books.” To which she replied, “I think writing about love and relationships IS writing real books.”  (I was proud of her).

Every writer dreads getting bad reviews from readers, even when we know there’s no way to please everyone.  I was so happy to see a thread on Kensington’s Facebook Between the Chapters page where bloggers and readers seriously discussed whether they felt comfortable giving reviews below 3 stars because they didn’t want to ruin a writer’s rankings if the book didn’t appeal to them but might be perfect for another reader.  We all have different preferences and tastes.  The responders gave thoughtful, serious consideration to the subject, even the bloggers who insisted that they felt compelled to warn other readers about books with a myriad of grammar mistakes, etc.

If bloggers and readers try to support authors, why wouldn’t fellow writers?  We know how hard it is to write a book–any kind of book.  And we know how hard it is to live up to readers’ expectations.  And every genre has them.

When I wrote romance, my wonderful editor let me try just about anything I wanted to, as long as I followed the ingrained rules of the genre.  Readers expect boy to meet girl.  Okay, maybe that’s too narrow.  These days, boy can meet boy and girl can meet girl, but whatever the set-up, there’s some kind of attraction.  Then there are obstacles and misunderstandings, etc. before boy wins girl…or whatever.  I followed that pattern.  It’s what makes a romance a romance.  BUT in book number three, I wanted to have a heroine who’s always attracted to the wrong kind of guy, Mr. Wrong, first BEFORE she notices Mr. Right standing in the background.  I’ve met my share of smart, wonderful women who fall for guys who aren’t good for them, but luckily for Paula (in my book), Chase isn’t about to let that happen.  My editor was fine with the idea.  My readers?  I got mixed reviews.  I hadn’t broken the rules of romance, but I’d bent them.

For cozies, my editor told me no foul language and when Jazzi and Ansel go in the bedroom, fade to black.  I can refer to them feeling frisky but it stays behind locked doors.  I’m fine with that, but some readers don’t even like them referring to their libidoes.  Some readers don’t like how much beer and wine they drink at meals.  And that’s all right with me.  They come to cozies expecting a CLEAN read.  That doesn’t mean I can’t write a good story, a good mystery.

If not cussing or having sex makes a writer inferior in some peoples’ minds, I don’t agree.  EVERY genre has a formula and comes with certain expectations.  Even literary.  It’s hard to write anything well.  And even if a genre isn’t one of my favorites, I can still appreciate the skill it takes to write it.

Whatever you’re working on now, good luck.  And happy writing!



Cover Reveal

I’m lucky enough to get to share Joan Hall’s cover release for her third book in her Driscoll Lakes series.  I think this cover is pretty awesome.  It sets the mood for a mystery/suspense, don’t you think?  See for yourself.

Joan Hall--May 7--Unclear Purposes Smaller

Some people take secrets to the grave…

Three years after her husband’s murder, Christine Lawrence still struggles for balance. She has a rewarding career and a close circle of friends but feels oddly unfulfilled. Worse, the close relationship she once had with her teenage daughter has grown increasingly strained.

Former FBI agent, Vince Green, is battling demons of his own—painful secrets that drove him from Driscoll Lake. Newly resettled in the small town, he makes his living as a private investigator.

When Vince and Christine cross paths, stumbling over the body of a murder victim, he’s forced to confront memories he thought long buried. The circumstances surrounding the killing are eerily similar to a victim from his past.

As the body count continues to rise, Christine finds herself drawn to Vince. With a murderer stalking the streets of Driscoll Lake, neither is aware the killer has targeted her as the next victim—or that Vince’s past is key to unmasking a disturbed and deadly killer.

Joan Hall Author Box Updated 8.18






Sharing: 1 of 2 books releasing today


Staci Troilo Color Photo RT smaller

Staci Troilo writes under a few different pen names for different genres.  She’s writing The Gate as D.L. Cross.


Getting Ready

This week, hopefully, I’ll finish final proof copies for Jazzi #3 to return to Kensington.  After that, I have rewrites to do on the notes my critique partner (Thank you, Mary Lou Rigdon) gave me for Jazzi #4.  The manuscript’s not due to John Scogmaglio until June 1st, but John, Holly, and I are taking off for Florida to visit our daughter and her husband May 10-15, and  I’d like to have my deadlines out of the way before we leave.  And THEN, I’m ready to start plot points for Jazzi #5. I’m giving myself a week to do that. AND THEN I want to write Muddy River Mystery Three.

I can’t wait to start that book.  I woke up in the morning with an idea that got me REALLY excited.  (That happens a lot at the start of a book.  We’ll see how I feel when I reach the middle:)

I know I have a long to-do list.  Sounds like I’ll be keeping out of trouble for a long time, but I have my old, trusty chalkboard and I bought a new whiteboard to help me keep track of things.  And once I fill in that whiteboard with notes for Jazzi #5, I’m ready to write!


I think I told you the story of how I got the chalkboard once before, but a LONG time ago, when the movie RICH AND FAMOUS with Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen came out, there was a scene that cracked my HH up.  Candice Bergen and her movie husband are lying in bed, drifting off to sleep, and all of a sudden, she jumps up and runs to her office to scribble ideas on a chalkboard.  When she comes back to bed, her husband yawns and shakes his head.  “An idea for a new book?” he asks, already knowing the answer.  HH swears I do that to him, so he bought and installed the chalkboard the next day.

Now that I have the whiteboard, I use the chalkboard to keep track of deadlines and business stuff I need to do and can’t forget.  Unfortunately, on my own, I tend to forget more than I should.  And if I write notes on 3×5 cards, I have so many of them anymore, they get lost in the shuffle.  But I see the chalkboard every time I enter my office.  If I write something on it, I have a decent shot of getting things right.  This is my writing wall, and my desk is right across from it.

Every writer finds his/her own way to keep track of characters and story ideas.  No technique is better than the next.  You just have to find what works for you.  So whatever you’re up to, good luck with it!  And happy writing!

P.S.  If any of you have any questions, feel free to ask me.  I did my first author chat on Kensington’s Facebook page for the Between the Chapters bookclub, and I was really nervous about trying to fill an hour answering questions for anyone who showed up, but it was WONDERFUL fun.

My Inspirations by Judi Lynn

I didn’t write a regular blog post this week because I’ve been doing a blog tour for The Body in the Wetlands, and I’m just about idea’d out. (I know. Not a real word:) On top of the tour, my cousin ended up in the hospital for a short stay, so we’ve been trying to see her or take my sister up to see her once a day. So my Thursday blog fell through the cracks. To redeem myself, I thought I’d share this. It’s something I shared on Kensington’s Between the Chapters for their HobbyReads. I couldn’t get more support from friends and family for my writing. I’m pretty darned lucky:)

My friends and family know that I’m a writer, and they know how much I love mysteries.  We’ve taken a small bedroom at the back of our house and turned it into an office for me, and we lined it with bookshelves.  The shelves aren’t just crammed with books, but I showcase some of the wonderful gifts I’ve been given that tie into my writing, too.

I love Agatha Christie, so my husband bought me a clever teapot that looks like a writer’s desk.  The piece of paper in the typewriter has words “typed” on it from one of Christie’s novels.  The pages tossed in the wastebasket are filled with her words, too.  A handgun lies on manuscript pages.  Here’s what it looks like:

My sisters bought me a typewriter, too, with little mice scampering across the keys.

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#bookreview: THE BODY IN THE WETLANDS by Judi Lynn

The Body in the Wetlands went live today! Happy book birthday, Jazzi, Ansel, and Jerod. And Staci Troilo was kind enough to share it and review it on her blog. Thank you, Staci!

Staci Troilo

Ciao, amici! Happy Tuesday. I have another review for you. Not long ago, I read, thoroughly enjoyed, and reviewed Judi Lynn’s cozy mystery, The Body in the Attic. You can read that post here.

Today, I have the pleasure of discussing its sequel, The Body in the Wetlands.


High summer in River Bluffs, Indiana, is always sweltering and sweet. But the heat is really on when a decidedly dead body turns up in the neighborhood.

When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes…

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New Pen Name and New Cover

My blog friend, Staci Troilo, is coming out with a new sci-fi series, and has decided on a pen name since it’s not her usual genre. If any of you are sci-fi fans, you might want to check her series out!

Staci Troilo

Ciao, amici! Life’s been busy, and it just got CRAZY. My publisher moved the release date of my new book from October to May 7. May 7! That’s less than a month away! I’ve got so much pre-release work to do. Starting with a cover release. So… ta-da!

It’s it stunning? I’m so excited about it.

Let me back up a step. First, you’ll notice it does NOT say “Staci Troilo” on the cover. We’ve talked about this before, here and there or in passing. I’m writing under a pen name (D. L. Cross) for this series. We can talk more about that later, though.

Second, you’ll note an alien ship on the cover. Aliens, as in sci-fi. It’s not a genre people associate with the name Staci Troilo, which is one of the reasons I’m writing under a pen name. If you’re interested in science fiction and aliens, this…

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Promo Tips

This must be the week the writing world concentrated on marketing and self-promotion.  I found this on twitter and thought I’d share.  After I read it, I felt a little bit like a slacker, but you can’t do it all.  Still, it might give you some ideas.