It worked

I’m a little obsessed with plotting.  And there are LOTS of ways to do it.  Some people don’t need to do it at all–I’m jealous. But for me?  I need all the help I can get to keep words and ideas moving for a 70,000+ book.

After all these years of writing, I still like to read about the CRAFT of writing off and on, just to keep me on my toes.  And hopefully, my writing will keep getting better.  I still have flaws, and I know it.  So does my writers club:)  For new ideas, I recommend Story Empire:   Staci Troilo is writing about plotting on that site right now–a method I’ve never heard of–the Nutshell Method. 

For a long time now, I’ve divided my books into four parts with a plot point twist at the end of each one.  Once I know those twists, I write plot points for every chapter in the book.  And that’s worked for me, but I wanted MORE.  I use a character wheel to develop important characters in the story, and that works really well, too.  But…surely, there was something else to make my mysteries sharper?  stronger?  So I came with a list of questions to answer BEFORE I started work on my plot points.  And boy, am I happy with what I came up with.  I think I finally have a good balance.  At least, for me.  And mysteries.  You might be able to fiddle with the questions for other genres, but since I don’t write those…well,…you’re on your own.

Anyway, I’m playing with an idea for a new cozy mystery.  The premise popped in my head and wouldn’t leave.  Kept bugging me.  But that’s ALL that came to mind.  So…syymied…I turned to my list of questions.  Suddenly, suspects and witnesses filled my head, the victim ended up as the dead body she deserved to be, and my series characters flexed their muscles and showed their true selves.

If you’re writing a mystery and would like to try the questions, here they are:

  1. Who is killed (at least, the first person) or what is the crime?
  2. Who commits it? And how?  (step by step so no holes or confusion)
  3. WHY Is it committed?
  4. Who are the suspects and why? (At least two, more’s better)
  5. Any witnesses? Does someone see something that looks suspicious?  Any innocent bystanders?
  6. What’s the ending? (I always know this before I write)
  7. Any special clue or red herring? Any alibis or fake alibis?  Accusations?  False arrests?
  8. A subplot (something going on with a character other than the crime)
  9. A smaller subplot.

These questions helped me.  Doesn’t mean they’ll work for you.  But whatever method you like, happy writing!

Lots of Research

D.P. Reisig wrote a story about Abraham Lincoln as a lawyer for the anthology MURDER THEY WROTE.  She’d been researching Lincoln for a long time since she’s going to write a novel about another case he had before going into politics.  And since I knew she’d read book after book about him, I thought I’d ask her some questions about some of the details in her story.

Please welcome D.P. Reisig to my blog.

  • The short story you contributed to the anthology MURDER THEY WROTE was about Abraham Lincoln as a lawyer, defending his friend’s son on a murder charge. What drew you to Abraham Lincoln?

The fact that he grew up here in Indiana and we used to have the Lincoln Museum here in Fort Wayne drew me to him. The more I learned about him as a person the more I respected who he was and what he went through to become a national leader. He had to conquer a lot of personal demons and that makes him interesting as a character. He didn’t give up.

  • Was Lincoln REALLY honest Abe? In your story, you show him as a master of “shenanigans.”  What sort of things did he pull in a courtroom?  Can you give us an example or two?

He was more intelligent than a lot of the people around him. When he believed he was right, which was usually, he would do what he had to do to win. He was not above trickery. Where the honest part comes in is that he didn’t sell out his moral beliefs. He was always fighting to do right as he saw it. He was not greedy or corrupt. He did what he honestly thought was best for people and society. He was very devoted to the idea of this democracy. Some examples of things he did as a lawyer was: in the case of a sixty-year old woman accused of killing her husband when the husband attacked her, he didn’t think he could win the case, but he believed the woman had been abused and acted in self-defense, so he helped her escape. Another example, he purposely wore old-fashioned, worn out clothes in the courtroom so the jury would see him as one of them. He went through a “disrobing” act, taking off his jacket, vest, and tie and standing before them in shirt sleeves and looking homely.


  • Lincoln mentions that he’d rather be home with his wife, “chasing him with a butcher knife.” Did that really happen?  How unstable was his wife?

Yes, apparently his wife, Molly, he called her, did chase him down the street with a butcher knife, but Lincoln realized how bad this looked and took the knife away from her and made her go back inside. There have been several books written about Mary Lincoln and scholars might differ as to how unstable they thought she was. Mary was likely bipolar. She and Abe developed an understanding between them, and they could help each other through their dark periods. Her deepest misfortune came after his death when she no longer had him to defend her and cater to her moods.


  • You also mention his first love, a sweet young girl. What happened to her?  How did Lincoln end up with Mary Todd Lincoln?

Ann Rutledge was much like Lincoln. An intelligent young girl who liked to read. Her father ran the tavern in New Salem, where Lincoln moved after leaving Indiana. She was engaged to another man who left for the east coast on a trip and never returned. For Lincoln, Ann was safe because she was engaged. He flirted with her and found himself falling in love. When this other man stopped corresponding with Ann, the two of them became unofficially engaged. They were about to make it a formal engagement, when this other man wrote that he was returning to claim Ann, then Ann became ill with typhoid fever that was running through the area and died that same month. Lincoln saw her for the last time the day before she died. He went out with a few women before settling on Mary Todd, but none of these were very serious. Mary Todd wanted to marry an important man and set her cap on Lincoln. Lincoln broke their engagement because he got cold feet, then felt guilty and they started dating quietly and soon married.


  • You’re working on a novel with Lincoln as the protagonist. Can you tell us a little about that?

This will be another historical mystery based on a real crime that was never officially solved, though four men claimed to have killed the victim and openly bragged about it. I like working as closely with history as I can. The story deals heavily with mob violence. In frontier Illinois and Missouri, mob violence was the rule. Certain judges set the precedent that individuals should not go against the wishes of the mob, and if they did, they could be charged. This was a subject that concerned Lincoln very much. He saw mob violence as a huge danger to democracy and freedom. He felt it threatened to shake the foundations of this country and perhaps even destroy the nation. Lincoln gave several speeches against mob violence.


  • You gave us hints that Lincoln’s childhood was not the best. What was his father like?

Lincoln did not get along well with his father at all. Some would say he even hated him. When his father was dying, Lincoln declined to go see him, even though he was asked to come. Lincoln said it would solve nothing, that there was no purpose in it. Lincoln’s father thought he was lazy because he preferred reading and studying to physical labor. His father loaned him out to other men as paid labor then took all the proceeds. His father’s eyesight began to fail him in older age and he grew more bitter and mean. His father was very jaded by life.


  • Do you have any favorite books about Lincoln? Research books, included?

That’s a tough one. I enjoy them all because they all offer a different prospective on the man. It is difficult to assume that any one source is correct in capturing the man. Each book shows you just that one person’s judgment of Lincoln and who he was. My favorite account of Lincoln is actually a movie, Lincoln (2012) with Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role. When I watched it for the first time, it fit perfectly with who I felt he was from having read all the research material. I thought it was the closest you could come to truly meeting him in this day and age. Honor’s Voice by Douglas Wilson is good, and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Abraham Lincoln by William Herndon, his law partner. My favorite books are often locally written accounts by people who knew him or whose ancestors knew him. They are often more colorful and show how he was interpreted by the common man.



  • What are some of your other passions besides writing?

I have a lot of passions, which makes it harder to dedicate myself to just one thing. I love traveling, gardening, painting, cats, movies, antiques, entertaining. To name a few. I work as a nurse practitioner, so I spend a lot of time studying different medical topics.


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Author photo with David

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Interruptions? Bring them on!

I write almost every day.  I start my morning with coffee and yakking with HH, then head into my office.  Sorting through e-mails, blogs, and twitter helps jumpstart my brain, and then I get down to the business of putting words on my computer screen.  My grandson in Indy calls nearly every morning at 10:30 when he’s taking his dog on its walk.  No matter what I’m doing, if I’m in the middle of revising or writing a scene, I stop to talk to him.  My daughter often calls in the afternoon.  I stop again.  My grandson in California, in the marines, calls at odd times.  And my sister calls a few times most days.  Those are just the regulars.  And I look forward to every one of their calls.

I’m not one of those people who can sit down and write 10,000 words in one day.  Well, I don’t think I am.  It’s never happened.  I write a scene, and then my mind wanders.  I fiddle with something else until the next scene comes to life for me.  I know what each scene needs to do because I outline every single one of them before I start a book.  But I still need to noodle how I want to present it.  A phone call is a perfect distraction to jerk my mind in a new direction and let the characters decide how to get where they need to be.

Some days, when the phone rings more often than usual, I might get more distracted than  I want to, but life has to be about balance.  And as much as I love writing, I love friends and family just as much.  They all have to make room for each other.

When I first started writing, and the kids were little, my husband worked second trick. There was always someone underfoot, even if I went to the basement and hid in a corner to write.  Maybe that’s why I can’t plough through words for hours at a time.  Distractions were part of my writing rhythm.  I worked around them.  Now that the kids have grown and moved out, my husband’s retired.  Now he’s the one who pops in and out of my office enough to keep me entertained.  On off days, when he leaves for an entire day, I have trouble getting any work done.  The house feels too quiet.  I get up and wander to the kitchen over and over again to get more coffee, a glass of juice, to look out at my birdfeeders.  I need distractions to function at top capacity.

What about you?  Do you pound out lots of words in one day or do you dribble them out like I do?  What works best for you?  And whatever your method, happy writing!



Mystery Musings

Humor.  It’s such a great antidote.  That’s why I was so happy that C.S. Boyack and Julia Donner wrote two humorous mysteries for the anthology I put together.  When I read Craig’s Jason Fogg story, I smiled all the way through it.  The premise of a detective who can dissolve into…yup, you guessed it…fog…was so much fun.  And his delivery…well, if you’ve read any of his books, it was fun, too.  Here’s a short blurb of his mystery From the Files of Jason Fogg:

They probably don’t even recognize me in the building, because I usually skipped the lobby and went for my upstairs window. I always left myself a way inside and squeezing through a tiny crack was a piece of cake. The back room was perfect for reforming because there are no windows. No sense in flashing the neighbors across the street. After making myself presentable, I checked the mail. Nothing but bills. Maybe Riley was right about this job.

My bus pass was in the top drawer, and I grabbed some business cards for good measure. “Jason Fogg Detective Agency.” Has a nice ring to it. On the way out, I scooped up a garbage bag with a change of clothes. Jeans and red flannel, it’s practically the uniform of Seattle.

People on the bus commented about the lovely weather. Honestly, I prefer a good downpour but simply agreed with them.

Craig’s a natural at writing with humor, but I think it’s a tricky voice to accomplish.  He seems to manage it with ease.  So does Julia Donner in the Regency mystery she sent for the collection.  The minute I saw her scene titles, I knew I was in for a treat.

Murder at a Garden Party

or The Unpleasantness in the Study

West London

May 1818

Scene 1

Wherein Suspects Are Introduced

See?  No “Body in the Study.”  Regencies are all about good manners.  A corpse is merely an “Unpleasantness.”  I loved it!  I loved the entire story.  Here’s a little to tease you:

Under the pavilion’s roof, guests more interested in the topic of the murder than in the balloon spectacle huddled in groups, whispering while striving to contain offended sensibilities. Understandably, the brutal slaying of Lord Mainspout would deign Lady Brilliant’s assembly either a social coup or a doomed disgrace.

Peregrine lifted his hand to tap away a yawn with the backs of his fingers. “It is indeed astonishing what a lady will get up to when it comes to making herself the most talked about hostess in London. I had thought a balloon ascension a rather desperate measure. A dead body is truly above and beyond.”

“One shouldn’t have to contrive to this extent.”

“But they lack your intelligence and style, m’dear. Patience, Lizzie. Sir Hector and Lady Brilliant have better ton than to allow themselves to get caught up in a vulgar controversy. Do you think the butler did it?”

“Oh, do be serious. If we must loiter about waiting for the magistrate and his tedious questions, tell me about the guests to keep me occupied. I know all of them superficially. Guessing who is responsible for the unpleasantness in the study will pass the time.”

He chuckled and discretely tickled the inside of her left wrist. “You are deliciously heartless today, Lady Asterly. And speculation would present a method for keeping extreme boredom at bay whilst we wait. I must warn you that other than this lovely house and park on the veritable edge of town, Sir Hector and Lady Brilliant are a crashingly boring pair.”

“There is no such word as crashingly.”

“If the shoe fits.”

I’ve loved Peregrine and Elizabeth since I first read about them in The Heiress and the Spy.

It was lovely to see them in a short story.

But there you have it.  Two mysteries.  Both filled with humor.  And yet so different.  That’s what makes writing so wonderful.  We each come to it with our own voice, our own styles.  I hope these two samples of stories catch your interest so that you take a peek at Murder They Wrote.  It includes 7 different authors and 7 different approaches to murder:)

Calming Down

Things have been more scrunched for time for me lately.  Life does that.  Sends you way too many things at the same time to see if you survive.  I have, but I’m really ready for life to slow down a bit.  I feel like I’ve been juggling too many balls and I barely got through without them all crashing down.

I’m not looking for sympathy, because I’ve worked through most of it, but my sister died, and then my other sister had to endure three surgeries really close together, and my cousin–who lived with Patty and now will live with Mary–has all kinds of health issues, and Mary couldn’t lift more than twenty pounds.  You’d be surprised how much that limits you.  None of it’s been horrible, but it’s all been trying.

Mary, with HH and my help, has been trying to empty Patty’s house to sell, and Jenny fell three times so that I had to spend the night sleeping in a recliner to keep an eye on her.  My sister Mary has done much, much more, so I’m only backup.  But it’s been rough.  On top of that, I’ve been writing and editing, and living my life.  I’ve had writing meetings at my house.  Because of Covid, we can’t meet in our usual room.  And I’ve been cooking for HH and me and sending leftovers to my sister (she hates to cook), and cooking for Scribes (because I love them) and cooking for kids whenever they come up to see us.

And I’ve loved all the good things.  Survived the bad things.  But I’m SO grateful it looks like we’re going to have a few weeks of down time.  I’m really ready for days with no pressure.  And I feel like a wimp, because Mary still has crap to deal with it, but I can’t help her with it.  I’m not power of attorney, so it’s all on her.  And I feel bad for her, but I have to admit, it’s going to be nice that I can’t do anything for a while, except send leftovers to her and my cousin.  Which they love and appreciate, and that even makes me feel tacky, because the leftovers are no big deal.

BUT, I think I’m going to have time to start plot points for my next Jazzi book (#7).  AND I got an idea for a new series–which I have no idea how I’ll find time to write, but the idea won’t go away.  SO, I’m going to plot out both books because I finally can write, then stop, then write again, until I figure out what I want to do.  And I’m not going to be rushed.  And that’s wonderful.  So I’m going to give both books time to unravel themselves and come to life for me.  And I’m grateful.

Hope you’re writing, too. May the Muse smile on you:)


Our grandson, Nate, gets out of the Marines on Oct. 13 and is moving to Indianapolis to settle for a while and start school on the G.I. bill.  We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.  We live about 2 hours away but within driving distance.  And we asked him what he’d like to celebrate his becoming a civilian.  He used to cook with me when he was growing up and loves puttering in the kitchen, so he said he wanted a great start on kitchen products.

He told that to the right person:)  Nate and I still talk recipes, so little by little–(we’ve had almost half a year), I’ve been buying him kitchen gear.  He has 51 more days before he’s released from duty, and we’ve bought him a huge set of pots and pans, a Geoffrey Zakarian cast-iron grill with a heavy top to smash hamburgers and steaks, dishes, silverware, casserole dishes, a stoneware 9 x 13 pan, a Ninja multi-cooker, spatulas and cooking spoons, and much, much more.  I’m going to start stocking him up on spices and seasonings next, then glassware and mugs.  His kitchen will be better stocked than we ever had when HH and I started out.

It made me think of girls I knew when I was young who had hope chests.  They started them in high school and collected all kinds of things they thought they’d need when they got married.  I wasn’t sure that would ever happen to me, so I never had one, but I had lots of friends who did.  I don’t know if girls still do that, but it was popular when I was in school.  Then, on top of that memory, our good friend Ralph Miser told me about a friend who bought a house and found a young girl’s treasure box in its attic.  The girl had saved all kinds of things that made her happy–pretty rocks, a science fair ribbon from school, good report cards, and little odds and ends that she’d collected.

When Ralph told me about the treasure box, it made me think of a story for my Jazzi and Ansel cozy series.  I wanted them to buy a fixer-upper and find a treasure chest in a locked bedroom full of a young girl’s journals and prizes.  When Jazzi looks the girl up online, she learns that she was pushed off a balcony shortly before her high school graduation and her murder was never solved.

I grew really fond of Jessica, but it was her treasure chest that enchanted me.  A box full of memories and a promise of potential that never came to be.

twitter post for The Body From the Past


How sad.  Jazzi thinks so, too, and is determined to find who pushed her to her death.  Hope for the future is such a powerful thing, it’s sad when it’s destroyed.  That’s what happens in The Body From the Past.  And it was interesting to explore it.  I’m going to start plot points for my seventh Jazzi mystery soon, with a different theme, and I’m looking forward to it.


Whatever the theme is for your writing now, enjoy.  And Happy Writing!


An Abundance of Riches

Okay, I might have outsmarted myself.  I can’t seem to get this timing thing quite right.  I liked C.S. Boyack’s idea of writing two manuscripts at the same time so much, I managed to finish a few things all close together.  And then what do you do?

I don’t know how I managed it, but I ended up with three finished projects–my last Muddy River short read, a new Lux novel, and an anthology I put together with friends–back to back of each other.  It feels awesome!  But I don’t want to try to market too many things at the same time.  One of the contributors to the anthology, C.S. Boyack, put his new book,  HMS Lanternfish, on sale on August 8.  He’s been writing guest posts to promote it on other peoples’ blogs since it came out.  That takes a lot of time and work.  He’s starting storyboards for new books, too.  So I didn’t want to crowd his book’s debut too much.  And I wanted lots of people to find it.  I just finished reading it, and boy, was it fun!

I can’t wait too long on the anthology, though.  My fifth Jazzi Zanders mystery comes out on Sept. 22, and I want to give myself some time to promote the anthology before Lyrical steps up marketing for The Body From the Past.  So, I’ve decided to put up MURDER THEY WROTE on August 27.  That feels like a happy medium for both Craig and me.

And as for the new Lux book?  It’s polished and ready to go, but I’m going to hold it in the wings for a while until Jazzi and the anthology get a fair shot of my time.  A hard thing for me to do.  I hate waiting.  I did a lot of extra work on this Lux, and I’m really happy with it.  It has to get in line, though.  And when I think about it, I guess there are worse problems a writer could have:)

While I’m waiting, I have half of the plot points done for Jazzi 7, so I want to finish those and start work on the next Jazzi mystery.  That should keep me out of trouble for a while:)  And since I mentioned the anthology, here’s a little teaser.  I think it turned out pretty special!New Release

Small things

We’ve all heard it before and know that it’s true.  Small things make a difference.  I know that if I write one chapter every weekday, I’ll have a book sooner than later.  But not everyone can do that.  I read a blog by Stuart Danker (whom I met on my blog), and he wrote a novel by writing 250 words a day.  I’ve met writers who are weekend warriors who only write on Saturdays and Sundays and end up with novels.  We all have to find our own path to writing.  And no one thing is right for everyone.  BUT, small things add up to bigger things.  Of that, I’m sure.  And it doesn’t just make a difference in writing.

My youngest sister is trying to clean out my sister Patty’s house to put it up for sale.  I mentioned my sister’s death a while ago.  Patty loved THINGS.  Cleaning out Patty’s house is a . . . chore.  Her house made me border on claustrophobic.  Every inch of wall space was filled.  Knickknacks were everywhere.  Pictures hung everywhere. It was almost overwhelming.

But on Saturday, I put on my crappy work clothes and met Mary there to start sifting through the big stuff.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m only small time help.  Mary’s doing all of the day to day, ugly stuff.  I’m just there for heavy labor.  BUT, Mary hates to cook.  Since we were meeting at one, I said I’d bring lunch.  Mary loves spaghetti, so I made a huge pot of that.  Enough for leftovers.  And, it made Mary so happy, it made me feel bad.  I take her and my cousin Jenny leftovers every other night, so that Mary doesn’t have to cook right now, but it made me realize what a small thing made so much difference to her.  That, and having a body show up so that she didn’t feel so alone.

It made me think about what makes the biggest impact in everyday life.  Sure, I have big goals that I’d like to reach.  But those goals come one step at a time.  Sometimes, one increment at a time.  And there are plenty of failures to make me feel that I’m not making any headway at all.  But what sustains me?  The small everyday joys of life.  My HH.  Friends.  Family.  Pets.  Anything that offers hope and sustenance.  When my rankings go up on Amazon.  When I get a good review.  Small things make a big difference.

In the very beginning of my writing endeavors, I was happy when I got a “good” rejection from an editor, when someone took the time to write a personal note on why they turned down my manuscript.  (And I will forever love Richard Chizmar from Cemetery Dance because of his nice rejections).  Ruth Cavin ALWAYS wrote a personal note when she rejected one of my novels.  And as weird as it sounds, those rejections made me feel like I was making progress.

So much of writing is impersonal.  (And that might be a good thing.  I don’t think I could stand facing down a choreographer or director to have him tell me I didn’t make the cut).  But one rejection after another beats the heck out of your writer ego, so any glimmer of hope helps.  Every ‘yes’ makes a difference.  Every “you almost made it” helps you carry on.  Well, it’s just the same with everything in life.  I watched Face the Nation this morning and listened to the many people talk about John Lewis, “the conscience of Congress.”  He had lots of setbacks, lots of “someday.”  But he carried on.  Because he had HOPE.  He believed in himself.  And he believed in America.   Hope’s what got me through.  I hope you have lots and lots of it.

Happy Writing.

Two more, and maybe another

The digital rights director at my literary agency is letting me put up my old urban fantasy stories on my own as self-published.  First, she has to take them down, and then I can load them under my own name: Judith Post.  It hasn’t been quite as easy as I expected it to be, but we’re getting there.

At the beginning of the transition, we worked on the Fallen Angels series.  Then Wolf’s Bane.  This week, she took down Empty Altars, Spinners of Misfortune, and Fabric of Life.  We hit a hiccup with the Fabric file, but we’ll get there.  There were only two books in the Tyr and Diana series.  I’d hit too many deadends for urban fantasy by then and moved onto writing romances before I tried a third.

In the meantime, I wrote a lot of short novellas and collected them into bundles.  That’s what we’ll work on next.  I’m especially happy I’m going to get to put up all of the Babet & Prosper stories.  All of you know, I have a fondness for witches and supernaturals working together.  Stick them in a fake version of New Orleans, and those were just plain fun to write.

Empty Altars and Spinners of Misfortune were special for me, though.  I love Greek myths and dabbled a little in Norse myths, too.  In this series, I got to combine the two.  Diana, goddess of the hunt and the moon, also known as Hecate to witches, is the protagonist in those stories.  She’s not a warm, nurturing goddess.  In fact, when it comes to survival of the fittest, she can be ruthless, just as Nature can be.  She also can call on hellhounds to do her bidding.  And at the dark of the moon, she can hunt predators to exact justice.

Diana’s runes call her to a modern-day, Norse meadow, but the mortals who live there have kept the old ways and still sacrifice to the old gods.  Someone, however, is trying to destroy the old traditions and to defy the gods.  Diana finds herself working with the Norse god, Tyr, Thor, and the goddess Freya to restore order to their world.

Almost everyone recognizes Thor because of the movies, but his other name is Donar, and he has wild, red hair.  I’d heard of Tyr but never paid attention to him until I started these books.  Tyr placed his right hand in the wolf Fenrir’s mouth so that the world would be safer.  When the wolf realized the trap, Fenrir bit off Tyr’s hand, and the god of war and justice now is an expert sword wielder…with his left hand.  Freya is the goddess of love and lust.  She and her brother, Frey, inspired the Norse Maypole tradition–and it wasn’t just about ribbons and wishing people a happy spring.  She makes Venus look maidenly.

It was fun combining the two sets of myths into stories.  Fabric of Life, if I ever get it loaded:), is a standalone.  I’m a horoscope junkie and teeter back and forth on the idea of destiny, so it was interesting to write about a modern day woman who has to take over the job of the ancient Greek Fates.  Before a new soul can come to earth, it has to stand on a scale, and Thea Patek weaves a bookmark of each bounce back and forth that create the journey of that person’s life and cut the thread at the end.  The bounces only create a map.  How the person reacts and deals with each turning point is his or her choice.  So, yes, the person’s journey is preordained, but not their life.  Freedom of choice determines that.

I’ve left ideas of gods and goddesses behind, for now, and I’ve moved to writing mysteries.  But that’s still a matter of life and death.  And mysteries pose their own questions.  That’s part of the joy of writing, isn’t it?  Asking a question at the beginning of a book and answering it at the end.

Happy Writing!


A new cover!

I’m trading back and forth, working on Lux #2 and a new Muddy River short fiction.  I’ve surprised myself, and Lux is getting close to done.  Then I can spend all of my time on Raven and Hester while my critique partners mark up Heirlooms To Die For before giving it back to me.

For Muddy River, this time, I’m trying a different type of cover.  So far, I’ve used images of people with a background I hope hints at magic.  This time, I found an image that I think captures the theme of the story.  See what you think:


And since I’m sharing the cover, I thought I’d share the opening scene of SURVIVAL, too:

Muddy River’s spring vacation usually brings bad weather.  I never schedule coven meetings during that time, so that I’m free of all responsibilities.  I love my young witches, but by early April, I’m as eager for a week away from them as they are to be free of lessons and me.

Days can be almost balmy right up until students leave my classroom on Friday, but that’s just to tease us.  Soon, clouds gather to deliver torrential rain, blinding snow, or hail.  It’s as though the heavens don’t condone our week off.

This year, we were supposed to get lucky.  According to Meda, one of my coven, her bespelled weather vanes predicted the sun would shine the entire month and the temperatures would be mild. I hummed as I waved my hand to lock the school before crossing the field to my yellow Victorian house.  A week of good weather.  A miracle.

Claws ran ahead of me, only stopping to check both ways before crossing the street.

“Don’t go too far!” I called to him.  “We’re leaving as soon as Raven gets home.”  My fire demon had decided that we should spend the week at the lake cottage he’d bought for getaways.  He was craving a little privacy.

His Lamborghini wasn’t in the drive, so I kicked off my shoes and headed straight to the kitchen.  I poured a glass of wine, ready to celebrate my last day of school.  Looking out the kitchen window, I saw Claws prowling the river bank that bordered the back of our property.  He could burn off some energy before we made the hour drive to our cottage.

I was sipping pinot grigio, letting my mind drift, when I heard Raven’s car pull into the garage.  A minute later, he pushed through the kitchen door.  Six-five and corded with muscle, with black hair and amber eyes, he locked gazes with me, and his look sizzled.  “Is everything packed?” When I nodded, he grinned.  “Brown’s covering the office while I’m gone, and Strike’s promised to help out if needed.  We have an entire week to ourselves, just you, me, and Claws.  I have plans for you, witch.”

It was about time.  Raven was Muddy River’s enforcer.  Between his job and mine, it was hard for either of us to get away.  I pointed to the suitcases and coolers sitting in the corner.  Swallowing the last of my wine, I stood.  “Let me change, and I’m ready.”

He licked his lips.  “Need any help?”

“If you want to get to the cabin by supper time, it would be safer if I did it myself.”

“Right.”  His expression turned lascivious.  “Everything in due time.”  He went to start loading my SUV.  Twenty minutes later, Claws curled on the backseat and I rode shotgun, wearing my worn jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt.  Raven turned away from Muddy River, and we headed north to enjoy ourselves and each other.


Hope you enjoy these.  I still have a decent amount to write for Raven and Hester.