Too many book boyfriends

I think Julia Donner writes the best male characters ever!  I like ALL of her lead characters, but when I read her Regency, THE HEIRESS AND THE SPY–if I wasn’t happily married–I’d have wanted me a clone of Peregrine Asterly.  But doggone it if she didn’t just keep writing more and more wonderful men.  I didn’t see how she could ever outdo herself until I read her historical Western, AVENUE TO HEAVEN, with Jake Williams.  Drool worthy.  Her newest Regency–the 11th in the Friendship Series–is available for pre-sale now and comes out May 1st.  It has all of her usual–wonderful characters, a luscious hero, and wry humor.  So I invited her to be a guest on my blog today for a Q&A  session.  I hope you enjoy it and welcome her.

Q & A for Julia Donner, A Laird’s Promise:

  1. I never thought about being a writer until I had my two daughters and, as a surprise, my husband signed me up for a class once a week, WRITING FOR FUN AND PROFIT. He wanted me to have some fun, and he picked the perfect thing.  I fell in love with writing.  You’ve always loved to write, though, haven’t you?  When did you get started?  And what were some of the first things you wrote?

Julia: I can’t remember when I wasn’t writing. Did the typical angst poetry thing during the teens then got serious about the craft when I had to give up theater. The first thing published was an article, not my forte, but it was romantic and dramatic, about the Monterey Cypress.

  1. You grew up in Galena, IL, didn’t you? Did you develop your love of history there?  What are some of your favorite periods of history?  If you could have dinner with one historical character, who would it be?

Julia: Aunt Marie, curator of her own museum, fostered it, made history come alive. I love all history and particularly drawn to 1800’s, ancient Roman & Egyptian and especially applying those two eras to Biblical understanding. Then there’s the whole archeology aspect. I’d love a chat with Jane Austen.

  1. Your eleven Regency books are part of the Friendship series. Some writers use a setting to connect their books.  Lord and Lady Asterly help to connect yours.  I was taken by Lord Asterly before I’d finished the first chapters in THE HEIRESS AND THE SPY, and happily, he and his Elizabeth play different parts in most of your novels.  Can you explain how that works?  How does friendship hold this series together?  How are the men in your novels unusual for their time period?

Julia: Asterly has a mysterious air, and Elizabeth is crafty, a bit sly. They have insights and talents as insiders in the political/social climate and offer aid to friends. In every book of the series, an aspect of friendship is realized, sometimes discovered and then strengthened. The series came into being to honor my friends. They’ve always been there when I needed them. It’s one of life’s most precious gifts.

  1. A LAIRD’S PROMISE takes place in Scotland, for the most part. Why did you choose that for your setting?

Julia: The fascination with Scotland became visceral when I first visited. There is something about the country and people that is very like US Americans. But it’s more than that. Something almost spiritual. The setting was chosen because it fit the characters and the plot. Not a very interesting answer, but that’s why.

5.The book before this was a departure from the Regencies.  AVENUE TO HEAVEN was the first book in your new Westward Bound series.  It’s historical, too, but tells of the American west.  Did you have to do a lot of research to write about a new setting and time period?  And what prompted you to write it?

Julia: Working in my aunt’s museum was like living in that time period. A great deal of research was needed about Native American cultures, which tribe would work with the story, its warfare history and cultural aspects. So many inaccuracies about Native Americans thrive to this day that it was important to get it right. I was fortunate to be able to speak with a Lakota tribal historian and find John Stands in Timber’s book.

I was prompted to write this story for reasons too personal to list. It’s the first book I’d attempted and put away for many years after endless revisions. Readers of the rough drafts encouraged it back to life.

  1. In your blog, you’ve said that you need new challenges to keep your writing fresh, and that’s why you write other genres under M. L. Rigdon. Do you have more Regencies and historical fiction to share with us?  Please, say yes.

Julia: The next book in the regency series is To Jilt a Corinthian, released this summer.

Every book has its own atmosphere and some are a bit darker or with aspects of mystery. For a change-up, I like to make the following one brighter with more humor. Here is a partial blurb for Corinthian:

Beatrice Allardyce is too busy for something as inconsequential as marriage. And love? A waste of time when there are so many books to read and a father who needs her care. Getting caught in a compromising situation with the haughty Sir Joceyln Warfield is definitely not a part of her agenda.

😊7.  Would you like to share an excerpt from A LAIRD’S PROMISE?

How about the blurb: Secrets from the past stand between Caroline’s determination to protect her mother and the struggle to hold fast to a love society deems above her station. In childhood, she and Alisdair were inseparable, but social rules and obligation to the title he will one day inherit tear them apart. When the truth is revealed, it isn’t Caroline whose station is lesser, but Alisdair, who must regain her trust and connive to bring the only woman he will ever love back home to Scotland.

And thanks Judy/Judi for this blog interview and your unequaled support and friendship!

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Follow M. L. Rigdon/Julia Donner on Twitter @RigdonML

The link for A LAIRD’S PROMISE:

Laird3 minimized copy




Aah, mysteries with food:)

First, before I start my blog, I want to mention that I put up chapter 6 on my webpage:  Enjoy.


That said,  it’s time to admit how much I love food in mysteries.  I mean, no surprise, really, since I love food in general.  I’m not one of those people who eat to survive or because I’m hungry.  I eat because I love cooking food, I love paging through cookbooks, and I love the nuances of food.  But the balance of food and cozy mysteries strikes a perfect ying/yang for me.  I think it started for me with The Cooking School Murders, a Eugenia Potter mystery, by Virginia Rich.  When Virginia Rich died, Nancy Pickard–one of my favorite writers–took over the series for a while.  Those books led to my love of Diane Mott Davidson with her Goldy Bear catering service, recipes, and dead bodies.

There are a LOT of food mysteries on the shelves these days.  Every cozy these days is married to a niche of some sort–sewing, knitting, gardening, or herbs.  That’s fine with me.  A niche adds another layer to a good who-dunnit.  I recently finished The State of the Onion, a White House chef mystery, by Julie Hyzy.  It was a good, solid mystery with lots of recipes included at the back of the book.  Sadly, Hyzy finished the series and  moved on to writing the Manor House mysteries–which she finished, too–and now she has a darker novel on pre-sale for October 23.

Joanne Fluke’s amateur sleuth, Hannah Swenson,  who owns The Cookie Jar, is so popular, the Hallmark channel made movie versions of some of her earlier books.  She has over twenty books in the series now and includes recipes in every book.

Which leads me to the fact that my editor asked me to include two original recipes at the end of my first mystery, THE BODY IN THE ATTIC, which will come out early in November.  I had Jazzi cook BBQ ribs in that book, along with bruschetta with a white bean puree.  I’m ardently in love with bread, and my husband is passionate about ribs, so I’d made both recipes and tinkered with them a lot.  For the book, I tried to blend a few BBQ sauce recipes into one, so I hope that works.  John loved it, but if I spread horseradish on ribs, he’d wolf them down.

For book two, THE BODY IN THE WETLAND, out in April 2019, Jazzi made cabbage rolls for Ansel–since they’re one of his favorite foods–and she served chicken salad for her family’s Sunday get-together.  I have an abundance of chicken salad recipes, too–I like to invite my sisters and cousin for a “tea party” once a year, and I always serve some kind of chicken salad, along with egg salad, ham salad, and cucumber sandwiches…and lots of finger desserts…oh, and tea:)  But my fellow writer, M. L. Rigdon/Julia Donner, offered to give me her “famous” recipe, a family secret, so what can I say?  I jumped at the chance.  The cabbage rolls are something I made for my mom’s birthday in January, year after year, until she died  After that, I couldn’t make them, but I think I’ll be ready again this coming January.  There’s nothing like steaming up the kitchen, peeling leaves off a head of cabbage so that you can stuff them.

I don’t know if you like cozy mysteries, or if you love to cook, but I think the two are a match made in genre heaven.  (Our very first tea.  I got better with time.)P1030059

I hope whatever you’re working on now is “delicious.”  And happy writing!

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Twitter:  @judypost


A Cover & Austen Reveal

Interesting details and thoughts on Jane Austen. Julie Donner’s Regencies focus on fascinating characters and the mannerisms of the times, too. And her newest book is available for pre-sale NOW!


The brain is a curious hoarder. So many facts and impressions are tucked away in its curly crevices. It was my critique partner (Judy Post/Judi Lynn) who pointed out a recurring theme in my Regency Friendship Series—how women of all classes in the past had limited choices. That didn’t stop the brightest or most stubborn from finding ways around pesky barriers. Austen was one of them.

Historical writing requires constant fact-checking, not only for integrity’s sake, but more importantly for me, keeping it real for the reader. Readers of the regency genre are avid students of the time period. It’s not unusual for them to be acquainted with activities in Parliament for any given Season. An error can catapult a reader from the story. This means that it’s like hitting pay-dirt for this anglophile when a fine work on the time period comes along. I just found Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen…

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Finally . . .

At last, after staring at my computer screen, lighting incense, and goading my Muse, I’ve FINALLY finished my plot points so that I can actually start writing my 3rd mystery.  I only killed one person in this book, and I have to tell you, it’s easier if more than one victim dies.  There’s nothing like a second body to send your amateur detective searching in new directions.  It took a little more mental strain to think of ways to keep the tension and pace moving forward.  I might not have made it if my cat, Dutchy, didn’t come to lie in my lap to channel inspiration to me.  For one thing, Dutchy can look innocent no matter what horrible deed he’s done and for another, he has no shame whatsoever when he does exactly as he pleases.  Great attributes for a villain.  Wonderful attributes for a cat.

It’s a good thing I finished my plot points when I did because my editor sent me his edits for my second mystery, THE BODY IN THE WETLAND, on Thursday and mentioned that when I finished making the changes he wanted, he’d like to see my ideas for book 3.  Now, I can send them.  I got lucky, because he only asked for five small changes–for me to add a few more details when I mention characters who had been in the previous mystery–along with his line edits.  I hope to finish work on those AND come up with 2 original recipes for things Jazzi cooked in book two, so that I can send him everything on Monday.

And then I can write.  I’m SO ready.  Even though I knew exactly what I wanted to happen, from start to finish, in book 3, spacing those events into 45 plot points (I didn’t make my goal of 50–and I don’t care), was like pulling teeth.  Yes–a cliche’ and not nearly as difficult as coming up with scenes for my book.  I guess it’s a balancing act.  If one thing comes too easily in a book, something else should make you wrestle with it, right?  Come to think of it, I’ve had books where NOTHING came easily, so I should just shut up and deal with it:)   But skipping the whole miserable process (this time around) never crossed my mind.  I’d played with my characters enough to know them, but I had to put my foot to their fannies to make them help  me.  Every writer has his/her own process, and without scenes laid out for me, I stumble through a book.  And it’s not pretty.  So I persevered.

The good news?  I’m ready to start hitting those keys!  Hope words are coming easily for you, and happy writing!


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Author Facebook page:

twitter:  @judypost