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BHby Gayle Trent

Welcome, Judge Bill Hopkins! Thank you so much for joining us today to talk about your work.

DOD: Tell us about you latest book, River Mourn.

bh2Judge Rosswell Carew’s fiancée is still missing.(See Courting Murder, the first in the series). Because her last call  to him came from a payphone in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri, Carew arranges to hold  court there so he can pursue his search for her. When he witnesses  someone who resembles Tina tossed from a riverboat ferry, he’s plunged  into a nightmare world he never knew existed. Rosswell is astounded when he discovers that what he saw and the fate of Tina are intertwined.  Unable to convince the local authorities that something deadly is going  on, Rosswell teams up with his faithful research assistant Ollie Groton  to discover the truth. The excitement never lets up until the last page.

Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

The next in the series is Bloody Earth. Judge Rosswell Carew witnesses his friend getting killed on the steps of the courthouse in the river town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. When he investigates the death he discovers some dangerous secrets. It will be out in spring 2014.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I like to start writing early in the morning. I’ll quit around five. If I have to work at my day job (lawyer and I’m the boss), I’ll often take off during the afternoon and write until bed time.

When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?

The characters. Once I changed a character from female to male and it turned the whole story in a different direction. (Note: This is a good idea if you’re stuck in a story. Change something drastically!)

Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?

I love hard science fiction. If it’s been written since Jules Verne and has to do with aliens and space ships, I’ve read it.

Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

My wife (Sharon Woods Hopkins, also a mystery writer) and I promote a lot. We have book signings every chance we get. The best luck we’ve ever had is at craft fairs. I’m not sure why, but people who go to craft fairs love to read and they like local authors!

How long have you been writing?

All my life. The first story I wrote was about Robin Hood. I was about five or six. I don’t remember the plot.

Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?

T. S. Eliot. His use of language fascinates me.

What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

People want to read my words. That thrills me more than just about anything. I love my fans.

Tell us a little bit about where you live.

I live in the hills of Southeast Missouri. It’s got low population and beautiful scenery.

Mark Twain said, “Southerners speak music…”  Do you have a favorite southern saying you can share with our readers?

Mark Twain, a Missourian, has also been a great influence on me. One of the funniest sayings I’ve heard around here is when someone wants to leave the company he is in will say, “I’ve got to go. I’ve got a lot of rats to kill before dark.”

That is funny! Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?

Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl was an exciting adventure story. I also loved reading stories about Marco Polo and other explorers.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

I don’t know. I’ve got so many ideas, I’ll have to live another hundred years to write them all.

What are major themes or motifs in your work? Do your readers ever surprise you by seeing something else in your stories than you think you wrote?

My protagonist fights sub rosa against slavery, which is a problem in the world and in this country, especially sex slavery. The books are humorous but deal with exceptionally strong and serious themes. I don’t have anything graphic in the books, but there’s no question what’s going on.

Thanks again for talking with us today, Bill. Readers, please check out Bill’s websites:



My website:

My website with preview:

My Amazon Author Page:


Laurel-Rain Snow

Laurel-Rain Snow


My journey as one of the Dames of Dialogue has been more than four years long, and rich in interesting interactions with other authors.

Parting ways does not really mean goodbye, as I’ll be popping in from time to time, to see what the other Dames are doing, and contributing my two-cents worth in comments.

During the time I have spent here, I have also kept myself busy blogging, which has turned into something of an obsession, with numbers reaching twenty sites at one point, but now down to eleven.

In 2010, I participated in National Novel Writing Month and reached the goal of the challenge with 52,000 words toward a now completed manuscript, Interior Designs.  It continues the story begun in Embrace the Whirlwind, but focuses on one of the supporting characters from that novel.



Interior Designs
Meet Martha Scott Cummings:   an interior designer, an abandoned wife, and a newly single mother to her daughter Meadow.   Now she must begin an interior journey to reexamine the life she had, the choices she made, and to find the strength to begin again.

The manuscript has been through the usual edits, as well as Beta reads.  Now I have to arrange for formatting, book cover design, and publication.  Sometime this next year, I hope!

At the same time, I’ve also completed another manuscript I have called Defining Moments.  A story that follows one middle-aged woman through the new life she is forging after her husband’s betrayal.  And his betrayal is not the usual kind.  Not another woman, but a financial skirmish that leaves her reeling.


Defining Moments
What moments in our lives define us? Do our choices determine our future?   When unexpected events derail her life, Jillian McAvoy realizes that she now has an opportunity to carve out a whole new beginning.   But something happens to her along the way that threatens everything she hoped and dreamed about.   How can the obsessions and compulsions that seemingly take over her life lead to her newly redesigned world?


This story has also been through its edits, readers, etc., as well.  I have enjoyed my journeys with these characters and will definitely share my progress when they are out there in the world.

My five published novels are available on Amazon, with the latest one, Web of Tyranny, on Kindle, available there as well.

Here’s a blurb about Web of Tyranny:


Web of Tyranny by Laurel-Rain Snow is a proud, if poignant tale of Margaret Elaine Graham, a woman entangled in the trenches that epitomized her abusive childhood home only to flee into a stultifying marriage with Bob Williams. Seduced by the hope of achieving her goal of a college education and a life free from domination, she is blinded to Bob’s true qualities—and in a very real sense jumps from the pan into the fire. Oppression begets oppression and as Meg walks a thin line of human betrayal, she learns to stake her own claim to happiness—no matter how high the cost. Her fight leads to politicking during the radical antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s, which manifests as a near-compulsion, which will turn her world on end. Enticed by the possibilities open to her and chafing at the strictures of the marital ties, Meg bolts from the marriage with her toddler son in tow where a whole myriad of troubles await her.



To find out more about each of my books, check out my website at

Other Links:

Author’s Amazon Page

Author’s Blogs

Laurel-Rain Snow on Facebook



submitted by Dame Betty Dravis

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If you haven’t already, meet Madison Knight, the chocolate-loving detective, who is determined to solve murder and find justice for the victims—even if that means coming into contact with the sight of blood.

However, in Found Innocent, the latest release in the series (releasing October 16th!), she doesn’t have to face too messy of a crime scene, at least in one sense. What she does have to deal with is whether or not she’s willing to jeopardize departmental relationships and cross the wall of blue.

Here, this is what it’s about:

There’s one code when it comes to the wall of blue…and Madison Knight may have to cross it.

Any good cop knows you never report a brother for mishandling a case or accuse him of misconduct, but in order to find justice, Madison may not have a choice.

Lacy Rose had one goal for her twentieth birthday—to be found innocent of past sins—but her life is cut short.

When Lacy’s remains are found in a garden and the investigation becomes connected to a closed case, Madison must face her past. The lead detective on that case was Madison’s ex-fiancé. At the risk of jeopardizing departmental relationships, and churning up the attention of an old flame at the same time, Madison must push hard before the guilty are found innocent.

 Excerpt, Chapter 1:

“He didn’t do it!”Found Innocent 800 x 533

The hysterical shouting pulled Madison’s attention from her monitor to a woman rushing toward her.

The station was supposed to be quiet today. Sunday. She wasn’t required to be there, and that made it the perfect day to dig into her cold case.  She was so close to getting answers.

With one more longing look at her screen, Madison rose from her chair and held up her hands to stop the woman.

“Detective Knight.” She stated this as if they had met before.

Officer Ranson, the female officer who manned the front desk, came up behind them. “Come on—”

Another officer brushed past Ranson and slipped his hands under the woman’s arms. “Let’s go.”

He pulled on her, but she stayed still. Her eyes steadied on Madison.

“Please help me.” She attempted to shake loose from the officer’s grip.

Her frown lines were deep burrows, her eyes were sunken, and the flesh around them was puffy.  She appeared to be rough-edged, but there was something desperate about her, and she didn’t seem to be a threat to the lives of anyone here.

“I’ve got this,” Madison said.

“All right, your call.”  The male officer let go of the woman, and he and Ranson left.

 “I saw your face in the paper.” The woman held up the Stiles Times. “It’s you, isn’t it?” Her lashes were caked with mascara, and she blinked slowly. Madison wondered if the cosmetic had sealed her eyes shut.

Madison passed a glance to the paper. It captured a moment she wished to forget. A day when she had been forced to speak in front of a crowd and to take pride in the job she had done. The thing was, though, a good cop couldn’t care less about the recognition.

The woman sobbed, yet her tears didn’t affect her makeup. “He wouldn’t do this…”

Madison summoned patience.  A list of envelope-printing companies—which could prove to be a vital link in the chain of evidence against the Russians—would be on her monitor, right now.

She took a deep breath, passed another glance to her computer, and turned back to the woman.  “Come with me.”

Madison kept the woman to the side of her. Her first impression was the woman didn’t pose a threat, but she still wasn’t willing to sacrifice her back by leading the way into the room.

Inside, Madison gestured to a chair.

The woman dropped her red bag heavily on the table. It was large enough to serve as a duffel bag. She pulled off her jean jacket, folded it over the back of the chair, and revealed a pink sweater that displayed more cleavage than Madison could ever hope to see on herself. The woman went rooting through the duffel bag and she stuffed a stick of gum in her mouth.  She worked at chopping it into a soft, pliable distraction. It snapped in her mouth.

“Let’s start with your name—”

“Vilma with an ‘i’. Vilma Thorne, well, it would have been. My God, Kev!” She raised her face upward as if calling out to a Greater Being. Her gum chewing paused only momentarily.

 “Vilma—” Madison had to tune out the noise and the display of her open-mouth chewing.  “Let’s start at the beginning. Why are you here?”

Vilma stuck a finger through one of the large gold hoops dangling from her ears and leaned in.

Madison detected the blend of cheap perfume and cigarettes. Maybe—she inhaled deeper, trying not to appear obvious—it wasn’t perfume but whiskey. It was hard to discern. Her eyes appeared normal, except for the abuse of eye makeup. Besides the thick mascara, her lids were weighed with the color purple. Her pupils weren’t dilated or pinpricks.

Still, she didn’t respond to Madison’s question.

“Okay, Vilma, if you need my help, I need you to talk to me.”

Possibly this woman was on a new line of drug that disguised itself behind brilliant colors? Maybe this was a mistake and Madison should have let her get hauled away.

“My family is against what he did. But he didn’t do it!” Her voice rose, tears flowed. She stopped chewing and, sniffling, went rooting in the duffel bag again. She came out with a bunched up tissue and wiped her nose.

Madison’s tolerance level had almost reached its limit. “You keep saying he didn’t do it.  Do what?”

 A tissue still pinched on the tip of her nose, Vilma said, “He didn’t kill himself…someone killed him.”

Interested in reading more? See links below…

The Madison Knight Series is a clean, murder mystery series meaning mild graphic violence and language. Each book is self-contained so you can read any of the books, and out of order, if you wanted to.  Books in the series in released order: Ties that Bind, Justified, Sacrifice, Life Sentence (Prequel in which Madison has a cameo role), and Found Innocent. Carolyn Arnold started to take writing seriously six plus years ago when a co-worker said “tell me a story”. Since then she’s written nine novels and has plans to write many more. She has a love for the canine world and has two beagles that are affectionately named Max and Chelsea. Like her female protagonist Madison Knight, she loves her chocolate and has been known, on occasion, to speak her mind.






In celebration of the release of Found Innocent you can enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. You can enter as many times as you like and various ways. The contest lasts until October 31st. Enter here:

Gayle Trent Amanda Lee cozy mystery author

Gayle Trent/Amanda Lee cozy mystery author

Hi! I’m Gayle Trent, and I’m really happy to be the newest member of the Dames of Dialogue! 

Under my own name—Gayle Trent—I write the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series for Simon & Schuster’s Gallery imprint. Daphne is a lot of fun. She lives in the fictional town of Brea Ridge, Virginia, which is between the nonfictional towns of Abingdon and Bristol. She is forty, has narrowly escaped a bad marriage (her ex is in jail for shooting at her—fortunately, he’s a lousy shot), and has returned to her hometown of Brea Ridge to fulfill her dream of operating a cake decorating business out of her home.

Battered to Death by Gayle Trent

Battered to Death by Gayle Trent

Daphne has met some interesting characters. In the first book, MURDER TAKES THE CAKE, she delivered a cake to Yodel Watson only to find Yodel dead on the sofa in her den. Now before you think Daphne would just barge into a dead woman’s house, please know that the parrot told her to come in.

Daphne’s other adventures are detailed in DEAD PAN, KILLER SWEET TOOTH, and, coming soon, BATTERED TO DEATH. I’m thrilled that the front cover features a quote by none other than master suspense/thriller writer extraordinaire Dean Koontz. And, if that’s not enough to allow a writer to die happy, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY has called the book an “entertaining…and tasty read.” BATTERED TO DEATH will be out in September, but it is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and your independent booksellers. If you’d prefer, please request it from your local library.

Claus of Death by Gayle Trent

Claus of Death by Gayle Trent

I also write the Myrtle Crumb Mystery Series under my real name. These novellas are currently only available in Kindle format. The novella was born when I wrote a serialized story for a magazine called THE GRAPEVINE several years ago. I really enjoyed writing the character—a spunky, sassy, sixty-something sleuth—and so I’ve written three more stories about her. In the first book, BETWEEN A CLUTCH AND A HARD PLACE, Myrtle finds a note in a purse she buys at a consignment store and sets out to find a missing person. In WHEN GOOD BRAS GO BAD, she goes undercover at the middle school to clear her granddaughter of theft. In the latest book, CLAUS OF DEATH, Myrtle goes undercover as Mrs. Claus at the mall after the mall Santa dies on the job. The police say it was suicide, but Myrtle doesn’t think so. CLAUS OF DEATH is scheduled to be out in early fall.

Cross Stitch Before Dying by Amanda Lee

Cross Stitch Before Dying by Amanda Lee

Under the pseudonym Amanda Lee, I write an embroidery mystery series set on the Oregon coast. The protagonist’s name is Marcy Singer. Marcy left an accounting position in San Francisco at her friend Sadie’s urging to come to Tallulah Falls and open an embroidery specialty shop. The morning after Marcy’s grand opening soiree, she finds the building’s previous tenant dead in her storeroom. There is a tapestry needle in his hand, and he’s tried to scratch a message onto the wall. That adventure is chronicled in THE QUICK AND THE THREAD. The other books in the embroidery series include STITCH ME DEADLY, THREAD RECKONING, THE LONG STITCH GOODNIGHT, THREAD ON ARRIVAL, and CROSS STITCH BEFORE DYING (to be released on August 6, 2013). CROSS STITCH BEFORE DYING is also available for pre-order at Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, and your independent bookseller. Or request that your librarian order it! J

In the coming weeks, I’ll give you a preview of each of my upcoming new books. I hope you’ll enjoy them. I look forward to getting to know you all!

by Joni Lynn of Blue Harvest Creative

(presented by Dame Betty Dravis)

When Katie Jennings approached us about redesigning her bestselling series, The Dryad Quartet, we were beyond thrilled!

The Dryad Quartet is a contemporary fantasy series revolving around the fictional land of Euphora, where beings inspired by Greek mythology exist to preserve the balance of nature and human life, and to protect the living from the evil residing in the Underworld. Take a journey into a world where Mother Earth and Father Sky exist, secretly hidden from human awareness, and yet crucial to the creation and stability of our world. They are joined by those who control the elements, the Dryads, as well as the Fates, Muses, and Furies, all of whom play an integral role in preserving Earth and guarding those who inhabit it. 

We wanted to create something spectacular with the design of each book in the series. A design that would complement the beautifully written words of each story. We wanted to  fully immerse the reader into the book and mesh the words with the design to let the reader not only experience the joy of reading, but to also stimulate the senses with stunning graphics and typography for a complete reading experience. We wanted to create a complete work of art.

Katie Jennings creates all of her beautiful covers. She asked us to collaborate with her on the cover redesigns. We helped refine a few areas and with our suggestions, she created even more visually-stunning creations. And, most importantly, we helped her establish an author brand with front and back covers designed for marketability. Her new back covers also contain her publishing imprint, Sapphire Royale Publishing. The new designs for both front and back are styled to match the series

Old Dryad Front Covers


New Dryad Front Covers

new covers

Old Dryad Back Covers


New Dryad Back Covers


The next task was to create visually stunning and exciting interiors for each book. The Dryad Quartet consists of books that each use a different element in each story. We decided to use these elements to create the design and graphics for each book since they are such an integral part of the series.  A border strip was designed to incorporate the elemental feel of “movement” as well as to harmonize with each element.

The elements used in each book are:

 Air – Breath Of Air

Fire – Firefight In Darkness

Earth- A Life Earthbound

Water – Of Water And Madness

We created vector images to represent each element for each book. They were used for both the chapter heading as well as the paragraph separators. From left to right they are: air, fire, earth and water.


From left to right is the prologue page for each book:  Breath Of Air, Firefight In Darkness, A Life Earthbound and Of Water And Madness.


Each book interior was created using a combination of the fonts used on each front cover for headers as well as the chapter title. Instead of using a drop cap to begin each chapter, we took the first three words of each line and used a corresponding font from each front cover. Finally, we used Adobe Caslon Pro as the main interior font for each book in the series. We chose this because it is a softer font and also complemented all of the other design elements. As you can see, the beautiful graphics and design elements all complement each other yet each book has its own identity in the series.

Large Image for Firefight in Darkness Prologue Page


We also redesigned the eBooks and created eBooks that incorporated all of the same design elements as the print book so that readers would have the same reading enjoyment and experience.

And there you have it! The completely redesigned Dryad Quartet series. Immerse yourself in the fantasy…of words…and of design.

Katie Jennings is the bestselling author of the Dryad Quartet series and The Vasser Legacy series.

For more information on the author and her books, please visit Katie at her Amazon Central Author page:

You can also visit her website:

For more about Blue Harvest Creative, check our website:

Thanks, Dames, for having me as your guest today. You five Dames are highly respected writers with true gifts, and your site is very popular. My privilege to speak to your fans and friends. – Joni Lynn


by Dame Betty Dravis

betty with jack black bottles big smile 10 2012I was laughing like crazy when this picture was taken. Happy because mine and Barbara Watkins’s Six-Pack of Fear was just launched and doing very well. It was Halloween and I had some skeleton-head rings to dress my fingers and found some Jack Black bottles with skeletons on them. Since both books in the Six-Pack series have skeletons on the cover, that amused me…to put it mildly.

This photo gave me the idea to ask some authors what made them happy. I think you’ll enjoy their stories. And do get copies of their books. I also request comments at end of this blog and on their various sites, if you have time in your own busy schedules. :-)



Author Inglath Cooper Is Most Happy When…

Inglath Cooper

Inglath Cooper

Maybe we’re happiest when we’re with the people in our lives who know us best. Over the years, I have made many friends in different periods of my life. Many wonderful and amazing friends… But I am never more comfortable, more free to just be me than when I am with my mom and sister. We share so much history, so many good times, and our conversations are always peppered with those memories.

Here I am at dinner with them during a recent vacation to Palm Beach, Florida. It was a carefree week with much laughter and teasing. Another memory I will treasure.

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Author Laurel Rain-Snow Had “Miles to Go”

Laurel Rain-Snow

Laurel Rain-Snow

Picture the setting:  Circa 1970.  The world is our oyster, to coin an old cliché.  In this photo, I am in love and cooking Christmas dinner for my new man, who would become my second husband within a few days.  Shortly after he flashed this photo, I would drop the pan of gravy on the floor, but no worries…  I salvaged most of it.  And I kept smiling.

It was our very first Christmas dinner together and I was still a novice at big feasts.  He was teasing me about my domesticity (or lack thereof) and I laughed because I was nervous, but also happy.

Now imagine a scene from my novel Miles to Go when Lindsay and Jack are brand new and loving every moment of their lives together.  They would not begin to realize what would come charging around the bend within a very short time.  But in that moment, they are happy and in love.

In this photo, I was living parts of that story, one that I would create more than thirty years later.


PicMonkey Collage-stories in feb


Author Ashley Fontainne, Mother of the Bride

Ashley Fontainne

Ashley Fontainne

This photo of author Ashley Fontainne was taken at the rehearsal dinner of her middle daughter the night before her wedding. Ashley and her husband Michael were happy campers that night and throughout the wedding ceremony and celebrations. They were absolutely delighted to see their daughter and her groom so obviously in love, committed and glowing with happiness.

The entire family was there to celebrate the wedding. What a fun night! (This is a fun blog and I thank Miss Betty for inviting me to participate.)


Radio Show:

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Author Lin Stepp Enjoys “Miles” of Smiles

4 smile picAuthor Lin Stepp stands smiling at the beginning of a hiking trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; happy for Spring to be here at last and happy that her fifth Smokies-set novel, Second Hand Rose, was just released this month and that her hiking guide The Afternoon Hiker will soon follow this summer.

To read more about Lin’s books and to see beautiful Smokies photos, see her website at:

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What Makes Barbara Watkins Grin from Ear-to-Ear?

barbara smileOh yeah – that’s me sitting in my writing room with a big grin on my face! All you have to do is look closely at the photo to understand why. I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of two extraordinary directors–Armand Mastroianni to my right and Dimi Nakov to my left–and behind me is none other than the one-and-only…my sweetie, Johnny Depp! No such thing as ‘writer’s block’ when you’re surrounded by this much inspiration.

In 2012, I was thrilled to collaborate on a book of short stories entitled Six Pack of Blood with the legendary Betty Dravis, and then I struck gold again in 2013 when we released our second installment, Six Pack of Fear. pure gold! In 2011, I wrote my first novel, Hollowing Screams, and am confident it, too, will bring home the gold in the near future.

“Good things do come to those who wait, but only the things left behind by those who hustle.”

5b Barbara Watkins montage for Blood1


Young Wayne Zurl… The Story

Wayne zurl as a kid...Here’s a picture of little Wayne, the erstwhile sheriff of Brooklyn, New York and part-time singing cowboy, smiling as he remembers a fond moment from his younger days. Travel back to 1955, and stare into that twelve-inch, round, Dumont console TV. It’s Saturday night at . . . maybe 9 o’clock. James Arness (Matt Dillon) just shot Arvo Ojala (the bad guy in the black hat) in the opening credits of Gunsmoke. Every boy in the audience pulled out his Mattel Fanner 50 cap gun and twirled it on his trigger finger. Little Wayne was no exception.

The scene shifts to the Long Branch Saloon on the main street of Dodge City, Kansas. Doc Adams (Milburn Stone) is leaning against the bar sipping a whiskey and Chester Goode (Dennis Weaver) is holding a mug of beer. US Deputy Marshal Matt Dillon walks through the swinging doors and sizes up the barroom. Dillon is six-and-a-half-feet-tall. He stands with his legs moderately spread, his thumbs hooked over his gun belt, but he’s ready to pull out a long-barreled Colt if some hombre makes a false move. On that day, the outlaws of Kansas were busy robbing stage coaches on the prairie and all looked peaceful in Dodge.
Matt joined his friends, asked the bartender for a beer, and tipped a ten-gallon Stetson back on his head. The camera panned left as she descended the main staircase. Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) wore a dark, low-cut silky dress, the color of which was anyone’s guess; it was black and white TV. She stood on the ground floor for a long moment before joining those three characters at the bar.

Ninety-nine percent of the young cowboys in the TV audience shrugged and kept twirling their nickel-plated six-shooters, showing no interest in the woman, but not little Wayne. He looked at Miss Kitty and smiled. The kid was in love and prepared to face off against Dillon if the marshal tried to keep him from scooping her up into the saddle as he galloped down Main Street on his Appaloosa.

But Dillon didn’t have the nerve to let the kid draw first and he turned his back as little Wayne and Kitty rode off into the sunset.
Author website:
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Mind Wings Audio author page:

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Author Adelle Laudan Had Fun Viewing Old Photos

Let me start by saying, I was, and still am very camera shy. It was a chore trying to find a photo of me laughing. I had my daughter look through some older pics and she came up with this one. It was taken twenty-seven years ago at a surprise wedding shower. I remember being less than impressed at being caught with no make-up and wearing comfy clothes. By the looks of me in this picture, I got over it and had a fun time! LOL

What fun it was taking a trip down memory lane with my youngest. Thank you, dear Betty, for inviting me. I wouldn’t have had this special time, chatting

and giggling at pictures from years gone by if it wasn’t for you. I think next time I have my kids together, we’ll do it again.

Wishing You All Miles of Smiles

DOD Happy Author blog april 17 2013

Website –
Blog –
Facebook –

It’s release day for the 6th installment of my Women of Strength Series. It is titled Dani and you can take a sneak peek on my blog.


Former Playboy Bunny Victoria Taylor Murray is Happiest When Writing

vickie 2I was happy when this picture was taken; I was celebrating signing the contract for my first four-book series, The Lambert Series: Thief of Hearts,” Forbidden, Friendly Enemies, and Le Fin.  Since then I have written eight other books, Passed Down Through  Four Generations, The Shadow of Her Smile, Exposure Behind Closed Doors, The Scarlet Ribbon, and The Hall of Mirrors Series: The Hall of Mirrors-Book One, The Hall of Secrets, The Rock of Ages, and The Hall of Veils.

My current writing project is on the second book in my Passed Down Through  Four Generations series of cookbooks.  I’m from a family that consists of  four generations of male chefs and I must admit each and every one of them is a far better cook then the females in my family (smile).  Some of the family recipes are truly to-die-for.  I also have a book of poems…a work in progress.  I have won numerous awards and honorable mentions for some of my poems and song lyrics.  I have written two songs to my credits as well as 200 poems, long before I even penned my first book. 

Funny story about why I even started writing books.  What started out as a joke between two sisters and my sister’s favorite soap opera turned into a series of four books.  Who knew?  No one was more surprised than I.  I was visiting my sister one day during her favorite soap opera (Days of Our Lives) and she was angry over the storyline the show was heading in. She looked at me, shook her head and said, “Anyone could write a better storyline then the writers they have now.”  She cleared her throat and then said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea,,, Why don’t you write a soap plot and send it to them.”


I rolled my eyes and responded, “Thank you, I think.”  To our mutual surprise, I did just that! As it turned out, she loved the first book so well it turned into afour-book series.  Like I said before. no one was more surprised than I.  Anyway that’s how I began writing books. 

vickie's bookMy newest novel, The Hall of Mirrors, is my first attempt at writing a paranormal-suspens, a new genre for me.  I usually write romantic-suspense (my favorite), so my newest story has some romance in it. And I just can’t seem to stay away from the suspense or intrigue of a storyline.  My characters are always colorful and never dull.  In The Hall of Mirrors I have a few past lifetimes interfering with the present and what a delicious blend of past and present it is.  Hint: What does the son of darkness have to do with the daughter of light? Guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

(presented by Dame Betty Dravis)

cheryl for DOD blogI was born with a passion for books that started at a young age. One day, when I was about three, my mother caught me scribbling lines under each sentence of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. She was appalled. She thought I was defacing the book. When she asked me what I was doing, I said, “I’m writing the story.” I think even then I realized how important books would become in my life.

About ten years passed and I had a book collection that was the envy of my friends. I had every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book, plus numerous Bobbsey Twins novels and others. Every word was like gold to me―something to be treasured. While my mother read her romance novels and my father read his science fiction tomes, I slipped away into the world of youthful investigations, following clues and solving mysteries―often with a flashlight under my blanket. I was captivated by these authors’ golden words and often stayed way past my bedtime.

Reading is very therapeutic and can take your mind off stress and pain, so my books became my best friends, always there when times were rough. What better way to escape the mundane life of a pre-teen and forget about chores, school and low self-esteem issues than to bury oneself in an intriguing book? These stories took me away to other worlds, to ‘live’ other lives, if only for an hour or two.

As a young teen, I collected Barbara Cartland and Harlequin romances and other adult fiction. One day I was offered a job as a journalist for a small BC newspaper. I was thrilled. Masset Meanderings became my column and I was paid about $5.00/week. Years later, I wrote a health and beauty column for another newspaper. But my deepest passion rested in fiction and books.

At fifteen, I had a growing collection of Stephen King, John Saul and Dean Koontz books and was fascinated by stories of suspense and horror. Inspired, I began to write my first novel. It took me a year to complete and I was proud of that accomplishment. Yearning for someone to tell me it was good, I brought the typewritten manuscript to school and kept it in my locker until I could show it to my language arts teacher. However, when I returned to my locker, someone had broken in and my manuscript was gone, and since this was well before home computers and laptops, it was my only copy. I was devastated. This time, they were my golden words. And someone had stolen them. That day I learned that there is a deeper connection to the words we write. We own each word. If we have written something, those words have stemmed from our thoughts and feelings.

As a bestselling author of Canadian suspense novels who went from avid reader to avid writer, I have been blessed by words. I am not only a woman who loves to read, but an author who loves to impact other readers. After growing up reading books of every genre, I have learned to appreciate and respect those golden words as gifts given by an author. Books educate, motivate, inspire and enrich, and every one you read has the power to stretch your mind and imagination in ways that challenge you. A good book can make you shake with fear and check your doors and windows, make you question ethical practices, or make you feel better about yourself. Books can make you laugh out loud…or reach for a tissue. Words have power and reading is an investment, one that I believe is worth more than gold.

~ * ~

From Cheryl Kaye Tardif, the international bestselling author that brought you CHILDREN OF THE FOG, comes a terrifying new thriller that will leave you breathless…


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Submerged reads like an approaching storm, full of darkness, dread and electricity. Prepare for your skin to crawl.”

—Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author of 15 Seconds

Two strangers submerged in guilt, brought together by fate…

After a tragic car accident claims the lives of his wife, Jane, and son, Ryan, Marcus Taylor is immersed in grief. But his family isn’t the only thing he has lost. An addiction to painkillers has taken away his career as a paramedic. Working as a 911 operator is now the closest he gets to redemption—until he gets a call from a woman trapped in a car.

Rebecca Kingston yearns for a quiet weekend getaway, so she can think about her impending divorce from her abusive husband. When a mysterious truck runs her off the road, she is pinned behind the steering wheel, unable to help her two children in the back seat. Her only lifeline is a cell phone with a quickly depleting battery and a stranger’s calm voice on the other end telling her everything will be all right.

Get SUBMERGED today.

Learn more about Cheryl Kaye Tardif at and follow her on Twitter.


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cheryl Submerged Blog Tour



Carolyn J. Rose, author

Carolyn J. Rose, author

Almost all of us have been inspired by someone who strode the world stage, by larger-than-life personalities who took a stand at a crossroads of history, made supreme sacrifices, championed lost causes, created great art, or struck off into the wilderness marching to the beat of a different drummer. As was said of Lincoln, those people belong to the ages.

But there are other inspirational characters that play their parts on smaller stages—in the community, in the school system, in families, and in friendships. The impressions they make often don’t seem huge. They seldom result in sudden and dramatic realizations. Their impact is incremental. And the lessons we learn from them can seem miniscule—until those lessons become ingrained and sustaining.

My parents, getting up every day and getting on with their jobs (carpenter and nurse) and the work of raising a family in the years following World War II, demonstrated determination, perseverance, and creativity. I never thought “I want to be like them.” In fact, sometimes—when they were exhausted or short-tempered and not giving me the attention I craved—I was certain I wanted to be nothing like them.

But their traits took hold. The work ethic instilled in me remains so strong that it’s difficult to enjoy a vacation, laze away an afternoon, or relax enough to appreciate a massage.

My maternal grandparents, teachers both, taught me to read before I was old enough to go to school. There were few books for children back in that day, so my grandmother read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s stories before our afternoon naps beneath the chenille spread on the guest room double bed. She explained words I’d never heard before and challenged me to try to understand the characters and plots.

My grandfather, who napped in a chair in front of the TV early in the evening and refused to admit he was “really” asleep, often inspired me to choose adventure over a rest period. When my brother and grandmother dozed off, he’d appear in the doorway or at the window and take me to the garden, to a stream, or to the edge of the woods to tap maple trees for sap to boil down into syrup.

Then there was Miriam Smith, my high school English teacher. She had tremendous energy and force of personality and she pushed us to think—an experience I often dreaded. “What’s the theme of this poem?” she’d ask. I’d cringe and slump in my chair, hoping for invisibility, but knowing she’d spot me and challenge me.

In that age before classroom tech tools, she drew Picasso’s Guernica on the blackboard with white chalk to prepare us for a trip to the Museum of Modern Art to experience artistic focus and perspectives. When we arrived at MOMA, we each drew a slip of paper with the title of a painting. Our objective was to study the painting and write about it. I drew Evening, Honfleur. I remember thinking it was a bunch of dots, not a painting, at least not a painting as I thought one should be.

As I was scheming ways to sweeten the pot and swap with a friend for the title of an artwork that “made sense,” Miriam Smith arrived at my side. She had me step back, then move in close, then step back again. Long after she went off to help the next student, I studied that painting, moving clear across the room, peering at it from the far right and left, even taking off my glasses and squinting.

I can’t remember what I wrote and handed in for that assignment, but I do know I’d like to have a chance to do it over. Nearly fifty years later, the memory of Seurat’s tiny dots and Miriam Smith’s efforts to make me see the big picture—as well as its many elements—inspires me.

When I’m 25,000 words into a novel and overwhelmed by all the words still to be written, I think of those tiny dots of color. Then I think of my parents’ determination to see a job through—one day and one chore at a time. Then I focus on the sentence in front of me.

And, on those days when the revision on my latest project (the sequel to No Substitute for Murder) isn’t getting done because I’m tired or distracted or stuck or every new phrase I write seems as crappy as the one I’m revising, I reach back for inspiration from my grandparents. Then I crawl under the bedspread for a rest, or go out and stalk an adventure.

Who inspires you?

Drop by and leave a comment. If the Dames draw your name, I’ll send you a copy of my most recent release, Sea of Regret, or one of my other titles.

Sea of Regret by Carolyn J. Rose

Sea of Regret by Carolyn J. Rose

Carolyn J. Rose is the author of several novels, including Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and No Substitute for Murder. She penned two humorous cozy mysteries, The Big Grabowski and Sometimes a Great Commotion, with her husband, Mike Nettleton.

She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers and is an active supporter of her local bookstore, Cover to Cover. Her interests are reading, gardening, and not cooking.  Website

Swedish Smorgasbord by Laurel Rain-Snow
Swedish Smorgasbord by Laurel-Rain Snow

Swedish Smorgasbord by Laurel-Rain Snow

My favorite Christmas moments in childhood involved my maternal grandmother. She was my absolute favorite adult person, and I loved hearing her stories about Sweden, where she lived until she was twenty.  Several of her family members immigrated into the US during the early Twentieth Century. As a result, many of them lived around the small town where I was born.

On Christmas Eve, a regular tradition was a Swedish Smorgasbord. I wish I had photos of the feast that appeared out of the old country kitchens.  Here is a photo that resembles those I remember.  Bread, butter, and cheese are always part of the smörgåsbord. It is customary to begin with the cold fish dishes which are generally various forms of herring, salmon or eel.  After eating the first portion, people usually continue with the second course (other cold dishes), and round off with hot dishes.
The best part, of course, was the feeling of being part of something special. My grandmother had that effect on everyone around her.

Only on Christmas Eve by Maggie Bishop

Pearle and Lyle D. Bishop II

Pearle and Lyle D. Bishop II

Hand tooled cover by Lyle D. Bishop II

Hand tooled cover by Lyle D. Bishop II

Way back in the 1940s when Dad was stationed in post WWII Germany, he hand tooled a book cover in leather and cut out pages from a Reader’s Digest issue of the story “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore.  This issue had cartoons of Bugs Bunny before the story so Dad included those.

Mom and Dad (Pearle and Lyle D. Bishop II) were pro ski-patrollers at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort in North Carolina for over twenty years.  Dad was Skiing Santa and would come home from a day on the slopes skiing in costume (with a foam belly strapped to his midsection), gather the family, and open the leather bound pages.  He had sported a white beard and mustache  ever since he retired from the Air Force (followed by ten years in the Civil Service) in the 70s.

Mom would bring out the Rice Krispie with marshmallow treats she’d made along with hot chocolate.  The lights on the Christmas tree twinkled and we’d play “I spy” where one of us picked out an ornament, gave a brief description, then the other four kids would try to find it.  The game helped burn off some of our excitement-charged energy which had grown as Christmas approached.

Bugs Bunny from Freaders Digest 1943

Bugs Bunny from Readers Digest 1943

Until we grew too large, the smallest of us five kids would sit on Dad’s lap.  Later, one of us sat on the floor by his feet.  We’d sit quietly and listen to his strong, soothing voice as he read the story.  Visit Maggie Bishop’s Amazon Author Page for information about her novels.


Holiday Traditions by Christy Tillery French

I can’t think of any holiday traditions in my family growing up. I guess with 5 kids, my parents never had time to establish any. Oh, wait, there was one thing my mother always did: gave us each a box of chocolate-covered cherries. I tried this with my kids but my daughter finally told me she and her brother hated chocolate covered cherries boxchocolate-covered cherries so I stopped.

My dad always made eggnog, a drink I never liked but I’d drink it anyway just to please him. eggnogI’ve never developed a taste for eggnog for some reason even though I try it occasionally just to see.

With my own family, we established what I consider a somewhat redneckish tradition – Christmas mornings, after we opened our gifts and cleared away the wrapping paper and ribbons, we’d troop down to our local Waffle House for breakfast (it was the only restaurant waffle houseopen on Christmas day). When they were little, my daughter and son always considered that a special treat, I guess because that’s the only time we ate there.

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and happy New Year (that is if the zombie apocalypse doesn’t occur on 12/21)!

Visit Christy Tillery French’s Amazon Author page for more information about her novels.


The Personal Touch by Caitlyn Hunter

Like Christy, I don’t remember many Christmas traditions from our childhood. Yes, I remember the chocolate covered cherries (I still buy a box every Christmas–love those things!) and the eggnog (I agree with Christy on that one!) but other than that…I’ve got nothing.

As for my husband and I, we have only a few traditions and only one that has lasted the 37-year course of our marriage: one special ornament for the tree every year. Some were gifts and some we bought ourselves, but there is always at least one new ornament and in most cases, it’s something that has a special meaning to one or the other of us.

009Take, for example, this ornament. Yes, it’s a model of the shuttle craft from Star Trek. My husband is a big fan of the original series and all the movies spawned from it. Along with the shuttle craft, there are at least seven other replicas of various space vehicles, most of which I have no idea what they are, from Star Trek. This one is different from the others because not only was it the first, it also talks. Seriously, just push the button on the bottom and Spock says “Shuttle craft to Enterprise. Shuttle craft to Enterprise. Spock here. Happy holidays. Live long and prosper.” That ornament is always one of the first to go on our tree.011

Along with the Star Trek ornaments, there are also multiple UT football (once a passion of his) ornaments. All in bright, bright orange and all placed in as discreet and hidden place on the tree as I can find. Don’t judge me, bright orange is not a Christmas color!

So for my Scrooge-alicious husband, it’s Star Trek and UT football. For me, it’s many things; snowmen, penguins, polar bears, and Santa Claus. Much more festive and, in my eyes at least, much prettier. One of my favorites is from one of my favorite Christmas movies, It’s a Wonderful 008Life. It has a picture of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed on one side and on the other it says, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.

But this year, this year is the year of the snowflakes! I’ve always loved snow and always long for a white Christmas (which I never seemed to get until we moved to Maine–it’s almost guaranteed there!) and I always had crocheted snowflakes on the tree, but they were getting a little ragged so this year I replaced them with plastic, glitter-covered ones. So pretty on the tree and much easier to hang. And since the chance of a white Christmas is slim where I live now, it’s a sure-fire way to brighten up my holiday!


 Happy Holidays, everyone!

Visit Caitlyn Hunter’s Amazon Author Page for more information about her novels.

Everything about Christmas is a Tradition

by Betty Dravis

christmas nativityThe most universal tradition of Christmas is giving gifts to those we love, commemorating the greatest gift God gave to us, His Son Jesus Christ. From time immemorial people have enjoyed celebrating Christ’s birthday. Just as various countries have different traditions that grew naturally from their own unique circumstances and environment, different families have developed their own traditions, also.

The traditions passed on to my children are the same ones passed on to me from my Kentucky/Ohio relatives (Bargers and Crawfords).

Like Christy (story above), I don’t recall anything about my childhood Christmas holidays that were unique to our family. It seems that everyone did the same—or very similar—things: bringing home and decorating the Christmas tree, baking cookies and other sweets, wrapping gifts and hiding them from the little ones, last-minute shopping…

kids-decorating-christmas-treeI fondly recall stringing popcorn and cranberries with my six siblings, making “homey” garlands to add to our tree, and my father making eggnog, which we pretended to like. I suppose the most unusual thing was my father roasting chestnuts in the oven. And an especially welcome treat was when weather conditions permitted, we’d often get to have snow fights and ice-skate on the vacant lot down the block. You see, it would freeze over pretty often in those cold Ohio winters…

Later when I had my own children and lived in California, we did the same things our parents before us had done, but by then we had the gorgeous shopping mall decorations to add to the splendor and shopping expeditions were much more fun, especially when we managed some magnificent photo ops. Another difference is that if we want to ice-skate we need to go to an indoor rink and head to Lake Tahoe for snow-fights! And no more “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” :-) Oh, well, we can’t have everything!

Yes, the Dames are fun-loving gals, often managing to keep the "snow-fighting" tradition alive at Christmas!

Yes, the Dames are fun-loving gals, often managing to keep the “snow-fighting” tradition alive at Christmas!

One thing I have always noticed about our Christmases is that this holiday is not centered around food as so many others are. I know my six children were much too excited about opening their presents to think about food. Our tradition was to get up ahead of the kids, have our coffee and tea in private while baking a big tray of cinnamon rolls. Keeping the otherwise hectic day simple, after opening their gifts, the kids ate rolls, milk and orange juice for breakfast. For the other meals, we would dip into the ham and baked beans that I’d prepared earlier. On several occasions, we all went out to dinner.

Devon and Christmas Tree 2011

Betty’s great-grandson Devon helps trim the Christmas tree.

No matter what your traditions, it’s most important to “remember the reason for the season,” which we always do by singing Christmas carols and attending church.

I wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all…

For more about Betty and her books, visit her Amazon Central Author page:


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Obsolete by CT French

Obsolete by CT French (Christy Tillery French)

Obsolete by CT French

One Shot too Many by Maggie Bishop

One Shot too Many by Maggie Bishop, mystery

One Shot too Manyby Maggie Bishop, mystery

Six Pack of Fear by Betty Dravis and Barbara Watkins

Six Pack of Fear by Betty Dravis and Barbara Watkins

Six Pack of Fear by Betty Dravis and Barbara Watkins

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Web of Tyranny by Laurel Rain Snow

Web of Tyranny by Laurel Rain Snow

Winds of Fate by Caitlyn Hunter

Winds of Fate by Caitlyn Hunter

Winds of Fate by Caitlyn Hunter

Battered to Death by Gayle Trent

Battered to Death by Gayle Trent


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