Friday, September 23, 2022

Interview with Author Pamela S. Thibodeaux


Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” You can sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story:

Question: What is the genre of your novel? 

Answer: “Edgy” Christian/Inspirational Romance 

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer:  I initially wrote Kyleigh’s Cowboy as a short story for a popular woman’s magazine then was told they didn’t do cowboy stories. WHAT? Who doesn’t like cowboys, right? Anyway, I decided to develop the story and now we’ve got a novella.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novella?

Answer: Kyleigh Winters is a widow who, along with her daughter and son-in-love remodels their vacation home into a small guest ranch in the Texas Hill Country. What she didn’t expect was a second chance at love or the purpose God has for the ranch. Lance Stevens has been a roaming cowboy for ten-plus years since he retired from the Marines but is looking for that place that “calls to the soul” which he finds the moment he drives through the gate of the Silver Star. What he didn’t expect to discover was the love of his life.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work? 

Answer: Sure! I have eleven published books/novellas including my 5-part Tempered series and one devotional titled, Love is a Rose which parallels the love of God to the lyrics of The Rose. All of these are available in Ebook and Print, and I am steadily working to get them in audio. 

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer: I’ve recently received the rights back to a novel and a collection of short stories so I’m working on getting those ready to republish in 2023. I’m also in the process of having audio versions of my books produced and available to the world of audiobook lovers. Those available now can be found on Audible.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: Nearly 40 years ago I got fed up with being disappointed by one-too-many-insipid romance stories. Pregnant at the time, I’m not sure if that was hormones or what, but definitely the impetus to my writing career.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: Be flexible and willing to learn and grow but stay true to yourself. Writing is a gift and talent from God. Don’t bury your talent or hide your gift. 

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: Kyleigh’s Cowboy is available for PreOrder NOW with the publication date of October 18th.


She’s attempting to start a new life. He’s roamed for more than a decade. Can they let go of the past and grab hold of the future?

Seven years after the death of her husband, Kyleigh Winters turned their old vacation home into a brand new guest ranch. Not willing to join the ranks of lonely women trolling the bars or online in search of a man, Kyleigh is sure if God wishes her to have another husband, He’ll send the perfect someone in His own time. But will she be open to the possibility of new love when He does?

Searching for a place that calls to his soul, Lance Stevens has been a roaming cowboy for ten years since retiring from the Marines. He finds that sanctuary the moment he drives through the Silver Star’s gate and meeting the lovely owner speaks to more than his soul. Will he open to the healing power of love?

Excerpt: The two women walked from Kyleigh’s log cabin to the two-story wood and stone ranch house. Already, guests mingled in the adjoining dining and lodge rooms. More spilled out onto the huge veranda that wrapped around the front and one side of the building.


Admiration laced Ramona’s voice. Kyleigh glanced at her daughter then turned to see what she gawked at. Her son-in-law, flanked by a cowboy, strolled toward them. Her heart did an irrational little twirl, pulse scrambled into high gear. Kyleigh bit back her own murmur of appreciation of the lean physique, muscled forearms and bulging biceps poured into the shirt stretched across a broad chest. Her fingers itched to stroke the salt and pepper hair peeking out from under his hat and curled over his collar. Smooth shaven for the most part, the man’s tanned cheeks hinted at a five o’clock shadow just below the surface. Sexy. Kyleigh shook herself mentally as the two men approached.

“I think we’ve found our wrangler.” Robert said. “Ladies, meet Lance Stevens. Lance, my wife, Ramona Evans and…” He grinned and bowed low, then rose with a flourish of one arm toward Kyleigh. “Mistress of the Silver Star, my mother-in-law, Kyleigh Winters.”

Eyes the color of dark roasted coffee swept over her in a gaze as potent as a caress, then locked with hers. Lance tipped his hat and grinned. A dimple creased his cheek. “Ma’am,” he drawled.

PreOrder Links:




Social Media Links:

FB Author Page:

Twitter: @psthib


Amazon Author Page:



Good Reads:



Your comments and questions for Pam are welcome here!

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Leisure Weekend Reading

A good friend pointed out that Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to relax. Her days have been stressful. Her solution? No work this weekend. Just relax and read for pleasure.

In fact, we still have some summer left, the perfect time to spend some time relaxing. Sit in the sun, lie on a chaise poolside, rest by the ocean or a lake, or under the shade of a tree, sip a cool drink, and read a book—hard cover, soft cover, audio or digital. 

Mysteries remain one of the most popular genres for summer reading. Why? Because they entertain us. They also engage our intellect in a satisfying manner. Romances provide us with a happy ever after ending, good escape reading. If you like reading for enjoyment, it’s the way to go. I just finished reading WHEN SHE DREAMS by Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz). This romantic suspense/mystery is the 6th in the popular Burning Cove series set in the 1930’s. It’s great escape literature. I started a new Angela Sanders mystery. Her witch mystery series is an excellent cozy choice. 

I’ve been reading a lot of Regency fiction of late as well. One of the authors I particularly am enjoying is Jane Ashford who has written numerous Regency romances. Another is Mary Balogh.

Lots of good summer reading on the bestseller list. However, there are excellent authors who write for small independent presses and provide us with quality fiction but don’t get as much publicity because they are not with the big publishers.

For adult readers, I suggest my mystery novel

Death Promise, a romantic mystery thriller published by Encircle and available on Amazon and other booksellers in both print and ebook editions. Also from Encircle:

Blood Family, my 5th Kim Reynolds mystery.

For readers of young adult fiction I suggest WITCH WISH from Black Opal Press, also available from most booksellers.

Intrigue Publishing is offering my adult romantic mystery THE INHERITANCE as a free read on Audible.

If you enjoy historical romance, I suggest SINFUL SEDUCTION from Luminosity, set during the American Revolution, or HIGHLAND HEART, historical romance set in England and the Scottish Highlands in 1745 at the time of the second Jacobite Rebellion.

You are welcome to recommend your own books as well so others will become aware of them!




Friday, August 5, 2022

Interview with Editor Vernon Smith


I am interviewing author/editor Vern Smith. He is the author of the novels Under the Table (a payroll heist on a Hollywood North TV shoot, circa 1989) and The Green Ghetto (an urban western set in the most depopulated region of Detroit). His novelette, The Gimmick—a finalist for Canada’s highest crime-writing honor, the Arthur Ellis Award—is the title track of his second collection of fiction. His third novel, Scratching the Flint, will be published by Run Amok Crime in 2023. A Windsor, Ontario native and longtime resident of Toronto, he lives on the wild blue yonder of the Illinois prairie.

Question: What is the title and genre of your new anthology? Why were they selected?

Answer: The anthology is called Jacked (Run Amok Crime). It’s entirely made up of first-run crime fiction, although not every piece is what I would call classify as genre. Beyond stories and novelettes that revolve around fractured laws, we decided to simply go after the best crime fiction we could get our hands on, without a single worry of what any of it could be about. In all, we had some 400 stories to audition and ended up running 21. All of which means each piece had to be very, very good, yes, but also singular in such a way as to give this book another gear. Or, in the words of my Run Amok labelmate Aaron Jacobs, the work couldn’t just be okay. It had to kick ass.

Ultimately, we settled on five decades of authors from five countries who give Jacked range in terms of style, politics, sexuality, gender, experiences of people of color, war veterans, an actual cop, and people who might not have always stuck to the letter of the law. There’s more to them, but I don’t pretend to know, which is sort of the point. Predominantly, we were looking to discover writers who were at least new to us, and I’ve just started tracking down their earlier works. To a person, each is magnificent.

Question: What inspired this book? How did it come about? 


Simply, I was pulled from bed into a virtual Run Amok Books meeting in which the ME, Gary Anderson, who was already running a fair bit of crime fiction on his Run Amok Books imprint, said he wanted to launch a new crime fiction imprint, Run Amok Crime. Best way to start, I suggested, was to put out a proper crime fiction anthology to beachhead what the new press would be about by finding stories that spoke to Run Amok Crime’s vision, which tends towards hardboiled. I was open to someone else being the editor, but everyone involved seemed to like the idea then just sort of looked back at me and said, you do it. Within a few weeks, the call for submissions was out there. 

Question: What are you working on now?

Answer: Mostly on a combination of editing matters and promo. With Jacked just out and my third novel, Scratching the Flint, coming in 2023, I’ve been primarily focused on helping to guide these two books through the minutia of the publication process, then doing my part in terms of getting the word out. So, as I’m beating the drums for Jacked, I’m again working with our key editor, Krysta Winsheimer, to get my novel shipshape, and that’s about the extent of my bandwidth for the written word at the moment. Otherwise, I’m doing a fair bit of gardening, Zen, if only I could keep the bunnies out of the dill.

Question: What’s your novel about?

Answer: In a nutshell, Scratching the Flint is a literary crime thriller that puts here-and-now into proper historical context by examining the lowest common denominators of policing. It’s the story of how conflicts of interest, casual racism, petty dissention, gatekeeping, and the slow death of information came to destabilize North American law enforcement, and, in turn, society. As much as it’s a crime story, it’s the story of institutional failure. For comic relief, I’m told I give you absurdities of the same.

Question: What made you start working as an editor?

Answer: I have past experience as a deputy news editor and a copy editor but Jacked is a different species entirely. The key part of being an editor here was the curation process, being the key curator. I worked in radio in another life doing music shows, so I’m pretty much at home with the selection process. If you’re doing it right, you’re looking well beyond your own tastes and limitations. You’re looking for range in all its variations, so I knew, to find that, we couldn’t just throw open the call for submissions and hope for the best. You have to know how to be a literary hunter and gatherer, looking for everything in hopes of finding some of the things. I’m a bit of a culture junkie anyway, so taking this on didn’t seem like a stretch. More than anything, I’ve been a reader of crime fiction for a good 30 years, and that’s really all you need to do to know from good. You need to be a dedicated fan.  

Question: What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing?

Answer: Wow. Not sure I’m the right person to ask, so you probably want to run this by the nearest adult. But for me it’s all about maintaining a sense of yourself during a time that actively discourages the same. You need to get to the place where you know what you think. I’m not talking about what your party thinks, your friends, family, coworkers, dudes making bold declarative statements on social media, or your clique. If your work is to be singular, you need to know what you actually think. Everyone needs a good editor, no question, but you have to be able to use your own words and phrases, as well as those of the voices in your head and whatever idioms you pick up hanging around the food truck. Avoid newspeak and gobbledygook at all costs. Your own ways of saying things will inform your characters and story so much better. Fiction, poetry, whatever, don’t bother with people preaching on what your work should be about. That’s for each individual writer to decide. So, you know, be an individual writer. Be singular.  

Question: Where and when will readers be able to obtain your anthology? 

Answer: Now through your local independent bookseller and online at:

Comments for Vern are welcome here!

Friday, July 8, 2022

Interview with Author/editor/publisher Harriette Sackler

I am interviewing author/editor/publisher Harriette Sackler. Harriette has served on the Malice Board of Directors longer than she can remember. After twenty years she stopped counting. As Grants Chair, Harriette loves presenting an award to unpublished writers each year to assist them along the road to publication. She is an Agatha-nominated short story writer and a co-publisher and editor at Level Best Books. Harriette lives in the D.C. suburbs with her husband and two very much -loved Yorkies. She is a proud mother and grandmother and has a passion for animal advocacy and rescue. In what spare time she has, Harriette crochets blankets for donation to charitable organizations, reads books by her favorite authors, and spends as much time as she can at the ocean on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Question:   What inspired Level Best Books? How did it come about?

Answer: Jacqueline, thank you for having me. In 2015, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Verena Rose, and I, collectively known as the Dames of Detection, assumed ownership of Level Best Books, formerly operated by a group of New England authors. We have been active in the mystery writing community for over twenty years, as authors, editors, grants coordinators, convention organizers, and publishers.

Question: Is Level Best limited to the mystery genre?

Answer: Level Best publishes both contemporary and historical crime fiction. Our Historia imprint is focused on historical (pre-1970) mysteries and thrillers. Our New Arc imprint highlights a broader range of fiction to include literary fiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Level Elevate features works for younger readers.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  Level Best Books is committed to publishing quality crime fiction and bringing new books and new voices and stories to a wide audience of readers. Our focus is to partner with our authors to create stories that entertain and inspire as many readers as possible.

Question:   You are a well-known mystery writer. What made you start working as an editor/publisher?

Answer: Many of my short stories have been published in a variety of anthologies and I was honored to be nominated twice for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story. At the present time, I’ve found it necessary to put my own writing on hold in order to concentrate on my Level Best responsibilities. 

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing?

Answer: I would suggest that any writer who wishes to submit a manuscript to a publisher, be sure you send your best work. Your manuscript should be well edited in a standard format. Provide sufficient information about your manuscript and yourself to allow the publisher to determine if you are a good candidate for publication.

Comments for Harriette are welcome here!



Sunday, June 12, 2022

On Writing a Mystery Series: Yes or No?


A while back, I was asked how I came up with the main character in my mystery series. I explained I originally got my inspiration to write a mystery novel with an academic librarian as amateur sleuth during the time of my library studies at Rutgers University. Completing my MLS degree, I was required to attend symposiums. One speaker was a Princeton University librarian who spoke about inferno collections. His lecture was so fascinating and vivid that I was inspired to do further research. I became convinced the concept of inferno collections would be an excellent frame for a mystery novel and discovered that no one else had written anything similar. (Briefly, inferno collections are banned books considered inappropriate for public display and reading. Often these were books deemed salacious and kept separate or hidden in libraries under lock and key). 

My novel THE INFERNO COLLECTION was the first in the Kim Reynolds series. It was published in hardcover by Five Star/Gale, who published two more of the novels in the days when they did mystery fiction. All three of the books received fine reviews. They were also picked up by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery for paperback editions and distribution.

Kim Reynolds isn’t me. She’s a creation of my imagination, as are the other characters in the series. There are now five mystery novels with Kim as the main protagonist. The fifth novel, BLOOD FAMILY, was released by Encircle and has also garnered good reviews.

 Level Best Books has contracted with me for a new unique historical which will be featured in their Dames of Detection series. (Publication date July 2023) Whether or not this will develop into a series depends on numerous factors. (Many of my novels are stand-a-lones.) 

I also created a series of short stories which feature Tom Atkins, a young attorney who ends up solving murder cases. He has been featured exclusively in SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE. (The current issue has a Tom Atkins mystery story.) The Sweethearts Detective Agency series has appeared in several different mystery magazines and anthologies as well and will continue. 

Should writers consider creating series characters? I’d say yes. If readers respond well to the initial book or story, it’s something worth continuing and developing further. Word of mouth and good reviews carry over for continued books in a series or short fiction. (Witness the success of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle among a multitude of others)

What series do you particularly enjoy reading or writing? Why?  Your thoughts and comments welcome here!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Making Mother’s Day Memorable


Some of the facts about Mother’s Day are surprising and unexpected. The idea of an official celebration of Mother’s Day in America was first suggested by Julia Ward Howe in 1872.  She became famous with her Civil War song, "Battle Hymn of the Republic". Anna Jarvis is actually recognized as the Founder of Mother’s Day in the United States. She never married or had children herself. However, she got the inspiration for celebrating Mother’s Day from her own mother Mrs. Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis, an activist and social worker. Mrs. Jarvis expressed a desire to have a day set aside to honor all mothers, living and dead, and pay tribute to the contributions made by them. 
 By 1911, Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state in the Union, and on May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.  Mother’s Day is now celebrated in several countries including the US, UK, India, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and Belgium. People take the day as an opportunity to pay tribute to their mothers and thank them for all their love and support. Sadly, Anna Jarvis became disillusioned by the commercialization of the holiday.

Today mothers are honored with many kinds of gifts: cards, perfume, jewelry, candy, flowers, plants. If a mother is a reader, books are great Mother’s Day gifts, either print or digital.

 What most of us who are mothers appreciate most is simply spending time with our children. Sharing a meal like a brunch or dinner together is one way of making the day special. If children live and work too far away to visit, a phone call is always appreciated. I hope to see my children and grandkids. 

My gift to other mothers is some free reading--since this is International Short Story Month as well. 

For a Mother’s Day story: 

“The Art of Listening” 

BEYOND THE BO TREE is a collection of ten romantic short stories of all types and lengths. Amazon offers the first one, “The Phone Call,” as a free read:

What are your thoughts regarding Mother’s Day? How do you think this holiday should be spent?




Wednesday, April 6, 2022

How to Increase Creativity

A close friend who recently suffered a major family loss as I did is doing her best to re-spark her creativity. I confess it’s been very difficult for me as well. She reminded me of an article I’d written on this this topic previously. I thought rewriting it would be worthwhile for myself and others.

 What to do when you need to spark your life force, rev up your engine? I’m not just talking about the creative arts. Every human being needs revitalization at some point. If we become discouraged, suffered a loss of productivity in our field of endeavor, there are ways to deal with it:

Get started by making some life changes. Get out of your normal rut or routine. Consider doing things you’ve never tried before or haven’t done lately. They don’t have to be dangerous or extreme either. 

Here’s one suggestion:

One health-booster is Meditation. Not something new but certainly beneficial. It’s referred to as “mindfulness.” Apparently, it creates “body-building for the brain.” It is both “anxiety-busting” and “attention-boosting”. I would refer to it as awareness and focus. By its very nature, meditation encourages creativity.

 Here are some suggested activities that increase mindfulness:

·        Breathe deeply concentrating on the act itself

·        Hug someone, focusing on the interaction

·        Eat slowly while paying attention to what you are eating

·        Take a walk somewhere—engaging in awareness of your surroundings

The key is to keep focus on the activity and not let your mind wander or worry, concentrating on positive thoughts.

This is just one method of increasing creativity which can lead to increased productivity.  

There are times when my creativity dries up like a plant in a parched desert. Writer’s block is something most authors face at one time or another. We lose that sense of purpose or inspiration. Sometimes it happens while we’re working on a story, article, or book. It’s happened to me when I get discouraged collecting rejection slips—a fate common to many writers. There are ways to get back on track. 

Get away from the computer and go for a walk. If it’s too cold or nasty outside, use a treadmill or drive over to a mall and walk around inside.

Visit a bookstore and browse. Buy a book that you’d like to read.

Visit a library and browse. Borrow a book that looks interesting. 

If you’re a fiction writer, read some nonfiction: books, magazines, and newspapers, in print or online. If you’re a nonfiction writer, pick up a novel to read. Try to read something you wouldn’t ordinarily peruse. Broaden your horizons. 

Talk to friends and family. Communicate with other people. Listen in on conversations you overhear in restaurants and at gatherings.

Visit a museum. Study the displays. Take notes on those things that interest you. 

Go to an art museum or gallery and study the paintings there for inspiration.  Put yourself into a painting. Who are you?  Where are you?  What are you doing?

 Take a trip somewhere you’ve never been before.

 Memory writing is a useful resource. You don't have to be famous to write an autobiography. However, many well-known writers have used memories effectively in their writing. Some examples are:




Here's a writing exercise guaranteed to produce results:






Another suggestion: keep a journal or diary. With this kind of writing, there is a sense of immediacy. We can capture feelings and impressions that might otherwise be lost. This can serve as excellent material for future work.

3. From Biblical times, dreams have been thought to be prophetic. Freud certainly found much to analyze. Keep a notebook and pen beside your bed. When waking after a particularly vivid dream, describe it in as much detail as possible.

 Whenever possible, read magazine and newspaper articles and clip those you find of particular interest. You can obtain many ideas and inspiration for your own writing from them.

There's an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. A good picture is worth at least that and probably a lot more. Inspiration for writers can come not only from reading newspaper and magazine articles but also from looking at the photos. Interesting photographs are all around us and are worth saving as a resource. 

There are many ways to improve your skill or writing technique. If, for instance, you have trouble creating good descriptive passages, try doing some sense imagery exercises.

Select a piece of fruit like a lemon or orange. Describe in writing what it looks like: color, shape, etc. Hold it in your hand. Describe the feel or texture of the fruit. Cut the fruit in half. Now describe the smell and taste. 

Music and sound can create mood and stimulate writing.    Try writing stream-of-consciousness technique while listening to music. Play three different types of instrumental music for at least ten minutes. Pause between each. Possible musical choices:  classical, jazz, rock. 

Be curious, interested in the world around you, and you can't help but find inspiration and ideas for your writing. Writer’s block is only temporary. Most important, never give up, not if writing is what you really want to do. Publishing success will come if you keep perfecting your craft.

Now it’s time for me to take my own advice! How about you?