Friday, May 12, 2023

Interview with Author/Editor Vernon Smith



Today I am interviewing Vern Smith, who LitReactor recently crowned “a new crime-fiction intelligentsia.” Smith is the author of the novel, Scratching the Flint, just released by Run Amok Crime. He is also the author of the novels Under the Table and The Green Ghetto. 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. A former investigative journalist, self-described political hack, broadcaster, and caddy (yes, golf), the Windsor, Ontario native and longtime resident of downtown Toronto now lives on the outskirts of Chicago, which is where I caught up to him to talk about his new novel and the state of policing, as well as his process, Thomas Pynchon, Artificial Intelligence, Joe Strummer, the Hays Code, and his brand new Chinaski Award.


Question: What is the genre of your novel? And how do you unpack it for people?

Answer: Scratching the Flint is a hardboiled literary crime thriller that puts here and now into proper historical context by casting a harsh light on the lowest common denominators of policing. Set in (just) pre-9/11 Toronto, it’s the story of how conflicts of interest, casual racism, petty dissention, gatekeeping, and the slow death of real 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: Indeed, they say it’s Pynchon-esque.

Answer: They say—I have no idea what they are on about, and that’s the beauty of it. Upon the release of all three of my novels, someone has invariably mentioned Mr. Thomas Pynchon and I in the same breath. I feel myself get hot and blush every time, because Mr. Pynchon is seriously accomplished and I haven’t read any of his works. Whenever I say that, people are quick to tell me which of Mr. Pynchon’s books to read first. I mean no disrespect whatsoever and intend to correct the issue when things wind down in a few months. While that’s going on, I do believe in reciprocity, so maybe someone aware of Mr. Pynchon’s whereabouts could tell him which of my books to read first. Now that would be a community service. 

Question: Over the years, your name has also been mentioned in the same breath as Phyllis Diller, William S. Burroughs, Quentin Tarantino, Elmore Leonard, Jim Dodge, and Ishmael Reed, among others. What do you make of all that?

Answer: First off, I’m terrified of Ms. Diller rising from the ashes and ripping my face off. I like to have a good time, yes, but I’m not a comedian and I can’t carry her cigarette holder. As for the rest, I haven’t read some of them, either. Still, while that’s all valuable for blurbs, which do sell books, something we need to do, I have not accomplished even a sliver-of-a-sliver-of-a-sliver-of-a-sliver of what those artists have accomplished. So again, I feel myself get hot and blush. I guess people need to pigeonhole matter—me too, as much as I try to avoid it—and that’s fine because they’re usually trying to express that they like the book, which is all I can reasonably hope for. But I don’t deserve or desire to be anyone other than myself, and I like to believe that makes my work singular, however it is pigeonholed.

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

Answer: It’s a collaboration between my younger self and me as old man Smith. The story started round about the turn of the century when I was reporting on crime in Toronto, then forgotten during my most-excellent adventure in broadcasting. I found it in a box of manuscripts when I was piecing together my short-fiction collection, The Gimmick. At that point, Scratching the Flint was a 27,000-word novella, a mystery. I decided that I liked it and put it aside while I finished other projects. When I returned to it, I further decided that I don’t write mysteries. I write crime. So I made adjustments that way, which gave me an opportunity to flush out my criminal characters, because I didn’t need them hiding the in shadows anymore. But what really inspired me to get down and finish this story was the news coverage of anti-police actions from about 2016 to 2020. Let me be clear: Plenty of individuals on the ground protesting were talking about all the things enabling police policy and behavior—not the least of which was U.S. private-prison interests donating large to both parties long before and through the 2020 election. Little of that was being reported because it is impolite to talk about where political parties here get their money. Instead, the news coverage across North America sort of degenerated into vague platitudes roughly translating into “bad cop, no donut.”  

As a former crime reporter in Toronto, I knew, frustratingly, that the reality was deeper, and I felt Scratching the Flint was already tracking towards becoming a useful document of institutional failure when I found it, so I just let myself keep going in that direction until the final cut hit 70,000 words and change. While I did not cherry-pick the future, hindsight most definitely gave me a focus for the things that were of chief importance in the first draft, the things that made the story plausible in the first place. 

The complicated reality is that, for all the media’s bluster, we still haven’t earnestly got down to even talking about how to change the ways our political bureaucracies operate around policing and related matters in terms of money, power, and race, as well as influence over policy, procedure, and institutional culture. In short, we should be very interested in police malfeasance, yes, and we should be just as interested in what informs and enables the same. I like to think Scratching the Flint helps square that up.

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

Answer: While a fair number of readers have expressed a vague desire to pal around with Mitchell Hosowich, the main protagonist in my first novel, The Green Ghetto, there are no role models, saviors, heroines or heroes in any of my novels, I’m pretty sure. For me, they make it difficult to blur the lines between good and bad, and I like to see those lines blurred. So, what we have here is an aging black fraud detective, Alex Johnson, trying to keep a leash on his mouthy young white partner, Cecil Bolan, who’s childhood friend has just been mocked and executed. While I had no end of fun spending time in their heads, listening to them argue over music, relationships, clothes, decorum, socio-political matters, and police issues, the sober matter here is that our political bureaucracies have historically provided the necessary camouflage for cops like Alex and particularly Cecil to operate. In other words, on both micro and macro levels, it’s no mistake that either made detective, let alone cop, but it is absurd. They are who the power structure wanted and that is why they were protected. That’s what makes their story plausible in 2001 and relevant today. Given Cecil’s age, he is likely still in the police system and making the news for all the wrong reasons. To a certain extent, he was and is representative of a police subculture. So long as he’s still there, Scratching the Flint is the story you get, and that’s a story lacking justice. Don’t anyone put that on me. Put that on your elected representatives.  

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


Jacked, the crime fiction anthology I edited and curated, just won the Chinaski Award from the Independent Fiction Alliance. So please raise a short glass of port to the 21-derful authors of Jacked and my colleagues at Run Amok Crime who made it all happen. And please grab a copy for yourself to see what all the fuss is about. The reviews of these 21 authors are through the roof.

As for my own work, Under the Table, my second novel, is a payroll heist set on a Hollywood North TV shoot, circa 1989. I was briefly a production assistant during my second youth and that’s what inspired the book. Hook of it is that Hollywood North grunts used to be paid in cash at the end of their shoot, so that put a great deal of hard currency in one place at one time, sans security, which paves the way to the payroll heist.

My first novel, The Green Ghetto, is set in the most depopulated region of Detroit. And so, crime-fiction collides with an urban western when a dope-growing, mail-order cowboy gets caught up in the war on terror in post 9/11 Detroit. Old-time country musicologists will love it, I think.

My novelette, The Gimmick, introduces readers to Alex and Cecil, and that’s the title story of my second collection of fiction, which came out on the first official day of the pandemic in America.

Otherwise, I did a handful of chapbooks in the ‘90s, two of which were collaborations with the great Toronto pop artist, Joey DAMMIT!. I’m proud of those, as I am of the lost wrestling zine I did with a future NHLer in the ’70s. And I lovingly refer to my first collection of short fiction—it’s really a na├»ve novel in stories—Glue for Breakfast, as my disco album.

Question: What are you working on now?

Answer: Other than beating the drums for Scratching the Flint, I sort of went over the dark side after editing Jacked. Gary Anderson, the ME at Run Amok, was pleased with the way that turned out, so he made me Editor at Large, which, as I’ve said, essentially makes me a glorified manuscript scout, so I’ve already brought in some new titles and I’m aiding and abetting our fab editor Krysta Winsheimer, the unsung hero of Jacked, in helping to guide some of our new books through the publication process. We’re wrapping the guts on A Good Rush of Blood by Matt Phillips, and I just saw the first cover mock-up from our man at the border, Garth Jackson. That’s going to be a great Run Amok Crime title, and readers will thank Krysta for having the foresight to bring that one in. Look for it in the fall. A couple months from now, you’ll see a novel from Aaron Jacobs called Time Will Break the World. A long-time fan of Aaron’s, I’m looking forward to that as I haven’t seen it yet. Otherwise, I will be co-editing a yet-to-be-announced anthology on a separate press and I’ll have news on that down the pipe.

Question: What made you start writing?

Answer: I always seemed to have an aptitude for skills that don’t pay well enough, and most everything I’ve done up until now—journalism, backroom politics, and broadcasting—relied on my ability to write. Even caddying—which is probably the favorite of all my jobs—relied on my ability to do research, anticipate weather and wind patterns, take notes, document, measure, and communicate my findings in short order. But I didn’t really get serious about writing fiction until I was trying to impress an artsy academic feminist who took me to a depressing East German film round about the turn of the century.   

Question: Did it work? 

Answer: Yes. We’ve been sleeping together ever since. 

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

Answer: As someone who made major life decisions at 15 on the basis of Joe Strummer lyrics, I’m not sure answering this would be entirely responsible, but what the hell? You asked.

First off, while I do not wish to discourage people, you must have your eyes wide open, especially if you’re just starting. Know what you’re getting yourself into before you leap. Given the rapid progression of AI, for instance, I can confirm—as someone who read 400-some short-story subs last year—that you will be competing against “content-technicians” who are leaning on machines for editorial input well beyond spellcheck. And as much as the odd La-La Land talking head is blowing AI off as no biggie, it is being actively deployed and refined. So, you know, have a plan to deal with that as an ethics matter and stick to your plan.

 Beyond, you want a good snapshot of the general state of publishing, bookstore failures, and the impending recession, something else we’re not supposed to discuss. I don’t think life-changing sales are a reasonable expectation for most at this very point in history, what with the way the written word continues to be devalued, and that includes Big 5 authors. You need to be aware of all that and come up with reasonable goals and navigation strategies. Me, I try to bow to the artefact and be satisfied with the fact that my work is out there the way I want it. I mean, you do need to do your utmost in terms of promo, supporting your publisher who is supporting you, but for me personally, everything beyond the artefact is pure gravy.

In order to do it like so—if that’s consistent with your goals—you just need to follow mom’s advice. She would always tell me, know who you are and know what you think, and she still says it. I didn’t entirely understand what she was on about until maybe the last 15 years. And if there’s ever a time when that’s important, particularly as a writer, it’s now. Societies across the spectrum are demanding a certain amount of sameness, hence Hollywood’s lust for AI which, according to my sources, will further sanitize stories, and if you disagree on one thing—just one thing—someone’s going to displace their dookie and everyone’s going to cry. So, you certainly want to be human enough to hear out reasonable people who disagree with you, and you want to challenge yourself, learn from those conversations, and take something to metaphorically chew on as you evolve. Otherwise—and I don’t care what side you’re on—you’re probably roughly the same kind of jackass you’re complaining about.

All the while, if you’re going to write something singular, you will need a vague yet tangible foundation to keep your feet on the ground. So yeah, other than to suggest that my American friends might want to unlearn parts of the Hays Code that somehow seeped into their psyches, yuck, I would defer to mom here: Know who you are and know what you think. Worst case, that advice will keep you somewhat sane in a world that is so clearly otherwise.

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

Answer: If your bookstore doesn’t carry Scratching the Flint, please tell the manager to get on it. Otherwise, here are four ways to buy it online:

  (Buy Links)

Comments or questions for Vern are welcome!

Friday, April 28, 2023

Interview with Author Sarah Bewley



Sarah Bewley writes, climbs rock walls and takes boxing lessons. She was born young, grew old very quickly, then entered her second childhood which she found far more satisfying than her first. BURNING EDEN is her first mystery and the first book the Eden County Mysteries series. She shares her life with Patrick Payne, who likes things that burn and explode, knives that are too sharp, and is a photographic artist. She’s worked as a licensed private investigator and now works in utilities security, which is physical protection for critical infrastructure.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: BURNING EDEN is a police procedural mystery.

I love procedurals. They are my favorite type of mystery, and when I decided to try to write one, I naturally wanted to write what I loved.

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

Answer: In 1998 North Central Florida was swept by wildfires. Many small towns had to be evacuated, and rural counties suffered a great deal of damage. I wanted to write about that time in Florida, and I wanted to set a mystery in a rural county of the area. I live in North Central Florida in Gainesville. I wanted to capture this region of the South and how different it is here than South Florida is.

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

Answer: There are two points of view in my novel. The first is Sheriff Jim Sheppard. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all sheriffs of this same rural county. He did not want to be Sheriff, but became a deputy after his wife died. He had a baby son and needed a place to raise him. So he dropped out of a Master’s program in History at the University of Florida to do that. 

The second is Dr. Ryan Edwards. He was an emergency room physician in Washington, D.C. When he and his wife are attacked, he ends up with brain damage that causes aphasia. His wife dies from her injuries. So, he can no longer work in the fast-paced ER. When he is offered a job as a partner in the small practice of the doctor in Eden County. He takes it.

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

Answer: I’ve mostly written plays in the past, and none of them have been published. I worked as a freelance writer and had a lot of magazine articles published during that time. I’ve had two short stories published. One in 1994 in The Sun Magazine, and another in an online publication 2017.

Question:   What are you working on now? 

Answer: The second book in the Eden County series – Frozen Eden. It will be released in 2024.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I have been writing since I was a child. I wrote stories and then plays, and never got over it. I love reading, and I think writing came naturally as a part of my love of stories.

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

Answer:  Don’t get discouraged. Get to know other people who write and listen to them and try to filter what they say into things that you can use. Workshops can also help. 

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

Answer: BURNING EDEN has been released as an e-book on Amazon, and it will be offered as a paperback as well. It will be available through Ingram and other regular sources, so if it’s not in your local bookstore, you should be able to order it. It will be on Amazon. Level Best Books is the publisher.

Comments and/or questions for Sarah are welcome!

Friday, April 14, 2023

Interview with Author Albert Waitt


Albert Waitt is a writer based in Kennebunkport, Maine. The Ruins of Woodman’s Village, the first in a mystery series featuring tourist town Police Chief L.T. Nichols, was released by Level Best Books in March 2023.  Waitt’s first novel,  Summer to Fall, was published in 2013 by Barrel Fire Press. His short fiction has appeared in The Literary Review, Third Coast, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Words and Images, Stymie: A journal of sport and literature, and other publications. Waitt is a graduate of Bates College and the Creative Writing Program at Boston University. Experiences ranging from slinging drinks, teaching creative writing, playing guitar for the Syphlloids, and frying clams can be found bleeding through his work.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

The Ruins of Woodman’s Village is a mystery set in a small tourist town on the Maine coast in 1986, based on the famous Kennebunkport.  I’ve always enjoyed crime fiction, starting with Encyclopedia Brown in elementary school and graduating to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett as an adult.  When I started writing, I was focused on “literary” fiction. But I found that many of my stories had some sort of crime as a main element.  It was a natural progression to write a crime novel.  

The title came easy:  There’s a backwoods outpost in the fictional town of Laurel, Maine known as Woodman’s Village.  It’s a rough place and central to the book. 

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

I worked as a bartender for years to support my family—and my writing habit.  I had some regular customers tell me a story over the bar one Monday night.  While it in no way resembles this novel, hearing that story started me down the road to what became The Ruins of Woodman’s Village. 

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

Police Chief Tim Nichols is known as LT, for Little Timmy, a nickname he picked up in grade school.  While many heroes possess extraordinary qualities, LT is an everyman, like so many of us. His distinguishing characteristic is his unflinching pursuit of doing the right thing.  The case he faces in Ruins, involving two missing teenage sisters, challenges him to evolve beyond patrolling beaches and glad-handling tourists.  While at times he fears he is in over his head, he refuses to give up.  It is a perilous and heroic journey.         

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

My first novel, Summer to Fall, was published in 2013.  It’s also set on the Maine coast, and its main character is a beleaguered young carpenter who attempts to turn a dilapidated bait shed into a fine dining restaurant for his trust-fund fed girlfriend and her bartender ex-boyfriend.  I’ve also published a number of short stories, whose subjects range from a rock and roll band to a dissatisfied chef to a high school quarterback. 

Question:   What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a revision of the next book in the LT Nichols series.  I’m also kicking around a new concept, a down and out mechanic who accidentally starts taking on private eye-type side jobs.

Question:   What made you start writing? 

I’ve always been a reader and enjoyed writing, as well.  While living in Boston and playing in a punk band, I started working on some fiction. I could see I didn’t know what I was doing, and a writer friend recommended taking writing classes at Harvard Extension.  I found a mentor there in Tom Bailey (author of several novels and On Writing Short Stories) and that eventually led to the Masters in Creative Writing program at Boston University.  Once I started learning the craft, I went all in.

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

Be patient and persevere.  Learn as much as you can.  Read the good stuff and learn from it.  There are some great books out there on writing.  The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri is my favorite, along with The Elements of Style.   And one more thing—don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes or go down some wrong alleys.  I’ve thrown out hundreds of pages, but sometimes that’s what it takes to get to the good stuff.

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

The Ruins of Woodman’s Village is out now, available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and bookstores everywhere. 

Comments for Albert are welcome here!

Friday, March 17, 2023

Luck in Literature


 Friday the 13th, is considered an unlucky day. The Ides of March, the 15th and 16th of this month, traditionally bode ill luck as well. For instance, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the emperor is warned to “Beware the Ides of March” by the Soothsayer. Julius, not being a superstitious sort of fellow and believing in his personal immortality, sneers, ignores the warning, and refers to the Soothsayer as “a dreamer.” (Not Caesar’s wisest decision).

  St. Patrick’s Day supposedly brings good luck and fortune. Luck is a reoccurring theme in Irish literature. People do at times have lucky things happen to them and at other times suffer misfortunes like ill health, accidents or assaults. But authors prefer to believe that for the most part we make our own luck. 

According to Napoleon: “Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity.” I apply that statement to authors. We get lucky with our work when we’ve done adequate preparation—that is being well-read, writing, rewriting, and editing until we’ve created something of value and quality. If we’re too lazy or too full of ourselves to make this kind of effort and commitment, then alas we’ll never “get lucky.”

Luck is a common theme in literature. For example, Thomas Hardy created characters that were unlucky like Tess or Jude. Yet it could be argued that their bad luck came as a direct result of fatal flaws in their own characters. This is where Greek tragedy derives from. Things don’t just happen. There is a cause-and-effect relationship. Victorian writers used coincidence commonly in their plot lines, something modern writers try to avoid.

I write about and admire main characters with positive values who make their own good luck and overcome obstacles through personal effort, not bemoaning their fate or bad luck. To quote Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar again, as Cassius observes: “Our fate, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” 

In tribute to Irish literature which as observed often deals with themes related to luck, I want to mention a few of the outstanding Irish writers I’ve appreciated over the years.

As an undergraduate English major, I read and enjoyed John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World. Synge celebrated the lyrical speech of the Irish in a boisterous play. 

In graduate school, I took a semester seminar on the works of William Butler Yeats, a great Irish poet. I learned a great deal about Irish mythology from his work. 

George Bernard Shaw was also of Irish origins and a great playwright, another favorite of mine. His plays still hold up because of thought-provoking themes and clever dialogue. 

I’ve read James Joyce’s stories and novels but most appreciated his earlier work. I thought Portrait of the Artist was brilliant as was Dubliners, his short story collection. His style was original and unique.

Satirist Jonathan Swift is often thought of as a children’s writer, but this is, of course, false.

Notable Works: Gulliver’s Travels, Tale of a Tub, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift.

Oscar Wilde was a talented Irish writer and playwright. Sentenced to two years in prison for gross indecency (homosexuality), he eventually lost his creative spark. Notable Works: The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Importance of Being Earnest (play), Poems, The Happy Prince and Other Tales (children’s book), A Woman of No Importance (play).

Abraham Stoker (Bram Stoker) gave us Dracula (enough said!) Lawrence Sterne, Oliver Goldsmith, C.S. Lewis all had Irish origins as well, although they left Ireland for England. The list of outstanding Irish men and women who have provided great literature is very long and therefore beyond the scope of this mere blog.

Do you believe in luck? Is it a factor in what you’ve read or written? Do you have any favorite Irish authors?

Your thoughts and comments welcome!


Sunday, February 19, 2023

Interview with the Editor/Publisher of Pressfuls Digipress


Those of you who like to read and write fiction will likely find this interview interesting.

Question: What kind of books does Pressfuls Digipress publish? 

Answer: Pressfuls publishes Short Fiction, Non-fiction and Children’s Illustrated Books in Digital format only.

Question: Can you tell readers about what’s involved in your work at Pressfuls?

Answer: A lot of things are involved in my work. Besides Editing, there’s Concept, Cover Art, Illustrations (some publications), Ebook and Audio creations... I’m involved in all of this. 

Question: What are you working on now? 

Answer:  We’re currently working on a Non-fiction which will be out March.

Question:   What made you start working as an editor/publisher? 

Answer: We hope to see more Online Publications, besides print, from great, talented writers. And we hope to publish more great works from great, talented writers Online. 

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing and want to be published?

Answer: Be professional. Polish your work. Always include a Story Description and Bio with your submission.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your latest published books?

Answer: (buy links) Online Subscription:

Note: Pressfuls is a paying publication.

Two of my short stories have been published in Pressfuls anthologies, most recently “The Jury Consultant” at:


“The Bokor”

These are free reads online. So do drop by.


Saturday, February 11, 2023

How to Make Valentine’s Day Memorable 2023


What makes Valentine’s Day special? There’s a simple answer: personal relationships and connections with others.

Valentine’s Day is a favorite holiday for me. In fact, the entire month of February makes me smile. One reason is because it’s the shortest winter month; another reason is because we are getting more daylight again. A third reason is that my older son Andrew was born in February and also married in February.

Point of fact, Andrew and his wife Anna were married on Valentine’s Day. It was a joyful wedding, loving and romantic. No big fancy affair, just the bride and groom, my husband and myself, the bride’s best friend, and a judge happy to officiate, followed by a wedding breakfast at a local hotel. Afterwards the bride and groom had to take a long drive so that my son could represent in court a couple accused of white-collar crime.

Andy and Anna are still happily married and have a wonderful daughter to help them celebrate their anniversary. This love story is one of many worldwide celebrated on the most romantic day of the year.

Love stories have always been an important part of history and literature. Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. Cleopatra and Julius Caesar (Cleopatra did get around). As Shakespeare said, “she was a woman of infinite variety.” Then there is the story of Napoleon and Josephine, another passionate love affair. In the Bible, we also find some of the world’s greatest and unforgettable love stories. What can be more romantic than the story of Ruth or Solomon and the Queen of Sheba? And there is the story of Esther which is celebrated on Purim.

A lot of the world’s most famous, classical love stories, of course, did not end happily: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Helen of Troy and Paris, Lancelot, Arthur and Guinevere (a legendary triangle). These are tragedies.

Some of the literary characters I consider unforgettable are those of the Bronte sisters: Heathcliff and Catherine, the tormented lovers in Emily’s Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester of Charlotte’s famous novel. Both romances are in the Gothic tradition. My tribute to that tradition, although one with a happier end is my novel

DARK MOON RISING, published by Luminosity. 

Thomas Hardy wrote several tragic love stories. For something lighter, I prefer Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth and Darcy are memorable. I’ve read and reread that novel numerous times.

 Love quite literally makes the world go round. My favorite Valentine’s Day gift to myself is purchasing a new romance novel. Candy makes me fat. Flowers wilt and die too soon. But a great romance can be read and reread and enjoyed.

Luminosity has now published four of my own romance novels. Besides, DARK MOON RISING, they are the historical novels:




 If you’re of a mind to read some short romance fiction to celebrate Valentine’s Day consider my collection BEYOND THE BO TREE, a book that combines romance, mystery, fantasy and the paranormal. The first story in the collection is a free read:

Regardless, I hope you enjoy February’s fun holiday.

Are there any romance novels you would like to recommend to fellow readers?




Monday, January 9, 2023

Starting the New Year Right 2023


January symbolically marks a new beginning and a fresh start. With that in mind, I have resolved to continue writing with a positive attitude.

 In 2022, I sold seven new short stories to publishers and saw them published. I also sold two novels, one new, one reprint. The reprint, TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS, is available with three others of my romance novels from Luminosity: 

My new novel, HEART OF WISDOM, will be published July 24th of this year by Level Best Books. It combines historical family saga with mystery. I believe it is my most unique, original novel. 

I will continue to send my work out, short stories in particular to various publishers and publications regardless of acceptances. Most writers meet with a lot more rejection than acceptance. In that respect, I am typical. But if writing is something you feel compelled to do—like me—than you work at it regardless.

One of my continuing resolutions is striving to improve the quality of my work. With that in mind, I pay attention to editorial and reader comments.

Building a readership is not easy. I hope to increase mine. I also intend to continue reading diverse books and writing reviews of those I truly enjoy.

I resolve to do more landscape painting. I’ve let that go of late. I confess housework comes last—but it does and will get done, as does shopping and cooking. All of life’s necessities.

What are some of your plans or resolutions for the year ahead? Are they the same as last year or have they changed?