Friday, July 25, 2014

Old and New Contacts

Leaving Florida for a little R&R that included interesting touring, family visits and  a Fremont Reunion held some memorable moments and welcome surprises. First stop after the Auto-train brought us to Virginia was Pensylvania's, Winterthur, Dupont's magnificent museum and palatial estate. The mind-boggling many  floors of "collections " were fascinating, but the highlight for me was an exhibit of the costumes of Downton Abbey, each with a film caption of the scene it illustrated. Nearby, Winterthur we visited beautiful  Longwood Gardens, extroadinary in its summer glory.

On to the Catskill mountains of New York State and a day spent with Tom's sister, we traveled north next, to up-state Clifton Park, Malta and Saratoga, spending time with our adult children.
The culmination of family visits took place at Moreau State Park for my 59th Fremont Family reunion.  That's right I did say 59th.  Being the youngest child of a large family, I am the only survivor of the first generation. Second,third and 4th generations were in attendance and it was a wonderful gathering.  Being the only (Aunt Mary) left, I was feted with a lovely gift. It was the perfect end to our northern journey.

Returning south and a quick stop in New Jersey gave another gift - seeing our newest family member, one week old great grandson Jason Z.Knoll. I'm sure many can relate to the precious,soft, feel of a newborn in your arms. It is beyond telling. Of course we were delighted to see Jason's brother Jace, his sister, Jazlyn, and our grandson Zachary & wife, Glenda.

Our last stop was Alexandria ,VA and a quick tour of Old Town made me wish we had planned more time there. Journeying back to Lorton and the Auto-train, on our return trip to Florida, we met interesting travelers in the dining car. One was the mother of Bryce Westervelt, Opera Tenor and author of children's books. Another was a lovely lady, musician/writer residing in a nearby town in Florida. There may be a story here among all these old and new contacts, but first and foremost are the memories forged on a memorable journey.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What inspires you?

I just came back from a long weekend in the Rockies and the majestic views, not to mention the lovely weather were very inspiring. Luckily when I returned to Kansas we experienced some of the same cool nights and moderate days as I enjoyed in Colorado. 

I did some writing while I was there, and yesterday I sat on the deck pouring the words on the page for several hours. At least until it got too warm and hungry. When contemplating this blog and what to write that other writers might enjoy or benefit from I asked myself, "What inspires my writing?"

Nature is a big inspiration to me. When I've spent time outside and focused on the rocks, trees, birds and bees I am inspired to describe it on the page. Sharing a sense of place makes the reading (and writing) experience much more enjoyable, it opens the door to the story. By setting the stage so the reader can be there for awhile, the story can come to life.

Music often inspires me. It ignites my imagination and teases my ears and mind into hearing and seeing color and light, and of the sense of movement. Many films have glorious sound tracks that move the story deep into your bones.  Making your story audible for readers is great. If they can hear what your characters say or hear, then it's like eavesdropping on an intimate conversation or being in the proximity of the action of the story.

People inspire me, too. Humans are so interesting. Everyone has a story. Everyone is unique in so many ways. Not just physically, but emotionally, too. Have you ever come across someone at Wal-Mart or Starbucks or Dillons that is just like the character in my story? I have and feel as though this is the person on the page. I'll watch them and catch special mannerisms or voice, their way of walking or dressing may be exactly like I envisioned in my head. 

A good book inspires me, too. If I feel what the character is feeling, see where they are, smell it, taste it and hear it - then the author has written well. Reading a story that moves me and is real makes me want to be a better writer. I learn from the books I read, both good things and bad, but mostly good. I've heard over the years that there are no new stories, just new ways of telling them. That's probably true - the trick is for the reader to experience the story - not just read the words, and it can be kind of tricky!

So, be aware of what is around you - let your muse tune in with you - and write what is in your heart. 
Enjoy the journey, my writing friends.


Bonnie Tharp’s novel, Feisty Family Values was published by Five Star Publishing in hardback and released in February 2010. Patchwork Family was released in paperback by Bell Books Publishing in March of 2014. You can find out more about Bonnie & her books at

Friday, July 18, 2014

Interview With Author Nell Duvall by Jacqueline Seewald

World traveler Nell DuVall has visited all the continents except South America and Antarctica. She participated in marine surveys and archeological expeditions in Scotland, Ireland, and Turkey. She lived for a while in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio which gave her the inspiration for short stories and children’s tales. The author of five published novels, works of nonfiction, and a variety of spooky tales, she loves mysteries and has just release Murder in Her Dreams with Murder in The Cards to follow this fall and Murder in Her Mind to appear in the spring of 2015. As Mel Jacob, she also regularly reviews speculative fiction for and mysteries for

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

Answer: Murder in Her Dreams, Book 1 of Murder in the Shadows is a paranormal romantic mystery.

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

Dreams that come true. I experienced one as a child. My son loves puns so that added an interesting way to providing clues to the mystery.

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

Cassie Blake is somewhat shy and had an earlier boyfriend reject her dreams. As a consequence, a young girl died. Now a viscous rabbit and a handsome man haunt her dreams. If she can’t convince the man of the danger from a hidden enemy, he will die.

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

My first published novel was The Train to Yesterday, a time travel romance. The feisty heroine is transported back in time to the building of a railroad in 1855 Ohio. Someone is trying to destroy the train. When Lilacs Bloom, another time travel romance followed that. I have one mystery, Selvage, a science fiction novel, Beyond the Rim of Light, with another author, an anthology, and a number of short stories.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Murder in Her Mind, Book 3 of Murder in the Shadows, a paranormal romantic mystery set in Ireland. Someone is trying to kill the heroine. To survive, she must identify her enemy with the help of a handsome Irish Captain.

Question:   What made you start writing?

I love stories and storytelling. Learning about the characters and what makes them act as they do fascinates me. I especially love writing villains that readers can understand. They all have reasons for what they do and readers want to know why. If my heroines start out shy —not all do— they end by taking the battle to the villain.

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

Learn the basics of storytelling and the writing craft. Read, write, revise, write, PERSIST. Never take rejection as personal.

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

Murder in Her Dreams is available now at most ebook sites. Print copies can also be purchased from Lulu. Print will also soon be available through Amazon.

Nell/Mel thanks so much for being our guest author today.

Readers and fellow authors, your questions and comments are most welcome.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Reading Suggestions by Jacqueline Seewald

I opened several of my magazines (yes, we actually do still subscribe to print publications at our house!) and low and behold there were all these wonderful articles on the best books for summer reading. With people going on vacation, sitting at beaches, pools and on cruise ships, many individuals enjoy relaxing with a good book. And there certainly are a lot of them being published.

Most of the suggestions I see are for books written by famous people or authors. Books from the “big” publishers dominate these suggested summer reading lists—no surprise there! But what about those of us who are published by small independents? Should our books be ignored by the reading public? Emphatically no!

It is my intention to give other writers an opportunity to mention their own books on this blog. I would also like readers to recommend reading what you’ve enjoyed. Word of mouth matters.

I’ll start by recommending my own recent books which have been well-reviewed:

The fourth Kim Reynolds mystery was published by Perfect Crime Books April 2014. It is available both in print and e-book editions.
(The three previous novels in this series received excellent reviews. The Harlequin Worldwide Press paperback editions which followed the hardcover and large print editions are now all sold out.)

My Regency novel TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS received an excellent blurb endorsement from Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick which appears on the cover of that novel, published both as a hardcover from Five Star/Gale and in large print from Thorndike Press. Mary Balogh also read this novel and offered helpful editorial suggestions prior to publication. SteameReads published this novel in a newly edited e-book format as well.

I won SteameReads “Some Like It Hot” romance novel writing contest with my sensual Georgian romance THE CHEVALIER. That novel was also published and is available in all e-book formats.

My “clean read” YA novel THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER was also recently published as an e-book in all formats by Astraea Press. This YA novel is a good reading experience for mothers and daughters to share. It’s not just for teens.

Finally, I will mention my book of short stories, BEYOND THE BO TREE, published as an e-book by Authentic Press.
I’ve collected together some of my best diverse stories for reader enjoyment.

Okay, now here’s your opportunity to share the books you think will make for good summer reading. Don’t be shy! Comments/suggestions are welcome here.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Which kind of writer are you? by Susan Oleksiw

In honor of Independence Day I offer a question that most of us discover the answer to after writing for several years. Some writers begin with a series and stick with it. In each installment the protagonist, professional or amateur, investigates a crime and finds the culprit. Variety is found in the recurring minor characters who populate the established setting and those who appear as part of the particular mystery. In contrast is the writer who writes a few books in one series, writes a stand-alone, switches genres, and generally wanders from form to form, series to series, exploring and discovering.

Each approach to writing has its pluses and minuses. The writer who begins and sticks with one series character brings the reader into an established and known world, with old friends reappearing in new situations and more quirks in the main support figures. These books have enormous appeal for the way they take us into lives of people who come to seem like friends. Deborah Crombie has written fourteen Duncan Kincaid mysteries (with a fifteenth in the works),  and readers eagerly await her next story and the chance to revisit "old friends" Duncan and Gemma.

In contrast Laurie King has written three series and four stand-alone novels. Most mystery readers are familiar with the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series that catapulted King to fame. The Kate Martinelli series brings readers back to California and the police procedural. The Stuyvesant and Grey books take the reader to Paris in the latest installment.

Aside from the sheer number of books these writers manage to produce, both are exploring crime and its aftermath in similar ways, going deeper into the lives of those affected as well as those investigating.

Which type of writer are you? Do you have one series and intend to stick with it over as many as twenty or thirty titles? Or do you like to explore different places and topics through different series characters as well as different genres?

Since I raised the question, I should answer it also. I began the Mellingham series with Murder in Mellingham (1993), and the sixth, Last Call for Justice, appeared in 2012. I introduced Anita Ray, an Indian American photographer living in South India at her aunt's tourist hotel, in a short story in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in 2003. The first full-length Anita Ray mystery, Under the Eye of Kali, appeared in 2010. The third in the Anita Ray series, For the Love of Parvati, appeared in May 2014. 

I admit that I like switching back and forth and seeing similar problems from different perspectives, cultural as well as personal. I enjoy exploring the New England world, life along the coast and its special problems. But I also lived in India and have a great passion for exploring as much as I can of that world. In addition, I've written a number of short stories about a village in a rural area of New England. One story is available, Love Takes a Detour, with others to follow.

Now it's your turn. Which kind of mystery writer are you? Do you focus on one series, or do you try different things, different series characters and different genres?

To find Susan's novels, go to

To learn more about Susan and her work, go to