Posted in New Year's

My 2019 Bucket List

Wishing all my readers and friends a Happy New Year. For 2019, instead of resolutions, I decided to make a bucket list of 19 items and am featuring them in this post. Feel free to share any of your own 2019 bucket-list items in the comments.

These items are not in priority order because they are all of equal importance to me.

My 2019 Bucket List

  • Make new friends. I’ve been blessed with many new friendships over the past years from people I’ve met at my new church to fellow writers I’ve made the acquaintance of online and at local events, as well as patrons at my library. Friendships are vital in today’s world, and you’re never too old to make new friends.
  •  Maintain healthy habits. I’m thankful that I was able to lose over 30 pounds this year (making my total 70 pounds since I’ve been on the Jenny Craig program). I hope to maintain that loss and maybe lose a few more pounds. In addition, I’m striving to keep up my 30-minute daily exercise routine.
  • Work Smarter, not Harder. I’ve been having some difficulty balancing my writing and book promotion time. I hope to make some changes in 2019 to fit both in without sacrificing my free time.
  • Focus on What’s Important. Along with balancing my writing and promoting time, I’d like to focus on certain priority areas in my life — my family, friends, and pets.
  • Pinpoint Bad Habits and Eliminate or Curb Them. I don’t smoke or drink; but, like everyone, I have some habits that  stand in the way of my personal growth.
  • Read new authors, start a new series, and explore other genres. One of my perks as a librarian  is having access to a wide range of books.  Although my time is limited, I will try to allot reading time and diversify my selections.
  •  Expand my Horizons with educational and informative classes, webinars, and workshops. I’ve already taken many of the free, online course offerings available through my library’s  Gale Courses database, but there are many other opportunities for learning through a variety of sources online and in schools.
  • Attend writer’s conferences. Most writer’s groups hold annual conferences. Although cost is a factor when traveling to some of these, the experience and networking opportunities often outweigh the expense. I’d like to attend at least one a year. This year I’m hoping to go to St. Louis in May to speak on a panel at the Cat Writer’s Association. I’d also like one day to attend Malice Domestic, a cozy mystery convention that many fellow members of Sisters-in-Crime and their guppies group attend annually.
  • Volunteer and seek out ways to help others. I will try to make time to volunteer whether it’s through my church, a pet shelter, a senior center, or other organization that serves those in need. I’ll also look for opportunities to lend a hand. For instance, I can help an old person cross the street, carry grocery bags for a pregnant neighbor, offer to babysit for a couple on their anniversary.
  • Organize my Home, Work, and Life. It’s not easy maintaining a home when you work full-time and also write. However, having things in place helps make this easier.
  • Unclutter. There are many items that accumulate that my family no longer uses. I plan to give away those that others might find useful through donations to charity groups that collect them such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, United War Veterans, etc.
  • Have More Fun and Live Life Fully. You only live once, and we all should enjoy our short time in this world by doing the things we like and being with the people we love.
  • Smile and Laugh More. People who can see the lighter side of things enjoy better health and luck and share that gift with others.
  • Be Optimistic. I’m guilty of viewing the glass half empty. I need to see that I’m lucky to have a good life and that my glass is almost always half full.
  • Give Compliments. Everyone likes to be acknowledged. Finding nice things to say about someone can brighten their day.
  • Have More Patience. In this fast-paced, multi-tasking world, it’s not easy to slow down and wait, but rushing only causes frustration and doesn’t make time or people move any faster.
  • Gift my friends and family with my time. There’s nothing more valuable than spending time with a loved one. I  lost my mother this year and a special cat. While  I have wonderful memories of them, I wish I’d had more quality time to spend with both of them.
  • Plan for the Future. Although it’s good to live in the moment, time passes quickly. We all need to keep our goals in sight whether they are financial, career-related, or personal.
  • Be Kind Always. Even when I’m mad at someone or am involved in an argument, I need to respect their views by treating them with common courtesy while stating my own feelings and views without animosity.

What are your bucket list items for this year? Do you share any of mine? Whether or not you follow your New Year’s resolutions or accomplish all of your 2019 bucket list items, I hope you have 365 happy and healthy days ahead.

Posted in Books, Monday blogs

My Author Talk at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library

On Thursday night, June 22, I presented an author talk at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library on Long Island. The program, sponsored by their Friends of the Library group, was part of their summer reading events. It was my eighth library appearance, and I will be speaking again at my home library, Hicksville, on August 18.

After being introduced by Jeannine Sharkey, a librarian at Plainview, I further introduced myself and spoke about how I started writing, my books including my Cobble Cove mystery series that include A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and my latest, Written in Stone, published April 2017 by Solstice Publishing.

The Lawrence C. Lobaugh, Jr. Memorial Award for Journalism Award I received for my writing on the Post Pioneer.

I explained that since I was a young girl, I’d always loved reading, writing, telling stories, and cats. My love of books brought me to the field of librarianship in which I’ve worked for 25 years. My love of cats started me writing articles for pet magazines such as Cat Fancy after I graduated from the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island where I majored in English and Library and Information Science and also wrote for the student newspaper, The Pioneer, for which I received a journalism award for my feature writing.

I shared the history of my first published story and novel. My first published story was a mystery in the Cat Crimes Through Time anthology called Stitches in Time and was a time travel tale that involved Betsy Ross’s cat. In 2008, I self-published Cloudy Rainbow, my first novel, that was a romance with some paranormal elements and a cat named after my beloved Floppy who passed away that year at 15.

After Cloudy Rainbow, I told the audience that I stopped writing for a time while my daughter was young and I focused on my full-time library position. In 2015, after a patron who’d read my book persuaded me to write another, I took advantage of my library’s new Gale Courses online database to take several publishing courses and ease my way back into writing. Two months later, writing in the early morning before work, I had completed the first draft of what was to become the first Cobble Cove mystery, A Stone’s Throw. I sold that book to a small publisher, Limitless Publishing, and it was published in November 2015.

Not initially intending A Stone’s Throw to become a series or a cozy mystery, I decided to continue the story of a librarian, Alicia and a newspaper reporter, John McKinney, in the small, fictional upstate town of Cobble Cove, New York with a second book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. I changed publishers at this time to Solstice Publishing who now have published the three books in the series and also several of my short stories in anthologies of various genres including fantasy, science fiction, horror, and romance.

In February 2017, I related that I also published a romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace, and my story, Saving Snow White, appears in the latest anthology from Solstice, That Summer Day, that was published just a few days before my talk on June 21.

I pointed out that all my books and stories include at least one cat and sometimes a dog. The Cobble Cove mysteries feature a Siamese library cat, Sneaky, and Fido, a golden retriever.  The audience found it amusing when I explained that Sneaky has his own blog where he “scoops the shelves of cat litterature” and where he has interviewed a variety of other cat characters. His blog can be found at I also created a Facebook group called Cobble Cove Character Chat that is hosted by a different character from the series each month and where group members can enter a monthly contest for prizes that range from Amazon gift certificates to copies of books.

Although I had some technical difficulties with my Powerpoint slideshow, I was able to display some of my book covers and the newspaper articles that were written upon their releases. I also read some excerpts from my mysteries and the blurbs of my stories. In addition, I played the book trailers, short clips, to each of the Cobble Cove novels.

I ended my talk with information about my future publishing plans. I am currently querying agents for my psychological thriller, Sea Scope, and have completed a standalone mystery, Reason to Die, that I hope to edit and submit for publication in a few months. I may also start the fourth Cobble Cove mystery soon.

When I asked for audience questions, one guest wanted to know why I like cats so much. I explained that I like other animals but am especially fond of cats because they have unique natures, are quite intelligent, and can intuitively sense when you are sad and need comforting. I am far from alone in this interest for felines, as they are often characters in books, art, and online videos that go viral.

The evening wrapped up with a raffle for an autographed copy of Written in Stone. The winner posed for a photo with me.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Authors, Books

Author Spotlight: Women’s Fiction Author J. Schlenker

authorspotlightWelcome to the Literary Library Lounge where I interview fellow authors. Today, I am chatting with  J. Schlenker from Olive Hill, Kentucky.



Thanks for joining me, Jerri (I hope you don’t mind my using your first name here).  Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable.

How long have you been published? What titles have you published? Please give details.

I don’t mind you calling me by my full first name at all. I’ve been published since December 2015. My three books are Jessica Lost Her Wobble, The Color of Cold and Ice, and  The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries (A Collection of Short Stories).  They are all Self-Published.

Congratulations. I have a small publisher, but I admire those who do it themselves.

Tell us a little bit about your books.

jschlenkerIn my short career I would say I write mainly women’s fiction.  I would categorize both “Jessica Lost Her Wobble” and “The Color of Cold and Ice” as women’s fiction, mainly. Both have women going through transitions in their lives. Although, “The Color of Cold and Ice” also has men going through transitional stages. “The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries” (A Collection of Short Stories) is a hodgepodge. However, the stories, I think, would appeal to the middle-aged or older woman. Should I say ‘more mature’ woman?

I am currently working on two new books: “The Innkeeper on the Edge of Paris” – A woman leaves her marriage and job in the US and travels to France and stays in an old inn where she has strange dreams and encounters a ghost, and meets a man. “Sally”  – Historical Fiction about a woman I met when I was 8. She was 103 at the time. She was born in 1858 into slavery.

All your books sound interesting. Women’s fiction is a very popular genre.

Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

I’m not one of those people who put goals out there, but as a writer, I want to write something that I’m happy about, something that causes someone to think, or smile, or cry in a good way.  I would hope to see my books as book club pics and in every library.

Those are excellent goals; and, since I’m a librarian, I like your desire to have your book in libraries. One of my goals is also to touch readers and make them think and feel.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

The mature woman or mature male for that matter.

I think my Cobble Cove mystery series also appeals to mature readers because of the age of the characters. The main ones are 40+, although I’ve tried to introduce college-age characters as well as children into the series recently.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

First off, write what’s in your heart, what you are inspired to write.

I agree with that. Many writers are influenced by what they think the public wants to read. I believe you have to write what you feel or it won’t come across as genuine.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

Finding the right words?  After that, there was beta reading (I’ve lucked out on that one – I’ve found some great people who give me the feedback I need) and editing (the editing takes more time than the writing, on my part. My editor goes through it quickly – I lucked out on finding a good editor, too.). What does that leave? Formatting, getting it ready for publication. I’m self-published. So, I had to figure out to get it out there. I’m technologically impaired. So, up until recently, as I’ve had lots of practice doing this now, the formatting was the hardest. Now, I’m back to finding the right words as being the hardest.

Yes, editing takes a lot more time than writing. I don’t think people realize that until they’ve published a book. The first draft is just that, a draft. You have to mold it into the final product and that takes a lot of work. Beta readers and editors can help, but only you know what you want your work to convey.

Have you taken any writing or publishing classes? If so, please provide information about them and if you feel they helped you further your professional skills.

Yes, and yes, they’ve helped a lot. I belong to several writing groups which is helpful. We use writing prompts and critique each other’s work. I’ve taken around ten online writing classes. They are available through my library. I’ve learned a lot through them. I also met one of my beta readers through one of them.

I think you are referring to the Gale Courses, Jerri, and I believe you took some of the ones I took through my library with Eva Shaw. Gale Courses is a database that is offered nationwide through libraries. They have wonderful writing and publishing classes but also many other courses.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Art, Yoga, being with my family

Very nice. Your covers definitely show your art talent.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

Making myself write, the self-doubt.

Self-doubt is a biggie for most authors including myself.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.

Thanks so much, Jerri. It was a pleasure having you here and learning more about you and your writing. Best wishes to you.

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Authors, blog challenge, Books, Cat Writer's Association, Cloudy Rainbow, Limitless Publishing

#LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge: My Publishing Journey

blogchallengegraphicupdatedI’m very excited to participate in the blog challenge Sophia Valentine of Lifestyle and Literature created (see graphic for topics and dates if you have a blog and would like to participate. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about some of the great participating authors).

debbiehicksvilleThis week, I will be talking about my publishing journey where, how, and why I started on this path, how far I’ve come so far, and where I hope to be in the future.

lobaughawardI’ve always loved reading and writing. When I was young, I would drive my family crazing making up and relating stories before I even knew how to write. In college, I majored in English and became a Features Editor on the student newspaper at Long Island Unversity/C.W. Post Campus. I received a special award for my writing on the paper, The Lawrence C. Lobaugh, Jr. award in journalism. When I decided to become a librarian and enrolled in the Palmer School of Library and Information Science also at Post, I volunteered to edit and publish the graduate school newsletter, Annotations.

debbieaward1After college, I wrote articles for cat magazines and published a short story in a mystery anthology called Cat Crimes Through Time. I also joined the Cat Writer’s Association and am still an active member today. In fact, I just won their Glamour Puss Award sponsored by the Hartz Mountain Corporation for my article, “Brush your cat for Bonding Beauty, and Better Health.” I received a beautiful plaque for this award and a check from Hartz.

cloudyrainbowAfter my beloved cat Floppy died, I self-published a novel, Cloudy Rainbow, and made him a character in it. My daughter was young at this time, and I stopped writing for some years following the publication of Cloudy Rainbow, but I started back up again after taking some Gale Online Writing and Publishing Courses that my library offers free to library card holders. I began submitting articles and stories to various publications and was published in my local paper and, an online cat magazine.

stonesthrowamazonIt was at this time, that I also began writing my mystery, A Stone’s Throw, that was published in November 2015 by Limitless Publishing after their managing editor liked my tweet on a twitter event called Pit2Pub and the publisher offered me a contract after reviewing my manuscript. I had found out about this event as I became further involved in social media to help promote my work. Here is a link to my interview with Kristin Kristin D. Van Risseghem, the organizer of this event.

Once I became traditionally published, I learned much more about the publishing business. The amount of time and effort that authors put into marketing and promoting their books was an eye-opener. By networking and interacting online with other authors, I discovered what happened after your book is published. I found out about book blogs, blog tours, Facebook and Twitter parties and events, newsletters, mailing lists, book talks, author signings and conferences, and much  more. It was overwhelming at first, and I’m still finding it hard to balance the time between writing, marketing, and working a full-time job as well as spending time with my family.

Currently, I am working on the sequel (possible 2nd in the Cobble Cove Mysteries) series and am very close to announcing some great news about it. I also have a completed manuscript for a psychological thriller that I’m hoping to submit to an agent for a chance at having my work considered with a larger publisher.

Below are some interviews and articles about me that include further details about my publishing journey. I have also included my social media links and website where you can sign up for my author newsletter that features a monthly contest and updates on my writing and books.

Interview for Lifestyle & Literature Blog

Interview for Jane Hunt Writer Blog

The Braille Club Interview

Interview with Natalina Reis on her blog, Never Too Late

Local Author Releases Second Novel




Amazon Author Page:

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:



Posted in Author Spotlight, Authors, Books, New Releases

Author Spotlight Jane Hunt

authorspotlightWelcome to the Limitless Library Lounge where I interview fellow authors from Limitless Publishing. Today, I am chatting with  Jane Hunt from the  village of Pleasley, UK.



Thanks for joining me, Jane.  Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable.
I understand you have a novel that is just being released by Limitless today. Can you give me some details about it?

The Dangerous Gift FRONT COVER

The Dangerous Gift is my first book with Limitless Publishing and is my first Romantic Suspense/ Mystery/ Thriller novel.

Release Day GraphicI have also written two fantasy/paranormal romances in The Dragon Legacy series:

‘The Dragon Legacy #1’ and ‘The Revenge Masquerade #2’.

These are currently published by Crimson Frost Books.

The Dangerous Gift - Teaser 4 The Dangerous Gift is a romantic suspense set in Texas:

‘After a tragic plane crash kills Jennie Taylor’s guardians, she returns to her childhood home—and her first love, Jared Stewart.

At just eighteen years old, Jennie had left the Unicorn Ranch in Texas to seek a life in the outside world. But she wasn’t just running toward independence. Heartbroken and confused, Jennie fled her home after Jared harshly rejected her on the eve of her birthday.

Now she must choose between making a new life on the ranch she has grown to love, or returning to her simple but empty life in England. The choice seems obvious at first, but nothing in life is simple…

The Dangerous Gift - Teaser 2Jared is forced to share control of his beloved ranch with the woman he wants but can’t have.

When Jennie receives an anonymous note, she goes to Jared for support. But what she finds is more than she was prepared for, driving the two further apart than ever. When an old friend is murdered and suspicious accidents escalate, endangering Jennie’s safety, Jared becomes her reluctant protector.

Jennie knows Jared is hiding something, but does he really want her gone from the ranch? And if so, could he be the one behind the ominous threats?

Determined to prove Jared isn’t involved, Jennie turns detective. Can she succeed in her courageous but reckless investigation…or is the truth a dangerous gift she won’t survive?’

I am currently writing a historical story set in England. This is part of a series of three books. I am also planning to write another romantic suspense novel as I enjoy this genre both to read and write.

Awesome. Your books sound great. Would you describe your goals as a writer to us. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

I achieved a lifelong ambition to become a full time writer when I turned fifty, four years ago. It has been a steep learning curve. The biggest lesson being that writing a book someone wants to publish is no longer enough. Social marketing and making your story visible to potential readers is vital. So my current goals are writing as much as I can and striving to create myself a viable author platform to showcase my work.

Those are wonderful goals, Jane. I hope to write full-time one day myself, and I couldn’t agree more that there’s much more to publishing than writing a good book. I find it overwhelming at times but am motivated by other authors such as yourself who work so hard to write and promote their books to their readership.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

All my books are written for the reader who likes to step away from their current everyday life and live in someone else’s shoes for a little while.  I like to take everyday circumstances and overlay them with an extraordinary event and see how my characters react.

I think my writing will appeal to those readers that read to escape and enjoy strong heroines, sensual heroes, vivid descriptive imagery and a fast paced twisty plot.

I think you will have a wide audience in that regard.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

If becoming a published author is truly what you want to do, then never give up. It has taken me years to become published, mostly, because there have been long periods in my life when I haven’t written creatively. I always knew, I would get there one day and I have.

I still would like to become a successful author, which is much harder and depends on factors not directly related to the quality of your writing. As an optimist and loving writing as I do, I will never give up and all aspiring authors should be similarly motivated.

I hear that same advice from most authors, and I agree. Like you, I have been writing for many years but was not seeking publication right away. I also stopped writing after my first self-published novel, Cloudy Rainbow. Now that I’ve published A STONE’S THROW with Limitless, I have already written a sequel that I hope to submit to them soon and then start on either another book for the series or something else. As you said, you need to keep at it. A writer has to be persistent if they want to publish and gain fans.

Can you tell us specifically any challenges you faced before you first became published?

I have been writing on and off since I was in my late teens. I always wanted to be a creative writer and hopefully get published. However life got in the way of my teenage aspirations and as I mentioned above; it took many decades for me to find the courage to become a writer full time. I have written throughout my life but only with any consistency since I turned fifty, which was four years ago. I had to leave my job as a Service Improvement Facilitator through ill health, a couple of years earlier and I decided, rather than being a setback, this was an opportunity to write full time and try to get published.

My first book was published two years later in 2013, ‘The Dragon Legacy’. ‘The Revenge Masquerade’ book two in the series was published a year later and my first romantic suspense novel ‘The Dangerous Gift; is released today, February 9, 2016. Even when you’re published the struggles don’t end there. You need to find the right publisher who will help you build an author platform and promote your book.

Thanks for sharing. Did you also take any writing or publishing courses along the way?

I took a correspondence writing course when I decided I wanted to write professionally in my late teens and I referred to the course booklets over the decades, when I had the opportunity to write creatively. I have also read extensively on writing and publishing and follow numerous blogs that discuss writing and publishing tips. The importance of social media has escalated since I first started writing when there was no internet (yes I am that old). I am indebted to my daughter, a journalist graduate, who advised me on the importance of social media, which is invaluable to any author today.

lol. I also am pre-Internet or actually Internet was just getting started when I was in college. I think we are around the same age. It’s great to get an early start, but many writers write later in life. I have one man at my library who is writing his first book at 90. As far as classes, I wrote a post on this blog about the great online Gale Courses that I took and am still taking on writing and publishing. Gale Courses is a database that many libraries offer free to their patrons throughout the U.S. In addition to writing and publishing, the database offers many other classes. I am currently taking marketing and public speaking, two topics also of importance to authors. 

What hobbies and interests do you have besides writing?

I love reading, reviewing and blogging. Walking in the countryside with my dogs, cooking and escaping into television drama like ‘Scandal’,’ Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Supernatural’, ‘The Originals’ and any good period drama like ‘Downton Abbey’.

I’m sure you get some plot ideas from those interests.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

I love finding a new idea for a book and that feeling when you have so much to say, you can’t type quickly enough. I dislike not having enough time to write and not having the will power to write at the expense of other things, like a clean house and cooking for my family.

My toughest challenge is self- promotion and asking for help to do this. I promote lots of authors on my blog and social media but I find it hard to promote myself in the same way, or ask those same authors to help me but I am learning to slowly.

You sound a lot like me here, too. I love writing and try to set aside time to do it each morning before work, as I’m an early riser, but then I find  I end up spending more time on marketing and promotion which leaves little time for my family and household work. I also try to feature authors on my blog such as this Author Spotlight and my Cozy Chats. I don’t expect reciprocal promotion from anyone, but I’m thankful for those authors who help me by sharing my book posts on social media, reviewing and/or beta reading my books, and just supporting me in general with answers to questions or assistance with other writing and marketing-related matters.

Can you please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. so readers can connect with you.

Jane Hunt Writer Website


Jane Hunt Facebook

Jane Hunt Writer Facebook Page

Jane Hunt Writer-My Books Facebook Page

Jane Hunt Writer Book Reviews Facebook Page



 Jane Hunt Pinterest

Jane Hunt Google+

My Books Google+ Page

Jane Hunt Writer Book Reviews Google+ Page 

Jane Hunt Linked In

Jane Hunt Tumblr

Jane Hunt on Goodreads

Jane Hunt on Wattpad

You certainly have a lot of social connections, Jane. I will have to check to see if we are connected on some of those. Thanks for visiting the Limitless Library Lounge today, and best of luck with THE DANGEROUS GIFT and your upcoming books.




Posted in Authors, Books, Cats, Cozies, Cozy Chat, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery, Cozy Series

Cozy Chat with L.J.M. Owen

cozycatpicAlthough I consider myself a romantic suspense author and fan, I also used to be an avid reader of cozy mysteries especially those featuring cats. For those of you who also share that interest, I will be featuring Cozy Chats with cozy mystery authors on this blog. If you are an author who writes a cozy series and would like to participate in a future Cozy Chat, please contact me.

OlmecObituary_cover_HIRES (1)Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with L.J.M Owen about Olmec Obituary, Book One in the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series. It is a planned cozy mystery series of 9 books.

Hi, L.J.M. Thanks for joining us on Cozy Chat. Have a seat and help yourself to some tea while we talk.



2015-12-03 22.12.07 Can you tell us a little bit about this new series? What gave you the idea for it?

Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth is the story of an archaeologist/librarian who solves ancient mysteries from across the globe, with plenty of forensic science, culinary exploration and historic trivia along the way. There are ancient libraries, modern libraries, cats and – of course – recipes in the back.

Book One in the series, Olmec Obituary, introduces Dr Elizabeth Pimms as she struggles with a job she doesn’t want, a family she both loves and resents, and the volatile excavation director of a royal Olmec cemetery. Amid seventeen concealed skeletons, an evolving mental library and Welsh soup Elizabeth strives to determine cause of death for a 3,000 year old athlete before being fired.

2015-12-03 22.28.50This first mystery, and the second one, feature the archaeology of ancient Mexico. The remainder of the series will explore the ancient cultures, homicides and libraries of Egypt, Mongolia, Persia, India, China, Britain and Crete.

My original inspiration for the series was a sense of wanting to give back.

Like many quiet, studious children I never quite fit into the world around me. I spent much of my childhood escaping into storyworlds created by others. As an adult, tired, stressed and overworked, I continued to snatch an hour or two in those otherworlds to recharge my batteries.

As a writer I realized I wanted to construct another space for readers to escape to. I figured the most sensible course of action was to draw on what I knew. I have a degree in archaeology, a degree in library management and a PhD in palaeogenetics, so felt most comfortable writing about these subjects. I could also indulge my love affair with other cultures, past and present.

And like many, I am intrigued by the classic whodunit. I love to pit my reasoning skills against the fictional detective of the hour.

So Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth was born. It’s a mix of the archaeology of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, the forensic science of Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series and the cozy setting of TV series such as Midsomer Murders or Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. With more libraries.

My hope is, ultimately, that the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series becomes another place of refuge for readers everywhere.

How very interesting. I don’t know if you know that I’m a librarian as well as an author, and your series sounds especially appealing to me – cats and libraries how can you go wrong?

Do you have any advice to other authors about writing cozies or writing in general?

Read the books you love. Read the kind of books you want to write. Study the basics of storyworld, character, plot and theme. Sit down and write for at least an hour a day. Research how to improve your writing. Rinse and repeat.

Remember that if you love what you write chances are someone else will too. Some people will also hate it. That’s just how it works. The important thing is to know exactly what sort of book you have written and make it clear to potential readers to increase the chances so that the people who pick it up have a good chance of liking it.

That’s exactly what I believe, too. What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on Book Two in the series, Mayan Mendacity, which sees Dr Pimms contend with the maimed skeleton of a Mayan warrior, a vengeful Tikal Queen, the Phantom of the Stacks and an intruder in her phrenic library. I can’t wait to finish writing it! I’d like to release it ahead of Christmas next year.

Do you write any other genres than cozies?

I’ve started work on a range of short stories in other sub-genres of crime but at the moment I’m having too much fun with cozies with an archaeological twist.

I don’t blame you. I’ve written some short stories I’d like to gather into a collection one day, but they are very different than “A Stone’s Throw,” and I’m working on a sequel to that right now. My publisher, Limitless Publishing, is planning to put out a holiday anthology next year, and I’m hoping to contribute to that.

Can you tell me how you got started in writing?

I worked through some online writing courses and read widely on how to develop rich, rounded characters. I prepared the overarching storylines for the whole series and developed full character sketches for the top twenty characters in the series.

As I’m a very planned writer I love the ‘snowflake method’ developed by Randy Ingermanson, which he provides free on his website (just Google ‘snowflake method’). When it came to drafting Olmec Obituary I followed this method fairly closely.

To be honest, for me, it turned out that the process of writing was as natural as breathing. It’s everything else that goes along with being a writer that I struggle with. Typesetting, printing, distribution, marketing, PR and social media were far more challenging for me than writing.

I feel exactly the same. And, coincidentally, I also took online writing classes my library offered through Gale Courses before I wrote my novel. I’ve never heard of the snowflake method, but I will definitely check it out. Thanks for the info.

What are your hobbies besides writing?

I love investigating many branches of archaeology and history. I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting with a huge range of recipes – under strict feline supervision, of course!

lol. Cats do like to observe us humans

Is there anything else you’d like readers of this blog to know about you and/or your books?

As I’m Australian the series is written in British English. If a reader is used to American English I think this enhances their experience of escaping to another time and place, but I know some readers who prefer American English like to know about the slightly different spelling upfront.

Here’s a few links for readers of your blog who are interested in Olmec Obituary.

Paperback copies from Book Depository with Free International Shipping:

e-copies from Amazon:

The Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth Book Series Facebook page:

A Booklover Book Review:

The Goodreads entry (with reviews):

Happy reading!

Wonderful! Thank you so much for joining us on Cozy Chat today, and good luck with the series.


Posted in Education, Writing

A Writer Never Stops Learning

galecoursesOne thing I love about being a writer as well as a librarian is that both occupations encourage and actually necessitate continuing education. I remember when I first began writing again and the idea for “A Stone’s Throw” was not even a seed planted in my mind yet. I took some online Gale Courses that my library offered. The instructors and course material covered in each of these classes was beyond my expectations. The best thing about taking these classes, beyond picking up some useful tips and a lot of knowledge, was receiving a certificate of completion. I’ve placed links for all the ones I’ve received on this site under “Writing Certificates.” The reason I was able to create this WordPress blog was because I took “Creating WordPress Websites” with John Agress and Cindi Keller. I followed it up with John’s “Blogging and Podcasting for Beginners” class and learned how to record podcasts some of which are also featured on this blog and that I hope to continue on a monthly basis. John and Cindi have a Facebook page, WordPress with John Agress and Cindi Keller, where they can answer questions from their previous WordPress students.

Another course that was highly helpful was Eva Shaw’s class, “How to Make Money from Your Writing.” Eva’s students created a Facebook group, Eva’s Writerrific Garden, so they could keep in touch with this wonderful instructor. Linda Askomitis, who taught my “Introduction to Internet Writing Markets” also has a Facebook page, “Writing and Publishing on the Web with Linda Askomitis.”

As an author of romantic suspense and mystery novels, I found Steve Alcorn’s “Mystery Writing” class of particular interest as well as Lee Anne Krusemark’s “Beginner’s Guide to Getting Published” and Jacquelyn Landis’ “The Keys to Effective Editing.”

I think these writing classes were a great help to me, and I recommend them and many others offered by Gale Courses. They are six-week classes done in the comfort of your home or wherever you can access the Internet. If your library subscribes to the Gale Courses database, you can access the classes free with a library card.

Posted in A Stone's Throw

Giving Thanks for Being a Loser

thankfulI’m especially thankful this year as I just released my second novel, “A Stone’s Throw.” I am posting this to thank my followers and the awesome authors I have met from Limitless Publishing and elsewhere. I  want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and share some personal thoughts about this past year. This post also appeared as a guest post on Ayden K. Morgen’s blog, and I read it at a Jenny Craig open house on Thursday night.

A year ago this November, I made a decision that changed my life, and it happened in an unexpected way. A co-worker at the library where I work had lost some weight on Weight Watchers. Having been on many diets on and off all my life and gaining the weight back plus more, I was hesitant to try dieting again. But seeing this co-worker and realizing I was at my top weight, 200+ pounds that is considered obese for a woman my height, 5 feet 3, I knew I had to do something. I was more concerned with my health than my looks at this point. I’d never had high blood pressure, but I was beginning to get borderline results. I also didn’t have diabetes, but it ran in my family.

Considering what weight loss program to give another try, I was close to enrolling in Weight Watchers. But before I did, I visited my credit union to make a deposit (I rarely do this in person, but I had to make some changes on the account that required me to go into the office). When I walked through the doors, I was greeted by a woman distributing a coupon for a free-month trial of Jenny Craig. I’d tried both Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig years ago with short-term results, but I figured I had nothing to lose by trying a free month. I took the coupon and made the appointment with a counselor to start my program. Having a center close to my home made it easier to attend the weekly sessions with a very nice woman named Lauren who made me feel welcome and was very supportive.

jennycraigFollowing the program, I lost 10 pounds the first month and really didn’t feel hungry, but I knew that initial weight loss is usually high and tends to taper off. I was also not convinced I would continue to follow the program. The cost was also a bit prohibitive. In addition to the price of the food and the monthly program fee, it made a dent in our family budget, but my husband encouraged me to continue. He said that I couldn’t put a price on my health, and we would just have to cut back in other areas.

A few months into the program, I was losing steadily between the 1 to 2 pounds that Jenny Craig indicated was the norm for dieters following the plan. I began to have more energy, my blood pressure was no longer borderline, and I found myself writing again. I had stopped after self-publishing a novel several years back and hadn’t been able to find the time or inspiration to write another. I started with short stories and even enrolled in some online writing classes offered by Gale Courses that my library offered. Then I got an idea for another romantic suspense novel. In February of 2015, three months into my Jenny Craig program, I began writing “A Stone’s Throw.” Meanwhile, my weight loss continued. As the book grew, my body shrunk. My husband and Jenny Craig counselor were very proud, and I was feeling so much better.

diet2diet3I find it hard to believe, when I look in the mirror, that I’ve actually lost nearly 60 pounds and 12 clothing sizes this year. I can now shop in a regular department store instead of online through the specialty “large women” shops. I’ve also added exercise to my regimen and walk a mile a day to help burn up more calories as I get closer to my goal weight.

“A Stone’s Throw” was just released by Limitless Publishing.  I’m not sure if I owe its publication to the creative energy I developed as a result of my weight loss or if it’s just another sign of what you can accomplish if you are determined and have the support of others. I only know I’m thankful for having gone to my credit union that day last November, that I decided to give Jenny Craig another try, and that my husband and counselor were so supportive. In addition, the support of my fellow authors has been amazing. My Thanksreader’s Release party this past Friday was a great success with 25 authors participating and offering prizes and giveaways. There were scrumptious recipes included, and readers were actively involved in the contests and discussion. I am truly blessed and thankful to have had so many people help and support my book’s release.

Debbie’s blog/website:

Facebook Author Page:

Posted in Podcasts

Podcasting Plans

sound I’m amazed at the amount of options the Internet offers  authors today to promote their books. One area I never investigated was Podcasting, online audio recording. When I learned that a blogging and podcasting course was offered by Gale Courses, online classes that I had taken through my library, I decided to enroll in it.

I’ve been told by co-workers and friends that I have a good voice for audio and should consider recording my own books. I believed that Podcasting would be an opportunity to test my talent in this area.

My instructor, John Agress,  provided information on the equipment I would need to produce a podcast. Without buying additional software for my computer or a Mic (which I may purchase in the future), I was able to make a simple recording with an app (Voice Record Pro) I installed on my cell phone.  I had to admit the result sounded good, but the following lesson covered converting the sound file into an MP3 format and editing it in Audacity, another free program download. The editing phase allows extraneous sounds, long pauses, or other unwanted notice on the recording to be cut out and even permits copyright-free intro music and/or background music to be added to the podcast for further interest.

The class also discussed how interviews could be conducted through another app that recorded phone conversations or through Skype. I decided this method might be nice for my Podcasts and invited authors from Limitless Publishing, the publishers of my upcoming romantic suspense novel, “A Stone’s Throw,” and fellow members of the Cat Writer’s Association who might want to participate in author interviews. The response was overwhelming. I have a growing list of 22 volunteers. I had originally planned to post the podcast episodes of “Ruff Drafts” on a monthly basis to my blog. I may need to do it more often to accommodate all my guests.

The first two episodes of Ruff Drafts will include an introduction and some excerpts from my own writing. Look for them here soon. I hope you enjoy the broadcasts.

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Authors, Books, Characters

My Character, Myself

characterimageI was asked to write a synopsis with a character-oriented focus to help my publisher create some cover copy for my upcoming book. While doing this, I began to reflect on how I created the varied characters, some major and some minor, in “A Stone’s Throw.” I think it’s pretty obvious that the librarian protagonist, Alicia Fairmont, is based on me. While she’s not identical in her personality or looks, there are some interesting similarities. When the story starts, she has been a librarian for 17 years. I’ve been one for over 20. She and her husband have been married 15 years without children. I had my daughter after 15 years of marriage. She has chestnut hair (some people consider my hair reddish brown), and she is quite stubborn (I’m a Taurus, need I say more?).

What about the rest of my characters? Going back to my previous analogy of authors giving birth to their book, I believe that their characters are their “babies” that grow throughout the story.  In an online Gale Course I am taking on Mystery Writing, I am learning about the protagonist’s and antagonist’s flaws. No one is perfect, and characters share the same imperfections as real people, so it makes sense that they are based on real people – whether it’s the author or a relative, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance of the author. A character can also be a composite of more than one person. Characters are then shaped by their experiences, both the back story and the continuing plot.

Some authors create detailed sketches of their characters before even adding them to their manuscripts (I wish I had been one of those). Like me, others create characters as they write. It often feels that the characters create themselves.

Another type of character that adds interest to a book is the pet character. As a member of the Cat Writer’s Association, I am familiar with cat and dog mysteries such as those written by Rita Mae Brown, Carole Nelson Douglas, Shirley Murphy, Lilian Jackson Braun, Amy Shojai and others. While the cat and dog characters in “A Stone’s Throw” don’t speak or solve mysteries by themselves, they play important roles. Sneaky, the Siamese who is the Cobble Cove library cat, is modelled after my 15-year old Siamese cat, Oliver. Fido, the old, overweight golden retriever, is just the perfect type of dog for 80 year old Mac.

The most important thing about a character is that a reader can relate to that person and finds the person interesting, not a flat caricature. I believe one of my strong points as a writer is the way I depict characters. I hope you will agree when you read “A Stone’s Throw.”