Posted in Reviews

Review of Pets on the Prowl: An Animal Mystery Anthology edited by J.K. Larkin

*****5 stars

If you’re an animal lover and a mystery fan, you’ll love this collection of twelve pet mysteries by talented authors.

“Stealing Roscoe” by John M. Floyd is the first story in the anthology. Taking place on a college campus, it involves the dog napping of a bulldog that’s the mascot of the school’s sports team. The next story in this collection, “Murder Gone A-Stray” by Debbie De Louise (me) features an officer who is invited to attend the will reading of a rich, old man whose children may have played a role in his death. When Officer McDonald arrives at the mansion, she discovers that she must spend a night at the house with the relatives and a cat who has witnessed his master’s murder. “The Catbird Seat” by Dawn DeBraal is told in the point-of-view of a cat who also witnesses a murder. “Troubles in Paradise” by Kathy Chencharik features a cat who interacts with other neighborhood animals in a search for missing pets.

Not many would consider a cockroach a pet, but the main character considers it her mascot and uses it as inspiration for revenge in Jeffrey A. Lockwood’s “La Cucaracha.” Another unusual addition to this collection is “My Best Friend is a Ghost Who Happens to be a Dog Named Rosie” by Stephen Johnson. This is a story about a young girl who meets up with a canine ghost on Halloween who helps solve the case of missing pets.

“Fetch” by Ken Goldman was one of my favorites in this anthology. It has a supernatural element to it and involves an old man and his dog who begins to bring home human bones. The ending is quite a twist. “The Daring Duo of Shady Elm” by Shari Held features a Siamese and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as the main characters. The cat and dog help solve neighborhood burglaries. “The Three Lives of Thomasina Bug” by Elizabeth Elwood is a cute story about a cat who, with his favorite toy, leads police to where illegal drugs are hidden.

“His Sister’s Keeper” by Matt McGee features a wildlife sanctuary employee whose brother alerts her about a bear blocking traffic on a busy road. Arriving at the scene with her dog, she figures a clever way to deal with the bear without harming it. “Null and Void” by Rashmi Agrawal is another unusual tale. This one involves a woman whose boyfriend asks her to get a divorce from the dog she married at the request of her parents. Last, but not least, David Lange’s “Bessie’s Cap,” is a fun romp of an adventure involving two raccoons in an air and space museum who set out to discover the thief of two historic aviation artifacts. Lots of fun as they interview the mice and other inhabitants of the museum while trying to avoid the snake.

I highly recommend this book of pet mysteries which is another fine addition to the Red Penguin Collection edited by J.K. Larkin. Pick up your copy here:

Posted in Anthology, holidays

Review: ‘Tis the Seasons: Poems for Your Holiday Spirit edited by J.K. Larkin

*****5 stars

This holiday poetry anthology is part of the Red Penguin collection of books edited by J.K. Larkin. It contains 36 poems by various authors that reflect the wonder, joy, and nostalgia of the holiday season. Some poems are funny; others are sad, but they all deal with holiday feelings and experiences.

Some of my favorite poems include David Lange’s “Needle in the Corner,” a poem with a sad twist; J.S. Manino’s “Thrill Before Christmas” which is a clever takeoff of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” song; Lisa Diaz Meyer’s “Merry Christmas Eve (Grandpa’s Walk); Linda Trott Dickman’s “Still Proceeding”; the funny “A Kiss Under the Mistletoe” by Gary S. Watkins; and two poems that deal with the pandemic: “A Pandemic Christmas” by Meldoy Lipford and “Bright Nights” by Kathryn Sadakierski. My short poem “Advent” is also featured.

I can heartily recommend this collection to get you into the holiday spirit. It’s available as a paperback or eBook and also free for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers. Pick up a copy at

Posted in Anthology, Recipe, Reviews

Review of Feeding the Flock: Recipes from the Red Penguin Family

***5 stars

Feeding the Flock is part of the Red Penguin Collection of anthologies of various genres. This one focuses on cooking recipes for large gatherings, although the ingredients can be modified for smaller servings. Whether hosting Thanksgiving, a special birthday party, or other occasion or holiday, this is a perfect book to keep by your stove. What’s unique about this collection is that, besides some interesting yet simple recipes for groups, it includes note about how the cook/author created the recipe. It also features illustrations of each dish. Some of the familiar recipes included are Basic Stuffing Recipe, Dutch Apple Pie, Twice Baked Potato, and Linguine with Clams. Other less familiar recipes featured are Cawl Mamgu, a Welsh dish; Hungarian Krumpli Haluska; and Golabki (Polished stuffed cabbage). My favorite was the “Do You Take Your Peppered Peppers Laying Down or Vertical?” because I love stuffed peppers. I also enjoyed Mussels Marinara in Oyster Bay by Elaine Donadio who shared her memories of when she and her family lived and boated around this Long Island town which is one of my favorite places to visit. If you’re looking for a recipe book with a varied collection of dishes along with some great stories, this is the book for you.

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Posted in Anthology, Podcasts, Television Broadcast

The Red Penguin Collection – A Great Opportunity for Writers

Do you have unpublished stories hidden away in your files or on your PC? Poems, Essays, or other material? If so, you should check out the Red Penguin Collection, a series of anthologies with a variety of themes. Novice to advanced writers are invited to submit. The collection currently consists of 9 books including their new release, Stand Out, the Best of the Red Penguin Collection Vol. 1. On their website, there are also calls for 8 upcoming anthologies ranging from Feeding the Flock (a book of recipes); A Heart Full of Love (romance stories); The Florist on the Corner (nature-inspired poetry) and more. You can check the Red Penguin site for details and submission dates. I’ve been honored to have had my science fiction stories, “The Felindae Mission” included in both What Lies Beyond and the Stand Out anthologies. I’ve also had my poem, “Advent” included in the ‘Tis the Season anthology, and my essay, “Toasting 2021” included in We Made it!, their New Year’s anthology.

These anthologies are edited by J.K. Larkin, a Long Island based writer and recent graduate of Marymount Manhattan College. They are one of the many opportunities for authors that Red Penguin offers. Besides the anthologies, Red Penguin also publishes books using a traditional or hybrid model. Stephanie Larkin, the Founder of Red Penguin, has worked with many writers’ groups, including the New York Chapter of the National Writers Union, and The Long Island Authors Group, on book development and marketing. She’s taught in the Marketing Department at Nassau Community College for the past 10 years, where she enjoys working with future entrepreneurs and marketing professionals. She also works with several colleges in the business and entrepreneurial divisions, including the New York Institute of Technology and the Yale University National Student Leadership program.  Stephanie has been the moderator and host for dozens of author and writing events at libraries, schools and bookstores, as well as scores of online events. She hosts the Between the Covers TV show, The Once and Future Authors Podcast, and the Author Corner Cable TV show. I’ve been a guest on Between the Covers and The Once and Future Authors.

I’m thankful that I was included in the Red Penguin Collection and have appeared on their shows. I hope other authors will consider these opportunities and submit their work to Red Penguin.