Posted in Reviews

Review for Write that Book! by Stephanie Larkin


If you’re a writer, or a wannabe-writer, this is the book for you. It takes you step-by-step on how to get started, get organized, get writing, and get published. Those are the chapter titles, and each one contains a wealth of information provided by the author, Stephanie Larkin, the “head penguin” of Red Penguin Books. She shared with readers her experience and knowledge of the writing world.

Even if you’ve already written books and/or published them, you’ll find this guide a handy reference with tips and exercises galore which makes it a great print book to buy, although e-copies are available.

If you’re a beginner, this book will certainly motivate you on your writing journey.

A must read for all writers and those aspiring to write.

Pick up your copy here:

Posted in Anthology, Freebies and Special Offers

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A Gift and a Way for You to Help Pets and the Ukraine

Even if you’re not Irish, I’d like to give you a St. Patrick’s Day gift. My cozy mystery story, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, is free today, March 17, through the weekend. Pick up your copy here:

Would you like to help support a good cause? Red Penguin Books is publishing “Where Flowers Bloom: Poems and Essays of Strength, Hope, and Resilience,” to raise funds to aid the Ukraine people. They’re seeking submissions until March 25 and also have a Kickstarter campaign.

For details, see:

Thanks to those who voted for Hermione in America’s Favorite Pet Contest. She’s now #1 in her group but still needs more votes until 6 PM PDT time on March 17 to stay in the contest and enter the quarter finals.

You can vote once each day for free or buy votes that raise funds for the PAWS Foundation to help pets. Please make St. Patrick’s Day and St. Gertrude’s Day (Saint of Cats) lucky for Miss Hermione on March 17.

Posted in author news

Mid-March Updates, W.I.P’s, and More

I hope you’re all doing well and looking forward to spring. I know I am. Although the weather’s been back and forth this month so far, it should settle into a steadier pattern soon. Don’t forget to turn your clocks forward this Sunday for Daylight Savings Time if you’re in an area that observes it.

I wanted to post some updates about my writing. Unfortunately, I don’t yet have a cover for the first book of my new cozy series, The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady, and I’m also still waiting for edits to start. However, during my wait, I’ve completed another standalone novel that I’m editing and will submit to an agent or publisher soon. It’s too early for me to share any details except that it involves time travel.

I’m also reprinting my cat book, Pet Posts: the Cat Chats, with a new cover and title. This book will also be published in hardcover, large print, paperback, audio, and eBook with wide distribution. In addition, I’m about to begin work on another Cobble Cove story, tentatively titled Sneaky’s Supernatural Mystery. I’m considering using this as the main story in a print collection of the previous five stories (the collection will also be available as eBooks and free on Kindle Unlimited), but I know some readers still prefer print and have asked for these stories in that format.

Talking about collections, I’ve also submitted a poem and an essay to Red Penguin Books for their Ukraine fundraiser, Where Flowers Bloom: Poems and Essays of Strength, Hope, and Resilience. They are still seeking stories until March 25 and also have a Kickstarter campaign. For details, see

I’ll also be writing something for the first Long Island Authors Group anthology.

In April, I’m planning an Easter giveaway. More on that in my April newsletter. To subscribe, complete the pop-up form at, or send me your email.

Lastly, I’d like to ask a favor. If you’re on Facebook, could you please vote for my cat Hermione, who is running in America’s Favorite Pet Contest? She’s already passed through two rounds but needs votes to get into the quarter finals on March 17. You can vote every day for free and/or purchase PAWS votes that raise funds for the PAWS Foundation that helps animals. PAWS votes sometimes count double for a short time, as indicated on the voting page. I would also appreciate any shares of her campaign link:

To read why Hermione thinks she deserves your vote, check out her post here:

Posted in Reviews

Two More 5-star Reviews for Your Reading Pleasure


I wish I could give this book more than five stars, although it wasn’t what I expected. First of all, I don’t usually read non-fiction or memoirs. Secondly, romances are my least favorite genre. That may sound odd since I’ve written romance into many of my mysteries and also published a paranormal romance. Having said all that, I found this book nothing short of inspiring, romantic, and historically interesting. The author, Ms. Spinelli, shares letters written by her boyfriend during the time he served in Vietnam. We know from the start that he died in the war and that Ms. Spinelli had locked away these letters and other memories from that relationship in a suitcase that she only reopened fifty years after his death after being invited to view a memorial created in her boyfriend’s honor.

The story of Ms. Spinelli’s love affair is interspersed through the book along with the letters in date order of when she received them. Not all the letters are included and some are edited, but they retain the voice of a young man deeply in love and planning to marry his sweetheart. Indeed, both Ms. Spinelli and her boyfriend Lester (known to her as Chip) considered themselves man and wife. Chip was recruited in late 1969 and served through March of 1970 when he was listed as Missing in Action. His death was later confirmed, and a large number of relatives, friends, and residents of his town attended his funeral.

I couldn’t stop reading this book. Having been a child during the Vietnam era, I can only recall the protests, hippies, and “make love, not war” slogan. This book brought home the meaning of those messages. It also gave me a glimpse into war and the sacrifices soldiers and their families face.

I have to say that more than one passage brought tears to my eyes and that I found Ms. Spinelli’s final chapters, decades after Chip’s death, to reflect her growth and the many lessons she shares with us about appreciating the small details of life, embracing the written word through cards and letters instead of texts and emails, and recognizing the way life and death are connected. Some may consider her experience with a psychic that’s included later in the book to be above the top, but I believe people and even pets who have strong connections with their loved ones will reconnect with them one day after they’re gone.

Reading this book will give you historical insight but, more importantly, will touch your heart. Don’t miss it.


This was a fun read. As a time-travel fan (having read a few time-travel books and also written one), I found this book featured a unique concept. Aboard an Amtrak heading for Chicago, several passengers find themselves back in 1860 on an excursion trip arranged by the Union Pacific Railroad. Each of these passengers has a story. There’s an author who was chosen for a writer-in-residence program; a female detective; an elderly couple whose daughters worried about them taking the trip; a couple who were trying to rekindle their romance; a train buff who had traveled many rails; and a family so absorbed with social media and technology to the extent they were losing communication with one another.

As the train passes through a dust storm, these people find themselves dressed in clothes from the 1800’s and that they’ve assumed the identities of real people from that time. There are also other people on the train whom they don’t know. Making the most of the situation, they act out their roles. But besides traveling back in time, there are other surprises along the way for these passengers including a murder, an ill-fated romance, and an Indian attack.

I won’t give away what happens and whether this group returns to the present and if they do, what happens. But I’ll say that they all learn a lot about history and more about one another as they experience this adventure.

I enjoyed this book, the characters, and their time-travel adventure. It’s a great book to read on a train.

Posted in Reviews

Review: 52 Weeks of Simple Happiness: A Year to Lighten Up by Jim Ryan

***** 5 stars

We all know last year and the year before it presented many challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, and we all hope 2022 will be better. But what we may not realize is that we have the power to make it better for ourselves. In 52 Weeks of Simple Happiness: A Year to Lighten Up, Jim Ryan presents a week-by-week guide with exercises, assignments, tips, and reviews of a method that can help us take control of our lives and live it better.

This is the perfect book to start in the New Year or at any time during the year. Some of the 52 topics include “It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint,” “Wake Up Your Senses,” “When the Student is Ready, The Teacher Will Appear,” “The Grass is as Green as You Make It,” “Job Career or Calling,” “Have a Mind that is Open to Everything and Attached to Nothing,” and “Fear is the Enemy of Happiness.”

Working through these exercises, a week at time, will help you make changes that can benefit your well being as you develop a more positive outlook. Although some of the information Mr. Ryan relates is religious, this book isn’t aimed at any particular religious belief. Mr. Ryan also provides his contact information for people who wish to submit feedback about their experiences following the exercises.

Ryan has worked as a motivational coach, speaker, and author. He holds a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling and offers a free inspirational “Aha Moment,” every Wednesday to those who sign up at his website:

Pick up a copy of 52 Weeks of Simple Happiness: A Year to Lighten Up here:

Posted in Reviews, short stories

Review: Two Carrot Ring And Other Fascinating Jewelry Stories by Janet Metz Walter

****5 stars

When I first learned about this book, I thought it was a great idea for a unique read. After finishing it, I’m even more convinced of that. The book contains true stories contributed by people about a piece or pieces of jewelry. It’s divided into eight parts: Proposals; Gifts; Humor; Lost and Found; Repurposed Jewelry; Up Above; and Travel Stories. The story that gave the book its title, “Two Carrot Ring and the Central Park Charm,” was in the “Gifts” section. It was contributed by D. Sabel and tells a sweet tale involving a Woolworth ring and a special charm. It’s a very romantic story and also includes a nice poem.

The other stories in this collection are just as interesting. Some are nostalgic; others are modern, but they are all shared from the heart. Reading them, I realized I, too, had stories about my own jewelry pieces. Hopefully, the author who assists her husband in his jewelry business, Gold Fire Diamonds, will publish another volume.

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.

Posted in author news

Mid-September Author News: Stories, Books, and Cats

I hope you’re all doing well. During this pandemic, the focus is on health which reminds us how important it is to our well-being. I recently took a fall and received a minor if not aggravating injury to my rib cage. I have to limit my lifting and modify some of my other activities including my exercise and household tasks. I’m lucky that my accident wasn’t worse, but it made me realize how easy it is to become hurt or ill and that every day of health shouldn’t be taken for granted.

While I had some bad luck this past week, I’ve also received some good news. I’ve been elected an officer on the Cat Writers’ Association’s council. As a long-time member of this organization that supports and promotes all cat-related media, I am honored to have been elected.


Another piece of good news that I’m happy to report is that my two rescue cats, Harry and Hermione, are featured in the new release, Second-Chance Cats: True Stories of the Cats we Rescue and The Cats Who Rescue Us, that will be published on September 15. This book also includes rescue stories by several other Cat Writers’ Association members and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and eBook.My story about Harry and Hermione and other fateful experiences are included in Chapter 13 of Why People Believe in God: True Stories of  Encountering God by Reverend John H. Krahn. All 3 of my cats, Harry, Hermione, and Stripey appear in fellow CWA member Sandra Toney’s article about bedtime routines which can be read here.Most of my writing involves cats, sometimes mine and sometimes fictional ones based on mine. Although I write mostly mysteries, I recently submitted a science fiction tale featuring alien cats to the new Red Penguin Collection’s What Lies Beyond, a science fiction anthology. They are accepting submissions through September 15 for this anthology and will publish future anthologies featuring different themes. Check the website for more details and, while you’re there, check out the other exciting opportunities with Red Penguin Books including their author podcasts and new literary journal. NEWS

I’ve submitted my 5th Cobble Cove cozy mystery to Solstice Publishing and hope to have some updates about it in the October Author News. In the meantime, here’s a tentative blurb for No Gravestone Unturned.

It’s October in Cobble Cove, and Alicia is busy preparing for the library’s Halloween party when she learns that John’s aunt from Florida has died and that John’s cousins and their spouses are coming to town to bury their mother. The day after the funeral, the caretaker’s son is found dead by John’s grandfather’s gravestone, from a blow on the head. The only witness seems to be Sneaky the library cat, who, having left the library, turned up at Alicia’s door with blood and dirt on him.

As Alicia, Gilly, and Sheriff Ramsay investigate, a generation of family secrets is uncovered. Are one of the guests staying at the inn a killer? Will the humans solve the crime, and can Sneaky, Kittykai, and Salem, the inn’s guest cat, team up to help?

In October, I should also have more updates about Pet Posts: The Cat Chats, the non-fiction cat book that I’m self-publishing.Lastly, I would like to ask two favors. My new standalone mystery, Memory Makers, is in the running for the AllAuthor September cover-of-the-month contest. It has made it to the second round. To get into the third round it needs to be in the top 50 books. The last day to vote for Round 2 is September 14. If Memory Makers gets into the third round, you can vote again for it starting on September 15. If you like the cover, please vote for it here.

The blog tour for Memory Makers ends on September 21. Follow it here for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

The second favor is to vote for Harry and Hermione in the Remember Me Thursday contest. If you vote for my story, I could win a prize and the Golden Paw Society, Inc., the rescue from which I adopted them, would receive some money to support their organization. This contest ends on September 30. Vote here to support Harry and Hermione and the Golden Paw Society Rescue.