Sunday, 27 November 2022

Let's Get Popping for the Holidays with Sweet Romance Author Catherine Castle...

 The holidays are coming and lots of people are planning parties. I thought it would be fun to share my recipe for popcorn balls. Most popcorn balls are made using corn syrup, but in our family we adjusted the recipe since we weren’t keen on how the corn syrup stuck to our dental fillings, especially after a corn-syrup-based popcorn ball pulled out a loose filling.

Additionally, this popcorn recipe brings back memories. The day our daughter was born I had made popcorn balls to take to a Christmas party. Instead of making the party, we ended up in the delivery room. Hubby missed most of the party, but he had the popcorn balls in the car. So, when after her birth, instead of passing out cigars (which he wouldn’t have done since he doesn’t smoke), he passed out popcorn balls to the hospital staff.

This is a simple and fast recipe and was a staple at our house for a long time at Christmas. It’s good other times, too, and will make a sweet treat for any time you need to reward yourself.


Catherine’s Popcorn Balls

¼ cup margarine
4 cups mini marshmallows
5 cups popped popcorn. Don’t use pre-bagged, pre-seasoned popcorn for this. Pop the whole kernel corn instead.

Pop the corn as directed on the package. Set aside each popped batch in a large bowl until you have 5 cups of cooled popped corn.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows. Stir until melted.

Pour over the popcorn and stir well to mix.

Working quickly, with lightly greased hands and helpers if you can get them, form the popcorn and marshmallow mix into balls. Let balls cool completely.

Serve right away or store by wrapping each ball in a square of plastic wrap.

Serves: Who knows? It often depends on how much you, or your helpers, can resist eating as you
roll them into balls.

While you’re waiting for the popcorn balls to cool, check out Catherine’s romantic comedy with a touch of drama. There’s no popcorn in the book, but there are plenty of laughs.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes, she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom for Mama.

Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer, she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems.

In addition to writing, she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting, and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter, FB, or her blog.

Sunday, 20 November 2022

An Author’s Continuing Conundrum: Marketing and Promotion…


So what’s the solution to an author’s marketing and promotion problems these days? You know. The endless advertising and selling to get readers to buy your book. No need to overthink. It’s simple. In a word: consistency. Authors need to build trust with their readers through being consistent with their publishing content. Posting on social media, blogging, guest spots, podcasts, YouTube, e-newsletters, and writing a book are just some of the tasks required for being present as an author. Not showing up makes the author and brand forgettable. Show up for your readers. Then you show up for yourself too.

How do you do build trust with your readers? Author friend Colleen M. Story suggests to begin with two ways:

1.      Consistency in QUALITY

2.      Consistency in PUBLISHING

You can apply these two ways to anything you do related to your writing career. Start by scheduling your production of at least three major pieces of content mentioned below:

Social Media: Post several times a week. Watch what your target audience (or other authors in your same genre) is posting too, so you can start to be a part of the conversation. Listen and learn what your readers want, then create the content that will grab their attention.

Blog: Write and publish a blog post at least once a week. It should fit within your niche and serve your readers. Then post links to your blog posts on all your social media platforms.

Run Ads on Facebook or Amazon: Either use the strategy for an Amazon 3 day Free promotion or post a Facebook ad for ten days, rolling it over with a new ad to take its place when the campaign ends. With Amazon, the tactic is to build the promotion by lowering the ranking until it begins to drive the promotion. Facebook allows you to target your audience, so when you get readers visiting your website or Amazon Author page (the less clicks the better) they become familiar with you and your books. If you have a series, you can combine your book covers together and put them on one ad. This can get pricey, but I think it’s worth it in the long run. Make sure to post ads on all your social media platforms to reach your targeted readers.

Email Newsletter: Send it out to your subscribers either seasonally or monthly. Include information that’s helpful to them, along with links to your blog posts and any news you want to share. FYI—So far, I have resisted creating an email newsletter. My reason? In my opinion, I believe my target audience (Young Adult) would probably pass on signing up for a newsletter, and opt for feeding their need about their favorite author’s news via social media. What works for one author doesn’t work for another.

Large Piece: Publish a larger piece of content—a short story, novel, or nonfiction book—once a year, or once every 18 months. That’s a no-brainer for a writer!

This schedule won’t propel your readership overnight, but if you stick with it and don’t give up, you will see results. Pick at least three of these, and start showing up. Consistency of action in service to your readers is truly the key to building an audience for your work. It’s not easy, but that means if you do it, you’ll be one of the few authors who stand out in your readers’ minds.

Are you consistent with your content? Do you use any of the strategies mentioned above? If not, are you willing to give it a try? I’d love for you to share your comments. Cheers, and thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate you!

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with its freakish power. There’s no hope for a normal life, and no one who understands. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Until mysterious things start to happen.

You can check out all my books on my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE 

Sunday, 13 November 2022

Getting to the Root of the Matter for Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper by Cozy Mystery Author Janis Lane...


One of the nicest things about root veggies is that they are almost always around ready for serving to your family. Stored in the bottom of the pantry or in a cool, dry place in the cellar, potatoes are a staple for meals. Carrots, onions, and both types of potatoes can be prepared fairly simply for easy cooking. Satisfying and healthy, these root vegetables can be presented many different delicious ways.

 BREAKFAST
Fried Sweet Potatoes
3 medium sized sweet potatoes 
½ cup butter
Brown sugar to sprinkle 

Wash, peel, and slice potatoes in ¼ inch thick rounds. Melt butter in skillet, place potato rounds in and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Brown sugar forms a syrup to pour over potatoes after cooking.
I suggest serving summer sausage patties, hot biscuits, raspberry jam, and orange juice. 
 
Wash, peel, and slice potatoes in ¼ inch thick rounds. Melt butter in skillet, place potato rounds in and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Brown sugar forms a syrup to pour over potatoes after cooking.
I suggest serving summer sausage patties Hot biscuits, raspberry jam, and orange juice.  

LUNCH
Mashed White Potato Patties 
2½ cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded mild cheese
1½ cups finely chopped green onion
Dash pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 – 2 tbsp. vegetable oil 
 
Mix potatoes, cheese, flour, green onions, and a dash of pepper to taste together in a medium sized bowl. Form into thin 3 ½ inch patties.
 
Brush with beaten egg then cover with breadcrumbs, Turn gently with specula and cover with breadcrumbs other side.
 
Sauté in heated oil until browned and completely warmed through. Flip gently to brown both sides. Serve warm. 
 
Great with scrambled eggs and bacon.
 
SUPPER (OR DINNER)
Carrot Casserole

1½ to 2 cups cooked and mashed carrots
1 small, sweet onion chopped                               
⅔ cup sharp grated cheese                                     
½ tsp. yellow mustard
⅔ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. sugar                                 
Salt and pepper to taste
Ritz crackers, crushed
 
Preheat oven 350° F.
 
Combine mash carrots in a mixing bowl with all ingredients except crackers. Pour into casserole dish and top with crushed crackers.
 
Bake for approximately 40 minutes. 
 
Suggested serving with browned pork chops topped with onion rings, mushroom soup and baked.  Fruit cups as salad.  

Here's a peek at my Cozy Mystery, Murder in the Neighborhood, a novel which introduces you to Detective Kevin Fowler and the intriguing murders which infect this small town Americana. The series follows the detective, colleagues, friends, and lovers through a whirlwind of events, good and bad, over the next three novels.

A killer is attacking respectable citizens in picturesque Hubbard, NY, and leaving corpses on their front steps in the middle of the day. Detective Fowler isn’t certain who causes him to lose the most sleep, a certain sexy reporter with bouncing curls and sparkling black eyes, or the elusive psychopath creating panic in his small-town community. Together, the detective and the reporter race to find the monster in their midst and return the town to the desirable place where people come to raise their families in peace and contentment. Can they sort through their differences to find romance even as they search for a determined stalker with murder on his mind? The clock ticks down on a man in a rage with a deadly mission.


Amazon Buy Links Kindle - Paperback

Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon
Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Sunday, 6 November 2022

Meet the Unforgettable and Mystical Jenna Ashby by Author Leigh Goff...

For the release of the Koush Hollow audiobook, Jenna Ashby provides insight into her character and life in a mystical town where magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

Tell us about your name?

It’s Jenna Ashby. Rayna, my mother, calls me Jennifer, which I despise. My middle name, Crossland, comes from Rayna’s maiden name, however, I have so many strange dreams about where I come from that it makes me wonder if Crossland is what it's really supposed to be.

Tell us about your childhood.

My parents divorced when I was a little kid. I moved with my dad from the bayous of Koush Hollow on the outskirts of New Orleans to Atlanta. My dad died in a terrible accident last year. I was fifteen and had to move back to live with Rayna in her creaky, old house. She’s career-driven, ambitious, and she pretty much has my whole life planned out for me. Don’t worry, though. Her plan is so not going to happen. I mean, she wants me to head her vapid social club one day, the Diamonds & Pearls. How could I even consider that? I’m an eco-warrior at heart and have no intention of hanging out with those materialistic, society women whose priorities are seriously mixed up. I’m also done attending balls and wearing pearls. Needless to say, life with Rayna is going to be a challenge—mostly for her.

Do you have any distinguishing physical features?

Besides my cool short, blonde spikes of hair, I have these interesting red marks on my hands. They’re crescent moon-shaped and Dad always told me they mark me as special, but Rayna hates them. She thinks they make me less than perfect. I don’t care. I’d rather be unique than perfect. What's strange is that since I’ve returned to Koush Hollow, they’ve been acting up. I think it has something to do with being near the bayou, but I’m not sure why.

What is your greatest regret?

Not spending more time with my dad before he died. I’ve really struggled to deal with him being gone, too. Rayna is desperate for me to forget about him and focus on being Pearl perfect, but I’m not perfect. I’m a freaking mess. I’ve made bad choices. I keep making mistakes because of other traumatic events that keep sending me whirling. I regret some of my mistakes, but that’s what being sixteen is all about. No one’s perfect. We all have regrets.

Who is the most important person in your life?

From the beginning, my dad was and still is the most important, but since I’ve arrived in Koush Hollow, I’ve met someone who makes me question what’s going on in the world around me. His name is Hayden and he’s more like me than any of the wretched Diamonds or Pearls. He irritates me most of the time, but he’s smart and cares about Lake Pontchartrain and the bayous around us, which aren’t as healthy as they used to be. He blames Rayna and the nuclear power plant where she works, but she’s a former marine biologist. There’s no way she would do anything to hurt the environment, right?

Who are your friends?

I had the coolest best friends back in Atlanta who liked to cosplay. In Koush Hollow, I hang out with Pearls, Lauren and Abigail. They’re on Rayna’s approved list, but disregarding that horrible fact, they are starting to grow on me. They want me to become a Pearl, too, so I can meet the mysterious Marais sisters and have access to their secret beauty treatments. What they don’t know is that I’ve already met them. Lauren keeps hinting in a strangely weird way at the price I’ll have to pay to be a Pearl. She knows money isn’t an issue for Rayna, so it must be something else they want. We’ll see what happens.

What is your favorite food?

The one thing I love about being back in New Orleans is the food! It’s all freaking amazing. A perfect day would begin with sugar-dusted beignets for breakfast, a mouthwatering Muffuletta for lunch, shrimp and creamy grits for dinner, bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert, and Zapp’s Voodoo chips to snack on while I binge on my Netflix faves.

Speaking of Voodoo, word around Koush Hollow is that the Marais sisters are Voodoo priestesses. True or False?

What I can tell you is that they’ve got all kinds of mystical stuff going on at their place on the bayou. I’ve seen them painted as skeletons, dancing, chanting, and tossing dead fish into a bonfire. There’s Mama Ismay, she’s the oldest, although they all look so young, it’s hard to tell. Lisette is super sexy, Destine is into some strange, but healthy food choices, and they all look at me like I remind them of someone…  

 Here's a peek at Leigh Goff's latest release.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother. As the 16-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow: How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing? As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

BUY LINKS 

Audible

Amazon  

Apple 


Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

 Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky. 

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

Celebrate Halloween with a Slice of Pumpkin Spice Cake and Romantic Thriller by Author Tina Griffith...

Halloween and November are my things. I love every spooky, creepy, and wonderful thing about October and all the good food of November. One of my favorite treats is the cake I’m sharing with you today. I used to make it with my kids. Now my grandbabies join me in the kitchen. Use any pan you like. I’ve baked this cake in a Bundt pan, a 13 x 9-inch pan, cupcake tins, and in three separates shape/sizes for freezing. It’s so easy to prepare and will fill your home with a wonderful aroma.

 
Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 spice cake mix box
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
Raising, walnuts, or blueberry jam, optional
 
Follow package instructions for egg, oil, and water amounts along with baking temps and time.
 
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup butter, room temperature
3 cups icing sugar – Confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
⅛ tsp. salt
 
Cool cake completely before frosting. This helps stop crumbs from mysteriously appearing all over your frosting.

The chill is in the air and all things that go bump in the night are about to happen. Time to curl up with a good romantic thriller while you enjoy a piece of your yummy treat.


 On Hallow’s Eve, as the veil between the two worlds was thinning,   the face of the full moon was lit up like a Christmas tree. The dead   would soon come alive, the alive would dress up as the dead, and   witchcraft had a way of piggybacking off other spells. This was the   ideal night to be a witch, for the effectiveness of all incantations,   divinations, and other avenues of magic, was perfect.

 Jayla is a clever witch, who had been cursed in her teens by her   friend, Ophelia. Since then, she has had to retrieve dark souls from   shrewd men in order to survive. While she has taken hundreds of   souls in her lifetime, this story is about her trying to take the one   which belongs to Roger Casem – the man she accidentally fell in   love  with.

 Could she kill him, as she had done with the others? If she wanted to   continue living, she must. But today, when his eyes skimmed her   body with unbelievable passion, she began to recognize her own   needs. As she blushed and turned her face away from him, Jayla did the only thing she could.



Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children's books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister's scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children's Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children's books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out

Sunday, 23 October 2022

Autumn is in Full Bloom According to Cozy Mystery Author Janis Lane...


 It’s that time of year again. Nothing is more refreshing than a vivid blue sky accented by fiery leaves of the hard woods, yellows of the aspens and some maples, and various reds of the underbrush. Many shades of orange and yellow are accented by the dark greens of spruce and pines. Autumn is foliage showing off and we love it. It’s nature’s last hurrah before the settling of winter time and rest.

   

 The flower gardens are looking a bit seedy (they have cause as they are making next year’s seeds.) Have your Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Obedience Plant finished? Sunflowers are nodding their heavy heads with birds and rodents feasting on the bounty of oil rich seeds. For relief we turn to a plant we nicknamed, MUM, but it is so not mum as it speaks with rich fall colors on a plant that stays tidy and easily tucked into existing gardens. Chrysanthemum has been shortened to mum; the real name almost forgotten. 

 Are mums perennial? Do they survive the freezing temps and come back next year?

The answer is . . . maybe. Indeed, the plant is cold hardy at least to agricultural zone 4/5. So why have so many gardeners been disappointed when the mums succumb to the cold? Might be from too much love? Actually, mums are fairly tough plants that need little attention to thrive. The problem is a shallow root system. Simply put, it cannot stay in the ground during frost heaves which come and go with a changing temperature. 

 Give it up. You aren’t about to run out every time a warm day and a frost freeze night happens. It’s probably many more nights than you suspect. Mulch is the best remedy. A good mulch will cut down on the possibility of the shallow rooted plant being thrust out of the ground and left high and dry to die.

 Two other remedies: Stick a pot or two of your favorite colors in a corner of the garage and give a sip of water occasionally. It might work; worth a try. Next is treat the low-cost mum plant like an annual and don’t worry about it. Just buy new next year.

  I’ve done all of the above with various successes. I refuse to give up new and different colors so I buy every year. I, also, cover my favorite yellows with solid mulch and try to remember to trim until the 4th of July. (Otherwise they grow leggie and unattractive.) I’ve been known to pot up an unusual color I want to try and save and tuck it into a corner of the garage. It works maybe half the time. I don’t get upset with failures, as I remember mums are not expensive and I can replace them as autumn approaches. It’s a lovely plant; indulge and enjoy.

Here's a glimpse into my new Cozy Mystery Release, MURDER AT THE LOOKOUT. It is 4TH in the Detective Kevin Fowler series. 

When is it not fun to be a blond? 

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

Amazon Buy Link

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane. 

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own. 

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Sunday, 16 October 2022

Ready for Party Season? The Origin of Cocktail Parties, a Rout Cake Recipe, and a Few Favorite Reads by Author Vonnie Hughes...

 

During the Regency era, and also most of the Victorian era, rout cakes were eaten at large gatherings called routs which were like afternoon teas that lasted long into the evening. Routs bore a marked resemblance to today’s cocktail parties where fashion was displayed, everyone stood, holding a drink and or some finger food in one hand. There was a little chatting then on you went to the next ‘rout’ after you’d sussed out whether your friends’ and neighbors’ fashionable garb was equal to your own. The upper echelon often attended more than one rout in a day.

So-called rout cakes were often consumed at these gatherings and were akin to drop cakes, quite plain by our standards – no ornate cupcake decorations or fussiness of that nature.

Below is a recipe for rout cakes borrowed from The Cook and Housekeeper’s Dictionary by Mary Eaton, 1822. Look at the HUGE amount of flour and butter! This mix would make many, many little cakes. Not, of course, that the lady of the house had slaved over a hot stove. No doubt her cook had that honor, baking in a kitchen so smoky she/he could hardly see.

ROUT DROP CAKES


2 lbs. flour
lb. butter 
1 lb. sugar
1 lb. currants, cleaned and dried
2 eggs
1 lg. spoonful orange-flower water
1 lg. spoonful rose water
1 lg. spoonful sweet wine
1 lg. spoonful brandy

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Mix flour, butter, sugar, and currants. Moisten into a stiff paste with eggs, orange-flower water, rose water, sweet wine, and brandy. Drop the paste onto a floured tin plate, and a short time will bake them.

Some authors produce quality books year after year and I have the utmost respect for them. They don’t churn out something quickly for the Christmas trade and other celebratory dates. Instead, they research and work, work and polish.

Here are a few of my favorites:


Most books by Tami Hoag
such as Down the Darkest Road and Live to Tell. I think my favourite is Still Waters. Why? Because her novels are so detailed, and the solution of the mysteries is never obvious. In fact, the character of the antagonists and protagonists holds the key to the solutions each time. For example, in A Thin Dark Line, it is the generations-old, warped solution of ways to protect a family that bubbles to the surface and the bloody mindedness of an ambitious female cop who stands up for her rights amongst male chauvinism that would chop most women off at the knees, that points the way to reasons for the crime and the discovery of the perpetrator(s).

Many books by Jayne Ann Krentz, not her very early ones where the hero was a dyed-in-the-wool MCP as was the fashion of the day, but her books from about 1998 onwards and also her historicals. Love the way her heroes say “huh.” It can mean so many things: they can be having a revelation, they may disagree with the heroine but they sure as hell are not going to say so, or it can be simply their version of a civil reply to modern discourse. My favourites are the Eclipse Bay series and her historicals written under the name of Amanda Quick such as Mistress (Regency) and The Third Circle (Victorian). Most of all, however, I enjoy her futuristic paranormals such as Siren’s Call set on Rainshadow Island and In Too Deep set in Scargill Cove. These appeal to me because of her light hand with the paranormal concepts and the quirkiness of the main characters. She creates otherworlds without belabouring the point. Sometimes writers create alternate worlds that require an immense investment on the part of the reader to learn the settings and morés of those worlds which can have the effect of having the reader skip pages and eventually put the book down. Not so JAK who, after many years of writing, knows just how far she can go to create a world not so very dissimilar to our own.

Obviously, I can’t go far without mentioning the greatest modern storyteller – Nora Roberts. I don’t like many of her earlier books which now seem dated, and I don’t feel that her paranormal ones are in the least bit convincing. However, I totally enjoy her recent single titles such as Tribute and Whiskey Beach. And I especially enjoy The Inn at Boonsborough series. I once saw a review where the reader criticised the Boonsborough ones because they had too much building detail in them. Now that’s the part I am intrigued with. I am not a purist romance reader so I like a bit of meat with my coffee froth. I wait for each new release of Nora’s, as do thousands of others, not all of them women by a long way.

Stieg Larsson, in particular his series of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Anti right wing extremist and magazine editor-in-chief, what a shame most of his books were only found after his death in 2004. I suggest for those who want a touch of reality watered down with a little idealism, read Larsson. Whether you see the movies first or read the books first, I promise you will enjoy Lizbeth Salander, the toughest cyber-expert on the planet.

Rick Mofina, a great suspense writer endorsed by the best suspense writers such as James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Sandra Brown, Tess Gerritsen etc. He is Canadian and so less inclined to use acronyms which can be a relief for a reader steeped in jargon which has to be researched. I thoroughly enjoyed Be Mine and my next choice is The Dying Hour. He writes about a crime reporter and unravelling detective in several of his novels, then switches to another team in his later books. If you like suspense and that ‘unable to put it down’ feeling, then choose Mofina.

Another one to keep an eye on: Going to read more by J.M. Gregson. Have just finished The Fox in the Forest about the murder of a well-liked town vicar. The murdered man is one of those rare characters whom everyone liked. Of course, the reader thinks “mistaken identity?” Gregson has an impressive writing record of both non-fiction and fiction. I enjoyed the British outlook to solving crime – stoic, authentic and painstaking – and the author’s writing experience showed by his excellent characterisations. No character was just a sketch. It was an in-depth exploration of people both likeable and unlikeable. 

So what authors do you enjoy? Have you stopped to ask yourself Why do you like their writing?

Regency novels by Vonnie:

A TOUCH OF TREASON

wherein a woman forced into servitude meets a man struggling with family debt and they become embroiled in the world of espionage.

THE SECOND SON

The fate of second sons and the practice of primogeniture is at the basis of this novel where John, who has secretly despised his older brother for years suddenly comes face to face with the reality of ownership and responsibility for the lives of others.

DANGEROUS HOMECOMING

A follow-on from The Second Son. Originally published by Robt Hale UK and when they closed down after almost 80 years it was published on Amazon and Smashwords under the title Dangerous Homecoming. In this book Colly Hetherington and Juliana Colebrook leave Portugal to escape the ravages of war, but on their arrival in 'safe' England, face a vicious danger that neither had ever imagined.

MR. MONFORT’S MARRIAGE

A bit hotter than my other Regencies.

Matthew Monfort has two excellent reasons for loathing members of the ton, but thanks to his father’s machinations, he finds himself inveigled into offering for Lady Verity Tristan. But she needn’t think she’s going to win him over.

ENTANGLEMENT (Novella)

When Alexandra Tallis discovers that her witless sister has imprisoned their father’s nemesis, Theo Crombie, in their attic, she quickly frees him, fighting an unladylike impulse to keep him as her own special captive. Despite the brutal beating she receives from her father, Alexandra continues to yearn for the delicious Mr. Crombie.

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow, she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand, be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.