My Birthday Gift to Me

Today is my birthday, and I gave myself a wonderful present: The Last Sale. I released the second book in my Enid Blackwell Series today. The first copy of my book always goes to my wonderful husband. He is the hero of all the stories in my life.

Thank you to everyone who has been patiently waiting for the second book, and to all my loyal readers. You are the reason I write!

I’ll say more later about The Last Sale, for for now, I’m going to enjoy my special day. I have much to be thankful for.

Murder in Madden Wins Award!

I always seem to be apologizing for not posting more frequently. So, here I am again, apologizing. Let me bring you up to date on a couple of things.

I finished the manuscript for the second book in the Enid Blackwell series, The Last Sale, in September. Like Murder in Madden, this book was inspired by a real-life event—the disappearance of a young woman in Columbia, South Carolina. Ironically, the week that I finished the manuscript was the 25th anniversary of her disappearance. However, out of respect and privacy for the real family, I won’t mention her name specifically here or in the author’s notes in the book. People familiar with the real-life cold case will recognize it immediately. Let me be clear, however, that The Last Sale is purely fiction and only “inspired” by the actual case.

Excited as I was to finish the second book’s manuscript, a few weeks later I learned that Murder in Madden was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards contest. There were approximately 2400 entries, so I was very excited and honored to have placed.
Bolstered by my award, I then entered Murder in Madden in the Book Pipeline contest. Winners will be announced early 2018. Who knows, maybe my first book will be made into a movie. Stay tuned!



Reflections on the Decatur Book Festival

Like any mostly-full-time writer, I get discouraged at times. As a profession, writing is solitary and often frustrating, which is probably why I enjoyed the Decatur Book Festival, September 2-3. Connecting with readers, face-to-face was invigorating. I loved being able to talk about my book, rather than just writing about it.

Reflecting on the festival brought up another issue for me: I really don’t like social media. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love being able to keep up with friends and family whom I don’t see often. I even enjoy their cute kitten videos and recipes. I also enjoy seeing what my newly acquired friends are doing, as it helps me get to know them better.

What I don’t like is trying to connect with potential readers who are total strangers via social media. Unfortunately, I’ve got to learn to embrace it if I want to “make it” as an author. And then there’s this whole Amazon monolith thing. I haven’t learned a tenth of what I need to know about marketing with them. It’s pretty overwhelming at times.

And then, I reflect on events like the Decatur Book Festival and am reminded why I write. So, I am doing what I can to put my story out in the universe and trust that somehow I’ll figure out how to do the right things to connect with you, my readers.

So, if you bought Murder in Madden at the festival, THANK YOU! I am honored that you have read/will read my story. Please let me know if you like it (or if you didn’t). And, if you have any thoughts on social media, let me know.

Murder on My Mind

“I’ve had murder on my mind a long time.” That’s what I told a book club recently while discussing “Murder in Madden.” For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved mysteries. My first books were the Nancy Drew series—I still have most of them. In the late-1950s, when I was a child, my allowance was 50 cents a week, but to encourage my reading, my parents gave me the extra to buy a 59 cents book, plus tax. I’ve been reading ever since.

As I grew older, I began reading books by Daphne du Maurier, Mary Stewart, and later, by Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Now I read John Grisham, John Hart, Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, and many other authors I’ve discovered along the way.

Until recently, I’ve never asked myself “why mysteries?” Why don’t I read great literature or at least other genres as much as mysteries? All I can say in my own defense is that I’m not alone. In fiction, thrillers are the number one sellers. I’m pretty sure it’s because the stakes are higher in a murder mystery than, say, in a bank robbery. Sure, the latter is a mystery, but losing money just isn’t the same level of thrill and danger.

One thing I really love about mysteries is the way clues come together. I am, by nature, a problem solver, and finding the bad guy or gal is the ultimate question to be resolved. I also love closure, and finding the perps brings the story to its rightful end. There’s something satisfying about having all the loose ends tied up and all the questions answered. But I also love the characters in a mystery, and how they use their wits to solve crimes. Oddly, though, I’m not that interested in police procedurals. I’m far more interested in ordinary people who defy the odds and discover what eludes law enforcement, or how ordinary people get caught up in something way bigger than themselves and manage to think their way out of it.

And, of course, I just love a good story. I remember hearing ghost stories as a child and how I loved to be scared. I read once where the human mind can’t distinguish between sex and fear. So, when you’re scared, you think you’re having sex. Wow! Who knew?

Anyway, now that I’m a mystery author myself, I really do have murder on my mind almost all the time. Every conversation, every event, every weird thing that happens is fodder for the next book. And, just so you don’t worry about my psychological state, I abhor violence as much as the next person—that is in real life.

Do you have murder on your mind, too? If so, let me hear from you.

Sit Down and Power Through It

Last night I attended my Wednesday night cycle class. As Kathleen, the instructor, led us through a series of exercises, one was a “hill climb,” in which we stood up to cycle using higher gears. I ramped up my gears and followed along. Then Kathleen said, “Now sit down and power through it. Don’t touch those gears,” which meant that it was going to be a more challenging ride. Sitting while cycling with a higher gear is much harder than doing it standing, because when you stand, you use your whole body weight.

As I sat down and struggled to “power through it,” it occurred to me that these cycle instructions would also apply to writing. When you first start a writing project—like a novel, you stand up and put your full weight into the ride. It’s not effortless, but it’s easier than at any other point in the writing process. Later, as you get further into your project, you eventually have to sit down and power through it. That means writing when you want to quit and ignoring the urge to get out and enjoy the spring weather. It means writing when you are ready to give up because you feel like you’re an idiot for ever thinking you could write a book. Powering through it is where most people lose it. The hill climb overcomes them and they drop out of the ride. I know. I’ve been there.

While writing my first book, I dropped out a few times. “I can’t do this.” Or, “What was I thinking?” You know, all of those self-recriminating statements we make to ourselves in our lowest moments. Thankfully, I was able to get back on track and finish my first novel, Murder in Madden. Now that I’m writing the second novel in the Enid Blackwell series, I am again facing that same hill climb. It ain’t easy, nor should it be, but I will make it to the top of this hill and finish the second book. I’m confident because I have been up this hilly path before. And I know I can sit down and power through it.

The Joy of Book Clubs

Last week, I met with a book club in Prosperity, South Carolina. What an experience! It was such a pleasure to meet with a group of people who had read the book and who asked very insightful questions. In particular, they were interested in the characters and how they were developed. We had an enlightening conversation about the writing process.

Here’s what I learned from the book club discussion:

  • Never underestimate your readers. They may be reading for entertainment, but they put a lot of thought into what they are reading.
  • Characters trump plot. With the exception of the occasional (usually male) readers who want nothing but action, most readers want to experience the characters’ lives in an intimate way. They want to understand the characters’ motivations, fears, and joys. As my writing coach often said, plot springs from the characters being in situations. How they react to the situation creates plot. The book club ladies’ interest in character development just confirmed this assertion.
  • Readers interpret based on who they are, not on who you are. The French essayist and memoirist Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” The same is true for your readers. Their world view and values will determine how they see your characters, no matter what you do. It’s okay.
  • Being with this book club reinforced for me why I write—to connect with readers.


I’m looking forward to many more book club discussions about Murder in Madden and its characters, many of whom will return in the second book of the “Enid” series. Please contact me if your club is interested in a personal visit, Skype or phone discussion with the author at one of your club’s meetings.

Beginning on book #2 in Enid Blackwell series

Before I say anything, I want to acknowledge my writer friends to manage to juggle a full-time job, fulfill family obligations, market their already-published books, and still find time to write. It’s a challenge!

As I begin the second book in the Enid series, a year has passed in the story. If you’ve read the book, you know book one left some unanswered questions to be resolved. Most will be addressed in book 2; others in later books.

I’ve missed Enid, Cade, Jack, and the other character friends I made writing the first book. Reconnecting with them is like going to a reunion and seeing folks you haven’t been in regular contact with. It’s exciting to hear what they’ve been up to. And they are anxious to share the second story with me. I am, after all, just the channel they use.

Stay tuned–more about writing the second book as it progresses.

Readers’ Feedback on “Murder in Madden”

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I posted anything, and I apologize. Like many of you, I got caught up in a zillion holiday-related activities with friends and family. It was fun, but I am feeling a bit guilty about ignoring my blog, so I’ll try to catch you up.

As you know, Murder in Madden is is my first novel. I’m an experienced business writer and editor, but writing novel-length fiction is something altogether different. During the past three years, I’ve studied with some wonderful writing coaches: Cynthia Morris, Al Watt, Jerry Cleaver (sadly, now deceased), and others. While I was studying and writing, many of my friends kept asking, “So, when are you going to actually finish this book?” Well, I can say with certainty that my patience and diligence in studying story structure and learning the craft paid off. The feedback from readers has been overwhelmingly good. They have made comments like, “Great character development. I feel like I know them personally.” And, “It kept me guessing.” My favorite comment by far, which I’ve received from numerous readers is “I couldn’t Put it down.” Whew! I knew I had written a good book, and now my readers have validated it.

I’ve done some personal appearances and hope to do more. This month I was at The Coffee Shelf in Chapin, South Carolina, and on the 21st I’ll be at the Burry Bookstore in Hartsville, South Carolina. If you know of a book club or event I might be interested in, please use the contact form and let me know. I’d appreciate it.

Last week, I started on book number two in the Enid Blackwell series. I’ve committed to four Enid books. No, I won’t take three years to write each one. Hopefully, I can do one a year—that’s the goal.

Well, I’d better get back to writing. Thanks for checking in with me.

Book Launch Celebration


October 30 was a fun day for me. Not just because it was the day before Halloween, but because I celebrated the launch of my book with friends and family. I shared my writing journey, which began with the idea for Murder in Madden and ended with its publication. Most of the people in attendance were instrumental, in some way, in helping me along the way. I appreciate all their support.

I’ve gotten good feedback from those who have read it. Many have asked when the next book will be out. During my discussion, I committed to doing four books in the Enid Blackwell series and to starting book #2 in January. For now, I’m going to enjoy the holidays and also set up some signings.