Monday’s Friend: Richard Bush (2)

Today I am pleased to welcome author and blues man Ricky Bush back to the blog, to talk about his two favourite things – blues and writing. Take it away, Ricky!

Blues And Trouble
By Ricky Bush

Ricky B (2)Blues and trouble. Those three words basically sum up the three books in my series involving Mitty Andersen and Pete Bolden, my crime fighting bluesmen. Wish I could get away with supplying that as a synopsis when asked to produce such. When I sat down to write the first book, River Bottom Blues, there was no doubt in my mind that it would revolve around those three little words.

I began listening to blues music when I was in high school (a long, long time ago), began playing the blues a decade or so later (blues harmonica) and began writing articles about the musicians and reviewing their recordings for a few different publications. Taking the old adage to “write what you know” to heart, I developed the characters of Mitty and his sidekick, Pete, both harmonica musicians, and the germ of an idea that had been floating around in my head for quite some time. The jumping off point was the unsolved murders of two renowned blues harmonica stars way back in the late 40s and 60s. I gave my protagonists the task of tracking down the person who murdered one of their harmonica colleagues in the present day. Of course, blues and trouble followed.

Really, I had no intentions of venturing further down the road after that first book. A series certainly didn’t enter my mind. I had that one idea in me and I had to get out of my system. I had a lot of fun with Mitty and Pete, though, and began toying with the idea of creating more blues and trouble for them. Didn’t really know what until I read a magazine article about a number of churches being burned throughout the South. The Devil’s Blues was born from that germ of an idea. When a close friend of theirs is falsely accused of firebombing his church, killing the congregation, Mitty and Pete see it as their duty to prove his innocence and, once again, blues and trouble cross their paths.

510x765-Howling-275x413 (2)A trip to Belize with the family several years ago sparked the idea for Howling Mountain Blues. At the time, I was still looking for a suitable home for my first book and had begun the second, without a clue as to whether either would ever be published. So, the idea of setting a third book in a tropical setting was far from being even a germ of an idea. If it had been, I would have looked for the multiple ways I could have written the trip off as research.

Eventually, though, the first book found a publisher and they agreed to put out the second. I was now hooked on Mitty and Pete and needed to come up with more…that’s right, blues and trouble. So, I sent them down to Belize to headline a blues festival without them realizing what kind of evil lies in wait.

So, yeah, blues and trouble pretty provide all the synopsis necessary when it comes to my crime fighting bluesmen.

Author Bio

Ricky Bush has been listening to, playing, and writing about the blues for most of his adult life. He has published articles about blues musicians and written reviews of their music for several different magazines and websites. After retiring from teaching, he began incorporating the music genre into his crime novels.

Find out more about Ricky and his writing from his website and his blog.

Buy his books here:

Or from Barking Rain Press.






(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I am pleased to be able to announce that my new horror novel, THE WHISPERING DEATH, has sold to British small press horror publisher Kensington Gore. There’s an exciting announcement about it over on their website.

THE WHISPERING DEATH is about a group of live action role-players who unwittingly release an ancient evil loose upon the world during a game. I am particularly fond of this novel because it is effectively about a group of geeks, and I was able to incorporate all the geeky things I love into the novel. LRP. Dungeons & Dragons. Video games. Zombie films. And it’s got a kick-ass heroine who’s also a geek girl. I had such a good time writing about her.

And it’s a novel that at one point I lost faith in. It had gone through several rewrites when I first started subbing it, last year. After getting fairly consistent feedback along with the rejections I decided it needed rewriting. But the rewrite took it to a place where the ending I wanted wasn’t going to work and I got quite depressed about it.

But it just goes to show you should never give up. Have faith and keep collecting those rejections. Eventually, acceptance will come. And sometimes you have to believe in your own writing, even when it seems no one else does.

THE WHISPERING DEATH is scheduled for release later this year, which means I am expecting edits to come my way very soon. And this one will be out in paperback as well as electronic format. Yay!

Monday’s Friend: Kyla Phillips

Today I am pleased to have urban fantasy writer Kya Phillips as my guest on the blog. Welcome, Kyla!

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

Kyla Phillips Author picKP: I was in fifth grade and instead of going out to play with the other kids I sat down in a corner with pen and paper and wrote my stories. That’s when I knew that writing would be in my future at least part time.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

KP: It is okay, no required, for your first stuff to be a bit crap. The best way to get past that is to keep writing, and writing, and writing.

SJT: Tell us about your new release.

KP: Agent of Light is the first in the Council of Light series. It’s an Urban Fantasy set in Cincinnati, Ohio about a bounty hunter team that track down the worst the supernatural world has to offer.

SJT: There are so many interesting sounding characters in this book I don’t know which one to begin asking you about. So I’ll leave it to you. Do you have a favourite, and how did he or she come into creation?

KP: I can’t say that I have one favourite because they are all so diverse and amazing. I love Vayne so much because she is strong yet has that vulnerability that shows through. She’s chaotic sometimes and very protective of those she loves. I also love writing about Donovan. He is a shapeshifter in both ability and personality. He’s often very stoic, but then he has moments of aggressive or passion and they always surprise me but never feel inauthentic. It makes for fun writing and great reading.

SJT: Your Facebook page says your fiction tends to have a message. Can you tell us what the message in ‘Agent of Light’ is (with giving away any spoilers?)

KP: The main message in Agent of Light is that vulnerability doesn’t negate strength. Vayne’s character arc follows that line. She goes through so things that prove she isn’t the impervious super-agent some might think she is but in the end proves to be stronger and more resourceful than even she guessed.

Also the story touches on the importance of relying on each other. No matter how powerful you are there are some problems that can only be overcome if you work together.

SJT: Have you ever been inspired to put people you know in real life in your books?

KP: I always draw a lot from people I know to fill out my characters. Vayne gets her protectiveness and chaotic nature from me. Her parents Phillip and Helena are a lot of my mom. They are a combination of who I saw my mother as in real life and who she said she wished she could be. I don’t know where Giovanni came from. He’s just a mess.

SJT: What’s next for you, writing wise?

 KP: I’m currently working on a SciFi novel, ‘Refugee ship Perseverance’ which follows a group of humans who barely escaped an invaded Earth only to find the planet they took refuge on isn’t as uninhabited as it seemed.

Also I’m working on book two of the Council of Light series, ‘Pawn of Shadows’. It delves into Donovan’s background. Readers will get to learn more about what landed Don in Vayne’s care in the first place. They will see the blossoming of one relationship and the straining of another so it should be very exciting.

 SJT: What do you like to do when you step away from the keyboard?

KP: I love to read and watch movies (Just saw Avengers: Age of Ultron which was awesome). I’m a simple girl. A trip to the park or to the pool and I’m happy.


Author Bio:

Kyla became a SciFi/Fantasy addict at age three watching Doctor Who on late nights up with her mom. She discovered her love of reading and writing in the third grade reading Robert A. Heinlein and Piers Anthony and trying to create stories like her heroes.

Currently she lives in Ohio with her grandmother and her dog, Mya – named after a SciFi character. She is inspired by the musing of her fellow writers in the Entropy writing group and hanging out at Barberton Public Library.






Monthly Round-Up: April 2015

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

The more observant may notice that there was no monthly round-up last month. This was partly due to the day job keeping me a bit too busy to keep up with blog posts, and partly because there was nothing to report.

However, I am now back on track , so here is the news from my writing world.


No new ‘coming soon’ announcements since February’s news about SUFFER THE CHILDREN being released by MuseItUp next year.

The anthology THE DARK HEART OF PEEPING TOM is out there, though, and it’s available in paperback as well as e-book (and Kindle). It features many stories that were first published in the UK 90s horror zine PEEPING TOM, including my story “Jimi Hendrix” eyes. If you like your horror dark, brooding and disturbing, this is a collection for you.


After a bit of a quiet period, I have kick-started my online presence and have a few guest appearances in cyberspace to report

29 March – I had a guest post on horror writer Luke Walker’s blog about why a nice horror writer like me writes crime.
9 April – I wrote the inaugural post for author and editor Akaria Gale’s new series on pro tips, writing about why the author needs a balance of praise and criticism.
20 April – Jan Edwards interviewed me on her blog.


I am still working on SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the third Shara book. This time last month I was quite depressed about it. Then I decided to scrap the old draft and start again. It’s never an easy decision to do this. If you keep restarting a manuscript you never get to the end, and I am a big advocator of getting to the end of the draft and fixing it in the rewrite. But I got to a point when I felt the manuscript wasn’t working in its current state and there was no point in continuing.

The reboot involved making some fairly major plot changes. Happily, the new draft is going quite well, and I have been able to salvage quite a lot of the earlier draft and incorporate it into the current WIP. Thus proving that it wasn’t all complete rubbish after all.

I am, however, only 7,000 words into the new draft so there is rather a long way to go yet.

See you next month!

Monday’s Friend: Akaria Gale

Today my guest is urban fantasy author Akaria Gale. Welcome, Akaria!

Horror + Romance = Perfection?
By Akaria Gale

I didn’t watch a truly good horror movie until 1999. Audition completely changed my mind of what the genre could be and it was love at first scream. Oh, sure. I’d seen a Friday the 13th here, or a Nightmare on Elm Street there. None of them struck me as good. They were silly, trivial things; forgotten as soon as I shut off the TV. Audition opened a whole new world of foreign cinema. It was thrilling to see what Japanese, Korean, French or Norwegian filmmakers used to terrify their audiences.

After gorging on foreign films for a few years, I returned to American horror and was happy to see the genre had grown up a lot. Slashers and torture porn like the Saw movies still ruled the screen, but a few ambitious tidbits stood out. The VHS and ABCs of Death anthologies showcased the power of short form horror. The Possession explored a willingness to terrify through a different religious lens than Christianity. Also, more women in the genre gave me two of my favorite movies in 2014, American Mary and The Babadook.

So what in the everloving hell does this have to do with writing romance? Well, I tried to carry my love of horror over to book form, but the heavy hitters did nothing for me. Neither did the unknowns. I tried traditionally and self published books. Something was missing. Finally, I turned to urban fantasy and found kindred spirits. Here were mysterious worlds filled with horrible creatures and brave men and women who fought them. But it wasn’t all about the struggle. The protagonists also fell in love. That’s what struck the spark. The light switched on. Bells rang. Angels sang. It felt like coming home. From urban fantasy it was a quick jump to paranormal romance. I’ve never looked back.

In 2010, with dozens of urban fantasy and paranormal romance books under my belt, I knew I wanted to add my voice to the crowd and so began the first outlines for the Awakening series. Last year, the first book in the series, Angel’s Awakening released. Book two is in the works.

I continue to watch a boatload of horror with a generous sprinkling of true crime for seasoning. It’s a type of therapy. There’s comfort in knowing nothing in my head ever quite reaches the twisted nature of humanity. At the end of the day, who would you rather have as a neighbor? Tabasco & milk swigging demons or Gary Ridgway?

Special thanks to Sara for allowing me to share my journey from horror to romance. I’ll see you in my dreams…and nightmares!

Author bio
Akaria Gale lives in Brooklyn with her husband, children and a disgruntled cat. She is a native New Yorker, slow cooker enthusiast, hard cider advocate who occasionally finds time to write about the secret world right underneath our noses. One day she hopes to give winter the middle finger and become a beach bum.

Find out more about Akaria and her writing at her blog, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Akaria Gale

After a disgraceful two thousand year demotion, Charouth is a heartbeat away from regaining her status as one of Heaven’s Elite angels. Her final mission: to retrieve five rare artifacts and prevent Satan’s escape from Hell. A formidable task that becomes nearly impossible when Azazel, Satan’s top relic hunter and her ex-lover, joins the quest.

Bloody confrontations with the worst the Netherworld has to offer, land her further away from redemption than ever, forced to choose between duty or desire. Two thousand years ago, their passion defied Heaven and Hell. Will love blossom again, or will ancient allegiances tear them apart forever?

Buy now on Amazon Kindle.

Monday’s Friend: Rosemary Morris


Today I am pleased to welcome Rosemary Morris back to the blog as this week’s guest.

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

Rosemary Morris - Small photo (2)RM: Before I could write, I had a powerful imagination, which swelled as soon as I could set pencil to paper. I always had stories in my head and lived in a fantasy world peopled by incredible characters. I scribbled short stories and, eventually, wrote my first historical novel.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

RM: There are too many to mention all of them. At grammar school my English literature and history teachers fostered my passion for both subjects. As a pre-teenager I read children’s historical and fantasy fiction, particular favourites were The Wide Wide World, Heidi, The Little White Horse and the novels of Geoffrey Trease and Jeffrey Farnol. In my teens I was wrapped up in the Regency world of Georgette Heyer, the diverse settings of Elizabeth Goudge’s and Anya Seton’s novels, plus every historical novel I could get my hands on including Tess of the d’Urbevilles and Sergeanne Golon’s Angelique series.

SJT: Describe your writing routine. Any rituals or processes that are important to you as you sit down to write?

RM: On most days I am awake by 6 a.m. or occasionally, at the latest, 7 a.m. I make a hot drink with a thick slice of unwaxed lemon and two teaspoons of organic honey, then switch on the laptop. After a break at 8.30 a.m. for a breakfast of porridge made with almond milk and three portions of fruit, I write until 10 or 11 a.m.

When my daily chores are finished I often work for an hour after lunch, and from about 4 or 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Some of this time is used to promote my novels, answer e-mails, blog, and read non-fiction for research.

If I had a pound for everyone who told me they can write a book I would be rich. My daily ritual, if I may call it that, is self-discipline without which my novels would not be written.

SJT: Your novels are all historical, covering various periods of history. Do you have a favourite era that you like to write about?

RM: It’s more a question of which periods of history have not inspired me to use as a setting for my historical novels. For example, I have not had a compulsive urge to set a novel in the Victorian era, but at the moment, I am revising the first book in a trilogy set in the reign of Edward II of England.

I don’t have a favourite era which I write about, but I am keen to introduce readers to Queen Anne Stuart life and times – 1702-1714. For one thing, if the Duke of Marlborough had lost the Wars of Spanish Succession the course of history would have been altered. When writing my three published novels set then, Tangled Love, Far Beyond Rubies and The Captain and The Countess, I enjoyed working out appropriate plots and themes and describing the economic and social history and the clothes, food etc.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release.

The Captain and The Countess 200x300 (2)RM: The Captain and The Countess explores the position of women completely at the mercy of their husband’s and, in the case of the heroine, the wealthy widow, Kate, Countess of Sinclair, her decision never to marry again. However, Captain Howard, some years her junior, a naval officer and a talented artist, is the only man to see the pain behind her fashionable façade and is determined to help her. While writing this romantic tale I wept for Kate and admired her courage. I also fell a little in love with Captain Howard. Although he is battle-hardened, he is generous, kind and efficient and very mature for his age. Throughout the novel I urged Kate not to reject his devotion.

SJT: Last time we talked, you were working on a sequel to ‘Sunday’s Child’. How is this going?

RM: I have finished Monday’s Child, a traditional Regency Romance, which is set in Brussels prior to The Battle of Waterloo and submitted it to my publisher. The novel took longer than I anticipated to write due to the amount of research required.

SJT: You’ve lived in many places, and now you’re back in the UK. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

RM: I’m pleased to say I am content living in England near four of my children and grandchildren. I would like to travel overseas to see a bit more of the world but I would not swap my house and organic garden, in which I grow herbs, fruit and vegetables for one in any other country.

SJT: Thank you for being my guest once again, Rosemary!

Learn more about Rosemary from her website and her blog:

Her books are available from MuseItUp, Amazon Kindle, itunes, Nook and all reputable vendors.

Monday’s Friend: Lisa Lickel

Today I am pleased to welcome the multi-talented author and editor Lisa Lickel to my blog.

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

LL: Ooh, destined – such a better phrase than “knew.” After a few years of writing and selling articles and newspaper features, getting far in a contest and signing an agent and two contracts for novels within a few months at the end of 2007, I set out on that path of destiny of calling myself a professional writer.

SJT: We don’t choose writing, it chooses us – hence why I refer to it as ‘destiny’! Who would you cite as your influences?

LL: In the authorial world, I am heavily influenced by the lingua of Ray Bradbury, dramatic Louisa May Alcott, and the hominess of Michael Perry. As far as dedication to craft and tenaciousness, the likes of Phyllis Whitney and all her personas; those authors who have a steady audience which they are able to feed regularly.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

LL: What I would have liked to have known, though I’m not sure I would have understood then, is that this is a business, folks. There is no nice, no kind, no oops that’s not on purpose. Get your audience together, be aggressive without being annoying, be enthusiastic and fold a cadre of encouragers around you. That’s every bit as important as churning out excellent material.

SJT: Tell us about your forthcoming novel, HEALING GRACE.

Healing-Grace-v2b (3)LL: To clarify first, Healing Grace is forthcoming in print, and actually a third edition. It is the story of my heart, the second novel I ever wrote, and as such needed extensive work and it took much faith from my second publisher who overrode her pub board to take it after the first publisher pretty much ruined the experience for me. The story is about a reluctant faith healer who is running away from her home and gifts. She cannot run far enough, of course, and ends up exactly where God wants her—doing the impossible. Even if it costs her life.

SJT: What inspired you to write about a healer?

LL: I was inspired to write about a healer partly due to my fascination with all things medical, partly as an exploration of the biblical gifts of the spirit, as in, what would they look like today? Even the medical community will often use the word “miracle” in describing breakthroughs and cures. At the time I wrote the story, my brother had been suffering from a wholly puzzling and unique illness. While I was researching (out of curiosity and I’ll admit, some anger) his symptoms, I came across some intriguing medical issues which I was able to use for my male protagonist and his fate. My brother and his family live in Michigan and shared their experiences, many of which I was able to incorporate into the story, so it’s really a family book. And my brother has recovered and is doing well.

SJT: Where can readers buy HEALING GRACE?

LL: It can be bought direct from the publisher, from Barnes & Noble and from Amazon.

SJT: When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’?

LL: I’m a mix when it comes to SOP or Plotter – I say I’m a flexible plotter in that I usually start from a synopsis or outline, chapter goals and character and setting sheets, which are allowed to change and grow and adapt as the story moves along. I also don’t need to write in order, but tackle issues and scenes when they hit me.

SJT: Cat person or dog person?

LL: Definitely cat.

SJT: Me, too. I have two of them. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

LL: I love to travel, read of course, watch movies and sci fi television, walk in the State Forest around our house and kayak on the many little lakes.

Thanks so much for having me here today.

Author Bio:

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. A multi-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and magazine editor. Visit

Connect with Lisa on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.


The Ten Commandments of Writing #4: Thou Shalt ‘Show’ Not ‘Tell’

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Show, don’t tell” is a common refrain in my writing group. This is generally another way of saying there is too much exposition in the manuscript. Consider the following two sentences:

1. He was angry.
2. He slammed the door behind him and went stomping down the corridor, swearing under his breath.

They both say the same thing, but the second example demonstrates the character is angry without saying so directly.

‘Showing’ not ‘telling’ is a way of adding interest to your writing. You could open your novel by spending the first page describing your main character in detail, including personality traits, but it’s far more interesting to spread this out throughout the novel, so that the reader can extract this information for themselves. If you want to tell the reader that your character is anxious and nervous, maybe have them gnawing on their fingernails in several scenes. If a character is a chain smoker, you don’t have to tell the reader that. If the character lights a cigarette (or even several in quick succession) in every scene they are in, the reader will pick up on that soon enough.

An example of an author I think does ‘show, not tell’ well is Lisa Brackmann, who writes a series of crime novels featuring Ellie McEnroe, a young former soldier who was injured in Afghanistan. Though more or less physically recovered, Ellie is constantly drinking beer and swallowing pain killers with it, and these actions demonstrate aspects of her character quite clearly without us ever being told directly.

I think ‘showing, not telling’ is something that new writers often struggle with. It’s something that a writer gets better at the more they practise it. If you want to tell your readers that a character is untrustworthy, how would you do it? This would probably be a series of actions in which they repeatedly demonstrate that they go against their word, or betray other characters. This would be more engaging for the reader than another character declaring, early on the story, “I don’t trust Tom”.

Here ends the lesson on the fourth commandment of writing. Join me next week when we will touch on the importance of heeding the rules of grammar.

The Ten Commandments of Writing #3: Thou Shalt Not End With “It Was All A Dream…”

(Cross-posted on the Write Club blog) How many of you remember getting assignments to write stories in school? My heart always leapt with joy when that happened. Generally some people were always asked to read their stories aloud to the class. And there was always that one person who’d written some fantastic and implausible adventure, only to finish with, “and then I woke up and realised it was all a dream.”

This is another of those tropes that was probably once perfectly acceptable, but it has been done so often that it has become too predictable. A similarly over-used trope is that one where the characters are actually dead and don’t realise it until the end of the story. In spite of these two tired old tropes being over-used, there are nevertheless recent examples of both of them being used in TV shows (*cough* ‘Lost’ *cough*).

An author might decide to end their story this way to provide a twist to the tale. The problem is that it’s been used so often that this revelation no longer comes as a surprise. To me, it rather smacks of the author writing themselves into a corner and not being able to think of another way of getting out of it.

Plot twists and turns make a thrilling read, but avoid getting into a situation where you get your character into such a sticky situation you can’t work out how to extricate them from it.

For fear of sounding like a broken record, this is why plotting is important. I have read more than one novel where strange things happen to the character, and I turned the pages eagerly, wanting to know why these things are happening, only to come across the “it was all a dream” ending. I interpret this to mean the author couldn’t be bothered to think of a more original ending. I accept that much of this is personal opinion, but I have heard similar view expressed by agents, and ending in such a way puts a lot of agents and editors off any further negotiations with the author.

So here we have the Second Commandment of Writing: thou shalt come up with a better ending than “it was all a dream”.

Join me next week, when I shall be exploring the difference between “showing” and “telling”.

Monday’s Friend: Marsha R West

Today I am pleased to welcome Marsha R West back to the blog, with some useful tips on how to write a series.

Writing a Series! Agghh!
By Marsha R West

Marsha West (2)Thanks for having me Sara. I’m excited to tell you about my third book, SECOND ACT, which is the first in The Second Chances Series. My first two books were stand-alones, so series writing has been a new experience for me. SECOND ACT is the 6th book I’ve written, and with each book I’ve learned a few more things to help in the writing process. So far, in my experience, this is a continuously evolving process. Maybe not for others, but for me it is.

In The Second Chances series, we meet four women, now in middle age, who’ve been friends since they met when they were kids at summer camp. Whether they realize it or not, they all need a second chance.

The hero in SECOND ACT was a supporting character in VERMONT ESCAPE, my first published book, the fourth I wrote. I thought I had everyone figured out, and the story was flying along. All of a sudden, Mike Riley kept stepping out in front more and more. Mike and I had a serious talk. I told him if he’d back off, I’d give him his own book. I already had a hero in VERMONT ESCAPE, and it wasn’t he. Fortunately, he agreed. SECOND ACT is his book.

By the time I wrote Mike’s story, I’d frankly forgotten stuff about him. I’d written another book, TRUTH BE TOLD, that was published in the interim. Because VERMONT ESCAPE was already out there, I had to make sure not to contradict anything I’d written about Mike in VE when I wrote SECOND ACT.

All of this is to say, you have to keep your characters straight when you write a series. Mike couldn’t show up as a blond if he’d had brown hair in VE. If I said what color his eyes were, they couldn’t change. Readers catch that kind of thing.

So I had some idea of what I was getting into when I started this series because of my relationship with Mike. But now, there are four women. Part way into writing SECOND ACT (which I just called Book 6 for the longest time), I realized I was in trouble if in my own mind’s eye, I couldn’t tell which woman was which.

Internet searching is my friend. I found an actress to suggest each woman. Julia Ormand with long flowing black hair for Addison, an executive director of a theatre in SECOND ACT. Elizabeth Shue in CSI Las Vegas suggests Kate in the second book, ACT OF TRUST, who lost her husband on 9/11. She inherits land in Maine.

Red headed Marcia Cross suggests Devon, who has her own small make-up company in Dallas in ACT OF BETRAYAL. Mariska Hargitay suggeste Kim, a wealthy socialite who lives in Wichita Falls, TX in the final book, ACT OF SURVIVAL.

The photos are numbered to help me keep up with whose story I’m working on. I have a chart with what they each like to drink.

The second book is finished. (Well, it needs rewrites and editing, but the basic story is down.) But before I do more with it, I’ve got to get the bones of the third book written. I don’t want to have something in the second book that I can’t make work for the third book. I’d just be flat up the creek without that proverbial paddle.

I do charts for each of my main characters looking at their description, characteristics, fear, strengths, likes, dislikes, etc. I have a chart for the internal and external conflict for each character. It’s really from that, the action flows. It’s just that with a series. All of that becomes so much more important.

The most concrete example of all of this is the wine I mentioned earlier. I personally enjoy Merlot. Most of my friends drink something else. I think that’s pretty common. I was halfway through the second book in the series when I realized everyone was drinking Merlot. The idea of all four women drinking Merlot, just seemed odd to me. I had to figure out which drink went with each woman and then stick to it.

Do you enjoy series? I know I do. One of my favorite authors is Carla Neggars. She had a huge series set in New Hampshire and Tennessee. I was amazed at her ability to intertwine several families. As with hers, in my books, while we meet characters that we’ve met in earlier books, a different person is the lead in each book. So you don’t have to read the books in order, but if you’re like me, you really like to do that.

Let me know some of your favorite series or tell me why you don’t like series. Love to hear from you.


Second Act 200x300 (2)When a member of the board of a non-profit arts agency in Fort Worth turns up dead, the homicide detective assigned to the case looks at everyone involved in the organization, including the Executive Director.

Addison Jones Greer, divorced mother of two teens, is the Executive Director of Cowtown Theatre. When a board member is found in the costume room murdered, suspicion rests on everyone involved with the theatre, including Addie. She has angered some board members because she wants to fire the Artistic Director. Although she’s warmed him several times, he continues to go over budget for productions.

Mike Riley, Fort Worth homicide detective, hates that he caught this case. His sister-in-law dragged him to a theatre fundraiser where he met Addison, the first woman he’s wanted to pursue a relationship with in a long time. Not about to happen now.

Addison hasn’t ventured into romance since she caught her now ex-husband in their bed with his secretary. As a result she doesn’t do trust. How could she trust someone who seems determined to think she’s capable of murder? Or worse, thinks her kids might be involved.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, and iBooks.


Marsha R. West, writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. MuseItUp Publishing released her first book, VERMONT ESCAPE in July 2013 and TRUTH BE TOLD, in May 2014. Marsha formed MRW Press LLC to provide a print version of her books. VERMONT ESCAPE is available at Amazon in pint or from her in person. SECOND ACT, The Second Chances Series, Book 1, follows up with a secondary character from VERMONT ESCAPE and begins a four-part series. Find out more at She’d love to hear from you.

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