Monday, July 26, 2021

I'm A Finalist!

I received some good news this weekend. My book, Whispers in Washington, is a finalist in the Published Maggie Award for Excellence. The Maggies are sponsored by the Georgia Romance Writers. The awards recognize the achievements of published authors of romantic fiction (there are also awards for unpublished authors). Books are ranked by librarians, booksellers, and other industry professionals. Winners receive a silver medallion and national recognition, and are announced at a conference in October.

Needless to say, I was excited. They even called me on the phone to let me know about my status.


I enter my books in lots of contests. Although I try to avoid the “popularity” ones—where you have to ask for votes from people you know—I enter those occasionally, too. There are many reasons why I enter contests. The popularity ones get me attention from my reader friends. The winners often receive free advertising, which is useful when I’m trying to promote my books.


The non-popularity ones, like the Maggie, help to get my books in front of industry professionals. If nothing else, I get editorial feedback that I can use to improve my craft. And if I somehow win, well, national recognition in the industry is nothing to sneeze at. 


Usually, I lose out to writer friends. Although it stings, I love seeing my friends win. And this community of romance writers is supportive, so we all love to cheer for each other.


This time around, with the Maggie, I’m up against one of my critique partners. She actually finaled with two books, so my chances of winning are even less. The funny thing is, this book was not seen by my critique partners. Due to the speed with which we critique each other’s works, and my deadlines, I was unable to submit my manuscript to them first. But I wrote and edited with all three of them on my shoulders, reminding me of the things they usually pick up in my work.


It must have worked. 


Regardless of the outcome, I’m buoyed by the fact that I’m a finalist. It’s a big achievement, and it gives me that little extra psychological nudge that I needed.


So, until October!

Monday, July 19, 2021


 This weekend, my husband and I ventured back into the “normal” world, but driving into New York City for The Friends Experience

Living only 45 minutes away, driving or taking the train in for the day was something we would do almost without thinking before the pandemic. But since then, we haven’t. Even now that things are better, we’ve stuck close to home, doing lots of outdoor activities—like hiking, hiking, and more hiking. 


But I happened to mention that I miss the city, and he went online and found this event and asked if I was interested. Of course, I agreed. After much discussion, we decided to drive, preferring our own car to public transportation for the moment. You know, baby steps. 


We had a great time, and I have to say, it was the perfect way to dip our toes back in the waters of normalcy. My husband and I are of the age that when Friends was on regularly, we could easily relate to the characters and their experiences. So seeing the sets and the clothes and the quotes was kind of like coming home to the familiar.


So too, was visiting NYC. There were fewer people, even though it was busy. Streets were narrower because restaurants had taken up space with outdoor seating areas. The Bus Only lanes were new. But the crazy cyclists were still there, as were the people who cross the streets around your cars. The dog walkers were there, too, and the tourists, although there were fewer of them. In other words, we were back, and the city was, too.


Nowhere was it clearer that everyone has adapted to Covid, however, than in the actual exhibit!


 Welcome to the new normal!


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Welcome, Linda Carroll-Bradd

The idea behind Sweet Inspiration came when some friends I’d known while living in San Antonio decided to create an anthology of stories set in their new home state, Arkansas. Multiple authors would write short stories featuring a different location within the state, and we hoped to sell the anthology to tourist places that had bookstores. Fired up about the idea, I flew to Little Rock, met with a couple friends, and we drove to the Ozark Folk Center in northern Arkansas. The folk center is set up with individual shops featuring silversmiths, quilters, weavers, blacksmiths, leather workers, candlemakers, etc. An area is also set aside for musical performances. The weekend we were there a folk music concert was held which included dulcimers. The town has a dulcimer making store.

My late mother-in-law was a weaver and my husband owns a dulcimer, both of which helped my familiarity with those aspects as I built my characters. All the pieces fell into place, and in our hotel room that night, we plotted our stories. Sadly, as often happens, the anthology fell apart, but I kept working on my story toward its eventual release.


Dependable Cadence Wills yearns for excitement. The owner of a yarn business, she is pulled in every direction by her demanding family. Haunting dulcimer notes draw her to a practice session where she spies an intriguing stranger. 

Musician Rafe Frasco is a rover, bouncing between musical competitions. Interest ignites at his first glance at a woman enthralled by his music, who he learns has a heart big enough to encompass everyone within her reach.

A fantastic opportunity for Rafe presents Cadence with a dilemma—is she strong enough to negotiate the business deal that will take him away…maybe forever?

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Unmarried and approaching thirty in a small town branded her as ready and willing to meet every unattached man who set foot inside the city limits. A sigh escaped. Like last week when Espe called Trent Sullivan over to their table at El Tres Amigos and then suddenly remembered an important errand, leaving them together. What Espe hadn’t known was Cadence and Trent already had been set up on blind dates—twice—by other well-meaning friends.

Nothing had clicked on those occasions either. Cadence craved someone with a mysterious past like in her beloved romantic suspense novels. A dark, shadowy figure who knew how to excite a woman with a molten look or a lingering touch. A man who fought to hide his pain and almost succeeded. Not someone like Trent—a guy whose high-school accomplishments she could probably recite.

Sweet plaintive notes of a stringed instrument floated on the breeze. Cadence stopped, straining to recognize the tune. A person didn’t grow up surrounded by folk music without knowing just about every ballad that could be plucked.

But this one eluded her. The twanging strings cried with a soulful sadness that grabbed her by the throat. Her thoughts were washed in loneliness, and she turned toward the sound, past the Heritage Herb Garden. A part of Cadence that couldn’t resist helping others had to see who was expressing such need.

She lifted the hem of her long skirt and hurried toward the haunting sound, as if the notes pulled her feet along the path. The compulsion to know who played added speed to her steps. Abreast of the groundhog pottery kiln, she slowed and peered toward the outdoor stage.

On the platform, several musicians were gathered—some unpacking instruments, others adjusting microphones. Off to one side, a dark-haired man sat in a straight-backed chair, one foot braced on a scratched case. He leaned forward and strummed a dulcimer, the light wood instrument cradled on denim-covered thighs.

Cadence stood a dozen feet away and studied the talented player. His too-long hair was tied back, his shoulders were broad inside his western-cut shirt, and his legs were long and lean. Scuffed boots, faded jeans and a worn Harley-Davidson tee-shirt composed his attire. Definitely more attractive than her own outfit. Even from this distance, she spotted a posture that meant the man had an attitude…or was mysterious. A thrill ran over her skin.

Who was this guy? He’d definitely swagger when he walked. Yummy. At the thought, she stepped closer, wanting nothing between her and the performance.

Long fingers picked the strings in a heated crescendo—note on teasing note, twang on shivery twang, strum on driving strum. He ended the song with a flourish, right hand arcing upward as the last note hung on the early morning air.

How did he know exactly how she felt on nights when everyone in Mountain View either had a date or was home curled next to a spouse? The isolation of being solo at the drive-in or enduring the knowing smile of a sympathetic waitress. His song wrapped all those feelings tight around her heart and squeezed. She inhaled, and the backs of her eyes stung.

Hadn’t she learned her lesson about musicians from the way Dale deserted her when his band got the chance to go on the road? Three years running, and he hadn’t yet steered the tour bus through his hometown.

The stranger laid a hand over the strings, rolled his shoulders, and lifted his head. Piercing brown eyes scanned the area, surveying the other musicians, and his gaze locked with hers. For a suspended moment, his gaze roved along her length, widened, and then returned to her face.

Under his scrutiny, she shifted her feet and tugged at the sides of her skirt. Her period costume didn’t exactly show off her figure to its best. Not that the fact should matter, but she couldn’t look away and chose to ignore the warning bells ringing in her head.



As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.

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Monday, July 5, 2021

Please Help

 If you’ve read my blogs, you know I rarely ask for help. Well, today, I’m asking.


The toughest part of being an author is getting discovered. Marketing is hard. What works for one book, doesn’t work for the next. What works for me, doesn’t work for someone else. Books I completely leave alone sell lots, books I market do nothing. And then everything changes. 


But the one thing that helps, no matter what else happens, is a book review. I’m not talking about a New York Times-style one, although I’d probably sell my kids if I could get one. I’m talking about reader reviews. And before you stop reading, let me explain.


Reviews are simple. “This was a memorable book.” “My favorite part was when character X did Y.” “It was okay, but I wasn’t thrilled with Z.” One sentence, but you’d be surprised by how much that one sentence helps an author. 


The more reviews on Amazon, the more Amazon helps the author—for FREE! Come on, we all want to help Jeff Bezos spend his money, right?


It doesn’t even have to be a sentence. It can be a star rating. Those count. 


The magic Amazon number appears to be 50. When a book hits 50 reviews, the algorithms kick in, and Amazon starts promoting my book for me, which would be a huge help.


So, this is what I’m asking of you. Have you read Addicted to Love? It is the first book in my Serendipity Series. I know a lot of people have read it based on my sales numbers. But there are only twelve reviews on Amazon. If you’ve read it, would you consider leaving a review? Here is the link you click:

Then click on the "12 ratings" next to the stars and on the left is a button "write a customer review."


It’s not nearly as scary as it seems, and if you leave a review, let me know and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Seriously. That’s how important reviews are. You can let me know in the comments on this blog and I’ll be announcing the winner on my Facebook author page on July 16.


I hope you’ll consider doing this. It would really help. Thank you!



Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Welcome, Susie Black

I have been telling stories from the time I learned to talk. Like my protagonist, I am a ladies’ swimwear sales executive in Los Angeles. I have kept a daily journal during the course of my career and it is the foundation of my writing. I draw all my plots from situations I have experienced and build on them. My characters are based on the myriad of quirky, interesting people I have encountered in the apparel industry. My character’s names are often a wordplay on a real name: For example in one of my stories, Mr. Newman became Mr. Oldham, Mr.Turpiine became Mr. Tyne My writing style is not a plotter or a pantser, rather a hybrid. I plot the beginning and the ending but let the characters take me from the middle to the conclusion. What’s the most fun? Since I write humorous cozy mysteries, I get to knock off people on paper who in real life I would not have minded eliminating and  yet I don’t go to prison…LOL.


BLURB: The last thing Ditzy Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real murderer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent on revenge. 

TAGLINE: Everyone wanted her dead…but who actually killed her?


Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries. She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect. 

Death by Sample Size Excerpt


When the elevator doors opened, I had to stop myself short not to step on her. There was Bunny Frank-the buying office big shot-lying diagonally across the car. Her legs were splayed out and her back was propped against the corner. Her sightless eyes were wide open and her arms reached out in a come to me baby pose. She was trussed up with shipping tape like a dressed Thanksgiving turkey ready for the oven with a bikini stuffed in her mouth. A Gotham Swimwear hangtag drooped off her lower lip like a toe tag gone lost. Naturally, I burst out laughing. 

Before you label me incredibly weird or stone-cold, let me say genetics aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re lucky you inherit your Aunt Bertha’s sexy long legs or your father’s ability to add a bazillion dollar order in his head and get the total correct to the last penny. Without even breaking into a sweat, it’s easy to spout at least a million fabulous traits inheritable by the luck of the draw. Did I get those sexy long legs or the ability to add more than two plus two without a calculator? Noooooooooo. Lucky me. I inherited my Nana’s fear of death we overcompensated for with the nervous habit of laughing. A hysterical reaction? Think Bozo the clown eulogizing your favorite aunt.

I craned my neck like a tortoise and checked around. Then I clamped a fist over my mouth. Cripes, how could I possibly explain my guffaws with Bunny lying there? Disappointment was simultaneously mixed with relief when there was no one else in the parking lot. Where was security when you needed them?

I toed the elevator door open and bent over Bunny. I’d seen enough CSI episodes to know not to touch her. She was stiff as a board and I attributed the bluish tinge of her skin to the bikini crammed down her throat. I was no doctor, but I didn’t need an MD after my name to make this diagnosis. Bunny Frank was dead as the proverbial doorknob. 

It was no surprise Bunny Frank had finally pushed someone beyond their limits. The only surprise was it had taken so long. The question wasn’t who wanted Bunny Frank dead. The question was who didn’t?


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Monday, June 28, 2021


With apologies to my doctor friends, doctors and I don’t get along. It’s not that I’m a difficult patient, because really, I’m not. I have fairly low expectations—you went to medical school, I didn’t, so I’m going to assume you’re the expert. But I expect respect, and apparently, that’s in short supply. Thanks to my dad’s genetics, my body tends to get odd reactions to things, things doctors don’t often see, and as a result, most doctors don’t believe me until they see it. So when I finally do find a doctor I can tolerate and who I have trained to believe me, I stick with them forever and follow their instructions to the letter—seriously, one doctor told me to do something, I did it, and he acted surprised when I came back and showed him the results. Like, really? Did you think I wouldn’t listen? What the heck am I paying you for if I’m not going to listen to you?

Anyway, I hate finding new doctors, but I’m currently in the process of finding two—one is retiring and one I have hated for so long that I have finally had enough.


So, I called the office of the doctor who is retiring and asked for my records. The woman on the phone said she couldn’t do that. 

I’m sorry, they’re my records. 

She said if she gave them to me, she’d have to give them to the other thousand patients of the doctor. 

Oh boy. This doctor has a thousand patients? Trust me, she’s not that good. So I told the woman I wasn’t asking for the thousand records, just my own. 

She offered to give me phone numbers for the different testing places. I said I’d really just like my records. 

She said the doctor’s notes were illegible. That’s not really my problem. 

So I asked again. 

She said she’d ask the doctor and get back to me after the weekend. I waited. 


In the meantime, I looked up my rights and found out that it’s a HIPAA violation to refuse to give them to me. Now, EVERYONE gets HIPAA wrong, so I was hesitant to use that knowledge, but I kept it in the back of my mind as I waited for the office to get back to me.  They didn’t.


I called again. This time, the woman said if she gave me the records, she’d have to do it for the other TWO thousand patients. I kindly refrained from expressing my shock that a retiring doctor took on an extra thousand patients over the weekend, but maybe some organization should take her on for membership duties. I mean, she’s going to have a lot more free time... 

I asked to speak to the doctor and I was told no. She continued to give me excuses, and I continued to ask to speak to the doctor. Finally, I repeated the information I’d learned about HIPAA and said I was sure the doctor didn’t mean to violate the law. There were more excuses given. Eventually she agreed to leave the doctor a message, although she didn’t think the doctor would return my call.

Neither did I.


I should say here that while I’ve never liked this doctor’s office staff, the doctor has been very nice and responsive to me in the past. However, she was clearly busy the day they taught how to hire office staff. 


Anyway, fifteen minutes later, the woman in the office called back and said unbeknownst to her, my records had already been copied and were waiting for me. 


Would I mind picking them up? Of course not! I have no idea what shape the records will be in, but at least I’m getting them. 


No idea what the other two thousand patients are going to do, but they have my sympathy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Welcome Back, Mary Morgan!

 Hello Jennifer! I’m delighted to be on your lovely blog today. Thank you for allowing me to share a wee bit about my upcoming new release, RORIK, The Wolves of Clan Sutherland, Book 2.



Rorik MacNeil’s charm swept me away when he stepped forth in the first book, MAGNAR, The Wolves of Clan Sutherland. He emerged as a tall, dark, and sinfully sexy alpha male. I swooned each time the man entered a scene. A character who was definitely a wolfish rake. And whenever Ragna entered the scene, the angst between them sizzled up the pages. Two characters whose feelings of hatred to each other were merely a façade for their true inner desires and wants.


So, how do I write this persona of a hero? With the Dark Seducer, I contemplated how to redeem Rorik. In truth, did he need redemption? Aye! His tortured soul demanded rescue, and I found myself peeling back the layers in a quest for the truth about the man.


Once again, I have woven King William The Lion of Scotland into this story. I’ve always been fascinated with this king, and he will continue to be a central part in the series. In my research, I became drawn to his attempts to gain back certain lands and castles in England after they were stripped away under the reign of Henry II. The negotiations for their return with Kings Richard I and John met with no success.


As a side note in history on Rorik’s surname, The Uí Néill Clan were the foremost political dynasty in Ireland between the 7th and 10th centuries. Their famous ancestor is Niall of the Nine Hostages, a legendary 4th century King of Ireland.





The Dark Seducer is known throughout Scotland as a man who charms many women into his bed. Pleasure is his motto as he obtains information for his king. Yet Rorik MacNeil harbors one secret buried beneath his heart of steel. An unfulfilled conquest plagues both man and his inner wolf, and Rorik would rather suffer death’s sharp blade than confront his greatest fear. 


As the Seer for the Orkneyjar Isles, Ragna Maddadsson confronts an unknown destiny when she travels across the North Sea to Scotland. In her quest to deliver a message from a powerful vision, she fears the warrior will not listen. If Rorik ignores her warning, Ragna must find a way to forestall his impending death. If unsuccessful, she risks having her heart cleaved in two.  


To unravel their true fates, Rorik and Ragna must trust in the power of the wolf. 





If he could, Rorik would remain on this boulder by the river for the duration of the evening and into night. His stomach growled in protest, and he realized he had little food this day. He reached for his aleskin and took a sip.


Even the thought of entertaining Hallgerd left a hollow ache within. “For all I ken you might have the face of a goat.”


Rorik sensed the intruder’s approach behind him before the first footstep sounded. He lifted his left hand and rested it on the hilt of his sword by his side.


“I happen to cherish the faces of my goats, though they are stubborn creatures.” 


The ale soured in his gut. “Seer.” He released his hand from his sword and continued to stare outward.


When silence greeted him, he dared to glance over his shoulder. Wariness from her all-knowing eyes reflected at Rorik, not the bitter coldness she often imparted to him. “Why have you come?” 


Ragna lifted her chin. “I have a message you must hear fully.” 


Shrugging, Rorik resumed his gaze outward. “Then speak your words.”


Again, the woman remained silent. Rorik pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration.


“Do you not deem it best to put on your tunic?” she suggested, stepping closer and brushing the garment against his arm.


Slowly, Rorik lifted his head to look at her. Even her words sounded different. They were almost a plea, not filled with terse venom. A rosy stain had blossomed on her ivory cheeks, and her breathing appeared labored. He pondered two things—either his naked form disgusted her or perchance appealed to her. Surely, she despises me, nothing more.


The barb he wanted to fling out at her became trapped on his tongue. He guzzled deeply from the aleskin. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he dropped the empty skin next to his sword and swiftly got off the boulder. 


Ragna gasped and clutched his tunic to her breasts. Yet she did not avert her eyes.


He dared to move toward her. 


Her eyes widened and she stumbled back, dropping his tunic. 


Rorik reached out and grabbed her hand, preventing her from falling. The contact of her skin against his sent a tremor of warmth up his arm. This time, his breathing became labored while he stared into her gray eyes. He found no hatred there—only beauty within their depths. His gaze traveled down to her full red lips, partially open and begging to be kissed.


Release date: 6.30.21

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About the Author: 

Award-winning Celtic paranormal and fantasy romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary's passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. It wasn't until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling by writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.


If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.


Connect with Mary at these places: 



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