Monday, September 27, 2021

It's a Book Festival

 It’s been a long time since I’ve been to an in-person book event, but I’m excited to announce that I’ll be at one on Saturday, October 2 in Hoboken, NJ!


Like I’ve said many, many times, writing is a solitary event. We all sit in front of our computers and talk with our made-up characters, live in our made-up worlds, and become invested in our made-up problems. While it’s comfy in there, the real world is what allows us to function as human beings, and sell our books. 


It also allows us to fill our creative wells. Whether it’s visiting a museum, or garden, or having a meal with friends, we need human interaction and creative inspiration in order to continue to write our stories.


And once those stories are written? Well, it helps if we can sell them. Sure, I sell my books online, and there are always sales—I can track them daily (a fact which can sometimes be quite puzzling—what is it with not buying any books on Tuesdays???). But there’s nothing like talking to readers, finding out what interests them, and matching them up with a book they’ll like, even if it isn’t one of mine. I know a ton of authors, and I’m always happy to send readers to them if I think they’ll enjoy their books.


Thanks to the pandemic, there hasn’t been a lot of human interaction, but thanks to the Hoboken Library, that’s going to change this weekend for me. I’ll be at their book festival with a ton of other authors in a variety of genres. And I’ll be with three other author friends who write great books—Miriam Allenson, Carol Van de Hende, and Victoria Jayne. So stop by, walk around, enjoy the fresh air, and make sure to say hello to me! 


If you mention this blog, I’ll give you a special discount!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Welcome, Misty Simon

 One of the most fascinating parts of being a mystery author (or a murder worder as a friend called me the other day and I loved it enough to adopt it as my own!) is the question What If? 

As I look around at different places, different people, different scenarios, I often make up stories involving those places or people at the center. I change them as I see fit, giving them backstories that probably have nothing to do with who they really are, incidents that have probably never happened, challenges that they might never face.

Like the guy who walks around the block seven times a day but never stops anywhere. Does he do it exactly seven times every day? Is there a significance to seven? Or is he clocking himself or his steps? Does he have OCD and can’t stop until he walks seven laps? If he fell would he have a hissy fit if someone tried to make him go to the hospital without finishing that last lap? And then my favorite question to follow up on What If is Why… 

The absolute joy of being able to play with the concept of what if is one of the things that keeps me coming back over and over again to tell more stories involving people and places that catch my interest. But he Why is the big juicy cheery in my Shirley Temple. Why do they do these things? What happened in his or her past that keeps them in this pattern?

I keep these places and people in a file. I probably should have it on the computer but raise your hand if you like stationery! A well placed stickie is one of my favorite things and I adore that they have so many colors now.

But I digress… Back to What If?

Take the setting for my upcoming book Par for the Hearse. The amusement park where the book is set is real. It sits back behind what is now a flea market, a speedway, and a train museum. It’s stood for years on the edge of this property. Many years ago our family rented it to host our enormous family reunions. It’s closed now but I wanted to bring it back to life for this story. And the what ifs abounded.

Who would have access? What if that person decided that someone knew too much? Or what if the person had died because someone finally had enough of their attitude and things went downhill from there? I love the way stories come together and almost seem to write themselves once I give myself up to the What If. People come in and out of the story. Some stay and others end up getting cut, but without the What If there would be no story to start with. 

I love writing with my hometown as a backdrop too (though I don’t ever call it that because I don’t want to get in trouble for killing everyone in town!). There are so many possibilities. That shop that seems to have a new store every time I drive down Main Street. The woman who sits in her windowsill and flicks the curtain back and forth every time a car or person goes by.

What is she waiting for? Is she worried that someone is coming after her? Is she just that nosy and thinks that everyone in town needs to pass her inspection? But what if she saw something she wasn’t supposed to see and is the on the bad guy’s radar because she’s the only eyewitness? Would she call the cops? Or is she hiding something so she can’t call the cops because that would mean she’d get caught too?

Why does she sit there? Is she wishing that she was anywhere else? Is she waiting for a relative to come home that never made it? Is she unable to move beyond the window because she’s afraid she’ll miss something like she did when she was a child?

The possibilities are endless. And What If and Why lead you to notice so many details along the path that we all walk. I leave my phone in my backpack when I’m walking. I let my gaze dart all over the place and try to take in every detail I possibly can. The one blue wall in a sea of gray, the graffiti on the side of the train going through town. The way someone deliberately planted red and blue tulips in a row, alternating colors. Was it that important? Why?

Now I’m fully aware that most people just do things because they want to. Maybe she likes the colors next to each other. Maybe the guy walks seven times because that’s a mile and that will help him stay healthy. Maybe the woman looks out the window because she’s waiting for the delivery man to give her a package she’s been waiting for and she doesn’t want her dogs to bark at him.

But when you’re a murder worder you have to make things connect. If you have a woman who flicks a curtain then that package ought to be super important or she’s there to see something that later she’ll tell the sleuth about. If the man walks around the block then he has to have a reason or he’s not useful to your story. But the What If leads you down avenues you might never have explored. And the Why makes you think of reasons to explore more.

As a murder worder that’s one of my favorite things to share with readers. Let’s go explore – emotions, situations, people, feelings, locations. All ending ina big old dollop of justice. Par for the Hearse has a ton of what ifs in it and I enjoyed playing with every single one. I hope you’ll join me in the fun!


Catch up on the Tallie Graver Mysteries until Par for the Hearse releases in December 2021!


Bio: Misty Simon always wanted to be a storyteller…preferably behind a Muppet. Animal was number one, followed closely by Sherlock Hemlock… Since that dream didn’t come true, she began writing stories to share her world with readers, one laugh at a time. She knows how to hula, was classically trained to sing opera, co-wrote her high school Alma Mater, and can’t touch raw wood. Never hand her a Dixie cup with that wooden spoon/paddle thing. It’s not pretty.

Touching people’s hearts and funny bones are two of her favorite things, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at

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Monday, September 20, 2021

Food Is Love

I love to cook and bake. The best therapy for me is to pull out my baking ingredients and make cakes and cookies and other treats. However, if I did that as often as I need to, my entire family would weigh 500 pounds each. We are a big sweets-loving family.

I also love experimenting with ingredients and seeing what meals I can invent. I used to do this all the time back when I was single. Once I met my husband, though, I had to severely limit my experimentation because of his pickiness when it comes to food. While he’s significantly improved in that area, he still likes what he likes, and other than for health reasons, really doesn’t want to try new things. 


My kids were also picky, so although I’ve never been prevented from experimenting for myself, when it came time to cook for everyone, tried and true recipes won the day. Besides, I’m not a short order cook, and the thought of making different meals for different people did not appeal to me. Not to mention, it would have made it very difficult to teach my kids to eat what was presented to them.


So, much of my love for cooking has fallen by the wayside. I still did it, still tried making new foods occasionally, but only using ingredients I knew were on the “approved list.” We were limited, but it was better than nothing.


Fast forward to today, when both girls are away at college and law school, living in apartments. With kitchens. That they have to use. I was all excited, thinking about the shopping we’d do together to outfit their kitchens, the recipes I’d pass along for them to make their favorite foods. But with covid and limited time and their strong wills, my idea of what would happen differed significantly from reality. Again. So I let them take the lead, stayed in my lane, and reminded myself that it was okay.


And then the FaceTime calls started.


“Mom, how do I cook this?”

“Mom, can you send me the recipe for the chicken you make that I like?”

“Mom, how do I store this?”

“Mom, we need more pans, can you help me pick out the right size?”

“Mom, can you watch me do this to make sure I’m doing it right?”


Suddenly, everything was worth it and all is right in my world.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Welcome Back, Darlene Fredette

 Inspiration For a Title…


Titles are my worst nightmare. They are probably the biggest struggle I have when writing a story. I start writing and hope at some point the inspiration for a title will come. But with most of my books, the title is lost until I write the last chapter. However, I did not have a nightmare with Cherry Red. The title came before the story! 


We are huge Rolling Stones fans in this house (saw them three times!), and one of my favourite songs is ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. There’s a line Mick Jagger sings… ‘we decided that we would have a soda, my favorite flavor, cherry red’. I love that lyric and I knew it would make a great book title. And there is no copyright infringement because I am using a flavor, not the song.

My publisher introduced their One Scoop or Two themed stories, which had to have an ice cream flavor in the title. I thought cherry red is a great flavor! The storyline for Cherry Red soon followed.


As Stones fans, we were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Charlie Watts (the best drummer ever!) I dedicated this book to my husband, but I would like to add Charlie as well.

(The photo is just some of the Rolling Stones souvenirs we have in our china cabinet.)


Author Bio:

Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short, and the winters are too long. She writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador.


Blurb for Cherry Red:

This summer, ice cream entrepreneur Carly Redd's only focus is expanding her business—until she's coerced into attending her ex's engagement party. Showing up without a date is unthinkable. She reluctantly agrees to be escorted by her brother’s co-worker, although doing so breaks her rule of not dating firefighters.


The daughter of the town’s fire chief should wear a Do Not Touch sign, but firefighter Noah Harding's interest blazed the moment he saw Carly. Agreeing to be her fake boyfriend is a no-brainer, but convincing Carly to trust him with her heart is harder than extinguishing a fire.


Overstepping the platonic-only rule is as dangerous as fire and ice swirling into a tempting combustion.


Excerpt for Cherry Red:

“This might seem like a strange question, especially since we’ve just met, but would you be interested in going out for a coffee? Or an ice cream?” Noah rested an arm on the bar.

Carly glanced down at her jeans and black T-shirt embroidered with the company name and logo…a cluster of red cherries. In a room full of women all dolled up in fancy—and some a bit scanty—dresses, why would this incredibly handsome man ask her on a date? “I appreciate the offer, but I’m not interested…”

Noah raised a brow. “I know you like ice cream, so is it the coffee, or me?”

“What? No. I mean, yes.” She took a second to collect her scrambled thoughts. “I like coffee. I just don’t hang out with firefighters.” Not that he was a real firefighter. Did impersonators count in her rules of men to avoid? She never dated a stripper, but she wasn’t sure she could have a relationship with a guy who was paid to take off his clothes and have other women fawn over him. Not that the guy asked her on a date…just a simple coffee. His frown made her feel badly. “I’m sorry. It’s nothing personal.”

“Burnt in the past? No pun intended.” He smiled.

She couldn’t help but smile back. “Something like that.”


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Monday, August 30, 2021

Back to an Empty Nest

Well, after way too many moves, entirely too much packing and shopping and packing and shopping, ridiculously long drives, and endless stress, we are back to being an empty nest.

The Princess is settling into law school, where she’s learning that a life of “Why?”, “It’s not fair,” and only responding to logic has paid off. She’s exactly where she belongs and is loving it—after a few early bumps during orientation week. 


Banana Girl starts class today. In person. Almost like normal. She’s planning to study abroad (I’m still not sure that will happen, but I’m staying quiet). She’s learning how to grocery shop and cook, and redoing all her time management to allow for walking to class and eating.


And the husband and I are rediscovering what a completely empty house is like. We’ve had periods of this before, and I’m not holding my breath that it will last for a long time, but right now, it looks like maybe we will be alone until Thanksgiving. Maybe.


My house is clean. I’ve scrubbed and dusted and vacuumed. And, since there is no one to blame but the two of us, my husband is making less of a mess than normal. J


The girls’ rooms are…basically clean. Since the Princess really doesn’t live here any more—by her own admission—I informed her that when she left for law school, her room needed to be clean to my standards or I was taking a trash bag to the rest of it. My threat worked. Her room is empty of garbage and things she doesn’t want anymore. We donated a ton of clothes to a breast cancer organization, threw out several bags of garbage, and even managed to find someone who wanted a swim team backpack (I’m still trying to get rid of the flippers).


Banana Girl’s room isn’t too bad, either. She’s convinced she’s living here forever (she’s not), so she didn’t want to dispose of too much, but the room is clean and things are put away. I still don’t know why there are clothes in her hamper, since she did laundry, but that’s a “her problem.”


The three rooms of supplies needed for law school are gone. My house probably lifted a good three inches without the extra weight. 


And now we’re left to figure out what to do. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem, since my husband, the Pack Rat, is still here. J

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Welcome Back, Charlotte O'Shay

 I’m so happy to be here to show off the cover of my upcoming friends to lovers, romantic suspense, MY ONLY ONE and tell you all about my pre-release giveaway. Thank You!

Every writer is proud when her book baby comes into the world and never more so than when it’s an indie release. MY ONLY ONE is the first book in a projected seven book Fortunato Family series and my very first indie. The romances in this series tread very familiar ground for me as they all take place in and around New York City and involve a large working class family of seven siblings. 

Why indie? It’s natural for an author to want creative control over all aspects of her work from copy, to fonts to covers but indie authors are also responsible for every back-end, non-creative task in publishing. It’s a challenge and a huge learning curve for me but one I was ready to tackle. I’ve learned so much from generous fellow authors and indie author groups and the bottom line is I hope I’ve created a story romance readers will remember.


A little about MY ONLY ONE:


We grew up in side-by-side New York City tenements. Shane was my first friend, my first crush, and when he enlisted, my unforgettable heartbreak. Fate brings us back together after ten years, and I’m in a world of danger. But I’m not a kid anymore and I know what I want. Shane and I  have a second chance at forever and there’s no way I’ll lose him again. 
Brilliant, beautiful, bound for success, Esme was the girl next door and a temptation I had to resist. I was too old for her, but I couldn’t forget her. When we meet again after ten long years, she’s caught in the crosshairs of a deadly drug kingpin. But I wear a badge now. Nothing will stop me from protecting the woman who claimed me—heart and soul—so long ago. I’ll keep Esme safe or die trying. 
Time’s running out for Esme to pay her father’s debt to the cartel.


Pre-order MY ONLY ONE here:




In the run up to this release, I’m doing a giveaway with the help of N. N. Light’s Bookheaven. 

Click below for a chance to win a $50. Amazon or Apple gift card. 

           Giveaway –


Enter to win a $50 Amazon US or Apple gift card:


Open to US residents only. You must have an active Amazon US or Apple account. 

Runs August 23 – September 7, 2021.

Winner will be drawn on September 8, 2021.


Author Bio

The only thing Charlotte O'Shay loves more than reading steamy, emotional romances is writing them. Charlotte believes home is where the heart is and hers is in NYC. She lives with Mac, her IRL hero, two subway stops from her childhood neighborhood, where walks along the Hudson River serve up fresh story ideas every day. 

You can find out about new releases, sales and all things romance by signing up for Charlotte’s newsletter



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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Welcome Back, Jeny Heckman!

 Sunflowers in the design of Dee’s Cornucopia

Greek Mythology is such a giving source of inspiration for many aspects of our modern life. The never-ending soap opera-like saga of Greek gods and Greek Goddesses was the inspiration of my fantasy paranormal Heaven & Earth Series. Dee’s Cornucopia is a novella telling the story of Dee Taylor, the beloved grandmother who started the Quest in our modern lives when she communed with Demeter the Greek Goddess of Harvest and Agriculture. 

Dee is a grower! She can grow anything! She has a nursery in Hawaii called Dee’s Cornucopia and also happens to be a descendant of Demeter!

The sunflowers are the story of unconditional love! Dee lost everybody she loved the most. She lost her father at a very young age. She lost her beloved husband soon after they married. She lost her beloved mother and later her only child! She loved them unconditionally! Out of all this tragedy comes a story of love for Dee’s grandson Finn Taylor, the protagonist of the Sea Archer, book 1 of the Heaven & Earth Series.

The Cornucopia is one of the only constants in Dee’s life. It is her passion! She loves to grow flowers, plants, and fruits. She loves to grow sunflowers!

The Story of the Sunflower in Greek Mythology

Apollo was the son of Zeus, the god of all the gods, the sky, everything else below, including mankind. Apollo was the son of Zeus and the God of the Sun. He lived in a palace in the East. He would ride his chariot of Gold and Ivory every day in the skies from East to West. As the evening would set, Apollo would end his journey at the far sea on the western end and would return home on his Golden boat.

Everybody admired and loved Apollo. He was believed to love everybody in return. He spread love and life to every being. He was known for his youthful and manly beauty. He had Golden hair and was the most handsome person that anyone had come across.

He caught the eye of a water nymph called Clytie. She fell madly in love with Apollo. She used to follow his movements across the sky with unblinking eyes. Unfortunately, Apollo never returned her love, and he would ignore Clytie. 

Apollo’s love interest in return was Daphne, the beautiful daughter of a water God. Unfortunately for Apollo, Daphne did not return his love. I told you Greek Mythology was a never-ending soap opera of tragedies!

When Apollo tried to forcefully convince Daphne to love him, she asked her father’s help. Her father turned her into a plant. When Apollo learned about this, he was heartbroken. His sorrow knew no bounds.

The water nymph Clytie continued to watch Apollo’s passage through the sky. She would starve herself sitting on a rock for nine days without any food and water and just watch Apollo as he passed in the sky. Eventually, she was turned into a flower, which came to be known as the Sunflower.

It is believed that since then, the Sunflower keeps looking at the sun and following it’s movement from the moment the sun rises till it sets.

The History of Sunflowers

The sunflowers’ effect is quite unique. The bright and vibrant flowers seem to always perk up our moods. They cheer us up every time we look at them. It may be something about their shape, size, and color. Their overall appearance never fails to evoke positivity.

While sunflowers’ origin is cited in Greek mythology, they are not necessarily native to ancient Greece. Sunflowers were considered indigenous to the Americas. In 1,000 BC, the indigenous population of the Americans cultivated these sunflowers as a source of valuable food. For centuries, they had been using the sunflowers as a source of food and for medicine, dye agent, and oil. 

When European discovered America, the sunflowers became a popular commodity. They took the sunflowers back with them and they started to spread the flowers across continents. And so, the world’s introduction and adoration to sunflowers’ beauty and sustenance began.

Sunflower Meanings and Symbolism

People love sunflowers for many good reasons. They resemble the sun and have many meanings.

I presented the story of Clytie and Apollo. Like Clytie, the way sunflowers stretch to follow the sun is often associated with steadfast loyalty, everlasting faith, and adoration.

Sunflowers also represent happiness and radiance. Who doesn’t improve their mood when they look at a sunflower? 

The sunflower bright yellow, orange, and red colors symbolize the sun. But there are also many other species of sunflowers of different colors. Some are red or dark red, some are lighter yellow, strawberry blonde (my favorite hair color), gold, pink, and even chocolate brown. That’s why, a sunflower bouquet can be created for many joyous celebrations including weddings, engagement parties, baby showers, etc.

In some countries like China, the sunflowers have a specific meaning like long life, good fortune, and vitality. This can be attributed to the flower’s ability to endure life. They can stay hardy for weeks even when they are already cut for vases and used in bouquets.

Another example is found from centuries ago in the Inca civilization. The Incas believed that sunflowers were the representation of the Sun God. According to many literature excerpts, the Incas worshiped these flowers in their temples their priestesses decorated their clothes and crowns with sunflowers.

Grab a packet of my favorite sunflower seeds that I am giving away at my book launch party here.

Jeny Heckman is an awardwinning fantasy paranormalromance author best known for her Heaven & Earthseries, an award- winning fantasyparanormal series. Herdebut novel, The Sea Archer, published in October 2018,won "Best in Category," at the Chanticleer InternationalBook Awards. Her second book of the Heaven &EarthSeries, The Warrior's
Progeny won First Place Best in Category at the 2020 OZMA Book Award and is a finalist in the 2021 RONE Awards Paranormal Long Category.

The Warrior’s Progeny also won Best in Category from the Chanticleer International BookAwards for the Fantasy Romance genre, as well as earned the Crown Heart of Excellence fromInDTale Magazine.


Her standalone Womens Fiction novel, entitled Releasing the Catch, was a finalist in theFeathered Quill awards, likewise received in 2020.


Jeny loves working with her charities, which include Hospice of the Northwest, the Michael J. FoxParkinsons Foundation, the Seattle Childrens Hospital, and the American Cancer Society. Jenylives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over twenty- eight years.



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Dee Walker can kick your ass. At least she thinks so and isn't afraid to say it.


A no-nonsense spark plug, Dee keeps everyone around her hopping. When she meets fellow field hand, Arthur Taylor, her colorful world becomes even brighter when she makes him an offer he can't turn down.


However, this story of a bright explosion of color in a monochromatic world isn't what you might imagine, as Dee's life doesn't exactly turn out like she thinks it will.


This novella is the life story of Dee Taylor, the feisty and eccentric grandmother of Finn in the Heaven & Earth series. Her bright colorful muumuus and big floppy hat are her trademarks, and this story will tell you how it all began. She also has this little ability to see future developments. Oh, and commune with the greatest Greek family in history, but she just doesn't know it... yet.



“My God, it’s hotter than a billy goat’s ass in a pepper patch out there,” Dee announced as she entered the office furnished with the rich fragrance of leather, old wood, coffee, and tobacco smoke.

Her boss, Bert Norton, sat hunched at his desk, puffing on his ancient pipe. His gaze snapped to hers, and he gave the merest hint of a smile before frowning at her crass expression. The two fellows, also occupying the room, stood a little straighter at her appearance, but gave each other surreptitious glares. They wore identical uniforms of scarred leather boots, dusty work trousers and damp cotton shirts, right down to the sweat-stained field-hand hats squeezed together in their enormous fists.

“Ah, sorry?” Dee phrased it almost like a question and raised her eyebrows at all the testosterone in the small space.

“Deidre, please, take a seat.” Bert gestured to one of the broad wing-back chairs occupying the area in front of his desk.

The two imposing men shifted their weight from foot to foot in apparent agitation. If I sit in that chair, I’ll look weak. Possessing a vagina created enough of a disadvantage chasm already.

“Thanks, Mr. Norton, I’ll stand. No sense in giving anyone the upper hand, right?” she quipped and slapped her hands on her hips, shifting her own weight from side to side. The corner of her boss’s lips twitched, but he sighed, and they both looked over at the two workers.

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