featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Note: This site uses Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Thursday, April 29, 2021


Whether fiction or nonfiction, Justin Murphy explores many themes in his work, including probing into the darkness of pure evil and exploring obscure figures often forgotten in entertainment, such as Gene L. Coon, an ex-marine, pharmacist, journalist, and the unsung hero of the original Star Trek franchise. Learn more about Justin and his books at his Facebook Author Page. 

I wrote a full-length biography of forgotten Star Trek writer-producer Gene L. Coon, a man who has been obscured in the franchise’s history. While many extoll the virtues of Gene Roddenberry and his, “vision of the future’’, Coon is the man who created the nuts and bolts of the fictional universe we see today. 


To be fair, Gene Roddenberry and his associate producer John D.F. Black brought Star Trek’s initial concept to the screen. Yet many of the ideas didn’t take. Despite taking inspiration from Horatio Hornblower sea adventure tales, Westerns like Wagon Train, and the unaired pilot, “The Cage”, which resembled the classic sci-fi film Forbidden Planet, the first ten or so episodes were without much depth. Many of these featured supernatural beings of the week, mad scientists, and a space virus. However, one episode did introduce the Romulans.


Coon took over as writer-producer midway through Season 1. He first nixed a failing romance storyline between Captain James T. Kirk and Yeoman Janice Rand. He incorporated the more humanistic elements, such as giving villains a sense of dignity despite the terrible things they do. Displaying this in the Klingons in’’Errand of Mercy’’ and in Khan (co-created with Carey Wilber) in ’’Space Seed’’. He also reversed the role of the typical monster of the week by showing how humans harmed them and commented on the futility of war as in ’’A Taste of Armageddon’’. He expanded the concept of warp technology and created greater interaction between the three lead crew members with the level-headed Kirk settling arguments between the logical Mr. Spock and the emotion Dr. McCoy.


I’d heard of Coon over the years but noticed there wasn’t much written about him. My research involved combing newspaper archives such as The Los Angeles Times and The Beatrice Daily Sun, his hometown periodical. This is where I found details of his earlier life, including his stint singing on an Omaha, Nebraska radio station at the age of four. Along with his career as a pharmacist, trained during his Marine service in Korea, he also freelanced as a reporter, covering atomic bomb tests in Yucca Flats, Nevada.


Coon died on July 8, 1973, a year after Star Trek first became profitable in syndication and on the convention circuit. For many years, his name didn’t even get a mention until William Shatner’s memoir Star Trek Memoriescame out in 1993 in which he dedicated an entire chapter to Coon and his accomplishments on the series. Leonard Nimoy corroborated these claims is in his own 1995 tell-all I Am Spock, as did many behind the scenes personnel such as Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman in Star Trek: The Real Story.


Coon was an amazing man who had much to do with what Star Trek became. Yet his premature death from throat and lung cancer and Gene Roddenberry’s self-promotion as the sole creator of Star Trek did much to conceal Coon’s legacy from the public. Gene L. Coon has only a few living relatives, and none of them receive royalties.


I’ve received both positive and negative feedback on the book in the few years since its release. Would also like to thank actor Jack Nolan for narrating the audiobook. My hope is those read or listen to the book will be enriched by the legacy Gene L. Coon left behind. So much of it belongs to him, despite his lack of recognition. Roddenberry was far from the only, ’’Great Bird of The Galaxy’’. It’s the story of a man who left behind a great body of work yet doesn’t get a lot of his due credit.

Gene L. Coon: The Unsung Hero of Star Trek:

Gene Roddenberry has long been painted as the visionary who made Star Trek possible. Yet not much has been written on Gene L. Coon, the real workhorse behind the original series. This man built the universe around Roddenberry’s initial concept we all know today. He almost single handedly created the Klingons and had a hand in creating the franchise’s greatest villain…KHAN! Any notion of Starfleet Command, The United Federation of Planets, warp technology, and its fictional creator Zefram Cochrane all belong to him. Coon died from cancer at forty-nine, just as Star Trek got popular through reruns and conventions.

Buy Links



Tuesday, April 27, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with James Terra, from M. Lee Musgrave’s James Terra Mysteries.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?  

Pretty much as it is now. 


What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? 



What do you like least about yourself? 

Can’t play a musical instrument. 


What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?  

Become familiar with Silicon-Niobium Beach Nerds. 


Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?  

Occasionally, mostly about women and art. 


What is your greatest fear? 

Collapse of my twisted spinal-cerebral artery. 


What makes you happy? 

Children laughing. 


If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?  

Add more conversations with Spider Washington because he is a fascinating  character. 


Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?  

Dr. Brian Mazor because he has a mercurial temperament subject to sudden, unpredictable changes of mood or mind. 


Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places  with? Why? 

Jon Doh because he owns property on the hill above Leo Carrillo State Beach (CA). 


Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find his website/blog? 

You can find him at his website. Originally from Australia, Lee holds a Master of Art degree from CSU,  Los Angeles (where he lived for 40+ years). He is the recipient of a National Endowment for Arts  Fellowship. His artwork (the painting above is an example of his work) has been in exhibitions world-wide. As a Professor of Art and curator, he organized hundreds of exhibitions involving artists, collectors and a variety of related enthusiast. Those many experiences and his ongoing personal art activities inform his writing about LA’s  exciting art community. 


What's next for you? 

I’m now about 2/3 through my next mystery were I’ve met a captivating redhead and  bought a new sports car all with Nicole’s support.


Brushed Off

Artist James Terra and his married lover Nicole find themselves in a tangled web while searching for the killer of LA’s hottest artists. Homicide detective Cisco Rivas asks James for help with LA’s zany art community. The case quickly turns into a quagmire of intrigue and vicious jealousy amongst the dazzling talent and wealth of schizophrenic Los Angeles. 


James wants Nicole to leave her husband. When another artist is murdered, she joins the hunt for the killer. A leading art collector is attacked. Cisco is pressured by influential city movers and shakers. Young emerging socialite Camille is up to her neck in strife, so James and Nicole make a deal to protect her. Cisco discovers a smuggled exotic drug used by all the suspects including a stealthy porn star. James keeps everyone from knowing his health is precarious. The killer and a secret accomplice target James, Nicole and Camille.


Buy Links



Sunday, April 25, 2021


Beth McElla writes cozy mysteries under the towering evergreens of the Pacific Northwest. She loves that she can draw on her collection of half-started hobbies and former careers to create light-hearted stories. Learn more about her and her books at her website.  

Writing an ‘American’ British village cozy and the true history of Findlater Island

When I was in college and graduate school, I did a lot of work with period rooms at various large art museums. The first thing you learn is that these aren’t accurate at all! But dig a little deeper and there’s a fascinatingly consistent story of young wealthy American men in the 1920s and ‘30s and down on their luck British aristocracy faced with the unenviable choice between patching the roof and keeping the paneling in the second-floor back bedroom. In many cases, the roof won. (Side note: while this occasionally involved a few contemporary women, most seemed inclined to look to the future and not the past.)


Much of it comes down to World War I, which changed the fates of many far beyond the obvious. For America, it heralded an arrival on the world stage as a superpower, no longer the ‘former colonies’ and a newfound pride in what it meant to be American. But there was still the niggling problem of not much tangible history pre-dating the 18th century to give things that ancestral gravity. For the UK, heavy losses, often from two or even more generations in a family, meant overwhelming taxes in the form of death duties. Deals were struck. There were even a few catalogs…


So when I wanted to write a British village cozy mystery series in the vein of Agatha Raisin and Midsomer Murders (and not being British) I decided to ‘write what I know’. And thus was born Mr. Evans, a fictional peer of Hearst, duPont, and their friends who created his very own transplanted English village with some side forays into Germany, Italy, and whatever else I feel like on the equally fictitious Findlater Island located off the coast of Washington State. Like those period rooms, this collection for Mr. Evans was more like having a specimen tray of butterflies than it was about context or accuracy. But that makes for lots of writing fodder and puts the quirky right at the heart of the village where it belongs…


 The stories in the Findlater Island series are set present day against the backdrop of this historical experiment. Because once you’ve got a 17th-century stone cottage moved to a different continent, it’s really hard to send it back.


French Twist: An Amelia Feelgood Mystery

Findlater Island, Book 1


Amelia can’t wait to get away from her nasty boss and start a new life in France. When she arrives on remote Findlater Island for his wedding, a dead body kicks off a string of complications. Can she solve the murder before the police decide she’s the one with the strongest motive?  


Welcome to Findlater Island, a small island off the coast of Washington with a quaint (relocated) English village and heaps of interesting characters.


Buy Links



Thursday, April 22, 2021


Matty Dalrymple is the author of the Lizzy Ballard Thrillers, the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels, and the Ann Kinnear Suspense Shorts. Matty lives with her husband and three dogs in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and enjoys vacationing on Mount Desert Island, Maine, and Sedona, Arizona, locations that provide the settings for her work. Learn more about Matty and her books at her website. 

My craft was a 1946 Stinson 108: a lovely tailwheel airplane that I purchased when I was taking flying lessons. I had been introduced to general aviation by my husband, Wade Walton, and had progressed from a “pinch hitter” lesson, which trains a non-pilot passenger how to land a small aircraft in case the pilot is incapacitated, to lessons to pursue my own pilot’s license. 


It would take many more words than I have in this guest post to relate the full story of my (now concluded) airplane ownership and flying experience, but suffice it to say that when my first novel, Ann Kinnear Book 1: The Sense of Death, came out and I was promoting it while working on Book 2: The Sense of Reckoning—all this while working a full-time corporate job—something had to give, and my direct involvement in aviation had to be grounded.


I’m happy to say that my Stinson craft was never a killer (although it tried a few times). However, with my interest in aviation and my now-full-time career as an author of mystery, thriller, and suspense novels, it was inevitable that at some point a killer aircraft would make an appearance. That happened in Ann Kinnear Book 3: The Falcon and the Owl


The primary antagonist is Gwen Burridge, an aerobatic and air racing pilot whose husband (Hal), mechanic (Bryan), and a close friend are killed in crashes deemed by investigators to be accidents. However, there is one investigative path that only a few, including Ann Kinnear, have the ability to follow: speaking with the dead. 


Hal’s business partner hires Ann to go to the site of Hal’s plane crash in northern Pennsylvania to discover the location of a contract that Hal signed the day of his death. There’s no sign of Hal, but Ann contacts Bryan, and something about the story he tells her sounds not quite right. Ann begins to suspect that none of the plane crashes were accidental.


I had so much fun researching the aviation aspects of The Falcon and the Owl …


… consulting with Jonathan Martin, manager of New Garden Flying Field in Toughkenamon, Pennsylvania, about the ins and outs of running a small general aviation airport.


… brainstorming with former Airbus pilot and fellow Stinson owner Bill Lokes about what objects in a mechanic’s hangar could be used as a murder weapon (Bill proved to be alarmingly good at this exercise).


… recalling my own experience of recovering from unusual attitudes (only under the guidance of my flight instructor!) to inform my description of the crash that kills Hal and Bryan. 


… making my way through the gatekeepers at the NTSB to talk with an investigator who was only too happy to discuss how an investigation of a small plane crash in a remote wooded area would be conducted (an investigator who was also the lead in the horrifying crash near the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan of a Boeing 747 jet that stalled when its cargo of military vehicles shifted).


… connecting with aerobatic pilot Matt Chapman, whose performances I have enjoyed at the New Garden Airshow and who spent hours with me on the phone and (pre-pandemic) in his hangar describing the fine points of aerobatic performance.


… chatting with air racing pilot Vicky Benzing, who shared with me the differences between air racing and aerobatic performance—I loved her description so much, I used it pretty much verbatim in my book: “You pay money to race, you earn money when you perform. When you race, all your fellow pilots tell you where you screwed up. When you perform, all your fans tell you how great you are. It’s harder to find a women’s restroom on the racecourse than at an airshow.” 


(If you love aircraft and the people who fly them, you can spend an enjoyable hour Googling video of Matt and Vicky at the controls of their gorgeous craft.)


All of these people combined the two characteristics that every fiction author dreams of finding: deep subject matter expertise and enthusiasm about brainstorming how that expertise could be applied in a fictional work: in the case of The Falcon and the Owl, combining their knowledge of (air)craft with my knowledge of the writing craft. I hope you’ll check out The Falcon and the Owl and let me know how we did.


The Falcon and the Owl 

An Ann Kinnear Suspense Novel, Book 3


A small plane crashes in the Pennsylvania Wilds and only Ann Kinnear has the ability to discover the force that brought it down. Will the secret the victims carried die with them, or come back to haunt her?


Ann Kinnear is indulging her love of aviation by working toward her pilot’s license at Avondale Airport—and protecting her privacy by discouraging the attentions of a filmmaker intent on documenting her spirit-sensing abilities.


Little does she know that a fiery plane crash in the Pennsylvania Wilds will embroil her in a race to track down a contract on which two rivals are banking their futures. And when airshow pilot Gwen Burridge launches a smear campaign against Ann, she is even more determined to uncover the truth.


Ann travels to the crash site and learns what brought the plane down—but it’s only part of the story.


Will Ann land safely, or be the latest victim of a secret someone is willing to kill to keep?


Buy Links



Tuesday, April 20, 2021


This is not a cookie you normally associate with spring. I’ve made cranberry-white chocolate chip cookies for years every Christmas, but sometimes you just get a craving for something, right? And I was craving cranberry-white chocolate chip cookies. 

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: 4 dozen cookies



1 cup (2 sticks butter), softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup dried cranberries


Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.


Using a mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs.


Gradually add flour, mixing by hand with wooden spoon. When flour is incorporated, fold in chips and cranberries.


Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.


Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until edges turn light brown. Cool on pans for five minutes, then transfer cookies to cooling racks.

Sunday, April 18, 2021


Thonie Hevron is a law enforcement veteran and author of four award-winning thrillers/police procedurals. She lives with her husband in historic Petaluma, California. She belongs to California Writers Club (Redwood Chapter), Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers and the Public Safety Writers Association. Learn more about Thonie and her books at her website. 

Idea Hunting

I don’t seem to suffer from a dearth of ideas for stories. As a matter of fact, I currently have two novels percolating in my brain. One is a continuation of a series I’ve written in the past several years, the Nick and Meredith Mysteries. The other is a different kind of mystery/thriller that I have a feeling will be set in Ireland. But I’m not sure I’m done with Nick and Meredith yet. They keep telling me they have another case to work. 


But Meredith Ryan and I have been kindred souls for many years now. By Force or Fear was first published in 2012 but I’d worked over a decade on it. I got homesick after I moved from the coastal redwoods where I was raised to the high desert for a civilian law enforcement job. I took up writing about “home.” 


1997-98 was a terrible winter for Sonoma County particularly the Russian River resort area. Flooding and mudslides devastated the area. My husband and I had friends who lived there and told us heart-wrenching stories. After working three floods while at Petaluma Police, I missed being able to help. I was too far away. 


To salve my yearning for Sonoma County, I sat down and wrote out the description of a Russian River mud slide. I thought it was pretty good. So, I went a step further: What if a home slid down the hill? Who’s house? What kind of drama was playing out inside? 


The floodgates opened, and I had an idea. What if my main character was a Sheriff’s Deputy? What if she was being stalked by a respected judge and no one believed her. What if the climax of the story took place inside that house?


Those questions became By Force or Fear. The title is an element of the main crime—stalking. All four of my titles bear the elements of the main crime. These are “ideas” also. Using a theme for stories and titles. The second Nick and Meredith Mystery, Intent to Hold, follows the partners to Mexico to rescue Nick’s brother-in-law when he’s kidnapped. “Intent to hold” is a component of holding someone by force with prior intent. I had to dream up scenarios to fit the crime. 


The third book in the series is With Malice Aforethought. “With Malice Aforethought” is required to determine the specific charge. Homicide is the killing of one person by another. Murder is a homicide committed with “malice aforethought.” It’s the common law way of saying that it is an unjustified killing. In the novel, a homicide draws the detectives to the remote hills of Sonoma Wine Country where they find a situation far more dangerous than the single reported crime. 


My most recent novel is Felony Murder Rule. This broadens charging the crime of murder: when an offender kills in the commission of a dangerous crime, the offender, the offender's accomplices and/or co-conspirators, may be found guilty of murder. Nick and Meredith are forced to delve into her father’s secrets to find out why their family is threatened. 


In each Nick and Meredith novel, the idea for the next book comes from the previous. I always have an idea how the story will proceed and always know the ending. For me, the writing journey is about nuggets of ideas. My husband is helpful when it comes to building construction, fire and medical emergency response (he’s a retired fire captain and arson investigator). He also knows a lot about vehicles and can inspire great verbs for chase scenes. 


Also offering a bounty of ideas are setting and weather. The first three books have natural disasters included. How my characters navigate a flood water rescue or escape a raging wildland fire ratchets up the tension. These obstacles must be overcome realistically so I do plenty of research. I’m fortunate to have many retired law enforcement friends who are willing to share their knowledge. I set most of my stories in Sonoma County due to its varied topography and climates.


When the next two novels are complete, I’ll dive into the cigar box where I’ve collected scribbled ideas for new stories. That should keep me working for decades! 


Felony Murder Rule

A Nick & Meredith Mystery, Book 4


In this fast-paced story, Sonoma Sheriff’s detective Meredith Ryan surprises an intruder leaning over her baby’s crib. Unable to catch him, she launches a dangerous journey to protect her family. The death of her father the next day leads her to delve into his past where she discovers her father was involved in a robbery and homicide many years ago. Working through a web of deceit, she discovers the crimes are connected to the mysterious man in her nursery. With Nick, her husband, they unravel her father’s involvement. The loot from the robbery has been long sought by competing crime rivals who are trying to use her family as bargaining chips. Meredith and Nick must find the truth in the next 24 hours before the criminals close in on her family.


Buy Link 

Thursday, April 15, 2021


Lev Raphael is the prize-winning author of twenty-seven books in genres from memoir to mystery, and his work has been translated into more than fifteen languages.  In recognition of his stature as an American author, Michigan State University's Library has purchased his literary papers for its Special Archives and updates that collection yearly. Learn more about Lev and his books at his author website and at Write Without Borders.

Nick Hoffman at the State University of Michigan loves to cook and loves to eat. Focusing on food helps keep him centered despite the perpetual chaos in an English department filled with academic jackals snapping and snarling at each other over things as trivial as sharing an office.  And then there are the murders....


Cooking and enjoying a good meal give Nick and his spouse a perfect time-out to reflect and strategize. It makes their well-pointed kitchen an island in a storm of raging egos and all kinds of bad news. Nick is a bibliographer and loves teaching, so the last thing he expected on his bucolic midwestern university campus was a persistent crime problem with himself not only often involved, but worse than that, a suspect. Homicide is something that was only a news item when he was growing up in New York or subject matter for a TV series.


In Department of Death, Nick's life has changed dramatically once again because he's ascended to a position he never wanted: he's now chair of the department, peremptorily installed there by the dean who despises him. Does the malicious administrator have some hidden agenda? Of course. On the way to figuring that out and dealing with the latest suspicious death on campus in a climate of paranoia and authoritarianism, Nick and his spouse eat one of my favorite meals, sausages with grapes and onions. It sounded improbable when I first encountered the recipe, but it's terrific.


My version below is adapted from Melissa Clark's food column in the New York Times. Clark does a lot of roasting; I simplified everything by a switch to stove top prep. This serves four people and goes well with a sparkling wine.


On book tours for the Nick Hoffman series, I've often been asked if I eat as well as my hero. The answer is not all the time, because I don't get to the gym as regularly as he does (and not at all right now. But if Nick prepares or reheats an interesting meal in the series, I've tried it and liked it enough to share it with my audience, which is why Nick enjoys it in Department of Death.


Sausages with Sautéed Grapes and Onions



1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups seedless red grapes, halved 

1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds

1 pound sliced chicken sausages

2 tablespoons chopped or snipped chives

2 tablespoons  sherry vinegar


Toss together onion slices, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper and sauté in a large pan until translucent.


Add grapes, fennel seeds, and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and cook until the grapes soften.


Add sliced sausages to heat through, and stir well.


Transfer sausages, grapes, and onions to plates.


Add vinegar and chives to pan and scrape up anything left in the pan, then drizzle the juices over each plate.

Department of Death

A Nick Hoffman Mystery


Years ago, Nick Hoffman was given a position in the English Department at the State University of Michigan because SUM wanted to hire his partner as writer-in-residence, but now he's been unexpectedly installed by his dean as chairman of that department. It's a wildly unpopular choice, and he's suddenly the focus of more animosity from his colleagues than he's ever dealt with before. He can't seem to make anyone happy and can't get a handle on his myriad new responsibilities as an administrator, a position he never wanted. Then tragedy strikes again way too close to home: Someone seeking his help is murdered, and under the shadow of another recent murder, Nick is a prime suspect. Hounded by campus police, the local press, and social media, Nick wonders if this could finally be the end of his career. That is, if he manages to stay out of prison.


Buy Link 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with Greer Hogan from the Greer Hogan Mysteries by author M.E. Hilliard.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?

Until my husband was murdered, it was a little ho-hum. Comfortable job, comfortable marriage, comfortable life. I was bored insensible, frankly. There has to be a happy medium between “bored” and “finding murder victims on a regular basis” but I don’t think my author will ever let me go there.


What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? 

I’m smart. I’m good at solving mysteries, but I know enough to call in the cops if things get dicey. After all, there are only so many outfits I’m willing to ruin in pursuit of justice.


What do you like least about yourself? 

No self-edit feature. I have a tendency to blurt out whatever is on my mind when I’m under stress, and sometime when I’m not. This can be awkward, especially when you’re talking to the police while standing over a body.  


What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you? 

Shipping me off to a library in a gothic pile of a house in a village in upstate New York. I like the ravens, and the ghosts have ignored me, but temperamental heating and homicidal maniacs are not what I signed up for. 


Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about? 

Not usually, but we sometimes debate which mystery books and TV shows to use as clues for the reader. She gets carried away, and I’m too busy detecting to rattle off book lists. 


What is your greatest fear? 

Not being true to myself and letting people down.


What makes you happy? 

Good friends, good books, and a well-crafted martini. Also, really nice handbags.


If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why? 

The part where I came home and found my husband had been murdered. If I’d listened better and not rushed out that morning, I might know why it happened, because I think the police got it wrong.


Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?

Vince Goodhue, because he’s smug and self-satisfied in spite of being deeply mediocre.


Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why? 

My landlord, Henri. He’s had an interesting, fulfilling life. He’s an excellent cook and is bilingual, two things I’d love to be. In spite of being in his eighties, he has a much more active social life than I do. 


Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?

You can learn all about M.E., her books, and where to find her on social media at her website


What's next for you?

I’m off to a fancy wedding in Lake Placid, NY. I’m planning on doing a little nosing around among some people who might know something about my husband’s death, but my author is talking about country house murders, corporate espionage, and my ex-boyfriend, so we’ll see!


The Unkindness of Ravens

A Greer Hogan Mystery, Book 1


Greer Hogan is a librarian and an avid reader of murder mysteries. She also has a habit of stumbling upon murdered bodies. The first was her husband's, and the tragic loss led Greer to leave New York behind for a new start in the Village of Raven Hill. But her new home becomes less idyllic when she discovers her best friend sprawled dead on the floor of the library.


Was her friend's demise related to two other deaths that the police deemed accidental? Do the residents of this insular village hold dark secrets about another murder, decades ago? Does a serial killer haunt Raven Hill?


As the body count rises, Greer's anxious musings take a darker turn when she uncovers unexpected and distressing information about her own husband's death...and the man who went to prison for his murder .She is racked with guilt at the possibility that her testimony may have helped to convict an innocent man.


Though Greer admires the masters of deduction she reads about in books, she never expected to have to solve a mystery herself. Fortunately, she possesses a quick wit and a librarian's natural resourcefulness. But will that be enough to protect her from a brilliant, diabolical murderer? 


And even if Greer manages to catch the Raven Hill killer, will living with her conscience prove a fate worse than death?


Buy Links




Sunday, April 11, 2021


Author Penny Pence Smith with actor Jack Lord

Today we sit down with Meredith Ogden from Penny Pence Smith’s The Last Legwoman. 

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?

I’m an entertainment journalist reporting and writing about movies, TV, and music. In earlier times we called this beat “gossip.” In today’s 1983 Hollywood, it’s becoming everyday news. For a decade I was the “legwoman” or assistant to world-renowned columnist Bettina Grant, visiting film sets world-wide, interviewing celebrities, developing and following stories about them. My author, Penny Pence Smith, came to me when Bettina was murdered—and I found the body. I was struggling to keep column news flowing, fighting for my changing professional life, and dodging the crosshairs of Bettina’s killer. Before that, I worked in lower level industry positions but now enjoy all the benefits of show biz’s fast lane as a gossip journalist. Who wouldn’t love the job?


What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? What do you like least about yourself?

I’m proud to be a journalist, not a star-chaser, and feel enormous responsibility toward what and how I write about celebrities. I’m respected and liked for those attributes. But I’d probably be a better gossip reporter if I better played the fame game with a more aggressive self-interest, less integrity.


What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?

My author walked in my shoes in her early career with a real gossip queen, so the most dramatic situations she places me in are similar to ones she experienced. For example, in Legwoman I had an encounter with a popular night-time talk show host, angered to violence over a lie I uncovered about his past. Also, an unexpected confrontation in a biker bar turned dicey and moved the interview beyond a casually shared afternoon beer.


Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?

Penny and I argue over how much risk of danger I should accept during investigations. I see a story and simply go after it. She’s more circumspect. We also disagree about my flirtations with detective T.K. Raymond. She’s more traditional than me, with more stringent professional—and personal—boundaries. Me, not so many.


What is your greatest fear?  What makes you happy?

I fear what’s ahead in my career with my all-powerful mentor gone and massive competition from all corners of Hollywood. I’m also terrorized by the idea of reaching old age alone with awards and autographed photos but no intimate connections. Happiness for me is a balance between the joy and acclaim from colleagues and knowing that friends and family consider me a person of value—even in a glittering community that ignores those characteristics. 


If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?

Recasting my own life story, I’d want my parents to have lived longer to see that their efforts paid off. They both passed before Hollywood became my beat. And, I should have taken my light-hearted early work years in Hollywood more seriously. But it was a wonderful playground for a budding journalist who got to know her turf, or beat, before reporting and commenting on it.


Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?

Cassie O’Connor was columnist Bettina Grant’s long-time legwoman before me. She disappeared from the Hollywood scene and only resurfaced when Bettina died. With her came a mysterious manuscript and obvious intentions to reclaim a starring role on the gossip stage. Replacing Bettina Grant? Threatening my opportunities?


Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?

Oh! To be Porter “Potty” Osborn, popular character actor and long-time life partner of my friend and mentor, Allan Jaymar, retired mega-agent who’s taken me under his wing. Neighbors across the street from our offices in Bettina Grant’s Bel Air home, Potty’s an equal in the relationship, is caring, gentle—and a great cook. Allan acknowledges, respects and thrives in it. What a wonderful deep forever life.


Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?

Penny lives in Hawaii with her husband of nearly 40 years, former academic publisher, and their cat, Bob. She’s professionally crafted stories as a writer and communicator since high school. She’s traveled with that skill from Hollywood to high technology to health care, as an ad/PR and marketing agency executive, always seeking fascinating stories. She claims the Silicon Valley was as enigmatic as Hollywood. She’s also an education junkie, incorporating later-in-life MA and Ph.D. degrees along the way, and serving as a professor at two universities for the last 15 years of her career. She says that, upon retirement, she slid from left to right brain, writing painting, singing dancing and focusing on my story. Learn more about Penny and her books on her Amazon author page


What's next for you?

My story finds me seeking a new path in entertainment journalism, facing a future with promising potential and some unknown doors—professional and personal. We’ll be pursuing those in the sequel. 


The Last Hollywood Legwoman

Meredith Ogden is at the top of her game in Hollywood as Legwoman (assistant in modern terms) to Bettina Grant, the country’s most widely read celebrity gossip columnist. But life changes for the 36-year-old journalist when she arrives for work at Grant’s Bel Air home-office on a December morning in 1983 to find her famous boss dead, murdered. A manuscript lies on the floor next to the death bed. Partnering with High-Profile crimes detective T.K. Raymond to find out who killed Grant and why, Meredith faces more than questions or answers.  A volatile TV night-show host lobs threats because of a damaging news investigation about his background, Grant’s children have demands on the office and valuable celebrity files. Meredith’s home is broken into and searched, and she is assaulted.


With “High Profile” detective T.K. Raymond’s help, and that of an unlikely team of colleagues, Meredith deals with the threats to herself, her future and even ghosts from her own past brought up by the emotional chaos. 


Buy Links



Thursday, April 8, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with Lieutenant Georgia “GG” Gomez, featured in the short story “Do Not Go Gently” by author Shea E. Butler.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?

I was a dedicated cop who finally broke the glass ceiling and became a Lieutenant with her own squad of murder cops. I finally felt like I could relax and have a personal life. You’ll learn how that turns out when you read the story.


What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?

I am like a dog with a bone when it comes to solving murders and love my stubborn perseverance in pursuit of a killer.


What do you like least about yourself?

I dislike how my stubborn perseverance puts blinders on my eyes and keeps me from enjoying the good things in my life.


What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?

The strangest thing my author had me do is date another cop. Really? Two cops dating each other - we all know that never ends well.


Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?

Of course I argue with my author. It’s so much fun to make her justify why she has me do something… like going down to the beach to investigate a cold case. Or why the woman on the beach had to die. 


What is your greatest fear?

Failure is my greatest fear.


What makes you happy?

Solving crimes and bringing murderers to justice fulfills me. That and working with the great squad of murder cops I put together after I got promoted to Lieutenant. 


If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?

I would love to rewrite “Do Not Go Gently” so that I’d be smarter about who I dated.


Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?

Detective Frank Calvert gets under my skin. He’s arrogant, egotistical and thinks he’s God’s gift to women. 


Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?

I’d love to trade places with Detective Porter. She’s the newest detective in my squad and is full of idealism and youthful optimism. Hopefully, her path will be easier than mine with the new inclusiveness that is finding its way into police forces around the country which is opening up amazing opportunities for her. 


Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?

Shea’s a jack-of-all-storytelling trades – a published author, television writer, director, producer, and world traveler who loves adventure and horses. 


Shea’s website is: www.thebutlerdiditproductions.com . If you like mysteries and murder, you can watch her seven-episode, award winning webseries, Trouble Creek, that she produced and co-directed at www.youtube.com/troublecreek. Enjoy.


What's next for you?



Do Not Go Gently

A short story featured in the Black Veins Anthology


Do Not Go Gently is a short story centered around a tough, no nonsense police detective, Georgia Gomez (“GG”). The beauty of a beach at dawn is offset by the gruesome discovery of a woman’s body face down in the sand. GG must race against time and the encroaching tide to gather clues before the crime scene is compromised. The stakes get personal and paranormal when she discovers who the victim is.

Buy Links