Friday, August 18, 2023

The Forty-First Issue


Forty plus one!  Somehow the months just keep rolling by. Which means it’s time for another issue, with my thoughts on writing, recent book events, an interview with a new author and of course, music.  Perhaps a little change of pace is in order.

          Let’s go find out. 



          I’m an avid reader. Most people who are serious about their own writing are the same way. You can learn so much from other authors, both good and bad.  One of the things I discovered early in my own efforts was to pay attention to the details. I was reminded of this while reading a book recently from one of the major publishers.  The story takes place primarily in central Alaska.  So imagine my confusion to read that Russia was east of Alaska!

          Not only did I reread this statement three times, I also went to the computer to doublecheck.  After all, strange little details can be true, such as the fact that Windsor, Canada is actually south of Detroit.  Most people assume all parts of Canada are north of the United States. That bit about Russia proved to be false. Which resulted in some hesitation to finish reading that book.

          A different author was using references to old music and singers to make points in his book. That part of his book I was enjoying since I’m familiar with many of those tunes. Until he mentioned Frank Sinatra singing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head”.  That was hit by Dean Martin, not Sinatra. That’s a ghastly error. It’s a fact that was easy to check.

We all make mistakes. But most authors will tell you that’s where the importance of editing comes in.  Whether it’s the writer, an editor or a beta reader, the expectation is that someone will catch those errors and correct them before the final manuscript is sent for publication.

          Getting those details correct can make a tremendous difference in your story. I want everything that takes place in my books to be accurate. That leads me to do a lot of research. Sometimes it’s just verifying a well-known fact. Other times, I learn that my preconceived notion is incorrect.

          I’ve caught mistakes in early drafts of my own books many times. It’s worth rereading the manuscript multiple times to get things correct.  As the old proverb goes, ‘the devil is in the details.’


        There’s a great line from one of Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” movies: “A man’s got to know his limitations”.  For me, it’s technology.  I tried to set up my own website a year ago but lacked both the talent and patience to improve it.  Fortunately I mentioned this do Diana K. Plopa, who has designed websites for her own business and many other authors. She took my ideas and worked her tech magic to make it so much better.

          Going forward the newsletter will only appear on the website. The blog may run occasional notices about events, books and all that jazz, but the web site will have it all.



          The summer months have been keeping me on the road, bouncing from one festival to another.  I’m not complaining.  This is a great opportunity to meet with people in many communities. It’s a time to talk about my writing while interacting with other authors and vendors.  I’ve also sold a lot of books.

          To date I’ve covered seven different days and have at least six more to go as we move into autumn.  I may also consider some others as well. If you’re in the West Michigan area, here are a few where I’ll be.  

August 19th. Lee Township Summer Market, Olivet

September 9 & 10. Wine & Harvest Festival, Paw Paw

September 30.  Art Fair, Otsego

October 14. Under the Harvest Moon, Dowagiac.

This is how my booth usually looks.

                                              Author Interview


          In late July, I was one of 60 authors participating at the Sterling Heights festival.  It was a great time. I was able to reconnect with some old friends and make some new contacts.

          One of those people I met was author Heather Ashle. We chatted for a bit between shoppers and I learned this was her first event. Her smile and enthusiasm were sure to bring people to her table.  When I mentioned the spotlight on the newsletter, she readily agreed to visit.

Tell something about yourself and how you became an author.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I truly fell in love with the process of imagining stories in sixth grade. It was the first in a long line of unfinished short stories that eventually convinced me that I had better assume the role of liberal plotter—rather than seat-flying pantser—if I ever wanted to finish a story.

I do better with detail-oriented, sprawling narratives, in which I can delve into backstories and motivations. After I acknowledged that, I embarked on plans for an epic fantasy series.

I have Cystic Fibrosis, and in my college years, I was in rough shape. Medications have come leaps and bounds since then, and CF isn’t as much of a death sentence as it used to be (I’ve far outlived the estimation of 12 years that my parents were given when I was born). I use the time my treatments take to write and relax into a world where CF doesn’t exist. There is no better therapy for me than that. Still, I probably wouldn’t write like I do if I didn’t have that time to put my creativity to use. It’s an odd blessing, but I’m grateful for it.

Do you ever imagine one of your novels being made into a movie or television series? 

I have an overactive imagination—as I believe most writers and artists do. I see everything I’m writing like a movie in my head, so it’s not a far cry to imagine it projected onto a larger screen. If I can’t envision whatever I’m writing, then I figure readers probably won’t be able to either, and that tells me I need to rewrite. 

Any favorite actors you’d cast in the lead roles?

I like the idea of a cast of relative unknowns, perhaps (ideally) whose careers are sparked by their involvement in the project (dream big, right?). 

But I did have actors in mind as I wrote a few of my characters because their look at some point in their career was spot-on in my head. To give you an idea, Charles Dance is the spitting image of Darr Beval Senior (if a bit old for the role now), Gary Oldman has the look of Lord Twyford, and a thirty-something Rebecca De Mornay would fit Ethelinda of Alston. 

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you write the chapters in sequence?
After starting as a pantser, I eventually came to realize that the Virgo in me needed more structure and planning to succeed. Now, I use more outlines than ever. I outline character backgrounds and their evolving plot contributions and maintain a timeline of events to help me keep track of what happened when. 

As both sides of the equation—the outline and the story—evolve together over time, I necessarily and frequently reorganize my chapters throughout the process. So, I needn’t worry about writing them “in order.” It’s a joy, if a somewhat tricky one, but I adore every minute of it. 

Tell us a little bit about the characters in your latest book.

The characters of the Realm Riders Series are… complex. I attempt to build them on the human model, which is to say, they’re driven by warring motivations that morph (or warp) with knowledge and time. But that knowledge leans on not only an evolving understanding of the realm(s) around them but also a dense web of interconnectivity. 

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I introduce—and am introduced to—characters as they pop up in my head because that’s when they’re needed, and I honor that need. Sometimes, I’ll weave an existing character into the hole to cut down on the introduction of new ones, but that isn’t always an option, and that’s when I meet someone new. Then, it’s my job to determine whether they are incidental or more relevant to the story, which often results in their assumption of a greater role than I might have imagined when first they’d popped their heads up in a scene.

What is your latest book about?

As An Heir of Realms is currently the only title available in the Realm Riders Series, I’ll speak to that one. The first thing you need to know is…

Soul-sucking parasites are overwhelming the realms.

Rhoswen of Stanburh is of age to train as a Realm Rider—a defender of the realms. Riders and their dragons work together to burn away infiltrating Narxon as they swarm in through tears in a realm’s fabric. But it’s not an easy battle: the mere touch of the smoky, dragon-like adversaries can reduce the lively winged beasts—and their Riders—to ash.

Becoming a Realm Rider is Rhoswen’s dream, but she carries far more responsibility than flying a dragon. Her destiny will pit her against her uncle, Badrick, the king of her realm, who has scorned Rhoswen since before her birth.

Misconceptions about the Narxon are proving as destructive as the parasites themselves.

In the Exchange, the waystation between all realms, new recruit Emmelyn is fighting her own battle to save the realms. Her foe is not only the Narxon but also the insidious G’Ambit, a gambling ring with members more intent on lining their pockets than protecting the realms… or even their own lives.

Emmelyn must convince the higher-ups in the Exchange that the threat is real, starting with her own boss, an avid gambler who despises her tactics.

Both novice heroines must win their respective battles before war can be waged on the Narxon. But are Rhoswen and Emmelyn too far behind to stand a chance?

In An Heir of Realms, book one of the Realm Riders Series, a tangled web of worlds and the memorable characters who inhabit them will leave you racing to solve the mysteries surrounding imperfect heroes and tormented villains. But the real question is: which is which?

Can you share an excerpt too?
Sure. The first three chapters are available online, so let’s look at a slightly deeper cut from the Exchange.

Unlike Emmelyn’s last two visits, this time, the five of them were together again. From what she could tell, Vonn provided all the latest gossip, and Randy consistently disputed whatever “news” Vonn brought to the circle. Kyle liked to play devil’s advocate to both, just to stir things up. Bernadette could only struggle to act as peacekeeper.

“I don’t believe that fer a second!” Randy drawled emphatically over the thumping bassline. Tonight’s music seemed akin to a bluesy version of electronic dance music, which Emmelyn had never before experienced. She couldn’t decide whether she ever wanted to again either.

“Now, boys… ” Bernadette cautioned in a maternal tone.

Vonn’s face was awash with glee; he loved the debate. “It’s true!” he insisted. “But there is more than politics changing around here! Rules are the driving force behind everything!”

“Don’t start that again! The rules don’t change here!” Randy countered. “The Exchange ain’t a realm!”

Emmelyn’s face scrunched up at the familiar assertion. “The Exchange isn’t a realm?” Had they discussed this on her first visit?

Kyle shook his head. “It’s ‘realmless.’” He used two fingers from each hand to bend quotation marks around the term.

Bernadette leaned in toward Emmelyn. “Most Exchangers think it’s untouchable. Narxon don’t enter heah, so no Riduhs or dragons are needed.”

“It has its own set uh rules,” Randy added with a nod. “Except, unlike the realms, the rules uh the Exchange never change.”

“What if we’re wrong about that? What if they do change?” Vonn protested. “Or what if we’ve never fully understood the rules here at all?”

“We ain’t wrong about the rules,” Randy insisted. “The Exchange has been termed a ‘non-realm’ fer hundreds uh years.”

“But what if it’s just that? A term,” Vonn replied. “They haven’t figured out the Narxon yet—what if they haven’t figured out the Exchange either?”

Randy shook his head. “I don’t want to have the rules debate again!”

Bernadette rolled her eyes. “That untouchable feelin’ that so many Exchangers have heah has created a….” She searched for the right word.

“Disconnect,” Kyle supplied.

She nodded at him and turned back to Emmelyn. “The Datists have it woise than anybody because they nevah leave. Ovuh time, they needed some kind uh diversion from the daily grind uh crunchin’ numbahs. So, they created the underground gamblin’ ring known as the G’Ambit.”

“It’s a geeky portmanteau: ‘ambit,’ as in, the bounds of a place, and ‘gambit,’ like a calculated move that weighs risk against reward—a place to gamble, if you will.” Kyle accented the explanation with one of his signature eyerolls. Emmelyn was beginning to find his theatrics oddly endearing. Perhaps this punk was more than just some hanger-on that the Crew couldn’t shake. “They’re sort of synonyms for ‘realm’ and ‘gambling.’ Datists love wordplay.” Emmelyn thought she saw him mouth the word “nerds” disparagingly under his breath.

“Kyle would know. He’s got a Datist goilfriend.” Bernadette added a conspiratorial wink.

“She isn’t my girlfriend,” Kyle insisted. “We just date from time to time.”

Emmelyn chewed her lip to avoid laughing out loud. She couldn’t envision black-clad Kyle dating a hardcore bookworm. (At least, that’s how she envisioned Datists; she had never met one in person.)

Bernadette flashed Emmelyn a disbelieving glance. Kyle’s expression darkened more than his excessive guyliner, and Emmelyn’s struggle for composure continued.

“What ya said before—that suggests the Exchange politics are splittin’ in two,” Randy drawled to Vonn. “But no one’d believe the Narxon could be beneficial when the realms are disappearin’! Where do ya get all this hogwash?”

It amazed Emmelyn that they could hold such discussions in the Exchange. Given the almost cult-like and secretive nature of the place—not to mention the black-jacketed security guards staring everyone down—she imagined a list of topics ruled off-limits. Of course, Exchangers could barely communicate through the blaring music and near darkness, so perhaps such rules seemed superfluous.

What’s the next project you’ll be working on?

I have a few. I’m currently working on books two and three of the Realm Riders Series. Book two, A Transfer of Realms, is with my beta readers, and I’m diving into book three, A Runner of Realms, to verify that book two properly supports it and the rest of the series to come. I’m also embarking on the long-overdue audiobook for An Heir of Realms, hopefully using local talent, but I’m still working out the details. And finally, as if I needed another thing, I’m creating a companionate storyline for a tabletop-role-playing campaign built on the d20 platform that sends adventurers through the various realms in my series. (Think “Dungeons & Dragons”—but do it quietly please, as there are copyright issues to using that specific name.)

You can learn more about Heather at her website.



          During a festival in Holland, one young lady commented on my last name and my books. She mentioned that it would only be natural that I was a fan of ‘love’ songs. I explained that music is essential to life and even include different artists in my newsletter, but I’m not a fan of sappy love songs.  When she asked for my favorite ‘love’ songs, I rattled off a few with love in the title. She giggled, bought a copy of Chasing Favors, then wandered off.

          But that got me thinking.

          So this month, here’s a list of the top 10 songs with ‘love’ in the title. I’m sure there are many more, but these just jumped to mind.

Gimme Some Lovin’:

Freeway of Love:

Love Shack:

All You Need is Love:

Crazy Little Thing Called Love:

I Love Rock n Roll:

Addicted to Love:

Somebody to Love:

Love Me Like a Rock:

Love the One You’re With:


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The New Release!


At last!


After months of anticipation, Jamie’s latest novel has arrived.  That’s right, “Chasing Favors” book 5 in the series, is now available..

So, what’s this one about? 

Glad you asked.



Doing a favor for an old friend. What could possibly go wrong??

It was supposed to be one simple favor. Randy was the nice, charming guy who drew Jamie into a steamy romance, two years ago, during her vacation. Now he’s in town, nudging her curiosity with the request for some help. What could possibly go wrong?

Jamie’s skills as an investigative reporter made for a smooth transition to writing mysteries. And Randy’s request seemed harmless enough. Doing a favor for a friend is really no big deal. But things are rarely as they appear when Jamie starts digging. When she uncovers the answers for Randy, she’s faced with another request for a favor. Who knew she could be so popular? Now Jamie’s spending her time, chasing after favors.

While researching Randy’s situation, Jamie stumbles upon something that doesn’t seem quite right. Most people would just ignore it. Or chalk it up to a coincidence. But Jamie’s never been a believer in those. Sensing there is something more going on in the background, Jamie becomes determined to figure it out. And if she’s right, she intends on stopping the bad guys in their tracks.


Here’s an excerpt:


“Malone, are you telling me that my efforts to elevate your heart rate aren’t sufficient to ensuring your good health?”

He chuckled and shook his head. “You know how to get my heart racing. But there are other aspects required for a full-body workout.”

“Maybe you need to rethink your routine,” I teased from the doorway.

He was sitting on the side of the bed about to reach for his tennis shoes. Now Malone flashed me a wicked smile. Before I could move, he lifted me off my feet.


“Hold still. I’m going to do a set of curls with you horizontally across my arms.” He shifted his grip. One arm was beneath my knees. The other was under my shoulder blades.

“Don’t drop me!” I started to reach for his neck.

“Keep your arms at your sides, Jay.” He turned around now so that he was holding me over the bed.

Slowly he did a curl, rolling me in his arms as if his hands were reaching for his shoulders. On the third curl, Malone dipped his head and kissed my stomach through my shirt. Then he released me, dropping me onto the mattress from shoulder height. I bounced, laughing in delight.

“We’ve just created a new exercise.” He fell on the bed beside me.

“What are you going to call it?”

He gave it some thought. “Curling the vixen.”

“I’m a vixen?”

Malone nodded.

“Hope that’s one you’re only going to do at home.”

“Only with you, Jamie.” He gave me a kiss that got my heart racing, then slid off the bed. “I gotta run.”

“Sure, leave me all hot and bothered,” I muttered.

Malone grabbed his shoes and went out the door. “To be continued.”

“It damn well better be.”


Here are some links where you can find “Chasing Favors”








Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The Fortieth Issue!


Summertime and everyone is…busy!  There have been a lot of writing-related activities going on. Time for my latest thoughts on writing, my work in progress, events, podcasts and more.  There’s also a different take on an interview and some music to keep things going.

Ready?  Let’s roll!



When I first started seriously writing, the idea of promoting and marketing my books never crossed my mind. Sure, I pictured myself at the local bookstores, with people lined up to get a signed copy, maybe listening to me read a scene or two. But I had no idea how to make that happen.

          Flash forwards a few years and now, having written eight books, promoting has become second nature. I’m not claiming expert status or anything like that. But I’ve discovered several different methods to attract some interest in my novels.

          One of my favorites is the art festivals, where I pitch my tent, set up my display and chat with people as they are walking by. Sometimes, you get a pleasant surprise.  At one of the events last month, a young couple was slowly passing my table when the woman stopped in her tracks.

          “Jefferson Chene! Like the intersection?” she asked.

          Obviously, she was a fellow Detroiter.  I nodded and we got to talking about our own experiences in Motown.  Turns out, she lived within a mile of the family home where I grew up in.  Small world. When I explained Chene’s backstory, she immediately grabbed all three books and was eager to start reading them.

          Over the last year, I’ve also been doing several podcasts that are focused on authors. A link to each one is listed on the sidebar for the blog.  This is a great way to reach a wider audience.  Some of these podcasts have listeners around the globe.

          I keep looking for new and different ways to connect with more readers, outside of traditional marketing. You never can tell which method may have the greatest impact, so I keep trying.

Work In Progress


          In less than a week, “Chasing Favors” will be released.  I’ve had some great feedback from a few readers who got their hands on advanced copies, which always makes me smile.  But before the book is officially available, I’m having a party.  Everyone is invited!

It’s a Virtual Launch Party.  Diana, my very good friend who, among a multitude of other duties, hosts the Indie Reads Aloud podcast series, persuaded me to give this a shot. She will be hosting the event.

          What’s it going to entail?  Well, from the comfort of your own home, you can dial in to the Zoom broadcast.  I’ll be reading several scenes from the book and answering questions from the audience.  Anyone can register.  The more people who attend, the more prizes I’ll give away. The grand prize will be one autographed print copy of “Chasing Favors”.

          So you can be poolside, with a margarita in hand, or lounging in your pjs with a glass of wine or a cup of cocoa.  Whatever works for you.   Registration in advance of your attendance gets your name on the prize wheel.  You never know what you might win!

          Meanwhile, my latest project is still demanding my attention. Whenever I have an hour or so, that story calls to me.  I’ve been able to add a few new scenes and expand on others.  While the progress is slower than I’d like, it reminds me of the favorite maxim from an old mentor. ‘There are times when all anyone can expect is that you do the best you can with what you have to work with, right now’.

          I keep that in mind.




          Earlier this month I was invited to speak on the Linderson Creations “Dear Writer” podcast.  This series delves into more background and the journeys authors have taken to get their work published.  Many thanks to Ashley and Sarah for the opportunity to speak with you.  Here’s a link to that episode.




          More than once I’ve had a reader tell me how much they enjoy certain characters from my books. Since these are all people created from my imagination, I always strive to make each one unique, with their own traits and quirks.

          Leo Agonasti gets the spotlight in the new book.  This is a result of comments I received after his appearance in both “Your Turn to Die” and “The Wayward Path”.  Readers wanted to know more about this smooth operator.  Inspiration has yet to strike me with a title for this one, but it’s sure to arrive at some point. 

          Instead of a mystery, this novel is more of a thriller or a crime novel. It will be set in the early 1990s, with a few flashbacks to the early 1970s, when Leo first begins working in organized crime.

          This month’s interview is with Leo Agonasti. Here’s a picture of what he might look like.

Welcome, Mr. Agonasti.

There’s no need for such formalities. Please, call me Leo.

That sounds good. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I was born and raised in Dearborn, just a little west of Detroit. Mine was a blue-collar family. I did well in high school. A local businessman recognized my aptitude for a few subjects and offered me a scholarship to continue my education.  I graduated, worked for a few years with an investment firm, then started my own business.

Isn’t this ‘local businessman’ you mention a gangster?

Romeo Giacalone has family members that are involved in organized crime. He’s a businessman.

Understood. Are you familiar with Detroit’s long reputation with gangsters?

(Smiles) I’m a bit of a history buff. As such, I’m well aware of some of the violent times and activities that stem from the early days of the twentieth century. Detroit can be a dangerous city. But that’s not unlike many metropolitan areas throughout the country.

You’re a successful businessman.  Tell us a little about that.

My company offers financial advice to people. But we take a little different approach from the traditional operations, where the focus is on stocks and bonds.  While we do offer recommendations in those matters, we also encourage investors to consider partnering with entrepreneurs to fund their business’s growth and expansion.

Sounds interesting. Is this popular?

Yes, and it has been well received. My financial advisors and I do a thorough review of the entrepreneur’s business plans before we ever consider recommending the opportunity to potential investors.

Tell us about your relationship with Maximo Aurelio:

(laughs) Max and I grew up together. We’ve always been close. He’s an honorary uncle to my two daughters and he thoroughly spoils them rotten. Max is my best friend.

Any concerns about the actions he’s been accused of?

How Max spends his time is of no concern to me. And he has never been convicted of any criminal activity.

How do you react to comments that you and your business may be linked to organized crime?

I am a successful businessman. My company has received accolades from several community organizations that we support. Through the efforts of myself and my associates, we have helped a great many entrepreneurs achieve their goals and objectives, by pairing them with people who have the funds available to make those dreams come true. Sadly, there are some people in the world who are jealous of this enterprise and as such, make unfounded accusations. These comments are unworthy of further speculation.

Thank you for your time, Leo.

It has been a pleasure speaking with you. 





Frank Sinatra performed for sixty years. He got his start working with big bands like Tommy Dorsey and Harry James. Many consider him to be one of the iconic singers of the 20th Century.    

In addition to his singing career, Sinatra also did a fair amount of acting. He starred in a number of hit movies, including the original Ocean’s Eleven. Sinatra was popular on a number of television shows as well.

My top five favorites.


Fly Me to the Moon:

One for My Baby:

The Way You Look Tonight:

Come Fly with Me:

Under My Skin:











Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Thirty Ninth Issue


So much to see, so much to do!  Plenty of details to share this month, now that the festival season is now in full swing. I have an update on the newest book in the Jamie series, plus an interview with author Brenda Whiteside and of course, music.  There must be music.

Let’s roll!




          At a recent art festival, my booth was set up and ready to go. This would be a long event over two days.  Months ago, I asked Samantha Moran, another local author, to share the space.  That would help bring her books to the attention of the people at the festival and hopefully attract new readers.

          One of the first readers who stopped by Friday afternoon got very excited when she learned that I had multiple novels with the same characters. Turns out she was a fan of book series.

I never started out with the idea of writing a series. It was my intention to write one good book that I could be proud of, one that people would enjoy reading and then move on to something else. Well, that kind of, sort of happened.  But as Mel Brooks would say, “Man plans and God laughs”.

Considering I have now written 5 Jamie Richmond stories and 3 Jefferson Chene mysteries, having an ongoing series makes perfect sense.

          “Devious” was the first book I wrote. When it was accepted, the publisher asked me when a second book with Jamie could be expected. They liked the character so much that it would be a shame not to create another adventure for her.

          That got me started on “Vanishing Act”, the second Jamie tale. But in the back of my mind, I really wanted to focus on a police investigation.  I already had the backstory in place for Jefferson Chene. Then a flash of inspiration hit.  Why not include Chene in a minor role in the second Jamie book?

          I did that and it worked out just fine. Which started a pattern.  Since all the books primarily take place in Metropolitan Detroit, it shouldn’t be that difficult for characters from both series to make cameo appearances.  Jamie and Malone have been in two Chene mysteries. A few of Chene’s associates appear in “Chasing Favors”.

          As long as the ideas continue, I will write more stories for each series. But first, I need to get back to work on the crime novel.


                                            Work in Progress

          It’s official.  The cover art for “Chasing Favors” has been finalized. The book will be released on July 25.  There are links at the bottom of this section if you’d like to preorder your own copy.

          But first, I’ve been persuaded to throw a party.  A Virtual Launch Party.  My good friend Diana, who is the driving force and host of the Indie Reads Aloud podcast series, has convinced me to give this a shot. She has even agreed to host the event.

          I’ll be reading several scenes from the book and answering questions from the audience.  Anyone can follow the links on my website and register.  The more people who attend, the more prizes I’ll give away. The grand prize will be one autographed print copy of “Chasing Favors”.


Buy Links:








Author Interview


          Meeting new authors can be a lot of fun.  When this happens in person, like at the art festivals, we can often share quick histories about our writing journeys, the challenges and successes we have faced. Sometimes we can share humorous interactions with shoppers.

          While I haven’t met Brenda Whiteside in person, we’ve connected through our individual writing and promotion efforts. So here’s a chance to learn more about Brenda.


Tell something about yourself and how you became an author.

I’ve always loved to write but never considered the possibility of writing for others until I took a creative writing class “just for fun.” I was hooked. I started with short stories until one of them turned into a book.

Do you ever imagine one of your novels being made into a movie or television series? 

I have a lighthearted romantic suspense I think would make a great chick flick. The cozy mystery series I am currently working on would make a great replacement for Murder She Wrote.

Any favorite actors you’d cast in the lead roles?

Good question, but honestly, I haven’t gone that far in my musing.

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you write the chapters in sequence?
          It depends on the book. I do a loose synopsis for my romantic suspense books. I ALWAYS do a character sketch for each character before I begin. For the cozy mystery series, we do a fairly tight synopsis. I am co-writing this series with Joyce Proell, and she’s a master at synopsis writing. I think when it comes to mystery and keeping the villain secret, it takes more planning.

Tell us a little bit about the characters in your latest book.

I’ve had a couple of latest books lately. It’s been a busy past ten months. I’ll choose one—Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder. This is the first book in the Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries I co-wrote with Joyce Proell. Emma and Nic are sister amateur sleuths. They are best of friends but have different personalities. Nic has long blonde hair and is eccentric. Emma had short, auburn hair and is conservative. Nic is a travel author and parttime candle maker. Em is partially retired but advises on psychiatric/social cases and part-time mystery writer. They are totally alike in their love of all things mystery.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

         Yes to both questions!

What is your latest book about?

Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning.

Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer.

Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?

Can you share an excerpt too?
Before the waitress could open her mouth, Shaw bit into her. “What is the sauce on this chicken supposed to be?”

“You ordered the Southwest Chicken in Chipotle Cream.”

“I’m quite aware of what I ordered, young woman. What’s your name?”

“Karen, sir.”

“Karen what?”

“G-Gonzalez. Karen Gonzalez.”

“Well, Ms. Gonzalez, instead of telling me something I already know, why don’t you tell me what a chipotle cream should taste like?”

The young woman’s bottom lip trembled, and her eyes sparkled with unshed tears.

“Do you know?”

Nic braced her hands on the table, ready to spring to the hounded girl’s rescue. “What a jerk.”

“I don’t know how he can complain.” Her sister spoke around a mouthful. “It’s what I ordered, and the sauce is delicious.”


“Sit back and eat. No need for you to make a scene.” She swallowed and feathered fingers in the air. “We’ll have a word with the manager on how well Karen responded and leave her a good tip. That’s a better way to seek justice for her than disrupting everyone’s meals.”

Two tables over, Karen’s shoulders hunched and her chin dipped before the haughty restaurant critic. “Could I get you something else, sir?”

“If I’d wanted something else, I would’ve ordered it.” The veins in his temples bulged. “Get me the chef. Now!”

“Yes, sir.” The server hustled out of the dining room.

“I hope the head chef is the type to light fireworks rather than bend over backwards for the ass.” One glance at Em told her she didn’t feel the same.

Her sister released a sigh. “This is supposed to be a quiet dinner in the ambience of a fine hotel. The start of a relaxing weekend.”

“Good grief, Em. You don’t get this kind of entertainment without paying for it. This is like dinner theater.” She shoveled in a healthy bite of mushrooms and beef, giving an appreciative hum to accompany her chewing.

      The double doors of the kitchen flew open. Out came a stocky man dressed in a double-breasted white jacket with gold buttons, black slacks, and a burgundy ascot at his throat. If the outfit didn’t clue the restaurant patrons as to his profession, the poufy chef’s hat hanging to one side would. Like a charging bulldog, he tore a path directly to Shaw, clasped one hand in another in front of him, and nodded his head. “I’m Head Chef Grayson Payne. What seems to be the problem?”

What’s the next project you’ll be working on?

Actually, I’m working on two. I’m writing a children’s book with my ten-year-old granddaughter. I’m also busy putting the final edits on book two of the Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries. “Reading, Writing, and Murder”.

You can find Brenda’s book at the links below.



        Variety is the key to my playlists.  Whether it’s on Pandora, Spotify or YouTube, my favorites jump across a number of genres. Lately the Blues Brothers keep showing up.

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd created Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues as part of a sketch for Saturday Night Live.  Back by a tribe of very talented musicians, that sketch spawned actual concerts and a hit movie.  The band covered classic tunes in soul and rhythm and blues.

          Here’s my top five favorites from Jake and Elwood.

Everybody Needs Somebody:

Soul Man:

Sweet Home Chicago:

Gimme Some Lovin’:

Jailhouse Rock: