Friday, December 21, 2012


By Laura Bradford

It was exactly a week ago today, that evil preyed on Newtown, Connecticut. And not a day has gone by since then that I haven't cried.

I know Newtown. I grew up in the next town over. I've driven those streets, passed that school, turned "right at the flag pole." But more than that, I'm a mom and I'm a human being--two things you can't be and not hurt deep inside for what those children went through, what their parents and siblings must grapple with for the rest of their lives.

Like Maggie said on Wednesday, I guess what I'm struggling with is the why. This wasn't a country with something to prove, or a person with an ax to grind. How could it be when twenty of the victims were first graders?

First graders.

Just the thought of those precious little innocents brings the tears all over again. And with the tears comes the overwhelming feeling of helplessness. After all, in a hurricane or other natural disaster, you can send food and clothes. But for something like this? What can you really do? What can you do to erase this kind of hurt?


Two days ago, I finally reached out (via email) to a pastor from my old church in St. Charles, MO. I guess I needed the comfort he's so good at giving. I needed to hear something that I could hold onto other than despair.

He did not disappoint.

He, too, knows there is nothing we can truly do to take the pain from these families. But he said something that I've held onto since I read his email.  He said, "For now, we wait, we trust, we hope…and we do whatever we CAN do to make a little bit of earth more like a little bit of heaven."

A little bit of earth more like a little bit of heaven.

I like that. Because no matter what your religious beliefs, I'm quite sure we can all agree this world needs to be better.

No one person can change the world, but each and every person can change their corner of it with a little bit of determination and heart. I know I'm sure going to try.

In the meantime, I wish a very Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and a blessed 2013 to all. We can change things. We can make this world small step at a time.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tis the Season to fight technology

(Or why you should never spill coffee into your lap top computer)

by Maria Geraci

Technology and I do not mix. Let me tell you why.

A couple of weeks ago the unthinkable happened. While typing away feverishly on my previous 10-year-old Dell lap top computer, I accidentally knocked over the nearly full cup of steaming hot coffee I'd been drinking.

Although my first impulse was to dial 911, I refrained and instead acted like the quick thinking nurse/slash/author that I am. I turned my laptop over and gave it a few solid whacks on the back (ala the Heimlich Maneuver). It sort of worked. Most of the coffee came dripping out, but I knew that some was stuck in there too and my only alternative at this point was to wait it out and hope that once the coffee dried, my lap top wouldn't mind too much. Heck, maybe the caffeine might even give it some sort of boost.

Alas, it did not. While it's mostly workable, every once in while it does this wacky sort of thing (yes, that's how I tried to explain it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy) and it's just too unreliable now for a working author. Which means I need a new lap top.

Lesson learned: Liquids and lap tops are not simpatico.

On to my iPhone problems. I am one of those people who own an original iPhone. Yes, I was one of those foolish millions who rushed to buy an iPhone before Apple got their stuff together on the product. Which meant that within the first 3 months of owning the little darling, I had to get 2 replacement phones because none of them worked correctly. By the time I was on my 3rd iPhone I vowed (Scarlet O'Hara style) never to buy one again. But... I did love a lot about it. The keyboard was big enough to text easily, I could get my emails on my phone. I could use it as a camera. Heck, I could even check the weather. I really liked that little phone. Alas, it's now so outdated that none of the updates will take, which means, I guess that it's long past time for a new phone. But I'm just not sure I'm ready for a new iPhone. I mean, do I trust them again? Surely, by now they have their act together. Everyone else seems to love the newest versions (including my kids), so I guess I should swallow my pride, forget my hand fisted vow and upgrade to a new iPhone 5 (or whatever number it's on now).

Lesson learned: Don't buy the newest product until the manufacturer has a chance to work out the kinks. No one wants to be a consumer guinea pig.

And last but not least... my outdoor Christmas lights have gone wacky.

I love Christmas lights. I put them up the first weekend in December and they stay on until a couple of days after New Years (bah Humbug to those people who take their Christmas decorations down December 26th!).

This season I have 3 sections of lights going a la Clark Griswald. Two in the front of the house, one on the side. All the sections are on separate timers programmed to go on at  6pm and turn off at midnight. The first few days, all was well. Then I noticed one of the front sections was delayed a few minutes. Then the side section started turning on about 15 minutes earlier than the front sections. No problem. I simply redid all the timers, which fixed the problem. For a day or so. Last night the left front section turned on, business as usual. I waited for the right front section to follow. And waited. And waited. Finally, exasperated, I marched outside to see what the problem was. That's when I found the left front section timer was missing a dial. How did that happen? Beats me. All I know is, I give up. I have 3 healthy beautiful children and a very patient husband who laughs at all my foolishness.  I will enjoy the lights when and if they decide to come on.

Lesson learned: Technology might beat me down, but it will never crush my Christmas spirit.

I wish you and your family, a joyous, healthy holiday filled with much love!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tell Me Why

As I sit here on a dreary Monday, thinking about what to write, my mind keeps going back to this past Friday and how I sat and watched television for hours on end, hoping to find out something that would make the story easier to digest, better than we all thought.

It was well into the evening, after we had eaten dinner and were settled in for the night, when my husband asked me if we could please change the channel.  I reluctantly agreed but once in the thrall of my favorite cooking show, realized that I needed the change.  Why had I continued watching television coverage all day, not realizing that the one thing I wanted to know would never be revealed?  What was it that I was waiting for?

When I thought about it, the answer to that question was “why.” 

I wanted someone to report on why this had happened.

Well, we all know better.  There is no why.  There will never be answers.

For some reason, I didn’t feel scared sending child #2 off to school today.  Yes, I believe that there will be copycats out there who want to best this villain in the twisted game of who did the most damage; I don’t know when that will be or where but I am confident that until we take “meaningful action,” it will happen again.  But doesn’t it seem like we are hearing of one shooting after another, week after week, with more lives lost than ever before? 

This is now a bipartisan issue. I don’t think any one of us, despite of who we voted for in the most recent election, can say that it should be very, very difficult to buy an assault weapon and the ammunition needed to do the damage that a gun like that can do. I don’t care what you think of Democrats or Republicans or Independents, but we all must agree that something needs to be done.

That’s all I have to say because words fail me at a time like this.

Please accept my warm wishes and blessings to you and yours during this holiday season.  Maggie

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Past

I've celebrated a lot of Christmases. As a child, we had great ones despite my parents not having much money. My sister and I always had surprises when we woke on Christmas morning. Some of my favorites were a two story doll house built by my dad with furniture my aunt made. One year I received a Shirley Tempe doll with a carriage. (I broke the doll not long after Christmas, but that another story.) My dad made me a two-wheel bike during the war when no one could buy one. I always received books, which I managed to read before the day was over. Storybook dolls were also a wonderful present. When I got older, clothes and books were the presents I wanted.

With my own children, I tried to carry on some of the same gift giving habits--even making some items. Hubby built a Barbie doll house for our oldest daughter and I made the furniture. When the kids were little I only worked off and on--but usually before Christmas so I could pay for the presents.

When we lived in Oxnard and my folks were still in L.A. and the kids were small, we often spent Christmas at Grandma's house--doing things much like we'd done when I was a kid.

One Christmas I wasn't around for the gift opening because I had to work an early a.m. shift for the phone company. That was not fun.

When my family grew and grew, we had Christmas at home and I cooked the Christmas dinner.

Kids grew up, got married and for awhile we managed to have a Christmas celebration at either my house or my sisters with our combined families. Eventually there were way too many of us.

As time went on, and grand kids and great-grandkids arrived, each family started their own tradition.

For the last few years, we've had Christmas Eve dinner for a few of the grandkids who wanted to come with a present exchange. On Christmas morning, we headed over to the daughter's who lives nearby and watched her grandkids unwrap givfts.

This year, I think hubby and I will go to the movies on Christmas Day, something we've never done before.

What this all proves, is nothing stays the same.

We will enjoy our Christmas no matter what. I'm thankful we've had the blessing of so many past Christmases.

I wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season no matter what or how you celebrate, Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Making Spirits Bright

By Evelyn David

"Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

― Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery

This is just a nice, holiday feel-good story. Please share some of your own experiences. These types of tales remind us of how the small gestures of charity and kindness reverberate and reflect the true joy of the season.

My friend has served on the board of a women's shelter for many years. It is a place where women and children, victims of domestic violence, can find a safe refuge to begin rebuilding their lives. Every year, there are always plenty of gifts for the children at the shelter, but my friend has organized a program to make sure that each of the mothers also has something to open on Christmas Day. Donors are asked to purchase a robe, slippers, and some beauty product, and put them in a festive bag. I've been participating for years and the joy I get from this small charitable gesture makes the season bright for me.

I mention, only in passing, that my friend is Jewish, very active in her Temple, but determined to make the holidays special for those who are already struggling mightily.

This year, my friend asked the housemother at a group home for young boys, if anyone needed anything special. Yes, a teenager (father dead, mother an addict) was growing like a weed and needed some new clothes. "No problem," said my friend and off she went to Kohl's Department Store.

Now, let me add that my friend is not only charitable, but likes a good bargain too! Kohl's was giving out coupons and by the luck of the draw, you could get 15, 20, or 30 percent off your entire purchase. Hallelujah, she'd gotten a 30 percent off coupon! She shopped carefully and picked out several new slacks and shirts for the teen. She went up to the register, armed with her coupon, and when the cashier rang up the total, it came to $87.

And then all H**l broke out. Bells, whistles, and a booming voice over the store loudspeaker system, announced that my friend was the day's winner.

Winner? She felt like she'd won when she got the 30% off coupon. Nope, it was better than that.

Kohl's had a new promotion. Once a day, a shopper is chosen at random to receive his or her purchase for FREE.


Not wanting her coupon to go to waste, my friend turned to the man standing next to her in line and offered it to him. He explained that he worked for a construction company and that a group of workers were doing the same thing she was – buying for someone, in this case, an entire family in need. My friend's coupon was double what his was.

I told my friend that she was doing a beautiful mitzvah (Hebrew for good deed). And she said what she always says, "I get more out of it than I give."

Bill Gates, bless his heart, can make donations to worthy causes at levels I can't even comprehend. But the small gestures are just as important – maybe more so?

Wishing you the best, brightest, most joyous holiday season.

 Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David


A Reason to Give Thanks includes: Giving Thanks in Lottawatah, Bah, Humbug in Lottawatah, Moonlighting at the Mall, The Fortune Teller's Face, A Reason to Give Thanks, Sneak Peek – Murder Off the Books, Sneak Peek – I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries

A Reason to Give Thanks

Sullivan Investigations Mystery
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback 
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


Zoned for Murder
Kindle Trade Paperback

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle (exclusive to Amazon this month)
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, December 14, 2012

Title Me This

By Laura Spinella

Titles are interesting things. Often, they grow organically out of a work in progress, popping up on a dusty, finger-smudged screen, the author shouting, “Eureka! That’s it, that’s the title!” At least, that’s how it usually plays out for me.  I don’t think much about the title going in. Compared to the angst of getting a whole book on paper, the given name for any blood, sweat and tears of mine seems like well-earned dessert for eating all my peas. I’m partial to titles that play out in the narrative, so much the better if it shows up in a pivotal segment of dialogue. In BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, my protagonist gets the cue. He poses the phrase as an inner thought on the precipice of an intense romantic scene:

Flynn realized he’d said the last part with his eyes closed. When he opened them he was startled to find Mia two steps from his face. What the hell was she doing there, so close to him? She was so goddamn beautiful, and this… This showed all the signs of a beautiful disaster. He repeats it out loud near the book’s climax, as he leaves Mia for what appears to be the last time, saying, “I shouldn’t have come back here. Let it go, sweetheart. It… it was never anything more than a beautiful disaster.”  
I remember typing those words, unsure if my novel would ever find a publisher. I did know, however, that I’d found my title. I had similar experiences with my trunk novels, as well as the novel that comes out next year. THE IT FACTOR is a phrase that personifies the idea of possessing every element necessary to succeed. It’s spoken first by the novel’s antagonist, and later used by the protagonist in what I saw as a clever play on words.

Turns out it’s not as clever as I thought. A few weeks ago my editor emailed, asking if I would consider changing the title. This came as no shock; publishers change titles all the time. In many cases, contracts stipulate that the publisher gets final say. It’s simply the way it works. I was lucky with BD, the title fit like a glove. And while my publisher toyed with the idea of changing it, everyone ultimately agreed that it was most representative of the story. Apparently, for the new book, THE IT FACTOR wasn’t quite the complement they had in mind.

So this was new for me, having to replace a title that was familiar and set. Without exaggerating, the feeling wasn’t too terribly different from someone asking me to change one of my kids’ names. Sometimes, I’d like to change their last name and address, but that’s a different blog. The point is I had few options other than to do this, to change THE IT FACTOR to… WHAT?  This is where the real problem came in.  For a person who claims a fairly fluid imagination, I was embarrassingly stumped. Editor and agent alike offered numerous suggestions while my friends, boss, relatives and next-door-neighbor chimed in with theirs. It became the center of every discussion and an ugly argument at Thanksgiving dinner. But no, nothing was right. Nothing sounded like the book I wrote or the point I wanted to convey. I was ready to give up, ready to give in to a sorta title. Honestly? I didn’t think I was off to a very good start with book number two.

Disappointed, I mentally abandoned the problem, though I couldn’t shake the wise words of my agent. As we weeded through and rejected title after title, she kept one thought at the forefront, “Does it speak clearly about the novel… or to the audience?” Well, certainly nothing I’d dreamt up did. But then I began to think about the message, the story my protagonist was trying to tell. Well, Aidan Royce was a musician. Everything he conveys is set to music. He’s in love with a girl named Isabel, lyrical enough in its own right. From there I Googled musical terms until I stumbled across the word rhapsody, narrowing it down to its dictionary definition: a highly emotional work. And there was my Eureka! ISABEL’S RHAPSHODY. While it was methodical and meticulous—hardly the romantic process I would prefer—the title, ISABEL’S RHAPSODY, seems to fit like a glove.     

Laura Spinella is the author of the award-winning novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER and the upcoming novel, ISABEL'S RHAPSODY. Visit her at            

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Holiday Rant

From Bethany Maines

The Christmas Season is upon us.  The cards are filling up the mantle.  The lights are hung.  I’m dreaming of Christmas cookies, but haven’t actually found the time to make them.  The tree is decked and if I have to go to the mall again, someone else is getting decked as well. And I know who it would be – the Salvation Army bell ringers.  I know that sounds mean, and the truth is that I appreciate the Salvation Army.  I donate to the Salvation Army.  I even sing along during Guys and Dolls (sit down your rocking the boat!). The Salvation Army is a good and useful organization… that needs a bell-ectomy.

Those bells are not nice bells. They’re tinny and rung with a sort of bored, off-rhythm malevolence that creates an aural graffiti for shoppers. I’m convinced that it is this kind of repetitive, grating torture that leads to Shopper Rage incidents. A little too many people in your personal space. One too many automated dancing Santa’s. One more hideous, modern and sugary rendition of a Christmas classic piped in on the overhead sound system. One more bell ringer… And snap! The bags and fists are flying.  Yup, that Grandma just took down the teenager with the emo hair and one too many pieces of face jewelry. It’s sad, but it could be prevented, my friends.

And what about the shop employees? What have they done to deserve having their day punctuated with non-stop clanging and noise? These are the ones who help us find the right size, where they’ve hidden the figs, or where the last one was buried in the back room.  Don’t we owe it to them to protect them from the bells? (Aw, God, the bells! The bells!)

I think it’s time the Salvation Army came up with a new donation scheme. How about for every dollar donated the bell ringer will give one minute of silence? Some might call it blackmail, but I prefer to call it “creative finance.” Also, how about investing in higher quality bells? Possibly if the bells had an actual musical tone they might not be such a blight on the sound landscape. And of course, it might help if some of the bell ringers had some musical talent, but possibly that’s just asking too much.  For now, I’d just settle for one simple Christmas wish – stop ringing the bell.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Holiday Season

by: Joelle Charbonneau

I love winter.  Strange, but true.  I love the crisp air, the snow and all the fun that goes along with it.  If it means shoveling the walks or scraping ice off the car—well, that is the price I pay for living in a place where all the seasons are celebrated to their fullest.

Part of the reason I love winter is the holidays it brings.  Hanukkah and the glow of the candles that are lit.  Christmas filled with music and lights.  Kwanzaa and the celebration of family and harvest.  And finally the ringing in of the New Year. 

I will admit that this year I am less prepared for the holidays than ever and not because I’ve failed to check things off the to-do list.  The tree is up and there are gingerbread houses decorated.  I have presents bought and am getting cards ready to be sent.  Physically, I am ready for the start of this season that I love.

Emotionally, I am not.

With every day that passes, the calendar grows closer to the one year anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing.  I miss him.  I miss his laughter and his support.  I miss the certainty with which he said I could accomplish anything.  I miss the way he and my son sang songs and played games.  I miss his shoulder and his understanding.

And yet, the one thing I know is that he, too, loved the holidays.  Not the shopping and the card sending—though he loved giving gifts, he hated the worry of coming up with just the right thing.  No, the trappings of the holidays meant little to him.  What he loved was spending time with his family, setting aside time to reconnect with friends and celebrating the religious beliefs he followed.

So, while my heart hurts, I will do my best to find the happiness and joy in each and every day of this holiday season.  When I shed tears, they will serve as a reminder of the gift of his love that I was given.  And when my son laughs and sings, I will hear my father-in-law in every joyous sound and smile.  I will remember.  And I will be glad.

This is the season for family and for love.  May the magic of this holiday season bring you joy and closer in your heart to those you care for no matter how far apart you might be. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Introducing Brianna Sullivan Mysteries: Books 1-3

By Evelyn David

Once upon a time Brianna Sullivan, a reluctant psychic from Chicago, gave up her job as a lost baggage finder at a major airlines and cashed in her savings to buy a motorhome. She named the motorhome, Matilda. Throwing off the burdens and responsbilities of full time employment, she began her journey across the United States, stopping from time to time and doing enough odd jobs to pay for the gasoline that Matilda guzzled like there was no tomorrow. One of her first stops was in the tiny Oklahoma town of Lottawatah where the population of living persons to the number of ghosts walking around was about equal.

Vol. 1 - Brianna arrives in Lottawatah, Oklahoma

After assisting the Lottawatah police in a couple of murder investigations, I TRY NOT TO DRIVE PAST CEMETERIES, Brianna decided to stay awhile and enjoy the small town atmosphere and the small town police detective who'd tweaked her interest. And to be honest, the gas prices had skyrocketed and she couldn't afford to stay on the road until she earned some serious cash.

Vol. 2 - Brianna attends Cooper's school reunion

In the second volume of the series, THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER IN LOTTAWATAH, Brianna sweats through an Oklahoma summer, heats up her romance with Detective Cooper Jackson, and finds out where all the bodies are buried (literally) when she attends Cooper's 20th High School reunion.

Vol. 3 - Brianna meets Cooper's family and enjoys a Thanksgiving meal with both the living and the dead

Brianna continues her adventures in Lottawatah in the third volume of the series - THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT(S) OF LOTTAWATAH. This book contains two short stories one set during Thanksgiving and the other during Christmas. In the first -  Giving Thanks in Lottawatah - Brianna joins Cooper Jackson's family for their traditional Thanksgiving meal, complete with relatives long passed over to the other side. The second story - Bah, Humbug in Lottawatah - details how Brianna solves a crime everyone already thought was solved, brings the real killer to justice, and gets an innocent man home in time for Christmas.

These mysteries and the others in the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries series are available in ebook or print format. For "buy links" see below. 

The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries series – 9 books to date. 
Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle (exclusive to Amazon this month)
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

For a limited time we are offering a boxed set of E-books of the first four in the series –
The Ghosts of Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)

Our holiday gift to you - leave a comment on this blog entry before Dec. 16 at midnight Eastern time with a contact email address for a chance to win a trade paperback version of our stand-alone mystery - ZONED FOR MURDER

Friday, December 7, 2012

By the Season

By Laura Bradford

I don't know about you, but depending on what time of year it is, there are certain types of treats I crave. Crave, as in, I can't think of anything else, sometimes.

And then, when the season is over--POOF!--the craving is gone.
In the summer, it's corn on the cob--the white kind to be exact. Something about seeing that on my plate...with a big pat of butter on the top...


Summer also means a grill. And anything cooked on the grill is A-OK in my book.

Then comes Autumn, and all thoughts of corn on the cob and grilled food disappears in favor of candy corn and dinners cooked in the crock pot. Oh, and homemade bread.

Double Mmmm...

Which brings us to now. The winter season overall, the Christmas season for me.

Now, it's peppermint hot chocolate (the gals at my Barnes & Noble make it really, really good) and homemade chocolate fudge.

In fact, even as I'm typing this, I've got a mug of peppermint hot chocolate (at home I make it by crushing up candy canes and sprinkling it inside) and the first piece of fudge from the batch I made last night.

Life is good.

How about you? What are some of your favorite seasonal treats?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Stiletto Gang welcomes Kelly Miller!

Today, the Stiletto Gang welcomes author Kelly Miller, author of Dead Like Me.  Welcome, Kelly!

People Watching Stirs the Creative Juices
by Kelly Miller

Are you a people watcher? If you’re a novelist, you should be. My husband says I have a bad habit. When I’m in public, I like to listen in on other people’s conversations. He says it’s rude. I say it’s research. I’m a writer, what do you expect? I enjoying watching people interact, listening to the nuances of how they argue or flirt.

Recently, I participated in a mock trial as a part of a market research study. I can’t provide any details because I signed a nondisclosure agreement, but the particulars aren’t important. For a mystery writer, this was just fodder that stirred up my creative juices. Personally, I have no interest in the law or writing courtroom scenes in my novels. What I enjoyed most was the people watching.

My fellow jurors were a mix of ages, races, and working backgrounds. What I found most fascinating was how our experiences, our life story shapes how we see things. We each enter situations wearing our own set of tinted glasses based on our past. Like when you’re at the optomologist and the doctor checks your eyesight to get just the right prescription. Each lens is layered on top of the other until your vision is clear and you can read the line of letters on the wall. This is how we walk through life, with each experience piled on top of one another like a series of lenses. Ultimately, the combination of them colors how we react to events.  

Though I’m changing the exact details of the mock trial, I want to give you an example to illustrate this idea. One person who sat on the jury had a clear disdain for dentists. Under her breath, more than once, she expressed how her dentist had completely screwed up her teeth. Now this juror was hell bent on finding the defendant, who was also a dentist, guilty no matter what the evidence suggested. Not only did she believe he was guilty, but she was driven to make the rest of the jury agree with her. She interrupted everyone who spoke and tried to railroad the verdict.

I took this idea a step further, relating it to the types of stories I write. I thought about witnesses to a crime. Maybe a woman was attacked by a masked man and she only heard his voice. When she’s interviewed by a detective, she swears he’s an Asian man. That she could tell by his voice. Now is this true, or does she have some bias against Asian men? It’s something the case detective has to consider.

The experience of the mock trial will forever shape the writing of my future novels. I’ll always keep in mind that a witness to a crime may have an obvious bias that affects their statement. My first novel, Dead Like Me, debuted just a few days ago. It’s about Homicide Detective Kate Springer who’s blindsided when she discovers she shares a link with Tampa's newest murder victim. A troubled teen found strangled and dumped in a remote part of town. The bond between them threatens to expose Detective Springer’s past—a past she’s been hell bent on keeping secret. When the killer emerges from the shadows, Kate’s secrets aren’t the only thing on the line. So is her life.

To purchase your copy of Dead Like Me, visit To read an excerpt of the book, visit my website at If you’d like to follow me on my writing journey, sign up at my blog