May Day – Carolyn

Finally, the Malice in Memphis ghost stories with their attendant bios and illustrations have gone in to Dark Oak Press, who plans to publish them. There were times I thought it would never happen. Of course, there will be editing problems and every other kind of problem betwixt this particular cup and lip, but I hope that Bluff City Ghost Stories will be available in trade paperback, hard cover, and e-book before too long.

Malice in Memphis is already kicking around subjects for another anthology. For a project that was supposed initially to be a writing exercise for our members, this has taken on a life of its own. I hope it’s a life that Dark Oak Press will gain enough benefit from it that they will want to  publish our next anthology.

In the meantime, I’m working on my next murder mystery, Death of a Dressage Diva. Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t handle writing on several fiction projects at once very well. Some writers can write one book while rewriting a second, editing a third and planning a fourth. More power to them. I am terribly jealous of them. I get one set of characters and their problems in my head, and they are the only ones I can think of for the duration. At which point, I generally forget their names.

It’s common with actors. The show closes Saturday night, and by Monday morning the actors can’t remember a single line. One of my opera singer buddies said that if she sang La Traviata on Monday, then Tosca on Wednesday, she had to relearn Traviata before she sang it again on Saturday. Not from scratch, of course. But she definitely had to have a complete coaching session before she went on stage or she ran the risk of swinging off into Vissi D’Arte instead Brindisi.

Their is a story that someone asked Einstein for the answer to a simple mathematical question. He answered, “I don’t know.” Then he reached behind him, pulled out a book from his shelf and looked up the answer. “I only have to remember where to find the information I need when I need it. The rest is just clutter.” Probably never happened, but it’s a good story.

Unfortunately, I have a lot more clutter in my brain than he did, and I don’t solve the problems of the universe either.

Today is May Day. Hard to believe. The locust trees, the azaleas, the wild roses, the wisteria, the dogwood are all in bloom. For the next two weeks we may be lucky enough to enjoy springtime. Maybe. By the middle of May we’ll be back in west Tennessee summertime. Drat! Happy May Day! Go find yourself a May Pole to dance around.


I’t Late, I’m Late! (Pat)

I’m very late on a deadline for the fourth Covenant Falls book..  It has to be finished this week and I have a lot of fixing to do.   This blog will be short today.

Just wanted to alert you about my available back list.  You can bring it up by clicking on Pat’s Backlist at the side of this  blog.   You can click on any of covers (contemporary, western historical, Scottish historical or romantic suspense) and it will take you directly to the book on Amazon.   You can read the prologue or first chapter free along with the reviews.   The Kindle version ranges from free if you have Amazon Prime to $6.99.

I particularly wanted to mention Twisted Shadows.   It has garnered nearly all five stars on the Amazon website and is one of my favorite books.   The heroine, the owner of  a small shop in  Colorado, suddenly discovers she is the daughter of a crime boss in Boston and has a twin brother she never knew existed.   Needless to say, her life is turned upside down as well as placed in deadly danger.

If you like westerns, I suggest Notorious.  I loved this book because the main characters are both older with compelling life back stories.   The are equally matched as they do battle with each other in early San Francisco.   It was a Romantic Times top pick and also a Rita finalist and Doubleday Book Club alternate.

If you like suspense, I also suggest Island of Dreams which spans twenty years.   It was a top pick from Romantic Times and a RITA finalist.   It was published in hardback for libraries.    The hero is  the most complex one I’ve ever written.    It’s the beginning of World War II, and he’s a German spy who is torn between love and  the lives of his family in Germany.   The heroine is the governess for a powerful family on an island off the Georgia coast.   Be ready for a shock. .  What happens then spills over into the 1960′s bringing danger, heartbreak and  renewed love.

It’s approaching Memorial Day, and you might  like the three Covenant Falls books  It’s a series about vets leaving the their respective services  and  the town– Covenant Falls — that helps them heal.   Again you can read samples.   I’ve loved writing these stories sand coming back again and again to a very special town.

Have a great weekend and good reading..




Do you believe love conquers all?

That’s one of the questions I was given by ManyBooks, a new promotional site I decided to try to get the word out about my Black Hills Rendezvous series and my free book: Black Hills Baby.

It’s a really great question. Really great. Especially for a romance author. I mean, if not, then why am I doing what I’m doing? But writing stories allows you to have some control over the actions of the characters, which is far different from watching someone you love trying to make sense of a so-called love that is not healthy. Possessiveness, verbal abuse, mind games and power struggles are not any part of what I define as love, no matter how much the person using the term tries to make you believe it.


Here’s what I wrote:

Do you believe that love conquers all? Why?

Define: “love”. I’ve seen people do really rotten things in the name of love. In my opinion, a committed relationship is a living, breathing entity that takes work, compromise and a certain degree of selflessness to stay vital. But, if you’re willing to work for it, love is everything romance novels make it out to be, so my answer is: of course.

Read the whole interview HERE.

So, tell me…do you believe?

Have a great weekend, and happy reading!


Ah, the lovely rains! Guess who will be pulling weeds this weekend?

Ah, the lovely rains! Guess who will be pulling weeds this weekend?


ghost stories – everybody has one – Carolyn

I knew it! We’re already up in the mid-eighties today, and it’s a week away from the start of May. By mid-May we’ll be up in the 90’s. This is when I wish I could move to Maine until the middle of September. The horses already need fly spray.

At least we have inside air conditioning most of the time now. I can remember when we used to struggle into stockings without air conditioning. Church on Sunday morning was a veritable penance in more ways than one. I would not have been caught dead wearing anything less than a three inch heel. No wonder everybody’s feet swelled.

One of Eudora Welty’s characters in—I think it was—The Ponder Heart has a character walk into her house at the end of a summer afternoon and saying, “Just let me get one bath.” To be followed by clouds of baby powder. It’s a miracle women didn’t develop white crusts like seven minute frosting.

The trick to cooling off was to get the bathwater only five or ten degrees lower than body temperature, fill the tub to brimming, and sink in until nothing stuck out except your nose. Both a cold bath and a hot bath would result in a boomerang of hot discomfort the moment the bather climbed unwillingly out and toweled off. I’m sure there are physics involved in that reaction, although I have no idea how physics works on any level. My father tried unsuccessfully to get me to take physics my freshman year in college. I took Greek instead. I suspect I’d have gotten more good out of physics, but it had labs. Greek didn’t. That tipped the balance.

Tuesday my friend Barbara and I took our dog and pony show to a literary club at one of our local churches. I was surprised that we had nearly a hundred people, and a good smattering of men. We talked about our Malice in Memphis anthologies, and our own books. Everyone was very gracious, asked excellent questions, and at the lunch that followed, told us some ghost stories from their families. I’m already planning on using one in my next story. I firmly believe that most people have had a run-in with the supernatural at some point in their lives, and most are dying to talk about their experiences. We’re delighted to listen.

I used to say that writers are God’s garbage men. Now, I’ve gone eco-friendly. I say instead we are God’s recyclers. We use everything we hear and everyone we know in our stories. At some point every time I do a writer speech thingie, someone always asks where we get our ideas. The answer is everywhere. I have no idea what sets off the alarm bells, but suddenly “what if…” goes through our brains. Could be from a casual comment by a friend, or a newspaper article, or something we see on the street. P. D. James said she started with a place. John Dickson Carr frequently started with an idea for an impossible murder in a locked room. I tend to start with somebody who richly deserves bumping off in an interesting way. Then come characters and…

You get the idea.



Road trip for Mother’s Day…the book kind

100116This is a first for me–a NOOK exclusive release!

I have to admit I’m pretty excited. I appreciate the reach of Amazon and the drive of iBOOKs, but, in my heart of hearts, I’m pulling for NOOK to keep the book market healthy, vibrant and–most of all–competitive. We, as consumers, can’t afford to lose any more players. So, when my publisher suggested offering an exclusive NOOK boxed set, I was all for it.

So, if you know any NOOK readers–say…your MOM, for instance–please share this great deal on three highly reviewed novels. (MONTANA COWGIRL has 109 5-star reviews on Amazon.)

You can pre-order here: Barnes&Noble or read more here: Tule Publishing.


Here’s a little gift from my backyard.

Rock roses burst with color on Earth Day 2016.

Rock roses burst with color on Earth Day 2016.

Have a great weekend, my friends! And happy reading!



More Books to read, just what I need – Carolyn

A new friend at my dance class last night has turned me onto Bookbub. As if I needed another source of inexpensive mysteries! I’m already having problems getting off my chair and my butt to get what Garrison Keillor says, at least sort of says, the strength to get up and do. Then there is a quote from the Book of Common Prayer. “I have done those things that I ought not to have done, and I have left undone those things I ought to have done…” That’s me.

At our last Malice in Memphis meeting, our speaker, Heather Miles, who apparently has an internal source of boundless energy, gave us a rundown on the minimum we writers must do on social media. Plus she writes good books that sell well, and does audio taping. Exhausted me just to hear all that she does. And she looks good. And has a family. She may design lunar modules in her spare time for all I know.

Her enthusiasm was catching. I’m sure we all made resolutions to do better. I certainly did. I am going to compel my writer daughter to help me organize. My problem is that I can’t imagine anyone wanting to hear about me. My books—sure. My horses and my cats and my dance instructors and my friends, yeah. Stuff about writing, certainly. But not even I care what I had for breakfast this morning.

I’m always reminded of the foreign correspondent in Doonesbury, who can manage to make wars and tornadoes boring, and who writes minutiae about himself ad infinitum.

In my critique group, I am the guy who says, “Get on with it, already,” when there is too much description or repetition. Unless the color and style of the couch makes a difference to the plot or characterization, do we really care whether it’s a Lawson sofa or a Tuxedo? Or blue or oxblood? Of course, stash a body inside it. Then the color that masks the dripping blood becomes important. I have had editors try to remove what they consider unimportant items that are absolutely essential clues. I’ve even been accused to doing it myself. I hope I didn’t get away with it. The other side, of course, is forgetting to put in an essential clue. Ooops. I find the best way to avoid that is to write clues and plot points on index cards and check them off in the final edit of the book.

Some writers—Tony Hillerman was one—don’t know who the killer is until the final chapter. If I did that my fingernails would be bitten to the quick before the third chapter. I do, however, leave some leeway among the major suspects so that if one doesn’t work, changing to another doesn’t give me apoplexy.

John Dickson Carr said that you should write the final chapter first. Excellent idea so long as you realize you’ll have do a major rewrite once you get that far.

Now, if I can actively pursue social media instead of reading two books a day on average, and if I can learn to manage on five hours sleep in twenty-four without winding up asleep at the wheel of my car on the interstate, maybe I’ll get more done. I promise I won’t tell anybody what I have for breakfast.


I Birthed A Foal!/Pat

I do all kinds of things in my books.   I live vicariously through my characters, but seldom do I have so much fun as I did yesterday (Friday) when my hero helped birth a little guy, oops. . . a colt.

It was totally unexpected.    I never planned to include horses in my work in progress.   It’s the fourth in my Covenant Falls Series which is based on  veterans returning home after many long deployments, and dogs that help them heal..   The germ of the idea came from several organizations that trains shelter dogs and team them with returning vets.

My first three vets — an Army Ranger, a chopper pilot and an army surgical nurse — all went along with the idea.   The fourth — Navy Seal Jubal Pierce.– did not.

First, you have to understand that authors submits a proposal to their editor.before starting a book.   It describes the hero and heroine, their conflict and the general plot within three or four pages.  Problem is my books never follow script.    The characters revolt at some stage and tell me they just ain’t gonna do it that way.

Now Jubal likes dogs.   I could never write a hero that didn’t..  But he just wasn’t interested at this stage in his life.   He’d just left the Seals, which had been his entire life for eighteen years, because of physical problems after a mission that went terribly wrong.   He has no idea what to do next

When the vet  from the second Covenant Falls book, Clint Morgan, invites him to Covenant Falls for a few days, he accepts.   They had been friends on and off for years after Clint had rescued a Seal team in Afghanistan.    Jubal thought he would stay a few days, renew a friendship, then head east and wander a while.

But all too quickly he becomes involved in the life of Covenant Falls.   His first mistake comes when he finds a teenager committing arson on the cabin grounds where he is staying.   Something about the kid reminds him of his own troubled  adolescent years.and he gives the kid a task that would take a week or so.   It’s do the task or be arrested.

His second  mistake is meeting the kid’s sister/guardian.    She’s a doctor who is taking a year off from finishing a fellowship in a major Chicago hospital after her brother is arrested for car theft and drug possession.   The last  influence she feels he needs is an ex-Seal whose entire life has been destruction.

The third mistake is taking a temporary job at a local ranch.   It renews the love of horses he had as a boy when he accompanied his father — a bronc rider and calf and steer roper — on the rodeo circuit.

I had always known his background, that he was torn away from his father after a bitter divorce.   But I had not planned on the ranch or renewing his love of horses.   But there he was running one morning — as he always did —  and stopped at a fence where horses were grazing.    One of the horses came over to the fence. a connection was made, and the book took a turn I never expected.

That’s why writing a book is so much fun.    Even the author doesn’t know what is going to happen next.

Ah, back to the headline on this blog..

Jubal takes a temporary job exercising horses on the ranch and one night he witnesses a mare giving birth to a foal.    Oops!.   I know nothing about birthing a foal.   I went to my best friend, Google, for help.   There was plenty of material there, and I did the best I could.

But then I went to my other best friend, Fellow Blogger Carolyn McSparren, who has actually helped birth a number of colts and fillies.   She described the special touches I needed.   Like the way the foal looks when it falls from the mare and how big and brown the foal’s eyes are, and how its ears twitch and the mother nudges him to stand on wobbly legs..   And also the emotion onlookers feel when this adorable hundred pound or larger baby emerges into  the world.

I felt some of that emotion when I rewrote the scene.   I was there.  In the stall.  Watching with Jubal and Luke, the owner of the ranch..

Although that scene was ever planned,  it becomes a pivotal of the book.

I love it when  events happen like that.

Now I leave you to write the rest of the story.


Taxes, new release and a free book


Poor April–opens with fools and half-way through sits the most-hated day of the year. So named by Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas.


The man makes a good point.

“When over 90 percent of returns are done by professionals or tax software, that should be a wake-up call that our tax code is far too complex,” Brady said.

My accountant charged me $495 today–and because we signed the return online, I wound up printing the file myself–all 58 pages!!!


So, to make up for this, I have some good news to share–and even something for FREE.

First, my first-in-series BLACK HILLS BABY is free EVERYWHERE, including Amazon online stores in Australia, Canada and the UK.


Here are the links:

AU Store -
UK Store -
CA Store -
Amazon - 
iBooks -
BN -
Google Play -

And, secondly, I have a new book releasing, too. BLACK HILLS BACHELOR, Bk IV in the Black Hills Rendezvous series, in out now. This is Mac’s story.


Do you like complicated heroes who don’t think they’re complicated? Single dad Mac McGannon is as real and down-into-the-earth as it comes. He’s a miner, after all. No storybook nothin’ for him. But he’s also the guy who rescues broken things–a dog nobody wants, a hawk that left a scar, his late wife who kept secrets she took to her grave. He has no intention of falling for a glamorous Hollywood star with a hidden past–rife with secrets that could impact everyone, including Mac and his little girl. My beta readers tell me it’s the connection between love and loss that really spoke to them in this book.

Bachelor meme



I don’t know about you guys, nothing makes me more inclined to disappear into a good book than Tax Day.

Happy reading, my friends.






Ghost Anthologies – Carolyn

Our Malice in Memphis ghost story anthology is ready finally to go to the publisher, Dark Oak Press. Our first anthology, Bluff City Mystery, is still selling a year after publication. And, I think, our ghost stories are better than the mysteries.

We are truly blessed to have Ann Smith, who writes romance as Elizabeth Smith, do the pen and ink drawings of the locations we’re using for the stories. She is amazingly talented. The drawings range from the old baseball park, Russwood, that burned down many years ago, to newly restored ante-bellum cottages, and Beale Street, Memphis. I’m hoping that after the publisher uses them we can auction them off. I suspect our authors will want to buy the drawings that are backgrounds for their stories and frame them. They certainly deserve it. Check out Elizabeth Smith’s romances on Amazon. She’s as good a writer as she is an illustrator. You’ll enjoy them.

Our members have gotten the bit between their teeth. They are already thinking up new stories for our third anthology. I hope Dark Oak Press continues to believe we give them a good return on their investment. The first anthology, Bluff City Mysteries, is on Amazon. If, like me, you are a fan of mystery short stories, download it and enjoy.

I really do like the mystery anthologies. Now that Amazon is making available so many great mysteries from the golden era back from the twenties to the sixties, I am reading tons of writers whom I never knew existed before. British writer Gladys Mitchell, for example, wrote over 50 mysteries. I have now read them all.

I know there is a lot of talk about prices for ebooks. The publishers set the prices, and lately they have been setting the new books by well-known authors very high. Not that they are not worth it. They are. Unfortunately, as many books as I read—at least one a day—I can’t afford $14.95 for an ebook often, no matter how I’d like to.

I am a devotee of both Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen. There are too few mystery magazines any longer, which is why the published mystery anthologies are a good thing. I pass along my Hitchcock and Queens to my Malice group. To write better, keep learning from the best. So I plow my way through anthologies of historical mysteries and locked room mysteries and ancient Egyptian mysteries and Romantic suspense and…you get the idea. That sort of professional research is an important to a writer as lab rats running a maze are to neurobiologists.

And it’s also fun. For me, a whole bunch more fun than lab rats. Meanwhile, I’m working on my own new mystery, Death of a Dressage Diva.

All my mysteries and romances include animals, because I can’t trust a hero or heroine who hates them. I recently read a mystery in which someone kicks a cat. Not badly, cats being as nimble as they are, but the hero stands by and does nothing. Not my hero! My hero would have decked the guy and wound up on an assault charge.

Just sayin…


A Small . . . Or Large Problem/Pat

First, I want to thank everyone who supported my latest Covenant Falls book, “The Soldier’s Journey.”   It’s doing great on Amazon.and at, thanks to you.

I also wanted to alert you that I will be blogging Tuesday, April 11th at the  . Please stop by.

And the problem?   I’m working on the fourth Covenant Falls book.  It’s not going exactly to plan.

I’ve mentioned before that there are two  kinds of writers.   There’s the plotter who knows everything about their story before actually starting Chapter One,   The other is the seat of the pants writer.   I’m among the latter.   I create my characters and hope they run away with the story.   Sometimes, it goes well.   Sometimes, not so well.

This is one of those not so well times.

Jubal Pierce is the latest in my veterans and dogs series.   Unfortunately he took a turn I didn’t expect.   Jubal wasn’t  eager about a dog,  but he  sure was taken with a horse.   “Sorry, Jubal,” I told him.   “That wasn’t the plan.”

“Too bad,” he replied.   “Live with it.”    He’s that kind of guy.

I always wanted to do a Navy Seal book, and Jubal came to life in my mind..   Wounded and captured on a life saving mission, he almost died during two years of  brutal imprisonment in Africa before escaping.   He was medically discharged and has no idea what to do after twenty years in the elite brotherhood.   A  friend and former chopper pilot invites him to Covenant Falls for a few days, and the first night he becomes  involved in the community when he finds a  teenager vandalizing the property where he is staying.

And then there’s the pretty sister and guardian of the teenager.   Dr. Lisa Redding gives up a coveted fellowship at a Chicago hospital when her brother is arrested as an accomplice in auto theft and possession of drugs.    Their father died when her brother was eight, and her sister five.  Their mother died a little less than a year ago.and they blame her for not being there for their mother and for them.

She turns down the fellowship and accepts an offer to take over the clinic in a small Colorado town until the town can find a permanent replacement for the town’s much loved, but ailing, family doctor. .She wants to get Gordon away from  bad company and help her mourning sister.    It’s just for a year, and she’s told she could  probably go back for the Fellowship in pediatric surgery the next year.    Much to the dismay of her siblings, she moves them to Colorado.

Sparks fly from the moment she and Jubal meet, but he’s at the end of his career and she’s at the beginning of hers.  His life has been violence: hers healing.   And the last thing she wants is her brother bonding with a soldier.

Okay.  So far so good.   But this is a series about returning veterans and rescue dogs and the women — and a guy for my Army nurse —  who help them heal. .  I had no room for a pushy horse.  Particularly a buckskin named Jacko.

It changed everything.   Including the main plot.

I used to like horses.

So now I’m backtracking.    New conflict.   New danger.

Sorry, but I have to run and get things under control.   I hope.