Reading…the great escape!


Oh! The places you'll go READ!

We all need to disappear now and then. Be somewhere else. Be somebody else. Books are a much healthier alternative than some means of escape, wouldn’t you agree? ;-)

But how do you pick which book to read when there are a zillion or so choices out there?

Reviews can help. Word of mouth is still the most powerful advertising money can’t buy. (For everything else, there’s BookBub.)

My newest book released on Tuesday. So far, I have two reviews — one from a reader in the UK and one from Australia. (I love this so much.) I’d like to share them because Amazon doesn’t co-mingle reviews between its stores.

Offering a beautiful balance of humour and romance, this book was a real page turner f

 AMAZONUK: Romance with a nice touch of humour, 18 May 2016 By Shelagh

This review is from: Black Hills Outcast: a Hollywood-meets-the-real-wild-west contemporary romance series (Black Hills Rendezvous Book 5) (Kindle Edition)

It’s no secret that I love Debra Salonen’s books And Black Hills Outcast is no exception. Offering a beautiful balance of humour and romance, this book was a real page turner for me. There were rolling on the floor funny moments (imagine dumping a box of sex toys at the feet of a man you’ve just met), some nice touches of passion and also a backstory dealing with the difficult issues of death and cancer. I thought these were handled with grace and dignity.

Guilt can do awful things to a person and Rufus Miller, hero of Black Hills Outcast, is dealing with a bucketload of it over the death of his brother Stephen. This is not recent death but rather one that occurred while both boys were teenagers, but that hasn’t stopped Rufus from feeling responsible. He and his guilt are hiding out in the Black Hills after a cancer scare ended his modelling career..

Rachel Grey has always been the model daughter, living up to her mother’s expectations with regard to both her career and her marriage until the moment she finds her husband cheating on her. Her divorce acts as the catalyst for Rachel to spread her wings and launch herself into a new career, much to her mother’s horror.

I loved the interaction between Rachel, bursting with creative ideas designed to promote Rufus and his wonderful Dreamhouses, and Rufus, keen to sell as many Dreamhouses as possible while preserving his privacy and anonymity. You could just tell that there was going to be friction there!

Black Hills Outcast is the latest book in the Black Hills Rendezvous series and if you’ve read the other books you’ll quickly feel at home in the quirky town of Sentinal Pass, however if you haven’t, don’t worry. This book stands alone very well. I loved reading it and have no qualms about recommending it.

Outcast new wht

#2 AmazonUK – MF

I think this is my favourite of the series! Rachel’s helpless honesty and frank responses made me laugh. Rufus’s whimsical but insightful creativity touched me – plus I like a man who steps up for his girl. There are some great visual moments too!

The vein of recognition of wishes and aspirations, hope and second chances, runs through the book in many different situations and the reason for Rufus’s solitude is the grit within the pearl of this book.

It wouldn’t be Black Hills without family, dogs, gossip, fun and some hot romance – plus a magical ending!

This is part of a series but you don’t have to have read them in sequence, Black Hills Outcast more than delivers on its own.

So, go ahead, make some author’s day–and maybe help someone who needs to leave the real world behind for a bit.

One last picture. I’ve been in the mountains writing this week, and I want to share our glorious spring with you. Have a great weekend, wherever you are!

Deb Salonen hiking Lewis Creek


PS: in case you’re interested in escaping into BLACK HILLS OUTCAST, here are the buy links. :-)


The need for speed…reading!

Today is the last Friday of May. When I was a kid, this meant three glorious months of summer vacation was about to begin.



Things have changed.

My grandchildren will be in school for another couple of weeks. My daughter, the school bus driver, will be ferrying students hither and yon on field trips galore.


I can honestly say I don’t remember ever taking a field trip in elementary school. The first time I rode a school bus was at the end of sixth grade when we were transported to the High School, which was also home to our Junior High (7th and 8th grades). My heart beats a little bit faster recalling those dark hallways, formidable staircases and miles of lockers. The place seemed huge and very scary. Luckily, I had a whole summer to forget about my fears and have fun.

Or so I thought.

To my surprise, my mother signed me up for a Speed Reading Course that started the first week of June. Believe me, I was less than thrilled by the prospect, but the teacher was a woman my mother respected and I wasn’t given a choice. In hindsight, this was the BEST thing my mother ever did for me.

I’d always loved to read and my favorite hangout was the library, but I was easily distracted and often failed to finish a book before it was due back at the library. My reading ability was nothing to brag about. I’d never really thought about the content or in any way tried to measure what I retained from the books I read. This class changed how I looked at the written word, how my brain recognized words, sentences and patterns, and it tested my memory and retention. It also taught me how to ace tests with the least amount of effort. ;-)

The course was ahead of its time in a pre-computer age. I don’t remember what the program was called or how much is cost, but I went five mornings a week to a classroom at the college and by the time the course was completed, I was a different person.

Apparently, my mom wasn't the only parent advocating the teaching of Speed Reading.

Apparently, my mom wasn’t the only parent advocating the teaching of Speed Reading.

Speed-reading basically amounts to skimming for content. This is a very handy tool for a student. My grades went up, accordingly. I read a lot of books that summer and never stopped–until I became a published author. Sigh. I still read fast, but far fewer books than I would like.

Regardless of the final tally, I start out every summer with a Reading List, which seems to grow exponentially.


Here’s the current line-up on my Kindle. If you’re interested, click on the title to see the author’s page or buy link:

Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Folker (just finished last night and loved it)

The Taken by Linda Style (reading now)

Forgotten by CJ Carmichael (next up)

It’s You by Jane Porter

Vanish by Nicola Marsh (YA, free)

Satisfaction by Sarah Mayberry

Where There’s A Will by Katherine Garbera and Eve Gaddy

A Thousand Lies by Sharon Sala

What’s on your reading list for summer? Are you a fast reader or slow? Either way, you’re a reader, which means YOU ROCK!


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Why I read (instead of watching TV)

Normally, my nose is too deep into my book to notice the latest “mews” (my word for media made-up news). But as I sipped my morning coffee planning my first not-writing day in months, my eyes were blasted by the hoopla surrounding the release of the new cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition–from the waist up. Apparently, the lower part couldn’t be shown on daytime TV. Ya’ think?!


Forget for a moment, that wearing a swimsuit isn’t a sport. Forget the fact we hear this same chatter every year because…face it, controversy sells. Forget the whole objectifying women aspect of this. Forget that Carl’s, Jr., starts making a healthier hamburger then hawks it with a silly, over-the-top suggestive commercial during the Superbowl. Forget that I sound like a crotchety old woman… I had no choice but to click “OFF.”

Today is my day of R&R and I’m spending it with a book. Hopefully, a good book. I have 8 RITA books to read and judge, and, I couldn’t be happier, because, honestly, watching TV is not good for my blood pressure.


What are you doing today?


The Big Game

Am I the only one who doesn’t care about the Superbowl?


I understand pro sports from a commercial point of view. There’s money to be made across the board for players, owners, entertainers and advertisers. And when it comes to the big game, the host city, the airlines, and every company in any way associated with this production will benefit. I’m okay with that, but I can’t work up any enthusiasm for it.

When I was trying to come up with a blog today, I considered giving you some Big Game Recipes. A blogger friend of mine at GRACEANDGRAVY, offered 12 Top Superbowl Recipes that included: Oreo Cookie Ball Gameday CupcakesFried Macaroni and Cheese BitesLoaded Sweet Potato Fries, to name a few.  Oh, my gosh, no. I don’t eat those kinds of things on non-game days, so why would I go to all that work when two teams I have no vested in get together to play a game?

Normally, I’d be curled up with a book on Sunday afternoon, but because my brother-in-law is visiting from South Dakota, I will be attending a Superbowl Party this Sunday. I’m taking kale salad and slow-cooked ribs with Kinder’s Organic Barbecue Sauce. Very little prep work. I may still have time to read. ;-)

And while others are glued to the passing game or debating whether or not one team has under-inflated balls (how emasculating is that?), I will check out a few of the overpriced and sometimes very entertaining commercials. In years past, I’ve applauded Budweiser’s creative team for tugging on my heartstrings, but, I’m sorry to say, this year’s dog and pony show left me underwhelmed.

A wolf? Really?

Yep. I think I’m going to have to stick to reading. But, hey, to all of you who are big fans of New England or Seattle, good luck and game on!


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Rushing the season

The push to introduce the Christmas buying season starts earlier and earlier. I swear I spotted Halloween candy with red and green bows on it. ;-)

And poor Thanksgiving. Before long it will be known as the Day Before Black Friday.

My late father-in-law and my sister, Jan, enjoying the start of one Thanksgiving with killer Bloody Marys.

My late father-in-law and my sister, Jan, enjoying the start of one Thanksgiving with killer Bloody Marys.

Me? I braved the madness of a big box store the morning after Thanksgiving ONCE. I promised my hubby breakfast out if he’d go with me to buy our daughter something she absolutely had to have and couldn’t live without because everyone else had one. Who remembers what it was? Not me.

Whatever that must-have gift was, it probably wasn't a book, which is something her daughter treasures.

Whatever that must-have gift was, it probably wasn’t a book, which is something her daughter treasures.

Anyway, by the time we pulled into the two-square block parking lot, there was one parking spot left, in the last lane. The lines at the checkout counters were twenty deep. My hubby’s a strong, brave man but I swear I saw his knees buckle in fear. It took us forever to find the cleverly hidden loss leader. And…you guessed it, they were all sold out.

A small sign said “No rainchecks.”

My husband, who obviously dodged a bullet and potential cardia arrest, gave a cry of salvation, “Hallelujah!” and pulled me out of the store as fast as he could. We never went back. Somehow, my daughter managed to grow up to be a productive, well-adjusted adult without that one must-have gift. But the experience taught me a lesson: time is the most precious gift of all. If you enjoy the frenzy of Black Friday shopping, then I say go for it. That’s time well spent–and bragging rights.

For me, the peace of not being in the madness is worth a million great deals. Give me a book and a cup of tea, and I’m good. Recently, I’ve been asking readers: what is the best “forever” gift you’ve ever gotten? The answers are interesting and insightful: my grandma’s wedding ring, my children, a trip to China with my sister…and so on.

Hint: it's something you already have.

Hint: it’s something you already have.

The conversation stems from my new release, HER FOREVER GIFT. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but love is not the gift in the title. The most obvious tie-in to the title brought me to tears when I was writing this short novelette (longer than a short story but shorter than a novella). But as the story progresses, other gifts appear. Heartfelt. Handmade. Representative of the giver’s love and respect for the recipient. Wouldn’t it be great if you could find that in a big box store? ;-)

Next week, on Black Friday, I’m going to try to put together a list of Book Bargains, including a couple of mine, as an alternative to getting up at zero-dark-thirty to stand in line. Just snuggle under the covers and read–that’s what I’ll be doing.

And this coming Tuesday: Please check out my EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY blog for some great Thanksgiving recipes from my fellow authors, Barbara McMahon, Linda Barrett, Karen Sandler and Rogenna Brewer, in the 5-author anthology: CELEBRATE ROMANCE–a real bargain at just $.99.

Love With All The Trimmings by Barbara McMahon is the Thanksgiving story.

Love With All The Trimmings by Barbara McMahon is the Thanksgiving story.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.


Trees, Trees, Beautiful Trees

A few days ago I snapped these photos of trees in my neighborhood. And just in time. Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, all the leaves fell off!

Lacy Leaf Maple

Lacy Leaf Maple


I don’t know what this one is, and I apologize for the slightly hazy shot, but the vivid red color is spectacular.



I hold a special place in my heart for ginkgo trees. Not only are they lovely, but when I was about 12, and my mom was schlepping my sister to ballet class a couple times a week and made me come along, I climbed up the giant ginkgo with a stash of Archie comics, or just my imagination. I spent lovely afternoons up there, hidden in the leaves, reading and people watching from above.

You didn’t ask, but I have to share that when I was 7, I was really clumsy.  Mom worried about that, even though my dad, a pediatrician, assured her that I was fine. She thought ballet would help, and signed me up for the beginner’s class. She also enrolled my sister, who was 6 and not clumsy. Mom didn’t want her to feel left out.

After 3 classes, each of which I detested, I quit. Not my sister. She loved ballet, and took classes for decades. She ended up dancing with a small company for several years. And me… you know that I have many klutzy moments. :-)

Back to trees. I’ve always loved them. For their leafy shelter on a hot, sunny day. For the fruit, chestnuts, helicopter, pine cones and whatnot they share. For their stark, yet perfect artistic lines against a cold, winter sky. Their leaves, rustling in the wind, whispering secrets. Confession: I have even hugged a tree or ten…

Remember that Joyce Kilmer poem, Trees, that we had to read in school? (At least I did.) It feels right to share those words now.

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”

Love this!

Do you have a favorite tree? If so, please share.

Until next time, and wishing you beauty in every tree you notice,


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Gripe of the Week (Lynn Kerstan)

There are more books I want to read than I have time to read! Yes, there would be a little extra time if I never watched TV (which I rarely do), worked an occasional crossword puzzle, or vacuumed. But not nearly enough to make a discernible dent in my To-Be-Read pile.

Life is chock-full of stuff we gotta do and stuff we wanna do. Not to mention essential pockets of time for dolce far niente—”sweet it is to do nothing.” Work is a “gotta,” of course, but it does more than eat up my time. Nearly all of it involves reading, editing, and teaching writing classes, leaving me bleary-eyed and zoned out on words. Add hours spent on my own writing projects, and almost the last thing I want to do is pick up a book.

At the same time, I ache to read. And nearly everyone I know has a favorite book or twenty that I really must read. “Here. I just finished this. You’ll love it! No hurry getting it back to me.” I stammer out a grateful-sounding excuse-apology, but I really want to say, “Would 2030 be okay? I should be in the nursing home by then, with nothing much to do but read.”

Most of the proffered books are well-known and worthy. They top bestseller lists and tell meaningful (often based on a true story) tales that wrench the heart, warm the heart, or inspire us. I have no doubt they deserve their many loyal fans. But they are not my books, not the books I most enjoy.

In my academic life, I read just about all the “litrachure” I can manage in this lifetime. What I want now is a terrific story (preferably an historical or fantastical setting) with lots of action, passion, pain, sacrifice, heroism, excitement, fabulous dialog, and generally good writing. Krissie’s upcoming “House of Rohan” trilogy is right up my alley. Broadie “Rebecca” put me on to an excellent fantasy series. I’m also a sucker for witty repartee, so on occasion, a clever romantic comedy hits the spot. And if good buddy Alicia Rasley recommends a book to me, I can be sure I’ll like it.

Right now, like millions of fans, I’m chomping at the bit for A Dance of Dragons, last book in George R.R. Martin’s superb Ice and Fire series. The two previous books topped the New York Times list, and publication of Dragons has been scheduled and prominently announced a couple of times in the last several years. Talk about missing deadlines! Seems now that the concluding book got too long and is still not finished, so there will be a seventh “last book” as well, The Winds of Winter. Fine by me!

There will also be lots of demand for his next book and all the ones that came before. HBO’s The Tudors series is about to toddle off, to be replaced in 2011 by A Game of Thrones, based on the first book of GRRM’s Ice and Fire. They’re filming now in Ireland, and the cast includes Sean Bean. Guess I’ll be subscribing to HBO next year! If you’d like a preview, here’s a video of the major players.

Okay. I’ve talked about “my” books. Some of them. The very best will show up one of these days. Meantime, what kinds of books do you most love? Are there series or authors (not counting the StoryBroads, to avoid redundancy <g>) on your “must read” list? Tell us about them.