Writing for the present

Hey everyone,

When I set out to write The Found Child, I wanted to make it current. As in 2020, as in the fall of 2020. I wanted Shelby’s story to come full circle, and wanted that moment to be in September and October of 2020.

The first version of this book on my computer is dated October 2018. And that’s just because I bought a new computer and moved everything over. I’m pretty sure I started it long before that, way back in the dark ages when I finished The Stork. That would have been in 2017! So it’s been a long haul.

One of the problems with making a book current is current events. For a story to be truly rooted in the present, the author has to deal with what’s going on in the world around her, whether that be an election cycle, current events, devastating weather, and/or a pandemic!

I thought the first draft of The Found Child was coming to a close back in March. In the beginning of the month, I was editing, rewriting, moving chunks around, rethinking some of the plot. Then, the pandemic hit. I was stumped. Should I rewrite the book, change the year, and place the story in 2019? It wouldn’t have been easy–there’s a lot in the book, subtle, but there, about Sheby’s age, from when she earned her P.I. license to when she moved her office to when she got married. And it’s not just her age, but the age of her spouse, her nieces and nephew, her brother, her mentor, and the adopted twins. It was complicated and had to fit with the previous two books in the series. So, after parsing it out, I decided it would be easier to add Covid in, rather than rework the timeframe.

At first, as I was trying to put into writing what I was seeing around me, I was stumped. Should Shelby and her intern Lucy wear masks in their office? How could I handle the pivotal scene at the beginning of the book, in the boxing gym? How to manage all the interactions that a professional running her own business would have on a daily basis? What about school for her nieces and nephew? Would Shelby go to a restaurant? Or get on a plane to Vegas? And what would it be like to move into a new place back in March, before we had an idea of how Covid would play out in our community?

As Covid wore on, I was able to relax into it and weave in masks and social distancing and hand sanitizer and family bubbles. I submitted the manuscript on August 10. Then, on August 16th, the CZU Lightning Complex Fire tore through our county, requiring another re-think. It was too late now to go back, and take out Covid, in order to change the timeframe. So I wove in the fire.

I created a complete timeline that laid out, down to the day, where Shelby would be. And I realized that because I’d started the book in the second week of September, 2020, I could keep it as it was. Shelby and her roommate, Erica, would have been forced to evacuate based on their location, but with a little creative license, I was able to keep using that location. Whew. Of course, I had to reclaim the book from the publisher and do another editing pass, planting references to the fire. I do hope that Covid and the fires will be distant memories at some point. And I hope it will be fun to read about them five years from now!

As an aside, my paperbacks and hardcover copies arrived today. My reward for all those edits.

Until next time,


Book Release: The Found Child

Hey everyone,

I’m delighted to let you know that The Found Child is available for purchase. After many years of hard work, and countless plot lines explored and discarded, Shelby’s story is complete. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s a bit dark, but it does make for a good read. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Private Investigator Shelby McDougall is out for revenge.

Repeated miscarriages have caused Shelby’s marriage to disintegrate. Financial ruin lies ahead. A cheek swab sent to an online ancestry service turns up a surprise child: Shelby’s genetic offspring — found in the misty ether of the internet.

The only way Shelby can hang on to her shredding sanity is to take things into her own hands and, once and for all, locate and apprehend Helen Brannon — the woman responsible for hijacking her fertility … and her future.

As Shelby closes in on her target, the stakes get higher and higher. But when Shelby finds Helen Brannon … how far will she go?

It’s available from the usual places: Amazon, Lulu, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Smashwords. To see all formats, get a sample, or order a signed copy, go to the Paper Angel Press website.

The book, in paperback, is 359 pages pages. Compare to Due Date, at 424 pages and The Stork at 343 pages. All in all , that’s over 1,000 pages covering fourteen years of Shelby’s life!

If you haven’t read Due Date or The Stork, it’s okay. I’ve written the books to be read stand-alone, as well as in order. I had to pay particular attention to continuity since there was such a gap between Due Date (first published in 2012) and The Stork (first published in 2018). If you want to give Due Date or The Stork a read first, you can pick them up for just 99 cents through mid-October.

Click the links below to find out more:
Due Date, Book 1 in the Shelby McDougall series
The Stork, Book 2 in the series

Thanks everyone! I’m looking forward to your reaction to the book!

Oh, and before I forget, Paper Angel Press will be hosting a book launch party (on Zoom, of course) on October 17th at 10:00 am PST. Find out more on Facebook: The Found Child – Virtual Book Launch Celebration

Until next time,


Pre-Publication Jitters

Hi everyone,

With the release of The Found Child scheduled for Thursday, pre-publication jitters are kicking in big time. I’m not losing sleep over it, but….questions such as “what will readers think of it?” and “wow, how did she come up with that idea?” And worse yet, “what will people think of me?”

I don’t know what other authors think pre-publication, but that last question does haunt me. What will people think of me after reading this book?! It’s the darkest of the three books, yes, but also a fitting conclusion to Shelby’s story. And the ending is a happy one. I originally had a not-so-hopeful ending, but given 2020 to date, I thought that a happy ending was a much, much better idea. But more importantly, it fits with Shelby and her life story.

To give you a better idea of what I mean by “dark,” here’s the book blurb:

Private Investigator Shelby McDougall is out for revenge.

Repeated miscarriages have caused Shelby’s marriage to disintegrate. Financial ruin lies ahead. A cheek swab sent to an online ancestry service turns up a surprise child: Shelby’s genetic offspring — found in the misty ether of the internet.

The only way Shelby can hang on to her shredding sanity is to take things into her own hands and, once and for all, locate and apprehend Helen Brannon — the woman responsible for hijacking her fertility … and her future.

As Shelby closes in on her target, the stakes get higher and higher. But when Shelby finds Helen Brannon … how far will she go?

In spite of my jitters, I’m excited for the launch and so looking forward to talking with readers about the book. Remember, it’s available for pre-order now. Click here to find out more.

And here’s a bit of fun advice that came from my publisher via the god of popsicle-stick wisdom:

Until next time!


Book Review: Goddess Chosen

Hey everyone,

Today, I’m reviewing Goddess Chosen, the first book in the Goddess Rising series by Jay Hartlove. I really liked this book, especially because it couldn’t really be pigeon-holed into one specific genre. It’s fantasy. No, it’s magical realism! No, it’s historical fiction! You get the idea…:) I plan to read the second, Goddess Rising, and am looking forward to the third in the series, coming later in 2020. The series is published by Paper Angel Press, and you can learn more about the series here and learn more about Jay at his website: Jay Writes


Here’s the book blurb:

The man who would beat the devil isn’t a hero, but a ruthless madman.

Running from his dark past, former Duvalier hit man Charles Redmond is forced to take sides in a battle that has been raging since Exodus: between a power-mad magician named Silas Alverado and Sammael, the Demon Prince of Liars.

When Charles’ beloved Voodou is threatened with extinction, he must wager his life between pure evil and the man who could destroy the world.

Charles’ psychiatrist, Sanantha Mauwad, steps into this maelstrom of nightmares, violence and insanity to help Charles find his strength. She tries to save Charles’ mind, but can she save his soul?

And here’s my review. 5 stars!

What a great ride! This multi-genre read will take you across the globe, from Egypt to Washington D.C. to Haiti, as well as across time, traveling from ancient Egypt to modern day. Along the way, you’ll be immersed in the religious beliefs of the pharaohs and Santeria. 

The book starts off with a captivating scene at dusk, in the sandy plains of Egypt, with the Sphinx looming in the foreground. Next chapter — cut to a psychiatrist’s office in 2001 and a discussion about Zoloft and religion. Ritual, gods, magicians, and demons play a major role in the story, along with the themes of friendships and loyalty. As the chapters shift in time, genre,  and perspective, you’re kept off-balance, in a good way.

The character of psychiatrist Dr. Sanantha Mauwad resonated with me. She’s a well-drawn character who’s carried through the series. She’s emphatic, principled, and a great therapist. Her questions are thoughtful and pointed and non-judgmental, just like you wish for in a therapist. As she tries to sort through the quandaries and secrets her client, Charles Redmond brings her, and tease out his paranoia from his truths, she becomes his friend. And once she figures out what’s really happening, she uses her skills as a therapist to sort through it all and make sense of something that defies logical explanation.

I highly recommend this book to folks who like history, magic, drama, horror, or suspense — there’s something for readers of all stripes in this book!

My favorite sentences: “The sun was just below the horizon and the Sphinx’s enormous painted face cast a looming black silhouette on the darkening blue sky. The image of man’s place in the universe, both master over, and yet only a part of the forces of nature: the human head of knowledge, the lion claws of courage, the bull body of will, and the falcon wings of patience.”

Hope you try it!

Until next time,


News Flash!

Hey everyone,

I wanted to let you know that as of today, August 16th, the price of Due Date has dropped to 99 cents. It will be on sale until September 16th. This is a great bargain; the price is usually $4.99.  It’s a popular read; holding at 4.2 stars on Amazon, with just over 120 reviews. If you’ve been wanting to give it a try, now’s your chance!


Get it now from Paper Angel Press or Amazon.

And, starting today, you can pre-order The Stork, the second book in the Shelby McDougall series. It will officially go on sale on September 1, but it’s now available for pre-order. Reviews are coming in strong, with a 4.8 rating on 15 reviews. Check it out on the Paper Angel Press.

The Stork (website)

Shelby McDougall’s past is behind her. Almost.

It’s been five and a half years since Shelby put her infant twins up for adoption, and she’s finally on track. Back in Santa Cruz, California, she’s sharing an apartment with her brother, Dexter, and in her second year of criminal justice studies. She’s landed her dream job as an intern to local P.I. Kathleen Bennett. And her stone-cold love life is heating up.

Then a late-night phone call puts Shelby’s perfectly ordered life into a tailspin.

One of the twins has been kidnapped, snatched from home in the middle of the night. There are no witnesses–no clues, no trails to follow. After meeting the family, Shelby knows something is off. The adoptive parents tell her the children don’t sleep, they eat constantly, and their IQs are off the charts. Against her better judgment, Shelby agrees to help. 

By the time she realizes she’s up against something powerful, something evil, it’s almost too late. As Shelby fights for her life, and that of the kidnapped child, she discovers  shocking truths about herself and the children. 

That’s it for today!

Until next time,


Plots & Schemes, Vol 2.

Hey everyone,

I want to let you know about Plots & Schemes, Vol 2, a mystery and suspense anthology from Solstice Publishing.  A good mystery will keep the reader engaged in the story while they’re also trying to figure out who done it. Solstice Publishing brings you ten mysteries by nine talented authors that will have you panting for more. Enjoy these stories!

“For me, time is the greatest mystery of all. The fact is that we’re dreaming all the time. That’s what really gets me. We have a fathomless lake of unconsciousness just beneath our skulls.”
–Anthony Hopkins

Plots & Schemes Vol. 2

eBook: https://bookgoodies.com/a/B07CTTVDTN

Print book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1625267851/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1525388581&sr=1-1&keywords=plots+%26+Schemes+vol.+2

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/eLDffF_0dJw

A hunter mistakes a woman for a wild turkey. A tragic accident… or murder?

Who killed library patron, Mr. Small?

Escaping violence doesn’t mean you won’t get away!

To the edge of Heaven and back!

With friends like these…

Two high school teachers become vigilantes.

Surprising mysteries lie behind Walt’s death.

Just another unusual day at Farstone Town.

Come on over to Tough Luck Lounge and relax in a Tiki Bar!

For nearly a hundred years, no one knew the truth.

Ten tales by nine talented authors will take you through mysteries of all sorts. Join with Susan Lynn Solomon, Debbie De Louise, Johnny Gunn, Jeffery Martin Botzenhart, Jack Adler, E.B. Sullivan, Palvi Sharma, Lois Crockett, and K.C. Sprayberry for Plots & Schemes Vol 2.