Meet Laurel Heidtman

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Today, I interview Laurel Heidtman. I met her through an author Facebook group I’m a member of. I’m really looking foward to reading her books. Laurel is originally from southwestern Ohio and is a three-time graduate of Miami University of Ohio. For the past 28 years, she and her husband  have lived on private land inside Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky with an assortment of dogs and cats (3 dogs, 2 cats at the current time).

Over the years, she’s worked in many different professions. Laurel has been a dancer, a police officer, a registered nurse, and a technical writer to name the ones she did the longest. When she retired from the 9-to-5 life, she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She now writes mysteries and thrillers as Laurel Heidtman. She also write cozy mysteries, contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Lolli Powell.

Here’s a list of Laurel’s books. It’s impressive!


Catch A Falling Star (An Eden Mystery), 247 pages, May 2014 – Laurel Heidtman


The Boy Next Door, contemporary romance, 226 pages, November 2014 – Lolli Powell 



The Wrong Kind of Man, romantic suspense, 353 pages, January 2015 –Lolli Powell


Bad Girls (An Eden Mystery), 344 pages, August 2015 – Laurel Heidtman



Whiteout, thriller, 284 pages, March 2016 – Laurel Heidtman


The Body on the Barstool (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 314 pages, November 2016 – Lolli Powell

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Whiskey Kills (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 369 pages, September 2017 – Lolli Powell


The Gift: A Novella, 99 pages, November 2017 – Lolli Powell



Convenient Death (An Eden Mystery), 260 pages, January 2018 – Laurel Heidtman

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Murder in Eden, bundle of three Eden mysteries, 757 pages, April 2018 – Laurel Heidtman


On to the interview!

What genre are your books?

As Laurel Heidtman, I write mysteries (crime novels) and thrillers. As Lolli Powell, I write cozy mysteries and romance.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

I think all of my books are a pretty even mixture of both. I write genre fiction, and the primary purpose of genre fiction is to entertain, so obviously plot is important to that. But unless the reader also believes in and likes/hates/fears the characters, he or she isn’t likely to be entertained. In 2017, Whiskey Kills, the second book in my Top Shelf cozy mystery series won a Bronze in The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards contest. The contest is judged by reader groups in London and Stockholm, and the readers provide feedback to the authors. One of the things they give an opinion on is whether they think the book is plot- or character-driven. Out of twenty-three readers, ten thought my book was plot-driven and thirteen thought it was character-driven. Since they all read the same book, I think that confirms I’m correct in thinking mine are a pretty even mixture.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I know where the story starts and where it ends, but how I get from one to the other usually emerges as I write. It’s like a road trip—you start at point A and you know you’re going to point B, but there are a lot of roads you can take to get there.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I name characters the same way I name my dogs and cats—I play around with different names until the dog/cat/character tells me that’s the one. Seriously, some names just don’t seem to fit, and then all of a sudden, one does.

How do you decide on the setting?

That is dictated by the story or the situation or event that triggered the idea for the story. For example, I got the idea for my thriller Whiteout from the experience of being trapped in our home in the woods in the freak March 1993 blizzard that hit Kentucky. We had 22 inches of snow and the high winds piled that into hip-high drifts. We lost power, of course, and had no hope of getting out for days. So I imagined what would happen to two couples with issues stranded like that and then two escaped killers show up on their doorstep.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Not really. But I am thankful for the support and encouragement of the many indie authors I’ve befriended both locally and through the Internet.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

My writing schedule leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the summer! I really want to get more disciplined about that, and it’s my goal for not only the New Year but the rest of this year. I’ve written and self-published eight full-length novels and one novella (plus published a bundle of three of my mysteries) in the last five years. That’s not bad, but if I had treated this more as a full-time job, I could have done a lot more.

I don’t have any favorite or interesting place to write. I just write at my desk, or occasionally I might take my laptop to a comfortable chair.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to remind people that all writers, but especially indie authors, depend on reader reviews. Potential readers also depend on reviews to help them find a book that would appeal to them. We writers appreciate any and all reviews. Of course, we appreciate ones that detail what the reader liked and didn’t like about the book (the latter helps us improve), but even a simple one- or two-liner is appreciated.

Where can readers find you?

I have two websites, one for each of my author names. They are: and

My blog link is:

Amazon author pages: and

Facebook links:

Laurel Heidtman Facebook link:

Lolli Powell Facebook link:

Twitter link:

Google+ link:


Meet Justin Robinson

612yrNavtyL._US230_Much like film noir, Justin Robinson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He splits his time between editing comic books, writing prose, and wondering what that disgusting smell is. Degrees in Anthropology and History prepared him for unemployment, but an obsession with horror fiction and a laundry list of phobias provided a more attractive option. He is the author of more than 10 novels in a variety of genres including detective, humor, urban fantasy, and horror. Most of them are pretty good.

Justin is the co-host of Tread Perilously a weekly “worst of television” podcast (featured on Fanbase Press).

He and his wife Lauri Veverka started Captain Supermarket Press in 2013 when they published Coldheart, the first book in the League of Magi series. Lauri sometimes designs stuff and likes to read Justin’s books. Sometimes she designs stuff for his books. She also updates this website, sometimes.

Justin and his family reside in Los Angeles with too many cats and extensive book, comic, and DVD collections.

Today, Justin is talking about his latest book, Wolfman Confidential (City of Devils, Book 3). It is 402 pages, and will be published on Halloween.


The other two books in the series can be found here:

City of Devils (Book 1):

Fifty Feet of Trouble (Book 2):


Why did you decide to write this book?

My City of Devils series has a passionate fanbase and I love to explore the world, so writing the book is a foregone conclusion.

What genre is your book?

Like the bulk of my work, it’s best classified as Weird Noir. Essentially, imagine Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but instead of cartoons, it features movie monsters.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Most of my earlier stuff is strongly plot-driven, but this one is character-driven. Nick Moss, the hero of the two previous installments, has to decide what he is: a detective or a gangster while navigating a world of monsters.

What makes your book unique?

It’s the best parts of classic noir and b-movie monsters, but since the book takes place at the end of 1955 and the beginning of 1956, it also features several historical figures in supporting roles.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I outline. Noir plots tend to be too intricate to write by the seat of your pants. You’ll wind up with huge logic gaps and plot holes.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

With my human characters, I use census data from the time to look at common names. “Nick” sounded like a good private eye name, and “Moss” has that kind of nondescript feel I wanted. In the world of City of Devils, after someone gets turned into a monster, they choose a new name. These tend to be classical allusions, or they’re puns, because I like puns. So in this installment, you have a pair of wolfman cops named Lou Garou and Phil Moon, a bride of Frankenstein-style character named Jane Stitch, and a trio of goblin gangsters with the handles Flux, Murk, and Sawbones.

How do you decide on the setting?

I love noir and I love monster movies. It was a natural fit.

Do you have a writing mentor?


What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I write when my daughter naps. Since she’s only a year old, fortunately she naps a lot. She sleeps right next to me while I write. That’d be my favorite place.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have a ton of free short stories on my site ( set in the world of City of Devils starring a lot of the characters from the books. So if you have a favorite character, from Gelatin Keyes the blob to Sam Haine the pumpkinhead, you can find a story all about them. Alternately, if you don’t know whether you want to start the series, take the world for a test drive. See a Thanksgiving crime gone horribly wrong in “Light or Dark,” or what the crew of a ghost ship does on vacation in “All Wet.”

Where can readers find you?


Twitter:  @JustinSRobinson

Instagram: @weirdnoirmaster


Meet Linda Lingle


Linda began writing at a young age and had some early success with her whimsical short stories. Then life intervened and she took a break from writing to build a career in public service.  When the story line for Dear Heart came to her out of the blue, it sparked her imagination and reignited her enthusiasm for writing.

​Linda lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Arthur, and her dog, Sam. She is currently writing a screenplay which incorporates the plots from both Dear Heart and Sweet Heart, and working on the second draft of her third book, Interoffice Romance.

Dear Heart was published by Solstice Publishing on May 6th, 2018 and is 168 pages.  The companion book, Sweet Heart, was also published  by Solstice. It came out on August 1st, 2018 and is 123 pages.

About Dear Heart and Sweet Heart:

Can love survive a nearly-forty-year separation? Can passion? And what happens to lovers who are separated for a life time? See how their destiny unfolds as the parted lovers dream about finding their way back to each other’s arms, and an unlikely guide emerges to light the path of their journey.


Deirdre Reid and Hartley (Lee) Tate feel an immediate attraction when they meet at the office where they will work together and fall in love. There is only one problem: they are married to others and Lee has four daughters to whom he is devoted.

For 15 months Deirdre and Lee carry on a passionate affair. Then Lee’s wife is offered a big promotion across the country. With his heart breaking, Lee leaves Deirdre in San Francisco and moves East with his family so his wife can advance her high-powered career.

Soon, unforeseen circumstances have Deirdre second-guessing her insistence on a clean break. She resists every impulse to fly to Lee’s side, but on the first anniversary of their parting, Deirdre grows increasingly regretful and melancholy. Then she receives a surprising Christmas present which sets in motion a 38-year ritual that, against all odds, keeps alive the love she shared with Lee.


Heartbroken and resentful, Lee has a difficult time adjusting to his life without Deirdre and struggles to settle in to his new surroundings. Knowing he made the only decision a father could make does little to lessen Lee’s profound sense of loss. Although he tries to be upbeat and optimistic for the sake of his daughters, in the dark and quiet of his lonely nights, Lee relives the fifteen heady months that he spent with Deirdre and gives free rein to the anguish and bitterness he feels because he was forced to leave her.

Then, his youngest daughter enlists Lee to help her find an elusive Christmas gift for her favorite teacher and everything changes.

As if guided by fate, Lee stumbles across a poignant reminder of his time with Deirdre and sets in motion the 38-year ritual that eased his heartbreak and sustained his hope for the future.

In this companion book to Dear Heart, we meet the people who populate Lee’s world, and learn the shocking secret he promised never to reveal.

Why did you decide to write these books?  

I awoke on the morning of my fortieth wedding anniversary thinking about all of the ups and downs my husband and I had survived, and about how love had changed for us as we weathered the bad times and the challenges of day-to-day living. Then — and this is where the magic came in, I began to wonder how life would have been if romantic love had lasted forever. The next thing I knew, I was sitting at my laptop, writing the first chapter of Dear Heart.   

What genre are your books?

I would characterize both Dear Heart and Sweet Heart as contemporary romances.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

Definitely character driven since each book is narrated by a main character; Dear Heart is told by the female character and Sweet Heart is told by the male character.

What makes your books unique?

Primarily, the voice of the characters. But I think that the use of music and specific song titles to drive the plot is something that distinguishes these books from other romances.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I knew when I started that the main characters would have a passionate affair, be separated for a long period of time, and would ultimately get back together because, well, when I read a love story, I want there to be a happily ever after.  Beyond that, the plot emerged as I wrote.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I knew the title would be Dear Heart before I even started writing the book.  When I came upon the name Deirdre when I was looking at baby names on the internet, it hit me that the first four letters of her name was a variation of the first word of the title. Then I found the name Hartley for the male character and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The only problem was that I thought Hartley was too formal for the male character. I struggled with that for a little while, until I decided to give him a nickname.

How do you decide on the setting?

I knew I wanted to include music as a key element in the book and I decided to use music recorded by Frank Sinatra very early on. When I started going through his discography and discovered “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” it felt right to set the story there. And when I separated the lovers, I wanted Lee to be on the other side of the country, hence, New Jersey.

Do you have a writing mentor?


What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I am very lucky to have my own study which looks out into our yard, so I enjoy working there.  But I don’t have a set writing schedule. I write when the spirit moves me. I don’t force it. I say, why torture yourself? Conventional wisdom is that writing in 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. But for me, writing is 100% about the inspiration, because when you’re inspired, you won’t have to break that much of a sweat. I’m not saying you won’t have to work, but the fact is that a truly inspired story will tell itself, while a story light on inspiration and heavy on perspiration will end up hopelessly contrived.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, I’d just like to tell other aspiring writers to never give up.  More than anything else, believe in your story. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to dissuade you from writing it. And don’t let anyone convince you to self-publish if you believe you can place your book with an actual publisher. It took me almost two years of sending out queries before Solstice Publishing offered me a contract for Dear Heart. And I could not have been luckier that Kathi Sprayberry and Melissa Miller took a chance on me. Together with KateMarie Collins, these women have taught me more about publishing and marketing than I thought I’d ever know, and I owe them a debt of gratitude I can never repay.   

Where can readers find you?





Meet Rachel Tamayo


Today, I’m hosting Rachel Tamayo. She’s on a blog tour to promote her latest book, a 92 page novella, Once Upon a Kiss. It was just released by Foster Embry Publishing. Rachel has written romance, paranormal, and thrillers. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her with her family. She’s Mom to two small kids and has been married 14 years.  Her full time profession as a 911/police dispatcher in the Houston area gives her an interesting perspective into people that others might not have. Rachael was born and raised in Southeast Texas, where she lives with her family.

As part of the tour, I was given a pre-release copy of Once Upon a Kiss. I loved it! See my review at the end of the interview.

About the book:


Why did you decide to write this book?

Writing thrillers is hard, so sometimes between thrillers I like to write a romance to clean my brain, so to speak.  Like cleansing the pallet so you can really get into the darkness of the next thriller.

What genre is your book?

Contemporary Romance

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

I think it’s really both.  I write in deep POV, and this gives my characters layers and flaws and makes them easy for the readers to connect to.  But what good is a great character with no place to take them? I like fast paced, so that’s what I write. You won’t find useless filler in my books, they are all page turners!

What makes your book unique?

I like to call this one a reverse fairy tale.  What that means, is the damsel is in distress—but this time she saves herself, and him too!  She’s a strong woman, she was born in Israel, and she’s not taking any crap, but she’s still very likable.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

Although I have tried, I can’t outline my books. I’m what’s called a “pantser.”  It comes to me as I write. Very often what I end up with is totally different than what I intended when I sit down to start a book.  I let the story write itself.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

Easy, I Google baby name sites and scroll until I find one I like.  

How do you decide on the setting?

My books are all set in Texas, that is where I am, it’s what I know.   

Do you have a writing mentor?


What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I can write anywhere, anytime the mood hits. I use OneDrive, just so I can write anywhere. I’ve written on my phone waiting in a doctor’s office before.  As a “pantser” it’s the only way. I can’t force wordcount, or a writing schedule. My books don’t come out well when I try to do that. I have to wait for the story to talk to me.  

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve had so many tell me “just write” or that it doesn’t matter, just put words on paper.  I have to say that isn’t right for everyone. I can’t write without purpose. I’ll start over again and again until it’s right. I actually ended up writing Release (my September short erotic book that just released) in one draft. So, if you are a budding writer, there is no right or wrong way.  YOU DO YOU, as they say. Learn from everything, every mistake, every book, and make the next one better. Listen to editors and don’t keep making the same mistakes. This is how you grow.  

Where can readers find you?

Website: Rachel Tamayo Writes

Twitter: @rtamayo2004


Nancy’s review: 5 stars

What a fun book! It truly is a reverse fairy tale. Instead of being saved, the princess is the one doing the saving. The main character, Talia, has grit and determination. Once she’s left high and dry at the altar, she manages, with the help of her bridesmaids and a healthy does of tequila, to keep her dignity intact. Running into Jessie, an old boyfriend, one she never really got over, helps.

But the relationship with her ex doesn’t end at the altar. When she discovers he’s been scamming her for months, she comes up with a way to turn the tables. But things get complicated….!

I really enjoyed how the author moved the story along.  I love the eye-catching cover. The book is fast-paced, and an easy, engaging read. The erotic sections are very well done. Definitely recommend.


Meet Virginia Babcock

author_photoToday, I’d like to introduce you to Solstice author Virginia Babcock. Virginia grew up in and still lives in Northern Utah with her husband and cat. In college, she started in Engineering and ended up in Art and English, which makes for weird syntax when she writes. The picture of her includes some “yard art” a fellow student made that she bought for her mom. She  likes to walk outside while listening to music. She uses that time to meditate on her writings and work out tricky parts. Virginia’s latest book is Hear Me.



Page count: 174

Date published: September 26, 2017 by Solstice Publishing

Ebook: click here




About the book:

Maddy has always been different, but lately she’s been lonely. Even those who love her avoid her because of her “gift” and the strange things it makes her do. Then one night, a ghostly visitor warns her to go with the handsome stranger who shows up at her door before dawn.

Jacob needed a change in his life, so he quit his job. Before he could head out on his next adventure, his brother reached out to him for help. Will he ever know why a haunting dream told him to leave to help his brother now? On his way, he meets the beautiful Maddy.

Together Maddy and Jacob help those they are called to help. Through triumph and tragedy they find their own way and try to blend two varying paths into one.

Why did you decide to write this book?

I wondered whether I could write something supernatural. I found I couldn’t. I just couldn’t come up with an otherworldly feel to the story, so it morphed into a story about a “psychic” heroine. I then ran with it based on some personal experiences and memories of my own “grannies.” I also wanted to keep working on romances highlighting how normal guys can be attractive. The hero doesn’t need to be an immortal, a millionaire, or even a cop or FBI agent. Jacob in this book happens to be ex-army, but I know a lot of guys like him.

What genre is your book?


Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Both. I find myself telling stories based on what happened, with information about the characters tying it together.

What makes your book unique?

The idea that someone would actually live following the wishes of dead relatives. It’s also set in Idaho and Utah.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I try to plot out major events and a basic timeline for the book. Then I write the events. If it starts going a different way, I will go with the new flow if it’s better. For instance, I never intended to have the heroine in Hear Me get so hurt; it just came out that way.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I typically look up baby names online. Madeline Lena got her names from one of my grandmas and one of my great-great grandmas. I used Madeline, because that granny was Madeline Udora (like Eudora) and went by Udora, when I’d thought she’d go by Madeline given a choice.

How do you decide on the setting?

I place my characters in places I know or where I’ve been. The first hospital in Hear Me was in Provo, UT, because I’d visited a sick family member there while writing the book.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No, but I’m thinking of getting one. Other Solstice authors recently read Hear Me and rated it on Amazon and Good Reads. They gave some good constructive feedback that I wish I’d had when writing it. I do have a best friend who’s a real bookhound like me. I usually test my plots on her.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I try to write when I feel like it. I try to dedicate time to writing each week, and usually write on my huge iPad Pro while being a couch potato in my husband’s recliner.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am working on a few stories and hope to get a couple of manuscripts done this year. I’m also going to my first writing conference in a few weeks. There I’m hoping to sharpen my skills and strengthen my plots. I’m also doing #TwitterTales flash fiction and am enjoying crafting these mini plots.

Where can readers find you?

@VirginiaBabcockBooks on Facebook

@VBabcockBooks on Twitter

Meet Michael Thal

Smaller SearsI’m happy today to host Michael Thal. His book Koolura and the Mayans won the Gold at the 2018 eLit Awards in the Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction category. Wow! For more information on this amazing award, see Koolura and the Mayans Wins Gold at the eLit Book Awards.

Michael Thal is the author of five published novels—Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series—The Legend of Koolura, Koolura and The Mystery at Camp Saddleback, and Koolura and the Mayans.

Moving from the frigid Northeast to comfy Southern California in 1973, Michael taught elementary and middle school for 28 years until a freak virus left him deafened at the age of 50. He reinvented himself as a writer composing over 80 published articles in print magazines as well as novels for middle grade and high school aged students.

You can learn more about Michael Thal on his website and blog at His books can be purchased on and Barnes & Noble in print and as e-books.

Today, he’s talking about Koolura and the Mayans. As a bonus, I’ve read the book and loved it! See my review at the bottom of the post.

About the book:

Koolura, a girl with extraordinary psychic powers, is back again with pal Leila. The duo is off to Mexico for Koolura’s father’s wedding. When touring a Mayan archaeological dig, the girls uncover a mysterious device that hurtles them 2000 years back in time. They soon discover aliens from the planet Aquari living amongst Mayan natives. Are these Aquarians planning to take over Earth? And can Koolura and Leila stop them in time?


Koolura and the Mayans was published in 2016 by Solstice Publishing and is 131 pages.

Why did you decide to write this book?

Koolura and the Mayans is the third installment to the Koolura Series. Each book can be read independently without pressure of reading the other books in the series. I got the idea for Koolura and the Mayans when I traveled with my daughter to Oaxaca, Mexico for my cousin Adam’s wedding. We took a day trip to Monte Alban, an archeological site of Mayan civilization. That’s when I got the idea that perhaps Koolura could visit this site and be plunged back in time to the age of the Maya.

What genre is your book?

Koolura and the Mayans is historical fiction and science fiction.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

The book is plot driven.

What makes your book unique?

Koolura and the Mayans won Second Place in the 2016 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards. One of its main characters, Leila, is deaf. Koolura met her in book two of the series, Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback, and learned American Sign Language from her friend. Readers will see that deaf people are smart and resourceful. I think exposing young readers to characters with disabilities is important in broadening their horizons.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

The book I’m writing now, The Lip Reader, is a novel in which I’m letting the novel emerge as I write. However, I plotted each chapter of Koolura and the Mayans before I started writing. Of course things changed as the novel evolved and I had to add chapters and throw out others that didn’t seem to work.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

That’s a great question. I gave Koolura her name because she’s very cool. She can read minds, lift objects with a thought, and even fly. Now that’s cool. Leila got her name in memory of my Aunt Lilly.

How do you decide on the setting?

My visit to Monte Alban forced an obvious setting on me. In Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback I visited a lake in the Santa Ynez Mountains outside of Santa Barbara when my wife and I visited our daughter Koren at college. I thought that would be a perfect site for a summer sleep-away camp, and I was right. There was such a camp nearby, which I toured and took copious notes for Camp Saddleback.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Yes, I have two. Anne McGee, the author of Anni’s Attic and the Cedar Creek Mystery series, looks over my chapters giving me ideas for improvement. Susan Schader, a professional editor, is a huge help in pointing out my errors. Thanks to them, I feel my writing has improved tremendously over the past few years.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I make it a point to write one chapter per month. I usually write the rough draft in pencil at my desk, then type it up on my computer as I make changes.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I was a teacher for 28 years until a virus robbed me of my hearing. Getting a good education is extremely important. We never know what life will throw at us and it’s important to be prepared. Not able to understand my students any longer, I took disability and taught myself how to write. Readers can visit my website at where they can learn about my five YA novels and read my blog.

Other books by this author:

The Legend of Koolura:

Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback:

The Abduction of Joshua Bloom:

Goodbye Tchaikovsky:

Nancy’s review:

Michael Thal has written a marvelous story. Koolura is off to her father’s wedding in Oaxaca, Mexico. To get there, she uses her superpowers to pick up her BFF, Leila, and magically transport both of them to the Oaxacan airport. Once there, on a harmless tourist trip to Monte Alban, the ruins in the Valley of Oaxaca, the girls stumble into a pyramid and are whisked back in time. They find the ancient Mayans are under the thumb of alien invaders. In order to return to modern-day Oaxaca, the girls have to help.

Both of these girls are great role models. They’re good friends, they’re brave and strong, and they do what’s right even though it’s dangerous. Leila is hard of hearing, and the girls communicate using American Sign Language, adding another dimension to their friendship.

This is the third book in the series. I’ve read the other two, and was glad to discover this one. It’s educational, with the history of the Mayan civilization woven in. In addition, it’s also got a sci-fi element. Michael Thal gives us a glimpse of the society of the alien invaders; not somewhere you’d want to live. But Koolara must travel there in order to save the Mayans, and the arc of human civilization.

This book is one that can be enjoyed by adults as well as tweens. You don’t have to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one. But warning: once you pick it up, set aside the afternoon, sit back, and hold on for the ride!



Meet David W. Thompson


Today I welcome Solstice author David W. Thompson. David is an award-winning author, a native of Southern Maryland, and a graduate of University of Maryland, University College. Prior to retirement from a position with a major Aerospace Corporation, he tried his hand at a variety of occupations – from grocery store clerk to warehousing, shoveling coal to construction. During his four-year stint with the U.S. Army, he was awarded the prestigious Army Commendation Medal (Arcom). When he isn’t writing, he enjoys time with his family and grandchildren, kayaking (mostly flat water please), fishing, hiking, hunting, wine-making, and pursuing his other “creative passion”- woodcarving.

He feels his characters carved little niches in his mind- showing their worlds, and their possibilities. He hopes to honestly convey the stories they whisper in his ears.

Today he’s talking about Sister Witch: The Life of Moll Dyer. It’s Book 1 in the Legends of the Family Dyer series. Click here to view the book on Amazon. (Note the publication date!)

Late breaking news:

Sister Witch: The Life of Moll Dyer has won the prestigious Golden Quill award for the best paranormal novel of the year! See why!!

About the book: 

Moll Dyer wants to leave her troubles behind when she immigrates to the New World… but even an ocean cannot keep the Dyer family curse from following her! Wanting only to find peace, she fights injustice in a new land founded on tolerance, but ruled by bigotry. In 1607, the ancient enemy returns, and Moll takes a stand. 300 years later, is the world finally ready for Moll’s story?

Life in the British colonies is tough on man and woman. Hunger, disease, Indian attacks, and drought test the resolve of the settlers daily. But troubles for the Dyers include another threat. In this land of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and persistent greed, can Moll turn back the evil alliance formed against her and her bloodline? Or will hell’s bloody wrath extinguish her dream of a new life in the New World? How far will she go to protect her family and their world?

Faith despite Betrayal. Courage in the face of Injustice. The triumph of love.

The legend of Moll Dyer originated in earliest colonial Maryland. Despite 300 years of civilization, and the advent of scientific reason, Moll’s name is still often heard there, especially around campfires late at night, or as a warning to misbehaving little people. Her spirit is often seen as a wisp of unnatural fog in the swampy woodlands near her homestead, with her half-wolf companion at her side.



E-book: click here

263 pages

Published October 31, 21017 by Solstice Publishing



Why did you decide to write this book?

Moll Dyer’s story has intrigued me since I was a child. I’ve heard snippets of her tale for as long as I remember. It seems every local family has their own version of Moll’s life and tragedy. I felt she was maligned for too long. As if her horrid death wasn’t enough, she was cast in legend as a villain. She was a pariah in life and I hoped to give her some semblance of peace and acceptance in death. As it has been suggested to me that my ancestors may have been involved in the tragedy, perhaps I owed her that on a personal level. I hope I succeeded.

What genre is your book?

The way I categorize it is paranormal historical fiction. Magical Realism is a more recent term and Sister Witch won the Editors-Preditors poll as best in that category for 2017.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Character driven. I love stories with well developed characters whose actions propel the narrative. Characters that make things happen, and not just have things happen to them—that creates a more relatable story to me.

What makes your book unique?

Several things: It is a paranormal story with a strong social conscience. It aligns three distinct cultures- Old World, New World and Native American. It has a strong female protagonist which—although not undone—I still find rare in paranormal stories. I felt my grand-girls needed better examples than that! Although male characters play important parts, there are no fawning damsels in need of a male hero here.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I guess I ‘m weird, as I do both. I start out with a vague idea, then write my main characters intro. By now I know him/her/them a bit better and jot down a very loose outline with plot points I anticipate. These change, and the outline gets fleshed out as the story progresses and my new friends tell me their tale. Moll Dyer became so real to me that I conversed with her in my dreams.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I switch up my routine depending on the story. With Sister Witch, I was limited with surnames as Maryland was a very small colony at the time. Some I choose from “Baby Names” books that give the meaning behind them. Other names just seem to fit the person I’m writing about and I’ve been known to change the name at the mid-point of the novel when I learn more about them.

How do you decide on the setting?

Thus far, my settings have been areas I am very familiar with or have lived in. I don’t always name them as such but setting is too important to me to rely on descriptive snippets from Google or recollections from a weekend trip.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No, I am a terrible introvert and I think that is pretty common for writers. There’s a bunch of writers who’ve influenced me however: Emerson, Poe, Camus, Thoreau and Tolkien. Don’t think I’m putting myself in the same category and I don’t try to emulate them but I can see their influence in my own writing.

What’s your writing schedule?

I don’t set a schedule in stone and I often take breaks when I hit a snag or a spot in my plot where “I can’t get there from here.” I do set goals (that I sometimes reach)- not for word count but to reach a certain point in the story. I get very single-minded with any project and need to be reminded when the mundane needs of life need to be addressed.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I keep a pad with me usually and write down thoughts or corrections that pop into my head (at mostly inappropriate moments). I bring it all together on my couch looking out over a massive field with my laptop on my…lap.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you so much for this interview, Nancy! Getting exposure is very important for new writers and your efforts are most appreciated!

Where can readers find you?

Amazon author page:





Bonus review!

I didn’t read this book, but read the second in the series, His Father’s Blood, the story of John Dyer, Moll’s great-great-grandson. Loved it! I enjoyed how David W. Thompson took a local legend and has made an engaging series out of it.

The great-great-grandson of Moll Dyer, John Dyer, only yearns for a place to call home. He sets out to homestead on lonely Devils Peak, and when he meets Ada Hartman, the daughter of travelling preacher Earnest Hartman, he has hopes that his dreams might come true. But life is not simple for John; his personal history and family history don’t allow it. He faces is needs invite tragedy. He’s betrayed by Sally Ann, a local woman who manipulates him into helping her. Using John’s teachings and magic, she opens herself to truly evil forces, who are determined to obliterate John and his heritage from the earth.

David W. Thompson has a very natural way of writing and of shifting viewpoints not only between men and women, but also between old and young, friend and foe, and good and evil. He also explored the true meaning of friendship. In addition, by creating Ada as the daughter of a travelling preacher, the author was able to bring up serious theological questions, examining the idea of a ‘Creator’ vs the ‘creations.’

For me, the book flowed naturally from any angle I looked at it: historical fiction, paranormal, horror, romantic suspense, magical realism. It was paced well, and I wasn’t really sure how it was going to end. In fact, I read the last few chapters two times! The first time, because I wanted to see what happened, and the second, to go back and savor the details.

I highly recommend this book.

Book reviews

Hey everyone,

I’m having so much fun reading and writing book reviews, I decided I’d collect a few of them and publish them here. So here goes:

Building Baby Brother by Steven Radecki



Building Baby Brother is a fascinating book, with themes on multiple levels, from the impacts of AI to what it means to be a parent. A dad wants to do the best for his son and uses his engineering skills to ‘create’ a baby brother. And, just like a person, baby brother grows in unexpected ways. The story is touching, funny, and wise, and will appeal to sci-fi fans, as well as to fans of family drama and YA.


The Magic of Murder by Susan Solomon

41dSeKJNurLI loved this book. It’s funny, clever, multi-layered, and rich with self-deprecating humor. The protagonist and amateur sleuth, Emlyn Goode, is a writer who has recently discovered her ancestry and family gift. As she works to master her powers, there’s a mystery to solve and a romance shimmering on the horizon. The well-planted red herrings, plot twists, and great characters kept me turning the pages. I’ll definitely read more in this series, and glad there are plenty of books to satisfy my craving for magic and murder!

Be sure to check out my interview with Susan! Click here.

Guarding Charon by KateMarie Collins

Guarding Charon-001I liked this book because it doesn’t slot neatly into a specific genre, and has elements of family drama, suspense, the occult, mythology, as well as a bit of romance. And the truly bad guy.

When Grace finds herself backed into a corner by her ex-boyfriend, in collusion with her clueless parents, she despairs. But rescue from an unexpected source takes her to a new life, complete with an immense inheritance. There’s a catch: she has to live in a spooky house and protect some serious secrets for six months. Of course, it’s confusing at first, but once embraced, it’s a dream come true, with surprises at every turn.

I love how KateMarie Collins based the story on the mythological Greek ferryman, Charon, who ferries the newly dead across the River Styx. I love how she brought this fable to modern times and created a compelling story. I’m definitely going to read the next in the series, and am hoping there will be more after that.

I interviewed Kate last week; check out the interview here.



Meet Debbie De Louise

debbiehicksvillenewsDebbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, the Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her novels include the three books of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series published by Solstice Publishing: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and Written in Stone. Debbie has also published a romantic comedy novella featuring a jewel heist caper, When Jack Trumps Ace, and has written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres. Debbie will also be featured in the upcoming Plots & Schemes 2 anthology, due out soon from Solstice Publishing. She lives on Long Island with her husband Anthony, daughter Holly, and cat Stripey.

reasontodieamazon190 pages

Published March 22, 2018

eBook & Kindle Unlimited:



About the book:

Someone is strangling disabled people in the small town of Baxter, Connecticut. Detective Courtney Lang and her ex-partner and ex-lover, wheelchair-bound Bill Thompson, are paired up again and put in charge of the investigation. During the course of their search, Courtney uncovers information that points toward a connection between the murders and an unsolved series of muggings by a masked man, the same man who shot and disabled Bill a year ago on the night he proposed marriage to her.

Complicating matters for Courtney is her guilt about Thompson’s shooting, her affair with her new partner, Mark Farrell, and her unresolved feelings over the deaths of her mother and sister who perished in a fire while she was away from home.

As the deaths accrue and the “Handicapped Strangler” as the killer is coined by the press continues to rampage the town adding victims of different ages, sex, and disabilities to the murder count, Courtney discovers a clue that could crack open the case but may put her and Bill’s life in jeopardy.

Why did you decide to write this book?

I had a dream about it. Although I changed some of the plot, the main idea of the book came to me in my sleep. I woke up and jotted down what I remembered and then began writing.

What genre is your book?

Mystery Thriller

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Most of what I write is character-driven. That’s not to say the plots don’t advance the stories, but I like to get inside the heads and hearts of my characters and let their motivations drive the plot.

What makes your book unique?

The theme of disabled people being murdered is one I haven’t heard of before.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I’m a pantster which means I allow the plot to unfold as I write. I do some initial planning, but most of that is very flexible to allow for creativity and spontaneity.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

In most cases, I just make them up. I did ask for readers to submit character names for a contest for this book, but I only used a few of those.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No, but there are many authors whom admire and would like to emulate.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I usually write in the morning before work. I try to write 1,000 words a day. It isn’t always easy because of other demands especially social media promotion.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve written in various genres, but I prefer mysteries. My new release is a standalone mystery thriller, but I also have a cozy mystery series. I also always include at least one cat and sometimes other pets in my books because I’m an animal lover and know that people enjoy reading books that feature animals.

Where can we find you?




Amazon Author Page:

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:

Sneaky the Library Cat’s blog:

Cobble Cove Character Chat Facebook Group: