Marilyn Meredith – Not As It Seems

I’d like to welcome back one of my favorite mystery authors, Marilyn Meredith.


Me an bouquet

Marilyn Meredith now lives in the foothills of the Southern Sierra, about 1000 feet lower than Tempe’s Bear Creek, but much resembles the fictional town and surroundings. She has nearly 40 books published, mostly mysteries. Besides writing, she loves to give presentations to writers’ groups. She’s on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association, and a member of Mystery Writers of America and three chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter.

Not as It Seems

Tempe and Hutch travel to Morro Bay for son Blair’s wedding, but when the maid-of-honor disappears, Tempe tries to find her. The search is complicated by ghosts and Native spirits.

What Inspired Not as it Seems?

Since this is a question I like to ask other authors, I’m happy to answer this one. Like most of my books, several things percolated in my brain before they combined to become a story.

Far too many murders have been happening in and around Bear Creek. Because of the Cabot Cove syndrome, I wanted to take Tempe someplace new to solve a crime. Because Tempe’s son, Blair, announced his engagement in the last book, River Spirits, going to Morro Bay for the wedding seemed logical. Plus I love Morro Bay and have many friends who live in the nearby area.

Blair’s bride-to-be is Ethiopian with a bit of Italian blood, so I needed to do a bit of research into her Ethiopian heritage. While doing that, I came across the disappearing hitch-hiker legend which has Ethiopian and biblical roots and of course it had to be woven into the plot.

As all plots do, it began reaching out to many other levels, the spirits of the Native people in the Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo area, the beautiful places to hike and visit, and the residential care business for people with mental illness.

To see how it all fits in, you’ll have to read Not as it Seems.

Here is an excerpt:

Tempe and her husband, Hutch, traveled to Morro Bay for her son Blair’s wedding. Blair asked Hutch to officiate at the ceremony, and both he and Tempe looked forward to meeting Blair’s fiancée and her family.

Soon after checking into the Bay Cottage Inn, on one of the main streets of Morro Bay leading toward the beach, Blair arrived.

Her son’s anguished expression alarmed Tempe. .

“Oh, honey.” She hugged him. “What’s wrong?”

Blair sank into a chair at the table in the small room. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep anything from you. Amaresh’s best friend is missing.”

“What do you mean?”

“No one has heard from her and we’ve talked to everyone who knows her and she doesn’t seem to be anywhere. Amaresh is so upset I don’t know whether or not we’ll be able to go through with the wedding.”

“You have gone to the police, right?”

“Of course. They were reluctant at first to even take the report. The desk sergeant went through the rigmarole that Kathy, that’s her name, Kathy Welling, is an adult and has the right to disappear if she so desires.”

“Amaresh became so angry I was afraid of what she might say. Though her eyes blazed, she explained carefully that Kathy is one of her best friends and was looking forward to being the maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. Finally the officer took down all the information, but I don’t think the police are doing much about it.”

“Oh, honey, that’s terrible. Have you checked with her family and all of her friends?”

“Of course, Mom, but no one knows anything.”

“What do you want me to do?” Tempe asked.

“I was hoping you’d ask. Do you think you could see what you could find out?”

Tempe glanced at Hutch who ran his fingers through his already mussed auburn hair and frowned.

He said, “Don’t you think it would be better if the investigation was left up to the local police department?”

Blair shook his head. “No, I don’t. They aren’t going to work fast enough for Amaresh. What do you say, Mom?”


Character Naming Contest:

Once again, I’ll name a character after the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting with Linda Thorne where I mentioned how I used her name for one of the characters in Not as it Seems.

Marilyn and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment and you may end up in Marilyn’s next novel.

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Jackie Taylor Zortman – Footprints in the Frost

This week my guest is author, Jackie Taylor Zortman.

Gravatar 2015

Jackie Taylor Zortman is an award winning published writer/author. Her book “We Are Different Now” tells of her journey with grief after the accidental death of her 21-year-old grandson when he fell 100 feet off a mountain ledge in the pitch black of night on July 5, 2010.

In June 2015, her first place award winning fiction novel “Footprints InThe Frost” was  released by Oak Tree Press as a Dark Oak Mystery.

She has written and had published numerous articles and short stores for various publications via The Public Safety Writers Association since 1994 and has won five writing awards. She is a contributing author to the anthologies “Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides”, “American Blue” and “The Centennial Book of the National Society of Daughters of the Union”. She has poetry published in “Echoes From the Silence” and “Dusting Off Dreams”. She also contributed to Lyn Ragan’s book “Signs From The Afterlife” released in January 2015. In addition, she also writes genealogy and history.

In July 2013, she won two awards in the Public Safety Writers Association’s Writing Contest for her articles “Amache” and “The Siege at Cortez”. In July 2014 she won three awards, including First Place for her novel manuscript “Footprints in the Frost” and articles “Just Routine” & “In God We Trust”.

She lives in a bustling quaint tourist town in the beautiful mountains of Colorado with her husband and both are now retired.

Footprints in the Frost

First place award winning novel, “Footprints in the Frost” introduces homicide detective, Max Richards, and involves his life both on the job and away from it.  When he is hand-picked by the chief of police to work a long and complicated serial rape case involving five beautiful victims with whom he must spend much time, his life with girlfriend and bookstore owner, Sami Murphy, becomes extremely complicated.  Escaping from the city hustle and bustle to his beautiful and remote Colorado mountain cabin, the two of them attempt to relax and try to untangle the knots in their relationship.  What will happen to this couple who are tremendously bonded, but have to decide if their jobs and lives can meld permanently or if it would be better to go their separate ways?

Here is an excerpt from Footprints in the Frost:

At 5:00 Max pulled on his beige London Fog trench coat as he sauntered toward the elevator.  After long years on the force, he no longer wore a uniform, but this familiar garb seemed to be quite “uniform” among the men who made up the detective units of the police department.

The door to the elevator opened and Max stepped in among the men and women in uniforms or suits and the chic secretaries or female officers taking it to the ground floor.  Reaching the lobby, he exited out the front door.  As he approached the parking garage, he couldn’t help but puff with pride at the sight of his car.  The many hours of his loving care had paid off.  The Corvette and his mountain cabin were hard-earned and Max’s only luxuries.  After high school, he had raced cars professionally for a time and the thrill of speed still remained inside his heart.  It was probably one of his two vices – the other being a fondness for the lovely ladies.

Pulling into the rush hour traffic, Max noted that the rain beaded up on the waxed hood and was secretly pleased with himself.  Minutes later, he was in front of Sami’s bookstore where the CLOSED sign hung on the front door.  Knocking three times, Max was admitted by Sami who had only one boot on and was busy tucking her knit shirt into her jeans while she bounced on her unshod foot.

“Hi!  Did you remember to bring your thermos?  There’s a pot of coffee waiting to go with us.”

Sami was of average height and her figure was slim, but curvy.  She had eyes the same shade of blue as robin’s eggs.  Her irises were outlined by a deep violet ring and her eyes were fringed with a double row of long, black lashes.  She wore her thick, almost black, curly hair long and well below her shoulders.  Max had a preference for brunettes and was secretly proud that she looked so much younger than he did, even though he was merely two years older.

“It’s in the car.  I’m gonna load your luggage into the trunk before I change clothes and I’ll bring it in when I come back.”

“Okay, good idea.”

Max gathered Sami’s luggage and stepped back outside into the rain.  Within a few minutes, he returned to the store, soaking wet. “Do you mind if I change and hang up my wet duds in the back, Babe?”  Max had a propensity to call all of the women who wandered in and out of his life “Babe”.  And Sami well knew the reason for that, but it didn’t bother her.  She knew that, while some may have considered that to be chauvinistic, Max truly liked women and had a great respect for them.

“Not at all, but give me the thermos and I’ll fill it.  I hope this rain doesn’t go as far as Colorado with us.”  Sami tilted her head up at his rain-soaked handsome face and smiled invitingly, as Max reached a wet hand out to give her his thermos bottle.  “It could be kind of cozy, though.”

She couldn’t help but notice the numerous white scars on his right hand and wrist.  One night on duty, after a long and exhausting foot chase, the suspect had jumped into a parked car and locked the doors, refusing to come out or roll down the windows so that Max could talk to him.  Max, being Max, simply put his fist through the window of the driver’s side door, reached in and unlocked it, pulled the door open, the guy out and pushed him up against the side of the car where he held him there with his cut and bleeding hand.  He didn’t talk about those scars with anyone, but she’d asked him about it once.  There were other job related subjects that he never wanted to discuss, even though she knew about them.  Just not from him.  She handed him a towel to dry his face, hands and hair.  Then he took her softly in his arms and slowly kissed her.  She adored this big man and the kiss jarred her, as his kisses always did.

My ✰✰✰✰✰ review:

In Footprints in the Frost, the author interweaves a romance, a crime, police detection and court procedure into a story that’s skillfully written. The Colorado mountain setting is breathtaking. While the crime is a large part of the story, the reader is immediately drawn into the two main character’s thoughts and actions. Sami, the bookstore owner, is cautiously in love. She puts up with quite a lot from Max, the police detective, who says he’s also in love, but neglects Sami for long periods of time because of his job, and seems to be totally unaware that his flirtations and interactions with other women might cause her pain. Sami and Max stay in the reader’s mind throughout the story, as their ups and downs on the way to making a more permanent commitment will have the reader continually turning pages to find out if they will ever make it to the altar.

CF with PSWA - Footprints in the Frost

Jackie Taylor Zortman
Author: FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST – First Place Award Winning Novel
Author: WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW – A grandparent’s journey through grief.
Amazon Author:
Member: Public Safety Writers Association
Winner of 5 Writing Awards

Jackie and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.



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Patricia Gligor – Mistaken Identity

I’m please to welcome back one of my favorite authors, Patricia Gligor

Patricia Gligor

Patricia Gligor is a Cincinnati native. She enjoys reading mystery/suspense novels, touring and photographing old houses and traveling. She has worked as an administrative assistant, the sole proprietor of a resume writing service and the manager of a sporting goods department but her passion has always been writing fiction. Ms. Gligor writes the Malone Mystery series. The first three books, Mixed Messages, Unfinished Business, and Desperate Deeds take place in Cincinnati but in Mistaken Identity, the fourth book, her characters are vacationing on Fripp Island in South Carolina.

Introducing New Characters

One of my favorite things about writing my Malone mystery series is creating new characters and introducing them to readers. In Mistaken Identity, the fourth book in the series, readers will get to meet and know Clara Brunner, an eccentric and interesting woman. Here’s a glimpse into her personality when she meets my main character, Ann, and her children for the first time.

Ann watched as a woman, dressed in hot pink from her floppy, wide brimmed straw hat to her sandals, made her way through the sand, hurrying toward them. She carried a matching oversized beach bag with a small, furry dog peeking out over the rim of the bag.

Clara stuck out her hand and reached down to shake Danielle’s hand. “Why that’s just a darlin’ name. How old are you, Sweetheart?”

“I’m eight but I’ll be nine next month.”

“Well, you’re just as pretty as a picture. What I wouldn’t give to have your thick, long brown hair. Believe it or not, mine used to be the same color. Even had the same golden highlights in it. But that was a long time ago.” Clara glanced at Ann, then turned back to Danielle. “And you’ve got your Mama’s beautiful brown eyes.”

Danielle jumped up and pointed to the little dog. “Oh, Mom, look! A Yorkie! Mrs. Brunner, may I pet him?”

“Why, of course you can, Darlin’. His name’s Sugar.” She gently pulled the dog from her bag and nuzzled his neck. “That’s cause he’s the sweetest little thing God ever made. Aren’t you, Sugar? Aren’t you?”

Danielle stuck out her hand tentatively.

“Don’t worry, he won’t bite. He’s real gentle. He’s what they call a teacup Yorkie. Why he barely weights four pounds soakin’ wet. They’re known for being energetic, brave, loyal and clever.”

Danielle gently petted Sugar’s head. “He’s so cute! And so soft!”

“Here, Darlin’.” Clara handed the little dog to Danielle. She took off her cover up, revealing a skirted one-piece hot pink bathing suit, and tossed it on top of her beach bag,. “Just hold onto him, Darlin’. He might try to get away. He loves to chase those dang seagulls.” She plopped down in a lounge chair. “Sure is a hot one today, isn’t it? Why, if it wasn’t for this light breeze, we’d all be toast.” She removed the wide brimmed straw hat she was wearing, revealing her short, curly, silvery gray hair, and using the hat to fan herself, she turned toward Ann. “Marnie’s told me all about you. From what she says, you’re a regular Nancy Drew.”

Mistaken Identity

Ann feels like she’s in Paradise as she digs her toes into the soft, white sand and gazes out at the ocean. She’s looked forward to this trip to South Carolina for a long time and all she wants to do is bask in the sun, resting and relaxing.

She and her two young children are enjoying their time on Fripp Island with Ann’s sister, Marnie, and Marnie’s elderly friend and former neighbor, Clara Brunner, a long time resident with a vast knowledge of the island and the people who live there. At the fourth of July fireworks, Clara introduces them to newlyweds Jenny and Mark Hall and their families.

But Ann’s plans for a peaceful vacation are shattered the next morning. When she goes for a solitary walk on the beach, she discovers the body of a young woman with the chain of a gold locket twisted around her neck and she immediately recognizes the locket as the one Jenny Hall was wearing the night before.

Shocked and saddened, Ann is determined to try to find the killer and to see them brought to justice. She convinces Marnie and Clara to join her in conducting an investigation but, in the process, she places her own life in jeopardy.

MISTAKEN - Cover Mock 12

Patricia’s books are available at:

Visit her website at:

Patricia and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.


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Jeanne Meeks – Gator Bait

This week, I’m welcoming back mystery author, Jeanne Meeks.


Jeanne Meeks describes herself as a outdoors woman,  a late bloomer, and a cheerleader for women who try.  In 2007 she dared herself to backpack across the Grand Canyon. There she was inspired by a tragedy in the canyon to write her first novel, Rim to Rim, which was nominated at a Chicago mystery writers convention for Best First Novel in 2014. Wolf Pack, the second in the Backcountry Mystery series, soon followed.

Jeanne winters in Florida where days are filled with tennis, golf, and parties. Her tennis teams supported her first two books, but teased her until she agreed to write a story around them. Gator Bait was born.

Jeanne comes from a family of ten, has two sons, loves wildflowers, kayaking, camping, golf, reading, and gardening, and occasionally has fits of baking. She adores her five grandchildren and loves to teach them outdoor skills.

After twenty-eight years in business, Ms. Meeks and her husband, Bob, sold their security surveillance company, so she now writes full time and lives in Illinois and Florida.

Gator Bait – A Tennis Team Mystery

( fiction/ light mystery/ female amateur sleuth)

Can the Paradise Palms tennis team save their favorite alligator after he drags the body of a flashy real estate developer to the bottom of his pond?

A volunteer at the nature preserve spots a body bobbing in the pond at the same time as Big Joe sees his next meal. Convinced of the gator’s innocence, Packi Walsh rallies her new tennis team, the fourth-grade science class, and the local motorcycle gang to campaign to save Big Joe’s hide.

Packi’s snooping uncovers real estate fraud and irate investors, an affair between a trophy wife and her tennis pro, and a connection between the friendly neighborhood pharmacist and the New Jersey mob.

Now someone is trying to silence Packi by making her gator bait.

An excerpt from Gator Bait – A Tennis Team Mystery

The door slammed harder than Deputy Teig intended, but he loathed leaving the cool air of the cruiser just because some busybody old lady reported that a damn fool jumped in a pond. Probably a college student on spring break, still drunk from last night.

He stopped in the preserve’s sandy parking lot to straighten his hat and assume a public-friendly face. Visitors in goofy hats and Hawaiian shirts milled around the entrance pavilion, desperate to entertain grandchildren with a volunteer-led tour of the slough. He marched past with a nod.

“God, I hate this humidity,” he said under his breath. And the old snowbirds that flock here and ruin our state, create traffic nightmares, and have heart attacks.

What do those people come to the slough for anyway? Bunch of trees, couple of birds. You go into the swamp to hunt pigs, that’s what. His stomach growled and he smacked his lips, thinking of last year’s barbecue. He walked right into a spiderweb. “Damn it!” He waved his arms to destroy the web, pulled sticky strands from his chin, and spat to remove one from his lip. Ugh.

Teig regarded the jungle of cypress and shook his head at the dispatcher’s incompetence. Tanya should’ve said which pond. He dreaded choosing the wrong direction and walking the entire two-mile loop. A posted map showed four ponds, so he chose the clockwise route toward the largest pond and trudged into the stinking swamp.

Within ten minutes, his shirt clung to his chest. Sweat stained the armpits. He regretted leaving his ice water in the cruiser, and the slow flow of water beneath the boardwalk made his tongue seem drier and thicker.

As he stomped along, he became aware that fat quivered beneath the skin of his belly. I gotta get in shape. He remembered flat abs during his academy days. What? Twelve years ago. The wooden walkway shook beneath him, and he vowed to lose weight. No excuses.

Otter Pond and Duckweed Pond were deserted. He called out, but got no answer. Irritated, he plodded on, deeper into the swamp. He needed a breather, leaned against the railing, and bent to tighten a shoe lace. That was a mistake. He grunted and wheezed as he grasped a post to haul himself up and almost missed a faint sound.

A kitten? The memory of his mother bent over his injured cat flashed through his mind.

The mewling came from further along the boardwalk, but faded. Teig quickened his steps. He studied the brackish water and peered through tangled vines and cabbage palms until a woman appeared. Caucasian, five-two, fifty, thin. She had short blonde hair and wore pink beneath one of those stupid volunteer vests.

“Officer! Officer!” She waved, hopping and jumping as if he was a rock star. He raised his hand above his head in greeting.

“Thank goodness, you’re here.” She sounded shrill, on edge, not at all like a kitten. She pointed up a narrow boardwalk branching away from the main route. “He was over there, in the middle of the pond.”

A hint of crow’s feet at the corner of her eyes and a softness to her skin put her nearer to sixty than fifty. Probably a great looking woman in her time.

She grabbed his arm and tried to drag him toward the pier.

“Hold on there, ma’am.” He patted the little lady’s hand, still on his arm, and stood his ground. She needs to calm herself. “I’m Deputy Billy Teig. Tell me your name.”

She closed her eyes and lowered her voice an octave. “Nice to meet you. I’m Patricia Walsh. Friends call me Packi.”

“Okay, Mizz Walsh, what happened?”

“My phone fell into the water, and I couldn’t tell the dispatcher.” Her hands flitted like nervous sparrows.

“What’s the emergency, Mizz Walsh?”

“I’m sorry.” She took a long breath and blew air from her cheeks. “I saw a man in the water––through my binoculars.” She held up the oversized lenses suspended from her neck. Her brows scrunched together.


She jerked her head a quick no. “Dead, I think.”

Hot adrenaline rushed to the surface of his skin. “Show me where.” He hurried in the direction she pointed.

On the viewing deck, the deputy shaded his eyes from the blinding sun and scanned the surface of the large pond. Nothing but the usual birds. “Where is he?”

She spread her arms open over the water in a helpless gesture. “He’s gone.”

“Mizz Walsh, if he was dead, how could he be gone? Are you sure it was a body?”

The woman’s lip quivered. Trying not to cry, he suspected. She ran her hands through her hair, dislodging her hat.

“Big Joe took him,” she whispered.

“You mean the gator?” Deputy Teig’s hand went to his gun.

My Review:

This first novel in the Paradise Palms Tennis Team series sets the tone for more wonderful stories to come. Packi is an enjoyable character to read. She has the same problems and insecurities as many women do at her age, so she’s not perfect. And her teammates are much the same. The setting is so well-described, you can picture Big Joe, the alligator, swimming in the pond at the nature preserve with only his eyes and snout above the water line. Kind of ominous. And just when you think the suspense is over, it starts again. This story kept me turning pages well into the night. An excellent first novel in the new series. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did.

gator official cover

Website / blog:

Links to  Amazon / Kindle :   

Gator Bait  –  

Rim To Rim –  

Wolf Pack –

Jeanne and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Peggy Hanson – Deadline Yemen

This week I’m hosting author, Peggy Hanson.

Peggy brown scarf

Peggy Hanson is an author and travel blogger who loves to share her international life with her readers. Peace Corps,Voice of America, teaching of English–all these have played major roles in her life. Growing up in a series of small towns in Colorado, the daughter of a mountain-climbing Congregational minister and teacher, probably helped mold her affinity to nomadism. In her adult life, she’s lived for extended periods in Turkey, Yemen, India and Indonesia. Her first two books are mysteries in the Elizabeth Darcy series set in other countries: DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN. She is currently working on the third in that series, DEADLINE INDONESIA, and is also compiling and editing her great aunt Mary’s diaries and letters and pictures from 1888-1920 when she was a missionary teacher and principal in the Balkans. The working title of the diaries is MISS MATTHEWS OF MACEDONIA. or UNHOLY DEATH ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.  It is a story of early feminism and a woman’s bravery in the face of war.

In the past, Peggy has contributed travel articles to magazines in India. Recently she has started travel blogging and Her most recent blog is entitled THE TURKISH DELIGHTS: Women to Travel With, Women to Love.

When time permits, Peggy leads groups of friends to Turkey. And she travels with her economist husband and with a group of close friends who call themselves The Delights. Read the blog on to learn more about that group of amazing women! Peggy lives near Washington D.C. with her husband and two energetic kittens.

Deadline Yemen

Called to Yemen to help her old friend Halima, correspondent Elizabeth Darcy combines work with the chance to repay an old debt. But the narrow, mysterious streets are populated with armed men and veiled women; who can tell friend from foe? Her first priority is to help Halima’s young brother Ali, who has become involved with religious extremists. But murder dogs her footsteps, and she is under police surveillance. Abducted along her investigative trail, Elizabeth is drawn into the terrorists’ web. She must work with two men—one Yemeni, one British—who are on a mission of their own. What are their plans? And why have they all ended up in the remote Hadhramaut wadi where the Incense Road once began? Elizabeth pieces together the plot, hoping she’s in time to save Halima and Ali. But can she save herself as well?

Here is an excerpt:

The perpetual charm of Arabia is that the traveler finds his level there simply as a human being. Freya Stark, A Winter in Arabia 1997

It’s a myth that a woman needs a male escort in the Middle East. My taxi driver treated me just as he would any man: he tried to cheat me.

“Fifty riyals?” I asked in mock amazement, leaning into the window. “I won’t pay more than thirty.” My Arabic was rough but, within these parameters, understandable.

The driver I’d selected from the line of jalopies adjusted his loose turban, shifted his wad of qat to one side of his mouth, spat green juice onto the ground and gestured for me to get in—a magnanimous act of compromise on the price. He didn’t offer to help me, so I pushed my carry-on into the front seat and crawled into the plastic-covered back seat. The dashboard had fake fur all over it and looked like a poor ragged animal that had had a hard winter. Egyptian music whined from the radio. I didn’t even look for a seat belt.

The e-mail had arrived in the Trib newsroom in Washington three days earlier. Its heading said, “from Halima in Sana’a.” The message itself was spare: “Come. Please.”

Halima is not the sort to exaggerate. Given the debt I owed her—in truth, my life—my reaction was intense and personal. And here I was.

I’d had a companionable chat on the plane with a charming international type who said his name was Michael Petrovich, so I hadn’t expected to be taking a taxi alone in the middle of the night. I’d thought I’d be dropped off at the hotel in gentlemanly fashion. But plane relationships often don’t last past the luggage carousel, and this one was no different.

He’d turned to me as we watched the line of shabby bags squeak past, stuck out his hand, and with an ambiguous look in his eyes, said, “Elizabeth, this has been a pleasure. More than you can know. I hope to see you again in Sana’a. I’m being picked up for a meeting. Will you be all right?” Petrovich’s gray eyes looked regretful through the haze from passengers lighting up after the flight.

Meeting at midnight?

“Of course!” I laughed. “I’m fine.”

I picked up my carry-on and marched out into chill desert mountain air to the row of jalopies at the taxi stand while he still waited for his luggage. I travel light and unencumbered. The man from the front seat of the plane, the quiet one with khaki pants and a laptop who’d watched as Petrovich and I had walked up and down the plane at the Cairo stop, stood at the baggage carousel waiting for his luggage, too. I’d nodded briskly and felt his gaze follow me.

“Peggy Hanson’s Deadline Yemen is terrific. She brilliantly captures its mystery and its fascination, and yes, its dangers as well. I know—I’ve been there.” – Charles Todd, author of the Ian Rutledge Mysteries and the Bess Crawford mysteries.

 “I love learning something new when I read fiction, and Deadline Yemen fills the bill. This is more than a compelling mystery. It’s an education about a place filled with complications, paradox, conflict and deep beauty. In short, this book is a treasure.” – Anne Hillerman, author of Spider Woman’s Daughter, a Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee mystery.

Deadline Yemen cover by Anne

Deadline Yemen cover by Anne

Other books in the series:

Deadline Istanbul

Deadline Indonesia – coming soon!


Twitter @phanusa2

Buy Links:

Deadline Istanbul

Deadline Yemen

Peggy has chosen to do a book giveaway for Deadline Yemen. She’ll pick one winner from the readers who leave comments. So please feel free to do so. and good luck to everyone. 

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Suzanne Burke – Logan & The Mystical Collar

This week, I’m hosting author, Suzanne Burke.

Suzanne_Burk (7 of 9)

Suzanne Burke, a native of Richmond, Virginia currently lives in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, with her retired racing greyhounds. She has more than ten years’ experience working with the greyhound breed as a volunteer for the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas. Suzanne also has more than 15 years’ experience in the information technology field in project management and technical writing.

Logan and the Mystical Collar

Logan the greyhound is off on another exciting adventure! After he is given a special birthday gift—a collar adorned with hieroglyphics, found in an old dusty antique shop—Logan is miraculously transported to the land of Ancient Egypt. He finds himself along the Nile River outside of the seaport city of Alexandria, where he meets a famous royal figure and her regal greyhounds. Together, they discover the mysteries and secrets of the Pharos lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Logan also illustrates a powerful lesson in leadership when he challenges his nemesis Zeus, a muscular greyhound and the queen’s bodyguard, in the biggest, most important race of his life!

Written in Logan’s voice, Logan and the Mystical Collar is a story of courage, friendship, and perseverance. Readers will cheer for big-hearted Logan as he overcomes bullying, gains the trust of strangers, and helps change the world of those around him. Children and adults will learn many intriguing facts about historical Ancient Egypt, and children can gain valuable life lessons on how to deal with bullying.

Ages 7 and up. Contains illustrations and educational projects at the end for children to expand their vocabulary, critical thinking and creative writing skills.

Here is an excerpt:

I opened my eyes to the view of rich sands along the banks of a beautiful flowing river. Several greyhounds were sunning themselves on the sandy shore, while others were wading in the cool blue water. Where exactly was I and how did I get here? I was struggling to get my bearings when suddenly I heard a melodic voice speak. All the greyhounds perked up their ears and dashed toward the source of the voice. A graceful figure emerged from the distance. Was this a mirage? Was I really seeing a beautiful young woman? And who was she?

She was picturesque standing on the riverbank with a towering muscular black dog by her side. All the greyhounds seemed cautious in this dog’s presence. The woman was draped in flowing white fabric, and golden trinkets adorned her arms and hair. She snapped her fingers and the other greyhounds ran to greet her, wagging their long, slender tails. The woman knelt down, accepted the showering kisses the greyhounds offered her, and giggled at their affection.

She gradually stood up, cocked her head slightly, and with curiosity asked me to come to her. She seemed to come from royalty, commanding such respect from this group of greyhounds. I wondered whether they belonged to her.

I began to walk slowly toward her, being careful not to show my bravado too boldly in front of the imposing black greyhound, which didn’t budge from her side. He had a piercing stare and his eyes did not back down from mine, as I carefully approached the young woman. I did not feel any fear—quite the opposite. I felt more curiosity than anything. Who was she, and who was the big black greyhound?

“Tell me, fair one, what is your name?” the young woman asked, curiously. I was mesmerized by her beauty and thought she looked like a goddess. Was she talking to me?

“Uh, uh, my name is Logan,” I stammered.

“You have such fair colored fur, not like the others. From where do you come?” she inquired. As I looked around at all the other greyhounds now surrounding her, I became acutely aware that I was the only golden-colored greyhound. Why were all the other greyhounds black and gray? I hadn’t noticed this before.

“Logan, that’s such an unusual name. You are not Egyptian,” she said.

Huh? Egyptian? Of course, I was not Egyptian—I am an American! Still unsure of my surroundings, I was growing more confused by the minute. This was a weird place with very different looking people, but the greyhounds looked the same as my brothers and sisters at home. Otherwise, nothing else seemed familiar. I could see only beaches and black rich soil stretching for long distances and lots of blue flowing water. On one side of the river were very fertile lands of vegetation. The other side was starkly different, with red sand that seemed to go on for miles.

“Logan, where were you just now? You seemed to escape into some kind of deep thought,” the young woman asked.

“I was just surveying my surroundings. I am trying to figure out where I am,” I said.

“Logan, you are in Egypt, land of the Pharaohs, and I will be one of them someday,” she replied with a warm smile.

Pharaohs? Holy moly! They don’t have Pharaohs anymore, or at least I didn’t think so. I remember momma reading us a children’s story about Cleopatra just the other night, and this place sure seemed like what was described in the story. Could it be? If so, how did I get here?

“Logan, pay attention! We must move quickly to my quarters, lest you be seen, as you are a rare one and we don’t want you in any danger,” the woman commanded.

Logan Mystic Collar_BOOK COVER


Buy links:

Logan’s Secret

Logan and the Mystical Collar

Suzanne and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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L. Nahay – Red Moonglow on Snow

This week I’m hosting  a member of my writer’s group, author, L. Nahay.

L. Nahay

L. Nahay is an author of fiction-fantasy and an independent publisher through Midnight Tomorrow Books. She has always ever written. She is a mom to two monsters, and while she’d love to live the more wild way most of her characters do, she currently resides in Chicago. When not writing……life is just a little darker. But for occasional reminders of life outside her stories, she enjoys reading (other people’s stories), drawing, camping, hiking, traveling/exploring, and time with those monsters of hers. To date, she has published the first book of her fiction-fantasy series entitled Red Moonglow on Snow, and an urban fantasy short story called The Dryad. Red is available as both an ebook in all major platforms, and as a softcover through Amazon. The Dryad is an Amazon ebook only.

Red Moonglow on Snow

Lira had never wanted anything other than to leave the exile she’d been born into and return to Home, her family’s origin.

The moon had glowed red upon the snow the night that was to happen, but the man at her side was so beautiful and his promise so pure, that Home, she decided, could wait.

Today, three years too late, He’s finally ended her exile. Yet Home has become the last place she wants to be. She tries to hate the man she’d once loved, hate the place she’d once wanted, and hate Home’s people and the history she shares with them all, as they remind her of the life she did not get to live.

But she’s in His territory as well as her fractured family’s, and it’s exactly where she needs to be. To right so many wrongs, she must face the past and set it right before those traumas trickle down into the next generation.

Here is an excerpt:

I see nothing but heavy, suffocating blackness that drinks everything in without giving anything back. The wind whispers, howls, or screams around my head, yanking at strands of my tangled hair. I ignore it and stare, unblinking, ahead of me as though I can see.

A jagged horizontal strip of momentary brightness streaks across what I understand to be the line between sky and earth some miles ahead, giving a brief, doubtful view of something. Buildings? Trees? Why am I pointed towards it?

I inhale cautiously. The air is pungent with a wet earthy smell. Earth into sky, sky into air: Rain. Heavy, single, large drops of rain began to splatter upon my shoulders.

Something below me moves. A unicorn! “Get off me!” I twist and turn and fall sideways off the demon’s back.

[I’m not on you,] a voice snarls, agitated. The fall to the ground is further than I would have expected- if I’d had a mind to pay any attention- and the landing thrusts my elbow into my side, just under my ribs. I gasp from the added blinding pain of the arrow striking the ground as well, but struggle more to untangle my legs from something to get onto my feet. Damn dress!

[Are you done? That was a bit of an overreaction.]

“Go away!”

[If you can prove to me that you can care for yourself, I will.]

“I am perfectly capable of fending for myself!”

[I believe I said ‘care’, not ‘fend’. Get up and walk. Find yourself shelter. Eat something. Then, I’ll leave.]

I flatten onto my back, trying hard not to cry. Raindrops strike my face like malicious flicks of a finger. Incompetent. Touched. Worthless. Abandoned. Thrown. A. Way. “I hate you.”

[I think we can safely say that who you choose to love and who you choose to hate have been ridiculously off.]

“No, we can safely say that I completely hate you, you evil, repulsive beast!”

The grass is long and sticky, coming over my head and sticking to my shoulders and arms, the sides of my face, wrapping around my legs. Thinking about my legs makes the right one begin to throb. I can’t sit up to inspect it. Why is it hurting?

[You were struck by an arrow, remember?]

Don’t talk to me.

Lightning pierces through clouds above me. I want to pick my head up and use the flash of light to inspect whatever lay ahead, but my hair has rooted into the ground and my head won’t budge. “Are you here to kill me?”

[Am I allowed to speak to you now?]

“Are you?”

[No, Lira. I’m not here to harm you in any way.]

Thunder races Lightning overhead. I can’t decide who has won.

[Get on my back, Lira. I’ll carry you to shelter.]

How long has it been? How long have I been here?

[Only a few hours.]

My thigh burns.

[You bled all over me.]

“Stop listening to my thoughts! They’re mine! You kidnapped—” The word, the memory, chokes up the rest of my words. “Just, leave me here, please? Please just leave me here.”

[You don’t know where you are.]

“Does it matter?”

[Everything matters.]

“Leave me here!” I wish I could fade here. Close my eyes and drift away.

Movement beside me. I open my eyes and wait for them to help.

The boundary between night and the unicorn is a thin one. I’m in one big black ball of shadows within shadows. Night to camouflage a demon, how helpful.

[If you don’t stop with the insults……]

The fragile boundary moves again. The large unicorn body steps partially out of the night and begins to sink down beside me. Long, muscled legs fold beneath his body. I jump. That horn. That horn- where’s my knife? Will a dagger do anything against a unicorn?

“What are you doing?”

[I’m getting settled. I ran pretty hard too, you know. How long do you plan on staying here? It’s going to get very wet and very cold. And just so you know, you look horribly fragile despite your behavior on the hills.]

His gold horn sparkles with a dim light. The prismatic raindrops holding onto it scatter at the next boom of thunder. I stare, transfixed, waiting for it to happen again.

Scents of earth, the promise and yearning for rain and the softening grass pulls my head down, bombards my nostrils and sanity. Cold, damp ground permeates through the thin dress and chills my skin with more than a touch of spring frost.

I close my eyes, bring my bound hands up to my collar bone and clasp my fingers together so tightly my knuckles throb. It’s not spring. It’s autumn. It’s Talyn’s birthday.

[It’s been a long time since you’ve eaten.]

I turn my face away from him. Lightning comes again but stays longer. Through the grass I catch a better glimpse of whatever waits in the distance, but not enough to know what it is. “I just want to sleep. Sleep until you and everything else goes away.”

[You can sleep all you want, but nothing will have changed. It’s going to get very cold out here very soon, Lira. Get on my back. Let me continue to carry you. It’s not far. It’s just ahead.]

Lightning again brings a glimpse of what now looks like small, irregular mountains. Whatever it is leaps across the flatland towards me; calls out to me by my own name and a name— or a title— I’m not familiar with. I jerk back. The ghostly current carries Death’s smell. I relax again. Can I answer? Slip into night soundless, with morning leaving no trace I was ever here? I don’t want night. Night brings day. This will be real. I don’t want this to be real. “Where are you taking me?”

      [Just a place to sleep. Come, Lira. One movement at a time. And then you can sleep, I swear.]

I don’t want to move, don’t want to sleep. Want to sink into the earth and vanish. “Take me back.”

[I can’t,] the unicorn whispers sorrowfully into my head.

“I hurt.”

[We’ll see to your leg as soon as we can.]

“They took my baby,” I whisper. Hearing me speak it ripples right back over me as though I’m kneeling and bleeding in the hallway again, screaming until my soul and every window in the house shatters. But this time I can’t scream. I lay on my back and watch the blinding darkness, feel the same emptiness inside me. Where was I before I woke here, after she was taken? All I remember is darkness, like this, and feeling so abandoned. “He wasn’t there, Nightmare, and Others came and took our daughter. And now I’m here. I hurt, unicorn. I hurt so much.” On cue, my shoulder begins burning, the pain trailing down to mingle with the fire shooting out from the arrow. I’d had my arrow aimed at their chests but I’d hesitated. I had decided to call out to Him first instead.

[I’m very sorry, Lira. I’m here to help you, I swear.]

“Is a swear more reliable than a promise?”

[I take it The Ass You Reek Of made you a promise he did not keep.]

“It’s too late. He’s three years too late.”

[You don’t smell three years distant of him. His smell on you is overwhelming-]

“If I’m that revolting, go away!”

[It’s not you. It’s Him. But I think I’ll be able to tolerate it. Eventually. I swear to you, Lira, that I am here to help you. And yes, a swear is more reliable than a promise.]

There’s no stars. There’s no moon. We’re in the middle of something, in the middle of a storm, someplace in the void between thunder, lighting, rain and earth, in the void where life and worlds are born, where chaos is on pause.

Red Moonglow On Snow

To stay connected, learn more about her writing, and for social media links, check out her:

publisher website at

or her personal blog at

We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Dr. Betty Jean Craige – Downstream

This week, it’s my honor to host distinguished author, Dr. Betty Jean Craige.

BJ Craige and Cosmo

Betty Jean Craige is University Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and Director Emerita of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia.

She received her B.A. in Spanish Literature from Pomona College (1968) and her M.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1974) in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington.  She taught at the University of Georgia from 1973 to 2011.

Dr. Craige has published books in the fields of Spanish poetry, modern literature, history of ideas, politics, ecology, and art.  She is a scholar, a translator, a teacher, and a novelist.

Dr. Craige was Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Delta Prize for Global Understanding. Most recently she has written a murder mystery titled Downstream, published by Black Opal Books on November 26, 2014.

What inspired you to write this novel?

Let me tell you who inspired me to write Downstream. Novelist Terry Kay, who lives in Athens, Georgia, inspired me. He urged me to write fiction when our local newspaper discontinued my Sunday column, “Cosmo Talks,” about animal cognition. Cosmo is the loquacious African Grey parrot about whom I had written the book Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot (2010).

I retired from the University of Georgia in 2011, after thirty-eight years as a professor of comparative literature and eighteen years director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. For the last ten years I taught a course called “Ecocriticism” in which we studied ideas about nature after Darwin as well as current environmental issues. I became interested in the pharmaceutical pollution of our environment.

So I decided to use fiction to explore the problem of water contamination. I chose to write a murder mystery because I had been reading mysteries since childhood and I thought I could write one that would entertain the reader. Thanks to the web, I have become an expert on murder. But the mystery in my novel is not only about who did the murdering but also what was happening to the people in the town.  In Downstream a new estrogen-based longevity drug called Senextra keeps people alive and healthy well into their second century, but it has some environmental side effects. It causes fertility in a couple of post-menopausal women, undescended testicles in dogs, and extra feet in frogs.

How have your personal experiences affected your writing?

During my academic career I wrote a number of books on the history of ideas, including a biography of Eugene Odum, the ecologist who developed the ecosystem concept. The books all focused on the emergence of a holistic way of thinking about our environment and our global society. So when I started writing Downstream I wanted to show that we all live in an interactive whole, in which, for example, the infusion of pharmaceuticals in part of the system affects the whole system. I had originally called my novel “We All Live Downstream,” since we are all using water that has been affected by those humans and animals living upstream.

I set the story in a fictive town named Witherston, in north Georgia, a beautiful part of the country where we can still find wilderness and unpolluted waters. I have spent forty-two years of my life in Athens, Georgia, and have spent many weekends exploring the southern Appalachian mountains.

I live with an American Eskimo Dog named Mary and an African Grey Parrot named Cosmo. I once lived with four American Eskimo Dogs. I do love non-human animals. So in Downstream I gave almost every character a pet or two. One character has a Pacific Parrotlet named Darwin. In my second Witherston mystery, Fairfield’s Auction, I gave that same character an African Grey Parrot named Doolittle. Doolittle is a major character in that novel.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

I like the mysteries of Louise Penny, who sets her stories in a rural village in Quebec. Like Louise Penny, I want my readers to get to know and like all the characters of Witherston, and I want my readers to get involved in the solving of the mystery.

I also like the novels and essays of Barbara Kingsolver, whose values I share and whose writing I admire immensely.

What genre of books do you like to read? Do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write yourself?

I like to read mysteries and spy thrillers. I spent my career reading and teaching great literature, so I have been influenced by Western literature from Homer through the present. But in my retirement, I am reading mostly current novels.

I like movies too, especially cerebral thrillers and mysteries. I would love to make a movie as funny as Little Miss Sunshine.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

A friend who read the first draft told me that Downstream was “message heavy.” His wife told me the novel was “preachy.” Ooof.  I don’t even go to church, so I don’t know beans about preaching. But their honest criticism made me lighten the environmental message and try to make the novel funnier.

Another friend who read the published book told me that she “couldn’t put it down” and that she “laughed out loud” at some of the scenes. That was encouraging!

What project are you working on now?

I have completed the second novel in the “Witherston Murder Mystery” series. It’s called “Fairfield’s Auction.” And I am working on the third. I am also making a movie of Downstream.


At the celebration of his hundredth birthday, local billionaire Francis Hearty Withers announces to the people gathered on the front lawn of Witherston Baptist Church that he has finalized his will. In it he bequeaths $1 billion to his north Georgia hometown of Witherston and another $1 billion to be divided up equally among the town’s 4,000 residents—in recognition of their support of a Senextra pharmaceutical factory. Senextra is a drug that enables individuals to lead healthy lives well into their second century, but it has some unanticipated consequences.

          The group assembled to hear Withers’s announcement do not all applaud. One person carries a sign that says SENEXTRA VIOLATES MOTHER NATURE. Another, KEEP SENEXTRA OUT OF OUR SYSTEM. A third, WE DON’T NEED MORE OLD MEN.

          Withers flies into a rage. He vows to change his will and disinherit the community. Two days later he is found dead.

          In Betty Jean Craige’s first murder mystery a few humans die in unusual circumstances. (A few others live in unusual circumstances.) Who dunnit?

A Short Excerpt from CHAPTER 1 

Friday, May 22, 2015, Labor Day weekend, Witherston, Georgia:

Old Withers is gonna make us all rich!”

“I heard he plans to give everybody in Witherston a million dollars!”

“But that’s when he dies. And he looks pretty healthy to me.”

“He turns a hundred today. He’ll be dying soon!”

“Oh my God! Georgia’s beauty queen Rhonda Rather looks pregnant! Isn’t she a bit long in the tooth to be carrying a foal?”

“She must be over fifty! God in Heaven! I didn’t know that Mayor Rather—I’ve always called him Rotund Rather—was such a stud.”

“Dear Rhonda doesn’t want to be pregnant, and her daughter Sandra does. I heard that Sandra and Phil are getting fertility treatments.”

“Faith Folsom has a bulge in her belly too, and she’s older than dirt. Do you all think she’s pregnant?”

“Probably. She doesn’t have the sense God gave geese.”

“Oh but she does.”

“Jesus God, I pray it doesn’t happen to me.”

“Honey, bless your heart and don’t get me wrong but you are way too old, way, way too old! You’re almost old enough to go to Withers Village!”

“But they don’t accept girls there.”

“Lottie, come here! Look at Francis Hearty Withers all dressed up on stage acting holier than the High and Mighty just because he’s going to bless us with his unearned money. He thinks we’ll clap for him when Scorch unveils his statue.”

“Gretchen, did you know he paid Scorch $50,000 to make that statue?”

“I’m not giving Withers a single clap. The old geezer is an environmental criminal. He thinks he can use our town and our creek and our land for his toxin-producing Senextra factory.”

“Who’s that hunk in the blue suit?”

“The man talking to Dr. Folsom? He’s the CEO of BioSenecta, Dr. Martin Payne.”

“Well, good gracious, I’ll be darned! He’s sure easy on the eyes!”

“Francis Hearty Withers talked him into building a Senextra factory here.”

Detective Emma Evelyn Arroyo, “Mev” to her friends, heard these conversations as she walked through the crowd. She was on duty until 5:00, and her assignment was crowd control on the front lawn of Witherston Baptist Church. Rumors abounded that today Witherston’s local billionaire would announce the construction of a pharmaceutical factory on Founding Father’s Creek upstream from Witherston and that Witherston’s KEEP NATURE NATURAL environmentalists would protest. The Witherston Police Department, for which she worked, was on alert.

Mev spotted a group of teenagers wearing KEEP NATURE NATURAL T-shirts.

“Ladies and Gentlemen!” Mayor Rather bellowed into the microphone. “It’s 4:30 and time for a grand and glorious party! We’re here to celebrate the hundredth birthday of Witherston’s most famous citizen, actually Lumpkin County’s most famous citizen, Francis Hearty Withers. Thanks to all you folks for turning out for the occasion. Let’s give a big hand to Mr. Withers, the last of five generations of Withers residing on Founding Father’s Creek.”

Mev was relieved to hear only clapping, polite and restrained as it was. She was too preoccupied with her own immediate problem to share in her fellow Witherstonians’ excitement.

“Fellow citizens, I didn’t hear you. Let’s give a big, big, big hand to—let me drop a hint—Witherston’s most generous benefactor.”

More clapping.

Francis Hearty Withers sat smiling on stage in his navy Armani suit with his aqua Salvatore Ferragamo silk tie, holding his ivory-inlaid mahogany cane. He was flanked on one side by the tall, solemn, well-dressed Dr. Neel Kingfisher, who stood, and on the other by the overall-clad Scorch Ridge, a giant of a man, who also stood.

“Now let us sing ‘Happy Birthday!’”

Mayor Rather led the crowd of some three hundred men, women, and children in a spirited version of the song, which included the second verse usually sung for the very young:

“How old are you?

How old are you?

How old, how old

How old are you?”

 Mr. Withers stood up and raised both arms in triumph. “I’m one hundred years old, and going strong!”


Dr. Craige’s website:

Downstream can be purchased on

I’m sure Dr. Craige would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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F.M. Meredith – Violent Departures

This week, I’m pleased to welcome back one of my favorite mystery authors, F. M. Meredith.

Marilyn on cruise

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.

Who Am I Writing For?

That’s a very good question. The obvious answer would be for the reader. More specifically for the reader who likes mysteries, police procedurals, and books that are a bit more on the side of following clues to solve a case, rather than using modern equipment and forensic science.

The readers I’m writing for are the kind who like to know about the police officers’ private lives and how what goes on at home affects the job—and vice versa. That leads into the fact that I’m writing for those readers who enjoy seeing characters change and grow as a series unfolds.

I’m also writing for those who have become fans of my series. These folks are important to me and I work hard to make each book unique and entertaining.

There is also another person I’m writing for–me.

Yes, you read that correctly, I am writing for me too. I have been compelled to write since I was a kid. I wrote stories, articles for my own magazine that I put out one summer, and plays for the kids in my neighborhood to perform.

As a young wife and mother, my writing tended to be focused on PTA news and plays for my Camp Fire Girls to star in as money-making projects. I did try my hand at a couple of novels, but nothing came of those attempts. I went to college after my 5th child started kindergarten, and did  a lot of writing then, but didn’t get back to fiction until I was a grandmother.

Writing is part of me, something that I hope to continue for the rest of my life.

F. M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith

Violent Departures

College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.

Here is a short excerpt from the beginning of, Violent Departures: 

The silver Toyota Prius stood empty and idling in the short driveway. The driver’s door gaped open. A plump, and obviously distraught, middle-aged woman ran barefoot down the cement steps of the small older home toward Officer Vaughn Aragon.

He’d responded to a call from the dispatcher about a missing person. Ordinarily, the caller would have been asked to come to the station to file a report, but the circumstances in this case seemed urgent.

“Thank God you’re here. My granddaughter, Veronica, she’s gone.” Gray strands mixed with the woman’s long black hair she’d pulled back and tied with a scarf. “Please find her.” Tears threatened in her dark eyes.

Without touching anything, Aragon poked his head inside the running vehicle. A large purse lay open on the passenger seat, belongings scattered, among them, a cell phone. On the floor lay a multi-colored backpack.

Though blond, Aragon, having grown up in East L.A., spoke fluent Spanish. Because the woman had dark skin and hair, he assumed she was Latina. He introduced himself in English and Spanish, and asked for her name.

She frowned as though his Spanish confused her. “I’m Mrs. Randall.” She added, “And I’m not Mexican. Please, help me find my granddaughter.”

Though flustered by his mistake, Aragon said, “When was the last time you saw her?”

“A few minutes before I called the police. We finished breakfast and she went out the door, on her way to school. She is a student at UCSB. I started to do dishes and then I noticed her car still parked in the driveway. I came out to see what was wrong and found the car like this.” Her voice rose. “She disappeared.”

Violent Departures

Contest: Because it has been popular on my other blog tours, once again I’m offering the chance for the person who comments on the most blog posts during this tour to have a character named for him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

Or if that doesn’t appeal, the person may choose one of the earlier books in the series—either a print book or Kindle copy.

Violent Departures can be purchased at:




I tackle a hard question tomorrow: What Makes the Rocky Bluff Mystery Series Unique?

NOTE: Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to have a character named after you in Meredith’s next novel. I did. I loved my character and it was a lot of fun to see my name in her last Rocky Bluff mystery, Murder in the Worst Degree. 

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Penny Peterson – Roses Are Dead My Love

On my blog this week, I’m happy to welcome back author, Penny Petersen.



Penny Clover Petersen began writing her first novel at fifty-nine on a dare from her husband, Tom. A life-long resident of the Washington DC area, they now reside in Bowie Maryland.

 In addition to writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, refurbishing old furniture, collecting stories for the ‘family cookbook’, and savoring new cocktail recipes.

 She loves historic homes and is a docent at Riversdale Mansion in Riverdale, MD. Penny is currently at work on her third Daisy&Rose mystery.

Roses Are Dead, My Love

 In Roses Are Dead, My Love, my second Daisy&Rose Mystery, sisters Daisy and Rose Forrest find themselves knee deep in the middle of a sinister blackmail scheme. Under the spell of a June heatwave, Old Towne seems to be cursed. Rose is attacked in her own home, and their beloved dog is brutally duct taped and his doghouse goes up in flames. When they find the postmistress bludgeoned to death, the sisters know they have to get to the bottom of it. With their extraordinary mother, Angela, at their side, the ladies take on the hunt for an invaluable baseball card, a malicious prankster, and a blackmailing killer.

Here is a short excerpt:

As Daisy and her mother, Angela, sat in the sunroom eating mushroom and green olive pizza and watching the dogs playing in the yard, Daisy filled her mother’s glass with a frothy orange concoction.

Angela took a sip. “Mmm, very tasty. What did you call this?”

Daisy smiled and said, “I call it a Midnight Marauder. It suits this evening’s plan.”

Angela’s eyes lit up. “What have you got in mind?”

“Well, as I said, I do trust Rose’s instincts about Peter – at least about his not attacking her. And I trust Bill.”

Angela snorted, “You most certainly do not!”

“His police instinct – I trust his police instinct. He’s positive that Peter couldn’t have had time to get back from Baltimore, kill Peggy and return in time for a seven o’clock seminar. Who in God’s name schedules a seminar for seven in the morning after a cocktail party the night before? These academics must be real masochists. But something about that man is strange. Why would he spend so many nights in that bookstore when he has that beautiful house downtown?”

“To be near Rose?”

“He hardly ever sees Rose when he’s there. No, he’s up to something and I want to know what. So, I thought we’d take this excellent opportunity, while he and Rose are both occupied for the entire evening, to check out his attic!”

Angela clapped her hands like a little kid. “Super! I happen to have suitable late night attire right upstairs.”

At eleven, Daisy was standing on a stepstool at the back of her closet pulling out an old tote bag. She checked the contents. WD-40, screwdrivers, kitchen tongs, a large black scarf, and two flashlights were right where she left them after her last midnight caper. She tested the flashlights, replaced the batteries in one of them, and said to Angela, “It’s all good. Let’s go.”

They stood at the window and watched Ron Tucker walk his dogs past their house and waited ten minutes until he walked back on his way home. Then Daisy, ‘burglar bag’ over her shoulder, and Angela slipped quietly out of the side door and up the driveway.

Just as they got to the street the door of Clover Tavern opened and a group of people came out laughing and talking loudly as they walked to their cars.

“Rats! Maybe we should wait until the Tavern closes,” whispered Daisy as she backed down the driveway. “People can see Peter’s gate from the Tavern door.”

“Not to worry. We’ll just go around back and hop Mrs. Hudson’s fence. Then we can slip across the street and go down the alley next to Marc’s place. We can sneak into Peter’s yard from the other side. There aren’t any lights back there and nobody can see the back of the book store anyway.”

Daisy was impressed. “You didn’t just think of this, did you, Mother?”

“I like to have contingency plans. When you told me about this evening’s scheme I sort of scouted out all the routes in my head. So let’s go for it. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? If someone stops us, we’ll just say we’re out for a walk.”

Daisy looked at her mother standing in the dark wearing black tennis shoes, black leggings, black gloves, and a black jacket with the hood pulled low over her face. “Somehow, I just don’t think the police would buy that. You look like a second story man.”

“Pish. I just like to dress for the occasion.”

“Exactly my point!”

Best Cover 1

Roses Are Dead My Love, will be out on May 1st.

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