Willow Ashley pays her bills through sin. She’s made her peace with that. Her best friend, on the other hand, cannot. She relentlessly begs Willow to go to church to confess all of her wrong-doings. When Willow finally gives in, she stumbles across the new pastor, Rowan Elsher. He’s the kind of gorgeous she wants to thank the heavens for, and makes her think all sorts of filthy things that would make even God blush.
Rowan Elsher came to New Orleans hoping to make a real difference in helping those in his congregation. When a woman approaches him about her best friend needing guidance, yet refusing to tell him why, he becomes curious. Then he sees Willow, with her ample curves and seductive pout. In a glance, his infatuation with her begins.
He was told to stay away from dating within the congregation. He shouldn’t want her. He can’t want her. But he just can’t help himself but to break all the rules he vowed to keep.
USA Today Best Seller, DV Fischer, delivers a sizzling dark romance sure to leave readers gasping for more.
USA Today bestselling and two-time Iowa award-winning author D. Fischer (DV Fischer) is a mother of two very busy boys, a wife to wonderful husband, and an owner of two sock-loving German Shorthair Pointers. They also have a cat named Geralt, but since Geralt adopted them and not the other way around, the cat is more of a tenant who occasionally purr-purrs for his rent, if he’s not too busy murdering nerf darts.
Together, they live in Orange City, Iowa.
When D. Fischer isn’t chasing after her children, she spends her time typing like a mad woman while consuming vast amounts of caffeine. Sometimes, if her husband can manage to remind her of the real world outside her office window, they hike!
Known for the darker side of imagination, she enjoys freeing her creativity through worlds that don’t exist, no matter how much we wish they did.
Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning.
Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer.
Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?
Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie. She loves to hear from readers.
Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won’t discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.
Phoebe Henderson is many things–a recent widow, a beautiful woman who’s looking for her next step in life, stubborn and determined–but most of all she’s her Cherokee grandmother’s granddaughter. Her grandmother taught her the ancient rituals, and has even come to Phoebe’s home in ghostly form to protect her against those who would take what belongs to her.
Perhaps the most important part of her grandmother’s legacy is the ability to keep an open mind. For when a mysterious, magical man enters Phoebe’s dreams, she find herself a new path back to life.
A sensual aroma warmed Phoebe’s nostrils. She looked over her shoulder and found a man watching her from the other end of the aisle. Dressed all in black, from denim shirt to jeans to dusty sneakers, he made a striking appearance. Long limbs complimented a solid six-foot frame. Shoulder-length coal-black hair was woven into a sturdy single braid. A tan complexion and handsome features denoted Native American ancestry mixed with something else. Thick lashes framed intense gold eyes. His aroma was primal and exotic, as if nature had poured musk into the rain clouds and sprinkled in a few pheromones just for good measure. Offering a smooth smile, he broke eye contact and ambled forward, like a panther stalking prey through the rain forest, his movements powerful yet agile. In fluid motion, he brushed her with a shoulder. Then a hip. And did not apologize for either. Usually Phoebe objected to men intruding into her personal space, but this implied panther’s kiss was nothing short of orgasmic. She took a deep breath to shake off a silly schoolgirl flush, and then turned. To her surprise, he was gone. Only the scent of him remained to coat the store. That black-haired panther was not like anything she had ever seen on the edge of the Oklahoma prairie. After stuffing the old paperback into the nearest slot, Phoebe walked to the front of the store. The tiny brass bell hanging over the door had not rung. He should still be in the store somewhere. Forgoing any pretense of nonchalance, she stalked the length of the store and peered down straight aisles. In the far corner she found only Twyla. “Where is he?” Phoebe demanded with an odd mixture of confusion and annoyance. Setting down an armful of books, Twyla headed to the front and slipped behind the counter. “Where’s who?” “You didn’t see him?” Phoebe followed, sliding up to the old counter and dropping her arms on its scuffed surface. “What did you see? Another ghost?” Phoebe shook her head in absolute certainty. That was no ghost. “A man, dressed all in black.” A small perfume bottle sitting on the countertop caught Twyla’s eye. “Did you put that there?” “No.” Phoebe picked up the amber bottle and noticed it was from the small display box in the window. The label read: Musk Rain. “That’s what I was just thinking, musk and rain. Are you sure you didn’t leave it there?” “Not me.” Curious, Phoebe unscrewed the bottle’s cap and took a strategic sniff. It smelled like the panther, whoever or whatever he was. She dabbed a drop on the inside of both wrists. Then rubbed a little behind each ear. “I’ll take three bottles,” Phoebe announced…
A sexy martial artist. A conniving oil man. A ghost on a mission. And a young woman caught in the middle of it all.
Seven years ago Phoebe promised her dying Cherokee grandmother she would solve this riddle: “Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.” Now she fights her former brother-in-law Jack for possession of her home and farm near Oklahoma City. Just as she is ready to give up, a sexy and mysterious Native American martial artist named Alex offers to help. Who is Alex and what is his connection to Jack? Why does Jack want the farm? Why has her grandmother’s ghost appeared after all these years? Instead of one riddle to solve, Phoebe now has a fistful of them.
The lawyers who make up The Agency are committed to bringing justice to situations in which justice is not normally found. At the behest of the President, they intervene in matters that impact Americans around the globe. Human trafficking, terrorism, cults, and the disappeared are just a few of the cases with which they are tasked, and they execute uniquely designed solutions with determination and no small amount of courage. Their journey begins with an American law student kidnapped by a sex slave traffickers. It ends with justice served. Three heart-stopping adventures from a five-book series are combined into one scintillating bundle of romantic suspense, including Snatching Dianna, Infamy, and Cult.
The hours are counting down as investigators try to prove that Dianna Murphy has been snatched. Unfortunately, without witnesses and solid evidence, all the police really know is that she is missing.
When suburban Milwaukee law student Dianna Murphy fails to connect with her roommate, there is no real evidence that she has been snatched. Until Law Professor Janet MacLachlan, a former covert agent, discovers a single clue, one that points to a taking by a slave trafficking cartel. In a race against time, Janet recruits her husband, secret agent Cade Matthews, small-town Police Chief David Manders and his wife, criminal defense attorney Julianna Constant, and other law students to uncover the truth. Can they prove she has been taken, before Dianna disappears without a trace?
Infamy. An evil or wicked act. Terrorists bent on revenge have found a way to make planes disappear from the sky, without a trace. And when one winds up buried in a Wisconsin cornfield, it’s a race against time to rescue the passengers from certain death.
When international law attorney Sheikh Harun Ali is lured to the Amazon and warned of a frightening plot against the United States, he and his wife, Marianne Benson, enlist the assistance of their neighbors, covert agent Cade Matthews and his wife, Constitutional Law Professor Janet MacLachlan. Ultimately, these feisty lawyers are pushed to the wall, desperate to find a plane that has been buried in an unknown cornfield, the passengers still on board. The terrorists’ hatred for the Alis is absolute—the Alis once left their organization bankrupt and broken—but they hate America more. And their fiendish games are just beginning. They are seeking a much bigger prize, one that could destroy a nation and possibly the world. An act that will live in infamy.
Cult (winner of the Editor’s Choice Award)
It’s supposed to be a simple assignment. A quick trip to a South American country for an “in and out” fact-finding mission. Unfortunately, the cult has other ideas.
When college students begin disappearing from American campuses, a notorious cult, God’s Delight, is the primary suspect. God’s Delight has been hosting shows featuring sex, drugs, and rock and roll around the country, and young people are flocking to them.
Among the missing is the President’s goddaughter, and he wants answers. When he asks Agent Cade Matthews, a member of a secret covert organization, to find her, the mission appears fairly straightforward. Find the God’s Delight compound, determine whether a welfare check on American cult members is warranted, and get out. Simple. Clean. Easy.
Cade sends newly-married Agents Dianna Murphy and Anders Mark to the University of Wisconsin to follow the trail to God’s Delight, but when they wind up in Bolivia, things go sideways. Suddenly, what appeared to be nothing more than a simple in-and-out could cost Dianna her life. When an Agency extraction is ordered, chaos erupts, and the question becomes, will anyone survive?
EXCERPT from Infamy
Cade grasped his water bottle with both hands. “Before his brother died, he said eight words.”
Harun nodded. “They are going to make American planes disappear.”
Dianna’s eyes grew wide.
Anders rubbed a hand over his face, then through his long dark hair. His deep green eyes stared up at the ceiling of the plane. “Fucking hell. Nine-eleven all over again.”
“That is our fear,” Harun said. “However, so many precautionary measures are in place in this country, simply hijacking planes and flying them into buildings is no longer easy. They must have a different plan.”
Cade emitted a heavy sigh. “And that is what we need to figure out. What exactly do those eight words mean? For example, he did not specify that the planes would disappear in America, which could mean that they will disappear abroad or over oceans.”
Anders sat up straight. “And disappear could mean many things. Crash. Hijack. Pull a Malaysia. How many ways can you make a plane disappear?”
“To me this is one of those series that I will be reading over and over again. From the very beginning I was drawn in, it’s got action, danger, suspense, and even, romance. I can’t recommend this series and Author enough…I highly recommend reading this whole series. I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was going to happen next.” (Goodreads review)
“Seelie Kay has an unforgettable imagination, and will keep you wanting more. You can tell she brings her all, while reading this story. I love her characters, especially the strong-willed, independent women. This is a must read! Along with the rest of her Feisty Lawyers Series. Well Done Seelie Kay, Well Done.” (Goodreads review)
“This author really knows how to deliver an edgy, and dramatic story. It was heart in throat entertainment. A complicated and colourful cast filled with many events that left me gasping and wondering if I read it correctly. I was captivated and intrigued. These kinds of stories are what keep me in my happy place. They keep me entertained and out of my head. I have travelled the world and experienced every feeling and moment with theses characters. Seelie Kay has a knack for enrapturing an audience and it is a dangerously decadent state to be in, and totally addictive.” (Goodreads review)
Award-winning author Seelie Kay writes scintillating tales of lawyers in love, sometimes with a dash of kink.
Writing under a nom de plume, the former lawyer and journalist draws her stories from more than 30 years in the legal world. Seelie’s wicked pen has resulted in twenty-two works of fiction, including the new paranormal romance series Donovan Trait,as well the erotic romance Kinky Briefsseries and The Feisty Lawyers romantic suspense series. She also authored The Last Christmas, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The President’s Daughter, Seizing Hope, The White House Wedding, and participated in the romance anthology Pieces of Us.
When not spinning romantic tales, Seelie ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. Currently, she resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, WI, where she enjoys opera, the Green Bay Packers, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.
Seelie is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!
Brianna Ward travels to New Orleans to let go of so many vexations in her personal and professional life, hoping that the ultimate street party of Mardi Gras would take her “away.” In an exotic city, among strangers, she could let her hair down a little, hide behind a mask, and recharge.
A shiver of frustration ran through her, picking up her pace. She practically ran the three blocks to St. Charles Avenue, where streetcars ran from the west side of the city to downtown for a dollar and a quarter each way. Just as other travelers had done since the 1830s, riding these historical and picturesque cars through the streets under a canopy of broad live oak branches, added a special dimension to the aspect of this vacation as getaway from her normal world. She needed a chance to let go.
Not only because of the Dellenbach antics, though finding one of his cronies practically across the hall certainly dampened her outlook. Her daily modus operandi dictated that she lived with a fist clenched around all the loose ends of her day, hopefully choking the life out of them. Control of everything—her life, her job, her cases—this was how she functioned best.
When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious—but handsome—lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.
Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her—especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.
Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?
Eric Gray, is exotic, experienced, and strong yet I can’t put my finger on WHY this man is so special.
Holding someone’s heart in your hands is an incredible feeling. It’s a rush. But more than that, it’s the fact that I am directly responsible for someone’s life. Don’t get me wrong—it’s terrifying, and losing a patient hits hard every time—but if a procedure succeeds, I can’t explain how amazing it feels knowing I managed to keep someone alive if they would have died otherwise.
After spending the night with the arrogant, funny playboy, his deep, serious side was surprising, but it only increased my attraction and drew me closer to him.
“No time for that.” He shrugged. “My work doesn’t give me enough time to pour into maintaining a long-term relationship.” That made sense. I didn’t think I’d have much time for relationships once I started working on my career either.
“But I’m not against having some fun when I meet the right person.” I knew that that wasn’t just an offhand comment, and suddenly the fire in my stomach was back. A small part of me thought that maybe it would do me some good and help me move on and that I had been alone far too long.
The rest of me thought Eric was funny, kind, and sexy, and I just wanted what he was offering.
“So, where to now?” I asked, and pressed my lips against his.
Secret Affections: The Sensual Treatments Series (Book 2)
Release Date: 12/10/22
Kimberly is conflicted with guilt and burning desires.
Michael, a patient with whom Kimberly has developed that deep connection that she has been craving, needs to stay longer for more tests. So what’s the problem? His ex-wife has been coming in daily and begins to question their connection. Kimberly remains cool and professional and does not give in to the chemistry she feels with him.
Now that Eric is still nearby she resists any of his temptations. Working together proves to be difficult with his overbearing and dominant “know-it-all” attitude.
Mentally she is exhausted…
Sexually…her body can’t help but react to thoughts about him…
Will she be tempted by the genuine patient, or give in to lust with the sinfully sexy doctor?
Entanglement: The Sensual Treatments Series (Book 3) Release Date: 01/07/23
A man with a secret past. A woman who is afraid to love with all she has.
“A thousand wild horses couldn’t stop me.” Not that I could think why they would possibly want to. I really need to find out where that expression came from.
We stand in silence for a few minutes, just watching the club and not saying anything. Everything suddenly seems calm and completely at peace, and I smile to myself, simply enjoying Christopher’s presence. He never needs to say or do anything to make me happy. He simply needs to be there. That’s already more than enough for me. Standing here, it feels like we’re in our own little magical bubble, frozen in place, while the rest of the world is moving on without us”
Allure drives Kelly to be conflicted with her gut instincts. Her sensual romance unfolds with this polished and intelligent bad boy who takes her to new levels of deep happiness.
“Something in the tone of his voice feels off to me.”
Kimberly, the brilliant and professional esteemed doctor is driven by her desires and relishes in the loving and close bond with her patient Michael while unraveling the past of his billionaire world.
Is it really all so glossy and perfect in Michael’s world? Kimberly’s desires are truthfully acknowledged…however…
Billionaire Patient Love: The Sensual Treatments Series (Book 4)
Release Date: 02/04/23
How can you trust a man deeply??
Kimberly is led by her powerful beauty which creates an array of choices in abundance to her favor.
“Eric still sets my body on fire just by being close to me, but now that I know that it’s just for now, I bask in the feeling and let myself fantasize freely. It’s been too long since I’ve let myself feel these incredible sensations without trying to ignore or suppress what my body wants, and I decide that as long as I don’t actually react physically, I might as well let myself go and have some fun.”
Kimberly excels strongly in her consulting and knows she deserves to let herself go and have some deeply satisfying fun….
Unexpected discoveries unfold in front of Kimberly.. how will she manage what she knows? Michael has already captured a part of her heart.
Raw Diagnosis: The Sensual Treatments Series (Book 5)
Release Date: 03/04/23
It’s double date night! Christopher and Kelley and Eric and Kimberly check out the newest hot spot and let their hair down. As things heat up, daggers are thrown and Kimberely tries her best to maintain her cool, calm and collected attitude.
You can feel the sexual tension! But, it all comes to a screeching halt when they bump into two people no one expected to see together. This meeting causes a strange uneasy awkwardness amongst the group and makes Kelley wonder if she ever really knew the truth about men.
Intense feel-good, medical love drama series with swoon-worthy characters, riveting plots, and happily-ever-after-linked stories.
The world of romantic opportunities and unfamiliarity can open up and give deep satisfaction although it may not be your intended path…
Who is Lisa Bonham?
Who am I? I am a curvy wine and food lover who is always dreaming of new romances. I am a cat and dog lover, an early riser, and have strong allergies to housework and dairy. I love hedonistic, spontaneous travel and intoxicating, intense experiences. I then try to bring those immensely pleasurable emotions with rich detail in my books to share with you in fast-paced super exciting plots and gorgeous alpha characters with beautiful hearts and minds in irresistible stories.
I started watching HBO’s House of the Dragon recently, and of course, began missing that world, so I had to go back and binge Game of Thrones again. Since I’d seen it all, I could skip over parts that didn’t appeal to me, like mostly anything with Ramsay Bolton, and some of the Dothraki male chest-beating (after Jason Momoa had left, of course!).
But so many stories this time really hit me in the face with bad choices. I mean, obvious bad choices that people make more or less blithely, and the rest of their lives go down the toilet because of them.
For example, Ned Stark is raising a nice family in the North, farming and killing the occasional wildling, etc. His wife is healthy and happy, and his children are growing up all rambunctious and destined for happy futures. But Robert Baratheon demands he leave his settled home and come to King’s Landing to get involved in international politics. Ned knows he shouldn’t go. Catelyn knows he shouldn’t go. Okay, everyone but Sansa, and she’s an underaged whiner, so….don’t listen to her. So he decides to go, unraveling the futures of every member of his family. WHY?
Daenerys Targaryen travels to the desert lands, and comes out of her Dothraki experience a little singed but brave as heck. She saves thousands of slaves and unseats hundreds of sticky old Masters, creating a whole swath of countries that regard her in the highest, calling her “Mother of Dragons,” and worshiping her. She could rule there, happy, healthy and with her choice of hot men… but she tosses it all for her old guardians’ dream of taking Westeros. This choice leads unerringly to the destruction of her dragons and eventually, herself. WHY?
Or Sansa, who finds herself in a hellish situation, one after another, really, and she passes on every chance to get out of there, because she still thinks she’s going to have the fairy tale. Not until she’s wed to Tyrion and the shit hits the fan, does she decide to escape. WHY?
Seems to be those who start out innocent who make the worst choices. Obviously, I can’t list Cersei, Littlefinger, or any of the usual schemers here. Their decisions have assorted consequences, but they always have some underpinned motive, so, they get what they deserve.
Pondering all this makes me wonder whether I’ve committed these same sins. I’m sure many of us begin to have these questions in our mind, the older we get, the more distance we have on the decisions we’ve made, now that we’ve seen where we ended up. We all know that our paths lie before us like tree branches, giving us a variety of options. If we take the left path, we give up what may have been ahead of us on the right.
I had the option to attend a private college in Illinois; I chose to stay close to home at Kent State. Could have changed things forever. Fell in love and followed my future husband to his school rather than accepting a job to begin my post-college life, DEFINITELY changed my future as I became a mom pretty soon thereafter, settling down instead of going out to explore the world. Moved across the country with him, then across the country again. several jobs later, I decided to go to law school.
(All the lawyers are out there yelling “WHY?” Yeah. I know.)
That set me on a new path but only a few miles from home. What if I’d gone out of state? What if I’d gone to a public school in Tallahassee instead? What a different future I might have had if I’d never met my second husband?
Unsatisfied with south Florida, we moved to Pennsylvania, which set off a number of other choices, leading to a third marriage post-40 to a man with three children under the age of 5. Yeah, this was a biggie. Just when I was getting to the empty nest part, coming into a good place in my career, I could have sat back and enjoyed these fruits.
So, yes, WHY?
It’s a big question. It’s done, so not much point debating it, or regretting it. (Which I really don’t–these have been 20 productive years in my writing career) But it does provide food for thought, and a wish that young people had the foresight to see past impulsive decisions when making these choices. But that’s not really the way of things, is it?
And as it turned out, I never got a castle. Or a dragon.
But I also wasn’t burnt, infected, slain, poisoned, beheaded, eaten by dogs, crushed, stabbed, shot with an arrow on the toilet, or zombie-fied. So maybe I chose all right, anyway.
Thanks for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.
We currently live in central Arizona, ten minutes from a boat launch on one of the few lakes in our state. And, by the way, this is for my husband, FDW. I’d prefer to be farther north in the cooler mountains and pines, but he fishes. We share our home with a rescue dog, Amigo. He spent the first year of his life in a culvert with a blind dog. He was a bit wild and timid when we got him, but he’s turned into a good doggie.
Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?
I am most certainly a coffee fiend (a coffee snob, according to FDW). I like whipped milk, cinnamon, and honey in my VERY strong coffee…but only until noon, or I’d have more trouble sleeping than I already have.
Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create? How would you best describe your books?
I was an artist in my first life, but somewhere along the way, I found more fun in filling a blank page with words than with paint. My books are suspense, romance, and character driven. A suspenseful story is a must, but I always begin with characters and build from there.
Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?
My newest story is Curse of Wolf Falls (The MacKenzie Chronicles Book 3). The eBook is up for preorder at a sale price and will release worldwide on 9/5.
The print version is available right now. This third story is about the youngest MacKenzie, an archaeologist. Elidor MacKenzie has a gift she can’t return—the ability to absorb the joy, pain, and suffering of others. She’s spent her life running from what she considers her curse. Now she’s home to make amends and guard a secret archaeological find. But once again, the energies of Joshua will stir the hurricane, with her at the deadly center.
What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?
The series was inspired by a real-life town called Jerome, Arizona. I call the town Joshua, Arizona in the series—an 1800s mining community-turned-ghost-town, reborn hippie haven, and now tourist town clinging to the side of Spirit Mountain—hiding treacherous secrets only the MacKenzie’s can reveal.
The MacKenzie siblings were raised by free-thinking hippies, and their minds are open to whatever the universe deals them. I had fun researching auras, clairsentience, empath, and déjà vu to name a few. And my heroine, Elidor, is an archaeologist so I had to gain a bit of knowledge in that area.
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?
I got to touch on sacred Native American myths, empathic sensations, and live in Joshua for a few months (in my head that is).
I’ve visited Jerome, renamed Joshua in the book, many times over my life. I renamed it so I could have a free hand at changing what I needed to fit the story, but making additional trips for research was a fun task.
What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
What I most like about writing is writing. And by that I mean, the process of getting these characters out of my head on into my computer. They constantly surprise me as their stories unfold. That’s not to say I don’t have an outline or synopsis I am guided by, but the little details are so much fun to discover.
I’m not crazy about what an author has to do to get the word out about a book. Promotion is a chore, organized and more like work than writing is.
I discovered what I wanted to do rather late in life. I thought I would paint and draw for my creative outlet. Then I took a creative writing class, and I knew I’d found my love.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?
I belong to a couple of local Arizona clubs, although they aren’t too close to me. We live in the boonies. There are numerous writing sites I call upon when I need to research or gain a little knowledge.
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?
No, I can’t listen to music and write too. I’ve tried. It gets in my head and messes with me.
Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?
I have several critique partners. We critique each other’s work via email because we are miles and hours apart. But I NEED these people. I don’t know how anyone can write without critique partners. Mine all have their individual strengths and they make my stories so much better with their analysis.
To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?
The first book I wrote received dozens of rejections. I attempted getting an agent first. So, I set it aside and wrote a short story that wouldn’t end and became my second book. With that one, I submitted directly to a publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and they accepted. Eventually, after a few more publications, I rewrote that first book and TWRP published it too. The key to selling any book to a publisher is to polish your submission. Follow their guidelines exactly. Back when I first published, self-publishing was frowned upon. Not so now. But, and this is a big but, if you go that route, please get a professional cover designed and a real editor. No one can edit their own book.
What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
I’ve got a couple of projects going right now. I’ve received the rights back on a series that I am updating and will republish myself. I’m also in partnership with another author, Joyce Proell, and we are writing a cozy mystery series called The Chocolate Martini Sisters Mysteries. I’m having so much fun with that.
I’ve decided to make public appearances part of my routine again. These last few years, I’ve been holed up, as many of us have. Winter and Spring are the best times for those outings. I have one show booked in September in a fun little town called Chino Valley, Arizona.
Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense and romance. She’s penned a couple of historicals and straight romance, but she’s found villains and danger make a good story that much better. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart so won’t discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.
“The Wayward Path” is the third novel in the Jefferson Chene mystery series, releasing August 3, 2022. These books are set in the Detroit, Michigan area, which is where I’m originally from. Detroit has a long history of crime and misbehavior, which always appealed to my story-telling mind.
I’m a fan of distinctive names. The backstory for Chene (pronounced Shane) is that he was abandoned at birth and found at the intersection of Jefferson and Chene in Detroit. A mix up on the paperwork led to that becoming his name. The character was raised in a Catholic orphanage. Never adopted, Chene has a little difficulty building relationships outside of the people he works with. He can be a little rough around the edges, but he’s good at what he does. A borderline insomniac, Chene believes his mind is too busy for sleep and his body adapts to that strategy. Chene became a cop and worked his way through the ranks of the Michigan State Police.
Metropolitan Detroit has a population of over 3 million people, and it covers almost 6,000 square miles, making it one of the largest metro areas in the United States. With so many smaller cities in this region, I wanted to have a squad of detectives who would cross those territorial boundaries and go wherever their investigation took them. This team would also be focused on getting results.
After creating the Chene character and others in the first book “Why 319?” I kept coming up with new story ideas. The feedback I got from readers was encouraging. I realized these characters had much more to tell. That’s what led to the latest book.
When Agonasti slips through their grasp, he reaches out to Sergeant Jefferson Chene. Their unusual friendship draws Chene into the thick of the case. Burdened with two reluctant FBI agents, Chene is working against the clock and the feds to find the real killer.
Chene senses they are getting close to the answers. Will he be able to solve the murder and clear the old mobster of this heinous crime before time runs out?
MacGregor escorted us to the conference room, knocked twice and opened the door. Standing at the end of the rectangular table was a tall, blonde woman. She was pacing by the window. Seated at the table was another agent in a dark suit. He had a stack of files before him. His dark hair needed a trim.
He shot a disgusted look at the interruption. “What?”
MacGregor hooked a thumb in my direction. “State cops have arrived. This is Sergeant Chene and Captain Cantrell. They are…familiar with Leo Agonasti.”
Pappy pushed MacGregor aside as he entered the room and dropped into a chair. “Y’all need us.”
Sedlak threw his pen down on the table in disgust. It skittered across the surface and was headed for the edge when Pappy stopped it with a fingertip.
“Y’all know where Agonasti is?”
Sedlak went rigid. “We’ll find him, Captain Cornpone. We don’t require any assistance from the locals.”
“So, you do need us.” I slid into the seat beside Cantrell.
The blonde had been watching this exchange with interest. She cleared her throat and took a step in our direction. “Your name is Chene?”
“That’s me. And you are?”
“Diana Trevino.” She sat beside me. “I represent Mr. Agonasti. He’s mentioned you occasionally in the past.”
Sedlak’s gaze was flicking across the three of us. He settled it briefly on Pappy. I thought there was a glimmer of recognition, but it may have been my imagination. Cantrell is definitely memorable.
“Why don’tcha take Miz Trevino outside and lemme have a minute with Mr. Sedlak. Mebbe we can speed things along.”
MacGregor was still standing in the doorway. He looked at his boss but got no signal that I could see. I stood and extended a hand to the lady. She took it lightly and grabbed her purse off the table as we exited the room. MacGregor followed and closed the door behind us. He waved at the group clustered around the desks. Banks came forward and escorted Diana Trevino to the restrooms.
“What the hell was that about?” he asked quietly.
“Looks like old home week. Give them a few minutes.”
“You think they know each other?”
I leaned against the wall. “How long has Sedlak been the assistant special agent in charge in Detroit?”
“Three years, maybe four. Why?”
“You think he and Pappy haven’t crossed paths before, between meetings, conferences and task forces?”
Mac shrugged. “Hadn’t really thought about it.”
“If Pappy didn’t know him, he would have shot him for that cornpone wisecrack. They were just playing for the audience. Chances are Pappy reached out to him while we were driving downtown.”
That brought a grin from MacGregor. “Well, that’s a twist.”
I watched Banks bring Diana Trevino back into the office area. She guided her over to the coffee urn.
“How soon can you give me a copy of the case file you have on this homicide investigation?”
Mac scoffed. “Seriously? What makes you think we’re going to share?”
“Pappy isn’t trading recipes for chicken fried steak. You don’t know where Agonasti is. His attorney wouldn’t share that information anyway, even if she knew. So I’d expect this to become a joint investigation within the next ten minutes. Might as well get me a copy. And don’t bother redacting it. I want the whole thing.”
“Damn, you’re cocky.”
I grinned. “There’s a difference between confidence and cocky. You should learn how to tell them apart.”
“Fuck you, Chene,” he said with disgust.
“That’s not very original. You need someone to write some fresh material.”
The conference room door opened and Sedlak waved us in. Pappy was rolling a cigarette slowly between his first two fingers. It wasn’t lit, which I took to be a courtesy on his part. If we were at the post, it would already be trailing smoke toward the ceiling.
“Agent MacGregor will provide you with a copy of our files on this investigation,” Sedlak said. “Probably easiest to give them a flash drive.”
“Make it two,” Pappy said. “May as well git started tonight.”
“You will keep us informed of any discoveries you make,” Sedlak said.
Pappy gave him a curt nod. “Course.”
“And if you learn the whereabouts of Leo Agonasti?”
“Y’all be second to know.”
MacGregor trotted off to make the copies. Pappy and Sedlak continued to stare at each other. I waited in the silence. Five minutes later, Mac returned and handed me a pair of flash drives. I passed one to Cantrell. He tucked it in his shirt pocket and pushed out of his chair.
“Chene, give Miz Trevino a ride home. Ah believe she be done here.”
Sedlak adjusted the knot in his tie. “Yeah, we’re done. For now.”
When a spring break trip to her family’s island home reveals that her childhood crush’s feelings have changed, she is eager to step into the world of womanhood. But you cannot always choose what happens in life. Facing immeasurable pain, she embarks on a decade-long journey of self-discovery, working to find her place in the world, torn between the pull of her Island and the possibility of what lies beyond. Guided by the wisdom of those who came before her, she must bridge the gap between her past and the story of her future, but then an unexpected encounter could change it all.
The book is a coming-of-age, family saga and romance. The genre grows and matures as Ari’s story is told.
Where did the inspiration for Bird of Paradise come from?
The book was co-written with my mother. She began writing Bird of Paradise over 20 years ago when she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer.
After many setbacks and recurrences, she passed away in 2012 (long after they said she would) and left the book unfinished. I found a letter from her with a copy of her manuscript and a request that I finish the story for her. So, the inspiration was her.
What was it like trying to finish your mom’s story?
When I first sat down to read Bird of Paradise, it was within weeks of her passing. I was still in that very raw place, and it was difficult. I could hear her voice through the words. Even though it’s a work of fiction, there are many events and characters that pull from her life and the lives of those around her. As I read the story, it became more of a way to continue a conversation with her and it was a source of comfort.
From a technical standpoint, finishing someone else’s work isn’t easy. Her writing style and my writing style are very different. She is poetic and descriptive, and I am more abrupt and analytical. However, I knew exactly where I wanted to take the story itself and actually wrote the ending first. Then I backtracked my way to that line where she left off and added events and conversations to her part of the book to make a cohesive story and complete each character’s story arch. Then I added layer upon layer of detail to meld our styles. She created all but one character, so that was helpful. I think she purposely left one character for me to create and that was a lot of fun.
What do you think makes a good fiction book?
You must write with passion and believe in your story and characters. It’s easy to tell when an author is writing for someone else and not themselves.
Are you planning to write another book?
Perhaps. I have an idea for one that tells the story of the parents from Bird of Paradise as their relationship is key to the book. I just haven’t been able to find the time to really delve into it.
Seventeen-year-old Arianna Heywood is a hopeless romantic who dreams of one day sipping Bellini’s with her love in Italy and when a trip home to the Island reveals that her innocent childhood crush no longer looks at her as his kid sister, Ari is eager to step into the world of womanhood. But as is so often the case, you cannot always choose what happens in life.
Facing immeasurable pain, Ari embarks on a decade long journey of self-discovery, but an unexpected encounter in the city of her dreams may change it all again. Torn between the pull of her Island and the possibility of what lies beyond, Ari must bridge the gap between her past and the story of her future. They say some love stories are meant to last forever. Will theirs be one of them? Only Ari has the power to decide.
Excerpt From Bird of Paradise
The sun was in its descending arc over the western headland now. It was an artist’s sun, all big and orange, spreading its sepia light over the Island, transforming it from brilliant contrasts to silhouetted images against a vibrant sky. There was a light trail that extended across the lagoon and out to the open sea, a golden touch she had called it when she was very young. But first she needed to cry the tears she had been suppressing all that day. It wasn’t a moment of weakness. She just needed to leave the tears behind. And when the last one had descended her cheek and dissolved into the fabric of her linen shirt, she knew she was ready. So, she resettled herself on the sleek wooden bench that Grandfather had lovingly crafted out of a singly koa log all those years ago and into which he and Mem had carved their names, and then Mama and Papa had done the same after them. She followed the light trail as far as she could see and searched the horizon until she found what she was looking for – the ferry that was sailing away with everything she loved most in this world. She stared at it for a very long time, watching it grow smaller and smaller. Then she closed her eyes and tried to remember what her life had been like before Michael.
Marilyn was born in Southern California but spent her formative years in the San Francisco Bay Area with her parents and older sister. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Sociology and received an advanced degree in Elementary Education. After moving with her husband to Aspen, Colorado Marilyn spent the next 20 years as a public-school teacher and elementary education consultant and lecturer. She and her family moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina in 1996 and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with breast and advanced ovarian cancer. She began writing The Bird of Paradise as a life gift for her daughter, Emily. She passed away in 2012 leaving the novel unfinished – for Emily to complete.
Emily was born in Aspen, Colorado where she enjoyed skiing, dancing ballet and playing golf. At the age of 13, she and her family moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. She currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and son. Emily enjoys playing golf, running, kickboxing, reading, and spending time with her family. Finishing her mother’s work has been one of the greatest honors of her life.