Time Travel—Fascinating Impossibility                               by Anna Belfrage


Time Travel—Fascinating Impossibility

                                                               by Anna Belfrage


I think most writers of historical fiction have moments when they fantasise about doing some time travelling – preferably in a controlled environment and with a return ticket. After all, those of us who write books set in the past have some sort of idea as to how grim and dirty and generally harsh life was back then. People smelled—a lot. They shared their beds with an assorted menagerie—everything from lice to mice. Antibiotics did not exist, while germs and lethal diseases most definitely did. And yet, despite all this, those of us afflicted with the time travelling bug wish we could. Time travel, that is.

From a purely scientific perspective, time travel must be considered impossible. Latest research (and yes, I am delighted to share with you that there are many, many hyper-intelligent scientists who consider the issue of time travel) has concluded that even if we could build a time machine, it could probably not transport anyone further back than the year in which it was built—which sort of defeats the purpose, unless we build it now for the benefit of future generations.

Albert Einstein did some theoretical thinking involving travelling faster than the speed of light and thereby catching up with your own past. Seeing as mankind is nowhere close to transporting anything – let alone ourselves – at the speed of light, the sad conclusion must be that Einstein’s theories are nothing more than theories and time travel is an impossibility. Unless we take into account those worm hole thingies. Or the negative mass of a black hole and its potential warping influence on time. My scientist son tells me we do not want to end up anywhere close to a black hole as chances are we’ll never exit it alive – no matter just how far backwards or forwards in time we ended up. Time travelling while dead holds little appeal, ergo best steer clear of the black holes. Which leaves us with time travelling by word – i.e. by writing (and reading) about it. The benefits of doing your time travelling while ensconced in your armchair with a good book are evident: you can do so with both tea and chocolate at hand.

Interestingly enough, writing about time travel – or time slip – requires a logical approach. Despite “everyone” knowing it’s not possible, readers expect some sort of plausibility. Yes, the eager time-slip reader is more than willing to suspend disbelief – but hates it when the chosen mode of time travel is irrational or inconsistent. Something of a contradiction in terms… Still, a writer aiming to transport the reader to the past via a time travelling character must keep this in mind.

Other than Diana Gabaldon’s famous standing stones (and as an aside, I must share that I have a very good friend who has travelled from one Scottish stone circle to the other at the “right times” – i.e the equinoxes and the solstices – in a determined effort to do a Claire Randall and end up 200 years back in time. Seeing as we have stone circles in Sweden, I asked her why she hadn’t tried those, which was a very stupid question to judge from her reaction: Swedish men of the past did not wear kilts or answer to the name of Jamie Fraser…) various mechanisms are in use. Authors can be very creative, but even here some logic must be applied. As one of my characters says: “Time nodes are points at which every now and then the fabric of time rips apart, through earthquakes, freak weather or volcanic activity.” Hector made a dismissive gesture. “The volcanic activity generally precludes anyone actually falling through the holes. You burn to death instead.” Which, if I may say so myself, is quite logical: no one survives bathing in lava.

Once the character has reached the other side, the writer has to manage another problem – their disbelief. You see, in contrast to the reader, who quite often has purchased the book precisely because it contains a time-slip ingredient, the poor character who has just been flung three centuries backwards will not believe his or her eyes. Nope.

“There must be something wrong here,” they protest.

“I did not sign up for this – I signed up for a fast-paced thriller in my own time.”

Well, dear character, what can I say? Writers are fickle creatures with vivid imaginations

that now and then take a huge leap into the unknown.

“What? You must be kidding me. Am I expected to deal with this s**t?” Reluctant time

traveller scowls and tries to look very intimidating.

“Yup,” replies the writer with something resembling a wolf-grin. The time traveller begs

and pleads. The writer just shrugs.


Writing novels with a time-slip ingredient is usually the consequence of the author’s innermost dream to visit the past IRL (In Real Life). Many readers (and writers, and agents) will scoff at the unnecessary device of viewing the past through the eyes of a modern guest. Others will squeal with delight and curl up on their sofa, more than happy to hold the time traveller’s hand as he or she deals with this new and frightening world. But whether you write “straight” historical fiction or “time travelling” historical fiction the expectations on the historical setting are more or less the same: to make your transition through time work you must have done your research. An avid fan may be more than willing to pretend time travelling is possible, but will likely throw the book across the room if you, as the writer, have got the basic historical facts wrong. Like zippers in 16th century England. Or potatoes in 10th century Ireland. What can I say? Readers are funny like that.


 Author’s bio

Had Anna Belfrage been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Belfrage has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.  Find out more  by visiting her website, www.annabelfrage.com or on her Amazon page, http://Author.to/ABG

Should you want to accompany Anna Belfrage’s most reluctant time traveller as she is thrown three centuries in the past, check out A Rip in the Veilhttp://myBook.to/ARIV1


A snippet from the novel: A Rip in the Veil 


“Reluctant?” Alex Lind places her hands on her hips and frowns.

“Of course, I was reluctant!” Yes, Alex was reluctant—until 17th century dreamboat Matthew

Graham entered her life. And where she was reluctant, he was hesitant: an oddly dressed and

badly singed woman found concussed on an empty moor smelled of magic—black magic.



A Year Like A Novel                                       by Caleb Pirtle III


A Year Like A Novel

                                      by Caleb Pirtle III


For a long time, I believed that end of each year was like the end of each chapter in the book of our lives. I don’t believe that anymore.

Take a look at the novels you have read. There is a basic plot. There is a basic set of characters who work their way in and out of scenes throughout the book.

Some good.

Some bad.

Some major.

Some minor.

Some hang around.

Some leave.

But we definitely know who the characters are. If life were the single book, I would have already forgotten most of the characters. They were important for a while. They have not been around for a long time.

Life has too many plots. A year only has one with intermittent subplots. Just like a book. That’s why I now believe that the end of each year is more like the end of a book that has 365 pages.

No more.

No less.

I figure 365 pages make a pretty good eBook. It’s not an epic. It’s simply a slice of life, and that’s what a year is to the book inside each of us.

The year had a little humor. I watched and heard my grandchildren say the darndest things. I laughed. I looked for reasons to laugh.

A little sadness. My puppy died. She wasn’t supposed to. But she did.

A little compassion. I lost too many friends. I had to hug too many necks. I had to dry too many tears. I had to say goodbye too many times. I cried too many tears in the dark when I was alone.

The year had disappointments. We still haven’t figured out how to sell books. But we may be getting close.

It had hope. I wrote two novels and am finishing a third.

Depressed? Write another novel. There is always hope that it breaks through. If not, the next one surely will.

The year had its share of characters. A few have been around for a long time. A few are what I would call real friends. And what’s a real friend? Country comedian Jerry Clower once told me that a true friend is one you don’t mind calling at two in the morning if you’re in trouble. They are the ones who would want you to call.

And the year ushered in a lot of new friends. I know your names. I know what you write. I read what you write. I live with you on Twitter. In emails. Through the words of your blogs. We may never meet, but I appreciate you, have grown accustomed to you, and would hate the face the rest of my life without you. Thanks for being there.

And the year had a theme. Life is hard. Life is not for the weak. Life goes on. And it should go on.

So another book, another love story, another sad story, another story of hope, another story when gunfire erupts anew.

The year is not a book that plotters would write. It would drive them crazy. No one sees the future. No one can outline it. No one knows who all the characters will be. We don’t know what will happen, when it will happen, or to whom it will happen. Who lives? Who loves? Who runs? Who dies?

That’s what makes the book of 2018 absolutely perfect for us pantsers. I’ll fly through it by the seat of my pants, as always, which is the way I write my novels. I don’t know what will happen next and I can’t wait to find out.


Author Bio

Caleb Pirtle III knew he wanted to be a writer the day he read his first book. Writing for him was never as much of a vocation as an obsession. Over the years, Pirtle has served as a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, and editorial director for a custom publisher in Dallas. He has found the time to write more than seventy-five books and is currently writing noir historical thrillers set against the backdrop of World War II and historical fiction novels built around the oil-driven Boom Towns of the 1930s.

Pirtle has written more than seventy-five books, hundreds of magazine articles, and the teleplays for three made-for-television movies, including the CBS mini-series, Gambler V, Playing for Keeps. His Ambrose Lincoln series features Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies, Night Side of Dark and Place of SkullsBack Side of a Blue Moon is the first novel in the Boom Town Saga series. In 2018, the novel won the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Best of Texas Book Award for Historical Fiction. His psychological thrillers are Last Deadly Lie and Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever. A Lovely Night to Die is his first thriller, a novella, featuring a rogue CIA assassin who is given the assignments no one else dares to tackle. Pirtle has written a Memoir of Sorts, The Man Who Talks to Strangers, and his newest release is Confessions from the Road, a collection of short stories he heard from those he encountered during his travels.

He is the award-winning author of XIT: The Life and Times of the American CowboyThe Unending Season, Where the Stars are Always Shining, Spirit of America, and Echoes from Forgotten Streets. His memoir of sorts, The Man Who Talks to Strangers, is an epistle that showcases the odd array of celebrities and characters he has known during his long career traveling the back roads of America – from Appalachia to death row, from paranormal ghost haunts to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

Caleb Pirtle lives in Texas with his wife, Linda, who is the acclaimed author of “The Games We Play Series.” Her first two cozy mysteries as The Mah Jongg Murders and Deadly Dominoes. They serve as book coaches, teach writing classes, and work with authors to professionally package their books.


Social Media, Business or Pleasure?    by Kay Latour


Social Media, Business or Pleasure?

                                  by Kay Latour


We live in a wonderful time for readers and authors. With the indie author movement more and more people are sitting down and putting their thoughts into words. Readers are becoming authors and that’s a good thing. Scratch the surface and everyone has gone through ‘stuff’. Our stories allow us to share with each other. For some it may serve as a cautionary tale and others it may be a reminder. In any case the important thing is we connect.

The platform of connection has changed in the last few decades with the introduction of the internet. Mutual interests led the way to form social media groups where people could exchange messages, posts, and videos despite living in different areas of the planet. We became mentally connected in ways we hadn’t before.

Why am I pointing out the obvious? Because today’s authors are expected to have a good grasp on social media as well as writing books. No longer can the author huddle in their writing den oblivious to the world around them. We must hit the ground running as we roll out our platforms on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Snapchat. Connection is key.

If you are new to social networking I’m going to drop a little tale here about my first experience with Twitter. If you’re an old pro you can skip this paragraph. Still with me? Then here we go. Thinking safety in numbers, I called a friend of mine to join at the same time. We stayed on the phone with each other as we made our first tweet and then laughed at how proud we were to be able to retweet each other. I can still hear myself crowing, “It worked!”. Followed by a fit of giggles on both ends of the line. So, there you go. I put it right there in black and white. No embarrassment, just fun and instant connection. The same thing happened when I joined Facebook. Yup, more fun. Pinterest and Goodreads were a snap after conquering Twitter and Facebook. My platform and enjoyment expanded at the same time.

And then an unexpected thing happened. The social platforms turned out to be ‘interesting’. I was fascinated to see what other people were posting whether it be pictures, memes, videos, or products. I participated by sharing, retweeting, and liking their ‘stuff’. Social media became an enjoyable hobby as well as a way to promote my ‘stuff’. People connected with me from across the globe and I with them.

Some of my favorite things to share are jokes, chickens, dogs, cats, gardens, books, comics, Esty sites, fantasy, and evolve movements. I am always over the moon to share fellow author, artists, and musicians work as I believe that artistic endeavors are important to the growth of humanity. Whatever your interests, social networking is an enjoyable hobby that will also benefit your work.

So, jump in there. Call a friend if you need to but do it! And you may find like I did that in some cases, business and pleasure do mix.


Author Bio

Kay Latour resides in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, with her Techie Wizard husband and two built-in-alarm-system Chihuahua’s.  She is a self-proclaimed geek and bookworm.  She loves fantasy, paranormal and science fiction stories in book, TV or movie form.  She patiently waits for the return of the science fiction series FIREFLY. Brown coats forever!

Early on she found out that her elementary school library contained amazing books like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales and Greek myths.  The stories within spoke of goblins, witches, fairies, deities, giants and all manner of magical folk!  Incredible!  It struck a spark in her brain and stoked her imagination.  From that time on she gravitated to any type of fantasy, mythology, science fiction or paranormal book she could get her hands on.

Now that Kay’s two children have reached ‘the age of reason’ she has time to write her own stories.



Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/kay.latour.2015

Facebook Personal Page – https://www.facebook.com/kaylatour/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kay_latour  @kay_latour

Website/Blog FAE AND WITCHES AND GHOSTS-OH MY! – kaylatourweebly.com/index.html 

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/kaylatour/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/47638367-kay-latour

The Writer’s Toolbox                                        by Katie Oliver                                                          

The Writer’s Toolbox

                                                                                                                               by Katie Oliver


There are a great many “how-to-write” books out there. If you’re a writer, whether aspiring, published, or self-published, you’ll find shelves of reference books offering advice on everything from plotting and characterization to how to create realistic dialogue. They’re excellent resources on the craft of writing.

The problem is that one size does not fit all. There are those who swear by notecards, storyboards, scene-by-scene details. Others wing it with nothing more than an idea to get them started. Some write the ending first; others make it up as they go.

And really, any way is fine…as long as it leads to a finished, well-written book. What constitutes a well-written story, you ask? That’s where the writer’s toolbox comes in.

A book needs an inciting incident, a couple of major turning points, a dark moment of the soul, a denouement, and (for all but literary fiction), a happy ending. It needs compelling characters. Conflict. Emotion. It needs that certain something that sets it apart from all of the other stories out there. This is particularly true of genre fiction.

While a book needs a great cover, an enticing blurb, and a savvy marketing campaign, it’s what’s inside that determines whether readers will turn those pages and buy your next book, or put it aside and never pick it up again.

Some writers chafe at restrictions. They want to give free rein to their imagination and write. Which is fine for a first draft.

But study any beloved novel – Pride and PrejudiceWar and PeaceMadame Bovary – and you’ll find theme, symbolism, emotion, plot, and subplot (often more than one). But you’re not writing a fusty old classical novel, you counter? Doesn’t matter. The same principles – plot, theme, characterization, etc. – are present in modern published novels. Films, too. You simply cannot write a good story without utilizing these tools of the writer’s trade.

That said, here are a few tools EVERY writer should use.

Start in the middle of things. Something major and life changing is about to turn the protagonist’s life upside down. Things will never be the same again, and neither will your main character. It will take him or her the length of the story to figure things out, to grow and change along the way as a result.

Avoid clichés.  Don’t begin a story with an opening we’ve seen a thousand times before. Make your situations and characters unique and fresh.

Limit backstory. This relates not only to openings, but also to information dumps throughout the story. Details of your protagonist’s childhood, previous relationships, family background, etc. may be helpful, even necessary, to you the writer. But the reader will quickly grow bored. And you don’t want to bore your reader. Only provide background information that’s absolutely critical to the story.

Limit flashbacks. Use them only where necessary and keep them brief.

Build in conflict. In fiction, there’s no story without it. Conflict can be internal (I’m terrified of heights but I have to rescue my child from that high tree limb), external/nature (the road is washed out, I can’t get to the tree), or external/antagonist (my ex-husband disabled the car and stole my phone so I can’t call for help). You get the idea. Don’t ever make it easy for your main characters.

Consider theme as you write. It can be something as simple as “Love lost, love found” (The Great GatsbyGone With the Wind) or “absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Animal Farm,Macbeth).

Build in emotion. This is one of the first lessons I learned as a professional writer. Readers need to care about your characters, and without experiencing the highs and lows of their emotions, they won’t.

Establish a writing platform. You’ll need a platform to share your book on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram. Social media is your best friend if you use it wisely.

And finally, promote your book. But do it the right way.

A greatmany  writers Tweet an endless stream of book links on their feeds. They rarely interact with followers. They don’t express gratitude to followers for retweets. They don’t support indie published authors. They Tweet to the same readers, the same bloggers, without ever widening their scope. Big mistakes.

Be supportive, and others will support you. Reach out. Talk to people (and not just about books!). Thank them for retweets. Be interested, and they’ll be interested in you. I set aside an hour each morning to respond to Tweets, Facebook posts, and to post to Twitter and/or my author page.

Being a writer is exciting. It’s amazing, exhilarating…and sometimes, exhausting. It can also lead to burnout.

But despite the ups and downs, despite the occasional setbacks and disappointments, there’s still nothing else I’d rather do.



Katie Oliver is the best-selling author of Prada and Prejudice and the Dating Mr Darcy/Marrying Mr Darcy series. She loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in South Florida with her husband.


Website/blog: http://katieoliver.com/ko/blog/

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katiewriter/ – @katiewriter

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/katieoliver01/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7565829.Katie_Oliver

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@katieoliver01

Jane Austen Variations Author Page: http://austenvariations.com/aboutold/katie-oliver/




Prada & Prejudice  – myBook.to/Prada

Love & Liability – myBook.to/LoveandLiability

Mansfield Lark  – myBook.to/MansfieldLark


And the Bride Wore Prada – myBook.to/ATBWP

Love, Lies & Louboutins – myBook.to/LoveLiesLouboutins

Manolos in Manhattan – myBook.to/ManolosinManhattan


What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? – myBook.to/WWLBD

The Trouble With Emma –  myBook.to/TroubleWEmma

Who Needs Mr Willoughby? –  myBook.to/WNWilloughby


Writing Historical Mysteries by C.A. Asbrey

Writing historical Mysteries

By: C.A. Asbrey

History Quote

I was asked recently how to write a historical mystery, and even though I’m brand new at it I would imagine my approach is very much like everyone else’s.

Firstly, there are all the usual issues people encounter when setting a story in the past. Linguistic anachronisms can beam out of the page to those who know their period like a neon sign in a dark alley. People have to behave as they would have in the social stratifications of the time, and you absolutely must know the tiny details of how people lived and dealt with the minutiae of life. There’s no point in pricing something like bread at more than an average man would earn in a month. Nor does it help your story if you don’t know the basics on how your characters work, live, or play in whatever century you select.

I was once jolted out of a book because an eighteenth century aristocratic woman had been named ‘Holly’. That simply wouldn’t happen in England in that time period. Some of the non-conformist churches had a habit of calling their children non-traditional names, but the upper classes never did. The maid could have been called ‘Holly’ but her mistress? Never.

Civil War Actors

Anachronisms are easy to spot

History throws up many problems you won’t encounter writing any other kind of mystery. There are numerous pitfalls for the unwary. Not only do you have to build a believable universe, you have to put credible characters right in the middle of it and make them reveal the world you have carefully built by showing the readers their experiences. The reader needs to feel what they feel; the smell of the horseflesh, the clatter of the hooves, the sizzle of the cooking, and the creeping of the leeches.

Then there’s the speech patterns to think about. Local accents were stronger, with less exposure to strangers or the media to even them out. Slang and commonly used expressions can be quite impenetrable to modern ears. You can call someone a “dentiloquent bletcherous zounderkite” but you can make it clear what it means by the way people react to it.  Use slang and dialect lightly enough to create local colour, and leave the rest of the dialogue plain enough to be clearly understood. And bear in mind that what you think you hear may not be accurate at all. To this day there are thousands of Scots protesting that none us say ‘verra’ and never have; yet millions of people think it’s an accurate interpretation of the Scottish accent because it appeared in a well-known series of books. If you come from a different culture check with a local. It’s far too easy to get it wrong.  I certainly have and depend on good friends and editors to get it right.

A Boot Joke Cartoon

The answer is a simple as it is hard to achieve. Know as much as you possibly can about your subject, period, and characters. How did they do simple things like go to the toilet? Eat? Cook? WorK? What did they earn? What did the care about? Who did they defer to? How did they react to people who were different to them, or who failed to live by their social code? How did they wash and how often? Show this by having your characters do them in the story instead of writing descriptions about it. Also be careful that you don’t disappear down the rabbit hole when researching. It can be fascinating and engrossing and I’ve often looked up at the clock to find a whole day has gone by before I’ve realized.

Once you get over the problem of putting realistic characters in place and in period the mystery writer has another hill to climb. What is your mystery and how do you solve it? Of course we need to leave our path strewn with red herrings but they need to be historically possible too. What are the symptoms of poisoning and how did doctors test for them in your chosen period? How long would someone realistically take to die from a stab wound or a blow to the head? What weapons were available at that time and what evidence would they leave behind?

When you do your research make sure you know the source is absolutely credible and backed up by more than one source. The internet is full of inaccurate information and it’s vital to ensure the veracity of any facts you come across.

Just like any traditional mystery you need to assemble a cast of characters who include more than one credible perpetrator, more than one possible motive, and ensure that your detective in your chosen time period has the knowledge and the wherewithal to expose the murderer and prove the crime.

This whole post seems to throw up more questions than it answers, but there is an easy answer. Spend a lot of time getting under the skin of the people you write about and really know your subject. They say you should write what you know for good reason. When you have a good broad understanding of the period, do lots of research on each murder method, the evidence it would leave, and how that evidence would be interpreted in that era. There no point in choosing a poison which wasn’t detectable at the time and bringing in forensics which didn’t come in until later will definitely result in comments from readers.

At the end of the day you have to look at whether you are creating a historical treatise or telling a good story. To me the story is the most important thing and weaving all the historical detail through the tale until it’s no more than background to the main action. Don’t beat yourself up too much about a slight inaccuracy. Even history books contain errors, so historical fiction can hold its head up high if it evokes a sense of period and place which serves the story. The story is fiction. The people (and sometimes even the place) are inventions.

Historical Fictions Cartoon

One of the best examples of the story mattering more than detail in historical fictions comes from a famous anecdote. After his success with “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Broadway, Tennessee Williams had occasion to return to New Orleans where he was accosted by an uptown dilettante who chided him for his description of the streetcar lines. She told him if Blanche DuBois took the streetcars as described in his play, she wouldn’t end up on Elysian Fields Avenue. “They simply don’t run that way,” she said.

Williams replied, “Well, they should.”


The Innocents Book Cover

The Innocents (The Innocents Mystery Series Book 1) by C.A. Asbrey @prairierosepubs #historicalmystery #theinnocentsmysteries

 ”The Innocents“, by C.A. Asbrey published by Prairie Rose Press is now available to buy.

Pinkerton Detective Abigail MacKay is a master of disguises—and of new crime-solving technology! But she’ll have to move fast to stay a step ahead of Nat Quinn and Jake Conroy.

Nat and Jake are the ringleaders of The Innocents, a western gang that specializes in holding up trains carrying payrolls—and Nat is pretty savvy when it comes to using the new sciences of 1868 in committing his crimes.

Charismatic Nat and handsome Jake are on the run, and they’ve always gotten away before—before Abi. But when Abi is caught by another band of outlaws during the chase, there’s no other choice for Nat and Jake but to save her life. Abi owes them, and she agrees to help them bring in the murderer of a family friend.

The web of criminal activity grows more entangled with each passing day, but Nat, Jake, and Abi are united in their efforts to find the murderer. Once that happens, all bets are off, and Abi will be turning Nat and Jake over to the law. But can she do it? She finds herself falling for Nat, but is that growing attraction real? Or is he just using her to learn more about the Pinkertons’ methods? Abi always gets her man—but she may have met her match in her “best enemies”—THE INNOCENTS.


     “So, you want to pretend you’re a Pinkerton? As a female?” His eyes darkened. “I’ve questioned one before, although he didn’t know who I was. They’re trained real well on being both sides of interrogations. You don’t want to do this. Not as a woman. He had a real hard time. You’ll have it even harder.”
     She sat staring ahead once more, her face impassive and stony.
     “You’ve nothing to say?”
     Her eyes flashed. “Beating the hell out of me won’t change anything but my view of you.”
     Nat reached out and entwined a hard fist in her hair and dragged her backward until the chair balanced on the back legs. He brought his face close to hers, his hot breath burning into her cheek.  “Think harder, lady. This isn’t a game. Who are you?”
     Abigail felt the dragging pain at the back of her head as shards of pain lanced across her scalp. He held her, balanced between his painful grip and a clattering fall to the floor but her stubborn nature wouldn’t let her acquiesce.
     “Others will come after you, no matter what you do to me.” She darted her eyes to meet his, unable to move her pinioned head. “I won’t be the last.”

Blog – C.A Asbrey – all things obscure and strange in the Victorian period


The Innocents Mystery Series group


Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mysteryscrivener/

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/author/caasbrey

C.A. Asbrey


Blog – C.A Asbrey – all things obscure and strange in the Victorian period http://caasbrey.com/

The Innocents Mystery Series Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/937572179738970/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mysteryscrivener/

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/author/caasbrey


Twitter – https://twitter.com/CAASBREY


Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17899618.C_A_Asbrey


Link to book Link to book https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BMHFXSJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_wTSSAb8J40Q9H

The Art of Mystery Writing  by Marni Graff

The Art of Mystery

                                                                 by Marni Graff

Creating a mystery is so much more than creating a puzzle, yet that puzzle is at the heart of the matter. This dramatic structure has been in force for thousands of years in writing yet remains enormously popular. It’s one reason Agatha Christie’s work is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.

People who read traditional mysteries want to be involved in solving the puzzle, often to see if they can outwit the fictional detective or sleuth and arrive at the answer first. They also look for a sense of resolution at the end that restores order, and in most cases, for good to triumph over evil.

This leads the writer to consider three main types of mystery: the Whodunit, where the identity of the perpetrator is unknown; the Whydunit, where the criminal’s identity may be revealed early in the story but their motive is unknown; and the Howcatch’em, which focuses on the means by which hero/detective/investigator catches the culprit.

Writers must also take into account the violence meter, which ranges from low and more personal (think Miss Marple, cozies in general) to high and often to larger impersonal groups (as in action thrillers, espionage, global terrorists). By deciding how much violence you plan to include in your story, you are choosing which type of crime novel you want to write. For example, a police procedural may have a high level of violence but it is usually committed by a psycho- or sociopath and to one person at time.

At the lower end of the spectrum, you may have a killer who targets the people of his romantic obsession, as in a romantic suspense thriller.

You can see that these multiple combinations let the writer have tremendous freedom when choosing what kind of mystery he or she will write. Yet all of these subgenres will include literary devices such as red herrings, plot twists, foreshadowing and cliffhangers.

There is one distinction that can be made between mystery and suspense: when writing a true mystery, the reader will discover the events and clues along with the protagonist or other characters. In this regard, the reader expects the author to be fair and not throw in any convenient coincidences near the end. When writing suspense, the reader can and usually does know more than the protagonist. The author shows the readers things such as scenes from the perpetrators point of view and his or her mental state and plans, which the protagonist doesn’t know. This is what builds the suspense—will the hero figure it out in time to save himself or his lover or his family or his town?

I give my writing students this simple formula to help guide them as they write in any genre: Character and setting = story (Character is everything; plot is what you have them do as they move around your setting. You need engaging characters your readers will care to spend time with to keep them flipping pages).

Dialogue and behavior = character  (Use dialogue and behavior to illustrate who this person is by what they say, their body language and habits, their appearance, their philosophy, and their idiosyncrasies. All add texture to your creation).

By keeping the conventions of your chosen genre in mind, as well as the simple formula above, you’ll create a winning combination that will have readers turning pages to your resolution and asking for a sequel.


 Author’s bio

Marni Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the International Association of Crime Writers, and a frequent contributor to UK’s Mystery People.



Historical Time Travel and Mystery by Carol Pouliot

Historical Time Travel and Mystery

                                                                                                       by Carol Pouliot

I love finding a series with characters that grab me, making me want to follow their story over multiple books. That’s what I’m creating in The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series.

In Doorway to Murder, Depression-era cop Steven Blackwell comes face-to-face with 21st-century journalist Olivia Watson when time folds over in the house where they live−he in 1934, she in the present day. Because of her work, Olivia recently researched time-travel and recognizes Einstein’s theory. The theoretical physicist believed there is no past, present, or future, that all time happens simultaneously, and that time can fold over, revealing another “time.” Olivia tells Steven she thinks this is what they are experiencing. The skeptical detective, however, is unfamiliar with the theory and demands physical proof−hard evidence, he says. Olivia easily provides it. Thus, they begin a magical journey together.

I wanted my characters Steven and Olivia to reflect their own time but have the potential for a strong bond and understanding of each other. They are two halves of the same whole−yin and yang.

To begin, I gave Steven a fascination with the future. He reads science fiction and has a special affinity for the works of Jules Verne. At one point in Doorway to Murder, he compares himself to Verne’s characters Michel Ardan and Professor Von Hardwigg. Steven embraces all the latest crime-solving methods and technological advances available to him in the early years of the 20th century. He’s excited about J. Edgar Hoover’s new Federal Crime Lab in Washington, D.C. and everything the scientists there can do. He tells Olivia the Feds are compiling a list of fingerprints from all over the United States and that he, Steven, shares information and results pertaining to his cases. Steven exclaims, “This is the best time to be a cop!”

I created 21st-century Olivia with a nostalgia for the 1930s which, by the way, I share. She dreams about The Golden Age of Travel, when well-heeled travelers packed hat boxes, suitcases, and trunks and embarked on lengthy sea and rail voyages to exotic places. She’s hooked on Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto, and The Thin Man movies. She even named her kitten Mr. Moto!

To make it easier for Steven to believe what is happening to him and Olivia, I wanted him to be at a vulnerable point in his life. When Doorway to Murderopens, he is reeling from the recent unexpected and devastating death of his mother. Like other unmarried people of the time, Steven lived at home with his French-artist mother. His father is an admiral in the U.S. Navy who lives and works in Washington, D.C., only coming home on occasion. Because of the long hours and demands of his job, Steven has little social life. His mother had become his companion and confidante. Now, he’s lonely and misses her lively conversations.

I wanted Olivia to be focused on the adventure of meeting Steven, rather than Steven himself. At the start of Doorway to Murder, she’s getting over the betrayal of her ex-fiancé. She’s finding herself again and enjoying her active single life. She has no interest whatsoever in a new relationship. Olivia left her job as a reporter five years ago to form The Watson Agency, a research enterprise. Its success and her free-lance travel-writing career give her the opportunity to travel overseas, which she loves, and the freedom to set her own working hours, which allows her plenty of time to interact with Steven. When Olivia meets Steven, she boldly seizes the chance for the ultimate trip−one which will take her back in time.

Unlike many characters created by writers, Steven just was. With the exceptions noted above, Detective Sergeant Steven Blackwell came to me fully formed. I didn’t have to work on him. I was stunned when I realized that I knew him the first time I “saw” him. I had a strange experience (that’s a story for another time!) nearly fifty years ago when I saw the image of a young man. He was of average height and build with dark brown hair and eyes. At the time, he was dressed in a plaid flannel shirt and dark corduroy pants. As I wrote Steven’s story, he grew organically. Detective Sergeant Blackwell is a man on a mission. Whatever the circumstances surrounding an investigation, Steven drives himself to uncover the truth and get justice for the victim. In Doorway to Murder, the difficulties of the case lie in the absence of clues. In Threshold of Deceit, the second book in the series, Steven must ignore his disdain for the victim and his admiration and respect for his two main suspects in order to solve a murder.

In some ways, Steven and Olivia are quite different, but in their differences they balance each other. Where he is circumspect and weighs all sides of an issue, she is impulsive and often acts without thinking. He feels comfort in the order of rules and a daily routine. She is a free spirit and goes where the moment takes her.

To help in their understanding of each other, I wanted to be sure they shared some traits. They are fiercely loyal and expect loyalty from those around them. They are bold, adventurous, and exceptionally curious about the world around them, although Olivia has had more opportunities to travel. While each is a product of their time, they both have a strong sense of what is right for them and have created a life unique to themselves. Thanks to Steven’s bohemian mother, he is open-minded, non-judgmental, and more tolerant than many of his contemporaries. Although Olivia is interested in getting married and eventually having children, right now she does what she wants, when and how she wants.

In the past months, Steven and Olivia have forged a strong bond of friendship. He has told no one about her. She has confided in her two best friends. When one of her friends asks about any hint of a romance, Olivia shakes her head and comments, “But, how could we? In his time, I haven’t even been born yet. And right now, he’s probably been dead for years.”

Steven Blackwell and Olivia Watson still have a long road to follow. But we can be sure it will be filled with exciting adventures most of us can only dream about.



A Francophile since she was eleven years- old, Carol Pouliot dreamed of getting her passport, packing her suitcase, and going to Paris. After persuing her MA in French at Stony Brook University, she headed to France for her first teaching job. Later, she taught French and Spanish for over 30 years in Upstate New York, where she also ran an agency that provided translations in more than 24 languages. Passionate about travel, she has visited five continents. Doorway to Murder is the first in the Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series. The second novel, Threshold of Deceit, is forthcoming. Carol is currently working on the third book in the series, a Halloween mystery.

Doorway to Murder is available at www.BridlePathPress.com and Amazon.com

Visit Carol at www.carolpouliot.com

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001048955645


Mystery and History—The Perfect Blend  by Michelle Cox

Mystery and History—The Perfect Blend 

                                                                            by Michelle Cox

People often ask me why I write mystery and why I set them in the past, particularly Chicago in the 1930s.  What is it about this blend of genres that appeals?  Good question.

Mystery, I have to admit, is not my go-to shelf at the bookstore.  As a kid, I read every Trixie Belden, Happy Hollisters, and Encyclopedia Brown ever written, with an occasional Nancy Drew thrown in, but not so much as I grew older.  This was especially true when I went away to college and discovered what “real” literature was supposed to be.  Guiltily, then, I quickly tossed out all of my beloved mysteries— and romances, too, for that matter—and exchanged them for solid classics, which I threw myself into for roughly the next twenty years, gobbling up Dickens and Shakespeare and Wordsworth and Tennyson at an alarming rate.  But then, years later, after my third child was born, my brain inexplicitly turned to mush, and I found myself reverting back to more “entertaining” reads.

So it was that when I finally decided to try my own hand at writing a novel, I approached it from sort of a mixed background.  What first resulted was a somewhat sappy coming-of-age story set in the 1940’s Chicago and which was the size of three contemporary novels.  Tolstoy would have at least admired its length, if nothing else.  After spending a year trying to sell this tome to an agent, I finally declared it to be dead and stuffed it away in a drawer.

Starting over, I determined that if I wanted to actually sell something, not impress a lit professor, I would need to write something much shorter . . . not to mention something more fast-paced and sexy.  Something like . . . like a mystery, I thought triumphantly!  Yes, that would sell, I naively thought.  Not knowing the slightest thing about writing a mystery, however, I dug deep into my early reading experience as well as into all of the PBS or BBC period mysteries and dramas I had become addicted to over the years and was able to eventually produce A Girl Like You, which, mid-way through the writing of, I decided to turn into a series.

So, I publically admit here that I first chose mystery because I thought it would be more sellable.  Period.  But having thus delved into it, I found it to be a great fit for me, actually.  First of all, I’m very much a character writer, so coming up with intriguing plotlines has always been a little more challenging. Writing mystery was a great fix for this.  It forced me to concentrate on plot and give my characters something to do—solve the mystery.

And then there’s pacing.  Mystery has no time for soggy middles.  Each chapter of a mystery has to have a reason to be. The story has to clip along.  I often tell new mystery writers to watch any mystery or drama show on television as a reference.  Each scene is costing the filmmakers thousands of dollars to make, so each action or character in that scene absolutely has to have a reason to be there.  Following this example has made me a more concise, focused writer.

So mystery works for me on several levels.  And I think my books have been successful because, in a genre that is sometimes criticized for being tooslanted toward plot, I think it’s fair to say that I’m able to provide both elements that make up a good story—well-developed characters wrapped in fetching plots.

But now how to explain the historical connection?  Why set a good mystery in the past?

Well, there are several reasons for that, the first being the fact that I really don’t know enough about the modern world to write about it.  I can more easily explain how an antique telephone works more than I can a cell phone.  How does a microwave work?  Or the furnace?  A car?   It’s embarrassing, actually. Writing about the past lets me hide this pitiful truth about myself.  For the life of me, I simply wouldn’t be able to come up with a modern, realistic crime, much less have the sleuths be able to solve it.  Mining foreign social media data?  Selling harvested body parts?  Identity theft?  You can see already that I’m reaching.  And as for solving it . . . fancy phone apps?  GPS systems?  Satellite link-ups?  Again, this is probably sounding very ‘90s, at best.  Give me Colonel Mustard in the study with the candlestick any day.

Another disconcerting truth about me is that I’m actually not very good at coming up with a premise for a story.  I need something to start with, some strands of yarn, and then I can pretty creatively weave something out of them.  As it turns out, all my story prompts come from people who lived in the past.  Just after college, I started working in a nursing home on Chicago’s northwest side and delighted to find myself in a perfect treasure trove of stories from people who had lived through so much, including two world wars and the Great Depression.  Is it any wonder, then, when I began writing years later, that all of my novels would be set in the past?  Those tales, many of them stranger than fiction, have provided me with a wealth of reference material!

So when I was looking for a premise for my first novel—a mystery, I had already decided, as explained above—I naturally dug into said treasure trove and, after looking about a bit, eventually chose the story of an eighty-year old woman who had had this amazing life as a young girl in the 1930s in Chicago.   I didn’t take all of her story, of course, but I used various bits and pieces in the creation of A Girl Like You.  All I needed to do then was to insert some sort of crime, something suitably old-fashioned—like a murder, say—and voila!  A perfect mystery/history blend.  But then I couldn’t help myself, and I had to add the handsome, aloof inspector for a dash of romance as well!  But that’s a story . . . and yet another genre . . . for another time.


Author Bio:

Michelle Cox holds a B.A. in English literature from Mundelein College, Chicago, and is the author of the award-winning Henrietta and Inspector Howard series, as well as the weekly “Novel Notes of Local Lore,” a blog dedicated to Chicago’s forgotten residents. Cox lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and three children and is currently hard at work on the fifth book of the series.  She also sits on the Board of the prestigious Society of Midland Authors and is a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.

Website: http://michellecoxauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michellecoxauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/michellecox33

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michellecoxwrites/



Despite Adversity, There’s Always a Way to Publish by Nina Romano

Despite Adversity, There’s Always a Way to Publish

                                                              by Nina Romano


When I was writing poetry, I would send out poems to many different venues: literary magazines, journals in print and online magazines.  I kept circulating and sending out several poems a week, usually 12 to 20 and usually on a Friday, until I found myself with a good number of accepted publications.

Next, I added new poems to these already published ones to complete a theme and then turned the themed poems into a small chapbook of 24-40 pages or a complete collection of 60-80 or more pages. I would then include what I called “the book’s beginning pages.”  That is to say the title page, contents page, acknowledgments page, dedication page and an “About the Author” page to finish the book.  I love dedicating books! Then, I’d send out to poetry contests and/or small, independent publishers.

I didn’t win any contests for my poetry, but I did win Graduate Poetry one year at FIU while on the road to completing my MFA in Creative Writing, and it was for one of my best poems: “The Crucifixion of Garlic, ” which is in my first poetry collection, Cooking Lessons, and still available on Amazon!

I was fortunate to finish five complete collections and two poetry chapbooks and have all of them published with small, independent publishers.  When I knew the collection was going to be published, I’d begin asking poets and writers for blurbs. Networking at Writing Conferences and in Workshops, always pays off.  Talk to other authors.  Marketing these published collections was a completely different matter, and subject for another blog altogether.

However, poetry is not fiction. I tried for years to get an agent for my first and second novels.  I had an agent but without success of placing the first novel with a publisher.  I decided to take back the novel and write another one—the prequel.  After receiving dozens of rejection letters telling me what a great query letter I’d written, I realized I was batting my head against a stone wall trying to “hook” an agent, so I decided a different tack.

I had my collection of short stories, always difficult to place, accepted by Kitsune Books, but sadly the wonderful owner/editor Anne Petty passed away, so I published The Other Side of the Gates with Bridle Path Press, a cooperative kind of publication, since then we’ve parted ways and I own the rights to my collection. But when it came to my novels, I wanted to go the traditional route and not self-publish.  So I skipped the agonizing and grueling querying to agents and started submitting to small, independent publishers.

I looked up three in the category of where I best thought my novels would find a good fit—historical romance—and selected three publishers in a list of one hundred of the best ones for novels, and sent to them.  I hit, luckily with the first one I’d sent to, Turner Publishing, but if I hadn’t it was my intention to query every single solitary one that I had marked off on that list. Determination and persistence is the name of the game. I published the Wayfarer Trilogy with them, three novels: The Secret Language of Women, Lemon Blossoms, and In America.  All of the novels finished as Finalists in various Book Contests, and the first one won an Independent Publishers IPPY gold medal.  But that didn’t give me a free pass to have all my novels published with them—so you keep submitting and if they don’t take it, you try someplace else.

Or you decide to self-publish like these famous authors did: E.L James, Beatrix Potter, E.E.Commings, Stephen King, Mark Twain, Virginia Wolf, Rudyard Kipling, Gertrude Stein, Anais Nin, Stephen crane, Walt Whitman, Alexander Dumas, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Henry David Thoreau, to name but a few.

You can publish on blogs—yours and other people’s as a guest blogger.  There’s a blog on your author page of Goodreads, and there’s an “About the Author” page on Amazon, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find many other places to market yourself and your titles, or at least write about yourself and what you love doing: writing. The point is that if you want to see your words in print remember: “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and just keep seeking.

In the words of the James W. Hall, “Master of Suspense” and the Thorn mystery series, said the last day of an undergraduate writing workshop at FIU, “There are dozens of better writers than me, I just stuck with it.”  Thanks, Jim, your words have served me well! So here it is short and bittersweet: perseverance and tenacity are key and almost as important as the writing itself.


Author’s Bio

Nina Romano earned a BS from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a BA and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. She’s a world traveler and lover of history.  She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks with independent publishers. She co-authored Writing in a Changing World.  Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.

Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy has been published from Turner Publishing. The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award. Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist, and In America, Book #3, was a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.

More about the author at: www.ninaromano.com


Why Do I Write Chick Lit? by Melissa Westemeier


Why Do I Write Chick Lit?

                                                by Melissa Westemeier

Sure, the genre sounds sappy–it shares a name with a type of candy, for Pete’s sake! Yet chick lit isn’t typical romance writing, it’s a little less formulaic and it has broader appeal. I wrote my first novel, Whipped, Not Beaten, a few years after Oprah started her book club. I loved Oprah’s picks–at first. But after a while they all seemed the same: stories about abusive people, people who’d survived terrible hardships, people who faced injustices, depression, addiction, assault. After a while all of those sad stories start to wear on a reader. I wanted to read something lighter, brighter–a palate-cleanser, if you will. That type of book wasn’t easily found, but chick lit consistently provided me with a good story and characters I could root for. There weren’t many chick lit writers at the time, so I decided to write what I craved: a feel-good story with a happy ending.
The first trick with chick lit is to create a character with flaws. This makes them personable, relatable and genuine. In Whipped, Not Beaten Sadie Blair is a bit of a klutz, she has money trouble and she’s emotionally wounded from a bad break up. All of these are problems typical to young women, but they aren’t the kind of flaws you read about in a typical romance novel. In those the heroine never gets a pimple, always has a fortune and their biggest problem is somehow being misunderstood. Boo-hoo, right? In real life people screw up, fall down, go broke and spill their drinks. When writing about characters that do these things, there’s opportunity for humor and for moments when the reader nods and thinks, I feel you, Sadie.

The second trick–and biggest trick–is plot. Trouble has to heap up and rain down on the protagonist. Guess what? Creating a character with real-life problems makes it easy to advance the plot. Sadie’s broke. She recognizes the potential in home party sales. She signs on to sell Coddled Cuisine. She can’t cook. She has to build an independent business against the odds. She has to build that business while still performing at her day job at Wisconsin Public Radio. More trouble? She shows up to do a party for a bridal shower and learns the guest of honor is her ex-boyfriend’s fiancé! In his apartment, no less! In a lot of ways writing chick lit storylines comes easy because daily struggles do snowball into bigger problems. We’re all crawling our way out of some mess or other–why not mine our own disaster zones for the purpose of great plotting? (And on the outside chance that you’re blessed with a drama-free life, you can always mine your friends’ lives!)
The third trick is adding humor. Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Shopaholic series and Simply Divine gave readers reasons to laugh. Everyday problems often are funny–“Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse.” Add it in. Sadie’s come under pressure to attend a co-worker’s scrapbooking party. She doesn’t scrapbook. She can’t cut a straight line. She gets assaulted by the family dog, spills chips and dip on the hostess’s shag carpeting and ends up yelling at the hostess’s bratty kids when she snaps. At the end of the chapter she rides the bus home, stained with sour cream and onion, tears and slobber. Amping up the drama in chick lit always brings the laughs.

I write mainly for a female audience–women like me who have normal lives and problems and need to read the literary equivalent of a hot fudge sundae. But my audience is much bigger than that, a lovely discovery that came from my husband’s co-worker. She’d bought Whipped, Not Beaten for her mother, who brought it on vacation to read. When the co-worker asked her mother how she liked the book, the mother replied, “I haven’t read it yet. Your father won’t put it down!” Here’s the deal: MEN like chick lit, too. They like it for all of the same reasons: it’s relatable, plot-driven and funny. They like the happy endings, when each character gets their just desserts, ala Jane Austen. Many of my biggest fans are men, something I never would have expected, but it stands to reason because chick lit truly is good lit.
Author Bio

Melissa Westemeier teaches high school English, tends a huge garden, raises three sons and writes. Her published novels include: Whipped, Not Beaten, Kicks Like a Girl, and Across the River.  Coming out in April is the sequel, On the River. Westemeier leads workshops about writing humor, using Wisconsin as a setting.

Her next appearances will be at the Green Bay’s Book and the Author Festival UntitledTown, April 19-22


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