March 31, 2022

The Mystery? Which of These Three Would You Choose?

See if you agree with the

 Amazon Editors' Picks: Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. 

Here are the first three books out of the fifteen they chose.

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson: Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke—until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list.

First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor, and they’re located all over the country. So why are they all on the list, and who sent it?

FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. Could there be some dark secret that binds them all together? Or is this the work of a murderous madman? As the mysterious sender stalks these nine strangers, they find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be crossed off next…

Family Money by Chad Zunker: A dead man’s secrets put a family in peril in a twisting novel of suspense by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of the David Adams series.

Alex Mahan is married to his high school sweetheart, Taylor. They have two daughters and a beautiful home, and Alex’s startup business is about to explode thanks to massive private funding from his compassionate and supportive father-in-law, Joe. With millions more to come, all is perfect—until Joe is abducted and murdered during a family trip in Mexico.

Alex’s world is about to be turned upside down. He can’t bear to tell his grieving wife why. The man they’ve both idolized has been keeping secrets. The pledged millions are nowhere to be found. The source of the original investment is a mystery, even to Joe’s financial adviser. No one, it seems, has any idea who the man they knew, loved, and trusted really was.

As Alex digs deeper into Joe’s shadowy life, the most shocking surprises are yet to come. Deadly ones, too, because every lie that Alex uncovers in Joe’s dark past puts his family in more danger.

Reptile Memoirs by Silje Ulstein(author), Alison McCullough, (translator):
A bestselling Norwegian debut already sold in thirteen territories, Reptile Memoirs is a brilliantly twisty and unusual literary thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Jo Nesbø, Kate Atkinson, and Tana French, asking the question: Can you ever really shed your skin?

Liv has a lot of secrets. For her, home is the picturesque town of Ålesund, perched on a fjord in western Norway. One night, in the early-morning embers of a great party in the basement apartment she shares with two friends, Liv is watching TV, high on weed, and sees a python on an Australian nature show. She becomes obsessed with the idea of buying a snake as a pet. Soon Nero, the baby Burmese python, becomes the apartment's fourth roommate. As Liv bonds with Nero, she feels extremely protective, like a caring mother, and she is struck by a desire that surprises her with its intensity. Finally she is safe.

Thirteen years later, in the nearby town of Kristiansund, Mariam Lind goes on a shopping trip with her eleven-year-old daughter, Iben, who angers her mother by asking for a magazine one too many times. Mariam storms off, leaving Iben in the shop and, expecting her young daughter to find her own way home, heads off on a long calming drive. When she returns home in the evening, her husband is relieved to see her but terrified that Iben isn't also there. Detective Roe Olsvik is assigned to the case of Iben's disappearance; he has just turned sixty and is new to the Kristiansund police department. As he interrogates Mariam, he instantly suspects her—but there is much more to this case and these characters than their outer appearances would suggest.

A biting and constantly shifting tale of family secrets, rebirth, and the legacy of trauma, Reptile Memoirs is a brilliant exploration of the cold-bloodedness of humanity, and the struggle to mend broken lives and families.

Which of these three would you choose to read?

To see Amazons Editors' Picks click here.

March 30, 2022

The Line: In Search of It

Sara M. Robinson

In search of the perfect, or at least the ideal, poetic line. I don’t know about any other poets, but I am in search of “the line of all lines.” I can’t describe it for you, but like my search for the perfect onion ring, I’ll know it when I see it.

Some time back, in one of my earlier Southern Writers columns, I wrote about the line in poetry. A quick review: The line in poetry is simply composed, but complex in its action. How’s that for possible confusion. Let’s take a look at some brief poetry lines and see how this works. In his poem, “In a Station of the Metro,” Ezra Pound gave us these amazing lines: “The apparition of these faces in the crowd: / Petals on a wet, black bough.” Many critics would argue that these two lines are among the best ever written. The metaphor and imagery are key here. So, we know something more about a poetic line: It should contain metaphor; and it should conjure up images for our minds to latch onto. This poem, The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos Williams is another example: “so much depends/ upon / a red wheel / barrow / glazed with rain / water / beside the white / chickens.” He wants us to take each line, each single word, slowly and thoughtfully. Amazing. Here’s one of mine, from the poem, The Root of Faults. “Mountain of no roots / slips ledge by ledge / bench by bench / into the bitter water” //…

What about length or number of words? As we can see above perhaps brief is better, but there has to be meaning. There is a poetic line in the Bible that is considered the shortest line in the Book: “Jesus Wept.” Two words that for many speak volumes. The greatest mistress of the short, but powerful, poetic line is Emily Dickinson. It is hard for me to pick one out, but here is one that certainly is representative of her talent: “I dwell in possibility— / A fairer house than Prose— /” … The vastness of that initial line offers unlimited options for her “house” which stands in as a metaphor for her poetry.

Another key element in the line is making inanimate objects life-like. Again from Ms. Dickinson, “The duties of the Wind are few,” … Immediately I think I should list some of the duties! The rest of the poem directs us to see nature as the epitome of a poetic topic.

I love the poet, Billy Collins. For me he is every person’s poet. His poems are so accessible that you can easily relate. And his use of humor is extraordinary. Here is a line from one of my favorites of his: “the trouble with poetry is / that it encourages the writing of more poetry, / more guppies crowding in the fish tank / … // And how will it ever end?/ ...”

We should hope that the writing will never end. My hope is that we all find that perfect line, whether or not we even wrote it. No matter. In our hearts and minds, we can claim it.

Like me, I hope you will keep searching.

Until next time.

Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).

March 29, 2022

Suite T Nostalgic Moment with DiAnn Mills

Nostalgic Moment

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A Twelve-Step Program for NOT Becoming a Successful Writer

DiAnn Mills

We fiction writers chase successful and entertaining stories like toddlers on a sugar-high. I’m one of them. I can dream and plan and plot all day long. Yet sometimes we can be stopped cold by research, social media, and the reality of all the hard work writing takes.

For writers who live and breathe their writing addiction but have a problem staying on task, I’m offering a twelve-step program called Story Chasers (SC). These are writers who want to be called authors but don’t want to do the necessary work. That is not us! So, let’s beware.

1. Pacifier Writers

A pacifier is used to keep a baby from crying. In the instance of a writer, it’s whining about the publishing industry instead of writing better manuscripts.

2. Paint Writers

Don’t paint your world with illusions such as, “My mom says I’m the best writer in the state. I don’t need feedback.” If you want realistic feedback, ask someone other than a relative.

3. Passionless Writers

If a writer’s passion is not for his/her story idea, then a reader won’t be enthusiastic about it either. Develop ideas that keep you excited about the project.

4. Peacock Writers

Ouch. Pride stops us from success. It also brands us as unteachable. A humble writer learns the craft, develops a sense of the market, and is enthusiastic about edits.

5. Peanut Writers

George Washington Carver discovered 325 uses for the peanut. A peanut writer pens everything from T-shirt sayings to theology books. We all have varied interests, and that’s commendable, but find your writing niche and stick with it.

6. Perspiration Writers

Some writers don’t like to sweat. If you’re not dripping over your manuscript, then you’re not writing a quality story. Writing is a contact sport: your mind is engaged with your heart and fingers. Sweat. It’s good for the soul.

7. Pickle Writers

Weak writers are afraid to write themselves into a pickle. They don’t want the challenge of discovery, research, or unpredictable outcomes. They also don’t sell their work.

8. Plumber Writers

Plumber writers flush all their work down the toilet and never seek publication. Need I say more? Find your confidence and reach your goals.

9. Plywood Writers

Plywood is flexible, inexpensive, easy to work with and reusable. But it’s very hard to bend perpendicular to the grain. A plywood writer refuses to accept constructive criticism or change with the industry. In short, a plywood writer insists upon writing his/her way.

10. Popcorn Writers

Popcorn writers are those who jump from one frying pan to another. They submit, are rejected, and submit again without looking at the manuscript for ways to improve it.

11. Potato Writers

Some writers don’t want to write for free. It’s beneath them. Small potatoes grow into big ones, and those nonpaying manuscripts build our resume. A writer always learns in the creative process.

12. Piranha writers

Some writers will do anything to keep from writing. They like to swim through swift
waters with published writers, but they have one excuse after another not to work. They never make deadlines, even self-imposed ones. Piranha writers set themselves up to be devoured by the sharks who are swimming upstream.

If you’ve discovered a characteristic that slides you into a Story Chaser mode, now’s the time to change bad habits and begin the next bestseller. How are you changing your writing habits?

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. You can download a list of her published titles by clicking here.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a former director of Blue Ridge Christian Writers, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She shares her passion for helping other writers be successful by teaching writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

For more info visit DiAnn Mills at:


March 28, 2022

Hawthorne Said It Best If We Listen!


Happiness! Now there is a word. So many people think they know what happiness is. They always seem to think it is on the outside, and like Hawthorne said, they chase the happiness just like kids chase a butterfly. But like the kids, we cannot catch happiness.

Happiness is a feeling of contentment.  Pharrell Williams in Happy says:

So can we trust our feelings? Maybe. 

For writers. maybe happyiness is putting those words that run around in our head to paper. For a gardener happiness may be putting  seeds into the ground and nurturing with food and water and see the flowers pop through the soil and grow tall.  For parents, it is holding their precious baby at birth.  

And George Savige imparts his thoughts on happiness to us in his poem Happiness.

So if Hawthorne is right, and we quit chasing happiness, and sit down and be quiet, will it alight on us?

March 25, 2022

The Writing Life—The good, the bad, and the hammer

Vickie Carroll

When one retires, it’s a time to relax and enjoy doing nothing or expanding a hobby, so the myth goes. What no one tells you is that after years of structure, being productive, having set goals and challenges, that not having any can be a problem. Trust me on this.

Fortunately for me, when retirement came for me, I had been writing for years as time permitted, so I had things to do, I just didn’t know how to restructure my time and set goals and challenges for the writing life. It has taken a few years of hit-and-miss, but finally in 2020, in Covid semi-isolation, I figured it out. Writing is a lot of things, but it’s not just a creative enterprise. It’s a business and I had to learn to treat it as such. I set daily goals, monthly goals, and yearly goals. I now had/have my new life structure, and the best part—I am the boss.

I love mysteries. I love watching them on television (it’s possible I could make the record books if I could confirm my Midsomer Murders and Miss Marple repeated viewing). I also love reading books based on a mystery; and in general, this genre makes up the bulk of my entertainment. Naturally, that is what I wanted to write about. My most recent cozy mystery series, Prediction: Murder has done well. They were released as they came out in 2021, and then released as a set more recently. I have written a few “less cozy” mysteries as well. Meaning a few with a paranormal element that are still up on Amazon.

The Prediction: Murder series is based on a woman who goes back to her hometown in Steepwick, Maine after her cousin Hazel dies unexpectedly from a mysterious fall down the basement stairs. Harper, the main character, learns that not only has Hazel left her a business, her thriving bookstore, but her house and a quirky dog named Einstein. Harper decides to stay in Steepwick because she has a nagging feeling that Hazel’s fall was not an accident. Along the way to finding out more about her cousin’s former life, she also finds a few family secrets that her parents had kept from her. The reader follows Harper as she learns who she really is, and why there were secrets about her family heritage. There are people in Steepwick who know her family secrets, and with a little help from them, she comes to terms with her heritage, and solves the mystery surrounding her cousin’s death. I was ready to move to this town by the end of the story. Sadly, I came out of my writer’s trance and realized it was “just a story” and I had to come back to reality.

As I looked around for my next project, I ended up doing one more mystery, “A Room with a Clue” for another publisher. It’s about life in a retirement village, and a couple of women who found it boring. But after the main character, Agnes literally falls over a dead body in a wine cellar on a house-sitting job, things pick up. Agnes pulls in a fun cast of characters in the Happy Years Retirement Village in Florida and takes them with her on her crime solving escapade.

So, I went from Maine to Florida, and then this year I settled in Georgia. I not only have a new book location, but an entirely new era that has fascinated me enough to contribute to a new series. I have stepped out of the mystery genre and stepped into romantic-historical world. My newest books (2 unrelated books by character and place but in same era and vein) are both about “Letters from Home” during World War II, a new bigger series from my publisher. I am contributing two books, and the first, “I’ll be Seeing You” will be out in May, and the second, “We’ll Meet Again” will be out in the fall (I say with fingers crossed.)

There is nothing like the writing life because it requires use of both sides of the brain, the business and the creative. It can be painful, fun, challenging, maddening, and frustrating, all in the same hour. I have a friend who, when having a bad run, or when she gets a bad review, always says, “why don’t I just go hit myself over the head with a hammer, it would be less painful.” While I never threaten that, I know what she means. It is painful to put one’s heart and soul into a story, spend weeks and weeks living it, and then have someone give it a bad review, or worse, the book just doesn’t sell, and you can’t figure out why. But rejection is part of life in general, and the writing life in particular. A good writer will just chalk it up as a learning experience and go on. That’s what I tell myself. I have been lucky never to have gotten a one-star review (again, fingers crossed) but I’d like to think I’d deal with grace and good sense, like a woman of experience—if not, there is always the hammer.


 Vickie Carroll is a published author of eight fiction books (Sweet Promise Press and The Wild Rose Press). You can find them on Amazon. She has an article coming out this summer in the CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly, about her journey to find Judaism.

March 24, 2022

On Finishing a Series with your Readers in Mind

Heather Day Gilbert

I've concluded a couple of my series at this point in my author career, and I've found that each final book presents its own challenges. On March 14, 2022, I'll be winding up my bestselling A Murder in the Mountains Christian mystery series with Book 4, False Pretense.

It's a delightful—yet somewhat daunting—experience to have readers contact you, asking when the next book in a series will release, and my readers have been actively asking about A Murder in the Mountains' finale since Book 3 released in 2017.

Readers play a critical role in my all of my indie (independently published) series. In the case of False Pretense, I sent out a couple of polls and my readers actually helped me choose the best title for it.

I think there are other ways authors can seek to please their readerships when winding up a series. If you're an author coming up on your grand finale book, here are some ideas to keep in mind:

1. Bring in readers' favorite characters for a final goodbye.

A good series will make us feel close to the characters—including the side characters. Think of Hastings in Agatha Christie's Poirot books, or Reepicheep the mouse in The Chronicles of Narnia. We need to see how their stories end, too.

For instance, each book in my Hemlock Creek Suspense series followed the romance of a sibling in the McClure family. In the final book, Deadlocked, I wound up both sisters' trajectories (married, jobs, etc.), as well as steering the brother into his happily-ever-after relationship.

In False Pretense, I'll be pulling in all my readers' favorite side characters. For instance, I'll show what happened with the boy my main character was fostering at the end of Book 3, and I'll also reveal the highly anticipated backstory of a tall and extremely mysterious German character who has appeared in every book.

2. Work in feedback from reviews and make the last book stronger than all the rest.

Book 1 in my Murder in the Mountains series, Miranda Warning, was published in 2014, and at this point, it has 898 reviews on Amazon.

I've read every single one.

Of course, as you would expect, some are simply from haters who will never pick up another of my books, but many of the well-reasoned ones have given me a clue as to things I can strengthen in following books in the series.

For instance, I don't do a villain's point of view at the start of chapters anymore, since several readers found that confusing in Book 1. For False Pretense, we stay solidly in my main character's head.

My readers also appreciate that my main character (Tess Spencer) has a great relationship with her in-laws next door and that she's in a healthy marriage. Both of these family aspects will be heavily featured in Book 4.

3. By this point, your characters feel real to you because you've spent so much time with them. It's the same for your readers, so make sure you get the details right.

Many authors keep spreadsheets or notebooks with details on all the characters in a series (often called a "series bible"). For instance, what color hair/eyes does each character have? How old are they? What's their favorite restaurant, book, or song? What is their MBTI personality type, etc.?

Before starting my latest Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series (with ten books planned in the series), I took a tip from mystery author Tonya Kappes. She buys a black address book and uses it to organize details on the characters from her series by name.

This made a lot of sense to me since I'm not great with spreadsheets—I'm one of those old-school authors who uses a physical calendar instead of my phone calendar. So, it made sense to have a physical "little black book" with all the details I've included in the series. Otherwise, I'd have to go back and search my previous files for the specifics with each new book I write.

But no worries if you're on your final book and you didn't keep a series bible. Just be sure to go in check that the details from previous books match up with your latest. It'll take time, but it's well worth it. Trust me, your loyal readers will notice if someone suddenly jumped up a few years in age or if their hazel eyes switched to bright blue.

4. Set up a preorder and get buzz going early for your final book—at least three months in advance, if possible.

I love being able to tell readers the final book they've been waiting for is coming out, and I'll link them directly to a preorder page on Amazon (which includes the book blurb and finalized book cover), or at the very least, I'll link to the book on Goodreads (which doesn't have to have the cover, just the blurb). I make sure the upcoming release is something my readers can share with friends and order early, if they use Kindle. I also drop the cover art to my newsletter readers as soon as it's finalized, and I often share a teaser excerpt to my newsletter readers pre-publication, as well. This is also a great time to share graphics featuring author endorsements you've received for your upcoming release on all your social media outlets.

5. Once the book is out, don't look back. Keep moving forward with your next series.

Let's say that final book doesn't bring in the 5-star reviews or the income you'd hoped for. You can't waste time looking back and wishing you'd done something differently—the book is published, and it's already been read. Instead, look ahead to your next series and make that one stronger than the last, based on your reader reviews and input. Know that your loyal readers will continue to follow you (unless you jump to a completely different genre) and feel encouraged that you now have a completed series to market. You can even make it into a boxed set(s). In 2021, I boxed my completed Hemlock Creek Suspense series and got a Bookbub deal ad on it, and that set alone accounted for almost a third of my income that year (Note—I'm in Kindle Unlimited).

Here's hoping that your grand finale books will be everything your fans have been hoping for! Can you name an example of a series finale that felt completely satisfying to you? Comment below!

Award-winning novelist Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing mysteries and Viking historicals. She brings authentic family relationships to the page, and she particularly delights in heroines who take a stand to protect those they love. Avid readers say Heather's realistic characters—no matter what century—feel like best friends. When she's not plotting stories, this native West Virginian can often be found hanging out with her husband and four children, playing video games, or reading Agatha Christie novels. 

Find out more at

March 23, 2022

Am I Done With This Poem?

Sara M. Robinson

When is a poem finished? How do you know when you have reached the end of your poetry piece?

For some of you who have kept up with either my Southern Writers columns or my Suite T blogs, this may sound like I am resurrecting old stuff. But hang in there with me, I have some new things to say about finishing a poem.

When we are writing, and we believe we are coming to the end of the poem, the “finish line,” as it were, are we saying that the poem is good at this time? Is there more to write, or have I written too much? And now when I go back, I realize I finished the poem in several places before I came to my perceived “end.” Was I really done? Is where I am really “good.”?

How many poems have you read, where you asked if the poet really meant to stop there?

I’ve read my share, and that includes my own. Some poets stop intentionally before they finish.

Does that seem odd? Sure, we read a poem, think that the poet stopped too soon. But that is our opinion. We can’t guess intention. Take this ending from Billy Collins’ poem, “Hippos on Holiday”: “Only a mean-spirited reviewer/ would ask on holiday from what?” Of course, this ending is taking out of context, but he does end the poem with a question mark, which is a great way to leave the reader to determine from herself whether the poem is done.

Now you ask, where am I going with this? I want to convey that good poems need to come across as finished. When you say the poem is done, in your view, the poem is good when it is done.

I often choose many endings or closings for one poem. I have to have enough plans for when I decide I am done and what I have written is good. This is when revision becomes important. I know. I know. Many poets hate to revise. But I’ve shared this before: I love revision. Between when I create the first rendering and when I finish the piece, I might go through 5 to 10 or more versions. And when I finally settle on something, this is how the poem tells me it is done. Here is a little trick I use: I reverse the order of the poem to see if the first line is a better ending than the last line. You might find yourself surprised if you try this.

I have finally gotten to the point: The poem will tell you when you are done. When you write, listen and read carefully so you don’t miss hearing, “that’s it, we’re done. And it is good.”

Until next time…

Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).

March 22, 2022

What Will You Leave?


Today, Henry David Thoreau  is considered among the greatest of all American writers and the intellectual inspiration for the conservation movement. 

While I love his quote above, and believe that if we each work on being better as a person we will have influence in our world, I do not agree that he is the greatest of all American writers.

We have many writers who have come and gone, who are also great in their own right. I think there is room for all of them. Don't you?

I think we can all strive to write better, learn more, and be in the moment as a person and as a writer.

Over the years, I have enjoyed many different genres and authors. I always try to read books written by new authors and follow some of them; and like all writers, the more they write, the better they become. 

As a reader, I am cautious about what I read. If I am going to spend my time reading a book, I want to know the book will either be entertaining or informative.  We all have certain core values as people, and I want to protect my core values and not allow things I read or see to erode my values. So that is why I am cautious.

It is important that writers know their readers, and that readers know their writers. When the two mesh it becomes an excellent relationship between the two.

What we believe is important, whether we are writing or just living each day. Let us try to leave something worthy to make the world a better place for those who are still here in writing and living.

Susan Reichert, author of Listen Close, Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. Published numerous magazine articles and stories in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. She is the retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine. Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals, prayers, and inspirational works.

She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own. Susan is a member of the DAR and a member of the First Families of Mississippi

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March 21, 2022


George Encizo

Why the book, and why the title Anguished? After three books in the JD Pickens series, I wanted to continue the series with Pickens and add more depth to his character, and what better way to delve into his character than to create angst in his life, which began as one of the titles.

I use a whiteboard as Pickens does and list plots and titles. The plots just come, and the titles follow. I never know what I’m going to write about; just plot and go, that’s my motto. I began by referring to the last paragraph in Murder Knows No Boundaries when Pickens receives an urgent call while on vacation with his wife and daughter. That would have been a good start, but I wanted something more dramatic, so I chose a 911 call about a man getting mugged and the caller wishing to remain anonymous.

The victim was Pickens’s father and ended up in a coma in the hospital. I wanted to see if Pickens would be stoic or fragile or both. I asked myself how I would react to my father getting mugged, in a coma, and possibly at death’s door. I also asked what readers would do, and that’s how the plot thickened.

I glanced at my whiteboard and saw that some of the potential plots would make good chapters and scenes. Without a definitive outline, I began writing chapters in no specific order. Later I would put them in order as the story evolved. Like when Pickens discovers, his father was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and someone else’s father was the intended victim. Now I had two sons wanting to avenge their fathers’ muggings, but how would they do it. Apart or together?

Once that was resolved, I added more angst to Pickens by having his best friend shot in the back and left for dead. Then I had another friend shot. Trust me, Pickens had more angst than anyone could handle, but Pickens was Pickens and managed to weather the storms. I also showed his humble and caring side by attempting to help an abused boy. I’m not Pickens, but I had difficulty dealing with his angst. But since I’m the author, I had to suck it up and write the story because I knew there would be no book if I didn’t. It’s another reason I enjoy writing this series and writing about Pickens.

With all the angst in Pickens’s life, I settled on the title Anguished as it seemed fitting. That title was never on my whiteboard, but I liked it, and now you know why Anguished won out in the end.


George Encizo is the author of several award-winning novels. His first novel, Blocker’s Bluff, was published in 2013. Since then he has published seven more. A retired banker and an accomplished watercolorist, Encizo took to writing because of arthritic fingers and could no longer hold and control a brush. In need of a creative outlet, he turned to writing and has been writing over a decade.
His second novel, The Farber Legacy, was awarded a gold medal in the 2015 Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Awards. Since then, his other novels have also won awards.
His latest novel, Anguished is the fourth in a series of JD Pickens Mysteries. He is currently working on more in the series.
When not writing, he is either in the gym or working in the garden with his wife. He gets inspiration from everyday life and ideas come to him from out of nowhere. He and his wife live in Florida.

March 18, 2022

Suite T Nostalgic Moment with Cliff Yeargin


Monday, March 20, 2017


By Cliff Yeargin

I am a storyteller. I work daily in network television and I write mysteries. The two are very different crafts. Television is more a collaborative process in the beginning while writing breeds solitude. But the two also share some very similar traits and challenges when it comes to telling a story. A story bubbles up from one person and as it flows downriver it can often get lost in the muddy waters of teamwork. In TV we have layers of producers, legal, show team executives and reporters that weigh in on each story. For a writer there are agents, editors and publishers to chime in as the story navigates the rapids.

The biggest challenge today in television storytelling is technology. When I first told a story for TV it was just me, one camera and the subject. Today we have a dizzying array of tools. Tiny cameras you can mount on a moving car or maybe a skateboard or even the head of a monkey. Add a drone in the sky and you can end up with hours of footage. Software in our editing process now makes it a snap to add almost any special effect in mere seconds. Once we spit out the final version we often stand around and pat ourselves on the back about how cool it looks. Except for one thing. One big thing. Sinking under all the muddy water of cool tools we have lost the STORY. Viewers at home aren’t as impressed as we are with our toys and all they wish to see and hear is the story. In television the best editing is editing those goes unnoticed by the viewer.

Telling a story in fiction can face challenging water as well. When you set out to write a book the first thing you think about is what story do I want to tell. You are not concerned with revisions, marketing or sales because at that moment you are just telling a story. Even that calm water can turn muddy if you spend too much time trying to turn prose into poetry when your skills don’t reach that level or imitating the style of your favorite writer instead of searching for your own voice. An overwritten fanciful sentence may delight your inner muse but no reader is likely to tell a friend about your book by saying “I just read one of the most beautifully crafted sentences.” They are however much more likely to tell them about a “great story” they just finished.

From the time of cavemen around the fire to the old man next to the pot-bellied stove at the general store, the person who demanded the most attention was the storyteller. We are the storytellers of today. Television or fiction the goal should be to steer clear of muddy waters and narrow our journey downriver to one simple thing…the story.

To paraphrase former President Bill Clinton’s laser focus on the economy…

“It’s the STORY…Stupid.”

Cliff Yeargin has spent his life as a “Storyteller”, the bulk of that in a long career in Broadcast Journalism as a Writer, Producer, Photographer and Editor. Most of those years were spent covering sports, particularly Major League Baseball, where in Baltimore he was lucky enough to cover Cal Ripken Jr.’s very first and very last game…and hundreds in between. He is the author of the Award Winning Jake Eliam ChickenBone Mystery Series.The books include the introductory RABBIT SHINE and the second in the series HOOCHY KOOCHY which was named The Georgia Author of The Year Silver Medal Finalist in the Mystery Category for 2016; then MUDCAT MOON, BIRDDOG BOOGIE, AND SWEET TATER TANGO. Today he has returned to his native Georgia and works at CNN. Follow Jake, Catfish and the rest in this Southern Fried Mystery Series.

March 17, 2022

Suite T Nostalgic Moment with Adriana Girolami


Adriana Girolami said, "I am a historical author and credit my inspirations to the haunting beauty of the old continent of Europe since I was born there. It helped me to create exciting story lines with the backdrop of splendid historical castles. Heroic knights with swords blazing and smoldering romances with beautiful damsels in distress exemplifies this period in history."

Here is her post from 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Historical Connection

By Adriana Girolami

Generally speaking authors write historical books, since yesterday is already in the realm of history. Little difference exists in envisioning the Appian Way during the Roman Empire or a charming little town in America's heartland during the turn of the nineteenth century.

We are all products of our environments. In most cases authors favor writing about familiar places which stimulate and appeal to their imagination the most.

I am a historical author and credit my inspirations to the haunting beauty of the old continent of Europe since I was born there. It helped me to create exciting story lines with the backdrop of splendid historical castles. Heroic knights with swords blazing and smoldering romances with beautiful damsels in distress exemplifies this period in history.

However, the characters we create with such devotion seem to breed a life of their own. At times, they strongly resemble people we are familiar with, regardless of the chronological time in history.

I was surprised to notice one of my favorite characters in the Knights Templar Trilogy, Wilfred the Valiant, had a strong resemblance to my dear late father. His speech pattern was strongly akin to phrases and words my father used when he spoke to me. I guess I didn't realize how important those words were to me at the time. I treasured and saved them throughout the years in the recesses of my mind, until they came alive in the pages of my books. I realized now how important they were, and how deeply he had affected me. He was truly my Knight in shining armor.

It would be helpful for authors to revisit places they have known throughout their lives. Areas they loved or are just familiar with lend easily to creating storylines. I am certain that endless possibilities will sprout from it.

If memories linger throughout the years, those recollections likely are dear to us. In general, our characters are a composite of people we have known, as well as they bring parts of ourselves into the equation.

Since I love to travel, many of my characters were created while I was fortunate enough to visit palaces and castles throughout Europe. I could actually see them come alive with such clarity, that it even shocked me at times. It was a riveting experience as I relished the joy of being surrounded by the majesty of history still alive in the dust of time.

However, in today's world we don't have to travel very far to be connected with special, exotic places. Through the magic of the Internet we can now visit places in the world that people in the past could only dream about.

We are privileged to be part of this ever-changing world. It gives us the opportunity to explore and create. It helps us to benefit from our past, and create a myriad of storylines for the future. It is an honor for all of us to replenish the endless firmament of books, with creativity and beauty.

Adriana Girolami is an historical romance author. She was born in Rome, Italy and credits the ancient beauty of her native country for her love of history. She immigrated to the United States and attended The Art Students League in New York City. She is a professional portrait artist who loves to write and express her creativity not only with a brush, but also with the power of the written words. Her debut novel, Mysterious Templar, is now a trilogy followed by The Crimson Amulet and on March 1, 2017 Templar's Redemption will also be published. Being also an artist she particularly enjoys painting the covers for all her books. She loves to travel with her husband and has been privileged to visit many beautiful places in the world. Since her work is sedentary, she exercises faithfully, loves to jog, plays racquetball and has a black belt in Kenpo Karate. She always looks forward to a special tomorrow and writing her next exciting novel.

March 16, 2022

Suzanne Woods Fisher ~ I Love To Write!


                               Suzanne Fisher


WV STITCHER said of Suzanne Woods Fisher, “Fisher writes her characters like they are old friends, making me connect with them, hoping that their lives will work out for the best, and when I come to the end of a story, I find myself missing them, and hoping to see them again in another story.”

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 40 books, including The Sweet Life, The Moonlight School, and A Season on the Wind, as well as the Three Sisters Island, Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop's Family, The Deacon's Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series. She is also the author of several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and Amish Proverbs. She lives in California.

The first book she wrote for Revell was non-fiction, Amish Peace for a Complicated World. It became a foundational book for her to write credibly about the Old Order Amish, to look beyond the bonnets, buggies and beards. That book became a ECPA Book of the Year finalist.

Her book, A Season on the Wind, released in October of 2021. With this book she welcomes her readers to the Amish community at Stoney Ridge in this engaging story of discovering just who the rare birds are in life.

Ben Zook had only two loves in his life: books and birds. In a stroke of good fortune, he'd stumbled onto a way to cobble together those two loves into a career, writing books about rare birds. He was as free as a bird--until a chase for a rare White-winged Tern takes him to the one place on earth he planned to never return: his Amish home in Stoney Ridge.

Desperate for photographs of the elusive tern, Ben hires a local field guide, Micah Weaver, and boards at Micah's farm, planning to "bag the bird" and leave Stoney Ridge before anyone recognizes him. But he neglected to plan for Micah's sister, Penny.

One long-ago summer, Penny had introduced Ben to birding, even sharing with him a hidden eagle aerie. That was when she knew true love. She'd always hoped he would come back to Stoney Ridge. Back to his Amish roots. Back to her. The only problem? Ben has absolutely no memory of Penny.

Here are a few of the praises she has received:

“Fisher has taken her research to the next level and brings to life the forgotten beginning of Quakers on Nantucket Island.” RT 4 1/2 STAR TOP PICK

“It’s so well written, and even though it’s labeled as a romance, it’s probably one of the most “real” fiction books that I’ve read.” RENEE, BLACK ‘N GOLD GIRL’S BOOK SPOT ON THE LESSON

“Fisher’s superb command of her historical setting is particularly commendable as she launches her Nantucket Legacy series.” BOOKLIST

“Fisher’s writing brings that Amish sense of peace into your own world. The Choice brings an entirely new perspective to the Amish way of life. You will love it!” KRISTIN BILLERBECK ON THE CHOICE

In May of 2022, Fisher's new book, The Sweet Life, Book #1 of her new series, Cape Cod Creamery releases. She welcomes her readers to a summer of sweet surprises on Cape Cod--a place where dreams just might come true.

You won't want to miss this exciting new story!

Learn more at and follow Suzanne on  Facebook@SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and Twitter @suzannewfisher

Photo Credit: © Dan Davis Photography

March 15, 2022

What is a Muse?


Ever wondered what a person’s muse is? If so, you might enjoy this definition.

A muse, (in the most basic sense) is a person who serves as an inspiration to an artist.

Now you may have known that, but did you know the word muse dates back to Greek mythology, with Zeus' daughters forming the nine Muses who presided over the arts and science?

For us, the muse is a spirit or source that inspires us to (write) create.

I once heard someone suggest that it was like daydreaming. I wonder!

Here are some synonyms I found for muse. What do you think? Any of these represent how you see your muse?

These are just a few I found.

Our work would be dry and dead without inspiration just as inspiration without work would have no meaning. It is said our muse provides the ideas and energy, the fundamental fire for our work.

A muse can be anything. Anything that gives a spark to our creativity, such as a person, place, or object. Even your natural creativity.

I like the archaic definition of muse: Wonder and Marvel.

Do one or more of these represent your muse?

March 14, 2022

Master of Suspense

Lynette Eason

Lynette Eason is considered a Master of Suspense. Her books are truly riveting. Her books have power to grab our attention and keep us in the palm of her hand through the entire book. I am always sorry when I finish reading the book. I just want it to continue.

Here are some words of praise for her previous novels:

Eason remains a force in action-packed inspirational fiction with

this excellently paced, heartening tale.”

—Publishers Weekly, on Collateral Damage

“[Lynette Eason] will take you on a rocket ride with snappy

dialogue, where the good guys win and the bad guys get what’s

coming to them. As a reader of Lynette’s work, you get the sense

that God is active in the world and wants to see justice done.”

—Library Journal, on Acceptable Risk

“Eason is a master of inspirational romantic suspense, and she takes

readers on another wild ride in her latest entry in the Danger Never

Sleeps series.”

—Booklist, on Active Defense

In January she released Life Flight (Extreme Measures Book #1). "A heart-stopping, breath-stealing masterpiece of romantic suspense!"-- Colleen Coble, USA Today bestselling author.

Truly another high-octane tale of close calls, narrow escapes, and the fight to bring a nefarious criminal to justice.

Eason has definitely reached new heights of intrigue and suspense.

Here is a description:

EMS helicopter pilot Penny Carlton is used to high stress situations, but being forced to land on a mountain in a raging storm with a critical patient--and a serial killer on the loose--tests her skills and her nerve to the limit. She survives with FBI Special Agent Holt Satterfield's help. But she's not out of the woods yet.

In the ensuing days, Penny finds herself under attack. And when news reaches Holt that he may not have gotten his man after all, it will take all he and Penny have to catch a killer--before he catches one of them.

I was hooked after reading the first page all the way through.

Look for her new book CROSSFIRE in August, 2022.

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of Life Flight and the Danger Never Sleeps, Blue Justice, Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master’s degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. Learn more at

And visit her:

March 11, 2022


 It's nice to know the impossible is waiting for us to achieve!

March 10, 2022

I’ll Take My Poetry Medium and Rare

Sara M. Robinson

Recently I read an article in Poetry magazine about the use of “medium” in art and in language. The author of the essay was a longtime favorite poet and essayist of mine, James Longenbach. He also writes books about the craft of writing which I also study.

Visual artists define medium as the materials and the template, such as oils and canvas. Or the medium can be watercolors on gypsum board, or inks or pillows. The artist uses various mediums to connect with his/her world. But what about the sheet of paper as the medium? How does the reader embrace the writer with pen and paper? And what if the poet uses another medium, such as a canvas, or tree bark, or chalkboard?

Most writers stick to the usual, everyday paper. But every so often we encounter a novel poet, who experiments with other mediums. Why do we care? Well, first the writer cum artist is offering a transaction for us to consider. We are given a challenge to step out of our comfort space and engage in something different, if not new.

Longenbach asks, “how can art be something made of words, the same words used for newspapers and parking tickets?” Well, for starters, written art always depends on language. That is what all this comes down to: Language. For most of us, English language. The subject of the evolution of English language is interesting and much too long and complicated to write here, but with our language we do have some interesting developments in its evolution. Again, Longenbach gives us this great example: “Even today, we raise pigs and cows (from German, via Old English), but eat pork and beef (from Latin, via French). And there are many others!

But as perplexing as language and words derived from other languages, poetry goes right back to the creativity of the line with its novel use of simile and metaphors. Here is a line of Keats: “sudden from heaven, a weeping cloud…”. And one of mine: “It’s like sunburn & blisters. Underneath / skin abrasions/invasions/insults there is / the beauty of a person.” We elevate inanimate objects to a higher status.

Until next time…

Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).

March 9, 2022

Lucy Merrill ~ My Personal Everest

Lucy Merrill

Mount Everest, at more than 29,000 feet the tallest mountain in the world, is majestic, serene, harsh, and forbidding.

While most people are content to enjoy the mountain’s beauty in photos and films, a small, but growing, number see in its splendor the ultimate challenge. As one of the two men credited with first summiting Everest famously said, when asked why he wanted to climb the eminence, “Because it’s there.”

I wanted to conquer my personal Everest for the opposite reason—it wasn’t there.

I wanted to write a novel and offer it to the world. I wanted to be an author. That was my impossible dream. My Everest.

I recently reached the summit. I had a lot to learn and, frankly, the odds weren’t always in my favor. But now I know much more about the process, and a bit more about myself.

There are many challenges for the mountaineer setting out to make it to the top of so formidable a peak. So, too, for the writer (although with less drastic consequences for missteps).

Here are a few of the dangers:

Lack of experience. Novices shouldn’t try to scale Mount Everest. Start smaller, y’all. For writers, that doesn’t mean you have to crank out numerous short stories before getting to that novel you want to write. But it does mean you’re going to make mistakes. A lot of them. Find good critique partners or a reliable—and brutally honest—friend to evaluate your work. Take their feedback seriously, even if you decide not to make changes they suggest.

Don’t worry if your manuscript gets roughed up in the process. It’s for its own good. Resolve to make it better. And remember, most successful novelists have an early work stowed in a desk drawer or computer file, unseen by readers’ eyes. Almost nobody gets it right on the first try.

Other climbers. Believe it or not, overcrowding at the early stages of an Everest expedition is one of the biggest problems for climbers. There is a place at the bottom of the famous Hillary Step that can be traversed by only one climber at a time. The rest are waiting in a long, long line, subjected to extremely cold temperatures, and dwindling stamina.

Overcrowding of the book market can be a problem once you have your manuscript finished and even when published. But there are different other-people problems for the aspiring novelist.

There are people who belittle your efforts. “Why are you wasting time on that? Nobody will buy it.” Or the opposite problem. Those who expect a runaway bestseller or the next Pulitzer Prize winner when your highest ambition is to publish a diverting beach read.

Then there are those best-selling authors or award winners. They can inspire an inner voice that says, “I can’t write like that.” Of course, you can’t. You can only write like you. (I once read a Flannery O’Connor short story and was discouraged from writing for months afterward.)

Ignore all these voices. Their chilling effect on your creativity is as debilitating as a Himalayan wind.

Oxygen deprivation. The atmosphere thins out as the elevation increases. The higher you climb, the more the danger from lack of oxygen. You need oxygen to survive, of course, but the peril is yet more insidious. Climbers must be in tip-top shape, physically and mentally, and a low oxygen supply can deprive them of the ability to think clearly and anticipate or work through problems. Avoidable situations can become deadly ones.

Writers are in danger of oxygen deprivation at any altitude, but particularly when starting out. For us, low O2 can come from not trading thoughts, ideas, and encouragement with other writers and readers, and not actively juicing creativity. But the major cause of dream-killing oxygen deprivation is simply not writing. If you want to write a book, write a book. There’s no magic.

Summit fever. The opposite of lower-level oxygen deprivation may be high-altitude, almost-there giddiness that leads to a rush to the finish. For climbers, summit fever can be especially deadly, as they shed their careful plans to power-through and get to the top. For writers, as “The End” comes oh-so-close, craft and skill may fall away in a rush to complete the project.

It also hits after “The End” has been typed. Rushing a manuscript into print is a mistake. Proofreading and editing take time, but they should not be seen as optional steps. Summit fever can deprive you of the best-it-can-be work that you can be proud of.

Crevasses. Glacial ice on the slopes of Mount Everest is subject to cracking, and a yawning chasm can open up, ready to swallow up even a wary trekker. Hidden by snow and ice, crevasses are a serious danger to climbers. Teams rope themselves together to save anyone who falls into one.

For me on my personal Everest expedition, small cracks in self-confidence readily opened into deep, dark, cold crevasses of self-doubt that echo with voices of derision. “You can’t do it. It’s too hard. You’re not good enough.”

Don’t listen to the crevasse. It lies. Make sure you are roped together with Commitment, Effort, and Enthusiasm. They’ll pull you out of any crevasse.

The key to tackling Everest, just like any long journey, is to focus on today. Doing what you can and as much as you can right now. One step, then another and another.

Unlike mountaineers, writers never need to turn back. A project may change. An outline may evolve. But if you keep climbing, you will reach the summit.

Lucy Merrill has amateur detective Nancy Drew to thank for her lifelong love of mystery stories and the budding hope of becoming a writer. After years of writing newspaper and magazine feature stories, she finally fulfilled that childhood ambition and penned a mystery.

Lucy lives in Alabama with a tolerant husband and reads too much and does housework too little. Her first novel, Crazy Red Moon, a cozy mystery set in the 1950s, is currently available on Amazon.

She is on Facebook at and Goodreads at