Friday, March 17, 2023

Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by Good Housekeeping


“[Smith]...reminds you that you can...survive deep loss, sink into life’s deep beauty, and constantly, constantly make yourself new.” —Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by Good Housekeeping, Goodreads, Zibby Mag, Newsweek, BookPage, and LitHub

The bestselling poet and author of the “powerful” (People) and “luminous” (Newsweek) Keep Moving offers a lush and heartrending memoir exploring coming of age in your middle age.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir

“Life, like a poem, is a series of choices.”

In her memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful, poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself in lyrical vignettes that shine, hard and clear as jewels. The book begins with one woman’s personal, particular heartbreak, but its circles widen into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, traditional gender roles, and the power dynamics that persist even in many progressive homes. With the spirit of self-inquiry and empathy she’s known for, Smith interweaves snapshots of a life with meditations on secrets, anger, forgiveness, and narrative itself. The power of these pieces is cumulative: page after page, they build into a larger interrogation of family, work, and patriarchy.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful, like the work of Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk, and Gina Frangello, is an unflinching look at what it means to live and write our own lives. It is a story about a mother’s fierce and constant love for her children, and a woman’s love and regard for herself. Above all, this memoir is an argument for possibility. With a poet’s attention to language and an innovative approach to the genre, Smith reveals how, in the aftermath of loss, we can discover our power and make something new. Something beautiful.

Maggie Smith is the author of several books, including Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017) and the national bestsellers Goldenrod (One Signal/Simon&Schuster, July 2021) and Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change (One Signal/Simon & Schuster, 2020).Her debut picture book for children, My Thoughts Have Wings, illustrated by Leanne Hatch, is forthcoming from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins in 2024.

Smith's poems and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Nation, The Best American Poetry, The Paris Review, AGNI, Ploughshares, Image, the Washington Post, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, and many other journals and anthologies. In 2016 her poem "Good Bones" went viral internationally; since then it has been translated into nearly a dozen languages and featured on the CBS primetime drama Madam Secretary. Smith has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. 

She can be found online at and on social media @MaggieSmithPoet.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Book 7 In Stella Knox FBI Mystery Series

Mary Stone lives among the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of East Tennessee with her two dogs, four cats, a couple of energetic boys, and a very patient husband.

As a young girl, she would go to bed every night, wondering what type of creature might be lurking underneath. It wasn’t until she was older that she learned that the creatures she needed to most fear were human.

Today, she creates vivid stories with courageous, strong heroines and dastardly villains. She invites you to enter her world of serial killers, FBI agents but never damsels in distress. Her female characters can handle themselves, going toe-to-toe with any male character, protagonist or antagonist.

Get Your Free Book Here:

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Be sure and get her first three books in this series:

Stella Knox FBI Mystery Series Book 7

In a psychopath’s performance, revenge is the encore.
Moments after FBI Special Agent Stella Knox briefs the Nashville Violent Crime Unit on her father’s murder, the teams’ supportive camaraderie is replaced with horror when a stranger calls to tell Agent Martin Lin he’ll never see his sister again.

A trip to Martin’s apartment confirms the situation is real. Jane, who was visiting her brother, has disappeared without a trace.

As Stella and the rest of the team try to connect the dots between video footage showing Jane leaving a local liquor store before vanishing, their only clue is a bloody piano tuner. On the heels of their last murder case involving The Pianist, it seems like a bizarre coincidence.

But when Jane’s body is found decapitated, accompanied by a grisly message for the FBI, it’s clear this crime is personal. There’s just one questio

Who's next?

Suddenly hurled into every FBI agent’s worst nightmare, the entire team is soon embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse, where one misstep could mean the difference between life and death for the one they love.

Terrifying and adrenaline-charged, Killer Encore is the seventh book in the Stella Knox Series by bestselling author Mary Stone and Stacy O’Hare. Hang on tight, or you’ll get thrown down a rabbit hole you never saw coming.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Fictional Characters Making a Difference


Dale Griffin

When I first saw The Last Lion of Karkov described as a feminist story, it took me by surprise, perhaps with a case of imposter syndrome. I did not feel qualified to be that voice nor was it my intention. My anxiety was triggered, fully expecting criticism for attempting to write the female perspective of struggling against a patriarchal regime when similar principals have no doubt benefited me in real life. Then, just like countless other times, I had to remind myself of something I decided a couple of years before: It’s not about me. This is for Jillian and Natalia.

The paradigm shift occurred after a period of time when I tried to abandon my project. I had written a manuscript that had potential, largely due to its awesome protagonists. As it was written, however, it was not polished enough to land the type of book deal that I had no business expecting. Financially, or for any other reason pertaining to me, it made no sense to continue. During the season I spent away from the manuscript, Jillian and Natalia stayed with me. It certainly wasn’t difficult to be reminded of them since my wife inspired many of Natalia’s qualities (only the favorable ones). My free thoughts—the times when I tend to think creatively—remained dedicated to imagining events of their childhood, not yet on the page, that would further define who they are. They made me more aware of life beyond my normal path. They impacted my decisions, inspiring me to take more chances. They had become—and always will be—part of my life. In many ways they are like my children, and as a parent, you give your children life. That’s what I felt I had to do.

It is interesting for me to look back at how I developed the characters of these two young women and wonder if I might have subconsciously passed on traits that I would have wanted my daughters to possess. Not having the opportunity to raise a daughter is the most bitter regret of my life, and I’m sure that raising her to be fiercely independent would have been my purpose. Perhaps I unknowingly had this objective as the author of these protagonists. Jillian is wholeheartedly independent from the get-go. She does everything to an extreme, and her independence from the male species is no exception as seen by her self-condemnation when she begins to have feelings for a young warrior—not to mention the whole taking down of a patriarchy. Natalia, on the other hand, spends her youth dreaming of attaching herself to a prince. Jillian became my instrument for expressing displeasure of Natalia’s early character. An example occurred when Jillian told her, “Think more highly of yourself; you are not just someone who’ll look pretty walking around on a king’s arm. You need to learn what you can be.”

Jillian’s persistent influence pays off when Natalia is finally betrothed to a prince. Shortly after their meeting, Natalia exuberantly expresses her desire to be educated among many other aspects of her new life that she was looking forward to. After being continually dismissed by her fiancé, it is obvious that Natalia will not allow herself to be forced into a submissive role without the freedom to be the kind of woman she wants to be.

As readers discover Jillian and Natalia, I hope they feel similarly about these characters as I do. They are what’s special about this book, and I have tried to keep everything centered on them. 

Even when it comes to the proceeds, my portion of the royalties will become Jillian’s and Natalia’s funds to support girls in becoming strong, smart, and bold women. This is the mission of Girls Inc., an organization perfectly suited to be championed by Jillian and Natalia. Contributing to Girls Inc. was obvious. Every detail I learned stood out to me as something my characters would be passionate about. Help girls discover and develop her inherent strengths—Yes! Help them grow up healthy, educated, and independent—Yes! Advocate for all girls—Yes! This is what Jillian and Natalia would want, and I hope they make a difference in girls’ lives.

DALE GRIFFIN is a historical fantasy writer releasing his debut novel "The Last Lion of Karkov" in March 2023. Griffin considers himself a traveler and a writer as a result. Married to his best friend and travel partner, the two explore Europe as frequently as possible. Inspired by those journeys, Griffin uses his experiences to influence his imagined worlds and the memorable characters who dwell in them.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Writing Inspiring Historical Fiction ~ What Do Women Readers Want?

Patricia Bernstein
Today’s writers of historical fiction instinctively know that women readers are looking for strong characters. These “sheros” that readers are seeking may not be physically strong, but they have strong personalities (whether they openly display their true feelings or mask them). Sheros have chutzpah. They don’t back down from a challenge. These characters may experience fear or even terror, but they don’t run away.

Women have displayed this grit throughout history, even when their sphere of influence is severely limited, and little is expected of them. Just think of how different our expectations are when we go to the opera. Most of the great operas were created during the 19th century and up through the early 20th century. The great heroines of these epic romances usually end up dying of some dread but picturesque disease, like Mimi in La Boheme or Violetta in La Traviata. Or they commit suicide out of utter despair like poor Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly. Or they are murdered like Gilda in Rigoletto or Nedda in Pagliacci. Even the staunch Aida ends up sealed in a vault to die with her lover Radames.

            We wouldn’t tolerate this nonsense for a minute in our historical fiction! We’re not interested in a heroine who, confronted with life’s many problems, melts away, dies, succumbs to depression or allows herself to be done in by some man. If she must deal with a monumental villain, we expect her to find a way to evade or outwit him, not pass out on a fainting couch.

            We also expect her, as much as is humanly possible, not to simply rely on a man to show up in a timely fashion and get her out of whatever pickle she is in. No more Perils of Pauline for us, where the cowboy arrives just in time to untie Pauline from the railroad tracks before she is obliterated by a train.

I have a vivid childhood memory of the old Flash Gordon serial in which the blonde, whom Flash loves, always stands in a corner and screams when she is threatened. The brunette, on the other hand, daughter of the series’ villain, is the smart one who helps Flash escape over and over. But, of course, she’s not the one he wants. That helpless, fragile blonde wouldn’t last for a single chapter in one of today’s novels. The real heroine would either push her out of the way or teach her how to exhibit some spine.

            One of my favorites in the pantheon of strong heroines in historical fiction is Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, heroine of the series of novels that begins with Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (pen name for Diana Norman). Sent from Salerno to England in 1170 to discover who is killing children in Cambridgeshire, Adelia brooks no condescension from anyone, including the king. King Henry II has asked for a Salerno doctor to come to his kingdom and solve a mystery, never expecting a woman to show up.

Adelia is fearless. She takes a lover and bears a child but refuses to marry, and, of course, she solves a series of mysteries and identifies the guilty parties. She becomes a kind of Kay Scarpetta of the 12th century, ferreting out the secrets of dead bodies.

            Another in this pantheon of strong women is the heroine of my novel A Noble Cunning. Bethan Glentaggart is based on the true story of Winifred Maxwell, a persecuted Catholic noblewoman. Bethan’s husband Gavin is condemned to die because of his participation in a doomed rebellion against the first German king, George I. Most women in Bethan’s situation were expected to accept their husband’s fate, say their farewells and prepare to mourn. Bethan simply refuses to give in to this cruel fate. She determines that she will somehow rescue her husband from the Tower of London by devising a clever and complicated plot, and by relying on the aid of a small group of devoted women friends.

            When we read these stories of women who overcame the limits of their situations and accomplished amazing feats, it’s hard not to feel that, with all of our modern advantages, we ought to be able to find a way to deal with our own difficulties.

Patricia Bernstein’s debut novel, A Noble Cunning: The Countess and the Tower, was released by History Through Fiction on March 7, 2023. Upon release, the book was a Semifinalist for a Chanticleer Award, reviewed by the Historical Novel Society, and was on Hasty Book List’s Most Anticipated Historical Novels of 2023. Visit Patricia at

Endorsed by NYT bestselling historical novelists Kathleen Kent and Karen Brooks comes a debut novel from award-winning nonfiction author Patricia Bernstein.

Based on a true story, something happened only once in Tower of London history as a consequence of one woman’s bravery.

Native Texan Patricia Bernstein grew up in Dallas. After earning a Degree of Distinction in American Studies from Smith College, she founded her public relations agency in Houston.

In 2018, her third book was named a Finalist for an award from the Texas Institute of Letters. The Austin American Statesman named the book to a list of fifty-three of the best books ever written about Texas. Patricia's nonfiction is previously published by Simon & Schuster and Texas A&M University Press.

Patricia lives in Houston with her husband, journalist Alan Bernstein, where she pursues another great artistic love, singing with Opera in the Heights and other organizations. She also basks in the glory of her three amazing daughters. A Noble Cunning is Patricia Bernstein's debut novel.











Wednesday, March 8, 2023

No Proof! No Witnesses!

William Landay

All That Is Mine I Carry With Me

A mother vanished. A father presumed guilty. There is no proof. There are no witnesses. For the children, there is only doubt. From the New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob. . . .
“Astonishing, powerful, and provocative, this book is worth the excruciating wait for another William Landay.”—Louise Penny, author of A World of Curiosities

One afternoon in November 1975, ten-year-old Miranda Larkin comes home from school to find her house eerily quiet. Her mother is missing. Nothing else is out of place. There is no sign of struggle. Her mom’s pocketbook remains in the front hall, in its usual spot.

So begins a mystery that will span a lifetime. What happened to Jane Larkin?

Investigators suspect Jane’s husband. A criminal defense attorney, Dan Larkin would surely be an expert in outfoxing the police.

But no evidence is found linking him to a crime, and the case fades from the public’s memory, a simmering, unresolved riddle. Jane’s three children—Alex, Jeff, and Miranda—are left to be raised by the man who may have murdered their mother.

Two decades later, the remains of Jane Larkin are found. The investigation is awakened. The children, now grown, are forced to choose sides. With their father or against him? Guilty or innocent? And what happens if they are wrong?

A tale about family—family secrets and vengeance, but also family love—All That Is Mine I Carry With Me masterfully grapples with a primal question: When does loyalty reach its limit?

William Landay is the author of "All That Is Mine I Carry With Me" (on sale 3.7.2023) and three previous novels: "Defending Jacob," which won the Strand Critics Award for best mystery novel; "The Strangler," listed as a best crime novel of the year by the L.A. Times, Daily Telegraph and others; and "Mission Flats," winner of the Dagger Award for best first crime novel. A former assistant district attorney, he lives in Boston.

Visit the author at or on Facebook at

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Susan Reinhardt's Story Behind Her Book "The Beautiful Misfits"

Susan Reinhardt

When I wrote my latest novel, The Beautiful Misfits, I knew I’d dedicate it to my son, Niles Reinhardt, whose bravery and will to survive touch my heart daily.

Twice I almost lost him. Once in the womb, and later, in a gripping battle that nearly killed us both.

From the moment my pregnancy test turned pink in a Walmart bathroom, I have been crazy over the moon for my boy. I decided from that first month that I never wanted to forget a single moment, and started a journal I chronicled until he entered kindergarten.

But mine wasn’t the pregnancy I’d always dreamed about, and around the fourth month, a string of complications fell one after the other, threatening to end the life I carried. First, placenta previa and bleeding, followed by a tortuous experimental procedure to free my bladder trapped by the growing baby. At 28 weeks, I went into early labor and doctors pumped me with a brutal medicine to stop contractions, hoping I’d carry my son at least until 36 weeks gestation.

We made it a full eight months, and my baby boy debuted in this world healthy and weighing six pounds, three ounces. I thanked God every day for my son’s health, and for fifteen years our lives had been fairly typical and filled with school, sports, church, friends, and family.

It wasn’t until his teen years that I’d face another deadly crisis with him. That’s when he developed a disease that nearly destroyed us both, a much more serious battle than what he’d fought in the womb.

Niles nearly died at 19 from a combination of a near-fatal dose of alcohol and the ensuing car accident. One of his former friends had been driving drunk and whipped around a curve too fast, slamming into a tree. That “friend” fled the scene, leaving my son bleeding out on the road with head and facial injuries from being thrown into the windshield.

I don’t remember driving to the hospital, but I can still feel my body shaking uncontrollably, my mouth so dry I couldn’t swallow, responses that continue to this day when I hear sirens. I tried not to hyperventilate and fall apart as I saw him covered in blood. He lay there unconscious and hooked to tubes, shards of glass embedded in his forehead and cheeks. Fortunately, his CAT scan showed only a major concussion, but the doctors were concerned about the high levels of alcohol in his system, more than four times the legal limit.

I’d like to say that was the last time my child ever drank, but it wasn’t. For ten years, the scars still visible on his face, he fought these demons, just threw out the welcome mat and served them his soul. Every day I worried would be his last.

I spent years trying to get Niles into rehab, years not sleeping and worrying if he was safe. I joined a support group, The Addict’s Mom, followed by nearly 200,000 people on Facebook. I listened as they told harrowing stories of the kids they buried or visited in jails and institutions.

That’s when I knew that I’d write a novel about the struggles that those who love an addict endure, along with the struggles an addict weathers. The hard part was that I wanted my novel to be hopeful, and filled with honesty, grace, and even humor. I wanted it to offer answers, solutions, and ways to curb this crisis killing more of our youth than guns and car accidents combined. I spent years researching treatment centers and interviewing those who had warred with addiction.

The Beautiful Misfits, which was released this month from Regal House Publishing, takes on the drug epidemic but does so in a way that’s uplifting, even funny at times. While the novel isn’t a true story, there are things in my life, in my son’s life, that I drew from in creating the plot and characters.

The protagonist, Josie Nickels, is a former Emmy-winning anchorwoman who is the mother of an addict. One night as she delivers the news, she meltdowns on live TV, spilling family secrets and alienating her son.

When she loses her job, she ends up in Asheville, N.C., selling cosmetics at a mall department store for a luxury brand similar to Estee Lauder or Chanel. Like Josie, I’m also a former journalist, living near Asheville, who worked for a few years as a makeup artist and beauty advisor.

A friend of mine was employed by Clinique and told me about an opening at Lancôme. So I flew to New York for training and spent five wonderful years as a beauty advisor and regional makeup artist for the company.

Going from a journalist to a makeup lady is like dropping one’s legal career to style hair. But it was magical. The people I worked with were glamorous, hilarious, and had lives as colorful as those on the Housewives franchise. I knew the cosmetics counters had to be a setting in the novel. And the hijinks and scenes there offset the serious subject matter without being flippant.

As a reader, I don’t want to dive into a book that leaves me feeling as if I’ve swallowed a tackle box full of fishhooks. I want every emotion blaring, flashing, and dinging. Give me sad. Give me funny. Don’t forget the tension and high stakes. Throw in quirk and wit and a wonderful ending.

As a novelist, I strive for the same.

The Beautiful Misfits has a warm, satisfying, and uplifting ending. As does my son’s story. He finally got clean and sober. He started his own business in the hemp industry. CBD is one of the tools he used to get sober.

To celebrate his recovery, he and I recently traveled to Yellowstone National Park. We’re also planning another trip this fall to my happy place, St. John in the United States Virgin Islands. And as a spoiler, the final chapter of The Beautiful Misfits is set there.

Through God, prayer, my family’s support, and sheer stubbornness, I wasn’t about to give up on my son. No one should.

Because as long as there’s breath, there’s hope.

Susan Reinhardt is a best-selling author known for her gift of taking serious topics and infusing them with humor and heart. She is especially praised for creating casts of unforgettable, quirky characters who stay in readers’ minds long after the final page. Her debut novel, “Chimes From a Cracked Southern Belle,” won Best Regional Fiction in the Independent Publishers Book Awards international contest, and was a No. 1 Amazon bestseller. The novel was a top summer reading pick and a book-club favorite. She lives in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC, and is on her second and final husband. She has two grown children, three steps, a granddaughter, and a rescue cat.

 Learn more at:

“A book club must-read and an emotionally charged story of one mother’s fight to save her son… full of heart and hope!”– USA Today Bestselling author Ciara Knight

“Susan is a wonderfully gifted storyteller who combines biting wit and laugh-out-loud humor with a beautifully moving writing style. She can turn tears of laughter into the other kind in a single paragraph. You’ll love ‘The Beautiful Misfits.’”

–Robert Tate Miller, bestselling author and movie screenwriter for CBS, NBC, Disney, and Hallmark including films such as “When Christmas was Young,” “Three Days,” and “A Summer Romance”

Friday, March 3, 2023

Do Your Goodest!

Rachel Anne Ridge

Stop trying to live your best life.

Sounds counterintuitive, right? Of course, you should try to live your best life!

Or should you?

We are always being urged to “Live Your BEST Life Now.” You need to have the best job, drive the best car, have the best things, maintain the best body. Live every moment in the best way possible.

It’s fabulous! It’s the BEST!

But honestly? It’s exhausting.

Listen, being the best is overrated.

So, what if you went for something else entirely?

You see, in your quest to be best, it’s easy to forget how to simply be good.

Once, as a discouraged mother of teenagers, I sat alone in my bedroom wiping away tears. Conflict over something important I’d forgotten to do made me retreat behind my door as I berated myself for failing yet again. Absentmindedly, I opened a dresser drawer and found an old diary, long abandoned. As I leafed through the pages, I stopped at one entry and tears began to fall once more, but this time for an entirely different reason. A few scrawled lines recounted a moment from years before when I pulled a red wagon with my then two-year-old son to the park. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the little blond boy sat in the wagon as we rattled down the sidewalk. Suddenly his tiny voice piped up. “Mommy, you’re da goodest mom I evah seen.

His words stopped me in my tracks.

Goodest mom.

Reading those words from so long ago I realized I’d been trying so hard to be the best mom ever, that I’d forgotten the importance of simply being a goodest one. I didn’t have to try to control every situation. I didn’t have to strive to be perfect. I could let go of all that and lean in to the goodness of my family, in all its flaws and failures. I was free to embrace my mistakes and learn from them, rather than beat myself up over making them in the first place.

We all spend an inordinate amount of time vying to compete on the racetrack of career and personal advancement. We pretend to be slick and shiny, built for speed and fame—all the while knowing deep inside that this is not who we really are. Pretending only gives us a false sense of belonging. When we finally embrace our true donkey-selves, we begin to belong on our own terms.

Brené Brown puts it this way: “True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

The truest thing about you is that you are worthy of all the love, all the dancing, all the belonging, and all the goodness this world has to offer.

You are enough

You see, only one person can be the best at something. Their moment of glory is fleeting, and then someone else stands ready to take their place at the top.

But good? Oh, good never goes away. It never goes out of style. No one can ever take away that crown.

This world needs the good you have to offer.

Be a good friend.
Be a good neighbor.
Be a good parent.
Be a good son.

Be a good daughter.
Be a good worker.
Be a good leader.

Being good means that you look out for the needs of others. You find ways to inspire kindness and joy. You bring light and life everywhere you go.

This proved true for a man named Tom Shadyac, who was living “his best life” in Hollywood, successfully directing films such as Ace Ventura and The Nutty Professor. However, a bicycle accident in 2007 compounded a sense he’d had for some time that life as he lived it was empty. So, he decided to trade in his fame and fortune for a mobile home and a bike . . . and a commitment to share what he had with others. He is living his goodest (and happiest) life, enjoying a creative career while helping people along the way. Tom has discovered the secret of leaving space for generosity and kindness.

These days, good is underrated. Good is actually better than best.

Good leaves room for falling down, for the unexpected, for grace. It understands that some of life’s most priceless gifts are wrapped in ordinary packages. It gives permission for being kind to yourself and to others.

Don’t let your desire to be the best rob you of the goodness that’s all around you or take away your ability to do good in the moment.

Stop trying to live your best life.

Live your goodest life instead.

Dig Deeper

· Why not make a list of ways to let go of perfectionism and the need to “be the best,” and ask yourself, “Why not try it?”

· What would a “goodest” life look like for you?

· When will you do one simple “good thing” for someone? Write down the first ideas that come to mind.

Adapted from The Donkey Principle: The Secret to Long-Haul Living in a Racehorse World by Rachel Anne Ridge, releasing from Tyndale House Publishers in April 2023.

Rachel Anne Ridge is an author, professional artist, and motivational speaker. Her books Flash: The Homeless Donkey Who Taught Me about Life, Faith, and Second Chances and Walking with Henry have delighted readers with their entertaining tales and poignant lessons. A certified life coach, Rachel works with individuals and organizations to discover their creative gold through hands-on workshops, retreats, and coaching. Rachel is a mom to three adult children, and Nana to five grandchildren. Learn more at

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Writer of Faith by Day~Mystery by Night

Patricia Raybon

In the cold and dangerous spring of 1924, amateur detective Annalee Spain races the clock to solve the murder of a white barnstorming pilot before the clever Black theologian—a target of the ruthless Colorado Klan—is framed for the crime, and before she is lured by the risky flirtations of the victim’s dashing twin brother.

As this second installment of Patricia Raybon’s critically acclaimed mystery series opens, Annalee Spain offers her fancy lace handkerchief—a gift from her complicated pastor boyfriend, Jack Blake—to a young woman crying in a Denver public library. But later that night, when police find the handkerchief next to the body of the young woman’s murdered husband, Annalee becomes the number one suspect, and her panic doubles when she learns that Jack has gone missing.

With just days to solve the murder before the city’s Klan-run police frame her for the crime, Annalee finds herself hunting for clues in the Colorado mountain town of Estes Park. She questions the victim’s wife and her uncle, a wealthy Denver banker, at their mountain lodge, desperate for leads. Instead, she finds a household full of suspects and even more burning questions. Who keeps threatening her, why can’t she find Jack, and will a dangerous flirtation be her undoing? Her answers plumb the depths of the human heart, including her own, exploring long-buried secrets, family lies, even city politics—all of which could cost the young detective her fledgling love . . . and perhaps even her life.

A writer of faith by day and mystery by night, Patricia Raybon is a Christy Award-winning Colorado author, essayist, and novelist who writes daring and exciting novels and books at the intersection of faith and race.

After a notable career in newspaper journalism and journalism education, Patricia turned to fiction with release of a 1920s mystery series about a prim, poor but clever Black theologian—a fan of Sherlock Holmes--who solves murder and crime in Colorado's dangerous Klan era. The series' acclaimed debut, "All That Is Secret: An Annalee Spain Mystery," won the 2022 Christy Award for First Novel and was a Parade Magazine Fall 2021 "Mysteries We Love" selection, a Masterpiece on PBS "Best Mystery Books of 2021" pick "As Recommended by Bestselling Authors," and Stephen Curry's March 2022 personal choice for his Literati Book Club.

"Double the Lies," the second installment in the Annalee Spain Mysteries, finds amateur detective Annalee racing the clock to solve the murder of a White barnstorming pilot before she is framed by Colorado's ruthless Klan for the crime--and before his dashing twin falls head over heels for the Black theologian, testing her already promised heart.

"It's something special," says Steph Curry about the Annalee story. Best-selling authors agree.

- "Readers will be hooked from the first line." Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of "Perennials."

- "Brava, Patricia...It is captivating." Jerry B. Jenkins, New York Times Bestselling Author

- "Not only a good mystery, but a realistic insight into the African American experience in the 1920s in the West." Rhys Bowen, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author

Patricia's personal essays on faith, family and race have been published in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, USA Weekend, Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, the Charles Stanley Ministries In Touch Magazine and featured on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition.

For a deep dive into Patricia's compelling world of faith and fiction, connect with her daring and insightful books—and receive a free download of her "Busy Person's Guide to Hearing God" -- at

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Bread is Central to God's Story


Kendall Vanderslice

A Baker’s Reflections on Hunger, Longing, and the Goodness of God. Bread is central to God’s story, and to your story too.

“A satisfying offering that will prove good medicine for the hungry soul.”—Publishers Weekly

Our spiritual lives are deeply connected to bread—the bread we break with family and friends and the Bread that is Christ’s Body, given and broken for us. It’s easy to choose the cheapest, most convenient option, but the life of Jesus and the story of Scripture, as well as the substance of bread itself, shows us that there is more. In By Bread Alone, Kendall Vanderslice, a professional baker and practical theologian who spends her days elbow-deep in dough, reveals that there is no food more spiritually significant than bread—whether eating, baking, sharing, or breaking.

Kendall has struggled with hunger ever since she can remember—hunger for bread, yes, but also for community and for the ability to “taste and see” the goodness of God. She knows the tension of bread as blessing and bread as burden but has learned that bread also offers a unique opportunity to heal our relationship to the body of Christ and to our own bodies. In By Bread Alone, she weaves her own faith-filled journey together with original recipes and stories about the role of bread in church history, revealing a God who draws near to us and creatively provides for our daily needs.

When words fail, when we cry out in longing and loneliness, when God feels impossibly far away, By Bread Alone displays the tangible expression of God’s presence and provision for us in the form of bread. It’s the story of hunger and family, of friendship and unmet longing. It’s the story of a God who meets us in both sacred and mundane ways. In the mixing and kneading, in the waiting and partaking, may God also meet you.

Kendall Vanderslice is a baker, writer, and speaker, as well as the founder of the Edible Theology Project, a ministry that connects the Communion table to the kitchen table. She is a graduate of Wheaton College (BA Anthropology), Boston University (MLA Gastronomy), and Duke Divinity School (Master of Theological Studies). Her bylines include Christianity Today, Bitter Southerner, Christian Century, Religion News Service, and Faith & Leadership, as well as her book We Will Feast (Eerdmans 2019). Kendall lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her big-eared beagle named Strudel, where she teaches workshops on bread baking as a spiritual practice. Visit her online at

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

She said, "It;s a peculiar thing...looking back."

 Beth Moore

An incredibly thoughtful, disarmingly funny, and intensely vulnerable glimpse into the life and ministry of a woman familiar to many but known by few.

“It’s a peculiar thing, this having lived long enough to take a good look back. We go from knowing each other better than we know ourselves to barely sure if we know each other at all, to precisely sure that we don’t. All my knotted-up life I’ve longed for the sanity and simplicity of knowing who’s good and who’s bad. I’ve wanted to know this about myself as much as anyone. This was not theological. It was strictly relational. God could do what he wanted with eternity. I was just trying to make it here in the meantime. As benevolent as he has been in a myriad of ways, God has remained aloof on this uncomplicated request". Beth Moore

New York Times best-selling author, speaker, visionary, and founder of Living Proof Ministries Beth Moore has devoted her whole life to helping women across the globe come to know the transforming power of Jesus. An established writer of many acclaimed books and Bible studies for women on spiritual growth and personal development, Beth now unveils her own story in a much-anticipated debut memoir.

All My Knotted-Up Life includes:
8 pages of photos
An exploration of Beth’s childhood, love, marriage, and motherhood
Insights on what it was like when she was “waist-deep in a season of loss”
A discussion of her 2018 break with the Southern Baptist movement
Details on the origins of Living Proof Ministries
All My Knotted-Up Life is told with surprising candor about some of the personal heartbreaks and behind-the-scenes challenges that have marked Beth’s life. But beyond that, it’s a beautifully crafted portrait of resilience and survival, a poignant reminder of God’s enduring faithfulness, and proof positive that if we ever truly took the time to hear people’s full stories . . . we’d all walk around slack-jawed.

There in a theater chair, wide-eyed and filled to the brim with Coca-Cola, Beth began a lifelong love for stories. She loved to tell them, write them, and be told them. The story that captured her heart and consumed her life, however, was not told in a movie theater. It was the story told in Sunday School of Jesus, a Savior who loved children and who thought she was special. A seed was planted in her young heart that would grow to mark her life with a passionate love for Christ.

At the age of 18, Beth sensed God calling her to work for Him. Although she

 couldn't imagine what that would mean, she made it her goal to say yes to whatever He asked. Beth graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a degree in political science. She would later receive honorary doctorates from Howard Payne University and Gordon College.

She married Keith in 1978 and soon after the Lord added Amanda and Melissa to the family. As a young wife and mother, Beth served the Lord by speaking at luncheons and retreats and working at Mother's Day Out.

After years of being encouraged to develop homework by those attending Bible Study class led by Beth, she realized what she had on her hands was a ‘ministry’. Beth founded Living Proof Ministries in 1994 with the purpose of teaching women to know and love Jesus through the study of Scripture.

She self- published her first book, Things Pondered, in 1993, and published her first Bible Study, A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place in 1995. Since then, the studies have been translated into over 20 languages and have reached women in countries all across the globe. In addition to her writing, Beth enjoys ministering to women at live events. Beth recently celebrated over 20 years of Living Proof Live conferences. She can also be seen teaching Bible studies on the television program Living Proof with Beth Moore, aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Beth enjoys life in the woods outside of Houston, TX with her husband, Keith. Beth is an avid reader, loves Tex-Mex, catching a movie, and being a grandmother to her three delightful grandchildren. You can find Beth spending time with the Lord while she is out for her daily walk with her beloved dogs and bringing carrots to her favorite neighboring donkey she lovingly nick-named ‘Donk’.

Monday, February 27, 2023

New Series Coming by Laura Dave

Laura Dave

Real Simple says of Laura Dave's book, The Last Thing He Told Me, “A fast-moving, heartfelt thriller about the sacrifices we make for the people we love most.” 


Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.

Laura Dave is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Last Thing He Told Me, Eight Hundred Grapes and other novels. Her work has been published in thirty-eight countries. The Last Thing He Told Me is soon to be a limited series for Apple TV+. She resides in Santa Monica.

You can follow her on Instagram @lauradaveauthor

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Last Three of the Ten


We are down to our last three "Female Sleuths" of the ten. There are so many great "Female Sleuths" that have been created and published in books, but we feel like we have brought you some great "Female Sleuths" and the authors that created them. Be sure and let us know if you read any of these great series and which one if your favorite.

Deanna Raybourn novels have been nominated for numerous awards including the Edgar, two RT Reviewers’ Choice awards, the Agatha, two Dilys Winns, and a Last Laugh. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist.  Veronica Speedwell is one of the "Female Sleuths" she has created.

J.D. ROBB is the pseudonym for #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. She is the author of over 200 novels, including the futuristic suspense In Death series. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print. She is the creator of Eve Dallas, "Female Sleuth"

Gigi Pandian writes the Secret Staircase mysteries, Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries. Her debut novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant, she's been short-listed for the Edgar Award, and her mysteries have won Anthony, Agatha, Lefty, and Derringer awards.

These are just a few books in the Deanna Raybourn Veronica Speedwell Mystery series who is an intrepid adventuress, butterfly-hunter, and amateur sleuth. If you like the Victorian Era, you will find Veronica Speedwell series exciting.

Eve Dallas, a New York City police detective is the "Female Sleuth" in this In Death series and features her tycoon husband, Roarke. J. D. Robb has created a very indepth back story which is intriguing to say the least.

Jaya Jones, the "Female Sleuth of Gigi Pandian's Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries is part cozy with the other part an action-adventure. Mystery, humor and perhaps a touch of Indiana Jones.

We hope you have enjoyed this week looking into some of the best "Female Sleuths" and the authors who created them.

We hope you found some you would like to read and perhaps some you've read but would like to reread.

Let us know what your favorites are!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Three of The Ten


There are some great "Female Sleuths" out from the past and the present. Finding the author you like who writes the books with "Female Sleuths" however isn't easy. There are so many great ones out there. Be sure and let us know which ones you like.

Lisa Gardner, a #1 New York Times bestselling thriller novelist, began her career in food service, but after catching her hair on fire numerous times, she took the hint and focused on writing instead. A self-described research junkie, she has transformed her interest in police procedure and criminal minds into a streak of internationally acclaimed novels, published across 30 countries. She’s also had four books become TV movies (At the Midnight Hour; The Perfect Husband; The Survivors Club; Hide) and has made personal appearances on TruTV and CNN.

These are just a few books in the Lisa Gardner's D. D. Warren series. I have found her books to be riveting as most readers have. Gardner's "Female Sleuth" is D. D. Warren a Detective with the police department in Boston.

Kristen Lepionka is the Shamus Award-winning author of the Roxane Weary mystery series. She grew up mostly in a public library and could often be found in the adult mystery section well before she was out of middle school. Kristen cohosts the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters, in which feminist thriller writers have conversations about women who don't care if you like them. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her partner and two cats--Spenser, named for the Robert B. Parker character, and Snapple, named for the delicious bottled iced tea.

Kristen Lepionka "Female Sleuth" is Roxane Weary of the Roxane Weary Mystery series. She is a private investigator with problems of her own. One might say this "Female Sleuth" is quite stubborn.

Allison Brenner Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award winning author of three dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. She was nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers, had multiple nominations and two Daphne du Maurier Awards, and is a five-time RITA finalist for Best Romantic Suspense. Allison believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five kids and spends all her non-writing time as a sports spectator, chauffeur, and short-order cook for her munchkins. She has a dog, two cats, and three chickens. Allison and her family live in northern California.

Lucy Kincaid is her "Female Sleuth", an FBI agent in her Lucy Kincaid Novels. This is an exceptional series. Her Female Sleuth went from victim to an FBI agent.

If you have read any of their books, let us know which ones you like!