Monday, September 28, 2020

Rappahannock Writers Conference - November 7, 2020

The Central Rappahannock Regional Library, in partnership with the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA is hosting its 3rd annual writing conference. Due to the Pandemic, this year the conference will be virtual. The registration link went live today. I will be giving a presentation on writing scenes. They are the building blocks, the DNA, the essential elements of any prose genre.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

It’s launch day for #TheOrphanCollector by Ellen Marie Wiseman, a moving and timely novel set during the 1918 influenza pandemic! Order your copy anywhere books are sold: Autographed copies are available from @RiversEndBookstore too!

Several years ago I read Ellen Marie Wiseman's book set at the Willard State Hospital in Upstate New York, "What She Left Behind." This book was of great interest since my ancestors lived near the hospital, and some worked there.

Ms. Wiseman is a gifted writer and I am honored to help her launch her latest book, set, ironically, during the 1918 pandemic.

Please consider purchasing a copy, and note that a signed copy is available from Rivers End Bookstore (link above).

Check Ellen's website for her other titles.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Women as bright as Stars - by Rosemary Rowland

I started writing when I wanted to share my genealogy research. Encouraged during a session at the New England Regional Genealogical Social conference to write it up and share it now - I took one ancestral line, researched as much as I could of each person, and turned that research into a readable paragraph. My first attempt at a monograph was put together for a family gathering of the Agard family. I then followed up with a monograph on the Hardenbrook family, and then my father's line, the Nunn family. This process honed by writing skills and made it easier when I turned my hand to writing mysteries.

Rosemary Rowland has taken a slightly different approach. Realizing that women, for the most part, are left out of history, it was her goal to research, document, and feature the women who lived in the rural community of Newfield, New York during the 19th century.

Her writing is beautiful, crisp and clear. Her book will encourage anyone writing a non-fiction book.

If you wish to obtain a copy, contact Rosemary directly at:

Friday, May 1, 2020

Reimaging and Moving On

The Novel Covid-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. We are beginning to accept the fact that this is our new normal—social distancing, wearing masks in public places, and most of all, learning/adapting to new lifestyles to strengthen our immune systems. Of everything that we now have to do, strengthening our immune systems is probably the most important. And this has been my biggest frustration. The daily press briefings provide a perfect opportunity for our government leaders and health professionals to educate the American public on healthier eating choices, exercises, and alternative ways to strengthen the immune system. Why aren't they?

But I digress. The pandemic brought a sudden halt to the suspense story I had been working on for the last year and a half. I had 30,000 words written of the carefully thought out plot line. The story, set in Savannah, Georgia, was about a super virus developed in a China biotech firm by an American pharmaceutical company. One of the firm’s vice presidents would release a small amount of the live virus, and when the CEO of the pharmaceutical company resigned because of that, the antidote and vaccine would be revealed and the vice president would be named CEO. My characters, former WHO doctor Alaina Carter and Detective Denton Parker were the main characters.

You see the problem. Novel Covid-19 stole my plot line. No one would read my story when they had lived through, or were still living through the nightmare. Can I sue China for copyright infringement? Probably not. [Smile]

The situation caused some doldrums until I decided not to be defeated. I started my fourth Caitlyn Jamison mystery and love getting back with these characters. I’m trying a different story line that I hope will work. If not, then I’ll readjust. I am also sketching out a completely different suspense story for Alaina and Denton to pursue.

I am reimaging like all businesses are going to have to do to survive in the new normal. I am also moving on with my stories. I am not going to let Novel Covid-19 defeat me. And you shouldn’t either.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Reading, Writing, and Coincidence

Can a writer really go on vacation? I can’t seem to accomplish that. Characters from both books travel with me, whispering in my ear. Readers send messages asking when the next Caitlyn Jamison mystery will come out. And I thought Caitlyn and Ethan were due a vacation. Wrong.

The suspense story featuring Alaina Carter and Denton Parker is developing nicely, but with interest and encouragement from readers in another Caitlyn Jamison adventure, I’ve started research on that next book.

I’m excited about the plot line I’ve come up with and only hope Caitlyn and Ethan will be as well. It’s fun to see where the characters take my idea. I’ve learned to not try to control the story, just go along for the ride.

I read. A lot. Mostly mysteries, but some non-fiction, and because one of my neighbors, Hope Ramsey, AKA Robin Lanier, is a best selling USA Today author, I am reading and enjoying her romance books.

In a previous blog I wrote about serendipity vs coincidence and how each of my Caitlyn Jamison plot lines just happened to turn into important environmental or social issues. This morning I had chills as I read about the horrible accident at the NASCAR race yesterday that seriously wounded driver Ryan Newman. I got chills because yesterday afternoon when reading Hope Ramsay’s 2011 book, “Home at Last Chance” where on page 227 she wrote a scene that was almost identical to what happened to Mr. Newman yesterday. Her character, Tulane Rhodes is a race car driver, trying for a win when his back bumper was hit and he went flying. As I read the paper this morning, I thought, “Gee, I just read almost the same scene yesterday in a book. Except Ms. Ramsay’s character, Tulane, came out much better than Mr. Newman. 

Coincidence? I have no idea . . . 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Character Development

West end of Forsyth Park, Savannah, GA  
The setting for my new suspense story is Savannah, Georgia. The protagonist, Alaina Carter lives around the corner from where this photo was taken. Her house is one of the many Victorian "mansions" that line the north side of the street bordering the park. When she gazes out her second story home office window, this is the type of view she has, large trees with clinging Spanish moss. There is one way traffic around the park.

Over the last few days, I've been better developing Alaina's back story as well as that of the antagonist, Peter Doyle. I realized that poor Peter was just a stick figure with no flesh to be seen! I've been giving him a lot of thought and realized that the reason for his actions had to be more than power. There had to be something deeper driving him. And it was personal. I've reworked the first chapter, fleshing Peter out so that readers will be able to connect with him. I learned early on that even "bad" guys can have good attributes.

Monday, February 3, 2020


Each one of my Caitlyn Jamison mysteries has been serendipitous. In An Unexpected Death I wanted environmental issues as my main plot line. At first I hadn’t defined what that issue would be, but as my characters were developed, and the story took shape, I started to see articles about hydraulic fracturing. Since my mystery was set in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, following this environmental issue was a natural. Between articles in the Economist and the local New York papers, I had plenty of material from which to draw.

Then I embarked on my second book, Fatal Dose. I wanted to do something different. The opioid issue was beginning to be a social issue, so I chose that. Again, as the characters and plot line were developed, the opioid epidemic exploded and was all over the news. Again, a lot of research material.

For the third book, The Death of Cassie White I wanted to deal with a little known topic in which I could educate my readers. I mean, how many people knew about the vast uranium deposit in southwestern Virginia? I thought that would be a unique plot line. And it was. Except. When I was well into the book, an article appeared in our local Fredericksburg, Virginia paper describing how a mining company was trying to get the uranium ore mining moratorium put in place by the Virginia legislature in the 1980s overturned. Yikes!!! Serendipitous.

Well over a year ago I decided to write a suspense story. The setting would be Savannah, Georgia. Maybe I’d work in some ghosts. I needed an interesting, but scary plot line. My mind went back to about 2005 when I attended a library program on pandemics. The presentation was by a local doctor who was part of a team consisting of doctors in Western Connecticut and New York to educate the public and develop plans for - not if but when - a pandemic hits. The talk was fascinating. Dr. Dworkin explained how sickness would be a domino effect as truck drivers fell ill (cutting down on delivery of goods), water treatment plant employees not coming to work, the number of potentially ill people needing hospital beds versus how many actual beds are available in area hospitals. It was eye opening and scary. I went home and started my pandemic pantry, which Dr. Dworkin suggested hold enough food for three months. This, of course, would include all supplies you might need, medicines, pet food, etc. 

Over a year ago I decided this subject would be the plot line for my new book. 

Is it serendipitous that as I am well into my story we are faced with a possible pandemic from the corona virus? 

Lesson learned - be careful of future plot line decisions.