MAY - CELEBRATING ALUMNI - Where Are They Now? Also Book Recommendations from the Genre-istas!
5-07 Alumnus and Best-Selling Author Cathryn Cade

Friday, May 6, 2016

Ecletic Reading by Paty Jager

I write in several genres and that makes me a reader of several genres. While I have written mostly romance, it isn't my favorite genre. My favorite is mystery. Not thriller. If the writer goes to deep into the killer's mind it scares me and I can't read anymore or sleep!

But I have found a mystery writer I really like. J.L. Simpson's Daisy Dunlop series is a bit like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Only it's set in England with Daisy being married to a hunky man. Daisy is trying to find herself as her one and only son is getting older and will soon be off to the university.  Her ineptitude has made finding jobs a problem. That is why her hunky husband calls in a favor from his hunky best friend to give Daisy a job. His friend is an ex-spy and does P.I. work. This is a fun series with believable secondary characters and wonderful main characters. The best news is you can start following Daisy's escapades in her first book, Lost Cause for free!

Not only do I like mystery but I have a fascination of good witches. I'm not sure if it came from watching "Bewitched" as a child or reading the Witch of Blackbird Pond in Junior High. I've become a believer and follower of the Coastal Coven series by Diana McCollum. Her book The Witch with a Trident Tattoo has a good witch trying to find out who or what is killing life in the ocean. The witches are all unique and "enchanting". The story line is believable and James her "familiar" is over the top and perfect for the story. Pick up your copy and enjoy hanging out with the Coastal Coven witches.

Besides my love of a good mystery book, I have a fascination for American Indian lore. Another mystery series that I enjoy and am sorry to hear Shannon Baker isn't writing any more are the Nora Abbot Mysteries. Book one Tainted Mountain starts the series with Nora Abbot and her husband trying to keep a ski resort in Northern Arizona afloat. Many things happen and not only is her husband killed but many other lives are at stake. I met Shannon at the Left Coast Crime conference this past February and completely understand why she's ended the series. She picked an American Indian tribe who are very closed off to the world. Trying to gather information for her books was like pulling teeth.

I've also recently finished a Young Adult novel written by Carmen Peone. It is a coming of age story set in 1870. This story follows three teen-aged boys as they head off on a three day adventure. Only things go from bad to worse and the main character must draw on things he's learned from an Indian friend to help the three survive their trip. The author of Delbert's Weir lives on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington state and has incorporated many of the Native American survival skills into the story.

I don't get a lot of time to read for pleasure as it seems I am always reading reference books for the current or next book I'm writing.  I hope if you pick one or all of these books up to read that you enjoy them as much as I did.

Happy Reading!
Writing into the Sunset 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Perfect Summer Mystery

By Robin Weaver

Looking for a great summer read? Look no further than DEAR KILLER. I recommended this book last year, and I will probably recommend it again next year--it's that good. :) Author. Linda Lovely does an awesome job of surprising the reader--you never know what will happen next--and the writing is excellent.

To keep busy, Marley works security for a Sea Island resort in the South Carolina Lowcountry. The feisty widow’s yawner of a job turns into a deadly battle of wits after she finds an islander drowned and bobbing naked amid a potpourri of veggies in a Jacuzzi. Each death pairs with a grizzly pun.

Marley is a great and spunky heroine who will have you rooting for her from page one and Ms. Lovely's subtle descriptions of Deer Island will have you planning your own beach retreat.

DEAR KILLER is the first in a series of Marley Clark adventures that combine heart-pounding suspense with generous sides of romance and humor.  The sequel, NO WAKE ZONE, is just as good and both are also available as audio books.

Here's an excerpt:

The wrought-iron gates stood open—again. The college kids assigned to lock up were zero for three this week. I sighed, switched on my flashlight, and walked toward the swimming pools. One more chink in the resort’s security armor for vandals to exploit.

I noticed a smudge of light on the horizon and a twinge of unease crept over me. Hilton Head Island snaked into the ocean about twenty miles south, as a pelican flies, and its neon glitz cast a yellow pall over the velvet blackness. Normally our resort has too many competing halogens to detect a neighbor’s light pollution.
Three lights in the Dolphin Club were out. It was too dark. Goose bumps raced up my arms. Something was hinky. Frozen in a cabana archway, I listened for any sound, some hint an intruder lurked in the shadows. Only gurgling water and a chorus of tree frogs broke the silence.

Sweeping my beam over the three-pool terrain, I strained to catch any movement. All was still. A second pass spotlighted an anomaly: clothing piled on a chair beside the Jacuzzi.
I walked closer, then paused as a shadowy blot rippled the surface of the water. It took a second to grasp someone floated face down. I sprinted. My feet made crunching noises as my shoes pulverized glass from the broken lamps.

No, no, no. Please don’t let him be dead.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Favorite Beach Reads by Kristin Wallace

So this month’s theme is "Pass That Book Along". Basically, we get to recommend some of our favorite books to you! Since it is also the beginning of May, that means summer is around the corner. Which means it’s time to bust out the “summer reads”. Fun, interesting and escapist tales that you can enjoy on vacation or simply as a break from the everyday stress of life.

My pick for you is WHISPER BEACH by Shelley Noble

I mean, it has the word “beach” in the title so it must be required reading. I am a big fan of Shelley and love all of her books. She has such a wonderful way of writing descriptions. You really feel like you’re right there with the characters…and what interesting characters: tough-talking mother figure Dorie; quirky lit professor Suze who doesn’t fit her parents’ high-bred lifestyle; and Dana the bad girl who may not be so bad after all. 

WHISPER BEACH is a great coming home story. Check it out for your next beach read!

Fifteen years ago, seventeen-year-old Vanessa Moran fell in love and lost her virginity but not to the same boy. Pregnant, desperate, and humiliated, she fled friends and family and Whisper Beach, New Jersey, never breathing a word about her secret to anyone. She hasn’t been back since. Now a professional Manhattan organizer, she returns to the funeral of her best friend’s husband. She intends on just paying her respects and leaving—though she can’t deny she also wants the town to see how far she’s come as a successful business woman. But her plans to make this a short visit fall by the wayside when her girlfriends have other ideas.

Dorie, the owner of the pier’s Blue Crab Restaurant where Van and her friends worked as teenagers, needs help. Dorie’s roving husband spends every penny they make and now their restaurant is failing.

Joe, the boy Van left behind without an explanation, has never stopped loving her. While he’s wary of getting hurt again, he also can’t help wondering what would happen if they took up where they left off.

As the summer progresses and the restaurant takes on a new look, trouble comes from unexpected sources. For Van, this summer will test the meaning of friendship and trust—and how far love can bend before it breaks.

More Beach Reads...

Not to make a shameless plug, but I would also recommend my Shellwater Key Tales series. These books are set in a Florida beach town so they should get you right in the summer mood. The latest, COMING HOME TO PARADISE, just came out in April. 

Coming Home To Paradise

Thirty years ago, desperation drove Elizabeth McCarthy to do the unthinkable when she abandoned her infant daughter, Layla, to the care of her mother. Now, after years of trying to outrun the memories and the guilt, Beth has come home to Shellwater Key to make amends. She has survived deadbeat relationships, becoming a single mother, and cancer, but now faces the most difficult battle of her life…finding a way to connect with the legendary mother she was never able to please…and earning the forgiveness of the daughter who has every reason to hate her. She might even have a chance to find the missing piece of her heart when Layla’s father arrives in town looking for answers.

Make sure you also check out Book 1 in the series, Left Turn At Paradise, which is a tie-in to this one, telling the story from Layla's point-of-view. 

Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”.  For info visit Kristin Wallace Author

Monday, May 2, 2016

Michelle Monkou's Recap of Outlander, Season 2, Episode 4

Outlander Season Two, Episode Four - La Dame Blanche

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television

The action ramped up in this episode after the detailed landscape of Paris life, its key players, and the reason for being in Paris took over the earlier episodes. While this is a not a series of random and frequent deaths or apocalyptic invasion of zombies, there is enough suspense, unexpected results, and sexiness to earn its place on the must-watch TV list.

At the center of it all is Le Comte St. Germain--the pain in the arse.

No other way to put it. He hangs around in each of his scenes with arrows pointing down on him as the "bad" guy. You don't have to guess if he's the cause of the chaos in the episode. He's either the key organizer or knows more than he should about the affairs. And we all know from the beginning of the season that the Frasers had made an enemy. He's being given too many opportunities to harm Claire and the baby. Too many reasons to get a sword through the heart by Jamie. I don't see any signs of his demise, but I do look forward to witnessing it whenever it does play out in the season.

While there are all levels of evil swirling among the men, the women are a force. The fairer and weaker sex have been powerful examples of women in history. Politics, religion, and social constrictions gave some freedoms within a tight box.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
We've got Claire leading the pack in female empowerment with her unusual childhood upbringing, "contemporary" sensibilities and no matter who or what, using her medical skill to be a savior.

Mother Hildegarde who embodies her religion with a lifetime commitment, also has an open heart to see and take the good from everyone, especially in aid for her hospital.

Louise de Rohan faces an untimely pregnancy and the gender and social consequences of following her sexual passion. In a frank discussion, she and Claire reveal to us the options and confines around sexual independence.

And then there is Mary Hawkins, a young girl who will be matched with a much older man, but whose heart comes alive in the blossoming friendship of a man closer to her age. But a sexual assault brings not only pain and shame, but a ruinous cloud over her as a woman who is no longer innocent.

In an episode chock full of pivotal points, the Fraser's meticulously planned dinner party ended with a massive fight. The Frasers could not have foreseen the unfortunate circumstances that brought everyone in the room to see Alex Randall on top of Mary Hawkins. With Jamie and Murtagh fighting side by side, they certainly couldn't have foreseen the fight that escalated and the fallout for such a ruined evening.  Great cliffhanger to keep us on the edge of our seats for the answer to What Now?

Share with me what you thought of Season 2, episode four. While you’re compiling your thoughts, I asked Debra McGill, chairperson of the Cookbook Committee for the Cooklander cook book.

Wow. This episode was CRAZY!! LOL

I don't even know where to begin. 1) How do you measure the villain metric of Comte Germain to Randall? Could they be like evil brothers or is it a matter of separate category of badness?

Debra: We're talking apples and oranges when it comes to Black Jack Randall and the Comte St. Germain.  Very rotten apples and moldy oranges (laughs).  This situation reminds me more of last season when Claire was accused of being a witch than of Black Jack Randall's obsession of owning Jamie Fraser, body and soul.  The Comte St. Germain is extremely angry with Claire publicly announcing his ship had shipmates with smallpox when he could have privately bought off the Harbor Master and made the problem go away. The Harbor Master had no choice but to burn the ship and it's expensive cargo, a year's worth of income for the Comte.  He is out to get even with Claire in whatever way he can.  

Jamie doesn't help matters by calling Claire "La Dame Blanche" to "protect his virtue" from prostitutes when he goes out drinking with Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his cronies.  Jamie considers them men with very loose morals, and Jamie is a very religious, strict one woman man and would never cheat on his marriage.  He pretty much told the other men his wife was a white witch and he doesn't dare cheat on her.  That quickly spreads throughout Paris.  Like many cities and towns, Paris trades on gossip, both in high society and with the servants.   The Comte's first strike at Claire is poisoning her drink while at Versailles.  She becomes violently ill and was in danger of losing her baby.  Also, hurting Claire and/or Jamie in any way is a bonus for the Comte since Jamie's cousin, Jared Fraser, is the Comte's biggest business rival.  There is a rumor the Comte belongs to a Satanic or Cabbalistic Cult and Claire's name has come up many times in prayer to harm her.  

Jamie has key points of vulnerability throughout this series: Stripping his back bare to induce fundraising for the rebellion; Opening his heart and "innocence" to Claire; And sharing his deepest wound with Claire. Your thoughts as he finally lets Claire into his darkness.

Debra: In the books, Jamie had several months to heal.  Claire did an awe-inspiring job of putting her life in danger to allow Jamie to act out his anger with Black Jack Randall.  In the series, he's only had a short time to heal so he's certainly not going to get over being raped by Black Jack in that tiny period of time. Claire also brought Jamie back from being suicidal in both the books and in the series, but again, there was more time in the books.  Being that depressed and suicidal, Jamie can't just pop back to being himself. In the series he keeps himself super busy with his cousin Jared's wine and spirits business, socializing with Jacobites to try to stop the upcoming rising that will ruin Scotland for two centuries, hobnobbing with French nobility including King Louis, and keeping Bonnie Prince Charlie company (along with those wanton biting women!).  

Although my heart was breaking for both of them, I had to laugh as we've all had arguments like that with our spouses or significant others. They both were struggling in their own way, trying to do what they thought best for the other. After a terrible argument, Claire begs him to explain to her what he is feeling, what he is going through.  His words are heart-wrenching.  He speaks of how everyone has a small secret place inside of them. A fortress in his soul.  And his fortress had been blown wide open by Randall and his acts of depravity.  Jamie felt like he was naked, trying to hide behind a blade of grass.  Jamie winds up sleeping on the 18th century version of the couch.  Claire later goes to him and plays on the theme of "Come back to me Jamie Fraser" when he has left on trips.  He finally is able to make his way back to Claire, to himself, and to them as one.  It's a beautiful moon-lit scene as they make love, and afterwards Jamie tells Claire that it was a good start.  It was like she had built him a lean-to and he no longer had to hide behind a blade of grass.  He then pats her baby bump and says it's a lean-to with a roof and shelter from the rain.  It was a beautiful scene, taken straight from the book.  Toni Graphia did a wonderful job writing this episode, building on last week's episode written by the fabulous Anne Kenney.  I will say I'm a hopeless romantic and cried, even though I've read the books too many times to count!  Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan have certainly brought Claire and Jamie to life for fans like me.

The dinner party was a hot mess--lots of issues escalated, but abruptly stifled. What are you looking forward to seeing/learning in the next episode(s)

Debra: That was quite a dinner party!  I did have some laugh out loud moments, especially from the Duke of Sandringham - "I was so looking forward to dessert" as fists are flying and bodies are flung across the room. That Jamie and Murtagh are quite a pair!  I felt so bad for Mary Hawkins. I saw on Social Media people were disturbed about the rape of Mary Hawkins.  That was tame as compared to what was done to Jamie!  It's historically accurate in that women were marked if they were raped, even though it wasn't their fault.  

It's so important to Claire to protect both Mary Hawkins and Black Jack Randall because they are supposedly the 6th or 7th great grandparents of her husband Frank whom she left in the 1940's.  That sounds bizarre (laughs).  She feels she owes it to Frank since she chose to stay in the 1740's with Jamie.  Claire feels as long as Frank's wedding band is on her finger, Frank will live.  People who haven't read the books will be surprised at how it all turns out.  I hate to sound blood thirsty like Jamie, but I am looking forward to his encounter with Black Jack.  I'm trying to keep this spoiler free as I don't want to ruin any of the surprises Diana Gabaldon has written.  

Please tell us the inspiration for the cookbook--Cooklander To The Stove. Who were involved in its roll out. What charities did you send proceeds. What did it mean for you?

Anna Campbell's cherry almond cookies
Debra: A little over a year ago, I was seeing terrific things being done to raise money for the charities of the various stars.  I've bought a lot of t-shirts, totes, dolls, backpacks, and raffle tickets. Since I've always been a foodie who collects cookbooks, I thought it would be fun to make a cookbook centered on Outlander. I have always collected cookbooks, especially those that come from Churches, Women's Groups, Firehalls, etc.  In other words, tried and true dishes by local people.  I put the word out to a few online friends, who brought in a few other online friends.  I contacted cookbook companies and when I settled on a company I wanted to work with, my committee and I reached out to the Outlander cast, crew, authors I knew, various celebrities, and the people known as the Best Fans Ever.  We have recipes from every continent but the Antarctic.  They are local foods in every way and I have to say from personal experience, delicious!  The first recipe I tried was Lamb Shwarma from actor Tim Downie (Paddington, The King's Speech, Les Miserables, The Toast of London).  

The name is obvious in some ways.  Cooklander is obviously a play on Outlander.  In the books and in the series, the clan cry for the McKenzies (Jamie Fraser's maternal side of the family) is Tulach Ard!  It's Scots Gaelic for a mountain in the McKenzie heartland of Kintail.  With the Scots Brogue, it sounds like the Warriors are crying "To the Car" so it's a running joke on Social Media.  Our one cookbook committee member Bev came up with Cooklander, and I came up with To the Stove.  We thought it was a winner!  We recently had a presence in the NYC Tartan Week Parade with Sam Heughan as Grand Marshall.  Complete with a banner, Cooklander ladies, led by our Cooklander member Jenny, were wearing winter coats, aprons, and carrying wooden spoons and umbrellas, and they marched down Fifth Avenue.  It's a day they will remember and it gave us great exposure!

The artwork was done by amateurs, but as far as I'm concerned, they are pros.  The first thing people notice is how beautiful the cookbook is, and that's due to the insanely talented women who did our photos.  All of the people who worked on the cookbook voted to only be known by their twitter names.  Since it was my idea, I put my real name and home address out there, and bought a separate cellphone just for people to call Cooklander: To the Stove! I have a sponsor who bought 3000 cookbooks so we could get them at a cheaper rate.  I have a very good friend who is known as @Boutan_Barks on Twitter, and we call her Bouts.  She's my partner in this venture as she does the computer work, keeps up the website, sets up the printing labels.  I print out the labels, keep records of what and how many were sent to whom, and my husband packs up the boxes and mails them.

We do this for three charities advocated by Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser), Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser), and Diana Gabaldon (Author of the Outlander Series).  Once all 3000 cookbooks are sold, we will be able to pay back our sponsor and have $15,000 to give to each charity.  The charities are as follows:

World Child Cancer  (@WChildCancer & offers hope to children with cancer in some of the world's poorest countries.  Caitriona Balfe is a patron of World Child Cancer.

NPH USA (@NPHUSA & is dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned and abandoned children in Latin America and the Carribean.  It is one of many charities supported by Diana Gabaldon.

Bloodwise (@bloodwise_uk & has been beating blood cancer since 1960.  Their research is shared with others around the world.  This is one of many charities advocated by Sam Heughan.

Anyone interested in knowing more about Cooklander: To the Stove! should go to  

With my involvement with different people on Twitter, I became friends with Tim Downie, as mentioned above.  Tim and a couple of others I know are Ambassadors for a wonderful organization called Blue Sky Autism Project (@EarlyASD &   They are self funded as Scotland doesn't have any state aid for autism.  I have been collecting items to be raffled through rafflecopter some time over the summer.  But first, I would like to give our garage back to my husband by selling all of the Cooklander books!