A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

NOTE: the blog is currently dormant but please enjoy the posts we're keeping online.

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

On Procrastination & Writing

I am a master of procrastination. I am also a writer.

I know – I shouldn’t be admitting this. Not in public. But we’re all friends here, right?

Deadlines are great. I love deadlines. They tell me when to coast and when to panic. They give me an excuse to stay up late, eat junk food and blow off social commitments I shouldn’t have said yes to in the first place. Because of, you know, that deadline.

Procrastination can be rationalized if you try hard enough. It’s a mental break while your mind is working out what you’re doing next in the background, a.k.a. your subconscious. That Netflix binge is research. Writing a blog post or short story for submission is a workout using a different set of creative muscles.

Then again, maybe you’re just putting off until tomorrow what you were supposed to have gotten done yesterday.

But it’s not all bad. As an expert-level procrastinator, I’ve got a few tricks to get past it and I’m willing to share them with you. Because we’ve all got to face those deadlines sometime, right?

1. Disconnect from the Internet
Turn over your phone and the wifi on your laptop. While not foolproof (phone alerts are still an ongoing distraction), this will dissuade you from falling into a Netflix/Facebook/YouTube/Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat etc. vortex of just one click and then I’ll get back to work.

Because it’s never just one click, is it?

2. Leave the house to work
Cafés are great. Bars if you prefer less caffeination and more inebriation to get your writing done. Go where people won’t bug you and there’s enough going on for you to feel like maybe you’re procrastinating when you’re staring off into space for 5 minutes but it’s not 5 hours of binge watching later. And fresh air! Always a good thing.

3. Start Slow
Try paying a bill when it arrives instead of waiting until the day it’s due. Book that dental cleaning appointment instead of delaying until your jaw has swelled to the size of a grapefruit and you need root canal surgery. Get that grant proposal ready a month before the deadline so other people can give you feedback rather than leaving it to 11:59 PM on the day it's due and hoping your internet connection doesn’t drop at that critical moment.

The more you practice, the easier it (should) get. Right?

It’s ok. You’ve got this.

What are your tips and tricks to deal with procrastination? Share them in the comments below.


Beth Dranoff writes the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Suspense Mark of the Moon series, published by CarinaPress / Harlequin and sold through most online booksellers. Currently she’s working on Shifting Loyalties (a.k.a. Mark of the Moon – Book 3). She lives in the Greater Toronto Area with her family, her dog, and more books than she can count. Is it before noon? Then there’s probably a mug of coffee nearby too. Like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or drop by her site at

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Smoke & Mirrors

“Holy hell what a book. Wow Wow Wow! This book was crazy, in the very best way. It's a must read. Romantic suspense can be a tough one but this book packed a serious punch and kept me flipping those pages like a loon!” ~ Ayekah’s Reviews on Goodreads

“I've read all but one of Ms. Rowe's Biological Response Task Force and now two of the Outbreak series and I have only 3 words for this addition: Oh. My. God. This was a fantastic book!!” ~ Teresa’s Reviews on Goodreads

“Talk about your smoldering, scarred, uber alpha, military leading man! Rowe writes a nail biting novel that is sure to pull the reader in hook, line and sinker.” ~ Beth’s Reviews on Goodreads

He looked like he came straight out of her naughtiest fantasies

Someone scratched a death threat in the paint of CDC nurse Kini Kerek’s rental car.  She’s in Utah researching Hantavirus, but damaging rumors about the CDC have left residents suspicious and uncooperative. Thank goodness for hot, sexy, former soldier Smoke, a man of few words, who’s assigned to protect and help her navigate the isolated desert town as she races to identify a deadly virus before more people die.

Memories from the combat zone leave ex-Special Forces soldier Lyle Smoke in a constant state of battle readiness, and he finds no solace, even after returning home to Small Blind. When he meets Kini Kerek, he discovers his heart isn’t entirely dead. But, that might not last long, because this outbreak is no mistake, and he’ll need to use all his survival skills gleaned from the military and his Native American upbringing to keep him and the beautiful, but secretive, Kini alive.

Don’t miss VIABLE THREAT book 1 in the OUTBREAK TASK FORCE series
Julie’s Books: Amazon | iBooks Kobo | Entangled Publishing

Smoke & Mirrors Contest!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “Fiction has to be believable”. Julie writes romantic suspense and romantic thrillers. Her most recent titles include VIABLE THREAT Book #1 and SMOKE & MIRRORS book #2 of the Outbreak Taskforce series. You can find her at , on Twitter @julieroweauthor or at her Facebook page:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Meet Pugsy!

Pugsy the Rescue Pug

For many years, I had a muse. She was perfect. I called her Lucy Laptop and she was a Pug. A Mother's Day gift, Lucy was a puppy at the time. Her job was to sit next to me on the couch and inspire me - something she did for thirteen years. 

Sadly, Lucy died of cancer two years ago. And for the last two years, I'd see Pugs everywhere I went - from the grocery store to vacation. Still, I didn't find another pug. We had two other dogs and I was even busier with two kids in high school and cranking out books. 

But lately, I've missed the breed. These little clowns are a perfect fit for this cozy comedy writer. My family has caught me more than once, watching Pug videos on YouTube, buying little Pug stuffed animals and pining for the Pug. 

My husband suggested Pug rescue and I've been watching various sites for just the right dog. And that's when I found Pugsy - a little 8 yo boy with Pug Partners of Nebraska. 

After a background search with references that rivaled the FBI background checks for Girl Scouts, I passed muster. And today, we are on our way to Des Moines to pick up the newest member of our family. 

The question is, am I rescuing him, or is he rescuing me? My guess is the latter.

Leslie Langtry

Monday, February 19, 2018

Disney Adventure Movies

Do you remember those old  Disney adventure movies? Swiss Family Robinson. 20,000 Leagues
Under The Sea. Island At The Top Of The World. Granted, some are older than me, but there has still been an opportunity to see them all. As a kid I couldn't wait to go onto the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride at Disney World. Even at that naive age I realized that the submarine never actually went to that depth. Heck it didn't even go under water–just the windows did! At such a tender age you realize that you've just been duped.

Still, I've always loved a great adventure–be it in print or on film. I'm supposed to be a romantic suspense author, but every now and then I need to feed that inner child–the one who was disappointed that the 20,000 Leagues ride didn't actually go 20,000 leagues down. Coming next month I'll be releasing BENEATH, a young adult adventure about a family whose boat is capsized on the Atlantic Ocean. They get caught in a rogue downward current that hauls them deep into the Atlantic canyons and sucks them into a cave at the bottom of the sea. 

It may not be romantic suspense, but it has a touch of romance in it, and there is definitely suspense. And this time the ride really goes underwater!

How about you? Do you still enjoy Disney adventures?


An overnight fishing trip on the Atlantic Ocean…
It was Stella Gullaksen’s final break before starting her freshman year at college. Joining her best friend, Jill, and Jill's family aboard the STARKISSED, Stella wakes to a violent storm that capsizes the boat over a hundred miles off the New Jersey shore.
As the waves haul her under Stella knows that she is going to die. Instead, an unusual current drags her deep into the underwater canyons of the Atlantic Ocean. Powerless against the raging waters, she is suddenly sucked into a ventilated cave. One by one, Jill and her family also emerge in the sunken cavern.

With only a faulty diving flashlight to keep oblivion at bay Stella and her best friend's brother, Colin, search the cave in hope of finding a way back to the surface. What they discover, however, is that they are not alone. There are other survivors in this subterranean grotto–survivors spanning decades of maritime disasters.
Will this discovery prove salvation, or have they all been condemned to the same fate? A grim finale at the bottom of the sea?

On an alliance forged by friendship and attraction, Stella and Colin battle to escape the danger that lies beneath.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sad Valentine's Day

by Janis Patterson
It is common wisdom that most murders are committed for either love or greed. It is also pretty much accepted that deaths increase around holidays, especially those celebrating love and/or family such as Valentine's Day and Christmas. All of this, while being pretty depressing in real life makes things a lot easier for us mystery writers.

Today is the Day of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of romantic and courtly love. It is a day of flowers, cards, candy, dinners out, gifts and - in most cases - a whole lot of kissing. It is also a day of loneliness, despair and sorrow. When you have someone to love, Valentine's can be a time of joy and shared affection. When you want someone to love and don't have anyone, Valentine's day can be a day of gloom and loneliness and sorrow. Most people have experienced both kinds of day.

What's truly sad, though, is the person who wants a particular person... and that person doesn't want him. Now this happens all the time - but this situation can turn real scary depending on how unstable the rejected one is. Just how far will he (or she) go to prove he is worthy of love? What will he do to convince his object of desire that she must return his feelings? Or will he decide instead to punish her for not responding to him? (I'm not being deliberately sexist - either position of this scenario can be taken by either sex, though statistically more women are victims than men.) It can go either way, and most of the time neither alternative is pleasant.

We see a similar situation around family-centric holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. As on Valentine's Day there are preconceived notions of how we should feel - happy family reunions, fabulous meals, presents, good cheer, decorated trees, peace-on-earth-and-good-will-to-men and all that. Unfortunately, even though so many people have the outward trappings - trees and presents, for example - they don't feel like people tend to think they should feel. The holiday is not a panacea that makes everything in their life all right; in fact, it often makes them feel worse.

There are more suicides around Christmas than any other day of the year. I don't know the exact statistics for murders, but I do know it's generally higher than on the average day.

So how does this help us as mystery writers? If you write about a murder on a July beach or a Halloween murder, not much. Neither the Fourth of July or Halloween are really family- or romance-centric. Of course, any holiday can be used, as can any day of the year, but in general it doesn't carry the same emotional weight as the romantic/family holidays.

The emotional stress of holidays cannot be discounted. If holidays can make the normal ones among us crazy, imagine what they can do to the unstable. These holidays and their often unreal expectations are something pushing at the villain not only from outside but from inside. This offers the writer all kinds of opportunities to give depth and reality to their characters. Good characters aren't just composed of height, weight, eye color and occupation; they are all of that, but what makes them individual are their hopes and dreams and disappointments.

There is no disappointment worse than an unrealized holiday feeling.

Monday, February 12, 2018


Do you have a character who needs just the right little black dress, or the proper 16th century doublet, or maybe a Confederate officer's uniform? Well, for historically correct clothing from the Middle Ages through World War II and later, have you tried one of the historical clothing blog sites?  If not, you might want to give them a look. They can easily be Googled and include The Fashion Historian, The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum, The Costume Society of America . . . the list goes on.  And for the writer, these sites are a mine of useful information. Some of them feature images, others historical vignettes and fashion anecdotes. Some even include sewing information.

The fact that I spent an afternoon exploring these blogs, especially the ones highlighting sewing, is a surprise even to me. For while I can play with commas, verbs and sentence structures all day long, if you hand me a needle and say, "Shorten my pants," my eyes cross.

But sewing angst aside, and even if your characters don't need to be garbed in vintage duds, these blogs are worth reviewing with their fabulous, intricate (to the point of being mind-boggling) clothing, most of which was made before the invention of the sewing machine. But hand, stitch by stitch, pleat by pleat, someone, somewhere, patiently and with great artistry created gorgeous dresses, blouses, skirts, suits, hats, etc.  And they are well worth admiration. Case in point:

And another: 

Oops! Sorry, couldn't resist, though this one was machine made (outfit only!)

Actually, as I scrolled around, I realized that creating a gorgeous garment, using little more than fabric, thread and a needle, isn't so very different from creating a novel using nouns, verbs and other parts of speech. Both endeavors weave threads into a whole: a gown, a book, a sweater, a short story. A stretch, you say? Maybe not. How about this? Every creative process takes something nebulous--threads, notes, colors, ideas--and with imagination, persistence and very hard work produces a brand new something. Hopefully, an object d'art. To reinforce my theme here, isn't a good story often called a good yarn?

Okay, I'm done. Preaching is over. I'm off to pour a glass of wine and look for an 1890's harem outfit. In red.

Jean Harrington is the author of the award-winning Murders by Design Mysteries and the listed and Lethal Mysteries. Murder on Pea Pike, the first Listed and Lethal book is also due out on March 21 in a large print edition. Jean's mysteries can be found in both print and e-books at Amazon.  

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Romance Me

Love is a powerful force. Romantic love has been the topic of endless songs, poems, stories and plays for as long as mankind can remember. It’s that combination of love and romance that spurs us on our journey to achieve enduring and loving relationships.

I’m a hopeless romantic. One of my favorite films is Casablanca, but I love Romancing the Stone, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, and many others with a similar feel-good romance. I love romances of all genres because I like becoming invested in the character’s lives. I’m intrigued by the passion and feelings that happen to us when we’re falling for someone. Sometimes it’s a hard, breathless fall where you dive in headfirst, and other times it’s a slow burn of friendship that turns into something more. Regardless of how you move into romantic love, the start of a new romance is a celebration of many moments, including those that are tender, exciting, sexy and even endearingly awkward.

Love can be temperamental and fierce, as many of us know. But romance in its purest form, is uplifting and pleasurable—something that rescues us from the routine of everyday life and the isolation we may feel when we’re alone. Having said that, and remembering that Valentine's Day is next week, here are some things that represent the power of romance to me.

(1)  Time. When your partner gives you time—clears his/her schedule to be with you—that’s romantic. It means you matter. That is powerful.
(2)  Attention. When your partner spends that time with you. Not with a project in the garage, watching the ballgame or catching a movie with friends. Romance is when the attention is on you, the partner.
(3) Consideration. Being considerate of someone’s time and responsibilities is important in a romance. Splitting chores, helping where needed, cooking a meal together and sharing a burden (physical or emotional), is romantic in my book.
(4)  Kindness/Tenderness. Kindness/tenderness is special and romantic. A person with a kind heart is a good person. Rest assured, you, too, will be the beneficiary of this tenderness. Kindness can go a long way in changing a mood or even a life.
(5)  Respect. I respect you as a person, and I expect the same from you. When you share a romance someone and are respectful of their differences and quirks, you are reinforcing their worth and uniqueness, and reflecting it back to them. This is perhaps the most powerful element of romance.

So, what represents the power of romance to you? J

Julie Moffett is a bestselling author and writes in the genres of mystery, young adult, historical romance, and paranormal romance. She is the author of the geeky, fun Lexi Carmichael Mystery Series and the new young adult series called White Knights. Get more information about her books at

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