Friday, August 28, 2015 | By: Cafe
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
- Charles William Eliot
Thursday, August 27, 2015 | By: Cafe

Growing Up on Margaretta Street by Rena Koontz

The Write Way Café welcomes Rena Koontz, who enriches her stories with details from real life. But should she?

I grew up on Margaretta Street.

I share that because, if you read the dedication in my new book, “Crystal Clear Love,” it mentions the kids who grew up on Margaretta Street, a cobblestoned incline that stopped at the edge of a mass of dense trees we fondly called “The Woods.”

Margaretta Street was a self-contained world for the more than one-dozen of us who lived there, all right around the same age. Because it was a dead-end street, the only traffic belonged to the residents, mostly our moms and dads, who knew enough to drive the hill slowly while watching for errant wiffle balls and out-of-control sleds. Those cobblestones turned as slick as ice in the winter. Yep, we played in the street. The skinny, wooden telephone pole, right about in the middle, served as home base for our hide-and-go seek games. Old Man Tucker’s car always marked the outfield for our pick-up baseball games. He never seemed to move that jalopy.

I wrote about all that in “Crystal Clear Love.” Yes, it’s a work of fiction, but it is also a case of real life landing on the pages of a contemporary romance novel. I discussed it with my lifelong friend, Cherrie, who becomes Sherry in the book. “You can write whatever you want, Reen. And I wouldn’t mind if you made me a little bad.” She’s always been a “good girl.”

I hashed it out with my buddy Mike, who is the fictitious hero and whose last name is different by just two extra letters. He threw his head back and laughed. “When it’s a best-seller, I’ll change the spelling of my name to his.”

And so I wrote the book, tapping into childhood memories, reliving specific antics, and capturing the joy of the kids I grew up with and the wonderful world we lived in. No drugs or alcohol crept up that dead-end street. No crime. We defined “bad” by a broken bone, a gash that required stitches, or a dented bumper.

We didn’t know – and didn’t appreciate – the idyllic youth we had in our little dead-end corner of the world.

Real life is portrayed on my pages in the flashbacks of the hero and heroine.

And now, I fret. What if Mike is offended by the depiction of his father, who did indeed smell like beer and drank a little too much of it? But knowing it and seeing it in print are two different realities. What if revealing a whispered intimacy secret crosses a line with Cherrie?

Authors are often advised to write what they know and I don’t think you can keep real life out of your books. I don’t know any other way to write than from my heart, and “Crystal Clear Love” is exactly that kind of book. But what if it wasn’t the right thing to do? What if it hurts feelings and reveals too much?

What do you do when real life nudges its way onto your pages?

For more about “Crystal Clear Love,” or Rena Koontz, visit her website at

About Rena:  Rena Koontz broke into the publishing world in 2012 with her debut novel, “Love’s Secret Fire.” It was quickly followed by “The Devil She Knew” and “Thief Of The Heart,” – all three romantic suspense novels that critics praised for keeping readers on the edge of their seats.
     But Rena had a love story in mind, just begging to be told – the book of her heart. “Crystal Clear Love” is Rena’s first contemporary romance, inspired by childhood friends and memories, and fictionalized from stories gleaned from her career as a journalist. Working as a news reporter at two of the country’s top 20 newspapers provided a writing journey that took Rena into the sports arena, politics, feature writing, editorial writing, and, her favorite, cops and courts. Along the way she met killers and kids who left an impression, victims and victors who beat the odds, and reported stories on life, loss and love.
     Her novels are the realization of a lifelong dream to write stories that combine romance, suspense and strong female characters designed to mirror today’s women.
     A Pittsburgh native, Rena lives in Central Florida.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: Rolynn Anderson and Amazon Encore!


WHAT is AmazonEncore?  Says Amazon: “Discover Hidden Treasures. AmazonEncore helps readers discover extraordinary, previously-published, overlooked books from emerging authors.”

WHEN?  11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.  (I’m on from 8-9:00 a.m. but I’ll be available to chat most of the day)

WHERE?  Facebook:  Do sign up!

WHY?  For fun, for prizes and for the chance to check out some high quality novels!

SPECIAL TO COMMENTERS AT THE WRITE WAY CAFE (You can win prizes at the party, too), What’s your favorite place in Alaska and why…if you’ve never been to Alaska, what part of the state intrigues you?  LIE CATCHERS takes place in Petersburg, Alaska, a town full of Norwegians, and a great setting for my mystery/suspense/romance!

I’m proud to present my suspense novel, LIE CATCHERS. 

Two unsolved murders will tear apart an Alaska fishing town unless a writer and a government agent reveal their secret obsessions.

Treasury agent Parker Browne is working undercover in Petersburg, Alaska to investigate a money scam and a murder. His prime suspect, Liv Hanson, is a freelance writer struggling to save her family’s business. Free spirited, full of life, and with a talent for catching liars, she fascinates Parker.

Trying to prove she’s a legitimate writer who cares about Petersburg’s issues, Liv pens a series of newspaper articles about an old, unsolved murder. When her cold case ties in with Parker’s investigation, bullets start to fly.

Parker understands money trails, and Liv knows the town residents. But he gave up on love two years ago, and she trusts no one, especially with her carefully guarded secret. If they mesh their skills to find the killers, will they survive the fallout?

Lie Catchers is available at Amazon.

Please visit my Website for more information about my books!

Friday, August 21, 2015 | By: Cafe
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
- Thomas A. Edison
Thursday, August 20, 2015 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Maris Soule

The Write Way Café welcomes Maris Soule. Living in a quiet town on Lake Michigan inspires mystery and intrigue in her writing.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
     I was on a flight back from California, I had my husband and two pre-schoolers with me, and I’d just finished reading a book that I liked but didn’t feel the author tied up all the loose ends. The book was a mystery with strong romantic elements. I told my husband, “I think I could write a book like that.” And he said, “Then do it.” So I gave it a try.
     At the time I wasn’t reading romances, but I soon discovered that’s what I liked writing. It took me 3 years and 8 months to learn the craft (many rejections along the way) before I received the call saying Harlequin wanted to buy my book.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
     Eat Crow and Die is the third book in my P.J. Benson Mystery series. I ended the second book in the series, with P.J. at home, fearing she’s pregnant and her boyfriend Wade on Wade’s boat for a final fishing trip with his six-year-old son (before Wade’s ex took the boy out of state). I start Eat Crow and Die with that boat exploding on Lake Michigan. Wade and his son survive, but Wade’s ex and her new husband don’t. Wade is now the prime suspect in their murders.
     It took me a long time to figure out how to plant a bomb on that boat without Wade knowing. I also had to research how Wade, being a sheriff’s deputy would be treated by the investigating sheriff’s deputies from another county, and how an underwater crime scene is handled. In the story I have a scene take place in a casino, so (of course) I had to visit a couple casinos to get the atmosphere right. And I had to come up with reasons why others might want a bomb to go off on that boat. I can’t tell you all of the research I did without giving away part of the plot.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
     A boat blew up not far from where we keep our boat in the summer. I have pictures from right after the explosion, and I visited the site the next day. Four people were on the boat when it exploded. Two were thrown in the water (a boy and a woman) and two were badly burned. One of those two died as a result of the accident. Although that boat was in a slip at the time and the explosion was due to improperly fueling the boat, it started me thinking about Wade and his boat, and what if it exploded? I really didn’t want his ex taking Wade’s son away from him. And that’s how the story started.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     The P.J. Benson Mysteries (The Crows, As the Crow Flies, and Eat Crow and Die) all take place in an area where I’ve lived for over forty years. South Haven, Michigan is a beautiful tourist location on the east side of Lake Michigan. Zenith (the village P.J. lives near) is fashioned after Climax, Michigan. It’s fun to use places I know in the story.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     In some ways P.J. thinks as I do, but both she and Wade are imaginary. They are bits of people I know or have met. The one thing about P.J. that’s very much me is she bought a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. When I started The Crows, I went out and bought a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. He grew up with the series. The sad part is my dog is now gone. Thank goodness P.J.’s dog is still alive and well.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
     My main block with Eat Crow and Die was coming up with a “How did they do it?” I couldn’t write the story until I knew. Otherwise, I rarely have writer’s block. If I find I can’t move forward with a story, it’s usually because I’m asking my characters to do something they wouldn’t do.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
     I’m very pleased how well Eat Crow and Die has been received. After As the Crow Flies was published, I had a lot of people wanting to know what happened next. Was P.J. pregnant? Did she get together with Wade? I was afraid they would be disappointed, but so far everyone’s been happy.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about boats, sheriffs, and mysteries?
     I learned it’s nice when people want a follow-up book, but it sure puts pressure on you. I learned there is a place in southwest Michigan that trains explosive sniffing dogs, that a lot of old people spend hours and hours at casinos, and that people (law enforcement and coast guard auxiliary) are more than willing to answer questions. As far as writing mysteries, I always try to have a twist at the end. That’s not always easy. And readers of mysteries always try to guess who the villain is, so when they say I surprised them, I’m really happy.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     Ha. My writing space is a corner of our bedroom. It works because we now live in a condominium and it has to work. The positive is I can look out the window next to me and watch boats going up and down the river. The negative is I can look out the window and watch boats and people instead of writing.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
     I like reading mystery/suspense. I like a fast read and one that has me guessing what’s going to happen next. On the other hand, my favorite books aren’t usually mysteries. The Secret Lives of Bees, Help, Room, To Kill a Mockingbird, and many more. I’m not sure why I like those books above others, but they are stories that I remember weeks, months, and years after I’ve read them. Most of the other books I read I forget in a week.

What are you working on now?
     I just signed a contract for another suspense story that will be published by Five Star/Cengage/Gale. It’s totally different from the P.J. Benson Mysteries. The working title is Echoes of Terror and it should be out sometime in 2016. Right now I’m working on a short story that will feature P.J. and Wade. I’ll probably self-publish it.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
     Well, I’ve written 25 romances and 5 mysteries so far. I like those two genres. I think I’ll stick with them.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     My dream job is being a writer. However, I also have a degree in art, and I love to paint, draw, and sculpt. So when I’m not writing, I’d be doing that.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     Nowadays my biggest problem is finding uninterrupted time to write.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
     Of my books? I think right now my favorite heroine is from A Killer Past. Mary Harrington is an amazing woman. Even at age 74 she’s beautiful and poised. And she’s deadly.

About Maris:  Maris Soule has had 4 mysteries and 25 category romances published. She’s a two time RITA finalist, as well as a winner and finalist in many other contests. Born and raised in California, Soule was working on a master’s degree in art history at U.C. Santa Barbara when she was swept off her feet by a red-head with blue eyes. The Soules now live in Michigan in the summer and Florida in the winter. She writes a weekly blog on writing ( and is on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. For more information, visit her at

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 | By: Cafe

Pet Peeves and Opportunities for Growth

I don’t want to suggest that I focus on the negative side of life. I truly appreciate all the simple beauty around me and the amazing people, plants, and animals on this planet. Life is always changing and presenting a huge range of opportunities to grow. That in itself is amazing.

But…there are a lot of things that drive me nuts. These crazy-making things cause stress. When I’m feeling peaceful inside these things are less disruptive. But only for a while. These things and many other small annoying things make me say, what the heck?!

Things that drive me nuts:

-Shoe commercials. I love shoes, but shoe commercials go overboard, depicting women who can’t have enough shoes. They go all googly eyed over shoes, smiling and dancing and prancing. Over shoes. People, we’re trying to be less shallow and materialistic. Stop trying to get us to fill our lives with shoes.

-Car commercials. I like my car. It was purchased new and it is sky blue. It has a very good rating for gas efficiency and low emissions. Those things matter to me. But car commercials that suggest the way to happiness, more sex, more luxurious living, more respect, more freedom…I could go on…drive me nuts.

-Music on hold. I call a company, I get the little speech about how important my call is to the company, BUT everyone is too busy to answer my call. Hence, I’m put on hold and all bets are off. I may be subjected to country music, elevator music, old pop tunes, or worse, advertisements. I appreciate the company’s effort to assure me my call has not been disconnected, but the on-hold music needs to be reevaluated. Since waiting on hold is in itself stressful, why not treat the person on hold to classical, soothing tunes, nature sounds, instrumental music, harp music? At least those kinds of on-hold sounds wouldn’t threaten us with an unrelenting ear worm from a catchy song.

-Drivers. I’m old enough to remember when drivers were courteous, at least sort of. Drivers didn’t race onto main roads from side streets, they stopped. Drivers left ample room between cars while driving. I imagine the laxness in following driving laws and just being discourteous to a dangerous degree has something to do with technology. We’ve all gotten so used to nanosecond responses from our various devices, such as our smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc., that even though there are no cars behind me as I drive down the main road, the person at the side road pulls in front of me, never considering that there isn’t room to accelerate and more importantly, there is NO CAR behind me. What wait? Five seconds? Inconceivable.

-Misnamed body parts. I think we can thank the Kardashians for the current misunderstanding about female body parts. Anyone who took health class, which we all were required to do when I was in school, knows a woman’s vagina is not visible just by looking up her skirt when she’s not wearing underwear. The vagina is inside a woman’s body. It drives me nuts when women don’t know their own body.

-Shoppers in a grocery store who are unknowingly discourteous to other shoppers because they feel they are the center of the universe and no one else exists. You know them; they stand in the middle of the isle, staring at the shelves, obstructing the lanes, completely unaware of others around them.

Okay, that’s enough about my pet peeves. While these things and others get under my skin, I realized a few months ago that having so many opinions about things – I don’t like country music, I don’t like people to act like bigots, I don’t like the use of incorrect grammar, etc. – was wearing. I made a list of all the things I could think of that I had strong feelings about. No holding back, just making a list. Then I let all that go. It felt like I could breathe easier. I didn’t have to make sure everyone and everything did what I thought was right. I still sputter when another car tailgates me or point out a spelling mistake on a sign. But some days I can just laugh at a sign using an apostrophe for a word that is simply a plural, or mute the shoe commercial.

Life is full of opportunities to grow.

Friday, August 14, 2015 | By: Cafe
In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.
- Mark Twain