Monday, September 30, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: The Awakening of Miss Henley

...a taste of romance

by Julia Justiss

Dragging his mind from its lecherous thoughts, Lord Theo turned his attention back to the lady—and frowned.

Miss Henley’s face, normally a long, pale, unremarkable blank, was flushed. Her jaw was set and those exceptional hazel eyes glittered with more than usual fire.

Even more unusually, he realised, she was completely alone. Though Miss Henley often scoffed at society, she usually followed its conventions, which forbade an unmarried lady of quality from going anywhere unaccompanied.

‘Something happened this morning, didn’t it?’

Though she shook her head in denial, her quick huff of frustration and a clenching of her teeth belied that response.

‘Come now, give, give! Your groom is nowhere in sight, which means you must have outridden him, and no one attends you—not even the very attentive Mr Null.’

Her flush heightened. ‘It wasn’t well done of me to have dubbed him that. And I should never have let you trick that name out of me!’

‘Ah, but the description is so apt, I would have tumbled to it myself, had you not beaten me to it.’

To his surprise, she lifted her chin and glared at him. ‘You shouldn’t mock him, just because he is not handsome and clever and irresistible to women, like you are,’ she cried, her tone as angry as her expression.

‘I don’t mean to mock,’ he protested, surprised by her vehemence. ‘But even you admit he has the personality of a rock.’

‘Even a dull, ordinary rock has feelings.’

‘I imagine it does—and has as much difficulty expressing them verbally as Mr Nu-Nullford. Why this sudden concern? I thought you’d been trying to avoid the man! Surely you haven’t suddenly conceived a tendre for him!’

‘No, of course not.’ The fire in her eyes died, leaving her expression bleak. Breaking their gaze, she turned her horse and set it to a walk—away from him.

‘You should know you can’t be rid of me that easily,’ Theo said, urging his mount to catch up with hers. ‘Come now, finish the conversation. If you haven’t inexplicably become enamoured of Mr Nullford, why this sudden concern for his feelings?’

As she remained silent, her face averted, an awful thought struck, sending a bolt of dismay to his belly.

‘Has your mama been after you again to marry? Surely you don’t intend to give in and encourage his suit!’ When she made no reply, he prodded again. ‘Do you?’

‘No, of course not,’ she snapped, looking goaded. ‘If you must know, he made me an offer this morning. I refused it.’

‘Ah,’ he said, inexplicably relieved. ‘That’s the reason for the ride. Avoiding what will doubtless be your mama’s attack of the vapours once she learns you’ve turned down another offer. How many will that make?’

‘Far fewer than the number of women you have seduced,’ she retorted.

He laughed. ‘Probably. Although, I should point out, I’ve never seduced a lady who didn’t wish to be seduced.’

‘Why do I let you trick out of me things I should never admit? And cajole me into me saying things I shouldn’t?’

‘Probably because you know I will never reveal the truths you—and I—see about society to anyone else.’

She sighed. As if that exhale of breath took with it the last of her inner turmoil, she turned back to him with a saucy look. ‘You deserve the things I say that I shouldn’t, you know. Like the very first time you deigned to speak with me.’

He groaned, recalling it. ‘Very well, I admit, you showed me up on that occasion—which was most unkind of you!’

‘You shouldn’t have pretended to remember me when clearly you didn’t.’

‘One could hardly admit to a lady that one doesn’t remember her. I was trying to play the Polite Society Gentleman.’

‘No, you were playing Ardent Gentleman Trying to Impress a Dazzling Beauty by Pretending to Know her Plain Friend,’ Miss Henley shot back.

‘Well, even so, it wasn’t nice of you to embarrass me in front of the dazzling Miss Lattimar.’

She chuckled—a warm, intimate sound that always invited him to share in her amusement, even when it was at his expense. ‘It did serve you right.’

‘Perhaps. But it was a most unhandsome response to my attempt to be chivalrous.’

‘If I am so troublesome, I wonder that you continue to seek me out and harass me. Why not just cut the connection?’

‘Don’t tempt me! But every time I contemplate giving you the cut direct you so richly deserve, I recall how singular you are—the only woman in society who doesn’t try to attract my attention. Who says the most outrageous things, one never knows about what or whom, except that the remarks will not adhere to society’s polite conventions—and will be absolute truth. A lady who, most inexplicably, appears impervious to my famous charm. I’m always compelled to approach you again and see if you’ve yet come to your senses.’

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by Julia Justiss
After five seasons…

She was still on the shelf!

Part of The Cinderella Spinsters. Miss Emma Henley knows she’s neither pretty nor rich enough to land a husband. Instead she’s thrown her passion into good causes. But this season she’s tempted by a flirtation with Lord Theo. The dashing rake is just as determined to stay unwed as she is. It’s scandalous…but if she’s never to marry, perhaps an affair with this unrepentant rogue is just what an independent lady needs!

(Releasing October 2019)

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Friday, September 27, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.
- Ray Bradbury
Thursday, September 26, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Writing Mysteries with Debbie De Louise

The Write Way Café welcomes Debbie De Louise, an award-winning author shares her love of mysteries and how she writes them.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book?
     Sea Scope was my 7th published book. I came up with the idea about three years ago while I was in between projects. I started the first 50,000 words during a NaNoWriMo and then completed the book a month or two later.

What was your path to getting Sea Scope written and published? What type of research did you do?
     Sea Scope took me longer than most of my other books to publish because it was one of my favorites to write, and I was hoping to land an agent for it. It went through several beta readers, and I also researched lighthouses by contacting Jeff Gales of the U.S. Lighthouse Society ( and Megan Stegmeir, Interpretive Park Ranger at Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina. I also used books and the Internet for additional information.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
     I thought of writing a mystery involving a murder by a lighthouse and then it developed from there.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     A fellow librarian who is a co-worker suggested I set my book in South Carolina after I told him what I was working on. Since I’d never been there, I created a fictional town loosely based on one that I researched.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     Not to get too personal, but I went through a tough time becoming pregnant with my daughter, and my main character, Sarah, also initially faces infertility in this book. In addition, the boy with whom she grew up and shared her first kiss and is reunited with as an adult was loosely based on my first boyfriend.

Did you face any blocks while writing Sea Scope, and if so, how did you handle them?
     I didn’t face any writer’s block. The story came to me quite easily. There were times I couldn’t write fast enough to get my thoughts down.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing Sea Scope and after?
     While writing Sea Scope, I experimented with many different elements. I switched back and forth in time, changed points-of-view of certain characters, and added true facts and illustrations about lighthouses. I found that I enjoyed writing characters both as adults and as children. Afterwards, I was surprised at having a front-page article published about me and the book in my local paper and about some of the Amazon reviews saying people stayed up all night to finish reading it.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about lighthouses, and reuniting with people from the past?
     I learned many interesting facts about lighthouses both modern and historical. I even created a lighthouse trivia quiz that I featured as a guest post on a blog and for a book talk.
     Regarding reuniting with people from the past, I learned that, as in Sea Scope, people change or maybe your perception of them changes with the years. I think people realize this when they attend school reunions.
     As for my writing process, I’ve learned that while I prefer writing mysteries, I like to vary the types of books I write. I still plan to continue my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series and maybe introduce another series of that type, but I also like to write standalone mysteries.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     Because I’m a Pantster, which means I write as a I go, editing can be a bit challenging, but my biggest challenges are finding the time to write and the time to promote my writing.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     I have a desk and a computer in my living room where I sit and write in the morning before work. I’ve become used to writing there.

What are some of your favorite books and why? 
     I wrote an article on my blog about my favorite books and the reason I enjoyed reading them. You can read the article here: It’s a little dated, so I’d also like to add a new title that I read more recently called The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. Like most of my favorite books, this one was a mystery with several twists. The main thing I enjoyed about it was that the reader was challenged to guess not only who-dun-it but who it was done to. I was able to figure out the murder victim about three-quarters of the way through the book, but I didn’t guess the killer until closer to the end. I also found the setting atmospheric. It takes place in a secluded estate in the Scottish Highlands during winter.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
     I’m not sure if you mean a character in a book or TV show, but I took this literally to mean anyone I admire. This may seem like an odd answer but for those who know how much I love cats, it might not. My favorite pet hero was Scarlett who saved her kittens from a fire in 1995. As for my favorite people who are heroes/heroines, there are a  lot of unsung ones – those who helped in 911;everyday people who come to the aid of those in accidents; paramedics and hospital workers who save lives, etc.

What are you working on now?
     I just finished another standalone mystery. I don’t want to reveal the plot just yet. I’m letting it sit right now as I work on other projects. I do that intentionally, so I can look at it with fresh eyes when I pick it up again. While I let the novel sit, I’m writing a short Christmas mystery with the characters from my cozy mystery series.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
     I’ve written other genres. I’ve written a paranormal romance and some short romance stories as well as a romantic comedy novella. I’ve also written horror and science fiction, but I prefer mysteries and their subgenres: cozies, thrillers, romantic suspense.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I have it. I’m a librarian.

by Debbie De Louise
Sarah Collins needs an escape. Mourning her brother’s death and the impending breakup of her marriage, she returns to her childhood home in South Carolina, where her family operated an inn.

Sarah hasn’t been back to Sea Scope for twenty years; not since she and her brother Glen discovered a body by the nearby lighthouse. She never understood why her parents left Sea Scope so suddenly, or the reasons behind her father's suicide.

After Sarah returns to the inn, she faces long-buried memories, text messages and strange clues. Something is not right in Sea Scope. Reunited with people from her past, she tries to figure out what's going on in her childhood home.

When past and present collide, Sarah must face truths about her family, and what happened that summer day by the lighthouse. But will she survive to tell the tale?

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Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her novels include the four books of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Written in Stone, and Love on the Rocks. Debbie has also written a romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace, a paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, and the standalone mystery, Reason to Die. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Anthony; daughter, Holly; and three cats, Stripey, Harry, and Hermione.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: The Christmas Kiss


Augustina Van Hoven
What if the love of your life lives in another time?

Annabelle O’Sullivan works as a governess for a wealthy family in 1925.  A sledding accident sends her ninety-four years into the future.  In this frightening time, she must depend on help from a stranger and his daughter.  She realizes that the longer she stays with them the more they are forming a family.  Soon she will not be able to leave them even if she finds a way to go home.

Since the death of his wife, Daniel Wagner has shut down his heart to everyone except his daughter, Olivia.  While other women have tried to catch his attention. It wasn’t until he met the strange woman from the past, that his heart started beating again.  Anna is the answer to questions he didn’t think he’d ever ask.

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Augustina Van Hoven was born in The Netherlands and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two dogs and three cats. She is an avid reader of romance, science fiction and fantasy. When she’s not writing she likes to work in her garden or in the winter months crochet and knit on her knitting machines.

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Monday, September 23, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsel: The Portrait

...a taste of romance

by Augustina Van Hoven

     Catherine tried to quell her nerves as she pulled into the parking lot of Hamilton House. She had avoided it for every one of the eighteen years since she had fainted in the ballroom. Now that she was older, she didn’t want to see the ghost her grandmother had told her about. But she had to be here; she didn’t have a choice. The mayor wanted to hold her fundraiser here, and Catherine, as event planner, was in charge. She was surprised at how small the house appeared.
     I guess everything looks bigger when you’re ten years old. 
     She grabbed a small bag before getting out of the car. It contained her tablet, her sketchbook, and a measuring tape. She took a deep breath and headed for the front door. A few steps into the house, she was met by Carolyn Shelby, the current caretaker.
     “Good morning, Mrs. Shelby. I’m sure the mayor told you that I was coming over to take some measurements for the charity fundraiser.” She had to look down at the older woman. Mrs. Shelby was barely taller than five feet. “I need to know the exact width and length of the room. I also need to know the size of the lawn and garden area. I know that, historically, the musicians would remain in the ballroom, but I was thinking of having them outside somewhere on the lawn. Given the size of this room and the night temperatures lately, I think a lot of people will be more comfortable outside where there is a possibility of a breeze. This room looks like it could get quite warm with a lot of people dancing in it.” She pulled on the tab to her measuring tape.
     “When Mrs. Hamilton had a larger orchestra for an event, she would put them in a specially designed place in the yard. When you finish measuring in here, I’ll show it to you. It’s basically a niche of grass tucked in among the border trees and bushes. It’s quite clever, really. It keeps the orchestra in plain sight but out of the way of the dancers.” Mrs. Shelby seemed to become friendlier as she talked about the house. She reached out her hand to help with the measuring tape, but Catherine stood staring out the window.
     “Let’s take a look outside before we measure the ballroom. I’d like to see the orchestra niche to make sure it will work, or I’ll have to rethink my plans for the party.”
     “Certainly.” Mrs. Shelby led the way across the room and opened the French doors on the other side.
      Catherine stepped onto the lawn, appreciating the cool air after the heat of the ballroom. Yes, being outside would be much better than staying in. Mrs. Shelby led the way to the orchestra spot. Someone had done an excellent job planning the area. The orchestra area was shaded by three large maple trees, and the musicians could sit with their backs to the setting sun. She pulled out her measuring tape. Mrs. Shelby held out her hand; Catherine gave her the pull tab of the tape and they proceeded to measure the area.
     When they finished, Catherine noted the footage on her tablet. “Can we exmine that clump of bushes with the iron fence? It sort of sticks out like a sore thumb on this manicured lawn.”
     “Yes, it is an odd thing. When David Hamilton donated the house to the community, he did so with the explicit instructions that the iron fence and the bushes it surrounds never be removed. If that happened, it would nullify the donation and the house would revert to the oldest of his direct decedents.”
     Catherine raised an eyebrow. “What? That sounds ridiculous. What’s inside there anyway? Is it hiding a grave or something?”
     “No one knows. In the past a few of the gardeners have opened the gate and wandered inside, but apparently it is just a small open area inside the tall bushes. Everyone who did go inside said it felt odd in there, and no one ever went in twice.”
     “Well, let’s make sure no guests try to slip in there during the party. Maybe I can decorate the iron with something or wire the gate shut.” She made some notes on her tablet. “I’d better get the measurement of the ballroom now.
     Inside once again, Catherine noted the footage on her tablet.
     It was a good thing there was a garden outside with a good lawn that could be used because this room was too small for the event. They repeated the process for the length of the ballroom. Catherine couldn’t help but glance up at the portraits.
     “Do you know when those were painted?” She pointed to the wall.
     Mrs. Shelby beamed. “Yes, all the portraits of the family were done in 1880 with the exception of David’s wife. That one was painted in 1882.”
     “You know, I couldn’t find much about her at the library. She seemed to appear out of nowhere. I thought it was a big thing back then to have a listing of which prominent family a person’s spouse came from.” Catherine wound the measuring tape back into its case.
     “Yes, it was. All the prominent families married within their own class. It was sort of like the English gentry; titled people usually married other titled people and proudly displayed their family trees. You’d think there would be a listing for the family of Catherine Hamilton considering she married the only son and heir of Jacob Hamilton.”
     She walked toward the portraits and pointed to Eloise Hamilton. “You can find a lot about her in the history books. Her family was quite prominent in the Boston area, and I believe she was distantly related to one of the US presidents. Her two daughters married well, and there’s plenty of information about the families they married into.”
     She walked over to the next portrait of the handsome young man. “This is David Hamilton, and he was considered quite a catch in his day.”
     Catherine felt like she’d missed a step on the stairs.
     Mrs. Shelby walked toward the alcove and adjusted the drapes. She gasped.
     Catherine’s heart beat faster when she saw the look of shock on the woman’s face. She took a reluctant step forward and gazed at the portrait. She now saw what she hadn’t seen as a child. There on the wall was her own face staring back at her.

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They had only the ghost of a chance…

The first time Catherine went to the historic Hamilton House, she was looking for whatever haunted it. But what she found was even scarier: a portrait of a woman who looked exactly like her. But Catherine was not going to let a look-alike from another century—or a broken heart in the twenty-first--stop her. She would still put on the fund-raiser of the mayor's dreams so she could realize her goal: a bed-and-breakfast of her own.

David gave it all he had, but couldn't escape what felt like a life-sentence in his family's 19th-century prison. He wanted to go West, build his own business, and find his own wife. But his parents stymied him at every turn, choosing both the woman he would marry and the career he would follow. It wasn't until Catherine popped into his life—and into his arms—that he found hope again.

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Friday, September 20, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Plot is people. Human emotions and desires founded on the realities of life, working at cross purposes, getting hotter and fiercer as they strike against each other until finally there’s an explosion—that’s Plot.
- Leigh Brackett
Thursday, September 19, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

The Story Behind You Say Goodbye

The Write Way Café welcomes award-winning author Keith Steinbaum, who talks about his stories and his writing process.

Tell us a little about You Say Goodbye.
The premise of the story is this: The murder of an ex-rock star’s girlfriend leads a detective to conclude that the perpetrator is not only a renowned serial killer, but probably somebody the singer knows.

I refer to my novel as a Beatles themed whodunit murder mystery. For those Beatles fans that read this, they will recognize the title as a line from, Hello Goodbye. But something that any potential reader should know is that the book isn’t one that only focuses on the basic murderer vs. detective storyline that features multiple deaths in the search for the killer. I mention this because it was as important for me to develop engaging character relationships as it was to tease the reader about who committed the crime, especially the rapport that’s cultivated between a bitter ex-rock star and a little neighbor girl fighting cancer. And, by the way, that relationship is a main ingredient through the climax so both aspects work hand in hand up to the final page.

If You Say Goodbye was made into a movie, who would play your main characters and why?
Sean Hightower is the protagonist, a fifty-year old ex-rock star who’s now a bitter guy who feels his best days are behind him. Although my character is described as a man whose blond hair is now graying, an actor who isn’t blond, Paul Rudd, the Ant Man, has the face and mannerism to be a perfect fit. He’s still youthful enough to convince an audience that he’s a rock ‘n roller at heart, yet someone who could reflect an arc of maturity very well. I can’t answer for a child actor to play the little girl, but the grizzled Latino detective, Ray Maldonado, could be played quite believably by Raymond Cruz from Breaking Bad fame.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

The answer to this one is reflected in my answer to question # 1. For people who like to channel their inner sleuth and read a fun whodunit murder mystery, I believe I’ve delivered that for you. And, for those readers who want to be given the chance to fully engage in the characters and involve  themselves in interacting relationships that are integral to the storyline, then my book gives you that as well. Let’s just say that You Say Goodbye is a Whodunit with a Heart.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of the book?
I’ve described the origin of my story in detail with a previous Write Way Café interview, so I’ll break it down briefly here. The little neighbor girl with cancer was patterned after a true story I came across in the obituary section of the Los Angeles Times about Alexandra Scott from the Alex’s Lemonade Foundation – a charity to raise money for childhood cancer. She started selling lemonade at the age of four after being diagnosed with cancer, and by the time she died at the age of eight, Alex’s Lemonade stands were in all 50 states, in much of Canada, and parts of Europe. The story both fascinated and moved me to a point where I cut out her photo and taped it to my office wall. After a number of months, I started developing a character to play off of someone like her who was so young and fighting for her life. And that’s how my protagonist, Sean Hightower, was born – a selfish, grumpy fifty-year old who feels that his best days are behind him and that life is a bitch (something he utters often). Eventually, after a couple of short story versions focusing on these two characters, I decided to write a murder mystery with these two highly dissimilar people playing prominent roles.

Who is your favorite character from You Say Goodbye and why?
This is an easy one for me – it’s Kayleigh Michaels, the little girl with cancer. As you can see from my previous answer it’s because of Alexandra Scott that this story ever came to fruition, so how could Kayleigh not be my favorite character? When I occasionally glance at my story and read some of the passages, it’s the Kayleigh scenes that either make me smile or make me get teary-eyed. For people reading this, thinking that I’m somehow exaggerating the effect that a character of my own creation can move me emotionally like this, authors will understand. Characters are born from the heart and in looking back at the words I wrote and the people I created, it can seem as if someone else wrote the story. What I learned from many years of writing poetry and song lyrics, that a right brain/left brain disconnect is part of the creative process also applies to novel writing; but magnified by a much greater amount because there’s so much more writing involved.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I’m going to refrain from answering this one because if I offered a name it would be logical for the reader of this interview to feel that I wouldn’t name the killer as the answer to my least favorite character because that would be too obvious and thus that person would be eliminated as a suspect. And they’d be right!

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
James Avery is my website designer and at first there weren’t plans for him to be involved in the cover. But when I showed him an original concept he felt he could improve upon it. While writing the story, I visualized sheet music as the primary background with a portion of a gun showing. The irony here is that I believe the use of guns in promotional visuals, especially movie posters and billboards, have reached the level of cliché because they’re shamelessly overused. So look at what I did? That said, I felt it was imperative to tell much of the story through the cover – and this includes the gun, handcuffs, and the small portion of the Jack of Hearts playing card that’s peeking through from underneath the sheet music. For those who have read the story, they’ll know exactly how each item applies, but for those who haven’t, I’m offering a tease that I hope intrigues. The stark black and red coloring is consistent with the theme of the story and that was important to me. Going back to the gun, the last thing to mention is that the murderer uses a Glock 19 handgun and coincidentally James has a friend that has one so he ‘borrowed’ his friend’s Glock for the photo.

Tell us about some of the reviews for You Say Goodbye.
Receiving good reviews from friends or family is nice, but let’s get real – the ones that truly mean something are from those who have complete objectivity such as bloggers or book site reviews. I’ll mention three here that I find so validating and gratifying of my effort., Reader’s Favorite, and the Book Excellence Awards. has been in existence for ten years and claims to have over a million members. I received a top four out of four star rating from their reviewer. The last I checked I’ve had over 1,900 clicks on the review and 135 members have the book on their ‘to be read’ shelves so that’s very encouraging. Reader’s Favorite is another solid, reputable book site that’s been around for a number of years, and their reviewer gave You Say Goodbye a top five out of five star rating. I also recently received notification that the book received an Honorable Mention placing in the Readers’ Favorite international writing competition for the Fiction-Mystery-Sleuth category. This means that I finished in the Top 8 voting out of hundreds of entries so I was thrilled with this news as you can imagine. Through them I’ve gotten the book promoted through a large number of media outlets so we’ll see what happens with that. The Book Excellence Awards is another international competition so they consequently also receive many hundreds of entries for each genre from various countries. I placed as a Finalist in the mystery category which is a great feeling of accomplishment.

Inspired by Alexandra Scott’s story, you were able to make a unique connection with her mother. Please tell us about that connection, and what it meant to you.
I’ll never tire of telling this story and despite the need for proper brevity forgive me if this answer requires a lengthier reply than the others. At the end of each year I donate to certain charities and it struck me as ironic that when I did this again near the end of 2018 I realized I’d never given money to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. After doing this online, I noticed on the home page that anyone could send a message to the founder of the charity, Liz Scott – Alexandra’s mother. Her website address was listed and as I stared at it I faced a ‘do I or don’t I’ dilemma. On the one hand, it was because of her daughter’s inspiring yet tragic story from the obituary section that the origins of You Say Goodbye eventually formulated and became a reality. On the other hand, however, this is a mother who lost her child to cancer and all I did was write a fictional novel so was this something even worth contacting her about? I decided that, yes, because Alexandra’s true story became such an integral part of my fictional story it was something I wanted her to know. I wrote a message of a few sentences explaining who I was and the effect her daughter had on this author from the other side of the country. Within a few weeks I received an enthusiastic reply saying how wonderful it was to know how Alexandra affected me as it did and that she’d like to read the book. She also suggested the next time she’s in Los Angeles that perhaps we could meet.
Los Angeles Loves Alex's Lemonade, 9/14/19 at UCLA
Keith Steinbaum with Liz Scott at UCLA
on 9/14/19, attending Los Angeles Loves
Alex's Lemonade charity event.

From those two initial communiqués, Liz and I have emailed each other a few other times and, yes, I of course sent her my book – signed and with a message telling her that I hoped my character, Kayleigh, patterned after Alexandra, did justice to the spirit of her daughter. I wish I could tell you that she read the book and sent me a glowing review but at this moment, I haven’t yet received a response about that. However, the final interesting part of all of this is that 5 days previous to this September 19th interview, on Saturday, September 14th, a large charity event for Alexandra’s Lemonade Foundation, called ‘Los Angeles Loves Alexandra’s Lemonade,’ will have been held at U.C.L.A., and by the time you’re reading this, I will have finally met Liz.

Fifteen years ago, in the summer of 2004, I read about Alex in the obituary section, leading to the birth of You Say Goodbye, and now I’ll meet and have a photo taken with her mother, Liz Scott. It’s going to be as surreal a feeling as I’ve ever had and I’ll cherish that photo for as long as I live.

For anyone interested in the Alex's Lemonade Foundation, be it learning about its origins, donating, or even becoming actively involved, this website has it all:

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
An underrated area of importance is writing a review to online sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble among others. I don’t know about the other two sites, but Amazon, with their weird metrics, does depend on review counts for book exposure (or so I’ve been told). It only needs to be a few sentences but if someone develops a curiosity about the book, it would be an expected step to go to one of these sites to read reviews from others before making that financial decision to purchase it. If someone has read my book and enjoyed it, word of mouth is another way, of course. For anyone who lives in Los Angeles that belongs to a book club, if you’d be interested in having this author speak to the group about my book, you can contact me at And, finally, at the end of the year during the Holiday season, if you’re looking for a gift to give to somebody…

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
Dave Letterman used to have a Top 10 list. Here’s Keith Steinbaum’s Top 5 list (not necessarily in this order and no doubt there’s more I could add):

1. Research which companies publish your specific genre because they’re your target audience and you want to go straight to the source.

2. Google ‘Proper query letters for aspiring authors.’ You’ll get many links about this but just focus on the few that give you examples of what makes good ones and use that as a guideline for yours. Publishers get inundated with so many that you want one that shows you’re worth the next step.

3. Expect rejection after rejection, and often times no reply at all. This is why the more query letters you can send the better for you. In a creative writing class I took long ago, our teacher told us that there’s a ‘yes’ just waiting for you. It’s an important bit of optimism you’ll need through those trying times. But that teacher also opened up the class by saying if we were there with the goal of making money on a book, that was naïve. But if we were there because we had a story to tell, then we were in the right place.

4. Relative to # 4, we writers are a sensitive, often times insecure bunch, but you better develop as thick a skin as possible because prospective publishers don’t care about that. They just want a book that has marketability and fits in with their catalogue. You are just one of thousands (hundreds of thousands) of authors seeking the same thing from them – a contract offer.

5. If you finally get to a point where you feel that you’ve exhausted your list of possible publishers, and your patience has run out on your understandable desire to finally see that hard earned work of yours in print, the other alternative is, of course, self-publishing. However, because there are so many thousands (millions) of writers that choose this route, many ‘all show no go’ indie publishing companies have sprouted like so many weeds in the landscape and it’s easy to be taken advantage of with unfulfilled promises as you dole out a lot of money. I recommend going on Google for this as well and research which indie companies have the best track records of sales from their libraries. Those are the ones to focus on.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m quite fortunate that Black Opal Books, my publisher for You Say Goodbye, was also open to reading my previously self-published book, The Poe Consequence, as a possible acquisition for their company (as long as I owned 100% of the rights, which I did). And, as it turned out, after the Acquisitions Editor read it, I was offered a contract. The book was originally scheduled for release last month but I asked to have the release date moved back to March of 2020 in order to give me a full year to focus solely on the promotion of You Say Goodbye. But I’m looking forward to improving the book through the billionth editing where I’ll still find ways to tweak, delete, and add for the betterment of the story.

The Poe Consequence is a supernatural thriller with the following premise: After the death of an innocent bystander in a drive-by shooting, the two rival gangs responsible for his murder face an Edgar Allan Poe inspired vow of revenge from beyond the grave.

The release of The Poe Consequence will buy me some time to find the next source of inspiration to drive me back to the keyboard. I have a shadow of an idea that involves some kind of sports analogy with social injustice. If one day this actually comes to fruition, and the book is worthy of even being thought about, remember, you read it here first.


After a temperamental meltdown on stage, Sean Hightower, a regretful and resentful “one-hit wonder” rock musician hoping for a comeback, returns to his girlfriend’s condo seeking comfort from the woman he loves. But after letting himself in, he discovers her naked body on the bed, murdered from a bullet to the head. When the police detective arrives and sees the two taped pieces of paper on the wall with the word, “hello,” on one and “goodbye,” on the other, he realizes that the renowned serial killer, The Beatles Song Murderer, has struck again. In the days that follow, he reaches another conclusion—the Beatles Song Murderer is probably somebody Sean knows. Now the detective needs Sean’s help to find the killer.

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About Keith:
     After graduating college from UCSB, I set my sights on becoming a professional song lyricist after many years of writing poetry. Had I known through the haze of my naiveté and post college optimism what a difficult task this was to accomplish as a career goal, I would have focused on my other alternative of disc jockeying somewhere. I spent a couple years doing middle of the night work at the college station playing rock ‘n roll for those few listeners either partying or working night shifts, and I had about a hundred resume cassette tapes ready to send. I’ve occasionally wondered where this would have led me had I decided on this course for my career, but as it turns out, although I did have song on a popular album in America, and other songs recorded in a number of foreign markets, I wasn’t able to make a living as a lyricist and moved on into the field of landscape. But my creative writing flame continued to burn. Understanding that idea took time to realize through initial bouts of unhappiness lasting several years. But once I started focusing on poetry again, that’s where I rediscovered the untethered freedom and joy of writing without monetary goals.
     Fast forward to an eventual desire to write a novel, culminating in the completion of The Poe Consequence. As a buildup to the idea for the book, my landscape job entailed years of working in many low-income housing projects throughout Southern California, and, consequently, many neighborhoods with gang problems. This experience played a major role in formulating the concept for my story. Originally self-published, this past June I signed a contract with Black Opal Books for it’s re-release next summer. In the future  I’d like the opportunity to delve further into all the ingredients that factored into the creation of the book but I’m certainly gratified for receiving valued blogger reviews on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads, as well as other accolades.
     Winner of’s Book of the Year in the Supernatural Thriller genre, the novel also made the 2015 Kirkus Reviews Books of the Year issue. And in 2017, it received a Finalist placing in the international Book Excellence Awards competition.
     My second novel entitled, You Say Goodbye, a Beatles themed whodunit murder mystery revolving around the search for a renowned serial killer, is my first with Black Opal Books. The story prominently features a one-hit wonder ex-rock star and a little girl with cancer who's a big fan of the L.A. Lakers. The child's character was inspired by the life, and unfortunate death, of Alexandra Scott from the Alex's Lemonade foundation.

I can be found online at:
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Here are my personal website links: and

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Wayward Shot


by Joan Havelange
When Mabel slices her golf ball into the town cemetery. She and her best friend Violet think the worst that could happen would be a lost ball. That is until they discover a dead body, and it isn't six feet under. Mabel's golf ball lays in the middle of his forehead, it’s murder.

The ladies take it upon themselves to solve the mystery of the dead body in the graveyard. Using the information gleaned from Coffee Row, a collection of eccentric townspeople. Leads them to investigate golfers and relatives of the deceased. Their investigation frustrates a newly appointed RCMP officer, who does his best to put a stop to their interference.

But nothing stops the intrepid detectives. Not the RCMP, a stampede of cattle or even shots fired at them in the dark. They have an uncanny ability to find trouble and dead bodies. Almost getting themselves killed before solving the murders.

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Indigo Books     Angus & Robertson     Mondadoristore

Joan Havelange has been writing fiction since her early twenties, beginning with romance stories. Always a fan of mysteries, she is an avid reader and writer of cozy mysteries.

She is an accomplished actor and director of community theatre, which lends well to her writing. Joan is a world traveler and enthusiastic golfer. She lives on the prairies and has three grown children.

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Monday, September 16, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: The Bloodline Trail

...a taste of romance

by Lynda Rees


Jaiden helped Mr. Bennett chase his escaping herd of cattle through the broken fence line. “Thank goodness you brought a couple buckets of grain to entice these stubborn cows to safety.” She’d blocked the road with her cruiser at one end and placed orange cones at the other to keep traffic out of danger and ensure strays didn’t accidentally get hit.

“This ain’t my first rodeo.” The old farmer grinned pushing one errant beast toward safety.

Once the country road was free from danger, she helped guard his animals so they wouldn’t run loose again while Mr. Bennett repaired busted fence. Finally finished, he shook her hand and wiped his brow. “Whew, thanks for your help, Deputy Coldwater.”

“It’s part of the job, but you’re welcome.” Jaiden loved working as deputy to Sheriff Wyatt Gordon of Sweetwater.

She made good time driving back to town. Dusk was starting. She neared the deserted Barnes farm at the edge of town. A light flashed from a window.

Damn, those kids must be partying again.

She’d arrested one juvenile last week—the one she caught. His buddies ran faster and escaped. Jaiden dragged the boy home. His dad was pissed at his son and assigned punishment. He had to clean police station bathrooms for a week.

It tickled her seeing his dad come down on him that way. It’d serve him better than any other punishment. He wasn’t a bad kid. He arrived like clockwork after school each afternoon with sagging shoulders and head hung low.

He was making friends with other deputies. Finally he had guts to look into Jaiden’s eyes. She smiled and winked. He blushed and grinned.

She hit a button to call her office. “Sheriff Gordon here. What’s up, Jaiden?” His southern twang could charm honey out of a bear’s paws.

“Wyatt, it looks like vandals sneaked into the Barnes place again. I’m going to check it out.”

“Okay, but be careful. Keep your body camera on and radio handy. Buzz me if you need backup. I can be there in five.”

“It’s probably just kids again. They’ll run, and I’ll be home in half an hour. I’ll let you know how it goes.”

“You do that, Deputy Coldwater.” Wyatt had confidence in her ability to handle a few youngsters looking for a good time; but if he thought real danger was present, he’d come running. He was a good friend and a great boss.

Jaiden drove into a dirt drive and circled behind a house. Surprisingly a vehicle parked there. Local kids typically walked, not wanting to draw attention. They usually carried a beer cooler but were too young to legally partake. They generally partied in the back woods, but once last winter they broke into the house. It looked like they were at it again.

A close look at the vehicle indicated differently. The fancy SUV probably cost around what she made in a year. This didn’t appear to be kids.

She stepped from her cruiser wearing a body camera. Warily she approached the car shining her flashlight. Tinted windows made it difficult. Close up it was apparent no one was inside or nearby. It was locked. She paced to the house and tried the back door. It opened.

Using a firm authoritative voice she called, “Police, anyone here?” Dead silence. She called out again—same response. “I’m coming in.” Holding the door wide, she entered.

The old farmhouse kitchen had seen better days. Two years of no habitation left every surface covered with dust and cobwebs.

Making her way into the sparsely furnished dining room with no sign of life, only footprints in dust proving someone recently walked through. The living room was much the same. Furniture had been covered with sheets, and still, no one in the house.

A first-floor bedroom was also filled with sheet-covered items. Its filthy floor held an expensive, pull-behind suitcase. A tag read C. Barnes.

Huh, apparently a Barnes heir had arrived.

Jaiden made her way back through the maze of rooms. She yanked the door shut behind her. No sign of C. Barnes or anyone else. Returning to her cruiser, she activated her radio.


“Yep, I’m here, Jaiden. How are things at the Barnes place?”

“Quiet. A fancy SUV is parked in back of the unlocked house. I found footprints and a suitcase in a bedroom with a tag for C. Barnes, whoever that is.”

“C? I suppose that’s Clay, for Clay Barnes. He must’ve returned home. Wonder if he’s in town to stay or merely settling his mama’s estate? It’s been a couple years since her funeral. Too bad he let the place deteriorate during that time.”

“Yep; the kids around here haven’t helped it any.” She climbed into the cruiser. “I didn’t find Mr. Barnes or anyone else around. Maybe he’s exploring his property. Want me to search for him?”

“No, no need. If there’s trouble, he’ll let us know. Go home and enjoy what’s left of your evening. You’re off duty now, right?”

“Sure thing, boss; see you tomorrow.” Before she finished writing notes on her stop, a tall, lanky gentleman in too-new jeans, shiny boots and a crisp, white dress shirt with sleeves rolled to elbows, strolled from the woods. His smile lit his face engaging pale blue eyes like none she’d seen before, unless photos of that sexy, old actor, Paul Newman counted.

He strode purposely toward her closed door with an arm extended—not bad looking, but not a muscular. She’d always been attracted to the brawny sort. Built more like Levi—his gangling body towered above her. She shined her flashlight his way.

Pearly-blue eyes sparkled. A perfect set of shiny, white teeth flashed a welcoming smile. His hand flipped up reflecting light.

She flicked her light off. Through approaching dusk moonlight caught moisture as he self-consciously licked what appeared soft, sensual lips.

“Howdy, Ma’am. Are you the Welcome Wagon?”

“Afraid not, I’m Deputy Coldwater.  I saw a light and figured you for a trespasser.”


Dear Reader:
If you enjoyed this excerpt, get the complete story at:
Please stay in touch. I’d love to hear your feedback in a review.

by Lynda Rees
Deputy Jaiden Coldwater’s fling with Dr. Clay Barnes turns serious, but neither acknowledges it. Visiting Sweetwater to settle his parents’ estate, Clay stumbles on a murder victim; and many look suspicious. His parents aren’t who he thought and never owned their farm. Clay tries to unravel the mystery, discover who he actually is, and what he wants from life, but may lose it all in a shootout when the murderer goes after the next victim.


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Friday, September 13, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.
- Leslie Gordon Barnard
Thursday, September 12, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Using Setting to Maximum Effect

The Write Way Café welcomes author Bo Kearns, who shares his thoughts on where to begin a novel, and using setting to maximum effect. 

Graham Greene is one of my favorite novelists. In most of his books, he places an expat in an exotic locale and weaves a story of intrigue around their attempts to adapt to a different culture. Some of his classics include: The Quiet American set in Vietnam, The Comedians in Haiti, The Power and the Fury in Mexico and Our Man in Havana.  He’s a master at capturing setting and the local culture. In his novels, setting is a character. 

Prior to becoming a writer, I was an international banker. I lived in countries meant to be the backdrop for a Graham Greene story. One of those countries was Indonesia with its culture of mysticism, magic and superstition, is Indonesia. And that is the setting of my novel Ashes in a Coconut

The story is set in 1983’s Jakarta, a glamorous and perilous place of corruption, mysterious curses, seductive servants, ravaged rainforests, ancient Buddhist temples, and orphaned orangutans. In the story, Manhattan fashion designer Laura Harrison sets aside her career to accompany her banker husband Jack to Indonesia. 

I struggled with where to begin the story—Manhattan or Indonesia. In my early drafts, I assumed the reader would want to know everything about the characters. Manhattan provided that introduction, but not much of a hook. So I decided to begin the story in Bali, Indonesia to bring the reader closer to the action. This also served to ground the reader in the story locale. Backstory would be introduced when the reader needed to know something about the characters pertinent to that scene, and parceled out so as not to slow the pace.   

Here’s Ashes opening line—Laura Harrison stood outside the Denpasar International Airport and fingered the beads on her necklace. Though seemingly inconsequential, that simple act introduces the protagonist, her distraction, and provides a hint of foreboding. In the heat and humidity her damp silk blouse clung to her body. In the line that follows, Laura and the reader are introduced to the tropics and its discomfort. Weather as setting can be used to establish a mood, and act as story unifier. Weather affects all characters. 

In the process of writing the book, I attended several writers’ conferences. At one I participated in a first page manuscript critique. A question asked was, “Why is she there?” That prompted me to add the sentence, The island paradise was only a stopover en route to Jakarta. There she would be beginning a new life in a place she’d never been, leaving everything behind to save her marriage. The reader knows the protagonist goal, what’s at stake and can track whether she accomplishes what she’s set out to do in the face of the inevitable obstacles along the way.  

The couple arrives at the Seminyak Kebun Resort in Bali and are welcomed by a vast manicured lawn and swaying palms. “How beautiful!” Laura said. Her spirits rose. “The perfect place for a second honeymoon.” This setting changes her mood. At the registration desk, Laura sees blossoms in a small woven palm-leaf tray and picks one up to inhale the fragrance. “It’s an offering to keep away evil spirits,” the clerk said. “Oh,” Laura replied. She set the flower down and moved away. And here setting introduces Laura to the country’s culture of superstition.   

Laura and Jack follow a bellboy to a thatched-roof bungalow fronting onto a tranquil beach. Laura walks around admiring, touching. Outside in the lush walled garden, Laura notices movement off to the side. A hammock swung though the air was perfectly still. Hugging her arms across her chest, she rushed inside. Laura is superstitious by nature. In her new environment her superstitions and premonitions rise to the surface. 

From Bali, Laura and Jack move on to Jakarta. Laura expects their new home to be like something out of a classic Bogart movie—a romantic tropical hideaway where she and Jack can be happy. Instead… Laura steps into a dark room and the smell of mildew. Green velvet drapes with yellow fringe cover the windows, an oil painting of a dour knight in armor on a white stallion gazes down from the wall. The furnishings are covered in white sheets, resembling a gathering of ghosts. By using vivid, detailed description, the reader is pulled into the scene. It feels real. The prospect of residing in a spooky house becomes one of Laura’s first obstacles. And that’s amplified when she senses someone died there. 

As Jack leaves for his first day as president of a bank, Laura waves good-bye. The servant girl appears and locks the gate, a symbol of Laura’s isolation. Reality sets in. She’s in a third world country where she’s not allowed to work, can’t speak the language and doesn’t know anyone. 

At the bank Jack confronts his own set of issues. On his first day, he learns that a borrower defaulted on a million dollar loan and the case is being tried in the court. The judge wants $30,000, a bribe, to give the bank a favorable ruling. Jack, ambitious yet naïve, finds himself confronted by corruption. That setting and the decisions he makes in confronting graft and corruption will define his character. 

Laura struggles to find something meaningful to do. She recalls the menagerie of pets she had growing up in Connecticut. She goes to the Jakarta bird market hoping to find a small bird to perch on her finger and keep her company. Instead she encounters a sordid scene. There are birds and many other caged creatures—bats, small jungle cats, pangolins and snakes. She walks around and then can’t take it anymore. On leaving, a man taps on the car window. He whispers, “Baby monkey. Come see.” Curious, Laura follows him to his stall. She’s appalled to see a baby orangutan chained to a crate. It’s for sale. Laura drops to her knees. The baby twirls Laura’s red locks in its fingers. “He thinks I’m his mother,” she says. Appalled, she flees the scene, the baby’s cries resounding in her ears. In that scene setting, Laura finds her passion—saving endangered primates and their rainforest habitat. And this advances the story. In addition, the story’s underlying theme of conservation is introduced. There have been many non-fiction books written about conservation and the environment. In Ashes I hope readers might be subtly drawn to those issues through an intriguing story with relatable, sympathetic characters. 

As shown, setting can be more than just a descriptor. Used effectively, setting can advance the story, it can be the story, it can drive the action, define and change characters, convey mood and tone, and subtly echo a theme. 

by Bo KearnsTo save her marriage, Laura Harrison accompanies her husband Jack to Indonesia where he is to take over as president of troubled bank; but when her premonitions become reality, events spin out of control.

Laura expects their new home in Jakarta to be a romantic hideaway like something out of a classic Bogart movie. Instead she walks into a house of horrors. White sheets cover Gothic furnishings, and black garments hang in the closets. It’s as if the former occupants had fled from some danger. Despite feelings of doom, Laura is determined to make things work. At the local market she’s appalled to see a baby orangutan for sale, its mother having been killer by loggers. She resolves to save the endangered primates and their rainforest habitat. As Laura attempts to grow closer to her husband, they become at odds over his shady business dealings. And when his secrets and life of lies are revealed, Laura finds herself alone and responsible for her own destiny.

Amazon        Barnes & Noble        Indiebound

an intriguing page-turner."—Kirkus Reviews

“…I will warn you the writing is so good that you will be left wanting more….
I can't wait for the next book.” —The Mary Reader

“…Ashes in a Coconut weaves a tale of corruption, betrayal, and ultimately redemption that had me marveling at the resiliency of the characters to the very last page. A wonderful debut!”­­­Reyna Marder Gentin, author of Unreasonable Doubts

Bo Kearns, journalist and writer of fiction, is the author of Ashes in a Coconut, a suspense novel set in Indonesia, where he lived for three years. He is a feature writer with NorthBay biz magazine and the Sonoma Index-Tribune newspaper. His short stories have won awards—First Prize- Napa Valley writing contest, Honorable Mention-Glimmer Train Fiction Open competition, Finalist- Redwood Writers On the Edge genre competition. Other works have been published in the annual California Writers Club Literary Review, Napa Valley Writers First Press, The Red Wheelbarrow Literary Magazine and Sonoma: Stories of a Region and Its People. He is a UC Naturalist, beekeeper, avid hiker and active supporter of conservation causes. He lives in the wine country of Sonoma with his wife and rescue dog Jake.