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Saturday, October 14, 2017


When seeking writing advice, I look up to authors who have achieved great success. I think it's safe to say that Kazuo Ishiguro is a good person to listen to. The recent winner of the Nobel Laureate in literature writes novels "of great emotional force, [and] has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world."

Wow. I'm thinking I'm not producing stories of that import any time soon, but nothing will happen if I don't listen to Kazuo's counsel.

An article in The Atlantic broke down Kazuo's advice. In a nutshell?

  • Block out the world. 
  • Park your butt in the chair. 
  • Allow yourself to write crap.

My use of the words "butt" and "crap" is a hint I won't be winning laureates this year, but sitting until my butt goes numb and writing horrible sentences provides a scintilla of hope that maybe one could be in my future if I just keep at it. (Using "scintilla" is my way of redeeming myself for using base and cloddish words. I added "base" and "cloddish" for insurance.)

Blocking out the world is key to Kazuo's writing as he wants his writing dream state to become more real than his actual world. I've heard this from many of my writer pals as we compare notes on experiences and techniques. We experience this dream state differently, but we share the shock of looking at the clock and realizing the day has gone by, kids were left at school without rides, or appointments were missed because our characters had beguiled us into their worlds. 

Wouldn't you know the Germans would have a word that sums up Kazuo's advice? Enter "sitzfleisch" into our lives. Even the sound of it fits the concept of flesh going numb from sitting. 

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. You know what you have to do, and no one is going to do it for you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A2R Marketing: This Author's Secret Weapon

I've got a secret weapon for executing the perfect author event, increasing book sales, and keeping a professional and engaging demeanor.

And I'm not gonna share.

Moderating a panel at the Bookstock
Literary festival is easier with help.
Usually, I use the "A2R" tag to share tips, experiences, and insights on Author to Reader events, marketing and outreach.

But the every-author-needs-to-have-this thing?

I'm keeping this secret to myself.

I've written before about the kinds of promotional events authors do in libraries, private events, or bookstores. Today, the events I'll focus on are of the face-to-face variety, not the many web-based events like online chats or blog tours.

I'm good at public speaking and enjoy it, therefore I look for opportunities to get in front of people either as part of a panel or as a solo speaker. Even if I'm not formally presenting, I enjoy getting out and meeting readers. At most of these events, I'm encouraged to bring books to sell. After all, what is an author without her books?

  • Problem 1: Books can be heavy.

This was back in the day when I had one book.
Now I have four to my name and counting.
I also go to festivals and outdoor shows, like art shows or horse shows. Most of these 
require me to bring my own vendor tent.

  • Problem 2: Tents are big and have poles and canvas. I'm an author, not a civil engineer.
  • Problem 3: Big white tents are boring. 
  • Problem 4: Big, exciting signs blow away.

Some table displays are better than others and Book Hubby
kept watch while I struck a deal to trade a book
for a bottle of Irish Whiskey, forever securing his position. 

Occasionally, outdoor events have a dedicated author area established, with tables and chairs at the ready. Re-read problems three and four. For anything indoors, re-read problem four and insert "fall over" for "blow away."

This setup at the Groton Horse Trails
shows what an eye-catching
and conversation-starting display should look like.
To solve one aspect of problem three (another aspect solution is below), I make sure to have photographs, plaques, awards, family memorabilia on display. Each item sparks a conversation and conversations lead to sales.

Oh, but once you have your display all set up with your precious books and family memorabilia sprinkled about, can you leave that unattended?

  • Problem 5: Authors have to pee.

When everything clicks and you have a good crowd, a very, very nice problem to have is an excited fan engaging you in conversation while other people wait patiently for their turn to talk with you and get a book signed.

Problem 6: People who are not engaged or feel ignored leave the cue unhappy.

Enter my secret weapon. Some folks may refer to theirs as a Book Sherpa, Book Buddy, or BFBBFF (Best Freaking Book Buddy Friend Forever). Whatever you want to call it, you need one. Chances are, you probably already have one. I had mine for years before I knew how useful this secret would be in my life as as author. 

What is this amazing thing? My secret weapon is my Book Hubby.

Why? Book Hubby provides multi-faceted solutions in one, easy care package.

Book Hubby on way to chat up cable TV crew
 about "great new book your viewers should know!"
  • Solution 1: Book Hubby carries a lot of books!
  • Solution 2: Book Hubby has much more patience than I have to set up tents.
  • Solution 3: Book Hubby can be very, very funny. 
  • Solution 4: Book Hubby is clever.
  • Solution 5: Book Hubby is an extra set of eyes and sells books even when I'm not present!
  • Solution 6: Book Hubby engages folks in conversation and makes sure they stay in line and happy!
The picture below looks like Book Hubby is sleeping or reading or relaxing. What you can't see in this picture is the horizontal rain and the tent that had just blown down the street behind us in the 20-plus mile per hour winds. Book Hubby's strategically placed body:
A rain squall during an Irish Festival had other vendors running,
but my trusty Book Hubby saved the day!
  1. Kept the tent from blowing away;
  2. Ensured the tent flap was not going to fly wildly and damage my books;
  3. Securing the flap kept my books dry;
  4. Made me smile.
What else did my Book Hubby do aside from sit?
  1. Lugged the stuff to and from the car (which he had loaded the night before);
  2. Set up the tent almost single-handed (hey, I'm good for more than just writing books!)
  3. In the lower left corner, you can see a round weight tethered by a cord. Book Hubby used his Boy Scout experience and deployed a trusty a Half-Hitch or Square Knot or Something-or-Other to tie a 25 pound weight to each corner. I don't know how to tie knots that have their own names. That's just beyond me.
  4. Created a clever system for hanging posters with fishing line and Velcro, which we discovered ensured the posters did not fly away in said 20-plus mile per hour winds.
  5. Bought me a Guinness at the end of the day!
And that helping me keep a professional demeanor thing? Book Hubby takes care of the little details that would frazzle my brain prior to taking a podium for a reading. I need to get my Zen on, and Book Hubby protects my preparation bubble. I gave him a raise for knowing me so well.

Book Hubby does more than this, and that's why I'm not sharing.

Go ahead. Get your own Book Sherpa or BFBBFF or Book Buddy.

This Book Hubby is mine, all mine.

Friday, October 6, 2017


Many of you know I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, a national crime and mystery author organization dedicated to supporting authors from inspiration to publication. (There are plenty of Misters in Crime, too, so don't let the name fool you.) One strong current that runs through the organization is the mutual support authors show one another.

In that tradition, I'd like to introduce you J.M. West. Joan and I "met" on one of the many platforms Sisters in Crime uses to network. I'm always happy to host a fellow sister on my blog, so I'll let Joan take it from here to tell you a little about her books.

Thanks Connie. Happy to be here!

My protagonist is Erin McCoy, a rookie detective newly promoted to the Carlisle Homicide squad—the only female on the team. She’s partnered with her mentor, Senior Detective Christopher Snow, whose regular partner, Reese Savage, is deployed overseas. Their first homicide, Dying for Vengeance, pits them against a clever foe. She may be new to CPD, but McCoy’s keen observations, her ability to process the crime scene and arrive at salient conclusions prove her capability. When Savage returns, however, conflict between them disrupts and distracts both. As the Snow and McCoy follow the clues and discover more suspects, the killer grows bolder. When Mac becomes ensnared in the killer’s web, she must depend on her ingenuity to survive. The question is can Snow find McCoy before the killer eliminates her?

Had a Dying Fall is the fourth in the series.A raging fire greets Detectives Snow and Savage where they discover a male body. The search for the missing wife, Kelly Sims, leads them to one of their own, Shannon Mahoney and to Sims’ extended family members, many of who have motives to kill. As the evidence mounts and suspects multiply, danger erupts, exposing damaging secrets that could destroy them all.

And what happened to Detective Erin McCoy, who was last seen at a Revolutionary War re-enactment rehearsal in Darkness at First Light?

Then another murder occurs on Jubilee Day in Mechanicsburg. The victim had ties to Dennis Sims, the Carlisle murder victim. Are the murders connected? Meanwhile, the killer stalks the streets. Where will he or she strike next?

My other books are: 

In the first Carlisle Crimes Case, Carlisle Homicide Detective Erin McCoy battles the jitters as the first woman in Homicide partnered with Senior Detective Christopher Snow. They’re tracking a serial killer who’s stalking family members embroiled in an inheritance dispute. The elusive perp dispatches his victims with toxic chemicals. As the detectives chase clues and connect the victims, their mutual attraction blooms while she nurses him after a shooting incident. But sparks fly when FBI Special Agent Howard offers McCoy a job if she’ll train at Quantico. McCoy resurfaces in Carlisle when a co-worker tells her that she has a rival for Snow’s affections.

In the second CCC mystery, Homicide Detectives Snow and McCoy tail a killer who stymies the police with multiple MO’s. While McCoy testifies at the trial of the sisters who kidnapped her in the first novel, Snow and Savage recover a nude body from the Letort Spring. While tracking sparse clues, another killing surfaces that rings alarms; the victims are connected to a Marcellus Shale gas well. As police tangle with hostile suspects, they are courting doubt and darkness, leaving the comforts of Carlisle to the wilds of Raccoon Mountain. When an eight-month pregnant McCoy joins the case, she discovers her Native American relatives are involved. Then she stumbles into the killer’s path!
Carlisle Homicide Detectives Christopher Snow and Erin ‘Mac’ McCoy discover an unidentified body, dressed like Molly Pitcher’s statue, lashed to the cannon in front of the folk hero’s gravesite. At the macabre scene, Mac receives a call dispatching her and K-9 Officer Shadow to a kidnapping. In the process, the CPD discovers the girl online on a pay-for-porn site, alerting the FBI. The trail leads to a Revolutionary War Reenactors’ encampment. As the detectives track ‘Molly Pitcher’s’ elusive killer and Emma’s obsessed kidnapper, the media compete to scoop the sensational trial that follows.


Author J M West is a Professor Emerita of English Studies at Harrisburg Area Community College, The Gettysburg Campus. She also taught at Messiah College and Shippensburg University as an adjunct and served as Assistant Director of the Leaning Center (SU). She has previously published poetry and Glory in the Flower, her debut novel, which plunges four coeds into the turbulent sixties.     A member of Sisters in Crime, she and her husband live near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. They have two sons and two grandsons. In her spare time, West volunteers at The Bookery, Bosler Memorial Library’s used bookstore, participates in a book discussion group, and reads voraciously. West’s fourth Snow/McCoy adventure, Had A Dying Fall, is available on Amazon.

Learn more about Joan on Facebook. Her Books are available at Sunbury Press, Amazon, History on High and The Bookery in Carlisle

Friday, September 29, 2017


The Story Behind the Andi Comstock Supernatural Mysteries

Do you believe in ghosts? Andi Comstock had never given ghosts much thought until she gets a new job and the dead begin to speak to her.

Several years ago, I was responsible for finding a new building for the nonprofit research center I worked for. I was also responsible for supervising renovations and when that was complete, the move into the building. From the first day, with all the remodeling dust settled, I smelled smoke. You have to understand, I have an excellent sniffer, which means I can usually smell things others can’t.

I live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. We get smoke here in the spring and summer, from field burning (grass-seed growers) to slash burning (timber management) to structure fires to forest fires. Each time I smelled the smoke, I’d walk around asking my co-workers if they could smell it, too. No one could and I finally stopped asking. Once I was settled into my new office, I began to walk around the area surrounding our building. Could the smoke could be coming from the mortuary at the opposite corner of our block. There was a chimney, but did that mean they had a crematorium? I checked. They did.

That smoke stuck in my mind, waiting for a good story to bring it to life. Long after I left that job, a story idea struck me out of the blue.

My main character would follow my experience to a point. She’d work at a new job and smell smoke in the building that no one else could smell. Unlike me, she’d hear a voice each time she smelled the smoke. Mostly, the voices would have a friendly chat, but once in a while, a voice would ask for help concerning a murder. And that is how Andi Comstock came to be.

In Holy Smoke, the first book of the series, one of the cremated souls asks Andi to help her find her murderer. At the recommendation of another soul passing over, Andi seeks out Father Riley O’Shaughnessy at St. Gemma Galgani Catholic Church for guidance. Together, she and Father Riley approach the mortician at Chapel of the Garden, who confirms that the dates and times of the cremations he’s performed agree with the dates and times Andi has recorded in her journal.

Not to give too much of the story away, Father Riley solicits assistance from Jack Harmon, a parishioner at St. Gemma’s, who is also a detective in the Violent Crimes unit at Edgerton Police Department. Jack is skeptical at first, but as the story progresses, he can’t argue with the facts Andi presents. To compound matters, he and Andi are drawn to each other romantically.

Before I began to write Holy Smoke, I researched crematoriums and discovered that these days, most are “clean” of emissions, including the one near the building where I worked. That surprised me, because with no other source of smoke in the area, how could I smell it? That is a question that baffles Andi, too. That old chimney no longer served a purpose.

Solving murders of people who are cremated presents its own set of problems. For one thing, the only materials that survive cremation are those made of metal—dental fillings, pins holding bones together, shrapnel, bullets. In Holy Smoke, I wanted to use a poison as the means of death, but when I contacted a well-known forensic dentist, he listed all the reasons I couldn’t discover traces of poison from dental remains, or cremains, as some call them. The challenge was on and it took me on a path of discovery to SanterĂ­a, a Catholic offshoot that some consider more of a cult than a religion.

In Penitence, Andi encounters a soul who wants her to help call off a hit he hired on his wife before he died. That lead me down a dark path of killers for hire and provided a whole new set of challenges. Andi isn’t the kind of woman who tells everyone she meets that she hears dead people, but tracking down a hitman before he completes the job he was hired to do presented an entirely new quandary, not only for Andi, but for me.

After nearly a year on the job, Andi is still dealing with the why of being able to communicate with the dead. Each successive “case,” as she calls them, tests her mettle. With Angel Babies, she wonders if she’s reached her limits when the soul that seeks help from her belongs to an unborn baby. After time spent in self-reflection, she devises a plan to entice the snatcher of babies that even the most courageous and strong-willed would consider foolhardy. But that’s what makes Andi so amazing. She’s committed to righting wrongs, no matter what the expense to her psyche or her physical body.

Fortunately for Andi, who writes game apps, she has a logical-thinking mind and she’s quite orderly. Unfortunately, her brain devises schemes that tend to put her in danger. That’s where she and I part ways. I can create the dangerous situations she faces, and get her out of them, but I’m pretty certain I don’t have enough courage to attempt to solve crimes the way she does.

Andi Comstock Books Back-Cover Blurbs

Holy Smoke
Smoke doesn’t always mean there’s fire...

Andi Comstock loves her new job, but she can’t figure out why she’s the only person in the building who smells the smoke. And every time it happens, she hears a voice in her head.
One of those voices suggests that she talk to Father Riley at St. Gemma’s Church, “a man of God and a believer in the afterlife.” Stunned and hoping she hasn’t lost her mind or developed a brain tumor, Andi takes a leap of faith and seeks him out.

Much to her surprise, she gains a cohort in her effort to track down the source of both the smoke and the voices.

Sometimes, it means murder...

It isn’t long before Andi hears a voice that belongs to someone she knew years before, a voice that’s pleading for help.

Andi and Father Riley soon realize they may have stumbled upon a murder. The priest does the only thing he can. He turns to homicide detective Jack Harmon for assistance.

Now if Andi can just figure out why the voice keeps saying, “Look at my teeth.”

Where there’s smoke...

Andi Comstock has grown used to smelling the smoke that pervades her office every time a cremation takes place in the mortuary next door. She even enjoys the moment or two when each soul stops to chat with her on the way to the Pearly Gates.

But one day, a Smokie says something that leads her to believe he may be headed in the other direction.  I did something bad, Andi, and I don’t know how to fix it.

Sometimes, it means murder for hire...

Andi  isn’t the type of person who can let a plea for help go unanswered. Her sleuthing cohort Father Riley sometimes compares her to St. Jeanne d’Arc, fighting battles on behalf of others.

Andi’s no saint, but neither is she a coward. When someone – dead or not – asks for help, she can’t just walk away. Not even if it means putting her own life on the line.

Angel Babies
Where there’s smoke…
Andi Comstock is not the type of person to tell someone who’s been murdered to take a hike, especially if that someone is an unborn baby. Angel-baby Lucy asks Andi to find the woman who killed her and her mother before the baby-snatcher strikes again.

From past experience, Detective Jack Harmon knows his most valuable information will come via the spirits who talk to Andi after cremation, when they pass from this world to the next. This time, though, something is different. Andi’s been told she’s The Chosen One and for Jack, who is also Andi’s boyfriend, that’s a show stopper.

Sometimes, there’s a plea for help…

With Jack avoiding Andi while he attempts to wrap his mind around what it means for her to be The Chosen One, Andi is forced to devise a creative plan to find the baby-stealer on her own. The resulting brainstorm is both outrageous and ingenuous, and it has the potential to be fatal. For her, at least.

Andi’s sleuthing cohort, Father Riley, who often compares her to St. Jeanne d’Arc, urges her to abandon the scheme, but Andi is set on doing it her way.

After all, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Ann Simas Bio

Ann Simas lives in Eugene, Oregon, but she is a Colorado girl at heart, having grown up in the Rocky Mountains. An avid word-lover since childhood, she penned her first fiction “book” in high school. The author of 19 novels, one novella, and seven short stories, she particularly likes to write a mix of mystery/thriller/suspense, with a love story and paranormal or supernatural elements.

In addition to being a three-time Romance Writers of Amer­ica Golden Heart Finalist, Ann is also an award-winning watercolorist and budding photographer who enjoys needlework and gardening in her spare time. She is her family’s “genealogist” and has been blessed with the opportunity to conduct first-hand research in Italy for both her writing and her family tree. The genealogy research from century’s-old documents, written in Italian, has been a supreme but gratifying and exciting challenge for her.

Chloe’s SpiritH
Chloe’s Spirit Afterstories
First StarH
First Star Afterstories
Blessed Are the EaglesH
Loose Ends
Heaven Sent
Black Moon Rising
Footsteps in the Snow (coming 2018)

Grace Gabbiano Mysteries
Dressed to Die
Sliced to Die
Buried to Die
Quilted to Die (coming 2018)

Andi Comstock Supernatural Mysteries
Holy Smoke
Angel Babies
Hellfire (coming 2018)

Christmas Valley Romances
Santa’s Helper
Candy Cane Lane
Let It Snow
Fruitycakes (coming December 2017)
Sleigh Bride (coming December 2017)

Short Story Collection
All’s Well

HRWA Golden Heart Finalists

Contact Info

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Writers' Groups: More Prompt Fun

I've shared with you before about how one of the writers' groups I belong to begins each session with a random prompt and five minutes for us to write whatever comes to mind. It's a firm five minutes. When the timer goes off, the pens go down. No exceptions!

The prompts come from either a list of about 100 different starting points or one member creates one and shares it with the group. 

I thought it would be fun for you to see what each member came up with for the same prompt. I've provided an imperfect summary of what each member predominantly writes and placed the prompt in bold with the response following immediately afterward. The responses are not edited for content or grammar, but I did add paragraph breaks to make the responses read more easily in this post.

Donna (middle grade children's book author):

She was a funny old lady, but I knew she came to tell me ...

...something bad, something I did not want to hear. There was an eeriness around her as I gazed at her through the screen door. She continued to rap hard knocks making the door shudder. I wished her away—she and whatever baggage she came with. My stomach ached in sympathy with my heart. 

Against my will, I opened the door. Her hair stood out in spikes and her apron was on backwards. She opened her mouth and said, “He’s gone!”

“Why, where would he go?” I asked, relieved it wasn’t worse. 

“My husband, he is gone and he took the dog, my precious pooch…”

Bette (historical fiction author):

She was a funny old lady, but I knew she came to tell me ...

...exactly what I didn't want to hear. Did she really think I needed to be reminded of what was obvious to every passerby? Did she think I didn't know the latch was broken on the gate - did she think I wanted to gate itself hanging at that awkward angle? - Oh, and were you planning on scraping this paint on the fence--?

That I had an answer to--

"Oh, I just thought I'd hose it down with the sprang on high speed and wash all those chips away!" I opened the door. "Miss Bleezley. What a nice surprise. How can I help you?"

"It's you who can help me, dear May I come in?"

"Yes, of course." I backed up and swung the door wide. "It's so nice out. Let's sit on the porch." I led her though the hall to the back door---

Maggie (children's book author):

She was a funny old lady, but I knew she came to tell me…

That the butterflies circling during the ceremony were a signal.

“Of what?” Grace asked.  “Who?”

Her skirt was a shimmering green, like the tall grasses swaying in the field.  Her eyes, turquoise, like the sea with a wave of knowing.  He sun-golden hair flowed freely.  Funny, maybe, old perhaps, but all-knowing without a doubt.

Toe to toe we stood in the sand.  Her skin soft as held my hand.

“They are here!” She replied.


"The two men missing in your lives, Grace.  They are always with you … guiding, watching…loving."

Cyd (young adult historical fiction):

She was a funny old lady but I knew she came to tell me…

...[t]hat I could not possibly stay another night in the bed-bug infested hovel she called a B&B.

The nerve! I have been a model guest for all these days. All right, months, actually. Or maybe years? Have I lived here over a year?

I lost count after I won a bottle of Leprechaun Whiskey at the county fair. “Won” might have been a generous way to put it. “Blackmail” might be more accurate--after I witnessed an exchange between several scruffy ne’re-do-wells behind the carny wheel.

“There’s a steady supply o’ that if you a’ git to helping us here.”

Me (crime/suspense author):

She was a funny old lady, but I knew she came to tell me ...

...the wine flask was empty.

"Empty! Impossible!" I said.

A soft smile graced her lips. "Yesh, it is."

For all the years I'd been coming to the library, the last thing I thought I'd encounter was a drunk librarian. Maybe I was naive in thinking that. The flask was in my bag. I was the drunk, not Mable, but Mable added another layer to the Drunk Book Lady thing.

She added thieving.

And that explained a lot.

It explained why people stayed away from me at gatherings and why I heard whisperings of missing wallets or jewelry. Mable was my frequent companion on my infrequent outings. I am a horrible introvert. And the flask?

My strength.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


You are invited to the best book launch party ... EVER!

Saturday, September 23 at 7:00 at Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

After sweating blood and nibbling my fingers to the nub, THE WAKE is ready for its big debut. The JESSICA TRILOGY is complete, early reviews are amazing and I am looking forward to hearing from fans about the twists, turns, and wrenching decisions I made to create this new thriller.

Connie Johnson Hambley launches the third book in the
 Jessica Trilogy at Jabberwocky Books in Newburyport, MA

Jabberwocky Bookshop is one of the best book stores in Massachusetts. Sue Little, owner and chief book curator, has created a haven for book lovers. She has been a terrific supporter of local authors and literary events. Holding my launch events there is a win/win. Sue supports another local author and I get to support Sue. Seriously, what could be better?

Join me for a glimpse of the story behind the story, a brief reading, and WINE! Click through to this Facebook event link and mark your interest to attend and stay up-to-date on news. Oh, and while you're there, be sure to like my FB author page, too, for news and giveaways.

See you there!

Thursday, August 31, 2017


J. Russ Briley infuses his thriller stories with readers' worst fears. His newest raises the specter of a dirty bomb in the heart of our nation. 

Interested? Me too!

Read on!

Two Dirty For D.C.

Five Soviet grain irradiators filled with Cesium 137 have been smuggled out of Kazakhstan. A CIA agent finds them on a Venezuelan freighter but is discovered before he can report their destination. A Russian mastermind has infiltrated factions of the US government and is plotting to smuggle the irradiators into the country in a way no one expects. His dirty bombs will put countless Americans at risk for radiation poisoning, and slow, painful deaths. Robert Carlton, the US Deputy Attorney General, and Lt. Col. Grady Barlow realize, too late, that their actions have helped the Russian and his wealthy investors. Time is running out. They must risk everything to stop the Russian from detonating his bombs. 

One Man Two Votes

Swept into the exploding, sleazy side of Washington politics, Robert Carlton has become a target. There is no option to walk away. Every agency has been infiltrated. He must find the killers behind this conspiracy, or watch his friends become its victims. Weaving past corrupt politicians, ruthless NSA operatives, and destruction of the nation’s democratic system, Robert’s family, career, and friends land in the crossfire.

J Russ Briley
Author of One Man Two Votes and Two Dirty For D.C.
Get them on Amazon:


J. Russ Briley combines a military background with thirty years in high tech to produce his real world characters and thrillers. From micro-controllers to industrial automation and IOT (the internet of things), J. Russ’s familiarity with technology covers a wide variety of critical infrastructure from missile guidance to water treatment plants, oil refineries, avionics, ship controls, digital communications, and security systems. Utilizing his MBA and Computer Science background in both hardware and software engineering, J. Russ has had direct working access to multiple Fortune 100 and 500 company executives and designers worldwide, including those from GE, Intel, GM, Martin Marietta, BP Oil, Texas Instruments, and Motorola. J. Russ was a member of the Air Force Academy class of ’79, and the son of a career Air Force Officer. He lived in Guam and India, visiting many foreign countries throughout his life. He received diplomatic corps training from the US government and was trained in photoreconnaissance. J. Russ currently resides in the rural Shenandoah Valley. You can hear more on J. Russ' website at

Saturday, August 26, 2017


South Shore Irish Festival
Saturday, September 9 to Sunday, September 10
Time: All day, into evening!
Drinking Guinness, meeting readers, and signing books? Yes! I'm looking forward to sharing some craic and listening to music and lore. I'll be joined by fellow Sisters in Crime authors Marion Stanley and Kathryn Guare. Both authors write books woven with Irish culture and mystery, and I'll be signing copies of my newest book, THE WAKE. Find the Author's Tent and sit and chat for a bit. We will have author chats on the schedule below:

Fifteen Minutes: The “Story Behind the Story” Author Talks

  • 2:00 - Connie Johnson Hambley, “The Troubles”
  • 3:00 – Marian Stanley, “The Immaculate”
  • 4:00 – Kathryn Guare, “Deceptive Cadence”


  • 12:00 - Kathryn Guare
  • 1:00 – Marian Stanley
  • 2:00 – Connie Johnson Hambley

You can find a full schedule of events and acts here.
Join us!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


One of the benefits of belonging to several writers' groups is that I meet a lot of talented authors. Most of our conversations surround the craft of writing or the trials and tribulations of finding readers. All the conversations boil down into one day--one glorious day!--where we can see our books take their first steps in the world!

So, drumroll! Friend and author Satin Russell's second romantic suspense book is out!! Do you like your women sexy and strong and your men sexier and stronger? How about a murder and a hot relationship thrown into the mix? Well, then! You have to read Satin's books!

SECRET NEED by Satin Russell

Liz may be forced to entrust her life to Alex, but can she trust him with her heart?

Liz Harper is a woman in control of her life. As the owner and mechanic of the best garage

in town, she is strong, confident, and in demand. It’s a far cry from her high school days spent as the social outcast. Then she runs into the boy who harassed her as a kid, only now he’s the good-looking man who is showing interest in her. Despite the attraction, she’s determined to keep her distance.

When Alex Weston returns to Bath, Maine to care for his ailing father, the place feels exactly the same. Everything except the awkward girl he used to tease. Liz Harper is all grown up and her transformation is the most intriguing thing about this place. If only he could convince her to give him the time of day.

Then fate throws them together and they discover big secrets lurk in the shadows of this small town. Caught up in a world of drugs and murder and accused of crimes they did not commit, they’re now on the run. They must learn to rely on each other if they’re going to survive.


Author BIO:

Satin Russell, author

Satin Russell was a financial advisor for many years up until she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a writer back in April 2013.

It took her a year of saving and planning before she was able to commit to her goal full-time.  Her debut novel, Secret Hunger, was published in April of 2015.

Satin lives in Massachusetts and is married to the love of her life, a man who literally flew halfway around the world for her. Other than writing, she loves reading, supporting fellow authors (especially self-published ones,) traveling, and photography. She’s also partial to a good whiskey every now and then.