What's in Store

Meet the Authors, Writers Doing Right, Book Reviews and More!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fill Up Your Christmas Kindle with Free and Discounted Books

Saturday, December 26 - December 28, sixteen members of the Indie Catholic Authors will have their books on sale. Check out the fiction and non-fiction options, all available for $.99 or FREE!

Here is the link!

Participating authors

  • John C. Connell
  • Jeanie Ewing
  • Ellen Gable
  • Melanie Jean Juneau
  • Theresa Linden
  • Gil Michelini
  • Erin McCole Cupp
  • Connie Rossini   Here is a previous interview I did with Connie.
  • Marianne Sciucco
  • Tim Speer
  • Thomas Tan
  • Jacqueline Vick
  • J.I. Willett
  • Gloria Winn
  • John Paul Wohlschied

Friday, November 13, 2015

Author Linda O. Johnston Brings Superstition Mysteries to Friday the 13th

Linda O. Johnston is an American author of mystery and romance novels. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the Year.

Linda writes several series in different genres. In 2014, she released three books, and so far in 2015, she has released two more. It reminds me of Agatha Christie in her more productive years! I   wanted to get the a peek at the both the books and the author. 

Linda, thank you so much for taking the time to be on A Writer's Jumble!

Speaking of time, how do you find the time to write four different series? And do you have a ritual to help change your mindset as you move from writing one series to another?

Well, since I'm currently an officially inactive lawyer, I have more time available than when I was practicing law.  It's still a challenge, though. 

When I move from one series to the next, I usually re-read some of my own stories from the series I'm moving back into, as well as others in the genre, to get my mind aimed in that direction.  There's sometimes a time overlap, such as when edits come in on a manuscript I've already turned in while I'm writing another story, and often I'm promoting a new release while I'm working on a book in a different series.  I just wing it then!
The Superstition mysteries, the Barkery and Biscuits mysteries, the Alpha Force paranormal books, and the Identity Division romances. These are intriguing names. Could you tell us a little about each series?

The Superstition Mysteries are cozy mysteries being published by Midnight Ink.  They're about Rory Chasen, who has traveled to the fictional town of DestinyCalifornia, which is all about superstitions.  She needs to learn whether superstitions are real since her fiancé walked under a ladder and died soon afterward.  Her lucky black and white dog Pluckie saves the life of the owner of the Lucky Dog Boutique, and Rory winds up managing the shop--and solving mysteries when her friends start being accused of murders.  She doesn't really want another romantic relationship, but she soon gets acquainted with the town's handsome police chief so that may change.  So far, two Superstition Mysteries have been published: LOST UNDER A LADDER and KNOCK ON WOOD.

The Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries are also published by Midnight Ink.  In them, Carrie Kennersly, a veterinary technician, buys a bakery from a friend who has to leave town and converts half of it into a barkery where she sells some of the healthy treats she has developed for dogs.  In the first book, BITE THE BISCUIT, a person who also owns a shop in town catering to pets hates the competition and vows to put Carrie out of business, but that shop owner is the one who is found murdered, and Carrie has to solve the murder to protect herself.  And, yes, Carrie has a dog, Biscuit, and a couple of potential love interests including veterinarian Dr. Reed Storme.  The second in the series, TO CATCH A TREAT, will be a May 2016 release.

My Alpha Force miniseries are paranormal romances I write for Harlequin Nocturne.  They have canines in them too--both dogs and werewolves!  Other types of animals are also in some of them.  Alpha Force is a covert military unit of shapeshifters. Their romantic interests are sometimes non-shifters and sometimes shifters like them.  So far, there have been seven Alpha Force books.  The most recent is CANADIAN WOLF that also features the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

I write the Identity Division romances for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.  They feature various people who cannot supply adequate evidence for prosecution of felons that would allow them to testify and be put into regular witness protection but nevertheless are in danger because of the unprovable information they have about the bad guys.  So far, those who've gone into non-witness protection have been women, and they tend to fall for the guys who have been sent undercover to the areas of their former homes to find the hard evidence they couldn't.  One book in this series, COVERT ATTRACTION, has been published so far and the second one, CLANDESTINE ATTRACTION, is the book I'm working on now. 

Many of your books revolve around our furry friends. You had the Pet Rescue mysteries, the Barkery and Biscuit mysteries obviously has pets in it, and even the shifters in your Nocturne romance novels are animals...sort of. Are pets your passion?

Link is to the Authors's Amazon page

Pets are absolutely my passion, especially dogs!  I love all animals, but particularly cherish the loving nature of most canines.  I additionally wrote two cozy mystery series before the two I'm writing now that featured pets: the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries as well as its spinoff Pet Rescue Mysteries. 

You belong to several writing organizations. Without negating the benefits offered by any of the others, which one do you find most beneficial and why?

The organizations I primarily belong to are Romance Writers of America, where I regularly attend meetings of two local Southern California chapters, as well as Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, again attending local chapter meetings.  I love them all!  

I used to always recommend that anyone interested in writing any kind of fiction should join RWA because the whole organization was so helpful to all writers, but they have scaled back and now only focus on romance writers--not necessarily a bad thing.  I derive something helpful from each of the organizations, mostly consisting of being able to connect with others of similar interests and also to volunteer for their speakers' bureaus and other events.  

As a result, I can't say that I find any of them the most beneficial.  I do, however, recommend to any new authors I meet that they join whatever organization(s) focus on their genres of interest so they can start networking with others who share their goals and interests. 

If a reader, new to Linda O. Johnston, wanted to jump in and start reading your books, to which series would you direct them?  (Knowing that some like cozies, some like flinch-free fiction, some like spicier novels etc.)

Yes, different people definitely like to read different things.  And I, of course, love all my own stuff! 

I'd suggest that anyone who likes cozies, especially ones with pets, could start with either of my current mystery series.  If they prefer something a little different and with a possibly paranormal edge to it, they should consider my Superstition Mysteries--although I don't necessarily consider superstitions paranormal.  Do you?

If they like culinary mysteries, then they might want to start with the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.

Both of my Harlequin series are spicier.  All of my romances contain some suspense, but if they like something truly paranormal they might like my Alpha Force Harlequin Nocturnes.  If paranormal isn't their thing, then my Harlequin Romantic Suspense novels might be more to their liking.

What's next for you?

As I mentioned, my next novel to be published will be the second Barkery & Biscuits Mystery, TO CATCH A TREAT, which will be a May 2016 release. 

I will, however, be republishing another of my backlist time travel romances THE BALLAD OF JACK O'DAIR on Kindle soon.  Two of my backlist stories, THE GLASS SLIPPER and ONCE A CAVALIER are already there!

Thank you, Linda!  

The links I've included are for Amazon, since that seems to be most convenient, but be sure to check out your independent bookstores first. To find additional links for purchasing, to find out more about the author and her books, please visit Linda's website

Monday, November 9, 2015

Keep Your Gender-Neutral Pronouns Away From My Writing!

I first noticed the strange phenomenon when I was performing a spellcheck on my novel. Every time the search hit the word "lady", it wanted me to change my selection, as if "lady"couldn't possibly be the correct choice.

Then I noticed that the program wanted to change "waitress" to "server", "businessman" to
"businessperson", and "hostess" to "host".

What was this madness???

Imagine a group of businesspersons gathered at a table at the local Denny's. The server walks up and places the bill on the table. As they leave, the host tells them to have a nice day.

What a bland vision.

Now, imagine a group of businessmen gathered at a table at the local Denny's. The waiter walks up and places the bill on the table. As they leave, the hostess tells them to have a nice day.

Can you get a better picture, even without adjectives, of who these people are? Yes, you can, because you at least know their gender.

I know if my character is a lady. Even if she's not, having another character call her a lady can help to define the character that is speaking.

I also know the sex of my characters, and if it's a woman server, I can save a word by calling her a waitress. There is no shame in being a waitress. I was one. I didn't give a hoot if I was referred to as a server or a waitress. I just wanted my tip.

I don't have a problem with mankind, and I refuse to read a Bible that has obliterated male pronouns. There are certain situations that call for an inclusive word, such as a corporate newsletter that goes out to men and women, but in that case, you are addressing a specific audience. And it's nice to alternate he and she if your giving examples, because your audience is most likely made up of both.

Most of the time, these changes obliterate the femininity of my characters. From hostess, female, to host, male. Why shouldn't Dorothy be a hostess? In the workplace, it's a difficult job that takes great people skills. At home, it's just as tricky. I especially have an issue with the powers-that-be thinking that "lady"is not an appropriate term. Would that more woman would aspire to be ladies.  In a move to avoid offending anyone, the gender police have turned my characters into no ones.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Adopt a Shelter Animal & Adopt a Life Long Friend by Author S.J. Francis

S. J. Francis is a freelance writer with over three hundred publication credits, a University Lecturer with doctorates in English, Mass Communications and Law, and most recently, a novelist. A frequent traveler, Francis has resided in thirteen states and three countries. Francis currently lives in Mississippi, where a major part of Shattered Lies takes place—but grew up in New York City, where the latter portion occurs—and has a great respect and fondness for both places, and considers the world a notebook full of endless ideas. Francis’ first novel, Shattered Lies is a women’s fiction/mainstream/family saga novel.

Welcome S.J.!

First off, I want to thank fellow author Jackie Vick for hosting me on her blog here today. Thanks, so much, Jackie. Jackie asked that I write something about animals. Animals, really? I can do that. I love animals, animals of all sizes and breeds, domestic and wild. In fact, I pen a blog just for animals, but that is for another day. I love talking about animals and speaking up for them any chance I get.

Animals are my best friends. They’re loyal, loving, and funny. When you’re down in the dumps, an animal will always be there for you. Whether it be a dog, or cat, expect your animal to want to cuddle up with you every chance he/she gets.

Over the years, I've had the privilege of adopting fourteen (14) rescue dogs and cats from kill and no-kill shelters, including a few strays that wandered into my life. I've loved them all and have no regrets in any of the adoptions. Most of them are dead now from old age, cancer and kidney disease. My current pet children are two dogs, one cat, and two kittens are all rescues. 

My dogs came from no-kill shelters. My cat came from a kill shelter where she was one of fourteen cats available to adopt. The two kittens were abandoned at a garbage dumpster at just 3 weeks of age. All are thriving and keep me in check. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

I’m a huge proponent for adopting animals. When you’re in the market for a new pet, whether it be a dog, cat, rabbit, etc. make adoption your first option. Don’t shop. Adopt. Many dogs, cats, of every breed and sex are available and all you have to do is make a nominal adoption fee. Fill out an application and provide references. You’ll feel good for doing so and you’ll gain a loyal and loving companion for life. 

My heroine Kate Thayer in my debut novel, Shattered Lies, is a big animal lover, so much so that she became a veterinarian, a profession I once considered. She’s adopted many stray animals that wandered onto the family farm, as well as caring for the horses and cows she owns. But when secrets and lies are revealed, her nearly perfect world is turned upside down, and she is compelled to dig deeper. Unfortunately, the deeper she digs the more she finds out until nothing she once knew is ever the same again. As Kate quickly learns, some secrets are better left alone. Too bad she didn’t heed those words. At least has real friends and family in the animals she cares for.

Why adopt a shelter animal? Because it will change your entire life for the good. It will do them a great deal of good, too. Every animals deserves love and safety. Though, animals don’t want anything from you, they will thrive through kindness, patience, adequate food and water. If you don’t have a pet, consider adopting one. Can’t adopt. Consider fostering one. The animal will have the taste of home and the shelter will cover the expenses. Can’t foster? Make a donation or volunteer at your local shelter. Whatever you do, however you do it, please be a voice for the animals, large and small. All it takes is one to make a difference, good or bad. I’m one for the animals. Are you?

Find out more about the author at her Black Opal Books Author Page. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on her blog.


     In honor of the launch of Shattered Lies, I’m offering a giveaway for someone to win a printed copy. To all those who leave a comment here today, or those that contact me at my website, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a personally autographed copy of my debut novel, Shattered Lies. Two copies are available giving two of you a chance to win.
     Just leave a comment here or go to my website and drop me a line with “Giveaway” in subject line at:
     Good luck and thanks so much for stopping by. It was my pleasure to spend time with you. Thank you so much, Jackie for hosting me. It's always my pleasure to connect with other authors and readers.

     FYI: The drawing will take place at the end of my blog tour on Saturday, December 12, 2015. I will contact the winner at that time to request your mailing address to send you the printed copy of Shattered Lies.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Author Karina Fabian Takes Readers Out of This World!

Okay. Tell us about your trademark hat, which I almost never see you without in pictures. Is there a story behind it?

Karina in Fedora with Pope Francis. (At least
his cut out.)
My hair is not always dependable, but usually, the bottom half looks pretty good, so a bad hair day means a good hat day.

I’ve had that black fedora for decades, and I wear it to all my events. I started wearing it to conventions as a way to stand out and because my dragon is a noir-style detective, and it’s stuck. Once upon a time it wasn’t as floppy, but we got caught in a deluge in an outdoor book fair in Chicago, and it was drenched.

I have other hats, but the black one is my fave. My gray one, which I bought because I’d forgotten my black one, is loaded with buttons from different conventions. I usually wear it when I’m being a fan rather than an author.

Zombie exterminators. Faerie nuns. Vanquished dragons that have to earn their powers back through faith and good deeds. I can't even imagine what Halloween was like at your house. What's the first step to coming up with a character from an alternate universe that readers will be able to relate to? 

Actually, Halloween is kind of boring at our house. The wild creatures tend to stay in my books, alas.

The characters may be from alternate universes, but they aren’t completely alien. I’d say the first step is coming up with the basic make-up. Then you change it up, add conflict, attitudes, and issues suited to the world. The character will become a person of that universe, but still keep the core. If the core is good, relatable, and sympathetic, so will the character be. The rest makes them interesting as well.

In the case of Neeta and Ted, zombie exterminators, they’re just regular people with an unusual job. If they were alive today, they’d work for Orkin spraying for termites, having barbeques in the backyard with the neighbors, and raising a couple of kids. But since there are zombies in their world, they behead reanimated corpses, have barbeques with fellow exterminators where they trade close call stories, and still raise kids. And they spray for termites.

With the final book of your "Mind Over" trilogy out, do you have a new series in mind?

I’m actually slowing down on my writing for a few years until the kids are grown and out of the house. With three boys at home, a full time job, a freelance career and an active role in the Catholic Writers’ Guild, I’m stretched too thin.

Once I’m ready to go again, I want to reboot the DragonEye series and do Vern’s story right. I took the advice “start in the middle,” but now I want to go back to the beginning. I also have some single novels I’d like to write.

You offer online classes that include a wide range of topics, from "Editing: Not for Wimps" to "Virtual Book Tours", but two of the most attractive to me are "Housekeeping for Writers" and "Time Management Myths for Writers".  What makes these classes specifically geared toward writers?   

The housekeeping class is always a hit at conferences. I approach cleaning house like writing a book. There are plotters and panststers. Plotters like a regular routine and a well-established list, and I give them that. Plotters want to attack the room and see what happens, but just like in writing a novel, there are tips and guidelines, so I give them those.

Time Management for Writers is geared especially for people trying to find time in their busy schedule to write, so in addition to some time management principles, I address ways to get writing in that keeps you moving forward in your book.

After a year's hiatus, the Catholic Writer's Guild Online Conference is back!  You've been involved with the CWG for many years. Can you give us a peek into what to expect at the upcoming conference in March 2016? And will you be teaching a class?  

We’re excited about this conference because we are finally ready to enter the 21st century! We will be presenting all the workshops via live webinar. I’m using the webinar software for my own classes right now and it’s very easy to participate. Registrants can find all the information and the registration link at http://catholicwritersconference.com.

The conference will run March 4-6, 8:30 am – 10:30 pm. Each class lasts an hour, with 30 minutes in between to allow for Q&A or socializing. That’s over 20 classes from leading writers of Catholic and secular fiction and nonfiction, plus editors. We’ll be arranging pitch sessions as well. There will be a charge this year to pay for the software and the speakers. $40 for non-members, $32 for CWG members.

We’re just starting to gather presenters, so we don’t have the list of workshops yet, but we do know that several will be done on two levels – beginner and intermediate. I’m waiting to see what speakers and topics we get and then create a workshop fill any gaps we may have.

What's next on your busy schedule?

Shambling in a Winter Wonderland (the next Neeta Lyffe book) and Discovery (a SF novel featuring the sisters of Our Lady of the Rescue) both come out in 2016. I’m also helping launch a wonderful new website called SaintConnection, which combines religious education with social media to create a new way of bringing the rich tradition of the Catholic Church to GenY. I’m also working on a Catholic geek devotional.  And yeah, this is me slowing down. (shrug)

Karina's audiobook for I Left My Brains in San Francisco has just been released!  You can find an interview with Karina and narrator Becky Parker at Writers in Residence.

Don't forget that I Left My Brains in San Francisco is now available on audiobook! Check it out!

Check out Karina's latest books and find out more about the author at the following links:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pet Psychic Phenomenon or Common Sense Cold Reading?

Image from bizarrocomics.com 
I remember going to a pet fair where they had an animal communicator on the center stage. As she gave her readings, it was apparent that all of her advice was based on the known characteristics of the breed before her and common sense. Perhaps she used psychic routes to get to these answers, but anyone who knew dogs and human nature could have arrived at the same conclusions.

Cold readers, such as psychics who perform for crowds doing mind-reading tricks, are experts at reading human beings: their facial expressions, their movements, and their vocal tones in their responses to probing questions. So how do they cold readers it?

They Make General Statements

Someone in this room is grieving the loss of a loved one. If you take a room of 200 people, someone will be grieving. We define grief on our own terms. Do we still miss our mother three years later? We can consider ourselves grieving. Did our pet die last week? Most people consider their pets loved ones.

A good cold reader will watch the expressions of the people in the room. A shared glance with their partner. Sagging shoulders at the thought of their deceased loved one. A sigh. Once they have confirmation, they can proceed.

They Know Their Statistics

On the blog WaggonsWest , artist and creator Gracey Newstead researched the most common initials I'm getting a name. It begins with a "J". (Followed by a quick peek to see who gasps or smiles.)
in the United States for her craft business. The results showed the most common first initial for both men and women was "J". The most common last initial was "R" followed by "M". Can you hear it?

They Always Leave an Out

In order to avoid being wrong, psychics must always have an out.  The person is an aunt (brief pause to look for a reaction) or cousin. Possibly a sister. 

Audience Member: I have a mother named Jane.
Psychic: Was she an only child?
Audience Member: She had two bothers.
Psychic: (With a smile) Then she was somebody's sister!

So what does this have to do with pets? A cold reader can read the pet parents.

In my first book, Barking Mad at Murder, Frankie Chandler walks into a home appointment with her eyes wide open. She looks for clues and then applies them to the dog's body language, as well as the owners' responses. 

When Buster becomes nervous, he'll begin to yawn. It's a de-stressing move. So is pacing. As the tension increases, he will flatten his ears, drool, and shiver.

When he was afraid of the street noises, he would sit with his back to the street, ears back. That showed real fear, as opposed to "I don't want to walk this particular route."
St. Francis with Lamb from the house of Fontanini of Italy

A tucked tail? Scared. A tail straight up in the air means he's on alert for possible dangers.

It took me a while to discover that raised hackles can simply mean excitement and aren't necessarily a sign that he was on the attack.

So, are there real pet psychics?

That's not for me to say. As my parish priest told me, "We don't really know how St. Francis communicated with the animals."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Connie Rossini on Centering Prayer

Connie Rossini gives whole families practical help to grow in holiness. She is the author of Trusting God with St. ThereseA Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child, and the free ebook Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life. She writes a spirituality column for The Prairie Catholicof the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, and blogs at Contemplative Homeschool. She is also a columnist for SpiritualDirection.com. She manages the Google+ Community Indie Catholic Authors. Connie and her husband Dan have four young sons.

I recently ran into Centering Prayer. There seemed to be something off about it. Fortunately, I ran into Connie Rossini's book "Is Centering Prayer Catholic?" at the same time, and I found the answers I was looking for. Connie has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions here on the blog.

Welcome Connie!

Could you first briefly explain what Centering Prayer is?

In Centering Prayer, you begin with the intention to be present to God. Then you sit in silence, turning away from every thought, feeling, or impression. When you find yourself following a thought or emotion, you silently focus on a "sacred word" you have chosen ahead of time. This word is supposed to be only one or two syllables long. You do not think about the meaning of the word. Once your mind has quieted down, you drop the word and go back to silence. Then at the end of your 20 minutes of practicing this, you sit for a couple of minutes longer to transition back to your everyday life. 

Is Centering Prayer "a Catholic thing", or do other Christian denominations use it?

Centering Prayer was created by three Trappist monks, Fathers William Meninger, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington. However, it is popular with some Protestants, especially Episcopalians.  Ecumenical Centering Prayer retreats are common.

What drew you to the subject of Centering Prayer?

I blog on the contemplative life, so people regularly ask me about prayer. I began looking into Centering Prayer in depth when my brother's friend asked me about it. The more I write about it, the more confusion I see among my readers about what prayer truly is for the Christian. I want my readers to grow in intimacy with God, which is impossible without prayer.

What is the difference between Centering Prayer and St. Teresa's infused contemplation?

Infused contemplation--which has been recognized since the early centuries, so long before St. Teresa--is a pure gift of God. Centering Prayer is a technique or method. Some methods can prepare us to receive infused contemplation, but none can make us contemplatives. Fr. Thomas Keating has said that Christian contemplation is really the same thing as eastern meditation. This is completely false. 

What do you see as the biggest danger to Centering Prayer?

There are two interconnected dangers. First, that people will be led off course, pursuing interior silence instead of pursuing intimacy with Jesus. Getting to know and love Jesus is the way we grow spiritually, and traditional Christian prayer methods help us do this. Centering Prayer, in contrast, rejects using the mind or the heart. You cannot get to know or love God by turning away from your thoughts and feelings about Him. 

Secondly, prayer and theology are intertwined. The theology taught by Fr. Thomas Keating is more influenced by eastern religions than by Christianity. For example, he teaches that there is no real difference between God and the human soul. That is pantheism, not Christianity. The practice of Centering Prayer supports and is supported by this bad theology. So people who start without considering the theology behind it can nevertheless be led towards unorthodoxy in their beliefs. I have seen this in conversations I have had with Centering Prayer practitioners.

 What would you tell someone who says that if three priests came up with it and Catholic retreat houses are teaching it, Centering Prayer must be alright?

 Unfortunately, many priests over the centuries have taught error. In fact, most of those whose teachings have been officially condemned by the Church have been priests. So being a priest is certainly no assurance of orthodoxy. The Church has not yet condemned Centering Prayer by name, but it has issued two documents on New Age errors that describe some of the very things taught and practiced by Centering Prayer proponents. When you compare these documents and the Catechism to Fr. Keating's teaching, as I have done, you see clearly that he is teaching error.

How can a person who wants greater union with God get started? What should be his or her goal?

 Greater union with God has a twofold component: prayer and virtue. If we want to advance in prayer, we must dedicate ourselves to resisting temptation and being obedient to God's will. Growth in prayer also gives us the grace to do this. Prayer and virtue support each other. My advice is to set aside time each day to prayerfully read the Gospels and talk to God about what you read. In addition, frequent the sacraments, work on avoiding even the smallest sin, and begin making small sacrifices out of love for Christ. Union with God is really an intimate love relationship with Him. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the beginning and end of our faith.

I understand you will be coming out with a paperback edition of your book.  When can readers look for it to be available? 

I released the paperback a couple of weeks ago. It is now available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, and Createspace, among other retailers.

Thank you Connie!  Please read on for a brief review of Connie's book. 

Is Centering Prayer Catholic?: Fr. Thomas Keating Meets Teresa of Avila and the CDF

by Connie Rossini
Four Waters Press
Paperback $9.95
ebook $2.99

Synchronicity in religion can be a dangerous thing. Catholics have been known to mix their beliefs with anything from  voodoo and witchcraft to New Age beliefs, which is like mixing oil and water. Unfortunately, when the person doing the mixing is a Catholic priest, Catholics can be fooled into believing that the outcome is okay, and that's what happened when Father Thomas Keating mixed Catholic meditation with Eastern meditation. The result was Centering Prayer. 

Author Connie Rossini, a 3rd order Carmelite for seventeen years, uses the prayer practices of Teresa of Avila to demonstrate where the practice of Centering Prayer leaves the path of Christianity and enters dangerous territory. 

Her writing style is conversational, and she includes comments and  exchanges from her various social media sites as well as from her blog at the beginning of each chapter, which clearly shows the confusion that people have about this prayer technique. 

The author lays out Father Keating's philosophy on Centering Prayer as a counterpoint to the wisdom of St. Teresa of Avila, a Doctor of the Church for her writings and teachings on prayer as well as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on New Age spirituality. By the end of the book, the differences between Centering Prayer and Catholic prayer are cleaer. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

An Interview with Mystery Author Linda Thorne

Linda Thorne began pursuing her true passion, writing, in 2005. Since then, she has published numerous short stories in the genres of mystery, thriller, and romance. Her debut novel, Just Another Termination, is the first in a planned series of mysteries that tell the story of Judy Kenagy, the first career human resources manager to turn sleuth. Just Another Termination will be released by Black Opal Books on August 29, 2015. She is currently writing the second book in her series, A Promotion to Die For.  

Like her lead character, Thorne is a career human resources manager. She has worked in the HR profession in Arizona, Colorado, Mississippi, California, and now, Tennessee. She holds a BS degree in business from Arizona State University and has completed a number of graduate-level courses in her field.

Welcome, Linda!

In your various job roles in personnel, I bet you have run into a lot of good material for your mysteries, including people you would like to murder! Do you ever base characters or incidents in your novels or real life?

I’ll never forget reading something Lawrence Block wrote years ago. He discussed the general wording that is in every work of fiction that says something like, “Names, places, characters and incidents are fictional. Any resemblance to an actual person, business, event, etc. is entirely coincidental.” Then in the next sentence, Block said, “And the world is flat.” 

The people we meet and the things that happen to us make us who we are. I don’t know how any author could come up with ideas without pulling from personal experiences. Yes, there are pieces of real events and personality characteristics drawn from real people in my book, but they are mixed together, my imagination is added, things like setting and time-frame are so changed that the book is truly fiction.   

You have probably also been exposed to a lot of drama and comedy. Why did you choose to turn your writing talents to mysteries?

Since my childhood, I’ve always loved to read murder mysteries. I was a big fan of TV series such as Columbo and Murder She Wrote, watching all of them and then watching reruns. 

Also, in my human resources career I’ve done many investigations when issues are reported or accusations are made. These investigations are a search for facts similar to what the police do as part of a murder investigation. I have some amazing stories of what I’ve found out in a number of these investigations. Stories, of course, I can not discuss. Sometimes what is first reported to HR turns out to be something totally different when the truth unfolds. Part of the job in human resources is solving mysteries. 

I’ve also had to work with the police in a few investigations, much like my lead character, Judy Kenagy, in Just Another Termination. Quite a long time ago, an employee at a company where I worked did not show up for work. We sent a co-worker over to check on her and she was found murdered. In my role as human resources for that company, I helped the police do their investigation at our company. The case was never solved.  

When you relax with a good book, who are some of your favorite mystery authors? 

The biggest for me are J.A. Jance, Michael Connolly, Carolyn Haines. Robert Parker and Lawrence Block (his older books).

Tell us about your main character, Judy Kenagy, and what makes her a good sleuth.

Judy Kenagy is a good sleuth because she’s a tenured human resources manager, well trained in doing investigations. She also is heavy with guilt over her coerced involvement in a wrongful termination that prompted a suicide. She believes helping to solve the new murder will in some way assuage her guilt over the suicide years earlier.  

I know this is difficult for authors, because we are all so individual and usually modest, but if you had to liken your books to a well-known series, which one would you choose? Or which one have others said you remind them of?  Kooky Stephanie Plum?  Methodical Miss Marple (or Miss Silver)?  Books by the versatile Mary Higgins Clark?

I would say my books are closer to Mary Higgins Clark than any of the others.

What are you working on now?

My second book in the series, A Promotion to Die For. In this book, a job promotion returns Judy to a suburb of Topeka, Kansas where she lived almost thirty years earlier. A little town where a random twist of fate prevented her murder, but caused someone else’s. The case was never solved and the murderer is still out there.

Thank you, Linda!  May you have the success of Mary Higgins Clark! If you would like to learn more about the author, check out her website. You can also find her on Twitter.  

Here is a blurb about Linda's book, "Just Another Termination".

At long last, she lands a job with a good employer, but the trouble is just beginning…

Human resources manager Judy Kenagy hopes her days of running from bad bosses and guilt-ridden memories are over. But alas, she’s barely settled in when a young female employee is found shot to death, spinning her new workplace into turmoil. Small-town police chief, Carl Bombardier solicits Judy’s help in her role as the company’s HR Manager. While working with Judy, he shares his fanatical interest in a twenty-five-year-old double homicide he believes is linked to her last and worst bad boss. To make matters worse, the trusted assistant of her monster ex-boss starts showing up, keeping the unwanted connection going. When the pesky trusted assistant turns up murdered, Judy learns there’s a connection with the shooting death of the employee. She starts sleuthing at the crime scene and stumbles upon an important piece of evidence. Can she solve all of the murders with this single find? If she does, will she finally be freed from the demons of her past? Or are things not as they seem?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Mystery About Manners

From http://fearlessmen.com/opening-a-door-for-a-woman/
Manners. They are little actions that seem so small they can hardly be expected to make a difference. Some are simple niceties, such as a man opening the car door for a woman, and some are signs of respect, such as when a man removes his hat as a funeral procession passes. Actually, most acts attributed to  manners and etiquette are born out of a respect for others.

Women don't wear white to weddings so as not to draw attention from the bride. We dress nicely for church out of respect for God.  

These days, manners are considered old-fashioned. Stand when a lady enters the room? First, you've got to find a lady. But manners - or the lack of them - are the driving force behind Edward Harlow in Civility Rules.

Edward writes advice books on etiquette under the pseudonym Aunt Civility. He limits his public appearances to groups of like-minded people, because he thinks that the average person is a cretin. There are times when I'm inclined to agree. Somewhere along the line, society decided that manners were pretentious. Fake.

Not so. Not only are they necessary for civil discourse, they raise the image of the person using them.
That's why parents teach their children manners on a daily basis. They have hopes that their precious pearls won't turn out to be slobs. Don't chew with your mouth open. Don't swear. Wait your turn. The payoff is an adult whose company others are happy to share.

Nicholas, Edward's brother and the more cynical of the two, believes that Edward is fighting a losing battle. People have become crass and lazy. They are more interested in self-satisfaction than in any discomfort they may cause others. However, he does admit that manners, when they are present, are contagious.

Think about it. If  you are conversing with someone who is polite and keeps foul language out of the conversation, sooner or later you're going to catch on and do the same. If you've ever dressed up for the opera or a play or even dinner, don't you find your that your behavior rises to the occasion?

Of course, when Edward's routine is disrupted by murder, he's stymied. Etiquette experts never addressed sudden and violent death.

Who is the rudest person you've ever encountered? Did you respond civilly? I'd love to hear about your triumph!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Reward Card for Readers?

Most of the grocery stores in my area have gotten rid of their customer rewards programs. In some socialistic venture, they've decided that every Tom, Dick, and Harriet who enters the store deserves the same great prices as someone who returns week after week, struggling to find where they've moved the bar soap this week.

Ralphs (Kroger) still has their rewards program, and I have to admit to a certain childish anticipation as I wait for my **special** discount to be deducted from my total. I feel, somehow, that I've earned it. It's my prize for not driving to Vons for cheaper grapes.

And why shouldn't I reap the benefits of a loyal customer?  Why should the weaker members of the herd, the ones who aren't bold enough to spill their personal information in exchange for that coveted card, receive the same perks?

I think loyal readers would like the same treatment, but what kind of rewards program could a writer come up with?  If my books are sold on Amazon (and they are) I can only discount the price for everybody, and where's the fun in that?

It appears that the only reward a writer can give are extras. Right now, I am giving away a behind-the-scenes look at the real animals that inspired the characters in my pet psychic mysteries. Instead of a lengthy application, readers give me their email address as they sign up for my newsletter and updates. Not just anybody can get a copy.

If you're a reader, what else would you like to get from the writers whose books you patronize? 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Frustrating Facebook Dilemma and Split Personalities

A few years back, I innocently started a Facebook page. If I'm honest, I think a friend told me about Farmville, and it was the only way I could play along with her. It was also a convenient place to catch up with my extended family and my writer friends, but soon there were too many posts to keep up with,

Then I got the bright idea to start the Jacqueline Vick - Author page, I'd be able to post updates to my writing and keep it separate from the social news coming from family and friends. I delved in without proper research, so I wound up with another page, not a fan page, that required a separate sign in.

Fast forward to the day I became an administrator on the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church Facebook page. I had to connect with an invite in order to be an administrator, Since it wouldn't work with my personal page,  I connected with my author page. For months, I was terrified to post anything on my own page for fear it would show up in St. Kateri's feed. And, as it took a different sign in, I stopped going to my personal page, which was where most of my contacts were.

I recently started a page for Walking Rosary Designs, my jewelry site. I discovered I could attach it to my author page and go back and forth between them. How cool! Except now I have too many pages to keep up with.

Do I annoy my friends and family by inviting them to my author page, where they will see posts about my writing? Or do I lump everyone into my personal page, and share my  attempts to make pretzels with my writing associates (some of whom are friends.)

Does anyone else have multiple pages? Have you figured out how to run the gauntlet without a complete meltdown?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Why a Cockatoo Almost Didn't Make it into the Second Pet Psychic

If you've seen the cover of "A Bird's Eye View of Murder", the second Frankie Chandler, Pet Psychic, mystery, you can't miss the cockatoo on the cover, but he almost didn't make it into the book.

Frankie Chandler doesn't like birds, and that may have been a spillover of my own feelings about winged creatures. It's not that I wish them any harm. They're just...creepy.

Puppies are cute. Baby birds are hairless, scrawny creatures with gigantic eyes (and no discernible eyelashes.)  My earliest memory of a baby bird was a fairly newborn robin who had fallen out of the nest and was being attacked by ants. A friend and I (after we finished screaming) moved the bird to the top of something, where I'm sure the ants finished it off later. Not a pleasant memory.

And I know, chicks are fluffy, but they're not especially cuddly. And they poop constantly.

Grown birds? Again, not cuddly. I can respect the hunting skills of a red-shouldered hawk, and it was a thrilling moment the first time I saw a  bald eagle in the wild. Birds can be beautiful and even admirable, but I can't really connect with them. (Though a cousin told me a story about chickens that makes them a shoe-in for a future Pet Psychic mystery.)  So how did a bird character even make it to my radar?

Pet Supply, a local store, has a very large cage with one such bird in it (and sometimes out of it), and the air is usually filled with sharp squawks. It is an ear-piercing sound that has me wondering if the bird would taste like chicken.

One day, I was talking to Zack, one of the store's experts, and he explained a few of the bird's quirks, They sounded annoying enough to be funny. So the cockatoo got his chance.

Tell me. Am I off-base about birds?  I admit that I've changed my mind about cats over the years. Do birds have redeeming qualities that make them wonderful companions?

Friday, February 27, 2015

I'm Not Dead. Really.

I've been caught up in a few projects, including getting the latest Frankie Chandler, Pet Psychic, novel out in both Kindle and Paperback formats, but I had no idea it had been so long!  June 2014 was the date of my last post.

Isn't it amazing how time flies?  And for all of you young 'uns out there,
it does seem to pick up speed the older you get. I think that's because as
we get older and wiser, we get braver. I could come up with a zillion
possibilities when I was in my early twenties, but only when I moved into middle-age did I stop listening to the naysayers and get bold enough to try them.

So, what's been going on?

I've been coordinating the resurrection of the group blog, Writers in Residence, for a group of lovely authors. That meant learning my way around some of the glitches of blogger. I haven't conquered them all yet.

I just finished Civility Rules, my Harlow Brothers mystery. It's now "resting". The hubby came up with a very cool cover idea, and now I have to find someone who can pull it off.

My priest mystery is back in the forefront. He's an exorcist who is on a leave of absence. His new punishment   assignment is religious education instructor at an all-girl high school. Sounds like a nightmare to me.

And I'm trying to clean up my digital profile. I hadn't even put any information in my Google profile, but then I saw that it had been viewed by over 60,000 people. (Or else my mother clicked on it 60,000 times.) Time to reward their efforts with some information, because I know it's frustrating to me when I try to look someone up and get nothing buy that shadowy avatar.

So, what has been going on with you?