Northern Comfort

Northern Comfort: How It Starts

Only days ago, I announced my newest book, Northern Comfort will be released July 19 on Kindle. Until then, it is in the preorder phase. I’m chuffed, as my UK friends would say, that readers have enthusiastically preordered the book. Thank you because it helps the book get traction on Amazon. (The link is below.)

Northern Comfort is not part of my Isabel Long Mystery Series, but it has the same setting, the fictional hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. But this book is what I would call a dark drama because of the story I tell — a woman struggling to raise her brain-damaged son, Cody after his father abandoned them. They are way below that so-called poverty line as she supports them working in a hair salon. They live in a cabin left by the grandfather who took them in. Willi tries to do her best for her son. But a tragic accident involving Cody severely tests her resilience.

Over the next few weeks I will write more about the characters and themes in Northern Comfort. For now, here is the first chapter to hopefully pique your interest.

The chapter is called Worst of Winter. That’s the time of year this book takes place. It’s the coldest and dreariest part of the season in the small town where Willi and Cody live. Here I will let the first chapter set the scene for you.

Willi Miller pinned her best blouse to the rope line, shaking her bare hands to keep the blood moving, as she reached into the broken plastic basket for something else. She should have done this miserable chore before she went to work this morning, but she didn’t have the time. 

Short and thin-boned like her mother, but yellow-haired like her father, Willi spun around for her boy, who stood a half-foot away, staring at the dog whimpering and jerking its chain. “There you are, Cody. Stay near me,” she said.

Her boy, dressed in a one-piece red snowsuit, his mittens packed tightly on his hands, didn’t say a word. He only made noises that sounded like words, and he was seven. His ‘Ma,’ Willi had decided, was exactly as an animal would say it.

Earlier this afternoon, she got Cody at the babysitter’s house, where the van took him after school. Willi was a hairdresser at the Lucky Lady Beauty Shop in nearby Tyler although the running joke among the gals who worked there was it should be called the Unlucky Lady because of the stories the customers told about their men. Cheaters, drunks, and bums, the whole lot of them, it seemed, by their complaints.

The ‘Lucky Lady’ was busy today with high school girls who wanted their hair curled and piled high for the semi-formal tonight. They were fun customers, so excited about their dates and the big Friday night ahead, she didn’t mind their lousy tips. Willi remembered not that long ago she did the same.

She fed Cody cereal after they got home just to hold him until she made dinner. He ate a few spoonfuls before he began playing with it, making a mess as usual, so she dressed him in his snowsuit and took him outside after she lowered the damper on the wood stove.

Now, Cody walked beneath the hanging laundry toward the dog, named Foxy by her grandfather, who used to own the brown, short-haired, pointy-eared mutt. Willi called to her boy, who moved step by step across the snow, breaking through its icy crust until he sank to the top of his boots. He turned toward his mother. His green eyes peered from beneath the brim of his cap. Yellow snot bubbled from one nostril.

“Yeah, I’m watchin’ you,” Willi said, bending for a towel.

Snow seeped through a crack in her right boot. Cold numbed her toes. She should put duct tape over the brown rubber, but it was her only pair, and it’d look like hell.

“Hey, Cody. Where’re you goin’?”

Her boy marched with fast little feet past the junked truck to the back of their house, where his sled, a cheap thing she bought, was propped against the wall. “This is a red sled,” she told Cody in the hardware store.

Her boy uttered a sound that might have been “red” but only she would know. She understood his ways most of the time. He wanted things tick-tock regular when he ate, what he wore.

Her eyes followed her boy, dragging his sled, grunting, toward her. He dropped it at her feet and sat inside. The heels of his boots kicked up and down. “Maaaaa,” he called.

Willi sighed. Cody wouldn’t let up until she gave him a ride. Her boy liked it when she towed him in his sled along the driveway to get the mail. He made happy chirps and flapped his mittens. She wiped her hands on her black jacket, a man’s, too big and open in the front because the zipper was broken. Its bottom swayed against her legs as she walked.

“All right, Cody, but just a little ride.”

She reached for the towrope and pulled Cody in a large circle. His mouth formed a wide, sloppy smile, and he let out gleeful sounds as Willi went slowly, then gained speed. She had to work at it because her feet sank through the snow, although the sled glided easily on its surface. She was careful to stay on the flat part of her land, away from the edge of its tabletop, where it plunged onto her neighbor’s property then to one of the town’s main roads below. When she squinted, she could see the Mercy River flowing through its snowy valley like a blue vein on a woman’s wrist.

Round and round Willi towed her son. She slipped on the packed ring of snow, and her straight, yellow hair dropped to her jaw when her knit cap fell. Cody’s head rocked back as he yelped in pleasure. After a while, she stopped, out of breath.

“I gotta finish hanging the clothes before it gets dark. Alright?” she told Cody, although she did not expect his answer.

She picked her hat from the snow. The sun was low in the sky, and the dark smudge spreading from the west likely carried more snow. Willi frowned. It’d be too much trouble to take the clothes down again. She hated this part of winter, mid-January. It snowed every day, not much, but enough to keep the road crews going with their plows and sanders. Winter always has a week like this, unsettled weather, the worst of the season, of the year, as far as she was concerned. Often, it happened after the thaw, so that brief warm spell seemed like one cruel joke.

She bent for one of Cody’s shirts. She had to work faster because the clothes were stiffening inside the basket. After she hung them, they would freeze into thin slabs, like shale, and after a day or two, they’d be dry. If she had any money, she’d buy a dryer. She glanced toward her house and saw missing clapboards. She’d fix those, too.

When she was a girl, she used to keep a mental list of what she’d get if she were rich: stuff like pink high heels and a long white coat. None of them seemed practical for a town like Hayward, where half the roads were dirt and fancy things were in other people’s houses. Now, she’d buy a car that worked without worry and hire a lawyer to make her ex-husband, Junior, pay child support. 

Her boy bucked his body while he lay on his belly inside the sled, wailing as if he were wounded. Willi shook her hands and grabbed a pair of jeans from the basket. 

“Shit, I hate this life,” she said.

LINK: Kindle readers can buy Northern Comfort for $2.99 on Amazon. Of course, if you have Kindle Unlimited, it is free. Here is the link:

Alas, paperback readers will have to wait.

Character Traits

Character Traits: Meet Alexia Harper

Next in the Character Traits Series is Alexia Harper, created by the author Niki Kamerzell for her intriguing novel, Last Time She Died. Fans of paranormal fiction will want to read this book. Here. I will let Niki take over and tell you about this character.

Alexia Harper is in her first year of college when she dies. Except she doesn’t realize she’s dead and just goes about her day to day activities. She’s the main character in my paranormal novel, Last Time She Died. Every day, she wakes up, takes a shower, goes to work at the diner she’s worked out since she was sixteen, and hangs out with her friends. Every night, she has the same dream. No, not a dream. It’s a nightmare about the car accident that ended her life. 

The dream is the same every single night, that is, until Leland appears in her life. He’s a friend, you see, just not from Alexia’s current life. The dream is no longer the only thing haunting her. Now, she finds herself lost in ancient worlds, speaking different languages, and looking nothing like herself. But it is her. Her Essence is there. Her name just isn’t Alexia in those places. In those past lives. 

While searching for answers in her past, she uncovers the man that killed her. The man that killed Alexia, and so many of the past versions of her. The man that killed all her friends. He’s still out there and he’s coming for her. If he finds her, it’s not just her human life he plans to end. He’s out to end her entire existence…forever. 

How did you come up with the character and his/her name?

I’ve just always really liked the name Alexia. When I started writing, I couldn’t imagine a different name for her. She always was Alexia. 

Tell us more about Last Time She Died.

Last Time She Died follows Alexia and her best friend, the still living Cali as they try to stop their murderer. Alexia’s goal is to keep Cali alive. Alexia travels through her past lives to discover that as long as Cali has existed, she has been Alexia’s best friend. They always live their lives together. To stop the murderer, the two team up, one alive and one dead, to stop the bad guy. 

Was a real person your inspiration for this character?

No. For most of the other characters there was, but Alexia is just her own being that popped out of my brain. 

Is your character likable or not?

I think so.

An extract from Last Time She Died.

A bright light blinded Alexia as lightning streaked in front of her, lighting up the interior of her car. Just before an exploding tree hit her car, a silhouette shifted against the darkness. 

It was a dream. She had it every night, but tonight, something was different. There had never been a silhouette outside.

She waited for her dream-self to scramble across the seats reach for the door handle and crawl through. 

She stayed slumped over the wheel. The strange shadow still lurked just outside the car. 

It was all wrong. 

The shadow took shape and morphed into Cali, her best friend. 

Alexia clawed at the handle, knowing it shouldn’t open, but hoping, since everything else was different, she could escape. The door creaked open and she bolted out of the car toward her friend while her dream-self didn’t move.

The world shifted, knocking her painfully to the ground. 

She couldn’t see the car, but Cali stood above her, teary-eyed, staring down. 

It was warm, no longer the dark, cold evening of the accident, though it was still raining. The vehicles were still there. Farther away than she expected, and fading away. Literally dissolving from the road in front of her. The ground softened against her back. 

Alexia’s attention snapped back to her friend who loomed above her, with tears running down her quivering cheeks. She tried to reach for her, but her arms wouldn’t move. Lying on her back, Alexia tried to call out to Cali, but she couldn’t speak. 

Cali’s mouth moved, but Alexia couldn’t hear anything. An earthy, damp scent overwhelmed her. Cali held something silver in her hands that shimmered in the streetlights. A necklace or bracelet, maybe, but Alexia couldn’t be sure. An odd sensation ran through her, and Cali shuddered in unison. Alexia felt an ache in her chest as she watched her best friend weep, but she remained imprisoned in her own body.

Finally, Alexia heard Cali whisper, “I still miss you every day,” between sobs. 

Kneeling over Alexia’s chest, but somehow not touching her, Cali laid the silver object down. Alexia was able to see it was the ‘best friends forever’ necklace Alexia had given Cali for Christmas in third grade, the summer after Cali had moved to Jaydee. 

“Happy birthday, Lexi,” Cali whispered as she dropped her head in her hands and cried so hard, she shook. She stayed there, trembling, for another minute. After a deep breath, she put the necklace inside a small box and set it down again. It sat above Alexia’s face as if she were under a pane of glass. 

Alexia woke up in a pool of sweat and weeping. She’d gotten so used to her dream that any change would have upset her, but this was too much. She’d felt pain radiating off Cali but was helpless to do anything. 

Alexia tossed back her covers, grabbed her phone, and headed downstairs. Alexia typed, deleted, and retyped several texts before deciding to call Cali. 

The door creaked just before she hit call and Cali’s trembling voice broke her concentration completely. 

“I had to see you.” Cali’s voice froze Alexia in place. “I have been having these weird-ass dreams about you and I think—I don’t know. I wish things could go back to the way they were, I wish I could see you like I used to, and we could do things on a whim and be free again. I hate this.” 

Lowering herself, she sat crossed-legged on the floor. Alexia dropped onto the arm of the couch. The puffy swollen circles under Cali’s eyes were still as red as they had been in Alexia’s dream. 

“I wish I could know that everything was okay, but I don’t feel like I know anything for sure anymore. I don’t understand why everything has to change. I hate that things are like this now. I miss what we were, I miss who I was. I hate being sad all the time. I hate it.” Cali paused and sucked in a shaky breath. “Do you ever feel like this? No, of course not.” 

Alexia didn’t understand why she wouldn’t make eye contact. Cali’s words and vulnerability kept Alexia silent. 

“I have to go to work. I’m sorry I couldn’t stay longer, but I’ll come back. Someday you’ll just have to put up a sign saying, ‘Cali not welcome!’ It may be the only way to keep my rambling drama away from you.” She laughed halfheartedly. Standing slowly, Cali walked out the front door. As she stood outside, her tears mixed with raindrops. Cali made quiet sobbing sounds as she closed the door behind her.

Alexia felt the fog that had frozen her clearing. She hadn’t said goodbye. She hadn’t said anything. The whole encounter had left her shaken. Springing up to catch Cali before she drove away, Alexia swung the door open. She was greeted with an empty porch and heavy rain. Cali was gone. Looking again in disbelief, Alexia grabbed her phone and dialed Cali. 

There was no answer. The next call went straight to voicemail.

Grabbing her keys to follow Cali, Alexia rushed outside. The door slammed shut behind her just as the wind started to howl. A thick, yellow cloud swirled around Alexia, gagging her with the putrid smell of rotten eggs. 

The saffron dust churned around her, leaving her dizzy. For a moment, she swore she heard laughter. She clutched her temples between her palms and squeezed her eyes shut. 

Whatever swirled around her looked like fog, but as it grazed her skin like tiny sand particles were grinding her into nothing. It smelled so strongly of sulfur; she was choking. Trying to see through it burned her eyes and her face was wet with snot and tears. 

She turned to go back inside. The fog thickened. 




She couldn’t see anything but yellow. Floating within the cloud, the laughter was unmistakable.

“It’s you,” she heard from inside the cloud.

Authors Bio

Niki Kamerzell

Niki Kamerzell lives in Colorado and spends her free time reading and writing.

She will read just about anything recommended to her and has been known to sacrifice eating and sleeping to finish a good book. Niki writes fantasy and has been writing for the last ten years. When not writing or reading, Niki is probably distracted by her Corgi or out hiking in the Rocky Mountains with her husband.

Her other distractions include driving around and singing off key with the radio and scrapbooking. Always willing to make things awkward, sarcasm is like a second language to her and, next to her passion for writing, probably one of the things Niki’s most proud of.

Links to books and social media






Character Traits

Character Traits: Meet Adrienne Harris-Morley

In this second week of my Character Traits Series, author Miriam Drori gives us insights into Adrienne Harris-Morley, who she created for her novel Cultivating a Fuji. Miriam, who lives in Israel, has been the editor of my mystery series — a delightful experience. But let me step aside and let her tell you about the character she created.

Adrienne Harris-Morley has a lot going on in her life, despite being only a minor character in my novel, Cultivating a Fuji. She has two young children, and a husband who’s never around to help with childcare. When she has to work on a Saturday, as a clerk at London’s passport office, she farms the kids off at her begrudging sister’s place.

Cultivating a Fuji is the poignant, humorous and uplifting story of Martin, a guy who doesn’t fit into society.

When writing this tale, I made the decision to give backstories to all the characters who come into contact with Martin. If I hadn’t, they would probably have been seen as callous or uncaring. In reality, most people are tied up in their own problems and don’t have the emotional space to better understand someone who strikes them as weird.

Because Adrienne has come up in the world, I decided she needed a double-barrelled name. I tried out a few until I found one that chimed with me.

Martin, who’s a brilliant computer programmer but has no social skills, is sent to represent his company in Japan, meeting Adrienne when he needs an emergency passport. No one in the company expects him to succeed in selling their product, but he does, helped by the strangeness of Japan. What happens when he returns home to England is another matter.

The character of Adrienne is completely made up and not based on any real person. The reviews for the novel don’t include this minor character, but I would imagine readers would sympathise with all her problems, especially if they’ve also had to juggle work and children. They would understand that encountering Martin would add to her heavy load.

Here’s an extract from the only chapter in which Adrienne appears. The year is 1977:

She’d only just sat down at her desk and adjusted her glasses when her first customer approached. A young man, mid-twenties, short brown hair, carrying a royal blue rucksack. He looked quite normal and respectable apart from the fact that he was staring at the floor and his cheeks were rather flushed. Had he been running or drinking, or was he always like that? He sounded a bit out of breath when he finally spoke, but he was the first in a long queue, so he couldn’t have been running.


“I… Is this the right place?”

“That depends what you’re here for.”


“What are you here for?”

“I want to get an emergency passport.”

“Yes, this is the place. Sit down, please.”

Adrienne indicated the chair and the young man sat on the edge and glanced behind him, almost as if he were planning a quick getaway if things went wrong. What a shifty character. Just what she didn’t need this morning.

“Why do you need an emergency passport?”

“I… have to go abroad. They said I needed a passport.”

“Yes, of course you do. But why an emergency passport? Why do you need it in a hurry?” Prudence told her that she had to clarify everything carefully for this man. Maybe he didn’t understand the word emergency. Maybe he simply wanted to renew his passport.

“I… I have to go instead of Kevin… instead of someone else because he can’t go.”

“Where do you have to go?”


Prudence whispered in her ear again and helped her to form her next question. “What do you have to do in Japan?” Clearly, she had to take this slowly and ask simple questions using words of one syllable. Unfortunately, her patience was waning at an alarming rate.

“Give a demonstration.”

“That’s a long word for you,” was on the tip of Adrienne’s tongue. Instead, she said, “What sort of demonstration?”

“A demonstration of our system.”

“What sort of system?”

“A computer system.”

“What does this computer system do?”

“It… well…” 

Adrienne wriggled in her seat. Below the table she tried to get more comfortable by moving her legs apart. But then she felt the crotch of her tights lower than it should have been, and put her legs back together. And this was supposed to be progress. What was wrong with wearing stockings?

She was beginning to wonder whether this shady character was making it all up on the spot. She certainly found it hard to believe he could demonstrate a vacuum cleaner, let alone some computer system. In her mind’s eye, she saw this man on her doorstep with a giant vacuum cleaner beside him and the flex tied all round him. When she opened the door, he’d say, “I’ve come to… come to… I need to go in.” And he’d move forwards, trip over the flex, and fall headlong into her hallway.

She turned to the real version, still struggling to answer her question. “Yes?”



Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London and now lives with her husband and one of three grown up children in Jerusalem.

With a degree in Maths and following careers in computer programming and technical writing, Miriam has been writing creatively since 2004. After some success with short stories, which she continues to write and which have appeared in anthologies, Miriam turned her hand to longer fictional works, publishing a romance and a historical novella, co-written with another author.

Social anxiety features in Miriam’s latest publications. Social Anxiety Revealed is a non-fiction guide that explores this common but little-known disorder from multiple points of view. The book has been highly recommended by ‘sufferers’ as well as professionals in this field. Cultivating a Fuji is the story of a fictional character who battles against social anxiety before learning to make friends with it. Style and the Solitary, a crime novel, asks an important question: what happens when a suspect can’t stick up for himself?

When not writing, Miriam enjoys reading, hiking, dancing and touring.

Links to books and social media

Miriam Drori can be found on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsPinterestInstagramBookbubWattpadYouTube and on her website/blog.

Her books are available at: Social Anxiety RevealedCultivating a Fuji and Style and the Solitary.

Character Traits

Character Traits: Meet Kayleigh-Amanda Tarr

With this post, I am reviving the weekly Character Traits Series, which gives my fellow authors an opportunity to promote their books. The first is by Morwenna Blackwood, who has chosen Kayleigh-Amanda Tarr, a character in her Glasshouse series. A UK author with darkstroke books, Morwenna writes noir psychological thrillers. Here, I will let her tell you about the character she created.

How can I try explain Kayleigh without trying to explain everyone around her? People are inextricably linked, which is the reason I started the Glasshouse series! Still, I’ll have a go …

Kayleigh-Amanda Tarr first appeared in 2020, in The (D)Evolution of Us. She is twenty-one years old, heavily pregnant, and living alone in a flat in a Victorian terraced house in Eskwich, Devon.  She soon gives birth to a baby son, Liam.

Her best friend, Cath, recently died, and although the coroner declared the cause of death suicide, Kayleigh believes Cath’s boyfriend, Richard, murdered her.

Kayleigh was diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder as a teenager, and despite the turmoil she is in at this point, she is ‘doing well’, having regular meetings with her psychiatrist, Dr. Whittle. She’s been teased and bullied about it throughout her life, and experiences discrimination; as she does for her religious beliefs: nature religions make more sense to Kayleigh than her Church of England upbringing, and she practices Wicca.

It’s the late 1990s in The (D)Evolution of Us — the era of the ‘ladette’ — and in spite of the hippy-style clothes she wears, Kayleigh certainly fits that nomination. She’s the life and soul of the party, seemingly wild and free, and her friend and landlord, Will, is deeply in love with her. Hating herself for it, but unable to stop, Kayleigh flirts with him, and occasionally they hook up. And that’s not the only complication in her love life. Richard, Cath’s boyfriend, insinuates himself into Kayleigh’s life after Cath’s death, helping her when she goes into labour and supporting her with Liam, while systematically abusing her. And all the time, Kayleigh is pining for Adam. Adam used to go out with Cath, but he and Kayleigh secretly fell in love — and then he disappeared. Kayleigh hates herself for that, too.

She tells everyone that Liam is the result of a one-night-stand, and no one is surprised.

Kayleigh’s choices have far-reaching effects that impact on everyone in The (D)Evolution of Us, Glasshouse, Underrated, and Skin and Bone, and with Liam in his twenties in the last book I wrote, her story never really ends …

The inspiration for Kayleigh, and other matters.

Kayleigh’s name came from the Marillion song! I loved the idea of having a character who said they were named after a song, even though their age belies it. Music is central to the Glasshouse series — evoking atmosphere and placing a story in time. The fact that Kayleigh lies about where her name came from speaks volumes about her character. She likes to stand out from the crowd, but it comes from a place of deep insecurity.

Kayleigh isn’t based on a real person, rather she is a blend several events I’ve experienced and born witness to. Her physical appearance and self-expression reflect her psychology.

Regarding the books she appears in, I’ll concentrate on The (D)Evolution of Us as it’s the first time I wrote about Kayleigh, and May is the novel’s birthday month. (TDofU was three on Star Wars Day!)

As I’ve said, Kayleigh and Cath are best friends. A cruel twist of Fate exacerbates their mental ill-health, and they both seek escape, solace and oblivion in alcohol. It’s the late 1990s, and given that they find themselves in a culture of indie music, rebellion and binge-drinking, the fact that they’re essentially self-medicating goes unnoticed; however, Cath’s death is — to everyone but Kayleigh — clearly suicide brought on by her depression.

Cath’s death hits Kayleigh hard, and she finds it unbearable that she gives birth around the time her best friend dies. With her parents having split up years ago — her mother back ‘Up North’ and her father remarried and living in France — Kayleigh relies heavily on her friends. The trouble is, being friends with someone doesn’t mean you know them inside-out …

All the Glasshouse novels are told in the present tense from a first-person narrative, so readers experience Kayleigh’s thought processes directly. As to the question of whether Kayleigh is likable or not, well, that’s entirely subjective!

It could be argued that she uses Will to keep a roof over her and Liam’s heads; as a sounding board; as a back-up. However, she really does like him, and feels terrible that she has a tendency to lead him on. And it’s the only way she can see of protecting her son, and surviving herself.

It could be argued that Kayleigh is despicable for betraying her best friend, continuing a clandestine relationship with the lad Cath loves. But again, Kayleigh hates herself for it, simultaneously believing that love is pure and holy, and that if Cath knew what she feels for Adam, she would understand.

It could be argued that if Kayleigh just stopped drinking, and took responsibility for herself, she’d have fewer problems. But Kayleigh is lost. She uses drugs and alcohol as an escape from everything she’s dealing with; also, it’s imbedded in the culture she’s part of. 

It could be argued that Kayleigh is weak and brings everything on herself. But she’s been abandoned by all the people you’d expect to be the ‘rocks’ of your life — parents, family, lover, best friend – and she suffers heinous discrimination and prejudice because of her illness and her spirituality.

Personally, my heart goes out to Kayleigh. She seeks justice for her friend, while raising a child, and being psychologically and physically abused. She’s trying to do her best, and I empathise. However, she’s not infallible. But then, who is …?  


When she was six years old, Morwenna wrote an endless story about a frog, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She’s the author of bestselling noir psychological thrillers, The (D)Evolution of Us, Glasshouse, Underrated and Skin and Bone; has an MA in Creative Writing, and can usually be found down by the sea. Morwenna has several works in progress, and she often thinks about that frog.


 Find Section 17, Morwenna’s newly released collection of poetry at

Isabel Long Mystery Series, Writing

Getting Oh So Closer to the End

Specifically, I mean Missing the Deadline, the next Isabel Long Mystery, number seven in the series. I began this book late last fall and kept at it despite distractions such as working with my editor on The Sacred Dog, holidays, family visits, and personal stuff. You know real life.

My head these days has been filled with what-ifs as I come to the story’s conclusion.

What is Missing the Deadline about? Cyrus Nilsson, aka the Big Shot Poet who first appeared in Checking the Traps, hires Isabel to investigate the shooting of his former literary agent. Gerald Danielson survived what the police ruled an attempted suicide, but he has serious cognitive issues. After overhearing what somebody said at a party though, Cyrus questions whether someone else could be responsible.

Gerald lives with his devoted sister, Wendy, who now runs the literary agency, in a village called Meadows Falls. He has an aide, Miguel. As Isabel delves into this case, she looks for people who might have a reason to shoot Gerald Danielson, and there are definitely suspects, including an ex-wife who writes smutty romance novels and a sci-fi writer who is bold-faced liar. For those following the series, many of my notable characters, like Jack, Isabel’s mother, Annette, the Beaumont brothers, the Old Farts, Dave Baxter, even Lisa, have roles in this one. Of course, I’ve created new characters.

People often ask how I plot my book, and I will admit I don’t. I start with an idea for a mystery and create a lot of possibilities about who could have dunnit as I write. Isabel Long and I solve the case together. At this point, she and I have finally figured it out.

My aim is to make the climax true to the book and hopefully fool readers until the end. 

On Friday, I was fortunate to give a reading at the Arms Library in my village of Shelburne Falls. (Thanks Arms Library.) I was delighted that fans of the series showed up. They were pleased the seventh book is so close to the end. Well, so am I.

When I read a scene from Following the Lead about the Old Farts, those nosy old men who gather in the backroom of the Conwell General Store to gossip, I asked if there could be a similar situation around here. Ah, yes, I got several locations. Ha. I also got two great suggestions: to consider audiobooks and to approach another mystery writer about doing a collaboration. My lips are sealed about who that might be but I do plan to reach out. Another person also suggested having Isabel work on an active case. That’s something to consider.

I have perhaps a thousand words to go in Missing the Deadline. Then, I will print it and give the book a good hard look for holes or where a part needs tightening. I will listen to the book via the mechanical voice in the Read Aloud function of Word. I call him Frank, by the way. Then I will send it to my publisher to see if it meets their approval. I will certainly let you know about that.

By the way, I already have an idea for number eight.

LINK TO MY BOOKS: Here they are on Amazon —

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s a lovely chandelier at the Millicent Library in my hometown of Fairhaven Mass., which I visited recently. The library does carry my books.