Darrell and MidSouth Con – Carolyn

Phyllis Appleby and I spent Saturday afternoon and evening at the local Hilton Hotel for the first day of MidSouthCon35, the local fantasy/sci/fy convention. She and I were both nominated as finalists in their contest for the Darrell award in the short story category, and as such were on a panel with the other finalists for novels and novellas. The con was orderly chaos, although the panel went really well. Those who attended seemed to enjoy it.

I worried about what to wear since we would be going from doing the con stuff during the day to the awards banquet at night. I needn’t have worried. Half the people there were in costume as everything from Jedi knights to vampires to fairies and elves to you-name-it because–I-have-no idea-what-you-represent. It is a giant con that runs from Friday night through Sunday afternoon with merchandise that runs from very expensive art to very inexpensive chochkes. Everyone seemed to be having a blast.

I have never been to one before. I’ve been to a bunch of writers’ conventions, of course, but nothing like this. I have never before had to duck under lit light sabers to reach the ladies’ room, nor narrowly miss stepping on the White Rabbit’s paws. I’ve never seen so many BatMans—or Bat Men—in one place, and all wearing what looked like real Hollywood quality costumes. I decided not to buy a set of elf ears. You have to attach them with spirit gum which a. smells, and b. hurts when you pull it off.

Anyway, it was great fun. It’s always fun to talk about writing. It’s also good to know that whether through Kindle or Nooks or through printed books, there are still plenty of people out there reading.

I do not normally read sify or Steam Punk. I simply don’t know much about it. I do, however, like witches and magic and vampires. I do not do zombies—except for Sean of the Dead, which hardly counts. I think I’m going to be forced to broaden my horizons since the books of the other Darrell finalists on our panel sounded truly interesting.

Phyllis Appleby and I were the two finalists in the short story category. Both stories came from the Malice in Memphis Ghost Story anthology. We didn’t even know our publisher, Dark Oak Press, had submitted them to the contest. It really is extremely cool to be nominated whatever the outcome. In this case, however, the outcome was great. Phyllis took second place, and I won. I hope that Dark Oak Press is pleased with us.

Small presses are really doing wonderful work keeping new authors and new topics out there for the reading public. Large publishers tend to stick to publishing safe books that they hope are slam dunks for the New York Times bestseller lists. That’s pretty limiting. And it doesn’t work. A whole lot of publishers turned down the Harry Potter books, and there are a bunch of other books that almost never saw the light of day except for a gutsy publisher who took a chance.

Anyway, I am grateful to Dark Oak Press for backing our Malice in Memphis anthologies, and to the other small and large presses who continue to take chances. Long may they print.


To Grandmother’s house I go…

In 1989, when my husband and I bought a five-acre parcel in the Sierra foothills not far from Yosemite National Park, my mother, who had been a widow for two years, decided she wanted to be closer to family so she bought the five-acre parcel next door. My hubby, a general contractor, built her a sweet little two-bedroom two-bath home as soon as he finished our big house.

“Grandma’s” was a favorite spot for kids and grandkids. Mom enjoyed it for many years, until she stopped driving. Then the country became a bit too isolated. We helped her rent the house and move into a Senior Living center. Eventually, we bought the house and built my husband a new shop on the property. Our son and his family lived in it for ten years. But in January, Jon-Paul bought his first home in nearby Mariposa–a fixer-upper that his dad helped remodel. We are celebrating that wonderful accomplishment at his HOUSEWARMING tomorrow!

With Mom’s house empty, I saw my chance to DOWNSIZE! New paint, new flooring, recessed cans…my poor hubby went from one remodeling project to another. But he’s a great sport and he loves me and this house is closer to his shop… ;-)

Here are a couple of BEFORE shots. Next Friday (if I’m done moving), I’ll send you the AFTER.


In addition to this move, I just typed THE END on my NEW book, BLACK HILLS LEGACY: The Inheritance.


I’m so excited about this book. It was great to re-visit my Black Hills series and reconnect with some of my favorite characters. I can’t wait to share this with you. Release date: April 18. I’ll have all the preorder information next week, along with a sneak peek excerpt.

On another fun note, the creative geniuses at Tule have helped to shine the spotlight on three books that sort of fell off the Big Sky Mavericks series flagship. We’ve rebranded these titles and given them their own series flash: Love, Montana. More about this later, too.

Love, Montana

Click on the image to check out these great new covers.

There’s paint to watch dry, boxes to pack and a new Love at the Chocolate Shop book to write, so…it’s off to Grandma’s house I go.

Have a great weekend, my friends! Happy reading!



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chaos rains (as opposed to reigns) – Carolyn

I look out my front door and see little yellow ranunculus (my least favorite flower in the entire world) invading my pitiful flowerbeds and my pastures. According to the German dressage people, they are poisonous to horses. Since horses never eat them, however, it doesn’t really matter. I just hate the way it crowds out all the good stuff. The pastures are also being overrun with purple clover, which I am informed is not clover at all but some sort of wild other non-clover thing. Just shows you how much I know about flowers. I can identify many of the poisonous ones—lilly of the valley being one of my favorite, right up there with hemlock, the poison that killed Socrates. The African violet that one of our more horticultural (and optimistic) members of Malice in Memphis gave me a couple of months ago is not only still alive, but still thriving. That is a miracle. Rappacini’s daughter, whose very touch in the garden killed whatever she touched, has nothing in me. As I have noted in the past, I can kill philodendron. Also Mother-in-law’s tongue. Both are supposed to be indestructible. But a corollary to Murphy’s law is that whenever God makes something indestructible, we manage to make a more efficient destroyer.

On that note, the book is going well, so my house looks as though that destroyer has had a high old time rampaging through it. My bed is not even made. I NEVER leave my bed unmade. I discovered in college that a room where the bed is made looks relatively straight, even if it’s not. A straight room with an UNMade bed, however, looks messy even if you could safely eat off the floor or show your closets to strangers. So, no writing this afternoon. Dusting and picking up and vacuuming and…oh yuck! I’d rather sit on the patio with my Ipad and read mysteries on Kindle. Which is probably what I’ll end up doing eventually. I may also go groom horses. Or even—wait for it—pull a few weeds out of the flower beds.

But don’t hold your breath.


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Happy St. Patty’s Day – celebrate with a new romance!

The corned beef is in the crockpot. The cabbage is large, crisp and looking pretty. The carrots were freshly picked by my granddaughters from my neighbor’s organic truck farm (Yes, I do live in paradise.) And I even bought Guinness. :-) Who else is ready to party?

St. Patricks Day dog

I’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s Day for as long as I can remember, but I don’t remember why?

imgresMaybe to honor Bridget O’Brien — my great-great grandmother? Somehow that seems unlikely.

imgresMaybe because it’s starting to feel like spring? The green grass is ready for mow #3.

imgresMaybe because I never think to buy corned beef any other time of the year?

I really don’t know. Why do you celebrate this odd holiday on March 17th?

Regardless of the motivation, I do have a special WAY to celebrate. I plan to finish reading CHARMED BY CHOCOLATE by Steena Holmes. I started it last night and I must say…I am charmed.

charmed by chocolate cover

When Leah ran off to Southern California, she hoped to leave freezing cold winters and unrequited love behind. She was never meant for a small town life and the timing with her longtime best friend–and secret soul mate–was always hopelessly off.

But after a mishap on the hit reality show Charming, Leah declares her love for Wade nationwide and is publicly dubbed “Lonely Leah.” She returns to Marietta to hide at her family’s home–from the media who wants to turn her into a human interest story, from the townspeople upset with her blunder, and most of all, from Wade, who wants to talk.

It took Leah leaving town to wake Wade Burns up to the reality that he’s head over heels in love with his best friend. But now that she’s back home, she’s giving him the cold shoulder. With chocolate and a grand gesture, can Wade charm his way back into Leah’s heart?


It’s garnering delicious reviews. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.


“I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a second chance romance. Leah has returned home to Marietta, which she never wanted to return to, after embarrassing moment on a reality tv show to lick her wounds. Wade has never left Marietta and has always loved Leah. Their timing has always been off in the romance department but now he has one more chance to move his love with chocolate and fun things to do around Marietta. The whole town is rooting for this couple.

This was great addition to the Chocolate Shop stories. Many laugh out moments through the story. Plenty of chocolate and home made goodies that will leave you hungry. I highly recommend this book along with the rest of the series. Can be read as a stand alone.”

~ Shari, Goodreads Review

Happy St. Patty’s Day, my friends!