Welcome. Toss a blanket down, sit for a while under the willow, relax, and enjoy what's written below.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Halloween is a holiday celebrated on October 31st of each year. Adults and children wear costumes and go trick or treating. Costumes range from the most popular fairy princess of the current year to frightening creatures no one would want to meet in a dark or well-lit alley. Children ask for candy at each door with the familiar yell of “trick or treat” and then invariably eat too much candy on their trek home. It is also a holiday that writers love to add to frightening stories. Why?

Many towns now have their trick or treat celebrations at night. Darkness adds to the story’s eeriness. The idea of everyone wearing a costume including the maniac who lives down the street or a traveling serial killer sets a creepy scene with little backstory needed. The serial killer dons nondescript jeans and a dark sweatshirt. He slips on a scary rubber mask and mingles with the very people he wants to kill. He is anonymous, and others may even enjoy his costume or antics. That is until he chases them with a large butcher knife.

Using Halloween as a backdrop for a story adds a layer to the story before the first words are written. Graveyards and abandoned houses take on a special, scary air about them on Halloween. If ghosts do not walk the grounds every night, they are sure to be there on Halloween. The reader will feel the fear of the holiday before the addition of whatever the writer wants to add. If the writer starts with the idea of something evil happening on Halloween night, the reader is ready to turn on all the lights before the end of page one.

It is what a writer strives for, to hook the reader from the first sentence or paragraph. Horrific tales can and have been woven around other holidays, but it is fun to start with one that carries fear in its name.

Another approach is to start with a sweet Halloween story and then turn it into a paranormal or horror story. Going back to the serial killer who blends in so well with the neighbors. Perhaps he is dressed as a clown and entertaining the kids and adults alike. When one of the young moms disappear from the party without a trace, everyone may point a finger at the clown who has also disappeared. However, no one can describe him/her except for approximate height or weight. 

The beginning of a frightening mystery is set.

Working the holiday into a story is a fun way to add that additional layer sometimes needed to grab the attention of your reader. Try it with different holidays. A clown at Halloween, Santa at a Christmas party, an Easter bunny during an Easter egg hunt, or a villain dressed as a turkey at a community Thanksgiving dinner can strike fear into the reader. Want to add a touch of paranormal? Make your costumed villain a ghost. It works every time.
Happy Writing.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Tale Well Travelled

A Tale Well
Multiple Genre, Interactive Book

Which Path Will You Choose?

Presented By
Susan Horsnell, Kathleen Kelly,
Cherry Shephard, Dzintra Sullivan

and Margaret Tanner


When young archaeology student, Mitchell, discovers some unusual items, while digging up a paddock, he believes it could be a major find.
Following his instinct Mitchell risks his job and refuses to dig any further until Professor Phinneus Groves, the most respected archaeologist from the university gives him the all clear.

Will the find be significant?

What tale do they have to tell?

YOU now sit at the crossroads, YOU are in control, YOU have five unique tales to follow.

Which way will you go?

Which path will you choose?


A Tale Well Travelled

Chapter One

Two more hours and I can get off the damn front loader and go for a beer. Digging dirt for a new housing development is as boring as hell and, after ten straight days
I’ve had a gut full. One more year and I’ll have my Archaeology degree and yep, I’ll still be digging the stuff but it will be a hell of a lot more interesting. Instead of moving dirt from one place to another to add to the never ending concrete jungle, I’ll be moving it to uncover the past.
A flash of white in the long grass catches my eye and I shut off the machine. You can never be too careful on neglected sites where the undergrowth can be as high as three or more feet. It could be an animal, a child hiding from its parents or nothing more than a pile of stones. Whatever it is needs to be checked out. I could never forgive myself if I injured someone.
I jump down from the loader and stride through the grass which waves around me in the wind. I stand six feet four inches tall and the grass reaches my hips. Glimpsing the flash of white again, I warily approach. Pushing the vegetation aside, I find what appears to be a rock formation but it’s not natural. It’s shaped like a small pillar, around a foot high and two inches in diameter. My gut tells me it has been placed here for some specific purpose.
My curiosity is peaked and I crouch down to get a closer look. The rock of the pillar is smooth, weathered white, almost like marble. As the grass is blown by the wind, other pillars are revealed. I stand and examine each one. They are all identical, around the same height and arranged in a semi-circle. I’m intrigued. This is something my professor at University would be interested in having a look at. Pulling my phone from my back pocket, I punch the button for his direct number and wait for his answer.
“Professor, Phinneus Groves.”
“Professor, it’s Mitchell Symons.”
“Mitchell, what can I do for you?”
“As you know, I work a front loader for Dry River Construction Company during my breaks from University and I have uncovered something I think may interest you. It may be nothing, but my gut tells me it could be something of significance.”
“Hmmm, what is it you have found?”
“I was working at clearing the plot out by the old Dry River crossing, the one at the top of the hill that looks out over the river. I’ve found six stone pillars arranged in a semicircle. They’re all around the same height, weathered white and I think they were placed here a long time ago.”
“Are you there now?”
“I’ll meet you in twenty minutes.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
“Symons, what the fuck are you doing?”
Patrick Johnson, my boss, is standing over me as I crouch down having a closer look while waiting for the professor.
“I found these pillars and I think they could be archeologically important. I’ve called my professor from the university.”
Patrick crouches beside me and pushes the grass to one side. “Looks like a bunch of rocks to me. Get on with the job.”
“No, sir. This needs to be investigated. It could have important historical relevance and I will not destroy them until we know for sure.”
“I’ll take it out of your pay and if this land isn’t cleared by tomorrow evening, consider yourself out of work.” Patrick pushes to his feet and storms off. I will not miss that asshole when I finally quit.
I return to examining one of the pillars. I note small indentations and scrape marks and take photos with my phone. I hope this is a finding of some note, it will be disappointing if it proves to be nothing more than some quirk of Mother Nature.



Trailer: Maci Dillon

Cover: Dzintra Sullivan

Teasers: Dzintra Sullivan and Cherry Shephard

Beginning Chapters, Formatting and Published by: Susan Horsnell

Promotion: Cherie Cam from LLEP


Are the stones hold a secret from Mitchell's past?

Does the necklace might hold some magical secret?

Are the pillars are connected to the Dry River MC?
Are the stones could be cursed?

Western/ Native American Indian
Does the strange arrangement of stones have something to do with Native American Indians in the days of the Old West?

 The choice of where to begin is now yours. When one pathway has been read, visit another.
One book.
One Beginning.
Five completely different stories to solve the mystery of the arrangement of stones.
Which story will you believe?
Which story will be your favourite?


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Six Sentence Sunday

The following six sentences are from Chapter One of the next Kellie Conley/Lance Cain mystery, Deadly Wishes, due out fall/winter 2016. 

Detective Stellion’s door flew open, and a young officer rushed in holding a sheet of paper. The door partially hid Kellie, and the officer didn’t take the time to look around before he blurted, “It’s a fax from the coroner. He said he needs to contact all the local dentists about trying to match dental records to the severed head we found in that woman’s freezer.”

A slow smile spread across Kellie’s face.

“Get out,” Mike hollered leaning across his desk toward the officer.

The officer paled.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Six Sentence Sunday

The following is from Chapter One of Sarah’s Heart the next book in the Gentle Falls Mail-Order Bride Romance series. 

Matthew spoke directly to Sarah, "I tried to get another bride and that woman at the agency has the nerve to write and tell me I’m not qualified to be one of her grooms. Me? Not qualified? It’s Penelope’s fault and since she’s married and you’re not, you have to marry me today. I paid for one of her brides, and you’ll do just fine.” He crossed his arms and stared at both women.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Six Sentence Sunday

The following six sentences are from Chapter Three of the third Annie Ryan cozy mystery, Bones, Booze & Bouquets. 

Georgie whistled. “A skeleton, bootleg booze, and now a body. We have a mystery to solve.”
I grabbed her arm. “I think we do, but first, we need to know who died and how. I hope it was natural causes." 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

New Release

New Release and a new genre for me. Meet Penelope and the residents of Gentle Falls, Wisconsin.
Eighteen-year-old Penelope Langton lives a quiet life as a cook for a wealthy family in 1880 Chicago. She’s resigned that her life will remain routine and uneventful. Marriage is the furthest thing from her mind. Her best friend tries to convince her to leave before her employer’s despicable nephew returns for the summer. 

Penelope believes her friend’s plan to become a mail-order bride is foolish. With her friend gone and the family’s nephew’s early arrival, Penelope finds herself fighting for her virtue and looking for employment. 

Will Penelope find a way to freedom and safety by becoming a mail-order bride? A visit to the matchmaker seems her only way out, but will her new life as a bride be more complicated than the life she leaves behind? 

A sweet romance. Steam level=sweet. 

Available on Amazon

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My review of Violated by Carolyn Arnold.

My review of the novel, Violated, by the talented author, Carolyn Arnold. 

Violated may be the fifth in the Brandon Fisher FBI Series, but it is in no way mundane. Ms. Arnold brings back the agents we love in the previous books with the added twist that one may be a killer.

Agent Paige Dawson plans on a vacation with her boyfriend only to come face to face with a horror from her past. Is Paige responsible for the crime she’s accused of committing? Is this a case of wrong place, wrong time or a carefully orchestrated plan of revenge? A local detective latches onto Paige’s possible guilt as if it was a bone and refuses to listen to reason.

Her FBI team intends to get to the bottom of the crime regardless of whether or not Paige is guilty. Will they discover a diabolical killer or a brilliant agent behind the crime?
Ms. Arnold touches on a subject relevant to the times with enough twists and turns to keep any reader turning page after page. The plot rushes forward at a quickening pace and comes to a surprising conclusion. It is one I did not see coming.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a gripping crime novel. 

Available at: Amazon Barnes & NobleAppleKobo

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Six Sentence Sunday

The following six sentences are from Chapter Two of the third Annie Ryan cozy mystery, Bones, Booze & Bouquets. 

“A dead body is a laughing matter?” My handsome fiancĂ© asked. “What is that smell?”

“Bootleg booze.” Georgie was laughing hard enough now that tears ran down her cheeks.

I looked at Clark and said, “I think she’s high from the fumes.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

*New Release* Sinister Awakenings

Kellie and all her friends have returned to fight evil and unravel mysteries in the seventh Kellie Conley mystery. 

New readers, as well as those following Kellie’s adventures, will enjoy this mystery. It is a stand-alone novel. 

Kellie, with the help of Lance, battles an old enemy determined to wreak havoc and kill them both. The spirit has set its sights set on Taylor. Will they save her in time? 

A second spirit battle plunges Lance into a strange mystery surrounding an ancient diary and the horrible spell unleashed. A young woman aids Lance in his investigation. Kellie and friends join them to try and stop the person responsible for the unleashed horror. 

Available on Amazon 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Summer Prescott Interview

Please welcome Summer Prescott, author of the popular Frosted Love cozy mystery series, to the willow tree. Summer has agreed to answer some questions for us. Welcome, Summer. 

What are you currently working on and when do you plan to release your next book?

I’ve been busy, busy, busy lately! I’m continuing to write the adventures of Missy, Chas and the rest of the gang from the Frosted Love series, but have decided to produce them every two weeks 
rather than every week, so that the books will be a bit longer, and I’ll be able to take my time writing them, making characters and situations more intense and richly detailed.

In addition to writing the new Missy and Chas series, entitled The INNcredibly Sweet Series, I’m also publishing the work of two up-and-coming authors in the Cozy genre, and am currently in 
negotiations with a third writer for future projects in Children’s Mystery.

Book 2 of The INNcredibly Sweet Series has just been released, and I’m looking forward to receiving Book 7 from Patti Benning in the next week or so.

Do you have a favorite genre for your writing or do you write whatever moves you?

I love writing in multiple genres. Cozy is fun – I always seem to become great friends with my characters – and I’ve been predominantly writing in the Cozy genre for more than a year, but I’m working toward expanding into a more intense Mystery/Thriller realm, with books that are more in line with works by Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I don’t think that I’ll leave Cozy behind, but will most likely divide my time between the two genres.

In my “free time” (which has been in short supply lately), I write commercial fiction and even dabble a bit in poetry.

What is the best piece of advice you were given about writing?

I think, actually, that I read the best piece of advice about writing in a quote from Stephen King, 

“Write, write, write.” That, for me, really sums it up. I’ve found, both on the writing side of things as well as the publishing side, the writers who are successful, are the ones who actually make the time to write, and write, and write some more. My own writing has evolved significantly since I wrote my first Cozy (thankfully), and I really believe that it’s because I’ve been cranking out a book per week for a year – that’s a lot of practice!

The second piece of advice that I try to live by as a writer is to have a thick skin when reading reviews. I evaluate reviews by first looking at what I can learn from them. I ask myself if it’s valid criticism, and if so, I strategize as to what I can do to fix the issue(s). As every writer knows, there are plenty of trolls out there, trying to do harm by posting awful reviews. I’ve learned that if someone says something that personally attacks the writer, or our intelligence, it’s best to just shake it off and move on. Constructive criticism should be just that – constructive. If there’s nothing to be learned from a nasty review, take a breath, shrug your shoulders, and get back to writing.

Do you have a special spot where you like to write or are you a “have lap top will travel” writer?

Both. I’ve written at airports, in hotels, and in foreign countries, but my favorite spaces are on my comfy couch and (blushes), sitting on my bed. I love cranking up the fireplace while I write.

What is your favorite book and favorite author?

That’s an impossible choice, lol. Here’s a handful…Stephen King, Dean Koontz, JR Ward, Mary Higgins Clark (her earlier stuff), the classics (sisters Bronte, etc…), and Idaho wilderness author, Patrick McManus, just to name a few. Yes, my tastes are all over the place, and I’m obviously not opposed to reading just for the sheer entertainment, even if it’s not literary art.

When did you discover your passion for writing?

I think I wrote my first poem at age five, and never looked back. Seriously, I’ve loved writing my entire life.

Do you have a favorite beverage or snack you must have while writing?

COFFEE!!! Too many times I get into a groove and forget to eat. When I’m really on a roll, I’ll grab a handful of pretzel crisps and call it good.

What inspires you?

Everything! People, places, news stories, Facebook memes…I look at everything with an eye trained toward story potential. I also have an amazing muse with whom I can toss ideas around, and explore storylines and characters.

Do you have a favorite vacation destination and do you write while vacationing?

I go to the Caribbean every winter, and while I do use some of that time to figure out storylines and character development, I don’t do any writing, other than to jot down my ideas.

Do you have any advice for other writers on any subject you choose?

EDITING!!!! It’s so disheartening to see new writers, who tell a darn good story, held back because of deficiencies in grammar, spelling, tenses, and other technical aspects of writing. I’ve seen books where the story was good, but it was edited so poorly (or not at all) that I couldn’t get through it. Also…as well as write, write, write, make sure that you read, read, read.

Any last thoughts you would like to add?

Probably the most important thing that I can say about writing is that it should make the reader feel something. When a reader picks up a book, they’re not just killing time, they’re looking for an experience. That experience may be pure entertainment, but that often involves making them laugh with delight, or cry in anguish. When I’m done with a book, I want the reader to care about my characters as much as I do. I hear the voices of my characters in my head, and can mimic Missy’s southern accent. I stop to cry sometimes, and occasionally crack myself up when I write, and I’m perfectly okay with that. People and relationships are what life is about, and even in the context of a mystery, if we don’t feel anything about the people and relationships in the book…what’s the point of reading?

Contact me via email at:

Follow me on Twitter: @summerprescott1

Find my Book Catalog on my blog:

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Sweet Taste of the Paranormal

In 1812, the Brothers Grimm published their book of fairy tales. One of the famous tales is that of young Hansel and Gretel. Two children are drawn into danger by the sweet taste of a gingerbread house owned by a wicked witch. The witch’s favorite meal is children.

Snow White, also a fairy tale included in the book published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, has become another classic story. In 1937, Walt Disney released the animated version. The evil queen and Snow White’s step-mother disguises herself as an old woman who offers Snow White a perfect, sweet red apple.

The Brothers Grimm used fairy tales to teach lessons. These two fairy tales teach the lesson of being wary of strangers. However, Hansel and Gretel overcome their captor and escape. Walt Disney’s beautiful film shows the poison of the apple overcome by love’s true kiss. A thread of the paranormal and sweet treats runs through both fairy tales.

In today’s world, the paranormal is found in many books, movies, and television stories. In the CWs television show Supernatural (I must add that I am a huge fan having seen each episode at least twice and some three or more,) the same thread used by the Brothers Grimm runs through an episode in which a young woman who loves to bake cupcakes is cursed by a jealous witch. She finishes frosting her beautiful golden cupcakes with pink frosting and takes a bite. Her face shows the bliss of the taste of the cake. Her second bite causes her face to contort as she looks at the cupcake in her hand. Blood pours from the cupcake and in its center, she sees a beating heart. Poisoned, she drops to the floor only to be saved in the nick of time by the Winchester brothers. Once again, a sweet treat is to blame.

These are fairy tales and a television series. Each has used the paranormal, witches to be exact, in their plot lines. Is there any link to reality? Husbands who have tried or succeeded in poisoning their wives and vice-versa have often used a sweet tasting poison added to the lemonade or glass of sweet red wine. What about the paranormal twist in all of this? While these poisonings may have been rooted in reality, they can be turned and twisted into delightful paranormal stories.

Magic potions, secret spells, strange plants, mysterious shops selling items only found during the midnight hour can be written into your paranormal story. A drop or two of a sweet concoction added to any sweet food or drink could do numerous things to the person unfortunate enough to consume it. The limit is in the mind of the writer. One person could be done away with or a plague of zombies created.

Enjoy giving your victims a sweet treat, but be careful that someone does not return the favor. Have fun with the possibilities.
Happy Writing!  

Information and dates for this article were found on
Image obtained from   

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Six Sentence Sunday

 The following six sentences are from Chapter Five of the seventh Kellie Conley paranormal mystery, Sinister Awakenings.

I know you have an idea what you will face, but Kellie sees more than she shares with anyone. She has felt the depth of Thomas’ evil. She saw the dark hollow that is his soul. You must get her to share all she knows and feels with you. If you are not prepared, the two of you will not win. Thomas will kill you both and then go after his prize…Taylor. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Six Sentence Sunday

The following six sentences are from Chapter Four of the seventh Kellie Conley paranormal mystery, Sinister Awakenings.

Molly, the missing girl, has red hair. Thomas loves red hair. Remember what happened to Taylor? I have a gut feeling and Lance and Claudia agree that Thomas killed her. Then he kept Travis unconscious until he decided to cause more havoc. Thomas woke him and forced Travis to kill himself.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Stuck-Up Governess by Susan Horsnell.

Today I am pleased to share book information from an author I discovered two months ago. I began reading the American Mail-Order Bride Series in November 2015 and loved each book. One of my favorites was Cora: Bride of South Dakota by Susan Horsnell. Since then I have read more of Susan's books and found each enjoyable. I'm happy to introduce you today to Susan's book The Stuck-Up Governess. I'm sure you will also find it an enjoyable read. 

~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~

Charlotte Campbell is a beautiful 22 year old who has spent her life, since the age of 6, in boarding school in Boston. She has been raised as a lady and taught to keep her nose in the air and her manners impeccable. Neither her mother nor her father wanted her at home and her father didn’t want her at all!
When her mother passes she returns to the family home in Tulsa in the hopes she can stay and care for her father. Her father has other ideas and Charlotte is forced to leave.
When she answers an advertisement as a Governess on a ranch outside Fort Stockton her life becomes all that she’s dreamed until an unwelcome visitor snatches her from the man that she loves.
The race is on for Charlotte to be found before she perishes in a dark cave outside Lambert! Will Harrison find the stuck up governess he has fallen in love with?

“Do ya know where ya luggage is?” Harrison asked Charlotte.
“I have five large trunks that the guard said would be placed in the luggage room to await collection” Charlotte explained.
“Five! Lucky I brought the buckboard then ma’am. Let’s go see if we can find ‘em”
Harrison took Charlotte’s arm by the elbow to lead her to where her trunks should be but Charlotte shook his hand free. “I am quite capable of walking without your help thank you” she told Harrison primly.
Harrison; usually a gentle, easy going man; became annoyed at her attitude. “As ya wish ma’am” he said and strode on ahead. Charlotte had to almost run to keep up and she arrived at the luggage room out of breath.
She noticed her trunks stacked against the wall. “Those are mine” she pointed out as she attempted to catch her breath.
Harrison nodded and, leaving her standing in the middle of the room, he walked over to talk with the porter. “Could ya please ask ya men if they could help me get them five trunks onto me buckboard out front?”
“Certainly sir” the porter replied and called over three of his men.
The trunks were loaded and Harrison gave the porter and his men a few coins for their help before he went in search of Charlotte. He found her sitting on a chair in the far corner of the room and walked over to her.
“Ma’am; if’n ya ready ya luggage is loaded and the buckboard’s out front”
Charlotte nodded and stood up. She noticed Harrison begin to reach out his arm to escort her out to the front but he quickly thought better of it, lowered his arm, and walked out of the building. Charlotte was beginning to regret being so rude.
Charlotte followed Harrison as fast as she could and by the time she got out front she saw him sitting on the seat of the buckboard with the reins in his hands. She walked over and, lifting her skirts, she attempted to climb in. She lifted one leg and bounced on the other but she just couldn’t seem to get her skirts out of the way to get up onto the seat. Before she knew what was happening she lost her balance, and with a loud thud, she landed on her backside in the dust.
Harrison watched with amusement as Charlotte attempted to climb into the buckboard but he knew any offer to help her would probably be rejected so he stayed where he was. When she landed on her backside in the dust; it took all of his control not to burst into laughter. He watched as she sat with a stunned look on her face and then burst into tears.
“Would ya like some help Miss Campbell?” he asked gently.
“Yes please” she sobbed as she sat in the dust. Harrison quickly jumped down from his seat and went to her side. He lifted her up from the ground like she weighed no more than a feather and held her to him as she sobbed.
“I’m sorry Mr Tate. I’m tired, I’m dirty, I’m hungry and I’m scared” Charlotte confessed through her tears.
Harrison pushed her back and looked down into her face. “Let’s get ya to the ranch and ya can have a bath, somethin’ to eat and a sleep” He placed his fingers under her chin and tilted her face up to look at him. “Ya have nothin’ to be scared of here I promise ya” He took a handkerchief from his pocket and began wiping away her tears. “Ya ready to go?”
Charlotte nodded and he lifted her up onto the seat of the waiting buckboard. He climbed in beside her, lifted the reins and set off towards the ranch; Charlotte’s new home.

I grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney in the 50's and 60's and have always been a fan of Cowboys, Indians and Outlaws.

During my years as a nurse I would write down ideas and when I retired five years ago I finally published my first book - The Glenmore's: Revenge. This developed into a four part series.

Since then I have published a further eleven Western Romance books and one contemporary. My westerns are set in Texas, USA during the 19th century and my contemporary in Sydney, Australia. 

When I am not writing I enjoy walking our dogs with my husband and travelling.

#Western Romance #Governess #Wild West