JULY

CELEBRATING THRILLERS

07/11 – Matt Buchman, Action-Adventure Thrillers

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Villain I Love to Hate by Lynn Lovegreen

I don’t read a lot of books with stereotypical villains who laugh demonically and have evil plans to take over the world. But I know one villain I love to hate: Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Like many villains, Lady Catherine sees herself as the heroine of her story. She does what she thinks is right, for herself and her family. But her arrogance and prejudice make her a great opponent for our real heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. Lady Catherine has arranged for her daughter to marry Mr. Darcy. She also finds Elizabeth’s family too far below Mr. Darcy’s status and Elizabeth herself to be too outspoken. That sets up a great conflict.

Lady Catherine and Elizabeth are both strong, intelligent, women. Part of the fun of reading this novel is watching them trade verbal barbs. Here’s an example:

Lady Catherine comes to Elizabeth’s home to dissuade her from marrying Mr. Darcy. At one point she says, “…I have not been used to submit to any person’s whims. I have not been in the habit of brooking disappointment.”

Elizabeth replies, “That will make your ladyship’s situation more pitiable; but it will have no effect on me.” 

In the end, Lady Catherine’s efforts backfire. Not only does Elizabeth refuse Lady Catherine's demand to promise not to say yes to Mr. Darcy, but Lady Catherine's telling him about it makes his resolve stronger. He says to Elizabeth, “Lady Catherine’s unjustifiable endeavours to separate us, were the means of removing all my doubts.” True love prevails—yay!!!

My favorite movie portrayal of Lady Catherine de Bourgh is by Dame Judi Dench in the 2005 version (with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden). Which movie version of Pride and Prejudice do you like best?



Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for over fifty years. After twenty years in the classroom, she retired to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult historical fiction is set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Villains & Enemies; Seen & Unseen


The essence of a successful suspense story is a great villain. Intelligent and charismatic, plus enough of a sociopath to engage in single-minded pursuit of his or her goal no matter what. In a really good story, the villain is on the page, hiding in plain sight, and yet invisible to both the reader and the protagonist. The villain should also be a chameleon, changing its MO periodically to challenge even the most persistant protagonist.

A great villain leaves the poor protagonist stumbling in their wake. In fact, sometimes litterally stumbling over the ever-growing pile of dead bodies. Nothing can be done to identify the villain, much less bring him/her/it under control.

The folks manning the 2020 writer's room deserve a major award for their creation. In Covid-19, they crafted the perfect villain archetype. The only thing missing from the list of villain characteristics is intelligence. The virus has no brain, but that doesn't really matter. It knows how to get the job done. As for charisma - well, who will ever forget that circular shape with the cones sticking out all over the surface? Ever. 

No one ever said the villain of a story had to be a human being? Certainly not the English teachers who forced us to read The Old Man And The Sea. The first single-celled organism turned villain I remember came in The Andromeda Strain. I found Andromeda more terrifying than Hannibal Lector could ever hope to be, worse than Dracula or even Godzilla. Maybe because even then, the idea of a microorganism capable of killing every human being didn't seem impossible. Plus, the idea of a team of doctors and scientists saving the world felt cool to the young scientist in me. Plus, the villain pretty much killed everyone.

That was Andromeda's fatal flaw. It's kill rate was too close to 100%. Death was nearly instantaneous, too. It wiped out an entire town withing minutes, leaving only two survivors, an elderly man and a crying baby. Those deaths were enough to make the super-competant US government quarantine the entire area and send in a crack team of scientists. Characters treated a possible pandemic with the respect it deserved. Don't laugh.

The 2020 writers have crafted a superior virus villain. Covid plays with it's victims. Some die within days, others weeks or even months. Some survive with long-term illnesses. Covid doesn't care. It has one goal, to make more little Covids.  Writers interested in making a sociopath for a villain would do well to use this virus as a template. It doesn't hate humanity, it simply doesn't care. And it perfectly exploits humans who don't care either.

Covid is a pure predator. Like lions or wolves or sharks, predators begin by seeking out the weakest members of a group, the easy kills. JAWS, a true story of suspense, began with a shark pursuing a swimmer. As graceful as she appeared to othe human beings, to the charks eye she appeared to be a fish in distress. Covid is more dedicated to it's single task than the shark from Jaws. Truely hateable and yet unforgettable.

Like other predators, once the low hanging fruit is consumed, Covid graduates to stronger, more resistant prey. It's not a coincidence that the 2020 writers introduced a mutation into Covid to make it more infectuous. with the vulnerable, eldery and those with preexisting conditions either already infected or isolating themselves, the new and improved virus now infects the young and healthy who once thumbed their noses at the danger it present. It also goes after children, showing new symptoms that made our protagonists, the dedicated hospital staff, fear they had something new on their hands at first. In Jaws, the shark eventually tackles on an entire boat. We still have to wait and see what the writers have up their sleeves for Covid to do next.

And we have to deal with a subplot. In the real world, Covid is being assisted by human henchmen who prefer to believe it's no big deal. That's where a villain's ability to keep itself invisible comes in handy. People can argue about the strength of an invisible enemy. Some can claim its unimportant, and even if it exists at all. This not only allows the villain to claim new victims, but interferes with the protagonists attempts to track it down. In Die For Me, Author Karen Rose crafts a covid-like villain who is right there on page one, offering his victim water for his dry throat, so the poor man would be able to scream really loud when the torture began.  The villain can hardly believe he never realized the evil in this ordinary man. Halfway into the book, readers realize this villain is all over the pages, and neither we not the protagonists recognize him as a danger even as the body count rises. He's clever and accomplished enough that even his victims lend him grudged respect before they die.

The real problem with a villain built on the Covid-19 archetype is figuring out how anyone possessing less than super powers can defeat them.

Oh dear, I hope the 2020 writers' have that part figured out. We don't need a Neverending Story this year.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Happy Chocolate Day! *throws confetti

National Brownie Day isn’t until December 8th but who can wait that long? This treasured holiday should be celebrated more than once a year, in my opinion. Does anyone eat brownies only once a year? Besides, today is Chocolate Day so you’re not really breaking any rules.
Also, I have visions of a brownie sundae dancing in my head because summer = ice cream and what goes better with ice cream than a yummy brownie? 
There are two camps when it comes to brownie texture – fudgey and dense, or lighter and more cake-like. I fall in…both camps. I confess that I more-often-than-not bake a fudgey brownie but I wouldn’t refuse a cakey brownie if offered one. (Full disclosure, I won’t refuse any sweet baked good. And if it’s chocolate, there had better be another portion with my name on it.)
Here’s the recipe for brownies I make most often. Actually, this is the brownie recipe in my recipe box. Super easy and super chocolatey. Quite often…ah, most of the time…erm…all the time I put icing (frosting) on these babies. Vanilla icing is good. Vanilla icing with the addition of finely grated orange zest and a few tablespoons of orange juice instead of milk or cream is even better. (Makes a chocolate-orange kind of flavour – yum!)

Cocoa Brownies (adapted from Bon Appetit)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups white sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat over to 325F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a one-inch overhang, pressing firmly into corners, and spray with non-stick oil spray.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. With a spatula or wooden spoon stir in white sugar and cocoa powder until blended (sugar will not melt). Remove from heat, stir in salt and vanilla. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then stir in eggs, beating well. Stir in flour and chocolate chips (and pecans if using). Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until centre is set.
Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack. Using edges of parchment, lift from pan and cut into squares. Makes 16 (for normal people) Makes 8 in our house - ha!

Are you a fudgey brownie or a cakey brownie person?

Cheers!
N.B. If I’m absolutely positive the majority of the brownies will be eaten as a component of a sundae, then I won’t bother with the icing because, I mean, that would be excessive, right?

(A previous version of this blog post first appeared in December, 2017.)

Monday, July 6, 2020

Face-to-Face or Podcasts by Paty Jager

I couldn't think of anything to write about this month's topic on villains. I write villains in my mystery series, but they are the murderers and not always a villain other than the one act they do to take a person's life.

Instead, I thought I'd rather talk about how things have changed since the discovery of Covid-19. I had several book signings and conferences I had planned to attend this year. They have all been cancelled. Some have taken to the internet. A couple of the conferences are going to try and do some online workshops with the Guests of Honor authors who had been slated for the conferences. With my iffy internet, I'll try one and see how that works.

The only way I can get internet, because I live so rural, is by satellite. Some days it works great, some days it flicks on and off a hundred times a day. The days I'm writing and might need to do some research, it's not so bad.  But the days I'm trying to upload a book to an ebook vendor, or a print book website, or listen to audio chapters by my narrator and there are that many glitches, it can be a pain.

The other thing that has changed- many authors are signing up for podcasts with podcasts hosts as a way to speak to readers without going to a book signing event. I've done this twice so far.

Did I mention my internet isn't the greatest? Both podcasts have a lag time between the hosts questions and my answers. There isn't a lot I can do about it other than rethink doing podcasts.


Here is the link to the first podcast with Alexandra Amor on It's a Mystery Podcast; On this one I read a chapter from my book and answer questions. Here is the link to the website were you can download the podcast in several different places like Apple podcasts, Android, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Tunein, and Spotify.

https://alexandraamor.com/mysteries-in-the-mountains-with-paty-jager/


The second most recent podcast was with Cynthia Brian on Be The Star You Are. She highlights writers for 15 minutes on her Wednesday podcasts. She talks about dealing with negativity the first 15 minutes, then interviews me about my latest release Fox Goes Hunting.

https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/124087/fox-goes-hunting-managing-anxiety-organizing-and-decluttering

While I enjoy speaking with people about my books, I'm nto a fan of speaking on the phone, which is what I had to do for the second one. I figured out afterwards, the computer didn't work correctly because of something I did. At least I will no better if I sign on to do another podcast.

I keep thinking I want to do videos for my blog, but I never take the time to sit down and figure it out.

Do you like hearing from authors about their books via things like podcasts? Or would you rather see them in a video? I know better yet would be in person, but I think it's going to be a while before we can have conferences and book signings.

I hope you enjoy the podcasts if you listen to them.

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 46 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. This is what Books a Plenty Book Reviews has to say about the Gabriel Hawke series: "The blend of nature tracking, clues, and the animals makes for a fascinating mystery that is hard to put down."

Friday, July 3, 2020

Do you believe in evil?


Hi, I’m Judith Ashley, author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, soul nourishing romantic women’s fiction that honors pagan spiritual practices. My stories show you what life could be like if you had a place like The Circle where you are unconditionally accepted, supported and loved. And where, with this support, you do overcome obstacles and find your happily-ever-after.
The Blog Queens work out the topics and themes for the next year several months in advance thus they (we) may pick a topic/theme that is a bit more challenging to write about in the moment.

July’s theme “The villain you love to hate” is appropriate if one wants to write about fictional characters however, as I write this post (06/25/2020) hate-filled emotions, hate-filled language and hateful actions abound. And from my perspective, and I do see villains, hating them does not serve me, their victims or society at large.

While there is a belief that people are born evil, in my 50+ years of working in the social services and educational fields, that has not been my experience.

My experience is that when we are fearful of losing physical life, status in the hierarchy of our family, community, employment, control of our situation or others (this is a partial list), we have a choice to make. We can hang on to the fear and use it to justify our actions or we can stop, assess what’s really going on in terms of our fear and look for a solution that benefits us all.

I’ve no statistics to back up this next statement – only personal and professional experiences.

All anger is fear-based and it comes from something we want to gain or retain that is at risk.

Take a moment and the next time you feel frustrated, upset, irritated or even angry or in a rage, STOP. What is it you fear? It could be you are being physically threatened. It also could be that your view of yourself and even your place in the world is being threatened.

Do you know why your ancestors immigrate to North America? My maternal ancestors came on the second boat from England. They sought religious freedom. By DNA I’ve more non-England ancestry so my ancestors most likely invaded England in 1066. I’ve also some Irish as a great grandmother emigrated from Ireland in the late 1800’s. I thought I was mainly Danish on my paternal side of the family. But my DNA said “No, you are mainly Swedish!” Looks like 500 or so years ago there was a major influx of Swedes into Denmark.

It is difficult to develop wise-compassion if you don’t know the whole story. Every real life villain I’ve known or read about had choices to make. Their choices were rooted in I’m More Important/What I want is More  Important Than You. And I must dehumanize/demonize you in order to get or keep what I want and deserve to have.

Since early times, before Judao/Christian/Muslim religions, collaboration, the good of the whole, was how we human beings worked together and how we worked with the environment in which we lived. Of course our survival depended on us using our talents, skills and community to best advantage.

What changed?

Weaponry that had been used to kill the meat for the next meal was turned against other humans. Life was no longer revered as it was in the olden times. Collaboration was turned to joining forces to better defeat another group. The concept of creating a community structure that benefited everyone was lost.

If you are interested in being in more control of your life, I encourage you to take a look at my book Staying Sane in a Crazy World or check out the Glasser Institute for Choice Theory (GIFCT) website for resources.

It will take some effort on your part including being honest with yourself (not always easy), but you can be in control of your life, your feelings and find a hate-free (which means fear-free) path for yourself.

You can find all of my books at your favorite e-book vendor. Be sure to ask your local library if you’d prefer to read my books through that resource.

Learn more about Judith's The Sacred Women’s Circle series at JudithAshleyRomance.com

Follow Judith on Twitter: JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

You can also find Judith on FB! 



© 2020 Judith Ashley

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Can I love a Villain? by Dora Bramden

Lately, I’ve been working on a book with a couple of villains, it’s challenged me to work out how to make them believable and unearth their motives. At this point, there’s one that doesn’t change their ways but the other one does when they learn that they are their own worst enemy. This is the character that has me intrigued. I’m even considering the idea of giving them their own book.

The most outstanding facet of a villain’s character is their disconnect from empathy for others. They lack the ability to validate someone else needs, particularly when it is competing with their plots and plans. As this is fairly abhorrent but if there is a human side to them, I find I can be a bit sympathetic.

I can feel a bit sorry when a villain just doesn’t get that caring about others is actually a way to feel really good about yourself. Instead villains chase after self-esteem or approval through underhanded methods that never deliver a real sense of achievement and pride in themselves. But they don’t know any different so they keep making the same mistakes.

When a villain has an epiphany and starts to change, I can feel for them. The bully who learned his behavior from a bullying father evokes sympathy. Of course, it doesn’t excuse the behavior but if I understand it I can connect with the villain. But in the case where there seems to be no human motive, I find nothing to connect me to the character and I cannot feel any sympathy, I’m hoping like anything they get taken down.

 In the movie called No Country For Old Men, there are villains galore.  I can sympathize with all but one. This killer has absolutely no ability to connect with others. Nothing gets in the way of his job, innocent people are blown away if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. This guy doesn’t get my sympathy at all. He doesn’t display any humanity and keeps going like a robot or machine.

Perhaps a villain has been born without the ability to empathize or was so mistreated in childhood that they lost it or didn’t get to develop it. I want them to grow, I want them to find it somehow. In a movie called Hit Man, the villain is raised in an orphanage that raises contract killers. The lead character’s humanity is stripped from him, not even having a name, just called by a number. But he falls in love. He knows he’s ill-equipped to have a proper relationship with her but he uses all his ability to keep her safe. , He turns from a villain into a hero because he loves her.

In the story, I’m currently working on, I have to think about why the villains are uncaring and hurtful. Power is one of the key desires of villains. One of them feels power is his right and uses it selfishly. The other feels powerless and bands with the other to gain it. I want them to redeem themselves and discover that they have had it all wrong and become careful and caring people because this is the kind of villain I love, but only one of them will, the other is too entrenched in his view of how the world works.

A villain that doesn’t care about anyone but themselves and keeps being a full-on villain no matter what the reason is one I can’t wait to see brought down.  It’s not easy to admit you’re wrong and accept responsibility for your mistakes. I can admire someone who does.  Jamie from Game of Thrones started out an entitled, selfish, killer. Through falling in love with a woman who modeled a virtuous life he came to see his faults and endeavored to be a better person. A villain who tries to do the right thing even though they fail will be one I can love.


Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, contemporary romance.

Follow on:

Dora’s Amazon Author Page

Instagram @dorabramden

Facebook Dora Bramden Author Page

 

Or Visit Dora's website www.dorabramden.com


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

He Who Shall Be Praised




By Robin Weaver

Without a doubt, Voldemort is my favorite villain (at least this week).  While he’s in good company – Mr. Hyde, the Jaws Shark, Becky Sharpe, Alexis Carrington, Jeanine from Divergence—the Dark Lord easily edges the competition into trivial backstory. I mean, come on, the man (critter, snake, demon) has it all. He possesses every single characteristic of a good villain:

A.   First and foremost, The Dark Lord has a great backstory.  Who can’t sympathize with a poor little orphan whose mommy croaked and Muggle dad, despising all things magic, ran for the hills? Even with the humblest of beginnings, Voldey (aka Tom Riddle back then) excels at Hogwarts Academy, becoming, Head Boy and receiving a Medal for Magical Merit. One could successfully argue if Dumbledore had given Tom the same support he heaped on Harry Potter, Voldemort might have been the hero of the story—of course there’d been no story, but that’s another…em, tale.
B.   He’s both handsome… And butt ugly.  As Tom Riddle, he’s a real cutie, but as He Who Stays Alive Via Horcruxes, he’s more terrifying than anything on Alien, the Body Snatchers, or even the Exorcist.  And don’t we secretly love to be terrified?

C.   He Who Shall Not Be Named is a worthy opponent. Seriously, it took eight books to defeat him. 

D.   He’s clever, or more specifically, a downright genius. If we’re honest, Voldemort is much smarter than our boy, Harry—although Hermione might give him a run for his money.

E.    He has many of the same characteristics of the hero, but they’re misdirected.  Harry and Voldemort are literally joined at the…brain.  You don’t get more similar than that.

F.    He’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants.  Let’s be real. This dark wizard keeps going, even when he’s just a parasite on the back of Quirrell’s head.  Don’t know about you, but if I had to live as covered by a turban, I’d probably pack it in.

G.   He’s persuasive and inspirational.  Just look at all the followers the Dark Lord inspired.  Among the most notable is the fiercely loyal Bellatrix Lestrange, whose name is Latin for “female warrior.” This in-your-face, psychotic witch wasn’t afraid of anything, anybody, any spell, or even the Dark Lord himself. Her crazier-than-crazy antics never failed to drop jaws.  She escaped prison, killed the noble and almost unstoppable Sirius Black, and she tortured the Longbottoms.  How can anyone portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter not be a villainess we love to hate? Admit it didn’t you feel a bit regretful when Molly Weasley stuck-it-to-her?  I better stop now or I might change my mind about my favorite villain.

When all is written and “the end” is embellished, Voldemort’s true evil was being me-centric (yes, I made up that word).  Harry P. had friends, a group of witches and wizards who cared about others, even Muggles.  Friends who cared enough to die for the greater good.  The Dark Lord had only had followers—a band of evil-doers who put self-interest above all else.  And isn’t “me-first” at the core of all the world’s evil?


Monday, June 29, 2020

Frank, Mustard and Simon Calcavecchia

My name is Simon Calcavecchia and I am a children’s book author, motivational speaker and disability awareness advocate.

In 2002, I was injured in a rugby accident which left me with quadriplegia. After spending several months in rehabilitation I decided to go to college and after 4 years I emerged with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Evergreen State College. After graduating, I tried to find work with the help of the Department of Vocational Rehab but struggled to find any opportunity for employment.

I found myself floundering and depressed. I sought guidance from a counselor and it was suggested that I start volunteering in order to give me a sense of purpose and community. It worked! I began volunteering at local schools, a local theater, the co-op and finally at the children’s museum. It was there that I discovered there weren't any books which included characters with disabilities. This inspired me to create a book series and share my stories with kids about living with disabilities and using a wheelchair..

After a year of hard work, Arturo Alvarez and I created The Adventures of Frank and Mustard which is about a wiener dog named Frank who uses a wheelchair and his buddy Mustard, a little yellow bird. The themes of the books are about my own personal experiences such as when I got stuck in the mud in my wheelchair. The title of the first book I wrote called “Stuck in the mud”, related to the time when I got stuck on a trail in a botanical garden in Vancouver, BC.

Differently Awesome is a book about acceptance and inclusion based on my own experiences of being excluded and treated differently because I use a wheelchair. I wanted to share how we should not treat people unkindly or differently because they are differently abled.

Wheels and Waves is about when I went surfing at Westport, Washington with a team of friends who carried me across the sand and helped me experience riding a wave on a surfboard.

My latest book, Monster Truck’n is about when I got to drive a monster truck. I have many more stories and ideas to draw from and plan on continuing to add to the book series of the Adventures of Frank and Mustard for many years to come.

In addition to being an author, I became a motivational speaker and going to schools and sharing my story about how I became paralyzed, writing my books and how to not give up on one’s dreams. I mostly speak to elementary and middle school students but I find wherever I go my message of inclusion, acceptance, and never giving up, is warmly received.

Although my dreams for Frank and Mustard have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus, Arturo and I continue to work on creating more books that represent inclusion, kindness and acceptance.

Learn more about Frank and Mustard's creators: https://www.frankandmustard.com/about-us
Head to Youtube: The Adventures of Frank and Mustard to see Simon
Check out FrankandMustard on Facebook
To check in with Simon about doing a presentation at your school or with your organization, contact Simon directly at Frankandmustard@gmail.com


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Metro Changed My World by Susie Slanina


I was a cat person. I'd argue with my brother how superior cats were to dogs. Cats have eyes that glow in the dark, they sound like a motorboat when they purr, they’re mysterious, they aren’t obvious like dogs, and they can even bathe themselves. But one day, there was a little dog in a shelter, gazing up at me. My heart flipped over and it's never flipped back. Within two days, I was so in love with the new puppy, my preference switched to dogs. (I called my brother and we laughed when I told him he was right in our friendly debates of dogs vs. cats.)

Metro lived from 1994 to 2008. If you knew me during that time, she was my constant companion and my favorite conversation topic. There’s a saying: “Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and they’re all correct.” But, Metro, well, she was something special. She won first place in Puppy Kindergarten and was awarded Miss Congeniality. To celebrate, I bought a tiny tiara that still sparkles near her photograph. I’m reminded of her goodness and sweet nature every time I see it twinkle. 

She was so full of joy and happiness—she made every day, every ordinary moment--special and unique. I longed to spend more time with her and my two other dogs. I retired early and moved to a small mountain cabin in Big Bear, California. Being with the pups all the time was a dream come true. 

After Metro passed, I was pretty lost, and I’d daydream about her every morning. I started writing little letters to her about our life together, the fun times we had, and the moments we shared that became such treasured memories. I started looking forward to the ritual of drinking coffee and writing the Metro letters. It was healing—it lightened my heart, made the whole day better, and it seemed as though she was still with me. Instead of feeling sad, I smiled as I wrote. I did this for months, and eventually put the letters in a drawer, though the Metro torch still burned bright. 

A year later, a friend liked a poem I had written about a spider. She said I should write more about the spider. I didn’t want to write about the spider, but it sparked an idea. I told my friend I once had an amazing dog named Metro—maybe I could write a little something about her! 

The next day, I went to the drawer and retrieved all the letters. The “little something about Metro” became a book series. As a child, I was an avid reader, and especially loved series. (I remember Nancy Drew had a cat, but there was only a couple paragraphs about it. I craved more words about her cat!)

Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop, and my imagination took over. Some of the adventures are true and some are fiction. When I speak at schools, kids guess which adventures are true. I encourage children to write their own stories. 

Susie with Sugar and Curry
It was an honor to be invited to become a member of Windtree Press and get to know all the wonderful authors in the group. To date, I’ve written four Metro books. They’re beautifully illustrated by artist Paul Bunch and are available on Amazon in print or Kindle.   

1. Metro Comes Home
2. Metro Goes to Hollywood
3. Metro Goes Stargazing
4. Metro Duets

In this time of pandemic and Stay-At-Home orders, I’m so grateful I have my current little dogs: Sugar and Curry (sweet and savory). I look to them for sanity, truth, and brightness. They are cuddlers and clowns, and inspire me every day. 






Friday, June 26, 2020

The best children's book ever written (***In my humble opinion)

I simply love the topic this month: Share you favorite children's book.
Honestly, this was the fastest blog piece I've ever penned.

On my own blog, Writing in my Oxygen, I've talked numerous times over the years about my number one book for children, the one I always give as a gift to expectant mothers, or when I've been invited to toddler birthday parties.

That book is THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD, written by Watty Piper and illustrated by Dan Santat.


Now, I'm going to be honest and tell you I didn't read this book as a child. In fact, I'd never heard of it until my own daughter was born, 30 years ago. The book was given to me as part of a baby shower gift and when I read it after every one had gone home, I fell absolutely, head to toes in love with the message within its pages.

Self motivation and self actualization flow from this story so effortlessly, that even as an adult I was rooting for that little engine to get up over the mountain. The theme of the book - believing in yourself - is such a wonderful, universal theme that even today in various aspects of my life I find myself thinking you can do it at times when I am questioning myself.

That little engine told himself time and time again, around every twisty curve, up every steep hill,  I think I can. The phrase is repeated so many times in the book THAT should be the title! I THINK I CAN.

The best part of the tale - for me - is the ending where the engine, having gone over the punishing mountain, around all the dangerous, twists and turns, and has reached his final destination declares, I knew I could.

As adults, how many times have we felt that we couldn't go on? Complete a task? Even make it through another day of seemingly insurmountable problems? In this day and age and with so many things coming up on a daily basis that require our time, focus, and energy, there are moments when we all feel that we just can't go on. We can't take on one more project, tackle one more dilemma, deal with one more emotional issue. It just gets to be...too much.

The message of The Little Engine that Could is to just believe that you can do anything you set your mind to if you, in fact, believe you can do it.

For me, personally, I would never have tackled a brand new writing career at the age of 55 if I didn't have some of that little engine's gumption in the back of my mind. I thought I could write something people would read. I thought I could get what I wrote published. I knew I'd made my dream come true when my very first publisher bought my book.

Self actualization and belief in yourself are things we should teach our children from the get-go in life. That's why I now give this book at every baby shower I attend, and at most children's birthday parties I'm honored to be invited to.

Believe in yourself...as Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing."

My newest book, a fairy tale redux of Sleeping Beauty, titled WOKE, releases on 7.1.2020. In my version, Aurora doesn't wait for love's true kiss to awaken her...

Waking up each day is a gift….

On her 21st birthday, someone slipped a potent drug combination into socialite Aurora Brightwell’s champagne putting her in a coma for the next ten years. It’s been a long road back, and it’s time to reclaim the life she lost and find out exactly what happened on that fateful night.

Financier Kincade Enright has his own reason for helping Aurora discover who poisoned her, but for the time being he’s keeping that - and his true identity - to himself. What he can’t keep hidden though, are his growing feelings for the one-time paparazzi darling and party-girl.

When this prince of finance joins forces with the former sleeping beauty, nothing can stop them from finding the answers they seek…or prevent the powerful emotions developing between them as they search for the truth.




Peggy Jaeger writes contemporary romances and rom coms about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all aspects of life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness, and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at peggyjaeger.com where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"

You can connect with Peggy here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me// Triber// Book Me