Book of the Year

I recently attended a Writers’ Conference in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I had the opportunity to enter several of their contests and submitted Flash Fiction and Fiction stories. I also entered my book “Betrayal of the River.” The entries for books had to have been published between January 2015 and July 2016.

As I sat chatting with my table companion I had just met, our attention was drawn to the Speaker who was ready to announce winners. In the meantime, after a month and a half of spring-like weather in Arkansas and in Missouri, this day filled with icy rains falling down. Even snow had managed to sneak in. I bring the weather up since it pertains to the winner announcements, too. The Speaker rushed along since it was the end of the day and everyone feared the roads in getting home safely. I twiddled my stylus over my I-Pad and listened for the winners’ names.

I THOUGHT she said “Betrayal of the River” followed by my name but was somewhat distracted since after she said ‘betrayal’ she lost her place in her notes for a split second and I wanted to stand up and finish the sentence for her. I didn’t do that. What if someone else had written a book that began with the word betrayal? Then it happened. My table companion nudged me and said “Congratulations!” Then I realized my name was the one really called out.

To say I was happy about the esteemed award is to minimize the impact. I walked up to get my certificate and prize money and grinned all the way back to my table as I saturated the applause. Yes, it was a moment. Not only did this encourage me to keep going, it also was immediately posted on Facebook by my daughter Jill, who I had called to let her know the news. This in turn boosted sales, to say nothing of my head that suddenly increased in size.

Next, I called my niece Madeline, who photographed the picture of the Mississippi River that became the cover for the book. We had a celebratory dinner the next day before I left to go home. The weather had suddenly transformed to better.

When I got home to Missouri the next day I immediately ordered stickers for the books that read Book of the Year. Then it was time to order more books, to contact stores for sales and possible book signings. My list became endless.

In the meantime, my freelance writing jobs increased having taken on a second client. Did I mention my fourth Beatrice Chandler Mysteries book is in the editing and formatting stage? All of these mysteries are set in my home state of Missouri. Nothing like a little motivation that says keep on keeping on.

The books are in Kindle and Paperback formats and can be found on Amazon, ordered from B&N or contact me directly at




Busy Life of a Writer

I’m one of those people who is tempted to think I am the only busy writer. In fact, anyone who is productive whether a writer or not is busy. The thing of it is, busy can be haphazardly going from one task to the next, or really accomplishing something in an orderly fashion. I like to think of myself as an orderly person but not one who overlooks the small distractions along the road. These distractions often suggest more material for writing. Then I find the world is wide open to me.

What does orderly really mean? It is something that has as many meanings as there are people. It is what we do with that orderliness that counts. A writer pounces on an idea that sometimes seems to come from nowhere. He or she takes that idea and, while going through the necessary responsibilities of daily life, begins to formulate an entire novel from it. It’s like a tiny seed that starts to grow. The more it is nourished, the more it grows. We can put the idea to the side and then a few days later we remember it. To our surprise, the idea has promises of tiny buds.

It’s at this time that I know I have something going for a great story. I sit at my computer and start to concentrate seriously on the concept I have chosen to use. Along the way, I see it will do better when I add facets and characters. After all, an idea will be dormant if there is nothing to feed it. Each day I get more and more wrapped up in where that initial thought will go. Now it is an adventure. The middle of the narrative can grow stale and boring. I can’t let that happen so I add a little suspense, a few red herrings and then the reader starts to get really excited.

Finally, the idea is a full-blown novel and I sit back and ask myself: Where did that come from, while finding myself very pleased with the outcome of my orderliness. I hope the reader feels the same way.

“Disappearance in Plain Country”   “Betrayal of the River”, b&n listing,

Back Again

I have greatly neglected my blogging activity in that there has been no activity recently. After launching “Disappearance in Plain Country,” I then returned to freelance writing in between promotions for my own works. I know, promotions should include blogging…

And, now I find myself at the end of the first month of the new year and almost ready to publish my third novel in the mystery genre. It is the second of the Beatrice Chandler Mysteries, “Betrayal of the River.” This time Beatrice finds herself in the middle of a murder that occurs on the floor above her room at Wilson Farmstead Inn. The Inn is located on the banks of the Mississippi River between St. Charles, MO and Hannibal, Mo.

Beatrice came to the Inn to find peace and quiet to complete her latest crime novel. Instead, she discovers she is in the middle of one of the greatest mysteries of all that revolves around a Karl Bodmer painting that hangs in the Inn’s museum. Someone, and she suspects one of the guests, chooses murder to reach his or her goal.

She is in harm’s way more than once. Determined to solve the murder, she plows forward as she joins the local Police Department in her endeavors. During the investigation, she finds several of the guests are not who they proclaim to be.

“Betrayal of the River” is slated to come out mid-February and will be found on and listed with B&N.

The Book is Out

“Disappearance in Plain Country” is on amazon in paperback and kindle formats. Don’t miss getting it. A very good mystery in store for you. This is the first in a series of the Beatrice Chandler Mystery Series.

“He failed to distinguish the woman in front of him as the one he fell in love with and married. When was that? He remembered the church wedding. Her parents were there, of course and many mutual friends. Everyone laughed and congratulated them. It was a world away from the one he existed in now. He felt detached all of a sudden. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts he focused on her, his wife and the mother of their newly acquired son…Once again, Tommy realized everything pointed to his own survival.”

(Disappearance in Plain Country and also Heart of the Wheat Shaft, mysteries found on

Promises, Promises

Promises are meant to be kept and I am doing that. After much rewriting, reviewing, editing, and editing again (and again) the long-awaited book is on Amazon. “Disappearance in Plain Country” is a mystery that unravels the search for a small Amish child taken by strangers at a quilt auction. This is the first in my series of Beatrice Chandler Mystery Series. Beatrice gets caught up in the simple life of the Amish when she attends the auction in south central Missouri. The child disappears and Beatrice is relentless in her search for Abe Stotzfus. She  is on the trail of the kidnappers into the Midwestern states and beyond.

In the meantime, the kidnappers have problems of their own. Their lives are consumed with eluding the law while trying to hold their relationship together. It is a difficult path but worse than that, Abe, age three, is baffled as to what is happening. Most of all, he wonders why his parents aren’t coming to get him.

“The small boy sat up straight in the middle of the backseat. He had only ridden in a taxi once when he sat between his parents on the long ride from Ohio to his cousins’ house in Missouri. His mamm sang songs and played games with him to make the journey go faster. Things never seen before in his young life popped up from nowhere when he knelt at the shiny window and looked out. . . when the man jerked him to behind the row of quilts, he looked back at his parents. His hat fell off his head and he tried to reach for it. Everyone, even his parents, paid close attention to someone yelling to all the people about the quilts. The man who pulled him away didn’t bother picking up Abe’s straw hat but he let him cling to his wooden horse clutched tightly in his small hand.”


Signs of Fall

As I sit at my keyboard I am so tempted to take a second day away from writing and four walls to get out and revel in the wonderfully refreshing fall-like air. After rains and much humidity, it is a welcome feeling of another rejuvenation. Nature does that to me. Rejuvenates.

The fact that my surroundings become a huge part of me is not surprising. I love to watch the deep green leaves on trees show me just a hint of lighter shades and a few pale yellows. This tells me that a spectacular array of hues are getting ready to burst forward in a month or so. Sometimes our autumn only brings yellows in the leaves and they drop from the trees early as a result of a hot and dry summer weather conditions. Fall blends into winter with no fanfare. This summer brought unusual rains at the right times and so I know I can look forward to quite an array of reds, oranges and yellows, even a few purples.

It’s the same with my writing. Sometimes my mind is dull and no ideas or imagination is evident. It is times like this that I think I have been fooling myself into thinking I am a writer. Then suddenly rain comes down on me. My mind gets in sync with a variety of colorful story plots and I am in a position to choose a new theme, or finish what I’m in the middle of with a sure-fire narrative that keeps the reader reading. By the end of it, they want more.

Those who write and think they have done all they can do with their talent should think twice. We have never done all we can do when it comes to putting words down that culminate in great satisfaction for the reader. Take advantage of the season of pale ideas that hit now and then. Let ideas lay dormant until they suddenly, of their own accord, burst forward. This will only end up a very good story we didn’t even know was in the recesses of our imaginations.

“Disappearance in Plain Country” September 15, 2014 (will be on Amazon.)



Upcoming book

In early September “Disappearance in Plain Country” will be out. It is the first of the series the Beatrice Chandler Mystery Series. All books will take place in various areas of Missouri, my home state. Without a doubt this mystery will make you do anything it takes to read to the end.


I promise you. You will do anything to find out if the small Amish child will ever find his way home. You will feel you are in the lives of the reclusive Amish community waiting for the outcome. This is not to say you won’t feel the devastating grief the family goes through while waiting for their loved little Abe to come home to them again.

You will follow the kidnappers in the constant pull they experience at the deed they have done. Only Beatrice Chandler, crime writer and self-proclaimed detective will determine to see that the child is returned to his rightful home and heritage. But will she be able to pull this one off?

Look for “Disappearance in Plain Country” coming to your kindle and paperback soon. You won’t be disappointed.


For those of you who haven’t read my mystery “Heart of the Wheat Shaft – Mystery in Nebraska Wheatland,” you really don’t know what you are missing. There, I’ve said it. The following are the initial lines to lure you in:

“I hesitated at the beginning of the dirt drive that ended at the small house. The dwelling separated waving wheat fields from one another as if a barrier to determine its importance. And now that I was here I wondered why I had dropped everything to come when Grandmother called me. I accelerated along the dusty road determined to get this over with as soon as possible.

She knew I was coming, and yet when I knocked on the weather beaten ash door, there was no answer.

‘What are you standing there for?’

I turned to see Grandmother and reverted to the small child she raised, attempting a half smile in her direction. She shook the edge of her grease-spotted apron allowing dirt to flit from gnarled hands. Though I was on the raised porch she appeared to loom over my five foot five stature. Her face resembled rocks where water dug trenches and wove intricate designs. I noticed tightly braided hair greyer since last time I saw her eleven years ago.

‘Hello, Grandmother,” I said.”

The tale spells out a mystery that keeps Elizabeth Blanton longer in Pineville, Nebraska than originally planned. She is determined to find out why her much-loved grandfather, Alex Blanton died so suddenly. Before called home by her estranged grandmother, Sally, she had no idea he had not died of natural causes. Near mishaps plague her at every turn and suspicions accumulate until she reaches the answer that shocks her.
(amazon: kindle and paperback.)

Why Women Read

The Bookshelf of Emily J.

The subtitle of this post is “In the Nineteenth Century.” During that time, there were, apparently, many types of readers and stereotypes about women who read. Today, I’ll share eight of those types of female readers with you from Patricia Okker’s book Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors (1995).  Okker’s book has a section devoted to the rise of literacy among women of the nineteenth century. It reminded me of a beautiful book of postcards called The Reading Woman that my good friend Amy gave me for Christmas. The images on the postcards are historical images of women as readers as painted by some of the masters.


In Okker’s study of women editors, she noted that “the woman reader was not seen as particularly beneficial to society, but she also posed no social threats” (p. 113). Here are eight of the ways…

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Reining in the Reader

Have you picked up a book that caught your interest because of the title, as well as the genre you like? I look at titles first since that is what first grabs me only, at times, to find when I read the first paragraph I already want to put the book down. Why? It is because the story begins with an overload of scenery descriptions, back story or just doesn’t grab me enough to make me want to continue reading.

When I write a mystery (my favorite genre) I begin with a paragraph that will draw the reader into the scene, the character(s) first presented which of course, includes the protagonist, and characterizations that will let the reader have an idea of how the mix intertwines. All of this is done with wording that is brief but to the point. The reader will then move on to the next page and all the pages after that because a momentum has been established early on and continues until the last sentence.

Sometimes I start with the crime itself without giving clues away. I pick out a paragraph that will stun the reader and then continue with the story and how the characters reached this point.

I use alliterations once or twice in the book for diversity and fun; try to give the reader enough to not tell it all, but to allow the reader to imagine being a part of the story. Many readers have told me when they read “Heart of the Wheat Shaft – Mystery in Nebraska Wheatland” they couldn’t put the book down. That is the highest compliment a writer can receive in my eyes. (

My next book will be the first of a series called The Beatrice Chandler Mystery Series. The first book is titled “Disappearance in Plain Country.” The story centers around a small Amish child who is kidnapped at an Amish Quilt auction. All settings for the series are in Missouri, my home State.

(excerpt from upcoming book:) “Shock registered with me like an unexpected current zigzagging through me with no shut-off switch. Reuben’s voice quivered. Tears fringed his eyelids. I edged closer and my eyes wandered around the small group of Amish for a little boy who I knew in my heart was not there.” (“Disappearance in Plain Country.”)