Entertaining?

Do you like to entertain? Do you do it often? Do you do it in your house/apartment/condo or restaurant? For you writers, do you put entertainment scenes in your stories? Usually, I put questions at the end of these posts, but this seemed right this time.

Over our married life, we’ve done more and less entertaining. As a younger married, I can remember having “dinner parties.” Six to eight of us. I did the whole meal back when I actually cooked and didn’t just set out the food. 😊 It was stressful but fun. IMG_1256

Then there were years where we were working such long hours, the idea of entertaining anyone in our home was beyond considering. Now that we’ve moved to the lake, we’ve moved into another phase where we entertain every couple of months. One of the things I missed after we left our old neighborhood, where we’d lived for over twenty years, was our neighborhood coffees. Many of us took turns having folks over for a Saturday coffee. These were lots of fun and pretty easy to do.

After we got settled here, I asked some of the neighbors I’d met to come by on a Saturday morning, and we chatted, snacked, and drank coffee and iced tea. Folks were curious to see what we’d done with our lake cottage which had still been mostly in the 50s when we bought it. Quite a transformation. (But that’s a post for another time.) IMG_1023

People liked the idea and several folks signed up to host. The first year we had three other coffees after ours. This is the second year, and every month is spoken for. Several folks have specifically thanked me for getting these started. This past Saturday was our turn to host. It was fun to catch up on people’s lives as opposed to waving as we pass by.

The other way we entertain is with church friends. We have something called Dinner for 8 every month. People host in their homes or in a restaurant. It’s just a chance to get folks together for more time to really talk. Because we feel we have been blessed with our cottage on the lake, we frequently host at our house. This is really simple (after getting the house cleaned up), we provide the main dish and everyone else brings something. One of the things we do is take a selfie of everyone together. Always lots of laughter trying to make that happen.

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(Confession: None of these pics are from the events I’ve described. Apparently, other than taking the selfie at the end, I’ve not taken other pictures. That will change. LOL )

When I first began writing, my critique partners criticized me for always having my characters eating. I struggled to cut back, but really, we spend a lot of time with others eating. Seven books later, I don’t worry about it quite so much. 😊

So, do you like to entertain? Do you do it often? Do you do it in your house/apartment/condo or restaurant. For you writers, do you put entertainment scenes in your stories? Love to hear from you.

Pic at very top is the Book 4 in The Second Chances Series, ACT OF SURVIVAL

iTunes  https://apple.co/2HQFSxZ

Amazon Print https://amzn.to/2Drl798

Amazon https://amzn.to/2In0TRT

B & N https://bit.ly/2WiINmV

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Book Birthday & Author Event

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Last Friday, July 17 was not only the birthday of my SIL, but also the 6th birthday for my first book, VERMONT ESCAPE. I’ve been running a 99 Cent sale on most of the venues. (Something happened and it didn’t get changed on KOBO.) Today is the last day of the sale. Well, it may lop over a bit more because I have to take it off Amazon and iTunes, and I won’t start that process until Wednesday. 😊 B & N very nicely let’s you set a start and stop date. I love that. So much easier. Here are the links:

B & N https://bit.ly/2k340mD

Amazon https://amzn.to/2ShLapq

ITunes https://apple.co/2GrJGUW

If you haven’t read this book, yet, this is a great opportunity. Like all my books, this is about second chances, and my heroine turns 50 about ¾ of the way through the story, so it’s legitimately called a “Seasoned Romance.”  Here’s the short blurb:

After the murders of Jill Barlow’s husband and then her father, she flees to Vermont, but the Texas gambling syndicate believes she’s hiding damning evidence against them. To get it, they’ll kill again.

There’s no mention of the hero in this shot blurb, but he’s a Vermont lawyer and state assemblyman. Jill really doesn’t want any more involvement with a politician. Politics got her husband and father killed.

If you follow my newsletter you know that I attended a Sunday Afternoon with Authors event at an independent bookstore. (We really need to support Indie bookstores.) Leaves Book & Tea Shop (Isn’t that a clever name?) is just south of downtown Fort Worth and has been opened for just under a year.

Tina Howard, the  owner, was very organized. Before hand she let us know how it would go, and she sent us questions around the subject of “change.” All of us write different genres, and yet our answers were remarkably similar.

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Left to Right.

Claudette Esmerelda has written a children’s book, Leah is Seen. She’s trying to help kids develop a good self-concept.

I, of course have 7 books out.

Richard Gonzalez is a former newspaper columnist and refers to himself as an old hippy. Raza Rizing is about the increase of Hispanics in Texas. Deer Dancer is a fantasy set in Sonora.

Jane Alvey Harris’ book, Riven (a dark YA) has been optioned for film. How cool is that! It’s part of a trilogy. The second book is out, too. They are about finding yourself again after abuse.

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Besides asking us questions, we also got to read from one of our books. I read from Book 2 of The Second Chances Series, ACT OF TRUST. The heroine lost her husband on 9/11 and because my younger daughter and her husband had just moved to NYC, this book really touches home for me and is one of my favorites, right behind VERMONT ESCAPE.

I was surprised how many people showed up to listen to us—approximately twenty. Each of the authors had  3 or so  friends attend, and then there were just random folks there. I was grateful to have the MIL of one of my daughters, a good friend from NTRWA, and another friend.  This was the first event like this for the bookstore, and the owner has one scheduled for the next several months. I will attend to see how the others work out. Tina is also willing to carry our books for a 70/30 split. I’m going to try that with three of mine and see how it works out. I’m also going to talk to one of the other Indie bookstores to see if they will consider doing something like this.

Lastly, I want to go by and take a flyer to all three Indie Bookstores with information about the first ever Independent Bookstore Celebrate Bookstore Romance Day, Saturday, August 17. I learned about this from the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA. What a great idea. Here’s the link https://bookstoreromanceday.org/ Share with your local bookstores.

Writers, do you like events where you get to (or are expected to speak) more than where you’re just sitting there signing?

Readers, what do you think of this kind of event? Love to hear from you all.

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Variety is the spice of life

Variety is essential in any long term writer’s career. 

When I started my writing journey at 33 years of age, eleven years ago, I fell in love with writing romantic thrillers. 

My first story was about a pair of young sisters who escape a dangerous, religious David-Koresh-type cult. The sisters run from a horrific past, looking for a new life states away from there hidden compound in rural Oklahoma.

The eldest, Lynea, falls for a college professor, bringing an element of hope and romance to the story. Lynea’s past is nightmarish and full of abuse, making her new romance difficult. 

At times the plot grows as dark and disturbing as an episode of Criminal Minds. 

This novel is called Violation of Faith.

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I loved the fast paced nature of that plot. And since you’re reading this, you probably like this suspenseful type of writing, too.

But one thing I discovered after getting published was that writing the in the same dark and intense vein for my second book didn’t appeal to me. 

I kept trying to write a sequel and couldn’t seem to make it work. But when I chose a lighter, sexier tone for a different project, I completed it quickly.

I also went from being traditionally published for my first novel to self-publishing my second project, which was a Christmas novella called A Midnight Clear. 

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It was incredibly liberating to be in complete control of my plot and editing. It left me feeling free and happy with my end product. 

My next four projects were of a whole other variety in that they were nonfiction ebooks called the Writing in my Jammies series. These were brief, easy to consume in one sitting self-help books with exercises at the end, written with spirituality and personal development in mind.

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All this variety – a dark and intense thriller novel to sexy suspenseful novella to little nonfiction ebooks – kept my creative muse very active in 2016.

In 2017, I found more inspiration in adding even more variety to my writing by creating blogs that corresponded with a recorded podcast. 

By adding the variety of audio content to my writing, I’ve discovered an entirely new audience for my writing. 

Listen to this post as a podcast

So now variety isn’t just igniting my creative sparks, it’s allowing me to use a fresh new medium to share my stories. It’s also making my listeners aware of my endeavor to serve as a Creative Inspiration Coach assisting other writers struggling with their muses. 

It’s as exciting as it is rewarding. 

Variety is a wonderful thing.

Another beautiful example of variety is the Sisterhood of Suspense. 

This amazing sisterhood of authors write everything from straight suspense to spine-tingling thrillers. Everything from traditional mysteries to supernatural romances. 

Some of the Sisterhood also write nonfiction like I do. 

This variety means we can offer our visitors, followers, and readers a uniquely wide variety of genres and voices.

That is the extraordinary gift joining together provides us as authors and you as readers. 

Variety

Variety

Not only is it the spice of life, it’s the joy of camaraderie, the combining of resources, and the ability to share individual talents and abilities with all of you.

If you’re looking for romance and mystery – or just really love Las Vegas – check out Pat Amsden.

For multiple romantic comedies featuring unique handbags, Vicki Batman is the author for you.

Want a romantic suspense with a tough alpha male or something a bit more supernatural? Look no further than Jacquie Biggar.

For emergency room romances, go to Sam Bradley writing as McKenna Sinclair. She also has her own long-running disaster podcast here.

Author Veronica Forand is where you’ll want to look for romances with thriller edges to them. 

If you like your romances to make you both laugh and cry, Claire Gem would be perfect for you. 

In the mood for a series of cozy mysteries, paranormal romances, or inspirational literature? Try Joanne Guidoccio.

Like a mix? Kathryn Jane writes novels full of mystery, suspense, adventure, psychic abilities, and romance often featuring animals. 

For contemporary romance and romantic suspense, be on the lookout for Mia Kay.

Marian Lanouette writing as Merry Holly is a multi-published author of both mystery and romance. 

Julie Mulhern writes mysteries, historical romances, and romantic suspense – including the Country Club Murders.

Want high emotional stakes balanced with a touch of humor? Check out Stephanie (S.A.) Taylor’s contemporaries and romantic suspenses. 

If you like your romantic suspense flavored with second chances at love, give Marsha West’s Second Change series a looksee.

Are stories of adventure, suspense and love your cup of tea, grab Sharon Wray’s Deadly Force series. 

I consider it a privilege to work with such a fantastic group of authors, and I know you’ll enjoy their books, as well. 

Jeannie Hall is a multi-published author, blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, and Creative Inspiration Coach specializing in helping authors reignite their creative sparks. You can find her (and her various social media links) at WritinginyourJammies.com

Blogging- Why all #Writers should be Using this #Free Venue #Writertips #RSsos @jacqbiggar

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To blog or not to blog; I hear this question often. There are many demands on a writer’s time. Most of us have families, day jobs, pets, houses to clean, yards to maintain, the list goes on and on, so how are we supposed to keep up a regular blog as well?

And why should we?

 

 

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I get it, I really do.

But, on the other hand, as authors we want to be recognized, right? There’s no sense (other than personal satisfaction) to waste our precious time writing those stories if we aren’t going to do our best to get noticed.

 

WordPress Now Powers 26% of the Web

The most recent stats are showing that since March 2016, WordPress is actually powering 26.4% of the Web, and it’s on the rise. It is still by far the most used CMS, with 59.4% market share. Also interestingly on a daily basis there are over 500 sites being created on WordPress.

https://managewp.com/blog/statistics-about-wordpress-usage

 

 

As you can see, these numbers are already a couple of years old, but it’s safe to say blogging is a crucial– and often under-utilized– tool in marketing our product.

One of the best things about blogging– it’s free!

Just think, all those users out there, all you need to do is provide them with content.

 

 

In this post, Nicholas Rossis shares a graphic made by Websitebuilder on the phenomenal growth in the blogging world.

18.7 million blogs on WordPress alone! That’s a lot of people and possible eyes on your books. (You have your blog connected to your website with a listing of your books, right?)

 

“But what am I going to say?” you ask.

Well, that’s the beauty of it, your blog, your rules. 🙂

 

 

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The biggest thing is that you’re going to make connections around the world. And if those people like what you have to say, chances are, they’ll check out your books, mention you to their workmates, their friends and family.

See?

All that because you took the time to #blog.

Come on, what are you waiting for? Let’s get connected!

 

Speaking of spreading the word, here’s some shameless self-promotion on two new releases I have coming in the next few weeks. Shares appreciated 🙂

 

 

WTHCoverBiggar

Available 01.30.18

 

What happens when two of Tidal Falls’ most beloved citizens have second thoughts just before they get married?

Jared Martin can’t wait to tie the knot with the woman of his dreams and become a real father to his son, Chris.

Annie Campbell is finally going to marry the man she’s loved for most of her adult life and she couldn’t be more excited–and anxious.

An unforeseen event will test their devotion to each other and bring the entire town in on the action. Will Jared and Annie’s love stand the test, or is their relationship doomed?

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0788BB53H

International: https://books2read.com/WithThisHeart

Add to your TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37830620-with-this-heart

 

Excerpt

She yanked the door open and then jumped backward with a shriek as a brown and white shape hurtled through the gap and stumbled in the drive.

“Dad, save Bambi,” Chris cried from inside the cab.

“What was that?” Annie whispered, hands clenched to her chest.

Jared was torn between taking her into his arms or checking on the injured animal for his son. A further cry from Chris as he scrambled to get out of the pickup cemented his decision. He sent a quick glance Annie’s way before hurrying to kneel beside the fawn and stop its frantic movements. “Son, bring that blanket with you. His scent is on it now, it may reassure him some.”

“Is he okay?” Chris hopped down from the crew cab, tugging the blanket behind him. “Hi, Mom,” he chirped on his way by, “guess what Jared did? He hit a baby deer.” The last was said with a mix of nervous tension.

Jared looked up in time to see Annie’s scowl turn to concern. He held out his hand for the quilt. “Here, I’ll cover him up and then you keep him still while I call the vet. Deal?”

“Deal,” Chris agreed, plopping onto the grass and startling the fawn. He scrunched his shoulders and shrugged. “Sorry.”

Jared smiled. “Just take it easy around him for the first few days. You have to remember he’s not used to people. This is all very strange for him.” He wrapped the trembling body, careful to avoid the bad leg. “Pet his head like I showed you before and I’ll be right back, okay?”

Chris nodded without looking away from the delicate face of the deer. “Sure, we’re friends already, see?” He proceeded to rub between the fawn’s ears. “He likes me.”

“Well, sure he does. What’s not to like?” Jared rumpled his son’s red hair—so like his mother’s—and rose. After making sure the fawn was content, he turned to Annie. “Sorry we couldn’t call. Reception was bad out there.”

“What if you’d been injured?” Annie sniped under her breath so as not to alert Chris. “I had no idea where you’d gone. Where to search. It was an irresponsible thing to do.” She folded defensive arms across her chest.

“Whoa, where is this coming from?” Jared grasped her forearm and pulled her resisting body to the front of the truck. “Sweetheart, it’s not like I planned on driving home in the dark and clipping a fawn during our first father-son road trip. You’re not being fair.”

“Fair?” she cried. “Chris is my son, Jared. I have the right to know he’s safe.”

Stunned, he released her arm. “Actually, I thought he was our son. What’s going on, Annie?”

She stared up at him with tear-drenched eyes. “Maybe we’re a mistake.” She looked at his dented vehicle, and at Chris caring for the injured deer, before meeting his gaze with a defiant lift of her chin. “I don’t think I can marry you anymore.”

 

JacquieBiggar_ValentineAHeartsandKissesRomance_800

Available 02.13.18

 

Take two humans who pretend they can’t stand each other and one matchmaking canine and the fun is nonstop!

Val Hodgins is on the road to success. His architect firm handles some of the biggest contracts along the western seaboard. He doesn’t have time to babysit his aunt’s aging house or her pain in the butt dog, but when she falls ill with pneumonia he drops everything to go to her aid.

Sierra Johnson’s dreams of owning a catering company go up in smoke thanks to a bad choice in boyfriends. Now, she’s stuck working for a tyrannical boss, care-taking an aging townhouse, and being tormented by the owner’s aggravating, caustic, way-too-attractive nephew.

Will these two get over their prejudices in time to realize love comes without a price tag?

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078QFJH4H

Universal: https://books2read.com/Valentine

Add to TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38088692-valentine

 

Excerpt

Val stepped closer to the crazy woman guarding her virtue with a kitchen utensil. He’d been enjoying the view for the past five minutes as she swayed to the music, her back to him while she worked at his sister’s kitchen sink. Even though she wore the required hair net, he could see she was a fiery redhead, her body slim and compact beneath the wraparound apron. He should have announced himself sooner, but he hadn’t expected to freak her out so badly. Normally, Sam’s kitchen was a hub of activity; he was surprised to find it empty except for the pint-sized warrior.

“You can put down the weapon.” He hid his amusement behind a placating smile. “I’m harmless, though my sister might be tempted to disagree. Is Sam here?”

When the woman stared at him like he was the creature from the black lagoon, Val waved a hand in front of her eyes and grinned at the resultant snap of temper. He was right, she was a feisty one. “Sorry, I’m in a bit of a hurry. Is there a chance I could get you to answer me any time soon?”

She glared at him, threw the rubber spatula unto the counter, and swept the net from her hair, allowing the coiled layers to flow down her back. “You have a bad habit of sneaking up on people,” she snapped, reddened fingers moving to untie her apron.

What was she…?

Oh.

He snapped his fingers and pointed at her. “You. The klutz that destroyed my dinner the other night. What are you doing here? Don’t tell me my sister was foolish enough to hire someone who can’t even hold onto a pot without it becoming a catastrophe.”

Her eyes narrowed and she stared past him to the big block of knives sitting on the stainless-steel countertop. Val hurried to block her view. “Uh, uh, uh, temper, temper. You don’t really want to stab me, just think of the mess.”

 

JACQUIE BIGGAR  is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. 

Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site:

http://jacqbiggar.com

You can follow her on at http://Facebook.com/jacqbiggar, http://Twitter.com/jacqbiggar

Or email her via her web site. Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

You can also join her street team on Facebook: Biggar’s Book Buddies

Or her exclusive Review Crew: https://jacqbiggar.com/join-my-review-crew/

And sign up for her newsletter-

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Resolutions/Goals

First, Happy New Year from the Sisterhood of Suspense Blog.  I love new beginnings. The idea of making resolutions or setting goals is exciting to me. As a former educator (are we ever really a former educator?), I believe strongly in the possibility of self-improvement. One way to do that is by setting  Goals

You all know that’s not just saying: “I want to lose weight,” which is wishful thinking at best. Writing down: “I want to lose 20 lbs by May,” that’s a goal. If it’s realistic and you put a plan with that and stick with it, the goal is attainable. That was one of my goals for 2017. Big bomb! Actually, gained a few pounds. ☹ I can rationalize I was still in recovery from my broken ankle and was just going to Pilates once a week instead of twice which I did pre-ankle. However, I just ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. For most of us that will guarantee weight gain, especially with limited exercise. LOL

Personal goals I attained for 2017  (I have a file called GOALS on the computer with several years of goals.)

*Walked twice a day with Charley and extra steps to get to 10,000 daily. Only missed a few for the year. Some were during our recent freeze.

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*Found a new GP, who I love.

*Enjoyed the lake. (There’s something sad about having to write that down in your goals. Seems like it should be natural. Not for this workaholic! 😊) IMG_6354 Who knew lakes had waves?

Work goals I attained

*Wrote & Published Book 3. (Book 3 in the series, not the 3rd book.) ACT OF BETRAYAL was released in October of 2017

.Act of Betrayal

*Wrote weekly personal blog and monthly SOS blog.

*Attended several book signings.

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There were others in both categories, but that gives you an idea.

So what’s for 2018?

Personal

*Be healthy which includes losing weight and getting my blood pressure down without meds. (I have started this by doing the Whole 30 this month. You can read about that in my Jan. 11th blog at  https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/  )

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*Enjoy the lake (yeah, I know weird!)

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*Continue church volunteering—which does take significant time, but is important

*Enjoy my family (I’m so blessed they live near.)

Work Related

*Complete the short story for the book my writing chapter is publishing in March

*Write and publish the last book in the Second Chances Series. Looking forward to this. Don’t expect to ever write another series, even though I love reading them!)

*Put out a monthly newsletter (began this in November when my PR co. went out of business. So grateful to them. I’d have never had a newsletter without them.)

*Write personal blog weekly and SOS blog monthly

*Make presentations whenever possible–one is set up for February

*Be supportive of my fellow authors (with FB and Twitter shares & reviews)

To accomplish the first four, I must be much more disciplined about my time. Difficult when I’m easily distracted. LOL

So what about you? Do you set goals? Please share if you’re comfortable. Even if you don’t share, I hope you set them. IMHO, they do make a difference.

Please tell your friends about our Sisterhood of Suspense blog. One of our goals is to post more often. Every Tuesday and Thursday, you’ll find something interesting, educational, or entertaining. Something to make you think. We always love to hear from you.

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Writing Family

Saturday, I went to my writing chapter holiday party. We wore our crazy Christmas sweaters, and did a White Elephant Gift Exchange using “ugly” ornaments. I’d found an ornament that was a small green sweater with snowflakes on the sleeves. Seemed appropriate. We’ve met in the La Hacienda Restaurant for many years now. It takes me 30 minutes to get there. Before we moved to the lake, it took 45 minutes.IMG_6433

I’ve been a member of NTRWA for almost 10 years. I’m a published writer because of the women in this group and the people they connected me to. From the woman who set me up with my first critique partners who I spent three years exchanging twenty pages each week with to the judges who gave me invaluable input on those first chapters in my first books, like maybe I should take a course in GMC, when I didn’t know what those letters stood for. LOL The chapter also introduced me to Margie Lawson who I credit with getting my writing to the place where a publisher wanted it.IMG_6426

In the beginning years I served on various committees, ultimately becoming the president of the group. That’s the year I nearly gave up writing. But because I was president of NTRWA, I had this obligation to write an article for each month’s newsletter. My theme was “Keep On, Keeping On.” I wrote the articles for all writers, but I wrote them especially to myself. I’m so grateful for that year and for the chapter expecting me to keep on keeping on.

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Writers all around me were selling their books. I had accumulated enough rejections to paper a room. And then there were all the ones that just never got back to me. Don’t you hate when that happens? Both my critique partners had sold, and something changes when that happens. Your goals change. Your obligations change. And so you move on. One of the things I’ve learned is everyone must find their own way in this business. We learn from others, but ultimately we have to write to find our voice and to make it happen.

If you’re like me, its hard to find time to write during the holidays. The wonderful thing is whenever we make time to get to the computer or laptop or you few amazing folks who still pick up a pencil to write, we can find that joy of spewing out words, telling our tales of murder, suspense, and romance. And what a joy and what a privilege it is to say “I am a writer.”  “I am an author.” “People read my books.”IMG_6427

Pretty amazing, huh?

As grateful as I am to be apart of NTRWA, I’m also thankful to be a part of this blog. Writing is a solitary business. My writing chapter and you in Sisterhood of Suspense connect me to real people who share my dreams and aspirations. I am blessed to be a part of you all.

Readers, don’t forget to participate in our contest and to sign up for our members’ individual newsletters, follow us on FB, check out our websites, and of course, leave a review after you read one of our books. Besides each other, we need you readers, too.

Whatever you are celebrating at this time of year, I wish you joy and peace, love and family.

marsha@marsharwest.com  http://www.marsharwest.com 

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