#GuestDayTuesday featuring Author #DebbieRussell


It’s #GuestDayTuesday once again, folks, and today, I’m happy to have Debbie Russell with us to talk about her upcoming book, Crossing Fifty-One: Not Quite A Memoir. This book sounds very intriguing, and you have a chance to get the first chapter free, too, which is always nice! With that in mind, let’s all welcome Debbie to The Write Stuff.  And Debbie, that’s your cue to take it away! 😀

Thanks so much for having me! I really enjoy your lovely blog and I’m so excited to share Crossing Fifty-One with your audience!

In essence, it’s a love letter to my dad. The idea for the book first came to me in 2005 when I stumbled across a file of family letters from my grandfather’s stay at the “Narcotic Farm.” I remember feeling really stunned by the discovery, especially since no one in the family had ever mentioned it. The letters revealed a loving and strong family dynamic, in a time when communication by letter was typical.

When my dad was accepted into hospice in 2016, I became acutely aware that my paternal lineage was disappearing. I’d always been interested in family history and genealogy and felt enormous pressure to preserve everything I knew about my dad and his family. I wanted to understand my dad through his experience as a son and brother, so I brought the letters out again. The events that followed were so remarkable that I knew I had to somehow weave my own experience with that of my grandfather’s.I’m still offering the first chapter free to new subscribers to my monthly newsletter, which you can find at my website HERE


A week before Christmas 1951, Dr. Ralph Russell, a successful San Diego surgeon, risked everything to voluntarily enter a locked federal drug-treatment facility known as a “narcotic farm.”

Sixty-five years later, Dr. Russell’s granddaughter Debbie suffers a debilitating crisis of identity when her father, (Dr. Russell’s oldest son) always her biggest fan, is accepted into hospice.

Debbie’s investigation into her paternal lineage reveals family secrets and ignites her mother’s volatile outbursts, propelling her into therapy.

When therapy fails her, the grandfather Debbie never knew saves her, and she collaborates with her dying father one last time to make her biggest dream come true.

Crossing Fifty-One pulls back the curtain on the internal struggles of midlife and provides a blueprint for redefining one’s self beyond the constraints of addiction and dysfunctional family dynamics.


Debbie Russell’s Crossing Fifty-One: Not Quite a Memoir is a touching reflection on familial history that doubles as a personal exploration of the author’s own identity. The book follows Russell’s journey as she faces her father’s terminal illness, exploring her ancestry as a means of coming to terms with her grief. Through her research, Russell uncovers a volume written by her great-grandfather, a man of ego and destiny, whose characteristics mirror her own. Russell goes on to examine the scientific basis of her genetic traits, a concept that she believes is informed by both the men and women in her family. Her grandfather, a medical doctor, passed down a wealth of knowledge to her father who, in turn, passed on his loving nature to Russell. Ultimately, Crossing Fifty-One serves as a reminder that our familial histories are often deeply ingrained within us, shaping who we are and who we will become…

Here is an author who had done some serious homework and all I had to do was pick a comfortable chair and let her tell me how it went. The writing is exceptional, and the delicate balancing act between the tangible science and the emotional journey is really, really well done. I found myself choked up multiple times and had difficulty putting the book down even though it was past my bedtime…Very highly recommended.

All of my Readers’ Favorite advance reviews can be found HERE

More advance reviews can be found at Goodreads HERE

Author Debbie Russell

Debbie Russell is a lawyer turned writer. She spent twenty-five years as an Assistant County Attorney in Minneapolis, prosecuting numerous high-profile cases and fighting off several nervous breakdowns. At age fifty-five, Debbie took early retirement, giving up a full pension for the freedom of time. She now spends that precious time writing, restoring her property to native prairie and wetlands, and training her rambunctious retrievers.

Debbie’s first published article appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2001. After that small triumph, her writing focused primarily on legal briefs and memoranda, which were consigned to district court files. Debbie resumed creative writing in 2014 when she began her storytelling blog, sharing personal stories and professional experiences that have touched her life in a significant way. Debbie’s article “Getting the Most out of Therapy: Easier Said than Done,” partially based on events in her book, was top ranked in the December 2021 issue of Elephant Journal, an online magazine that celebrates the mindful life.

Buy Crossing Fifty-One: Not Quite a Memoir Here:

Find Debbie on Social Media Here:

You can contact Debbie HERE






#GuestDayTuesday – #D.L.Finn – #BlogTour – In the Tree’s Shadow

It’s time for #GuestDayTuesday again, and perfect timing for a new release from author D. L. Finn. Denise has been touring with her latest collection of short stories, and I’m very happy to help her get the word out, too. I know you’ll enjoy her post today, so let’s get started. Denise, the floor’s all yours! 😊

Thank you for having me here today, Marcia, to share my short story collection, In a Tree’s Shadow.

“Alone” was written during a massive snowstorm last year that left my husband and me isolated for several days without power. My husband ventured out once to get gas for the generator after clearing the snow at the end of our driveway. This machine powers our well, so we have water and outlets in the bedroom so my husband’s CPAP machine can run while keeping our fridge running and use the microwave if needed.

I stayed home to keep the fire going. I wrote some poetry, and then my mind turned to the pure aloneness I felt at that moment. This story came from those thoughts while I waited for my husband to return home safely. He commented that it was the worse conditions he’s driven in, which is saying a lot. Most of the town was shut down except for a few gas stations and grocery stores—if they had enough employees.

In this story, Lydia’s husband collapses while cleaning snow off their driveway. An ambulance can make it there, and they offer her to go with them, but she decides to drive there. That one decision changed how things went for this couple.


A collection of short stories where dreams and nightmares coexist.

Nestled inside these pages, you’ll meet a couple in their golden years who take a trip with an unexpected detour, a boy desperate to give his brother the Christmas gift he asked for, a girl with a small glass dragon who is at the mercy of her cruel uncles, and a young mother who has a recurring dream about murder. You’ll be introduced to worlds where people get second chances and monsters might be allowed their desires, while angels and dragons try to help. Happy endings occur, but perspective can blur the line between good and evil in these twenty-seven tales. Since the stories vary between 99 and 12,000 words, whether you have only five minutes or an entire evening to settle into reading, there is something that will suit your time and taste.


The drought had left them all lazy. No one was prepared for a big storm as the heavy rains turned into snow the night before. Lydia had never minded being snowed in, even without power. But this time, with no power, internet, or communication, there was no joy, only anxiety. It was the first time in her life that she was entirely alone. The emptiness echoed loudly around her, bouncing off the carefully framed photos of happier times when living in a forest had been fun. There was only fear today when she went to leave the house and spotted an intruder. She quickly stepped back inside, slammed the door shut, and locked it. Wiping the frost from the front window, she peered through. They were still there. She tried waving, hoping they needed help, but there was no response except her goosebumps and sweaty palms. Without Bill she had to survive what Mother Nature brought her and a trespasser.

She squinted, but the face was hidden in the shadows. She was convinced it was a man under forty from his brawny warrior stance. He wore faded blue jeans, a red plaid shirt, a black vest, and a black stocking cap, much like many of the men in their small community, including Bill. The snow boots were dated and reminded her of the ones they used to own. Moon boots, Bill called them. Misery coursed through her, thinking of her husband fighting for his life at the hospital while she couldn’t get to him.

This person had to know she was alone and no one could help her. He must have watched the ambulance come and was aware there would be no 9-1-1 calls coming from her house—the power and phones had gone out right after. There was only the silence of a massive storm. She had not bothered to start the generator because she was planning to leave.



  1. I saw a pod of humpback whales from a plane as it was circling to land on Kauai.
  2. Sometimes, I won’t walk in the forest when I feel a bad vibe.

Author D. L. Finn

D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include children’s books, adult fiction, a unique autobiography, and poetry. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

 D.L. Finn Links:

D.L. Finn blog
Amazon Page

#GuestDayTuesday – Featuring #AuthorSallyCronin – #BloggerExtraordinaire

Today, it is my great pleasure to introduce someone who actually needs no introduction at all … but I’m giving her one, anyway. 😁Please help me welcome Author and Blogger Extraordinaire, Sally Cronin. Most of you are very familiar with Sally and her fabulous Smorgasbord blog, but I’m guessing you may not be quite as familiar with the romantic story she’s sharing here today. I know you’re gonna love it, so let’s get to it!  Sally, my friend, the floor is yours! 😀

So delighted to be back as a guest on my always ROCKIN’ friend’s blog.
A fantastic place to be showcased!
Thanks so much Marcia

Life Changing Moments -The Rocky Road to True Romance

Have you ever wondered why the classic fairy stories that involve a beautiful farmer’s daughter, scullery maid or even a princess, who are swept off their feet by a handsome and rich stranger on a white horse; end with the words ‘And they lived happily ever after’.

Because most were written by men at a time when a woman was a chattel who cooked, cleaned and bore children. The men however went about their business as usual; of course living happily ever after.

That may sound a bit cynical, but I can remember as a child being fed the propaganda. Most commonly via bedtime stories and the ‘Happy Ever After’ films that we were allowed to watch in our teen years. Disney had the whole thing down to a fine art.

By the time I was sixteen, I was convinced that at some point, a rich and handsome stranger was going to gallop into my life and sweep me off into a fairy tale future in a palace with a new generation of princes and princesses, and a life of love and contentment.

By the time I was 19 years old I had kissed a few frogs, and thought that Prince Charming had ridden in a few times, but discovered that in reality they just as quickly rode off into the sunset. Still that is all part of growing up, but because of the indoctrination of childhood, I mistook one particular prince for the real thing.

Oh the joy in the royal family that the princess had been chosen by a prince of such standing from the neighbouring county. A large and lavish wedding was orchestrated by the two queens with the kings simply opening the doors to their treasure houses. The invitation lists in both palaces grew by the hour as dignitaries were invited from far and wide. Many of whom the princess and prince had never met! The reception was a masterpiece of just the right location and the food suitably divine. A vaulted arch of the prince’s entourage lined the drive from the grand cathedral; carriages awaited to take the jubilant bridal party to the festivities.

A few glasses of champagne, elegant speeches and a thrown bouquet that was caught by the next lucky bride, and the prince swept the princess off on his charger into the sunset to the awaiting bridal chamber.

They call it a day to remember, and certainly as I thought about the celebrations in the weeks, months and years that followed, I knew it would be etched on my mind forever. Such an auspicious beginning, and at first it seemed that the dream would continue. However, pretty quickly, what I had believed to be the epitome of true romance had vanished. As tragedy, a controlling environment and betrayal came to light, I found myself trapped by the web that had been spun around me; I felt it would be impossible to break free without angering so many.

But one morning I woke up to find the spell had lost its power, and despite the threat of banishment to a far off land where my shame would not be witnessed by family and friends; I packed up a small bundle of clothes and hit the road. I spent the next three years concealing my whereabouts and keeping well away from anyone who knew me. I ended up in the depths of the Welsh mountains where I worked hard to make my own way, and drifted in and out of a few half-hearted relationships. I was not going to be caught up in the fairy tale again. I was very happy to be alone and to spend my life making my own decisions and being loved by cats.

Then, would you believe it… a prince arrived in disguise. Quiet and bespectacled and riding an ancient nag that had seen better days. There were no grand or extravagant gestures, just a gentle wearing down of my defences. But there was magic involved, of that I am certain. I felt myself being drawn in despite the walls I had built around me. A different kind of spell was being woven that enchanted me, and after only one dinner date, I found myself saying yes to spending a lifetime together with this softly spoken handsome suitor..

The Queen and King back at the castle where I was born were aghast on hearing that I was betrothed again. And to a foreign prince from afar with as yet unknown credentials, who had the audacity to propose on our first date; the Queen announced that she was about to faint.

My prince was not about to let the grass grow under his steed however and he approached the King and asked for his daughter’s hand. With the memory of the extravagance of the previous match, the king offered him £5 and a step ladder in the hopes there would be an elopement.

Which there was, and within six weeks, very quietly and without undue ceremony, we were married. This time just both sets of Kings and Queens and one lady in waiting attended! Drenching rain blessed the union in a small registry office in Wales.

After a festive lunch we set off on the prince’s ancient steed to a rather dark castle in the mountains where the bridal suite, decked in red flock wallpaper, vibrated to the noise emanating from the public bar beneath.

Then it was off to the damp and musty rooms that we managed to find whilst we worked and built up enough savings to buy our first modest home. This was followed by 42 years of travelling the world, living in wonderful countries and working together, with the promise we hope of many more years to come. Despite what had gone before; compelling me to seek sanctuary in that isolated spot in the mountains, it was clearly meant to be, and without doubt led to a life changing moment.

The End

(A Happily Ever After Ending if Ever I Read One, Sally!)

Author Sally Cronin

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, I wrote and published my first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about my weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 13 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections. 

My aim was to create a watering hole on my blog to provide a wide number of topics to chat about…..This year in September 2020, Smorgasbord in its current format, celebrated its 7th anniversary. 

As important as my own promotion is, I believe it’s important to support others within our community. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog, linked to my social media 

Having lived a nomadic existence most of my life, I am now settled on the coast of Wexford in Southern Ireland with my husband of 40 years, enjoying the odd sunny day and the rain that puts the Emerald in the Isles.

You can find Sally’s book, and Sally, herself HERE:

Amazon US
Amazon UK 

#GuestDayTuesday – Featuring Author #D. G. Kaye

Today, it is my great pleasure to have author D. G. Kaye (known to many of us as Debby Gies) as my special guest. I know you are all going to enjoy Debby’s very interesting post, so I will let her have the floor without further ado. Debby, take it away! 😀

Thanks so much for having me over today Marcia to share my recent release of my new book, Fifteen First Times – Beginnings: A Collection of Indelible Firsts. After two years of no real production, I managed to get this book out just before Christmas 2022.


Do you ever think back on past events which have left an indelible impression on you or your life, or find that the incidents you’ve endured through life have helped shape the person you’ve become? Are your formed perceptions and values developed from experience, and have they consequently become incorporated into your daily life? Our experiences are steppingstones for much of what feed our character. We live, we experience, we learn, we become, and we overcome.

 Nobody sent me the memo on life, and most of the time, I had zero confidence to broach the subject of my conflictions and situations with anyone. All these events I experienced and share in my stories happened with little to no guidance or knowledge, making much of my young life experiences processes of trial and error. I was like the proverbial child who grew up in the wild, except I had parents and a comfortable home.

In these fifteen short stories, I’m fessing up to some firsts in my life, some of which turned out to serve as monumental lessons. These weren’t life-altering moments, but rather, moments of teaching to move my life forward, leaving me with scars and awakening moments, confirming my curiosities, and leading me in new directions of growth.

I finished writing this book just over three years ago. When it was ready for edits, I left it to marinate since it was late 2019 and I was getting ready for my winter escape with my husband in early 2020. By the time we returned in mid-March, Covid lockdowns began and so did my husband’s deterioration of his health. The book was the furthest from my mind, as I had no head for edits and publishing. The year got worse as it progressed, and I lost my husband early spring of 2021. Needless to say, I was in no state of mind for publishing. I pushed myself to get back to it summer 2022, along with many other projects I’d left on hold. And I kept my promise to myself that I’d publish this book before 2022 came to an end. Mission accomplished.

These short stories are a reminiscing back to some of the firsts in my life. They are moments that left an imprint and propelled me forward through life. Nothing that happens to us is insignificant – everything that happens is for a reason or for teaching us something to take forward with us.


This book is a collection of stories about some of Kaye’s first-time experiences with life’s most natural events. Told through the intimate conversational writing we’ve come to know from this author, poignant personal steppingstones to learning moments are revealed. She encompasses the heart of each matter with sincerity and sprinkled inflections of humor.

From first kiss to first car to walking in the desert with four-inch heels, Kaye’s short coming-of-age stories take us through her awakenings and important moments of growth, often without warning.  Some good and some not, life lessons are learned through trial and error, winging it, and navigating by the seat of her pants.


D.G. Kaye writes with heartfelt regard and unabashed honesty. The life experiences she shares in Fifteen First Times evoke tears as well as laughter. Kaye’s candor and compassion will no doubt appeal to and help many seeking to grow and come into their own. I highly recommend this book and all others by this forthright author. The reader will be left with an ardent desire for more. ~ Author, Tina Frisco


First Blood

May circa 1971, one month before my twelfth birthday, I dashed to my junior high school girls’ bathroom. It was my first year, grade seven. I felt somewhat under the weather, and a cramping sensation made me think I’d wet my pants. With thighs squeezed tight, I scurried to the washroom to investigate what was going on down under. I pulled down my tight Wrangler jeans and plopped myself onto the toilet. And then I saw it. A small crimson pool had saturated my once-white underwear, and my thighs were stained red. Holy shit! I cried out. “What the hell is wrong with me?”

My mind raced as I tried to assess what on earth was happening to me. I went through a checklist of plausible reasons for the mini bloodbath between my legs but couldn’t think of what I might have done to cause it. I knew I hadn’t banged into anything, and I wasn’t in dire pain. All I felt was a slight stretching of my innards. And no, I’d never even heard the word menstruation. What I feared most was, would the hemorrhaging ever stop? One thing I knew for certain—I wasn’t about to tell a soul.

I cleaned up as best I could with what I had to work with, padded my underpants with approximately four inches thick of scruffy brown paper towels from the school bathroom dispensing machine and stole a bunch more to stash in my purse because I didn’t know if that was the end of the affair or if there was more to come. If I’d had any education about what the horrifying event meant, I might have inserted a nickel into the sanitary pad dispenser—if I’d even known what they were for.

A Few Reviews

My review for the book December 21st 2022 by Sally Cronin

The author has a natural conversational style of writing that draws you in as if she is talking to you personally. Her memories prompt the reader’s own experiences at similar ages, and raises a smile or two at the similarities between girls of a certain age, however many thousands of miles they live apart.

This is particularly true in this collection of stories as Kaye shares episodes from her childhood such as playing in her mother’s stiletto shoes which would fuel a lifetime’s love of footwear, a first kiss, and taking that first puff of a parent’s discarded cigarette.

With the smiles comes the tears, as we identify the moments of loneliness and isolation as a girl becomes a woman without the support needed from a mother, a dysfunctional family life, and the loss of a much loved friend who shared the formative years between teens and late twenties.

At the end of the collection is a wonderful tribute to her late husband, who made her laugh every day and was the first and last love of her life.

D.G. Kaye writes with poignancy but also great humour, which makes these first times all the more delightful and memorable. The experiences are not just relevant to girls growing up, as many are relateable to boys and young men coping with the cultural and social expectations of the day, and finding their way in life and relationships. Take a walk down the memory lane of your own life in very good company. Highly recommended.

My Review: By Judith Barrow

Fifteen First Times is a collection of short but evocative memoirs by D G Kaye. I actually wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started to read. All I knew was that, having read various other books by this author, and having always admired her intimate writing style, I was in for a treat. I wasn’t disappointed.

 Although brought up in a different country with a background that was poles apart from my own, I found myself nodding, reminiscing, and recognising so many of her firsts. Indeed I would go so far as to say, that many women would recognise something of themselves, something of their own experiences, in what these recollections bring to mind, wherever they have lived.

 The poignancy of some of the stories brought tears, others a “laugh out loud” moment. But all are written with integrity and complete openness, something I always anticipate from D G Kaye. It’s like sharing and swopping tales from our youths. We have all had our “firsts” in our lives, and this compilation of memories is a treat that makes the reader sit back and reminisce – very satisfying.

So, I would urge any reader to immerse themselves in this book … to enjoy and reflect on their own “firsts”. That’s what this author’s words brought out in me. Highly recommended.

As I say above, I have read other books by D G Kaye, and never been disappointed. The following are a couple from quite a while ago; around the first time I came across this author. As you will see, I’ve been impressed by her writing for many years. Do check them out…

Author D.  G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye is a Canadian author living in Toronto. She is a nonfiction writer of memoirs about her life experiences, matters of the heart, and women’s issues. Her positive outlook keeps her on track, allowing her to take on life’s challenges with a dose of humor and a mission to overcome adversity.

D.G. began writing when pen and paper became the tools to express her pent-up emotions during her turbulent childhood. She began journaling about her life at a young age and continued writing about the people and events that left imprints and lessons. She writes books to share her stories and inspiration.

D.G. is a big advocate for kindness and for empowering women. Her favorite saying is “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When she’s not writing, D.G. loves to read (self-help books and stories of triumph), cook (concocting new recipes, never to come out the same way twice), shop (only if it’s a great sale), play poker (when she gets the chance), and, most of all, travel.

Visit her website at www.dgkayewriter.com and join her mailing list to keep up with her latest blogs and news about her books and events.

You Can Buy D. G.’s Books Here

Amazon Author’s Page: www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

You can reach D. G. on Social Media here

Email: d.g.kaye.writer@gmail.com

Blog: https://dgkayewriter.com/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/@pokercubster
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dgkaye
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7

 Podcast links: Grief the Real Talk


#GuestDayTuesday – #GwenPlano – #Redemption, A Father’s Fatal Decision

Welcome to #GuestDayTuesday, everyone! Today, our special guest is one of the super nice folks I’ve met through our writing and blogging community, Gwen Plano. I’m really happy to have Gwen  visiting us to talk about her newest book, Redemption, A Father’s Fatal Decision, so without any further delay, I’ll turn the floor over to her. Gwen, you’re on!

Thank you, Marcia, for welcoming me to your beautiful blog. Through you, I’ve met so many wonderful people, most of whom are writers. It’s an honor to share my new book with all of you. Before I introduce the book, though, I’d like to share a little background information. 

About a year ago, my husband and I moved from Branson, Missouri to the high desert around Prescott, AZ. At 5,000 feet elevation, much is different: the vegetation, the wildlife, even the sky. Every day is an adventure, and this adventure stimulates ideas and evokes prayer.

A recurring question I’ve had centers around the concept of redemption. With the world suffering as it is, and with many of us wanting to do something to help but not knowing what that could be, I thought about bringing the world to each of us. That line of thinking helped birth Redemption, A Father’s Fatal Decision.

My prior 3-book thriller series focuses on international threats, political leaders, and the military. Though I learned immeasurably from writing these books, I still wonder how we, simple voters, help shift the world as we know it. What role do we have?

Redemption, A Father’s Fatal Decision is my response. It is a mystery thriller focused on a family. It takes place in the southeast corner of New York state, in the towns of New Rochelle and Cortlandt. The characters occasionally travel to Old Lyme, Connecticut, but for the most part, the drama is in New York. Having spent about twenty years in and around that area, it was exciting to visit as a writer.

The book tackles themes of forgiveness, redemption, and absolution through suspense. A father is murdered on the first page of the book, and readers accompany the adult son and daughter as they try to uncover the reason for their father’s murder. What they discover prompts their questions about forgiveness, redemption, and absolution.

Sometimes complicated situations, such as the ones in this book, help us see our own challenges in a different light. That is my hope for this book. Most of us won’t experience threats like those of my characters, but pain is universal, as is joy. Seeing either in the extreme helps us recognize our own—and severe or elated, those emotions impact us.

The excerpt below sets the stage for the drama that unfolds.


The simple ranch-style residence appears odd on the street of two-story colonials. Modest by neighborhood standards, it has proven sufficient for their family needs. Once out of the car, Lisa does a 180-degree glance about and concludes nothing has changed. The yard still appears unkempt, the window shade still broken, and the screen door remains torn—all just as a year ago, two years ago, maybe even five years ago.

Apprehensive, she climbs the three steps to the front door, calls in her “hello,” and waits. Mom greets her first.

“Oh, Lisa dear, I’m so happy you’ve arrived safely. Come on in, come on in. Can I get you something? You must be hungry after the drive.”

Just as she starts to respond, her dad appears.

“Nice of you to visit. Traffic problems?”

Lisa shrugs off his insinuation of dawdling, takes a deep breath, and gives him a cursory hug.

“I’ll be right back. I need to get my clothes.”

Slump-shouldered, Lisa walks to her car, stepping more heavily than usual. After grabbing her suitcase, she slams the door shut. The hell has begun.

She retraces her steps back into the house and goes straight to her childhood bedroom. Just then, the doorbell rings and sends an eerie chill down Lisa’s spine. She drops her suitcase and shouts to her father, “Don’t answer the door, Dad. Something’s not right.”

 He doesn’t follow her advice, and instead, goes to the door and pulls it open.

“Joe.” Her dad says, shifting backward slowly. “You’re not supposed to be here. We agreed.”

“You broke that agreement. Where is it?”

“I don’t have it.”

“You were warned.”

One minute.

Three shots.

And Lisa’s dad lies lifeless on the worn planked floor.


From writer D.L. Finn: Redemption is a fast-paced thriller that hooked me from the first page. Lisa came home to visit her parents. She had a bad feeling when the doorbell rang, but she couldn’t stop what happened next. With her father dead, her mother fighting for her life, and her brother, Trace, in another country, she struggles to figure out what happened. Lisa quickly realizes she needs to be careful whom she trusts because her world is turned upside down as the truth slowly unravels. Luckily, her brother and his friend, Ryan, come to her aid. I love how they are there for each other, while Lisa’s strength, love of family, and intelligence are inspiring. She bravely stands by her mother while trying to understand her father. I found this book hard to put down with all the twists weaved into a family’s story. The research put into this mystery made it even more chilling because of the possibility that it could happen. The themes of redemption and forgiveness tugged at my heart, and I highly recommend this suspenseful family drama.

Buy Redemption HERE


Family secrets can be deadly. When Lisa visits her parents one fateful Saturday morning, she hugs her father and takes her suitcase to her childhood bedroom. The doorbell rings, and one minute later her father lies dead on the floor—three bullets to the chest. The death of Eric Holmes sends shockwaves throughout the quiet neighborhood. But for the Holmes family, it is devastating.
In this fast-paced psychological thriller, Lisa and her brother embark on a quest to solve the mystery of their father’s murder. The journey takes them into a secret world where nothing is as it seems. Once the puzzle pieces begin to coalesce, they realize that their father had multiple lives. As the facts unravel, the siblings discover the true meaning of Redemption.

Author Gwen M. Plano

In my pre-retirement years, I taught and served as an administrator in colleges in Japan, New York, Connecticut, and California. My academic background is a bit unusual, but it served me well. I’ve degrees in theology and psychology, both subjects helped me understand life a bit better. And to this day, I’m drawn to ancient truths found in Native communities, churches, and meditation halls. Since I was a child, I’ve sought answers, that’s an integral aspect of who I am. And though it’s taken years, I’ve discovered that Love underskirts all.    

My greatest treasure and most profound source of joy has been and is my four adult children. It is they who have guided me through life’s mysteries and brought me to a profound place of gratitude. My books, memoir, and thrillers address themes that arise from my questions and theirs.


Story Empire


Amazon Author Page
Amazon Purchase Page
Barnes and Noble




#GuestDayTuesday – #JoanHall – #Menagerie

Time for another #GuestDayTuesday, and it’s my great pleasure to have author Joan Hall visiting with us today. I know you’ll enjoy her thoughts on Music and Writing, so let’s get right to it. Take it away, Joan! 😀

Music and Writing

Hi Marcia. It’s a pleasure to be here today. I want to thank you for sharing your blog space and allowing me to connect with your readers. Although I’ve been a guest before, I’ll start by telling people a little about me.

From the age of ten, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I would scribble stories on pieces of paper. I’ve always loved wildlife and nature, so writing little vignettes about animals. Around the time I entered high school, I dabbled in poetry, then wrote my first “novel” on notebook paper when I was seventeen.

After graduation, I got busy with life and set aside writing, but the desire never left me. It wasn’t until late 2007 that I decided to do something about it and began taking online writing classes. Another few years passed before I published my first book, a novella titled The Stranger. To date, I’ve published seven books and have stories included in four anthologies. My most recent release is Menagerie. It’s a collection of thirteen mystery, suspense, and contemporary short stories.

Other than writing, music has always been a big part of my life. My mother played a radio in my nursery when I was a baby, so maybe that played a big part shaping my love for music, particularly classic rock from the sixties and seventies.

My brother is twelve years older than me, and he had a collection of ‘45s and albums. While he was at school, I played his records all day long. Before I learned to read the labels, Mom would tell me what each record was, and I would set aside the ones I wanted to hear. I used this real-life event in “Hot August Night,” one of the stories in Menagerie.

In early 1964, I fell in love with four young men from Liverpool, England. For my sixth birthday, my brother gave me a ’45 of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Almost sixty years later, I’m still a Beatles fan.

I create playlists for all my books and often mention songs in my work. A song by the Eagles served as the inspiration for the opening chapter of Unclear Purposes, the third book of my Driscoll Lake series. I’d written the opening chapter and wasn’t happy with it. One day while listening to the radio, “Lyin’ Eyes” began to play. Immediately, I knew how I’d write the opening.

John Denver’s music is also inspiring. Years ago, I used to write a First Friday Fiction post on my blog. One year I wrote a series with a twenty-seven-year-old main character old who returned to his hometown and discovered a few things about himself. You guessed it. “Rocky Mountain High” was the inspiration.

Elements of another John Denver song can be found in “Lone Wolf,” another story in Menagerie. Those familiar with his music would recognize elements of “I Think I’d Rather Be a Cowboy.”

The first Legends of Madeira book is a dual-timeline story and was inspired by a song. “Long Black Veil” is a country ballad first recorded in 1959 by Lefty Frizzell. The version I like and am most familiar with is by The Band and was on their Music From Big Pink album. The idea that a person who was hanged for a crime he didn’t commit could sing about his lover visiting his grave always intrigued me. I changed things around a bit, but that’s how Cold Dark Night began.

Music is still inspiring me. The morning I wrote this post, a song by the Traveling Wilburys came to mind. I have a feeling “Heading For The Light” will find its way into a story or a playlist.

This is just a few of the songs that have inspired me. I hope to continue listening to music, being inspired, and writing stories for a long time.

You Can Buy Menagerie HERE


King’s. The Tower of London. Glass. What do these have in common?

Each is a famous menagerie.

While this Menagerie doesn’t focus on exotic animals, it does contain a collection of stories that explore various trials people face and how their reactions shape their worlds.

Survivors of a haunted bridge. Women who wait while their husbands fight a war. Former partners reuniting to solve a cold-case murder.

These are just three of the thirteen stories in this compendium, encompassing past and present, natural and supernatural, legend and reality. The genres and timelines are varied, but there’s a little something for everyone who enjoys reading about simpler times and small-town life.


Terrific Selection of Stories!

I don’t often read short story collections, but I’m very glad I decided to give this one a go. Each story was the perfect length to read in one sitting, and each captured (and held) my interest from start to finish.

Social and Website Links:

Website | Blog| Newsletter |Goodreads |BookBub  | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Vocal


#ThankYou – #WendyLScott – And Anniversary Well Wishers!

Thank you so much to Wendy Scott for being my special guest Tuesday, and to all of you who responded to her very interesting post. Sorry I wasn’t home to join in the comments, but I hope you ALL know how much I love having guests, and seeing visitors enjoy them. Wendy, you’re welcome back any time!

I’d also like to thank everyone who wished Mark and I a happy 37th anniversary the same day. As you may know, that’s the reason I wasn’t home to attend to Wendy’s post as usual. Happily, we had a very nice day, and hope to begin getting out a bit more, fingers crossed.

And now, back to business. Hope you enjoy today’s #ThorsDaySmile, and are looking forward to, among other things, another #TenThings post next week, featuring Tony Slater. (Trust me. You won’t believe his list! 😁)

I’m thankful and grateful for every single one of you!

Have a great day!

#GuestDayTuesday – Featuring #WendyL.Scott

Good Morning, Everyone! It’s #GuestDayTuesday again, and today, I’m happy to introduce our guest of the day, Wendy L. Scott. Wendy has some very interesting things to share with you, including a wonderfully creative idea for a children’s book, in addition to her memoir. So, without further ado, I’m going to turn the floor over to her. Wendy, you’re on!

Hi readers. I’m so thankful for this opportunity to be a part of Marcia’s Guest Day Tuesday! As an author of a memoir, I’d like to share a little bit about the book and hopefully pique your interest. You will find that my writing style is similar to sitting down with an old friend and listening to their life story.

I grew up knowing I had a half-sibling but rarely was that person ever acknowledged or spoken of. That person was born out of wedlock in the sixties (1963 for me), and back then it was very shameful for this to happen. Without going into too much detail and spoiling the book, the baby became a ward of the court and then was eventually adopted. 

Jumping ahead to the nineties, married with one child and struggling to conceive another, I wondered what life would be like for that half-sibling of mine and if they had any brothers or sisters. My son may never have a sibling and being one of three girls, I couldn’t imagine life without them. It would be so lonely to be an only child and not have that bond I shared with my sisters. I decided to go in search of this person just to tell them they did have other family members who were thinking about them.

Due to genetics, environmental factors, and a controlling parent and spouse, my life became riddled with anxiety and depression. Along with that came insecurities and self-esteem issues causing me to become a very shy and self-conscious individual. But the need to find this person pushed me outside of my comfort zone and eventually helped me to work through these very serious and debilitating mental health issues.

I began my search before the internet really exploded so most of it was done through library research, cold calls, and making connections through organizations. With only the birth name and a few details, each step led me along a path where at some points I reached a dead end. Because of my need to succeed, my faith in God and my ever persevering personality to prove myself, I kept going no matter what life threw at me.

The book details some heartbreaking events but also highlights some unexpected and unbelievable twists and turns in my search. During the writing of the book, my goal was to keep the reader engrossed so much that by the end of each chapter they couldn’t put it down. But honestly, isn’t that the goal of most writers?

Should my story be of interest to you, I invite you to read my memoir and tell me if I accomplished my goal. Can you put it down before my story ends?


Wendy grew up knowing she had a half-sibling, but didn’t have the details. When she hits thirty years of age, and having suffered a few tragic losses, Wendy is compelled to search for this stranger. Questioning family members, weeding through library research, investigating several organizations, making cold calls, and building new relationships are just a few of the steps Wendy will guide you through. Along the way, she encounters circumstances that challenge her search and force her to make crucial moral decisions. If you were in Wendy’s shoes, what would you decide?

This true account of one woman’s struggle to find her half-sibling will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. This heartwarming and sometimes uncomfortably honest story will carry you along on Wendy’s quest for closure and peace.

What awaits Wendy at the end of her long journey? Will the path she takes enable this determined adventurer to find what she’s looking for?

Author Logo
Author Wendy L. Scott

Wendy L. Scott-Hawkins is a full-time Educational Assistant, mother of two adult children, an avid walker and a Scrabble enthusiast. She uses her life experiences to craft her talent of writing from the heart. Searching For a Stranger and Finding Myself – A Memoir is her first book.

Buy Searching For a Stranger and Finding Myself (on Amazon) HERE
Buy Searching For a Stranger and Finding Myself (Barnes & Noble) HERE

The House That Grew Feet is Wendy’s first creative children’s book (only available in Canada –  email or Facebook for more info)

You can reach Wendy on Social Media here:

Email: jawsco892@hotmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WendyLScottHawkinsAuthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendylscotthawkinsauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wendyauthor1
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/wendylscott-hawkins



#GuestDayTuesday – Featuring #JohnW.Howell and #TheLastDrive

Hooray! It’s #GuestDayTuesday once again, and I’m pleased to say our first guest of 2023 is John W. Howell, a good friend of writers everywhere. I know you’ll make John welcome, as he shares his latest book with us today. Take it away, John!

I am so pleased to be with you today, Marcia Thank you for helping spread the word about The Last Drive. You have had such challenges this year with COVID, and Hurricanes I am grateful that you are able to host me as part of the tour. You know Lucifer has been giving the protagonists a rough time with the idea of breaking their spirit. I don’t want to draw a connection to Lucifer in your case but am so happy that none of your challenges has kept you from continuing your normal productive writer’s life. It is good to have you back and I’m pleased to be the first guest of 2023.

The Last Drive Blurb

In the sequel to Eternal Road – The final stop, Sam and James are reunited to look for two souls, Ryan and Eddie. Ryan was killed in Afghanistan, trying to avoid a schoolyard with his crippled plane. Eddie Rickenbacker, Ryan’s hero, is to guide Ryan to his Eternal Home, and now both are missing.

The higher-ups believe that there has been some interference in Ryan and Eddie’s journey by Lucifer, so Sam and James have the task of finding Ryan and Eddie to get them back on the road despite the evil interference. Unfortunately, the machinations designed to prevent Ryan and Eddy from completing their journey take the pair to horrifying testing grounds. The places visited represent the best work of the Devil. They are the trenches of World War I in France, gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, the sinking Titanic in 1912, Hiroshima 45 minutes before the bomb, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.

This book is for you if you like plenty of action, strong characters, time travel, and a touch of spiritual and historical fiction. So, join Sam and James as they try to find the missing souls while staying one step ahead of the Prince of Darkness, who is determined to destroy all that is good.


 The Oldsmobile shakes and lifts into the water. The sensation of movement returns, and Sam reaches over to touch James’s hand. The familiar settling feeling of the Olds tells them they’ve reached their destination. James says, “Looks like we’re here.”

“I don’t recognize this place.”

James shakes his head. “Yeah, it’s sure not my Eternal Home.”

“I wonder where we are? Wait a minute. Look over there.”

James shields his eyes. “Where?”

Sam points. “Look past that line of trees. I see a lot of dust rising.”

James follows where Sam points. “You’re right. What’s going on?”

“We’d better get out of the car and find out where we are. I have a feeling that bastard has sent us on a learning mission.”

James’s eyebrows rise. “Learning mission?”

Sam nods. “Yeah. You know when he doesn’t get his way, he tends to make our situation a living nightmare.”

“I like how you put that. I would say an Eternal Nightmare.”

James opens the door, steps out of the Oldsmobile, and shields his eyes with his hand.

Sam comes around to his side. “What do you think it is?”

“If I were a betting man, I would say those are troops on horseback.”

“You don’t suppose that creep sent us to a different time?”

“Ding, ding, ding. The young lady wins again.”

Sam gives James a punch to the arm. “Very funny. This worries me.”

James stares and frowns. “A line of Union cavalry just came from those woods.”

Sam stands on her tip-toes. “How can you tell?”

“Look at the uniforms and the guidon. It’s the thirty-four-star swallowtail flag used during the battle of Gettysburg.”

“You think we’re at Gettysburg?”

James nods. “I would bet on it.”

Sam moves closer and takes his arm. “There were over ninety-thousand Union and seventy-thousand Confederate troops at that battle. Where’re the rest?”

“These guys may be the first arrivals. Maybe we should go talk to them.”

“We’re still in World-War-One uniforms. How do you think those guys will take to that?”

“Maybe we take off the coats, and we’ll look like regular folks.”

“Like Confederate folks, you mean?”

“I guess we’ll have to take the chance. I’ll wave. Perhaps they’ll send somebody.”

Sam lets go of James’s arm. “Or shoot us.”

“Yeah, that too. Let’s get away from the Olds. Look for a landmark so we can remember where it is.”

Sam points. “Got it. See that large oak tree on the hill?”

James nods. “Yeah, I see it. That’s our landmark. I’m going to wave now.”

The Last Drive is available in paper and Kindle editions on Amazon. Here are the universal links. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢ through mid-February.

Kindle  https://mybook.to/FYmkKr
Paper https://mybook.to/BCsWV

Author John W. Howell

John is an award-winning author who after an extensive business career began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written Six other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

You can reach John on Social Media here:

Blog Fiction Favorites – http://johnwhowell.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241
Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave
Amazon Author’s pagehttps://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell
BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/john-w-howell

Eternal Road Buy links

Kindle Universal link  mybook.to/EternalRoad
Paper universal link mybook.to/Eternalroadpaper




#GuestDayTuesday – #TenThings – And Other Guest Openings

Good Morning, Everyone! Just wanted to remind you all that I am ready to schedule 2023 guest posts on The Write Stuff. If you would like to take part in any of my regular features, now’s the time to have me hold a date for you.

#GuestDayTuesdays:  For this one, I’m looking forward to sharing your news, whatever it might be. New book, cover reveal, old book with a review worth bragging about, or even something about you, as a writer … where your ideas come from, how you go about the process, things you’ve learned over time (including what NOT to do). I’m very flexible with the #GuestDayTuesday posts and will be happy to feature you and/or your work in various ways.

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe: This is a fun way to let others learn more about you as a person, as a writer, as a blogger, or from any other angle. If you’ve haven’t already been a guest for this one, take a look at some of the previous posts, and I think you might be interested in taking part. If you HAVE taken part in the past, that’s all right, too. We could do a “TenMOREThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe” post. Or “FiveMore.”

Again, I’m very flexible with any of these posts and can even squeeze in some random guest posts on other days, if it’s more helpful for what you want to do. 

For Info on what I’d need from you, you’ll find all my Blog Rules and Instructions HERE:  https://marciamearawrites.com/welcome/

And most of all, remember that I’ll work with you in any way I can. The object is to 1)promote you or your work and 2) to have fun. (Or both!)  I’ll be waiting to hear from you and get your special post scheduled, so drop me an email at marciameara16@gmail.com