June Book News


KAREN WILLS: Five Star Publishing / Cengage set June 21, 2017 as the release date for my historical novel, RIVER WITH NO BRIDGE. I’m so pleased that something I’ve worked on for so long, set in the area I love so much, and with characters I’ve grown to cherish is ready to be shared. I hope you all-important readers will find it to your liking. Booklist calls it, “A gripping, sometimes heartbreaking story of immigrant survival in the West.”

In 1882, Nora Flanagan leaves Boston for Butte, America, as the Irish called the Montana mining community. She realizes her dreams of marriage and motherhood for a time, but tragedy changes the course of her life. After scandal in Butte, followed by despair in Helena, she agrees to go north to settle near the North Fork of the Flathead River, the region that will one day be just west of Glacier National Park. She doesn’t go alone, but with mysterious, half-Chinese Jim Li. Their life becomes a challenging, romantic wilderness adventure. They meet mountain men like Beartracks Benton, colorful settlers, and Blackfeet natives. In time, Nora and Jim acquire a family.

But a man from the past, obsessed with revenge and addicted to laudanum, will jeopardize all they’ve achieved. An immigrant familiar with gains and losses, Nora will seek strength and resolve from her wilderness home.    river with no bridge



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MARIE MARTIN: I uploaded my first novel, Maternal Harbor, on Amazon kindle in September 2012. Each year I added another and today they hit a mile stone that I am too excited about not to share. On May 30, 2017, readers have now downloaded my novels over a half a million times. If I was young and agile, I’d do a cartwheel.

Thank you, Readers,

Marie  F Martin

leslieLESLIE BUDEWITZ:  Seeing that box of new books is always such a thrill! TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, the 4th Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, officially releases June 10, 2017, from Midnight Ink, but it’s already available in bookstores around the country, and across the Flathead Valley. The series took a year off, but it’s back stronger than ever — more details and an excerpt here, on my website.  When the body of an internationally renowned guitarist is found on the river banks outside town during the annual Jewel Bay Jazz Festival, Erin Murphy, manager of the Merc, must investigate to protect the community and keep the music playing.

And if you’re in the Flathead, please join me for a book launch party, with a short booktalk/reading, at 5:30, Sat, June 10, at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center, in the village. I’ll also be at Fact & Fiction in Missoula at 7 pm, Tues, June 13th, when Christine Carbo and I interview each other about our new books, and at Montana Book & Toy in Helena at 2 pm on Sat, July 1. I’ll also be in Denver and Seattle, so if that’s home to you, please check out the events schedule on my website.

I’m also thrilled that the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries are now available in audio, with DEATH AL DENTE and CRIME RIB already out, and BUTTER OFF DEAD and TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST in the works.

I hope your summer brings you good food, good friends, good books, and much joy.


I’m too Sexy for my Scenes

By Karen Wills

the kiss 

Sex scenes. When, why, and where do they belong in novels? Sex is as important in fiction as in real life. And fiction incorporates particular reasons involving plot and structure for characters to engage in passion. The engaging, its reason for being, its character revelations, and its aftermath, even those details shown and not shown, should enhance the story

I’ve written scenes of passion into River with no Bridge (out June 21). As my protagonist, Irish-Catholic Nora, moves through life, she experiences love, or in one case lust, with three men. I hope readers will sense that the totality of these relationships, and her very different partners, move her from virginity to becoming a sensual lover. Sexual attitudes reveal so much about our characters and their changes.

Sex scenes can also be ugly precursors to damaging consequences for characters victimized by coercion. I’ve just read City of Light, a historical novel set in Buffalo, New York, at the time of the Pan American Expo. Author Lauren Belfer incorporates in one episode a depiction of women’s lack of empowerment at the turn of the century. The protagonist is coerced into having sex with Grover Cleveland. She uses details (“Your stomach like a rubbery cushion”) to show how frightening and disorienting forced sex is and how it determines so much of the story that follows.

After City of Light, I turned to Montana Women Writers own Deborah Epperson’s latest novel, Shadows of Home. Two former teenage lovers reclaim that status in several detailed scenes of passion renewed. Lovemaking is shown as their key to rediscovery and joyful reunion. It’s also a means of healing rifts, stress, and misunderstanding.

A sex scene should only be used as needed to move the story forward. The introduction of lovemaking changes characters’ relationships. A sex scene just to have a sex scene will never work. Authors often struggle with the verbal details of the sex scene. The words used can vary depending on the characters. Crude characters tend to use crude words. More refined lovers, and seducers, use a refined vocabulary. Writers also vary in our own ideas of propriety. Modern readers are quite sophisticated and unlikely to be as easily offended as their historical counterparts.

Remember the language of a sex scene belongs to the character, not the author. If the story needs the scene then use it. There are many ways to write sex scenes. Every sentence should move the story forward and show us what our characters desire or fear.

river with no bridge

Getting Lost in the Reseach

By Janice McCaffrey

Last year during a tour of France my daughter, Bonnie, and I made a quick stop in Marseille; a jumping-off point to Monaco. Our focus was on Princess Grace Kelly; the palace and a drive up the famous, winding, cliff-hugging road.

Our train from Paris arrived in Marseille late afternoon. We picked up a rental car and headed to our Airbnb lodging in the old part of the city. In a blink of an eye we found ourselves on narrow streets filled with cars racing around curves, merging into already clogged streets, with drivers who had seemingly no regard for others.  Very loud motor cycles whipped in and out around moving vehicles, driving not in the lanes, but on the lines that divide them. And Bonnie kept up the pace.

marseille traffic




Yikes!! I held on tight!



Flying past ancient-looking pastel stone buildings, I caught a glimpse of a Moroccan man standing in front of a shop laughing with a couple of other men.

The GPS system directed us to public parking close to the apartment and we walked from there. After climbing 107 steps of a circular staircase with broken tiles under foot, yes, with our luggage, we settled into the apartment which was definitely worth the climb. Then we walked down the steps (much easier than climbing up) to the old port soaking up the area’s history and atmosphere.

We were greeted by bright sunshine, clear blue skies with a warm breeze off the sparkling Mediterranean Sea’s varied hues of blues and greens. My kind of perfect day.

marseille w bonnie

                           I fell in love.                          And the story began.

Back home committing my imagination to paper I needed the name of the Moroccan man’s attire. Yea for Google!! After finding info and photos of the jabador more Googling got me a suitable name for him, place of birth, and back story.

 I have to admit that I can get lost in the research. I have spent hours on internet searches and studying the results. And Google maps is indispensable for settings and determining distances. Their street views are wonderful and were invaluable as I orchestrated a chase scene around Marseille.

Besides giving me many enjoyable hours investigating and learning, one thing always leads to another. The history of Morocco pointed the way to the Phoenician peoples where their history gave me the item of antiquity the story would center around.

An article entitled Research for Fiction Writing in Cornell Research by Alexander Chang explains how J. Robert Lennon, author of See You in Paradise (Greywolf, 2014) and teacher of English at Cornell University uses the internet searches to find details for his stories. Here’s a quote:

In doing research as a fiction writer, Lennon embraces a term his wife once called [him and his friends] them: professional dilettantes. “I like that as a description for writers,” he says. “I love going to parties with writers—they always have super shallow knowledge of a zillion different things.”

I had to Google the definition, but it made me laugh out loud!

                                  diləˈtänt,diləˈtäntē/ noun 1. a person who cultivates 

                                  an area of interest without real commitment or knowledge.

That’s me! Due to my love of research I know a multitude of unrelated facts. Like:

Did you know the Phoenicians were the first known people to establish an alphabet? They were industrious and successful merchants who needed a method of keeping their accounts. This was back between 1500 and 1050 B.C. They devised 22 letters, only consonants, to represent the sound of their language. Over time the Greeks and Romans adjusted the original symbols which eventually gave us our 26 letters that represent the sound of our language. This chart shows the changes.

alphabet changes




And now . . .  we’re hooked on phonics!




These people also invented ink and paper. And when they bound pages together for the first time in the city of Bylos its name led to two of our modern-day words—book and bible.

I can tell you the history of sweet potatoes. Indigenous of South America Columbus took them back to Spain and Portugal. From there Portuguese sailors introduced them to Nigeria where their main crop was another tuber they called yams (not to be confused with our yams, theirs is white and round and belongs to a different plant family). Eventually the slave trade ships brought seedlings to North Carolina which is now our main growing area for the delicious tuber.

Oh, yes. And then there’s Queen Anne’s nephew Edward Hyde Lord Cornbury who held the office of Governor in both New York and New Jersey from 1701-1708. To open the New Jersey General Assembly he dressed as a woman of fashion. His rational was that since he represented a woman, Queen Anne, he should look like one.

lord cornbury

lord cornbury explained

And if you ever want to know the particulars of the early Pennsylvania-German’s Groundhog traditions, just ask.

For some writers research may be a drudgery to avoid at all costs, but for me it opens the world of ideas, events, characters, and settings.

I love getting lost in the research!


April Book News

fiction writer

: Oh, how true those pictures are! With spring, I’ve made an effort to clean my office, but you know how that goes—every file and pile is a day’s worth of projects, aTreblend while I’m busy with those, more pile up. Writing and revising, and talking about books, are much more fun than cleaning! I’m getting ready for the launch of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, the fourth Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, coming June 8 from Midnight Ink—you can pre-order it now. And I’m finishing up the fifth installment, set at the magical time of Christmas in the lakeside resort community of Jewel Bay, Montana. Meanwhile, there’s a terrific ebook sale, for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and other formats! Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village series, is 2.99, and Crime Rib, the second is 5.99. My first two Spice Shop Mysteries are also on sale, Assault & Pepper for 2.99 and Guilty as Cinnamon for 5.99. And the audio book of Death al Dente will be out April 30!

Later in April, I’ll be at Malice Domestic, the annual fan convention celebrating the traditional mystery, in Washington, D.C. It’s great fun—five hundred readers and writers, including book bloggers, booksellers, and librarians, plus some agents and editors, attending panel discussions and interviews, teas and charity auctions, and constantly chatting about reading and writing.

I hope spring is blooming with books for you!


MORE APRIL BOOK NEWS:   Deborah Epperson

It’s true what they say. There really is a light at the end of the tunnel.  For me, that light is FINALLY finishing up a novel I started over a decade ago. SHADOWS OF HOME will be available on Amazon later this month. It is a southern romantic-suspense set in the bayous around Caddo Lake in NW Louisiana in 1970.

After five years of city life, Elita Pearl Dupree is going home to the mystical land of her birth, the mysterious waters of Indian lore called Caddo Lake.

She’s determined to find out the truth about her father’s mysterious death, and while she’s at it, hopes to rekindle her relationship with her first love, Royce Sutton. Elita soon discovers that things and people can change a lot in five years, and not necessarily for the better.


A woman with questions. A man with secrets. A bayou without mercy.

eBook cover - Shadows of Home - Deborah Epperson


Words & Meaning

  Sis. McCaffrey  By Janice McCaffrey   

I recently read Mothering Sunday: A Romance by Graham Swift and found thoughts, for the novice writer that I am, to ponder. The narration on page one hundred twenty-eight says: “She would become a writer, and because she was a writer, . . . be constantly beset by the inconstancy of words.”

To me words are the magic that transforms symbols (letters) into meaningful visuals (the movie that plays in my head). I’ve always found comfort, maybe even safety, in knowing the meaning of words; and believing them fixed. Words have always anchored me to truth and reality. Can there really be inconstancy in words?

Synonyms for inconstancy include moody, capricious, vacillating, wavering; undependable, unstable, unsettled, uncertain; mutable, volatile and fickle. All point to frequent changes which of course gives every word mercurial meanings. So, I wondered, how do writers choose words that will correctly convey their intended meaning?

According to I.A. Richards, a semantics theorist, meaning is personal. He said “Words don’t mean things; people do.” His theory says that life experiences give words their meanings more than dictionaries. And he saw emotive language as the chief source of linguistic confusion. In other words, before two people can know for sure what a word used between them means they have to have the same life experiences around the word. This, as we know, is pretty much impossible.

Em Griffin uses the word “love” to illustrate Richards’ concept. In Chapter 5 of A First Look at Communication Theory Griffin explains that everything a person feels and visualizes when they hear the word love defines it for them. So if cuddling in front of a cozy fire is one person’s idea of love and their partner’s idea is having a rough and tumble snowball fight, there’s going to be linguistic confusion. And the familiar refrain, “If you loved me, you’d (fill in the blank). Based on Richards’ Meaning of Meaning, the simple word “love” has as many meanings as there are people. And the partners’ feelings and ideas associated with the word may be polar opposites depending on their life experiences.

Based on my personal experience with “linguistic confusion while using emotive language” I believe Richards’ view. But that leaves me in my quandary about finding words that express common meanings to the masses. Thinking this over, led me to recall book club discussions where members have discovered that they actually enjoyed a book more after listening to others’ perceptions of it. Because we’ve lived through similar, but not exact situations we’ve set up different connotations for the same words. And therefore, give them different meanings, feelings, pictures, and understandings; that’s why listening to understand is so important. But that’s a topic for another day.

So is there no way to be sure our writing is understood?  I guess not. Maybe all we can do, as Mr. Griffin suggests, is string four or five common words together “instead of relying on a single esoteric term that could easily be misinterpreted.”

Back to Graham Swift and his protagonist, Jane Fairchild, successful novelist. During an interview she says, “Well, you have to understand that words are only words, just bits of air . . .”

But are they?


 Mothering Sunday: A Romance, Graham, Swift, Alfred A. Knopf, 2016

 The Meaning of Meaning of I.A. Richards. A First Look at Communication Theory, Chapter 5, by Em Griffin, 3rd Edition, McGraw-Hill, 1998. afirstlook.com