Monday, January 27, 2014

Sam and The Sea Witch

Hi all,

I'm wondering if some of you MIU authors would be kind enough to review Sam and The Sea Witch for me. I would be happy to return the favour and I would love to know what you think. Email me on if you are interested in reading it.



M.P. Ward

Sam and The Sea Witch
Sam and the Beast of Bodmin Moor

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sam and the Beast of Bodmin moor

Hi all,

I am pleased to announce my second book, Sam and the Beast of Bodmin Moor, was released on January 17th. I would love to know what you think. Reviews more than welcome. Email me on if you are interested in reading it.



M.P. Ward

Sam and The Sea Witch
Sam and the Beast of Bodmin Moor

Sunday Musings: January 26 2014

Don’t know about you, but this has been a very long week. I can’t wait to get to this week’s musings. It’s one which actually brought me to writing and finally stalking our own Lea at the very first MuseItUp Online Writers’ Conference. I drove her crazy with my “Nancy Drew” related questions.

So, you know this favourite of mine was going to make it to a musing sooner or later…

Let's go with a two part question. As I sit here sick as a dog, my childhood Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books are over there on my bookcase. The shelf above you'll find my Louis L'Amour.

What book was your first live? Was it the book which lead you to wanting to write your own...was it a different book?

Marsha R. West author of VERMONT ESCAPE and upcoming TRUTH BE TOLD

Rather than Nancy Drew, I was a fan of the Dana Girls Mysteries. I remember saving my allowance to buy a new one each week. As an only child, I really enjoyed reading about the twins. I remember getting in lots of trouble because I'd forget to do my chores when I was reading. :)

However more than those books, probably Louisa May Alcott's LITTLE WOMEN influenced me more. I've  read it several times. Before any movie or stage play was made, I had the whole book acted out in my head. I was, of course, Jo in all those scenes. :) Not that I thought about being a writer (though I'd written plays and directed plays for my friends.), but I admired her spunkiness, her bravery. And I loved that she finally got the right man, Prof. Baer. I read all the books in that series, but LITTLE WOMEN is my favorite. I still display 4 small figurines of the those little women that my mother gave me years ago.

My first real love was all of Tolkien. I played sick from school so I could spend the day reading his works. Most people don't know he also translated a good many other stories from old English. Besides the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series, there was Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (an Arthurian legend), and then there were The Adventures Of Tom Bombidal. I would curl up with these books, drink hot chocolate and read the whole day.

The first book I fell in love with was Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. The story is inspiring in so many ways, and I still reread it every few years. However, this wasn't the book that inspired me to write. That was Twilight. While reading it, I couldn't help but think, "heck, I could do this!" :)

Pauline (P.M.) Griffin author of THE STAR COMMANDOS series

The first book I truly loved was Andre Norton's STAR RANGERS, followed fast by her TIME TRADERS and THE STARS ARE OURS.  Many other books have followed since, especially THE LORD OF THE RINGS.  (I read that in four days and could quote passages verbatim).  And, yes, Heather, THE SECRET GARDEN was and remains one of my favorites.

Susan A. Royal author of NOT LONG AGO and the upcoming sequel FROM NOW ON

There are so many books. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle, Catseye by Andre Norton, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, The Glory Road by Robert Heinlein, Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson and The Diary of Anne Frank are some I remember off the top of my head. Each one of them transported me to another world until well after I read the last page.

I loved the Anne of Green Gable series when I was young, discovering what Anne was up to with Gilbert Blythe and reading about her many adventures. I don't believe these books led me to writing cozy mysteries, but it might have influenced me to wanting to write a series. Whenever I read a great book that I love, I never want it to end, and a series prolongs the ending.
What started my interest in writing cozy mysteries was M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin series. As in her novels, my cozy mystery, The Ginseng Conspiracy has an amateur sleuth, a thrilling mystery, and lots of humor. It was published this month by MuseItUp Publishing. In addition to these, I include art and music, multiple murders, and a great deal of pastries in my Kay Driscoll series.

Kenneth Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks, Coming Soon: THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM

“Boy oh boy,” I moaned.  “She just keeps digging away, doesn’t she?  What book was my first love?  Oh my God . . .”
Anne sighed.  Have I mentioned what a patient woman Anne is?
“It’s like being on the couch once a week,” I continued.  “That’s what it’s like.”
“Not such a bad idea,” Anne muttered.
“Nothing.  Nothing at all.  Ken, why not just try to think back to when you were a kid.  What’s the first book you remember reading.”
“Can I lie down to do this?”
“If you promise not to fall asleep.”
“I can’t promise that,” I said closing my eyes. 
I’m pretty sure I heard another sigh.
“Wait!” I said.  “It’s working.  I’m seeing something.”
“That’s terrific.  What are you seeing?  Hardy Boys?  Robert Louis Stevenson?  Charles Dickens?”
“I’m seeing Huey, Dewey and Louie.”
“The nephews of Donald Duck!  The grand nephews of Scrooge McDuck!  Members of the glorious order of the Junior Woodchucks!  Foilers of every scheme of those nasty Beagle Boys!  I loved comic books!  I read them all the time.”
“This explains a lot,” Anne said.
“You’ve done it again, Anne,” I said, full of admiration.
“I can see that.”
“And it’s given me a great idea.”
“I’m afraid to ask.”
“Let’s do a comic book next!”
Deep sigh.

Mary-Jean Harris author of the upcoming AIZAI THE FORGOTTEN

I've loved reading for a long time, but one of the first books I really loved was a series called the Jewel Kingdom, about princesses in different kingdoms and the magical adventures they went on. I started reading those when I was in grade 2, and always wished that I was the Sapphire Princess. The first book that made me want to write, however, was probably the Runelords by David Farland. It is the first book from a really ingenious epic fantasy series with great characters, beautiful writing, and lots of philosophical aspects to it. When you read it, it’s really like you’re part of the adventure. I found out about it by accident, when a friend of mine dropped off some books for my sister to bring to her school's book bonanza. I went through the books first, and I found the first 4 Runelords books, which had belonged to her brother, and they looked so intriguing and unlike anything I had read before. At the last minute, I kept them, and I've always been glad I did.

I can’t remember a time when I did not make up stories. For a long time fiction and reality blurred. I remember sitting on my grandfather’s knee while he read wonderful stories to me. At school I really, really enjoyed history lessons. I also enjoyed books such as Heidi, The Secret Garden, The Jungle Book and The Wide, Wide World each of which swept me away from suburban life and school uniforms. I read and wrote, wrote and read before reading one of my favourite books These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. At the age of 17 I had not heard of plagiarism and had written my first novel based on the plot and theme of the novel. I read more and more historical fiction and non-fiction and one thing led to another until I became a published historical fiction novelist. However, I confess that I still like the enigmatic Duke of Avon and his Leonie who I still visit from time to time.

Dawn Knox author of the upcoming: DAFFODIL AND THE THIN PLACE

My first encounter with the magic of books was being read to in infants school. The teacher transported us to lands above the 'Magic Faraway Tree' and to a time when Cavaliers and Roundheads clashed in 'The Children of the New Forest'. As soon as I was able to read, I immersed myself in as many books as I could lay hands on.

But my love of reading didn't lead to becoming a writer. Rather, it was frustration with my son at his lack of interest in creative writing homework. I started to give him what I thought was a really interesting first sentence and asked him to finish it, hoping it would fire his imagination.

It didn't.

But I just couldn't help finishing one of the sentences myself and my first long story was born...

Trixie Belden books were my favorites when I was younger.  I actually wrote my first fan fiction based on her books.  I loved this series so much more than Nancy Drew.  I loved the mysteries and how a girl was able to solve the ‘problems’.

Remember…while you’re stopping to smell life’s roses, give yourself over to a little musing as well.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Meet Mystery Author Susan Bernhardt

Susan Bernhardt is an author living in Wisconsin. Like Kay Driscoll in her cozy mystery The Ginseng Conspiracy, Susan is a retired public health nurse who volunteers at her local free clinic. An avid reader of mysteries, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inc. Her other published works include “October 31st”, “Midsummer”, and “John and Madeline.”
Susan's town in northern Wisconsin was an inspiration for the quaint settings of her novel. She lives with her husband, William, and has two sons, Peter and David. When not writing, Susan loves to travel, bicycle, kayak, and create culinary magic in her kitchen. She works in stained-glass, daydreams in her organic garden, stays up late reading mysteries, and eats lots of chocolate.
          You can find her at:
          Twitter: @SusanBernhardt1

When did you consider yourself a writer?
When I started writing The Ginseng Conspiracy and had other works published in ezines.

Do you have a schedule when you write or do you write whenever there’s some peace and quiet? If you have a set schedule, share it with us.
I try to write everyday but often life gets in the way. I probably average 2-3 hours per day.

Any odd rituals that get you in the mood to write? Where do you write? What’s on your desk?
I write sitting on my sofa in the living room with my notebook on my lap. We have a wall sized window in the room with fabulous views of trees, birds, and my neighborhood. I keep my teacup filled on a table next to me. It's a peaceful place to work.

Tell us where the idea came long it took to write...difficulties you may have encountered and how you overcame.
I write from real life experiences. Kay's family in The Ginseng Conspiracy is based on my family.
Many factors contributed to the idea of The Ginseng Conspiracy. We live three blocks from a college. Often I would see a professor walking past our home to the college talking into a recorder. The plotline idea just hit me. I decided to write a mystery about a college professor being murdered because of research he was doing on the local ginseng fields. While travelling, my husband and I met a couple from Wisconsin who owned a ginseng farm. They told us about a Chinese delegation coming to their farm and putting in a large order for ginseng. Wisconsin grows 95% of the American ginseng. These are just a couple examples of how the idea for The Ginseng Conspiracy evolved.

Pick three words that describe you as a person.
Passionate, persistent, adventurous.

Pick three words that describe you as a writer.
The same words would apply. I identify as a writer. Passionate, persistent, adventurous.

As a published author do you find the process of writing, editing, promotion getting easier? Also, how many published books do you have?
Some of my other works are published in ezines. The Ginseng Conspiracy is the first in the Kay Driscoll series, and is my first published novel. I am currently writing the third mystery in the series. The second mystery will be sent to my publisher in the next couple of weeks. I have found subsequent novels easier to write since being published. There used to be large gaps of time when writing. That is no longer the case. Promotion seems to be a bit easier than I first expected and so far I haven't run out of ideas.

How hard is it to step away from characters you’ve spent time with and finally pen THE END? Do you have an impulse to continue their story?
My cozy mysteries are a series. I haven't had this happen yet.

Do you picture a famous movie star when penning your hero? If so, name a few. Same for the heroine.
No. Kay Driscoll is me. I only picture myself.

What advice would you offer to new writers?

This first piece of advice is for any genre. Once you have an idea for your book, don’t just talk about writing, sit down and write out a first draft. Write anything that comes into your mind, no matter how far out it may be. You will do multiple edits, anyway, so free write.
          As far as mysteries, tension, tension, tension. There must be some level of crisis that causes conflict in each chapter.

The Ginseng Conspiracy – Excerpt

I supposed I should have kept going and minded my own business, but when had I ever done that? My curiosity kept calling me. I had told Elizabeth and Deirdre that Phil and I would meet them at seven-thirty. It was seven-fifteen, and I was just two blocks away. I had plenty of time to find out what was going on. It was a bit creepy, but I could just take a peek. Not knowing was killing me, so I made the decision to check it out.
          I ducked into the dark alley and went around to the double back door of the store. The entire area looked shabby and desolate. I'd never been in the alley behind the stores before. This presented new territory for me. A smell of wilting trash prevailed. Trashcans on their sides spilled their ancient contents into the rutted pavement. Piles of old wood and broken pallets leaned against the side of the building. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to be here after all, but I continued on to satisfy my curiosity.
          I pulled open one of the unlocked doors, entered, and heard faint voices coming from behind an inner door down a hallway. Slowly, careful to not make a sound, I opened the inside door and just as silently closed it behind me. A curtain blocked my view into the room, so I moved forward to peer around its edge.
          Six people stood in a storage room in a circle, all of them wearing the same silk gossamer hooded robes. It was a bizarre scene. No party atmosphere here. Fresh footprints from the mystery people scattered around the thick dust on the floor. Cobwebs covered the walls. This was becoming much more like The Da Vinci Code than I would have liked. All that was missing was a body. I was beginning to think I had been right in the first place. I shouldn't be here. Way past having a bad feeling about this, the hair on my body stood on end. But I didn't move for the door. I was determined to stay and find out what was happening. The robed people all gazed down at the floor. Stepping onto a low box in front of me, I strained my neck to see what they were looking at. Lying on the floor was a person. Had someone passed out? I could see a man. He was someone I knew, the professor we saw on our morning walks, who passed our home on his way to the college, whom Elizabeth hadn't introduced me to yet. I couldn’t believe it. The professor was lying there, looked lifeless. My skin tingled. I held my breath as my heart raced.
          I stumbled as I stepped down from the box that I stood on. Backing away from the curtain, I swung the door open wide and ran toward the alley door. Footsteps sounded in the hallway as I slammed the back door shut. I grabbed a thick piece of wood lying beside the door, shoved it though the door handles, and raced through the dark alley behind the stores. I got about a block away before I heard the sound of splintering wood. It was only a short distance to get to the Vermilion Pathway where Elizabeth, Deirdre, and I walked each morning. I hoped to lose myself in the wooded area.
          I reached the pathway, removed my slippers to make it easier to run, and sprinted down a short distance before I made a sharp left turn up an embankment. I heard hurried voices coming in my direction on the path. Halfway up the embankment, I hid behind an old gargantuan oak tree I had often admired on our walks I pulled the skirt of my cloak tight around my legs and held my breath. My heart pounded so loudly in my chest, I thought for sure they would be able to hear it. The pursuing group passed without slowing, within twenty feet from where I hid. The moonless night concealed me. Why the chase? What had I interrupted? Everything spun out of control. I couldn't believe this was happening to Sudbury Falls!
          I waited until I no longer heard their voices and then continued up the embankment and ran through backyards that were parallel to Main Street. I put my slippers back on. I needed to head for the safety of home where I could process the adrenaline-fueled events of the last several minutes. In the middle of the block, with no direct streetlights overhead, I dashed across Main Street and through two backyards. I kept in the shadows, running between the houses.
          This was a night of shadows. I could see a woman through her back picture window standing over at the stove as I ran through her yard. Her dog, tied up in the backyard, started barking as he saw me. But I was already gone before I heard her backdoor slam shut. I crossed Elm Street, hoping not to be seen in the streetlights. Eerie Jack-O’Lanterns leered out at me from the corner house. Phil and I had just laughed about them last night when walking home from Jo's, but now they were unwanted eyes watching me as I tried to move undetected through town. Their sneers looked fixedly at me as I passed. Stretches between the yards seemed longer. Running under brooding trees on Maple Street, I reached the entrance to the alley behind our house.
          I stopped in the shadows, searching the night for any signs of movement, making sure I wasn't followed. It was creepier back here than I expected. A cat screamed. I jumped and bolted down the alley, through our squeaky gate, and let myself in the back door, locking it behind me.
          I pulled my knees up to my chest and laid my head on them. What was going on? What had I just witnessed in the vacant store?

The Ginseng Conspiracy is available at MuseItUp Publishing and all online reputable vendors. For a complete listing please visit THE GINSENG CONSPIRACY