Saturday, June 25, 2022

Do Current Events/ Hot-Button Topics Find a Way into Your Writing? By Connie Vines #RR, #RoundRobin, #Writing Tips, #Round Robin

 Round Robin topic:

Have you ever included current social, political, or environmental problems in your stories or thought about doing so? Why or why not?

Thank you, Diane Bator, for this month's topic 📓


While the others in our RR group may respond to all eight questions, I'll reply to those topics I have covered in my fiction and nonfiction articles and novels.


  • Do you ever include politics in your stories (why and how?)
  • Do you ever address topics like discrimination or race relations?
My involvement in Native American education, Title IX programs, and volunteer work prompted me to interview and write about current events and tribal culture (current and past). I interviewed those educated in the boarding school system and families who had participated in the 'forced marches.' 

Tanayia--Whisper upon the Water is a YA historical novel. The topics include forced relocation, boarding school, the tensions between the races, discrimination, and the changing society of the 1800s.

*Larry Sellers (Cloud Dancing) of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." shared his experiences as a five-year-old being sent to a boarding school. He encouraged me to complete this novel.

I am more inclined to address hot-button topics in historical or vintage stories than in a contemporary novel.


Opinions change. World-events change.  

I read fiction for pleasure. My genre fiction may touch on contemporary topics (alcoholism, emotional abandonment); those topics provide character motivation/character development in my story. However, it is not the focus of the story.

I'm not making a judgment call. 

My writing style is lighter, character-driven, and usually humorous.

Please visit these fabulous authors and see what each one has to share with you today.

Happy Reading, everyone,



A.J. Maguire

Diane Bator

Connie Vines

Marci Baun

Anne Stenhouse

Dr. Bob Rich

Rhobin Courtright

Judith Copek

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday Featured Author, Spotlight: J.S. Marlo, By Connie Vines #BWLPublishing, #Sportlight Author, #The Red Quilt, #Cozy Mystery

Today's Spotlight Interview is with the author J.S. Marlo.

Welcome to Dishin' It Out! 

 Readers, I save the "red ink" for myself  😁 However, since the title of  J.S. Marlo's latest release is The Red Quilt, I'm 'loaning" her my favorite color for today's interview.

J.S. Please tell us about your current release from B.W.L. Publishing Inc. (Books We Love):

The Red Quilt is a cozy mystery / romantic suspense set on Prince Edward Island, Canada, during the Christmas Holidays. It was released in December 2021.

 For Eli and his five-year-old granddaughter Ruby, a last-minute Christmas road trip goes horribly wrong. Stranded in a ditch during a blizzard, they are rescued by Lana, a widow who welcomes them into her house.

Outside, the snowstorm rages, the illegal activities of Lana's neighbors threaten their safety, and Eli's past mistakes catch up with him.

Inside, the little girl and the grandfather fill the void left by Lana's son and husband, but the hope of second chances seems as impossible as the little girl's wish for something Santa cannot bring her.

Connie: What was the inspiration for this story?

My friend Jody and I talked about book covers and titles when she commented about colors and their different meanings. It sparked a crazy idea. What if I pick a color and then introduce a shade of that color in every chapter of my story?


The more I thought about the concept, the more interesting it became. Finding shades of red was relatively easy, their descriptions & meanings not so much,  but coming up with a storyline in which I could seamlessly lace these different shades together proved challenging.


I was wrapping Christmas presents with my little six-year-old granddaughter when inspiration struck. What if I write a Christmas story with a cute little girl and a dog? A Christmas story would give me many opportunities to add shades of red.


In The Red Quilt,  I mention fifteen shades of red, and at the end, I give the meaning of them all. It is also the reason the series is called "Fifteen Shades."


 Connie::What would you like to see more/less of in the genre(s) you write? 

I write a blend of mystery and romantic suspense novels. On a few occasions, I also dabbed in the paranormal, adding ghosts and time travel to the stories in my Unraveling The Past series.

The same ingredients are mixed in different proportions depending on the story, so I can't say I'd rather see more or less of something. It depends on the novel.

Connie: What, in your opinion, makes a good writer?    

Not everyone might agree with me, but I have to say: Imagination.

 An editor once told me, "I can teach any author how to write, but I can't teach anyone how to invent a good story."

Connie: Do you have this novel's favorite paragraph/line of dialogue?  

I knew I had favorite lines, but when I reread the story, I found too many L.O.L. I couldn't choose just one, so I picked two. For the sake of clarity, these are the characters in the two paragraphs:


Eli, aka Papili, is the grandfather

Ruby is the 5-yr old  granddaughter

Lana is the woman who rescued them


"Papili?" Ruby poked her grandfather's chest with her owl. "What does inaccessible mean?"

"It's inaccessible, munchkin. It means you cannot get to it the cookie jar on the top of the fridge at home. It's inaccessible to you." He kissed the top of her nose. "You cannot get to it."

"Yes, I can. I push a chair against the fridge, and I..." Her sweet little face blushed a rosy shade of red. "Nothing."




"Eli, it's me. I'm in the back of a patrol car, wrapped in a blanket. I...I don't think I'll ever be warm again, but I'm safe and tired and...and mad." With that last word, Lana's voice rose too many notches for his ear's comfort. "He shot my new winter tires, Eli. I spent a fortune on them, and he blew two of them into pieces, like getting stuck in the middle of nowhere wasn't bad enough. I swear if I ever see his face again, I'll smash his nose into his skull with the butt of his rifle."

Stunned to hear the sweet woman chew up nails and spit out a barbed-wire fence, Eli slumped in her rocking chair. "Are you sure it's wise to threaten your neighbor within earshot of the nice officers who rescued you?"


Connie: Why did you choose this location for your novel? 

I'm Canadian, so I like to set my stories in Canada. I also very much like winter and snow. My husband was a military officer, and I would have loved a posting in Prince Edward Island. We ended up having two postings in Nova Scotia, and from there, we often went camping to P.E.I. in the summer. Back then, there was no bridge. P.E.I. was only accessible by ferry. The island had a magical aura that screamed "cozy" to me. It seemed like the perfect place to set that story. Besides, it's not unusual for a blizzard to storm the island and snow on everyone for days, sometimes without electricity… not fun for the inhabitants, but great for a story.


Connie: Who would it be if you were forced to live the rest of your life as one of your characters?

In The Red Quilt, Lana is a retired military nurse who lives on her late husband's potato farm, and in Seasoned Hearts, Riley is a scriptwriter who lives on a ranch at the foothills of The Rockies.  I could probably be either one of them.

Connie: What are your hobbies? Do any of your characters share your hobbies/Interests? Do any of your hobbies play a part in your novels? Or did anything unexpected happen/discover a fact that changed the course of your story?

I enjoy puzzles, escape rooms, music, gardening, writing, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, traveling, and on the side, I'm also a Jill-of-all-trades. If something breaks or needs to be redone around the house, I'm usually the one fixing it.


Most of my female characters have unusual jobs/careers while having similar hobbies to me that play a role in the story. Many also consider themselves Jill-of-all-trades, some by choice and others by necessity.


In The Red Quilt, Lana makes jigsaw puzzles with little Ruby, which I enjoy doing with my little granddaughter—and my husband stays clear of it, as does Eli in the story.


In Seasoned Hearts, Riley lives on an old ranch where she's always fixing something. When she ends up locked in her office, she takes the doorknob apart to escape, then she's caught putting it back together one piece at a time. The week I wrote that scene, I'd just changed my front lock after it literally fell apart in my hands when I turned the knob.

In Mishandled Conviction, Violet renovates an escape room. Her character came to life while I redo my own floor, but I'd never been inside an escape room when I started the story. I had a design in mind, but that design changed after I ventured into an actual escape room to visualize it—and I ended up loving the concept. 

Connie: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I would just like to mention that my current work in progress is The Blue Ribbon, a Fifteen Shades of Blue in the backdrop of a wedding.

Thank you for having me here today. It was fun.

 J. S. Marlo

Where may our readers purchase your novels and locate you via website/social media sites?

My website:

The Red Quilt is available in print (at Amazon) and ebook at all these retailers:


Thank you, J.S. Marlo, for visiting "Dishin'It Out!"

Happy Reading, Everyone!



Friday, June 10, 2022

Friday Featured Author: Reed Stirling, Spotlight Interview By Connie Vines #Spotlight Interview, #Featured Author, BWL Publishing Inc., #Shades of Persephone, #Literary Mystery

Today's Spotlight Interview is with the author Reed Stirling     

Welcome to Dishin' It Out!   

  Connie: Reed please tell  us about your upcoming release from BWL Publishing Inc. (Books We Love) 


Reed:  Shades of Persephone is a literary mystery: the fusion of history, philosophy, espionage, and romance, the central mystery being the contemporary identity of mythic Persephone.

 Connie:. What was the inspiration for this story?

Reed: While traveling around the Mediterranean, I fell in love with the old Venetian harbor of Chania, a city on the north coast of Crete, reputed to be the oldest site of western civilization in Europe. What a setting for fiction! What plots might have unfolded here, given the fascinating history of the island! Why not a contemporary one?

Inspired by ubiquitous mythical signage, but especially by Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet and John Fowles’ The Magus, novels I was reading at the time, I began sketching out plausible characters of varying backgrounds, foremost among whom, Steven Spire, a young ex-pat as narrator and central character of artistic temperament in need of purpose. Bar and café conversations led to hints of foreign intrigue. Ancient ruins gave way to Nazi runes. Crooked laneways led to mountain retreats and buried secrets. Hydra-headed truth demanded a place on the table along with the ouzo and artichoke hearts. And love, naturally, raised all expectations with the birth, mirroring Aphrodite’s rise from the sea, of Magalee De Bellefeuille.

 Connie: Why do you write Literary Mysteries? 

Reed: As a student of literature, I am inspired by literary achievements that span the ages, from classical myths and tragedies to the modern novels of Joyce, Woolf, Proust, Durrell, and Banville. I attempt to create well-developed, articulate characters who find themselves involved in mysterious or troubling circumstances in my writing. As for the literary side of the equation and the intricacies of language, authors like the above mentioned I call on as guides. 

 Connie: Do you believe your writing has the power to change people? 

Reed: I believe good fiction should challenge the intellect as it brings aesthetic delight. I make every effort to write literary fiction that entertains while being socially relevant. If my novels present for readers a new way of viewing old truths or effect a change in attitude regarding a controversial issue, I count that as a bonus.

5.  Connie: Do you have a favorite paragraph/line of dialogue in this novel?

Reed: “Drawing lines in the earth with a pen and analyzing the finds with words, I have embarked at Magalee’s insistence upon a species of archaeological delving. Scratching the dusty surface of a scene is one thing; digging in the clay of character is another. Sifted-out shards get scattered all about me, and I wonder what to do with the pieces and the skulls and what to do with the dirt. Motives are maddening, like something rock hard. Connections prove difficult to uncover. All too frequently, the metaphor gets buried in its own inadequacy. Most frustrating of all, the present obscures the past."

Connie: What do you find the most challenging part of writing a mystery novel? 

Reed: Plausibility of plot and the avoidance of obvious red herrings. Consistency is not making the antagonists too villainous nor the protagonist too sympathetic. Most of all, not letting the writing distract from the story.

 Connie: How do you connect your emotions to your story?

Reed: Through the characters. It’s like “role-playing for the soul” in the words of Ricky Gervais. And through the projection of a persona. However, I try to maintain objectivity when it comes to dramatizing beliefs contrary to mine. My protagonists need not always be the only source for understanding what it is to be human. They can remain as mystified as the author by what passes for normal or abnormal behavior depending on what plot and theme determined, the latter often contributing a great deal of emotional charge. 


Connie: What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

Reed: I sit down to write every day and try to leave the desk having achieved at least a workable page. Frequently what comes of my effort amounts to no more than a serviceable paragraph, a single sentence, or a metaphor that might work in a context yet to be imagined.


Shades of Persephone is a literary mystery that will entertain those who delight in exotic settings, foreign intrigue, and the unmasking of mysterious characters. It presents a story of love and sensuality, deception and war, spiritual quest, and creative endeavor. The resolution takes an unanticipated turn but comes as no surprise to the discerning reader. Like Hamlet who must deal with his own character in following the injunctions of his ghostly father, Steven Spire discovers much about the city to which he has returned, but much more about himself and his capacity for love. 

August Release:



Crete in 1980-81, more specifically the old Venetian harbor of Chania, provides the background against which ex-pat Steven Spire labors in pursuit of David Montgomery, his enigmatic and elusive mentor, who stands accused in absentia of treachery and betrayal. The plot has many seams through which characters slide, another of them being the poet Emma Leigh, widow of Montgomery’s imposing Cold War adversary, Heinrich Trüger. In that the setting is Crete, the source of light is manifold, but the significant inspiration for Steven Spire comes from Magalee De Bellefeuille, his vision of Aphrodite, and his muse. “Find Persephone,” she directs him, “and you’ll find David Montgomery.”  Her prompts motivate much of the narrative, including that of the Cretan underground during the Nazi occupation, 1941- 45. 

Where may our readers purchase your novels and locate you via website/social media sites?

Reviews for current releases:

Séjour Saint-Louis

“Stirling does it again, entertaining the reader with a parade of engrossing characters. Through a complexity of allusion, simple truths are revealed. Contemporary, relevant, challenging, Séjour Saint-Louis is fused with ambiguity and subtle humor.”

Lighting The Lamp 

Lighting The Lamp dramatizes the efforts of Terry Burke, a sympathetic, at times caustic, and critical, but ordinary old guy, to come to grips with who he is and what his life has been.

Happy Reading, Everyone!



Saturday, May 28, 2022

Stuck in Your Story? Favorite Ways to Get Things Moving Again. By Connie Vines #RR, #RoundRobinBlog, #Writing Tips,

Ah, the universal problem for a writer.  

Favorite ways to get your story moving again! This month's topic: 

It (writers' block) often appears when the story is running smoothly....that is, until either your hero or heroine refuses to go along with your plotline. This is when 'storyland' begins to get ugly!  😕

What steps do I take? (Whining, crying, or insisting your characters conform, is pointless.--I learned that the hard way).

Coffee, a brief break in my garden, or listening to calming music will often work. 

An idea 💭will pop into my head--or one of the 'characters will tell me what will happen next. 

Other times, nothing seems to work.

This is known as the "Dark Moment" when All Is Lost!


Since I write multiple novels simultaneously, I'll pull out another story to edit, work on a blog post, or simply leave the story alone for a day or two. 💻

I may leave the story alone, but subconsciously, I'm still thinking about it and dreaming.


I can't say I always come up with a way to complete a story, but I do most of the time.  

Please visit my other author friends and find out how they get their stories moving again.

An author's favorite moment? 

Typing "The End." 

Happy Reading, everyone!



Skye Taylor

Dr. Bob Rich ---

Connie Vines

Anne Stenhouse

Diane Bator

A.J. Maguire

Rhobin Courtright


Friday, May 27, 2022

Featured Friday Author: Spotlight on Ann Birch By Connie Vines #Author Spotlight, #Featured Friday Author, #Ann Birch, #BWLPublishing, #Historical Romance


Today's Spotlight Interview is with the author Ann Birch.

Welcome to Dishin' It Out!   

Connie: Please tell us about the book you wish to feature. It is a historical romance, correct?

Ann: Yes. my novel is titledA Daughter Rebels 

Connie: What was the inspiration for this story?

Ann: Canadian historians have written about Anne Powell, but the versions of her story are always from a male point of view. I thought it might be interesting to tell about her from a female viewpoint. Letters in the archives provided the possibility that the male writers have been too sympathetic with Anne’s erstwhile lover, John Beverley Robinson, and too harsh in their view of Anne.

Connie: What would you like to see more of in the historical genre?

 Ann: Well, there are many good books about the Tudor era in England, the French Revolution (I’m thinking of A Tale of Two Cities), the slave era in the United States, and so on. Still, there’s very little about the early history of Toronto, the major Canadian city in which I live. There were so many scandals, so many interesting people, and so many important events back then, and I wanted to write about some of this fascinating past.

Connie: What, in your opinion, makes an excellent historical writer?

Ann: A well-known Canadian writer, Ian Weir, puts it rather grossly this way: “You’ve got to avoid making up shit.” I totally agree. A historical writer must spend days in the archives reading letters and diaries about her historical figures in order to get a sense of the lives and personalities of these people. She must also read many texts to get a good view of the period she’s used as a setting. She must also ignore the advice I once received to change dates around. What would be readers’ reaction if they read a story set during 1904-1908, the historical writer’s supposed dates of the First World War?

Connie Do you have a favorite scene in this novel?

Ann: I like the scene where Anne’s mother has insisted that her daughters dye their dresses instead of making new ones. While Anne can endure the dyeing process using herbs from the garden, she cannot stand the method of fixing the dye. Urine was the mordant used in those days. When she complains to her mother about the smell of the piss, the woman replies, “You’ll make yourself sick with all this fuss over trifles. And do watch your language. The Powell girls must always behave with propriety.” To which Anne replies, “Propriety be damned!” I thought once of using Anne’s reply as a title for the novel.

Connie: If you were forced to live the rest of your life as one of your characters, who would it be?

Ann: It would be my protagonist, the daughter who rebels against the restrictive rules of propriety that were imposed on upper-class women during the early 1800s. 

Connie: What are your hobbies? Do any of your characters share your hobbies or interests?

AnnI’m a free spirit. I hike, read novels, take my dog for long walks, volunteer in historical houses, talk to historical societies, give workshops in writing, have friends of all ages, and totally avoid the suffering that Anne Powell endures before she breaks loose. I have trouble sewing buttons back on my clothing, for example, so I am able to write with conviction about the long and tedious afternoons that Anne’s mother insists they spend on the stitchery. I’m well educated, too, so I hate the pejorative views Chief Justice Powell has of women’s educational needs. Unlike Anne’s father, my father encouraged my education and life interests.

Connie: What is your writing schedule?

Ann: I’m a terrible procrastinator, always searching for excuses not to write. But I’ve settled down lately, and I’ve started a new novel about the Reverend John Strachan, a major figure in the early history of York, now called Toronto. I usually find the evening hours between 8 and 10 p.m. the best time for inspiration.

Current Release:

Perhaps these comments have aroused interest in A Daughter Rebels. It’s available wherever books are sold or you can order it from Amazon or Goodreads. There are also multiple websites with my name. You might like to look at my Author Ann Birch Facebook page.

Here’s a brief summary of the novel:

For Anne Powell in 1807, life in York (now Toronto) is unbearable. Her mother’s rules of genteel propriety are intolerable, as is her father’s insistence that a daughter’s only role in life is to marry. Anne craves an active, useful existence. When a chance comes to assist the local midwife, she discovers her vocation.

Ann's social media and buy links:

BWL Publishing

Books2Read (multiple buy links)

Ann Birch Author FaceBook Page

FYI: Ann Birch is a longtime historical researcher and an award-winning Head of English in several Toronto high schools. She has a post-graduate degree in CanLit and is currently a fiction writer, editor, lecturer, and workshop facilitator. This is her third novel.


A novel rich with details that illuminate daily life in early nineteenth-century York (now Toronto) and the ongoing struggle of a brave woman of the upper class who confronts the soul-numbing torture of traditional female roles. 

"Ann Birch’s prose is exceptionally fine in its elegance, clarity, and wit." 

--Barbara Kyle, author of The Traitor’s Daughter

"Birch’s gentle yet sophisticated writing brings everyday life in early Toronto alive as no other contemporary writer can." 

--Robert Rotenberg, author of Heart of the City

Ann, thank you for visiting us today!  

(The book is available as an eBook or paperback).

Happy Reading, Everyone!



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