Mentally Ill and Living Well

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is my first entry in my new blog. I am announcing the debut of my new book, Song For My Baby and Other Stories, due out in June, 2020. It is a testament to the fact people can live well while mentally ill. They can enjoy family life, the company of close friends, and pass times the envy of many. My family gathered around me when I got ill, my friends stuck by me, and I played handball, downhill skied, duck hunted, and fished until Hell would not have it. Anything to put me out of the misery I was in. Good times replaced bad times. No one is as sick as you are? I’ve been there, when there was no hope, no view except the bottom of a Manhattan glass. I was known hence forth as my sister’s schizophrenic bother. My only claim to fame was I lived well. Today, I compared myself to people who are healthy and have full lives. Once, I compared myself to nutcases and thought I was doing well. And I was! Those days are gone and I entered a new era of fighting it out with everyone else.

“Living Well as Schizoaffective”

To accept my illness is to cure it. Eagle Claw and Other Stories is characterized by an acerbic look at life, an askance view of people, and a faith in their innate goodness. It is how the world looks to someone who walked away from an airplane crash. For the first time in my writing career, I am selling life, not a mental illness no one wanted to read about to begin with. Eagle Claw is due April 6 from Unsolicited Press http://www.unsolicitedpress.com


Eagle Claw and Other Stories is a work of great variety. Its title story is fiction about the U.S. Army’s Special Forces’ attempt to rescue the hostages held in Tehran during the Carter administration. Other stories include those about cleaning my shotgun, suicidal thoughts from a rock concert, and cravings for alcohol. Buy Eagle Claw on preorder from Unsolicited Press http://www.unsolicitedpress.com


My belly in the gutter to a life worth living

Song for My Baby and Other Stories is best described as a work with great variety.  What begins with the sudden demise of a father on a hunting trip, transforms into a collection that deals with mental illness, hitting bottom, and an appreciation for those who stick around in the worst of times.  Bremicker takes readers for a ride with no degree of certainty: From a high stakes golf game to pay off a son’s cocaine debt, a dating service that results in twelve dates in twelve months, a kidney transplant, a heart attack, a relapse on alcohol, to years in and out of psych wards and veterans’ homes, the book shifts gears from story to story. Song for My Baby and Other Stories is available from Unsolicited Press at http://www.unsolicitedpress.com.

Life After Mental Illness

Eagle Claw and Other Stories amazes readers with its variety. The title story is a fictional account of the aborted attempt by the U.S. Army’s Special Forces to free the hostages held in Tehran during the Carter administration. Tales of a road trip where the author gets his block knocked off, a duck hunt in the middle of the northern flight, and cleaning his shotgun describe a life on a road less traveled. Stories of heat exhaustion, skin cancer, and cravings for alcohol reveal his precarious health. Memories of catfishing on the Mississippi River, downhill skiing, and a milelong road, where he always shot a grouse, tell of lifelong passions. Yarns of a rock concert that causes suicidal thoughts, a patriotic party at a hi-rise, and a dentist who ruins his teeth bring out his unique voice. The forty-one stories seem commonplace, until you read the way Bremicker tells them. Eagle Claw and Other Stories is due as an eBook from Unsolicited Press www.unsolicitedpress.com April 6, 2021.

“It took me four hours before I drove to the emergency room for my first heart attack,” I said. “My second heart attack was not an emergency.”

“Go ahead.”

“If we could hang in there until we got to the access we could make it.”

“In other words, call 911, leave the decoys, and head for the access.”

“Yes!” I shouted, to make my point.

“I carry nitroglycerin.”

“So do I.”

“Let’s go to the ceremony.”

–Pelican Lake


Christopher G. Bremicker was a Special Forces medic stationed at Ft. Bragg NC from 1968 to 1970.  He has a BA in English and a Master’s in Business Administration, both from the University of Minnesota.  He is a newspaperman, downhill skier, and grouse hunter. He reviews theater and plays handball.  He is a sales associate at Walgreen’s in St. Paul MN, his forty-sixth job since high school and his hometown is Cable WI.

Unsolicited Press announces release of Song for My Baby and Other Stories by Christopher G. Bremicker

Song for My Baby and Other Stories is best described as a work with great variety.  What begins with the sudden demise of a father on a hunting trip, transforms into a collection that deals with mental illness, hitting bottom, and an appreciation for those who stick around in the worst of times.  Bremicker takes readers for a ride with no degree of certainty: From a high stakes golf game to pay off a son’s cocaine debt, a dating service that results in twelve dates in twelve months, a kidney transplant, a heart attack, a relapse on alcohol, to years in and out of psych wards and veterans’ homes, the book shifts gears from story to story. Buy it now at http://www.unsolicitedpress.com.


Virtual Author Visit with Dana Skornia


Dana Skornia lives in Jacksonville, FL with her husband and two children, and this is her first venture into writing fiction. She wrote the book with her father, JL Broxson, who lives in Milton, FL, where Dana and most of her relatives are from. She and her father have always been interested in the family history and genealogy of the Broxson family, and he’s always told her stories of the many people who have graced their heritage and of the friends who made their lives interesting fodder for the book.

Blog URL: https://awinterssecrets.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51479541-a-winter-s-secrets


Publication date: January 2020

Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction

This is a post-Civil War family saga, based loosely on the author’s ancestral heritage and other historical accounts of rural life in Florida after the slaves had been freed. The story follows the emotional journeys of each person involved in a love triangle and develops gracefully and powerfully as they adapt to each other, and come to terms with new family dynamics – for better or for worse. The plot has several interesting twists, a few tense moments where things could go either way, some emotional turmoil, and many kind deeds and encouraging moments.

A Winter’s Secrets has been submitted to Florida Writer’s Association Royal Palm Literary Awards Competition

Buy the book: A Winter’s Secrets

Reedsy: https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/a-winter-s-secrets-d-s-j-l-broxson

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Winters-Secrets-D-S-J-L-Broxson-ebook/dp/B084796RQT/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=a+winters+secrets&qid=1587845529&sr=8-3

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-winters-secrets-jl-broxson/1136126633?ean=9781078779517

Interview with Dana Skornia

Why did you start writing —what triggered your writing?

Dad called me one day and asked if I had a novel in me, and I said I thought I did. He and I have always been interested in the histories of the people in our heritage and he’s told me many stories over the years about how he grew up, people he knew, and what their lives were like. We agreed that I’d record him telling about those stories, and I used them to create a fictional tale, using many of the circumstances but envisioning what might have been, and crafting a plot and story line around them.

What does the act of writing bring into your life? Why do you want to write? 

In the beginning I had an audience of one, because the only person I was writing for was Dad. I wanted him to have a story that he would enjoy reading, one that would have meaning and relevance for the time and people that he grew up knowing, and would resonate with what he knew to be true about the era and the people who lived in the early 1900s. As I continued I hoped it would be one that anyone might enjoy, and I wanted to share the story with others.

How long did it take you to write your book? How many rewrites did it go through?  

I sent chapters to Dad as I finished them, and it took a few re-writes of the first three or four chapters to really feel as though I had something worth continuing. Once I got started, though, I found that the characters didn’t always behave the way I thought they should, but they also became more real to me as I started fleshing them out and determining who they really were.  

Is this your first book? Your first fiction book?

This is the first book I’ve ever tried to write, although many people have told me I need to write a book and I had a blog going for a few years when my children were younger. I enjoyed writing it and wish I could afford to do nothing but write, as I thoroughly enjoyed the process and feel like I’ve got a few more “novels” in me.

What did you learn, either about the subject of your book or about yourself, as you were working on this book?

That I loved working on this project with my Dad.  He’s an amazing person, as I’ve always known, and just being able to talk to him each week about it, or hear what he’d have to say after reading a chapter, made the whole process just that much more enjoyable. 

Virtual Author Tour with Nancy Christie


Nancy Christie is the award-winning author of two short story collections: Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and Peripheral Visions and Other Stories (Unsolicited Press), two books for writers: Rut-Busting Book for Writers and Rut-Busting Book for Authors (Mill City Press) and the inspirational book, The Gifts of Change (Atria/Beyond Words). Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary publications, with several earning contest placements.

A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Florida Writers Association, Christie teaches writing workshops at conferences, libraries and schools. She is also the founder of the annual “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day.

Website: www.nancychristie.com


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyChristieAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NChristie_OH

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YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/NancyChristieOnYouTube  

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancychristie/


Publication Date: May 5, 2020

Publisher: Unsolicited Press

Genre: Literary Fiction

What do you do when the hand that life deals you isn’t the one you wanted? In Peripheral Visions and Other Stories, the characters choose to play the best game they can with the cards they’ve received. For some, it’s making the most of the circumstances in which they find themselves, even if it’s not the life they planned. For others, it’s following an unconventional path—not the easiest course or the one that others would take, but the one that’s right for them. But they never lose hope that life will get better if they can just hold on.

Peripheral Visions and Other Stories won second place in the Florida Writers Association 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards (RPLA) competition, with three of the stories having also earned contest placements.

Buy the book: Peripheral Visions and Other Stories

Bookshop: https://tinyurl.com/yd6cro92  

Smashwords: https://tinyurl.com/rks47z6

Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/yamplxon

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LSqK4a

Unsolicited Press: https://tinyurl.com/ya5o2dhm

Interview with Nancy Christie

How long have you been writing fiction? When did you start?

I remember writing stories when I was in second grade and continued writing them off an on for decades. But I didn’t think about submitting them for years. Then my first piece, “Free-Falling,” was accepted by Xtreme Magazine in 1994, followed by stories accepted by other literary magazines. But it wasn’t until Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories was first published in 2014, subsequently re-released by Unsolicited Press, that I finally felt like I was a real fiction writer.

What triggers your story ideas: a character, a setting, plot or dialogue?

Some of my stories are inspired by dreams, while others are the result of overhearing (okay, eavesdropping!) on conversations between strangers. Some stories arise from a technical challenge I set for myself. One (still in progress) is a children’s story about a princess who lost her passion. I wanted to use as many “P” words as I could, preferably ones that were fun to say aloud. Another story, “Still,” is a flash fiction piece using the same word but in its different forms: as an adverb, adjective, conjunction. And then there are others that I have no idea where the ideas for them come from!

Do you have a theme you return to time and again?

Loss and loneliness, the difficulty that people have in navigating through life, the fear of change coupled with the awareness that change will come, whether they want it to or not.

Do you ever get “stuck” when writing—have trouble beginning a project or getting through it? If so, how do you handle those “work-in-progress” ruts?

The closest I have come to writer’s block was during a difficult time in my life when I was going through a lot of personal challenges and had stopped writing any fiction. The longer I went without writing, the more convinced I was that I would never write fiction again. And since that is my passion, you can imagine what a really ugly experience that was! Eventually, I had an idea, started writing and found my writing voice again! That taught me to always make time—even if just 30 minutes—for fiction. 

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most? The least?

When I am writing just for writing’s sake, and the words flow out and they are expressing exactly what is in my mind and heart, or the minds and hearts of my characters. That’s a joy that has nothing to do with money or publication but all to do with fulfillment.

Like most authors I’ve talked to, the marketing is the least enjoyable. While I love interacting with my readers, I am often frustrated by the time-sucking, nuts-and-bolts tasks associated with promoting my books, and never knowing which one will work!

Excerpt from “Peripheral Visions” from Peripheral Visions and Other Stories

“Shoot.” Lena caught sight of the sign pointing the way to the rest stop off I-77 almost a fraction of a moment too late. She turned the wheel too sharply, causing the right tires of her old Ford Escort to kick up bits of gravel from the shoulder, before she could navigate it safely onto the turnoff.

Shaking slightly, she slowed the car to a more sedate twenty-five-miles per hour before brushing the perspiration from her forehead.

“That was close,” she said to no one in particular. Talking to herself was a habit she had acquired since her mother’s passing. The young think older people talk to themselves because they are going senile. But when there is no one left to talk to, you have to talk out loud. Otherwise, the silence can be deafening. And after decades as a practical nurse where she routinely carried on conversations with patients simply to ease the sterile loneliness of the oncology ward, Lena knew the value of the spoken word even when there wasn’t anyone around to answer.

She glanced up at her rearview mirror, hoping the blue highway patrol car that seemed to be shadowing her since she crossed into West Virginia hadn’t caught her latest misjudgment. That’s all she would need: flashing lights, a request that she show her driver’s license, and then a trip to the police station, where they would no doubt confiscate her car and contact her niece Claire.

Claire. By now, Claire might have figured out what Lena was up to, but she still wouldn’t be sure exactly where her aunt had headed. For who would expect a seventy-two-year-old woman who had never driven beyond the Kingsville city limits to drive the nine-hundred-plus miles from Ohio to Florida?

Not Claire, that’s for sure. Claire would have expected Lena to be looking forward to her move to Golden Glow, to behave as the sane, sensible, and highly responsible maiden aunt she had always been.

“Not this time, though,” Lena said aloud, as she checked the parking area for other cars, including any with the telltale light bar mounted on the roof and distinctive twin gold stripes on the side, before pulling into a parking spot. “For once in my life, I’m going to do what I want to do, instead of walking a straight line right up to the end.”

That’s the biggest problem with the world today, she thought as she gingerly slid out of the car, carefully stretching her back to work out the kinks. The pain that had plagued her shoulder was even worse than usual this morning, undoubtedly aggravated by too many hours behind the wheel.

She moved her body slowly, continuing her conversation aloud. “People walk around with blinders on just like horses, their eyes glued on the goal, the ‘Big Picture.’ There’s no sidestepping, no walking off the beaten path, no road less traveled. You get ahead that way, it’s true. But what if where you end up isn’t where you should have gone?”

The West Virginia sunshine was welcoming and a darn sight better than the freezing northeast weather she had left behind almost four hours earlier. A wet, sleety snow had made the driving more than a little challenging, especially once she got on the interstate and had to contend with all the tractor-trailers that were crowding the roadway.

It wasn’t until she had approached the Marietta–Williamstown Interstate Bridge that would take her over the Ohio River and into West Virginia that the weather improved and the horizon looked brighter. Lena didn’t usually believe in omens but this time she took heart in the fact that across the border the sun was shining, the snow was non-existent, and that it would be a warmer, better place than the one she had left.

And now, safe in another state, even her back felt better—well, at least, compared to how it had felt all winter long. Of course, she knew that nothing would make it feel completely fine. Even the pills only dulled the edge of the pain, never relieving it entirely.

That’s really what decided her on this trip. She was afraid that if she waited any longer, either her nerve or her body would betray her and she would spend what was left of her time—three months, maybe less, she judged—in the fluorescent confines of the nursing home or hospital.

The whole time her niece Claire was talking—laying out stage after stage for her aunt as though Lena couldn’t put two and two together and end up with four—Lena’s mind flashed to tantalizing pictures of a bit of sand and sparkling water. It looked mighty appealing to her, especially since she was tired of shoveling snow from the driveway before she could leave the house. It was a good car, even if it was as old as dirt, and she thought it deserved better than to have its fenders frozen off for weeks on end.

For that matter, so did she.



Skye Taylor, mother, grandmother and returned Peace Corps Volunteer, loves adventure and lives in St Augustine Florida where she enjoys the history of America’s oldest city, walking on the beach, and volunteering with the USO. Her published work includes Bullseye, The Candidate, The Camerons of Tide’s Way series and Iain’s Plaid. Visit her website: www.Skye-writer.com to read her short stories and essays about her time spent in the South Pacific with the Peace Corps. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Florida Writer’s Association, RWA and Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association. Skye has twice won silver in the Royal Palm Literary Awards with Healing a Hero and Worry Stone, and The Candidate placed second for Strong Romantic Elements in the ACRA Reader’s Choice Awards.

She loves hearing from her readers at Skye@Skye-writer.com

Website URL: https://www.Skye-writer.com

Blog URL: https://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Twitter: https://twitter.com/skyewriter22 (Skyewriter22)

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About Bullseye: A Jesse Quinn Mystery (Jesse Quinn Mysteries Book 1)

Publication date: Feb 26, 2020

Publisher: SandCastle Books

Genre: Mystery

Dan Hoffman’s wife is dead. His fingerprints are on the glass prism she was bludgeoned with, and powerful people want him in cuffs. But Detective Jesse Quinn has a history with Dan and she believes he’s innocent. A man on the run claims the murder is tied to a long-ago cover-up over an incident in Afghanistan. Four people are dead, and two attempts have been made. A rival in the Sheriff’s office wants to take over the investigation and time is running out. Will Jesse be able to put all the pieces together before she is sidelined and Dan arrested for his wife’s murder?

Buy the book: Bullseye: A Jesse Quinn Mystery (Jesse Quinn Mysteries Book 1)

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2vvBwZl

Interview with Skye Taylor

How long have you been writing fiction? When did you start?

Most of my life, but seriously disrupted by the raising of a family and caring for a sick husband. Been writing novel length fiction for almost thirty years now and after many disheartening rejections, I sold my first book, a mainstream, The Candidate, to Wings Press in 2012. My Tide’s Way series was contracted by Belle Bridge Books in 2013.

Why did you start —what triggered your writing?

I had an English teacher in Junior and Senior years of high school who really challenged me and created the spark. On that first day in his class, I thought I was doomed when he advised us that he would deduct 5 points for every misspelled word. I might not have been the world’s worst speller, but I wasn’t far from the top of that list. But then he handed out dictionaries and told us they could remain on our desks during quizzes and tests and he expected us to look the word up if we weren’t sure. That began my exploration into a far more varied vocabulary and a love for words. His assignments made me dig deep as well, and I discovered I had a gift for writing that might never had come to light had I not had Mr. Keyes for two very formative years in my education.

Do you ever get “stuck” when writing—have trouble beginning a project or getting through it? If so, how do you handle those “work-in-progress” ruts?

Before when I wrote romance, and even for the most part my mainstream, The Candidate, the story itself was character driven. I wrote lengthy dossiers on my main characters and shorter ones for the supporting cast so I knew them all pretty good. I plopped them into the inciting incident and let them run with the ball. I always knew where they would end up and most of the time even wrote the final scenes before the rest of the book, but the characters’ reactions to events drove the bus. I was a true pantser. Now I’ve given myself a whole new challenge – mystery/police procedural. It’s a whole new ball game. I need to know who did it, how, when, why, who knew about it etc because I need to drop those hints along the way and my heroine needs to solve the mystery in a logical way. I am forced to do some plotting and writing an outline stops me dead in my tracks. I spend whole days struggling with what comes next sometimes and pine for the easy of my previous method. But I’ve lost interest in today’s romance genre – I read a blurb that sounds interesting, and buy the book, only to be disappointed with the feeling I’ve read this before. If that’s what’s selling then I’m no longer interested in writing it. So I moved on.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most? The least?

I love all the writing parts, even the editing, revising, rewriting and the research. What I HATE is the marketing.

Tell us an interesting fact or hidden secret about one of the characters that we wouldn’t know by reading the book.

Seth Cameron, who is a friend and former tutor for my heroine’s son Mike, and a hopeful love interest for Jesse, is a cousin to the Camerons in the Tide’s Way series. In book 2 we’ll begin to see some of that connection when Jesse discovers that Seth has spent most of his life believing that his older brother, Sam, who disappeared one night while away at college is not dead as everyone else, his family and the police who investigated the disappearance believe. Seth has a whole box of notes and information he’s dug up over the years in an effort to find his brother or at least find out what happened to him.

Interview with Jesse Quinn

Interviewer: Good afternoon, Deputy Detective Jessalyn Quinn, or do you prefer to be called Jesse?

Jesse: Only my mother and my ex call me Jessalyn but everyone who knows the real me calls me Jesse. I like it because my dad used to call me Jesse Girl when I was little. He was killed in the line of duty when I was twelve he’s the reason I wanted to be a cop. I aspire to be a law enforcement officer he would have been proud of.

Interviewer: So, I guess you’ve wanted to be in law enforcement all your life.

Jesse: Pretty much. I tried living the life my mother thought proper for a southern lady. You know, dutiful wife and mother, active in the community and all that stuff. But it didn’t work out. And it definitely wasn’t fulfilling once my kids got to school age and started having a life of their own. Elliott, my ex, was another mistake, but the less said about him the better. When that life began to unravel I enrolled at the Police Academy and got a job with the St John’s County Sheriff’s department right after graduating. And I love my work.

Interviewer: But does your work sometimes interfere with your family life? It must be hard being a good mom and a good cop.

Jesse: Mike only has two years left in high school and Jacqui’s a freshman. They’re good kids and for the most part, I trust them to make good decision. Sometimes I do get caught up on a case and I worry what might be going on at home when I can’t be there, but so far I’ve been able to balance the two pretty well. Jacqui’s just turned thirteen and wants to be 21 so I have to be especially vigilant with her, but her father, while he wasn’t much of a husband, is a good dad to his daughter and he’s been there when I can’t be. My mom has taken Jacqui under her wing too so there’s that. And Mike has Seth.

Interviewer: Who’s Seth?

Jesse: He started out as Mike’s tutor. Mike wasn’t okay with his father taking off for a younger woman and his grades were slipping badly. So, Seth came into his life, got him back on track in school, then stayed around to be all the things Mike’s dad never had the time for.

Interviewer: So, is there a new man in your life, or have you turned your back on that kind of relationship? Once burned, twice shy and all.

Jesse: (blushing a little) Well, Seth has hung around for more than just Mike. I tried to pretend there was nothing there and once Mike was doing okay, Seth would be gone. But he’s more persistent than that. And incredibly patient, waiting for me to loosen up, and maybe take a chance on him. He’s good company, a good listener and a great cook. I don’t know if it will ever be more than just friendship, but . . . who knows. Maybe.

Interviewer: So, tell me a little about your work. How did you end up on the Major Crimes Squad?

Jesse: Being a detective is a lot more rewarding than riding in a patrol car ever was. Some of the things a deputy sees, no one should ever have to see. People can be incredibly stupid or just as incredibly evil. Some folk just get into trouble without half trying. Being on patrol is day after day of dealing with the worst of people every day and the best of people on their worst days. Major Crimes has its share, more than its share, of just plain evil, way too much human suffering and pain, but it’s also rewarding when you solve the puzzle. Figure out who did it and nail them. Sometimes you have to tell someone a loved one has perished and that’s never easy, but when you manage to track down the perpetrator and throw in them in jail, you get to go back and give the family some sense of justice. That’s the rewarding part. And sometimes you get to intervene in someone’s plan to hurt another, save a kid from a life of sexual slavery, or drugs, or convince a battered wife to finally leave her spouse and start healing again. At the end of the day, I know I’ve made a difference, and that’s what makes this job worth the hardships and the ugliness, time away from family or just the nightmares you live with for the rest of you life.

Interviewer: Well, Detective Quinn, it’s been interesting chatting with you, but I can hear your phone beeping so I guess I better let you get back to your work. Thanks for coming in today.  

Jesse: (Reaching for her phone) It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Excerpt from Bullseye

The tang of salty air filled my senses as I gazed up at the familiar, sprawling mansion where I’d spent so much of my youth. Hanging out with my ex’s sister and being courted by Elliott the Rat while the house still belonged to the Edwards family.

Then there was that intense fling I wasn’t so proud of. The one with Dan Hoffman, current owner of the property.

Dan had called 911 when he arrived home from work and found his wife Laney unconscious. According to Lt. Ward, Dan had desperately demanded an ambulance, but when the EMT rig rolled in the wife was already dead.

I ducked under the yellow crime scene tape stretched across the cobblestone drive, and strode toward the house. At the top of the wide, stone staircase a handsome black rookie stepped into my path.

“Ma’am? This is a crime scene. No one is—”

I shoved the front of my suit jacket aside. As he gawked at the badge hanging on a lanyard around my neck, I held out my ID folder.

He accepted the black folder. “Jessalyn Quinn.” He frowned, then his head jerked up and his eyes met mine. “You’re Jesse Quinn? The Jesse Quinn?”

“That would be me.” I tried to add a jaunty grin.

“But you’re . . . I mean—”

I made the tsking sound Mother never missed an opportunity to scold me for. “Too short? Too female? Looks can be deceiving. Didn’t they teach you that at the academy?”

Nothing about my diminutive, tailored appearance matches the reputation of an impetuous rookie barely off probation who had taken out three armed thieves at a convenience store my first week alone on the job. I’d been far too hasty back then and way overconfident. However, having prevailed in spite of taking a round in my thigh, the incident had gained me creds. Big time. No one had ever questioned my ability to handle myself since if you didn’t count the testosterone-laden ribbing dished out on a regular basis.

“Sorry, Detective Quinn. No disrespect meant.” The young deputy started poking at the electronic tablet he held, logging my information and the time I’d arrived.

“None taken.” I slipped my ID back into my pocket. “Were you first on the scene?”

He nodded. “I was just a couple blocks away. Got here before the EMTs.”

“Deputy—” I glanced at his name tag. “MacKenzie. I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Just ask for Mac,” he replied, nodding. 

“Mac,” I repeated as I stepped past him and into the cool interior of the beautiful old house.

When I’d stepped out of my cruiser, the tidal wave of déjà vu had been strong, but inside, the clash of history, of memories good and bad, swelled in my chest. I did my best to ignore the tightness and inspect my surroundings impartially.

My sturdy, leather-soled shoes clicked loudly on the bare, hardwood floor that had once been covered with a luxurious Oriental carpet. A carpet that had tickled my bare backside on more than one occasion. Another wave of shame burned through me as I hurried through to the next room.

The old family room hit me even harder. I clenched my teeth and forced the memories back into the box where they belonged.



A. Piper Burgi is the author of several non-fiction books and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. Her debut novel, IN THE SHADOW OF HER MAJESTY, was a Golden Book Award Semi-Finalist, and Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews named her women’s fiction novel THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS “…a must-read for historical fiction fans who can appreciate the imperial intrigues…”

She is also a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Independent Author Network, an Air Force Veteran, and a military spouse; plus a busy doggie mommy, a cook, a chauffeur – you get the picture. When she is not busy chasing after her three furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee, she can be found typing away on her computer.

Website URL: https://www.authorapiperburgi.com

Blog URL: https://www.authorapiperburgi.com

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YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4eG0tDPohHPM1RcBcDY-pQ

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/a-piper-burgi-0ba30b14

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7121827.A_Piper_Burgi    


Publication date: 16 Mar 2020

Publisher: Independently Published

Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Person

The sudden, violent death of Sisi’s only son, Crown Prince Rudolph at his hunting lodge Mayerling, shakes the Empire to its core. The fact that the dead body of his teenaged mistress is found next to his makes the scandal complete. Does this tragedy mark the end of the Danube monarchy, since Rudolph only had a daughter?


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/A-Piper-Burgi/e/B00D358KYM

Note: All four books of the Country Girl Empress series (Kindle version only) are currently on sale at: https://www.amazon.com/A-Piper-Burgi/e/B00D358KYM

Interview with A. Piper Burgi

How do you blend your writing life with your “real life”—do you find it challenging to make time for both sides? If so, what are some of the difficulties, and how do you resolve them?

It all just intermingles. There’s no separate “real life” and “writer’s life”. The two parts somehow co-exist. There are, of course, times when one has to spend more time on one than on the other, but that’s just how life is…something unexpected pops up, and you find a way to deal with it and move on.

How do you define success as a writer? What makes you feel successful as a writer? Conversely, what makes you feel like a failure, and how do you combat that?

My thoughts on believing myself to be a successful writer have not changed. My books might not have hundreds of 5-star reviews, nor do I earn millions of dollars per year with my writing, but I write the stories I love and publish them. And I call that a success!

Everybody has bad days, but I’m not so sure that those days make me feel like a failure. I prefer to call them challenges. You only fail when you don’t even try.

What triggers your story ideas: a character, a setting, plot or dialogue?

I find that once I’ve had a specific scene or dialogue play out in my head like a sort of movie, it’s fairly easy to sit down and write it all out.

Do you have a theme you return to time and again?

I’ve always been fascinated by history, and the strong women it produced. At the moment, I am a little enamored with 19th century Vienna and the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

Do you ever get “stuck” when writing—have trouble beginning a project or getting through it? If so, how do you handle those “work-in-progress” ruts?

Like all writers, I have good days and not so good days. On the not so good days, when the words don’t seem to want to flow, I take a break from writing and recharge either by reading, cooking, or traveling (if time allows).


Dense rain clouds hung deep over the port of Trieste, and bolts of lightning struck near Miramare Castle. The first large drops of rain fell. The winds howled in short bursts around the reinforced battlements. The sounds of the heavy surf mixed with the rumbling thunder were only drowned out by the patter of the rain against the window panes.

Just a few hours ago, the imperial yacht “Miramar” had arrived at the private pier of the castle with Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her small entourage on board. While the ladies-in-waiting, Countess Marie von Festetics, Ida von Ferenczy, and Landgravine Therese von Fürstenberg as well as the always-busy Baron Nopsca, exhausted from the journey, retreated to their rooms, Empress Sisi had begun one of her infamous long walks without a bite to eat. And despite the nearing thunderclouds, she went alone.

“I’m beginning to seriously worry about Her Majesty,” the Baron said to Ida von Ferenczy and stepped towards one of the high windows from which one could see over the fence all the way down to the empty coastal streets of Trieste.

“Not a single person in sight! I hope she has enough common sense to seek shelter somewhere. What would the Emperor say if something happened to her!?”

“I don’t even want to imagine that, Baron! What if she sought shelter in a local public house, all by herself, and someone recognizes her? Just think about the assassination attempt three years ago! And to this day, you occasionally read ‘Eviva Guglielmo!’ smeared on buildings and statues, even after that Italian irredentist, Mr. Oberdank, was arrested.”

“That time, our police force did good work. I’ve informed the local police president immediately after we arrived! They will keep a close watch on the castle and the surrounding areas.”

“That is more than necessary, Baron. No one is safe because of these Nationalists, but Her Majesty doesn’t seem to care. She just pretends that none of this pertains to her.”

“You’re telling me?! She doesn’t make it any easier for me,” the Baron moaned. “I thought over time, she would change, but apparently, I was wrong. She not only looks like the years have passed her by without a trace, but she also acts like it. The word ‘fatigue’ is not part of her vocabulary. She rides like the Devil, and her wanderlust is almost unearthly. Nature, nature, nothing but nature! And that combined with her love for the poet Heinrich Heine and his writings…”

He looked towards the Heavens for help, while Ida jumped up in the bright light of the latest lightning bolt, which was almost immediately followed by the grumbling of thunder.

“Holy Mother of God…” a female voice could be heard from the direction of the door. “What’s she going to look like this time when she comes back? And I just combed her hair and pinned it up just before we disembarked the yacht.”

Fanny Feifalik, Her Majesty’s hairdresser, entered the room and fell onto an armchair while wringing her hands in despair.

“You have nothing but hair on your mind,” Baron Nopsca snapped.

– End of Excerpt –




Kathleen Kelley Reardon is professor emerita of business and preventive medicine at the University of Southern California. She has published ten nonfiction books and two crime mysteries. She draws upon her research on gender issues, love of crime mysteries and knowledge of the academic underworld for both Shadow Campus (2013) and Damned If She Does (2020). She keeps herself guessing as to who-done-it, so the reader is unsure right to the end. Kathleen is also an artist and her work is at www.paintingdoc.com and her Facebook page.

Blog URL: www.kathleenkelleyreardon.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathreardon @kathreardon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathleenkelleyreardon/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kathchrisrn kathchrisrn


Publication date: January 24, 2020

Publisher: Big Table Publishing

Genre: crime mystery

Young professor Meg Doherty has long held a dark secret. When a renowned professor is viciously murdered at a Manhattan hotel conference, Meg stumbles upon the scene and quickly becomes a prime suspect. Caught in NYC’s blinding media spotlight, gilded society and criminal underworld, Meg and her brother, Shamus, risk their lives to prove her innocence.

Forbes described Shadow Campus as a “fast-paced” and “masterful debut.”

Kirkus Reviews found Damned If She Does “informed and searing” and a “page-turning success”

Buy the book: Damned If She Does

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Damned-She-Does-Kathleen-Reardon-ebook/dp/B0844PJLNX/ref=sr_1_1

Backstory for DAMNED IF SHE DOES

Damned If She Does (2020) by Kathleen Kelley Reardon

As a child, I loved art and writing. A truly wonderful Bunnell High School English teacher, Judith Kase, saw promise and creativity in my writing and encouraged both. For five years, I taught high school English in South Windsor and Stratford, Connecticut. Having also studied communication at the University of Connecticut, my career path took me on to an MA and Ph.D. at UMass, Amherst. As a newly minted professor in my twenties, I published research papers and my first of ten nonfiction books, Persuasion in Practice (Sage). It’s still in print today.

Fiction took a back seat to research and writing, tenure and promotion.  So, it wasn’t until my forties that I returned to it.  Experiences as a female academic seeking tenure at a business school inspired me to begin writing Shadow Campus – my first crime mystery. Publication came years later. With three children and on route to full professor, there was little extra time. But I came back to the manuscript during the summers.

I was writing Damned If She Does long before the MeToo era began. Meg, one of two lead characters, keeps a dark secret until she stumbles upon the dead body of the man who caused it all and quickly becomes the prime suspect. Four characters from Shadow Campus return in this second crime mystery, which I anticipate becoming part of a trilogy. The first book took place in L.A, the second in New York City, and the third, now partially written, will be situated in West Cork Ireland.

Interview with primary character, Shamus Doherty

Kathleen: Shamus, I’m delighted that you’re here. I know you’re a private person. Let’s start there. You finally said yes to this interview on the fourth try.

Shamus: You’ve put me in two novels. I guess you could say my life is no longer my own. Besides, my sister can’t seem to shake the notion that her brother is an introvert whose love life won’t blossom until he opens up.  

Kathleen: Any other reason?

Shamus: (smiling) Maybe I’m just a little worried about what you’ll write about me in the third book.

Kathleen: At this point, I may have little wiggle room. Our readers know you as well as I do.  Some tell me what you’ll do next.

Shamus: You reap what you sow.

Kathleen: Let me ask you this: You’ve stolen the hearts of many female readers. They describe you as a “diamond in the rough.” What’s your response to that?

Shamus: Detective Jeffries says any charm I might have is wasted – that I’m oblivious to women noticing me.

Kathleen: Do you think he has a point?

Shamus: I think he’s just grumpy.

Kathleen: He is that. So, tell me, in book three you’ll be in Ireland. Are you looking forward to that?

Shamus: I’m not much for travel, but my Irish roots go way back. I think we can tell Meg that I’m branching out.

Kathleen: She’s going along, isn’t she?

Shamus: Yep. She’s been there many times and loves it, especially West Cork.

Kathleen: You’re becoming quite the amateur detective. Is that something you plan to turn into a career?

Shamus: It’s born of necessity. My dream is building beautiful homes. Maybe someday a degree in architecture.

Kathleen: I guess we’ll see.

Shamus: (Smiling) Unless you want to tell us now.

Kathleen: Thank you for being here, Shamus. 

Shamus: Ah, you’re keeping it a secret. I knew it. 

Kathleen: One last thing, Shamus.  Is Denise in your future?

Shamus: She’s in my present. That’s really all I can say.


Damned If She Does is based in New York City. As Covid-19 continues to bring great pain there, here are two excerpts reminding us of the city’s unique beauty:

When they left MOMA, it was dark and lightly snowing. Meg’s cheeks reddened from the cold; her eyes brightened. Rashid breathed in Manhattan’s icy magic. Leafless tree branches adorned with miniature white lights, obscure an hour earlier, now reached their glowing branches skyward like secondary characters boldly stealing the show. Cars and taxis moved rhythmically, cooperatively. Buildings glistened. Rainbow hued pigeons, heads bobbing, dexterously scurried and fluttered in a precarious dance with preoccupied pedestrians.

“No place quite like it,” Shamus said.

Rashid slowly nodded as he looked up transfixed by snowflakes bright against the darkening sky, some joining like starlings in harmonic formations, upward and downward, inward and outward, as if having practiced together for years …

Shamus stopped in front of the Plaza Hotel. His parents had taken him and Meg there on pre-Christmas sojourns to see the decorations and to enjoy a brunch memorable for the steaming hot chocolate poured by fastidious waiters from gleaming silver, long-stemmed pots. He and Meg had looked forward to the annual pilgrimage almost as much as Christmas morning. It was a tradition of indulgence, a harbinger of more pleasures to come, costly for his parents, but one of exquisite happiness until things had gone sour between him and his father…

Crossing the street beside the hotel brought him into Central Park. A few minutes later, he was at the skating rink. He wiped snow from a bench and sat watching skaters glide and spin as his mind wrestled with how his sister had been nearly present for two murders. He’d have to shop around for a top-notch lawyer. The one he’d found would do for tonight. She seemed sharp enough in the few minutes they’d had to talk. But things were going from bad to worse, and Meg needed a shark.

Shamus purchased a hot chocolate, held it tight to warm his hands, and breathed in the rich, sweet distraction. He watched a woman twirl on one skate in the center of the rink and then began to make his way back to the hotel. Continuing along the park, cross-country skiers were taking to the roads now nearly clear of traffic. Another hour and the city would be pedestrians only, dodging the occasional determined plow. He looked up to find where John Lennon had lived and tragically died. Snow caressed the park trees, bordered and bejeweled the stone bridges, here and there spinning in mini tornadoes, as if this was perhaps its final show before bequeathing the stage to the colors of spring.

He shivered. The temperature was dropping. Reality was creeping back. His phone pinged: Meg texting that she’d meet him at the hotel. Couldn’t stay there another minute, she wrote. Okay, he texted back. See you there. He’d planned to talk with the lawyer, but that would have to wait.

Reaching the edge of the park, he looked back one more time to watch children rolling in the snow beneath street lamps, young adults making snow angels, throwing snowballs and playing Frisbee. Someday, he thought, on a night like this, maybe, just maybe, I’ll bring someone special here.