Moonlight Author’s Mystic Mysteries


Strong Heroines Make Memorable Characters

Well, here I am again, attempting to answer another question about favorites—which I really don’t have an answer for. The reason this is difficult for me is because it’s not specific characters who stand out for me as much as it is their traits, personalities and sense of humor, which is why I enjoy specific authors.

I guess sometime during the past ten years, I’ve switched my mindset over to writer, even when I am reading a story for enjoyment. These days, I don’t have much opportunity to read, but in the past, I would read an entire novel a day, and sometimes more.

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Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

She Was Not Lying…Tomorrow Really IS Another Day

I have read tons and tons of books over the years, and I have found many heroines that I admire and enjoyed getting to know. But, hands down, the heroine I love the most is Scarlett O’Hara. Yes, I know, she’s almost a cliché, but there has never been a heroine who has made the impact on me that Scarlett made. On the surface, she’s not all that admirable. She’s a simpering, self-centered, southern belle, who will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. But even early on, she exhibits a few good qualities in her love for her parents and for Mammy. However, her true character is revealed as the story unfolds. Yes, she will still do whatever it takes to get what she wants, but she will also fiercely protect those she loves and fight to the death for survival.

Talk about character growth…here are some of the things this coddled, self-involved, delicate southern belle did as the story progressed…

  • She nursed wounded soldiers and helped hold down a man while his leg was amputated
  • When the Yankees were invading Atlanta, she stayed behind to help her arch nemesis instead of fleeing to safety
  • She delivered the baby of her arch nemesis
  • She took the baby and her arch nemesis with her when she fled burning Atlanta, when she could have left them behind.
  • She dealt with the loss of her parents and became head of the family
  • She worked her fingers raw to feed her family and bring Tara back to life
  • She ran a business and made it a huge success
  • She shot and killed a marauding Yankee and then helped bury his dead body

She proves herself to be resilient, smart, strong, brave, and tough. A survivor. And she never lost hope, as evidenced by the last lines of the book:

“I’ll think of it tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

I would love to write a character with all the complexities and admirable traits of Scarlett O’Hara, but I can’t see me ever having the talent to pull that off. She was most definitely one of a kind.

Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

A Timeless Inspiration

Ever since my childhood imagination discovered Madeleine L’Engles, A Wrinkle In Time, the idea of time travel intrigued me. As I grew older, my interest naturally evolved to more intricate plots like H. G. Wells’ Time Machine…and the timeless love depicted in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlanderadded to my fascination. Whenever a time travel movie released, I was mesmerized by the timeless inspiration. From Back to the Future, Somewhere in Time, The Lake House, and Time Traveler’s Wifeto made-for-TV stories like Two Worlds of Jenny Loganand The Philadelphia Experiment. [If you love time slips, the last two are DVD’s available on Amazon.]

Choosing a favorite hero or heroine across the years had me sifting through myriad books in that genre alone. But when I considered the stories that stayed with me long after I closed the book, the answer stood out like no other. One hero actually had a lasting effect on my life. Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck, the extraordinary romantic hero in Jude Deveraux’s A Knight In Shining Armor wins hands down. If you’ve never read the book, you haven’t experienced an incredible romance that transcends time. To tempt your passion consider this: Read more “A Timeless Inspiration”

Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

I Witch I Could Think of a Favorite Heroine

My favorite fictional hero or heroine? That can change depending upon what book I’m immersed in at the time. Although after some contemplation, I realized there was someone who stood out in my mind. A heroine, of course, because I do enjoy a good kick ass heroine who can take care of herself—plus a little magic always helps. Read more “I Witch I Could Think of a Favorite Heroine”

Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

Favorite Heroine: The Bronze Horseman’s Tatiana

I’m excited to kick off another Moonlight and Mystery blog series, this one on each author’s favorite hero or heroine!  In the past, we’ve done a series of posts on settings for our novels and a book that impacted our childhood.  But this is the first time we’ve had to pick favorites!  I’m not going to lie, as an avid reader, it’s tough.  I did a post on my own blog years ago on my favorite fictional couples, and I forced myself to narrow it down to five (note – I had not read The Bronze Horseman yet!).  But one hero OR heroine?  Nearly impossible. Read more “Favorite Heroine: The Bronze Horseman’s Tatiana”

Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

What Can I Say? I Don’t Have One Favorite…

But I do have several favorite authors.

In this second Moonlight and Mystery author post, I’m supposed to share my favorite mystery novel with readers. But here’s my dilemma; I don’t really have an all time favorite. Usually when I read, it’s because I enjoy the writing of a certain author as opposed to the specific content of a story.

There’s another reason why this post is difficult for me; sometimes I have to be in a certain frame of mind to read the books written by some of my favorites. My life is very complicated, as the mom and caregiver of a severely autistic son, and I find as the years go by that more and more I look for books with only a happily ever after ending.

Which is all I seem to be able to write as well. Isn’t that silly? I hate cliffhangers, and I don’t enjoy leaving too much of a mystery for the reader to puzzle about when I finish a story.

Unless it involves a complicated plot involving something like human trafficking and capturing members of the ring, which of course is a struggle if the net is widespread.

I guess what I’ll do is share some of my favorite authors and tell you why I enjoy what they write. So many stories I read these days offer me no surprises and I can usually guess easily who a killer is.


Linda Howard is one of my all-time favorites because of the way she manages to interject humor in her romance suspense series. My favorite book from her has got to be OPEN SEASON. I have never laughed so hard and it’s a story about a serial killer!


Nora Roberts. What can I say? Nora is Nora. I’m not so much into her older stories as I am in her standalones, but she has a few fantasy series which I loved (under her own name), and it’s hard for me to recall the names of the ones I liked best, but at least half of what she’s written was worth reading and sometimes even reading again.


Tami Hoag I don’t read as much as Tami Hoag as I used to, because her stories tend to have conclusions that are a little up in the air. But if you want unique stories and lots of surprises, she’s a fantastic author.


I used to enjoy Nicolas Sparks too. As a matter of fact, I’ve had some reviewers compare what I write to his novels. But his writing is a little off track these days, apparently because he was recently divorced.

Romance suspense isn’t the only genre I love. I still enjoy reading regency romance. Mary Balogh and Grace Burrowes are two of my favorite authors, and occasionally I read books by Stephanie Laurens as well.

I have hundreds of books on shelves at home. John Grisham, David Baldacci among others I read occasionally.

But my tastes have changed through the years. I used to enjoy the typical romance, but so many plots and storylines have become repetitive. Even with new authors, I tend to see the same plots and storylines; they’re just told in a slightly different way.

I wish I had more time to read. I used to read about 15 novels per week (yes really!!) But since I’ve become an author, something strange has been happening—success!! So not only writing, but promoting, seems to have taken over my life.


Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

English Inspiration: Mary Stewart & Me

Mary Stewart

As a child I was a voracious reader—and have only slowed lately in order to keep my mind clear for my own murder mysteries (i.e., I can’t multitask). I read everything I could get my hands on—including some that were—in retrospect—inappropriate. Tom Jones and Brideshead Revisited went right over my head. Early favorites were the Oz books, Mary Poppins, and E. Nesbit’s tales of magical adventure. If a book was deemed a “classic” I’d go for it on the assumption that it wouldn’t be a classic if it weren’t good. Except for Dickens, to whom I’ve never cottoned, that rule usually held.

I particularly loved romantic suspense and mysteries, especially British ones—Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, and the novels of Mary Stewart (1916-2014). In fact, in my interview for college, I tried to pretend I only read heavy tomes on historical subjects, but somehow the subject of Mary Stewart came up and the professor and I had a marvelous conversation. I learned a lesson about human nature that day. Be honest: everyone else is pretty much in the same boat.

I checked Amazon for a list of Stewart’s books and realized I read all but the last five of her romantic suspense novels plus the Merlin trilogy! From her first, Madam, Will You Talk (1957) to Touch Not the Cat (1976), I devoured them. Mostly set in Europe (Stewart was English), they usually feature an unsuspecting heroine who lands in a puzzling mystery. Along with adventure, you’re assured of a fine romance as well. Some of you may remember the movie The Moonspinners, starring Hayley Mills.

Loch Awe in Scotland

Something else I discovered: Mary Stewart lived on Loch Awe in Scotland—a place I remember fondly. It is a picturesque small loch west of Loch Lomond. The Hotel Ardanaseig—a beautiful 19th century castle—sits on one bank. Its guest quarters are in the Rose Cottage up the lane. We stayed there on the last leg of a trip I took with my family. Imagine my delight to discover that one of Stewart’s mysteries I hadn’t read was entitled Rose

Rose Cottage

Cottage! I finished it yesterday.




Stewart’s books inspired my current approach to writing a story more than any others. Like her, my heroines are feisty, my heroes clever and non-gooey, my settings exotic, and my mysteries cozy.


Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

Well-loved books

Wow, my fellow Moonlight & Mystery authors have mentioned so many great books. (Note to self—switch my blogging date earlier so they leave me with something to blog about!) I’ll admit to having a bit of a time figuring out which of my favorite books to discuss. When this theme was first brought up, I figured I’d write about Nancy Drew or The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but they’ve already been covered. So I’m going to focus on the book that inspired my love of a particular trope.

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Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

A Storyteller Starts with Stories


About a third of the books I brought with me from my childhood home.

My first memories of kindergarten are sitting on the floor in a huge room that had windows across a wide expanse on one end, and on another, a fireplace surrounded by what I now know were tiles made by Pewabic Pottery in Detroit. The teacher was seated in the middle of a semi-circle of five year olds who were giving her rapt attention as she read the first book of the Box Car Children series. Later when I read the book to my own grandchildren, I was surprised at how gruesome the story is! The children overheard the baker’s wife saying she was going to keep some of the children to work and the others would go to the orphanage. No wonder we were so insecure growing up!  Read more “A Storyteller Starts with Stories”