Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Chatting with Patricia McAlexander, author of Shadows of Doubt

I'm thrilled to have Patricia McAlexander with me today. But first, let's learn more about her new book Shadows of Doubt.

Shadows of Doubt
Genre: thriller-romance
Author: Patricia McAlexander

Former grade school bully and, later, amateur drug dealer Jeff Hudson turns his life around and is pursuing a degree in agriculture. His future, as well as a budding relationship with fellow student Sandy Harris, is threatened when a former dealer threatens to expose Jeff's past to university authorities if he doesn't rejoin the ring.

Realizing that Jeff is no longer an angry, misunderstood boy, Sandy must take a stand against her family and friends who swear he is no good and will only cause her unhappiness. Together, can they escape the past in order to forge a future?

Get it today

Please help me welcome Patricia McAlexander.

How did you come up with the concept and/or characters for the book?

My characters are in part based on real people—including myself. Sandy, the protagonist of Shadows of Doubt, has some of my traits: I like photography and an alternate career for me would have been as a journalist. I based Jeff and his uncle at least in part on a family who owned an upstate New York dairy farm near my parents’ lake house—an intelligent, strong, practical father and his sons. And Sandy’s mother is partly based on my teacher mother, who turned for support to my sister and me when our father died—and who sometimes did not approve of our boyfriends.

Favorite genre and why?

One of my favorite genres or themes is romance. Why? Because love is something most of us need and hope for in our lives—look at the themes of songs, movies, literature. Also, romance can involve personal growth, something I’m interested in as a teacher. In my fiction, I portray individuals further developing their own values and identities as they discover love. But genres can be hybrids. Both Stranger in the Storm, my first published novel (actually a novella) and Shadows of Doubt combine romance with the thriller genre. There is also often romance in works of historical fiction, as in Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose or Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoi’s Dear Hamilton--to mention just two.

Tell us something about yourself and how you became an author.

I think being a writer was in my genes. My father, a teacher, let me type on his typewriter when I was five years old. He never got it back. My sister and I co-authored stories as children, and my high school and undergraduate college friends read stories that I wrote for fun. Then I went to graduate school, earned a PhD in English, and taught in college. I had no time to write fiction during those years, but when I retired, I wrote Stranger in the Storm. Not wanting to go through a possibly lengthy process of finding an agent, I went the small press route, submitting it to the Wild Rose Press. Editor Kaycee John thought it had potential and suggested I read James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing for Publication and revise. That book gave helpful advice that I took—and my next draft was accepted. I learned much about writing fiction during the editing process with Kaycee. So I guess all these stages are how I “became an author.”

Shadows of Doubt Excerpt

Sunday night in Bill’s sports car, Sandy found him intense. “I want you to stop going out with Jeff. I want us to be a couple.”

“He and I are a couple now.”

“Give me a chance. I’ve known you so long, and this summer I realized you’re the only girl I’ve ever felt anything for.”

“Surely you’ve been with girls at the University of North Carolina.”

“It wasn’t the same with any of the girls there. When I first saw you again after those four years away, I knew you were the one…the one I should marry. But I want to wait for marriage before…you know…sleeping together. That’s special to me. It’s the guys who don’t want to wait that you have to watch out for.”

“I don’t think that’s necessarily true.”

“So have you and Jeff…?” He did not finish his question, but she felt he knew the answer. He finally said, in a choked voice, “You’ve just met him. You don’t know anything about him.” He looked over at her. “You know it won’t last, don’t you?”

Sandy’s heart skipped a beat at that, but she made herself answer in a calm voice. “Right now, I just know he’s the one I want to be with.”

“Sandy—I need to tell you something about him.”

“I don’t want to hear it. You’d better take me home.”

Bill abruptly turned around in a parking lot he was passing and headed back toward her house. His expression was grim, almost angry. “I’d be better for you, Sandy. Your mother thinks so, too.”

Anger replaced her anxiety. “How do you know what my mother thinks? I hope you and she didn’t discuss this!”

“Just a little, last night before you came downstairs. She didn’t say much, but I could tell how she felt.” He pulled up in front of her house. “We both worry about you with Jeff. It’s not just that we think this won’t last…”

“Why else should you worry?”

Bill hesitated. “For one thing, he has a temper. He may physically hurt you. Remember how he was even as a kid.”

Her anger notched up higher. He was sounding just like her mother, expressing unfounded, outdated fears. “It was years ago that he got in those fights. He’s not like that now. I’m sorry, Bill, but I think it would be better if you and I don’t see each other for a while.” She got out of the car and slammed the door.

Bill started to pull away, then stopped, lowered the window, and called out to her. “Just remember, if you ever need me, I’ll be here.”

About the author:

Patricia McAlexander earned a bachelor's degree from The University of New York at Albany, a master's from Columbia University, and a doctorate from The University of Wisconsin, Madison, all in English. After moving with her husband to Athens, Georgia, she taught composition and literature at The University of Georgia. Now retired, she has edited local newsletters and enjoys hiking, travel, and photography. But most of all she enjoys writing novels. Her first thriller-romance, Stranger in the Storm, set in upstate New York, was released by Wild Rose in June 2020. Shadows of Doubt, set in Athens, Georgia, is her second.

Keep in touch

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Author chat & Giveaway: Natalie Rompella, author of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

Natalie Rompella is the author of over 60 books and materials for children. She's a member of SCBWI and enjoys visiting schools and libraries. (There's more about that on her website, links below.) Plus, she's giving away a copy of Cookie Cutters and Sled Runners to a lucky winner.

Please help me welcome Natalie. (And be sure to tell your friends about the giveaway!)

What research did you do before writing this book?

I traveled to Alaska! I had won a grant and used it to attend the start of the Iditarod. It was wonderful. I had the opportunity to ask mushers questions, observe racing dogs, and even ride in a sled.

My main character also bakes, so I had to try making the recipes I made up, including dog treats. My family (including my dog) didn’t complain.

What is your favorite genre and why?

I recently became interested in science fiction. I’ve always loved Ray Bradbury’s short stories (favorite: “A Sound of Thunder”) and just discovered Robert A. Heinlein (author of Stranger in a Strange Land). The Door Into Summer was written in 1957 and takes place in 1970. The protagonist pays to be put into a cryogenic sleep and wakes up in 2000. It is amazing what these sci fi authors predict accurately.

What do you do when you’re not writing? 

I have become obsessed with playing pickle ball. I find that I do need to do something active to start my day and get into the right (or write) head space to begin my day. Walking, running, or playing pickle ball have been my go-to’s.

Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners
Author: Natalie Rompella
Genre: middle grade


Ana Morgan is excited to begin middle school. She and her best friend Lily plan to create a cookbook for the school’s Explorations Fair, but when Ana is assigned a new partner, things quickly go sour. As Ana’s life gets out of control, so does her anxiety. Germs bother her and make her wash her hands. A lot. And then she begins her Explorations project with the new girl…on sled dog racing—something she’s never even heard of. But when life gives her lemons, can she make lavender lemonade?

Read it today!

About the author:

It all began with a cover of a National Geographic magazine in 1998 that got Natalie interested in insects and resulted in her attempting her first picture book. She has been writing ever since. And she’s gotten to do all sorts of fun stuff for research: test out cookie recipes, talk to cantaloupe farmers, interview an astronaut, go on insect hunts, and even travel to Alaska to see the start of the Iditarod.

Natalie Rompella is the author of more than sixty books and resources for children, including an insect picture book: The World Never Sleeps (Tilbury House) (a 2019 IL Reads selection); a #OwnVoices middle grade novel: Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners (Sky Pony Press); and her newest—a writing workbook: Secrets of Storytelling (Rockridge Press). She is a former elementary and middle school teacher, as well as a former museum educator and curriculum coordinator for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.

Natalie lives in the Chicago suburbs with her two kids, husband, and dog where she enjoys playing pickle ball, baking, and taking Zumba classes.

Find out more at www.natalierompella.com.

Keep in touch with Natalie

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani

Nidhi Chanani
Published by: First Second/Macmillan
Publication date: June 22nd 2021
Genres: Middle-Grade, Mystery, Time-Travel

Grab some coins for the jukebox, and get ready for a colorful, time-traveling, musical tale about family and courage

A mysterious jukebox, old vinyl records, and cryptic notes on music history, are Shaheen’s only clues to her father’s abrupt disappearance. She looks to her cousin, Tannaz, who seems just as perplexed, before they both turn to the jukebox which starts…glowing?

Suddenly, the girls are pulled from their era and transported to another time! Keyed to the music on the record, the jukebox sends them through decade after decade of music history, from political marches, to landmark concerts. But can they find Shaheen’s dad before the music stops? This time-bending magical mystery tour invites readers to take the ride of their lives for a coming-of-age adventure.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

Sneak Peek...

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Author Bio:

Nidhi Chanani was born in Kolkata, India and raised in California. She creates illustrations that capture love in everyday moments which are often featured at Disney Parks. In 2012 she was honored by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change. She’s the author of Pashmina, Shubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend, and illustrator of I Will Be Fierce. Nidhi draws and dreams in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and kid. everydayloveart.com

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

A Quick Chat with C. Becker author of Finding Euphoria

 Hi everyone!

Today I have C. Becker, author of Finding Euphoria. 


What research did you do before writing this book.  

I spent many hours researching acetylcholine and dopamine receptors in the brain when I wrote this novel. I researched not only the addiction aspect, but also how neurotransmitters are linked to OCD, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. Research brings new information every day, and scientists have found many new discoveries since I had gone to college. Although the research was time consuming, I enjoyed learning. I also studied how pharmaceuticals design drugs from different plants. I was surprised when I read some spices like nutmeg contain a drug called myristicin, which in higher doses will cause adverse effects on the sympathetic and central nervous system. Deciding it was best not to target a certain plant or spice, I made up a shrub from the Amazon Rainforest and had Euphoria refined from the plant. 

Another part of the research was Parkinson’s disease. My great-uncle had Parkinson’s and died in the 1970s. I feel this disease is often forgotten, so I created a character with Parkinson’s, too.


Can you tell us about a book that stayed with you long after you finished reading it. 

I read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett twenty years ago. Although he added a lot of graphic violence in the medieval story, it was believable because of the historical setting. I’ve never seen a book with so many subplots woven in a story. I later watched the mini-series and read one of the sequels. It still rates as one of the best books I’ve ever read. 

What is your favorite comfort food? 

Anything Chocolate

Any exciting news to share? 

Finding Euphoria is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Losing Euphoria, the second book in the Euphoria series is under contract with The Wild Rose Press. This story takes place 6 years after Finding Euphoria ends. I’m currently writing the third book in the Euphoria trilogy.

Finding Euphoria
Genre: Romantic Thriller
A spicy PG13 read


Hailey Langley refuses to be a victim and has moved on from her traumatic past. But her marriage problems worsen when a deadly illicit drug threatens to draw her into the life she left behind.

Mark Langley has allowed his job to interfere with his marriage, but he never suspected the secrets in Hailey’s past might hold the key to solving both of his current investigations.

Together, they must unravel the mystery of the drug called Euphoria and find a way to save not only their marriage, but countless lives, before it’s too late.

Buy links


They hurried to the wall and began sliding books across the shelf. One of the books would open the latch, but which one? She worked swiftly.

A whiff of his aftershave stirred her senses. It was an earthy scent. Their gazes met, but she broke it off. She tested another section of books across the shelf and felt him studying her. Her heart fluttered. Focus, Hailey. Why had he kissed her the previous night? She was a married woman. “We need to work fast. Security cameras are all over this place.”

A soft click sounded near Parker and she rushed over, following him through the doorway.

He turned on a light. “Hurry.”

The small chamber smelled like leather and cigars. A computer rested on top of a writing desk. Parker headed straight to the computer and turned it on. He began rifling through the files in the filing cabinet next to the desk. “It’s booting. Find what you can. We’ll only have a few minutes.”

Hailey hurried to the rear of the room and rummaged through a pile of letters spread across a cherry wood desk.

Parker turned back to the computer and typed on the keyboard. “I’m in!” He shoved a hand in his pants pocket and pulled out a jump drive.

“Already?” She glanced up. “How did you figure out the password?”

He inserted the jump drive in the computer. “I took a shot at Euphoria.”

She searched through a stack of files. A large desk calendar shifted, exposing a tan envelope. “This might be what we’re searching for.” She pulled a packet from the envelope. On the top corner of the cover page was the word EUPHORIA. The page below had an image of a chemical structure. “Bingo!”

“What did you find? Can you identify the drug?”

“Give me a minute.” Hailey flipped through the packet. “I need to study this.”

“There’s not much time.”

She opened her purse. “Stefan gave me a camera. I’ll take some photos of the…Oh, shit.”


“The camera’s missing!”

“What do you mean?”

“It must have fallen out while I was in line for the bathroom.”


“It’s okay. I’ll use my cell phone.” She took out her phone and pressed the button.

“Keep snapping.” Parker typed on the keypad. “The files are downloading.”

Quickly, she worked, turning page after page of the packet. Her phone beeped. A text message appeared on the screen: ABORT MISSION.

“Oh, no. Parker, we have to get out of here.”

“I need a couple more minutes.”

She tilted her head. Footsteps thudded down the hall. “Now! They’re coming.”

Dammit! Parker jerked the drive from the computer and shoved it in his pocket. He grabbed Hailey’s arm, and they darted from the room. With his free hand, he drew a semiautomatic from his pants.

“Hurry. They’re almost here,” she whispered.

They raced to the sitting room window. Parker climbed out the opening and stepped on the stone ledge. He offered a hand to Hailey. “Careful.”

She lifted the bottom of her dress and swung around. As she grabbed his hand, the cell phone dropped. “My phone!”

“Leave it. They’re coming!”

Ignoring him, she leaned over and stretched her fingers. The door swung open, and she raised her head. Two men bolted into the room. She left the phone on the floor and turned. A strong hand grabbed her arm and threw her on the floor. She kicked as a wet cloth pressed over her face. Gunshots blasted, and the darkness consumed her.

About the author:

A native of western Pennsylvania, C. Becker earned a B.S. degree in Medical Technology and MT (ASCP) certification. She has worked in clinical settings analyzing body fluids and testing drugs of abuse. As an author, C. Becker has published multiple stories in various genres.

Connect:  Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  
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Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Book Blitz: Two Kinds of Us by Sarah Sutton

Two Kinds of Us
Sarah Sutton
Publication date: June 9th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

In a life of diamond bracelets and country clubs, I’m the perfect daughter. I get all the right grades, volunteer at all the right organizations, apply to all the right colleges.

And I hate every second of it. At the rate my life is playing out, under the strict rule of my parents, politicians and housewives will be my future.

Until I meet Harry.

Harry’s a singer in a rock band with a voice so drop-dead sexy that I actually feel hypnotized. Doesn’t hurt that he’s hot either, and with the kind, flirty personality to match, it’s the perfect trifecta. And even better, he sees me as the me I want to be. The me who can break free of the life I’m trapped in, the me who can control my own future.

The only problem? He knows me as Stella, my fun, carefree alter-ego—so drastically different than Destelle, the one who is trapped in the life my parents rule for me.

But as we get closer, I realize Harry’s keeping a secret of his own, something related to his dark past that he’s trying to move on from, and when I find out, everything we’ve built could come crashing down.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


After twisting off the cap, I took a long refreshing drink of the icy water, a relief from the heat of the club.

And then moved once more.

Harry still leaned against the wall near a trash can, and I turned the bottle cap over between my fingers as I got closer, watching the crowd weave in and out between us. A girl with pink hair obscured him for a moment, and then a guy with a mohawk moved in my way next. I waited until my path cleared, until no one stood between him and me.

Margot would’ve called me devious.

Honestly, it kind of felt as if I were a super-spy on a stakeout.

Crap, that sounded creepy.

When I was six feet away, the bottle cap slipped from my fingertips.

It bounced away from me, knocking noiselessly against the ground. I lost it for a moment, the opaque lid blending in with the shadows, and then finally found where it came to rest. The momentum was better than I thought it’d be.

Fingers were already curling around it, and when I traced the arm up to find a face, Harry gazed back at me.

Gosh, even from here I could see their color. So freaking blue. Like the waters in the Caribbean or something. For a moment, it left me a bit dazzled, Destelle’s personality breaking through.

With an inward smile, I thought, Hook, line, sinker.

“Not sure how sanitary that is now,” I called over the music to him, stepping closer into his bubble of space. I kept my gaze laser-focused on the cap in his hand, shrugging on a shawl of nonchalance. “After rolling around on the floor, I mean. But thanks.”

“Yeah, probably shouldn’t put it back on your drink,” Harry agreed, and I looked to find his full lips curved into a half smile. His fingers brushed against my palm as he dropped the cap into it, and I curled my hand, pressing the plastic into my skin. “I recognize you.”

I jolted. “Uh, you do?”

“You come into Crushed Beanz,” he said. “You listen to us play.”

I hadn’t planned on him recognizing me. Great. Did he think I was some creepy fangirl? Then again, I had devised a plan to get his attention. Though, maybe he was the creepy one for recognizing me. We’d never spoken before, and yet he recognized my face? Maybe he was the creepy super-spy.

Either way, it was super flattering. He noticed me.

Author Bio:

Sarah Sutton is a YA Romance author, bringing you stories about teenagers falling in love (sometimes with magic)She spends her days dreaming up ideas with her two adorable puppies by her side being cheerleaders (and mega distractions).

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Ways to Build Suspense in Your Writing

Hi, everyone!

Today, I thought I'd share ten techniques sure to help you add intrigue and mystery to your writing. There are several tools writers use to create the suspense that pulls a reader into a story and makes them want to follow our protagonist on his or her journey. 

1. Get your characters in trouble! Be ruthless. Think of the worst thing that could happen to them and let them figure out a solution.

2. Let your character take the easy way out of a situation only to find that he's made matters worse, or that he just survived the calm before the storm.

3. Create a deadline: countdown to D-day!  

4. Allow the reader to know something the main character doesn't.  If the reader knows that there is a lion behind the door our beloved main character so desperately wants to open the reader will be holding his or her breath each time that character gets close to the door.

5. Do a slow reveal or include a familiar item that keeps showing up.

6. Build anxiety by using short clipped sentences. Introduce doubt or have a plan fall through.

7. Let your character get close to what she's been hoping for—maybe the first kiss with the totally hot guy—and then the moment slips away or all hell breaks loose.

8. Add intriguing chapter titles. 

9. End each chapter in a way that keeps the reader from inserting a bookmark.
10. Cut the action early, forcing the reader to worry about what's going to happen next.

The next time you're writing, give one or more of these techniques a try!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Chatting with Terry Korth Fischer, author of Gone Astray

Please help me welcome Terry Korth Ficsher to my blog today. She shared a little of what she has been working on and what's to come, plus she answered ten speed questions so we can get to know her.
Without further ado, let's hear from Terry!

Thanks for hosting me, Cherie. Things have been crazy and now that they are slowly returning to normal, I hope to do some face-to-face book signings. What an exciting opportunity—but a little bit scary. I’m polishing a second Detective Rory Naysmith mystery. With any luck, it will be finished this summer, and available… well, we’ll see.

Speed questions:

Morning or night? Morning

Coffee or tea? Rich-Dark-Coffee

eBook, paperback, or audiobook? Paperback

Plotter or Pantster? Drifting plotter

Favorite season? Summer

Dogs or cats? Kittens

Night on the town or cozy evening in? Cozy evening in, books, fire, wine.

Last book read? The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Stilettos or flipflops or sneakers? Flipflops

Cake, cookies, or pie? Rhubarb pie

Gone Astray
by Terry Korth Fischer
Genre: Mystery, Cozy Crime


A heart attack sends detective Rory Naysmith reeling. Too young to retire, he accepts a position in small-town Winterset, Nebraska. Handed an unsolved truck hijacking case, with the assistance of a rookie, Rory sets out to prove he is still able to go toe-to toe with younger men. When the body of a Vietnam veteran turns up, he dons his fedora and spit-shines his shoes. But before he can solve the murder, an older woman disappears, followed closely by a second hijacking. He doggedly works the cases, following a thread that ties the two crimes together. But can Rory find the mental and physical strength to up his game and bring the criminals to justice before disaster strikes.

Read it today!
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Goodreads  |  BookBub


“What’s the story?” Rory asked, shoving his hands deep in his pockets as they approached. If asked, he’d have said he did so in an attempt to appear nonaggressive, but in truth, it hid his excitement jitters.

Lloyd, a thin, angular man, said, “Happened this morning right at dawn. Jim and I were making a drive-by. Checking for vagrants or anything suspicious.”

“You saw something odd?”

“There was a citizen complaint about a prowler. It was pretty quiet last night. We took the call around four. You wouldn’t know, being a nine-to-fiver, but it breaks up the time and beats riding around in the car all shift trying to stay vigilant. Right off, we found this here construction trailer wide open. It took us a little longer to find the body.”

“You found him?”

“Yeah. We’re waiting for the coroner now. I called it in. They said we better have a detective take a look.” He gave Rory a suspicious glare and headed to the rear of the property.

Rory and Thacker followed. At the edge of the property, the wind had swept a pile of leaves against the wooden fence. The body lay partially buried. “You’ve photographed the scene?” asked Rory.

“Yeah, we know how to do it. Don’t worry, we done everything by the book.”

Rory knelt beside the body. The top half of the dead man’s torso was exposed where the wind had cleared away the fallen leaves. The man’s weathered face was unshaven and severely beaten. He recognized Vietnam War campaign patches on the worn army jacket and noted thin threads poking through the fabric where his name patch should have been. Using a pen, he lifted the front of the tattered jacket and revealed a gaping wound.

“Not a lot of blood here,” he said. “Did you move him?”

Lloyd’s expression conveyed irritation. “We know better.”

Rory shook his head. “There’s the basic problem with mankind. You tend to your business, work hard, but there’s always some fool right there ready to take it away. What do you think, mugging?”

Lloyd nodded, but Rory could see he didn’t buy it. This wasn’t a case of trespassing. From the look of things, it wasn’t an accident, a foiled robbery, or a mugging gone wrong. It was murder, and this wasn’t the place where it happened.

“Any witnesses? You talk to the complainant?”

Before Lloyd could respond, they were interrupted. “Yo, Lloyd, what ya find?” The newcomer was as wide as he was tall, his face alive with good humor. He carried a medical bag. Ducking under the police tape, he said, “You must be the new detective.” He stuck a hand out. “Petey Moss. County coroner.” Petey’s rotund belly moved up and down as he pumped Rory’s

hand, and the action pushed the scent of Aqua Velva into the atmosphere around them.

“I suppose you want to know if he’s dead?” Petey squatted beside the body, and Rory watched him conduct the exam. It didn’t take long to confirm the death. “Yup, as a cinder block. Not a good spot for a nap.”

Thacker wandered off. Rory stuck with the coroner while the body was removed and loaded for the journey to the morgue. He hated the time between discovery and the moment a case got turned over. He was itching to get started, but more, he hated the thought inexperienced law enforcement might contaminate the crime scene. He didn’t know Winterset, and he didn’t know this coroner. He wasn’t about to let someone mess up his opportunity, so he would keep a watchful eye.


About the author:

Terry Korth Fischer writes mystery and memoir. Her memoir, Omaha to Ogallala, was released in 2019. Her short stories have appeared in The Write Place at the Write Time, Spies & Heroes, and numerous anthologies. Transplanted from the Midwest, Terry lives in Houston with her husband and their two guard cats. She enjoys a good mystery, the heat and humidity, and long summer days. Visit her website at https://terrykorthfischer.com

Connect with Terry