The Last Storyteller is FREE to Celebrate Valentine’s 2018

A special Valentine’s treat for you. A FREE paranormal romance!

The first book in the Ravenscar Shifter series The Last Storyteller by Michelle Dutton (my pen name for romance) is FREE. The 60 page shapeshifter romance novella will be available free now till the day after Valentine’s Day, February 15, 2018, so grab it quick.

A squall is coming …

Miri abandoned her tribe of raven shapeshifters and the only man she’d loved when her sister betrayed her. Now, fifteen years later, she returns to meet the nephew Trey raised and to investigate Elise’s death. Had her sister flown into a squall to kill herself or had someone driven her to it? No longer the storyteller her people needs, she searches the story keepers’ treasures for answers before she must leave Trey again … until a storm threatens everyone she loves and everything she believed to be true.

The Last Storyteller is a second-chance romance and a sweet paranormal novella set in Central California.

Click  the title for the deal: The Last Storyteller.

If you like the book, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help the author and readers!

Happy reading!


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Memory of a Chilly Day in December

It will be 75 degrees here on this not so chilly 09 February 2018. I thought back to hiking in Prescott on 22 December 2017. Here’s a note I sent to friends that day.

The bird bath froze solid last night; it was about 15 degrees. It’s supposed to warm to 47. We walked the Pinnacle trail this morning with the two dogs. We passed a beautiful Australian Shepherd with his people and saw circles of petroglyphs. The picture above of Willow Lake and the dells was taken on the walk. My sister learned about the trail from a man walking his macaw.

The photo to the right shows a petroglyph.

The only sushi available in town is at Frys grocery store from a chef so authentic, he speaks no English. My brother and I shared two vegan rolls, an avocado roll especially made for us, and seaweed salad for lunch.

We stopped at the Tractor Supply Company for birdseed. I’ve never said those words before. The hummingbirds have disappeared for the winter, but the yard is filled with sparrows, doves, pigeons, and lots of goldfinches. A falcon visits randomly.

I sometimes look for the ghosts of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in the rocks or among the dells. Not seen them, but there’s always tomorrow.

Happy writing, walking, reading and eating.

Michelle Knowlden

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February 2018 First Friday Breakfast with Author Lisanne Harrington

On the first Friday of February 2018, we are having breakfast with author Lisanne Harrington.

Many years ago, Lisanne left the legal world behind forever to pander to her muse, a sarcastic little so-and-so. Only copious amounts of Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper and hamburgers will get him to fill her head with stories of serial killers, werewolves, and the things that live under your bed. 

She loves to watch reruns of Gilmore Girls, horror movies like Young Frankenstein and Fido, and true crime shows. She likes scary clowns, coffee with flavored creamer, and French fries. Lots and lots of French fries.

When not hanging with “The Girls,” she writes paranormal mysteries and murder mysteries. Check out her Wolf Creek Mysteries series (the third book, Moon Shadows, just out!), and be sure to look for her upcoming murder mystery, Murder in the Family, and newest paranormal story, Gravelings, both due out in 2018. Paperback and ebook editions.

For this bright winter breakfast, I’m having half a toasted sprouted sesame bagel with vegan cream cheese and figgy jam, a salad with arugula, papaya, banana, walnut pieces and peach balsamic vinegar and decaf cold brew coffee. Lisanne, what are you having?

My morning always starts with coffee. Simply cannot function without it! Heavy on the Italian Sweet Cream.

Then I like to eat a lightly-toasted cranberry orange bagel with cream cheese and drink a Chocolate Boost.

That’s about as healthy as I eat all day!

 So tell us about your writing process from concept to draft to revision.

Well, let’s see. Normally, I get my ideas while doing mundane chores, like washing dishes or folding laundry. The characters come to me for a chat. They talk to me, sometimes for months before they trust me enough to tell me their story.

And I can’t always count on the veracity of their story, either. I’ve found that many times, they fib or outright lie until they’re certain that I will believe them.

For example, with Moonspell, the first book in my Wolf Creek Mysteries Series, James and Beth took about four months to tell me what REALLY happened to them, and even after I started writing the first draft, the true identity of the werewolf was kept from me until I wrote the final scene.

They seemed to take great delight in leading me astray.

Talk about nerve-wracking!

After getting the first draft down, the characters usually go away. Occasionally, they pop up again to correct something, but not very often.

I then comb through the second and third drafts, looking for holes in the story and ways to correct them.

The fourth draft usually is for fleshing out scenes and checking for inconsistencies in character development.

In further drafts, I fine-tune my writing. Along about now, I read portions of the story to my writing group and deal with their comments.

Then, when I think it’s finally done, I send it to my beta reader and nervously chew my nails until she gets it back to me.

The next draft incorporates her comments, and more time is spent after that fine-tuning again.

I’m a little…shall we say, persnickety…in getting the final manuscript just the way I want it.

Tell us about THE WOLF CREEK MYSTERIES SERIES. Why did you decide to
write this particular one?

It really wasn’t up to me. It was James’s idea. He had so much to say.

Plus, I wanted to explore some areas of teen life that I was interested in. In Moon Watch, Book 2 of the series, I delve into things like inter-racial dating, bullying, being different, being invisible, being ostracized for making a mistake, sexting, many of the things that happened to me when I was that age. Was it any different now than it had been for me? Not really.

I struggled a bit with the third book, Moon Shadows. James wasn’t very forthcoming about that one. I actually had a different story in mind, had even written over 30,000 words on it, but I realized it just wasn’t working and ended up scrapping everything.

So frustrating! And worrisome, since I was now contractually obligated to write the second and third books. With Moonspell, the only pressure I had was whatever I put on myself, but now, there was the additional burden of knowing I HAD to produce something.

But I’m pleased with the results. Moonspell will always hold a special place in my heart, being the first book I published. But I have to admit I like James, Beth, and their other stories an awful lot.

More coffee with Italian Sweet Cream, Lisanne? What did you find fun/intriguing about writing THE WOLF CREEK MYSTERIES and
what was difficult?

I love the way stories come to me. Living with my characters for as long as I do before I even put pen to paper (so to speak ☺) is a lot of fun. I get to know them and they feel like real people by the time I actually begin to tell their stories. Most of the time, it’s like I’m simply transcribing what they tell me. I rarely have writer’s block (Moon Shadows was the rare exception), and I think it’s because of the pre-writing I do.

My family calls it “going to Mommieland” because my eyes tend to glaze over and it takes calling my name several times before they can get my attention!

I struggle a bit with self-confidence, as many writers do, and so for me, the most difficult part of writing anything is letting it go. Deciding what I’ve written is good enough. That’s probably why I go through so many drafts. I want everything to be perfect, so the reader enjoys it and never, EVER feels cheated.

Tell us about your next project and when it may be published.

I’ve actually got two manuscripts sitting with the publisher. The next one to be published (not sure of a date, but probably late summer or early fall) will be a straight murder mystery. No paranormal beings here!

It’s called Murder in the Family. The star of the show is Orange County Deputy Sheriff Dana S. Sinclair, who longs for two things: more action on the job so she can earn a promotion like her father before her, and a better relationship with her estranged mother. When her partner is killed, she wonders how she’ll get along without him. But when her own mother is murdered shortly thereafter and it appears that her dead father has come back from the grave to do it, she does everything she can to uncover the truth. As Dana investigates the murder, she uncovers a plethora of suspects, strange warnings, bizarre happenings that seem designed to drive her crazy, and the truth about her dead father.

The next one goes back to my paranormal roots. Gravelings is the story of what happens when a disturbed little girl encounters strange creatures living in the basement. Of course, the adults around her don’t believe her. She is, after all, on medication for hearing voices and other mental health issues. But as the gravelings get more and more aggressive and violent, they begin to wonder if the creatures are real.

And if the gravelings are going to kill them.

My zombie story, “That Twin Thing” is included in an amazing anthology called Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem, by the OC Fictionaires. Be sure to check it out!

I’m currently working on a killer clown story…

Great talking with you, Lisanne!

That was fun!

Dear reader, I hope you check out THE WOLF CREEK MYSTERIES.  Let me pour us another virtual coffee with Italian Sweet Cream before you rush off to Amazon to buy Moon ShadowsI did! 

Follow Lisanne Harrington at:


Book Trailers
MOON SHADOWS is in production.

Amazon links:


Moon Watch

Moon Shadows


Twitter: @LisaneHarington

Happy reading!

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A Super Deal on the Murder, Mystery and Mayhem Anthology

This just in! The anthology is free for a very limited time. Grab it quick.

My own short story, Last of the Skipjack, is a typical day in the life of an engineer—if she were the type to consider mass murder mere collateral damage to winning a submarine program for NASA.

Murder, Mystery & Mayhem is available for e-readers and in paperback. It makes an excellent Chinese New Year’s gift. Check it out for yourself and your favorite mystery, thriller and suspense reader family and friends.

If you like the anthology, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help the authors and readers.

Happy reading!


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January 2018 First Friday Breakfast with Author Cary Christopher

On the first Friday of January 2018, we are having breakfast with author Cary Christopher.

Cary Christopher took the extremely long route to writing his first novel. Born and raised in small towns all over Florida, he grew up around the circus/sideshow of the tourist traps that dotted the state in the 1970’s. Places like Gatorland, Silver Springs, McKee Jungle Gardens, and of course, Disney World, captured his imagination with their promise of the surreal and fantastic but they always fell apart upon closer inspection. After high school, Cary spent the next decade traveling the world, first as a journalist and broadcaster for the U.S. Navy and later on his own. He began writing short fiction while living in Iwakuni, Japan in the late 1980’s and transitioned from that into songwriting after moving to Los Angeles in 1993. Even after years of writing and dozens of ideas and outlines, Cary actively and purposely avoided writing a novel. Instead he dropped out of the music scene and spent another ten years writing about pop culture and (of all things) scuba diving. He continued to write short fiction, mostly focusing on the supernatural and horror genres. Among his short fiction, “The Postmortem,” appears in Murder, Mystery, & Mayhem.

THE WASH, his first novel, was published October 2017.

For this cool winter breakfast, I’m having porridge with blueberries, pecans, and banana, and hot green tea. Cary, what are you having?

Well, you eat WAY healthier than I do, so I apologize if what I’m about to say grosses you out. Even though I live in California, I’m still a southern boy at heart. My breakfast is pretty simple. Cheese grits and black coffee. As with all scrumptious southern cooking, the trick is to take something inherently healthy and make it as bad for you as humanly possible. In most cases that means a ton of butter, but for my grits the culprit is cheese and the unit of measure is color, not cups. Basically, I add sharp cheddar to the grits until they become the color of a tangerine. Then I add just a little salt, and enough cayenne pepper to wake a dead body up.

Interesting side note, eating grits is one of the best ways to learn the fine art of patience. It’s my experience that grits hold in heat better than any substance known to man. They’re kind of like the crust around the magma pool of an active volcano. Just when you think it’s safe, you poke a hole through the top and a million degrees of heat smacks you in the mouth. My point is, I’ll be pausing to blow on my food a lot during this interview. I’m not intentionally blowing in your ear. Please don’t take it the wrong way.

Checking my cholesterol. Yep, it’s up fifty points just reading about cheesy grits.  So tell us about your writing process from concept to draft to revision.

I’m a pantser at heart and a plotter only by necessity.  Generally, when I get an idea I just start writing until I reach a place where the scope of the story becomes apparent.  At that point, I’ll do a very vague outline.  When I say vague, I mean I’m really only drafting out a conclusion and marking down a few checkpoints I need to tick on my way there.   Then, I keep writing until I get to my third act. Only at that point, do I plot out the rest.  This allows me to tie up loose strings.  To be honest, it’s not a very efficient way to write but I’ve found it’s the only way to trick my brain into finishing that first draft.  If I plot any more than that, I lose interest and won’t finish.

However, I absolutely love the revision process. In my opinion, revision is where the art of long form writing lives. I like to think of it like sculpture. You start with a block of stone and you chip away until the basic shape comes into view. That’s the first draft and sure, it looks like 85,000 words but it’s really only the rough shape of a book. Figuring out the pieces to cut, finding the veins of gold you missed and still need to explore, fine tuning the plot so it hums along like it should; those have become my favorite parts of the writing process.

Tell us about THE WASH. Why did you fight writing novel length stories?

The Wash is a supernatural horror novel about a small town in rural Utah that becomes ground zero for the unraveling of reality. I wrote a long post about some of its origins on my blog (, but the short version is that I’d been reading a ton of books on mythology from different cultures and particularly parallel mythologies (stories from different cultures that are similar). I sat down one Saturday to write what I thought was going to be another short story pulling from some of those myths. Ten thousand words later, I realized I was writing the middle part of a book and I immediately stopped cold.

For most of my life, I’ve been almost addicted to writing in the short form. I would write one or two articles a week and they’d be in print or online within days. Right away I could interact with my audience for better or worse. Back in the 1990’s, when I was playing music onstage regularly, the part I enjoyed the most was the instant feedback. Love it or hate it, an audience was going to let you know what they thought and it’s that interaction that I’ve always craved. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t looking for adoration. I was looking for a conversation and short fiction or feature articles (especially published online) allowed me the opportunity to engage in that. So the idea of sitting down to create something that was going to take me forever to write and then ages for people to read wasn’t so much daunting, as it was unappealing.

More black coffee, Cary? What made THE WASH different?

Honestly, a lot of it had to do with where I stopped writing. I’d stranded a character next to a dead body on the side of a road at night in the freezing cold. I couldn’t just leave him there. I had to figure out what happened to him. So I decided to compromise and started continuing the story one day each week, usually locking myself in my office on Sundays to work solely on The Wash. After a year of this, I realized at that pace I’d be 70 before I finished writing it. It was my wife who actually told me to suck it up and finish. Three weeks later, I was through the first draft.

And was it rewarding?

Yes, but in a different way. As I mentioned above, I’m a big fan of the revision process now and that discovery has been the rewarding part for me. Currently, I’m going back to pick up some of the twenty or so novel sketches I’ve done over the years. My new “addiction” (to continue the theme), is in getting those completed.

What was the most difficult thing about writing THE WASH?

Getting the “creep factor” correct, or at least as close to correct as I could. I am a lifelong lover of horror novels and movies.  My favorites are ones that develop an atmosphere of dread as opposed to spilling a ton of blood, so my goal was to make the reader uneasy as much as I could but never gross them out. Unfortunately, my tolerance is incredibly high for this stuff, so what I think is slightly gory is something other people may find over the top or disgusting.

In the revision process I wrestled with a few scenes that I felt went too far and in one case I left out a chapter that I still feel could have been one of the best parts of the book. I just felt it tipped the scales too much and there really would have been no way to write it effectively without some graphic bloodshed. While I still believe the book is probably better without it, I kick myself for not having followed that particular thread a little further.

Tell us about your next project and when it may be published.

Well, as I mentioned above, I actually have a lot in the pipeline. I’ve set an ambitious goal for 2018. By summer, I hope to release my first Resurrection Phil novel, The Spook Bridge. That’s in revision now. It’s a supernatural mystery that has a lot more humor than The Wash. I also have another novel tentatively titled American Ghost Story that I hope will be ready to release by the end of the year. In between, I may release a few short fiction pieces but I’m really trying to maintain my focus on getting these novels out.

Great talking with you, Cary!

Thanks for asking me to be a part of this, Michelle. It’s been a lot of fun! Hey! My grits are probably okay to eat now. Damn! Burned my tongue.

Uh huh. 

Dear reader, I hope you check out THE WASH.  Let me pour us another virtual black coffee (he likes his coffee bitter like his women) before you rush off to Amazon to buy THE WASHI did! As did a bunch of my friends.

Follow Cary Christopher at:

Amazon Author Page:

Twitter: @misfitcaryc

Happy reading!

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End of 2017 Reads

December is my month to be overwhelmed with the holidays, and I’m on schedule with that. I’m working on one book submission (due this coming week) and two book proposals (due in January). Oh my.

December is also my time to relax with a good book or fourteen. It was a busy year so I’m driving through a teetering pile of phenomenal books like a bulldozer. So let’s talk about great reads and how I’m reading them! Full disclosure: I’m in the first third of most of them, so my opinion may change.


Lost in Whispers by Mary Castillo (ebook). Ghosts! This is the third book in her Dori O mystery series. I love how the author  weaves character and story into an addictive ride. I can’t put them down. I finished Charlaine Harris’s Midnight Crossing series (audio books) at the beginning of December so that counts as a December read. Quite the collection of witches, were-beasts, psychics, vampires, angels and demons. This author doesn’t disappoint. I’m sorry the journey is over and am looking forward to seeing the tv series. I put Cary Christopher’s The Wash (ebook) in this category. I’m reading it at night, but if it gets any creepier, I’m switching to only reading it during the daytime and while surrounded by a crowd. He is a master storyteller with characters I love. Set in Salt Lake City.


The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford (ebook and audio book). I loved the latest Murder on the Orient Express movie. I’ve been gushing about this book for the past week. I’m definitely on this train. The Testament by John Grisham (audio book) is a longish book but satisfies my wanderlust for the scenes in Brazil and love of legal thrillers for the shenanagins in the United States. Mermaid by Jodi Picoult (ebook). Most would consider this overpriced for a short story, but it is a Jodi Picoult and I spent the Thanksgiving weekend Saturday at Dana Point’s Ocean Institute dissecting squid and petting sand sharks. This short story has a marine biology bent and is riveting. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (audio book). Kwan wrote a NaNoWriMo pep talk. Out of curiosity, I checked out his book and was immediately engaged. Twenty-somethings in the mid 1980s in Hong Kong. Another world for me, and I’m mesmerized.


Artemis by Andy Weir (audio book). After The Martian, I doubted Weir could equal anything that incredible. This is the book I listen to while walking. I’ve a broken toe and a gimpy leg and still walking just so that I can listen to another chapter. He definitely can repeat incredible.

Speaking of addictive, author Megan Haskell recommended Margaret Rogerson’s An Enchantment of Ravens (hardcover). Not since Maggie Stievater’s Lament novels have I seen the fae world addressed so, dare I say, realistically. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean. This book has texture. Rhondi Vilott’s Draco’s Revenge (ebook) is a super escape epic fantasy of the sword and sorcery sort. Role game enthusiasts will appreciate the book on another level, but I like it for the lovely descriptions, the undersea scenes, and the second person POV. I wanted to see if that point of view could be executed successfully. I bought The Gargoyle King also in the Dragon Road series because Draco was that good and because, you know, gargoyles.


Gone are the days when I’d re-read Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol and call my holiday inoculation of fiction done. Lots of good reads out there to snuggle near a fire and sigh over. Baby Blue Christmas by Kristy Tate (ebook) is a feel good holiday story complete with snow, a baby, a puppy, and romance. A Warm December by Jacqueline Diamond (ebook) is another happily ever after and an endearing and satisfying romance that also includes a veterinarian. I must like my Christmas cheer with dogs!

Fairytale Christmas by Merrie Destefano (ebook). I couldn’t resist an Irish Fair Folk story by the lyrical author Merrie Destefano. The cover is eye candy and it is a novella if you prefer your holiday reads short.

Some of these books are only 99 cents or offered on Kindle Unlimited. Note: all links are to the book’s Amazon ebook page.

That was fun! I hope to do this quarterly in 2018.

Please share what you’re reading! I’m making my list for 2018.

Happy surveying, Michelle

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A Patchwork of Words and NaNoWriMo 2017

Last night at about 9:45, I wrote my last words in my NaNoWriMo manuscript and submitted it for validation. Woohoo. My winner’s badge is to your left.

Instead of focusing on the third book in the Deluded Detective series, I created a patchwork of words. My pre-NaNoWriMo preparation centered on this question: Am I a starter or a finisher? I know I’ve proof that I’m both but honestly, I’ve always loved the front end of the business whether it’s writing or engineering. I let a friend decide that I should start another Deluded Detective book (called DD03 herein). This is how I finished with a patchwork manuscript.

I figured DD03 would be a 30k novella. My Tunisian romance only needed about 10k words to complete it. I had the brilliant idea to do both. First I needed to review the first 20k in the novella, which would take time but also have the benefit of edits. So I decided I could count the revision as NaNoWriMo words, but weighted less. So 20K revised words were 5k.

Then I did three more revisions in The Last Storyteller before its November release. I figured those should be worth 75% new words and calculated that accordingly.

I did another pass of The Foreign Story Collector novel that I’ll submit it to a publisher next week. I applied the 25% rule.

Then I wrote new words in the Tunisian paranormal. Not 10k, but I completed 1700 words in Chapter Eight.

I have a book proposal that I’m submitting first week of January. So I wrote 3780 new words in the book description, in the first chapter, and in the synopsis.

Finally, in DD03, I wrote 7593 new words.

I am immensely pleased with my starting and finishing accomplishments in November. I have 7500 words started in the third Deluded Detective Book, and I’m halfway through the first draft of the proposal due in January. I am a chapter closer to finishing the Tunisian novella, I did finish the last revision of FSC for submission next week, and after three more revisions of The Last Storyteller, I published it 20 November.

And that’s what writing and NaNoWriMo are all about!

Happy writing!


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