And this one really IS by Jackie Zortman

Having lost interest when writing the third book in my Detective Max Richards series, I found it difficult to concentrate.  Then an author friend of mine with seventy-seven books on the market suggested I simply change my focus. He suggested doing a series of three novellas as Kindles, eventually putting all three into one paperback. I loved the idea.

Jake instantly popped into my mind as the name of my protagonist. I knew he was going to be a physical specimen that made women drool, a firefighter who rode a Harley, and there would be a wildfire. That was it. My author friend told me to jump on that Harley and ride because this book was already in my subconscious. And that’s what I did. I enjoyed writing JAKE-Whiskey, Water & Wildfire more than any of my other fictional books.


Jake is a woman’s wildest dream and a Hotshot Firefighter with a Harley. He is single and intends to remain so. He rides for miles in all conditions until some town mentally flags him down. He rides into Kimble, Colorado wanting only cold ice water, and food for his rumbling gut. But inside a café, he finds something he isn’t looking for, and Tomi makes him break all the hard and fast rules he so faithfully lives by.

When a wildfire ignites, Jake is the only one on scene prepared to fight it. It’s what he loves to do and is trained for.

What makes Jake feel Kimble, CO is where he’s meant to be? Why does Miss Berta adopt him as her pseudo-son and why is he so drawn to her as his mother figure? Are the answers simmering inside the fire or is it something else? The ending will surprise you.


Author’s Bio:

Jackie has been writing short stories and articles for twenty-six years. She is the author of non-fiction We Are Different Now-A Grandmother’s Journey With Grief, award winning fiction novels Footprints in the Frost (Det. Max Richards Book 1), Snow Angel (Det. Max Richards Book 2) & JAKE-Whiskey, Water & Wildfire (a novella). She has contributed to the anthologies American Blue, Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides, Recipes by the Book-Oak Tree Authors Cook and The Centennial Book of the National Society of Daughters of the Union. She also writes poetry, history and genealogy.

She is a Charter Member of The Public Safety Writers Association and a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She has won ten writing awards.

She lives in a beautiful tourist town in the southwestern mountains of Colorado with her husband and Siamese cat. When snow covers the terrain outside her home, it’s the perfect spot in which to write.

Learn more about Jackie on her blog at:


Ah Sweet Mystery by Betty Webb


Writing is hard. Marketing is even harder – especially when the rigors of marketing force you to look deep inside to find out the reason you write. Why? Because in your marketing pieces, readers (and bookstores and libraries) want to know what drives you to write such dark, puzzling books. You’ve already written the books themselves; now the marketplace wants you to fess up.

While going back over my blogs and Facebook posts for the past year, I discovered a trend: while seemingly appearing open, I keep evading the very reason I created Lena Jones, my orphaned protagonist in the “Desert” books. Yes, Lena came to me in a dream – as I’ve told everyone — but in our dreams we seldom create what wasn’t already there. For instance, during my childhood I was constantly shifted around from family to family, until I got to the point where I didn’t know who I was or where I belonged in the world.

Just like Lena.

And – this will come as a surprise to people who know me as the independent woman I now am – because I felt like such an outsider, I did what a lot of “outsider-feeling” people do: I joined a cult.

I’m not going to name the cult because it isn’t very well known in the first place, and it didn’t turn out to be one of those cults where people wind up dead (as they do in Desert Redemption and other Lena Jones mysteries). It was just a cult that wanted to take over every facet of my life. The cult told me who I could have a relationship with, and who I couldn’t. It told me what I could do with my bankbook, and what I couldn’t. It told me what I could eat, and what I couldn’t. It told me how to exercise, and how often. Why did I allow this? Because when I followed the cult’s rules, for the first time in my lonely life I felt like I belonged.

I didn’t stay in that cult very long, and I left for a fairly humorous reason: the cult’s rulers (there were two of them, a man and a woman) were pressuring me to “date” someone I found repulsive.

In the great scheme of things, that was rather a low-level reason for my declaration of independence, but there you are. It was my reason. In a way, that cult was responsible for an important step in my growth as a human being. I’d always wanted to feel like I belonged, and I’d found a place where I could do that. But then – ah, the law of Unintentional Consequences – I discovered that “belonging” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Every one of the ten Lena Jones books touch on the interpersonal dynamics of cults, and each of them look at one particular aspect of the life: the desire to be loved, the desire to belong, the desire to let others relieve of us of burden of thinking for ourselves. Growing up is hard, which is why some people – including myself – keep putting it off. But it has to be done.

It especially has to be done when you strike out to write a series of books that, regardless of their fictional plots, share a piece of your own life story. And it especially has to be done when the creative part is finished, and it’s time to start marketing. It’s time to stop making up the stories and to start telling the truth.

And my truth is that I’m a lot more like Lena Jones than even my closest friends suspect.


To learn more about the Lena Jones “Desert” books, visit


So far, the older I get, the wordier I get by Ken Kuhlken

Most of my books are shortish around 60 to 70 thousand words. But last year, after I discovered that three of them are one continuous story, I collected themMidheaven, The Very Least, and The Answer to Everythinginto an ebook I call Hickey and McGee.  And now I am revising, for maybe the final time, a single story of around 170 thousand words.


Here’s one reason this new one, For America, is so long:


My career as a novelist began with Midheaven, considered “literary” and honored as a runner up for the PEN Ernest Hemingway Award. As the earnings didn’t match the honors, friends suggested I try a mystery. I did so and won the St. Martins Private Eye Writers best first novel competition, which led to a ten book mystery series.

Recently I discovered a statement by Fredrick Buechner concerning his favorite novel and mine, Dostoyevski’s The Brother’s Karamazov. Mr. Buechner suggests the story’s magic may have arrived because Dostoyevsky left room to include whatever came up.


Early in my writing life, I learned, in school and in the mystery community, an attitude here expressed by Flannery O’Connor: “If the writer’s attention is on producing a work of art, he is going to take great pains to control every excess, everything that does not contribute to the work’s central meaning and design.”


As a follower of and advocate for that attitude, I found Buechner’s implied suggestion, that we might consider leaving room for excess, both problematic and immensely refreshing.


Since I am keenly aware of the wastelands to which leaving room for excess can lead, I imagined inviting Mr. Buechner and Ms. O’Connor to discuss the issue:


Buechner presents O’Connor with his assessment of The Brothers Karamazov. She points out that what applied to Dostoyevski doesn’t necessarily apply to us all. He replies (as he expressed in an article), “Still, writers ought to exercise their freedom from restraint to the outermost limits of their gifts and skills.”


And while she considers his amendment, I humbly suggest that a crucial part of our task as artists is to recognize our limits and apply them.


To my profound relief, both masterful writers nod in agreement.


Returning to For America after years of writing stories that taught me to recognize my abilities and limits, I have granted myself more liberty than ever before, which is one reason the novel requires all its 170,000 words.


Also, it’s a big story.


Set in the aftermath of WW II, For America dramatically explores the failure of traditional beliefs and political systems and the rise and fall of counter cultures. Poetry, folk music, hippie communes, Jesus freaks, the Manson family, the People’s Temple, and New Age cults all find their place in the story.


Otis, the narrator, born the day the atom bomb destroys Hiroshima, becomes a star pitcher. But wicked conflicts visit in the person of Cynthia, mother of Casey, Otis’s best friend and catcher. Paranoid yet possibly prophetic, Cynthia believes that the adopted son of her powerful sister, will use his prodigious scientific mind and occult knowledge to abet the downfall of western civilization.


From there, the story requires lots of pages to show how Cynthia’s outrageous vision and wild dedication shapes the lives of the principal characters for decades and perhaps alters the fate of the world.


For some fun background on real people and events that inspired this epic story, here are a couple links: On My Own at Sixteen, I Quit, Love Clifford


Some of Ken’s favorites are early mornings, the desert in spring, kind and honest people, baseball and other sports played by those who don’t take themselves too seriously, most kids, and films he and his Zoe can enjoy together.

He reads classic novels, philosophy, theology, and all sorts of mysteries. On his blog, he offers some hard truths and encouragement about living as a writer.

He has long been the author of novels, stories, articles, poems, and essays. Lots of honors have come his way, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; Poets, Essayists and Novelist’s Ernest Hemingway Award; Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel and Shamus Best Novel; and several San Diego and Los Angeles Book Awards.

Though he advocates beer in a video, he actually prefers Scotch.

Shameless Self Promotion by Thomas Kies

I attended a local writers’ network luncheon a few months ago and listened to a guest speaker who talked about her books and her writing process.  Her genre is paranormal romance.  Not my cup of tea, but I found her to be thoughtful, interesting, well informed, and entertaining.  All in all, a pretty good way to spend an afternoon.

One of the questions she fielded was, “When you dreamed of being a writer, now that you’re published, is there a reality that’s different from what you thought it would be?”

She answered, “The marketing of my books.  It’s much harder than I had imagined.”

Baby, ain’t that the truth.

Back when I was struggling to find an agent (much less a publisher), I had a fantasy that I’d fly somewhere (first class, of course), be met by a stretch limousine, drink champagne on the way to a book signing, autograph books until my arm hurt, then head over to the local television station for an interview.  The day would end with a steak dinner, glass of scotch, and a suite at an expensive hotel.


I’m very lucky that my publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, gets my books into the hands of the people who review novels on a national (and international) level:  Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, Bookreporter, Booklist, etc.  That’s a big deal and very helpful.

They also have a publicist who kickstarts the book launch with interviews in magazines and on websites that specialize in mysteries and writing.  I’m deeply grateful.

But then the heavy lifting is left to the writer.  This entails contacting your local radio station, pitching yourself and your books to the regional newspapers, and hitting your social media platforms like there’s no tomorrow.  

It’s up to the writer to reach out to bookstores to schedule signings.  And those can be humbling.  If you’re in a market where you’re not well known, you’re apt to be sitting at a table by yourself where people are shopping and avoiding eye contact at all costs.   Luckily, I’m gregarious by nature and not adverse to saying, “Hi, do you like a good mystery?”

Who doesn’t like a good mystery?

It’s helpful to reach out to local writers’ groups to give talks and workshops. I gave a workshop called Good Guys, Bad Guys and Plot Twists at the NC Writers Network conference last year.  When I was in St. Petersburg for Bouchercon, I ran into another writer who told me how much he enjoyed that workshop.

Oh, and don’t forget writers’ conferences.  I was asked to sit on two panels at a conference in Phoenix and one at Bouchercon.  I was also lucky enough to attend the annual Librarians Conference, PLA Philadelphia last March.  In addition to signing books at the conference, my distributor, Ingram, threw a party for about two hundred people in the Pyramid Club, fifty-one floors above downtown Philly, with all the food you could eat, an open bar, and a live band.  I was one of two authors signing books that night.  We ran out of books. I felt like a rock star.

It beat the heck out of being at a book signing where only one person shows up.

All the hard work pays off.  I’ve been accepted as a guest speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book on March 23.  Then the following Monday, I’ll be signing books at the Winchester Book Gallery in Winchester, Virginia.

The point of this blog?  It takes shameless self-promotion.  If you have a difficult time talking about yourself or your books, you better get over it.  I met some of the biggest names in mystery writing over the last couple of years, and they’re still out doing panels at conferences, doing signings, speaking at book events, doing interviews.

Granted, they’re doing it on a much larger scale.

But even if you have one person show up and tell you how much they enjoyed your last book, there’s no feeling like it.


Author of the Geneva Chase Mystery Series, Thomas Kies lives and writes on a barrier island on the coast of North Carolina with his wife, Cindy, and Lilly, their shih-tzu. He has had a long career working for newspapers and magazines, primarily in New England and New York.  His next book, Graveyard Bay, is scheduled to come out in July 2019.  He is currently working on Trauma House.

“Multiple murders and shocking twists are key components in Geneva’s ultimate uncovering of the truth. The flawed but dedicated heroine anchors Kies’ second mystery with a compassion that compels readers to root for both justice and redemption.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Kies’s debut mystery introduces a reporter with a compelling voice, a damaged woman who recounts her own bittersweet story as she hunts down clues. This suspenseful story will appeal to readers who enjoy hard-nosed investigative reporters such as Brad Parks’s Carter Ross.” (Library Journal starred review of Random Road)

“Journalist Geneva Chase, the flawed narrator of Kies’s entertaining sequel to 2017’s Random Road, once did stints at the nation’s top news organizations, but has worked her way down the career ladder to the point where she’s now an editor and crime reporter at the local paper in Sheffield, Conn., her hometown. The crime beat pulls her into two stories that at first seem straightforward but turn out to be quite complex. One of them involves the murder of a low-level thug by his abused wife; the other focuses on the disappearance of beautiful 15-year-old aspiring actress Bobbi Jarvis. The connection between the two stories keeps the plot humming. Chase’s life is further complicated by being the legal guardian of 15-year-old Caroline Bell (Bobbi’s best friend), by the potential loss of her job if her newspaper is sold, and by the struggle to control her drinking. Kies neatly balances breathless action with Chase’s introspection and sleuthing savvy.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The plot begins when Caroline’s classmate disappears, and as Geneva covers the search for her, she comes across links to the toasted husband. There’s a solid thriller here – the key is sex trafficking – but the real pleasure is watching Geneva work. Cheer her on as she wrestles with that vodka bottle and trembles with fear as she confronts the monster behind the child-slavery ring. She’s also pretty good at standing up to a newspaper publisher about to screw the help into the ground.” (Don Crinklaw Booklist)

Recognize Scams Inundating the Planet Helen Dunn Frame

Just when you believe that you have heard of them all, more ways of committing fraud are appearing in Costa Rica where I reside and elsewhere in the world. For a few years, most of us have been aware of bank swindles, which occur when a man calls and says he is from your bank. Other than calling to thank you for “Christmas baked treats” if you gifted the staff, banks usually send a message to clients on their cells, asking them to call the bank. If you do not trust calling per a message, it is worth a trip to a branch. Basic recommendation: Do not give any personal financial information in an email or over the phone unless you have initiated the contact using a known number or address. Verify the email is legitimate by contacting the sender in a separate email if you have any doubt. Also, beware of attachments; use caution before opening them unless you are sure they are legitimate.

Another fraud perpetrated on people involves those selling personal items online at sites like E-Bay. The alleged buyer declines to meet to view the item but requests a bank account number allegedly to post a payment. Instead of paying for the item, the thief removes funds. Beware if a person asks for a bank account number on the phone without seeing an item you have for sale; do not do business with him or her.

Lately, especially in the United States, gift cards are a current method for swindling funds. For example, a grandmother in her mid-seventies received a call from a man identifying himself as her grandson. He asked her for help with his college tuition. The man warned her not to answer any questions from the salespeople when she bought $4,000 worth of cards. Thieves prefer the cards to a bank transfer or other means of payment that a bank or legal authority could intercept. To read more about gift card fraud, click here:

If you receive an email from a person or company asking you to call a certain number, do not.  Call the organization’s number that you know and ascertain it is a legitimate request.

More recently, Q Costa Rica, an online publication, ran a post about a scheme that involves “facturas electrónicas,” or electronic vouchers. The Ministerio de Hacienda (like the IRS) instigated this voucher system to catch tax evaders. Read about scam using the system here:

The Ministerio de Hacienda currently has a warning banner on its legitimate website about a possible fraud that has become a means of emptying taxpayers’ bank accounts. From the methodology used when perpetuating the scheme, which also involved creating remotely a “factura electrónica,” it makes sense that the thief has worked for, or illegally accessed Hacienda client files. A native friend, when informed of a Hacienda fraud scheme, explained that he too received a call from a person saying he was with the Hacienda who asked him about his tax return. About an hour into the phone interview, the person asked for a credit card number. At that point, the man realized the inquiry was fraudulent and hung up.

Recently, a woman received a call from a man who spoke Spanish like a Tico (as natives of Costa Rica call themselves). When she did not totally understand him, he gave the phone to a man that sounded like an American. The second man named Jorge, immediately explained, “I grew up in the States and later learned Spanish in Costa Rica.”

This woman had recently unsubscribed from the Hacienda in order to avoid filing a tax return because she no longer had a paid job in Costa Rica. This made her believe that the call might be about that. Had she read the article in the Tico Times posted in early December 2018, she might have become suspicious immediately. You can access the piece here:

The Hacienda incident proved an ordeal beyond the money she lost from her bank account. A recount of it, along with the swindles mentioned here, will become a chapter in the fourth edition of Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs, and Pura Vida that I will publish later in 2019. Besides losing money, it took many trips to the bank to get a new debit card, an ATM code, and data associated with the fraudulent transaction for proof. In addition, many telephone calls, and a trip to San José to the the Organismo de Investigación Judicial, (OIJ), a unit of the Supreme Court of Justice of Costa Rica to make a Denuncia followed, plus follow-up with the OIJ. The bank is also researching what happened and will be in touch with the victim. Do not hold your breath because investigations like this often take months to years to complete.

Helen Dunn Frame graduated from the Journalism School at Syracuse University and subsequently earned a Master’s Degree from New York University. She has been widely published in subsequent years. Her books include Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida (third edition), Greek Ghosts, Wetumpka Widow, Secrets behind the Big Pencil, and Retirement 101. They are available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. She has lived in Costa Rica for fourteen years.


To retire fulltime, part time, or not at all, that is the question. As you approach what could be the last quarter, or even third of your life, it is a major decision to make. You want your adventure to turn out well in order that your golden years will be happy, healthy, and content.

This book offers a great first step in doing your due diligence beginning with the first Chapter, Retirement 101. This encourages you to look beyond your financial plans and to consider what you will do with your wonderful free hours You’ll undoubtedly discover if retiring to this emerging nation is for you. You may decide that living abroad anywhere is not for you. If your choice is a different foreign country, you may recognize what you might face when adapting to a different culture.

The book contains a lot of information that will enable you to carry your due diligence to the next level. In addition, you may contact the author through her website to download a Moving Guide and workbook, useful for any move.


KUDOS: If you are contemplating permanent retirement, investing, or even birding in Costa Rica, then you must read this book. It is an in depth, comprehensive guide by U.S. expat Helen Dunn Frame. It provides you with a systematic guide for the entire process of making your tropical retirement dream easily come true. Rowdy Rhodes, Semi-retired Freelance Writer.

Website:  Facebook:



iHeart Radio Interview:

Amazon: Author’s Page:

Social Media FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) by Amy Reade

The first thing I learned on the road to publication was that social media is not optional for writers. In fact, I learned that lesson upon receipt of my very first rejection letter.

I knew about Facebook and Twitter, of course, but I had better things to do with my time. There was no way I was going to join social media. Everyone knew it was nothing more than a gossipy time suck.

But the day came when I got that first rejection letter in the mail and it came with a powerful message. The editor liked my book, but when she Googled my name?


She suggested that I resubmit my manuscript after exploring different social media platforms and doing something to get my name out there, to get a following of some kind.

I took her words to heart and signed up for Facebook that day. Then I started a blog and joined Twitter. Before long I had designed my website and joined Tumblr, too. And Google+. And LinkedIn. And everything else anyone suggested that I join.

You can probably see where this is headed. Before long I had my hands in everything except SnapChat, and I only refrained from joining that because my kids wouldn’t let me I didn’t want to embarrass my kids.

But I wasn’t enjoying myself. I wasn’t taking the time I needed to learn about each platform—I was just out there trying everything, waiting to see if anything was sticking. More importantly, I wasn’t taking the time to engage on each platform. I had a bad case of FOMO. I was afraid that if I wasn’t involved in everything, I would miss something important, some opportunity that wouldn’t come along anywhere else.

It finally hit me one day when I was scrolling through a platform that had me thoroughly befuddled and shall remain nameless: this is not working.

I closed out of that platform right then and there and have never logged back in. And it feels so good. And then I did the same thing with three other platforms that weren’t working for me. And again, you can probably see where this is headed.

It feels so good.

I kicked my FOMO to the curb and have come to realize that the opportunities I was afraid of missing have increased tenfold because I’m actually being social. The secret wasn’t to be a little bit invested in a lot of places online—the secret was to be fully invested in a few places.

Today things are different. Today I’m active on social media, but I have a manageable slate of platforms and a schedule that works for me and allows me to do the most important thing an author has to do: write that next book.

So here’s my plan:

Every day (well, almost every day) I am active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I use each platform for a different purpose, but they all have one thing in common: when I’m done with my marketing work, I leave. I may return later if I’m taking a break, but the marketing and promoting are done first thing in the morning.

Every day I also read other blogs. Readers’ blogs, writers’ blogs, industry insiders’ blogs. Some I read on occasion; some I never miss. And very often I’ll leave a comment—a lot of people don’t think of this as being part of social media, but to me it’s a very important component.

Once a week I post to my own blog.

Once a month I send out a newsletter.

As necessary, I maintain my website and author pages on BookBub, Amazon, and Goodreads.

For me, losing my Social Media FOMO was an important step in learning to be engaged on social media and making those essential connections with readers and other writers. Losing my FOMO made me realize that with some judicious trimming and some discipline, I can have a positive social media plan that allows me to reach my goals and stay engaged on the platforms that matter most to me.

What does your social media plan look like?


Amy M. Reade’s bio:

Amy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, in addition to being a writer, she is a wife, mother, community volunteer, and recovering attorney.

Amy is the author of Trudy’s Diary, A Libraries of the World Mystery (Book One: Library of Congress), which is due out in April. She has also penned The Worst Noel (Book One in the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series), The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross), and three standalone books, Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade. She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.

Her days are split between writing and marketing her books, but uppermost in her mind is the adage that the best way to market a book is to write another great book.

You can find her online here:













JoAnn Smith Ainsworth


Readers tell me that Lady Lynnet, the Anglo-Saxon sight-impaired heroine of my medieval romantic suspense novel, OUT OF THE DARK (ISBN 9781386717690), is inspirational.




Lynnet doesn’t make herself into a victim. She acknowledges the limitation of diminished sight but knows her other senses have become stronger. Acute hearing. Retentive brain. Heightened sense of smell.


How do I weave diminished sight into a medieval story?


When still a child, Lynnet lost a good percentage of her sight to disease. As an adult, while staying in the king’s London residence with her family, she gets disoriented and lost in the cellars. While there, she overhears three men in a distant corridor plotting a conspiracy against the king. She cannot see them, but she’s certain she can identify them by their voices. She joins the Norman sheriff in his investigation, despite putting her life in danger by doing so.


Let’s look at how she ended up in medieval times.


When faced with a blank sheet of paper, I decided to write a first novel having Anglo-Saxon characters. Why? Because Ainsworth is an Anglo-Saxon name meaning the property of Ains. It dates back to the 900’s A.D. in Britain. During research, I found those times too turbulent for a romance novel. For love to blossom, I needed peaceful times, not warring factions. Plus, my female character needed to have some say in the direction of her life to make the storyline work.


I found peace during the reign of the third son of William the Conqueror. It was also a time when Anglo Saxon laws still had some clout, during this early transition into Norman rule, and women had some say in who they married. Since the deceased queen had been Anglo-Saxon, I made my heroine into a distant relative of the queen so that it would be more difficult for her enemies to be openly aggressive.


Having decided on Britain in 1120 A.D., I then needed a problem which my heroine would have to rise above. I chose blindness.


I soon discovered that it’s difficult getting around a castle with no disability accommodations. She needed some sight. Consequently, I ended up making her able to see shadows and movement.


How did I come to choose lack of sight as my heroine’s challenge?


When I was a student, I did some temp clerical work for the Disabled Department at a community college. The department was run by a blind woman. She amazed me. These were the early days of accommodations for the disabled. In fact, she was helping design many of the future accommodations. In the meantime, she had to make her way around structures designed for people with sight. Through her, I saw how much of her life she could control, despite a disability.


She traveled around the campus and to local restaurants without a guide dog. She had a reader for her correspondence (these were the days before voice-activated computer software) but she set up and ran meetings, used the phone and directed office staff in their work despite a lack of sight.


I thought, wow, here’s a disability that’s not a disability if you work around it. I decided my heroine could find her way around a castle that she knew as a child when she still had sight—especially since I gave my heroine part of her sight back.


I wrote the whole manuscript by imagining what I would do if I’d lost my sight. When I was finished and before I sent the manuscript to a publisher, I contacted the Society for the Blind and asked for someone to review the manuscript. They referred me to the School for the Blind, which referred me to a retired, sight-impaired instructor. The manuscript had to be printed in 16 point type for her to be able to read it. It took almost a ream of paper. Two months later she had her recommendations on what to change. In a few cases, we couldn’t logically get Lynnet out of a situation, so I added a touch of paranormal to the storyline in the guise of a ghostly grandmother who points out which way to turn.


Why should this heroine inspire us today? She’s a woman who doesn’t give up or give in.


Her only weakness comes from the fact she believes her parents that she’s flawed and that, because of her blindness, unlovable.


The Norman sheriff proves them wrong.



Let me know if you’ve also found a story character that is truly inspirational.



As a blind woman seen as a flawed commodity, Lady Lynnet is used to the idea that she’s unlovable. But her parents’ plan to force her into a loveless marriage is too much. Wandering, upset and lost in the cellars of the king’s castle, the darkness doesn’t frighten her, but the murder plot she overhears chills her to the bone. Worse, no one believes her, and the only one she can turn to is a Norman sheriff whose voice sounds disturbingly like one of the conspirators.

Basil, Sheriff of London, is battle-hardened, fiercely loyal—and torn apart. He’s falling in love with the Saxon beauty, and he longs to show her she is worthy of love despite her physical limitation.

But the very corruption she is helping him root out may implicate his own half-brother. How can he turn his back on family—for an Anglo-Saxon woman?




JoAnn Smith Ainsworth is the author of six published novels. She earned a B.A. from UC-Berkeley, an M.A.T. from Fairleigh Dickenson University, and M.B.A. studies from Pepperdine University. Ainsworth lives in northern California.


To learn more about this award-winning author, visit



For more, visit:

Twitter @JoAnnAinsworth

Facebook:  JoAnn Smith Ainsworth Fan Page ( and Profile Page.

Goodreads Blog:


Contact her at



Amazon –

Barnes & Noble –

Books a Million (BAM) –


…and at an independent bookstore near you –





Reviews of Out of the Dark: (251 words)

Out of the Dark is a medieval with a tightly woven plot and vivid descriptions of time and place. It is strong with intense characters, a murder plot, and a love story making JoAnn Smith Ainsworth an author to be appreciated. I loved it. —Lettetia Elsasser, Reviewer, Affaire de Coeur Magazine



In Ainsworth’s suspenseful and entertaining tale, there are a number of well fleshed-out and intriguing characters, including the ghost of the heroine’s grandmother. The story moves quickly and is exciting without a lot of blood and guts. —Susan Mobley, Reviewer, RT Book Reviews



I enjoyed Out of the Dark. I especially found the relationship between the tough mother and the intellectual father intriguing. —Enduring Romance



An interesting book.  Lynnet is not made out to be a weakling despite her blindness. —Joyfully Reviewed



Out of the Dark is an absolutely fantastic book….The supporting characters are well written with a rational for all they do, however twisted. The dialogue is structured to match the time but does not require an Old-English translator. —Anya, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance



This is a heart pounding read…truly an intrigue that keeps the reader to the final scene. —Reviewed by Patricia from the Bookaholics Romance Book Club



Fresh exciting medieval romance with suspenseful plot.…. she packs enough history into this medieval romance to please medieval lovers…. If you are a medieval junkie, OUT OF THE DARK has a fresh sense of originality that will undoubtedly make romance a special treat. —Reviewed by Merrimon, Medieval Book Reviews