Friday, November 30, 2012

Author Allison Knight Talks About Research

This week author Allison Knight has graciously agreed to share with us her thoughts on the role of research in writing fiction.

Research, Research, Research

I learned a long time ago, 'cause I've been at this for a long time, that research was a necessary evil.

Why do I call it an evil?  Because, if you're like me, you get caught up in the research and your writing time has disappeared. When I had to go to the library and spent hours finding books, or copying material, it took even longer, but today we have the internet and that saves hours.

So, I thought I'd give you a few hints on some of the things I've discovered about research, be it historical romance or contemporary romance. I know the people who write suspense and mainstream may also discover some helpful hints here too but since I don't read or write paranormal, fantasy or scfi, I'm afraid I can't be much help there.

So here goes!

With romance novels, I discovered the first thing I needed to know was the lay of the land. I certainly can't travel through every part of  the places I write about, any if I  could get there, or had already visited. And I definitely can't go back in time for my historical locations. If I'm not  familiar with an area, I better find out what it's like. Is it hilly, mountainous, tree covered, what kind of trees, what's the weather like? For most the that info the internet is wonderful. I visit google earth and NASA for help with identifying the area and the weather in the US. There's information available on Europe and some part of the mideast as well. If you are writing in a time period before the mid 1800's you'll have to depend on the local newspapers of the location. They did record any severe weather, and yes you can find all kinds of old newspapers on the web. I even found a newspaper account of the London fire where the weather for the past season had been discussed.

Another hint. Sites that sell trees, flowers, seeds will also tell you whether what you've picked to fill a garden will grow in the area you've decided to use, often with even bloom time for flowers. They will often give you information about whether the species is native to that part of the country you are using in your story.

Once I have an idea of the type of weather and what the area is like, then I turn to the kinds of homes in that location. Again the internet is invaluable. If I'm working on a contemporary, I go to google for a street map. Once I get an idea of the layout of the streets, than my best bet is local real estate listings. I get an idea of type of house, cost, type of neighborhood, etc. With historicals, the web is full of manor houses and castles that serve nicely for homes in your historical setting.

Medical information is no problem either, because once again you can search for a disease or condition and find all kinds of information. The same is true of the occupation of your characters, even medieval labor.

Because I'm not the most organized person, I make a hard copy of what I've discovered with the URL and keep it with the information I have on that particular book. One word of caution. I never depend on one source. For example, if I'm looking a certain type of house for a contemporary, I'll check out several real estate agents, the same is true for growing things, neighborhoods, etc. I'll always try to find at least two sources that agree. If I can't find two, then I won't use that information.

Yes, it all takes time, but it's fun learning about different places, their weather, their homes, the way they live or lived, and lucky for the reader, they know you care enough to be accurate, especially if they live in the area of your book setting or are a student of the time period. Combine that concern with a good story and they'll want to read your next novel.

So, happy researching.

Find Windsong and other books by Allison at Champagne Books

Award winning author, Allison Knight claims she's married to the world's greatest husband because he's her greatest supporter and works with her on all her projects. The mother of four children, she retired from teaching to move south to warmer climes. She has written and published nineteen romances for both paperback and digital  publishers. Her third medieval romance from her 'song' series and a short story are available from Champagne Books, Inc.

Because she can never quite step out of teaching mode, she blogs often sharing the knowledge she gained writing and publishing in the romance genre. She also loves to talk  about the growing digital market.

You can find her at:
She blogs once a month for The Writers' Vineyard, http://thewritersvineyard.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Reinventing Christmas

It's almost Thanksgiving and we all know what that means--Christmas is just around the corner. Here's a little excerpt from my sweet contemporary Christmas romance, Reinventing Christmas that will help you get into the mood.

      They reached the corner and crossed the street to the neighborhood park. Brady stopped and stared at the undisturbed blanket of white ahead of them.

      "What's wrong?" M.J. asked.

      "Have you ever made snow angels?"

      "Sure, years ago. Every kid makes snow angels."

      "Not me."

      She looked up at him. "You're kidding. What did you do for fun in the winter?"



      "We weren't allowed to have fun. We had to study or read. No TV, no playing in the snow. In the summer, I was allowed to use the pool because I was on the swim team in school. I hated swim team, but it got me out of the house. I'm the guy you want to be with if you're on a sinking ship." He tugged on her hand. "Show me."

      "Show you what?"

      "How to make a snow angel."

      "Seriously?" She stepped into the snow and turned around. "Come on. Give me your hand."

      He complied, taking a spot beside her. Even in gloves, her hand fit snugly into his. It felt natural.

      She let go of his hand. "Okay, move over a few feet so you have room to make wings. On the count of three…fall backward. One, two, three." She dropped back into the snow. "Now sweep your arms up and down."

       The snow bunched under Brady's collar, sending a chill through him. But he laughed and glanced sideways to watch M.J. make her angel's wings, then followed suit.

      "Now, here's the important part. You have to get up without messing up your angel." She sat up, squatted and stood, finally stepping forward out of the imprint she had left in the snow. She reached a hand down to Brady.

      He sat up and dug in his heels as she pulled. Her tug on his arm along with his own momentum launched him forward, right into her. He grabbed her shoulders to keep her from falling backward. Their bodies clashed from knees to chest. "Sorry."

      "It's okay."

      He brushed snow from her hair. "A real live snow angel."

      She stood staring up at him, her lips slightly parted, puffs of air escaping her mouth.

      Lips, soft and full, invited him. He lowered his face to brush his mouth over hers. She pulled back ever so slightly, but then surprised him by leaning into the kiss. He drew her closer, arms encircling her. She yielded to his embrace, sliding her arms inside his jacket and around his waist.

      When the kiss ended, he continued to hold her. She remained with her cheek on his chest for a moment before stepping back. "So, um…now you know how to make a snow angel."
* * *
Available in e-book and trade paperback at Champagne Books, also at and B&

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Meet Author Joyce Proell

This week, I'm very pleased to introduce you to author Joyce Proell and her debut novel Eliza.
Thanks so much for inviting me to One Woman’s Write. It’s a pleasure to be here today.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Minnesota and went to college and grad school in Chicago where I studied psychology and social work. I worked in the field of mental health as a psychiatric social worker, administrator and later settled into private practice. Retired at a reasonably young age, I write full time. After living some years in Nevada and Wisconsin, my husband—a man who always makes me laugh, and I live in rural Minnesota only miles from where I grew up.   

Every author I’ve met has their own unique story of how they found their way into writing. What path led you to become an author?

Unlike most authors, it never occurred to me to write for publication. But facing burnout from the stressful aspects of working in mental health, I wanted a break. When my husband suggested I take a year off and write a book, I jumped at the chance.
Never looking back, I quit my job and started a new one. At eight o’clock each morning, Monday through Friday, I sit down at my computer to write. What fun! Within a year, and in total isolation, I’d crafted a rip-roaring historical romance filled with pirates, kidnapping, a sexy, wonderful hero, nasty villains and torrid love scenes. Excited and scared, I sent out half a dozen queries and a full manuscript. Weeks later, all the responses came back with a heartbreaking no.
For a day, I roamed around the house stunned and disappointed then I got back to work. I reached out to other writers, joined Romance Writers of America, found a critique group, and started a second book. Eliza is that book.

What aspect of the writing process do you enjoy the most? What part of the process do you dread?

I adore creating character profiles. Maybe it’s the therapist in me, but I love to craft a character’s inner conflict, quirks, strengths and pitfalls. I want to know every little thing about them.  
The most dreaded aspect of writing for publication is condensing the essence of the story to a three sentence pitch or a one sentence logline. It takes a skilled and talented writer to craft a pitch that will hook the reader.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Describe your writing space.

My first book was the result of a pantser style of freeform writing. It was great fun but what a nightmare to edit. The experience taught me I need order. My creative spirit is freer and my mind is clearer when the space around me is simple, orderly and calm. And I like a road map, a progression of ordered steps, which leads me to the end of the story.

Which author has most influenced or inspired you?

For pacing, I enjoy John Sandford’s fast, staccato style. I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Her writing is humorous, poignant and lyrical.  

Of all of your published books, which one story or character is your favorite and why?

Eliza is my first published book. The resilience and courage of the character, Eliza, resonates with me. Her story is hopeful and inspiring. It’s an enormous challenge to leave behind everything you know to set up a new life, alone, in a new world. This is especially tricky for a woman in 1859. Yet Eliza pushes ahead, tackling one daunting obstacle after another, and grows because of it.

Would you tell us a little about your latest book?

Here is the book jacket for Eliza:

A husband who wants you dead is the greatest motivation for change.

Posing as a widow, strong-willed Eliza Danton flees her loveless marriage determined to bury the past and live a solitary life. Traveling by riverboat to the Minnesota frontier, her flight turns perilous when forces threaten to expose her deception. With problems mounting and her trust shattered, she is forced draw upon her only resource, a man whose captivating presence rocks the very foundation of her well laid plans. But love flourishes in the toughest of times even when you don’t want it.  

Attorney and contented loner, Will Heaton hides his tender heart behind an elusive facade. Grief is nothing new to him having lost a wife and child. But when a pretty widow thrusts a baby into his arms, he’s hooked. When Eliza is harassed by the same man he believes killed his wife, Will grabs at the chance to redress past mistakes and vows to keep her safe.

What can readers expect in the coming months?

A Deadly Truth, a romantic mystery set in 1880’s Chicago, is set for publication by Champagne Books in July, 2013. Here’s the teaser:

When Doyle Flanagan finds two strangers in his library—one dead and the other the beautiful but meddlesome Cady Delafield, his life begins to unravel as all clues point to him for the murder. As the sexual tension sizzles and Victorian conventions crumble, Cady risks job, reputation and family ties to help him clear his name. Even as his life hangs in the balance, his passion for her drives him on, but will the truth about him be the one thing to scare her away?

What are you working on now?

I’m rewriting my first book. The story has changed so much it’s almost a completely different plot.

What interview question have you never been asked that you’re dying to answer?

What an interesting question? I can’t think of an answer. How boring is that? Guess I’ll throw it out there…Does anybody have a question they’d like to ask me?

Where can you be found on the web?

You can find me at
Also, I'm on Facebook @ Stop by and visit. I often discuss books and love to hear some of your favorites. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Free Read: Love, Sam


The drive to Cleveland tested every nerve in Trish Garrity’s body. Black clouds gathered over the choppy waters of Lake Erie and heavy rain fell in sheets. She pulled into Phyllis Preston’s driveway and sat for a moment while the knots in her neck eased. Finally, pulling up the hood on her jacket, she ran for the front porch.
Phyllis opened the door immediately. “Trish, I thought for sure you’d cancel your drive over here in this rain.”
She met Phyllis’ gaze. “We need to talk.”
Stepping back, the older woman pulled the door open wider. “Come in. Let me hang your jacket to dry. I’ll make tea.”
Trish kicked off her wet sneakers and followed Sam’s mother down a hallway and into the kitchen.
Phyllis picked up the teakettle and filled it from the tap. Her hand shook as she set the kettle on the stove top. “I know what you’re going to tell me. I’ve seen it coming.”
“Sam’s coming home day after tomorrow and starting hospice care.” The words came out in a rasp.
Phyllis eased into the chair opposite Trish, sighing heavily. “Even though we’ve known it would come to this, it still seems unbelievable. Do you want me to come and stay?”
Trish shook her head. “The doctor said it could be a matter of days or weeks. I won’t tell you not to come, but… I mean, you’re welcome. You know that. I’m sure you’ll want to be with Sam before…” Her voice trailed off, emotion clogging her throat. She still felt awkward around Sam’s mother, even though the woman seemed to accept her as a part of Sam’s life.
“I’ll wait a few days and give the two of you some time alone. You’re not so far away that I can’t drive over for a visit.”
Trish nodded. “Phyllis, you’ll have to forgive me if I offend you or make mistakes. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know the proper etiquette for watching the person you love the most die.” Her voice cracked.
Phyllis reached across the table and held her hand. “And I don’t know how to let go of my child. I’m sure we’ll step all over one another, but our main focus has to be on Sam. That's what is important now.”
The teakettle emitted a low whistle, and Phyllis fetched it from the stove. She poured the steaming water into two ceramic mugs, each holding an Earl Grey teabag.
Trish wrapped her palms around the mug. “I talked with Matt earlier. He may try to get back for a few days.”
Phyllis smiled and gazed out the window. “Those two were always so close. Wherever Sam would go, Mattie would follow, from the time they were toddlers. They were…they are so close in age.”
Shifting her gaze to Trish’s face, she asked, “How are you holding up?”
“I’m trying to take one moment at a time. It’ll be easier when Sam comes home. I won’t have time to sit and think too much.”
“I know what you mean. I try to keep myself busy.” Phyllis’ blue eyes—so much like Sam’s—filled, and she worked her mouth.
“Call me after Sam is settled at home?”
Trish nodded. “Phyllis…” She paused, choosing her words. “I…uh…I want you to come whenever you want, and stay as long as you want.”
Phyllis once again shifted her gaze from Trish’s face to the window where rain pelted the glass. “I keep thinking I’ll waken from this nightmare.”
“Me, too.”
Returning her gaze to Trish’s face, Phyllis asked, “You’ll let me know if you need help?”
“Yes.” Trish sipped the last of her tea. “I wish I could stay longer, but I have to pick up some things to finish preparing the den.
The hospital bed will be delivered tomorrow morning.” She stood and set the empty mug in the sink. “I’ll call you.”
“Have you told your mother?”
Trish lowered her head. “No. What would be the point?”
“You should call. Surely she'd want to know, to at least support you.” At the door, Phyllis hugged her. “Thank you for coming here to tell me in person about hospice. Are you sure you’re going to be okay driving back in this weather?”
Trish glanced outside. “It’s letting up, and the sky is getting lighter. I’ll take my time. And I meant what I said, Phyllis. You're welcome to come and stay for as long as you want.”
“We’ll see. I’ll visit on Friday, after Sam’s settled in. Now, you be careful on the roads. Let me know you’ve arrived home safely.”
Trish jogged to the car and slid behind the wheel. She glanced up at Phyllis, still standing on the porch. It was through Sam’s mother that Trish got a true glimpse of what a mother could be, should be. Her own mother had a missing gene for mothering. Trish had worried, when she and Sam began talking about having a child, that the genetic imperfection may have been passed on to her. Now it was a moot point.
She shoved the Toyota into gear and backed from the
~ * ~
Later that afternoon, Trish knew she couldn’t put the call off any longer. “Mom? It’s Trish.”
“Why do you do that—always tell me your name, like I don’t know my own daughter?”
Trish sucked in a ragged breath. “Sam’s dying.”
The long pause made her think her mother had hung up, which would not have surprised her. “Are you there?”
“Yes. Uh…I don’t know what to say.”
“You could start with I’m sorry.” This has to be awful for you. I’ll come right away.
“There’s no need to take that tone with me. You know how I feel about you and Sam. Not that I’d wish death on anyone, but… What do you want me to do?”
“I don’t want you to do anything. I needed to…to tell someone. I tried to call Tracie, but she isn’t answering her phone.”
“Oh, you didn’t hear.” Her mother’s voice brightened. “Your sister’s receiving an award at some conference in San Francisco. She works so hard. I’m glad she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves. And you should meet Jay, the man she’s dating now.”
Trish knew when one door closed and a different one opened. There was no going back. “Mom, I have to go.” Her mother never failed to live down to her expectations. Although Trish had hoped she would offer some comfort this time.
“Okay, honey. Don’t forget to call your sister to congratulate her. Let me know if you need anything.”
Trish held the phone away from her ear and stared at it, then hit the ‘end’ button. Through gritted teeth, she muttered, “I just told you I needed something. But, as usual, you couldn’t hear it—or didn’t want to.”
The phone rang while still in her hand. She growled, “Hello.”
“Whoa, what did I say wrong?”
“Oh, Matt. I’m sorry. I just spoke with my mother.”
“Say nothing more. I got your message, and you sounded urgent.”
Trish dropped into a chair and took in a deep breath. “Sam and I met with the doctor yesterday. It’s…bad news. Well, worse news. The oncologist recommends suspending treatment and utilizing comfort measures only.” Her chin trembled. She swallowed hard.
“I can ditch this film project and be there in a few days,” Sam’s younger brother said. “Sam and I said goodbye before I left, but I can at least be there for you.”
“No, don’t. We’ll be bringing in hospice care, but it could be weeks still.” She paused. “I’ll be all right. I just have a case of post-mother-conversation frustration. That’s all.”
“Have you talked with my mother?”
“I drove to Cleveland to see her. Sam will be coming home from the hospital tomorrow. I didn’t want to tell your mom on the phone.”
“Good thinking. So, how are you?”
“I’m okay. I mean, I’m…coping.”
“It’s so damned unfair.”
“Yes. I’m sorry, Matt. I know how close you two have been since you were kids.”
Matt cleared his throat. “We talked during my last visit. I’m glad Sam had you for the last six years. We’re not all so lucky, to find that one special person before it’s too late.”
Trish sucked in her lower lip, unable to speak.
Matt sighed. “I’ll call you tomorrow night. I’m twelve hours ahead of you, so it may be late.”
Trish glanced at her watch. “Oh, Matt. I’m sorry. It’s four a.m. in Sydney.”
“I called you. Remember? Besides, you know how us Hollywood types are, up all night. Give Sam my love. And you take care of yourself. I’m going to see if I can wrap things up here and get away for a few days. I’ll let you know.”
“Talk to you tomorrow. Don’t worry about the time. I don’t sleep much, either.” She said good-bye then hung up and sat with the quiet hissing around her. Then her body convulsed as wracking sobs shook her. She crossed her arms and doubled over them. She’d been stoic when she’d sat with Sam earlier and listened to the doctor’s prognosis. Or maybe she’d just been numb. But now, alone in the home she and Sam had made together, reality crashed over her like a tidal wave.
Molly whined and nudged her hand. Trish scratched the dog’s ears, taking comfort in her presence. “You want to go for a walk? I could use some air.”
The mid-October chill greeted Trish as she stepped outside. The winds blowing off Lake Erie carried the promise of an early winter. Molly tugged on the leash, dragging Trish out to the sidewalk and down the block.
When they reached the park, Trish glanced across to the café. “Come on, Molly. Let’s check on business.” She dodged two skateboarders and crossed the street. The wooden sign hanging over the door read: “Rainbow Connection – S. Preston and T. Garrity, Proprietors.”
The internet café was at a lull between lunch and the late afternoon crowds from the college that filled the place with students.
Trish nodded to a few customers and headed into the office. “Ben, how’s it going?”
Ben looked up from the desk. “Trish, hi. I’m just getting a bank deposit ready.” Molly pulled away from Trish and rounded the desk, sticking her nose into Ben’s hand. He ruffled her ears. “How’s my favorite girl?” Then he glanced up at Trish. “And how are you?”
“I needed some fresh air, so Molly took me for a walk.”
“How’s it going today?”
Trish removed her jacket and draped it over the coat tree in the corner. She shook her head. “Not good. We’re starting hospice care.”
“I’m sorry.” Sorrow tugged on his mouth and he swallowed hard. “I still can't believe this is happening. When will Sam come home?”
“Tomorrow.” She met his gaze. “Ben, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you’re doing here. You and Gina, both. Without you two, this place would’ve folded months ago.”
“Well, I can’t let that happen. We have the best coffee in town. I know. I make it myself.”
She smiled and realized it had been a long time since she’d done that so easily. “I should head back home. I’m setting up a bedroom in the den for Sam. No steps, close to the kitchen and
downstairs bathroom.”
Ben stood and held her jacket for her. “Everything’s running smoothly here. If there’s anything I can do, please call.”
“You’re already doing more than you can imagine. I’ll let you know once Sam’s settled at home. A visit would be nice.”
He nodded and then patted Molly’s head. “I’ll bring a non-fat, decaf double mocha latte.”
She smiled. “Sam’s favorite. Call me if you need me.” She tugged on Molly’s leash. “Come on, Molly.”
Gina looked up from taking an order and waved. “How’s Sam?”
“Ben will fill you in. I’ve gotta run. Talk to you later.” She couldn’t say the words one more time.
~ * ~
Trish stuffed clothing and other items into the plastic bag the hospital provided. “Do you want me to take these flowers home, too?”
“No.” Sam sat on the edge of the bed.
“They’ll last a while longer.”
“Then have the nurses give them to someone who hasn’t received flowers. Can we just get moving? I want to go home.”
“I know.”
Sam met her gaze. “I’m sorry.”
Trish ran her hand over Sam’s blonde hair, thinned by the treatments. “You don’t have to apologize. You have every right to be angry and frustrated and…”
“But not with you. Not ever with you.” Sam clutched her hand.
“I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
The door opened and an aide pushed a wheelchair through.
“Ready to go?”
“Yes, I’m ready to go home.” Sam stood on unsteady legs and eased down into the chair with assistance.
Once in the car, Trish drove slowly, as if carrying precious breakable cargo.
“Are you planning to get us there today?” Sam asked.
“I don’t want to have to stop suddenly. The seatbelt could fracture your collarbone.”
Sam gave her a crooked smile. “Yeah, but it won’t kill me.”
“I don’t like it when you joke about this.”
“About dying? Come on, Trish. We have to talk about it sooner or later. And I think it will have to be sooner, because later…”
Trish pressed her foot to the gas and sped up. “I don’t want to talk about it right now.”
“Fine. Would you drive by the café?”
“You don’t want to stop in, do you?”
“No. I just want to see it.”
Trish pulled to the curb across from the café. “See? Still standing. Ben’s doing a fantastic job.”
Sam’s eyes filled. “I remember when we sat up all night, writing a business plan for this place. We didn’t even know, then, where we’d open.”
Trish squeezed Sam’s hand. “The café is your baby. I didn’t do anything but decorate.”
“Displaying some of the best paintings I’ve ever seen. You have the real talent between the two of us.”
Trish hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in weeks. Her last efforts left her standing before a blank canvas, unable to make the first brush stroke, her thoughts on the life that was slipping away like sand     through her fingers.
Sam breathed wearily. “Let’s go home.”
Over the next week, they fell into an easy rhythm. After Trish spent two sleepless nights in the recliner, Sam insisted she sleep upstairs. Trish bought a baby monitor to keep at Sam’s beside, should she be needed. Once she raced down the stairs in alarm, only to discover that the rasping sounds were coming from Thumper who had perched on the night stand in front of the monitor and purred loudly.
As Halloween approached, Sam asked what they would do to celebrate. “We should have a party.”
“You’re crazy.”
“That’s not a newsflash. Come on, Trish. It’ll be fun. God knows, we could both use a little fun around here.”
“I don’t want you to get tired out. And people will bring germs that your immune system is too weak to fight off.”
“Now the leukemia isn’t killing me. You are.”
It was like a slap, and Trish stopped moving, stunned.
“Oh, Jesus. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”
Trish fought her tears. “I’m trying to make sure you stay as healthy as possible.”
Sam patted the edge of the bed. “Come here. Please?”
Trish turned around and sat down.
“I am dying. Getting tired or catching a cold isn’t going to make that much difference. Sure, a few germs may expedite the process, but the fact is, I am dying. I’d like to die smiling. And a party would make me smile. I’m actually feeling pretty good right now.”
“Okay. I’ll get on it.” Trish stood wearily.

* * *
Love, Sam won the 2012 EPIC eBook Award for Mainstream Fiction

Available now in both ebook and trade paperback from
and in ebook from
Also available at Rainbow Ebooks

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Interview with Croakette, Hospice Mascot from Medium Rare

This week I’m pleased to bring you an interview with Croakette, Hospice mascot from Medium Rare, by Julie Eberhart Painter.

Welcome, Miss Croakette. For our readers, how long have your worked for the Hospice team?

Croakette: It started in 1990. I woke up in their offices one morning wearing a bikini and sitting in a potted plant. Don't remember much before that.  It's a blur.

I see you are wearing a nurse’s uniform and rubber gloves today.

Croakette:  I'm working this week. Helps with the  patients’ depression.  And I cheer up the team. Hospice workers are very careful  about universal precautions policies. They put condoms on my front feet.  There's a guy, a patient, who's kind of lonely. He asked for a round-the-clock nurse. Tah-dah. (Flings arms upward.) “Oops.” (Straightens bodice and replaces cap.) I'm going out there with Andrea; she's the boss.

So you like your work?

Croakette:  (Brushes fingers across stiffly starched collar.) It's the best. These Hospice folks are the nicest people to work with. If I had to end up in someone's floral display to get this job, I'm satisfied.

How did you come by your name?

Croakette: One of the volunteers, Penny Martin, of Kill Fee fame, named me the first day they found me.  Betty, she's the volunteer coordinator, said, ‘Penny, what are we gonna call her?’ Penny didn’t hesitate. She said, ‘Croak-ette, of course.’ Well you know in my line of work, I didn't object.

Tell us about the team. That’s pretty serious work. Is it sad in the office?

Croakette:  Not usually. There’s a lot of hugging and mutual support. The staff  eats together in the break room, and shares their family gossip.  But one day, all hell broke loose. This kook from Cassadaga, a town filled with psychics, started counseling every one of them individually. Know what I mean? Well, she’s a little too accurate in her predictions for my money. I think she has spies. (Snickers)  They take me to some of the meetings. I’m just waiting to find a bug up my ass some morning.

I’d like to get my amphibious gloved hands on that psychic’s neck.


Croakette: She’d better not upset my people.  But, what can I do about it? They dress me and undress me. I’ve got this great motorcycle outfit set up for Bike Week. Someone had one of those old silver L’eggs eggs and they put black duct tape wings on the sides and made me a helmet. That and a large pair of Isotoner gloves and Zoom, I’m off!

I notice you are quite slender now. What happened to the golf ball bra?

Croakette: One night I was hiding in the artificial palm and some new maintenance man came along and dumped water on me.  It was a mess. Thought I’d never get rid of the mildew smell. But Andrea, she used to be an operating room nurse; she took pity on me and dried me out, not in the AA sense. Then she did a breast reduction. (Spreads neck of dress and looks down.)  These look pretty good, believable, anyway. (Puffs out chest to show off Hearsay’s Kisses under uniform.)

Have you ever met Bilgewater, Penny Martin’s talking Mynah bird?

Croakette: No!

I assume you don’t care for Pennys pet Mynah, Bilgewater, the foul-mouthed fowl?

I think he’s a horrible animal. I don’t need the stuffing pecked out of me, verbally or literally.

I get it. Let’s move on. How did you like your new look on the book’s cover?

Croakette: You mean the Glamor Shot? I even got hair. I thought the cap looked a little Canadian.  But my face cleared up. How do they do that?

Tell us more about your team. You have a social worker and…?

Croakette: She’s a sweetheart, a real people person. The comptroller is interesting. He seems to have a secret life. Keeps going out for lunch and coming back hours later. Love to know what that’s about. Then there’s the preacher, ‘Dudley Do-right,’ my pet name for him. He’s got a secret… (Laughs)...  Not much wonder he’s afraid of water.

The volunteers are nice people but grass doesn’t grow under their feet, either. But everybody’s got a love life except me. (Sniffs)

Yet, I sense you don’t like or trust the psychic?

She knows too much.  She really upsets my people. But for now, everybody’s talking’ about that Medium—Rare.

Julie Eberhart Painter, a Pennsylvanian transplanted to Central Florida. She’s worked with hospice for for eighteen years, but finally gave it up, along with duplicate bridge to write. She’s the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee. This sequel, Medium Rare, releases December 3, 2012. 

Twitter: @JulieEPainter
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Julie also reviews books for a prestigious online romance review site, and is a regular contributor to , and featured travel writer for, an online slick. Her flash fiction appears under

Other books by Julie Eberhart Painter