Pre-Order The Body In The Attic by Judi Lynn #cozy #mystery

So excited for Judi and will be sharing an interview with her in a few days.

From the Pen of Mae Clair

Happy first day of November! To kick off the month, I’m delighted to welcome friend and sister author, Judi Lynn. We’ve shared the same publisher for many years now. Judi has a new mystery release coming out in November that I’m super excited about and have already pre-ordered. Before I turn things over so she can tell you about it, please be sure to check out her blog. She’s wonderfully supportive of others and shares engaging posts that I know you’ll enjoy. And now….take it away Judi!

I want to thank Mae for inviting me to her blog.  We’re sister authors for Lyrical Press.  I loved her Point Pleasant series and the start of her Hode’s Hill series.  CUSP OF NIGHT has such a great mix of mystery and paranormal, I’m waiting for the second book to come out in January!  My first mystery, THE BODY IN THE ATTIC…

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But with another kind of inference. If you’re a dog lover, one of the following films is for you—the other, avoid.

So, Alpha. It starts off slow and doesn’t take off until the wolves enter. There are a few content issues that make no sense, holes you could drive the proverbial truck through, but the most glaring is how the men trudge off for days and days to hunt bison. History and logic say that people are nomadic or prefer to live near food sources. At any rate, who would want to trudge miles and miles, get the meat and skins, then schlepp them all the way home for days and days. The visuals are lovely, the costuming, strange. The men’s leather coats looked like WWII bomber jackets. I can suspend reality but that was a bit jarring. The best part was the wolf-bonding thing and the interesting bit where the wolf teaches the boy how to hunt as a team. Wolves do have that down to a science. The best part was the surprise ending that made me tear up. If you love dogs, you’ll like this film, especially if you’re overloaded with vacuous digital mayhem.

Then we come to AXL. What a mess. If I hadn’t planned on doing a “dog” blog thingie, I would have gotten up and walked out. Oye, the stereotyping is criminal. The storyline is idiotic, as if written by a ten-year-old. I take that back. Make it younger. The poor dog robot changes size about ten times and every trite and overused idea that can be crammed into a story is there, including making teens look like idiots. I was young and dumb, but these kids are like the ones in the commercial hiding in a shed with the dangling chainsaws. And I resent that the young protagonist thought it was OK to rip off an ATM just because computer wonder dog AXL programmed it to spew money. My grandson would have immediately reported the problem and turned in the cash. I guess that’s what irked me most, the way teens were trashed, the military to look asinine, and the bad guy of Middle Eastern descent. The only positive about movie is that actors got paid (presumably) and kept their SAG membership active.

In Alpha, there is much to be admired in the young man struggling to survive and get home to his parents. There is much to despise in a film like AXL that insults our youth and audience intelligence. I see the fun in B-type movie genres, but AXL is cruel and unusual.

Sorry this was kind of crabby and I miss my dogs and horses. And have been reading Dorothy Parker poems and quotes.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML





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Long ago in a land far away (Wisconsin), I sat in the dark inside my car, early for a night shift on the oncology unit. Looking out the front window, a vision blotted out the screen—a white temple, a robed woman standing in front of it. The image hounded me at work and in the days to come, until I had to write the story crammed inside my head. It roared to life in an unending stream that meant cutting over a hundred thousand words when it was done. That was the beginning of the fantasy trilogy, Seasons of Time.

Prior to this mental invasion, I’d been writing a western romance. That story needed lots of research about Native Americans. Regency requires even more, but with fantasy, the mind flies to faraway realms, unknown and new, strange and freaky wonderful.

Writing “in the zone” is an amazing experience, a bit like deep meditation, but without the placid floating off into peaceful relaxation. Writing it makes me think of what it must be like to smoke weed or peyote, neither of which I can do because of weird reactions to drugs and a wussy fear of getting caught. In the fantasy zone, protags are fearless. They can fly with the dragon-like fflorin, ride chargers that are part horse and reptile, escape from terrhogs—think blind, gigantic worms. Where did I get all this stuff spewing out of my brain? I have no idea. I’ve been asked and can only reply that they are just there, living inside my head, and causing havoc until I write it down, give it voice.

Fantasy also offers the freedom of the omnipotent power of world creation. What if you could make up your own world and go live there, sort of what Sheldon Cooper does on Sheldor? I’m not an antihero fan, so I can kill off the baddies, hurt them any way I want. Talk about your “heady” stuff. One may ask if that isn’t what every writer does in the writing process. Not exactly. Genre writing requires specific parameters. Fantasy has few, other than what its readership expects, and even then it’s pretty loosely defined.

It’s important to take seriously reader requests, so I’ve tacked on more to the Seasons of Time triology and by starting Seasons of War trilogy based in the same world. Oh, the places where my mind has gone. I’d forgotten what it was like to charge into battle and soar with the fflorin.

The first book of the Seasons of Time trilogy is free now and for the next 3 days. Get it here:

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML





More Than Friends


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Just finished another exquisite blog post by Rachel R. Roberts, author, playwright, educator, and essayist. Poignacy and nostalgia embue every sentence. There is an elegance to her writing stemming from her personality, as lilting and gentle as her voice. I hear her as I read, the syrup-smooth glide of her southern cadence. The prose is so lyric and grammar always perfect. I can see her blushing as she reads this, her head slightly turned away with modesty that is natural and unaffected. I’ve always admired that in certain women, specifically those who are sincere with that response. I have none of that and often feel like a clod when in the company of Rachel, the epitome of  the gracious, southern lady. Her writing has the same even grace, while layered with so much left unwritten and yet clearly stated. I feel so lucky to hear her comments when she can attend our writing group. She never fails to find a bit of encouragement, is perceptive and kind when it comes to critiquing. Which brings me to the writing group itself, Summit City Scribes, or as we call ourselves, just plain ole Scribes.

The group ranges from ten to twenty members, fluctuating with each bi-monthly meeting. The rules are simple—fifteen minutes to read, the reader is not allowed to comment until after all the members make their remarks, which goes around the table one by one, starting with something complimentary then the opinion, suggestions, or critique.

Members are an eclectic bunch covering a wide variety of genres in fiction and non. It’s heartening for this reader to hear that the work just read held the attention of those having no interest in the genre but that it did hold their interest. If it’s a romance, that’s a big deal to hear from men who write about hiking, or a jounalist, a former cop, or the guy writing a gritty murder mystery. I remember the terror the first time I read to the group almost twenty years ago. Nowadays, I can’t wait to hear what they have to say and often use everything they suggest.

There are so many wonderful writers in this group, and since joining, I’ve found more than encouragement and instruction. The women are clever, bold and goal-oriented. The men are clear-sighted and true gentlemen, which is a lot to be said in this day and age. When my husband passed, Scribes were there, surrounding me like a bastion, determined to hold me up and see me through. They did and have through so many disappointments and set backs, writing and personal. I also scored with another of my favorite writers, my critique partner, Judy Post aka Judi Lynn. She is the fearless leader for Scribes and takes the role seriously, encouraging and touting us like a fierce mother hen. Uh, no. More like a valkyrie. Even though I dread the work involved in rewrites, I get a shiver of excitement when getting back pages from Judy drenched in red ink. She loves to write mystery, so she finds all the plot defects.

I’m including blog sites to illustrate how we differ as writers. I’ve always loved differences, how much there is to glean from another POV. I’ve learned so much from Scribes, wouldn’t have any of the craft or successes without them. Check out their blogs, you’ll see what I mean about how we differ, and because of that, learn, and more importantly, apply.

Rachel S. Roberts

Judith Post/Judi Lynn

Kathy Palm

I’ve added a former Scribes member, Les Edgerton. (Won’t list his credentials  because it goes on for miles.) He has a terrific blog and an amazing new book out.

So much to learn, so little time.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML






New Release: To Jilt a Corinthian by Julia Donner #Regency

Thanks to Mae Claire for doing this. Are writers the best or what!

From the Pen of Mae Clair

Hello, everyone. Please welcome Julia Donner with her newest release, To Jilt a Corinthian. I “met” Julia through Judi Lynn, and it has been a pleasure getting to know her and interact with her. I’m in awe of Julia’s knowledge of the Regency era, and excited about her new release. Naturally, I invited her to my blog to share the blurb and an excerpt 🙂

Hi Mae, and thanks so much for inviting me to your blog and giving a shout out about my newest Regency To Jilt a Corinthian. This character pairing led to one of those fun instances when the story wrote itself. I mostly hung on for the ride as these two took me on their own personal tour into the eternal war between the sexes.

Book cover for To Jilt a Corinthian by Julian Donner shows young blonde woman reading book with her back turned,Blurb:
Beatrice Allardyce is too busy for something as inconsequential as marriage. And love? A waste of time when there…

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It’s my honor…

Judi Lynn

My wonderful friend, who writes Regency romances under the pen name Julia Donner, agreed to visit my blog today.  She and I are critique partners, and my books would have a lot more flaws if her pen ever ran out of red ink.  I had the joy of getting to beta read her new novel, HOW TO JILT A CORINTHIAN, and found out what a fickle female I truly am.  Up until this book, I was madly devoted to Lord Peregrine Asterly from The Heiress and the Spy.  My husband knows how I felt about Perry and doesn’t get his hackles up about book boyfriends😊  But I hate to admit, that once I read about Joss, I had to move him to number one on my pretend lust list.  Sigh.  What can I say?  I’m not easily swayed, but Joss’ wit and humor nailed him first place.  So…

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Judi Lynn/Judith Post recently wrote a blog about ten steps to make your mystery better and started off with “kill somebody.” I can’t think of any opener to top that, so will just start off with the things I look for and try to incorporate in historical fiction to make it believable and immediate. Because that’s the point, isn’t it? To immerse the reader in a world that has been before.


How often do we see the same man or woman over and over in a story and nothing changes but their eye and hair color? In reality, people don’t look the same, even when they look sort of the same. People are unique. So should characters be. It’s best if they possess the kind of personality you’re drawn to, but perhaps you prefer the challenge of finding a way to make a somewhat off-putting man or woman sympathetic to the reader. But an initial connection must be made from the get-go and that’s kind of difficult if they have the charisma of yesterday’s pancake.

The Four Es of Character Building

Entice, entrigue, engage, and excite. This doesn’t mean making them attractive. It means making them accessible. They should have traits and personalities similar to the human conditions that haven’t changed over the ages. We all have baggage. Give them reasons for reacting the way they do when “showing” their responses, instead of just “telling” or explaining them on the page. Lets’ just get over it. We’re products of our environments until we do something about it. Give your protags some emotional warts so you can show how they’ve grown (removed) them by the end of the book.

Mary Balogh’s more recent regency works are peopled by the challenged. Her characters have been blind, lame, deaf, suffering from disabling war wounds, including PTSD. The ubiquitous fiesty heroines and sardonic men have become tedious, which is why Balogh is considered the comemporary queen of historical regency. Her people have the problems, joys, and triumphs we understand and seek, or find lacking in our own lives. They have some amazing emotional warts to overcome.

The Three Cs

Complication, conflict, conclusion. You better have all of these nailed. Throw in some juicy subplots while you’re at it to pick up the pacing and tension. If dried up of ideas on how to inflict misery on your beloved protags, there’s always a nasty or annoying family member. We’ve all got one.


An opening incident that involves one or both of your main characters must suck us into the storyline, establish the time period, or atmosphere, and most importantly, get the reader invested in the primary charatcers.

More and more we’re seeing historical stories striving to tweak genre themes to fit into a niche market or category. In doing so, the story can become secondary to the magic of creating a period piece or just a dang good story. The deliciousness of sinking into the past can get lost from its primary goal by forcing conformity to a parameter. It’s vitally important to keep the time period immediate, to bring the reader into that world, become saturated by the surroundings. In other words, don’t lose sight of the magic of the site, the joy of being there.

Know your history

 OK, so I have a pet peeve about blatant incongruity, like women in corsets doing impossbile physical feats while wearing what should be more accurately called a torso vice made of whalebone or metal slats. It’s impossible to lounge, leap over small buildings, or mount a horse via stirrup without creating a puncture wound. Regency versions (stays) were not quite as viscious as the later, Victorian versions.

Incorporating the etiquette of the time period makes it real, the necessary realities. Calling cards were vital social accourtrement and came with a precise set of rules. A card corner turned down meant the card was delivered personally. It was the most convenient way for both parties to find out whether or not your company was welcomed, or more kindly told to get lost, when there is no reply to the card.

Men went up stairs before women for many reasons but most often to spare them the display of their ankles. Then there’s my always favorite, wait for it…clear vision in rooms where no candle or lamp is ever lit or extinguished.

Even though strict rules were ingrained, behaviors/actions considered not done often were during the regency where gossip had lethal results. A great deal was written about people like Lady Caroline Lamb (flagrant adultery), Brummell (viciously insulted his prince), Lord Byron (too raunchy to list), and Jane Austen (dared to write and evetually use her real name) to list a few. When the Victorian Age descended, the not done stuff still happened, it just got shoved underground.

So many rules, so little time.

If you would like to read Judi Lynn’s excellent advice, here is the link to her blog:

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML




Overboard Redux Surprise


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Was having a totally yuck day last week. Had to slap myself upside the head and do something about it. That meant getting out of the rut, the house, my bad attitude and going to a movie. The original Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell is one of my all-time favorites. I didn’t expect much out of the new version but never averse to seeing anything that includes Swoozie Kurtz in the cast. She was her usual brilliant self. She can glide though a comic scene with an easy slickness that makes it look so simple, and believe me, comedy never is.

Anna Faris also has a comfortable manner with comedy. I nurtured some reservations about Eugenio Derbez but was pleasantly astonished. He pulled off the revolting rich guy with greasy sleaze. Goldie cannot be disliked, even when a la bitch. There is just something too loveable about her, but Derbez was so off-putting as the spoiled playboy that I doubted he could turn it around, but oh, the relief, when he did.

The thing about comedy is playing it for real. Jerry Lewis was one of the few who could pull off the slapstick nebbish character. Derbez might be able to do it also, because his investment in his supposed children came across as genuine, his grief at leaving them quite touching and tastefully brief. Some of the best comedy manipulates painful contrasts.

On a side note, it would be wonderful if we could change so drastically, which is the premise illustrated in this film. The idea intrigues, especially after the pointed comment is made that it is a rare thing to be offered two chances in life to become different people and learn from the experience. Quite the thought-provoking message.

There were some pleasing differences in the script, some well done reconfigurations not usually found in updated versions/remakes. These twists were worked into the script with ease. The movie had a number of LOL moments and an endearing charm. It held my interest throughout, which is saying a lot, considering my crabby mood. Professional healthcare workers will find faults with some of the nursing portions, which I won’t go into here, and only know from day jobs in that business/vocation for over thirty years.

If asked, I would give this version of Overboard four stars. It accomplished its purpose and got me out of a BA funk. It’s fun if you’re looking for a distraction and a laugh, but what really helped to endure the crappy mood was an Aussie drama series called A Place to Call Home. Huge mistake—yet beneficially soporific—because it sucked me into Netflix bingeland where all blue funks are repressed to nonexistence. To be fair, there is a warning in the blurb that the series is addictive. (Right. That’s like calling meth an aperitif for fentanyl.) Then because I’m an anglophile I’m also in love with Australia by extension. That love affair started when I discovered Nevil Shute’s books, especially A Town Like Alice, aka, Alice Springs.

Some lines in movies and books are never forgotten, like Hedy Lamar’s come-hither “I am Tondaleya” (phonetically, of course, cuz who the hell knows how it’s spelled, but somebody out there in cyberland will tell me), and the ever fabulous “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.” A miniseries version of A Town Like Alice set me up for Aussie admiration with a memorable line loaded with clever irony. Setting, WW II tropical. Picture actor Brian Brown, tanned back exposed, nailed to a wall prior to being whipped for raiding a young Japanese commandant’s hen house to feed starving friends. Brown is asked if he wants anything before punishment is dealt, and Brown, defiant and snarky answers that he’ll have a cold beer and a chicken. And that’s how the Aussies roll.

OK, now I’ve digressed to the point of the entire theme disintegrating. To conclude, I liked the Overboard redo, and if you like Australia and don’t have a lot of time on your hands nor a reasonable amount of self-discipline, do not start A Place to call Home. And watching movie and series, I did get rid of my bad attitude.

Hope you have a great Memorial Day.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML



Too many book boyfriends

Judi Lynn

I think Julia Donner writes the best male characters ever!  I like ALL of her lead characters, but when I read her Regency, THE HEIRESS AND THE SPY–if I wasn’t happily married–I’d have wanted me a clone of Peregrine Asterly.  But doggone it if she didn’t just keep writing more and more wonderful men.  I didn’t see how she could ever outdo herself until I read her historical Western, AVENUE TO HEAVEN, with Jake Williams.  Drool worthy.  Her newest Regency–the 11th in the Friendship Series–is available for pre-sale now and comes out May 1st.  It has all of her usual–wonderful characters, a luscious hero, and wry humor.  So I invited her to be a guest on my blog today for a Q&A  session.  I hope you enjoy it and welcome her.

Q & A for Julia Donner, A Laird’s Promise:

  1. I never thought about being a writer until I…

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A Cover & Austen Reveal


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The brain is a curious hoarder. So many facts and impressions are tucked away in its curly crevices. It was my critique partner (Judy Post/Judi Lynn) who pointed out a recurring theme in my Regency Friendship Series—how women of all classes in the past had limited choices. That didn’t stop the brightest or most stubborn from finding ways around pesky barriers. Austen was one of them.

Historical writing requires constant fact-checking, not only for integrity’s sake, but more importantly for me, keeping it real for the reader. Readers of the regency genre are avid students of the time period. It’s not unusual for them to be acquainted with activities in Parliament for any given Season. An error can catapult a reader from the story. This means that it’s like hitting pay-dirt for this anglophile when a fine work on the time period comes along. I just found Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen at Homeand feel like I’m living high on the hog (or more in line with the time period, in transports) as I read every delicious line.

Happily for me, there’s lots left of the book to relish, and what delights me most is the author’s learned opinion of what drove Austen. Jane, her sister and her mother lived separately from the brothers. This always confused me. Two brothers were wealthy through inheritances. One brother was stingy and another provided assistance, but it was Jane’s insistence on independence and her reasons for it that are illuminated in this book. As I read this intimate accounting of Austen’s life, so much about her emerges.

As writers, we need time alone to do the work. Concurrently, we must have support from either spouses, family or friends, especially friends who write. Jane came from a “middling” household where there wasn’t a great deal of money, and both her parents worked tirelessly to better the finances. Although she came from gentility and there were servants, the females were expected to pick up the slack around the house. The boys would be expected to spend their time with studies. It must have been a constant struggle for Jane to find time to write. There is also the hint of resentment, a vague sort of disappointment that makes one wonder if her brothers might have acted on this due to their lackluster writing attempts and Jane’s subtle brilliance.

The more I read Worsley’s book, the more my ideas about Austen become clearer, mainly because I’ve encountered her barriers. My first husband threw every kind of stumbling block in my way, but my late husband, John, was the opposite. When I sat down in front of the computer, no one was permitted to interrupt. Phone calls, anybody at the door, were put off. No disturbances allowed, a constant wall of protection and support with the exception of quietly setting a cup of coffee on the desk. He read everything and acted amazed and excited. He never boasted about me in public, knowing that would make me uncomfortable, but constantly talked me up to his/our children. Jane knew she would never have this from a spouse and she had marriage offers to decline. Most of her male contemporaries would not have allowed her to write and certainly not seek publication.

Regarding this cover reveal, A Laird’s Promise is about Caroline, who has all options, choices and dreams removed or placed out of reach. All she has is her pride and the determination to protect her fragile-hearted mother. And Alisdair, who must make a choice for the sake of the many, and does so knowing that it will break both their hearts.

The presale starts today, April 20, with the release date of May 01.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML



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