Patricia Stoltey Interview

I’m thrilled to interview Patricia Stoltey on my blog this week. Patricia’s book, Dead Wrong (2014, Five Star Publishing), was a Finalist in the 2015 Colorado Book Awards, and it is a suspenseful thriller that I highly recommend. She has a new book, Wishing Caswell Dead, that will be released December 20, 2017, and I can’t wait to read it. Welcome, Patricia!

Please tell us about yourself:

First, Margaret, let me thank you for inviting me to participate in an interview for your blog. It’s always a pleasure to work with my Colorado author friends.

I qualify as a late bloomer when it comes to writing. I dabbled a lot during my “working in the real world” years, attended mystery fan conventions, took writing courses, and dreamed, but the only thing I had published during all that time was a humor essay on ham radio (“What’s a Nice Lady Like Me Doing in a Shack Like This?”) and a books-on-tape version of a pretty bad thriller about truckers and unions (The Troubleshooter) my brother and I wrote back in the 80s.

Illinois was where I grew up, but I also spent some years in Muncie, Indiana where Ball State University started the Magna cum Murder mystery fan convention. Then off to a couple of years in the South of France (an amazing experience), eleven years in south Florida (hot and sticky), and finally retired to Colorado (a writer’s paradise).

Once my husband and I got the travel bug out of our systems, I got serious about writing. A novel writing class was the beginning, followed by a critique group, joining Northern Colorado Writers and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and finally, attending the Colorado Gold Conference where I signed up for a critique workshop moderated by Five Star editor Deni Dietz. The rest is history.

Let’s talk about your new book. 

Wishing Caswell Dead is the novel of my heart. Even if I never get another book published, I’ll be content, knowing this one finally found its way into the world. It took a long time. I wrote the first draft back in 2006-2007.

The novel is the story about some of the people who end up in the Village of Sangamon on the day Caswell Proud is murdered, how each of those folks came to be there, and how their lives were impacted by the evil that lurked in the village. Caswell’s younger sister Jo Mae is a central character, and more than anyone else, wishes Caswell dead. The short synopsis on the Amazon page reads like this:

“In the early 1800s in a village on the Illinois frontier, young Jo Mae Proud wishes her cruel brother dead. Forced into prostitution by Caswell, Jo Mae discovers she is pregnant and vows to escape. When Caswell is injured by a near lightning hit, he becomes more dangerous and more hated. The flawed residents of the Village of Sangamon harbor many secrets. Caswell knows them all. Will he tell? Jo Mae runs away and eventually finds shelter with Fish, the old Kickapoo Indian who camps by the river. Wishing Caswell Dead is a historical mystery about the evil that hides within a village, one girl who is determined to save herself and her child, and a violent murder no one wants to solve”–

How did you go about your research for writing a story set in the 1800’s?

It helped that I grew up in central Illinois where the book is set, so I had a little bit of Illinois history in my memory bank to give me a running start. There is even a detailed local history of a small town that’s located just about where the Village of Sangamon would be if it was a real place. Once I started reading, I almost couldn’t stop. Did you know that part of the Mississippi River ran backward right after the main New Madrid earthquake struck in 1811? You learn the coolest stuff when you start researching for a historical novel.

To fine tune my knowledge of the land, occupants, tools, and events, I visited the Museum of the Grand Prairie in Champaign County, IL (  and reviewed everything I’d ever learned about New Salem, IL, including when Abe Lincoln ran the little post office there.

Luckily, when Five Star asked for the sources for my information, I had every book title and author written down with my notes plus all the URLs for websites I’d consulted. I have everything carefully filed for future reference…just in case I decide to write a sequel someday.

Being a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards is quite an achievement. What has helped you most with the art and craft of fiction writing? Do you have recommendations for aspiring writers who wish to publish their work?

You know, I felt so prepared and so confident when I wrote my first novel because of all the reading I’d done, the classes and workshops I’d attended. When The Prairie Grass Murders was accepted by Five Star and I sent in my completed manuscript, I knew it was clean and ready to publish.

Can you imagine how I felt when I received the manuscript back from my new editor with corrections and comments and requests for changes on every page? Almost every paragraph? First I felt shocked, then anger, and finally, after reviewing every one of those comments and requests in detail, I felt embarrassed. I still had a lot to learn.

I had two choices. Quibble about everything and be a difficult author (and possibly lose my contract) … or put my nose to the grindstone and do the work. I chose to do the work. My editor, Deni Dietz with Five Star, taught me more about writing through the editing process of my four books that I learned in all those years of reading and attending classes.

Many of today’s writers want to shorten the process from writing to publication, and I don’t blame them. But each writer should be aware that we’re not our own best editors, and our critique groups probably can’t do the job an expert editor can. For the self-pubbing group, I recommend hiring a professional editor before publishing.

For those, like me, who prefer to stick with the traditional path because it’s easier on the time requirements and the wallet, be prepared for the worst when those editor letters arrive. If you managed to submit a clean manuscript the first time around, you’re a genius and I’m jealous. If you have a lot to work on, consider it a learning experience and be grateful for those wonderful editors.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Patricia! Please find contact details below in Patricia Stoltey’s Bio.



Patricia lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Katie Cat who keeps stealing her chair, and Sassy Dog who thinks watching Facebook dog videos is the only reason to turn on a computer. When she’s not writing, she gardens, crochets, and does a lot of lollygagging. Learn more about her at her website/blog (, Goodreads ( Facebook (, and Twitter ( Wishing Caswell Dead is available for pre-order at ( and other online booksellers.


Leeann Betts – In Search of Christmas Past

I’m pleased to host mystery writer Leeann Betts on my blog. Here’s a spotlight for her new book.


In Search of Christmas Past


This romantic suspense set in the mountains of Colorado came to me a couple of years ago when I was struggling to develop an idea for a novella. At that point, I’d never written a novella and only read a few of them, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I wanted to write about a place I love—the mountains—and a horse stable I’d visited in Estes Park, Colorado.


The characters came to me one day when I was in a WalMart parking lot. I saw gulls soaring overhead and landing to eat a discarded hamburger when the idea came to me that those gulls—which I called seagulls because I’m an East Coast girl—must have been blown really far off course to end up in Colorado. I mean, any coast is more than 1500 miles away from here.


So I went home and did some research, and I found out they aren’t seagulls—they’re just plain gulls. And despite my wanting to connect them with the ocean, they’ve never been there and likely never will.


Intrigued, I thought about gulls and mountains and horse stables and came up with this story.


I love these characters because they reflect me at different times in my life. As a teen, I was certain I knew exactly what I would be when I grew up—a veterinarian. Well, that didn’t happen, so I left college and worked for almost 20 years before deciding I could get ahead faster with a degree, so I did business and accounting since I was already working in that field. Then I decided to leave that career and go to veterinarian assistant, but God had other ideas. Instead, I moved to Colorado to wed a man I met online. But that’s a story for another day.


Grace and Luke also mirror my faith walk. Just like Grace, I’ve been angry at God over the years. I blamed Him for not answering my prayers to heal my mother, at a time in my life when I wasn’t even following Him. And I’ve also experienced a loving, growing relationship just like Luke does, and I’ve been through the mountains and valleys of everything in between.


The good news is that just like with Grace and Luke, God isn’t done with any one of us yet. We just need to hang in there, get around the next corner, and then be able to see what He has in store.


Here’s a sneak peek at In Search of Christmas Past:

At the sound of tires crunching on the snow, Luke Fisher looked up from the stake he was using to anchor an errant sapling into an upright position. A shiny red sports car eased through the gate and into the single cleared space in the parking lot. The farm didn’t open for five days, and he hadn’t gotten around to plowing since the storm on Saturday.

Luke focused on the task. Nobody wanted to buy a crooked Christmas tree. The driver was probably just lost and using the lot to turn around. He pulled the cord taut and checked the rubber collar around the trunk of the baby tree. Satisfied, he stood. The driver exited the car and pulled her coat collar around her ears. Her brown hair escaped her knit cap, and the ends danced around her face.

Luke walked toward her, feeling underdressed, like a poor country cousin, compared to his visitor. Her leather jacket hugged her form as though made especially for her. He glanced at his flannel garment hanging open over a t-shirt and jeans and groaned inwardly. This was no way to make an impression on a customer. Or a woman as lovely as she.

He peeled off his gloves and extended his right hand. “Welcome to Valley View Nursery. We don’t open for a few days.”

She returned the gesture in a solid handshake. Not too strong, no shrinking violet. He liked that in a woman.

She glanced at the trees around them. “I’m looking for something.”

“Anything in particular?”

“A tree.”

“Like I said, we aren’t open yet, but I guess I could sell you a tree if you find the one you want.” He eyed the car. “Planning to carry it back on that?”

She studied the acres of trees covering the hillside. “I don’t want to buy a tree. I’m looking for something on a bough.”

Luke offered a smile. “As you can see, we have lots to choose from.  And if you don’t see the one you want, we have about a thousand acres more.”

She stared at him, one eyebrow lifted.

Luke shoved his hands in his pockets. Great, she thought he was a babbling idiot. Best to keep his mouth shut.

She sauntered down the first row toward a tree all dolled up in Christmas ornaments, and Luke followed close behind. The frozen ground crunched beneath their feet and the breeze carried their breath off in clouds.

She pointed to the Colorado spruce. “Maybe this one.”

Luke waited near her as she scanned the branches. After a minute or so, she turned. “Any other decorations?”

“Sure.” Hitching his head to one side, he walked away in the opposite direction. He paused at a clearing between the spruces and the scotch pines. “There.”

He loved the effect this section of the farm had on people, and he wasn’t disappointed by her response. In typical fashion, her eyes grew large and her mouth formed an “o” as she stared at the eight trees, bedecked in hundreds of ornaments and lights. She stepped closer to the first tree and craned her neck to survey the twelve-foot pine from top to bottom.

At his laugh, she glared at him. “What’s so funny?”

He sobered. “I love it when folks see these trees for the first time. Doesn’t matter how old or young they are, same look on their faces.”

“How nice.” She turned on her heel and resumed her study.

Or maybe that wasn’t the right word. Not so much study as search.

“Are you looking for a particular ornament?”

She kept her eyes on the tree. “Something to do with the seas.”

Luke followed her gaze. “Seas?”

She pulled a piece of paper from her pocket. “Right, and something about being lost.”


She returned the note to her pocket. “Is there an echo here?” Tilting her head to one side, she smiled in his direction. “Nope. No echo.”

Was she flirting with him? Or taunting him? “Think I’ll sit in my trailer and get something hot to drink.”

She touched his forearm. “I’m sorry. I-I need your help.”

He paused and looked off at the mountains in the distance as if considering her words. Which he wasn’t. The jolt of electricity at her touch warmed him all the way to his heart, and he never wanted her to remove her hand. Years had gone by since a woman said she needed his help. Not since his mother—and never Melanie. No, she showed him what she needed. Hundred percent diva, that woman. She didn’t need him. She needed money to support her in the lifestyle to which she wanted to become accustomed.

And that wasn’t him.

Surprising himself, he nodded. “I’ll help. Tell me again what you’re looking for.”

When she spoke, the wind carried the vapor toward the nearest tree like a wraith. “Seas. Lost. That’s all I know.”



About In Search of Christmas Past

Grace Bellows, a senior in college, receives a Christmas card one month after her grandmother’s death, where her beloved Grammie challenges her to an old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Raised by her grandmother after her parents’ death in a car accident when she was eight, Grace has lived a jet-setter lifestyle with her wealthy grandmother. Now all she wants is to settle down and have a normal life.


Luke Fisher manages his family’s Christmas tree farm out of a sense of loyalty to his deceased mother because she gave up her dreams of being an attorney. He doesn’t want to live with any regrets and longs to escape the confines of loyalty to live a life of adventure in the real world.


Can Grace and Luke solve the clues and uncover the truth about their real feelings, or will the tension and their differences in goals and faith drive them apart?



About Leeann:

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released six titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Petty Cash releasing in December. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at or follow Leeann at All books are available on in digital and print, and at in digital format.


Website: Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.




Books: Amazon  and Smashwords:





Interview with Karen Docter

I recently met Karen Docter, Membership Chair of Sisters in Crime Colorado. Karen is also a writer, and I’m delighted to host her on my blog today.


Welcome, Karen! Please tell us about your books.

Karen: It was great to meet you as well. I enjoy meeting people who love writing and reading as much as I do. Thank you so much for letting me visit with you and your readers.

I write both contemporary romance as Karen Docter (Romance…with a Kick) and romantic suspense as K.L. Docter, (Women hunted by killers…Men who’d die to protect them). My taglines say it all. Basically, I have a split personality.

Some mornings, I wake up and want to work on a lighthearted and sexy story. When I want to write on the dark side, K.L. comes out to play. Light or dark, it’s all about romance for me. I love HEA (Happily Ever After) stories.

I am an Indie author with four books available in digital and paperback formats. (All of my books are stand alone novels, no cliffhangers.)


Here is a description of Killing Secrets, Thorne’s Thorns Book 1, a psychological, romantic suspense novel:


Some secrets are better left dead.


Rachel James’ ex-husband is released from prison determined to reclaim her and her little girl — the child is his key to controlling the James fortune. Frightened, Rachel flees to Denver with the child who hasn’t uttered a word since her daddy went to prison.

Contractor Patrick Thorne wants nothing to do with another of his parents’ charity cases. He failed his own wife so abysmally she took her own life as well as his unborn son’s. After two years, it’s time to concentrate on the bid he’s won and the saboteur trying to destroy his construction firm.

There is no room for trust in either of their hearts. But trust is all that will untangle the secrets that dominate their lives, free a little girl of her silent prison, and save them all from a serial killer who stands too close.


Do you have a work in progress that you can tell us about?

Karen: I was working on the second novel in the Thorne’s Thorns series, Dead Ringer, but I’ve been struggling with life events that are interfering with my writing time. So I’ve turned my attention completely to the second book in my True Love In Uniform series, Cop Crashes the Wedding. It’s a shorter book (around 60,000 words) and lighthearted is what is working for me right now. I have to follow my muse! J


How do you come up with your ideas?

Karen: Everywhere! I’m an avid observer. I might see someone with an interesting mannerism that triggers a character. Articles. News. Social media. I’m a title theme junkie. A title for a book will pop into my head from something I see or write and I know what the book will be about even before I populate it with characters. I have a full spreadsheet and it’s expanding all the time because ideas won’t leave me alone until I write them down. I can’t write a story until the title is firmly entrenched in my mind either. It keeps me on track.

My True Love in Uniform series came about because of a late night brainstorming session with one of my critique partners. I already had the romantic suspense, Thorne’s Thorns series, started and was having a hard time pinning down a contemporary series. My wonderful friend, who is always there to poke my brainpan, told me, “You love cops. Write cops.” An hour later, I not only had the True Love in Uniform series sketched out but I had 24 book titles. I have at least that many suspense titles on my spreadsheet so I currently have more than 50 books to write. Now, if I could just write faster than the speed of snail…or in my sleep.

I mentioned the Thorne’s Thorns series. The first book, Killing Secrets, popped into my head after I read an article about a con artist who’d married half a dozen women. My story isn’t about polygamy, but the heroine’s ex-husband is a con artist. When I started writing Patrick and Rachel’s story, I hadn’t thought in terms of a series. But I fell in love with Patrick’s five sexy, foster brothers and decided they all needed their own stories. And, yes, I have their titles, too. J


What new release by you should we watch for next?

Definitely watch for Cop Crashes the Wedding. I’m aiming for a summer release although it might be late summer since my youngest is getting married next month and I’m remodeling the house. Can we say, “Over extended”? When it’s done, I’ll return to Dead Ringer. I should be ready by then to have a serial killer running around my head again. If not, I’ve already started preliminary planning on a couple more cop books.

Thanks again for allowing me to visit with you. It’s been fun to share. Happy Reading!



Bio: Bestselling Author Karen Docter writes contemporary romance. When she feels the need to feed the dark side, she writes intense suspense thrillers as K.L. Docter. She’s an award-winning author, a four-time Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist, and won the coveted Kiss of Death Romance Writers Daphne du Maurier Award Category (Series) Romantic Mystery Unpublished division.
Connect with Karen:

Amazon Author Link:

Twitter: @KarenDocter
Karen Docter FB:

K.L. Docter FB:



Killing Secrets:




“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Reach the skiesWhen I was about to leave my secure position working as a hospital employee to launch a business of my own, a friend gave me this quote scribbled on a scrap of paper. I posted it on the bulletin board of my new office and read it almost every morning. Ten years later, I sold that business and transferred that yellowed scrap of paper to my bulletin board in my home office. I dreamed that I could write a novel, and I wrote five during the next decade. Killing Trail will be the first one published.

What is your dream? What’s your inspiration?

The Artist Date

Last week I wrote about morning pages; this week I’d like to address the artist date. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron describes the artist date as a weekly block of time dedicated to nurturing your creative consciousness, also known as your inner artist. During this time, you’re to spend quality time alone doing something you enjoy. It might be seeing a movie, visiting a museum or gallery, or—in my case—taking a long walk with nature. These two pieces, morning pages and the artist date, provide the basic tools for creative recovery or for maintaining creative flow.

Bridge ViewThe artist date fills our creative well. Choose the kind of activity that speaks to you and fills you with the sensory images you need. Hiking works well for me since I write mysteries set in the Colorado mountains; it also raises my spirits and gives me some much needed exercise after spending long days at the keyboard.

While writing this blog, I realized that I’ve been neglecting my inner artist lately. Better take that girl on a date.

Please join me here for musings about life, writing, and the writing life.

Morning Pages

SunriseIn The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron suggests that people write morning pages to unblock creative flow. Morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing. They are unplanned and uncensored meanderings designed to drain your brain of unnecessary chatter, and they are advised for all creative types, not just writers. You’re not supposed to focus on the writing or try to create a masterpiece. Instead, you may let your thoughts spill out on the page in fragments or one long run-on sentence. Punctuation, mechanics, and spelling don’t matter. Morning pages might result in negative, whiny, self-pitying tirades that bring to mind the verse: Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, throw my journal in the lake. But that’s good. Don’t let the negative censor inside you influence what you write. Go beyond your conscious thought. Eventually, when you begin to write in the morning, you might ask yourself a question about a problem or concern and see if an answer or insight spills out. Please look to Julia Cameron’s books for more information and guidance.

I’ve used morning pages many times throughout the years to unblock creative flow, wake myself up to what’s bothering me, or release negativity. If you’re feeling stuck on a project or in life, you might want to give them a try. Do them as soon as you awaken and write as fast as possible. Don’t even think about what you’re going to write. Just sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and write!

Please join me here for notes on life, writing, and the writing life.