Happy Birthday, Ed McBain

Ed McBain was born Salvatore Albert Lombino. In 1952, he legally changed his name to Evan Hunter.

As an author and screenwriter, he wrote under a number of pen names, most notably Ed McBain which he used for most of his crime fiction.

The other pseudonyms he used include John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, and Richard Marsten.

His 87th Precinct novels were made into movies and a television series. Those books became the foundation of the police procedural genre.

You can learn more about Evan Hunter aka Ed McBain at his Wikipedia page.

If you want to discover his 87th Precinct novels, grab a copy of Ed McBain Books in Order by Book List Guru. This Kindle book is on Kindle Unlimited, or buy it for only 99¢. It's a comprehensive list of just about all of the works by Ed McBain.

Mystery and My Writing

Until I discovered romance, I'd planned to be a mystery author. I still love mystery, but most mysteries in the old days had very little to offer in the way of romance. Romance in a mystery meant sex without commitment, and all of it was sex from a man's viewpoint which meant without emotion.

The 87th Precinct novels were a bit different in that Steve Carella was in love with Teddy, his wife who happened to be deaf. McBain was ahead of his time with a love relationship, a woman character who was deaf, and several other aspects uncommon to genre fiction then.

In the last few years, I've begun weaving mystery into some of my romance novels.

Recently I sold video game rights to 2 of my novels, The Key To Kristina, a mystery romance featuring a Quest, and Old Enough To Know Better, a romance, not a mystery,  between an older woman and a younger man. 

The huge tech company that bought the rights will be turning each into a video game somewhat like a "choose your own adventure." I'm excited because they already have a worldwide audience for their games. 

If you're interested in seeing what intrigued the tech company, you're in luck. Old Enough To Know Better is featured in my Reader Friends Newsletter todayIt's on sale for only 99¢ until midnight CDT on October 18.

I send my free newsletter each month (except for this summer which had too many family emergencies). 

In my newsletter I offer a free ebook and sale books from me and some of my friends. This newsletter which goes out Oct. 16, Saturday, has Just One Look as a free ebook for subscribers.

Takeaway Truth

Are you a subscriber? If not, what are you waiting for?

Sand, Salt, and Spirits by Kathryn Hills

I love it when a friend has a new book so I'm happy to welcome Kathryn Hills, the author of Sand, Salt, and Spirits. She's included an excerpt so you can get a taste of this delightful romance.

A Little Bit About Kathryn Hills

The rich history and many mysteries of New England are the perfect backdrop for many of KATHRYN’s books. 

Winding roads lined by old stone walls, forgotten cemeteries, grand homes with shadowy pasts...all sparks for her imagination. 

Whether it’s a quaint seaside town or the vibrant city of Boston, it’s easy for this “hauntingly romantic” author to envision the past mingling with the present. No surprise, some of Kathryn’s favorite stories include ghosts! Sprinkle in some magic, and you’re off on a great adventure.

When not writing, this best-selling author is reading, researching, gardening, or cooking up something special in her chaotic kitchen.

She shares her colonial home in the north woods with those she loves most – her wonderful husband, daughter, and three crazy dogs.

Find Kathryn Hills Online

Discover Sand, Salt, and Spirits

Can a weekend visit to Last Chance Beach undo decades of brokenhearted memories? Conjuring up some island magic might just be their trick. Or treat!

Kyle Worthington hasn’t returned to Last Chance Beach in years. He’s worked hard to prove himself to his overbearing father and the rest of the world. Now it’s October, and the vacation island paradise is celebrating the season with an island-wide Fall Festival. Family obligation demands he participate. Everyone will be there, including the ghost that haunts his grandparents’ B&B.

The running joke that Kyle never sticks with anything—not a career or a woman—will continue to plague him. Unless he brings a knockout of a date to the weekend-long event. Cassandra Corwin fits the bill perfectly. Kyle’s had his eye on his brilliant, beautiful coworker since day one. But Cassie is an enigma, a loner. There’s no room in her life for anyone except Odin, her goofball of a Great Dane.

Will this woman of mystery agree to Kyle’s scheme to impress his family? Can two near strangers from opposite worlds survive family gatherings and back-to-back Halloween events while pretending to be a couple? Kyle’s father seems hell-bent on derailing everything before they even shout “Boo!” Or will the island’s magic prove too powerful for them to resist?

Excerpt, Sand, Salt, and Spirits by Kathryn Hills©2021

Kyle held his breath, as he pushed through the back door and went around to meet her by her car. Game on, buddy. Pull yourself together.

Yet a shockwave rippled through him at the sight of her. Black hair piled on her head in a messy, windblown bun. Short, sexy, red sundress. Her legs were bare. Pale yet gorgeous and toned. On her feet? High-top red sneakers with white laces.

Cassie dropped big, round sunglasses into place on her nose, and she grinned at him. “I made it.”

The huge dog—about the size of a pony—glanced his way but didn’t move. As if to say, “I am unimpressed by your appearance, human.”

“Yes, you made it.” He forced a pleasant smile though inside he was in full, freak out mode.

“This is Odin,” Cassie explained, still smiling. “Odin…say hello to Kyle.”

The Great Dane bared big white teeth on command in a ridiculous smile-esque maneuver. Yet still he didn’t budge from his seat.

“That’s his only trick,” Cassie offered with a chuckle. “We don’t ask much of each other.”

Kyle’s brain screamed, okay…time to fess up. 

“Cassie…before we go any further, there’s something I must confess. Please don’t get mad.”

Her smile evaporated. “Oh, that’s never good.”

“Hang on…it’s not good, but it’s not terrible, either.”

“Yet to be determined.” She crossed her arms and leveled a hard stare on him. “Spill it.”

“I may have…Okay, I definitely said…you’re my girlfriend.” Kyle cringed in anticipation of her reaction.

“You said what?” Her voice spiked.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”

“A death wish?” she accused with a scowl. “Who did you say this to?”

“Not many. Just my sister, Kat.” He swallowed hard and took a step back. “She told my grandmother.”

“No?” Her tone went dangerously low.

“…who then told my mother when she called to say she wasn’t sure if she was coming. Who, in turn, told Kendall, my younger sister. Who really isn’t coming, by the way. So, that part’s good.”

“Is it now, Kyle? Really?” Cassie demanded with an infuriated huff.

“Yeah…except Kat told her boyfriend, Ben. Now I’m done. I think. Maybe not. News travels fast on Last Chance Beach.”

Her dark eyes pinned him in place. “So…basically…you’re telling me everyone in your family and on this island thinks we’re a couple?”

Kyle gave her a small, shrugging wince. “Yeah…pretty much.”

Cassie glared at him. Lips pinched together. The tiny muscle alongside one eye quivering. “I cannot believe this.” She started pacing alongside her car. “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a vacation? A little time off? A day, even, just for me? This was a gift to me. A chance to unwind after all the work I’ve been drowning in.”

“I’m sorry. Again. I didn’t mean to screw up your vacation. I don’t know what came over me. It just happened. Kat was bragging about all the great things in her life. She literally walked in with an engagement ring the size of a bus on her finger. Gran was gushing. Ben had just proposed. She got a promotion. Ben is expanding his business, yada, yada…My brain blew a gasket.”

“So? Who cares, Kyle? It’s family. Not like you’re competing with anyone.”

Kyle dropped his head in shame. “You don’t know my family,” he admitted.

Gotta Get This Romance. Right?

Lucky you! Sand, Salt, and Spirits is only 99¢ from now until Halloween. It's available at many retailers. 

If you're an Amazon only shopper, click here.

Takeaway Truth

Grab your copy of Sand, Salt, and Spirits, and check out the other wonderful books in the Last Chance Beach Romance series too.

Review: Thirty-Two Going On Spinster by Becky Monson

Looking for a book to make you chuckle? Try Thirty-Two Going on Spinster (Spinster Series, Book 1).


Julia Dorning is a spinster, or at least on the road to becoming one. She has no social life, hates her career, and lives in her parent's basement with her cat, Charlie.

With the arrival of Jared Moody, the new hire at work, Julia's mundane life is suddenly turned upside down. Her instant (and totally ridiculous) crush on the new guy causes Julia to finally make some long-overdue changes, in hopes to find a life that includes more than baking and hanging out with Charlie.

But when the biggest and most unexpected change comes, will the new and improved Julia be able to overcome it? Or will she go back to her spinster ways?

My Thoughts

I needed a lighthearted romance to read. Know what I mean? Sometimes you just need something that will make you smile. Thirty-Two Going on Spinster was perfect for that.

Life didn't turn out the way Julia Dorning thought it would, and she's fighting the idea that she's a spinster—a word more commonly seen in historical novels. Julia resolves to get out of her rut rather than embrace her spinsterhood. 

That's when Life throws her a bone—or a challenge if you will—in the form of Jared Moody. The result is a funny chick lit romance that made me smile. In fact, I'm still smiling as I write this.

Takeaway Truth

Take a break from life challenges. Read Thirty-Two Going on Spinster. I think you'll find it delightful.

Post Script

*Wink. Wink.* Maybe try one of my chick lit romantic comedies too. They're all on Kindle Unlimited. Here are 4 that might appeal to you:

Whatever you choose to read, enjoy, and tell your friends about the books so they can find the pleasure reading offers.  

Always Compare Yourself To...

I heard something last week that I want to pass along to you.

I can't remember where I heard it. I was passing through the living room, and the TV was on. The words kind of glanced off me.

However, I must have internalized them because they popped into my head later.

Never compare yourself to anyone but yourself.

Wow! Powerful words, aren't they?

We're always told don't compare yourself to someone else because you'll always be disappointed. That's true if you're comparing careers, achievements, children's achievements, homes, cars, or whatever. There will aways be someone who has bigger, better, shinier whatever than you.

But we all play the comparison game from time to time, don't we? That's an evil game you can never win.

But, wait. Comparing yourself to yourself is a game you can win. It's a comparison you can easily make and come out ahead. Comparing who you are to the you of a week, month, or year ago probably gives you a win because most of us strive to do better—be better.

Takeaway Truth

So go ahead. Compare yourself to yourself. In fact, make it an affirmation to chant. "I compare myself only to myself." That's something that will empower you.

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Saturday Share: Pineapple Pound Cake

Today's recipe is for a delicious cake you can make Sunday and have on hand for a fabulous dessert every night this next week for dinner.

It's easy to make so don't be discouraged by the list of ingredients or the odd instructions to place it in a cold oven and then set the temperature.

Pineapple Pound Cake

Before you start, set out the butter and shortening in advance so they will soften to room temperature.

This makes a heavy cake so be sure you check it for doneness when the time is up. You can glaze the cake with Pineapple Glaze (recipe follows) or dust powdered sugar over it.


1/2 cup Crisco or other shortening
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups self-rising flour (or 3 cups all-purpose flour + 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup crushed pineapple including the liquid (I use Dole Pineapple in 100% juice, but if you want organic pineapple, you can find it on Amazon.)


1. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
2. Cream the shortening, butter, and sugar with a mixer 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each egg.
4. If using all-purpose flour, sift it, the baking powder, and the salt together. If using self-rising flour, sift it first then measure it.
5. Combine the flour with the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk.
6. Mix in the pineapple at slow speed then add the vamilla.
7. Pour batter into the bundt pan, smooth the top.
8. Place in a cold oven. Set the temperature at 325 degrees F. and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
9. When done, remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Then invert onto a serving plate.

Pineapple Glaze

2 cups of sifted powdered sugar
Juice from the pineapple

Whisk in the pineapple juice until the glaze is a pourable consistency. Spoon over the cake so it drizzles down.

Takeaway Truth

Serve and collect compliments.

7 Wonderful Things About Autumn

Ah, Autumn! How delightful to have brisk air on sunny days and cool nights.

I like October because it's the month the seasons begin their transformation here in Texas.

From long, hot summer days to cooler, shorter days, we breathe a sigh of relief as we luxuriate in the shorter days and welcome the cool nights.

Raquel Franco said, "And then the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep, and autumn was awakened."

That's exactly how it seems this first morning in October.

I like the changing of the seasons. It's kind of like a mini-New Year's Day. As the season changes, I embrace the idea of wiping away mistakes and failures—without waiting for New Year's Day.

7 Wonderful Things About Autumn

1. Getaway. If you're a parent, chances are your children have been back in school 6-8 weeks. Now is the perfect time for a romantic getaway because school is established, and grandparents will enjoy a chance to take care of the munchkins. Get vaccinated, mask up, and escape for a few days.

2. Plan the holidays. Now is the time to plan your holidays from soup to nuts. Take a weekend or two and get started. to plan your holiday. Bring back the art of sending real Christmas cards by mail. Put together your Christmas card list now and print address labels for them. Be sure and save the file, and you’ll only have to edit it in the future.

3. Plan an indoor picnic.  Summers here make picnics problematic because of the heat. Treat everyone to an indoor picnic for a change with paper plates and disposable cups. Spread a cloth, provide a sumptuous meal, and have some fun music. Best of all? No dishes to wash.

4. Collect autumn leaves. Pick up some of the beautiful red, gold, and orange autumn leaves. Take photos and post them online. Get some really big ones and place them on a pretty tray as a centerpiece on your coffee table.

5. Smores. Yes, cool nights are perfect to break out the chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. If you’re lucky enough to have a fire pit in the backyard or a fireplace, learn how to make Smores the old-fashioned way. Or, just pop the treat into the microwave or oven and heat until melted and gooey. Delicious.

6. Enjoy a fire in the hearth. There’s something primitively enjoyable about a fire in the hearth. If you're lucky enough to have a fireplace, use it. Make the lighting of the first fire of the season an occasion.

7. Pre-Christmas decoration checkup. Break out the decorations now and go through them. Do the repairs now rather than when it’s time to put the decorations up. Make a list of what replacements you might need. Getting on jump on the frenzied holidays now will mean less work in December and more time to enjoy the journey.

Takeaway Truth

Most of all, enjoy the sunny days and cool nights. Fall in love with Autumn. Fall in love for real. If you're already in love, celebrate that fact.

It's Autumn when Kristina embarks on her Quest, accompanied by Wyatt, a man her father designated as her protector.

A suspicious death, and an inheritance. A key and a clue lead to a Quest that becomes the adventure of a lifetime!

Now on Kindle Unlimited, The Key To Kristina is Free Read for subscribers, or $3.99 to buy and keep forever.

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You Might Live in Texas If

Jeff Foxworthy, famous for his "You might be a redneck" routine also does a comedy bit about folks from the Lone Star State.

Sometimes, like when I go to the small town near our house in the country, I think I get humorous material Mr. Foxworthy might like to have.

For instance, Jeff Foxworthy said, "If someone in a Lowe's store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you may live in Texas."

OMG! How true—and it applies to big stores in big cities and small stores in small towns.

Humor Comes From Life

We were buying groceries in the small store near our country house. I said to Darling Husband, "I wonder where the bread is."

A shopper pushing a cart past said, "It's in the far corner of the store just pass the ice cream. Unless you want bread like canned biscuits, and they're in the dairy case just pass the rack of high school tee shirts."

When I thanked her, she beamed and said, "You're welcome, dear."

Later, at the checkout stand, the cashier commented on our groceries. "What kind of lettuce is that?"

Me: "Romaine."

"I've never had that before. Is it any good?"

After I told her the attributes of romaine over iceberg, she and the high school girl bagging our groceries told us we should get the Butter Crunch Blue Bell Ice Cream because it was to die for. (I later discovered they were right.)

Yes, they still bag groceries there!

As we were leaving, she told us to try the baked potatoes stuffed with chopped brisket at the local barbeque joint because it too was to die for. She was absolutely correct.

The giant Idaho spud with BBQ brisket piled on the hot fluffy potato was mouth-watering delicious and large enough to feed 3 hungry people!

Weather in the Lone Star State

Jeff Foxworthy said, "If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you may live in Texas."

Yep. I've done that, and so have most Texans I know. Autumn weather is arriving as I write this. I'm wearing shorts and a long-sleeved tee shirt. I guess when you're accustomed to 90+ degree temperatures and high humidity, the brisk autumn breeze chills.

So long sleeves and shorts kind of balance each other. If it were cooler, I'd probably pull a sweat jacket on too.

Long Distances

I say if vacation means going on a car trip that lasts 6 to 8 hours or more, you may live in Texas.

We went to Midland last year. That's in far west Texas. We left in the morning and didn't arrive until evening. Never left Texas.

We measure distances in time, not in miles, and that's another aspect of living in Texas.

Jeff Foxworthy said, "If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you may live in Texas."

Guilty. You never know when you might need them for your own vehicle or someone else's.

Traveling takes time in Texas. The speed limit may be 55 mph, but most drivers assume that's a guideline to be followed if you see a police cruiser. 

If you go 55 on most highways, everyone else will be passing you as if you're standing still. Distances are so vast that some parts of the Interstates have speed limits set at 85.

Takeaway Truth

I like how Mr. Foxworthy ends his routine. "If you actually understand these jokes, and share them with all your Texas friends, you definitely live in Texas."

(Or you want to. Just saying.)

Hang on to your Stetson as the fun and games begin in a sexy romantic comedy hotter than a bowl of Texas chili!

The Trouble With Love
, a romance that's as big as Texas, is a Kindle Unlimited FREE read.

Or buy this rompin' stompin' romance for $4.99 and put it on your keeper shelf.

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