New Environmental Thriller

At the apex of his career, Doug Diehl becomes superintendent of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, and just in time to watch Congress drill it out from under him. The largest refuge in the country. The largest terrestrial megafauna migration on the planet. Turned into an oil patch, and on his watch. And now he has to live with it. If he can.

This debut novel by Boise author Todd Graeff promises to be a page-turner: Rick Arranger of Limberlost Press says, “I don’t know of another environmental novel since Ed Abbey’s that can get your hackles up the way Good as Given does.”

If this is your cup of tea, find Good as Given, with it’s unmistakable cover art by Ward Hooper, at:

More about the author

An aficionado of the anything-worth-doing-is-worth-overdoing school of compulsive behavior, Todd Graeff has dedicated his first 73 years to conserving wild places, pursuing adventure beyond the borders of good judgment, and writing about his more harrowing experiences. While his non-fiction and fiction have been widely published, Good as Given is his debut novel. Todd, his wife Mary, two high-test English setters, and one lap dog live in Boise, Idaho, where he continues to push the boundaries of good judgment.

Nancy Weston

With books running from mysteries to memoir, Nancy notes: “As I have matured, met people, had encounters, failures and triumphs and learned about life, I have filed away hundreds of interesting characters, events, encounters and sights. Now my mind fills with stories to share and my challenge is to select the one that is right to tell right now.”

Her works include:

  • Digger’s Izzy
  • Valley of Shadows
  • Ice in the Guise of Fire (published August 2022)
  • The Cruelty of Swallows (to be published later in 2022)

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

Not really.  I have a list of stories in my mind that I want to tell.  Once I find the one that inspires me at the moment, I pretty much devote myself to getting the outline, then a rough draft of the story.  Then I may set it aside and work on something else or do something entirely different than writing.  Once I come back to it, my mind is fresh and I read it again.  This helps a lot!  Once I get a complete story arc that I like, I get an edited copy for my beta readers.  While they read the manuscript, I take another break.  Once I get their feedback, I may mull over their commentary or not, but I don’t rush into the next draft.  Time is my best friend in the process.  Once I start work again, it is to complete a final draft of the work, although that may be many revisions later.  When I have a complete final draft, I send it to be edited again. 

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

Only that I like background noise, music or even the television in the background.  I prefer to be alone, but it’s not necessary so long as there isn’t conversation in the room where I am working. 

Who do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

Write.  I find that there is always something to write about – even if it is what if feels like to hit a wall.  Is it frightening?  Is it frustrating?  Am I blank or is it that there are too many competing thoughts.  Whatever, it is a story to tell and it is movement in the process. 

Do you plan your book in advance (plotting and outlining) or are you a “discovery writer” (AKA “writing into the dark”)? Or are you somewhere in between?

I start with a preliminary outline, very loose, but especially character development; who is the cast of this story?  That is typically where the flow of the story begins.  I might also list locations, sometimes a preliminary timeline.  I might take a moment and put down very two dimensionally what I want the story to say.  Once I start writing, it goes where it goes.  And sometimes I get surprised where the story leads.  That’s the fun and the creative part of the process.

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

Maybe Circe by Madelaine Miller.  I like Greek mythology and I loved the female take on the stories I have read and heard about all my life.  Before that definitely Hunger Games!  For some reason, I couldn’t put that one down.  Not a great book but a compellingly fascinating story idea.

What book or author do you find yourself recommending and why?

I rarely recommend books unless I get an idea of what a person might like.  I have a fairly eclectic appetite – which is why I belong to a book club so I get exposed to books I wouldn’t just pick up and read.  Some I like and others not so much.  I am always surprised at the fact that books I like, others don’t and vice versa.

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

Right now I am doing a lot of research for a story idea so mostly non-fiction like The Dawn of Everything (Graeber and Wenbrow).  I like Dan Brown and I’d love to fall in love with an author.  Hasn’t happened for a while.  I was in love with James Michener, James Clavell, Agatha Christy, Michael Crichton, John Grisham and others.  No one lately.  Maybe I am just overwhelmed by the sheer volume of good work out there to be read right now.

Find Nancy Weston online

Writer’s conferences to attend

Now halfway through 2022, we’re a bit late to the gate on posting this — but consider that you can use it as a handy list from which to plan future years’ events (which can be a terrifically fun exercise in and of itself).

Your IWU web editor has concentrated mostly on the mystery realm, broadly speaking, and am leveraging a list of links that author Sherry Briscoe had prepared a few years ago for some critique group friends (this writer included).

But before we hone in on the crime-infested genre, let’s mention three longstanding…

Conferences nearby

  • Idaho Writers Conference is an annual event put on by the Idaho Writers Guild, typically in May. It’s a two-day affair (plans for 2023 include a masterclass add-on for Thursday) combining craft and business and catering to both aspiring and established writers.
  • To the west is the engaging Willamette Writers group who produce the very robust Willamette Writers Conference, typically in August. There’s a wide variety of opportunities and add-ons suited to writers in most all genres and disciplines.
  • And to the south the very active League of Utah Writers‘ annual Quills Conference is so jam-packed that they have had to add a Pre-Quills Conference as well.

Some of the biggies

  • Bouchercon is the name you always hear, a world mystery convention with an aura all its own. They’ve booked 2022’s conference for September in Minneapolis … but also 2023’s in San Diego, 2024’s in Nashville, and 2025’s on the fertile ground of New Orleans.
  • Thrillerfest is an event produced by the International Thriller Writers. This year’s was the end of May in NYC.
  • Crimefest, an international crime fiction convention, was also in May this year, in Bristol. Looks delightful for those interested in a trip to the UK.
  • [added] MurderOne in Dublin is in October 2022 and features an extensive list of talent … truly one to book if at all possible.
  • There might still be time to book a place for Scotland’s international crime fiction convention, enticingly titled Bloody Scotland. It’s to take place in Stirling in September.
  • The Mystery Writers of America put on Sleuthfest, this year in July in Florida. (Love their E A Poe logo.)
  • Rounding out this portion of the list, one must mention Left Coast Crime (2023 is in Tuscon, Arizona) and Malice Domestic (2023 is in Bethesda, Maryland).

Smaller conferences can be fun, too

There are more regional conferences than I can list here, though these and these might get you started, but they often offer a lot to those who either want to stay revved up between the mega-conferences or find the environment in the more well-known writer’s conferences a bit too hectic or intimidating.

That being said, none of these look to be lightweights. So, food for thought.

  • The International Agatha Christie Festival looks to be a treat for all of us who devoured her books when younger (and yes, from time to time currently).
  • On the other hand, the Writers Police Academy puts you in the position of participating in hands-on, real-life training, plus they’re throwing around names like Lee Child and Robert Dugoni. Interesting…
  • Back to England, we have the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (July in Harrogate).
  • And in Maine (home of a certain Famous Author), we have the Maine Crime Wave, for those who fancy a trip to the other side of the continent.

But there are always so many more . . .

Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

Sean McPherson is Back

If you enjoyed Laurie Buchanan‘s first book in this series, Indelible, you’ll want to know that Iconoclast hits the shelves May 3rd.

PLUS: Make a note to attend the May 5th virtual launch event hosted by Rediscovered Books at 7 p.m. (MT).

Burdened by the pressing weight of survivor’s guilt, Sean McPherson, an ex-cop, is desperate for redemption. At Pines & Quill, a writer’s retreat in the Pacific Northwest, he and his fiancée, Emma Benton, are planning their lives together. He wants to go back into law enforcement. She plans to walk again.

But that’s before the Seattle-based crime family get involved…

Pick it up beginning May 3 from your favorite bookseller.

They’re Up to No Good

The women of the Desert Rose Hotel & Casino are up to no good, and that’s where the fun begins!

Sherry Briscoe will be releasing the third in her new series in late May. Here’s the Desert Rose series so far:

  • The Dutiful Daughter (Book 1) – Betrayed, isolated, on the lam. Can Carmela find the key to her husband’s death before the killers find her?
  • The Evolution of Uma (Book 2) – A rotten childhood, a haunted house, a crappy job, a narcissistic boyfriend … and things are about to get even worse for Uma Bettencourt.
  • Lost in the Lyrics (Book 3) – Working at the Desert Rose is just like any other job at a hotel and casino. Haunted corridors, murdered guests, and hunky construction workers building a new pool.

Find this book

Available exclusively at Amazon. Here’s Sherry’s Amazon Authors Page.

In the author’s words

The Desert Rose series has a special meaning to me. It’s about relationships. Father and daughter. Girlfriend and boyfriend. Coworkers. But most of all, it explores the relationships of five women who have nothing in common, yet become best friends. Who we have as close friends says a lot about who we are.

In my own life, it’s my friends who have pulled me through my toughest challenges, raised me from my deepest plunges, and cast their light on my darkest hours. Without my friends, I would truly be lost, and I would not be where I am today. The Desert Rose gave me the perfect opportunity to explore, in my fiction, these types of relationships. How they form and what they do.

Margo Kelly

Looking for a gripping YA thriller delving into the tricky area of trust? Margo Kelly has you covered with her books:

  • Who R U Really?
  • Unlocked

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I typically do freelance editing in the morning, then my own writing and revising in the afternoon. My favorite place to write is in my office next to my window, which looks out into my garden full of berries: raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.

Continue reading “Margo Kelly”

Donna Fletcher Crow

How could you not be enthralled by meticulously researched, entertaining novels of romance, history and mystery in an engaging you-are-there style that lets you live the history? Writing in several genres, her titles include:

Historical fiction:

  • Glastonbury: The Novel of Christian England – her best-known work
  • The Daughters of Courage family saga trilogy: Katherine, Days of Struggle and Triumph; Elizabeth, Days of Loss and Hope; and Stephanie, Days of Turmoil and Victory

Mystery:

  • A series, The Monastery Murders, which includes: A Very Private Grave; A Darkly Hidden Truth; An Unholy Communion; A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary; An All-Consuming Fire; and Against All Fierce Hostility
  • Another series, Lord Danvers Investigates: A Most Inconvenient Death; Grave Matters; To Dust You Shall Return; A Tincture of Murder; and A Lethal Spectre
  • And the Elizabeth and Richard Literary Suspense series: The Flame Ignites; The Shadow of Reality; A Midsummer Eve’s Nightmare; A Jane Austen Encounter; and A Most Singular Venture

Historical Romance:

  • The Where There is Love series: Where Love Begins; Where Love Illumines; Where Love Triumphs; Where Love Restores; Where Love Shines; and Where Love Calls

Short Story Collection

  • A Lighted Lamp

The word “prolific” comes to mind!

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I write in my office, upstairs in our home, Monday-Friday, from mid-morning till 3:00. Then we stop for afternoon tea. After that I like to read or garden.

Continue reading “Donna Fletcher Crow”