Check out my “hardest scene to write” in this week’s author Round Up

November 26th, 2018 → 4:24 pm @

Question: What Was Your Hardest Scene to Write?

In my first book Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? I wrote a scene featuring a remodeling contractor from a small town in Nebraska. I wanted to change his pattern of speech from the arguably more urban patterns of the characters residing in Omaha. I wanted there to be a distinction.

I wasn’t trying to make this character sound distinctly back woods, rural because that’s not really a thing in Nebraska, so finding a distinction was challenging. He wasn’t uneducated, so giving him bad grammar was not the solution, and we tend to be accent neutral in Nebraska so I didn’t have much with which to work.

Bookdisplay

Bookdisplay

I wanted this character to be sweet and just a tad naïve. How does that sound? As I wrote, I found myself slipping into the cadence of a southern twang – NO! edit, edit, edit.

A great panel

A great panel

 

After finishing the book it officially went into editing. On the fourth round, my editor commented “you have this contractor who starts out talking like a hick and almost immediately evolves into having the elocution of a Harvard grad. Fix it.” Wow, how I not see that?

So, I was back at the drawing board. That short scene was the hardest I’ve ever written or rewritten – before or since. I labored over every word he spoke. In the end, I had to invent some speech patterns based on imagination and fleeting experience with folks in rural areas either through road trips across the state, or films about the Midwest. I think it works – but even now I’m not positive. In fact I can feel myself starting to perspire as I write the response to this question.

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Week Number Four of Richard Lowe’s Round Up – Check out my Response

November 7th, 2018 → 4:44 pm @

My primary goal has always been to entertain my readers and make them laugh, while also making them think. To give them an escape from the troubles in their lives. Based on feedback (and not just from my mother), I am grateful that I seem to be on track with that goal. There is no better feeling than when a reader is genuinely effusive about my work.

When I read this Roundup question, it got me thinking about my goals beyond the readers’ reaction and I realized it’s a very basic goal. I want to enjoy the writing experience even more.

That’s not as simple as it sounds.

I enjoy writing cozy murder mysteries and I enjoy doing the speaking and signing engagements, hell, I even enjoy editing, but all these components can interconnect in a way that makes writing either a joy or an exercise in self-debasement or both – kind of like a seesaw.

To start with I enjoy the writing, but feeling pressure to hurry up can bring that enjoyment to a screeching halt. Once the book is released there’s a huge amount of work to gain any level of awareness. I actually enjoy guest blogging and interviewing, I genuinely enjoy public speaking. But if you’ve ever done an author event to an audience of two, even considering there are torrential rains outside, you know how demoralizing that can be.

Although many of us don’t get into writing for the money (a lot of you are laughing out loud right now) it is nice to actually see some return on your investment. There was a time when I referred to my writing as a “very costly hobby.” Although I still don’t rely on my writing as my livelihood, there’s no denying that monetary gain is a measure of success, and when you’ve poured your guts out to create your masterpiece, any measure of success is a plus.

One day euphoric success, the next day humbling disappointment, and repeat. My great grandmother had a saying that seems to fit “what never makes you laugh will never make you cry.”

My goal would be to see the scales a bit more heavily weighted toward the laughing.

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Check out my answer to this week’s Roundup question

October 29th, 2018 → 8:51 pm @

As a child I was an avid reader and writer of letters. My letters always seemed to surprise people, making them laugh when they needed a laugh, shoring them up when they needed support. The feedback all seemed positive and appreciative that I was able to sense their needs and write something that helped. Whenever their comments focused on my making them laugh, I was in heaven. Even as a child, I fancied myself a cross between Cornelia Otis Skinner and James Thurber – my dreams were big. It was only a matter of time before I penned the great American comedic novel.

A great panel

A great panel

Then life happened. I taught English to high school kids who suffered through my love of literature and taught me new forms of grammar and spelling that haunt me to this day. When the academic life began to pale, I ventured into the world of advertising. Sure I would be a star copywriter, I instead found myself behind a calculator in the world of media buying. It was hard work and it kept me busy. Too busy to write a novel.

As the years progressed, I found myself the owner of an ad agency with one, two or three partners, depending on the year. During one particularly stressful period when the economy was lagging and my CFO partner was obnoxious as hell, I found myself looking for escape. That’s when I started my first novel.

In retrospect, I think I wrote about murder to assuage my desire to commit murder. Killing off people who cause you extreme stress is so cathartic. And when you do it in a novel, you don’t go to jail.

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Thanks for including me in this week’s Round Up

October 22nd, 2018 → 6:03 pm @

Robin Leemann Donovan

Robin DonovanHide things – who me? Hell yes, I’ve hidden a ton. So, you’re asking me to give it all up now? Let’s see where I can begin. Book one, Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?, was written after a small group, lead by one of my business partners, who had a fairly public breakdown, tried to stage a coup and throw the other two of us out of our company. There are numerous veiled references to the details of the coup, e.g. wanting financial gain without having to invest, etc. One of the less savory characters in the book has the combined name of two of the conspirators. I could go on, but that would be too much of a spoiler alert. Let’s just say the murder victim will not be sorely missed. And suffice it to say the coup was unsuccessful.

In book two, I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Short Sighted, a great deal of the back story consists of true events from my early days in advertising. Although they’re not exactly hidden, the reader would never know fact from fiction. The inspiration for the murder victim actually did all of those obnoxious things. The events leading directly up to the murder, however, are all carefully crafted fiction. The hidden part consists of numerous little character traits and foibles that paint a startlingly accurate picture of my victim, right down to the physical description. Once you know the facts, you would never question the accuracy of the fiction. The portrayal of B.J. comes from years of watching and listening to her inspirations’ unprincipled behavior.

In book three, I Don’t Know Why They Killed Him He Wasn’t Really That Annoying, the major hidden message lies in the treatment of one of my former partners. He had joined the company shortly after “the coup” and was fine for a few years. Then had his own version of a breakdown. He’s featured in the first two books as my valued partner and legendary smart ass, Donny Miller. He makes an excellent foil to my protagonist, Donna Leigh. By the time I started writing this third book, the inspiration for Donny’s character had exited the company in a most contentious fashion. Throughout the book, there are references to his departure that are in reality private jokes.

Reading through my response I arrive at two conclusions: I have actually hidden quite a bit (and this is only the tip of the iceberg) and it’s unhealthy to be my business partner if you’re a man.

https://www.thewritingking.com/secrets-books/?fbclid=IwAR3F_vhNDIaNQUDm28fotuhdM1hKDJeGWIj-znKbA9ZI6Vr30QO-9ZdJUl0

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Check out my interview with Richard Lowe

September 12th, 2018 → 8:10 pm @

Interview with Robin Donovan

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Interview by J.E. Feldman of Into The Mind of the Writer

September 10th, 2018 → 9:35 pm @

Into the Mind of the Writer

J.E. Feldman’s Exploits

Author Interview with Robin Leemann Donovan

 

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Brand New Review from Chick Lit Cafe

April 5th, 2018 → 4:48 pm @

Robin Leemann Donovan – Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?
by Robin Leemann Donovan
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Humorous
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Alt=”Robin Leemann Donovan”Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? (The Donna Leigh Mysteries Book 1) by Robin Leemann Donovan

Synopsis:

How does one react to the shocking news that a former colleague has been brutally murdered? Worse yet, you realize that your vitriolic relationship with the victim could land you squarely on the suspect list. That’s exactly what happened to Donna Leigh, a menopausal ad exec, who jumps right into the investigation in order to keep the wolves away from her door. She manages to amuse, as well as impress with her effective but unorthodox sleuthing.

Review:

Witty, hilarious, mysterious.

Donna Leigh is the co-owner of the Marcel advertising agency in the Midwest. One day while at work, she is informed that her former colleague, Claire Dockens, has been brutally murdered while leaving a charity dinner. Donna and Claire have always had a caustic relationship, so Donna begins to think that she could become a suspect. And, she’s not the only one at the agency that fears being a suspect. There are others. Due to Claire’s insulting, rude behavior, she had many enemies. There could be several of Donna’s coworkers and friends that could be on the list of suspects. So they decide to take matters in their own hands and solve the murder themselves with Donna leading the investigation. With the menopausal unlikely sleuths on the case, things get crazy and out of control. But in the end, the women turn out to be better sleuths than the professional investigators themselves. Will they solve the case?

Is it Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch is a hilarious, engaging mystery story about a smart, witty, menopausal woman that gets pulled into investigating a murder in order to keep herself from becoming a suspect. Out of fear of being accused, Donna and her friends become amature sleuths. They decide to do the detective work themselves. They are rash and clumsy and fumble around while they are investigating. All kinds of things go hilariously wrong, but in the end they do a better job than the investigating officers. Meanwhile Donna is struggling with hot flashes, memory problems, clumsiness and all kinds of thoughts running rampant in her mind. But, even though she struggles, she is never without an entertaining response.

Author, Robin Leemann Donovan, has done a great job of writing a funny mystery filled with wit, humor and twists and turns. She takes readers on a roller coaster ride of clues, mishaps and triumphs. She writes comical dialog, engaging characters and amusing scenarios and scenes with precision and skill. There is a lot going on in this well written story. I loved that Donna and her friends are devoted followers of fashion but are always ready to get their hands dirty, they are bold, daring and impulsive.

I love cozy mysteries, and Is It Still Murder If She Was A Bitch is right up there with my favorites. It has all the components of a riveting perfect cozy mystery.

The descriptions are well composed, and a delight for the senses. I could picture everything vividly and felt like I was there. The characters are hilarious and well developed. One of the things that I liked about it, is that there are just the right amount of characters to keep track of. Especially since I am over 50 and menopausal myself. I could totally relate to the characters and scenarios as well.

I couldn’t put the book down. It kept me engaged and up late at night. It’s a quick, easy light hearted, yet mysterious, read. Robin Leemann Donovan is a fabulous writer, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in her series, The Donna Leigh Mysteries.

Reviewed by Chick Lit Cafe

Purchase Is It Still Murder Even if She Was a Bitch @Amazon Today

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Here is the Fiona Mcvie interview with Robin Leemann Donovan

December 7th, 2017 → 8:00 pm @

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Tuesday
Dec 2017
Posted by fionamcvie1964 in Uncategorized ≈ 1 Comment
Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name.

Robin Leemann Donovan

Fiona: Where are you from?

Originally New Jersey, moved to Connecticut at the age of 12 and relocated to Nebraska for a job at 42.

Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).

Grew up as a Catholic in Teaneck, New Jersey. The town sign said “welcome to Teaneck, an up and coming Jewish community.” So I had the benefit of a wonderful, and somewhat experimental education, and I used more Yiddish words than anyone I’ve met since moving to Connecticut and subsequently Nebraska. Teaneck was diversity at it’s best. Moving to a small town in northern Connecticut introduced me to a surprising lack of diversity. It was like getting all four wheels stuck in the mud, but I hung around to see Connecticut evolve into a far more diverse collection of communities. I graduated from UConn and started teaching English. Within three years I was working at an ad agency and wondering how I had survived the stifling world of faculty life.

My parents embraced a “joy of life” philosophy. Eshewing the more noble pursuits, in their world life was something to enjoy, and they were extremely social people, i.e. our house was party central. My parents went to dinners and plays and jazz clubs, and we were always throwing parties. I learned to make Bloody Marys at the age of 11. It was a specialty very much in demand until today’s mixes made my role redundant. They believed in giving back – but they also believed if you weren’t having fun you weren’t doing it right.

Somehow I married a man whose parents believed if you were having fun you weren’t doing it right. It was a bit of culture shock for a while – but ultimately we’re still all about having fun. Luckily, it wasn’t that difficult to bring him over to the dark side.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

I just found out that an independent bookstore has sold significantly more copies of my first book than I realized. That was a lovely surprise – they called me a Rockstar!

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I spent an inordinate amount of time writing creative class assignments growing up. Aside from writing business communication plans, I first started writing when my business partner charged me with starting a blog on menopause. I didn’t love the idea of being the poster child for maturing women, but she made a compelling case. Women, even very smart women, were in such denial about aging that they virtually all entered menopause totally unprepared. Their doctors were not much help. These women were making critically important, life altering decisions based on little or no information. My partner pointed out that I could take the most complicated issues related to menopause and articulate them in a way that was funny and fun to read. Thus was born, Menologues. Which I wrote for about 4 years. Menologues won a few awards and was republished on Vibrant Nation and Alltop. One reader who was sent to the site by a friend I hadn’t seen since high school actually said that it saved her life. And I believe she meant it. Even now I get a discount from my HRT doctor for being a menopause blogger.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I started to get positive response to my Menologues blog. It was like catnip.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Years ago I went to a psychic. He asked me if I had any questions, and then said “before you ask me anything I have two things to say to you.” One of them was “you know that book you keep saying you’ll write when you have time, well write it.” Holy crap – he nailed it. Even then I didn’t start. One day I woke up and realized: you own an ad agency that can promote books, you write a blog for menopausal women so there’s a bit of a built in audience and you just got a publisher as a client – this is the perfect storm so its now or never. At first I talked to my publisher/client about the horrors my partner and I had experienced as we battled a holding company and potential competitors in buying the ad agency. I had begun the painful process of writing about that incredibly difficult time. I mentioned that I was concerned about getting sued for my honest assessment of the insanity that had occurred during that process. He responded that people behaving badly was probably not much to worry about. Having lived through that extreme crazy, I couldn’t let that concern go quite so easily,and he agreed to have his attorney review my brief but pain filled manuscript. A week later he was back in the office sharing the verdict. “My attorney wants to know, are many of these people dead yet?” With that creative avenue so clearly blocked, he suggested that I write about ‘my passion’ and send it to him. 21 months later Is It Still Murder Even If SheWas A Bitch? was published.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

I was convinced it would be a series and I would need a clever series title, you know, like A is for Alibi – but I just couldn’t come up with anything clever enough. I kept referring to it as “Claire’s murder.” When I was nearly finished with the first draft I shared my frustration with my business partner. She said “don’t put so much pressure on yourself, just pick a title for this book.” On a whim, I jokingly typed in Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? I was sure the publisher would never agree to it. At about that same time I was interviewing Creative Directors. Every candidate made it a point to ask me some things about myself. Naturally, I told them my latest project was writing a murder mystery. Each time I mentioned the title I got a huge belly laugh – and it seemed genuine. I had been interviewing some incredibly talented writers and when they all had the same reaction – I wasn’t going to let anyone change that title. And I have been banned from some book selling venues because of the word “bitch.” When the farmer’s market banned me because “we are a family oriented organization” I asked why it was okay that I had to drive by three erectile dysfuntion billboards on my way to their market. They were not amused.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

It’s a lot about self-depricating humor and it’s written in the first person. I’ve had a few publishers express an interest in picking up the series after I parted ways with the publishing house that bought out my original, wonderful publisher– as long as I would agree to make it third person. No, third person does not work with my style of humor – not at all. I found it interesting that their reasoning was that “first person implies self-publishing.” And ironically, since my original publisher was sold and I chose not to have the new company publish my second book (they made it very clear that they wanted the entire series – all or nothing) – I am now self-published. That’s something I could never have accomplished without the education I received through the publishing of that first book. I have since occasionally met with budding authors to share the expertise I was fortunate enough to have gained through that first publishing experience. A little information goes a long way and I am eager to pay it back if it helps others.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Well, naturally all people and events are fiction, blah, blah, blah. But between you and I, there is one incident in book one that actually happened just as I describe. The one about a client who threw Donna Leigh and the murder victim out of her office. Seven years after writing that scene I was standing in a bookstore waiting to discuss the details of my upcoming book signing when I heard an oddly familiar voice. “Robin? Robin Donovan?” I turned to see that very client greeting me as though we’d been to lunch just the week before. I must have sounded slightly deranged as I stumbled and bumbled a speedy greeting in the hopes she would finish her business and get out before realizing I’d written a book, and further that her portrayal in that book was not even remotely flattering.

Book two features a great deal of actual personal experiences as part of the history of Donna Leigh and the murder victim, and book three is a complete fabrication. I guess I had some things to vent as I was penning that second book.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

I have not had to travel yet, however, my second book takes place in Omaha and Donna Leigh travels back to revisit her earlier life in Connecticut in order to explore the victim’s recent past.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

I am extremely fortunate to own an ad agency, Bozell. We have some incredibly talented art directors and designers and they have graciously designed everything connected to my book brand.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

It didn’t start out that way. I was just writing away and not really stopping to think. But then, with my first book, I realized a common theme was that an overweight woman can still be the most appealing woman in the room (very subjective) but that the choices she makes in clothing, hair, make-up and personality can make her more attractive than a fashion model. Another clear message is: you have to work in order to earn your rewards.

In all of my books there is a message that: people will think what they want. And this is illustrated by the fact that my protagonist, Donna Leigh, does not actually solve any of these murders. She is merely involved. But, as a result, everyone credits her with solving each case. She never fails to remind them of the truth when it comes up – but she might as well save her breath. I think my final message is: crazy people are going to act crazy and to try and apply logic to their behavior will just make you crazy.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

My favorites are Charles Dickens and Jane Austin. I think they are remarkable humorists that stand the test of time. I do also love Janet Evanovich. She can stretch credulity to an absolute breaking point – enough to make you howl with laughter. I do like other things – but laughter always comes out on top. I have been a reader of Patricia Cornwell, but if she keeps ripping the faces off of people I’m going to have to give her up for good!

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

The library system in Nebraska has been an invaluable support, as have the independent bookstores. My original publisher, WriteLife and my publisher Cindy Grady were amazing. Unfortunately, they were bought by another publishing company and the whole culture of the company shifted in a way that did not meet my needs.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I would love for writing to be my career. If I can figure out a way to actually make significant money – it will be my career.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Nothing. I wrote the first half of my third book and then set it aside for edits and proofing on book two. When I went back and reread it I hated pretty much everything about it. I made up my mind to edit heavily and try to get it to a point where I would either like it or let it go. I got it to a point where I LOVED it – and the rest of it fell into place like magic.

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

I learned quite a bit. I learned how a wine salesperson could cheat their winery and make a ton of extra cash for themselves. I learned how difficult it is to kill a friend and maintain the humor instead of getting really sappy without coming across as heartless. That was a tough one. It’s definitely much easier to kill someone you can’t stand.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

I think Bette Midler would be my first choice. She shares my comedic timing and sense of whimsy and curves. But I also think Meryl Streep, Christine Baransky or Goldie Hawn could hold their own in the role if Bette’s not available. I just hate to get their hopes up.

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

See yourself as an artist and let the writing flow. There are others who can help you edit and refine after you have allowed your inspiration to take hold of you and flow freely.

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I created a menopausal protagonist because prior to this series female detectives were either in their dotage or young, hot and gorgeous. I wanted to create a middle aged protagonist who is smart, but flawed. She’s attractive but not Victioria Secret attractive. In essence, someone who is more relatable than most amateur detectives. I created the character of Clovis Cordoba Seville as a filler, and she has evolved into Donna Leigh’s alter ego. Clovis is constantly criticizing Donna, pointing out all of her weaknesses as well as making numerous complaints that are nothing more than projections of Clovis’ own peculiarities.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

A friend and consultant of mine, Lori Stohs, just published her first book. Get Your Mind on Your People. Lori is amazingly intuitive and I always learn from her.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

Dick, Jane and Sally. And I think they’re still running. My first sophisticated book was Pride and Prejudice. I took a run at it in 5th grade, and had a great deal of difficulty. But I carried that book around with me for weeks. I was a school patrol back then and one day I was holding Pride and Prejudice as well as the outer door to the side entrance of the school. A very tall, very distinguished gentleman in a long wool coat, a fedora (that dates me) and a briefcase walked up the four steps to the landing I was guarding. He saw my book and registered surprise, such a difficult book for someone so young, he was clearly impressed. I responded demurely and he stepped through the doorframe on his way up the next flight of stairs. Halfway up the stairwell he decided to bestow an additional glowing compliment on my praise- hungry young self. When he turned to face me his briefcase became caught between his legs. He did a little leap and sprawled in a heap halfway up the staircase. He crawled the rest of the way up the stairs with a face as red as a freshly boiled lobster. Books and humor have always had a place in my life.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Falling. Once I realize the person is alright I pretty much lose it. I have a penchant for low humor, but I also love dry humor and black humor as long as it doesn’t scare me. I don’t like to get too sophomoric, but it depends a bit on my mood.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

Bette Midler. To prepare her to star in my movie (let’s face it – I have about as much chance of meeting Bette as I have of getting a movie).

Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

Bulldogs (English, Olde English and French), skiing, dancing, reading, food (eating not cooking) and wine.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

It’s all about humor. I love Without A Clue, and when I’m getting ready to embark on a DIY project I rewatch The Money Pit. I do enjoy some serious shows, Death in Paradise, Father Brown, Bones and I’m kind of hooked on HGTV.

Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?

Escargot, gnocci Bolognese, loads of fruit and vegetables, there are so many favorite foods. Slate blue, navy blue, minty green, plum, steel gray are colors I find most appealing – and I dress in black a lot. Fleetwood Mac, Earth Wind &Fire, Yes, Jethro Tull, Aerosmith, The Beatles, Nickelback, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Vivaldi, I love a large range of music though my interest rarely wanders into Country Western territory.

Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Be confused and frustrated, maybe explode. Probably explode.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

Just know she’s waiting for you if you didn’t give her a good review.

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

www.rldonovan.com but I must admit, I’m not keeping it as up to date as I’d like.

Books (Can all be found under Donna Leigh Mysteries on Amazon):

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=donna+leigh+murders

Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?

I Didn’t Kill Her But That May Have Been Short Sighted.

I Don’t Know Why They Killed Him He Wasn’t Really That Annoying.

Author’s pages on Facebook:

Author’s Page:

https://www.facebook.com/rldonovanauthorpage/

Donna Leigh Mystery Series page:

https://www.facebook.com/Donna-Leigh-Mysteries-279477928760374/

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Look for the latest Donna Leigh Mystery later this month

January 2nd, 2017 → 7:57 pm @

The third in the Donna Leigh Mystery series, I Don’t Know Why They Killed Kim He Wasn’t Really That Annoying, is due out later this month. Look for it on Amazon – both as a soft cover as well as electronically on Kindle.

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Thank B2B For The Great Article!

June 7th, 2016 → 6:33 pm @

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