Saturday, December 9, 2023

My Guest Today: Debut Mystery Author Meryl Brown Tobin

My guest today is from the other side of the equator and in an entirely opposite hemisphere. Please welcome Meryl Brown Tobin, a fellow Wild Rose Press author from Australia. She’s here today to provide insight into her debut novel, BROOME ENIGMA

Meryl has a unique background for composing a mystery, and she’s multi-published in a number of fields. Here’s her bio:

Meryl Brown Tobin is an Australian writer who writes fiction and non-fiction for adults and children, poetry, educational puzzles and the odd cartoon and comic strip.  She has had 22 books published, including two with other writers, and hundreds of poems, puzzles, short stories, travel and other articles, and cartoons published in more than 150 print and digital publications in Australia and overseas. Her debut novel, ‘Broome Enigma’, a romantic suspense novel, was published by The Wild Rose Press in November, 2023. Details: and Meryl Tobin - Society of Women Writers Victoria (

I’ve watched some TV series and movies but read only a few novels set Down Under. Tell us about your book's premise.

On a working holiday in Australia's cosmopolitan Outback town of Broome in 1986, Jodie, a young book designer and artist is open to romance and adventure.

At the holiday village where she is staying, she meets Joe, a young man who works there. Despite the strong attraction between them, the many unknowns about his earlier life keep them apart. To try to uncover his mysterious past, they travel to Perth and back to Broome and are drawn into not only bizarre but also dangerous situations.

Is Joe the person she thinks he is, or is he some alter ego? Can Jodie and Joe stop their relationship from developing until they have answers and know if he is free to love her?

That sounds intriguing. Why did you choose this setting and time period for BROOME ENIGMA?

Broome is now a top tourist destination attracting many thousands of tourists each year. With its remoteness, turquoise sea, rugged red sandstone cliffs and kilometres long stretch of white sands at Cable Beach, Broome is a colorful exotic place to visit in Outback Western Australia, Australia that goes back to the Dreamtime. A pearling town from the late 1800s until the mid 1900s, it is peopled by Aborigines, Japanese, Chinese, Malayans, Filipinos, Koepangers (East Indonesians) and Europeans, a truly cosmopolitan town. During World War 2, it was turned into a military garrison. 

As I am a travel writer as well as a fiction writer, I had already written a chapter on the area in my travel book ‘Exploring Outback Australia’.  But that was not enough––it is such a unique place, I wanted it as the setting for a novel.

On one of our Outback trips, we met a good-looking young man who was a maintenance man at a holiday park we stayed at. Dressed only in jeans and sandals and shifting around sprinklers, he was longish-haired and perfectly tanned and looked as though he had just stepped off a film set about surfers. However, he did not smile and had a ‘dampened down’ personality.  That prompted me to wonder how someone like him came to be working in a caravan park and I played the ‘What If...?’ game. In time answers formed and I came up with a hero whose past life was shrouded in mystery. 

Okay, you’ve hooked me. Let’s read a sample:


A big gust of wind rocked the van and flung Jodie hard against Joe. He pushed her off.

“Joe, it’s me, Jodie! Wake up, wake up!”

“Jodie, is that you?” He threw his arms around her and buried his head in her chest.

She brushed his hair back from his sweating face.

“Take it easy, Joe. Take deep breaths. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.”

He stopped shaking and pulled back from her. “What’s happening?”

“It’s the cyclone. Don’t you remember?”

Another huge gust shook the van and sent Jodie sprawling on Joe’s bunk and into the wall. “Ow, that hurt!” She picked herself up and rubbed her head. The van rocked violently again. Joe and Jodie grabbed for handholds.

“Quick, come into my bed with me, Joe. It will be safer there.” Tripping and feeling their way along the wall, the two made their way to the double bed and clambered in.

Her breathing coming in short spasms, she lay on her back and took deep breaths. The storm whined and screeched about her, and the roof creaked and scraped.

“Oh, my god, the roof’s going to take off any minute!”

Joe’s arms enveloped her. “Hush, everything will be all right. But will you be okay if we have to make a run for it?”

“Yes.” She let out a sob. “But I like our chances better in here than out there.”

Joe kissed her forehead. He pulled her closer and they lay locked against each other while the storm raged around them.

Whew! Can’t imagine riding out a storm like that. Readers agree:


Felicia Di Stefano

“Finished your book. Very much a page turner kept me up till 1.30 am one morning. 

Wow what a thriller. Would never have worked out the end!”

More comments on - NOVELS

I’m an “into the mist” writer. What’s your process?

For no particular length of time––could be minutes, hours, days, months or years––I’ll have ideas forming in my mind.  My mind is like a giant computer that keeps making and storing pieces of jigsaw.  One day they’ll align and I’ll have the germ of a story.  I might think it over in bed that night, and, in the morning I can’t wait to get to the computer to write it up.

A novel like ‘Broome Enigma’ might take decades to write.  In the last 30 or so years, I have written six novels, along with hundreds of smaller pieces, including short stories, articles and educational puzzles. With the help of Val Mathews, a now former editor with The Wild Rose Press who showed me how to write in a style to suit the publishing house, and current editor Ally Robertson, I have now published my first novel and, in time, will rework my earlier novels.

With all your experiences publishing in so many writing fields, yet BROOME ENIGMA being your first published novel, can you share some tips for aspiring writers?

  1. Read widely, especially in the genre of your interest. Try to analyse why a work is successful or not.
  2. Write what you know and what you can research to fill in the gaps.
  3. Do a writing course. It’s a lot quicker than learning by trial and error.
  4. If you are a novelist, consider writing short pieces as well and send them out for publication.  It is a long time between novels and having your name in print establishes your reputation.
  5. Network with other writers by joining writers’ support groups and critique groups.
  6. Get constructive criticism, whether from a TAFE course, writing buddies, a mentor or a good editor.
  7. Plan your novel. You might fully set it out before you start or you might have an outline in your head and let your novel unfold as you write.
  8. Show, don’t tell. To help you master this, read the two books recommended by editor Val Mathews: Mary Buckham's ‘A Writer's Guide to Active Setting’ and Janice Hardy's ‘Understanding Show, Don't Tell’.
  9. Write your rough draft without worrying about editing. The main thing is to get it down. Editing can come later.  Once edited, let it jell before sending it off.

If you think writing a novel is hard, wait until you try to find a publisher or an agent, or, if you self-publish, a market. Consider trying The Wild Rose Press Inc, which published my debut novel Broome Enigma. The publishing house was established by two authors who believe publishing should be ​a joint effort between publisher, author and editor. 

I heartily second the recommendation for THE WILD ROSE PRESS, as that's my publisher too.

Three cheers for Meryl Brown Tobin for giving us a peek into life on the other side of the equator. Show her your support by checking out BROOME ENIGMA at these worldwide sites: : broome enigma (Australia) Broome Enigma : Tobin, Meryl Brown: Books Broome Enigma : Tobin, Meryl Brown: Foreign Language Books (Japan)

Broome Enigma: Tobin, Meryl Brown: 9781509250639: Books (UK)

Broome Enigma (English Edition) eBook Kindle - (Brazil)

Få Broome Enigma af som Hæftet bog på engelsk ( (Denmark?)  (Denmark)

Amazon (France) Broome Enigma (English Edition) eBook : Tobin, Meryl Brown : Boutique Kindle (India?)

Broome Enigma (English Edition) eBook : Tobin, Meryl Brown : Tienda Kindle (Spain)

Broome Enigma (English Edition) eBook : Tobin, Meryl Brown : Kindle Store (Germany)

Better Read than Dead (Sydney) Welcome to BRTD - Better Read Than Dead Bookstore Newtown

Barnes & Noble (USA) Broome Enigma by Meryl Brown Tobin, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (

Booktopia (Australia)


Brown’sBooks (UK)


Mighty Ape (NZ) (Netherlands)

Walmart(Sacramento): (Germany, Switzerland, Austria?)

Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

My Guest Today: Susie Black, author of RAG LADY

My guest today is Susie Black, an amazing woman who’s parlayed an improbable—and successful—career in clothing sales into the premise for her clever second act, a four-book cozy mystery series based on the retail clothing trade. 

Tell us, Susie, how did this unexpected career path come about?

My maternal grandmother had two favorite expressions: Man plans and God laughs, and nothing turns out the way you think it will. She believed things happen for a reason, even if we don’t always understand why. She warned me to be careful what I wished for since I might get it. That sometimes God punishes us by granting us our wishes, and other times God saves us by not granting them. And that God helps those who help themselves. As I’d come to learn, my wise nana had the secret of life down pat. 

At the end of my college freshman year, my dad, a ladies' apparel sales rep, got a huge opportunity and moved my family from Los Angeles to Miami. Relocating from hip LA to “God’s waiting room” failed to excite me, and I chose not to go.

Three years later, armed with my journalism degree and a blind idealism only the young can sustain, I dreamed of being a writer, but fate had other plans. A family crisis threw me into an improbable situation. Baptism by fire got me into the rag biz. I accepted a job working for my dad as a ladies’ apparel sales rep traveling the deep southern states. My life veered off in a completely different direction than I intended, and it would never be the same.

As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, I had to prove myself every day. When I started my career, no other woman did what I did in the deep southern states. Depending upon who you spoke with, I was either famous or infamous-but one thing was for sure: I was the talk of the apparel industry. No one-except my mentor father and me- thought I’d last a season traveling a six-state territory as a manufacturer’s representative for five companies.

Grit and stubborn perseverance to prove them all wrong kept me going, no matter how daunting the challenge. And prove them wrong I did- and succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I took a sledgehammer to every glass ceiling I encountered and smashed it to smithereens. And the bonus? I opened many doors for the next generation of women executives to succeed in male-dominated industries.

But if it wasn’t for my nana urging me to “Keep a journal. Get all your experiences down on paper. Maybe this is the reason you’re in the rag biz. This must be the story you’re destined to write,” I doubt if I ever would have leveraged my successful ladies’ apparel sales career into a writing gig.

It was my daily journal entries chronicling the interesting, quirky, and often challenging characters I encountered and the crazy situations I got myself into and out of that gave me the stories I’d ultimately write.

Thanks to Nana’s advice, so far I have written and published four humorous cozy mysteries in The Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series. And the series prequel, Rag Lady, is released mid-November of this year.

Tell us about this new book, RAG LADY.

Recent college graduate Holly Schlivnik dreams of being a writer, but fate has other plans. A family crisis throws her into an improbable situation and her life will never be the same. Determined to make her own luck when things don’t happen the way she plans, the irrepressible young woman takes a sledge hammer to the glass ceiling and shatters it to smithereens. The wise-cracking, irreverent transplanted Californian takes you on a raucous, rollicking rollercoaster ride of her hysterical adventures as a ladies apparel sales rep traveling in the deep South as she ends up finding herself along the way.

RAG LADY buy links:

BookBub:  Rag Lady (Holly Swimsuit Series Book 1) by Susie Black - BookBub

Goodreads: Rag Lady by Susie Black | Goodreads

Amazon: Rag Lady (Holly Swimsuit Series Book 1) eBook : Black, Susie : Kindle Store

Barnes & Noble: Rag Lady by Susie Black, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (

For more about Susie, here’s her bio:

Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.

Looking for more? Contact Susie at:





Goodreads: Search results for "Susie Black" (showing 1-9 of 82 books) | Goodreads

Instagram:   Susie Black (@hollyswimsuit) • Instagram photos and videos




If you enjoy humorous cozy mysteries, be sure to check out Susie’s books. She’s an amazing lady! And thanks for stopping by!


Monday, November 20, 2023

Book Spotlight: RIGHTSIDE/WRONGSIDE by Cathy Hester Seckman

With women's rights and threats thereto a hot topic in the news these days, no one should be surprised by the plethora of sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian literature dedicated to exploring the what-ifs of the issue. One such intriguing entry available now from The Wild Rose Press is RIGHTSIDE/WRONGSIDE by Cathy Hester Seckman. 

Here’s the blurb:

On Rightside/Wrongside, women are in charge and men live behind a 200-mile Border Fence. Their only interactions are for sex, which women control with force and long-entrenched law. Mothers raise daughters, and fathers know nothing of them. Women send sons across the Fence to their fathers and never know if they live or die. New Rightside president Alanna Olaffson believes, along with her countrywomen, that female empowerment is a good thing, a necessary thing, right up to the time it goes frighteningly wrong.

And an excerpt:

The old man dozed over his paperback. Even in a busy week his job was boring as hell. What made it worthwhile, besides the status and the pay bag, was the free bed. Old Willie lived right in the Transfer Cabin, backed up against the Border Fence in Cody, and that suited him fine. He took his meals at a bar down the street - had a few good friends there - and spent most of his free time nodding over a book or stoking his small stove.

It was a nice quiet life, a safe life. Nobody bothered the man in the Transfer Cabin. Yeah, it suited him fine.

The bell rang, startling him out of his doze. It wasn’t a simple ring, for boxed goods or vehicles through the big Door, but the four-note flourish they used for a baby. It sounded again, signaling two to transfer. “It never rains but it pours,” he mumbled, and limped over to answer the bell.

When the ready light flashed on, Old Willie pulled out the heavy metal Drawer set into the back wall of the cabin. He smiled down at the two sleeping babies.

“Welcome to Wrongside,” he said softly.

 This is such an intriguing concept. How did you come up with the idea?

Rightside/Wrongside began 14 years ago as the glimmer of an idea about the societal interactions between women and men. I’m old enough to remember when fathers worked, cut the grass, and drove the car while women stayed home, had babies, and cooked dinner every night. What would it be like, I wondered, if those 1950s roles were reversed? In fact, how would society work if women and men were so alienated from each other that they lived in separate countries? What would happen…?

Sci-fi requires a lot of worldbuilding. How did you go about creating the physical and political setting?

Rightside and Wrongside are on a planet that had been colonized from Earth 71 years earlier. I wasn’t interested in seeing how odd and alien I could make the planet, so it mostly looks like ours. The flora and fauna were named by the colonists after the Earth plants and animals they most resembled. I dropped alien hints once in awhile, though. There are two moons. Each day has 27 hours, and each month has 34 days. Puppies have blue fur.

I wanted the language to have evolved a bit in 71 years, and figured the easiest way to do that was to change their exclamations and curse words. For instance, instead of saying ‘my own damn country,’ the men say ‘my own Yong country.’ Instead of saying ‘thank God,’ the women say ‘thank Milina.’ You can probably guess those are proper names, but you’ll have to read the book to find out who they are.

I'm fascinated by the map you included. How did that come about? 

I’ve had a map of the planet in my head for years, and just before publication I asked my friend Susan Dexter, an artist and fantasy author, to draw it for me. There are locations on the map that are not used in the book, and that’s because at least two sequels are coming: Oceanside and Mountainside.

Now let’s hear about you:

I took a winding road to the writing life, but here I am. As a teenager I was too shy and backward to admit to anyone that I wanted to be a writer, so I followed my sister into dental hygiene. Ten years later the road took its first bend when I had the opportunity to work for my local newspaper as a lifestyles editor. I climbed the (very short) ladder available to me there and eventually became wire editor, features editor, and columnist. When I left the paper I took my writing skills with me to work for other newspapers and for magazines. The most fun I ever had as a magazine writer was working for the True magazines. Remember those? True Love, True Story, True Romance – I wrote for them all, until they folded. Sigh.

The next bend in the road took me to nonfiction, and I became a book indexer. Twenty years later I still index on a limited basis. I eventually had one middle-grade novel and two nonfiction books published, plus three indie books written with writers’ group friends. Rightside/Wrongside is my newest (and best) effort.

My husband and I live in Ohio, and our activities include gardening, canning, hiking, traveling, camping, and motorcycling. I’ve had a motorcycle license since 1985, and presently ride a three-wheeler because of bad knees.

Visit me at

Cathy Hester Seckman - Home (

(20+) Facebook

Purchase links for RIGHTSIDE/WRONGSIDE, a book that is sure to stretch your imagination and provide plenty of food for thought:

Rightside/Wrongside a book by Cathy Hester Seckman Rightside/Wrongside eBook : Seckman, Cathy Hester : Kindle Store

Rightside/Wrongside by Cathy Hester Seckman | eBook | Barnes & Noble® (

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Recommended Reading: Two New Fairy Tales

If you grew up loving fairy tales like I did, you will not want to miss these two wonderful 2023 releases: THORNHEDGE by T. Kingfisher and THREE TASKS FOR A DRAGON by Eoin Colfer. To whet your reading appetite, here are my reviews of both.


Once there was a tower wrapped in a wall of thorns, and in that tower a princess lay sleeping...

We all know this story, recounted in many versions from Disney's animated Sleeping Beauty to Shrek and even Maleficient. The beautiful, innocent princess cursed by the angry fairy to punish the king and queen who hadn't invited the fairy to bless the child on her christening. But this version, as the author tells us, isn't about the princess.

This version is about her guardian, the lowly, ugly half-fae called Toadling, who is as much a prisoner of the thorns as is her charge.

Toadling is a simple creature who's spent centuries making sure the sleeper sleeps and the thorns keep out the curious until almost everyone has forgotten the tower exists. Almost, it seems, she herself has forgotten the why and the how of her task.

Of course, nothing lasts forever, and sure enough there comes a ragtag knight, adventuring alone, who loves stories. What follows is a sweet friendship as the two, initially frightened of each other, are drawn together out of their loneliness. But the tower and its secrets remain between them, binding Toadling to her duty and the knight to the satisfaction of his quest. Something has to give or the yearning they share will go unfulfilled. But as they tell each other what they know and what they believe, Toadling remembers precisely why she was given this task and how dangerous allowing the knight to break the curse will be. Each chipping away of the thorns exposes them to both possibility and threat.

This is a masterful tale that draws the reader straight into the heart and mind of Toadling as she discovers she may in fact have a choice, dangerous though it may be.


Once there was a dragon who'd stolen away a girl, and a prince who did not really want to be a king, and a great evil upon the land that someone had to risk everything to fix...

So begins an age-old story with some surprising twists and characters with great hearts. A lovely, lovely illustrated book, it reminds me of the Golden Books of fairy tales I read as a child. The text is lyrical and each page is a water color artwork that depicts the characters and events. It's a magical blend that feels timeless, like all good archetypal stories of a dragon and a prince and a quest, although this one blames not the stepmother but the stepbrother, a nice change. A good book to share and/or read with a beloved child.

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 23, 2023

Book Spotlight: From Here to Fourteenth Street by Diana Rubino

This week I'm shining my book spotlight on fellow Wild Rose Press author Diana Rubino whose latest release is an NYC historical, FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET. Now available in print, ebook, and audio.

Here's the blurb:

It's 1894 on New York's Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. Vita goes from sweatshop laborer to respected bank clerk to reformer, helping elect a mayor to beat the Tammany machine. While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police corruption, Vita's father arranges a marriage between her and a man she despises. As Vita and Tom work together against time and prejudice to clear her brother and father of a murder they didn't commit, they know their love can survive poverty, hatred, and corruption. Vita is based on my great grandmother, Josephine Calabrese, “Josie Red” who left grade school to become a self-made businesswoman and politician, wife and mother.

And an excerpt:

As Vita gathered her soap and towel, Madame Branchard tapped on her door. "You have a gentleman caller, Vita. A policeman."

“Tom?" His name lingered on her lips as she repeated it. She dropped her things and crossed the room.

"No, hon, not him. Another policeman. Theodore something, I think he said."

No. There can't be anything wrong. "Thanks," she whispered,  nudging Madame Branchard aside. She descended the steps, gripping the banister to support her wobbly legs. Stay calm! she warned herself. But of course it was no use; staying calm just wasn't her nature.

“Theodore something” stood before the closed parlor door. He’s a policeman? Tall and hefty, a bold pink shirt peeking out of a buttoned waistcoat and fitted jacket, he looked way out of place against the dainty patterned wallpaper.

He removed his hat. "Miss Caputo." He strained to keep his voice soft as he held out a piece of paper. “I’m police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt.”

"Yes?" Her voice shook.

"I have a summons for you, Miss Caputo." He held it out to her. But she stood rooted to that spot.

He stepped closer and she took it from him, unfolding it with icy fingers. Why would she be served with a summons? Was someone arresting her now for something she didn't do?

A shot of anger tore through her at this system, at everything she wanted to change. She flipped it open and saw the word "Summons" in fancy script at the top. Her eyes widened with each sentence as she read. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”

I hereby order Miss Vita Caputo to enter into holy matrimony with Mr. Thomas McGlory immediately following service of this summons. 


New York City’s history always fascinated me—how it became the most powerful hub in the world from a sprawling wilderness in exchange for $24 with Native Americans by the Dutch in 1626.

Growing up in Jersey City, I could see the Statue of Liberty from our living room window if I leaned way over (luckily I didn’t lean too far over). As a child model, I spent many an afternoon on job interviews and modeling assignments in the city, and got hooked on Nedick’s, a fast food chain whose orange drinks were every kid’s dream. Even better than the vanilla egg creams. We never drove to the city—we either took the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) train (‘the tube’ in those days) or the bus through the Lincoln Tunnel to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

My great grandmother, Josephine Arnone, “Josie Red” to her friends, because of her abundant head of red hair, was way ahead of her time. Born in 1895 (but it could’ve been sooner, as she was known to lie about her age), she left grade school, became a successful businesswoman and a Jersey City committeewoman, as well as a wife and mother of four. She owned apartment buildings, parking garages, a summer home, did a bit of Prohibition-era bootlegging, small-time loan-sharking, and paid cash for everything. When I began outlining From Here to Fourteenth Street, I modeled my heroine, Vita Caputo, after her. Although the story is set in New York the year before Grandma was born, I was able to bring Vita to life by calling on the family legends and stories, all word of mouth, for she never kept a journal.

Vita’s hero Tom McGlory isn’t based on any real person, but I did a lot of reading about Metropolitan Policemen and made sure he was the complete opposite! He’s trustworthy and would never take a bribe or graft. I always liked the name McGlory—then, years after the book first came out, I remembered that was the name of my first car mechanic—Ronnie McGlory.

Why did you consider changing the title?

When I proposed the story to The Wild Rose Press, I wanted to change the title, as it went through so many revisions since it was first published. I wanted to express Vita’s desire to escape the Lower East Side and move farther uptown. I considered Crossing 14th Street, but it sounded too much like Crossing Delancey. After a few more hits and misses, the title hit me—as all really fitting titles do.

How about a bit of background—What was 1894 New York City like?

The Metropolitan Police was a hellhole of corruption, and nearly every cop, from the greenest rookie to the Chief himself, was a dynamic part of what made the wheels of this great machine called New York turn. 

The department was in cahoots with the politicians, all the way up to the mayor's office. Whoever wasn't connected enough to become a politician became a cop in this city. They were paid off in pocket-bulging wads of cash to look the other way when it came to building codes, gambling, prostitution, every element it took to keep this machine gleaming and efficient. They oiled the machine and kept it running with split-second precision. The ordinary hardworking, slave-wage earning citizen didn't have a chance around here.

Tom McGlory and his father were two of a kind, and two of a sprinkling of cops who were cops for the right reasons. They left him alone because he was a very private person; he didn't have any close friends, he confided in no one. He could've made a pocket full of rocks as a stoolie, more than he could by jumping in the fire with the rest of them, but he couldn't enjoy spending it if he'd made it that way. They knew it and grudgingly respected him for it. He was here for one reason--his family was here. If they went, he went. As long as they needed him, here he was. Da would stop grieving for his wife when he stopped breathing. Since Tom knew he was the greatest gift she gave Da, he would never let his father down.

What else can you tell us about the Lower East Side?

One fascinating place to visit is the Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street, once an actual tenement. They have tours describing life as it was back then, with each floor of the building decorated (if you want to call it ‘decorated’) to depict each time period when immigrants lived there.

I read a lot of books to research this story. One book I remember reading as a kid is How The Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis, a photographer and reformer of the time. The photos in his 1901 book vividly illustrate the poverty and deprivation of the times, for adults and children alike.

Now let's hear about you: 

My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. I live on Cape Cod with my husband Chris. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano and devour books of any genre.

The historical monarch I’d most like to meet is Richard III, my favorite of all time.

Visit me at,,, and on Twitter @DianaLRubino.


Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Monday, October 9, 2023

Book Spotlight: BONDWITCH by Chelsey Ortega

Just in time for Halloween, a wonderful, witchy paranormal, coming-of-age romance by a talented debut author. It's my pleasure to introduce BONDWITCH by Chelsey Ortega. 

Sure to appeal to the YA paranormal audience, this book is a roller coaster of Anna’s emotional journey as she discovers who and what she is, and why certain feuding groups want very much to ‘own’ her. She has to learn who to trust, who to fear, and how to tell the difference. It’s not easy, and she’ll have to come into her own power in order to survive. Not to mention save those she cares about. A highly appropriate read for the Halloween season.

Here's the blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Annamaria Lyons has never left her small hometown of Harrison, Wyoming. She has lived with her aunt, Trinity, since her parents died when she was two years old. Trinity has been a wonderful guardian with one exception—she won’t allow Annamaria out of the house after sunset. That is, until the night of senior prom. Annamaria's long-lost sister arrives, bringing with her a world full of hidden family secrets and the supernatural.

 Forced to flee her childhood home without a proper goodbye to her human life and first love, Annamaria immerses herself in the magical world. New friends and a new suitor challenge her original dreams for the future, and when she finds herself caught in the middle of a centuries-old conflict, Annamaria must decide to rise above it or give in to the darkness.

Meet the Author: 

Chelsey M. Ortega is a teacher by day and award-winning author by night. History is her first love, and any story involving magic and romance, her second love. She especially loves witches and is still awaiting her acceptance letter to a well-known school. Chelsey received her Bachelor's in History Teaching from Brigham Young University. In addition to writing, Chelsey teaches high school U.S. History and ELD. She lives in Utah with her husband, three children, and two cats. Follow Chelsey at

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:

Website: (also included in bio. All other social links and contact info are on my website)

Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Just in time for Halloween shopping, my latest book THE DIS'ASTER FAMILY'S HALLOWEEN, is live on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. 

And at least for today, it's the #1 New Release in Children's Cartoon Books! Whoo-hoo!

Designed for children ages 2-8 and for the adults who love to read to them, the story is a light-hearted romp full of fun sound-effects. Here's the blurb:

Meet the Dis'Aster Family!
The kids are creative. The parents are outnumbered. And the pets, well, they're unusual.
When the kids decide to enter a Halloween costume contest, what could possibly go wrong?
Come along for the ride. Can Halloween survive?

Kudos must go to my illustrator, Beth Stensvold, who is a multi-published children's book author herself. Please check out her books here: Beth Stensvold Her illustrations are a perfect fit!

Happy Halloween!