I produce a local access TV show, THE WRITER’S DREAM. I interview local authors regarding how they write, publish and market their books. It’s pretty impressive how many different ideas arise to create the books featured on the show. I’ll share some of the things that make me proud to be an author.

For instance, most of the authors I interview never planned on writing and publishing their works. Some say they’ve always written. Most have no formal training as writers. A fair number work or worked in the publishing industry.

Well, where did that combination of ideas, talent and persistence come from? Many authors claim that the book arose from their non-author professional lives. A common theme is teacher/professor/educator turned author. It seems that the desire to enlighten and share the jewels of their subject matter propels them into the worlds of fiction and non-fiction writers. Fictionalized characters lead the reader to experiences, sensations and locations that the reader may never get to experience any other way, and that the author wishes to share.

I really enjoy interviewing educators as my journey is so similar. The elements of that journey include having a knowledge base, creating the lessons and stories necessary to convey that knowledge, making that lesson stick, sneaking in the facts, and most of all, snagging their interest.


Civilizations are defined by their stories. The authors I have interviewed want the young folks who read these stories to carry on those stories and traditions.

For example, one of my guests, James A. Perez, author of Maia and Icarus, brings in a new twist on the Greek Mythology tale of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=maia+and+icarus



Another guest, Barbara Ann Mojica, has written the Little Miss History series, taking the reader to a number of the U.S. National Parks, enabling them to not only enjoy the natural wonders of these places, but to learn their history. http://www.littlemisshistory.com/


Many of the authors express concern that kids are isolating behind social media. They know, when they write their books, that they must achieve a balance between including facts and keeping their books exciting. All of us are wondering what the effect of social media will have on the acquisition of true knowledge.

Next time, we’ll explore writing memoirs.

Interviews with both Perez and Mojica will appear on YouTube soon. Look for them.

I have included the interior illustrations for The Mystery of the Lost Avenger. I think my illustrator Marianne Savage did a great job on book cover and illustrations. Here they are.


bookcoverMyster of the Lost Avenger -R2

Searching the Attic for Charlotte

Searching the Attic for Charlotte Wheeler, Annie’s great grandmother and test pilot.

Charlotte in Hangar - reduced

Searching the Attic for Charlotte Wheeler, Annie’s great grandmother and test pilot.


Annie, Ty and Trouble search for clues in treasures from the attic.





Here are some cool posters and photos I found when I researched the role of women in WWII, especially those who were involved with the manufacture, testing and flying of milItary aircraft.

An American Icon

An American Icon

An American Icon

An American Icon

The Avenger

The Avenger

images (2)

Dreaming about the Pilot who will fly this plane?


Proud, Confident and Competent.
























bookcoverMyster of the Lost Avenger -R2Hey Fans of Annie Tillery Mysteries, the next adventure is on its way. Annie’s great grandmother was a young woman, in love with a pilot, during WWII. She had a job with a defense contractor that produced planes used to fight in a war that would save democracy. She tested the planes, and flew them to naval bases. Her fiancé flew the planes in battle.

In the new story, The Mystery of the Lost Avenger, the wreckage of one of these planes is found in the mountains of Appalachia. It crashed in 1943 on its way to a naval base. In it is a note, written by Annie’s great grandmother, Charlotte Wheeler. Even though the crash happened many years ago, the Navy is investigating the cold case of one of its planes. NCIS finds a note in the plane, which they trace to Charlotte, and then to her surviving family member, Annie’s mother, Carol Wheeler. And so, the mystery begins.

Why did the plane crash? What did Charlotte Wheeler’s note mean? Annie and her mother decide to dig into Great Gramma’s past. They discover a packet of letters between Charlotte and her fiancé, a Navy pilot. There is a code to be broken in these letters, a ghost to be confronted, and The Mystery of the Lost Avenger to be solved.

Charlotte finds a secret.

Charlotte finds a secret.

Annie and her boyfriend, newly licensed pilot Ty Egan, fly into this intriguing and puzzling adventure; planes, pilots, and wartime intrigue. Do you know what your great grandmother was doing?

The People in the Story

Annie Tillery-Annie is the Point of View character. She is the title character. Annie lives with her aunt, Jill Tillery, NYC police detective. Her natural curiosity draws her into situations that just need to be unraveled, solved, or otherwise brought to justice. Her connections with Aunt Jill and her father, who works for the State Dept., enable her to access the tools necessary to solve the mystery d’jour.

Tyler Egan-Ty is Annie’s boyfriend. The combined brain power, dedication to each other’s safety, and confidence in each other’s abilities make them a formidable team. Their lovely little romance sure adds an element to the stories that keeps readers wanting to hear more.

Lt. Jill Tillery-Annie’s Aunt J, a force to be reckoned with, she provides access to the world of forensic science and police protocol that help Annie and Ty in the “pursuit of justice and the American way”.

Randall Tillery-Annie’s Dad helps Aunt J provide her with warmth, stability and advice, not just about the current mystery, but about her life.

Carol Wheeler/ Annie’s Mother -Annie and her mother have a strained relationship because of Carol’s substance abuse problem. In this story Carol is the main conduit to Annie’s ancestors and family DNA. They both move tentatively to a better relationship.

Searching the Attic for Charlotte

Searching the Attic for Charlotte

Jazz Wiedermeier- Ty’s flying instructor provides some interesting side-lights on flying and planes .

Felix Wiedermeier- Jazz’s father sheds some light on what it was like to work in the Grumann plant during WWII, and how the WASP’s (Women’s Air Service Pilots) fit into the war effort. He also provides some necessary insights into the plot.

Charlotte Wheeler- Annie’s great-grandmother is the central character of the story. It is her story during her time at the Grumann plant during WWII that is the mystery Annie, Carol and Ty must solve.

Frank Bradenton- Frank, aWWII Avenger pilot, was Charlotte’s fiancé.

Doc Egan- Ty’s uncle lends his services as a former CIA operative to unravelling what happened back in 1943 that impacted on Charlotte and her WASP buddies.

Alice D’Elia- As local Fire Island historian, Alice provides useful information about L.I.’s role during WWII. She is also a ghost hunter.

The Flying Ladies: They are Charlotte’s WASP buddies. They know what happened in 1943, and tell Annie about her great-grandmother, her courage, her fiancé, and her contribution as a woman in WWII.

  • Angie Frank
  • Maxine Flynn
  • Edie Frank
  • Connie Faber

    An American Icon

    An American Icon


Finally! In the next few weeks, the new Annie Tillery, The Mystery of the Lost Avenger, will be available. I’d like to provide Annie Fans with some previews. The book takes place in two times, the present and in 1943. The mystery revolves around Annie’s great grandmother, Charlotte Wheeler, who was a Womens Air Service Pilot (WASP) during WWII. She tested and flew the Avenger aircraft for Grumann Aviation Corp. and became enmeshed in some wartime intrigue at the plant. Included here are two excerpts, one from each time period. In future posts I will let you know about the setting, the adventures, and best of all the characters. Buckle you seat belts and prepare for take-off!

bookcoverMyster of the Lost Avenger -R2


The Dangers of Flying Solo

The Present

Carol Wheeler sat in her car on a suburban street in New Windsor, Maryland. Her hand shook as she read the letter from the Department of the Navy for perhaps the twentieth time. It concerned something they had discovered about her grandmother’s role in World War II. The Navy had found a note in the wreckage of a plane that crashed in 1943, recently recovered in Appalachia. The note was traced to Charlotte Wheeler, Carol’s grandmother. Why had her grandmother put a note in a fighter plane that was being flown by someone else to a California air base? Charlotte had not been flying that plane. She did not die in 1943.

Carol pulled into the driveway of the home she grew up in and stared at it, memories of her childhood and school days flooding back. Maybe I can find something in the attic that will shed some light on this mystery. After all she did live here. Carol tucked the letter into her purse, shivering at the idea of entering that attic. Fishing in her purse, she pulled out the keys she needed to get into both the house, now occupied by a tenant, and the attic. I feel like a sneak thief, she thought. I’ll leave a note for Tallie. I don’t want her to think I snoop around here at will. I did send her a note. “Darn it! Why do I feel so guilty? I own this place,” she said, slamming the car door.

Gathering her resolve, Carol fumbled with the keys, finally selecting the correct one and entered the house by the side door, made her way to the second floor, and unlocked the door to the attic stairs.

“It smells the same. Probably nobody has touched a thing here since I put Mom in the nursing home. They’re going to put me in the loony bin if I don’t stop talking to myself.”

The heat in the attic produced a sheen of sweat all over Carol’s body, making her a bit light-headed. I’ll have to get out of here fast, she thought, propping the door open.

“Good. The trunks are where I remember them. Before she died, Mom told me all the family mementos are packed inside of them.”

Carol approached the trunks. Two were stained oak with barrel tops, bound in brass straps. The hardware was beginning to show signs of rust. The third one was a maroon steamer trunk, the kind used by immigrants bound for America on ocean liners. This was the one she opened. A strong smell of cinnamon and cloves rose from it. Inside were packets of letters. She scooped them up, and put them in her tote. The second trunk held picture albums. “It’s too much to carry. I’ll have to come back with someone.”

Curiosity got the best of her and Carol lifted a few framed pictures, turning them to the light from the single bare bulb. She gasped. The young woman in the one photo that fell out of the group looked back at her like a mirror image. The photograph was signed in the bottom right corner, Charlotte. My grandmother, Carol mused. That could just as well be me, she thought.

The door to the attic slammed, making Carol jump and clutch the photos to her chest.

“Who’s there?”

Carol ran to the door, pulling at it. It was stuck. She put the photos on a bureau and pulled at the knob with all her might. The door opened, nearly toppling her to the floor. She looked down the long hall where the door to the rest of the house stood open. A woman with a carefully pinned up-do of blonde curls, in a knee-length floral print dress was heading to the floor below.

“Tallie, is that you? Wait! Who is that? What are you doing in my house?”

There was no answer. The photo of Charlotte popped into Carol’s head. She shook herself to clear that vision, her hands trembling.

“That’s impossible,” she whispered. She put the photos back in the trunk, grabbed her tote, and ran out of the house. Heart pounding, Carol dropped the keys as she tried to lock the door.

Safely inside her car, she said, “What in the world was THAT? I’m not coming here alone again, she thought. Turning to the house, she muttered, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but did I just see one?”



            The Last Flight of Avenger # 3008

         June 12, 1943

          At 6AM, the sun made a brief appearance on the horizon before hiding behind the cloud bank building to the east. Somewhere in that direction, ships carrying troops and supplies to the Allies in Europe were being preyed upon by German U-boats- a wolf pack that sought to destroy the Allies’ effort to win the war.

The tarmac was damp with the night’s deposit of dew and the air smelled of the Atlantic Ocean only a few miles away. No wind, no rain, especially to the west where newly built planes were headed to U.S. Navy pilots who would fly them to win the war in the Pacific.

“Charlotte Wheeler,” the dispatcher known as Sarge called out.

 A tall woman in a brown flight suit hefting a messenger bag moved toward the plane indicated by Sarge’s outstretched hand.

“Sign here. Charlotte Wheeler, right?”

“You forgot who I am?” Charlotte mumbled sarcastically. “I need to check a few things, Sarge.”

 Charlotte completed a walk around the plane, pausing by the wing on the left side. She climbed up on the wing, fished in her pocket for something, slid into the cockpit like the pro she was, and came out about thirty seconds later. Charlotte knew everything there was to know about the Avenger. She had built them and flown them to the west coast naval base where they were loaded onto aircraft carriers that would take the planes and the pilots trained to fly them to fight the Japanese fleet.

“I’m going inside for a minute. I have to check something I found,” Charlotte called over her shoulder to Sarge.

“You’ll lose your place,” he called back.

“Just one minute!”

Charlotte disappeared into the hangar and Sarge called out, “Brenda McPhee!”

Brenda walked up, crossed out Charlotte’s name, replaced it with her own signature, and against her training, did an incomplete check of the plane. She trusted that Charlotte’s inspection was good enough. All of this took three minutes. Brenda climbed into the cockpit. By the time she finished a quick cockpit check and fastened her seatbelt, Charlotte had not reappeared.

The grounds man pulled out the wheel chocks and gave Brenda the signal to go. As Brenda taxied toward the runway, Charlotte emerged from the hangar. When she heard the roar of her plane speeding down the runway, she looked for Sarge. She saw him talking to a guy in civilian clothes, a dark suit and a fedora pulled low, showing only his profile. Sarge said something to the suit and he turned away, walking briskly to the exit.  Sarge saw Charlotte and she gave him a hard look. He, too, turned away. Brenda and the plane were never seen or heard from again.



The Adventures of a Self-Published Author Proves to Be a Matter of Trial and Error.

Ideas can come. And then, they can go.

Ideas can come. And then, they can go.

The challenge continues to be marketing. I finished the fourth book in the Annie Tillery Mystery series late this year, and it’s with the editor, and the illustrator who is working on the three illustrations I have included in all the books of the series.

I hope to get it to the publisher by the end of January. If you are an author, you know how that feels. If you are a reader, the story you are reading happens from the germ of an idea, and travels through much brain work to paper.

I’m now planning my marketing strategies. This is what I plan based on what I have learned:

  • Expensive services usually don’t measure up to their cost.
  • Social media is necessary and takes constant searching for the right sites, and input. POST. TWEET. POST. TWEET. ETC.
  • Twitter is a great research tool. Search for author services, contests and reviewers, as well as sites where you can advertise your books.
  • I’m beginning to wonder if all the “cheap” services I pay for might be better spent on a publicist.
  • There is an endless parade of folks who want to market your books. Choosing the right ones is a challenge, falling under the category of, “Some you win, some you lose”.
  • Review services are a chancy business, especially if your plot, background material, and for me science, are out of the ordinary. I paid for a review that claimed I should check my facts about my setting, one that I visited, recorded in pictures, journaled, and interviewed residents to get my information. This was such a stupid, unfounded criticism that I have become leery about asking for reviews. Don’t pay until you see the review.
  • Local media can be your best friend.
  • Make an organized plan for marketing, one that involves daily, weekly, and monthly activities using various media. This is essential for a self-published author, and probably for traditionally published authors as well.
  • In summary, be careful what you pay for. A lot of marketing can be done by you for free, or little cost.

teen mystery, girl detective, ghost story, summer read        An exciting YA mystery     New Annie Tillery Mystery

Picture1Popular literature has never become disenchanted with the enchanted, possessed or cursed. You can find vampires, zombies, ghouls, ghosts and the demonically possessed in several best selling novels. In the tradition of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein”, the more recent literary forays into the world of the undead, sort of dead, and soon to be dead, have attempted to give some scientific and psychological rationales for their characters.

In light of some of the breakthroughs in new forensic techniques, authors have taken advantage, and incorporated these themes into their novels. Two theories used to explain vampires deal with DNA technology, specifically sequencing the genomes of the creatures mentioned above, and virology.

In Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy, her main characters pursue a twofold quest. The vampire, Matthew Clairmont, is a microbiologist in his present regeneration. He is studying the DNA of witches, vampires and other creatures to see what their connection is to non-creature humans. He is looking for similarities, and those markers which identify them as a witch or vampire, etc.

At the same time, Dianna Bishop, an unwilling witch with very strong powers, is searching for an elusive medieval book that promises to give credence to the connections between all creatures, human and otherwise. There are many forces not willing to let her find this book, because of the power it holds. The fact that this trilogy brings in some of the most interesting aspects of DNA technology, like finding your ancestry through a study of your genetic markers, brings the study of vampire lore into another arena.

Vampire lore is world-wide, and is based on ignorance of the decomposition processes that occur after death, the inability to ascribe causes for disease or devastating weather phenomenon, and what a coma is. Locals would blame a plague like rabies, which ravaged Eastern Europe at the time vampire lore emerged, on the last person who died. The same was true of crop failure, or severe weather. These folks would dig up the person, looking for evidence of their evil-doing. In cooler climates decomposition was slower and two processes fed the vampire legends. One was that blood can pool in the chest cavity post-mortem. So, the stake in the heart produced the gushing of blood. Gas bubbles produced by bacterial activity forced blood from the lungs into and out of the mouth. Whoops, looks like Igor just had a blood meal! And last, but not least, image the evidence of the activities of the undead unearthed, (pardon the pun), when a person who had succumbed to a coma through neurological damage or disease was examined.

These folks were dispatched in the ways we have come to know, stake through the heart, beheading, dismembering, and burning of the remains. For those who are squeamish, just sprinkle the grave with vinegar and water. The mutilation of corpses was so rampant the Catholic Church disavowed and discouraged the practice.

The next theory delves into the catch-all of virology, the above mentioned rabies epidemic, for instance. Victims infected with the rabies virus exhibit all the symptoms attributed to vampires, insomnia, sensitivity to light, mirrors and reflective water surfaces, sensitivity to sulfurous foods like, you got it, garlic. Bats transmit rabies, giving credence to the ability of a vampire to turn into a bat.

Picture2Another theory based on virology was put forth as Vampiric Virology By Hugo Pecos & Robert Lomax. The source of vampirism is the human vampirism virus (HVV). Like rabies, HVV has a distinct bullet shape and belongs to the order Mononegavirales—viruses with a nonsegmented, negative-stranded RNA genome. The virus’ natural host is a flea commonly found on cave-dwelling bats—most notably the vampire bat. In the most common scenario, the flea bites a bat, which in-turn passes the virus on to humans and other mammals. Warning, this is a theory.

A neurological condition called porphyria can be used as an example of a disease exhibiting the symptoms of vampirism mentioned above. King George III of England, the one America declared independence from, had the condition.

Moving on to Zombies, we find another condition that some try to give a scientific explanation to. Zombies originate in Haitian folklore, with roots in Africa. A zombie is a reanimated corpse produced through the work of a Vodoo witch called a bokor. This is done by using potions and other mysterious rituals. The zombie does the bidding of the person who has reanimated them. Some bokors will capture the zombie spirit or “astral” in a small flask or vial, and sell it as a talisman the buyer can use to control others.

There are some examples in nature of one organism taking control of another, and using it for some benefit. An example of this is a species of fungus, Opmocordoyceps unlateralis, infects certain species of ants which in turn will carry their spores to new hosts. Jewel wasps inject roaches with venom, disabling them, dragging them into their nests where they serve as food. But, if you are looking for examples of human bodies reanimated to do your bidding, you may find this a challenge.

Zombies also exhibit the same characteristics as those suffering from neurological diseases. If legitimate science finds some legitimate zombies to carry out their research on, perhaps they will find a cure for these poor unattractive creatures. That is, if the zombies don’t eat them first.

In conclusion, when venturing into the world of vampires, zombies and others, separate your fact from fiction, or just enjoy the fiction. This article has been brought on by an overexposure to Halloween.


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