Guest Blogger~Terri Karsten

            People often ask where I get my ideas. The answer seems simple—ideas come fromthe people we meet, the things we read, the places we go, the songs we know. But the first kernel of an idea is not enough to create a novel.

So, how does a kernel develop into a book? For me, it starts when an idea won’t let go.  Characters start chattering in my head. Scenes start playing out in my day dreams. I sometimes spend years thinking about an idea before I actually start writing. Then I do a lot of research to learn more about the period. I want my historical fiction to immerse the reader in a world as real and accurate as possible. I want the reader to know what it was like to live ‘back then.’

My historical novel, A Mistake of Consequence, developed in just that way. The first idea came from a college class in American Women’s Studies. We read many primary documents, including one about a young woman who had been indentured in Virginia. She wrote her father, complaining of the horrible conditions there and begging him to send ‘his poor undutiful daughter’ adequate clothing. Her heartfelt letter made me want to learn more.

My curiosity led to major research about indenture, a practice was quite common in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Indenture was a legal contract binding a person to work for a certain number of years in return for some compensation such as passage to America. The indentured person was not free to leave the contract and had limited rights as a servant.

Then I discovered that in addition to the people who indentured themselves or family members, many men, women, and children were snatched from England, Scotland, and Ireland and sold in the colonies. In spite of important differences (indenture theoretically had a termination date) the parallels to African slavery were intriguing,

            As I learned more, the characters emerged. The first I envisioned was Callie Beaton, an impetuous, young Scottish woman. Callie’s temper would lead her to the wrong place, straight into the hands of a ‘spiriter’ who kidnapped her, transported her across the ocean, and sold her. Penniless and bound in a strange place, her goal was to return home.

Callie’s story portrays one path indenture could take, but I wanted to show a broader picture. Two other characters gradually took shape, one indentured by choice, and one by circumstances beyond her control. Though both are secondary characters, their lives become entwined with Callie’s.

With these three women in mind, I still needed a plot. I always want to know how the story will end before I can start writing. For this novel, I needed a love interest, a murder victim, and at least one villain to drive the action and influence the outcome. That meant more characters taking up space in my day dreams.

My goal in writing historical fiction is to portray ordinary people living in circumstances very different from our own, but sharing the same joys, fears, and concerns about their families. I want to show that strong, resilient women had important roles in all eras. History, especially women’s history, can help people today learn from the challenges of the past.

            Gradually all these ideas coalesced in A Mistake of Consequence, a rollicking adventure in Colonial America, told from a unique perspective, that of a woman bound by custom and law, but with the courage to choose her own path.

Mistake of Consequence

It is 1754 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Callie Beaton is nearly twenty,
single, and determined not to marry anyone her grandfather deems worthy.
But after her impulsive flight from yet another unwanted suitor leads
her to the pier one rainy evening, Callie is mistaken for someone else
and dragged aboard a ship. Trapped in a dark hold and at the mercy of
strangers, Callie has no idea the ship is headed for a bustling port
city across the ocean in America.

Wracked with seasickness, unable to convince the ship’s captain she is
not who he thinks she is, and with only one scraggly dress to her name,
Callie somehow survives the horrid journey. She arrives in colonial
Philadelphia penniless, nameless, and alone in a strange place. Two men
offer her help: Ethan Asher, a handsome gentleman with a hidden past,
and Davy McRae, a charming ship captain with a dangerous secret. Neither
seems trustworthy, but when tragedy strikes, Callie is caught in the
middle and must choose one of the men to help her if she is to save
herself and her newfound friends from disaster.

In this historical romantic adventure, a Scottish lass who finds herself
in the wrong place at the wrong time unwittingly embarks on a journey
across the ocean to a new beginning where she searches for love,
belonging, and ultimately her true destiny.

Buy link:


An avid fan of all things historical, Terri Karsten lives in a hundred
year old house near the upper Mississippi River. After retiring from
teaching high school English, she divides her free time between writing
books, playing with grandkids, and chasing the outdoor life. Karsten
writes both fiction and non-fiction, and has publication credits in a
variety of magazines, newspapers and encyclopedias, including Highlights
for Children, The Winona Daily News and An Encyclopedia of Women’s
History. Her novels focus on historical fiction with strong women as
protagonists (A Mistake of Consequence, When Luck Runs Out). For more
information, visit her website:

Social Media links:

Beating Fear with Knowledge

I think most writers are worriers. Will the readers like the story? Did I have typos/mistakes? Does the plot make sense? Am I not offending the culture of the people I write about? Am I doing justice to the cause? Am I entertaining as well as educating?

Yes, all of these things go through my head as I write a book. I feel bad I can’t get to every book by every author in my genre- mystery/suspense/crime fiction. But I spend most of my time reading books to help me better understand my characters. Because I write Native American characters and I am not Indigenous myself, I feel I must read and learn all I can about the culture and dynamics of the tribe and people I write about.

I have some tribal members who respond to my questions, but I’ve yet to find someone to openly allow me into their world. Which makes me worry, I’m not portraying them as well as I should be. Every time I think about that, I get a knot in my stomach. I want to show them for the inventive, resilient, good-natured people that they are. I also want to show the dynamics that have made them who they are.

An author friend, Carmen Peone, who helped me with my Shandra Higheagle mystery series, that is partially set on the Colville Reservation where she lives, told me about a Choctaw woman author who has a workshop to help Native and non-Native writers better understand their characters. I spent all last week watching, listening, and taking notes. Then I picked up a book I purchased a month ago about a woman who grew up in the area near where my series, takes place and am learning more about the culture and family bonds within the culture I write about.

I have the two closest powwows written into my calendar to attend. I have attended both of them once before, years apart. This summer I will attend both and try to do what Sarah Elizabeth Sawyer suggested for attending a powwow. She had a lot of good insights even though her tribe is in Oklahoma, and I write about Oregon tribes.

One of the series that I work so hard to perfect the cultural dynamics is my Spotted Pony Casino mysteries set on the Umatilla Reservation outside of Pendleton, Oregon. Book 4 in the series released this month.

Lies, deceit, blackmail.

Murder ends it all.

Or does it?

When an employee at the Spotted Pony Casino is caught leaving early, Dela Alvaro, head of security confronts the woman. The lies the woman tells only piques Dela’s curiosity. After witnessing the employee threatening a man, she is found murdered in her car parked in the driveway of her home.

Upon learning the woman used her job at the casino to blackmail men, Dela feels compelled to solve the woman’s murder and teams up with Tribal Officer Heath Seaver. Not only does the duo have a death to solve, but there is also a mystery behind Dela’s dead father. Not to mention, her mom just announced she’s marrying a man Dela has never met.

I’ll leave you with something one of my readers sent me in an email. It made my day!

“Your characters are so full of life and personality, I find myself thinking they’re real folk! The sign of a great writer! I just finished the Squeeze. Loved it, love Dela! And when I get up your way, I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee. You are an inspiration for other NW authors and a marvelous advocate for our indigenous peoples. Please keep bringing up the issue of missing people…it needs to be kept alive or nothing will change. Thank you for all you and your posse do to make Oregon a better place. You have my support, 100%. And I’ll await your next book, whoever you choose to write about. I already know I’ll love it.”

Guest Blogger ~ Barbara Pronin


            I confess I have an odd history of collecting miscellaneous bits and pieces – a compelling smile, a story in the news, a flowering meadow under sunlit skies that almost defies description. For the most part, I have no clue how or if these snapshots will come together in a novel. But I am not surprised when that compelling smile one day lights the face of a character, or when that flowering meadow becomes the very place where the lovers in chapter three come together.

            Let me see if I can help you understand how the magic and mystery happen.

            In 2019, we checked in for a weekend at a seaside hotel in California – a boutique hotel, the brochure called it, which I interpreted as small, over-priced, a little bit quirky, and not necessarily solvent. The pretty young desk clerk who checked us in seemed to be a bit frazzled – all the more so when a colleague tapped her on the shoulder.

 “I’ll take over,” she whispered. “Your daughter’s on the phone. She says it’s urgent.”

The desk clerk heaved a sigh, managed a wan smile, and ran for the nearest phone.

            Months later, we went to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore. The colossal sculpture, breathtaking in the shadow of the brooding Black Hills, is truly a sight to behold. We toured the national park to watch the buffalo roam, stopped for a night in Rapid City, and moved on to the storied town of Deadwood.

            Deadwood, as popularized by the TV series, was the dusty little gaming mecca where Wild Bill Hickok met his Maker. It still supports itself as a gaming mecca, but its neighbor, Lead, is home to the Homestake Mine – at one time the nation’s largest, deepest, and most productive gold mine in the nation. The mine closed in 2002, but it’s still open for tours – so in we went.

            I felt a chill as I took a step into the dark, dank interior of the mine, its concrete walls damp with decades of moisture and crosshatched with the remnants of rutted trails embedded by trams and miners bringing up the precious ore.

            I leaned forward, peering over the rails into the darkened mineshaft. All around me I heard the quiet buzz of tourists. But in my writer’s mind, I heard the anguished cry of someone falling into the depths.

Who was it? Had they fallen or been pushed? And if they had been pushed, why?

Out of nowhere, the frazzled desk clerk walked into my head and began to tell me a story. By the time I got home, I could hardly wait to get it down on paper.

If you’re curious to know how a California desk clerk wound up in a mine shaft in South Dakota, please read “The Miner’s Canary.”

As for me, I’m busy connecting bits and pieces for my World War II historical, “Winter’s End,” due out this coming October.

Thanks for caring –



They say you can’t go home again… For single mom Julie Goldman, who long ago left the ghosts of her troubled youth behind her, inheriting her aunt’s old Victorian in the Black Hills mining town of Deadwood, South Dakota, is as much a test as a blessing. Her aunt was not the person she thought she knew, and a diary left by her long-dead cousin Kate sets Julie on a path to find her killer. But with two new murders in town, and a series of vague threats, Julie must overcome her personal demons to protect her daughter and stop the killer who has them clearly in his sights. : the miner’s canary barbara pronin

The Miner’s Canary: a novel by Barbara Pronin, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® ( 

Barbara Pronin saw her first byline in a community newsletter at age eight and was forever hooked on writing. She has worked over the years as an actress, a probation officer, a news editor, and a substitute teacher, the last of which inspired her first book, a non-fiction guide to effective subbing still in print more than 30 years later.

Her earlier mysteries, including three as Barbara Nickolae, earned kudos from such best-selling writers as Mary Higgins Clark and Tony Hillerman, and have recently been republished. Her latest mystery, “The Miner’s Canary,” was published last October. Her newest work, a World War II historical titled, “Winter’s End” is set for publication in October 2023.

A lover of dark chocolate, Greek sunsets, and Dodgers baseball, Barbara lives and works in Orange County, Calif., where she writes on real estate for RISMedia and is eagerly waiting for the next cast of characters to take up residence in her head and demand that she tell their story.



Guest Blogger ~ Marcia Rosen


Mysteries Have Their Place!

After landing on the moon…that could have been a fun location for a murder.

The Egyptian Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, or White House? They would be great locations for a good murder. In fact, they have been.

Major cities, small towns, and many made up villages have become the location for a murder mystery and, especially, several very successful mystery series.

There were plenty of murders in cities along Rt. 66. John Steinbeck named it the Mother Road. I think of it as the Murder Road.

Location was once considered everything in business…before technology. Location is still essential in a good mystery. Location is place, and place is as much a character in mysteries as the people.

Murder on the Orient Express—what a great location for a murder, moving and stopped.  As was the apartment in Rear Window, and another apartment in the haunting film, Laura. In and around London there were many murders with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and a fascinating one on an English Country Estate in Godsford Park.

We lovers of mysteries know that murders and other crimes have occurred on all sorts of moving vehicles, in different rooms in small homes and large estates, and possibly even in our own back yards?  Well, hopefully not! 

The lover of mystery books enjoys envisioning the place where a story takes them, and in movies and on television the place often becomes central to the appeal and importance of the story. It helps the viewer to become caught up in it, perhaps even feel a part of it.  Some plots are dark and frightening and provide an extra sense of anticipation for lovers of thrillers like the type written by Stephen King, and his locations add to the suspense.

The art of a murder mystery and investigation includes a private detective or the police or, in a cozy mystery, an amateur sleuth. The dialogue needs to create suspense with some foreshadowing and fake clues are followed and soon ignored. Finally, the arc of the murder mystery starts having the story lead to the chase of the real villains, who are caught—dead or alive—of course.

But, what about a location, where murder and mayhem terrorize the residents. Doors are locked and there are whispers and secrets behind those closed doors. Questions remain.  Who killed their neighbor’s wife in the alley next to the post office? Who stabbed the old man as he walked across the bridge late at night? Who pushed the young man off his apartment balcony? Why did the murderer run his or her car over the victim on a country road, the moon hidden behind the trees? Were there witnesses to any of these murders? Ah, where are they possibly located?

As a mystery writer, I believe location plays a huge part in the plot and ultimately when and where the murder is solved.  To escape murderers hide in a location fitting the plot, one designed to build up a sense of suspense and anticipation.

We as readers and viewers also enjoy explosive endings. There are gunfights and car chases up and down city streets. There are threats and demands until the final moments of capture. The movie Witness ended in an Amish barn. In the book The Name of the Rose, written by one of my favorite authors, Umberto Eco, the murders and the ending take place in an Abbey in the 1300s. In Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, the finale is on Mt. Rushmore. Another favorite of mine is Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Series taking place somewhere along the California coast. And, in historical fiction, the landscape fits the century and the plot.

Location, location, location. The book ends. The film is finished. Surely calm prevails, the dark sky is lighter, and all is right again. Or is it?

Send me your favorite mystery location. Author, We’ll add it to my site or possibly one of my social media posts. 
Thank you.


An Agatha, Raymond, Sherlock, and Me Mystery: “Murder at the Zoo”

A body is tossed into the lion’s habitat at the zoo where Miranda Scott is the senior vet. She and Detective Bryan Anderson join forces to unravel that mystery and several more murders. A fan since childhood of Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Sherlock Holmes they seem to live in her head, frequently telling her what to do…and not do. Murders, family, deceit, revenge, and a gangster father and godfather often get in the way of a fine romance between Miranda and the Detective.

Marcia Rosen (aka M. Glenda Rosen), award winning author of eleven books including The Senior Sleuths and Dying To Be Beautiful Mystery Series and The Gourmet Gangster: Mysteries and Menus (With son Jory Rosen). She is also author of The Woman’s Business Therapist and award winning My Memoir Workbook.       

Marcia is a member of numerous writing organizations and frequent guest speaker.

Why I Love Writing Mysteries

I’m feeling pretty good right now. I had set goals to publish four books this year. Granted the one that was published in February was mostly written last year, but I have another one coming out April 5th. 

It feels good after several years of always feeling behind to be ahead of schedule this year. The Squeeze, book 4 in the Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series was easy to write because I had been thinking about it for a while. I think that is what made it easier for me to finish the book so quickly. 

When I have time to think about a story or premise for a while before I actually write the story, my mind has already figured out the intricate details of the story. All I have to do is add in the red herrings and misdirections. 

That and this series has an ongoing subplot that started in the first book with my main character and her best friend/boyfriend having something in their past in common. His past, finding out who and where his father lived, has been dealt with. Now my main character is dealing with: is her father really dead as her mother said and was he really Cisco Alvaro? 

This subplot has added more emotion, backstory, and interesting curves to this series. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this mystery going but I like that it gives me a little more filler in the books between their searching for the murder victim.

I also like that it gives more depth and shows why my character, Dela, is unwilling to take the next step in her relationship with her boyfriend. He is ready to marry and settle down. She can’t until she knows who her father really was and why he was a secret. Add to that she just found out her mom has been seeing a man since Dela went into the Army and now they are planning to get married. She always thought her father ruined her mom for any other man. And why had she never met her mom’s fiancé before if they had been seeing one another for that long?

Soooo many mysteries besides the murder. Oh, I love writing this genre! I wish I had found the courage to continue with it back when I wrote my first mystery, instead of being sidelined from it for twenty years. But I’m writing it now and loving every gruesome, gut-wrenching, and inspiring word I write.

Ready to pre-order, releasing on April 5th. My hubby’s birthday!

The Squeeze

Book 4 in the Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series

Lies, deceit, blackmail.

Murder ends it all.

Or does it?

When an employee at the Spotted Pony Casino is caught leaving early, Dela Alvaro, head of security confronts the woman. The lies the woman tells only piques Dela’s curiosity. After witnessing the employee threatening a man, she is found murdered in her car parked in the driveway of her home.

Upon learning the woman used her job at the casino to blackmail men, Dela feels compelled to solve the woman’s murder and teams up with Tribal Officer Heath Seaver. Not only does the duo have a death to solve, but there is also a mystery behind Dela’s dead father. Not to mention, her mom just announced she’s marrying a man Dela has never met.