Wednesday, January 19, 2022


Writing suspenseful stories often leads me to investigating creepy places and  gruesome stories of real events.  Oftentimes what the adage said is true: real life is often scarier than a fictional world.

Blame my interest in the macabre on not having YA books when I was a middle-schooler. Faced with reading sweet boring books with no violence, sex, or s
wearing (boring), I turned to Stephen King to get a taste of something scary and different, and of course, spine-tingling.

At the head of the creepy list:  insane asylums. Now they're called "psychiatric hospitals," but until 1970, people were packed off
and put away in scary buildings for the mentally ill. Places that looked like this..

Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital

An 18th century "hospital" in Paris, France chained mentally ill women to posts. (Yikes!)

The first US psychiatric institution- early 19th century

Blackwell Island's Lunatic Asylum (their words, not mine!) in New York

Women doing laundry at the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, 1898
(I'm pretty sure doing laundry 24-7 would make me a bit insane too.

Pilgrim State Hospital - 1938
(Straight they still use these things?!?)

St Kevin's Psychiatric Hospital - Cork, Ireland
Closed down in 2002. Doesn't look too inviting to me...

If the people weren't crazy when they went in these places, I'm sure the deplorable conditions once they arrived made them go insane. What places 
scare you the most? Graveyards? Dark alleys? Caves? Under your bed?  Leave me a comment about your scariest places or experiences so I can incorporate some of your ideas into my next book. 

I live between a  lake and a forest, and have to admit, hearing a coyote howl nearby is pretty scary––-especially when accompanied by a victory song of several coyotes celebrating a kill.  Be sure to look for scary settings in my future novels.

'Til next time,

Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Legend of Sleepy Old-Fashioneds

I tasted my first old-fashioned only about two years ago. They're very popular in Wisconsin (where one of my daughters lives) and she encouraged me to try one. Hello, instant convert! 

I guess I was reluctant because I always thought it was an old man's drink filled with sherry and vermouth, maybe with raw squid and olive on a skewer?


The basic old-fashioned is bourbon (a kind of particular whiskey...), water, bitters, and sugar. 


Even better, there are dozens of variations of the old-fashioned, which is where the fun comes in. You can substitute spiced rum (another love of mine) for the bourbon, flavored sparkling water for plain, flavored bitters for traditional, and Stevia, cherries, or other sweetener instead of sugar.  Another cool thing to do is mull (grind the hell out of) some cherries or other fruit in the bottom of the glass before you pour the bourbon on top. (Sidenote: dark red cherries in a can are the bomb!)

I was never a true whiskey lover per se (drank too much Jack Daniel's once in my early 20's and then somehow my alcohol brain remembers and rejects it), but I'm learning to try new flavors and mixers.

The one pictured above is a Peachy Old-Fashioned.

  • Southern Comfort (my fave b/c it's on the sweeter side)
  • Fee Brothers Peach bitters
  • Klarbrunn sparkling peach mango soda
  • Door County Sour Cherries 
  • ice
Perfect for a "bitter"sweet fall day that tastes like a sip of autumn. Also a perfect cozy drink for reading by a fire. Cheers!

Til next time,

Sunday, December 22, 2019

To Newbie or Not New Be?

That is the question. It's a toughie, too.

After fifteen years of writing kidlit (mostly YA), I'm officially writing a suspenseful crime fiction novel for ADULTS! Loving the change and it feels like a great fit. But...on the other hand...I'm feeling like I'm starting all over again.

Some of the reasons I decided to take the plunge?

First of all, I LOVE watching LIVE PD, Fear Thy Neighbor, 48 Hours, and anything else on  ID Network. I feel like I've got police procedural down enough to make it feel right. Lots more to learn, but having a blast figuring it all out.

Plus, the character I'm writing feels super real to me. She's overweight, worried about everything, and is flawed. VERY flawed. But I love all of her crazy naughtiness and odd quirks. Granted, not everyone will like her, but that's just like real life.

So yes, though I feel like I'm out of my element, and quite like a newbie who just moved across the country (like in my favorite Christmas move, The Holiday), can I say I'm loving the experience?

NEWBIE or not to be? Not even a question.

Have you ever changed genres or the intended age of your readers? Any advice for making the transition smoother? Answer here or at my Facebook Author Page. 

Til next time,

Sunday, January 27, 2019

2019 Reading Challenge

I am! Ever since I moved last summer and now have to drive 25 minutes instead of 5 to work every day (I know...crazy, right?), I've been reading (okay...listening to) a book every other week.

I love Audible books, but I find that I often get in a rut, reading the same type of story for many months in a row, and then I get burned out on it. As a writer, I start to see what they mean about avoiding common tropes. COMMON TROPES,  Makes me want to scream when I figure out the ending when I'm only one-third into the story. It's always my goal to write stories that surprise readers.

My challenge to myself is to mix things up as far as my reading list. Here are some of my ideas:

  • A book by a debut author
  • One in a genre that I'm not familiar with
  • An award winner
  • A classic
  • A non-fiction motivational book
  • One written by a known comedian
Got any suggestions? What's on YOUR challenge list?

Til next time (hopefully it won't be as long as the last time!),

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Oh man, I love being invited to author events!

Even though I have three books out, sometimes I still feel like an imposter. It's always fun to talk about writing and the evolution of my stories and to just hang out with some literary giants. I'll be fangirling all over the place today. :)

Hope to see you there!

Til next time,

Saturday, December 3, 2016


HELP! What do I do with this unruly blob of words?


1)   First, CONGRATULATE yourself for attempting to write a novel.
     Many attempt, few finish. (BUT YOU WILL).

2)  IF you haven't done so already, finish the book before revising.
      Write daily or you’ll lose the "vibe" of your characters and their situation, much the same way when you don't keep in contact with friends. It takes awhile to reunite yourselves, but by writing every day, you can delve right back in. 

3)   Copy and paste the entire work onto another new document. First one should say TITLE/ NANO and then the second TITLE /REVISION 1/DEC 2016. Add add page numbers, double-space the document, and make the whole thing Times New Roman font size 12.

4)   Make a folder for this novel. That way any new revisions or anything else you might not be sure if you should save, you’ll have. Here’s what mine looked like for FLIP THE BIRD. (I tag the most current one and rename it with most current month after I’ve worked on it awhile). Why yes, I did work on this book for years...oy! You can (and I should) make a sub-folder that says "Old Versions of TITLE" so it's not so cluttered.

5)   Now comes the fun part or hard work, depending on how you feel about revision. Once I have the first draft done, I'm like "BRING IT ON!" Revision is my favorite. I imagine I'm Michaelangelo with a slab of granite looking like Alfred Hitchcock, but with a plan to make it into David. 

6)   Read through the manuscript start to finish. FIRST REVISION PASS: Open a blank document and note all scenes/ page numbers/ characters / action. (A "scene" takes place in the same location, for example, the airport. When the location changes, so does the scene. You can have more than one scene in a chapter depending on how long they spend in that location. You can also insert a chapter break or start new chapter.)


 1) HOME/ pages 1-11 / Mercer, Dad, & Lincoln/Trapping hawk

**This helps you to see how many pages each scene is and how often your characters are interacting etc. General overview**


You can use Plotting Template by Cindy Grigg to enter in information too. Provides a nice visual. )


7)  SECOND REVISION PASS // Under “Tools” - hit “Track changes” and start making notes for yourself as you read, and they'll show up in another color within the document. And/or if you prefer, you can also write notes for yourself in other colors / highlight / caps like shown below. *I'll go back later to fix, but I'm just making broad notes for myself as I read so I don't lose my train of thought.

8)  Third, fourth, and fifth (twentieth...) revision passes:  Copy and paste document and label it with whatever month/year it is when you finish a revision or make a major change. Each time you are honing things and putting them in order, but the other versions remain intact in case you accidentally delete something that you want to later take a look at. (See my first graphic above). 

9)   Create a separate document that says “Thoughts about TITLE” where you can brainstorm ideas and free flow about possibilities. Sometimes you get stuck about what to do so brainstorming multiple outcomes on paper without having to write the whole scene is valuable. By not censoring yourself, you'll get a variety of odd, but often viable, subplots or avenues that will work.  Here is one of my “stream of consciousness” plotting snippets.


10)  If you worry about deleting a cool line that you'll later regret, create a folder that says “TITLE / FAVORITE FRAGMENTS." That way you can relax knowing you can find it again if you change your mind. PS: I've never gone back into my "Favorite Fragments" folder to take anything back out, but I know when I first started writing, I hated to delete a really cool phrase (but it was overkill or didn't fit the situation), so this helped me get over that. :)

Good Luck! 🍀  
Shoot me a question in the comments or email me directly. 

Til next time,


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

FLIP THE BIRD is about to SOAR on November 1st!

SQUAWK1 Less than one week until FLIP THE BIRD is born. Can't wait until he makes his fledgling flight and lands in hands of readers all over the world.

If you want to read an excerpt or to try your luck at winning a free copy, check out any of the stops on the tour here: ROCK STAR BOOK TOUR

Mercer Buddie wants two things in this world: a girlfriend and the chance to prove to his master falconer father that he’s not a flake. With hunting season fast approaching, fourteen-year-old Mercer has only a short time to work with Flip, a red-tailed hawk he irreverently named to show his dad that falconers don’t have to be so serious all the time.
     When Mercer meets Lucy, he falls hard for her gorgeous looks and bubbly personality. He thinks his love life is about to take flight, until he discovers that Lucy and her family belong to a fanatical animal-rights organization called HALT—a group that believes imposing any sort of restrictions on animals is a form of cruelty. Mercer soon realizes that if he wants to keep seeing Lucy, he’ll need to keep his love of falconry and his family’s raptor rehabilitation center a secret from her, and Lucy’s involvement with HALT from his family.
     With humor and honesty, Mercer’s story shows how growing up means making difficult choices…and sometimes, being rewarded in unexpected ways.'


Gr 7 Up—Scoot over, Don Calame—Brunner is about to join you on your perch. This is not a book for the squeamish. It's about falconry at its finest, but it is also about much more than that. On his way to capture his first hawk, Mercer Buddie meets the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, she is also the daughter of pro-animal activists. Mercer must come to terms with who he is, who he wants to be, and the belief systems he wishes to espouse and reconcile those with his desire to be with a hot girl. The humor is bawdy, though not quite as ribald as Calame's, and the accounts of hunting and dispatching prey are as honest as the descriptions of what happens when animal rights extremists "save" animals from humans. Brunner also introduces the issue of animal research and why adorable canines may just be the answer to human cardiac conditions. Readers will think deeply about their beliefs and why they hold those values right along with the protagonist. The puns, including Mercer's decision to name his red-tailed hawk Flip, keep an otherwise heavy subject from becoming too grisly. Lovers of Sterling North's Rascal, Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf, and Calame's Dan Versus Nature will flock to this tale about a teen and his hawk. VERDICT Get multiple copies for nature-loving reluctant readers.—Jodeana Kruse, R. A. Long High School, Longview, WA --School Library Journal

"Brunner writes an impassioned story with real-life moral dilemmas. Abundant details of falconry, the result of the author's own falconry apprentice lessons... root the story solidly in a fascinating world new to most readers. An engaging story of a young teen finding what's most important in his life."—Kirkus

“An exciting adventure into the art of falconry and the heart of a young man.”
—DAVID LUBAR, author of Hidden Talents and Character, Driven

"His experiences with HALT help him realize the importance of understanding the difference between information and propaganda, and the value in thinking for himself."

"Lovers of Sterling North’s Rascal, Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf, and Calame’s Dan Versus Nature will flock to this tale about a teen and his hawk. . . Get multiple copies for nature-loving reluctant readers."--SLJ


Writing suspenseful stories often leads me to investigating creepy places and  gruesome stories of real events.  Oftentimes what the adage s...