Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 - HaPpY NeW YeAr!

First, I'd like to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Whether last year was good or bad for you personally, it's always fun to look forward to a new beginning.

I've been very busy personally - cruising and then spending Christmas at Disney World here in Florida. We also are in the process of buying a house in Tennessee and next week we will drive up to close and get the house set up. Yes, a new adventure!

I also wanted to pass along a nice author interview at Book Goodies, it's a fun way to learn a little more about me.

Writing? Well, I am over half way through the first draft of Almost a Touch. I got sick for the entire  two weeks of our Hawaii cruise so didn't get as far as I'd hoped. I have gone through two edits on my compilation of children's fantasy short stories, 7 Days of Seven. I hope to have that published by the end of January.

Curious - do you make new year resolutions? Are they ever successful? I try to set goals and manage maybe a 50% success rate. Here's to 2017!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#IWSG for November 2016: TIME (Where has the year gone?)

The year is almost gone and I find it's time for another IWSG post. The last time I posted was in July. Eeep! So what is IWSG? Direct from their site:
To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The theme for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group is TIME.

It seems like yesterday - we were moving back to the US from Ecuador. So many plans. SO BUSY! Time has flown. Personal stuff has taken precedence over writing. I feel like so little has been accomplished.

I did get some writing done on our spring cruises. I finished the first draft of my middle grade fantasy short stories and I got a couple of chapters written in my third Klondike Mystery, Almost a Touch. But that is all until the past two weeks when I got the second round of edits done on the 7 Days of Seven short stories. I also got a cover done (updated since my last post since the title slightly changed). I am entering the last of the edits and then it goes to my first editor for reading. I still hope to get it published this year.

Oh, and I did get a short story published in an anthology benefitting those on the coast of Ecuador impacted by the earthquakes. Check it out: Omnibus: Friends in Foreign Places-The Complete Works: An Expat Anthology, Volumes 1-5.

And I almost forgot, my novella for the Lei Crime Kindle Worlds, Paradise Down. It has been well received and next year I hope to write two more, making it a trilogy.
Recent Review: 
"McNicol writes with a voice much like Toby, so both characters and stories feel familiar. Plus, it's fun to meet new characters and reacquaint with old friends. Well done!"
As to Almost a Touch, the third in the Klondike Mystery series, I'd love to promise it will be written by the end of the year, but realistically, that's not going to happen. Why? Well, it's that personal life stuff. The next three days are moving days - driving the RV (our home) from MD to FL for the winter. Then in two weeks we fly to California and will be either visiting friends or cruising for a month. We no sooner get back home to FL, then we move the RV to Disney World's Fort Wilderness campground for Christmas. Then, it will basically be the end of the year.

So, my current goal (and hopefully a realistic one) will be to get the first draft done and in editing by March. Note I didn't say WHEN in March...LOL!

Time is NOT on my about you? Did you hit your goals for this month, quarter or year?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Busy, busy, oh yeah, and BUSY!

Why does personal life have to get in the way? It's all good (eventually) but it sure takes a toll on writing time. I can't even remember the last book I read...I think it was last winter on one of our cruises. Sigh....

But I did manage to get first/second draft edits done on my middle school fantasy book. Seven short stories, full of fun, fantasy and fiction. I hope to have it published next month.

Here is the tentative cover image - what do you think?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Get or Give (or BOTH)

I have a special request. Most of my readers know that I lived in Ecuador for two years. We made many friends, both expats and locals during our time there. Not too long after we returned to the US, Ecuador suffered devastating earthquakes on the coast.
A devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake has struck Ecuador resulting in death and massive destruction. Among the most impacted towns is Canoa, Manabi; just a few miles off the epicenter of the earthquake, leaving it 90% destroyed.
Our good friend Sara Coppler, who has experience in disaster relief, relocated from Cuenca to Canoa to aid in the recovery. You can read more about her efforts here. Other friends aided in the initial relief efforts by collecting food, money and clothing.

But the need will go on for a long time. Author Scarlett Braden, a close friend, came up with the idea of creating an anthology of stories written about expats by expats with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit Proyecto Saman, a project that provides housing and a safe living environment for people whose lives were shattered by the earthquakes.

Many of my expat friends have written non-fiction accounts of their encounters and a few more have written short fiction stories. For those interested, I have an unusual short fiction story that differs from most. I hope you enjoy mine and all the others.

If you can't buy the book, I hope you will tell all your friends about this extraordinary effort (and share this blog post). I bought it and I will be gifting a couple of copies as well. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Rolling along....

Yes, life has been busy. Just how busy? Take a peek at my personal blog post about the last month!

While I am on the cruise, I am trying to edit my middle grade fantasy short story series. I've decided to put them all in one book. Hoping to get that done in the next week or so. Watch for the announcement about "7 of Seven".

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Still all about the weather....

Yes, I've been remiss in blogging. I hope I still have a few of you hanging on. It's been a busy summer, at least personally. We have moved from the campground in the Plattsburgh, NY area to one in the Watertown area. The Adirondacks are spectacular for motorcycle riding and sightseeing. We're taking advantage of the good days to do just that.

Now we are getting ready to move to the Finger Lakes area of NY for four nights. Really hoping the weather continues to cooperate. So far the forecast looks good! From there we spend three nights in Milton, PA before moving on to three more nights in Gettysburg, PA. Then we arrive in Delaware for a week with the grandkids before settling in on the eastern shore of Maryland for September and October.

As to writing, I've been having some issues. Sorry! I've been under the weather and finding it hard to concentrate. I'm hoping as soon as this energy sucking virus leaves, I will be able to focus on that again. Thank you all for being so patient.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Enjoying the weather....

Parking at the Escapade. The arrow is pointing to our RV with our truck parked behind it.
Just a quick note so you, my faithful readers, don't think I've deserted you. We have recovered from our big RV rally event in Vermont, where we enjoyed meeting up with old and new friends, did a lot of great motorcycle riding (including Ben & Jerry's - yum), returned to upstate NY and the Adirondacks, done more riding, were joined by friends from Canada, did more riding (do you see a trend here?) and now I'm catching up on blogs before I get back into writing.

It was really fun to visit Bradford, PA and see [again] where my Klondike mysteries are based. I'm working on book three, almost ready to tackle chapter fourteen. Phew! Still a long way to go, but it will get done and published this year! Promise!

We are truly enjoying a summer up north with highest temps in the mid-80's (for the most part). Nights are in the mid to upper 60's, great sleeping weather with the windows open. I know a lot of the country is sweltering, fighting fires and floods - my heart goes out to everyone. The weather, it seems, is changing - for whatever reason. I am doubly happy that we can plan to spend our time where it seems to be the most pleasant.

In the meantime, if you haven't read my latest novella, it makes for great summer (beach/lake/vacation) reading. Give it a try!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Klondike Book Territory!

As I said in my last blog, we're traveling and the availability of WiFi/Internet access would be iffy. It turned out to be worse than expected. Beautiful campsites, terrible phone service. LOL!

I have finally caught up on my backlog of emails and "to do" items and will hopefully get some writing done over the next week.

So you may not hear from me for a while - but I wanted to share some photos from the area where my Klondike Mystery books are set.

The ice cream shop at the bottom of the hill.
Perkins Restaurant
McDonald's with the working oil well
Some shots taken around Bradford:

Some shots taken "up on the hill" in the Klondike area:

Monday, July 11, 2016

On the road again....

We are on the move!! Because our WiFi access is unknown, I'm scheduling this in advance. We have reservations in several places/states between now and the Escapade in Essex Junction, VT (July 23rd-31st). We will post when we can but feel free to check out my Facebook page, too.

I don't expect to get much writing done this month, might have to devote the month of August to that. I REALLY need to finish the first draft of Almost a Touch soon. Then I need another two months, minimum, to get it edited. Eeep!!! Hang in there readers!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

#IWSG for July 2016: Promotion

Half the year is officially gone and I find it's time for another IWSG post. Every month seems to pass by faster and faster. What is IWSG? Direct from their site:
To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The theme for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group is PROMOTION.

As an independent author, I find it harder and harder to figure how where to get the most BANG for my BUCK. My inbox is deluged with offers to advertise, to purchase services to advertise, etc. The names that used to be good are either going under or raising their prices sky high (at least for a mystery author).

What are you doing for promotion and marketing? Do you have an assistant? Do you spend your valuable time using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)? Do you wish you could just write the book and have someone else do the marketing? I sure do!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Today is the day!

Okay, so it ended up being yesterday, but I hope you will still read it. Then comment so you can be entered for the prizes listed!

Want to learn more about me and my novella Paradise Down, part of the Lei Crime Mysteries? Check out my interview at

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Still a chance to WIN!

Did you miss our big Facebook online giveaway?

NO problem.

There are still prizes to be won. Five more days from TODAY, so click and enter!


In addition, on June 30th, Lei Crime Series author Toby Neal will be hosting Lei Crime Kindle World authors on her blog. There will be interviews (yes, I'm on - July 4th) and more prizes, so stop on by.

Here is a list of the participating authors - all have written at least one Lei Crime Series Kindle World book.
6/30: Toby Neal
7/1: Lynda Filler
7/2: Amy Allen Hallmark
7/3: Fiona Manning
7/4: Donna Blanchard McNicol
7/5: Noelle Pierce
7/6: Patricia Sands
7/7: David Schoonover
7/8: Carol Shenold
7/9: Amy Shojai
7/10: Helen Yee, Julie Gilbert, Scott Bury, AJ Llewellyn
7/11: Shawn McGuire, Terry Ambrose
I hope to see you there, posting your questions and comments. Since I will be traveling, I may not be able to reply right away, but I will reply as soon as I possibly can!

Monday, June 27, 2016

NEW BOOK: "Dead Man Lying"

One of my author friends has a new book out. I don't always post when this happens because it happens a lot. But this is a special case. Author Scott Bury has written the Lei Crime Kindle World novella, Dead Man Lying. That was the book that gave me one of the characters in my novella, Paradise Down.

The character is FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm. I was lucky to read an advanced copy of Dead Man Lying and learned even more about Vanessa. She is an interesting character for sure, and yes, she will be featured in a future Lei Crime Kindle World novella of mine.

Now available at Amazon
Dead Man Lying
A Lei Crime Kindle World Mystery

She knows when you’re lying …FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm is back on Maui to catch a killer.

With lush rain forests, black sand beaches, and a laid-back lifestyle, Maui offers the perfect retirement location for once-famous country singer Steven Sangster … until he ends up dead.

As the killer, or killers, strike again and again, Detective Lei Texeira and FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm must untangle the lies spun by the singer’s associates, friends, family — and the singer himself before the music dies.
Two young women stood on an eroded, rough low platform made of volcanic rock that had been placed in the midst of the rain forest. Long fronds and branches hung low over it, weighted by rain that had only recently stopped. Yellow tape strung from tree to tree in a rough ring around the platform drooped with the weight of the rain, too, obscuring the words “Police Line Do Not Cross.”

The air was heavy with moisture and the smell of wet soil, flowers and the unique, spicy aroma of Hawaii.

The taller woman was fit, with shoulder-length dark blond hair and large green eyes. She wore the office-formal blue blazer, dress pants and shoes that broadcast “FBI.” She leaned carefully over one edge of the eroded platform, where some shifting in the earth below it had opened a narrow gully. Its bottom was littered with lava boulders that matched those remaining on the platform. More fronds reached over its edges from the forest around it, as if they were also trying to see the bottom. 

“It doesn’t look that deep — maybe ten feet,” she said. FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm’s foot slipped on the wet rock and she took a step back. The next time I come to Hana, I’m wearing hiking shoes, she thought.

She crouched down on the platform, the heels of her hands at the crumbling edge, trying not to let her pants touch the rock surface. 

“It wasn’t the fall that killed him,” Maui Police Detective Lei Texeira answered. “The coroner feels he was dead before he fell off the edge. That’s his initial thought, anyway. It will have to be confirmed in the lab.”

Vanessa looked down into the narrow pit again. “There’s nothing to mark where the body was,” she said.

“The rain washed it all away,” Texeira replied. “At this time of year in Hana, it rains every day.”

“It looks like it,” said Vanessa. The forest here was very thick, and the path that led from the estate down the slope to the lava platform in the forest was like a tunnel. Vanessa could just make out the corner of one of the outbuildings far below. Hidden in the branches, birds twittered and peeped, and occasionally she could hear large drops of water hitting lower leaves or the forest floor. “Should we be standing on this? It being a historical artifact?”

“Not really,” Lei answered. “The local Hawaiian cultural organizations are going to complain about it. But this is the only way to see the death site.”

They stood on top of the remains of a heiau, an ancient Hawaiian temple. All that was left was an uneven platform of piled lava rocks, worn by rain, maybe twenty feet across. The creeping roots of the rain forest had eaten its edges. Vanessa eyed the side that had collapsed into the gully, wondering how big the ancient temple had been when it was built.

Watching where she stepped, Vanessa carefully made her way across the heiau, toward the path through the jungle back toward the house and other buildings on the estate. “Is that typical, a historical, cultural artifact on a private estate like this?” 

Texeira was right behind her. “It’s unusual. This heiau was abandoned and forgotten centuries ago, and rediscovered only after Steve Sangster had bought the property. Now that he’s dead, you can bet some cultural organizations are going to be making a lot of noise for it to be turned over to the government or a museum.”

Vanessa paused at the edge of the forest to try to rub some of the dirt off her shoes. “Steve Sangster. I can’t believe I’m investigating his death. Did you like his music, Detective Texeira?”

“Call me Lei. Yeah, I love all that folksy rock stuff. I even had one of Steven Sangster’s albums as a girl. Did you?”

Vanessa could not repress a smile. “I was a big fan. I had all his old CDs — still do. I had such a crush on him when I was 16. He was so handsome.”

Lei smiled back. “The blue eyes and the square chin, huh?”

So this is the famous Lei Texeira, Vanessa thought, looking at the slender detective with her peripheral vision while appearing to study the heiau. She was small for a cop, but athletic, with beautiful big brown eyes and a sprinkle of freckles across her cheeks and nose. Her features spoke of a mixture of Hawaiian, Asian and European extraction. Her dark brown curls rippled to her shoulders, and Vanessa wondered briefly how much of the curling was due to the incredible humidity of Hana, on Maui’s rain coast.

 “Is this where it happened?” said an unfamiliar voice. Vanessa and Lei turned and Vanessa’s shoe slipped again. Her knee buckled and she almost went down, but Lei’s small hand grabbed her arm, steadying her. Vanessa was impressed — Lei was stronger than she looked.

...and that is just the beginning of the fun in this fast paced mystery. I hope you will grab a copy and enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Facebook Online Party - June 27th #LeiCrimeKW

Monday, June 27 at 6 PM - 8 PM

Join Toby Neal, author of the original Lei Crime Series, and more than a dozen Lei Crime Series Kindle Worlds authors (Yup, I'll be there!) for a fun gathering with tons of giveaways to celebrate the launch of a host of new Lei Crime novellas June 30!

Meet the new authors, participate in hilarity, snag some cool swag, and be entered for a multi-gift grand prize! Oh, and tell/invite all your friends.

Come join us, just click HERE. Oh, and if we aren't Facebook friends - feel free to send me a friend request, just let me know you are a FAN of my books.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Setting Thesaurus Books Are Here: Help Becca And Angela Celebrate!

If you have ever looked at my resource page, you will see three books by Becca & Angela:


Well, now they are coming out with two new books. Here is some information on THE SETTINGS - Urban and Rural. I know I'll be getting them as soon as they are available!

As we storytellers sit before the keyboard to craft our magic, we're usually laser-focused on the two titans of fiction: plot and character. Yet, there's a third element that impacts almost every aspect of the tale, one we really need to home in on as well: the setting.

The setting is so much more than a painted backdrop, more than a stage for our characters to tromp across during the scene. Used to its full advantage, the setting can characterize the story's cast, supply mood, steer the plot, provide challenges and conflict, trigger emotions, help us deliver those necessary snippets of backstory...and that's just scratching the surface. So the question is this: how do we unleash the full power of the setting within our stories?

Well, there's some good news on that front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

 In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Rural Setting Thesaurus: Ancient Ruins.

And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT.

At the heart of the Writers Helping Writers site is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!