The House of Donato Series Box Set

I’m thrilled to offer a box set of all three books in The House of Donato Series, available on Amazon for a limited time at the reduced price of $3.99. This is a great chance to, more or less, get two books for FREE!

Valentine Romance Giveaway

I’m very excited to be part of my first InstaFreebie Group Giveaway. Find forty-three (43) different Romances (Chick-Lit, Romantic Comedies, etc.) you can download for FREE. Click the picture to learn more.

ChickLit Freebies


Goodreads Giveaway of Margaret

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Margaret by Patricia M. Jackson


by Patricia M. Jackson

Giveaway ends February 14, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Margaret: Available on Amazon

Margaret: Book #3 in the House of Donato Series

Available on Amazon

From Jan. 13 – Jan. 17 Download Margaret for FREE. Regularly priced at $3.99, from Jan. 18 – Jan. 22 the price goes up to $0.99. Get it while it’s hot!

What holds a relationship together during difficult times?

Peggy, a gifted pianist, building a future at Julliard, finds herself roommates with Brian Donovan. He was only doing her a favor, too occupied with law school and working for the FBI to notice she was around. At least he was kind enough to explore Manhattan together.

Donovan has no interest in a relationship with the luscious and exotic Peggy, convinced that there is no place in a cop’s life for a family. When a hot case causes disharmony, they end up playing a different tune. Do they have what it takes to guard their new love against harm?

Margaret is the culmination of a new adult romance series, “The House of Donato.” This pleasantly paced tale filled with real-world conflict, ripped from the headlines, skillfully interweaves suspense and passion into a story three books in the making. Enjoy this sensitive love story today.

Margaret: Available for PreOrder

Margaret: Book #3 in the House of Donato Series 

Available for PreOrder on Amazon

What holds a relationship together during difficult times?

Peggy, a gifted pianist, building a future at Julliard, finds herself roommates with Brian Donovan. He was only doing her a favor, too occupied with law school and working for the FBI to notice she was around. At least he was kind enough to explore Manhattan together.

Donovan has no interest in a relationship with the luscious and exotic Peggy, convinced that there is no place in a cop’s life for a family. When a hot case causes disharmony, they end up playing a different tune. Do they have what it takes to guard their new love against harm?

Margaret is the culmination of a new adult romance series, “The House of Donato.” This pleasantly paced tale filled with real-world conflict, ripped from the headlines, skillfully interweaves suspense and passion into a story three books in the making. Sign-up for pre-order to get this sensitive love story for only 99 cents on Jan 13th.

The Waterside Sentinel

I was conceived with warm, loving hands in a spirit of fun and adventure. All things so conceived rarely stay intact and inevitably I shall not survive. I was inspired thought destined to act only as a temporary sentinel of the reality and goings on around Waterside. I stand now on the frozen pond, proudly facing the gales and gusts of December alone. There’s no snow on the ground any longer, except at my base, a despondent dissolving line of slush lovingly created by Grandpa Nick in a moment of festive cheer. His love for his grandchildren was my germ of my creation.

The winds are strong today, after the torrential rains and squalls of Christmas Day. The sky had been filled with deafening thunder and lightning that saturated the gloomy, gray heavens of the holiday. The air is filled with flakes and pellets of ice that bite into my snowy cheeks and clash against my being. I’m just so thankful that the rain has stopped as it was eating, like acid against my flesh, withering my being inch by inch with every blast.

The children are gone now, having hauled the gifts from their grandparents to their own homes and preparing for another year of school. In a few days, they will forget all about me but I will remain sturdy and steadfast until that magic day when the rain makes me completely forgotten. I will remain here as the sentinel of this neighborhood, protecting and seeing all. I watch the beaver as he hides in his strong and cozy hut, sleeping peacefully through the winter. My being will melt away until I become from whence I came, a part of the beauty of nature. Until that time, I will see to my post and watch over my kingdom.


Holiday Desperation

GravyEarlier this year, I published a blog post for those of us inclined to plan extensively for the Christmas holiday season. Now it’s time for everybody else: those who have either failed to plan, had life happen to them (that’s me this year) or who wouldn’t ever think of planning for Christmas. Hubby and myself have both been down for extended periods this fall with influenza (or a similar dread illness) and there just wasn’t an opportunity to shop for the holidays. I certainly didn’t feel up to dragging myself through a mall only to expose countless numbers of citizens to the virus that had done me dirt. So I find myself in the rare position of not having planned much at all for the holidays and I know I’m behind.

So what is there to do? Is it too late to redeem myself and, assuming I won’t be on death’s door by December 25, come up with some type of holiday to remember and cherish?

The following are some helpful links with tips to save the day. All is not lost. Sometimes, even with the greatest of intentions and plans, life has a way of making you sit up and take notice of what’s really important. I have a roof over my head, I’m not starving and I have love in my life. The rest is, pardon the pun, gravy.


Pre-Holiday Diet Promises

Holiday MealEvery year it happens. Those of us who deal with weight issues are confronted with holiday parties, desserts, meals, and meal preparation that tempt us, tire us and add a few pounds that we do not need. And every year I make myself the same promises. I will not over-eat. I will not give into temptation. I will maintain a healthy diet.

Some years I’m more successful than others at keeping my promises to myself. I’ve found, at least for me, that it’s a lot easier if I go into the holidays with a mindset and a plan for how to handle nutrition. The planning is part of my overall scheme to keep myself and my family stay healthy and happy.

The handful of years where I stuck to my plan, I was able to come out of the holiday season without having gained weight and I didn’t feel as though I’d “suffered” or “sacrificed” anything from the joy of the season.

Maybe this isn’t an issue for you. If it is, I’ve included a few links to helpful plans that you can consider to help you with a plan to keep your scale from becoming your enemy after Santa comes to visit.

Eating Well article

American Heart Association guide

Sutter Health Community Health Resource Center

Real Simple article

WebMD Naughty List of Holiday Foods

UCLA Dining Guide

Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Squash

halloween-jack-o-lanterns-1056413-640x480We find ourselves, once again, approaching Halloween with its ghosts, goblins, and candy in abundance. One of the tried and true emblems of this holiday is the glorious pumpkin. Many a child has longed for the day when mom or dad take a carving knife to the orange mass, after picking through piles of them to find just the right size and shape for the desired effect on Halloween evening. I loved when my mom would pull the “guts” out, clean them in a strainer and roast the seeds in the oven with a little olive oil and salt. There was no better treat on the earth.

So what about that glorious orange fruit has made it the wonder, symbol and spiked-tooth representative of the holiday? How did that one veggie get such an honor? And is it a veggie or is it a fruit?

Squash3 03JUL2012What follows are fun facts you didn’t know about squash. There are links if you’re interested in more information, including the historical reason why pumpkins are used for “Jack-O-Lanterns.” Who knew there was so much to know about squash?

  • Pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers.
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.
  • In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
  • Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.
  • Pumpkins are 90 percent water.
  • Squash comes from the Narragansett Indian word “askutasquash.” This roughly translates into “eaten raw or uncooked.”

Christmas in October

Christmas in OctoberYou may be saying to yourself: Serious? She’s talking about Christmas in October? So you think October might be too early to start thinking about Christmas? Well, you may be right, but I contend that for some people, it’s just about perfect, if not a little late.

When it comes to Christmas, in my experience, there tend to be two types of people: those who can’t plan enough and those who like to do things last-minute. Perhaps it’s the same types of people who try to get ahead in high-school, making sure all their assignments get turned in on time, who keep up with the reading throughout the semester and study for two hours the night before the final … those are the planners. The other group is the kids who partied four nights a week, crammed the last week of the semester to see if they could turn everything in before the end of the term and stayed up late drinking caffeine until their bladders swam in Diet Coke … those are your last-minute shoppers.

This post is for the planners of the world. It’s October and time to start your Christmas plans. Get the lists going, plan your budget and menus, update your addresses for sending cards and plan this stuff out. Need some ideas? Some checklists? The following links are for you! I’ve tried to sort out everything the planning-type-person would ever need.

I’ve done the Christmas thing both ways, but I can say I was never really “in the mood” when I did thing by the seat of my pants. Even when I decided not to stress about things, not having a plan made me crazy by the big day, even when it was just the two of us having turkey and no gifts. Personally, I am much more able to get in a holiday spirit if I know where the money is coming from, have an idea of what we’re doing, when, how and with whom and can look forward to festivities. Even if things change, at least it’s a pathway in the wilderness.

Have fun planning for the holiday and, if you’re one of those last-minute people, just hold on. I’ll have a post for you in December!!

Christmas Planner Checklists

The Ultimate Checklist – From Soup to Nuts

101 Days to Christmas (Started Sept 15th, but you can catch-up, right?)

Financial Planning for Christmas (Great tips for online shopping!)

General Shopping Advice

Wiki How’s Shopping Advice (You can never fail with Wiki How.)


Happy Step Family Day

StepFamilyDayFamilies come in all sizes and shapes. Families are not defined as they were in the 1950s, the Cleaver-version with a mom wearing heels and pearls waiting at home for dad to come home so she can bring him a cocktail, a pipe, and slippers while their 2.2 children anxiously await him coming back from the office. I’m thrilled the days of Ward and June, Wally, and The Beaver are over.

The world today has families of all sizes, shapes, and varieties. My husband and I (and our little dog too) make up a type of household commonly referred to as DINKs (Dual Income No Kids).

One of the most prevalent types of families today are Step Families and today is a special day to take the time to honor and celebrate living in or having a family close to you defined as a “Step Family.” It is an extraordinary kind of family that originates from loss, therefore, inherently, anyone living in such a family is managing, in some fashion or another, sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small ways, how members adjust to and grieve that loss.

Whether stepfamilies come about as a result of the death of a parent or divorce, the resulting remarriage, even without kids, constitutes a different kind of relationship that needs care, time and consideration of all the emotional baggage and issues involved the loss. Even when the children in stepfamilies are adults, there are still sometimes issues of concern that arise.

I had two step-grandparents myself growing up, which was somewhat unusual in those days. I always considered it an honor to have three sets of grandparents instead of two. I treated them as if they were my actual grandparents and hoped they thought of me as their grandchild. That’s not to say that the boat my step family rode in was always in smooth waters, but we stayed on the boat and nobody ever drowned. There were occasional times of conflict to work through. There were rarely times when everybody was happy all of the time, but the resiliency of a stepfamily can be just as strong as a natural one-couple family.

Take time to today to celebrate your stepfamily, the half or step-people in your life. The following links are excellent resources to help guide families through the transitional periods involved with newly-forming stepfamilies. There are some great FAQs and clarification of some commonly held myths about stepfamilies.

We no longer have to fear the wicked step-mother who won’t let Cinderella go to the ball. Stepmothers are rarely that evil. Let’s try to think of them as the Lady dad found to love instead. It’s hard to hate someone your daddy loves.

Information From:

National StepFamily Resource Center

Fact Sheet

Common Myths


American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Great Places to See Fall Colors

Maybe you’ve noticed, but I love autumn. There is something about the colors of nature in the fall season that I think cannot be improved upon. After all, Mother Nature is an amazing artist. Every year I make an effort to see as much of the brilliant tapestry of Her artwork as I possibly can. In my case, you are likely to find me roaming Highway 61 between Duluth and Grand Marais. It is an amazingly beautiful drive along the North Shore of Lake Superior that cannot be beat.

Not everyone has the world’s biggest lake as a backdrop, but almost everyone can find fall colors. Perhaps this post can help you find a beautiful drive in your area. These sites have pictures, maps and sometimes advice on the best time to plan a trip. ENJOY the picture show this autumn. Have fun and be careful driving!!  You still have to keep your eye on the road part of the time.

  • The Mississippi River
    The Mississippi River
  • Michigan
  • The Midwest
    The Midwest
  • East Texas
    East Texas
  • The Ozarks
    The Ozarks
  • Oregon
  • New England
    New England

United States – Find a Scenic Drive Near You


Michigan Tours

Midwest Tours

East Texas

The Ozarks


New England


A Final Goodbye to Jacob

TwentJacob-Wetterlingy-seven years ago (minus fifty days) I started a search for someone I never met. I’ve been looking out of the corner of my eye ever since that day on October 22, 1989 for a patch of red in every bean or cornfield I pass. Every time I walked or hiked a trail along a river or a forest stream anywhere in the State of Minnesota I looked for an eleven-year-old boy named Jacob.

I was a college freshman, albeit a twenty-three-year-old college freshman, the day Jacob Wetterling was abducted and I heard about it that evening when I was at a Michael W. Smith concert in downtown St. Cloud. I walked home that night along the banks of the Mississippi River searching for that child. I searched that river for hours that night. My friends thought I was nuts, but my heart went out to another woman named Patty whose life was forever changed that day. I went out to St. Joseph, through St. Cloud, all over Central Minnesota, looking for that kid. I walked for miles, through hills and valleys, swamps and forests. Every spare moment I had I spent looking for him until the snow was so deep and the weather so cold that it just wasn’t possible for anyone to find him alive.

I remember the day I decided to stop actively looking for him myself. I sat in the bathroom of Mitchell Hall and cried my eyes out, knowing, deep in my heart, that it was highly unlikely anyone would ever find him alive. I wondered then and I still wonder today if I walked past his body somewhere, if I missed some mound of overturned earth where someone buried him in a frantic, hectic and evil moment.

Today is the end of my searching. I can stop looking for him now. I can stop leaving my light on for him. Those feelings I had so many years ago when my own personal search for him ended have all come flooding back to the surface. My heart aches for his mother, father and siblings. I cannot even imagine what is going through their hearts and minds on a day like today, to finally find him after such a long time.

I cannot understand what lurks in the heart or mind of a man who could sit by for this long and watch people going through the kind of longing and searching that people in Central Minnesota and the state as a whole have gone through. What kind of a monster lets people he talks to every day search in vain for someone, walk through forests and glens, swamps and gullies until their feet have blisters, when he knew it was for nothing? I don’t want to understand that kind of a person. All I can say to him is may God have mercy on your soul because no woman or man on Earth will.

Today is a day to finally say goodbye in my mind to that search and to a boy I never knew and never found. May his soul continue to rest in peace. God has had him in his loving embrace all this time and will hold him forever. May his family someday come to find some semblance of peace from this unspeakable loss.

The Value of Persistence

The Value Of Persistence

In my work, I am often called upon to act as a mentor to younger people who are gaining experience my field. Today I gave someone some salient advice under this type of circumstance. “Just try it. What’s the worst that can happen? You may fail miserably, but you just might learn something from it.”
So many times our society does not consider persistence as a necessary element to survival. It seems easier to throw up your hands in dismay and declare, “Well, I tried. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.” But appearances can be deceiving. What seems like the best course of action, is the opposite of what a person should do. If that same person, under the same circumstances, were to refuse the instant and simple action and instead plod on, even when encountering failure, they may, and most probably would achieve success.

There are, of course, contrary notions, including the definition of insanity: trying the same thing over, time and again, without changing any input variations, the resulting outcome is unlikely to be different. If, however, something is learned from a failure, so that inspire changes to some key variable to the process, then it is valuable to fail and try again, resolving identified as the root causes of a problem.

These are tried and true methods of scientific experimentation. It holds true outside of scientific endeavors as well. Many famous and extraordinarily successful authors, such as Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling, have all been quoted as expounding on the value of persistence as the biggest key factor attributing to their eventual triumphs. Consider the world of sports and one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Ted Williams. In his very best year, his hitting percentage was only slightly higher than forty percent of the time. What that means is that, in his most productive period, he failed almost sixty percent of the time, and for that, he has been lauded as one of the most popular and effective players of all time. If he had given up when he was hitting 300, he never would’ve gotten to the point where he was hitting 400.

Whether you are a scientist, a musician, a writer, a reader, a parent or a student, the key to your success is persistence. Don’t give up. Think of an ant and a rubber tree plant (I’m thinking of the song “High Hopes” here) if you need to, but giving up can’t ever be an option if you truly want to get ahead in this world. And by failing, you probably will learn something.
Here are a couple of quotes by some pretty famous men who did fairly well in their chosen field:

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in. — Bill Bradley, U.S. Senator, Olympic gold medal winner, Hall-of-Fame Basketball Player for the NY Knicks

Energy and persistence conquer all things. – Benjamin Franklin, Author, Scientist, Publisher, Statesman, Inventor, U.S Ambassador

How To Write An Amazon Review

Are you new to book reviewing? Did you read something that was so incredibly good that you want to share it with the world? This is a post to help you write an Amazon review even if you aren’t very tech-savvy. If you are, then you can skip down to The Non-Technical Stuff.


The Technical Stuff:

First of all, I have NO idea what a Paleo Diet is. This book is used only as an example of how to write a review, from a pure point-and-click viewpoint. (I don’t either recommend or NOT recommend this specific book.)

First, go to and find the book you want to review and go to that book’s page.

Scroll down on the page until you get to the “Customer Reviews” section. It should look similar to the screenshot below (but with fewer reviews). (Wow, 1,959 reviews! Really?)


See that button that says “Write a customer review”? Click on that.

Amazon will give you a screen with blank stars. As soon as you choose how many stars you’re going to give as a review, a box will open up with an option for you to “Write your review here”. Amazon will give you a screen with blank stars.


As soon as you choose how many stars you’re going to give as a review, a box will open up with an option for you to “Write your review here”.


Notice how right now it says the review will be “Posted publicly as Amazon Customer”? You can change that by going off to the right and changing how the world sees you on Amazon. This is only for reviews, so don’t worry about it.  Click on the underlined “Change” button under “Amazon Customer”.


You can change your identity that posts publicly to anything you want for a review. In this case, I’d be posting it as something ridiculous like “Lightbulb.” (You’d want to use a less weird name.) Choose a name and click “Done”.


Now type in your comment and a box will show up below for your headline. I’m being a smart-mouth and naming mine “A blah review for a blah diet” but you can say anything. You can even attach pictures or video. Note the “View tips and guidelines” link. They are pretty helpful, directly from Amazon to you.

The Non-Technical Stuff:

These ideas I’m stealing from my friend and mentor, Nonnie Jules, who is a pro at all things reviews as the HWIC (Head Woman In Charge) of the Rave Reviews Book Club (RRBC).

  1. Don’t write about SPOILERS. You don’t want to spoil a book for the next guy, do you? You can hint, but even that’s kind of mean.
  2. Don’t write about every little step in the plot. Again, let the next guy read it for themselves. You could give a very general idea of the gist of the book but not a “blow-by-blow.”
  3. Either rave on or critique a book. You shouldn’t say something like “All books with vampires are stupid” or “This book was bad because it has a rape scene.” You may personally dislike these things, but the next person may not. Instead, say WHY you did or didn’t like the book. “I found the vampire characterization to be childish and predictable.” OR “The rape scene was illogical and misplaced. It didn’t fit the overall tone of the book and was out of character for the hero.” OR “The characters were so believable I felt as though we were friends.”
  4. If you don’t have anything NICE to say, say nothing at all. If you feel a book only warrants a 1, 2 or 3 star ranking, do so in a manner that does NOT attack the author. Do NOT say, “This was written so badly, it seems like a child wrote it.” That’s a big NO-NO. I would go so far as to say you should NOT say something like, “There were so many typos, I couldn’t finish.” That’s not to say you shouldn’t be honest. Honest reviews are good for everyone, authors and potential readers. Try to find SOMETHING kind and constructive and you may need to be creative. “It is obvious the author put a lot of work into this book.” OR “The author should have put more of an effort into an edit.” OR “The plot wandered in some places so it was difficult to follow, but if this were resolved, it has the makings of a good book.” Keep in mind that reviews are OPINIONS. If you want to have someone value your opinion, make it something that goes down well.
  5. Check the spelling and grammar of your review. Read it back to yourself before you hit the done button.

Rave Reviews Book Club Back-to-school Blog Party #RRBC

Blog Party 1


Rave Reviews Book Club’s BACK-TO-SCHOOL


brought to you by Patricia M Jackson’s blog

in beautiful Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Here’s What I’m Giving Away Today:


  • *Two (2) $20 Amazon Gift Cards

  • *Five (5) Autographed Paperback copies of both Henrietta & Isabella                                   (Books 1 and 2 in the House of Donato Series)

# of Winners for this stop: 7

Watch the trailer for Henrietta as background music, if you like.


An interview with Etta Donato (the main character in Henrietta):

41980945 - pregnant woman practicing yoga, sitting in lotus position on a beach at sunsetInterviewer: First of all, thanks for joining us today, Etta. We know you have a busy life. Just to set the stage a little, you’re the main character in the book Henrietta, so I guess Etta is your nickname?

Etta: Yes. It’s an old-fashioned name, but I was named after my great-grandmother. Her story is also in the book, so it’s a two-for-one value.

Interviewer: Okay. And you’re also a writer. Is that right?

Etta: Yes. I have an MFA from Northern Michigan University and met my husband while attending graduate school in Marquette.

Interviewer: Great. So, what, to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Etta: Finding the time. I’m a young mother, with another one on the way. Tom and I own a bed-and-breakfast on the shores of Lake Superior on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so I’m busy. There’s never enough hours in the day. Sometimes the only time I find to write is when everyone is snoring.

Interviewer: And the easiest?

Etta: Coming up with ideas. I’ve got so many ideas running through my mind. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

Interviewer: How long have you been writing?

Etta: Since I was a little girl. I’d make up ridiculous stories with my cousin Peggy. Sometimes we’d act them out. She and I have been pen pals for forever, so a lot of the time I’d pour what was in my heart out in words to Peggy and eventually I started writing them in story format instead of letters. I’m sure I’d cringe at some of those early stories I used to send her.

Interviewer: What types of stories do you like to read?

Etta: I’m an equal opportunity reader. Of course, I love romances, but I like thrillers and mysteries and sci-fi too. I haven’t gotten into the paranormal stuff much, but I’ve been thinking about it. And, of course, who doesn’t love a good western. There are such predictable characters in westerns. I love ‘em. And like Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have a chance to write.”

Interviewer: Please tell us all about you.

Etta: I’m a pretty typical Midwestern woman, about to be a mother of two, originally from Minnesota, the Twin Cities. I’m married to my best friend, Tom, who is also a native Minnesotan. I’m a runner. I try to run at least two miles every day, sometimes more. I’m a writer, but I don’t specialize in any one genre at the moment. Let’s just say I’m finding my niche in the writing world. I’ve published some of my work, a short story in an anthology of Indigenous American folk tales, which was wonderful! I’ve also published two stand-alone mystery novels. I’ve been through a lot in my life. My mother died when I was young, brought up by my dad, who is the world’s greatest dad. I’m the survivor of date rape and violent crime and glad to say I lived to talk about it. I’m a huge victim’s rights advocate and speak at domestic violence conferences on occasion. Otherwise, I’m just me. <giggle>

Interviewer: Would you like to share an embarrassing or funny moment with us?

Etta: That’s an easy question. It’s always the same one. The first time I met Tom. I went to this club, and he sat down. We flirted, then this hypnotist started his act. Next thing I know, I’m on stage with this total stranger, I had been hypnotized, and I just know I’ve kissed this guy while I was out of it. It was incredibly embarrassing, and yet, it turned out okay in the end. I did marry him, after all …. much, much later!

Interviewer: Where do you see your writing career in ten years?

Etta: Wow, ten years. I can’t imagine it at the moment. I’ll have a thirteen and ten-year-old. My life may perhaps be even more chaotic than it is now, but I’m hoping to have found my niche and published a couple of fiction series, maybe more on the American Indians. Gee, I guess I better get started on that, huh?

Interviewer: What advice would you give your teenage self?

Etta: I’d probably tell myself to pay attention, learn a lot. Listen more and speak less. I missed a lot of cues from people that I should have picked up on that would’ve saved me a lot of pain and heartache, so I think, just be more aware. And I’d tell myself to stop taking life so seriously. Have fun! What good is life is you aren’t enjoying yourself? Tom’s taught me a lot about just letting loose and letting go.

Interviewer: Where can we find you on the Internet?

Etta: You can find my whole story in Patricia M Jackson’s book, Henrietta: Book #1 in the House of Donato Series. You’re going to put the links in the same post, I think. My sister-in-law’s story is Book #2, Isabella. She’s a hoot. You’ll get a laugh out of her and Murphy. Murphy’s a little insane, by the way, but only a little. He’s a pro hockey player for the North Stars at the moment. My cousin Peggy’s story, Margaret: Book #3, is due out in the fall of 2016, so make sure you pick that up. Peggy is an incredibly talented pianist and wonderful person. She’s a lot like a sister to me. Anyway, her story is the culmination of the overall story that began with me. You can find all of that on Patricia’s website: and a lot more.

Interviewer: Well, thanks again, for your time, Etta. We appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk with us for a while. Please give our best to Tom and the Donato family. They have a pizzeria, is that right?

Etta: Yes. It’s a great place to stop for a bite if you’re ever in Duluth, and it’s fantastic food! Have fun on the blog tour everybody! I hope you all win huge prizes!


Henrietta (FREE)

Printed Paperback:  Henrietta

Amazon (FREE):   Henrietta – Kindle on Amazon

Smashwords (FREE):  Henrietta (EPUB, MOBI, PDF, TXT)

Henrietta: Book Club Discussion Questions (Spoiler Alert!):


Love. Fear. Mystery.

Tom and Etta have a problem. They’ve kissed passionately but don’t remember it. Both are starting life over, she as a writer in grad school and he, as a former hockey player, after a career-ending injury. But is anyone ever completely free of their past?

Tom and Etta create a bond from friendship then move beyond. It may not be possible to start anew with baggage from the past and no clear vision of the future. Or will people from the past always come looking for you when you least expect them? Words from another Henrietta, who rebuilt her life from tragedy, bring the answers that allow Etta to move forward. But is it already too late?

If you like an engaging, meticulously written romance steamy enough to raise any reader’s heart rate, then download this beautiful, inspiring gem.

Isabella ($2.99)



Humor. Desire. Conspiracy.

Chad “Manic” Murphy, is an amusing and charismatic hockey star on the rise. His tutor is the gorgeous Isabella Donato, his teammate’s twin sister. If only he hadn’t promised never to touch her. Though his life is in turmoil, he charms his way into her heart. When she comes to her senses, her follow-the-rules mentality often clashes with his oblivious, impulsive ways.

Murphy’s one-sided decision to turn pro throws them into a cycle of unanswered longing. He stumbles upon a lawless domain driven by a man who has the power to destroy his world. Can Murphy clean up his chaotic life and once again sweep Izzy off her feet? Tragedy leaves her wondering if they could ever make it work.

Isabella is the second in the new adult romance series “The House of Donato”. If you like an enjoyable light-hearted romance, with sensitive love scenes sure to delight and arouse, download this unpredictable and compelling read.

Watch the Trailer for Isabella here:

Margaret (Coming Autumn 2016)


What holds a relationship together during difficult times?

Peggy, a gifted pianist, building a future at Julliard, ends up roommates with Brian Donovan, her cousin’s husband’s best friend. He was only doing her a favor, too occupied with law school and working for the FBI to notice she was around. At least he was kind enough to explore Manhattan together.

Donovan has no interest in a relationship with the luscious and exotic Peggy, convinced that there is no place in a cop’s life for a family. When a hot case causes disharmony, they end up playing a different tune. Do they have what it takes to guard their new love against harm?

Margaret is the culmination of the new adult romance series “The House of Donato”. This pleasantly paced tale filled with real-world conflict and skillfully interweaved suspense will finish off a story three books in the making. Enjoy this sensitive love story today.


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Joe Stephens

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Very sincerely yours,

Boys and the beach

Katie laid on her bed, exhaled a deep sigh and stared at the popcorn ceiling and dark oaken support beams wondering what she could do with herself. There just wasn’t anything to do anymore. Boredom was making her lose her mind. She’d slept until almost noon after staying awake until two a.m. reading a mystery thriller book. The prose was so bad and predictable she didn’t even care who did it anymore. She rolled to her side and stared at the walls of her room, a typical teenager’s room. There were posters on the walls, clothes on the floor and trinkets on the dresser top: friendship bracelets and cheap jewelry that was way out of style or had one earring missing. Junk filled the rest of the open space on her dresser, junk she’d once thought cute but was only crap she was too lazy or sentimental to throw away. Maybe she could redecorate. Nah, that was a stupid waste of time. Without warning the door opened and banged against the wall behind it.

“That’s it. I’ve had it!” Katie’s mother said, with a loud voice. “It’s time you got your lazy bones out of bed already. You’re wasting your life away in this dreary room.” Her mother yanked on Katie’s wrist until she’d reluctantly sat up, if for no other reason than to keep from being dragged out of bed onto the floor.

“All right, all right. I’m up already.”

“No, you’re not. You’ll be up when you’re dressed and doing something.”

“What am I supposed to be doing that I’m not?”

“Living life. You’re just holed up in this room all the time.” Katie’s mom stood with her hands on her hips, her eyes glaring at her daughter. “It’s not natural. It’s summer. You should be enjoying yourself.”

“There’s nothing to do. I can’t drive yet, and you’re too busy to take me anywhere.”

“Those legs of yours still worked last time I checked,” her mother said. She pulled Katie to her feet and pointed her in the direction of the bathroom. “Get yourself cleaned up and I’ll drop you wherever you want to go on my way to the city planning meeting. You can figure out a ride home or walk. You’ve got ten minutes.”

“Ten minutes. Awww, mom!”

Standing in the shower letting the warm water flow over her face, Katie had decided that she would take advantage of the beautiful summer day and go to the beach. Her best friend, Melissa, lived on Lake Kallawood next door to the county park with a sandy beach right next to the boat access. It was sometimes crowded with RVs, campers, and people camping. Maybe they could get an afternoon to enjoy the peacefulness of warm sun on their bikini-clad bodies. There was a limit to how much trouble they could get in since neither of them could drive.

Her mother dropped her off at Melissa’s house, and she’d waited while Melissa got dressed in her bikini. The girls gathered their beach gear, complete with coconut-scented suntan oil, giant sunglasses, big floppy hats, giant towels, flip-flops and, of course, floaty reclining beds. They’d done this kind of thing before and had the shtick down pat. The girls walked, arms filled with goodies, including a couple of granola bars in case they got hungry and two large water bottles filled with ice water. They were in for the duration of the afternoon, which was ideal for Melissa, who had an even dark-toned complexion that easily tanned and complemented her dark, luxurious brown hair. Katie, on the other hand, was blue-eyed, blond and fair-skinned. By the end of the afternoon, especially after slathering on tanning lotion, her skin would be cooked to a brilliant lobster red, much like Peking duck in a Chinese restaurant. She knew she shouldn’t sun-bathe, but she enjoyed the time with her best friend doing what they did best: nothing.

The truth was that she and Melissa had been growing apart over the past couple of years, and she hoped to rekindle their friendship with something Melissa loved to do. Melissa had gone from a fun pal in elementary school to a boy-crazy teenager and Katie just didn’t feel the same way. Would she like to have a boyfriend? Well, sure, but she wasn’t sure just what she’d do with one. She had lots of friends at school who were boys, and it was a lot more fun to talk to them or do something, like fix a bike or go fishing with them than to think about sucking face. I mean, there was a limit to how long you could kiss without being disgusting, wasn’t there? And she knew all about the birds and bees and didn’t think she was old enough for any of that stuff yet. No, she just wasn’t as crazy about boys and all that hoop-la as Melissa was.

They blew up their floating loungers, dropped their stash on the beach and laid out in their bikinis in the water, deep enough so get away from bugs and sand but not so deep that they couldn’t sit up and get to shore quickly. It was relaxing, and so far there was only one mother with a small baby enjoying the beach. There’d be more people flocking to the swimming area in the next few hours.

After twenty minutes of floating and soaking up the sun, the tedium of doing nothing left her feeling bored, although she knew Melissa was having the time of her life. This wasn’t her style. She didn’t want just to lay around, and she feared Melissa would be content just to lay there all day, plus Katie could actually feel her skin burning to a crisp out there on the water. She could almost hear her skin cells popping. She sat up on her floaty, glanced towards the shore and noticed a young man, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt in front of the lodge area, changing the bags in the garbage bins.

“Melissa, who is that working at the lodge? Do you know him?”file0001556978583

“Sure. It’s Luke Backman. Why?”

“Well, because he’s watching us.”

“Oh, really?” Melissa sat up on her floaty and waved. “He’s hot for me.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just know.”

“What do you know about him?” Katie asked.

“Not much. He’s got a motorcycle he revs too loud around my place. He’s trying to get my attention because he’s hot for me.”

“How do you know he’s not hot for me? I mean, we’re both out here in bikinis.”

“Oh, please.”

“You make it sound like I’m uggo or something.”

“No, you’re not uggo. You’re just pure as the driven snow.” Melissa put her sunglasses back on and leaned back to relaxing on her floaty, “You’re a goody two-shoes, and everybody knows it.”

“I’ll bet you ten dollars I can get cute-pie Luke to give me a ride home on his motorcycle.” Katie got off her floaty and made her way to shore. “I think he’s watching me and not you.”

Melissa heaved out a deep sigh. “Fine. I hate to see you get spurned but you’re asking for it, and you’re on.” She got off her floaty, muttering to herself as she walked to shore as well.

Five minutes later Katie had grabbed her gear, walked up the staircase from the beach and was standing next to Luke as he sat on his motorcycle where he’d parked it. She asked him all kinds of pertinent questions: where did he get it, how much did it cost, how did he mother feel about him riding a motorcycle. He was eating up the attention he was getting from Katie in a big way when Melissa walked up to the two of them. Melissa dropped her gear at Katie’s feet and swung her leg over the back of the bike behind Luke and squeezed her front to his back.

“Give me a ride around the park, Luke,” she said, leaning into him, putting her mouth right next to his ear. “Pleeease?”

“Sure, he said,” as he stood up, jumping down on his kick-starter and revving the engine. He made a couple of rounds around the dirt roads that weaved around the park, with Melissa throwing her hands up in the air, squealing with delight at his antics, coming around to the lodge where Katie stood.

Melissa jumped off the back of the bike, leaned over to Luke and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks, Luke. That was fun.” She came back to Katie and whispered in a small voice. “Point goes to me.”

Luke revved his engine a couple more times and said, “What about you? Do you want a spin? You’re looking kind of hot in that bikini.”

“Me?” Katie said. “No, I need a ride home, but I suppose you’re still working, huh?”

“Nah, I’m off now,” he said. “Things are pretty quiet today, and I’ve got everything cleaned up. I can give you a ride home. Hop on?”

Katie turned to her friend. “I’m sorry, Melissa, I suppose you’ll have to carry all this stuff home by yourself, huh? It’ll save me a long walk if I get a ride with Luke.” She grinned at her friend.

“Nonsense, we can take some of it on the bike and drop it off at Melissa’s place, then I can take you home,” Luke said.

“That okay with you, Melissa?” Katie said, her eyes wide, amazed at the way this was going.

“That’s just fine,” Melissa said, almost hissing her words. “I’ll see you both around.”
Katie picked up part of the stash she’d hauled up the stairs from the swimming area and organized it into a makeshift backpack to carry on the bike and placed it behind her on the seat of Luke’s bike.

“You ready?” he called back to her.

“Ready as I can be.”

“Okay, we’ll go slow until we get to Melissa’s and then hit the road and have some fun,” he said.

“Bye, Melissa,” Katie said, waving to her friend who was now standing her hands on her hips, lips tight and eyes fixed on Katie like she’d never seen before. She was only waving goodbye for the moment, but somehow Katie felt that she was parting with her life-long friend and over a boy. It was ridiculous, but she knew Melissa saw this as the ultimate betrayal. In a way, she was saying goodbye to her childhood and the silly games little girls play. She was playing different games that bigger girls play, like stealing a boy’s interest. She leaned forward into Luke’s back and held onto his body tight as the motorcycle lurched up the gravel road.

Luke did what he promised, swung by Melissa’s house to drop the beach gear off then took her for a joy-ride across miles and miles of open road. It was exhilarating and fun. Something wild and crazy that only teenagers do. Katie knew she shouldn’t be on a motorcycle. Her mother would be furious. If she were going to ride a motorcycle, she wouldn’t be allowed to do it wearing a bikini and sneakers without a helmet and not with Luke Backman. Not that there was anything wrong with Luke. He was a good guy who was just having fun with a cute girl, but he was a teenage boy, and she’d been warned about teenage boys and motorcycles.

The next day, she found herself laying in bed again. Moving even one inch with her sunburned skin against the sheets was painful, so she tried to lay as still as possible, flat on her stomach staring at her headboard. Her mother came in and put some aloe vera on her knees, shoulders and back.

“Well, I told you to get out and live life, and you did that. I hope you learned your lesson because now that you’re grounded, you won’t be going anywhere for a while. Growing up is hard to do. You’ll have a lot of painful lessons like this.” Her mother slapped her daughter’s fanny as she rose to leave.

“Rule number one: don’t ever ride a motorcycle in a bikini. You’ll get sunburned.”

“Thanks, Mom. Good to know.”

Her mother stood one hand on the door jam and another holding the aloe vera at her hip. “You should’ve asked me. I could’ve told you. I did the same thing when I was your age.”

Now, that, made Katie laugh!