Old Shadows, New Murder, by Sharon McGregor

Susan Karsten here, with a review of a fascinating crime novel.

My latest read, Old Shadows, New Murder, is a unique mystery story. The main character goes back to her less-than-beloved home town to settle things at a deceased relative’s house. Mysterious occurrences point to some long-forgotten incidents which soon develop into current problems for the protagonist. She must navigate the return of her long-lost father, clearing out a house, fighting off multiple buyers for the property she isn’t sure she will sell, burglars, and various nastiness. Soon, bodies start dropping and she is at the center of a whirlwind of danger. You will enjoy reading along as the pieces drop into place.

oldshadowsnewmurder  pic

Author Sharon McGregor‘s imagination and story-weaving got its start when she was an only child living on a farm. She’s moved on from cowgirl dreams to romance and mystery, but hasn’t lost her love for horses. She moved west to Vancouver Island to escape prairie
winters but still can be found at ice arenas watching her grandchildren play hockey and figure skate. When not fighting for control of the keyboard with her cat Zoey, she is
running a business she shares with her daughter.

Magnolia Duchess, by Beth White

101_0730This author just keeps improving. Deftly weaving a total of three romances, this one holds together well, and like all good historical fiction, has the reader painlessly learning. This time, it’s the lead up to the Battle of New Orleans.

Hero washes up on beach. Heroine saves his life. Loyalty, faith, love and hope all come into play as true love must work its way through many thorns and thistles. I found it to be a satisfying historical fiction read and am sure you will too.

Author Interview: Danele Rotharmel

Susan Karsten Interviews Danele Rotharmel, author of Time Tsunami

Hi, blog fans! I am super excited to bring you my interview with Danele. She is a fascinating author, and I think you will enjoy this whether you’ve read her book Time Tsunami, or simply plan to.

After reading the book myself, I was eager to have dibs on asking whatever I wanted to know.


Are either Gil (female lead character) or Crystal (secondary character) anything like you?

Most of my characters have a tiny bit of me in them, and though I’d prefer to claim only their good characteristics, I have some of their flaws too. As far as Gil, I have her pigheaded stubbornness, impulsiveness, quirky sense of humor, and I’d like to think that I also have some of her courage.

When I was writing Time Tsunami, and facing a chronic illness, I began viewing my illness as a serial killer. As Gil faced her serial killer, I faced my own enemy. Every time Rick was dealt a blow, I cheered inside. Subconsciously, I used the battle with Rick as a vehicle to express my anger about my illness.

As far as Crystal, I definitely have her clumsiness. Quite a few of Crystal’s strange accidents have actually happened to me. I  have some of her social awkwardness and when I was younger, I was shy. Although I grew out of my bashfulness, when in quarantine during my illness, I felt very separate from society and more than a little weird. Creating Crystal was my way adding comic relief into my life while also poking a bit of fun at myself. As far as her good characteristics, I hope I have Crystal’s tender heart and her tenacity. One thing for sure—I don’t have her brains. Writing some of Crystal’s lines was such a challenge. I had to do quite a bit of research to make her words sound realistic. Creating my characters was so much fun. They became very real to me, and I hope they become real to my readers.

How did you land on writing in the time travel fantasy genre?

I always dreamed about being a writer, but my life seemed too busy to make that dream a reality. My busy life came to a shuddering halt when I fell ill with a mysterious illness. I began experiencing partial amnesia, severe pain, and nausea. Eventually, I couldn’t walk without staggering or talk without stuttering. I had to quit my job and stop driving. My doctors were puzzled, but finally, it was discovered that I was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning from a small leak in my home’s furnace. I didn’t have a carbon monoxide detector at the time, and I never realized that a small leak can kill just as easily as a large leak—it just takes more time. It’s estimated that if the carbon monoxide leak hadn’t been discovered, I wouldn’t have survived much longer. After the furnace was replaced, I thought my life would get back to normal, but the poisoning had triggered severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. That meant I would become extremely ill when exposed to perfumes and other chemicals. Eventually, my condition became so severe that I was quarantined in my home—a situation that lasted for seven years.

During the 7-year quarantine, I was in extreme pain and was very bored. I began writing books as a way to entertain myself and take my mind off my illness. On the days when the pain was especially bad, I would lie in bed and think up plot twists. On the days when I was sad, I would think up funny scenes to cheer myself up. I wasn’t writing for publication, I was writing for escape and enjoyment. Going through my illness was very difficult, and in a very real way, my novels were vehicles to explore my questions about God—they catalogue my journey back to faith.

Time Tsunami started out as a short story for a college creative writing class. During quarantine, when I decided to try my hand at writing again, I rummaged through an old box of my stories. Buried beneath a stack of papers, I found Time Tsunami and another story called The Chosen One. When I read them, I knew they both had promise. I can remember sitting cross legged on the floor with both stories in my hand. I knew I had to choose between them. I decided to craft Time Tsunami into a full-length novel because of the time travel aspect. At the time, I desperately wished for a way to roll back the clock and tell myself to buy a carbon monoxide monitor before I became ill. After I finished writing Time Tsunami, I couldn’t bear to abandon the characters I’d come to love, so I wrote the sequel, Time Trap. The rest of the books in The Time Counselor Chronicles flowed organically from there. By the time I decided to seek publication, I had written six books in the genre.

I’d love to see a film producer option this book for an action adventure movie. What are your favorite movies?

I enjoy clean movies that are unpredictable. I hate to be bored. I want a movie that takes me by surprise and makes me gasp. The more twists the better! The best movies are the ones that I still think about days after watching them. I have a quirky brain, and I love to unwind subplots and look for symbolic meanings. I like movies that make me think. Now, that being said, I also love Disney cartoons. When I was sick, I wanted to watch movies that were cheerful and sweet. I also love movies where the underdog wins. I think one of my favorite movies of all time is Facing the Giants. I have that movie practically memorized.

Your fight scenes are so amazing and real-feeling — how did you learn so much about writing fight scenes?

Oh, Susan! You’ve just made my day! I’m so glad that you enjoyed my fight scenes! Writing them was such a challenge. I wanted to make them realistic, so I agonized over every word. I rewrote them a gazillion times trying to get them just right. I looked up all kinds of articles that explained different types of kicks and punches and then watched instructional videos showing those kicks and punches in action. I wanted to make my fight scenes flow naturally from one move to the next. Short sentences kept the action moving, and I also tried to make sure my readers knew where everyone was in the room and what they were doing—even the bystanders. I also tried to put myself into the minds of everyone involved—once I knew what they were thinking and feeling, I was able to figure out exactly how they would react to the situation. As a rule of thumb, I feel satisfied with a fight scene when I cringe when I read it. During some of the scary parts, I am literally shrinking in my chair as I write. I love my characters, and when they are in trouble, it rips me apart.

With all the time travel plot twists, how did you keep it straight?

During my 7-year quarantine, I had years to think about the plot twists contained in my novels. Since I wrote the first six books before I sought publication, I had time to become very well-acquainted with the world I was creating. If something happened in book four that affected book one, I had the time I needed to insert the needed material. If something didn’t make sense to me, I knew it wouldn’t make sense to my readers, so I clarified the confusing parts before I submitted my books to an editor. In order to keep track of the timeline and twists, I made a chart. I also drew maps of the NSU campus and wrote character sketches. Since I wrote Time Tsunami and the other books in The Time Counselor Chronicles as a way to escape my illness, I became completely absorbed in them. Publication wasn’t my ultimate goal—entertainment was. The way I invested myself in my stories helped me layer the twists and keep them straight. Basically, I was just having so much fun with my novels that I thought about them constantly.

Your character, Gil, has a very interesting full name. Any background to that choice?

I named Gillyflower Meadowlark on a day when I was feeling just a little bit wacky. I wanted Gil to be realistic, and one of the ways  to accomplish that feat was to make her self-conscious about her strange name. I can remember sitting at my computer giggling like a fiend as I tried out different silly name combinations. I like to make family trees of my characters, and I nearly died laughing when I named her mother Moonbeam Frankincense Alabaster. Gil’s name was just another way that I entertained myself. I love to laugh, and I love to let my silly side out to play every once in a while. Gil’s name simply equaled a day of giggles during quarantine.

Thank you, Danele, for this peek inside your author-mind. We appreciate all you shared.

Short Bio of Danele Rotharmel:

Danele Rotharmel’s life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace was poisoning her. This poisoning triggered Multiple Chemical Sensitivity causing her to be put in quarantine. For seven years, she could only talk to friends and extended family through a windowpane. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles.  Although her journey back to health was difficult, it provided her the opportunity to grow closer to God and write her books. For that, she’s forever thankful.

Time Tsunami’s Purchasing Links:  Amazon: http://amzn.to/234DFBS

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/time-tsunami-danele-j-rotharmel/1123153640?ean=2940152530919

 Danele’s Social Media Links:  Danele’s Blog: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/

Danele’s Welcome Page: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/welcome/

Danele Rotharmel


Time Tsunami ~ back cover blurb

Time Tsunami

Even though I don’t do summary reviews, I want you to have more information about this story. Following is the back cover copy for Time Tsunami:

Time Tsunami (Book 1 of The Time Counselor Chronicles)

To stop a cruel serial killer, she must travel twenty-four years into the past…

Gil Montgomery, a cadet in the Temporal Counseling Program, can’t wait to pass her field exam and become a professional time surfer. The TEMCO program targets death-row offenders for time-based counseling while they’re children.  For her exam, Gil will travel twenty-four years into the past to counsel ten-year-old Danny Winston before he murders his abusive babysitter, Rick Olsen.  Preventing the stabbing should stop the chain of events leading to Danny’s eventual execution.

Gil’s assignment seems simple until her adviser, Dr. William Ableman, learns that Rick is a serial killer targeting Danny’s mother.  If Gil stays and protects the Winstons, she might not survive.  William wants the woman he loves to be pulled from the field, but if Gil fails to complete her assignment, it will unleash a Time Tsunami and destroy the timeline.

As TEMCO undergoes an emergency lockdown, and Gil’s fellow cadets try to figure out what’s happening, Gil and William learn the importance of faith and the price of true love. Everyone’s fate is resting in Gil’s hands, but does she have the strength she needs to defeat a ruthless serial killer intent on annihilating everyone in his path?  Will she return from the deadly mission?

 Author Danele RotharmelDanele Rotharmel

Time Tsunami, by Danele Rotharmel

Wow, if you have ever enjoyed reading a book that contained a time travel element, and enjoyed it, this book will far exceed your expectations. This special book is well-thought out, well-written, with romance and action to make your heart pound. Easily suspend disbelief as you enter the well-crafted world of TEMCO, and journey back and forth in time with the characters you’ll want to root for and grow to love.


If you are at all familiar with my reviews, I don’t give book summaries. I prefer to leave all the fun of discovering a book to the next reader. And I am not going to break from that here, but I am going to go into more detail to convey three aspects of this fine novel.

Characters: From Gil and Dr. Ableman, Sue and Sam, Crystal, Marc, Zara and Nathan, to Danny, and not to neglect Rick (the villain), author Rotharmel gives the reader a feast of realistic, original, and relatable characters. The characters are distinct, interesting, and the writer finely balances what would be a falling house of cards for a lesser author.

Details: This plot has so many twists and turns and I can’t remember one single place where the book confused me, lost me, or caused my interest to flag. With real-world details of locations, food, clothing, and scenarios all clinging together extremely well, I was impressed by the way the story-world held my attention and gave texture to the tale.

Complex Plot: When a story is this well-polished and complex, one has to give due praise to the creative accomplishment that is also supported by excellent technique. Travelling through time, suspense, conflict (including violence), all happening on a specific time-table that has to be worked out in detail…looking back on the seamlessness of it all, I am amazed.

It was an exceptional read, and I am looking forward to the sequel, Time Trap, which will be coming out in summer, 2016. I will be posting the back cover blurb and an interview in my next two blog posts. I hope you’ll take a peek and learn more about this fascinating book.

Time Tsunami’s Purchasing Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/234DFBS

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/time-tsunami-danele-j-rotharmel/1123153640?ean=2940152530919

Danele’s Social Media Links:

Danele’s Blog: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/

Danele’s Welcome Page: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/welcome/


If you’ve ever read a time-travel book, please leave the title in a comment below.



Free Cutting Boards

For years now, I have had access to a renewable source of free cutting  boards.

Is a cutting board company giving me free boards to try? No. Is my mother repetitively gifting cutting boards to me? NO. Did I receive 22 cutting boards as wedding gifts? No.

But around here, buying ice cream by the bucket is quite popular. And my deep dark secret kitchen tip is that the lids make wonderful cutting boards.


Why are they wonderful? When your ice cream bucket lid “cutting board” gets a bit cut up with some slashes, put it in the recycling. Because, if your family eats ice cream, you will frequently have a new “board” waiting in the wings.

Besides being free, recyclable, and easy to come by, these cutting surfaces have a small lip that prevents spills while carrying refuse over to your garbage can. They are flexible enough to pour ingredients off of as well.



My new favorite measuring spoons

Lately, I’ve been enjoying using adjustable measuring spoons. I’ve had two of them in my kitchen implement drawer for a long time, but had forgotten to use them. I am realizing cleaning one’s kitchen drawers can unearth treasures.


They’ve  got markings, and you slide a little “dam” to the marked lines for the amount needed. (The larger one is a little worse for wear:).

As I was making some tomato sauce recently, I used its features to the max. First, 1/4 t of pepper. Then, 1 t each of oregano, parsley, and garlic salt.

The shape of the smaller device fits also nicely into the typical spice jar.


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