Friday, May 29, 2020


Who knew in February what our lives would be like in May? It’s almost surreal, like a bad science fiction novel or B-rated movie.

The Timeline

December 31, China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of 41 patients with a mysterious pneumonia, most connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.

January 20, the first US case is reported in Washington state.

January 30, WHO declares a global public-health emergency. Things move forward with a California person dying on February 6. WHO names the virus Covid-19 on February 11. Cases start to spike in South Korea, Italy and Spain.

March 7, I got on a plane and flew to Hawaii to visit my daughter.

March 8, Italy places all of its residents on lockdown.

March 15, I was changing my plane tickets and flying home with my husband to Colorado. I wanted to stay in Hawaii. He had to get back to work. My kids insisted I “act like an adult and come home.”


Life As We Know It Has Changed

Things snowballed after we got home. “Stay at Home” orders were put into place. My husband moved his office into the guest room. We’ve learned to work around each other’s Zoom calls. Trips to the grocery store to have someone load groceries into the back end have become adventures. We wear masks, because that’s what you do to protect other people. We miss our family and friends and colleagues.

And now we’re emerging and entering the “Safer at Home” phase. Unfortunately, being in the high-risk category that means continuing to stay at home for...a while. Having witnessed first-hand how terrible this disease can be, we’re listening.

Looking at the Positives

I figured there have to be some good things coming out of all of this, so I’ve made a list.

1. I have four cancelled trips worth of plane tickets stashed away for next year. One writer’s retreat, two cancelled graduations and an Alaska trip with our son and his family that I should be packing for. Maybe we can combine them to go someplace really special next year?!

2. I’ve gotten better at cribbage. I think I’m now tied with my husband for overall wins.

3. We Zoom with the kids every Sunday. I don’t expect it will last forever, but it’s been great spending time apart together. We have six kids and two grandchildren, plus their significant others. It’s like a party!

4. I’m mastering new technology. Who knew I would become a Zoom master?

Bottom line, I’m busier than I’ve ever been. Which ties back to #4 and how it pertains to my day job and volunteer work. And when better than during a pandemic to have my mysteries re-released by Sharpe Books?

So How Does One Stay Sane?

I have a suggestion. Based on all the YouTube videos that people have sent me, it seems anyone can create a video these days. Tik Tok videos are all the rage. So why not try your hand at a parody like these women did?

Of course, everyone's offering all sorts of suggestions. This list in USA Today has a lot of great ideas. Here are a few, but the list is worth checking out if you have time on your hands.

1. Complete a puzzle. I think Robin Burcell likes puzzles.

2. Start a journal. Tom Colgan has this locked up. We’re into Day 70+ and he just keeps getting funnier.

3. Need some excitement? Text all your exes, just in case you have something more you want to get off your chest.

4. Watch all the really old long movies you’ve been avoiding up until now. Lee Goldberg likely has suggestions. Wes and I have tried watching a few, with definitely mixed results.

5. Teach yourself a foreign language. Okay, I admit. I did this, too. I dusted of my old Swedish language tapes and confirmed that jag förstår inte.

And my personal favorite:
6. Treat yourself to a facemask. They’re talking about mud!

So, tell us dear Readers, what are the positives you’re taking away, and what fun thing have you done while quarantined?

Friday, May 22, 2020


by The Real Book Spy

What a month!

I know we’re only five months in, but I think it’s safe to say that 2020 has been the longest year ever. Like, ever.

Though it seems so insignificant when people are fighting for their lives and enduring social distancing and self-isolation, many on the thriller scene are worried about book sales and what all this will mean for the industry moving forward. Fact is, the publishing world (like every other industry) has no doubt changed due to COVID-19. To find even just one small example of how much, look no further than my May Rogue piece—yes, this one.

In preparation for this month, I actually picked two different titles that I wanted to write about, but both ended up being delayed and are now slated to come out later in the year. So, with release dates in a state of flux (some summer 2020 books have already been moved to spring of 2021), I pitched the Rogues the idea of a throwback piece that would focus on one of my favorite books from one of my very favorite writers . . . someone I had been trying to figure out how to cover on this space, but hadn’t yet been able to do because she hadn’t put a new book out since I’d partnered with the wonderful Rogue Women Writers.

In case you haven’t caught on yet, I’m talking about the Queen of spy thrillers, the brilliant New York Times bestselling author, Gayle Lynds.

Nobody writes espionage quite like Gayle, who rocked my world with her last book, The Assassins, back when it came out in 2015. Back for more action is former military intelligence operative Judd Ryder (he first appeared in The Book of Spies; 2010), who returns home to his flat in Washington, D.C., only to find an imposter posing as him. Things take a wicked turn, though, when the double is murdered and Judd witnesses the whole thing, leaving him scrambling for answers. Who wants him dead? Who was behind the hit on the double? Who else might they be going after?

Little does Judd know that, behind the scenes, a deadly game of killing is taking place as a fraternity of assassins battle it out in the shadows. Worse, whether he likes it or not, Judd’s just inadvertently stepped onto the playing field, and as the story heats up . . . it becomes clear that only one victor will emerge at the end.

With the stakes at an all-time high, Judd teams up with his former colleague and lover Eva Blake, and together the duo set out to piece things together and takeout anyone and everyone who’s hunting them before it’s too late.

As I wrote in my review five years ago, “Forget Game of Thrones, Gayle Lynds has dialed up a relentless game of spies, and it rocks from beginning to end!”

by Gayle Lynds

I’m jazzed and honored that The Real Book Spy chose The Assassins, a book I love, as this month’s Rogue Recommendation.  It’s brought back many wonderful memories — greeting the dawn after a great all-night writing session (whew!), research that took me figuratively around the globe, brainstorming with my creative and very funny husband, John, and the magical moment when a scene finally came to life.
Gayle Lynds revealing secrets.

Here’s a secret.  No one knows this.  The Assassins didn’t begin with the idea of writing about six semiretired international assassins who have a face-off that inevitably must lead to the survival of only one of them.  And it didn’t begin with my discovery that Saddam Hussein’s $40 billion fortune was missing (and is still gone, gone, gone), although it sent my writerly instincts atwitter.

The entire book was launched by a simple imaginary scene that tantalized me, and which the great Real Book Spy has (of course) zeroed in on.... 

Meet Judd Ryder, a nice guy and former military intelligence spy, slogging home on a snowy morning on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  It’s bitter cold.  He’s tired after an all-night flight.  He spots his row house – hooray!  A shower!  His own bed!  Then he’s gobsmacked: From a half block away, he watches his front door open, and some guy backs out, pausing to lock the door.  It looks like he’s wearing Judd’s overcoat and gloves.  When the man turns around, Judd sees it’s all true – he’s not only dressed in Judd’s clothes, he’s got Judd’s face. 

(Pause here a moment, my friends.  Take it all in.  Imagine you’re arriving home and you see someone come out of your house who looks exactly like you!)

Yes, the guy’s a lookalike.  Either he was born that way (unlikely), or he’s been deliberately, professionally made to look like Judd.  In spookspeak, he’s a double.  And since the gray underbelly of international espionage and crime was Judd’s terra firma not so very long ago, that’s got to be the answer.

It’s not that we writers lack for ideas.  Take a walk, and kaboom – we get an idea.  Drift off to sleep, and a storm of ideas wakes us up.  When our imaginations start delivering ideas, a lot are dreck, or at best just, well, okay.  So when the gods smile and hand us a sparkling gem, we snatch it and don’t let go.

I’m thinking about all of this because the reviews of The Assassins kindly praised a lot of aspects of the book — the little-known clandestine world of espionage, Saddam’s hidden billions, and the assassins themselves — such interesting sociopaths and psychopaths, so disarming they’re almost good enough to take home to mom. 

But what no one knows is that Judd Ryder launched the whole thing, just because he wanted to go home, take a shower, and sleep.  Gotta love that man.

Thank you to The Real Book Spy. Have you read The Assassins yet? Tell us what you thought in the comments below. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Piper Reynard steps off the pages of THE WIFE STALKER to go Rogue!

by Liv Constantine

Hello, I’m Piper Reynard direct from the pages of The Wife Stalker (which comes out on 5/19). I’m so excited to be here with the Rogue Women Writer’s! And although I don’t write books, I do write blogs and as an innovator who embraces new ideas and change, I consider myself a rogue woman too. I believe there is no higher calling than to share the wisdom one has acquired with others who are still lacking. I’m deeply honored to have the opportunity to share some of my tips for a healthier, more balanced life. Before we begin, I encourage you to breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. And again. Now I want you to try and connect more deeply with the words you are reading. Quiet your mind. Everything else can wait. Sit for a moment in silence. Breathe once again. Now if you’re ready, we will begin.

Today I want to focus on how you are nourishing your body. Are you optimizing each and every food choice to ensure that whatever you eat is beneficial and life-giving? As motivational speaker Jim Rohn said: “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Satisfying your sweet tooth doesn’t have to compromise this tenant. Here are two of the many delicious recipes that will satisfy your palate while being healthful to your body.

Creamy Cauliflower & Blueberry Smoothie
by The Natural Nurturer September-28-2017

This Creamy Cauliflower & Blueberry Smoothie is loaded with tons of antioxidants, fiber, nutrients, healthy fat and protein. You’ll be totally amazed that you can’t taste the cauliflower and will adore how smooth and creamy the cauli makes your morning blend! This smoothie has become a new family breakfast staple and is especially great for getting a filling, balanced breakfast in on the craziest of mornings that will see us through until lunch.


· 2 cups frozen blueberries

· 1/4 cup nut butter

· 2 cups frozen cauliflower florets (you can find them in the freezer section at pretty much any grocery store)

· 2 cups unsweetened almond milk

· 1/4 cup collagen powder (optional, but great for added protein)

· 1/2-1 ripe banana (depending on how sweet you like your smoothie)

· 2 tablespoons chia seeds

· 1 cup water


Combine all ingredients in your blender. Blend on high until smooth. Add more water a little at a time if needed to reach desired consistency. Pour into glasses and enjoy immediately.

Drool-Worthy Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse


· 1 large ripe avocado (Avocado is a great dairy-free alternative to butter)

· 5 Tbsp raw cacao powder

· 5-7 Tbsp pure maple syrup

· 1 Tbsp almond milk (or milk of your choice)

· 1 tsp vanilla powder

· 2 pinches of Himalayan pink salt (or sea salt)

· 2 Tbsp raw cacao butter (or cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil)

Gently melt the cacao butter in a heatproof bowl set over a small pan of steaming water e.g. bring the water to the boil then turn off the heat and place the bowl of cacao butter on top. This ensures the temperature of the cacao butter doesn’t go above 47ºC and all its antioxidants are preserved.

Place the avocado (peeled and stone removed) in a food processor along with the cacao powder, maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla, and salt and blend until smooth. Slowly add the melted cacao butter with the motor running until it is all incorporated. Spoon the mousse into serving dishes, cover, and place in the fridge to chill. To serve, crush freeze-dried raspberries over the tops and sprinkle a few raw cacao nibs. These will keep covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.
The result is an amazing tasting chocolate mousse that’s super high in nutrients and antioxidants and perfect for anyone with allergies to dairy, eggs, and gluten, or just wanting a healthier dessert option.

If you’re ever in Westport, please consider making an appointment for a wellness evaluation or yoga class at The Phoenix Recovery Center. I’d love to give you a tour and guide you on a journey of lasting change, one that will deepen and sustain resilience so that you can meet life’s challenges with mindfulness and self-compassion, growing your inner resources. Some of you may have heard rumors about me—there are always those who wish to darken the light of others. But I assure you, I am a good person and have never hurt another soul. Once you read my story, I’m sure you’ll agree. As Rilke says: “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.”

You can read more about my journey in The Wife Stalker.



The Wife Stalker Book Trailer:

Sunday, May 10, 2020


by Robin Burcell

          I recently had the opportunity to interview Scott Turow who will be one of the guests of honor at the Bouchercon 2020 this fall in Sacramento, and he kindly agreed to answer a few questions for the Rogues. If you’re not familiar with him or his legal thrillers, he’s a Harvard-educated attorney who still practices law (part-time these days). His most recent book, THE LAST TRIAL, will be out May 12, 2020. Per Booklist, in a starred review: 
“Turow has established the gold standard for legal thrillers for decades, and he delivers another bar-raising example of his talent here, with his signature absorbing legal details, cerebral suspense, and fascinatingly flawed characters all on full view.” 
I've been a fan or Turow's since Presumed Innocent, so am honored to present Eleven Things You Might Not Know About Scott Turow. Enjoy!

1. Which is harder: writing the first or last sentence? For me, the last, although once I have the first sentence I know the novel is on its way. The last, however, requires me to fully understand what I am writing about.

2. Where do you like to write? One of the great blessings in my life was that my high school journalism teacher, Dr. Boyd Guest, insisted that reporters needed to be able to write anywhere. No cork-lined rooms for them! As a result, I learned to write anywhere that people will leave me alone. It’s a well-known story that I wrote much of Presumed Innocent on the morning commuter train. Airplanes also suit me well. Recently the single best place to write has been my home office in the house we rent in Naples, Florida during the grey months in the midwest, where I am often at work at sunrise.

3. What do you do when you need to take a break from writing? Respond to email and play golf.

4. If you could have lived in a different time period, what would that be? Clearly some time in the future, at least 50 years forward. I’d love to look in on my grandchildren, see how we’ve handled global warming and witness the new wonders that science has brought us.

5. What's your favorite drink? Club soda at the moment. I’m trying to cut down on Coke Zero, which I also adore. Lagavulin is an indulgence for a celebratory moment.

6. When you were ten (or thereabout) years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Around ten, I first declared that I was going to be a novelist, my mother’s wished-for ambition for herself.

7. If you could do it all over, would you still become a lawyer? Without question. There is no doubt that the practice of law is an often nasty business, with plenty of strife between opponents and lots of silly economic pressures, but the law itself remains, as my character Sandy Stern would tell you, a noble profession, about deciding how the little of life (that) people can control can become fairer.

8. Do you have a literary hero? A teacher, mentor, family member, author who has inspired you to write stories? Saul Bellow, by the time I was in college, was the famous Jewish-American Chicago Novelist whose work seemed to hit home. But his life was no ideal. Dickens continues to fascinate me. About five years ago, we spent Christmas Day in his former house in London. He was an immense talent, who never forgot how hard his younger life was, and who was one of the first to recognize the enormous health risks to the poor from urban pollution.

9. Do you write what you know or what you want to know? Both, but certainly you have to start from what you think you know of life.

10. Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring writers? Yes. Write. Put your butt in a chair and do the hard work of getting words on paper. I like to say that Phil Knight of Nike stole the writer’s slogan: Just do it.

11. Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring lawyers? (My daughter is 1L, so had to ask.) Yes. The most fulfilled lawyers I know live lives where they are never remote from the core job of practicing attorneys, which is to do justice. If it becomes about only meeting deadlines or pleasing clients or making money, the law becomes a grind. If you stay in touch with the law’s larger ambitions, you can feel allied with something truly worthwhile.

Stay safe, everyone! I hope you'll leave a comment to let us all know how you're doing!

Friday, May 8, 2020


by Rogue Women Writers

The first Rogue Women Writers blog went live May 24, 2016. We thought it would be fun to take a look back at what each of us were reading, writing or exploring four years ago!


What an exciting month May 2016 was.  No traveling, only a few appearances, but the intense and joyful quietude of research, which I love.  I dove into chatting with sources about Moscow, a Cold War secret I’d dug up, and a new energy source that might be on the drawing board somewhere.  And I ordered research books and read them.  A month of writerly pleasures!


Karna and Lee Child
When Gayle Lynds invited me to join Rogue Women Writers I was honored to be a part of such an accomplished group of authors.  At the time I was marketing my fourth thriller CASTLE BRAVO about the threat of an EMP (Elecro-Magnetic Pulse) attack on our country which would “fry” all of our electronics. We’d have no computers, cell phones, communication, refrigeration, sanitation, transportation…as one general described this possibility, “It would set us back to the year 1910, and don’t think our enemies aren’t looking at it.” I found this scenario so compelling, I had to write a story about a White House staffer who becomes embroiled in just such a challenge, and I gave numerous speeches to bank groups, churches, country clubs and also attended Thrillerfest in NY where I had a great time catching up with terrific writers Lee Child and John Lescroart (who I thanked for giving me blurbs for my previous thrillers).  All in all, joining the Rogues is one of the best things I have done during my writing career.


In early May 2016 the Constantine sisters, Lynne and Valerie, made the hard decision to consign to a drawer the novel they’d worked on together for the past year––a story of friendship and redemption. It was time to move on and tell a new story. That May was spent fleshing out a story from the spark of an idea that came to us quite by accident on a long walk as we chatted about people and life. That kernel of an idea turned into THE LAST MRS. PARRISH, published the following year in November of 2017. And that’s when we became Liv Constantine.


I was not yet a member of the Rogues! But May 2016 was an exciting time for me. That Darkness, the first book in the Gardiner and Renner series and my first with my current publisher, Kensington, had just been released. By May 3 it had already gone into a third printing. My days were filled with guest blogs, social media, writing the first draft of Perish and, oh yes, the day job. In between all that my coworkers and I were tending to 17 ducklings born in the PD’s flower beds, and I went on a cruise to the Virgin Islands with my two sisters. 


In May 2016, I was still an unpublished author, but I had sold THE FREEDOM BROKER in a two-book deal to Quercus under the Hachette umbrella. I had worked on my writing for years—there is no such thing as an overnight success in this business—and I was quite honoured that one of my literary heroes, Gayle Lynds, asked me to join the Rogue Women. I’ve learned so much in the years since, traveling the world to discuss kidnapping and my books. I’m pictured here at the Sharjah International Book Festival in the UAE being interviewed by a wonderful Nigerian book club expert. I hope the Rogues are inspiring women everywhere to write stories that matter to them. Raising a glass for our anniversary!

CBA Awards Finalists

Guangdong, China
May 2016 was a busy month. I was researching my second book in the Raisa Jordan thriller series, RED SKY. The book opened in Ukraine and the characters spent time in Poland, Germany and China. The year before I had spent two weeks in Eastern Europe doing research, but China had been out of reach so I was doing a lot of reading that May. We were launching Rogue Women Writers, I was up for a Colorado Book Award in the thriller category for DARK WATERS, and my sixth book in the Birdwatcher’s Mystery series, A PARLIAMENT OF OWLS, was coming out in June.

So tell us--what were you doing four years ago? 

Don't forget to register to win our overflowing gift bag by signing up for our mailing list! The drawing will be held on anniversary day, May 24!

Sunday, May 3, 2020


by Lisa Black

          Admit it. We all have them.

Houses that exist only in our wildest dreams. Exotic mansions in Barbados. Cozy bungalows in Bar Harbor. Renovated lofts in Manhattan. The place we’ll live once we retire or win the lottery or dump the spouse or have an empty nest or fulfill our dream of starting a restaurant franchised in eight countries or hit the NYT Bestsellers list with a fully executed movie contract. Places we can escape to when we need a short mental vacation from real life. Places we can see ourselves, fulfilled, at peace, and truly happy.

It’s not important they be luxurious or famous. Maybe you watch HGTV 24/7 and want a four- bedroom century home you can renovate from attic to cellar. Maybe you want a boathouse in Key West that’s decorated with conch shells. Maybe your dream is a grass shack on a desert island. What’s important is that it’s you.

I have three. 

First is the castle on the seaside cliff. It’s not truly a castle, per se, just really big with high ceilings and a lot of marble. I’m not fussy about what sea it overlooks, either, as long as there’s crashing surf and winding stone steps down to the beach. My brain gets a little stuck after that, because I don’t want huge—it has to be manageable without a personal staff. Consequently I picture only the bedroom (don’t read anything into that), which faces the water with one wall completely open to a wide terrace of the type commonly seen in Disney movies. This open wall will, of course, have floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains that wave in the ocean breeze because apparently there are no bugs at my fantasy house. Or burglars.

I visit this house the least, actually.

The second is the cabin in West Virginia. It is high on a mountain and I have no idea where my nearest neighbor is, but I have good view of Hawk’s Nest State Park and the New River bridge. I have never been to the Hawk’s Nest State Park, but I have had a postcard of it pinned to my bulletin board for nearly thirty years, bought while driving through the state. My WV cabin is not huge (in all my houses, I live alone…let’s not read anything into that, either) but roomy, with a cavernous fireplace and of course a wide deck for watching the sun set over the trees. Or rise. I’m not sure in what direction the New River flows.

This is the real fantasy house, the one I really would get if I fulfilled all or most of the requirements in the first paragraph. Especially the lottery one.

The third is the ranch in Wyoming, in Absaroka County where Walt Longmire is the sheriff. This one was left to me by a long-lost uncle right as my husband walked out, so, sight unseen, I packed everything into a U-Haul and drove across seven states. It’s the smallest and simplest of the houses, one bedroom and a galley kitchen…I go back and forth on whether it has a basement. I’ve seen too many horror movies to think a lone woman in the middle of nowhere with a basement is a good idea. But I’ll need storage, so there will be a barn, a number of cats, and two German Shepherds. The place needs of a lot of work, since good old Uncle Whoever wasn’t much of a housekeeper, so that I spend the first year in total seclusion as I renovate. Then, just as the town is buzzing about the hermit lady, Walt will come by to ask my help with some fingerprints and I will finally grab a drink at the Red Pony and meet my soulmate and all-around cutie Henry Standing Bear.

The only flaw in this scenario is that, while I have a large family, I’m aware of all of my uncles and none live in Wyoming.

But a girl can dream, can’t she?

Come on, tell me—what’s your fantasy house?

Friday, May 1, 2020


Here's what we Rogues talked about, researched, and revealed in April...

You either love or hate April Fool's Day. Rogue Chris Goff shares the where this day full of pranks originated. 

Rogue Karna Small Bodman asks the Rogues what they are reading to help pass the time during the pandemic.

Redeeming the time in self isolation ideas shared by Rogue Liv Constantine.

Jeffrey Wilson goes rogue and shares the challenges of writing short fiction that he has faced over the years. What do you think would be the hardest part about writing short fiction?

Do you ever daydream about fantasy houses that you'd love to live in? Rogue Lisa Black shares her top three.

To celebrate our 4th anniversary, a Rogue Reader can win a huge giveaway of books and amazing loot!

April's Rogue Recommendations is Jack Carr, and he shares exactly who and what inspired him to start writing.

From making do to making bread, Rogue Gayle Lynds showcases some good stuff about staying home.

Guest Bryan E. Robinson shares how to keep your daily writing resilience during the CO-VID19 anxiety. These tips may help you stay on track during this difficult time.