The Barn Door: Incidental Poetry

I posted something unusual over at The Barn Door this morning.  Well, unusual for me.  I am not a poet, but I have used poetry to express myself sometimes.  In the spirit of spring and Easter, I shared two poems that I wrote many years ago.  Here’s the shortest one below.  Please visit the site if you want to read the other.

I should probably also mention that this month will be the last time I will be posting at The Barn Door.  It’s a great site, and I hope you will check it out and follow them, but I’ve decided I’m just not an essay writer, at least not when there’s a deadline.  I’d rather post something when an idea strikes me, rather than have to search for an idea to meet my deadline.  Besides, at an author fair I went to today, I talked with a librarian who is eager to read my novel-in-progress, A Bull by the Horns.  I need to use my writing time to finally get the book done!


Tears of blood
down his cheeks
raining from clouds
staining the sunset
on my cheeks
my breast
my heart.

via The Barn Door: Incidental Poetry.


The Barn Door: Small Towns, Big Opportunities

My story, An Autumn Afternoon, was selected by artist Kathy Baker, and they posted a teaser of the complete canvas on the Word or Art Facebook page that makes me intrigued to see the whole picture. On September 5, I will be able to see the completed artwork, read my story to attendees, and sign copies of the book they are compiling that includes stories and art side by side.

InPrint also has monthly meetings, with guest speakers, and will host a book fair in October where I will have a chance to sell my books and meet readers and fellow writers alike. Attending those will provide more coverage and more contacts in just a few months than being a member of the Pacific Writer’s Association in Seattle did in five years.Meaning I now have to eat my words about there being fewer opportunities in small town Midwest. Opportunities are anywhere you look for them. Have you found Midwest resources that surprise or delight you? I would love to hear about them

via The Barn Door: Small Towns, Big Opportunities.

Living in small towns doesn’t mean imposing limits on your opportunities.  In my case, it has actually opened more doors than I found in the big city.  It’s more about keeping your eyes open than geography, after all.

The Barn Door: Living Many Lives

CAM00397It was time for my monthly post at The Barn Door a few days ago.  I went out and took several pictures of the farm I used to live on and then posted about how the location was the inspiration for my Coffman Cozy Mystery series..

On the 28th of every month, I will be posting something at The Barn Door about life in the Midwest, but the site has many contributors all talking about their lives in the Midwest also. Here’s a snippet of what I had to say, but I hope you will click the link at the end to read some of the other great posts.

As a writer, I can bring back the past if I want to. Or I can change the present to one that isn’t possible in reality. When the family decided it was time to sell the farm, I was lucky enough to be able to afford the small house, but not the other buildings or acres of farm land. I had a dream, you see, of filling the big house with artists and writers and composers. Adding a spirit of creativity to the existing aura of love and joy and peacefulness.

via The Barn Door: Living Many Lives.


The Fine Art of Murder

My son posted a comment on Facebook recently that he wondered what people would think of him if all they knew about him was the browsing history from his computer.  The same is doubly true for any writer of mystery or suspense. If anyone I know dies under suspicious circumstances, there is a possibility my computer could make me look like a potential suspect.

Luckily, I have a number of hard copy resources I can use for some of my research. The Writer’s Digest Howdunit Series might be out of print now (though I can still find them on Amazon) but the volumes I have on my shelf not only serve for research purposes, but sometimes for inspiration.

Deadly DosesFor instance, my imagination starts pumping when I read passages like this from the book “Deadly Doses: a writer’s guide to poisons.”

First used in 1952, Thorazine was found effective in psychotic disorders and still is one of the most common psychiatric drugs available.

Patients who are receiving an overdose often have extrapyramidal symptoms such as unsteady gait, slobbering, stuttering, rigid back muscles, restlessness, contraction of the face and neck muscles, and hand tremors.

So if, in one of my future books, you read about a character who is trembling, stumbling, drooling and stuttering like a zombie with a facial tic, you’ll know exactly what the poor devil has been poisoned with.

Through the Dark now available to ship to the U.S.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but if I did, it bears repeating.  My first Deb Donahue novel, Through the Dark, was originally only order-able in Germany and the United Kingdom.  This is because the publisher is PersonalNOVEL, a German/UK based company which sells novels you can personalize to include yourself and people you know.  Yes, that’s right, you can buy a novel from them but have the main characters’ names and descriptions updated to whomever you would like.

Well, they now are able to ship to several more countries, including the United States, where most of my friends, family and fans are, so–Yay! Visit their website and check them out, then star in your very own mystery novel!

ThroughthedarkA young woman inherits her grandmother’’s farm and, in need of a change, quits her high-powered job as a weather anchor to move out to the country. She gets more than she bargained for when her neighbor, Harlan Hunter, tries to persuade her to sell the farm. As if the pressure from Harlan weren’t enough, she is also battling nyctophobia — fear of darkness — and keeps seeing a mysterious stranger walking in the woods behind her house. With her faithful dog at her side, she decides to solve the mystery of why Hunter is so interested in the property, triumph over her fears, and discover who the mysterious man is.


My Short Stories Highlighted on Commas and Quotations

A few weeks ago, Commas and Quotations featured my novel Chasing Nightmares by posting links and the first chapter on their website.  This week, they’ve done the same with my book of short stories, Weathering the Storms.  Here’s the excerpt they posted which is from the story The Nest.

Weathering the StormsIt had been a long, dry summer. Rocks kicked up around my tires as I pulled up to the house—Jim’s house, now, not mine anymore.

David was sitting on the cement steps of the back porch, watching the toes of his sneakers kick patterns in the gravel.

I stepped out of the car and called, “Come on, let’s go. I’ve got supper started.”

He looked up but he didn’t smile. His father was nowhere to be seen, but I was sure he was close by, listening.

David kept his eyes down as he shuffled to the car. His grubby tennis shoes scuffed up small clouds of dust. The sunlight haloed his bent head. His sandy brown hair laid soft and thick around his face.

I glanced once toward the tightly draped windows of the house. Was it my imagination, or did that crack in the kitchen curtain twitch a little wider? I sat in the car to wait. The back of my neck tingled.

David opened the car door and pretended to examine the latch mechanism. Finally, with an elaborate shrug, he got in and slammed the door. Inwardly, I sighed. Every weekend this summer had gotten worse. One day, I was afraid, he would refuse to come at all.

“Put your seatbelt on,” I said.

He ignored me, leaning his elbow on the window as he gazed across the yard.

We’d been through this one last time.

“Look,” I said, “I’m tired of this. I shouldn’t have to explain to an eleven-year-old. You can put your seat belt on and be safe, or you can take a chance on getting killed in an accident. Your choice.”

I backed onto the county road. By the time I shifted into forward gear, David was reaching for the safety belt.

“The way you drive, I guess I better,” he muttered. He avoided my eyes.

We drove the seven country miles in silence. As we turned into my driveway, a swallow flew out from under the eaves of the front porch and dive-bombed the car. I laughed as I stopped in front of the garage.

“Remember that nest the swallows built?” I asked. “Wait till you see. The baby birds are hatched now. You should hear how noisy they are when the front door is open.”


I sighed and watched as David walked to the house, head down, shoes scraping the sidewalk.

At supper, David picked at his green beans, just eating the seeds from the inside like he used to when he was little. He ignored the potatoes. The limp slices grew a thin coat of cold grease.

“What’s for dessert?” he asked, still not looking up.

“You know the rule.” I pointed to his plate. “No dessert unless you finish the meal.”

He pushed the plate abruptly across the table, knocking over a salt shaker and empty plastic glass.

“That’s stupid,” he said. “You have stupid rules in this house.”

“It’s the same rule we had when we lived at Dad’s. Now if you’re done eating, clear your place at the table.”

“Why do I always have to do what you tell me to?” His voice was high pitched and uneven. His face had grown flushed. Our eyes made contact for a split second but he broke away.

“Because I’m your mother.”

“No, you’re not. You divorced Dad.”

“I used to be your mother, until you started spending the summer at your Dad’s. What’s so different about now?”

“Now I know what you’re really like. I’m not brainwashed anymore.”

This book is only available as a Kindle download from

Commas and Quotations Shared Chasing Nightmares

Commas and Quotations is a great site to visit if you want to find books.  They post the first chapter, the cover image and the links if you want to buy or learn more.  Today they posted the first chapter of my novel Chasing Nightmares.  Check it out!

Chasing Nightmares CoverCHAPTER 1

Lee Taylor watched the second hand travel toward the twelve. Then, for the first time, he moved. With a stealth nearly equal to the movement of the clock, he lifted his arms up off his bed and held them in front of his eyes.

White swathes of gauze circled his wrists.

Memory returned in ebony waves. The ride in the night, the scream of tires, sparks from the scrape of steel across asphalt, the blade of the knife as he slit through white skin to dark blood. All the scenes played back in slow motion. He fought the memories. His tensed arms shook until he no longer had the strength to hold them up.

He became still again, wishing he could turn off all awareness. The door opened and footsteps entered the bedroom. Still turned away, he knew someone looked down on him.

A cold finger tilted his face toward his visitor.

“There seems to be a little improvement in your color this afternoon,” Charles commented. “How does it feel to be alive?”

For an instant, hate flared within Lee. Buried deep, the ember of emotion glowed red but he would not allow it to gather fuel. Deliberately, he willed his body to relax, inviting back the apathy of before.

READ THE REST AT Commas and Quotations: Chasing Nightmares by Deb Donahue.