Blog Tour Grand Finale

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What better way to celebrate than with wisterias in full bloom!

The Light Never Lies Blog Tour has come to an end. The tour ran over a three month period with nineteen stops on seventeen different blogs – seven interviews, five guest posts (written by yours truly) and five book reviews. I estimate the total reach of the tour was in the range of 10,000 viewers.

There were prizes attached to the tour – two softcover copies of The Light Never Lies. I am happy to announce the names of the winners.

Jill Weatherholt won for being the blog host who garnered the most engagement on her post. Including her responses, she had 82 comments! Whew, Jill – loyal followers or what? I send out many thanks to Jill and say congratulations on managing a very engaging blog. Please, people, check out and follow Jill’s blog.

Gwen Stephens won the random draw taken from all commenters over the course of the tour. Gwen was also one of my hosts and she was running in second place to Jill for post engagement with 67 comments. You won’t go wrong to be following Gwen either – she blogs over on The 4 A.M. Writer. Intriguing blog name, right?

THANK YOU on speech bubble price labels

Many, many thanks to every one of my seventeen blog hosts. I plan to keep the tour page up on my blog so links to all of your great blogs stay put.

The blog tour sold books and it increased the number of followers on my own blog. All the bloggers who did reviews posted those reviews up to various Amazon sites and often to Goodreads, as well. This was an added bonus for me.

By reposting the tour stops to my own blog, putting links up to Facebook and tweeting, I was happy to direct new traffic to my blog hosts and increase my own visibility.

Wisteria - Guenette - 1 (6)I put this blog tour together on my own. It was a lot of work but well worth the effort. It’s sort of like what my husband often tells the clients of his construction and renovation business – if you want to put in some sweat equity on this project and work with me, you’re going to get a better price. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you can’t have a good experience with a money-out-of-pocket blog tour. I’m just saying, here’s something else to think about.

I am planning a more of a how-to post where I’ll provide tips on getting the most out of a do-it-yourself tour.

In closing, do consider putting together your own tour. And if another blogger asks you to be a host, carefully think about the request. It doesn’t have to be a free-for-all. A few of my hosts were very detailed in what they thought their followers would be interested in and that’s great. I appreciated that they knew what would work and gave firm guidelines. Win, win for everyone.

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My Latest Book Selling Venue: Alder Bay Resort


As a blue-sky day got underway, Bruce and I were off on a mini-road trip to explore a couple of new book selling venues. With the month of May winding down and June just around the corner, we want to get a toe into a couple of new resort locations to market and sell Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies. These drop-in visits are a lot like cold calls in any type of marketing – you just never know what might happen.


Alder Bay Resort turned into one of those cold calls that leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. We were met on the wide and inviting porch of the office/store/residence by Rick, one-half of the ownership team. He was kicking back with a coffee and when we asked to speak to someone in charge he said, “I’ll call Jeannie – she’s just cleaning the toilets.” Like I always say – put a woman in charge – she’ll get the job done – any job that needs doing.

P1000260Jeannie welcomed us with a big smile and was more than enthusiastic about stocking both my books, displaying them in a prominent location and promoting them as the work of a local author. We were invited to take a walk around the grounds of the resort and stroll out on the dock to enjoy the views. Rick told us to try out the new path he had just carved into the bush leading out to a great view. Apparently, it’s not all coffee drinking on the veranda for Rick.


After taking numerous photos we wandered back and chatted with Jeannie  what it’s like to live on-site and run Alder Bay Resort. Coffee break obviously over, Rick was out and about on a landscaping task. Jeannie told us that neither she nor her husband ever takes the beautiful spot for granted. Just the past night a couple of Minke Whales had passed close to the shore. And then of course there’s the eagles and the cruise ships meandering right past their front door, through the water of Broughton Strait. What’s not to love?



P1000271Jeannie told us a great story that reflects her hospitality ethic. She always warns her workers to never judge a person arriving at the resort on first appearances or experiences. People have worked hard to carve out a time to holiday at Alder Bay Resort, usually for fishing. They are, after all, a destination fishing resort and have a worldwide clientele. Patrons will have spent hours or even days travelling to get to the resort. They are anxious and stressed and running on high octane to get their perfect holiday started. All these factors may not lead to a guest making the best first impression – especially if something is not just as they have dreamed it will be. Jeannie assures her staff, “Give the person a day or two. Let him (or her) get that boat in the water, spend a night hanging out around the camp fire and you are going to see a different person.” Sage advice, for sure.



Here’s a couple of quick bits of information on Alder Bay Resort and please check out their website. Enjoy the Northern Vancouver Island experience from one of the area’s most scenic facilities. Alder Bay is a full service waterfront campsite centrally located on a sandy beach between Telegraph Cove and Port McNeill and directly across Broughton Strait from historic Alert Bay. The Resort has full service RV sites, tent sites, a marina, a 2 lane boat launch, a sani station, a store and laundry facilities, showers, a fish cleaning station, fish freezing services, a separate kayak launch site, sandy beach and long term parking. Whew – that is the whole package for you fishing enthusiasts.


Oh, and by the way, you can pick up a copy of Disappearing in Plain Sight or The Light Never Lies at the resort store and wile away the hours by the campfire, or sitting out in your boat waiting for the fish to bite, reading stories that are steeped in North Island flavour and filled with fictional, local characters.


Check out these nifty driftwood trees they sell at the resort. All the pieces are numbered so you can take it apart, pack it up, get it home and reassemble. How great is that?


Throw that fish on the barbecue. Let’s kick back and enjoy!

Alan Bricklin’s Crossword–Location, Location Series

001I became aware of Alan Bricklin’s book, Crossword, via Review Seekers, a Facebook site that allows authors to request a book review if they are willing to offer a free copy of their book or let other subscribers know that their book is free on Amazon. Something about the cover of Bricklin’s, Crossword intrigued me. I felt due for an action-packed mystery, so I hopped over to Amazon and downloaded a copy. No regrets, for sure. I managed to connect with Alan via a niece of his on Twitter and he agreed to do a guest post for my location series.


Take it away Alan!

Crossword takes place in numerous locales including Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, England and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I think it’s interesting to take a look at the genesis of this novel, since many of the locations flow from the story itself.


Smal Street in HohenemsSmall street in Hohenems

I’ve been intrigued by espionage ever since I was a teenager. I don’t remember the exact genesis of this interest; but I suspect it came from reading books about code breakers and spies. I was an avid reader from a fairly young age and read a great variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. A few years ago, while reading the Los Angeles Times, I came across an article about lake Constance, also known as the Bodensee, which separates parts of Germany and Switzerland.


Lugano, Switzerland

Although the article was mainly a piece on travel and vacations, the author mentioned that during World War II the lake had seen its share of spies crossing between the two countries on opposite shores. This got me to thinking that this might be part of the setting for a spy novel I had been thinking about writing. Shortly after this I read a piece about Hitler’s attempt to develop an atomic bomb, and I wondered how I might utilize this along with the locale of lake Constance.



I was able to get several rolls of microfiche from the Department of Defense that had recently been declassified and dealt with operations that had taken place in Switzerland and in the vicinity of the lake. Further research turned up information about the transport of fissionable material from Norway to Germany, and I could visualize the nidus of a story and several locations that would each play a part in the action.

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Rhine River near the Swiss-Austrian border.

Every story needs a hero or heroine, or at least a protagonist, and that was my next task. To add interest, my protagonist needed to have his own personal problems to deal with as well as the challenges of the task assigned to him. The “back story” for my hero presented an opportunity for yet another location, and I choose one with which I was very familiar, Philadelphia, the city where I was born and lived for the first thirty years of my life.

I believe that a story is not just about action and events. All of these take place in specific locations, and details about locations enrich the tale I’m telling, just as the thoughts and feelings of the characters make them come alive. A lot of research went into investigating places, especially ones that I had not actually visited. What buildings were in existence during the time period of the story, what did they look like, who would have frequented them?

OSS SwitzerlandThe OSS Building in Switzerland

norskNorsk Hydroelectric

Italian marketItalian Market

These were some of the questions I endeavoured to answer. Research, photos and imagination allowed me to paint a picture which I hope created a realistic background for the story I told.

My Review of Crossword

Crossword is an espionage thriller with enough twists and turns to keep the most enthusiastic of fans page-turning. Rich in detail, the book plunges the reader back in time to the closing weeks of World War II. Various settings include Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Austria, Italy, and the American streets of Philadelphia.

Point of view shifts from character to character, allowing a wide angle perspective across battle lines and allegiances. We meet SS General Gerhard Waldman who is described as standing, “ . . . just over six feet tall, with chiselled features and jet black hair, his lean, athletic build hidden by his uniform and the long leather coat he wore. His features were almost a caricature of himself, and in the eerie light he looked, at times, more like an illustration than a living human being.” Images of black and white comic book Nazi characters flood the imagination.

Then their is Heinrich Schroeder, the quintessential military man – a soldier’s soldier – he doesn’t consider politics but ultimately, the action he takes to preserve what he cares about lands many in a political storm.

Early on we are introduced to Sten, the Norwegian resistance fighter. He suffers through the Nazi occupation and describes well the reality of war. “Fighting may kill you but it was all the other things that chipped away at your soul and sucked out your energy so that no matter how strong your muscles were, no matter how good your physical condition, you always felt drained and weak.”  Life under the Germans was for Sten, “. . . as if all his actions took place on a giant cobweb of infinite dimensions, each movement held back by sticky stands, never knowing if he would reach his destination and always, in the back of his mind, the spider.”

Allan Dulles, the consummate spymaster and power broker for the allies has seen too much and envies the clouds. “He stared out his office window a moment longer, watching the clouds float by, and with an anthropomorphism he didn’t really believe, envied them their distance and detachment from the human race, watcher who were serene in their total inability to do anything to alter the course of history . . .”

Larry Sabatino, the US soldier turned spy who hails from the streets of South Philly, looks through a forest clearing to note, “Flecks of mica within the rock reflected those of the sun’s rays that penetrated the forest cover and gave the appearance of a giant mirrored orb in the center of some Coney Island ballroom.” And thus the author links with brilliant ease two entirely disparate locations.

The story unfolds through espionage and counter espionage. “Questions wrapped in an enigma and sent into a spin by deception and trickery. Tradecraft at its best. Nothing is what it seems.”

Love and betrayal, lost and found people and things, all juxtaposed against the life-shattering confusion of a war coming to an end. A haunting question is posed. ‘How do you search for someone who’s no longer among the living? Do you look for a ghost, some ethereal spirit that haunts places once familiar, that lingers in corners of times gone by and peeks from behind some almost forgotten theme?”

Bricklin’s superb use of imagery and setting location throws the reader inside the emotional landscape of war. Reality is reflected through a prism that sheds insight on all sides. For the reader who is looking for a complex novel, Crossword will not disappoint.

Please hop over to Amazon and check out Alan Bricklin’s book – Crossword.

New Release: Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope

My newest release – Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope: A Book of Short Storieshas gone live on various Amazon sites. Only 99 cents US. Please, help boost up the early rankings by sharing through your social media networks and considering a purchase. Thanks in advance. I’m also, as always, hoping for a few reviews.

Final Cover  - Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope

Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope is a book that shamelessly tugs at the reader’s emotions. A compilation of thirteen redemption stories, these glittering gems break the heart open with themes of loss, helplessness, jolting change and mistaken paths. For the reader who is willing to carefully untangle the words, within each strand of story sorrow there are threads of hope to be found.

Francis Guenette, author of Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies, has joined her creative voice to four of her late mother’s unpublished short stories. She has combined these with her own work to produce a slim volume that strikes a chord of resonance with the human condition. These stories will stay with the reader long after the book is stored away on the shelf.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Book Review Friday – The Light Never Lies

Thrilled to re-post P.C. Zick’s 5-star review of The Light Never Lies from her Writing Whims blog. This is the last stop on my blog tour and that means your last chance to make a comment and get your name in for a free softcover copy of The Light Never Lies mailed directly to your door. After you read this great review, how can you resist?


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The Light Never Lies is the second in the Crater Lake Series by Francis Guenette, and last fall I read the first in the series, Disappearing in Plain Sight (click here for the review).

What a pleasure to come back to the stars of that first novel and watch as they interact with each other and the new characters that come to Crater Lake and the secluded landscape of Northern Vancouver Island, Canada .

There’s so much to love about Guenette’s writing and storytelling ability, including landscape descriptions, characterizations, and diverse conflicts.

The characters are all my friends now even if I don’t really like some of them all of the time. They are flawed; they are immature; they are secretive; they are unkind; they are human. Somewhere along the way, Guenette manages to take their flawed personalities and turn those…

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Gender Differences in Weather Prediction


I want to take a straw poll, here. Do you ever catch yourself thinking that your husband (or any guy you know, for that matter) is from a distant planet when it comes to the weather? Like maybe he’s an alien?

Men go to elaborate measures to predict the weather – ten phone calls a day to the local weather line or slavish devotion to the internet weather network. Said men are often very confident in these means of weather prediction. I have witnessed heated debates about which data gathering source is more reliable.

If I want to know what the weather is like, I stick my head out the door and look around. It works for me. If I see a good weather wind scooting down the lake, I feel confident the rain will hold off. An opposite wind with dark clouds hovering near the end of the lake is a sure sign of trouble.

I hung clothes on the line today even though Bruce assured me over the phone that it would rain. He was several miles away as he gave his dire warning. I looked out the window and said, “Lots of blue sky, here.” He replied, “No way, it’s going to rain. I just called the weather line.”

He was so sure of more rain that he had me walk to and from the turbine shed four times in order to eke out a few more amps from the micro-hydro generator.

It goes something like this. I walk up and shut the turbine down. I walk back to the cabin. I turn off the low power switch – only good if the power is lower than 15 amps. I walk back to the turbine shed and turn on a combination of two nozzles to equal 15 amps. Previous to this morning’s instructions we were running on one 10 amp nozzle. I walk back to the cabin and monitor power levels for the next hour.


Meanwhile the sun is shining – great news – I check the Outback Monitor and discover 20 amps of solar power coming in. Before the hour is up the micro-hydro power has dropped to 5 amps. Hmmm – I suspected as much. I walk back to the turbine and check the gauge. Instead of 80 p.s.i. we are at 40. I shut the turbine down and head back to the cabin. I turn the low power switch back on and have a piece of toast and a coffee. It takes a while for the pipe to refill. I head back up to the turbine shed and turn on the one 10 amp nozzle that we had running to start with.


No worries – it’s a nice day to walk back and forth and even though I seriously doubted his 98% assurance of rain and thus more power, (why is anyone compelled to put a percentage on their surety? It’s bound to come to no good.) I went along with the plan. You never know.

The day goes on – no rain and more than a few bursts of sunshine. I decide to grab an afternoon coffee and go for a walk. By walk I mean wander around the place taking pictures and sitting on my favourite benches. It’s all good. All the benches are dry, by the way. Just saying.


A fellow blogger – Jennie Orbell – recently put up a Facebook post with a photo captioned: The Original Coffee-Cup in a Tree. (If you want to follow a really hilarious author/blogger who posts on gardening, her life adventures and all things in between, please follow Jennie.) I was inspired. I went out that very afternoon and put two teacups in shrubs. Can’t even imagine what Bruce will say when he notices these. I might get lucky and that elusive rain will hide all.


Oh double drat – the rain came while I was writing. I’ve got to rescue those clothes.


Is a prediction delayed still a valid prediction?

Author Wednesday – Francis Guenette

Today, it is my pleasure to reblog P.C. Zick’s interview with me over on her blog – Writing Whims. P.C. has a real talent for interviewing authors. I hope you’ll pop over and check this one out. And please take note – this is the 2nd to last stop on my blog tour. Get your comments in on P.C.’s blog to be entered to win a softcover copy of The Light Never Lies mailed directly to your door 🙂


typewriter.jpg It’s Author Wednesday time once again. I’m so excited when I can welcome back a favorite author because she’s published a new book. Today I welcome back Francis Guenette   who visited for an interview in November, and whose book Disappearing in Plain Sight, I reviewed back then as well. It is with great pleasure to bring Francis back for another interview, this time to discuss her new novel The Light Never Lies, a sequel to her first novel, both of which are contemporary fiction that deal with family issues and romance. The Light Never Lies - 3-D bookcover

Before we begin the interview, Francis is offering some prizes to celebrate the release of The Light Never Lies. Two softcover copies of The Light Never Lies will be mailed to the lucky winners. One for the blog host who achieves the greatest engagement with the post and one commenter – a name of a commenter…

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Cover Reveal: Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope. A Book of Short Stories.

Final Cover  - Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope

A mother and daughter team up to create a book of short stories that shamelessly tugs at the reader’s emotions. Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope is a compilation of thirteen stories that will break the heart open with themes of loss, helplessness, jolting change and mistaken paths. For the reader who is willing to carefully untangle the words, within each strand of story sorrow there are threads of hope to be found.

Watch for this new title soon to be released on Amazon Smile

If you are interested in doing an advanced reading in order to provide a review on or close to the release date (approx. 1-2 hours of reading time) please let me know in the comments. I’ll soon be able to provide a mobi or epub file.

Hat in Hand my Friends, Hat in Hand

Fran's Garden

I sincerely believe blogging is about more than promoting, selling or making money. This site is my author webpage as well as my personal blog. It is my way of connecting with readers, friends and fellow bloggers. It’s the place I tell about what’s happening in my life, be it writing, books, publishing, marketing, parenting, grand parenting, gardening, living in a rural setting, travelling.

My blog is where I pay it forward when it comes to supporting other self-published authors. I recently started a series where I invite self-published authors to do a guest post related to how location plays an integral role in their writing. I’ve regularly posted book reviews and interviews and promoted these far and wide through my social media network.

In terms of valued-added, I’ve blogged a number of times about my experience with self-publishing in the hope that some of the things I’ve learned through trial and error might help someone else. Always we are standing on a continuum with others ahead of us and others behind. As we reach for a hand up, I firmly believe we should be reaching back to help others climb.

Fran's Garden (2)

I also host a spin-off blog called Saying What Matters where I write posts dedicated to effective communication skills. This is my way of sharing with others the experience and training that I’ve had the privilege to obtain.

You might be thinking – where is the hat part? We get that you’ve paid your dues, now you get to the point.

Okay, here it comes.

If you’ve stopped by my blog and considered reading either of my books at some later date – maybe that date has arrived. If you’ve read Disappearing in Plain Sight or The Light Never Lies and thought about doing a review to put up on Amazon or Goodreads – maybe today is the day. No time like the present – right?

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This plant is sometimes called Love Lies Bleeding – oh, the author’s lament – right?

You will find Disappearing in Plain Sight for sale on the following sites:


The Nook Store at Barnes and Noble


The Light Never Lies is available on the following sites:



The Nook Store

Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and all e-reading devices, I’ve got you covered. Many thanks in advance to all readers and followers who respond to my hat in hand request. No good deed goes unnoticed. My gift today is the beauty of a few flower shots from our garden done on macro setting. Enjoy.

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May Garden Musings


I love spring anywhere,

but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.

Ruth Stout

On this wonderful May long-weekend, I find I must agree with Ruth Stout. This might be the loveliest time for our wilderness garden.

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I know that later in the summer it will be lusher, more crowded with colour and production. It will present itself as an overdressed grand lady who flouts herself to the world. But now, as spring reaches its zenith, the garden is a young slip of a girl dancing along the paths, her brightly patterned dress flashing colour as she races by.

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Everything is crystal clear and wonderfully set off against the background of the evergreens.

Red Rhodos @ the Lake

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The rhododendrons, lilacs and apple blossoms cause me to catch my breath with pure joy.




Apple Blossums - photo by Bruce Witzel

The erupting profusion of the Hostas make me think I might actually see them growing, if only I watched closely.

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A Japanese Maple showers a garden bed with blood-red leaves.

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Lest I seem to have fallen too far under the month of May’s spell, I offer you this poem I discovered this morning – point and counterpoint.


by Jonathan Galassi

The backyard apple tree gets sad so soon,

takes on a used-up, feather-duster look

within a week.

The ivy’s spring reconnaissance campaign

sends red feelers out and up and down

to find the sun.

Ivy from last summer clogs the pool,

brewing a loamy, wormy, tea-leaf mulch

soft to the touch

and rank with interface of rut and rot.

The month after the month they say is cruel

is and is not.

(North Street & Other Poems, 2001, HarperCollins, NY.)

Witzel - Iris