Hello Readers!

The sun finally made its appearance in Southern Arizona just in time for the annual Tucson Festival of Books last weekend (after a freak snowstorm the day before)! Touted as the third biggest book festival in the U.S. after the L.A. Times Festival of Books and Brooklyn Book Festival, the event brought more than 100,000 book lovers to the campus of University of Arizona for the annual two-day event. And what an event it was!

On Friday night, I attended a gala hosted by True West Magazine at White Stallion Ranch in Tucson where former Western Writers of America president Candy Moulton was honored. There, I met Bob Boze Bell and many others for an evening of food and drink and music. What fun!

On Saturday, I signed more than 50 copies of my novels at the Indie Author Booth and caught up with my publicist, Krista Soukup, and many author friends represented by Blue Cottage Agency, including Stuart Rosebrook, Manuela Schneider, Bill Markley, Sue Ready, Mary Camarillo, Jim Jones, Bob Yoho, and Phil Mills.

On Sunday, I volunteered at the Women Writing the West booth and enjoyed meeting other WWW members and greeting the public. WWW should be proud of the effort put out by members to showcase women’s voices and women authors writing about the American West (although we do have a few male members as well).

If your travels ever take you to Tucson in March, be sure to put TFB on your calendar! I first heard about TFB from sister Soroptimist Barb Bradford in 2014 and have been attending since 2016. Not to be missed!



The Arizona Territory in 1899 is filled with hard men, many of whom are swindlers, cheats, drunks, and criminals, but none are a match for Ruby Fortune. Tough and resilient like the cacti that grow in the hot, dusty desert, Ruby is one of the most badass female characters I’ve ever encountered. Forced to put an end to her husband’s abuse, she must raise her four boys alone while facing new threats from unsavory characters in the mining town of Jericho.

Ashley Sweeney has created such an incredibly complex character in Ruby. She’s a compassionate and devoted mother with smarts, guts, and sharpshooting skills that would make any outlaw run in the opposite direction. She’s the epitome of female empowerment, and I just love her! Hardland is bold, gritty, and full of unexpected twists and turns, but ultimately, it is a tale of a woman who will not be broken.

—Jon M. 

Thanks to you, Jon M., and other readers, Hardland now has more than 50 reviews on Amazon. Keep them coming!



I’m now almost ¾ way through my first draft of Irish and enjoying research of 1880s-1890s Chicago now. My great-grandmother, Mary Agnes Coyne, came to Chicago from Ireland in 1886 and worked as a domestic housekeeper, like many Irish girls did at the time. I’ve got a vintage map of Chicago on my office wall that I refer to daily. And a pile of books. And a list of internet sites. And archival photos . . .

Like I often say, I live in the 19th century for most of the day before I join the 21st century in the late afternoon. I hope to be finished with the first draft by May 1. Wish me luck!



Author friend Janis Robinson Daly has put together a great lineup of historical novels to celebrate Women’s History Month. Visit https://janisrdaly.com/women-in-history-2023

March 8th is International Women’s Day, “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.” See my Facebook and Instagram posts —the one time per year I post a pic of my twin granddaughters as I continue to wish them a future free of misogyny, discrimination, and abuse. The future is theirs!



I enjoyed a lovely luncheon in Tucson at the home of Theresa Archer in Tucson on the first of the month. Some of the book club’s recent favorite reads include:

 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

Northern Spy, by Flynn Berr

The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt



Deb Kiley is the winner of last month’s contest about favorite reads of the last few months. Deb suggested River, Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer and The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry. Congratulations, Deb—you’ve won a copy of my first novel, Eliza Waite.

Other suggested titles from other readers include:

  • The Shinnery, by Kate Anger
  • The Pull of the Stars, by Emma Donoghue
  • My Dream of You, by Nuala O’Faolain
  • The Maid, by Nita Prose
  • The Thread Collectors, by Alyson Richman and Shaunna J. Edwards
  • Guiding Emily, by Barbara Hinske
  • Till My Last Breath, by Deborah Swenson
  • The Crooked Branch, by Jeanine Cummins



I will be off to both Chicago and Boston this month for two separate memorials for my dear Wheaton College friend, Amy Hyzer, who died in January. Wheaton friend Tisha O’Neil Smith will meet me at both events. I look forward to seeing many other Wheaton friends in Boston, and then spending much-needed down time at Wheaton classmate Katie Buckley’s home on Cape Cod after the Boston memorial. I plan to read Bless the Birds: Living with Love in a Time of Dying by Susan J. Tweit while I’m away.

You can always catch me in the middle of two or three books, not counting all the research books I read a month. Right now, I’m finishing up Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen and Beasts of the Earth by James Wade. Up next: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman and This is Happiness by Niall Williams.

Hope you’re reading something right now that sticks with you long after you finish the book.

Until next month, Happy Reading . . .