Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New author on the Shelves – #NY Times Bestseller- Identity Crisis (Sam McRae Mystery Book 1) by Debbi Mack

Welcome to another author who is joining the Cafe and Bookstore..Identity Crisis (Sam McRae Mystery Book 1) by Debbi Mack has just been released in print.

About Identity Crisis – The NY Times bestselling list in April 2011 and currently optioned to be made into a film

You can run from the past, but you can’t hide.

via Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New author on the Shelves – #NY Times Bestseller- Identity Crisis (Sam McRae Mystery Book 1) by Debbi Mack


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New author on the Shelves – #NY Times Bestseller- Identity Crisis (Sam McRae Mystery Book 1) by Debbi Mack

Welcome to another author who is joining the Cafe and Bookstore..Identity Crisis (Sam McRae Mystery Book 1) by Debbi Mack has just been released in print.

About Identity Crisis – The NY Times bestselling list in April 2011 and currently optioned to be made into a film

You can run from the past, but you can’t hide.

A simple domestic abuse case turns deadly when the alleged abuser is killed and Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae’s client disappears. When a friend asks Sam to find Melanie Hayes, the Maryland attorney is drawn into a complex case of murder and identity theft that has her running from the Mob, breaking into a strip club and forming a shaky alliance with an offbeat private investigator to discover the truth about Melanie and her ex-boyfriend.

With her career and life on the line, Sam’s search takes her from the blue-collar Baltimore suburbs to the mansions of Gibson Island. Along the way, she learns that false identities can hide dark secrets, and those secrets can destroy lives.

“Of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock once said, ‘There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.’ Author Debbi Mack nails that statement in this tightly written tale about a flawed Maryland attorney, ‘Sam’ McRae, and her relentless search for a killer when the domestic abuse case she has been handling kicks itself up a notch: The accused is found dead and his wife has taken off. Not good. Add to that the FBI, the Mob, identity theft, and a vulnerable main character involved with a married prosecutor and you have a darn good page-turner. Debbi Mack crafts a taut narrative with crackling dialogue.”
Aimee Zuccarini, The Maryland Women’s Journal, Oct./Nov. 2009.

One of the reviews from the Ebook edition on Amazon 73% of which are 5 and 4 stars.

Lots of excitement on September 9, 2015

This is my first time reading a book by author Debbi Mack! To be honest, the book did start out a little slow for me BUT I am very happy that I stuck with it because by the second chapter I didn’t want to put it down!!

Sam McRae is a defense attorney that usual handles things like DUI’s. She has one client that she is representing in a domestic violence case that comes up missing. A friend of the client’s ask Sam to help find her. But the friend isn’t the only one looking for her client! It appears that the police and maybe even the mob are looking for her!! She is also dealing with the fact that somebody has stolen Sam’s personal information and has tried to open a large credit card amount with her identification! Does this have anything to do with her missing client? Why are the cops looking for her client in an investigation of the murder?

And a review from Goodreads.

Nov 27, 2017 Cathy rated it really liked it
Identity crisis is very well written and Sam McRae is an interesting character that grabs you and pulls you along with her trying to prevent her client from being railroaded for a murder she didn’t commit…Definitely a book worth picking up and losing yourself in. Will be looking to read more from Debbie Mack in the very near future!

and Amazon UK:

A selection of books by Debbi Mack

Read the reviews and buy the books:

and on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and buy follow Debbi on Goodreads:

About Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sam McRae Mystery Series. In addition, she’s a Derringer-nominated short story writer, whose work has been published in various anthologies. Debbi formerly wrote book reviews for Mystery Scene Magazine. She writes screenplays and is interested in filmmaking. Debbi also has a podcast called The Crime Cafe, where she interviews crime fiction, suspense, thriller, and true crime authors.

Debbi enjoys reading, movies, travel, baseball, walking, cats and good espresso–not necessarily in that order.

Connect to Debbi Mack

Author page on Facebook
YouTube channel:
Podcast called The Crime Cafe

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will explore Debbi’s books further.. thanks Sally

Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss – Christmas Story – The Three Sisters (Part Two)

Yesterday in the first part of the story we meet two sisters who are settled back in the town where they were raised. But things are a little different from what they remember. Jenny meets Mrs. Partridge and wonders at the change in her sister Sally.. Despite a tragic year, is something magical about to happen?

Three Sisters (Part Two) by Paul Andruss

Jenny was shocked by how neglected Pear Tree Cottage looked. When she was a kid it always seemed full of light and sparkle. Her and Sal often took the long way home from school just to pass it.

There used to be fairy lights draped around the inside of the windows and the glass panelled door; strung up the pillars of the porch and wrapped around every single one of the snow columned conifers in the garden. She loved the way the lurid coloured lights painted all sorts of patterns on the virgin snow.

via Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss – Christmas Story – The Three Sisters (Part Two)

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – Santa’s Workshop: Open for Business by Lillian Csernica

My thanks to Lillian Csernica who shares her very special part-time job each year.. as an official Santa’s Elf..From helping sort out letters to Santa to ensuring the safe delivery of donations and much more as we will find out over the next two weeks.

Santa’s Workshop: Open for Business by Lillian Csernica

Time once again for me to put on the Santa hat or the light-up reindeer antlers and begin my annual effort as a Volunteer Elf. The first batch of letters to Santa has come in from my local post office. Eight letters, which is pretty good for this early in the month. I am well equipped with stationery, red envelopes, and an enormous pile of Christmas-related stickers. That supply came to me thanks to my sister, who likes to hit me with great surprises like this. She ordered six rolls from the The Oriental Trading Company, which is THE place to go for good quality and good prices on holiday and party-related supplies.

I try to keep my Secret Identity as the person who handles the Santa letters pretty low key. The newspaper did a story on me, which I allowed on the condition that they did not use my name. They did anyway. Argh. Fortunately, I moved, so if anybody had wanted to find me, they can’t. The post office folks are very protective of me and my privacy. The number of people who know about my annual effort to preserve the magic of childhood has grown a bit year by year. This year, people are already asking me what they can do to help. One dear lady in my writer’s group has given me two gift certificates to a local art supply store. Should letters cross my desk that ask Santa for art supplies, those kids are in for a dose of serious magic.

The real magic is giving without seeking anything in return, not even a “Thank you.” It’s nice to see the kids’ faces light up when they find out Santa Claus is really listening. That’s been my only condition in all the years I’ve been answering letters. If the postal carriers see the kids open their letters, I want to hear all about how the kids reacted. This somehow led to the parents giving the postal carriers gifts for me, gifts of appreciation for making their kids so happy. The gifts were usually homemade goodies, which made them doubly difficult to refuse. I did have to refuse them, by asking the postal carriers to express my sincere appreciation and my preference for not receiving such gifts. I’m in this to make the kids happy. That’s what I get out of it.

I want to break down what I do so I can encourage other people to become volunteers and keep the Benevolent Order of Santa’s Elves alive and well.


The primary source of the letters is the Post office. The children post their letters to Santa Claus and they get routed to me. If you want to volunteer, just go talk to the postmaster or postmistress and ask for the kit they give to volunteers. It helps to be creative. I keep a file on my computer of good ideas I’ve come up with over the years in response to the questions the children ask. Such ideas come in very handy as we get closer to Christmas Eve and my brain starts to get a bit frazzled. Speaking of Christmas Eve, it’s my personal policy to see to it all letters are answered by Christmas Eve. Some years that’s taken a bit of doing, but the postal carriers are great about helping out. Sometimes they’ve sent the “package truck” as it’s called out my way with the day’s incoming letters. I’d have them answered and ready to go out when my postal carrier came by. That, or I’d hit the post office in person to pick up or deliver. If you’re going to do this, folks, understand that you’re entering into a very special relationship with the children who believe in Santa Claus. Follow through on the commitment. My worst fear is a child whose friends have gotten replies from Santa Claus but that one child has not. Can you imagine the disappointment, the confusion, the hurt? That’s not how Santa Clause takes care of business.

You may also find that local charity organizations receive letters to Santa Claus from the children in the families such organizations help. Another friend of mine in my writing group is in charge of the local food pantry that helps the homeless and other people in need. She told me that as part of their intake program around the holidays they have the children write letters to Santa so the volunteers can do their best to get at least some of the items on those wish lists.

Last year my friend’s organization received two hundred and fifty letters to Santa Claus. Can you imagine? So many families are in so much need these days. Toys for Tots does an amazing job every year. Other charities do their best to provide at least something for the children of the needy to open on Christmas morning. I’ve written elsewhere in this blog about the occasional letter to Santa Claus that comes across my desk that stands out to me so strongly I do something about it. I’m careful, I’m discreet, and I make sure what I do is appropriate. For example, those gift certificates my friend gave me. When I add one of those to the appropriate letter to Santa Claus, it will pass into the hands of a child who will suddenly believe wishes really can come true. You never know what a chain reaction this can set off. Perhaps that child will be inspired to donate some old toys to Goodwill or a local family shelter. Perhaps there will be a delayed reaction, and that child will grow into an adult who remembers the kindness of the gift included in Santa Claus’ reply.

Let me address the issue of donations. I’ve been very fortunate in that people who know about what I do have come forward and offered their assistance. A few years ago I went out actively soliciting donations from business with whom I already had a relationship as a customer. Toys R Us offered me ten per cent off anything in the store. A local independent bookstore provided a gift certificate for a young lady who asked specifically for something from that particular bookstore. All the manager wanted in return was a copy of the letter to Santa Claus. That year I was able to go to the local charity that handles the most families in need and deliver a sack of toys, baby clothes, other items, and the donation of one hundred dollars from someone I will refer to as an anonymous benefactor. The lady at the desk almost burst into tears. It was quite close to Christmas Eve, and one hundred new families had just applied for assistance.

As I’ve said, various friends of mine have pitched in now and then with tangible items, offers of matching donations, and help with transportation. You’d be amazed how many people are willing to lend a hand if you simply put out the word. This time of year people are more prone to such generosity because we all remember being little kids who believed in Santa Claus. Let it be known that you welcome any assistance people want to provide, but don’t ask unless you get a letter with a specific request you think you can meet in an appropriate way.

The bottom line is, do whatever you can do. Whenever I go to the local Dollar Tree, I make sure I pick out a gift to give to a child. At the register I tell the clerk that item is for the children of the military, and it goes into a special collection box. These gifts are for children who have one or more parents on active deployment. I really want to do what I can to see to it Santa Claus shows up for them.

Times are tough. We have to take care of each other. If you do choose to volunteer to help answer the letters to Santa Claus, please do so right away. I guarantee there are letters waiting to be answered, and the more volunteers, the more children will receive replies. If you have questions about any of this, I will do my very best to answer them, or at the very least point you to where you can find the answers. Thank you, and God bless us, every one!

©LillianCsernica 2014

Other images Pinterest

What an amazing job Lillian does behind the scenes at this time of year.. and delighted that she has shared with us.. Perhaps next year.. where you are, you too can become an official Santa’s Elf..

A selection of contributory anthologies and books by Lillian Csernica

A review for the Fright Factory

Lillian Csernicas Fright Factory is a must read for people who want to write horror or for those who already do but want to make it even better. Though this is not a very big book Lillian has filled each page with tips and ideas and still manages to make it an enjoyable and fascinating read. My favorite part is her refrences to books, stories, and even films to show you what she is saying unlike other writing books that create an example and you are just suppose to remember it when you write. I am not a writer but I do love reading horror so it was interesting to read because some of the things she brought up as things not to do are actually things I dislike about horror novels so I know how it is.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read other reviews and follow Lillian on Goodreads:

About Lillian Csernica

At age five, Lillian Csernica discovered the Little Golden Books fairy tales. From there she moved on to the works of Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Tanith Lee, and Terry Pratchett. Her very first short story sale, “Fallen Idol,” appeared in After Hours and was later reprinted in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXI. Lillian has gone on to publish over forty short stories in such markets as Fantastic Stories, Killing It Softly, and After the Happily Ever After. Her Christmas ghost story “The Family Spirit” appeared in Weird Tales #322 and “Maeve” appeared in #333.

Lillian’s two nonfiction ebooks, The Writer’s Spellbook: Creating Magic Systems for Fantasy and The Fright Factory: Building Better Horror, provide nuts and bolts instruction in the techniques of writing those genres.

Born in San Diego, Ms. Csernica is a genuine California native. She currently resides in the Santa Cruz mountains with her her husband, two sons, and three cats.

Connect to Lillian Csernica


My thanks to Lillian for sharing her fascinating role at Christmas and as always your feedback is very welcome. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Christmas Cornucopia -Day Three – #Elvis #John Betjeman by Thom Hickey

Christmas Cornucopia -Day Three by Thom Hickey

Featuring :

A Painting by Federico Barocci (1526 to 1612)

A Poem by John Betjeman (1906 to 1984)

Music by Bill Evans, Elvis Presley and Tish Hinojosa

Above all Christmas celebrates a birth.

And, there is nothing more intimate than the bond between a mother and child after a birth.

This intimacy is captured exquisitely by the Master of Urbino, Federico Barocci, in this Nativity which positively glows with the light of love.


Bill Evans was the supreme lyric poet of the piano.

Listening to Bill’s unique sense of musical time and weight I find my spirit awakened, refreshed and released.

‘Blue in Green’ showcases the amazing precision and delicacy of his touch as a musician.

He is always instantly recognisable – the hallmark of true greatness.

This version of what has become a Jazz standard is from the Christmas 1959 session issued as, ‘Portrait in Jazz’.

You have to believe in telepathy when you hear Bill Evans play with Scott LaFaro (bass) and Paul Motion (drums)

This trio remains the benchmark for all piano trios.


Onward our Sleigh proceeds cutting its way through the Christmas snow. Travel with me back in time now to Radio Recorders studios in Hollywood on September 7 1957.

A small group of men assemble to cut an album of Christmas songs. From Gadsden Tennessee the modestly brilliant guitarist Scotty Moore, from Memphis Tennessee the ever reliable bass player Bill Black and from Shreveport Louisiana the sprung-floor drummer D J Fontana.

Huddled together Gordon Stoker, Neal Matthews, Hoyt Hawkins and Hugh Jarrett – collectively the Jordanaires, a gospel quartet filled with the spirit. Today on piano sits Dudley Brooks.

Tuning up and swapping musicians banter they all look in the direction of a quietly spoken, respectful, hooded eyed, devestatingly handsome 22 year old from Tupelo Mississippi who has in the last few years recorded a series of records that seem to have shifted the axis of the planet.

In addition through his live shows and TV appearances he has set an entire generation ablaze to the marked discomfort of, ‘sensible’ folks who can’t bring themselves to approve of the shaky-legged, swivel-hipped singer who bears the ridiculous name of Elvis Aron Presley.

Rock and roll singer Elvis Presley performs outside to adoring fans on September 26, 1956 in his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

As usual the group will warm up by accompanying Elvis as he runs through some of the gospel songs that have surrounded him through his youth and adolescence.

If there’s one thing Elvis believes in and knows through his own bodily experience it’s the power of music to raise, thrill and sustain the spirit.

Neither he nor anyone else could have guessed when he started out that he would possess an almost unique capacity to supercharge a song, to sing with such relaxed intensity and charisma that the listener felt lifted up and transported whether the song was secular or sacred.

Given a half decent song Elvis always sang his heart out and on many occasions the results were and remain nothing short of miraculous.

Like the Beatles and Bob Dylan the best of Elvis’ records are if anything under rated for all the millions of copies they have sold.

I really don’t have a fixed position on many of the great political and cultural issues of our times though I’m happy to debate with anyone. What I am certain of and will jump up on any table anywhere, anytime, to proclaim before any audience is that Elvis was, is, and will always remain the King!

Elvis’ Christmas album was a massive success and continues to sell today. The cut featured above, ‘Santa Claus Is Back In Town’ was written by the whip smart pairing of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller who couldn’t have write a lifeless song if they had tried.

Here they provide Elvis with an opportunity to demonstrate his charm, his rhythm and blues chops and the sheer swaggering physical presence his vocals could embody.

I love the tip of the hat to Elvis’ love of the Cadillac and the erotic promise of the whole song incarnated in the line, ‘Hang up your pretty stockings, turn off the light …. ‘.

Christmas brings many forms of celebration not least the chance for lovers to share some quality time together. And, I can think of no one better to serenade such times than Elvis.

We move now from a lover’s serenade to a mother’s lullaby. ‘A la Nanita Nana’ is a traditional song from Mexico sung here with characteristic tenderness and care by Tish Hinojosa.

Tish (short for Leticia) grew up, the thirteenth child, in a crowded household in San Antonio, Texas. Through her brothers and sisters and the crowded radio waves she absorbed and was inspired by music from her native Mexican culture and the folk, country and rock ‘n’ roll traditions which suffice the very air of Texas.

I recommend her CDs, ‘Culture Swing’ and, ‘Frontejas’ for those of you inclined to further listening.

The historical facts of Jesus’ birth remain shrouded in the mysteries of antiquity. However, I think we can be sure mothers nursing their new born child have always sung songs to soothe the babe just exposed to the blooming buzzing confusion of this world of ours.

The first sound we hear as we grow in our mother’s womb is the beating of her heart and hers is the first face we come to recognise in those initial hours and days of life.

Similarly, our first sense of the musicality of language comes from the sound of our mother reassuring us that we are loved and all is well. If we are lucky we will carry this message with us throughout the whole of our lives.

I have no doubt that Mary, though she had much to ponder in her heart, will have sung to her precious babe a song that could we but hear it would sound very like, ‘A la Nanita Nana’.

Today’s poem is, ‘Christmas’ by John Betjeman a poet who managed to combine popularity with real poetic achievement.

And is it true? And is it true?
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass Window’s hue,
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a child on earth for me?

… No carolling in the frosty air,
Nor all the steeping-shaking bells
Can with this simple truth compare –
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.’

©Thom Hickey 2016

My thanks to Thom for another informative and entertaining post that shares the elements of Christmas through the arts.

About Thom Hickey

Thom Hickey one of the blessed 50s baby boomer generation, was born in London into an Irish family and formally educated at catholic schools and Cambridge University. More importantly he was informally educated by the BBC, The Observer, The New Statesman and The New Yorker. His music professors were radio giants Charlie Gillett, John Peel and Emperor Rosko. The print columns of Richard Williams, Ian MacDonald and Tony Russell were religiously read and annotated.

Further intensive study was conducted at the Hammersmith Odeon, the Hope and Anchor, the 100 Club, Ronnie Scott’s and the Rainbow. Many investment portfolios were foresworn in favour of sourcing recorded treasures from the hallowed halls of HMV, Colletts, Tower and Virgin Records and mail order outfits galore.

He has a continuing belief that you can never watch too many Westerns or Ken Burns documentaries, read enough biographies about Samuel Beckett or Buster Keaton and that there is always just one more Bob Dylan bootleg he needs.

To finance his obsessions he has worked in financial recruitment, as a charity campaigner and been a senior investigator into complaints about the NHS. He now lives deep in the Surrey woods with his beautiful wife, graceful daughter and inspirational son.

Connect to Thom


The other posts in the Christmas Cornucopia can be found in this directory:

Thom will be here every day until Christmas Day…but please head over to his blog to read his current posts… always something to enjoy.. thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from My Archives – Some Christmas Music from Star Trek to Wham

Time to revive my music post from last Christamas and delighted if you put your selection into the jukebox in the comments..

Here is one for the Trekkies amongst you..(yes I am one!) Make it So… one for all of us who went to Christmas parties in the 1980s… Wham.. Last Christmas one from the 1990s… Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews with Baby Its Cold Outside..

Kylie takes us into the 2000s with Santa Baby … and then it is back to my era of madness with Slade and Merry Christmas Everybody.

Rock on…….




And finally one I danced to in the 1970s… These guys were definitely Christmas Crackers…

Darkness Defines the Light – Guest Post by, Tina Frisco…

Tina Frisco is the guest of The Story Reading Ape this morning and as always her posts are inspiring and enlightening.. Light and Dark, Good and Evil and those that bring both into our lives… bearing gifts.. head over to find out more…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Image courtesy of Ningren

Without darkness, light would have no definition. Without evil, good would never be challenged to expand. Without definition and challenge, there would be no growth. Without growth, our spirits would not evolve.

Many indigenous peoples say the Earth is a schoolhouse and we incarnate here in order to learn. This makes sense only if we view the spirit as separate from the corporeal. If we do, then advancing to higher consciousness and an elevated spiritual plane holds great promise for human transcendence.

The Earth is a bipolar planet. Since all matter converts to energy, we can infer that our lessons will be of a bipolar nature. Darkness and evil are not, in and of themselves, our enemies. When we set up something as the enemy, we constrict and lose all prospect of growth. When we see adversity as our ally, our growth potential expands and accelerates.

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Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 16 — Glitter and Glare

Thistledown is in turmoil as the three missing young faeries become the centre of efforts to save them. The crochet circle work on one hand whilst the humming birds are instrumental in summoning help.. but who are these strange and slightly menacing rescuers.

Teagan's Books

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Thistledown.  Back in episode 11, artist Janet Weight Reed, graciously let me use some of her beautiful work.  You see, some of her magical hummingbirds have made their way to Thistledown.  The hummers stuck around. 

We left the story with a shift in the narrator’s point of view.  I should probably call these post-hiatus episodes “Act 2” because of the change in point of view.  Anyhow, Bedlam, River, and Rhymer are still “off screen” so to speak, and presumably in trouble.  We’ll get back to them, but today’s episode continues with Bob the hummingbird telling this faery tale. 

From Episode 15…

“I thought the girls would be in here, studying away,” Willow Rainbow murmured in a concerned tone.

“Based on these half-eaten cookies, I think they must have left abruptly,” Luminous Twinkle added.

Then Bob saw it.  The periwinkle muskox hair…

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Annika Perry is delighted to announce that her debut book, a collection of 21 short stories, flash fiction and poetry is now available on Amazon..The Storyteller Speaks…please head over and help get the book on its way..

Annika Perry's Writing Blog


It is with great pleasure I can now announce that The Storyteller Speaksis available on Amazon.

The Storyteller Speaksebookis available on Amazon UK or Amazon USor any other Amazon outlet.

The paperback will be published in January 2018.

About the Book

It only takes one event to change a life. What is that action, decision, occurrence? Whose life is affected? Changed forever?

In this eclectic mix of 21 short stories, flash fiction and poetry the pendulum swings between first love and murder, from soul-destroying grief to reconciliation. The tales veer from the sweet satisfaction of revenge to new beginnings, from heart-breaking miscarriages of justice to heart-warming Christmas misadventure.

One common thread binds them all; the belief that there is no such thing as an ordinary life; they’re all extraordinary.

Open your hearts and minds as The Storyteller Speaks.

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