Category Archives: writing

Julie Howard, Mystery Author

I always enjoy getting to know other mystery authors, and sharing them with you. This month we meet Julie Howard, author of the Wild Crime series.

Julie has published a number of short stories, and edited and co-produced a memoir by former Hewlett-Packard executive, Ray Smelek. Before settling down into writing fiction, she used to be a reporter for The Sacramento Bee, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and a national news service.

Julie Howard

Today Julie writes fiction similar to her taste in reading: mystery/suspense, and historical and literary fiction. Her current series was born when she was a newcomer to Idaho, feeling overwhelmed by the wide-open spaces and curious about the isolated locations where people live. She found it a great setting for mystery and suspense. And though not planned, her trilogy came to her all at once.

Crime and Paradise, her most recent book was released August of 2017, and is the first in her Wild Crime trilogy. It’s a story about Meredith, a young woman who moves to a remote location in Idaho, and who believes the only way out of her abusive marriage is to kill her husband. When he ends up murdered, she becomes the prime suspect. Despite all the evidence pointing to her, Meredith finds an unlikely supporter and friend in the county sheriff. Together, they uncover some ugly truths about her husband and their small, isolated town.

Crime Times Two, the second in the Wild Crime trilogy, is currently with the publisher and will be released in summer of 2018. In book two Meredith becomes wrapped up in a series of mysterious deaths in a nearby mountain town. At the crux of the story is the theme of belonging, and the ambiguities that exist along the borders of guild and innocence. Julie is currently writing the third book in the trilogy,

Download a free short story, Three Ghosts, from her website:

The Writer In Film

There are a ton of movies about writers. Here are some of my favorites. I hope you’ll add to the list though. What are your favorite movies about writers?

Sunset Boulevard (1950) Directed by Billy Wilder, starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson

The Shining (1980) Jack Nicholson

Throw Mama From The Train (1987) Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito

Funny Farm (1988) Chevy Chase and Madolyn Smith

Her Alibi (1989) Tom Selleck and Paulina Prizkova

Misery (1990) Starring James Caan and Kathy Bates

As Good As It Gets (1997) another Jack Nicholson feature

Finding Forrester (2000) Sean Connery

Adaptation (2002) Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah

Julie and Julia (2009) Amy Adams and Meryl Streep

The Ghost Writer (2010) Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) Tom Hanks

This Beautiful Fantastic (2016) Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, and Tom Wilkinson

Author Spotlight – Chuck Ambrose

Marc Rainer is the pen name for Charles “Chuck” Ambrose, Jr.

A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Chuck is a former Air Force JAG Circuit Prosecutor and former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., and in Kansas City, MO.

In his more than thirty years of experience, he has tried hundreds of both military and federal (civilian) major cases, including prosecutions of homicide cases, federal conspiracy trials, and mafia and other organized crime prosecutions.

Weaving scenes from his investigative and trial experiences into the plot lines of his novels, Chuck’s writing has been hailed by those in the criminal justice fields for their realism.

Chuck tries to make the books as realistic as possible, using actual criminal organizations and cases in the plot lines, and even use real transcripts from his trials.

He has co-authored a manual on how to try murder cases, which was published by the American Bar Association’s Criminal Law Section.  Chuck lives in a suburb of a major northwestern city with his wife, retired Special Agent of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), and their three rescue mutts.

Find him on his website at

A self-published author who has sold over 40,000 books to date, Chuck has four novels out and is working on his fifth. His latest release is A Winter of Wolves, which concerns the Islamic Terrorist threat to the U.S.

Goodreads describes the book as:

‘Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask is summoned to a murder scene. A Park Police officer has been brutally murdered at the Lincoln Memorial. As Trask and a team of local and federal investigators try to find the killer, more police officers are murdered. While attending the funeral for one of these victims, Trask and his team find themselves in a firefight with a cell of radical Islamic terrorists. Disqualified because of his involvement at the scene at Arlington National Cemetery, Trask is reassigned to Washington D.C.’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, where he discovers that the firefight at Arlington was only part of a bigger and much more sinister plot to bomb that threatens the entire east seaboard.’

I’m so excited to read this series of crime mysteries, and I hope you’ll join me.

Be sure to check in for next month’s mystery/suspense writer spotlight!


Feisty After 45

A dear friend and accomplished author, speaker and publisher, Elaine Ambrose, recently accepted submissions for an anthology titled Feisty After 45. And yes, I have a cute little story in the book.

Feisty Front Cover FINAL 2-18

Join Elaine, me and others at JUMP, (Jack’s Urban Meeting place) downtown Boise on Friday, April 22 from 5-7pm.

I promise it will be a fun filled evening and I would love to see you there.

Patio Party in Eagle

The North Channel Center in Eagle, Idaho is hosting a Patio Party this Wednesday, October 7th from 4:30-7:30 p.m.  And you’re invited!

Come by and visit artists displaying their crafts, while local musicians play for you, and there will even be wine samples for you to taste.

Pull the arm of a vintage slot machine for your chance to win prize give-a-ways.

And stop by my table where I’ll have my books personally autographed for you! Or just stop by and chat.

North Channel Center
North Channel Center

Just off Eagle Road and Highway 44, 600 S. Rivershore Lane is steps from the Eagle greenbelt. Ride your bike over and visit us on First Wednesday!

Pop Up Desk

What will they think of next?

I have a pop up desk in my office. I can sit in my chair and work on my computer, or hold a lever in on each side and it easily raises up and I can stand to work.

pop up desk
pop up desk

It’s really pretty awesome. I decided to rotate ever 30 to 45 minutes between sitting and standing at my desk. It’s my new workout program!

Exercise while you compute!!!


If Tomorrow Never Comes

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, never leave off for tomorrow that which you can do today.

Why do we put things off? Fear of failure? Of Rejection? Of Pain?

hanging out with friends
hanging out with friends

We have to make our own mistakes, we have to learn our own lessons.

We have to sweep today’s possibilities under tomorrow’s rug until we can’t anymore. Until we finally understand what Ben Franklin meant – that knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping, and that even the biggest failure and the most mistakes beats the hell out of never trying.

It’s one of my biggest faults – procrastination. Why write that next chapter in the book when I have laundry to do, or the house to clean? I could watch a little TV, maybe go work out in the gym. But that chapter is still waiting for me to sit down and write it.

My solution is to find friends who will hold me accountable. Call me or text me every day and ask me how many pages I wrote yesterday. They keep me on track.

Do you put things off?

A Writers Rendezvous

I spent last Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Idaho Writers Rendezvous. This amazing 3-day conference happens right here in Boise every May, and is open to all writers and aspiring writers.

I felt especially blessed and honored to meet one of my favorite authors, Katherine Neville, and have the opportunity to share lunch with her and get to know this talented person. Katherine is author of The Eight, a novel which is published in over 40 languages and has sold over 10 million copies! I’m getting ready to read The Fire, her sequel to The Eight.

Sherry and Katherine Neville
Sherry and Katherine Neville

The lineup of speakers and workshops was fantastic, as always, and I feel each year the Rendezvous gets better and better.

I get inspired and motivated by all the speakers and authors, but I also enjoy just connecting with friends that I haven’t seen in a while to discuss our writing projects, challenges and successes.

friends and writers
friends and writers

We topped off the event Saturday night with Basque dancers, a Basque dinner, and handing out awards to the winners of our 2015 writing contests.

Basque Dancers
Basque Dancers

Happy writing and reading to all!