"Easy reading is damn hard writing."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Everything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And later on you can use it in some story."
- Tapani Bagge


Black Ribbon AffairBlack Ribbon Affair

Caitlin Donnelly's life is exactly how she wants it—except for the threatening notes. Deciphering who's after her, and why, isn't easy when the suspects include all her co-workers, along with a man from her past. Caitlin isn't sure who she can trust and danger escalates at a pace equaling her attraction to Mike.

Mike Rafferty's life is in a mess. When his personal life disintegrates, he grasps an opportunity: a challenging new job and relocation to a different state. Finally, he has something to look forward to. He discovers an unexpected benefit in his new co-worker, a woman who turned him down years ago. Mike welcomes this unexpected chance to pick up a relationship worth waiting for.

When Caitlin is kidnapped, Mike struggles to save the woman he loves while she learns to trust in his love to keep her alive.

Available October 23, 2009
The Wild Rose Press
Barnes and Noble


How often have students in writing classes been told, "Write about what you know"? That cliché has been restated in various ways in writing workshops I've attended as well as classes I've taken. However, writing what we know means we still must craft our words to bring enjoyment to our readers.

Write what you know:
I know Wisconsin well, having been born and raised in the southeastern corner of the state. So I've chosen to use this setting in some manner in all of the books I've written with the exception of one.

Write what you know:
I know the intricacies of relationships as I've been part of these interactions and studied them. So my books are centered in people's connections, how they form, change, struggle, die away—in real life situations of marriage, family, friendship, workplace.

Commercial Women's Fiction

The Dessert Dames series:

This series focuses on a group of friends, all in their fifties, dealing with their families, romantic relationships, and struggles in life. Each book pulls out one particular friend and follows her through a significant life-changing event, and traces how that incident, her responses, and her ultimate transformation affect those around her. In each case the woman emerges a stronger, wiser person.

Perhaps you noticed the owls on the Wise Woman page. Owls have traditionally symbolized wisdom so that photo belongs there. Notice the group of them. Perhaps they are wise friends, too. Within the Dessert Dames series, readers will catch glimpses of owls as mascots for these smart women on their further journey toward wisdom.

Why did I decide to write this series? I'm writing what I know, of course, with some generous tweaking from my lovely muse.

Better Than Sex: Katy's story.
A terrorist bomb explodes, killing Katy's husband, shattering her life as she expected it to unfold. She moves through her stages of grief, growing with each painful experience to find a new kind of joy at the end of her journey.

More Than A Trifle: Cassie's story.
When her compulsive gambler husband disappears, Cassie finds herself facing financial ruin. How she and her family pull together to rebuild their lives dominates this novel. (Writing in progress)

Untitled: Elaine's story.
Her husband leaves her for a younger woman and a fancy sports car. Elaine reinvents herself into a sexy, overachieving career woman who finds internet dating ideal in her search for the perfect young stud. (Research and plotting stage)

Single Title/Mainstream with Romantic Elements

Once again I set these novels primarily in Wisconsin. Their female protagonists grow and change throughout the books' events. Following my mantra, some of what occurs in the women's lives I have lived or observed in others. Much of it gets intensified and embroidered upon using my creative juices and the "what if" theory of development. No matter that these stories are fiction, the universality of the women's struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers.

Soul String
This novel traces the professional and personal growth of B.J. Kelly from her graduate school days through the triumphs and sadness of the next twenty-some years of her life. The highs and lows of these years are often intertwined with her relationships with the four men, all catalysts in her life, whether for love, hate, corporate success, or friendship.

Never Say Never
A single mom, Maggie Meehan wants only two things to occur in her near future: career stability and providing for her daughter. Life throws monkey wrenches into her plans, not to mention, murder and mayhem in her workplace and at home. When two men from her past show up, her life tumbles into further confusion. Already faced with more than enough stress, Maggie reactivates an old back injury which could force her into a level of dependence she's not willing to accept.

How Maggie handles these issues provides a reader with a story of love, hope, and renewed trust.

Romantic Mystery/Suspense

The Affair Series

Once again, I chose southeast Wisconsin as the setting for much of the two books currently completed. I also chose a heroine pushing forty who's "arrived" in the corporate industrial world. The hero also belongs in this world and remembering that saying "write what you know," I put them in a situation about which I had familiarity as it was my husband's world. The twists and turns, of course, were in my imagination. So much fun creating problems and perils for them to solve, just like my classic movie favorites Nick and Nora Charles and TV favorite, Hart to Hart.

In the second completed book of this series, I set my hero and heroine at an isolated fishing lodge in Alaska. I'm familiar with Alaska and that life because my oldest son lives it, and next to Wisconsin, I love Alaska with a passion for I have family there.

Black Ribbon Affair
Human Resources VP Caitlin Donnelly uncovers drug cartel connections in the shipping department. In the process of solving how and who's involved, she nearly loses her life and a second chance at love with younger Mike Rafferty. When Caitlin is taken hostage, she finds the strength within herself to fight for freedom as Mike struggles to rescue her before it's too late.

This first book, has been sold to The Wild Rose Press. I will be writing as Casey Clifford using my pen name for mystery/suspense. Check out Casey's page on this site for more about Casey.

Fireweed Affair
Now married, Caitlin and Mike are on a corporate working retreat at an Alaskan fishing camp. All too soon, they discover murder is on the agenda of someone in the isolated camp. Once again, Caitlin fights to save herself while Mike works at protecting the survivors at the lodge.

Historical Romance

I grew up reading history, majored in it in college, and loved reading the novels of Anya Seton, Frank Slaughter, Thomas Costain, James Michener, Leon Uris, and so many others. I also loved to hear tales about my great grandparents and the people of their generation. When I married I loved gathering these stories from my husband's family.

So much fodder for writing historicals. However, I've written only one so far, but I have at least a few more festering in the back of my brain, waiting for the perfect time to emerge.

My solitary completed historical emerged from a story often told by my dad and his siblings about their grandfather. This man, I'm sure made more mythical with each retelling of the stories about him, was a ship's captain who had sailed all the oceans and seas but chose to immigrate to the US and then sailed Lake Michigan for a living. One of those stories centered on Great Grandpa captaining one of the ships that rescued Chicago citizens fleeing from the Great Chicago Fire in October 1871.

I remember being handed a leather-bound book with faded script. It was one of Great Grandpa's ship logs. I read it from cover-to-cover. I learned this man who'd sailed the oceans and seas found the waters of Lake Michigan more tempestuous, more likely to induce sea-sickness in his crew and even in himself than any of those other waters. I learned of the bravery in facing quick-rising storms and the boredom of the days sailing from one port to another. Such a treasure that reading experience was for me.

Another reading cache came from my husband's family. He told me of an uncle and aunt who took their family and immigrated to Alaska where they were among the first settlers of the Matanuska Valley. This tale intrigued me, and later I read 50 years of letters written by his aunt which recounted their experiences.

Someday this information will become a novel I write. Or perhaps more than one book. I finished those letters with tears in my eyes. I felt that my hubby's aunt was an incredibly strong and resilient woman who grew through hardships and happy times, always with the focus of keeping her family together.

Safe Harbor
Captain Everett Anthony rescues the Wyndham family from the Chicago Fire and takes them to Southport, a small town in Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan. This rescue finds the Captain and the Wyndham family becoming instrumental in bringing industrial change and modernization to the sleepy little town. The Wyndham daughter also brings changes in the Captain's life and meshes the families closer together with the ties of love.