Do Grave Harm – the story behind the story

If you’ve been paying attention to my social media or the other pages on this website you know Do Grave Harm, book 1 in my new multi-genre series, Blue Bald Falls, is finally available across all formats.

Yahoo! Yippity do-dah! It’s been a loong, loong, time coming for this story and to say I’m thrilled is too tame.

I’ve said on this blog many times that my characters come from a lot of different places and people I’ve met over my lifetime. Some were just passing acquaintances but a phrase they spoke, a way they held their heads, stuck and my memory and suddenly showed up in one of the characters.

But at the heart of every heroine or protagonist, there is me.  Egotistical maybe, but there you have it.

In Do Grave Harm, Jennifer, is probably more me than any other character I’ve ever written. I was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2014. We caught it early, did a lumpectomy and was hopeful it would end there. After the surgery was complete, we learned my type of cancer, Her2+, was particularly aggressive and needed a year of chemo and 30-35 radiation treatments.

It was devastating news, but I decided it was only a year out of my life. How bad could it be? As the treatment progressed, story ideas began to filter through my mind. I’d never written a mystery before (romantic suspense and comedy are in my wheelhouse) but the more I thought about it, the better the idea sounded.

Fast forward two years later and Do Grave Harm is finally ready for prime time. It was an incredible journey writing this story. I would not wish what I went through to get here on anyone, but know so many of us face daunting diagnoses like Jennifer’s every day.

That’s why a portion of all proceeds will be donated to metastatic breast cancer research  and Circle of Hope, an East Tennessee foundation thats helps people in this area pay for their treatment. Every October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, the total proceeds from this book will be donated to those charities.

Happy reading!



Do Grave Harm up for pre-order

 So excited to announce my newest story, Do Grave Harm, is now available for pre-order at iBooks and Amazon!
I’ll add the official blurb and links to pre-order this title below but I want to give you all a little background info on this story.
I got the idea for it while undergoing treatment for agressive breast cancer for the first time in 2014. I used to tease my doctors every time they were telling me news (good or bad) that they’d better be careful because as a writer they couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t come up with an idea to kill them!
It didn’t change their message (sometimes it was good news; yes, others were devastating), but I know they all realized I was kidding. Several of my doctors even offered me options on just exactly how to go about “killing them.” The nurses came up with even better ideas to kill the doctors.
Fast forward to this summer. Finally, after fits and starts, this book is finished.
All my stories have personal meaning to me. I don’t know that I could write a book that didn’t. Because this story started out when I was fighting an insidious disease that I may never defeat, it goes beyond the normal. I can’t step away from it. I can’t toss it off as “just another story.”
I hope, when you read it, you’ll understand why…


(A Blue Bald Falls Mystery)

“Helpless” and “vulnerable” aren’t normally part of freelance writer Jennifer Atkinson’s vocabulary. But there’s nothing normal about her regularly scheduled radiation treatment, especially when she discovers that while she was fighting claustrophobia inside the massive machine aimed at her breast, someone was murdering the technician at the controls.

As the gruesome scene plays over and over in her mind, small details that didn’t seem significant at the time start the wheels turning. Soon she’s asking more questions than she’s answering for the seriously attractive investigating officer, Blue Bald Falls Detective Ben Manteo.

Despite Ben’s warning she should keep her nose out of it, Jennifer can’t resist using her limited energy to pick up seemingly unrelated threads that, inevitably, begin to weave themselves into a narrative. A story of lies, deceit, and betrayal that someone will go to any length to make sure never gets told…

Note: The proceeds from this story during October, breast cancer awareness month, will be donated to metastatic breast cancer research.

Amazon pre-order

iBooks pre-order

Kobo pre-order




Cover Reveal!

Thrilled to announce the cover for my first mystery, Do Grave Harm, scheduled for release this summer!

This lovely cover is the work of the incredibly talented Elizabeth Cooper.
Liz and I have been friends for a long time. She is a multi-talented lady, her stories are amazing and she tops herself every time with her graphic designs.
And here’s a short blurb to remind you what this story is about. More information in the next few weeks! I promise!

Do Grave Harm: A Blue Bald Falls Mystery

She never thought the fight of her life would become a fight for her life.



There’s nothing normal about Jennifer Atkinson’s radiation treatment, especially when discovers the technician dead in the control room. As the gruesome scene replays itself in her mind, small details spark more questions than she’s answering for the seriously attractive Detective Ben Manteo.


Despite Ben’s warning to stay out of it, Jennifer picks up seemingly unrelated threads that weave themselves into a story of lies, deceit, and betrayal that someone will go to any length to make sure never gets told…


Interview with Ally Calhoun from Tempest

(Note: This blog was also available here as a guest blog.)

When I first got the idea for Ally and Tempest. I did a short interview with her to learn what motivated her to pack up and leave her Boston home for a place in Tennessee she’d never seen or visited. This is the result.


You left a thriving business and life in Boston to come to Piney Bluffs, Tenn. Why?

“Weather is a big draw. Can anyone say nor’easters? My husband always talked about his childhood here and he said he wanted to have a place in the mountains. After he passed, I found he still owned the family land and property. It seemed only fitting when I needed a change after his death, to come and take a look. I’d never been here – we were so busy getting and keeping the Agency going ….”

Sorry for your loss. He was very young …

“Yes. It wasn’t a good thing. I wish we’d never taken on that job, but there are no do-overs.”

That last job. Can you talk about it?

“I don’t want to. That wasn’t what I agreed to when you said we have to do this.”

But you uprooted your life, sold the PI business you loved and created with him. All to move down to Tennessee, a place you’d never visited, never wanted to, because of how that last job ended. Don’t you think you need to talk about it?

“Now isn’t a good time.”

Ok. I’ll let it go. But you know you’re going to have to address it at some point. What are you going to do now that you’re here? This place is a mess.

“Only one thing came to my mind the day I first saw it. Wow. Not in a good way. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to be able to stay here.”

This is an actual house in E. Tennessee in Cades Cove but when I saw it, I knew this was the house Ally moved into, sight unseen, because it had been in her husband’s family.

I can imagine. This property has belonged to the Calhoun family for two hundred years. The first settlers to come across the mountain settled here.

“Yes. I discovered that. Along with several unopened letters from the Tennessee historical society requesting that Mike either restore it or sign it over to them.”

Is that your current plan? To restore it and open it as a historical site?

“Uh, no. I just want to make it safe enough I don’t think the fire department and building inspector are going to come in and make me move.”

Who’s doing the work?

“Right now, me. I spend a lot of time googling things. I’m a pretty quick study. That’s a good thing.”

That’s a surprise. I figured someone with your background, would hire everything done.  Contractors, subs and designers. Have you done renovations before? I believe you had a maintenance-free condo in Boston.

“Never. Being a private investigator is mostly about research. I also think it will be helpful in my new career.”

That’s right.  Your plan is to be a writer. What are you writing? Is anything published?

“Nothing published. Just polishing my first story. It’s a thriller. I’ve always been good with my hands too. Lots of time when I was deployed, things would break or just not work like it was supposed to. I learned to adapt and overcome.”

Isn’t it one thing to jury-rig a piece of equipment for a relatively short op in the desert where you have a team to help you vs. trying to rehab a house that’s falling down around your ears?

“Maybe. But it doesn’t feel right hiring out this stuff. Mike would have fixed it himself.”

You’re not Mike. Besides, isn’t this more a money thing?

“Have you been talking to my accountant?”

More he’s been talking to me. How can you be broke? I thought your PI business was doing good?

“I did too. Mike handled all that ….”


I hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at Ally Calhoun and will want to read how she deals with all the changes she faces in her life in Tennessee. An excerpt from the book is available here.

As always, this book is available at all digital retailers but the links are below.

Thanks, y’all!




Woolgathering …

Webster’s says woolgathering is: indulgence in idle daydreaming.  I spend a good deal of my days and nights doing that. If I did a poll of other writers, really artists in any format, I would find I’m not alone.

In my mind, there’s really two kinds of woolgathering – productive and unproductive.

Let’s start with unproductive. That’s when one of my characters is going to work on his/her computer. What kind of computer?, I wonder, before starting to write the scene. I must then spend hours googling computers of all makes and models. Somehow, the “research” time turns into adding items to my wish list. (The wish list is totally unproductive as no one sees it but me, and most of the items that end up there would only make it into my house if I win the lottery!)

“When I’m on a break from writing, I’ll log on to Amazon and eBay. The doorbell is constantly being rung by deliverymen.”

-Sophie Kinsella
Read more 

But you say, you have all that useful info on computers. Alas, the computer search somehow turns into a search for cameras or wool (yes, two of my hobbies are photography and knitting) or something completely useless like a pizza peel (wood, of course, from a restaurant supplier–I’m not a restaurant, nor do I even make my own pizza.) Oooh, there’s a good apple corer. You glue it to the countertop …

But that’s enough about being unproductive.

Now on to being productive. Oh, I’ve got to write a blog about one of my characters in my romantic suspense Tempest. Oh, drat, better get busy. Hey, she moved from Boston to Tennessee. She needs to research living in a small town …