The Pit and the Passion

She held her gaze steady, mainly so she could delve deep, deep into those chocolate eyes. Together with his sharp, angular nose and intense, almost predatory, expression, he reminded her of a peregrine falcon on the hunt.

The Pit & the Passion

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Coming Soon! Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair--A TEASER

Mark your calendars: December 17 my new cozy mystery romance releases, hopefully to great fanfare!

Who's littering the park with corpses?

State Park Rangers Simon Ribault and Ellie Ironstone are used to dealing with messy campers and ravaging raccoons, but when three bodies wash up on the beach, they mobilize all their powers of deduction. Who are they and how did they get to the shore of Amelia Island? Are they connected to the secretive League of the Green Cross? Or linked to a mysterious Jamaican drug ring?

Ellie, new to Amelia Island, must penetrate a close-knit community if she wants to find answers to the mystery, all while deciding between two rivals for her affection: Thad, the handsome local idol, and Simon, the clever, quirky bookworm.

Simon, for his part, will have to call on his not-so-well-honed romantic prowess to lure Ellie away from Thad and at the same time use his wide-ranging research skills to solve the case.

Okay, here’s the teaser:

Ellie systematically searched the stern, lifting up seat cushions soaked from the rain and opening storage lockers. A rope sat in a jumbled heap by the cockpit wall. Under a small fold-out table, she noticed a red stain and bent down. It was dry. She scraped her fingernail in it and brought it to her nose. “Blood. I found blood, Simon!”
“A lot?”
“Puddle about six inches in diameter.”
“That’s nothing. I found a lot of blood. Oh, and a body.”

Where they find the blood.

Pre-order links are here:

It is also available for pre-order at Amazon, I Tunes, and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Welcome Francesca Conate, Aspiring Writer and World-Class Optimist

Please welcome Francesca Conaté, as aspiring writer with a remarkable story to tell.

How an autoimmune disease transformed my life of achievement into a life of purpose!

I was a foreigner working, living and thriving in a foreign land and I had a deep sense of gratitude for that privilege. I lived in Japan for 13 years teaching English.  My first job was with a then popular but now defunct conversation school about 3 hours north of Tokyo by local trains.  Over the next several years I took different teaching contracts from an elementary school to a junior college before I found my niche as a corporate trainer teaching business English and effective communication skills. The clients were fortune 500 companies like Toshiba, Japan Airlines and Hitachi and I taught the employees at their respective corporate locations. The most exciting contract was teaching at the headquarters of one of the most famous global brands, Sony.   Coincidentally, it was about 20 minutes by local trains from where I lived at the time! My most rewarding job was for Toshiba and the perks of that contract included:  4-day work weeks, approximately 3 months-on-1-month off teaching schedule, commuting by shinkansen (bullet train) weekly and staying in a business hotel with a stunning view of the iconic Mt. Fuji.

I enjoyed the progression of my career as well as developing my skills and knowledge in the nonprofit and community development sectors which was of interest to me.  I took NGO certification classes at (American) Temple University Tokyo campus after teaching students at Shinsei Bank where English was the official language. I also participated in social advocacy activities such as being an intermediary for cultural and diplomatic events among Japanese citizens and African communities living in Japan.  A notable achievement was being the project ambassador and keynote speaker to 2,000 Japanese members to raise funds for sustainable development projects in Sierra Leone, West Africa. This was very meaningful to me as my father was born and raised in Sierra Leone before immigrating to California where I was born. My father died when I was 12 years old and I never imagined I would have the opportunity to honor his legacy on such a grand scale and in Asia.

After living in Japan for more than a decade, I began contemplating relocation to Sierra Leone to be close to my family and to invest in my father’s homeland.   It was this mindset of limitless possibilities that prevented me from being alarmed the first time I experienced muscle weakness in my right leg after walking for several hours.  I had a very healthy and active lifestyle including successfully climbing Mt. Fuji twice, skydiving in Tokyo, four-wheel driving in Dubai and exploring the Elmina slave castles in Ghana among other adventures.

Over the next 7 years the frequency and duration of the muscle weakness increased. I was definitely in denial that “something” was wrong. I began subconsciously and then intentionally adjusting my routine to minimize the amount of time I had to walk which is nearly impossible in the largest metropolis in the world. I tried different options from acupuncture, shiatsu massage to chiropractic. The methods offered temporary relief.  Finally, I accepted it was best for me to unceremoniously return to the states at the end of a 3-month contract.  My boss was the only person I confided in at the time.   I thought because I was so healthy in every other aspect that I would come home, get a diagnosis, recover and return to the country that had become my second home within 6 months to a year. Japan has excellent healthcare but I didn't want the pressure of working full time and going to the doctor by public transportation sporadically because of my scheduling. This was a time of uncertainty and I wanted the comfort of being home with my family.

The only, but pervasive, symptom was and remains a heaviness isolated in my lower right leg that reduced my mobility and impacted my balance. It also made me something I hadn't been since high school; dependent on others to get around because I decided I would not drive until I had significant improvement.

My nature is to be optimistic, positive and to take setbacks in stride.  At that time my sense of self was diminished.  I felt broken, sad, and confused as I pointlessly tried to reconcile “why me?”. It was at this time I remembered the Japanese art of “kinstsugi” which mixes powder gold, silver or platinum into lacquer used to repair broken ceramics. It is believed that the metallic mixture that now joins the pieces back together makes the object more beautiful despite the damage.  That was a subtle and comforting philosophy for me, imperfection and restoration had a captivating beauty all its own.

It wasn’t until several years later, 3 neurologists, 2 brain MRI’s, 1 spine MRI and 1 spinal tap/lumbar puncture later that I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I cried off and on for several days. Fortunately, I was already attending physical therapy 3 times a week and that time really helped me to focus on getting physically stronger.

Prior to my diagnosis, I went out of my way to hide my physical condition. I was sad and didn’t want to be asked questions I couldn’t answer. After my diagnosis I decided to share that I had MS with my extended friends and family via social media.  It was the best decision; a weight was lifted off my soldiers to stop maintaining a false image that my life had not drastically changed. I received so much love and support from my global village from Tokyo to Kathmandu. Friends of different faiths were praying, chanting daimoku and reciting surahs on behalf of my radiant recovery. It’s humbling to be on the receiving end of so much positive healing energy and it definitely replenishes and sustains my sense of gratitude.

Interestingly a dear friend from Scotland who shares my same love of Japanese culture sent me an article about a Japanese concept known as Ikigai. I was vaguely familiar with the idea but it became more relevant in the midst of my emotional healing. Ikigai is about identifying and living in your purpose and is the intersection of what you are good at, what makes you happy, what the world needs and what you can get paid to do. The answers to all those questions still pointed to Japan for me.

A major turning point in realizing my ikigai came in the form of an email from my former boss in Japan in December 2016. He fired a teacher mid contract and no teachers were available to complete the contract once it resumed in January 2017.  He knew of my health condition (and this was before my diagnosis) and wanted to know would I consider returning to Japan to finish this contract because it was with a previous client that I had 5 years teaching experience.  I was honored and excited that I was still his clutch player years after leaving the country and being 6,854 miles away!

I often dreamt of returning and always imagined I would be physically stronger but I was still dealing with fatigue issues from walking and used a cane to help with balance and i used wheelchair assistance getting to and from the gates. I quickly realized my hesitation was ego-related and immediately said yes to airfare, hotel for 2 ½ months, daily taxis for commuting and all paid for!

Three weeks later I was at Atlanta Hartsfield scheduled to catch a flight to Tokyo to arrive in Japan Sunday afternoon.  Weather conditions resulted in me missing my connecting flight in Chicago and I had to wait 6 hours to take a 1-hour flight to Indianapolis. After arrival I dozed in and out of sleep in the waiting area for about 5 hours to catch another 2-hour flight to Dallas. Two hours later I was exhausted and second guessing my decisions but en route to Tokyo and I was now arriving in Japan a day late on Monday and my first day of teaching was Tuesday morning.

Thankfully Shohei, my brother from another mother for over 7 years met me at Narita Airport in Tokyo.  He drove me about 3 hours to my hotel in Mishima, Shizuoka and helped me get settled. I treated him to dinner to say thank-you before he had to drive 2 more hours to go home. The next morning was my first day in the classroom and my excitement to be back in Japan under such serendipitous conditions helped me to push through jet lag and give my students the most energetic and engaging lesson of my career!

Fascinating story, Francesca. I understand you've written a book detailing all your experiences. When is it going to be published? Do you have a link so readers can check back?

Get a copy of my memoir Fall Down 7 Times Stand Up 8 in spring 2019 to learn more about my trip’s mini adventures and over a decade’s worth of experiences living my best life in Japan!  Release date and purchase information will be posted on my Facebook page.

About the Author

Francesca Conaté leveraged her love for the Land of the Rising Sun and became a certified Japan travel specialist and independent travel agent. She’s currently writing a memoir of her serendipitous life in Tokyo, is a motivational coach for expat women living in Japan and a personal development keynote speaker.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018


A very nice review for my romantic suspense Whirlwind Romance. 

Here’s a bit:

Emmie Z: “This was an interesting read. It started off as a mystery romance and evolved into a thrilling tale of royal intrigue.”


In the aftermath of a hurricane, Lacey Delahaye finds herself marooned on an island on the Gulf coast of Florida with a mysterious man. They are immediately drawn to each other, but before Armand can confess his identity, they are kidnapped and taken to a tiny island in the western Caribbean. With the help of her son Crispin and a cadre of loyal followers, she and Armand must face down pirates, power-mad ideologues, and palace intrigue, if they are to restore the once idyllic tropical island to its former glory.

Monday, December 3, 2018


Well, lookee here—two wonderful reviews on Netgalley for the Penhallow Train Incident. 

Here’s a sampling:

Stephanie N: “So there’s banter and attraction alongside the delvings into dark doings with a link with the distant past. We encounter a wide cast of intriguing characters, all rounded and convincing. The story is very clever and the writing is lively. You’re kept guessing all the way through. I’m looking forward to reading more books by this excellent author.”

Christy W.: “Great plot that keeps you interested and well developed characters."

In the sleepy Maine town of Penhallow, a stranger dies on a train, setting off a chain of events that draws Rachel Tinker, director of the historical society, and Griffin Tate,  retired professor, into a spider’s web of archaeological obsession and greed. Before Rachel can unlock the soft heart that beats under Griffin’s hard crust, they must find the map to the Queen of Sheba’s tomb, and solve not one, but three murders.

You can see the full reviews here:

Buy Link Wild Rose Press

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Wonderful Reviews of the Pit and the Passion--WOW!

Silly me, I never checked to see if The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel, was reviewed on Netgalley. Imagine my excitement to find three wonderful reviews!

Here’s a sampling:

YCC: “Captivating, suspenseful, entertaining novel! This thriller kept me on the edge of my seat while I was reading it!”

Catlin P: “This quirky mystery combines comedy, romance and intrigue in an interesting fashion.”

Cindy M: “Interesting, creative plot and well-written dialog.  Several twists you won't see coming, and plenty of tension; I read late into the night and just couldn't seem to shut the Kindle off and get some sleep.  Recommended!”

At midnight, in the darkness of a deserted hotel, comes a scream and a splash. Eighty-five years later, workmen uncover a skeleton in an old elevator shaft. Who is it, and how did it get there? To find out, Charity Snow, ace reporter for the Longboat Key Planet, teams up with Rancor Bass, best-selling author. A college ring they find at the dig site may prove to be their best clue.

Although his arrogance nearly exceeds his talent, Charity soon discovers a warm heart beating under Rancor’s handsome exterior. While dealing with a drop-dead gorgeous editor who may or may not be a villain, a publisher with a dark secret, and an irascible forensic specialist, Charity and Rancor unearth an unexpected link to the most famous circus family in the world.

Here’s the netgalley link: