The 1931 Ypsilanti Torch Murders

One of my favorite ways to unwind is reading old newspapers. Yes, I know it is odd, but I’ve always loved history and newspapers. Pouring myself an ice-cold glass of something yummy and pulling up is enormous fun for me! So, I’ve been thinking about all the unbelievable stories I read in newspapers. I should share the weirdness with others, right? And I enjoy telling stories, so I’ve decided to share some of those true stories on my YouTube channel. The first tale is below, but before you watch it, here’s a little background.

I lived in Ypsilanti, Michigan for nine years before buying a one-way train ticket to Salt Lake City, Utah. The graduate school I attended was in Ypsilanti, and I kind of fell in love with the little college town. I rarely drove anywhere, and I was always strolling around town in the dark of night. The place was a little spooky at times because where I lived was surrounded by thickets of trees and farms. There weren’t many street lights, but I’d grown up in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, and bit of hubris caused me to underestimate the college town. Later on, I would learn that I was living just a few yards from the place where the town’s most notorious murder had happened. Later on, I’d discover that a few other horrific murders had taken place about a quarter of a mile in the other direction. A few years after I moved away from Ypsilanti, another murder took place in the apartment complex next to the one I used to live in. This is also an area that reportedly has had a few sightings of Sasquatch… And yes, a friend and I did once go “squatching” when I lived in Ypsilanti.

It was in that apartment, tucked along the side of Leforge Road that I started to write mysteries. Initially, I wrote stories about a private investigator named Chelsea. In time, Chelsea morphed into Sylvia Wilcox and Who She Was came into focus. At first glance, none of that might seem connected, but whenever I start a new story about Sylvia, I close my eyes and headed back to that apartment where it all started.

Here’s the video:

Deviance: Coming Soon!

Several months ago I tossed out about 30,000 words I’d written and started over on the seventh book of the Sylvia Wilcox mystery series. While this was not ideal, as I finish up the book, I am so glad I took that plunge. The result is a much better book. The story wanted to take me somewhere I didn’t know it wanted to go.

Deviance take us to New Orleans where Sylvia finds herself in the middle of a shocking situation. The book takes place after the devastating news Sylvia received in Awakening. Now she’s redefining her life and struggling to figure out where she belongs. In the middle of her personal crisis, Sylvia must set her own troubles aside and solve a baffling murder. As Sylvia digs into the underbelly of the city, a mysterious man who knows things he shouldn’t stands in the way of the case. As the clock ticks and Madalyn’s life hangs in the balance, Sylvia must rub shoulders with sinister figures, putting her own life in danger.

The prologue of Deviance will be sent to the Readers’ Club this Saturday. If you are not part of the Readers’ Club, what are you waiting for?! It’s completely free and you will receive prequel stories, coupons for my Shopify store(coming soon), and you’ll get all the news about my books first. Click the link below to sign up!

Readers’ Club

I also have included a true crime story from Ypsilanti in the Readers’ Club newsletter. The investigation is very… interesting and the crime took place a few steps from where I lived for three years. Granted, the crime happened in 1931, that stretch of road is notorious because several other major crimes took place in the same vicinity.

Deviance has taken longer than I originally planned, but the extended deadline was necessary. The book will release on my Shopify store at a discount before it is available everywhere else. I plan to release it around the end of the September, which is fitting because it definitely has some spooky elements, and it will be just in time for Halloween. Stay tuned to the Readers’ Club newsletter for more samples from the story!

Writing Update

Dear Readers,

My muse fell off the wagon in December and didn’t come back until the Summer Solstice. Call me crazy or weird, but I swear my writing mojo falls off between the Winter and Summer Solstice. Is that strange or what? Anyway, I published The Road to Nowhere back in February and have been working on Awakening, but I did delay the publication date because I feel like the book needs more time. I can whip out a story every for months, but it won’t be the best it could be. So, like a fickle, unpredictable creative, I have postponed the book. I honestly couldn’t help it, but I apologize for the inconvenience.


Okay, things are actually picking up in this department. I am working on a few things right now, with Awakening in the forefront, Deviance in the background and Confessions, the seventh book in the series, percolating in my brain. The serial story is running rather late in going out this month because I wanted to put as much energy as possible into Awakening. I changed the publication date for Awakening to August 28th. The rest of the serial story is coming soon!


I’ve received a lot of emails over the past few months. Unfortunately, many of them went into my spam folder. If you sent me an email and I did not respond, I am VERY sorry! Why does this happen?! I don’t know, but I’ve got an idea. Instead of digging out a bunch of email from the spam box and answering them all, I’m going to start posting on YouTube and maybe (gasp!) I might do a few live sessions. My introvert soul doesn’t like that kind of talk, but I always love interacting with people once I convince myself to reach out and be vulnerable. So, stay tuned for that!






Writing Update: 2020 Is Almost Over!!

This is has been quite a year and as we near its end, I can’t help but look back at all that has occurred over the past eleven months. Part of me feels like this year has been one or two very long months because I’ve spent the bulk of my time at home. One of the best things to come out of 2020 is that I’ve gotten back to counting my blessings. I wake up in the morning and think about all the good things in my life. At the core, I have all I need and there is no lack.

December is upon us, and I’m wrapping up the very last book of 2020! I’m very excited to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I spent the first seven months of the year distracted and a bit down about the way things seemed to be unfolding in the world, but in late July, I perked up and got moving. So glad I snapped out of the doldrums!

2021 And A Question…

2021 will bring the resolution of one ongoing mystery and more travels for Sylvia and Martin. I have four books in the Sylvia Wilcox series planned for 2021. You can expect a new mystery in February, May, August, and October. We will see Sylvia come to more realizations about herself and the world.

The third book of the Sylvia Wilcox series, Fracture, is NOT about a murder. This has led to some readers disliking the book because they want to read about a murder. Sylvia Wilcox is a private detective. While P.I.’s take on murder cases at times, they often work non-violent cases because private detectives are private citizens-not police officers. Sure, they will pick up cold case murders, but it is perfectly reasonable to think that a private detective will take on a missing person case.

So, here’s the question I’ve been pondering this week. Is murder a requirement of a mystery book for some readers? Is it okay to write about a missing person case, or financial crimes in a mystery? I think so, but I could be alone in that thought. I recently read an article, “Why The Serial Killer Novel Is The New Feminist Fiction,” and the author presented and interesting idea. She discusses how she enjoys watching the show Snapped, and asks what if a woman kills a man and she doesn’t feel bad about it? My response is that if any person kills another human and doesn’t feel bad about it, I’m not able to frame that as a victory just because the killer is a woman. I’m not on board with thinking that murder is a feminist act in and of itself. I tend to shy away from gruesome crime fiction because I don’t have the ability to completely disconnect from the extreme act of taking a life, even in a fictional context.

I’m not sure if most people think a murder must be included in a mystery, but Sylvia Wilcox will be investigating murders and other situations that may, or may not be crimes. Sylvia will have murders to solve, but there will be deeper, more complex mysteries to examine as well. The mysteries of the heart and human behavior are the things that keep us up at night. Surely, those things deserve investigating as well.

What do you think? Can a mystery series examine more than murder?

Road to Nowhere

Road to Nowhere will be off to the editor in early January. Newsletter subscribers will receive the prologue in January, and the ebook preorder is already available. If all goes well, there will be a preorder for paperback copies in mid-January. I plan to take a few days off after I finish my literary fiction novel, but I’ll be back at it soon after the New Year. Road to Nowhere will be released February 19, 2021 and a description of the book is included below. !

Road to Nowhere

A young man disappears during an impromptu cross-country road trip. Initially, it appears that Anson didn’t have a destination or a reason to drive from Michigan to California, but when Sylvia Wilcox starts to examine the mystery, she finds that Anson had a reason to be driving the backroads and interstates of America. 

Preorder Now!


Photo by Laura Kapfer on Unsplash

Writing Update

I’m not sure why I scheduled so many projects for the end of the year…Oh yeah, that’s right. I didn’t. Instead, I decided to make this mad dash toward 2021 by publishing three books between now and December 31st. My fingers are moving as fast as they can across thee keyboard, and I’m sure that I will make my deadlines. The first one is tomorrow. I need to finish up Frozen Cowboy, the first book in my sweet romance series by midnight October 31st. After that, it’s on to writing at least 50,000 words of Road to Nowhere.

National Novel Writing Month begins Sunday. I am super excited to get going!

With the deadlines looming in the near distance, I’m going to make this short. Here is the cover for Frozen Cowboy. I’m running a pre-order sale so get your copy now!




I've been featured on eBookDaily


Writing Update

Autumn was here, but the past few days things have warmed up. We are working hard to wind down the garden before the secondary water is cut off for the winter. There are SO many green tomatoes! I froze a few, made a green tomato pie, and a number of other green things. It’s all great, but I’ll be happy when we get a handle on the green tomato bounty.

Taking on three projects at the end of the year wasn’t the best idea, but it is definitely keeping me on my toes. I’m editing my literary fiction novel, Lives Lived , writing a romance, Frozen Cowboy, and waiting on edits for the fourth book in the Sylvia Wilcox series. I’m having a good, but slightly hectic time.

A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas is with the editor. I had a great time writing this book and I think everyone will enjoy it. The wheels of this story started turning while my husband and I were renting a place in Ogden Canyon. We were in the midst of a rather tumultuous remodeling project that ended up included both of our bathrooms. I won’t bore you with the details. Although…I’d doubt you’d be bored with the story, it is far too long to get into over email. Anyhow, we spent a month in the canyon, not far from Powder Mountain Ski Resort. Since it was a change of scenery, I tried to think of it as a vacation. Unfortunately, my fantasy world was frequently interrupted by my job and pressing needs at the house. But, in the end, nothing terrible happened, and I reminded myself that I should be thankful for that fact. That was when the “what-ifs” started. What if something more dramatic happened while you were tucked away in this mountain paradise? That spawned a bunch of other “what-if” questions that ultimately turned into A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas.

A few things…Who She Was, the first book in the series is free. If you haven’t read it yet and you’d like to pick up A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas, you will enjoy it much more if you read the first book. The Sylvia Wilcox series is not episodic. That means, the books don’t standalone very well. So, read Who She Was. It’s rated 4.5 on Amazon, 4.4 on Apple, and 4.2 on Goodreads. Why not dive into a free mystery?

Before you take off to retrieve that free book, here’s the description for A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas:

Sylvia Wilcox closes her private detective agency for the holidays and heads to Utah for a long, relaxing vacation in the Ogden River Valley’s snow-covered mountains. After enjoying a few days on the slopes, her assistant calls and tells her about a mysterious note delivered to the office that accuses Sylvia of fraud. Disturbed and curious about this note, Sylvia finds it hard to concentrate on vacation and ends up chasing down leads that take her on a painful trip down memory lane. Will Sylvia’s determination to always seek the truth backfire? Or will she end up having a surprisingly pleasant holiday season?

What do you think of the description? I’d love to hear your opinion!

Apple: A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas

Amazon: A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas

Kobo: A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas

Barnes & Noble: A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas


A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas: A Mystery With A Twist!

Sylvia Wilcox takes a much-needed vacation for the holidays. While she’s relaxing and enjoy time away from the office, a mysterious note shows up accusing her of fraud. Disturbed by this accusation, Sylvia begins to investigate. Save 50% on this page-turner by preordering now!

The Sylvia Wilcox Mystery Series, Loose Ends, and Crime Solve Rates

*(Posts on this website contain affiliate links. Affiliate links do not cost you anything to use, and I receive a small commission if you use them. This helps pay for the website and editing of the serial story. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

When crimes don’t get solved within a single book, readers often get mad. This is an interesting conundrum that I think comes from watching television. I don’t really watch television, but I am well acquainted with the police procedurals where a crime occurs and is solved within an hour. While this model works well for television, it is quite far from what actually happens in an investigation. While I don’t watch much television, I am a fan of true crime podcasts and vlogs. My favorites are the ones that don’t sensationalize crime, but work to try to help law enforcement and family members get answers. Sometimes cases are showcased that took place ten or twenty years ago. Occasionally, there is a case that happened fifty or more years ago, and descendants are still searching for answers.

The Sylvia Wilcox Mystery series is about a former cop turned private investigator. Private investigators have limited resources when it comes to solving crimes, and they must follow rules to avoid being in a position where they can be sued or fined. That means solving every single case is just unrealistic. This is also true of police forces. According to the FBI stats for homicide solve rates for 2017was 61.4%. This lines up with’s figures for 2019, which show that the rate remained steady at 61.4%. So, if this is the case, close to 40% of homicides are not solved. The crazy thing about that is homicides are solved at a higher rate than other crimes. Likely because police departments want to tackle the worst crimes and get closure for families, but that also means that a lot of other crimes go unsolved. The chart from the FBI website is below:


So, when we take this information into account, it seems that the television shows we watch are making a few adjustments for entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with that method. I love Criminal Minds just as much as the next person, but I also spend far too much time listening to true story to allow the “every case gets solved in an hour” ideology to inform my stories.

Sylvia Wilcox has a few unresolved issues in her past. To be honest, so do I, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say, so do most of us. This is life. Everything is not so cut and dry and easy. There are times when situations become complicated and we find ourselves unable to resolve a serious issue and we have to move on. Later on, we may come back to the situation and bring some closure to what haunts us. Other times, that is not possible. This is the paradigm from which I write and live my life. Realistically, there are some crimes and situations that will not be resolved.

Here are some great true crime podcasts and vlogs that I listen to on a regular basis:


Extensive examination of missing person and cold case murders. He interviews law enforcement and family members to help piece together the mysteries surrounding the cases.

The Vanished

An in-depth look into missing person cases. Marissa does a fantastic job pulling together experts, family members, friends and law enforcement officers to provide and overview of the person who has vanished.

Retired FBI Case Files

Jerri Williams is a retired FBI agent who is trying to get the word out about what the FBI actually does. She interviews other retired agents and provides a wealth of knowledge about what this often misunderstood agency does on a day-to-day basis.

Why True Crime?

I started listening to more true crime shows once I discovered that there were over 40,000 unidentified deceased persons in the United States. The fact of the matter is that we can’t expect law enforcement to take care of everything that happens in society. We must help them as much as we can. That staggering number of unidentified persons left me feeling cold and helpless, but it turns out there are things an average, everyday citizen can do. Here are a few suggestions:

Share true crime links on your social media.

When Amber Alerts pop up, verify that they are still active and spread the word.

Pay attention to your surroundings-If something looks wrong alert authorities.

If you hear a strange story, and a body shows up later, tell the police the story. Maybe it’s true, maybe not, but without a proper investigation, we’ll never know.

I occasionally try to help identify Jane and John Does on the Namus website. This is not a task for the faint of heart, and I only do that once or twice a year-if I get a hunch. So, these are the reasons why I listen to true crime shows, and it’s also why I try to add a small element of reality to my crime fiction.

How Stories Remind Us That We’re All The Same

*(Posts on this website contain affiliate links. Affiliate links do not cost you anything to use, and I receive a small commission if you use them. This helps pay for the website and editing of the serial story. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

One of the major themes in my life has been this constant questioning of whether I want to do something out of desire, or because others’ expectations. Identity-who we are and why we become the people we ultimate end up being, is a thread throughout most of my stories. In Who She Was, a woman’s secrets cause her murder investigation to go off the rails. In Displacement, Sylvia has to grapple with the idea that being a cop is a noble and just endeavor, while acknowledging that it does not fit her personality. Fracture deals with a woman who becomes completely consumed with faith and allows it to define the person she thinks she has to be. These are stories, but I think all of us have had experience with questioning identity-our own and others.

Someone told me they couldn’t read Who She Was because there is a Muslim character mentioned in the prologue. I didn’t ask questions. We’re free to choose what we read or don’t read, but in my mind I wondered why that mattered. One of the most wonderful things about books is that they show us we are all the same. I remember reading The Diary Of Anne Frank in fifth grade and thinking…We would have been friends. We’re so much alike. After leaving a rather tumultuous relationship and experiencing the growing pains of early adulthood, I read Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True, and I felt comforted and assured that this-the family strife, the inability to find my place, and the sadness, were all par for the course. Much like Dominick Birdsey, I healed, moved forward, and found happiness. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison helped me recognize why certain things were and weren’t happening in my life. I took that information and pondered it, searching for a way to reconcile the lack. After a friendship dissolved, I found solace and advice in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. It reminded me that amends could be made and eventually; I was reunited with the friend I thought I’d lost forever. This is why I love stories and why I write. The world is much smaller than we think it is, and we are more alike than different.

Some characters in Fracture are from various threads of the Latter-day Saint faith. To me, Latter-day Saints are just people. So much so, that I married one. I don’t see whole groups of people as foreign entities that are so obscure that I can’t make a connection. I think stories are a great way to build bridges. You learn that labels and categories don’t change the DNA or species of a person. It becomes clear in stories that we have the same desires, wants and needs, and we make the same mistakes. Having characters from a particular faith, doesn’t necessarily make the story “a book about Latter-day Saints.” Just as a book written by an African-American writer doesn’t make the book a-and I heard this all throughout high school, “a black book.” I don’t pigeon-hold books because of a character’s race, religion, sexual preference, gender, or any other category we think they belong in. Instead, I always try to read books with an open mind. Fiction is a great way to be introduced to people who are different from you. Yes, it’s a fictional story, but it can open a door to real dialogue and education.

One reason I regret going to graduate school is because there was this push for books to be categorized based on the author’s background. For example, if an author was from a First Nations, they would be expected to write about colonialism or life on reservations. If the writer was African-American, their work would need to focus on racism or slavery. This is a terrible way to look at stories, and at the end of my program of study, I was thoroughly against this idea. The professor I worked with for my final project kept trying to steer me into what I saw as a corner. There was a point where I didn’t think I’d get my degree, which has, so far, has not been useful. The professor and I battled it out over cups of tea in a little cafe in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She was convinced that literature was more of a socio-cultural structure instead of a place where the universalities of humanity blended. I was all for the universality of literature and I continued to force the issue. It turns out that no one wants to fail a student who has completed all coursework in a timely and efficient manner, and paid tens of thousands of dollar in tuition, so I was awarded the degree. Ironically, I didn’t pick it up for two years. The campus was less than five minutes from my apartment, but I felt like that piece of paper stood for everything I was against. So, two years later, I went and got the darn thing and shoved it in a closet.

I write to tell stories, and I think stories are the salve we need to bring us all together. Once you’ve heard a story from a person you think is so different from you, they become recognizable behind all the label and categories you thought made them different. Don’t get caught in the idea that there is one story for many people.