Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review: Sovereign by ER Arroyo

In this first book of the Antius Ascending series, Cori is a fish out of water in post-apocalyptic America. She's an orphan who was brought to the colony of Antius at age seven. No matter how she tries over the next ten years, she doesn't fit in. All she can think about is escaping. But the security to keep the wild things out, keeps her prisoner. So she plans and plots and sneaks out at night with various escape plans, but as bad as it seems, it gets worse when the colony leader dies and his cruel son Nathan takes over.

The conflict between Cori and Nathan is balanced by her friendship with another young adult, Dylan, who is determined to help her escape. Except when Nathan takes over, the rules change. Cori is immediately enrolled in Nathan's militia training, a brutal training camp that's designed to break her. However, as time passes and she out performs her "class" of six, she gets assigned to the trade security line of work. The more she learns about the different layers of society, the more she realizes her chances of escaping are close to zero.

Cori must keep her wits about her to survive in this dystopian world. She's seen firsthand that the smallest of sleights to their Sovereign Nathan is a death sentence.  Can she beat this terrible man and save herself?

I admired Cori's character arc, and her unswerving focus. She's gutsy and brave, physically tough and yet emotionally vulnerable, compassionate and resolute - all of this at 17!

ER Arroyo is a fine writer, and this is a story I will read again, which is a high compliment in my world.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Witch Risen by Jill Nojack

Book Two of the Bad Tom Series starts out in Tom's POV. Tom is a shapeshifter cat who's used up seven of his nine lives. As the book opens, he's racing across town in his cat persona, but he's too late. His girlfriend has been taken over by a witch from the grave.

Tom is desperate to get Cassie back, but the coven moves at glacial speed. His sense of urgency pushes him to take all kinds of risks, but it will all be worth it if he can save Cassie.

This was a quick, fun read. I picked it up because I read the first book in the series, which was a Kindle Scout winner. Nojack writes fluidly, and the pages fly by at a pleasing rate. If you're like me, you'll be so engrossed you won't want to “shift” out of your chair!

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Book Review: The Unseen by Jake Lingwall

Intrepid hacker Kari Tahe makes a break from prison using her special skills. Alas, something goes terribly wrong. On the verge of capture, she’s rescued and delivered to a secret hacker hideaway run by a guy named Oedipus. The plush retreat is nothing short of fabulous, and like-minded people are always inviting Kari to join their hacking games.

But she misses her friends David and Audrey. She wishes the war would end so life would get back to normal. While Kari admires the Eden-like sanctuary and the talent around her, she’s getting mixed signals from people, especially Oedipus. She’s idolized his feats for years, so her hero worship of him blinds her to his nature.

As the war escalates, a fellow hacker warns her to trust no one. Already on edge, Kari decides to stop taking things on face value, and trouble like she’s never seen before rains down on her. Can she survive in this strange new world?

Another winning Kindle Scout book. I loved Freelancer, the first book of this dystopian series, and The Unseen met my high expectations and more. Author Jake Lingwall wove a powerful tale of intrigue and high tech wizardry that had me reading at darn near warp speeds. Nicely done!

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

When hotel exec Madeline Chase gets a distressed phone call from the caretaker of the only decommissioned hotel in her family’s chain of boutique B&Bs, she screws up her courage and returns to the scene of her worst nightmare. After the caretaker suffers a dire fate on Cooper Island, Madeline calls the cops and her security team for good measure.

Jack Rayner rushes to Madeline’s side and together they try to solve the caretaker’s murder. Except the more they look into it, the more the answers seem rooted in the past, and tied to a powerful West Coast family.

Soon Madeline has no choice but to call her secret sister, but doing so escalates the danger. With a madman in the neighborhood and a killer on the loose in this island community, the question is will finding the truth, and all of the truth, cost Madeline and Jack their lives?

I truly enjoyed the twists and turns in this novel. It reminded me of Jayne’s novels prior to the Arcane story threads in most of her more recent work. I adore paranormal, but normal can be Out of this World too. Whatever she writes, it’s always a hit with me.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Book Review: Grave of Hummingbirds by Jennifer Skutelsky

In the Andean mountains, preparations are underway for Independence Day in tiny Colibri. Dr. Gregory Moreno, still mourning his late wife, dreads the holiday without his Nita. A young man finds an angel in the mountains – a dead woman – with wings sewn to her newly inked skin.

The authorities are taken with the woman's resemblance to the late Nita. Superstition, rumor, and suspicion swirl around this murder. Then, another woman is abducted, and this woman also resembles the doctor’s departed wife.

With the mayor prepping for the festival, the job of sleuthing falls to the doctor, though he is reluctant to accept the call to action.

This is a story to savor. So much of what goes on in small towns is captured here in loving yet suspenseful detail. There are several enduring themes here and I especially like the condors circling in the sky, reminding me of the endlessly spinning wheels in small communities.

Love and betrayal are served up on a hefty slice of karma. This story will stay with you long after you stop turning the pages.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Finding Charlie by Katie O'Rourke

In a family where the mom walked out when the kids were small, older sister Olivia became mother and sister to Charlie.

One day Charlie turns up missing. No one can reach her – not her father, not her sister, not her bestie. Worse, no one knows why she left without her car or cell phone.

The cops are no help, so Olivia starts piecing together Charlie’s last day and eventually learns she left town with a male acquaintance. Olivia traipses after her, eventually finding her in a place she didn’t expect, with a person she never wanted to see again.

Finding Charlie is about the ties that bind -the ties that bind until they chafe and more. Inter-family dynamics are explored as well as themes of independence, forgiveness, accountability, and love.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Review: The Treemakers by Christina Rozelle

In a world gone wrong, children toil long hours in a tree factory. The air’s all messed up, and the mechanical trees they make will restore the atmosphere. The tree factory kids, united in their misery, become a family of sorts, with Joy and Jax as leaders. The few adults in their lives are the strangers running the factory, only the strangers consider their work force disposable.

But the resilient human spirit finds a way to enjoy stolen moments of freedom, even in the throes of exhaustion and starvation. Joy, Jax, and a few of their friends explore some nights, searching for food and clothing and they happen upon something so out of their realm they barely know what to do.

A great dystopian read presenting hope and freedom as two necessarys in life. This is Book One in Rozelle’s Treemakers Trilogy. I’m looking forward to Book Two.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: The Toucan Trilogy by Scott Cramer

The night of the purple moon changed life as we know it. All the adults died overnight from something that rode in on the comet. Abby, Jordan, and Toucan’s parents died, same as the rest.

Kids on their island banded together to survive. The disease vector hit each child as they passed into adolescence, killing them as well. Just when things were starting to work under kid rule, the illness that killed the adults mutated and young children became ill.

With each turn of the screw, Abby struggles to hold her family together and survive. An intriguing take on what might be. Be forewarned. This story will stick with you long after it's done!

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Kira by SG Rogers

Nomad warrior Princess Kira Szul is sent to visit cousins when her beauty interferes with her sister’s quest for a husband. On the way, Kira and her guard learn of an army of cyclops wandering in Nomad territory. They decide to confirm the news before reporting it to her father.

A chance meeting with Warlord Mandral brings trouble to Kira’s heart. The man drugs her with a love potion. Her future seems dire, but she won’t give up without a fight.

This fantasy novella is a fun romp in a world where warrior princesses exist and make a difference.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dystopian Fans Speak Out!

by Maggie Toussaint
w/a Rigel Carson

Some excellent dystopian reads!
Dystopian books take us to different worlds where people behave badly under pressure. The stuff they need is unavailable or costs too much. Disasters hit in waves. People needlessly die, while others are on huge power trips. Hope seems a faint glimmer, but somehow people keep putting one foot in front of the other, proving the resilience of the human spirit.

Wait a minute. That sounds like today. Dystopia is supposed to be fictional. According to the Oxford Dictionary, dystopia is: "an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one."

I read and write dystopian fiction, but I struggled to articulate what draws me to these books. I love a good story, and when I get drawn into a story world, I don’t want to leave. I love books where the underdog beats the odds and emerges victorious. And I always like books where the good guy wins.

Even so, my rationale seemed thin, so I asked the good folks over at Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans why they read dystopian fiction. Here’s what 21 readers of dystopian fiction had to say.

#1. I'm fascinated with the idea of society hitting "rock bottom" and starting over again with a level playing field, kind of. In this type of disaster, "ordinary" people can become heroes, and you get to see the true colors of the people you thought you knew. Disaster, loss, upheaval: these things push you to the edge, and that's when you get to find out if you'll fall or fly.
#2. It no longer matters that you were thousands in debt, or never got that sports car you wanted, or never got to fly to Fiji or lose 50 pounds. You see what's truly important in life without all the bells and whistles and "wants" clogging your mind space. What's important? Love, friendship, family, strength, partnerships, community. . . And when you don't know if you'll be alive the next day, you take none of these things for granted. -- CR

I'm an introvert as well & I like reading about the will to survive and the struggles to do so without losing your humanity. -- KR

I agree with CR 100%. I also think it’s one of the best genres for showcasing an author's imagination and creativity. -- MP

I like that once it's all gone, we are all left to the basics and it doesn't matter what you did, it matters what you do next. It's easy to see that in a catastrophic situation, but reading it somehow gives me the courage to try it now. So what if I'm shy and lazy, I am going to go do something and talk to people, after I finish this last chapter, of course!! If we all acted the way some of the characters do about freedoms and insecurities the world would be a better place for everyone!! -- KSC

What CR said and because it strips people to who they really are in crisis. Good or bad. Strong or weak. Hopeful or taking the easy way out. It makes me think about who I would be in a world without rules and all about survival. -- BB

I'm getting a sense of empowerment and of a fresh start/equality from the responses. I agree with those. I really like the idea that an everyman (or everywoman!) can triumph and rise above humble beginnings. Reading dystopian fiction empowers our personal wish fulfillment in a role model sort of way. -- MT

It is a level playing field that we don't have now. Everyone's goal is survival. Whether that means by hurting others or working with others it's still the same goal. -- BB

I'm not an introvert by any means. I'm not necessarily proud of that fact. But, that's me. I love Dystopian stories because they remind me of what could happen if we're not careful. They make me open my eyes, and look where we're going. In my writing, my worlds are not post-apocalypse, or post-any disaster. They are just a representation of what could happen organically if we keep going. And, because I don't take it from an aftermath standpoint, I think it is even more scary because my people don't know what hit them. -- TH

Dystopian novels usually have the quality I like in other genres. There is usually suspense, mystery, conflict and twists and turns. Also it's that what if question. I could get really analytical and say it has to do with the meaning of life etc. They usually pose questions. If I go back to Anthem there is the recurring question we see in a lot of books: the I vs the we. --KSH

I enjoy Dystopian fiction as well. For me, it has to do with exploring great loss and finding characters who grow and blossom in the harshest of conditions. I think it's because we are always looking for the light at the end of the tunnel even in the darkest of times. -- CAH

I think it is because we are trying to figure stuff out. So it is a learning process. We aren't experiencing those worlds in many ways in our daily life, but what if we were suddenly thrust into this? Would having read these stories accustomed us to the thought of living in this scenario? And also I think it is because on some level, we believe that the world we know could become a very real dystopia. -- DAL

I think it's an escape. Our society is really not all that different from a lot of dystopian books I read, I think it's just disguised a little better. -- LHR

I like the idea of starting over. While it seems hopeless and life will never be as it was, you build a new existence from nothing. -- RB

Honestly, it is the perfect escape. Reading or Writing I can escape to world that would truly show who I am. I like the idea of everyone being equal and having to start all over again, with the way the world is now would it be a bad thing! -- IS

It reflects a deep seated belief that we are controlled by evil states (meaning governments) who do not have our best interests at heart. Just like the alien interest in the '50s when we were afraid of communists. -- JH

I wrote an article about why we are so fascinated by dystopian literature and film. Some of the experts believe it is because we LIVE in a dystopian society, and it is how we find control over, and have hope, in our current situation. Love everyone's responses here! -- LLW

I have not figured it out either. I am 53 and just in the last few years discovered this type of book. I used to read Danielle Steel type book lol. -- SA

1. In dystopia there is hope. Oxymoronic? But true.

2. Dystopia is about an individual taking on the system and challenging it and sometimes dying trying to change it. Something I wish I could do in real life - but I can definitely do it through my books.

3. Because dystopia is already around me in many different ways and when I peek into the future I can just see it all accelerating towards a strange THE END which in many ways is already here and then I wonder what's after that? Because that's when the real story begins. --LH

I'm often fascinated though, when I tell people I write dystopian fiction, people assume I write YA. I don't, my protagonist is a female paramedic in her 30s and the content/themes etc. are very adult. There's no way I would give my book to someone under 20 to read. I've often wondered why this is the case, why dystopia is very often relegated to "YA". Is it simply because people aren't writing adult dystopia, or they're not sellable? -- KM

I like the world building, the possibilities (without being pure fantasy), the escapist quality, and the type of atmosphere I get from them (if that makes sense). I wrote an essay on it recently, and one of the features I actually love, is that being in a sort of "end of the world as we know it" situation gives the characters motivation for discovering what truly matters to them. -- EK

A dystopian world can be a great equalizer. You don't care where someone is from or what they look like as long as they can help you stay alive. Survival skills are worth more than all the money the once-wealthy possessed and oh yeah, no more bills to pay. -- TC

I also write and read dystopian. To me, the only difference between dystopian realities and our current reality is that in a dystopian world, the screwed up things that happen and that people do to each other are a lot more blunt and blatant. In our current reality, everything is sandwiched between fluffy deception, i.e., very strict policies on physical abuse, we'll remove the child immediately if we see an unexplained bruise. But you can emotionally twist and torment your children all you want with zero interference. But rape is wrong too. We pick the "big and obvious" battles to crusade against while allowing the less in-your-face injustices which can be just as detrimental run amuck. –KF

If you’d like to know more about this topic, I highly recommend a well-researched dystopian article written by Lindsay Winsemius, "The psychology behind why we love dystopian books."


View all my books at

Maggie Toussaint - mystery and suspense at
Rigel Carson - dystopian fiction at

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Book Review: Rising Mist by Karla Brandenburg

The Keeper of Secrets isn’t a job Max Maitland had on his bucket list. It came to him via heredity, and it’s the saving grace for his sister and her friend who have unusual talents. While the three of them are hunting down a demon that killed at least one person, Max is trying to balance his new social work career and a budding relationship.

The special someone doesn’t want any entanglements. Robin Chandler’s street smart, independent, and still smarting from her ex-fiancĂ©’s betrayal with her ex-best friend. Art is Robin’s salvation and her vocation, and she makes good money at it. Getting tangled up with Max is completely out of the question.

But she does. Get tangled up with him. In Chicago and Sedona, and it gets pretty hot. And there are bad guys and Max’s family pushing them together – and pulling them apart.

This is the third in Brandenburg’s Kundigerin series. The paranormal elements are well-presented and interesting, the romance enjoyable. Max has such a kind heart, always giving of himself, that he won my heart from the get-go.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Weeping Women Springs by Tamara Eaton

When you hide your light under a bushel basket, your light doesn’t shine. That truism has been handed down for untold generations, but the people who live near a secret spring don’t pay it any heed.

The story opens with a fully peopled, quaint small town. WWII arrives, and the men and boys of the town enlist. As tragedy befalls them, the women close ranks to survive. In doing so, their grief pollutes the restorative effect of the magical spring hidden in the town. Some of the women leave town too.

With each loss, the remnants grow more isolated, struggle harder to survive. This book is the story of Liv, Maxine, Ruth, Susie, and Anna. You’ll never think the same way about death again.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Deadly Places by Terry Odell

I was so pleased that Detective Ed Solomon got a story of his own. He’s been in the other Odell stories about Mapleton, Colorado, but finally he’s out from under Sheriff Gordon Hepler’s shadow.

With the sheriff on leave, Acting Chief Ed Solomon is running the show in Mapleton. Though the longer hours and increased responsibilities take their toll, Ed is increasingly drawn to case he’s been working on for a long time, the Deadbeat Dad Case. Another deadbeat dad is found dead nearby, and Ed believes the death is linked a popular social media outlet.

All too soon, the message becomes clear to Ed. If he’s going to catch this wily serial killer, he has to be all in.

Deadly Places is a solid police procedural in novella length written by a skilled author. I very much enjoyed returning to Mapleton. It felt like Old Home Week.

I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review: Tough Choices by Terry Ambrose

A novella with new characters set in Terry Ambrose’s Hawaii is a delightful way to pass an afternoon.

Marty Fitch hits Honolulu hoping to start over after his ex takes him to the cleaners. With his inventions career on hiatus, he launches a new “tell-all” video blog. Only, the Honolulu PD is angry when his live blog feed spoils a drug bust they’re working. Off Marty goes to jail, but his cousin gets him out.

Jail time was just the thing to ignite Marty’s imagination. He found a new story to follow, a new tale to spin for his blog listeners.

Marty is an everyman protagonist. He wants a second chance, and I found myself rooting for him to get it right as his story unfolded.

A fun ride in a great escapist setting will help you get your island time vibe going.

I reviewed a free advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Defects by Sarah Noffke

In the dystopian world of Reverians, the Middlings serve the Dream Travelers. Teenaged Em’s Dream Traveler talent hasn’t manifested as it should. At her father’s urging, she takes injections to augment her special gift. As months go by and she isn’t “cured,” Em feels like a broken, unproductive member of society. The tension and disapproval are even strong within her family.

Life is only tolerable for Em because of her friends.

But things aren’t as they seem for the Reverians. Em takes chances to learn the truth, and as each layer of societal lie is peeled away, terrible truths are revealed about people she’s known, loved, and trusted her entire life.

How far will a society go to rid itself of Defects?

I’m a Sarah Noffke fan. Her YA books grab me and won’t let go. I’ve now read works in her Reverian and Luccidite series and highly recommend them both.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Killer Nashville, shiny and bright

I always have to catch my breath after a conference, and this one is no exception. As a card-carrying introvert, being social for extended lengths of time totally zaps me. It's like I end up drawing energy from the days ahead while I'm there because I want to see and do so much.

From the moment I arrived at Killer Nashville 2015, I felt like I'd come home again. The group at registration are so sweet to let me hang out with them on Friday morning. They do all the hard work of fielding questions and being there for the entire conference. And they're all volunteers!

The hostess with the mostest: Jaden (Beth) Terrell
Conference manager Jaden  (Beth) Terrell has her fingers on the pulse of the conference at all times. Just about anytime on the conference Friday, there's a line of people waiting to talk to her about something important.

View on Amazon
The Killer Nashville Anthology got a lot of buzz at the conference. I am proud to have had a story in the collection. The book hit the Top 100 list on Kindle for Anthologies on the second day of it's release. Proceeds from this book benefit new and/or struggling writers. "High Noon at Dollar Central," the prelude to my ongoing Dreamwalker series, is in Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded. Check out the anthology at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I barely had time to say hello to my pals Paula Benson and Debra Goldstein, but someone did snap a pic or two of us with the anthology. I had some face time with C Hope Clark, another SEMWA board member, which was nice.

This year I found myself on three panels, two for the conference and one for the new BookCon. We had good attendance at all the panels and lots of questions about our topics of mysteries and genres.

Booklover's Bench founder, Terry Odell, posed for a quick pic with me
Thursday evening, Terry Odell and I hit "movie night" at the conference, with a short from John Gilstrap's high school days. The clip was funny, but the best part was running into friends there, both new and old. So nice to see Clay Stafford and Jacquie, Stacy and Ron Allen, and to meet some of the Atlanta SINC crew.

From left, Rae James, Terry Odell, Maggie, and Jenna Bennett
Friday, I was in session 4, "What's Your Genre?" ably moderated by Rae James, with co-panelists Jenna Bennett and Terry Odell.

Deni Dietz of Five Star and Maggie take a selfie
After a SEMWA board meeting at lunch, I filled in the afternoon giving critiques, and then capped off the day with editor Deni Dietz. A good time was had by all!

From left, Diane Kelly, Maggie, Jenna Bennett
Saturday, my first panel was session 35, "Secrets to Successful Series," led by Diane Kelly and with co-panelist Jenna Bennett.

Right after that, I headed over to the BookCon, where Jaden Terrell posed questions to  Jenna Bennett, Phyllis Goebell, and me on the topic of "Cozy Mysteries and Writing Across Genres."

Saturday afternoon I facilitated for Clay Stafford's interview of John Gilstrap.

The Southeast Mystery Writers of America reception preceded the banquet, and we had a great turnout for the SEMWA reception. The banquet was amazing, as always, with great food and live music. Next came speakers and award announcements. This year I was honored to announce the Silver Falchion Award for Best Mystery, which I won last year. And the winner was: Hunting Shadows, Charles Todd.

The conference continued for another day, but I was homeward bound. Lots of hugs and see you next year's came as I was leaving. I totally love coming to this conference and seeing my mystery writing friends.

Oddly, people kept approaching me to meet me, as if I was a big celebrity or something. I didn't know what to make of that and felt like Candid Camera might pop out from behind a column to reveal the prank. Whatever. I can pull off being a celebrity for a few days, if that's what's needed. But man oh man, am I glad to be home and comfy cozy.

View on Amazon
And in a marketing aside, Kindle Press has my mystery set in the future on sale for the entire month of November. If you like my writing but weren't too sure about the whole science fiction thing, I guarantee you, all the bad guys in G-1 are people! Check it out: G-1 on Kindle

Maggie Toussaint
aka Rigel Carson

My Series
Mossy Bog Series (romantic suspense)
Cleopatra Jones series (cozy mystery)
Dreamwalker series (paranormal mystery)
Guardian of Earth series (dystopian thriller)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book Review: Crab Bait by Carrie Enge

Coming from an East coast fishing and crabbing community, I had to know how the same vocation played out on the other side of the U.S. I was pleased to see that crabbers and fishers are somewhat universal in their independent natures and love of their work.

Kindle Scout author Carrie Enge shines a fine light on small towns, on how the populace may seem fickle, on how the cops aren’t always on speaking terms with each other, and on how cases get solved. Her protagonist Dan Fields is far from the "up and coming" list on his force. Rather, he’s in the dog house, and when he gets assigned the case of the dead crabber, he gets way more oversight than he ever wanted.

In a nice twist, Dan, recently widowed, works to save his first serious girlfriend from a life in prison, when all of the town and his bosses think she’s the one who killed her brother the crabber. Though the crabber wasn’t a nice guy, Dan believes in justice for all and puts that need above his future as a law enforcement officer. Because of his passion for the truth, the case gets solved.

Another small town dynamic Enge got right was outsiders coming in and trying to make your place just like the one they left. Us small town folks like the way our towns are. Leave us to heck alone! Enge’s love for her adopted home state shines through her writing, a bright beacon of hope and respect.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hot new anthology: Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded

Something fantastic this way comes.

A new mystery anthology hit the shelves yesterday and this is one you're not going to want to miss. Headliners Jeffrey Deaver and Anne Perry have offerings, as do Robert Dugoni, Jefferson Bass, Clay Stafford, Jaden Terrell, Mary Burton, Jonathan Stone, Paula Gail Benson, Dana Chamblee Carpenter, Stephen James, Donald Bain, Heywood Gould, and Maggie Toussaint. (and I hope I didn't leave anyone out!)

That's right! I was invited to participate in this anthology. My short story, "High Noon at Dollar Central" is the prelude to my popular Dreamwalker Mystery Series featuring amateur sleuth Baxley Powell.

Published titles in my Dreamwalker series include Gone and Done It and Bubba Done It. Doggone It is slated for June 2016, and Dadgummit will hopefully get picked up for 2017. I'm writing book 5 in this series now.

Here's the opener to High Noon at Dollar Central:

Whodunit? The question buzzed around the grocery store like a drunken hornet. I’d heard about last night’s burglary while at the hardware store and at the bank. Locals credited this string of robberies to sea monsters or aliens, neither of which had ever been sighted in Marion, Georgia.
Want more? Of course you do! Click on over to your fav bookstore and grab a copy of this anthology. Don't delay. These puppies are flying off the shelves.

Buy paperback at Amazon
Buy Kindle at Amazon
Buy paperback at B&N
Buy Nook at B&N

And while you're clicking on links, I hope you'll check my website bookshelf for all my titles. I write romantic suspense, cozy mystery, paranormal mystery, and dystopian thrillers. Something for every reading taste!

Happy Reading,

Maggie Toussaint
writing dystopian fiction as Rigel Carson

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Review: Her Billionaire Bodyguard Bridegroom by Lisa Weaver

A chance encounter in Maine between a bodyguard and a skinny-dippying redheaded trespasser leaves Luke Reynolds wanting more. The redhead, Brianna Atwood, desperately needs a vacation and a chance to recover from the news that she’s an heiress.

A few months later Luke is tasked to be Brianna’s bodyguard and to his delight the chemistry between them is as hot as ever. But Luke can’t let down his guard. Last time he did that, his girlfriend died.

Brianna is the daughter of a housemaid and she’s seen the seamier side of life and seen how cruel men can be. Putting her heart on the line is not in her plans.

Threats on Brianna’s life bring them close and force them to rely on each other to outmaneuver her enemy.

A nice addition to Weaver’s Billionaire series. I’m always a sucker for love-at-first-sight stories.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Trumpet Fanfare! New Book from Maggie Toussaint

I have a new book out. This one is in my dystopian thriller series, and it follows my Kindle Scout winning G-1. I'm so happy to have this book available for fans of G-1.

In G-2, first contact is made with an alien race in an Earth 50 years from now. The aliens come in peace and seek to set up trade agreements. Countries round the globe wine and dine the aliens in hopes of finding favor and getting rich.

But my protagonist Dr. Zeke Landry knows a thing or two about aliens, especially this race. They are not to be trusted. He fights back using his trusty android sidekick, who's currently lovesick over being dumped by the hottest female music artist on the planet.

I'm posing an excerpt below, and I hope you'll check out this fantastic story.

ALSO, I WILL BE HAVING 3 FACEBOOK LAUNCH PARTIES. I have collected great prizes of necklaces related to the story, dolphin tattoos, dolphin pens, dolphin key rings, glow in the dark key tags, and more.

This pendant is representative of Zeke's keystone necklace he inherited from his father. This oddly shaped stone is an actual key to his secret hideout (shh, don't tell) under the lighthouse on Tama Island. I have 3 of these to give away, one at each Facebook party.
Mark your calendar so that you can make at least one of these Facebook parties, and if you want to try for a prize you missed, hit all three!

Thursday, Sept. 24 7-8 pm EDT, Book Launch Party
Tuesday, Oct. 6, 3-5 pm EDT, Bookies
Saturday, Oct. 17, 8-10 pm, Band of Dystopian Authors & Fans


Shadows flickered in the darkness, black on black, Zeke’s mental gaze keenly attuned to the dark nuances. Frissons of dread peppered his thoughts, rattling his senses. He floated in the timeless void of space. Cold. Alone. Afraid.

Without warning, a line drive of thought energy socked him. He struggled to hold the link. The vermillion-tinged darkness reminded him of primordial ooze from which there was no escape. Was his planet destined to go the way of the dinosaurs?

Several voices spoke in uneasy unison, adding to Zeke’s disembodied sense. We have not been successful in dealing with Maleem. They take. They do not negotiate. They do not compromise.

His spirits plummeted. There had to be a way. He couldn’t give up on his planet without a fight. Someone, somewhere must have beaten the Maleem before. Earth needed to build on that success. He fired a query across the vacuum of space. Wait! What about those few stragglers on Drigil Eight? How did they survive?

BUY G-2 on Kindle

Maggie Toussaint
writing science fiction as Rigel Carson
visit my alter identity at

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Book Review: Becoming Moon by Craig Hart

((Spoiler alert)) A young man who makes questionable choices becomes an imposter. In the heat of the moment he steals another author’s work. He rationalizes his actions, saying he deserved the success, but the move cost him friendships, his social life, and a chunk of his mental health. Years later, paranoid and compulsive, he has another opportunity to become "Someone," but he bolts at the first sign of trouble. In a diabolical plot twist, this character naturally flows into a second imposter role by legally assuming the rights to another’s name.

Kindle Scout winning Craig Hart’s book is deep, reminding us that we are a product of our choices. From the start, this protagonist bucked the system, choosing to go against tradition and his family’s wishes. Hart cleverly doesn’t name his protagonist, using him as an every man, a masthead for the universal screw-up inside each of us.

Coming from a fundamental Christian background, the main character has qualms about his actions, qualms that result in hallucinations and loathing of his father. The message of the book is: people lie, cheat, and steal. Some get away with it. Or do they?

Another reviewer mentioned this book as a modern classic. I second that endorsement. Hart draws you in with simple prose and a man-child driven by the need to succeed. In today’s world of "what’s in it for me?" it’s easy to see how this situation could transpire, even easier to see how morals and ethics are becoming less the fabric of our society and more like the out of date clothing shoved to the back of our closets. I predict you won’t quickly forget this excellent book.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J Cohen

Hair stylist and amateur sleuth Marla Vail and her detective husband, Dalton, travel to a dude ranch out West for their delayed honeymoon at the invitation of Dalton’s cousins. Despite the starkly beautiful scenery and their warm welcome, something is amiss.

Troubles escalate at the dude ranch and at a neighboring cattle ranch, igniting a long-simmering feud. Tempers run hot, and there’s plenty of blame to go around. Plus, there’s something odd about the mountainside water bottling plant with armed guards.

A forest ranger is found dead, and a missing worker at a nearby ghost town also adds to the unease at the ranches and in town. Marla and Dalton are drawn into the investigation, and trouble soon finds them. The dangerous attacks make this personal. Who is behind these incidents and possible murders?

I enjoyed another delightful visit with Marla and Dalton, and after such a long and successful series, they feel like old friends. Additionally, the western setting brought back pleasant memories of a family trip years ago. Another winner from talented author Nancy J. Cohen. Saddle up and come along for a great read!

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review: Goddess Rising by Alexi Lawless

Texas A&M students Wes and Samantha couldn’t be more different. He’s a poor kid from nowhere working two jobs to stay in school and study photography. She’s a rich kid with Daddy issues determined to prove herself by besting all the guys in ROTC.

The chemistry between Wes and Samantha is immediate and more than a little terrifying. Wes is a player and can have any woman he wants. Sam’s grown up around ranch hands and roughnecks and doesn’t make a habit of dating.

With their past, present, and future stacked against them, this modern-day Romeo and Juliet must risk everything for love—or lose it all.

This compelling romance with vulnerable characters is a prequel to Kindle Scout winner Alexi Lawless’ Complicated Creatures Series.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Melophobia by James Morris

Imagine a world with no music. Really, try a little harder. Hear that silence? No romantic wedding music. No tender lullabies. No songs of heartbreak and cheating. No energizing rock ’n roll. In this fictional dystopian world, what passes for music is more watered down than Muzak.

Now imagine a young woman at a crossroads. Merrin works at Patrol, the organization dedicated to stamping out the last remnant of people who listen to real, albeit illegal, music. Merrin has made a name for herself in her field, but the more undercover work she does, the more questions she has.

If you can imagine all that, you’ll have the opening for Kindle Scout winner James Morris’ Melophobia. This book struck all the right notes with me. It provoked a visceral reaction and made me appreciate music even more. While this is one dystopian world I hope never comes to fruition, my eyes were opened to how integral music is to the fabric of our lives.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Awoken by Sarah Noffke

Roya is a dream traveler, an odd duck in a family full of swans. Lately her dreams have been violent and scary, with the edgy feeling that someone is watching her. Neighbors Bob and Steve tell Roya of someone who can help, a Lucidite named Shuman.

According to Shuman, Roya is on the Challenger list. She’s the one who can save all dreamers, but to get Shuman’s help, she has to travel to the Institute. Trouble is to get there she must nearly drown herself. Worse, the challenge against Zhuang is rapidly approaching so there’s no time to dither.

Roya arrives and finds she’s one of many challengers. To become The Challenger, she must outscore her peers. A loner, Roya feels even more out of place, but despite her efforts to keep to herself, she makes a few friends and allies. As she learns the depths of dream traveling and her opponent, she discovers Zhuang has stacked the odds in his favor. Roya doesn’t know who to trust and who is the enemy.

Thought provoking and entertaining, Awoken was a universal study of good versus evil with a coming of age perspective. I enjoyed seeing Roya awaken and realize her full potential.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review: The Familiar by Jill Nojack

Jill Nojack’s paranormal romantic comedy went down as easy as my favorite dessert. I needed to know what happened next but I was sure sorry to see it end. Tom’s sad plight and Cassie’s discovery of her true heritage made for a page turning read.

Tom, a man enslaved as a powerful witch’s cat, yearns for his freedom. As the decades pass, he realizes his captor will never let him go. Hope is strong medicine though, and he won’t give up, using up many of his nine lives along the way.

When the witch dies, her granddaughter, Cassie, inherits the entire estate, including the magic shop. Unaware of her grandmother’s hidden talents, Cassie learns there’s a whole lot more to her relative than she ever knew.

Tom and Cassie inherit each other, two lonely souls in search of love and compassion. Delightful confusion ensues as Tom tries to leave messages for Cassie containing his release words. Unless he is allowed to transform back into a man soon, he will forever be Cat. Cassie, it seems, has inherited much more than her grandmother’s possessions.

I enjoyed the miscues between this pair. Nojack expertly wove the paranormal and humor threads, darkening with a mystery subplot and sexual tension. If stories about witches are your thing, you won’t want to miss this charmer.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Review: Freelancer by Jake Lingwall

Kari is way smarter than your average bear. At seventeen, she hides her brilliance at school by day and freelances on the net at night. Her products? Anything she can imagine, write the code for, and create on her three-D printers.

Her parents don’t have any idea what she can do or what she can create. Kari hides her talents away in this dystopian mechanized world where only three types of jobs exist and her skill set is out of the box.

Meanwhile, the US is poised for another Civil War. A clever government plot draws Kari out of hiding, paints her as a heinous threat to society. They’ll let her family and her friend David’s family go if she cooperates and creates powerful weapons for them.

Little do they know, putting Kari in a tight jam is just the way to stoke her creative engine. With a little luck, she might just save the world and have a date for the dance.

Lingwall’s page turning dystopian YA novel kept me on the edge of my seat. The high octane blend of Kari’s vulnerabilities, poise, and talents stole the show.

Another winner from Kindle Scout.

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Four by RE Carr

Like a little vampire action in your novel explorations?

RE Carr’s paranormal story centers on a vampire’s assistant named Georgia, who is recruiting her replacement. Gail, the hapless whale, is reeled into the vampire’s world, anecdote by anecdote, with great finesse.

At times campy and irreverent, at time gross with animal smoothies, and at times sensual with intimate scenes, Four is a tap dance of two vamps and two humans trying to meet their personal needs.

The story poses a story question much like the chicken and the egg. Which came first? Vamps or humans?

Rich in texture and characterization, Four was a different kind of read for me. My best description of the story? Sookie Stackhouse meets Stephanie Plum.

Another fine read from Kindle Press.

Maggie Toussaint aka Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Indiscretion by Polly Iyer


A woman at a crossroads in life is beguiled by a charming stranger, but the stranger is killed not long after their torrid affair begins. The cops come and so do the feds. The thief was not who Zoe Swan thought he was, he’s thought to have the loot from the Gardner art heist.

 Separated but not divorced, Zoe calls her estranged husband who comes down to the beach to set matters straight. But things don’t go straight, they go horribly wrong. One fed shoots another before their very eyes. Zoe’s husband manages to extricate them from the dangerous situation, but they are wanted for the murder of the fed.

With nowhere to turn, they call the black sheep of the family, Paul Swan. Having lived a double life, Paul has the underground connections they don’t, connections that could either clear them or seal their fate as stone cold killers.

Iyer’s latest mystery/suspense novel is a pure delight to read. The characters and the settings felt so real, it was as if I was there. I rooted for Zoe to triumph throughout the story, and the resolution was satisfying. I’m a big fan, and I can’t wait for Iyer’s next book to come out.

Another fine book from Kindle Scout! WTG!

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: Valens the Fletcher and His Captive by Lindsay Townsend

Another fine medieval novella from talented author Lindsay Townsend.

While on a spying mission for Lord Sebastian, Valens the fletcher (arrow maker) has his eye on a wet nurse for his ailing niece. Before the band of thieves is set upon by the Lord’s men, Valens whisks Katherine and her infant son away from the group.

Katherine isn’t happy about being a captive, but her life with the women thieves was miserable. She was tired and hungry and dead broke. Valens promises to keep her and her son safe, along with providing room and board, as long as she’ll take his niece to breast. Lord Sebastian okays the agreement with the condition that they marry. How can Katherine trust Valens, the man who made her a captive? She doesn’t want marriage to another man with secrets.

When they don’t show up in due time for their nuptials, Sebastian sets a four day time limit, and orders Valens to woo her. They will marry in four days, regardless. Just as the bridge of trust seems to be repaired, Katherine learns of a new deceit. Only love can make this right.

A gripping tale, rich in scenery and characters. I love this series!

Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Book Review: Compromised by Lawrence Keltner

Second generation cop Detective Stephanie Chalice awakens in the hospital with no memory of how she got there. Even though she sustained a gunshot to the head, she’s determined to find out who killed her partner Yana during the same incident. Trouble is this puts her at odds with Gus, her detective husband, and her Italian mom.

Officially sidelined from work for R&R, Stephanie soon busts free of the prison of her home, contacts Yana’s brother, and goes off the grid in NYC for a few days. Retracing her steps that last day doesn’t bring her memory back.

The question that stumps her is why. Why would someone kill Yana and injure her? It takes some digging, but Stephanie makes more progress in a few days than the department has in a month. Soon, puzzle pieces start fitting together, and the body count rises.

This is the first Stephanie Chalice mystery I’ve read. Even though its several books into the series, I enjoyed reading it as if it were the first. This Kindle Scout winner captivated me from page one. Author Lawrence Keltner writes with a deft hand, cleverly drawing out the story so that it had to be read in one sitting. I’d read the next Stephanie Chalice mystery in a heartbeat.

 Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Marketing 101 for Authors

Marketing means different things to different people. With my product, books, the challenge is to get the information to the people that will appreciate it and act on it. I've made a list of some marketing techniques used by myself and other authors. Please feel free to add other methods in your comments and to say what worked for you and what didn't.

If you are brand new to writing, don't get overwhelmed. Begin marketing by being consistent in one style or venue and then expand your efforts through time.

Start with a website. If you don't have the wherewithal to do it yourself, hire someone. Ask around your fellow authors for recommendations. If you have a website you can't manage, you can hire someone to transition it to a more idiot-friendly platform. I did this recently, and it eliminated a lot of the frustration I felt in the delays to content updates by my former web person.

Blogs have been popular for a while. You can set up a blog through your Blogger or Word Press, though many people have their blogs at their websites because that provides fresh content routinely. Large group blogs, particularly ones that are anchored by top selling writers, are successful at attracting a consistent readership. If you aren’t in one of those, consider searching for groups like that and asking to guest blog. Alternatively, be aggressive and create such a blog. If you are consistent with your single person blog, you can develop a readership over time. The key here is consistency and delivering content that appeals to your followers. Essentially you are painting a word picture of your expertise in your “brand” area.

 Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, are delicate marketing platforms. People love to see book covers and photos related to your brand. They are not keen on seeing repeated messages to “buy my book.” These platforms work great for people who already have a following, and once a post gains momentum, the multiplier effect of reposting or sharing can go viral. There is a caveat, especially on Facebook, where there are author and reader groups that want you to publish your material. However, the number of posts in those groups is high, so your selection is quickly dropped down the screen as more posts come in. The more specifically you can target your groups, the more chances of reaching an actual reader you’ll have.

 Press releases work great in you live in an area with some population. My county has 10K people total and no stoplights. Papers from neighboring towns rarely cover my town, and even when I get a large spread in the weekly paper, it doesn’t assure sales or attendance at book signings. Many people do radio interviews now, or podcasts. Those are popular, but since I haven’t done them, I can’t gauge their effectiveness. If you live in a city of any size, you should be doing these press releases. Or you can contribute articles that are in some way related to a topic in your book for some subliminal marketing.

Newsletters get back to that one-on-one connection. I rely on my electronic newsletters to get the word out about my book. I put out a newsletter quarterly and make it as professional looking and engaging as I can. The tempo is upbeat. I use color photos. I offer extras (contests, recipes, appearances) when I can. All of my social media links are included in each newsletter. I use an inexpensive service, Vertical Response, to create the emails and send them out. Another similar utility is Mail Chimp. I’ve built my subscriber list up through activities in a marketing co-op.

 In person signings are a great way to spend time with readers, but you have to be prepared to promote the event and to hand-sell your books. The hand-selling is difficult for some introverts like me. Also, while events with multiple authors at a book store are more fun for the author, my experience has shown a dilution of sales for individuals. For local book signings, I make sure it’s covered in the paper or place an ad. I also send postcard mailers to every local reader on my snail mail address list. This ensures a great turn out. The same is true for an Online Book Launch Party - make sure your fans know when and where it will be held.

 Bookmarks are also valued at events where you have face time with readers, whether it’s a signing or a conference or the dentist office. Have some sort of handout in your car or purse that you can pull out. Some people leave these items various places in hopes someone will pick them up. I find that these items work best for personal interactions. Bookmarks can be any size, from an inexpensive business card to a postcard to the more traditional narrow rectangle shape. Vistaprint is an inexpensive online place to shop for these materials, though you can Google and find a ton more.

 Conferences, specifically fan conferences, are a great way to connect with readers. Some conferences cater to authors and readers, but cons like Malice Domestic, Bouchercon, and RT pull in a boatload of readers. See if one of these is in driving distance for you to keep expenses down. You may still only sell a modest number of books, but you are building a reputation in that crowd, which will turn out to be worth its weight in gold. Be sure you collect names and addresses for your newsletter from each interested party.

Marketing co-ops like Booklovers Bench also create a buzz and a professional brand. I banded together with several mystery and romance writers a few years back to do this because I write mystery and romance. The net effect is that we’ve pooled our readerships, thus multiplying our potential market. We send book information to readers of our genres routinely.

Crowdsourcing is the new buzz word, or at least it’s new to me. The recent contract I won through the Kindle Scout program for my G-1 came as a result of reader input and viral marketing. Many authors are using utilities like Thunderclap to promote. As I understand it, authors get their friends to agree to post word of their event or book release on Facebook or Twitter. The Thunderclap utility has the tweet and FB post already uploaded. Folks agree and give the utility permission to post automatically (once) for that event on a certain day, thus ensuring a blitz of low-cost information hitting a wide audience. You have to have a minimum number of people to agree to help you. I think it’s 100 but I’m not sure.

To sum up, many strategies are out there to find readers. I’ve found I can’t do everything or even half of everything. It just makes me nuts. My advice is to do the things you like or that you don’t find objectionable. It’s also easier for me if I do a little each day. You can prewrite blogs or other social media posts. Heck, on my Facebook author page I can even upload and preschedule posts. That’s great when I travel to conferences and can’t “tend the gardens.”

Maggie Toussaint
writing science fiction as Rigel Carson