My Books

Sea-Devil: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 1
Sea-Devil: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 1

You never get over your first about your first murder? When a man is murdered in her bookstore the night before her grand opening, island newcomer, Delilah Duffy, makes a name for herself as prime suspect. If Delilah Duffy hopes to create a life on the island, she must navigate through a vicious family feud, shoddy police work and the mistakes of her past. Will Delilah uncover the truth before her past and her present destroy her?

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Luna-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 2
Luna-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 2

We're all just one pain away from lunacy. A seaside inn. An elegant party. A black dress. What could go wrong? For Delilah Duffy, just about anything. With her bookstore failing, the last thing she needs is a party or another mystery to solve. With nightmares, anxiety, and panic intensifying, Delilah doesn’t know what’s real and what’s in her head. With everything at risk, Delilah discovers what’s worse… becoming a lunatic or facing one.

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Sea-Crossed: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 3
Sea-Crossed: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 3

Some secrets are kept to be kind. Torture, pain, misery - that’s all someone else wants for her. When a dinner party turns deadly, Sam goes missing, and Delilah realizes she's being watched, the “book queen with a thing for crime scenes” must battle to get her life and love back. Can love and determination save them or will dark secrets ruin her chances for a normal life? With mysterious messages taunting her and a killer eluding her, what lines will she cross to get to the truth?

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Pyra-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 4
Pyra-Sea: A Delilah Duffy Mystery Book 4

Everything can change in seconds. Bookstore manager and crime-solver, Delilah Duffy knows that better than anyone. When her Happily Ever After Valentine’s Day Bash ends in fiery destruction, everything she’s worked for burns with it. Pregnant and brokenhearted, Delilah fans the flames of her anger toward what she’s good at: solving crimes. Hot on the trail of an arsonist while her nemesis is on hers, Delilah fights to get her life back. Will she turn ash to treasure before the pyromaniac strikes

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My Vella Story

Water World
Water World

After a tough move with his Mom and sister from his beloved country home, Ethan isn't adjusting well to city life. In trying to escape his problems in this world, he opens another, dropping him and his sister, Abby, into Water World. This trip is no vacation, not with legendary monsters and deadly sea creatures to battle. But teaming up to help the merpeople through their home-related crisis might help Ethan and Abby navigate theirs, if they survive long enough to make it home.

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  • Jessica Sherry

Gizmo vs. Gremlins: How to Raise Stakes in your Story

What's at stake in your story? If giving readers likable, interesting characters in a decent setting kept them engaged, then Biblo (and later Frodo and Sam) would've stayed in the Shire. By raising stakes, writers pull readers in with reasons to invest--the characters must be removed from their comforts and plans to achieve a larger goal that's important, like saving the world. It's not a story without conflict, without something at stake.

To raise stakes in your story, toss in a few Gremlins.

“So if your air conditioner goes on the fritz, or your washing machine blows up, or your video recorder conks out, before you call the repairman, turn on all the lights, check all the closets and cupboards, look under all the beds, ’cause you never can tell. There just might be a gremlin in your house.” ~ Gremlins & Me, metaphorically.

Which would you pick if you had to describe yourself as a Christmas movie? I’d be Gremlins. My Christmas season--or any project or big event--begins with a positive, hopeful attitude, as I’d have toward Gizmo. “Ah, he's so cute, so much fun! He’s so warm, and cuddly, and sweet. Awww. I love him! Taking care of him is no big deal at all!”


Christmas Gremlin

But then something happens.

The cute lures of Christmas multiply and soon turn into monsters.

How am I going to get all this done? There’s too much to do, too much money to spend! The traffic! The lines! The madness!

“Tell me something, Billy. How come a cute little guy like this can turn into a thousand ugly monsters?” ~ Gremlins.
“I know, right?” ~ Me.

The clock is ticking. Christmas Spirit left on vacation. And instead of a cute and cuddly Christmas, I’m hoping to survive. I’m the mom in Gremlins, Mrs. Peltzer. Just trying to bake my damn gingerbreads but stopping every few minutes to battle little demon interruptions. And now, I’ll have to clean out the microwave, too! Argh!

The same could and probably should happen to your protagonist as your story builds and the pressures mount. There should be gremlins or monsters hiding in the woodwork. Whatever good intentions she started with should blow up in the microwave. Think about other Christmas favs where characters enter the story with the best intentions only for expectations to fly out the window:

  • Home Alone begins with a family about to have an amazing Christmas vacation that gets sidetracked when Kevin gets left behind.

  • Elf starts with Buddy expecting a happy reunion with his father, but nothing goes as planned.

  • Clark dreams of a perfect family Christmas in Christmas Vacation, but it's ruined mostly by, well, family.

  • The Grinch intends to steal Christmas from the Whos by raiding their presents and decorations but discovers those things don't matter after all.

  • John McClane expects to "fly out to the coast, have a few laughs" but ends up in a battle with terrorists. (Yes, Die Hard's still technically a Christmas movie)

Bringing in Gremlins for your character to battle provides an opportunity to show your readers what she's really made of. Besides, it's fun. I mean, seriously, have you ever seen a better Mom-battle scene than Mrs. Peltzer fighting Gremlins in her kitchen?


She gets one in the blender, stabs another to death, and zaps another in the microwave, turning it to liquified chunks! That’s what they get for eating her gingerbreads! Damn Gremlins. It's probably the best scene in the movie, and she's not even the MC!

Consider your character's Gizmos--that is, their cute expectations--and give them Gremlins--troubling, challenging, dirty reality. Of course, these don't have to be monsters, though why not?

Here are a few other Gremlin-like reality checks:

  • A flat tire on the way to the prom, court date, wedding, funeral, big presentation, Oscars, Post Malone concert

  • An unexpected answer... not getting the job, promotion, award, lottery, boyfriend, check in the mail

  • An old flame reaching out days before the perfectly planned, long-awaited wedding

  • Or hell, getting jilted at the altar altogether

  • A sinkhole, dragon, earthquake, or tornado

  • Lost keys... is that pesky ghost playing games with you again?

  • A car accident, a diagnosis, a robbery, a fire

  • Wrong place, wrong time, too much wine

  • An upsetting phone call, letter, telegram, text, special delivery... maybe blackmail?

  • A Ms. Ruby Deagle (the mean lady from Gremlins), an unreasonable boss, a dishonest co-worker, a nosy neighbor, a creepy professor, a villain

"Start with characters. Throw in Gremlins. Let characters battle Gremlins. Now, you have a story." ~ Me on how to write a story, smirking.

Your turn. What Gremlins could you throw at your MC to raise the stakes in your story? Share below!

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