HOUSE RULES by Susan Wingate

A chickadee just landed on our stainless steel barbecue out back on the porch where I have placed a bowl of mixed seeds for finches and other songbirds. I can only imagine, from here, the sound of its feet as they tap across the metal. We feed the animals that traverse our property where we live, here on our tiny island in the Pacific Northwest.

Today, we have gusting winds, up to fifty miles per hour, making thick linty clouds scud by in a constant show called The Elements. A small yearling fawn just walked across my view looking for oats and deer pellets and acting a bit annoyed that he hasn’t found anymore from this morning… he showed up then too. His soft ashy brown coat looks lumpy where his new thicker fur has begun to grow in.

The days got cold fast this season. Forecasters have threatened the worst winter since the 1950s. I’m not looking forward to that. I fear one of the does, one who looks like she got hit by a car, might not fair well in a harsh winter. But, I watch out for her and run out with a bowl of food and an apple (her favorite treat) whenever she shows up.

A black fox waits around in the woods somewhere, hiding under fallen trees, downed branches and thick coverings made from leaves and pine needles, moss and dirt.

We only have one house rule here: No One Goes Hungry.

Of course, because we feed wildlife means we have the usual criminals, thieving crows and starlings, vandalizing raccoons (last count we had about twenty), and a stray dog or cat who break-and-enter every once in a while.

I even saw an otter once swimming in our pond. Just its head, that’s all I could see but I watched him dog-paddle his way from the road side of the water over toward the field side, where another home sits off in the distance about one-third of a mile away.

A few years back, on that same pond, I got to watch another kind of show, one from which I wrote my award-winning poem, “The Fisherman, the Eagle and Jesus.” The temperatures had dropped into the mid-twenties and the pond had a thick layer of ice covering it. An eagle suddenly landed on it and must’ve seen a fish just under the frozen water because it began to snap at the ice but seeing it a futile effort began to chase the thing around. It looked like an eagle ice skating. A magical sight. Its mate came to the rescue and their offspring followed, a mottled young bald, maybe a year old, its head hadn’t turned white yet. Then, a guest showed up as well, a silly black mink undulating its way out onto the frozen pond. It stopped short when it ambled too close to the family of bald eagles. It turned on its heels and scurried away after realizing its error.

So, as I sit here, I’m amazed to think I live in this haven of wildlife, pristine air and bucolic land. After thirty-nine years of life in Phoenix, life up here feels dreamy as I watch Robert, our pup, looking out the French door tracking the chickadee while it hops around the back porch finding food and nibbling on bits of millet.

Y’all be sure & check out Susan’s new book.  EASY AS PIE is the second in the Bobby’s Diner series.


Evie, thanks so much for taking the time to join us & satisfy our curiosity about a few things.

Could you please tell us about THE UNNECESSARY BODYGUARD, your debut?

This book is published with Cobblestone Press and it’s book one in the Dhampir Desire series. It’s a steamy paranormal set in Chicago, which unfolds within a world of vampire activity and vampire hunters whose mission is to eliminate hostile vampires and keep humans safe. The hero, Jovan Markovic, is half-vampire, half-human (a dhampir), and falls for his client, Nina Bradley, an independent woman who isn’t interested in his bodyguard services.

Here’s a blurb to give you a better idea:

Nina Bradley doesn’t pay attention to her friend’s premonition that she’ll be attacked by a vampire. She discovers Daphne’s assigned a dhampir bodyguard to her and clearly objects. Worse, she finds him terribly attractive, but he’s half vampire. They don’t suit. A good reason to stop fantasizing about him.

Jovan Markovic wants to keep things professional between him and his beautiful client, but his desire for her is spiralling out of control. He ought to assign someone else to the case, but he won’t. He ought to use his lover to erase Nina from his mind, but he can’t…

Sounds really good…

What about the Dhampir Desire series?

I built the series around the heroes, three brothers who work for the same organization. They’re hard-edged men who are equally determined to eliminate hostile vampires. I’ve blessed them with starkly different personalities and challenging love matches. They face this personal challenge with their individual set of rules and desires. The next book tells the story of Milan Markovic, a carefree, super-Alpha bad boy who meets his match in a sassy heroine.

With all the paranormal entities out there why dhampirs?

I wanted a different angle on the vampire theme without straying too far from it. Dhampirs exist in Balkan folklore but many people don’t know about them. They are considered the ultimate vampire hunters. So I took this character and romanticized it. The outcome is an exotic, sexy beast in human form.

Who’s in control, you or the characters?

My characters from the start—it’s their story. Not always an easy feat to accomplish but I find it easier when the characters are a lot different than me.

Is there anything special you do or need to coax your muse?

I don’t do anything in particular to coax my muse. It has its natural cycle like any author’s I believe. But when it’s active and hungry, I like to feed it vanilla-scented candles and essential oils in a burner.

Is writing a “must do to be fit for public consumption” thing for you?

Being a professional writer, it does to a large extent. A portion of my earnings derives from my books, so they have to be marketable. However, I would like to write my aunt’s biography one day, which may or may not be marketable, but it’s a story worth telling.

What’s the hardest thing about writing for you?

I’d say keeping a regular writing routine, which I squeeze in between my part-time job, daily errands and life’s unexpected things. The easiest? That would be dialogue. It’s the part of the writing process that comes most naturally to me. I love watching the characters breathe life into the story through this.

Favorite book as a child?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I’ve read at least three times.

I loved that book too!  I think Pippi Longstocking was my absolute fave though..


In my early teens, I really liked the Agatha Christie novels. I think I liked Murder on the Orient Express most. Then in my mid-teens I picked up my first romance novel which sparked my interest in this genre. I was hooked on Harlequins for a while.

I discovered so many good books as a teen too.


My tastes have diversified over the years. I read just about everything from romance to chick lit to spy novels, so it’s hard to single out one title in particular. I have a few favorites within each genre.

Pet peeves?

That’s easy: Bad public behavior, hairdressers who cut my hair too short, and the fact that it is virtually impossible to find waist-high jeans.

Please finish this…If I were Empress of the Universe…

I’d eliminate suffering in mankind and all other creatures and create a two to one ratio of hot men to women.

Where do you (would you like to) see yourself in 5 years?

Published in both ebook and print with about four publishers of my choice. I feel like I’m on the right path. I hope to have the time and determination to write the biography I mentioned earlier. I’d also like to see myself heading for warm destinations more often but I think that’s wishful thinking.

Is there anything you’d like us to know that I may have missed?

I’d just like to add that I’ve got a great Reader Appreciation Contest. It takes place in my yahoo group. This is easy and fun for folks who love chatting; the more you chat, the more chances of winning. Among the three ebook prizes is a $15 Amazon gift certificate going to three winners. But you have to register soon to participate. Info and group link:

Thanks so much for joining us today, I’ve enjoyed learning more about you and your Dhampir series.

Thank you, Manic Readers for being a wonderful host!

If y’all would like to read/learn more about Evie & her new series please go to

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