About Suzanne Jenkins

Get Suzanne's newsletter and never miss a new release! Receive a FREE Pam of Babylon short story by signing up at http://suzannejenkins.net Suzanne's Gift to You! DOWNLOAD FREE and Bargain EBOOKS Start the first installment of Suzanne's bestselling series, Pam of Babylon FREE! Download Today - The Greeks of Beaubien Street 99 Cents (Greektown Detroit Detective Stories) Also free, Atlas of Women, a compilation of the novella, Mademoiselle and four short stories, and Burn District: The Prequel. Her anthology of romance titles with eleven other authors, A TOUCH OF PASSION, has just become the 2016 WINNER of The Romance Reviews Readers' Choice Awards. Suzanne writes page-turning contemporary romance, mystery, and women's fiction with passionately gripping characters that stay with readers long after they turn the last page. The Detroit Detective Stories, beginning with The Greeks of Beaubien Street are a reflection of American fantasy with historical reality. Pam of Babylon books consistently rank in the Top 100 Best Sellers in American Drama with over 500,000 downloads. Suzanne's stand alone novels include Someone Like You, the Family/LGBT themed Alice's Summertime Adventure, suspenseful The Savant of Chelsea, Slow Dancing, The Liberation of Ravenna Morton and Perfect for Him, her latest romance story. "Bring the tissues," readers say. Burn District, Jenkins new sci/fi series, follows an American family as they flee from political insanity to save their lives in the Arizona Desert. Her short story, Vapor appeared in Willow Review, Spring 2013. A retired operating room nurse, Jenkins divides her time between the west Michigan lakeshore, the Brandywine River Valley, and the mountains of Southern California, traveling across country with her husband, Jim and dog Oscar in an RV, to visit their children and grandchilden on different coasts. Visit http://suzannejenkins.net where you may subscribe to an email list entitling you to free stories and excerpts of soon to be released and new releases.

Keeping Christmas No Matter What

Reflecting over the past sixty plus years, I’ve proven that life can be falling apart but traditions will not be ignored. An example: I remember my mother being half-dead with pneumonia and insisting we take her to Walmart to buy my sister a cake and gifts for her birthday. It was not acceptable to give me the list because she had to do the shopping herself. In my story, the family insists life will go on as normal at all costs when tragedy strikes before a holiday.

Christmas in the Clouds is the movie that inspired me to write Christmas with the Clouds.

In the movie, a Native American son, Ray has just returned from college to run the ski lodge in Utah that his father once managed. A comfortable environment where employees’ children play in the lobby and the handyman hits on guests, the lodge isn’t four-star travel guide material. So when Ray learns that a representative from a famous travel guide is coming to inspect, he makes a complete overhaul of the hotel. Getting his father to stay out of the way is a minor issue, shadowed by dealing with the eccentric staff, which includes the vegetarian chef who takes pleasure in naming the animals diners are eating.

Despite Ray’s careful plans, everything goes wrong. Beautiful Tina arrives at the lodge and Ray mistakenly thinks she’s the travel writer and sets about giving her the royal treatment while the real travel writer is ignored and is subject to hilarious hotel bungling. Read the review on Rotten Tomatoes here. 

Although my story, Christmas with the Clouds is not a comedy, there are some parallels with the movie. The action takes place in Utah, but the family returns to their roots at the Indian Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho after a tragedy ruins their Christmas. What happens next is unexpected. My heroine, Tracy’s presence with the family seems to make their grief turn around. Because of Tracy’s small child, Jasmine, they decide that Christmas cannot be canceled. It becomes a healing, almost joyful time for everyone.

For the story, I drew on an experience of a year ago. Preparations for my granddaughter’s birthday loomed ahead. Ponies, a taco truck, and a lifeguard for the pool were all arranged when my son received a life threatening diagnosis the morning of the party. My desire was to get into bed and stay there for the rest of my life. My daughter-in-law said, “no way.” The show would go on.

The bouncy house and water slide were installed and inflated. Relatives from Michigan and Pennsylvania arrived from the airport; friends from all over California showed up by noon. Soon, their backyard was filled with twenty children and their parents, nannies and helpers. I was overwhelmed by the chaos. The ponies were hysterical, wearing headdresses of flowers. The taco truck was the perfect accompaniment. For a few hours, our worry and pain were alleviated by a child’s birthday party.

In Christmas with the Clouds, it takes a year for the characters to cycle through their grief. Finally, by the following Christmas, although they will never forget their loss, something wonderful ensues and they take the next step in moving on with life.

In our instance, a year later as life had returned to our new normal, my granddaughter’s next birthday approached. The celebration was just as chaotic, but without the dread. We all marveled that we’d weathered the year, and had some good news with which to rejoice.

To read an excerpt of Christmas with the Clouds please download our free Book Bites!

Love Christmas, 2 was the perfect vehicle to get me to write the story that had been simmering away for a year. The holidays provide so much for us, in spite of the busyness. The danger is allowing the gift buying and meal preparations to overshadow the fun – getting together with our friends and families, reinforcing traditions for our children to carry on, and just the break in routine. If you celebrate the holidays, what are you planning?

I especially love to hear about the traditional foods served; everything from ethnic favorites to all time American dishes like green bean casserole. Our free recipe book has new dishes to try this year.

Favorite Holiday Recipes Cookbook
Next week, our release party for Love Christmas, 2 is at Facebook on October 16th and 17th. Be sure to stop by here! We’ll have lots of giveaways and gifts to share.

One of the giveaway prizes at this event is a Love Christmas 2 book cover bracelet!


Returning to a Place of Love

Beaubien Street, Greektown, Detroit, Michigan


The Greektown Detective Stories grew from my childhood memories of going to Greektown with my father to shop every Saturday. When I close my eyes, I can remember the sounds of traffic a few blocks over from quiet Greektown, the smells of bread baking, even the cool but sunny weather of a late spring morning. We never ate at the restaurants. My father was there to shop for ingredients he would use to prepare his favorite Greek recipes.

The apartment over Gus’s Greek Grocery in The Greeks of Beaubien Street belonged to my grandfather’s friend. The walnut dining room furniture with the picture of the Evzone in the ornate frame hanging over the buffet, and the tiny kitchen with the window overlooking the alley was a real place.



While other Greek families worshiped together, our family ate. My Aunt Zoola made the most phenomenal lamb roasts. Peeled potatoes were baked right in the juices and fat of the lamb giving it a leathery exterior with a fluffy interior.  We still talk about how wonderful they tasted. My father cooked Greek food on the weekends and the times I went with him to the Eastern Market for supplies are precious memories.  There was nothing more delicious than my dad’s Greek salad with fresh baked bread from Greektown.

My Papou author George Coutoumanos by Jane Simmonds

As a young girl the desire to belong was strong. I didn’t fit in with the white kids in our suburban neighborhood, and I longed to find my place there in Greektown. But my mother was English – a strike against me even in my father’s family where I didn’t feel totally accepted. My character, Detroit homicide detective Jill Zannos also doesn’t feel like she belongs in spite of being Greek and living in Greektown. She grows up in the apartment above the grocery store. My dad’s father ran a bar in a small, provincial town outside of Detroit, and the children felt the stigma of being Greek, and being bar owners.


The Greek community was insular in my memory. In the Greektown Stories, I expose issues that many modern Greeks find offensive, that they choose to ignore. There is a movement among some modern Greeks in America to only look at the positive. In my opinion, it’s the way tragedy is swept under the rug.  Some Greeks don’t like the issues I depict, saying Greeks

don’t act that way. But that’s not my experience. I love it when a reader validates the stories, able to identify with the situations.


In the preface of his beautiful book, My Detroit, Growing up Greek and American in Motor City (Pella Publishing Company, NY, NY, 2006) author Dan Georgakas writes, “…the Greeks who emigrated to America thought their citizenship would change, but not their basic culture. Somehow they would remain Greek, and their children’s children….” As a young girl, I was enthralled with anything that was remotely Greek. I longed to go to the Greek Church, but my family wasn’t religious. My grandmother said she’d give me $100 if I would learn the Greek alphabet, but there was no one to teach me. I’m smiling while writing this. The perspective of a child is so absolute. As an adult, I’m not religious and I still don’t know the Greek alphabet.


My family was Americanized. My grandmother, who I called Bunny instead of the Greek word, Yiayia, that my cousins used, was seven years old when she came to the United States. I found out later she studied at Wayne State University in Detroit. She married my grandfather who came to Greece as an adult, and they lived in Detroit until 1941, moving to the suburbs because even that long ago, she was frightened to raise her family in the city.


The only opportunity my grandmother had to speak Greek was to her father, my Papou (Greek for grandfather), or to her sisters. When my mother and the other non-Greek aunts were present, the aunts ignored them and spoke Greek. My mother said they’d add just enough English so the non-Greeks would know they were being talked about. I play with that dynamic a little bit in the Greektown books.


Bunny worked at keeping the family together.  In 1957, she bought a large, ancient farmhouse in Saugatuck, Michigan and spent the next year getting it ready for the extended family to enjoy. We’d drive in from Dearborn on Friday night and relatives from all over Michigan and from the Chicago area would converge. We’d spend the day at the beach, coming home tired and sunburned. The men stayed up all night playing poker, their laughter filling the old place. I can still smell the oregano from my grandmother’s kitchen.

The old farmhouse right before it was torn down.

After Bunny died, most of our relatives moved to California leaving us behind.  After that, my dad tried to continue the traditions that made our family Greek. It became even more important for him to hang on to some of the Greek ways, and for our family, since we didn’t go to the Orthodox Church, that meant Greek food and Greektown.  Rarely, Greek friends would come to the house but when they did, the food was phenomenal.


The Greeks of Beaubien Street is a work of fiction. I wanted the family to be more Greek than ours was, so I had to embellish what I knew from growing up in our mixed, Greek American family. The situations in the book are the complete opposite of my family’s. Yiayia Eleni in the story is critical and stern.  My grandmother was loving and kind, at least to me.  Although she was known to chase an errant child around the neighborhood with a switch she cut from a pussy willow tree, she never struck me. One of the last things my mother said to me before she died was that I reminded her of Bunny, something I will treasure forever.


Like Jill, I have a special needs sibling. In our youth, we referred to her as mentally retarded, a term which is no longer widely used. Now, when I hear the word retard used to describe a person, I cringe. My parents were pioneers during that time; they brought my sister home from the hospital instead of placing her in an institution, and she was mainstreamed into our community. Now in her mid-sixties, people from the old neighborhood still remember her and ask how she is.  My Greek relatives loved her and showered her with affection.  The shame and secretiveness of my character’s responses to their Down Syndrome child is foreign to us, thankfully.


I have not been to Dearborn or Detroit in over thirty years. The Detroit in the story is a conglomeration of the Detroit of my childhood, (when our mothers felt it was safe for twelve year-olds to take the bus in for shopping), and post-riot Detroit. Although I mention the riots and some of the desecration of the city, I do so only to keep things realistic.  I relied on aunts and uncles to fill me in on some of the trivia, like the story of the parrot who spoke Greek. My aunt remembers the parrot vividly from visits to Greektown with her father in the late 1940’s. Dan Georgakas also mentions the parrot. For a real view of Greektown, I highly recommend his book.  Everything else is a product of my imagination.


The memories of that time are powerfully influential. My husband and I moved from New Jersey to live in Saugatuck after our children were grown, and I felt close to my Papou, also an author, as I wrote The Greeks of Beaubien Street in my office overlooking the woods of west Michigan.


My detective stories set in Greektown Detroit, Michigan, are full of references to food. The family congregates around an old, walnut dining room table, eating the same food my family ate when I was growing up.

Readers asked me to compile a recipe book. I thought, why not? How hard can it be? Well, it was so far over my head, I quickly put the brakes on it and instead offered titles to the plethora of fabulous Greek cookbooks available.

One recipe however, is mine when I’m too lazy to make real Baklava, which I’d never attempt anyway.  This is a pretty cake, a big hit at potlucks, and takes very little effort.

Baklava Cake

Ingredients –

Yellow cake mix

White frosting

Walnuts to cover top of cake


Frozen Filo dough

Prepare the cake mix according to directions, divide into two pans.

While the cake is baking, toss walnuts with a Tsp. of oil and a pinch of salt, spread on a cookie sheet and roast, being careful they don’t get too dark. Chop coarse when cooled.

After removing the nuts from the oven, put several layers of semi-thawed filo dough prepared according to the directions on the box, into the oven to bake. It doesn’t take long. You’ll want the sheets to be light brown.

After the cake has cooled, assemble it, white frosting in between the layers with a drizzle of honey, but not too much, and a sprinkle of nuts. When the layers are stacked, cover with the white frosting.

Cover the frosted top with more chopped walnuts. Crush the filo dough into quarter-sized pieces. It’s easy to turn it into dust, so use caution here. Take the crushed baked filo and press it into the sides of the frosted cake. Drizzle with honey!

The crisp filo and salted walnuts are really nice with the super sweet frosting and honey. I use a light hand drizzling with the honey. Diners can always add more if they’d like.

Many fabulous Greek cookbooks are available. I love Around a Greek Table: Recipes & Stories Arranged According to the Liturgical Seasons of the Eastern Church

My favorite Greek Food Blogs




For more about my Greektown Stories, go here.







What Do You Collect?

A faithful reader of my Pam of Babylon series recently sent me an article about beach glass, aware that Pam is a beach combing fanatic, and has a vast collection of it which she displays in a clear glass ginger jar on the white marble of the kitchen in her ocean front home on Long Island.

Beach glass is like rock hunting or scouring parks with a metal detector; the lure of the hunt and the excitement when you find something to add to your collection can’t be beat. All of those things appeal to me. I belong to every rock hunting group on Facebook, much to my husband’s amusement because I haven’t ventured out of our yard to hunt.

Collections of anything intrigue me. I once saw a photograph of a collection of small hearts consisting of religious medals, art and artifacts, you name it. Soon after, we were at the beach, and I found a small, stone heart. Now I was hooked. Friends started sending me hearts. I have hearts made of stone, glass, metal, and paper.

Owls are another passion. I have so many owls. The owl thing started with a piece of jewelry Jim bought me when we were dating; in sterling, an owl ring made of turquoise, mother of pearl, and onyx. I forgot I was wearing it one day and went to my OR job with it on my finger. When I had to scrub for a case, I popped it in my pocket and down with the laundry it went, never to be seen again. Over the years, he’s added pieces of costume jewelry, including bracelets, earrings, and necklaces all with owls.

An antique chalk owl once belonging to my mother graces the library in my kitchen. My children are the sources of many of my owls, including a metal sculpture from Jeni, and a canvas bag from Sarah. A friend made me a little needle-felted owl. He’s so sweet, looking down from his perch.

In my stories, I get to collect personalities. I like lots of characters. I’m driven by their interaction, their histories, their weaknesses and strengths. A caveat is that I sometimes get them confused and will change their names inadvertently, having to quickly go back and fix after the fact. It’s a liability of reading my books. An example is in my mystery series, I changed an aunt’s name from Paula to Beth. Hindsight, she was really a Beth. But she’d been named Paula in three prior books, so Paula she remained. Paula is so real to me now after writing about her, but she’s such a Beth!

The first book in my new series, Bittersweets, had so many characters I started taking notes for each couple, and writing a book for each one. The first, Bittersweets – Terry and Alex is included in our new steamy romance boxed set, Love on Fire, six stories by six authors now available on Amazon for 99 Cents.

Thanks for stopping by today!

We hope you enjoyed what we shared with you today! Please take a few moments to share with your friends using the share buttons below. Subscribe to our blog so that you don’t miss a single post. —>>

 And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, get some free books and then get a note containing sales and new releases each Friday.

Too Many Pirogies

Food is an ongoing theme in my writing. Recently, the subject was pierogi. Or pirogie. Four months ago I’d sent a query to an agent and she requested to see the whole manuscript. During the months that she had it, I wrote a few other books. When she passed on it, it was my opportunity to self-publish again.  Well, I discovered upon rereading the book that there were several recurring themes in two of the books. I eliminated some of them, but the pirogies had to stay.

In one story, Bittersweets – Terry and Alex, the pirogies are prepared for a special dinner for a new boyfriend at the suggestion of a loving father.

In the other, The Jade Emperor,  the book the agent had for part of the year, a mother prepares a special dinner for her adult children in an attempt to overcome her own broken heart.  There are several emotionally charged events occurring around the pirogies; shopping for them, the children’s responses, especially one son who discovers the mother is at a Trader Joes type of store and text messages her, “Does this mean the pirogies are frozen?” I had to keep that line in because I laughed so hard when I wrote it.

Thinking about food reminds me of the importance attached to it when I was growing up. My English mother was such a good cook. I see her dressed in a shirtwaist dress wearing loafers, standing at the stove.  Her specialties revolved around roasted meats with potatoes and vegetable. She always served a fresh salad.

My Greek father was an excellent cook in his own right. I share his recipe for Avgolemono Soup whenever I can as a way to honor him.  When my own family was growing up, dinner was so important to me, a chance to reconnect with my children after I’d been at work all day. My husband commuted two hours to Manhattan and we’d wait until seven-thirty to eat. Being around the table, hearing everyone sharing their day, well I still well up when I think of how wonderful it was. That finds its way into my stories, too, the mother’s focus on finding a way to bring her family together, to nourish their bodies and in the same way, nourish her own soul.

Dino’s Avgolemono Soup – Greek Chicken, Egg and Rice Soup


Family-pack sized chicken parts, probably five pounds.

Celery, onion, garlic to cook with chicken in at least a gallon of water.

Two cups of raw, white rice rinsed and cooked until just soft.

Lemon juice from three lemons. We like it tart so we use more.

One dozen eggs separated.

Stew chicken in at least a gallon of salted water into which you’ve added the vegetables. Bone and cut up chicken meat and place back into large pot. Skim fat if the chicken has skin on.

Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding some of the cooled broth. It’s okay if they cook a little; it’ll be like egg drop soup.

Beat egg whites until stiff.

Add lemon juice to chicken and broth. You can adjust your lemony taste now, or even add canned broth.

Fold eggs and egg whites into chicken and broth, heat through. Add cooked rice.

My dad generously peppered the dish, too. He used so much chicken he never needed to add extra broth. His soup was more like chicken and rice that you’d eat with a fork.  I’m starving for it now!

The Jade Emperor Coming July 21st For an excerpt, click here.