Friday, March 23, 2018

Cheaper Isn’t Always Better: But Free Is Always Best, so #Relax’nRead On Me By Margo Hoornstra

          What is up with toilet paper these days? Is it just me, or are the rolls themselves becoming narrower, the cardboard tubes inside wider? In other words, less product for the same, or larger, price.

I don’t know how this is working at your house. At ours, there seems to be much more movement and play around the spindle. Not at all like some of the public restrooms where the toilet paper roll is packed so tight into the holder, you’re lucky to get off one teeny tiny square at a time. Or bits and pieces that are totally useless. Still, there is so much paper provided. Doesn’t that make you feel like a cherished customer?
Your basic advertising/sales tool is at play here, product enhancement-modifying existing products so they appear to be improved. We’ve all seen the ad strategies used. Same great product, more manageable (read smaller) package. More rolls for your money!
Let’s face it, as far as a market, we are locked in. Toilet paper manufacturers can pretty much charge as much as they want for as little as they want to offer. I mean, consider the alternative.  On second thought, don’t.
Bottom line, I know I’ll always be a good toilet paper consumer. Not of the cut rate brands either. Did that once and it sure wasn’t pretty. Thought I’d found a good sale so I stocked up. Never again. Took forever to use it all, because no way was I going to throw even one sheet out unutilized.
That’s not exactly what I set out to share here today. In my defense, a little consumer bias I needed to get off my chest. Proof that cheaper isn’t always a better deal.
Speaking of which, I do have one too. A deal that is. And not cheaper even – FREE.
A romance short story, available for FREE download.

Back in the day, as they say, my father wrote scripts for a radio show out of Detroit titled Manhunt, which was a forerunner of the television show Dragnet. True stories pulled from actual police files, as they also say.

This story is based on one of those scripts.

So please, click on the above link and enjoy!
Take some time to #Relax‘nRead.
It’ll help you forget the unfortunate product ‘enhancement’ our toilet paper everywhere is going through.
My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd.
For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my WEBSITE

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Saved by the #amwriting deadline ~ by Leah St. James

Several of our Roses have written in the past few months about being stuck in the writing doldrums, or something similar, where circumstances and/or mood keep the Muse away. I’m no different. In fact, I’ve shared in previous posts that I’ve been stuck in that mode for quite some time. Recently, though, I’ve started coming out of it, and I thought I’d share a what snapped me out of it.

It all started last fall when I was trying to write my short holiday story for our blog. We’d had the first line for months, and ideas had been floating around in my brain since, but I was having a hard time coming up with an actual story. The date of my first post kept creeping closer and closer like some creature with its claws out, ready to gouge me! Each time I’d post a monthly blog, I’d see more and more Roses who’d finished their stories and had them queued up for publication, and I still hadn’t started mine!

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was starting to worry, and for the first time I started to doubt my ability to get the story done. I knew I could ask one of my fellow Roses to swap dates with me, and I’m confident someone would have graciously agreed, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that I needed to find a way out of this myself. Because there was no real reason I was behind—no family crisis, no visitors, no illnesses. Just my normal routine.

Finally, I settled on my idea and started writing. The story was shaping up, I was feeling confident and about three-quarters done. Then the writer’s worst nightmare happened—less than a week before my posting date, I somehow wrote over my document with something entirely different. And – poof! – like that my hard-fought words were gone. DID I MENTION IT WAS LESS THAN A WEEK FROM MY POSTING DATE!?

When I realized what I’d  done, I wanted to cry. I think I did let out an inhuman-like wail that caused my husband to come running, then pooh-pooh me like it wasn’t a real crisis. (What does HE know anyway?!)

After a frantic search of my computer, I located three or four old versions that I’d somehow had the foresight to save under a different name, so at least I had a foundation. The basic plot hadn’t changed, but a lot of the details had. I remembered enough that I knew it was salvageable, but the clock was ticking.


I couldn’t take any time off from the day job, and by the end of the work day my brain is dead, so I did the unthinkable. I sacrificed my morning exercise and promo/email/blog-raading time to work on the story before work. Thankfully I got the story done (although probably with a few glitches I didn’t pick up on in my rush), but in the process, I discovered something amazing.

Writing at 4:25 a.m., when my brain is still half asleep, released the creativity I’d been missing for so  long, but more than that, it rekindled my love of writing. Somehow my brain likes writing before dawn. Who knew?!

I’m a creature of habit, AND the kind of person who likes to get the icky tasks out of the way before I let myself do the fun stuff.  So for several years I’ve been following the same pre-work routine:  get up early, exercise, take care of the  writing “business” stuff, then try to write, then go to the day job. It hasn’t worked. I think by waking myself up with non-creative things, I locked my thinking into that business-like frame, and once there, I couldn’t get it back, even on weekends when I didn’t have to go to work.

Bull-headed, I didn’t quite recognize this about myself until after the first of the year and I’d settled back into that routine. I’d been making slow progress on my WIP, but at the rate I  was going, it would take another year to finish. I knew something had to change.

When  I’d managed to write the holiday story in record  time, I assumed it was the deadline and the thought of having to admit failure that lit the fire, and that was true. It forced me to come up with a solution. Analyzing it after the fact, though, I remembered how good it felt, even under pressure, to put words and sentences together first thing after waking. So I took a leap and rearranged my pre-work routine. For the past couple weeks I’ve been getting up at the same time, then stagger downstairs, get myself a cup of strong tea, and settle down to write. And miraculously, it’s working!

I’m averaging 500-700 words each morning before work, finally making progress on my long-neglected WIP. In fact, I’m having a hard time yanking myself from my laptop to get to the rest of my day. (Back to reality? Nooooooooo!)

On the negative side, the “business” needs are suffering. I’m posting far less frequently on my Facebook page, for example, but I figure hardly anyone was reading it anyway, so no real harm. And once I have this story in production, I can ramp up my efforts.

So if you’re stuck in the writing blues and missing your Muse, maybe try to figure out when you get the most joy from writing and refocus your efforts on that time of the day or place. It can’t hurt to try! And if you're in a place where you're having a tough time finding joy in anything, give yourself time to heal, to regain your balance. The joy will find you when you're ready.

Happy writing.


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love.  Learn more at

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

April On-line class with Beth Trissel Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs

April On-line class with Beth Trissel
Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs
Hosted by Charter Oak Romance Writers
Dates: April 2, 2018 through April 27, 2018
Instructor: Beth Trissel
Cost: $25
Open to: All
Please register: www.charteroakromance writers
2018 Online Classes

altWorkshop on Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs. This workshop has a broad focus, including Native American and Colonial American herbs, also cures popular with the mountain people and Granny Women of Eastern America, while including herbs of the British Isles. Each participant will receive the eBook of Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles by Beth Trissel.
Questions are welcomed and will be addressed as they arise, which leads to the inclusion of more herbs and topics. There are many ‘extras’ I add besides those listed.
Week One:
Introduction to the workshop and meet & greet.
The wisdom of Native Americans. A focus on Native American herbs.
The Granny Women. A focus on the mountain people and old time cures, both herbal and some white magic.
Week Two:
Colonial American herbs (Part One)
Colonial American herbs (Part Two)
Week Three:
Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles
Other related posts on herbs in the British Isles, including the Druids.
Week Four:
‘What can kill can cure’ but definitely kill and watch out for werewolves (Poisonous herbs and those believed to have power against werewolves and vampires)
For protection from spells and enchantment, the sacred, healing herbs
Knock yourself out and Ward off the Plague: Dwale, an Old-English Antiseptic
The Vinegar of the Four Thieves
An opportunity for final sharing from participants.
Bio for Beth Trissel: Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. And I love a good ghost story. I write historical, paranormal, and time travel romances, YA and NA fantasy romance, and nonfiction about gardening, herbal lore, and country life.
For more on me, my blog is the happening place:
From Barbara Edwards

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How a Cold and Birthday led to Makeup Contouring for the Lazy and Cheap. Warning: Before and After Photos Included. Might be Unsettling for Some Viewers. #ContouringMatureFace

I ought to be writing. I'm supposed to be writing. I'm playing with makeup instead.

Why? Because it's that time of year.

Now there are some that wax poetically about getting older. It could be said the passage of time overwrites our faces and hides behind the dulling eye. Some claim under eye bags and dark circles are badges of honor giving a glimpse of struggles endured. That each laugh or worry line has been carefully etched into our faces to form a topical road map of a life well-lived...
To that, I say




I don't really mind getting older. I've spent 60 (mostly wonderful) years on this earth. I've three (loving and thankfully) grown children, fantastic friends and relatives - all of which keep me laughing. I've had the great fortune to travel, although there are always more places to see. And, I've attained my life's dream of publishing a few novels. 

So, for the most part, age isn't something I worry about. Except, of course, when it's that time of year. 

But when you've got a birthday looming and are in the snotty grip of a nasty cold, heed my advice and stay away from the mirror.

If you are careless enough to stop and take a long look, don't blame me. Though, I suggest you try to remember that none of those grooves and discolorations happened overnight. They were created slowly. In the same way the earth's tectonic plates ebbs and flows over time, the landscape of the face changes. 

It's all a plot to catch you unaware and unprepared. However, do as I do and try to only openly acknowledge them once a year. It makes
you wonder. Why these things, that normally go unnoticed, should claim the attention right before a birthday. 

How can the celebration of another year lived feel like a slap to the face?

But it can and it does and because it did I took it on the chin. I'll explain by explaining the realization happened on a day filled with more Claritin than clarity. 

In retrospect, it was my own fault for buying a magnifying mirror. If you've not succumbed to the urge then never never buy one. Let me say that harsh 5x magnification with bright LED lighting only amplifies flaws of timeworn skin. My already double chin seemed to quadruple in such high relief. I swear I could drown an entire pod of whales in the dark bags beneath my eyes. Or lost an entire platoon in the grooves around my mouth. Mixed metaphors but you get the drift.

And, what the hell? When did my nostrils go all wonky? I can't remember any recent blows to the head, but it appears as if one side of my nose is collapsing in. Now, one nostril is misshapened and they are woefully mismatched. But, for the life of me, I can't remember which one has changed.

Feeling too cruddy to do anything, I spent the day reclining on the couch with tissue box and laptop. I'm telling you all of this so you can understand why I made the logical progression to YouTube tutorials about makeup. 

 Contouring is nothing new but, per usual, I'm late to the party. It might be because I'm too lazy to put much effort into face paint. It might be because I'm too cheap to buy tons of expensive products like fancy sponges and brushes. What I want to think is that, with the wisdom of years, I no longer care all that much about what people think.

I will admit, though, that contouring fascinates me. I enjoy seeing it - on other people. Before now, I never considered it for myself. It looked to be more effort than I'm inclined to give and I believed it took an artistic talent that I lack. 

Yet, when I say I no longer worry about how I look it doesn't mean I want to end up looking like a clown from a horror movie either. 

Taking encouragement, and a few hints from the dozens and dozens of videos out there, I experimented. Except for the contour stick, I haven't use anything I didn't previously own.

The tools.
Face. For better or worse - there it is. Check.
Cheap white makeup sponges from WalMart. The kind you buy in mega batches.
A dab of moisturizer first, one poster insisted, to help blending later. 
Heavy lifting equipment already in my arsenal: Hard Candy Highlight & Contour duo stick, Cover Girl/Olay Simply Ageless Foundation, a blush stick, and a pencil eyeliner. I use the same pencil in the eyelid crease and to line my eyes. 

That's it. All cheap. All easily found at your local discount store.

Most tutorials are given by the young and still firmly skinned. While I watched them all, I stuck with techniques targeting more mature faces. A few of these suggested placing your highlight and contour lines on the face before anything else. 

After trying it both ways, I decided using the contour stick beneath the foundation is best for me. Mainly, because it's more forgiving of mistakes. 

Older faces, they say, need more highlighting to disguise dark circles, bags, lines, and uneven skin tones.
Here I am with my high and low lines done. Ready for the next part, I start blending with the sponge.

Done blending. As you can see, the dark contour lines are softened but still visible. Dab on regular foundation like normal, blend lightly, and add a touch of blush.
I had to change from the pink shirt as I spilled a blob of foundation on it.

Ready for the end results?

First, the before. This photo was taken a few months ago. It shows me pretty much au naturel. 

This last shot was taken today after using my new tricks. What do you think? Though I'm sure I'll improve with practice, I do think the skin looks a little smoother. A little younger. The bags less obvious. I noted that I no longer felt the need to put my hand under my face to hide all the chins.

Perhaps, the next step ought to be learning how to contour the nose to disguise the fact my nostrils have warped. Or, maybe, I'll leave them be so people have something to wonder about.  

I'm happy to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my 61st birthday which was filled with tons of cake and laughter. I'll also admit that I'm relieved it's over so I can forget my appearance for another year.

Because, as I mentioned before, I'm supposed to be writing...

R E Mullins
author of vampire/romance
The Blautsauger of Amber Heights Series

 and the new Vampires of Amber Heights Series

Stand alone novella though Kindle Worlds:

Keep up with what I'm working on at

Buylinks:  AMAZON