Monday, July 23, 2018

#Amwriting AND Doing My #Research by Margo Hoornstra

Can you believe it? School starts around here in less than a month.

As an empty nester, the approach of that annual event doesn’t affect me quite so much now. No collections of school clothes to buy. (With four children, that was always quite the monumental undertaking.) No before and after child care to line up. (As a working mom, always an end of summer priority.)

Remember that Staples commercial – maybe it will be on again – with the gleeful parent pushing a shopping cart while clicking their heels and singing ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year…’ I used to love that ad. Sang that song to my own children all the time too.
But, that’s not what I meant to talk about.

On The Make, Book 3 in the Brothers in Blue series is my current work in progress.

She no longer believes in heroes, or happily ever after. He's determined to prove her wrong.

The book features a recently widowed, single mom raising two adolescent boys, one who is in a particularly difficult stage of rebellion. Having raised the aforementioned four kids, I’m calling up memories of some of our more trying times to help get my creative juices flowing.

Not that any of my offspring were necessarily out and out rebellious, but we did have our moments. And thank goodness I wasn’t a single mom, but had a strong, supportive partner to navigate the sometimes choppy child raising waters with me. Such as:

1.       Those first days, weeks, months with a new driver’s license

2.       The friends they coveted who weren’t necessarily the best choice

3.       Those ‘everyone else gets to, why can’t I?’ discussions

4.       The ‘make your bed and clean your room’ requests that seem to be unheard

5.       The ‘there’s nothing to eat’ wails after a mega trip to the grocery store

6.       The eye rolls. For no particular offense, except for simply being…parental

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Again, as an empty nester, there’s a bonus in here too.  While those recollections are helpful, I get to do some real time, here and now research as well. As I watch two of those four I told you about before navigate the same issues with their offspring.

Plus, I have to say…paybacks really are very, very sweet.

How about you? What’s in your research arsenal and how do you use it?

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my  WEBSITE

Or find me around here: 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Ah...Romance (My Favorite Couples) ~ by Leah St. James

Today is a special day in my family. One year ago, my younger son married his high school sweetheart. Those who followed my angst with the dress and the mother-son dance were probably relieved when the big day was over and I could relax (translation: stop obsessing). I just remember feeling exhausted...with sore feet.

Now a year later, I’m thrilled to report they are happy and doing well. As I was looking through all the wedding photos, reminiscing with occasional but happy sniffles, I was struck how lucky my son was to find someone so special at such a young age. I don’t have a doubt that they are both in it for the long haul, and I find myself wishing for a crystal ball to look into their future--ten, twenty years ahead--to see what joyous memories they make.

That got me thinking about my favorite fictional couples, and how much I enjoy following their love stories. So I made a list -- my favorite romance couples from literature and film/TV. Here it is, in no specific order...

1. Cinderella  & Prince Charming

I mean, isn’t Cinderella the most classic romance of all time, recreated over and over.  My favorite modern-day version is “Pretty Woman” (Julie Roberts and Richard Gere). But my favorite version from my childhood is Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical starring Leslie Ann Warren and Stuart Damon as the hero and heroine.


2. Jim and Della Dillingham, “The Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry
Another classic story of selfless love.

Claire Beauchamp and Jamie Fraser, “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

They fell in love under impossible circumstances, and their love endures the ages. (On a side note, how much trouble can one couple take?!)

4. Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Rourke, “In Death” series by J.D. Robb

They are, in a sense, an odd couple – him a suave and worldly recovered thief/con man, her a seemingly hard-nosed city homicide cop who stops at nothing to get justice for the dead—but their love is true and strong, and so romantic.

5. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, “Gone with the Wind,” Margaret Mitchell

No explanation needed.

6. “Beauty and the Beast,” classic fairy tale first written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (according to Wikipedia anyway!)

I  have two favorite renditions of this story:  
  • The TV show with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. 
  • Then of course, the Disney animated version. I love the music in this version, and I especially love that Belle is so into books! 

Do you like singing along, like I do ? Here’s a sing-along link for you.

8. Rachel Green and Ross Geller from "Friends"

I watched this show until the final episode, rooting and rooting for this on-again/off-again couple. The writers kept us waiting until that last episode, but I wasn’t disappointed.

9. Frances “Baby” Houseman and Johnny Castle from “Dirty Dancing”

This isn’t a story of enduring love, but one of young love and learning to be selfless. It’s also one of my favorite dance movies so I had to include it. 

On another side note, I love Baby's mom in this scene when she says (about Baby's dancing), "She gets it from me." :-)

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer  (Sarah Michelle Geller) and Angelus the Vampire (David Boreanez) from the TV show.

Talk about an odd couple, but it worked.

So those are some of my favorite fictional couples. Who are yours?


A hopeless romantic who, as a child, chose Cinderella for her Halloween costume about five years in a row, Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. Learn more at her website, or stop by her Facebook page where she occasionally shares tidbits about life and writing.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

By Reservation Only, #coverreveal, by Barbara Edwards #amwriting

Celebrate with me! 

I have my book cover for By Reservation Only with the Wild Rose Press. 

The publication date is undecided, but will be soon.

By Reservation Only is Book One in the Deerbourne Inn Series, an ongoing saga about the people who visit or live at the Inn. the stories vary from contemporary romance to historical romance, a ghost story and a mystery. and thats only the start.

I’m looking forward to reading all of them.

The Deerbourne Inn is in Vermont. a small town near all the area attractions. Do you ski? Fish? Hike? Like Fall foliage? Hunt antiques? There is something for everyone. 

Plan on visiting. 

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.

Amazon Author’s Page

Friday, July 20, 2018

Ever have one of those mornings?

                    Stepping into the kitchen this morning, I'm shocked to see I forgot to set up the coffeepot last night. It's an integral part of my 'heading to bed' ritual. It goes hand-in-hand with brushing my teeth. I do it so all I have to do upon rising is push a button. 

Scratching the side of my left knee, I pick up the carafe and step/stumble over the dog as I turn to the sink. I swear he wasn't there a second ago. His normally limpid eyes are filled with reproach. In his mind, I should be feeding him the moment I get up. Having to fix the coffee is a change in routine that is messing with both of us.
I get the pot going and quickly feed the pets.

I scratch the back of my neck.

I decide there should be enough time to start a load of laundry before the pot finishes brewing. I stuff dirty clothes inside, turn the machine on, and add liquid detergent. 
I stand there, squinting down into the tub as it fills with soapy water. Was that something glinting among the clothes? It disappears as the machine begins to agitate. 
I dismiss it as a figment of an under-caffinated mind.

I scratch my hip as the phone rings.

"Hi," I answer. Politely, I might add.
"You haven't had your coffee," My mother says accusingly and then hangs up on me. It's amazing how she can tell, with only one word, if coffee has socialized me for the day or not.
  She refuses to talk to me before I have a caffeine hit. I love (sarcasm here) how she makes it sound like I'm some addict that can't function without a morning cup of joe. Until my eyes have been opened with a coffee bean and water stimulate, she claims, I'm unable to carry on a sensible conversation. She also won't ride in a car with me until I've got at least 2 cups of caffeine flowing through my veins.

I scratch my thigh.

After pouring a steaming cup, I doctor it with a drop of milk and head to the shower. Naked, I find several new, red patches of broken out and bumpy skin. You see, the little slice of Eden I live on is bountiful in poison ivy, shumac, and oak. I find six new six chigger bites in a place I'd rather they not be.
I scratch at them. I sneeze as Queen Anne's Lace is currently blooming and I'm allergic. 

 Once clean, I look in the mirror and try telling myself I look rather fetching painted pink with Calamine lotion. I compound this lie by adding I'm much more Pink Panther and less Pepto Bismal Monster.

 The lotion does not stop the itching.

The tone for the morning has been set. So much so that, later, when putting fresh sheets on the bed, I stub my baby toe on the leg of the bed frame. And it hurts. My luck it's broken. I can see the tissue swelling and know I'll be limping for a few days.
I believe I hear the distant echo of bed frame designers everywhere  laughing sadistically.

I'm scratching and sipping coffee as my morning ends with the outbreak of WWIII.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me explain that these canine and feline hostilities are rooted in the fact I live out in the boonies and bought a new car last March.
 Stay with me here. 
Who knew that somewhere, somehow, someone decided it would be a good idea to use a soy based coating on new engine wires.

That's right. Just like in the Princess Bride, a R.O.U.S. (rodent of unusual size) took it upon itself to have a wire snack. Its gnawing caused over three hundred dollars worth of damage.

 Everyone said I needed a cat. I don't do things halfway.
So, last week, I took in two kittens. 
Here is Kif, the dog, seeing Calico Andie for the first time. As the internet suggested, I let the dog and kittens get to know each other through closed doors. When the dog is inside, the kittens stay in the guest bathroom. They sniff at one another through the space at the bottom of the door.
  As you can see, one swipe of Kif's Gene Simmons-esque tongue could drown a tiny kitty.

I call this one, Marley because, I think, she looks like gray, marled wool. I find I have to repeat this a lot. I guess it was a bad name choice as, evidently, most think her name is a drug reference.
 It is not.

This morning, before I've ingested my normal pot or two of coffee, I discover the kittens have Houdini-it out of the bathroom. 
Canine and feline sleeping peacefully. 
So cute. So precious.
I start singing the Beatles, "All together now."
Either my singing or grabbing the camera wakes them up. And, all h...heck breaks loose. At first, Kif frantically wags his tail. He thinks it's playtime and he's been desperately wanting them to play with him.
However, the kittens snub him. Marley rather rudely puts her hind leg over her neck and starts grooming. I tell her that, at the very least, she could have turned her back before washing those bits and pieces.
 Kif's feelings are hurt. He responds by barking and attempts to jump up on the tea cart. 
Backs arching, the kittens hiss and spit with adorable ferocity.  Which, understandably, Kif doesn't take seriously. I didn't either until Andie makes this weird growling sound that causes the hair on the back of my neck to prickle. 
Andie and Marley reward them for picking them up out of canine reach by puncturing my skin with forty tiny but razor sharp claws.
 I yelp. This inspires Kif to repeatedly jump against my side. I'm almost knocked over by the ramming force of fifty, sturdy pounds. 

I'm done trying to referee. I'm tired of scratching.

  Poor Kif is put outside. I tell him that, when the kittens are old enough to look after themselves, they will take their turn at being banished outside for misbehaving.

 Right now, the kitties are too little to be outside where hawks, owls, and turkey vultures patrol the skies looking for tasty little morsels. Yet, Kif is a pampered pooch and it's too hot to leave him out during the heat of the day. It's not like he doesn't have shade trees, a pond, and a spring fed creek to keep him cool. No, he stubbornly stays on the deck. He stares longingly inside and, somehow, manages to make me worry he'll get heatstroke.

I scratch as I reconsider living in the country. 
I reconsider being a 'pet' person.
I think I need a more robust coffee bean.

Oh, and when transferring wet laundry to the dryer, I found my reading glasses. I guess they slipped off my nose when I was loading the washer earlier and that's what I'd seen glinting among the clothes.

 All this and I haven't even been up for three hours.

author of paranormal romance
Keep up with what I'm working on at


Separate title novella written for Kindle worlds.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Helping a Friend by Alicia Dean

I met a new writer friend a few months back through my first cousin once removed, Michael. (I used to think he was my second cousin, until a comment on a blog post set me straight. Do you know the difference? I have trouble remembering, but there IS a difference J) But I digress… This writer, Tina Fausett, is Michael’s neighbor, and he brought her to one of our Friday Martini Club  get-togethers. I liked her instantly! She’s personable and lovely, and has quite an interesting past. Coincidentally, she had just submitted to The Wild Rose Press, although another editor had her manuscript. I asked the editor if I could take over, and I did, but unfortunately, while her writing and her book are excellent, it wasn’t really a fit for TWRP. However, I encouraged her to self-publish. But, since the book left off on a cliff hanger, and since it was to be continued, and since it was very long (well over 100,000 words), I suggested she publish it in installments, making it clear that each one was ‘to be continued’ and setting a price of 99 cents for each appx 20,000 word installment, and releasing them 3 weeks apart.

She liked the idea, and we began working together. I am helping with edits, covers, uploading to Amazon and a little with marketing.

The first installment releases this Tuesday. It is not up for pre-order, but we plan to put the next installment up for pre-order with each release.

What do you think about an ongoing saga like this? I’ve been thinking for a long time that I would SP a soap-opera type continuing saga in this same manner, so this is good practice for me (if I ever get it written, after I write the two current projects that MUST get written soon!!). To me, as long as readers know it’s to be continued, they won’t feel cheated. Let’s hope I’m right! J

Tina is just now getting her Facebook page up and running. If you don’t mind, she’d love some likes:

Here is the cover and blurb:

A jealous, malevolent wife hooked on prescription drugs, a husband caught between reality and erotic fantasies, and an angel cast from heaven, are all bound together by their hatred for one woman whose spells and manifestations catch them in a downward spiral towards hell...Gina Faulkner, thought to be a voodoo queen, owner of Swamp Witch Pickles in New Orleans, is the center of it all.
Bane Colton, dangerous and cocky, sees Gina at the French Market and the game is on. He makes up his mind he's going to break the feisty redhead with the infamous kinky reputation, body and soul. And Gina's ready to be a player, until Bane’s estranged and demented wife, Beverly, wants him back.
Enter enigmatic Darsh, known to many as the Angel of Death, who’s watched over Gina since she was fifteen and has loved her almost as much as he’s hated her. Now they would come face to face. He could save her from certain peril, but could never save her from herself. Would she destroy them all? At the very least, a shift in the universe was coming.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

First Line Fun by Jannine Gallant

I know it's hot outside...all the more reason to think about snow! It's that time of year when the Roses plan their Christmas stories. We'll be posting them starting right after Thanksgiving weekend and wrapping up at Christmas, and we need your help. We have 13 first lines written anonymously by our authors, and we need to narrow the field to the most popular choices. Every story will begin with the same first line. If you could please leave a comment with your top two choices, you can help determine the fate of our stories this year!

Here they are in no particular order:

1.     “I can’t believe you did that.”

2.     The unexpected snowstorm changed everything.

3.     Oh no, not today.

4.     She peered through the snow-spattered windshield at the neon sign and hoped like hell there was room at the inn.

5.     I’ll take the shoes.

6.     She was skipping Christmas this year.

7.     How did that get in here?

8.     How could this day get any worse?

9.     She tugged the beard, horrified when the bright blue eyes watered and the cherry red lips yelped.

10.  “No presents this Christmas…”

11.  Playing Santa for one night would save her.

12.  Even Rudolph would have been grounded by the storm's intensity.

13.  And there it was--the perfect gift.

Thanks for helping us out!

If you're looking for a summer beach read that will give you chills, pick up a copy of LOST INNOCENCE at your local Barnes & Noble or download a copy at Amazon. Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Judging a Betsy Ashton

It is not true that readers don't judge a book by its cover. We do. Sometimes we buy a book because the cover is intriguing, exciting, mysterious. I have often bought a book because I liked the front cover and the back blurb. And as a writer, I know how hard it is to write the blurb to attract readers and not mislead them.

So, we are about to go to school on my psychological suspense novel, Eyes Without a Face.  I worked with a boutique publisher who has a cast of professionals on speed dial. I'm one of his editors, so I work with some of his authors to polish manuscripts.

I selected one of his cover designers to help give Eyes a spooky look and feel. We came up with this. I think we achieved spooky. The dark brown color wash added a hint of danger without being overt. We chose the hoodie because the killer often wears one when she kills. We went with yellow on brown in keeping with that color palette. So far, so good.

We needed a face in the hoodie. After adding a host of different images using PhotoShop, we came up with nothing that worked. Last summer, my DIL, who is a photographer, suggested we take a pic of her husband, black out the face, and drop in a set of creepy female eyes we'd found in open source photo galleries.

We thought we had a winner. The book came out to solid reviews. All but one. That one focused on the cover. The reader would have given me 5 stars had the cover been different. About the same time, I did a series of book signings and talks. I sent out 100 postcards with the eyes themselves on the front. Sales were good but not great.

Three events in a row taught me that the cover was wildly misleading. Not only did the cover not reinforce the salient fact that the main character, who is also the first person narrator, is a bloody female. Pun intended. She's a serial killer. She tells the story her way. She's unreliable. She lies. And the cover lies as well.

People asked what the book was about. I did a bit of research to see what readers thought. They gave me three different ideas about the connotation of the image.

OMG! No, the book is not about the Unabomber. No, the book is not about Jihadi John, the Brit who became the public executioner for ISIS. And no, the book is not about Trayvon Martin. I don't feel qualified to write about any of these three, particularly not Trayvon, whose tragic death touched me deeply.

Oh, what to do? Hire a different cover designer, of course. And, true to wanting a build up for the reveal, you'll have to wait until my next post. Yup, teaser that I am, you'll have to curb your inquiring mind for another few days. Giggle. I hope you like it.


Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max mystery series, Unintended Consequences, Uncharted Territory, and Unsafe Haven. She also wrote a dark psychological suspense novel, Eyes Without A Face, about a female serial killer, who unpacks her life and career in first person.