Thursday, November 26, 2015

This day

Take a deep breath and just be thankful.

I, at least, think about this a lot. I'm in a country where I am safe (mostly). I am free to choose my own career. I didn't have to be worried that I would be married off to someone. I had a childhood free from anxiety or fear or pain. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and spending money. I have clothing, free time, and choices.

Read any news story about refugees and war, and just stop for a minute and compare.

Just be thankful.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Roses and Readers, please welcome Sharon Struth. Read on and be entered to win in her drawing.
The whistle-like shriek of my eight-year-old daughter’s recorder traveled throughout our house.

I stuck my head inside her bedroom, where she stood ready to blow out another note. “Will you be playing that for long?”

She nodded. “Mr. Arcano said to practice.”

“Oh. Okay.” Up until that afternoon, I’d never heard of a recorder. The woodwind instrument, popular during medieval times, is now used because it’s easy to teach.

Later that day, the so-called music suddenly stopped. My daughter walked into the kitchen where I fixed dinner, her sour expression a sure sign of a problem.

“What’s the matter?”

“This thing is hard.” She plunked the recorder on the table and wiped away a tear. “I don’t want to play it any more.”

“Honey.” I took her little hands in mine. “Learning how to do things well isn’t always easy. Do you think musicians just pick up an instrument and play perfectly? Or painters paint without trial and error? Of course not! Getting good takes hard work. Listening to feedback. Learning from our mistakes. And above all practice.”

So she did…

For several weeks, if she wasn’t eating, sleeping, or doing homework, that recorder was stuck between her lips. But then a funny thing happened….

She turned into a darn good recorder player!

It’s so easy to dispense advice to the little ones, isn’t it? But when it comes to us grownups, we usually want things fast and failure isn’t an option.

But an article I recently read showed proof that failure is part of learning, in fact better quality resulted when people were allowed to fail.

When I made a mid-life career change and pursued work as a writer, the words I once preached to my daughter returned.  I wrote, wrote, and wrote. Then I’d submitted to anyone who’d have me. Guess what? I got many rejections from agents and editors. Contest critiques left me shattered.

Trust me, I wanted to go “wah-wah,” and even did at times But after a brief pout, I accepted my failure and listened to the advice. I kept at it.

I wanted a novel I was proud of, so I pushed aside my first book after more rejections by the pros and didn’t rush to self-publish. Instead, I started a second book, one that turned out even better and found a publishing home. I’m glad I left that first novel behind, because I realized later it really wasn’t good enough.

In other words, without failure, I wouldn’t be the writer I am today.

How do you feel about failure? Does it inspire you to get back up and keep going?

Sharon Struth writes books about life, love & a little bit more. Her work can be found at

COMMENT BELOW and be entered into a drawing for an e-copy of her latest release, Twelve Nights, A Blue Moon Lake Christmas Novella.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thankfully Charmed (in spite of my husband's opinion)

This time of year, people want to know for what are you thankful. The first thing that pops into my head is family. Although my maternal and paternal grandparents had rather large families, seven children on both sides, my immediately family is small. I am one of three children and each of us had one son. We’re small and close.

I tell my husband, we live a charmed life. He shakes his head; but honestly, I think we do. Not that we haven’t had our share of heartache, loss of loved ones, sickness, and financial woes. Cancer has taken parents from us. A couple of us live with conditions that flare and make daily life tough. We've known addiction and loneliness, too. The economy and bad decisions have caused some mighty lean times on both sides of our family. 

But we hang together, take comfort in each other, and come through with laughter. Laughter is a big component in our family. We laugh easily. I remember going to a Woody Allen movie years ago and the only people laughing throughout were my brother, sister and me. My mom, sister and I have taken a few road trips together. We can get lost on a Los Angeles freeway and laugh our heads off.

Each member of my family has been an inspiration for a character in my books...and not in the mushy, inspirational kind of way. My mom and dad are found in Post-War Dreams. My sister is the fun heroine in Sleeping with the Lights On. My brother has his part in the book I'm currently writing, The Power of Love and Murder. Some of my son's characteristics are found in the hero in The Art of Love and Murder. I guess I'm glad I have some real characters in my family!

My husband and I have recently ended another chapter of our life and as we begin the next, as of yet unknown, I know that no matter what life deals us, our charmed existence and loving family will be along for the ride. 

For what are you thankful?

Although she didn’t start out to write romantic suspense, Brenda has found all good stories involve complicated human relationships. She’s also found no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or suspense, all her books revolve around those two facts.

Visit Brenda at
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at
She blogs about writing and prairie life at

Monday, November 23, 2015

Life: The True Stuff Our Stories Are Made Of by Margo Hoornstra

Ever wonder what the world would be like if you were never born? In the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey got to see the impact he had on the lives of others. For the rest of us, we’ll just have to calculate our own worth.

As authors, never been ties right in with those what if questions that drive our stories.
Where would the romance genre be without the secret baby trope?

In my first book, Honorable Intentions, I got a lot of mileage out of the teenaged daughter of a single dad hero. She was the product of a one night stand, and I built an entire book—heroine and all—around his desire to take care of her. Keep her safe and in his life.

In another, One Fateful Friday part of the Saturday in Serendipity anthology, the hero is sterile yet he and the heroine come together to adopt two orphaned children. In that same book, a secondary character and her husband who can’t conceive, live their lives as foster parents.
It might be I come by these storyline ideas naturally. My own mother was an unplanned pregnancy BEFORE my grandparents were married. *Gasp* Back then, in the early 1900s, such a thing was frowned upon and then some. Though Grandma and Grandpa eventually married and had another daughter, my grandmother was actually disowned by her family for having and raising the child conceived out of wedlock.
But think about it in a real sense. If my mother hadn’t been born, I wouldn’t be here, nor would my children or their children or…well, you get the idea.
My how times have changed though.
Married with two soon to be teenaged children, moving steadily upward in my career, with money in the bank and empty nest on the horizon, I had my own unplanned pregnancy. For me, inconvenience wasn’t a sufficient reason to not have and raise the resulting twins. Long story short (ahem!) my life has been better for the choice I made.
To each his or her own, but you can see what I mean about how some events in life shape the events in our stories. Scads of historical romances have been, well, born, with the unexpectedly pregnant circumstance as the inciting moment that drives the protagonist into action and on to what we term the heroine’s journey.
Here’s another true life occurrence that has me thinking fiction. My husband’s maternal grandmother left two children in the old country, never to see them again, while she sailed to the new world and a new life. And where she subsequently married and bore then raised three more children. That’s a book I’d love to write someday. I even have a title in mind - Emma.
What would the world be like if you had never been born? Certainly something to ponder now and then, isn’t it?
The 11th and 23rd are my days to blog here at the Roses of Prose. For more about me and the stories I’ve written so far, please visit my WEBSITE

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thankful for those who serve ~ by Leah St. James

Barbara's post yesterday about the state of the world got me thinking....about the state of world.

Sometimes when I listen to the news, I wonder how I ended up living in a country that cherishes freedoms while others end up in countries with regimes that cherish oppression. I wonder what cosmic eenie-meenie-miney-mo game determines where each soul ends up. And I wonder how I got so lucky.

It is my good fortune, thanks to the determination and sacrifices of the men and women who founded the nation on the hopes of freedom for all.

Before you scold me for glossing over our own moments of shame, I haven't forgotten them, but that's not what this post is about. This post isn't about the politicians who have cut deals and terrible compromises over the decades to appease one party's ideology over another's. I can't change the past. I can only teach my children to do and be better and to try to be better myself.

This post is about those individual men and women who serve selflessly today, and about those who have laid down their lives so that I can live mine.

In my stories, I write about fictional heroes, and I get caught up in their make-believe worlds. In those worlds, the bad guys go away when my last page is written.

Not so for our real-world heroes. They can't just close a book to change the horrors of what they face. I don't stop to think about them, to thank them, as often as I should.

So this Thanksgiving while I sit at the table with my loved ones, I'll be saying a prayer for those serving around the world to keep us safe.

Just for fun, here's a compilation of some of those heroes. They make me smile, and weep a little. They make me remember all I have to be grateful for.

I hope you enjoy.

In this clip, country singer Toby Keith (a big, big supporter of the military) brings a young Army wife on stage to sing American Soldier with him, and to give her a nice surprise.

Here, singer Pink performs a beautiful ballad with her dad, a Vietnam vet, who also wrote the song. What a lovely moment.

In this one, the Cadet Glee Club of West Point performs "The Longest Day," written about D Day. It's long, but the beginning that features an audio recording of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, giving a pep talk to the troops, is so moving. I can't imagine what they must feel listening. (If you've never seen the movie, check it out.)

Wishing you and yours a joyous Thanksgiving, filled with the love and laughter of family and friends.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Worried by the events on the news by Barbara Edwards

I am worried by the events on the news 

I admit that the attacks in Paris have reawakened the fear I felt after 911. My heart was in my throat when the second plane hit the Towers. Then the Pentagon was hit and finally those on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Every hour brought more horror.

In the years since there are a number of people who don’t remember. They were too young, in a different part of the country or didn’t understand. 
It scared me to pieces when President Bush said this war would last for generations. .It turns out he was right. 

Our country, our soldiers will be fighting to keep us safe. The men and women in my family have served in the Navy, the Army, the Marines, the National Guard. I don't want to lose any of them to a terrorist.

I hope I’m wrong, but I worry about another attack happening here. 
So what can a person do?

If I plan to go to the mall, I pick a time when its not crowded. Crowds are prime targets for suicide bombers. 

In a lot of ways I’m lucky. Being a trained police officer, my husband is always aware of his surroundings. When we are in public he knows what’s happening. I depend on him. 
I always look for and locate where the exits are. 
I go to church but arrive as the service starts and sit near the exit. There are too many components of a religious war in this conflict. Several churches have already been the site of shootings.
Recently, there was a warning posted for parents of children. If there is a shooting, bombing, attack at your children’s school ,’Don’t go there!” These cowards are trained to have a second attack in place to kill the emergency response workers. Wait to be told where to pick up your child. I know this is a time filled with panic. Be safe.
Be alert when out in public. No one noticed the Boston bombers drop backpacks on the sidewalk. 
Get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Attacks have been stopped by return fire,
Notice someone who’s clothes look too bulky. A vest bomb is heavy.
Don’t be ashamed that strangers make you nervous. This is your commonsense working.
Don’t be embarrassed to call the police if you see something suspicious. 
Another thing I learned. Keep an emergency kit close. Have what you need to survive for several days if you're cut off.
I no longer think I'm paranoid. 

So what do you do to stay safe?

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

How Nice is too Nice? by Alicia Dean

For most of my life, I have been accused of being ‘too nice,’ which is a polite way of saying I’m a pushover. I admit, I find it difficult to say that two-letter word. As a result, a great deal of my time is taken up doing for other people. (Before any of my author friends think I'm referring to you and/or that I'm tooting my own horn, that is not the case at all. I get a LOT from you in return. I do not feel, in the least, that I am doing more for you than you are for me. I am blessed with the outpouring of support and help from my friends. And, my comments about my lack of ability to say no are definitely not bragging. I'm a bit of a doormat :/)

I’ll admit, sometimes when I say ‘yes,’ I end up resenting it. Those times are rare, but once in a while, it turns out that I feel taken advantage of. I end up working with authors over and over, almost rewording their entire MS in an effort to help them grow as a writer. Some of these authors either become needy and clingy and never figure things out for themselves, or they become demanding, difficult divas. However, the rewards far outweigh the negatives. I have also made some amazing friends and seen writers who have blossomed and realized their talents and actually learned rather than depending on me to guide their every step.

My inability to say no extends to more areas than the writing world. I can’t say no to my children (although I did when they were growing up. I’m not THAT much of a pushover. ;)), my family, my friends, or even strangers. I buy items I don’t want, attend events I’d rather not, take on projects I don't have time for, etc. But, the thing is, I really DO want to do things for other people. It makes me feel good, which is, perhaps, a selfish motivation, right?

I recall a ‘Friends’ episode where Joey is disappointed when he volunteers for a telethon, thinking he'll be a host, and learns he's only going to be manning the phones. Phoebe accuses him of having selfish motivations for being on the telethon, which disqualifies it as a 'good deed.'  Joey tells her that having the babies for her brother also wasn't a selfless act and that there are no selfless good deeds. She vows to prove him wrong. After every other attempt fails, she donates $200 to PBS, even though she hates the station and therefore wins the bet. But, her donation causes Joey to be the volunteer who breaks last year's record, and he ends up being on TV. Phoebe is happy about it, and once again, that nullifies her good deed as 'selfless.' Here's a clip:

(UGH...I really miss this show. Yes, I know, reruns out the wazoo, but it's not the same as having new episodes to enjoy)

So...what do you think? Is Joey right? Are there truly not any selfless deeds? Do have difficulty saying no? And, at 54 years old, am I doomed to be a pushover for the rest of my life? :)