We're taking a break from themes for a while. It'll be a smorgasbord of posts this summer. Your comments can help us determine what type of posts you'd like to see more frequently. We hope to hear from our readers often!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A New Release by Diane Burton

Has this been a busy summer for you? Wow. Has it gone by fast for me. Here it is the end of July already. I visited my brand-new granddaughter in Arizona in May. In June, it was off to Indy and then to St. Louis with my sisters. And next week, baby granddaughter is visiting us. Well, her parents are coming, too.

Amidst all the traveling, I finally finished The Protector, third in my science fiction romance Outer Rim series, and it was released last week. I've never written an older woman/younger man story before. Usually, I keep them close in age with him a bit older. Rissa is eight years old than Dillan. She's forty and considers herself way too old for the "kid" she met when he was sixteen. After a six-year absence, Dillan (now 32) has to convince her he isn't a kid anymore.

Besides the age difference between heroine & hero, this book has another first. I usually write light-hearted romance with action, adventure, and humor. While there are aspects of all that in The Protector, it is much more emotional than my other books, which made it more difficult to write. How can you have funny scenes in a story about human trafficking and stolen babies? There are a few to give the reader a break. In researching for this story, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about trafficking. Scary.


After tavern owner Rissa Dix rescues two girls from a slave ship, she must rally the townsfolk to prevent traffickers from returning. Mining heir Dillan Rusteran has loved her for years. Little do they know that by rescuing more children they're tangling with a trafficking ring that puts Rissa in danger.


Dillan woke up to a steady thump-thump-thump. Damn, the sublight engine was acting up again. He rolled over and almost fell out of bed.
Two things hit him at the same time. He wasn’t in the wide, comfortable bed in his quarters aboard ship and the thumping wasn’t his sublight. Thank the stars for that. Still, it had been acting a little wonky lately. He’d have to check it out.
After dressing and taking care of his needs in the small san-fac near the stairs, he ambled down carrying his boots in the event the big Zebori was still asleep. Although how anyone could sleep through all that thumping he had no idea. He followed the noise into the kitchen.
Rissa stood at the island kneading dough. Last night he remembered how much higher than normal the island was. She’d built it to accommodate her height. For a moment, he just watched her as she concentrated on the dough. Several lumps of grayish-brown dough sat on the flour-covered table waiting their turn. Even though he was a few meters away, the yeasty scent hit his nose and brought back memories of the times he’d been there before. And how much he enjoyed her company. Despite her treating him like a kid.
The dark haired teen—Pela?—worked alongside Rissa. She noticed him first. Panic crossed her strong features before she murmured to Rissa.
“Good morning, sleepyhead.” She laughed as she turned the dough she’d been punishing into a long, loaf pan. She picked up another lump and went to work on it.
Dillan yawned. “What time is it?”
“Almost Mid-Day.” When she looked up, she did a double take. “Your beard is gone.”
“It itched. When I find the barber, I’ll get my hair cut, too.” He ran his fingers across the top of his head. “It’s Mid-Day? Damn. I wanted to get an early start.”
Without stopping her kneading, she asked, “Early start on what?”
“Going into the mountains.”
“Did you come here to go climbing again?”
Grief hit Dillan the way it had for the past six years any time someone mentioned his former favorite sport. He hadn’t climbed since his best friend died in a freak rock slide. Or so he thought until a year ago.
Rissa’s dark eyes reflected guilt. She stopped working the dough. “I’m sorry, Dillan. I forgot.”
“Apparently, so did Konner.” He didn’t conceal the hurt he’d felt when he learned Konner was not only alive but had a family. “Turns out I was wrong about some things. I’ll, uh, leave you to your work.”
With her forearm, she wiped the sweat off her brow then went back to kneading. “Pela, you did fine. Turn that one into the next pan then get Dillan a cup of sheelonga tea.”
Pela eyed him with uncertainty.
“I can get it.” He sure didn’t want to upset the girl. “Mugs still next to the sink?”
Rissa looked surprised that he remembered. He remembered everything about her. She’d stayed in his mind after every trip from the time he was sixteen. Konner had teased him about being infatuated. Dillan knew it was more than infatuation. Especially after that last visit.

Buy links Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords

When Diane Burton isn’t blogging here on the 8th and 30th of each month or on her own site on Mondays, she’s writing romantic adventure stories that take place on Earth and beyond.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Nostalgia by Betsy Ashton

A few days ago I sat talking with a friend about raising kids today. We reminisced over lattes about how wonderful it was go be a kid when we were, well, kids. Imagine this setting.

Six kids ranging in age from three to seven lay in the grass on a hill and stared at puffy white clouds floating in a deep blue sky. Four bicycles and one tricycle lay scattered on the grass, along with a pair of clip-on skates. The girls wore shorts and cotton blouses with buttons, the boys tee-shirts and shorts. Each had ridden a bike or tricycle or skated over two miles from their neighborhood to hang out at a local park. They played a game of guessing what the clouds looked like.

Flash forward to today. Parents drive their kids to the park, bicycles and tricycles in the back of their mini-vans. Kids ride only on the path that weaves through the park, never out of sight of their helicopter parents. No child skates unless in a rink wearing the latest in shoe skates.

Kids no longer lie in the grass. "You might get bitten by a tick and get Lime disease." "You might get dirty." "All sorts of bad things live in the grass." "You might get bitten by a snake."

Don't even think about picking a blade, putting it in just the right place between your thumbs and blowing through the gap to make a whistle. "You don't know what pesticides the park groundskeepers used on the grass."

Kids wear hats and sunscreen to the point where little of the sun's beneficial rays ever strike skin. Heaven forbid a kid today gets a slightly crisped nose. No longer do peeling noses teach lessons about being careful.

Even at parks, the older kids don't look at the sky. They look at images of clouds on their smart phones rather that look up and imagine.

Kids used to be able to slide down metal slides and singe the backs of their thighs. They played on swings, trying to go high enough to feel like they were flying. Old metal merry-go-rounds spun kids until they were dizzy.

I don't know about you, but I grew up as a free-range kid. I skinned knees, got sunburned, fell off my bike and lost clip-on skates when I bumped along rough sidewalks. And I loved lying in the grass watching the clouds float by. They took me away from reality on magic carpet rides of my imagination.

Do you miss being a free-range kid? I do.


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, which is now available in e-book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A sure sign of summer

Here in Iowa, sure signs of summer:

Farmer Markets
bicycle riders. Lots of them.

Every year there's an annual bike ride across Iowa (RAGBRAI: Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). Details here. People can ride for one day or all 7 (Sunday to Saturday).

It starts on the west side of the state where the bike riders dip their front tire in the Missouri River and it ends at the east side of the state, where they dip their back tire in the Mississippi. They have a different route every year, and this year it's close to me. Like, in my backyard.

I volunteered in two spots, my hometown (Vinton), and near where I live (Hiawatha). It is so much fun to talk with the riders -- many of whom are from out of state, and many from other countries. The volunteer committee sets up fun events for the riders, there's live music, lots of food, camping, more food, and lots of beverages, adult and otherwise.

What happens when 10,000 people descend on a town that normally has a population of 5,000? Fun! A bit of chaos! And a really good time. People in town open their homes to the riders, everybody gets into the action, and the entire state follows along on television and on media.

I have thoughts to use RAGBRAI in a book plot sometime. Now if only I can get the energy to bike 492 miles in 7 days ...

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Please welcome Bernadette La Mazza to The Roses of Prose!

Twenty years ago I had just started college in Virginia and was writing novels left and right.  Some great, some downright awful, others exercises in the craft.  Rejection after rejection piled up but I kept at it.  In order to boost my dialogue I went back to one of my old hobbies – writing plays. 

It worked!  My dialogue got better and I got to see my plays put on in various theaters.  The best part?  Experiencing how the audience understood the play, their emotions, their responses; how the actors and directors interpreted what I put together and how they brought out the emotion of the comedy or drama – the connection.

Always up for a challenge I thought I would take a break from plays and focus back more pointedly on my novels.  It had been a couple of years, there were many manuscripts I’d written that were 75% completed or less, just not finished.

I got some requests for my next novel.  This time it was for a small dusty town, government intervention/conspiracy, two types of love – one with a friend, one with a lover, and a mission to Mars.  Sounds crazy I know, but it all ties in. 

The result?  My newest book: Secrets and Stones.  The first novel, since my break from plays. 

Two weeks ago I was given the opportunity to go to a conference in Nashville, Tennessee.  It had been over fifteen years since I had been in the south, having moved out to the southwest after college.  Being back there this week – enjoying the Country Music Hall of Fame, Hermitage Mansion and all that Nashville has to offer, and yes, learning some fantastic things from that amazing conference, felt like going back to college.  Going back to the time when I wrote novels and let the reader cuddle up with a good cup of hot chocolate or in the summer a sun brewed iced tea, and have the reader connect with the story, feel the emotion, and go along for the ride.

Funny how I finished my novel just in time to go back in time, back to the south.  Where in college, twenty years ago, I finished writing my first book. 

Funny how life is.

Bernadette La Mazza

Book Blurb:

Mona Duncan was content with running a youth dance academy in Nowhere, Arizona. Far from distractions, far from the chaos of the city, and far from everything. The small town of Cubre was the perfect place for her to focus on building a dance program and making it her own. The last thing she expected was to be caught up in the excitement of a local boy, Rowdy Johnson, done good - selected as the Commander for the historic mission to Mars.

Agent Sam Temple walked into Cubre on a mission. Find the stolen military secrets, destroy them, and get out of town. That was until he laid eyes on the intelligent and witty Mona. Duncan. How did one simple slip land her and her academy in the middle of a complicated web of deceit, greed and lies? Those simple stones set off a chain reaction that led all the way to Washington D.C.

Temple knows he can only locate the stones and destroy the secrets with Mona at his side, tough to do when she wants nothing to do with him. Will Temple locate the secrets before it's too late? Will the mission to Mars fizzle and fade? Leaving Mona stuck in the dust of the desert in a tumbleweed town. Nothing is at it seems where there are secrets and stones.