Friday, October 9, 2015

Why Oh Why Did I Do It by Brenda Whiteside.

Have you ever done something and wished you hadn't; wished you could have a total do-over. I don't normally enter contests, but I did. My publisher sent me an email about a contest, and it seemed like a good idea. A contest based on readers' votes. But...the main problem with this kind of contest is getting the word out, and that turns it into a shout and beg kind of thing. So, why did I do it? No idea. Southwest of Love and Murder placed second in a contest before it was published. It was the typical contest judged by a panel of judges and editors. My mother-in-law used to say "there is first place and no place." I guess I felt the need to try once more for first place since my second place really doesn't mean much.

That main problem I stated before is now making me cringe. Asking for votes...just feels wrong. So this will be the last time I mention it. One more stab, publicly, not aimed at anyone in particular. That's it. And since I'm up against some more well-known authors than yours truly, I have no expectations, and can forget about it.

The Romance Reviews is where you go to vote. You have to register, but it's free and safe. Your email address will be confidential. It's the only way for them to monitor that you vote only once for a book. There are several categories. Southwest of Love and Murder is in the Romantic Suspense category. Below is the direct link to my book's page. Click on the blue box that says "Action-Adventure/Romantic Suspense/Mystery. Vote Now." I'm up against some tough competition. Thanks!

That's it. Now I'm retiring back into my isolationist stance of ignoring contests...I think.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Forget About Birthdays by Diane Burton

When I was growing up, my mom did her best to make our birthdays special. Since there were seven of us kids, we didn’t get a lot of individual attention—except on our birthdays. Mom made a wonderful orange chiffon cake with pineapple icing, all from scratch. We had candles and singing and gifts. With seven kids, money was stretched to the limit. So birthday gifts, while special, weren’t extravagant. My favorite gifts were always books. Nancy Drew ranked high. As I grew older, Mom would buy a special Sanders birthday cake with buttercream icing, ground nuts around the sides. Yum.

For my kids’ birthdays, I learned how to decorate their cakes using Wilton cake pans. They had Strawberry Shortcake and Raggedy Ann, Big Bird, even Darth Vader. It’s a wonder I didn’t get carpal tunnel from making little stars with canned chocolate frosting. We made a big deal out of their birthdays, just like my mom did. And my family reciprocated with Hubs' birthdays and mine.

So how did I spend my birthday this year? Babysitting the grandkids at their house. (A continuation of the week when Hubs and I had to get them off to school that I blogged about on the 30th.) Always fun, unless the five-year-old starts running a fever. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night. And of course, I couldn’t find a thermometer or children’s Tylenol. Eventually, I found a chewable pain reliever that in small print said fever reducer. Dad was at a medical conference and Mom was incommunicado at a camp without cellular service. But I managed. Thank goodness for Hubs who took care of the dogs (3 of them) and kept an eye on the kids—while watching football—so I could take a nap. Grandson is fine. Not so sure about his grandma. LOL

Prior to that adventure, I was treated to dinner by daughter and her family. And my five-month-old granddaughter sent flowers from Arizona. Very clever girl. According to her dad (our son) they’re going to have to keep an eye on her. She took a credit card from his wallet and went shopping online. She even wrote the loveliest letter. As I said, very clever for a kid so young. <g>

I love the celebrations. Most years, they extend nearly all month with lunches out with my sister and girlfriends, cards and phone calls. When Hubs asked the perennial question “What do you want for your birthday?” I said I wanted to go up north to see the colors. Surprisingly, he said he was going to suggest that. After forty-three years, I guess we know each other.

The only fly in the ointment is that I’m a year older. Yuck. Mentally, I’m still in my twenties. Thirties, maybe. My body tells a different story. Oh, to have the energy and enthusiasm of those earlier days but the wisdom of age. I’d tell my younger self to enjoy the moment. Not to always rush through whatever I was doing and to stop looking toward what’s next. Just enjoy the journey.

So even though I started later than I should have, I’m enjoying the journey.

Diane Burton writes romantic adventure . . . stories that take place on Earth and beyond. She blogs here on the 8th and 30th of each month and on Mondays on her own site:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My favorite season? Autumn by Barbara Edwards #TWRP #MFRWauthor

Barbara Edwards
I love Autumn. The cool nights, Indian Summer, pumpkins and trees cover with rich colors combine to prepare me for shutting down for the winter.

Did you know its not a true Indian Summer unless there is a killing (black) frost first? As a kid I thought the warm days meant those lazy days were back. Only the water was suddenly too cold to swim.

My neighbors had the fire department send over a crew when they burned the hillside behind their house. The idea was to get rid of the leaves piled high under the trees. 

The scent of leaves burning is one of my favorite memories. My Dad would rake up all the leaves in the yard and pile them. We’d jump in the pile for hours. By the time the town came to collect them they were squashed into a tiny heap. lol
Pumpkins were cheap and each of us got one to carve for Halloween.

I can’t believe I managed not to cut off a finger with the huge kitchen knife I used. 

This was when the days shortened. Night came before dinner. We played hide-and-seek in the cemetery next door until Mom called us home. Scary fun.

Mom made our costumes for Trick-or-Treating. Princess, hobo, clown, I don’t remember the rest. 
A gang of us went from house to house. In our small town it was hard to go where we weren’t known. Something not so common now. 
One Halloween it snowed. Another it was so hot we had to wear shorts under our costume. 
I’ll never admit to throwing an egg at a boy’s house because I thought he was cute.
Hope you have good memories, too

My new Christmas Story, Dixie's Gift will be released soon. A lost puppy, a lonely widow, a confirmed bachelor trapped by a blizzard. Can they find Dixie's Gift?

Please follow, friend or like me. 

Amazon Author’s Page

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Favorite Villains by Amber Leigh Williams

Last October, I counted down my favorite monsters. This year, I decided to do something similar and just as fun – counting down my favorite villains!

There are different categories of villainy: 1) Villains I love to hate, 2) Villains I somehow wind up rooting for even though I know I’m not supposed to, and 3) the villains that give me the serious, creep-fest heebie-jeebies no matter how many times I read and/or watch them….


Jane Austen Antagonists…
Lady Jane is great at many things. You hear much about protagonists like Lizzie and Darcy, Mr. Knightley, and Miss Elinor Dashwood, among others. You hear even more talk about her revolutionary style – the wit, the irony, the dialogue. Those are the things that keep us coming back to her novels time and time again. But one of my favorite things about a Jane Austen book? There will always be that one character (or two…or three) that I want to rap over the head with a walking stick. Chief among these is Lady Catherine de Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice. While the main antagonist of the book is the manipulative Mr. Wickham, Lady Catherine runs a close second…with Mr. Collins and his winding rhetoric bringing up the condescending rear.

Dolores Umbridge…
While Tom Riddle comes to mind when anybody brings up Harry Potter villains, there’s another name that occurs to me and that’s Dolores Umbridge. Umbridge first appears in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At first glance, the squat little lady underneath the pink hair bow might not appear too threatening. Midway through the book, however, it becomes clear that Umbridge is another kind of villain altogether – that of the psychological variety. To say readers love to hate Dolores might be the understatement of the century.

The Queen of Hearts…
“We’re all mad here.” Indeed. But maddest of all might be the ill-tempered monarch who reigns the climax of Alice in Wonderland. As a girl, I loved to hate the Queen of Hearts…even if I sometimes chased my little sister around with a red crayon yelling, “WHOOOOOOO PAINTED THE ROSES RED?” Looking back, it’s still easy to hate the Queen of Hearts. She’s pretty much just a brat in big girl britches with a penchant for beheading her own subjects.

Cersei and Joffrey Lannister…
Technically, Cersei and Joffrey from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (otherwise known as Game of Thrones) series count as two separate villains but seeing as one went a long way toward creating the other, I thought they’d be best lumped together. The character of Cersei Lannister steps onto the scene as the stone-faced yet beautiful queen of Robert Baratheon. However, readers soon learn she’s an incestuous adulteress whose children, Joffrey included, are the byproduct of her relationship with her twin brother. She’s the grand architect behind her husband’s death and Joffrey’s rise to the throne. And that’s just the first book. As far as Joffrey is concerned, the apple doesn’t far from the tree. The tree and the apple are both rotten, by the way, and pretty much beyond redemption.

Dimitri Chernenko…
The Bronze Horseman is one of my favorite works of historic fiction. That being said, I spent much of the book wishing that the character of Dimitri who serves as both friend and foe to hero Alexander would find some way to disappear. It’s not often you see a coward as a villain. Dimitri uses what he knows about Alexander’s past to blackmail him to get him out of Russia. He shoots himself in the foot to avoid combat. He parades the heroine Tatiana around under Alexander’s nose (knowing the latter is in love with her yet is unable pursue his feelings for her). What becomes of Dimitri is almost disappointing in lieu of what readers WANT to happen to him by the end of the book. Personally, Dimitri is a character that is easy to hate because he’s terribly realistic.


Severus Snape…
Another Harry Potter antagonist. The books are written almost entirely from young Harry’s perspective. Because of that, the sneering, hook-nosed Potions master is tragically misunderstood from the onset of the series up to its near-completion. Not that he helps matters much. He antagonizes Harry for his lack of know-how in class. Also when you dress like a bat, continuously dock points from Gryffindor House and bemoan the hero’s resemblance to his mischievous father, it’s easy to get lumped into the bad guy category. Interestingly enough, Alan Rickman refused to play the character on screen until J.K. Rowling told him in confidence that Snape is actually a good guy in disguise.  

The Grinch…
His brain is full of spiders. He has garlic in his soul. He’s a mean one, but for those who’ve read How The Grinch Stole Christmas, it’s not hard to love this baddie. The king of sinful sots might ruin Christmas for those poor Whos down in Whoville. However, in one of the most beloved plot twists in children’s literature, he comes to regret his dirty deeds and grows himself a proper (termite-free) heart. It doesn’t matter how many times I read the book, I always root for that scurvy green Grinch.

The Wicked Witch of the West…
She started out as a static character in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but through the years The Wicked Witch has morphed into one of the most beloved villains of all time. All the lady wanted was her sister’s shoes. And Dorothy did drop a house on said sister. Even if you don’t love the original version of The Wicked Witch, it’s hard not to root for her in author Gregory Maguire’s Oz reboot, Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Maguire reveals the real story behind The Wicked Witch, AKA Elphaba. Bullied for being different from her peers, feared for the sheer magnitude of her magical gift, it’s easy to say that Elphie is just another one of those deeply misunderstood characters. (Maguire’s Wicked, of course, became a wonderful Broadway musical by the same name.)

The Joker…
“I don’t hate you ‘cause I’m crazy. I’m crazy ‘cause I hate you.” He’s absurd. He’s creepy. He does terrible, terrible things. He’s got a vendetta for Gotham’s caped crusader. Those who have seen Jack Nicholson's portrayal of The Joker, however, might have a hard time actually hating him. I don’t think I’ll ever forget sitting in a silent movie theater the night The Dark Knight opened and being absolutely riveted by Heath Ledger’s turn as the super-villain. The actor’s death should have foreshadowed the film yet the performance spoke for itself. As despicable as his version of The Joker was, it even made the audience laugh on occasion. A bad guy with a sense of humor? Twisted, yes, but difficult to loathe entirely.

Darth Vader…
Cue the John Williams overture. Darth Vader started out seeming like the typical, cardboard cut-out villain. But with The Empire Strikes Back, it became apparent that Vader’s character is a little more complex than all that. Now that Vader’s history as Anakin Skywalker (father to the Luke and Leia of the original series) has been unveiled in its entirety, we know that he is a complex character that with a bit of brainwashing and the influence of real series villain, the emperor, went from very good to very bad in a very short amount of time. Vader is rightfully redeemed in the end so we no longer have to hate him. And next time you’re nervous or lacking confidence in a social situation? Sing “The Imperial March” in your head while walking into a room. I dare you not to feel like the ultimate badass!

Captain James Hook…
Hands down, my favorite villain. Before the captain of the Jolly Roger was a kooky Disney character, he was (in the words of the man who created him, J.M. Barrie), “not wholly unheroic.” He might spend a goodly amount of time trying to kill a (albeit immortal) child. But the kid did feed his hand to a crocodile. Some interesting facts about Hook? He’s originally described by Barrie as “the handsomest man I have ever seen, though, at the same time, perhaps slightly disgusting.” Aside from the crocodile who pursues him, his chief fear is the sight of his own blood. He’s a master of diction and can play several instruments with skill. Hook might be one of the most re-created fictional characters of all time. I love Dustin Hoffman’s take on Neverland’s captain opposite Robin Williams’s Pan in the movie Hook. Though my favorite reincarnation of Hook might be that of Colin O’Donoghue in the TV series Once Upon A Time.


It doesn’t matter how many times I watch Spielberg’s film. That fish gives me chills every time. Sharks might attack humans when they need a nip, but they aren’t vengeful creatures. I know this. Yet when I hear that Jaws theme song and see that big, gray fin break the ocean’s surface, my heart starts pumping ninety-to-nothing. As far as thrillers go, you can’t beat Jaws. And you definitely can’t beat a classic villain like a blood-thirsty great white.

Injun Joe…
Even as an adult, Mark Twain’s Injun Joe gives me the creeps. As a child reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, it’s all-too-easy to get scared when Huck Finn overhears Joe plotting Widow Douglas’s mutilation. If that weren’t enough, he murders Doc Robinson in cold blood and frames poor Muff Potter for the crime. You won’t find a more sinister villain in children’s literature.

J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series features a merry-go-round of chill-inducing villains, not least of which is the ultimate, omnipotent baddie himself, The Omega. The villain that gave me the willies, however, didn’t surface until midway through the series when the character of Lash took a turn for the worse, going from simple-minded bully to heir of The Omega himself. Maybe it’s because I love the character of John Matthew so much, but in Lover Mine when Lash’s deeds go from bad to worse to…even worse than that, I need the light on the keep reading.

The Man In The Green-Feathered Hat…
One of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading is Robert R. McCammon’s Boy’s Life. Like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, Boy’s Life cannot be classified by one genre alone. It’s a thriller. It’s historic. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s real. It’s fantastical. It’s tragic, lyrical, ironic, humorous… Summed up, the story revolves around a 1960’s small town as seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Cory Mackenson. In the first chapter, Cory and his father witness a murder. Cory then sees the silhouette of a man in a hat with a green feather, the unidentified murderer, watching from afar. The man disappears but the hat reappears throughout the story, haunting Cory and his friends and leaving clues for them to unravel the mystery behind the crime. Like Injun Joe, this mysterious villain is just as creepy from an adult’s perspective as it is from young Cory’s.

Black Jack Randall…
Speaking of Outlander… Aside perhaps from Hannibal Lecter, there has never been a more despicable literary foe than Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. A sadist by definition, he leads by instilling fear in his subjects and becomes obsessed with the protagonists of the book, Claire, and her husband, Jamie Fraser. Using his rank as an officer as well as his status as a gentleman to hide the more loathsome parts of his personality, Black Jack molests both the bodies and minds of his victims. Suffice it to say, there’s no redeeming this bad guy. If I had the choice between facing down a hoard of zombies or Black Jack Randall…I’m pretty sure I’d pick the zombies….

There you have it, readers! My Halloween-inspired Favorite Villians list! Now chime in with your own. What villains do you love to hate, what villains do you root for, and what villains would you never hope to meet in real life?

Follow my virtual book tour for my latest Harlequin Superromance novel, His Rebel Heart, all October long! Find more details on my website at!

Monday, October 5, 2015

A New Release - Happy Birthday to Me! by Alison Henderson

Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm celebrating! After two long years, I have a new book out. Small Town Christmas Tales is officially released in both Kindle and paperback versions. Woohoo!

Fellow Roses of Prose, please take a bow. This book is dedicated to you, because without your support and inspiration, I never would have written it. I've enjoyed our annual holiday short stories so much I wrote a whole book of them! Barb and Diane helped critique them, and Jannine edited the entire collection. It really was a group effort, and I'm very grateful.

The stories run the gamut from funny to poignant but are all warm and upbeat--like ten mini Halllmark Channel Christmas movies. I've set each story in a fictional small town in a different state, many in places I've lived or know well. I hope readers will make a connection with the settings as well as the characters.I had great fun inventing towns like Porter's Landing, MA; Hawthorne Springs, MO, Little Moose Island, ME; Black Bear Creek, CO; Cypress Cove, CA; and Hard Luck, WY. Who knows? One day I may visit some of these towns again in a full-length book.

If you've read the book, thank you! If not, and you want a little boost getting in the holiday mood, I invite you to check it out here. And, as always, reviews are most welcome!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Raising the Dead

What if we had the power to bring back the dead? I’m not talking about zapping someone with defibrillators and restarting his or her heart. I mean really raise a corpse from the ground and give it a second chance at life.

Necromancy, the act of summoning and reanimating the dead, is neither a new concept nor one that is looked upon favorably. The practice dates back to ancient Greece, Rome, and Persia and is most associated with the Black Arts. It was used as a method of divination, is mentioned in the Bible in more than one spot, and was used by occultists and magicians during the Middle Ages and Renaissance as well. Leonardo da Vinci was actually accused of necromancy in 1514 and brought to Vatican officials where his notebook pages and drawings on human anatomy were closely examined.

Some necromancy rituals involved sacrifices, blood-letting, protection spells, meditation, incantations, abstinence from sex, eating and drinking special items, and wearing certain clothes. Most rituals took place in cemeteries, with practitioners preferring to raise the newly dead because these reanimated corpses were thought to have fresher, more clearly spoken revelations. Actual necromancy called the spirit back into the dead body. When the ritual was over, the spirit would be allowed to leave the body again usually by staking the corpse’s heart, burning the body, burying it in quicklime, or eating the flesh.

Hungry? I didn’t think so.

So, even the raised aren’t truly brought back to life though, and they don’t get to have that full second chance. Their reanimated time is usually short and serves the purpose of giving the necromancer requested information.


I would love to see someone cheated out of life get a do-over, wouldn’t you? Imagine being young and vibrant, in the prime of your life, and by accident or sickness, you die. End of the road. You’d be pretty pissed. I know I would be. Especially if I hadn’t had the chance to do something truly important yet.

I believe that a big part of our purpose on this planet is to make a difference in some way. This can come in many forms from the grandiose gestures to the small ways we touch people’s lives. Each of us has a different contribution to make. No two of us will change the world in quite the same fashion, and that’s what makes it all so beautiful. We all have different gifts to share, and the most selfish thing we can do is hoard those gifts. Humans are a community-oriented bunch, therefore the Universe is demanding we interact, we grow, we help, we love.

And we need to do it before we croak.

Not trying to rush you or anything, but let’s face it, not many of us can put necromancer on our resume nor do we have the phone number for a good dead-raiser programmed into our cell phones. If we check out before we’re ready (and are you ever really ready to die?), we’re not coming back for another shot at doing it right. We only get this one life. We have to make it count. Every day. Every moment. No opportunity wasted.

I dabbled with bringing the dead back in my paranormal romance, ABRA CADAVER, published by The Wild Rose Press a few years ago. This is a good book to give a shot during October when you're feeling a little Halloweenish.

What do you think? Should we get a second chance if we don’t make a difference the first run through this life? Would you want one? What would you be willing to sacrifice to get it? Or have you already made a difference and have nothing to fear? 


Out NOW - More Than Candy Corn - A Maple Leaf Series Halloween Novella! Only $1.99!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Just Look at What They've Done to My Beloved Jane Austin!

Everyday I get an email paper called "Lit Flash." Typically, they show four or five books--some new and some best sellers--from many sub-genres of romance. I've been fortunate enough to have some of my books placed there. The exposure is nice. You can order directly from this paper; there's a link to Amazon. And I have done so a couple times when something caught my eye.

Something caught my eye and my stomach and my ire in today's issue. I mean, some of my days have started with my waking from slumber, quoting the opening paragraphs of this book over and over and over. Calvin quips, "Is it going to be another Jane Austin day?" So, to see this put my bloomers in a twist.

Here's the description of the book:
Author Lev Grossman, asks in Time, "Has there ever been a work of literature that couldn't be improved by adding zombies?" In this latest Pride and Prejudice adaption, Jane Austen’s classic is mashed up with zombies, and Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy are killing the undead in-between civilized verbal sparring and romance.  Adapted for a 2016 film of the same name, Booklist asks, “What’s next? Wuthering Heights and Werewolves?” With more than 14,375 five-star ratings, you’ll want to read this while you still have your brains!

Ladies, this thing is a best seller! I just can't get over it. And I know it sounds a little funny coming from a woman who writes stories about men in kilts who shift into bears, but...come on...this is Jane Austin. I hope fire ants build a nest in the author's nose! Not that I'm a vengeful person, mind you.

Although, I must say it's taught me one thing. I've gotten dinged pretty heavily on Goodreads because my heroines cry. Well, I cry. I'm a caring, sensitive person. Show me a picture of a sick child and my waterworks are flowing. So, yes, my heroines are often tender-hearted as well as tough. Yet, have Elizabeth Bennett chase zombies and the book gets over 14,000 five-star reviews on Goodreads! Blows my mind, folks. Never again will I get upset over a review there. In fact, I'm going to stop looking at them.

I know we write to entertain. Mostly, I like to entertain myself, although my editor often has different ideas in mind. She wants what's trending. And this old gal hasn't trended in decades. Amazing, isn't it? What sells and what doesn't? No one ever said this business made any sense.