Monday, September 26, 2016

Here we go again ... maybe

When you read this, my town (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and my hometown (Vinton, Iowa) will be partly under water. Heavy rains north of town means the river flowing through both will flood. It's just a question of how much.

In 2008, it was epic. Our flooding rivaled Katrina for devastation and damage. No, you didn't read much about it because flooding in small and medium-sized towns doesn't make the news. It was as bad, though, relatively speaking. It's taken years to come back from it. The Performing Arts Center in Iowa City just reopened 2 weeks ago after being in temporary quarters for 8 years. The libraries and theaters and museums just reopened 3 and 4 years ago.

Now it's happening again. But we've learned a lot and the damage won't be as bad this time. Flood measures are in place at the buildings, parking lots are on the ground floor now and offices are higher up, and we know now which roads will flood and which won't (which we didn't know in 2008). The entire community has volunteered space, money, sweat labor, and support. That's kind of what we do. We dig in and get it done. It's great if the Feds help us, but we've learned not to count on them. Don't get me started on that.

This isn't a question of people living near flood zones (I mean, New Orleans: I'm sorry. You're below sea level. Yes, you will flood. Often.) Some areas that are flooding here are, for the most part, far away from the river. We lost a lot of homes and business in 2008 and they didn't rebuild in the flood plain. We put in green spaces and parks. Yes, some businesses will flood, but it won't be as bad as it has been in the past. Hopefully.

So keep your eyes on that news story buried somewhere in your newspaper or that 30-second sound bite on the national news. That's us, in the heartland. We'll come through it, but it would be nice if you folks out there would send us some positive thoughts and prayers. We'll probably need 'em.

J L Wilson

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Please join me in welcoming back a returning guest, Vijaya Schartz. Always a nice addition to The Roses of Prose.

It's always bittersweet to write the last book in a long, beloved series. I've been working on the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series for twenty years, off and on, including years of intensive research.

The myth of the ondine (siren, mermaid, silken etc.) is widespread in Europe. Melusine the Fae is an immortal, related to Morgane the Fae. Because she abused her supernatural gifts in childhood, she was cursed to become an ondine (water serpent from the waist down) on specific days. If the religious authorities learn what she is, they will hunt her down as an evil monster, and burn her at the stake.

In mythology, she represents the independent, knowledgeable and wise woman, the crone, the witch, the healer. She represents a threat to medieval society, who wants women to remain ignorant, modest, docile, and obedient. The religious order of the time also wants to suppress the influence of women, going as far as denying them a soul. Ignoring the taboos of her time, Melusine fights her oppressors and accomplishes much, despite their opposition and intrigues. She fights for justice, protects women, marries for love, empowers her men, builds mighty castles, forges alliances, and gives birth to powerful rulers.

Book 8 - ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN, scheduled for January 2017, will be the last in the Curse of the Lost Isle series, bringing Melusine's curse to its conclusion. Along the course of this series, Melusine first appears as a child in Book 2 - PAGAN QUEEN. She is then the main character in Book 3 - SEDUCING SIGEFROI, Book 4 - LADY OF LUXEMBOURG, and Book 5 - CHATELAINE OF FOREZ. Books 1 and 2 tell the story of her mother, Books 6 and 7 the story of her sisters. Find this series on  Amazon - Barnes & Noble

Previously, from her Luxembourg family, after marrying Count Sigefroi, Melusine gave birth to a line of powerful rulers who reigned in Germany, Flanders and Austria. Later in Forez, with Count Artaud, her initial success was soon crushed by mounting religious conflicts.

In the historical chronology, Book 8 - ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN actually takes place before Beloved Crusader and Damsel of the Hawk (already published standalones, portraying the other two sisters, and set during the Crusades). This last novel, however depicts the most well known legend of Melusine, the popular myth scholars have been studying for centuries... particularly in Europe.

This last book in the series is set in Lusignan, a town in Aquitaine, created by Melusine, according to legend. Lusignan is also the name of the powerful family she founded there, where she falls in love with Count Raymond, and gives birth to a mighty noble line.

Her descendants Guy and Hugh of Lusignan later became kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus during the Crusades. Another descendant of hers is the famous and infamous Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen, in France and in England. King Richard the Lionheart mentions more than once the stain upon his family, his dark ancestress through the centuries, the cursed one. That was Melusine the Fae, whose blood also flowed in Eleanor of Aquitaine.

But as a writer, I wanted to find the truth beyond the myths and the legends. I wanted to discover the heart of these characters. A series of facts does not a story make. Their indomitable passion is what drove them to extraordinary feats and brought their names all the way into this century. Unfortunately, at the time they were judged harshly. Remember that history is always written by the victors, and Paganism was crushed by Christendom. So it made sense that the Pagans of the time would be reviled in the official records, and presented in a negative light, even accused of horrible deeds.

In my intensive research for this series, I peeled off the layers of superstition to find the truth of these fascinating characters, and bring them to life into the light, with all their hopes and struggles.

I hope you will enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it. 


Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks -

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Down to the Wire #NewRelease by Brenda Whiteside

Penny Sparks has secrets that can ruin a presidential contender, got her family murdered…and mark her as the next hit. 

My latest book is set in Flagstaff, Arizona in December. The Power of Love and Murder is book four in the series. When I wrote it I didn’t consider making it a holiday release. Once I sent it off to my publisher, the idea came to me. The first response I got was a negative. I’d submitted the manuscript in June and April is the usual deadline for holiday submissions. Yep. Way out there. But I have this fantastic editor and with her prodding, we’re trying to get it done. 

By the time a book is released, an author has read her creation at least four times. Yesterday, I completed read number three. It was a marathon read in eight hours. Even though I’ve written and read it, I had to read it relatively slowly searching for any mistakes that have been missed. It’s not exactly enjoyable reading. 

I also had to choose an excerpt. This is the most hated part of the process for me. I have to scan the manuscript and choose a section that does not give away anything that would spoil the ending, but has to be enough to entice the reader. 

Wish me luck I get the editing wrapped up so I can make the release happen before Christmas for The Power of Love and Murder. See what you think of the excerpt I chose. Is it at all enticing or do I throw it back and go for another? 


Jake sank onto the bed, his mind reeling with her assumptions. “So, you think the senator—hired—an FBI agent to make the accounting woman disappear and to kill your family?”

“Yeah, I do.” Penny rose and paced in front of him. “And how do I know he’s involved? Westingly wasn’t a senator back then. But he must’ve had aspirations. He sold off the nuclear waste division and bowed out of the company to go into politics. And you know what else?” She stopped, her eyes wide, fists at her sides.

He swallowed deeply. “What?”

“Those two other people, Burke and Severing? The two that Angie thought were doing the embezzling? They both died within a couple of years of when Westingly resigned from the company and went into politics.”


“Burke drowned while out on his yacht, and Severing died when a car hit her while biking after dark. Hit and run. Accidents. Hmph. That means anyone who knew what Westingly did is gone.” Her chest expanded with a deep breath. “Except for me.” 


For thirteen years, Penny Sparks has managed to hide from the political powers who murdered her family. When she unwittingly exposes her true identity, not only is she marked for death, but the people closest to her risk meeting the same fate. 

Jake Winters is out of rehab and coming to grips with his demons. A woman named Penny comes on the scene, and Jake believes he has someone who can help him find life after rock star status…until her secrets blow up his world. 

With a government agent turned hitman closing in on her, Penny and Jake race to expose the presidential contender behind the murders of her family. Even if they win the race with death, the murder that stands between them could end their hope for a new life.

Visit Brenda at
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Friday, September 23, 2016

And We're Off On A Literary Adventure by Margo Hoornstra

As you read this, fellow Rose Diane Burton and I will be taking our act on the road. Literally. The road due north from our homes near the center of Michigan to the resort town of Alpena on the shores of beautiful Lake Huron.

Saturday, September 24th we’ll be part of the 2nd Annual Alpena Book Festival. Panel discussions we’ll participate in include When You’re A Michigan Author, Steps to Publication, Keeping the Spark Alive, It’s Out of This World and Crossing Genres. Between workshops during the day, we’ll also sign our books. (Crossed fingers and positive thoughts appreciated and accepted!)

Diane gets full credit for my introduction to the Festival she discovered in her on-line travels and initiated our attendance. Wish us luck.

In future posts, we’ll let you know how we fared and, more importantly, how and when we plan to do this again!
My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and my stories, please visit my WEBSITE



Thursday, September 22, 2016

It’s Time To Celebrate...Anything ~ by Leah St. James

It’s the middle of September, and the Halloween decorations and costumes have been out in my town since the first week of August...a full MONTH before the kids went back school! When I was a kid, we wouldn’t even think about Halloween until October, or maybe mid-September. But in today’s world of super-rushed shopping seasons, it was apparently right on schedule.

Of course, being the media-savvy author that I am,  I took a shot with my phone and posted it to Twitter. My caption was something like “REALLY, Halloween??? The kids aren’t even in school yet!!”  

If I was expecting a flood of empathetic rage, I was deeply disappointed. No outrage by fellow Tweeters. Not a peep!

Then I realized why. The world is okay with this.

In fact, only a week later, someone else posted a photo that somewhere, in some store in America, the Christmas decorations were up...half a month BEFORE LABOR DAY. (Geez...even when I’m ahead of myself I’m behind the trends!)

Again no outrage.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided it must be that we’re all so depressed about the craziness of the world, we grasp at any and every reason to celebrate...anything. My problem with rushing the holidays is that (for me) it takes away the special-ness of the day. (Not to mention, some of us need all the time we can get to mentally prepare for these big events. Let us...or me... be blissfully ignorant for a few weeks, would you?)

Besides, there are alternatives. No need to start decorating for Halloween in August. Every day, some organization or company or group is celebrating some event/group/food/idea that is deserving of your attention.

Take today, for example, September 22nd. According to website, there are no less than a dozen causes to celebrate today.

For one, it’s the Fall (or Autumnal) Equinox. Yippee!!! In North America, as we officially see less and less sun each day for the next several months, the temperatures will drop. For some, it will bring moderate temperatures, relief from a scorching-hot summer. For those in the north and higher elevations, it means it won’t be long before we see snow and ice and....ugh. Enough about that.

Happily (again according to that website), it’s also:
  • Business Women’s Day
  • International Day of Radiant Peace
    (which I believe is quite serious, so I won’t say anything snarky)
  • National Centenarian’s Day
  • National Elephant Appreciation Day
  • National Hobbit Day
    (birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins)
  • National Ice Cream Cone Day
    (not to be confused with National Ice Cream --in a dish--Day)
  • National White Chocolate Day
    (not to be confused with National Dark or Milk Chocolate Day)
  • Proposal Day
  • World Rhino Day, and....
  • World Carfree Day!
    (When I first saw this, I thought it was CARE-Free day. But it’s CAR-free...a day to celebrate getting from here to there without an automobile. ... Who’d have thought?)

There is also a day devoted to journaling, but apparently the exact holiday is copyrighted (really?) and I need the organization’s permission to even mention it. (I wish I had time to write and ask for their permission, but I don’t, so I’ll leave the actual name and its intended celebrations to your imagination. I’m would have been a good one for us writers to focus on.)

Oh, and if you’re looking for month-long celebrations, September is National Organic Harvest Month and National Piano Month.

So...if you’re already tempted to whip out your plastic pumpkins or (please, nooooooo) your Christmas tree, consider instead baking an elephant-shaped birthday cake for Bilbo and Frodo. Make sure you use organically grown and harvested ingredients which you’ll purchase by riding your bicycle (or maybe a bus...or even taking a stroll) to and from the local woman-owned grocery store.  And don’t forget the ice cream and cones while you’re there. 

During the birthday party, ask your favorite Centenarian to take a seat behind the piano to offer musical birthday wishes. (Everybody who’s a hundred years old knows how to play piano...right?) Maybe he or she can shift into some favorite Hippie peace tunes from the ‘60s. (Hey...I was around back then. I can poke fun!)

When the party’s over, even though we didn't hit every single holiday on the day's list, I think you’ll be holiday-ed least until September 23, which is:
  • Great American Pot Pie Day and...

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

Please visit her at her website or Facebook (where she loves posting photos and videos of her son's kitten, Hercules). On Wednesdays you'll find her on Twitter  sharing lines from her current Work in Progress for #1LineWed. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Breast Lump Biopsy by Barbara Edwards

My biopsy is scheduled and I’m nervous. Last time I was totally scared, but I know what to  expect today.
The hospital called and reminded me what to do.
Be thirty minutes early. Okay. I’ll probably be earlier than that. 
No deodorant, powder, lotion or perfume. Okay. Although I did take a shower and scrubbed.
Nothing except my medicine for  three days. No vitamins or supplements or blood thinners. Especiailly the Warfirin that I use to help prevent strokes and heart attacks. 
And wear a sports bra for extra support after the biopsy.

I am familiar with the check-in process. I’ve been here several times with my husband, not so many time for myself. Go directly to registration  and bypass the sign-in desk. Security has tightened at the entrance and all visitors need a pass to enter the hospital.I now have a wrist band and my husband a badge.
The mammogram department is on the second floor. 
There is a small waiting room and I noticed the women don’t look at each other or talk. I thinks the nerves are showing in a withdrawal from contact.
The staff is friendly. A technician escorts me to the changing room and hands me a garment. I think everyone is familiar with the robe that doesn’t cover everything. I wait again then walk to the biopsy are.
The table looks strange. it has an opening in the surface so my breast can lowered to let the doctor examine it. She’ uses lidocaine to numb the surface after they find the lump area with a sonogram. 
Music is playing and I’m relaxed. 
It doesn’t take long. I don’t see the needle or any of the equipment.
I don't know if I'll get a chance to finish this after my biopsy. I'm leaving for the hospital in a few minutes.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Rude Review Is Like Saying Her Baby Is Ugly

Authors love reviews. They help get our works noticed, we DO read them, and learn from them. However, please remember authors are only human and our books are our babies.

So you've read/or partially read a book that you didn't like. For some reason this has made you angry and you feel the need to lash what do you do now?

I hope you stop and think for a moment before you fire off a rude review. Take the time to list your objections...objectively.

Not long ago I received an e-mail from a fellow author. She'd received her first negative and RUDE review - on her debut novel. Understandably, this sweet, funny, smart lady was/is upset. She's also so embarrassed she asked me not to name her or the reviewer. 

Of course, I have to honor her request. Her reticence forced me to climb down off my white charger, to lay aside my mightily sharpened pen, and think things through. I began to understand her reasoning. Identities aren't germane to the point necessary to get across here. Secondly, I don't want to give any publicity to a reviewer who seems to relish in being hurtful and cruelly negative.

So all names and places have been changed to protect the innocent (meaning me and my friend). We will be referred to as writers/authors. And the not so innocent (hence to be known as the Rude Reviewer).

This is, I feel, a subject many authors can weigh in on as I bet it's happened to many of us. As writers, we understand the grim reality - not everyone is going to like our stories. A reader might object to our writing style, find our plots unrealistic, or hate our characters. I'm okay with that. My skin isn't paper thin. Sometimes, though, it isn't what is said as much as how it is said. Remember that old adage? 

It reminds me of what I always told my children. They were allowed to say anything they wanted to me but with the precondition it would be done respectfully. An early lesson on how to constructively temper their words. (No, at the time it didn't always work out well but my children have grown into wonderful and caring adults).

The Rude Reviewer, however, could stand to learn that very remedial lesson. Constructive criticism is welcomed, wholeheartedly embraced, by every author I know. It is the most important tool we have in our constant drive to improve our skills. 

The Rude Reviewer, however, doesn't stop at being just brutal with their opinions. They go over the line by using scorched earth tactics. It can never be necessary to negatively question a writer's intelligence or comment on their appearance. 

Though entitled to their opinion on any author's work that is all it - their opinion. They might unhelpfully dismiss the entire work as stupid and without redeeming characteristics yet there had to be something that made them pick up the book in the first place. They were drawn to the cover, blurb, or excerpt. 

Unfortunately, it didn't live up to expectations. Now if only they'd give a concise review while leaving out personal insults. 

I lost interest in this particular Rude Reviewer when she admitted she hadn't finish the novel. Her prerogative, of course, but I have read the book. It was quickly obvious to me that the reviewer hadn't read beyond the first chapter or so. If she had then she might have seen the bulk of her questions/complaints were dealt with.

Since it was obvious she didn't know what she was talking about, it made the majority of her criticisms less constructive and more insulting. A reviewer can't claim a character lacks redeeming characteristics if they haven't read the entire story. They don't know if the character grew. 

All that can be said is the reviewer didn't like how the character/s seemed to be in the few pages actually read. Anything else is dishonest on the reviewer's part. An entire book can't be dismissed as worthless and unreadable when only one brief glance was taken inside. Again it is well within the rights of a reviewer not to finish or even read a book. I've often set a book aside after only reading the blurb or a couple of chapters. For some reason or another (mood or taste in genre) the work simply didn't capture my attention. That is all I can honestly report if  called upon to give my opinion.

Remember this Rude Reviewer stated she hadn't finished the book. How, in such unnecessarily harsh words, did she think she knew enough to call the book's plot into question? She hadn't read far enough to see how the writer wove the story lines together. How could she call the characters one dimensional if she hadn't read far enough in the book to see if they were fleshed out? All this reviewer could have legitimately said is that she didn't care for the first twenty or so pages she read of an almost three-hundred page novel. 

What she did write seemed simply gauged to insult and hurt.

Within the first few sentences the Rude Reviewer's post dissolved into nothing more than a personal attack on an author she'd never met. My friend stated she felt as if not only  the book's parentage had been called into question but she'd called her baby ugly.

That made me laugh but it also got me thinking. Why would anyone tell a parent their baby is ugly? Maybe a winsome personality would change the eye of the beholder if they'd only looked close enough. So what pleasure/satisfaction does the Rude Reviewer get from being a bully? 

I wonder if most Rude Reviewers have ever attempted writing a book? If so they have to know  each page carries pieces of the writer's heart and soul. 

The story is obsessively nurtured from the moment of conception. Once those pages,  so viciously dismissed by the Rude Reviewer, were only a tiny spark in the author's mind. It was the very beginning of creation when cells began to split and reform until the first pulse of the fetal heartbeat was heard. The idea slowly grew into a story line. Only when formed enough, viable enough, did the author cautiously opened a new file, stare at the blank page, and begin to type. 

With that first intro sentence came the acceptance the author was indeed pregnant with book. The fetus grew to term as each scene and plot device was struggled over with a fierce desire to get them just right. Research, verifying facts, and sweating over sentence structure commenced until the bare bones of a story could be seen. Finally the skeleton began to flesh out, stretching into a torso with tiny arms, legs, feet, and hands. 

Characters were equally nurtured. Encouraged to grow while the author struggled to maintain some sort of control over them. The writer sat in front of the computer screen until their eyes blurred and the coffee pot ran empty. Hearts swelling when the story developed into a cohesive beginning, middle, and end. 

An author never forgets when those last words are written. That's when the true labor pains start. The book is born as the story concludes. Then comes home schooling. A brand new phase starts as the story's continuity, verbosity, and every comma is edited. Until all is crafted to the best of the writer's ability. Then it's time to face the excruciating next step. It's time to send their baby off to finishing school. 

It's a leap of faith. Trusting our babies to the scrutiny of unemotional editors, copy editors, and beta readers. By the time a book reaches market it has been read and re-read repeatedly. Each word dissected and weighed. 

Yet the author isn't offended by any negative feedback from these professionals. Even pointed remarks are made with the purpose of education and never to offend. All desire to improve the end result. They want to help our babies grow.

Only then is the diploma offered. Contracts are signed. With pride and joy shining on each freshly printed page, these published babies are sent out into the world.

The author watches with maternal anxiety and pride. Hearts were laid bare in the hope of connecting with a reader. The sincere desire that someone will get a few hours of pleasure from our imaginations. 

And then some Rude Reviewer, who hasn't even had the decency to read the entire work, decides they know enough to dismantle and demolish the entire thing. Their hateful words nothing more than an attempt to annihilate all the effort by smearing the author's abilities, education, and appearance with acid-laden words. 

This is what happened to a very talented woman. She is now second guessing her talent -which she's got heaps of - and has been left feeling her best wasn't good enough.

Let me say once more that I'm all in favor of reviews, and they don't have to be glowing. Though, of course, those are always nice to receive.

Before purchasing a book (and most certainly with my own work), I read the reviews - good and bad. I appreciate and take to heart those filled with useful and well thought out comments. For me, those giving detailed examples are most appreciated. I admire a person who succinctly states their opinion and tells me where they think I could have improved the plot or a character. All without dissolving into a rant about how they can't understand how an author got published in the first place. If they sink to the level of making a snide remark about the author's photo, it taints everything else they've said, and I immediately discount their opinion. 

Since when does an author have to be of a certain age, weight, or level of (what mainstream media considers) attractiveness to write romance or love scenes?

So to those who've received a rude review - it was meant to derail self-esteem so don't let them succeed. Some reader might actually purchase your book just to see what all the negative fuss was about.

Don't take to heart someone else's pathological need to tell the world they think a baby is ugly. Remember, the Rude Reviewer gets some sort of sick pleasure in denigrating others or they wouldn't do it. I doubt they'll ever go away so all we can do is ignore them. Focus on the helpful, the balanced, and constructive reviews. 

But doesn't it make you wish you could see the Rude Reviewer's baby...

REMullins: author of It's A Wonderful Undead Life, Vampire In the Scrying Glass, and A Vampire To Be Reckoned With

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