Saturday, March 31, 2012

Guest Jude Johnson Tells Us About That Special Place...

One of the best aspects I adore about reading fiction is visiting places I have never been or may never see. So when I write, I want to transport my readers into the locales my characters inhabit or visit. That also gives me a marvelous excuse to travel!

Out of Forgotten Ashes, Book Two of my Dragon & Hawk historical Western romance series, travels from Tombstone to Tucson and San Diego of the mid-1880s. I know other writers who say they don’t need to visit a place to write about it, but it’s essential for me. I take photos and jot notes about smells, sounds, and how the very air feels. For example, there is a scene in Out of Forgotten Ashes when our hero, Evan Jones, meets with a woman he once called friend in a small park in what is now San Diego. They walk beneath an ornate trellis to a more secluded area to talk.

Trellis Arch, Harbor Park, San Diego (author photo)
This arch is what I visualized; the photo was taken in a small park on Shelter Island, which extends out from Point Loma along the western side of San Diego Bay. While Shelter Island was actually man- made in the 1960s, it was constructed outward from the peninsula at the historical location of what was then called Roseville, where my fictional park would have been in 1886.

Another place on Point Loma that figures prominently in the storyline is a special beach where Evan and his beloved wife Reyna sail to be alone. Around the southern tip of Point Loma (known as Cabrillo Point) is a beautiful beach facing the Pacific--just what I had in mind. In reality, it is part of the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University, below Young Hall, one of the men’s dorms. [As a personal note, this is my son’s residence hall. Poor kid has to really suffer, doesn’t he?] Of course, the buildings and such were not there at the time my story takes place; this area was wild and uncultivated in 1886.
Young Hall, Point Loma Nazarene University (Author Photo)
Tide pools below Young Hall (Author Photo)
Can you imagine the cold shock of the spray on sun-warmed skin as a wave crashes against the rocks? Can you smell the brine and hear the
gulls crying overhead? These remembered
sensations are why I feel so strongly about
visiting where my characters will walk. The
goal that I hope I’ve achieved is to make
those fictional places so realistic you’ll feel
as though you were there as well.

Blurb for OUT OF FORGOTTEN ASHES (Book Two of Dragon & Hawk series):
Evan Jones thinks his troubles are over in 1886. He’s married his love, the Mexican healer Reyna, and started horse ranching outside of Tombstone in the Arizona Territory. But tragedy strikes when least expected to nearly tear their union apart. Evan and Reyna soon face more than one phoenix rising from forgotten ashes of his past that threaten dire—and possibly deadly—consequences.

A young man with his hair slicked flat against his head, slender and lean in a server’s uniform, approached carrying a silver tray of crystal glasses filled with light, bubbly liquid. He allowed each of them to choose then silently glided to other knots of guests.

Evan lightly touched his glass to Reyna’s. “Salud, mi corazón.”

“Iechyd da, fy ddraig Cymru.”

He smiled at their exchange of languages, always their private flirtation. He leaned in close. “I hope I didn’t embarrass you, love?”

Her voice purred low in reply. “No, but you were about to embarrass yourself, dear. That visit was all Huw’s doing, I suppose?” She tasted her drink without looking at him.

“Yes, yes. Quite right. He and Dylan. Terrible bad influences, the two of them. And faro only for me, swear.” He smiled at her and straightened.

“You should invite the Earps to your next soiree, James,” Ephraim Morse suggested. “That would be most entertaining, wouldn’t it?”

John Sloane laughed. “But would we dare play cards with the man?”

Kindall held up his hand. “No. I’ll have no slick-fingered gambling gunslingers or wanton women in my house. Julia would be horrified.”

“James, where is your lovely wife?” Mary Morse looked around the room. “Have we missed her?”

Their host sipped his champagne. “Julia will be down shortly. She loves to make an entrance, you know. Oh perfect, here she comes.”

The group turned, following his gaze. A dark-haired, lithe beauty in an emerald green gown descended the curving staircase, holding a small boy’s hand.

Evan looked up, smiling. Suddenly the room constricted to the size of a prison cell, the walls moving closer and closer with each breath. His heart flipped and leapt. Every trick he’d learned playing faro kicked in to compose his face into a pleasant, blank expression.

The woman descending the stair met his eyes. Hers flashed in recognition for barely half an instant. Never pausing, she looked away and continued down the stairs, calmly smiling, graceful. She stepped off the last riser. James Kindall came to her, kissed her left hand, and turned, beaming, to face the group. “Ladies, gentlemen, my lovely wife, Julia.”

Time stopped. As did Evan’s breathing.

Velvet Ass Rose. Mrs. Kindall is Velvet Ass Rose. From the Diamond Emporium Saloon in Tombstone. The Madam who had hired me to deal cards. My friend--and former lover.

While I’ll be at a signing event in Tucson most of the day, I will pop in before I leave and as soon as I get home to respond to questions and such. I’ll randomly draw a name from everyone who comments for a free pdf of OUT OF FORGOTTEN ASHES. Winner will be announced on ROSES OF PROSE at 8:00PM (Pacific Time) on 31 March. Winner must then email me at and I will send them their prize on release day, April 2nd.
Jude Johnson

Buy OUT OF FORGOTTEN ASHES on April 2, 2012 from:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Growing Weeds

Gardening Month it is... and unlike my previous post which was rather meaningless, I intend to have a worthy discussion today.

Let's talk about weeds. If your yard looks anything like mine, the weeds are already lower-calf height and begging for a run-in with the mower. (Yours will probably meet that fate. Mine however, will continue to thrive until the tractor gets a new battery.) And you've probably begun the yearly ritual of plucking unwanted shoots, laying out your garden or flower bed, and perhaps sowing a few seeds.

I wish you the best of luck. My thumb is dirt brown.

But there are some weeds that warrant discussion. Those found in writing and in the garden on your computer.

These weeds are called... (gasp!) ideas.

I've had many recent conversations with authors, both published and unpublished, that involve the general topic of idea overflow. We all have wonderful ideas, stories that pull our focus one direction, but really aren't going to lead us anywhere except for, perhaps, a great writing journey.

Note, I'm not talking about active pursuit of a different subgenre. I'm talking about that random idea that hits out of nowhere that we all know is something we shouldn't spend energy thinking about. Case in point -- I'm often struck with YA ideas. I have to force them aside. I don't write YA. I don't want to be a YA author, and all other things aside, I have no idea what the technical specifics for the genre are. So, while the idea may be way cool, the amount of time it would take me to put together that idea, into something workable, would eat up the time it would take me to write likely two books in something I already do.

So I'm encouraging all of you to sit down and look at your garden. Look at what seeds you have, what shoots are growing, and give some thought on plucking the weeds that might look pretty but are really a nuisance. (Like my damned ivy.) Focus your energies on what truly gives you the best opportunity while satisfying the craving of your heart.

Crafting that uber-cool idea might be fun as all get out. But if you have to relearn everything you thought you already knew, chances are your time is better invested on a new idea in your currently sown row.

At the same time, if you're stuck in between on one of these publishing plateaus (translation, your genre isn't selling), look at those seeds yet to be planted. Is it time to take the momentum of spring, the season of life, and perhaps put energy into something new? Is it the season to make a change?

As for me? I'm going to go on ignoring my YA muse and keep on telling myself, "Maybe when the demidemons are older and I can relate to the teens." Meanwhile, I'm looking at some older projects that I wrote in my current genres, analyzing the time required to polish them up versus the time required to write something new, and plucking those weeds. I'm also planting a few flowers by reviving my very first writing project. I'll continue to nurture the saplings that are growing -- The Templars, the Black Opals -- and spend more energy on making these shine better than the one before.

In between... I'm checking my email for some news about a brand new plant that I hope will have deep roots.

So... what about all of you? Are you weeding or sowing already planted seeds?


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pondering the Deeper Meanings of Romantic Fiction

By Glenys O'Connell
If you're reading this, the chances are good that, like me, you're a fan of romance books in one or more of their many forms. But have you ever really thought about what these romantic stories mean to you? I've been thinking about this a bit recently – yes, my mind does tends to wander off at these strange tangents.

The conclusion I came to is that romantic fiction actually fills some very basic needs for us. For example, no matter what your age, gender, creed, ethnic group or sexual orientation, the odds are pretty good that you want to be loved and to love in return. A simple, basic human need.

In romantic fiction, our heroines  long for a soul mate, for someone in sync with her thoughts, feelings and desires. No matter how modern and competent a woman may be, she looks for someone who will be her protector, who will guard her in that vulnerable time when her children are young. Our heroes seek to have that part of themselves fulfilled, too. The Ying & Yang, if you like – that want to be a hero to that special someone whose very touch makes them dream of a forever kind of relationship. Even if that thought has terrified them before!

We all have a deep need to be the centre of someone's universe, someone who will be faithful exclusively to us. It's called true and lasting love, and that's what we find in romantic fiction.

But humans aren't the only creatures on the planet who feel this need. There are many species that mate for life, who live in communities where exclusive couple relationships are the norm.

Those included in that list may surprise you. After all, who would have thought termites were romantic beings at heart? And Gibbons – well, you might not fancy them, but believe me, there's a special someone for each of them, too. That great Canadian icon, the Beaver? Yep, he and she dream of a long life together in their cosy lodge. Black vultures certainly aren't on the list of the most attractive critters, either, but they, too, long for a committed relationship with a significant other. And you'd go a long way to find a more committed pair than the Alpha wolf and his Alpha mate.

Lots of people dislike crows – through the ages they've been accused of everything from witchcraft to feasting on dead bodies on battle fields. They've been killed mercilessly; in some countries their pathetic corpses have been hung on the fences of farm fields in the belief that this would warn other crows away.

Not so – crows mate for life, but they also have a wider family and community life. When a crow dies, his family and friends join his mate by the body and mourn his loss. Imagine their pain when they see their friends and loved ones killed so pointlessly.

Some of these animal and bird lovers have a special place in our hearts. My favourites, the Canada Geese (I've talked about my feelings for them before in this blog!) take on one partner only, for life.

And perhaps the most famous of all is the swan, a handsome bird, protected by the British Crown and in many jurisdictions - although it was once considered a feast fit for kings!

There's a wonderful song about two swans, and there are versions by John McDermott and by Christy Moore. I warn you – it's a real tear jerker! My DH sings it and it's guaranteed to have our two daughters in tears almost before the opening notes have sounded.

Here is an excerpt; you can read the rest by either John McDermott or Christy Moore – that's if you want a really good weep!

…a dark day in November With the searing cold that starts Stalked the hunter with his bow And put an arrow through her heart
"Husband come to my side And let your feathers warm my pain For I feel I will not spend Another day with you again"
And the cold winds blow He was brave but he laid low By her body in the Isle of Mist I saw her give him one last cold kiss One last cold kiss
Now swans like people Talk of only one in this life take Though they brought him 20 ladies He would take no other bride.......

Now, I’d love to hear your comments about why you read romance, and what gives you the most satisfaction in their fictional relations.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest Julie Eberhart Painter Talks About Raising Gender-Neutral Children

And just when we thought it was safe to go out in a dress…
Julie Eberhart Painter

By Julie Eberhart Painter
“Mothers don’t let your girls grow up to be cow…PERSONS?”

If families encourage this gender neural inspiration—the latest fad— where does that leave us writers of romantic fiction?

Bob and Rae will be Bob and Ray? Or worse, Bobbie and Rae. It boggles the mind.

Unlike many flash in the pan ideas that have caught on, I hope with all my heart(s), cups, pens, tarot cards, stars and books that this notion of children choosing their genders dies faster than the Pet Rock.

But if that fails, should we romance writers yield to the current wisdom/cliche, get on board, go with the flow—ugh! We’ll have to rewrite Romeo and Julie-it? Daphne and Cloe-sit, or Tristan and Assaulted!

As the mother of three adult children, I watched my kids pick their gender from a clothes closet appropriate to their sex. Yet we have one of each. No one forced the children to consciously select a gender for their future. We dressed our girls as girls. One loved dresses. One hated dresses. Our son embraced baseball uniforms, and girls.

Our gay daughter owns her own accounting firm. She was 24 when she came out. It was new for us. We did not encourage it or discouraged it. Superimposing that kind of decision or indecision on children is a form of abuse.

Our oldest daughter is as feminine as it’s possible to be, and she, too, is a huge success in business. She and her husband (a newspaperman) chose not to have children.

Our son is a hard-working, girl-chasing, bike-riding chef. Wherever he lands there is good food and great wine, usually provided by—you guessed it—the accountant who is paid in wine, cases upon cases of wine, for recently laying a vineyard to rest. Travel to these soirees is provided by—right again—the businesswoman’s frequent flyer points.

Fads are a bad idea when it comes to raising children, just as they are a bad idea when it comes to choosing a genre because it’s currently popular. Fantasy is in. I’d be terrible at it, so I will be true to my voice. I write romantic suspense -- as a woman, also okay.

In this country we are obsessed with gender. It doesn’t take long for kids to “fall into place” gender-wise. Let them do it naturally. If not, the romance writers will have to join the Pod People and write sci-fi.

Julie Eberhart Painter is the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and Kill Fee. Her flash fiction can be seen on  Visit Julie’s Web site at to learn more about other her novels.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


We've been talking about Spring in our own little corners of the Universe. I thought I'd share a bit of Springtime in Paris, my favorite city in the world. However I knew my words couldn't measure up to my husband's. You see, Calvin lived there for a year on sabbatical, writing at sidewalk cafes and absorbing French culture. He unashamedly admits Paris is his mistress.

I knew the passage I'd share with you. For I'd read it many times. The one in Calvin's Phantom Lady of Paris, where his hero, also a teacher on sabbatical to write a novel, shares his impressions of Paris. I'm taking the liberty of inserting a few pictures here and there to share the Jewel of the Seine. Allow my husband to take you to Paris on a Magic Carpet ride of words, as I so often say.

Skies sparkled like diamonds, and the fragrance of blossoms was everywhere. Trees on Boulevard Saint Michel transformed into impressionists’ canvasses and in the Luxembourg Garden, flowers dazzled with violet and gold. When you sat on the terrace of a café in Saint Michel Plaza, breezes whispered past, cooling and refreshing. Spring had come.

Latin Quarter inhabitants who hibernated through much of winter reappeared and once again strolled boulevards. All the cafés on Boulevard Saint Germain were now open (many closed during winter months). Once again their terraces bubbled with laughter and conversation. If one paid attention, there were sounds carried on the breeze—the gurgle of wine filling goblets, the pop of champagne corks, and the hiss of espresso machines spewing the aroma of fresh java. It was an aroma that called back memories of Sunday mornings and good times at home. Spring had come.
On Sunday afternoons, couples, their toddlers in hand, strolled Boulevard Saint Michel. Cradling toy sailboats, youngsters frolicked into Luxembourg Garden and as parents looked on, the young dynamos of energy splashed through wading pools, squealing and laughing—orchestrating the sound of youth and immortality. Spring had come.
Gypsies once again panhandled on street corners, their favorite, the intersection at Saint Germain and Saint Michel, where they stopped passersby, glibly spinning tales of “hard times,” and “starving babies,” and the imperative need for a few francs to buy milk and/or medicine for their emaciated, “near-death” children. Translation? “We need money to buy wine.” When Gypsies returned, there could be no doubt, spring had come.
Neighborhood bums reappeared and bought bottle after bottle of vin ordinnaire, drank themselves into stupors, then snoozed away the afternoon. Spring had arrived. It came soon after Bonnie left. Yet springtime in Paris did not delight me, for Bonnie—the woman I loved—was gone.
There you have it: a verbal picture of Springtime in Paris thanks to my husband. Enjoy your Spring day where ever you are.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Nature Girl versus the Frog

I acquired the name "Nature Girl" when I started working on my last college degree (Landscape Horticulture). I used to put together amusing anecdotes about my adventures in Nature. Here's one of those stories, called:

Nature Girl Meets the Frog

As we all know, Nature Girl's CARP (Capture And Release Program) is always used in cases of small mammals, insects (except hairy spiders which are killed with a broom, and stinging insects which are killed by the Spousal Unit), and those critters slow enough not to escape NG's net.

The CARP was strained to the limits yesterday, though.

After a tough day at school and work (I'd like some cheese with that whine, please), I came home and, as was my wont, went out the Box 'o Mail and got the disposables therein.  I plopped the <pile of junk> on the counter and thought, "Mmm, did that pile of junk just sort of move? Did that pile of junk sort of ... HOP?" Holy shit.  A frog.

Not the tiny, little, cutsey frogs that you see on the World Wildlife Federation calendars.  Not the poster-frogs for "Save the Rainforest".  Nosireebob. This was a Fist Frog (as in, "as big as my fist").

As we all know, frogs can cause their bones to disappear at will, which is what the FF did.  He/she/it squeeeeezzzzeed itself under my toaster oven (and found a treasure trove of crumbs there, probably thinking it had gone to frog heaven).  Luckily my clueless cats hadn't even noticed my agitation ("oh, look, she's dashing around the kitchen again ... oh, hum, must be another toast fire or something").  I got out a pickle bottle, thinking I could shoo the amphibian into the bottle.  However, the lip of the bottle looked like a tight squeeze (and it smelled faintly of kosher dills, and I wasn't sure if the FF *liked* kosher dills, or was even Jewish for that matter).

So, I got out the SU's beer mug (don't tell him) and figured I could herd the frog into it (I figured the frog liked beer -- I saw it on TV, right?  .... in those Bud commercials).  I SLOWLY moved the toaster over, and got out a wooden spoon, prepared to herd the beast toward his temporary home ... and he PLOPPED right up on my wall and stared at me with his beady eyes.

Panic time. A frog is climbing my walls. Scenes of Easter time, with Charleton Heston and Yul Brenner, flashed through my brain. Obviously this frog didn't like beer (or maybe he didn't like wooden spoons. I wasn't sure). Maybe he had friends (I took a panicked moment to inspect the rest of the mail -- no more amphibians.  !Whew!)

By now the cats were getting curious ("she's moving kitchen appliances around ... hmmm, maybe there's food there. I will position myself directly under her feet so that if something falls I will get it ...") I knew that frog death was only a hop, skip, and jump away (not to mention frog parts, and frog blood, which YouKnowWho would have to clean up since the Spousal Unit was at work).

I took a deep breath, and still brandishing the wooden spoon (I wasn't going to TOUCH it, I draw the line at some things), I got out a Bruegger's Bagel used paper bag (still smelling vaguely of onion bagel), and positioned it near the creature.

The bagels must have done it.  He happily jumped into the paper bag when prodded with the spoon (he was probably just getting tired of being jabbed in the butt with a spoon; I know *I* would be!)  After tripping over 2 cats, I got him out into the yard, and tried to up-end him out of the bag .... nope, he LIKED that bag.

When I went back to check on him a few minutes later, he was still in the bag (looking slightly chubbier, probably having nibbled on some crumbs).  I made a little tear in the bag, and he peered up at the sky ("oh, look. There's sky. Am I outside now? What happened to frog heaven? Oh, well, there's a good looking plant ....").

Hop, plop, and he's out in the garden.....

Here is a word o' wisdom from Nature Girl: always fluff that mail before bringing it into the house.  You never know who might be Coming Along for the Ride.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Guest Barbara Burke Shares a Pint

Of course it all started in a bar. The Ship is a dodgy little pub with an unwelcoming entrance on a set of steep stairs connecting the two main roads of this hillside harbour town. In the daytime one stands in the doorway trying to get one’s vision back before stumbling into the murky room. A pool table no one ever uses sits to the right like the ghost of a more congenial era. A bank of cheap tables and old wooden chairs on the left partially conceal a tiny stage banked by a small row of dusty footlights. The mirror behind the bar at the back of the room reflects nothing, but the row of taps behind the beer polished bar itself shine from the constant pull of the bartender’s competent hands as glass after glass of rich dark Guinness is poured into pint glasses.

My home away from home, as it is for many writers in this small, close-knit community. We have our readings here and our Christmas parties and our long, liquid lunches. And sometimes we just wile away a lazy Sunday afternoon consuming pints and companionship at one of the chipped and rickety tables, laughing and bitching about editors and publishers and appalling freelance rates that haven’t gone up since we traded in our Smith Coronas for Commodore 64s.

It was on just such a Sunday, whilst staring into the last few creamy dregs of my second pint, that I worked up the courage to confess to my friend and fellow dissolute my early dreams of becoming a romance writer. After university I had decided that the smart course would be to quickly knock off a couple of Harlequin romances in order to make a few bucks while pursuing my true destiny as the greatest fantasy writer since Anne MaCaffrey. Much to my amazement, that noble publishing edifice actually turned down the hard-wrested fruits of my labour on the aforementioned Smith Corona. Then they continued this inexplicable behaviour with the next one I deigned to send them.

It was enough. They’d had their chance. Unfortunately the fantasy novel career also failed to materialise – something about actually writing all those thousands and thousands of words. In the intervening years I’d pursued a few careers before becoming a freelance journalist. But I’d always nourished a secret love for Georgette Heyer and in recent years had started sneaking onto Harlequin’s free reads website. And it was there I learned that it was possible to write shorter romances. 

It didn’t take long before my compagnon d’amour (as opposed to compagnon d'armes) and I had concocted a plan. She was mired in a fantasy romance that was going nowhere. I was just mired. We’d both write a short story – hers about a demon lover and mine about a Regency rake – and form a writing circle of two.  We ended up with a circle of one writer and one relentless booster and I actually managed to finish a story.

When it was accepted by Wild Rose we (somehow) found ourselves in the Ship again. And when my first royalty cheque arrived there we were again. Thanks heavens for good friends and beer.

When Recompromising Amanda was accepted I had no idea that there was such a strong and vibrant community of romance writers and readers out there. I was gobsmacked the first time I actually got a review, not to mention how shocking it was to discover that people I wasn’t even related to were actually buying it.

How cool is that.

So now I’m busy beavering away at the next one. It starts with a girl (in 19th century London) going into a bar...


How has beautiful, popular Amanda Smythe-Kincaid managed to reach the ripe old age of twenty-five without getting married? Could she possibly still be carrying a torch for Jason, her brother's best friend? It’s been years since they were caught kissing in the conservatory.

Jason, the third Viscount Greyshott, has been in love with Amanda for ages. Too bad he can’t convince her of that fact, and too bad she repeatedly turns down his marriage proposals.

When Amanda asks Jason for a shocking favor, he realizes this may just be the opportunity he needs. And when fate, in the form of an exasperated older brother and some inadvertent eavesdropping, finally steps in to bring this charming Regency couple into each other’s arms—where everyone around them knows they’ve always belonged—Amanda doesn’t stand a chance.


“Jason!” she said as, at the same time, “Amanda!” burst from his lips.

They looked at each other fully for the first time and might have smiled if not for the gravity of the situation.

“Ladies first,” Jason commanded.

His eyes were warm, and Amanda took comfort in the sight even as her heartbeat quickened at the memory of the molten heat reflected in them the night before. She drew a resolute breath, but turned her head away, refusing to meet his eyes.

“Jason, the other day you told me if there was ever anything I needed that Charles could not provide I was to come to you, and you would help me.” She dared a peep up at him. “Did you mean it?”

“How can you doubt it?” he asked, a frown crossing his features.

“Then I want you to promise me you will do something for me without asking any questions.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“No questions,” she reminded him with a brief smile. “You must trust me.”

“It’s not something illegal is it?” he teased. “I’ll have to calculate the probability of being sent to jail and consult my lawyers on how long the sentence is likely to be before agreeing to anything truly reprehensible.”

“No, it’s not illegal,” she answered seriously. “At least, I don’t think it’s illegal,” she added with a trace of doubt.

“‘Don’t think it’s illegal’ will have to do, I suppose. Tell me what you want, and if it lies within my power I will do it.”

Amanda took a deep breath before replying, and then spoke all in a rush. “I want you to make love to me.”
Recompromising Amanda  Available at The Wild Rose Press

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I'm Irish. And German, Choctaw, Chickasaw...

I'm Irish. And German, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and a little French. When I think of my heritage, different words come to mind for each ethnic group because of personal experiences.

My father's mother was German - short, round and a little fierce. My husband and I spent three years in Germany when he was in the Army. I was often mistaken for Deutsch so I guess I inherited more German physical characteristics than any of the others. The words and images I associate with Deutschland are rich culture, comfort food and castles. That fierce part of my grandmother gives me an impression of a clan mentality. Granny thought anyone in our family could do no wrong, but she sort of stuck her nose up at everyone else.

My mother's mother was American Indian - Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee. I didn't know her. She died when my mother was three. What I know of her comes from a couple of faded pictures. One letter she wrote survived her. It was rather sad. Words and images I associate with my American Indian blood are not so easily stated. Maybe proud, beautiful, ceremonial and a sadness that comes from trusting that ended in disappointment.

I'm not sure who was French exactly, but my father's side is responsible for this heritage. I've been through the south of France and on another trip spent a few nights in Nice. Without any family firsthand connection, I can't say I have any real associations. The small amount of time spent in country gives me only superficial images - wealthy, sweet and the best latte I've ever had.

And last but certainly not least - Irish! It is Irish American month. My mother's father, Grandpa, was a full-blooded, redheaded Irishman. He died the day I brought my son home from the hospital. My few memories of him are vivid. He didn't live near us so I didn't get to spend a lot of time with him. But those few times were rousing. His love of drink was stereo-typical, as was his storytelling and colorful language. He made me laugh and for a young girl, he was tons of fun. At one time, I owned some Bosons, and the one named Jock always looked just like Grandpa to me. Jock is Scottish but you get the picture. My words for Irish are fun, colorful, cheerful and green.

Using my heritage and my strongest impressions, my book Honey On White Bread is about Claire Flanagan whose father is Irish and her mother is Choctaw.

When seventeen-year-old Claire Flanagan is wrenched from her father and deposited at the Good Shepherd’s Home for Wayward Girls, all dreams for Hollywood stardom are lost. But when twenty-year-old Benjamin Russell helps secure her release, she starts to believe in a happy future with him…until she discovers his ex-girlfriend is pregnant.

In this post WWII coming of age novel, Claire discovers the silver screen can’t compare with the fight she takes on for the leading role in her own life.


Honey On White Bread:

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

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My March Maddness

Hi all! How about that MU upset?

Er... yes, let's just pretend I didn't say that. I know nothing about basketball. In fact, my boys are forbidden to entertain the idea of the sport because I hate the squeaky shoes. However, with everyone around me riled over that particular issue, I couldn't resist.

Guess what today is?

International Goof Off Day and As Young As You Feel Day. What an awesome day to blog. I don't have to think! Mwahaha!

In fact, I can go romp in the mud and be perfectly justified when I hand the demidemons my soaked clothes and say, "Your turn to wash." They might look at me like I'd lost all my marbles, but... the calendar says I can.

So anyway -- Recall I was bemoaning the Christmas tree still being up. Well, I did get it taken down, and the stockings. I still have two Santas sitting out but that's because I keep forgetting to buy the new storage containers when I make a trek to Wal-Mart. Last year the mice had a bit of fun with them, so they will sit on my table until I remember a plastic tub is a necessity.

I do intend to make use of Goof Off Day. Coffee with my writing cohort tomorrow, dinner out, and a movie maybe. I've been ticking through deadlines and buried so far into my computer it wouldn't surprise me if there's a thumb drive sticking out my ear or something. I intend to reward myself tomorrow... particularly now that I have an excuse.

What about all of you? The Powers That Be say you have the right to set everything aside and do whatever the heck you want today. How do you intend to spend it?

As far as the Only As Old As You Feel part -- this one I'm actually going to object to. This month, I think I'll stick with calendar years!

And while I'm rambling, let's talk spring a minute. It's here FINALLY! (Did I mention mud?) Are you all in your yards planting flowers, gardens, and cultivating beds? I made a grand attempt at that two days ago, and I have a mountain of yardwork awaiting the dry spell that's supposed to come this weekend. I cleaned out half a fence line that I've let go for way too long. I discovered the ivy that I thought was "oh so pretty" ten years ago is really "oh so destructive", and I spent two hours plucking vines off my root cellar.

It's storm time again in my neck of the woods, and I'm one of those people who both fears and loves a good storm. I can even sit back and enjoy a severe storm, as long as the threat of tornadoes isn't high. (Primarily because the basement has spiders and the idea of going down there... shudder.)

I've found that one of the best times to write is when it's dark and the silence is interrupted by the rumble of thunder.

Do you read or write when it's storming? Does that intensify the words somehow for you?

Well, it's time for coffee with that writing cohort. I'll check back in, but I'm really interested in hearing how you all intend to goof off today.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What happened to the First Day of Spring?

A walk in the countryside
What happened to the First day of Spring? Why do they change things?  I wanted to write about the first day of Spring, March 21 and found my traditional day is not quite the same.  The day moves. Okay. I can understand some government bureaucrat said let’s do it different and screw everything up.

So I did a little research.  Every culture has the celebration of Spring around the  spring solstice.  From Aztec to Egyptian, stone calenders were set to highlight the sun on certain days of the year. The spring solstice was prominent. Look at the remains of Stonehenge or the monuments on Easter Island.

Going back several thousand years, we find the Celtic  Lá na Féile Bríde, or the “Festival of Saint Bridget”, in Manx as Laán Arragh (Day of Spring), and as Candlemas or Bridget’s Day in English. Brighid, Bride or Bridget is yet another Pagan deity turned by the Christians into a “saint,” in order to co-opt Her worship. This goddess was a triple-faced deity, originally a Sun and Fire Goddess, of Poetry/Divination, Healing and Smith-craft, whose followers kept an eternal flame burning in Her honor. Note that as Brighid, a Druid and Celtic entity, Her three aspects are all the same age as each other, not the “Mother-Maiden-Crone” trinity.

Interesting is that St Bridget’s Day  is the celebration of the lambing and lactation of the ewes, a basic source of food and clothing.  The occasion of the birth of lambs (not to mention kids and calves) was a cause for rejoicing and a sign of life in the “dead” world of a Northern winter. Probably why we eat roast lamb on Easter.

This leaves me with my original question why change it?

Author Website:

Ancient Blood


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Irish Words that Came to America

Laura Breck

I was fascinated when I found out how many Irish words are used in the English language. Here are a few of my favorites.


(from Irish bainsídhe/beansídhe, "female fairy")(M-W), "woman of the fairies" (AHD) or "...of a fairy mound" (RH). The Modern Irish word for woman is bean /bæn/ and síd(h) (or in modern spelling) is an Irish term referring to a 'fairy mound'.


(from bogach meaning "marsh/peatland") a wetland (OED).


A strong regional accent, especially an Irish one. Presumably used originally with reference to the footwear of speakers of the brogue (OED).


O.Ir. clocc meaning "bell"; also Welsh cloch but the giving language is Irish mediated by Irish missionaries. The same source has German Glocke "bell".


The ultimate source of this word is Latin crux, the Roman gibbet which became a symbol of Christianity. Some sources say the English wordform comes from Old Irish cros. Other sources say the English comes from Old French crois and others say it comes from Old Norse is a technical word in geology.


(from go leor meaning "til plenty") a lot (OED).


(from the Irish family name Ó hUallacháin, anglicised as O'Houlihan) one who takes part in rowdy behaviour and vandalism.

kibosh, kybosh

to finish, to end. The OED says the origin is obscure and possibly Yiddish. Other sources, suggest that it may be from the Irish an chaip bháis meaning "the cap of death" (a reference to the "black cap" worn by a judge passing sentence of capital punishment.


(from leipreachán or leath bhrogán) (OED).


(probably from the English fawney meaning "gilt brass ring used by swindlers", which is from Irish fainne meaning "ring") fake.


(from sluagh meaning "a large number") a great amount (OED). Note: as in a slew of new products, not as in slay.


(from slab) mud (OED).


small fragments, atoms. In phrases such as 'to explode into smithereens'. This is the word smithers (of obscure origin) with the Irish diminutive ending. Whether it derives from the modern Irish smidrín or is the source of this word is unclear (OED).


(from uisce beatha meaning "water of life") (OED).
Taken from

Here's hoping your Saint Patrick's Day was full of Leprechauns galore, a slew of Irish whiskey, and only a smithereen of hooliganism!


Secret Vegas Lives
Scandalous L.A. Desires
both available from Red Rose Publishing

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Awkward Moments

By Jannine Gallant

Did you know that March 18 is Awkward Moments Day? Neither did I, but when I checked out March’s list of funny observances and saw it there in black and white, I couldn’t resist. Who out there hasn’t had an awkward moment? I know I’ve had my share.

The awkward moment at a party when you pop a whole appetizer in your mouth just as someone asks you a question.

The awkward moment when you say, “Thank you, sir,” and later discover the helpful clerk in the hardware store was a woman.

The awkward moment when you’re introduced to someone and can’t remember their name two minutes later.

The awkward moment when you notice the man you’re talking to didn’t zip it up all the way, but you have no excuse for looking that low.

The awkward moment when you realize no one liked or commented on your last Facebook update.

If you didn’t cringe a little reading these, then you’re far more socially graceful than I am! It also occurred to me that awkward moments play well in fiction. What reader can’t relate when your poor heroine walks out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to her shoe? In my most recent book, Bittersweet, there is a scene involving my heroine cooling off in the creek in her chemise when near tragedy strikes. After the commotion is over, she discovers her wet chemise revealed a whole lot more than it covered, and she is unbearably mortified. Even women in 1880 had wardrobe malfunctions. LOL

Let’s hear about your awkward moments – real or fictional. Don’t turn my blog into another awkward moment…

For information on Bittersweet and my other books, check these sites.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


May the sun always shine on your windowpane, May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain, May the hand of a friend always be near you, May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you!     Irish Blessing.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A day when the whole world is Irish! Have you ever wondered why everyone wants to be Irish…even for a day? Oh…there will always be the stereotype of a typical Irishman, probably best known for their ability to out-drink most other races. Or do you think it is the Luck of the Irish that everyone is seeking? Seen any little Leprechauns lately or chased any pots of gold?

I believe there is a romance to the thought of being Irish. Perhaps I’m bias because I married myself an Irish Lad…twenty-five years ago. I’m excited because to celebrate the family is traveling to Ireland this summer. I’ve never been. Looking forward to the adventure and it will be an adventure!

So today everyone is Irish. What does that mean to you? Here are a few tips on being Irish that I have learned over the years.

The Irish never know how to tell a short story.

The Irish may not know the words to a song, but it doesn’t stop them from singing it.

If you’re Irish you can't wait for the other guy to stop talking so you can start talking.
Matter of fact, why wait? Without question, the Irish like to talk.

I hear the Irish like their beer.

Being Irish means you have this need to know everything about everyone.

Being Irish means you have a big heart.

One more thing, St. Patrick’s Day is St. Paddy’s Day.

Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever met an Irishman I didn’t like. Have a great day. May you always have the luck of the Irish on your side.

May you live a long life Full of gladness and health, With a pocket full of gold As the least of you wealth. May the dreams you hold dearest, Be those which come true, The kindness you spread, Keep returning to you. Irish Blessing.

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

This coming week, Patriot Secrets with Wild Child Publishing is going FREE on Kindle Select. I'm so excited because I love this book. It's my mother's favorite book of mine. So if you want a copy, wait until Wednesday, March 21st. It will be free until the 25th. Tell your friends and join me over on my blog for a contest!


Today Dreamscape is free! Don't miss out on your free copy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

You Can't Go Wrong Today!

I’m writing this with a smile on my face. I’ve just finished getting my records together from last year and can now walk happily into the accountant’s office to file my taxes with everything in order. It’s a wonderful feeling especially after spending the last three nights up until 3A.M. working on it. Tonight I can pillow my head without regret, knowing I’ve accomplished the task.

Once that was out of the way, I moved on to writing this piece for this wonderful group of writers and readers. I wanted to share some happiness so I did a search to see if there is anything special going on for March 16th. I was amazed at what I found.

March 16th, in every year without fail, is “Everything You Do Is Right” day. Wow! How perfect is that? Imagine a day where you can’t go wrong. Imagine a twenty-four hour period where no matter what you do, you’ll do it right, without failure lurking around the corner to mess up an otherwise perfect day.

Think of all the things you’ll be doing today. Getting the kids off to school will be a breeze. After all, they will be doing everything right today, too. Breakfast will be perfect and on time. Getting the Significant Other on their way will be so smooth, you’ll want to call them home to do it again.

Getting yourself ready for what ever is in your day planner will be a cinch. The perfect outfit is ready and waiting for you in the closet. Everything you need will be where it is supposed to be, including your keys, glasses and cell phone, the three elusive items in my day. Today is going to be sheer heaven on earth.

You might think I’m being dramatic, but why not? How often do we get this opportunity to dream? As a writer, I love to take a small idea and run with it just to see how far it will play out. Three little words, “I wrote it”, were the beginning of my writing career. It turned into one 50,000+ word novel that grew into a six book series.

A little idea about revenge became an eighteen year writing exercise entitled Her Perfect Man, the story of Anna Scott, a girl in Southampton who thought she knew who her perfect mate would be. She senses things before they happen. Everything she did should have been right, shouldn’t it?

Her Perfect Man is available at Red Rose Publishing. It takes place in Southampton in the early 1900s and is an historical romance with a touch of paranormal. Here’s the blurb:

Anna Scott could see snippets of the future, what was going to happen before it happened. She learned at a young age how to use this gift to her advantage. She planned out her life, and knew that she would have everything she wanted. She could see it. Unfortunately, she couldn't clearly see the perfect man she knew she should marry, or the years of unhappiness she would have to endure before her dreams came true.

Colin Marsec would do anything to be close to Miss Anna. As they grew up together, he tried to make her see beyond her dreams, to see him as the man who loved her as more than just a surrogate sister. Once she chose Chase Trent over him, his reckless living trapped him into an unwanted marriage with a woman who would ruin his life.

Chase Trent breezed into Southampton fresh from America, presenting himself as the perfect man. Good looks, charm and money blinded the saucy Anna who was five years his junior. Chase was used to having the best and, on the surface this little sample of English tart would look good on his arm. To top it off, she thought he was perfect. On their wedding day, Chase proved to his bride that he was the furthest thing from the man Anna expected him to be.

And what of the flattering and attractive Justin Waring? With so many choices, will Anna find her perfect man?

Read an excerpt from Her Perfect Man HERE

I hope that what ever your day brings your way, everything you do will truly be right for the next twenty-four hours. You deserve a great day and I pray you’ll reach the end of the day with a satisfied smile.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Singing Dragons and Other Silliness by Alison Henderson

I’ve never been a huge fan of poetry; it tends to remind me of high school English class. But March is National Poetry Month, so I decided to share a couple of poems I love with you. They remind me NOTHING of high school English.

In fact, these poems come from a wonderful book of children’s poems I bought for my daughter when she was little, entitled The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, by Jack Prelutsky (Greenwillow Books, 1993). I read it over and over to her and have saved it to read to any future grandchildren I’m lucky enough to have. The book also has fantastic illustrations by Peter Sis, although I couldn’t use them here.

Here are two of our favorites:

The Dragons are Singing Tonight

Tonight is the night all the dragons
Awake in their lairs underground,
To sing in cacophonous chorus
And fill the whole world with their sound.
They sing of the days of their glory,
They sing of their exploits of old,
Of maidens and knights, and of fiery fights,
And guarding vast caches of gold.

Some of their voices are treble,
And some of their voices are deep,
But all of their voices are thunderous,
And no one can get any sleep.
I lie in my bed and I listen,
Enchanted and filled with delight,
To songs I can hear only one night a year—
The dragons are singing tonight!

Nasty Little Dragonsong

I’m a nasty, nasty dragon,
I’ve been nasty since my birth,
When it comes to nasty dragons,
I’m the nastiest on earth.
I’ve a nasty, nasty temper,
And my breath is nasty too,
I was nasty to my parents,
I’ll be nastier to you.

It’s my nature to be nasty,
Nasty, nasty night and day,
I will act completely nasty
If you’re in my nasty way.
Yet I largely pass unnoticed
As I nastily go by,
I’m a nasty, nasty dragon
Just a nasty half inch high.

I hope you enjoyed these!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


My most recent book, ABRA CADAVER, has a Celtic flavor. The hero, Keane Malson, is a cursed Celtic warrior who spends his days bringing people back from the dead, killing demons to keep his saves alive, and staying with his saves until they do something important for the world. His life is boring, tedious, and stuck. He would much rather have died an honorable death on the battlefield surrounded by his men, but his brother sought the help of a witch to bring him back to life. As with all magic, you must be prepared to give back after you take. There must always be a balance. And so, poor Keane gets cursed with the abra cadaver and now faces an eternity of saving, killing, and waiting.

Until he meets schoolteacher Holly Brimmer.

When I was writing ABRA CADAVER, I listened to a great deal of Celtic, Scottish, and medieval music. I thought I would share some of my favorites with you so you could enjoy them as well. I find that music really inspires me. It allows me to drown out the day-to-day distractions that would otherwise keep me from writing. When the headphones are on, that means the author is at work!

Click on anyone of the band titles to be taken to their websites to listen to their work.

  1. Medieval Baebes – Classy, beautifully, and just a little Wiccan.

  1. Albannach – Scottish music goes punk, and they wear kilts!

  1. Rune – A band local to my area

These are just a few, but enough to give you a good sampling. My suggestion: Type these into and find more bands that sound similar. You’ll be entertained for hours and maybe want to write a little something yourself.


Read Holly and Keane’s tale by purchasing ABRA CADAVER at the following locations:


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Red Cross moment

In 1991, the Spousal Unit and I decided to move from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis. That move is a saga unto itself, complete with lost cats, motels from hell, getting loss on the Dan Ryan in Chicago at rush hour, and a blown tire on the U-Haul. And that was all just the first 3 days of moving.

Anyway, we managed to get him moved in early June (with the cats), into a one bedroom apartment at a large complex. We were going to stay there until we could house hunt and find a new home. I then returned to Pittsburgh to wrap up the sale of the house and finish up some work. The moving van came on July 3 and took our Stuff, and I was left for a week sleeping on an air bed with no other furniture except a clip-on lamp and a tiny portable TV.

A week later, I arrived in Mpls to begin the new life. We settled into our cozy little apartment with three cats. Yes, cozy. The building we were in had 9 units, 6 that faced the garages, 6 that faced front. We faced the garage where our belongings were stored. Rather than pay a storage unit fee, we just stuffed everything into a garage. This is a pertinent fact for what happens later.

A week after I got in town, DH and I were out roller skating, came home about 7 PM and found fire trucks surrounding our apartment building. The top 3rd floor unit above ours was blazing away. We were on the ground floor. We could see our cats, pressed against the patio door, their eyes as big as saucers. Alarms were screaming, water was pouring into the building, and flames were shooting out. And my cats were inside.

I begged to go in and get them. Nope. No one allowed in. I pleaded. "They're right there. I can get them!" Nope. I have never felt so helpless, so angry, so worried.

After an hour or so, the blaze was under control. Another hour and the firemen told us we had 10 minutes to get into our apartments, grab what we wanted, then we had to leave. We raced inside. Water was about 3" deep and still gushing out of light sockets. Our cats literally ran to meet us, leapt into our arms, and clung to us. We stuffed them into cages, grabbed a litter box and cat food, tossed some clothes in a bag, grabbed our Important Papers, and got outside.

To what? We had 3 cats, and a car. It was now 10 at night and we had nowhere to stay. We'd been in town about 4 weeks. Didn't know anyone well enough to ask them to take in us and our pets.

That's when the Red Cross came through. We were then living in a far western suburb, mostly undeveloped (this was before Eden Prairie became 'civilized'). There was one motel, and they did not take pets. Well, the RC bullied the proprietor into taking us in. He had signed a deal with the RC to help out, and by God, he was going to help out. They gave us emergency supplies (toothbrush, shampoo, etc.) and one volunteer put us in touch with a vet, who made a motel-call to check the cats FOR FREE. God love him.

The next day we had to figure out where to live. We had 3 days paid in the motel and after that, we would be kicked out. To make a long story short, we ended up renting another unit in the apartment complex which was far, far more expensive because we had things in storage there and thus, we couldn't leave -- we had to stay at the complex or move our stuff.

So I supervised a move to another unit (DH had just started a new job and couldn't help). We ended up staying there 2 months, then bought a house right before the Halloween Blizzard when we got 3' of snow in 24 hours. We stayed there 8 months, then moved again. So I moved 4 times that year. And that's the move where my husband was in England, so I had to ...

Well, that's a story for another time. Suffice it to say, I support the Red Cross to this day because they came through for us, as they do for so many people.