Monday, September 30, 2013

Mothers and Daughters

by Diane Burton

I love family stories. For example, books and movies that follow several generations. I especially enjoy watching/reading the interaction between mothers and daughters. The Disney movie Brave is a great example. Anyone who’s ever had a young teen daughter knows exactly the dynamics at work in this film. The eye rolling, the exasperated sighs, the backtalk. Mom losing her temper then having regrets. The two of them each wanting the other to understand. (Spoiler Alert. If you don’t want to know the end of the movie, don’t read the end of this post.)

Now I would never encourage a girl to give her mother a potion that changes her into a bear, but I’m sure my daughter wanted to. After seeing the movie, my son-in-law says he’ll make sure his wife and daughter watch the movie again in about six or seven years.

I didn’t go through that stage with my mother. Odd, I know. With six younger siblings, I knew how hard Mom worked just to keep the house clean, laundry done, and meals prepared. During my middle school/high school years, Mom also finished the inside of our house. Dad and his brothers built our house. Once the walls were up and floors down, Dad had other priorities—like working two jobs to make ends meet. So city-girl Mom taught herself how to lay tile—not the peel-and-stick kind, asphalt tile where you spread a black tarry substance to make them stick. She learned to mud the seams and nail holes, sand the drywall, and paint.

As the oldest, my job was to help Mom. Help with the laundry, scrub the kitchen floor every Friday, change diapers, and feed babies. Somewhere in my teen mind, I thought I had to take care of Mom. So smarting off to her wasn’t part of my behavior. Well, maybe I did once then felt so much regret I never did it again. Going through my daughter’s teen years while I was in peri-menopause was a disaster waiting to happen. Too bad I waited to get Xanax until my son hit sixteen.

In “Brave”, both Mom and Merida change. Merida has to teach Mom (in bear form) how to survive and Mom has to depend on her to changer her back. But as Mom becomes more bear, a frightened Merida works even harder to rescue her mother. I love the end where Mom is more carefree and she and Merida become friends.

Until Alzheimer’s stole Mom’s mind, she and I were friends. That’s the hope I have with my daughter and that she has with hers.

I blog here on the 8th and 30th of each month and Mondays on my own blogsite

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Do You Dream of Writing a Book Now That Summer's Over?

Win a Copy of Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book!

September always seems more like the beginning of a new year to me than does the traditional time of January 1st. Even though I no longer have to wrestle kids back to school, with all the shopping and form filling and preparation that goes with that, September still seems like a brand new page.

And, of course, for a writer a brand new page is irresistible. We simply can't wait top fill that glorious blank with new ideas, new words, new stories.
So, if the end of summer has re-awakened your dream to write, here are a few words of what I hope is wisdom from my writing course and book, Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book!:

As writers, we’re dreamers – and I don’t just mean about characters and plot
lines. No, we also fantasize about our careers, about signing books while surrounded by adoring fans,
of watching our titles fly up the NY Times bestseller list, of being invited to chat with Oprah, of writing non-fiction that catapults us onto the speech circuit as An Authority.

And then we daydream about what we’ll do with all those millions we will earn through our writing, or how we’ll parlay our growing knowledge into something that will help change people’s lives…. Yes, there are probably as many dreams as there are writers when it comes to thoughts of the life we’ll lead as Famous Writers Whose Books Are Bestsellers.

 But here’s the hard truth: these dreams have little to do with your success as a writer – unless you act on them.
To be successful you need talent, yes, and a commitment to your work. You need to mix that talent with a fair old dose of hard work to turn those dreams into your reality. The simple truth is that first and foremost, a writer writes. It’s that simple. The complicated bit comes in knowing what you should be writing and in planning for your success. Don’t give up the dreams; just temper them with a little feet-on-the-ground common sense.

Find a way to turn them into goals. Plan your writing career as you would any other endeavor that’s important to you. Dream big, for sure, but keep one eye firmly fixed on your own reality.

 In fact, it seems to me that there are several secrets to being successful as a writer and getting published. Consider these: 

1) Believe in yourself and don’t give up.
Writing can be disheartening at times – you sacrifice time you could be doing other things in order to write. It’s hard, and sometimes it may feel that there are only rejections and it will never get any better.

 2) Write the book of your heart - let your passion for the story shine through. Forget the idea of a
‘formula’ and write the book you want to read, the book that tells the story that you need to tell.

 3) Realize that a good writer is in a constant state of ‘becoming’ rather than ‘being’ – writers should always be honing their craft, learning and growing, to constantly become a better writer rather than merely a good writer

4) Be prepared to put yourself out there - there are many wonderful books that their creators have consigned to a box under the bed for fear of rejection, or fear of what other people might say or think. You have to believe in yourself and in the story you want to tell. What someone else thinks – be it a relative, a friend, your boss, an agent, publisher, editor, or even your creative writing teacher – counts only in so far as you can see a way to use their comments to make the book better in your own eyes.

5) Do the work. This is the biggie - no-one ever became a successful writer by talking about the book they’re ‘going to write someday’. Get the words on paper, learn your craft, learn to edit and polish, send your work out and learn from the critiques you receive from editors and agents. Then, when you’re published, be prepared to promote, promote, promote….no matter how difficult you find this, or how shy you might be.

That's all for now, but I'd love to hear from anyone just starting a new book. Leave a comment about it and I'll send one lucky writer a signed print copy of Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book! You can read the first chapter on my Romance Can Be Murder website or see it here on Amazon.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Memories of a Farm Inspire a Novel by Jody Vitek

Roses and Readers, join me in welcoming Jody Vitek to our site today.
Thank you, Brenda and fellow Roses, for having me here today. It’s great to be back to share my latest release, Rescue Me, a contemporary romance set in Minnesota.
The idea of this book came from wonderful childhood memories of visiting my great aunt and uncle, my second cousins and their grandparents. Grandma and grandpa, as my brother and I called them, lived on the farm in a small separate home a few steps from the old farm house. They had cows and chickens, and if memory serves me correctly, pigs too, and farmed acres of land.
Farmland is being eaten up by new housing developments throughout the state and it saddens me because where else will we get our crops. But, most children don’t know what a farm smells or looks like other than what they see in pictures. My great aunt still owns some of the farm, and I have taken my children to see where I spent some of my time as a youth. Unfortunately, the barn and farm house have been condemned for safety reasons, but they enjoyed seeing it all. They were a bit envious that I got to experience the farm and they didn’t.
At the Minnesota Zoo, visitors can experience and learn more about farming and farm life, but it’s not the same as living it. Okay, so I didn’t truly live a farmer’s life but more so than my kids ever will. There’s nothing better than smelling the pungent odor of manure or hay bales in the hay loft. So maybe there are other, better smells than those but they always remind me of my childhood and bring a smile to my face.
Do you have a childhood smell or memory that makes you smile? Leave a comment, with your email, for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
At this time, Rescue Me is only available through the publisher, Melange Books, LLC. Look for it later at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other sites.
You can find Jody on Facebook: Jody Vitek Author, on Twitter: @JodyVitek and you can email her at:
Born and raised in Minnesota, Jody remains close to home, living with her husband of more than twenty years as well as three children and a cat named Holly. Growing up, she enjoyed reading V.C. Andrews' Dollanganger series, S.E. Hinton and Stephen King to name a few.
She’s traveled throughout the United States, to the Bahamas and Cancun, Mexico. Between watching soccer games, scrapbooking and being the COO of the Vitek household, she writes contemporary romances.
Sunday morning Catherine strolled to the barn. Opening the red wooden door, the strong smell of fresh hay engulfed her. Her senses came to life. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. The memory of children’s laughter played in her mind. Eyes opened to see the rope hanging from the rafters where they would swing and drop into the hay piles.
Eyes down now, shuffling along the floor, she remembered the trap door that led into the stalls below. The well-worn iron ring was cold to the touch. She lifted the heavy door by the ring, letting it fall back with a thud on to the wood floor. Peering through the opening to the cement floor below, she missed the sounds of cows, pigs and chickens. Nothing but emptiness now.
Despite the silence, she heard something. And it wasn’t her imagination.
Mewing from the haystacks. At the edge of the stacks, straining to hear for a sense of what direction to look, she climbed and moved to the left. There they were—a litter of kittens. She guessed them to be at least four weeks old. Mama cat wasn’t around, probably out hunting for food. Catherine wouldn’t intrude on the small family; however, she would periodically check on them.
Outside, she hopped down over the wood retaining wall where the slope was, as the barn was built into a hill. Although there were no cows, the aroma of manure was present when she strolled through the lower level of the barn. Her hand ran along the round metal gates of the cow stalls. This would’ve been the horses’ new home. Saddened by the thought, she exited the barn.
She hustled up the slight incline, approached the swing and yanked the heavy ropes to test them. A little weight on the seat and a tight grip on the side ropes, in case the seat failed, she kicked out and set the swing in motion.
The old school bus parked by the shed caught her attention. She and the foster kids had played school in the thing for hours on end and take turns being the bus driver. Catherine smiled at the memory. They all loved pretending to drive and pull the lever to open the door, which would make the Stop sign pop out from the side.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Scents of Fall

By Betsy Ashton

One of my favorite fall memories is of scents. Smells. Burning leaves. Burning hillsides. Hot soups and stews. Roasts and turkeys and hams and chickens.

Wait a minute. Did she say "burning hillsides." Yes. I grew up in Southern California where the hills are designed by nature to burn. No one should be surprised with the grease-brush covered desert hills burst into flames somewhere every year. Happens. Can't stop it by building in those same hills.

But, this post isn't about burning hillsides. It's about the homey smells that came from my grandmother's and mother's kitchens. As soon as the fall vegetables hit the farm stores and grocery shelves, my grandmother was there, buying every root vegetable in sight. Our counter tops would be laden with potatoes and onions and yams, carrots and celery (alright, celery technically isn't a root vegetable, but it's a soup vegetable), turnips and parsnips and rutabagas. Yellow and green and patty pan squash. Fresh tomatoes for color. Chicken or turkey stock when we had it. Otherwise, just the vegetable stock that came from cooking.

My mother and I peeled and chopped. My grandmother stirred the huge soup pot. Late in the process my grandmother would throw in a handful of barley and rice. No measurements. Just a pinch of this, a dash of that. She didn't know much about seasonings other than salt and pepper, so the flavors of the veggies were the stars of the soup.

When my grandmother passed, my mother took up the knife. And when my mother passed, it was my turn. I start with the same basic vegetables, but I differ in the seasonings. I know from garlic. I know from fresh herbs. Sage. Oregano. Dill. Rosemary. Thyme. No salt. Plenty of fresh pepper. Like a two-finger wide swath that goes from pot edge to pot edge to add a smoky flavor. Chicken stock from an early dinner that's been in the freezer for a few months. Shredded chicken to add substance, fresh cooked. Maybe some kidney beans. Definitely tomato paste and sauce. Maybe some spinach or kale or shredded cabbage. Maybe a handful of pasta.

This weekend is veggie soup weekend. I'll make several gallons, both to eat and to freeze. We'll eat it with crusty bread dipped in the broth. And we'll remember my mother and grandmother with every bite.

Visit Betsy's website at 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A time for reflection

My sister's friend in California, Janet, has had a serious of tragedies lately that rival anything I've ever read. I know Janet (not well, but I've spent time with her), and I wanted to share this because it should make us all pause to think...

I met Janet's parents when I was in Cali for a visit. Her mother, Dora "the Explorer", was an 80-year-old firecracker of a woman who adored my books. She was thrilled to meet me and couldn't stop talking about how she would impress her friends by telling them she had met me, the author. When I got home, I sent her a box of books and she was over the moon happy.

Janet's 85-year-old father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a month or two ago. They tried to use home care for him, but he was getting increasingly agitated and hard to handle, so they put him into nursing care. Around this time Dora started to feel unwell and she, too, went into the hospital.

Three weeks ago, Janet met with her father's doctors in the morning and was told he had leukemia and it was terminal. That afternoon she met with her mother's doctors and was told Dora had stomach cancer and it was inoperable.

Can you imagine?

I knew how much Dora loved my writing, so I rushed to print a draft copy of a book I had already dedicated to her. I had it bound and sent it to her last week.

Her father died on September 15 and her mother died on September 22 -- one week to the day after her father. My sister visited Dora before she died and Dora showed her the manuscript. She was so excited to read my book. But she never got the chance.

This has hit me like a ton of bricks because it makes me realize how fleeting life is. We take so much for granted, and probably the biggest thing we take for granted is that we'll have a tomorrow to finish that book, take that trip, visit those friends.

We may not have that day. As I've gotten older, this has come to be far more real to me than it ever was. So I'm starting to work on my Bucket List and you know what? I'll think of Dora as I do it and I'll smile. We never know who we're touching with our writing. I had the great good luck to meet someone who valued my work so very highly. I'll never forget her.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Please welcome, Vijaya Schartz to the Roses of Prose.

I did not create the Borealis Universe. My publisher did. Yet, I love it, and I love writing these novellas. The first I wrote for this Desert Breeze series was BLACK DRAGON, and this month, my second Borealis Novella is out, titled: AKIRA’S CHOICE.

The Borealis space station itself is a character in each novella. I would compare these stories to episodes of Deep Space Nine, or Babylon Five. Mine are full of action and adventure, kick-butt heroines, oh-so-gorgeous heroes... and cats. I couldn’t imagine life without cats, so what better pets to bring on a space station, right? In Black Dragon, the hero struts like a dandy with a white angora cat named Marshmallow (that’s part of his cover). And in Akira’s Choice, my heroine, a Samurai Bounty Hunter, hunts criminals with a cheetah retriever by the name of Freckles.

Borealis is a decrepit space station at the fringe of conquered space. Yes, conquered. It’s the 2600s AD, and man has ventured way beyond the solar system. Most known and livable alien planets are now inhabited by human settlers... and human hybrids who mixed with the original population. The TPP (Trans Planetary Protectorate) controls everything with an iron fist, and is not above genocide to maintain its military supremacy for the privileged classes of the human race.

As far as Space Stations go, Borealis is falling apart. The lower levels also include a penitentiary for the most dangerous criminals in the galaxy. The TPP struggles with a rebellion, as more oppressed planets fight for their civil rights. Most of the resources go into the fight on both sides, and there are no funds left to maintain the civilian infrastructure.

With such a backdrop and already defined universe, it’s easy for me to think up characters like Czerno Drake in Black Dragon, a rebel parading as a dandy for a secret mission. Or my Samurai bounty hunter heroine, looking for a child kidnapper in the seedy lower levels of Borealis.

Before writing each story, I voraciously read the previous installments (some of which from other Desert Breeze authors), to refresh my memory, and incorporate as many elements previously established as possible. Only a few characters are constants on the station. Each novella is a love story and introduces a new couple. These are sweet romances (only kisses). And at the end of the story, the two love birds leave together.

Novella by Vijaya Schartz
in all eBook formats everywhere

When bounty hunter Akira Karyudo accepted her assignment, something didn't add up. Why would the TPP want a kidnapped orphan dead or alive?

She will get to the truth once she finds the boy, and the no good SOB who snatched him from a psychiatric hospital. With her cheetah, Freckles, a genetically enhanced feline retriever, Akira sets out to flush them out of the bowels of the BOREALIS space station. But when she finds her fugitives, the kidnapper is not what she expects.

Markku, a decorated rebel soldier, stole his nephew from the authorities, who performed painful experiments on the boy. Stuck on Borealis, he protects the child, but how can he shield him from the horribly dangerous conditions in the lawless sublevels of the decrepit space station?

Akira faces the worst moral dilemma of her career. Law or justice, duty or love. She can't have it both ways.

Happy Reading.

You can find Vijaya here:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Santa, Shamans and the Spirit of Trandition by Brenda Whiteside

As of the last few years, old traditions have collided with new ideas and spawned new traditions in our family. My favorite holiday has always been Christmas. I wasn't raised religiously. Although I vaguely remember my mom volunteering at vacation bible school when I was in pre-school, I don't recall ever stepping foot in church with either of my parents. Christmas was not a particularly sacred holiday in the sense of religion. But it wasn't all about getting either. It was more the traditions of the holiday that roped me in. The spirit of giving, visits with relatives, meals shared, doing for others what you should do year round.

I particularly loved Santa, or the essence of Santa. His spirit and jolly demeanor, well, everything about him. Unfortunately, my son doesn't share my love of the fat elf. As an adult, he believes the lie of Santa is an unfair thing to put upon a child. I thought he might change when he had his own children, but it's been more of a compromise than a change. This is how our compromise works.

Winter Solstice 2012
We live on a farm and so last year (first grandbaby of mine still in the womb), we began the tradition of Winter Solstice. I researched the event and it appears that many of the Santa roots are intrinsic in the Winter Solstice celebrations. We have a meal that is as much of what we grow on our farm as possible. As soon as the sun is down, we build our Solstice fire. There is a speech and we each have a part to play in our thanksgivings. After that, we settle inside to open our gifts (gifts are part of Solstice too) next to my Christmas tree. There will be presents from Santa to my granddaughter. When she is old enough to understand, she'll know that grandma and grandpa are Santa. She'll also know about the real Saint Nicholas and the Shamans who were the first Santa's - because I will teach her.

On Christmas Day, we travel a couple of hours for traditional celebrations with my mom. My son and family will be there too. They then go on to her parents' home for more traditional celebrations of Christmas.

Our multi-tradition Christmas/Solstice celebrations has been wonderful for me - the season lasts even longer!

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