Saturday, May 30, 2015

Home and Family by Diane Burton

It’s still spring here near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, although the heat is rising each day along with the humidity. Flowers are blooming—irises, rhododendrons, and a couple of blooms on the daylilies. 

daylily just starting to bloom

my favorite iris

new last summer

I love  perennials, even though they only bloom for a short time (except for the daylilies which keep going most of the summer). They spread and return stronger and fuller each year. I'm sure I've mentioned before how many of my flowers (like irises and Shasta daisies) came from my mother's garden by way of several of my other houses. Lilies of the valley came from my grandmother's farm via my mom, etc. When I see those flowers, I feel a connection with Mom and Grandma. 

outside my office window

I also brought tiger lilies from my mom's. Some people call them "ditch" lilies because they often grow wild in ditches along country roads. Do they ever spread! So I only brought a small clump from my old house. This is our second summer here in West Michigan, and already the perennials have shown how resilient they are.

Bloom where you are planted.

I can’t remember where I first read (or heard) that expression. It takes resiliency and flexibility to set down roots only to have them yanked out and transplanted again. Those of you who have moved with your (or your spouse’s) job know what I mean. Too often it’s the wife who doesn’t have a choice. She sets down roots, makes a nest, settles in, then—whammo—uprooted again. Flowers have been my way of bringing something of myself along, something that reminds me of “home”—wherever that is.

Home is a nebulous concept. It isn’t a house, although many refer to a building as their home. The slogan “it’s what’s inside that counts” refers to more than a product. What’s inside a house, or rather who’s inside makes a building a home. For our last three houses, it’s only been Hubs and me. We’re a family just as we were when we first married. But when our children and grandchildren are in the house, it’s feels so much better, like home. I understand the appeal of multi-generational homesteads. 

In the television series Blue Bloods, an episode doesn’t go by without the entire Reagan clan (four generations) sitting around the dining room table for Sunday dinner. What a tradition. It helps that they all live close by. In today’s society, families are spread out across a state or even across the country. Too often extended families only get together for weddings and funerals. Maybe even a reunion.

How do we preserve the sense of family?

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

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Please join me in welcoming guest blogger, Peggy Jaeger to The Roses of Prose.

I was thumbing through a few of my older manuscripts today and found something most of them had in common – despite my never realizing it before: they all take place in Autumn.

Hmmmm. Interesting.

I didn’t take me long to discover why I’d unconsciously set them in that time of year.
I live in New Hampshire, one of the prettiest states in the contiguous 48. Especially in – you got it! – Autumn. The changing colors of September through November are amazing to watch. We have a tourist cottage industry here in New England called Leaf Peeping season and the tourists themselves are referred to as Leaf Peepers.
If you’ve ever taken a car tour up around these parts in the Fall, you know why it’s such a popular time of year.

If you haven’t, well, what are you waiting for??

My very first New England autumn was memorable for so many things, but most of all my introduction to the natural beauty of this region. I watched the leaves on the trees turn form vibrant verdant to crisp apple red and then on to golden yellow and burnt umber/orange. I could have filled a Crayola 64 pack with all the different shades and hues I saw blossoming and changing everyday in my backyard.

I live in the woods, so I have a front row seat for all this splendor every day. And I am so thankful for it.

The trees lining my property form an enclosure of beauty all year round. But in the Fall, that beauty changes to a patchwork and chaos of stimulating colors that just tickle the ol’ eyes and heart.

Since I love autumn so much, it stands to reason that I have my characters fall in love during that season. And since I set so many of my stories in New England, with so much natural beauty surrounding them, the characters are influenced by that beauty, helping them fall into love.

Kind of a cute euphemism, no? Falling into love in the fall?
(I know, but I can’t help being this way, so deal!)

Anyway…the setting of any story actually becomes a character in many ways, especially if the setting is integral to the story line. My third book in the MacQuire Women Series, First Impressions, takes place in the Fall and there are many references to the season that help make up the core of the book , a baseball game at Fenway Park and apple picking in a local orchard just two serious plot points. They wouldn’t have been as effective if they hadn’t taken place in the season they did.

For the writers out there, what season is your favorite to write about? Or are you an equal opportunity season author? If you have a favorite, why is it your fave? Winter is a huge season to write about , brought home by all the romance books written with Christmas love stories. June and Summer bride stories are popular as well. Really, any season could be made to promote love. Which is your favorite?

So, what season do you like to read and/or write about? Drop me a line and share your thoughts.

Symphony pianist Moira Cleary comes home after four years of touring, exhausted, sick, and spiritually broken. Emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of someone she trusted has left her gaunt, anxious, and at a crossroads both professionally and personally.

Moira’s best friend, veterinarian Quentin Stapleton, wants nothing more than to help Moira get well. Can his natural healing skills make it possible for her to open her heart again? And can he convince her she’s meant to stay home now with the family that loves her - and with him - forever?

“Remember when your cousin Tiffany got married in the backyard here?”
Confused, Moira nodded.
Quentin rubbed her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “When the Reverend told Cole ‘you can kiss your bride,’ and he swooped her off the ground, spun her around and kissed her silly? Remember what you said?”
 “I think I said it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen.”
He nodded. “The exact quote was, ‘I hope someone kisses me like that some day.’”
Her grin was quick at the memory. “Pat snorted and said I’d better be satisfied with licks from the horses and Rob Roy because no guy was ever gonna kiss me.”
“He wasn’t known for tact back then.” He rubbed a hand down her back as he held her. “Remember what happened later on behind the barn?”
Because she did, she couldn’t stop the heat from spreading up her face like wildfire. When she nodded again, he said, “You wanted to know what it felt like to be kissed like that and since I was your best friend, you thought I should be the one to do it, because you – quote - felt safe with me – unquote.”
“What was I? Eleven?”
“Thirteen. And I was more than willing. Almost broke my heart in two when you said afterward, ‘I don’t see what all the fuss is about.’”
“Hush.” He kissed her forehead. “Ever since that day, all I’ve wanted is a second chance. Now,” he pulled her body closer, wrapped both arms around her small waist, his hands resting just above the dent in her spine. “We’re both a little older, a little more mature. Some of us are much more experienced—”
“And conceited.”
“Experienced,” he said, the laugh in his voice quiet and seductive, “and things can be so much better.”

Author bio:

Peggy Jaeger’s love of writing began in the third grade when she won her first writing contest with a short story titled THE CLOWN. After that, there was no stopping her. Throughout college and after she became a Registered Nurse, she had several Nursing Journal articles published, in addition to many mystery short stories in Literary Magazines. When her daughter was born, Peggy had an article titled THE VOICES OF ANGELS published and reprinted in several parenting magazines, detailing the birth and the accident that almost turned this wonderful event into a tragedy. She had two children’s books published in 1995 titled THE KINDNESS TALES and EMILY AND THE EASTER EGGS, which were illustrated by her artist mother-in-law. While her daughter grew, Peggy would write age appropriate stories for her to read along with, and finally, to read on her own. Her YA stories are mysteries involving smart and funny 12-13 year old girls and an unusual collection of friends and relatives. They all take place in the 1980’s.

She has a Master’s Degree in Nursing Administration and had several articles published on Alzheimer’s Disease when she ran an Alzheimer’s In Patient care unit during the 1990’s

In 2005 she was thrilled to have an article on motherhood placed in the CHICKEN SOUP FOR EVERY MOTHER’S SOUL edition. She has won several awards in various Writer’s Digest short story and personal article categories over the years. Recently, she has placed first in the Dixie Kane 2013 Memorial Contest in the Short/Long Contemporary romance Category, and in the Single Title Contemporary Category, and third place in the ICO Romance Contest for 2013, and in 2014 she was a finalist in the Put Your heart in a Book contest.

A life-long and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Peggy has embraced the techno age and writes for three blogs, all detailing events in her life. One titled, 50 pounds for 50 years is a personal blog about weight loss, one about her life as an EMPTY NESTER and her most recent one MOMENTS FROM MENOPAUSE, a humorous and informative guide through this time in a woman’s life.
She also has her own website where she writes about everyday life and how it relates to writing. Twitter is her current obsession, but she is never far from her Facebook pages.

In 2015 she will have her first three contemporary romance novels published by The Wild Rose Press: Skater’s Waltz, book 1 in the MaQuire Women Series, and There’s No Place Like Home, book 2. Book 3 is titled First Impression. Three more are in the works for this series, in addition to her Cooking with Kandy series.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015


"The freedom of boredom...fosters creativity" -- Mollie Cox Bryan

I can honestly say I have never been bored for longer than fifteen minutes in my entire life. From the time I was a wee thing, I was curious about the world as I knew it, that is, in about a three-foot-wide circle I could reach by crawling. Grass and pebbles outside, table legs and my grandmother's shoes inside. Everything was fascinating.

As I grew older, I stopped putting everything in my mouth and began listening to people's voices, to music, to birdsong. I could sit quietly for hours listening to my grandmother or mother read to me. I eavesdropped on grownups' conversation without understanding much of it.

I learned to talk. I learned I could have my own opinions, although wanting a snack before dinner wasn't an encouraged opinion. I grew up strong-willed, stubborn, obstinate even. I met my first imaginary friend who didn't mind my strong opinions. She loved me for who I was; I loved her because she was fun to play with. No, she didn't exist but that didn't matter. She did in my head.

Those traits help now that I'm a full-time writer. I still have imaginary friends, many of whom live much more interesting lives than I do. I have voices in my head telling me stories, some of which I write in my books. I can still sit and play with these imaginary friends for hours on end, fingers flying over the keyboard, making the stories come to life on the page.

Boredom? Not in my vocabulary. Not in my life.


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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Settling in ... for a week or two

Finished up my latest round of travel (Iowa-Kansas City-Charleston, round trip). I had a great time and am glad I made the effort to visit Charleston, which is a charming city. It has a small town feel, and is very welcoming and friendly. It was fun to play tourist and go on bus tours and carriage tours and walking tours. We even took in a minor league baseball game.

Then home to 300 email messages awaiting me at the Day Job. That's about right, I average about 100 a day or so. It took a few days to fight my way through that, and now I'm back on an even keel again, getting ready to settle in for the summer -- for 3 weeks, until I travel again, that is.

While traveling, I did something I seldom do: I flew without any entertainment -- no Kindle, no tablet, no magazine. I threw caution to the winds and grabbed a book from the airport bookstore, one by my favorite author (Martha Grimes). I spent several enjoyable hours revisiting old friends (her detective stories have been my favorite for years). I forgot how much I enjoy reading a good book -- if I got nothing else out of traveling, it was great to rediscover reading....

Monday, May 25, 2015

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Veterans by Velda Brotherton

Roses and Readers, join me in welcoming Velda Brotherton as guest author today.

We think of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as something fairly new. A disorder that affects veterans of war, but wasn’t recognized as such as popularly as following the Vietnam War.  In writing the Victorian Series, I wrote Lord Blair Prescott as being controlling, withdrawn, and prone to riding the prairie all night. When I began work on Rowena's Hellion, the second in the series which would deal with him as the hero, I remembered what a fan had written regarding Blair Prescott, She said, "Velda if you can pull off why anyone would love a man like this, then I'll be surprised."

So my work was laid out for me. Why did Blair Prescott behave the way he did toward the woman he was supposed to marry? So much so that she talked an outlaw into kidnapping her to prevent the marriage. Why did he often get drunk before he could sleep?
An old friend said he had been a gentle, quiet boy growing up. Could something terrible have happened to cause this behavior? Being familiar with PTSD because of research for my earlier book, Beyond the Moon, I began to research wars in which he might have fought and found the Franco Prussian War of 1870-71 and the elite forces known as Zuoaves who fought under Napoleon III. So I sent the poor young man, a second son in a titled English family, off to war.

Since that decision and the first draft of Rowena's Hellion, I've learned a lot about the history of PTSD. For thousands of years diaries have been found that were written by soldiers and others suffering from this malady that had no name.

During the Civil War military physicians, at a loss to treat the problems, simply mustered the extreme cases out during the first three years of the war. “They were put on trains with no supervision, the name of their home town or state pinned to their tunics, others were left to wander about the countryside until they died from exposure or starvation,” wrote Richard A. Gabriel, a consultant to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and one of the foremost chroniclers of PTSD.

Gabriel’s research tells us that in 1863 the number of insane soldiers simply wandering around was so great, there was a public outcry. Because of this, and at the urging of surgeons, the first military hospital for the insane was established in 1863. The most common diagnosis was nostalgia.

In earlier times French doctors termed the symptoms maladie du pays, and the Spanish, confronted with the same reactions among their soldiers, called it estar roto (literally, “to be broken”).

As late as World War II and the Korean War, men were not treated for the symptoms of this disorder. It was by then called battle fatigue or shell shock. Today doctors are working on treatments to help men returning from war deal with this debilitating disorder that include drugs and counseling that teaches these wounded warriors to handle their problems with the horrific memories and flashbacks.

Excerpt: “I decided I was meant to be a spinster. Even thought of going into the convent, but the sisters were so mean spirited at St. Ann’s that I did not think I would enjoy that.”
“Oh, love, I cannot imagine you as a nun. Never.”
“What, you think I’m not worthy?”
“Not that at all. I think you are too full of mischief. And you enjoy the sort of loving that isn’t allowed in a convent. Truth be known, I can see where Tyra gets her—what is it the westerners call it?—orneriness.”
She punched his shoulder gently. “Is that right? I will have you know I am the picture of decorum.”
“Oh, you are?” He laughed again. “I just realized something.”
“What’s that?”
“I am actually enjoying myself. I cannot remember the last time I felt this good.”
Tears filled her eyes and she cupped his face.
“Rowena, don’t cry. What is it?”
“I want you to be happy, so much it hurts me here.” She clenched a fist over her heart, sucked in a sob. “I guess that’s what love is.”
Silence covered him like a cloak, and he stared at her. He was so frightened for her, yet so sure he needed her more than he needed to take his next breath. Took her fist in his hand, pulled it to his lips and kissed the fingers tenderly. He could not speak. Sat there gazing down at her and hanging on to her hand. She was his connection to reality.

Blurb: Loving a man damaged by war is a challenge, but Blair’s haunted eyes capture Rowena’s nurturing heart. She struggles to bring peace to this man who rides the Kansas prairie in the moonlight, wild to escape the demons who follow him from the battlefields.The woman haunts him as well, but he dare not follow his desires for fear he will hurt her.

Twitter: @veldabrotherton
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