Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sweet Holiday Romance by Liz Flaherty

Roses and Readers, join me in welcoming Liz Flaherty to The Roses of Prose.
Sometimes, as we all know, bad things happen to good people. They get more tricks than treats when they approach the What’s Next in Life? door. Cass Logan, the heroine of The Gingerbread Heart, my contribution to the USA Today bestselling boxed set A Heartwarming Christmas, doesn’t know what’s going to be behind the next door when she returns to Christmas Town in time for the winter holidays. It has been a long season of losses, beginning with her husband’s death and ending with her mother’s. She’s “fifty-few” and too many of those years have been spent as a caregiver. She doesn’t know what’s next, but she does know it’s time for her to take care of herself first.

The first person she sees is Eli Welcome. Retired pastor—though not so retired as he thought—and mystery-writer. He gives her a job, he makes her laugh, they dance together in the kitchen. But he has a bad heart and needs surgery on his hand.

            Oh, boy.
This holiday season, warm your heart with 12 connected sweet holiday romances from 12 Harlequin Heartwarming authors who are USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. This collection of PG-rated holiday romances are all set in Christmas Town, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually. A Heartwarming Christmas will bring you laughter, tears, and happily-ever-afters (no cliffhangers), for more than 1200 pages. Foreword by small town lover and New York Times bestseller Kristan Higgins.

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Liz Flaherty thinks one of the things that keeps you young when you quite obviously aren’t anymore is the constant chances you have to reinvent yourself. Her latest professional incarnation is as a Harlequin Heartwarming author and she is enjoying every minute! She’d love to hear from you at or please come and see her at:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween (again) by Diane Burton

When your turn at blogging here comes at the end of the month, all the topics you thought of have been taken. Unlike my character Alex O'Hara, I'm not crazy about Halloween. I don't like scary books or movies. I hate dressing up in costume for parties. And I hate having so much candy in the house.

Rather than a trick, here's a treat. An excerpt I haven't shared before from my PI mystery THE CASE OF THE BYGONE BROTHER.

Like many of the downtown businesses, I participated in Fair Haven’s Candy Walk. Costumed kids went from door to door and we handed out treats. Since the weather was so nice, I sat in a lawn chair out on the sidewalk. As did many other business owners. In previous years, we scooted our chairs together so we could chat.
Not this year. My two bodyguards insisted on standing close by. Big concession that was. They wanted me to stay inside. In fact, they didn’t want me to participate at all. I told them nobody was keeping me from having a little fun. Sacerne and her minions had already interfered with my life. I wouldn’t let them intimidate me into missing out on my favorite Halloween activity.
I dressed in my witch costume and hid my still-bruised face behind a mask. Jasper worried that Tyler would also wear a mask and sneak up on me. I poo-poo’d that idea, asking if he thought Tyler would rent a kid for more camouflage. The two guys didn’t think that was funny.
My favorite part of the Walk had always been watching the kids. I loved the costumes. More than last year, many wore home-made outfits. Even many parents and dogs wore costumes. After the third Darth Vader, I gave some credence to Jasper’s warning about Tyler coming in disguise. Let me tell you, when a huge black-clad figure with a helmet and cape lumbers toward you, fear streaks down your back. Fortunately, I recognized the Darth Vaders—more from the kids attached to them.
When a blue cardboard police box without a child nearby headed directly toward me, Norman and Jasper went into high alert. They sandwiched Doctor Who’s TARDIS between them and ordered the person inside to show himself.
At the menace in my guards’ voices and actions, parents grabbed their surprised children to pull them out of the way.
Oh my gosh, I knew who was inside the TARDIS. When it looked like Jasper and Norman were going to pull out their guns, I jumped up and cackled. “I’ll get you, my pretty.” Then I pointed my broom at the box. “Ex-ter-min-ate!”
Some parents—Doctor Who fans, I assume—laughed, the rest and their kids eyed me warily, and a freaked-out RJ opened a little hatch at the top.
“See? It’s all part of a game,” I said. “Happy Halloween.”

After the group moved on, I quietly apologized to RJ.
“Man, oh, man, Alex,” he exclaimed. “I thought those guys were going to take me down. Who are they?”
“A present from Nick Palzetti.”

The Case of the Bygone Brother is available at Amazon:

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Please join me in welcoming back, Vijaya Schartz with an exciting post!

I never used to fear the storm, not in all my years... not even when a micro-burst half-destroyed my house over a decade ago. Of course, I was at work at the time, not inside it. But last summer, I was driving on 59th Avenue on a sunny Saturday afternoon, when one of those sudden monsoon storms hit. Within minutes the sky darkened, like twilight in the middle of the day, strong winds, dust, zero visibility, then rain.

Thick walls of water like gray sails waved beyond the windshield, gusty side winds carried large objects across the road and knocked them against hard surfaces with loud bangs. Through the water curtain, I could see car lights in front and in back of me. The wind whooshed like a turbine. The electric poles along the street shook wildly. Lightning hit, close by. Light exploded all around, and thunder cracked and boomed, echoing inside the car, inside my body like a deep drum roll.

That’s when fear set in. My heart beat faster than after running a 10K. Still, I couldn’t panic. I had to think... and fast.

Although the cars had slowed, stopping on the main road with traffic would be suicide. Driving in this chaos would also be suicide as the electric poles swayed dangerously, waving their array of thick power lines overhead. The street was flooding fast. What to do?

Eyes riveted to the right curb that quickly disappeared under the rising tide, I spotted a faint driveway to the side, and remembered it must lead to the DMV parking lot. Following the curb, I managed to get my car off the road and into the wide open space... anywhere. I couldn’t see the white lines on the pavement anyway. Other cars followed my tail lights and parked in a line next to me, as if taking comfort in company. I felt their presence somewhat reassuring.

Were we safe? Not really. There was no safe place to hide from the storm. The flagpole overhead shook dangerously under the gusty winds flapping the flag, and the ropes snapped against it with loud metallic knocks. Garbage cans, branches, and large pieces of debris flew and swept across the open area with unprecedented force. I feared at any moment the wind might lift my little car and throw it against a concrete building.

Then, as fast as it had come, although it seemed to last for hours, the storm moved away, leaving me relieved and shaken at the sight of the destruction. In the last spattering of rain, I could see fallen poles across the flooded street, downed power lines sparking in flood water, traffic lights strewn in the middle of the intersection, and fallen trees.

A few hundred yards south of the DMV parking lot on 59th Avenue, where I would have been if I had not turned, an electric pole had crushed a car, trapping the driver inside, in the middle of a small electrified lake. It was a woman, and I learned later on the news that she was not seriously hurt, but I felt guilty and glad at the same time. I was unscathed, but it could have been me.

In the aftermath of the storm, all the streets in the area were flooded or blocked by debris. People stood on their front porch, staring at their destroyed property, eyes wide, as if wondering how so much destruction could happen in so little time. It was dark, hours later, when I finally reached my small apartment ten blocks away, after many detours and turnarounds, in dangerously flooded streets and bumper to bumper traffic. I was never so glad to hug my cat.

No matter how strong or fearless we are, there is always something or someone stronger than us, and Mother Nature is teaching us lessons at every turn. The memories of this storm will stay with me forever, and I bet they will end up in a book someday.

In the meantime, you can read my latest contemporary romance with a hint of suspense, set in Scottsdale, Arizona, and available in eBook everywhere in all formats:


When Talia runs over billionaire Kyle Dormant with her bicycle in the dog park, she considers their meeting a happy accident. He believes it is destiny, but her physician's mind rebels at such notions. Their budding romance comes to a grinding halt when Kyle won’t wake up from deep sleep... with no medical explanation. Baffled and deeply concerned, Talia digs into his recent past for a plausible cause. Instead, she uncovers dark family secrets. Convinced Kyle's condition was induced, and someone wants him dead, she is anxious to save him, but the closer she gets to the sordid truth… and a possible cure, the greater the risk to both their lives.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What Constitutes Literary Fiction? by Betsy Ashton

Modern publishing is full of genres. Mystery. Romance. Thrillers. YA. Chick-Lit. Women's Lit. And each of these have multiple sub genres, so many that I can't wrap my head around them. I understand that genres were important when brick-and-mortar stores were where we bought our books. We found what we wanted based on where they were shelved.

I understand I can search Amazon by genres, only to find books listed by multiple genres, some of which are truly a stretch. Even Mad Max Unintended Consequences is filed four layers down as "detective." Really? She solves her daughter's murder, but detective? No wonder some readers are disappointed.

But this is not about me. It's about what constitutes literary fiction. I finished [title omitted] by [author omitted] published by [publisher omitted]. The first half was plagued by endless pages of narration. The writer told me the story. S/He explained everything that was happening to the protagonist. I wanted to know what was happening, but more important I wanted to know what the main character was feeling.

In the second half of the book, the author shifted from narration to more dialogue, thus enabling me as a reader to empathize more with the plight of the protagonist. And the plight was dire.

Why does a publisher take a book with a powerful theme (spousal abuse) and wrap it in pages of mind-numbing narration? I wondered where the editor was in the publishing process? Did the editor actually think that all literary fiction should be rendered with limited dialogue?

I'm probably out in left field here, because my book club reads literary fiction the likes of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. You get the picture. Great writers mixing action, dialogue and pitch-perfect narration.

Is it just me or do some publishers think that labeling a novel as "literary fiction," it will elevate it and make it more desirable?

I am so confused. Can anyone help me out?


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

Monday, October 26, 2015

A crazy blast from the past

I have several books that have languished in a desk drawer for years. They have potential, but I just didn't need to dig them out.

Two of them use characters (tangentially) from the current series I'm working on. So I decided to re-read what I wrote and see if there are elements there that I need to incorporate into my current writing. The thought is that these stories will be the penultimate books in the series.

Keep in mind, I wrote these books almost 11 years ago, before I joined any writing groups and before I knew anything about Goal, Motivation, Conflict or anything else.

I was surprised -- the writing was bad in spots, but not horrible. There were plot holes and characters who dropped in never to appear again. And there was a lot of head-hopping (switching POV for no good reason). But there was also some really good dialog and good characters and one intriguing plot line that has real potential.

So I'm rewriting now. Yep, I'm taking one of those old dusty manuscripts and seeing what I can do with it. If nothing else, this is showing me how much I've learned and how I know my craft. All of my "tsks" and head shakes made me realize how far I've come in a relatively short amount of time.

The good thing about a task like this is that it frees me to do other things as well. Yes, I am focused on this, but I find I can take breaks easier from this kind of work to do things like think about promo, my career, etc. I've let career management slide this year and I need to get back on track. I feel like I had a vacation this year and now it's back to the real world.

And my reward for doing that is digging back into this book and working on it. I am having fun, and that's what it's all about as far as I'm concerned. So onward -- my goal is to finish this rewrite this year so I can look forward to a whole new novel in January. I have 11 books done and waiting to publish, and I need to start thinking about that, too.

Busy times ahead!


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Soul Cakes for All Hallows’ Eve by Christy Effinger

Everyone welcome our guest, Christy Effinger. Take it away, Christy.

I adore Halloween and autumn in general. I relish the wildness in the wind, the shifting light, the trees aflame with color. Mellow days soft as s’mores. Nights clear and sharp as cut glass. I watch flocks of migrating geese and remember what’s like to be pulled instinctively in a new direction. I see combines gobbling fields of corn and rediscover my own hunger for harvest food: baked squash, sweet potato soup, and anything flavored pumpkin (I am one of those people, yes I am). Most of all, I love that once a year on October 31 people unlock their front doors, come out of their houses, and speak to each other. As if we need a reason.

One of my Halloween traditions is to make soul cakes for my family. Traditionally, soul cakes were baked on All Hallows’ Eve in England and Ireland during the Middle Ages. These little cakes were distributed to children and beggars who wandered from door to door in an early version of our modern trick-or-treating. Soul cakes are delicious with autumn ale or apple cider. Here’s a link to the recipe I use: (I press raisins on top before baking and omit the powdered sugar.)

In honor of Halloween, the digital version of my paranormal novel Say Nothing of What You See is on sale for $0.99. This sale ends October 30, 2015, so pop over to Amazon and download a spooky e-book to read while you eat all that leftover Halloween candy.

When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon.

Chloe plans to train as a medium but it's Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students.

Then one winter's day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother's dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil's deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost...betrayal.


“You are absolutely stunning, Mira.”

I stole another glance in the mirror. The material was a rich, shimmery gold that fell from my shoulders in folds of liquid light. It looked like something a Greek goddess might wear. Oh, how I wished the girls from Amberville High School could see me in this dress!

“When you came here,” said Dr. Simon, “I had a vision of you like this. I looked at the girl before me, but I saw the woman you are now.”

“Thank you,” I murmured, gesturing toward the piles of clothes on my bed. “You’ve been so generous. I know you’ve spent a good deal of money on me—”

“Money means nothing,” he interrupted abruptly. “I have more than I could ever spend, more than I know what to do with. Don’t consider the cost.”

His tone was brusque, and I wondered if I had offended him.

But the next moment Dr. Simon smiled. “I think of you as my charity case. You were like a doll thrown out in the garbage. I simply rescued you from the trash, cleaned you up, and dressed you in something decent. But the beauty was present all along.” He touched my cheek. “Here.” Then he touched my forehead. “Here.” Then he touched my chest. “And here.”

I knew he was referring to my heart, but even so, his hand on my chest made my face warm with discomfort.

“You blush so easily,” he laughed. “You’ll never be able hide anything, Mira, with such a transparent face.”

“That’s all right,” I said, taking a small step back. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

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