Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring & a New Release by Diane Burton

Where has the year gone? It’s the end of March already. I know that’s not very original. We all seem amazed at the quick passage of time. Remember when we were kids and time dragged? Spring has finally come to Michigan. I don’t dare say it’s the end of snow. If past years are any indication, we’ll get more—hopefully, only flurries. Trees and bushes are budding and spring bulbs are poking their heads through the dirt.

Easter will be here before we know it, and that signals the release of my newest book. Connecting a religious holiday with a PI mystery probably sounds sacrilegious. In recent posts, I promised to have The Case of the Meddling Mama published by Spring, then I narrowed it done to by Easter. This is the book that seemed to take forever to finish. And I have no idea why. I love my character. Alex O’Hara is quirky, fun, and gets into almost as many scrapes as Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. Alex’s main squeeze Nick is a mystery. He comes and goes at the will of his employer, a secret government agency. A hot topic in today’s news—opioid addiction—is featured in the story.

Even though the manuscript is with my editor-extraordinaire, our own Alicia Dean, Meddling Mama is up for pre-order on Amazon and Kobo at a reduced price. You might think that’s an odd combination. I have a good reason. Amazon covers the U.S. and its subsidiaries hit most other countries. Kobo is huge in the rest of the world. Amazing the things you find out on writer loops. I’d never even heard of Kobo when I first started to self-publish. The Case of the Meddling Mama will be available at most online vendors on April 17, the day after Easter.

My wonderful cover designer, Florence Price at The Novel Difference, did a fabulous job on the cover. When I started the series, she suggested we use the same scene but change with the seasons. The Case of the Meddling Mama takes place in Spring, so she added pots of tulips in front of Alex’s office. Although people are enjoying a sunny day at the beach, they’re too smart to go into Lake Michigan’s frigid waters. A big event in West Michigan is Tulip Time, a week of Dutch-themed parades, crafts, food, and dancing. Of course, I had to add that to the story that takes place in the fictional resort town of Far Haven, similar to Holland, Michigan.

Here’s a little bit about The Case of the Meddling Mama.

Once again, Alex O’Hara is up to her ears in mysteries. After surviving an attempted murder, all she wants is R&R time with Nick Palzetti. But his mother leaving his father (“that horse’s patoot”) and moving in with Alex puts a crimp in their plans. Then Nick leaves on assignment and the teen she rescued from an abusive father believes his buddy is doing drugs. Meanwhile, Alex has two easy cases to take her mind off her shaky relationship with Nick—a philandering husband and a background check on a client’s boyfriend. Piece of cake.

When two women entered the exclusive dress shop, Ellie left to greet them while her assistant chivvied me to put on the shoes. White socks, black strappy heels, and the gorgeous emerald green bridesmaid dress. I made such a fashion statement as I stood on the platform. Call Vogue.
I so didn’t want to be there, especially when I recognized one of the women. I’d been the bearer of bad news to Nora Finley last week. Her Mr. Perfect turned out to be a Black Widower. He and his cohorts had the perfect plan to kill her. A plan I thwarted just in time.
“Oh, you’re here,” Nora cried out when she spotted me and tugged on her companion’s wrist, practically dragging her over. “Ginnie, this is the PI that saved my life. Alex O’Hara!”
I cringed while heat bloomed in my cheeks.
Nora looked up at me. “I’ve been telling Ginnie here that she absolutely must hire you to check out her boyfriend. She met him on one of those online dating sites.”
Ginnie winced, like she wanted the floor to open up and swallow her. I knew the feeling.

The Case of the Meddling Mama is now available for pre-order at $1.99.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. When she isn’t writing cozy mysteries, like the Alex O’Hara PI series, she’s writing science fiction romance and romantic suspense. She’s a regular contributor here on the 30th of the month, at Paranormal Romantics on the 13th, and on her own blog every Monday.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March Rocks! By Mackenzie Crowne

From little candy hearts and hand-made valentines to fat flakes shimmering beyond the window on a snowy Christmas eve, if you’re like me, every month in the year holds special memories. Waving flags, parades and potato salad, jack-o-lanterns and pillowcases full of candy, each flip of the calendar page returns me to my childhood. June delivers a thrilling sense of freedom, a throw-back to that wonderful last day of school every year. September rolls in on a bittersweet wave of magnificent fall colors and chilly winds hinting at the winter to come.

But, this is March, you say, a quiet, unassuming month lacking any major points of note. Wrong, or as they say in the Irish, Micheart! March rocks! Here in Phoenix, where I hang my hat, March means wildflowers - like the beauties decorating the hills of my mountain escape - hot air balloons and the annual Renaissance Fair. For a chick who detests the cold, a month shooing off the dog days of winter to usher in the early signs of spring is a big deal.

March also means St. Patrick’s Day. For a chick from a large, loving, LOUD Irish clan, a month celebrating the streak of green running through the soul of mankind is magical. And for an Irish chick who writes romance, March inspires tales of enduring love amongst the vibrant hills of Ireland, stories seeped in things old and mystical. But more on that later.

I admit, blarney comes naturally to me, so, count yourself lucky I’m curbing my Irish gift of gab to wish you a happy spring and a very happy St. Patrick’s Day with my favorite Irish salute…

May those who love you, love you,
and those who don’t love you,
may God turn their hearts,
and if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
may he turn their ankles…
so you’ll know them by their limping.

When Mac isn’t enjoying the wildflowers decorating her mountain escape, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like Sam and V, the hero and heroine of To Win Her Back, the latest in her Players series from KensingtonBooks

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Setting is More Than Another Character By Karen McCullough

Please welcome Karen McCullough to The Roses of Prose.

A few weeks ago, I was told by a reader that I had “really brought the mountains to life” in my most recent romantic suspense novel, Hunter’s Quest. I felt that was high praise indeed. The mountains in question are the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina and I tried hard to work them in as a necessary part of the story. 

I don’t necessarily subscribe to the dictum that setting is another character in a book because that underrates the power that setting has in itself. Setting is more than a character. It’s the backdrop for everything. When done right, it informs all the characters and their behavior, becomes a part of each scene, and adds to the challenges facing the protagonist(s). It’s the world the characters operate in. 

These are the first two paragraphs of Hunter’s Quest

The sudden, sharp crack of a rifle shot, way too close, shattered the peace of a lovely June day. 

Moments before, Kristie Sandford had been driving sedately and musing on camera angles and light as she reveled in the sun-drenched beauty of a back road in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Pink and blue wildflowers grew along the verge, just in front of shrubs in varying shades of green. The scent of honeysuckle drifted in the open window of the car. 

I tried to pick out the details that would draw the reader into the mountain setting – the colorful wildflowers and variety of green shrubs growing nearby. Then the scent of honeysuckle teases at a different sense-smell. But the details do more than just tell the reader what our protagonist is seeing. Blooming plants show that the season is either late spring or summer, and their presence in profusion on the road suggests a rural area. The weather is beautiful. The fact that Kristie notices those facts reinforces that she’s a photographer with an artistic bent. 

And then there’s the detail in the first sentence that changes everything. The “sudden, sharp crack of a rifle shot.” 

Anyone who’s spent much time in the mountains knows that the sound of gunfire isn’t all that unusual there. But Kristie is a city girl and the shot isn’t a distant one. It’s close, so close in fact, that the intended target runs out in front of her car and she nearly hits him. 

There wasn't enough room left to stop. If she swerved sharply enough to miss him, she'd induce a skid that might take her off the road. The agonized squeal of tires on asphalt scraped her nerves raw. Her pulse hammered in her ears,
At the last possible second, he jumped out of the way, diving to the side. 

A skid would be super-dangerous here because these are narrow roads with little leeway. I go with sounds in this case to show her response to the situation. The tires squeal and her pulse hammers in her ears. 

The man in question slides across the gravel until he hits a tree. Kristie stops to check if he’s injured, and here’s where she realizes some of the additional challenges and dangers the setting provides. 

Her stomach clenched tighter when she surveyed the area around him. The tree he'd hit had saved him from a worse fate. A few feet beyond it, the ground dropped off sharply, diving into a ravine some forty feet down. If he'd gone over the edge he would have been seriously injured or killed. She couldn’t even think about what would’ve happened if she’d swerved too much to avoid him. 

And then another two men show up, obviously locals, and obviously not friends to the man Kristie stopped to help. In fact, one of them is holding a rifle… 

This is just the beginning of Kristie and Jason Hunter’s adventures in the mountains, searching for a missing man.  

Aspects of plot and characters are all influenced by the mostly rural mountain setting. But my two protagonists are both city people and have fears that the setting will challenge before the story is resolved. Solving the interlocking mysteries of unexplained fires and a missing person will require they gain some understanding of how small towns, somewhat isolated from urban areas, operate and the effects on their inhabitants. 

Blurb: Kristie Sandford's vacation is interrupted when a man jumps out in front of her car. She avoids hitting him, but when she stops to see if he's hurt, he demands she help him escape from the people chasing him. Kristie has an odd "gift" - she occasionally gets warning messages, and she gets one saying he needs her help or he'll die. Jason Hunter is an NC SBI (North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation) agent working on his own time searching for a friend, an investigative reporter who disappeared while tracking down rumors of corruption in the bureaucracy of a small mountain town. Jason is grateful to Kristie for rescuing him, but dubious when she insists she has to continue helping him. Kristie is attracted to Jason, but the edge of danger she senses in him reminds her too much of the abusive family she escaped as soon as she could. 

Still, the message said he'd die if she didn't help him, and the messages have been right before. 

Karen McCullough is the author of more than a dozen published novels in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres and has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, three grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years. 

Author’s links:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Retreats by Betsy Ashton

No, not retreating, but retreats, as in getaways to refresh, recharge, and commune with nature or with friends.

Have you ever noticed that men go off on outings that are generally sports-related. Golf. Fishing. Hunting. Professional sports. Men seem to be comfortable doing something together without talking. They like to be in each other's company doing something.

Women that I know are different. They love retreats with other women where something special happens. That "something" is generally bundled under "bonding."

For example, my daughter is going away for a weekend with her mother, a couple of cousins, and an aunt or two. They meet halfway between where they live and stay at a hotel. Not the Ritz, just a hotel with clean beds and maybe room service. Last year, they planned to strip an outlet mall of everything. And I mean everything. Instead, they ever left the hotel. They ended up having a pajama party and talking and talking. They shared wine and memories. They had so much fun that they're doing it again in a couple of weeks. Mind you, the older generation is approaching 70 and the younger generation have all passed 40. But, they have a great relationship and can't wait to see each other.

I love writers' retreats, kind of like a gigantic writing-nerd weekend. Several writers get together in a house at the beach or in the mountains for the soul purpose of  producing part of a book or a series of poems or a short story or a play. During the day, we write. Those of us who prefer writing in silence can take our laptops outdoors or stay inside. Those who need stimulation take their laptops out to a local coffee shop, a Starbucks, or a diner. We meet again late in the afternoon over cocktails or wine and share how our day went. Sometimes we read our drafts. Sometimes we savor the words in private, hoping they sustain frequent edits. At the end, we are closer as women, closer as writers, and closer as people. We leave refreshed and recharged.

My cousin prefers silent retreats, She's gone on several in various countries and states. She finds the lack of chatter, the quiet of her own thoughts, and disconnecting from all electronic media restorative. I want to go on a silent retreat. I know some of you spluttered coffee all over your desk. Betsy? Silent? No flippin' way. Yes, flippin' way. I spent some time in a Buddhist convent in my youth and cherish the silence of being in the moment. I may live life out loud, but I also live it inside my head, in the quiet of the night, in the moment.

What retreats turn you on? Care to share ideas?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery. She has a new short story, "Midnight in the Church of the Holy Grape," in 50 Shades of Cabernet. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and on NPR.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ice, ice baby

It's the Good News, Bad News thing: The Good News: it's not that bad. The Bad News: it still hurts.

I'm an avid walker, and I always get in my 70K a week. For about a month, I've been plagued by a painful right foot. Just one spot on the foot. I thought, "Yikes. Bunyon? Bone spur?"

Went to the podiatrist and he x-rayed it (rather a nifty machine, I must say). The Good News: "You have marvelous bones. All straight and good, no problem."

The Bad News: no problem. Probably a ligament inflammation. Maybe muscle strain. Options? Quit walking (not an option, really). Or ice. I always have an ice pack in the freezer, so no biggie. I now prop up the hoof every night, plop the ice pack on it, and so far, it's working okay. The pain is diminishing except for those moments when it's excruciating. Which are few and far between. And luckily, we're leaving the winter months, so I don't really mind a pile of ice sitting on my foot (or so I keep reminding myself).

Another good part of this: it immobilizes me. Anyone who knows me knows that I seldom sit for long periods of time (unless forced to do so by circumstance). I am always getting up, moving around, pacing, moving. But with an ice bag on one foot, a cat draped over the other one, a pile of sewing on my lap, and a glass of wine close at hand: I am immobile and often remain so for long periods. Which is all helping the healing.

And it's helping my manuscript. I keep a notepad at hand and jot ideas as I sit, often sketching out an entire chapter in one sitting.

Maybe there's something to this "sit and be still" stuff I hear about...


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Spring Cleaning by Sorchia DuBois

Hey Roses and Readers, please welcome Sorchia DuBois as guest blogger today.

It’s the time of year when winter’s dust hangs heavy in the air and everything in the entire house seems dirty.

Time to wash blankets and comforters and hang them in the sun.  Time to scrub the floors, dust the shelves, and then move outside to clean up the gardens.

This year, spring cleaning also means putting the finishing touches on a couple of works in progress which have been lingering through the winter.  Revision and self-editing is hard work!

Elmore Leonard (famous guy, author of Get Shorty and a boatload of crime and suspense thrillers) said, “Try to leave out the parts readers skip.”

Easy to say, Elmore, old buddy. My words are all golden and tossing any of them out is about as easy as chopping of a thumb.

Stephen King (also a famous guy and author of nightmares for over fifty years) advises writers to “kill your darlings.” Steve—bubby––have a heart! Oh, yeah. Nevermind.

But, of course, both of these guys are 100% correct. So here’s my question to you as readers, writers, citizens of the world—what parts do you habitually skip?

Here is a list—by no means exhaustive—of things I tend to skim over. And let me preface this by saying I am as guilty of any other writer of foisting elements of a similar ilk on an unsuspecting and undeserving public. I try not to. I get stuff betaed and edited, but sometimes when I look at a story I wrote in the misty past—BLAM, there it is.


I love Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, Edgar Alan Poe, and various other authors considered classic literary figures. But boy could they talk. As a young reader, I did skip those pages-long descriptions of everything from characters to scenery to the lineage of minor characters. As an . . .ahem . . .more mature reader, I kind of  enjoy those parts and linger over them like a fragrant dram of a very old single malt Scotch. So I think an appreciation for descriptive prose may come with  . . .ahem again . . .maturity. That said, Sweet Mother Merryweather, sometimes enough is enough.

Meaningless Dialogue

I once started to read a book which began with a detailed conversation over breakfast. I know the author was trying to build character and achieve a sense of time and place and situation, but geez. We had things like:

“Pass the salt.”

“Here’s the salt.”

“Would you like the pepper?”

“Yes, please hand me the pepper.”

No kidding. That’s how it BEGAN. And it went on like that for six pages. She did a bit of description and included some action tags (i.e. Charles passed the salt.) But all in all, what little I learned about the characters and the situation could have been accomplished with a couple of lines of dialogue and an action tag. I skipped a bunch of it, thumbed ahead a bit to find more of the same, and put the book aside thinking maybe, when I had time and patience, I would pick it up again. Never did.

Backstory dump

Pages and pages of backstory. Things you need to know but presented in a dizzying whirl of characters, conflicts, plot twists. And it’s still an info dump if one character talks for seemingly hours about past events the other character would be well-aware of.

I’ve done it! The best advice I ever got was to include only the info the reader needs to know to understand that particular scene—no more, but no less. If you do that, you eventually get them brought up to speed and they enjoy the journey. That’s the theory, anyway. Easy to say, hard to do.


I could include things like unlikeable or insipid character descriptions, stereotypical characters and plots, purple prose, problems with unity or flow, errors in historical fact—all things I admit to doing as a writer but try to fix and all things that may doom a book to banishment for me as a reader.

So tell me, dear reader/writer/citizen, how should I prioritize my literary spring cleaning? What needs to be tossed in the trash with last year’s magazines and those lids to plastic containers I no longer have? Leave a comment with something I can add to my Spring Cleaning To-Do list.

 A little note: Catch up with me at for updates on these pesky works in progress, a monthly giveaway, and spooky, creepy things that say “BOO” at unexpected times. It’s always Halloween in Sorchia’s Universe.

And check out my latest release Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones before book 2 in the series hits the virtual book stands Summer 2017.


Granny’s dying, but Zoraida can save her with a magic crystal of smoky quartz. Too bad the crystal is in Scotland––in a haunted castle––guarded by mind-reading, psychopathic sorcerers.

Getting inside Castle Logan is easy. Getting out––not so much. Before she can snatch the stone, Zoraida stumbles into a family feud, uncovers a wicked ancient curse, and finds herself ensorcelled by not one but two handsome Scottish witches. Up to their necks in family intrigue and smack-dab in the middle of a simmering clan war, Zoraida and her best friend Zhu discover Granny hasn’t told them everything.

Not by a long shot.

Buy Links

Barnes and Noble:

Wild Rose Press:


“You always assume I can’t take care of myself.” I pull away and take a couple of tottering uncertain steps into the chilly, dark hallway. He catches me, hoisting me into his arms again.

“Is it so hard to admit you are frightened? The place is a labyrinth. They’ll find your frozen corpse in the cellar if you aren’t careful. You’ve had a difficult day and a lot to drink.”

“I’m not frightened and I’m not drunk and I’m not helpless.” I think about that for a minute. “Well, I’m not helpless.”

“I quite like carrying you around.” His voice rumbles against my hair. “I won’t always be here to save you from the dark.”

“I don’t need you to save me from anything.” My tone is unconvincingly weak, and the fact that my head is plastered against his shoulder does not aid my case.

The darkness is complete, but he strides down the hall with surety. Up a flight of stairs, down another hallway. He sets me on my feet outside my room. I sway, steadying myself with a hand on his chest, twining my fingers in the dark hair peeping through the front of his robe.

“You need to be careful.” He moves closer, covering my hand with his own.

“Of what?”

The draft in the hallway chills me clear through— except where he touches me. Tense and warm, inches away. His breath on my cheek tastes of whisky. I close my eyes, imagining the scratch of the stubble on his face, the soft touch of his lips, the solid strength of his arms.

“Of everything. Everyone.” With a jolt, he releases me. A blue shimmer recedes down the hallway with the sound of his steps. I lean against the door, shivering.

He doesn’t trust me. It takes a powerful wizard to wield something like the Stone of Adamantine. Michael and Ursula fit the description. So does Shea. And so, they all imagine, do I.


Sorchia Dubois writes Gothic romance and paranormal mysteries from her upstairs office overlooking a piney Ozarks woods

Her books delve into the occult—reincarnation, psychic powers, mysticism, ancient cultures, and good old fashioned “ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night.” 

A proud member of the Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at swilling Scotch at Scottish events. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Loveable Desert by Brenda Whiteside

Apache Lake
I live in Arizona and have most of my life. I was born in Phoenix, and until I married a man in the Army, I'd barely gotten outside the state. I never liked the heat or the desert so following him to Massachusetts, Germany, and Florida was exciting. Florida was a little sticky in the summer, but the greenery and water made me happy.

After the Army, we moved around some more and returned to
Arizona several times. Now we're back for good. I've found if I stay north of Phoenix, I like Arizona. There are picturesque mountains, areas with snow, and the northern prairies are lovely. The desert is more lush too. The heat not so bad.

This year we had much needed rain. There are plants in the desert that can lie dormant for years waiting for that rain. Orange, yellow, and purple flowered bushes dot the landscape. My allergies are giving me hell, but the beauty of a high desert in bloom is easy on the eyes.

My five book Love and Murder Series is set mainly in the northern
Near Tonto Basin
mountains and prairies of Arizona. Four books are available and the fifth will be ready later in the year.

Check Out All Of My Books On Amazon

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Now It's the Hero's Turn by Margo Hoornstra

 Beautiful Niagara Falls

At the risk of boring readers silly with my attempt at promo for the box set, All In For Love: A Lucky 7 Anthology coming out in June, I have more to share. As many know by now, my contribution is titled For Money or Love. Having introduced Lindsey Carr in my last couple of posts, I figured Dan Montgomery should have at least a bit of time in the spotlight.

Please join my characters at the LaBonne Chance Casino in Victory, New York near the always beautiful Niagara Falls with more from For Money or Love.

She’s one woman he can’t afford to lose...

Mega-millionaire Daniel Winston Montgomery lives to work. Money means everything to Dan, and he’ll do whatever it takes to preserve his wealth. His brilliant top assistant, Lindsey Carr, is essential to his firm’s continued success. Though, truth be told, he needs Lindsey far more than he she needs him…

Computer Brainiac Lindsey Carr wants more out of life than being no more than boring tech support. Convinced Dan and his company will survive just fine without her, she tenders her resignation. He’s never required more from her than her superior analytical skills, except for that one time she won’t let herself think about…

Unwilling to let Lindsey go, Dan must fight to keep her in his life. In a clash of priorities, will he choose money…or love?

Here's a taste of the story from Dan's point of view:

“Don’t worry, Rory.” Dan Montgomery flattened his palms on top of the large black lacquered conference table and leaned toward who was clearly his most exasperating client. “We’ve run into this type of glitch before. It’s a relatively easy fix.”

“I sure as hell hope you’re right.” The man across from him reached into the pocket of his grey pin striped suit coat for a handkerchief he mopped across a flushed forehead. “Check that. You damn well better be right.”

 “I know I am.” Dan flexed his elbows to move in closer and wished to hell Lindsey was here to back him up.

Blunt fingers shoved the sweat dampened material into his pants pocket. “Every second that software of yours doesn’t work right is costing my employers money.”

“I get that. Your up time sucks.”

Rory’s brow creased far enough to draw down the top of his bald head. “What the hell does that mean?”

“Uptime. The amount of time your systems are functioning properly.”

“Which is not nearly enough. But, it’s the down time I’m concerned about. I got a boatload of that. I talked my people at La Bonne Chance into buying your high priced product and it’s not working right.”

Dan did his utmost to stay in control. Correction! Upware 6.8 is not being utilized right. If Lindsey were here, she’d have a tactful way to say user failure. Teeth gritted, he took time to swallow before opening his mouth. “As soon as I can remote into your system and get an in depth look, we’ll have the issues you’re having identified and repaired.”

“If you can accomplish that in the next couple of days, you’ll save me more than a few million bucks.”

“Won’t be a problem.”  As Rory talked, he’d mentally formulated a probable solution. Now all was left to do was bounce the concept off Lindsey. Get her to fine tune the process, then start implementation. With a wrist flick he checked his watch. As a tribute to his confidence in their star programmer, Dan took a chance as he went on. “With any luck, we’ll have it done yet today.”

“I got no use for luck. What I expect are results.”

A sharp retort thundered to the forefront of Dan’s tongue. He bit it back. To think I got dressed up for this. When Rory called the day before to say he’d be over for a face to face meeting, Dan figured he’d better suit and tie up for the occasion.

“Name one time we’ve not given you results.” He slammed both hands down hard on the table top. An array of empty coffee cups in its center rattled.

Eyes wide, Rory’s head jerked back as if Dan had just taken a swing at him. Then he blinked and smiled. “I guess I deserved that.”

Arms folded over his chest, he made no comment one way of the other. The fact Rory was one of his initial clients when he first started out afforded him a pass. This time.

When Dan kept silent, Rory spoke up again. “I do appreciate you not holding a grudge when we dropped your product. Temporarily.”

Dan shrugged then and uncrossed his arms. “You made a business decision. That’s all.”

Rory’s head came up. “The damned board of directors made a business decision. A bad business decision when they decided to take the cheaper bid from your competitor. I was out voted.”

Dan seriously questioned whether Rory’s version of his casino’s desertion as a client was entirely true but didn’t call him on it. “Either way, we can get you re-established with an updated download.”

“You’d come by personally to oversee that, right?”

To a casino? Oh hell no.

Dan held in the knee jerk reply then couldn’t answer right away. Not that Rory would grasp the concept, but these days most of their clients were miles away from Victory, New York. Some even in other countries. Personal, on site visits were hardly the norm at UpTech. “Depends on my schedule.”

Rory shrugged. “I was kind of looking for that assistant of yours to be here this morning. Lindsey.”

That makes two of us.

“She doesn’t generally come in until nine.” And I wasn’t about to ask her to come in early for you.

“Wish I’d known that. I missed seeing her.”

Dan’s nod was automatic. Same as always when someone mentioned Lindsey’s value to his company. “She does contribute a lot.”

The man moved his hand to graze over his belt buckle. “That too.”

“Looks like we’re done here.” Coming around the table, Dan raised his right arm to circle his client’s shoulders then maneuvered both of them toward the conference room door.

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my website

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Curse of the Grammar Nerd ~ Leah St. James

The first thing I do on Sunday morning (after reading the Roses of Prose blog, of course!) is open the Sunday paper. I know, I know, I'm a dinosaur. But since I work for the organization in my "day job," and I answer calls from readers who are generally ticked off about one thing or another, it behooves me to arm myself with knowledge before heading to the office on Monday morning. (Although I read the eNewspaper on my phone, so maybe not such a dinosaur?) :-) 

I start with the "centerpiece" stories on the front page (A1), move to the publisher's feedback column on A2, then work my way back to the editorial and letters to the editor, and so on. This Sunday I made it all the way to A5 before I found my first uh-oh moment.

It was a headline about a third of the way down the page. I couldn't get to the story itself because I got stuck on the headline:  "Virginia is for felons? 1980's petty theft law lingers," by two reporters from the Associated Press.

Did you catch it, the misplaced apostrophe? At least I assumed it was misplaced, because here's what I learned about how apostrophe placement/usage affects the meaning:

1980's = something "belonging to" or attributed to the year 1980
So as I read it, it would mean the law was enacted in 1980.

1980s = the general time period between 1980 and 1989
So the law was enacted in the decade of the 1980s.

1980s' = Well now I'm just confused....

I know, most of you are probably shaking your heads thinking, WHO CARES, LEAH? It's the story that counts! You've probably already read the story while I'm stuck at the headline, trying to decide the exact meaning of the stupid apostrophe! I can't help it though. That's just how I'm wired. 

As a kid I excelled in English and grammar, scoring way at the top of the standardized tests. At my first job in the FBI, I was pulled from the typing pool to work on a team writing staff commendation letters because I scored high on my grammar placement test there. (My first professional writing job!)

But what was a blessing back then has turned into a curse in these days of lackadaisical spelling and grammar rules--because errors are everywhere. I see them in television commercials, in the little news tickers running at the bottom of news programs, in the closed captioning on television shows.... Trust me, there is an endless supply of grammar goofs in the world, and each one annoys the you-know-what out of me.

None of us like finding errors, especially copy editors, and we have an especially talented group. One young woman, close to my heart, has a sign on her desk that reads:  "I'm silently correcting your grammar." (I want one!)

So I chalked the error up to the fact that it's a wire story. Our editors are so busy proofing/editing the locally produced content, they might not be able to pay much attention to the wire stories. But I must say I felt vindicated when Googled it and found that other news outlets ran the same story but with the correct (in my opinion) headline!

(This is from the Boston Herald online.)

Now I'm trying to figure out how to respond to the critics who have probably already called our feedback line with comments like:  "You morons! There's no apostrophe in that headline!! This is why no one trusts the news anymore!!"

Finally, to put it out of my mind, I read the story (which is about how Virginia has a terrifying low dollar threshold for a theft to be classified as a felony rather than misdemeanor) and decided a misplaced apostrophe in a headline is probably pretty low on my worrisome threshold.

For fun, here are a few quotes about grammar. They made me smile. Maybe they'll give you a chuckle as well!
Sometimes with 'The New Yorker,' they have grammar rules that just don't feel right in my mouth.
Author David Sedaris
Anarchy is as detestable in grammar as it is in society."
Author Maurice Druron
"Texting has reduced the number of waste words, but it has also exposed a black hole of ignorance about traditional - what a cranky guy would call correct - grammar."  
Author Richard Corliss

Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. As much as she loves the use of proper grammar, she tries really, really hard to be respectful of others' need to flout the rules! Learn more at You'll also find her posting odds and ends about her life on her Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Turtle Release on St George Island by Barbara Edwards

I love being on St George Island. 

One of the best events is when the nature center at Gulf world releases turtles back into the water. This time we had 23 Kemp's Ridley sea turtles and one Loggerhead,

The cold stunned sea turtles have been rehabilitated since December 9.

The sea turtles were closely monitored until re-acclimated to appropriate water temperatures. 

When they began eating and diving normally they were cleared for release.

This year the event attracted crowds of people interested in the turtles.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

In Honor of Women

                         March is Women's History Month

Here is a link to an excellent website listing some great women. Pick a name and get to reading. The list is certainly not all inclusive but it's a start...

Below are a few suggestions to get you started.

Portrait of Nancy Astor, about 1926Nancy Astor, First Woman to get a seat in the British House of Commons.

Harriet Tubman
     Harriet Tubman, Led over 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railway

Hyperpyron of Alexios I KomnenosAnna Comnena (Komnene) Byzantine Princess and reputedly the first woman to write a book on history.

Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt Egyptian relief of Akhenaten and Nefertiti holding their daughters, 14th century BCE

Emma Goldman mug shot
Mug shot of Emma Goldman, anarchist, an ardent proponent of birth control and free speech, a feminist, a lecturer and a writer.

Oprah Winfrey, 2010First Black syndicated host of a talk show and first black woman billionaire.

In the center: Dowager Empress of China, Cixi. In front of her: Empress Xiao Ding Jing.
Empress Cixi (Tz'u-hsi) Contrary to tradition and policy, she took power as Empress in China

Sonia Sotomayor Attends Formal Investiture Ceremony At U.S. Supreme CourtSonia Sotomayor, first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.

Fascinating women - and there are so many more. Which historical woman is your inspiration or favorite?

REMullins author of vampire/romance novels

and coming soon: COLD HEARTED VAMPIRE

The Wild Rose Press

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

My African Safari by Alicia Dean

No, unfortunately, I did not actually GO on an African Safari. What I did was write a story in the setting of an African Safari. See, I was asked to be part of an anthology of short stories that were all set in Africa. They could be anywhere in Africa, any premise, suspense, paranormal, etc, as long as they were romance. (I just finished the story, which originally had a deadline of January 26 - and it only had to be 8,000 words. Fortunately for me, a few others were behind as well. Mine ended up being almost 14,000 words. I hope that won't be an issue.) 

Anyway, I considered and discarded a few plots, until I came up with the one I used. During my research, I discovered lots of interesting facts, but one of the MOST interesting was that, I would dearly LOVE to go on an African Safari. I know that's a no-brainer for most, but for me, that was never anything that appealed to me. It does now, although I'm sure I'll never go. I'm not really an 'animal' person, but seeing these beautiful creatures in such a gorgeous setting would be amazing! 

Have you ever been on a safari? Would you like to go?

Below is a glimpse into my short story. The snippet is unedited, so please overlook its poor quality. :) I worry a little, because my heroine is not a very nice person in the beginning. I hope readers will stick with me until she's redeemed. 

After dying for the third time, unloved and unlovable Autumn Baines is running out of chances to avoid purgatory. For her latest life, she’s sent to the Serengeti, where she’ll have to perform a selfless act and find someone to love her. She sees her chance with the arrival of widowed father Logan McBride and his teen daughter.

Faced with an opportunity to make a tremendous sacrifice, she’ll have to decide…can she forego her eternal happiness to give them theirs?

Excerpt: *Revised after Anni's tips, and a few things I noticed :)

Milo drove them to a watering hole where a small herd of zebras drank from the pool.
Jayden perked up visibly. “Oh wow.” Her voice was awe-struck. “They’re beautiful.”
Her earlier combative attitude had fled, and she was suddenly a child filled with wonder. Logan’s expression looked more relaxed. 
Autumn unexpectedly shared the girl’s sentiment. Her heart swelled, and adrenaline rushed through her blood.  They really were beautiful. And she was right here, in person, no more than ten feet away from the magnificent creatures. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a bad gig after all. After the group had looked to their fill, Autumn said, “Let’s see if we can find some lions.” She searched the surrounding area. Lions were easier to spot this time of year with the greenness of the foliage. During the dry season, they tended to blend in with the yellowish grass.
Jayden gasped out, “Look, Logan!”
Autumn followed her gaze. A giraffe had joined them, walking alongside the vehicle. Autumn’s pulse jumped with excitement. The animal was glorious…and close enough to touch.
Logan’s face lit up, but he was staring at his daughter more than the giraffe. “It’s amazing.”
“Yes.” Jayden’s voice was barely a whisper.
The giraffe ambled away, and Autumn took up the speech like she’d planned the giraffe’s visit. “Such a close look at wildlife is not as rare as you might think. One on of the tours, three leopards parked themselves on top of our land rover.”
“Oh my God, what did you do?” Sharee spoke up for the first time. Autumn was surprised she and Denise had even made it this morning. They’d hit the wine, hard before, during, and after dinner. They were most likely nursing monstrous hangovers.
“Uh, we waited patiently, and quietly, until they decided to go away. I’m not about to argue with a leopard.” Laughter rose, and Autumn grinned at her audience. She had no idea where that had come from. Even though it hadn’t actually happened, the memory of it was as real as if it had.
As did the group, Autumn became more enamored as the day progressed.
They saw hippos, who stuck their heads above the water, then slowly sank beneath the surface, as if bored by the human gawkers. A gorgeous cheetah crouched on a large rock, waiting for prey to wander by. They even spotted a lion, lazing among the tall green grass.

During it all, Logan watched Jayden with a mixture of sadness and love. Jayden alternated between exclamations of glee and sullen bouts of silence. What was the girl’s deal? Her dad had paid a fortune for the trip, and she was treating him like he’d killed Justin Bieber. The tension between the two was palpable. Their dynamic gave Autumn a genius idea. She could accomplish both tasks with these two. A lonely, single dad, a rift between him and his daughter. A perfect opportunity to win their affection. Logan had subtly flirted with her. She could turn up the charm, make him fall in love. The selfless act might be more difficult. But, if she could mend fences between them, that would count, wouldn’t it? It was certainly worth a try.