Friday, July 20, 2018

Ever have one of those mornings?

                    Stepping into the kitchen this morning, I'm shocked to see I forgot to set up the coffeepot last night. It's an integral part of my 'heading to bed' ritual. It goes hand-in-hand with brushing my teeth. I do it so all I have to do upon rising is push a button. 

Scratching the side of my left knee, I pick up the carafe and step/stumble over the dog as I turn to the sink. I swear he wasn't there a second ago. His normally limpid eyes are filled with reproach. In his mind, I should be feeding him the moment I get up. Having to fix the coffee is a change in routine that is messing with both of us.
I get the pot going and quickly feed the pets.

I scratch the back of my neck.

I decide there should be enough time to start a load of laundry before the pot finishes brewing. I stuff dirty clothes inside, turn the machine on, and add liquid detergent. 
I stand there, squinting down into the tub as it fills with soapy water. Was that something glinting among the clothes? It disappears as the machine begins to agitate. 
I dismiss it as a figment of an under-caffinated mind.

I scratch my hip as the phone rings.

"Hi," I answer. Politely, I might add.
"You haven't had your coffee," My mother says accusingly and then hangs up on me. It's amazing how she can tell, with only one word, if coffee has socialized me for the day or not.
  She refuses to talk to me before I have a caffeine hit. I love (sarcasm here) how she makes it sound like I'm some addict that can't function without a morning cup of joe. Until my eyes have been opened with a coffee bean and water stimulate, she claims, I'm unable to carry on a sensible conversation. She also won't ride in a car with me until I've got at least 2 cups of caffeine flowing through my veins.

I scratch my thigh.

After pouring a steaming cup, I doctor it with a drop of milk and head to the shower. Naked, I find several new, red patches of broken out and bumpy skin. You see, the little slice of Eden I live on is bountiful in poison ivy, shumac, and oak. I find six new six chigger bites in a place I'd rather they not be.
I scratch at them. I sneeze as Queen Anne's Lace is currently blooming and I'm allergic. 

 Once clean, I look in the mirror and try telling myself I look rather fetching painted pink with Calamine lotion. I compound this lie by adding I'm much more Pink Panther and less Pepto Bismal Monster.

 The lotion does not stop the itching.

The tone for the morning has been set. So much so that, later, when putting fresh sheets on the bed, I stub my baby toe on the leg of the bed frame. And it hurts. My luck it's broken. I can see the tissue swelling and know I'll be limping for a few days.
I believe I hear the distant echo of bed frame designers everywhere  laughing sadistically.

I'm scratching and sipping coffee as my morning ends with the outbreak of WWIII.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me explain that these canine and feline hostilities are rooted in the fact I live out in the boonies and bought a new car last March.
 Stay with me here. 
Who knew that somewhere, somehow, someone decided it would be a good idea to use a soy based coating on new engine wires.

That's right. Just like in the Princess Bride, a R.O.U.S. (rodent of unusual size) took it upon itself to have a wire snack. Its gnawing caused over three hundred dollars worth of damage.

 Everyone said I needed a cat. I don't do things halfway.
So, last week, I took in two kittens. 
Here is Kif, the dog, seeing Calico Andie for the first time. As the internet suggested, I let the dog and kittens get to know each other through closed doors. When the dog is inside, the kittens stay in the guest bathroom. They sniff at one another through the space at the bottom of the door.
  As you can see, one swipe of Kif's Gene Simmons-esque tongue could drown a tiny kitty.

I call this one, Marley because, I think, she looks like gray, marled wool. I find I have to repeat this a lot. I guess it was a bad name choice as, evidently, most think her name is a drug reference.
 It is not.

This morning, before I've ingested my normal pot or two of coffee, I discover the kittens have Houdini-it out of the bathroom. 
Canine and feline sleeping peacefully. 
So cute. So precious.
I start singing the Beatles, "All together now."
Either my singing or grabbing the camera wakes them up. And, all h...heck breaks loose. At first, Kif frantically wags his tail. He thinks it's playtime and he's been desperately wanting them to play with him.
However, the kittens snub him. Marley rather rudely puts her hind leg over her neck and starts grooming. I tell her that, at the very least, she could have turned her back before washing those bits and pieces.
 Kif's feelings are hurt. He responds by barking and attempts to jump up on the tea cart. 
Backs arching, the kittens hiss and spit with adorable ferocity.  Which, understandably, Kif doesn't take seriously. I didn't either until Andie makes this weird growling sound that causes the hair on the back of my neck to prickle. 
Andie and Marley reward them for picking them up out of canine reach by puncturing my skin with forty tiny but razor sharp claws.
 I yelp. This inspires Kif to repeatedly jump against my side. I'm almost knocked over by the ramming force of fifty, sturdy pounds. 

I'm done trying to referee. I'm tired of scratching.

  Poor Kif is put outside. I tell him that, when the kittens are old enough to look after themselves, they will take their turn at being banished outside for misbehaving.

 Right now, the kitties are too little to be outside where hawks, owls, and turkey vultures patrol the skies looking for tasty little morsels. Yet, Kif is a pampered pooch and it's too hot to leave him out during the heat of the day. It's not like he doesn't have shade trees, a pond, and a spring fed creek to keep him cool. No, he stubbornly stays on the deck. He stares longingly inside and, somehow, manages to make me worry he'll get heatstroke.

I scratch as I reconsider living in the country. 
I reconsider being a 'pet' person.
I think I need a more robust coffee bean.

Oh, and when transferring wet laundry to the dryer, I found my reading glasses. I guess they slipped off my nose when I was loading the washer earlier and that's what I'd seen glinting among the clothes.

 All this and I haven't even been up for three hours.

author of paranormal romance
Keep up with what I'm working on at


Separate title novella written for Kindle worlds.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Helping a Friend by Alicia Dean

I met a new writer friend a few months back through my first cousin once removed, Michael. (I used to think he was my second cousin, until a comment on a blog post set me straight. Do you know the difference? I have trouble remembering, but there IS a difference J) But I digress… This writer, Tina Fausett, is Michael’s neighbor, and he brought her to one of our Friday Martini Club  get-togethers. I liked her instantly! She’s personable and lovely, and has quite an interesting past. Coincidentally, she had just submitted to The Wild Rose Press, although another editor had her manuscript. I asked the editor if I could take over, and I did, but unfortunately, while her writing and her book are excellent, it wasn’t really a fit for TWRP. However, I encouraged her to self-publish. But, since the book left off on a cliff hanger, and since it was to be continued, and since it was very long (well over 100,000 words), I suggested she publish it in installments, making it clear that each one was ‘to be continued’ and setting a price of 99 cents for each appx 20,000 word installment, and releasing them 3 weeks apart.

She liked the idea, and we began working together. I am helping with edits, covers, uploading to Amazon and a little with marketing.

The first installment releases this Tuesday. It is not up for pre-order, but we plan to put the next installment up for pre-order with each release.

What do you think about an ongoing saga like this? I’ve been thinking for a long time that I would SP a soap-opera type continuing saga in this same manner, so this is good practice for me (if I ever get it written, after I write the two current projects that MUST get written soon!!). To me, as long as readers know it’s to be continued, they won’t feel cheated. Let’s hope I’m right! J

Tina is just now getting her Facebook page up and running. If you don’t mind, she’d love some likes:

Here is the cover and blurb:

A jealous, malevolent wife hooked on prescription drugs, a husband caught between reality and erotic fantasies, and an angel cast from heaven, are all bound together by their hatred for one woman whose spells and manifestations catch them in a downward spiral towards hell...Gina Faulkner, thought to be a voodoo queen, owner of Swamp Witch Pickles in New Orleans, is the center of it all.
Bane Colton, dangerous and cocky, sees Gina at the French Market and the game is on. He makes up his mind he's going to break the feisty redhead with the infamous kinky reputation, body and soul. And Gina's ready to be a player, until Bane’s estranged and demented wife, Beverly, wants him back.
Enter enigmatic Darsh, known to many as the Angel of Death, who’s watched over Gina since she was fifteen and has loved her almost as much as he’s hated her. Now they would come face to face. He could save her from certain peril, but could never save her from herself. Would she destroy them all? At the very least, a shift in the universe was coming.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

First Line Fun by Jannine Gallant

I know it's hot outside...all the more reason to think about snow! It's that time of year when the Roses plan their Christmas stories. We'll be posting them starting right after Thanksgiving weekend and wrapping up at Christmas, and we need your help. We have 13 first lines written anonymously by our authors, and we need to narrow the field to the most popular choices. Every story will begin with the same first line. If you could please leave a comment with your top two choices, you can help determine the fate of our stories this year!

Here they are in no particular order:

1.     “I can’t believe you did that.”

2.     The unexpected snowstorm changed everything.

3.     Oh no, not today.

4.     She peered through the snow-spattered windshield at the neon sign and hoped like hell there was room at the inn.

5.     I’ll take the shoes.

6.     She was skipping Christmas this year.

7.     How did that get in here?

8.     How could this day get any worse?

9.     She tugged the beard, horrified when the bright blue eyes watered and the cherry red lips yelped.

10.  “No presents this Christmas…”

11.  Playing Santa for one night would save her.

12.  Even Rudolph would have been grounded by the storm's intensity.

13.  And there it was--the perfect gift.

Thanks for helping us out!

If you're looking for a summer beach read that will give you chills, pick up a copy of LOST INNOCENCE at your local Barnes & Noble or download a copy at Amazon. Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Judging a Betsy Ashton

It is not true that readers don't judge a book by its cover. We do. Sometimes we buy a book because the cover is intriguing, exciting, mysterious. I have often bought a book because I liked the front cover and the back blurb. And as a writer, I know how hard it is to write the blurb to attract readers and not mislead them.

So, we are about to go to school on my psychological suspense novel, Eyes Without a Face.  I worked with a boutique publisher who has a cast of professionals on speed dial. I'm one of his editors, so I work with some of his authors to polish manuscripts.

I selected one of his cover designers to help give Eyes a spooky look and feel. We came up with this. I think we achieved spooky. The dark brown color wash added a hint of danger without being overt. We chose the hoodie because the killer often wears one when she kills. We went with yellow on brown in keeping with that color palette. So far, so good.

We needed a face in the hoodie. After adding a host of different images using PhotoShop, we came up with nothing that worked. Last summer, my DIL, who is a photographer, suggested we take a pic of her husband, black out the face, and drop in a set of creepy female eyes we'd found in open source photo galleries.

We thought we had a winner. The book came out to solid reviews. All but one. That one focused on the cover. The reader would have given me 5 stars had the cover been different. About the same time, I did a series of book signings and talks. I sent out 100 postcards with the eyes themselves on the front. Sales were good but not great.

Three events in a row taught me that the cover was wildly misleading. Not only did the cover not reinforce the salient fact that the main character, who is also the first person narrator, is a bloody female. Pun intended. She's a serial killer. She tells the story her way. She's unreliable. She lies. And the cover lies as well.

People asked what the book was about. I did a bit of research to see what readers thought. They gave me three different ideas about the connotation of the image.

OMG! No, the book is not about the Unabomber. No, the book is not about Jihadi John, the Brit who became the public executioner for ISIS. And no, the book is not about Trayvon Martin. I don't feel qualified to write about any of these three, particularly not Trayvon, whose tragic death touched me deeply.

Oh, what to do? Hire a different cover designer, of course. And, true to wanting a build up for the reveal, you'll have to wait until my next post. Yup, teaser that I am, you'll have to curb your inquiring mind for another few days. Giggle. I hope you like it.


Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max mystery series, Unintended Consequences, Uncharted Territory, and Unsafe Haven. She also wrote a dark psychological suspense novel, Eyes Without A Face, about a female serial killer, who unpacks her life and career in first person.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Amnesia and a New Release by Diane Burton

How did it get to be the 16th of July already? I thought I had days before my post was due. Must be a case of NewRelease Amnesia. I spent last week running from one blog to another promoting my newest book, NUMBERS NEVER LIE, a romantic suspense. The week before, I had to write all those blogs. So, July disappeared in a blink.

A topic lately here has been promotion--what works and what doesn't and how do we know? I like to blog. Short, focused posts with a purpose. I like telling people about my stories. I like finding the perfect (for the topic) excerpt. When I've read other blogs promoting a new book, I skim the excerpt because I've read it before. I try not to use only one excerpt. But, there are only so many excerpts you can add without giving away the book.

Does blogging help? I like to think so. But how can I tell? As an indie writer, I can see the results daily on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). How accurate are the numbers? Good question. I have to trust KDP to record them. I've checked a few time since last Monday (release day) and I'm pleased so far. If the comments on the blogs are any indication, the book should be flying off the virtual shelves. LOL People are being polite, kind even.

This weekend while I took a breather from the blog tour, I didn't look at my calendar. I knew I didn't have any posts scheduled for today. Wrong! So here I am late, with apologies. I must have been hit with amnesia.



A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that--an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?


“What do you mean no toilets?” Drew Campbell stopped on the dusty forest path, hooked his sunglasses on the placket of his golf shirt, and stared at his daughter.

“Dad-dy.” Ellen groaned. Was she only fourteen? She did exasperation better than his administrative assistant. “I told you we were camping.”
Not for a moment would Drew reveal that camping was not what he remembered her saying a week ago. She said she wanted him to come along on an outing with her little group of friends. He figured a hike, picnic lunch, and then home in time for supper.
After taking a call on his cell in the parking lot near the trailhead, he’d gotten his first surprise. That’s when he found out about the “no electronics rule.” No cell phones, no iPods. All were locked in the vehicles. Only the leader carried a cell phone, for emergencies only.
His second surprise came when he opened the hatch of the Navigator. Five backpacks. Five backpacks with bedrolls. He’d transported four girls. It didn’t take a law degree to figure out who the fifth backpack was for. He was in deep shit. But what could he say in front of Ellen and her friends?
“Of course, sweetie. I knew we were camping.” A lie to save face wasn’t wrong. Right?
“Yeah, sure, Dad.”
She didn’t believe him? What happened to the adulation that used to be in her eyes? The “Dad is perfect” look.
He tried again. “Camping, like KOA. You know, kiddo, shower buildings, restrooms, flush toilets. Right now, I’d settle for a port-a-potty.”
Ellen groaned again. “Da-ad.”
If he didn’t know better, he’d wonder if she had a stomach ache.
As he’d done several times in the past three hours, he took out his handkerchief, looked at it in disgust, and tried to find a clean spot. He wiped the sweat off his forehead. It was hot and sticky, more like August in Michigan than June. Drew intensely disliked sweating. Clean sweat—in a gym—was all right. Not this . . . dirt. More than sweaty, he hated being dirty.
Considering the rain in early spring, he was surprised at how dry the path was. And how much dust twenty feet could kick up on a forest path. That, however, was not his first concern. He needed a john. Bad.
“C’mon, Ellen. Isn’t there a restroom nearby?” he asked quietly. “Even an outhouse?”
“Dad, this is Prim.” Ellen had mastered the art of eye rolling. As he’d learned in the past few months, that innate skill emerged in girls during adolescence.
“Prim? What is that?” Drew gave her the self-mocking grin that always made her laugh. “A new all-girl rock group?
Ellen wasn’t smiling. She lowered her voice. “It means Primitive Camping. We go in the bushes.”
“What!” He looked around, realizing that the other girls were staring at him. He hadn’t meant to sound so loud.
“You are embarrassing me.” She stomped away, kicking up more dust. Before she got to her friends clustered nearby, she shot over her shoulder, “I wish you’d never come. I knew it was a dumb idea to ask you.”
“Hey, come back here, honey. I’m sure this is a little misunderstanding. C’mon, Ellen.” In the year since his wife died, he and Ellen had had a lot of misunderstandings.
“I think she’s mad at you.”
Drew turned toward the quiet voice behind him. There she was, leaning back against a tree, her knee bent and booted foot propped against the trunk. Maggie Sinclair, Director of Camp Hell. He knew Jack’s sister was an outdoor nut, but he didn’t think she was this bad. Pissing in the bushes, for God’s sake.
Maggie was a tall woman, only a few inches shorter than his own six feet. She had the tan of a person who spent time outdoors, not a sunbather, though, with laugh crinkles around her eyes. Still, the rough-neck tomboy he’d grown up with. Who else would want to spend a summer day backpacking on dusty trails through snagging underbrush instead of out on a perfectly manicured golf course where you only ventured into the rough to retrieve an errant ball?
Despite the heat and humidity, Maggie’s white T-shirt, with its pink ‘Race for the Cure’ logo, was still white and her jeans, though faded, remained clean. With her dark brown ponytail pulled through the back of a Detroit Tigers baseball cap, she looked as cool as when they started on this trek three hours ago. That almost irritated him more than her awareness of friction between him and his daughter.
“Ellen? Mad at me?” He affected mock surprise. “Your powers of observation are amazing. Are you ever wrong?”
She cupped her elbow in her hand and tapped a finger against her jaw. “Let me see now. I was wrong once—fourteen years ago. That’s when I married Roger Dodger.”
Roger Dodger. An appropriate name for the jerk. The guy got out of paying anything even though she'd supported him while putting him through his MBA, because of Maggie’s inept divorce lawyer. It still pissed him off that she hadn’t come to him. Never mind he specialized in criminal law. He would’ve made an exception for her.
“Let me think. Have I been wrong since?” She continued the damn tapping then snapped her fingers. “I’ve got it. I was wrong to let Ellen’s city-soft lawyer daddy help chaperone this trip.”
Drew gave her the smile that prosecutors knew better than to believe. “And here I thought it was because nobody else would.”

Available at Amazon  
Free with Kindle Unlimited

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She blogs here on the 16th and 30th of each month. She shares snippets from her stories every weekend on her blog

Sunday, July 15, 2018

New Life in Old Books? by Alison Henderson

I've just sent a request to the publisher of my first three books, requesting reversion of my rights. They're lovely people, and I'll always be grateful for the first magical contract that set me on the road to being a published author. I learned a great deal about writing and the publishing business, but it's time to say goodbye. It's probably costing the publisher more to keep theses titles on their records than they're making in profit.

The books are classic, old-school, historical Americana romances--a sub-genre I no longer write--and haven't sold many copies in the last few years. The publisher never did any real promotion or marketing, and I haven't paid any attention to them since I switched writing gears. I've focused my efforts on my humorous romantic suspense novels instead.

However, I think there may be life left in these earlier titles. I've recently finished editing and formatting the first book, Harvest of Dreams, and was thrilled to discover it was in pretty good shape. Better yet, I loved it! The only real editing I did was to tone down the love scenes a a bit. They're still much spicier than what I write now, but they fit the characters and story, so they're staying. I hope to find the second book, A Man Like That, in similar condition. The third book is a cute, short novella that should require very little work.

The main upside to owning the rights, besides retaining the lion's share of the royalties, is the ability to advertise with AMS, offer occasional free promotions, etc. I believe there is still an audience for Western historical romance, albeit a smaller one than for other sub-genres. All I have to do is figure out which authors are popular and target my ads to their readers. With luck, I'll sell a few copies from time to time.

After finishing the formatting, I took a little time to design new covers. I wanted them to be eye-catching but resemble the original covers closely enough not to confuse readers into thinking they're new releases. (I'll also make it clear they're re-releases on the copyright page and in the book description.) Since the sub-genre was never particularly clear, I decided to add the text "Historical Romance from the Heartland" to the covers. It will also appear on the Amazon page as the series title.

What do you think?

Look for them sometime later this summer!


Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Garden by Christine DePetrillo

Nothing pleases me more than playing in the dirt on a summer's day. My backyard is a NWF-Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat. I have plants that attract butterflies, dragonflies, and birds of all kinds. The Northern Flicker woodpecker is among my favorites.

In the garden I have the following edibles:

  • tomatoes
  • green peppers
  • basil
  • mint
  • parsley
  • lemon thyme
  • oregano
  • lavender
  • strawberries
  • peaches
  • blueberries

We also have:
  • catmint
  • roses
  • impatiens
  • grapevines (the grapes are never edible)
  • azaleas
  • rhododenrons
  • weigela
  • lilacs
  • spirea

  • butterfly bush
  • barberry
  • coltsfoot
  • dogwood
  • arborvitae
  • fern
  • hosta
Now I'd love to have a ton more stuff growing (especially stuff I can eat), but my yard is pretty small and we've made the best use of the space we have. The Werewolf also runs and accidentally ruins things sometimes so I have to be careful where I put stuff. 

I love tending to all these plants during the summer months. Love to drink in their beauty, smell their fragrances, and taste their deliciousness. Coexisting with them when they are so green and alive invigorates me like nothing else can. 

That's why I love being in The Outdoor Writing Office. I can't help but be inspired to write when surrounded by nature. 

Everything is better outside. It just is. 

Do you garden? If so, what are you growing? 


Friday, July 13, 2018

Mid-point in #amwriting

When last I posted, I was starting on an idea for my next manuscript. Well, I'm 10 chapters done and figure I'm halfway there.

I really want to wrap this up by mid-August if I can. Why? Because I work better with a deadline. At this rate, I think I can do it. This is one of those books that is sort of writing itself. I did some research and fleshing out ahead of time, but mostly I'm making it up as I go along. I've had several of those "wow" moments as I write, where the character does or says something and suddenly the plot takes a twist -- I love when that happens.

I'll be taking a break next week to go to the RWA national conference. I haven't been to an RWA con in about 10 years (has it really been that long?) This should be fun; it's in Denver, one of my favorite cities, easy to get to (one plane hop away), and I'll see a bunch of friends I haven't seen in awhile. Those 4 or 5 days away from writing will, I hope, energize me so I can finish up before my self-imposed deadline.

I'll report back in on the conference when I get back -- I wonder how much it's changed since the last time I was there....?


Thursday, July 12, 2018

At the Lake With Two MIT Dudes by Vonnie Davis #vacation #inovermyhead #greattimes

I'm back home from a week at Lake Marion in Santee, SC. As I mentioned in my last post, Mike, my baby boy (tongue in cheek here), and his wife Tina decided Kelly, his wife Katrin, and I should travel with them for some relaxation after the Celebration of Life for Calvin.

They rented a large SUV that hauled seven--Mike, Tina, Kelly, Katrin, Ryan, me, and Ryan's five-foot telescope to set up on Ron and Debbie's dock.

Ryan positioning his telescope for best night-time viewing.

Oh, and let's not forget packing in everyone's luggage plus Ryan's three laptops, guitar, trumpet, and Kelly's two laptops. The ride down was like MIT on wheels. Kelly did his undergrad degree there. and Ryan is halfway to his undergrad degree in Computer Engineering with a minor in Music technology. As the ride progressed my mind swirled with conversations about bitcoins, string theory, writing computer code, and Kelly's expertise at Mozilla--artificial intelligence. In rapid-fire communication, the two moved onto deep-brain thinking. What the heck is that and where do I learn how to do it?

Calvin would have been right at home. Me? I was in over my head and I'd yet to reach the lake. When I did, some adult beverages would most definitely be in order to clear my mind.

At a local Mexican restaurant--Tina's Dad, Ron, Mike (aka Baby Boy), and Margarita Momma
(note dazed and confused look from ride to Lake Marion). 

The days were filled with zipping up and down three lakes connected by channels in Ron's new boat or walking through historic Charleston just an hour away. Nights brought star and planet gazing. I saw Venus and Mercury. Ryan would play on the trumpet as we sat on the dock. Neighbors in this gated community would cheer and applaud. 

AND I woke up  one morning with a series idea! One that involved a book I've slowly been working on. Getting away and seeing new things really does help the creative bent of the mind. Mine had been in a tight knot of grief. Evidently it's starting to loosen.

I'm hoping my next trip will waken the Muse. Two weeks from now I'll be in Paris. Calvin had told me several times before he got so sick that he wanted some of his ashes sprinkled in a green space in front of 21 rue Galande. He'd lived there for almost a year while on sabbatical in a fourth floor apartment. Kelly thought it was a perfect idea. He's flying in from Berlin so we can do it together. Here's a picture of Calvin in front of the building, reminiscing.

I'm staying in Paris for a week. Since this will probably be my last trip there, I have a few art galleries I want to meander through.  Once I leave there, I'm flying to  Edinburgh, Scotland. After writing six books set there, I figure it's about time I got a look at the country. All my research has been done online or in travel books. Finally, I'll get to see the real thing. I've got day trips booked for the Highlands, a whisky distillery with a wee bit o' tastin', and Loch Ness. If my energy holds up, I want to take a train ride to Glasgow and check it out. Aaaaad a day at the Highland Games where guys in kilts do "manly stuff." Mainly because a woman would have more sense.

Since Edinburgh is home of the deep-fried Mars Bars, I'll be forced--forced, mind you--to eat a couple. All the while, I'll be soaking up sights, customs, and local color for future bear shifter books. Och, aye.

To read more about my writing, go to or follow me on Facebook. Vonnie Davis is the name...writing is my game.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When It Comes to #Research, #KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid by Margo Hoornstra

We’ve all done it. (In other words, please tell me I’m not alone.) Research. We have a topic to explore, and think we’re going in the right direction then


off we go in another.

This happened to me last week as I plotted out the suspense conflict (read good versus evil) of my latest work in progress – Book 3 in the Brothers In Blue series – On The Make.

She no longer believes in heroes or happily ever after. He’s determined to prove her wrong.


(Sorry. Just had to throw that in there.)

Anyway, the suspense conflict revolves around the heroine’s evil ex brother in law and the contested inheritance of a piece of valuable real estate. So off I went on a relatively uncomplicated research journey. Right?

Well, actually...


Rights to survivor in real estate. Titles. Deeds. Joint tenancy. Joint tenants with right of survivorship JTWROS. Sole ownership. Joint ownership. Title by contract. Per Capita – by head count. Per Stirpes – by roots. Did I mention my heroine is an attorney who specializes in real estate? A professional in her own right.


I need, rather she needs to know these things. Right?
Then there’s the Board of Directors she has to deal with. Right? Did I mention her husband was a real estate magnate? Oh, and that he’s recently deceased? Oh, and that, unbeknownst to her, she was more a trophy wife to him than anything else. (Maybe she needs a revenge motive.)


Oh, and that she’s been left with two adolescent boys to raise. Not the real estate baron’s progeny BTW. So how about she hangs on to the deed evil brother in law wants to get his hands on until she gets all her late husband's affairs in order. Or she knows what her husband WANTED to do with the property and sets out to complete his legacy. Or, how about she has no clue about any of it?

Needless to say, I bounced these ideas – volleyed is more like it – off CP extraordinaire Jannine. Which resulted in a return email that began – “I hate to toss cold water on your motive…BUT, none of it makes much sense.”

Oh, dear, that’s not what I wanted to hear. But, after more back and forth, here’s the final plot point result.

Passed through generations, the eldest child inherits the property. OR, upon the eldest child's death, a younger sibling, BARRING a direct decedent of said eldest child. So...if my heroine got pregnant before her husband died...


Oh, but the hero needs to be involved. (Almost forgot about him.) He’s a cop moonlighting as a super hero in a movie being filmed on location at the property in question – rather contention. She meets him through one of her boys. But, now there needs to be a secret baby/accidental pregnancy tossed into the mix. Of course with said hero involved or where's the 'romance that can never be?' Oh, no, that calls for a one-night stand. And, danger, don’t forget the danger.


She discovers she’s pregnant. He, happily, believes the baby is his. It’s not, but she needs to foster that belief or suffer dire consequences at the hands of evil ex-brother in law. Who has also discovered she is pregnant. However, she’s come to love the hero. Her boys have too. He says he loves her back.

She has to deceive him. Right?

What will happen when he discovers the truth?

That was what I planned to write about for today. But…


Then this arrived in my e-mail box.

The cover for Book 2 in the Brothers In Blue series On The Force.

And, of course, I couldn't help but share.

What do you think? Beautiful, huh? I agree. Goes nicely, I believe,  with Book 1 in the series, On The Surface.

With due credit to TWRP Cover Artist Diana Carlile.

Can't wait to see what she does with the cover for On The Make.

Which I need to get back to. And, now that we've come full guessed it...


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

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Samaritans Good to #Suspense #Mystery Authors: Patron Strangers

I am heartened by the support I get as a writer. My friends and family are my cheerleaders. They know me and understand how important writing is to me, so their encouragement makes sense.

But what about the strangers who step in to do some heavy lifting for me, often providing more time, effort and input than anyone who knows me?  I call them Author Samaritans, without whom my books would suffer from subjectivity, authenticity, and flat out fakery.  Mistakes. Illogical plot. Superficial characters.  Samaritans save me from laughing-stock-status with every page.

And some of these Samaritans request to remain anonymous.  All that hard work and valuable input, never acknowledged.  Amazing!

One such expert was an FBI agent who clarified chain-of-command issues for me. A loop writer heard my plea and offered up her FBI husband to give me advice.  He did, then backed away behind a curtain of anonymity.

For my new book, FIRE IS NICE, one of my golf friends heard me talking about its Sequoia setting and my need to consult with rangers. She connected me up with a golfing friend who was a high level Fish and Game Warden. I gave him my manuscript without having the chance to meet him. To this day, I haven’t met the guy, even if I’ve e-mail chatted with him many times.  The feedback he gave me was detailed and nuanced, complete with pages of information (some redacted) from primary sources. From all he said, he enjoyed the chance to help refine my story.

Gems.  Treasures.  Grist for this author.  Expertise I couldn't possibly glean from Google.

So let's celebrate our heroes.  Who was your most recent Author Samaritan?

Note: Relatives and friends can offer extraordinary expertise, as well.  My geologist brother’s knowledge brings rock solid detail in BAD LIES Take a look!

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