Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Very Special Muse Is Gone

 by Glenys O'Connell

We've been talking a lot about the women who've inspired us, motivated us, given us an example to follow or stood up for our rights to fulfill our dreams.
This might sound a bit hokey but I believe that sometimes we can draw our greatest strengths and inspirations from sources that aren't, shall we say, human. I know many people who quietly proclaim that their pet – whether that creature is a dog, a duck, a pot-bellied pig, a horse, goat or cat (I've heard them all) - have brought comfort, friendship, and motivation at times when loneliness, grief, health problems or some other bump in life's road has brought them to the point of giving up their hopes and dreams.
One such was my very special Muse, Miss Martha the Cat. You can see from her pic that she's special – one look in those deep eyes when I saw her Ontario Humane Society Shelter photograph had me hooked. A visit to the shelter in Kingston and I knew that Martha and I were meant to be together. We were soul mates.
When I first met Miss Martha (her Shelter name was Skittles – nowhere near dignified enough!) I was grieving deeply at the loss of my beloved LucyFur, a cat I’d adopted while in Ireland and brought back with me when I returned to Canada. I thought my heart would never recover from his loss, but Miss Martha seemed to sense the way I felt – she would curl up on my lap, purring loudly, and look into my eyes as if to say" "It will be all right – you'll see!"
It was a look I was to see many times from her in the five years or so I was privileged to know her. As every writer – indeed, every living human being – knows, life can deal some awful curve balls. Contracts you are sure of suddenly fail to materialize; jobs you'd set your heart on don't come; people let you down. But Miss Martha knew that there is one truth in life – you lie in a sunbeam for a while thinking, then you pick yourself up, dust yourself down and go on.
An independent minded lady, Miss Martha seemed able to look into your very soul. She'd known some hardship in her day. Her first owner had obviously loved her, despite having her declawed. But one day she had packed up her possessions in boxes and moved away, leaving Miss. Martha with a friend. Poor Martha had eventually settled in and, five years later, her new owner pulled out boxes and began packing. Martha found herself in a cage at the Humane Society. In her feline mind, two humans had betrayed her trust, and when we adopted her at the age of ten, she seemed to hold herself back as if afraid to trust us totally.
Then disaster happened.
Off wandering her domain, Miss Martha got lost. Maybe she was chasing a butterfly, maybe hiding from that nasty old tom cat who lived three houses away, I don’t know. But Miss Martha got lost. But we advertised, drove many, many miles to areas where people phoned to say they thought she'd been sighted, and shed many tears at each disappointment.
Then a notice appeared in our village post office: Male Cat Found. Grey & White. Desperate, I took a chance and called the number. The teen who answered said the cat was a neutered male (Oh, how Miss Martha would have railed at that indignity!) but when I asked if she was wearing a neon pink collar, it became obvious this lady was no tom cat! We drove over to the next township to claim her, paid a humingous vet's bill, and brought her home.
She was found five weeks after disappearing by some kind souls spending a summer weekend at a cottage on a nearby lake. She was in awful shape – skin and bones, her paw caught in her collar and her neck and shoulder seriously cut and painfully infected. We'll never know what she lived on in those weeks.
And from the moment she came home, Miss Martha found her trust again. She loved us – after all, hadn't we come and found her when she was lost? She would sit on my desk watching as I wrote, adding her own comments by walking across the keyboard, and she'd sense when the story wasn't going well and come and sit on my lap to make sure I didn't give up and walk away. Or she'd curl up on my office chair with her friend, O.J. (Orange Juice)- see below.. Her presence was an inspiration.
Sadly, when Miss Martha was almost 16 years old, she developed problems with her innards. Discreetly, she was seriously constipated. She lost weight, although she still caught mice which she presented on the door step as if a gift. But the day came we knew she had to go to the vet.
That's when we learned about Feline Megacolon. Apparently cats – usually older ones but not necessarily so – can suffer from a weakening of the bowel muscles. That's why it's important to ensure they get a diet that has some fibre, although not too much as that can actually cause constipation.
Miss Martha was kept at the vet's overnight for an enema. For some reason, and we still don’t know exactly why, the procedure led to her bowel being perforated.
Miss Martha died in my arms, peacefully, in the small hours of the next morning.
We buried her by the cedar tree close to her favorite napping spot in the long grass.. She left behind a family who still grieve, and a writer who wonders if she'll ever find a Muse like Miss Martha.
If you have a cat, do look out for bowel problems. There's lots of info on the Internet, but I also found a group of terrific people online who share information and support about Feline Megacolon – you'll find them here:  I found them too late for Miss Martha, but I'm writing this in hopes of helping someone else with a furfriend in need of help.

Cat lover Glenys O'Connell writes romantic suspense and cosy mysteries, and her work can be viewed on She also writes non-fiction books such as Depression: The Essential Guide and PTSD: The Essential Guide, and when not writing enjoys poking about in other people's minds as a counselor.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Romance Author Marilyn Yarbrough

Welcome to Roses of Prose, Marilyn. You mentioned thisis your first blog interview, so I’ll be gentle. Please tell us about yourself.
I’ve always had these scenes,fantasies, I guess, pop into my head. I used to think there was something wrong with me until I realized other people have little movies going on inside their head also. My ah moment came when I wrote one of my little scenes down on paper.That’s when I decided to become a writer. These crazy fantasies of mine have turned into several novels. Two of them have been published by The Wild Rose Press. Payton’s Woman was released in April of this year, and Once Upon a Love was just released in August. They are both Historical Romance. I’m really thrilled about the review Payton’s Woman received from the Black Raven’s Review. They gave me 5 Black Ravens and a Recommended Read. My editor Allison Byers of The Wild Rose Press deserves credit for helping me whip my novel into such excellent shape. I also wrote Shadow Keeper, a paranormal, upper young adult, which I published under the name of M. K. Yarbrough.

I understand you write spicy romance.

What do you find the most difficult about being a writer of racy, hot romance?

Writing dialog for the love scenes is definitely the hardest part for me. What do people say when they’re hot in the throes of passion? I guess I’ve been married too long, because the only things I ever scream out are: “My hair! You’re on my hair.” Or,“Cramp! I’ve got a cramp in my leg.”

What prompted you to write Payton’s Woman?
A fantasy, of course—or was it a dream? It was a little thirty-second scene that popped into my head, probably while I was waiting for a traffic light. I put it down on paper when I got home so I wouldn’t forget it and started building from there. The little scene is in the first chapter of Payton’s Woman. Julia meets a man who resembles a fearsome pirate. Payton lusts for her, and she’s terrified of him. He’s big and strong (and sexy). She’s no match for him physically, but she’s not about to surrender without a fight. She uses her brains and wits to get out of this predicament. And 85,000 words later, they live happily ever after.

Do you have a favorite theme? Eg: love conquers all; good vs evil; How do you
use it?

I am woman! The underlying theme in my novels is that women are strong (emotionally). And they are survivors. My heroines aren’t damsels in distress, although they do get themselves into trouble and sometimes need a man’s help. But they don’t let the men fight their battles for them, and they kill their own spiders. In Payton’s Woman, Julia is searching for the man who murdered her brother. When she finally comes face-to-face with him, she doesn’t have the physical strength or a weapon to fight him, but she does have intelligence, nerve, and the shrewdness to overpower him, plus save the man she loves. To me, it would be a copout if, after chasing down the killer, she backed off and allowed a man to capture him. Oops—maybe I should’ve announced a spoiler alert.

What stereotype would your friends label you as?
I don’t know that I have a stereotype. You’d probably do better asking my friends. Now, if you ask my brother, he might tell you I’ve got sibling rivalry issues, or something like that, because in my novels, I’m either killing off the heroine’s brother or making him the bad guy. If there’s anything that shows up consistently in my novels, it’s family. My main characters either have strong family values, or strive to attain them in their relationships.

What’s your next goal?
I’m writing in a totally different genre. We moved to another state a few years ago. After a while, I joined a writers’ group, only to discover they all write young adult. And they weren’t too keen on critiquing spicy romance. I got an idea for a paranormal, upper young adult and named it Shadow Keeper,which just came out in paperback in June. I wrote this under the name of M. K.Yarbrough so there would be a distinction between the genres and also the lower heat level. But my critique group noted there’s an undercurrent of smoldering sexuality seeping between the lines even though there’s no sex, and the main characters only kiss. I’m working on the sequel to my Shadow series called Shadow Curse. This book has more sexuality oozing out. Guess I just can’t turn the spice down no matter how hardI try.

What’s your book about?
Blurb for Payton’s Woman: Julia Anderson is on a perilous quest to find the man who murdered her brother. Hot on the killer's trail, she stumbles into the arms of a man who resembles a fearsome pirate from her childhood nightmares. But when this dark haired,blue-eyed pirate kisses her, the only thing he steals is her heart.

Captain Payton Tyler is on a quest of his own. He's distracted from his goal when an innocent, blond-haired beauty materializes out of the misty fog. When she disappears just as suddenly, he follows after her.

From the hellhole of the Barbary Coast to the refined society of old Sacramento,danger and intrigue thrust Julia and Payton together--and into each other's arms. As their desire for each other grows, so does Julia's suspicion. She fears the man who holds her in his arms, the man who holds her heart, may also be the man who killed her brother.

Short Excerpt:
He urned to Julia. "It looks like I'm your man."
A cold,hard glare of anger lingered on his face. She sucked in her breath at the chilling sight. She didn't doubt he could protect her from the other men, but who would protect her from him?

Quickly,she gathered her wits. A man's ego could be a powerful thing. She'd boost it up so if he felt tempted to fall short of her expectation of him, he'd be in fear of crushing his own ego.

"I can see that you're a man of courage and honor. And decency," she added to boost her own courage. "I know I can depend upon you to see me safely away from here."

The coldness vanished from his face. "Courage, yes," he said as a warmth gathered in his eyes, "but if you want a man with honor and decency, the Devil's Lair is the wrong place to look."

Her forehead crinkled with worry. "I was relying on you to help me."

"That I shall do," he swore, "just as soon as we agree upon a price. And I don't want your money."

As the leering crowd snickered, her anxiety grew. "What do you want as payment?" she asked, although fairly certain what it would be.

The captain touched her hair. Slowly, he pulled a handful of the long, blonde strands over her shoulder. His fingers slid the length of it until the back of his knuckles touched the swell of her bare breast.

A queasy feeling gripped her insides. Her heart beat so rapidly she thought it would burst from her chest. She shifted her gaze from his face and focused on a neutral object on the far side of the room in an effort to keep her body from trembling violently.

Any hope of getting away from here unscathed rapidly dissolved. She knew what price this pagan, savage pirate would demand of her.

Contact info: Please check your links.

Author Web site: Historical Romance and Paranormal, Upper Young Adult.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I’m taking a different approach with this blog. We’ve had some delightful ones on woman of strength. I’ve learned a lot and I thank each of you for your research. When the idea hit me to blog about my granddaughter, I feared it would be too boring. You know, another grandma on a bragging tirade. I’d chosen, instead, Pearl S. Buck as my topic. Then my granddaughter got hurt over the weekend and suddenly Pearl S. Buck was the farthest person from my mind. So here we are, talking about my sugar pie.

My Lauren Elizabeth was born with her right arm ending about an inch below her elbow. Uterine bands had grown blocking off half of my daughter-in-law’s uterus. One of the bands grew around Lauren’s arm and slowly amputated it as she moved around. The sonogram at 16 weeks showed two hands, so the event happened sometime afterwards. Because of her lack of space as she developed and grew, her face was pushed in and her right foot pressed flush to her shin bone. We didn’t know if she would ever walk normally.

My son and daughter-in-law handled their daughter’s issues differently at first. Steve, a middle school teacher, wanted to protect Lauren, to shelter her. Angie, an executive at a large bank, adopted an “in your face” approach. “Let everyone get a good look and then get over it,” she’d say. Slowly Steve saw the wisdom in Angie’s accept-Lauren-as-she-is attitude. Angie also worked with Lauren’s foot, massaging it every day and slowly stretching the leg. Normal movement eventually occurred.

When she was a few months old, we began kissing Lauren’s hand and then also kissing the end of her shorter arm to show her both were equally beautiful. We also encouraged her to engage in whatever activity sparked an interest: gymnastics, swimming, singing, horseback riding and dancing. Believe me, when my granddaughter is dancing onstage with other ballerinas, there’s not a dry eye in the house. Many know how hard she’s worked to get where she’s at.

When Lauren was in the first grade, she told Steve and Angie she wanted two hands like other girls. They looked online and found a hospital in Houston that was doing marvelous work with prosthesis for children operated by a computer chip embedded under the skin. They flew to Houston for two weeks so Lauren could be fitted and then go through physical therapy to learn how to use this new forearm and hand.

Her first day back to school, she was understandably proud of her new arm. As she was showing it off to the other children, one boy—Justin—told her it wasn’t as good as a real arm. He began teasing her about her “worthless, fake arm” and claimed she couldn’t do anything with it. His taunting continued. When Lauren saw he wasn’t going to leave her alone, she took off her prosthesis and chased him around the room with it, bopping him over the head.

When Steve, who was by this time an assistant principal, got the call that his first-grade daughter was in the office of her school, he said he wanted to bang his forehead against the desk. He went to her school and got permission to take her outside for a walk. He told her that removing her prosthesis and using it as a weapon was unacceptable.

“But, Daddy, Justin got on my last nerve telling me I couldn’t do anything with my new arm, so I just showed him what I could do with it.”

Steve bit the inside of his cheek and looked the other way. After their private chat, he escorted her back inside and proceeded to ask Lauren’s teacher some hard questions. Like how had the boy’s teasing escalated to the point Lauren retaliated? She had no answers. When Steve also asked what punishment the boy received, the teacher claimed Lauren had traumatized the boy and therefore he wasn’t being punished.

“Traumatized boy” continued to harass Lauren about her “fake” arm. One day, while he was in the restroom, my granddaughter—the angel—glued his box of crayons to the bottom of his desk.

Last January, she had her first epileptic seizure. They typically last for about an hour and her lips turn black. She can’t talk for a couple hours after the seizure ends. Thank goodness a specialist in child epilepsy at Children’s Hospital in DC found a medicine that keeps the seizures at bay.

As a fifth grade student, Lauren reads on the tenth grade level and she’s learning to play the French horn. More importantly she’s our teacher. She’s taught us the power of determination, the depth of the human spirit and the sweetness of success, no matter how small.

Sunday, while roller-skating at a friend’s birthday party, Lauren fell and broke her wrist. Since her only hand is in a cast, going to the bathroom, eating, dressing and writing are next to impossible. I can hardly wait to see what she teaches us about this. For, without a doubt, Lauren Elizabeth is a strong woman of the future. She will not be defeated.

Monday, September 26, 2011

She terrified me, I admit it

In 1971, I was bit ... rootless, I guess you could say. I was in college, but I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I had a miserable fall semester, then I decided to drop out. I returned home to my parents house for three agonizing months, then I got a job for the summer at a remote resort in northern Minnesota. I was hired to start work before 'the season', so I got there in early April and it was expected I would stay through summer, leaving on Labor Day.

Let me hasten to say: I had worked at resorts before, every summer, so I had a sense of what to expect. However, a resort in Northern Minnesota is not like a resort in Michigan or Wisconsin, which cater to Chicago city folks. The Gunflint Lodge was far more rustic, far more remote, and far more ... fish-oriented than I was accustomed to. I had no idea what I was getting in for.

It was a long trek to get there: a bus to the Twin Cities, then another bus to Grand Marais, then I met a taciturn and grizzled lodge employee who drove me (and supplies) over the rutted 50 miles of road. Keep in mind: this was 40 years ago -- the lodge, the road, the entire area was not as civilized as it is today. Most resort-goers came in by plane, landing on the lake. And most resort-goers were fishermen, who came in for a week, went out with a guide, and came back to the lodge the night before they returned to 'civilization.'

There was a misunderstanding (maybe) about my job duties. I thought I'd been hired to work the front desk (a job I had done in other resorts). Instead I found out I was hired to be a maid, cook's helper, and all-around gopher. I did not pack clothes for such an adventure, so the one pair of jeans I brought (stylish jeans, I might add), quickly got 'broken in'. I was housed in a barracks (where other summer workers would stay, once they arrived) and I was told to be wary of bears if I went to the outhouse in the middle of the night.

I could roll with those punches. I could handle dark woods, no television, no radio. I even learned to gut a fish. I waited tables, slung supplies, learned to pack a knapsack, and cleaned cabins. But the owner of the resort, Justine Kerfoot, was someone who totally confused me. Why would someone spend their entire life in the wilderness? She was brusque, and curt, and rough. She was also absolute master of the lodge and her word was law. I didn't like her. I saw her hard-fisted ways as being dictatorial. She seemed to intimidate every woman there (all 5 of us) and most of the men.

I lasted 2 months then I quit, hitchhiking home after the ice went out on the lake in late May. I stayed until a regular crew came in to handle the summer crowd, and I split. It wasn't until years and years later that I realized why she bothered me so much. I had never been in a situation where one's life depends on quick thinking and hard choices. Justine had grown up with that -- life in the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) was a matter of survival in the decades prior to the 1980s. They frequently were snowed in for months at a time, they had to rely on themselves for survival, and life was hard.

Now I go North every year for a vacation, not to Gunflint (that place does not hold fond memories for me), but to a spot nearby. In fact, as you read this, we are traveling to the resort for our annual getaway (so apologies if I don't reply to comments: there's spotty Internet access for me for the next few days).

I appreciate the solitude in the comfort of a nice cabin, provided for me by lodge owners (Ludlow's Resort). I appreciate the solitude and the wilderness and the work that goes into maintaining such a pristine environment. I didn't appreciate Justine then, but I think I do appreciate her now. She was a tough lady in a tough land during a tough time.

More power to her...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Am I a Woman of Achievment?

Please welcome out guest.

My name is Ruth Cardello and I am an Indie romance author. I write about sexy, alpha billionaires and the strong women who tame them. Book 1: Maid for the Billionaire is FREE on Amazon.

Book 2: For Love or Legacy is now available.

I am a wife, a mother of three (the youngest just 17 months), and a teacher. I live a modest life on a small farm in Rhode Island chasing children, horses, chickens and my husband not nearly as often as he’d like. It’s a busy life, but a happy one.

So where does the dream of writing fit in? How do I promote my latest books when the baby finally falls asleep and all I really want to do is kick back and close my eyes? How do I make sure that everyone gets what they need – even me?

Schedules and compromise.
It’s easier for my family to value my writing time now that it is bringing in money, but to make that happen I had to learn to live in the moment. I stay an extra hour at work so I can leave unencumbered. I’m Mom until about 8:30 every night. Parks. Walks. Pony rides. Shared barn chores. If I’m lucky my husband makes dinner or gives baths so I can. It’s bed-time stories, prayers, and snuggle time with my husband then time to promote via social media. Morning starts two hours before the house wakes up so I can catch up on mail and plot my next book. Weekends are a blend of family and writing. Some weekends are all about hiding in the mornings and writing while my husband takes the kids. Other weekends are purely familyand I put the book out of my head.


Is it worth it? Heck yes! My latest book is in the top 200 on Amazon and making enough money that I’m hoping to eventually be able to write during the day instead of teach. That would make everything else so much easier.

I couldn’t do it without a supportive husband. I’m boycotting all but essential housework until I am able to leave my day job. Laundry? My daughter. Vacuuming and dishes? My husband. No, my house isn’t immaculate anymore, but I’m not superwoman.

What I am is one very busy woman who was blessed with a fantastic family and recently was given a real shot at making it as an author. Who could ask for more than that?

A friend of mine gave me a bracelet that says, “Dreams become reality one choice at a time.” Are you dreaming of becoming awriter? Are you wishing you had more books out there? What are you waiting for? Today is the best day to chase that dream. Now stop reading this blog and get to work.

You can contact me at: or

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Brenda Whiteside: Take Me Out to the Movies

Next to reading, I love watching movies. Movies are the ultimate escape – for an hour or so anyway. When I was considering what amazing woman of achievement to blog about today, I thought of a movie I’d watched for the second time based on a true life story. And then I thought about a couple of other movies about women who had made an impact. So below are four of my favorite movies about real life ladies I came to admire, thanks to Hollywood. I recommend these movies, not only for the story they tell, but for the pure entertainment of watching some fine acting.

Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy
In 2004, wealthy Leigh Anne Tuohy opened her home and her heart to Michael Oher, a disadvantaged black youth. She had a daughter and a son of her own, but Michael was offered every advantage on an equal footing. They adopted him, and he went on to become a professional football player.

Movie quote: (Leigh Anne warning off gang members from Michael) “If you so much as set foot downtown, you will be sorry. I'm in a prayer group with the D.A., I'm a member of the NRA and I'm always packing.”

Norma Rae starring Sally Field, based on the life of Crystal Lee Sutton
In 1974, a woman stands up for the rights of herself and fellow workers in a textile mill. The real Norma Rae (Crystal Lee Sutton) was fired from her job in Roanoke, NC but went on to work as an organizer for the textile union.

Movie quote: (Norma Rae standing her ground) “Forget it! I’m stayin’ right where I am. It’s gonna take you and the police department and the fire department and the National Guard to get me outta here!”

Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich
An unemployed single mom of three finagles a job as a legal assistant in 1993. She happens onto some information and goes on to secure a settlement of $333,000,000 for 648 plaintiffs in a town sick and dying from contaminated water.

Movie quote: Ed, her boss: “What makes you think you can just walk in there and take whatever you want?”
Erin: “They're called boobs, Ed.”

What’s Love Got to Do With It? Starring Angel Bassett as Tina Turner
Tina Turner managed to get out of a relationship with a domineering, abusive husband and the rest is history. This is her life story.

Movie quote: (I love this because this is what her husband, Ike, says and she proves him oh so wrong!) “Now, you listen to me. I MADE you. You were nothing before you met me, and you'll be nothing without me.”

I haven't sold the movie rights to my current book, Sleeping with the Lights On, but I'm waiting for that call from Hollywood. I'd cast Meg Ryan as Sandra Holiday, and Matthew McConaughey as Carson. Johnny Depp would make a perfect, quirky millionaire. The redheaded stalker would have to be Julia Roberts.

After two failed marriages and countless relationships, Sandra Holiday thinks she’s met the man to end her years of less than perfect choices; choices that not only derailed her travel-related career plans but also left her single and broke. 

Carson Holiday, a Las Vegas country crooner with swoon-inducing good looks, spent his adult life pursuing a recording contract and love, never holding on to either. After eighteen years, he drops back into Sandra’s life, reigniting an attraction he can’t deny.

When Carson reappears, Sandra must choose again.  Only this time, nothing’s as it seems.  A secret admirer, a redheaded stalker, and an eccentric millionaire throw her on a dangerous path, with Carson her only truth.

As life confronts her with yet another turning point, will her decisions find her eternally sleeping with the lights on – or will she finally discover a way to turn them off?

But until I get that call from Hollywood, it's available in print or for your e-reader! 

Friday, September 23, 2011


Thursday, September 22, 2011

When A Review Means Something

Hi all! Good to be back here again today. I've been trying to post since around 4am this morning, but my wireless signal strength is about as effective as dial-up. It evidently felt Blogger stretched it's capabilities today. Apologies.

I must say, I’ve returned from Hawaii and find that life is chaos. It seems no matter how much I accomplish in one day, my head’s still in the sand, my lungs are full of salty-air, and my to-do list triples daily.

But before I left, I mentioned Misunderstanding Mason was coming out on the 31st. It released. Unfortunately, that day, I was swimming in the cove to the left. So I missed a lot of promotion pushes.

It did, however, garner interest and the first two reviews that I’ve received have both been 5-Star reviews. I found though, that while both were beautiful reviews, both were professional, and both significantly pleased me, one seems to have given me a tad more ‘warm-fuzzy’ than the other. So I started thinking about why… and I’ve learned something about myself.

Reviews are part of the process. Good, bad, indifferent – an author recognizes he/she cannot please everyone and there’s a level of expectation about that “terrible review”. Occasionally there’s one that really impacts us, or that we remember.

For me, the review by someone who’s not read me before, and finds my work pleasing, is the review that impacts me the most.

“Claire Ashgrove is a new author to me, but you can better believe I am going to get better acquainted with more of her work real soon!” ~ The Romance Reviews (I cannot computer generate the reviewer’s name with special characters)

That statement is why I write. Not because that’s a compliment to me, though I certainly appreciate it. But because one person has been impacted by my writing, who had not read me before.

I remember strictly as a reader, discovering a new author and that thrill of “Oh wow!” There’s a special feeling about that discovery that even overrides the comfort of reading a book by a favorite author. It’s exciting. It’s fulfilling. Kinda like romance, itself, and falling in love with another person.

I write romance. I want readers to fall in love with the heroes and heroines that I create and the trials that they must overcome. If I can generate a reaction like the above, I have done that, and I have fulfilled my responsibility as a writer. My chore is to then continue to meet that readers expectations with each and every book I produce.

I keep remarks like that in the forefront of my mind when I write. I am conscious of my reader, not just the story I want to tell. That’s my job… for without readers… I’m writing into outer space.

So what about you? What’s it like to discover a new author? What’s it like for you authors to hear remarks like that? For reviewers – are you aware that mentioning something similar can totally make an author’s day?

Curious to your thoughts.

If you’d like to hear more about Misunderstanding Mason, I’m going to be posting a new excerpt on my website over the weekend, replacing the short excerpt with a longer, first-chapter cut. Stop on by and check it out!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I’m Barbara Edwards and I’m sticking my neck out.

Can you take a little controversy?

I am holding up Sarah Palin as a Woman of Achievement.

Before all you rabid extremists burn my ears, let me tell you I don’t care about your politics. I also admired Geraldine Ferraro for taking on the male political establishment. I also admire Hillary Clinton for her presidential run and Michelle Bachman for hers.

When Sarah Palin’s name came up as the Vice Presidential nominee, my heart exploded with satisfaction. Finally, all those feminist ideals I’d been raised with were coming to fruition. Her party didn’t matter. She broke the glass ceiling that Geraldine Ferraro cracked.

Yippee for women! Hurray for females. Women rock!

So what makes her a Woman of Achievement in my opinion?

She’s a mother. I’m a mother and I know what a full-time job that is.

She graduated from college. Okay, maybe that’s low on the list but my own degree was the result of hard work, not grants, and my less than ivy-league degree as important.

She lives in Alaska, the last true frontier, and is a hunter, and a fisherman. I also can use a rifle and revolver although my fishing skills are limited to catfish and bass.

She married a man who was strong enough to support all her efforts. It took me years to find a man who accepted me and supported my writing.

She became involved in politics to fix a problem and then fixed it. Wow. Achievement. I ran for local selectman and got creamed.

She stood up to every nasty comment that can be thrown at a woman. Having been the object of gossip myself, my heart went out to her. Not fair.

So all of you who don’t like Sarah? Okay. I’ll just delete any nasty remarks. As I said, it isn’t her party I admire. It’s her guts in plowing the road for all the women who will follow. Check your local and state ballots in the coming years and give her the credit she deserves. Sarah took those barbs and arrows first.

She is the woman the sixties feminists shouted we all could be. And in my heart of hearts I envy her for all she’s done, including writing a best seller.    

Blog Site:
Ancient Blood
Authors Den:
Amazon Author Page:

Buy link

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shirley Chisholm: A Woman of Phenomenal Achievement

Laura Breck
In my September 10th blog, I remembered the amazing contribution my sister, Mary, made in my life and in hundreds of others'.

Today I want to talk about a woman my sister admired and supported, and who has also made a difference in the lives of many people. Shirley Chisholm.

Shirley Anita St. Hill was born in Brooklyn, New York, of immigrant parents. Her father was born in British Guiana and her mother was born in Christ Church, Barbados. At age three, Chisholm was sent to Barbados to live with her maternal grandmother for about seven years, after which she returned to New York City. In her 1970 autobiography Unbought and Unbossed, she wrote: "Years later I would know what an important gift my parents had given me by seeing to it that I had my early education in the strict, traditional, British-style schools of Barbados. If I speak and write easily now, that early education is the main reason."

Chisholm is an alumna of Girls High School, she earned her BA from Brooklyn College in 1946 and later earned her MA from Columbia University in elementary education in 1952. She was a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

From 1953 to 1959, she was director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center. From 1959 to 1964, she was an educational consultant for the Division of Day Care.

In 1964, Chisholm ran for and was elected to the New York State Legislature. In 1968, she ran as the Democratic candidate for New York's 12th District congressional seat and was elected to the House of Representatives. Defeating Republican candidate James Farmer, Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress. Chisholm joined the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969 as one of its founding members.

All those Chisholm hired for her office were women, half of them black. Chisholm said that during her New York legislative career, she had faced much more discrimination because she was a woman than because she was black.

In the 1972 U.S. presidential election, she made a bid for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. She survived three assassination attempts during the campaign. George McGovern won the nomination in a hotly contested set of primary elections. At the 1972 Democratic National Convention, as a symbolic gesture, McGovern opponent Hubert H. Humphrey released his black delegates to Chisholm, giving her a total of 152 first-ballot votes for the nomination. Chisholm's base of support was ethnically diverse and included the National Organization for Women. Chisholm said she ran for the office "in spite of hopeless odds... to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo."

Chisholm created controversy when she visited rival and ideological opposite George Wallace in the hospital soon after his shooting in May 1972, during the 1972 presidential primary campaign. Several years later, when Chisholm worked on a bill to give domestic workers the right to a minimum wage, Wallace helped gain votes of enough Southern congressmen to push the legislation through the House.

Throughout her tenure in Congress, Chisholm worked to improve opportunities for inner-city residents. She was a vocal opponent of the draft and supported spending increases for education, health care and other social services, and reductions in military spending.

In 1970, she authored a child care bill. The bill passed the House and the Senate, but was vetoed by President Richard Nixon, who called it "the Sovietization of American children."
In the area of national security and foreign policy, Chisholm worked for the revocation of Internal Security Act of 1950. She opposed the American involvement in the Vietnam War and the expansion of weapon developments. During the Jimmy Carter administration, she called for better treatment of Haitian refugees.

Chisholm wrote two autobiographical books. 1) Unbought and Unbossed: Expanded 40th Anniversary Edition. Take Root Media. ISBN 9780980059021. 2) The Good Fight. Harper Collins. ISBN 9780060107642.

Chisholm was married twice, first to Conrad Chisholm, a Jamaican private investigator from 1949 to 1977. Then in 1978, she married Arthur Hardwick Jr., a Buffalo businessman who died in 1986. Shirley announced her retirement from Congress in 1982. She had no children and moved to Florida when she retired.

After retirement she resumed her career in education, teaching politics and women's studies and being named to the Purington Chair at Mount Holyoke College from 1983 to 1987. In 1985 she was a visiting scholar at Spelman College. In 1984 and 1988, she campaigned for Jesse Jackson for the presidential elections. In 1993, then-President Bill Clinton nominated her to the ambassadorship to Jamaica, but she could not serve due to poor health. In the same year she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Chisholm died on January 1, 2005 in Ormond Beach near Daytona Beach. She was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.

In February 2005, Shirley Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed, a documentary film was aired on the U.S public television. It chronicles Chisholm's 1972 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. The film was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. On April 9, 2006, the film was announced as a winner of a Peabody Award.

"When I die, I want to be remembered as a woman who lived in the twentieth century and who dared to be a catalyst for change. I don't want be remembered as the first black woman who went to Congress, and I don't even want to be remembered as the first woman who happened to be black to make a bid for the presidency. I want to be remembered as a woman who fought for change in the twentieth century. That's what I want."

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Her words make me think about what I'd like to be remembered for. It's a long and unruly list, but mainly I'd like to be known as a person who made a positive difference in the lives of those I touched. How about you? What do you want to be remembered for?

Secret Vegas Lives
Scandalous L.A. Desires
both available from Red Rose Publishing

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fierce Writing Women

by Amber Leigh Williams

I thought I'd continue Women of Achievement along the same theme as my post earlier this month. Then I shared the inspirational impact author Jane Austen had on my work and many others in the writing world as well as the romance community, only today the focus will be on writing women of the last century and the three that I most admire....

#1 - Nora Roberts

The first romance novel I remember reading was Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to write romance for the rest of my life! That was eleven years ago. Since then, I've read most of Nora's backlist as well as those written by her alter-ego, J.D. Robb. Her prose is unmatched, her stories unforgettable, and her heroes are irresistible. Whenever I need a trusty reread, I go back to Roarke and Eve or Ethan and Grace...or pretty much any other Nora Roberts book for that sure, feel-good HEA.

#2 - J.K. Rowling

There's nothing I can say about Jo Rowling that the rest of the world doesn't already know. This may trigger a nerd alert somewhere, but I have read her books through and through so many times I've lost count. Beyond Harry Potter and his compelling band of secondary characters, Jo's own story is one for the books. It was amidst the grim backdrop of low finances, single parenthood, and a devastating bout of depression that she wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Over the span of ten years, she stuck with her main character and his extraordinary journey through the magical world and her voice draws both young and adult readers again and again into Harry's adventures.

#3 - Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Unlike many romance readers, I didn't discover Kathleen E. Woodiwiss until two years before she passed away. It didn't take long to realize why her work is legend in the romance community. While not as prolific as Nora Roberts, or maybe because of that, each of her books are widely celebrated. As a teen, I didn't think anything would ever come close to eclipsing the Civil War love story of Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. My sister-in-law proved me wrong by loaning me her copy of Ashes in the Wind, a romance set against the same time period and the colorful backdrop of antebellum New Orleans. Within ten pages, I was in love with the prose and attached to the wanted heroine, Alaina. Anyone who knows any number of romance fans can attest of Kathleen's impact on the genre.

So readers, who are the authors who have impacted you the most? Who do you reread religiously and why do you keep going back to their work?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Are Our Heroines Women of Achievement By Jannine Gallant

We’ve featured some amazing women this month, truly strong women who’ve changed the world we live in. So, are our modern heroines modeled after these women? For the most part, I believe they are.

I grew up reading Nancy Drew. Now there was a teen with direction and determination. Did Nancy sit around waiting for Ned to solve her problems? Not a chance. She was a girl who got the job done. I bet every ten year old who read those books wanted to be just like Nancy. I know I did.

In my own teen years, back in the Dark Ages, I discovered romance. (The kind in books people! LOL) Historicals were my favorites and all the rage in the late 70’s. Admittedly, it can be hard to write about strong heroines in an era when women were supposed to be meek shadows following their men. Let’s face it; Barbara Cartland had some pretty wimpy heroines! But Kathleen Woodiwiss gave us strong women we could admire. She threw down the gauntlet, and LaVyrle Spencer picked it up. There is an author who never should have retired!

I believe the huge surge in popularity of romantic suspense novels in the 90’s, with authors like Nora Roberts leading the way, was because of the complex heroines they created. We'd had enough of the typical virginal Harlequin heroine of the 80’s and wanted women we could relate to. Women who had careers and interests beyond the men with whom they fell in love. Today, creating heroines with jobs, kids, and problems to solve while they fall for a man as imperfect as they are, is what we do best. Our modern heroine isn’t a girl wringing her hands and moaning over her hard luck. She’s a woman taking control of the situation and finding solutions.

The heroine of my first published novel, Victim of Desire, is Rachel Carpenter. Ex-soap star, bookstore owner, divorced mother of three with a psychotic stalker on her trail. Maybe most of us don’t have an unbalanced fan following us around (at least not yet LOL,) but I bet you can relate to the frustrations of a mom whose fourteen-year-old daughter dyes her hair pink and gets a tattoo, a woman so busy prioritizing her children and her business she doesn’t have time to date. The mark of a true Woman of Achievement is in how she handles herself and her problems. I think Rachel qualifies!

Are your heroines Women of Achievement? Let’s hear about them.

To purchase Victim of Desire and my other books, find buy links on my website at

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Where Did She Go?

Today I wanted to share a tiny short story with you. For my
 mother-in-law, Marilyn...

       Where Did She Go?
                     by Jerri Hines

            Time is a relative thing. Isn’t it? I mean the older we get the faster it ticks away. There are never enough hours in the day. Running late as usual, I stopped by for a quick visit. Have to. Haven’t been by in awhile.

            The backdoor open, I walked in, sliding back the screen door to find Mom sitting in her chair. She smiled up at me, the most beautiful smile. A laugh escaped her, a laugh to die for. The house used to echo her laughter.

            “Oh, it’s you. You have come to visit,” she said.

            I smiled back at her. It’s been years since she said my name. I looked over at Dad. It has been one of those days I can see. His tired worn eyes betrayed him, but not his words.

            Leaning over and kissing Mom’s cheek, I turned to Dad. “Why don’t you go out? I’m here for as long as you need me. Pat is at a dinner for work.”

            “Do you mind? I could run down to the Knight’s?” he asked.

            “Not a problem,” I answered, reprimanding myself. I should have come by more often and watched her for him.

            Realizing in that moment, I have taken my older sister, Donna, for granted. She has taken the blunt of this. Never having married, I had convinced myself she had the time to look after Mom and Dad. Forgetting perhaps, she was my mother, too.

            I watched Dad leave from the window and turned back to Mom.

            “Where did that man go?” she asked.

            I sighed.“He’ll be right back.”

            “Who?” she asked. She stood up and walked toward the kitchen.

            “Are you hungry? Let me fix you something,” I said while following her.

            She leaned down and picked up a tiny, tiny scrap of paper on the floor. I wondered for a moment how could she have seen it. She picked it up and placed it in the palm of her hand.     

            “Do you want me to take that?”

            She doesn’t answer, but I reached over and took it. Throwing it in the garbage, I watched her walk over to the table, rearranging the centerpiece. She turned back to me.

            “Where did that man go?”

            “He’ll be back in a minute,” I answered her again. My eyes caught sight of a stack of pictures at the corner of the table.

            Picking them up, I flipped through them. I held the past in my hand. Pictures of my father fifty years ago. So good looking, smiling in his army uniform. Another of their wedding…baby pictures of us kids.

            So long ago. How I missed those days. Engrossed in the pictures, I didn’t noticed at first she had sat down. She held the picture of my father in her hand. Gently her hand glazed over the face.

            “He’s handsome,” she said, not releasing it but gripping it tighter. She reached for the stack of pictures. I relented and studied her as she looked through them.

            Suddenly the urge surged through me that I wanted her back. I wanted her to take me in her arms as she had when I was a child. Smooth away the pain. To tell me that all would be fine.

            “Everything will be better in the morning,” she used to tell me.

            Instead, she looked up at me. “Where did that man go?”

            “He’ll be back in a minute,” I answered once more. She seemed appeased and went back to looking through the pictures.

            We sat there going through the pictures. I answered her patiently when she asked me who it was.

            “That’s Tommy. Your oldest grandson.”

            “Are you sure?” she asked.

            I nodded. She stared down at it thoughtfully. I saw her mind struggle to remember, searching for something familiar. There had been times in the past when she would break down and cry at this point. Today she went to the next picture.

            How desperately I wanted to share with her my memories. Moments in my life I cherish. Would always cherish. Wouldn’t I?

            I wanted to tell her I would never have survived high school without her. It wasn’t until my children got to be in high school that I realized why Mom stayed up and hugged me before I went to bed. Later in life she told me she just wanted to make sure I hadn’t been drinking. Nothing ever got by her. I wanted her to know I have done the same with my children.

            I chuckled to myself remembering how much she disliked Pat when I began dating him. Never did she come straight out and tell me. No, it wasn’t her way. Subtle remarks here and there. They stopped the day I married. Over the years, surprisingly she formed a special bond with my husband.

Then the vision of her when I was giving birth to Justin flashed before me. Pat was by my side when the doctor said his heart rate dropped and they needed to perform an emergency Cesarean. Being wheeled down the corridor to the OR, I heard her before I saw her. Running down the corridor like a mad woman, she stopped us for a second.

Bending down over me, she whispered, “I love you.”

I heard her as I was being wheeled away. “I couldn’t let them take her in without telling her…”

            I looked back at her. Oh, God, what happened to my mother? The woman who never forgot a date in her life, a birthday, an anniversary, dates that I didn’t even know meant anything.

            Smiling at me, she asked, “Where’s that man? Suppose he forgot to come back.”

            “He’ll be back in a minute.”

            She nodded. Her head tilted to the side when she came to the next picture, the picture of her on her wedding day. Beautiful, smiling broadly, so happy.

            Her eyes met mine. “Where did she go?”

            More than 5 million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s. My husband’s mother, Marilyn, is one of them. From a personal perceptive, Alzheimer’s is an awful disease taking from your love ones their memories. I have watched my husband’s family struggle with this fact. At first, I watched a lovely, warm woman struggle to remember simple facts. Frustration sets in. She wasn’t what she wanted to be. Then after another stage, she became more like a child. Accepting what you told her amiably, instead it was his family who endured the hurt. I have watched my father-in-law stand by his wedding vows, for better or worse, in sickness or health, faithfully. When I write a romance, I write about finding a love to last a life time. It happens…I’ve seen it.

            So come Sunday, September 25th, my family and I are walking for Marilyn. If you want to learn more about what we are doing click here.

You will find my next release, The Judas Kiss, out this coming January, 2012, with Whiskey Creek Press. A historical romance. I’m excited because it’s the first in the Tides of Charleston series. You will find my other books, Dream Walker and Patriot Secrets, at most ebook stores. Follow me on Facebook-Novel Works is my fan page where I recommend books, authors, blogs… I’m also on Twitter@jhines340.