Saturday, April 30, 2016

Family Vacations by Diane Burton

I recently returned from a 3-generation family vacation. First, let me tell you about some of our vacations when my kids were younger. They called them “encyclopedia” vacations. When we went to a famous site, I wanted them to know about it. (You can take the teacher out of the classroom…) As they got older, I gave them the Triple A book, and had them choose places to stop—which meant they had to read about these places.

Our last family vacation with just the four of us strained Hubs’ and my patience. A 10th grader who PMS’d the whole time and didn’t want to do anything, and a 9th grader who wanted to be home with his friends. Later—many years later—he said that was a really great vacation. The kicker, though, was daughter, who had groused the whole time, got on the phone with her girlfriend (while we were emptying the car) and exclaimed about how she had so much fun. I thought Hubs’ would kill her. LOL

The kids are grown with kids of their own. We went on a cruise with daughter, SIL, and their two kids, along with SIL’s parents and his sister and her son. Not just any cruise but a Disney cruise. What fun. Especially because this was a Star Wars Disney cruise. I might have mentioned a few times that my family are Star Wars’ fanatics—from the 6 y.o. through Hubs. One day during the cruise, Star Wars characters walked the decks, had photo ops, while those into Star Wars more than my family also dressed in costume. I have to admit, Hubs’ and I hung out with some of the characters. 

Before leaving on the cruise, I had a brilliant idea. I would set the fourth Alex O’Hara book on a cruise. So I paid special interest in things I could use in the story. I also asked our tax preparer what I needed to do to be able to take my cost of the cruise as a business expense. She asked her supervisors. I didn’t get the not-so-good news until we got home. Nope. Can’t do it. Darn!

We had a great time (even if I can’t write it off). The kiddies had their activities. The younger adults had theirs. And Hubs and I did our thing. We all met for dinner each night and had fun discussing what we did. I have to say Disney does customer service well. The food was to die for and the staff couldn’t have been nicer and friendlier. I would definitely recommend a cruise for a multi-generation family vacation.

Diane Burton writes romantic suspense, mysteries, and science fiction romance. She blogs here on the 30th of the month and on her own blog on Mondays.

Friday, April 29, 2016

What the heck do headlights, trains, and little girls have to do with romance? by Mackenzie Crowne

One of the most commonly asked questions a writer receives is, Where do you get the ideas for your stories? The quick answer is, Everywhere. That’s because life provides the seed for every story, whether it be a song lyric that hits your ears at just the right time, a news headline, a funny comment overheard…

Photo © Adobe Stock 
Or something as simple as an elderly man holding a small valise and a bouquet of flowers as he waits for a train.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend the RWA convention in Manhattan. With thousands of romance authors roaming the city, I found myself grinning as I imagined how many romance seeds were planted that weekend. I did a little HEA farming myself, in Penn Station, no less. As I stood waiting for my train, my gaze was drawn to an elderly man waiting several feet away.

I smiled at the colorful flowers clutched in his thin hand and couldn’t help wondering, where are you going? Who are the flowers for? He looked adorable and quite dapper in his button down suit, complete with bow tie, a fedora tugged low on his brow. Of course, he must be meeting a woman. Who was she? And would she be charmed by his interest, or would she break his heart?

I write romance, and my characters are typically in their early thirties, so of course, my mind quickly slipped a young heroine into the picture. She’d sit next to the old man on the train and…

The possibilities are endless.

On the road to the compound
For me, at least, those seeds normally sprout sideways, never taking me where I first thought they would. Like the idea that came from the flash of headlights, believe it or not. My husband and I have a getaway cabin on the side of Mt. Graham east of Tucson. We call it our compound...long story. We were headed to the property late one night. It’s pretty rough terrain, with lots of sharp dips and steep climbs on the dirt road leading in. With no moon to guide us that night, the sky was pitch black. As we topped a rise, far off in the distance on another peak, a bright beam of light suddenly appeared, shooting straight into the sky.

Now, I live in Phoenix, and many here in the southwest would have immediately thought ALIENS! Because, you know. It’s the desert. That’s where the aliens always hang out. Seriously. Roswell isn’t far away. Anyway, I didn’t go the alien route. For whatever reason, I imagined the beam more like the light shining through a door that had suddenly been opened. A portal of sorts. One that could transport someone from one spot to another, anywhere in the world, and maybe, any time in the world. Oh, the possibilities...

You’re probably thinking, ah, Mac found the seed for a sci-fi time-travel romance set in the mountains of southern Arizona, but you’d be wrong. In the end, that seed bloomed into a contemporary fantasy romance set in Ireland. Yeah, I know. The odd path the story took threw me a little too, but that flash of headlights was the birth of my first published book.

Just over a year ago, a pair of twin girls I saw one day while shopping became the seed for what eventually morphed into Players, my sports romance series. Don’t ask me how I went from those cute little girls to an MMA champion finding his HEA with country music’s “It Girl” in book #3 in the series, To Win Her Heart. Even I can’t explain how my imagination works, but these days, I’m not fazed in the least when the seeds grow sideways. Instead, I embrace the possibilities and remember…they’re endless.

In order to protect her, they’ll both have to let their guards down…

Country music’s It Girl Jessi Tucker is fed up with her family’s stifling security measures. The threat of a dangerous stalker has gotten the men in her life—including her football star cousin, Tuck Tucker—monitoring her every move. To get the freedom she yearns for, Jessi hatches a plan to recruit Max Grayson, Tuck’s sexy brawler best friend, to play the role of her new boyfriend. But if her scheme works, will she be forced to hide her true romantic feelings for the sake of her independence? Or will she finally steal the heart of her dream man?...
Max has been pining for Jessi for years and would do anything to protect her, but a professional cage fighter with too many skeletons in his closet has no business being with one of America’s sweethearts. Yet while Max does his best to keep Jessi at arm’s length, the Tucker family persuades him to accept her offer.
Max believes he can keep Jessi safe from danger, but can he shelter her from his own dark secrets, the media’s unforgiving spotlight—and a mutual desire that’s harder to resist each day…
Players Series titles available in all formats at Kensington Publishing

Mackenzie Crowne writes contemporary romance with a side of sass. 
Her friends call her Mac. She hopes you will too. 
Visit her website at, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Please welcome our guest, Peggy Jaeger, back to the Roses!

Recently, a topic came up with some fellow writers that I feel needs to be addressed. What happens when writers who love to write...don't love it so much anymore?

I can hear you shrugging and scratching your heads. Let me 'splain it to you, Lucy.

The old saying Writers write is a point. Writers write for different reasons, all of them individualistic and all of them valid for that writer. But sometimes the words won't come, the ideas don't flow, and the creativity wanes.  Sometimes, the writer is just tired of writing. When that happens, and I tell you this from personal experience, guilt and depression set in. Because if writers are supposed to write, and then they don't/won't/can't, a storm of emotions piles on top of an already artistic ( read: moody) mind. And I don't mean moody as a pejorative, but more as a descriptor. Writers feel things more than other people do - it's in our make up. It's what makes up good writers - being able to isolate and get to the emotional levels of actions and words, our own and our character's.

So, when a writer doesn't write, there has to be an underlying cause. Now, speaking just from my own experience with writing depression, the main reason I was in such a state was because of getting published. How dumb does that sound? I finally have a publisher want something of mine, and the next thing you know I'm depressed about it. But when I stepped away from the writing, I soon realized that wasn't what was causing me not to write, it was the whole package that comes with publication: marketing, sales tracking, social media, appearances and book signings.  I wanted to write - I just wasn't so hot about all the after-work that goes into it. When I finally came to conclusion I am not a marketing person, I was able to find the joy again in simply writing.

I don't think my experience is a unique one among writers. We are, after all, artists. Artists, are by definition, moody. We feel too much, expect too much ( of ourselves and others), want too much and can really tap into the emotions of those around and within us. So when something sets us off, we experience a range of feelings. Sometimes those feeling manifest themselves in depression or an inability to express ourselves in our work, which in this case, is the written word.

So, back to me. When I realized it wasn't the writing that wasn't giving me my joy but the outside stuff associated with it, I was able to compartmentalize those outside factors - and by that I mean forget about them!! - and go back to doing what gives me the most joy in my life: writing and creating.
Maybe that adage should be changed from a declarative writers write to an exclamatory writers WANT to write!  By taking the absolute declaration out of the phrase, maybe, as writers, we'll be able to cut ourselves a little slack.

The Voices of Angels
The last thing Carly Lennox is looking for as she sets out on her new book tour is love. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and in raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine show based on her book, Carly’s thrilled, but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.

Mike Woodard is an ambitious man-and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else, and as he tells her, he’s a patient guy. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him. No. Carly is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it-and him- may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken on.

“I...” Carly began, then stopped.
“Oh, hell. I’m not good with words in situations like this.”
His laugh came quick, charmed by her nerves. “Pretty pathetic declaration for a writer.”
Carly stuck out her bottom lip in a very alluring pout. He was tempted to stop and take her mouth with his again.

“Don’t mock me. When it’s on paper I can get it right. Real life has no re-writes, no editing.”

“Granted.” The sunlight played with the alternating auburn and fire-red highlights in her hair as they began to walk again. He was convinced no color had ever been so alive.

Carly squared her shoulders. “I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about me. Concerning men.”

When he didn’t comment, she continued. “It’s only, well...I haven’t been involved with anyone since my husband died. I’ve been busy with my daughter and my writing. I haven’t met anyone I’ve been interested in, I guess.”

“Until now.”

Carly turned to look at him. Irritation crossed in her narrowed eyes. “You’re pretty sure of yourself.”

“No,” he replied. “I’m more sure of you, though.” “Excuse me?”
Mike laughed again. He stopped and cupped her cheeks. “You’re even more beautiful when you’re angry. Your left eyebrow arches ever so slightly and your eyes turn the most incredible forest green.” He kissed her and felt her pulse trip again under his fingers.

Available here:
Amazon /// TWRP /// Kobo /// Nook

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why Writers Are Like Golfers by Betsy Ashton

I was with a group of writers last week who bemoaned their lack of New York Times best seller status. All had talent, some more than others. None were willing to invest enough time to promote their books. Forget promoting other writers' books. If they didn't see an immediate return on their investment, like sharing a FB post or retweeting for another author, they couldn't be bothered.

I was struck anew how like writers some golfers are. Yes, I said golfers. Earlier this month, my husband and I were lucky enough to go to The Masters. All the great, once great and upcoming golfers who'd qualified were there. So, there we were, sitting in a grandstand, when a foursome came up. Mind you, this was Tuesday, a practice day, when golfers are more interesting in getting used to the course than anything else. In this foursome were Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and two younger golfers I didn't recognize. Phil hit his drive offline into the pine straw. His path to the green lay up and over a tall pine. He studied the ball, its lie, his clubs. He selected a club and lofted the ball onto the green a few feet from the hole. Again, mind you, he couldn't see the green, and he knew what he had to do to get there.

Dustin Johnson walked up, marked his ball on the green and looked up at the tree and Phil's ball. Phil stepped onto the green and shrugged. For him, it was all in a day's work. For Dustin, it was, "How the heck did you make the shot?" Phil held court for a few minutes teaching the other golfers how he made the shot. This may have been a practice round, but these four guys were playing for money. More important, they were playing for fun.

What this has to do with writing is simple: some writers write for the love of the craft, others write in hopes or anticipation of large payoffs. We all want people to read our books. We also are happy when readers buy our books.

I don't know what it would be like to be a best selling author. I'd like to think it would spur me on to write better, to put out another book, to continue to study the craft. I'd hope to be more like Phil Mickelson, who is beyond the peak of his game, who still plays and who gives the crowds what they want: him. We love a golfer who is gracious and shows he's having a ripping good time at what he's doing.

I love a writer who puts out another book, a better book, after one bombs. Those 1-star reviews are spirit-crushers, but writers I respect learn from them. The next book is often better.

I wonder if golfers would quit the game and writers would quit the craft if they thought they couldn't make another penny for their efforts.

What do you think? Would you quit if your books didn't sell? Or would you go back to basics and revisit the craft?

Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please follow me on my website, on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

And around this corner we have ...

As others have written here, I'm at a Stage of Life where things are changing. 5 years ago we moved (again) to a new home in Iowa, and while I love it here, I'm ready to downsize and move on. To what? I have no idea, but we're exploring possibilities.

I have never been tied to Stuff and have readily weeded out, tossed, pitched, and otherwise shed belongings as I move. After all, I've moved something like 25-30 times in 40 years, so it pays to travel light. But lately I've been thinking there's more to it than just examining and pitching. So I got "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" -- you know the book, the one that promises if you examine items for 'joy', you'll figure out where you're going in life.

I've just started reading it (OK. I don't read. I skim. But it's a very skimmable book). I'll report back next month on my progress. So far, it's making sense and so far, I think I'm unconsciously already doing a lot of what she says.

Case in point: when we bought our current house, we bought some of the furniture that was here. It fit, ours was old so why move it, etc. I honestly don't care about furnishings as long as they're comfortable, but lately I've felt they weren't quite Us. They just didn't fit with who I am now. So I told DH, sell the furniture (on Craigslist). We did, went out and bought new furniture (nothing pricey; I'm Slumberland all the way), and now the rooms feel right.

I think I realized that if we move to a new home, I didn't want to take that 'inherited' furniture with us, so why not find what I wanted now?

That's sort of the theme of the book: find what fits for you and keep it. Get rid of the other stuff.

Anyway -- I'll report back in a few weeks on the experiment. The big test will be on my computer hard drive -- can I pitch some of those old manuscripts and scenes that I think I'll use someday?

We'll see ...


Monday, April 25, 2016

ONE DAY AT A TIME by Liz Flaherty

Hey Roses and Readers, please welcome Liz Flaherty today!
I don’t think I can write another word.
            It has been the winter of discontent. Of family illnesses and surgeries, and as February finally came to an end, loss. But time and publishing wait on no one, and my new book, Every Time We Say Goodbye, came out April 1. You all know what happens then—you spread yourself around, holding up a figurative hand with a figurative book in it and saying Here I am! You blog, you sign books, you do giveaways, you talk wherever anyone will listen, and you keep smiling even on the days you feel heartbreak nipping at your heels.
            I’m working on two manuscripts, which I hardly ever do, and making sketchy progress on them both, because I tend to think too often that, as I said above, I can’t write another word.
            But it’s a pretty day here today. I’m looking out the window beside my desk at the awakening lawn. My husband mowed it over the past couple of days, all three acres of it, and the grass lies in bright green beautiful strips.
            That he mowed one at a time. When the wind was blowing. When his hip hurt. Or his knee hurt. While he grieved the loss of his mother. Or while there were a thousand other things he wanted to do.
            That is the way of it then, isn’t it, when we feel as though one more word or one more strip of grass is one too many. We just go ahead and do it. One at a time.
            When I visited Roses of Prose in January of 2015, I’d just signed a new contract, and I said, “The book...was shockingly difficult to write. It took ten months or so, not a really long time for me, but it seemed longer.” What a blessing it is that now that the book is out with a different and better title than I gave it and a cover I’ve grown used to, I don’t remember how hard it was to write. I don’t remember how many days I thought I’d never finish it. I don’t remember, although I know it’s true, that I wrote it one word at a time even when I thought I couldn’t.
He had her at “hello again…”
After the prom night accident that had stolen the innocence of his small lakeside hometown, Jack Llewellyn had run. The guilt—especially facing his high school sweetheart, Arlie Gallagher—had been too much. Now he had no choice. He was back in town, and on Arlie’s radar.
Arlie couldn’t believe that after all these years, she still had him under her skin. He was such a changed man…a responsible business owner, a single parent. Would he understand the changes she’d gone through, the secrets she lived with? She was ready to forgive him but was he ready to forgive himself? And did they have to say goodbye this time?
Buy links:

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