Thursday, June 30, 2016

Books That Stay With You by Diane Burton

I’m a fast reader. Usually I zip through books, skimming the “boring” parts (aka descriptions), lingering on dialogue, soaking up the plot. I finish one book then on to the next. Rinse and repeat.

I didn’t used to be so cavalier about books. My grandmother would send us books for birthdays and Christmas. I didn’t always appreciate the stories, but I did appreciate her thoughtfulness. I still have those books, which she always signed with the date and her full name. Because books were difficult to come by—money was tight with seven kids—I hoarded hardbacks, used babysitting money for paperbacks that I read over and over until they were tattered. And because of that, once I could afford  books I never let them go.

Our last move to a new house convinced me to divest myself of many books. Unlike in the past where the company paid moving expenses, this one was on our dime. Books are heavy, and we paid by the pound. Our local library became the recipient of free books from several conferences, books I hadn’t gotten around to reading and knew I never would. Except for several all-time and forever favorites plus several for research, my books reside on my Kindle. Easy to carry with me wherever I go. Finish one book at the doctor’s office, go on to the next while waiting.

Consequently, stories don’t stick with me like they used to. For one thing, on my Paperwhite, I don’t see the cover each time I pick up the book. I open the Kindle, and I’m right where I left off in the story. Without the cover reminding me of the title and author, I don’t remember books like I used to.

Every once in a while, a story will stick with me. Case in point, Night Road by Kristin Hannah. I’d chosen the book for our monthly book group. It’s the story of a “helicopter” mom of high school twins. In our discussion, one of the women (close to my age) said things are different from when we raised our children. While I agree—we never had lockdowns at school—I still believe parents have to find a balance between protecting their children while helping them make their own decisions when they are young. Expanding the decision making from little things, like what to wear, to using their own judgement on what to read and, eventually, whether to drink in high school. And letting go.

In Night Road, the main character was so obsessed with protecting her kids that she made all their decisions. (Or so she thought.) But how could they make rational decisions when Mom would disagree and probably ground them?

I wasn’t the best mother nor was I the worst. Like most mothers, I made my share of mistakes. I trusted my children when I probably shouldn’t have. I badgered them about where they were going and who they would be with but didn’t follow through by checking up on them. Was that the right thing to do? To paraphrase a school psychologist at a PTO meeting (way back when), I did the best I could given what I knew at the time.

That’s all we really can do, isn’t it? Fortunately, my children lived through their high school and college years. I survived, too. But a single mistake, a case of bad judgement, changed everyone’s life in Night Road. That could have been one or both of my kids. Scary. Actually, in retrospect, it’s terrifying. I know I can’t live in the past or play the “what if” game with real lives. All we can do is pray that we make the best decisions and live with the consequences.

Diane Burton writes romantic suspense, mysteries, and science fiction romance. She blogs here on the 30th of the month, on Paranormal Romantics on the 13th, and on her own blog on Mondays.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Happily Ever After List by Mackenzie Crowne

As a young woman, I stood before the mirror in my childhood bedroom, admiring my oh-so-cool leg warmers and putting the finishing touches on my “big” hair. That brand new phenomenon, MTV, blared in the living room while I primped for nights on the town with my girlfriends, giddy at the idea of spending the night dancing like it was 1999. Ah, the music, the excitement…the boys! The possibility of that night being the night I would finally meet The One and live happily ever after! 

Mac & The One then...
But alas, time passes quickly. Mom jeans have replaced the leg warmers, and the hair, which is not so big anymore, would be liberally streaked with gray - if I didn’t beat it into submission once a month with a box of Nice-’n-Easy. As for happily ever after, yeah, I still believe in the concept. After all, I did eventually meet The One, and this Saturday we’ll be celebrating thirty-three years of wedded bliss.

Hah! Chances are those of you who have been married longer than the length of the honeymoon are raising an eyebrow at the word bliss, because let’s face it, bliss is hard to maintain when faced with the day-to-day realities of marriage. Honestly, is any woman blissful when picking up their One’s briefs from the bathroom floor? Or wiping his toothpaste splatter from the mirror? Yuck.

There have been many occasions in the past thirty-three years when I looked at The One and imagined myself as one of the Merry Murderesses from Broadway’s Chicago, declaring He ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times!

Yeah, I know. I’m weird. But I’m a writer. I can’t help imagining delicious scenarios I can never follow through on - unless I’m willing to do time. And if you’ve been married as long as The One and I have, admit it. You’ve imagined some of those scenarios yourself. So, what’s the secret to a successful marriage and happily ever after? There’s the popular list: Respect, give and take, communication, and commitment - but I have my own list. 

1. Know when to stand your ground.
2. Maintain your sense of humor.
3. Develop the art of subtle revenge.

Mac & The One years later...

Okay, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. Despite the Merry Murderesses reference, The One and I rarely disagree, much less fight. The One claims this is because we’re friends as well as lovers. I attribute the usual peacefulness of our relationship to my aversion to conflict. I hate fighting and avoid it whenever possible. But, The One is a guy, which means he occasionally does something so ridiculous, it simply can’t be ignored. When that happens, I survive the explosive fall out by sticking to my list. 

Case in point:

After accidentally dousing his sandwich with a heaping pile of pepper several years ago, The One promptly tossed the pepper shaker into the trash, announcing, “I’m sick of this f*%@ing thing!” 

Seriously, he threw away the pepper shaker. Who throws away a pepper shaker? I mean, come on. It’s an innocent, inanimate object. If you’re having a problem with it, it’s a pretty sure bet the trouble is user error. Besides, it’s part of a set!

#1: Know when to stand your ground.

“Well then,” I responded. “We don’t need this!”

Into the trash can went the salt shaker. Take that, buddy! I swear, his hair stood on end. He pinned me with narrowed eyes as he grabbed the first thing within reach. The tea kettle joined the innocent salt and pepper shakers in their absurd fate.

And, hello. Game on!

Dirty dishes and clean ones, silverware and counter top items, including a few small appliances, nothing escaped the whirlwind of angry passion gripping the blissfully married adversaries in our kitchen. Five minutes later, with a fine cloud of flour hanging in the air, sanity suddenly grabbed hold of me. Okay, the truth is, I came to my senses when I couldn’t fit anything more in the trash can.

#2: Maintain your sense of humor.

I glanced around at the carnage, but there was no way I could apply #2 at that moment. I was too ticked off. The man threw away a two-hundred-dollar blender, for heaven’s sake, and my kitchen looked like it had been ransacked! Because it had.

(I need to add an addendum to the list here: #2b: Know when to utilize a cooling off period.)

Sometimes getting away from your loving spouse is the only way to avoid doing time - with the added bonus of allowing you to regroup and come up with a workable plan for #3: Develop the art of subtle revenge.

I promptly went for a drive.

While I have my list, The One has his own. It consists of only two items. He believes in the power of persistence, and if that doesn’t work, he turns immediately to his own form of bribery. He’s such a guy. But I have to admit, he’s got skills when it comes to the suck-up gift - and he knows when to bring in reinforcements. The next morning, he enlisted our teenage boys in his ploy to charm me out of my mad. They disappeared for an hour and returned with a tiger striped kitten he claimed to have found foraging for food in a downtown parking lot.

Talk about a double whammy! I was toast and he knew it. But I ask you, how is a woman supposed to stay mad under those circumstances? It would take a much harder woman than me, that’s for sure. As we shared our morning coffee, his suck up gift lay curled up asleep in my lap.

“What are you going to name her?” he asked, looking far too smug for my liking.

I haven’t lived with the man all these years without knowing how to nip that kind of thing in the bud. I scratched at the kitten’s soft chin, smiled sweetly, and replied, “Pepper, of course.”

Oh, please. You didn’t think I was going to forget #2 and #3, did you?  

So here’s my happily ever after advice. Stand your ground. A good man loves a woman who knows her mind. Laugh with him as much as possible. It’s impossible to hold a grudge when you’re giggling. And learn the art of subtle revenge. You might just get a kitten out of it.

When Mac isn’t busy working on her own happily ever after, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like Gracie Gable, the heroine of To Win Her Love, book #1 of the Players series – on #SALE for $0.99 through this weekend in all formats at KensingtonBooks.

To win the game, they’ll have to risk losing their hearts…
When a bizarre child custody stipulation pits popular sports blogger Gracie Gable against football superstar Jake Malone, losing the battle for her twin nieces isn't the only thing Gracie has to worry about. Forced to live for three months under the same roof as the sexy tight end, will she fall prey to his flirtatious pursuit? Or worse, will the skeletons in her closet destroy her chance for the love and family she so desperately wants?
Neglected by his parents as a boy, Jake doesn’t believe in happily ever after. Yet living with Gracie and the twins might be enough to change his mind—and his womanizing ways. But when the press unearths a scandal from Gracie’s past, will he lose the one woman he was ready to open his heart to?

For more information on Mac's Players series, as well as her other titles, visit her at, Twitter or Facebook.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Romantic Suspense New Release & Discussion Group by Jo Grafford

Please welcome our guest today, Jo Grafford.

I will admit I’m a Castle-House-Bones-NCIS junkie. I love seeing detectives grapple with complex cases, villains get what they deserve, and victims receive their long overdue moments of justice. 

I particularly love it when the cases aren’t black and white – kind of like real life. When the lines are blurred. When good people sometimes do the right things for the wrong reasons or the wrong things for the right reasons. 

Then again, sometimes I like watching a spine-tingling show or reading one of those books that keep you awake at night with an honest-to-gosh truly dark soul for an antagonist. Criminals who do the unthinkable without a drop of human compassion. Men and women who have crossed so far over the line that there is no coming back. 

In my most recent release DESIGNED FOR YOU, my readers get a taste of the whole range of villainy—from the redeemable to the unredeemable to the I’m-not-yet-sure-they’re-redeemable characters who will carry into books two and three later this year. More deets about the book after this quick news flash and personal invitation: 

While you’re waiting for the next book in your favorite series to release, we invite you to join our all-new and completely awesome group designed exclusively for romantic suspense readers. With nearly 150 readers already, it’s a no-spam, 100% discussion group about anything and everything romantic suspense. Join us here: 

Hope to see you there! —Jo

Designed for You

Jillian Lang’s interior design company soars to a new level of success after hiring the world’s sexiest, most gorgeous office manager. Holland Sparks makes everything spike — her sales, her heartbeat, her temperature… 

When a pesky stalker suddenly moves his game from the cyber world to the real world, Holland becomes the one person she trusts implicitly. An anchor in the midst of her chaos. A man whose ruthless business instincts turn to devastating tenderness after hours. 

Until his own secrets start to unfold, leaving Jillian to wonder if her beautiful business partner is actually the one spinning the deadly web that’s fast closing around her. 

Here’s what the 5-star reviews are saying:

• “Heart-pounding suspense mixed with fun, quirky characters, lit by steamy scenes, and riddled with so many twists that you’ll be guessing until the last page.”

• “One heck of a roller coaster ride”

• “Gutsy heroine, alpha men, heart-pumping drama”

• “Highly entertaining. Not a dull moment. Didn’t want to put this book down.”

• “5+++ stars!” 



Short Excerpt:

I know who you are.

Jillian Lang's insides froze as she read the email with its dreaded XX signature. She was tempted to run to the front door of Lang Interiors to make sure she'd locked it after closing time.

"Of course you know who I am!" She threw her arms up at the computer screen. "Any moron with Internet access can find my company website." And exact street address. Her hands shook as she returned them to the keyboard.

More than likely, it was just some junior high prankster. Still, it unnerved her to receive the cryptic email message day after day. Who was sending it and why?

She shook her head at the screen. Should she report her stalker to the police? Would they even care? They had bigger fish to fry investigating the daily burglaries and muggings that plagued the city. Probably earn her little more than a good chuckle from them if she complained about someone who simply claimed to know her identity. The emails were creepy and obnoxious but hardly criminal.

She punched a few keys and carefully filed the email, hating how powerless she was to do anything about it.

She preferred being in control. Climbing her own mountains. Putting out her own fires. Unfortunately, that was all about to change.

I write romance across the genres. The stakes are always high, and the heroes are willing to risk it all for the brilliant, sassy women they love.
Originally from St. Louis, I’ve served as a corporate trainer, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. Along the way, I discovered the only thing I enjoy as much as teaching is writing. Especially writing romance! A typical day finds me on my laptop, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat sprawled across my lap (hoping for his first book dedication or at least an honorable mention).
I love alpha males, strong-minded woman, humorous sidekicks, diversity, Vikings, dashing lords, vampires, zombies, cyborgs…you get the idea.

To receive announcements about new releases, book signings, sneak peeks at free chapters and deleted scenes, giveaways, and other festivities, sign up for my newsletter at

OTHERS – WattPad -

Monday, June 27, 2016

How To Get the Most Out of a Writer's Workshop by Betsy Ashton

Once again, I'm back from a stimulating week at Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop, where my brain and my writing were squished through a wringer. Here are the lessons I learned. Hopefully, these will help the next writer enjoy a week-long retreat somewhere. And thanks to Pinckney Benedict for a fantastic week and for the idea to use lists in our writing. This one's for you, Pinckney.

1. No matter how many times you reworked your manuscript before you submitted it, the teacher and fellow workshop participants will read it as a first draft. They will call it a first draft.

2. Accept that fact and don't argue. Realize that they want to help you become a better writer.

3. Read every manuscript as soon as you receive it. Usually, manuscripts arrive in email a week or two before the actual workshop begins. Don't make any marks on the manuscript at this time. Just read it.

4. Reread every manuscript just before you arrive. Now is the time to mark the heck out of it.

5. Highlight grammos and typos. There will be plenty, but you don't want to waste instructor time talking about them. Ditto, mark word usage. I circle repeated words on a page and draw lines between them.

6. Mark anything that doesn't make sense. Now you're reading like a writer. Look for head hopping, omissions, too much description that doesn't advance the story, etc.

7. Mark everything that is really good. The writer needs to know what you liked. Tell the writer you want to read more than what was submitted, but only if you really liked the voice.

8. Before the first session begins, check your egos at the door. Remember, writers are people first. If you begin your critique with positive statements (I like what George wrote when he eviscerated the dragon with a toothpick), anything else you say will find receptive ears. (Even if you can't imagine a toothpick sharp enough to gut a dragon.)

9. Continue to check your egos at the door every morning. The longer the workshop goes, the deeper the critiques become.

10. When you are being critiqued, keep your mouth shut. Try and keep all expression off your face and refrain from gesturing, grunting, nodding, etc.

11. Be kind when you are critiquing, but be honest.

12. Accept the fact that all members of the workshop have come to learn, not to grandstand. You are all students together. The instructor wants you to take away suggestions to improve your work. Your fellow classmates do the same.

13. Bond with the members over meals. There is no better way to get to know people than over meals. Sit with your classmates at least once a day. Sit with people in other workshops at different times.

14. Never come to class unprepared. You disrespect your fellow writers when you are not as ready to discuss their work as they are when they discuss yours.

15. Turn off your smart phones and smart watches. Nothing annoys people more than someone constantly checking a phone or watch. It tells the other writers that they are not as important or interesting than something on your wrist. You're not millennials, for God's sake.

16. Have fun.


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and NobleI'm really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Deadlines, schmedlines!

As I noted previously, I set a self-imposed deadline to finish my manuscript by July 1. I am this close to getting it done.


That close.

It's a tricky book to write. I write in 3 POVs, and alternate chapters. Person A is chapter 1, person B is chapter 2, etc. The storyline continues in each chapter, so the story progresses, but it's seen from another POV.

I tried to write consecutively (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3), but I was not able to keep the personality of the chapters correct. Person A started sounding like Person B, etc.

So I abandoned that and I wrote all of Person A's chapters (Chapter 1, 4, 7, etc.) That meant I had to figure out where the story would be by the time we got to chapter 7, so I blocked out major events for chapters 2, 3, 5, 6, to fill in later.

Now I'm on Person C's chapters and I need to tie up all those threads that I left dangling. I have 6 chapters to go, and about 6 days to do it.

Nope, it won't happen. I'm going to give myself a break. After all, I lost March: I had the Event, I had food poisoning, I had 2 unplanned trips -- all of that consumed 2/3 of the month. Plus a week on the Relative Tour (furniture delivery to Colorado).

So I've stretched my deadline to July 4. I think it's doable.

After that? Well, I have this idea for another Classic mystery story. And Dogged, my  first Classics mystery with Wild Rose, will be coming out soon. And of course I need to re-read the first 6 books in my Endless Dream series and tie up any plot inconsistencies, so I can start writing Book 7.

Yep. July 4. I need to wrap this baby up. I've got books to write!


Friday, June 24, 2016


Do you listen to audio books? I've never tried one. I think they're a marvelous idea, and had they been popular when I had a job that required me to be in my car three to five hours a day, I'm sure I'd have taken advantage.

I saw some stats last week from The Association of American Publishers comparing 2014 to 2015. EBook sales dropped 10%. Print book sales increased 16%. And audio books surged 40%. I want to be part of that!

I emailed the marketing department of my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and asked if they're pursuing audio versions...they do if you ask. So I asked. We've submitted the first book in my Love and Murder Series, The Art of Love and Murder. If chosen, we audition readers. I had a taker the first day. I was excited and downloaded a program so I could listen. Then I was
disappointed. Marketing kind of liked the guy, thought he sounded very suspenseful. He did have a nice voice and, yes, suspenseful. BUT his cadence never changed, and so slow I fear the listener would go to sleep at the wheel. I also couldn't tell when he went from narration to dialogue...and I wrote it! As much as I want an audio book, I had to pass on him. Sure hope I get some more takers.

So, what is your experience listening to audio? What makes an audio book good for you? I need some direction so when I get the next audition, I can judge it rightly.

Visit Brenda at
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

When In Doubt – Dialogue by Margo Hoornstra

My initial training as a writer, and livelihood for many years was in non-fiction. It was my job to compose and edit magazine articles, ghost write speeches and create scripts. Who, What, Where, When, Why and How are the essentials of writing. Along with the equally essential Know Your Audience and Write What You Know. That was how I was taught.


In a news item, you tell someone what happened, plain and simple. He, or she (who), did this (what), here (where), at this time (when), because of this (why), in this way (how).

Easy-Peasy, don’t you think? Could do it in my sleep and so could you.

Now transfer these stringent cut and dried non-fiction principles directly into fiction writing. No longer Easy-Peasy. Trust me. While it’s necessary to tell a piece of news, it’s essential to show a work of fiction. The fiction reader needs to ‘see’ the characters and ‘watch’ what they do. In addition, the characters themselves must have been provided with definite reasons to do what it is they do.

Lengthy expositions of information will not keep readers interested. I know this because going over some of the long, drawn out information dumps in my own early attempts at fiction soon had my eyes glazing over and my fingers itching to rapidly turn the page. Not to necessarily find out what happened next, more to find out when something actually would happen, period.

Need further proof? It never failed, even the dog would fall asleep soon after I started to read a story of mine out loud.

So what’s the best way to accomplish all of this necessary, no vital, showing to keep readers happily, and swiftly, turning pages? As I’ve finally learned, dialogue sprinkled with action engages the reader and keeps them reading. Not knock down drag out shoot ‘em up action either. Unless, of course that fits the tone of the story. More subtle happenings within the dialogue will suffice. A mannerism or inflection in tone. Movement from one place to another.


A case in point is a scene from my soon to be finished work in progress, Bound by Duty. The first draft of one section was a long, drawn out yawner that needed major revision.

Vince rolled up his sleeves, blew out a sharp breath, and sat forward at his desk. Like it or not, this was going to be one hell of a long night. Same as usual when the details of an unsolved case stuck in his craw. The accident reconstruction geeks took their own sweet time to file a report. He couldn’t begin to count the number of times he’d reached for the phone to call them then pulled back.

Why frustrate myself more than I already am?

No sense calling to speed them up. They’d probably relegate his case to the bottom on the stack just for spite.

Don’t focus on what you don’t know, concentrate on what you do.

He opened the file folder that contained a variety of photos from the crash site. One car in the ditch of a rarely traveled country road is burned beyond recognition. Body inside suffered a similar fate. So what did he have? What did that leave him with? Their victim driving around an area he may or may not be familiar with, got lost or disoriented and crashed his car into the ditch after which it immediately burst into flames.

Chin down, he massaged tense fingers across his forehead. None of which made any damned sense. Don’t focus on what you don’t know, concentrate on what you do.

Out of the way crash site, ignited vehicle, body inside. The three pieces of evidence, the only three pieces of evidence, kept running through his mind like some kind of macabre carousel. Crash site, vehicle, body. Pretty much summed it up, but something just simply did not add up. What the hell am I missing?

He slammed the file folder closed and gave it a sideways shove to skitter across his desk with a flap and a flutter. Until it finally came to a stop beside a pile of many more just like it.

The next attempt, I think, is a whole lot easier to get into. Or not. Only a reader can decide.

Vince rolled up his sleeves, blew out a sharp breath, and sat forward at his desk. Forearms rested on its top, he balled both hands into fists. Like it or not, this was shaping up to be one hell of a long night. Same as usual when the details of an unsolved case stuck in his craw.

Don’t focus on what you don’t know, concentrate on what you do.

Fingers un-flexed, he opened the file folder that contained a variety of photos from the crash site he laid out in front of him.

“Hey, Detective. I didn’t know anyone from the day shift was still here.”

“Just me, I guess.” Vince glanced up at the uniformed officer who stood in the doorway.

In addition to the Sergeant in charge, one of two rookies working the dispatch night shift. He’d met the kid before but didn’t recall his name.

“What are you working on?”

Vince tapped the pictures. “Going over evidence on a case that has me bugged. A crash and burn out on rural 99.”

“What happened?” Coming forward, he craned his neck for a better view of the upside down photos. “Looks bad.”

A name plate on his shirt read Arnold M. Matthews! That was the kid’s name. Matthews. He’d solved that case easily enough. Now to tackle this other.

“One car sort of in the ditch of a rarely traveled country road bursts into flames.”

“What do the accident reconstruction people say?” Setting down the coffee cup he’d come in with, he picked up a side-view snapshot of the burned out vehicle. Body removed.

“Nothing yet. Those geeks always take their own sweet time to file a report.” He couldn’t begin to count the number of times that day had he made a move to pick up his phone then pulled back. Why frustrate myself more than I already am? “No sense calling to speed them up. They’d probably relegate his case to the bottom on the stack just to spite me.”

“Must have been quite the explosion on impact.”

Vince continued to study the shots. “That’s just it. There’s no evidence of any impact. No obstacle on the scene the vehicle might have come in contact with.”

“Can it happen like that?”

“Appears it did.”


Although Vince had never heard that exact term used in the course of an active investigation he glanced up to nod ready agreement. “You got that right.”

“Best of luck getting it solved.” The kid retrieved his cup then backed out of the doorway and disappeared down the hallway.

“Yeah. Thanks.” I’m going to need it.

Chin down he massaged tense fingers across his forehead. So what did he have so far? Someone driving around the area got lost or disoriented and ran his car off the road that immediately burst into flames.

None of which made any damned sense. Don’t focus on what you don’t know, concentrate on what you do.

“Which is not a whole hell of a lot.”

He slammed the file folder closed and gave it a sideways shove to skitter across his desk with a flap and flutter. It finally came to a stop beside a pile of many more just like it.

So what do you think? Can you relate?

That’s all I have. No promo and buy link for a new release because, as I mentioned this is a work in progress. One of four books in a series that, along with one of its partners, Deceived by Trust, will soon make the rounds of the publishing world to find a home.

Oh, okay, here’s a short, short tease.

Brothers in Blue – the dropout, the straight arrow, the movie star and the maverick – the vow they made to serve and protect begins with their own.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Up, up and away I went! by Leah St. James

Last month I wrote about my extreme anxiety over an upcoming trip which required me to travel by air travel. (I suffer from serious motion sickness, especially of the up-and-down kind of motion.) The condition has grounded me for many years, it was only my best friend’s daughter’s wedding halfway across the country that coaxed me into purchasing that airline ticket. 

I’m back to report that the trip went without problems, and to share with you a few lessons learned.

1. Confront your fears but  with a plan.

My “fear of flying” wasn’t irrational, it was based on experience. I have vertigo and have lived with its effects for years. So I avoid situations that bring these symptoms to the surface. (Sometimes I just walk into walls...but that’s another story.)

This trip, though, couldn’t be avoided without a lot of heartache and unnecessary expense, in time and money.  I HAD TO get on that plane. So I did what every good author does:  I researched.  

I Googled “best way to combat motion sickness in planes” and phrases like that. I read forums and medical websites. I got advice from people who also suffer from motion sickness but who manage to travel despite it. I decided to try the Scopolamine Transdermal patch and headed for my doctor’s office for a prescription. I ended up with prescriptions for that AND another anti-vertigo medication that could be taken with the patch. 

As far as navigating air travel in the 21st century, my sister (a frequent traveler) armed me with step-by-step instructions on what to expect through the security checks, to boarding and making that connecting flight in Atlanta (a humongous terminal, it turns out). 

All that was left was for me to get to the airport and onto the first leg of the trip. Which is when I learned my second lesson: 

2. If you don’t know what to do in a situation others call "nomal," watch their behavior.

My sister had told me what to expect at the TSA check-point, but I’d never actually seen any of it except on TV, so I held back for a bit and watched a couple people navigate through. It looked pretty easy. The staff/guards were smiling (always a good sign, I think), and travelers appeared unscathed as they headed off toward their gates on the other side. I ventured forth and mimicked what I had seen, and except for a scan of my poor laptop which for some reason froze the machine’s internal clock (hmm...a suspense plot is brewing in my head), I had no issues.

After about a two-hour wait, we got the boarding call, and I learned my next lesson.

3. Don’t be afraid to admit your vulnerabilities, when it makes sense.  You never know when you’ll meet a guardian angel.

We know there are times when we have to appear strong even when we’re quaking inside. Mothers do it for their children all the time. So do friends and siblings. But standing in that jet way with the throng of others waiting to squish themselves into the “flying tin can,” I couldn’t help myself. I blurted out, “I haven’t flown in 40 years.”

Dead silence met my statement for a heartbeat, then the young man in front of me said, “Oh...great!” There was more than a touch of sarcasm in his tone.

I responded, “Oh, don’t worry, I’ve been properly dosed with prescription pharmaceuticals.” (See, there I was talking bravely while inside I had no idea if the drugs would work!)

He laughed and said, “I’ve been properly dosed with some liquid comfort as well!”

We scootched forward, a few steps at a time, and the man behind me, 60-ish and carrying a plastic grocery store bag in his hand (no luggage), started giving me pointers about how to manage with my carry-on. It helped. And was I surprised when he turned out to be my seat-mate.

After fumbling with the blasted seatbelt for about a minute, and by now having a small acquaintance with him, I asked him, “How do you fasten this thing?” 

He looked. “You have it backwards. The tab goes into that end.” 

D’oh. I’d been trying to stick it in the backside....but let’s not go there, okay?

 As the plane began its taxi, my new friend engaged me in small talk. He was traveling to somewhere about an hour north of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a quick trip home to visit his grandkids. (The plastic bag held toys for them.) He told me about his job in our area, I told him about mine. As the plane lifted off, he kept talking, sharing with me his political stance on various topics. A few minutes after leveling off, he just stopped talking and closed his eyes.

Well, I thought, I guess he’s bored with me! Then I realized he’d probably been chattering away to keep my mind occupied so I would freak out. 

I occupied myself for the next hour watching the clouds from above--a glorious sight I had not expected.

When we deplaned he stuck by me to make sure I’d get my bag back (which they’d whisked away earlier...not enough room in the overheads). Once he saw I had it safely in hand, he wished me a good trip and strode off, presumably toward Tulsa and points north. I hope he made it there safely. I hope he had a wonderful visit with his family.

I’ll never know his name, but I’ll always remember his kindnesses to a skittish fellow traveler.

As for the wedding, it was a beautiful, fairy-tale event. I got to join in on the pre-wedding fun and had a wonderful visit with my best buddy. 

So what’s my bottom line? I successfully conquered my fear of flying—with the help of family, friends, pharmaceuticals and unexpected guardian angels. I’m already planning where I might fly off to next.


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. Learn more at