Friday, September 30, 2016

Adventures & Birthdays by Diane Burton

Last Friday, Margo Hoornstra posted about the adventure she and I were about to embark on. An all-day event in Alpena, Michigan. I’ve lived in Michigan most of my life, yet I’ve never been to Alpena, a port city on Lake Huron near the top of the mitten. On Monday, I wrote about the Alpena Book Festival on my blog. We both had a great time and can’t wait to go back next year.

Margo was the best traveling companion. She kept me alert on the five-hour drive each way without being a Chatty Kathy. LOL We talked about family, our books, marketing, our concerns about this unknown to us event (going up) and how much fun we had (going home). I’ve shared a room with her before—at our RWA chapter’s retreat—so I knew how respectful she is of a roommate. Great quality in a traveling companion. And she’s a terrific navigator—even if the GPS wanted to send us off on a circuitous route. The only bad part was I had another hour plus drive home after dropping her off.

As September fades away, my birthday looms around the corner. While I try to ignore another year’s passing, I remind myself to be grateful I’m still around to celebrate birthdays. Health issues can plague us, but at least our medical professionals don’t dismiss our concerns by claiming “aging” as if they don’t matter. I’ve mentioned before my worry about dementia since my mother had Alzheimer’s. I’d rather lose all physical abilities than lose my mind like she did. Fortunately, my doctor said I didn’t need to worry because my writing is keeping my mind active. From a guy who’s younger than my children, that was a welcome piece of information. And a good excuse to spend more time writing.

 I spent the month of September promoting my new release. So many wonderful people welcomed me to their blogs where I shared tidbits of info, the characters, the background of Mission to New Earth, which started right here at The Roses of Prose. If you were around three years ago, you might remember “Christmas in Space” the short story about astronauts preparing to depart on a one-way trip to a new planet. I had a great time expanding that story into a novella, even if it did take me three years to complete. While doing so, I kept getting ideas of what could happen next. Another series maybe? I don’t think I’ll ever run out of stories to tell.

The giveaway accompanying Mission to New Earth ends tonight. If you haven’t already entered, there’s still time. Just go to

Meantime, enjoy Autumn. Trees are just starting to turn here along the west coast of Michigan. Days are shorter but warm. Nights are cool. Love sleeping with the windows open.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Forgive Me While I Virtually Toss Up My Hands by Mackenzie Crowne

When the lovely Roses of Prose approached me several months ago and asked if I’d be interested in contributing to their daily columns full of wit and wisdom, I hesitated. Wisely so. I know myself, you see, and freely admit I’m one of those organizationally challenged people who tend to bite off more than they can chew, only to be horrified later when all those balls they’re attempting to juggle start binging off their head as they crash to the ground.

Another reason for my reluctance was the ladies of prose themselves. You’ve read them. They’re freaking brilliant. Most months, as I sit down and contemplate ideas for my contribution to the insightful and entertaining posts you normally read here, I end up feeling like Carol Burnett at a beauty contest.

(Some of you may be too young to get the reference to Carol. Just know, she’s gorgeous, in a hilarious way)

Well, this month is one of those balls crashing to the floor months, reminding me I was correct to hesitate. My lack of organization has slammed smack dab into the deadline wall I’ve been attempting to scale for the past several weeks. With TO WIN HER SMILE, the last book of my PLAYERS series due to my publisher today, I still have several more chapters to write. Consequently, I haven't come up with a single insightful thing to say here today. Seriously, I’ve got nothing and don't want to be me today.

At the moment, every single bit of my concentration and imagination is tied up with Wyatt Hunter, a sexy, superstar quarterback who isn't quite sure what to do with Piper Darrow, a broke, modern day English Baroness with a camera and an attitude.

Wyatt and Piper's story won’t be available until late next year, but Wyatt has a couple of friends named Jake, Tuck, and Max whose stories are all on sale at the moment. How’s that for a shameless plug?

I’ll be back next month with something amazing and life-altering, maybe, but for now, check out my Players and have a fabulous weekend!

When Mac isn’t bashing her head against a wall and ignoring everything else in her life because of a deadline, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like those in her Players series from KensingtonBooks

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When Vultures Circle by Betsy Ashton

Vultures circling overhead cause chills to race along most people's spines. Omens of evil, maybe, or just one of nature's garbage disposals, not many people like watching them rise on thermals. On Saturday at a book fair in Danville, VA, the largest flock of vultures I'd ever seen in an urban environment flapped lazily overhead.

I'd written about vultures before. In a shameless moment of self-promotion, I'd like to share the opening section of UNCHARTED TERRITORY, the second Mad Max story:

In pre-dawn darkness, I eased the RV door open and tiptoed down four steps to bare earth. Coffee cup in hand, I turned three hundred and sixty degrees. A strong northern front had blown through overnight, sweeping the humidity out to sea and leaving a crystalline sky behind.
The underlying stench of death and decay, however, remained.
Johnny, Emilie and I settled into our new home the day before. While we waited for the rest of the family to arrive, I watched large birds ride thermals in lazy circles over a distant bayou west of our compound. I didn’t know what kind they were, but they were always in the same place. Black and large, they added to the ominous emptiness. I hadn’t had time to drive across the gray wasteland to find out what was going on.
The slamming of a trailer door and boot steps on packed earth announced Johnny’s arrival from the other side of my RV. He walked up, smiled and stared at the rising column of birds. Clad in jeans, boots and a clean T-shirt, he was ready for work.
“Good morning, funny man.” I tilted my face for a kiss.
“Back atcha, pretty lady.” He kissed my cheek.
“Do you see those birds?” I pointed.” More of them today than yesterday.”
“Yes. Something’s dying over there.”
“Yes.” Johnny tugged my left earlobe.
“Not dead?”
“Buzzards circle until an animal dies. Then they land.”
“Whatever it is sure has attracted a crowd.” I hugged Johnny but kept staring at the birds. Day one, and I was already spooked by the alien landscape.
More flocks formed near the unseen bayou. Birds landed, rose and circled.
“That’s not all that’s attracting crowds.”
What did he mean by that cryptic remark?
Johnny clapped a ball cap on his head and walked to the cook tent for breakfast before leaving for the job site. His boots kicked up tiny puffs of dust in his wake.
Before I came down to Mississippi, I hadn’t expected such unbroken flatness, such a lack of color. Nothing taller than a car or trailer or pile of rubble. No flowers. In fact, nothing green except a few battered live oak trees. Had Charles Dickens written about spoiled lands instead of broken people, this landscape would have made a perfect model.
When I reflected back over the past few months, I could never have foreseen the changes I would make in my life. I never figured I’d be taking my grandchildren into a war zone.

At least it seemed like one to me.

I hoped I captured the mood of the place where Max finds herself setting up a new place to live with her family. Whatcha think?  

Monday, September 26, 2016

Here we go again ... maybe

When you read this, my town (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and my hometown (Vinton, Iowa) will be partly under water. Heavy rains north of town means the river flowing through both will flood. It's just a question of how much.

In 2008, it was epic. Our flooding rivaled Katrina for devastation and damage. No, you didn't read much about it because flooding in small and medium-sized towns doesn't make the news. It was as bad, though, relatively speaking. It's taken years to come back from it. The Performing Arts Center in Iowa City just reopened 2 weeks ago after being in temporary quarters for 8 years. The libraries and theaters and museums just reopened 3 and 4 years ago.

Now it's happening again. But we've learned a lot and the damage won't be as bad this time. Flood measures are in place at the buildings, parking lots are on the ground floor now and offices are higher up, and we know now which roads will flood and which won't (which we didn't know in 2008). The entire community has volunteered space, money, sweat labor, and support. That's kind of what we do. We dig in and get it done. It's great if the Feds help us, but we've learned not to count on them. Don't get me started on that.

This isn't a question of people living near flood zones (I mean, New Orleans: I'm sorry. You're below sea level. Yes, you will flood. Often.) Some areas that are flooding here are, for the most part, far away from the river. We lost a lot of homes and business in 2008 and they didn't rebuild in the flood plain. We put in green spaces and parks. Yes, some businesses will flood, but it won't be as bad as it has been in the past. Hopefully.

So keep your eyes on that news story buried somewhere in your newspaper or that 30-second sound bite on the national news. That's us, in the heartland. We'll come through it, but it would be nice if you folks out there would send us some positive thoughts and prayers. We'll probably need 'em.

J L Wilson

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Please join me in welcoming back a returning guest, Vijaya Schartz. Always a nice addition to The Roses of Prose.

It's always bittersweet to write the last book in a long, beloved series. I've been working on the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series for twenty years, off and on, including years of intensive research.

The myth of the ondine (siren, mermaid, silken etc.) is widespread in Europe. Melusine the Fae is an immortal, related to Morgane the Fae. Because she abused her supernatural gifts in childhood, she was cursed to become an ondine (water serpent from the waist down) on specific days. If the religious authorities learn what she is, they will hunt her down as an evil monster, and burn her at the stake.

In mythology, she represents the independent, knowledgeable and wise woman, the crone, the witch, the healer. She represents a threat to medieval society, who wants women to remain ignorant, modest, docile, and obedient. The religious order of the time also wants to suppress the influence of women, going as far as denying them a soul. Ignoring the taboos of her time, Melusine fights her oppressors and accomplishes much, despite their opposition and intrigues. She fights for justice, protects women, marries for love, empowers her men, builds mighty castles, forges alliances, and gives birth to powerful rulers.

Book 8 - ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN, scheduled for January 2017, will be the last in the Curse of the Lost Isle series, bringing Melusine's curse to its conclusion. Along the course of this series, Melusine first appears as a child in Book 2 - PAGAN QUEEN. She is then the main character in Book 3 - SEDUCING SIGEFROI, Book 4 - LADY OF LUXEMBOURG, and Book 5 - CHATELAINE OF FOREZ. Books 1 and 2 tell the story of her mother, Books 6 and 7 the story of her sisters. Find this series on  Amazon - Barnes & Noble

Previously, from her Luxembourg family, after marrying Count Sigefroi, Melusine gave birth to a line of powerful rulers who reigned in Germany, Flanders and Austria. Later in Forez, with Count Artaud, her initial success was soon crushed by mounting religious conflicts.

In the historical chronology, Book 8 - ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN actually takes place before Beloved Crusader and Damsel of the Hawk (already published standalones, portraying the other two sisters, and set during the Crusades). This last novel, however depicts the most well known legend of Melusine, the popular myth scholars have been studying for centuries... particularly in Europe.

This last book in the series is set in Lusignan, a town in Aquitaine, created by Melusine, according to legend. Lusignan is also the name of the powerful family she founded there, where she falls in love with Count Raymond, and gives birth to a mighty noble line.

Her descendants Guy and Hugh of Lusignan later became kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus during the Crusades. Another descendant of hers is the famous and infamous Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen, in France and in England. King Richard the Lionheart mentions more than once the stain upon his family, his dark ancestress through the centuries, the cursed one. That was Melusine the Fae, whose blood also flowed in Eleanor of Aquitaine.

But as a writer, I wanted to find the truth beyond the myths and the legends. I wanted to discover the heart of these characters. A series of facts does not a story make. Their indomitable passion is what drove them to extraordinary feats and brought their names all the way into this century. Unfortunately, at the time they were judged harshly. Remember that history is always written by the victors, and Paganism was crushed by Christendom. So it made sense that the Pagans of the time would be reviled in the official records, and presented in a negative light, even accused of horrible deeds.

In my intensive research for this series, I peeled off the layers of superstition to find the truth of these fascinating characters, and bring them to life into the light, with all their hopes and struggles.

I hope you will enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it. 


Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks -

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Down to the Wire #NewRelease by Brenda Whiteside

Penny Sparks has secrets that can ruin a presidential contender, got her family murdered…and mark her as the next hit. 

My latest book is set in Flagstaff, Arizona in December. The Power of Love and Murder is book four in the series. When I wrote it I didn’t consider making it a holiday release. Once I sent it off to my publisher, the idea came to me. The first response I got was a negative. I’d submitted the manuscript in June and April is the usual deadline for holiday submissions. Yep. Way out there. But I have this fantastic editor and with her prodding, we’re trying to get it done. 

By the time a book is released, an author has read her creation at least four times. Yesterday, I completed read number three. It was a marathon read in eight hours. Even though I’ve written and read it, I had to read it relatively slowly searching for any mistakes that have been missed. It’s not exactly enjoyable reading. 

I also had to choose an excerpt. This is the most hated part of the process for me. I have to scan the manuscript and choose a section that does not give away anything that would spoil the ending, but has to be enough to entice the reader. 

Wish me luck I get the editing wrapped up so I can make the release happen before Christmas for The Power of Love and Murder. See what you think of the excerpt I chose. Is it at all enticing or do I throw it back and go for another? 


Jake sank onto the bed, his mind reeling with her assumptions. “So, you think the senator—hired—an FBI agent to make the accounting woman disappear and to kill your family?”

“Yeah, I do.” Penny rose and paced in front of him. “And how do I know he’s involved? Westingly wasn’t a senator back then. But he must’ve had aspirations. He sold off the nuclear waste division and bowed out of the company to go into politics. And you know what else?” She stopped, her eyes wide, fists at her sides.

He swallowed deeply. “What?”

“Those two other people, Burke and Severing? The two that Angie thought were doing the embezzling? They both died within a couple of years of when Westingly resigned from the company and went into politics.”


“Burke drowned while out on his yacht, and Severing died when a car hit her while biking after dark. Hit and run. Accidents. Hmph. That means anyone who knew what Westingly did is gone.” Her chest expanded with a deep breath. “Except for me.” 


For thirteen years, Penny Sparks has managed to hide from the political powers who murdered her family. When she unwittingly exposes her true identity, not only is she marked for death, but the people closest to her risk meeting the same fate. 

Jake Winters is out of rehab and coming to grips with his demons. A woman named Penny comes on the scene, and Jake believes he has someone who can help him find life after rock star status…until her secrets blow up his world. 

With a government agent turned hitman closing in on her, Penny and Jake race to expose the presidential contender behind the murders of her family. Even if they win the race with death, the murder that stands between them could end their hope for a new life.

Visit Brenda at
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at
She blogs about life’s latest adventure on her personal blog
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Friday, September 23, 2016

And We're Off On A Literary Adventure by Margo Hoornstra

As you read this, fellow Rose Diane Burton and I will be taking our act on the road. Literally. The road due north from our homes near the center of Michigan to the resort town of Alpena on the shores of beautiful Lake Huron.

Saturday, September 24th we’ll be part of the 2nd Annual Alpena Book Festival. Panel discussions we’ll participate in include When You’re A Michigan Author, Steps to Publication, Keeping the Spark Alive, It’s Out of This World and Crossing Genres. Between workshops during the day, we’ll also sign our books. (Crossed fingers and positive thoughts appreciated and accepted!)

Diane gets full credit for my introduction to the Festival she discovered in her on-line travels and initiated our attendance. Wish us luck.

In future posts, we’ll let you know how we fared and, more importantly, how and when we plan to do this again!
My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and my stories, please visit my WEBSITE



Thursday, September 22, 2016

It’s Time To Celebrate...Anything ~ by Leah St. James

It’s the middle of September, and the Halloween decorations and costumes have been out in my town since the first week of August...a full MONTH before the kids went back school! When I was a kid, we wouldn’t even think about Halloween until October, or maybe mid-September. But in today’s world of super-rushed shopping seasons, it was apparently right on schedule.

Of course, being the media-savvy author that I am,  I took a shot with my phone and posted it to Twitter. My caption was something like “REALLY, Halloween??? The kids aren’t even in school yet!!”  

If I was expecting a flood of empathetic rage, I was deeply disappointed. No outrage by fellow Tweeters. Not a peep!

Then I realized why. The world is okay with this.

In fact, only a week later, someone else posted a photo that somewhere, in some store in America, the Christmas decorations were up...half a month BEFORE LABOR DAY. (Geez...even when I’m ahead of myself I’m behind the trends!)

Again no outrage.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided it must be that we’re all so depressed about the craziness of the world, we grasp at any and every reason to celebrate...anything. My problem with rushing the holidays is that (for me) it takes away the special-ness of the day. (Not to mention, some of us need all the time we can get to mentally prepare for these big events. Let us...or me... be blissfully ignorant for a few weeks, would you?)

Besides, there are alternatives. No need to start decorating for Halloween in August. Every day, some organization or company or group is celebrating some event/group/food/idea that is deserving of your attention.

Take today, for example, September 22nd. According to website, there are no less than a dozen causes to celebrate today.

For one, it’s the Fall (or Autumnal) Equinox. Yippee!!! In North America, as we officially see less and less sun each day for the next several months, the temperatures will drop. For some, it will bring moderate temperatures, relief from a scorching-hot summer. For those in the north and higher elevations, it means it won’t be long before we see snow and ice and....ugh. Enough about that.

Happily (again according to that website), it’s also:
  • Business Women’s Day
  • International Day of Radiant Peace
    (which I believe is quite serious, so I won’t say anything snarky)
  • National Centenarian’s Day
  • National Elephant Appreciation Day
  • National Hobbit Day
    (birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins)
  • National Ice Cream Cone Day
    (not to be confused with National Ice Cream --in a dish--Day)
  • National White Chocolate Day
    (not to be confused with National Dark or Milk Chocolate Day)
  • Proposal Day
  • World Rhino Day, and....
  • World Carfree Day!
    (When I first saw this, I thought it was CARE-Free day. But it’s CAR-free...a day to celebrate getting from here to there without an automobile. ... Who’d have thought?)

There is also a day devoted to journaling, but apparently the exact holiday is copyrighted (really?) and I need the organization’s permission to even mention it. (I wish I had time to write and ask for their permission, but I don’t, so I’ll leave the actual name and its intended celebrations to your imagination. I’m would have been a good one for us writers to focus on.)

Oh, and if you’re looking for month-long celebrations, September is National Organic Harvest Month and National Piano Month.

So...if you’re already tempted to whip out your plastic pumpkins or (please, nooooooo) your Christmas tree, consider instead baking an elephant-shaped birthday cake for Bilbo and Frodo. Make sure you use organically grown and harvested ingredients which you’ll purchase by riding your bicycle (or maybe a bus...or even taking a stroll) to and from the local woman-owned grocery store.  And don’t forget the ice cream and cones while you’re there. 

During the birthday party, ask your favorite Centenarian to take a seat behind the piano to offer musical birthday wishes. (Everybody who’s a hundred years old knows how to play piano...right?) Maybe he or she can shift into some favorite Hippie peace tunes from the ‘60s. (Hey...I was around back then. I can poke fun!)

When the party’s over, even though we didn't hit every single holiday on the day's list, I think you’ll be holiday-ed least until September 23, which is:
  • Great American Pot Pie Day and...

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

Please visit her at her website or Facebook (where she loves posting photos and videos of her son's kitten, Hercules). On Wednesdays you'll find her on Twitter  sharing lines from her current Work in Progress for #1LineWed. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Breast Lump Biopsy by Barbara Edwards

My biopsy is scheduled and I’m nervous. Last time I was totally scared, but I know what to  expect today.
The hospital called and reminded me what to do.
Be thirty minutes early. Okay. I’ll probably be earlier than that. 
No deodorant, powder, lotion or perfume. Okay. Although I did take a shower and scrubbed.
Nothing except my medicine for  three days. No vitamins or supplements or blood thinners. Especiailly the Warfirin that I use to help prevent strokes and heart attacks. 
And wear a sports bra for extra support after the biopsy.

I am familiar with the check-in process. I’ve been here several times with my husband, not so many time for myself. Go directly to registration  and bypass the sign-in desk. Security has tightened at the entrance and all visitors need a pass to enter the hospital.I now have a wrist band and my husband a badge.
The mammogram department is on the second floor. 
There is a small waiting room and I noticed the women don’t look at each other or talk. I thinks the nerves are showing in a withdrawal from contact.
The staff is friendly. A technician escorts me to the changing room and hands me a garment. I think everyone is familiar with the robe that doesn’t cover everything. I wait again then walk to the biopsy are.
The table looks strange. it has an opening in the surface so my breast can lowered to let the doctor examine it. She’ uses lidocaine to numb the surface after they find the lump area with a sonogram. 
Music is playing and I’m relaxed. 
It doesn’t take long. I don’t see the needle or any of the equipment.
I don't know if I'll get a chance to finish this after my biopsy. I'm leaving for the hospital in a few minutes.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Rude Review Is Like Saying Her Baby Is Ugly

Authors love reviews. They help get our works noticed, we DO read them, and learn from them. However, please remember authors are only human and our books are our babies.

So you've read/or partially read a book that you didn't like. For some reason this has made you angry and you feel the need to lash what do you do now?

I hope you stop and think for a moment before you fire off a rude review. Take the time to list your objections...objectively.

Not long ago I received an e-mail from a fellow author. She'd received her first negative and RUDE review - on her debut novel. Understandably, this sweet, funny, smart lady was/is upset. She's also so embarrassed she asked me not to name her or the reviewer. 

Of course, I have to honor her request. Her reticence forced me to climb down off my white charger, to lay aside my mightily sharpened pen, and think things through. I began to understand her reasoning. Identities aren't germane to the point necessary to get across here. Secondly, I don't want to give any publicity to a reviewer who seems to relish in being hurtful and cruelly negative.

So all names and places have been changed to protect the innocent (meaning me and my friend). We will be referred to as writers/authors. And the not so innocent (hence to be known as the Rude Reviewer).

This is, I feel, a subject many authors can weigh in on as I bet it's happened to many of us. As writers, we understand the grim reality - not everyone is going to like our stories. A reader might object to our writing style, find our plots unrealistic, or hate our characters. I'm okay with that. My skin isn't paper thin. Sometimes, though, it isn't what is said as much as how it is said. Remember that old adage? 

It reminds me of what I always told my children. They were allowed to say anything they wanted to me but with the precondition it would be done respectfully. An early lesson on how to constructively temper their words. (No, at the time it didn't always work out well but my children have grown into wonderful and caring adults).

The Rude Reviewer, however, could stand to learn that very remedial lesson. Constructive criticism is welcomed, wholeheartedly embraced, by every author I know. It is the most important tool we have in our constant drive to improve our skills. 

The Rude Reviewer, however, doesn't stop at being just brutal with their opinions. They go over the line by using scorched earth tactics. It can never be necessary to negatively question a writer's intelligence or comment on their appearance. 

Though entitled to their opinion on any author's work that is all it - their opinion. They might unhelpfully dismiss the entire work as stupid and without redeeming characteristics yet there had to be something that made them pick up the book in the first place. They were drawn to the cover, blurb, or excerpt. 

Unfortunately, it didn't live up to expectations. Now if only they'd give a concise review while leaving out personal insults. 

I lost interest in this particular Rude Reviewer when she admitted she hadn't finish the novel. Her prerogative, of course, but I have read the book. It was quickly obvious to me that the reviewer hadn't read beyond the first chapter or so. If she had then she might have seen the bulk of her questions/complaints were dealt with.

Since it was obvious she didn't know what she was talking about, it made the majority of her criticisms less constructive and more insulting. A reviewer can't claim a character lacks redeeming characteristics if they haven't read the entire story. They don't know if the character grew. 

All that can be said is the reviewer didn't like how the character/s seemed to be in the few pages actually read. Anything else is dishonest on the reviewer's part. An entire book can't be dismissed as worthless and unreadable when only one brief glance was taken inside. Again it is well within the rights of a reviewer not to finish or even read a book. I've often set a book aside after only reading the blurb or a couple of chapters. For some reason or another (mood or taste in genre) the work simply didn't capture my attention. That is all I can honestly report if  called upon to give my opinion.

Remember this Rude Reviewer stated she hadn't finished the book. How, in such unnecessarily harsh words, did she think she knew enough to call the book's plot into question? She hadn't read far enough to see how the writer wove the story lines together. How could she call the characters one dimensional if she hadn't read far enough in the book to see if they were fleshed out? All this reviewer could have legitimately said is that she didn't care for the first twenty or so pages she read of an almost three-hundred page novel. 

What she did write seemed simply gauged to insult and hurt.

Within the first few sentences the Rude Reviewer's post dissolved into nothing more than a personal attack on an author she'd never met. My friend stated she felt as if not only  the book's parentage had been called into question but she'd called her baby ugly.

That made me laugh but it also got me thinking. Why would anyone tell a parent their baby is ugly? Maybe a winsome personality would change the eye of the beholder if they'd only looked close enough. So what pleasure/satisfaction does the Rude Reviewer get from being a bully? 

I wonder if most Rude Reviewers have ever attempted writing a book? If so they have to know  each page carries pieces of the writer's heart and soul. 

The story is obsessively nurtured from the moment of conception. Once those pages,  so viciously dismissed by the Rude Reviewer, were only a tiny spark in the author's mind. It was the very beginning of creation when cells began to split and reform until the first pulse of the fetal heartbeat was heard. The idea slowly grew into a story line. Only when formed enough, viable enough, did the author cautiously opened a new file, stare at the blank page, and begin to type. 

With that first intro sentence came the acceptance the author was indeed pregnant with book. The fetus grew to term as each scene and plot device was struggled over with a fierce desire to get them just right. Research, verifying facts, and sweating over sentence structure commenced until the bare bones of a story could be seen. Finally the skeleton began to flesh out, stretching into a torso with tiny arms, legs, feet, and hands. 

Characters were equally nurtured. Encouraged to grow while the author struggled to maintain some sort of control over them. The writer sat in front of the computer screen until their eyes blurred and the coffee pot ran empty. Hearts swelling when the story developed into a cohesive beginning, middle, and end. 

An author never forgets when those last words are written. That's when the true labor pains start. The book is born as the story concludes. Then comes home schooling. A brand new phase starts as the story's continuity, verbosity, and every comma is edited. Until all is crafted to the best of the writer's ability. Then it's time to face the excruciating next step. It's time to send their baby off to finishing school. 

It's a leap of faith. Trusting our babies to the scrutiny of unemotional editors, copy editors, and beta readers. By the time a book reaches market it has been read and re-read repeatedly. Each word dissected and weighed. 

Yet the author isn't offended by any negative feedback from these professionals. Even pointed remarks are made with the purpose of education and never to offend. All desire to improve the end result. They want to help our babies grow.

Only then is the diploma offered. Contracts are signed. With pride and joy shining on each freshly printed page, these published babies are sent out into the world.

The author watches with maternal anxiety and pride. Hearts were laid bare in the hope of connecting with a reader. The sincere desire that someone will get a few hours of pleasure from our imaginations. 

And then some Rude Reviewer, who hasn't even had the decency to read the entire work, decides they know enough to dismantle and demolish the entire thing. Their hateful words nothing more than an attempt to annihilate all the effort by smearing the author's abilities, education, and appearance with acid-laden words. 

This is what happened to a very talented woman. She is now second guessing her talent -which she's got heaps of - and has been left feeling her best wasn't good enough.

Let me say once more that I'm all in favor of reviews, and they don't have to be glowing. Though, of course, those are always nice to receive.

Before purchasing a book (and most certainly with my own work), I read the reviews - good and bad. I appreciate and take to heart those filled with useful and well thought out comments. For me, those giving detailed examples are most appreciated. I admire a person who succinctly states their opinion and tells me where they think I could have improved the plot or a character. All without dissolving into a rant about how they can't understand how an author got published in the first place. If they sink to the level of making a snide remark about the author's photo, it taints everything else they've said, and I immediately discount their opinion. 

Since when does an author have to be of a certain age, weight, or level of (what mainstream media considers) attractiveness to write romance or love scenes?

So to those who've received a rude review - it was meant to derail self-esteem so don't let them succeed. Some reader might actually purchase your book just to see what all the negative fuss was about.

Don't take to heart someone else's pathological need to tell the world they think a baby is ugly. Remember, the Rude Reviewer gets some sort of sick pleasure in denigrating others or they wouldn't do it. I doubt they'll ever go away so all we can do is ignore them. Focus on the helpful, the balanced, and constructive reviews. 

But doesn't it make you wish you could see the Rude Reviewer's baby...

REMullins: author of It's A Wonderful Undead Life, Vampire In the Scrying Glass, and A Vampire To Be Reckoned With

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Almost Here ~ New Series Nerves! by Jannine Gallant

Seeing all our book babies roll out is always exciting, but the launch of a new series doubles the anticipation. Will readers like these new characters they'll be seeing for the next four books? Will they welcome the concept of the new series or be disappointed it isn't the same as the last one? Changing up your MO is always a bit of a risk. Readers have expectations, and when authors deviate from those standards, we risk pissing off our reading public. That certainly goes for hopping between genres, but even differentials within the sub-genre can add uncertainty.

The first book in my new BORN TO BE WILDE series releases on September 27th. I can't wait because I loved, loved, loved writing WILDE ONE. My Who's Watching Now series has sold pretty well, and it's fairly typical of its genre. The bad guys are really bad. The threat to the heroine is ongoing and deadly. Readers like and expect that in a romantic suspense. This new series has more adventure added. Yes, there are still bad guys who turn out to be really nasty, but the threat throughout the book isn't the main focus. These characters are caught up in really fun (for the reader) adventures on their way to their HEA. Take WILDE ONE, which features a cross country treasure hunt. Griff and Ainslee have to solve a series of tough riddles leading to the next clue that will eventually lead to a treasure. At the same time, they have to beat the other contestants, one of whom will do whatever it takes to stop them. But, the focus is more on their developing relationship along the journey that the villain's antics.

In other words, this isn't traditional romantic suspense. Will the new series sell well? Boy, I hope so! I'm holding my breath, praying readers will embrace the fun along with the suspense. So far, NetGalley reviews have been positive, but I'm still anxious. So, if you want to try something a little different in romantic suspense, WILDE ONE is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and KOBO. Have it waiting on your reader on September 27th, and then you can tell me if my edgy concept hit one out of the park. Or not.

The Wilde brothers have one thing in common—a thirst for adventure. But Griff Wilde is about to be taken on the ride of his life . . . 
When Griff Wilde receives a letter from a dead man sending him on a race to find a mysterious treasure, he’s not worried about the competition. After all, salvaging sunken treasure is what he was born to do. But the riddles leading to the clues are a little trickier than he anticipated . . .
Ainslee Fontaine is ready for a change. A cross-country scavenger hunt sounds like a piece of cake after teaching in New York City. How hard could it be? For starters, travelling alone seems to have its hidden dangers, like real-life treasure hunters who ignite her deepest passions. But there’s still a hidden prize to find—unless someone stops them by any means necessary . . .

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hyperbole and Purple Prose by Betsy Ashton

Don't you get sick of hyperbole? I mean, everything can't be the biggest, bestest, greatest, -est thing/event/sale/speech ever. And when did all national holidays become the place for the biggest, bestest, greatest mattress sales ever! EVER!

I'm going to stay away from political speech here. We've all heard the promises. If you are like me, you're tone deaf to wild promises, silly answers and character attacks. November can't come soon enough.

This is about hyperbole in prose. Too often we've all met books that needed the help of a professional editor. I recently received an ARC from a writer I didn't know with a request for a cover blurb. Forget the fact that he wrote in a genre I didn't even read. It didn't matter to him. He sent an email with his ARC attached. This was my introduction to this stranger. Because he was within the six degrees of friendship with a writer I respect, I took a look at the draft.

I tried, really tried, to read his ARC.

I could see from the first page that the book had never met an editor in its life. Beyond the incorrect punctuation (commas vomited all over the place) and incorrect word usage (lay instead of lie, him and me used as a subject), the author was in love with CAPITAL LETTERS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! These weren't in dialogue, where I can tolerate (and use) a very few exclamation points. In one paragraph, six sentences ended with exclamation points. Six. Or, SIX! I began to wonder if he knew the difference between a period and an exclamation point.

Want to guess how many pages I lasted? Four.

I'm sorry, dude. You need to hire an editor, learn your craft and revisit your fifth grade grammar books. Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, I politely declined to offer a cover blurb. I suggested his cover real estate would be better suited for a writer in his genre. He asked for introductions to such writers. Sheesh.

And purple prose. I thought gone were the days of a young girl seeing a handsome stranger across a crowded room and "falling into paroxysms of passion." With apologies to all the great romance writers on this blog, this is not a slam at your genre. The book I read for my book club is a NYT best seller. It was not listed as a romance. And in no way would it ever appear on the USA HEA lists. (Congrats to those of you who have landed there.) Short pithy sentences were frequently followed by elaborate descriptions full of strings of adjectives.

I really, really wanted to like this book. I really, really, really tried.

I love unreliable narrators. Heck, I'm polishing a WIP for publication next year where the narrator is both unreliable and unlikable. No one likes serial killers. And this one is a pip. Female. Tells her own story in the first person. May or may not have a moral compass. Knows why she kills. Learned her craft and practices it frequently.

The writer of this best seller "buried the lead" in this novel, to pick up a journalism term. The writer lost the opportunity to set the hook on the first few pages. I didn't know for several chapters who the primary narrator was. Just when I thought I was on top of the story, just when the pithy images grabbed my attention, the writer dipped her quill pen into a pot of purple ink and let adjectives and adverbs take over where character development and plot growth would have been a better choice.

I try to "write tight." I try to write with a reasonably spare prose. I love dialogue and let it carry the plot more often than not. My style isn't for everyone. Those readers who wait for my next book like it. I thank them every day when I sit to write more paragraphs that become pages.

So, writer peeps. What are your thoughts about hyperbole and purple prose? Thumbs up? Thumbs down?


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.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Donna's Little Helper

The mission, should you choose to accept it: study college student behavior and report back to me.

Hi, it's Donna Michaels and that is the mission I gave my daughter’s cat Franco before we left her dorm last month. This is Jes’ junior year in college and she’s going to rush a sorority this fall/spring, depending on the ‘house’ she is interested in. 

So exciting! This works out great for me too, because I’ll be writing a book in an N/A collection with two incredible authors next spring that focuses on three sorority sisters and a mystery at their college. I can hardly wait!

Did I also mention it’ll be first person? New ground for me. I’m excited about the challenge, but need all the help I could get. So, I enlisted Franco’s services to take notes and keep up on the research for me while I make my other deadlines. 

Here are a few shots of him hard at work.
Pretending to chill while secretly recording activity in the common area
I'm not sure what he's looking for...and I'm not sure I want to know
Keeping an eye on the parking lot for any suspicious activity
Lulling them in with cuteness. They must've been on to him
Looking at things from a different perspective
I'm not sure why he's inspecting my daughter's finger. It'll be in the report
This is where he told them to get the camera out of his face, they were going to blow his cover

So, as you can see, I’m pretty sure he has a lot to tell me the next time we meet. Jes will fill me in on the rushing and all the steps involved, but Franco…he’s going to have the juicy stuff about college life in general so I get the vibe right. He’s my inside guy.

An author’s exciting! We get to talk to some amazing people...and cats…to get the facts. Just imagine all the good stuff your pets could report...

Hope you have a great September.

Thanks for reading,