Monday, February 27, 2017

My Daughter Is a MOB by Betsy Ashton

WARNING: Unrepentant proud grandmother post coming up.

You read that right. My daughter is a MOB. She's not in a mob. She's a Mother Of Boys. This woman, who as a child loved tea parties, playing the piano, and dancing, both ballet and jazz, who loved all things "girlie," gave birth to two boys. And what little boys they are.

The older boy Howie is now five and a half. He loves to run, yell in the house, and play with any toys that make noise. He also likes to color in his mother's coloring book. Inside the lines with a really good sense of what colors go together. He loves being a big brother.

The younger boy Cal loves trucks, motorcycles, running in the house, and playing with toys that make noise. Much of his quiet time is when he's asleep. When he's awake, he's always on. When he's focused on something of interest, forget about getting his attention.

Yes, my daughter's house is alive with the noise only boys can make. And she loves it. She's right at home in chaos.

Before you ask, the boys know the difference between indoor and outdoor voices. They can be quiet when they need to. They are young enough to like listening to stories at bedtime. Howie is learning to read in kindergarten. Well, he started kindergarten being able to read a lot of words. Both have solid vocabularies for their ages.

Howie is a runner like his mother and father. Dad is training for a 100K race. (You read that right.) Mom and Dad have run and finished a 50K already. And Howie has already finished his first 1K race. He ran most of the way, only had to walk a little. No one is sure Cal will be a runner, but he does like racing around the house.

This is a family that likes to do things together. Like Halloween, when they all dress up in themes. Star Wars one year; Indiana Jones with ninjas another. No pretty tutus.

I once asked my daughter if she'd thought about a third child. While she'd still love that girl, she said her husband reminded her that he's in the driver's seat when it comes to the sex of the fetus. She'd have another boy.

Can you tell I love them very much? Can you tell I can be an insufferable bore when it comes to the boys? Can you tell I'm glad we live 500 miles away and aren't around the yelling all the time? We get to be the Disney grandparents who drop in periodically and go home when the boys get messy.

I'm done for now. Got the bragging out of the way. Hope you didn't mind.


Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max mystery series, Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory. Her work has appeared in several anthologies including Reflections  on Smith Mountain Lake, Voices from Smith Mountain Lake, and Candles of Hope. Some of her essays and poems have been featured on NPR.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The cure for what ails you

I've been in the middle of a laptop meltdown at my Paycheck Job. It normally wouldn't be a biggie, but I'm 250 miles from tech support, so it resulted in a new laptop overnighted to me, which meant all new setup. And the publishing tools I use don't work on the operating system, so I had to find a workaround, so ...

A day later, and all was restored, but what a PITA it was! Big deadlines and a flakey laptop. 

Then there's a big volunteer event coming up at which I am scheduled to speak. It's an all-day thing, so I needed to carve out some time to prep for that. Doable, but time-consuming.

All of this is preface to saying that when I finally did get a chance to sit down and actually work on my manuscript, it was tough to get back into the storyline. Where did I leave those characters and why were they so upset? I read the previous few chapters, took a deep breath, and ...

I was there, in the room with them, knowing what they wanted to say. It was like opening a door and walking back into a house where I'm not 100% sure what will happen, but I know the people and trust it will be interesting.

Yep. Writing. It's the cure for what ails me!


Friday, February 24, 2017

Real Political Fiction by Brenda Whiteside

With a President who sounds like he's still on the campaign trail...half the nation loving him and half the nation hating him...I thought political fiction was in order. Right now, truth is stranger than fiction and no one knows where that story is going, so maybe some real fiction with a happily ever after ending (after all it is still romance) would be more enjoyable.

Wicked politician, crooked FBI agent, ruggedly handsome rock star, and a pixie of a woman juggling it all. You HAVE to love the premise!

No party named, honest. So dive in and get embroiled in Love and Murder.

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

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. When he meets his sister’s roommate, Jake believes Penny might be that someone who can help him find life after rock star status…until her secrets blow up his world.

With a government agent turned hit man 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.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sharing Some More Good News by Margo Hoornstra

The other day I had another dream come true. One I shared here, briefly, last month. I’ve been asked to be part of an upcoming box set of stories. Romance, of course, with a heat level of 3 out of 5, that centers around LaBonne Chance Casino in Victory, New York located a stone’s throw from Niagara Falls.

The tentative title of the boxed set is: All In For Love, a Lucky 7 Anthology.
For Money Or Love is the title of my contribution.
Release Date:  June 1, 2017
Pre-Order Date:  May 15, 2017
Here’s a teaser to get you interested…
She’s one woman he can’t afford to lose
Mega-millionaire Daniel Winston Montgomery lives to work at his prosperous software company.  Scrimping to survive as a child, money means everything to Dan. He’ll do whatever it takes to preserve his wealth and the security it provides his mother and younger siblings. His brilliant top assistant, Lindsey Carr, is essential to his firm’s continued success. He has no problem sharing the fruits of their combined labors with her. Though, truth be told, he needs Lindsey far more than he she needs him…
Computer brainiac Lindsey Carr wants more out of life than her prestigious, well-paying job. She’s tired of being no more than boring tech support in a well-run software enterprise and craves a little excitement. Convinced Dan and his company will survive—and thrive—just fine without her, she tenders her resignation. After all, Dan has never required more from her than her superior analytical skills. Well, except for that one time she won’t let herself think about…
Unwilling to let Lindsey go, Dan must fight to keep her in his life. In a clash of priorities, will he choose money…or love?
Plus a little taste of what’s in store…
“That’s Daniel Winston Montgomery?”

Lindsey Carr swiveled her head around so fast she could have been in contention for the lead in a remake of The Exorcist. She really needed to quit with an over the top reaction each time she heard his name. “What?”

“On the cover of this magazine.” Good friend Anne Hamilton sat on the other side of Lindsey’s dining room table. She held up the latest issue of Today’s Tech, a monthly bible for software and programming enthusiasts. “Isn’t this handsome creature your boss?”

“Yes.” Her stomach did its customary little back flip as the near life sized head shot stared back at her. Familiar deep brown eyes, well-chiseled and perfectly aligned features. Strong, Romanesque  jaw and soft lips that sent delicious memories through her she was better off to forget. “That’s him.”

Anne considered Dan’s picture again. “Lucky you. Not only is he a mega-millionaire, the man is nothing less than drop dead gorgeous.”

He is much better looking in person.

An air of vague disinterest always served Lindsey well at work. Doubting a similar performance would play so well with one of her closest confidants, she brought it out anyway. “I haven’t had a chance to read the article. What’s he done now?”

A long time elementary school teacher, Anne was used to providing specific information when asked. She set the thick magazine down to flip through its pages. “He was elected, or is it appointed? Anyway, he’s Man of the Year in the techno world.”

The prestigious honor was news to Lindsey. She pretended it wasn’t. “He’s the keynote speaker at their national convention being held here in Victory at our own La Bonne Chance casino in a couple of weeks.”

“That’s what the article says. They brought the conference here in his honor.”

Rita Wright walked in from the bathroom. “I brought that to show Lindsey.”

Anne adjusted her black, oblong shaped glasses and started to read. “The man is a pioneer in server diagnostics and capacity planning.” She glanced up at Lindsey. “Whatever that means.”

“He developed cutting edge software that lets IT staff in a business see all of their processes in one place and measures how well each of their systems are working at one time.”

“I see.”

Lindsey doubted she did, but chose not to go there. “It’s pretty complex.”

Retaking her seat, Rita beckoned for the slick booklet Anne handed over then spread it carefully on the table in front of her. Fingers tipped with perfectly shaped artificial nails polished a bright shiny red smoothed over the glossy pages. “Why read some boring write up when there’s so much eye candy to enjoy?”

Lindsey circled the stem of her wine glass with suddenly unsteady fingers. The white gold liquid swirled and winked as she brought it to her mouth. Did this friend have a direct line to my thoughts?

She’d skimmed the four page spread when Rita first brought it to her attention, looked at the pictures. In addition to the cover, the eye candy referred to consisted of two other decent sized photos. One was a head to wing tips shot of her boss in a well cut business suit, dress shirt and tie standing on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange. The other was of a man in action variety. No tie in sight, navy checkered sport shirt opened at the neck—two buttons down—and sleeves rolled up to his elbows. With jeans rather than dress slacks riding beneath his belt.

The way Lindsey was used to seeing him. How, she knew for a fact, he preferred to dress.

She took a larger than necessary swig of wine. Suppressing a small cough, she lowered her chin and winced. The potent liquid burned a narrow trajectory down her throat to the center of her chest before dribbling in a warm stream to her stomach.

“A man’s man.” Rita glanced up at her two friends then back at Dan.

The yearning in her tone ran across Lindsey’s third nerve like those fingernails of hers dragged down a chalk board. Teeth gritted, she scolded herself for the insensitivity. With the looks to back it up, her friend was a notorious flirt. One reason—probably the main reason—men rarely took her seriously. Also no doubt why the woman who maintained a full social calendar man wise, hadn’t had a steady boyfriend in the entire time Lindsey had known her.

Regardless, given the nature of the comment she figured some response was required. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that.”

Rita tore a speculative gaze away from the magazine to glance up at her again. “No. It’s the caption under the picture.”

Fighting for casual, Lindsey set down her wine. “Seems a tad chauvinistic.”

“Man’s man.” Rita emitted a deep scoff that ended on a chuckle of pure evil. “What a bunch of crap. With those come to mama looks and that hard, tight body. He’s hands down a woman’s man.” Her hovering fingers twitched. “And would this woman love to get her hands on him.”
More to come...
My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and my stories, please visit my WEBSITE


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

That time a fly destroyed my bedroom ~ by Leah St. James

The other morning I was up really early and for some reason decided to take out the trash.  It was before dawn, so pretty dark out. As I stood at my patio door, trash in hand, wondering if any night creatures lingered in my little patch of yard, the thought crossed my mind to wait until light, or at least until my husband got up so he could take the bag out. But then the competing thought of the cat ripping into the bag in the full hour or so before dawn convinced me to put on my big girl panties and walk the 25 feet to the can. I hurled the patio door open,  slammed it behind me, scurried to the can, dropped the bag in and trotted back into the safety of my house...or so I thought.

It wasn’t five minutes later when I saw what I’d let in...a fly. But not just any ordinary house fly, a giant horsefly. This monster was almost the size of a dime, lazily sailing through my living room like the Goodyear blimp, surveying its domain!

Let me first say I have no problem with the insects of the world as long as they stay where they belong--in their world, not mine. Once they cross that line, I’m sorry, but all bets are off.  Besides, those things can bite! That fly had to go, one way or another.

After a couple aborted attempts to swat it, I decided to let Hercules the cat earn his keep. He’s a good little critter-catcher, so it didn’t take him long to spy the thing and take off on his mission. When I got home that night, there was no sign of the “fly,” so I assumed Hercules had done his duty.


The next morning, I was in getting ready for work, my bedroom when the cat froze, stared at the window and started making that ack-ack-ack noise cats make when they’re moving for a kill. Uh-oh, I thought, that can’t be good. I raised the blinds, and sure enough, there was the blimp-fly, buzzing futilely against the pane of glass.

I swatted at it with a towel, which was a mistake because the thing came at me...RIGHT AT MY FACE. I shrieked and made like a matador with the towel to no avail while Hercules hopped around the room in pursuit.  And in every spot he landed, things went tumbling and crashing--TV remote, brushes and combs, colognes and lotions, and hubby’s “treasure” box where he keeps mementos. (Yikes.) I was scurrying around trying to move things out of Hercules’ way, while swatting at the flying menace, and pretty soon it looked like a tornado had moved thorough the room.

Realizing the towel wasn’t enough of a weapon, I ran downstairs, grabbed a section of the prior day’s newspaper (no cracks about good uses for print news, please!) and ran to face the enemy once more. The "fly" had made it into the bathroom by then, hovering at the top of the shower.

Aha! It likes water, I thought, so turned on the shower, but the blasted insect wouldn’t venture near the stream. So I strained and swatted while Hercules stood on the sink, wiggling his behind and preparing to pounce.

I chased the fly from the shower to above the sink where he landed on the side of the light fixture. With visions of shattering glass filling my head, I gave a controlled downward swipe. Success!! The “fly” fell into the sink, right beneath Hercules’ twitching nose!

Did my cat attack like he was supposed to? No! He crouched there peering at the black blob in the sink while I screamed, “Get it! Get it, Hercules! What are you waiting for?!” But I knew what he was waiting for--a sign of life so he could play with his prey. This was no time for fun!

Just when I was about to unleash what I hoped would be a knock-out blow, Hercules reached down with one paw, plucked the offending “fly” from the sink and popped it into his mouth. Crunch. Then he licked his chops.

I was too glad to be rid of the fly to be grossed out. Nature is cruel. Survival of the fittest and all that.

Here is Hercules, lying on my wrecked (antique) dresser following his successful fly hunt, apparently wiped out and ready for a catnap. Either that or the fly gave him indigestion.

As for me, I’ll think twice before I open that patio door in the dark again! I mean, a fly was bad enough, but things could have been worse. I could have let in a spider!


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. Visit her on Facebook where she occasionally posts photos and videos of Hercules, favorite quotes and more, and see her favorite images, recipes and more fun stuff on Pinterest. Learn more at

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What President did what? by Barbara Edwards

Presidents’ birthdays were celebrated twice in February when I was in school. Not a holiday but a time of respect. I learned about Washington and Lincoln and developed a love of history. In writing my very first novel I researched Grover Cleveland for background in my story.
Cleveland had the distinction of being 22nd and 24th president. The only non-consecutive two terms of a president.
There was a tremendous amount of scandal during elections in those days. Accusations of adultery, illegitimate children, and theft were published in the news on a daily basis. Candidates need a thick skin and the ability to throw mud harder than their opponent.
Things don’t seem to have changed much.
So Cleveland was in my first novel. A minor player but important to the plot.

Check out Another Love by Barbara Edwards
A Historical Romance
Available at Books by WingsEpress
Check for more excerpts

Some promises are made to be broken.
Caught in a web of political intrigue, graft and threats to a beloved child, Meg Warren and Drew Larkin hunt the men threatening the downfall of President Cleveland and the economic fabric of America. From a poor farm to the ostentatious world of New York’s elite, they sift lies, discover trust and an attraction they cannot resist. The last thing they expect to find is a love worth more than gold.

Meg quivered like a trapped bird in his arms. Her slender bones were as fragile and delicate as the lace edging her collar. Alarm widened her eyes.
"How can you prove your innocence? I can think of a way.”
 His mouth locked over hers, smothering her protest. His tongue probed the seam between her lips and she moved head back. He instantly slipped his hand to the back of her head to hold her still. His tongue coaxed.
Her thick hair loosened from its knot. The heavy length cascaded over her shoulders and down her back. Drew groaned when the silken tresses brushed his hands. His fingers twined in the softly scented curls. He tugged gently. Upon her gasp, his tongue surged between her lips.
Her hands stilled, then she caught his lower lip with her teeth and bit down, hard. She whirled away to face him from the other side of the small room. If he thought she looked regal before, now she looked magnificent. A Greek goddess, breasts uplifted with pride and rage, her hair flowing like dark water over her slim shoulders.
She pointed an accusing finger at him and he fully expected a bolt of lightening to char him to a cinder.
"I will not prove anything by going to bed with you," she cried.

"Quote." – Pat Potter, award winning author calls Another Love…“A real page turner with wonderful characters and a unique plot. You can’t miss with this one.”

Review from Romantic Times Magazine **** 1/2 (four and one-half stars)

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Amazon Author’s Page

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, George Washington...oh, wait. That's should be...

George Washington

He was the man who led the colonies in revolt against the British during the Revolutionary War 1775 - 1783. The man who refused to be king but ,consequently, accepted the position as our first President of the United States of America. He served two terms where he never ran but was unanimously elected each time.

AKA: The Father of our Country.

As a young student I was dutifully taught the questions and answers to the educational system's approved list of test questions. It wasn't until much later, I learned the majority of anecdotal 'facts' about George were, in fact, wrong.

George, no middle name, Washington wasn't born on February 22, 1732. Though there is some confusion on this, most scholars believe he was born on February 11, 1731. The error in his vital statistic occurred when the British switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1752.

However, we don't celebrate on either day. Why? Because in 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act arbitrarily decided to change the observance of Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday in February; so government workers could have a three-day weekend. It's also the time they lumped all Presidential birthdays (like Lincoln's Feb. 12 birthday) into one holiday. The official name was never changed, though, and remains Washington's Day.

From all reports, George Washington was a man of good judgement, morals, integrity. He strongly believed in the freedom of speech.
15 March, 1783. Address to officers of the army.

If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

He wasn't an Atheist but he also wasn't overly religious. He did firmly believe in freedom of religion.
May 1789. Letter to United Baptist Churches in Virginia. George wrote:
Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience

Still George, gasp, never cut down a cherry tree. Parson Weems made that tale up with the sole purpose of turning our first president into a role model for young children.

However, Washington did write: 28th August, 1788. Letter to Alexander Hamilton.

I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an “Honest Man”.

And on:

17th September, 1796. Farewell address.

I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.

That's his real hair, folks. George did not wear a wig.

George didn't have wooden teeth. His dentures were made from human and animal teeth or carved ivory set into into a metal, spring-loaded contraption. Similar to the one below.
That was the real reason George didn't smile. Not only was it uncomfortable but he also had to keep his jaw clenched in order to keep the dentures in.

He might have come to love the 27 year-old widow, Martha Dandridge Custis (he certainly seemed devoted to her)
But his first love was Sally Fairfax - The wife of his best friend, George William Fairfax. In 1758, Washington wrote a letter to her where he calls himself 'a votary of love.'

Even though Washington benefited from slave labor, he knew slavery was wrong, and is the only president to free his slaves. On the other side of that coin, however, they weren't freed until his death.

GW loved whiskey so much he had a distillery at Mount Vernon. He also was an avid breeder of hunting dogs.

I think you get a better peek into GW's psyche by reading his own words.

George actually lost more battles that he won. But his purpose never faltered:
2 July, 1776, General Orders, New York Headquarters
Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.

17th September, 1796. Farewell Address.Three years before his death, George warned:
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence … the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican  government.

It so telling to see the freedoms, we hold dear today, being conceptualized and turned into a mandate for the American people.

So Happy Birthday, First President George Washington. Whenever it really is.

In the end, after all my research for this post, I know the majority of people (me included) consider George Washington's birthday to be a day of big sales while Banks, government offices, and schools get the day off.

As for me? I think of George every day because he's the one pictured on the only bill my wallet ever sees



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Authors Giving Other Authors Bad Reviews? by Alicia Dean

I have never posted a negative book review, and I never plan to. But, I will admit that I'm sometimes tempted. I am strongly against authors slamming other authors, so again, I won't, but I just finished a book that has left me really frustrated. I long to state my feelings and opinions, see if others felt the same. Actually, I suppose that's more of a 'book club' thing than a review. :)

Anyway...I'm really ticked about this book. I know it's fiction, so why is it bugging me? Here's the gist: A female detective has reached rock bottom because she's lost everything after blowing the whistle on her partner/lover because he faked a confession from a suspect in the murder of a little girl, and the wrongly accused man kills himself. The mother of the child acted very suspiciously at the time. The detective, and the woman's husband, suspect she might have ben involved. Time goes by and the detective is literally homeless when the child's father locates her and begs her to help find the real killer. She moves in with him, begins searching for the truth, and finds it. She and the father of the little girl become lovers.

The issues...

Almost everyone in the story was involved in the little girl's death; the former partner/lover, the mother of the child, the FATHER of the child, AND the protagonist's SISTER and, indirectly, the protagonist's brother-in-law. The book never explained why the child's father would take the detective off the streets, give her a home, and convince her to investigate his daughter's death, since he was behind it. And, rather than redeeming herself at the end, the protagonist, after learning her sister was involved, blackmails her sister and says if she will give her $50,000 dollars to start a new life, and let her take her niece (criminal sister's daughter), she'll disappear. That's the way it ends. So...the sister, the child's mother, and the child's father get away scot free after being involved in the murder of a child. (The mother has another child at home, but she 'likes' this one, so he's probably safe) The former partner/lover is in prison already for his part in the fake confession, but he won't serve as much time as he would have if he were found guilty of the little girl's death. The brother-in-law was killed by detective's sister. Oh yes, and detective's sister and father of dead child were lovers. Which also makes no sense. The detective could have blown the lid off their crime/operation and redeemed herself and gotten her job back. The whole crime was perpetrated for money. The father took out a $5,000,000 life insurance policy on his child. Which, in itself, is a huge red flag, and would never fly. There were some other things, like how the evidence was uncovered, which had me rolling my eyes, but I won't bore you further with all of that. :)

I am never tempted to give a bad review if a book is simply boring or poorly written. But, this book was good, and I was invested and engaged, and the end totally screwed it up for me. Maybe the author thought he was being clever in having so many twists, but they were unbelievable twists, and they only served to ruin the novel.

Hmmm...I suppose now I HAVE shared my feelings, and maybe I can move on. :)

What about you? Do you ever post negative book reviews?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fluff vs. Substance? by Jannine Gallant

So, I may have mentioned a time or two that I have a new release coming out at the end of the month. WILDE THING is book three in my BORN TO BE WILDE series. This series is fun, romantic, and adventure packed with a side of suspense. My readers seem to like all these qualities. However, I did something a little different with this book. Sure, it has all of the above, but I also introduced the controversial topic of child abuse. Not in a huge, take-over-the-story sort of way. But the more I asked myself why my heroine had certain problems, the more I knew I needed to give her a backstory with a darker underbelly. Reviews on Goodreads have been trickling in from ARCs received through NetGalley, and the results are mixed.

Don't get me wrong. In general, I've had a lot of "another great book in this series" reviews. But I've noticed a scattering of three and four stars mixed with the fives, and the complaints seem to have a common theme. I made readers uncomfortable. They said I could have wrapped up the book without introducing that particular topic. One went so far as to mention she understood why I did it, but she still wished it hadn't been included. I've got to tell you, I like reviewers who are so honest and detailed about their problems with a book. This particular reviewer had given WILDE ONE and WILDE SIDE both five star reviews. She gave WILDE THING four stars and said she couldn't wait for WILDE HORSES to release. So, I learned something.

Uncomfortable topics may turn off some readers. Is this just because they didn't expect it after reading the first two books in the series? Or, do some readers just want a world where ugliness doesn't exist and where the hero and heroine are perfect. I also got a few complaints that my hero was a player (even though he redeems himself in the end), and they didn't like that. That particular criticism also leads me to believe flawed characters aren't always appreciated. Based on the reviewer who is eagerly anticipating WILDE HORSES, my transgressions aren't going to alienate devoted followers. But, I am wondering about my next series which delves into some pretty dark suspense. I guess we'll wait and see.

So, my question to you: As a reader, do you prefer to enjoy light romance untarnished by uncomfortable reality? Honestly, there's not a thing wrong with that. I'll admit I won't read a book where I know someone I've invested hours of my time getting to know is going to die. So, yeah, I fall in the don't-disturb-me-with-reality camp on that topic. In addition, do you appreciate characters who have flaws, or do you love perfect heroes? Inquiring minds want to know!

If I've tweaked your curiosity and you can't wait to see what WILDE THING is all about, pre-order it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, or KOBO. It releases on February 28th. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 17, 2017

What the Heck Was I Thinking? by Betsy Ashton

A bit of background before I get into how I shot myself in the foot. Which I did last year. When I volunteered for a monumental task.

For the past four years, I've been the president of a state-wide writers club. I was term-limited when I stepped down last November. I shed massive amounts of crocodile tears. I was free of the responsibility for moving the club ahead. I looked forward to spending more time and gray cells on my books. I promised to support the new president. And then she asked if I'd head up the centennial planning and celebration. I said yes.

What was I thinking?

For any organization to turn 100 is a huge accomplishment and should be celebrated far and wide, well, at least state-wide. That means special speakers. That means special events. That means -- wait for it. AN ANTHOLOGY.

I not only built the plan for the centennial, I'm knee deep in executing it. I have a lot of help from volunteers throughout the club. I ask for volunteers for a specific event or task. I haven't asked people to sit on the committee full-time. We're writers, for heaven's sake. If we have "full-time," it's for writing, not for meetings.

Last year I put out a call for submissions in three categories: poetry, short stories, and essays. I gave everyone three months to submit "their best work" in any category. I didn't set parameters for topics, for example, although I did have limits on the number of contributions each writer could submit.

The stack, printed out with two pages per sheet, is three inches tall. You read that right. Three inches tall. I have two editors for each section reading for selection purposes. I have also read each entry and made my suggestions. As the executive editor, I have the final say, although I can be bribed. Think triple-black Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet.

I can't believe how many of our members write at a professional level. Since I encouraged selections from previously published works, I have so many that are outstanding. Make that Out.Stand.Ing. The selection process is going to be difficult. Sometime in the next few weeks, I will have to tell some writers they didn't make it. And I'll have to tell some that they did. Those that don't make it deserve to know why.

Some are easy to pass up, namely those with crazy ideas of verb tense that would require more time than I have to edit into an acceptable format. Four stories and one essay are "almost there." If these make the cut, I'll ask for the author to edit them with suggestions for where the work should be changed. I'm less certain about the poems, but two poets who have published widely themselves read the entries and made the first cuts.

We agreed at the board of governors meeting when we started this process that the Chicago Manual of Style would have the final word. It lives on my desk. Some prose writers may not like it, but if they don't use the SERIAL COMMA, either they accept my edits or I thank them very much and drop them.

And once the anthology is done and at the printers, I have a 300-item task list of things I have to do this year to bring the centennial to life.

So, what was I thinking? If you see me raise my hand for ANYTHING, please feel free to put me in a straight jacket.


Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max mystery series, Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory. Her work has appeared in several anthologies including Reflections  on Smith Mountain Lake, Voices from Smith Mountain Lake, and Candles of Hope. Some of her essays have been featured on NPR.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Too Old For Long Hair? by Donna Michaels

That’s the question I struggle to answer every time I head to the hair salon.
Hello, everyone. Do you have that problem?
Because of my crazier than crazy deadlines of late, I haven’t gone there in almost a year, though. My hair has now reached the middle of my back. I just pull it back in a ponytail and write on. Easy peasy. Over the holidays, though, my daughter did chop some bangs on my forehead. We thought it’d be neat to see. I kind of like them. And I absolutely love long hair. Always did, always will. But, I am now safely (if there is such a thing) in my middle age. Is it okay for a 51 year old woman to have hair down the middle of her back…and bangs?
A question I’ll need to decide by next week. I am heading on a much needed vacation/cruise with a few author friends, readers, and even one of my editors. While on the high seas, I will also be getting promotional author photos done.
So, what do you think? Next week, while I am covering my grays at my hair appointment, do I have my hair dresser, Mike, cut the length and blend the bangs? Or just even out the ends and move on?
If it wasn’t for the photos, I’d probably do the latter. But, I don’t want to look like an old lady with young hair in all of my promos that request an author photo. lol
Have you faced a similar dilemma? What did you do?
I haven’t just been busy growing my hair. Those crazy months have also been used to create books. Four novellas and three novels. Now you see why I had no time to get a haircut. One of those novels was my first book with Entangled, IN A RANGER’S ARMS, and this week, not only has it received a brand new cover (which I love), it is also on Sale for only .99 cents!! The reviews for Stone, Jovy, and the lovesick cow, Lula Belle have been humbling, and I thank you all who posted them. <3
Find all the Buy Links HERE for only .99 cents!

  No amount of training could've prepared him for her.
Former Army Ranger Stone Mitchum’s libido is MIA. Since starting a company with his brother and two buddies, he’s had more important things on his mind than sex. Like transitioning veterans. But when his curvy new tenant falls into his arms—literally—his libido snaps to attention. 
Jovy Larson has four weeks to prove she’s worthy of taking over the family business. Her challenge? Sell gluten-free, vegan food—in the middle of cattle country, Texas. It’s a tough task, but not half as tough as selling snowmobiles in Hawaii…or fighting her attraction to her sexy landlord.  
Soon, she’s tangling sheets with the hot cowboy, stalked by a jealous cow, and falling head over boots for the soldiers Stone’s trying to save. But by the time her lease runs out and the test is over, she’s faced with a new challenge: competing against duty for the Ranger’s heart. 

I also finished writing book 2,
HER SECRET RANGER, which releases March 6th!!
So excited to have my second release with Entangled. Love this cover, too!! And I am also finishing up book 3 this weekend. No cover yet, since we don't have a title. We're working on it. They do have the photo picked out, though I can't wait to see it!! 

And on the self-publishing front, I had a release 2 days ago in Sable Hunter’s Hell Yeah Kindle World!
I’m thrilled to finally release HER HELL NO COWBOY, which is a crossover into my Harland County Series. This is book 10. Only two more left. Sniff. It’s going to be tough to end, but I have some exciting new ventures on the horizon. But in the meantime, please enjoy my brand new McCall cowboy. Lincoln’s was a lot of fun to write. I hope you’ll check him out. He's sitting at #1 in Western Kindle World!!

Keeping it light has never involved more heart 
Ever since his first deployment, Lincoln McCall came home a changed man, swapping life philosophies with his twin brother. No more playing it safe, or by the rules, or looking for “Miss Right”. Hell no. But holding onto that concept is hard after Linc fell into a pool with his arms full of the one that got away. 

Coming out of the fog from her husband’s death, Ashely Patterson wants to live a little, have fun…feel alive. So when the sexy cowboy she crushed on in her youth hires her to work on his house, she gives herself permission to enjoy the attraction sizzling between them…after all, she’s only there temporarily, and he doesn’t do relationships. 

But when their feelings turn serious, she’s in a heap of trouble. Linc is in the military. So was her husband and that got him killed. She can’t risk her heart to another man who could deploy and never return. Hell no. It was better to leave and take her heart with her.  

Now, if only she could figure out how to get the cowboy to give it back.  

Cover photo by Cover Me Photography with Orestis Papapetrou 

 There were 6 other novellas in the Hell Yeah KW Valentine’s Day launch. You can check them all out HERE
So, I guess we learned that writing cowboy after cowboy after cowboy and so on, has led to my hair growth. lol Now, the question is, what do I do about it?
Hope you all have a great week!
Thanks for reading,