Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Seven Things to Know About #Camelot Before You Go by Sharon Ashwood

So, I know you’re anxious to visit Camelot and, hey, why not?  As a fun-filled tourist destination, there’s plenty to see and do.  But before you pack your bags and grab your passport, here are a few tips to make your vacation a good one:

1.               Be careful where you eat. It’s always a good policy when travelling abroad, but especially important if you’re journeying through the Middle Ages. Sure, there are roadside campfires with rustic locals singing songs—that’s all part of the marvelous scenery. However, don’t let them sell you unidentified meat on a stick. It might be troll. Also, don’t take food from anyone with wings. You may end up sweeping floors in a fairy hall for the next hundred years, and no travel insurance in all the known realms covers enchanted abduction.
2.                Don’t poke the dragons. Seriously, don’t be an idiot. They breathe fire.
3.                Beware the elves. They’re easy to spot, since they look like fashion models with perpetual indigestion.  If you’re not sure if that tall someone with glowing eyes and long silver hair is one of the Elven, look around for body servants with flat irons and hair spray. Uh-huh, Elves want you to think that glossy perfection comes naturally, but that rare beauty is an illusion. It’s how they impress people into parting with their gold. If an Elf asks you to invest in a magic forest, just say no. Those golden trees will vanish with the dawn, right along with your wallet.
4.                Be careful whom you call “wench,” especially if she’s holding a sword.
5.                Fun means different things when you’re wearing chain mail. Like, decapitation is a perfectly acceptable consequence of playing the game. Read the fine print before you sign that waiver.
6.               Check with your host before enacting magic spells. It’s not only a matter of courtesy, but also safety. For the comfort of your fellow guests, summon demons only within the designated zones.
7.                Most important of all, just say no to love potions. Look what happened to Merlin. If you don’t know the story, read Enchanter Redeemed!

Enchanter Redeemed by Sharon Ashwood 
Camelot Reborn series 
Book 1 - Enchanted Warrior
Book 2 – Enchanted Guardian
Book 3 – Royal Enchantment
Book 4 – Enchanter Redeemed 

Ancient magic and new passion…

In the last battle for Camelot, Merlin had to make a terrible choice. Now he must pay the price. When a demon from his past reappears, she wants nothing more than to destroy the wizard. Now to reap her vengeance as a lover scorned, the demon occupies the body of Clary—the apprentice who is capturing his heart—and has the innocent behaving in uncharacteristic ways. Ways that push the forbidden desire Clary and Merlin share into heated play… 

Book Trailer:

Purchase Links: 

Short Excerpt: 
Clary jolted awake. Power surged through her body, painful and suffocating. Her spine arched into it—or maybe away from it, she wasn’t sure. Merlin had one hand on her side and the other on her chest, using his magic like a defibrillator. The sensation hammered her from the inside while every hair on her body stood straight up. When he released her, she sagged in relief. A drifting sensation took over, as if she were a feather in an updraft.
Merlin’s fingers went to her neck, checking for a pulse. His hands were hot from working spells, the touch firm yet gentle. In her weakened state, Clary shivered slightly, wanting to bare her throat in surrender. She was a sucker for dark, broody masculinity and he projected it like a beacon. All the same, Clary sucked in a breath before he got any big ideas about mouth-to-mouth. If Merlin was going to kiss her, she wanted wine and soft music, not blood and the dirty workshop floor.
Another bolt of power, more pain, another pulse check. Clary managed a moan, and she heard the sharp intake of Merlin’s breath. His hand withdrew from her pulse point as she forced her eyes open. He was staring down at her with his peculiar amber eyes, dark brows furrowed in concern. She was used to him prickly, arrogant or sarcastic, but not this. She’d never seen that oddly vulnerable expression before—but it quickly fled as their gazes met.
“You’re alive.” He said it like a fact, any softness gone.
“Yup.” Clary pushed herself up on her elbows. She hurt all over. “What was that?”
“A demon.”
“I got that much.” Clary held up her arm, peering through the rents in her jacket where the demon’s claws had slashed. Merlin’s zap of power had stopped the bleeding, but the deep scratches were red, puffy and hurt like blazes.
“Demon claws are toxic.”
“Got that, too.”
“I can put a salve on the wound, but you’d be smart to have Tamsin look at it,” Merlin said. “Your sister is a better healer than I am.”
“She’s better than anybody.” Clary said it with the automatic loyalty of a little sister, but it was true. “She’s got a better bedside manner, too.”
Merlin raised a brow, his natural arrogance back in place. “Just be glad you’re alive.”
She studied Merlin, acutely aware of how much magic he’d used to shut the demon down. He looked like a man in his early thirties, but there was no telling how old he actually was. He was lean-faced with permanent stubble and dark hair that curled at his collar. At first glance, he looked like a radical arts professor or dot-com squillionaire contemplating his next disruptive innovation. It took a second look to notice the muscular physique hidden by the comfortable clothes. Merlin had a way of sliding under most radars, but Clary never underestimated the power he could pluck out of thin air. She was witch born, a member of the Shadowring Coven, but he was light years beyond their strongest warlocks.
That strength was like catnip to her—although she’d never, ever admit that out loud. “What were you doing?” she demanded, struggling the rest of the way to a sitting position.
“I was watching the demons through a scrying portal when you interrupted me.” His tone was precise and growing colder with every syllable. Now that the crisis was over, he was getting angry.
“The she-demon tried to kill me.” Clary’s insides hollowed as the words sank home. Dear goddess, she did kill me! And Merlin had brought her back before a second had passed—but it had happened. Her witch’s senses had felt it happen. The realization left her light-headed.
“She doesn’t get to have you,” he said in a low voice.
Their gazes locked, and something twisted in Clary’s chest. She’d been hurt on Merlin’s watch, and he was furious. No, what she saw in his eyes was more than icy anger. It was a heated, primal possessiveness that came from a far different Merlin than she knew. Clary’s breath stopped. Surely she was misreading the situation. Death and zapping had scrambled her thoughts.
“I shouldn’t have walked in on you.”
“No, you shouldn’t have,” he said in a voice filled with the same mix of ice and fire. “You’d be a better student of magic if you paid attention. You asked me to teach you proper magic and not the baby food the covens use. Real magic is deadly.”
Abruptly, he stood and crossed the room to kick a shard of agate against the wall. It bounced with a savage clatter. Clary got to her feet, her knees wobbling. He spun and stormed back to her in one motion, moving so fast she barely knew what was happening.
He took her by the shoulders, the grip rough. “Don’t ever do that again!”
And then his mouth crushed hers in a hard, angry kiss. Clary gasped in surprise, but there was no air, only him, and only his need. She rose slowly onto her toes, the gesture both surrender and a desire to hold her own. She’d been kissed many times before, but never consumed this way. His lips were greedy and hot with that same confusing array of emotions she’d seen a moment ago. Anger. Fear. Possession. Protectiveness.
Volatile. That was the word she’d so often used in her own head when thinking about him. Volatile, though he kept himself on a very short chain. Right now that chain had slipped.

For the first two chapters, click here:

Sharon Ashwood is a free-lance journalist, novelist, desk jockey and enthusiast for the weird and spooky. She has an English literature degree but works as a finance geek. Interests include growing her to-be-read pile and playing with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle fantasy would never work out, so she writes paranormal romances instead.
Sharon lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness.

Find her website here and her newsletter here 

Leave a comment telling me about your favorite fairy tale and you’ll be entered to win a signed paperback of the first book of the series, Enchanted Warrior. International entries welcome.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

#Mentors by Diane Burton


In almost every occupation, someone teaches a newbie. In some cases, the “someone” is ordered to do so by their boss. Many times, someone is willing to help. I’ve found both types. In one job I had, the person who was supposed to teach me the ropes resented it and taught me the bare minimum. In other job, a fellow employee delighted in teaching me what I needed to know to do my job.

My writing career has been an eye-opener. I cannot tell you the number of mentors I’ve had. (And if I named them, I would surely leave out someone, and I don’t want to do that.) More experienced writers shared their wisdom and knowledge when I was the newbie. People online—like the Roses here and other groups, yahoogroups like Marketing For Romance Writers, Authors Network, and more. Authors Helping Authors, an online support group started by our own Alicia Dean, strives to promote other authors. We know how hard it is to promote ourselves, and it’s so much easier to promote others. So we share tweets and Facebook posts. We invite each other to guest on our blogs. We write reviews.

Another online group I belong to is called Insecure Writer's Support Group. Since most writers are insecure, this group sums up our goal—to support each other. We “meet” once a month (like a blog hop), posting on our blogs then visiting and offering advice, commiseration, sympathy, and congratulations. This great group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Mid-Michigan RWA's Angel Award
 I’ve been fortunate to belong to the terrific Mid-Michigan chapter of Romance Writers of America, fellow writers who help each other. We offer workshops, along with “table” advice during our lunches. The best are the people who bolster the newbies. They’re never too busy to lend a hand. Our chapter recognizes those members who give exception service to the members as well as the chapter. Our own Margo Hoornstra is one of Mid-Michigan RWA’s Angels.

Sometimes, commiseration and sympathy aren’t enough. Sometimes, we need a kick in the rear. I’ve had that kinds of support, too. Getting down on oneself isn’t hard to do. Getting back up and starting again often takes that swift kick. A good friend, mentor, and fellow writer can do that. We know the trials and troubles another writer goes through.

They say what goes around comes around. When we offer support and encouragement to others, they are there to support and encourage us. Non-writers (especially those in the business world) have often wondered (in amazement) why we help our competition. Is it because we’re nice people? Well, yes. LOL But we also remember those who helped us and we’re paying it forward.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She blogs here on the 16th and 30th of each month.

Monday, January 29, 2018

When a #Literary #Cliché Becomes a Reality by Mackenzie Crowne

1.      a phrase or opinion that is overused and portrays a lack of original thought.
2.      a very predictable or unoriginal thing or person.

As a brand-new author (meaning after years of penning stories, someone from the professional literary world was finally seeing my work), I recall being advised to avoid clichés. I don’t remember my specific offense, but that doesn’t matter. There are many examples of literary clichés and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of including quite a few of them in my various writings, especially in those early years. I like to think I’ve grown in my craft, but let’s face it, some clichés are almost impossible to avoid simply because they are so prevalent in real life.

In my opinion, one of the most commonly seen examples of a literary cliché is the use of cancer as a vehicle or plot element. Think about it, how many stories have you read where someone connected to a main character has died of cancer? When viewed from an unemotional standpoint, a character’s diagnosis of one cancer or another is a logical happening. After all, cancer is the second leading cause of death. People die and that goes for fictional people as well. In the romance genre, where I write, characters often project an underlying sadness that defines them. What is sadder than a hero or heroine who has lost a loved one to such a vicious and indiscriminate disease?

I freely admit I’ve been guilty of using this ready-made plot element in the past. As a survivor, I vainly believed I had a special insight into the matter. On a certain level, I guess I did, but this week I learned how ignorant I was to the horrid reality of those who have lived through a tragic loss due to cancer.

Pat, Mac and Deb
For the past two years, Deb, one of my best friends for close to thirty years, has waged a heroic battle against peritoneal cancer. This past Thursday, this amazing woman decided she was weary of the fight and said goodbye to those of us who love her. Everything I thought I knew about cancer has been uprooted and flipped on its head. By the same token, my concept of the "cancer cliché" has been irrevocably altered as well and not just because a broken heart changes one’s perspective. 

Deb's strength and fortitude, her determination in the face of cruel odds, her debilitating pain as the end drew near, and the crushing grief shredding her children, family and friends now that she has she slipped away from us are not plot elements and could never be. They are a story in and of themselves. A story of amazing courage, humbling faith, and raging grief.

Perhaps one day I will tell that story, but I will never look at the use of cancer as a convenient literary vehicle again. After what I witnessed over the past two years, I simply can't. 


When Mac isn't relishing time spent with good friends and family, she keeps herself busy weaving HEAs for her characters, like Nicki Guimond Everson, the heroine of IRRESISTIBLE DECEPTIONS, Mac’s romantic suspense available from Entangled Publishing.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Our Nation's First Sex Scandal by Diana Rubino

Please welcome our guest, Diana Rubino! And read all the way to possibly be a winner.

On New Year’s Day 2008, I sat on the couch trying to figure out who to write about next, and decided on Hamilton (this was WAY pre-Hamilton, the musical). The story centers on Hamilton, his wife and mistress—the love triangle that became the nation's first sex scandal, The Reynolds Affair, in 1791. 

My agent said the story needed a bit more ‘oomph’ and I thought: how about a Jack the Ripper-type serial killer stalking the dark streets? That genre isn’t my forte, so I asked my friend, best selling thriller writer Brian Porter, to help out. I’ve known Brian for many years; he was my editor on A NECESSARY END, my Civil War romance centering on John Wilkes Booth’s insane plot to assassinate President Lincoln, and I knew about his success with his Jack the Ripper novels and Mersey Mystery series. So he was my very first choice as a collaborator. He graciously obliged and wrote a chilling subplot about a serial killer on the dark Philadelphia streets, Severus Black. Severus seems to have gathered a following already! 

While researching this book, I became fascinated with Aaron Burr, who makes a cameo appearance in the story as Maria Reynolds's divorce lawyer. I found the Aaron Burr Association on the internet, and have been a member ever since. 

Visit their website at

And on Facebook at

My fascination with Aaron led to my next bio novel, about his last wife Eliza Jumel, which was released on November 24.

An excerpt from SHARING HAMILTON 

“You love me, Alex? You truly love me? Are you sure?” My breath caught in my throat. My heart danced. His admission rendered me breathless. I melted into a puddle in his lap.
“Maria, I’ve been awaiting you all my life.” He stroked my cheek. “You’re everything I’ve wanted in a woman—allure, intelligence, talent, fun—I’ve never met a woman who was all those things wrapped in one beautiful package.”
I gazed into his eyes, knowing our souls had entwined before this, ages before.
“I wanted you so badly from the moment we first met, at Aaron’s soirée,” I divulged the risky admission. “Though I knew you were already taken, and your course already laid out for you, I craved your attention, not to simply revere you from afar. I wanted to know you personally, even if only to spend one visit together. Just to be close to you. But I knew it was a fantasy. I was distraught when you left New York to live here. Then, when James made us move here, I knew our paths were destined to meet. It could not have happened any other way.”
“Then your initial letter to me had subtext I missed?” His lips curved with mirth.
“Oh, no, not at all,” I murmured between kisses on his face, his ears, his lips. “We—I was destitute. James had—” About to blurt it out, I stopped myself. I couldn’t bring myself to admit I’d lied to him; I’d been a pawn in James’s plot. “All I wanted was to meet you, to be alone with you, for a few stolen moments. That was all I deserved. After all, you are—who you are! I’m—no one.”
“Ah, you’re far from no one. A pity James doesn’t realize that. But I do. I will come clean with you, Maria. I love my wife, but I am not in love with her. As I am with you.”
I wanted to climb to the roof and sing to the entire world, “The great Alexander Hamilton, my new love, is in love with me!” How could I ever keep this a secret? The best part of being in love was sharing it with others. Oh, how I wanted to tell someone! But who could I trust? 


The first three readers to answer this question will receive the Kindle version of SHARING HAMILTON. 

Which historical figure have you always wanted to meet, and why? 


Let’s Connect 

You can connect with Brian L. Porter here:
Blog is at
 Website is

Saturday, January 27, 2018

An Interview With An Author Part II by Betsy Ashton

Welcome back. I'm your Intrepid Reporter interviewing Betsy Ashton, author of the incredibly chilling EYES WITHOUT A FACE.

IR: I'm here with Betsy Ashton. Welcome back.

Me: Thanks. And thanks for the coffee.

IR: We've already talked about the cover and why you wrote the book. I want to talk now about the killer herself.

Me: I'm good with that. This killer got under my skin.

IR: She doesn't have a name.

Me: I think you mean she doesn't have a given or family name.

IR: Right.

Me. In her small town, most kids grew up with nicknames, Buddy, Bub, Junior, Princess. Her family nickname is a representation of how her family sees her.

IR: Did they really call her That Thing?

Me: Alas, they did. It shaped her worldview.

IR: I found I couldn't always believe her.

Me: Well, she is unreliable. She doesn't want you to believe everything she says, but she wants you to believe everything she does.

IR: That sounds contradictory.

Me: It is and isn't.

IR: I see, I think. Is she a sociopath?

Me: She doesn't think so.

IR: So, she's a psychopath?

Me: She doesn't think so.

IR: That's why she's called unreliable, isn't it?

Me: That's part of it.

IR: I may be foolish, but sometimes I found myself rooting for her.

Me: Good. That's what she wants you to do.

IR: I got a distinct Dexter vibe. Was that intentional?

Me: By no means. I have heard of Dexter, of course, but I've only seen one episode. I don't receive the channel it was on.

IR: Did you have any television show in mind?

Me: Criminal Minds. I think the episodes are perfect for that show.

IR: Do you see any of the actors playing That Thing? G-Man?

Me: Casting That Thing is for a different interview. If Joe Mantegna weren't so old, I'd like to see him play G-Man. That said, I wouldn't turn down Shemar Moore...

IR: Do you have any advice for a budding author trying to do what you did with this book?

Me: Humanize your character.

IR: How do you recommend doing that?

Me: Give her a cat.

IR: I'm afraid our time is up. I hope I can have you back to learn more about how you write and what you are working on now.

Me: It would be a pleasure.

Friday, January 26, 2018

#releaseday then, Release Day now

I've been published for about 10 years now. My first 5 books came out in 2007, and book #30 comes out next week.

Oh, I remember those first few releases. OMG, I was all over the Internet, talking about my book(s). It wasn't so much "buy me, buy me" but "I HAVE A PUBLISHED BOOK PEOPLE!" I posted excerpts, I did interviews, I was everywhere I could find a spot to talk about my books.

Back then, books came out in e-format then came out in print later. Most people (back then) pooh-poohed ebooks. "When does the real book come out?" I'd be asked. I had an ebook reader long before the Kindle came out (anybody remember the Rocket Ebook Reader?) I knew that ebooks were the wave of the future. I adored being in electronic as well as "real" print, no matter what people say.

Today -- it's a different story. I do some online interviews, I do post excerpts here and there, and mainly I announce, "Hey, guys: another great book by me." It's not that I've lost the sense of wonder that I HAVE A PUBLISHED BOOK. That wonder never goes away. But I'm aware that there are a lot of people out there shouting about their books, and this is a marathon, not a sprint. I'll be talking about this book for a long time to come, so I can save the shouting.

Okay, here's a bit of shouting: BOOK #30 comes out NEXT WEEK! You can read all about it on my book page right here. This is another Remembered Classics book, in which I take a tale you well remember (Peter Pan, in this case) and I rework the characters. This book stars Wendy, T. K. Bell, and, of course, Peter.

Yeah, it's still fun to shout  ☺

Thursday, January 25, 2018

It Reminds Me Of The Time...#Good Friends #Good Memories

                                          OneWeekend of Reminiscing 

Two old friends came to stay with me this past weekend and it was like the years fell away and we'd seen each other yesterday. Food, conversation, and laughter filled my home. Though we've kept in contact through emails and phone calls nothing means as much as a face-to-face visit.

So much has happened since all three of us were in the same room together. We are now empty nesters. One has her first grandbaby on the way. Another one has a new daughter-in-law. My children are spread around the country and I got to tell how much fun it is to visit Arizona and Colorado when visiting them.

As I was shutting the curtains that first night, chimes filled the room, and I remembered that one of the women had given me the temple bells. Looking around I re-discovered my home was filled with gifts they'd given me over the years.

Pointing this out started a conversation of "I still have this (insert various items) that you gave me at such-and-such a time." It was a time or renewal and remembrance through the gifts we'd given over the years. Those things that we still keep on display year after year because they mean something to us. Take the elephant vase on my mantle as an example. I'd seen one and, for some reason, didn't buy it. I went back later to get it but it was gone. Tam, who was with me both times, kept an eye out for it unbeknownst to me. A year later she gave it to me after having found it in another state.
So the visit ended and my friends physically departed from my home. Yet, I realized, they're never truly gone. Not as long as I can hear Cathy's laugh every time the curtains brush the temple bells. Or when I look at the elephant vase that Tammy searched high and low for because she knew it would please me.

There are countless little memories of people and places throughout my home. All I need to do is remember to stop and remember.

 Eli Grayheart, vampire demon, lesser Lord of Inferna was banished to the mortal realm. For a decade, he has been reduced to working the night shift for human employers and little pay. As he desperately seeks a way back to his homeland, he has plotted his revenge. The pink Fae, known as Keeda Weranseer is going to regret the part she played in his exile. Ever more graphic plans for revenge fuel his life, and, he swears, if it takes forever and a night he will find his way back to Hell.

Enjoy my series featuring a family of vampires in the Blaustsaugers of Amber Heights Series for a little escapism. Where love, laughter, a little of the 'ick factor, and adventures fill the page.

Buy Links

Amazon    The Wild Rose Press Catalog 

See what I'm up to at

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Who's the #Character? My Alter-Ego is a Sexy Author by Brenda Whiteside

Not all characters spring entirely from an author's imagination. At least, that's the case with me. When an author says "be careful, you just might end up in my book" they aren't joking.

There is some model or true to life person in many of the characters who roam the pages of my novels. After all, truth is often way crazier and more colorful than fiction much of the time. So, just between us, I'm going to divulge some of those inspirations. You won't tell, right?

For the most part, my Love and Murder Series springs from my imagination. But not entirely. The hero in The Art of Love and Murder is Sheriff Chance Meadowlark. He started out as Lance...which happens to be my son's name. He also happens to be my son's height and build with a strong character for protection of the women in his life. When I wrote the first love scene, egad, the name had to change!

Book two, Southwest of Love and Murder, the heroine, Phoebe, is a murder/mystery writer who loves hippy/gypsy style clothing, lots of jewelry, and sex. Hum, well, she's my alter ego. And who better to model the hero after than Robert Redford. No, I don't know him personally, but it was his face I saw interacting with me, er, Phoebe.

A Legacy of Love and Murder, book three and set in Austria, is probably the purest of the series when it comes to characters. But I do have a close friend in Austria and with his help I threw in some German. He's also very good looking like the hero, Tobias Wolf.

My brother spent an awful night in a cheap motel and that one scene was inspiration for The Power of Love and Murder. I built Jake from my brother and my son. My brother owned a tile business for years and my son was a rock and roll singer in his own band for years. But another interesting character in the book is Vince Elams, an FBI agent turned hit man. A friend of mine, Vince Smale, asked if I'd put him in one of my books someday. Friend Vince is a big man and not a villain, but switching up his name did the trick. P.S. he loves the character.

Three characters in Sleeping with the Lights On do exist. I've changed them a
Mom and Dad were the stars of Post-War Dreams
little to fit the story, but they are very much the models. And I won't say which of them for sure. There was a fourth who had one minor scene...the jerk of a boss. Oh yes, I knew that man!

In other books, it might be a personality trait or physical trait of someone I've encountered or known in the past.

So, watch out! You could be in my book...let me know if you recognize anyone.

Find all of my characters on my Blog or Amazon or my Web Page.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Secondary #Characternames Are Important Too by Margo Hoornstra

As I said in my post on the 11th of this month, when it comes to starting a new wip (work in progress), choosing proper names for characters is right up there in importance with profession and core beliefs. Distinctive, and properly chosen names can define characters, help establish their personalities, and bring appropriate word pictures to readers.

His make believe life is fine…until it collides with her new reality

Madison Clark no longer believes in heroes. Not after being widowed amid scandal and left with two adolescent boys to raise. With the realities of overwhelming mom duties and an irreparably broken heart, any kind of happily ever after fantasy is nowhere on her radar. Especially when the so called super hero her youngest son seems to worship brings more harm than help to her shattered family situation.

Adam Hollingsworth aka Adam Pride has always been dubbed a hero. A cop by profession and fictional super idol by chance, he’s used to being surrounded by groupies and takes their adoration with a grain of salt. Until he befriends a boy obviously in need of a father figure. A role he begins to take seriously, if only the mother involved will let him.

That’s the rough draft premise of, On The Make, Brothers in Blue, Book #3, my latest work in progress for The Wild Rose Press. As I began writing the book, I wasn’t sure how those two adolescent boys would impact the story. What I did know was they would play an integral part in it. So, of course the first order of busienss was to figure out their names. Right off the bat I came up with, and quickly rejected, Richie and Kyle. I know the character Richie in On The Make needs to have some real teenage angst issues in order to move the story forward. For a variety of reasons, Richie just didn’t seem to fit. And Kyle was out because, without realizing, I used Kyle for a character in a novella I wrote and published this last year.

After more time than I’d care to admit scanning Baby Name websites, even putting out a plea on FaceBook for suggestions, I came up with Cameron and Dak. Don’t asked me why or where those names came from, they just appeared one day in my consciousness and I liked them. They fit. I even wrote a scene between the angst filled teenaged boy and his currently overwhelmed mother.

“Since you were our first, your father gave me the honor of choosing your name.” Madison selected each word carefully in order to make Cameron feel extra special. “He’s the one who decided on Dak.”

While he’d at least shown the courtesy to listen, he obviously didn’t feel compelled to look at her as she spoke. With his head still down, and his eyes averted, he finally opened his mouth. Madison held still, consumed by her interest in his response.

“Wish Dad had picked my name instead.”

The come back was so abrupt, and so cruel, she physically drew away from him. More hurt than surprised.

“I’m sorry things didn’t work out that way.” She kept her response short, her tone tight.


After his second comment, she didn’t move. Couldn’t more than didn’t want to. Stunned at how quickly their once loving relationship had deteriorated. Almost to the point she wasn’t sure any of it was salvageable.

Hot tears stung as she quickly shook her head to dislodge the thought. She’d never give up on either one of her sons. Ever.

“Mom! Phone’s for you.” Dak’s voice tumbled down on her from upstairs, jolting her into action.


In Cameron’s defense, who really does like their own first name? I don’t particularly care for mine. Not a common name by any stretch, I’ve only met five other Margos in my lifetime. Plus, it seems I’m constantly correcting new acquaintances, salespeople, businesses and the like that my name is not Marge, Margaret, Marlo or Marco. And it’s spelled M-a-r-g-o, not Margot or even Margaux. 

What about your own first name. Do you like it? Why or why not? How about those names of some fictional characters you’re aware of? Same questions.

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

Monday, January 22, 2018

Battling the Bulge Part 2 - #Freestyling Food by Leah St. James

In my earlier post this month, I shared my favorite fitness routines for those who might be looking for some ideas on adding activity to their days. (Getting in shape is the No. 1 New Year’s resolution this year after all!) Now it’s time to talk about one of my favorite things: food.

I love to eat. I always have. I’m one of those people who thinks about what I’ll have for dinner while I’m eating lunch. Over the course of my life, much of which was spent overweight, I’ve come to realize that food is my drug of choice. I eat when I’m happy, when I’m bored, but most of all, when I’m stressed. (I keep a bag of raw veggies at my desk for obvious reasons.) 

When I finally lost weight back in 2008, it wasn’t so much beating that addiction, but learning to live with it to maintain a healthier weight. Then I got lazy and over time gained back about 15 pounds. So back on Weight Watchers I went in November, and I’d like to share my experiences with the program and its new “Freestyle” plan.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or in any way trained or expert in nutrition. These opinions and observations are mine alone, based only on my personal experiences.

Basics: Weight Watchers uses a system of points for accounting for the food you eat. Food points are a combination of calories, fat, proteins, carbohydrates and who knows what else. Certain foods (most fruits and vegetables, certain lean meats) are zero points, which encourage users to make those healthier food choices.

The program also counts activity points which, from what I can tell, are loosely based on the length of the activity and the intensity of the workout.

Each day you get x-number of points to spend/eat. You also get 35 extra points for the week which you can spend over the course of the week, or all in one day if you’d like. (Although I have to say, that would be one whopping day of eating.) Your activity points are factored in as well, so the more you work out, the more you can eat. (I like that part of it!) Also, Weight Watchers lets you count things like vacuuming and mopping floors as activity. (Not that I enjoy housework, but at least you get credit for it!)

Recently, Weight Watchers introduced its Freestyle plan, which increased the number of zero-point foods, including almost all fruits and vegetables (although alas no potatoes or sweet potatoes), chicken breast, turkey breast, eggs (yes, whole eggs), beans and more. At the same time, daily points limits were reduced to balance out the change.

I’ve been on the plan (pre-Freestyle and Freestyle) for about three months and have had some success. Here are my observations:

What I like:
I love the zero points on vegetables and chicken/turkey breast. That means if I eat a grilled chicken breast and some steamed veggies for dinner (no bread or potatoes), that’s ZERO POINTS. That means I can have a small dish of frozen yogurt for dessert and maybe a snack a bit later in the evening! And that makes me happy. 

I love the Weight Watchers website. I can create my own recipes and play around with the ingredients to make the per-serving points workable for me. The mobile app has a scanner that allows you to simply scan a bar code while you’re shopping to find out the points values of that food! Very cool. So if I’m looking at two brands of bread and want to buy the one that’s lower points, it’s quick and easy.

This was my dinner a few days ago -- homemade turkey meatballs (made with 98% lean ground turkey breast), a small scoop of spaghetti with sauce and steamed broccoli. It was pretty yummy, if I do say so! (Eating "healthy" can be a challenge when you're married to a meat-and-potatoes guy like I am. I just have to make it work for me.)

I like that I can track my food in advance to get the day’s total and figure out what changes I might want to make before I actually eat the food. It’s a huge help with social events or dinners out. And you don’t have to count zero-point foods, so the new Freestyle plan means spending less time tracking food.

I like the points system. I have tried My Fitness Pal in the past, which is a really good option if you prefer a free site, but you have to watch calories, carbs, fats, etc., for each food. It’s too much for me. Weight Watchers does the calculations for me. (I don’t need added stress while I’m trying to lose weight!)             

What I’m cautionary about:
"Free" fruits. As much as I love that I can eat fruit all day “for free,” I have a son who’s diabetic, and I know how much sugars are in fruits. I also so know that sugars are not great for us. They serve a purpose in overall nutrition, but too much is...too much. I love fruit, but I limit myself to one or two pieces of fruit a day. (When I first went on Weight Watchers back in 2008, fruits were not free.)

Tips to make it work for you:
One word: Planning.
Seriously, you can eat anything you want on Weight Watchers, but you have to plan for it and account for it. It does take effort, but for me that’s a good thing. Mindless eating is a perfect path to weight gain for me, especially because I use food as an emotional crutch. Weight Watchers forces me to pay attention to what I’m eating and to be purposeful about my choices. I won’t stay on the program forever – mostly because I’m cheap and don’t want to pay forever – but I hope by then I’ll have retrained myself to make better choices.

If you’re battling your bulges and are considering Weight Watchers, I hope this helps give you an idea about the program and whether it might work for you. 

If you have a favorite program or system to track what you eat, we'd love to hear about it! I'm always looking for new ideas.


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. As you might guess, her food addiction finds its way into much of her writing, and she often eats vicariously through her characters, many of whom don’t have to Battle the Bulge. Lucky stiffs. 

Learn more at Her days to blog here are the 6th and 22nd each month.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What are friends for? by Barbara Edwards

Getting into the routine again hasn’t been easy.  I finally realized I needed to resume the routine I had before all the chaos that broke it into pieces. As you may recall, my husband had cancer. It turned into months of treatment, other issues and finally time for recovery. He just had his second six month cat scan and is still clear.

What a relief. Then I discovered having all the stress relieved didn’t release my creativity.
In fact, I felt empty. 

Writing is a journey. I’ve used emotions and incidents from my life to fill out my plots, but I couldn’t use this. Thinking about what occurred gave me nightmares. the days waiting in the hospital. The recurring chemotherapy treatments. The surgery that lasted hours. Just mentioning it makes my shoulders stiff with tension.

So  how do I take this phase of my journey and turn it into a positive step.
 know all the tricks. Take a walk in the woods. sit by a lake or river. Listen to the wind. Look at the stars. Read a book.  I bet you have a special way to refill that empty tank and could share  it.

I tried going to RWA chapter meetings and found the other authors a source of strength. Everyone had serious problems. Everyone was hanging onto their dream of writing that book by their fingernails. It was a comfort and a challenge. They talked me into volunteering to be president. 

So here I am. I’m writing again. Because of my friends.

Check out the on-line class we’re sponsoring at
Marie Tuhart shares the basic’s of writing erotic romance.

I’m taking it because I still choke at writing love scenes.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page

Saturday, January 20, 2018

R.E.Mullins interviews character, Gabe Blautsauger (It's A Wonderful Undead Life) #character interview #RosesofProseBlog #BloodyMary

A Character Interview with Gabe Blautsauger from It's A Wonderful Undead Life by R E Mullins

Act natural, I tell myself as I settle into a chair, and try to quell the butterflies in my stomach. My guest today is Nosferatu vampire, Gabe Blautsauger. He’s sitting on the couch across from me, and I do appreciate the view. It isn’t as if we haven’t met before. We got to know each other quite well while I was writing his story in It’s A Wonderful Undead Life.

Still, there’s something about sitting near all his, ah, gorgeousness, lightly coated with a sheen of danger. It's all enough to make my body parts sit up and sing in three-part harmony. Down girl, I caution myself. He’s taken.

“Thank you, Gabe,” I practically stutter. I have to stop and take a deep breath as he smiles knowingly. “Thank you for joining me today. I’m sorry your beautiful wife, Cailey couldn’t join us.”

That’s a bald-faced lie. I’m thrilled to have Gabe all to myself—even for a platonic few minutes.

“It’s good to see you again, Re.” His low voice holds just a touch of his exotic Russian accent. I feel my face heat. Me, a middle-aged woman that didn’t even know she could still blush. Perhaps, I’m all atwitter at the way he puts my initials together and simply calls me Re instead of R. E. I want to consider it a special nickname between just the two of us.

I swallow. “In your story, I describe your first attempts to get Cailey to drink bagged blood by disguising it as a Bloody Mary. When you first described your method, you mentioned something about the history of the drink. Would you, please, share the complete account with our readers?”

“Of course,” his reply is easy as is his demeanor as he relaxes back into the couch. “Current online encyclopedias say the origin of the Bloody Mary cocktail is unclear, and that there are multiple conflicting claims as to who invented the drink.”

He takes a sip out of the to-go cup that he’d brought into our meeting. I find myself both fascinated and horrified because I know it’s blood. Even after writing about vampires for years, the sight still makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Setting his cup aside, he seems to sense my squeamishness as he smiles sweetly at me without showing a hint of fang. “Humans have tried to take credit. For instance, bartender, Fernand Petiot was the first to claim, what is considered, the classic recipe. He maintains he created the drink, which he called a Red Hammer, in the early 1920’s. Though he admits his part of the recipe was adding seasonings. It was one of his patrons, comedian George Jessel, that often requested a cocktail of half tomato juice and half vodka.”

Gabe paused to wet his throat again, “The name, Bloody Mary, has been attributed to many things such as her Majesty, Queen Mary I of England—who I think gets a bad rap historically. She was always quite kind to me. Others say it was named for the actress Mary Pickford.” He brow furrowed. “I never got that one. Another concerns a waitress named Mary who worked in a Chicago bar called the Bucket of Blood—I got that one off Wikipedia myself,” Gabe sounded amused.

"So who was the original Bloody Mary?"

“Re, your readers might not know that my surname, Blautsauger comes from an old Bavarian word for bloodsucker and my ancestry can be traced back before the common era. We’ve been around a long, long time and have seen how, throughout time, various ‘inventions’ are discovered, lost, and re-discovered. Each time something was, let’s say, re-learned the new finder claims to be the original inventor. Most didn’t even realize the truth and truly believed their discovery to be their own brain child.”

“I wonder if that explains why cars and planes were ‘invented’ here in the States as well as in other countries at practically the same time?” I mused.

Gabe nodded. “Take this for instance, in 1386 Genoese envoys brought the first aqua vitae ("the water of life") to Moscow. Then about twenty years later a Russian monk gets the credit for making the first recipe of vodka in the early 1400’s. My ancestral knowledge goes back before all that. Also as a child, my stepmother, Cassiopeia played around the Egyptian pyramids while they were being built, so she has firsthand knowledge of such things. Ah," he chuckled, "you don’t need to tell her I said that.”

Knowing Cassiopeia as we do, we're in little doubt that she'd appreciate us mentioning her age. This has us grinning a little guiltily at each other.

“So, when Greeks were first fermenting their grapes, the Chinese were experimenting with rice, and a vampire living in what would be Poland was making her own alcohol of burned grains in water for human medicinal use.”

“Vampires made medicine for humans?”

“Naturally.” Gabe seemed a little bemused by my surprise. “Vampires have always had a vested interest in keeping humans healthy. Remember, they were our only food source. That is until recently when Michaela finished her blood formula and freed us from that bondage.”

I blinked. The fact vampires would consider their dependence on human blood as a type of bondage had never occurred to me. My only thought had been about the way they fed off humans.

"What about the name? Bloody Mary?" I had to ask. "Does it refer to the vampire's bloody fangs or the wounds left on the human's neck?"

He grinned fully this time and, for an instant, I caught sight of the pointed tips of his gleaming fangs. “It was named after Marysia Blautsauger. (I wish the reader could hear how Gabe pronounces her name. The syllables roll lyrically over his tongue, Mar ish ah Blôt sang er. Talk about sexy sounding.) “She was an ancestor of mine that was feared and yet greatly revered by both peasant and royalty alike. She was the first to ferment burnt grains and water together. Then she mashed those globose yellow Mandrake fruits into the weak alcoholic mix. It made the remedy even more beneficial as Mandrake fruits, or love apples as they were known, have cleansing and sedating qualities.”

“Aren’t love apples part of the potentially deadly nightshade plants?”

“Yes,” Gabe confirmed with another easy smile. “Even vampires had to handled them skillfully. Mandrake fruit, did you know, were often confused with tomatoes and this confusion had people afraid to eat tomatoes for centuries. So—,” he beat a tiny drumroll on his knee, “—Bloody came from our last name of Blautsauger and Mary was corrupted over time from Marysia to Maria to Mary.”

“So that’s how it all came about!” I lifted the Highball glass holding the Bloody Mary cocktail I’d planned to drink during the interview. My gaze caught and lingered on the deep red color of the drink and set it aside.

And Gabe's laughter filled the room.

The Basic Bloody Mary Recipe: Start here and then make the cocktail your own by toying with the seasonings and garnishes.

· 1 1/2 ounces vodka

· 1/2 cup tomato juice or V8

· 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon or lime juice

· 1-3 dashes Tobasco or pepper sauce

· 4-6 dashes Worcestershire or Soy sauce

· pinch of salt and pepper

· 1 tsp celery salt or skip this and add a bit of Horseradish sauce

· Garnish as desired with celery stick, lemon or lime wedge, or stuffed green olives.

What happens when you pray for an angel and get a vampire instead? Start with Gabe and Cailey's story in It's a Wonderful Undead Life and read the entire series. Laugh out loud, gasp in surprise, and let your heartstrings be tugged.

Buylinks: Amazon


or other fine online book outlets

Keep up with what I'm working on or contact me at remullins

or like my facebook page at Facebook