Wednesday, February 28, 2018

When It Doesn't Work, Change It by Kayelle Allen @kayelleallen #SciFi #Art

Our guest today has something for everyone. You'll enjoy her cover journey whether you're a reader or writer AND there's a freebie for EVERYONE! Let's welcome Kayelle Allen.

I spent months researching images and artists to make the best cover for my new book, Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire. When I found an artist whose work I liked, I asked questions and checked prices. Eventually, I found a super talented artist (Brumae), asked her to do it and was happy to pay her fee. She was easy to work with and did a wonderful job. I would hire her for other images in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, my idea of the perfect cover came across as more urban fantasy than science fiction. Everyone loved the art -- but it didn't work for the story.

I discovered the right cover entices readers to pick it up and have a closer look. Although the original was gorgeous and had beautiful artwork, the readers I was trying to reach were not picking it up. I had to admit I'd chosen the wrong part of the story to feature. Painful as it was, I had to make a change.

I chose a different image, one of a planet with extensive volcanic activity. The blues harmonized well with the first cover (here) and the reds fit the story's title, Forged in Fire. It has a sense of movement and life. It's uncluttered.

The phrase "Bringer of Chaos" is in a font called Sabotage, which you can get free on It absolutely fits the man known by that title.

So there you have it. Lovely cover. Not working. Changes made. What do you think of the new look? Feel free to leave a comment.

Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire

When the immortal Pietas is marooned on a barren world with no food and few survival tools, he knows it could be worse. He could be alone. But that's the problem. He's not.

Half a million of his people sleep in cryostasis, trapped inside their pods and it's up to Pietas to free them. He can't release one at a time. It's all or nothing. He's facing over five hundred thousand hungry, thirsty, homeless immortals who will call on him for rescue and he has no way to answer.

It's not all bad. The beautiful telepathic warrior he's loved for lifetimes is at his side. He's bonded with a sentient panther. He hates humans but the one dumped on this planet with him has become a trusted friend.

Before Pietas can build shelter, figure out how to grow food, or set up a government, he must take back command from a ruthless enemy he's fought for centuries. His brutal, merciless father.

Immortals may heal, but a wound of the heart lasts forever...

Amazon and in print. Free on Kindle Unlimited

Read a sample on the author's website


Here is a free adult coloring book to download and print, based on my character, Pietas. If you like dragons, you will love this. I hope you enjoy it! It contains both purchased and licensed images and original art.

Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She's a US Navy veteran who's been married so long she's tenured.
Join the Romance Lives Forever Reader Group Download four free books and get news about books coming soon. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Swim Lanes, Or How To Keep Order In Your Writing by Betsy Ashton

Nearly anyone who has worked as a consultant knows that projects are broken down into sections, with those sections broken down into smaller parts. In order to manage large projects, project managers draw up charts with sections listed along the left side and major tasks or milestones listed across the top. The same holds true for writing.

Normally, I begin on page one and write straight through until "The End." I don't care about the niceties of the story, just about getting the bones sketched out and words on paper. I am a self-confessed devotee of Ann Lamott's "shitty first draft." I only begin writing when I begin editing, moving parts around, worrying over every word, every sentence. That works for a linear novel, which
is what I usually write. I decided about a year ago to write a different form of novel. New for me, it's a novel in stories, or a series of linked stories that can stand alone if they want. That said, several different narrators tell their stories, often observing and commenting on the same actions, but from different points of view.

After I finished what I thought of as the really shitty first draft of eight stories, I put it aside for a week before going back for a reread. Oh, golly goodness, gee whiz. Three of the stories nearly knocked my socks off. The rest drew a big "meh." Holes all over the place, missing stories, overlapping material written nearly word for word in three stories. How did I go so far afield?

I didn't have an outline. I tried to write the way I always do, linearly. Doesn't work if your story isn't linear, but is more circular than anything. When the narrator of two stories commented on a letter, I put the letter verbatim in each story. So not needed. When I let one character comment on the situation but not read the letter until later, the conflict made sense.

I decided an outline wouldn't be enough. I needed SWIM LANES. Out came the old consultant's hat. Out came a flip chart. Out came Post-It notes and marking pens. And out came the manuscript in all its flawed glory. First, I needed to know what chapters I wanted. Then, I had to populate those chapters with characters. I had to be certain I didn't refer to a character introduced in a different story but not mentioned in the current one without some degree of introduction. I needed to know how old each character was, what year(s) the story covered, who else was in the story, and what the central conflict was.

Whew! The gaps became painfully obvious. One reader of a story asked why one character was so angry all the time. "What she always this bitchy?" Well, no, she wasn't, but circumstances overwhelmed her, turning her to vodka. To understand and empathize with her, I needed her backstory. Oh, my another chapter.

I had several pages of notes before I went to the flip chart. The first image here contains notes and suggestions, arrows and scratch-outs. Not easy to follow. The second image is a pencil chart of what I thought I needed.  At that time, I needed to know what year a chapter took place in and how old the central and ancillary characters were. Still not enough. The image of the flip chart is what I'm using now. I can take a quick glance, move a sticky note around, move a chapter around, all without messing up anything.

If all this works, the book, Out of the Desert, will be out toward the end of the year. I hope.
This is my story about how the novel in stories is progressing. I'm sticking to it. I'll keep you up to date as things progress. Until them, write away, write now.

Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max Mystery series, Unintended Consequences, Uncharted Territory, and Unsafe Haven. She is also the author of the stand-alone psychological suspense novel, Eyes Without A Face. Her works appear in several anthologies, including 50 Shades of Cabernet. She resides at Smith Mountain Lake, VA.

Monday, February 26, 2018

there are stories everywhere

As I write this, I am recovering from major surgery (hip replacement). I've had one other major surgery in my life, but I didn't stay overnight in a hospital for that one.

The thing I found fascinating about this event was the reliance on computer technology. Everything was barcoded -- me, my drugs, my IV fluids. All my pills came in wee tiny plastic bags with bar codes and they were scanned before being given to me. Whatever was injected into the IV line was wanded. Somewhere (and I'm sure I'll see it sometime soon) is an itemized list of what all those things cost.

Everything went fine and I'm working on the Recovery phase now. I hope to get back to writing in a day or two. For now, though, I'm taking advantage of the Invalid Phase and am lolling around the house and relaxing. I've jotted down some notes about my hospital visit to use in an upcoming book and am making notes about these crazy drugs I'm supposed to take. I can see a way to make that bar code thing work for me in a plot...


Sunday, February 25, 2018

The New Golden Age of Women #Crime #Writers by Teresa Inge

Roses and Readers, please welcome Teresa Inge to our blog today. And be sure to leave a comment for your chance at her giveaway.

The history of female crime writers is a long, undervalued profession. Many of the women who paved the way for today’s fiction writers are no longer in print, with the exception of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Parker, and Patricia Highsmith. Those who remain in print are generally from the British tradition of detective fiction, rather than American noir. Others who helped develop the genre have found a home in classics, genre fiction, and literary fiction.

During the golden age of crime fiction, stories were written about femme fatales who lured men to their doom with a seductive approach. Hard women with sharp tongues became the norm, often written by men. But when Dorothy B. Hughes wrote In a Lonely Place, it became groundbreaking when Hughes got inside the head of a war veteran, serial killer who preyed on young woman. With the introduction of a beautiful neighbor and the astute wife of a police detective, Hughes’ story gained two powerful women.

This spurred momentum to how female crime writers crafted their stories with strong women leads. Along with the feminist movement, the time period brought diversification of women and contributed to crime books written by Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, and Sara Paretsky.
Which leads to today’s crime writers. Take Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl that told a cruel tale of marriage and murder in which the female protagonist killed for no other reason than self-validation. The book sold millions of copies.

But modern-day female crime writers generally tend to write crime novels with more relatable characters and empathy. They write strong female protagonists and don’t believe much in heroes, which makes their storytelling light on gunplay and heavy on emotional violence. This makes their writing a better fit for current times.

Today, women crime fiction writers are here to stay since the momentum continues with more diversification of voices in regards to ethnicity and class. This movement has taken a further approach with mysteries being written by women and read by women.


Leave a comment for a chance at receiving a copy of 50 Shades of Cabernet.  

50 Shades of Cabernet – A collection of short stories, each blending a mystery and a glass of Cabernet.

Love the Wine You’re With – written by Teresa Inge in 50 Shades of Cabernet

“Get up, Em!” Jules Riley yelled at her sister passed out on the couch.
Em opened her eyes and rubbed her throbbing head. “What time is it?”
“Five o’ clock. You’ve been hungover all day.”
Em twisted her aching body into a vertical position. “How did you get in here anyway?”
“The door was unlocked… I’m serious, Em. You missed a big event today.” Jules was regretting hiring her sister to coordinate events for her event-planning business.
Em ran her hand through her long blonde hair.
Jules pushed a pair of stilettos, earrings, an empty bottle of cabernet and a Post-It note to the back of the couch and sat. She snatched the note, read it, then slapped it against Em’s arm.
Em grabbed the Post-It. “Jax broke up with me?”
“Yes, another boyfriend sick of your partying.”
Em slumped on the couch. “My life sucks! My boyfriend dumped me on a Post-It, and all I do is plan events that I don’t enjoy and book trips that I don’t take. Ugh!”
“That’s what we do. We plan events for our clients and not for us to party. Now listen up. You need to be at Virtually Yours by three o’clock tomorrow for the wine tasting.” Jules turned toward the door. “And clean this place up. It reeks of wine.”
About the author:
Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Combining her love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and a novel.
Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol but she hot rods. If she’s not signing books, she is assisting two busy executives at a financial firm, attending a car show with her husband, or serving as president of the Sisters in Crime, Mystery by the Sea chapter in Chesapeake, Virginia. Visit Teresa at
Buy Link  AMAZON

Teresa Inge:

Twitter: @teresainge7 / publisher: @koehlerbooks

Book Cover (attached to email)

Author Photo (attached to email)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

#PayItForward by Brenda Whiteside

The other day, I was at the store and my total came to $9.04. I handed the guy the $9 then got into my coin coins. The lady behind me said "I've got 4 pennies" and paid the man. I know it was only pennies, but really nice of her to keep me from breaking a $20. I did this once for someone else who was short about thirty cents. This is paying it forward in two ways: niceness and cash.

A woman in the RV Ranch had a stroke. The day before she was to come home from physical therapy, a neighbor brought over some wood and built her a beautiful steps and landing combination in front of the door. She needed an area by the door to get her walker out. He definitely paid it forward.

Free Stock
Months back, when I got to the window to pay for my coffee, the cashier told me the car in front of me had bought my drink. How nice!

Doing little things, just for the heck of it, really touches me. Paying it forward. Have you ever paid it forward? Have you ever been the recipient?

Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Currently, they split their time between the Lake Roosevelt basin in Central Arizona and the pines in the north. Wherever Brenda opens her laptop, she spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love entangled with suspense.

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

Friday, February 23, 2018

#amwriting, Yes…But There’s More by Margo Hoornstra

Most publishers, The Wild Rose Press which is mine included, ask their authors to fill out Manuscript Information and Cover Art Sheets to accompany completed manuscripts. In my case, for the recently released On The Surface. Book 1 in the Brothers In Blue series.

The Manuscript Information Sheet is self-explanatory and contains pretty cut and dried information such as the dedication, praise and reviews, blurb, excerpt, brief author bio and keywords. I won’t bore you with the details of those items except for the last one. Keywords. For On The Surface, I chose rebel hero, framed heroine, secrets and betrayal.

The Cover Art Sheet, obviously used by the artist to design the cover, can be a little trickier to complete in that it makes you think about your manuscript beyond the main characters and story itself.

Starting out, providing physical descriptions of the hero and heroine, is easy enough and can be as simple as blonde hair, blue eyes, slim build, and such. Casual to formal dress. Jeans, tank tops and T-shirts. That kind of thing.

Then there’s time period, season and setting. Again, easy peasy. “Present time/contemporary. Spring through Summer at the Rest Easy Bed and Breakfast on fictional Cascade Lake, a resort town in Northern Michigan. Also, some scenes take place in Metro Detroit.”

Next up is tone of the book. In this case, I entered “Deception, concealed identities. All is not what or whom, they seem with the undertone of big city crime set on the backdrop of a beautiful resort town bed and breakfast.”

Then we come to the question of what is the most important element of a book cover? Person, place or object? Animal? Couple? If couple, in what pose? I take that to mean what is the main component that explains what you’ve written? My reply was “A landscape of a lake. The title, On The Surface, refers to the deceit of the hero and heroine regarding each other and their relationship.”

Final question. What is the story really about? After months of writing, re-writing, editing and re-editing the story this should be a piece of cake, right? Not necessarily. Following much deliberation, I came up with “Deception and pursuit of vengeance by the hero. Independence from an abuser for the heroine.”

Whew! Done and done!

As many of you know, this is the finished product. And I must say I’m thrilled with the result.

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

And please note. If I don't respond to comments right away, I'm away from my desk for a while.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

When the #amwriting voices aren’t just in your head ~ by Leah St. James

Piggy-backing off Jannine’s post the other day about how BURIED TRUTH came about, I thought I’d share something that happened to me a few years ago at my day job. It hasn’t made its way into a published book yet, but it’s definitely in the works.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I work for a local news organization. We publish the daily newspaper for our area. It’s not uncommon for visitors to stop into our lobby to get help with their accounts or to share “news.” (Once a woman stopped by to tell us she saw a cloud formation in the shape of Jesus. Another time a woman brought by an oddly shaped sweet potato.)  But sometimes the messages visitors bring really make me think. Like this instance...

Receptionist on the phone: "Leah? There's a ... gentleman in the lobby. He wants to speak with someone in the newsroom about a...uh...a story he wants published."

Me (sighing, not too subtly):  "Really? I'm so busy. Can you take his name and number? Or tell him to leave a copy?"

Receptionist:  "He won't leave until he speaks to someone personally." (Big pause while I tried to figure out a way to squirm out of the request.) Then she whispered, "He said God told him to come."

Me: "God? As in, you know, the guy heaven, I mean?"

Receptionist: "Yes. God. THE God."

Me:  "I'll be down in a minute."

I'm not sure why I gave in so easily, relatively speaking, but I went downstairs and introduced myself to the man. He was maybe in his mid-60s and called himself "Golden Boy." He proceeded to tell me he'd done terrible things in his life. Because of his choices, he'd lost his wife and his children. (Thankfully he clarified that they were estranged, not dead.) He'd been to jail and served time for serious crimes.   

While he spoke, his eyes remained on mine, steadily, without a blink. 

In his hand he held a laminated sheet of pinkish-purple notepaper. At the top of the sheet he'd written, "God said," followed by a series of sentence fragments, prophecies of the end of the world by means of cataclysmic natural events, exhorting the reader to publish. He handed it to me and watched while I read it.

My insides churned.  I looked up from the page. "I don't understand. Why did you bring this here?"   
Man: "The word needs to get out."

Me:  "I'm sorry, sir. We can't publish this."

Man: "I didn't say I wanted it published in the paper. I said I wanted the word to get out. I don't care what you do with it. God told me to bring it here. I'm looking in your eyes. I can see you understand. You do with it what you will."

With that, he turned to leave, looking back as he shouldered the door open. "God put it in your hands now. You're the one."

Even now as I think of that moment, shivers skitter up my spine.

When I told the editor about it, she asked me why I hadn't called security. I said, "He seemed harmless enough. It's not like he was going to kill me with paper cuts."

"Leah," she said with a kind of tone she typically reserves for a misbehaving puppy, "if someone comes in the lobby and says God sent him and that you're the one, call security."

I know she's right. And I know I'm terribly gullible at times. But the writer in me loves those encounters, the ones that wrap themselves around our imaginations and form the roots of our stories. The encounters with strangers that make us ask, “What if?”

What if God had sent him?

What if it was God's nudging that made me go down that day?

What if there is some message in there we were  supposed to impart to the world? (See my imagination running amok here!?)

I haven’t heard from him since, but judging by the natural disasters that have taken place in the years since, he might have been on to something.

Just thinking about it now, my brain is going in a dozen different directions that make me want to start writing, start shaping those thoughts into a story...enough so I’m tempted to put aside my long-suffering WIP to get started! Maybe I’ll use it as incentive instead: Leah, you can work on the “You’re the One” story ONLY WHEN you finish your current WIP.” Who knows, it might work!


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil, and the power of love. She blogs here on the 6th and 22nd of each month.  Learn more about her writing at or visit her on Facebook.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

#amwriting Back to work by Barbara Edwards

I’m working on my manuscript. It’s been a challenge. I finally feel like I’m back in a routine and my computer dies a horrible death. Drowned in my husband’s cup of coffee.

While it was being replaced, I used a legal pad and a pen to write.
I think I will keep using a pad. It was freeing. 

I had gotten in the habit of taking my computer with me, but it’s often difficult to read the screen or just hold it on my lap. Typing while on the road is awkward.

So I have incorporated writing on the pad, then the next day adding that to my manuscript. It has returned me to a successful routine. I add the previous day’s work, correct any errors and go forward from there.

This might not work for you, but it is getting me back in the groove.

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

You never know where research will lead. #Hippofarts #TimeWaste #LOL

               Why I'll never be a prolific writer...

With great interest I read writing tips from other authors. "Such great advice," I say as I jot down a few notes. "I must start doing this." They fill me with admiration. I marvel at how others have mastered their time. I mentally chastise my own lack of organization and diligence.

If I could be that dedicated...I sit back and envision all my success. I'd easily triple my daily word count and be able to finish books in record time.

Filled with renewed determination, I open Word where I'm ready to start the next scene. It will begin on a dramatic note. 

Here is a brief synopsis of what is in this next chapter:

    Buffeted by a growing storm, Justin, my stalwart vampire-hero, searches for the surly, teenage neophyte his brother dumped on him. Gwyndolyn's taken off in a snit and while the solitary Justin would like to let her go, it isn't that easy. Council Law forbids the turning of one so young, and this leaves him in a quandry. Until he can figure out what to do, he knows the only way to protect Gwyn and his lawbreaking brother is to keep her out of sight. 
    He catches up with her right as she is breaking too many laws to count. Evidently, a woman tumbled off the craggy cliff running along the Amber River. Gwyndolyn, for her own selfish reasons, had decided to save her by making her a vampire too.  
    Unfortunately, her neophyte blood is too weak to complete the transformation. The woman has been left 'stunted' or stuck in a void between the human and vampire worlds. Justin could let her die. It would be the logical thing to do and would prevent many forseeable problems. Even as he has the thought, he knows he will do all he can to save her.
    But time is running out as a funnel cloud descends from the sky...

So this is where I'm at in the story. I start thinking about tornadoes and how I want to describe this one. Ah, research. Such an invaluable a tool and my absolute favorite time waster. Youtube, here I come for all your fascinating clips. I watch and listen to various cyclones in progress.  

Then I stumble upon this and have to watch it several times as I'm just that warped.

There are 5 different entries showing variations of Hippo Breaking Wind Sounds Like Tornado. By the time I watched each and every one, I was out of writing time.  

I'll try to be more organized tomorrow. Still laughing, I go to attend to other things.

Author of The Blautsaugers of Amber Heights Series
It's A Wonderful Undead Life
Vampire In The Scrying Glass
A Vampire To Be Reckoned With
Cold Hearted Vampire
Diaper Duty Vampire - novella bridging gap between The Blautsaugers of Amber Heights Series and the new Vampires of Amber Heights Series. 

Unrelated: Back to Hell a novella written for Kindle Worlds.

Buylinks: AMAZON
                THE WILD ROSE PRESS
                BARNES & NOBLE NOOK
                APPLE Itunes

Monday, February 19, 2018

How Not to Fail by Alicia Dean

I have limited time to write, so I have to figure out how to make the time I have productive, and how to not be overwhelmed by all I'd like to accomplish. I read two articles recently, and one was a blog post by our own Diane Burton. The first article was about creating a 'writing ritual' similar to the superstitious rituals that baseball players go through. Although, in this case, the ritual is more about forming a habit that links to your writing. I love the sound of rain and the smell of coffee. So, I decided that would be my ritual. Thanks to modern technology, there are limitless Youtube videos of rain sounds. The below is one of my favorites, because it is accompanied by a crackling fire...

I also bought coffee beans and I carry them around in an empty spice bottle, and I have them sitting on my computer desk.

The blog post Diane wrote that helped me was about dividing the word count of the manuscripts you wish to complete this year by the number of days left in the year. It somehow makes the projects seem manageable, easy even. I did this on January 5th. My goal this year is to complete four novels and two novellas. When I divided the word count, it came out to 1,055 words per day. About the equivalent of one scene. I can EASILY write one scene per day. Brilliant, right?

That was the fantasy. Here is the reality. I have almost no time to write. Of course, I realize I must MAKE the time, so that's no excuse. The awesome ritual I planned? I've done it maybe 3 times. It DID work, though. It helped me get in the zone, and I know that if I did it daily for at least two weeks, it would become a habit, and I would be more productive.  And the nifty little dividing word count thing? I did that on January 5th, as mentioned above. And, I have only completed maybe 1 or 2 scenes since. The calculations are useless if you don't actually WRITE.

However, I'm not giving up. I recalculated and, to my pleasant surprise, with the projects and the days left in the year, I only have to write 1,142 words per day. I like to think of word count as 'scenes' and my scenes average 1,000 words. SO, that's still just a little over 1 scene per day. I'm going to call it 2 scenes per day so I can be ahead of the game, and also allow time for revisions. And, on weekends and days off my paycheck job, I can write MORE than 2 scenes.

I am determined not to fail. I will get up earlier in order to reach my goal. Or whatever it takes. The only way I will fail, is if I stop trying. By 'not failing' I am not saying I will definitely complete the four novels and two novellas. I am saying I will not stop trying to complete them. And, if I do that, I have not failed.

Do you have any rituals, tips or advice on being productive?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Where Book Ideas Come From by Jannine Gallant

Vonnie recently posted an entertaining story about a dream bear that sparked her Bear Shifter series. Alas, I've never had characters appear in my dreams to demand their tales be told. That got me to thinking about what does inspire my stories. First of all, my stories begin with a plot not a character. When I'm pondering a new series, my mind turns to that all important question: What if this happened? But how does an author get to this? For me, real life events can trigger that question. A couple of years ago, I was walking Ginger in the spring when the snow was starting to melt out of the woods. She took off as she likes to do and was digging furiously some distance off the trail. I yelled for her, and she finally came back with a long stick in her mouth. At least I thought it was a stick...until I noticed the hoof on the end of it! EWWWW doesn't begin to reflect my thoughts as I screamed at her to drop it. Some poor deer had been eaten by something (probably a mountain lion), and the remains had been buried by snow all winter. Of course my writer mind clicked into motion, and I couldn't help thinking: What if it was a human femur instead of a deer? Out of that notion, a scene from BURIED TRUTH was born along with the gruesome reason a person had been buried in the woods.

But that was only part of the plot--a crime that had happened in the past. Why would there be danger in the present for my hero and heroine to contend with unless the perpetrators of the old crime felt threatened? How could something that happened years before pose an immediate threat? Those were the questions I asked myself as I mulled possibilities. Something incriminating had to be found, something the guilty party wanted back. My mind did a few mental gymnastics, and I came up with the idea of a time capsule. What better hiding place for a roll of film with incriminating photos than in a time capsule that would be safely buried for the next hundred years? Except my heroine and her classmates decide to unearth their fifth grade time capsule after only twenty years and have a reunion party to reminisce over the contents. The plot to BURIED TRUTH was born.

I believe all authors have their own unique process for coming up with book ideas. Our minds work differently, after all. My characters evolve from my plots as I decide "who" would best fit into the suspense scenario. The "who" determines the romance plot to go with the suspense, and putting together the two in a meaningful way is how I form my books. So now you have it, a look into the scary place that is my mind! LOL

If you want to see what happens after that time capsule is dug up, pick up a paperback copy of BURIED TRUTH at your local Barnes & Noble or download the digital version at Amazon or Apple iBooks. For an exclusive prologue that shows the origins of the twenty year old crime, pick up a copy at KOBO. All links are also on my WEBSITE. Happy reading!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Seasons of the Sun by Betsy Ashton

With the darker days of late winter settling in, with snow/sleet/icy rain falling, and with a kitty who is bored out of her freakin' mind but won't go out and get her paws wet, I offer four haiku to brighten your hearts.


Whites, browns, yellows, blacks
Screeching, shoving—
Gang warfare @ the bird feeder.

Gently rocking waves
Lull one to sleep—
The nose peels.

Apple, cherry, pumpkin
Pies in the oven—
Time for the gym.

Ice-shrouded world
One slippery step—
Technicolor moon.

And on that last note, watch your steps, ya' hear?

Friday, February 16, 2018

#amwriting When You Quit Trying, You Lose by Diane Burton

Do you get notices of bargain books from BookBub? A couple of days ago, I saw a book titled
You Don’t Lose ‘Til You Quit Trying by Sammy Lee Davis with Caroline Lambert. It’s about the wartime experiences of a Vietnam Vet and Medal of Honor Recipient. That title caught my attention.

How many times have you wanted to quit writing (or any other major undertaking)? Doubts and insecurities abound with us writers. There’s even an online group called Insecure Writers Support Group where once a month we blog about what’s making us insecure and/or advice on how to overcome difficulties.

Yesterday, I pulled together my 1099s, royalties for 2017. I knew it hadn’t been a good year. I didn’t realize how bad. I used to get my 2017 total in one month! I didn’t even get a 1099 from one venue because I hadn’t earned $10. That got me questioning why I do it. Why am I hitting my head against that brick wall called earning income through writing?

Oh sure, I write because I enjoy writing. Usually. With the exception of the first two weeks of January, when I was going gangbusters, I’ve slogged along on my WIP. Some days, I haven’t written anything. Instead, I’ve binged-watched Netflix. Or taken naps when I should be writing. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. It’s my way of dealing with what’s probably winter depression. When the sun doesn’t shine for days on end; when it snows for ten days straight; when it’s too cold to go outside and when I do every joint hurts. Yeah, that can make anyone depressed.

Part of my problem with my WIP is in mid-January I changed horses. Oops, that should have read changed stories. I started the new year writing the fourth in my Alex O’Hara series. I knew exactly how it should begin. I knew the ending and most of the middle. Easy to write. When I was done writing one day, I thought about another project, one that was 80% finished. I reasoned that I should finish it first, so I would get something out sooner. I’m sure you all know that revising an older manuscript is harder than writing fresh. If not, I can vouch for it. Not only does the manuscript need updating (technology, especially), I’ve learned a lot in the intervening twelve years. Sentence structure, repetitive words and phrases, unnecessary backstory. Reading and fixing all that means a low daily word count, which I find also depressing. (Maybe I should count pages completed instead.)

Why not go back to the Alex O’Hara story, you may ask. I’m committed to this new/old romantic suspense. It’s a good story. It’s funny in places, seriously tense in others. A good romance develops. Besides, I’m sharing tidbits every weekend on Weekend Writing Warriors. On Mondays, I’m sharing character sketches. Dropping that story now isn’t a good idea.

Neither is quitting altogether, even though that’s going through my mind. Practical Hubs asks if it’s worth the time and energy to earn so little. He has a point. If I do quit, will that make me a loser, like in the Vet’s story title?

Can Spring come soon enough?

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. Except this month. See you in March.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

OG's #Valentine by Alison Henderson

So, Valentine's Day was yesterday. Did you celebrate big? Little? In between?

In the nearly thirty-five years OG and I have been married, I don't think we've ever been out to dinner on Valentine's Day. We generally avoid restaurants on any big "dine out" occasion. I believe the worst meal I've ever paid for was a Mother's Day Brunch several years ago at a hot new restaurant. The kitchen was overwhelmed by the volume, and the food tasted like it had been prepared at least the day before, if not earlier, and it probably had. Nor do I recall exchanging Valentine gifts, although that might have happened at some time in our early years. 

My point is, we're not big celebrators. A card, a decent (or maybe better, if I'm inspired) meal at home, and that's about it.

This year was no exception. I got OG this card.

The inscription reads: You are the stars in my sky, you are my everything. Nice, right? I usually buy him funny cards, but for Valentine's Day I go all-out romantic. 

Because I have a bumper crop of ripe lemons at the moment, I made him Lemon Chicken Piccata--one of his favorite dishes--with asparagus. The big treat was desert--#Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Mmmm.

If you haven't made homemade ice cream, there's nothing like it. Here's the recipe I used from

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart 
30 min 
4 hr


    • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
    • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
    • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 3 large eggs
    • Equipment: an ice cream maker


    1. Heat 1 cup sugar in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber.
    2. Add 1 1/4 cups cream (mixture will spatter) and cook, stirring, until all of caramel has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sea salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
    3. Meanwhile, bring milk, remaining cup cream, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally.
    4. Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then add half of hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, then stir in cooled caramel.
    5. Chill custard, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours. Freeze custard in ice cream maker (it will still be quite soft), then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up.
  1. Try it. You'll be amazed!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Getting Stuck with #Valentine’s Day by Christine DePetrillo

I always get stuck posting on Valentine’s Day and I don’t like Valentine’s Day. I’ve decided this year to treat you all to an excerpt of characters on their way to being in love instead of a rant on why I think Valentine’s Day is dumb. You’re welcome.


From More Than Pancakes, Book One in The Maple Leaf Series, #FREE in ebook everywhere…

Rick pulled up a chair to the boxes of books Hope and Sage had left in the store by the display shelves. Poe took up residence on the floor beside him and sniffed all the corners of the closest box. He began loading the books on the shelves, turning some of the covers outward so customers could get a good look at them. He didn’t spend a lot of time in the store when customers were in there. He preferred a more behind the scenes involvement in the business and that was part of what had made him not so successful in New York. He liked dealing with the equipment, the actual trees, the land as well as the financial side. Running the business from the city had only allowed him to crunch the numbers and collect the profits. Maybe some folks liked that hands-off approach, but not Rick. He wanted to smell the melting winter, the blooming spring, and the boiling sap.

As he continued stacking books, Poe padded to the door and woofed once at it.

“No customers today, Poe. Not yet.” 

She barked again at the door and as she sat by it, a soft knock echoed in the store. Rick put down the books he had in his lap and limped to the nearest window. A Jeep he didn’t recognize was in front of the store along with footprints in the remaining patch of snow. The knock came again, but he couldn’t see who was at the door. He contemplated not answering as he often did when the phone rang, but figured it wouldn’t waste much time to explain the store wasn’t open yet.

He ambled to the door, resting his hand on the tables as he passed by without the cane. As he neared the door, another knock sounded.

“Okay, okay,” he said. “I’m coming.” He cursed his slowness and hoped he’d be rid of the cast soon. Not likely, judging by the ache, but a man could hope.

He reached the door and pulled it open. What was standing on the other side of it made him forget his own name.

A woman. Not much shorter than him with reddish-blond hair that brushed her shoulders and curled about a face meant for makeup commercials. Her skin had a wonderful glow he’d never seen on any native Vermonter, and her eyes were blue-green jewels. Slim, black jeans spanned down two long, shapely legs and disappeared into brown, knee-high leather boots that belonged on a runway not on his partly muddy, partly snowy doorstep. The rust-colored dress coat that hung to her thighs also seemed out of place in this setting, but not out of place on her. The woman was perfection in that coat, and the cream-colored scarf she had looped around her neck fascinated Rick.

Poe barked and the woman jumped. “Is that a coyote?” Her voice, soft yet assertive, matched her delicate mouth and intense eyes, but she looked as if she were ready to run for her vehicle.

“Yeah, but she won’t hurt you. She’s been raised to think she’s a big hamster.” What is this woman doing here? Then the pieces fell into place in his mind. “You’re one of Hope or Sage’s friends, right?” That had to be it, but he didn’t remember ever seeing this one. He didn’t think he could forget her if he had seen her. God, she was tall.

“No,” she said. “I don’t know Hope or Sage. I’m looking for whoever signed this.” She pulled an envelope out of her shoulder bag and rifled through it. While keeping a wary eye on Poe, she handed Rick one of the documents, and he scanned it quickly.

“You’re looking for me then.” Why did that make something in his stomach tighten?

“You’re the neighbor? You knew Gail Hinsdale?” A section of snow slid off the roof and landed in a pile about a foot away from the woman. She stumbled back and threw a glance all around her, almost dropping the envelope in the process.

“Come in,” Rick said, though he hadn’t remembered consciously deciding to invite her inside.

“Thank you.” She knocked the mud and snow off her boots and squeezed past him into the store. She smelled like grapefruit and coconut and sunshine. Like something far too exotic to be here with him. “Could you…” She motioned to Poe and made a shooing gesture with her gloved hand.

“Sure. C’mon, Poe.” Rick smacked his thigh and shuffled toward the kitchen behind the pastry case. He pushed open the door and guided Poe in. She whimpered on the other side when she realized he’d locked the door.

Poor girl. Rick felt like a big, fat meany.

“I appreciate that. Wild animals unsettle me.” The woman pulled off her leather gloves to reveal long, slim fingers with nails polished a deep crimson.

“She’s not wild,” Rick said. 

“Right. Tell that to her teeth.” The woman dropped the envelope on one of the tables and unlooped the scarf to expose a slender neck. She turned in a tight circle to survey the store. What was she thinking? She obviously came from a place where the stores didn’t look like his.

“You knew Gail Hinsdale?” She leveled her gaze on Rick, then flicked a glance down to his ankle. “Do you want to sit down?”

“I think I’m supposed to ask you that.” He indicated the chair across from the one he currently had a death grip on.

She slid the chair out and sat on it, but just on the edge, not like she meant to stay for any length of time. This saddened Rick, because for the first time in his life, he didn’t have the urge to get rid of company.

He eased onto the opposite chair, and the muscles in his entire body relaxed as the pressure was taken off his ankle. The woman noticed.

“What happened there?” She peeked under the table.

“Snowshoeing incident.” He shrugged, determined not to explain any further though the woman waited a moment as if he might. “How is Gail? I haven’t seen her in a little while.”

The woman’s lips twisted down at the corners, and Rick had this ridiculous urge to scoot over to her side of the table and… and do something.

“Gail died.” Those piercing blue-green eyes grew watery. “My grandmother is gone.”

“I’m so sorry,” Rick said. “She was real generous with allowing me to tap her trees. Nearly doubled my productivity.” He had reaped nothing but benefits from his arrangement with Gail Hinsdale. One of the smartest, healthiest business moves he’d ever made. 

“She left me the property.” The woman extended her hand. “I’m Lily Hinsdale.”

Taking her hand in his and noting how cold her fingers were, he said, “Rick Stannard.” He looked at the envelope again. “Are you thinking of moving to the property?”

At this, Lily let out a loud laugh. “Moving to Vermont? Are you serious? I don’t want to be here right now, never mind live here.” She brushed her hair out of her face with a shaky finger.

“What’s wrong with Vermont?” Rick asked. It was the perfect place as far as he was concerned.

“Umm, everything.” Lily stretched her magnificent legs out to the side of the table and peered down at her boots. Cringing, she knocked her heels together letting caked mud drop to the floor. “Vermont is no California.”

California, of course. That explained the tan and the fashion. And the disgust for mud.

“Vermont has a lot to offer.” Why did he feel the need to defend his fair state? Why did he want this woman to like Vermont?

“I’m sure, but I’m… high maintenance. Don’t have any real love for flannel or fleece. And don’t get me started about the woods.” She peeled off her coat revealing a fluffy brown sweater that ruffled at the collar and the wrists. Rick had never seen a sweater that fancy.

“The woods are the best part of Vermont,” he said.

“The woods are Hell.”

“I’ll bet I could change your mind about that.” Had he stepped out of his body? Who was this guy, talking to this woman, and actually picturing himself leading her on a hike in the thawing woods?

Lily regarded him for a silent moment, and for once, he didn’t like the quiet. What was she thinking? Probably that I’m the exact opposite of every guy she knows in California.

“No. I’m certain the woods and I don’t mix. Anyway, I’m here about the property, not to discuss the nonexistent finer points of this forgotten realm known as Vermont.” She brushed at her hair again, and the trembling in her hand was still there. Why was she so nervous? “I have a proposition for you.”

“Yes, I’ll buy the land from you.” He’d wanted to do that before Gail had constructed her fortress on the property, but he hadn’t had the money then. He had it now thanks to her letting him lease her maple trees and his barn-building business.

“Oh, umm, no. I don’t want to sell the property to you,” Lily said. “I want to sell it to another buyer and buy yours.”

Curious about Rick’s reaction to Lily’s proposition? Download MoreThan Pancakes, Book One in The Maple Leaf Series, for #FREE.    Amazon   Other Retailers  

If you like it, review it. If you don’t like it, read it again. I’m sure you missed something.

And Happy Valentine's Day... you know, if you're into such things.