Saturday, March 31, 2018

#NA vs #YA and #Sex by Leslie Scott

Our guest today is Leslie Scott. Please welcome her and help her shake off her nerves.

Hello Roses! I’m going to skip the lengthy introduction and just say that I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mom, and my debut romance novel released last December.

I debated what to blog about here because admittedly I’m more than a bit intimidated.  I’ll shake the nerves off as I go, so be on the lookout for flying bits of anxiety.  You see, when I first signed my contract (almost a year ago today) my critique partner (who is priceless to me) wrote a post about me right here on this very blog. ~ waves at Vonnie ~

The Finish Line is the first of my Arkadia Fast Series, which centers around a small Texas town where street racing is not just the pastime—but a way of life. The Finish Line, the as yet to be released Hot Lap, and the in progress Full Tilt Boogie are all New Adult romances—which brings me to what I’m going to discuss today: I don’t write YA.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a fellow romance writer turn to me and say “Oh, you write YA, right?” I usually just smile and say yes because I don’t want to stop and explain how my novels aren’t Young Adult and that there is a difference.

When most people think Young Adult, they think children—teenagers. Which, New Adult is not. The age difference is the biggest difference. Contemporary romance usually starts with an adult character, established in life. YA is angsty teenagers in the throes of firsts love. NA is a new beginning, those first days of college life or striking out on your own for the very first time.

In YA romance novels, characters are figuring out who they are going to be and what the world has to offer them. In NA, the characters know who they are and are exploring the world and their place in it.
My heroines are college aged, free to make all the mistakes and bad decisions that would often leave a contemporary heroine called TSTL. Though, I tend to think my ladies rectify all the bad decisions—with the help of a bad boy hero.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room—sex. Young Adult, generally, is not known for graphic sex. New Adult has sex and the rollercoaster of emotions that comes along with it. And believe me, with a college aged heroine

So, if you’ve stayed away from New Adult thinking it’s YA—don’t. Trust me the genre is not the same. But, if you’re a fan of YA you’ll certainly find some similarities. At the end of the day, New Adult Romance is its own genre—one that much like its characters is trying to find its place in the romance world. There are a lot of talented authors writing about—as Vonnie Davis calls them “these damn kids”—who aren’t really kids at all. You’ll find on the conflict, spice, and happy endings you find with a contemporary romance—just in a different voice. Check one out!

Twitter: @leslieSwrites

The Finish Line on Amazon:
The Finish Line on Barnes and Noble:

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Man At The Top Of The Mountain by Diane Burton

The man at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there. ~ Vince Lombardi, Jr.

So how did the man get to the top? Hard work. He put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. That’s the same way to write a book, one word after another.

In past posts, we’ve talked about our different styles of writing. Some writers outline, other write by the seat of their pants. I’m a linear thinker. Usually, I begin at the beginning and write through to the end. Except once.

My current WIP was the exception. I knew writers who wrote scenes out of order. I tried that. What a mess. (For me.) I’m sure it works for others. Writing scenes as they hit me led to chaos, especially as I tried to make sense of those scenes fifteen years later. As I said, a mess.

The fun thing about this experience is that I’m coming down the homestretch. As of yesterday, I have less than 10,000 words to finish. I remember writing the end scene. Could I find it? Heck, no. Eventually, I discovered an “outline” where I’d written the last scene as if telling the end. I knew I’d written it. Now I need to rewrite it, showing not telling.

Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, shares the advice her father gave her brother when overwhelmed by a homework assignment about birds. He said to take it bird by bird.

It’s exciting to realize I’m so close to the end. I’m not celebrating yet. That’s usually when the bottom drops out. So I’m putting one foot in front of the other. I’m going to reach the top—not by falling, but by working hard, by taking it bird by bird.


A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that--an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

When vandals destroy Jack’s condo Maggie is convinced she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack leave behind?

While waiting for this romantic suspense to be released, you can read snippets every weekend on my blog for Weekend Writing Warriors.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Spring Selfie by Mackenzie Crowne

As a woman with a clear memory of the first moon landing, I consider it an accomplishment that I even know what a selfie is, never mind having mastered the art taking one. Okay, just kidding. Well, maybe not about the taking one part. I haven't quite mastered the talent and usually end up cutting off most of my head, but the truth is, while I can be old school about some things, I raised two new millennial kids and I'm hip! J I'm also a romance author. I write stories for women of all ages, therefore I must keep abreast of what today's trends are so my stories are fresh and up to date. And speaking of a breast - I've understood the concept of a selfie since long before it was named word of the year a few years back. In fact, a selfie saved my life.

Yep, you read that right. If not for a selfie, I wouldn't be here. I'm talking about the original definition of the word of course - the breast self-exam - and it's the best gift I ever gave myself. So this spring, why not share the gift of life? Remind your friends and loved ones to do those selfies. Then go ahead and be a little selfish. Give yourself a selfie too.

This spring breast care reminder is brought to you by WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR NIPPLE? A survivor’s guide to navigating the breast cancer abyss with humor and hope. Available at Mac’s Amazon page.

When Mac isn’t reminding her friends to do life-saving self-exams, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like Meggy Calhoun, the heroine of THE BILLIONAIRE’S CON, available at Amazon and wherever e-books are sold.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

#Hockey #Romance #Series by Linda O'Conner

Today is guest day. Please enjoy the post by Linda O'Conner

Thanks so much for hosting me! I’m excited to share a sneak peek of Behind the Bench – Book 2 of my In the Game Hockey Romance series. It will be included in the Coming in Hot 2: Rescue Me Romance Collection – a contemporary and paranormal medical romance boxed set coming on April 18. To celebrate, I thought I’d share six fun facts about hockey!

1. Hockey pucks are three inches in diameter. They’re frozen before each game so that they don't bounce during the game. In the old days, they used frozen cow poop. Bet the goalies are happy with that upgrade!

2. If both of the team’s goalies are injured during a game, they can get anybody to play the position — even a fan! (What are the chances that a retired NHL goalie would be in the crowd? :D)

3. Goalies can’t cross the centre line. Former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ron Hextall was the first goaltender to score a goal by shooting the puck down the ice and into the other team’s net. 

4. Twelve women have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup, either as owners or team executives.

5. Canadian goaltender Manon Rhéaume was the first – and only –woman to play in the NHL. She laced up for two exhibition games with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

6. At the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Trent Evans embedded a loonie at centre ice to bring luck to Canada's men's and women's hockey teams. Both brought home gold – it was a lucky loonie! (We needed one at the 2018 games.:D Congrats to the USA Women’s team for winning gold this year!

Blurb for Behind the Bench
Dr. Danni Angelo is the team physician for the Clarington Quakes hockey team. She’s worked hard to earn the players’ respect, but the new coach, Trey Mason, is stirring things up, and Danni’s worried her job may be in jeopardy.

Trey finds Danni…distracting. Beauty, brains, and sexy moves on the ice have him uncomfortably attracted. He’s the new guy on the block. He has a reputation to build and a standard to set. The last thing he needs is a complication.

When the team spirals out of control and Danni and Trey get caught up in a drug scandal, things heat up on and off the ice. It’s a whole new game plan…Behind the Bench. 

Danni watched the tail end of the in-house broadcast of the news conference and flicked off the screen. How could you not be impressed with that? Trey Mason was confident and eloquent, and spoke in a relaxed and engaging way. The beach-bum blond hair, sculpted cheekbones, and easy smile would win over the non-hockey fans, and his passion and knowledge of the game would impress the followers. He had it all, and landing in a town like Clarington must be a dream come true. For him.
And a nightmare for her.
She had worked part-time as the team physician for the Clarington Earthquakes, Quakes for short, for the past three years. It had taken time to gain the players’ confidence. Being a female physician for a men’s hockey team hadn’t been easy, but she’d built a solid professional relationship.
She loved everything about the job – the energy of the games, working with high-level athletes, and a new clinic in a state-of-the-art arena. She certainly didn’t want it to change because of a new head coach.
Trey Mason couldn’t fire her. Theoretically. That would be up to the owners of the team. He could, however, make her life miserable. And if there was friction between them, it would affect the players, and ultimately, what affected the players influenced the owners. There were two other physicians who shared the job with her and a few more who would be eager to take it on.
He, on the other hand, could be set for a long run if he delivered half of what he’d promised today. She certainly hadn’t seen any charm when he’d walked into the pressroom, and yet it came out in spades when he spoke. She could only hope that her initial impression had been wrong, because between the two of them, it wasn’t likely that he’d be leaving any time soon. Bottom line – she needed to suck it up and get along with the new guy. She sighed. She hated sucking up. She’d thought she was done with that. Apparently not. She shook her head and gritted her teeth. Time to smile and play nice. 

Buy links:
Behind the Bench is part of the Coming in Hot: Rescue Me Romance Collection. It’s available for preorder for only 99cents. Coming April 17!

For a chance to win a Kindle Fire and a big box of books, enter the Coming in Hot: Rescue Me Rafflecopter: 

Linda O’Connor started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at the local home décor store. It turns out she loves writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician, and it shows up in her stories :D ). She hangs out at
Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Getting Inside Your Character's Skin by Betsy Ashton

Any of you who have read my work know I love writing in the first person singular. Why? Because I can get deeply inside a character and gaze out through her eyes. I can say "her," because so far all of my first-person works have had female main characters. I really like the narrowed lens of a singular point of view. I don't want to know more about what's going on beyond what my character sees, feels, smells, etc.

I've stayed with one character for a three-book series, the Mad Max Mystery series. Max is a grandmother, a youngish grandmother. She's smart, rich, sexy, and snarky when she needs to be. She's strong minded and strong willed, a force of nature not to be messed with, particularly when it comes to her family, extended and nuclear. She can go from mild-mannered to tiger mom in 3.5 seconds flat.

Max is as familiar to me as my own husband. I know what she thinks (not the I ever really know what my husband is thinking). I know what she carries in her Jimmy Choo handbag. I know what she keeps on her bedside table, on her bureau, in her medicine cabinet. I know what caliber of gun she carries.

Writing Max is as comfortable as sliding into a favorite bathrobe and pair of bunny slippers, until she does something that surprises me. As I said, writing from inside her head leads me places I hadn't anticipated. I can put her in a situation and get out of her way. Readers seem to like her, so I continue.

On a challenge, actually a dog-dog dare, I decided to leave the Max comfort zone and delve into the dark realities of a psychopath. At least, I think That Thing is a psychopath. She's not sure, and since she tells her own story in EYES WITHOUT A FACE, who am I to argue.

I had to do a ton of research into various personality disorders. She could have been a sociopath or a psychopath, except she denies she's either. She is a narcissist, because she thinks only she can get revenge for people who are victimized and can't stand up for themselves. She hates people who prey on the weak, women, children, the elderly. A compendium of our society. She thinks she's the only one who can get rid of the perpetrators, because justice is too slow for her liking. She might be a vigilante. She might not.

That Thing doesn't want you to put her in any kind of box, with or without bars. She refuses categorization. She acts with conviction and with a range of poisons, knives, and ice picks. She doesn't use guns. Too noisy. Harder to kill up close and personal. No exploding heads, either. Her kills are tidier.

How hard was it to write Mad Max and That Thing concurrently? Damned hard. One was easier. I took a break from dark personality disorders, until Max had to deal with a demented, delusional villain in UNSAFE HAVEN. Then, the personalities merged.

I've heard from readers of both books. They say I scared them with That Thing. Good. That means they got into the story and into her rationale. What they didn't like was rooting for the "bad guy." Actually rooted for That Thing.

Thank you. You got the book.


Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max Mystery series. Her stand-alone serial killer novel, EYES WITHOUT A FACE, is a departure from her normal fare.

Monday, March 26, 2018

What a difference a day makes

We had a snowstorm yesterday. 10" or so of snow, the wet, heavy stuff that happens in late winter. Whiteout conditions--the whole thing. I sat inside with an afghan on my lap and wrote most of the day. I am This Close >< to being back on schedule with my writing, but it's still a struggle some of the time.

But yesterday's weather has vanished and today: sun shining, roads are clear, snow on the ground (but it's melting like crazy). I drove to my sister's house today and counted 26 cars in the ditch on the 40-mile drive. Also 3 semi-trucks, one ass-over-teakettle and looking like a beetle that was upended with its legs waving in the air. Here in Iowa, we have some damn steep ditches on the side of the road, and one car was teetering on the brink of a huge drop (as in, 'you won't survive this one, kiddo; trust me'). I'll bet that driver exited the vehicle extremely cautiously.

Weather like this is a good reminder that there is a new day lurking around the corner. No matter what is thrown at us today, tomorrow might be better. It might be worse, too, but it might be better. Gray might be replaced by blue, writer's block might be replaced by productivity (see how I snuck that bit in there about writing?), and spring might be around the corner (I can see it--it's hiding, but I think it's there).

So hang in there -- you never know what might happen in 24 hours, give or take a few.


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Addicted to #Suspense #Giveaway by Brenda Whiteside

I wanted to let you all know about a really great giveaway that is still going. There's one more week left so hurry on over and get in for your chance to win Kindles, a gift card and a whole lot more!

Enter now for your chance to win! 
March 13-31
Readers of romantic suspense, mysteries, and thrillers, I have a giveaway just for you! Enter now and you could take home a Kindle Fire HD8, Kindle Fire 7, or Amazon gift card. Have you been eager to get your hands on that new suspense bestseller? Win one of 4 ebook prize packs also among the list of prizes and you can tell us which books to buy to feed your reading habit: suspense, mystery, thriller. CLICK HERE TO ENTER THIS FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY

Plus, shop our book fair for some heart-pounding reads from our talented group of sponsoring authors writing in your favorite genres. CLICK HERE FOR THE BOOK FAIR

It's a dynamite event you don't want to miss!

This Giveaway is Sponsored by
Alex Gordon • Amanda Uhl • Angela Sanders • Ava Bradley • Brenda Whiteside • BV Lawson • CB Samet • Colleen Mooney • Dara Carr • DiAnn Mills • Donna R. Mercer • Ellen Byron • Ethan Jones • Eva Winters • Fiona Quinn • Greta Boris • Inge-Lise Goss • J. L. Lora • Jacqueline Diamond • JC Andrijeski • Jennifer St. Giles • Judith Lucci • Julie Mulhern • K A Servian • Kris Michaels • Kristy Tate • Mimi Barbour  • Monique Singleton • Naomi Bellina • P. Creeden • PJ Fiala • RM Alexander • Sahara Roberts • Stacey Joy Netzel • Stephanie Queen • Stephany Tullis • Tamara Ferguson • Tamra Lassiter • Taylor Marsh • Tee Smith

Friday, March 23, 2018

Cheaper Isn’t Always Better: But Free Is Always Best, so #Relax’nRead On Me By Margo Hoornstra

          What is up with toilet paper these days? Is it just me, or are the rolls themselves becoming narrower, the cardboard tubes inside wider? In other words, less product for the same, or larger, price.

I don’t know how this is working at your house. At ours, there seems to be much more movement and play around the spindle. Not at all like some of the public restrooms where the toilet paper roll is packed so tight into the holder, you’re lucky to get off one teeny tiny square at a time. Or bits and pieces that are totally useless. Still, there is so much paper provided. Doesn’t that make you feel like a cherished customer?
Your basic advertising/sales tool is at play here, product enhancement-modifying existing products so they appear to be improved. We’ve all seen the ad strategies used. Same great product, more manageable (read smaller) package. More rolls for your money!
Let’s face it, as far as a market, we are locked in. Toilet paper manufacturers can pretty much charge as much as they want for as little as they want to offer. I mean, consider the alternative.  On second thought, don’t.
Bottom line, I know I’ll always be a good toilet paper consumer. Not of the cut rate brands either. Did that once and it sure wasn’t pretty. Thought I’d found a good sale so I stocked up. Never again. Took forever to use it all, because no way was I going to throw even one sheet out unutilized.
That’s not exactly what I set out to share here today. In my defense, a little consumer bias I needed to get off my chest. Proof that cheaper isn’t always a better deal.
Speaking of which, I do have one too. A deal that is. And not cheaper even – FREE.
A romance short story, available for FREE download.

Back in the day, as they say, my father wrote scripts for a radio show out of Detroit titled Manhunt, which was a forerunner of the television show Dragnet. True stories pulled from actual police files, as they also say.

This story is based on one of those scripts.

So please, click on the above link and enjoy!
Take some time to #Relax‘nRead.
It’ll help you forget the unfortunate product ‘enhancement’ our toilet paper everywhere is going through.
My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd.
For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my WEBSITE

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Saved by the #amwriting deadline ~ by Leah St. James

Several of our Roses have written in the past few months about being stuck in the writing doldrums, or something similar, where circumstances and/or mood keep the Muse away. I’m no different. In fact, I’ve shared in previous posts that I’ve been stuck in that mode for quite some time. Recently, though, I’ve started coming out of it, and I thought I’d share a what snapped me out of it.

It all started last fall when I was trying to write my short holiday story for our blog. We’d had the first line for months, and ideas had been floating around in my brain since, but I was having a hard time coming up with an actual story. The date of my first post kept creeping closer and closer like some creature with its claws out, ready to gouge me! Each time I’d post a monthly blog, I’d see more and more Roses who’d finished their stories and had them queued up for publication, and I still hadn’t started mine!

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was starting to worry, and for the first time I started to doubt my ability to get the story done. I knew I could ask one of my fellow Roses to swap dates with me, and I’m confident someone would have graciously agreed, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that I needed to find a way out of this myself. Because there was no real reason I was behind—no family crisis, no visitors, no illnesses. Just my normal routine.

Finally, I settled on my idea and started writing. The story was shaping up, I was feeling confident and about three-quarters done. Then the writer’s worst nightmare happened—less than a week before my posting date, I somehow wrote over my document with something entirely different. And – poof! – like that my hard-fought words were gone. DID I MENTION IT WAS LESS THAN A WEEK FROM MY POSTING DATE!?

When I realized what I’d  done, I wanted to cry. I think I did let out an inhuman-like wail that caused my husband to come running, then pooh-pooh me like it wasn’t a real crisis. (What does HE know anyway?!)

After a frantic search of my computer, I located three or four old versions that I’d somehow had the foresight to save under a different name, so at least I had a foundation. The basic plot hadn’t changed, but a lot of the details had. I remembered enough that I knew it was salvageable, but the clock was ticking.


I couldn’t take any time off from the day job, and by the end of the work day my brain is dead, so I did the unthinkable. I sacrificed my morning exercise and promo/email/blog-raading time to work on the story before work. Thankfully I got the story done (although probably with a few glitches I didn’t pick up on in my rush), but in the process, I discovered something amazing.

Writing at 4:25 a.m., when my brain is still half asleep, released the creativity I’d been missing for so  long, but more than that, it rekindled my love of writing. Somehow my brain likes writing before dawn. Who knew?!

I’m a creature of habit, AND the kind of person who likes to get the icky tasks out of the way before I let myself do the fun stuff.  So for several years I’ve been following the same pre-work routine:  get up early, exercise, take care of the  writing “business” stuff, then try to write, then go to the day job. It hasn’t worked. I think by waking myself up with non-creative things, I locked my thinking into that business-like frame, and once there, I couldn’t get it back, even on weekends when I didn’t have to go to work.

Bull-headed, I didn’t quite recognize this about myself until after the first of the year and I’d settled back into that routine. I’d been making slow progress on my WIP, but at the rate I  was going, it would take another year to finish. I knew something had to change.

When  I’d managed to write the holiday story in record  time, I assumed it was the deadline and the thought of having to admit failure that lit the fire, and that was true. It forced me to come up with a solution. Analyzing it after the fact, though, I remembered how good it felt, even under pressure, to put words and sentences together first thing after waking. So I took a leap and rearranged my pre-work routine. For the past couple weeks I’ve been getting up at the same time, then stagger downstairs, get myself a cup of strong tea, and settle down to write. And miraculously, it’s working!

I’m averaging 500-700 words each morning before work, finally making progress on my long-neglected WIP. In fact, I’m having a hard time yanking myself from my laptop to get to the rest of my day. (Back to reality? Nooooooooo!)

On the negative side, the “business” needs are suffering. I’m posting far less frequently on my Facebook page, for example, but I figure hardly anyone was reading it anyway, so no real harm. And once I have this story in production, I can ramp up my efforts.

So if you’re stuck in the writing blues and missing your Muse, maybe try to figure out when you get the most joy from writing and refocus your efforts on that time of the day or place. It can’t hurt to try! And if you're in a place where you're having a tough time finding joy in anything, give yourself time to heal, to regain your balance. The joy will find you when you're ready.

Happy writing.


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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

April On-line class with Beth Trissel Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs

April On-line class with Beth Trissel
Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs
Hosted by Charter Oak Romance Writers
Dates: April 2, 2018 through April 27, 2018
Instructor: Beth Trissel
Cost: $25
Open to: All
Please register: www.charteroakromance writers
2018 Online Classes

altWorkshop on Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs. This workshop has a broad focus, including Native American and Colonial American herbs, also cures popular with the mountain people and Granny Women of Eastern America, while including herbs of the British Isles. Each participant will receive the eBook of Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles by Beth Trissel.
Questions are welcomed and will be addressed as they arise, which leads to the inclusion of more herbs and topics. There are many ‘extras’ I add besides those listed.
Week One:
Introduction to the workshop and meet & greet.
The wisdom of Native Americans. A focus on Native American herbs.
The Granny Women. A focus on the mountain people and old time cures, both herbal and some white magic.
Week Two:
Colonial American herbs (Part One)
Colonial American herbs (Part Two)
Week Three:
Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles
Other related posts on herbs in the British Isles, including the Druids.
Week Four:
‘What can kill can cure’ but definitely kill and watch out for werewolves (Poisonous herbs and those believed to have power against werewolves and vampires)
For protection from spells and enchantment, the sacred, healing herbs
Knock yourself out and Ward off the Plague: Dwale, an Old-English Antiseptic
The Vinegar of the Four Thieves
An opportunity for final sharing from participants.
Bio for Beth Trissel: Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. And I love a good ghost story. I write historical, paranormal, and time travel romances, YA and NA fantasy romance, and nonfiction about gardening, herbal lore, and country life.
For more on me, my blog is the happening place:
From Barbara Edwards

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How a Cold and Birthday led to Makeup Contouring for the Lazy and Cheap. Warning: Before and After Photos Included. Might be Unsettling for Some Viewers. #ContouringMatureFace

I ought to be writing. I'm supposed to be writing. I'm playing with makeup instead.

Why? Because it's that time of year.

Now there are some that wax poetically about getting older. It could be said the passage of time overwrites our faces and hides behind the dulling eye. Some claim under eye bags and dark circles are badges of honor giving a glimpse of struggles endured. That each laugh or worry line has been carefully etched into our faces to form a topical road map of a life well-lived...
To that, I say




I don't really mind getting older. I've spent 60 (mostly wonderful) years on this earth. I've three (loving and thankfully) grown children, fantastic friends and relatives - all of which keep me laughing. I've had the great fortune to travel, although there are always more places to see. And, I've attained my life's dream of publishing a few novels. 

So, for the most part, age isn't something I worry about. Except, of course, when it's that time of year. 

But when you've got a birthday looming and are in the snotty grip of a nasty cold, heed my advice and stay away from the mirror.

If you are careless enough to stop and take a long look, don't blame me. Though, I suggest you try to remember that none of those grooves and discolorations happened overnight. They were created slowly. In the same way the earth's tectonic plates ebbs and flows over time, the landscape of the face changes. 

It's all a plot to catch you unaware and unprepared. However, do as I do and try to only openly acknowledge them once a year. It makes
you wonder. Why these things, that normally go unnoticed, should claim the attention right before a birthday. 

How can the celebration of another year lived feel like a slap to the face?

But it can and it does and because it did I took it on the chin. I'll explain by explaining the realization happened on a day filled with more Claritin than clarity. 

In retrospect, it was my own fault for buying a magnifying mirror. If you've not succumbed to the urge then never never buy one. Let me say that harsh 5x magnification with bright LED lighting only amplifies flaws of timeworn skin. My already double chin seemed to quadruple in such high relief. I swear I could drown an entire pod of whales in the dark bags beneath my eyes. Or lost an entire platoon in the grooves around my mouth. Mixed metaphors but you get the drift.

And, what the hell? When did my nostrils go all wonky? I can't remember any recent blows to the head, but it appears as if one side of my nose is collapsing in. Now, one nostril is misshapened and they are woefully mismatched. But, for the life of me, I can't remember which one has changed.

Feeling too cruddy to do anything, I spent the day reclining on the couch with tissue box and laptop. I'm telling you all of this so you can understand why I made the logical progression to YouTube tutorials about makeup. 

 Contouring is nothing new but, per usual, I'm late to the party. It might be because I'm too lazy to put much effort into face paint. It might be because I'm too cheap to buy tons of expensive products like fancy sponges and brushes. What I want to think is that, with the wisdom of years, I no longer care all that much about what people think.

I will admit, though, that contouring fascinates me. I enjoy seeing it - on other people. Before now, I never considered it for myself. It looked to be more effort than I'm inclined to give and I believed it took an artistic talent that I lack. 

Yet, when I say I no longer worry about how I look it doesn't mean I want to end up looking like a clown from a horror movie either. 

Taking encouragement, and a few hints from the dozens and dozens of videos out there, I experimented. Except for the contour stick, I haven't use anything I didn't previously own.

The tools.
Face. For better or worse - there it is. Check.
Cheap white makeup sponges from WalMart. The kind you buy in mega batches.
A dab of moisturizer first, one poster insisted, to help blending later. 
Heavy lifting equipment already in my arsenal: Hard Candy Highlight & Contour duo stick, Cover Girl/Olay Simply Ageless Foundation, a blush stick, and a pencil eyeliner. I use the same pencil in the eyelid crease and to line my eyes. 

That's it. All cheap. All easily found at your local discount store.

Most tutorials are given by the young and still firmly skinned. While I watched them all, I stuck with techniques targeting more mature faces. A few of these suggested placing your highlight and contour lines on the face before anything else. 

After trying it both ways, I decided using the contour stick beneath the foundation is best for me. Mainly, because it's more forgiving of mistakes. 

Older faces, they say, need more highlighting to disguise dark circles, bags, lines, and uneven skin tones.
Here I am with my high and low lines done. Ready for the next part, I start blending with the sponge.

Done blending. As you can see, the dark contour lines are softened but still visible. Dab on regular foundation like normal, blend lightly, and add a touch of blush.
I had to change from the pink shirt as I spilled a blob of foundation on it.

Ready for the end results?

First, the before. This photo was taken a few months ago. It shows me pretty much au naturel. 

This last shot was taken today after using my new tricks. What do you think? Though I'm sure I'll improve with practice, I do think the skin looks a little smoother. A little younger. The bags less obvious. I noted that I no longer felt the need to put my hand under my face to hide all the chins.

Perhaps, the next step ought to be learning how to contour the nose to disguise the fact my nostrils have warped. Or, maybe, I'll leave them be so people have something to wonder about.  

I'm happy to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my 61st birthday which was filled with tons of cake and laughter. I'll also admit that I'm relieved it's over so I can forget my appearance for another year.

Because, as I mentioned before, I'm supposed to be writing...

R E Mullins
author of vampire/romance
The Blautsauger of Amber Heights Series

 and the new Vampires of Amber Heights Series

Stand alone novella though Kindle Worlds:

Keep up with what I'm working on at

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