Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ancestors by Diane Burton

 As I wait for the edits to Numbers Never Lie, I’m catching up on a lot of things, along with relaxing . . . somewhat. Last week, something happened that sidetracked me from the financial stuff with my books. Darn.

My sister received an email from our grandmother’s sister’s granddaughter via Apparently, Ellen found my sister because she’d gotten her DNA done through Ancestry. I contacted Ellen and that spurred me to get back to working on my genealogy—something I’ve done sporadically for about forty years. Even less so since I’ve been writing.

I remembered Ellen’s mother (my dad’s cousin). I think she came to my wedding. Since that was back in the dark ages, though, I’m not positive. 😉

As I looked over my family tree, I was surprised by how much I didn’t know about my generation: their marriages, children, and grandchildren. My sister is the family connector. She calls cousins, visits our sole surviving uncle and our dad's cousin, generally keeps in touch. She never married and, perhaps, this is her way of maintaining a family.

Somewhere in my office (that needs organizing) is a box with wedding invitations, birth announcements, etc. I have all the info I need to fill in the info, just not at hand. One thing I was pleased about is Ancestry’s privacy policy. Living members are hidden from the public. Yay! Originally, I was afraid to add them for privacy reasons.

A couple of days ago, Betsy Ashton wrote about being keeper of the "box." That's me. I have letters from my grandfather to my grandmother when they were courting. I need to scan them so my brothers and sisters can read them. Same with old pictures. 

I’ve always thought it was important to know where I came from. Not for inheritance sake, like my grandmother and her cousins thought. Hubs joined Ancestry to organize all the “stuff” he’s collected and stories from his mother, dad, and aunt. He’s stuck on his grandfather. According to his aunt, the one time her sister asked about his family, Grandfather teared up and their mother forbade them to ask again. Too bad. That’s a mystery Hubs is still trying to solve.

In a post here several years ago, I mentioned my grandmother and her cousins hiring a genealogist to trace their family history. According to legend, their ancestor (Anneke Jans Borgardus) who was the daughter of the king of The Netherlands married against his will and was disinherited for seven generations. Gram’s cousins were certain they were the seventh generations and would inherit buckets of money. Since this was in the 1930s, amid the Great Depression in Detroit, it’s easy to understand their desire. And to throw money at the genealogist who told them (repeatedly) he was almost there. Unfortunately, the legend was just that. A legend.

Amazingly, much of what his report said can be backed up with documents, especially through the DAR. However, many assumptions the family had proved false. Hence, no inheritance. Darn.

While on this journey to find out where I came from, I talked to (or corresponded with) several relatives in my grandmother’s generation. It was great reading about our grandfather’s courtship of our grandmother through the eyes of her sister with whom she lived. With the exception of one of my dad’s brothers and one of his cousins, the people of that generation are no longer with us. Gone, too, are their stories.

It looks like I’m the family storyteller now.

What a scary thought. The responsibility of keeping the family stories alive is mine. Enter technology. While people gripe about how technology is taking over our lives, I’m applauding the ease with which things can be shared. Scan in pictures and letters then send electronically to someone in California. Easy peasy.

When we first joined Ancestry, I didn’t realize that I could share all that knowledge with my family, whether they are members of Ancestry or not. I recently discovered my youngest cousin (same age as my daughter) is on Ancestry. I happily shared what I know with him. It will be wonderful that our family history will live on. That is a big relief. The burden can be shared.

Now, it’s time to get back to the other chores awaiting me. And the next book.

BTW, here's the cover for my soon-to-be released romantic suspense.

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. She shares snippets from her stories every weekend on her blog. Her newest romantic suspense, Numbers Never Lie, will be released next month.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Small Town Inspiration by Mackenzie Crowne

Ever been to new England? I have. In fact, I grew up in a small town just north of Boston, and with Independence Day just around the corner, the revolutionary spirit of the region seems a perfect topic for today’s post. New England is a beautiful mix of coastal ports, rolling hills and forests, quiet villages and metropolitan centers.

Then there is the history. Everywhere you look are reminders of the revolutionary war era, like the patchwork of stone walls crisscrossing just about every field and forest. Seriously, they're everywhere and my childhood imagination was sparked each time I spotted one. I'd find myself wondering who built them and why - when I wasn't picturing militia soldiers ducked behind the piles of stones as they battled the redcoats.

As I’ve grown older, my fascination with the history of the area has only grown more profound. Imagine the guts and pure determination of our founding fathers as they put their lives and treasure on the line to face down tyranny. Their strength of character gifted us with the legacy of freedom we enjoy today. I’d like to believe I would have joined their ranks, fighting alongside those brave souls as they forged the greatest system of rights the world has ever known, but I honestly don’t know if I have the courage required.

Centuries later, the cobbled streets and byways of New England lead eager travelers through the early steps of a young nation. If you’ve never had the opportunity to explore New England personally, I highly recommend the experience and when you do, here are a few of my favorite haunts.

For history buffs like me, the Freedom Trail is a must!

The Old North Church is just one stop on the Freedom Trail,
but it's a great one.

Hammond Castle in Gloucester combines American and European history
with thrilling results.

 Mac’s memories of small-town New England life inspired the location of her small-town romance,
Cara O’Shea’s Return
available at

Thursday, June 28, 2018

England Fiction, #Scotland for Real by Alanna Lucas #travel

Roses and Readers, please welcome our guest blogger, Allana Lucas Love to travel! And leave a comment for have a chance at winning an eBook from her backlist.

Earlier this month I chaperoned my daughter (who just turned 18!) and two of her friends to Scotland. Traveling with three teens was an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable adventure. We rented a flat in Edinburgh, but took several day trips, exploring various parts of the country. While waiting for our return flight home, we came up with our top ten for Edinburgh and beyond. Here’s our list- in no particular order, since we all agreed everything was awesome!

1) Listening to The Spinning Blowfish on The Mound -a busking band with bagpipes, guitar, and drums.
2) Hiking up to Arthur’s Seat
3) Going inside the J.K. Rowling suite at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh (if no one is staying in the suite, the
concierge will allow you in the room to take pictures)
4) Spending the day at Edinburgh Castle- highlight of the visit: seeing the Crown Jewels
5) Exploring the numerous Closes along the Royal Mile- we also did the Mary King’s Close tour.
6) Learning about the ha-ha wall at the Holyrood Palace Garden- Prince Albert had the wall constructed for Queen Victoria
7) Seeing The Unicorn Tapestries at Stirling Castle (the original tapestries are at The Met Cloisters in New York City) – Only an hour train trip out of Edinburgh, plus an invigorating walk up to the castle.
8) Greyfriars Kirk and statue of the Greyfriars Bobby- the Skye Terrier spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he passed away in 1872.
9) Climbing 287 steps to the top of the Sir Walter Scott Monument- it was a clear day and the views were incredible!
10) Walking a section of Hadrian’s Wall. We took a day trip to Roslyn Chapel, Melrose Abbey, and Hadrian’s Wall. Okay, so this wasn’t in Scotland, but it was on my life’s to-do list!

Blurb for Only a Hero Will Do:

Defender of the realm…and his wary heart…

Captain Grant Alexander is an enigma in London society. Dashing and handsome, he coldly eschews marriage. But the ton knows nothing of his role in the Legion: to bring Typhon, the traitor who seeks to destroy the British monarchy, to justice.

When Grant is thrown together with fellow Legion member Elizabeth Atwell, he’s instantly beguiled yet exasperated by this beautiful viscount’s daughter. She has little interest in combing the marriage mart for a well-bred, well-heeled husband, but is adept at code-breaking and handling a bow and arrow. She also refuses to do as she is told, insisting she accompany Grant on his mission.

As Typhon continues to evade capture and dark forces are at work, Grant realizes he must act, not only to protect the realm but Elizabeth too…not to mention his heart, which is in danger of thawing every time she comes close…

Excerpt for Only a Hero Will Do:

Early evening shadows danced across the white walls and cold white marble floors. Soon the austere ballroom would come to life with hundreds of guests, fresh flowers, and music.
Servants scurried around completing various tasks. Most were too busy to even take notice of Elizabeth’s presence. Tonight’s gathering of some of the finest and most well connected families in England would certainly bring out some of Typhon’s agents. Sooner or later, one was bound to make a mistake, bringing the Legion one step closer to discovering Typhon’s true identity and extinguishing the threat once and for all.
Elizabeth needed to be on guard tonight and was not going to leave anything to chance. Surveying the ballroom once more, she took her time covering every inch, contemplating every angle an attack might come from. She could not fail in this assignment. She would prove she was as capable as any man, and also prove to Grant that she belonged in his world.
With the layout of the room fully ingrained in her mind, she strolled to the pair of doors leading out onto the terrace. Pushing them wide open, she was rewarded with the sounds of chirping birds and leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. It all seemed so peaceful, but the gnawing in her stomach indicated it was anything but serene.
She dreaded her role tonight—to distract Mr. Ward with light flirtation in the hope that his tongue would loosen. Although a little sketchy, the rhyme he’d sung and recited during their ride in the park was a goldmine of information. Elizabeth suspected he was key to their investigation. Even still, the flirtation would be no more than that. There would be no moonlight stroll or stolen kisses under the wisteria. Absolutely not. A shudder rippled through her. There were certain things she was definitely not willing to do, not even for the greater good of her country.
She rested her hands on the cool balustrade, gazing across the lush green landscape. From this vantage point, in the twilight, one could still see across the vast sloping landscape. Once the sun set, therein lay the danger. The trees in the distance were a nest for Typhon’s men. One of them could be lurking in them there right now, watching her every move.
“Surveying the landscape?” Grant’s deep voice drifted onto the terrace and straight into her body, warming her insides.
She turned to greet him but was tongue-tied the moment she laid eyes on him. He cut an impressive figure in his blue coat and buff pantaloons. Swallowing hard, she stuttered, “Uh…y—yes.” Her response made her sound like a simpleton, not the able-bodied agent she wanted to be viewed as. She took in a deep breath, but soon realized that whenever Grant was near no amount of deep breathing could possible steady her nerves and racing heart. “You’re early.”
“It’s best I get the lay of the land before the light goes. Simon is stationed at the south end of the property, and Philson to the east.”
“And will you be stationed inside the ballroom this evening?” Her heart leaped at the possibility of spending more time with him.
“I’ll be near, just in case, but I won’t be partaking in any of the merriment tonight.” His words were formal, final.
“I’m sure you can spare one dance.” She thought to change his mind, but as soon as the words came out, she regretted them. His stern look cooled whatever warmth had entered her body.
He sucked in his breath and shifted his gaze, looking in the direction of the large pond. “I don’t dance.”
“You don’t dance? Why ever not?”
“It is not something I wish to discuss.”
The warning in his voice only made her want to challenge him more. “That’s not an acceptable excuse. Why won’t you open up to me? And don’t you dare say it’s because I’m the daughter of a viscount.”
“Damn it Elizabeth, that’s exactly why. Why must you push?”
“Because I care.”


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Keepers of the Box by Betsy Ashton

Every family has a keeper of the box. It's often the eldest child, or the only girl, or the one interested in genealogy. The box can be literal or figurative, but there is always a box.

My husband and I are both only children. The boxes handed down to us from our mothers have no other home. My mother-in-law didn't believe in keeping what she called "old stuff," things like family documents, photos, etc. She kept a few, but not enough to reconstruct the history of his family.

My mother kept tons on documents, photos, report cards. I found information on land I didn't know the family owned, land lost to unpaid taxes. Photo albums with lots of pictures of people who have gone ahead and have not left their names behind. Legal papers. Ticket stubs. She kept so much of my childhood that I haven't taken time to unpack it.

As writers, we are all keeps of our characters' boxes. To create a complete character, we need to know ever so much more that we will ever use. We need to know what each character, main and minor, looks like. That means small details like the shape of ears, small scars and other marks. We should know what a female carries in her handbag, a man in his pockets. Where do they put their keys? Do they empty handbags or pockets every night? What is on their dressers, in their medicine cabinets? Do they floss?

You'll never use these details, because in real life they are both automatic and boring. But, if you know these things, you know your characters. And then you can throw these minutiae away and get on with the story.

At times, however, one or more of these details demands to be unpacked and imagined. When did the item, if it is literal, enter the character's life? What's its importance to the plot? Can you avoid writing about it, or will you miss an opportunity to enrich the story with just the right detail at just the right moment.

Take for example, a concert ticket stub. Did the character attend the concert alone? With a best friend? With a long-lost love? What emotions go through the character's mind when she holds that stub in her hand? How can you exploit the moment to illustrate something bigger?

Yes, families are the keepers of the box. Writers are as well, because our characters constitute our other families. What boxes do you have packed away? And how many of them have you unpacked?


Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max mystery series, Unintended Consequences, Uncharted Territory, and Unsafe Haven. She also wrote a dark psychological suspense novel, Eyes Without A Face, about a female serial killer, who unpacks her life and career in first person.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hearing voices #amwriting

Yep, I have a new book in my head.

This one was percolating for a few months, really, since I discussed some ideas for it at my casino outing last fall. It's a Remembered Classics book, and it's based on Beauty and the Beast. Not the Disney "Beauty" but the real tale from which the story sprang.

I thought I had all the characters figured out. I had a heroine (the Beast) and I had a hero (Beauty). I had the father and the castle and the rose... But as I wrote it, Beauty just wouldn't behave. I could not reconcile my thoughts about him and having him as a hero. It just didn't fit.

Enter the real hero. Perhaps not as pretty as Beauty, but certainly with a better character. Maybe this book will turn out to be "Beast and the Beast" ... Or once people look past surface impressions, Beauty and Beauty.

Now to get it all down on paper.

Monday, June 25, 2018

#Paranormal Research by Beverley Bateman #Series

Join me in welcoming our guest blogger, Beverley Bateman.
I am finishing my latest WIP and once again I’m dabbling with the paranormal. In my series the Hawkins Ranch series I referred to the paranormal with the Native American spirits. And I’ve dabbled in it in another book I’m writing with a spirit coming back as a dog, but in The Foundation I have four women who are all part of a team that has different paranormal abilities.  I thought I’d share a little of my research on what I learned about the paranormal writing these characters.
The first team member is a sensitive. She feels, sees, or senses things from touching a person, a photo or a letter. This ability is called psychometry. The dictionary defines it as ‘token-object reading or psychoscopy and is a form of extrasensory perception characterized by the claimed ability to make relevant associations from an object of unknown history by making physical contact with that object.’  She receives a letter and can sense the person who sent it, is in danger. It can also be difficult if you touch a friend and see something they don’t want you to.
The second member moves objects by concentrating on them. The ability is called telekinesis. The dictionary defines it as ‘an alleged psychic ability allowing a person to influence a physical system without physical interaction’.  Hmm, not sure they really explained it very well and it’s alleged.
The third member talks to ghosts and sometimes sees them. She is also a sensitive, or a psychic medium. She doesn’t do séances. The ghosts approach her and sometimes she pretends she doesn’t see them. She may feel a sudden cold, a breeze or maybe a scent, or see an apparition. Some say the ghosts have unfinished business, want to protect a loved one or may stay because of a traumatic event—say a murder or suicide. She talks to three women who were murdered by the same man and want to prevent him from killing again.  
My fourth member of the team is a witch. She descends from a long line of witches. She gets glimpses of the things about to happen, like knowing she’s going to get fired or a woman is about to fall and hurt her ankle. She can also cast spells to help herself and to keep all the team safe. She’s developing her talent to read minds
That’s a few things I’ve learned and put in my WIP. So what about you? Do you have a ‘special talent’ or do you believe in the supernatural and the paranormal?

Blurb for Targeted:
After an eleven year absence Janna Kincaid inherits a ranch and is forced to return to a town she only remembers with unhappiness, a man to whom she was briefly married and never wants to see again, and someone is trying to kill her.
Kye Hawkins has loved Janna since he first met her. They were married but a few weeks later she ran away, without an explanation. He still hasn’t figured out why. Now she’s coming back. Does she still love him? Can he rekindle the romance and also prevent her from being killed.
Janna doesn’t want Kye’s help in anyway, yet he always seems to be there when she’s in trouble. Can they work together to find a killer, save the Native burial ground and home of the spirits, and find romance again?

Excerpt from Targeted
Someone had shot her back tire. Janna gripped the wheel to keep the vehicle on the road. She debated whether to try and outrun the shooter, wherever he was, or find cover. The windshield shattered as a third bullet entered the passenger side.
So much for outrunning the shooter.
She scanned the area and spotted an outcropping of rocks a few feet ahead on her right. She aimed the vehicle in that direction.
Two more shots, and both the back tires went down.
Definitely find cover.
Janna ducked low behind the steering wheel until the vehicle reached the rocks. When the car stopped, she grabbed the keys from the ignition and her purse and dove out the door. Bullets bounced off the rocks behind her as she scrambled for cover. Whoever was doing the shooting was serous. Anyone of the shots could have hit her.
She reached the rocks, keeping low until she got to the middle where she curled up as tightly as possible, her back against a rock. Her heart pounded in her ears, her breathing came in gasps. This was getting to be a habit. First someone tried to kill her in Seattle, and now, out in this god-forsaken country.
What the hell is going on? Why are they shooting at me? Was it the same person who shot at me in Seattle? That doesn’t seem likely, but who even knew I was coming here? Maybe it’s someone just trying to rob a stranger.
Yeah right, be honest, Janna, does this road look like many strangers came this way? And if they did, would they have a lot to steal? You really think this person selected a spot in the rocks where he would have a good shot at my vehicle. Coincidence? Not damn likely.
At least she’d worn boots and jeans—even if they were designer jeans. Now they were filthy, and so was her red sweater and jean jacket.
Another shot hit the rock behind her. She rolled over onto her stomach, shaded her eyes, and squinted into the sun. He must be up on the cliffs straight ahead. She wasn’t sure, but she thought she might have glimpsed a light, maybe a reflection off his scope.
Terrific! Now what? My gun is in my purse. I could fire back, but that would be a waste of bullets at this distance. 
She yanked out her cell and punched in 9-1-1.
Damn—no reception.
A pounding pulsed through the ground and came closer. Janna could feel the vibrations. It felt like horses. She glanced around, without raising her head, to see what was coming.
Suddenly there was a hand in front of her face.
“Grab it and jump on.”
The deep, rumbling voice was not asking. It was an order.
Janna grabbed the strong hand. In one smooth motion, she swung up behind a man on his horse. Seconds later, she had her hands wrapped around his well-developed, muscular chest, as the big chestnut thundered across the ground, out of the bullets’ range.
The man wore a leather jacket over a sweater. Her hands slid under the jacket for better grip. Even through the sweater she could feel sinewy muscles. She laid her head against his back and his braid. She took a breath in, inhaling the rich scent of leather, trying to calm her racing heart rate.
She glanced behind her. The cliffs were fading into the distance. The muscles of his well-developed shoulders bunched and relaxed as he led the horse at a gallop across the field. She felt safe for some unfathomable reason.
He had a familiar woodsy scent that made her think of sex under pine trees, not that she’d ever made love there. In fact, her sex life was pretty negligible these days.
They’d been riding for several minutes when Janna leaned forward. “You can put me down any place. I can manage now.”
“Really? And just what are you going to do out here, miles from town, by yourself, with someone shooting at you?”
The voice was deep, but soft, and rolled over her like warmed brandy. It triggered something in the back of her memory. The earthy scent, the sinewy body, the braid, the voice… She knew this person who had ridden up out of nowhere to save her.
“I have my cell. I’ve already called 9-1-1,” she snapped.
“And did you get an answer?”
Janna yanked her cell phone up where she could see the screen again and re-tapped in 9-1-1. And then there was that famous phrase—No Service.
There was a deep chuckle. “That’s what I thought. There’s no service in this area. The mountains block it.”

Buy Links for Book title:

Sunday, June 24, 2018

#Wedding Anniversay #Vacation by Brenda Whiteside

When you read this, I'll be four days into a two week wedding anniversary celebratory vacation. Forgive me if I don't respond quickly to your comments. We're driving to Minnesota to visit friends we haven't seen in years. We'll be staying in three different homes and seven hotels. I assume we'll have Internet everywhere, but will I have time? My laptop and Android go with me, of course, and as a writer, I'm never out of touch.

FDW and I have made a tradition of taking a trip on the decade wedding anniversaries. For our 10th, we drove to Mazatlan and stayed in a tropical setting. We toured
the town and spent many hours on the beach, never missing happy hour at the hotel. The highlight of the trip was my neglect to get my clothes out of the dryer and pack them. I got to go shopping and buy a few things. FDW swore I'd had a memory lapse on purpose. Moi?

For our second decade of marriage, we flew to Hawaii. That was FDW's first time there, and he tried to talk me into moving. No way. I know after more than a couple of weeks, when the fancy drinks were history and the need to work took over, I'd get Island Fever big time.

Our 30th anniversary fulfilled one of my lifelong see Michelangelo's David. We spent several fantastic days in Florence, Italy with a local young woman as our guide. She was a friend of our Austrian friend who joined us. We then drove with him to Austria to spend several days with his family. What a trip!

Cancun was our 40th anniversary destination. We'd been there before and didn't need to do any tourist stuff. We spent all of our time relaxing on the beach.

Now, we're at the 50th. Did you know only 6% of American marriages make it to fifty? We're really looking forward to Minnesota and the long drive. We lived in Minnesota for eighteen years, made many good friends, and fell in love with the state.

Meanwhile, the fifth and final book in my Love and Murder Series released on June 18. Planning a trip and a release has been exhausting. But fun!

After an abusive childhood and a bad marriage, Laura Katz finally finds a home, stability…and possibly love. But her blissful refuge as nanny on the Meadowlark Ranch, miles from Flagstaff, shatters when her ex is released from prison, determined to reclaim her.

Randy Silva, the ranch’s foreman, has dreams of his own ranch, but a nasty land grab is underway. While the battle escalates, Laura steals his heart, but dangerous outsiders and a criminal ex-husband stand in their way. Randy’s in a perilous fight for his land and the woman he wants by his side.

Buy Links:

Saturday, June 23, 2018

When You Least Expect It by Margo Hoornstra

You know how opportunity strikes when you least expect it? That happened to me recently. This is how it went.

It’s no secret I suck at promo. My website needs to be updated, but I just hadn't gotten to it yet. All I needed to do was send an email to my webmistress to get the ball rolling. Expense was one reason. Lack of motivation was the other. Who really, really goes to my website anyway?

Bad decision on my part. Some Free Read download short stories on my website through The Wild Rose Press now went nowhere when TWRP disconintued the program a few months ago. I hadn't bothered to have them taken down.
Unforgivable on my part, but there it is.

I also wanted to somehow up my general discoverability on the internet, but had no clue how to do that either, short of hiring a public relations agency which, for me, would be cost prohibitive.
What to do? What to do?

In order to supplement my author income (ahem) and because the job affords me lots and lots of down (in other words writing) time, I work as a substitute administrative assistant for a couple of local school districts. My boss in one is also second in command of the PR Department.

Imagine my surprise the other day when she told me she’d Googled (it’s now officially a verb) me and was very impressed with my website. Although she did mention she noticed a couple of glitches I needed to fix. One of which was some promised free downloads that went nowhere.
Wait! What?! Someone noticed?

When I cited the problems I had with promo, she and her assistant went on to explain the best and cheapest way to better promote myself on line. Turns out you can ‘claim’ yourself on Google and add relevant information that will pop up in a search. Who knew?
That conversation got me off the dime and I emailed my webmistress to get things rolling again. Voila, just like that the stories are fixed and we have a process going again.
But that's not all. Turns out my 'boss' also does the website for the district which is, I must say impressive. We talked a little about that, too. If things don't work out they way they are not...I have options.

Then, I can’t leave this out, BONUS, she asked which of my books was my favorite and which she should buy. After smiling shyly, I suggested the three stories in one, Saturday In Serendipity, to give her more bang for her buck.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled. Could it be promo and I aren’t so hopeless after all?
How about you? Any fortuitous events in your recent history?
Be on the the lookout.
They’re there.
My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my (soon to be revamped!) website.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Error-riddled but clueless: To "help" or not - by Leah St. James #grammar #amwriting

Dear fellow grammar nerds:

I know you’re out there. You’re the readers who take note when the wrong to/two/too (or there/their/they’re, roll/role, past/passed...) is used. The first time you might roll your eyes, but you’ll keep reading. Twice in the same page and you might cringe and send a silent message to the author to spend more time proofing. But more than that, if you’re like me, you’ll stop reading.

That happened to me the other day while I was reading an author’s promo blog. (It wasn’t any of our authors!) When I came to the first misused word (an error so bad, I actually laughed, until I was hit with a wave of sympathy), I almost started an email to let the author know there was a bad (really, really bad) error in the blurb. The second stopping point came courtesy of a misplaced modifier (a body part was doing something it shouldn’t be doing). But when the point of view started hopping from head to head so quickly, mine started spinning, I X’d out of the site.

This was all within a couple paragraphs. What do you think the odds are that I’ll purchase that book? Yep. Zero.

We all make typos or grammatical errors from time to time. There could be a few in this blog post, even though I’ve read and re-read to look for them. I’m so embarrassed to discover my own, or when someone else points them out, but I think something bigger is going on. I think there has been a slippage of general grammar knowledge over the past few years. Auto-correct features that seem to have been trained by the untrained masses don’t help.


Thanks to Bizarro cartoonists for the timely quip!

 Or maybe it’s not that writers today know less, but that more are publishing poorly edited content. It used to be that published texts—books, articles, etc.—were vetted by editors, probably several layers of them, before reaching the reader. Today, those layers have largely disappeared. Many self-published authors go cheap on editing because, let’s face it, most of us don’t make a lot of money in this business. 

Today it takes an instant to post a piece that could be filled with typos and those cringe-worthy errors. And the more they appear in public, the more those errors are ingrained into the collective lack-of-knowledge base. Maybe that’s how language changes over time—too many people making the same errors over and over until the error becomes the accepted form!

So what, if anything, should the grammar nerd do when stumbling upon those error-filled pieces? (I’m not talking about a single instance. I’m talking about those so bad, we can’t keep reading.) Do we just wince behind our screens and post something benign in the comments? Or do we send a private message to the author so he/she can make corrections? 

Maybe something like: Dear (name of author), I noticed you posted what was probably a draft of your blurb on your blog. I spotted several errors. I hate when that happens to me!”

I tell myself that I would want to know if that were my post....maybe. I think that for most of us, any unsolicited “corrective” contact, no matter how well intended, would come across as condescending, resulting in either embarrassment/humiliation or anger, or both. It could generate more bad will than any benefit to the greater grammatical good is worth!

As for the example I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t know the author, so I chose to wince behind my screen and post a benign comment. But those awful errors keep lurking in the back of my mind, and I wonder if I should have tried to contact her.

What do fellow authors and readers think? Let sleeping errors lie, or offer a hoping-to-help hand?

Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. She is a true grammar nerd who sometimes finds herself mentally diagramming complex sentences. Learn more about her work at her website. Or visit her on Facebook where she posts occasional tidbits about writing and life. (For more Bizarro, go here.)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Over the finish line by Barbara Edwards

After watching Justify win the Triple Crown I couldn't resist the comparison. I'm into the final stretch on my manuscript. I need to write the last chapter and I can submit it to my publisher. I sent my editor a couple updates so she'd be ready.

I'm so excited.

The plan is to do the edits and have the book ready to publish on Labor Day weekend. I can tell you to look for my name and new release, but I haven't given it a name yet.
Oh my. lots of suggestions are dancing through my head. (picture sugarplums) and I can't decide. when I do I will let you know.

I can give you a few hints. My manuscript is set in Vermont. I have a handsome hero (no surprise) with conflicts. Hmmm
In the last chapter I have to wind up all the loose threads.

Working like this has been good for me. I plan to keep going with the amount of words daily.  Only they will be in the other works I put aside to do this. I'll keep you informed of my progress. And the name when I find it.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Curse of the lawn mower

I picked this gif because I thought it was cute, and then I started feeling a little resentful...How does she make it look so easy?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

To Newsletter or Not to Newsletter by Alicia Dean

I have dabbled with newsletters and I was involved in a multi-author newsletter (Leah and Diane were part of this, among a few of my other author friends). We did not find much benefit in producing the newsletter and we eventually stopped. I KEEP hearing about how critical it is for an author to have a newsletter. So…I’ve decided to try again. I’m not sure exactly what to include. I want to be interesting, brief, writing related, but not completely. I also have heard for years about ‘branding’ and being true to who you are, etc. I think my ‘thing’ will be crime. After all, I’ve got a reputation for being a bit twisted and creepy (deservedly so), and I DO love that stuff. I have been researching tips for author newsletters. One of the tips was to have a catchy name. Some of the other tips were about having the same sections each time, and to share about things you’re passionate about and to weave in writing and non-writing info.

I am planning to send my first one out this month. (I’m a little leery about the GDPR thing, or whatever it is, but I understand Mailchimp takes care of that for you, is that what you guys have found?) So, based on tips I’ve read and what I’ve learned in workshops, etc, I have come up with a plan, more or less. I’d like to share with you all and get your feedback on what I should add, remove, tweak, etc. Here is what I have in mind…

Title: Dark and Stormy (I’ll have some kind of header I’ll use for each newsletter - Something like this, but with words:)


1 - Main Story
Tips for the main story: (1) keep it short (like 300 words, max), (2) provide a fun picture, and (3) relate it to the theme of your newsletter – maybe about writing, research and/or crime shows, a trip, a writing retreat, etc.

2 - Writing and Stuff:
Any news about releases or sales or progress of WIPs. Interesting research I’ve run across.
Upcoming Events: (if I’m doing a conference or book signing)

3 - My Life:
(I’ll post about weight watchers, TV shows, or other personal trips and other things)

4 – Books:
A different one of my books each month and a recommended read for another author.  Sometimes I’ll recommend author friend books, other times, I’ll just find a book to recommend.

5 -  Short Bio  & Social Media Links
1–2 sentence bio  & my links (I'll invite them to follow my blog)

What do you think? Will this work? I’ve had people email me and ask me to put them on my mailing list, so I guess I should start ‘mailing’ something, LOL. Do you do a newsletter? What is yours about? Have you found it beneficial?