Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Learning to Love, Random Facts, and #eBook #Giveaway by Jennifer Wilck

We're very pleased to have Jennifer Wilck as our guest today. I know you'll enjoy her post. And oh my gosh...she's giving away a book. Read on for your chance to win.

Writing Learning to Love was fun for me, because I had the chance to play around with my characters a bit, especially my heroine, Dina. The hero, Adam, appears as a walk-on, in the previous two books (although that’s the only connection to the rest of the series, so the book is easily read as a standalone) and he’s perfect. Gorgeous, rich and successful. Of course, he isn’t really perfect, but the way he presents himself to the world makes people think he is.

Therefore, my heroine had to be significantly less than perfect in order for her to be at all interesting. I gave her frizzy hair—I’m pretty sure I was having another terrible hair day at the time, so it was easy to take out all my frustrations on her. I made her brilliant, in the not-fitting-in-with-your-peers way. And I made her awkward.

She shows her awkwardness by spouting random facts any time she’s in a situation where she’s unsure of herself, like when Adam is about to kiss her, or she meets his dad, or...well, you get the idea and I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. In fact, I based her a little bit on the character of Dr. Spencer Reid from the TV show Criminal Minds. In his case, his random knowledge about obscure topics often help to solve their murder cases, or at least point them in the right direction.

One of the most fun things I did during the drafting of this book was researching obscure facts for Dina to spout. I looked up whiskey, baseball and even old-fashioned words for “idiot.” The first few times she rattles something off, Adam is taken aback. Soon, he learns to recognize them as a clue to her discomfort. And eventually, they become endearing.

So tell me, are you a trivia fan? Do you know obscure details or fascinating facts about something no one else does? Or have you researched something and learned more than you ever thought possible about it? Do you always win Trivial Pursuit (do people even play that anymore or am I dating myself)? Tell me something in the comments below and one random winner will receive an e-copy of the first book in this series, Addicted to Love. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Dina Jacobs is a single librarian who has never fit in due to her off-the-charts intelligence, frizzy hair and rounder-than-socially-acceptable figure. She left her past behind until she receives an invitation to her ten-year high school reunion, and all her insecurities return.
Adam Mandel is a single corporate attorney who just missed his third deadline at his father's law firm, the law firm where he is up for junior partner. With his reputation on the line, Adam needs all the help he can get to convince his father that he deserves the promotion.
When Dina and Adam run into each other on a deserted road, Dina thinks Mr. Flashypants can't possibly be interested in someone like her. Adam thinks Dina is just the person to help him improve his reputation. Lies and insecurities force them to take a look at themselves. Can they trust each other to look beyond the surface?


Dina swallowed and peered out the window, half expecting a line of servants to stand outside in greeting. This is where his father lived, and all she worried about was her hair?
Parking in front of the broad stone steps leading to an elaborately carved double door, Adam hopped out of the car and came around to Dina’s side.
“Ready?” he asked as he led her up the stairs.
“Sure.” Fake it ’til you make it, baby.

He rang the bell and as the musical chimes echoed inside, Dina turned to him in puzzlement.
“Wouldn’t it be easier to walk in?”
Before Adam could answer, an older woman in black dress slacks and a white cotton blouse answered the door.
“Mr. Mandel. Your father is in the living room.”
Dina walked with Adam behind the woman, her feet sinking into the Aubusson carpet, and resisted the urge to reach for his hand. She could do this.
Outside the doorway of the living room, he reached for hers. His warm skin against hers and the press of his fingers reassured her. Whether he needed the support, or whether he did it for show, didn’t matter. They were together for the moment.
His father rose as they entered, Adam gave her hand a last squeeze, and walked to his father. They nodded to each other, and his father turned his attention to her.
She held out her hand and he grasped it. While Adam might be Mr. Flashypants, his father was The General, complete with military posture.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Mandel. You have an impressive home.”
He released her grasp and nodded. “You’re quite different from Adam’s usual dates.”
Oof. Adam inhaled, and from the glint in his father’s eye, Dina wondered if he looked for a reaction. Her first impression of him hadn’t been great, and he sure wasn’t helping his cause now. But she was here for Adam, and she’d live up to her side of the bargain.
“I’m sure I am,” she said, a wide grin on her face. Looping her arm through Adam’s, she looked at him, hoping his father could read her expression of adoration.
“May I offer you a drink?” The General asked.
When she nodded and Adam’s father reached for the whiskey decanter, Dina blurted, “Did you know if you laid the 99 million cases of Scotch exported each year end-to-end, they would run the distance between Edinburgh and New York six times?”
Dina froze as the words left her mouth, for the expressions on the men’s faces were...odd. The General’s hand froze in midair above her tumbler, his mouth slightly open, his white brows furrowed. Adam looked between her and his father, nostrils trembling.
“No, I did not know. How...interesting,” The General said. “Adam, would you like one?”
He nodded, eyes sparkling.
They sat in front of the white marble fireplace, glasses in hand and Dina listened to The General and Adam make small talk. Or attempt to. They were really bad at it. The General mentioned the weather and Adam answered with a word or two. Dina launched into a description of cloud formations. Adam mentioned baseball and The General nodded. As the awkward exchange became unbearable and Dina was about to break in with baseball stats, the woman who’d opened the front door for them entered the room after a soft knock.
“Dinner is served.”
The General nodded, reminding Dina of an emperor surveying his subjects. He led them out of the living room, across the expansive foyer and into the dining room. If Adam didn’t hold her hand, she would stop dead in the entryway.
Buy Links:

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

October - My Favorite Month by Diane Burton

October is my favorite month. Here in the upper Midwest, the trees turn into the most gorgeous colors. The days are warm, while the nights are cool. After weeks (months?) of air conditioning, we throw open our windows and let the fresh air in. Yet, in some places, we turn off the air conditioner only to turn on the furnace without a break in between.

Besides the (mostly) gorgeous weather, the best part of October is birthdays. Mine, at the beginning of the month, was a big one. Daughter and daughter-in-law organized family pictures as my birthday gift. After nineteen years, I have a new photo, one that looks more like me.

Our twin grandsons celebrated their first birthday this past weekend. For our son and daughter-in-law, it’s been a long year, yet they say it went by so quickly. Like their cousins before them, the boys were anxious to be born, a month early. First one born weighed a little over 8 pounds, the second was almost 6 pounds. Now, they weigh in at 25 and 20. Each one is an armful.

As they grew, their personalities emerged. Boy #1 (age-wise) got his teeth first, all 6 of them. He crawled first, and now he walks. Still tentatively, arms outstretched, not too steady, but he’s so pleased when he reaches his goal. I love his ready smile, which lights up his eyes. After watching his brother crawl into my lap, he’s doing it, too. Probably the only thing he didn’t do first.

Boy #2 (five minutes younger) plays catch-up with his brother. Having four teeth hasn't slowed down his eating. LOL He’s a speed-demon crawler. Thank goodness, DIL has a kid “corral” so Hubs and I don’t have to race around the house after him. His smile is engaging as he speeds (crawls) to me as soon as I sit on the sofa. Then, using my pantlegs, he pulls himself up and launches himself into my lap. If I don’t pick him up fast enough, he grabs my shirt and pulls, too. That can be a bit risqué. 😊 Although he’s not walking alone yet, he makes it around the room by holding onto furniture.

Can you tell how enamored I am of those two? How much we missed when the older grandkids were this age because we lived four-five hours away, 2,000 miles away for Toddler Girl. I’ve mentioned before how thrilled we are to be living close to both families. As Hubs and I grow older and slow down, we still want to be able to share special times with all five grandchildren. Thursday is Grandparents Day at Toddler Girl’s preschool. You can be sure we won’t miss it.

Halloween brings October to an end. I’m not one for dressing up, but I love watching the kids as they race down the street, running up driveways, ringing doorbells, and hollering “trick or treat!” When it's not too cold or raining, Hubs and I sit at the top of the driveway, our bowl filled with candy by our side. The last couple of years, our next door neighbor sat with us, saving the kids a few steps. LOL We chat and try to figure out whose kids are whose. The costumes are so imaginative. From store-bought to homemade, the costumes remind me of Halloweens years ago when Hubs and I made them. Or when the kids raided the dress-up trunk and made their own.

For the past twenty years, we’ve lived in communities that restrict trick or treating to certain hours. Where we used to live, the fire/tornado siren blared the beginning at 6, then blared again at 8 to signal the end. Then, it’s lights out, and it’s all over for another year.

No matter which part of October is your favorite, tomorrow is the last day for 2018. Enjoy the last bit of Fall, because winter is coming. Brrrr.

Monday, October 29, 2018

#Fact vs #Fiction by Mackenzie Crowne


·         invention or fabrication as opposed to fact

The above definition may be technically correct but, in my humble opinion, imaginary events in literary fiction are based on fact. Or, more precisely, on our own unique version of reality.

Have I sufficiently confused you all? My bad. Let me see if I can explain what I mean.

The way I see it, fiction is a product of the imagination, but our imaginations are rooted in experience. From the day we’re born, we humans begin to observe the world around us. We can’t help it. The instinct is built-in. We learn by observing. In the process, we judge and categorize people, places and situations based on our personal perceptions and once we’ve learned something, that knowledge becomes a part of us.

In other words, our experiences are embedded in our subconscious where we tap into them as needed. For example, when a fiction author sits down to write. The following is true for every aspect of a story, such as season, language, point in history, and characters, but let’s focus on just one thing. Location. Whether the author describes a spot they’ve visited often or a fantastical imaginary world, the sights and sounds, smells and feel, all the distinct features of the location come straight from their mind’s eye – you know, where all those past experiences live.

Each one of us has a store of learned details tucked away in our minds. Yes, even you. They serve as the blueprint of our reality. They document our likes and dislikes, warn us away from repeating past mistakes, and form our biases.

Here’s a quick experiment. Two women are walking down the street toward you. One meets your eye and offers a polite smile. She’s a few pounds overweight with brassy red hair pulled into a bun. The other is tall and thin, her blonde locks combed back in a slick twist. Chin held at a lofty angle, she looks straight ahead, as if you don’t exist, passing by without a glance.

One of these women is a waitress, the other a senator’s wife. Quick! Which is which?

Got it? Okay, good.

So, if you all did as you were told, each of you imagined the women in the roles that most closely align with your past experiences. Now, I could be wrong but, based on my intentional description of the women’s looks and behavior, I’m betting most of you could easily picture the blonde holding a dry martini and fake smiling at the suckers attending the latest swanky political fundraiser.

However, since I purposefully flipped the stereotypes on their heads, hoping to expose your bias, you’d be wrong in this case. The blonde is the waitress. Her name is Margie, by the way, and she’s not one of those big-hearted women everyone who stops in the diner loves. Beneath her perfect exterior, she’s a bitter shrew who’s had a crappy life and has a sharp tongue she uses with far too much frequency.

Which sums up my point. As authors, we sometimes go with the obvious – like the big-hearted waitress and snooty politician’s wife. Other times we gleefully rub our hands together, slipping into our Dr. Frankenstein frocks to piece together unique characters or worlds. However, the details used to flush out the various elements of our stories are always drawn from the deep pool of experience that is our own unique reality.

When Mac isn’t confusing the crap out of the visitors to The Roses of Prose blog, she dons her Dr. Frankenstein frock to create unique characters like Cooper Reed and Riley Pierce, the hero and heroine of THAT DATING THING, Mac’s lighthearted Wall Street romance.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Raising Ben by Betsy Ashton

No one would say I'm a poet. I'm not, but occasionally I write something that goes beyond my standard doggerel. I'm very happy to announce that my poem, "Raising Ben," will be featured in an upcoming anthology, which celebrates the30th anniversary of the Smith Mountain Arts Council. I hope you like it.

Raising Ben

hold my hand
don’t let go
I’ll help you walk

time to eat
it’s your favorite
I’ll feed you

give me a sign
a smile something
show me you know I’m here

one word any word
let me hear your voice


No, not Mama
just me Kathy
your daughter

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.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Prepping for #NaNo

I think I'll do NaNoWriMo this year. I normally don't bother because I write every day anyway. But I'd like to finish 2 more books by the end of the year, so NaNo may be what I need to get that done.

I don't participate in the whole "track my words per day" thing. I never have. It's enough that I write every day and I stay on track to get the book done by X day. I'm about 1/3 of the way done with a current manuscript, and I may set my goal as not November, but the end of the year for both books.

It's good to have goals. I work best with a deadline, so we'll see if it helps. I have a bunch of other events going on between now and the end of the year, and this might not be feasible, so wish me luck!


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

#Jerome, AZ Inspires Joshua, AZ #Series by Brenda Whiteside #suspense #romance

My latest WIP (work in process) is based on a real-life mining town turned ghost town turned tourist town. I fell in love with Jerome, Arizona years ago. In order to have more flexibility with the lay of the land and the history, I've renamed it Joshua. All the people in Joshua are purely from my imagination. This Romantic Suspense Series should keep
Hanging on the side of Spirit Mt.
you turning the pages long into the night. An unsolved murder from 1990 has a bearing on today…especially now that a body, reduced to bones, has been found in the hippie section of town called The Ravine.

Chapter Eight is in the hands of my critique partners. I'm working on nine and ten. FDW and I took a drive to Jerome a couple of weeks ago, which is where the setting my imaginary town is modeled after. Now that I’m this far into the book, I found myself seeing the town as if it really was Joshua. The street names were no longer what the street sign designated them. At one point, I told
FDW I needed a shot of the Ghostly Goulash restaurant. He had no idea what I meant.

A section of town call The Ravine plays a big part in my book. As 
Looking down into The Ravine.
in real life (the Gulch), the inhabitants of that area do not welcome visitors. This section was where the first hippies mainly settled in the 60s and many of them still live there. Through flashbacks, I tell a story set in 1969 about some of those first hippies who ended up making Joshua what it is today. We drove a few yards into the area so I could snap some photos. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good feel for it. My fictionalized edition is much more vivid to me.

This series is stretching my writing abilities. It's a suspense within a suspense that begins in 1969, ramps up in 1990, and culminates in 2019. Through flashbacks the reader will experience a passionate romance, mystery, and suspense that is interwoven with the current story. The current story has its own romantic duo and suspense.
Stairs take you up or down to the next street.

Until then, be sure to read my last series, The Love and Murder Series. You can find all of my books on my Amazon Page and on my web site. You can read the first chapter of all of my books on my web site. And you are welcome to email me with questions or comments whenever you'd like!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Gotta Love The Sweet Spot, And Other News by Margo Hoornstra

Right now I'm at that sweet spot in my current work in progress. Coming into the home stretch to push through the soggy middle and have it completed. Ready to type THE END. In the next few weeks, anyway. Followed, of course, by edits and rewrites then even more edits and rewrites.

True, I do have a ways to go, but I am pumped.

Thanks to the universe et al, I'm cruising right along with On The Make, Brothers in Blue Book 3. I know who the bad guy(s) is/are, I know what happens to whom and why. For the most part, anyway. After all, I am a pantser. However, I do know exactly how my hero and heroine reach their Happy Ever After.

Not to brag or anything, **wink, wink** but the other day I wrote virtually from sunrise to sunset and beyond, and logged an impressive (I think anyway) three thousand plus words. I even wrote most of the final chapter. I'll admit, a little out of sequence, which drives some, I should say one, linearphobic critique partner I know bonkers...but I digress.

As nice as it is to be finishing this one, there are still those Brothers in Blue Books 1 and 2, On The Surface and On The Force respectively. It's promo time for those. Especially OTF, whose release date is fast approaching. (October 29, to be exact.)

Since we've all come to the conclusion blogs don't necessarily sell books, I'm not heavily involved in a blog tour or anything. But. to promote On The Force I am going to make an appearance, as I noted here not too long ago, on the widely read blog Just Romantic Suspense. My dates are November 7 and 8. A reader's format choice copy of On The Surface is my Giveaway Prize.

Thank you, by the way, fellow Rose Buds and others for the wise counsel and always valuable suggestions for tweaking my post to make it more interesting, so I can make the most of my time there.

Another promo event I have going on is a local book signing on Thursday, November 15th from 1-7 PM. The Great Escape: A Deer Widows Expo at the Saranac Public Library in Saranc, Michigan. It's a townwide shopping event with vendors, artisans and authors. This will be my fourth, or maybe it's my fifth time participating, and I've always had good luck, as in many sales, at this event. It's an added plus to be able to get in some shopping myself. Fellow Rose Diane Burton will be there with me. (If nothing else, we can enjoy each other's company if things happen to slow down some.)

In and around that, there's On The Make to wrap up. So I guess I'd better get busy, huh?

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

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Fright I Didn’t Need by Leah St. James

Earlier this month I was checking my email when one in particular caught my eye. It was from “Leah” and the subject line said "Your Password Is," followed by an odd combination of numbers and letters....and oddly familiar sequence. In fact, it was one of my many passwords, one so specifically random (if that makes sense), I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. 

My eyes jumped to the text:

It read:
"(My password repeated here) is your passphrase. Lets get right to the point. You don't know me and you are most likely wondering why you're getting this mail? No-one has paid me to check about you.

"actually, I setup a software on the adult videos (adult porn) website and guess what, you visited this site to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching videos, your browser initiated operating as a Remote Desktop having a keylogger which provided me access to your display as well as web cam. Just after that, my software obtained all of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email . And then I made a double video. First part shows the video you were watching (nasty stuff deleted here), and next part shows the recording of your cam, and it is u."
My instant reaction?

I read further. It went on to demand a payment in Bitcoin (like I’d even know how to do that) or else the sender (purportedly from a account) was going to release this video to the world and I would be so shamed and humiliated. I shouldn’t even think about calling “the cop” because they could never find him. (This phisher is apparently very, very smart.)

Of course I knew it was a fake. I don’t visit those sites—not even for research. And I knew there couldn’t be a video of me. I might write some pretty steam stuff, but it’s not autobiographical! Plus, once I heard that creeps can turn on a device’s camera remotely, I pasted a piece of paper over the lens on my laptop.

Still, I panicked. I didn’t know what to do because video or no video, some vile, disgusting so-called person had one of my passwords. I have them all stored in one location, but I use codes/abbreviations that hopefully only I can decipher. (Turns out I needn’t have been so neurotic; that jerk got my password without even entering my home, much less getting his hands on my password file.)

I called Son No. 1 to get on my laptop and check my records. I needed to know which accounts had been potentially jeopardized. Luckily he was home because I was in full melt-down mode.

The first thing he did was read the offensive message.

Son No. 1:  “Mom, this is a known phishing scam. You didn’t send money, did you?”
Me:  Of course not!
Son No. 1: It’s going to be fine.

Then he found the accounts with that password so I could make sure I wasn’t still using that old password. Then I changed the password on the email account. Then I called my website’s host company to make sure no one had hacked into my website (no one had).

The guy there said it was likely a result of one of those giant data breaches where scammers harvest thousands and thousands of passwords and go to work terrorizing half the world with threats of lurid videos and such. The guy told me they just hope to “get lucky” and find someone naive enough to fall for it.


Anyway, it’s been a few weeks and I haven’t seen any such videos purporting to me out there. I have been researching where best to report the email, but to be honest, I found myself in a quagmire of government agencies to the point I’m wondering if any of them are scams! (I’m so neurotic.)

For now, I’m going to try to pay better attention when those data leaks are announced, and I’m going to be more diligent about changing  my passwords more often. (That’s presuming I figure out the dozens and dozens of websites where I’ve had to create passwords.)

It’s a scary world out there. Happy Halloween. Don’t let the phishers get you.


When not freaking out over con artists’ attempts at ruining her life, Leah sometimes makes up stories about other scary stuff, like ghosts. Below is a blurb and excerpt from Adrienne’s Ghost, her paranormal romantic suspense. 


FBI Agent Jackson Yates had never believed in ghosts…until now.

Called to the deepest, darkest basement at FBI Headquarters to investigate the murder of former agent recruit Adrienne Garza, Jack is forced to look beyond the earthly to the spirit world for answers. Shaken by what he finds, he turns to psychologist Rachael Sullivan for help. But just how does Rachael know so much about Adrienne, who disappeared five years earlier? Can her revelations truly be communications from Adrienne herself? And can he get past his guilt over Adrienne’s death to find love with another?

Rachael Sullivan has spent her adult years seeking knowledge of life after death. She’s focused those years on helping those stricken with the grief, but when she receives messages from beyond the grave, messages that seem to point to the identity of Adrienne’s killer, she is compelled to follow the trail.

As the slain woman’s spirit reveals more and more of her killer, and of her past with investigating agent Jackson Yates, Rachael wonders if the clues are leading her to love, or to death. Drawn together by forces beyond their control, beyond their comprehension, together they seek a killer. Together they encounter…Adrienne’s Ghost.

~~ Excerpt ~~

Rachael set the journals on the table and sorted through the pile until she found the one that began during Adrienne’s high school years, figuring it would be a good place to start. Before she could sit, the diary dropped from her hand and fell to the floor. Tsking at her clumsiness, she retrieved the book, resettled herself into the sofa’s cushions, and turned back to page one. Again the book landed on the floor, but this time it somersaulted through the air, as though it had been propelled by a force.
The surface of her skin beginning to prickle, Rachael stood and scanned the room, to search for the source of an energy strong enough, other-worldly enough to have caused what she’d witnessed. But the room was empty. Or maybe it only seemed empty because she couldn’t see whatever life forces might be hiding just beyond the realm of her comprehension.

Still, she felt like an idiot when she retrieved the diary from the floor, then deliberately closed it and set it on the coffee table, as if she no longer had any interest in the secrets it held. She wondered if the night of passion had scrambled her brains when she sat back to watch, her fingers crossed.

It wasn’t long before her hunch paid off. The journal on top of the pile began to tremble, then buck. Fascinated, Rachael trained her eyes on the book, and as its movements became more frenzied, her heart raced to match its pace. Within a few seconds, the book had somehow shimmied itself forward so it teetered on the edge of the pile, like it needed no more than a tiny nudge to take the plunge.

Debating if she was supposed to provide that nudge, Rachael reached forward, and in that instant a shadowy image materialized inches away from the tips of her fingers. She jolted and snatched her arm back as the shadow transformed into a shape. It was a hand, only a hand, like someone was reaching through a split in some cosmic curtain that separated two dimensions. A shriek whipped up Rachael’s throat, and she slapped both hands to her mouth to stuff it back down. Scrambling backward, she found herself pressed against the couch, ready to run, when the ghostly fingers prodded the diary.

It tumbled over the table’s edge, landing with a thunk, and Rachael dropped to her knees, inhaling one choppy breath after another until her lungs could take no more. She was paralyzed, mesmerized, watching the hand where it hovered over the open book, less than a foot away. The fingernails, ragged and torn, were dirty and stained with smears of what looked like blood. They waggled suddenly, and the pages of the book began to flutter, making the sound of a hundred birds in flight. The air Rachael had been holding expelled in a burst, and her lungs refilled on another giant breath. But before she could scream, the humming from the FBI’s basement, that heartbeat-like pulse, saturated the air.

She didn’t realize she’d scrambled to her feet and retreated until the backs of her legs hit the edge of the sofa. As her muscles gave way to fear, she sagged onto the cushions and watched as Adrienne formed in front of her eyes. Only this time, the ghost didn’t look sad, she looked angry. Angry with Rachael.


Available in Kindle or Kindle Unlimited.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

By Reservation Only is released! by Barbara Edwards

By Reservation Only, the first book in the Deerbourne Inn Series came out and i am wildly happy. With the help of The Wild Rose Press authors I had tons of promo Tweets, sharing on Facebook and visits to blogs. I can’t report being in the top 100 in sales, but I can say I hit 300 in my genre. 

Buy Link:

By Reservation Only, Book One in the Deerbourne Inn Series, is an ongoing saga about the people who visit or live at the Inn. the stories vary from contemporary romance to historical romance, a ghost story and a mystery. and thats only the start.

The second book, Hope's Dream (Deerbourne Inn) by Peggy Jaeger 

Link:  is due out November 5. Available for pre-order.

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

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Fall Comes Cold To The Ozarks

A few weeks ago, fall blew into the Ozarks on a wet and blustery wind. I knew it was coming. All the signs were lined up. Children  returned to school over a month ago. Halloween candy and costumes are stacked high in the stores while Christmas decor is is overflowing from it's waiting spot in the wings.

Outside the trees are donning their seasonal colors. The fog is slower to burn off under the weak morning sun, and there's a chilly snap in the air. Thin plumes of smoke have started emerging from chimneys tinging the air with the smell the burning wood. Pumpkin spice is being hotly debated over social media. Extra blankets are dug out of storage while sweaters, jackets, and boots replace summer gear at the front of the closet.

It's so scenic. Quite Currier and Ives... Hell, I've been cold for two weeks solid as dark, cloudy skies have dumped days of rain on us. Luckily, I'm not sweet enough to melt.

The house feels constantly damp. The air and everything I own is permeated with, let's say, more of a classic wet dog odor than pumpkin-anything. No matter how often I wipe them up, the floor is constantly decorated with muddy paw prints. 

Archer, the approximately five-month, Baby Huey brand puppy that was unexpectedly thrust into my life, has mastered the trick of getting past me at the door. His huge paws tracking mud as he races around and around the couch before jumping up to plop his wet butt on the cushions. With his tongue lolling out in a wide and happy grin, I can just imagine him saying, "And in the morning, I'm making waffles."

Kif, my two-year-old dog also races inside with a vengeance but his motive is to make sure his food dish is safe. Once satisfied no one has eaten from his bowl, he checks to make sure the kittens haven't trespassed into dog territory. Of course, they have. They jumped the gate, to what was once my study and is now their domain, the moment they heard the backdoor shut. 

I've been trying to socialize the four together with mixed success. Lately, the kittens have been standing their ground. Refusing to run back to safety. Their audacity has resulted in thorough lickings. I've learned that rescuing a cat completely drenched in dog spit isn't my idea of fun.

But I've been smug. My escape planned. Tickets had been booked months ago. I was headed to Arizona for a much needed visit with my daughter under rich azure skies with lots of sun. Sweet, sweet sunshine which was in short supply this year in Missouri. I might wear jeans and a jacket on the plane but my suitcase held shorts, sandals, and t-shirts. 

Yes, I checked the weather forecast for Phoenix. On the phone, my daughter said it was unusually cool. I scoffed. After all, I'd been living in Thomas Hood's poem November.  
No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day

I arrived in the state known for having the most sunshine to find it overcast and cold. For three days straight I've worn the only pair of jeans I brought. As I type, my hands are freezing and I've a throw over my legs. There is no sun. There is no heat. Arizona is not living up to its name and the insult is overwhelming.

But I'm still so glad I here. My daughter's smile is brighter than any sun and I've been enjoying seeing my heart-grandkids. My, how they've grown.    


My trip to not-so-sunny Arizona ends this weekend, and it will be hard to leave. However, I might find Missouri's fickle weather will be warm again.

As a landlocked Missourian, I feel guilty complaining about rain.  Yes, we flood here in the heartland, and it can be destructive. However, it is nothing like being directly in a hurricane's path. My heart goes out to those hit by these deadly storms. In no way am I trying to diminish their suffering with my lighthearted pettiness. 


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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Moving Up the Rejection Food Chain and Perceptions of Women by Jannine Gallant

So, I had an interesting phone call the other day. First of all, I always thought getting a call from a publisher was supposed to be good news. I must be special because I've had not one, but TWO rejection phone calls from editors in the last couple of months. Honestly, I felt pretty good about it. Used to be, I received a rejection form letter email saying "Sorry (insert author name), but your book (insert title) isn't right for us. Good luck." I bet you can all relate. But this time the editorial director of the romance division of a large publishing house picked up the phone and apologized for not getting back to me sooner! She also said she was very interested in me, BUT (you knew there was going to be a BUT, right?) she wasn't thrilled about my proposed series. She didn't think it would sell well. And that isn't a risk a publisher wants to take with a print series.

So, let's talk about what sells in today's market because I honestly found our conversation fascinating. It also made me lose sleep over what market perception says about society (and women) in general. First, I write romantic suspense. Maybe other sub-genres have different requirements, but I'm guessing a lot of this crosses over from one to the next. I (in my infinite ignorance) decided to change things up a little (okay, a LOT) when I wrote the first book in this new series. You may remember COUNTERSTRIKE is a series about a black ops type group that rescues kidnapped victims. She really liked that idea, by the way. BUT (that word again) I did not create a band of brothers headlining the group. I have both men and women working together.

The heroine of book one, Deadly Encounter, is a bad-ass sniper who kills bad guys and saves people. She quits the team, but danger follows her, and she continues to be a bad-ass throughout the book. The hero, an author of thrillers, sort of comes along for the ride. He pulls her but out of trouble a few times, and he offers moral support. He is very self-confident and successful in his own right, and he doesn't feel threatened by her bad-ass-ness. Okay, maybe he does a little, but he works through it. And he does save her butt in the end! Apparently strong, kick-ass women who used to be snipers aren't relateable. And that is key in the romance market. What sells in romantic suspense is Alpha males who save every-day, relateable women. I turned the trope on its head. I thought I was being original. Turns out, the editor was very clear in saying publishers don't want original. They want what sells. She wants heroes who are military or cops and other similar hero-ish professions. She wants heroines who have spunk and personality but have careers women can relate to.

So, then we talked about book two. My heroine is a professor and a scientist who has discovered a cure for dementia. Until she loses her memory after she's kidnapped and takes a blow to the head. The editor was not a fan of that trope, even though I use it as an ironic foil to her life's work, and she does get her memory back, and the story isn't about how she forgot she loved the hero or anyone else, for that matter. The hero is the team medic who saves her and continues to protect her as trouble stalks her throughout the book. The editor didn't think a scientist, super-smart woman was very relateable, either. She's not every-woman.

So, I have to ask myself, do women who read romance really only want to read about strong men and unexceptional women who need to be saved? My oldest daughter read Deadly Encounter and said it was her favorite book of mine. She loved that my heroine was a bad-ass woman sniper. But then Tara is a super smart, bad-ass woman who races triathlons and kicks most boys' butts. She could relate. Apparently Tara isn't my target market. The editor said, as a woman, she isn't thrilled about the stereotype, but as an editor, she has to buy what sells. So, do publishers assume women who read romance can only identify with heroines who are average (not scientific geniuses) and need a man to save them? Or is that what most women truly relate to? I always assumed romance readers came from all demographics, but perhaps I was wrong. So, chew on this, each of you lovely ladies who believes in strong women... If I had reversed the rolls of my main characters in Deadly Encounter and made the man the sniper and the woman the author, I'd probably be signing a contract right now.

As it is, I've decided this series isn't the right vehicle to pitch to an agent or attempt to sell to a different big publisher. I'm going to self-publish it and HOPE that there are romantic suspense readers out there who CAN identify with a bad-ass heroine. I guess we'll find out. I won't release this series until 2019 since I still have my final Siren Cove book coming out in November about a very relateable heroine who sells antiques! The editor I talked to did say she would happily read another submission from me in the future. As long as I make my heroines more womanly and my heroes more Alpha. I've done it before. I may even do it again.

In the meantime, my entire BORN TO BE WILDE series and BURIED TRUTH are still on sale for .99 cents for the rest of the month. Give them a try. And if you like them, leave me a review. I swear, most of these heroines are relateable! Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wait? You're a Writer? by Betsy Ashton

All of us who write get a series of questions, most of which are asked out of curiosity, a few out of envy, and even fewer to debase us.

  • How long does it take to write a book?
  • What's your "real" job?
  • How long do you write every day?
  • How much money do you make?
  • Are you a best-selling author?
  • I've never heard of you. You must not be very good.
The list goes on and on, like the road leading out of the Shire. Let's dig into these and see if I can clarify my answers:

  • How long does it take to write a book? As long as it takes. Use "How long is a piece of string?" to give the questioner a sense of just how silly this question seems to those of us who write all the time
  • What's your "real" job? Writing is my real job. Between my family, writing my allotted number of pages, interacting with readers, Skyping with book clubs, and promoting my materials through social media, it's a "real" job. It's even what I list on my IRS returns where the forms ask for occupation. I answer, "Author."
  • How long do you write every day? I put in a good four or five hours each day in creating new material and editing older material. New material begins with a blank screen. On a terrific day, I fill up that screen and many more with words. On the next day, I look at those words and see how many I can keep. Sometimes it's most of the new work; other times most is designated "what the heck was I thinking?" and moved to the parking lot, a graveyard for what seemed good ideas at the time.
  • How much money do you make? Best answered politely with "I never discuss money," when you really want to say, "How often do you have sex?" Same degree of "none of your damned business" questioning. Some people think it's fine to be snoops. They usually end up dead in a subsequent novel.
  • Are you a best-selling author? If I was, you'd know it.
  • I've never heard of you. You must not be very good. Well, that is a matter of opinion. My readers think I'm pretty good. As I add more with each book, I rise in the ranks of authors. So, if you haven't heard of me, shame on you. You're not paying attention.
It's hard sometimes to paste that smile on your face, but you have to do it. These people are future readers, most likely. They may not remember what you write but they will remember that you dissed them. Don't diss them. Honor the comment with a polite one of your own. No matter that we don't like being in public, the first time that pesky novel hits print, you are now a public figure. Enjoy it.
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, October 16, 2018

Book Festivals and New Release by Diane Burton

Is it worth it to do book festivals? I've participated in six events in two and a half months. Most were local, so mileage wasn't too bad. Plus, most I shared a ride with another author, which cut the gas and table cost in half. But, here's the kicker question: did I break even? Half and half. That's disappointing. I have three more this fall, then it's time to re-evaluate.

When sitting at a table, watching potential readers sail by is disheartening. But sometimes they stop and pick up my book. I tell them a little about it--like it takes place nearby, which always gets a smile. Just when I think they'll buy it, they set the book down and say they'll be back. I know they won't. They're just being polite. 

But then there's a person who buys all three books in a series because she's going on vacation and wants to read mysteries. Yay! Or the person who says she's read all my books and wants the newest one. Double yay!

A book event is a mixture of surprised elation and heartbreak. Besides the cost of gas and the table, there's also the time. Should I be home writing the next story or working on promo? Or playing with the grandkiddies? The latter is the most fun.

In anticipation of these events, I finally put two of my shorter books (ROMANCE REKINDLED and MISSION TO NEW EARTH) in paperback. ROMANCE REKINDLED is a Christmas story, so I have big hopes for that one the closer we get to the holidays.

Now for the best news. In August, I received the rights back to ONE RED SHOE, a romantic suspense. I love this book. I love all my books, but this one has a special place in my heart. Our own Alicia Dean did the original editing and made the story so much better. Because the cover art belonged to the publishing house, I needed a new one. Our own Alison Henderson did the cover. I hope you think it's as good as I do. I love it!

Here's a little about ONE RED SHOE:

It Happened One Night meets Knight and Day
When elementary teacher Daria Mason left Iowa for a writers’ conference in New York City, she didn’t expect to come home with a wounded spy. Sam Jozwiak works for a shadow agency that gathers intel vital to U.S. security. From the moment he steals digital files from a Russian Mafia kingpin, Murphy’s Law takes over. No matter how he covers his tracks, the kingpin’s assassins find him. What’s worse than getting shot in the butt? Accepting help from an Iowa tourist. Thus, begins a road trip that takes Sam and Daria cross country with the assassins right behind them.


For the second time in her life, Daria Mason came face-to-face with a man pointing a weapon at her. A pervert, with unzipped jeans, wielded a green box knife. Because she’d raced into the restroom without checking out the situation, he now stood between her and the exit.
She was at the end of the proverbial rope. After walking in circles, she finally found a restroom and nobody was stopping her from using it. Especially not someone playing copycat with that guy in the movie who wore one red shoe.
“I am having a really bad day,” she declared in the don’t cross me voice she used on her brothers. As soon as her words echoed off the hideous pink and black tiled walls and floor, she lowered her voice. “You are in the wrong place, mister. Now zip up and get out.” She pointed straight-armed toward the door.

The man shook his head and set the flimsy knife on the counter. “Lady, you have more guts than sense. You are in the wrong place, at the wrong time.” His voice was even softer than hers. He eyed her with a look so dark and intense it paralyzed her like a hawk freezes its prey. She swallowed past the fear in her throat, certain it sounded like a gulp.

ONE RED SHOE is available for pre-order at Amazon