04-27-19 – Award winning author – Paty Jager

04-29-19 – Co-Writing the Cozy Mystery – Traci Hall

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A funny thing happened on the way to the Easter Bunny's arrival

By Cassandra O'Leary

Kids. You can't make up some of the stuff they say and do. You can encourage their imagination and learning, but what happens next is often a surprise. Like the ubiquitous line about boxes of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. If you wanted writing inspiration for a middle grade book, my house would be where it's at...wait, there's a thought! Mental note: write kids' book about imagination. I'll just add that to my list of approximately thousands of other books to write.

Anyway, with 9 and 7 year old boys in the house, Easter is an exciting time around here. For chocolate reasons. We're not a particularly religious family but we have been upholding the tradition of the Easter Bunny and a chocolate egg hunt around our house and backyard on Easter Sunday morning. As time marches on and kids start to grow up, some of the wild imagination becomes tempered with, if not reality, a healthy dose of scepticism and invention worthy of junior scientists.  

My big boy is at an age where he suspects certain parental involvement in certain Easter hunt related activities. He is, however, a sweet mix of innocent and clever, working out that ruining Easter surprises for his little brother is probably going to impact his overall chocolate quota too.

"Do YOU hide the Easter eggs around the house?" Mr 9 asked me point blank on Easter Saturday afternoon.
Caught on the hop, I replied with a laughing, "That's classified."
Undeterred, he asked, "But is it you?"
"Noooo," I said carefully but truthfully. Because if a certain husband had been there, his answer may have been different.

On to Mr 7, who began explaining in elaborate, Technicolor detail the dream he had about how the Easter Bunny flies to different houses in a hovercraft type vehicle and then teleports into people's houses to deliver Easter eggs on some kind of purple cloud. Mr 9 and I blinked at each other, but agreed this sounded amazing. My little guy is future sci fi writer, perhaps. So proud.

He suddenly stopped talking, then burst out, "But we have a puppy now!"

Eyes wide, Mr 7 explained how he read the information from the vet about how dogs can't eat chocolate because it's poisonous to them (good reading, I must say).

"So we have to tell the Easter Bunny not to leave chocolate on the floor!"

So, I  present Exhibit A: Letter to the Easter Bunny.
This note was pinned to our front door, and Mr 7 thought some more. He wanted to know how the teleportation worked. (Didn't we all?)

So began the technology and interactive part of the evening. Mr 7 is a smart little cookie and has learned a lot about apps and programming his iPad at school. Of course he decided to set up his iPad to take automatic time-lapse photos of his bedroom overnight, hoping to catch the Easter Bunny in action.

Cue my husband stealthily (not) sneaking around outside the kids' bedroom window at about 10 pm, trying to drop Easter eggs into their open window. While holding a bemused puppy on leash. While an annoyed cat jumped out of said window and escaped into the night. Then a little boy sat up in bed and waved to his Dad. Cheeky wide awake child alert! Dad slunk away, saying he was looking for the cat.

All of this was recounted to me in fits of whispers and giggles as I looked after the puppy, and husband went off to actually retrieve the cat. And to do a kind of puppet show with kids' stuffed animal toys dancing past the iPad camera in the bedroom. Since I'm also very mature, I helped by doing a dance for camera too. No, I'm not posting those pics.

The next morning, Mr 7 sadly informed me (at 6am when I was still in bed) that the Easter Bunny hadn't visited! I suggested he have a careful look around...

The Easter Bunny ended up delivering a nice basket on our front doorstop, and the kids WALKED RIGHT PAST IT in the morning. After they took the dog out for a little walk in the yard, I strongly suggested they take a tour of the outside of the house to see if maybe there were any Easter eggs they had missed.

And it all ended happily ever after, with much eating of chocolate and giggling at iPad footage.

THE END (until next Easter).

P.S. my chocolate themed short romcom read is a perfect post-Easter treat, minus the calories. Chocolate Truffle Kiss is only 99c or FREE in Kindle Unlimited! Note: this is a sexy romance, not a kids book.

About Cassandra O'Leary 

Cassandra O'Leary is a romance and women's fiction author, communications specialist, avid reader, film and TV fangirl and admirer of pretty, shiny things. 

In 2015, Cassandra won the We Heart New Talent contest run by Avon Books/HarperCollins UK. Her debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was published in July 2016. Cassandra was also a 2015 finalist in the Lone Star writing contest, Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America, and a 2014 finalist in the First Kiss contest, Romance Writers of Australia.

Cassandra is a mother of two gorgeous, high-energy mini ninjas and wife to a spunky superhero. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she's also travelled the world. If you want to send her to Italy or Spain on any food or wine tasting 'research' trips, that would be splendiferous.

Read more at cassandraolearyauthor.com 

Time Passages

by M. L. Buchman

This blog has monthly themes and, curiously, this month has two. "A funny thing happened..." and it's the 8th anniversary of Romancing the Genres. I was invited to join some 7-1/2 years ago, but I'll pretend that's it's my 8th anniversary here as well.

And it is curious, but a funny thing did happen over the last eight years...I became a writer.

It's actually a very curious progression that allows me to say that and for it to have meaning.

Just over twenty-five years ago I was a burned-out corporate project manager who had lost his career, his job, the house he'd spent 7 years remodeling, everything (courtesy of an unscrupulous business partner). Twenty-five years ago I was bicycling around the world and, for reasons unknown to me, I'd begun writing my first novel (which was also my first fiction...ever). That novel would eventually turn into my first novel sale some four years later to a tiny house that folded soon after.

Eight years ago, in 2011, I was once again a corporate project manager, I was again burning out, but I was also writing. I'd written five or six novels over the fifteen-plus years, garnered my requisite large folder of rejections (somewhere north of 440 of them), and miracle of miracles, sold my first series. My "little hobby" was still a year from launching its first novel on anything more significant than this curious device called a Kindle (the so-called Kindle Christmas marking mainstream acceptance wasn't until December 2011).

In early 2013 (once again spit out by corporate), my wife and I made the leap. We bet on my writing. I wrote my ass off and it worked; I've now been a full-time writer for over six years.

But it's never that simple, is it?

When did I become a writer?

Was it July 22nd, 1993 when I wrote the first words of what eventually became my first fantasy novel and first sale, Cookbook from Hell: Reheated?
Click for more info
Was it the date that I set my alarm clock two hours earlier on October 10, 1995 (I was not an early riser), so that I could write before work? It wasn't with my first publication, nor my tenth, nor as I became a full-time writer.

Curiously (or should I say "funnily along the way..."), it seems to just be happening now. I've written over sixty novels and seventy-five short stories. You'd think that would have tipped me over. But it was my third non-fiction book that has finally flipped the switch inside my brain.

Self-help references for writers often strike me as near comical. Some are great, but so many of them are "now I've written two books, so I have tons of great advice to share." I wondered how much experience I'd need before I felt that I had something truly worth sharing to help other writers.

I found it. Brand new this month, it contains everything I've learned to date about character voice.

Click for more info
And curiously enough, a funny thing has happened over the last eight years--perhaps most of all in the writing of this little book. I'm not longer an ex-corporate project manager who writes.

Without my really becoming aware of it: I am now a writer.

Has your brain flipped that switch yet? If so, what did it take for that to happen to you?

M.L. "Matt" Buchman has over 60 novels, 75 short stories, and a fast-growing pile of audiobooks out in the world. M.L. writes romance, thrillers, and SF&F…so far. Three-times Booklist "Top-10 Romance Novel of the Year." NPR and B&N "Best 5 Romance of the Year." RITA finalist. As a 30-year project manager with a geophysics degree who has: designed and built houses, flown and jumped out of planes, and bicycled solo around the world, he is awed by what's possible. More at: www.mlbuchman.com.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Amnesia from the Inside Out by Sarah Raplee


A funny thing happened…eight days ago as I was getting ready for bed. My husband and I were staying in a hotel room overlooking the thundering Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. As I walked from our hotel bathroom to our bed
I lost my memory.

          The last thing I remember is reaching for the doorknob to open the bathroom door. My husband, Chuck told me later that I walked to the bed and lay down, saying “I don’t feel very good.”
          When he asked me what was wrong, I told him I didn’t know. I looked around and asked him where we were. That’s when he went into medical mode. He’s a former Emergency Medical Technician. 
CALL 911

         Chuck checked me for signs of stroke, but physically I seemed fine. Mentally, I had forgotten much of the past four months of our lives. I also seemed to forget the new moments as soon as they passed. I knew who I was, I knew who he was, I could name my children and grandchildren. I knew where we lived in the western foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. But I asked Chuck the same questions over and over, each time forgetting I had asked and he had answered only a moment before.
I had no idea why we were in a hotel in Bend where my mom, sister and brother-in-law lived. I didn’t remember that we had rented a truck. I didn’t remember we’d spent the day loading the truck with furniture and other items Mom had left me when she died in December. I couldn’t tell Chuck what had happened December fifth, the day Mom passed.
I don’t remember any of that clearly, just a confused jumble of snippets of memory.
I do remember how shocked I felt when he asked me if I remembered our daughter was in jail (for the first time in her life!) I couldn’t believe it. She had been in jail for almost a month. In that moment of clarity, I knew I’d lost my memory.
St. Charles Medical Center Bend
After a few minutes of assessing the situation, Chuck decided to drive me to the nearby hospital.
I was in and out of the memory-making business for hours. During this time, I felt “in the moment” as never before. And so vulnerable, because who knew what I said and did since the last memory? What if this was permanent? What would I do? Who would I be? How much of consciousness depends on memory? How much of one’s identity? How much of one’s essence?
I remember climbing up into the sixteen-foot long Penske truck to go to the Emergency Room. I don’t remember the drive. I remember getting out of the truck and walking through the emergency room doors…I remember being on a gurney wearing a hospital gown and having two young guys with the same name in the room. (Don’t remember the name.) One of them took my vitals. The other tried to find a vein to draw blood. He seemed to be in training…
          Some time later, I remember a kind doctor telling us that he was sure I had Transient Global Amnesia, something he’d encountered multiple times in the ER. There is no treatment. He said doctors don’t really understand what happens to cause the rare illness, but having a history of migraines may have something to do with it.
Physical or emotional stress are suspected triggers. Luckily, patients recover their ability to make memories within a day and I seemed to be recovering quickly.
I told him I had gotten migraines since I was a teen.
Chuck grinned and said, “This is about the fifteenth time you’ve said that.”
          Now I wonder how many times the doctor patiently explained my condition to me. And how many other memories are gone forever.
          The doctor ordered blood tests and a urinalysis to check for an infection, and a CT scan to rule out a stroke. After about four hours, he cleared me to return to our hotel room to get some rest. I still didn’t feel quite right somehow, but I was functional. I’d also recovered the memories of events from before I got sick, thank God. I felt somewhat optimistic.
          We drove three hours home that afternoon. By the time we arrived, I had a nagging headache. (Headache, nausea and dizziness are common with this type of amnesia.) Our son’s family helped Chuck unload the truck.
          The next day I had a bad headache all day. By the third day, the headache was gone. I was pretty emotional for a couple days. For five days, I slept longer than usual and had some trouble focusing.
Sarah Raplee
Now I seem to be back to a new normal, having permanently lost most of my memories for part of a day, and knowing what having a rare form of amnesia is like from personal experience.
It seems ironic that I’ve been writing a heroine with amnesia in my sequel to BLINDSIGHT. I hope I can use my experience to better understand Sophie, although her amnesia is much more extreme than what I experienced.

Feel free to ask questions! ~Sarah

Monday, April 22, 2019

It's a Journey All Right!

by Courtney Pierce

A funny thing happened on the way to writing my first book. Well . . . maybe not so funny, but let's give it a go..

The seeds of a book percolated inside me for over a decade, but I didn't do anything about it. After 25 years in corporate life, the routine had grown tiresome, and the constant business travel put me on the road to official burnout. So in 2011, when my company wanted to transfer me from Houston to New York City (a third relocation), I heartily declined. I wanted to move back to Portland, Oregon, to be closer to my family. It was also as far away from New York as I could get.

I needed a sabbatical. With a healthy buyout of my employment contract, I took a year off to recharge my batteries, the goal being to finally write that book. Dreamy images filled my thoughts: sitting on the patio with a cup of chamomile tea, typing away on my laptop, and taking long walks for inspiration. I made my fantasy a reality . . . for exactly two weeks.

Then the phone rang one evening. It was my Dad.

“Hey, Kid," he said. "Can I talk to you for a few minutes?” His tone made my heart pound. Something was wrong. My parents lived four hours away in Southern Oregon. I eyed my car keys on the kitchen counter for a possible impromptu road trip.

“Sure. What’s up, Bear?" I said. "Everything okay?” I kept my voice upbeat by using his nickname. We all had nicknames. Our real names were saved for being in trouble.

“I think we need to move up your way. Can you help us find a house?”

“What’s going on?”

“We need to be closer to you and better healthcare. Mom has colon cancer, and I have bladder cancer.”

My mind immediately created on image of bacon circling in the microwave while two cigarettes smoldered in an ashtray. But it wasn't the time to spew out a healthcare lecture.

That phone call was only the beginning. Over the next six months, my Dad added congestive heart failure to his health rap sheet, my Mom had her own heart attack after her cancer surgery, and my younger sister had a breakdown and attempted suicide. For a few of those months, three members of my small, close family were on the brink of death in the same hospital. 

My first book, Stitches, was in the gestation phase, and I feared my inspiration to write would be relegated to a mere pipe dream. Days were spent making the rounds in the hospital: Oncology, Cardiology, and the Psychology wings. The medical staff became an extension of my familial network with their words of encouragement.  My older sister and I stuck together like glue on the phone, but she lived too far away to help me in real time. 

Every day I’d sit for a couple of hours in each of my family member’s rooms with my laptop, attempting to heal with my story's theme of a found magical artifact that holds the secret of immortalityThe Thin Man meets History Detectives with a twist of magic

Writing quickly became therapy. And the nurses took ownership of Stitches with me.

I believed that my story could give my family everlasting life, written in silence at their bedsides and read aloud when they stirred. And then something really did start to happen. In the darkest moments, my prose became progressively lighter and more humorous. Words became super fuel in the form of a simple return smile, a brightening of eyes, or a chuckle. The healing had officially begun.

They say that laughter is the best medicine. I can say with conviction that it’s true. And remaining true to the rules of writing craft, I hefted my protagonists over the hump of “all hope is lost” to land them squarely on their feet with courage and conviction. The hospital rounds of therapy dogs, meant for patients, elevated me, too, with each stroke of their fur.

Dad lived long enough to see Stitches in print. I lost him soon after its publication. And my Mom . . . well . . . she’s an Energizer Bunny. At eighty-five, she’s independent and indestructible, and seven years and six books later, Mom remains cancer free with a resilient heart. My little sister recovered and regained her independence. And to keep the inspiration going, I wrote the fictional Dushane Sisters Trilogy with Mom and my two sisters in mind. The trickster therapy dogs in that series were a celebration of my hospital time too.

The original manuscripts for all my published books are locked in Mom’s cedar chest, because she’s convinced that I’ll be famous one day. That's a mom for 'ya. I guess I really did have the ability to make my family immortal on the page. And in my next book, Big Sky Talk, Dad will forever live up to his nickname in the form of a reincarnated grizzly bear. We'll get to have another indelible conversation.

The light of Inspiration is brighter when emerging from the dark, but it takes a healthy dose of love and sacrifice to realize the reward.

Photo: Micah Brooks
Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband. stepdaughter, and their brainiac cat, Princeton. Courtney writes for the baby boomer audience. She spent 28 years as an executive in the entertainment industry and uses her time in a theater seat to create stories that are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. She has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. Active in the writing community, Courtney is a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and on the Advisory Council of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She is a member of Willamette Writers, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and She Writes. The Executrix received the Library Journal Self-E recommendation seal.

Audiobook now Available!
Check out all of Courtney's books: 

Print and E-books are available through most major online retailers, including Amazon.com.

Available Now!
Book 3 of the
Dushane Sisters
The Dushane Sisters Trilogy concludes with Indigo Legacy, available now. There's love in the air for Olivia and Woody, but will family intrigue get in the way? Ride along for the wild trip that starts in a New York auction house and peaks in a mansion on Boston's Beacon Hill. 

The Dushane sisters finally get to the truth about their mother.

New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."

Saturday, April 20, 2019

In Praise of a "Bad Pick"

By Robin Weaver

I am delighted to tell you about the latest Linda Lovely novel, Bad Pick. Before I do, let me tell you a little bit about the author.

There’s a crazy quote that reads: A friend will help you move, but a real friend will help you move a dead body.  Linda would also check for a pulse and dig the hole for the corpse. Not literally, of course (at least not yet J). We did, however, spent an entire Saturday afternoon devising the twenty most unusual places to discover a non-breather.

Linda is not only a good friend, she’s a lovely person.  A once-upon-a-time vegan who runs a non-profit organization, she volunteers in her community, and even better, the woman makes bucket-loads of candy for her friends. Linda often drops everything to proofread a manuscript because someone stupidly forget a blog was due. If you looked up the word nice in the dictionary, her picture would be there. 

Only do you know what his uber-nice, ulta-giving person does when she gets her fingers on a keyboard????   She kills people with fire ants, boils men in defective hot tubs, and runs over perfectly nice ex-FBI agents with motorcycles.

Thus, Bad Pick is the best pick for your spring reading list.  But don’t take just my word for it.  Read what other amazing authors are saying about this delightfully spooky book below:

"There's such a lot to enjoy in Linda Lovely's third Brie Hooker mystery BAD PICK. Of course, I came for the goat yoga and the religious extremists (I'm only human), but I stayed for the love triangle, the female friendships, the family members rubbing along so realistically, the sidelights on vegan cooking and the rich depiction of small-town life. And what kept me flicking the pages fast enough to cause a draft? The twisty, knotty, killer plot underneath all that charm. BAD PICK is a good un!"
Catriona McPherson, Multi-Award-Winning Author of the Last Ditch Mysteries.

“Wow! In Bad Pick, Lovely wrote an amazing novel only to see one part of the plot come to life in headlines all over the country. A fringe religious cult, a Supreme Court nominee, and goat yoga combine together in a tale that fans of mysteries won’t want to miss.
Sherry Harris, Agatha Award Nominee and Author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries. 

“The Brie Hooker mysteries from author Linda Lovely continue to entertain, this time with extremists who really don't like the farm's new goat yoga offering. You'll find yourself muttering, "What the feta?" as you follow the action around not one but two murders from the edge of your seat. Fix yourself a chevre sandwich and sit down to enjoy a delightful - and suspense-filled - read.”
Edith Maxwell, Author of the Local Foods Mysteries and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries.

BAD PICK, the latest cozy in the Brie Hooker Mystery Series, brings the cast of characters we’ve come to love back in full force. The heroine, Brie Hooker, continues to prove she’s a good sport, even though she’s facing an extra test in this book—dating two men, best friends, who’ve agreed sex is off the table.  As a vegan, Brie still has to contend with good-natured ribbing from her Aunt Eva, a dedicated carnivore who owns the goat farm where Brie lives and works.
Among Brie’s family and friends, my favorite is Mollye, a devil-may-care fun-to-the-core type of woman. Every time the fortuneteller, pottery maker, and proprietor of a new age shop appears it puts a smile on my face.
Then there’s Aunt Eva. I live in the country with horses and a mule, so I feel like I know Eva. She’s the type of person you could call at two in the morning and tell her your horse was down with colic. By two-fifteen, she’d show up to help you walk the horse until dawn.
In addition to letting me have fun with the characters, the BAD PICK plot offered plenty of action and intrigue, including one plot element that’s right out of today’s headlines. Bottom line: BAD PICK offers a wonderful way to spend a spring or summer afternoon sitting on a wrap-around porch with a frosty iced tea by your side.
Haird Lewis, Critiquer Extraordinre, Souther Gentleman, and Writer of Mysteries and Young Adult Fiction

Order your copy of Bad Pick today at Hennery Press or Amazon.com. While you're there, take a peek the other fab books in this series: Bones to Pick and Picked Off.


Friday, April 19, 2019

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way...

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of sci-fi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions. This month's topic challenged me as I'm not naturally funny, so I opted for a humorous past post. So here's a journey to my favourite place, which is...
...bed. Mmm. Cuddly pillows, memory foam mattress. A nice thick duvet this time of year wrapped in a soft cotton cover that I can burrow under and shut out the world. Wonderful....zzzz...

(not me, BTW. Or my bed)
Whut?! Oh, sorry, must have drifted off there. Hmm, yes, I like my bed. Long lazy lay-ins at the weekend, when I can daydream about my next book. But not very convenient. Would you believe I have to get up to change the DVD or get coffee? How outrageous is that? And not very interesting to you, right?

Okay, let's think again. My favourite place is...the summer house. Yes! Sitting in the summer house with my laptop while dappled sunlight falls across the porch, birds singing in the trees, flowers and greenery everywhere, and the contented sound of my bantam chooks foraging around the undergrowth. In summer nothing beats it. Except...

...the beach. Oh! The beach! Bright blue skies and pale golden sand stretching forever, The rush of the sea and its changing colours - sometimes blue, sometimes grey, sometimes green, or even brown when storm and tide have churned up the sands into the water - and the wonderful sounds of the waves with their tips white with foam or sparkling in the sun sweeping across the sand.

But...there's usually other people. And children. And speedboats and bikes whizzing around on the water. Lots and lots of other noises over the sound of the sea. Stray footballs getting too close for comfort, the one family that decides to pitch right up in front of you blocking your view of the sea and your kids playing there, the rubbish left by the family the day before, or the nasty surprise left by a fisherman.

Yes, this really is me and I really
did find this left on the beach

Sigh. Maybe it's no surprise that one of my stories features such a beach on an isolated tropical island where my two main characters can enjoy the solitude. Now if only I could go there.

So, I still haven't answered the question. If none of those suit then my favourite place is...inside a book. Of course! I have over three hundred on my Kindle and Kobo, and in a household with three voracious readers and two keen readers, even more in print on various bookshelves around the house. In fact, sometimes I even think we might have too many books (but only for a second!). Yes, with all those books I have hundreds of places to go to. But how do I choose just one? I can't. I'd like to visit them all. But are any of them my favourite?

Let's think about this again. Where is my favourite place?

Light bulb! Yes. That's it! My favourite place to be is inside my very own head. There, I can go anywhere in time and space that I want to, and it can be anything I want it to be. Yay!

Oh, but I can't take you there or share it with you. I'm afraid all you would find inside my head is a load of gloopy grey matter. Darn.

No. Wait. I can take you there! All you need to do is go to my website at http://pippajay.co.uk. I can even provide no-cost transportation to two of the places inside my head because The Bones of the Sea and Tales from the SFR Brigade are both completely free to download. And bonus because Tales is an anthology of eight out of this world scifi romances, so you get to visit worlds created by seven other authors as well. Are you ready to go have an adventure?

Good. Sorted! ^-^

I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul, and I hope you've enjoyed the tour of my favourite places. Now tell me yours. :)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The side trips of life....

Brief note before regular scheduled post...
I'm late...life is really running me over lately. But that isn't an excuse for not meeting your commitments so I apologize. 
Now on to our regular post
The theme or topic this month is 'a funny thing happened on my way to...' Sometimes the side trips are more or as fun as the actual destination. Whenever I take a road trip (without hubby who is an over-the-truckdriver and doesn't believe in side trips) I have many many stops plan...and they are ALL at ...
For those who follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lynceeshillard) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/lyncee_shillard/) now I have a slight obsession with doughnuts.  I took my 7 year-old to Shedds  Aquarium over spring break. The Aquarium was amazing but oh the doughnuts!!!

A cappuccino whoopie pie!

Voted the best bear claw in Michigan

A triple fried cinnamon roll

Death by red velvet

How do you pick???

Got to have fruit....it's good for you

Charlie with a coconut macaroon cookie

A snicker doodle muffin

And cannoli from Little Italy Bakery

Whenever I plan a trip, I always look up bakeries along the way. It's what we do. I know some people love to see the largest ball of twine, and I'm good with that as long as I can eat a doughnut while looking at it.

I'm a firm believer that you have to enjoy the trip to the destination. Be to an amazing place like Shedd's Aquamarine or just to the local park. Often in life we become focused on our destination and we miss sooo much. While it's a balance not to get lost in the side trips and miss the destination entirely, the side trips, in my opinion are what enhances the destinations.

When planning a trip do you have 'favorite' or 'must sees' that you incorporate?

And when I'm not traveling to bakeries, I write ;-) I have a new release coming out in June... here the cover which I think looks almost as good as the doughnuts

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Will Write For Carrots

I love writing. I really do. I can't imagine my life without it. So why is it such a struggle?

We had a great discussion at my writers group on the weekend where we talked about what joy writing gives us, but also what we fear. I fear facing the keyboard and not knowing what to type. I want to write my stories, I love my ideas and my characters. I even sometimes love what I've written - but the anticipation of 'will words come into my head?' is a great procrastination inducer.

Deadlines are an obvious incentive (aka 'cracking whip'), but they are also a bit ethereal. They're 'sometime in the future' and it's easy to push aside because there's still plenty of time. I've retired from having a 'day job' and my time is pretty much my own. If I wanted, I could sit at my desk (or on my couch which is where I prefer to write) and work on my writing for eight hours. But that doesn't work for me.

I work best in 100 word sprints. It's a small, achievable goal. It's not daunting.  I am so envious of those who can just vomit words onto the page but I can't. It just doesn't/won't happen.  But I can write 100 words. It might take half an hour (or more), but it's not a daunting goal.

What works even better is if there is a reward for doing my 100 words.  A carrot dangling in front of me to move me forward. As I'm on an eating regime where carrots aren't encouraged (too many carbs), I have found other sources of bribery ..... erm, reward.

Currently I'm working on an upcycling project to turn an ugly brown chest of drawers (bought for next to nothing on Ebay) into something pretty. Once it got to the stage of being able to see what the end result would be, I was itching to get it finished. But I had writing goals to meet. So I'm not allowed to touch the drawers until I've done 100 words.

No writing = no painting.

Write 100 words. Paint for half an hour. Rinse and repeat.

Works a treat.

However, the excitement of a creative project isn't the only 'carrot' in my enticement pantry. It's amazing how magnetic a dish full of dirty dishes can be, or grocery shopping, or sweeping the garage. Or writing this blog !

Even on the rare occasion that I'm totally engrossed in a scene, and could write more than 100 words, I don't. Keeping my write/reward routine going is important for my productivity. Until I started on this reward system, my word counts were all over the place and with more 'no words written' days than I should admit to.

My carrot system not only get the words down, it gets other things done. I use a bullet journal for daily to-do items which includes my daily word count so between getting my rewards and ticking things off my list - I feel a sense of achievement at the end of the day. Win Win.

Well, the next 100 words on one of my current WIPs (a vampire story set in Paris) await !

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

“A funny thing happened on the way to…” by Delsora Lowe

Funny is a word that can be interpreted in many ways.
Using Second Definition
About an hour after I arrived at work in the alumni office of a prestigious secondary school in the middle of Washington, D.C., my alma mater and my employer, my friend and classmate working as an executive assistant to a senior law partner downtown, called. “Did you hear?” She went on to relate the story of the first plane hitting the first tower in NYC. We couldn’t imagine how air traffic controllers and pilots could miss the warnings of a huge tower looming in the path of the airplane.

The morning quickly unfolded. Hearing about the second tower. Running downstairs to the main office to watch T.V. Hearing a plane just hit the pentagon, where my co-worker’s husband worked. Luckily, he was on the opposite side, but a father of an alumni wasn’t so lucky. Then within hours, streams of people walked from downtown three miles away past my office, on a warm September, blue-skied, perfect early fall day, trying to get home with no public transportation running. 
My view of the cathedral – looking at the long side on the left of the photo.
My building sat on top of a hill, on the third floor of an old stone mansion. My office window faced the towers of the Washington National Cathedral and the flight path from the national airport where planes took off every few minutes, from across the river in Virginia. I never realized until the planes started flying again, that the visual from my window looked as though the planes were headed directly toward the cathedral towers. After 9/11, I had to turn my computer away from my precious view to avoid the sudden lurch in my stomach every few minutes—every time a plane traversed that air space—and looked like it was headed into the towers. In actuality it was an optical illusion of planes many miles away as they flew away from the city up the Potomac River toward unknown destinations. 
My office in Zartman House, under the chimney on the right, with dormer on right roof,
and another window looking out the side toward Cathedral.

That day, the school lost a parent of an alumni in the Pentagon. My co-worker lost a friend in one of the towers, whose wedding he was to take part two weeks later. Another co-worker’s daughter-in-law would have been on the subway getting off that stop at that exact time, if she hadn’t had a dentist appointment that made her late for work. Another co-worker, driving to work near the Pentagon saw the flames when the plane hit. The mother of my friend who had called earlier, saw the plane hit the Pentagon as she watched from her apartment window. A co-worker of my friend knew a flight attendant on that plane. The fire department blocks from my home were first to respond to the Pentagon. All these connections to the tragedy, out of only nine people in my department.

I tell you this, not to bring you down, but to put in perspective my feelings at suddenly being in a job that had no meaning. And in which in a matter of hours, I was two degrees away from tragedy that hit so many people that day. A job where I brought people (our alumni) together to have class reunions and gather in cities around the country for alumni parties with people who had one thing in common—they went to the same school.

I wasn’t a paramedic or a police officer or a firefighter or a soldier or an ER doctor. 

I was ONLY a party planner. I was an intermediary who brought people of common interests together.

That is until I began hearing from our alumni, letting the school and others know their friends were all right, and tracking down those we hadn’t heard from. Bringing people together in joy that their classmates were fine and had made it through a collective ordeal. And bringing those same people together to mourn. And later, celebrating my classmate (yes, I am proud of my class) by bestowing a distinguished alumni award, for the man we later learned had held together the economy of our country that first week, by being a lone person who stayed in harm’s way near the capital, even when they thought a plane might be headed toward the center of D.C. I might add, that in a few weeks I will be at this same person’s home to celebrate the 50th reunion of my class. And yes, this quiet, mild-mannered unsung hero, he is still our hero.

Now to the funny part.

As in definition number two: difficult to explain or understand.Through all that, I questioned everything I did. Part of my escape was to start writing. My first completed manuscript is lost somewhere, under a bed maybe. Poems I wrote got wiped out in a computer fix. But the feeling I got from using my imagination to weave stories, grew. I may not be a paramedic or in any of those other saving and protecting careers, but my gift to you, is to give you a place in which to escape to a world of make-believe. The world of happily-ever-afters, where hurts can be cured with the love of a special person.

And my gift on 9/11 and days and weeks to follow, was to bring people together, to connect them with friends, and to reassure them. To write their human-interest stories for the alumni magazine. It made me realize in the little spec of my world, that I had a talent to connect people and tell their stories. And that in this moment of history, that was important.

I no longer write non-fiction for alumni magazines. But that year marked the beginning of my fiction-writing journey. And for that I am personally grateful, as the writing saved me, made me strong enough to bring people together for fun and learning experiences, and understand that the small part I (and all writers) contribute to the world is important.

~ cottages to cabins ~ keep the home fires burning ~

Delsora Lowe writes small town sweet romances and contemporary westerns from the mountains of Colorado to the shores of Maine.
Author of the Starlight Grille series, Serenity Harbor Maine novellas, and the Cowboys of Mineral Springs series, Lowe has also authored short romances for Woman’s World magazine.
New Release - Blurb: The Prince’s Son 

A first meet, royalty and the nanny romance between a self-exiled prince with a royal chip on his shoulders and the local rancher's daughter who rails against any man who tries to tell her what to do. When she tries to tell the prince how to raise his son, tempers flare and sparks fly.

Ari Orula, a prince with a royal chip on his shoulders, has sworn off women.
Carla Peters, the rancher's daughter, has big dreams and it doesn't include listening to her dad, big brothers, or the new prince in town.
When the prince finds himself in dire straits and must find a nanny pronto, the last person he wants is his son's know-it-all ski teacher who insinuates he has a lot to learn about fatherhood.
The money the prince offers Carla for two weeks as a nanny will put a big dent in the cost of renovations for her new school, her life's dream. Does she dare risk working for the rancher her brothers think is trying to destroy their livelihood?
Despite best laid plans, two people at odds are brought together to rescue a child. At risk of alienating her family, Carla accepts the position. At risk of melting his stone-cold heart, Ari hires the rancher's daughter.
Will the sparks that fly torch Carla's dreams and inflame Ari's resolve, or ignite an everlasting love?

Amazon E-book link:https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PZD3FNC/ref=sr_1_2?crid=32PO3EI3KDLQI&keywords=delsora+lowe&qid=1553611414&s=digital-text&sprefix=dels%2Cdigital-text%2C196&sr=1-2-catcorr  

Amazon Print Book Link:
Books2read link, (includes Barnes and Noble and iBooks): books2read.com/u/b6xzr6

Social Media Links:
Author website: www.delsoralowe.com
Author FaceBook page: fb.me/delsoraloweauthor
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Delsora-Lowe/e/B01M61OM39/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Books2Read Author page: https://www.books2read.com/ap/8GWm98/Delsora-Lowe
BookBub Author Page: 
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16045986.Delsora_Lowe 

Photo Credits:
Sidwell Friends School Zartman House: