Monday, June 5, 2023

Why Alaska made me appreciate winter by Paty Jager


After my recent trip to Alaska for a graduation and wedding, I have to say I do not envy the long summer days up there. 

We were so messed up time-wise just because the sun didn't set until after 11 pm. Seven at night felt like four in the afternoon. We were eating much later than normal due to being so busy driving around sightseeing because, well, we could see everything. 

One of the many moose we saw.

I know I wouldn't be able to live with so much dark in the winter and so much light in the summer. I like where I'm at. 

A Glacier as you come out of Whittier

We had a wonderful time. My hubby, our oldest daughter, and my mother-in-law all traveled up together and stayed in the same house. Hubby had a couple of places he had yet to see from our other trips to the state. Normally, we traveled to Alaska in October when farming was finished or early in the year before farming started. This wasn't my first time being in Alaska in the summer, but when I was there before, I was inside mostly with blackout curtains and didn't find the light so bothersome. 

Ice along a river still.

The trip was a week long. The days we didn't have family obligations we traveled to Fairbanks, North Pole, Glenallen, and Whittier. 

Here are a few photos.

Santa Land North Pole, Alaska.

We purchased some Christmas items here. 

Boats at Whittier

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 54 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.



Saturday, June 3, 2023

Longest Day or Shortest Day

by Diana McCollum

 The June solstice in the Northern Hemisphere the December solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Northern Winter Solstice is in December and the Southern Hemisphere winter solstice is in June.

“Let the energy of the summer solstice help you to balance, release, recharge.” – Unknown

quotes on summer solstice

“Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.” – Pablo Neruda

(my picture: Monterrey, CA)

“One way of celebrating the Solstice is to consider it a sacred time of reflection, release, restoration, and renewal.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach     

It may be the “longest day,” but it’s not the latest sunset. Nor the earliest sunrise!" (author unknown)

(My photo sunset Paradise, CA)

Winter Solstice or the shortest day of the year is for new beginnings.

The Winter Solstice is the time of ending and beginning, a powerful time -- a time to contemplate your immortality. A time to forgive, to be forgiven, and to make a fresh start. A time to awaken.  Frederick Lenz

margaret atwood winter solstice quote

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. You only truly, deeply appreciate and are grateful for something when you compare and contrast it to something worse.” — John Steinbeck

Cool Winter Solstice Photos 2

(from memes and bams)

Hope you've enjoyed these memes of the Solstice and the winter solstice.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Summer or Winter? I Choose ______

 Hi, I’m Judith Ashley, author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, soul nourishing romantic women’s fiction with light paranormal elements. My stories show you what life could be like if you had a place like The Circle where you are unconditionally accepted, supported and loved. And where, with this support, you make choices to overcome the darkest nights and choose love and light.

Do you prefer Summer or Winter?

If I had to choose one or the other, I’d choose Winter.


Because, while I don’t mind the sun, I don’t want it shining every day and for long hours each day. I am also not a fan of heat much less humidity.  And for me “heat” is over 80 degrees.

Yes, I’m definitely a Native of the Northwest USA. I sometimes tell people that moss grows on my north side…if you are from this area that is an apt description.

What I find interesting is that I actually have some of the same symptoms my friends with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) have in the long hot summer days. SAD is attributed to not having enough exposure to sunlight. Isn’t it interesting that I have those same symptoms when exposed to lots of sunlight?

Hats with large brims, dark glasses, keeping the blinds drawn, etc. become a way of life once the temps start rising.

This year in May we’ve had record breaking temperatures – 5

over 90 degrees! And at last count (I’m writing this on May 25), over 13 days in the 80’s. Low 80’s I can manage if the humidity is low. What that means for me is I’m already rooting for Fall to appear…not that my rooting will make the Wheel of The Year turn any faster.

The Sacred Women's Circle Series

So when people are high-fiving and out running or walking or just being outside because it is Sunny and Hot, I’ll be tucked in my house with the heat pump on cool. If I have to go out, I’ll grab that wide-brimmed hat, long sleeved shirt, don my mask and go forth to take care of errands or to do the extra watering plants and trees need when the temperatures soar.

If you haven’t yet read my books, they are a great vacation or beach read if I do say so myself.

Not into fiction? My non-fiction Staying Sane in A Crazy World gives you a process you can personalize to reduce your stress.

You can find all of my books at your favorite e-book vendor. Be sure to ask your local library if you’d prefer to read my books through that resource.

Learn more about Judith's fiction The Sacred Women’s Circle series and her non-fiction at

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

You can also find Judith on FB! 

© 2023 Judith Ashley

Thursday, June 1, 2023

 Our Winner Is

Alyson W.


Thank You to Everyone Who Joined Us


Helped Us Celebrate #12!

Wednesday, May 31, 2023


Carla Neggers

 Happy anniversary!

 Twelve years for a blog is an amazing achievement. Congrats! As always, you’re celebrating in style.

 I know that sometimes I get so caught up in “doing” that I don’t take time to celebrate, but self-help gurus say it’s important. I learned recently that I’m receiving the 2023 Maine Crime Master Award at this year’s Maine Crime Wave writers conference on June 9-10. I’m thrilled, honored and excited, and I’m celebrating. Here’s a link to all the info. Join us if you can!

 I’m being recognized for my long career writing romantic suspense. I’d never heard the term when I wrote my very first book in my early twenties. The market for romantic suspense was nonexistent. Said one editor, “Romantic suspense will be back when pigs can fly.” Not terribly encouraging! But some of us reinvented the genre, doing our own thing, and The Venus Shoe was eventually published by Avon Books. It’s available in eBook and soon will be back in print.

 I remember how excited I was when an agent called to tell me she loved the book and wanted to represent me. I wrote it when my daughter and first-born was an infant. I’d put her on the blotter next to me and type on my rented typewriter. Now she’s a history professor with a book of her own soon to be released, Live from the Underground: A History of College Radio.

 Fast-forward to Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan in my Sharpe and Donovan series. A continuing couple with complicated jobs, families and friends, lots of suspense, set in Boston, Maine and Ireland. The first is Saint’s Gate, and I’m working on the next installment as well as other projects. In the years between The Venus Shoe and Rival’s Break,  my most recent Sharpe and Donovan novel, I’ve learned (or tried to learn!) not to overthink things and just write the story that’s in my head. One of my favorite writer quotes is from the late, great Mary Stewart: "’Storyteller’ is an old and honorable title and I’d like to lay claim to it.”

 Says it all. She had a long and remarkable career. I wonder if she celebrated along the way. I hope so!

 Bubbles tonight in honor of your 12 years. Thanks for having me here, and enjoy.




Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Writing: A Blessing and A Burden!


Alyssa Maxwell

 We plan, and the gods laugh.

 It’s a saying most of us are familiar with and have come up against at various times in our lives. Usually, it’s over minor inconveniences. But for writers, or anyone who works according to their own terms and schedules, it’s a particularly vital concept. It’s not just about getting the work done. When considering a deadline, writers have to factor in time spent plotting and researching, marketing and promoting, but also things like illnesses, emergencies, and other unforeseen events.

 At those times, writing can be both a blessing and a burden. When life spun out of control for me and my family last summer, I spent weeks afterward numb and in a kind of suspended animation. Writing was out of the question. The words on the page didn’t even make sense to me. I had not one but two deadlines approaching, but the drive, creativity, and, most of all, the self-discipline to sit down and write were simply gone. There were times I didn’t think they could ever come back. And there were times when it just didn’t seem important to me anymore. But I needed that time away. It was necessary.

 Luckily for me, my publisher was extremely understanding and accommodating. One deadline was simply put off for another year, and the other extended by a few months. Yet the thought of going back to work loomed over me like impending doom. How would I ever find the concentration to string words together the way I wanted them—needed them—to be for the book I had initially intended to write?

 It was Murder at The Elms, the 11th book in my Gilded Newport series, a series I started over ten years ago and which has become part of who I am, as a writer and an individual. Anyone who knows me understands the importance Newport has in my life. It was never just a setting, but has always run so much deeper, even long before I knew I would become a writer. So there could be no half-hearted attempt to finish this book, no spouting of words just to fill pages. I had to find a way to be present in the process—to care, to be both subjective and objective, and to be able to put into it the thing I had lost—my heart.

 I’ll tell you how I did it.

 First, I had to seriously ask myself if I wanted to continue to be a writer. Some days, I didn’t have an answer. But on the days when I did, I began, slowly, to turn my mind to the story I had started several months earlier. I allowed it back into my headspace, which also meant shoving aside, even for short periods of time, all those other thoughts that had come to crowd my brain. And I realized that, for those moments, it felt good to be back with my characters. I’m not talking about actively writing. That came a bit later, but just thinking about Emma Cross and the others, and about being in Newport, became a comfort.

 It was not without trepidation that I finally opened the file. At first I only read, starting on page one, to put myself back in the story. Then, finally, I’d write a paragraph or two, and then a page or two. That little bit felt like a breakthrough and an accomplishment. Gradually, and I can’t emphasize that word enough, I worked up to my normal output per day—at least, most days. Some days, I still have to put it aside. That’s ok. Because I had learned that it was still there—the creativity, the drive, and even the self-discipline. And finding that all still alive inside me gave me back a part of my life I could control. I could still lose myself in characters, settings, and plotlines, where justice prevails and good people triumph. Life might and probably will interfere again someday, but now I know unequivocally that writing, being a writer, IS important to me, and that no matter what happens, I’ll always be able to find my way back.


 Alyssa Maxwell, a former nonfiction and fiction editor, knew from an early age that she wanted to be a writer. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles and atmospheric literature drew her to the mystery genre. She is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She and her husband live in Florida, where she is a member of the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and the South Florida Fiction Writers. You can learn more about Alyssa and her books at and connect with her on social media at these links:


Book Blurb:

 Murder at The Elms, A Gilded Newport Mystery #11

Coming August 22, 2023

 As the nineteenth century comes to a close, the illustrious Vanderbilt family dominates Newport, Rhode Island, high society. But when murder arrives, reporter Emma Cross learns that sometimes the actions of the cream of society can curdle one’s blood in the latest installment of this bestselling cozy historical mystery series . . .

1901: Back from their honeymoon in Italy, Emma and Derrick are adapting to married life as they return to their duties at their jointly owned newspaper, the Newport Messenger. The Elms, coal baron Edward Berwind’s newly completed Bellevue Avenue estate, is newsworthy for two reasons: A modern mansion for the new century, it is one of the first homes in America to be wired for electricity with no backup power system, generated by coal from Berwind’s own mines. And their servants—with a single exception—have all gone on strike to protest their working conditions. Summarily dismissing and replacing his staff with cool and callous efficiency, Berwind throws a grand party to showcase the marvels of his new “cottage.”
Emma and Derrick are invited to the fete, which culminates not only in a fabulous musicale but an unforeseen tragedy—a chambermaid is found dead in the coal tunnel. In short order, it is also discovered that a guest’s diamond necklace is missing and a laborer has disappeared.
Detective Jesse Whyte entreats Emma and Derrick to help with the investigation and determine whether the murdered maid and stolen necklace are connected. As the dark deeds cast a shadow over the blazing mansion, it’s up to Emma to shine a light on the culprit . . .