Monday, February 6, 2023

Relationships Through Writing by Paty Jager

This is kind of a coincidence that Relationship is the theme for this month’s blog posts. While I’ve been married for 44 years and feel like I have a pretty good relationship with my kids, I thought about the relationships I have in regard to my writing.

I love the fact I have found so many friends, really good friends, through my writing. From the authors who friended me when I was starting out, to the new writers I’ve helped along the way, and even to my readers. And then there are the bookstores who have me back.  I’ve built some fun relationships with many people over the years.

Back when I started writing, I was a backward thinker. I know it sounds weird, but I’d put the reaction before the action when writing a sentence. I entered many contests hosted by the Romance Writers of America. They had ones where you could send in the love scene, the meet-up scene, or the first chapter. I would usually do fairly well in the contests, but I was getting frustrated with getting my pages back with lots of lines through sentences and nothing that told me what I was doing wrong.

Then one contest the judge explained to me what I was doing wrong and said she liked my writing and gave me her email address. I contacted her and we began to private message each other once a week. She helped me start my career as an author and I will always be thankful to her for her kindness in pointing out what I was doing wrong. Through the years I have also made some long-lasting friendships with other writers whom I met through our RWA chapter or at RWA conferences. Even now, I meet other authors at conferences and book events and find those I connect with, and we stay in contact.

There have been about a dozen writers whom I’ve helped with either their writing, their promotion, or just moral support over the years who have become good friends. I enjoy giving back as my friend, in the beginning, gave to me. I have been a leader of a 4-H writing group. There were a couple of very talented young ladies whom I hope to see a book on a shelf with their names on one day. And I have belonged to many writer’s groups and critique groups over the years. Again, when you meet often and learn not only about people’s writing but their lives you become invested in their lives and become friends.

And my readers! I would not be still writing if not for the wonderful emails and comments from readers. I love it when someone writes and said I helped them forget their pain while they read my book. And the people who listen to my books while they sew or jog or walk their dogs. At in-person events, I get to talk to the people who purchase my books. It’s so fun to put names to faces and to visit about their life since we’d last seen one another.

My friendship with bookstore owners is growing. I love going back to stores I’ve been to before and seeing how they are doing and meet some of the same people. I have a presentation at the NIWA monthly Zoom meeting this month on planning book events. I’ll be speaking about the ways I build a relationship with bookstore owners.

Helping me to grow my relationships is my newest release: Bear Stalker-book 10 in the Gabriel Hawke series.

Bear Stalker

Book 10 in the Gabriel Hawke Series

Greed, Misdirection, and Murder

Oregon State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s sister, Marion, is on a corporate retreat in Montana when she becomes a murder suspect. Running for her life from the real killer, she contacts Hawke for help.  

Hawke heads to Montana to find his sister and prove she isn’t a murderer. He hasn’t seen Marion in over twenty years but he knows she wouldn’t kill the man she was about to marry.

As they dig into possible embezzlement, two more murders, and find themselves trying to outsmart a wilderness-wise kidnapper, Hawke realizes his sister needs to return home and immerse herself in their heritage. Grief is a journey that must be traveled and knowing her fiancé had wanted Marion to dance again, Hawke believes their culture would help her heal.

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. This is what Books a Plenty Book Reviews has to say about the Gabriel Hawke series: "The blend of nature tracking, clues, and the animals makes for a fascinating mystery that is hard to put down."

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Relationships a Hard Road to Travel

by Diana McCollum

February is the month for celebrating or honoring those in our lives that we love. #Relationships can be a tricky road to travel. Here are some quotes on love, caring, and relationships. Enjoy!

“When someone loves you, the way they talk about you is different. You feel safe and comfortable.” 
Jess C. Scott, The Intern

"A relationship is like a car, when you have a flat tyre, you don’t just leave the car to get a new one, but you try to replace and change the bad tyre to keep it moving."=unknown

Hope you've enjoyed these quotes and they've given you something to think about!

Have a great weekend!!!

Friday, February 3, 2023

Simple Tips To Enhance Connections With Others

 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.

For many people, February is the month when they say or do something special to acknowledge the romantic relationships in their lives. For other people the romantic label isn’t important so they include other relationships. I remember Valentine’s Day when I was twelve. My dad got me a gift. I treasured that blouse for decades. In fact it might be tucked away somewhere in my house!

I also know people who do not make a big or even a small deal about Valentine’s Day. They want to show the people in their lives that they are loved, cared about.

My family and friends fall more into the latter category than the former one. We end conversations on the phone with “I love you”. I text my granddaughters with that simple message. Nothing more than that --- well, often it shows up at “Love You Lots!!!”

Why do I consciously choose to tell people I love them?

I was briefly married to a man who never said those words once we were wedand actually only said them once or maybe twice while we were dating. I realized that hearing the words mattered to me.

From my professional experiences working with at-risk youth and vulnerable elderly, I know that many of them do not believe they are loveable, at least not in a healthy way. Hearing an adult tell you they are only abusing you for your own good or because they love you and you need to learn whatever the lesson is are not healthy expressions of love much less caring.

During this month where the airwaves are full of messages about showing someone you love by purchasing whatever the product is, I offer the following as a way to show that person how important they are to you.

First, take a look at the following, what Dr. William Glasser called the Seven Deadly or Disconnecting Habits.

Rewarding to Control

Really monitor your behavior and make a plan to reduce if not eliminate the any or all of the above.

In the meantime, pay attention to Dr. Glasser’s  Seven Caring or Connecting Habits. When interacting with others, look for ways to increase these.

Negotiating differences

For more information about these ideas and how to implement them in your personal and professional life, check out The Glasser Institute for ChoiceTheory – US or The William Glasser Institute International for trainings and resources near you.

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 The Sacred Women’s Circle series at

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

You can also find Judith on FB! 

© 2023 Judith Ashley

Thursday, February 2, 2023

A new short story collection about...death

In 2021, Amazon instituted a new author-to-reader platform called Kindle Vella. Based on the old serialized fiction series and books of the 1930s and 40s, Vella was a platform designed for authors to write serialized episodes of their latest fiction works and get them into the public eye without having to publish them the old-fashioned way - through print or ecopy.

I jumped on the Vella bandwagon a month after it started and I've never looked back. One of the nicest aspects of Vella is that once your story/book is completed, you can publish it through KDP if you want to broaden your audience.

I've had 6 books up on Vella at one time and I finally decided to take the plunge and put one of them into print. 

DEATH BETWEEN THE PAGES was released yesterday into the Kindle, KU, and print reading world.

A collection of short stories all centering on death, DEATH BETWEEN THE PAGES is not the usual romcom, feel-good-romance book I typically write. All the stories in the collection center around death, be it from murder, natural causes, accidents, or...something more sinister.

The stories were all written during a time in my life when serial killers and true crime stories occupied the bulk of my reading and television watching. Long before Netflix became a depository for documentaries about killers, I was an information junkie, soaking up everything I could about the likes of Bundie, Dahmer, Gacy, et al.

How I ever wound up a romance writer is a story for another day.... one filled with cosmos and chocolate.

DEATH BETWEEN THE PAGES is a fairly short read. Amazon has it listed under the category "2 hour reads." 

Here's the book blurb:

  • A cheating husband.
  • A group of widows.
  • A priest.
  • A landlady.
  • A spider.
  • What do they all have in common?


As mentioned, the collection is available in print or ecopy, and on KU. If you like twisted stories of the crazy things humans do to one another, this collection has your name on it.

And because we need to do this these days, there are a few triggers in the stories. Child abuse, spousal abuse, and cannibalism are all alluded to, but never specifically shown. No graphic sex or killing is shown, either. Amazon lists the book under the secondary category of psychological horror, but there's nothing in the stories that will keep you up nights or make it difficult for your to fall asleep.

Let's call it Stepehn King-lite. Very light. LOL

And just in case the trailer didn't copy so you can watch it, here's a link so you can:

DEATH BETWEEN THE PAGES released for #99cents for the ecopy - a price that anyone could take advantage of. Happy reading, peeps. ~ Peg

Peggy Jaeger is a romance author who pens stories about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can not live without them.

Follow her here: Link Tree

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Advice… Maybe Not

By Robin Weaver

In my head, this month’s theme was Advice on Relationships. The actual theme is Tips on Relationships. Which is a really good thing, since nobody really wants advice. Nor does anyone actually  need advice (even from Nora Roberts or Michael Connelly).  Advice is preachy. Advice is controlling.

What we need is factual, relevant information so we can make our own decisions.

See what I just did? I’ve backed myself into an impossible corner. How can I possibly provide information that is appropriate for a blog audience with varied needs?  Any advice?

Kidding aside, I can’t provide info that will be all things to all people, or even some people. The best I can do is give you tips* for how I’ve coped during a decade of writing, hoping, and writing some more. I'll describe what has worked—and not worked—and hope you find one iota of inspiration. After all, having one person get something meaningful from the written word is every writer’s Mecca.

Here’s what I’ve done to keep my sanity (sort of) while writing and attempting to publish the novel that will get noticed.

 1.       I found myself a good critique group.  For non-authors, critique groups are still essential; everyone needs a sounding board for life events, career decisions, child rearing info, good restaurants (yes, I’m hungry), etc., etc. For non-author events, I call my critique group Friends and Family. These folks give me a lot of feedback; even when I don’t ask for it. : )

a.       Don’t be offended by critique feedback. I expect feedback, not praise.

b.       If I am offended, I attempt to figure out why.

                                                               i.      Is it my ego? If the answer is “yes,” I get over myself.

                                                             ii.      Does the person doing the critique simply have a difference of opinion? If the answer is “yes,” I acknowledge the feedback and move on. Why acknowledge, you ask?  Because of the old adage: if enough people call you a goose, you should look for feathers.  If other people have the same criticism of my work (or life event), there may be more to the critique than a simple difference of opinion.  Upon hearing a criticism more than once, I go back to step i—is it ego? If not, I look for feathers. I do an honest, often raw, evaluation and a change usually results in a better paragraph/scene/chapter.

                                                           iii.      Am I having a bad day? If so, I put the critique aside and plan to review it the following day.

                                                           iv.      Is the criticism just mean?

1.       First time? Ignore it. It’s possible the person providing the critique was having a bad day.

2.       Recurring? Maybe reconsider the composition of your critique group.

2.       I kept my day job.  For me, this was a no-brainer since I actually like my day job.  But even if I weren’t so lucky, a non-writing career was important for numerous reasons:

a.       Writing can be stressful; I didn’t really need the additional stress of wondering how I’d pay for my groceries—especially now. Have you see the price of milk?

b.       The office environment provides an abundance of story ideas.

c.       I can always quit when I make it big. For you non-authors, this mean winning-the-lottery.  Actually, I think it’s the same for writers. 😊

3.       I counteracted boredom/frustration. For me, this means writing in multiple genres. In life and literature, doing something new or different always stimulates the old gray matter (by gray matter, I mean my brain, not the rest of me).

4.       I remembered my mantra: If life was fair, we’d all be stupid. As a writer, it’s all too easy to read a so-so best seller, or in some cases a “less-than-so-so” book and grow frustrated that we aren’t receiving the same success. It’s easy to lament, “Why them? Why aren’t people reading my book?”

When I find myself on the Woe-Is-Me Road, I remind myself writing is only one facet of my life and success is never measured by the NY Times (truly). Having a best seller also requires a lot more than good writing, and sometimes a lot of that “lot more” is simple luck. Hard work, marketing, and audience awareness are also essential, and I honestly haven’t done nearly enough of that. Still, doing the best I can is all I can do.

5.       Most important, I brought back the fun.

a.       It’s soooooooooooooo easy to fall into the deadlines/I must do this/I must do that trap.  Often, these deadlines and traps are self-imposed. I.E., “If I don’t get my novel done by D-Day, the editor/agent/Oprah won’t notice me.”  Thinking like this is stressful—possibly harmful.

Self-imposed hardships are also a problem in the non-author life. For instance: “If I don’t have as many Christmas lights as my neighbor, I’ll look like a loser.”

I know longer permit myself to think these thoughts. Odds are, missing that deadline is not the reason we’re not being noticed, and if you add another string of lights to your two-story house, your neighbor will simply add two more.  If she’s smart, she’ll also run an extension and plug into your outlet.  Actually, pretend I didn’t say that last part. 😊  But remember, not hanging more lights means you’ll have more time to make mulled wine.  If you share, guess who will be the most popular woman in the neighborhood?

b.       Another pitfall my past-self has fallen-into is writing for the market. Vampires were hot, so I pulled out all the fangs, even though a DNA researcher keep demanding I write her story.  Anyway, when my vamp story was finished—yep, you guessed it—editors had put the stake into bloodsuckers because the market was blooded—er, flooded.

Now, I write what I want to write.  Don’t get me wrong, if a publishing house offered me big bucks (ok, even slightly-below-average bucks), I’d pen the novel in type O. Until then, my work-reward system requires something more substantial. As for me, my reward is having fun while I write.  Note: Salted caramel and mulled wine also work.

Recently, I combined two of the above, and IMHO, derived some of my best writing.  My critique partners and I created a compilation of short stories.  The anthology is called Three Perspectives.  For each of our 12 stores, we give you the plot from the perspective of the victim, the villain, and the investigator. We had a blast, and in the process, re-energized our Woe-Is-Us selves.

 To summarize, do something that makes you happy.  Your writing—and your life—will be better. Apologies!! That sounded like advice!  I meant, When I do something that makes me happy…

*Kudos to Judith and Sarah for actually defining the theme as "Tips" on relationships--not Advice. :)

*Being old doesn’t mean feeble, and hiring a gutter cleaner is a waste of money, but sometimes vanity can be criminal.
*A perfectly-imperfect socialite only wants to be adored. Which is a bit difficult after she’s found sprawled on a toilet. Dead.
*An aspiring writer wants to write a bestseller, but her critique partners have other ideas. Has one of them plotted the perfect murder? Hers.
*A retired schoolteacher conceals her lifelong secret. Until someone discovers she has insured her life for $5 million. There’s only one thing to do. Kill her.
Don’t go into the barn. The one you love the most might kick the life from you.

These are just a few of the 12 compelling whodunnit mysteries inside Three Perspectives. Each tale includes the point-of-view from the victim, the villain, and the investigator, and will keep you guessing to the very end. And possibly awake—long after your bedtime.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Winter in the Butte wetlands Sutter County California

by Diana McCollum

Today my husband and I took a drive to the Butte wetlands.  This is on the super migratory highway for water fowl. There is a park where you can take a slow meandering drive through the wetlands on dikes. You are not allowed to get out of your car or make loud noises or feed the water fowl. 

We saw Canadian Geese, Snow Geese, Swans, Hawks and all kinds of ducks. No hunting allowed! 

It's a sanctuary for all animals. 

I took lots of pictures and hope you enjoy the ones I've chosen to share on the winter day.

These first two pictures are of the Sutter Buttes. The smallest mountain range in America. A ring of volcanos.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!