01/25 – Tawna Fenske

Thursday, January 23, 2020

A Funny Thing Happened One Night

...Or Outfoxing Mr Fox by Cassandra O'Leary

One of the things about having a houseful of pets, is they sometimes create mayhem. A case in point, our cute little chickens. Living in suburban Melbourne, Australia, we can only have a small chicken coop with a maximum of ten chickens. But sometimes even four or five are a handful. 

We first got a few young chickens when my oldest son was about 18 months old. The first lot were bantams (mini sized) chooks and included cuties named Princess Bubbles, Midnight and Ningah, named by our little boy. The chicken coop was down by our back fence and our vegetable garden. My husband, let's call him Mr M, is a keen gardener and generally good with outdoorsy stuff. He'd researched chickens, coop setup, fencing and all the particulars before we brought them home from a chicken farm in the country. 

Cut to one night, a few months after the chooks had been inhabiting their very swanky chicken townhouse (split level, a nice outlook on greenery, indoor plumbing/bird feeder and outdoor entertaining area/chicken run). Part of our back garden also backs onto our garage, where we have a sensor light setup to scare off any burglars and to help us see where we're going at night. So, if you walk by, the area floods with light. Mr M was asleep beside me when he somehow woke to full alert, panic stations… I was half asleep but wondering, what's going on? 

Then I heard the back door bang, followed by a great kerfuffle, maybe even a hullabaloo! Banging, thumping, shouting, something that sounded like a lot like GEROFFMYLAWNANDAWAYFROMTHECHICKEEEEEENZZZZ!!! 

Husband comes barging back into the bedroom a couple of minutes later, and I'm wide awake by this stage and flick on the light. Mr M is standing there, panting, ranting about the fox he caught dashing across our yard and how the floodlight scared him off...meanwhile he's completely naked (apart from his boots). 

So I reconstructed the sequence of events. Mr M ran out into the back garden, triggering the floodlight, so his naked self was highlighted in spotlight, when he may or may not have been brandishing a shovel. Mr Fox, our erstwhile neighbourhood scavenger, must have been terrified and fled the scene. Our chickens' feathers were ruffled, but otherwise okay. Luckily our next door neighbours weren't hanging over the fence filming...that we know of! 

You will probably all be relieved to know that we now have chicken wire dug down at least 30 centimetres (one foot) into the ground, making sure no foxes can dig their way in. 

Henceforth this story shall be referred to as the time my husband outfoxed Mr Fox. It will probably end up in a book one day! He just nods and sighs as I tell him this. He's so obviously a humour novel character, just like I'm a romcom heroine. Just ask me about the time I fell over a pile of shoes while trying to shoo a wasp away from my desk, then I fell on my backside AND banged my head against my bookshelf. It's a match made in romance novel heaven. 

P.S. We now have the third generation of chickens including Soy Sauce Chicken, Chilli Chicken, Fruit Tingles and Honeycomb. 

P.P.S I will not tell Mr M about the actual event that is World Naked Gardening Day. For Reasons. 

About Cassandra O'Leary 

Cassandra O'Leary is a romance, romcom and women's fiction author from Melbourne, Australia. Winner of the global We Heart New Talent contest, HarperCollins UK, and published author of Girl on a Plane, Heart Note: A Christmas romcom novella, and shorter fiction. She's a recovering corporate communications specialist, mum to two mini ninjas, and wife to a superhero. She may be writing, or else drinking coffee and buying shoes on the internet. She's currently working on two more novels. No, really.

Read more at cassandraolearyauthor.com 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Fun With Old Friends

by M. L. Buchman

Okay, I have a real problem with old friends...they cost me an immense amount of time.
Maybe not as much as new friends.

Let me give you an example from yesterday.

There I was, happily working along, building a new collection of short stories. Actually, three of them but two aren't out yet.

Hotshots is releasing next week (https://books2read.com/the-complete-hotshots)
So, there I was looking over fifteen different stories about my wildland wildfire firefighters (how's that for an awkward mouthful?). I wrote these from 2015-2018, which wasn't all that long ago.

Six hours later (6!!!) I reemerged from my quick scan. I'd revisited crew leads, betas, alphas, adventurers, ex-military, the damaged, and the whole.

Writing is a real hazard for a writer who likes their own characters.

I don't even have the excuse of the new introductions I wrote for each story...I wrote those six months ago when I lost yet another day or two to revisiting these same old friends.

Another example. Months ago I wrote an origin story for Miranda Chase (one of my newer friends who's taking a lot of my time lately) for a charity anthology. I've long since turned in the story, but I was writing an ad for it last week...

The ad had nothing to do with the story...but I had to reread the story anyway and lost another hour. SIGH! (Great antho by the way, just saying. Thriller, SF, military... Written by a bunch of friends and some of their friends. Can't wait to read it myself.)

I guess it's kind of a weird view of how a writer thinks. These characters for some brief time were my closest friends. Not that I don't have friends out in the world, but for the brief days or weeks that I was writing their story, I was discovering everything about them--far more than I know of even my closest friends. Hopes, fears, the dream they wouldn't admit to anyone. I got to follow their emotions as the faced fire, and loss, and crushed hopes. And I like to think they'd have liked me for finding a way to tell their story.

My wife has long since learned to be patient. We were watching some show the other night (might have been the Great British Bake Off--might have seen all of the episodes of all ten years...just maybe). And we both love to cook, so we're always chatting about techniques that we see on the show.

So, she asked something, finally having to call out my name to get my attention...we were sitting on the couch with her feet in my lap, so we weren't all that far apart.

"Oh, sorry, I was just wondering how I'd write that baker's accent. It's so distinctive."

There I was, sitting with my wife, and I was off trying to make a new friend: that baker's accent, but maybe a deep sea diver, or a...

BUT, try explaining your "nonexistent" friends that you spent so much intimate time with on the page (and I'm not talking about the sex scenes, [how fast did your mind go there anyway? :) ]), and your "normal" friends think you've totally lost it. I have a group of "normal" friends (real live ones) who we have breakfast with every week. And I was washing dishes with one of them, and tried to explain this. She's curious about the writing process...but now also thinks I'm totally nuts! Double SIGH!

So, the next time you're talking to your invisible friends...
Keep your relationship on the page.
If you're a friend of a writer...approach with caution.
Just a suggestion.

M.L. "Matt" Buchman has 60+ thriller and romance novels, 100 short stories, and lotsa audiobooks. PW says his thrillers will make “Tom Clancy fans open to a strong female lead clamor for more.” Booklist declared three novels “Top-10 Romances of the Year.” A project manager with a geophysics degree, he’s designed and built houses, flown and jumped out of planes, solo-sailed a 50’ sailboat, and bicycled solo around the world…and he quilts. More at: www.mlbuchman.com.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Amusing Family Stories of Life as a Daughter of a Twin ... Delsora Lowe

I grew up the daughter of an identical twin. Needless to say, living with a twin wreaked havoc, in hilarious ways, for my sister, cousin, and me. From the time we were small, none of us could tell out daddies apart. We’d point and look at the others for confirmation, “Is that your daddy or mine?” We finally figured out that although both had sandy-blond hair, my uncle had a penny-sized patch of white hair in the back of his head. So, each time we got together, we three girls would circle back behind “the boys” and point. “That’s your daddy, and this one is mine.”

My uncle on the left and my dad on the right. Notice the similarity in their outfits?
Obviously not Christmas or they'd both have on their red holiday vests and bright ties.
The day I was born, my parents moved out of an apartment into a new house. My uncle helped them move. When Mom went into labor, the three drove to the hospital. That was back in the day when husbands sat in the waiting room, or more likely paced. Dick sat with my dad. When the nurse came out to inform Dad he had a daughter and told him to follow her, the two trotted behind the nurse. When she turned around and saw identical men, dad said the look on her face indicated she thought, “Oh my. Does this lady even know who the father is?” Dick realized, whoops, not his party and quickly retreated back to the waiting room.

Both my dad and uncle went to law school. My uncle finished up a year or so before my dad. When my dad got married and wanted to go on a honeymoon, he was told he could not miss any classes. So, my uncle sat in for my dad during his honeymoon and no one ever knew the difference.

Grinning Dad and Uncle Dick taking his best man role seriously!
My dad and uncle had the habit of showing up at holiday parties dressed identically, even though they never consulted. It happened year after year. On more than one occasion they also chose the same, as in exact, presents for their wife’s birthday, despite their birthdays being at different times of year. One year, my aunt was visiting, and said to mom. “I have that exact vase. Where did you get it?” My mom said, “Oh, Bob gave it to me for my birthday last year.” Aunt Martha replied, ”Dick gave the same vase to me for my birthday last week.” This also happened multiple times without the brothers ever comparing notes before-hand.

When my dad had hernia surgery, my uncle waited in his room until he was wheeled back from recovery. My dad looked at my uncle. “Want to have some fun? Walk by the nurse’s station just down the hall, wave and say I’ll be back in a few hours. Going out for a movie.” You can imagine the chaos that ensued as nurses ran after my uncle, while others ran down the hall to my dad’s room, only to discover him in his bed and laughing that his joke worked so well.

One rather amusing scenario caused problems until all parties could explain what happened. You have to understand, my dad was the talker and jokester of the two. My uncle was not a conversationalist. In fact, my sister and I used to laugh that Uncle Dick grunted more than he spoke. Even when he initiated a telephone call, he’d ID himself, then say nothing. On our end, after a long silence, we would finally have to prompt Dick by saying, “what can we do for you?” before he realized he hadn’t said a word after “hello.”

One night my uncle dined with my aunt. A couple approached the table and started yakking away. Dick just nodded a few times and probably said something about “nice seeing you.” A few days later the rumors were flying among dad’s friends that he was seen out with a woman who was NOT his wife. My uncle never explained he was the twin brother. His explanation was “I just figured he knew I was your brother.” It took some sleuthing on my dad’s part to even figure out who the couple was who thought he was stepping out on his wife. In the end, luckily, everyone had a good laugh.

Can you tell, from description above, which one is Dad?
The moral of this story, about twins in families, is there is never a dull moment. One of these days, I’ll have to write a story (or maybe two stories) about twins.

Do you have any funny family stories that would add to the plot of a fun story – either one you’d like to write or read?

A Valentine Story - On Sale through February


~ 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.

Social Media Links:

ClipArt Credit:

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Writer's New Year's Resolution by Kristin Wallace

While most people make New Year’s Resolutions, authors tend to make Writer’s Resolutions. At least I do. Every year I have grand plans to write X number of books. Unfortunately, I have to confess that 2019 was not a good year for me as an author. I had plans, but most of them didn’t happen. A lot was due to having to meet deadlines for my “day job” freelance writing gig, often working 7 days a week to get things turned in on time. 

The other reason had to do with some weird health issues that messed with my ability to focus, which as you can imagine, makes creative writing extremely difficult. In many ways, the voices that I've always had in my head basically went “silent”. In the end, I only managed to publish one book, SECOND CHANCE HERO, which is part of the Palm Cove Tales series. 


BUT…I am truly hoping to get back on track for 2020. I do have plans and plenty of ongoing projects to keep me busy.

One is the reissue my inspirational series, COVINGTON FALLS CHRONICLE. I got the right back from the original publisher some time ago and created new covers. I’m just doing light editing. I also hope to continue with that series. There are so many characters begging for stories in my quirky Southern town. 

I am also working on a fun new series called THE LOST ROYALS about separated siblings who find out they are royalty. 

Finally, there is a joint project/series that I plan to publish with one of my author friends. It’s a modern-day take on Cinderella featuring a pair of magic shoes and a cursed Stepmother who might not be as bad as everyone thought. 

So those are my plans…now to get writing! 

I did put together a Christmas box set with three of my Shellwater Key holiday tales (Finding You At Christmas, Falling For You At Christmas, and Loving You At Christmas). Christmas in Shellwater Key is available on Kindle Unlimited so even though it's January, go ahead and scoop it up now. 


Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and sweet contemporary romance filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. The Christmas in Shellwater Key boxes et will release this winter. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Romance of Writing Rom-Coms by Julie Cameron

Romantic comedies seem to finally be getting some traction in the movie market and are certainly on the rise in book sales.

I feel as though I have been reading romance, and especially romantic comedies, all my life. Rom-Coms are still among my favorite type of movie, even though they are only now becoming more recognized in theaters (although, not so much at the Oscars). When I was in High School, I joined the Literary Guild and devoured all the romance books they had available and have been reading them ever since.

Given my past predilection to the romance genre, it should come as no surprise that it is my go-to genre for what I write. And, although my content editing clients are varied in almost every genre, romance is still my favorite to edit because it can encompass so many other genres, but also have a guaranteed Happily Ever After as a bonus.

And if you can get me to laugh while loving the story, it is the chocolate on my salted caramel. I am not a stand-up comedian by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love it when readers let me know that they enjoyed the humor in my books. At a table read for one of my screenplays, I was relieved (and gratified) when the group laughed throughout the reading – sometimes in places that surprised me.

They thought that was funny!

Am I better at this than I thought?

Did Nora Ephron ever suffer from these same insecurities?

I happen to love writing rom-coms because I believe that laughter truly is great medicine.

But writing isn’t easy. And writing rom-coms is the subtle art that fuels and nurtures your baser insecurities. You, as the writer, might find your story hilarious. But does that humor also translate to your audience?

My mood is heavily influenced by what is going on for me at the time I’m writing. I have been known to randomly start talking with an English accent or a Scottish brogue depending on the audio book I’m listening to in my Libro.fm library (yes, that was a blatant plug for the indie audio company that supports indie bookstores!). I get very strange looks from my coworkers.

So, when I want to be sure my romance has humor, I put down my Suzanne Brockmann, J.R. Ward, or Laura Kinsale and I delve into some of my favorite rom-coms (hello, When Harry Met Sally and Steel Magnolias) and read romantic comedy authors like Kristan Higgins, Christina Laurens, and Molly Harper. Then I let the mood of humor come out in the flow of my writing.

The bottom line in all of this is: Love what you are writing, and it will show in the end result. If you’ve naturally added humor to your already brilliant romance, kudos to you! If you haven’t, don’t sweat it, and definitely don’t force it because that will show. As with everything, you do you, and see what happens.

Julie Cameron is an award-winning author and screenwriter of contemporary romance and romantic comedy. She sits on the Boards of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW), and Writer's Guild of Astoria.  She is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), the Rose City Romance Writers Chapter of RWA, Willamette Writers, and Oregon Writers Colony. 
As a content editor, writing coach and instructor through her company, Landon Literary, Julie is also a member of Independent Book Publishers Assn. (IBPA), Colorado Independent Publishers Assn. (CIPA), Editorial Freelancers Assn. (EFA), and Northwest Editor’s Guild.
When she isn’t writing or working with clients, Julie enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and fellow authors in the literary community.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Funny Photos

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of sci-fi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions. I am not, however, much of a teller of amusing tales. I can never recall funny stories or jokes, and frequently don't get the humour in others. I think I'm faulty. 😁
So instead I dug out some photos that make me smile, and I hope they'll do the same for you.
Eldest spotting the latest must have hatwear!

 "What dat shiny thing?!" Up close with Saffie

One of my girls after a bath. You can see the dinosaur in them!

Being given the eye by Kala

 "Are you sure you don't have food?!"
 " Let me help you with that tappity tap, human. "

 "Where's the food?!"

 surprise present
Attack of the Flour!

Can't get a moment's peace without someone getting on my back...


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Where Am I???? Finding direction

Hey Hey everyone!  Welcome to 2020 and my first blog post.

I'm sort of on a theme this month on my blog and social media stuff - New Beginnings.

But before we discuss that let share my 'funny story' - the theme for this month here on Romancing the Genres.

Now these stories honestly happened... as they say, I couldn't make this stuff up.

First you need to know I never - ever get lost. I may become misplaced but never lost. An example of this -

About 10 years, my family was staying with friends at their cabin on a beautiful lake -

I decided to take a walk. So I hook my leash on our dog and set off to walk around the lake. And I did, only I somehow got twisted around and ended up walking around the wrong lake - several times. Because you know that's how I am. This was before everyone carried cells so no calls. This new lake was pretty (no pictures because well no cell phone and I didn't grab my camera) but totally uninhibited. I kept thinking I'd recognize the trail I traveled down to find this treasure of a lake.

NOPE. You know what all trees sort of look alike. What should I do? I took our dog to the lake so she could get a drink and I could soak my feet.  Just as I was deciding I needed to circle the lake again, I heard a car!  Jerking the dog's leash I ran to the road. It was my amazing husband!

"You know this isn't our lake?"
"Yup." I climbed into the car. "I wanted to check out the neighborhood."
"You were lost."
"Nope, just checking stuff out."
"You've been gone three hours."
"There was a lot to look at."

He rolled his eyes and drove us back to the cabin. Where I ate many doughnuts and drink several glasses of wine.

Now I could have handled this many different ways - like paid attention to where I was going (I fail do that a lot) - started down the side roads hoping to hit the right one (which was the plan until super hubby came to the rescue) - but the real thing is I didn't freak out. I mean I knew eventually I'd figure it out.

What do you do when you find yourself misplaced?

Often people slip into panic mode the minute they find themselves in a unfamiliar place. But if you are going to be a writer, you need to step out - often. Things are always changing, shifting, moving.

The thing I like about writing is that it's something new - every time. Each book is a new beginning for my characters. They can grow as they circle around an unknown lake trying to figure out which trail will take them home.

My newest book - Taking Risk is all about trying something new - making a new beginning.

Leigh Ronaldson is one thing, it’s predictable. What’s wrong with having a routine? Apparently, it makes her boring or so her ex-boyfriend claimed as he dumped her. And her best friend agrees.

She decides to prove them wrong and books an extreme adventure in Ecuador. The hiking, kayaking, and camping she signed up for. She didn’t plan on the hot guide who by just looking at her made her squirm with desire and definitely not the drug cartel who wants them dead. 

Nick Greco golden rule is never to touch a client. NEVER. But rules can’t be broken.  Once the local drug cartel starts hunting them, he knows it will take all his skill to get out of the Amazon jungle alive.

And if your life is hanging in the balance even golden rules can be broken… 

It's available for pre-order here.

If you want to check out a teaser (and my new website) drop by and say hi. Lyncee Shillard

Have a month everyone! See you in February :-)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Out And Proud As A Genre Writer

My name's Andra and I write genre fiction.

Quite a while back I read an interview with award-winning Aussie novelist Gary Disher who, among
other things, has written a series of crime novels.  He made comments which really resonated with me.

When asked how he felt about being classed as a crime writer he replied that he'd prefer to be just called a novelist.  He went on to say he would prefer that, at writing festivals, writers weren't divided into genres, as if all they could write was in that particular area and have nothing to contribute to panels in wider areas.

In principle I completely agree.

But it got me thinking.  Had he espoused this sentiment before he was tarred with the genre brush? Does he really feel all writers are created equal and should be seen/treated that way, or does he actually believe there is more 'merit' in being  a 'writer' rather than a 'genre writer and maybe his new title was a come-down in his perceived status and/or credibility?

We all crave recognition of our efforts and for any success that may come our way. For me  it doesn't matter that not everyone sees genre writers as less credible or less worthy of the 'writer' mantle.

As far as I'm concerned, if we write anything and write consistently, we are writers. What we write should not define us, nor should it diminish the value of our efforts or successes. If those who need to judge must have a criteria then perhaps it should be numbers of books sold  =  the number of people who love what we've produced – oh, but then the genre writers would come out on top.

I love my chosen genre.  I love the stories, the writers, our network; the way we support, encourage and celebrate each others successes and commiserate with disappointments.  I'm proud of what we bring to the readers and to the writing community.  I don't love the way the genre has been, and occasionally still is, belittled in the media and (sadly) by non-genre writers.

I don't know how, or why, this 'class distinction' evolved but it did, and it's still here. Stephen King said that he felt his detractors took their position because he appealed to too many people. He was too popular. That certainly could be the case – those who can, sell lots of books, do. Those who  can't, try to convince everyone that it's somehow a badge of honour to be less popular.

But while it may boost some authors' egos to be seen as (in posh voice) 'a writer', do the people that really count – the readers – apply labels? Surely they just see good or bad writing, stories they love or don't.

I know as romance writers we are proud of our work and proud of the worldwide popularity of our multi-faceted genre. I'm interested to know whether you see yourself as a 'writer', a 'romance writer' or is there, in fact, no distinction? 

(Post previously published on the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild blog)

Follow Andra on her 'socials ' - Facebook - Instagram @andraashesmutmaven 
Or join her ARC group to receive pre-release copies of her books (in return for an honest review).